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

Congress Beer is coming back to Syracuse.

The Haeberle Congress Brewing Company brewed its last batch of Congress in Syracuse in 1962. It had been the longest continuous brewery in Syracuse, but brewing times changed according to Onondaga Historical Association Executive Director Greg Tripoli.

“The local brewers just couldn’t compete with big brewers with refrigerated trucks for shipping. So this was really the end of the small brewers at that time,” said Tripoli.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hearings begin next month in New York to get input on whether the state should eliminate the tip credit, which allows tipped workers to be paid a lower wage as long as they make the full minimum wage if tips are included. 

But the organization that represents the state’s restaurant owners is building support against the idea.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says reevaluating the tipped wage is a question of compensating servers more fairly. Vanessa Littles who serves patrons at Joey’s, a well-known Italian restaurant in Syracuse, doesn’t agree.

Onondaga Community College

Onondaga Community College is working with local manufacturers on a program that will offer training that will lead to apprenticeships and jobs - and individuals will be paid while they learn.

elevatingerie.com

New York state has released a concept plan that closes the gap in the Erie Canalway Trail System between Camillus and DeWitt. It would extend the recreation trail through an urban area.

From the start, bridging the 14-mile gap has been the most challenging part of creating a seamless trail that closely follows the path of the Erie Canal.

"This segment of the trail goes through the most heavily urbanized areas of Onondaga County," said Town of DeWitt planner Sam Gordon.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse City School District is facing a $24 million deficit in it’s 2018-2019 budget. It hopes to close the gap using savings and more funds from the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham hopes a new program offering reconciliation and compensation to victims of clergy abuse can move the church past a scandal that has dogged it for years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The Syracuse diocese of the Roman Catholic Church is establishing a reconciliation program for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

Bishop Robert Cunningham announced the voluntary program Wednesday. It’s aimed at promoting reconciliation and healing, and possibly compensation, for those who have been harmed by members of the diocese’s clergy.

In announcing the program, Cunningham admitted the church will never fully make amends for the harm caused by the church.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for governor last week. That leaves one fewer obstacle for gubernatorial hopeful John DeFrancisco, but he’s not ready to take on the mantle of front runner yet.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is opening up data it collects about snow removal to the public and is hoping it can lead to smarter ways to clear city streets after a snowstorm. 

The city is partnering with AT&T and Syracuse University’s iSchool for a hackathon called Plowing Through the Data.

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney have voiced that collaboration between city and county governments is close at hand.

After being in office just over a month, Walsh said cooperation between governments is one of the key elements of his Syracuse Rising agenda.  In his state of the city speech, he said work has already started finding ways the city can collaborate with Onondaga County.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will reconsider a proposed law that would punish people who leave their pets outside in sub-freezing weather conditions for a certain amount of time. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

New lawmakers on Syracuse’s Common Council are trying to tackle problems with rental properties by starting up an interior inspection program of the city’s one- and two-family rental properties.

Councilor At-Large Khalid Bey tried to enact changes in the city’s Rental Registry two years ago, but fierce pressure from landlords stopped the bill in its tracks. Bey said he hopes that new lawmakers will be more receptive to the idea.

health.ny.gov

The number of people testing positive for the flu this winter has been rising rapidly in New York State and central New York. According to the state health department, more than 11,000 thousand cases of the flu were confirmed in the state during the week ending January 27, a 50 percent increase from the week before. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Resources for families with young children can be scarce, from diapers to milk. Often, there is no government assistance to help struggling families with these necessities. But there are grassroots organizations that step up at the local level to help new families. 

Allison Brooks of the Salvation Army in Syracuse said the need for diapers hit home for her a few years ago when she was working at a food pantry.

A relic from the Matt Driscoll mayoral administration in Syracuse is going by the wayside as Mayor Ben Walsh institutes new ways of making government more accountable.

The city of Syracuse started using SyraStat in 2002. At the time, the program was meant to analyze performance of city departments by the numbers and find savings. There is even a SyraStat room near the mayor’s office.

