Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse

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. 

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Upstate University Hospital

Researchers from Upstate University Hospital are testing a vaccine that could prevent a common respiratory virus among newborns.

Respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, is the most common reason newborns end up in the hospital. It’s a very contagious respiratory virus that’s everywhere, and for most children, it plays out as a common cold. But for infants less than two months old it can be life threatening.

The Libertarian Party is growing in New York state. This weekend, Onondaga County becomes the latest county to join this party that challenges the idea of an omnipresent government, instead looking to individual sovereignty as the way to peace and prosperity.

Onondaga County will be the 15th county chapter the party has chartered in New York state and the fourth this year.

Shawn Hannon of Syracuse is leading the central New York effort.

"Libertarian people try to keep the government out of your wallet and out of your bedroom,” he said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a new nature sanctuary in Onondaga County. The Nature Conservancy has acquired more than 200 acres of undeveloped land along the Seneca River in Baldwinsville.

Meesh / Flickr

Syracuse is getting some federal funds that will help youth transition from the criminal system back into society.

Twenty-four-year-old David Lefler was in and out of the Jamesville Correctional Facility for several years. He says it was hard to stay out of trouble once jail became a way of life.

"If you really don’t care, then it’s just going to keep happening,” Lefler says. “You’re going to hang out with the wrong person, and next thing you know you’re in a car with a bag of dope and you’re going to jail.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is putting a technology called SQUID into use this month, which is meant to help city hall make smarter choices when it comes to fixing crumbling streets.

SQUID – or Street Quality Identification Device – is a tiny contraption that sits on the bed of a pickup truck used by the Syracuse Department of Public Works, designed to measure the quality of the streets of Syracuse.

Varun Adibhatla is project director of ARGO labs, which came up with the technology. He says Syracuse is the first city to use it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A chemical company working out of Solvay has come up with a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions its manufacturing process produces. Chemtrade and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) worked together on the project.

redplanet89 / Flickr

There’s going to be a new way to go solar in central New York. Solarize CNY Communities, the organization that’s helped install solar energy in several homes across central New York in recent years, is moving from rooftop arrays to making it a community affair.

Solarize CNY Communities project coordinator Katelyn Kriesel says all it takes for a resident to take advantage of solar power in this community model, is for them to be in the same utility zone as the arrays that convert sunshine into energy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state continues to have one of the lowest percentages of its residents signed up to be organ donors. Now organ donation advocates are hoping some new state legislation will change that.

Every April, the organ donation program at Upstate University Hospital showcases patients who have been saved by organ donations, or families who have made the decision to donate organs from a deceased loved one. This year, Tina Serio told the story of how her family dealt with the sudden death of her sister, who had not made her wishes known before she died.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

There were some boos at the Bernie Sanders supporters’ primary watch party as the projections showed Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic primary in New York state.

Joanna Radzimowski of Syracuse said she is disappointed with the Sanders defeat.

“I have hope that the rest of America is going to see the light and understand that Bernie is really the best candidate for us, for our future," Radzimowski said. "He started a revolution and it is not ending with this.”

But Radzimowski said she would support Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Polls open at noon today in central and northern New York for one of the most contested presidential primaries in New York state history. Both registered Democrats and Republicans will choose who they want to see as their party’s standard bearer in the race for president. The big push now is to get supporters out to vote.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s presidential primary day in New York state. But New York’s closed primary election process is creating a bit of confusion for some voters.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY Upstate Medical University’s new president will be holding a series of symposiums to look for solutions to issues that face health care providers in central New York. Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena hopes a studying issues like poverty and mental health can help the medical community deal with them.

"Help me succeed in connecting us in a joint purpose in improving lives. Our region is small enough so that anonymity is not a problem. We can know each other and learn to problem solve together,” said Laraque-Arena.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Criticism of clashes between Donald Trump Supporters and opponents of the Republican candidate for president, has led to a unique dynamic at Trump rallies. It was no different in Trump’s turn in downtown Syracuse Saturday, when his speech was broken up several times by protesters who had to be led out of the venue.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Now that a higher minimum wage is coming for workers in New York state, nonprofits plan to begin lobbying the state for more funding, in order to keep their agencies afloat.

At Access-CNY in Syracuse, the biggest number of employees are direct support professionals. Hundreds of these workers provide hands-on support for more than 3,000 central New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries and mental illnesses. They make $10-dollars and 25 cents an hour.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The walls are up on the first tiny homes in Syracuse. And they will be used in the fight against homelessness.

Volunteers erected walls on two 300 square foot tiny homes in a low income neighborhood on the city’s south side. The roof and indoor work comes next, and Tiny Homes for Good executive director Andrew Lunetta expects the first residents to move in by the end of May.

