Jessica Cain

Reporter

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York.  Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.    

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

The Syracuse City School District is asking for input from the community to decide how to spend an influx in federal dollars in the wake of the pandemic. The district is expecting about $109 million as part of ARPA, or the American Rescue Plan Act. They’re asking people who live in the district to make their voices heard through an online survey.  

J J / via Flickr

Travel experts from AAA are warning young drivers and their families about the “100 deadliest days.” That’s the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day when fatal crashes involving teens spike across the state.

Research from AAA shows that from 2010-2019 in New York state, 196 people were killed in crashes involving teens between those dates.

Jessica Cain

Children at a North Syracuse school are celebrating the grand opening of a new playground, and the project is breaking down barriers.

Bright smiles and laughter fill the air outdoors at the North Syracuse Early Education Program. About half of the school’s students have special needs, and the project is succeeding at what it set out to do: giving students of all abilities a safe and accessible space to play together.

Jessica Cain

A major outreach effort is underway in Oneida County to make sure diverse communities have access to COVID-19 vaccines and information.

Enthusiastic workers set up tables filled with water and snacks in Utica’s Oneida Square and stood at the ready to help community members figure out how and where they could get COVID-19 vaccines.

Jessica Cain

Starting Thursday, small businesses in central New York will be able to apply for their chance at state grants of up to $50,000. It’s part of the “New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.” 

The new grants are designed to help small and microbusinesses, as well as for-profit arts and cultural organizations. Priority will be given to socially and economically disadvantaged business owners, including minorities, women, and veterans.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County officials say the county is no longer facing a COVID-19 emergency from a public health standpoint. 

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says on Monday, he’ll be reviewing all emergency orders related to responding to COVID-19, and he won’t be continuing most of them.

That’s assuming the current trends continue. McMahon said there are fewer than 100 active COVID-19 cases in the community, the lowest number since the second week of the pandemic.

Jessica Cain / for WRVO News

Enjoy the beauty of New York state and help fight COVID-19 at the same time. That was the message at state parks across New York this Memorial Day weekend. 

Pop-up vaccination clinics provided shots to holiday visitors at many locations across the state, including Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville.   

Mike Mozart / Flickr

A proposal in the New York State Senate could mean more pain at the gas pump for central New Yorkers. However, the bill’s supporters say it will help the environment, and the cost won’t necessarily end up hurting consumers’ wallets.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office

State officials are revising new recommendations that required children as young as two years old to wear masks in a child care setting. 

In a joint statement, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services said they will allow child care providers to continue the practices and protocols that have been in place since the start of the pandemic. Instead of guidelines released last week that required children aged 2-5 to wear masks, the agencies said they will encourage it.

Fairfax County / Flickr

As the weather warms up and Memorial Day weekend approaches, forestry experts are asking all Central New Yorkers to be vigilant about preventing tick bites.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County officials are reviewing the details of new mask-wearing guidance released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but they expect the county will follow the new recommendations.

Phil Roeder / Flickr

The month of May marks Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. However, this year, it comes at a time when hate crimes against Asians are rising across the country. That wave of discrimination is hitting close to home for some people in the Asian American community.

WRVO Public Media File Photo

A surge in economic development could be coming to Central New York, and U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he wants to provide the federal support to make that happen. 

Katko said he helped put together the Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure Report at a recent summit in Annapolis, MD. It’s a bipartisan starting point that he hopes will lead to a significant federal investment in local projects. 

During a recent roundtable meeting with Katko, many local leaders said now is the time to get moving.

WRVO News File Photo

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said on Friday that Congresswoman Liz Cheney is a good friend of his, but if she is no longer in the GOP conference chair position, he will throw his support behind North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

A New York State Supreme Court justice in Syracuse has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged whether local Democratic candidates could also appear on the Working Families Party line on this year’s election ballots.

The suit was filed by eight Onondaga County Republicans hoping to keep or earn county legislature seats. It was one of multiple similar lawsuits filed across the state.

