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Downtown Syracuse Poised for Continued Growth as Developers and Residents See Potential
June 23, 2017, 3:11 am | Source
The past year gave the Downtown Committee of Syracuse something to celebrate at its annual meeting yesterday. About 350 members of the group gathered at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown to review the district’s growth from a 9 to 5 office center into a community. Executive director Merike Treier told the crowd it’s been a busy year, with more to come. "Right now, $200 million of investment activity is underway. In just the last few months, 800 jobs have been added. In the last year, 24 new retail businesses have opened, and plans for 300 news apartments are in the pipeline, with construction on 157 happening right now." One of the most recent success stories is the $20 million transformation of the former vacant Blue Cross Blue Shield building on South Warren Street into Icon Tower. The project features 89 apartments, some office space, and a ground floor restaurant. Downtown committee chairman and president of Huber-Breuer construction Jim Breuer says his company was involved in

Syracuse Land Bank Marks 5th Anniv. With Bus Tour Showcasing Progress
June 20, 2017, 7:33 pm | Source
It’s been five years since the creation of the Greater Syracuse Land Bank, and Tuesday, officials hosted a bus tour showcasing examples of its efforts to revitalize blighted properties and neighborhoods. Executive director Katelyn Wright says they can’t do it alone; private investors are the key to their success. “We're highlighting some of the positive outcomes of what we're able to do, primarily as a conduit to get abandoned properties into the hands of responsible, local buyers. We're highlighting some of the nice renovations that have been done.” Out of roughly 1,300 properties, 450 have been sold, generating $80,000 for the city’s property tax rolls. Some 175 properties have been demolished, with another 300 waiting to go down. But Wright finds that even this can be positive for a neighborhood’s investment and morale. "When we take a house down, we see right away that neighbors on that street are inspired, they have more confidence in the market value of their own home. We'll see

Syracuse Parks Dept. at 100; "The Grand Canyon of Syracuse" Hides in Plain Sight in Elmwood Park
June 19, 2017, 11:03 pm | Source
The Syracuse Parks Department is marking a century of operation this year, and WAER News has spent the past few weeks profiling some of the city’s most unique green spaces. In this final installment, Scott Willis visits perhaps one of the largest hidden gems on the city’s southwestern edge…Elmwood Park. Former common councilor Bob Dougherty’s first memories of the 65-acre park go back to playing little league in the 1960’s… "I knew about it because of the baseball field, and then friends of mine actually worked here for parks and rec[reation] in the summer, because they had parks and rec programs here like they had in a lot of places." I joined Dougherty for a tour, and it’s clear the heart and beauty of Elmwood’s entire length is defined by Furnace Brook, which has carved the deep, tree-filled glen between two neighborhoods. "Right here, I would say that you have no idea that you're in the city of Syracuse. All you can hear is the water. This is why people have called this the grand

CNY Experts Warn that Elder Abuse Often Comes from Family Members
June 14, 2017, 10:21 pm | Source
World Elder Abuse Day is Thursday, and experts here in Central New York say there is plenty of unfortunate local activity as elders are scammed, conned and abused. NBT Bank Director of Information Security and Fraud Risk, Terra Granata says unsuspecting victims can be at risk of losing money from scammers who call them frequently. “Some of our elderly population lives alone, they love that someone is giving them a call, making them feel comfortable, asking them how they're doing. So they build that rapport with the fraudster, and continue to give them more and more of their finances.” Granata says when a person or caregiver realizes a scam has occurred, they should contact the financial institution and the authorities. She adds that preventing scams before they happen is the most important step and financial institutions stand ready to work with the elderly. “The elderly can be targeted by close friends or neighbors. All to often the elderly are not paying attention to what's going on,

Study Exposes Misalignment Between Job Seekers and Available Jobs in CNY
June 14, 2017, 3:34 pm | Source
A year-long study examining Central New York’s workforce finds there are plenty of jobs and plenty of people looking for work, but significant barriers to accessing those jobs. The report “How CNY Works” was presented Tuesday by the Onondaga Citizens League at its annual meeting. Study co-chair Craig French says they went into the study knowing the city has the highest rate of extreme poverty among African Americans and Hispanics in the nation. " Behind this study was that backdrop all the way through, understanding that we could not focus on the world of work without talking and thinking about the folks who are unable to access that to provide for themselves and their families." The study’s other co-chair Mel Menon says barriers to employment range from lack of transportation or child care to the larger misalignment between job seekers and opportunities. She suggests employers look more closely at their hiring practices. " They might find that some of the things they write into a job

