Watertown airport receives nearly $530K in federal support

Watertown International Airport will receive $527,136 in federal aid to purchase snow removal equipment. [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…]

Schumer urges USDA to help Watertown company with permit

Courtney Schermerhorn, site manager for Midway International Logistics, gives the Times a tour of the facility Friday. Bureaucratic red tape has caused the company to lose a $1.75 million contract to import meat from Canada. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

Courtney Schermerhorn, site manager for Midway International Logistics, gives the Times a tour of the facility Friday. Bureaucratic red tape has caused the company to lose a $1.75 million contract to import meat from Canada. Photo by Justin Sorensen, Watertown Daily Times.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has stepped in to help a local company get through bureaucratic red tape to receive a federal permit to import meat from Canada. [Read more…]

Cuomo to push upstate initiatives to counter regional disparity

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, left, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, put their arms around Jim Ridgeway, a District 4 representative for the United Steelworkers Unions from Pulaski, in November at the Alcoa West Plant in Massena. Gov. Cuomo held a conference call Monday with media outlets to discuss the upstate rehabilitative initiatives in his 2016 Executive Budget. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, left, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, put their arms around Jim Ridgeway, a District 4 representative for the United Steelworkers Unions from Pulaski, in November at the Alcoa West Plant in Massena. Gov. Cuomo held a conference call Monday with media outlets to discuss the upstate rehabilitative initiatives in his 2016 Executive Budget. Photo by Jason Hunter, Watertown Daily Times.

Downstate New York gets a lot of love, and upstate is left out in the cold.

That was the underlying message in a Monday conference call between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and media outlets to discuss the upstate rehabilitative initiatives in his 2016 Executive Budget. [Read more…]

Westelcom needs status as rural carrier to deploy broadband in NNY

Westelcom doesn’t have the cash flow needed to invest in deploying broadband Internet because it was reclassified last year as an urban telecommunications carrier, and elected federal officials are pushing to get the company’s rural status back. [Read more…]

February 2016: Business Briefcase

MILESTONES

Watertown Chamber names award winners

The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce recently announced recipients of 2015 Business of the Year awards. [Read more…]

ReEnergy chief warns biomass plant could close in 90 days

A load of wood chips is unloaded in 2012 at ReEnergy Lyonsdale’s cogeneration plant on Marmon Road in the town of Lyonsdale. Watertown Daily Times photo.

A load of wood chips is unloaded in 2012 at ReEnergy Lyonsdale’s cogeneration plant on Marmon Road in the town of Lyonsdale. Watertown Daily Times photo.

LYONS FALLS — Without a power purchase agreement, the ReEnergy Lyonsdale wood-chip-burning cogeneration plant could close in 60 to 90 days, according to company CEO Larry D. Richardson. [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

Governor could bridge funding gap for Orleans water project

A state Department of Transportation truck makes a stop at the salt barn on Route 12 in Collins Landing. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.

A state Department of Transportation truck makes a stop at the salt barn on Route 12 in Collins Landing. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.

COLLINS LANDING — The office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may soon award grant funding needed by the town of Orleans to break ground on a $12.3-million water project, according to a businessman who learned about the matter from an aide to an elected state official. [Read more…]

Developers say projects on track after Army spares Fort Drum major reductions

After learning that only 28 Fort Drum soldiers will be cut by the Army, developers planning projects in the Watertown area breathed a collective sigh of relief Thursday. [Read more…]