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NCPR News Staff: David Sommerstein
News Reporter and Producer

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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

NYPA Speaks to Local Business Leaders

With the New York Power Authority and St. Lawrence County groups waging a public relations battle over the St. Lawrence power project relicensing deal, the county Chamber of Commerce is giving both sides a chance to sway local business leaders. At Clarkson University's Cheel Center yesterday, it was the Power Authority's turn to present its case. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

"Save The River" on Changes in St Lawrence Ecology

As David Sommerstein reports, John Farrell, president of Save the River, a citizen action group protecting the St. Lawrence, and a researcher at Syracuse University's College of Environmental Science and Forestry, talks about the effects the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project has had on shoreline ecology on the St. Lawrence.  Go to full article

NYPA Relicensing, Part 3: The Future of Hydropower Relicensing

When the New York Power Authority began the process of relicensing its St. Lawrence power project for another 50 years of operation, it tried to be a good neighbor and invited all the stakeholders to get involved: environmentalists who wanted to improve fish habitat; boaters who wanted better docks; host communities that want compensation for their lands that were lost and flooded nearly fifty years ago. For many, relicensing has represented a once in a lifetime opportunity to right past wrongs. In the final part of David Sommerstein's series on relicensing the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project, this cooperative approach is breaking new ground nationwide. If it works, it could set a new standard for hundreds of other relicensing efforts slated for the next ten years.  Go to full article

NYPA Relicensing, Part 2: Taking a Risk

Drive along the St. Lawrence between Ogdensburg and Massena and you'll see a mosaic of public and private property. Beautiful riverside homes sit next to state picnic areas and town beaches. New York Power Authority marinas and recreation areas share the shoreline with Mohawk tribal lands. These diverse interests share one thing in common: the water in the wide St. Lawrence and 37 miles of its shoreline are used to make two million kilowatts of electricity at the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project near Massena. Nearly fifty years ago, the project flooded thousands of acres of marshes, farms, businesses, and houses. A series of public meetings began almost five years ago to hear from stakeholders looking for compensation as the New York Power Authority seeks a license to operate the project for another 50 years. After all the bargaining, when the Power Authority released a draft of its application in January, some groups cried foul and accused the Power Authority of not negotiating in good faith. In part 2 of David Sommerstein's series on the relicensing, local groups are stepping up their struggle to get a settlement they can live with for half a century, but in doing so, they risk losing what they've already been offered.  Go to full article

NYPA Relicensing, Part 1: The Lay of the Land and Water

In 1954, over 6,000 workers and their families came to Massena from all over the country to work on the St. Lawrence. Their boss was New York's "Master Builder" Robert Moses. His goal was to harness the force of one of North America's greatest rivers, a main artery carrying the largest store of fresh water in the world to the Atlantic Ocean. The St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project was the largest public works project in the world. The power project's 50 year operation license expires in 2003. In the intervening years since it went on-line, our values regarding public and private lands, the environment, and historical preservation have changed dramatically. The New York Power Authority faces challenges in getting a new license that Robert Moses would likely have considered trivial. Over the next three days, we'll look at the Power Authority's relicensing struggles. Today, David Sommerstein takes a trip deep into the inner workings of the Robert Moses Power Dam itself to see how it all works... and how it changed the river valley forever.  Go to full article

History of the St. Lawrence Seaway Power Project

David Sommerstein spoke with St. Lawrence County historian Trent Trulock about the project.  Go to full article

St. Lawrence Relicensing Task Force Prepares an Endgame Strategy

The task force representing St. Lawrence County and its communities in the relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project began preparing its endgame strategy for negotiations with the New York Power Authority. After taking criticism for keeping talks behind closed doors in the past, the task force held a public meeting in Waddington last night. As David Sommerstein reports, as the deadline approaches, the group may be opening its tent to more interests to improve its bargaining position.  Go to full article

Chief Ransom Goes to Washington

We've been hearing a lot in the news about changes in our federal government that accompany the transfer of power from one president's administration to another. How Janet Reno enforced the law, for example, under President Clinton will be very different from John Ashcroft's approach as Attorney General. Such is the situation for all of the federal agencies. Each year, a coalition of 24 native tribes, called the United South and Eastern Tribes, convene in Washington, DC to craft an agenda for native issues for the year. It's called Impact Week, and with a new administration bringing a different approach to issues ranging from native land claims to environmental protection, this year's meeting was especially important. Akwesasne Chief Alma Ransom was a part of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe's Impact Week delegation. She recently returned from Washington and spoke with David Sommerstein about Impact Week.  Go to full article

St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties Collaborate on Transportation Issues

St. Lawrence County leaders took the show on the road earlier this week to enlist neighboring lawmakers in North Country transportation projects, including a "rooftop highway." David Sommerstein has more.  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: