Archives for December 2018

New Year’s Eve may be disrupted with wintry weather

2019 will arrive with snow and cold temperatures. A winter weather advisory has been posted from 7 tonight until 7 tomorrow/Tuesday morning. Forecasts are calling for 2 to 5 inches of snow, with gusty winds. Tomorrow temperatures will fall from the upper 30s to below zero by tomorrow night. The wind chill will make it feel like negative 9. Then just a high of 15 on Wednesday here in Malone. The National Weather Service says you should plan on slippery road conditions tonight. Be extra careful if you’re going out for New Year’s Eve, since getting home may be treacherous.

HANDGUN PROPOSAL TIED TO SOCIAL MEDIA GETS ICY RECEPTION

A proposal currently under consideration in the state Senate, would require the investigation of a person’s social media history before deciding whether to issue or renew a license to carry or possess a pistol or revolver. Needless to say, it is more than a bit controversial, and so far, it has drawn pretty much unanimous opposition from North Country legislators. St. Lawrence County Legislature Chairman Kevin Acres released a statement, saying “It’s very intrusive into our personal and private lives” and it violates three amendments in the U.S. Constitution… including the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech, the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, and the Fourth Amendment which guarantees the right of people to secure their papers and effects. If passed, the bill… as proposed by Democrat Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, would require anyone applying for a pistol or revolver permit, to turn over their log-in name, password or other means for accessing their electronic media. Investigating officers would be required to review three years of social media accounts and the search engine history for the previous year. Acres points out that it would be very subjective about what would be red flagged, and it is dangerous. He points to the fact that background checks already require that a person’s criminal record be reviewed.

ST. REGIS MOHAWKS FILE OPIOID SUIT IN FEDERAL COURT

Another lawsuit has been filed against pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors over their roles in the opioid epidemic. The latest to join the fight is the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, which now joins the list of several other municipalities here in the North Country that have already done the same thing. The tribe filed the suit on December 21st in US District Court for the Northern District of New York. In it, they argue that 16 companies and 100 individuals carried out a scheme to make doctors and patients believe that prescription opioids were safe, non-addictive when taken for pain, and could be used without long-term effects… but in reality it created the worst human-caused epidemic in modern medical history… an epidemic that has ravaged tribal communities. The 146 page suit seeks unspecified compensation for the tribe’s expenses and punitive damages, and alleges that the tribe spent significant amounts of money on opioid-related health care costs and on a variety of legal and social ills related to the epidemic. It says the Tribe has experienced increased child abuse and neglect, family dysfunction, criminal behavior, poverty, property damage, unemployment, and social despair, as the prescription opioid crisis has diminished the Tribe’s available workforce, decreased productivity, and increased poverty. The tribe estimates that opioid abuse and addiction have consistently accounted for around 85-90 percent of child welfare cases annually for each of the last five years.

DEA warning of fentanyl exposure over New Years

Ahead of the upcoming New Year’s celebrations, the state’s DEA is reiterating the dangers of fentanyl. Authorities say fentanyl seizures in New York are at record-breaking levels. Agents here in the Empire State seized approximately 600 kilograms of fentanyl, 1,000 kilograms of heroin, 12,000 kilograms of cocaine, $33 million in cash and denied traffickers revenue of $355 million in 2018. The DEA noted that there have been several investigations throughout the state that found heroin mixed with fentanyl, cocaine mixed with fentanyl and cocaine and heroin mixed with fentanyl. Even just a small dose of fentanyl can be lethal.

Flu Cases In New York Are Spiking

Cases of the flu across the state are spiking. Karen Johnson explains what you can do to protect yourself.

According to Governor Cuomo’s office over the past week, cases of influenza in New York State have risen by 72 percent to 5400 confirmed new cases of influenza are being reported in 58 out of 62 counties. In addition, the number of people hospitalized with influenza was 363, a 41 percent increase just from last week. In response Cuomo’s office in a statement is urging everyone six months of age and over who have not yet received a flu shot to get vaccinated as soon as possible he says in a statement. In January 2018, Cuomo signed an emergency executive order allowing pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to children ages 2 to 18 during the 2018 flu season. Following the signing of the emergency executive order, pharmacists vaccinated approximately 9,000 individuals ages 2 to 18 against the flu. Cuomo later signed legislation codifying this order into law, meaning that now any person age 2 or older can be administered the flu vaccine by a pharmacist. I’m Karen Johnson.

