Syracuse

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

West side of Syracuse residents are again fighting to keep a halfway house for felons re-entering the community out of their neighborhood, saying the current facility is just fine where it is, far away.

The federal Bureau of Prisons' contract with non-profit Firetree, LTD. to operate a re-entry facility on the eastern edge of downtown Syracuse is up. Firetree, which is from Pennsylvania, has submitted a bid to have the contact to run the three-dozen bed facility renewed.

Ken Hawkins / Flickr

Syracuse city councilors are hoping to convince state-level lawmakers to change a law that allows police, firefighters and sanitation workers to live outside the cities they work in.

A non-binding resolution issued by the council comes after they learned only about three dozen of the city’s roughly 450 police officers actually live in the city. Firefighters and sanitation workers are also exempt, though a higher percentage of those employees live in the city.

That results in tens of millions of dollars in city salaries leaving the city, the council estimates.

Sarah Jean Condon / The Citizen

The first of a series of televised debates in the race for the 24th Congressional District kicked off last night. Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei and Republican challenger John Katko sparred in the studios of Time Warner Cable News.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

In the waning days of the election, Republican congressional candidate John Katko is focusing on poverty.

Katko, a former federal prosecutor in Syracuse, says he’s seen up close the poverty plaguing the 23rd poorest city in the country.

"I remember many times walking up a dark stairway, trying to find a witness with one of the agents, knocking on the door, not knowing what’s going to happen when the door happens," Katko said. "But when that door opens, you see unbelievable living conditions in the city of Syracuse. Where is the outrage? Where is the concern?”

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Members of the Syracuse faith community and the city’s police department want to be “proactive” in improving the relationship between the community and police department.

African-African faith leaders will hold a series of monthly community meetings at different churches in the city beginning next month with the goal of facilitating a dialog between the police department and community members.

Matthias Ripp / Flickr

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler is helping an organization that’s advocating for more after school programs.

The highest profile member of the Afterschool Alliance is former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

“After school programs are between three and six o’clock, which is the danger zone for our kids,” Schwarzenegger said.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse is in line for more money for its land bank. The state announced a second round of awards Wednesday to help communities restore abandoned and dangerous properties.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that another $20 million is going out to land banks across the state, while at a house on Syracuse’s Southside. The home was renovated, and has been sold to a first time home buyer.
 

Katelyn Wright, executive director of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank says the city is in line for $2 million from this round of awards.

NIAID / Flickr

Officials in Onondaga County want to be ready if a case of Ebola turns up in central New York. Earlier this week, all of the players who would be involved in treating the virus laid out a road map for Ebola preparedness.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

More police cameras are heading to crime-ridden Syracuse neighborhoods, spreading into more areas on the city’s Northside.

Patricia Simmons is pastor of a church in the Washington Square neighborhood of Syracuse. She’s happy the crime-deterring cameras are coming.

"Our church is on the corner of Park and Turtle,” Simmons said. “Outside our door we see prostitution, we see drug activities happen. If we have a big event, the folks come out to solicit and I think the cameras would also help to alleviate some of that.” 

The federal agency that oversees public housing and urban renewal says there was simply too much demand from local governments to give them all money to inspect homes and remove lead paint, including Syracuse.

Syracuse officials announced Thursday the city didn't win a grant - it asked for $3 million - from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the lead removal program for the first time in two decades.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is one of the most influential Democrats in central New York, serving for a time as co-chair of the party's statewide operations. She's also one of the most outspoken. 

Miner sat down with WRVO Wednesday afternoon to discuss the city's loss of $3 million in federal funding for lead remediation from its aging homes. She discussed a number of other topics, including the increasing negativity of the race to represent the region in Congress. 

Wayne Marshall / via Flickr

Syracuse has lost out on federal funding for lead removal in city homes for the first time in two decades and will have to now rely on the county’s program.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, didn’t give any reason why Syracuse's application for $3 million was denied, the city said today.

"Our program funding will run out at the end of this year," said Mayor Stephanie Miner. "And then the program will be over."

HUD has given the city millions of dollars to inspect homes and remove lead every year since 1993.

ACR Health Prevention Services in Syracuse is looking for ways to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infection rates in New York state prisons.

According to federal statistics, inmates have the highest rate of HIV in New York, compared to any other state, and many of those inmates are  co-infected with hepatitis C. To fight that, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS has a campaign that emphasizes public awareness, education and access to testing and treatment.  

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Two recent surveys have solidified a suburban-city divide over the future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, with people living outside the city want to see the elevated roadway stay. 

A Siena College/Syracuse Media Group poll released over the weekend found that people living outside of Syracuse’s borders want to see the highway’s path through downtown preserved, compared to an urban boulevard replacing the aged roadway.

Syracuse city officials are trying to learn more about their city’s homeless population. The city council held a hearing on the issue Wednesday evening.

One night this week, 527 people slept in a handful of homeless shelters – or in overflow hotel rooms – in the city of Syracuse. Charities that work with the homeless estimate another two dozen chose to sleep outside.

The city is on track to have one of its highest homeless populations in years.

