Jefferson County sheriff candidates say department’s armored truck to be used only in “extreme” circumstances

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department’s new MRAP after a paint job last fall. The protests in Ferguson, Mo., have prompted debate on the use of police force. Amanda Morrison / NNY Business

What do Watertown, N.Y.; Watertown, Conn., and Watertown, Wis., have in common?

Law enforcement agencies in or near all three cities have large armored vehicles given to them by the same federal government program receiving renewed attention as an indirect result of protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

Law enforcement officials in that city, which has a population of roughly 21,000, have been criticized for using military-style equipment and tactics to dispel the protestors, a strategy some observers have said has only exacerbated the situation.

Last September, Jefferson County acquired a $600,000, 21-ton, 2008 International MaxxPro Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle through the 1033 program, which authorizes the transfer of excess Department of Defense property to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for use in counter-drug and counterterrorism activities.

The vehicle was the subject of some controversy in the weeks following the news that it had been acquired, with some Jefferson County legislators calling it “excessive.” [Read more…]

Plans take shape for corporate park at Watertown airport

Preliminary land studies and blueprints for a business park at Watertown International Airport are expected to be done by this fall, moving the project a step closer to reality.

With planning efforts well underway, land could be ready by next year for the first business to move into the proposed park, said Donald C. Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. [Read more…]

NYPA allocates power for Potsdam, Gouverneur plants in another boost for St. Lawrence County

On the same day the north country learned 40 jobs will be created in a $21 million expansion of Corning’s Canton plant, St. Lawrence County received another economic shot in the arm when the New York Power Authority approved low-cost power allocations for two more manufacturers that will keep or add jobs with capital investments.

The allocations will go to Potsdam Specialty Paper and Riverside Iron, Gouverneur, under the ReCharge NY program, NYPA announced Tuesday. The low-cost power is expected to leverage an estimated $14.3 million in capital investments and support 79 jobs, 12 of which will be created.

“I think anytime we see power allocation in the county is a good thing, and to have three different areas, with Corning in the Canton area, Potsdam Paper and Riverside Iron in Gouverneur, is crucial,” said Patrick J. Kelly, CEO of the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency. “These are also three different areas that are receiving this allocation. It is very beneficial to their operations and in turn a good thing for the county.”

Potsdam Specialty Paper, 547 Sissonville Road, will receive 2,116 kilowatts for its commitment to retain its 67 jobs and invest $14 million into its facility over the next five years. [Read more…]

Cuomo to announce $21 million Corning plant expansion project

Corning will expand production at its Canton plant in a $21 million project that will create 40 permanent jobs with the help of a low-cost power allocation, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to announce today.

The plant on McAdoo Road in the town of DeKalb will increase production of high-fused silica glass used in the semiconductor industry. The plant supplies microchips for computers, cellphones and other electronics. It also makes specialized glass products for the U.S. Department of Defense and the aerospace industry.

The 30,700-square-foot expansion will include 23,500 square feet for increased production and a 7,200-square-foot warehouse. Corning is expected to host a formal ceremony next month for the start of construction.

The New York Power Authority is allocating 2.1 megawatts to the plant for the expansion.

“The St. Lawrence-FDR power plant is crucial for economic development in Northern New York,” Gil C. Quiniones, president and chief executive officer of NYPA, said in a news release Monday. “It’s a top priority for NYPA to utilize its low-cost hydropower in ways that will yield the greatest results and Corning’s commitment toward the creation of 40 high-paying jobs in the region is exactly that, a great result.”

The low-cost hydropower will be provided to Corning under a seven-year contract and is drawn from a block of St. Lawrence electricity known as Preservation Power.

“Corning’s decision to expand its operations in Canton is certainly great news. It is a perfect marriage when St. Lawrence hydropower creates jobs in the north country,” NYPA trustee Eugene L. Nicandri said.

Corning’s Canton facility receives a 2.2 megawatt allocation of ReCharge NY power, which was approved by the NYPA trustees in April 2012 in exchange for the firm’s commitment to retain its nearly 200 positions.

In addition to the new permanent jobs, which NYPA says already are being added, the capital investments by the company are expected to support dozens of temporary construction jobs.

Empire State Development is providing the company $750,000 in Excelsior Jobs Program tax credits to assist with the job creation project.

“This allocation by NYPA will reduce Corning’s energy cost, which is a major expenditure at the Canton plant,” Patrick Jackson, director of Corning’s Global Energy Management, said in the release.

Under state law, allocations of power to Northern New York businesses from the St. Lawrence hydroelectric facility are for firms in Franklin, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. The electricity is provided at a price that is currently 40 percent less than the wholesale market price in the region. Preservation Power allocations support hundreds of jobs in St. Lawrence County.

