Regional Coverage

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Lewis County's Homeless Christmas Tree Initiative is collecting donated household goods like paper towels and silverware for people who have recently become homeless and are starting over. A sprawling heap of plates, linens, pillows, and cleaning products sit under a Christmas tree in the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce.

ChrisYunker / via Flickr

It may not have taken place around a roulette wheel, but there was a palpable air of suspense as the state Gaming Facility Location Board announced three of the nearly 20 communities hoping to get a piece of the gaming action on Wednesday. The board was entitled to grant up to four licenses.

The five-member volunteer board immediately got down to business, nixing all seven casino proposals in Orange County and approving one Hudson Valley/Catskill site to the Montreign Resort and Casino, located in the tiny village of Thompson in Sullivan County.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Onondaga County lawmakers hope to help the operators of the Syracuse Chiefs build on a successful season of baseball.

County lawmakers have agreed to lend $1.2 million to the operators of the Chiefs, who want to make stadium upgrades that would allow large groups to host parties or events during games. Legislature Chairman Ryan McMahon says this is a concept that can help bring more business to the stadium.

Gino Geruntino/WRVO file photo

Over the years, as businesses in Utica left or closed, the city has faced a problem of what to do with the empty buildings. In recent years, Utica has ramped up its efforts to sell these vacant commercial properties in an attempt to generate sales and property tax revenues for the city.

Since 2012, the city has sold at least eight vacant commercial properties to private developers, including a former Superfund site that was dormant for more than a decade. The buildings, which must be empty for at least three years before the city can foreclose on them, are scattered throughout Utica. Fourteen properties are currently being marketed by the city's Urban Renewal Agency.

Keeping families from becoming homeless over the holidays is the idea behind a program offered by central New York attorneys this time of year.

There aren’t necessarily more evictions approaching the holidays, but Michael Balanoff of Legal Services of Central New York says losing a place to live this time of year is just more difficult, especially when children are involved. That’s the idea behind the “Home for the Holidays" program, which brings attorneys from all over the region to Syracuse City Court in the days leading up to Christmas.

ACR Health in Syracuse put on a special workshop for educators recently to explore ways schools can become more supportive of transgender students. The session also offered a firsthand look at the challenges these kids face.

Schools are often ground zero for transgender kids, says Terri Cook, co-author of the book “Allies and Angels” and parent of a transgender child.

“School can be a safe space for a student, or it can be a living hell,” said Cook.

Since the Great Recession, non-profit organizations have struggled to get the resources that they need, and many have failed.  They’ve also had to adapt to new technology, which has changed the ways that people want to give, and raised their expectations of transparency.  This week on the Campbell Conversations Grant Reeher discusses those challenges with Peter Brinkerhoff, an expert on non-profit organizations and their management, and the author of several award-winning books in the non-profit field.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A slow moving nor'easter continues to cause travel problems around central New York Thursday morning. Winter storm warnings for central New York expired at 7:00 a.m., but travel advisories remain in effect for some parts of central New York. The heavy snow from Wednesday night and Thursday morning also caused dozens of school districts to delay opening or close this morning.

J J / via Flickr

There has been a groundswell in recent months to equip police officers nationwide with body cameras. These cameras are becoming more commonplace in law enforcement agencies, but some officials still have concerns.

Following the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown during confrontations with police, President Barack Obama announced his proposal to spend more than $260 million of federal funding to help purchase 50,000 body cameras and provide additional training for police.

Julia Botero / WRVO

Fort Drum commemorated the end of its combat role in Afghanistan Monday. Most of the 10th Mountain Division is now back for the holidays, but the U.S. Army will continue its mission in Afghanistan.

At Monday's welcome home ceremony, Annie Costellano-Rios chats with two women as they wait for band to start up. Her husband is a 10th Sustainment Brigade commander - the most recent to deploy to Afghanistan and one of the last to return.

"I'm glad they are home," Costellano-Rios said. "It was a long nine months, or 10 months actually, wasn't it?"

Nick Harris / Flickr

The Salvation Army's annual red kettle campaign is in full swing, but the non-profit is concerned that it might not be able to reach this year's fundraising goal.

According to Maj. Donald Hostetler, division commander of the Empire State Division of the Salvation Army, this year's holiday season goal might be harder to achieve than in year's past. That's because there aren't enough volunteers willing to bundle up and staff kettles to collect donations.

National Weather Service, Binghamton

Winter storm warnings continue for much of central and western New York, as a nor'easter moves its way along the East Coast. The National Weather Service has issued warnings for almost all of central New York until Thursday morning. Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego Counties are under a winter weather advisory. 

Madison and Onondaga Counties have issued travel advisories during the storm. Driving conditions around central New York could be hazardous, especially during the morning commute on Wednesday.

Officials say if you have to drive during the day Wednesday, drive slowly and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks about father Mario Cuomo's love of Fort Drum

Dec 9, 2014
Karen Dewitt / WRVO

After Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in Monday's homecoming ceremony at Fort Drum, he was asked by a reporter about his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo and the work he did with Fort Drum while he was in office.

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo has reportedly been hospitalized for several weeks because of a heart condition, and his son has not spoken much in public about his father's health.

The current governor said he and one of his daughters visited his father Sunday night and told him the 82 year-old he would be visiting Fort Drum the next day.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Following a die-in and demonstration on the Syracuse University campus, more than 200 protesters shut down the street in front the justice center in Syracuse last night as they marched down the hill into downtown Syracuse.
   

