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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8:06am

Tue February 4, 2014
Regional Coverage

Vera House hosting teen dating violence town hall on Twitter

Vera House is encouraging adults and teens to talk about the issue of teen dating violence. The Syracuse agency hopes to get the conversation going by hosting a Twitter town hall session Tuesday.

As many as one in three teens will experience some kind of violence stemming from a romantic relationship, according to Vera House education director Loren Cunningham. But it’s often hard to get teens to open up about it.

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8:48am

Sat February 1, 2014
Arts

The play's the thing SU professor discovers

Statue of Lope de Vega at the entrance of the National Library of Spain, in Madrid.
via Flickr. Some rights reserved by Zaqarbal

It’s not every day you come across a lost play from a master of 16th century literature.  But that’s what happened to a professor at Syracuse University’s department of languages, literatures and linguistics.  

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7:49am

Wed January 29, 2014
Regional Coverage

Details of Onondaga Lakeshore redevelopment will be released today

Dredging took place on Onondaga Lake in the summer of 2012. (file photo)
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Central New York should soon have answers about a mystery redevelopment project on the western shore of Onondaga Lake. In his budget released last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed spending $30 million of state money on an economic development project in Onondaga County. He’s expected to outline those details during a visit to Onondaga County Wednesday.

The Onondaga County Legislature is also expected to chip in some money in the early stages of what would be a massive economic development project.

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3:22pm

Mon January 27, 2014
Health

American Lung Association says New York needs to spend more to help people quit smoking

Dale M Moore Flickr

New York state received mixed grades in the annual American Lung Association report card.  But the advocacy group says more can be done to help people quit the smoking habit..

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in this country, in New York state that translates to about 25,000 people who die every year from smoking-related diseases. So while the state got good grades as far as smoke free air and the nations highest cigarette tax, it got failing grades when it comes to helping people quit.  

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1:48pm

Fri January 24, 2014
Religion

Plans for Saint Marianne Cope Museum and Shrine unveiled

Sister Roberta Smith of The Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities and St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center during a digital groundbreaking of the Saint Marianne Cope Shrine and Museum that’s being built near St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Plans have been finalized for the new Saint Marianne Cope Museum and Shrine in Syracuse. This week, the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities used Cope’s birthday for a digital groundbreaking, where a prototype of the center was unveiled.

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7:32am

Fri January 24, 2014
Regional Coverage

Miner focuses on city development, proposed stadium in State of the City address

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner speaks with reporters follwing her annual State of the City speech Thursday.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Mayor Stephanie Miner is putting together a task force to consider the community and economic impacts of a new sports arena in the city of Syracuse. The mayor put the issue, which has had the town buzzing in recent weeks, in her annual State of the City speech.

"I am neither in favor of a stadium nor against a stadium, but there has to be a process where people can get their questions answered," Miner said.
 

The mayor says building a new stadium, to potentially replace the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University, is a huge decision that should be made together.

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7:13am

Fri January 24, 2014
Education

Education advocates express budget concerns

Local advocates are calling for more dollars in the state budget to be put toward education
Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Education advocacy groups are giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo bad grades when it comes to spending on education in his proposed 2014 budget, as Syracuse parents and community members believe the state needs to come through with substantially more money for schools in the spending plan.

Cuomo’s proposed budget, unveiled this week, includes a $608 million increase in education funding. The increase is well short of what education advocates like former Hannibal school teacher and Citizen Action of New York Board Member Bill Spreeter say is needed.

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8:27am

Thu January 23, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Maffei uses job fair to connect workers with rising employment sectors

Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei has some concerns about central New York’s economic recovery, which is why he held a job fair in Liverpool earlier this week.

Maffei says compared to where the central New York economy was a few years ago, things are getting better. But he says more needs to be done.

"It’s just not expanding enough to give me confidence that it’s going go be stable and sort of a healthy economy,” Maffei said.

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3:06pm

Wed January 22, 2014
Agriculture

Farmers express concern about immigration policies, lack of Farm Bill

Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) listens to farmers' concerns at a recent roundtable.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The central New York agriculture community got a chance to get the ear of Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) this week, highlighting several areas where action by the federal government could help farmers and food processors do their jobs.

Topic number one on the agriculture agenda is to urge Congress to pass the Farm Bill, that’s been languishing in Congress for two years. Bill Byrne of Byrne Dairy is optimistic as lawmakers seem to be reaching consensus on the dairy policy in the Farm Bill, one of the big sticking points.

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8:25am

Tue January 21, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Police Department receives animal first aid kits

Veterinarian Tim Robinson looks at an emergency animal first aid kit, while Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler looks on.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

It will be easier for Syracuse Police to deal with animal emergencies from now on, after a central New York animal cruelty group donated 25 first response kits the the police department.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler says cops are often the first to come across an injured animal.

"We are the first to respond to a number of calls for police services, and we take all of them very serious," Fowler said. "And ranking up there with injury and harm to human beings, we take injury and harm to our animals very serious.”

