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

As the summer travel season revs up, the Transportation Security Administration asks travelers to do their part to keep things running smoothly. And that includes the travelers that board planes at Hancock International Airport.

According to Syracuse Regional Airport authority figures, July and August is the time of the year when the most flights arrive and depart at the airport. TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says that means travelers must plan on a little extra time.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The ride hailing era in upstate has begun. Central New Yorkers began using Uber or Lyft to snag a ride Thursday.

Uber, the bigger of the two ride hailing operations, came to Syracuse to offer an example of how the app based ride hailing system works. Uber spokesman Sean Connor hailed a car in Armory Square.

“One of the great things about the app, it tells me the make, model and driver, so I get into the right car -- which is important,” Connor said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Tensions between union leadership in the Syracuse Fire Department and Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration have reached a boiling point.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing what she calls a government redesign package, which would create term limits, and clarify salaries and outside income rules for elected officials in Onondaga County government.

Rescue Mission

The Syracuse Rescue Mission dealt with another surge of drug overdoses from synthetic marijuana in late May. It wasn’t the first time more than a dozen individuals overdosed on or near the Rescue Mission campus in one day, and it most likely won’t be the last. But it’s an added stress to an agency that’s trying to help homeless individuals get back on their feet.

Rescue Mission CEO Alan Thornton says these overdose surges generally happens when a bad batch of synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, turns up in the neighborhood.

Onondaga County

The Lakeview Amphitheater begins it’s second season this weekend, with a sold out Zac Brown Band concert on Saturday and Bob Dylan playing Sunday. There will be a few more amenities for concert-goers this year, as work continues on the venue.

For the first time, concert-goers will be able to arrive at the amphitheater by boat. A 25-slip dock now juts into Onondaga Lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport is preparing for the era of ride-hailing services that’s about to descend on upstate New York.

Starting June 29, travelers will be able to use ride hailing apps to get around town. One of the major requests is expected to include rides back and forth to the Syracuse airport. To that end, airport commissioner Christina Callahan says the airport is working with the two big players in the ride-hailing world, Lyft and Uber.

David Stone / Flickr

Residents in some eastside Syracuse neighborhoods and the town of DeWitt agree that something should be done about a burgeoning deer population. Those are the findings of a survey conducted by Assemblywoman Pam Hunter.

The next step is finding out just how many deer are out there, and what can be done to put a dent in the herd. Research wildlife biologist Brian Underwood says it starts by counting deer in some neighborhoods in the eastside of Syracuse, and going on from there.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank celebrated its fifth birthday this week with a bus trip to show off some of it’s success stories.  

Land bank officials and others visited demolition sights, a community garden and renovated rental housing, like Sam Reppi’s conversion of a dilapidated building on Burnet Avenue into apartments and a storefront business.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that he hopes makes it easier to stop the importation and distribution of synthetic drugs.

One of the nagging problems facing law enforcement as it fights the synthetic drug epidemic is the time it takes to make a particular drug illegal. It takes years to get on the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule A list of banned substances, and by then, dealers have tweaked the chemical compound enough to avoid arrest and prosecution.

Oswego County Health Department / File Photo

This spring's wet weather could make the blue-green algae problem worse later this summer.

It’s no secret that this has been a tremendously rainy spring, according to SUNY ESF biochemistry professor Greg Boyer. And that could set the stage for big algae blooms later this summer. Blooms rely on nitrogen and phosphorus that run into the lake, combined with hot and calm sunny days.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The residential growth in downtown Syracuse shows no sign of slowing down, with the newest property almost filled.

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield moved it’s offices to the suburbs in 2008, it left a gaping hole in downtown Syracuse. The Warren Street complex actually is made up of four buildings, and that’s what Graziano Zazzara has repurposed into dozens of luxury apartments.

"We opened up four months ago, started renting apartments, and we have one left out of 89," Zazzara said. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The impact of the more than a billion dollars the state has invested for economic development in central New York should be kicking in soon, according to state officials.

Syracuse University photo by Stephen Sartori

A study of the central New York labor market finds a disconnect between people looking for jobs and organizations trying to hire.

