Syracuse

9:32pm

Wed April 16, 2014
Education

Plan approved for Fowler H.S. remake; district nowhere on Delaware school

Syracuse school superintendent Sharon Contreras at a special school board meeting Wednesday. Board Commissioner David Cecile is at the right.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The Syracuse public school system has a plan in place for the future of Fowler High School, one of three it's overhauling this year. The school board has approved turning the school into one focused on public service and law enforcement.

Starting in the fall, incoming students will not attend Fowler High School, but the Public Service Leadership Academy.

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7:58am

Wed April 16, 2014
Education

Extra state aid helps Syracuse balance school budget

Katie Keier Flickr

The new budget for Syracuse public schools includes more state aid than the district asked for, but the school district still has to dip into the fund balance to level its finances.

The Syracuse City School District asked for $7 million from the state in order to balance its budget. Legislators came up with an extra $1.9 million, part of an overall state spending increase on education.

The extra cash will allow them to restore some previous cuts, Suzanne Slack, the district’s chief financial officer, said.

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6:58am

Mon April 14, 2014
Business

U.S. Export-Import Bank president promotes benefits of selling products overseas

From left: Export-Import Bank Chairman and President Fred Hochberg, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Congressman Dan Maffei (D-NY), and Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO.
Tom Magnarelli WRVO

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was the first member of Congress to offer the U.S. Export-Import Bank the opportunity to visit small businesses in her state. The result was a meeting last week at Filtertech in Manlius with the bank's president.

Filtertech designs and manufactures industrial size liquid filtration systems.  

In 2008, the U.S. Export-Import Bank financed the manufacturing of a project Filtertech produced with a company in Italy; a project that helped keep them in business at the time.

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10:15am

Thu April 10, 2014
Government

Common Council begins work on Syracuse budget

The Syracuse Common Council is getting its hands on the mayor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which doesn’t call for a tax increase.

More than half of the city’s $660 million budget goes to the school district.

For the rest of the budget, on the upside, the mayor’s office expects to see increased revenue from sales tax, parking fees and property tax collection -- thanks to the land bank, the agency tasked with handling the cities massive list of vacant properties.

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8:04am

Thu April 10, 2014
Education

Syracuse superintendent apologizes over Fowler High School plans

Syracuse school superintendent Sharon Contreras. (File photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Syracuse City School District superintendent Sharon Contreras apologized Wednesday night for the way news about plans to phase out three of the city's schools was made public.

A letter from the state Department of Education leaked to the press Monday outlined possible plans for three underperforming schools in the city: Fowler High School, Hughes Elementary and Delaware Elementary.

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7:03am

Thu April 10, 2014
Regional Coverage

Activists discuss upstate New York drone use during visit to Utica

Military drones piloted from Syracuse attack targets in Afghanistan. Griffis Airport in Rome has been tapped to test the safety of commercial drones. With little fanfare, upstate New York has become central to adaptation of unmanned aerial vehicles. Wednesday night, the controversy over drones came to Utica.

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1:38pm

Tue April 8, 2014
Education

Syracuse school district gets extension on schools phase out

Syracuse school superintendent Sharon Contreras. (File photo)
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The state Department of Education has given the Syracuse City School District two extra weeks to come up with plans to phase out two underperforming schools in the city.

A letter dated Feb. 27 - and provided to WRVO Tuesday - from the state education department to Syracuse superintendent Sharon Contreras included an April 18 deadline for plans. A spokesperson for the education department gave WRVO a second letter dated March 4 that extends the deadline to April 30.

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6:37am

Tue April 8, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse considers adding more police, firefighters

Mayor Stephanie Miner flanked by the police and fire chiefs and some members of Common Council as she announces her proposal to include a new class of police and firefighters in the fiscal year 2014-15 budget Monday.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

If Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s proposed budget is approved as is by the Common Council, the city will soon beef up its police and fire departments.

Miner says even as the city budget continues to be tight, it’s time for the new officers, with more than 200 potential police and fire retirements looming this year.

"You always are trying to manage, and manage and looking at how many retirements you're going to have and how many you’ve already had, where your needs are and how you can balance those needs,” Miner said.

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8:20am

Mon April 7, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse Housing Authority marks 75 years

The Syracuse Housing Authority, the agency overseeing publicly-subsidized housing in the city, is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

As it marks the milestone, the authority has a waiting list 3,000 names long to get into one of its units. There are twice as many people waiting to get a Section 8 voucher that helps low income people pay rent. And the federal dollars coming to SHA is significantly less than it used to be.

Still, SHA executive director Bill Simmons says the authority is doing more and they’re moving in a "unique direction" toward a focus on home ownership.

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4:02pm

Sun March 30, 2014
Regional Coverage

Tim Kennedy on The Campbell Conversations

Syracuse Media Group President Tim Kennedy (left) speaks with Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher

Like other newspapers, The Syracuse Post Standard has struggled in recent years, and it has made significant changes in the way it delivers the news and how it tries to interact with the public.  In this edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with Tim Kennedy, the person now in charge of navigating its course.  Find out why he sees a bright future of opportunities for the Syracuse Media Group, despite the hits the company has taken.

