Payne Horning

Reporter

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

Fort Drum & 10th Mountain Division / Flickr

An annual economic report shows that the Fort Drum military base outside Watertown continues to have a seismic impact in Jefferson, Louis, and St. Lawrence counties. Between the 19,000 military and civilian personnel, the base employs directly and 5,000 jobs off base that it supports indirectly, it's estimated that Fort Drum had a total economic impact of $1.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2019. The value-added portion of that impact accounts for 11.6% of the region's GDP.

Loretto

New York state announced this week it is easing visitation rules at adult care facilities. Families can now visit their loved ones who are in assisted living facilities if there has not been a case of COVID-19 there in at least 14 days, down from the previous requirement of 28 days.

WRVO News (file photo)

According to a survey of more than 200 people in Syracuse, long-standing issues facing the community like housing, food, and employment have been made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of respondents who say they struggle to pay rent has doubled since March and more than half say they have experienced some kind of change in employment, including losing their jobs or seeing reduced wages.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

With some schools in central New York reopening for in-person classes over the next few weeks, county health department officials are working with districts on what to do if staff or students contract the coronavirus. Many districts that are allowing children back into the building have elected for a hybrid system - half of the students come to school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while the other half come in on Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will be reserved so staff can complete a deep clean of the building.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO News File Photo

In the past year alone, Fulton has experienced a tremendous amount of change: the city won $10 million from the state to revitalize its downtown, elected a new mayor for the first time in more than a decade, and started the process of building a series of multi-use trails throughout the city. Mayor Deana Michaels said that's why now is the perfect time to start writing a new narrative for the community.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

In a narrow vote Tuesday, the Onondaga County Legislature gave County Executive Ryan McMahon's administration the authority to layoff as many as 250 positions, a move meant to help Onondaga County deal with the $80-100 million revenue shortfall caused by the pandemic.

Elizabeth Smith

At a recent meeting of the Watertown City Council, a handful of residents protested outside city hall hoping to delay efforts to demolish and fill in one of the city's three public pools. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

It's a day Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said he hoped would never come. On Friday afternoon, Walsh laid out his plan for $18.1 million worth of deep and widespread cuts to the city's budget as a way to make up for what is estimated to be a significant loss of revenues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

WRVO News (file photo)

The Syracuse Common Council is moving forward with a long-sought piece of legislation meant to increase police transparency.

WRVO News (file photo)

Tracking the spread of the coronavirus is traditionally done through diagnostic testing and contact tracing, but Oswego is utilizing another method to contain the virus - samples taken from the city's wastewater system. It may be unconventional, yet Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow says it works.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At a stop in Auburn Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said his office has been flooded with complaints from central New Yorkers who are experiencing the consequences from the changes that the Trump administration is making to the Post Office. 

Tom Dlugolenski, president of the Syracuse chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers union that represents Post Office employees, said the actions taken recently by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy - everything from removing mail sorting machines to reducing overtime - are hampering post office locations across the country.

Shinichi Sugiyama / Flickr

Today is the deadline for New York schools to submit their plans for in-person instruction this fall to the state. Overall, most school districts in central and northern New York are planning to move forward with a hybrid system that offers students an opportunity for in-person learning two days per week with remote instruction for the remainder.

WXXI News (file photo)

I-81 project director Mark Frechette said at $1.9 billion, the redesign of I-81 will be one of the largest projects New York's Department of Transportation has undertaken.

"It touches over 50 bridges - some are removed, some are replaced, some are rehabilitated, they expand the interstate; there's over seven miles of reconstruction work on Interstate 81, Interstate 690, and Interstate 481; plus highway expansion and rehabilitation work," Frechette said. "The workforce necessary is significant."

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Onondaga County has completed another extension of the Loop the Lake Trail along Onondaga Lake, 1.1 miles in length, and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said it's needed now more than ever.

"When you think about what we're going through as a community right now and what we've done to get ourselves through this pandemic from a mental health standpoint, I can tell you our park system and this trail specifically has never been busier," McMahon said.

Payne Horning / WRVO News (file photo)

Many cities in upstate New York and across the country are struggling to balance their budgets in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, but the city of Oswego's mayor is proposing a budget that neither raises taxes nor borrows from the city's savings.

