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Fire destroys shack off Ridge Road in Watertown

First published: August 28, 2014 at 8:17 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm
A fire rages at a makeshift shack deep in the woods off Ridge Road on Thursday night. No one was injured in the explosion and fire.

WATERTOWN — A shack deep in the woods off of Ridge Road was destroyed in an explosion Thursday night, as crews struggled to get to the site of the fire.

The fire at the makeshift shack, about 20 feet by 20 feet in size, at 25778 Ridge Road was reported around 7 p.m.

No injuries were reported, according to first responders at the scene.

The shack was about 800 feet from the tree line, causing some challenges for firefighters trying to get water to the scene. However, by 7:30, firefighters relayed that the fire was limited to ground level, and had not spread to nearby trees.

Pete T. Conklin, a neighbor, said he heard a couple of explosions from his home. He said two men, each about in their mid-20s, told him they had left a light on in the shed, overheating an electronic generator that set off propane tanks at the site.

Crews from the town of Watertown, Rutland and Tylersville fire departments responded to the scene, along with Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies and state police.


Two women accused of fighting on Gotham Street

First published: August 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm

WATERTOWN — City police charged two residents with disorderly conduct after they allegedly fought on the 400 block of Gotham Street.

Police said Dianne M. Wood, 46, of 114 Franklin St., Apt. 405, and Bobbie Jo Hamm, 42, of 22673 Lewis St., fought a little after 4 p.m. Wednesday, and continued to do so after officers responded to the scene.

Charged at 4:42 p.m., they were released with appearance tickets for City Court.


Tony Stewart to return to competition Sunday

First published: August 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 5:46 pm
In this April 11, photo, Tony Stewart stands in the garage during practice for a NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Darlington Speedway in Darlington, S.C.

Tony Stewart will return to Sprint Cup competition Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, ending a three-race hiatus after his car struck and killed a fellow driver during a dirt-track race.

The three-time NASCAR champion has not raced since Aug. 9, when he hit Port Leyden native Kevin A. Ward Jr. at a sprint car event in Canandaigua.

Stewart hastily pulled out of the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen the next morning, then skipped races at Michigan and Bristol Motor Speedway.

Stewart, who was described by police as “visibly shaken” the night of Ward’s death, has been in seclusion ever since. Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Brett Frood has said the emphasis was on giving Stewart time needed to get him “in a better place than he is.”

Stewart’s only comment since the crash was a statement the day after the crash in which he said “there aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.”

Ward had climbed from his car after it had spun while racing for position with Stewart. The 20-year-old walked down onto the racing surface waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront Stewart.

Authorities said the first car to pass Ward had to swerve to miss hitting him. The front of Stewart’s car then appeared to clear Ward, but Ward was struck by the right rear tire and hurtled through the air. He died of blunt force trauma.

Stewart will return with a decision pending on whether he will be charged in Ward’s death. Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero has said investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart. Povero said Thursday the investigation is still ongoing.

Meanwhile, the 43-year-old NASCAR superstar will move forward with his career and attempt to salvage his season.

NASCAR released a statement saying that Stewart was eligible to return because he “has received all necessary clearances required to return to all racing activities.” NASCAR said it would have no further comment until President Mike Helton speaks Friday afternoon.

Stewart, who has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts, is one of the biggest stars in the garage. His peers have been protective of him as questions emerged in the aftermath of the crash, and it pained them that Stewart was grieving in private and had cut off communication with so many of them. He will talk to the media for the first time since the fatal crash on Friday.

NASCAR rules state a driver must attempt to either qualify or race the car in every points-paying event to be eligible for Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, unless a waiver is granted. There was no immediate word if NASCAR would grant that waiver.

Since Ward’s death, NASCAR has announced a rule that prohibits drivers from exiting from a crashed or disabled vehicle unless it is on fire until safety personnel arrive. Last week, Denny Hamlin crashed while leading at Bristol and stayed in his car until safety personnel arrived.

