Archives for March 2019

DEC reminds residents to bring in bird feeders, garbage to avoid attracting bears

As bears wake up from their winter hibernation, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding everyone to remove easily accessible food sources from your backyard. Things like bird feeders and garbage. The DEC says poor natural food availalbility last fall meant the bears went into the dens with low fat reserves, so they’re going to be seeking out new food sources quickly. The DEC has already received several reports about bears knocking down bird feeders to eat the seed. They say allowing bears to find food naturally keeps them out of trouble and reduces negative interactions with people and property.

MALONE SCHOOL BUDGET FACING INCREASE

There is expected to be a $3.5 Million increase in the Malone Central School District’s 2019-2020 budget, and the biggest single line item adding to the increase, is the payment share for a BOCES capital project. That news came to light Tuesday night, when members of the Malone Central School Board met to go over the preliminary budget details. Total expenditures are projected to add up to about $54.85 million…. an increase from the roughly $51.3 million in the current budget. That increase is expected to mean about a 2 percent increase in the district tax levy. Most of the spending increase comes from a planned $2.5 million payment toward the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES’ $18.5 million capital project for the North Franklin Educational Center in Malone and the Adirondack Educational Center in Saranac Lake. Other changes that are being built into the proposed budget, include a $546,557 projected increase in total health insurance costs, a $112,115 increase in total school supplies costs, an $84,584 increase in debt service and transfers, and a $96,773 increase in Employees’ Retirement System costs. District voters will have the final decision on the spending plan on May 21st.

Trouble At The St. Lawrence Correctional Facility

Trouble at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility. Karen Johnson explains.

The former head cook at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility has admitted to engaging in sexual misconduct with several inmates over several years, according to the attorney general’s office.Attorney General Letitia James announced the guilty pleas of Jennifer Parker, for engaging in sexual misconduct with multiple inmates who were under her supervision and control, between 2011 and 2014.Parker entered guilty pleas before the Honorable Jerome J. Richards in St. Lawrence County Court. Parker was the head cook at the jail in Canton from August 2010 until she resigned in June 2018. Her duties and responsibilities included managing and supervising civilian employees and inmates who worked in the kitchen. I’m Karen Johnson.

BOARD VOTES TO KEEP HOLY FAMILY SCHOOL OPEN

On Monday, the Board of Education for Holy Family School voted to keep the school open next year. That vote saving the school came following a very high stress public meeting. The council voted Monday, to recommend Holy Family remain open for the next academic year, but they also noted a serious problem… the new school year will begin with the school facing a $35,000 deficit. The whole thing now heads to Bishop Terry LaValley of the Diocese of Ogdensburg for final approval, but board members on Monday started the ball rolling, by indicating their intent to keep the school open next year. About 100 people turned out for the Education Council meeting on Monday, and the vote to keep the school open passed by a margin of 7 to 3, but not until after about two hours of heated debate. Part of the discussion… according to the Malone Telegram… revolved around if Holy Family could withdraw money from a foundation account that has been set up for the school’s patronage, which would require approval from Bishop LaValley. Part of that fund… adding up to about $499,000… was raised through a regionwide fundraising effort in the 1990s — the North Franklin Catholic Appeal — where donors at the time were told that funding would be used as principal, with interest paying out to the school annually. Board members said after the final vote, that a major emphasis on fundraising will need to be addressed, and that they will still ask LaValley about the possibility of withdrawing foundation funds.

Nominations Being Accepted For The Rachel Somers Grant Award

Time for nominations for an award in Canton. Karen Johnson has more details.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton is seeking nominations for their annual Rachel Somers Grant Award.Each year, the church recognizes an individual who is making a difference in our community with an award established in 1990 in memory of Rachel Somers Grant. Rachel was a teacher and activist who lived in Canton from 1977 until her death in 1990. The award was established to honor those who work, as Rachel did, to make ours a more humane and progressive community.Rachel believed grassroots movements were an effective means of achieving change, according to a press release. “She challenged the lack of responsiveness of elected officials on issues important to her community, and she was a strong advocate for causes affecting the welfare of women, families, and the environment. She had a gift for organizing diverse groups and a talent for gaining the respect of supporters and opponents alike.”Nominations are due no later than April 30 and may be sent by email to socialaction@uucantonny.org. I’m Karen Johnson.

