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

Trade is getting pushed to the top of the agenda for Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus). Katko says unfair trade practices are hurting businesses and taking away jobs in central New York.

The Republican says it’s happening on a couple of fronts -- from other nations dumping heavily subsidized products on the world market so American products can’t compete, to Canadian protectionist policies that have make it difficult for central New York dairy farms to sell their product.

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Syracuse City Hall is fine tuning an open data policy, after a two-week public comment period.

The policy is expected to launch later this month, and offers residents an easy way to access to public information involving the work of city government. Mayor Stephanie Miner says so far, the city has gotten good feedback about the proposed policy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump will not interfere with the bureau’s investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she is planning on vetoing the budget approved by the Syracuse Common Council this week. One of her big beefs with the budget is the elimination of funding for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

The city has subsidized the land bank for the last four years, at the rate of $1.5 million a year. The agency, which is not a city department, buys tax delinquent properties seized by the city and either demolishes them or puts them up for sale. It also is funded through state grants.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Cayuga County officials want to prevent the spread an invasive species in Cayuga Lake, before it becomes impossible to contain.

Cayuga County Legislature Chair Keith Batman calls it a “devil weed.” He’s talking about hydrilla, one of the most invasive aquatic species in the world. It’s plagued Cayuga Lake for six years now, and measures to eradicate hydrilla in the Cayuga Inlet near Ithaca using herbicides have been successful. But last year, it was spotted further north in the lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins is officially in the race for mayor of Syracuse. 

Hawkins last ran for the office 12 years ago, on a “Sustainable Syracuse” platform. He’s retrofitting that same slogan for 2017. 

“What I’m talking with sustainability -- and this is the vision we want to go in the next four to eight years -- is a city that has a sustainable prosperity," Hawkins said. "Sustainable fiscally, economically and ecologically.”

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

The future of the much maligned gondola proposed for the New York State Fair is in flux. It’s a matter of money.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said it all comes down to priorities. Building an Expo Center that would attract events, especially horse shows, is the most important project stemming from a task force deciding how to spend $70 million in state dollars earmarked for state fair renovations. And Mahoney said initial plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, were apparently not big enough.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner closed the book on Trump Tuesdays in Syracuse, a series of weekly outdoor meetings to highlight the issues they are concerned about in a Trump’s presidency. But the mayor declared the effort far from over.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A May Day rally in Syracuse Monday focused on immigrants, like many others around the country.

May Day, also called International Workers’ Day, has been around for more than a century, started by laborers in Chicago who marched for an eight-hour workday at the end of the 19th century. And Nikeeta Slade of the Worker’s Center of Central New York wanted that history front and center at the Syracuse rally.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The state and federal governments want to make up for decades lost enjoying Onondaga Lake because of massive pollution. They have a plan that includes 20 restoration projects along the shore of a lake once called the most polluted in America.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Dozens of alleged members of one of Syracuse’s most notorious gangs are off the street following Operation Bricktown, the first series of arrests in an initiative from the New York state attorney general’s office to get drugs off the streets.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman came to Syracuse Thursday to announce the arrest of more than 50 individuals with 370 crimes, ranging from drug dealing to murder conspiracy charges. Many of the individuals are allegedly members of the Bricktown Gang.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the $2.5 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act into law in Auburn this week, and a big chunk is going to help officials along Owasco Lake clean drinking water threatened by algae blooms.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill is pleased that the state will pony up about $2 million to help pay for filtration systems meant eliminate toxins produced by the blue-green algae blooms that plague Owasco Lake.

“It’s like having Christmas come early this year," Quill said. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

It’s become traditional to measure a president’s first 100 days in office. For President Donald Trump, that milestone occurs on Saturday. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) says he isn’t ready to grade the president, but he does have some thoughts about how Trump has been doing.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

To the unknowing observer, charcoal may seem like an unlikely solution to toxic algae blooms in Owasco Lake. But that’s what Auburn city officials are hoping to use to prevent those toxins from getting into the city’s drinking water, which is sourced from the lake.

Toxins from algae are known to make humans and animals sick, and there are possible long-term health implications.

Auburn Mayor Michael Quill says active charcoal, as it’s called, is well-suited to blocking those toxins.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Developers are asking the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency for tax breaks to build a new Hampton Inn in Syracuse’s trendy Armory Square neighborhood. But it comes at a time when new hotels are sprouting up all over central New York.

Rep. John Katko / Facebook File Photo

Water levels continue rising along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. And while it’s unclear if Plan 2014 -- an initiative that changed the way water levels on the lake are controlled -- is responsible for the flooding, it’s put the controversial plan under the microscope.