Julia Botero / WRVO

Fort Drum held a ceremony Monday to commemorate the 10th Mountain Division's 13-year involvement in Afghanistan. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a last minute appearance, joining Secretary of the Army John McHugh and other state and national leaders who were there.

The 10th Mountain Division was the first to be deployed to Afghanistan after September 11, 2001. Within the last year and a half, every brigade of the 10th Mountain Division has been deployed to the country.

hermanturnip / Flickr

The Syracuse Police Department will implement new rules regarding the use of Tasers next year. The changes come as the result of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union charging Taser abuse in city schools.

The lawsuit involved the use of Tasers against two students, including one who was trying to break up a fight between other students, and another involving a diabetic student who was upset over academic issues and lying on the floor. In both cases no charges were filed, even as both students were handcuffed and taken from school.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The Eric Garner protests have spread to central New York. About two dozen demonstrators gathered in front of the federal building in Syracuse today to express concern about latest court case involving an unarmed black man killed by police.  

Anna Morris of Syracuse says she was angry and hurt when she heard there would be no charges filed against the police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City.

Army announces new Fort Drum commander

Dec 5, 2014
U.S. Army

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Bannister has been named the new commander of Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division. Bannister worked as the deputy commander general for Fort Drum between 2009 and 2011 before taking a job with the Pentagon.

Anthony Keating, who works for the secretary of the Army, knows Bannister well. He says Bannister's familiarity with the North Country will help him make a smooth transition back to Fort Drum.

"I think he will fit in extremely well here because he knows so many people," Keating said.

Jenna Flanagan/Innovation Trail

Just hours after a Staten Island grand jury ruled there were no grounds to indict a white police officer in the killing of an African American man, Albany’s elected officials, community leaders and members came together to discuss ways to improve policing in the capital cities minority communities. 

DJ Leln / via Flickr

Some of the hand-me-down gear the Syracuse police force has received from the Pentagon is harmless - and in fact pretty useful: First aid kits, 40 pairs of long johns, 50 pairs of winter boots, even electrical tape and bungee cords.

Heather L / via Flickr

A move to designate the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park is nearing reality.

The proposal has been attached to the Defense Authorization Bill that Congress has to approve every year. Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday he was very pleased the New York congressional delegation was able to get the amendment included.

Upstate Drone Resisters / (file photo)

A judge has sentenced another person arrested for protesting drone warfare outside of Hancock Airfield. Mark Colville is just the latest in a string of protesters to be brought before the DeWitt town court.

Colville, of New Haven, Connecticut, was arrested a year ago for trying to deliver a letter to commanders at the base of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard. He was arrested when he refused to leave.

Before standing in front of the judge Wednesday, Colville said his court date should not be a somber event.

J J / via Flickr

The Utica Police Department is closing in on its 100th arrest made with evidence gathered on social media.

Four years ago, Utica police decided to post a video of a crime on Facebook. They hoped someone on the social media site would recognize the suspect or provide other clues.

It worked, says Lieutenant Steve Hauck, and they’ve been using Facebook more and more since.

Michael Hilton / via Flickr

A national scam to trick people into thinking they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service and forking over payment has reached central New York.

Utica Police call this phone scam aggressive. The scammers are calling numbers in the 315 area code and claiming to be from the federal tax collection agency. They then demand money orders or some other quick payment form to settle a debt with the IRS. Don’t pay up, and the police will be after you, the threat goes. 

The group F.O.C.U.S. Greater Syracuse is trying to keep baby boomers from leaving the area as they retire. The community group has completed a study about just how age-friendly central New York is.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, make up about a third of Onondaga County’s population. F.O.C.U.S. wanted to find out what would make it easier for them to stay in central New York.  

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Across central new York, charity groups are hosting Thanksgiving dinners for the area's less fortunate. But in the city of Oswego, one restaurant owner is expanding on that idea and inviting the entire community to join in.

Nestled in La Parrilla's small kitchen, Ray Jock and his sous chef Jim Toy work to prep food for the evening's dinner service. While the two men discuss specials amid the hiss of grilling squash and the clanging of pots and pans, the pair also creates a game plan for their Thanksgiving meal.
 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

What would the city of Syracuse do with $1 billion? Syracuse City Hall has put together a series of projects that it hopes could be the basis for a Syracuse Billion agenda, based loosely on the state funded Buffalo Billion.

Mayor Stephanie Miner says topping the wish list is replacing a 550 mile, 100-year-old water system that constantly breaks down. The project would cost $750 million.

Satya Murthy / Flickr

More Americans are expected to travel this Thanksgiving holiday season than at any time since the start of the recession of 2008.

AAA says 46.3 million people will travel more than 50 miles from home. That's up more than four percent from last year and the most hitting the road since 2007.

AAA Spokeswoman Diana Dibble says there are several factors driving the increase.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse activists want events in Ferguson, Missouri to lead to more dialogue and understanding between the community and law enforcement.

They renewed those calls Tuesday afternoon with a few chants of "No justice, no peace" downtown.

It was a much more restrained affair in Syracuse than the destructive protests outside St. Louis, Missouri Monday and Tuesday.

O World of Photos / via Flickr

The news of the Oneida Indian Nation's plan to build a premium outlet mall at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona is ruffling the feathers of some officials.

Seneca County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Hayssen says the planned shopping center could hurt Waterloo Premium Outlets, which is a big source of sales tax revenue for the county. He says not only could the development pull shoppers from Waterloo, tax revenue generated at the Turning Stone's outlets would not help Oneida County taxpayers.

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