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

As the $57 million renovation of the Hotel Syracuse continues, operators want the public to pass along stories and artifacts they may have about the historic building. The history of the hotel, which opened in 1924, is very much a part of the renovation that will turn it into a Marriot Downtown Syracuse.

And while the team renovating the hotel is asking people for their memories, they continue to find iconic items hidden behind years of remodeling. Because you never know what’s going to turn up as crews dismantle the Hotel Syracuse to its bare bones.

It doesn’t seem like central New York Republicans have settled in on any of the candidates looking for the GOP presidential nomination, at least so far. And last week’s Republican debate may have winnowed the field for some local political junkies, but only by a bit.


A central New York congressman, who has long supported Planned Parenthood, is calling for an investigation into the agency, in light of the videos showing Planned Parenthood officials apparently discussing how the group provides researchers body parts from aborted fetuses.   

Rep. Richard Hanna, the 22nd District representative, says the videos are disturbing.

“I’ve asked for an investigation into this, and I think Congress will do one.  My hope is that it’s deliberate, fair, thoughtful and inclusive.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Construction of a new cultural center at the old French fort along Onondaga Lake begins this week. The new Skä·noñh Great Law of Peace Center will take the place of the former Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois museum site. The new cultural center will tell the history of the Onondaga Nation, from their perspective.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A packed house at Syracuse City Hall last night told the New York State Public Service Commission that Syracuse and central New York needs more choice, better service and lower prices when for their cable and internet service. More than 100 people crammed into the Syracuse hearing, one over several being held across the state this summer.

Helen Dewey, runs a business strategy company on Syracuse’s near west side. But she told commissioners it’s a technical struggle.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) wants to raise awareness about Lyme disease. And he’s hoping some federal legislation can provide relief for victims of the tick borne ailment.

“I would doubt if anyone who hears this doesn’t know somebody affected by it,” said Hanna.

“It” is Lyme disease, a tick borne illness that is affecting more and more people across the country and in upstate New York. Hanna’s hoping that a bill called the 21 Century Cures Act, can make a dent into discovering the mysteries of Lyme disease.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

Onondaga County has the funds set aside that would create plans for a swimmable beach on Onondaga Lake.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney believes recent studies that have deemed parts of the lake is clean enough to swim in brings the reality of a beach closer.

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Officials continue to track the movement of the Emerald Ash Borer in Central New York.

Jessi Lyons of the Onondaga County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force says the parts of the Syracuse areas that are seeing the most activity right now are in transportation corridors.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

A vote on a cyber security bill is expected soon in the U.S. Senate.

The proposal would overhaul the nation’s cyber security laws, and senate leaders are hoping to move on it before lawmakers leave town for an August recess later this week.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) though has some concerns about the bill, especially how US companies would lose access to certain software that hackers use to break into networks. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

After sitting unnoticed amidst weeds for two decades behind the Museum of Science and Technology in Syracuse’s Armory Square, a section of the Berlin Wall is now the centerpiece of new peace garden. The slab of concrete that was a sign of the end of the Cold War, thanks to  an anonymous donor 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An apartment building geared towards students is going up in the shadow of Syracuse University. The new complex reflects a real estate sector that developers say has been neglected.

A long-vacant medical building has been torn down, and in its place a six story 54-unit student apartment complex is being built on University Avenue. The $18 million project has been a dream of Syracuse University grad Jared Hutter, a lead developer on the project, ever since he and his college roommate lived together in a house on Madison street in Syracuse a decade ago.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There was no cake, but Medicare’s 50th birthday was serenaded by a few dozen Central New Yorkers in downtown Syracuse Thursday. 

Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law in 1965, and have been providing medical care for the poor and elderly ever since.  Robert O’Connor of Onondaga County’s AARP, says the milestone is worth noting.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The final piece in the Onondaga County's Lakeview Amphitheater project is in place. Country singer Miranda Lambert has been inked as the first artist to play the venue. It’s taken just a little over year to get the sometimes controversial project ready for prime time.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Country music superstar Miranda Lambert will be the inaugural act at Onondaga County’s newly constructed Lakeview Amphitheater.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced Wednesday that Lambert will appear September 3. Even though that leaves promoters with five weeks to sell tickets, Mahoney is optimistic there will be a full house.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Dozens of Central New Yorkers gathered on the lawn in front of the East Genesee Street offices of Planned Parenthood in Syracuse Tuesday, saying they were spurred into action by undercover videos of the agency's executives apparently talking about the sale of body parts culled from aborted fetuses for medical research. 

"When somebody’s looking to find money to buy a Lamborghini, and is looking to sell body parts to do that, it’s a new low,” said one protester at Tuesday's rally.