Syracuse Officials Stand in Support of LGBTQ Community & PRIDE Week
June 13, 2017, 1:31 pm | Source
Pride Week in Syracuse got underway Monday with a proclamation at city hall and a memorial to victims of the massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub a year ago. Mayor Stephanie Miner and other local officials commemorated L-G-B-T-Q pride by raising the rainbow flag in front of city hall. Calling for more equal rights, Miner also remembered the 49 victims killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting. “We will have violence and we will have defeats as we march toward progress. But the only thing that makes it progress is that we march together and we are not defeated by that violence.” June is also the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, when patrons of a gay bar in New York City clashed with police as they raided the building. Central New York Pride President Bob Forbes finds that remembering the riots marks how far L-G-B-T rights have progressed since. “...and there’s so many of our youth that can come out who don’t know that history. So I think that’s why June is so important to celebrate

Syracuse Parks Centennial Series: Strathmore Neighborhood Grew Around Onondaga Park
June 12, 2017, 7:16 pm | Source
The Syracuse parks department is marking a century of operation, years after many parks were already established. One of them is Onondaga park in the Strathmore neighborhood. Kelly Wise says it was her family’s first weekend in the neighborhood nine years ago this month when her connection to Strathmore and Onondaga Park began. “I woke up to somebody ringing my bell, saying that there’s Art on the Porches today in front of your house, and we need to plug a stage into your house, and I thought, ‘What are you talking about?’ And we spent the entire day at a lovely art festival on Ruskin Avenue being welcomed by hundreds of neighbors. And I thought, ‘Well, I’ve landed someplace really quite special, haven’t I?’” Before she knew it, she joined the neighborhood association, and is now, as she says, in the 4 th year of a two year term as president. We start our stroll through Upper Onondaga at the restored firebarn, and we’re soon at Hiawatha Lake, which first served as a reservoir. “The

CNYers of Many Faiths to Stand with Muslims to Counter Anti-Muslim March
June 10, 2017, 2:35 am | Source
People of many faiths will stand in solidarity with Central New York’s Muslims Saturday as they continue to celebrate Ramadan. A walk to the mosque from Grace Episcopal Church and an open house is intended to counter an anti-Sharia law march in front of the federal building. President of the Islamic Society of Central New York Mohmed Khater says people are certainly free to gather and rally. But he also feels it’s their responsibility to help the larger community understand Islamic ideology. "We want to clarify Islam is not promoting violence; Islam is not promoting doing anything that would even remotely be in contrast to the laws of the country that Muslims live in. We are ordered by our religion to obey the laws of any state, any country that we live in." Khater says that might be the basis of what some are incorrectly interpreting as religious law superseding secular law. He says it’s incumbent upon Muslims and others to explain that Islam does not stand for actions done in the

Excessive Spring Rainfall Poses Serious Challenges for CNY Farmers
June 8, 2017, 10:49 pm | Source
If you think your lawn and flowers are waterlogged, think of what Central New York farmers are dealing with after record amounts of rain this spring. WAER News checked in with an expert to find out what the industry is up against. Margaret Smith is a professor in plant breeding and genetics at Cornell University. "Well, it's starting off to be a really challenging agricultural year." She says there’s a complicated choreography behind the planting season…. "Some people were just waiting and waiting to do corn. Then their soybeans got later and later. Then their hay was ready to chop, but they still hadn't planted corn and soybeans. So maybe they switched over and tried to chop some hay, but even haying is really hard to do unless you can get two or three days of good, dry weather.” That’s been hard to come by. Smith is a corn breeder, so she’s closely monitoring its progress… " As of last Sunday, half of New York's corn crop had been planted. Normally that would be up around 85 percent

"Summer of Siri": Rosamond Gifford Zoo Celebrates Elephant Herd Matriarch's 50th Birthday
June 6, 2017, 9:51 pm | Source
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is preparing to celebrate the birthday of one of its oldest…and largest residents. "This summer marks a milestone for one of the most beloved family members at the zoo. Siri, the matriarch of our elephant herd, will turn 50 years old this year.” Zoo Director Ted Fox says Siri was first brought to the zoo in 1972 when she was 5, and is still one of the zoo’s biggest attractions. He says the 9,000 pound pachyderm has thrilled generations of visitors. "It's so exciting to see days like today with all the little kids from the school groups coming to see...even grandparents knew Siri when they were younger, and remember coming with their children or their parents. It’s just a great circle.” Fox says Siri is one of few animals who has witnessed the zoo’s many changes. After years of difficulty, the county took control of the zoo in 1979 and set in motion its transformation into the 1980’s. When the zoo considered whether to begin sending other members of the herd to

