Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse, WRVO Public Media

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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8:50am

Fri December 20, 2013
Regional Coverage

Sisters of St. Francis selling campus, moving St. Marianne Cope shrine

The building that currently holds the shrine to St. Marianne Cope.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Some big changes are coming to the Court St.campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities. It involves the sale of the campus, and moving a shrine to recently canonized St. Marianne Cope, who began her ministries as a Sister of St. Francis, in Syracuse.

The current campus on the corner of Court and Grant St. on Syracuse’s north side dates back to the 1860s, when a new order of Franciscan nuns bought the property. Over the past 150 years it’s been home to a convent, school, chapel and a day care, among other things.

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7:29am

Thu December 19, 2013
Health

ACR Health rallies to register people into state healthcare exchange

As the deadline for health insurance plan applications approaches, one agency that’s offering individuals help with the process is finding itself very busy. ACR Health in Syracuse has exceeded expectations as far as signing people up in the state healthcare exchanges.

According to navigator Brian Vanbenschoten, ACR has already helped more than 1,100 people sign up for health insurance plans that will go into effect Jan. 1. That’s 300 more than the agency anticipated at this time.

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8:19am

Wed December 18, 2013
Health

Health insurance enrollment deadline looms

There are only five days left for individuals to enroll in new health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, if they want that coverage to begin Jan. 1. But central New York insurers are urging people to avoid waiting until the last minute.

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7:28am

Wed December 18, 2013
Health

Dangerous toys list released for holiday season

NYPRIG demonstrates some of the dangers of small pieces and parts of popular toys.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The New York Public Information Research Group wants to remind shoppers to take safety into consideration when buying toys this holiday season. The group has released it’s 2013 list of dangerous and toxic toys that can be found on store shelves across New York state.

You can buy the cute Littlest Pet Shop toys in stores across central New York. But beware, the cute little seals and dolphins can be dangerous.

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7:48am

Tue December 17, 2013
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County, Syracuse look to consolidate government

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner (left) and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney discuss their plan to consolidate government in the county.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse are hoping to build on the success of government consolidation projects in the past to make more moves to modernize or consolidate government in the future. How the two biggest government entities in central New York will do this is isn’t quite clear, but they say they want to get the conversation going.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney used a snowy day in Syracuse to illustrate the idea of government inefficiency.

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7:30am

Mon December 16, 2013
Regional Coverage

Simulation offers glimpse into world of poverty

A conference room plays host to about 100 people taking part in a poverty simulation.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

A small conference room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Syracuse was recently transformed into a world of poverty. A simulation run by the Syracuse anti-poverty group Visions for Change gave 100 people a chance to see what it is like to walk in the shoes of the poor helping those participating learn a valuable lesson.

A pretend corner market was a busy spot in the simulation, but it wasn’t the pretend food or prescriptions drawing the most interest. It was the bus passes.

"Do you want a weekly bus pass?" a woman asks. "Yes, please."

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8:16am

Fri December 13, 2013
Regional Coverage

STAR Tax rebate deadline looms large in central New York

New York state is ramping up its message to homeowners, urging them to reapply for the STAR Tax rebate if they haven’t done it yet. The deadline is the end of the month to get in on the tax break.

Looking at a map of the counties in New York state, Teresa Frank of the state’s Real Property Tax Services office, says a majority of homeowners in each county have reapplied for the property tax break, and there is a bit of a trend.

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5:22pm

Thu December 12, 2013
Regional Coverage

DNA helps crack Syracuse cold case

Onondaga County District Attorney William speaks at the podium while Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler and relatives of murder victim Colleen Meadow look on.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse police have cracked an almost 30-year-old murder case using a combination of high tech DNA and intensive police work. The arrest of a Georgia man who had long been a suspect in the investigation of the death of his estranged wife, is the latest success in the Syracuse Police Department’s cold case unit.

Authorities say Ronald Meadow will be arraigned on second-degree murder charges in Syracuse later this month, in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Colleen Meadow, who was found strangled to death in her northside apartment in March 1985.  

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7:38am

Tue December 10, 2013
Education

Advocates rally in support of public education

James F Clay Flickr

Advocates for public education are calling for changes in education that will give every child in New York state access to high-quality public education. The message was made clear during a national Day of Action organized by unions, community groups and schools across the nation and New York yesterday.

Supporters of public education in central New York wore blue as part of the event, meant to reclaim the promise of public education. Among those asking for the state to make changes is Shelly Chizzonite, a counselor in the East Syracuse Minoa School District.

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8:25am

Fri December 6, 2013
Religion

Syracuse Diocese asks for parishioner input on controversial church issues

Roman Catholics all over the world are being asked to answer a questionnaire in order to help the church deal with what it calls a social and spiritual crisis that exists, especially in regard to marriage and the family. While some parts of the country are asking clergy to answer questions, the Syracuse Diocese wants the opinion of every day parishioners.  

