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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6:36am

Tue September 10, 2013
Politics and Government

Primary day expected to draw low numbers

Columbia City Blog Flickr

It's primary day in New York state, and city halls throughout the region are at the center of voting. Probably the highest profile mayoral race is in New York City, but voters will also be choosing candidates for mayor in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Watertown and Syracuse.

While the polls give an edge to incumbents in these races, Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says candidates can't afford to take anything for granted.

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3:51pm

Mon September 9, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Common Council approves more foreclosures

Syracuse Common Councilors have agreed to begin foreclosure proceedings on more than two dozen addition tax delinquent properties, that will be turned over to the land bank. This is the third round of foreclosure decisions by lawmakers in the last month. But, there is an end game in sight.

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6:52am

Mon September 9, 2013
Environment

SUNY ESF combines values, architecture in new welcoming center

A view inside SUNY ESF's new weloming center.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The new Gateway Building at Syracuse's SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry campus is meant to be more than a welcoming center, incorporating many of the environmental values the school is known for.

SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy says the new $28 million center fulfills a decade old dream at the school.

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4:49pm

Fri September 6, 2013
Politics and Government

NYS education commissioner visits two very different school districts

State Education Commissioner John King visits a seventh grade math class at Wellwood Middle School in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

It was a tale of two distinct school districts in Onondaga County as State Education Commissioner John King visited central New York today during a new school year swing through the state. While there are big differences between the Fayetteville-Manlius and Syracuse City School Districts, he found some similarities especially when it comes to attacking the new rigorous common core standards.

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7:11am

Fri September 6, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse's Hancock International Airport selected for TSA's PreCheck program

A view of Syracuse's Hancock International Airport, which was recently selected for the TSA's new PreCheck program.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse's Hancock International Airport is one of the medium size airports that will offer the TSA's new PreCheck program, becoming one of 60 across the country that will be able to take advantage of the expedited screening.

The PreCheck initiative is a frequent traveler screening program that will make it easier for frequent fliers to get through the screening process. Syracuse Aviation Commissioner Christina Callahan says there should be demand in Central New York.

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2:49pm

Thu September 5, 2013
Education

Syracuse schools celebrate first day back by highlighting new I-Zone schools

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Sharon Contreras visits a kindergarten class at Frazer School.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

All the public schools in Onondaga County are now open for the new school year. The Syracuse City School District was one of the last ones to open its doors Thursday morning. And school officials used the occasion of the first day of school to show off one of the new I-Zone Schools in the district.

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6:33am

Thu September 5, 2013
Politics and Government

Miner receives endorsement from environmentalist group

Mayor Stephanie Miner receives an endorsement from the local and regional arm of the Sierra Club.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has some local environmentalists on her side in her race for reelection.

The local and regional arm of the Sierra Club is supporting Miner in her bid for mayor, citing what they say is her ambitious environmental vision for Syracuse. Shortly after becoming mayor, Miner created the Bureau of Sustainability and Environment, dedicated to environmental issues in the city. Miner says these are important issues, even in a time of fiscal instability. She also says city residents appreciate the focus on this issue.

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4:03pm

Wed September 4, 2013
Regional Coverage

Butter to compost could be example of future recycling laws

Butter from the NY State Fair sculpture has ended up at an OCRRA composting site.
OCRRA

Vendors and displays are packed up, and the New York State Fair in Syracuse is over for another year. But one of the iconic sights of the fair will live on, giving a glimpse of what could be the next big recycling trend in New York state.

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3:47pm

Fri August 30, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Protestors say U.S. should not use military force in Syria

Protestors gather in front of the Federal Building in Syracuse to speak out again potential U.S. military action in Syria
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Central New Yorkers took to the streets of Syracuse today to protest the possibility of any U.S. military strike against Syria.  

Protesters stood in front of the Syracuse Federal Building looking for support, and passersby honked horns in suport. About 20 protesters carrying signs that said things like "find another way: and "No U.S. Intervention."

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7:28am

Fri August 30, 2013
Politics and Government

Police and economy focal points during Syracuse mayoral debate

The use of technology versus having an officer on the street seems to separate the candidates when it comes to fighting crime in the city of Syracuse. The three candidates in September's mayoral Democratic primary debated the issue on the Campbell Conversations. Common Councilor Pat Hogan suggests there aren't enough officers on the street.

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7:24am

Fri August 30, 2013
Agriculture

NY State Fair offers visitors the chance to see a calf be born

A cow licks her calf after giving birth at the New York State Fair's new Dairy Cow Birthing Center.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A new exhibit at the New York State Fair in Syracuse this year shows cows giving birth; and you just never know when you might be able to see a maternal miracle.

