North Country Recreation Is Big Business

Outdoor recreation supports millions of jobs nationally and many of them are right here in the north country. Karen Johnson has a report.

In the latest statistics the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis report shows outdoor recreation is a growing and significant part of the overall American economy. It’s a more than $373 billion industry, accounting for a full 2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. So, it’s not a huge surprise the congressional district that covers much of the Adirondacks is home to a lot of outdoor recreation, but a group has found that New York’s 21st Congressional District generates an astounding $1.5 billion annually.The Outdoor Industry Association released its report for all 435 congressional districts in the U.S., and NY21 is solidly in the top 20 in terms of economic output related to outdoor pursuits. OIA’s report found that NY21 is home to dozens of outdoor recreation companies and that watersports, camping and off-roading are the most popular activities in the district, which covers the vast majority of the Adirondack Park and St. Lawrence Valley.

Increasing Efficiency At New York Social Security Offices

There’s a statewide goal to increase efficiency at local Social Security offices. Karen Johnson takes a look

Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to speed up the allocation of new funding for Social Security Administration field offices to reduce wait times for phone calls and disability claim hearings.
The Senate minority leader says that with an increasing number of baby boomers on the way to retirement, local social security field offices throughout the state could become even more swamped with answering phone calls and assisting social security recipients. Telephone wait times in some areas of the state average over 30 minutes, while the average wait time for a disability appeal to be processed is 683 days. But a significant 480 million dollar funding boost Schumer fought for is expected to change around those numbers. The good news is those numbers will mainly help out the metropolitan areas the most since the North Country reports average times in cities like Watertown are just 10 minutes and the same is true in Jefferson county. Local aging officials there would like to see additional funding for hiring additional health care aides for seniors. I’m Karen Johnson

An Anti-Pollution Grant Program Is Available To The North Country

An anti-pollution grant program is available to the North Country. Karen Johnson has more information.

According to a news release from Governor Cuomo’s office organizations in St. Lawrence County and elsewhere in NY can apply for portions of $4.5 million in Community Impact Grant funding. It will fund efforts by communities across New York disproportionately impacted by pollution and toxins. Community Impact Grants provide community-based organizations with funding for projects that address various environmental and public health concerns, with a particular focus on low-income and minority communities historically burdened by environmental problems. Funded projects include targeted research, community gardens, tree plantings, education and curriculum development, urban farming training, habitat restoration, as well as water and air quality monitoring. And for the first time in the program’s history, interested organizations can request up to $100,000 for proposed projects. I’m Karen Johnson

Franklin County Sheriff Announces Re-Election Bid

Franklin County’s Sheriff announces re-election bid. Karen Johnson has details.

Franklin County Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill is announcing he will be running for re-election in November. Mulverhill, who’s also a Malone resident, has served two terms as Franklin County Sheriff. In a press release indicating his desire to run again Mulverhill says we’ve come a long way in the past four years, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Mulverhill was first elected to the position in 2010, defeating Malone Village’s Police Chief. During his time as Sheriff, Mulverhill has served as the Chairman of the Zone 9 Counter-Terrorism Task Force and Co-Chair of the Franklin County Prevention Task Force, as well as a member of the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board, Suicide Prevention Task Force, and Franklin County Intimate Partner Violence Task Force.I’m Karen Johnson

New Green Space Coming To Canton

From contaminated space to a green space In Canton. Karen Johnson has details.

Soon work will begin to turn a contaminated site in Canton into a safe place for people to enjoy. That’s according to Kevin Acres, chairman of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators. An agreement is reached between the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund and the county to convert the site of the former Bell’s Garage into a community green space with access to the Grasse River. The announcement was made recently by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. The county and village have entered into a separate agreement as part of the deal. The plan is to raze the old garage and clean up the site on Riverside Drive. The property is considered a key link in the development of the village’s Riverside Renaissance Project, an initiative to create open space and recreation opportunities along the Grasse River as part of broader revitalization efforts. Including the development of a whitewater area for kayakers. I’m Karen Johnson.

Answers To Last-Minute Tax Filing Questions

Last minute tax questions? There’s help for that. Karen Johnson has some information.