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8:25am

Thu December 5, 2013
Agriculture

Farmers say mounting state and federal paperwork is hurting business

File photo
Ian Lamont Flickr

Farmers across New York state converged in central New York for the State Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this week.  According to those at the meeting, the biggest problem these farmers face is too much paperwork.

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7:27am

Wed December 4, 2013
Education

Fayetteville Common Core meeting draws more concern for students, teachers

Those attending the Common Core meeting brought signs showing disapproval with the nationwide curriculum.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Almost three dozen speakers fired questions at state Education Commissioner John King and other state officials in Fayetteville Tuesday, during the latest central New York forum on the new Common Core curriculum. Most of the complaints about the more rigorous curriculum have been heard before, but the bigger question now is if anything can be changed.

The debate over common core ranges from timing...

"Why were the assessments not phased in, in a more deliberate manner?"

To the impact of poverty on education...

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8:18am

Tue December 3, 2013
Regional Coverage

Workers' Compensation Board hosts meetings to help improve services

New York state's Workers' Compensation Board has started a sweeping effort to examine the system, and look at how it could more effectively meet the needs of injured workers and employers. It's in the midst of holding sessions where injured workers can express their opinions.

The second of three sessions was held yesterday in Syracuse, and allowed injured workers to chime in on the discussion in central New York. Fidel, Alejandro Velacqueis Perez was among those telling stories.

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7:57am

Mon December 2, 2013
Regional Coverage

Giving Tuesday promotes central New York's non-profits

Giving Tuesday is taking hold in central New York.
Central New York Community Foundation

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday focus on spending for holiday gifts, a burgeoning movement is hoping to create that same kind of fervor when it comes to making charitable donations. Tomorrow has been dubbed Giving Tuesday in the world of non-profits.

Matt Seubert, Development Director of Enable and Transitional Living Services in Syracuse had never heard of Giving Tuesday when it started last year.

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9:32am

Fri November 29, 2013
Regional Coverage

Destiny USA expects massive crowds on Black Friday

An aerial shot of Destiny USA.
US Embassy Canada Flickr

Shoppers hitting the stores on this Black Friday expect it to be crowded, since there will probably be more people than ever at central New York’s biggest shopping venue.

A year ago, the expansion to Destiny USA was still in its early stages, with storefronts not yet filled. This year, there are 80 or so more stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues than there were a year ago, according to Mall Manager Rob Schoeneck. That’s already meant more shoppers than in the past.

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8:53am

Fri November 29, 2013
Politics and Government

Senator DeFrancisco says Cuomo's Moreland Commission is a risky proposition

The commission that’s been delving into public corruption in New York state will release a preliminary report to Gov. Andrew Cuomo this weekend. The Moreland Commission, appointed by Cuomo, has held several hearings on the issue, and has been investigating the connection between private money and public officials, with an eye towards making policy proposals. One high ranking New York state senator has concerns though whether the commission’s work will be tangled in a question of separation of powers.

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2:25pm

Wed November 27, 2013
Health

Schumer supports St. Joseph's tele-monitoring plan

Sen. Charles Schumer stands with a stethoscope and iPad to illustrate how technology will be part of this program.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is throwing his weight behind a Syracuse hospital's plan that could ultimately save taxpayers $1 million. Saint Joseph’s Hospital is trying to get a federal grant that will help pay for a system meant to streamline care for Medicare patients.

Probably the most interesting part of the plan is the ability for hospital staff to tele-monitor a patient who’s at home, says Schumer.

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7:42am

Wed November 27, 2013
Regional Coverage

Gas prices for Thanksgiving travel hit three year low

Syracuse winter.
Doug Kerr Flickr

Today is the busiest travel day of the year, with an estimated 43.4 million travelers heading home for the holidays. But some Thanksgiving travelers are getting a bit of a break this year by spending less cash to fill their gas tanks on the way to their holiday destinations.

“It’s the lowest Thanksgiving gas price we’ve seen since 2010," says central New York AAA spokeswoman Diana Dibble.

Dibble says motorists will be paying an average of $3.49 in central New York, $3.56 statewide, and $3.21 for a gallon of gas nationally. That’s down 29 cents from last year in Syracuse.

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3:43pm

Mon November 25, 2013
Regional Coverage

Cellphones for vets program starts 6th season

State Sen. John DeFransisco kicks off the sixth season of a cellphones for veterans collection program.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

For the sixth year in a row, State Sen. John DeFransisco is asking central New Yorkers to go through their junk drawers to help someone in the military.

“You got some old cellphones," DeFransisco said Monday, "don’t let them gather dust.”

Instead DeFransisco is asking people to turn them in to locations across central New York bearing the "Cellphones for Soldiers" logo.

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7:56am

Mon November 25, 2013
Regional Coverage

New app makes plowing the driveway a breeze

Mark Hogan Flickr

Much of central New York got it’s first taste of winter this weekend. One local entrepreneur is hoping it sparks interest in a smartphone app that’ll bring a snowplow to your doorstep.

Plowz is a free smartphone app, and its creators hope it will help take the shovel out of your hands on those Syracuse mornings when you wake up to a snow clogged driveway.