When the ribbon on the new Dairy Cow Birthing Center was cut, visitors were milling about, enjoying some dairy related snacks. Reporters were interviewing the experts who would explain why fairgoers should want to see the birth of a calf, when there was an interruption.

"We have a calf coming. Didn't mean to interrupt, but nature calls."

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7:02am

Thu August 29, 2013
Education

SUNY chancellor: schools will perform well under Obama's proposed ranking system

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher visits the New York State Fair, stopping at the SUNY Upstate Medical University booth.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The head of the State University of New York welcomes the competition component of President Barack Obama's new education plan, intended to make a college education more affordable.

The president's plan would rank colleges and universities according to a number of factors, including student debt and graduation rates. It would then tie that ranking to federal student aid. SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher says the proposal will also encourage innovation and take measures to reduce student debt.

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6:52am

Thu August 29, 2013
Education

Seven Syracuse schools enter first year of Innovation Zone

Teachers hold a rally during the iZone kick-off event at Porter Elementary School.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The seven worst schools in the Syracuse City School District are joining forces in an attempt to improve the performance of those schools in a short period of time. The district says the Innovation Zone schools, armed with more than $31 million in state grants, can turn things around.

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6:56am

Wed August 28, 2013
Environment

New York lawmakers fighting back against invasive species

Asian Carp jump out of the water at the mouth of the Wabash River in Kentucky.
LousivilleUSACE/flickr

Congress is taking aim against invasive species that are clogging New York state's waterways, with New York representatives in the House and Senate backing the proposed "Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act."

It's a problem that plagues many lakes and rivers in central New York. Species like Asian carp and certain kinds of mussels can interfere with boating and recreation activities on the state's waterways. But championing the legislation is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who says these species can be difficult to deal with.

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6:43am

Wed August 28, 2013
Regional Coverage

Thousands flock to NY State Fair to register for STAR exemptions

Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrell Aubertine registers for his STAR Exemption in the Center of Progress Building at the New York State Fair.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Navigating through the Center of Progress Building at the New York State Fair is always a little difficult. But this year, it isn't the crowds at the cookware or candy booths that's creating roadblocks. Fairgoers are flocking to the New York State Taxation and Finance booth after getting letters last week explaining the need to register.

"We have a little bit of a line here. Can you wait?"

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4:00pm

Tue August 27, 2013
Politics and Government

Gillibrand would support some military action in Syria

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) says she'll stand by the Obama administration as it considers military action against Syria in light of alleged chemical weapons use against civilians.

During a stop at the New York State Fair, Gillibrand said there's a humanitarian crisis in Syria that must be addressed by the United States and other countries, adding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be put on notice that recent attacks against civilians are unacceptable to the world community.  

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7:55am

Tue August 27, 2013
Regional Coverage

DiNapoli discusses upcoming pension rate numbers, impact on municipalities

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
Ellen Abbott WRVO file photo

The New York state comptroller's office this week comes out with some numbers of great interest to local governments. Pension rates are one of the reasons many local governments, including the city of Syracuse, say they are in financial peril.

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5:55pm

Mon August 26, 2013
Regional Coverage

DiNapoli returns unclaimed funds to rightful owners

New York State Comptroller was at the New York State Fair Monday to distribute unclaimed funds.

It was kind of like the lottery at the New York State Comptroller's booth at the New York State Fair in Syracuse today.  Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli gave out $40,000 worth of checks to central New Yorkers out of the state's unclaimed fund account.

"The largest one was for a library in Madison County for $13,000.  We had $12,000 for an individual.  So it's real money.  Most of the recoveries are 50 to 100 dollars, but can be in the thousands of dollars," said DiNapoli.

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5:55pm

Mon August 26, 2013
Regional Coverage

Two Row Wampum campaign took message throughout New York state

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign

A 13-day trip down the Hudson River was successful in bringing the message of the Two Row Wampum to some New Yorkers who may not have known about it, according to organizers.  

The idea behind the trip was to make non-native people aware of the agreement between Native Americans and European settlers, and how the ideals embodied in that Two Row Wampum agreement are relevant today. This year is the 400th anniversary of the agreement. Jake Edwards of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs says there were warm welcomes from everyone who watched the paddlers go by.

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7:53am

Mon August 26, 2013
Technology

New security cameras installed at NY State Fairgrounds

Thousands of people walk through the fairgrounds during the New York State Fair.
NYSFair/flickr

Among the improvements to the infrastructure of the New York State Fairgrounds this year, is an upgrade of the fair's surveillance system.  New high-tech cameras are replacing an older system that will keep an eye on anyone visiting the 375 acre fairgrounds.

Phase one of the installation involves laying down the infrastructure for the new cameras and installing them in certain areas, according to Assistant Fair Director Troy Waffner.

