Archives for May 2019

State Putting Up No Parking Signs

The State Department of Transportation has begun the installation of “no parking” signs along Route 73 in the town of Keene, where a number of popular trailheads are located. Drivers will no longer be allowed to park along a 4-mile stretch of Route 73 between the Rooster Comb trailhead in the hamlet of Keene Valley and the Chapel Pond trailheads south toward I-87. Parking will still be allowed in designated pull-off areas, but parking on the shoulder will be prohibited “for public safety reasons” according to state officials. Installation of the new “no parking” signs is expected to be done by June 14th. After that, DEC Forest Rangers and environmental conservation officers, along with State Police and Essex County Sheriff’s deputies, will increase patrols in the area to enforce the parking restriction.

Ash Borers A Rising Threat

Folks here in the North Country are being taught how to deal with what is now appearing to be a major coming infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer. The St. Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District, is training people how to strip the bark from a tree to create what is then called “a sentinel tree.” Sentinel trees simply lure the emerald ash borer away from other trees, thereby limiting their spread. According to the experts, such trees should be in areas with full sun exposure and away from roads, power lines or other sensitive infrastructure. Local highway department heads, forestry workers and public works employees met this week at the Westville Fire Department to learn about the risks of beetle-infested ash trees, and how to minimize that risk. The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle species, and so far, it has been reported to have infested ash trees in both St. Lawrence County and the St. Regis Mohawk Territory. Unlike native pests, the emerald ash borer infests both healthy and failing ash trees, with the bored tunnels of the larvae cutting off the tree’s pathway for nutrients from the roots. As the infestation continues and the tree’s support system fails, the tree will become weaker and eventually die… and then fall. Another way to fight them is to use a funnel trap, by tying a weight to a rope and tossing it over a branch, and then attaching a cup of antifreeze to the bottom of a funnel on the other end. The funnel trap catched the emerald ash borer and then sends it down into the antifreeze, killing the beetle. With sentinel trees, a section of the bark on a tree is stripped off to make the insect think the tree is weaker than it is, making it more attractive for infestation than an untouched ash tree. Once attaked, an ash tree can be destroyed pretty quickly… typically within about 12 months. According to the Malone Telegram, Malone Town Highway Superintendent Bruce Mallette says highway workers will on the lookout for ash tree damage due to the road danger risks they represent.


Democrat Cliff Donaldson of Clear Lake, has announced that he is running to rejoin the Franklin County Board of Legislators, and in doing so, he’s taking on another Democrat. Despite being a registered Democrat, Donaldson will run as a candidate on the independent Common Sense party line against incumbent Melinda Ellis of Saranac Lake. The two will be the only candidates on the ballot in District 7, which covers the towns of Harrietstown and Franklin. Donaldson filed his petition with the county Board of Elections on Tuesday. Ellis announced in February she is running again. She was appointed to the post last June and beat Republican Jim Murnane in the November election. This year’s election is November 5th.


A St. Regis Falls woman has been charged with arson after an investigation into a Sunday morning fire on South Woods Road. 49 year old Lori Pierce was arrested by New York State Police on the felony charge, after firefighters became suspicious about the cause of a fire in her mobile home… saying her story just didn’t check out. Flames broke out at the mobile home around 7:30 Sunday morning. When firefighters arrived, they found Pierce outside the burning structure with her dog. When asked about how and where the fire may have started, she gave inconsistent answers. The mobile home is a total loss. Pierce was the only one living there, and nobody was hurt.


The Town of Louisville is putting a proposal together for the creation of Water District No. 4, which if it becomes a reality, would extend the town’s municipal water system outward to include parts of Route 37 and County Routes 36 and 14, where town leaders say so far, they have gotten a lot of interest in the idea from residents. Some people say it’s going to be very welcome, after they say they have had problems including wells going dry. Many others have had to deal with hard- water issues. Now, estimates are being assembled on the projected cost of the project, and studies are being done to see what funding may be available to pay for it… such as grants. If it all goes as planned, not only would it help residents in the affected area, but it would also most likely result in new development because of the availability of municipal water.


