Syracuse

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

Churches play a vital role in any community. A symposium was held on Saturday to raise awareness of the role church buildings play in downtown Syracuse, since both occupied and vacant properties impact the neighborhoods.

The Mission Restaurant in downtown Syracuse was built in the 1840s and used to be the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist Church, which was part of the Underground Railroad. The Hotel Skyler on the Syracuse University campus was a synagogue before it was renovated with green energy and environmental design standards.

Aidan Jones / Flickr

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, but chances are you might not know that. Lung cancer just doesn’t get some of the same attention as other types of cancer, and that ultimately leads to more deaths.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

For five years, central New Yorkers have been talking about what should be done with an interstate viaduct that is reaching the end of its lifespan. The discussion is now formal, with the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration holding the first scoping session in Syracuse, meant to gather community input on the issue.

Zack Seward / WXXI

A group of suburban politicians and business owners that support keeping Interstate 81 running through the city of Syracuse are out with a poll they say shows most residents agree with them.

Syracuse Police have started a new policy that could help crack domestic violence cases, called the CODE, or Chronic Offender Domestic Enforcement, program.

Rebecca Thompson has answered countless domestic violence calls in her 27 years as a member of the Syracuse Police Department. Now as deputy chief of the uniformed bureau, she said she knows how it is a very personal crime, and sometimes, victims don't want to testify against a loved one, which can make it harder for prosecutors to make a case.

The Moreland Act Commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is releasing a preliminary report on public corruption in a few weeks. The commission is charged with investigating corruption in state governmental agencies, and has already gone after the state Board of Elections and the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or J-COPE, at recent public hearings.

During an interview with Grant Reeher, host of WRVO's Campbell Conversations, commission co-chairman and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick says the commission's investigation has uncovered criminal activity.

There may be problems in other states for people signing up for health care under the Affordable Care Act, but things are moving smoothly in New York state, according to one organization in the midst of it. ACR Health in Syracuse says it has nothing but success stories.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse and Onondaga County's local political landscape remains pretty much intact after yesterday's election. Republicans rule the suburbs and County government; while democrats maintain a stranglehold over Syracuse city hall. Mayor Stephanie Miner won re-election easily with 68 percent of the vote against two third-party challengers, and got a surprise congratulations call from Washington.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse Republicans are just a few dozen votes shy of winning back a city office as a race for Common Council will come down to absentee ballots, but the rest of city hall remained solidly Democratic after Tuesday's election.

The two new faces we know of for sure on the Common Council are Chad Ryan in the Second District and Pamela Hunter in an at-large spot. Ryan won Pat Hogan’s old seat, who was term-limited, by beating Republican Alex Walsh with 59 percent of the unofficial vote.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Elections officials in Onondaga County aren't counting on a busy day tomorrow, as they're predicting record low turnout rates.

Republican Elections Commissioner Helen Kiggens Walsh thinks it'll be a struggle to get more voters out this year than two years ago, which was the lowest turnout ever.

"Our record low is 25 percent," Kiggens Walsh said. "I think we're going to go below that this year. I'm guessing the low 20s."

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

The Green Party candidate running for mayor of Syracuse says the that office needs more tools to deal with a homicide crisis in the city.  Kevin Bott says if he is elected, he would fully embrace the concept of community policing to get at the root of this year's rash of killings across the city.

Tom Magnarelli/WRVO

A new generation of politicians in the city of Syracuse are following in their families' footsteps and running for office.

Barring an election day surprise, Syracuse's next common councilor from the 2nd district will be under 30. These candidates say their youth will benefit the city.

Democratic nominee and funeral director Chad Ryan is 28 years old and the son of former Onondaga County Legislator Ed Ryan.

The younger Ryan said the best way to improve the city is to get more residents involved, like by attending neighborhood meetings.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Ghost stories abound during the Halloween season and the Onondaga Historical Association has collected some of the best known ghostly tales in Onondaga County.

One of the most told ghost stories in central New York is "the Bride of the 13 Curves."  OHA Curator of History Dennis Conners said it starts on Cedarvale Road.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

The pool of affordable housing in Syracuse is growing with the development of four multi-family apartment buildings along the James Street corridor.

City neighborhood and development commissioner Paul Driscoll doesn't think there are any other housing projects like it in the city: a mix of market rate apartments with affordable apartments in one building. The city is opening these four new apartment buildings after major renovations, and Driscoll said the affordability factor is key.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The PreCheck program at Hancock International Airport in Syracuse has exceeded expectations so far, and the Transportation Security Administration says it's expanding the expedited screening program.

"This makes flying fun again, it's just like the old days," says Darry Srago, a frequent flyer out of Hancock. He's happy with the PreCheck program because it makes getting through security easier.

Syracuse Mayor Miner hosts Twitter town hall

Oct 29, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

A week before hoping to win re-election, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hosted her first Twitter town hall, one of her few large public engagement efforts this campaign season.

Miner spent just under an hour Tuesday fielding questions on the social media site via the hashtag #AskMayorMiner and responded through the city's official account.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers are trying to work out concerns over a proposed law that would allow police to crack down on problem houses in city neighborhoods.

