Payne Horning

Reporter, Oswego

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.

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Gino Geruntino / WRVO News File Photo

In his first executive action, Oswego Mayor William Barlow restored the winter parking ban on city streets and highways from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. It's a reversal from the contentious policy last year of alternate side parking, which former Mayor Thomas Gillen implemented.

The ban is effective immediately, pending approval from the Oswego Common Council's traffic committee, which Barlow said is "very, very likely."

In response to a wave of minority student protests at universities across the country, like at Ithaca College, the State University of New York (SUNY) is enacting mandatory reforms meant to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced Monday at the annual State of the University Address that the system's 64 campuses will be required to appoint a chief diversity officer over the next year. In addition, staff will complete cultural competency training and each campus will be required to submit its progress annually.

kristen_a / Flickr

Not even a week into the job and officials in the town of Scriba are already trying to fire the new superintendent of highways.

Superintendent Mike Barry was arrested in July 2015, registering a blood alcohol content of .14, his second DWI charge in recent years. Then in November, Barry was elected as the town's next superintendent of highways in Scriba. Scriba town Supervisor Ken Burdick said that only happened because the town was unaware of the charge until after the election.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates nuclear power plants, is allowing the public more time to weigh in on how nuclear power plants are shut down as it considers changes to how the plants close, or decommission. It's a lengthy process that can take decades as the fuel decays and funds to pay for the shut down build up. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Anger was palpable at Oswego's Common Council meeting Monday evening over an increase in sewer and water rates. 

Many in the crowd voiced their displeasure with the Council for its December vote that increased flat water rates by $212 a year and metered rates by $152 a year. Some residents feel the cost of living in the city is becoming too high.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The state of New York's energy market changed dramatically in 2015. As natural gas and renewable sources took center stage, nuclear power sources like Oswego County's FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant were squeezed.

Beit Hatfutsut Museum / Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum

When Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested recently that the U.S. should block Muslims from entering the country over fears of terrorism, he cited former President Franklin Roosevelt's infamous decision to place some Japanese citizens into internment camps following the attacks on Pearl Harbor. But, FDR also opened a different kind of camp in Oswego in spite of the anti-immigration sentiment from Congress at the time.

SUNY Oswego / Facebook

There are 615 people who count on the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County for more than just their energy; they rely on its paychecks too. A loss of those jobs could be disastrous for Oswego County, whose unemployment rate is among the highest in the state.

Shawn Doyle is one of the plant's employees. He has worked as a security guard at FitzPatrick for 28 years. Since announcing in November that it will begin shutting down the facility by early 2017, Entergy has begun telling some workers when they will be let go.

Credit Diliff / Wikimedia Commons

A study is underway that some New York officials are hoping will save Oswego County's FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant.

When Entergy notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in November that it planned to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in about a year, it triggered a ninety-day study. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the $500 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative award to central New York signals a turning of the tide for the area. The region's economic development plan was one of three big winners in Cuomo's competition to invest $1.5 billion in upstate. At a ceremony in Syracuse Sunday to commemorate the region's success, Cuomo said this investment in upstate rights a wrong.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

As New York's unemployment rate continues to fall -- even surpassing the national average -- Oswego County is being left behind. Its latest unemployment rate was the second worst in the state.

"Like the rest of the country, you were hit pretty hard by the recession. But unlike other parts of the country that started pulling out and growing jobs after the great recession, you all flat lined and created a new normal," said Rob Krupricka, a consultant Oswego County hired to study its stagnating economy.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

As the state plans to implement the governor's goal for double the amount of renewable energy on the market, a new study says losing upstate nuclear power plants would be a major set back for the initiative. The findings suggest that without nuclear power utilities would turn to fossil fuels over renewable sources.

Entergy/FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

As state officials seek a way to keep the struggling Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant open, a new study finds that losing them could lead to higher electricity prices.

The Brattle Group, an economic consultant firm, published a study this week that finds upstate nuclear power plants in New York -- Fitzpatrick, Ginna and Nine Mile -- hold energy prices down. 

David Sommerstein / NCPR file photo

When Entergy first announced in November that they would close Fitzpatrick, some elected officials suggested that Exelon could potentially play a role in saving the plant. That prospect looks very dim now.

"There have been high level CEO to CEO discussions. However, no deal has been reached and Exelon has stated it’s not interested in purchasing FitzPatrick," said Tammy Holden, spokeswoman for the plant.