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7:27am

Mon January 20, 2014
Politics

Gillibrand's five proposals for the economy all focus on women

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has five proposals she believes will boost the economy, all centered around women, which she says are the key to a growing economy.

At Syracuse University’s Maxwell School last week, Gillibrand outlined her American Opportunity Agenda, saying that the things that can help women succeed, and therefore the economy, begin with increasing the minimum wage.

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7:53am

Fri January 17, 2014
Regional Coverage

Weekend forum will attempt to address concerns surrounding SAFE Act

As New York state passes the first anniversary of the SAFE Act in New York state this week, confusion still reigns for many about the controversial gun control law. A forum this weekend in Syracuse hopes to clear up some of the questions for sportsmen and sportswomen in particular.

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8:54am

Thu January 16, 2014
Health

St. Joseph's Primary Care Center on Syracuse's Westside provides one-stop shop for patients

An exam room at the expanded St. Joseph's Primary Care Center-West in Syracuse.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center has expanded it’s primary care center in one poverty stricken Syracuse neighborhood. The new center will offer a single location where patients can get many medical needs met on the city’s near Westside.

The Primary Care Center-West has been around on Gifford Street since the mid-1990s. Medical Director Luis Castro says the expansion not only quadruples the size of the facility, but creates a kind of one-stop shop for patients.

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8:19am

Thu January 16, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Cuomo's tax relief proposal gains support in central New York

CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson; MACNY president Randy Wolken; Dewitt Town Supervisor Ed Michalenko; Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon; and taxpayer Robert Delorenzo, of Clay, discuss Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tax relief proposal.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Central New York business leaders are very supportive about the latest tax reform plan coming out of Albany, and are lobbying for implementation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $2 billion tax relief proposal.

For CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson, January is usually a time he and other business leaders start playing defense; fending off budget proposals from Albany that include higher taxes and fees, and more government spending. But with the governor’s tax proposal on the table, it’s time to play offense.

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8:01am

Tue January 14, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council revises disorderly houses ordinance

The nuisance property proposal was discussed at a Syracuse Common Council meeting in October.
Ellen Abbott WRVO file photo

Syracuse lawmakers have made it easier for police to get involved with problem properties. Common Councilors agreed to revise the old disorderly houses ordinance into a modern day tool for police.

Common councilor Khalid Bey says he’s heard frustration from constituents who don’t see action when they complain about problem properties.

“I had a constituent who had an ongoing problem with a gambling house," Bey said. "Six months of complaints with no real recourse. Now police have an adequate tool to deal with such a compliant.”

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3:34pm

Mon January 13, 2014
Regional Coverage

Longtime Onondaga County sheriff announces retirement

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh (right) announced his retirement, as Deputy Chief John Balloni (left) looks on.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh announced Monday morning that e will retire after 20 years in the position.

While Walsh made the decision public at an event in downtown Syracuse, he said it's something he has known he would do for quite a while.

"I pretty much had made my decision at the end of the last election.  But I was not join going to commit one way or this other until I had to commit, in case things changed and I decided I wanted to do another term," said Walsh. "I didn't want to be accused of flip flopping."

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8:23am

Mon January 13, 2014
Politics and Government

Gillibrand wants crack down on military sexual assaults

Ryan Delaney WRVO file photo

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is continuing her fight to crack down on sexual assaults in the military in 2014.

The junior senator from New York has been a vocal critic of the way the military deals with sexual assault cases. She points to statistics that showed instances of unwanted sexual contact in the military in 2012 went up by 7,000 compared to two years earlier.

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5:07pm

Fri January 10, 2014
Politics and Government

Gillibrand proposes paid family leave legislation

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announces her family leave proposal in Utica
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proposing new federal legislation that would create paid family and medical leave. She says the idea is to establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, that would allow anyone who needs time off for a family emergency, to be able to take this time off while still getting paid.

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7:36am

Fri January 10, 2014
Regional Coverage

Drug addiction experts want state to exercise caution with medical marijuana decision

Now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking steps to move ahead with the legalization of medical marijuana in New York state, there are some who are urging caution. The concern comes from experts who deal with drug addictions every day.

During his State of the State address earlier this week, Cuomo said he would enact a plan allowing 20 hospitals to dispense medical marijuana to those suffering from cancer and other ailments.

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7:31am

Thu January 9, 2014
Environment

Hydrofracking protesters make appearance at State of the State address

Protesters of hydrofracking display signs at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State address Wednesday.
Karen Dewitt WRVO

The anti-hydrofracking movement was out in force during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday. Central New Yorkers who oppose controversial gas drilling method believe their continued protests are making a difference.

For those who oppose fracking, like Coleen Kattau from Cortland County, these pilgrimages to Albany are effective.

"The decision hasn’t been made about hydrofracking, because of people’s protests,” Kattau said.

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4:00pm

Tue January 7, 2014
Politics and Government

Cuomo to push government consolidation; Onondaga County executive says it's already working

In Wednesday's State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going to propose a plan the would encourage localities to consolidate services with other government entities.

