Silver Demands Fair Labor Practices for Farmworkers

AUDIO – 051513 – Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act – Sheldon Silver

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver joined with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Labor Committee Chair Carl Heastie today to announce the Assembly’s intention to pass the Farm workers Fair Labor Practices Act (A.1792-A). The measure grants collective bargaining rights, workers’ compensation, disability and unemployment benefits and other worker rights and protections to all farm workers. The New York State Constitution unequivocally states that all employees shall have the right to organize and bargain. However, New York’s farm workers, which support the $4.5 billion agricultural industry, are excluded from these protections as a result of a loophole in the New York State Labor Relations Act. This translates to approximately 100,000 hardworking New Yorkers who are forced to live and work in deplorable conditions without the basic protections that are afforded to all New Yorkers under this law. “It is reprehensible that in a state that has long been a leader in instituting civil rights and equality for all that we continue to deny farm workers basic labor protections,” said Silver. “Through the approval of the Farm workers Fair Labor Practices Act, the Assembly Majority is taking a bold step in the right direction and removing legal exclusions that perpetuate the unfair treatment of farm workers.”

The Farm workers Fair Labor Practices Act would extend collective bargaining rights to farm laborers, in addition to allowing farm workers one day of rest each week. The legislation would also:

1) Affirm that eight hours constitutes a legal day’s work;

2) Require farm workers to be paid for overtime after more than an eight hour work day or in excess of 40 hours per week, at the rate of time and a half;

3) Grant farm laborers access to unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and disability benefits;

4) Eliminate the authorization for certain farm workers to be paid less than the minimum wage;

5) Expand the sanitary code to cover all farms and food processing labor camps intended to house migrant workers;

6) Require foremen receiving notice of an injury to a worker suffered in the course of farm employment to inform the employer; and

7)  Make it unlawful to discharge an employee for requesting a claim form regarding injuries incurred in the course of employment.

Assemblywoman Nolan, sponsor of the bill, said, “Farm workers deserve the same labor protections that other workers currently receive. It is an injustice to think that in 2013, farm workers are still fighting for basic equality under the law. I commend the leadership of Speaker Silver and many of my colleagues who have championed this legislation for the last decade that intends to provide real protections for farm workers.”

Assemblyman Heastie said, “New York’s farm workers are the backbone of the state’s multi-billion dollar agricultural industry, but are not provided the professional support and job security they deserve. The Farm workers Fair Labor Practices Act provides farm workers with the dignity and respect they need to provide for their families.”

Kerry Kennedy, president, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, said, “My father, Robert Kennedy, cared deeply for the people who grow and harvest our food. But more than four decades since he and Cesar Chavez broke bread together, the basic civil rights they fought for remain a dream deferred for millions of farm workers in America. Our state legislators came to Albany to be leaders, to help build a brighter future for our state. This is the time to lead: to finally allow farm workers to enjoy the same basic rights as the rest of us.”

Mario Cilento, president, NYS AFL-CIO, said, “The fact that in 2013 farm workers aren’t treated like every other class of worker in our state is simply shameful and should be a cause of embarrassment for all New Yorkers. Farm workers are quite literally responsible for feeding our families, and as such we all have a duty to join their fight for the basic rights that the rest of us enjoy. We thank Speaker Silver, Assembly members Nolan and Heastie, and their Assembly Majority colleagues for their leadership and unwavering commitment to farm worker justice.”

Andrew Pallotta, executive vice president, NYSUT, said, “Farm workers are the backbone to the state’s nearly $5 billion agriculture industry, and like any worker in the Empire State, they deserve real labor and health protections. This is not only a legal issue, but a moral and human rights issue that will ensure dignity and safety for these important laborers.”

Donna Lieberman, executive director, NYCLU, said, “Denying farm workers basic labor protections is a shameful legacy of the Jim Crow era. Farm workers perform demanding and difficult work, often at poverty level wages. They put food on our tables, and they deserve basic protections that other workers take for granted. It’s time to end this injustice through these sensible and humane reforms.”

