Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse, WRVO Public Media

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County.  Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

Pages

4:06pm

Thu July 10, 2014
Politics

Moss emphasizes importance of Fort Drum during visit to North Country

Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in New York state is spending part of today in the North Country.   

Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss says his message is aimed at the area around Fort Drum, and that he and gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino know how important that military base is to the local economy.

“Over $1 billion I think last year alone goes out to the community," Moss said. "So Fort Drum is very important to that part of the state. It’s important that we keep it open and keep jobs there.”

Read more

7:46am

Thu July 10, 2014
Regional Coverage

Details about $100 million Onondaga Lake West project announced, among some controversy

Residents listen to the presentation about the Onondaga Lake project at a meeting in Solvay Wednesday evening
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County fleshed out details of the $100 million Onondaga Lake West project for residents of Solvay Wednesday night.  

One of the highlights of the presentation was a virtual video tour of the lake view amphitheater, starting at a box office then winding down tree lined sidewalks, past a small amphitheater and festival grounds to the main amphitheater on Lakeview Point.

Read more

4:08pm

Wed July 9, 2014
Regional Coverage

Smithfield community in shock after tornado strikes; governor offers condolences

This house in Smithfield was pulled off its foundation, seen in background, and destroyed.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The National Weather Service has determined that it was a tornado that touched down in a rural part of Madison County last night, killing four people, including an infant.  

Barbara Watson, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service, made the tornado determination after surveying  damage along Goff Road in the town of Smithfield.

"It will be declared a significant tornado.  It had wind speeds well over 100 miles per hour,” said Watson.

Read more

3:03pm

Wed July 9, 2014
Entertainment

Onondaga County to unveil plans for amphitheater in Solvay

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the public will be surprised by how far the project has come so far.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Just about six months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to central New York to announce that the state would chip in $30 million for a multi-million dollar plan to revitalize the western lakeshore of Onondaga Lake, including the village of Solvay. Today, Onondaga County is ready to share with the public detailed plans about what this development entails.

Read more

5:37am

Tue July 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Auburn Housing Authority bans smoking in public housing units

Dale M Moore Flickr

There will be no more smoking inside apartments operated by the Auburn Housing Authority.

Auburn Housing Authority Director Stephanie Hutchinson says the idea for the smoking ban began when non-smokers started speaking up.

"We had received a number of complaints from tenants whose neighbors smoked, saying they could smell inside their apartment units, and they were worried for their children’s health," Hutchinson said. "And that’s where it really started."

Read more

5:48am

Mon July 7, 2014
Health

Cuomo vows to reduce number of AIDS cases in New York

World Bank Photo Collection

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced a plan he hopes will end the AIDS epidemic in New York state by the year 2020, but much of what’s involved in the three-point program is already being done.

The governor's program is called “Bending the Curve," and concentrates on three things: identifying people who test HIV positive; linking those people to healthcare and connecting them to anti-HIV therapy to prevent further transmission; and stopping high-risk behavior among others to keep them HIV negative.

Read more

5:27am

Fri July 4, 2014
Regional Coverage

Fireman's Association says leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals

Derek Key

Fireworks are a staple of Fourth of July celebrations. But one statewide organization is worried about sparks that will start flying in backyard pyrotechnics displays this weekend.

More fires are reported on July 4th than any other day of the year, according to the Fireman’s Association of New York State. And 60 percent of all fireworks injuries happen in the weeks immediately before and after the holiday.  

Read more

6:25am

Thu July 3, 2014
Politics

Katko calls out Maffei on gas and energy policies

John Katko says the middle class is getting squeezed by high gas prices.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

As central New Yorkers hop in their cars to head off for the holiday weekend, the 24th Congressional District race is focusing on gas prices and energy policy.

The Republican candidate in the race, former federal prosecutor John Katko, is calling on incumbent Democrat Rep. Dan Maffei to say no to what Katko calls a growing effort in Washington to raise the federal gas tax.

