Archives for October 2017

Volunteer Firefighters Get More Health Coverage

New York’s volunteer firefighters are getting some added health coverage. Karen Johnson has a report.

Governor Cuomo has signed a bill into law expanding health care benefits to volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers. The new law extends the already existing Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law to cover all incidents of melanoma, as well as cancers of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive systems. In a recently issued news release Cuomo says New York is forever grateful to the 96,000 volunteer firefighters who selflessly put their own personal safety at risk in order to keep their neighbors and communities safe and with this measure, we will provide these courageous New Yorkers the protections they need and the peace of mind they deserve. Under the new law, according to the release, volunteer firefighters who contract certain cancers will receive access to tax free disability and death benefits. I’m Karen Johnson.

Franklin county receives STOP-DWI grant

Franklin, Essex, and St. Lawrence counties will each receive $22,500 to battle drunk and drugged driving. The Governor’s Traffice Safety Committee all total is handing out $1.6 million to counties statewide. The money will go toward the local STOP-DWI campaigns. The state has seen some success with reducing impaired drivers. The number of fatal crashes involving drunk drivers has dropped from 330 in 2011 to 247 in 2016 and the number of tickets issued to drunk drivers has declined over that same time period as well. But at the same time, the numbers of drugged drivers is rising. That’s why the Traffic Safety Committee is now training officers to become drug recognition experts, who’re better able to tell whose on drugs.

Snow And Ice Removal Changes Increase Service

Snow and ice plowing of North Country county roads receives approval. Karen Johnson has a report.

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The Franklin County Legislature approved a three-year contract with multiple town highway departments for snow-and-ice plowing of county roads following a vote on the approved contract covering fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020.The county usually contracts collectively with 18 town highway departments to plow the county roads within their jurisdiction; only the town of Malone does not participate. Of the approximately 260 miles of county roads, the towns plow roughly 250 miles. However, the contract approved by the Legislature will phase out the multitier classification of county roads – and the differences in reimbursement between them – over the course of three years. Plus, under previous contracts, county roads were designated either B roads, A roads or A-plus roads. Under the new agreement, all county roads will be designated at the same level. The total cost of the 2018 snow-and-ice contract is estimated at roughly $1.3 million; in 2019, the total cost would rise to $1.38 million, and in 2020, would come to $1.4 million. This represents a slight increase from the snow-and-ice contract for 2017. I’m Karen Johnson.

More Credit Protection Proposed For New Yorkers

More credit protection proposed for New Yorkers. Karen Johnson has more.

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New York state would add greater protections for consumers and tougher regulations for credit monitoring firms following the massive Equifax breach under a series of proposals announced Thursday by state senator David Carlucci who says he wants to see the Legislature require credit monitoring firms to offer free credit monitoring and credit freezes to any consumer. He’s also calling for expanded consumer access to free credit reports. Another proposal would set new standards for cybersecurity and impose greater regulations and licensing requirements on credit-monitoring firms. Carlucci said existing state and federal regulations haven’t kept up with technology and that data breaches are only going to become more common – and more of a problem. The Equifax breach exposed personal information for 145 million Americans and 8 million New Yorkers. I’m Karen Johnson

Squabble Over Town Hall Security Becomes Campaigning Issue

Massena Town Hall Security is becoming part of the campaign platform for town supervisor candidates. Karen Johnson has details.

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The latest back and forth between the two candidates for Massena town supervisor are over Massena Town Hall security, a subject of discussion during a recent Massena Town Council meeting. Town Clerk Pam Catanzarite told council members that even though she enjoyed working one-on-one with the public, and even though there was monitoring by a camera, she still had concerns about the front office being unmanned when she and others were working in another section of the office. Councilman Steven D. O’Shaughnessy, who is challenging Joseph D. Gray for the town supervisor’s seat, had said he believed the door should remain unlocked during business hours. Mr. Gray had said that while he was in favor of more public access, there was sometimes a need for security because of issues such as money being handled during tax collection season.
In a campaign statement, Mr. O’Shaughnessy charged that during the Town Council meeting, Mr. Gray “gave the impression that I wasn’t in favor of protecting town workers because I didn’t want the town hall locked up tighter than Fort Knox, making it difficult for the public to receive the proper, friendly services that town employes are used to dispensing.” The jabs continued at the meeting without much resolution. I’m Karen Johnson.