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8:04am

Thu November 21, 2013
Regional Coverage

While e-cigarettes gain popularity, FDA may start regulating products

Containers of e-liquid used in e-cigarettes.
Lindsay Fox Flickr

The Food and Drug Administration may soon get in on the fast growing e-cigarette industry. It’s considering labeling them as tobacco products, which would mean regulation over where they’re sold and how they’re made. That's good news for central New York smoking opponents, who say a lack of regulation is one of the big danger points of these electronic smoking devices.

So what is an e-cigarette anyway?

“A vaporized form of nicotine that is derived from tobacco, that is flavored and inhaled like a cigarette,” says Upstate Cancer Center Medical Director Leslie Kohman.

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8:00am

Wed November 20, 2013
Energy

Anti-gas pipeline group warns residents of I-81 pipeline

The path the I-81 pipeline would take from Onondaga to the Binghamton area.
Stop I-81 Pipeline Group

Homeowners along an abandoned gas line across three central New York counties are getting advice about how to deal with gas companies who may come knocking.

The Millennium Pipeline Company is trying to get federal approval to build a 60-mile pipeline from the town of Onondaga down to the Binghamton area in order to connect several east-west natural gas pipelines. In order to do this, the pipeline company, which is an affiliate of National Grid among other energy companies, will need the help of homeowners.

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8:27am

Tue November 19, 2013
Education

Educators air concerns about Common Core standards in another forum

Teachers, superintendents and parents take part in Monday night's education forum.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The state Assembly Minority Education Forum in Baldwinsville on Monday night brought out parents and educators who are concerned about the controversial new Common Core educational standards enforced in New York state classrooms. This was the fifth of a series of hearings by the Assembly lawmakers about what has become a hotly debated topic.

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8:59am

Mon November 18, 2013
Health

Lack of lung cancer advocacy hinders research dollars, improvements

Aidan Jones Flickr

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, but chances are you might not know that. Lung cancer just doesn’t get some of the same attention as other types of cancer, and that ultimately leads to more deaths.

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5:59am

Fri November 15, 2013
Regional Coverage

Central N.Y. group encourages involvment in inclusion sports

Greg Cullen is the founder of Move Along Incorporated.
Move Along Incorporated

Advocates for the disabled in central New York want to encourage more participation in inclusion sports.  

Greg Cullen, founder of the group Move Along Inc., said the idea is that people with physical limitations and able-bodied people can play sports together.

"You really get confidence," Cullen said. "You then are willing to engage or approach other individuals, that typically, maybe before you had an awkwardness or a fear of doing. And these types of activities can increase that confidence, so these people can continue to engage."  

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8:26pm

Thu November 14, 2013
Regional Coverage

Military finds pieces of crashed drone; investigation continues

An MQ-9 Reaper drone, like this one seen in a hanger at Hancock Airfield, crashed Tuesday into Lake Ontario. The MQ-9s are operated by the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Updated, Thursday, 8:26 p.m.:

The Air National Guard has found pieces of its unmanned drone that crashed into Lake Ontario earlier this week.

Recovery efforts continued on Thursday and debris was found along the shoreline, according to Maj. Sandy Stoquert, a public affairs officer for the 174th Attack Wing based in Syracuse.

The MQ-9 Reaper crashed into the eastern part of the lake Tuesday afternoon during a training flight that had taken off three hours earlier from Ft. Drum.

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8:14am

Thu November 14, 2013
Regional Coverage

Scoping sessions highlight I-81's possible future

Visitors discuss possible options for I-81's future.
Tom Magnarelli WRVO

For five years, central New Yorkers have been talking about what should be done with an interstate viaduct that is reaching the end of its lifespan. The discussion is now formal, with the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration holding the first scoping session in Syracuse, meant to gather community input on the issue.

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7:04am

Wed November 13, 2013
Health

Medicare open enrollment deadline approaches

There’s less than a month until the Dec. 7 deadline, when Medicare’s open enrollment period ends.

Blaine Longnecker, a sales consultant out of Syracuse’s Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield office, said seniors eligible for the federal health insurance program who are looking to change their plan shouldn't bide their time.

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7:27am

Mon November 11, 2013
Regional Coverage

Policy could help Syracuse Police prosecute more domestic violence cases

Syracuse Police have started a new policy that could help crack domestic violence cases, called the CODE, or Chronic Offender Domestic Enforcement, program.

Rebecca Thompson has answered countless domestic violence calls in her 27 years as a member of the Syracuse Police Department. Now as deputy chief of the uniformed bureau, she said she knows how it is a very personal crime, and sometimes, victims don't want to testify against a loved one, which can make it harder for prosecutors to make a case.

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8:09am

Thu November 7, 2013
Health

Health navigators say Affordable Care Act sign-ups have been successful

There may be problems in other states for people signing up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, but things are moving smoothly in New York state, according to one organization in the midst of it. ACR Health in Syracuse says it has nothing but success stories.

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