Jul 22, 2008 — The cold seems a long way away, but across the North Country, communities are already planning ahead for the impact of high heating bills this winter. The cost of heating oil, natural gas, and kerosene could force many people to choose between food or medicine, and warmth. In Potsdam, a group of civic leaders wants to prepare for the winter, too. But they're also looking far beyond. If energy prices continue to rise, how will that change what we eat, where we live, work, and play? Will we be able to heat our schools and churches all winter? How will police and emergency responders have to change? Potsdam police chief John Kaplan, Clarkson University professor Bill Vitek, and others are convening a meeting on August 20th. They've invited a broad range of community leaders, representing government, emergency responders, the hospital, educators, churches, and fuel providers. Vitek specializes in sustainability and energy issues. He told David Sommerstein the idea is to get people to think about what author Jim Kuntsler calls "the long emergency".