His plan to freeze property tax rates for two years is dependent on local governments and schools demonstrating that they are consolidating and sharing some services with other governments in the second year. If they fail to do that, property taxes would go up after all.

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8:07am

Mon January 6, 2014
Regional Coverage

Trial against drone resisters continues today

Defendants and supporters protested before the trial began on Friday.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The trial of Hancock drone war crimes resisters continues later today in a town of DeWitt courtroom. The men and women, mostly from upstate New York, are defending themselves from trespass charges, after an October protest of the use of unmanned aerial drones at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Mattydale.

The 16 defendants contend their blockade of the entrance to the air base is not a crime.

“The actual crime is the killing of civilians, the war of aggression, the violation of national sovereignty,” said Clare Grady, of Ithaca.

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7:26am

Thu January 2, 2014
Education

Common Core sparked major debate in 2013

Those attending a Common Core meeting in early December brought signs showing disapproval with the nationwide curriculum.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

In 2013, public education took center stage in New York state. A new, more rigorous curriculum was put in place in public schools in 2012 and the impacts of that exploded in classrooms across the state this past year.

The New York Times editorial board called the Common Core a once in a generation opportunity; U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says the new curriculum may prove to be "the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown v. Board of Education."

So why all the controversy? To find out, we have to go back a couple years.

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4:03pm

Mon December 30, 2013
Health

New medical society president says physicians need more say in health care system

Dr. David Halleran is the new president of the Onondaga County Medical Society
Courtesy Onodaga County Medical Society

Health care, and particularly the world of physicians, is changing. The new president of the Onondaga County Medical Society says it’s a result of a business model that ends up limiting how doctors do their jobs.

Dr. David Halleran says over the past couple of decades, the business model of medicine has focused on profits and efficiency. And he believes that has created a more disparate medical community.

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9:07am

Mon December 30, 2013
Health

New prostate cancer diagnostic tool comes to region

Gennady Bratslavasky, head of the urology department at Upstate Medical University shows an ultrasound
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Upstate Medical University has a new tool that can help diagnose one of the most common cancers that strikes men. The hospital is one of the first in the nation to purchase a technology that gives doctors a more targeted approach in finding prostate cancer.

Jeff Barkley, a firefighter from Phoenix, had close family members die from prostate cancer. But even as his PSA level rose over the last several years -- that’s the blood test that is an indicator of prostate cancer -- five biopsies came back negative.

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4:22pm

Tue December 24, 2013
Regional Coverage

Keep the holidays happy, avoid dangerous items

Some items to keep an eye out for during the holidays.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The Upstate New York Poison Center wants New Yorkers to stay safe this holiday season. They've provided a list of things that can turn a happy holiday into tragedy.

Some things on the list remain after the holidays are long gone, like food safety. Other listed items are seen only during the holiday, like toxic plants- think mistletoe and holly berries. There are also items that can cause choking in young children.

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4:03pm

Mon December 23, 2013
Regional Coverage

Annual 'Christmas Bureau' helps low-income families

Volunteers help families pick Christmas presents at the Salvation Army's Christmas Bureau
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

More than 2,500 low-income families in Onondaga County are getting their holiday stockings filled today. Families have been filing through the OnCenter in Syracuse for the Salvation Army’s yearly Christmas Bureau.

Theresa Johnson of Syracuse is unemployed this Christmas and is happy that for the Christmas bureau program that provides gifts and food for families like hers.

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7:28am

Mon December 23, 2013
Health

Affordable Care Act sign up deadline is today

Navigators have been educating people about what health care coverage plans are available through the New York State of Health. (File photo)
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Today is the deadline for individuals to sign up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act in order to get coverage by Jan. 1. So far, New York state’s experience with this groundbreaking change in the way Americans get health care coverage has been generally positive.

Todd Muscatello is a Vice President for Sales at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Syracuse. As someone who deals in the vagaries of health insurance every day, he says he's glad he lives in New York state.  

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8:50am

Fri December 20, 2013
Regional Coverage

Sisters of St. Francis selling campus, moving St. Marianne Cope shrine

The building that currently holds the shrine to St. Marianne Cope.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Some big changes are coming to the Court St.campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. It involves the sale of the campus, and moving a shrine to recently canonized St. Marianne Cope, who began her ministries as a Sister of St. Francis, in Syracuse.

The current campus on the corner of Court and Grant St. on Syracuse’s north side dates back to the 1860s, when a new order of Franciscan nuns bought the property. Over the past 150 years it’s been home to a convent, school, chapel and a day care, among other things.

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7:29am

Thu December 19, 2013
Health

ACR Health rallies to register people into state healthcare exchange

As the deadline for health insurance plan applications approaches, one agency that’s offering individuals help with the process is finding itself very busy. ACR Health in Syracuse has exceeded expectations as far as signing people up in the state healthcare exchanges.

According to navigator Brian Vanbenschoten, ACR has already helped more than 1,100 people sign up for health insurance plans that will go into effect Jan. 1. That’s 300 more than the agency anticipated at this time.

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