Regional Coverage

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Last week was a bad week for historic buildings in Syracuse.  First, the city’s Land Bank demolished what was known as the Gothic Cottage, a more than 150-year-old historic home on South Salina Street.  A day later, a portion of a more than century old four-story brick building on South Salina Street’s 300 block collapsed. The building was vacant, but created a gaping hole and a dangerous situation for anyone who ventured nearby. The city demolished the building over the weekend.

Zach Hirsch / NCPR File Photo

David Sweat said he escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility last summer to get away from abusive conditions inside the prison. And he apologized for the anxiety he caused when he broke out.

Sweat made those statements at a sentencing hearing in Plattsburgh yesterday, where he was sentenced to 7-14 years behind bars for felony charges related to the escape.

That penalty will be added to Sweat’s current life sentence. Sweat pleaded guilty last year. But in the judge’s chambers, before things got started, he tried to change his plea to “not guilty.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Community activists in Syracuse are calling on Onondaga County to make changes in policies that prevent family members from seeing deceased loved ones at the medical examiner’s office in a timely manner. This often involves who are pronounced dead at a crime scene, instead of a hospital.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Honeywell International has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years dredging and capping Onondaga Lake to remove and contain toxic chemicals from decades of pollution. But documents submitted by Honeywell to the state Department of Environmental Conservation show that the caps holding back the toxic sediments in the lake have failed three times since 2012.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The United Way of Central New York has organized a new anti-poverty coalition to identify the biggest hurdles to getting out of poverty and to come up with policy solutions. The coalition is made up of people from a variety of different nonprofit organizations in the area that work with those in poverty on a daily basis.

Jonathan Greenwald / Flickr, Creative Commons

At least every couple of years – in the middle of the winter – federal officials try to count how many people are homeless in the U.S.

Agencies who work with the homeless give out a survey called the point-in-time count, and that’s what’s happening all this week.

It’s bad timing in the North Country, according to advocates for the homeless. They say a lot of people are skipped over, leading to inaccurate numbers.

Homeless advocates in Onondaga County say there are no known individuals sleeping outside at this time. 

But while agencies and advocates have gotten homeless individuals to sleep inside during the dead of winter, they have heard that some are moving instead into abandoned buildings. And that is not a good alternative, according to Dan Sieberg, chair of the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Syracuse Fire Department / Syracuse Fire Department Facebook page

Several fires in Syracuse since the beginning of January have resulted in two recent fatalities, including that of a 13-year-old girl. One reason why more fires tend to occur during the winter season is because of makeshift heating sources.

Investigators said they are confident that unattended candles started the fire in Syracuse that resulted in the death of a 13-year-old girl. There was no heat or power in the home. Last week, a 31-year-old woman died after a fire was believed to have been started at or near the stove in the early morning.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Onondaga County held a heroin and opioid forum to provide information on the drug epidemic and how users can get help. Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta said people who are addicted to prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to become addicted to heroin.

geneseoknights.com

Geneseo Police are describing a murder-suicide as being the event that led to the stabbing deaths of three people early Sunday morning in the village.

They say that 24-year-old Colin Kingston of Geneseo, who recently broke up with 21-year-old Kelsey Annese of Webster after a three-year relationship, had been distraught when he went to the house that Annese lived in.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Greater Syracuse Labor Council and the United Way of Central New York are holding their annual food and clothing drive in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Last year the organizations provided items to more than 300 families with the help of almost 150 volunteers.

Helen Hudson works for both the Labor Council and the United Way and said volunteers will sort through the donated items to be delivered to women’s shelters and various churches.

Whitesboro Village

After an informal vote was held in the village of Whitesboro, residents chose to keep their controversial village seal the same. It depicts a scene where the founder of Whitesboro is wrestling an Oneida native to the ground in a friendly competition. Whitesboro Mayor Patrick O’Connor said the issue has been going on for decades and the village wanted to know what residents thought.  

National Weather Service

It's been a quiet winter so far for central New York, but that's about to change. Heavy lake effect snow will likely make driving very difficult over the next few days. 

Many North Country residents have seen more than two feet of snow over the last few days, but now the lake effect will shift to the south. 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

The implosion of the grandstand at the New York State Fairgrounds this weekend signals the start of big changes at the aging facility in the central New York. 

With a push of a button the grandstand was reduced to a pile of rubble. Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined local dignitaries for the event, which really starts the ball rolling for a $50 million plan to renovate the aging fairgrounds into an updated year-round facility. 

Simon Wheeler / The Ithaca Journal

Seventeen miners were rescued this morning after spending about 10 hours stuck overnight in the Cayuga Salt Mine elevator shaft 900 feet below the earth in Lansing. Law enforcement and fire safety officials said they are thankful the rescue went smoothly.