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6:30am

Thu March 27, 2014
Regional Coverage

ACR Health hopes program will reduce heroin deaths

Prevention Director Erin Bortel holds a vial of Narcan, which could be used to save someone suffering from a drug overdose.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

Along with a spike in heroin and other opiate use in central and northern New York has come a jump in the number of  drug overdose deaths. One Syracuse health organization hopes to bring that number down by teaching people how to administer a drug that can stop the effects of an overdose.

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3:10pm

Thu March 20, 2014
Education

Syracuse leaders come together to advocate for pre-K funding

Supporters of pre-K, including Syracuse Common Councilor Nader Maroun, hold up banner at news conference Thursday.
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Syracuse-area advocates of universal pre-kindergarten want lawmakers to include it in the state budget expected to be approved in Albany in the next ten days. Supporters crystallized their argument for pre-K  at a news conference at Delaware School on Syracuse’s west side Thursday.

The call to  include universal pre-K in the state budget came from business leaders, like Centerstate CEO president Rob Simpson

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8:08am

Tue March 18, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse has a comprehensive plan for three decades of planning

The city of Syracuse now has a document to base its urban planning decisions on for the next three decades.

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8:51am

Mon March 17, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse: a little more Irish than the rest of New York

The "green on red" traffic light on Tipperary Hill in Syracuse has become a landmark of Syracuse's Irish culture.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

It’s said that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish. In Syracuse, that’s a little truer. A sixth of the population claims to be of Irish ancestry, more than any other city in New York state.

It was the potato famine in Ireland and the rise of the salt industry in central New York both happening in the mid-1800s that brought so many Irish people to the city, according to Dennis Connors, curator of the Onondaga Historical Association.

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6:49am

Mon March 17, 2014
Regional Coverage

Syracuse land bank to try deconstucting old homes instead of demolishing

This house at 257 South Collingwood Ave. in Syracuse was the first the city's new land bank sold. Older, damaged homes will be deconstructed or demolished.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

The Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank is going into the deconstruction business. Taking apart old homes piece by piece will be an option to just tearing them down.

In the last year, the land bank has acquired 165 properties that had been seized by the city for back taxes. Many are in such bad shape they have to be torn down. Instead of demolition though, Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright says there is some money available for deconstruction.

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8:30am

Thu March 13, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse lawmakers set to vote on comprehensive plan, after delays

After a year of delays and re-writes, Syracuse lawmakers are finally set to vote on a new comprehensive plan for the city.

City planners had been working on the vision for how the city should look in 2040 for two years. Then it went to the council, where lawmakers had a lot of questions and proposed changes, which caused them to continually delay voting on it.

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3:39pm

Wed March 12, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Syracuse Land Bank reports on progess in first year

The Syracuse Land Bank demolished it's first vacant home Monday.
Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

After a year on the job, the Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank has issued its first progress report, which notes that several steps have been taken to start reclaiming Syracuse neighborhoods from dilapidated and decaying homes.

First the numbers. The Syracuse Land Bank has acquired 165 properties across Syracuse over the past year. Twelve have been sold or have sales pending; 21 are currently for sale; 26 are slated for demolition;  and 57 are vacant lots.

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4:44pm

Mon March 10, 2014
The Upstate Economy

Syracuse Land Bank demolishes first house

Greater Syracuse Area Land Bank/City of Syracuse

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank has torn down its first house. Crews demolished a vacant home just off South Salina Street on Syracuse’s Southside Monday, after the land bank determined it was deteriorated beyond repair.

It’s the first of 25 properties slated for demolition this year, by the organization that buys dilapidated properties and either rehabs them or tears them down.  The idea is to deal with properties that are a drag on neighborhoods and magnets for crime.

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7:46am

Thu March 6, 2014
Transportation

NY DOT looking at five options to speed up rail travel

An Amtrak train pulls into the Syracuse regional transportation hub.
hectate1 via Flickr

New York state transportation planners have opened the discussion about the best way to speed up train travel through upstate New York.

Passenger trains running between Buffalo and New York City right now run at about 50 miles per hour and are often slowed more by competing freight train traffic.

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4:58pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Government

Syracuse airport is out of city control and flying solo

mrsmecomber via Flickr

Syracuse's Hancock International Airport, the region's major passenger airport, is now under the control of a private authority after an official handover from the city of Syracuse.

The hope is the airport will be more cost-efficient and creative.

Hancock airport was the last in the state to transfer to private control. It was a long process, said Mayor Stephanie Miner.

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4:12pm

Mon March 3, 2014
Government

Syracuse's water main breaks get attention from Albany

Crews work to repair a water main break on East Fayette Street in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz is touring the state, talking with cities about aging infrastructures, hoping the state can come up with some help for communities plagued by collapsing streets and broken water mains.