But Hamlin then exited his vehicle and angrily tossed a safety device at Kevin Harvick as he passed by moments later. He was not penalized.


Cuomo announces fund offering $10M in loans for NNY businesses

First published: August 28, 2014 at 3:16 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the establishment of the North Country Economic Development Fund on Thursday, which will help businesses across eight counties tap into low-interest loans.

Designed to help businesses expand and create jobs, the $10 million fund was created as a result of a long-term power contract between the New York Power Authority and Alcoa. On Thursday, the Development Authority of the North Country’s board of directors agreed to administer the fund, according to an agreement made with NYPA.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lauded the establishment of the fund as a boon for small businesses to stay competitive.

“This fund will give local businesses access to the capital they need to invest in land, equipment and technology that will enable them to remain competitive in the 21st Century,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Supporting these efforts will in turn help strengthen the region’s economy and create jobs in the North Country.”

James W. Wright, executive director of DANC, said the fund will have a major impact on businesses across the north country.

“We think it’s a great tool to be utilized to assist in economic development in the north country,” he said. “There’s always an absence of capital available in the north country, and having an additional source of funds to be committed is an advantage. In addition, it can help leverage other sources of money that can be available to businesses.”

DANC will take loan applications from businesses looking to expand in St. Lawrence, Clinton, Franklin, Essex, Jefferson, Lewis, Hamilton and Herkimer counties. Expanding enterprises within the state boundaries of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation also are eligible.

For every $25,000 lent from the fund, at least one job must be created or retained. Businesses are eligible to apply for loans of up to 30 percent of the planned project cost, with the ceiling for the loans set at $300,000. Funding applications will be reviewed by a board representatives from the authority, NYPA, North Country Alliance and Empire State Development.

Funding will be available to manufacturers, agribusinesses, technology companies, assemblers, wholesale distributors and warehouses. It will be available for building construction and rehabilitation, land acquisition and the purchase of machinery or equipment. Funding is also available for business improvement districts and nonprofit entities eligible to apply for community revitalization projects. Retail and market applicants also may be eligible, but must meet special criteria in order to be considered for a loan.

Gil C. Quiniones, president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, said in a statement that the fund will be an effective mechanism for spurring economic development.

“Providing low-interest, upfront capital to businesses looking to expand will help to support job growth and complement other measures by the Power Authority and New York State to bolster the region’s economy,” he said.


Alcohol, Substance Abuse Council to become PIVOT

First published: August 28, 2014 at 2:19 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm

WATERTOWN — The turning point of recent health care changes is summed up in one word for the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County: PIVOT.

Executive Director William W. Bowman said the agency’s new name, PIVOT, reflects the direction of the local, state and national delivery of health care, including substance abuse services. Changing how the agency does business and what is and will be offered will be reflected with the nonprofit’s rebranding efforts, he said.

“We know we’ll have to operate in a new environment,” Mr. Bowman said. “For the past 30 years we’ve done substance abuse in our own silo. We know we’ll have to have a whole new set of outcomes we can (accomplish). We know we’ll have to be working in other conditions through a substance abuse lens.”

Transitions the agency is experiencing are reflective of trends in health care today: looking at all of the needs of a patient or client versus only subspecialty services. PIVOT’s changes come after AIDS Community Resources changed in 2013 to Access, Care and Resources for Health, or ACR Health. ACR Health had been open to serve many people in need, but had focused on people living with HIV and AIDS. The nonprofit was named a health home, to promote clients’ health and try to keep them out of hospitals and emergency care. Specific targeted case management soon will not be recognized by the state, so a few agencies have made the proactive transition.

Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions also has evolved, and will soon drop much of its name to just become Credo. The nonprofit had focused largely on outpatient and residential care for people with alcohol and substance use addictions, but recently opened a mental health clinic.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bowman said the overall shift to become PIVOT will be fully effective Jan. 1. PIVOT will focus on creating and sustaining healthy people, families, schools and communities.

