regional news

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.
 

Photo Dean / via Flickr

With leaves on the ground and snow falling, trees in upstate New York are becoming dormant for the winter, but urban tree cover is still important.

As many urban areas become more populated or new buildings are constructed, urban trees are often chopped down. Most cities in the country are losing tree cover. And it has consequences.

"Trees are not just decorative. They’re infrastructure. And hence, they’re important for that reason," said Emanuel Carter, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

simonimages / via Flickr

Maybe it’s to allow for guilt-free indulgence around the dinner table this afternoon. Or perhaps it’s about family bonding, but more central New Yorkers are lacing up their running shoes on Thanksgiving morning and going for runs before the feast.

"We tell ourselves that it’s offsetting that gluttony. 'Oh, I can have those massed potatoes now, I did that Turkey Trot this morning,'" said Liz Knickerbocker, with the running store Fleet Feet

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.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Talks reportedly continue behind the scenes in Albany regarding a pay raise for New York state lawmakers and other officials. The dean of central New York’s Senate delegation agrees an increase should be in order.

Some government staffers in Albany make more than the lawmakers or state officials they work for. That’s something to consider when it comes to a group of people who haven’t had a raise in 15 years, says Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

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.

Don McCullough / via Flickr

After several instances of small drones being spotted near New York City’s largest airport, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is becoming more concerned about safety and privacy concerns over the unmanned aircraft.

Schumer says some recent near-misses between small drones and commercial aircraft and helicopters in New York City show a need for safety and privacy regulations to be released from the Federal Aviation Administration as soon as possible.

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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

If you have old cell phones that you need to get rid of this holiday season, state Sen. John DeFrancisco has a place for them. DeFrancisco's seventh annual Cell Phones for Soldiers collection drive has commenced.   

L.t Col. Paul Jackson, currently of the Syracuse Recruiting Battalion, was deployed in Afghanistan this time last year. Free calling cards were his lifeline to family and friends back home.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse residents who don’t shovel sidewalks during the winter are again escaping a fine. The Common Council has again rejected a proposed fine for property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

There were too many concerns from councilors ahead of the vote Monday and it was defeated 7-2.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Evacuation plans are being prepared and the Red Cross is setting up shelters as rising temperatures begin to melt seven feet of snow that piled up in some parts of the Buffalo area, causing a risk of flooding.

Temperatures approached 50 degrees in Buffalo on Sunday and are expected to be near 60 today. The National Weather Service said street flooding should be expected in urban areas where storm drains are blocked by the heavy snow.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Vera House in Syracuse has been helping victims of domestic and sexual violence for 25 years now. Officials for the agency say they will continue to help victims, but are looking for a more permanent answer to the problem over the next 25 years.

The domestic and sexual violence numbers in this year’s Vera House annual report didn’t change much from the past. Last year in Onondaga County there were two homicides involving intimate partners, and Syracuse Police and Onondaga County law enforcement officers answered almost 18,000 total domestic violence calls last year.

401(K) 2012 / Flickr

New York state lawmakers are pushing for their first pay raise in fifteen years, and say in exchange they might be willing to give up the practice of a daily stipend for each day they spend in Albany, known as per diems, that has sometimes led to abuse.

Legislators receive $172 for every day that they spend in Albany, above normal travel and lodging expenses, and in addition to their $79,500 annual base pay.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Foster Grandparents program in the Syracuse City School District is growing. The expansion of a popular program means more support at a time when it’s needed most.

Jean Rand of Syracuse has been a foster grandparent for three and a half years in a Meacham Elementary second grade classroom. Her presence comes in handy, whether it’s helping someone with math problems or offering a hug during an emotional meltdown.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse has been able to turn a small profit after two years of deep losses, due in part because the hospital reduced its staff and increased bill collection.

The public hospital eliminated 139 positions in 2013 through attrition. It also relied a little more on contracted labor, said Stuart Wright, the hospital’s chief financial officer.

"Sometimes they can be cheaper, overall, but it’s not our overall goal to have temporary labor, but it can be slightly less expensive," he said.

'Cans for Pets' boosts recycling, helps shelters in several states

Nov 22, 2014
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Recycling saves energy -- recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to run a television for three hours. But some segments of the population apparently haven't heard that message -- like pet owners. Aluminum pet food cans are one of the least recycled household items. Now there's a program to reverse that trend with an incentive to recycle, that also helps shelter animals.

Margaret Corrado is an exception to the rule. At a pet store south of Pittsburgh, she dumps about 40 little empty cat food cans from a plastic grocery bag into a blue recycling bin.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

An independent review board has found fault with the Cuomo administration’s attempts to convert a federal clean water fund loan into construction work for the New York State Thruway’s Tappan Zee Bridge.