It's a case where constitutional rights collide with neighborhood concerns. Councilor Khalid Bey wants to use a 100-year-old law, which was once used to crack down on brothels, as a way to rid neighborhoods of houses that have become hangouts for drug dealers and other criminals.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Upstate Medical University's new Neuroscience Research Building is on the cusp of bringing brain researchers together at last. The $72 million building is an expansion at Upstate's Institute for Human Performance.

VIPs toured the block-long, five-story building this week. At this point it's a shell, full of empty labs and dark rooms. It's the $50 million worth of high tech equipment coming later this year that'll make a difference in brain research, according to Upstate's Vice President for Research Rosemary Rochford.

Scientists work to bring back American chestnut tree

Oct 17, 2013
David Chanatry/NYRP-UC

The American chestnut tree was once known as the king of the eastern forest. It tree grew more than 100 feet tall and six feet across, and accounted for a quarter of the timber in the woods. Its straight-grained wood was remarkably resistant to rot, and its nuts were a reliable source of food.

The chestnut was wiped out by blight in the early 20th century, but now scientists in Syracuse think they’re close to bringing it back.

Bill Coffin, 84, has spent a lifetime in love with the woods.

Greens call for more state aid and local income tax

Oct 17, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse’s Green Party office seekers want to see state aid return to historic levels and a new scaled local income tax on city residents and those that work in it.

Mayoral candidate Kevin Bott and Common Council hopeful Howie Hawkins say that will help solve the city’s fiscal problems.

Low wage earners would pay less than a percent on their income and it would work up to a few percentage points for higher earners, they propose.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A new food co-op on Syracuse's southside has opened its doors. Neighbors are welcoming the new Eat to Live Food Cooperative on South Salina Street, an area that doesn't have many options when it comes to buying healthy food.  

Joseph Bryant, president of the Southside Community Coalition said the co-op ultimately eliminates a food desert.

"Fifty-two percent of the people in this census tract use public transportation or walk. So not having the ability to drive to a grocery store is one thing, so now we can provide midday shopping trips in the neighborhood," Bryant said.

mrsmecomber / via Flickr

Correction: The authority planned to take over operations of the airport is a public benefit authority and not private.

Early next year control of day-to-day operations at Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport will transfer from a city department to a private public benefit authority, a move city and airport officials say will mean benefits for travelers.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO file photo

This is turning out to be a quiet election season in Syracuse despite a race for mayor. Without a Republican running against Mayor Stephanie Miner, and with Democrats having with a stranglehold in most common council and school board races, Green Party candidates are emerging as alternatives for voters in a handful of races. All three Green Party hopefuls appeared on the Campbell Conversations with Grant Reeher.

Syracuse land bank becomes a landlord

Oct 10, 2013

The Syracuse land bank became a landlord this week as part of its work to put more city land on the tax rolls.

The land bank, known formally as the Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation, closed on the sale of 17 properties that are vacant or owners were significantly behind on their property taxes.

mrsmecomber / via Flickr

The Syracuse Common Council says it has delayed fully turning over control of the airport to a private authority in order to get the deal right.

Councilor Pat Hogan, who chairs the airport committee, says several union representatives and employees still had questions about the deal, which would be a 40 year lease.

Syracuse lawmakers will rewrite drone ban language

Oct 7, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse lawmakers are re-working their proposed ban on the use of surveillance drones over city skies.

A draft of regulations were introduced on the council agenda at a study session last week, but were quickly withdrawn.

New draft federal guidelines out on drone use prompted the re-write. The federal rules will be incorporated into the city's, according to councilor Jake Barrett, who chairs the public safety committee.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

For the last few years, graffiti artists have been going to an empty building on Syracuse's Near West Side, where they can paint without fear of legal hassle. But while dozens of artists have used this building as their outlet, has it helped decrease the amount of illegal graffiti citywide?

The smells and sounds of spray paint fill the air surrounding the vacant structure at then end of Tully Street, as two men paint thin blue lines while another paints a large, pink alien holding a laser gun.

An outlet to paint

Search begins for new State Fair director

Oct 4, 2013
Stu Gallagher / New York State Fair

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets announced Wednesday it is searching for a new director for the New York State Fair. While in Syracuse Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the new director should be someone who can move the fair forward.

"What's the next evolution of the fair, right? How does the fair continue to grow and develop, so we attract even more people? And if fair management is becoming more and more sophisticated and they're now multi-entertainment venues,  someone who brings that expertise I think would be great."

A new state law amends New York's land bank legislation introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration in 2011. Land banks are mechanisms for acquiring or demolishing abandoned properties that are delinquent on their taxes. The bill removes previous barriers that restricted counties and municipalities from purchasing properties without judicial authorization, allowing them to bid at public sales. Republican state Sen. Mark Grisanti sponsored the legislation.

Upscale hotel coming to Syracuse's Inner Harbor

Oct 4, 2013
Ryan Delaney / WRVO

An upscale hotel chain has signed on as the first tenant in the redevelopment of Syracuse's Inner Harbor.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts announced Thursday that will build an $18 million, 130 room "Aloft" hotel at the former barge canal, as part of a larger redevelopment of the now rarely used site.

In all, COR Development is working on a $350 million overhaul of the site. It plans more commercial and residential space.

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