Friday, May 18, 2018

Assemblywoman Jenne: Tour along Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shows workforce development needs, opportunities

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, said she is excited to see what will result from a collaboration between SUNY Maritime College, SUNY Canton, Jefferson Community College and Jefferson-Lewis BOCES to develop programs to train students for careers in maritime fields.

She added she was also thrilled when SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman suggested professionals from the school might travel to communities along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties and then prepare a report on the region's waterfront infrastructure needs.

The takeaways came after Assemblywoman Jenne led a two-day tour of maritime businesses and agencies in communities bordering Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

She was joined on the tour by Dr. Hoffman, Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart, and The Jefferson County Work Place Executive Director Cheryl Mayforth. Local officials also joined the group at various stops on the tour.

The final stop of the tour was at the Bonnie Castle Resort Marina in Alexandria Bay, where Norm Hutchinson, who has worked at the marina for the past 35 years, underscored the challenges of finding mechanics, machinists, upholsters and other professionals able to work on boats.

Mr. Hutchinson and his crew were busy pulling boats out of storage and putting them back in the water for the upcoming season.

He noted the ice only left the bay two weeks ago, meaning work to move the boats from storage to the water was way behind schedule. But while his crew was busy moving boats, the various maintenance shops at the marina were empty.

Mr. Hutchinson said he now farms out much of the work brought to the marina shop.

The employee responsible for designing boat lettering and graphics is a full-time elementary school teacher who only does boat work on weekends and during her summer vacation.

A former mechanic at the marina now works full-time on helicopters at Fort Drum and does boat work nights at his home garage.

"There is a lot of opportunity. We just don't have the people. We don't have the old guard working anymore. Mechanically, I could take on a lot of work, but I've only got one Merc certified mechanic, [and] one guy that works on props ...," he noted.

"Years ago there were 40, 45 employees here. Right now we have 15. One guy has been with us for 40 years, another guy 25 years. We need younger workers big-time. That's the thing we don't have," Mr. Hutchinson added.

He said the lack of a skilled workforce impacts the operation.

"When you start losing your old-timers, you have two choices: send your customers' work somewhere else or don't do the work," he noted.

Mr. Hutchinson said, for example, there is only one person in Alexandria Bay that works on the boats’ HVAC systems. It's even more difficult to find employees that work on boat generators or are trained aluminum welders.

He pointed out he put out an employee wanted advertisement for a marine mechanic earlier this year and had no response. He said he was aware of two other marinas in the area that were also looking for mechanics and had similar responses.

It was a story Assemblywoman Jenne said she and others taking part in he two-day tour heard at several stops along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

"This is just one village. A lot of it has to do with our workforce. MetalCraft in Cape Vincent has 13 employees, but they have to send their paint work back to Kingston, (Ont.) and their metal bending to Watertown," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"The work is here, but we aren't training our workforce for some of the jobs that are available. One of the themes we heard was these businesses need their employees to be able to do a lot of different things -– a mechanic, a carpenter, a welder -– if they want to be able to work year-round," she said.

"We need to take a multi-disciplinary approach to training people for jobs in the maritime sector, whether it be working on the boats or working in the hospitality and tourism industries. We need to ramp up that training," she added.

Dr. Hoffman indicated the educators that participated in the tour had heard the message about the industry's training needs.

"Addie has really challenged me. We are looking at ways we can use our expertise and bring it to your communities. We are working to engage with SUNY Canton, Jefferson Community College, BOCES, the high schools. I've been charged with developing a plan," he said.

Dr. Hoffman suggested, for example, the schools could work together on a program that allows students to earn certificates for taking some classes, obtain licensure if they took additional classes and earn an associate's degree and have the opportunity to go on to SUNY Maritime to earn a bachelor's degree.

The discussion also focused on the need to connect maritime businesses with educators to expand apprenticeship and internship opportunities.

Assemblywoman Jenne said another portion of the tour was aimed at gaining a better understanding of the infrastructure improvements needed to grow the region's maritime economy.

