Jenna Flanagan

Reporter, Innovation Trail, Capital Region

Jenna first knew she was destined for a career in journalism after following the weekly reports of the Muppet News Flash as a child. In high school she wrote for her student newspaper and attended a journalism camp at SUNY New Paltz, her Hudson Valley hometown. Jenna then went on to study communications and journalism at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ where she earned her Bachelor of Arts.

In 1999, Jenna took her first job in the business as a Production Assistant for 1010WINS eventually working her way up to assistant editor. Working in a busy New York newsroom, she quickly learned what it takes to churn out a factual, engaging and newsworthy story on deadline.

From there she took her first on-air position at WBGO, Newark Public Radio and began a lifelong love of public broadcasting. After WBGO, Jenna spent 6 ½ years writing, reporting and producing All Things Considered for WNYC in New York City. Her work has also aired nationally on NPR.

Her television reports can be seen on WMHT's award-winning public affairs show, New York NOW, which airs on PBS stations statewide.

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It may not have taken place around a roulette wheel, but there was a palpable air of suspense as the state Gaming Facility Location Board announced three of the nearly 20 communities hoping to get a piece of the gaming action on Wednesday. The board was entitled to grant up to four licenses.

The five-member volunteer board immediately got down to business, nixing all seven casino proposals in Orange County and approving one Hudson Valley/Catskill site to the Montreign Resort and Casino, located in the tiny village of Thompson in Sullivan County.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

First time farmers gathered at the Stone Barns Center, a teaching farm in rural Westchester County for the Young Farmers Convention. The 3-day conference provides supportive classes and networking opportunities to new businesses in agriculture.

The Stone Barns Center helps young farmers build the foundation they need to for successful, sustainable farms.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Just hours after a Staten Island grand jury ruled there were no grounds to indict a white police officer in the killing of an African American man, Albany’s elected officials, community leaders and members came together to discuss ways to improve policing in the capital cities minority communities. 

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Want to know what crops local farmers are producing? There’s an app for that, or at least there will be one soon.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced federal funding for Greene County food distributor Field Goods, to integrate that technology into their business model.

Donna Williams’ company Field Goods connects many Capital Region and Hudson Valley farms with a larger, diverse consumer base, but it can be tricky.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Winery owners have been stepping up their pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject a proposal to store natural gas liquids in the salt caverns along scenic Seneca Lake.

A small but passionate group of career vineyard farmers and winery owners had one united message to deliver to Albany recently.

“We demand that Gov. Cuomo do the right thing and deny all these permits for gas storage on the west side of Seneca Lake,” says Doug Hazlet, a Seneca Lake vineyard owner.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Everything old is new again, so the saying goes. With that in mind, the Preservation League of New York State announced a plan to repurpose five vacant industrial buildings in the Capital region with the hopes of attracting young professionals and revitalizing communities.

The Industrial Heritage Reuse Project, or "trendy hipster bait," launched on Thursday in hopes of breathing new live into old buildings.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

The National Weather Service predicts 2014 will be a relatively tame hurricane season. But memories of hurricanes like Sandy and Irene, as well as tropical storm Lee, have led Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create the Citizen Preparedness Corps in hopes of training New Yorkers to be their own first responders.

New York State Department of Homeland Security Commissioner Jerome Hauer didn't mince words when he spoke about the Citizen Preparedness Corps training classes.

“Getting the population to deal with a disaster on their own is absolutely critical,” Hauer said.

Some things are better taught outside the school system. That's Paul Green's theory on education. Green isn’t a professional educator, but he’s made music education his life.

The 41-year-old is the founder and owner Paul Green Rock Academy where kids age 8 to 18 learn to rock.

Innovation Trail

The debate over whether a municipality can ban hydraulic fracturing within its borders was brought before the New York State Court of Appeals Tuesday afternoon. The Southern Tier town of Dryden is defending its right to home rule against lawyers representing the bankruptcy trustee for Norse Energy.

Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg says she feels confident bringing the case before the court because home rule is protected by the state constitution and New York isn’t alone.

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Researchers and medical professionals from around the state gathered in Albany to urge acting Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to impose a three- to five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York state.

Yuri Gorby, a researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says the medical community is only just beginning to understand the health impact of hydrofracking, and the moratorium would give New York a chance to make a fully informed decision.