Earl Eichelberger, director, Catholic Charities, NYS Catholic Conference, said, “The exclusions that deny farm workers basic labor protections have an ignoble history. We have a responsibility to address this injustice. I have been involved in this struggle for over a decade and others from the Catholic Church, including Bishop Howard Hubbard, have been for much longer than that leading the call for change. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to press for passage of the Fair Labor Practices Act. It is long overdue. The time is now.”

Milan Bhatt, co-executive director, Worker Justice Center of New York, said, “For decades, farm workers have comprised the backbone of New York State’s economy, yet continue to face among the most grueling work conditions and egregious workplace violations of workers in any industry. This legislation seeks to put an end, once and for all, to the dehumanizing exclusions from basic labor protections instituted over 70 years ago, a remnant of this nation’s slavery era. The fact that New York allowed this tradition of oppression to persist in bodies of law intended to maintain dignity and respect in our workforce is nothing short of a disgrace. We can wait no longer for the passage of the Farm worker Fair Labor Practices Act.”


The New York State Farm Bureau says this legislation would impose factory style labor mandates on family farms.  From New York Farm Bureau’s perspective, a vote in support of the so-called “farm worker fair labor practices act” is a vote against New York’s hard working farm families and the farm workers employed. Keep in mind; the advocacy groups behind this legislation include unions, college students, and downstate members of the Legislature who do not understand either the realities of providing food for our tables.

More Comments from the Farm Bureau;

An overwhelming majority of farm employees, who routinely return to the very same farms every year to make a good wage and receive fair treatment, are not the ones demanding changes to the law that will restrict their hours and limit new opportunities.  This 25 plus year old bill seeks ignores the fact that numerous state and federal regulations already exist that mandate fair labor, health and safety standards, farm worker agreements and employee protections, all of which New York Farm Bureau supports.  Farmers have never asked to be exempted from basic laws which govern all New York employees, such as the payment of minimum wage requirements, whistleblower protections, anti-human trafficking statutes and workplace harassment.

Attempting to apply overtime and collective bargaining rules that exist for factories are not appropriate or suitable for our state’s farms.  Simply put, harvesting crops doesn’t fit into a typical work week schedule. Rainy weather may keep farm employees out of the fields for a couple of days, and when the sun is out, ripe food can’t always wait for the next day’s 8-hour shift to begin.  Farms need flexibility that suits their individual needs in order to get local foods to local tables.

Just as important to consider are the employee ramifications of passing this bill.  Many farmers simply can’t afford overtime costs, as farmers are price-takers and at the mercy of global market conditions setting commodity prices.  Farmers who can’t afford the additional costs will limit the hours available to individual workers who come to this country to work hard and seek out additional hours to earn a decent living. Farms pay well above minimum wage, typically $9 to $12 an hour, and farmers in New York have the double edged sword of being the second highest in terms of farm labor payroll costs of the top 10 agricultural states according to research by Farm Credit East.  But the employees’ work would be shut off if they were to hit a state mandated limit on hours, which forces the employees to simply travel to a different state, or pick up additional hours on another farm, becoming much more like retail workers than farm employees.   Bottom line, they would make less income for their families back home under the Assembly’s plan.

New York’s farmers are dependent on quality, skilled agricultural labor, and go through great lengths to ensure safe working, living, and wage conditions for employees. Farm work agreements, required by state law above and beyond the Wage Theft Prevention Act, lay out the work to be performed, wages, work days, and a host of other important arrangements. If an employee is unhappy, they have every right and ability to simply vote with their feet and leave employment, just like everyone else in today’s work place.

If farm labor advocates were serious about helping farm employees, they would spend their great efforts in Washington, DC advocating for serious immigration reform to bring migrant workers who are here in this country with questionable documentation out of the shadows where they can lead more open and productive lives in this country.

We are hopeful that the public at large, and representatives in the New York State Assembly will consider the serious consequences of this bill, should it become law, to the ability of our family farmers to provide local foods to local tables.  It is noteworthy that the former individuals pushing this bill have actually been indicted for failure to adequately compensate their own employees.  New York Farm Bureau finds it ironic that the primary legislators behind this bill have rarely set foot on New York farms, or talked to real farm workers working in the real fields of New York.