Southern Arkansas University / Flickr

As gambling casinos continue to open up across the state, the shadow of compulsive gambling grows larger. One Syracuse area gambling addiction clinic is already booked.

Right now, the Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare Gambling Clinic can handle 15 patients at a time, according to integrated outpatient service director Kathi Meadows. And often that’s not enough.

“We actually had people who were coming that we successfully completed. They would have stayed longer, but there was a need to complete them, so we could get more people in the door,” said Meadows.

Courtesy Hannah Ring / Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Local environmental activists are putting pressure on Onondaga County to change advisory signs about eating fish caught in Onondaga Lake.

Everyone agrees the fish in Onondaga Lake are a testament to a legacy of pollution, and shouldn’t be a staple in anyone’s diet -- especially pregnant women and children.

Lesley L. / Flickr

The recently-passed state budget eliminates a cap on New York’s burgeoning industrial hemp industry. That will allow more farmers to be able to research, grow and process a crop that could turn into a a million dollar business.

The industrial hemp industry’s first hurdle is also the biggest misconception most people have about.

"It is related to marjiuana is what most people think," said SUNY Morrisville Researcher Jennifer Gilbert Jenkins. “But industrial hemp does not have any THC in it.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The growth of the security industry, coupled with a bit of government funding, is allowing one Syracuse security system company to expand its workforce. According to the Cuomo administration, Rapid Response Monitoring Systems is expected to create more than 275 jobs in its workforce over the next year as part of a $14 million expansion.

Of that $14 million, $2.5 million was given by the state to encourage the company to stay in central New York; almost half of that through an Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant and the rest through Excelsior tax credits.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The opioid epidemic in New York state has spurred expansion of a Syracuse addiction center to include a methadone clinic. The center, Syracuse Behavioral Healthcare (SBH), is the site of one of only a few methadone clinics in central New York.

Methadone treatment, which allows patients to reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opiates, is highly regulated by the state and federal governments. This is the third facility approved to dispense methadone in Onondaga County.

Onondaga Community College

Onondaga Community College expects a bump in enrollment following the state legislature’s approval of free tuition at SUNY and CUNY schools. It was part of the state budget plan approved on Sunday.

Tom Sinon / Flickr

Anti-smoking advocates in Onondaga County are pushing to raise the county’s legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 19 to 21. The Tobacco Action Coalition of Onondaga County says this would have a dramatic effect in reducing the number of teens and young adults that get addicted to nicotine. 

Physician Leslie Kohman of the Upstate Cancer Center says the change would restrict the amount of access teenagers have to tobacco products.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A critical resting stop for millions of waterfowl making their way north through central New York every spring is expanding. The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is adding biking and walking opportunities along its popular wildlife trail, and that’s only the beginning.

Many upstate New Yorkers recognize Montezuma as the wetlands they whiz by on the New York State Thruway. It’s about halfway between Rochester and Syracuse, and a recently installed statue of a bald eagle has quickly become an icon of the wildlife that flocks there.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The iconic 25-cent cup of milk at the New York State Fair is at the root of a shake up in the operation of one of the Syracuse fairgrounds anchor buildings.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse will remain a sanctuary city, according to Mayor Stephanie Miner, in the wake of efforts by the Trump administration to punish cities that refuse to uphold immigration law.

After the Justice Department threatened to withhold billions of dollars from self-proclaimed sanctuary cities, Miner said Syracuse is resolute in holding on to that designation.

“They’re trying to threaten and bully us into having our local police departments to become the tools of enforcement of federal, civil immigration law,” the mayor said.

ACCESS CNY

One of the new items in the New York state budget is money to help non-profit agencies give raises to employees who work with the disabled. Last month, the governor promised $55 million to help avoid an employment crisis is this sector.

Lockheed Martin

Three years after the Lockheed Martin plant in suburban Syracuse was nearly closed, the Salina location has received the single largest contract in its history. Changing methods of warfare have paved the way for more production of a special kind of radar made in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Law enforcement was forever changed after a police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014. There are lessons to be learned from the incident, according to the police chief who played a role restoring peace after the police shooting of Michael Brown and the violence that followed.

At a seminar in Syracuse, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told police public safety leaders from across New York state that relationships between police and the community are key to keeping the peace in case something like Ferguson happens.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Testing season has begun in schools across New York state. It’s unclear how many students will join the opt-out movement this year, but state officials said they have tried to answer some of the concerns from parents and teachers that spawned the movement.

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