Seasonal showcase for local woodworkers planned in downtown Lowville

On Tuesday, Edward J. Knapp puts up a window sign for the new Northern Tier Woodwrights shop on South State Street in Lowville. The seasonal shop, featuring products from local woodworkers, is slated to be open from mid-October through mid-December. Steve Virkler / Johnson Newspapers

A new seasonal store showcasing products by local woodworkers will be coming this fall to downtown Lowville.

The Northern Tier Woodwrights “pop up” store is slated to be open Thursdays through Saturdays between mid-October and mid-December in a South State Street storefront located between New York Pizzeria and the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce office.

“It will be a nice space and will provide another stop for the holiday shoppers downtown,” said Edward J. Knapp, who is spearheading the new venture. [Read more...]

Army awards ReEnergy 20-year contract worth up to $289 million for biomass power at Fort Drum plant

People stop to talk about the new renewable energy plant on Fort Drum while on a 2013 tour with ReEnergy. The company has been awarded a contract for power by the Army that will supply the post’s needs. Amanda Morrison / Watertown Daily Times

The Army has awarded a 20-year contract potentially worth $289 million to ReEnergy Holdings to supply biomass power to the post.

The announcement Monday is the summation of more than two years of planning and work between the Army and the Latham energy company, which renovated the former coal-fired power plant on Drum to run on forestry waste.

“We should characterize this as a marathon event and not a sprint event, for sure,” said Larry D. Richardson, CEO of the energy company.

The plant will supply up to 28 megawatts of power, enough to meet Fort Drum’s total energy need in what is the Army’s largest renewable energy project.

ReEnergy took over the plant at 2nd Street Southwest in March 2012 and spent about $34 million converting it to one that can burn wood products and forestry residues that would otherwise go unused. The company has entered into supply contracts with north country loggers.

The plant, which opened in May 2013, is capable of producing 60 megawatts, which means ReEnergy can sell the additional power to the grid.

The maximum value of the 20-year deal, according to numbers released by the Department of Defense, is $288,918,210.

Mr. Richardson called the contract a “win-win” for the company, post and local community.

The next step for the company, Mr. Richardson said, was connecting power created by the company directly into the post’s substations, a $12 million project that is scheduled to take until the end of next summer. [Read more...]

Bumper corn harvest expected if farmers avoid killer frost

Corn tassels wave in the wind on Maxon Road near Watertown. Farms could yield 25 tons per acre. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

The corn harvest is expected to be abundant for farmers, but some could be scrambling to avoid a late-season killer frost.

Because crops were planted later than usual in May, most farmers in the north country are running about two weeks behind schedule and waiting for corn to finish growing or dry, said Michael E. Hunter, field crops expert for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. Some farmers started harvesting corn last week, he said. Those who didn’t are expected to start before the end of the month.

Because of the threat posed by freezing weather, some farmers might decide to start harvesting corn before it’s fully mature, Mr. Hunter said. On the night of Sept. 18, temperatures in Jefferson and Lewis counties dropped into the range of 27 to 35 degrees. When temperatures drop to 28 degrees or lower, corn and soybeans are in peril.

Some cornfields were unscathed by the frost, Mr. Hunter said. But the outcome was worse for other cornfields, which have drooping cornstalks with dead leaves and low moisture content.

“They can withstand 30 degrees for a few hours,” he said. “But if you get to 28 degrees or below, it doesn’t take long to fully kill” crops.

Cornstalks that appear to be dead can be deceiving, however, because they often retain a lot of moisture after cold spells, Mr. Hunter said. Leaves of the cornstalk are only about 10 to 15 percent of the total weight of harvested silage. That’s why it’s important for farmers to test the moisture of corn to make sure they aren’t chopping it too early, he said.

“We still have a lot of moisture in the corn and ear, and it’s going to be wetter than people thought,” Mr. Hunter said. “You don’t want to harvest wet, because you can lose nutrients.”

Dairy farmer Lyle J. Wood of Cape Vincent said he got a jump-start by harvesting 200 acres of corn last week. Mr. Wood, who co-owns a 1,150-cow operation on County Route 9 with Scott F. Bourcy, said that 2,000 acres of corn and 700 of soybeans planted in the spring weren’t affected by last week’s cold weather. [Read more...]

