Ashley Hirtzel

Reporter, Innovation Trail, Western New York

Ashley is a Buffalo native, and is in her second stint as reporter at WBFO. During her first tenure at the station, Ashley covered a variety of issues in the western New York region and earned an Associated Press award for team coverage on “Same Sex Marriage in New York.” Ashley has also worked as an anchor/reporter at WBEN in Buffalo and WBTA in Batavia.

Ashley earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Communications at Medaille College in Buffalo.  

Ways To Connect

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.

CUPROF

A major part of Common Core learning standards is a standardized testing system. A system that many have taken issue with.

“I’m all for setting the bar high, but you are setting the bar so high that you are going to defeat a group of people and they’re going to drop out of school,” said parent Lisa Arnone. “As a middle school teacher I already hear them talking. They say ‘they’ll never pass those tests and they’re done.’ And that will be a shame that they will be defeated by these tests.”

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

In classrooms across New York, students are being taught under the Common Core learning standards, requirements that specify what students should know in English Language Arts and math based on grade level.

Students are expected to read and more thoroughly analyze nonfiction text as part of the English requirement. In math, students must have a deeper understanding of concepts and memorize certain formulas.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

The Common Core Learning Standards in New York state have caused a great deal of confusion and controversy. But where did Common Core come from and why was it implemented?

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Special mouth guards and helmets marketed to help reduce concussions may not actually provide any additional protection for football players a new report claims. The findings are from a 2012 study that followed 1,332 high school athletes during a season.

John S. Quarterman / Flickr

Wind power is saving New York state more than 800 million gallons of water annually, according to the analysis authored by Environment New York’s Research and Policy Center. It also argues wind energy is helping reduce asthma-causing pollutants like sulfur dioxide found in acid rain and soot. Field Director Eric Whalen says the renewable resource will reduce rates of asthma and heart disease that go hand-in-hand with fossil fuels.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Upstate New York cities take in around 90 percent of all current refugee resettlements in the state. All this week, The Innovation Trail is taking a look at how that diverse population has weaved its way into the region’s changing economy.

In Buffalo, a handful of students from countries all over the world are sitting in a class at Journey’s End Refugee Services. They are learning how to become janitors for local businesses. The group nods as a student explains an assignment to them.

Ashley Hirtzel / Innovation Trail

University at Buffalo researchers are developing an underwater internet system. The wireless network aims to improve the detection of tsunamis and could potentially save lives. The deep-sea system integrates acoustic underwater networks with the Internet.

A network of acoustic sensors placed on the ocean floor collects data. That information is then sent up to a buoy on the surface, where it’s converted into radio waves.

A new state law amends New York's land bank legislation introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration in 2011. Land banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties that are delinquent on their taxes. The bill removes previous barriers that restricted counties and municipalities from purchasing properties without judicial authorization, allowing them to bid at public sales. Republican state Sen. Mark Grisanti sponsored the legislation.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

Sen. Charles Schumer and a group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing a bill that would lower the federal tax on hard apple cider. New York is the second largest apple grower in the nation, and the idea behind the bill is to give another source of income for small apple growers.

At LynOaken Farms in Medina, General Manager Darrell Oakes explains there are roughly 300 varieties of apples in the self-harvest section.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

A western New York business is creating terra cotta architectural features with the help of the latest technology. The objects are an important element in restoring and maintaining historic buildings, and building new ones.

The work done at Boston Valley Terra Cotta dates back to the late 1800's. The gargoyles, statues, and feature tiles they create can be seen on buildings like Grand Central Station, the Philadelphia Public Library, and the Poptahof in the Netherlands.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

The Environmental Protection Agency outlined its plans to clean up a heavily polluted creek at a public meeting in Lockport on Tuesday. But some residents in the western New York community are concerned that the plans won’t happen fast enough, with an official decision not scheduled until the end of September.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission estimates that more than 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for food, drinking water and recreation. A state-of-the-art research vessel, called the “Muskie,” is currently making its way through Lake Erie collecting data samples for the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

Eighteenmile Creek in Lockport, N.Y. has been a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated area of concern for decades. Because of recent flooding, the EPA is now weighing the option of permanently relocating people living closest to the creek ahead of a massive site cleanup.

