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 News

Following more than 15 years of federal and local lobbying efforts, the Harriet Tubman properties in Auburn have been established as a national historic park. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some central New Yorkers are urging Congress to reject some of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks. They brought their message to the Federal Building during a protest in Syracuse Monday. 

Syracuse physician Marianna Kaufman is part of the newly formed CNY Solidarity coalition. She says that group is particularly against four Trump nominees they call climate change deniers.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brings his State of the State speech across the state this week, with a scheduled stop in Syracuse on Wednesday. He’s expected to use these speeches to outline his agenda for the year, as well as announce local programs and initiatives. But while Cuomo is promoting his agenda, one Senate Republican has ideas of his own.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse’s burgeoning refugee population has prompted one local hospital to invest in new technology that will allow access to a translator in less than 60 seconds.

You’ll find these rolling translators  in several departments at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse; they are basically an iPad, wired to a small gray speaker, attached to a cart on wheels. One touch to the iPad, and you hear something like:

"Thank you for calling LanguageLine Solutions, this is Alton, ID number 249063. I’ll be your Spanish interpreter today.”

Consensus CNY

It’s been almost a year since the Consensus CNY creleased more than 50 recommendations for modernizing government in Onondaga County. After months of meetings and public forums early last year, the volunteer group has yet to release a final report, and one local legislative leader says whenever it finally comes out, central New Yorkers won’t see big changes anytime soon.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci is being considered for a job in the Trump administration. The Republican says he was approached by members of the Trump transition team to consider a job as the U.S. attorney for New York’s Northern District.

It’s a job in the past that generally goes to someone with experience as a prosecutor. Antonacci is a civil attorney, but says it’s more than the experience in the courtroom that counts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to take his yearly State of the State address on the road this year, instead of delivering the speech to lawmakers in Albany. That is not sitting well with Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse).

DeFrancisco says traditionally the message is supposed to be given the first full day of the legislative session, which this year would be January 4. Cuomo, though, won’t be offering his view of how New York State is faring to lawmakers that day. Instead he’s taking the legislative message to six regions across the state, starting Jan. 9.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

When Sen. Charles Schumer becomes Senate minority leader January 3, he will be one of the most powerful Democrats in the nation, at a time when the party is the weakest it’s been since the Great Depression. But the New Yorker says he has a plan to pull the party back into power.

Schumer doesn’t mince any words when it comes to rehashing Democratic losses on Election Day.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Politically, central New York will have something new when it comes to Congressional representation this year. For the first time in a decade, the 24th District, which represents Syracuse and surrounding areas, will have someone other than a freshman member of Congress representing it.

WRVO Public Media

In 2017, Republicans will have control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House. But one central New York Republican is warning his party not to get too cocky.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) says the GOP needs to learn a lesson from the Obama administration.

"I think Obama overreached with a Democratic House, Senate and White House in his first two years in office. And he overreached with Obamacare and Dodd-Frank and some other things,” said Katko, referring to the financial regulation law more commonly known as Dodd-Frank.

Thomas Marthisen / Flickr

The number of heroin-related overdoses continues to rise in upstate, including in central New York. Now one agency that helps addicts is putting more emphasis on a harm-reduction technique called a “test shot.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An $8 million renovation of Onondaga County’s Central Library in downtown Syracuse wrapped up this month. And the facility on South Salina Street has now become more than a place to get books.

A caregiver sits nearby, as three toddlers tumble through a giant penned-in play area on the second floor of the Central Library. There are books galore spread out through the brightly colored space, but also places for kids to stretch their imagination -- a pretend grocery store, a train table, a stage.

Courtesy Tom Dadey

Central New York is closely watching how President-elect Donald Trump is molding his administration, and now has one central New Yorker with a seat at the table.

Onondaga County Republican Party Chair Tom Dadey was named to Trump’s transition team last week. He was an early supporter of Trump, and ultimately became the co-chair of Trump’s New York state campaign. He says the transition appointment puts him in the position of helping fill thousands of lower level jobs in the Trump administration.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is encouraging central New Yorkers to come together regarding a plan for the future of Interstate 81 through Syracuse. The Democrat says he’s ready to work with President-elect Donald Trump on infrastructure, but he warns against a divided community.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A move toward federal legislation to create a cancer registry for firefighters is gaining more traction, and Onondaga County lawmakers are the latest to call for a registry.