Three four-year programs at SUNY Canton get accredited

Jordan Edwards, Brooklyn, completes a circuit board for a radio in SUNY Canton’s electrical technology labs. Greg Kie

SUNY Canton announced Thursday that its youngest bachelor degree programs received accreditation by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. The programs, which received a full site review by accreditors last year, send graduates into fields where they can expect someday to earn around $80,000.

The college received the accreditation for programs in civil and environmental, electrical, and mechanical technology. All three — which began in 2010 — boast a 100 percent placement rate, according to a college news release. The accreditation is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2012.

“The four-year educational tracks were developed to build upon SUNY Canton’s strong, ABET-accredited associate degree programs,” said Michael J. Newtown, interim dean of the Canino School of Engineering Technology. “Students have advanced career mobility through our four-year programs.”

Students in civil and environmental technology at the college are afforded this mobility through the addition of advanced courses in structural design, practical industry skills and technology. According to Adrienne C. Rygel, program director and associate professor, the four-year program builds on the two-year civil engineering technology program.

“Students build upon their classes in the natural sciences to tackle real-life problems,” she said. [Read more...]

Annual ‘Day at the Farm’ set Saturday in Chase Mills

People tour the Stauffer Farm in North Lawrence during the annual Day at the Farm in 2011. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / Watertown Daily Times

The eighth annual Day at the Farm event will come to Chase Mills this year, as the fifth-generation McKnight’s River Breeze Farm will play host this weekend.

The activities take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and are free and open to the public.

The Day at the Farm is sponsored by the St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau and is hosted by a different dairy farm each year.

“It is financially supported by the agricultural business and is all done by volunteers from the farming community,” program chairperson Mary Lou McKnight said. “This is our second time here. We did it at this location six years ago as well.”

The farm is operated by Stephen, Mary Lou, Travi, and Natalie McKnight.

The business was recently awarded the New York state Agricultural Society Centennial Farm award. The recognition is for a designated farm that has been in operation for at least 100 years.

“We do guided farm tours that include educational stations, such as animal nutrition and welfare, a milking center presentation, calf raising and care, and we also do nutrient management,” Ms. McKnight said. “Our main objective for the day is to give the public the opportunity to see an operating dairy farm.” [Read more...]

Bricks of former Mercy Hospital used for fundraising effort

A long-neck excavator with a grapple starts demolition on the west side of Mercy Care Center in May. A group is retrieving the bricks to turn them into plaques for sale. Justin Sorensen / Watertown Daily Times

With help from a few community partners, a small group of former Mercy Hospital employees found a way to preserve the Mercy legacy while raising funds to better medically serve north country residents.

Friends of Mercy Hospital worked with COR Development Co. to secure more than 1,000 bricks of the former hospital turned nursing home and medical services center. Group members will hand-clean them and turn them into commemorative plaques reading “Mercy Hospital 1894-2013.” Each one will be sold for $20 to raise money for an annual Friends of Mercy Hospital Nursing Scholarship and to purchase medical equipment for the North Country Family Health Center.

“Our careers were there,” said group founder Patricia Fralick, who worked as a licensed practical nurse at Mercy Hospital from 1980 to 1985. Some former workers “were very concerned when their place in the hospital was torn down. A couple drove by every day just to see the process.”

Now, she said, former staff members or patients, supporters and members of the general public can help continue the Mercy legacy with the purchase of a brick.

COR is redeveloping the 218 Stone St. site into a mixed-use complex with 40,000 square feet of retail and office space and up to 200 upper-floor apartments.

“Mercy Hospital played an integral role in the lives of north country residents for so many years,” said Steven F. Aiello, president of COR Development Co. “We share a great commitment with the community in recognizing its impact in upstate New York, and are happy to be working with Friends of Mercy Hospital to do so.” [Read more...]

Schumer: FDA relaxes proposed ‘spent grain’ rule for brewers

Schumer

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a revised rule that would allow brewers to continue donating and selling so-called spent grains to farmers without packaging requirements, Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Monday.

Part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the original proposed rule would have required brewers to dry and package spent grain — a natural byproduct of the brewing process — to prevent contamination before it is used by farmers to feed livestock. But that proposal drew backlash from brewers across the state and country, who said the regulation would be too costly to follow and would force them to dump grains at landfills.

