Ellen Abbott

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County.  Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. 

Gaming facilities have some new competition in upstate New York. The Yellow Brick Road Casino has opened in Chittenango, a small town about 20 miles east of Syracuse.  

Gamblers started waiting along a yellow brick path in front of the casino, the night before the opening; From Albany, from nearby Syracuse and all around central New York.

Central New York boosters of universal health care are celebrating this week, after the state Assembly passed the New York Health Act.

The legislation would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers.

“What it means is -- basically -- when you’re born, you have health insurance,” says retired physician Joal Potash. He volunteers at free medical clinics in Syracuse.

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.

Syracuse-area Rep. John Katko has his work cut out for him as co-chair of the Task Force on Terrorist, Foreign Fighter Threat. The Republican just returned from a trip to several countries in the Middle East to get a sense of where problems might lie.

Katko, as part of an eight-member congressional delegation, visited Israel, Iraq, Turkey and some European countries to get a better idea of the dangers posed by foreign fighters -- those Westerners recruited and trained by terrorist organizations.

As manufacturers across central New York and the entire state have trouble finding qualified workers, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) hopes a bill she supports in Congress can make a difference.  

Recent statistics show that almost a third of New York manufacturers have trouble keeping skilled workers. One of them is SBB, a DeWitt company that specializes in clean room technologies. General manager Brandon Bogart says they have openings for engineers right now that are going unfilled. And that's crimping the company’s future.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The three members of Congress that represent parts of the North Country, central New York and the Southern Tier are making a case for a regional defense symmetry. Reps. John Katko, Richard Hanna and Elise Stefanik toured upstate military facilities together Tuesday, to put the focus on potential federal budget cuts that could hurt bases in their districts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A year ago, John Katko of Camillus was a federal prosecutor, putting criminals behind bars.  Today, he is Congressman-elect for New York’s 24th Congressional District.

Katko vowed to keep the promise he made on the campaign trail to work  with Democrats in Washington.  

Onondaga County Republican Party Chair Tom Dadey thinks that’s the issue that created Katko’s winning coalition.

The mishandling of an Ebola patient at a Texas hospital has health care institutions across the country on alert, and that includes central New York. Local hospitals and health care providers have stiffened protocols when it comes to dealing with a patient who could have the deadly disease.

Soon after walking into the emergency room at St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse, prospective patients are asked about more than their symptoms. They’re quizzed on where they have been.

 

There are still children being treated at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse for symptoms of a respiratory virus that’s hospitalized hundreds of children across the country. But the numbers of suspected cases of Enterovirus D-68 has leveled off.

It's that time of year when experts recommend getting a flu shot, but many central New Yorkers aren't getting that message.

A larger percentage of central New Yorkers get vaccine preventable diseases like the flu than in any other part of upstate New York, according to state Health Department numbers compiled by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. Regional President Dr. Arthur Vercillo says that mirrors the number of people getting flu shots.

With five weeks until election day, Rep. Dan Maffei’s reelection campaign is embarking on a campaign strategy called “30 Days and 30 Ways John Katko is Too Reckless and Radical for Central New York.”

Maffei, a Democrat, is running for his third term in Congress, and says the idea is to outline differences between him, and Republican nominee John Katko. Week one focuses on the candidate’s jobs agenda.  Maffei says he has a record and accuses Katko of having nothing but a one-page jobs document.

ACR Health has expanded its needle exchange program in Utica.  

In the Syracuse area, the organization’s three-year-old needle exchange program has reached almost 1,000 injection drug users. ACR health prevention director Erin Bortel says one of the reason it’s so successful is that it goes to where the injection users are.

Syracuse University showed off an $18 million renovation of the Newhouse 2 building on campus with arguably one of the most successful television personalities in the country cutting the ribbon.

"Let the new generation of innovation come forth," said long-time talk show host Oprah Winfrey to those standing beside her. "One, two, three. Cut!"

 

Spent grain will once again be allowed to be used as livestock feed in New York state. Sen.

Supporters see a casino as a golden opportunity to bring life back to a part of the state that is still stumbling economically.   Peter Walsh is from the family that owns Traditions, already an entertainment venue in Johnson City, near Binghamton. He said his group's biggest plus, is the proximity to an urban area that’s got one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. "We have 200,000 people in our close proximity," said Walsh. "And we have 5,000 more unemployed right in our county.

Onondaga County and emergency management officials are taking the next step to help central New Yorkers prepare for a natural or man-made disaster. Officials believe it’s not a matter of if a disaster will strike, but when, and residents need to be ready.

Following a survey last year of central New Yorkers asking how ready they were for a disaster, one statistic stood out to Rosie Taravella of the Red Cross. Most people believe emergency responders will be able to help them right away if there is a community-wide storm, flood or man-made disaster.

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.  

The jockeying for a coveted casino license in New York state's Southern Tier and Finger Lakes was on display at a public comment session in Ithaca Wednesday. The New York Gaming Facility Location Board wrapped up a series of public hearings by listening to arguments about proposed casinos in what is called the Eastern Southern Tier region.

The City of Syracuse is still in the running as a potential landing spot for unaccompanied  immigrant children who’ve been crossing the Mexican U-S boarder, in droves in recent months. Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is hoping a letter to the president can bring those kids to Central New York sooner rather than later. Miner asked President Obama to consider forming a partnership between Syracuse and the Federal government to help deal with the humanitarian needs of these kids, who are waiting for deportation hearings.

Today is Congressional primary day in New York. And some national political pundits are comparing the Republican primary in New York’s 22nd District to the Virginia primary race that saw a Tea Party candidate beat Republican Party leader Eric Cantor. The race has some of the same themes as that Virginia primary, with a moderate Main Street Republican looking to keep his seat, in the wake of a challenge from a more conservative Tea Party Republican.

The General Educational Development test, or GED that used to be the gateway for a New York State Diploma, has been replaced with a harder test called TASC, short for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion.

Marcia Tate, Executive Director of Literacy CNY, doesn’t know how test takers did, but she knows she’d have had trouble with it.

"The math is going to be very difficult," says Tate. "I’m not sure that I could pass it, to be perfectly honest with you, without some preparation.”

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