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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8:20am

Wed November 6, 2013
Politics and Government

Miner wins reelection in Syracuse, Greens say party shows strength

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner addresses the crowd following the announcement of her re-election victory.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Syracuse and Onondaga County's local political landscape remains pretty much intact after yesterday's election. Republicans rule the suburbs and County government; while democrats maintain a stranglehold over Syracuse city hall. Mayor Stephanie Miner won re-election easily with 68 percent of the vote against two third-party challengers, and got a surprise congratulations call from Washington.

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8:15am

Mon November 4, 2013
Politics and Government

Onondaga County Elections Commissioners struggle to get people to polls

Polling machines like this one will be used throughout Onondaga County for Tuesday's elections.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Elections officials in Onondaga County aren't counting on a busy day tomorrow, as they're predicting record low turnout rates.

Republican Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggens Walsh thinks it'll be a struggle to get more voters out this year than two years ago, which was the lowest turnout ever.

"Our record low is 25 percent," Kiggens Walsh said. "I think we're going to go below that this year. I'm guessing the low 20s."

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5:00pm

Fri November 1, 2013
Politics

Green Party mayoral candidate says Syracuse needs more community policing

Green Party Syracuse mayoral candidate Kevin Bott
Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

The Green Party candidate running for mayor of Syracuse says the that office needs more tools to deal with a homicide crisis in the city.  Kevin Bott says if he is elected, he would fully embrace the concept of community policing to get at the root of this year's rash of killings across the city.

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6:54pm

Thu October 31, 2013
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County has its own spooky stories to share on Halloween

An artist's rendering of the ghost Clarissa
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Ghost stories abound during the Halloween season and the Onondaga Historical Association has collected some of the best known ghostly tales in Onondaga County.

One of the most told ghost stories in central New York is "the Bride of the 13 Curves."  OHA Curator of History Dennis Conners said it starts on Cedarvale Road.

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8:34am

Thu October 31, 2013
Regional Coverage

Vera House Annual Report highlights domestic abuse survival stories

A recent domestic violence death in central New York hung over this year's Vera House Annual Report to the community this week. The deaths this week of a Liverpool woman and her friend, allegedly at the hand of her estranged husband, was on the mind of survivors of domestic violence and those who work with victims of domestic violence.

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8:26am

Thu October 31, 2013
Regional Coverage

Oneida's Farnam Mansion provides home to spirits, owners

The Farnam Mansion was built more than 150 years ago.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Buying a haunted house isn't for everyone, but for the couple who bought the supposedly haunted Farnam Mansion in Oneida three years ago, they've found a comfortable life sharing their home with what they call spirits.

The Farnam Mansion on Main Street in Oneida has all the makings of a haunted house; creaky stairs, lots of small, dark rooms, a cellar complete with a former lab.

The brick Victorian Italianate home built more than 150 years ago is currently owned by Gerri and Brian Gray.

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8:49am

Wed October 30, 2013
Regional Coverage

Renovations give Syracuse more affordable housing options

One of the renovated buildings, Kasson Place, on James Street.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The pool of affordable housing in Syracuse is growing with the development of four multi-family apartment buildings along the James Street corridor.

City neighborhood and development commissioner Paul Driscoll doesn't think there are any other housing projects like it in the city: a mix of market rate apartments with affordable apartments in one building. The city is opening these four new apartment buildings after major renovations, and Driscoll said the affordability factor is key.

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8:05am

Wed October 30, 2013
Regional Coverage

TSA's PreCheck program finds success in Syracuse

A view of the new TSA PreCheck program at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The PreCheck program at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse has exceeded expectations so far, and the Transportation Security Administration says it's expanding the expedited screening program.

"This makes flying fun again, it's just like the old days," says Darry Srago, a frequent flyer out of Hancock. He's happy with the PreCheck program because it makes getting through security easier.

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4:06pm

Tue October 29, 2013
Regional Coverage

Proposed law would give police new tool to deal with 'disorderly houses'

The proposal is discussed at a Syracuse Common Council meeting.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers are trying to work out concerns over a proposed law that would allow police to crack down on problem houses in city neighborhoods.

It's a case where constitutional rights collide with neighborhood concerns. Councilor Khalid Bey wants to use a 100-year-old law, which was once used to crack down on brothels, as a way to rid neighborhoods of houses that have become hangouts for drug dealers and other criminals.

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8:00am

Tue October 29, 2013
Education

Maffei unveils six-point education plan

Dan Maffei presents his six-point education plan. He gathered ideas earlier this year during listening sessions held throughout the district.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Rep. Dan Maffei has a to-do list for himself and the community when it comes to education. The Syracuse-area Democrat released a six-point plan this week that arises from listening sessions he held across the 24th Congressional District earlier this year.

Maffei says one of the key things that stuck with him during the sessions, was the extent of morale problems among educators across the 24th Congressional District. And he says that's one thing he hopes his proposal can tackle.  

