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WJFF - Close to Home with Leif Johansen

Education Podcasts

A twenty-something armchair policy wonk born and raised in the Catskills is heading out into the world, and he's got a lot of questions. In this podcast from WJFF Radio Catskill, we'll take a deep dive into the institutions in upstate New York that are at the foundation of our community and explore how they work (and how they sometimes don't). We'll sit down with educators, farmers, public servants, artists, business owners, and all-around do-gooders to learn what it means to be a part of rural America today--and the part each of us can play in creating a brighter future tomorrow.

Location:

United States

Description:

A twenty-something armchair policy wonk born and raised in the Catskills is heading out into the world, and he's got a lot of questions. In this podcast from WJFF Radio Catskill, we'll take a deep dive into the institutions in upstate New York that are at the foundation of our community and explore how they work (and how they sometimes don't). We'll sit down with educators, farmers, public servants, artists, business owners, and all-around do-gooders to learn what it means to be a part of rural America today--and the part each of us can play in creating a brighter future tomorrow.

Language:

English


Episodes
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Policy Chats: Sullivan County Legislators Matt McPhillips and Cat Scott

6/30/2024
After a shake up in the composition of the Sullivan County Legislature after last November's elections, the nine-person governing body is looking younger than ever. In this episode, we catch up with two of the new, younger members of the legislature to get an inside look at what it's like to navigate the challenges and opportunities of local governance.

Duration:00:34:23

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Extended Cut: Aviation, Corruption, and Local History Books with John Conway

6/14/2024
This is the full interview with John Conway for our episode in May 2024 on local aviation and the Sullivan County Airport. In it, John talks about how he goes about conducting local history research, what the best books on Catskills and Sullivan County history are, aviation, Borscht Belt hotels, and a splash of government corruption.

Duration:00:55:17

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Airport Redevelopment and Sullivan County's Aviation History

5/15/2024
In this episode, we hear from the new Sullivan County Airport Superintendent, Julian Motola, on the ongoing development of a brand new terminal at the Sullivan County International Airport, supported by an $18.5 million grant from New York State. We also learn about the storied history of aviation in the Catskills, and how the Sullivan County International Airport came into existence in the first place as an unusually large publicly owned and operated facility for a rural community. (And we'll finally get an answer to why it's an "international" airport!)

Duration:00:41:25

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Rail Trails Update

3/25/2024
There's a 50-mile biking/walking path being built that will span the entire length of Sullivan County, north to south. It's a feat of design and community cooperation, and it's (slowly) moving closer to becoming a reality. But that's just part of a larger, regional project that may transform the way we think about accessibility and recreation in our rural area. This episode is an update to our piece in early 2021 on the O&W Rail Trail project, and it features Heather Brown, Sullivan County's Commissioner of Planning, Community Development & Environmental Management; Heather Jacksy, Sullivan County's Chief Planner; Annie Bergelin, Design and Capital Projects Manager at the Open Space Institute; and Tatum Justice, Northeast Land Project Manager at the Open Space Institute.

Duration:00:41:01

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For the Birds

2/23/2024
Have you noticed geese flying back recently? Or robins plucking worms and berries from your snow-less yard in the middle of the winter? Locally and globally, bird populations and migration patterns are changing. Today, we're asking why. (Spoiler: your house cat knows.) In this episode, we're joined by Dr. Andrew Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate in the Center for Avian Population Studies at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Mark Dedea, President of the John Burrows Natural History Society, and Wendy Tocci, Regional Coordinator for the Third New York State Breeding Bird Atlas.

Duration:00:41:55

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Food Insecurity Redux: School Lunches

1/2/2024
How do all of those public school meals get made every day? What regulations govern what food can and can't be served to K-12 students? This week, we sit down with Sullivan West Central School District Food Services Director Dara Smith to get the inside scoop on what happens behind the school lunch counter.

Duration:00:27:21

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Food Insecurity Redux: Checking in with "A Single Bite"

12/4/2023
What's the status of rural food insecurity in (sort of) post-COVID rural America? "A Single Bite" Executive Director Audrey Garro drops in to talk about the current state of food insecurity in the Catskills and to share some exciting news about the burgeoning local nonprofit. We also ponder what impact Dollar General and transit systems like "Move Sullivan" have on rural access to nutrition.

Duration:00:28:40

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Stories From Sullivan: Researching the Local Opioid Epidemic

10/28/2023
In 2021, overdose death rates in Sullivan County were 108% higher than the New York State average. How did we get here? Are our efforts to fight this epidemic keeping things from getting even worse, or are we missing the mark? What policies actually make a difference? Dr. Patricia Strach from the Rockefeller Institute of Government at SUNY Albany and Dr. Katherine Zuber from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice have been working to answer these big questions since 2017 when their team launched the "Stories from Sullivan" project, which seeks to develop a better understanding of how our communities respond to the opioid crisis through a mix of quantitative data analysis and 200+ on-the-ground interviews with local stakeholders.

