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 residential growth in downtown Syracuse shows no sign of slowing down, with the newest property almost filled.

When Blue Cross/Blue Shield moved it’s offices to the suburbs in 2008, it left a gaping hole in downtown Syracuse. The Warren Street complex actually is made up of four buildings, and that’s what Graziano Zazzara has repurposed into dozens of luxury apartments.

"We opened up four months ago, started renting apartments, and we have one left out of 89," Zazzara said. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The impact of the more than a billion dollars the state has invested for economic development in central New York should be kicking in soon, according to state officials.

Syracuse University photo by Stephen Sartori

A study of the central New York labor market finds a disconnect between people looking for jobs and organizations trying to hire.

The non-profit Onondaga Citizens League conducted a year-long study of the employment picture in the region, called ““How CNY Works.” The report includes some positive statistics – like the fastest-growing occupation (computer and information research scientists), and the industries with the most growth (management of companies and enterprises).

Tony Alter / Flickr

The city of Syracuse is looking for public input regarding a new proposed telecommunications ordinance. It could mean stronger cell phone connections for certain customers.

Central New York Regional Economic Development Council / File

Plans for creating an inland cargo port in the central New York remain in limbo. The proposal for an inland port was part of an Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant , that the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council won in 2015.

When New York state approved a multi-billion dollar bailout for upstate nuclear power plants last year, it breathed life back into an Onondaga Community College program that trains nuclear power plant technicians.

Cornell University

According to Cornell University researchers, the black bear population is growing in parts of New York state. Scientists are continuing to track the black bear numbers, and hope to get some help from the public going forward.

Black bears are encountering humans in upstate New York now more than ever, according to Cornell doctoral student Catherine Sun. She says research published earlier this year shows bear population expanding from traditional ranges in the Southern Tier.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A report released Thursday chronicles the issues facing undocumented workers at dairy farms across Upstate New York. The study contends that growth of the dairy industry in New York state in recent years has been achieved on the backs of immigrant farm workers who have few labor rights.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Municipalities in Onondaga County are taking the first step to creating a shared services plan. It’s part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to face governments to work together in order to to save taxpayer dollars. The state is requiring all counties to come up with a plan with their local governments.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney called a meeting of supervisors and mayors from across Onondaga County to outline a timetable for creating this county-wide plan for sharing services.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is expected to break ground this fall on a new environmental education center at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville – the second part of an almost $17 million upgrade of the busiest state park in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

New York state is in the midst of getting public input for its version of the Every Student Succeeds Act. That federal legislation, also known as ESSA, is what is following the No Child Left Behind law. The state is conducting 13 public hearings to get feedback on a proposal that lets states have more leeway as they develop education priorities.

Among other things, New York’s draft ESSA plan takes some of the emphasis on math and English language arts and spreads it to science and social studies. That makes social studies teachers kuje Nick Stamoulacatos happy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s been two years since the state announced a goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2020. Achieving that goal is on the horizon, according to one local health agency.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The emergency room at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse is on alert after a rash of overdose cases involving synthetic marijuana in recent days

On May 24, there were 11 cases in the ER of people overdosing on synthetic pot, which is also known as spike or spice. The next day there were five more overdoses, and reportedly more in following days.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

This year’s soggy spring has farmers in central New York scrambling. Many farms are two weeks behind in their planting schedules.

On a clear day, there’s quite a vista from farmer Dan Palladino’s hilltop farm in the town of Pompey.

"You can see all the way to Sodus, and Chimney Bluffs there. Over there is Oneida Lake, and over there are the foothills of the Adirondacks, and you can see Canastota," Palladino said, describing the view.

But there haven’t been too many of those clear days this rain-soaked spring. And it’s messing up more than the view.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Medical students graduating from SUNY Upstate Medical University this spring now move to their residencies, with the goal of someday becoming a physician. Some have made a promise to keep in mind the most needy patients once they start practicing.

Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income adults and children, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Reimbursement rates are historically low, and some estimates say one-third of all physicians don’t accept Medicaid patients because of that. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s only a little more than a week left for the public to weigh in on plans to restore wildlife and recreation on Onondaga Lake. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will then put together a final plan for the lake.

