Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse, WRVO Public Media

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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3:45pm

Tue May 27, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council wants nonprofits to be accountable for city funds

Syracuse common councilors will be asking for more information from not-for-profits that get funds from the city budget.  The city contracts with several agencies to provide various services to city residents every year.

But Councilor Pam Hunter says there needs to be more accountability about what these nonprofits are doing with city funds.

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5:37am

Tue May 27, 2014
Health

Syracuse hospitals invest in electronic medical records systems

SUNY Upstate Medical University
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Electronic medical records are becoming the norm at Syracuse-area hospitals. St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center and SUNY Upstate Medical University each took milestone steps this month into the digital world.

Hospital staff and patients at the Golisano Children’s Hospital have been using a computerized software system to track medical records since March. With Upstate’s Community Campus coming on board earlier this month, the teaching hospital in Syracuse now has fully implemented an electronic medical records system in all phases of care, according to hospital CEO John McCabe.

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7:13am

Fri May 23, 2014
Health

Gebbie Clinic at Syracuse University celebrates 40 years of changing lives

Ellen Abbott WRVO

For the last 40 years, the Gebbie Speech, Language Hearing Clinic at Syracuse University has been making a difference in the lives of people with speech and hearing problems across central New York. This weekend, the clinic will celebrate its 40th anniversary with the grand opening of new facilities, while showcasing the work they’ve done.

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3:36pm

Wed May 21, 2014
Arts

Survey shows central NY art organizations should collaborate more to draw visitors

A recent survey shows that people in central New York region want to take part in arts and cultural events, but often don’t know about them. That's spurring the group CNY Arts to find ways to solve that problem.

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6:51am

Tue May 20, 2014
Health

Ultrasound tool could save lives in an emergency

Joseph Wlostowski uses a portable ultrasound device on a volunteer during a training session.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Some emergency medical service personnel in New York state have started using technology that lets them take ultrasounds during emergency situations.

Joseph Wlostowski, a clinical educator for Mercy Flight Central is showing EMS professionals in Syracuse how a small portable ultrasound device can be used by first responders to identify life threatening injuries before getting patients to the hospital.

“It’s a tablet, a PC, the size of an iPad," Wlostowski said. "Currently at Mercy Flight Central, we are employing them on our aircraft.”

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6:16am

Tue May 20, 2014
Education

Most area school budgets stay within tax cap

Katie Keier Flickr

Residents of school districts across the state go to the polls today to vote on budgets. These spending plans were created in the shadow of the state’s property tax cap program.

Most of the schools in New York state are offering budgets that keep tax increases below the state’s suggested two percent tax cap. These budgets are also increasing spending at an average rate of 2.6 percent.

To make up the difference, Tim Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association says most districts are dipping into savings.

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6:04am

Mon May 19, 2014
Health

Opioid drug industry often targets middle schoolers, expert says

Abuse of heroin and opioids is something that often starts in adolescence, according to SUNY Upstate Medical Center addiction expert Dr. Brian Johnson. He said the illegal drug industry begins targeting middle schoolers, so they become addicted by the time they’re out of high school.

“The industry wants to recruit children,” Johnson said. “It’s a pediatric disease. By the time some of these kids get to college, the college [health care providers] say they’ve had this addiction for several years and it’s entrenched.”

He said one way to deal with this is to be more aware.

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4:13pm

Fri May 16, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Group argues lack of high speed Internet hurts business in central New York

State, local and federal elected officials have created a new coalition meant to bridge the digital divide in central New York, as they say a lack of quality high speed Internet has become an economic development issue in Syracuse.

About two years ago, Bob Slivinski of Encompass Technologies  and Syracuse Innovations Group decided they wanted to move their office out of East Syracuse. But when they looked at offices in the city of Syracuse, the lack of fiber optic Internet stopped them cold.

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7:35am

Fri May 16, 2014
Environment

Onondaga County opens up new extension to Onondaga Lake Park Trail

A view of Syracuse from the Onondaga Lake Park Trail.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

It’s been a century since the west side of Onondaga Lake has been available to the general public. That changes this weekend, when Onondaga County opens up the West Shore Trail. This is the latest step in reclaiming what was once the most polluted lake in the country.

For nearly 30 years, waste from production of soda ash by Allied Chemical in Solvay was dumped into waste beds along the western shore of Onondaga Lake.  What was left was a field of dry, chalky white alkaline waste rising 60 feet above the lake shore and covering 300 acres.

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7:43am

Thu May 15, 2014
Environment

Public gets first chance to weigh in on 'Trash to Ash' plan

Onondaga County's Waste-to-Energy Facility in Jamesville.
Office of Onondaga County Comptroller

The so-called Trash to Ash plan is now officially before the public. The initial public comment period has started, regarding a regional solid waste partnership between Onondaga and Cortland County, but there is already opposition to the plan.
             

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6:48am

Thu May 15, 2014
Regional Coverage

Motorcyclists urged to take state safety course

Motorcyclists operate their bikes on the training course.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Thousands of motorcyclists are preparing to hit the road as summer nears, and New York state is urging caution.  

