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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Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The first of 550 tons of steel beams has been pounded into the foundation of the new Upstate Cancer Center in Syracuse.  Up to now, most of the work has been prepping the area next to the existing hospital entrance.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The misuse of the designer drug called bath salts continues to be in the news as the number of complaints about the drug is on the rise.

The death of a Munnsville woman is the latest central New York case involving the suspected use of the man-made drugs.

In all of 2011, there were 118 calls to the Upstate Poison Control Center about bath salts. This year there have been 141 so far.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Onondaga Nation is not happy with the breadth of the Honeywell Corporation's plan to dredge and cap polluted sediment at the bottom of Onondaga Lake.

This $451 million plan will dredge an estimated two million cubic yards of toxic material from 185 acres out of the 3,000-acre lake bottom, and cap 14-percent of the lake bottom, to keep toxic chemicals underground.

The only statewide race in the upcoming June 26 federal primary in New York state, is the contest to see who will take on U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in  the November election.  But even the state's top republican doesn't offer any clues who's going to win.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

 Some sacred and cultural objects of the Onondaga Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy are back where they belong, after languishing for years in the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse.  

Veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families will get a special welcome home this week at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse.   The idea is to show these vets that the community appreciates their sacrifices.

The Roman Catholic Church continues it's opposition to the Affordable Care Act clause that requires employers to pay for birth control, a practice the church opposes.  But the fight has gone beyond the confines of the Catholic Church.

The budget for fixing New York State roads and bridges has almost doubled this year, thanks to the transportation portion of the New York Works program.  The $1.2 billion program will repair roads and bridges, but it is also intended to function as a jobs and economic development engine.

It is the end of any collaboration between the City of Syracuse and the Pyramid Companies on the expansion of the Carousel Center Mall.  But the notice this week that Pyramid is calling the current work at the mall the final phase of the Destiny project may not tell the entire story.

Destiny spokesman David Aitken says this move doesn't rule out more Destiny deals in the future.

"Are we hopeful for additional development down the road?  The answer's yes.  But we are going to take it one day at a time,"says Aitken.

Onondaga County lawmakers approved the county's share of the Onondaga Community College's operating and capital  budgets yesterday.  But, the two- year school didn't get quite what it asked for.

The expansion of Carousel Center in Syracuse could be at an end, at least for now. The developer of the mall complex that will soon be known as Destiny USA, is now calling this the final phase of the development.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city development agency found out yesterday that the developer was exercising a clause in an earlier agreement that would allow them to make this move.

A new era will soon begin in the life of the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse. A national management group will take over the operation of the convention center and some other downtown venues.

SMG, a private firm out of Philadelphia, will be responsible for booking events at the OnCenter, the War Memorial, the Civic Center, Alliance Bank Stadium, and the Everson Museum.

President Barack Obama has proclaimed that STEM education is a national priority.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

New York state is looking at ways to improve the STEM education the state's children receive. This kind of education has  become more important in recent years, because that's where the jobs are. However, recent statistics show U.S. achievement in these skills lags behind much of Europe and Asia.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

It's graduation season in Central New York.  But it's not just high schools and universities turning out graduates. It's also commencement time for some four-legged students.

Nine dogs, mostly German Shepherds, are now ready to hit the streets to help police catch criminals. The teams come from as far as from Niagara County in the west to Columbia County in the east, to take part in the police dog training program run by the Syracuse Police Department.

The dogs and handlers graduated during a ceremony at Syracuse's Inner Harbor last week.

Becoming co-chair of the Democratic Party in New York state will allow Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to do more of what she already does. Miner is expected to be elected co-chair of the party when members meet this week.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

New York state is now one of 19 states that has been granted a waiver that allows for more flexibility when it comes to the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law.

The change will let schools avoid a deadline requiring all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. 

The Federal Education Department approved the waivers for New York and eight other states earlier this week. Other states won waivers earlier this year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A major step in the clean up of Onondaga Lake is about to begin. Honeywell International will begin the dredging and capping of contaminated lake sediment this summer.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The first milestone of the Connective Corridor in Syracuse is now a reality. A revamped city park is now a featured link between downtown Syracuse and Syracuse University.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

All of New York state is now covered by a needle exchange program sponsored by the state health department.

Syracuse was one of the last communities to join the  program, and so far, it's working well.

The program's big silver van has a small sign that says, “Safety First: Syringe Exchange Program.” This is where IV drug users and others can exchange their dirty needles for  clean ones.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Syracuse area Republican Ann Marie Buerkle is taking a leading role in a new caucus in the House of Representatives that focuses on women.

Buerkle will be a vice chair of the Women's Policy Committee, made up of female Republican representatives in the House.

Ellen Abbott

SUNY ESF is showing off plants that will create a green roof on the new Gateway Center, which will open later this year.

This new green roof will almost be like visiting the shore of Lake Ontario.

amandabhslater / Flickr

Onondaga County could soon be saving rain in the suburbs.

Lawmakers are considering expansion of the "Save the Rain" program, which has already kept 125 million gallons of water out of the sewage treatment plant in the city of Syracuse.

Carl Wycoff / Flickr

If you are planning on hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend, expect some company. AAA expects an increase in holiday travel on the weekend that starts the summer travel season.

With a little more than a month to go before the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, recent polls show the three candidates vying for a chance to face Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the general election aren't well known, especially upstate.

One of those candidates is trying to change that.

Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos is well known on Long Island; Congressman Bob Turner has a natural base in New York City; that leaves attorney Wendy Long with the rest of the state.

Think your property taxes are too high?

Today's the day you can try to get those taxes down, by way of lowering what the town thinks your home is worth.

Some seniors are optimistic that a new senior center will rise in downtown Syracuse to replace the Ida Benderson Center that closed last fall due to budget cuts.

They're taking time to thank those who have helped them so far. Specifically, by serenading Syracuse common councilors.

There is a difference of up to 33 years of life expectancy depending on where you live in Central New York and there is no simple answer to creating equal health for all.

Economics, race and gender all figure into these health disparities but technology could play a major part in closing the healthcare gap found between many Americans.

Utica area lawmakers, activists  and residents are trying to save the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center.  The community is galvanizing its support of the facility, which has been in the area for over a century.

Ellen Abbott

The wife of former Syracuse University basketball coach Bernie Fine is suing ESPN. Laurie Fine accused the sports network of libel in a news conference at a resort in Geneva today.

Fine, flanked by her two daughters, a son-in-law and nephew, told reporters that her life was destroyed after ESPN covered allegations that her husband had sexually abused two ball boys.

A mobile command center for the state's Department of Financial Services is rolling across New York state looking to help people who may be having trouble paying their mortgage. It brings foreclosure prevention specialists to urban areas that need them.

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