Onondaga County

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Progress is being made on a nearly $50 million renovation of Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The recently passed state budget includes $35 million for the project which will feature a new center lobby, terminal exterior and ticket counters.

Executive Director Christina Callahan said the center lobby will turn into a grand hall and be more modernized.

Tom Sinon / Flickr

Anti-smoking advocates in Onondaga County are pushing to raise the county’s legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 19 to 21. The Tobacco Action Coalition of Onondaga County says this would have a dramatic effect in reducing the number of teens and young adults that get addicted to nicotine. 

Physician Leslie Kohman of the Upstate Cancer Center says the change would restrict the amount of access teenagers have to tobacco products.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

With lawmakers in Albany preoccupied with getting the budget done by week’s end, groups have to get creative to gain attention. Supporters of spending for public defense for the poor came up with one way: a “Wheel of Fortune”-style game staged right in the middle of the action.

The New York Civil Liberties Union chose a busy corridor in the Capitol between lawmakers’ offices and the Senate and Assembly chambers to hold a contest featuring a brightly colored wheel styled after the one on the iconic television show.

U.S. Census Bureau / Empire Center for Public Policy

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that New York's statewide population fell for the first time in a decade, largely a result of upstate population losses outpacing the gains made downstate.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County could soon be the latest county in the state to follow a trend that puts animal abusers on a comprehensive list.

Stephanie Heath, of the Cuse Pit Crew in Syracuse, says right now there’s nothing stopping someone who’s been convicted of animal abuse from adopting an animal from her shelter.

“When an adopter comes to a shelter, they have to do an application. And we can only go so far with an application process, and a home check and a reference check and a vet reference.”

So she is all for creating an animal abuser registry in Onondaga County.

Wayne Marshall / via Flickr

After three years of rejection, the city of Syracuse is again applying for federal funding to reduce childhood lead poisoning. The money would be used to eliminate the hazards in a home that can result in lead poisoning. Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development Paul Driscoll said this year’s application will also include inspecting homes for other potential dangers.

"It could be mold, radon, asbestos or pest infestation that leads to asthma," Driscoll said. "We’re trying to address all the health hazards in a house with one visit, one application."

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

In a wide ranging State of the County speech last night, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney went on the defensive, saying many economic development projects, proposals and plans are often unfairly represented by critics across Central New York.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO File Photo

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney continues to be one of the only public officials willing to let the Consensus Commission proposal to create a municipal government play out. Mahoney suggests opponents are drowning out many of the facts in the debate over government consolidation.

Mahoney is on a political island locally, when it comes to the Consensus Commission proposal to create a new metropolitan government if a public referendum warrants it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse Jazz Fest is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. It will be held June 9 and 10 at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse. Jazz Fest founder Frank Malfitano says this anniversary is actually an impressive milestone.

"There are very few festivals in the country that have reached age 35 and they’re all in markets larger than us,” said Malfitano.” Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey[California] Jazz Festival, that’s been around 60 years. Chicago, Detroit, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and that’s it.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner isn’t backing down from her opposition to a proposal to merge the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County into a metropolitan government. The mayor doesn’t see any benefit to city residents in the 50 proposals included in the final report of the Consensus Commission on government consolidation.

Miner says if followed through, the recommendation to create a metropolitan government, would leave the city in a weak position on a couple of fronts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Consensus Commission’s final report on government modernization for central New York is in. There are 50 recommendations that propose government consolidation in the areas of infrastructure, public safety, municipal operations and economic development. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

More changes are on the way for the New York State Fair. The fair will be longer starting this year, going from 12 days to 13. During a stop in Syracuse Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced more specific plans for a $70 million investment in the second phase of a revitalization of the State Fairgrounds.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr (File Photo)

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development programs is being downsized in his new state budget. Start-Up NY is being rebranded as other economic development projects have suffered setbacks.

The Start-Up NY program — which offered 10 years of freedom from income, business and other taxes to companies that sought to begin a business on a college campus — initially was a centerpiece of Cuomo’s big plans for more jobs in upstate New York.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank recently made its 400th sale after it began selling tax-delinquent properties in 2013. The land bank's goals for the new year are to expand outside the city and address health concerns about their properties.