The county legislature is throwing its support behind creation of a federal list that would keep track of firefighters who get cancer. There has already been research that shows a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of several cancers. Syracuse firefighter Mike Valenti has been fighting for this registry for three years, as he continues to watch colleagues die.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

About 2,700 families, which include 6,400 children lined up for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau distribution day in downtown Syracuse Monday. Pre-registered low-income families received toys, books and a food basket to help families get through the holiday season. And more and more, the families filing through the OnCenter are from central New York’s growing refugee community.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers on Tuesday will ask the state to consider eliminating tolls for local travelers on the New York State Thruway.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner heads to Albany Monday, one of 29 New York state electors who have pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, when the Electoral College meets to validate the November presidential election. And the vote is taking place under the shadow of potential Russian influence on the election.

Miner and several other mostly Democratic electors demanded an intelligence briefing regarding potential Russian meddling in the November presidential election.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s some personnel shuffling going on in the higher echelons of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s lame duck administration.

The new man in city hall will be former Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey. He’s coming out of retirement to become Miner’s top legal advisor, as corporation counsel, and expects to weigh in on a number of things.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Thousands of people all over the world are condemning the reported massacre of civilians in Aleppo, Syria, as a cease-fire in the eastern part of the besieged city seems to have fallen apart. And some central New Yorkers are among those raising their voice.

Sidsel Overgaard / WRVO News File Photo

Lyme disease continues to plague certain areas of central New York, and a special committee created by Onondaga County is hoping to help.

Dave Skeval, the chair of the Onondaga County Deer and Management Advisory Committee, says the goal is to reduce human’s exposure to the tick that carries the disease. That tick is often found on white-tailed deer.

"I’m looking forward to fewer people being exposed to Lyme disease and contracting Lyme disease, because it is a hideous disease, and if you contract it and it has not been diagnosed, it will ruin your life,” said Skeval.

New York State Senate

One central New York state lawmaker doesn’t want to go into special session in Albany this month to vote on legislative pay raises, at least the way it’s being discussed now.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) says he’s opposed to voting on any kind of legislative package that links a potential pay raise to some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pet proposals.

"If there’s a proposal for a legislative pay raise tied into anything else, to me, that’s a perfect example of pay to play,” said DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New Yorkers have one last chance to offer their opinions about the future of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. But the forum being held Wednesday night is not an event put on by the people making the decision.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt was once a major holiday shopping destination. But in recent years, more and more stores have moved out, leaving a shell of a building. And it doesn’t look like things will be changing soon.

Onondaga Community College / Facebook

Onondaga Community College is rolling out a program that will offer free tuition to students in two central New York school districts.

The OCC Advantage  is based on a similar program at Harper College near Chicago, according to OCC’s Amy Kremenek.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a new restaurant opening up in Syracuse -- but it’s a little different. It’s a teaching restaurant for Onondaga Community College, which will alternate world or regional cuisines every six months.

First up -- Pakistani food. Sarah Robin, an immigrant from Pakistan who now lives in Syracuse, is the restaurateur in residence who will be running the North Salina Street restaurant called “With Love” for the next six months.

David Rodriguez Martin / via Flickr

A 50-mile drone corridor from Rome to Syracuse will be the center of the burgeoning unmanned aircraft systems industry in central New York. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The era of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants and Motor Lodges is long gone. But a vestige of the one of the largest hospitality chains in the country remained for years in central New York, on Carrier Circle in DeWitt. Now, after years of negotiation, a deal has been struck that allows access to the property, so the iconic orange roof has finally come down.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The next piece to the revitalization of the downtown Syracuse area home to the former Hotel Syracuse will soon be in place. Developers and the city of Syracuse have struck a tax deal that will lead to a Hyatt Hotel, across the street from the Marriott Downtown Syracuse.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is wrapping up a restoration of the historic New York Central Railroad station platform along Interstate 690 in Syracuse. And that also means several ghost-like fiberglass statues will again take up their station, waiting for a train that never comes.

A couple of nuns, a soldier, a luggage handler and members of a northside family are once again waiting for the night train along Interstate 690 in Syracuse.

Duke Epolito, the Syracuse sculptor who created the series of bright white statues, installed them on the platform 35 years ago.

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