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Friday morning update: The windy conditions over the past 24 hours has broken the ice up quite a bit. George Leshkevich is a physical scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory now says the ice coverage is at about 56%, a 24% drop over the last day or so.

Our original post

Satellite images are showing that more than 82 percent of Lake Ontario is now frozen over. By comparison, 61 percent of the lake's surface was frozen in the first week of March last year.

SU professional and technical writing / via Flickr

Syracuse residents packed Syracuse’s city hall last night to voice their opposition to proposed service reductions on the public bus system. Councilors summoned the head of the Centro bus service to explain the transit agency’s gaping fiscal accounts. 

The council chamber at city hall was packed on a freezing and snowy evening. A testament, many said, to the importance of Centro bus service to city residents. 

azipaybarah / Flickr

Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted Thursday on federal fraud and extortion charges. Silver was arrested in January and charged with taking nearly $4 million in kickbacks. 

One hundred-fifty Syracuse homeowners are being spared by the federal government from having to buy flood insurance.

City officials and Sen. Charles Schumer encouraged the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to re-examine measurements of Onondaga Creek. Wednesday, Schumer and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced the maps will be revised and include fewer homes.

Watertown, NY official website

An audit released Tuesday by the State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli found the Watertown police department lost track of confiscated drugs, weapons, and two vehicles.

The report indicated the actual location of these items did not match up with inventory records. Forty-four drug items such as bags of marijuana, pills, and cocaine, were missing. Only nine have been accounted for. Most of the seized drugs in inventory did not have proper documentation.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

The future of the Cayuga coal-fired power plant in Tompkins County remains up-in-the-air, almost three years after plans to close the plant were announced.

The local utility, NYSEG, opposes a proposed conversion to natural gas and wants to invest in their transmission system instead. Either way, the cost will be added to ratepayers’ bills.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Local law enforcement and Sen. Charles Schumer are pushing for more disclosure about homes that were previously used as meth labs.

Schumer, a Democrat, wants there to be a law on the books that requires someone selling a home to let the buyer know if the home has ever been used as a meth lab – assuming it was busted for being so.

"Knowing if your home was the site of a former meth lab before you purchase it, before you’re forced to deal with the health consequences and the cost of cleanup is critical," he said.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Onondaga County’s top public prosecutor isn’t entirely on board with some proposals to make the grand jury process more transparent.

New York's chief judge has proposed that records of now secret grand jury proceedings be released when nobody is charged. He’s also called for direct judicial oversight when police are investigated for killings or felony assaults.

Trial could lead to an oral vaccine against HIV

Feb 19, 2015
Mike Blyth / Flickr

 

University of Rochester Medical Center researchers in Rochester are looking for healthy adults for a trial that could lead to an oral vaccine against HIV infection.

The vaccine under investigation comes in pill form.

“Our goal is to eradicate it from the world, much like we've almost done with polio and have done with small pox,” said Doctor Michael Keefer, director of the University’s HIV Vaccine Trials Unit.

  It’s made of live adenovirus -- a protein that creates an immune response against HIV.

Constellation Energy Group

An Oswego County nuclear plant was shut down Wednesday, after water levels in the reactor increased. The Nine Mile Point Unit 2 reactor was shut down just after 2 p.m. Wednesday. 

According to a spokeswoman with Constellation Energy, which owns the plant, water levels have returned to normal. The plant remains offline while technicians look for the cause of the problem. 

The Nine Mile Unit 1 reactor was not affected and continues to operate at 100 percent power. 

Mercy Health / Flickr

  The deadline to enroll for coverage through the state’s health insurance plan was Sunday. New Yorkers who started applications before the cutoff still have until the end of the month to finish them.
 

But state health officials are also considering adding a special enrollment period for people who have not yet filed their 2014 tax return. Consumer advocacy groups are asking for just that as many Americans file returns and see that they may owe money on their federal taxes.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A federal judge this week blocked two executive actions by President Obama, that would have protected as many as 4 million immigrants in the country illegally from deportation. U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen said the president overstepped his authority. 

Central New York Congressman John Katko agrees with the judge's ruling. 

Vernon Dutton / Flickr

 

The American Nurses Association reports 8 out of 10 nurses say they frequently work with joint or back pain. The nursing profession has the highest rate of on-the-job injuries of any other in the country. According to many the solution to both problems: more nurses on staff at hospitals.

"The nurses, in many ways, are the last line of defense against harm to patients," John James, founder of Patient Safety America. His organization campaigns to lower the number of injuries to patients in the hospital.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Rep. John Katko will focus this term in office on mental health, security and poverty.

The first-term Syracuse area congressman told reporters what he wants to spend his time on. Those points range from promoting tourism to protecting the area’s agricultural sector.

Katko, R-Camillus, spoke in depth about improving Syracuse’s high poverty rate. He says in his position, he’ll look to be an advocate for decreasing unemployment and school dropout rates. "And there’s no easy answers, but raising the awareness is a start of trying to get a solution to the problem," he said.

Chris Caya / WBFO News

Buffalo's status as the "Queen City" of the Great Lakes started slipping with the St. Lawrence Seaway's opening in 1954. But after a recent meeting downtown with Seaway Administrator Betty Sutton, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state is resetting the relationship.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Following a trend for downtown Syracuse real estate, an office building is being renovated to have residential space, but with a twist. 

The building at the corner of Jefferson and Warren Streets is transforming into a communal space, with room for both co-working and co-living, making it perhaps the most different addition to the neighborhood’s residential construction boom.