This legislation will force serious change in our family farms, causing many of our members to stop producing the diverse fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products that we do now and turning more to row crops that can be grown more readily in this state, which is already an extremely costly one in which to farm.

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NCCC Graduates Fill Sparks Athletic Complex

AUDIO – 051313 – NCCC Graduation

Two hundred eighty five students were awarded Associate degrees at the ceremony, and Eighty six received one-year certificates. Graduates filled the center of the Sparks Athletic Complex and were flanked on either side by parents and friends sitting in the bleachers and standing along the back wall.. We caught up with a few of the students during the proceedings..

NCCC Commencement


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Gov’t Reveals Hospital Charges to Medicare

AUDIO – 050913 – Medicare Publicizes Hospital Charges CVPH vs AMC pricing

For the first time, the government is publicly revealing how much hospitals charge, and the differences are astounding: Some bill tens of thousands of dollars more than others for the same treatment, even within the same city.

Medicare Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum asks “Why does a joint replacement cost 40 times as much at one hospital as at another across the country? It’s a mystery.. It doesn’t make sense he says.. and the higher charges don’t reflect better care.. and he continues by saying The Discrepancies are too huge to be explained by obvious differences among hospitals, such as a more expensive regional economy, older or sicker patients, or the extra costs of running a teaching hospital.

The average charges for joint replacement range from about $5,300 at one Oklahoma hospital to $223,000 in Monterey Park, Calif. the Department of Health and Human Services says those numbers don’t include doctors’ fees.

At CVPH in Plattsburgh, the average billing for 136 joint replacement cases is $36,182. Medicare paid $17,411 on average to CVPH for those procedures… There were 66 cases of Major Joint Replacement at Adirondack Medical enter in Saranac Lake and the average Charges were $29,116 That’s 40% lower than the national average.. Further Medicare paid $14,522… That’s a difference of $2,889 per patient for similar procedures.

We speak with Chandler Ralph, President and CEO of Adirondack Health..

In Eleven of the 21 types of cases listed AMC reports billed amounts fifty percent or more lower than the national average. Medicare payments were half again on average lower than that..

Click here to view charges via a New York Times Interactive Pricing Map

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Four Surplus Parcels Auctioned in Saranac Lake

AUDIO – 050913 – Saranac Lake Surplus Property Auction

A Surplus Property Auction in Saranac Lake Wednesday nets the Village $4,000.  (*Note: Mr Dukette purchased parcel 44.76-7-23, a landlocked parcel. It is one of three referenced on Olive Street. Mr Fox bought 446.76-7-24. This parcel does have a right of way to the street. The Gallaghers bought 446.76-7-26, an adjoining parcel to their property and Mr Kirsch purchased the 447.70-3-5 parcel for Doreen Straton who owns adjoining property.)  05-08-13 Property Auction Notice



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Lake Placid School Board Holds First Public Hearing Tonight

AUDIO – 050713 – Lake Placid School Board holds budget hearing in Wlimington

Lake Placid’s School Board holds the first of two budget hearings tonight at 7pm in the Wilmington Community Center. The Vote is May 21st.

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Administrative Changes in Saranac Lake School District

AUDIO – 050613 – Saranac Lake School District Administration

Saranac Lake Central School Administrators are making several moves in an effort to accommodate the departure of Bloomingdale Principal Theresa Lindsay, who became a victim of district wide budget cuts and other budgetary changes in the upcoming school year. As part of the administrative changes,  Petrova Middle School Principal Trish Kenyon will take over in Bloomingdale for Theresa, Elementary Principal Josh Dann is headed to the High School next year and will take over from Bruce Van Weelden who becomes Middle School Principal at Petrova. Chad McCarthy, the former Director of Pupil relations is headed to replace Mr Dann at the Elementary School.