This episode of the Campbell Conversations continues with the theme of poverty in the Syracuse region.  Host Grant Reeher talks with Tom Buckel, a former county legislator and partner in a large Syracuse law firm who now works as an Attorney for Legal Services of Central New York, and Deborah O'Shea, the pro bono coordinator for the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County.  They discuss poverty and the access to civil legal services.

Grant Reeher (GR): Can you give me a brief overview of the mission of your organization and the kind of work that it does?

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Infection control officials at Syracuse's Golisano Children’s Hospital believe it’s not an issue of if a respiratory virus that’s storming the country ends up in New York state, but when. Jana Shaw, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, says there are no confirmed cases yet in New York, but she doesn’t expect that to be the case for long because the virus is very contagious.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor in New York state, likes the position he's in after looking at the results from this week’s gubernatorial primary.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won with 60 percent of the Democrat vote, while a third of the vote went to liberal Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout. Hawkins figures that leaves him as the only option for progressives in the fall election.

A UPS worker from Syracuse, Hawkins believes the primary results highlight Cuomo’s weakness among progressive Democrats, saying it validates his reason to run this fall.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The Syracuse public school district has released new guidelines for disciplining its students. It’s getting positive marks from district teachers and principals.

A student pulling the fire alarm has become a well-discussed example as the district spent seven months reworking its code of conduct.

The district has put more emphasis on restorative over punitive discipline. That means considering the situation in which a student pulled an alarm.

A 50-member task force has broken discipline into three-tiers, with more focus on discussion and keeping students in school.

Syracuse is one of the poorest cities in the nation.  The poorest of those poor, both individuals and families, struggle with homelessness.  As a first installment in an ongoing series on poverty in the Syracuse region, Grant Reeher talks with Kevin Frank, the Executive Director of the Brady Faith Center, located on Syracuse’s South Side.  Frank discusses his on-the-ground and in-the-street work with the homeless, and suggests what government, non-profit organizations, and all of us, can do to promote genuine relationships, which he sees as the key in addressing the problem.

St. Joseph's Hospital

The new Christina Nappi Surgical Tower at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse features 110 private rooms for patients recovering from surgery. This concept of private room care is an innovative healthcare approach that experts say is the wave of the future.

The halls and rooms don’t look like a typical post-surgical room. They’re large, and able to accommodate all the latest medical technology. There are mechanical lifts at each bed, a special area for family and cabinets that provide all the essentials for a patient recovering from surgery.
 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The images coming from Ferguson, Missouri, of police in riot gear facing protesters has some in Congress calling for changes to the way local police agencies are able to use cast off military equipment from the Department of Defense.

The two candidates for the 24th Congressional District seat, which covers all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western half of Oswego County, have two different views of that.

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has already voted against the program that provides surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies.

Marufish / via Flickr

Syracuse common councilors are adding their voice to the ongoing fight for better internet access to the City of Syracuse.

Lawmakers unanimously agreed to a resolution that encourages Verizon to apply to the Public Service Commission for a franchise agreement that would establish FiOS internet and cable service inside city limits. Right now the fiber optic system is only available in select Syracuse suburbs.

Council President Helen Hudson says that’s not right.

Zack Seward / WXXI

Another study, another round of public comments. It may seem like the decision-making process on the future of the elevated Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse will never end.

An end is in sight, even if it’s still far off. Transportation officials say they hope to make a decision on whether to rebuild the viaduct, divert it around the city or tunnel it underground, in 18 months to two years.

Operation WALK Syracuse

For the first time ever at the New York State Fair, there will be a running event at the fairgrounds. The Bubble Blast 5K run will take place Sunday.

One of the beneficiaries of the fundraiser is a group of central New York medical professionals who take their skills to third-world countries.

A large class of new recruits has begun training to become Syracuse police officers, but if you ask Syracuse police chief Frank Fowler, it's still not enough cops.

"Keep bringing them," he said. "I tell you, I can find work for every police officer that you send my way. But this is a great start and I’m glad to have it."

Fowler was speaking after the swearing in of a new class of officers. Syracuse is buffeting its police ranks more than normal. It swore in 35 officers to begin six months of training on Thursday.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A new workshop is getting ready to open in Syracuse. It’ll be a place, known as a "makerspace," for anyone to come and sculpt, cut, weld or print.

Michael Giannattasio is a sculptor and metal worker by trade, but he knows his way around a 3-D printer, too. There are a couple set up in what Giannattasio refers to as the "clean space" in an old Syracuse factory building.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

A new smartphone app being used by the city of Syracuse will allow drivers to pay for parking without going to the meter. The app, called Whoosh, was developed by Parkeon, the same company that provides Syracuse with its electronic parking meters.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said the app is being tested on 90 of the 280 meters in the city, mainly in Armory Square. 
 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There’s a new free dental clinic in the city of Syracuse, attached to the Amaus Health Services clinic at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse. The idea is to offer basic dental care to the homeless and people who have no dental insurance.

The first patient is a Syracuse man named Barry. He says his mouth is a mess after years of neglect.
 

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

At a community meeting a few weeks ago, questions and comments about Syracuse being used as a shelter site for children flooding into the country from Central America were heaved at Mayor Stephanie Miner for two hours; some written neatly on note cards, others shouted from a crowded room.

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