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7:40am

Mon October 28, 2013
Regional Coverage

Safe Sleep campaign stresses uncluttered cribs

The Safe Sleep campaign urges parents not to keep a crib full of dangerous clutter.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A coalition of local organizations is urging parents to keep their baby's crib clear of clutter. It's the core message of the Safe Sleep campaign, spearheaded by Safe Kids Upstate New York, out of Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.  

Clemencia Molina, regional coordinator of the Central New York Sudden Infant and Child Death Resource Center, said it's common to see a child's crib filled with stuffed animals, blankets and pillows.

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7:51am

Fri October 25, 2013
Health

Start of flu season best time to get vaccinated

Credit USACE Europe District / via Flickr

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Cynthia Morrow said there are signs that the flu season is upon us. Morrow said there is one laboratory confirmed case of the flu in Onondaga County, and she's hearing reports from doctors offices about unconfirmed cases.  

Morrow said it's a good time for central New Yorkers to get their flu vaccine. She also said this year's vaccine may offer more protection than those in the past, which targeted three flu strains.

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7:49am

Thu October 24, 2013
Politics and Government

New York Jobs Now coalition rallies in support of casino referendum

New York Jobs Now suggests that the proposed casinos could bring 10,000 jobs to New York state.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Supporters of casino-style gambling are making themselves heard in central New York two weeks before Election Day. A coalition of economic development, labor leaders and politicians, called the New York Jobs Now coalition, is encouraging voters to support Proposal Number One, which would allow non-Indian casino gambling in upstate New York. Boosters say the whole state would benefit from this initiative in a couple of ways.

For State Senator Dave Valesky of Oneida, approving gambling upstate is a no-brainer.

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7:59am

Wed October 23, 2013
Technology

Upstate Medical University says new labs will promote brain research

Empty labs will soon become the home for more collaborative brain research.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Upstate Medical University's new Neuroscience Research Building is on the cusp of bringing brain researchers together at last. The $72 million building is an expansion at Upstate's Institute for Human Performance.

VIPs toured the block-long, five-story building this week. At this point it's a shell, full of empty labs and dark rooms. It's the $50 million worth of high tech equipment coming later this year that'll make a difference in brain research, according to Upstate's Vice President for Research Rosemary Rochford.

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8:14am

Tue October 22, 2013
Politics and Government

Moreland Commission co-chair not surprised by survey results

File photo
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A Siena College poll this week shows that most New Yorkers don't know about the Moreland Commission, a panel of district attorneys and law enforcement officials investigating public corruption in Albany.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Moreland Commission, says it doesn't bother him that many New Yorkers are unaware of the group's probes into public corruption. But he expects that'll change December 1, when the Moreland Commission releases it's report.

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8:04am

Tue October 22, 2013
Health

Schumer urges DEA to ease drug take-back restrictions

Sen. Charles Schumer is urging the DEA to loosen restrictions for drug take back programs. He is also asking the agency to allow funding for a drug buy back program.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is firing another salvo in the war against prescription drug abuse. He's proposing that the Drug Enforcement Administration ease restrictions that make it harder for pharmacies to let people bring in controlled substances for disposal.

It's a problem that's getting worse in upstate New York, according to Michelle Caliva, director of the Upstate Poison Control Center. She's looked at the number of calls involving abuse of prescription pain killers over the last decade.

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6:01am

Wed October 16, 2013
Regional Coverage

New food co-op in Syracuse brings healthy options to southside neighborhood

The interior of the Eat to Live Food Co-op.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A new food co-op on Syracuse's southside has opened its doors. Neighbors are welcoming the new Eat to Live Food Cooperative on South Salina Street, an area that doesn't have many options when it comes to buying healthy food.  

Joseph Bryant, president of the Southside Community Coalition said the co-op ultimately eliminates a food desert.

"Fifty-two percent of the people in this census tract use public transportation or walk. So not having the ability to drive to a grocery store is one thing, so now we can provide midday shopping trips in the neighborhood," Bryant said.

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8:44am

Mon October 14, 2013
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County creates two new departments, shrinks another

Onondaga County is making massive changes to the part of its bureaucracy that helps families and individuals in need. The recently passed county budget reshuffles the traditional way residents have been getting services for years.

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7:33am

Fri October 11, 2013
Politics and Government

Green Party candidates offer voters another option in Syracuse elections

Green Party candidate Kevin Bott makes his announcement to run for mayor of Syracuse on September 11, 2013.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

This is turning out to be a quiet election season in Syracuse despite a race for mayor. Without a Republican running against Mayor Stephanie Miner, and with Democrats having with a stranglehold in most common council and school board races, Green Party candidates are emerging as alternatives for voters in a handful of races. All three Green Party hopefuls appeared on the Campbell Conversations with Grant Reeher.

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7:56am

Thu October 10, 2013
Regional Coverage

Onondaga County lawmakers bring back bail program

Keith Allison, Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers are resurrecting a program that helps people who need to be bailed out of jail after committing minor crimes. Lawmakers agreed to put $25,000 in the recently passed 2014 budget, to run the Jail Ministry Bail Expediter Program.

