Ellen Abbott

Reporter, Syracuse

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. 

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Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

An e-commerce startup in central New York is offering holiday shoppers a chance to show some pride in Syracuse, as well as give back to the community. The SYR Clothing Company is open for orders. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A program meant to fight childhood obesity in some Syracuse City Schools is expanding, and adding a new component.  The Growing Healthy Hearts program will soon be in seven schools in the district, which has a 37% childhood obesity rate among students.

The program emphasizes the importance of eating right and being active in order to stay healthy.  Emanie Cook, a fifth-grader at McKinley-Brighton, likes it.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO Public Media

The race for the soon to be vacated 50th state Senate seat is on.

When state Sen. Bob Antonacci won a judgeship on Election Day mid-term, it essentially opened the door for Democrat John Mannion to gear up his campaign team for another shot at the job. He lost to Antonacci in 2018 by two percentage points. Mannion, a high school science teacher, announced his candidacy last month.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

According to the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York’s annual report, the number of people living on the streets and in shelters in a three-county area is down 6% in the calendar year that ended in September. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign is an iconic holiday sight every year. This year, the agency is trying to keep the campaign relevant by adding some new technology options for giving.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The city of Syracuse is pulling out all the stops for this year’s tree lighting ceremony Friday, which for the first time ever features an artificial Christmas tree.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Hancock International Airport in Syracuse is preparing for big crowds this week. Today will be the first day with at least 10,000 passengers moving through the airport.

According to airport officials, there will be a 17% increase in Thanksgiving week travelers this year compared to 2018. Airport Executive Director Jason Terreri said it’s not just crowded planes, but new flights either arriving or departing from Hancock.

Catherine Loper / WRVO News

There are connections between what we eat and how we feel, and the growing field of culinary medicine looks to capitalize on that link by joining the foundations of nutrition science with teaching people how to cook healthy, tasteful meals. 

One North Country doctor’s office is taking it to the next level by offering patients cooking tips and techniques from a teaching kitchen that’s part of their clinic.

WRVO News (file photo)

The city of Syracuse is looking at existing policies for reporting and addressing race and hate incidents after racist graffiti was discovered behind a Syracuse community center, and belatedly reported to police.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Update: Chancellor Kent Syverud has agreed to 16 of the 19 demands from student protestors and international students. In a message to members of the Syracuse University community sent early this morning, Syverud wrote that he agreed to 16 of the demands as written and has suggested mior revisions to the remaining three.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

The city of Syracuse is anxious for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that will get the ball rolling the premier project of the Syracuse Surge, the creation of a STEAM school in the old Central Tech building. But at this point, it’s just a waiting game.

In a stop in Syracuse last week, Cuomo applauded plans for a county-wide school that focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. But he said he’s not quite ready to sign legislation that provides most of the $75 million cost of renovating the vacant Central Tech building.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse Rescue Mission has expanded and renovated its kitchen. The new Clarence Jordan Food Service and Culinary Education Center will feed the homeless and offer them a way to a job.

Robert Butler is a long time Rescue Mission kitchen volunteer. He said the upgraded kitchen is going to make a big difference in preparing the up to 700 meals they serve every day.

Tom Sinon / Flickr

Under a new law that went into effect this week, it’s now illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products in New York.

One of the biggest reasons anti-tobacco advocate Chris Owens thinks this new law will have a big impact, is that 90% of teens who use tobacco up to now have relied on friends who are over 18, but under 21, to buy smokes or other tobacco products like e-cigarettes.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Updated at 7:55 a.m. Thursday 

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Central New York’s emerging drone industry is taking some major steps forward, as construction of the infrastructure is complete for the unmanned traffic management drone corridor which runs from Syracuse to the Mohawk Valley.

State officials say the 50-mile stretch of land is the most advanced drone testing corridor in the nation.  Mike Hertzendor is CEO of NUAIR, which manages the corridor. He said wrapping up the infrastructure is a big deal.

Jason Smith / WRVO News (file photo)

Politicians will be digging deep into the early voting statistics from this year, the first year it has been available to voters in New York state, and it could alter some strategies in races going forward.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A Veterans Day tradition continues today in a small dentist's office in Syracuse.  Dr. Joan Laura’s office in Eastwood will be open for veterans looking for free dental care.

