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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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center / Facebook

St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is continuing to partner with smaller regional hospitals throughout upstate New York. The latest venture is a collaboration with Rome Memorial Hospital.


Rome Memorial will still operate as an independent, separately licensed hospital, with local control, but a new agreement allows patients in Rome to have access to technology and services from the much bigger hospital in Syracuse.

kristen_a / Flickr

There’s been an unprecedented surge in voter interest in next month’s presidential primary in New York State. Central New Yorkers are among the many that want to cast a ballot April 19.

The deadline for new voters to register in a political party and then be eligible to vote in New York’s presidential primary is Friday, March 25.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Standardized test season is approaching for students across New York state. State Education Department officials are hoping there won’t be a repeat of last year, when 20 percent of students statewide boycotted tests given to third to eighth graders. But the opt-out movement is still alive.

Jamie McNair of Opt Out CNY admits the state has made some changes in the standardized testing regimen in the wake of widespread parental concern over the tests in recent years. But he’s not terribly impressed.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) says Tuesday's attacks in Brussels exposes security gaps at airports worldwide, and he says it’s an issue he’s been working on a while.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The New York State Farm Bureau is among the most vocal groups a proposed $15 dollar minimum wage in the state. They’re asking New Yorkers to put the pressure on state lawmakers who will decide whether to include the increase in the state budget.


Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The wraps are off the early design for a new Perseverance Park in downtown Syracuse. The idea is to create a park with public art that draws people to the area on South Salina Street between Armory and Clinton Squares..

Jerry Van Eyck, of the New York design firm !melk, has been pondering Perseverance Park on South Salina Street for months now.

“It’s a space that’s the epicenter of downtown that is very underwhelmed and underwhelming, and we intend to change that,” said Van Eyck

Gregory Monroe / Flickr

The city of Syracuse is taking action in the wake of stories about lead in drinking water in some central New York schools. 

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the city will be testing for lead in water in each of the city’s public schools to make sure no high lead levels are lurking that could harm children.

Satsuma61 / Flickr

The millennial generation will save us all, according to a couple of Le Moyne graduates who have authored books on the subject. The pair brought their perspective to Syracuse this week.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has become the target of political flak from both Democrats and Republicans in published reports this week. Miner, a Democrat, sees it as hyper partisanship run amok.

The first complaint comes from the central New York Area Labor Federation, AFL CIO. Leaders criticized the mayor for not publicly challenging fellow Syracusan and Republican State Senator John DeFrancisco for his opposition to the proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $15 an hour.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

During this election season, Syracuse political memorabilia collector Dick Woodworth is dusting off his mammoth collection of political pins, posters, buttons and coins. For those who wade through Woodworth’s collection, it can be like getting a history lesson.

Courtesy of the Onondaga Historical Association Collections

Work will start soon on the restoration of Gustav Stickley’s Syracuse home, one of the founders of the arts and crafts movement in this country. It will become a museum dedicated to the Stickley Craftsman design, with a twist.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The debate over increasing New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is hitting the streets in one small upstate New York community. Businesses in Seneca County are actively fighting the proposal.

There has been a resolution to a contract dispute between Onondaga County and its biggest union.

A majority of the 2,300 CSEA workers voted Thursday to approve the latest contract offer from Onondaga County. It follows months of negotiations between the two sides. During that time members voted down contracts offers three times and the union filed an improper labor practice charge against the county last month after the legislature voted to impose a three-year contract on workers 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There will be some life at the former Hotel Syracuse this weekend for the first time in over a decade. Hotel Developer Ed Riley is allowing the the St. Patrick’s parade committee to hold a couple of private events in the hotel’s lobby Friday and Saturday.

“This year it’s just very low key," Riley said. "It’s really for the parade and the parade committee to assist them with maybe raising some money and maybe making sure that continues on as a Syracuse tradition for many years.”  

Riley said the historic hotel is already booked a couple of days.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

One of the issues coming up in the discussion of raising New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour is the effect on nonprofits across the state.  

The Elmcrest Children’s Center has been taking care of central New York’s most damaged children since 1845 -- youngsters with developmental disabilities, and emotional and mental health issues. Executive director Joseph Geglia says its future could be in peril if it's forced to increase employees pay to $15 dollars an hour. He estimates it would add an extra $2 million to his budget a year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A proposal to raise New York’s minimum wage is taking center stage in this year’s budget negotiations in Albany. And with just over three weeks left before a budget deadline, the stakes are getting higher and noise on both sides is getting louder.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s breast cancer initiative wants to increase the number of women that undergo mammography by 10 percent over the next year. But doctor's say there is room for improvement in screening for the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in New York state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

ACR Health in Syracuse is lobbying hard for proposed state legislation that would allow children under the age of 18 to get access to HIV prevention medication without parental consent.  

Marissa Rice runs the youth services program at ACR Health. She says there’s a certain population in central New York that could really benefit from access to PrEP, a drug which prevents transmission of HIV -- lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens between the ages of 15 add 18, who have been forced into sex trafficking.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney used her State of the County speech last night to push the concept of consolidated government.  

Mahoney ran down a litany of speeches, quotes, editorials and newspaper articles from the last 23 years that sounded eerily familiar to the soundbites coming out of today’s Consensus CNY forums. Consensus is the community group that’s proposing 51 ways to modernize government, including creation of a metropolitan government. Mahoney explained why the look at past efforts:


A tracking system that shows customers where Centro buses are in real time is in a test stage in Syracuse.

Bus Tracker is already in place in Centro’s smaller markets, Auburn, Oswego, Rome and Utica. But the bus company just finished geocoding the system in Syracuse. Centro spokesman Steve Koegel says now that’s done, patrons can actually see buses moving along a bus route in Syracuse.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

Residents are being asked to offer up opinions about government consolidation tonight at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, the latest public forum about modernizing the way government runs in Onondaga County.  It’s the first session since Consensus CNY decided to take the public engagement portion of the process into mid-Spring.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Residents of Onondaga County will have more time to have their say about reorganizing local government. There have been calls for more time to look at an 80-page report that includes 51 recommendations for changing the way government works in central New York.

The deadline for public comment had been March 16. But Friday morning, Consensus CNY extended the comment period by six weeks, to May 1.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new Interstate 81 isn’t the only change in central New York’s transportation system  on the horizon.  The Syracuse Metropolitan Area Regional Transportation Council has started looking at the feasibility of light rail or bus rapid transit along certain corridors in Syracuse.

Council Director Jim D’Agostino says the Syracuse Metropolitan Area Regional Transit Study, or SMART, actually grew out of the Interstate 81 discussion.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says the recent lawsuit between the city of Syracuse and the developers of the Inner Harbor project hurts Central New York. The city sued COR Development after COR went to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Agency for tax breaks on the project. The city said the developer agree to not seek tax breaks from the county. But earlier this week, a judge dismissed the suit, saying there was no proof of an agreement.

Mahoney says ultimately litigation like this, sends a negative message to anyone that wants to do business in Syracuse.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers want to try out a new job training program for small and medium sized manufacturers in central New York. The state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) wants to spend $500,000 to create a way to train a new pool of workers at a time when a large number of these workers are reaching retirement age.

The average age of an employee in manufacturing today is 56. That’s why Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, says a crisis is brewing when it comes time for companies to replace those workers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

For the first time in almost 50 years, Le Moyne College is offering classes in downtown Syracuse.  

There’s no room for growth at Le Moyne’s Salt Springs Road Campus. So the school rented out a long-vacant wing of the Larned M & T Building on Hanover Square, to house its new occupational therapy program. President Linda LeMura says this brings the Jesuit school back downtown, where classes were first held in 1946.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A State Supreme Court Judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city of Syracuse against COR Development.

At the center of the legal action -- tax breaks, and whether the developer promised the city that they wouldn’t seek any. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The way presidents are picked is changing according to central New York Bernie Sanders supporters. And, they say that plays right into the Vermont Democrat’s campaign.

The Syracuse millenials who support Sanders say they aren’t relying on political commercials and biographies from the candidates to make their political decisions.

As New York state prepares to restore the former New York Central train platform next to Interstate 690 in Syracuse, arts enthusiasts want to ensure that the public art on that platform, stays.

They’ve been waiting for the night train for over 30 years. White statues that mimic passengers on a crumbling train platform. They have no faces, these ghostlike commuters, with only a splash of color when red scarves mysteriously appear around their necks every winter, reminding passersby of a time when trains and not cars carried most central New Yorkers in and out of Syracuse.    

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York’s Democratic primary isn't until mid-April. Hillary Clinton is viewed as the favorite, after moving to New York and getting elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. But, there is a dedicated group of volunteers who are working for the other candidate in the democratic race, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont