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

With a little less than two months before election day, Onondaga County’s Republican Party is hoping to move forward with a united front. A potential challenger to Chair Tom Dadey’s leadership was brought into the fold after a weekend of intense discussions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Visitors to Onondaga Lake Park have always been able to rent bikes. But now a new bike share program makes the whole process a lot easier.

Big white and orange bikes are attached to bright orange bike stands at the park, available for anyone who wants to take them for a spin on the seven miles of trails that hug the shore of Onondaga Lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There seems to be plenty of interest from Onondaga County employees in an early retirement program. County officials hope that interest is real, because if not enough employees take advantage of it, there will have to be layoffs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney took a page out of recommendations made by the government consolidation group Consensus for one of the cornerstone proposals in her 2017 proposed budget. Mahoney wants to merge the agencies that deliver water to taps across Onondaga County.

The way things work now, the county-run Metropolitan Water Board is in charge of bringing water to Onondaga County. Then OCWA, the independent Onondaga County Water Authority, sells it to businesses and homeowners.

Mahoney’s plan would fold the operations of the county-run department into OCWA.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A second school that emphasizes a project-based learning strategy has opened its doors in central New York.

The Seven Valleys New Tech Academy is now available in the city of Cortland. The academy is operated by Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES, and is designed to offer students a style of learning they wouldn’t receive in a traditional high school, according to BOCES Superintendent J. Francis Manning.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Syracuse University researchers are hoping an academic study of sustainable transportation can help convince state lawmakers to allow ride sharing services like Uber in upstate New York. 

The year-long study looks to identify alternatives to the way many people get around in upstate New York; one person driving a car. SU architecture professor Tarek Rakha, who’s leading the study, said that includes something New York state law currently doesn’t allow upstate -- ride sharing, through services like Uber or Lyft.

Mike Becallo campaign/Vince Giordano

New York state holds primary elections for state Assembly and Senate races. In central New York, an Assembly seat on the eastern side of Onondaga County is in the spotlight for the GOP.

Upstate Medical University Hospital

Students at Upstate Medical University’s College of Nursing and other health profession programs have a new home in a brand new state-of-the-art building in Syracuse.

The $40.5 million, five-story academic building is tucked behind Weiskotten Hall and Silverman Hall just off South Crouse Avenue. Interim Nursing School Dean Don Simpson says it will offer opportunities for programs to grow in an already burgeoning field.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is getting behind a lawsuit that accuses the state of holding back millions of dollars of funds for struggling schools.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The new school year in the Syracuse City School District opened with a new interim superintendent at the helm this week.

Pre-Schoolers at Salem Hyde Elementary School welcomed the school year with some special visitors: Mayor Stephanie Miner and interim Superintendent Jaime Alicea, who read an ABC book to the youngsters.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s back to school week in central and northern New York. And that means law enforcement is taking steps to make sure the roads are safe for kids going to school.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

After the $76 million renovation of the former Hotel Syracuse, which is now the Mariott Syracuse Downtown, developer Ed Riley is planning on renovating another vacant Syracuse hotel.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Fair broke attendance records this year, in the wake of a $50 million state-funded renovation of the Syracuse-area fairgrounds. Attendance for the 12-day fair was 1,117,630, according to fair officials -- up 23 percent over last year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials literally smashed the attendance record to the New York State Fair, taking an ice pick to a sculpture that had the former attendance records engraved on it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A group of advocates for veterans want New York state to allow marijuana to be prescribed to service men or women suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. 

Randi Weathers of the “We Are Listening” campaign says some other states allow marijuana for treatment of PTS. The group is collecting petition signatures to ask New York to do the same. Hundreds of visitors to the state fair have signed the petitions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Dairy farmers at the New York State Fair are trying out a new technology to help them determine when a calf is about to be born.

The big white tent at the end of the midway with a giant cow balloon in front is where fairgoers can watch the miracle of birth.

One cow delivered a healthy calf in front of hundreds of fairgoers. If they looked carefully, they would have noticed a bright green plastic contraption around the cow’s tale. It’s called a “moo-call.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

If attendance is any indication, New York’s $50 million investment into the state fairgrounds is an early success. According to New York State Fair officials, the fair is substantially ahead of last year's attendance numbers, with the final weekend coming up, which generally has the largest crowds of the 12-day exposition. Fair officials believe there are a couple of reasons why.

