Archives for June 2017

Watertown Has A New Boat Launch

Watertown has a new boat launch that’s been anticipated for quite awhile. Karen Johnson has the story.

Crews installed a new concrete slab Wednesday that will allow the village to reopen its public boat launch, after weeks of closures due to high waters on Lake Ontario. Sackets Harbor Mayor Vincent Battista says we thought it’d be a wise use of 15-thousand dollars to allow our residents and visitors to have access to the lake. The launch at West Main Street had been closed for weeks as the primary concrete boundary of the launch has been submerged. The standing water concealed the sharp metal edge of the launch, raising safety concerns. Workers could be seen installing the 72 feet of concrete, with village Department of Public Works crews coming in afterward to make the final connections from the shore to the slab. Watertown village officials say the timing of the installation was important, for this weekend’s Made in New York Festival at Madison Barracks, and the July 4 fireworks at the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site. I’m Karen Johnson.

School superintendent receives contract extension

The Malone School Superintendent will be sticking around for a few more years. The school board approved a contract extension until June of 2022 for Superintendent Jerry Griffin. He will not get a pay raise with the new contract. Griffin has been with Malone schools since 2013, when he replaced Wayne Walbridge. Griffin says he loves Malone and that he’s grateful for the opportunity to stay in a “tough but rewarding job.”

Citizen Advocates launches Summer Feeding Program

The Summer Feeding Program from Citizen Advocates is now underway. 600 meals will be prepared every day and then distributed throughout northern Franklin County. This week, hungry kids can get a free lunch at the Chateaugay Rec Park and at the Owls Head Methodist Church from 11 until noon, or you can get reakfast and lunch are served at Families ‘R Us and the Malone YMCA. More locations will be added over the next two weeks, with the program ending August 18th. Menus are subject to change, but generally include milk, juice, fruit, cereal or muffin for breakfast, and sandwiches, wraps, juice, milk, chips, vegetables or fruit for lunch.

Zinc Mine Opening in North Country

A North Country mining company is gearing up for business. Karen Johnson reports.

Two dozen people now work at the former St. Lawrence Zinc Co. mine site which is under new ownership and still on track to begin production by the end of this year.The new hires include a general manager and six of seven department heads. Located on Sylvia Lake Road, the mine is now called Empire State Mines and is a subsidiary of Titan Mining Corporation in Toronto. Titan’s Chief Operating Officer says we’re just going ahead and building our team to start up the mine. Department head jobs that have been filled include a chief engineer, a chief geologist, a safety director, human resource director, controller and production manager. Eventually, up to 150 employees are expected to work at the mine. The mine has been closed since 2008 when a previous owner, HudBay Minerals Inc. shut it down when zinc prices dropped. I’m Karen Johnson.

Selection Process Underway For New Town Supervisor

Malone’s former town clerk and budget officer is chosen as the Republican Party’s candidate for town supervisor. Karen Johnson has more details.

Voters at the local party’s caucus last night supported Andrea Stewart. Following the vote Stewart said she looks forward to an active, spirited campaign. Stewart received 66 out of 67 votes at the caucus, running unopposed. She said that she was pleased and honored” by the support shown by local party members. Stewart said that she hopes to bring her 30 years of experience in town government operations to bear as an asset for the town of Malone. Stewart also stressed her support for the town Highway Department and the 110 miles of roadway in Malone. The incumbent Malone town supervisor, a Democrat announced in January he wouldn’t be seeking re-election this year. I’m Karen Johnson.

A Watertown Businessman Could Face Decades In Prison

A Watertown businessman is soon to be sentenced for millions of dollars in fraud. Karen Johnson has a report.

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Watertown businessman Christopher Swartz be sentenced to a “substantial term of incarceration” – possibly more than 20 years – for defrauding investors out of what the government claims was at least $24 million and for failing to pay millions more in taxes. Swartz, former principal owner of a Sub restaurant and other business entities, is due to be sentenced July 12 in U.S. District Court in Utica. According to a plea agreement in the case, Swartz induced lenders and investors into giving him funds while making false promises to repay them at high interest rates and making fraudulent representations about how the money would be spent. I’m Karen Johnson.

New “Zombie Property” Inspector Hired in Ogdensburg!

Ogdensburg is taking a new approach to handling blighted property. Karen Johnson has details.

The city has hired a new “zombie property” inspector. Nicole Woods, is canvassing neighborhoods to help identify families who may be in danger of losing their homes, and to stop already abandoned properties from falling into even greater disrepair. The term “zombie property” is used to identify properties that are vacant and blighted but have not been foreclosed on by a bank or other mortgage holder. Woods, an Ogdensburg native, has been hired with money awarded through a Local Initiatives Support Corporation Zombie and Vacant Properties Remediation and Prevention Initiative Grant in the amount of $150,000. In Ogdensburg, city officials have identified 551 properties believed to be abandoned and not possible to seize, and because of their dilapidated conditions create a negative influence on the surrounding area. I’m Karen Johnson.

Canton Is Vying For A Major Development Grant

Canton is vying for a major grant for downtown revitalization. Karen Johnson has a report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative is a $100 million effort to revitalize 10 communities across the state. Canton will be one of several communities in a seven-county region vying for one of 10, $10 million grants. Last year, Plattsburgh claimed the north country’s slice of the pie. Economic Developer Leigh Rodriguez says Canton’s application features a much more narrow focus for what the money would be used to fund including Canton Island Park and the Canton Village Green.Much of what village officials hope to accomplish with the prospective money centers around waterfront revitalization efforts. Developing space for a restaurant would be an example of the type of use the village is aiming for along the river. I’m Karen Johnson.

US Attorney Hartunian to retire

US Attorney Richard Hartunian is retiring after 20 years with the DOJ. He made the announcement today. His retirement is effective June 30th. He’s been in office since January 2010, nominated by then-President Obama. He called it the “highest professional privilege of my lifetime.” Border security has been one of his biggest priorities, with aggressive prosecution of anyone caught jumping the border. He’s also been fierce in attacking the heroin and opioid epidemic.

Ogdensburg’s Financial Rating Takes A Hit

Ogdensburg’s financial rating is taking a hit. Karen Johnson has details.

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the city’s general obligation bond rating to Ba1 from Baa2, a more severe drop in the municipality’s credit rating than local officials expected. In a report issued this week, Moody’s says the downgrade to Ba1 is driven by Ogdensburg’s narrow financial position and the challenges it faces in achieving structurally balanced operations. The bond rating dip also reflects the city’s small tax base and high percentage of tax-exempt property, below average wealth and income levels, and a growing debt burden that will pressure future budgets, according to Moody’s. Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy says the downgrading clearly plunges the city into so-called ‘junk bond” credit status. I’m Karen Johnson.