FIGHT IS ON NOW TO KEEP ASIAN CARP OUT OF STATE WATERS

If a plan by the Army Corps of Engineers works, it could prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. Asian carp like to jump… a lot! As a matter of fact, they are known to jump from the water with such force, that they injure boaters. Asian Carp are already in some American waters, including the Illinois River, and some experts say it is simply a matter of time before the invasive species ends up in the Great Lakes, where it could do irreversible harm to the environment, and wipe out many native species. The plan being put forth by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers involves a lock and dam on the Chicago River system… along with other measures adding up to about $800 million to halt the spread of what is called an “aquatic nuisance species.” It includes an acoustic fish deterrent with an electric barrier, which would emit a sound to discourage Asian carp and other nuisance species from entering locks. It would also electrically stun the fish, and create an air bubble curtain… all with a goal of preventing Asian carp from coming into the Chicago waterway, and then eventually making their way into the Great Lakes. Asian carp can outcompete juvenile native fish species like bass and catfish for food. They also threaten boaters because they jump in the air when startled by loud noises, which results sometimes in fish striking people in the head. If the fish got into the Chicago River, experts say they’d have a straight shot to Lake Michigan. From there, they could freely travel throughout the Great Lakes, eventually ending up in the St. Lawrence. Asian carp were originally brought in to eat algae in small ponds years ago, but flooding and accidental releases sent the fish into the Mississippi River system, where they have since spread to other river systems.

FORMER BRANT LAKE COUNSELOR NOW ACCUSED OF CHILD MOLESTATION

A former Brant Lake Camp counselor who already has been accused of molesting boys at the camp, now has been indicted on additional charges. 51 year old Dylan Stolz was charged with felony first-degree sexual abuse, along with another charge of endangering the welfare of a child in Warren County, after allegations surfaced that he fondled an 8-year-old boy at the camp last June. Stolz pleaded not guilty, and although he was allowed to remain free on $200,000 bond, there are some restrictions on his ability to travel right now. The latest charges against Stolz, bring the number of boys he has been criminally charged and accused of fondling, to 10. He was first arrested back in July, and news of that arrest resulted in the other children coming forward with similar allegations. Stolz now faces dozens of counts… many of them felonies. Each of those felonies is punishable by up to 7 years in state prison. Now, jury selection begins on February 4 in Warren County Court, for his trial. Stolz… who worked at the camp for 33 years before he was arrested… has so far, rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a prison sentence of between 7 and 12 years. He also worked as an elementary school teacher on Long Island at the time of his arrest.

Winter weather advisory posted for Franklin County

Nasty weather is on the way for the North Country. A winter weather advisory has been posted starting tonight through noon on Friday. Forecasters are calling for freezing rain mixing with sleet tomorrow morning. The good news is…they don’t think there will be any ice accumulation. Temps will rise throughout the morning on Friday, so eventually, it’ll become all rain with a high near 48 with gusty winds. The rain will continue Friday night and eventually transition to snow early on Saturday. We shouldn’t get more than a half-inch or so.

Minimum wage increases in New York as of Jan. 1

Workers in minimum wage jobs will be getting pay raises next week. As of Jan. 1, minimum wage will increase 70 cents, up to $11.10 an hour. The increases are higher in New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, where the cost of living is much higher. Workers statewide though will eventually see their pay go up to $15 dollars per hour over the next few years. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is also increasing their minimum wage up to $11.82 per hour. It’ll apply to 136 tribal government employees.

Franklin County searches for new Solid Waste Authority director

The Franklin County Solid Waste Authority hopes to find a new director within the next few months. They’ve opened up the job posting until at least February. The board is trying to replace George Eades, whose held the position since 1999. He’ll retire as of April 1. This is the third time that they’ve searched for a executive director. But in both 2015 and 2016, they couldn’t find anyone qualified to take the job. Right now, Franklin County is bidding to take trash from Albany, which would bring in millions every year to county coffers, so the new director would spearhead the deal.