Big Plans For Potsdam Library Proposals

The Potsdam Public Library is seeking proposals for renovations for the building that is 90 years old. Karen Johnson has a report.

The proposal must include the library’s four goals: to reduce noise transfer by creating an enclosed children’s area, to increase capacity for classes and events by adding a larger classroom, to increase privacy for computer users, and to add more space for comfortable seating. Before proposals for the project are even due, on Aug. 22, the library hopes to receive a grant from the state that would help pay for the construction. The grant is called the New York State Library Construction Grant and would involve the library matching up to 50 percent of the money provided. The library applied for $360,000 and expects that they would have to match 33 percent of it.
Library Director Annie Chase hopes the upgrades will transform the building into what sociologist Ray Oldenberg’s calls the “third place.” The first two spaces are where you live and where you work; the third is where you socialize. I’m Karen Johnson.

Solving Crimes Together In The North Country

Several North Country jurisdictions are partnering to solve crimes. Karen Johnson has a report.

Soon, St. Lawrence County will begin information sharing with the North Country Crime Analysis Center in Malone now that the two have signed a memorandum of understanding.According to the resolution the center was established to develop and produce a “comprehensive picture of crime incidents though in-depth crime analysis, pattern identification, incident mapping, emerging crime trend recognition and other related activities.” The resolution says the NCCAC would like to “partner with the probation department for information sharing of data among the law enforcement community though the caseload explorer database of the probation department.” The North Country Center serves a large geographic area of more than 9,400 square miles that borders Canada and includes the sovereign St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which straddles ?Northeastern New York’s border with Quebec and Ontario. I’m Karen Johnson.

New Contender For Potsdam Town Council

There’s a new contender for a spot on the Potsdam town Council. Karen Johnson reports.

Her name is 26 year old Toni Kennedy, a Democrat. She’s, has submitted a petition to run in the September primary for a seat on the Potsdam Town Council. In her campaign announcement she says she is running because “her age group is not represented on the Potsdam Town Council.” However, Councilor Sarah Lister, who took office in January, is 28 years old. Kennedy is running against Democrat incumbent Jim Grant. Kennedy adds in an emailed statement, “I was really inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who showed the world that if you really want to get into politics, just do it.” Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens), a 28-year-old waitress, garnered an upset Democratic primary victory over Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the 14th Congressional District in New York City.”Besides their age, both candidates share similar progressive values and energy. Toni Kennedy is a registered nurse at Northern Lights as well as serving as a board member on the Potsdam Central School PTA. She most recently volunteered for Patrick Nelson (D-Stillwater) on his run for Congress, and for Senator (Bernie) Sanders (I-Vermont) in 2016 for President. I’m Karen Johnson

Controversy Over New Health Benefits for Volunteer Firefighters

Not everyone agees with the new health benefits for North Country volunteer firefighters. Karen Johnson

Expanded cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters in New York State supposed to take effect at the beginning of next year has some local officials concerned about the timeline of the state regulations’ development. The state Legislature passed an amendment to the state’s Volunteer Firefighter’s Benefits Law (VFBL) last summer, with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signing the bill into law last October. The new benefit’s language covers “lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive systems, or melanoma cancer” diagnoses that arise from firefighting activities. Firefighters diagnosed with those cancers are eligible for $25,000 lump sum payments if there is proof of “one or more malignant tumors characterized by the uncontrollable and abnormal growth and spread of malignant cells with invasion of normal tissue.” For smaller forms of cancer, claimant volunteer firefighters are instead eligible for a $6,250 payment. State agencies are currently working on guidelines for how to evaluate coverage claims. Some local officials say that they have concerns about the new bill. At a Constable Town Board meeting in June, Town Board member Clyde Wilson referred to the requirement to specifically purchase cancer insurance as “another unfunded state mandate.” And Westville Town Supervisor Rod Lauzon has expressed concerns about the impact of the added coverage on municipal budgets — particularly in small towns like Westville that struggle constantly to stay under the state-imposed cap on property tax increases. The proposed changes are still in the discussion phase. I’m Karen Johnson.

Concerns About Blight In The North Country

Could blight be making a return to the North Country? Karen Johnson has a report.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball is urging home gardeners in St. Lawrence County and around the state, including greenhouse growers, and vegetable farmers to look for and report any suspicions of late blight in their tomato and potato plants and crops this summer. Late blight is a plant disease that has the potential to cause devastation to these crops, infecting and destroying the leaves, stems, fruits, and tubers of potato and tomato plants. Several horticulture reports have been written this year in the North Country related to blight, a serious plant disease that can wreak havoc on the state’s tomato and potato industry, which ranks high nationally in production according to Commissioner Ball said. Reports of it should be forwarded to the Agriculture Commission. Late blight was discovered on some tomato plants in the North Country in late June. The last time blight was detected in the U.S. was in the 1840’s. I’m Karen Johnson.