It’s been a really horrible year when it comes to water main breaks in the City of Syracuse, said water department superintendent Paul Trovato.

"Between the cold and being old that’s what the problem is,” he said.

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7:56am

Fri February 28, 2014
Politics and Government

Eight potential Maffei challengers attend GOP forum to make their case

Eight Republicans are vying for the chance to run against Democratic incumbent Dan Maffei in this November's election.
Ellen Abbott WRVO

The race for Congress in the Syracuse area's 24th District is heating up. Republicans in the district that includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties, and part of Oswego County, will decide who gets the party nod at a convention this weekend in Syracuse. The eight Republicans who want the chance to run against incumbent Dan Maffei got to make their case in front of a roomful of conservatives Thursday night.

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7:39am

Thu February 27, 2014
Politics and Government

Fine dead, Syracuse looks for another sidewalk shoveling answer

People shovel snow along East Fayette St. following a February snowstorm. (file photo)
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Since Syracuse lawmakers handily defeated the idea of fining property owners who don’t clear snow from their sidewalks, they’ve begun discussing a bigger picture solution for snow-filled walkways.

Some Syracuse city councilors sat down Wednesday with public works, school district and parks department officials. They also talked to heads of community groups that organize sidewalk shoveling teams in the winter.

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7:07am

Wed February 26, 2014
Regional Coverage

Miner's stadium task force sits down, without key voices

An artist rendering of where a new stadium on Syracuse's Near Eastside would go.

Syracuse’s recently created stadium task force sat down together for the first time Tuesday. Its job is to take a deeper look at the idea of a new athletic venue in the city that the mayor put the brakes on a few months ago.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner had too many unanswered questions to get behind a new stadium for Syracuse University next to the Kennedy Square redevelopment project on the city’s Near Eastside.

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10:40am

Tue February 25, 2014
Infrastructure

Syracuse patching twice as many water main breaks as normal

Crews work to repair a water main break on East Fayette Street in Syracuse.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Water department crews have spent a lot more time this winter digging into frozen ground, shoveling asphalt and sifting through mud to find holes in Syracuse’s plumbing as an unusually high number of water main breaks is putting a strain on city resources.

Since the beginning of the year, the city’s century-old water system has sprung more than a hundred leaks. That’s more than two a day that city works crews have had to patch and twice the number the city normally deals with.

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4:04pm

Fri February 21, 2014
Sports

Special Olympics get underway in Syracuse this weekend

Almost 700 athletes will file into the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse this evening to kick-off this year’s New York Special Olympic Games.

The OnCenter will also host floor hockey competition. Alpine skiing will be at Greek Peak. And there are snowshoeing and cross-country ski races too.

Stacey Eder, the volunteer coordinator for the Special Olympics, says having their annual event coincide with the Winter Olympics in Russia will add to the excitement.

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2:39pm

Thu February 20, 2014
Health

Cathedral Square residents want neighborhood to be smoke free

Sudipto Sarkar Flickr

The Syracuse Common Council’s new health committee used its first meeting to discuss a smoking ban in the city’s Cathedral Square neighborhood.

The Cathedral Square Neighborhood Association has been looking to push out smoking for about three years. Now it sees a possible way to do that with the council’s newly formed health committee. The neighborhood includes the blocks surrounding Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse.

There are a lot of questions left to be answered, like legality of such a ban and enforcement of it, said councilor Khalid Bey.

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6:58am

Thu February 20, 2014
Politics and Government

Syracuse sidewalk shoveling fine may not be dead

A fine for not shoveling sidewalks after big snowstorms for Syracuse residents may not be dead, despite being handily defeated in the Common Council a few weeks ago.

When councilor Bob Dougherty proposed fining residents $100 for not clearing walkways after snowfall, he found little support. Only fellow councilor Khalid Bey voted for the law with Dougherty.

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7:20am

Wed February 19, 2014
Regional Coverage

Water mains and transportation focus of infrastructure forum

Greg Lancette of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 267 union speaks with Rep. Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) at an infrastructure forum Tuesday.
Ryan Delaney WRVO

Central New York's underground infrastructure - namely, water mains - was a big focus of a discussion about the region's infrastructure hosted by Rep. Dan Maffei Tuesday.

Maffei, a Democrat from Syracuse, gathered elected officials, engineers and administrators at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse to discuss infrastructure. One main message was that upgrades and maintenance of the region's plumbing and water pipes has been an often ignored or delayed investment.

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2:25pm

Tue February 18, 2014
Education

Syracuse school district requests more state aid

Jon Lim Flickr

As the Syracuse City School District goes into its budget process, it’s looking at a $24 million spending gap, a revenue problem stemming from years of stagnant state aid in the face of rising educational costs.

The District’s Chief Financial Officer, Suzanne Slack, decided to name this year’s budget report after a weather event. She saw a news story about frigid temperatures this winter caused by the Polar Vortex.

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