She said several communities on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have done multiple waterfront development studies.

Dr. Hoffman pointed out that SUNY Maritime College faculty members, like their peers at other SUNY institutions, are required to fulfill scholarship requirements.

"We have two faculty members, for example, who have been involved in helping re-develop the Port of New York for the past 20 years. We are always looking for another opportunity. They also like to write grants," he pointed out.

Dr. Hoffman said he could send a couple of faculty members to the North Country to tour the region, from the lake to the locks, and then develop a report on infrastructure needs.

Assemblywoman Jenne said that as she continues to reflect on the tour she expects to develop additional enrichment and training opportunities for young people.

IN THE PHOTOS:

TOP PHOTO:

Clayton Harbormaster Justin Taylor leads Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne and SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman on a tour of the community's riverfront. He talked about improvements to Clayton's riverfront in recent years and talked about some of the opportunities on the horizon. Pictured are clockwise (l-r); Mr. Turner; Tracy Gyoerkoe, director of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, Jefferson Lewis BOCES; Greg Hart, regional director; Workforce Development Institute; Cheryl Mayforth, executive director, Jefferson County Department of Employment and Training; and Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne.

BOTTOM PHOTOS:

Dewitt Withington (l) of Clayton discusses the operations at RJ Marine Associates LTD. The work ranges from running a barge and water taxis to operating a fuel dock. He noted he currently owns or manages six businesses as well as working as a river pilot. Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart and Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne check out the barge.

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne asks Production Manager Jesse Allen (r) of MetalCraft Marine US, Inc., a question during a tour of the facility. Thousand Islands School Superintendent Mike Bashaw (l) also joined the tour of the MetalCraft facility.

Dr. Joseph Hoffman, provost of SUNY Maritime College, checks out the wooden boats at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton. Also shown are Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart and Kathleen Morris, director of workforce development, Jefferson Community College.

Norm Hutchinson, who has worked at the Bonnie Castle Resort marina for over three decades, shows an aerial photograph of the resort properties to (clockwise) Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman and Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart before leading a tour through the marina's workspace.

St. Lawrence Seaway Associate Administrator Thomas Lavigne talks about lock operations at Eisenhower and Snell locks during a tour of the facility by Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne and several local officials. Pictured listening to Mr. Lavigne are (l-r): Ogdensburg City Councillor Jennifer Stevenson; Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart; SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman; Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick Brady; Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne; Michael Howard, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation; Massena Town Supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy and Carrie Jenne.

Russ Marvin (l) , chief executive officer of LC Drives, Potsdam, shares details of his operation with SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman (r). LC Drives is moving from the research and development phase into manufacturing ultra efficient electric motors designed for boats and wind turbines. Also shown are Ogdensburg City Councillor Jennifer Stevenson and Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne.

Wade Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority, talks about planned activity at the port this summer. He said the grain elevator went into operation this week and wind turbines are expected to arrive next month. Pictured are (l-r): Devon Sutton, supply chain manager, LC Drives Corporation; SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran; Mr. Davis; SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman; Workforce Development Institute North Country Regional Director Greg Hart and Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne.

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne makes a point at a public forum on maintaining and expanding the maritime- and hospitality-related sectors of the economy in the North Country, She made her comments after touring several businesses on Thursday and Friday with SUNY Maritime College Provost Dr. Joseph Hoffman and hearing concerns about workforce development needs.








Friday, May 11, 2018

Assemblywoman Jenne assists Indian River Ambulance Service in gaining state funding for new rig

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, recently stopped at an open house at the Indian River Ambulance Service and had an opportunity to see the latest ambulance added to its fleet.

Assemblywoman Jenne secured $125,000 in state funding to assist the organization, which was seeking funding for additional space and a new ambulance.

"It's a relatively new operation and brought together volunteers from three local departments so they would have the resources necessary to serve the community's needs," she said.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she recognized the ambulance service's needs had grown as it transitioned to the stand-alone organization so she worked to secure state funding so the volunteers would have the necessary resources.

