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 controversial math and English language tests for children in grades 3-8 begin in public schools across New York state today. Opposition to the tests has been quieter this year, but still simmers among parents and educators in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The Syracuse for Sanders campaign is shifting into high gear as the April 19 New York presidential primary approaches. And, volunteers are doing it on a shoestring budget.

One of the way the Sanders campaign is trying to distance itself from Hillary Clinton, is by refusing so-called “big money” donations. The average contribution, according to the Sanders campaign, is $27. In central New York, that doesn’t leave a lot of cash for expensive billboards and TV ads. So the local campaign has turned to a cheaper form of advertising -- buses.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hillary Clinton is hoping that her eight years as a senator from New York state will help her win the presidential primary here April 19. In a campaign stop in Syracuse Friday, she convened a manufacturing roundtable, made up mostly of people she dealt with as senator.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ACR Health in Syracuse has opened a new clinic to provide health care for injection drug users. The agency hopes the facility can reach people who may feel alienated by the health care system.

Thirty-two-year old Jeremy Fiorino of Syracuse was the first patient at the clinic, which opened up this week. A heroin addict since 2012, he’s been clean now for 54 days.

"I had an abscess from when I was actively using, and I got some antibiotics, and they checked up on it,” said Fiorino.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Erie Canal Corridor in upstate New York is getting a boost from some federal dollars.

Federal funds from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor will go to 10 education and preservation projects from the Albany area to Buffalo. The $44,000 in grants will leverage an additional $165,000 in private funds to create teachers guides, murals, and historical markers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s a big week for sports fans around the region, as the Syracuse University men’s and women’s basketball teams are each headed to the Final Four this weekend. One of the ways fans like to show their support? Buying T-shirts.

Last week, sheriff’s deputies raided what they say is the biggest fentanyl mill they’ve seen in Onondga County, arresting six people and stopping the sale of an estimated 6,000 bags of fentanyl-laced heroin locally. The bust showcases how a drug that is often used for good, has been co-opted into the illegal drug scene.

Anyone ever involved in a car accident, or who has gone to the emergency room with a broken bone, may have heard of fentanyl. The synthetic opioid is a prescription medication, according to William Eggleston, a pharmacist inn the Upstate Poison Control Center.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Local police agencies have a new foe in the fight against opioid addiction -- the synthetic drug fentanyl. It started showing up on central New York streets just over a year ago. Fentanyl, mostly mixed with heroin, but sometimes on i’s own, being sold to opioid users. 

A think tank out of Albany has analyzed census data that show the number of New Yorkers has increased by 2.2 percent over the last five years, a jump of almost 418,000 people. But population growth in the New York City metro area makes up for the regional trend in upstate New York, where statistics show the area losing thousands of residents between 2010 and 2015.
 

St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center / Facebook

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is continuing to partner with smaller regional hospitals throughout upstate New York. The latest venture is a collaboration with Rome Memorial Hospital.

 

Rome Memorial will still operate as an independent, separately licensed hospital, with local control, but a new agreement allows patients in Rome to have access to technology and services from the much bigger hospital in Syracuse.

kristen_a / Flickr

There’s been an unprecedented surge in voter interest in next month’s presidential primary in New York State. Central New Yorkers are among the many that want to cast a ballot April 19.

The deadline for new voters to register in a political party and then be eligible to vote in New York’s presidential primary is Friday, March 25.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Standardized test season is approaching for students across New York state. State Education Department officials are hoping there won’t be a repeat of last year, when 20 percent of students statewide boycotted tests given to third to eighth graders. But the opt-out movement is still alive.

Jamie McNair of Opt Out CNY admits the state has made some changes in the standardized testing regimen in the wake of widespread parental concern over the tests in recent years. But he’s not terribly impressed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) says Tuesday's attacks in Brussels exposes security gaps at airports worldwide, and he says it’s an issue he’s been working on a while.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Farm Bureau is among the most vocal groups a proposed $15 dollar minimum wage in the state. They’re asking New Yorkers to put the pressure on state lawmakers who will decide whether to include the increase in the state budget.

 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The wraps are off the early design for a new Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse. The idea is to create a park with public art that draws people to the area on South Salina Street between Armory and Clinton Squares..

Jerry Van Eyck, of the New York design firm !melk, has been pondering Perseverance Park on South Salina Street for months now.

