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Voices in the Crowd
By Brian Molongoski & Perry White
Times Staff Writer & Managing Editor
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Voices in the Crowd

Ritchie hosting recycling event for old tires

First published: July 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm
Last modified: July 30, 2015 at 1:54 pm

Jefferson County residents can dispose of old tires for free Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to noon at the County Recycling Center, 27138 state Route 12, Watertown. Residents may drop off as many as eight tires for free.

The event is co-hosted by state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, and the Jefferson County Solid Waste Department in an effort to reduce risk of spreading disease. Sen. Ritchie said a tire can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes that could carry the West Nile or Eastern equine encephalitis viruses.

“Many people don’t realize that waste tires aren’t just unsightly, they also can be harmful to our environment and pose a threat to public health,” Mrs. Ritchie said. “I’m hopeful that people will take advantage of this free opportunity ... to get rid of waste tires that litter lawns and roadsides.”

According to Mrs. Ritchie’s office, these dropoff events have helped to eliminate 30,000 waste tires. — BWM


Stefanik host Essex County meet-and-greet

First published: July 30, 2015 at 11:24 am
Last modified: July 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, will host “Coffee with Your Congresswoman” Saturday at Essex Town Hall from 11 a.m. to noon. Following the event, Ms. Stefanik will tour the Essex institute. —BWM


Watertown council candidate releases campaign video

First published: July 29, 2015 at 4:30 pm
Last modified: July 29, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Watertown City Council candidate Ryan Henry-Wilkinson released a campaign video Tuesday highlighing his plans for the City of Watertown if elected. The video features Mr. Wilkinson’s family legacy and his great-grandfather, William J. Flynn, who served on the Watertown City Council for two decades.

The video can be found at


Stefanik supports REINS Act

First published: July 29, 2015 at 4:22 pm
Last modified: July 29, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Rep. Elise Stefanik. R-Willsboro, voted in favor of the Regulations from Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act Tuesday. The bipartisan legislation will give Congress more say in major rules and regulations set forth by the executive branch if the Office of Management and Budget estimates such regulations will impact the economy by $100 million or more.

“Whenever I travel throughout the district, one of the most common problems I hear from our small business owners and job creators is how out-of-control regulations are hurting their ability to grow,” Ms. Stefanik said. “The REINS Act would simply require that any major rule or regulation coming from the executive branch require a vote before Congress before it can be implemented.”

The act would require Congress to vote on these Executive Branch decisions.


Ritchie secures funding for fishing tournaments

First published: July 29, 2015 at 10:52 am
Last modified: July 29, 2015 at 10:52 am

State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, announced Tuesday that she has secured $150,000 in funding to support a dozen local fishing tournaments throughout the region. Mrs. Ritchie said the tournaments help promote tourism in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties.

“Whether you’re a competitive angler or someone who likes to fish for fun, there’s no disputing that fishing is a big part of our way of life here in Central and Northern New York,” Sen. Ritchie said. “And, it’s more than just an enjoyable sport. Fishing provides a major boost to our local economy, helping to support small businesses and create jobs here locally. I’m pleased to be able to deliver this funding, which will help to promote our local fishing tourneys and encourage more people — both locally and from out of the area — to take advantage of all our region has to offer.”


DeKalb Junction firefighters to get grant funds

First published: July 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Last modified: July 24, 2015 at 4:00 pm

DeKALB JUNCTION — U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., announced Friday that over $43,000 in federal funding will be provided for the DeKalb Junction Volunteer Fire Department. The money, allocated by FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighter’s Grant Program, will be used to purchase new gear and air packs.

“The dedicated men and women at the DeKalb Volunteer Fire Department put their lives on the line each day to protect our residents and property. In order to do their jobs effectively they need top-notch equipment and protective gear,” Sen. Schumer said. “This funding will allow our firefighters to purchase the vital resources they need to continue their important work of saving lives.”

Firefighting grants are awarded competitively based on a department’s financial needs and how well they follow the program’s priorities.


Ritchie finds funds for Massena girls hockey uniforms

First published: July 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm
Last modified: July 24, 2015 at 2:45 pm

State Sen. Patricia R. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, announced Friday that she has set aside a member item of $3,000 for new uniforms for the Massena Lady Raiders Hockey Team. The team took the state title this year when they defeated the Kenmore Devil Dogs 3-0.

“Through their winning of the state championship, the members of the Massena Lady Raiders Hockey Team all have demonstrated that dedication and teamwork pay off,” Sen. Ritchie said in her release. “A success like this doesn’t come overnight, it takes the determination of team members and their coaching staff—as well as the support of the community—to achieve such a tremendous goal. This funding, which will allow the squad to purchase new uniforms and keep the uniforms they won the championship in as a souvenir is just one way to show how extremely proud I am of all the team has accomplished.”

