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.  

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6:46am

Mon May 26, 2014
Education

Why Common Core? The controversy over standardized tests

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.”

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6:44am

Fri March 28, 2014
Education

Why Common Core? Expectations for students, teachers

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.

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7:29am

Tue March 25, 2014
Education

Why Common Core? How the controversial program came to NY

Parents protest Common Core at a forum in Fayetteville in December.
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?

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8:58am

Fri November 29, 2013
Sports

Off-the-shelf football gear offers same protection as custom-built

Players stand along the sideline during a football game.
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.

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7:38am

Fri November 22, 2013
Environment

Research group praises wind energy's production, health impact

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.

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8:35am

Tue November 19, 2013
Refugee Resettlement

Refugees revitalize Rust Belt city of Buffalo

At Journey's End Refugee Services, Bishnu Adhikari, right, tests his students on their vacuum skills.
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.

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7:07am

Wed November 13, 2013
Technology

Researchers work to develop wireless Internet underwater

The UB research team working on the Internet underwater.
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.

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7:44am

Fri October 4, 2013
Politics and Government

Land Bank law amended, counties can now buy vacant properties

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.

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7:55am

Mon September 30, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Proposed legislation expected to boost apple production in NY state

Wendy Oakes-Wilson and Darrell Oakes operate LynOaken Farms.
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.

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7:14am

Wed August 21, 2013
Business

Historic architecture improved with new technology

Terracotta being formed out of clay by hand.
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.

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8:15am

Thu August 15, 2013
Environment

Lockport residents continue waiting for Eighteenmile Creek cleanup plan

A sign warning residents of contamination at Eighteenmile Creek.
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.

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6:07am

Wed August 14, 2013
Environment

Floating USGS lab continues monitoring of Great Lakes

Sea lampery
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.

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8:34am

Sat August 3, 2013
Environment

The EPA weighs cleanup options for Eighteenmile Creek

A sign warns of the dangerous conditions at Eighteenmile Creek.
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.

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8:10am

Fri July 19, 2013
Health

Upstate health care centers funded to get uninsured into Affordable Care Act

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.

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10:03am

Wed July 3, 2013
Science

Nationwide research project enlists public to help collect water data

Instructions for "CrowdHydrology"
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.

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3:57pm

Thu June 20, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Casino revenue to be used for multiple initiatives in Niagara Falls

City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster.
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.

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3:06pm

Fri June 14, 2013
Politics and Government

Seneca casino deal releases 100% of disputed revenues, windfall for localities and state

Seneca president Barry Snyder and Cuomo's director of operations, Howard Glaser
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.

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9:21am

Thu June 13, 2013
Politics and Government

State legislature moves one step closer to dissolving Peace Bridge Authority

The Peace Bridge
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.

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6:27am

Mon June 10, 2013
Energy

Bill aims to increase number of 'green' homes built in state

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.

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9:30am

Mon June 3, 2013
Education

Statewide program hopes to boost math and science teacher performance

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.

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4:08pm

Tue May 28, 2013
Health

Mobile app prototype targets readmission rates, aims to lower ER and insurance costs

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.

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9:01am

Mon May 27, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Farming or high-tech park? One community weighs the options

Site of proposed Science Technology & Manufacturing Park in Alabama, NY
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.

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9:31am

Fri May 24, 2013
Politics and Government

Senecas are remaining holdout to reach a casino deal with NY state

Seneca Casino, Niagara Falls
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

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8:36am

Sat May 11, 2013
Science

Event showcases student innovation and creativity

"Taco Tape" inventor, Ruby Soudant, who is in the 4th grade
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.

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5:11pm

Fri May 10, 2013
Education

Program aims to promote manufacturing careers to students

Students learning about high-tech manufacturing
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.

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4:33pm

Thu May 9, 2013
The Upstate Economy

SUNY program aims to boost entrepreneurship in region

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.

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10:52am

Thu May 9, 2013
Regional Coverage

Maid of the Mist construction resumes with much opposition

Maid of the Mist
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.

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3:19pm

Thu May 2, 2013
Environment

Farm run-off is polluting Lake Erie, says new report

Map of Lake Erie
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.

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7:10am

Wed May 1, 2013
Science

Ammonium nitrate storage closely regulated in New York

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.

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7:48am

Mon April 29, 2013
Regional Coverage

State approves funding for upstate food and agriculture projects

The former Raindow Centre mall in Niagara Falls will be turned into a regioal culinary center.
WBFO News

Empire State Development approved funding for two upstate food and agriculture related measures in their meeting Friday.

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