New Senior Care Program Rolls Out In Sullivan County

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office will begin taking applications for a new program keeping an eye on senior residents living alone. LW’s Karen Johnson

Sheriff Wayne Anderson is announcing plans for Silver Care- an initiative the provides a daily call to those individuals while making sure they do not fall prey to scams, are abused by caregivers or are victims of theft.The report says eligible participants must be age 65 and older and have some kind of physical disability. A member’s neighbor will be designated to check on the person if the officer’s call is not answered. An officer will then be sent to the home if neither person can be contacted, the report said.

Nursing Homes Reports Show Inadequate Staffing Even In the North Country

There’s an instance in the North Country that may prove nursing homes are fudging their staff numbers in federal government reports? Karen Johnson reports.

According to new federal data, most nursing homes had fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they had reported to the government for years. It bolsters the long-held suspicions of many families that staffing levels were often inadequate. For the first time the records reveal frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends. On the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest. The data, analyzed by Kaiser Health News, come from daily payroll records Medicare only recently began gathering and publishing from more than 14,000 nursing homes, as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The payroll records provide the strongest evidence that over the last decade, the government’s 5-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified the periods of thin staffing that were common. At the Beechtree Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing in Ithaca Jay Vandemark, 47, who had a stroke last year, says he often roams the halls looking for an aide not already swamped with work when he needs help putting on his shirt. Nearly 1.4 million people are cared for in skilled nursing facilities in the United States. I’m Karen Johnson

An Appellate Court Overturns A Saranac Lake Woman’s Guilty Plea

A new court decision in the criminal case of a Saranac Lake Woman who pleaded guilty. Karen Johnson reports.

A state appellate court has overturned the criminal contempt convictions of Emily Sears, a Saranac Lake woman — even though she had pleaded guilty to the charges — after determining that a village police officer conducted an improper search of her residence.
The five-judge appellate panel ordered the misdemeanor charges against Sears be returned to Franklin County Court for “further proceedings not inconsistent with this Court’s decision.” The panel also dismissed a violation of probation petition filed in connection with the same incident. It all began when Sears was charged with first-degree criminal contempt, a felony, after an Aug. 2015, police search of her home found a person she was prohibited from having any contact with by an order of protection there. She pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal contempt and was sentenced on Nov. 1, 2016, to 180 days in the Franklin County Jail. Because the only evidence of Sears’ violation of probation came from the unlawful search, that determination must also be reversed according to the decision. I’m Karen Johnson

No More Meal Shaming For Kids In Massena Schools

No more meal shaming for kids in the Massena Central School District. Karen Johnson has a report.

A modified meal charging policy is now in effect to comply with an amendment to state education law that was included in the governor’s 2018-19 executive budget. It means students who have unpaid meal charges will no longer be provided an alternative meal, such as a cheese or peanut butter sandwich. Instead, they will receive the same entree as the other students. The change is reflected in the new subject line of the school’s policy – “Meal Charging and Prohibition Against Meal Shaming.” Under the amendment to education law, all public, non-public and charter schools that required students to pay for a school breakfast and/or lunch had to develop a written plan to make sure that a student whose parent or guardian had unpaid meal charges was not shamed or treated differently than a student whose parent or guardian did not have unpaid school meal charges. Charging for items outside the reimbursable meals, such as a la carte items, is prohibited.
The change became effective a year ago and has to meet with local approval. I’m Karen Johnson

Black Bears Are Roaming Around Human Spaces In The North Country

With the beginning of summer comes the regular sighting of black bears in the North Country especially in St. Lawrence County. Here are some safety tips. Karen Johnson reports.

According to the Department of Environmental Conservation as black bears become increasingly active there are steps to avoid encounters with bears looking for food sources. In recent weeks, DEC says they have received “numerous reports” of bears entering suburban areas, breaking into buildings and vehicles, and approaching camp sites in efforts to obtain food.The DEC says conflicts typically increase this time of year due to the dispersal of young bears from family groups, the onset of the breeding season, and a lull in natural food availability prior to the ripening of local berries. The DEC says Bears will take advantage of anything they consider a food source as they travel, adding to the potential for conflict. The most common are poorly stored garbage, bird feeders, messy grills, and pet food left outdoors. Once a bear finds these foods, it will often continue to return to the area. In addition, The DEC says bears that become used to gathering food near human spaces will sometimes break into homes or vehicles to get food. I’m Karen Johnson