Utica, NY – Advocates for the poor are out in force, making sure that those in need have food and clothing for the winter.

The Food Bank of Greater Utica is in the midst of it's largest drive for food of the year.

Kimberly Strong, President of the Board of Directors for the Food Bank, says the agency relies on these drives around the holidays to maintain an ample supply of food for the rest of the year.

Syracuse – Two anti-smoking bills will be presented to the Onondaga County Legislature Monday, but only one has the backing of the local American Cancer Society.

Hear our report by WRVO's Amy Cavalier:

New York – The New York Public Interest Group identified about 100 unsafe toys in it's seventeenth annual toy safety survey.

Sean Vormwald of NYPIRG says campus chapters from across the state went to toy stores and shopped online, documenting unsafe toys. Members found choking and strangulation hazards, toxic materials, improper labeling, and dangerously loud toys.

Vormwald says the testing is done according to standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

WRVO – The state's powerful business lobby group...The Business Council of New York State...has issued a series of reports to highlight ways the state can reduce spending and avoid a tax increases.

The council's public policy institute is crafting the reports. The institute's Robert Ward is the author. In this interview with WRVO's Chris Ulanowski, Ward explains some of the biggest spending areas.

Oswego, NY – The Great Lakes are considered by many to be the nation's "North Shore."

But some, like Senator Charles Schumer, say the vast shoreline is neglected when it comes to issues of homeland security.

WRVO's Elizabeth Christensen investigated what is being done to screen individuals and materials entering the U.S. through the Great Lakes... and what the agencies responsible for security need to protect the public.

CLICK on the icon above to hear the full report.

Syracuse, NY – Questions will be raised Monday night at an informational meeting in Syracuse on a controversial sewage treatment plant proposed for an inner-city Syracuse Neighborhood.

New York State – New York's Service Employees International Union is now the largest labor local in the country.

SEIU 1199 Upstate and Downstate merged on Friday after a vote by members.

1199 Spokesman Marshall Blake says the union will give upstate health care workers more bargaining power.

He says the union will also have more collective bargaining power and political weight.

CLICK on the icon above to hear more comments from Marshall Blake of SEIU 1199.

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Syracuse, NY – The president of Upstate Medical University in Syracuse is now the chairman of a newly created "biodefense" council.

Dr. Gregory Eastwood will head up the new committee formed by the Association of Academic Health Centers.

Eastwood says teaching hospitals will be first responders in the event of a bioterrorist attack. He says the hospitals will also be at the forefront of research and development of preventative vaccines for certain biological agents.

Syracuse, NY – Syracuse police are investigating a possible hate crime.

Detectives say a derogatory term was spray painted on a gay couples home.

The men called police yesterday after discovering the word scrawled across their front door.

Albert Sharp says he and his partner have lived on the city's North side for over two years without incident.

He says while graffiti is a problem in his neighborhood, this is the first direct attack on his home.

Albany – Recent studies show a twenty five percent increase in credit card use among college students.

WRVO's Allessandra Messore reports that one student loan company is offering young adults advice on how to avoid overspending.

CLICK on the icon above to hear the full report.

Albany, NY – The upstate and downstate chapters of one of the state's most powerful labor unions may merge.

Hospital and nursing home workers represented by the Service Employees International Union, 1199 Upstate, may merge with it's downstate counterpart.

Both unions were instrumental in helping Governor Pataki be reelected to his second and third terms.

Union leaders say the merger is a logical step since the two factions work together on collective bargaining agreements.

Syracuse, NY – Syracuse University has entered into an Environmental Self Auditing Agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency.

WRVO's Elizabeth Christensen explains what the self-auditing program is and how it will benefit the University community.

CLICK on the icon above to hear the full report.

Cayuaga County – An attorney working with the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma says the tribe has purchased 250 acres of land in the towns of Aurelius and Montezuma in Cayuga county.

The acreage is located within the 60,000 acred being claimed by the Cayuga Nation of New York.

This purchase comes just after the Seneca-Cayugas retained the mall developer Wilmorite to seek out sites that may be appropriate for a future casino.

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New York – New Yorker's don't want to see education funding cut on any level to stave off a budget crisis.

WRVO's Amy Cavalier reports on the findings of a new Zogby International poll.

New York – The Department of Environmental Conservation has ruled out the threat of groundwater contamination in the aftermath of a massive fire at a Seneca Falls tire recycling plant.