Syracuse Parks Dept. at 100: Schiller Park Can Shape Stories for Future Generations
June 5, 2017, 8:31 pm | Source
The Syracuse Parks Department is marking 100 years of operation, and WAER News has embarked on a series profiling just some of the city’s abundant green spaces. This week, we head to the heart of the northside for a walk through Schiller Park. For Paul Grella, it only made sense to be a founding member of the friends of Schiller Park in 2010. "My house borders the park. One of the things we wanted to do is beautify the park, make it an inviting place so more neighborhood communities feel comfortable coming into the park. It's a destination spot, have more activities." In a seven short years, the group has planted flowers, expanded the Debbie Bova memorial garden, and worked with youth to install birdhouses. Faculty and students from Le Moyne College have organized clean up events. But Grella says there’s a more sentimental reason behind the group: Many members grew up near the 37 acre park. "They told these really rich, amazing stories about how this park shaped their lives. What they

State Police Centennial: First State Troopers Trained in Manlius in June 1917
June 5, 2017, 4:34 pm | Source
Many Central New Yorkers may not know that the first cohort of New York State Troopers trained in their own back yard 100 years ago this month. WAER News caught up with a pair of retired troopers to find out why 232 recruits trained at what is now the Cavalry Club in Manlius in 1917. Ted Palmer and Kenneth Kotwas say the push for a state-wide police force came from two prominent women from Westchester County, Moyka Newell and Katherine Mayo, following an acquaintance’s murder. "It goes back to 1913. There was a murder of a carpenter foreman. But the local law enforcement agency wasn't too prompt in responding or paying attention to it. So the two ladies started a campaign to start the state police." Kotwas says it was significant that the women were taken seriously. "These two women didn't even have a right to vote at the time." Remember that didn’t happen until 1920. Palmer says the bill to form the state police failed in 1916, but finally passed in 1917 by one vote. " I find it

New Report: Upstate Dairy Farmworkers Face Unbearable Hours, Unsafe Working and Living Conditions
June 2, 2017, 3:14 am | Source
A new report from the Workers' Center of Central New York shows that undocumented Mexican and Central American workers at dozens of upstate dairy farms face grueling work schedules and dangerous working conditions. The study's release coincides with the beginning of National Dairy Month, and is called "Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in New York State." Report co-author Gretchen Purser is an Assistant professor of sociology at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School. " One of the most striking findings is that 9 out of 10 workers surveyed believe that their employers care more about the cows than about the workers themselves." The report found most dairy farm workers work 12 hours per day, six days per week, without a right to a guaranteed day off. "Like all agricultural workers in New York State, dairy farm workers are excluded from a number of the basic labor rights and protections that many of us take for granted, including the right to organize and the right to overtime pay."

CNY Seniors Stay Enriched, Engaged, and Active at Upstate's Oasis Program
June 1, 2017, 2:54 am | Source
Dozens of seniors from their 60’s to their 90’s converged at Upstate’s Oasis center on Carrier Circle Wednesday to show off their singing skills or to try their hands at drumming. The activities were part of an open house to celebrate National Senior Health and Fitness Day as well as the 15 th anniversary of Oasis. Director Cynthia Woods says they’re trying to keep seniors engaged and healthy… "If people continue to stay active intellectually and physically, they'll age better. It will keep them out of nursing homes. It will keep them out of our hospitals. It will help them enjoy their life." Woods says the range of learning and volunteer opportunities is aimed at providing seniors more than just a place to socialize. “People might know about senior centers, and they might do their crocheting or their bridge playing. But they don't know about Oasis and they don't know about the abundance of really great programming that is offered at Oasis sites.” Seniors can take or teach classes in

Special Syracuse Parks Centennial Series: Thornden Park's Unique Features Draw Visitors, Events
May 30, 2017, 9:13 pm | Source
The Syracuse Parks Department is marking 100 years of operation, and WAER News has embarked on a series that will take you to just some of the city’s many green spaces. This week, WAER's Scott Willis takes a short walk from our studios to Thornden Park, where he met up with Miranda Hine. She's founding member and co-president of the Thornden Park Association. Hine says she instantly connected with the park when she moved to Syracuse in the early 1980’s and bought a house that backed up to Thornden. "I had a baby daughter, and I would come here and bring her. I just fell in love with the landscape. I thought it was the most beautiful place ever." She says the association was created out of a strong desire to care for the 76 acre space near Syracuse University. "The park wasn't very well taken care of at that time. It's in much better shape now than it was in 1983. So we got together and said what can we do about it kind of thing." Hine says one of their first priorities was restoring