Affected residents say a solution can’t come soon enough.

Some rights reserved by 401 (K) 2013

As delays pile up in the implementation of components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded $150 million to the nation’s health care centers as part of an outreach and enrollment program for patients with low incomes.

The grants will help centers provide advice regarding the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, and how it will affect people’s current health coverage as well as those who are currently uninsured.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

Mobile technology has created some new opportunities for citizen scientists to play an active part in research, especially with tighter budgets. Now a nationwide project is enlisting the public to gather up-to-date information on water levels.

Ashley Hassett / WBFO/Innovation Trail

The City of Niagara Falls is set to receive a lump sum of $89 million after the settlement of a long-standing dispute between New York state and the Seneca Nation over gambling revenues.

The first order of business for the city is to pay back over $22 million borrowed from its general fund that’s been depleted over the past several years while the state and Senecas were at odds.

nygovernorcuomo

The lengthy dispute over casino royalties was resolved in Niagara Falls on Thursday with the signing of new deal between the state of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians. 

This deal is the third in 30 days between the state and upstate Indian nations since the governor launched his initiative to push for additional casinos (or as he calls them "resort destinations"), in upstate.

What's in it for the Seneca? Support from Albany to uphold their rights to run exclusive gaming operations in western New York.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

A bill that could bring the dissolution of the bi-national peace bridge authority one step closer has passed through the New York State Assembly and Senate.

Under the bill proposed by Sen. Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Sean Ryan the Peace Bridge Authority will have until July, 2014 to get its affairs in order. Ryan says the bill also brings the authority back in line with similar state entities.

A bill passed in the State Senate aims to increase the number of green homes built in New York state. 

The legislation would give municipalities the power to grant tax exemptions for green home construction in their district.

Gates Foundation

It’s an initiative that aims to boost student interest in Science, Technology, Math and Engineering across the state. The Master Teachers program also hopes to ensure teachers perform at their highest level.

More than 250 current math and science teachers will be chosen from the Mid-Hudson, North Country, central New York and western New York regions to participate in the program, where they’ll mentor undergraduate education students and early career teachers.

A new mobile app is expected to help improve the quality of patient care across the nation.  A team of University at Buffalo students have created it to help reduce hospital readmission rates.

Currently in the prototype stage, the “Discharge Roadmap” app will help patients once they leave the hospital but allowing them and their caregivers to fully participate in the discharge planning process.

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

The quiet western New York farming community of Alabama sits among acres of farm and wetland. It’s also the site chosen for a new Science Technology and Manufacturing Park, known as STAMP. The high-tech park has also been the subject of some public scrutiny, as Genesee county rates highly amongst top agricultural producers in the state. The project is also an example of when the values of agricultural communities are starting to rub up against an upstate development agenda focused around high-tech manufacturing.

Daniel Robison/Innovation Trail

The governor is optimistic Oneida and Madison Counties will go along with the deal he struck last week with the Oneida Indian Nation over casino gambling. The state also reached a deal with St. Regis Mohawk leaders this week. The Seneca Nation is the remaining holdout tribe still in dispute with the state over gambling

Ashley Hassett/Innovation Trail

More than 100 kids showcased their ideas at the 11th annual Western New York Invention Convention, held recently at Medaille College in Buffalo. It was created to promote creative thinking and encourage scientific problem solving.

Charter School for Applied Technologies

A new program aims to promote high-tech manufacturing careers in high schools across Western New York.  Dream it, Do it WNY educates high school students about the broad range of  careers available in the industry.

AGmakonts / Creative Commons License

The SUNY Research Foundation will give funds to several of its institutions to help foster entrepreneurship, including the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) and Upstate Medical University.

Ashley Hassett

The Maid of the Mist tour boats have been working around Niagara Falls for 167 years. Development has just resumed on the operation’s new maintenance dock, after delays caused by local opposition.

WBFO News file photo

A new report called Taken By Storm released by the National Wildlife Foundation is highlighting the issue of excessive fertilizer runoff into Lake Erie. The resulting algal blooms can seriously impact the health of those who rely on its water.

The chemical responsible for the death of 14 people and injury of over 200 in West, Texas, is in wide use. Leaving many upstate New Yorkers wondering how ammonium nitrate is regulated in New York state.

Pages