North country gets million$ for childcare, broadband & more

Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 12:00 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - The tri-county region is getting millions of dollars in federal funding to expand childcare, improve water infrastructure, and increase access to high-speed internet.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D. - NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY) made the announcement Wednesday.

The most money is heading to Lewis County’s Hand in Hand Early Childhood Center.

Nearly $3 million will be used to expand Hand in Hand’s flagship center in Lowville by adding two classrooms and 24 more potential childcare slots.

About 60 people are on the waitlist to get their children into Hand In Hand.

“Basically as soon as a woman gets pregnant or they’re expecting a child, they want to call and get on the waitlist. It could be nine months, it could be a year,” said Tricia Burker, President of the Board of Directors for Hand In Hand.

The proposal also includes the creation of two satellite facilities located at the northernmost and southernmost school districts in Lewis County. The satellite facilities would provide approximately 32 childcare slots at each school campus.

:> “There are actually so many teachers and faculty members in those schools that are dying for childcare,” Burker said.

The Development Authority of North Country is getting $2.4 million to complete a project to bring affordable, high-speed broadband to approximately 488 unserved households in rural communities in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties.

The project will result in 63.3 miles of new fiber.

Here are other recipients of the federal funding:

In Jefferson County

  • Town of Henderson: $1 million will be used to build a wastewater treatment and collection system to address sanitary waste problems for residents utilizing individual subsurface sewer disposal systems. The senators say the project will help expand existing businesses and create new economic opportunities.
  • Clayton Improvement Association, Ltd.: $500,000 is earmarked to rehabilitate a 9,240 square-foot mixed-use building located in the center of LaFargeville in the town of Orleans. The rehabilitation will create 2-3 new commercial spaces, 2 newly renovated commercial spaces, and 4 residential units. The senators say the project will act as a catalyst for growth and development throughout the community.

In St. Lawrence County

  • Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority receives $1 million to build a new 15,000 square-foot childcare center for the residents of St. Lawrence County to provide daycare, an integrated preschool program and other childcare services. Dozens of jobs will be created, according to OBPA officials.
  • Canton-Potsdam Hospital is getting $500,000 to construct 16 exam rooms for practical learning, a fully equipped conference room, and office space for the program director, administrative support, and residents in support of the development of a residency program in Rural Family Medicine. This project seeks to address a need for more rural-focused clinicians in the primary care setting and it is anticipated that clinic visits will increase 5 to 6 times from having residents available to provide care.

The federal funds are awarded through the Northern Border Regional Commission.

Schumer and Gillibrand say the funding is the largest annual investment for upstate New York in the history of the NBRC’s history.