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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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.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The number of people who applied to work as a corrections officer in Oswego County dropped from 221 in 2012 to 49 this year and those applying to be a patrol officer dropped from 171 in 2012 to 108 in 2019. Oswego County Sheriff Don Hilton says it's consistent with a nationwide decline in candidates for law enforcement jobs. So he petitioned the legislature to remove the requirement that corrections and patrol officers lives in Oswego County.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the recently passed state budget makes an unprecedented commitment to invest $150 billion in infrastructure projects over the next five years, some of which will go to fix upstate's highways, bridges, and tunnels. But many local government leaders, like East Syracuse Mayor Robert Tackman, say that's not enough.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A mobile mammogram van will soon hit the road in eight counties in central and northern New York as part of a partnership between Upstate University Hospital and the state to increase access to breast cancer screenings.

The 45-foot long pink and blue van is an all-in-one clinic complete with a reception area, dressing rooms, and the same type of state-of-the-art 3-D Mammography equipment that's used at Upstate. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says that technology can now reach a much wider range of patients.

WRVO News File Photo

After four years as mayor and eight on the city council, Joe Butler says it's time for a break so he can focus on his family and career. Butler says he's proud of his role in maintaining the city's fiscal strength during his term while also investing in city infrastructure like roads and sidewalks - and the $10 million  Watertown won from the state in 2017 to improve its downtown.

"The revitalization of the downtown area - I think - that’s come a long way and that will continue to improve," Butler said. "That’s been a big part of why I wanted to run for mayor."

Deana Michaels, Dan Farfaglia, Ethan Parkhurst

Ron Woodward has occupied the Fulton mayor's office since 2008, and before that for two years in the 1980s. The 70-year-old had planned to run for a fourth straight term as mayor, his fifth overall. He had already been endorsed by the Fulton GOP, but this week Woodward changed his mind, and announced that he would not run for re-election.

Sen. Pam Helming

The so-called Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act was carefully crafted to prevent the construction of the proposed $365-million trash incinerator in the town of Romulus in Seneca County. The act bans state agencies from approving the construction of incineration facilities if they are within the Oswego River/Finger Lakes Watershed, 50 miles from a landfill, and 10 miles from a DEC-designated priority water body. The bill failed to pass the Assembly last year.

Ray Sawhillv / Flickr

The binational organization that regulates shared water between the U.S. and Canada is missing the necessary amount of members it needs to take any actions. That's alarming some communities along Lake Ontario where water levels are about a foot above average.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

With Lake Ontario's water levels about a foot above average, communities along its shoreline are trying to get help in preventing the flooding that devastated the area in 2017.

WRVO News (file photo)

Local government elections in New York state are several months away, but the membership of the Oswego County Legislature is already changing.

At least six of the 25 members of the Oswego County Legislature have announced that they are not running for re-election. The reasons for their departures are seemingly unrelated. Two legislators are leaving to run for another office, three are choosing to retire, and one is leaving to focus on family and business.

Carol / Flickr

Another plot of land on the site of the former Nestle plant in Fulton has been sold.

Fulton officials have been working overtime in recent years to get the 24 acres of land where the Nestle factory once stood back on the tax rolls. The city took another step toward that goal this month when its Common Council approved a resolution to sell a 9,000-square-foot parcel to Construction Design and Management, Inc., a Cicero-based business.

Fulton Mayor Ron Woodward says Construction Design and Management plans to lease the building to Charter Communications.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

At a forum in East Syracuse this weekend, central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) heard a variety of opinions about why the state should either replace or rebuild the aging I-81 viaduct in Syracuse. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

For the first time in nearly 20 years, Oswego County has a new sheriff. Don Hilton, a former detective and SWAT team supervisor with the Syracuse Police Department, was elected to fill the job last year after longtime Sheriff Reuel Todd retired.  

Hilton took over at the start of the year. It's a new job for him, but in familiar territory. He started his career in law enforcement as a corrections officer at the Oswego County's Sheriff's Office about 30 years ago.

"I'm actually back home," Hilton said. "It feels great to be here. It's rewarding."

WRVO News (file photo)

Watertown Mayor Joe Butler calls it a blueprint for the city. The comprehensive plan would develop a list of goals and how to accomplish them like reducing drug use in the city to improve public safety, addressing city blight by renovating zombie homes, and improving quality of life by adding more recreational activities for city residents and offering better customer service at city hall.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials arrived in the Village of Whitesboro to help evacuate homes and mitigate the damage caused by ice jam flooding. The CSX railroad bridge that sits low over the Sauquoit Creek was clogged with large chunks of ice and other debris, which sent water over its banks.

Jimmy Emerson, DMV / Flickr

The stalemate in Washington, D.C., that has created the nation's longest federal government shutdown has shuttered national parks across the country, including several in upstate New York.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

It was only a little more than a decade ago when the Sunoco ethanol plant sat vacant. But thanks to more than $200 million worth of investments, it was transformed into facility that now processes corn into more than 85 million gallons of ethanol every year. Attis Industries, a company involved in renewable energy and healthcare technologies, is now acquiring the plant and the adjacent 1886 Malt House for $20 million.

Company CEO Jeff Cosman says once that sale is finalized, the plant will become the centerpiece of a grand design.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Oswego residents could soon see a $200 decrease in their annual sewer and water bill. The proposed rollback was announced during Mayor Billy Barlow's State of the City address last week.

It was almost three years ago that the council raised those rates as a way to pay for a federally mandated sewer and water separation project. Council President Rob Corradino, who took office with Barlow after those rates were increased, remembers the public outrage at his first meeting.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

This weekend’s snowstorm did not stop hundreds of people from participating in Syracuse Women’s March Saturday. The diverse group walked from the Everson Museum of Art in downtown to the University United Methodist Church, carrying signs that were critical of President Donald Trump's admiminstration.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

When Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow took office, city residents had seen four consecutive tax increases and then a major spike in their sewer and water rates to help pay for a federally mandated sewer and water separation project. And things were about to get worse as a contract that provided Oswego with $1 million in revenue each year was coming to an end.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Now that Democrats control the New York State Senate and Assembly, party leaders and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo have promised to push forward a progressive agenda. And the progressive groups that helped elect that majority say they are going to ensure that promise was more than just campaign rhetoric.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Many communities in central New York are reaping the benefits of the region's top-place prize at the state's annual regional economic development awards. That includes Oswego and Fulton where plans that have been in the works for years are finally receiving state funding.