Head Coach Jennifer Gray said the win was a reward for the team’s preparation.

“The capture of the state title was a huge moment for the Massena Lady Raiders that only came after countless hours of practice and preparation,” Ms. Gray said.

The team was honored at the State Capitol earlier this year.


Former Rep. Owens: failure to pass DHS funding bill will have a devastating effect

First published: February 13, 2015 at 12:15 am
Last modified: February 13, 2015 at 12:13 am

Former Rep. William L. Owens issued a statement expressing “dismay” at the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

“The failure to pass a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill will have a devastating effect as it will shut down our borders and negatively impact national security and our local economy,” Mr. Owens said. “The Republican majority in Congress claims this is the result of the President’s Executive Order on immigration as opposed to the Republican-controlled Congress’s own failure to offer comprehensive immigration reform or to act on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill passed in the previous Congress. If my former colleagues were more serious about this issue, they would vote to revive the Senate bill and to strike the Executive Order. I would vote for this approach if I were in Congress. It is a rational compromise and good governance.”

A Democrat, Mr. Owens was first sent to Congress following a special election in 2009. He ran for the office again in 2010 and 2012 and served two full terms representing the 21st Congressional District before announcing he would not seek re-election in 2014. He now works as a strategic adviser for McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Washington, D.C., as well as for his law firm Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murname, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC, Plattsburgh.

Mr. Owens said in a email Thursday that he decided to speak out on the issue because “this would be devastating to local economies if border shut down or curtailed.”

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, was elected in November to represent the 21st Congressional District. She voted in support of H.R. 240, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which passed the House 236 to 191.

The bill has hit a roadblock in the Senate, where Democrats have repeatedly blocked the bill from coming to the floor. The Democrats object to provisions in the bill that would undo President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration — a part of the legislation Republicans included to fight what they describe as an abuse of executive authority on the part of Mr. Obama.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, blamed Senate Democrats for the impasse as well as Senate Republican leadership for failing to resolve the issue. Mr. Boehner has refused to bring a bill to the floor without the provisions undoing Mr. Obama’s actions on immigration.

Congress is facing a Feb. 27 deadline to pass legislation to fund DHS. — DPF


Stefanik named to leadership post on subcommittee

First published: February 05, 2015 at 11:34 am
Last modified: February 05, 2015 at 11:34 am

Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, has been named vice chairwoman of the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Readiness.

The 21st District congresswoman, the youngest member in the House, was selected by her colleagues for the position.

“I am grateful to Chairman Thornberry and my colleagues on the Committee for the opportunity to serve in this important position,” said Rep. Stefanik in a news release. “The Readiness Subcommittee has extraordinary responsibility overseeing the budget for the Department of Defense. From this position, I will be able to work to undo the damaging effects that the sequester is having on our military readiness as well as bring a strong voice to protect and strengthen the interests of Fort Drum. I look forward to working closely with Subcommittee Chairman Rob Wittman on these important issues.”

The Readiness Subcommittee is responsible for the single largest account within DoD’s budget, the release said.

Military readiness, training, logistics and maintenance issues and programs, military construction, installations and family housing issues, and the BRAC process are all part of the subcommittee’s purview.

Fort Drum and its proponents will likely be pleased that Ms. Stefanik is vice chairwoman of the subcommittee that oversees the Base Realignment and Closing process.



Heastie fills Assembly leadership positions

First published: February 05, 2015 at 9:11 am
Last modified: February 05, 2015 at 9:11 am

Two days after taking over the leadership of the Assembly, Speaker Carl E. Heastie announced his leadership appointments.

Unsurprisingly, Assembly members from the Greater New York City region took all but two of the top 21 appointments, with the Bronx, Queens and Long Island heavily represented.

The only two upstaters named were Majority Leader Joseph D. Morrell from Rochester, and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton of Ithaca as chairwoman of the Majority Steering Committee. Ms. Lifton held no leadership positions under ousted Speaker Sheldon Silver.

The only Democrat in the north country, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, Theresa, was named chairwoman of the Farm, Food and Nutrition Task Force. She was moved to that post from the chairmanship of the Commission on Rural Resources.

Many committees have new chairmen, but Ways and Means will still be led by Herman Farrell, and Agriculture still will be headed by William Magee, of the Madison County hamlet of Nelson.

One notable appointment is the continuation of Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Queens, as chairwoman of the influential Education Committee. She was the final challenger for the Speaker’s position, bowing out a day before the Democratic Caucus unanimously chose Mr. Heastie.


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