City of Syracuse

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The number of heroin and opioid overdoses continues to rise in central New York. According to the latest figures from the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s Office, there have been 30 overdose deaths to date in 2016, compared with 52 all of last year.  The opioid epidemic is also starting to affect some of the agencies that deal with people addicted to heroin.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Drivers that use Interstate 690 east to get to Syracuse from the western suburbs will need a little more time for their commute in the coming days. The New York State Department of Transportation is doing some major deck repairs just before the I-690 interchange with Interstate 81 (see maps below), which will shut down a stretch of road that 37,000 drivers use to get into the city of Syracuse every day.

There’s a roadmap now for any organization that wants to take on the task of connecting the broken portion of the statewide Erie Canalway Trail that centers on the Syracuse area. A 15- to 16-mile stretch between Camillus and DeWitt has always been one of the most problematic gaps for advocates trying to create a continuous 360-mile, multi-use trail that follows the historic Erie Canal. If the gap was connected, it would create the longest continuous intrastate multi-use trail in the nation.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

W-18, a new synthetic opioid, may be on the scene in central and northern New York. ACR Health prevention director Erin Bortel said several overdose deaths in the North Country have raised suspicions.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School Board unanimously voted for Jaime Alicea as the interim superintendent of the school district Wednesday night. Alicea has worked in the district for thirty three years, starting out as a kindergarten teacher’s assistant and moving up to most recently the district’s chief operations officer.

“It’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be a great role model for the kids in the district,” Alicea said. “They have to work hard and they will be able to realize their dreams.”

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State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) said a report released late last Friday only deepens his skepticism about Start-Up NY, the Cuomo administration’s economic development program that offers tax breaks to companies that set up shop in certain educational zones. A report on the multi-million dollar program was released three months late and showed just over 400 jobs were created in two years. Defrancisco said a lack of transparency about the program is one of the problems.

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Residents on Syracuse’s Near West Side are looking for ways to move forward after the Father’s Day shooting that involved a police officer and left one man dead. Events like the Celebration of Unity are bringing the community together to heal and address the issue of gun violence.

Rev. Regina Reese-Young was one of the speakers leading the audience in prayer at Skiddy Park where just down the street the shooting took place, like so many others throughout the city.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse City School District superintendent Sharon Contreras, who has led the district since 2011, has been hired as the superintendent of Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will take over that position in August. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Aging homes, poverty and unemployment force too many central New Yorkers to live in housing that just isn’t safe according to the New York state attorney general’s office. So it’s giving Home HeadQuarters $1 million to create the Greater Syracuse Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

Local governments and several agencies have signed a pact promising to support initiatives that will lead to healthy homes. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said one of the big issues will focus on potential lead poisoning from lead paint.

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The city of Syracuse is hoping to get more kids to the library this summer by forgiving overdue fines of cardholders 18 and younger who live in the city. Mayor Stephanie Miner said it’ll cost the city $7,000 this year.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has signed a Syracuse resident hiring ordinance into law. Officials have high hopes that this legislation can cut into the city’s high poverty rate.

The law will require contracts in excess of $100,000 dollars issued by the City of Syracuse, guarantee that at least 20 percent of the hours worked on a job will be done by city residents.

Miner signed her name to the legislation at Syracuse’s Southwest Community Center, saying these opportunities will go a long way in attacking poverty, and its side effects.

At the Oswego Common Council meeting Monday, Mayor Billy Barlow presented his plan for free public WiFi in the city's downtown. The young mayor called it an essential amenity to modernize the port city.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

As warm weather returns to the region, the last things on people’s minds are snowplows. The plows in the city of Syracuse received an upgrade this past winter that allows for more accountability.

GPS navigation tracking is now equipped on Syracuse’s plows and the commissioner of the Department of Public Works, Pete O’Connor, said they can now relay the information it gathers to residents.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

As central New York waits for a decision on the future of the Interstate 81 viaduct through Syracuse, motorists will see road work on the current road in coming months. I-81 project director Mark Frechette calls it band-aiding -- maintenance work to be done this year on a stretch of I-81 that needs to be replaced.

"When you look at the interchange, just between 81 and 690, it has over a million square feet of deck area. So you don’t know where you’ll get a hole, or a beam will deteriorate, or an accident will knock down signage or a guard rail,” said Frechette.

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The city of Syracuse is filling more potholes than usual as it embarks on a more data-driven strategy to fixing crumbling streets.

"We have, since April, filled 3,260 potholes,” said Mayor Stephanie Miner.

She said what you can’t see during this process may be the most important: every time the DuroPatcher goes to work, a GPS-enabled device on the vehicle keeps track of where and when a pothole is filled.  

