Archives for September 2017

St. Lawrence Making Some County Accounting Changes

The St. Lawrence County Treasurer’s Office is making some financial changes for improvement. Karen Johnson has details.

The county is developing a written bank reconciliation policy to make sure the county’s bank accounts don’t get backlogged again. Last October, the county was forced to hire a certified public accounting firm to reconcile nearly 100 county bank accounts that had not been balanced. Some of the county’s unbalanced accounts dated back to 2012. The county has paid the firm a total of $87,205, including $65,300 to reconcile the county’s 2014 and 2015 bank accounts and another $21,905 for 2016. County Treasurer Renee M. Cole said the results improved the county’s cash position by $1.9 million. She said her office has made numerous procedural changes regarding how county funds are accounted for and reconciled. Cole says We are in the process of documenting the internal processes related to cash and anticipate that later this year we will be able to provide the Board of Legislators with a formal bank reconciliation policy for their consideration for adoption.
I’m Karen Johnson

Franklin County’s Fiscal Health Is Improving

Franklin County’s fiscal health is improving. Karen Johnson has more details.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli reported the 2016 scoring for New York municipalities under the state’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, which tracks a variety of factors for the budgets of counties, cities and villages, towns and school districts. Franklin County received a score as “moderately fiscally stressed” for 2016, an improvement over the previous grade of “significantly fiscally stressed” the county had received each year between 2012 and 2015. County Manager Donna Kissane says naturally, we are pleased that we moved from significantly stressed to moderately stressed as we recognize the team approach to a budgeting strategy we are presently implementing. The scores are arrived at by calculating several factors that affect a municipality’s financial health. The state measures year-end fund balances, operating deficits or surpluses, the municipality’s cash position and its use of short-term debt for normal cash flow and fixed costs, among other factors. I’m Karen Johnson

Should Watertown Get Dock Improvements?

Adding on to the South Bay Dock in Watertown is becoming controversial. Karen Johnson has details.

Thousand Island Park residents have come forward in opposition to a plan to build additional dockage in South Bay nearly 20 years after a previous proposal failed. Resident and park historian Nellie Taylor says this is a little, small summer community and we should keep it as close to nature as possible. In its 2017 Waterfront and Grounds Report the report mentions plans for building a walkway through marshland and anchoring the floating docks to the bottom of the bay. They feel this will bring in more revenue says Steven Taylor, park resident and company shareholder. Stephanie Johnston, general manager for Thousand Island Park Corp. says the company’s land-use and waterfront committee has only begun researching the prospect for building additional dock space in South Bay and neither the company nor the committee has created any official proposals. She says we just want to see if it’s a possibility in the future. There’s a lot of research that needs to be done before the best decision can be made. I’m Karen Johnson.

Traffic Changes Coming To State Street In Malone

Traffic changes coming to State Street in Malone. Karen Johnson explains.

The speed limit on State Street will soon change to 25 mph and some additional traffic calming measures will be implemented following a recent decision from the Village Board. State Street is near the campus of Franklin Academy and leads to the Malone Recreation Park. “They book it up that hill,” said Trustee Andrea Dumas. “We have to slow traffic on that street,” she added. Malone Village Police Chief Chris Premo says we’ve been writing some tickets. The Franklin County Traffic Safety Board has also placed an electronic radar speed sign on the street to aid in the speed reduction effort, temporarily. The village has considered implementing similar signs on a permanent basis, but has yet to commit to the $4,500-per-sign price tag. The village Department of Public Works will also install four temporary speed.The new speed bumps, which are made of recycled rubber and attach to the road with spikes, will be removed during the winter to make room for plowing. Premo says they will slow down drivers. I’m Karen Johnson

Franklin County Selected To Test U.S. Border Patrol Drones

Franklin County is selected as an evaluation area for U.S. Border Patrol drones. Karen Johnson has more details.

The U.S. Border Patrol is evaluating unmanned aircraft for the purpose of gathering information in remote or high-risk areas that includes Franklin County. Other locations are in Texas and Arizona. The unmanned aircraft are meant to provide Border Patrol agents in the field with “reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, tracking and acquisition capabilities in areas that are difficult to access or otherwise considered too high-risk for manned aircraft or CBP personnel on the ground according to a press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency last week. Carla Provost acting chief of the U.S. Border Patrol says these aircraft will also be invaluable to humanitarian missions, aiding in locating individuals in need of medical assistance along inhospitable areas of the border. I’m Karen Johnson.