Titus Mountain ranked as No. 2 best overall ski resort in North America

Titus Mountain has been named the second best overall ski resort in North America by Liftopia. It was ranked 1st for beginners, 2nd most family-friendly, and 3rd for best value. The Best in Snow awards by Liftopia is based on the feedback from thousands of skiers and snowboarders. It takes into account more than just the number of votes, but also the number of votes in relation to the size of the resort and visitors. Voters consistently applaud its “great grooming” and note there are “always chairs available,” with a “perfect slope for beginners” and an “over-the-top family friendly” atmosphere.

HEBERT FOUND GUILTY

46 year old Christopher Hebert was found guilty Thursday in St. Lawrence County Court, of felony second degree murder in connection with the June 2014 death of then 24 year old Lacey Yekel in Massena. The guilty verdict came following 6½ hours of jury deliberations.
Hebert is already serving time as an inmate at the St. Lawrence County jail for another offense. Hebert took the stand to testify in his own defense on Wednesday, telling the jury that he had lied when he told his dealers and friends that he killed Yekel in order to sound “gangsta” and also to tell his ex-girlfriend what she wanted to hear, because she liked the “bad boy” persona. Sentencing is now scheduled for May 6th, and prosecutors plan to push for the maximum of 25 years to life in prison. The minimum sentence he can expect is 15 years to life.

Winter storm warning posted for northern Franklin County

A winter storm warning has been posted starting this evening through tomorrow at noon. Forecasters are calling for up to 11 inches of snow here in Malone, with 6 or more expected to be widespread across the North Country. The light rain we saw this morning is tapering off and heavy snow will be moving in. To make driving more difficult, winds will be gusting over 30 miles per hour tonight too. Skies will clear out by tomorrow night and we’ll see some sunshine on Sunday and temps in the 40s before another round of snow moves in on Monday.

SARANAC SCHOOL STUDENTS LAUNCH, THEN LOSE, WEATHER BALLOON IN EXPERIMENT

A weather balloon designed by high school engineering students in Saranac Lake has gone missing. The class at Saranac Lake High School has been working since last fall to develop a weather balloon and sensory equipment to collect air quality data. On Monday, the weather was thought to be perfect for the launch of their project, so the students… along with their teacher… launched the balloon from Alexandria Bay in Jefferson County around 10am… it’s payload being a sensor that the class designed, aimed at recording telemetry data, barometric pressure, internal and external temperature, and air quality. It was also supposed to take photos and video as the balloon moved east over the Adirondacks. The balloon was also designed to send a signal that the class would’ve tracked on the ground during its estimated five to six hour lifespan. When it was finished, the balloon was supposed to burst, sending the sensor back to the ground on a parachute, where it would have been collected and then analyzed. The launch was perfect, but after that, things didn’t go so well. They lost the signal due to a power failure, and by the time they figured that out, the balloon was too far away to track. It was lost. . They say there is still a very slight chance that someone might find the balloon, see the return information on it, and call them. But given the size of the vast Adirondack Mountain Region, that is a very slim chance. Just in case, they say the balloon is white, and the parachute is red. If the batteries are still any good, it is likely still turning on a buzzer every minute to alert people to its presence. If you come across it, let them know.

State Budget Includes Funding For A Career Pathways Program

The state budget includes money for a career start-up program. Karen Johnson reports.

Assemblyman Billy Jones is announcing that the Assembly’s 2019-20 state budget proposal, which passed recently, would restore $2.85 million for Career Pathways programs, which help train young adults for careers in high-growth sectors.”The North Country faces a shortage of skilled workers that’s leaving us in a lurch,” Jones, D-Chateaugay, said. “A lack of job training programs is creating a skills gap that holds our local economy back. Initiatives like Career Pathways not only help employers fill empty positions in vital fields, but also enables students interested in high-demand careers by getting them the training they need.”Career Pathways programs connect young adults ages 16 to 24 with training at local community colleges for high-demand fields and fast-tracks them, allowing them to earn college credit while learning real-world skills.Jones said these programs offer students a streamlined pathway to an excellent career while boosting the North Country’s economic standing in the long run.