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.

Ways to Connect

Allison Crossman, Cody Horbacz

The Watertown City Council passed a resolution last night recommending that the Jefferson County Board of Elections certify three names on the ballot for the November mayoral election. The goal was to help end an impasse created when two candidates, Councilor Cody Horbacz and businesswoman Allison Crossman, tied for second place.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

New York state will soon require large generators of food waste donate what they can to those in need and compost the rest. The mandate won't go into effect until 2022, but work is already underway in the Mohawk Valley to meet this new recycling challenge.

Bill Rabbia, executive director of the Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority (OHSWA), says they do their best to make one last use of the trash that ends up in landfills by capturing the methane gas it emits to generate electricity. However, Rabbia says the system is imperfect.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News (file photo)

The primaries in New York state took place more than two weeks ago, but the results of the Watertown mayoral primary remain undecided.

Under city law, the candidates with the first and second-most votes are supposed to advance to the general election. Jeff Smith came in first. The problem is that City Councilor Cody Horbacz and businesswoman Allison Crossman have tied for second place.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

A commission assembled to analyze whether any changes are needed to the structure of Watertown's city government has finished its review.

The push for a commission to review the Watertown City Charter came after the last round of City Council elections when candidates questioned why Watertown needed both a mayor and a city manager. Cities like Oswego have lumped those roles into one full-time mayor position, chosen by the electorate. But in Watertown, the City Council chooses the city manager, which Councilor Ryan Henry-Wilkinson opposes.

Tom Hart / North Sandy Pond Resiliency Project

The record-high water levels in Lake Ontario this year are not just flooding shoreline communities, they're also permanently changing the landscape. The higher waves are accelerating erosion along New York's shoreline, threatening property owners and the environment.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

In his first State of the County address, Oswego County Chairman James Weatherup announced that they can now move forward on a project to replace the county airport's on-site septic system with public wastewater services from the City of Fulton. It's the latest progress for the airport, which serves industries, businesses, and private pilots in Oswego and surrounding counties.

Weatherup says they hope to start work soon on the construction of a new hangar to house 10 airplanes. New York State is paying for part of the project with an $865,000 grant.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Exelon, the company that owns and operates the nuclear power plants in Oswego County, has reached an agreement with the county on a $69 million tax agreement.

The Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement will provide a steady stream of revenue to the county through 2023. Each year, the Mexico Central School District will get $9 million, the county will get $4 million, and the Town of Scriba will get $500,000. That's about $2 million more per year than under the previous PILOT agreement.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Many homeowners along Lake Ontario acknowledge that they took the risk of potential flooding when they built or moved into their properties on the shoreline, but the record-high levels from 2017 and 2019 are not something anyone prepared for. Even those who are trying to adjust to these new levels are struggling to stay above water.

In Pulaski these days, the rules for approaching the homes on Rainbow Shores Road are the same whether you're coming by boat or car, go slow so you don't leave a wake.

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

Following a promise to the U.S., China announced that it would treat all fentanyl as illegal in an effort to more tightly regulate how many variants of the drug are making their way out of the country. But Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), who has seen opioids ravage his Congressional district that covers the Mohawk Valley, is skeptical.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media

The Oswego Common Council unanimously passed a resolution at its meeting this week calling on the International Joint Commission (IJC), the international body that helps regulate Lake Ontario's levels, to suspend Plan 2014. It's the water management plan implemented three years ago that calls for higher lake levels. Those who live along the shoreline blame it for the record water levels seen this year and in 2017.

WRVO News File Photo

The recently passed Green Light Act will allow undocumented immigrants in New York to apply for a driver's license with foreign passports, consular identification documents, and foreign driver's licenses. These changes won't take effect until December, but Seneca County Clerk Christina Lotz says as of now, she does not plan to comply.

WRVO News (file photo)

Oswego County businesses have long complained about the lack of a skilled workforce in the area. Local officials are now trying to address the issue with a workforce development program that could lower the unemployment rate and put Oswego County on the map.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a catalyst moment in the LGBTQ community's equal rights movement. Larger cities typically host events each June to commemorate the event, but the celebration is growing across upstate.

del Lago Resort & Casino

The New York Gaming Commission voted this month to allow wagers on sports games to take place at any of the four commercial casinos and tribal facilities in upstate. The gambling is restricted to in-person bets at a casino's designated sports lounge, as opposed to online or through mobile devices.

