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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Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Central New York Republicans are weighing in on the scandal surrounding the New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos scandal.  

Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey is calling for Skelos to resign, so state government can get back to the people’s business, instead of what he calls wasting tax dollars and time defending the Long Island Republican.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New federal rules about the safety of rail cars that carry crude oil through upstate New York towns like Syracuse don’t go far enough according to Sen. Charles Schumer. He says it’s now time for Congress to get involved.

Schumer doesn’t like the long-awaited Department of Transportation regulations meant to improve the safety of the train cars carrying flammable substances, which he calls "TNT on wheels.”

"There are serious holes in the regulations the DOT commissioner put out, and we’re going to fill those holes, and fill them immediately,” said the senator.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As manufacturers across central New York and the entire state have trouble finding qualified workers, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hopes a bill she supports in Congress can make a difference.  

Recent statistics show that almost a third of New York manufacturers have trouble keeping skilled workers. One of them is SBB, a DeWitt company that specializes in clean room technologies. General manager Brandon Bogart says they have openings for engineers right now that are going unfilled. And that's crimping the company’s future.

Mixy Lorenzo / Flickr

After several weeks of delays, the Cuomo administration’s so-called email summit is scheduled for later this month. It’s in response to criticism of an administration policy that purges most emails of state employees after 90 days.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco suggests the administration just start saving emails for a longer period of time, and be done with it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some much needed affordable rental units will be coming to the Salina Street corridor in Syracuse, as part of the Salina Crossing project. Ground has been broken on the biggest site, a new mixed-use building on property that once was home to the crumbling Otisca Building on the city’s north side.  

Ben Lockwood, vice president of Housing Visions, the developer, says there is a big need for this kind of housing.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Manufacturing is far from dead in central New York.  But it can sometimes be a challenge for manufacturing companies to find qualified workers. A new pre-apprenticeship program has been designed to train more workers for these jobs.

Darco Manufacturing in Mattydale employs 36 people in the production machining business. They’ve hired eight people in the last eight months according to general manager Laura Miller, and only one had manufacturing experience.  

SUNY ESF

Some SUNY ESF students are hoping neighbors in the eastern portion of Cortland County can help them find a balloon that was part of a science experiment that went awry. 

Students launched a high altitude balloon for a nationwide contest on Wednesday.

Alyssa Endres, a student in the Environmental Resource Engineering Department, said it was supposed to explode when it got high enough.

Matt Churchill / Flickr

Earlier this month, the 114th Congress passed its first 100 days of Republican rule in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Rep. John Katko, the freshman Republican from central New York’s 24th Congressional District, admits things didn’t get off to a good start, with GOP leadership missteps on votes involving abortion and immigration.

"There were some bumps in the road starting out, but I think we’re starting to find our groove a bit,” Katko says.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO News

New signs along the Onondaga Creekwalk in Syracuse offer a glimpse into central New York’s history to walkers, bikers and joggers as they pass by. 

Onondaga Historical Association curator Dennis Connors helped pull together the stories that are told through the signage and videos that can be accessed through a QR code.

Michael / via Flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration’s plan to add extra charges on some homeowner’s tax bills for ornamental streetlights in the city of Syracuse has been put on hold.

The idea for these charges is to let people who in what's called "special lighting districts" to cover more of the $1.9 million bill National Grid sends every year to the city. Presently, Syracuse collects $220,000 from homeowners in the special lighting districts, and the rest comes out of the general fund.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Television and movie actor Ron Perlman is bringing his movie production company to central New York. He’ll start making films at the sound stage, being built at the new Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse-area Republican Rep. John Katko says his first 100 days in office have been a whirlwind. But, the freshman believes he’s already established an identity in Washington.

nysfair.org

State officials begin the master planning process for a new look State Fair next week. Armed with $50 million of state funds from the recently approved state budget, fair officials can get the ball rolling on proposed fair improvements they hope will transform the aging fairgrounds into a premier, multi-use facility.

nysfair.org

The New York State Fair is having trouble signing acts for the Grandstand Stage this year. Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner says usually by this time of the year, the fair has the lineup for the grandstand pretty much in place. While several big name acts have been announced at Chevy Court, like Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor, only country singer Eric Church has committed to the grandstand so far. 

Unplug for Earth Day

Apr 22, 2015
Samuel M. Livingston / Flickr

Some SUNY ESF scientists say a booming world population and over-consumption, are the earth’s biggest enemy.  But they say there are things humans can do on a an individual level that can make a difference in the big picture.

With a world population expected to top eight billion in a decade, professor Chuck Kroll, of the department of environmental resources engineering, looks at all those humans and the resources they uses as the biggest environmental threats out there.