Others at the rally shared the same sentiment.

Andrew Malone / Flickr

As egg prices continue to rise across the country because of the avian flu outbreak, lawmakers are proposing cutting $500 million in research funding from the federal budget that would look into ways to deal with the devastating bird flu. 

Sen. Charles Schumer calls these proposed Agriculture Department cuts mindless.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

The Public Service Commission comes to Syracuse this summer to find out what internet and cable access is like for residents of the city.  And there won’t be many positives to take away, if they hear the same thing residents are telling Mayor Stephanie Miner.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Don’t expect the decision last week by the New York State Wage Board to boost the minimum wage for New York’s fast food workers to $15 an hour to be the end of the story. At least one central New York lawmaker expects this to be the beginning of a bigger debate.

For Syracuse-area Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, there’s no question that the state’s minimum wage should be upped to $15 an hour for everyone.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities

Disabled Veterans are getting a crash course in how to become entrepreneurs this week in Syracuse.

Dan Piston spent six years in the Navy.  When he got out two years ago, he realized he had a passion for the health and fitness field. And wanted to put that In action by doing something like owning a gym.

"I do not have much training in business. Right now my undergrad degree is in health and exercise science. And I’ve always had an interest in owning a business, but I didn’t know how to do it, or where to get started,” said Piston.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse hopes to use a $10 million infusion from a New York State Assembly fund for infrastructure as a springboard to even more cash to help repair the crumbling waterlines and sewer pipes that dog the city.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A central New York Mentorship program that pairs grandparents with first and second graders could become the victim of federal budget cuts.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says this funding is essential for the grandparents who help in Syracuse classrooms, by way of the Senior Corp Chapter in the city of Syracuse.

Volunteer Colleen Chestnut works with these kids in the Syracuse City School District, and doesn’t want to see the program go away.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

SUNY faculty and students are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would mean more money for the state university system.  

Michael Lyon, professor at Upstate Medical University, knows what it’s like to be buried in student debt.

"I finished paying for my education when my first adult child started college. So it was a never-ending payment,” said Lyon.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A New York State Supreme Court judge today reserved judgment in the case of Syracuse Common Councilors versus Mayor Stephanie Miner’s administration over a computer use policy.  

A majority of the councilors are suing the mayor’s office over requests to sign the agreement, which the lawmakers say allows the administration access their confidential communication and research.  

Private attorney Paul Curtin represented the councilors in court, and is hopeful this conflict can be solved without Judge Hugh Gilbert getting involved.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Democrats in the New York State Assembly have come through with some cash for Crouse Hospital in Syracuse to help fund its opioid and heroin abuse program.  

The majority conference is committing $400,000 to Crouse, which runs the only methadone program in the region. It’s struggling to keep up with demand spurred by the recent spike in heroin and opiate addiction across the country and in central New York. Right now the program serves 600 patients; another 500 are on a waiting list. The hospital treats patients who are from the Southern Tier to the North Country.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

One of Albany’s so-called “three men in a room” is touring upstate New York to get a feel for the problems facing the area. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who along with State Senate Leader John Flanagan represent the legislature in budget negotiations with the governor, started his tour Tuesday in Syracuse

New York State Public Service Commission

The 315 area code region is going to be joined by a new area code.

The North American Numbering Plan Administrator says 680 will be the new area code assigned to new phone numbers in the 315 area starting in 2017.

Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Syracuse) doesn’t think it’ll be a big deal for residents to get used to the new numbers.

“Most people are using cell phones now anyway, and you load in your most commonly used numbers with the area code, so I don’t think it will be that much of a big deal after a few months, everyone will get used to it,” said Stirpe.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The numbers of synthetic marijuana cases called into the Upstate New York Poison Center continues to be off the charts. Officials say there could be more than 800 by the end of the year if the cases don’t abate.

David Guo / Flickr

U.S Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he's worried about proposed legislation that would allow 84-foot-long trucks on highways. Schumer says the excessively long tandem trailer trucks are just too dangerous for the roads.

The Syracuse Nationals, billed as the biggest car show in the northeast, officially starts today. The Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau figures the Syracuse Nationals will bring between $10-13 million into Central New York. While that's a big economic impact for a weekend event, organizer Bob O'Connor says people tend to come early and stay longer.

Mike Saechang / Flickr

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D- N.Y.) is hoping to stop illegal gun trafficking, in an attempt to prevent gun violence.  She has introduced bipartisan legislation that would make gun trafficking a federal crime and give law enforcement more power to investigate and prosecute gun traffickers and their entire criminal network. 

“We’re talking about the easy access that a criminal has who can’t get a weapon if they go into a regular licensed gun dealer,” said Gillibrand.