"They had a whole lot going on at the same time, and I was happy to be able to work with them so they had a vehicle they needed to provide essential services to our communities," she said.

The Indian River Ambulance Service responded to 720 calls in 2017.

Lance T. Ronas, chief executive officer and director of operations, said the unit's primary service area includes the towns of Philadelphia, Theresa and Antwerp, the hamlet of Oxbow and two ambulance extraction points at Fort Drum.

Mutual aid is provided to Alexandria Bay, Redwood and Evans Mills.

"We have shown our reliability and are doing more and more mutual aid," Mr. Ronas said of the Philadelphia-based unit that counts four paid staff members and 52 volunteers.

The not-for-profit was incorporated in 2010 and consolidated the EMS service that previously was part of the Philadelphia, Theresa and Antwerp volunteer fire departments.

Mr. Ronas said the funding secured by Assemblywoman Jenne was extremely beneficial.

"It allowed us to upgrade our fleet. We have limited financial resources so being able to upgrade from a 1999 rig to a 2013 was very important. That funding was vital for keeping our operation sustainable without sinking our finances," he noted.

IN THE PHOTOS:

TOP PHOTO:

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne poses for a photograph with board members, staff and volunteers from the Indian River Ambulance Service in front of the latest addition to the unit's fleet. Assemblywoman Jenne assisted the Indian River Ambulance Service secure $125,000 in state funding for the purchase. Pictured are (l-r): Tim Spicer, Michael Stoffel, Cody Hadfield, Jacob Ratliff, Joe Martin, Alicia Knight, Kristen Petrillo, Lance Ronas, Assemblywoman Jenne, Julia Halteman and Travis Donelson. Michael and Travis are on the Board of Directors. Mr. Stoffel serves as the board president, Mr. Donelson is on the board of directors and Mr. Ronas is the ambulance service's chief executive officer and director of operations.

BOTTOM PHOTOS:

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne visits with Lance T. Ronas (c), chief executive officer and director of operations, and Michael Stoffel, president of the board of diectors, about the latest addition to the Indian River Ambulance Service's fleet. Assemblywoman Jenne assisted the Indian River Ambulance Service secure $125,000 in state funding for the purchase. Mr. Ronas said the 2013 ambulance, which has been used as a demonstration model, came with under 7,000 miles and a full warranty. It replaced a 1999 rig.

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne poses for a photograph with Lance T. Ronas, chief executive officer and director of operations, in front of the latest addition to the Indian River Ambulance Service's fleet. Assemblywoman Jenne assisted the Indian River Ambulance Service secure $125,000 in state funding for the purchase.



Thursday, May 10, 2018

Assemblywoman Jenne keeps fighting for the North Country, bringing home results

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne pledged to continue working to assist River District communities move forward in efforts to revitalize the region's economy at a recent kickoff event for her campaign.

She said she will also continue to bring the perspective of a seventh-generation resident of the North Country to policy discussions on issues ranging from agriculture to Fort Drum.

"I really want to ensure the North Country continues to be a place where people feel they can stay, make their home here and raise their families," she said.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she also works with community leaders and businesses in efforts to grow the region's economy and create more living wage jobs.

"I want to continue to make the North Country a beautiful place. I want to be that elected official they see as someone who fights for what they need, cares about their concerns and gets results for them," she said.

Assemblywoman Jenne, who secured $125,000 in funding for the community room addition to the Crosby Public Library where she hosted the event, said she has worked hard to secure funding for projects, large and small, from one end of the district to the other.

"The River District is full of communities like Antwerp that are looking for places to come together, have camaraderie and share an evening," the assemblywoman pointed out.

She also helped secure funding that led to the completion of the renovation of the third floor at Pickens Hall and is working with Waddington officials to secure funding for renovations at the Clark House.