A state Appellate Division panel has rejected the effort of a Tupper Lake woman… a former Sunmount employee… to have her conviction in a 2013 assault case overturned. The ruling comes after Jessica Rice had raised a number of objections to her 2016 conviction on felony charges including offering a false instrument for filing. Rice had been accused of including false information in paperwork she submitted to the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities in an attempt to mislead investigators looking into an incident in which a Sunmount Development Center client sustained a head injury that resulted in a seizure and a concussion when he was allegedly attacked by another Sunmount employee, who as it turns out, prosecutors say was Rice’s live-in boyfriend. Rice had been sentenced to five years’ probation on one count, and three years’ probation on the other, with both sentences including an initial jail term of 60 days. The two sentences were to be served concurrently. She appealed… claiming that the initial indictment was defective, that the prosecution failed to move to trial in a timely manner, and that the directions given to the jury prior to deliberations were inaccurate or confusing. The five-judge however, unanimously rejected Rice’s claims.


On Saturday, state police arrested a woman for DWI after stopping her on the Northway… for driving in the wrong direction! 26-year-old Jessica Hayes was pulled over after troopers got a notification at 1:55am on Saturday, that a vehicle was traveling north in the southbound lanes of Insterstate 87 in the Town of Colonie. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. When they stopped Hayes, troopers say several indicators of alcohol involvement were apparent, so they administered Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. Hayes was then taken to the barracks, where she refused to provide a breath sample. She is now charged wtih Driving While Intoxicated and Reckless Driving. She was locked up without bail.


A decision by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division says that farmworkers across the state have the right to organize and to bargain collectively. The court ruled the exclusion of farmworkers from the State Employment Relations Act to be unconstitutional. New York Attorney General Letitia James supported the decision, as did Governor Andrew Cuomo… who called the decision, an action that corrects an undeniable injustice, and reaffirms New York’s principles of fairness and equality for all. Meanwhile, an advocacy group representing agricultural employers… the Farm Bureau… defended the constitutionality of the statute, and had filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that it would put many farmers out of business… and therefore also put farmworkers out of jobs. A spokesperson said if the legislature, and now the courts do not recognize the value of preserving a viable and economically sustainable food production system in the state, New York agriculture will continue to shrink under a mountain of mandates, and our rural economy and local job opportunities will suffer. Addionally, New Yorkers will find it harder to access New York grown food, and instead, will have to rely more heavily on food brought in from out of state, or worse yet, out of the country to feed their families.


The New York State Police will increase patrols to combat drunk, impaired and reckless driving throughout this Memorial Day weekend. The STOP-DWI enforcement period starts (today/Friday) and runs through Monday. Memorial Day is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year and police will be out in force to remove impaired and reckless drivers from our highways. Drivers can expect to see sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols by State Police and local law enforcement agencies during this holiday weekend. Troopers will be using both marked State Police vehicles and Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement vehicles as part of the crackdown in order to more easily identify motorists who are violating the law. According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany, drunk driving killed 252 people and injured 5,647 others in New York State during 2017. Another 205 people were killed in drug-related crashes. On Memorial Day weekend in 2018, Troopers arrested 237 people for drinking and driving, issued 13,318 total tickets, and investigated 154 personal injury crashes, which resulted in eight fatalities. In addition to the New York State Police, numerous counties and agencies throughout the state also participated in last year’s Memorial Day Crackdown, and will do so again this year.


Nearly $6 Million in tax refunds are on their way to the Adirondack Region… thanks to the recently completed income tax assistance program offered by the Adirondack Region Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition. The money will be a great benefit to many low to
moderate income people throughout Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties. According to
Kathy Snow, the Director of Development at United Way of the Adirondack Region, Inc and chairperson of the Coalition, the IRS has earmarked $5.9 Million in federal tax refunds for eligible residents this tax season, out of 4,252 returns that were prepared between all the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites in Clinton, Essex & Franklin Counties.