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North Country News

Some of the boats racing in the 2019 Mayor's Cup Regatta
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The largest summer festival in New York’s North Country has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Citing budget shortfalls from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Plattsburgh has already furloughed or laid off about two dozen employees.  The mayor says city officials will make budget concerns a focus of their weekly meetings.

The North Country Chamber has been holding periodic tele-town halls featuring business, community and legislative leaders answering questions regarding COVID-19 and its impact on the region.  Thursday morning the presidents of three northern New York hospitals discussed the fiscal stress the pandemic is putting on rural health care providers.

The Plattsburgh Common Council and its finance committee spent most of their meeting Thursday evening discussing options the city has to deal with an estimated $3.1 million decline in the budget due to the coronavirus pandemic. The panel passed a resolution that will impact dozens of city employees.

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read wears a mask as he discusses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The mayor of the largest city in northern New York discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Plattsburgh region Thursday and praised Governor Andrew Cuomo’s most recent actions to curb its spread.

With most businesses shuttered and unemployment claims rising, the North County Chamber coordinated a virtual town hall this morning with the leaders of four northern New York counties to discuss the response to and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russell Barnard Senior Living Apartments
Thom Hallock / MLPBS

On Thursday evening a senior living apartment building in Plattsburgh was quarantined after several residents tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Area 8 Clinton County Republican Legislator Mark Dame (file)
Pat Bradley/WAMC

A longtime North Country politician is resigning his seat on the Clinton County Legislature effective at the end of business today and moving to South Carolina.  Area 8 Republican Mark Dame has planned the move for some time since his wife is now teaching there.  Dame began his political career in Plattsburgh in the late 1980’s. He tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he’s not really sure how he first got into politics.

Jacob Avery
Avery for Plattsburgh / Facebook

Among the misconceptions about the coronavirus is it only affects older people. But it can infect people of all ages. 33-year-old Plattsburgh resident Jacob Avery is cautioning people to take the warnings of health officials more seriously. He and his partner are at home in quarantine recovering from COVID-19. Avery, who is seeking a seat on the Plattsburgh Common Council, tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus even though he tried to meticulously follow health advisories.

Plattsburgh International Airport new concourse
Pat Bradley/WAMC

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory recommending residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut refrain from non-essential domestic travel for two weeks because of the high transmission of the coronavirus in the area. Days later, Spirit Airlines said it was suspending all flights to and from those states including airports at Niagara Falls and Plattsburgh.  Officials in New York’s North Country say the temporary loss of flights is not a surprise.

Plattsburgh’s mayor is imposing a citywide curfew in an effort to get more people to comply with social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. Canada border crossing at Champlain-LaColle
WAMC/Pat Bradley

Canada says the Trump administration had been considering a proposal to put troops at the U.S.-Canada border amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Plattsburgh City Hall

Plattsburgh’s mayor gave an update on the city’s preparedness for the coronavirus on Thursday. The city council later heard reports from police and fire chiefs on pandemic readiness.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik
U.S. House

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik wants the federal government to protect the businesses and workers in her district as debate continues over a pandemic rescue bill in the Senate. The 21st District Republican also wants rural medical facilities assured that they will receive the necessary equipment to keep their personnel safe as the coronavirus spreads from urban areas to her rural district.

It’s an uncertain time after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all bars and restaurants must close except for takeout business for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. In northern New York, Plattsburgh’s bars and restaurants are now finding new ways to do business.

U.S. Canada border crossing at Champlain-LaColle
WAMC/Pat Bradley

President Trump announced via Twitter Wednesday morning that the U.S.-Canada border will be closed to all except essential travel.  While the move was not unexpected by border interests in northern New York, they want clarification regarding some provisions.

The Clinton County Health Department Friday night reported the third case of COVID-19 in New York’s north-easternmost county.

The Plattsburgh Common Council’s Finance and Budget Committee discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the city’s budget Thursday and what potential long-term planning they should begin considering.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik
U.S. House

The House approved legislation early Saturday to provide relief from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The Senate still must vote on the package. It includes provisions for free testing and family leave. Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik of New York 21st District was among the bipartisan supporters of the bill.  WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley spoke to her about the pandemic’s impacts.

North Country Chamber President Garry Douglas discusses implications of coronavirus pandemic
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The North Country Chamber of Commerce discussed concerns about the coronavirus and its impact on the business community this afternoon.  Concerns have spiked after the premier of Quebec announced advisory measures that would restrict cross border trade and tourism.

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read
Colin Read for Mayor/Facebook

Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read is now holding weekly press conferences and on Thursday planned to update city residents on downtown redevelopment progress.  But the conversation was overshadowed by concerns about the coronavirus.  There have been no positive tests for the virus in Clinton or Essex counties as of Friday. Read issued a joint executive order with Saranac Lake’s mayor detailing their response plans to the pandemic.  Mayor Read, a Democrat, tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley the goal is to implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for social distancing.

Miles N. Davis
Miles N. Davis For Plattsburgh / Facebook

The youngest person running for mayor of Plattsburgh has dropped out of the race.

Senator Betty Little
NYS Senate

Republican New York state Senator Betty Little, who has been in the state legislature since 1995, is in her final months in Albany. Little, of northern New York’s 45th district, is retiring from the Senate after nine terms. But there is plenty of work to do before lawmakers leave in June, including the state budget due in just over three weeks. Little spoke with WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley about some of her remaining priorities.

COVID-19 Diagram
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Northern New York and Vermont officials provided updates Thursday on coronavirus response preparedness.

From left: Assemblymen Dan Stec and D. Billy Jones with Senator Betty Little at the North Country Chamber annual legislative breakfast
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The North Country Chamber recently held its annual Legislative Breakfast, bringing in the region’s New York state representatives in Albany to report on actions taken over the past year and forecasts for the region as this session continues.  WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley was there.

Chris Rosenquest
Photo provided by Chris Rosenquest

Clinton County legislator Chris Rosenquest represents Area 9 — the northeast portion of the city of Plattsburgh. The Democrat has been in the legislature since 2016 and was just reelected. But last week he kicked off a bid for mayor of Plattsburgh.  He tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley several factors led to his decision.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik
U.S. House

Republican Elise Stefanik is in her third term representing New York’s 21st Congressional District. She spoke Tuesday afternoon with North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley about her support of President Donald Trump, New York's Green Light Law and her campaign for reelection against Democrat Tedra Cobb. 

Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall
Village of Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a popular tourist location, both for its Olympic legacy and its location in the central Adirondacks.  The popularity of AirBnB and other short-term rental options allowing local homeowners to rent their properties is creating some challenges for the village, including complaints from some residents that unregistered hotels are being operated in residential areas. Village Mayor Craig Randall tells WAMC North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley the Town of North Elba and Lake Placid have drafted a new short-term rental law and will hold a public hearing on it Tuesday evening.

Chris Rosenquest
Photo provided by Chris Rosenquest

A fifth candidate — and fourth Democrat — is running for mayor of Plattsburgh.

Bombardier logo embedded in flooring at Plattsburgh plant
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Canadian-based Bombardier announced this week that France-based Alstom has agreed to buy its transportation rail division.  It’s hoped that the multibillion dollar deal could mean more business for the Plattsburgh rail manufacturing plant.