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

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick held a news conference in Syracuse Wednesday, where he announced that his office is ending its grand jury investigation into sexual abuse allegations against former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.

It was a rare yes vote on a gambling issue in the Onondaga County Legislature Tuesday.  The prospect of a convention center hotel makes the possibility of a racino more palatable to lawmakers.

A plan to ground the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department's Air One helicopter was scrapped by county lawmakers Tuesday.  Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted against a proposal to sell the airship as surplus. 

Construction is starting on Loguen's Crossing in Syracuse, a redevelopment project located on ten acres of the former Kennedy Square Apartment complex off East Fayette Street on the city's east side.  COR Development is joining forces with the Upstate Medical University on the job.  And COR president Steve Aiello says it changes the whole neighborhood.

The Syracuse Police Department has changed some policies regarding allegations of sex abuse that come into the department, in the wake of the Bernie Fine investigation.  Fine is the former assistant S-U   Basketball coach who is accused of sexually molesting three young men, at different times since 1990 .   Police Chief Frank Fowler says an initial allegation came into the department in 2002, from Bobby Davis, a former Ballboy with the team.  Fowler says in a brief conversation, Davis told a detective he'd been molested in 1990 at Fine's home.

Keeping your holiday shopping dollars local can also boost the economy of Central New York.  That's one reason Syracuse First founder Chris Fowler is encouraging shoppers to consider buying local as they head out to stores this holiday season.  

The Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Baldwinsville will begin packaging products in 24-ounce cans starting next spring.  A$7.6 million investment in the brewery is also going to allow the plant to increase its production by 30% as well.  All this secures the long term future of the brewery in Central New York according to general manager Steve McCormick.   He says this recent expansion, that was precipitated by a $900,000  capital grant from New York State,  also means more announcements will be coming next year.

The stage lights again are back on at the Landmark Theatre in Downtown Syracuse.  A  stage house expansion and renovation of the historic theatre is done, with a grand reopening celebration Fridat night, and a performance by comedian Bill Cosby Saturday night. Landmark Executive Director Denise DerRenzo says the changes mostly stretch from the proscenium stage back.

Catholics across Central New York  are learning a new translation of the Roman Missal, the basis for mass.  It's a change that goes into effect the first week of advent, which is the last week in November this year.    

The organization that encourages philanthropy in Central New York is looking at how much wealth will move between generations in the coming years.   

Right now, figures show everybody in Central New York, if you combine  all their assets are worth $57 billion according to Central  New York Community Foundation President Peter Dunn.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is Celebrating it's 125th anniversary this year.  It culminated yesterday with a special mass  at the cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse celebrated by over 100 priests and deacons and bishops from across new york state.   As WRVO's Ellen Abbott reports,  probably the best known cleric joining the celebration, the man who's taken over the high profile job of Archbishop of New York.

You won't see many fully functioning stores as you walk into the addition from an entrance next to the Disney store. ..but you will get a taste of what destiny u-s-a is going to look like.  And the broad boulevard look underneath exposed steel beams doesn't appeal to everyone.

"it reminds my of New York City,  going through the bus station.  Port Authority,  that's what it reminds me of.  Said Sophie Lafontaine of Syracuse.

While a new law in New York State puts more stringent rules in place for how school districts must deal with concussions suffered by student athletes, club sports aren't covered by any such regulations.  As WRVO's Ellen Abbott reports in the third part of a series, at least one central New York recreational league is trying to do something about it.

Doctor Brian Reiger sees kids suffering from concussions every day. He’s Director of the Concussion and Sports Concussion Program at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. 

“A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow or a jolt to the head,” said Dr. Reiger. “It disrupts the brains function.  In most cases, the brain looks normal and we see no evidence of injury but we know it’s been injured because it’s not working properly.”

Reiger says while there is no test that determine whether someone has a concussion, there are signs and symptoms.

Carolyn Tangoran of Fayetteville suffered her first concussion as a competitive cheerleader.  She was at the base of a cheerleading stunt during practice, when it fell on her. 

"I didn't really say anything, because I just, you know, it truly is a very competitive sport, and I didn't want to step out for any reason," said Tangoran.