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Lake Placid loses Elementary School Principal

AUDIO – 043013 – Lake Placid Elementary School Principal heads to Ausable

Principal Javier Perez has accepted the  position of  High School Principal for the Ausable Valley Central School District, which is also his hometown. Perez was previously the Dean of Students in Ausable. Budget cuts in the district forced the elimination of the  position, but gave him an opportunity to transition smoothly back to the district in his new position as the district’s High School Principal..  The Lake Placid Board of Education has already posted the position as an anticipated vacancy.

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American Legion Baseball Returns to Lake Placid

AUDIO – 043013 – Rik Cassidy Baseball Raffle

Coaches raffle local prizes to raise money for a returning competitive summer baseball team in Lake Placid. Coach Rik Cassidy explains.

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Village Board Recognizes NCCC Student’s Accomplishment

AUDIO – 042313 – Mayor Honors NCCC Basketball team

Saranac Lake’s Mayor Clyde Rabideau honors the NCCC basketball team for their success..  The team’s Coach Chad LaDue and a few members of the team are on hand for the presentation..  Chad’s been coaching the basketball team for 11 years, he says one of the best things about this team is that 11 out of 14 on their roster were right in our backyard either from section ten or section seven..  There are 118 schools in their division and five athletes, including Steven Carder were selected to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) 1st Team All-American in basketball.  In honor of this accomplishment, Mayor Rabideau and the Village Board presented Steve with a special proclamation..

2013-04-22 17.43.58

Steven leaves NCCC as the All-time leading scorer with 1,246 points and All-time leading rebounder with 652.  He and his parents will head to Las Vegas with Coach LaDue next week where he will be recognized and will participate in the NJCAA National Men’s Basketball All-Star game in Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on May 11th.

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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders weighs in on Earth Day

AUDIO – 042213 – Sanders – Earth Day

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a member of the Senate environment and energy committees and the sponsor of legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, issued the following statement on Monday’s observation of Earth Day:

“Unless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: ‘Where were they? Why didn’t the United States of America lead the international community in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preventing the devastating damage that the scientific community was sure would come?’

“The leading scientists in the world who study climate change now tell us that their earlier projections were wrong. The crisis facing our planet is much worse than they had thought only a few years ago. Twelve out of the last 15 years ranked as the warmest on record in the United States. Now, scientists say that our planet could be 8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer or more by the end of this century if we take no decisive action to transform our energy system and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“Legislation that I introduced with the support of leading environmental organizations in the country can actually address the crisis and do what has to be done to protect the planet. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, co-sponsored the bill that would reverse greenhouse gas emissions in a significant way. It also would help create millions of jobs as we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and such sustainably energies as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

“If we are serious about protecting the planet and improving our economy, America’s energy future must focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. If we are successful in transforming our energy system to sustainable sources of energy, we can be a model for the world in addressing the great planetary crisis of global warming and ensure a safer future for children and grandchildren.”

To read more about the Sanders-Boxer bill, click here.

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Business Meets Education in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID, NY (April 17) – The Lake Placid Business Association, Lake Placid-Wilmington Connecting Youth and Communities Coalition (CYC) and the Lake Placid Central School District are pleased to announce the launch of an innovative new program - CU2C, Connecting You to the Community - designed to strengthen relationships between our teens and their community.

AUDIO – 041913 – Lake Placid Wilmington CYC – CU2 Program – Mary Deitrich

The program, beginning the week of April 25 will integrate High School Juniors and Seniors with local businesses in order for teens to get a sense of how our local economy works. It also provides the business an opportunity to interact with students in order to gain an understanding of what they are looking for in our community.

“We are very excited to introduce our new program CU2C,” said CYC Coordinator Tina Clark. “We hope all Lake Placid and Wilmington Juniors and Seniors will utilize the opportunity to learn more about what makes our community operate.”   Click here to read More

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NCCC Basketball Star Chosen for NJCAA 1st Team All American

Steven Carder has been selected to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) 1st Team All-American in basketball. Steven and his parents will be accompanied to Las Vegas, Nevada in May by NCCC Men’s Head Basketball Coach, Chad LaDue, where he will join 29 other athletes to be recognized for this outstanding achievement.

