Onondaga County

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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.

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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.

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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 File Photo

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.

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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.

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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 File Photo

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.

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