He says central New Yorkers just can’t afford it.

Read more

1:06pm

Wed July 2, 2014
Religion

Syracuse museum tells story of St. Marianne Cope

The St. Marianne Cope museum in Syracuse opens next week.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A museum and shrine honoring St. Marianne Cope is ready for visitors. The center will honor a woman raised in central New York and who became a saint two years ago.

The museum sits on North Townsend Street, in the shadow of St. Joseph’s Hospital on Syracuse’s northside.  Cope was one of the founders of St. Joe’s and current CEO Kathryn Ruscitto says there will always been a connection.

“The reason we are such a unique institution is because of the roots that started with St. Marianne,” Ruscitto said. “So we are just delighted to have it on our campus.”

Read more

6:38am

Wed July 2, 2014
Health

ACR Health says not to worry about health insurance increase letters

ACR Health in Syracuse is getting a lot of calls from people who signed up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, and are worried their health insurance costs are rising. But the experts who signed hundreds of people up for insurance in central New York say not to worry.

Read more

2:45pm

Tue July 1, 2014
Health

Liquid in e-cigarettes resulting in more calls to upstate poison control center

Joseph Morris Flickr

Poisonings from the liquid that is used in electronic cigarettes is on the rise in New York state. They come in flavors like bubble gum, mint chip and grape, but only one swallow of liquid nicotine can make a child very, very ill, according to Michelle Caliva, head of the Upstate New York Poison Center.

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine, and nicotine is toxic to children," Caliva said. "Whether it’s in the e-cigarette or a cigarette. If they ingest enough of it, they’re going to get sick."

Read more

9:29am

Mon June 30, 2014
Regional Coverage

New federal program seeks to provide homeless families with longer lasting housing solutions

Syracuse has the second highest number of homeless children in New York state outside of New York City, according to recent statistics. There are 957 homeless children in the city of Syracuse, 1,401 in all in Onondaga County. Now one organization that deals with that population is hoping a new program will help ease that number.

This is the time of year things start getting busy at local homeless shelters.  

Read more

7:54am

Mon June 30, 2014
Environment

Invasive insect threatening hemlock trees near Skaneateles Lake

Nicholas A. Tonelll

There’s a new invasive insect causing problems in Onondaga County. The hemlock woolly adelgid has started feeding on hemlock trees in the watershed that provides water for the city of Syracuse.

An alert arborist found the bug that’s been on the eastern seaboard since the 1950s, munching on hemlock needles in trees on the Onondaga County side of Skaneateles Lake.

Read more

6:23am

Fri June 27, 2014
Business

Restaurants consider forming association to combat Destiny USA tax breaks

Restaurant owners meet in Syracuse to discuss ways to combat Destiny USA's tax breaks.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Independent restaurants in central New York are hoping to fight what they call an uneven playing field when it comes to Destiny USA. Many restaurants say they’ve lost business since the mega-mall expanded a few years ago with the help of a tax deal with the city of Syracuse.

Denis Sick, of Mohegan Manor in Baldwinsville, has seen business fall 30 to 40 percent since December a year ago, and puts the blame squarely on competition from Destiny’s chain restaurants.

Read more

6:23am

Fri June 27, 2014
Politics

DeFrancisco says upstate New York will suffer, following IDC decision

Durrie Bouscaren WRVO File

Upstate will be the big loser if a new power change in the state Senate goes through, according to one high ranking state Senate Republican.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says if history tells us anything, it’s that upstate New York doesn’t fare well when downstate Democrats control all branches of government in New York state.

"Upstate will be shafted, to put it in the vernacular, if New York City is running everything again," DeFrancisco said.

He says voters need to know how upstate will be affected by the power shift.

Read more

7:06am

Thu June 26, 2014
Health

Homeowners urged to protect themselves from rabies

Jennifer Krauel Flickr

As we head into summer, rabid animals are turning up in central New York.