The Syracuse Police Department has had tensions with the city’s Citizen Review Board, as well as ongoing conflicts with the county district attorney’s office.  This week on the Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher talks with Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler about those issues, as well as the national problem of police shootings of unarmed citizens and other police abuse—and the effect they have on police-community relations.  They also discuss the facts and the myths about crime in Syracuse.

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When Melissa Ives was recovering from a brutal motorcycle accident, the opioid medication she was prescribed helped mask the pain. But eventually, those pills ran out so she turned to a cheaper alternative - heroin.

Hearings will begin today at Syracuse’s Common Council on Mayor Stephanie Miner’s 2016-17 proposed budget. The budget is a mix of costs and revenues rising in some areas and shrinking in others.

“Government is always challenging, but no more so than today,” Miner said.

In a video and letter to the Common Council released with her proposed budget, Miner said Syracuse will face financial challenges in the year ahead. Her proposed budget faces a $12.1 million shortfall that will be balanced using reserve funds bringing the reserve total down to $42.9 million.

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After spending much of the last week in New York City, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is bringing his campaign to upstate New York this week, ahead of the state's primary April 19.

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Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said there are too many unanswered questions about the proposed government merger between her city and Onondaga County. Miner weighed in on the Consensus CNY recommendations for the first time since they were revealed earlier this year, telling Onondaga County's Conservative Party over the weekend that she cannot definitively support or oppose the consolidation plan without more information.

For the last two weeks on the Campbell Conversations, you've heard from two proponents of the preliminary Consensus Report regarding government consolodation in the Syracuse region.  This week on the program, host Grant Reeher talks with two critics, Syracuse City Councilor Khalid Bey and Town of Clay Assessor Rob Bick.  Together, they raise concerns about the need for change, the cost and tax implications of the recommendations, political representation, the impact on education and school taxes, and the process for considering and implementing the report.

centro.org

A tracking system that shows customers where Centro buses are in real time is in a test stage in Syracuse.

Bus Tracker is already in place in Centro’s smaller markets, Auburn, Oswego, Rome and Utica. But the bus company just finished geocoding the system in Syracuse. Centro spokesman Steve Koegel says now that’s done, patrons can actually see buses moving along a bus route in Syracuse.  

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News file photo

Residents are being asked to offer up opinions about government consolidation tonight at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse, the latest public forum about modernizing the way government runs in Onondaga County.  It’s the first session since Consensus CNY decided to take the public engagement portion of the process into mid-Spring.

Last week, Campbell Conversation host Grant Reeher spoke with former Congressman Jim Walsh and CenterStateCEO President Rob Simpson about the Commission on Local Government Modernization’s Consensus Report regarding government consolidation.  Their conversation continues this week, with a focus on the objections that have been raised about the report’s recommendations, and how those recommendations might impact taxes, schools, and other important aspects of life in Central N

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Residents of Onondaga County will have more time to have their say about reorganizing local government. There have been calls for more time to look at an 80-page report that includes 51 recommendations for changing the way government works in central New York.

The deadline for public comment had been March 16. But Friday morning, Consensus CNY extended the comment period by six weeks, to May 1.

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A new Interstate 81 isn’t the only change in central New York’s transportation system  on the horizon.  The Syracuse Metropolitan Area Regional Transportation Council has started looking at the feasibility of light rail or bus rapid transit along certain corridors in Syracuse.

Council Director Jim D’Agostino says the Syracuse Metropolitan Area Regional Transit Study, or SMART, actually grew out of the Interstate 81 discussion.

Syracuse Police Department

Updated at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday

Twenty-one-month-old Maddox Lawrence, missing since late Saturday, was found dead in Syracuse's Inner Harbor Tuesday, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said during a news conference. Lawrence's father, 24-year-old Ryan Lawrence, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with Maddox's death.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A State Supreme Court Judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the city of Syracuse against COR Development.

At the center of the legal action -- tax breaks, and whether the developer promised the city that they wouldn’t seek any. 

As New York state prepares to restore the former New York Central train platform next to Interstate 690 in Syracuse, arts enthusiasts want to ensure that the public art on that platform, stays.

They’ve been waiting for the night train for over 30 years. White statues that mimic passengers on a crumbling train platform. They have no faces, these ghostlike commuters, with only a splash of color when red scarves mysteriously appear around their necks every winter, reminding passersby of a time when trains and not cars carried most central New Yorkers in and out of Syracuse.    

When columnist Sean Kirst announced he was leaving The Syracuse Post-Standard, there was a public outpouring of appreciation and loss.  Described as the heart and soul and the face of the paper, Kirst had chronicled the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the city and its people.  On this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Kirst about his decision to leave, the place of writing in his life, his future plans, the newspaper, and some pressing local issues.

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