Matt Champlin / Flickr

As world leaders look for ways to combat climate change in Paris, New York officials are working on their own plan for a green future in the state.

Payne Horning, Leah Landry / WRVO News

Cities across upstate are targeting employee overtime as they wrestle with budget shortfalls. In Oswego, the city spends more than $1 million a year in overtime expenses. The costs were a key issue candidates pledged to fix during the city's recent mayoral election. Now, Mayor-elect Billy Barlow is trying to make good on that promise, saying he will make addressing overtime a top priority when he assumes office in January.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

A new plan has been proposed to keep the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County open. But it may not be enough.

When Entergy announced earlier this month that it will close the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant, they cited potential economic losses. Yet some New York officials are suggesting that wasn't the whole story.

"Placing our families and students in the cross hairs in the Indian Point debate is unacceptable," said Sean Bruno, the Mexico School District superintendent. He said Fitzpatrick is being used as leverage.

Payne Horning, Leah Landry / WRVO News

Oswego officials commemorated the completion of its $19 million breakwater wall renovation Wednesday. The Oswego Harbor's wall stops incoming waves, but the magnitude of 2012's Superstorm Sandy devastated the structure.

"Just three years ago, Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeast," said Lt. Col. Karl Jansen, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo district. "A lot of that attention goes to the Atlantic coast, but it impacted the great lakes, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to a degree as well."

County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency

Entergy said it will close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant because it wasn't economically viable. Gov. Andrew Cuomo scolded that statement, saying there is much more in a company's "bottom line." As uncertainty about the plant's future grows, a new campaign to keep FitzPatrick open is putting a face on the issue.

Benketaro / Flickr

Construction is underway on the Lago Resort and Casino in Seneca County. But, that isn't stopping other casinos in the region from rallying to  block it.

Entergy

Despite two attempts at negotiations with New York state, Entergy said those talks were unsuccessful and are now over. The company will close the James A. Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant at the end of its current fuel cycle in about a year.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A group of volunteers in Oswego are working with state officials to elevate Fort Ontario and its Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum to a national, and even possibly global, status.

First constructed in 1759, Fort Ontario has undergone many changes in its history. It was defended and destroyed by both the British and the United States. Then during World War II, Fort Ontario became a refugee camp for European Jews and in 1953, it opened as a state historic site. Now, a grassroots campaign hopes to see the fort transform once again. 

SU professional and technical writing / via Flickr

A six-year highway funding bill passed by the House of Representatives last week would remove $564 million from New York's current federal transportation funding.

A last-minute amendment to the House bill would move $1.6 billion in funding from seven Northeastern states to a general discretionary fund for use by the entire nation. Current law allows these high density areas to receive the extra funding because they account for half of all transit in the country. Sen. Charles Schumer said the loss of funding for New York is a travesty for the state's transit system.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

What is in store for Oswego County if Entergy moves forward with its plan to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant? One clue may lie in Vermont, where Entergy closed a similarly-sized nuclear plant a year ago. WRVO's Payne Horning spoke with John Dillon, the news director at Vermont Public Radio, about what's happened to the town of Vernon, Vermont, since Entergy announced the closure of the Yankee Nuclear Power Plant last December.

Entergy/FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant

The future of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant is once again up for negotiation. That is a direct reversal from earlier this week when Entergy said it would close the plant and state officials objected -  vowing to fight the company. More than 600 jobs hang in the balance.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Talks over the future of the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego County  have resumed between Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office and Entergy, which owns the plant. 

Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said he is in talks with the president of Entergy, about keeping the facility open. Entergy announced this week that it will close Fitzpatrick in about a year due to falling energy prices. They also complained about a lack of state financial assistance for the nuclear industry.

Entergy

State officials are saying they were caught by surprise Monday when Entergy announced it plans to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego County. New York state had been in talks with Entergy, but the company said it didn't get the agreement it was looking for. But, state leaders are saying if the talks are not reopened, they will take matters into their own hands. 

Entergy

Updated 12:45 p.m.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the following statement on Entergy's decision to close the FitzPatrick Nuclear Plant:

"The closing of the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant will devastate the lives of more than 600 employees and their families. Good corporate citizenship must appreciate that there are many factors that count as the 'bottom line.' The State of New York will pursue every legal and regulatory avenue in an attempt to stop Entergy's actions and its callous disregard for their skilled and loyal workforce."

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