The non-profit Onondaga Citizens League conducted a year-long study of the employment picture in the region, called ““How CNY Works.” The report includes some positive statistics – like the fastest-growing occupation (computer and information research scientists), and the industries with the most growth (management of companies and enterprises).

Tony Alter / Flickr

The city of Syracuse is looking for public input regarding a new proposed telecommunications ordinance. It could mean stronger cell phone connections for certain customers.

Central New York Regional Economic Development Council / File

Plans for creating an inland cargo port in the central New York remain in limbo. The proposal for an inland port was part of an Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant , that the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council won in 2015.

When New York state approved a multi-billion dollar bailout for upstate nuclear power plants last year, it breathed life back into an Onondaga Community College program that trains nuclear power plant technicians.

Cornell University

According to Cornell University researchers, the black bear population is growing in parts of New York state. Scientists are continuing to track the black bear numbers, and hope to get some help from the public going forward.

Black bears are encountering humans in upstate New York now more than ever, according to Cornell doctoral student Catherine Sun. She says research published earlier this year shows bear population expanding from traditional ranges in the Southern Tier.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A report released Thursday chronicles the issues facing undocumented workers at dairy farms across Upstate New York. The study contends that growth of the dairy industry in New York state in recent years has been achieved on the backs of immigrant farm workers who have few labor rights.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Municipalities in Onondaga County are taking the first step to creating a shared services plan. It’s part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to face governments to work together in order to to save taxpayer dollars. The state is requiring all counties to come up with a plan with their local governments.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney called a meeting of supervisors and mayors from across Onondaga County to outline a timetable for creating this county-wide plan for sharing services.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is expected to break ground this fall on a new environmental education center at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville – the second part of an almost $17 million upgrade of the busiest state park in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is in the midst of getting public input for its version of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That federal legislation, also known as ESSA, is what is following the No Child Left Behind law. The state is conducting 13 public hearings to get feedback on a proposal that lets states have more leeway as they develop education priorities.

Among other things, New York’s draft ESSA plan takes some of the emphasis on math and English language arts and spreads it to science and social studies. That makes social studies teachers kuje Nick Stamoulacatos happy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s been two years since the state announced a goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020. Achieving that goal is on the horizon, according to one local health agency.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The emergency room at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse is on alert after a rash of overdose cases involving synthetic marijuana in recent days

On May 24, there were 11 cases in the ER of people overdosing on synthetic pot, which is also known as spike or spice. The next day there were five more overdoses, and reportedly more in following days.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

This year’s soggy spring has farmers in central New York scrambling. Many farms are two weeks behind in their planting schedules.

On a clear day, there’s quite a vista from farmer Dan Palladino’s hilltop farm in the town of Pompey.

"You can see all the way to Sodus, and Chimney Bluffs there. Over there is Oneida Lake, and over there are the foothills of the Adirondacks, and you can see Canastota," Palladino said, describing the view.

But there haven’t been too many of those clear days this rain-soaked spring. And it’s messing up more than the view.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Medical students graduating from SUNY Upstate Medical University this spring now move to their residencies, with the goal of someday becoming a physician. Some have made a promise to keep in mind the most needy patients once they start practicing.

Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income adults and children, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Reimbursement rates are historically low, and some estimates say one-third of all physicians don’t accept Medicaid patients because of that. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s only a little more than a week left for the public to weigh in on plans to restore wildlife and recreation on Onondaga Lake. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will then put together a final plan for the lake.

Ellen Abbott

Researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Penn State have come up with a way to tell whether a child has suffered a concussion, and how severe it is. And all it takes is a swab of saliva.

More than 2 million children and teens suffer from concussions every year. And there are not a lot of clinically proven methods to diagnose the severity of these head injuries, or the children’s prognosis. That could be changing, after researchers identified an accurate biomarker that can be used as a diagnostic tool.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue asking for input into a series of restoration projects for Onondaga Lake, one group of central New Yorkers feels left out. Some southside Syracuse residents want officials to take into account a problem that’s plagued them for years -- a muddy, inaccessible Onondaga Creek.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Monday night, 130 people were allowed in to what Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) labeled a town hall event, televised live by CNY Central’s NBC3/CBS5 television stations last night. 

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