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NCPR News Staff: David Sommerstein

Reporter/ Producer
David Sommerstein, NCPR's roving St. Lawrence Valley/Fort Drum/Tug Hill reporter, began his career in radio, strangely enough, as a high school Spanish teacher in Buffalo. While drilling verb conjugations and teaching a love for Latino culture during the day, he sat in as a late night jazz and Latin DJ at Buffalo's NPR affiliate, WBFO. The radio bug bit, and David found his way to southern Colorado/northern New Mexico (the Taos/Santa Fe area) where he was Program Director, Music Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and "Just About Anything Else You Can Think Of" Director at NPR affiliate KRZA.

Since joining NCPR's news department, David has reported from the chilly deck of a St. Lawrence icebreaker, the power-chord filled stage of the High School Rock Band Festival, and the tense Albanian street market of post-war Kosovo with soldiers from Fort Drum. David also gets to fulfill his passion for music of all kinds when he spins world dance and groove music on editions of The Beat Authority. E-mail

Stories filed by David Sommerstein

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Ken Parker with a Kentucky coffeetree, native to the Seneca territory. Photo provded by Ken Parker.
Ken Parker with a Kentucky coffeetree, native to the Seneca territory. Photo provded by Ken Parker.

Seneca Nation commits to native plant landscaping

The Seneca Nation in western New York has a new policy regarding landscaping on tribal government property. It's committing to native plants only.

"All our future plantings in our public buildings around the territory we will commit to local, indigenous plants of western New York, plants important to the Seneca people," says Ken Parker, horticultural consultant for the Seneca Nation. "And we will no longer plant and introduce to the territory Eurasian plant species."

Parker has been in the nursery business for 25 years. After living in Canada for awhile, he returned to Seneca territory and wondered why there were Norway maples instead of sugar maples. He also questioned at a Nation meeting why a new traffic circle was being landscaped with Dutch bulbs.

Click listen to hear Parker's conversation with David Sommerstein.  Go to full article
from left, are Anthony Collins, president, Clarkson University; Judge Eugene Nicandri, NYPA trustee; Dekalb Town Supervisor John Frary, St. Lawrence County Legislator Fred Morrill, Assemblywoman Addie Russell; Stephen Hunt, North Country Regional Director, ESD, Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO; David Lucht, Corning's Canton plant manager; Curt Weinstein, vice president and GM, Advanced Optics, Corning Specialty Materials; Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush; Senator Patty Ritchie; Patrick Kelly, CEO, St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency; and Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley. Photo: New York Power Authority
from left, are Anthony Collins, president, Clarkson University; Judge Eugene Nicandri, NYPA trustee; Dekalb Town Supervisor John Frary, St. Lawrence County Legislator Fred Morrill, Assemblywoman Addie Russell; Stephen Hunt, North Country Regional Director, ESD, Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO; David Lucht, Corning's Canton plant manager; Curt Weinstein, vice president and GM, Advanced Optics, Corning Specialty Materials; Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush; Senator Patty Ritchie; Patrick Kelly, CEO, St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency; and Canton Mayor Mary Ann Ashley. Photo: New York Power Authority

Corning celebrates expansion, 40 new jobs in Canton

State and local leaders dug shovels into dirt last week to celebrate the expansion of the Corning plant in Canton. Corning is investing $21 million and creating 40 new jobs.  Go to full article
Bassmaster Elite angler Randy Howell reels in a small mouth during a tournament practice session near Ogdensburg last summer. Photo: David Sommerstein
Bassmaster Elite angler Randy Howell reels in a small mouth during a tournament practice session near Ogdensburg last summer. Photo: David Sommerstein

4 St. Lawrence fishing tips from the Bassmasters

Today is day two of the Bassmasters Elite tournament on Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes. The event is part of the top professional series for sport bass fishing.

Despite the caliber of bass fishing in the area, many people don't know anything about the sport.

