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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6:43am

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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1:57pm

Fri August 9, 2013
Regional Coverage

Red Cross chapter moves into new Syracuse offices

The Red Cross of Central New York moved into a former auto dealer in downtown Syracuse this week.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The large windows that now face out onto the 300 block of West Genesee Street in the early 1900's used to display expensive roadsters made by the Chalmers Motor Car Company in Syracuse. They now are part of the new offices of the Red Cross of Central New York.

That sense of history attracted the charity to the location when they needed a more practical office space than the former one at Herald Place.

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8:20am

Fri August 9, 2013
Politics

Syracuse Councilor-at-Large candidates discuss city government

Three candidates running for Syracuse Common Councilor-at-Large in a September primary joined Grant Reheer's Campbell Conversation to talk about the role of the city's legislative branch of government.

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7:22am

Thu August 8, 2013
Regional Coverage

More police cameras being added to Syracuse's north side

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announcing the new cameras along with neighbors from the city's Northside.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has announced that more police cameras will be going up in a part of the city's north side that has seen some high profile crime recently. The Syracuse Police Department will add seven cameras to the two currently tracking crime on Butternut Street. She says residents asked for more cameras, including Pond Street businessman Jai Suvedi, who says the current cameras have made a difference.

"So as we see Butternut Street between now and before, is totally changed, in this corridor," Suvedi said. "A lot of the crimes have decreased."

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7:10am

Thu August 8, 2013
Education

Syracuse City School District Superintendent not surprised by low state test scores

Syracuse Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras says she was not surprised with the state's poor testing results.
Credit The Syracuse City School District

Only about a third of New York state's third through eighth grade students met the new tougher standards from April's round of state mandated English and math tests. That's about half as many as last year, before the new Common Core Curriculum was adopted in the state. For an urban school district like the Syracuse City School District, scores were in the single digits. Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras expected the test results to be bad.

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2:45pm

Wed August 7, 2013
Politics and Government

Common Council votes to turn properties over to Land Bank

Syracuse Common Councilors started the process of turning over tax-delinquent properties to the new Land Bank of Syracuse and Onondaga County on Monday, beginning a new era as the city tries to get rid of many dilapidated or abandoned properties that have been a blight on some neighborhoods, and a burden for tax collectors.

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5:54am

Wed August 7, 2013
Education

Maffei says federal education initivatives are not working in central New York

Rep. Dan Maffei listens to concerns at a roundtable on education
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Education was on the mind of Syracuse-area Cong. Dan Maffei this week at a roundtable involving teachers, parents and administrators, and he got the sense that the current federal education policy is not working in schools in central New York.  

Maffei spoke specifically on the Race to the Top program, which pits states against each other in order to get federal funds, and he had some issues with it.

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6:33am

Tue August 6, 2013
Education

Syracuse mayoral candidate proposes education program for city

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse mayoral hopeful Pat Hogan is proposing a ten-point education program for the Syracuse City School District. He's one of four candidates in a Democratic primary for mayor that includes incumbent Stephanie Miner.

Hogan calls education the elephant in the room when it comes to issues facing the city today. He says it's the perceived state of the city schools that drives many families to the suburbs.   

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7:27am

Mon August 5, 2013
The Upstate Economy

Destiny USA's impact one year later

Officials celebrate the one year birthday of Destiny USA.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The first year of Destiny USA has been a boon to the tourism industry in central New York, according to tourism officials. David Holder, president of the Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau says hotel occupancy figures show a marked increase in visitors when the bureau promotes the mall/entertainment venue. He says the geographic origin of those visitors also tells the tale.

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7:31am

Fri August 2, 2013
Environment

Emerald Ash Borer discovered in Onondaga County

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Now that the Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, has been discovered in Onondaga County a special task force will begin making decisions about the future of ash trees, which account for 13 percent of the trees in central New York.

The EAB can kill an ash tree in as little as two years. Central New York Emerald Ash Borer Task Force member David Coburn says the result is that many trees will either be treated with pesticide or chopped down.

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2:57pm

Thu August 1, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse airport receives federal grant

Hancock International Airport
City of Syracuse/Department of Aviation

Syracuse's Hancock Airport is getting a $4.5 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration that officials say will help keep flights on time.  Airport Commissioner Christina Callahan says the funds will pay for a new taxiway, and area where diverted planes can go.

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8:30am

Thu August 1, 2013
Regional Coverage

Syracuse weighs options for taking over delinquent owner-occupied properties

The city of Syracuse is cracking down on property owners who don't pay taxes. But, as lawmakers prepare to vote on whether the city should seize over 100 tax delinquent properties, there are some concerns about those properties that aren't vacant.

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8:38am

Mon July 29, 2013
Politics and Government

Valesky says bipartisan coalition was successful

nysenate.gov

Syracuse-area state Senator Dave Valesky says the bipartisan coalition that governs the New York Senate was successful this year.

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9:01am

Fri July 26, 2013
Agriculture

Madison County farms see younger people take the helm

Younger people are taking up farming in Madison County, even though the national average age for farmers is approaching 60.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average age of a farmer in 2012 was 57. Forty percent of all farmers right now are over the age of 55. But in an era of increasing age among the men and women who grow our food, there are some younger people bucking the trend. Some of these new farmers are sending down roots in Madison County.

The cadre of 20 and 30-somethings running Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia are as likely to have a smartphone in their pocket as a pitchfork in their hands.

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8:33am

Thu July 25, 2013
Education

LeMoyne sees rise in students attending Madden School of Business

Dean Jim Joseph stands in front of the new Madden School of Business facility that'll open up this semester.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

LeMoyne's Madden School of Business is seeing a big jump in enrollment. Incoming Dean Jim Joseph says there is a 34 percent increase in enrollment in the business school this semester.

"The last ten years, the average class size of the business school has been in the 90 plus range," Joseph said. "This year, our incoming class will be 126."

The goal is to attract 150 students next year. He says the school's global programs and experiential learning are some of the reasons that the Madden school is seeing that enrollment increase.

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