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.
The battle raging over federal flood maps in Central New York hits a deadline today. The city of Syracuse will file a challenge to maps proposed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency which, if approved, would drive up flood insurance costs dramatically for homeowners in some of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has joined the fight to keep flood insurance bills from skyrocketing in one of Syracuse's poorest neighborhoods. The idea is to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, that their latest maps are flawed.
There were more than 400 accidents in road and bridge construction work zones last year in New York state, five of them fatal. The state is hoping to pare down that number this year by asking motorists to slow down in work zones.
New York state is hoping that a new way to join the state's organ donor registry online will mean a longer list of potential donors. Central New Yorkers, who have had to make decisions about organ donations, are encouraging New Yorkers to log on.
Republican Presidential primary politics comes to New York state Tuesday. It's the first of three different primary days across the state this year. Election officials worry that all these primary days will end up confusing voters.
Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped in Syracuse Wednesday, fresh off the passage of the second straight on time budget under his administration. Cuomo called the $132.6 billion budget part of a series of actions that will transform New York State.
The Central New York SPCA is bracing for an influx of cats. Officials estimate more than 200 cats and kittens will be dropped off at the center in the next two and a half months. Spring is the time of year cats begin breeding and this year’s early warm weather is causing animal shelters to prepare ahead of schedule.
When state lawmakers approved the budget this week, they restored a program that's vital to many senior citizens. Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage, known as EPIC, helps low and moderate income seniors with co-pays for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare Part-D. When it was defunded last year, seniors were forced to pay 25% of the costs of prescriptions. This made necessary prescriptions unaffordable for some.
Pharmacists at drug stores like the Gifford and West Pharmacy in Syracuse ran into a lot of problems when EPIC stopped helping seniors pay for prescription drugs. Gifford pharmacist Jim McLaughlin encountered many patients who had high co-pays and were forced to pay.
"It ends up costing more. Patients go without their medications and their symptoms start to come back, or they end up being hospitalized," McLaughlin said.
Flu season is peaking this week in Onondaga county, a month behind schedule. This year's flu bug is a particularly mild one. According to federal figures, this year reports the fewest cases since the 80s.
"I think that we're peaking now, which is a late peak, but our numbers were still going up as of last week... but very, very low numbers, not anything I'm concerned about," Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow said. "But it is not over yet."
Morrow tracks flu numbers every year. She says that the mild winter could have something to do with lower numbers.
Innovative programs from eight Central New York SUNY Schools were on display in Syracuse Monday. It was part of the "Power of SUNY Regional Showcase", that let schools from across the area share projects.
Back in the 1950s, the height of technology in libraries was explained in this piece produced by the Brooklyn Public Library, "Another eye opener was the central registration department. here they have the most modern equipment. There are have swivel chairs gliding along tracks, sweeping clerks from one end of the files to another."
The redistricting process in New York State is in the home stretch. A second round of hearings finishes up this week after the release of legislative district lines that many called political attempts to keep incumbents in office.
CenterState CEO in Syracuse is trying to get more companies in Central New York to do business outside the area. Syracuse is one of four metropolitan areas in the U-S that are working with the Brookings Institution to increase exports over the next five years. As part of two initiatives, they are asking local business for data about their exports, and encouraging them to look at more business opportunities outside the area.
The records of outpatients at Upstate University Hospital are entering a new digital world. The hospital has started installing a new electronic medical records program that will among other things, allow patients to access all their medical records on their computers or smartphones. Hospital President Dr. David Smith says this is a transformational moment in medicine.
As New York State tries to dig out of a two million dollar deficit, ARISE Executive Director Tom McKown has an idea. Privatize many of the services currently done by government workers. He says groups like ARISE, which serves the disabled population in Central New York, and other non-profits can fill the gap if government went out of business.
Look for more steady modest growth in the Central New York economy in the coming year. According to numbers crunched by CenterState C-E-O, 2011 was a reasonably strong year for local businesses, with the economy growing slightly faster than the national average. The downside though was that the number of jobs created still lagged when compared to the national economy. Gary Keith, Regional economist for M&T Bank, thinks that could change this year.
The Occupy Syracuse encampment has 8:00am this morning to clear out of Perseverance Park in Downtown Syracuse because of public safety concerns over the use of propane and other heating devices. Occupiers like John Gray believe City Hall wants them gone for other reasons.
"They want to shut us down because Stephanie Miner runs on rich people," said Gray. "You run a campaign, you run a campaign run by rich folks. She's having a dinner in a few days where someone has to pay $1,000 to have cocktails with her. That's a problem."
A big step towards keeping the Air One Helicopter in the skies of Central New York has been taken. The Onondaga County Sheriff's Department has won the federal approval to charge insurance companies for medical transports.