Sudipto Sarkar / Flickr

On the anniversary of the Great American Smokeout, a leading anti-cancer group says Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration should be spending more to cut back on smoking.

The American Cancer Society’s Michael Burgess says while the Centers for Disease Control recommends New York state spend $200 million annually on tobacco cessation programs, the current state budget has just under $40 million allotted for it. Burgess says in the past, it’s been demonstrated that spending the money on things like a smokers quit line works.

CNY Fair Housing

A recent report finds Syracuse and Onondaga County suffer from “hyper-segregation,” where minorities are mostly confined to a few, low-income neighborhoods.

A practice of only placing affordable housing in low-income neighborhoods, combined with the fact that few landlords outside those blocks are willing to accept housing vouchers, has resulted in Syracuse being one of the most segregated cities in the country, according to a report by CNY Fair Housing.

"As long as we keep having this pattern reoccurring for decades and generations, we’re not going to see, really address the difficult issue of the fact that we have one of poorest communities in the country and one of the highest rates of child poverty in the country," said Sally Santangelo, executive director of CNY Fair Housing.

The number of children from Onondaga County who go through the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center in Syracuse is holding steady. Officials say getting the word out about these children who are sexually abused is key to getting that number down.

About 700 kids used the services of McMahon Ryan last year, and most of them knew their abusers, says Executive Director Linda Cleary.

"Almost 45 percent of the children we’ve seen were abused by a parent," Cleary said. "And then another almost 40 percent were abused by someone they know or love.”

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A group of Syracuse University students upset with several issues at the school surrounding student support services and administrative transparency ended an 18 day sit-in protest Thursday afternoon with several victories to claim.

A few dozen students, calling themselves THE General Body, began an occupation of Crouse-Hinds Hall, the administrative building on campus, on Nov. 3.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State lawmakers say they want to act quickly to spend the state’s growing $5 billion surplus on an infrastructure fund to fix up roads and bridges, among other things. At a think tank sponsored conference on the state’s infrastructure, participants said there are deep needs and they warn lawmakers not to spend the money frivolously.  

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the devastating lake effect snow that has struck the Buffalo area this week an historic event.

The governor traveled to Buffalo to meet with local officials and see snow removal operations on the New York State Thruway. The Buffalo area found itself buried under nearly six feet of snow, and the storm has been blamed for up to eight deaths in western New York. The snow fell so fast it trapped more than 100 vehicles on the Thruway.

Office of Onondaga County Comptroller

The new deal between the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency and the company that runs its waste-to-energy plant in Jamesville calls for burning more trash, but OCRRA officials say that isn’t a problem.

OCRRA has agreed to extend its partnership for another 20 years with Covanta Onondaga, the company that’s been running the Jamesville facility since it opened more than two decades ago. The deal requires Onondaga County to come up with 345,000 tons of garbage a year, or pay a penalty. It works out to an average of nine percent more trash than the county produces now.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The costs and overtime hours are starting to add up for Syracuse University as a student sit-in protest nears the end of its third week.

The university's public safety department has had to station multiple officers in Crouse-Hinds Hall, the school's administration building, around the clock since Nov. 3. They're keeping an eye on the dozen or so students living there as part of a protest against the administration of chancellor Kent Syverud.

Sarah Crisafulli

Officials in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties issued travel warnings yesterday as lake effect snow created potentially dangerous conditions.

But a few workers in Watertown were out in the storm. City bus driver Matthew Muñoz shoveled snow at the bus stop in front of the Woolworth building. He didn't seem phased.

"I think it's annoying," Muñoz said. "Typical Watertown weather. But I'm sure it'll go down, and then come back again and go down and come back again."

Cortland County is experiencing a spike in the number of methamphetamine incidents, nearly doubling this year over 2013. But the Cortland County Sheriff's Office is taking action to try to control the problem.

Lt. Todd Caufield says there have been 34 incidents so far this year, everything from the discovery of meth labs to people finding discarded soda bottles used while producing the drug on the go.

He says although the numbers don't look good and the department isn't proud of them, the sheriff's office believes some of that increase is due to better reporting.

Leah Landry / WRVO

Boosters of a controversial plan to ease the regulation of Lake Ontario water levels are continuing their push to get the federal government to agree to the proposal. The outdoor sports community is lining up behind Plan 2014.

Plan 2014 eliminates a 50-year-old policy of regulating water levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Proponents want lake levels to go up and down naturally, which they say would bring back some of the wildlife damaged by the practice.

Karen Dewitt

Advocates of raising the minimum wage see hope in recent statements by the leader of the state Senate, and hope a deal can be struck by the end of the year.

Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos, whose party will control the Senate in January, says while he thinks the state’s gradual increase of the state’s minimum wage to $9 an hour next year is good enough, he’s willing to at least discuss raising it higher. Skelos, after meeting with Republican members, says he also wants a pay raise for senators.

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