Venus Medler

The National Retail Federation says shoppers plan to spend an average of $220 this Mother’s Day, $16 more than they planned to spend last year. Local businesses are hoping those sales will help them recover from a difficult 2020.  

At Sugar Rush Boutique in Camillus, owner Melanie Gallace said she carries everything you need for a mom with a sweet tooth. 

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

New full day pre-Kindergarten programs could be coming to some Central New York schools, thanks to earmarked funds in the recently passed New York state budget. 

The $105 million plan would pay for a certain number of full day pre-K spots in 210 districts across the state. 

Eleven Onondaga County school districts have been targeted to receive the funding, including Baldwinsville, Fabius-Pompey, Fayetteville-Manlius, Jamesville-DeWitt, Liverpool, Marcellus, North Syracuse, Skaneateles, Tully, West Genesee, and Westhill. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media (file photo)

For the first time since the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Onondaga County is not planning to ask the state for another shipment of shots for next week. County Executive Ryan McMahon said at times, the county was receiving 6,000-7,000 doses per week. Now, demand has dropped to 1,000-2,000 shots per week. 

McMahon said the county is doing fairly well at vaccine distribution, and officials have been preparing for this drop in demand. About 67% of the county’s eligible population has been vaccinated, but that’s not enough for herd immunity. 

Jessica Cain / WRVO News

A major recruitment effort is underway to bring more volunteers to fire departments across the state. The 11th annual RecruitNY campaign will involve departments organizing in-person and virtual events on April 24th and 25th. 

Ken Pienkowski is a past president of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, or FASNY. He said across the state, member enrollment is down and call volume is up for fire, safety, and emergency medical services.

WRVO News (file photo)

Local school districts are getting a much-needed financial boost, thanks to the recently passed New York state budget. The spending plan includes a record $29.5 billion for school aid, an 11% increase.

That includes a $1.4 billion Foundation Aid increase, a major source of funding for local districts, and a promise to make good on a 2007 deal to fully fund schools by the year 2024.

Syracuse City School District is getting an increase of $15 million over what school officials thought they were going to get.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Fresh off the heels of Onondaga County’s first high school pop-up vaccination clinic, officials are saying it’s a good start.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said at least 150 students and staff received their Covid-19 vaccinations at Baldwinsville’s Baker High School on Thursday. Next week, the county plans to hold more pop-up clinics at Liverpool High School and East Syracuse Minoa High School, with the goal of getting more students aged 16 and up vaccinated with parental permission.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Eight Onondaga County Republicans are suing to keep their Democratic challengers off of a second party line on this year’s election ballot.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Onondaga County Legislature Chairman Dave Knapp, Legislator Jim Rowley, Legislator Deb Cody, Legislator Cody Kelly, Legislator John McBride, Mark Olson, Joe Carni, and Colleen Gunnip.

The lawsuit alleges that the Working Families Party failed to properly authenticate its nominating petitions for candidates, submitting signatures that were electronically reproduced instead of the original signatures.

Jessica Cain / WRVO News

Construction is underway to build a new, state-of-the-art animal health center at Syracuse’s Rosamond Gifford Zoo. The Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo has launched a $1.1 million dollar capital campaign to raise money for new diagnostic and treatment equipment.

Onondaga County has allocated $7.5 million for the design, engineering, construction, and landscaping of the building.

Jessica Cain / WRVO News

Spring break is in full swing in central New York, but this year many parents are facing an additional challenge. They’re working on finding fun and educational activities for children to enjoy, while staying safe against the spread of COVID-19.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

Onondaga County officials say they're happy about the state's decision to loosen eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines. They're ready to put plans into action to help the community reach herd immunity. 

County Executive Ryan McMahon said Monday he feels like the county has been stuck in neutral for a few weeks, but now, that’s changing. Starting Tuesday, New Yorkers aged 30 and up will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone over age 15 will be able to sign up starting April 6.