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

Siena Research Institute has released results of a survey that shows just how pervasive cyberbullying  is among teens across upstate New York.

The survey queried teens and their parents from Albany to Buffalo. First, the numbers from the teens who were polled:

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The fight to end the practice of putting teens in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center continues, and it’s taking place on two fronts.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the policy violates the Constitution, and harms young people. And groups like the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, or ACTS for short, is trying to raise awareness about the practice, with protests and discussions with county officials.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Empire Farmstead Brewery in Cazenovia has established itself as the largest farm brewery on the eastern seaboard. And a spate of new state laws, friendly to brewers, has made it possible.

It used to be that Madison County was a leading producer of hops, an ingredient in beer. Then along came Prohibition, which almost killed the brewing industry -- and the ancillary industries that supported it -- and created a series of laws unfriendly to brewers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York tow truck operators are calling on Albany to beef up the “move over” law that motorists to either slow down or move over when approaching emergency vehicles or vehicles with flashing yellow lights, like two trucks or road maintenance vehicles, on the side of the road.

There have been three deaths in recent weeks on upstate New York roadways involving motorists not paying attention to New York’s law. A state trooper, maintenance worker and tow-truck operator have all been killed by oncoming traffic while they were tending to an issue on the side of the road.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Republican Rep. John Katko is the first incumbent in more than a decade to be reelected to the 24th Congressional District. The district flipped back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in the past four congressional election cycles.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

With Hillary Clinton being the first woman nominated for president from a major political party, some voters are remembering the long hard fight for women to gain the right to vote. In Fayetteville, they're marking the moment by going to the grave of Matilda Joslyn Gage, a major player in the sufragette movement upstate. Visitors left notes, flowers, and “I voted” stickers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Board of Elections is unveiling some new software for Election Day that will allow website visitors to look at vote totals as they come in by geographic location. Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says it’s something voters have never had access to before on election night.

"The voters will know how their neighborhoods have voted and they can see how their individual vote matters," Czarny said.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is laying off 11 employees. County lawmakers voted Monday 10-7 to adjust the budget to eliminate $600,000 worth of payroll.

County officials say this is the end of a very difficult budget year. An $8.2 million deficit, created by stagnant sales tax growth and ballooning health care and personnel costs needed to be filled, and the county did it by offering $10,000 buyouts to employees close to retirement. But that still left $600,000 that needed to be cut. So Republican Legislator Pat Kilmartin says a shuffling of jobs and positions led to the 11 layoffs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

One of the most active Trump groups in central New York was out in full force this weekend, stumping for their candidate.

Oneida County Trump supporters carrying signs, wearing bumper stickers and waving flags got a lot of attention from passing motorists during their final rally in Rome before Election Day. It’s a group of like-minded citizens, that’s been growing organically, meeting twice a week for months. And supporters like Joseph Rezendes, who says he’s sick of career politicians, makes no apologies for supporting the controversial candidate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a good chance you’ll be voting at a school on Tuesday. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says they’re just good places to hold elections.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney rolled up her sleeve this week, not to work, but to show central New Yorkers how easy it is to get a flu shot.

"This took me less than a minute, and if you get the flu, you are down for a couple days and you’re making everybody around you sick,” Mahoney said. “It is a much better use of your time to take one minute and get your flu shot.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has named a committee to come up with proposals for another big state investment in the New York State Fair.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Regardless of politics, New York state will most likely continue with its New York State of Health official health insurance marketplace, according to Steve Wood, director of insurance programs at ACR Health in Syracuse. He said New York is committed to the program that grew out of the Affordable Care Act.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Record-breaking rain along with regular sewage flow was to blame for a burst pipe that dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into Onondaga Lake late last week.

The 42-inch pipe that broke carries sewage from the Ley Creek Pump Station to Onondaga County’s wastewater treatment plant on the southern shore of Onondaga Lake. According to county officials, the leak was at the top part of the underground pipe very near the railroad crossing of the Onondaga Creek Inlet.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County almost wiggled out of a multi-million dollar budget deficit with no layoffs, because of an early retirement buyout plan.

