Saint Lawrence Spirits project gets ‘go ahead’ from Clayton

Saint Lawrence Spirits will be able to launch a distillery at the former Fairview Manor property on Route 12E in Clayton, following both a State Supreme Court decision and approval from the town’s Joint Planning Board. Submitted Photo.

Saint Lawrence Spirits will be able to launch a distillery at the former Fairview Manor property on Route 12E in Clayton, following both a State Supreme Court decision and approval from the town’s Joint Planning Board. Submitted Photo.

The town’s Joint Planning Board wasted no time following a State Supreme Court decision to approve the location of the Saint Lawrence Spirits distillery. [Read more…]

JCC President Carole McCoy announces retirement next year

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy, seen here congratulating Charles Hartley upon receiving his diploma during last Friday's commencement ceremony, announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy, seen here congratulating Charles Hartley upon receiving his diploma during last Friday’s commencement ceremony, announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Jefferson Community College President Carole A. McCoy announced she is retiring at the end of the 2016-17 academic year. [Read more…]

Schumer: NNY may lose $4.5 million in federal funds for broadband expansion

The Federal Communications Commission plans to send $170 million in unused federal funds slated to expand Internet access in upstate New York to other states. [Read more…]

Indian River Central gets OK to transfer money to complete capital project

Voters decided to allow Indian River Central School District to transfer money from other funds to help pay for the last phase of the district’s capital project. [Read more…]

Watertown school officials consider consolidation

Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry Fralick discusses upcoming changes for the district, while meeting with the Times editorial board. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

Watertown City School District Superintendent Terry Fralick discusses upcoming changes for the district, while meeting with the Times editorial board. Photo by Amanda Morrison, Watertown Daily Times.

The Watertown City School District Board of Education and superintendent are taking the first steps toward considering consolidation of the district’s elementary schools. [Read more…]

SUNY invests more than $1 million in two north country colleges

ALBANY — Two north country colleges will receive more than $1 million in grants to expand remedial instruction and support for veteran students. [Read more…]

Gov. Cuomo announces minimum wage increase for SUNY employees

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announces in a conference in New York City Monday a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour for all employees of the State University of New York’s colleges statewide. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.

15123145876136 NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s minimum wage hike to $15 per hour for all employees of the State University of New York’s colleges statewide, announced Monday, could modestly affect the north country. [Read more…]

STEM scholarship offers NNY students opportunity

CANTON – A full scholarship offered by New York state to attend college for science, technology, engineering and math related fields could be an important launch for north country students.

The state offers a full scholarship to the top 10 percent of graduating high school students to attend SUNY schools for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and who pledge to work and live in New York for five years following graduation.

State Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, is encouraging area students to consider the STEM scholarship as a good step into their future.

“The north country is home to many high-tech industries and world-class universities,” Mrs. Russell said in a statement. “This scholarship is an excellent opportunity that I hope driven young people will take advantage of so they can write the next chapter of development in the region.”

Last year, statewide, there were 553 recipients for the scholarship totaling $2.796 million.

For the north country region, including Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties, there were 15 recipients totaling $84,208.

Students looking to receive the scholarship must graduate in the top 10 percent of their class; attend a SUNY, CUNY or statutory college including Cornell and Alfred Universities; and must maintain a 2.5 grade point average or higher each semester.

For a high poverty area like the north country region, going to college could be tough to picture for many students, but schools in the region are beginning to push these STEM fields early in students’ education which could set them up for opportunities like the state’s scholarship.

“Considering the high poverty level in the area this scholarship could be a great opportunity for students who may not have the ability to go to college,” said Lisa J. Blank, the new STEM director for the Watertown City School District. “You are talking saving kids around $30,000 a year.”

Thomas R. Burns, superintendent of the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, agreed that the scholarship makes college more accessible for students.

“By providing a full SUNY tuition, the scholarship would increase the equity for student access to college,” Mr. Burns said.

