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

There’s a new park in the city of Syracuse. The new green space is part of a long term plan to revitalize the major corridor on the city’s south side.

The Sankofa Park on South Salina Street replaces an abandoned parking lot with greenery, benches, a sandbox, and a stage. Sankofa is a word that comes from the Akan language of Ghana, which means “reach back and get it.”

City of Syracuse

The president of Syracuse’s Police Benevolent Association is calling for more cops on the street, in the wake of a violent stretch in the city. Over the 4th of July weekend, 10 people were shot in a 24-hour span.

In a letter to the editor on Syracuse.com, PBA president Jeff Piedmonte suggests residents contact Mayor Stephanie Miner, urging her to hire 50 more police officers. Piedmonte says there are currently 417 police officers on the streets, the lowest number since the 1970s. He says that’s dangerously low, especially at a time of an uptick in crime.

Empire State Development

Its last call for anyone with ideas on how to use state dollars to transform the central New York economy as the Regional Development Council is looking to get all the input it can before applying to win some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s upstate revitalization money.

In a way, this round of economic competition, which pits upstate regions against each other to see who has the best ideas to grow local economies, has more at stake than past competitions.

G155 / Flickr

The Carol Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of Central New York is going national.  

Pink Outside the Box is a 12-week fund raising campaign that will encourage supporters to raise money in unique ways with the funds helping researchers at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. 

One researcher, Dr. Debashis Ghosh, is hoping to use some of the money raised on a project that could prevent breast cancer.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The parking landscape is changing in the city of Syracuse. Part of it is due to technology, and part of it due to the resurgence of downtown as a destination.

On-street parking in downtown Syracuse has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the standalone silver parking meters waiting for change. Instead, visitors are now accustomed to the big brown pay stations that take cash or credit cards and spit out a receipt for the dashboard.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County is ready to okay a second aerial spraying to kill mosquitoes that carry Eastern Equine Encephalitis near the Cicero swamp if the virus turns up again. County officials made the announcement in a woman’s backyard -- a woman who lived to tell the tale of EEE.

Denise Broton started feeling sick about this time last year, during a camping trip to the Adirondacks.

“You don’t survive EEE. I’m the first person in Onondaga County and the first person in the United States over the last 30 years, I guess, to have survived it,” Broton says.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

More than 100 men, women and children marched through an Eastside Syracuse neighborhood Monday night, determined to take back their community from a rash of violence that has marked this summer.  

Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, there were 10 shootings in less than 24 hours. In addition, two people were killed, including a teenager.  

Members of the clergy can many times be on the front line in the fight against drug addictions. Ministers, rabbis and priests are often the first people who become aware of an addiction problem in an individual or family.

With that knowledge, SUNY Upstate has started offering the tools local clergy may need to deal with similar situations.

Darryl Banks, an elder at the Mt. Carmel Seventh Day Adventist Church on Syracuse’s south side, says sometimes it’s easier for him to hear a story of addiction than anyone else. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The village of Minoa is combining education with wastewater cleaning tactics at its wastewater treatment plant at it “Cleanwater Education and Research Facility.”

One of the wastewater issues facing communities today is the amount pharmaceuticals that end up in water that comes out of sewage treatment systems. There are concerns about possible effects on humans as well as fish and wildlife.

One way to get rid of the remnants of pharmaceuticals is through a biological wetland that acts as kind of filter, according to former Neil Murphy, former president of SUNY ESF. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says upstate New York is reaping the economic benefits of renewed attention from the Cuomo administration.  

Inficon, a company out of East Syracuse that makes scientific instrumentation, has been around for 25 years. And in that time, it’s quadrupled sales. So at this point, there were some tough decisions to be made according to the company’s president Peter Maier.

"It was time for us to either expand here, or somewhere else. Of course we prefer to do it here,” said Maier. “So it was a story of whether we could expand and where we could do that."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Media Company


The Upstate Cancer Center, in Syracuse, is expanding its mammography screening program, which focuses on residents who live in public housing.

The program, called She Matters, has spent the last year encouraging women over the age of 40 from Pioneer Homes, a predominately African-American housing complex in downtown Syracuse, to get the breast cancer detecting tests.  Since then, 88 women have received the tests, with one woman being diagnosed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Agriculture Council wants you to buy local produce. A campaign has kicked off this June to encourage more people to spend food dollars on items grown in Onondaga County.

Brian Reeves, of Reeves Farm in Baldwinsville, says getting people to buy local is in part a matter of getting the word out.

“Sometimes I think it’s a lack of information.  If a consumer knew more often that it was local or fresher they would prefer it,” Reeves says.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York State is investing millions into the state park system with some high profile Central New York parks jumping in on the funding.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Federal authorities are ratcheting up terror warnings across the country in advance of this Fourth of July holiday weekend.  

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are asking local law enforcement officials to be prepared for any potential terrorist activity. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says this alert reflects a new kind of radicalization.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University has joined the ranks of college campuses that are now smoke free.

