Air Force investigator says ‘perfect storm’ led to drone crash in Lake Ontario

An outline of the area of impact of an MQ-9 Reaper drone that crashed Nov. 12 after taking off from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

An outline of the area of impact of an MQ-9 Reaper drone that crashed Nov. 12 after taking off from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Air Force

A combination of bad navigational software and timing led to the November crash of the MQ-9 Reaper drone crash into Lake Ontario, the Air Force colonel who investigated the crash said.

“It was kind of a perfect storm that this thing happened,” said Col. Dana A. Hess­­­heimer, who oversaw an Air Force Accident Investigation Board whose 21-page report about the incident was released July 1.

Within two days of the Nov. 12 incident, he said, the Air Force issued a servicewide notice to remedy the unspecified software problem.

“They corrected that right away,” Col. Hessheimer said, later comparing the notice to the safety recalls of automaker General Motors. [Read more...]

Impossible Dream Thrift Store’s new look revealed; grand opening next week

The newly refurbished Impossible Dream Thrift Store on Factory Street has reopened for business. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

The newly refurbished Impossible Dream Thrift Store on Factory Street has reopened for business. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

“Amazing,” “awesome” and “gorgeous” were some of the adjectives used by shoppers when they walked into the recently remodeled Impossible Dream Thrift Store.

Located within the Watertown Urban Mission at 247 Factory St., the thrift store had a soft opening July 2 of its mostly renovated space. While the two-floor thrift store is a work in progress, customers will notice an improved shopping experience as soon as they walk in the doors.

New to customers is a public rest room to the right just inside the entryway, and to the left is a small office and presentation space where household, furniture and clothing may be displayed.

People and businesses donated more than $2 million for the renovations. “I hope they feel proud of their investment,” Urban Mission Executive Director Erika F. Flint said. [Read more...]

Schumer urges FAA to approve runway expansion at Ogdensburg airport

Sen. Charles E. Schumer tells north country leaders at Ogdensburg International Airport Monday he will do everything he can to get the FAA to approve the runway extension. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

Sen. Charles E. Schumer tells north country leaders at Ogdensburg International Airport Monday he will do everything he can to get the FAA to approve the runway extension. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer visited on Monday to urge the Federal Aviation Administration to approve a long-awaited runway expansion at Ogdensburg International Airport.

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is planning to extend its runway by 1,200 feet to attract larger commercial airliners. The FAA’s stamp of approval is needed before work can begin on the $12 million project.

“The OBPA is ready, willing and able to complete this extension,” Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “The missing ingredient in making the airport and its new agreement with Allegiant a major economic driver in the regional economy is the feds, the FAA, where approval is sitting on somebody’s desk.”

The OBPA announced in June a partnership with Allegiant Air that officials say could increase traffic by up to 40,000 passengers a year with larger jets, which could turn the airport into a regional hub for air travel. [Read more...]

Consultant to analyze operations at Watertown Fire Department

A consultant is ready to start working on finding what the staffing level should be at the Fire Department and whether it has the right types of facilities and equipment.

City Manager Sharon A. Addison and other city officials met Wednesday with a representative of the International City/County Management Association to discuss how the consultant plans to go about completing the study.

“They’re kicking it off with a look at operations,” Ms. Addison said, noting that the consultant intends to conduct telephone interviews and make contacts through emails to see how the department is run.

Initially, the consultants will be in the mode of obtaining information before they start analyzing the operations of the department. The study is slated to be completed within 135 days.

Among the people they want to make initial contact with are Chief Dale C. Herman; Jefferson County Fire and Emergency Management Director Joseph D. Plummer, and Bruce G. Wright, president and CEO of Guilfoyle Ambulance Service.

Chief Herman did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, so he did not know what was discussed. Besides Ms. Addison, City Attorney Robert J. Slye and Elizabeth U. Morris, the assistant to the city manager, were at the meeting.

Within 30 days, ICMA representatives will make an on-site visit to meet with key stockholders of the department, Watertown City Council members, Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, Chief Herman and others.

Last month, council members agreed to spend $56,000 to hire ICMA to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the Fire Department, despite the objection of the local firefighters union. Firefighter Mark W. Jones, president of Watertown Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 191, criticized the selection of the consultant, calling it a lobbying group for municipal managers. He told council members that it would be an unfair assessment, since Ms. Addison belongs to the organization.

The union offered to pay for half of the study if the city commissioned one that’s “equitable and fair to all parties,” union officials said. The city did not take up the offer.

After getting a recommendation from the New York Conference of Mayors, Ms. Addison proposed hiring ICMA, an association representing professionals in local government management, to conduct the study.

The assessment would include looking at the department’s organizational structure, studying workloads, identifying appropriate staffing and looking at response times, equipment and facilities.

During city budget discussions this spring, council members informally agreed that the department, which has an $8.8 million budget, should be evaluated. They said a study is needed to determine the efficiency of the department and whether the staff level, at 78 members, is appropriate.

The last fire department study was completed in 2002.

At any given time, 15 members of the Watertown Fire Department are on duty. The department has a main fire station on South Massey Street and two substations, one on Mill Street and the other on State Street.

The union would have to agree to any staffing changes. Its contract expired last month.

