Payne Horning


Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.

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Following years of fines, penalties, and criminal investigations, the City of Oswego is taking action against a nursing home and is enlisting the public's help for the effort.

Payne Horning

Tenants of The Skyline Apartments in downtown Syracuse gathered this weekend to discuss how a recent murder there and resulting legal action from the city may change the notorious building.

Even before the meeting began, frustrations boiled over about what's been described as inhumane and dangerous conditions inside the building. One tenant repeatedly hit the ground with the metal baseball bat that he said he has to carry with him at all times inside Skyline.

Paul Correia, a frequent visitor to Skyline, said he also feels the need to carry a weapon there.

Sen. Rachel May

Demand for home health care aides is expected to rise in New York in the coming years, yet a recent study finds that the state will be unprepared to meet that need. Research from the City University of New York (CUNY) shows that on average 17 percent of home care positions are already left unfilled due to staff shortages.

The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties

As healthcare workers were dealing with the earthquake that was the Coronavirus, nonprofit organizations in central and northern New York were trying to address the aftershocks. 

"The addiction rates went up, a lot of homelessness as a result, we’ve seen an uptick in child abuse, domestic violence, gun violence," said Alicia Dicks, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

As the COVID-19 crisis started to form in central and northern New York one year ago, government and health officials told people to shelter in their homes and wait it out there. Healthcare workers, on the other hand, were sent out into the storm, unaware of what was to come or the toll it would take on them and their colleagues.

Upstate Medical University

The pandemic has stretched the nation’s healthcare workforce so thin that states like New York have had to bring back retired healthcare professionals and fast-track graduations for medical school students, but new data shows that help is on the way.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Janet Burman, Republican candidate for mayor of Syracuse, officially kicked off her campaign Wednesday by pledging that her first action in office would be to roll back some of the cuts that the Syracuse Common Council and Mayor Ben Walsh have made to police and fire budgets. Standing approximately halfway between the City Police Department and Syracuse Fire Station One, Burman said even though the city is facing a budget crisis brought on by the pandemic, recent reductions in public safety funding were disproportionate.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A survey of landlords in Onondaga County reveals an astounding number of tenants in the area are behind on their rent.

Only about 10% of landlords in the county who were sent a survey responded, 1,154 of 11,802 who were contacted, but the number was enough to reveal the staggering costs of the pandemic. The results show that rent is owed on upwards of 9,000 units. The average due is seven months worth of rent, more than $26 million in all.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Over the weekend, Syracuse became one of the first sites in New York to distribute the newly released Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The clinic at the New York State Fairgrounds turned into a 24-hour operation, offering Pfizer vaccines during the day and then Johnson & Johnson vaccines from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., one of only three such sites in New York and the only one upstate to go around the clock.

It's a massive undertaking, but Fair Spokesperson Dave Bullard said they are up to the challenge.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

For the past three years, the Oswego Police Department has been working on a kind of diversion program for 911 calls that involve a mental health issue. Rather than just arresting individuals or taking them to the hospital, the police call in mental health counselors from Liberty Resources, a behavioral health agency serving central New York, to deescalate the situation and provide treatment on scene.

Theresa Humennyj, director of this Regional Mobile Crisis Program with Liberty, said it's been well received by the community.

ceedub13 / Flickr, Creative Commons

With all of the Great Lakes below where they were at this time last year, including Lake Ontario which is down almost 2 feet and is forecast to rise only a few inches by the end of March, the international body that helps regulate the Lake's water levels is taking its foot off the gas a bit. The Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board will no longer deviate from its water management plan, called Plan 2014, meaning it's now going to reduce how much water is released from the lake to the St. Lawrence River through the Moses-Saunders Dam.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

More than 1.5 million New Yorkers relied on the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) before the pandemic and that number has grown substantially in the last year.

During a visit to Syracuse this week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said the LIHEAP eligibility rules haven't changed but the financial circumstances of so many Americans have. Not only are more people out of work and therefore finding it harder to make ends meet, but many of them are spending more than ever on utilities as kids are going to school and people going to work remotely now.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

As COVID-19 cases decrease and vaccinations increase in the area, some central New York parents are pushing schools to return to in-person learning five days a week. A group of parents and their children from the Jamesville-Dewitt Central School District gathered outside Wednesday night to protest a recent decision from administration to its hybrid model of learning, which will mean a continuation of three days of online school a week for sixth grader Atlee Costello.

