regional news

Mike Mozart / Flickr

This weekend kicks off the summer travel season. And according to one travel group, it’s going to be a busy one.

Every year, the AAA does a survey of members to find out if they’re traveling over Memorial Day. Results this year show it will the busiest Memorial Day on the road in the last decade, according to AAA of Western and Central New York Spokeswoman Diana Dibble. Estimates are that 32 million Americans will hit the road, in large part because of an improving economy and lower gas prices. This could bode well for a busy summer overall.

baasiilb15 / Flickr

The New York Department of Financial Services will post the new coverage rates proposed by insurance companies and allow for public review starting next month.

Last year, the state allowed insurers an average increase of 5.7 percent. They had requested rates higher than 12 percent above the previous year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

It’s not the threats from abroad that worry Army Secretary John McHugh the most these days. During a visit at Syracuse University yesterday, he said an uncertain budget situation is the military's boogie man right now.  

McHugh got a close-up look at some programs at Syracuse University that help veterans and offer military degrees. Afterwards he spoke to reporters and admitted that the things that scare him now are potential budget cuts.  

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the state Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges.  But the governor is still finding ways to press for his legislative agenda in the last weeks of the session.

Michael Staab / International Institute of Species Exploration, SUNY ESF

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse has come out with a top ten list of new species discovered in the last year. SUNY ESF President Quentin Wheeler says the list is culled from the 18,000 new plants and animals scientists discover every year. 

Wheeler says it’s not just plants or animals on the list. There’s a 600-pound chicken-like dinosaur that researchers used to think was a bird, nicknamed the “chicken from hell” because they hung out in nests of dinosaur eggs.

Columbia City Blog / Flickr

A near record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

About one in four Obamacare enrollees who signed up for high-deductible health insurance chose not to access any care last year, according to a new study.  Health advocates are calling for more states to adopt programs like one just announced in New York state that connect people with low-cost coverage.

An analysis of data from the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey showed more than 25 percent of people who bought non-group insurance last year did not use the coverage for needed services, like medical treatments, prescription drugs, and tests.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney is kicking off her campaign for re-election with an endorsement from a group that doesn’t traditionally back Republicans.  

The Alliance Network is a leading Syracuse-area community organization that represents many of Syracuse’s minority interests. It has only endorsed two Republicans in its history, former Rep. Jim Walsh and Mahoney, when she ran for a second term as county executive four years ago.  

Julia Botero / WRVO News

 

There are two new hall of famers in Northern New York, but they didn’t get into the Baseball Hall of Fame, they got into the Male Hall of Fame. Those who’ve dedicated their lives to making the perfect pancake breakfast possible are recognized with the highest honor in the industry.

The American Maple Museum in Croghan, NY is home of the only Maple Hall of Fame in the country, but the industry is pushing for maple to go beyond the breakfast table.

It's serious business at The Maple Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony begins with a prayer by Jane Yancey.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Assembly Democrats are approving a one-house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches.  

Ryan Somma / Flickr

There won’t be any crowing contests or poultry competitions at the New York State Fair this year. The decision is a proactive one, in response to the spread of a strain of avian flu.

The directive comes from the New York State Department of Agriculture, which is watching the spread of strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza, according to state veterinarian Dr. David Smith.

DJ Leln / via Flickr

President Barack Obama is calling on more public awareness and debate regarding military equipment that is distributed to local law enforcement agencies. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says she would welcome such discussions.  

PunchingJudy / Flickr

In the last six months, New York state has trained 10,000 laypeople to use Narcan, a drug that can save a person from death after an overdose of opioids like heroin or prescription pain killers. Local emergency medical technicians say they are behind the move, if people are properly trained.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WRVO News

 

An affordable housing project in Oneonta just got nearly $7 million from New York state. Gary Herzig says the project fills a big need.

“We have very few affordable housing units for working families,” Herzig says. “In addition, we have a list, a long list, of vacant housing units that unfortunately is getting longer every year.”

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

While the federal government and some state governments are looking to punish companies that sell pure powdered caffeine, local emergency personnel are getting a primer on how to deal with an overdose.

Upstate New York Poison Center toxicologist William Eggleston says it’s only a matter of time before someone dies using powdered caffeine in New York state.

"I think if the product continues to be readily available, it’s inevitable that someone is going to unintentionally misuse the product,” Eggleston said.