The Lake Placid School Board Votes to Approve Tentative 2013-2014 Budget

AUDIO – 041713 – Lake Placid School Budget and Standardized Testing

The Lake Placid Central School District has an approved budget and pending public approval of the School Board’s vote of confidence, Lake Placid will spend $17,264,976 in the 2013, 2014 fiscal year. The approval represents an overall increase of 2.65% in the budget. The Levy is expected to increase by 3.01% to just over $14,200,000.  The Estimated Tax Rate assuming no increase in assessment calculates to $6.78 per thousand dollars of assessed value, a 3.10% increase.

State testing begins Tuesday for elementary students in New York State. Superintendent Randy Richards talks about it’s impact on Lake Placid’s Parents and Students.

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Getting Testy Over Testing in NY Schools

As standardized testing of third- through eighth-graders on English and math begins in New York’s public schools today, parents and school boards are speaking out about the Common Core standards and what they see as an over-emphasis on testing.  



The Saratoga School Board voted to tell the state education commissioner the tests negatively affect students – and parents on Long Island are opting to exempt their children from the testing. The head of the state teachers union, Dick Iannuzzi, says students are going to be tested on material they haven’t been taught yet. He said polling commissioned by his union showed 91 percent of parents say students have not had enough time to work with the Common Core learning standards.
“Parents are upset. They really do not want their children being put in a position where they’re being assessed on material that simply has not been presented to them.”

The Department of Education said the assessments are designed to improve classroom instruction and get better results in the graduation rate and college and career readiness.

State Education Commissioner John King said in a video for parents on his department’s website that students living in poverty and English language learners are not achieving at the same level as their peers.

“The Common Core state standards are the answer to this problem. The standards are higher, the standards are fewer and the standards are deeper.”

Iannuzzi said the Education Department has acknowledged that scores will drop – perhaps as much as 30 percent. He does not want them used to promote students, choose students for gifted-and-talented classes, or to receive remedial services.

“No teacher would give a test where they know that students are not going to be in a position to succeed. And no parent would want a teacher to do that. And certainly no child would want to begin a test knowing that they are not expected to do well.”

Iannuzzi also does not want teachers’ performances evaluated on these test results.

“My members will have at least part of their end-of-the-year evaluation based on a score that will be meaningless in terms of reflecting their efforts in their classrooms and the growth of the children in front of them.”

He added, “The State Education Department listens very carefully, but doesn’t hear anything you say.”

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Saranac Lake School Boards Opposes Elementary Testing Schedule

AUDIO – 041113 – Parents Opt Out of Standardized Tests

A School Board Resolution against high stakes testing is headed to Governor Cuomo asking the State to “de-emphasize” testing in our schools and to re-examine Assessment.

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Library Week set for Next Week

The Saranac Lake Free Library is heading into National Library Week..  Peter Benson is the Library’s Director.. He says one of those services includes the advancement of digital technology and free wireless access to the internet.. We spoke with him following their presentation to the Saranac Lake School Board.

AUDIO – 041113 – Saranac Lake Free Library

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Library Director Peter Benson speaks to the School Board with Library President Diane Peterson in the front row of the audience. Behind her are the 4 building principals, Josh Dann, Trish Kenyon, Theresa Lindsay and Bruce Vanweelden

The Library Board is heading into high gear as their fiscal year comes to an end and they begin to look forward to the upcoming budget votes in the village.. The library’s funding is derived from two major sources – one of which is the membership fund drive, We spoke with Diane and Peter following a short budget presentation to the Saranac Lake School Board which represents the library’s second major source of funds.. The Library spends about $300,000 annually.  45 to 47 percent of that budget comes from the line item in the Saranac Lake Central School Budget..

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North Country Community College Inauguration

It’s been more than 21 years since the last Presidential Inauguration at North CountryCommunity College.. Which is what makes this event such an important milestone in our community, and for that matter, in Malone and Ticonderoga as well..  With that in Mind.. We began our in depth coverage of the President’s Inauguration with a comment…

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Tyrell to be Inaugurated as NCCC’s sixth President Today

The formal inauguration of North CountryCommunity College’s sixth president, Dr. Steven J. Tyrell, Takes place today (Friday, April 5th, 2013) at 3:00 p.m. at the Sparks Athletic Complex in Saranac Lake, NY. The public is invited to join the NCCC college community at the investiture ceremony.