President Barack Obama’s visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was closed to the public, but that didn’t stop protesters from both sides of the hydrofracking debate from heading there anyway.
    
The president was there to talk about upstate tourism, but for many of the other day visitors the economic issue was hydrofracking in the state’s Marcellus shale region.

President Barack Obama and the national press descended on the village of Cooperstown Thursday afternoon. His presence also brought out protesters both for and against the controversial process of drilling for natural gas, known as hydrofracking.

Victor Furman says it’s unfair that New York is beholden to what he calls an unfair moratorium, with such a resource at it’s feet.

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Ulster County residents living along the lower Esopus Creek which drains the south-central Catskills have been noticing a steady decrease in water clarity. It’s because of dirty liquid being released from the upstream Ashokan Reservoir, courtesy of a New York City authority.

The Department of Environmental Conversation held a public comment session recently on the turbidity of Ashokan water.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Albany County officials recently tried to reassure the public over concerns about the crude oil trains that travel through the city. Officials have acknowledged the trains pose a significant risk but they also admit that depending on the nature of an accident, there’s little they can do.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

A campaign by the New York State Community Action Association to change perceptions of poverty was launched last week in Albany. The "From Poverty to Opportunity Tour 2014" is running in conjunction with a series of speaking events around the state that will feature people sharing personal stories of their experience of poverty.

Karla Digirolamo, CEO of the New York State Community Action Association put together the anti-poverty tour to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Economic Opportunity Act or as it's more commonly known, President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty.

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There’s a "Help Wanted" sign at the state Department of Health after Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah announced his resignation effective at end of June.

The commissioner is unlikely to see out the release of a long-awaited health review on the impact of hydrofracking that he was commissioned to produce by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November 2012.

According to Cuomo, salary issues were the reason for his departure, in reported comments made during a meeting with the editorial staff of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Thursday.

New York State Department of Transportation

A clear and present danger hiding in plain sight.

That’s how Cornell University’s Susan Christopherson describes the oil train traffic through the state.

A massive explosion caused by a runaway oil train in Quebec last July has raised awareness about the levels of flammable material being shipped by rail.

Christopherson, a professor of city and regional planning, says New York state finds itself with a mobile oil problem.

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Lawmakers joined advocates for neurological research in Albany recently to lobby the legislature to refund a program they say could change the lives of people living with spinal cord injuries.

Heidi Greenbaum’s son Corey was left paralyzed from the chest down after a car accident six years ago. She says people with spinal cord injuries aren’t as permanently broken as some may think.

Credit Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Mayors from across the state have a bone to pick with the Cuomo administration. It is the governor’s proposal for a two percent tax freeze over two years. It would reward communities with property tax rebates if local governments implement austerity measures to keep their growth under the cap.

It sounds great on the surface, but according to the New York Conference of Mayors in Albany recently, looks can be deceiving.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) wrapped up its annual meeting in Albany this week where county executives discussed the unique needs of New York’s regional governments.

One prominent issue was consolidation. During his budget presentation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo renewed his push for local governments to share more resources as part of a plan to freeze property taxes if counties stay within a two percent cap.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

The winter months can pose a headache for drivers navigating the roads after a snow storm. Plowing can only do so much and too often a slick, hard pack of snow and ice can cover streets making them dangerous to drive.

So what are road crews trying now? Beet juice.

It’s not used everywhere, but it is catching on. The New York State Thruway Authority is one of several state agencies pre-treating and treating roads with and mixture of beet juice extract and brine water.

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There were several big winners amongst the state’s Regional Empire Development Council, as five walked away with more than $80 million each, during the third annual set of awards announced Wednesday.     

Catastrophic storms like Irene, Lee and Superstorm Sandy ravaged much of the Hudson River watershed with flooding and erosion. Environmental advocates and policy makers say that’s evidence that climate change is having a major impact on the quantity and quality of the region’s water supplies.

Stakeholders joined the Hudson River Watershed Alliance and Mohonk Consultations for a conference in New Paltz earlier this week. They called for communities to seize the moment while admitting that changing existing attitudes towards water management can take a long time.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

New York state continues to have a higher percentage of children living in poverty than any other state. Experts in the field gathered in Albany recently to brainstorm ways to deal with the issue at a forum titled "Growing Up in Poverty" organized by the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.

Children growing up in poverty are denied equal access to education according to author and keynote speaker at the Growing Up in Poverty event, Jonathan Kozol.