Watertown

Payne Horning / WRVO News

When Watertown's mayor and city council announced that they had hired Rick Finn as the new city manager, they cited his experience as one of the reasons for his selection. Finn has been a city manager in five municipalities. But some of his experiences in those jobs are raising some concerns.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown's $10 million downtown revitalization can move forward now that state officials have decided how the city can spend the prize money

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Watertown City Council has hired Rick Finn as its next city manager. The New York native has served as a city manager for five other municipalities, most recently in Bay City, Michigan. 

The SUNY Brockport graduate has ties to Watertown. His son was stationed at the Fort Drum Military Base three years ago.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown city councilors worked for weeks to whittle down an 8.7 percent tax increase included in former city manager Sharon Addison's proposed budget, going through departmental requests line by line. And on Monday night, they succeeded in their goal of getting it below the state mandated tax cap - passing a budget with a 1.5 percent tax increase.

"This was bare-knuckle budgeting," said Councilor Mark Walczyk. "We really dug in and we were responsible and we forced accountability to the taxpayers."

Sarah Harris / File Photo

Sharon Addison is no longer Watertown's city manager. She's departing city hall to work at the Fort Drum Military Base one month before her contract officially expires. The Watertown City Council opted not to renew her contract earlier this year over disagreements about how she's handled a years-long legal battle with the local firefighter union.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown lawmakers have been engrossed in budget sessions for the past couple of weeks, pouring over the $45 million budget line by line looking for potential savings. The goal is to get the tax increase below the state-mandated tax cap, which is about 2.4 percent.

Friends of Mark Walczyk

Watertown City Councilor Mark Walczyk is running to challenge long-time Assemblywoman Addie Jenne (D-Theresa) in the 116th Assembly District, which is located in the North Country.

Republican Mark Walczyk was elected to the Watertown City Council back in 2015. But the 32-year-old has plenty of government experience, having served as a legislative director and most recently district director for State Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), who represents Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown is applying for a federal grant to help pay for new firefighters, but officials are divided on whether it will ultimately save the city money.

Watertown Fire Chief Dale Herman will file the application on behalf of the city, hoping to bring on four new firefighters with the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. It would be the first time the fire department has hired since 2012.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

The tide may be turning in the long-running feud between the city of Watertown and its local firefighter union. The new city council continues to take steps toward resolving the legal battle has dragged on for nearly four years.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown is forming a commission to review its city charter. The goal is to determine if the city would be better served by a different form of government.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown is in the early stages of crafting its budget and the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap is yet again a major part of the discussion.

City manager Sharon Addison says Watertown will exceed the cap in the next budget when they factor in the cost of giving all city employees the standard annual two percent raise. The city broke the cap last year. The announcement comes as the council prepares to take on big projects like renovating the Thompson Park pool.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Every one of Watertown's city councilors voted not to renew Sharon Addison's contract as city manager. All were elected after she was appointed to her position in 2012.

"We have different very different priorities than that of previous councils and it was a good opportunity to make that decision now," said Councilor Cody Horbacz.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

As communities in upstate like Oswego continue to get pounded by the relentless snowfall, some are running out of space to put it. One controversial option for municipalities is disposing some snow into waterways.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

A judge is upholding the city of Watertown's decision to break its contract with the local firefighter union.

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown's local fire union endorsed two candidates for city council this year, neither were the incumbents who have been on the council for the past three years while the city and union battled over a new contract. 

Julia Botero / WRVO News File Photo

Watertown will no longer pay overtime costs in the city's fire department that are caused by sick leave, the latest development in the bitter feud between the union and city government.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Several seats on Watertown's city council are up for grabs this election, but the outcome of the vote could have more of an impact on the city's mayor.

City council candidate Ryan Henry-Wilkinson says after years of legal battles between the city and its firefighter union, he's campaigning on restoring public trust in city government. Henry-Wilkinson hopes to help accomplish that by changing Watertown's form of government to a strong mayor system replacing the city manager by making the mayor a full-time position.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Several projects that are underway in Watertown to transform the city's downtown are getting a major boost. The city has won New York's top prize in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) competition for the North Country, and the $10 million that comes with it.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Watertown City Council adopted a resolution Monday night opposing several wind farms that are under development near Fort Drum. Mayor Joseph Butler says the wind turbines would interfere with military base's radar system, impeding its training operations.

“We’re in a position where we don’t want to weaken the strength of the mission readiness at the base, we want to enhance it,” Butler said. “So we’re just making a statement to express our support that we’re not anti-wind, we’re priority Fort Drum.”

Gino Geruntino / WRVO News File Photo

Oswego is offering up to $400,000 to individuals, business owners and or organizations that can help the city combat poverty. It's part of the Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI), which aims to help 16 cities improve the lives of their lower-income residents.

Two Watertown head shops under fire for carrying 'designer drugs'

Aug 31, 2017
Office of the Attorney General

Head shops in Watertown are coming under scrutiny this week, as the New York Attorney General's office announced charges against two stores.

When you think of a head shop, you might think of a store that sells rolling papers or pipes. But Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told reporters gathered in Watertown Tuesday that several local shops have branched out — selling products that contain mind-altering substances. Those include salvia, nitrous oxide, or concentrated hemp oil.

Payne Horning; Google Images

Earlier this year, Watertown opted to go on a road diet. The city adopted a complete streets policy to make its roads more accommodating for all users. That means adding new lanes for bicyclists and expanding pedestrian crosswalks.

City planner Geoff Urda says there’s been some backlash from residents because vehicles now have less room to maneuver. But Urda says that does not mean cars are being devalued.

Sarah harris / NCPR

Thousands of law enforcement officials and community members gathered at Fort Drum Saturday afternoon to mourn the loss of New York State Trooper Joel Davis.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Hundreds lined the streets of downtown Watertown Saturday for the funeral procession of New York Ttate Trooper Joel Davis, who was killed while responding to a domestic abuse call last week. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York state has announced what projects it will fund as part of the $10 million prize Oswego won last year in the state's Downtown Revitalization Competition.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A record amount of rainfall this year has been one of the contributing factors to Lake Ontario’s high water levels and the damage along its shoreline. But all the rain has at least one benefit for the city of Watertown.

WXXI News File Photo

It's another wet week in much of central and northern New York, offering no relief to those experiencing flooding along Lake Ontario and in the area.

The National Weather Service says rainfall in the region is several inches above average this year, for the month of May especially. Last month was the second-wettest May on record for the Watertown area and the third-wettest in the Syracuse area.

But National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Welch says that's not the main cause of the flooding many communities in the region are experiencing.

Katie Keier / Flickr

Several central and northern New York legislators are praising the state's new budget as a win for the region's schools, but they say it was a hard-fought battle that is not over yet.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Officials from the Thompson Park Zoo in Watertown are asking the city and Jefferson County for more financial support. They say it may be necessary just to keep the zoo open.

Former zoo board member Peter Schmidt says the past ten years have not been easy. The zoo has operated at a loss eight of those years and cycled through six executive directors. That has put needed upgrades and projects on the back burner. Now, Schmidt says, the zoo is at a crossroads.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown leaders are pressing forward with their goal to transform the city's downtown area despite losing out on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) competition last year. Plattsburgh ultimately captured the $10 million grant in the North Country region. But Watertown officials say that's not stalling the city's momentum.

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