Mayor Billy Barlow said his proposed $45 million budget was years in the making. He was able to avoid tax or fee increases this year thanks to reductions in staff in previous budget cycles.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that 107 school districts in the state still have not submitted their mandatory plans for reopening this fall, which is due to the state by the end of this week. Several of the districts on the list are located in central New York, including Oswego, Utica, Cortland, Fayetteville-Manlius.

In a conference call with reporters, Cuomo called out the superintendents for not getting their plans for in-person learning to the New York State Department of Health (NYDOH) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED).

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said he not only supports the Black Lives Matters movement but also thinks that systemic racism is present in every police department, even locally. It's one of the reasons all city employees - not just the police - undergo annual anti-bias and anti-racism training. Yet, he's starkly opposed to calls for abolishing or defunding the police.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

Since Syracuse launched its bike sharing program last July, 2,000 people have used the Gotcha bikes for a total of 9,000 trips and Paul Colabufo, the local community manager for Gotcha, said interest continues to rise.

Bret Jaspers / WSKG News file photo

When New York went into lockdown this spring, people across the state were required to adapt overnight to online learning, work, and even doctor's appointments. But as Executive Director of the Rural Schools Association of New York State David Little notes, not everyone was able to do that successfully.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

As the rate of COVID-19 continues to fall in much of upstate New York, new data suggests that people in central New York are on the move.

Officials at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport say they have seen a significant increase in traffic lately. The number of passengers more than doubled from 8,600 in April to 25,000 in May and by the end of last month, total boardings at Hancock were 27% above what airport officials had predicted, prompting them to reintroduce some flights to Atlanta and Denver.

St. Joseph's Hospital

Administrators at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse are closing its two urgent care facilities and laying off employees. CFO Meredith Price said in the last few months, revenues from elective surgeries -which were put on hold for two months- have dipped at a time when the costs related to preparing staff to handle coronavirus cases continue to increase.

WRVO News (file photo)

After recent years of consistent and even record growth, New York's tourism business -which is the state's third-largest industry- suffered a blow this year due to changes related to COVID-19. Bob Provost, president of the New York State Tourism Industry Association, said travel spending in the state dropped $18.7 billion between March 1 and June 6. That's an 80 percent drop from 2019.

The Digital Hyve

Although many office employees have returned to work or soon will, tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and others have announced that some of their employees may work remotely on a permanent basis. Some tech companies in Syracuse are also planning to implement changes that could permanently change how and where their employees work.

Destiny USA

Concerned about what role malls may be playing in the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in other states, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that in order for large malls to reopen safely in New York, the owners must upgrade their facility's air filtration system.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media File Photo

Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the city's current system for dealing with problematic landlords and tenants, which relies on a point-based system that is assessed for each violation, has been ineffective because by the time enough points accumulate for the city to take action, the landlord or tenants leave. And the city's efforts in recent years to bolster the code enforcement department isn't fixing the issue.

Clarity Clinical Research

A clinical lab in Syracuse is studying a drug that researchers hope could prevent the spread of COVID-19 in assisted living facilities like nursing homes. Over a period of six weeks, Clarity Clinical Research plans to administer a pill that contains Nitazoxinide to willing participants at one of Loretto's four assisted living facilities in central New York after one of their fellow tenants tests positive for the Coronavirus. 

Oneida Indian Nation

People can once again place bets at the Oneida Indian Nation's casinos in central New York, which reopened this week. 

With commonly touched items and surfaces like chips, cards, and slot machines, reopening a casino presents a number of unique challenges compared to the average business. But Joel Barkin, a spokesperson for the Oneida Indian Nation, said the staff is confident about the measures they have implemented to keep patrons safe from COVID-19.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News (file photo)

More central and northern New Yorkers were able to return to church this weekend after the state allowed places of worship to reopen with 25% occupancy in the regions that are in phase two of recovery. 

ceedub13 / Flickr, Creative Commons

The international governmental body that helps regulate water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has been reducing how much water is being released from the Lake through the Moses-Saunders Dam.

New York state has implemented a moratorium on evictions through August 20, but Utica tenants like Teoka Muhammad note that provides people with only a temporary solution.

"It is stressful sitting at home wondering am I going to make enough money or the unemployment- or are we going to get a stimulus check that is going to help us to take care of the rent, the National Grid [utility bill], which is cool that they said you know that said they are not going to turn this off but that doesn't stop us from having to pay," Muhammad said.

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