Onondaga County

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County lawmakers will vote Tuesday on County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s $1.3 billion budget. Legislators have made some tweaks to the spending plan following budget hearings. But a dispute over staffing cuts in the comptroller’s department could be the most controversial issue.

WRVO News File Photo

New York State is touting online voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles this year, noting that more people then ever used the online system last month. However, with the deadline to register just days away, local Board of Election officials suggest potential voters be wary of it, and to make sure they get registered pick up or download a registration form and mail it in.

Onondaga County Republican Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggens has been skittish about the DMV system since last spring’s presidential primary.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Visitors to Onondaga Lake Park have always been able to rent bikes. But now a new bike share program makes the whole process a lot easier.

Big white and orange bikes are attached to bright orange bike stands at the park, available for anyone who wants to take them for a spin on the seven miles of trails that hug the shore of Onondaga Lake.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

There seems to be plenty of interest from Onondaga County employees in an early retirement program. County officials hope that interest is real, because if not enough employees take advantage of it, there will have to be layoffs.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney took a page out of recommendations made by the government consolidation group Consensus for one of the cornerstone proposals in her 2017 proposed budget. Mahoney wants to merge the agencies that deliver water to taps across Onondaga County.

The way things work now, the county-run Metropolitan Water Board is in charge of bringing water to Onondaga County. Then OCWA, the independent Onondaga County Water Authority, sells it to businesses and homeowners.

Mahoney’s plan would fold the operations of the county-run department into OCWA.

The former Executive Director of the Central New York SPCA, and a veterinary technician at the shelter, have been arraigned on charges that they embezzled nearly $700,000 from shelter’s accounts.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse has adopted new floodplain maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More than 600 properties in Syracuse have been added, bringing the total to more than 1,600 properties that could be required to have flood insurance.

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner said the city needed to adopt the maps so affected residents can get a discount on flood insurance. That discount is about 15 percent. Kessner also said residents can appeal the decision if their property is now on the flood maps.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County started a program this week at the Onondaga County Justice Center and the Jamesville Corrections Facility aimed at helping opioid addicts stay clean after they are released from jail. Now, some inmates who are also addicts will be offered a medication that takes away their craving for drugs.

Officials say almost one-third of the population at the Justice Center in downtown Syracuse is addicted to opiates, many of them no stranger to the holding facility.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Central New York is home to some new strategies meant to help victims of the heroin and opioid epidemic. The strategies include new kinds of support for families of victims, and for individuals recovering from overdoses.

Onondaga County’s new peer engagement specialist, Maria Sweeney, has started to make connections in central New York emergency rooms, to help individuals recovering from a drug abuse issue. She says often there is no one to offer support for recovery, once an addict is released from the hospital.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

A judge has denied motions to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Onondaga County comptroller against the Onondaga County executive and legislature over pay raises. The defendants will now have to respond to the lawsuit by August 8.

Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci said the attorneys representing the county executive and legislature will now have to address whether the resolutions the legislature passed in December giving pay raises to themselves and the county executive were legal. The defendants said this has been done before. Antonacci said that is false.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The state health department is prepared, if a case of the Zika virus develops in New York state. While officials want to be ready for the worst, they’re finding some positives in the reaction to the latest insect driven disease, that at its worst, causes birth defects in newborns.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

The candidates in the race for the 24th Congressional District are previewing some of what's in store for the campaign ahead. 

Shortly after basking in the success of her primary victory Tuesday night, Democratic candidate Colleen Deacon, a former staffer for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), quickly shifted to the general election.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The last time Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) campaigned in Syracuse, he did so on behalf of his own presidential bid. Even though he has not yet conceded the race to Secretary Hillary Clinton, he spoke on Friday about his desire to shape the future of the party as an advocate rather than a candidate.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Onondaga County on yesterday to sign into law a bill that holds banks accountable for vacant or abandoned properties seized through foreclosures. These “zombie properties” as they are known, can bring down the value of other houses in the same neighborhood.

Standing in front of one of these “zombie properties” in the village of Solvay, with weeds creeping up on an unkempt lawn, Cuomo said it was just another example of banks avoiding their responsibilities.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County legislators are questioning the expenses and revenues coming out of the new Lakeview Amphitheater along Onondaga Lake. Legislators want more information regarding who pays for what on everything ranging from buses to bathrooms. Legislator Kevin Holmquist said a lot of money is exchanging hands. He is pushing for a facility-use fee for the future upkeep and maintenance of the amphitheater.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A lack of transportation is one of the biggest obstacles for people trying to climb out of poverty. But now one Syracuse-area program that is helping fill that gap, is hoping to expand.

It’s been a year since Providence Services of Syracuse started a Ride to Work pilot program that helps unemployed people accept jobs they might not ordinarily get, because of a lack of transportation. And Providence President Deborah Hundley has been amazed at how quickly the participants have been able to wean themselves off a transportation subsidy.

Derek Key / Flickr

Oneida County residents will not be able to purchase fireworks for the July Fourth holiday this year. The county executive, Anthony Picente, has vetoed a bill from the Oneida County Board of Legislators that would have allowed the sale of sparklers and small, fountain-style fireworks. He cited safety concerns.

Gravitywave / via Flickr

Central New York Health officials say its that time of year to start thinking about preventing mosquito bites. Memorial Day signals the start of warm weather that means prime breeding conditions for mosquitoes and every year, it means health officials throughout the region go on the offensive as the West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis can begin percolating among the insects that live here.

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Indu Gupta says prevention is the only way to deal with these diseases. 

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.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Oswego Common Council passed a law that requires second-hand stores, like pawn shops, to keep a detailed record of any items they buy and who sells it to them so police can track down stolen material. And, the stores would also have to keep any items they buy on the shelves for at least a week. It's modeled after similar anti-burglary laws in Syracuse, Onondaga county and Fulton.

Jason Braun, owner of the Wise Guyz pawn shop in Fulton, said the change will mean fewer thieves will be able to exploit unregulated Oswego pawn shops.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

An elevated museum of sorts, bike trails, a blooming bridge, an outdoor ice skating park. Those are all some of the ideas that have been submitted to the “Elevating Erie” competition, focused on revamping Erie Boulevard East in Onondaga County. Now it’s time for the public to weigh in on potential projects that could turn six drab lanes of traffic into an historic and recreational destination.

Wayne Marshall / via Flickr

Onondaga County and the city of Syracuse have applied for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to continue a lead paint removal program. The city has be unsuccessful in its last two attempts at funding since its program was put on probation in 2013.

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