Duration:00:33:47

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Trash Solutions: Waste to Energy

9/28/2023
What if we could solve our landfill problem and power our homes with a single solution? In this episode, Dutchess County Executive Bill O'Neil and Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency Executive Director Kerry Russell drop by to talk about the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Facility, a waste-to-energy plant that eliminates most of the county's garbage while also generating enough electricity to power 10,000 homes in the Hudson Valley.

Duration:00:29:42

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Made in the Catskills: New York City's Famous Water Supply

8/28/2023
New York City's water is internationally renowned for its crisp freshness straight from the tap. Pizza shops in California and Florida have it shipped thousands of miles at great expense just to make the perfect slice. And it all comes from the Catskills. In this episode of Close to Home, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Paul Rush talks about the fascinating history and record-holding engineering of the Catskill and Delaware Aqueducts - the system in the Catskills that carries a billion gallons of fresh water nearly 100 miles to New York City every day. Deputy Commissioner Rush also provides an update on the ongoing work to repair leaks in the Delaware Aqueduct; a hundreds-of-feet-below-ground problem that has necessitated its own feats of ingenuity over more than a decade just to fix.

Duration:00:52:49

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Catskills Real Estate Roundtable

7/1/2023
What's the deal with Catskills real estate? As home prices and interest rates fluctuate and the region undergoes a rapid resurgence on scales unseen for decades, it's time for an update on the landscape for buyers and sellers alike. Leif is joined by Heather Quaintance of Country House Realty, Lynne and Joe Freda of Matthew J. Freda Real Estate, and Travis O'Dell of Land and Water Realty to get the latest on how an influx of visitors, second home owners, and full-time new community members are impacting the local real estate market.

Duration:00:30:05

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Catskills Hiking Trails

5/27/2023
What's the deal with the hiking trails that are...everywhere? Who's taking care of them? And how did those stone steps that are built into the side of mountains for our convenience end up there? New York-New Jersey Trail Conference New York Program Coordinator Melissa Cascini drops in to talk about the organization responsible for many of our favorite summer excursions. Feeling inspired to explore? Check out the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference interactive hiking map: https://www.nynjtc.org/hike-finder-map

Duration:00:19:09

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A Liberty Dispatch: New Developments at Sullivan 180 and YEG

5/7/2023
Sullivan 180 CEO Denise Frangipane and Youth Economic Group Researcher Angel Burgos drop by to give us the latest updates from two Liberty-based organizations that are finding innovative ways of supporting Sullivan County youth.

Duration:00:39:37

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Egg Prices

3/21/2023
Why are egg prices so...weird? This week, we're talking about eggs, economics, and influenza with Daniel Brey, owner of Brey's Egg Farm in Bethel, New York, and Karyn Rispoli, Egg Market Reporter and Editor/Analyst at Urner Barry in Toms River, New Jersey.

Duration:00:32:58

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Composting

2/19/2023
So what's the break-down of our local composting efforts? (Pun indisputably intended.) In this episode, we're joined by Thompson Sanitation Owner Krissy Walsh, Delaware County Solid Waste Coordinator Tyson Robb, and Sullivan County Recycling Coordinator Kassie Thelman to talk about the science, economics, and politics of organics disposal in our communities.

Duration:00:29:52

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Let's Talk about the Weather

1/22/2023
Eight-time Emmy-nominated meteorologist Joe Rao drops in to give us the rundown on why we've had such weird weather lately, how the weather-forecasting industry has changed over time, and what we can do to prepare for weather-related natural disasters. Check out the Joe and Joe Weather Show Mondays through Thursdays at 7:35pm and Sundays at 11am here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLSCL5PFFQEDEHrPk9zWNDnGZGtnU7B94l Learn about emergency preparedness here: https://www.ready.gov/plan

Duration:00:35:38

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The Bashakill

12/31/2022
Jackie Broder from the Basha Kill Area Association and the Mamakating Environmental Education Center and Samara Ferris from the Bashakill Vinyards stop by to celebrate the environmental and economic significance of the Bashakill Wetlands to the Catskills and northeastern United States. Leif takes a trip to the Bashakill to ring in the new year.

Duration:00:44:38

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Business Feature: Aaron Burr Cidery

11/20/2022
How is hard cider made? What's its history in our region? Aaron Burr Cidery Co-Founder Andy Brennan drops in to give us an inside look at a product whose story is as interesting and complex as the product itself.

Duration:00:26:58

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School Mergers

11/10/2022
In this episode, we tackle an issue impacting rural communities with declining populations nation-wide. Superintendent of the Livingston Manor and Roscoe Central School Districts John Evans drops in to talk about the effort to merge the two districts together. We consider why it needs to happen, and why it isn't. And if that wasn't exciting enough, we even get a cameo from Leif's dad, Russ.

Duration:00:38:11

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Hunting

10/8/2022
Is hunting on the decline in New York? Are we managing the deer population? New York State DEC Game Management Section Head Jeremy Hurst drops by to give an update on the state of hunting in our community.

Duration:00:28:08