This is Laura's eighth year treating vets, and what started as a trickle of veterans into her office has grown to upwards of 50 people every year. 

"Over the past seven years, I’ve treated 722 veterans and donated over $45,000 of treatment.”

Laura offers basic dentistry, cleanings, fillings, extractions. She said vets often don’t have good dental care.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Republicans retained a firm grasp on Onondaga County government after the votes were counted Tuesday. But while the GOP still has control over the legislative and executive branch, it did lose one county-wide seat.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Nearly 2,000 people sent ticks to a citizen science tick testing program run by Upstate Medical University in Syracuse this year. The data collected will help scientists figure out how and where tick-borne diseases are transmitted to humans.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State lawmakers are holding hearings across the state this month to find ways to better fund schools. Central New York students and activists are among those calling for full funding of a formula called Foundation Aid that distributes money across school districts.

13-year-old Emerson Brown is an eighth grader at in the Auburn School District. She was one of the speakers at a roundtable sponsored by state Senate Democrats on whether Foundation Aid is meeting the needs of schools. Brown said her school isn’t getting the funding it deserves.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Negative advertising has overtaken what had been a quiet race for Onondaga County Executive. With just a week to go before Election Day, the rhetoric on both sides of the race has intensified.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon, appointed to the job a year ago, faces Tony Malavenda, a local businessman. Negative advertising creeped into the campaign via an ad from Malavenda, bringing up a 10-year-old connection between McMahon and a fraudulent investor.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Another segment of the Loop the Lake trail around Onondaga Lake is ready for bikers, joggers and walkers.

Only the finishing touches are left on a portion of the trail on the west side of the lake. It effectively brings the trail from just after the Lakeview Amphitheater to the 690 WestFairgrounds exit. Tony DaRin of Barton and Loguidice, the engineering firm handling the job, said it was a difficult stretch to complete, because it sits on the old Solvay waste beds.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Early voting begins on October 26 in New York, but that isn’t the only new experience greeting voters this election season. In many counties across New York State, electronic poll books will be replacing the huge books voters have used for years to sign in to vote. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The initiative to end the AIDS epidemic in New York state by the end of 2020 is making progress. New data shows new HIV diagnoses last year dropped 11%. But while the instance of the disease is trending down, there are still some challenges to reaching that goal in central and northern New York.

The two biggest reasons for a decrease in HIV diagnoses, according to ACR Health Executive Director Wil Murtaugh, is the use of an HIV prevention medication called PrEP, as well as successful medications that reduce the viral load of individuals who are HIV positive.

MemphisCVB / Flickr

On Election Day, voters in the city of Syracuse will decide who will draw the political lines that define Common Council districts in the future. Proposition One, if approved, will take the task out of the hands of politicians.

District lines haven’t changed in Syracuse in two decades, and Common Council President Helen Hudson said things have changed over that 20 years.

"We have districts that have influx of populations. I didn’t know the southside of Syracuse has a big Haitian population," Hudson said. "So we have populations that haven’t been taken into consideration."

Fairfax County / Flickr

Now that summer is over, it doesn’t mean tick season is over. Experts say it’s as important as ever this time of year to guard against the insects that can carry Lyme and other diseases.

Upstate Medical University infectious disease specialist Kristopher Paolino said he remembers jumping in piles of leaves every fall when he was a kid.

WRVO News File Photo

Advocates for local hiring on the Interstate 81 project in Syracuse hope proposed federal legislation will help get more Syracuse residents on job crews.

The Build Local, Hire Local Act would invest in infrastructure projects like the reconstruction of Interstate 81, creating hiring targets, funding training, and giving contract opportunities to minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.

dreamingofariz / Flickr

According to a nationwide study, Syracuse has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the country. The study, from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, looked at medical claims from more than 41 million people across the country. In New York State, 31 out of every 10,000 have MS. Nationally, 24 people per  10,000 have MS.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The City of Syracuse is one of the communities across the country grappling with the conflicted history of Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day. More than 100 communities have done away with it, replacing it with Indigenous People’s Day. But a community conversation may point the way toward how to deal with Columbus Day in the future.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

A longtime Republican seat in the State Senate could soon be up for grabs. Bob Antonacci, who won the Syracuse-area seat last year after longtime Republican John DeFrancisco retired, is now running for State Supreme Court Judge in November's election.