Five thousand scrap tires were destroyed in the blaze, but a hazardous waste specialist for the DEC says oily run-off from the fire was largely captured by oil booms around the site.

The fire is still considered "suspicious."

Syracuse, NY – Four more Onondaga County legislators say they'll support a ban on smoking in public places.

They say new provisions protecting small businesses changed their minds.

WRVO's Elizabeth Christensen reports on how anti-smoking groups are reacting to the revised bill.

CLICK on the icon above to hear the report.

Seneca Falls, NY – The investigation is continuing into a fire at a tire recycling center in Seneca Falls.

The blaze burned a pile of five thousand tires and prompted village officials to declare a state of emergency.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has been testing the site for possible chemical runoff. DEC Engineer Daniel David says a tire fire usually leaves a petroleum slick behind.

Meanwhile, state and local police are working with fire investigators to determine if the fire was an arson.

New Hartford, NY – More police officers will be posted at the Sangertown Square Mall in New Hartford.

The Mall will also be installing new security cameras.

Those are just two of the security measures agreed upon by mall officials and New Hartford Police.

The beefed up security is in response to a brawl on Friday night involving close to two hundred teenagers.

Two youths were arrested after the fight.

Oswego, NY – Blood donations tend to drop by ten percent over the holiday season.

To counter that shortage, the American Red Cross is starting early in encouraging people to donate blood.

The slogan "Don't be a turkey, donate blood this Thanksgiving" will be plastered in all sorts of public places.

Red Cross spokeswoman Andrea Holland says the holiday season is a time for giving.

She says people should contact their local chapter of the Red Cross for appointments and information.

Syracuse, NY – Commuters who ride Centro buses may see some changes in their routes today.

The bus company has expanded some routes and has restored Sunday night service in some areas.

Rich Landerkin, a spokesman for Centro, says riders should be able to adapt to the changes fairly easily.

He says the biggest change will be the route labels. They've gone from an alpha-numeric system to strictly numberic labeling.

Vernon, NY – Nineteen Oneida Nation members have filed suit against 25 Oneida Tribal Leaders claiming the Nation has violated their civil rights.

CLICK on icon above to hear a report from Elizabeth Christensen

New York – Lockheed Martin in Syracuse is holding it's second annual "Woman in Engineering" workshop today.

WRVO's Chris Ulanowski talks with Lockheed Martin's Kevin McSweeney about the lack of women in engineering.

New York – New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer is leading an effort by Attorney Generals from four Great Lakes States to urge the federal government to protect the waters from harmful, foreign species.

The Attorney Generals say zebra mussels, spiny water fleas, sea lamprey, and other species of fish and insects, which enter the lakes through the ballast water of ocean-going ships, have cost the states millions of dollars in damage.

Spitzer says the Environmental Protection Agency needs to dictate a uniform approach to combatting invasive species.

New York –
Medical equipment maker, Welch Allyn Inc. will move some of its North Carolina operations to Skaneateles. Workers at the North Carolina plant will be offered a relocation or a severance packages. The company's mechanical blood pressure devices and stethescopes will now be made at the Skaneateles plant. No word yet on how many new jobs will result from the move.

Rochester – Canadian American Transporation Systems has revealed that the company's president and financial advisor are the primary private investors.

Earlier this week, the Rochester Genesee Regional Transit Authority halted the project, demanding among other things, that the company reveal it's private financers.

Transit Authority Chairman William Nojay says that CATS still has to meet several other demands before the autority will release it's six million dollar share of the 14 million dollar state aid package.

Palermo, NY – Sunday is the first anniversary of a fire that destroyed a sikh worship center in Palermo.

Three teens were charged with arson in connection with the blaze.

WRVO's Elizabeth Christensen explores how the sikh community has recovered and how local officials are teaching tolerance to young people.

CLICK on the icon above to hear the report.

New York – The United States Secretary of the Interior has approved the state's gaming compact with the Seneca Indian Nation...but with some trepedation.

In a letter to Governor George Pataki, Secretary Gale Norton says the revenue-sharing part of the plan streches the limits of The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in ways that Congress never imagined.

New York – A federal judge has ruled that a law banning out-of-state wineries from directly shipping wine to New York consumers is unconstitutional.

U-S District Judge Richard Berman made the ruling in a case brought by "Swedenburg Estate Vineyards" in Virginia.

The New York law is similar to laws in 29 other states. It requires that imported liquors be distributed only through licensed wholesalers and retailers to ensure accountability and that taxes are paid.