By Craig Fox, Times Staff Writer

Destination marketing grows visits

Gary DeYoung

Gary DeYoung

Northern New Yorkers traveling outside the region are often surprised to discover that many people have never heard of the 1000 Islands. But, that’s not uncommon for tourism destinations that are regionally popular. As a Wisconsin native, I’d never heard of the Muskokas before moving to the Canadian border. Likewise, few people in the 1000 Islands seem to know about Door County, Wis., which is one of the most popular vacation regions in the Midwest.
These experiences illustrate that establishing a tourism “brand” that has broad reach is a challenge that requires significant resources, persistence and a focus on telling the brand’s story to out-of-area audiences. Even well-established tourism destinations have to work hard to keep their brand visible in primary markets and expand awareness in secondary markets. [Read more...]

You may be president but cash is king

Paul Luck

Paul Luck

Cash is the lifeblood of every business. Cash is needed to pay employees for the work they do, vendors for the supplies they provide, utilities for energy to heat, light and run the workplace, the landlord … and, if there is anything left over, owners to compensate them for the risk they take to run the business. In many cases, the owners take their cash and reinvest it in the business, creating more jobs and economic growth. Everybody needs cash and everybody benefits when cash is flowing. [Read more...]

Practice not-so-random kindness

Bob Gorman

Bob Gorman

You don’t have to walk far to trip over a fundraiser for a local nonprofit. And you don’t have to go anywhere to have a national nonprofit text you with a donation request.
You can easily understand why the general public routinely says it has “donor fatigue.”
But the requests for more donations keep coming. And with continued cutbacks in government funding, every agency is trying to raise more and more money through golf tournaments, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers and auctions. [Read more...]

Radiation oncology wing opens at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg

Former Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center President and CEO Mark A. Webster gets emotional Wednesday during the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center celebration of service and the unveiling of its new $4.7 million radiation oncology wing. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

Former Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center President and CEO Mark A. Webster gets emotional Wednesday during the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center celebration of service and the unveiling of its new $4.7 million radiation oncology wing. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

The former president and CEO of Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center was on hand Wednesday to help dedicate the opening of the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center’s new $4.7 million radiation oncology wing, where he praised those involved with the project for helping create what he said was a near-miraculous convergence of hurting and healing.

“It is a privilege of our profession when we see the hurting and the healing come together,” said Mark A. Webster. “And this gives us a new tool that has been amply and very well described by many of our speakers, which allows us to combat something that doesn’t fight fair at all, and never has fought fairly. So we need as much as we can to compete against it.”

Mr. Webster, who made the trip from Cortland Regional Medical Center where he now serves as hospital president, was one of dozens of people on hand and one of several speakers who played a part in helping make the new cancer treatment wing a reality.

The wing’s dedication coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center. The facility’s new 3,264-square-foot wing is home to a multifunctional Varian Trilogy linear accelerator that will allow doctors to direct radiation more precisely at cancerous tumors. The procedure will reduce the number of treatments needed for some forms of cancer and is precise and sensitive enough to target an area of cancer half the thickness of a dime, leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed, hospital officials say.

The new equipment will allow doctors to treat certain brain and lung cancers for which there has been no treatment available in the north country. [Read more...]

Riverside Iron in Gouverneur preparing for production

Eric S. Tessmer, who recently purchased Riverside Iron in Gouverneur, stands in front of his Gouverneur business, which he plans to rekindle. Jason Hunter / NNY Business

Eric S. Tessmer, who recently purchased Riverside Iron in Gouverneur, stands in front of his Gouverneur business, which he plans to rekindle. Jason Hunter / NNY Business

Riverside Iron is poised to reopen to manufacture miscellaneous and ornamental steel, bringing the potential of more than a dozen jobs.

Eric S. Tessmer closed on the purchase of the business Friday from Duane Winters, who is providing $350,000 in financing.

A native of Gouverneur, Mr. Tessmer has watched the zinc and talc industries fade, along with General Motors in Massena.

“It’s sad to see those jobs go,” he said.

But he is glad to bring back what he can. [Read more...]

High temperatures pack Watertown municipal pools

John R. Barker, Watertown, assists Josilynn M. Forkey, 4, with her splash into the William J. Flynn Municipal Swimming Pool behind North Elementary School on Monday, the first day city pools were open. The pool will be open until Labor Day. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

John R. Barker, Watertown, assists Josilynn M. Forkey, 4, with her splash into the William J. Flynn Municipal Swimming Pool behind North Elementary School on Monday, the first day city pools were open. The pool will be open until Labor Day. Justin Sorensen / NNY Business

Julia A. Moffatt and her three young children trekked their way in the heat from their Parker Street home across the city Monday to the municipal pool at North Elementary School.

Normally, they would have gone a few blocks away to the Thompson Park pool. But the deteriorating, 90-year-old pool remains closed this summer because of budget constraints and the high costs to replace it.

“It was kind of a bummer,” she said, while her children, Izabella, 3, Abigail, 4, and GraciLynn, 7, cooled off in the shallow side of the pool on East Hoard Street.

At that moment, they were joined by at least 85 other people frolicking, splashing and swimming in the William J. Flynn Municipal Swimming Pool at the school on the city’s north side.

A couple of miles away, the Stephen D. Alteri Municipal Swimming Pool at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds peaked with as many as 150 swimmers Monday, city officials said. And it was the first official day the pools were open. The maximum allowed, at any given moment, is 200 in each pool.

Like Ms. Moffatt, some of the crowd also might have headed to the Thompson Park pool during previous summers.

But the majority was there because of the unseasonably high temperatures hitting close to 90 degrees Monday, said supervising lifeguard Brandon A. Frary, who is lifeguarding for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department summer pool program for a fourth year. [Read more...]