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. 

Ways To Connect

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

The Public Service Commission comes to Syracuse this summer to find out what internet and cable access is like for residents of the city.  And there won’t be many positives to take away, if they hear the same thing residents are telling Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Don’t expect the decision last week by the New York State Wage Board to boost the minimum wage for New York’s fast food workers to $15 an hour to be the end of the story. At least one central New York lawmaker expects this to be the beginning of a bigger debate.

For Syracuse-area Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, there’s no question that the state’s minimum wage should be upped to $15 an hour for everyone.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

Disabled Veterans are getting a crash course in how to become entrepreneurs this week in Syracuse.

Dan Piston spent six years in the Navy.  When he got out two years ago, he realized he had a passion for the health and fitness field. And wanted to put that In action by doing something like owning a gym.

"I do not have much training in business. Right now my undergrad degree is in health and exercise science. And I’ve always had an interest in owning a business, but I didn’t know how to do it, or where to get started,” said Piston.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse hopes to use a $10 million infusion from a New York State Assembly fund for infrastructure as a springboard to even more cash to help repair the crumbling waterlines and sewer pipes that dog the city.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A central New York Mentorship program that pairs grandparents with first and second graders could become the victim of federal budget cuts.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says this funding is essential for the grandparents who help in Syracuse classrooms, by way of the Senior Corp Chapter in the city of Syracuse.

Volunteer Colleen Chestnut works with these kids in the Syracuse City School District, and doesn’t want to see the program go away.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY faculty and students are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would mean more money for the state university system.  

Michael Lyon, professor at Upstate Medical University, knows what it’s like to be buried in student debt.

"I finished paying for my education when my first adult child started college. So it was a never-ending payment,” said Lyon.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A New York State Supreme Court judge today reserved judgment in the case of Syracuse Common Councilors versus Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration over a computer use policy.  

A majority of the councilors are suing the mayor’s office over requests to sign the agreement, which the lawmakers say allows the administration access their confidential communication and research.  

Private attorney Paul Curtin represented the councilors in court, and is hopeful this conflict can be solved without Judge Hugh Gilbert getting involved.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democrats in the New York State Assembly have come through with some cash for Crouse Hospital in Syracuse to help fund its opioid and heroin abuse program.  

The majority conference is committing $400,000 to Crouse, which runs the only methadone program in the region. It’s struggling to keep up with demand spurred by the recent spike in heroin and opiate addiction across the country and in central New York. Right now the program serves 600 patients; another 500 are on a waiting list. The hospital treats patients who are from the Southern Tier to the North Country.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

One of Albany’s so-called “three men in a room” is touring upstate New York to get a feel for the problems facing the area. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who along with State Senate Leader John Flanagan represent the legislature in budget negotiations with the governor, started his tour Tuesday in Syracuse

New York State Public Service Commission

The 315 area code region is going to be joined by a new area code.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator says 680 will be the new area code assigned to new phone numbers in the 315 area starting in 2017.

Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Syracuse) doesn’t think it’ll be a big deal for residents to get used to the new numbers.

“Most people are using cell phones now anyway, and you load in your most commonly used numbers with the area code, so I don’t think it will be that much of a big deal after a few months, everyone will get used to it,” said Stirpe.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The numbers of synthetic marijuana cases called into the Upstate New York Poison Center continues to be off the charts. Officials say there could be more than 800 by the end of the year if the cases don’t abate.

David Guo / Flickr

U.S Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he's worried about proposed legislation that would allow 84-foot-long trucks on highways. Schumer says the excessively long tandem trailer trucks are just too dangerous for the roads.

The Syracuse Nationals, billed as the biggest car show in the northeast, officially starts today. The Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau figures the Syracuse Nationals will bring between $10-13 million into Central New York. While that's a big economic impact for a weekend event, organizer Bob O'Connor says people tend to come early and stay longer.

Mike Saechang / Flickr

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) is hoping to stop illegal gun trafficking, in an attempt to prevent gun violence.  She has introduced bipartisan legislation that would make gun trafficking a federal crime and give law enforcement more power to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal network. 

“We’re talking about the easy access that a criminal has who can’t get a weapon if they go into a regular licensed gun dealer,” said Gillibrand.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a new park in the city of Syracuse. The new green space is part of a long term plan to revitalize the major corridor on the city’s south side.

The Sankofa Park on South Salina Street replaces an abandoned parking lot with greenery, benches, a sandbox, and a stage. Sankofa is a word that comes from the Akan language of Ghana, which means “reach back and get it.”

City of Syracuse

The president of Syracuse’s Police Benevolent Association is calling for more cops on the street, in the wake of a violent stretch in the city. Over the 4th of July weekend, 10 people were shot in a 24-hour span.

