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People gathered at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center for a rally and meeting with state officials earlier this year. Photo: Julie Grant
People gathered at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center for a rally and meeting with state officials earlier this year. Photo: Julie Grant

Ogdensburg Psych Center to lose under state plan

This story has been updated to reflect additional reporting.
New York is out with its plan to "transform the public mental health system."(pdf) The announcement came in a press release this afternoon from the state office of Mental Health in Albany.

Local attention has been focused on how the plan would treat the psychiatric center in Ogdensburg. According to the Watertown Daily Times, children and adult services will be moved to the Utica and Syracuse area (for a more thorough description, see page 43 of the document linked above -- the Ogdensburg facility is listed under "Central New York").  Go to full article
Fort Drum Garrison Commander Colonel Gary Rosenberg said soldiers and their family members, the post's civilian workforce, and and the community surrounding Fort Drum all will feel the effects of mandatory employee furloughs over the next 11 weeks. Photo: Joanna Richards
Fort Drum Garrison Commander Colonel Gary Rosenberg said soldiers and their family members, the post's civilian workforce, and and the community surrounding Fort Drum all will feel the effects of mandatory employee furloughs over the next 11 weeks. Photo: Joanna Richards

Fort Drum civilian worker furloughs begin

Civilian employee furloughs start at Fort Drum this week, as part of the federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Non-uniformed workers face one mandatory unpaid day off each week for 11 weeks. About 1,800 workers - and many services on post - are affected.  Go to full article
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki greets a patient at the new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Center at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. Photo: Joanna Richards
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki greets a patient at the new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Center at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. Photo: Joanna Richards

Syracuse VA hospital marks 60th anniversary

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki was in Syracuse last week, to mark the 60th anniversary of the city's VA Medical Center. He also helped to formally open a new Spinal Cord Injury and Disorder Center.  Go to full article
Adirondack Health CEO Chandler Ralph, center, at a public meeting May 1 on the proposed conversion of the Adirondack Medical Center-Lake Placid emergency room to an urgent care center, held at Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Stan Urban, left, is chair of Adirondack Health's Board of Trustees; to the right is Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Broderick. Photo: Chris Knight via <a href="http://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/page/content.detail/id/536726/Crowd-shouts-down-Lake-Placid-ER-plan.html">Adirondack Daily Enterprise</a>
Adirondack Health CEO Chandler Ralph, center, at a public meeting May 1 on the proposed conversion of the Adirondack Medical Center-Lake Placid emergency room to an urgent care center, held at Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Stan Urban, left, is chair of Adirondack Health's Board of Trustees; to the right is Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Broderick. Photo: Chris Knight via Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Plan to close Lake Placid ER faces harsh criticism

Adirondack Health will host the second of two public meetings tonight on a controversial plan to convert the emergency room at its Lake Placid hospital to an urgent care center.

At the first meeting last week, representatives of the Saranac Lake-based hospital faced a hostile crowd. Many people said the change would leave the community vulnerable and put a strain on the emergency medical service system. Adirondack health officials say a decision could come at the end of the month.  Go to full article
Syracuse-area job losses. Infographic: <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/04/18-job-sprawl-kneebone">Brookings Institution report</a>
Syracuse-area job losses. Infographic: Brookings Institution report

Most upstate cities losing jobs

There's been a steady flow of jobs away from America's city downtowns for the first decade of this century. Some of upstate New York's cities are bucking the trend, but not all.  Go to full article
Chicago Transit Authority #6731, a Nova LFS bus. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/zolk/4749440584/">Kevin Zolkiewicz</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Chicago Transit Authority #6731, a Nova LFS bus. Photo: Kevin Zolkiewicz, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Plattsburgh's Nova Bus plant wins $148m contract

Nova Bus in Plattsburgh has won another big contract to assemble 300 new vehicles for Chicago's Transit Authority. That's according to an announcement yesterday from Congressman Bill Owens.

The deal will bring the Canadian company roughly $148 million in new business.  Go to full article
Advocates for New York State's hungry rally at the Capitol in Nov., 2012 for an increase in the state's minimum wage. Some social services agencies are concerned about a wage hike. Photo: Karen DeWitt
Advocates for New York State's hungry rally at the Capitol in Nov., 2012 for an increase in the state's minimum wage. Some social services agencies are concerned about a wage hike. Photo: Karen DeWitt

Minimum wage hike pinches social service budgets

As state lawmakers and Governor Cuomo finalize the state budget, it looks like New York will raise the minimum wage gradually over three years.

Under the emerging agreement, the current $7.25 hourly minimum wage would increase to $8 an hour in January, to $8.75 at the beginning of 2015, and reach $9 an hour by the end of 2015.

If it happens, it would mean a wage jump of 24 percent in three years. Business leaders have expressed concern about the increased costs, while labor unions, religious, and anti-hunger groups are pushing for the hike.

Social services agencies in the North Country say increasing the minimum wage could help some people, but it also gives them reasons for concern.  Go to full article
The post-9/11 GI Bill has opened the door for veterans like Josh Jones (seen here in his dorm room at Paul Smiths College) to go back to college. Photo: Mark Kurtz
The post-9/11 GI Bill has opened the door for veterans like Josh Jones (seen here in his dorm room at Paul Smiths College) to go back to college. Photo: Mark Kurtz

New GI bill helps vets pivot to civilian life

This week in recognition of Veterans Day, North Country Public Radio has been looking at the struggles of young veterans returning home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many have come back to a sour economy, with few good jobs. For veterans under the age of 25, unemployment still hovers around 30 percent.

One of most ambitious efforts to help service members restart their lives has been the post-9/11 GI Bill, which offers financial aid for those soldiers who want to go back to college or a trade school.  Go to full article
[This is a] very important step toward...retaining hundreds of jobs in the North Country.

NY State praises Ticonderoga company for switching to natural gas

State officials in New York are praising International Paper for converting the company's mill in Ticonderoga from oil to natural gas.

IP plans to use natural gas supplied by a company in Vermont, using a pipeline that will be laid under the water of Lake Champlain.

In a statement issued yesterday, Empire State Development Commissioner Ken Adams called the move a "very important step toward securing the company's presence in the region and retaining hundreds of jobs in the North Country."

Natural gas is cheaper than oil and produces fewer emissions. The pipeline under Lake Champlain will require approval by regulatory agencies.  Go to full article
Wall Street. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpellgen/">jpellgen</a>, CC <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en">some rights reserved</a>
Wall Street. Photo: jpellgen, CC some rights reserved

NY comptroller sees mixed year on Wall Street

Profits on Wall Street are going to be up this year, according to a new report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. But he says they're still below their pre-recession highs.

The report also finds fewer job losses in the securities industry, but still many economic uncertainties ahead.  Go to full article

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