Mrs. Blank has worked with several area school districts including Sackets Harbor, Lyme, General Brown and Belleville Henderson to set up programs in science, technology, engineering and math and apply for grants from the Department of Defense Education Activity.

Mrs. Blank recently helped Watertown schools secure a $1.25 million grant from DoDEA to set up STEM programming in the district.

The grant money will be used for teacher training in technology, implementation of video lessons on the computer that can be bought or developed by teachers and several technology-based extracurricular activities, including robotics clubs for elementary pupils and engineering clubs for middle and high school students.

The funding can be applied to 14 clubs.

The money also will buy two new laptop carts each for H.T. Wiley Intermediate School, Case Middle School and Watertown High School, as well as a new virtual learning system.

Mrs. Blank also put schools in touch with STEM programs including Project Lead the Way, which provides STEM curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.

Mrs. Blank also helped Lyme Central School District connect with the Full Option Science System program which provides hands-on learning science curricula for kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Seventy percent of the instruction is hands-on which increases kids’ interest in science,” Mrs. Blank said. “It is important to get kids interested in STEM at elementary school and middle school levels so they are on the right path for knowing what they want to do when they graduate high school.”

Stephen J. Todd, superintendent of the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, said anything that encourages students to go to college to become STEM coordinators would be good for north country schools.

“There is a shortage of teachers in this area particularly in STEM related fields,” Mr. Todd said. “I think this scholarship is a wonderful thing for the state as a whole. It is a good incentive for students to go into STEM instruction which could benefit our schools.”

Mr. Burns said it is important that the scholarship requires commitment from students to stay in the state after graduation.

“Requiring the recipients to sign a service agreement to stay in New York in a STEM-related field not only promotes STEM-related careers but contributes to better economic development growth while helping to limit the out migration of young people to other parts of the state and country,” Mr. Burns said.

Both BOCES facilities offer career and technical classes for students attending member schools.

“We have been working on many career-focused programs at the BOCES, and again there are some possibilities with this scholarship to insure that students are both college and career ready when they leave high school and college,” Mr. Burns said.

Mrs. Blank said the only concern Mrs. Blank said she has heard from students was that there are not enough fields that apply as STEM-related under the scholarship guidelines.

According to the New York State Higher Educational Services Corporation, the agency that provides information on scholarship and financial aid options, some approved programs under the scholarship guidelines include computer science and programming, agricultural engineering, industrial and manufacturing engineering, solar technology and mathematics and statistics.

“In the long-run, this scholarship will benefit all New Yorkers as we encourage and cultivate tomorrow’s industry leaders and secure a bright economic future,” Mrs. Russell said.

According to the state Department of Labor the median wage for workers in STEM occupations in the north country region is $59,641.

The STEM occupation in the north country with the highest median wage is a physician’s assistant, $103,685, which employed 200 people in 2015.

The next highest median wage for the north country was earned by environmental engineers, $85,216, which employed 80 people in 2015.

The lowest median wage was earned by architectural and civil drafters, $31,250, which employed 80 people in 2015.

Scholarship requirements

Be a legal resident of the state and reside here for 12 months.

Be a high school senior/recent high school graduate who will be enrolled full-time at a SUNY or CUNY college, including community colleges and the statutory colleges at Cornell University and Alfred University, beginning in the fall term following his or her high school graduation.

Be ranked in the top 10 percent of his/her high school graduating class of a New York state high school.

Be matriculated in an undergraduate program leading to a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Earn a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher each term after the first semester.

Execute a service contract agreeing to reside and work in the state for five years in the field of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

By Richard Moody, Times Staff Writer

Officials to meet Monday to discuss Knickerbocker parking after tickets issued

Signs indicated restrictions on parking outside Knickerbocker Elementary have parents upset. Photo by Richard Moody, Watertown Daily Times.

Signs indicated restrictions on parking outside Knickerbocker Elementary have parents upset. Photo by Richard Moody, Watertown Daily Times.

WATERTOWN — A number of parents picking up Knickerbocker Elementary School pupils were irritated this week when they returned to cars bearing parking tickets from city police. [Read more…]