“Some of what we do will continue, but we also know we’ll help clients by pivoting to focus on more well-rounded care for clients,” he said. “In the future, our ability to get grant funding and other resources will be limited if we do it by ourselves. We feel by branching out and being knowledgable and working with other conditions will set us up for success.”

Down the road, he said, more changes may be coming, but they all will center on what is best for the care of clients.

“When you hear the name ‘abuse’ it reflects we’re only looking at problems,” Mr. Bowman said. “With ‘PIVOT,’ we’re looking at outcomes. You have to adapt to the times.”

This also isn’t the first time the agency has adapted to changes. Founded in 1957 as the Jefferson County Committee on Alcoholism, the agency became the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County in 1988 to reflect growing community issues with both alcohol and substance use.

PIVOT, located within the Marcy Building at 167 Polk St., will have the same telephone number, 788-4660. The new, updated website is


Theresa receives $50k for culvert repair

First published: August 28, 2014 at 3:27 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 4:32 pm

THERESA — The town will receive $50,000 to repair a culvert under Countryman Road, according to a news release from state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.

The road is frequently used by school buses.

Theresa Supervisor Steven Marcinkowski said in a statement that the new funding would create a safer transportation network for residents.

Sen. Ritchie’s news release said the town received more than $112,000 in Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program funding, as well as more than $13,000 in extra aid to help its highway department, because of this past winter’s harsh weather.


DOT warns of I-81 delays for Labor Day weekend travel

First published: August 28, 2014 at 3:42 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

WATERTOWN — The state Department of Transportation is reminding motorists there will be delays on Interstate 81 over Rices Road that could affect Labor Day traveling.

The department said traffic in the area is being reduced to one lane in each direction. Southbound traffic is crossed over to the northbound lanes so that traffic in both directions use the northbound bridge.

The department said that even though no work will take place over the holiday weekend, motorists should still plan ahead for potentially heavy traffic volume.


Rensselaer Falls man dies in accident at Gouverneur quarry

First published: August 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm

GOUVERNEUR — A 54-year-old Rensselaer Falls man has died following a fall Monday at Gardenscape Quarry, 164 Seavey Road, according to state police.

Investigators said Thursday that they received a report of the death of Glenn F. Dibble at approximately 6 a.m. Tuesday.

State police have determined that there were no signs of foul play.

Troopers said Mr. Dibble was working at the quarry at about 3:15 p.m. Monday when he entered a storage building to obtain wooden planks from the rafters.

He climbed onto pallets to reach the rafters, lost his balance and fell approximately 10 feet, landing on his head and neck. None of the other workers witnessed the accident, troopers said.

His body was located Tuesday morning when plant workers arrived for their shifts.

St. Lawrence County Coroner Kevin Crosby responded to the scene that day and ordered the removal of his body to Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg.

An autopsy performed Tuesday, by Dr. Samuel A. Livingstone determined that the cause of death was a laceration of the spinal cord at the atlanto-occipital joint in conjunction with a C2 fracture, all due to blunt force trauma.

Mr. Crosby ruled the manner of death to be accidental.


Route 12 reopened after accident in Clayton

First published: August 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

CLAYTON — Route 12 between Woodard and Hart roads in the town was reopened at 11:55 a.m. Thursday, about an hour after the road was closed due to a motor vehicle accident.

No further details were immediately available.


Watertown City Hall to be closed for Labor Day; no bus service Monday

First published: August 28, 2014 at 10:59 am
Last modified: August 28, 2014 at 10:59 am

WATERTOWN — City Hall will be closed Monday in observance of Labor Day, and city buses will not run that day.

There also will be no refuse or recycling services on Monday. Trash and recyclables pickup for the holiday week will be one day later than usual.

For more information, call Watertown’s Department of Public Works at 785-7842.

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