Ellen Abbott

Researchers at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Penn State have come up with a way to tell whether a child has suffered a concussion, and how severe it is. And all it takes is a swab of saliva.

More than 2 million children and teens suffer from concussions every year. And there are not a lot of clinically proven methods to diagnose the severity of these head injuries, or the children’s prognosis. That could be changing, after researchers identified an accurate biomarker that can be used as a diagnostic tool.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continue asking for input into a series of restoration projects for Onondaga Lake, one group of central New Yorkers feels left out. Some southside Syracuse residents want officials to take into account a problem that’s plagued them for years -- a muddy, inaccessible Onondaga Creek.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Monday night, 130 people were allowed in to what Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) labeled a town hall event, televised live by CNY Central’s NBC3/CBS5 television stations last night. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Town halls have become the political hot potato for members of Congress ever since Donald Trump became president. Activists have been dogging lawmakers since Trump’s inauguration, and one of their big complaints has been a lack of forums to air out their concern. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Trade is getting pushed to the top of the agenda for Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus). Katko says unfair trade practices are hurting businesses and taking away jobs in central New York.

The Republican says it’s happening on a couple of fronts -- from other nations dumping heavily subsidized products on the world market so American products can’t compete, to Canadian protectionist policies that have make it difficult for central New York dairy farms to sell their product.

Luke H. Gordon / Flickr

Syracuse City Hall is fine tuning an open data policy, after a two-week public comment period.

The policy is expected to launch later this month, and offers residents an easy way to access to public information involving the work of city government. Mayor Stephanie Miner says so far, the city has gotten good feedback about the proposed policy.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump will not interfere with the bureau’s investigation into Russian hacking of the 2016 presidential election.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she is planning on vetoing the budget approved by the Syracuse Common Council this week. One of her big beefs with the budget is the elimination of funding for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.

The city has subsidized the land bank for the last four years, at the rate of $1.5 million a year. The agency, which is not a city department, buys tax delinquent properties seized by the city and either demolishes them or puts them up for sale. It also is funded through state grants.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Cayuga County officials want to prevent the spread an invasive species in Cayuga Lake, before it becomes impossible to contain.

Cayuga County Legislature Chair Keith Batman calls it a “devil weed.” He’s talking about hydrilla, one of the most invasive aquatic species in the world. It’s plagued Cayuga Lake for six years now, and measures to eradicate hydrilla in the Cayuga Inlet near Ithaca using herbicides have been successful. But last year, it was spotted further north in the lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins is officially in the race for mayor of Syracuse. 

Hawkins last ran for the office 12 years ago, on a “Sustainable Syracuse” platform. He’s retrofitting that same slogan for 2017. 

“What I’m talking with sustainability -- and this is the vision we want to go in the next four to eight years -- is a city that has a sustainable prosperity," Hawkins said. "Sustainable fiscally, economically and ecologically.”

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo / via Flickr

The future of the much maligned gondola proposed for the New York State Fair is in flux. It’s a matter of money.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said it all comes down to priorities. Building an Expo Center that would attract events, especially horse shows, is the most important project stemming from a task force deciding how to spend $70 million in state dollars earmarked for state fair renovations. And Mahoney said initial plans for an 80,000-square-foot facility, were apparently not big enough.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner closed the book on Trump Tuesdays in Syracuse, a series of weekly outdoor meetings to highlight the issues they are concerned about in a Trump’s presidency. But the mayor declared the effort far from over.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A May Day rally in Syracuse Monday focused on immigrants, like many others around the country.

May Day, also called International Workers’ Day, has been around for more than a century, started by laborers in Chicago who marched for an eight-hour workday at the end of the 19th century. And Nikeeta Slade of the Worker’s Center of Central New York wanted that history front and center at the Syracuse rally.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The state and federal governments want to make up for decades lost enjoying Onondaga Lake because of massive pollution. They have a plan that includes 20 restoration projects along the shore of a lake once called the most polluted in America.

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