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Road conditions are terrible, and a few other opinions

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I again found myself unable to focus my opinionated self on a single topic since we have so much going on, so here is my take on a few recent issues in the news.

OUR POOR ROADS

Roads across St. Lawrence County are in sorry shape. This winter has required more snow plowing than I remember in decades, which has really dug up the asphalt, and severe frost heave is also taking a toll. Repairing the damage will prove expensive for the county and its municipalities.

The cost of road repair will only add to an already high cost for snow and ice removal, wear and tear on road equipment and employee overtime. This winter will pinch taxpayers, as if your fuel bills weren’t already socking you in the wallet.

In Ogdensburg, the state Department of Transportation and city Department of Public Works have already been patching holes. “Rough road” signs have become common sights lately. It’s a good thing the city is planning to rebuild Paterson Street this year, because if it didn’t need it before, it certainly does now.

Winter isn’t over yet, and it will be a while before road problems can be addressed. In the meantime, be prepared for a bumpy ride.

KINNEY NURSING HOME IS A LOSS

The apparent pending closure of the Kinney Nursing Home in Gouverneur is a sad situation for the community and the people it serves. It’s too bad that its needs were neglected for so long. I understand that its facility needs are simply too great for the Gouverneur Hospital, which took over the troubled E.J. Noble Hospital to shoulder. For starters, it doesn’t have an adequate sprinkler system and has been cited repeatedly for it by the state Department of Health. From what I am told, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

A community effort appears to be building to save it, but I fear it is beyond reprieve. At this point, the nursing home’s main priority should be making sure its residents find safer surroundings.

That being said, Kinney Nursing Home’s absence will create a vacuum for long-term care options in that part of the county. It would behoove another provider to explore whether offering some kind of service to Gouverneur and its surrounding communities is feasible so local people who need long-term care can stay closer to home.

AN INTERESTING ELECTION YEAR

This election year should be an interesting one for the St. Lawrence County Legislature. I haven’t heard anyone singing lawmakers’ praises, with the county needing to annually borrow money because it doesn’t have the cash to make payroll, raising its sales tax rather than making any real attempt to streamline its existing costs and rethink the services it provides, and failing to take a hard stance against the state’s new gun control measures despite repeated calls for them to do so from a too-big-to-ignore number of county residents.

It’s no wonder the county Democratic Committee needs to invest in television ads to tout the party’s accomplishments on the county board; those achievements aren’t obvious unless they point them out.

Political leaders on both sides of the aisle are shooting for contested races in all 15 districts this year. We should have a lively build-up to November.

WOOLF BREAKS RADIO SILENCE

Democratic 21st Congressional District candidate Aaron Woolf, Elizabethtown, appeared in Watertown last week and spoke with reporters for about 10 minutes before meeting behind closed doors with Jefferson County Democrats. It might not have been the heart-to-heart conversation the media has sought to gain a deeper understanding of who he is, but it at least appears his radio silence has broken.

Mr. Woolf said he isn’t saying much publicly yet because he is still educating himself about the needs of the sprawling district. That’s fair enough. But I have to wonder how much he is learning about voters’ needs by talking only to political party leaders. I hope he soon realizes that his campaign strategy should also include talking to north country residents to demonstrate how he could make our lives better if he gets elected.

CANCER CENTER MARKS 20 YEARS

The Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is turning 20 this year, and is marking that milestone by expanding its offerings. A new linear accelerator will allow for more focused cancer treatments and further eliminate the need for patients to seek treatment at bigger hospitals.

The $4.2 million project is expected to be completed in May.

In today’s Glance At The Past, we feature a photo of the center just after it opened in 1994.

The cancer center’s services have afforded literally thousands of people the opportunity to seek life-saving treatment close to home since it opened 20 years ago. Ogdensburg and its surrounding communities are fortunate to have its services.

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