David Sommerstein rode along while the anglers were practicing last year for the tournament on the St. Lawrence River. He gathered these tips from the country's best bass fishermen.

***  Go to full article
Nicole Vaisey arrives at the preliminary hearing Thursday at the town of Fowler court. Photo: David Sommerstein.
Nicole Vaisey arrives at the preliminary hearing Thursday at the town of Fowler court. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Detective: kidnappers went on "shopping trip" to abduct

The woman accused of kidnapping two Amish girls told investigators she and her boyfriend "wanted to make the girls their slaves."

That's according to testimony presented Thursday at a preliminary court hearing in the town of Fowler. Detective Brooks Bigwarfe testified 25-year-old Nicole Vaisey drove herself to the sheriff's office while a massive search was on and confessed to the crime. The pair was arrested a few hours later last Friday night.

Vaisey was sent back to jail without bail on charges of second degree kidnapping.  Go to full article
A successful test launch of an intercept missile in 2013. Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency
A successful test launch of an intercept missile in 2013. Photo: U.S. Missile Defense Agency

Support at Ft. Drum for missile site that may never be built

Fort Drum is one of four locations the military is considering for a missile defense site for the East Coast. The project could bring up to 1,800 jobs to the Watertown region.

Most people who showed up to a public hearing Tuesday night in Carthage supported the idea. The biggest question is whether the project will be built at all.  Go to full article
SUNY Potsdam anthropology professor Karen Johnson-Weiner
SUNY Potsdam anthropology professor Karen Johnson-Weiner

Amish cope with tragedy and its "Big Media" aftermath

As the legal side of the kidnapping case kicks into gear, the St. Lawrence County Amish community is coping with the tragic ordeal.

An expert on Amish culture and religion says their coping hinges on the Amish sense of faith "by a deep belief that whatever is happening, they are in God's hands," says Karen Johnson-Weiner, an anthropology professor at SUNY Potsdam who has written several books about the Amish. "I think that provides them with a kind of courage that some of us might not have that keeps them from giving in to the despair."  Go to full article
The house in Hermon where Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey live. Photo: Natasha Haverty
The house in Hermon where Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey live. Photo: Natasha Haverty

DA: "potential of other victims" of accused kidnappers

Investigators are sifting through mountains of potential evidence gathered at the St. Lawrence County home of a couple accused of kidnapping two Amish girls from their roadside vegetable stand last week.

Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey, of Hermon, are in county jail on charges of first-degree degree kidnapping.  Go to full article

Screwball comedy marks leadership transition at ALCA

There's a transition going on at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake. Artistic Director Stephen Svoboda is moving on to full-time work at the AC's sister arts center, The Redhouse in Syracuse. He'll be replaced by Alex Harris.

Tonight is the opening of Svoboda's last show at the helm in Blue Mountain Lake. "The Penguin Tango," written by Svoboda, is a screwball comedy that runs through Saturday night.  Go to full article
Massena Memorial Hospital. Photo: p4hinc.com
Massena Memorial Hospital. Photo: p4hinc.com

Massena hospital explores partnership with Canton-Potsdam

Massena's financially troubled hospital is reaching out to Canton-Potsdam hospital for help. Massena Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit facility owned by the town of Massena.

Massena Town supervisor Joseph Gray says he's met twice with Canton-Potsdam hospital officials and those of its parent company, St. Lawrence Health Systems.  Go to full article
Matt Funiciello is running for the NY-21 congressional district seat on the Green Party line. Photo: Funiciello campaign
Matt Funiciello is running for the NY-21 congressional district seat on the Green Party line. Photo: Funiciello campaign

NY-21: Matt Funiciello campaigns in St. Lawrence County today

Green party candidate for Congress Matt Funiciello will make his first campaign stops in St. Lawrence County today.

The Glens Falls-based bakery and café owner will attend Seniorama, an annual gathering of the state Senior Action Council at SUNY Canton, at 10 this morning.  Go to full article

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