A Rental Registry Is Proposed In Massena

The idea of a rental registry is being tossed around in a village. Karen Johnson has details.

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Massena Mayor Timmy Currier says he’s frustrated that the village is unable to address some blight issues because of the problem locating property owners. He says it’s a frustrating cycle that we continue to deal with. We spend 90 percent of our time on 10 percent of our population,” he told trustees during their meeting earlier this week. Currier has asked trustees to consider establishing a rental registry, something they had preliminary discussions about a couple of years ago, so they’ll be able to locate property owners when issues like blight come up. He says we’re trying to deal with blight. We’re trying to deal with vacancy issues almost weekly with a property owner we can’t contact. We can’t get them to respond. They should be held liable for that property. We end up spending thousands of dollars. He said there were a number of excellent landlords in the community. But in some cases individuals from outside the area have purchased property at a St. Lawrence County tax auction after seeing only a picture and never having a personal look. Currier said his guess was such people would not pay the taxes on the property in many cases.

Legal Lowdown For Drug Manufacturers

Legal lowdown for drug manufacturers operating in New York. Karen Johnson has details.

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Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has joined 40 of his counterparts from across the country demanding that opioid manufacturers release information pertaining to an ongoing investigation into their practices. New York state is part of a multistate coalition investigating potentially illegal business practices exercised by opioid manufacturers and distributors. The subpoenas recently announced are for the opioid manufacturers Endo International plc, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc. and Allergan Inc, as well as a supplemental subpoena for Purdue Pharma, which produces the opiate OxyContin.Three other subpoenas were also served to three opioid distribution companies: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, which Schneiderman said account for 90 percent of the nation’s opioid drug distribution combined, raking in $500 billion in revenues every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that there were 33,091 deaths in 2015, including 2,754 in New York state from opioids. I’m Karen Johnson

Work Is Complete On Trails At Malone

Renovation work is complete on the Trails at Malone. Karen Johnson takes a look.

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The 128-unit affordable housing development is formerly known as Indian Trails, and the developers took the opportunity recently to show off the results of their efforts.
Renovation efforts cost roughly $19 million, and were led by WinnCompanies, a Boston-based development firm. Planning and work on the property began late in 2014.
The development houses 243 low-income residents, making it one of the largest affordable housing communities in the north country. Construction of the project created 103 jobs, 45 percent of which were sourced from Franklin County, according to a Tuesday press release from WinnCompanies. Though no new apartments were built, each unit received new roofing, siding, windows and appliances, as well as interior rehabilitations.The project also focused on energy efficiency, implementing natural gas heating and low-flow plumbing fixtures, earning a “green communities” designation from Enterprise Community Partners. I’m Karen Johnson.

Good News In Highway Safety From New York

Some good news in highway safety coming from New York. Karen Johnson has a report.

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New York is the top state in the nation in taking steps to reduce injuries and fatalities on its roadways, according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)It says no state has taken as many steps to curtail the number of crashes as the Empire State. NHTSA’s detailed analysis looked at a host of steps states can take to make driving safer. New York has implemented the following measures identified in the report: Allowing the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke or suspend a driver’s license if a motorist refuses a blood-alcohol test; Publicizing sobriety checkpoints; Authorizing the use of a device that prevents convicted drunk drivers from being able to start their cars if they have been drinking; Implementing comprehensive laws to make sure children and youths are property buckled into seat restraints; Using automated cameras to reduce speeding; and Enabling police to stop drivers for cellphone use and texting. I’m Karen Johnson.

A New Farm To Table Offering In Potsdam

From farm to table is one feature of a new eatery in Potsdam. Karen Johnson has the story.

An eight foot spoon carved from a local basswood tree hangs in the sky at Big Spoon Kitchen representing the big plans co-owner Will Trithart has for the unique north country culinary business on Route 56 outside of Potsdam. Catering events, like the Harvest Moon Festival at the Remington, is just one facet of what Trithart and his mother hope to accomplish with their new culinary business, which is focused in part on promoting the use of local products. He says we want people to think more about food and what it means to our bodies, our families and our communities. Menu offerings are likely to include healthy table fare like curries, stews, oven meals, sauces, and grain salads, which people will order and prepay for prior to pick-up. The meals will be made with fresh local ingredients when possible, and will be picked up cold with directions for heating, serving and freezing options. Big Spoon Kitchen will even offer classes in techniques we think people may like to learn, like knife skills and three ways to use a certain vegetable, or how to break down a whole chicken. I’m Karen Johnson