Watertown Police Department

The Watertown Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating two missing teenagers. Katie Loffler and Austin Eggleson, both 16, were reported missing from the Jefferson County Children’s Home in Watertown last month. Police believe both are in Ogdensburg.

Lt. Joe Donoghue with the Watertown Police says the St. Lawrence County Department of Social Services has responsibility over the two teenagers.

governorandrewcuomo / flickr

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he plans to tighten gun control measures using his executive authority. That move drew mixed reviews here in New York, a state with some of the toughest gun regulations in the country.

Some activists said government officials were infringing on their right to own and carry firearms, but others said New York should go even further to restrict access to guns and ammunition.

The shooting that changed the debate

Local counter-terrorism expert says ISIL's growing influence could be responsible for the alleged planned New Years Eve attack in Rochester.

Mark Concordia teaches Criminal Justice at Roberts Wesleyan College. He used to work with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, the same task force that thwarted the alleged plan.

"The public has no idea what it's like working these cases. They completely consume your life. Family obligations, free time, gives way to 24-7 surveillance, late nights, coordinated phone calls and frustrations."

Local counter-terrorism expert says ISIL's growing influence could be responsible for the alleged planned New Years Eve attack in Rochester.

Mark Concordia teaches Criminal Justice at Roberts Wesleyan College. He used to work with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, the same task force that thwarted the alleged plan.

"The public has no idea what it's like working these cases. They completely consume your life. Family obligations, free time, gives way to 24-7 surveillance, late nights, coordinated phone calls and frustrations."

Rochester man accused of New Year's Eve plot

Jan 1, 2016

Officials in Rochester canceled a New Year's Eve fireworks celebration following the arrest of a 25-year-old Rochester man, who is accused of trying to provide support to terrorists and help ISIS (also known as ISIL) kill innocent civilians on New Year's Eve at a restaurant-bar in the Rochester area.

Insomnia Cured Here/It's A Wonderful Life (1946) / Flickr

Watching the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a holiday tradition for many. It takes on added significance in central New York because of the suspected connection between the fictional town of Bedford Falls and Seneca Falls.

Locals think they have a pretty convincing story that their town is the same one in the 1946 movie.

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.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Anti-violence and social justice groups in Syracuse are focusing on what's called conflict transformation or getting to the root of what is causing violence in the community. One man started walking through some of the most crime-ridden streets in Syracuse directly engaging with young people to try to do just that.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

There’s a small white church in the hamlet of West Martinsburg, just outside Lowville. The United Methodist Church was first built in 1840. It closed a century later, but one tradition lives on.  A lamplight service every December marks the beginning of the Christmas season.  Inside, kerosene lamps hung from the ceiling are lit by hand. Candles set by stained-glass windows give the church a warm golden glow.  

Julia Botero attended the service with people from all over the Tug Hill and brought back this postcard.

Lights are sparkling on houses across the region this holiday season. But a family in one central New York neighborhood  has taken Christmas decorating to a whole new level.

The number of homeless people in central New York is down, according to a report on the state of Homelessness in 2015 for Syracuse and Onondaga County. 
 

There were about 140 fewer individuals in homeless shelters in Syracuse this year than last, according to Melissa Marrone, the coordinator of the Onondaga County’s Housing and Homeless Coalition. She says it’s an indication that new strategies for getting people off the street are working. For example, a “housing first” policy that brings individuals with substance abuse problems into housing.

Rochester man pleads guilty to terrorism

Dec 18, 2015

It could be the first plea of its kind in the U.S. fight against terrorism. A man who ran a pizza shop and convenience store in Rochester pleaded guilty Thursday. He admitted to helping ISIS.

NYCLU

State officials have inked a five-year deal with the New York Civil Liberties Union that will reshape the way solitary confinement works in the state's correctional facilities.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Syracuse are spearheading an effort to try to curb violence among teens and young adult men of color.

The idea, says Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler, is to give these teens and young man strategies to deal with conflicts at school or on the streets.

"If you’re limited in terms of what you think your options are, then you’re going to resort to some of the options you feel are available to you. So by giving these young people additional options to refer to, that increases the likelihood that violence won’t occur,” said Fowler.

Campuses train students about concept of consent

Dec 17, 2015
Eileen Buckley / WBFO News

New York state has the most pending campus sexual assault cases than any state in the country. Nineteen cases are listed on the U.S. Department of Education’s investigation list. But now that colleges and universities are armed with solid legal policies and procedures what are students being told about prevention and reporting? 

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