News

Coal vs. natural gas during the polar vortex

15 hours ago
Julie Grant / Allegheny Front

President Barack Obama wants the U.S. to get serious about climate change. He’s proposed to limit carbon emissions from power plants. The coal industry and conservative politicians say new carbon rules will kill King Coal, and they warn that without it, severe weather events, like last year’s polar vortex, could leave people in the cold and dark.

baasiilb15 / Flickr

High traffic on the New York State of Health website is to be expected, according to the head of the state exchange. Saturday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance that starts the first of the year.

So far, during this open enrollment period which started Nov. 15, more than 194,000 New Yorkers who didn't have health insurance have signed up.

Donna Frescatore, the executive director of the New York Health Benefit Exchange, says more than 40,000 of those were added since last week.

Wallyg / via Flickr

A new poll finds New Yorkers don’t want legislators to gain a pay raise if they agree to ethics reforms by the end of the year.

The Siena College poll finds that 63 percent of New Yorkers oppose a pay raise for state lawmakers, who earn a base salary of nearly $80,000 a year for what is technically a part-time job. 

Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg says voters also say, even though they would like to see reform measures as well as other issue resolved, they still don’t think legislators should be allowed to trade agreements on these items for more pay.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Winners of New York state’s casino competition celebrated Thursday. A statewide gaming board this week recommended gaming licenses for three developers across upstate New York, including the proposal from the Rochester-based Wilmorite Corporation to build the Lago Casino and Resort in rural Seneca County.  

While weather kept Gov. Andrew Cuomo from taking part in the Finger Lakes portion of a statewide casino victory lap, unions were out in full force in Seneca County. The potential for jobs for 55 out-of-work electricians has union rep Michael Davis happy.

Steve Rhodes / Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Lewis County's Homeless Christmas Tree Initiative is collecting donated household goods like paper towels and silverware for people who have recently become homeless and are starting over.

A sprawling heap of plates, linens, pillows, and cleaning products sit under a Christmas tree in the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce. Stacey Alvord is the commissioner of the county's Department of Social Services. She said the community's generosity has been overwhelming.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Crossing the border into the United States may have gotten a little more convenient. U.S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled the Border Wait Time app Wednesday. It will provide travelers with estimated wait times and open lane statuses at bridges.

Why snow plus sports so often equals injuries

Dec 19, 2014

Winter sports are certainly popular in northern and central New York. But whether it’s skating, skiing or sledding, falling on the snow or ice is inevitable -- and can lead to injury. This week on WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care," hosts Linda Lowen and Lorraine Rapp speak with Syracuse-based orthopedist Dr. Naven Duggal about the risks of winter sports and how to prevent injuries.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Cuomo administration officials who are devising regulations for medical marijuana in New York say it’s unlikely any patients in the state will get the drug before 2016.  They say they are working through the details of how to implement the program, but there are still many unanswered questions.

Aides to Cuomo say they’ve made some progress on figuring out how to manage a medical marijuana system that is still technically illegal in the United States.

The preliminary rules on how to carry out New York’s medical marijuana program are due by the end of the year.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has written a letter to state education officials, saying he wants answers on why 99 percent of teachers scored highly on the most recent evaluations, while other data shows two-thirds of school children performing below acceptable levels in math and English.

James F Clay / Flickr

Oswego County's Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, also known as Oswego BOCES, is working with he county's nine school districts to develop a program to helps students with emotional, social and behavioral needs. The specialized classes will attempt to reengage those students and help them succeed academically.

Christopher Todd, district superintendent for the Oswego County BOCES region, says the programs will draw disenfranchised students attending schools all over the county.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Environmentalists are celebrating after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said there will be no hydrofracking in New York for now, citing inconclusive scientific evidence on the health effects of the gas drilling process.

ChrisYunker / via Flickr

It may not have taken place around a roulette wheel, but there was a palpable air of suspense as the state Gaming Facility Location Board announced three of the nearly 20 communities hoping to get a piece of the gaming action on Wednesday. The board was entitled to grant up to four licenses.

The five-member volunteer board immediately got down to business, nixing all seven casino proposals in Orange County and approving one Hudson Valley/Catskill site to the Montreign Resort and Casino, located in the tiny village of Thompson in Sullivan County.

New York State Department of Transportation

New standards for how crude oil is shipped along rail lines through states like New York are moving forward, but Sen. Charles Schumer says the process needs to move faster.

The crude oil crossing the nation now is hauled in train cars known as DOT-111’s. Safety advocates say the cars are outdated and lack equipment to stop leaks or explosions. Introducing newer models has been a slow process. 

Finger Lakes town of Tyre awarded 1 of 3 casino sites

Dec 17, 2014
Matt Martin / WSKG file photo

The state Gaming Facility Location Board has selected three proposals for casinos in in economically distressed communities in upstate New York in Sullivan, Schenectady and Seneca Counties.

The Seneca County site selected was the proposal by Wilmorite Corporation to build Lago Resort and Casino off the New York State Thruway in the small town of Tyre.

Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit hydrofracking in New York state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said at a cabinet meeting this morning that he was recommending a ban. Cuomo had repeatedly said he would defer to Martens and acting health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Onondaga County lawmakers hope to help the operators of the Syracuse Chiefs build on a successful season of baseball.