"So you walk in, and have a full Murphy bed. There will be a walled-off bathroom and a small kitchenette."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Last weekend’s Luke Bryan concert at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse put the spotlight on a common problem that plagues venues and concert goers across the state and nation -- computer hackers that buy up hundreds of tickets early, then resell them online for a hefty profit.

More than 36,000 people jammed the Carrier Dome Saturday night to see country star Luke Bryan, some of them paying $750 for $75 tickets. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says that’s not right.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Although he was stumping for Democratic primary voters in Syracuse Tuesday, presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders set his sights on Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As New York’s April 19 primary vote approaches, Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich started his upstate politicking in Syracuse Friday night at a town hall at Le Moyne College. 

Kasich is the underdog in the three-man race for the GOP nomination. He’s running third, with 143 delegates, when more than 1,237 are needed to win the nomination. And that logistical hurdle was on the mind of many of the more than 1,000 people who came out to see the Ohio governor at the Le Moyne College Athletic Center.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has struck a deal with Syracuse University to provide $7 million in revenue over the next five years. It extends an earlier service agreement that would have expired later this year.

One of the issues that impacts a cash-strapped city like Syracuse, is the amount of tax-exempt property within city limits -- things like churches, universities and land owned by other governmental entities.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is putting the spotlight on the student loan crisis. The congressman gathered students and financial aid administrators for a roundtable discussion at Onondaga Community College Tuesday.

Katko says he is not optimistic about the fact there is over $1 trillion in student loan debt in this country.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The controversial math and English language tests for children in grades 3-8 begin in public schools across New York state today. Opposition to the tests has been quieter this year, but still simmers among parents and educators in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse for Sanders campaign is shifting into high gear as the April 19 New York presidential primary approaches. And, volunteers are doing it on a shoestring budget.

One of the way the Sanders campaign is trying to distance itself from Hillary Clinton, is by refusing so-called “big money” donations. The average contribution, according to the Sanders campaign, is $27. In central New York, that doesn’t leave a lot of cash for expensive billboards and TV ads. So the local campaign has turned to a cheaper form of advertising -- buses.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hillary Clinton is hoping that her eight years as a senator from New York state will help her win the presidential primary here April 19. In a campaign stop in Syracuse Friday, she convened a manufacturing roundtable, made up mostly of people she dealt with as senator.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ACR Health in Syracuse has opened a new clinic to provide health care for injection drug users. The agency hopes the facility can reach people who may feel alienated by the health care system.

Thirty-two-year old Jeremy Fiorino of Syracuse was the first patient at the clinic, which opened up this week. A heroin addict since 2012, he’s been clean now for 54 days.

"I had an abscess from when I was actively using, and I got some antibiotics, and they checked up on it,” said Fiorino.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Erie Canal Corridor in upstate New York is getting a boost from some federal dollars.

Federal funds from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor will go to 10 education and preservation projects from the Albany area to Buffalo. The $44,000 in grants will leverage an additional $165,000 in private funds to create teachers guides, murals, and historical markers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s a big week for sports fans around the region, as the Syracuse University men’s and women’s basketball teams are each headed to the Final Four this weekend. One of the ways fans like to show their support? Buying T-shirts.

Last week, sheriff’s deputies raided what they say is the biggest fentanyl mill they’ve seen in Onondga County, arresting six people and stopping the sale of an estimated 6,000 bags of fentanyl-laced heroin locally. The bust showcases how a drug that is often used for good, has been co-opted into the illegal drug scene.

Anyone ever involved in a car accident, or who has gone to the emergency room with a broken bone, may have heard of fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is a prescription medication, according to William Eggleston, a pharmacist inn the Upstate Poison Control Center.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Local police agencies have a new foe in the fight against opioid addiction -- the synthetic drug fentanyl. It started showing up on central New York streets just over a year ago. Fentanyl, mostly mixed with heroin, but sometimes on i’s own, being sold to opioid users. 

A think tank out of Albany has analyzed census data that show the number of New Yorkers has increased by 2.2 percent over the last five years, a jump of almost 418,000 people. But population growth in the New York City metro area makes up for the regional trend in upstate New York, where statistics show the area losing thousands of residents between 2010 and 2015.
 

St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center / Facebook

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is continuing to partner with smaller regional hospitals throughout upstate New York. The latest venture is a collaboration with Rome Memorial Hospital.

 

Rome Memorial will still operate as an independent, separately licensed hospital, with local control, but a new agreement allows patients in Rome to have access to technology and services from the much bigger hospital in Syracuse.

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