By Amanda Purcell, Johnson Newspapers

Schumer pushes for biogas tax credit for upstate dairy industry



Sen. Charles E. Schumer is making a push in Congress for a tax credit to spur the construction of biogas facilities in upstate New York, which could be used by manufacturers of dairy products to convert waste into renewable energy.

Called the Biogas Investment Tax Credit Act, the proposal would provide a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of building a biogas processing plant, Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters. Those savings would be an incentive for dairy farmers and manufacturers of yogurt and cheese to invest in biogas processing plants, he said.

Such facilities would enable them to covert whey byproduct or manure into energy to offset on-site energy needs, or to sell back to the energy grid at a profit. [Read more…]

St. Lawrence Seaway steel shipment boost largely due to auto industry demand

A large jump in steel product shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway this season has been due to demand from the U.S. automobile industry, among other factors.

According to a news release sent out by the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the shipments to ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana-Burns Harbor and Milwaukee also are a result of the improving American economy.

“In addition to an upbeat auto industry and an improving economy, robust oil and gas industries depend upon manufactured iron and steel goods,” St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcalde said.

General cargo shipments, including steel slabs and coils and aluminum, totaled 872,000 metric tons from March 25 to June 30, according to the Seaway Corp.

This represented a 44 percent spike from 2013.

“We are seeing exports as well as imports. Advance notifications from industries suggested 2014 would be a good year, and we’re heading in that direction,” Ms. Alcalde said. “An example is that 20 high-value GE locomotives have been shipped through the Seaway to Mozambique and 30 more are set to leave this summer. Wind component movements to Duluth and Muskegon are on the rise. The new liner service between Cleveland and Antwerp has also resulted in new cargo tonnage for this navigation season.”

A Canadian grain rush is another factor behind the increase, according to the Marine Commerce release. “However, total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway from March 25 to June 30 were 11.1 million metric tons, down 7 percent compared to 2013 due to decreases in iron ore exports and coal traffic,” it read.

Ms. Alcalde said that the Seaway Corp. is expecting the steel shipment increase to continue in the foreseeable future.

“The slow start to the navigation season was due to the lengthy winter that lasted well into April” she said.

We expect cargo tonnage to continue to increase for the remainder of 2014 and improve upon last year’s tonnage performance,” Ms. Alcalde said.

By Victor Barbosa, Johnson Newspapers

Potsdam Bagelry gets news owners, plans to produce artisan coffee

New Bagelry owners B. Ryan Dunphey, left, and Gabriel A. Ockrin stand next to a picture of the business taken in 1982. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

New Bagelry owners B. Ryan Dunphey, left, and Gabriel A. Ockrin stand next to a picture of the business taken in 1982. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / NNY Business

Artisan coffee culture is making its debut at the Bagelry this summer with the help of new owners Gabriel A. Ockrin and B. Ryan Dunphey, two men who left behind careers in corporate America to follow a shared passion.

The partners plan to infuse the long-standing Potsdam business with big-city coffee culture, while staying faithful to north country lifestyles. [Read more…]

Watertown chamber nets $60,000 grant to launch community health program

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce has been awarded $60,000 by the Community Service Society of New York to launch a yearlong community health program serving Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties.

Two community health advocates will be hired by the chamber to lead the program, which will serve individuals and small businesses seeking health insurance and help educate those with insurance issues. In a statement, chamber President and CEO Lynn M. Pietroski said the $60,000 grant will help the organization continue its outreach efforts to serve businesses in the region.

“We are excited that we have established an ongoing relationship with the Community Service Society and can now continue to offer these services to the community,” Mrs. Pietroski said. “Having the support of such a strong organization ensures the quality of education and information we can provide local consumers. With so many moving pieces, we are happy.”

Confirmed tornado scatters debris in Lewis County

Storm damage. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Storm damage. Norm Johnston / NNY Business

Maple Ridge Wind Farm workers who rent two houses at Eagle Factory and Gardner roads fortunately were on holiday break Tuesday night, when a tornado swept through the area and ripped apart the structures as if they were toys.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo confirmed Wednesday that at 6:48 p.m. Tuesday, a tornado touched down near the intersection, west of Lowville, and went on to damage 12 buildings. The agency reported the northeast path of the tornado was about 10 miles long with a width of up to 300 yards, although it wasn’t on the ground the whole time. The last signs of damage were in the town of Croghan. The tornado was classified as an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, reaching maximum wind speeds between 95 and 100 mph. [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…]