She noted the $1 million allocation for the city of Watertown she fought for to be included in last year's state budget is providing programs aimed at moving people out of poverty.

Assemblywoman Jenne pointed to the $900,000 she has secured for the farm-to-school program in the North Country over the past three years that has opened new markets for local farmers and brought healthy foods to school cafeterias. She noted this year's state budget also provides additional funding to grow the farm-to-school program statewide, a $10 million program.

The assemblywoman said she fights to make sure the North Country's schools and colleges get the funding they need to provide quality educational programs to their students.

She said one of her most important missions since first being elected to the state legislature has been fighting to make sure North Country schools get equitable funding from the state.

"We're a poor area. It's important I fight for funding in Albany to ensure that our schools can offer the types of programs our kids need to be able to compete, not just here, but all over the country and in the world," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"That has been a hallmark of what I have done for the last five terms, fighting for equity in funding. I also work hand-in-hand with our school districts here in the North Country to find out when they need a little bit of extra help with and to fight to provide that extra funding for them to ensure kids have a well rounded education and not just a bare minimum," she stressed.

Assemblywoman Jenne secured an additional $300,000 in funding for the Ogdensburg City School District and $100,000 for the Watertown City School District in 2016-17 alone.

She also secured additional funding for the Alexandria, Lyme, Canton, Hammond, Heuvelton, Massena, Morristown and Norwood-Norfolk central school districts last year.

'Those extra opportunities to learn and have experiences really make a difference in a kid's ability to go and feel that they are just as prepared as peers who come from very wealthy areas of the state," she added, noting as a North Country high school graduate she personally benefitted receiving a high quality education.

Assemblywoman Jenne said her advocacy for the North Country in Albany isn't limited to the education sector.

"I'm working to make sure we pass policies and bring other types of funding to the north country to try and address things everybody needs - stronger health care, infrastructure improvements to maintain and improve our roads and bridges, proper funding for our towns and villages and support for their initiatives," she noted.

She pointed out she is continuing to advocate for policies to help local farmers, protect Fort Drum and grow the region's economy.

The assemblywoman said she has been raising concerns about the plight of dairy farmers for the past couple of years but was repeatedly assured it was part of a normal cycle.

But she said that cycle of low milk prices has now lasted four years, and many dairy farmers in the state are being forced to consider going out of business.

"I'm out there fighting for our dairy farmers. Our dairy farmers are going out of business, and those families are losing up to three generations of equity in their business and land," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

"You talk about the devastation of the economy in the North Country. Losing our dairy industry is going to be like when we lost our paper industry. Just families devastated," she added.

She said the state needs to take action now to protect the dairy industry.

She said she has developed a milk premium proposal that would allocate state funding to farmers during times of low milk prices to sustain a major sector of the state's economy. She pointed out the federal government also needs to make significant changes in its milk pricing structure and regulations.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she has spent considerable time over the past year looking at the region's maritime and tourism industries.

"We were devastated by flooding last year up and down the river and lake. A lot of businesses suffered tremendously," she said.

The assemblywoman noted she worked in the Thousand Islands to put herself through college.

"I understand what it's like when nobody shows up to get pizza, when the boaters don't come to get gas. I lived in that economy, and I knew my hours were going to be cut short and I wasn't going to have a big enough paycheck if there weren't people in Alex Bay," she said.

Assemblywoman Jenne said that background helped her as she joined her colleagues representing communities along the river and Lake Ontario to fight to get $95 million in state funds allocated to the flood recovery effort to assist municipalities businesses and individuals impacted by the high water levels.

She said she has also spent the past several months doing an assessment to understand steps that can be taken to better protect the region if there are future flooding events as well as to grow the maritime sector economy in the region.

"I think we have opportunities to invest in our communities and to build strong so we if we have flooding again we aren't as devastated," the assemblywoman said.