City of Syracuse

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh placed the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct at the center of his first State of the City speech Wednesday night.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A third Republican candidate has announced his intention to run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco said he thinks it’s time for a change.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new study shows that doctors may have more time than previously thought to successfully treat someone who has had a stroke. Doctors at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse see this as a new era in stroke treatment.

During a stroke, brain cells that are cut off from blood flow will ultimately die, which is why physicians urge anyone with stroke symptoms to get treatment within six hours, to effectively remove a stroke-causing blood clot. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New statewide rules for distribution of Naloxone is affecting one central New York agency that trains people to use the drug, also known as Narcan.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County filed a lawsuit in federal court Tuesday against pharmaceutical companies and others for their part in the continuing opioid crisis.

The county is accusing drug companies and distributors of painkillers made from opioids of downplaying the risks of those kinds of drugs that have fueled a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction. Onondaga County in particular has been hit hard by the epidemic, with the number of opioid-related deaths tripling since 2012. 

County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the county bears a cost from this suffering on a couple of fronts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors unanimously selected Democrat Michael Greene to fill an empty at-large seat left open by Helen Hudson after she was elected council president. Lawmakers say Greene had the best grasp of council issues out of three finalists.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) will most likely face a competitive election this year for the first time since 2010.

Rachel May, an administrator at Syracuse University, is running against him in the Democratic Party primary. She has been leading opposition to Valesky in recent months because of his affiliation with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that shares power with Republicans in the State Senate.

Alan Light / Flickr

The town of DeWitt has started a program to reduce the number of deer that roam throughout the town. Residents may see an immediate reduction in the number of deer after this winter’s deer cull, but it’s a strategy that will take several years.

A 2 1/2 month deer cull has started with sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture putting down bait to attract the deer in targeted areas of the town. DeWitt Sustainability Coordinator Christine Manchester says residents in areas where deer are being culled shouldn’t be aware of it happening.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

In a climate where stories of sexual harassment continue to unfold across the country in many different sectors, Syracuse University has announced it will reassess its policy governing sexual relations.

SU Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the initiative Tuesday at his annual winter message to the university community. He wants to make sure the rules are clear about sexual relationships between faculty and students, as well as students with each other.

The Central New York Community Foundation

The Central New York Community Foundation recently awarded a $24,000 grant to the Positivity Project to expand it’s character education training programs in the Syracuse City School District. The goal of the program, which is in 44 schools throughout central New York, is teaching children how to be positive people.

Brett Woodcock, principal of Liverpool’s Morgan Road Elementary School, says if you ask any of the kids in his school, they will be able to tell you their top character strengths. So we asked fourth grader Makenna Metrick.

Economic forecasters expect central New York to continue the slow but steady growth seen in the past few years. While that growth should continue, there are potential roadblocks keeping the region from reaching the robust growth found in other parts of the country.

M&T Bank Regional Economist Gary Keith says the future of central New York’s economy hinges on the workforce.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Central New York economic development boosters are hoping some positive trends from 2017 continue this year. One that CenterState CEO director Rob Simpson expects to hold course in 2018 is a change in something that’s plagued the area for years: brain drain.

"We have seen the latest census department estimates that the population 18-25 in central New York is actually growing at a more rapid rate than we’ve seen in recent memory," Simpson said. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Common Councilors are getting behind a statewide initiative meant to raise awareness about local substance abuse services. The idea behind “United to Fight It: Preventing Substance Abuse” is to get community leaders together with substance abuse coalitions and plaster the community with the information that can help anyone in the midst of addiction get well.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The Green Party in New York offered up its own State of State address last week, with a series of ideas the party says will push the state forward.

Howie Hawkins, a two-time gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party, says there are things his party liked in Gov. Cuomo’s list of 2018 legislative priorities, but there's not enough to pull them on board.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

One Central New York non-profit organization is concerned about how horses are faring during this cold snap.

Rescue horses munch on carrots in the huge barn that’s part of The Haven at Skanda, an organization in Cazanovia that cares for rescue horses and farm animals. Executive Director Ellen Beckerman says horses will need extra protection this winter.

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