Senate Democrats / Flickr

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D- NY) said the impeachment trial of Former President Donald Trump that begins this week should proceed even though many of her Republican colleagues in the Senate have already signaled that they have no intention of voting to convict him.

International Monetary Fund / Flickr

Gyms usually see a drop in traffic every February as people abandon their New Year's fitness goals, but visits have been down all year because of the Coronavirus. 

Rachel May, Ellen Abbott

Onondaga County's two state senators help make up what is now a supermajority of Democrats in the chamber and they hope to use that support, and their positions as chairs of Senate committees, to enact a shared agenda that touches on everything from climate change to election reforms.

Fasulo Photography LLC

Abortion protesters marched in Syracuse over the weekend on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S.

In his annual address, Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the state of the city this year rests on recovering from the COVID-19 health crisis. But, that won't stop officials from moving forward on several major projects such as efforts to further transform the city's waterfront area along Lake Ontario.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

When Kamala Harris is sworn in today as the nation's first female vice president, it's a milestone that will not go unnoticed in central New York. It's a day that Sally Roesch Wagner, a women's suffrage movement historian and founder of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation in Fayetteville, has been waiting for, for a long time. Though, Wagner said it's been a much longer wait for Gage, who was a 19th century suffragist.

Vice President Mike Pence Twitter

For his final speech in office, Vice President Mike Pence delivered an address in Watertown Sunday at the Fort Drum military installation. Pence, whose father was an Army veteran and whose son and son-in-law are currently serving in the U.S. military, thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice. He gave special credit to Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division for their service in Afghanistan.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Dining out in central New York, like elsewhere in the country, looks very different this year. The fallout from COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the industry here, putting some eateries out of business and forcing others to reinvent themselves. Conditions could improve for some restaurants in downtown Syracuse soon, now that New York state is lifting the restrictions on indoor dining in the city. But even with that change, many restaurant owners are still figuring out how to navigate in these uncharted waters, hopeful that 2021 will mark the end of this difficult period. 


NUAIR, the nonprofit organization overseeing drone testing and development in central New York, has a new president and CEO. Ken Stewart, who formerly worked with General Electric aviation, will be charged with taking the region's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-testing site and 50-mile drone corridor to the next level.

stnorbert / Flickr

For the first time, most New York employees now have access to paid sick leave. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Syracuse's Hancock International Airport usually enjoys a bump in traffic during the holiday season, but travel restrictions and recommendations from government officials not to travel has taken a slice out of that business.

Payne Horning

Central New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing plenty of ice at this time of year, but they've never seen it like this: a new drive-thru display at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse features upwards of 80 sculptures carved from more than 150,000 pounds of ice blocks.

United New York Ambulance Network Facebook

The federal government is directing more than $1 billion worth of COVID relief funding passed earlier this year to offset losses incurred by ambulance providers. It's welcome news in New York.

Syracuse Stage

Winter 2020 may be remembered as the year the holiday season went virtual. Central New York is finding a way to keep the spirit alive this year, in spite of the pandemic.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is closing three state prisons, including the Watertown Correctional Facility. The New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) said the decision to shut down Gowanda Correctional Facility, Watertown Correctional Facility, and the Annex at Clinton Correctional Facility is the culmination of years of progressive criminal justice reforms that have reduced the state’s inmate population to its lowest level in 30 years.

Some rights reserved by SalFalko / Flickr

For years now, Watertown leaders have been wrestling with how the city can afford a state-mandated second city courtroom, a problem they say originated in Albany. Now, the issue no longer exists thanks to a fix that also came from Albany.

In 2013, New York state increased the number of city court judges in Watertown from one full-time position and one part-time to two full-time judges. Former Watertown City Councilor Mark Walczyk said they never asked for that change nor the bill that came along with it.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

Lake Ontario is hovering at its long-term average and two feet below where it was at this time last year, but it's not the same elsewhere in the Great Lakes. Some of the lakes are two or more feet above their long-term averages, presenting a risk of flooding in Lake Ontario next spring.