That 400th sale was a home in Syracuse that was listed in the Land Bank’s Home Ownership Choice program, which requires buyers to live on the property or to renovate and sell to an owner-occupant within a year. Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said most of the properties they sell are fixer-uppers.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Syracuse Hancock International Airport will be getting a multi-million dollar makeover thanks to the Cuomo administration. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at a regional State of the State Address in Syracuse Wednesday.

Consensus CNY

It’s been almost a year since the Consensus CNY creleased more than 50 recommendations for modernizing government in Onondaga County. After months of meetings and public forums early last year, the volunteer group has yet to release a final report, and one local legislative leader says whenever it finally comes out, central New Yorkers won’t see big changes anytime soon.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci is being considered for a job in the Trump administration. The Republican says he was approached by members of the Trump transition team to consider a job as the U.S. attorney for New York’s Northern District.

It’s a job in the past that generally goes to someone with experience as a prosecutor. Antonacci is a civil attorney, but says it’s more than the experience in the courtroom that counts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

One of the goals of the Onondaga County Legislature in 2017 will be updating of the county’s comprehensive plan that guides planning and economic development. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon will be appointing a special committee that will look through all the comprehensive development plans that have been drafted by various groups and governments in recent years across central New York. McMahon says the idea is to review these plans and the options they present, then move on legislation to deal with future development.

Doug Kerr / via Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers on Tuesday will ask the state to consider eliminating tolls for local travelers on the New York State Thruway.

Sidsel Overgaard / WRVO News File Photo

Lyme disease continues to plague certain areas of central New York, and a special committee created by Onondaga County is hoping to help.

Dave Skeval, the chair of the Onondaga County Deer and Management Advisory Committee, says the goal is to reduce human’s exposure to the tick that carries the disease. That tick is often found on white-tailed deer.

"I’m looking forward to fewer people being exposed to Lyme disease and contracting Lyme disease, because it is a hideous disease, and if you contract it and it has not been diagnosed, it will ruin your life,” said Skeval.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The era of Howard Johnson’s Restaurants and Motor Lodges is long gone. But a vestige of the one of the largest hospitality chains in the country remained for years in central New York, on Carrier Circle in DeWitt. Now, after years of negotiation, a deal has been struck that allows access to the property, so the iconic orange roof has finally come down.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The fight to end the practice of putting teens in solitary confinement at the Onondaga County Justice Center continues, and it’s taking place on two fronts.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a class-action lawsuit claiming the policy violates the Constitution, and harms young people. And groups like the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, or ACTS for short, is trying to raise awareness about the practice, with protests and discussions with county officials.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Unofficial election results show a slight increase in turnout among New Yorkers this year as compared to 2012, but turnout in many northern and central New York counties decreased.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Board of Elections is unveiling some new software for Election Day that will allow website visitors to look at vote totals as they come in by geographic location. Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says it’s something voters have never had access to before on election night.

"The voters will know how their neighborhoods have voted and they can see how their individual vote matters," Czarny said.   

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There’s a good chance you’ll be voting at a school on Tuesday. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says they’re just good places to hold elections.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney rolled up her sleeve this week, not to work, but to show central New Yorkers how easy it is to get a flu shot.

"This took me less than a minute, and if you get the flu, you are down for a couple days and you’re making everybody around you sick,” Mahoney said. “It is a much better use of your time to take one minute and get your flu shot.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A court ruling doesn’t seem to have quashed the bad blood between the Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci and County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s administration. Both sides are claiming victory following a lawsuit that accused county lawmakers of illegally giving themselves and other elected officials a raise last year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The opioid epidemic claims more victims than those who die of an overdose. Families, friends and loved ones are left living through grief singed with shame and judgment. But there’s now somewhere they can go to get help in central New York.

Quinnika Ayers of Syracuse lost her son Drequan Robinson last year to a lethal cocktail of MDMA, Zanax and fentanyl. He was a student at SUNY Morrisville, and was found unresponsive at a friend’s home after a party. Ayers says Robinson had a troubled youth, but felt he’d turned a corner—or so she thought.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Onondaga County Legislature has approved a $1.3 billion budget for next year. The spending plan includes the lowest tax rate ever in Onondaga County, and lawmakers agreed on a water agency consolidation that will save money down the road. But lawsuits and early retirement offers hung over much of the budget decision.

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