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NCPR News Staff: Joanna Richards

Watertown Correspondent

Joanna Richards grew up in Louisville, Kentucky but feels like a true north country native now that she owns winter boots rated for temps down to forty below zero. She worked for an alt weekly paper, as an associate editor for the NPR series This I Believe, and as a staff writer for an arts and entertainment weekly in Louisville, before moving to Watertown in 2008 to work as a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times.

She's thrilled to be working in radio again as the Watertown correspondent for North Country Public Radio and especially enjoys doing stories about intriguing local subcultures. Outside of work, she is a regional explorer, vegetarian cook, and regular volunteer for various community groups, as well as a voracious reader, aspiring pool shark and an orange belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. E-mail

Stories filed by Joanna Richards

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Drought-stricken corn. Photo: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, some rights reserved
Drought-stricken corn. Photo: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, some rights reserved

Drought threatens hay, corn crops

The hot, dry weather is taking a toll on crops in the region. Scattered heavy rains have brought some relief to some areas, but overall, production of field crops like hay and corn is suffering. As Joanna Richards reports, it's been decades since the north country experienced a summer so dry.  Go to full article
This wind farm on Canada's Wolfe Island can be seen from the Cape Vincert shore. Photo: NapaneeGal via Flickr. Some rights reserved.
This wind farm on Canada's Wolfe Island can be seen from the Cape Vincert shore. Photo: NapaneeGal via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Cape Vincent mulls new rules governing wind development

The town of Cape Vincent has been torn over the prospect of a wind farm for years. A local committee has just completed a proposed new zoning law. Joanna Richards reports that local officials hope that those rules and not the state's new Article X process will govern future wind development in the town.  Go to full article
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is flanked by MetalCraft Marine officials Thursday in Cape Vincent.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is flanked by MetalCraft Marine officials Thursday in Cape Vincent.

Gillibrand says economy requires investment to stimulate growth

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is traveling around New York making her case for Democratic economic policies. As Joanna Richards reports, her tour brought her to a growing boat manufacturer in Cape Vincent.  Go to full article

Fort Drum soldier becomes citizen at White House ceremony

It's a national tradition for the White House to perform a naturalization ceremony for new U.S. citizens on Independence Day. Joanna Richards reports that this year, the ceremony includes a Fort Drum soldier.  Go to full article
You're getting the byproduct of the midwest power plants, where their emissions travel hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Jefferson County air scores an "F" for smog

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association gave jeffreson County residents an unpleasant surprise. In a report on air quality across the country, the association gave the rural North Country county a grade of "F" for ozone pollution, commonly known as smog. As Joanna Richards reports, it all depends on what's up-wind.  Go to full article

Free horse vaccinations intended to prevent deadly EEE virus

Last year the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis killed at least a dozen horses and a four-year-old Oswego County girl. This week, state Senator Patty Ritchie is hosting two clinics in the north country where horse owners can have their animals vaccinated for free. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article
Michael Hunter, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Ron Robbins, owner of Robbins Family Grain and partner in Old McDonald's Farm, inspect army worms they found in a wheat field on Robbins's property.
Michael Hunter, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, and Ron Robbins, owner of Robbins Family Grain and partner in Old McDonald's Farm, inspect army worms they found in a wheat field on Robbins's property.

Army worms invade Jefferson County farms

A pest has invaded farm fields throughout Jefferson County. Army worms, which are actually caterpillars that transform into moths, migrate up from the south every year to northern New York. This year, a major outbreak of the worms is threatening widespread damage to crops and big financial losses to some farmers. Joanna Richards reports.  Go to full article
Volunteer firefighters at work in Carthage. NCPR file photo
Volunteer firefighters at work in Carthage. NCPR file photo

Emergency services suffering from lack of volunteers

Questions were raised a few weeks ago about emergency services in the north country when a local volunteer department was late responding to a fire in the town of LeRay in Jefferson County. The mutual aid system was activated and a nearby department responded to the blaze; fortunately, no one was hurt. But, as Joanna Richards reports, the incident did highlight a persistent and growing problem among the north country's primarily volunteer emergency services: a lack of manpower.  Go to full article

Congressman Owens says Cuomo administration "noncommittal" on new water levels plan

The new water levels proposal for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario has garnered some criticism from a group of state lawmakers along the lake's southern shore. This week they asked the governor to oppose the plan.

Last week, Congressman Bill Owens came out in favor of the proposal and said he'd ask for Governor Cuomo's support. As Joanna Richards reports, Owens and environmental advocates say the opposition's arguments aren't based on the facts of the new plan.  Go to full article
They need to show how their project relates to the plan and that somehow it's consistent with the plan.

Regional economic council fields funding questions

The North Country Regional Economic Development Council is preparing for an influx of funding applications this July. Regional councils are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to distribute economic development aid throughout the state using a community-based, bottom-up approach to building New York's economy.

NCPR's Joanna Richards attended a public forum by the council in Watertown last night and has this report.  Go to full article

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