“It’s a space that’s the epicenter of downtown that is very underwhelmed and underwhelming, and we intend to change that,” said Van Eyck

Gregory Monroe / Flickr

The city of Syracuse is taking action in the wake of stories about lead in drinking water in some central New York schools. 

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city will be testing for lead in water in each of the city’s public schools to make sure no high lead levels are lurking that could harm children.

Satsuma61 / Flickr

The millennial generation will save us all, according to a couple of Le Moyne graduates who have authored books on the subject. The pair brought their perspective to Syracuse this week.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has become the target of political flak from both Democrats and Republicans in published reports this week. Miner, a Democrat, sees it as hyper partisanship run amok.

The first complaint comes from the central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL CIO. Leaders criticized the mayor for not publicly challenging fellow Syracusan and Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco for his opposition to the proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

During this election season, Syracuse political memorabilia collector Dick Woodworth is dusting off his mammoth collection of political pins, posters, buttons and coins. For those who wade through Woodworth’s collection, it can be like getting a history lesson.

Courtesy of the Onondaga Historical Association Collections

Work will start soon on the restoration of Gustav Stickley’s Syracuse home, one of the founders of the arts and crafts movement in this country. It will become a museum dedicated to the Stickley Craftsman design, with a twist.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The debate over increasing New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is hitting the streets in one small upstate New York community. Businesses in Seneca County are actively fighting the proposal.

There has been a resolution to a contract dispute between Onondaga County and its biggest union.

A majority of the 2,300 CSEA workers voted Thursday to approve the latest contract offer from Onondaga County. It follows months of negotiations between the two sides. During that time members voted down contracts offers three times and the union filed an improper labor practice charge against the county last month after the legislature voted to impose a three-year contract on workers 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There will be some life at the former Hotel Syracuse this weekend for the first time in over a decade. Hotel Developer Ed Riley is allowing the the St. Patrick’s parade committee to hold a couple of private events in the hotel’s lobby Friday and Saturday.

“This year it’s just very low key," Riley said. "It’s really for the parade and the parade committee to assist them with maybe raising some money and maybe making sure that continues on as a Syracuse tradition for many years.”  

Riley said the historic hotel is already booked a couple of days.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

One of the issues coming up in the discussion of raising New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is the effect on nonprofits across the state.  

The Elmcrest Children’s Center has been taking care of central New York’s most damaged children since 1845 -- youngsters with developmental disabilities, and emotional and mental health issues. Executive director Joseph Geglia says its future could be in peril if it's forced to increase employees pay to $15 dollars an hour. He estimates it would add an extra $2 million to his budget a year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage is taking center stage in this year’s budget negotiations in Albany. And with just over three weeks left before a budget deadline, the stakes are getting higher and noise on both sides is getting louder.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s breast cancer initiative wants to increase the number of women that undergo mammography by 10 percent over the next year. But doctor's say there is room for improvement in screening for the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in New York state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ACR Health in Syracuse is lobbying hard for proposed state legislation that would allow children under the age of 18 to get access to HIV prevention medication without parental consent.  

Marissa Rice runs the youth services program at ACR Health. She says there’s a certain population in central New York that could really benefit from access to PrEP, a drug which prevents transmission of HIV -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens between the ages of 15 add 18, who have been forced into sex trafficking.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney used her State of the County speech last night to push the concept of consolidated government.  

Mahoney ran down a litany of speeches, quotes, editorials and newspaper articles from the last 23 years that sounded eerily familiar to the soundbites coming out of today’s Consensus CNY forums. Consensus is the community group that’s proposing 51 ways to modernize government, including creation of a metropolitan government. Mahoney explained why the look at past efforts:

centro.org

A tracking system that shows customers where Centro buses are in real time is in a test stage in Syracuse.

Bus Tracker is already in place in Centro’s smaller markets, Auburn, Oswego, Rome and Utica. But the bus company just finished geocoding the system in Syracuse. Centro spokesman Steve Koegel says now that’s done, patrons can actually see buses moving along a bus route in Syracuse.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

Residents are being asked to offer up opinions about government consolidation tonight at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, the latest public forum about modernizing the way government runs in Onondaga County.  It’s the first session since Consensus CNY decided to take the public engagement portion of the process into mid-Spring.

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