County lawmakers have agreed to lend $1.2 million to the operators of the Chiefs, who want to make stadium upgrades that would allow large groups to host parties or events during games. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says this is a concept that can help bring more business to the stadium.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

An officially designated convention center hotel in Syracuse has been a goal of Onondaga County officials for decades. It looks like they’ve found it in the soon-to-be renovated Hotel Syracuse.

Onondaga County lawmakers Tuesday designated the Hotel Syracuse as the convention center’s official hotel. It’s a key move in rehabilitation of the hotel, which has been shuttered for a decade.

Legislator Kathy Rapp says the county legislature’s move ultimately unlocks some state money developer Ed Riley will be able to use, as he plans to bring the landmark back to life.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

A reform group studied votes taken by local governments across the state on whether to allow hydrofracking, and found numerous potential conflicts of interest that they say could have tainted the outcome of the votes.

The New York Public Interest Research Group studied 59 municipalities that voted to permit hydrofracking in the past few years, if New York state eventually approves the process. They found numerous questionable activities, including locally elected officials holding gas leases and town attorneys who also represented oil and gas companies.

The state health department announced more than 154,000 previously uninsured New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance since open enrollment began Nov. 15.

Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives at the Community Service Society, a key navigator agency in New York, says her agency has experienced a high volume of requests for assistance enrolling in the state exchange, despite early speculation that it would be more difficult to reach uninsured people this year.

Matt Richmond / WSKG

A temporary ban on the controversial gas extraction method hydrofracking has dragged on for years. Even as the governor says a long-awaited study is nearing completion, a large group of local officials want the ban to continue.

Elected Officials to Protect New York, made up of more than 850 local-level elected officials, says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration still has not properly studied fracking enough.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO file photo

Over the years, as businesses in Utica left or closed, the city has faced a problem of what to do with the empty buildings. In recent years, Utica has ramped up its efforts to sell these vacant commercial properties in an attempt to generate sales and property tax revenues for the city.

Since 2012, the city has sold at least eight vacant commercial properties to private developers, including a former Superfund site that was dormant for more than a decade. The buildings, which must be empty for at least three years before the city can foreclose on them, are scattered throughout Utica. Fourteen properties are currently being marketed by the city's Urban Renewal Agency.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Madison County is hoping to turn environmental stewardship into jobs. At least one business is putting up  shop near the county’s landfill, with the intent to use energy captured from decaying trash.

Johnson Brothers Lumber, a third generation company out of Cazenovia, is taking their sustainability initiative to the next level. They’re building a kiln that will dry wood next door to the Madison County’s Gas-to-Energy facility in Wampsville, according to company vice president Mike Johnson.

It’s looking less and less likely that state senators and Assembly members will get a pay raise as a holiday present this year, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers still have a number of issues they need to resolve before the year ends, ranging from the siting of gambling casinos to how to close a Thruway deficit and whether to go ahead with hydrofracking.

Daniel Lobo/flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will soon have an innovation team to help develop new ways to solve city problems.

Syracuse is one of a dozen cities to win a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to create an innovation team. Miner says they’ll look at using big data to solve some of what she calls the city’s "intractable problems."

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

If you’ve been to a Syracuse University basketball game this year, you may have noticed a different tint to the toilet bowl water in the restrooms. Here's why:

The Carrier Dome is now collecting rain and snow that falls on about half of its six acre puffy white roof. That water filters down the building into 50,000 gallon underground tanks. It’s then treated and stored, ready for a game break bathroom rush.

NY State of Health enrollment deadline extended

Dec 15, 2014
Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The national deadline to enroll in health care during the second year of open enrollment is today, December 15, but New York state has extended the deadline through Saturday, December 20.

If you plan to use the New York State of Health Marketplace to sign up for health care, you have five more days to enroll if you want your coverage to start on January 1. The extension applies for new or renewing coverage.

Keeping families from becoming homeless over the holidays is the idea behind a program offered by central New York attorneys this time of year.

There aren’t necessarily more evictions approaching the holidays, but Michael Balanoff of Legal Services of Central New York says losing a place to live this time of year is just more difficult, especially when children are involved. That’s the idea behind the “Home for the Holidays" program, which brings attorneys from all over the region to Syracuse City Court in the days leading up to Christmas.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

The summer shipping season is about to come to an end for the Port of Oswego. The port says its seen growth in the amount of goods coming through its facility, which it attributes to recent infrastructure investments and the continued success of several companies the port does business with.

According to the American Great Lakes Ports Association, the St. Lawrence Seaway saw a five percent increase in cargo coming through its system this season, but that pales in comparison to the success the port has seen this year.

William Hartz / Flickr

A state panel is examining whether workers whose income is supplemented by tips should receive an increase in the minimum wage. The wage board, appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has held hearings and will make its decision early next year.

ACR Health in Syracuse put on a special workshop for educators recently to explore ways schools can become more supportive of transgender students. The session also offered a firsthand look at the challenges these kids face.

Schools are often ground zero for transgender kids, says Terri Cook, co-author of the book “Allies and Angels” and parent of a transgender child.

“School can be a safe space for a student, or it can be a living hell,” said Cook.

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