Heroin Disguised as Candy Becomes Latest Attempt to Hook Kids
May 23, 2017, 10:01 pm | Source
Parents and children in Central New York are being urged to keep an eye out for heroin and fentanyl disguised as candy. It’s turned up in the southern tier, where police have issued a public health warning about the drugs that look like sweet tarts candy. The latest attempt to get kids addicted has the Prevention Network’s Beth Hurny almost speechless… "It's sick. I can't even...I'm so angered by the whole thing." She says it goes beyond just hiding the drug. “It's to access young people and get young users because if you get young people hooked early on, then they become customers for life.” Hurny says raising awareness and educating the community can hopefully keep kids safe. “ The old adage, don't take candy from a stranger, but even more than that, in terms of not accepting anything from anyone you don't know that's not in a package. We're actually working right now on prevention tips for parents.” She says marketing to kids in the form of candy or other products is not a new

Special Series: Syracuse Parks Celebrate 100 Years, But Many Pre-Date Creation of Department
May 22, 2017, 10:20 pm | Source
The Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation, and Youth Programs is marking 100 years of operation this year, and WAER News is embarking on a special series of stories over the next few weeks that will take you to just some of the city’s 170 green spaces. We'll start with a primer on how the department got its start, years after some parks were already established. It was the spring of 1917, Walter Robinson Stone was mayor, and the United States had just entered World War I. But in Albany, lawmakers passed legislation that allowed the city to establish a parks department separate from the DPW. Parks staffer Julian Chaplin fills in the rest… "...to maintain and preserve a group of playgrounds, and maintain all public monuments and fountains, and in general provide an opportunity to people to play outside. When you think of that, it doesn't seem that it was really that long ago, just how they thought beyond where they were, but about the future, and thought it not robbery to set aside a

Waterfront Businesses Face Significant Impact from Lake Ontario Flooding
May 17, 2017, 9:40 pm | Source
The rain may have stopped, but water levels continue to rise on Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the Salmon River. There’s growing concern about damage to waterfront businesses as the busy summer boating and recreation season gets underway. Long-time Oswego County residents like Dave White and Janet Clerkin say these water levels are unprecedented… " I've been with New York Sea Grant for over 30 years, so I've been through the past high-highs and the past low-lows as some refer to it, " White said. "Obviously what is occurring right now is well beyond what any of us have been through or could have imagined." Clerkin is Oswego County’s tourism and public information coordinator. She's lived in the area for three decades. "We haven't see anything like this with this amount of shoreline damage and high water levels." She says several marinas and boat launches have been impacted and are closed due to high water levels. "So that is definitely impacting the fishing charters in those

Federal Legislation Aims to Protect Dog Fighting Victims and Save Taxpayer Dollars
May 12, 2017, 8:34 pm | Source
Congressmember John Katko’s previous career as a federal prosecutor appears to have worked its way into a piece of bi-partisan legislation aimed at protecting dog fighting victims. The measure would also reduce the burden on shelters and taxpayers. Katko greeted a slightly scrawny, but energetic and friendly pit bull named Brutus at the DeWitt Animal Hospital is one of the dogs caught up in the system. He says he’s seen firsthand cases involving senseless cruelty to animals, and noticed the system creates lengthy forfeiture cases that leave dogs languishing for months in shelters. " The legislation I've introduced expedites the disposition of animals seized in animal fighting and gambling cases. It reduces the length of time animals are held in shelters, and importantly, it shifts the cost of care from taxpayers to the individuals responsible for harming the animals." The help extract animals from red tape, or heart act, has the support of law enforcement and several animal welfare

Vivid Memories from CNY Veterans: Reporters Recall Powerful Honor Flight Stories
May 5, 2017, 5:23 pm | Source
Central New York veterans who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam have some powerful stories from their time in the military. We’ve been hearing some of those stories this week after the recent Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to visit to the memorials in their honor. WAER's Scott Willis and Katie zilcosky tagged along. In this final report in our series, they share some of the more moving stories they heard from veterans. Here's who you'll meet: Corporal Joseph Rabozzi of Solvay trained in graves registration and served with 8204 Central Identification Unit in Japan during the Korean War. He worked with a team of pathology, dental, and anthropology experts to identify remains. Honor Flight Photographer and retired Pentagon Colonel Ed Magdziak tells us about being in the Pentagon during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. James Kerlin, Jr. of Nedrow and Airman First Class Gerry Laude say serving in the military is a family tradition that covers many wars. Those are just

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