But after all the numbers were counted, the county is still looking at a half a million dollar hole for next year. County Executive Joanie Mahoney is proposing cuts that include 12 layoffs to close that gap. That means lawmakers have to go back to the budget drawing board.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

For the first time, a woman will be installed as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. The Very Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe will look for ways to bring a geographically sprawling diocese together in an increasingly secular and divided world.

Ludovic Bertron / Flickr

Halloween 2016 may be mostly remembered as the year of the creepy clown in upstate New York and across the country. But experts say clown phobia is nothing new.

There’s a word for it -- coulrophobia. That’s the fear of clowns. And this year, it seems to be running rampant with complaints of clown sightings all over central New York. In Syracuse, Utica, and other communities. Just this week, police were called about a clown siting early in the morning near the middle school in Carthage in Jefferson County.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse hopes to use innovative ideas from its Civic Data Hackathon to improve the strategies for fixing potholes. Winners of the Syracuse Roads Challenge focused on using data to create a more comprehensive picture of the pothole problem the city faces.

The city of Syracuse is expanding its strategy using open source data and technology to solve municipal problems.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner admits in the beginning she was a skeptic about using data and technology to try to fix nagging issues. But she’s sold on the concept now, after the city’s Innovation Team engaged in a number of initiatives.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Environmentalists are bringing a giant yellow oil barrel across New York State to bring attention to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s fight to extract internal research from Exxon Mobile about climate change.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Upstate Medical University officials hope the build out of the Central New York Biotech Accelerator in Syracuse will help define the area as a haven for biotech research and development.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Now that a New York State Supreme Court Judge has ruled that Onondaga County legislator pay raises were illegal, at least one lawmaker wants to make amends.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A court ruling doesn’t seem to have quashed the bad blood between the Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci and County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration. Both sides are claiming victory following a lawsuit that accused county lawmakers of illegally giving themselves and other elected officials a raise last year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Surrounded by dozens of central New York firefighters in Syracuse on Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer launched a push to create a national firefighter cancer registry.  

The idea is to get a closer look at a cancer risk Schumer said can be double that of others because of exposure to toxic chemicals.

It used to be a badge of honor for a firefighter to come back to the station with a dirty, charred uniform. No more, according to Syracuse firefighter Mike Valenti.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The opioid epidemic claims more victims than those who die of an overdose. Families, friends and loved ones are left living through grief singed with shame and judgment. But there’s now somewhere they can go to get help in central New York.

Quinnika Ayers of Syracuse lost her son Drequan Robinson last year to a lethal cocktail of MDMA, Zanax and fentanyl. He was a student at SUNY Morrisville, and was found unresponsive at a friend’s home after a party. Ayers says Robinson had a troubled youth, but felt he’d turned a corner—or so she thought.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

An experiment in government consolidation has failed in central New York -- a victim of a difference of opinion over how to create jobs and promote economic growth in Syracuse and Onondaga County and the continued deterioration of the relationship between the mayor and county executive.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Nine central New York law enforcement agencies are supporting Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in his re-election bid. Katko, a freshman Republican, worked with many police professionals during the years he was a federal prosecutor in Syracuse. 

At Forman Park in Syracuse Monday, Katko said there are ways he would like to support law enforcement at a time when racial issues surrounding police officers are widely reported.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A bill vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month would have given Madison County some of the cash the Oneida Indian nation pays to state as part of a compact that’s been in place between the state and the nation since 2013. Madison County didn’t have gaming at that time, but it does now, and officials say it’s only fair that the county should get in on some of the gambling revenue. 

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) says a veto usually means the end of a story.  But he’s sees a glimmer of hope in this case, in the governor’s veto message.

Jason Lawrence / Flickr

Along with insurance issues, handicapped accessibility has become one of the roadblocks to getting ride sharing services in upstate New York.

State lawmakers expect to make expanding ride sharing services to upstate New York a priority this upcoming legislative season, including Uber and Lyft. But they’ll have to get past the insurance and taxi lobbies, and also may also find roadblocks from the disabled community.

Access CNY Executive Director Paul Joslyn says it’s a matter of making sure disabled riders aren’t left out.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Advocates for the disabled in central New York aren’t standing still for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation that would have improved the working conditions of the professionals that take care of disabled New Yorkers. 

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