In a letter to the editor on Syracuse.com, PBA president Jeff Piedmonte suggests residents contact Mayor Stephanie Miner, urging her to hire 50 more police officers. Piedmonte says there are currently 417 police officers on the streets, the lowest number since the 1970s. He says that’s dangerously low, especially at a time of an uptick in crime.

Empire State Development

Its last call for anyone with ideas on how to use state dollars to transform the central New York economy as the Regional Development Council is looking to get all the input it can before applying to win some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s upstate revitalization money.

In a way, this round of economic competition, which pits upstate regions against each other to see who has the best ideas to grow local economies, has more at stake than past competitions.

G155 / Flickr

The Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of Central New York is going national.  

Pink Outside the Box is a 12-week fund raising campaign that will encourage supporters to raise money in unique ways with the funds helping researchers at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. 

One researcher, Dr. Debashis Ghosh, is hoping to use some of the money raised on a project that could prevent breast cancer.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The parking landscape is changing in the city of Syracuse. Part of it is due to technology, and part of it due to the resurgence of downtown as a destination.

On-street parking in downtown Syracuse has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the standalone silver parking meters waiting for change. Instead, visitors are now accustomed to the big brown pay stations that take cash or credit cards and spit out a receipt for the dashboard.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is ready to okay a second aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes that carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis near the Cicero swamp if the virus turns up again. County officials made the announcement in a woman’s backyard -- a woman who lived to tell the tale of EEE.

Denise Broton started feeling sick about this time last year, during a camping trip to the Adirondacks.

“You don’t survive EEE. I’m the first person in Onondaga County and the first person in the United States over the last 30 years, I guess, to have survived it,” Broton says.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

More than 100 men, women and children marched through an Eastside Syracuse neighborhood Monday night, determined to take back their community from a rash of violence that has marked this summer.  

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, there were 10 shootings in less than 24 hours. In addition, two people were killed, including a teenager.  

Members of the clergy can many times be on the front line in the fight against drug addictions. Ministers, rabbis and priests are often the first people who become aware of an addiction problem in an individual or family.

With that knowledge, SUNY Upstate has started offering the tools local clergy may need to deal with similar situations.

Darryl Banks, an elder at the Mt. Carmel Seventh Day Adventist Church on Syracuse’s south side, says sometimes it’s easier for him to hear a story of addiction than anyone else. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The village of Minoa is combining education with wastewater cleaning tactics at its wastewater treatment plant at it “Cleanwater Education and Research Facility.”

One of the wastewater issues facing communities today is the amount pharmaceuticals that end up in water that comes out of sewage treatment systems. There are concerns about possible effects on humans as well as fish and wildlife.

One way to get rid of the remnants of pharmaceuticals is through a biological wetland that acts as kind of filter, according to former Neil Murphy, former president of SUNY ESF. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says upstate New York is reaping the economic benefits of renewed attention from the Cuomo administration.  

Inficon, a company out of East Syracuse that makes scientific instrumentation, has been around for 25 years. And in that time, it’s quadrupled sales. So at this point, there were some tough decisions to be made according to the company’s president Peter Maier.

"It was time for us to either expand here, or somewhere else. Of course we prefer to do it here,” said Maier. “So it was a story of whether we could expand and where we could do that."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Media Company

    

The Upstate Cancer Center, in Syracuse, is expanding its mammography screening program, which focuses on residents who live in public housing.

The program, called She Matters, has spent the last year encouraging women over the age of 40 from Pioneer Homes, a predominately African-American housing complex in downtown Syracuse, to get the breast cancer detecting tests.  Since then, 88 women have received the tests, with one woman being diagnosed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Agriculture Council wants you to buy local produce. A campaign has kicked off this June to encourage more people to spend food dollars on items grown in Onondaga County.

Brian Reeves, of Reeves Farm in Baldwinsville, says getting people to buy local is in part a matter of getting the word out.

“Sometimes I think it’s a lack of information.  If a consumer knew more often that it was local or fresher they would prefer it,” Reeves says.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York State is investing millions into the state park system with some high profile Central New York parks jumping in on the funding.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Federal authorities are ratcheting up terror warnings across the country in advance of this Fourth of July holiday weekend.  

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are asking local law enforcement officials to be prepared for any potential terrorist activity. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says this alert reflects a new kind of radicalization.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University has joined the ranks of college campuses that are now smoke free.

The ban goes in effect this month.  Work crews dismantled all of the cigarette butt receptacles and signs went up alerting anyone to the new policy, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes,  and chewing tobacco.  

Gail Grozalis, executive director of the University Wellness Initiative, says vaping is also on the list.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A Syracuse man, who was being a good Samaritan, is believed to have drowned after a freak accident during Tuesday night’s torrential rains.

Authorities believe 28-year old Brandon Closure was swept away into the city’s storm sewer system, after he accidentally stepped into an open manhole blown open by surging rain water. He was trying to help a disabled motorist at the corner of Croly and East Fayette Streets on Syracuse’s eastside.  

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