To encourage caution and safety, the state is urging motorcyclists to take its Motorcycle Safety Program. During the course, motorcyclists weave in and out of traffic cones behind Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, the site of one of the state’s programs.

Program manager Ben Zadrozny said the idea is to get inside the head of riders and teach life saving techniques.

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7:42am

Tue May 13, 2014
Politics and Government

GOP candidate for AG launches campaign; stops in Syracuse

Republican John Cahill is running for New York state attorney general.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The Republican who wants to be New York state’s attorney general says he’ll be the people’s advocate if elected. John Cahill, an aide to former Gov. George Pataki, made several campaign stops across the state Monday, including Syracuse.

Cahill says education, economic development and integrity in government are top issues he promises to advocate for if he is elected as attorney general.

As far as education goes, he’s a proponent of school choice. But how does the attorney general fit into that issue?

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7:25am

Mon May 12, 2014
Environment

New living lab experiment at SU studies climate change impact on trees

The new living lab at Syracuse University.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Last week's federal report on climate change puts the spotlight on how increasing global temperatures will affect the world. One Syracuse University professor is trying to localize that by creating a climate garden on campus that will show the effects of climbing temperatures on trees in central New York.

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7:37am

Fri May 9, 2014
Environment

Onondaga County's compost program is growing in more ways than one

Waste is being transformed into compost at the OCRRA facility in Amboy.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Onondaga County’s program that turns food waste into the compost and mulch we use in our gardens is expanding.

OCRRA, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, has installed new structures that make the process at the Amboy Compost Facility work like a well-oiled machine.

It all starts with the food we throw away at restaurants, schools and grocery stores; the fruit rinds, the crusts of bread and corn husks. Those scraps are dumped into a new covered mixing area at the facility on Airport Road in Amboy.

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7:07am

Thu May 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council approves small tax hike for city residents

Syracuse's Common Council met Wednesday and approved the city's budget, with a small change in the tax rate.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Syracuse's Common Councilors are raising taxes in the city in a way they say won’t be painful.

Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget didn’t include any tax hikes, but the one the Common Council passed Wednesday does. The tax increase they are instituting is ultimately a wash because of a new state program that reimburses taxpayers for any tax increases they pay this year.

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4:08pm

Wed May 7, 2014
Regional Coverage

Rosamond Gifford Zoo celebrates 100 with plans for the future

Map of proposed changes at Rosamond Gifford Zoo
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse is 100 years old this year. To coincide with that anniversary, the zoo has announced a 20-year new action plan that could change the way the zoo looks like in the future.    

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the anniversary makes it a great time to look towards the future.

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6:13am

Wed May 7, 2014
Politics and Government

Onondaga County to help pave over potholes in Syracuse

As the snow melted after the hard winter, many central New York roads were left with lots of potholes.
Gino Geruntino WRVO file photo

Onondaga County will be helping out some local governments, including the city of Syracuse, re-pave roads ravaged by a bad winter.  

It wasn’t as much as originally offered by Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, but Onondaga County lawmakers did agree yesterday to foot the bill for paving two major roads in the city of Syracuse.  

Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says the county will spend a half a million dollars to re-pave Adams and Harrison Streets.

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7:31am

Tue May 6, 2014
The Upstate Economy

SUNY campuses getting started with their Start-Up NY plans

SUNY campuses across central New York are working to get the final pieces in place to begin attracting business as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Start-Up NY. 

Start-Up NY offers businesses a chance to operate tax-free for ten years, if they set up shop within one mile of college campus, and create jobs that support the academic mission of the school they’re affiliated with.  

So far, according to the Start-Up NY web site, there are more than a dozen colleges and universities aligned with the economic development program.  

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7:21am

Mon May 5, 2014
Education

Haudenosaunee heritage center to become 'place of ideas'

A display from the former Sainte Marie among the Iroquois museum.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The transformation of the former Sainte Marie among the Iroquois museum on Onondaga Lake into a Haudenosaunee heritage center continues. Museum experts are in the midst of reprogramming the focus of the museum and are looking for help from the public.

Rick Hill is a guest curator working on the interpretive script for the new Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center. He says it’s going to be a different kind of museum.

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3:14pm

Fri May 2, 2014
Regional Coverage

New event to bubble up at New York State Fair

NYSFair/flickr

Officials with the New York State Fair continue to announce new events and attractions, as the end-of-summer event looks to reverse a trend of dropping attendance.  

Fair officials today announced a first for this year’s exposition -- a  running event called the Bubble Blast 5K Run that will be a fundraiser for ACR Health and Operation Walk.  It’s the latest of a series of initiatives meant to get more people to come to the fair. Acting fair director Troy Waffner admits there is a feeling of urgency this year to boost attendance.

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6:56am

Fri May 2, 2014
Regional Coverage

Central New Yorkers fight to end child sexual abuse

Two survivors of child sexual abuse are urging central New Yorkers to take part in a program that aims to prevent abuse, by arming bystanders with information.