The state Department of Taxation and Finance call center will be open until 7:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday to answer last-minute income tax filing questions through the deadline which is Tuesday April 17th for people in St. Lawrence County and around the state. “On the final two days of the income tax filing season-Monday, April 16, and Tuesday, April 17- the call center will remain open until 7:30 p.m. to answer last-minute filing questions,” says Acting Commissioner Nonie Manion. “Those with access to a computer or mobile device can quickly find answers to most questions at our website, if eligible, choose from among several free-filing options,” says Manion.The Tax Department’s call center has answered more than 316,000 tax return filing-related questions this filing season so far and expects to answer 28,000 more over the final two days before Tuesday’s deadline. Income Tax Call Center representatives can be reached by calling 518-457-5181.

Pro-Life Bill Signed By Governor Haslam

Governor Haslam has signed a pro-life bill into law. Livewire’s Karen Johnson.

Health care providers offering elective abortions in Tennessee could soon face the loss of Medicaid funding. The bill asks the federal government to give Tennessee permission to essentially cut off TennCare funding to any clinics that perform 50 or more elective abortions a year. The House Bill signed into law by Governor Haslam says it’s against Tennessee policy to use state funds to promote or support elective abortions. I’m Karen Johnson

Should Some North Country Trails Be Open To ATV Use?

Should some North Country trails be open to ATV use? Karen Johnson takes a look.

Six towns, including Canton, are being asked to open their roads to allow ATV thru-traffic from Lewis County trails into St. Lawrence County and on to Franklin County. The county request is designed to open roads to local ATV traffic while the state Department of Environmental Conservation works to establish a primary multi-use trail. And there’s criticism from some town board members. County Legislator Kevin Acres representing Canton says it’s meant to be only a temporary measure. to combine the trails of Franklin County and Lewis County. He says we’re not looking forward to or promoting something like a Snirt (Run) in Lowville where 4500 ATVs show up. That is not our intent. But adds there are people that can’t walk the trails whether they have a disability an amputated leg or whatever, so it gives them an opportunity to get out. Acres says he views the towns’ passage of local laws opening up their roads as “motivation” for the DEC to move ahead formalizing the multi-use trail system and hopefully drive the economics of the county’s tourism and hospitality industry. I’m Karen Johnson

Senior Planet Program Spared In The North Country

An internet friendly course for seniors in the North Country is spared from the cutting room floor. Karen Johnson has details.

Thanks to Assemblyman D. Billy Jones a popular series of Malone Adult Center Classes at risk of being cancelled are spared in the budget. The Senior Planet program regularly provides free technology education classes to residents over 60 at the center. Jones indicated the importance of the program to the well-being of local seniors, also remarking on the ever-growing need for technology skills in the internet world. Franklin County Office for the Aging Director Becky Preve notes that the Senior Planet program is important because on the first day of class this week two spring iPad training courses, are registered to capacity. The North-Country Senior Planet program began three years ago in Plattsburgh and represents one of only two such programs in the state. In addition to the new and continuing community-based classes, Senior Planet also plans to expand its “@Home” outreach program, which provides one-on-one technology education to those who are mobility-impaired or otherwise unable to leave their homes. I’m Karen Johnson

Ft. Drum Training Exercises Visible In The North Country

There will a time of shock and awe during the “Falcon’s Peak” helicopter training exercise affecting part of the North Country. Karen Johnson has a report.

The “Falcon’s Peak” helicopter training exercise out of Ft. Drum is running through Wednesday, April 18, and will affect the Saranac Lake, Cranberry Lake, Carthage and Lowville areas. Troops will begin their exercises around Routes 11 and 3 then deploy east and northeast to areas in New York and Camp Ethan Allen, Vt. Army Aviation forces will begin leaving these eastern locations to “fight” their way back into Fort Drum. On the ground, 10th Mountain Division’s Artillery experts will use simulators to mimic modern air defense systems. Col. Gill says the simulators look similar to shoulder-fired missiles. When residents see soldiers pointing these simulators up at the helicopters, it should not be a cause for distress. And, unlike usual Fort Drum traffic, soldiers will be flying lower than normal to evade the simulators’ detection. For the brief moments of each pass, locals may sight close aircraft. The combination of long distance travel, difficult terrain and simulated air defense systems will push soldiers to navigate “near-peer” threats. It poses them to face enemies who may carry systems as advanced as the U.S. military. There is a phone line open for anyone with questions. It’s 315-772-1048. I’m Karen Johnson.