According to the revised rule proposed by the FDA, brewers making less than $2.5 million a year in sales wouldn’t need to comply with packaging requirements for spent grain.

“Back in April, I made clear to the FDA that this ridiculous rule would have been extremely damaging for upstate New York, harming both our burgeoning craft brew industry and farmers alike, and I am glad the FDA realized their proposed rule was misguided and needed to be revised,” said Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., in a released statement. “This new rule, which eliminates the unnecessary burdens that could have threatened this age-old, win-win transaction, is a major victory for brewers and farmers throughout the state. Our small farmers and brewers can now rest easy that they do not have to toss potential profits.” [Read more...]

South shore lawmakers urge John Kerry to block Plan 2014

A charter crew passes by a cargo ship this summer on the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg. Melanie Kimbler-Lago / Watertown Daily Times

Southern Lake Ontario lawmakers are calling on U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry to block the implementation of a new flow plan for the lake and St. Lawrence River.

Set to replace a half-century-old water regulation plan, the U.S.-Canadian International Joint Commission’s “Plan 2014” proposal has drawn criticism from eastern and southern lakeshore communities because of increased risks of flooding and coastal property damage. [Read more...]

Agricultural drone tested at Adams farm

The Precision PaceSetter drone, equipped with six blades, is being sold by Cazenovia Equipment Co., which has demonstrated the use of agricultural drones at farms across the state. Cazenovia Equipment Co.

A camera-equipped agricultural drone swept over a 30-acre field at Deer Run Dairy in the town in late August, taking hundreds of photos while automatically flying a course set by GPS coordinates.

The demonstration using the Precision PaceSetter drone — equipped with six blades and infrared technology — was conducted by Ronald F. Porter, customer support specialist for Cazenovia Equipment Co. stores in Watertown, Lowville and Sandy Creek. Mr. Porter said the drone demonstration at the farm off Bishop Street Road, owned by Michael R. Burger, helped identify poorly performing corn and hay plants in need of more fertilizer. He said Cazenovia has conducted similar demonstrations across the state with agricultural drones, which it began selling this summer.

The most expensive drone offered by Cazenovia is the PaceSetter — priced at $17,5000 — which can be programmed to run on auto-pilot missions over fields. Users have the ability to preset the altitude, longitude and latitude of flight, Mr. Porter said. The drone is equipped with a video overlay system that uses infrared technology to show the health of plants. Pictures and videos shot by the drone allow farmers to pinpoint fertilizer and irrigation problems and soil variation, along with fungal and pest infestations that aren’t visible at eye level.

“I might take 200 pictures during a flight. When I combine them, I’m getting a picture of the field shaded from red to green, with red indicating no photosynthesis and green being high,” Mr. Porter said. “Based on those pictures, we could then give a prescription for a sprayer or fertilizer spreader to get nutrients required on the field.” [Read more...]

Career Jam gives ninth-graders hands-on experience for job opportunities

A flying robot, operated by a Clarkson robotics team member, is watched by high school students attending the Career Jam on Wednesday at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Norm Johnston / Watertown Daily Times

From virtual welding and painting to bricklaying, racing to put pillowcases on pillows, practicing CPR on dummies and more, area ninth-graders were given more than just the average job fair experience during the first ever Career Jam, thrown by the WorkPlace career center and other partnering agencies Wednesday.

Career Jam, organized by the WorkPlace and the Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, was held at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, Coffeen Street. More than 1,500 students attended and met with representatives of 95 job providers and educational programs. Employers were asked to bring as much as possible to provide the experience of working in their job.

Cheryl A. Mayforth, executive director of the WorkPlace, 1000 Coffeen St., said the Career Jam focused on seven career fields: agriculture, business, manufacturing, health care, construction, hospitality and tourism, and human services.

Watertown student Jessica Adams said that before she arrived at the fairgrounds she already knew what sort of career field she wanted to go into, being either a paramedic or a veterinarian. She stopped by several booths in the medical section of the fairgrounds and said the representatives were helpful about telling her what to expect.

“They told me to be a paramedic I need a lot of math and science, especially biology. Same if you want to be a veterinarian,” Miss Adams said. “So whatever I decide, I think I’m on the right path with my classes.” [Read more...]