Dan Leonard’s story of child abuse goes back to when he was 11 years old and a football coach began abusing him. And Leonard says he wasn't the only victim.

“He abused hundreds of kids over the years. Anyone attached to that football program knew what was going on or should have suspected it.  Nobody, all those years, all those kids, nobody said anything,” Leonard said.

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6:11am

Fri May 2, 2014
Sports

New Syracuse sports stadium is still possible

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner's stadium task force discusses the prospect of a new stadium.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The sports stadium expert advising Syracuse University in the recent debate over building a new stadium on Syracuse’s east side, says the future of a stadium for Syracuse sports is still under discussion. The urgency of the plan now is nowhere near what it was earlier this year, when a potential pot of state money could have become available.

Irwin Raij, of Foley and Lardner, the law firm SU hired as a consultant, says the stadium study conducted late last year was worth it for a couple of reasons.

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6:08am

Thu May 1, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse budget hearing highlights need for first responders and literacy

Virginia Carmody, with the Literacy Coaltion of Onondaga County, speaks during Syracuse's public hearing on its annual budget.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Pleas for funding for a literacy program, and concerns about public safety spending rounded out comments at last night’s public hearing on the city of Syracuse’s proposed 2014-2015 budget.

In all, six people spoke to common councilors about Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed $660 million spending plan last night. Among them was Felicia Salley, a mother of three from Syracuse’s southside. She says the Imagination Library, run by the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County, has helped her kids prepare for school by providing each of her children one new age-appropriate book a month.

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6:04am

Wed April 30, 2014
Business

Study says low-income employment harms employee health

Jeanette Zoeckler of the SUNY Occupational Health Center presents the finding of the survey.
Ellen Abbott WRVO Public Media

They’re the people you probably come in contact with every day: the custodians, the restaurant workers, the landscape employees who make an average of fewer than ten dollars an hour. But what is it like to be  a low-income worker in Syracuse and how does it impact their health? One agency asked these questions to 275 local workers. While the answers weren’t surprising, they provide a basis for future initiatives.

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7:36am

Tue April 29, 2014
Business

Plowz smartphone app gets a summertime makeover

The MOWZ app is the second smartphone app developed by Syracuse grads Wills Mahoney and Andrew Englander.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A Syracuse start-up is building on the success of a smartphone app that helped people get someone to plow their driveway. Now the PLOWZ app is being joined by MOWZ.

Wills Mahoney admits it was a good winter to start a snow plow app. More than 40,000 people downloaded the PLOWZ app, and thousands used it to call a plow, not only in central New York, but into the Midwest.
 

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7:15am

Tue April 29, 2014
Health

Onondaga County Medical Society calls health program realignment a poor decision

The Onondaga County Medical Society has taken an official stance against the proposed realignment of the Human Services Division of Onondaga County's government. The physicians organization believes the plan to take the Maternal Health and Child Wellness programs out of the purview of the Health Department is a bad move.

The organization has six major concerns about the move, says society treasurer Dr. Richard Beers. He says it starts with the unintended consequences of changing the relationship doctors already have with health care providers involved in the county’s programs.

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5:49am

Mon April 28, 2014
Politics and Government

State Senate is sticking point for legalizing medical marijuana

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse)
Durrie Bouscaren WRVO File

State lawmakers go back to work in Albany this week as the second half of the legislative session gets underway. The debate over legalization of medical marijuana could become one of the high profile issues lawmakers tackle.

At this point the closest plan to legalizing medical marijuana in the state is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to use executive power to  allow doctors to prescribe it in 20 hospitals across the state to patients with certain conditions.

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3:52pm

Fri April 25, 2014
Politics and Government

Valesky believes IDC-GOP coalition will stay together

New York State Sen. Dave Valesky of Oneida.
nysenate.gov

State Sen. Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference believes a recent Siena College poll  gives credence to the coalition between the IDC and Senate Republicans.

The poll shows that 58 percent of New Yorkers like the way the coalition is running the New York State Senate. The Senate is controlled by minority Republicans and the IDC -- a system created a few sessions back, after a problem-filled term when Democrats controlled the Senate.

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7:47am

Fri April 25, 2014
Regional Coverage

State senator and local boxing coach entering the ring for charity

Ray Rinaldi (left) and state Sen. John DeFrancisco weigh in for Saturday's fight.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A boxing match this weekend between a state senator and the founder of a youth program in Syracuse will raise money and the profile of the North and West Area Athletic and Education Centers. State Sen. John DeFrancisco and local boxing coach Ray Rinaldi will be the only ones on a fight card that’s meant to raise money and promote awareness for a program that keeps inner city kids out of trouble.
 

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5:33am

Thu April 24, 2014
Health

String of heroin overdoses stresses prevention drug training

ACR Director of Prevention Services Erin Bortel holds up a vial of Narcan, a drug that can prevent opioid overdose.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A spate of heroin overdoses last week in Syracuse has created a more urgent tone for one community organization’s program meant to fight overdoses. The Opioid Overdose Prevention Program run by ACR Health in Syracuse hopes to prevent stories like this in the future.

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