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7:39am

Mon August 26, 2013
Regional Coverage

SUNY ESF launching bike share program

SUNY ESF is moving forward with a new bike sharing program.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Students at the SUNY campus of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse will be able to borrow not only books, but a bike from the library starting this semester.

The new program is starting small, with five bikes available for students to borrow from the campus' Moon Library. All they have to do is fill out a waiver and rental agreement and pay a $20 bike membership fee, then they'll be entitled to unlimited rentals through the year.   

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6:41am

Fri August 23, 2013
Regional Coverage

Obama visits Syracuse, promotes college affordability plan

President Obama discusses higher education during his speech at Henninger High School.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

President Obama brought his message of affordable education for the middle class to Syracuse yesterday. It was an intimate atmosphere inside the gym at Henninger High School, with the crowd interacting with the president as he laid the groundwork for his plan.

"There aren't a lot of things that are more important than making sure people get a good education," Obama said. "That is key to upward mobility. That is key to a growing economy.  That is key to a strong middle class."

The crowd then started calling out and shouting to him.

"Love you back."

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4:37pm

Thu August 22, 2013
Regional Coverage

Lt. Gov. Duffy officially opens New York State Fair

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy tries food while inside the Taste NY tent.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy filled in for Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the official opening of the New York State Fair in Syracuse today.  While Cuomo was hosting President Obama in Buffalo, Duffy was tasting New York state products in the new Taste New York Tent at the Fair.

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7:25am

Thu August 22, 2013
Recreation

2013 New York State Fair prepares to open

Stu Gallagher New York State Fair

The 2013 edition of the New York State Fair opens on Thursday, drawing hundreds of thousands of fairgoers to the Geddes fairgrounds during the 12-day exposition.  

In recent years, there has been more of a focus on agriculture at the State Fair, and State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine says there's more evidence of that at this year's event.

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4:24pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Politics and Government

Lawmakers look for ideas to help financially struggling cities

State lawmakers were looking for suggestions to prevent municipal bankruptcies in New York state at a hearing in Syracuse Tuesday on the first stop for the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Local Government.

The situation in Detroit hung over the hearing. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner warned that cities like Syracuse continue to edge towards the brink of insolvency because revenues can't keep up with expenditures. And until the state helps with that, more cities in New York state will continue to spiral towards insolvency.

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8:10am

Wed August 21, 2013
Politics

Syracuse mayoral candidates square off during Campbell Conversations forum

The candidates for Syracuse mayor at a forum for WRVO's Campbell Conversations.
Tom Fazzio

The three candidates in the Democratic primary race for mayor of Syracuse squared off during a forum on WRVO's Campbell Conversations on Tuesday. Incumbent Stephanie Miner will face Common Councilor Pat Hogan, and challenger Alfonso Davis, to see who gets on the Democratic party line in November.

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7:41am

Tue August 20, 2013
Politics and Government

Syracuse tasing incident leads to policy discussion

Community members watch lawmakers discuss the Syracuse Police Department's use of Tasers.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A recent case involving a disabled man tased by Syracuse Police on a CENTRO bus in May has Syracuse lawmakers looking into the police department's policy on using the electronic devices. In a meeting this week, common councilors heard from advocates who would like to see that policy updated.

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7:41am

Fri August 16, 2013
Politics

Syracuse councilor-at-large candidates focus on crime and the economy

A view of Syracuse's city hall.
Daniel Lobo/flickr

The September 10 Democratic primary for two city-wide councilor-at-large seats in Syracuse puts the spotlight on crime and the economy.

The four-way race pits two incumbents, Lance Denno and Jean Kessner, who were not endorsed by the city's Democratic Committee and who have been at odds with the administration of Mayor Stephanie Miner at times, are running against two party favorites, Pam Hunter and Jeff Wright. Three of the four joined Grant Reeher for a forum on the Campbell Conversations.

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6:53am

Tue August 13, 2013
Education

Robotics camp promotes hands-on approach to math and technology

The robotics competition
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The study of robotics is dropping down into the middle school curriculum of the Syracuse City School District, starting with a two-week summer camp.

Bryan English, one of the high school teachers who teaches the ins and outs of making the erector set style robots, says the program - which is already employed in the high school - is a way to get students more interested in math and technology classes.

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8:52am

Mon August 12, 2013
Education

Upstate schools work to reduce bullying

Beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, schools across Upstate New York are dealing more and more with school violence.

SUNY Upstate Medical University forensic psychiatrist James Knoll says if a person asks anyone about school violence, they'll answer Columbine or Newtown, Conn.

"Most of the lay public's attention gets focused on the rare, but sensational acts of school violence like school shootings," Knoll said. "But I think it's the more common everyday violence, physical and mental abuse, and bullying... where our efforts are best spent."

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