Potsdam Is Looking Toward The Future

Potsdam is looking toward the future. Karen Johnson explains.

About 20 people gathered this week to begin the process of creating a comprehensive plan for the town to guide its development going forward. This meeting was an opportunity to engage members of the community from a wide variety of institutions and municipalities, including Potsdam Central School, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, the villages, and the county. The meeting is the first step of a likely year-long process to create a comprehensive plan, which the town does not currently have. The town does have a community development plan, but it is vague and outdated in places, according to Councilwoman Rosemarie Rivezzi. “It’s always a good idea to look at where you are, to imagine where you’d like to be … and then try to figure out some way to get there,” said John Tenbusch, a representative of the county planning office who attended the meeting. He adds having a comprehensive plan is especially important as the town recently voted to become a climate-smart community, reducing emissions and increasing resiliency to severe weather.

Walmart donates $100K to JCEO

The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. JCEO plans to use the money to fund their food services program, supplying food to 55 food pantries and six senior centers across the area. Walmart says fighting hunger is a good way to give back to the communities that support them.

Bridges At The Risk Of Falling Down In The North Country

Franklin County has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the North Country. Karen Johnson explains what that means.

Nearly 13 percent of bridges throughout New York state fall under the category of being structurally deficient, according to a new report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.Repairing all of these bridges would require $27.4 billion, and DiNapoli noted that it could become more difficult for local governments to acquire the necessary funding with potential changes to the federal government’s infrastructure aid programs. DiNapoli says while the state has taken steps to make funds for repairs available, the assistance of the federal government has also been critical. DiNapoli’s report classifies “structurally deficient” bridges as those that remain open and considered safe to drive on, but either have load-bearing elements in poor condition or are prone to repeated flooding.In the north country, Franklin County has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges at 36. St. Lawrence County came in right behind Franklin County at 35. Essex County has 33, Clinton County has 25, Jefferson County has 23, while Lewis and Oswego counties both have 28 and Hamilton County has 16. I’m Karen Johnson.

A Path To Success For Mental Illness

Youths coping with a mental health diagnosis are finding a path to success. Karen Johnson has the story.

Success is happening through the Adirondack Youth Lodge operated by Citizen Advocates.The Lodge opened eleven years ago and serves young people ages 12 to 18 seeking help with a mental health diagnosis after exhausting a wide range of community services and treatment options. Certified by the state Office of Mental Health, the facility is an eight-bed, community residence where young people receive treatment and care through Citizen Advocates’ Behavioral Health Services. The residence is a supervised, home-like environment designed to build the skills and capacity needed for the activities of daily living in the community, at school or a job. Darren Dumas, Residence Coordinator at the Youth Lodge says the primary focus is their mental health, but it is also essential to develop skills that contribute to positive health and wellbeing like preparing home-cooked meals, doing laundry and personal hygiene. I’m Karen Johnson.

Adirondack Council joins lawsuit against EPA

The Adirondack Council is joining a lawsuit against the EPA. They claim the government failed to require the use of pollution control equipment at 19 midwestern power plans that burn coal, contributing to acid rain and smog in the Adirondack Park. The council says the park has suffered the worst acid rain damage in the nation, killing high-elevation forest and releases toxic metals into the soil. The power plants responsible, according to the lawsuit, are in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky.

Tax Reform Bill Gets North Country Support

U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik is supporting a House spending bill that includes the groundwork for tax reform. Karen Johnson has details.

The bill was passed by the House late last week. Stefanik released a statement on her Facebook page following the vote. In it she says this budget balances our books in 10 years and is a critical first step in bringing needed tax reform to families and businesses in the north country. You deserve a fair and simple tax code that will help increase wages, make our businesses more competitive around the globe and allow you to keep more of your hard-earned paychecks. During the Appropriations process, I will continue my record of strongly advocating for the priorities of our district,” the statement said.
Eighteen House Republicans, including U.S. Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus, voted against the resolution. The $4.1 trillion budget resolution, which includes significant Medicaid spending cuts per the demand of House conservatives, includes provisions that will allow the House to pass a tax reform bill without a filibuster in the Senate. I’m Karen Johnson.

Syracuse woman accused of trying to smuggle drugs in prison

A Syracuse woman is accused of trying to smuggle drugs into Clinton Correctional Facility. 34-year-old Sundai Miller allegedly brought 10 strips of suboxone, about 8 grams of synthetic marijuana and 46 grams of marijuana with her to the prison on Sunday. She also had a 7-year-old child with her at the time. Miller is facing seven counts, including four felonies and a misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child. She’s due back in court Wednesday.

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.