The approval was met with praise at the del Lago Resort & Casino in Seneca County, where construction on one of these lounges is already underway. del Lago General Manager Mark Juliano says the lounge will offer their customers a unique experience.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Starting July 1, Catholics in Oswego will merge their four churches into one because of the dwindling number of worshipers and limited resources in the community. Although many parishioners understand the need for the consolidation, several are unhappy with where the new faith community will celebrate mass.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A coalition of New York property owners plans to sue the International Joint Commission (IJC), the international body that regulates water levels on Lake Ontario.

At the first meeting of the newly formed Lake Ontario Landowners Association, a crowd of more than 100 packed into a restaurant in Pulaski and cheered on the founder Jim Shea as he railed against the IJC and its board members.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

In recent testimony before Congress, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin revealed that the new $20 bill will not be released until 2028 because federal officials are working to shore up its security features as a way to combat counterfeiting. That will be an eight-year postponement from the date Jack Lew, Mnuchin's predecessor from the Obama Administration, had announced that a new note featuring Harriet Tubman, the famed conductor of the Underground Railroad, would debut.

A Health Club / Flickr

Limitless. That's the potential that the American Medical Association says artificial intelligence can offer to the way health care is currently delivered. This machine learning is already in use in many hospitals, but as AI continues to evolve, so to too are the ways in which it is transforming the very practice of medicine.


All week long, New Yorkers have been weighing in on a proposed project that would help preserve some of the oldest shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. The federal government is considering creating a 1,700-square-mile national marine sanctuary in the southeastern portion of Lake Ontario. And as part of the designation process, federal officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spent time visiting the communities that stand to be impacted by the transformative project.

City of Oswego

With the deadline now passed for candidates from other parties or independents to file, Mayor Billy Barlow is the only candidate in this year's Oswego mayoral race - effectively guaranteeing a second term.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Fifth Judicial District Administrative Judge James Tormey says there's a need for more space at the Oswego Public Safety Center. It's largely driven by the amount of new assignments the court is taking on like opioid court and the Raise the Age law that the New York State Legislature passed last year mandating 16- and 17-year-olds now be handled in family court rather than the adult criminal justice system.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Trump Administration's decision to end the tariffs it had imposed on aluminum shipments from Canada is welcome news in Oswego, where the tax took a toll on two of the city's largest businesses.

Aluminum is what's referred to as a staple product at the Port of Oswego because it provides for a majority of the daily jobs there. So when President Donald Trump placed a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from Canada - the largest supplier of the metal to the U.S. - in 2017, Oswego Port Authority Director William Scriber says it took a big hit on the budget. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A ruling from a New York appellate court has effectively cleared the way for farm workers to organize and bargain collectively.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

It was three years ago that Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to Oswego with a check for $10 million. The Port City was the first in central New York to win the Downtown Revitalization Initative (DRI) competition. Now, construction has finally begun on the project.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The New York State Legislature is holding a hearing in Albany today on the proposed New York Health Act, a bill that would create a single-payer health insurance system run by the state government. Syracuse-area State Sen. Bob Antonacci recently convened his own hearing in his district to gather local input on the bill.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Watertown officials are preparing to vote on a budget that stays within the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap and includes no increase in sewer or water rates.

Watertown Mayor Joe Butler says the 2019 city budget is one of the easiest he's dealt with. The proposed $44 million plan is actually smaller than last year's budget and requires only a 1.6 percent property tax increase. He attributes that to a number of factors, including savings in the city-funded health insurance.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

For the first time in 40 years, the City of Oswego has a new zoning code. Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow says this comprehensive rewrite will position the city for growth and development for at least a couple decades.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Anheuser-Busch brewery in Baldwinsville will now be partially powered by a 2.7 megawatt solar farm, the largest off-site solar installation of any Anheuser-Busch brewery in the country.

Mohawk Valley Health System

The Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) has started closing on privately owned properties in downtown Utica to make way for its new hospital. Officials hope to break ground on the $480 million facility by the end of the year. But MVHS will first have to deal with a lawsuit filed by a group that's opposed to the project.

Katherine Long / Catholic Sun

Nearly 18 months after the four churches in the city of Oswego announced their decision to unite, a consensus has been reached to move to St. Paul's Church.

Deacon Nick Alvaro, administrator of St. Joseph and St. Stephen the King churches in Oswego, says it was not an easy path as committees made up of members from each of the parishes initially came to a stalemate. St. Paul's ultimately won out because of its size and proximity to Oswego's lone Catholic school, Trinity Catholic School.