Legislator Linda Ervin says constituents have been asking for a return of the program ever since it was disbanded, because of concerns that funds were being misused. She says it puts people without means on the same footing as those with ready cash who can bail out loved ones in the case of a minor crime, like shoplifting.

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7:56am

Wed October 9, 2013
Politics and Government

Onondaga County legislature, sheriff's department at odds over budget

Onondaga County lawmakers discuss the county budget Tuesday. It passed by a 15-1 vote.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga County lawmakers are putting a tighter reign on spending at the sheriff's department. The legislature approved the county's 2014 $1.2 billion budget Tuesday night. It included a budget maneuver that give's lawmakers more control over department spending that has come in substantially over budget the last few years, according to legislature chairman Ryan McMahon.

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8:08am

Mon October 7, 2013
Business

Onondaga County to vote on proposed 2014 budget this week

Onondaga County lawmakers vote this week on the proposed $122 million 2014 budget. The spending plan includes a slight decrease in the tax rate along with some spending cuts. One additional fund that's being proposed in the budget is a pot of money that would be available for economic development projects.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney has seen it before in central New York; economic development projects die because they can't get those last final dollars in place. So what does she the propose in order to correct the problem?

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12:20pm

Fri October 4, 2013
Education

OCC opens new building that spans divides

Academic II, the newest building on the Onondaga Community College campus
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Onondaga Community College is showing off a new building that crosses a 60-foot high gorge that splits the campus in half. But, college officials say it does more than connect the campus physically.

Academic II is being described as a bridge with a building around it. It spans the gorge that divides the campus. With smart classrooms, offices, a 150-seat recital hall and soundproof practice rooms, it will be  the center for the school's music program, according to OCC President Casey Craybill. And she says that bridges another divide.

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8:12am

Thu October 3, 2013
Environment

Onondaga Lake Park prepares for Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer poses a major threat to ash trees at Onondaga Lake Park.
USDAgov Flickr

Now that the Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in Onondaga County, local governments are trying to find the best strategy to deal with the invasive pests that will ultimately kill all the ash trees in the area. One of the county's biggest challenges lies in one of the busiest public green spaces in central New York, at Onondaga Lake Park.

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7:35am

Wed October 2, 2013
Health

New Yorkers flock to register on state health exchange

Willie Terrell gets advice from a navigator about what health care coverage plans are available.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The health exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act opened Tuesday, and in short order there were two million hits on the New York state website that's selling health insurance policies. People who weren't turning to the website in central New York were lining up to get face-to-face information on how to choose a plan.

Willie Terrell, of Syracuse, has been waiting for this day since he lost his health insurance a year ago.

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7:52am

Tue October 1, 2013
Education

Syracuse school district combating high student suspension rate

Dan Losen, a civil rights expert from UCLA, shares the results of his quantitative and qualitative review of practices for disciplining students in the Syracuse City School District.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Last year, students suspended from the Syracuse City School District lost 23,555 days of instruction, and 55 percent of African-American students in the district have been suspended at least once. Those are some of the sobering statistics from a nationally known expert on school suspensions who reported on the state of suspensions in the district for the Board of Education last night.

Lekia Hill of the Alliance for Quality Education says the statistics are disturbing, especially when many of these suspensions are for minor infractions.

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7:46am

Tue October 1, 2013
Health

New York's health exchange opens for business

This graphic shows customers the four tiers, and what costs are covered by the member.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

New York State of Health, the marketplace exchange that will let New Yorkers choose health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is open for business starting Tuesday. The state has plenty of help available for anyone who's taking the jump into these historic waters.

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8:01am

Mon September 30, 2013
Health

Affordable Care Act still poses concerns for small businesses, doctors

New York is one of the states that will be offering insurance for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through state health exchanges. What is arguably the landmark feature of the law also known as Obamacare, the registration springs into action tomorrow when New Yorkers can begin shopping and buying health plans through a marketplace called New York State of Health. Implementation of the plan has had its bumps and bruises, but New York is ready to go, even if lingering concerns in certain sectors remain.

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6:56am

Fri September 27, 2013
Science

SUNY ESF to house sophisticated new research equipment

The 600 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer currently housed at SUNY ESF.
Credit Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Biomedical researchers across central and western New York are getting a new piece of sophisticated machinery that will allow them to get a closer look at the way cells and proteins interact.

Officials announced a $2 million federal grant this week that will allow a consortium of six upstate colleges and universities to buy what's called an 800-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer.  

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7:19am

Thu September 26, 2013
Politics and Government

GOP searching for candidate to run for 24th congressional district

Ellen Abbott WRVO

With former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle out of the picture, Syracuse-area Republicans can concentrate on the search for a candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei, who's expected to run for reelection in the 24th Congressional District. Buerkle announced on Wednesday that she wasn't interested in another race against Maffei, preferring to focus on her position on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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