First off, Acting Fair Director Troy Waffner says there have been the curiosity seekers, who wanted to see how $50 million changes a more than century-old fairgrounds.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a new sound at the New York State Fair in Syracuse this year. The Upstate Medical University booth in the Science and Industry Building offers cancer survivors a chance to ring a bell to mark their accomplishment.

Nine-year old Madeleine Pointer was the first to ring the bell, a seven-year survivor of kidney cancer.

"It’s exciting to be the first to ring it,” Pointer said. 

Matt Capogreco of the Upstate Cancer Center said the bell sends a message.

Onondaga County Sheriff's Office

On the 20th anniversary of a heinous murder in Onondaga County, police are hoping a reward helps crack what remains an unsolved case.

The last time anyone reported seeing 42-year-old Carol Ryan alive was Sept. 1, 1996, after she left a bar in the Eastwood neighborhood of Syracuse to walk to her apartment. She was found several hours later near the Jamesville Reservoir, nearly dead, after being badly beaten, and having an explosive detonated in her pelvis.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said there is no political agenda behind a series of audits critical of some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs. The democrat said the auditors in his department are simply calling shots as they see them.

governorandrewcuomo / via Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo believes legislation signed last week meant to tighten campaign finance rules is a step towards fighting the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which has allowed political spending by groups like corporations and unions to grow dramatically. The new legislation includes restrictions on independent group expenditures, which Cuomo says cuts to the core of who’s giving money to what candidate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The arrest of two former employees of the Central New York SPCA for allegedly stealing funds from the animal shelter shines a light on the issue of embezzlement at nonprofits.

The former Executive Director of the Central New York SPCA, and a veterinary technician at the shelter, have been arraigned on charges that they embezzled nearly $700,000 from shelter’s accounts.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

After cutting the ribbon yesterday to open this year’s edition of the New York State Fair, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $50 million renovations that have gone into the New York State Fair this year is just the beginning. The Democrat says he will be asking state lawmakers to help with more changes at the more than century old fairgrounds.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

IndyCar racing will have a home at Watkins Glen International at least for the next two years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a deal to return the open car racing to the famed speedway while visiting the New York State Fair Thursday.

Track President Michael Printup says this is a landmark moment for the famed track.

"We now host every racing series in the country,” said Printup. “So it’s great to bring it back to the fans. It’s the pinnacle of racing. These are rockets on wheels.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The 12-day New York State Fair begins today in Syracuse. And it will be a different experience for everyone, after a $50 million state-funded renovation of the fairgrounds.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is leading a commission that will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York State next year. In advance of that, she’s holding roundtables around the state to talk about female empowerment.

Joining her in Syracuse Wednesday, powerful women from central New York with stories about how they pushed beyond the stereotypes and barriers that often keep women out of the board rooms and legislative chambers across the state. Hochul believes mentorship is one way that women who are successful already, can reach the younger generation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Preparations are almost complete for the New York State Fair, which starts Thursday. Things will look different at the fairgrounds this year, following a $50 million renovation. One of the biggest changes will be at the midway.

There is simply a lot more room for rides and attractions at the fair’s midway this year. The demolition of the grandstand and the race track has created a 15-acre rectangle that operator Wade Shows will fill with rides, games and attractions. Owner Frank Zaitshik admits it creates somewhat of a challenge.

Marriott Syracuse Downtown

It’s taken 12 years, but the former Hotel Syracuse is once again open to the public. Rebranded as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, visitors began staying at the historic structure in downtown Syracuse on Friday. It means a huge boost not only economically, but to the psyche of central New York, a region battered by a faltering economy and dwindling population in recent years.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

The town of Geddes is floating the idea of imposing a $1 surcharge on every Lakeview Amphitheater ticket sold, to cover expenses created by visitors to the new music venue on Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says he does not dismiss the idea out of hand.

“I’m willing to have conversations.”

But McMahon quickly adds that the town would have to demonstrate how the amphitheater has created a financial burden. So far town officials have expressed concerns about costs related to visitors from a public safety angle.

Marriott Syracuse Downtown

Operators of the new Marriott Syracuse Downtown  opened the former Hotel Syracuse to the public last week, and are looking forward to their first full house this week.

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