"But then we should also look at what we can do in terms of our workforce. Are there opportunities we are missing? If we are going to invest in new infrastructure, should we be looking to attract new types of businesses to our area? What will our children and young adults need for skills so they can be successful and continue to make a living and support their families off our wonderful natural resources we have including Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River?" she asked.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she has been seeking answers to those questions in private meetings and at public forums in the past few months to determine positive steps that can be taken to raise the region's profile and grow the local economy.

She said she takes pride in her work, makes a commitment to spend considerable time in the communities in her district, talks to community leaders and constituents on a regular basis, listens to their concerns and works in Albany to address those issues.

"It's hard work if your heart is in it. I work hard every day because my heart is definitely here in the North Country," she said.

"It's a pleasure for me to be able to actually sit down and understand what is going on in our communities. All too often elected officials fly into a community for an hour and then fly out. I do take the time. I like to spend time in our communities, really listen to what people are saying and hear them," according to the assemblywoman.

"That's possible because I make it a priority to be here rather than be somewhere else where I might be rubbing elbows with fancy people. I'd rather be here with my friends and neighbors helping them make their communities places they can be proud of," she stressed.

She noted another critical component of her work deals with addressing individual concerns of businesses and constituents in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties.

She noted two staff members are assigned to assist constituents in crisis, whether it be businesses seeking to obtain the licenses and permits necessary to open their doors or a veterans needing services in a time of crisis.

"I know for a fact those staff members have literally saved lives," Assemblywoman Jenne said, noting that assistance isn't simply limited to River District residents.

Assemblywoman Jenne said she is looking forward to talking about the work she has been doing for the North Country during her campaign for re-election.

"There is a lot to tend to in this district. Everybody is worth my time. Getting around, understanding what they need and then figuring out how I can help them be stronger," she noted.

"I want to continue to work hard. I want to continue to make this beautiful North Country a place where people feel they can call it home, where they see there is opportunity but more importantly where they see someone fights for what they need and what they care about and gets the results they deserve," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Canadians seeing benefits of doing business in the North Country

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne says business officials from Canada attending a workshop heard first hand from some of their colleagues about the benefits of doing business in St. Lawrence County.

The Commercial Service of the United States Embassy hosted a workshop in Ogdensburg for Canadian companies interested in exploring business expansion opportunities in the U.S. market. The event was sponsored by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency and the American Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

"This was a spectacular event for Canadian firms that have shown an interest in expanding into the United States. The business community members from Canada at the forum - and they came by the dozens - were engaged, asked good questions and had an opportunity to find out about the great opportunities to do business in this region," Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne said.

Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, presented the key note address.

This workshop included presentations on topics ranging from establishing a U.S. corporation and work visas to tax implications for Canadian firms and incentives for business expansion projects.

Assemblywoman Jenne told the workshop attendees that all levels of government are working together in an effort to grow business and jobs in the North Country.

"We are working in a cooperative approach across the region, a cooperative approach to economic development. We will make sure everybody you need to know gets brought to the table," she said, welcoming members of the Canadian business community to St. Lawrence County.

"We have communities with university settings here. We have traditional manufacturing communities that are shifting toward high tech. We also have bucolic settings, if that better suits your needs," she added.

"We also have redundant internet, and now we have communities that are one gig up, one gig down. We have five colleges from Watertown to Massena, and they have strategic relationships with other institutions of higher education," the assemblywoman pointed out.

Assemblywoman Jenne said the North Country workforce is talented and capable. She said the skill set they carry - rooted in the region's agricultural roots - includes a willingness to work hard and the ability to problem solve, traits many learned as they watched their grandparents at work.

"A lot of North Country kids, because of those work skills, are snapped up wherever they go to find work. We know we generate a world class workforce. It would be great if you could help us keep them here," she said.

"We have everything you need to succeed here, and we are here to help you," Assemblywoman Jenne stressed.

The afternoon session was highlighted by a presentation by William Fry, president of Canexsys Network. He talked about his firm's recent establishment of a manufacturing facility in Ogdensburg.

