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NCPR News Staff: Zach Hirsch

Reporter and Producer

Zach Hirsch has a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University of Vermont. He got his radio training at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, MA.
 
As a senior at UVM, Zach carried out a yearlong, ethnographic investigation on the handling of so-called street people in downtown Burlington. He won honors for his thesis, but he felt that the final report was too academic. So he made the paper more accessible by translating it into stories and interviews. Those were his first radio pieces.

Zach left Burlington after college for the Transom program. In Woods Hole, he was among an elite group of nine, learning the ropes from award-winning journalists and documentarians. While at the program, he reported on the psychological aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. His profile of two survivors was at the center of an hour-long discussion on WCAI's The Point. Zach's work has also aired on NPR's Weekend Edition, Public Radio Remix, the HowSound podcast, WFUV, and New Hampshire Public Radio.

Stories filed by Zach Hirsch

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Photo: <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f2/Heroin_aufkochen.JPG">Hendrike</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Hendrike, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

"First ever" statewide heroin database in the works

Another development in the epidemic of North Country heroin abuse: On Wednesday, police caught a man with 60 grams of heroin, driving near Gouverneur. As the Watertown Daily Times reports, Elvis Pigott of Massena allegedly had about $20,000-worth of the drug.

Police arrested Pigott in the town of Fowler. According to the Times, the bust was part of an undercover operation into heroin trafficking by the St. Lawrence County Drug Task Force.

Pigott's charged with third-degree criminal possession with intent to sell, among other charges. The arrest involved multiple, local police departments, working together with the help of federal agents.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.lethbridge.ca/living-here/getting-around/Transit/PublishingImages/Need%20Work.JPG">Lethbridge Transit</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Lethbridge Transit, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

North Country unemployment is down, but it's complicated

On Monday, the state Department of Labor said unemployment in New York is down to its lowest level since December 2008. This news is good, but it's complicated.

Elsewhere on the unemployment front: Since last year, the long-term unemployed - people out of work for more than 26 weeks - have been trying to get by without help from the government. There used to be assistance for people caught in the rut of long-term unemployment. But Congress didn't include jobless insurance when it passed the budget in December.  Go to full article
Louise Gava, Coordinator of Sustainability Projects at St. Lawrence University, talks strategy with SLU ReUse employees and volunteers. Photo: Zach Hirsch
Louise Gava, Coordinator of Sustainability Projects at St. Lawrence University, talks strategy with SLU ReUse employees and volunteers. Photo: Zach Hirsch

SLU crew rescues graduation goodies

It's graduation season, and all over the country there's a mass exodus out of the dorms. Students often leave a lot of stuff behind - things like futons, lamps, TVs, and other items that are difficult to pack.

At St. Lawrence University, one group is trying to rescue those items before they get tossed in the dumpster. SLU ReUse salvages, donates, and resells students' leftovers. They've even opened a small thrift store on campus.

Zach Hirsch tagged along with the SLU ReUse team on the big senior move-out day, and he produced this audio postcard.  Go to full article
Ronald Braunstein, Me2/orchestra's music director and co-founder, leading a rehearsal in September 2013. Photo: John Siddle
Ronald Braunstein, Me2/orchestra's music director and co-founder, leading a rehearsal in September 2013. Photo: John Siddle

At Me2/orchestra, "acceptance is really the norm"

In Burlington, a unique group - Me2 ("me, too") - is using music to help people with mental illness (roughly one in four adults has a diagnosable disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.)

Me2 calls itself "the world's only" orchestra of its kind. The organization blurs the lines between public education, therapy, and musicianship. The story of Me2 begins with its music director, Ronald Braunstein.  Go to full article
Papayas in Hawaii have been genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. Photo: <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/Papaya_sunset.jpg">USDA</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Papayas in Hawaii have been genetically engineered to resist the ringspot virus. Photo: USDA, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Big agribusiness fights GMO labeling in New York

Advocates of labeling genetically modified crops (GMOs, or genetically modified organisms) recently made some progress in New York State. Last week, a labeling bill moved forward in the State Assembly committee system. Now, the bill's opponents in the agriculture industry are fighting back. This after Vermont passed the first GMO labeling law in the nation last week.

Food companies say modifying a crop's DNA is not dangerous. And the majority of scientific research supports that claim, according to a recent report from the Associated Press. But many people say consumers should still have a right to know whether the foods they buy contain GMOs.  Go to full article
Dr. Paul Bowser of Cornell University holds a muskellunge impacted by the VHS virus. Photo: Bowser Lab/Cornell University
Dr. Paul Bowser of Cornell University holds a muskellunge impacted by the VHS virus. Photo: Bowser Lab/Cornell University

Muskies recovering on the St. Lawrence River

Now that it's warming up, more and more people are going fishing. A lot of anglers have their eyes on muskellunge, or muskies. Muskies are popular for their size, and their ability to put up a fight.

"I've never been muskie fishing. But I know a lot of people that do, and I guess hooking into one of these fish is quite an experience! I guess it would be analogous to catching a torpedo," says David MacNeill, a fisheries specialist at New York Sea Grant, which is funding research on muskies.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://wilpf.org/files/image_3.jpg">WILPF</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: WILPF, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

New York is on the path to labeling GMOs, too

Today, Vermont will become the first state to enact a GMO labeling law. Many people want New York to follow suit. Foods with GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are tweaked for certain characteristics, like disease resistance or size. GMOs are already on the market, in crops like soybean and corn.

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat from New York City, is the lead sponsor of the New York GMO labeling bill. "The bill, actually, is a consumer right-to-know bill. Because people who purchase food for themselves and their family should know and want to know," Rosenthal said yesterday on the public radio program Capitol Pressroom.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/garysoup/367513235/">Gary Stevens</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Gary Stevens, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Massena responds to dirty needle discoveries

Massena's chief of police, Tim Currier, says he is looking into programs that would encourage safe disposal of used syringes. The syringes are a biohazard; sometimes they transmit diseases like Hepatitis C or HIV.

Last month, Massena police officers responded to 11 calls from people who found used syringes in public: in a park, near a school, and on Main Street.  Go to full article
Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/marine_corps/8245135160/">United States Marine Corps</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Toys for Tots is a national program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Photo: United States Marine Corps, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Possible letdown for needy St. Lawrence Co. children

There's a chance the Toys for Tots program won't be able to help kids in need in St. Lawrence County this holiday season. Last year, Toys for Tots made Christmas a little brighter for more than 6,000 kids in the county.

Toys for Tots is a national charity, run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. Each holiday season, the volunteer staff organizes toy drives and gives presents to needy children.

This year, it's complicated. Raymond Cutway, the longtime coordinator for the county, is stepping down. And the organization is having trouble finding someone to take his place.  Go to full article
Photo: Antique Boat Museum
Photo: Antique Boat Museum

A taste of country music fame at Clayton's Antique Boat Museum

Every year, the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is closed all through the winter. This Friday, the museum brings spring to the Thousand Islands with a new schedule.

And visitors this year will get a little taste of country music fame, from a southern star with a strong connection to the North Country.  Go to full article

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