The ban goes in effect this month.  Work crews dismantled all of the cigarette butt receptacles and signs went up alerting anyone to the new policy, which prohibits the use of all tobacco products -- cigarettes, cigars, snuff, pipes,  and chewing tobacco.  

Gail Grozalis, executive director of the University Wellness Initiative, says vaping is also on the list.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A Syracuse man, who was being a good Samaritan, is believed to have drowned after a freak accident during Tuesday night’s torrential rains.

Authorities believe 28-year old Brandon Closure was swept away into the city’s storm sewer system, after he accidentally stepped into an open manhole blown open by surging rain water. He was trying to help a disabled motorist at the corner of Croly and East Fayette Streets on Syracuse’s eastside.  

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Now that school’s out, the Syracuse City School District will start offering breakfast and lunch to inner city children through its Summer Food Service Program.  But the program doesn’t reach all the children who may be going hungry without that daily breakfast, lunch and snack they get during the school year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

With so-called “swatting” attacks on the rise across the country and central New York, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced a new federal bill to crack down on the practice. Swatting involves deliberate false alarms called into authorities that often cause deployment of a police SWAT team.  

Swatting will become a federal crime Schumer has anything do with it.  

Bruno Raymond / Flickr

So far, this month has been the fourth rainiest June in central New York, measuring at more than seven inches. For farmers that’s been a little bit of a mixed bag.  

The crop that’s suffered the most is strawberries. Baldwinsville farmer Brian Reeves says the berry does not mix well with a lot of rain.

Joseph Morris / Flickr

Regulations surrounding the use of electronic cigarettes and the liquid nicotine that fuels them continue to increase in New York state, but anti-smoking activists are hoping for more.

The Clean Indoor Air Act of 2003 prohibited smoking in public places, but that doesn’t automatically apply to the newest trend in tobacco use, e-cigarettes, says American Heart Association Spokeswoman Kristy Smorol.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

It was another step forward in the restoration of the historic Hotel Syracuse Thursday with the renaming of the iconic hotel.


It’s a transition from a name that’s meant memories for over 90 years in Syracuse, to a name travelers across the world recognize. 

"The Hotel Syracuse moniker, brand, is going to retire," declared hotel owner Ed Riley. "The new name of this hotel, and the new partnership we will have, will be the Marriott Downtown Syracuse.”

Onondaga County

Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says he is optimistic there will be an announcement soon regarding an opening act for the county’s new amphitheater on Onondaga Lake.

“We’ve had a much shorter time period to put one together than what most other venues have.  They usually have a year and a half to get things booked.  We’ve only had 60 days.  But it’s going to happen.”  

McMahon also points out that the New York State Fair has had difficulty finding acts for the Grandstand at the fair this year.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Downtown Committee of Syracuse is celebrating its 40th birthday. The group that was created in 1975 is watching over a neighborhood that’s dramatically changed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Dozens of central New Yorkers demonstrated during a busy noon hour in Syracuse’s Clinton Square Tuesday, calling attention to racism in the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina shootings at a historic black church

During a hot, muggy midday, protesters made their way around the Farmer’s Market in Clinton Square to the Jerry Rescue monument, a symbol of Syracuse’s anti-slavery past, chanting against violence and racism.

Amelia Lefevre of the Syracuse Peace Council says that history can’t be forgotten.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse University’s new athletic director is promising strong academics and winning teams as he was introduced to the public by Syracuse University. Mark Coyle is leaving his job as athletic director at Boise State University, to take the helm of an athletic department that’s seen its share of troubles lately.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s another state-driven economic development competition taking place in central New York in coming months. This contest is based on a similar successful program in Buffalo called 43North.

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $3 million dollar GENIUS NY business competition open to data-centric technology companies from all over the world, and hosted by the The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.  

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

With a Supreme Court ruling expected in the coming days, the future of the Affordable Care Act is in the hands of the justices. One local lawmaker expects there will be changes to the controversial health care law, one way or the other.

Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) says he has no idea which way the court will come down on King v. Burwell. That’s the case that could cripple the law, especially in the 36 states that aren’t subsidizing health care on their own, but letting the federal government do it.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Central New York Regional Economic Development Council is getting ready to put together a proposal for the latest competition for state economic development dollars.  

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News file photo

The city of Syracuse is moving ahead with a strategy to improve access to broadband for businesses and residents.  

The problem is there aren’t enough affordable, high speed internet broadband options for residents or businesses in Syracuse. And that means that Syracuse isn’t competing on a level playing field with other cities when it comes to economic development, says Ben Walsh, Syracuse’s deputy commissioner of neighborhoods and business development.

As summer approaches, the city of Syracuse is again cracking down on a sector that's caused trouble in low-income neighborhoods in the past, corner stores.

City hall’s crackdown on corner stores is meant to curb what Mayor Stephanie Miner has in the past called a scourge in many neighborhoods -- corner stores that have health and safety issues, leading to neighborhood complaints.