"It was exciting and gratifying to hear Mr. Fry share the story of his business opening its doors in Ogdenburg. His experience showed the messages they heard from state, county and local officials weren't just a sales pitch. Hats off to the team at the St. Lawrence County IDA and the OBPA for being able to back up what they say. The takeaway was it is essential to continue doing the hard work of developing and attracting small businesses," Assemblywoman Jenne reiterated.

"We are seeing with Canexys, for example, that work has translated into employment opportunities for local workers, and the company expects to continue to increase the number of employees at its Ogdensburg plant," she noted.

Canexsys Networks Inc. has leased a space at the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Commerce Park. The company specializes in the manufacture of electronic circuit boards, connectors, metal fabrication and injection mold plastic.

Mr. Fry said Canexsys has reached full capacity at its current manufacturing facility and started at looking at options for expansion in Ontario and in the United States.

"We have a lot of U.S. customers, and we had to expand. We also looked at South Carolina and Arizona, but this area was best for us. We came here because the business was right for us, not because we were looking for U.S. customers," he stressed.

Mr. Fry, who said he lives on the other side of the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg, said his relationship with local officials dates back two years to a similar Expand to the U.S. workshop.

"Everything you are hearing here is true. Our costs to run a plant here are considerably cheaper on all sorts of levels ... Our electricity is about one-fifth of what you are paying," he said.

"The enthusiasm you feel in this room is genuine. They mean it. The resources the IDA provided havemade it so easy. They set up a meeting for me, and everybody was in the room - Empire State Development, three banks, everybody I needed to meet with," he recalled.

"We started here in June. We are up to 16 to 18 employees. The plan was 11. We hired another six this week. The workforce here is positive, upbeat. It has been a very positive experience," the Canexsys president reiterated.

Assemblywoman Jenne said it was obvious Mr. Fry's message was well received by Canadian business leaders in the room considering expansion into the United States.

"We know creating more employment opportunities in the North Country is critical. It is clear the work being done in this region is starting to get results. This week's workshop offered proof local economic development officials are doing the right things to attract more jobs to our region," she said.

IN THE PHOTOS:

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne speaks at the Expand to the U.S. workshop held at the Dobinsky Center in Ogdensburg.
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Monday, October 16, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne on hand for first cutting at Indian River grow racks

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne recently stopped at Indian River Central School to watch students harvest the first greens from the district's new grow racks.

The district, utilizing funding secured by Assemblywoman Jenne, purchased grow racks from 2445 Organics of Massena to raise products that will be used in the district's cafeteria.

Assemblywoman Jenne said the district's plan calls for high school and middle school students to grow produce in their classrooms and then use that produce to expand menu options in the school's cafeterias.

She noted each tray in the grow racks can hold 12 flats of plants. Indian River expects to use the racks to grow salad greens, basil, cilantro, kale and spinach.

Assemblywoman Jenne secured funding for the second year of the farm to school pilot program in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties in the 2017-18 state budget.

Indian River is one of 19 schools in the North Country taking part in the farm-to-school pilot program this school year.

"Each school embraces farm to school in its own way," Assemblywoman Jenne said. "It's interesting to see how big schools like Indian River do things compared to small schools like Hermon Dekalb.”

"It helps me fine-tune the program as the data we are collecting gives me the arguments to ensure future programs are flexible enough to serve district needs," she added.

She said the $300,000 allocated for the pilot program this year is part of over a $1 million included in the budget for farm to school initiatives around the state that will help schools purchase more food from local farmers and expand access to healthy local, food for students.The pilot program for the North Country is being administered by the Adirondack North Country Association.

She noted indoor grow racks were purchased by 19 percent of the schools participating in the first year of the pilot program.

"Having students involved directly in growing their food has really helped spread the word about the farm to school program," Assemblywoman Jenne noted.

She said those grow racks have fueled increased student interest in the growing process and created excitement about the access to locally grown foods on school grounds.