Booting Emergency Phone Service In Franklin County

There’s discussion of making emergency phone service better in Franklin County. Karen Johnson has details.

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A proposed new cell tower near Owls Head may help expand the county’s 911 network.
Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost met with county legislators earlier this month to discuss an upcoming Verizon cell tower in the Owls Head area.
The tower will be located on Musgrove Road, just outside the Adirondack Park; but, the tower will not be subject to Adirondack Park Agency height regulations that local officials blame for an inability to improve communications in the area. Most of Bellmont falls within the Blue Line, which surrounds the 6 million acre Adirondack Park. But a small square portion of the town, roughly south of Owls Head and west of Mountain View, lies outside the boundary. Musgrove Road is in that square. The cell tower is anticipated to be 185 feet tall with most of the preparations to be done by late fall. I’m Karen Johnson.

Patent Dispute Is Brewing Involving The St. Regis Mohwak Tribe

There’s a patent dispute brewing involving the St. Regis Mohawk tribe and a health product company. Karen Johnson has details.

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Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are launching assaults against the patent transfers between drugmaker Allergan and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, and the tribe is fighting back. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has ordered the maker of Restasis to answer several questions about the deal. Allergan is facing a deadline of today for the information.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has drafted a bill stating that tribal sovereignty cannot be used to block a patent review. And four Democratic senators have submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking that body to investigate the tribe’s acquisition of the patents. Drugmaker Allergan announced on Sept. 8 it had transferred its patents on the eye drug to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to protect the drug from a patent dispute. I’m Karen Johnson.

New York Schools Aren’t Reporting Bullying Incidents

Latest information indicates New York schools fall short of protecting students from bullying. Karen Johnson has a report.

The disturbing information is contained in an audit released by the state Comptroller’s Office showing “many New York schools fall short when it comes to protecting students from harassment and discrimination based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.” The audit focused on 20 schools outside of New York City, and showed that 17 of them “said they struggle with interpreting or implementing DASA guidance and reporting requirements.” DASA, the Dignity for All Students Act, was put into effect in July 2012 as bullying prevention legislation. It revealed that 10 of the 20 schools visited reported no DASA incidents for both the 2014-15 and 2013-14 school years despite having more than 1,000 students enrolled. And the audit showed that “schools said they continue to have difficulty identifying what comprises a material incident that needs to be reported … and they struggle with differing conceptions of what constitutes bullying.” A total of 87 incidents — including discrimination, harassment and cyberbullying — were reported in Franklin County schools in 2015-16. I’m Karen Johnson.

Medicare Enrollment Begins This Weekend

Medicare enrollment is around the corner. Karen Johnson explains

It is Medicare season for older New Yorkers. Whether qualifying for the first time or changing plans, the open enrollment period will begin this Sunday. Medicare is the federally-funded health insurance program for those 65 and older. It’s also available for people under 65 with certain disabilities and people of any age with end-stage kidney disease. One important reminder is Medicare health and prescription drug plans can change year to year. Costs, coverage and provider networks may vary, so the New York State Office for the Aging’s acting director Greg Olsen recommends all seniors review their coverage – even those happy with their current plans. The open enrollment period is the chance for all participants to change their plans for the following year. Open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Olsen says “Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program counselors at each local office for the aging can provide older New Yorkers with the information needed to make an informed choice.” I’m Karen Johnson.

Auditions to be held Saturday for Winter Carnival Revue

Its that time of year already! Auditions for the annual Winter Carnival Revue will be held this Saturday at the YMCA from 11 until 1 p.m. Organizers are looking for great local talent…everything from singing and dancing to comedy skits. The winter carnival revue will be held January 25th and 26th at the Franklin Academy auditorium.