A new federal law is allowing disabled Americans a chance to work and earn money without risking losing their government benefits.What's called the ABLE Act is already offering people with disabilities more independence and opportunities.

Michelle Wolfe, of Oneida, works at the Arc of Madison Cortland in Oneida. Before the ABLE Act passed last December, working extra hours and saving some money was a problem.

"I was told I could only have $2,000 in the bank, otherwise, I’d lose everything,” said Wolfe.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There have been recent calls for the suspension of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY economic development program.  Those that do follow first-year statistics that show millions spent on promoting a program that’s created just over six dozen jobs.

According to the Start-up NY yearly report released earlier this month, $53 million was spent on marketing and advertising for the program. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says to look further than just those numbers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s been a spike in the number of people heading to emergency rooms in Central New York, for treatment after using synthetic marijuana.     

Christine Stork, clinical director of the Upstate New York Poison Center, knew there was a problem when she came to work last week.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse-area National Guard Reserves are preparing for the worst this week.  Troops are in New Jersey, taking part in drills that mimic manmade and natural disasters.

The full-scale disaster exercise means 180 soldiers with the National Guard’s 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Syracuse boarded a military convoy Thursday to head south to take part in the exercises. They joined guard members from across New York and New Jersey.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There continues to be a shortage of organ donors in New York State and central New York. The donor council at Upstate University Hospital is urging the community to learn about the issue, and join the organ donation registry.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Toxic chemicals lurk in some of the popular children’s toys purchased in stores in Onondaga County, according to a report released this week by the group Clean and Healthy New York. The group hopes the study will force New York state lawmakers to keep hazards like this out of the state.

Bobbi Chase Wilding, deputy director for Clean and Healthy New York, points an X-Ray Floresance Analyzer at a children’s xylophone, purchased at a local dollar store.  

Ellen Abbott

Bicycle commuters in Syracuse are hoping that the next roadway that’s revamped with bike infrastructure is Euclid Avenue.

timlewisnm / Flickr

The move to refuse the state standardized tests scheduled for later this week is getting more vocal, as test dates approach for children in third through eighth grades. Teachers unions, and some parent organizations are organizing opt out sessions and email blasts meant to let families know how to refuse the tests that start Tuesday. For one Central New York family, keeping their children from taking the test sends a message to Albany about a complicated issue they say, goes deeper than using tests to measure teachers performance. 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has released what she calls a good, strong budget to the Common Council. The spending plan shows a city that’s emerging from years of fiscal uncertainty. 

The $674 million spending plan won’t raise taxes or water or sewer rates. There are no layoffs of city employees; and there’s increased revenue from building permits, parking garages and meters. There is still a $9 million deficit. But that pales in comparison to the numbers the mayor was throwing around a few years ago, when she suggested the city could go broke. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A coalition of students, faculty and staff at Syracuse University that held sit-ins and marches on campus last fall continues to organize.   

The group called THE General Body has a list of issues it wants to see addressed. Many are related to the issue that started the movement last fall -- concerns about a loss of support for victims of sexual assault. 

Kulsoom Ijaz, a third-year law school student, says many of the items they are taking to the school’s administration are Title IX issues.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state's acting health commissioner is touring the state this week, advising New Yorkers to get off the couch and get some exercise.

Acting Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says the tour is grounded in these statistics from the New York State Department of Health: Just over a quarter of New Yorkers are obese and another 36 percent are overweight. The numbers aren't much better for children. Thirty-two percent of public school students between the ages of six and 12 across the state are either overweigh or obese.

Child abuse numbers are dropping slightly in Onondaga County. But advocates for victims say public awareness is the way to make a real dent in the number of abuse cases.

The McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse has seen a slight decrease the number of children coming through the agency in the last three years -- from 668 in 2012 to 593 last year.  That almost mirrors the drop in abuse hotline calls to Onondaga County – which fell from just over 6,600 in 2-12 to approximately 6,200 last year.

MTSOFAN / Flickr

An Alzheimer’s Association report released in March shows that most Alzheimer patients aren’t told about their diagnosis.  One central New York expert says that can be harmful.

Dr. Sharon Brangman, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center at Upstate Medical University, wasn’t surprised when she heard that only 45 percent of those with the degenerative brain disease got a diagnosis from their doctor.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The bike share movement is spreading in Syracuse. Syracuse University now joins SUNY ESF in offering students the chance to borrow a bike for a limited time.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County residents can now compost food scraps through the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, or OCRRA. The first residential food waste was dropped off at the Jamesville compost site earlier this week.

Fifteen percent of all residential trash collected in Onondaga County is made up of food scraps, according to OCRRA.  The agency is hoping to reduce that number with a new residential food scrap drop-off program. 

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