"The kids take pride in their work and can get immediate positive feedback from their peers. It’s a great learning environment and is what we need to keep our youth engaged in agricultural ventures," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Indian River has also purchased apples, tomatoes, organic potatoes, and watermelon from local producers in recent months.

"The funding for this pilot program is not only allowing schools to bring fresh local food into their cafeterias, but it is also being used in conjunction with other funds that will allow students to access for even more products from local farmers," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

The Indian River Central School District, for example, is also working with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County to expand its farm to school initiative after receiving a planning grant from the USDA.

Assemblywoman Jenne said farm to school programs are benefitting students at schools around the North Country.

"It's clear the kids are getting more excited and interested in eating fresh, local foods. It's healthier for the kids, and it's benefiting our local growers, producers and our local economy,” according to the assemblywoman.

IN THE PHOTOS:

TOP PHOTO:

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne keeps an eye on Indian River Central School student Ethan Ruttan as he harvests the first greens from the school's new grow rack. The racks were purchased with funds from Assemblywoman Jenne's North Country farm to school pilot program.

BOTTOM PHOTOS:

Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne (foreground) and Indian River Central Food Service Director Ann Easter check out the greens being grown in the district's new grow racks.

Indian River Central School students (l-) Ethan Ruttan, Nolan Drake, Eric Albro and Hunter Hoffman join Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne with salads made from greens grown on the district's new grow racks.

Indian River Central School Food Service Director Ann Easter discusses the farm to school pilot program with Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne and the school's business administrator, Joseph Dougherty.




Thursday, October 12, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Deadline approaching for annual North Country Department Store


Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne says applications are still being accepted for the annual North Country Department Store scheduled for Nov. 18 at the Indian River Middle School.

"The applications have started rolling in, and we know the numbers typically escalate in the weeks before the event. We fill our limited space on a first come, first serve basis," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

The North Country Department Store, a one-day event, typically attracts approximately 90 vendors. This year's event will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Indian River Middle School off Route 11 in Philadelphia.

The vendors typically sell products ranging from jewelry, housewares, artwork and home decor to antiques, toys, sporting goods and honey and specialty foods.

The show features vendors from Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.

"This is an effort to showcase the many small businesses that give our North Country such unique offerings. It's an effort to connect customers with vendors from our own backyard, and this event is timed to be near the start of the holiday shopping season," Assemblywoman Jenne said.

Vendors must register for the North Country Department Store by Nov. 8 by emailing judy@addiejenne.com or by calling (315) 786-0284 or (315) 386-2037.

Proceeds from the event are divided between the Indian River FFA and Noah's Ark Preschool. The organizations provide volunteer support for the event.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Assemblywoman Jenne: Funding available for water quality projects on farms


Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, has announced New York State has allotted $50 million in grant funding for water quality projects on farms.

The funding is part of the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act Assemblwoman Jenne supported in this year’s state budget as part of her continued efforts to ensure safe drinking water and necessary environmental protections for all New Yorkers.

“It takes an incredible amount of hard work for farmers to make necessary infrastructure improvements in their operations in these challenging times for our ag industry, and this funding will help them implement important water quality projects,” Assemblywoman Jenne said.

There are over 1,000 farms with more than 200 cows and calves across New York State. The funding will help those farms invest in proper management and storage of nutrients, such as manure. If not stored properly, manure can be washed away with runoff, possibly contaminating both drinking and groundwater.

The funding will also assist farmers in complying with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) new environmental requirements.

The first application period, with $20 million available, is currently open and closes on Nov. 20.

County soil and water conservation districts can apply for the program on behalf of eligible farmers. Each proposal has a maximum award of $385,000, which includes funding for engineering and construction expenses.

Grant awards will be announced by mid-December. An additional $15 million will be available in both 2018 and 2019. Further information and online applications can be found by visiting agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.

"Agriculture and our rivers and lakes are critical economic drivers in the North Country. This program will benefit our farmers and our environment," Assemblywoman Jenne stressed.