Clayton business donates bottled water to Orleans residents

A group of volunteers fills water jugs at Frontenac Crystal Springs, Clayton. The water is being donated to the company in order to provide clean water to residents in the town of Orleans who have been affected by groundwater contamination. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

A group of volunteers fills water jugs at Frontenac Crystal Springs, Clayton. The water is being donated to the company in order to provide clean water to residents in the town of Orleans who have been affected by groundwater contamination. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

CLAYTON — The owner of Frontenac Crystal Springs has decided to donate up to 1,000 five-gallon jugs of spring water, filling a void for town of Orleans residents affected by long-standing groundwater contamination. [Read more…]

New Pizza Hut approved by Canton Village Planning Board

CANTON — The village Planning Board on Tuesday night unanimously approved a site plan for a new Pizza Hut in the University Plaza on Route 11. The new site is about 200 yards from the existing Pizza Hut and will include a drive-through area. [Read more…]

Alcoa in Massena to lay off 37 workers at end of February

Thirty-seven Alcoa employees will be involuntarily laid off at the end of February. The company had originally planned to cut 487 positions until a deal to keep the company operating in Massena was negotiated with state officials and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who announced the agreement two days before Thanksgiving. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

Thirty-seven Alcoa employees will be involuntarily laid off at the end of February. The company had originally planned to cut 487 positions until a deal to keep the company operating in Massena was negotiated with state officials and Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who announced the agreement two days before Thanksgiving. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

MASSENA — What was originally 487 jobs that would have been lost at Alcoa’s Massena operation has been trimmed to 85, including 37 involuntary layoffs.

The original 487 positions would have been eliminated had Alcoa followed through with plans announced on Nov. 2 to close the Massena East smelter rather than modernizing it, and idling the Massena West smelter.

But, under a deal negotiated with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Sen. Charles E. Schumer and announced two days before Thanksgiving, the company made commitments to keep the plant open for the next 3½ years and maintain 600 full-time equivalent jobs. The agreement is retroactive to Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2019.

Company officials announced this week that 85 positions needed to be cut. But, after retirements, voluntary quit packages and transfers, the number of involuntary layoffs was reduced to 37 individuals who will lose their jobs as of Feb. 27, according to Robert A. Smith, United Steelworkers Local 420-A president.

“They reduced our numbers by 85 total. After the voluntary quit, retirement and transfer processes, they posted Tuesday that they were laying off 37 people involuntarily,” he said.

Mr. Smith said seniority was defined by the date workers started at the Massena West plant, so those who transferred after closure of the East Plant weren’t allowed to transfer their seniority and were part of the layoffs.

“When you talk about company seniority, it’s defined as the start date at this location,” he said.

Mr. Smith said even one layoff was too many, but the situation could have been worse.

“One layoff is difficult. If you look at the bright side, thanks to Senator Schumer, Governor Cuomo and Senator (Joseph R.) Griffo and their efforts, 37 is better than 487,” he said.

Under the terms of the agreement, the New York Power Authority will provide $30 million in low-cost hydropower to Alcoa. But that reduction in cost will fluctuate if the price of aluminum increases in the global metals exchange market.

NYPA’s Board of Trustees approved the agreement in December, revising a 2014 deal with Alcoa. NYPA is now accepting written comments on their proposed contract, and will take public comments during a hearing scheduled for 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Frank S. McCullough Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center in Massena. The proposed agreement can be viewed at nypa.gov.

“Under the legislation that created Preservation Power, a public hearing must first be held before any award by our trustees is finalized. This also applies to our Expansion Power and Replacement Power Programs in Western New York,” NYPA Media Relations Manager Steven P. Gosset said. “The hearing is standard procedure for NYPA and was not called specifically because the allocation involves Alcoa.”

Anyone who wants to make statements at the hearing is asked to provide to NYPA, in advance of the hearing, their name and the name of the organization or group they represent. They’re also asked to bring two hard copies of their oral statements and limit their statements to five minutes.

Written statements that are provided by close of business on Feb. 12 will also become part of the record of the hearing.

For more information, call 914-390-8085 or email secretarys.office@nypa.gov.

By Bob Beckstead, Watertown Daily Times

Study outlines 5-year strategy to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy

Matt Warren, right, a customer support representative for Frazer Computing, Inc. provides phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing, Inc., 6196 US-11 in Canton. Also pictured is Mike Burnett, left, also a customer support representative. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

Matt Warren, right, and Mike Burnett provide customer phone support Wednesday at Frazer Computing Inc., Route 11, Canton. A five-year plan compiled for the New York Power Authority recommends small business growth among ways to boost St. Lawrence County’s economy. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

CANTON — A $4 million economic development study just released by the New York Power Authority lays out a five-year strategy for reversing St. Lawrence County’s stagnant economy. [Read more…]

Miami developer mulls building outlet mall, arena near Fort Drum

EVANS MILLS — A Miami developer is considering building a 600,000-square-foot outlet mall with a multi-purpose arena near Fort Drum’s main gate off Route 11 in LeRay, according to the town supervisor. [Read more…]

Dairy farms install robotic milking systems to offset $15 wage

Dairyman Jeffrey C. Murrock said a robotic milking system was recently installed at his farm as a way offset the potential impact of the governor’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal, seen here in use Friday. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Dairyman Jeffrey C. Murrock said a robotic milking system was recently installed at his farm as a way offset the potential impact of the governor’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal, seen here in use Friday. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Dairyman Jeffrey C. Murrock said a robotic milking system was recently installed at his farm, a move made to offset the potential impact of the governor’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal. [Read more…]

Local experts discuss north country’s economic outlook at Chamber event

The Economic Forecast event featured a panel of five speakers discussing the economic trouble spots and assets in the north country.

The Economic Forecast event featured a panel of five speakers discussing the economic trouble spots and assets in the north country. Photo by Stephen Swofford, Watertown Daily Times.

Trying to get a glimpse of the local economic future is more like staring into an opaque globe than a crystal ball, noted Donald C. Alexander, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development. [Read more…]

JCIDA chief: $15-an-hour proposal could drive ‘handful’ of area businesses out of state

A handful of area businesses “across the gamut of sizes and sectors” say they’d consider moving out of New York if the governor’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal materializes, according to the chief of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency. [Read more…]

Watertown meat plant developer: Proposed St. Lawrence County slaughterhouses could be outcompeted

This artist’s rendering shows how the New York Meat Co. at the Jefferson County Corporate Park would look when fully built. Submitted by Lunco Corp.

This artist’s rendering shows how the New York Meat Co. at the Jefferson County Corporate Park would look when fully built. Submitted photo by Lunco Corp.

Planners of small-scale slaughterhouses in Potsdam and Oswegatchie should be afraid of being overwhelmed by a larger meat plant being developed in the Watertown area, contends the developer of that plant. [Read more…]

Town of Lowville chooses not to participate in joint GIS project

LOWVILLE — The Development Authority of the North Country plans to seek state funding for a joint Geographic Information System upgrade project on behalf of several area municipalities, but the town of Lowville won’t be one of them. [Read more…]