So far this year a couple of bats, a feral cat and a raccoon have tested positive for rabies, according to the Onondaga County Health Department. Environmental health assessment director Lisa Letteney says it’s common for these reports to start trickling in this time of year. Letteney is particularly concerned, though, about the feral cat found with the disease in the Baldwinsville area.

Read more

3:39pm

Wed June 25, 2014
Politics

Kessner continues to pursue run against Valesky because of IDC alignment

Jean Kessner (far left), looks on as Assemblyman Sam Roberts discusses his support for her possible run against Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida)
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner continues collecting petition signatures for a possible Democratic primary run for the state Senate seat held by Dave Valesky (D-Oneida). On Tuesday, Kessner supporters rallied in front of the State Office Building in Syracuse.

Kessner says she only wants to run if Valesky stays aligned with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that, along with Republicans, control the state Senate.  

Read more

6:17am

Tue June 24, 2014
Regional Coverage

Maffei promotes infrastructure plan in Syracuse

Dan maffei speaks to reporters about his plan to increase the amount of investements in infrastructure.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) has put together a wide-ranging program that would invest in central New York’s infrastructure, ranging from fixing crumbling roads and bridges to bringing high speed rail to the area. He says there has to be a mindset change in Washington for this to happen.

Read more

8:17am

Mon June 23, 2014
Politics and Government

Hanna, Tenney to face off in Congressional primary Tuesday

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld)
Credit RichardHannaforCongress.com

Some national conservative political pundits are comparing the Republican primary in the 22nd Congressional District in New York state tomorrow to the Virginia primary race that saw a Tea Party candidate beat an established Republican Party leader.

The race has some of the same themes as that Virginia primary, with a moderate main street Republican looking to keep his seat, in the wake of a challenge from a more conservative Tea Party Republican.

Read more

7:22am

Mon June 23, 2014
Education

SU professor takes on the topic of death in new study

Ben Bradley will soon lead a study on death and how it shapes opinions.
SU News Services

A Syracuse University professor will be spending the next several months thinking about death, as part of a grant by the Immortality Project at the University of California, Riverside.

SU's Philosophy Department Chairman Ben Bradley will lead the research into a topic not many people want to talk about - death. He says the focus will be on the emotions and attitudes people have about their own death.

Read more

7:17am

Fri June 20, 2014
Regional Coverage

SU group offers backup plans if Carrier Dome becomes inoperable

Rick Burton serves as chairman for a Syracuse University work group searching for emergency options if the Carrier Dome fails.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A special work group at Syracuse University has laid out several options in case the Carrier Dome is ever incapacitated.

The group has come up with a back-up plan to deal with the 275 events that happen in SU’s iconic stadium.

So what would happen to Syracuse University's most high profile sports if the Carrier Dome became inoperable for a long period of time?

Read more

6:35am

Thu June 19, 2014
Regional Coverage

Downtown Syracuse's boom is led by residential development

A view of South Salina Street in downtown Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Downtown Syracuse is in the midst of a multi-million dollar development boom. Much of this development is fueled by people who want to live downtown.

There are signs of construction all along the 300 block of South Salina Street in Syracuse. Downtown Committee executive director Merike Treier says today’s downtown has changed a lot in the last decade.

Read more

7:13am

Tue June 17, 2014
Agriculture

Dairy industry sees a boom in New York

(file photo)
Matt Richmond WSKG

The New York state dairy industry is in a good place right now, and state officials say they want to keep it that way.

When New York State Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball was a boy, he used to travel the state for his family’s farm business.

"It seemed like there were 60 dairies between Albany and Buffalo. And then there were a handful," Ball said. "And now at the department, we inspect and keep our eyes on close to 400 processing plants, and there are about 40 in the queue right now to get up and running.”