Troy Evans is converting two floors of empty office space into co-living space, where tenants will rent small rooms with individual bathrooms.

Brian Hoffman / via Flickr

Watertown was the coldest place in the lower 48 states yesterday, reaching -36 degrees on President’s Day morning. 

But around lunch time it had warmed up to a balmy -3 degrees.  It’s the kind of temperature that car engines hate. Still, people were driving around in their cars. But a few brave souls were out on foot.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Once the President’s Day week-long break is finished, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature will have to start discussing the 2015 budget.  But the traditional style of budget making in New York, known as “Three Men in a Room,” is coming under criticism, by among others, the U.S. Attorney currently investigating corruption at the Capitol. Some are wondering whether it’s time to end the secretive practice.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

There’s a big chunk of state funding on the table for investment in upstate New York’s communities and not surprising, there are a lot of opinions for what the funds should be spent on.

Rob Simpson is in charge of CenterState CEO. His organization represents 2,000 regional businesses. In the role, he’s close with both New York’s governor and local leaders.

The dangers of having a sweet tooth

Feb 15, 2015
Judy van der Velden / via Flickr

Sugar is in a lot of the foods you consume every day, but not all sugar is created equal. Whether it’s refined, naturally occurring, or added – sugar should be eaten sparingly, according to this week’s guest, because addiction to sugar is very real and very possible. And it’s not just the addition to sugar that’s a problem, it’s the damage it can do to your body.

This week on “Take Care,” James DiNicolantonio explains what causes sugar addiction and helps us differentiate healthy and harmful sugars. DiNicolantonio is a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

There’s fungus among us and a pedicure won’t fix it

Feb 15, 2015
jima / Flickr

Fungus of the nail, while virtually painless, can often stick out like a sore thumb. Embarrassing discoloration isn’t the only downside of fungus -- if left untreated, that fungus can spread and destroy the nail.

This week on “Take Care,” Dr. Dana Stern discusses how fungal infections are formed and how to treat them. Stern is a dermatologist, nail specialist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. 

Have interracial couples moved beyond race in their relationships?  Are they color-blind?  This week on the Campbell Conversations, sociologist Amy Steinbugler joins host Grant Reeher to discuss that question, based on her new book, Beyond Loving.  She argues that these couples must still navigate difficult racial terrain in their relationships.  And this terrain gets even more complicated for interracial couples who are gay and lesbian, another group she studied for the book.

Photographer captures Utica's heart and soul

Feb 14, 2015
Arian Horbovetz / ariandavidphotography

A Rochester wedding photographer recently trained his lens on a different kind of subject. Now he finds himself one of the most talked about people in the Mohawk Valley.  

Arian Horbovetz photographs weddings for a living. But sometimes, he says, that’s not enough.

“My belief is if you are going to do art for an income then you also have to break away from that construct and do art for the sake of art occasionally,” said Horbovetz.

Colleen / via Flickr

Education is one of the biggest issues being debated this year in Albany. Now, Gov.

Charles Atkelson / via Flickr

The central New York operation of Lockheed Martin failed to secure the third round of a lucrative Navy supply contract.

The first two rounds of funding for a new electronic warfare system known by the acronym SEWIP were given to Lockheed Martin’s plant in suburban Syracuse in 2013 and 2014. Last summers award was worth $147 million.

But the Navy decided to the award the third, and largest, part of the contract to competitor Northrup Grumman. The Navy says the contract is worth skywards of $300 million with all the options.

wadester16 / Flickr

For the first time in months, the New York’s highest court has all seven judges on the bench, now that the state Senate has confirmed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s two newest choices on the court.

The confirmation of Judge Eugene Fahey and Judge Leslie Stein to the Court of Appeals sailed through the Senate, after Cuomo put off announcing his choices, and the Senate delayed scheduling hearings, despite state laws requiring that vacancies on the court be filled promptly.

How sugar impacts the brain and body

Feb 13, 2015

For years, nutritionists have been pushing Americans to eat more vegetables and fewer desserts. But emerging research is increasingly showing the damage eating too much sugar can do to our health. This week on WRVO's health and wellness show "Take Care," hosts Lorraine Rapp and Linda Lowen speak with James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at St. Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and a leading authority on the effects of sugar on the body.

Lorraine Rapp: So what is it about sugar that makes it so harmful?

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The deadline is approaching to sign up for health insurance for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and one Syracuse agency that signs people up for plans wants to make sure the word about that deadline is out.

February 15 is the last day that individuals can buy health insurance during this year’s open enrollment period. People who don’t meet that deadline will face a tax penalty.

Steve Wood, of ACR Health in Syracuse, expects there will be people who won’t meet the deadline.

CDC

Central New York is experiencing a massive increase in the number of cases of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis. While the overall number is low, health officials are worried about the trend.

From its near eradication nationwide at the turn of the 21st century, syphilis cases in Onondaga County doubled from 2012 to 2013. And then doubled again last year. They’ve risen 1,800 percent since 2008.

That only amounts to 56 total cases last year, up from three in 2008. 

GED switch deters some test-takers

Feb 12, 2015
Credit The TASC Test/via Facebook

  Results are in for the first year of New York state’s new replacement for the GED. The goal of the new test is to lower costs and gradually phases in national Common Core standards.

New York replaced the GED because the test’s price tag was set to double this year. The new test gives students the same credentials – the equivalent of a high school diploma. Statewide pass rates are down by four percent after the switch, compared to 2012. The number of test-takers also fell by half.

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