Matt Richmond / WSKG News

Regulators in New York are moving ahead with a plan to prohibit hydrofracking within its borders. In the latest step, the state released its final environmental review last week. And New York’s unique stance on fracking could have wide-ranging effects.

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

A report released this spring labels much of Onondaga Lake as swimmable, and Onondaga County officials say this report should be a springboard to further discussions about the future of the lake.  

The Upstate Freshwater Institute says the northern two-thirds of the lake, that was once called the most polluted in the country, is swimmable. Tom Rhoads, Onondaga County’s Water and Environment Protection Commissioner, says that doesn’t necessarily mean residents should grab their swimsuits and jump in.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

By the end of 2015, the group Consensus CNY will release a full report on how to modernize government in Onondaga County.

Consensus CNY is a 19-member commission with former Rep. James Walsh serving as co-chairman, collecting data on local government to find areas to improve.

Melanie Littlejohn, one of the commission members, spoke with young professionals in Syracuse from the group 40 Below about the initial findings for Onondaga County.

Julia Botero / WRVO News

Clayton welcomed a slew of new visitors last week. A luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage from Montreal stopped at the town’s docks. The ship was filled with nearly 200 tourists from France, and most on board were seeing the Thousand Islands for the first time.

The MS St. Laurent drifted down the St. Lawrence River and came to rest in Clayton just around 9 on Thursday morning. The ship is an eye-catcher, docked in the center of the village, its royal blue hull contrasting with the colorful row of Adirondack chairs facing the river,  

stgermh / Flickr

The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders; one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

Now that the state Senate has stabilized, after weeks of turmoil over corruption charges, legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are looking at what they can reasonably finish with just five weeks left in the session.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, gave the commencement speech at Le Moyne College on Sunday. Dolan's visit has been marked with controversy.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston / Flickr

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of New York, is expected to speak at LeMoyne College's graduation ceremony Sunday, but some students won't be listening. They aren't happy with the choice of Dolan as commencement speaker. 

Wallyg / via Flickr

With just a few weeks left in the legislative session, education issues continue to dominate. Some lawmakers want to fix a recently passed law that requires a fast turn around for new teacher evaluations, while others would like a tax break for donors that would help private schools.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen much of his ambitious legislative agenda for 2015 stall, as first the Assembly Speaker, and then the Senate Leader, were charged with corruption and had to resign their leadership posts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A new program starts in Syracuse this weekend that’s meant to help people overcome one of the biggest impediments to finding work in central New York: transportation. 

It often isn’t so easy getting a job in central New York if you don’t have a car or access to public transportation. Providence Services of Syracuse President Deborah Hundley says the problems come at workplaces that are beyond the bus line, or shifts that begin or end when buses aren’t running.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office

Nicole Vaisey admitted in federal court Thursday that she helped her boyfriend kidnap two Amish sisters from their family's roadside farm stand last August, and sexually abused them before letting them go a day later. 

Vaisey, 25, also pleased guilty to a total of 10 felony charges, including nine charges of sexual exploitation and one charge of conspiracy. Vaisey was accused of abusing four other girls as well, all under the age of 12.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Public meetings began in Utica this week discussing whether residents are comfortable with a local farm applying to grow and dispense medical marijuana in New York.

Twelve-year-old Mackensie Kulawy was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy or Doose Syndrome when she was four and has been living with persistent seizures. Julie Kulawy, of New York Mills, is her mother.

Julia Botero

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the state's ban on outdoor brush burning until May 21. He says conditions across the state are still too dry.

This week may have been a wet one here in central and northern New York, but until this latest round of storms, grasses and fields have been dry and several fires have been reported across the region. So, firefighters at Fort Drum are on alert.  

“With spring comes initial dryness. Even though the rain is coming, the vegetation on the range out there is dry,” said Kevin Hazen, who works in fire prevention at Fort Drum.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Syracuse's Upstate Medical University is taking a research project into the community, which will focus on older, frail adults.

Dr. Sharon Brangman, chief of geriatric medicine, says usually researchers start out with a thesis and then try to prove it. Armed with a $15,000 federal grant, they’ll work the other way around on this.

New York state releases final fracking report

May 13, 2015
Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

New York state regulators have released the long-awaited final version of its environmental impact review of high-volume hydraulic fracturing. And it’s expected to lead to an official state ban on fracking.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Prosecutors and police agencies across central New York are trying a new strategy as they continue to fight the rising use of synthetic marijuana. Not since the bath salts craze of 2012 have local police and emergency personnel come across so many agitated individuals high on synthetic drugs. 

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