regional news

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.

WRVO

A gas station owned by the Cayuga Nation along Cayuga Lake is in different hands and back open as a fight over control of nation enterprises continues.

Supporters of Clint Halftown, the man who claims to be the rightful federal representative of the nation, re-took the Union Springs Lakeside Trading post early Monday morning.

The Unity Council, the group that says it's in charge under nation law, reported 75 people overran the store and injured its supporters "peacefully" occupying the building.

New Yorkers largely satisfied with new health insurance

Nov 18, 2014
WXXI File

Last month, Harris Poll conducted an online survey of 250 New York State residents new to insurance through the state exchange.

Ninety-two percent of those polled report being somewhat or completely satisfied with their coverage.

David Sandman, senior vice president of the New York State Health Foundation, says they were surprised by some of the results.

State University of New York / suny.edu

The new education standards known as Common Core have brought big changes to New York’s classrooms. And to meet the new standards, teachers often have to find new techniques.

So New York’s largest teacher education program is unveiling a center for innovative teaching methods, for Common Core classrooms and beyond.

Catherine Loper/WRVO

North Country residents are seeing their first major snowfall this season. Heavy lake effect snow is expected to continue around parts of Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego Counties throughout the day and into tomorrow morning. Up to three feet of snow could fall in some areas by Wednesday evening.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The student sit-in at Syracuse University’s Crouse-Hinds Hall has entered its third week. The protesters who call themselves "THE General Body" say they are attracting a groundswell of support from faculty, and held a rally to show it.

"I swear to you that us faculty members will stand behind you, not for as long as you are sitting in, but forever after," said S.U. Geography Professor Don Mitchell, who offered support to student protesters at a rainy rally in front of the Hall of Languages Monday.  

mrsmecomber / via Flickr

There are several changes to the Syracuse Airport this fall ahead of the busy travel season, with hopes of increasing passenger numbers and ease of travel.

Hancock International Airport made national headlines when it installed sophisticated pod doors to enhance security when passengers left the terminal. Now, it’s one of the last airports to install a full body imaging machine at the TSA checkpoint. It went operational last week.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

The leader of the state Senate Republicans says his members will once again join forces with a group of breakaway Democrats to rule the Senate come January. Sen. Dean Skelos says his members also want a pay raise.

Republicans won a bare majority of 32 seats in the 2014 elections and Skelos, following a two-hour closed door meeting with his Republican members, says the GOP will once again form a coalition government with Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democrats.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Solarize Syracuse initiative was a success, according to organizers. The three-month long program has helped more than 70 property owners in Syracuse, Dewitt, Manlius and the town of Onondaga go solar.

Solar energy is helping Diane Swords of Syracuse’s university neighborhood heat her home. Swords is one of the property owners who installed solar energy technology during the recent Solarize Syracuse blitz.
 

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

A nearly 190-year-old building in Oswego that most recently held Coleman's Irish Pub, is the subject of a legal battle between the city and a local developer who says he wants to buy the building and renovate it. While the lawsuit drags on, the building, which over the years has housed a chandlery, customs office and a fish market, deteriorates.

SUNY ESF

The State University of New York School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse has figured out a way to grow an American chestnut tree that won’t die from a blight that’s virtually decimated the species over the last hundred years. It all comes down to genes.

American chestnut trees are an iconic species in American culture. Wildlife has relied on them, streets were named after them, and you can’t avoid mention of them in music during the holiday season.

-JvL- / Flickr

The New York State Senate will likely miss a deadline to approve Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest choice for the state’s high court. As a result, there will be six judges instead of seven on the court come December.

The vacancy on the state’s highest court is occurring because the 14-year term of Judge Victoria Graffeo expires at the end of November. Graffeo, a widely respected Republican chosen by former Gov. George Pataki, could have served for eight more years before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, had Cuomo, a Democrat, chosen to reappoint her.

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