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NCPR News Staff: David Sommerstein
News Reporter and Producer

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EPA to Review Chatham Permit

Half a year after state and county officials gave Chatham Forest Products the go-ahead to build a chipboard plant in northwestern St. Lawrence County, federal regulators are going to review the factory's air pollution permit. As David Sommerstein reports, the action stems from the efforts of a local activist.  Go to full article

Clarkson Makes Science Come Alive in Area Schools

In the 1990s a National Science Foundation study found that U.S. middle schoolers lag behind their peers in other countries in science and math preparation. The findings provoked national concern that U.S. students will be ill prepared to compete in the high-tech global economy. Many educators believe the problem is that students need to be more involved in real scientific inquiry, solving dilemmas they find in the world around them. David Sommerstein reports on two Clarkson University programs in local schools that are giving kids hands-on experience in the world of science.  Go to full article

St. Lawrence County Asks New York for Better Cancer Data

After giving the state over a year to deliver, St. Lawrence County lawmakers are preparing to renew their request for more detailed data on cancer rates in the county. Early statistics show North Country counties have some of the highest rates of cancer in the state. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Breaking the Ice on the St. Lawrence Seaway

With so much snow still on the ground, spring can seem a long way off. But on the frigid St. Lawrence there is a sign of the warm days to come. Huge icebreakers are clearing a path for the international freighters that use the Seaway nine months of the year. After a long winter, the interior of North America will soon re-open to the Atlantic Ocean, and the rest of the world. David Sommerstein climbed aboard the Robinson Bay for one of the tugboat's first missions of the season--breaking ice in the canal between Eisenhower and Snell Locks near Massena.  Go to full article

Playwright Maria Irene Fornes Performs Works at American Identities Festival

David Sommerstein talks with avant-garde playwright Maria Irene Fornes. The SUNY Potsdam Dance and Drama Department will perform two of her plays as a part of the America 2000 celebration. Promenade will run March 29-31st, and Tango Palace debuts April 24th. SUNY Potsdam's American Identities Festival kicks off tomorrow with dozens of exhibits, performances, and lectures.  Go to full article

NYPA Supports Excluding Lisbon From Power Project Boundaries

The new relicensing team for the New York Power Authority is making good on its promise to be more sensitive to the concerns of local communities. NYPA is asking the federal government for approval to drop the town of Lisbon from the St. Lawrence Power Project boundaries. David Sommerstein reports the new-found cooperation may have come from political pressure.  Go to full article

St. Regis Mohawks Divided over Competing Casino Plans

Plans for a downstate casino are stirring up years of internal strife for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. The tribal council has ordered a dissident court to disband or be ejected from the reservation. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Corps to Study Navigation Improvements in Great Lakes

After a period of public comment, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking into navigational improvements for the entire Great Lakes system. The study could result in improvements to ports, docks, and shipping channels in the 5 lakes and along the St. Lawrence River. As David Sommerstein reports, it could also pose a threat to the marine ecosystem.  Go to full article

Jose Kusugak, Inuit Tapirisat: From Snow Age to Space Age

The Inuit people populate a huge swath of land from Alaska in the West, across Canada to the Atlantic Ocean, and East to Greenland. Despite the broad territory, they speak a common language, Inuktitut. In 1993, over twenty years of land claims with the Canadian Government resulted in new territories and self-government for the Inuit. A new province called "Nunavut", located north of Ontario and Quebec, joined Canada in 1999. St. Lawrence University is featuring Inuit and Nunavut Culture as the theme for this year's Festival of the Arts. Jose Kusugak, president of the Inuit Tapirisat, the advocacy organization for the Inuit in Canadian government, visited Canton to kick off the festival. When the land claim movement began in the early '70s, Kusugak was travelling the Inuit territories to learn more about the various dialects in the Inuit language. He discovered that people in the isolated towns he visited didn't understand the purpose of the land claims. He told David Sommerstein that he needed to shift his mission to teach the political implications of the talks with the Canadian government.

St. Lawrence University's Festival of the Arts is called "From Nanook to Nunavut: The art and politics of representing Inuit culture" Presentations of Inuit art, literature, music, and dance will run through March 7.  Go to full article

New Fiber Optic Cable for the North Country

The Development Authority of the North Country will lay over 300 miles of fiber optic cable along Interstate 87 and Route 11. As David Sommerstein reports, the speedy telecommunication lines will make the region more attractive to high-tech industries, but the project is still a few years from becoming reality.  Go to full article

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David Sommerstein, NCPR's roving St. Lawrence Valley/Fort Drum/Tug Hill reporter, began his career in radio, strangely enough, as a high school Spanish teacher in Buffalo. While drilling verb conjugations and teaching a love for Latino culture during the day, he sat in as a late night jazz and Latin DJ at Buffalo's NPR affiliate, WBFO. The radio bug bit, and David found his way to southern Colorado/northern New Mexico (the Taos/Santa Fe area) where he was Program Director, Music Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and "Just About Anything Else You Can Think Of" Director at NPR affiliate KRZA. Since joining NCPR's news department, David has reported from the chilly deck of a St. Lawrence icebreaker, the power-chord filled stage of the High School Rock Band Festival, and the tense Albanian street market of post-war Kosovo with soldiers from Fort Drum. David also gets to fulfill his passion for music of all kinds when he spins world dance and groove music on editions of The Beat Authority. E-mail

Recent David Sommerstein stories carried by NPR: