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

About 2,700 families, which include 6,400 children lined up for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau distribution day in downtown Syracuse Monday. Pre-registered low-income families received toys, books and a food basket to help families get through the holiday season. And more and more, the families filing through the OnCenter are from central New York’s growing refugee community.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers on Tuesday will ask the state to consider eliminating tolls for local travelers on the New York State Thruway.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner heads to Albany Monday, one of 29 New York state electors who have pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, when the Electoral College meets to validate the November presidential election. And the vote is taking place under the shadow of potential Russian influence on the election.

Miner and several other mostly Democratic electors demanded an intelligence briefing regarding potential Russian meddling in the November presidential election.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s some personnel shuffling going on in the higher echelons of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s lame duck administration.

The new man in city hall will be former Onondaga County Court Judge Joseph Fahey. He’s coming out of retirement to become Miner’s top legal advisor, as corporation counsel, and expects to weigh in on a number of things.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Thousands of people all over the world are condemning the reported massacre of civilians in Aleppo, Syria, as a cease-fire in the eastern part of the besieged city seems to have fallen apart. And some central New Yorkers are among those raising their voice.

Sidsel Overgaard / WRVO News File Photo

Lyme disease continues to plague certain areas of central New York, and a special committee created by Onondaga County is hoping to help.

Dave Skeval, the chair of the Onondaga County Deer and Management Advisory Committee, says the goal is to reduce human’s exposure to the tick that carries the disease. That tick is often found on white-tailed deer.

"I’m looking forward to fewer people being exposed to Lyme disease and contracting Lyme disease, because it is a hideous disease, and if you contract it and it has not been diagnosed, it will ruin your life,” said Skeval.

New York State Senate

One central New York state lawmaker doesn’t want to go into special session in Albany this month to vote on legislative pay raises, at least the way it’s being discussed now.

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) says he’s opposed to voting on any kind of legislative package that links a potential pay raise to some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pet proposals.

"If there’s a proposal for a legislative pay raise tied into anything else, to me, that’s a perfect example of pay to play,” said DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New Yorkers have one last chance to offer their opinions about the future of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse. But the forum being held Wednesday night is not an event put on by the people making the decision.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt was once a major holiday shopping destination. But in recent years, more and more stores have moved out, leaving a shell of a building. And it doesn’t look like things will be changing soon.

Onondaga Community College / Facebook

Onondaga Community College is rolling out a program that will offer free tuition to students in two central New York school districts.

The OCC Advantage  is based on a similar program at Harper College near Chicago, according to OCC’s Amy Kremenek.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a new restaurant opening up in Syracuse -- but it’s a little different. It’s a teaching restaurant for Onondaga Community College, which will alternate world or regional cuisines every six months.

First up -- Pakistani food. Sarah Robin, an immigrant from Pakistan who now lives in Syracuse, is the restaurateur in residence who will be running the North Salina Street restaurant called “With Love” for the next six months.

David Rodriguez Martin / via Flickr

A 50-mile drone corridor from Rome to Syracuse will be the center of the burgeoning unmanned aircraft systems industry in central New York. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The era of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants and Motor Lodges is long gone. But a vestige of the one of the largest hospitality chains in the country remained for years in central New York, on Carrier Circle in DeWitt. Now, after years of negotiation, a deal has been struck that allows access to the property, so the iconic orange roof has finally come down.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The next piece to the revitalization of the downtown Syracuse area home to the former Hotel Syracuse will soon be in place. Developers and the city of Syracuse have struck a tax deal that will lead to a Hyatt Hotel, across the street from the Marriott Downtown Syracuse.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is wrapping up a restoration of the historic New York Central Railroad station platform along Interstate 690 in Syracuse. And that also means several ghost-like fiberglass statues will again take up their station, waiting for a train that never comes.

A couple of nuns, a soldier, a luggage handler and members of a northside family are once again waiting for the night train along Interstate 690 in Syracuse.

Duke Epolito, the Syracuse sculptor who created the series of bright white statues, installed them on the platform 35 years ago.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse’s Salvation Army welcomes a new executive director at a time when central New York is taking aim at the issue of chronic poverty.

Linda Lopez has worked in the human services field for more than 30 years in central New York. And she has seen how chronic poverty can be invasive.

Rescue Mission

Syracuse’s Rescue Mission will be serving hundreds of Thanksgiving meals today to individuals who otherwise might not have one. CEO Alan Thornton says meal preparations started early this morning to feed an estimated 2,000 individuals.

"I think we’re in the vicinity of 1,300 pounds of cooked turkey, 45 trays of stuffing, of potatoes, over 300 pies, more trays of vegetables, lots of cookies. You name it, we’re going to have it,” said Thornton.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Genetically modified food is something that’s discussed a lot. But scientists in Syracuse are trying to take that technology one step further, and create the first genetically modified wild forest tree. And with that, rest hopes that the American chestnut tree could make a comeback with a scientific nudge.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Airports could be getting some love with the current emphasis on infrastructure improvements. President-elect Donald Trump has often mentioned airports as a key part of infrastructure improvements he would like to see, and New York state continues investing in airports. And these are things local airport officials are happy to hear.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Record numbers of travelers are expected to be flying this year according to the Transportation Security Administration, and TSA officials are using the Thanksgiving holiday to remind travelers how to make the best of a busy situation.

While next Wednesday is traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year, Christina Callahan, Executive Director of Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, is expecting longer lines at the airport before then.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It started last January. Madison County residents would stuff the styrofoam that protects things like appliances or electronics into plastic bags, then toss them into blue trailers in the middle of the county’s landfill.  

According to county recycling coordinator Mary Bartlett, styrofoam takes up a lot of space in landfills, and it’s also unclear whether styrene can somehow seep into groundwater.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Siena Research Institute has released results of a survey that shows just how pervasive cyberbullying  is among teens across upstate New York.

The survey queried teens and their parents from Albany to Buffalo. First, the numbers from the teens who were polled:

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The fight to end the practice of putting teens in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center continues, and it’s taking place on two fronts.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the policy violates the Constitution, and harms young people. And groups like the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, or ACTS for short, is trying to raise awareness about the practice, with protests and discussions with county officials.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Empire Farmstead Brewery in Cazenovia has established itself as the largest farm brewery on the eastern seaboard. And a spate of new state laws, friendly to brewers, has made it possible.

It used to be that Madison County was a leading producer of hops, an ingredient in beer. Then along came Prohibition, which almost killed the brewing industry -- and the ancillary industries that supported it -- and created a series of laws unfriendly to brewers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York tow truck operators are calling on Albany to beef up the “move over” law that motorists to either slow down or move over when approaching emergency vehicles or vehicles with flashing yellow lights, like two trucks or road maintenance vehicles, on the side of the road.

There have been three deaths in recent weeks on upstate New York roadways involving motorists not paying attention to New York’s law. A state trooper, maintenance worker and tow-truck operator have all been killed by oncoming traffic while they were tending to an issue on the side of the road.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Republican Rep. John Katko is the first incumbent in more than a decade to be reelected to the 24th Congressional District. The district flipped back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in the past four congressional election cycles.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

With Hillary Clinton being the first woman nominated for president from a major political party, some voters are remembering the long hard fight for women to gain the right to vote. In Fayetteville, they're marking the moment by going to the grave of Matilda Joslyn Gage, a major player in the sufragette movement upstate. Visitors left notes, flowers, and “I voted” stickers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Board of Elections is unveiling some new software for Election Day that will allow website visitors to look at vote totals as they come in by geographic location. Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says it’s something voters have never had access to before on election night.

"The voters will know how their neighborhoods have voted and they can see how their individual vote matters," Czarny said.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Onondaga County is laying off 11 employees. County lawmakers voted Monday 10-7 to adjust the budget to eliminate $600,000 worth of payroll.

County officials say this is the end of a very difficult budget year. An $8.2 million deficit, created by stagnant sales tax growth and ballooning health care and personnel costs needed to be filled, and the county did it by offering $10,000 buyouts to employees close to retirement. But that still left $600,000 that needed to be cut. So Republican Legislator Pat Kilmartin says a shuffling of jobs and positions led to the 11 layoffs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

One of the most active Trump groups in central New York was out in full force this weekend, stumping for their candidate.

Oneida County Trump supporters carrying signs, wearing bumper stickers and waving flags got a lot of attention from passing motorists during their final rally in Rome before Election Day. It’s a group of like-minded citizens, that’s been growing organically, meeting twice a week for months. And supporters like Joseph Rezendes, who says he’s sick of career politicians, makes no apologies for supporting the controversial candidate.

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