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

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

You can literally check out internet access at a few select libraries in central New York starting this month. The Central New York Library Resources Council is behind a laptop lending program.

Gabreiella Jackson spends a lot of time using computers at the White Branch Library on Syracuse’s Northside, because she doesn’t have access to the Internet at her home. So she expects to be one of the library patrons who will be able to check out a laptop and 4G wireless device as part of the CNYFi program. And Jackson things she could put it to good use.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Start-Up NY is getting good grades from SUNY. Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says it’s taken a while, but the program is taking off on several state university campuses.

Zimpher says she didn’t expect Start-Up NY, which offers new businesses 10-year tax breaks if they set up shop on or near a college campus, to become a massive success out of the gate. But now that it’s had more than a year-and-a-half under its belt, she says new businesses with jobs in tow have settled into several SUNY campuses.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Country music star Miranda Lambert played to a full house at Onondaga County’s new Lakeview Amphitheater Thursday night. Now that the stage has its first concert under its belt, what does the future holds for the entertainment venue?

First off, it’s going to be intimately intertwined with the New York State Fair. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that clear this week when he outlined specifics regarding a $50 million renovation of the town of Geddes fairgrounds. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater comes to life tonight for the first time, when country star Miranda Lambert takes the stage. Many in the community hail the entertainment venue, along the shores of Onondaga Lake, as an economic engine for years to come. But there are still environmental concerns from one front, about the choice to build a stage on top of 80 feet of industrial waste beds. 

"We’re very concerned that we have lost a chance to clean up next to the lake,” said Joe Heath, who has been the attorney for the Onondaga Nation for more than three decades.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made his yearly visit to the New York State Fair yesterday. Between the sausage sandwiches and glad-handing, the Democrat made one stop that was profoundly personal.

It was just in front of the International Building that Cuomo, flanked by politicians, security and the media, heard the voice of Judy Rice of North Syracuse.

"How’s your girlfriend?” shouted out Rice.

“She’s doing better, thanks for asking,” replied Cuomo

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought some more specifics about the upcoming $50 million renovation of the New York State Fair when he visited the Syracuse fairgrounds Tuesday.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY’s latest strategy to try and help students graduate on time with less debt is a guarantee that credits will be transferred from one school to another

SUNY students begin the academic season this year with a promise from the state: they can transfer any general education requirements as well as some discipline-specific courses from one school to another in what Chancellor Nancy Zimpher calls the “guaranteed seamless transfer of credits.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Politicians are a familiar sight at the New York State Fair. But it’s mostly central New York or statewide representatives that show up -- usually for an event, or the traditional eating of a hot sausage sandwich. But this year, the state’s new speaker decided to bring a downstate delegation to take in the fair.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It may have been the most momentous sausage sandwich moment at the New York State Fair since Senate candidate Rick Lazio refused to eat the state fair staple the year he ran against Hillary Clinton. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul bought a sandwich for one of the protesting teachers trailing her on the fairgrounds opening day Thursday.

Dozens of educators dogged Hochul around the fairgrounds yesterday chanting and repeating many of the concerns they’ve had about the Cuomo administration’s education policy for years now. And communication seems to be a big part of the dispute.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is among many communities across the country supporting the effort to “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive.”  A new temporary display at the War Memorial in Syracuse is meant to preserve the legacy of those who fought during World War II.

Ninety-year-old Ed Zaluski remembers the battle of Iwo Jima like it was yesterday.

“Feb. 19, 1945,  normally is we had to bail out, we would fly at  15,000 feet but in this case, because of tunnels and the holes and everything else, we had to be accurate and you had to fly at 5,000 feet,” Zaluski says.


One of the biggest changes at the New York State Fair this year involves something everyone visiting the exposition will have to deal with -- tickets. This year, the fair in Geddes has started selling some tickets electronically.

Selling tickets at the state Fair hasn’t changed much over the years: you need a paper ticket to get through the turnstiles on any given day of the 12-day fair. And to figure out attendance, the fair counts them by hand, according to interim director Troy Waffner.

Lisa Ann Rogers / Flickr

Le Moyne College and Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) are making it easier to get an accelerated degree with the expansion of their successful fast track program.

With college costs skyrocketing anytime a student can cut down on the number of years they have to go to school the better. And that’s just what the fast track program currently does for students at Le Moyne’s Madden School of Business.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse police have announced another round of gang-related arrests. After multiple people were shot and two people were killed over the Fourth of July weekend, one of those homicides kicked an anti-crime program into action.

The Truce program in in the city of Syracuse is a community law enforcement collaboration meant to reduce gun violence. It’s triggered, or pushed into action, when gang members, responsible for much of the crime in the city, are involved in a homicide.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democratic candidates for Onondaga County Legislature are calling for tougher financial disclosures among elected officials and more accountability to the public. Among the four candidates proposing changes are Kevin Tees, running in the 14th District based in Clay, and Tim Rudd, running for the 15th District in Syracuse.

All four have listed five items they believe the county government can do differently.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There are no issues too small for Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who is expected to become the next majority leader in the U.S. Senate. Schumer visited central New York Monday to put some heft behind the complaint one small town has against a big corporation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) will conduct a statewide internet lottery that offers a chance for New Yorkers to see Pope Francis when he comes to Washington D.C. this September.  

Schumer will offer a single ticket to the joint meeting of Congress with the pope, as well as 100 pairs of tickets to the papal audience on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Workers are putting the finishing touches on a couple of model rooms at the former Hotel Syracuse this week.

Most of the interior of hotel has been taken down to its studs as part of a $57 million dollar renovation. That includes floors two through nine which will be home to 261 rooms in the new Marriott Downtown Syracuse.  

Al Gough, chief financial officer for Hotel Syracuse Restoration, says it’s important to have these model rooms available well before the hotel opening, anticipated next spring.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County and its biggest union are close to agreeing to a contract. As WRVO’s Ellen Abbott reports, the county and CSEA leadership have agreed to the terms within a fact-finding report from the New York State Employment Relations Board.

The deal includes modest wage increases over five years, and raises health insurance contributions from employees. County Executive Joanie Mahoney says that reflects a changing trend in contracts for government employees, who traditionally were paid less than private sector counterparts, but had better benefits packages.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is urging the state to make changes in voting laws so it will be easier for people to go to the polls.  The mayor made her plea surrounded by several local lawmakers and candidates for office and says even she sometimes forgets its Election Day.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A program that provides a book a month to impoverished pre-schoolers in the city of Syracuse could be expanding. This comes after research that shows that the thousands of books that have been sent to 6,000 youngsters in the city have made a difference.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library program run by the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County has been sending books to children for five years now. And LeMoyne researcher Frank Ridzi says they have tested children who have been part of the program in that time and found success.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Designated AIDS Center at Upstate University Hospital has won a state grant that will expand treatment programs. 

The idea is to make sure people infected with the HIV virus continue treatment that keeps the virus at bay.

Program director Kelley Flood says they will target people who might not follow up on the care they need to corral the virus that can lead to AIDS.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New Yorkers who are opposed to the Iran nuclear deal are urging others who don’t agree with the policy to make some noise.  Randy Potter, of Syracuse, has been calling senators from across the country explaining his position and he wants others to do the same.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the $57 million renovation of the Hotel Syracuse continues, operators want the public to pass along stories and artifacts they may have about the historic building. The history of the hotel, which opened in 1924, is very much a part of the renovation that will turn it into a Marriot Downtown Syracuse.

And while the team renovating the hotel is asking people for their memories, they continue to find iconic items hidden behind years of remodeling. Because you never know what’s going to turn up as crews dismantle the Hotel Syracuse to its bare bones.

It doesn’t seem like central New York Republicans have settled in on any of the candidates looking for the GOP presidential nomination, at least so far. And last week’s Republican debate may have winnowed the field for some local political junkies, but only by a bit.


A central New York congressman, who has long supported Planned Parenthood, is calling for an investigation into the agency, in light of the videos showing Planned Parenthood officials apparently discussing how the group provides researchers body parts from aborted fetuses.   

Rep. Richard Hanna, the 22nd District representative, says the videos are disturbing.

“I’ve asked for an investigation into this, and I think Congress will do one.  My hope is that it’s deliberate, fair, thoughtful and inclusive.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Construction of a new cultural center at the old French fort along Onondaga Lake begins this week. The new Skä·noñh Great Law of Peace Center will take the place of the former Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois museum site. The new cultural center will tell the history of the Onondaga Nation, from their perspective.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A packed house at Syracuse City Hall last night told the New York State Public Service Commission that Syracuse and central New York needs more choice, better service and lower prices when for their cable and internet service. More than 100 people crammed into the Syracuse hearing, one over several being held across the state this summer.

Helen Dewey, runs a business strategy company on Syracuse’s near west side. But she told commissioners it’s a technical struggle.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) wants to raise awareness about Lyme disease. And he’s hoping some federal legislation can provide relief for victims of the tick borne ailment.

“I would doubt if anyone who hears this doesn’t know somebody affected by it,” said Hanna.

“It” is Lyme disease, a tick borne illness that is affecting more and more people across the country and in upstate New York. Hanna’s hoping that a bill called the 21 Century Cures Act, can make a dent into discovering the mysteries of Lyme disease.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

Onondaga County has the funds set aside that would create plans for a swimmable beach on Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney believes recent studies that have deemed parts of the lake is clean enough to swim in brings the reality of a beach closer.

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Officials continue to track the movement of the Emerald Ash Borer in Central New York.

Jessi Lyons of the Onondaga County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force says the parts of the Syracuse areas that are seeing the most activity right now are in transportation corridors.