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

The Onondaga County shared services committee approved a county-wide shared services plan Wednesday, and local governments could be in line for $5 million in savings, plus a $5 million match from the state. 

The just over two month timeline to get something done that was required by the New York forced towns, villages, school districts and city of Syracuse to spend a lot of time communicating this summer. 

Ellen Abbott

Juanita Perez Williams, a political newcomer whose grassroots campaign appealed to minority and new American voters, has won the Democratic mayoral primary in the city of Syracuse. According to unofficial election results, Perez Williams pulled in more than 52 percent of the vote in a three-way race.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

On that sunny September 11 16 years ago, many had their eyes to the sky watching the twin towers fall. Under bright blue skies in Pompey Monday morning, all eyes were on the sky as two skydivers fluttered to the earth, each carrying an American flag.

It was part of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation program that builds functional homes for disabled vets. The program is named after Frank Siller’s brother Stephen, a New York City Firefighter who lost his life 16 years ago.

Meesh / Flickr

After three years of advocacy, the Onondaga County Legislature unanimously took a stand this week against the practice of placing juveniles in solitary confinement within the county’s criminal justice system.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner will visit to Israel this weekend as part of the American Jewish Committee Project Interchange. She’ll travel with mayors from nine other U.S. cities, and meet with local and national leaders and non-profits in Israel. But there are some who don’t want Miner to go.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers passed an ethics reform law during its meeting Tuesday. The new law stems from a simmering political back and forth between county officials, which has led to the law that will limit outside income for certain elected officials.

NYS Fair / Flickr

More people visited the 2017 edition of the New York State Fair in Geddes than any other. 1,161,912 million visitors came to the fair during its 13-day run, breaking the overall attendance record set last year. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers are looking at a trio of packages targeting ethics reform. Two spring out of an ethics proposal put forth by County Executive Joanie Mahoney in June and a third targets the Mahoney administration. At the root of this flurry of reforms is a long simmering feud between the Mahoney administration and County Comptroller Bob Antonacci.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who sits on the county’s ethics board, says Antonacci’s outside income officiating basketball games and doing bookwork for personal clients creates ethics questions.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County voters will decide in November whether the county’s corrections department will move under the control of the sheriff’s department. Lawmakers voted 13 to 3 to move ahead with the referendum, despite some concerns.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Several central New York organizations are planning relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which has dumped more than 50 inches of rain across parts of southeast Texas.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County has firmed up plans for an $8.5 million renovation of the downtown Syracuse War Memorial, and taxpayers will be on the hook for about half the cost.

Tom / Flickr

Oswego County is expected to be conduct aerial spraying Monday evening along the north shore of Oneida Lake, after Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile Virus showed up in samples of mosquitoes earlier this month. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Being the only producer of wine flour on the east coast may be lonely, but one Finger Lakes entrepreneur has created a growing business.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the opioid epidemic continues across upstate New York, Naxalone, known by its brand name as Narcan, has become a critical component in stopping overdoses. The Upstate New York Poison Center is trying to drive that point home at the New York State Fair.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that a new $50 million expo center will be built at the New York State Fairgrounds near Syracuse, and work will happen quickly.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened up the first “Preview Day” of the New York State Fair near Syracuse Wednesday. The fair expanded to 13 days this year, with this first day called a preview day because some features, like the animal buildings, aren’t fully open yet. Admission to the fair today was just $1. Rides also cost $1 early in the day.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The 2017 edition of the New York State Fair opens Wednesday near Syracuse. The fair has typically opened on a Thursday, but it's opening a day early this year, with officials calling it "Preview Day."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Food is generally near the top of the list of things that draws visitors to the New York State Fair in Syracuse. And this year’s fair offers some first-ever concoctions.

Along with the sausage sandwiches and pizza frites, there are some new dining options to greet fairgoers this year -- like the Milk Bun, which melds the worlds of ice cream and donuts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State lawmakers and volunteer firefighters are putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would provide better coverage for volunteers who develop cancer because of the job they do.

Brian McQueen has been a longtime volunteer with the Whitesboro Fire Department. When he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma several years ago, he was forced to take on the cost of much of the treatment himself. He doesn’t want any other volunteers to have to face that.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A yearly procession to commemorate the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan took place in Syracuse yesterday. Organizers said the drive to abolish nuclear weapons is more important than ever in today’s political climate.

Activist Rea Kramer said we can not forget the destruction that followed the use of nuclear weapons over 70 years ago.

"I think we should all be especially anxious now because there is a president who uses the words, “fire and fury,” as a response to the threatening postures of North Korea," Kramer said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers are considering legislation that would ensure that juveniles are not thrown in solitary confinement in any of the county’s criminal justice facilities in the future.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayoral Hopeful Laura Lavine says, if elected, she would push for mayoral control of the Syracuse City School District.

kristen_a / Flickr

It’s been a busy summer for the Onondaga County Board of Elections. There were more challenges to the petition process than usual, and appeals of decisions will soon be underway. But September primary ballots are coming together.

Spring and early summer is the time political candidates go door to door asking for help getting on the ballot. Election law is very precise when it comes to who can sign petitions for particular candidates, and how election workers handle the documents.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The future of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse hinges on an independent investigation of the options, currently being overseen by the New York State Department of Transportation. In the meantime, champions of different options for the aging highway continue to butt heads.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There was a light turnout last night for the first public hearing regarding Onondaga County’s shared services proposal.

The first of three public hearings on Onondaga County’s shared services proposal will be held this evening at the East Syracuse Minoa High School. It appears there could be some keepers among a list of 95 ways to share services among governments and school districts.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney turned over a report on shared services to the county Legislature this week, as required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s shared services initiative. The ideas range from sharing things as divers as pesticide applicators to IT services.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Public Service Commission continues to gather comments on National Grid’s proposed rate hike. In Syracuse this week, the biggest crowd turned out so far in a series of five hearings across the state. And most were opposed to the idea.

Senator John A. DeFrancisco Facebook page

Update:

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The threat from tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease is at an all time high in New York state. At a recent forum sponsored by the New York State Department of Health and state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), experts hope more information about prevention of the bacterial disease can reduce the number of people that are infected.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The first draft of Onondaga County’s shared services plan calls for creation of a BOCES-like entity intended to help local governments efforts to become more efficient.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says it was learning the way BOCES facilitates sharing services among local school districts that inspired the proposed Greater Syracuse Shared Services Consortium.

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