Whew! the legislative session is over! In case you missed it, here’s the Capitol Confidential blog’s wrap-up of what happened, and here’s the Cuomo Administration’s post-session report. Regionally, St. Lawrence, Essex, Clinton and Franklin Counties won the right in the legislature to increase their sales taxes. And here’s what North Country Sen. Patty Ritchie had to say about the session.
Now let’s all move on with our lives up here in the North Country.
In Clinton County, two more school districts are looking for ways to save money by working together (recently, see Canton and Potsdam, as well as Huevelton, Morristown and Hermon-DeKalb.) Plattsburgh City and Beekmantown Central schools have agreed (in a unanimous vote) to contract with educational consulting firm Castallo and Silky, to see how they can collaborate. That’s according to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. The firm will begin its study, which will cost the districts $20,000 plus expenses, this summer. It’ll work closely with a citizen advisory committee, the paper reports.
The City School has also approved the hiring of the same firm to determine how it can better use its school buildings (that’ll cost $25,000.) The paper reports that board members have mixed feelings about one possible outcome of the study, school closures: Member Fred Wachtmeister said he wouldn’t support closing any schools; member Steve Krieg, whose children, the paper notes, already lived too far from their neighborhood schools to walk, says he’d be open to looking at the idea. Interestingly, board member Clayton Morris (who voted against the study) said he wouldn’t support the idea of closing schools at all — in fact, “I see us maybe adding someplace.”
If you live in St. Lawrence County and use bridges (and who here doesn’t? They’re pretty much everywhere), some news in North Country Now may leave you feeling somewhat unstable (get it?): Apparently dozens of bridges on the county’s state and county roads are officially designated “structurally deficient.” At the same time, funding for bridge repairs has been reduced, leaving not enough money for replacements of bridges or equipment. The highway department, which deals with bridge repairs, has also lost 20 people since 2007.
County Highway Superintendent Toby Bogart told NCN that he doesn’t believe any bridges in the county are unsafe, the bridges aren’t getting the attention they need. More on the bridges and what it means to be “structurally deficient” in the article.
Finally, a lovely story about deer in the legislature. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is introducing legislation calling for a tax deduction for hunters who donate venison and turkey to feed the hungry, and for those who process that meat. This story from the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. Apparently (I had no idea!) the economic impact of hunting in New York is huge, with hunting contributing more than $1.5 billion to the state’s economy annually.
Schumer says in the article that although hunting has been growing, donations of venison have declined, in part because of processing costs. The legislation will, he said, reward hunters for donating meat by offsetting those costs. He’s co-sponsoring it with Democratic and Republican senators from Alaska, Idaho, Arizona and Wyoming.
From our newsroom today: U.S. Rep. Bill Owens on the failure of the farm bill; and Canton-Potsdam Hospital CEO David Acker on why he believes there’ll be fewer hospitals in the North Country in the future.