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

The Syracuse area’s Gang Violence Task Force has been able to make a dent in some of the city’s gang activity this summer with its most recent crackdown on gangs.

There are 17 distinct criminal gangs spread out among several Syracuse neighborhoods, according to the Gang Violence Task Force. With names like Bricktown, Elk Block and the Northside Bloods, officials they are the source of much of the crime in the city.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

The developers of the former Hotel Syracuse are looking for a little help from city lawmakers, as they continue to redevelop the historic landmark.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority has the first full year under its belt running the Hancock International Airport in Syracuse. Its annual report shows signs of success after the airport transitioned from being run by the city to being run by an independent authority.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A lack of email access still dogs some Syracuse Common Councilors. A dispute over a computer use policy continues, although negotiations between city hall and lawmakers could bring the story to a close.

Save Our Canal Trail

A paving project underway along a four-and-a-half mile section of the Erie Canalway from DeWitt to Manlius is getting some flak from the public.

While the project was officially announced a week ago, some local residents didn’t realize what was happening until equipment moved in this week to prepare the path for asphalt. And from that sprung a Facebook page called Save Our Canal Trail, a grassroots movement to oppose the paving, spearheaded by Ed Griffin, owner of the running store Fleet Feet. He says a hard asphalt surface is not good for runners or walkers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some Ithaca residents are starting a grass roots effort to get products that contain microbeads banned in Tompkins County.  

A group called Plastic Tides has been trying to raise awareness about plastic pollution for three years. The effort has involved some statewide research last year that showed 70 percent of water samples including Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, the Erie Canal and Mohawk River, contained microbeads.  

kristen_a / Flickr

There will be a new representative in the 128th Assembly District in central New York next year. And that lawmaker could be determined in Thursday's primary election.

The 128th has been gerrymandered into a far-flung district that serves Syracuse's inner city, the university area, the Onondaga Nation, farm country in southern Onondaga County, as well as suburban Dewitt, Mattydale and Liverpool. It’s been reliably represented by Democrats for years, most recently by Assemblyman Sam Roberts, who left for a job in the Cuomo administration.  

Coalition for Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary

Officials from a portion of Lake Ontario that borders from Jefferson County down through Wayne County want that portion of the lake to become a national marine sanctuary. The coalition of activists and government leaders from four counties are applying for the federal designation that would put it in the same category as places like the Florida Keys.

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.