Read more

7:32am

Mon June 16, 2014
Performing Arts and Culture

One year in, Symphoria plans for the future

Symphoria

Symphoria, the successor to the defunct Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, has one year under its belt.  And organizers believe so far, so good.

And as the fledgling orchestra closes the books on its first year, Symphoria managing director Catherine Underhill estimates musicians played to 45,000 people. It has been trying to attract a new audience, with things like its “Spark” series, which creates more social music going experiences. But Underhill says the organization knows they need to keep growing.

Read more

6:56am

Fri June 13, 2014
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County Justice Center opens new infirmary to reduce inmate hospital visits

The Onondaga County Justice Center in Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A new, higher level of medical care is now available at the Onondaga County Justice Center. The new infirmary is located in the downtown Syracuse jail that holds prisoners awaiting trials or transfer to other facilities.

There has always been space for an infirmary in the almost 20-year-old jail, but cost considerations kept Onondaga County from staffing it. Now, the medical organization the county contracts out to can offer the advanced level of training needed for the staff that already works in the jail’s medical unit.

Read more

5:53am

Thu June 12, 2014
Business

Public can soon comment on Solvay amphitheater project along Onondaga Lake

Gov. Andrew Cuomo discusses Onondaga Lake redevelopment in Solvay, N.Y. during an announcement in January. (file photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

This summer, environmental questions will be heard surrounding the construction of a new amphitheater on the old Solvay waste beds along Onondaga Lake. A draft environmental impact statement surrounding the project will soon be up for review.

Read more

5:52am

Thu June 12, 2014
Environment

Onondaga County plans to spend $15 million to combat Emerald Ash Borer

Arborist Lori Brockelbank injects insecticide into an ash tree. (file photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Onondaga County expects to spend more than $15 million over the next 25 years to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer infestation. The plan targets almost 47,000 ash trees on county land that pose a danger if they fall over.

The invasive bug was discovered in Onondaga County last summer, and if left alone can kill an ash tree in two to seven years. County Environmental Director David Coburn says the county is proposing an ash tree management strategy that is a balanced approach.

Read more

5:45am

Wed June 11, 2014
Health

Rise in elder abuse cases has central New York searching for answers

With an aging population, elder abuse is becoming more prevalent across the country and in central New York. Financial abuse has become one of the most common ways people take advantage of older Americans.

Jenny Hicks runs a program out of Vera House in Syracuse that focuses on elder abuse, and says there’s a kind of déjà vu in an agency that for years has counseled victims of domestic violence.

“It’s very much like domestic violence was 35 years ago -- in the shadows," Hicks said. "People are just now starting to talk about elder abuse.”

Read more

7:17am

Tue June 10, 2014
Environment

Onondaga County residents speak out against 'Trash to Ash' plan

Jamesville resident Vicki Baker, left, speaks to Onondaga County legislators about the county's proposed 'Trash to Ash' plan
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Opponents to a trash to ash plan between Onondaga and Cortland Counties had their say at an informational meeting on the environmental impact of the proposed move in the town of DeWitt last night.  

The plan would truck garbage from Cortland County to Onondaga County’s trash burner in Jamesville, then return the ash to the Cortland County landfill. Many of the people who testified at the meeting had been involved in the fierce debate over whether the plant should have been built in the first place  20 years ago, and remembered the promises made to placate a community.  

Read more

4:30pm

Mon June 9, 2014
Environment

Public to share concerns about 'Trash to Ash' plan during first hearing

Onondaga County's Waste-to-Energy Facility in Jamesville.
Office of Onondaga County Comptroller

Onondaga County is hosting the first of several public hearings on a plan to import trash from Cortland County to burn at Onondaga County’s incinerator in Jamesville.

Onondaga County Legislator David Knapp says this is all part of the process of getting information about the potential impacts of the deal.

“Right now we’re in the scoping phase of the environmental impact process," Knapp said. "So this meeting is open to any resident to come in and give us their thoughts about what should be in the scope of the environmental review.”

Read more

Pages