She kept on practicing and competing with the team.

Plans for a racino near Hancock Airport in Syracuse have hit a snag, but supporters are still optimistic.  

While domestic violence continues to be an issue in Central New York, the group that puts out the annual report to the community on domestic and sexual violence, found one bright spot in the stats. But that bright spot didn't last long.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the Air Force to let Columbia College build a new facility at Hancock Air Base in Syracuse.  If it doesn't, the college that serves many military students, will shut down.

Ellen Abbott

The Syracuse Crunch opened their season earlier this month to a record breaking crowd that watched the team win on ice made from rainwater.  The Crunch are the first professional hockey team anywhere to play on recycled rainwater.

As a youngster in Illinois, Erin Merryn learned about stranger danger and was warned about internet safety. She was taught to stay away from drugs.  The one thing she never learned about was how to deal with sex abuse, which was happening to her.

"I listened to the only message I was given," says Merryn. "And that was from the sexual predators who were raping and sexually abusing me as a child, telling me 'this is our little secret' and 'no one will believe you'."

Lawmakers in the city of Syracuse Monday unanimously voted to ban hydrofracking on city property.   Julia Walsh, from the statewide network Frack Action says this move sends a message to Albany.

The City of Syracuse is expected to say no to hydrofracking Monday.  The Common Council is expected to approve a ban on the controversial gas drilling method.

Central New Yorkers may enjoy some of the best fall colors in the country. That's the opinion of one tree expert out of the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Click "listen" above to hear Ellen's story.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says defense cuts are coming, and they will be big.  She says at least $450 billion in cuts are expected in the next decade, and that number could go higher depending on what happens with the congressional super-committee in the coming months. 

A particular kind of  Yellow leaf you see amidst the fall foliage in New York State might not be part of the fall splash of color much longer.  Many  of the yellow leaves are ash trees, and an invasive insect is slowly munching across New York State. 

It's called the Emerald Ash Borer, and it's wiping out all ashes everywhere an infestation occurs.

Don Leopold is a tree expert at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry and says Ash trees, which are native to New York, are prized for more than there color.

A first ever gay film festival is coming to Syracuse this weekend. Organizers hope this Equality Film Fest will be the first of a yearly event that can help raise money for the Q Center at AIDS Community Resources. 

The Q Center, which serves 250 teens each year, has been losing funding. Youth Services Director Marissa Rice hopes the film festival helps.

"We grew tremendously over the last 12 months," says Rice. "Then we lost 3 employees in our Youth Services division because of funding cuts. So we grew, but lost employees."

Ellen Abbott

22 years ago, in a shiny new mall in downtown Syracuse, the central library set up housekeeping.  But where department stores and food courts once enticed visitors, now offices and specialty shops hang their shingles and dramatic changes have also taken place in the library

 “When this library opened, there were 30 librarians,” said Elizabeth Daily, Executive Director of the Onondaga County Public Library System. “They spent time doing things like filing cards.  Now we have 17 librarians.  The work that takes up their time is totally different."

It started in January when Sharon Sherman noticed an increase in the number of complaints from tenants about bedbugs.

Sherman, the Executive Director of the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network, says the complaints came from everywhere.

"We are getting more calls from the north side of Syracuse," Sherman said. "But they are all over Syracuse, Solvay , Liverpool. There's not a place where it's not a problem right now."

Musicians will be back on stage at the Civic Center in Syracuse this weekend, as the lifeboat organization of the bankrupt Syracuse Symphony Orchestra goes on stage for a special performance.  Jon Garland, Chairman of Symphony Syracuse says it'll look like what you've seen in the past.

Now that the U.S. has frozen $32 billion in assets of former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, New York Senator Chuck Schumer is looking for some of that money to go to the victims or families of Qaddafi-led terrorism.  

Schumer says the problem is many families or victims haven't gotten the compensation promised to them in a prior deal with Qaddafi. 

"Now that the tide in Libya has changed and we have frozen Qaddafi's assets, I am calling on the State Department to release those frozen assets to compensate Libyan terror victims and their families," said Schumer.