The inauguration of Dr. Tyrell follows a long-standing tradition within the State University of New York (SUNY), in which the installation of a new college president is conducted in a formal ceremony during the president’s first year in office. Dr. Nancy Zimpher, SUNY Chancellor, will be at the SaranacLake campus on April 5 to conduct the installation.

040513 – NCCC Inauguration Preview

Inauguration activities afford the College the opportunity to celebrate its excellence in programs and instruction, as well as its future plans, with faculty, staff, students, community members, municipal leaders and others committed to the success of the College.

NCCC Board of Trustee Chairman, Gerald Blair, stated, “Dr. Tyrell’s experience and vision for our Community College promises to bring us into a new era of quality education, workforce training and regional initiatives for the benefit of all in Franklin and EssexCounties.” Dr. Tyrell noted, “I am thrilled to return home to the region and lead North CountryCommunity College into its next phase. Working with community leaders to advance workforce partnerships extends the impact of NCCC throughout our sponsoring counties. I am honored to have joined a group of highly dedicated professionals who prepare our graduates to excel in the region and beyond.”

North CountryCommunity College has been ranked #1 in New YorkState and #22 nationally by Washington Monthly and is proud to have campuses throughout the region in SaranacLake, Malone and Ticonderoga. Under the leadership of Dr. Tyrell, the College is currently engaged in academic program and student housing expansion initiatives at all three locations. NCCC’s growth is intertwined with the successful growth of the three municipalities and the beautiful Adirondack region. North CountryCommunity College is a place where approaches to applied learning, the promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit, opportunities for civic engagement and the setting in the midst of the natural world serve as the four pillars to providing a unique learning experience.

Prior to his arrival at NCCC, Dr. Tyrell served as Vice President for Student Affairs at Alfred State College, Associate Dean for Student Discipline and Conflict Resolution at MIT, Associate Dean of Student Life at Michigan Tech and held a variety of positions in student activities, residence life and new student orientation at SUNY New Paltz. Dr. Tyrell has a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication from Michigan Tech, an MA in Educational Administration and Supervision and a BS in Speech Communication, both from SUNY New Paltz. He is completing his 30th year in higher education and his 20th in the SUNY system. Dr. Tyrell and his wife, Sharon, are native upstate New Yorkers and they have a son, Zachary, and a daughter, Emma.

North CountryCommunity College is sponsored by Essex and Franklin counties as a unit of the State University of New York.

NCCC 040513 - Kaylan Short & Dr. TyrellNorth Country Community College Student Awarded Highest Honor by SUNY

Dr. Steve Tyrell, President of North Country Community College, announced the name of the student receiving the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.   This award is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the State University of New York.

Kaylan Short is the recipient of this year’s prestigious honor.  Kaylan is the daughter Scott and Julie Short of Champlain NY.  She completed her A.A.S. degree in Criminal Justice in December 2012.

Kaylan is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society and served as the Secretary for NCCC’s Student Government Association.  In addition to her studies, Kaylan was the Captain of the Women’s Cross Country Team and was recognized as NCCC’s Athlete of the Year in 2012 and received the Academic National Junior Colleges Athletic Association’s All American Award.

Dr. Tyrell said, “Kaylan understands the importance of community and civic responsibilities at the College and in the community. The College Community is very pleased to see her succeed.” Kaylan will be honored at an April awards ceremony in Albany.

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Lake Placid High School Winter Carnival chooses King and Queen

Congratulations to this year’s Lake Placid High School Winter Carnival King and Queen; Kendra Manning is the daughter of Daniel and Melissa Manning of Jay, NY. She was born in Plattsburgh and attended St. Agnes Elementary school.  She has two brothers, Connor and Nate, and a dog, Scout.  Kendra’s hobbies include skiing and running.  She…