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New York State Fair Opens Next Week in Newly Renovated Fairgrounds
August 18, 2017, 5:08 pm | Source
The New York State Fair is fast approaching and fairgoers have a lot to look forward to. With only six days left until the fair begins, many are unsure of what to expect now that the first phase of renovations has wrapped up. Acting State Fair Director Troy Waffner was the guest speaker at today’s FOCUS Greater Syracuse forum. He discussed attractions and features that attendees will notice during the fair’s 13-day run. "The fixes from last year, whether it's paving the gravel areas, to programming the western end of the grounds with entertainment and more vendors, to La Feria, which is the Latino weekend, to the new sky ride, to just a variety of new exhibits." Fairgoers may recall that last year there were parking issues as lots reached capacity and authorities were forced to circulate traffic around the fairgrounds. Waffner assured the forum there’s an extra four to five hundred new parking spaces this year and new lots were also identified with the assistance of the County

State Fair, Start of School Serve as Reminders for Road Safety
August 17, 2017, 4:10 pm | Source
Distracted driving. School bus safety. Pedestrian awareness. All were part of The Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board’s annual “Share the Road Expo” Wednesday at Destiny USA. Police and experts from many agencies provided safety information, impaired driving simulators, and even a mini bike rodeo. Sergeant John Seeber at the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department says it’s about staying safe and educating people of all ages about traffic safety. " We do educate our teens on how important it is to get to your destination safely, and how important it is to operate a vehicle in safe manner, and to be aware of other drivers and pedestrians." Seeber says these events are important because they teach kids how dangerous the roadway is and to never run into the street. " In the last couple weeks, we've had serious and fatal pedestrian accidents. A couple of them were pedestrian error where children darted into the road. We really try to educate young kinds on stopping, looking, and

New Penalties in NY for False Bomb Threats to Community Centers; Proposal to Beef Up Hate Crime Law
August 15, 2017, 3:47 pm | Source
Governor Cuomo signed into law a measure that would create new penalties for people who make bomb threats against community centers. The action stems from bomb threats made to Jewish Community Centers in New York and around the nation last winter. Cuomo, in a statement, says anyone who falsely makes bomb threats to a community center can now be charged with a class A misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail. For Assembly Sponsor Amy Paulin, of Westchester, the bomb threats last winter became personal. Her local JCC, one mile from her home, where she swims and sends her children to classes, was among those targeted. She says at the time that bomb threat was called in, there were toddlers, nursey school children and seniors in the building , who had to be evacuated. “ These are busy intersections and they had to march all these children to safety,” Paulin said. “ And that’s scary, too.” Senator Patrick Gallivan the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, is a former Erie County

Young Firefighters Test Their Mettle at Youth Day Competition
August 11, 2017, 9:27 pm | Source
Young volunteer firefighters from Buffalo to Long Island gathered in Syracuse Friday morning for a series of competitions and training courses. The ninth annual Youth Day is part the 145th annual convention of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York . President Ken Pienkowski says the events were all about getting young people truly interested in firefighting more than actual training. "It's always difficult to get younger people involved, but it's more difficult to keep them amused. There's a lot of other things they get involved in today with electronics and all of that. But keeping the attention of the young kids and the involvement." Youth Day took place at the Syracuse Fire Department Training Center and the courses covered a wide spectrum of firefighting duties. The hose relay competition had two groups striving to see who could hook up their hose to water first, while the another operation had pairs working together to safely get an injured firefighter off a roof.

Kids at Syracuse City Parks this Summer Building Confidence, Academic & Other Skills in YMCA Program
August 8, 2017, 10:27 pm | Source
Dozens of kids playing in Syracuse parks this summer are learning more than just fun and games. The YMCA Power Scholars program, an educational camp, is wrapping up its lessons with over 60 third- and fourth-graders. The children themselves find that the camp is about more than even just reading and math. “In the morning it’s just like regular school, but in the afternoon you get to do fun stuff, said Siany .” Maya says other parents should send kids to Power Scholars camp, “We’re learning about perseverance, like never giving up.” Isabelle added, “Even though you are away from your family for awhile, I think you’ll have fun meeting new friends.” The 5-week camp comes to a close this Friday. A typical day begins with a provided breakfast, followed by group reading, math games, science experiments, art projects, and team-building exercises. The YMCA of Greater Syracuse Director of Education Alicia Roberson says that in addition to better grades, kids leave the camp with greater trust in

Report: Community Grid Won't Work as "Stand Alone" Replacement for I-81
August 4, 2017, 9:42 pm | Source
A pair of Syracuse-area state lawmakers presented a report Friday that they say shows a community grid can’t be a stand-alone replacement for I-81 through the city. The report by a former Chief Engineer of New York State Department of Transportation found the need to maintain traffic flow in and out of Syracuse. State Senator John DeFrancisco and Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli say a hybrid solution might be best. " Nobody is saying that the grid is bad. We're OK with the grid. We want the grid," Magnarelli said . "But we'd like to have a tunnel or something that would get 81 through the city as well. Why is it that we can't have both? That's the question." Magnarelli says removing that direct route will cumulatively add hours of travel time for commuters. But the validity of the study was called into question by a number of concerned citizens. Evan Weissman is a staunch supporter of the community grid option who criticized the credentials of the engineer who conducted it. " It was

CNYers Can Register Their Comments Monday on National Grid's Major Rate Hike Proposal
July 31, 2017, 2:38 am | Source
Central New Yorkers have chance to weigh in Monday on a significant rate hike being proposed by National Grid. If the utility’s plan is approved as is, typical gas and electric customers could be on the hook for an extra $18 a month . National Grid says it wants to raise $330 million to modernize its electric distribution system, expand its gas infrastructure, and enhance low income assistance programs. The NY Public Service Commission has been holding a series of public hearings in National Grid’s service territory, and spokesperson Jim Denn says the comments weigh heavily into their consideration. " For the most part, many of the consumers are concerned about the size of the increase. But there are also some consumers who recognize that the utility needs to make investments to both modernize their system and make certain improvements to the electric transmission and and distribution systems." Denn says they’re trying to balance infrastructure investment and rate hikes. "There have

Hundreds Celebrate ADA Anniversary With a March Through Downtown Syracuse
July 26, 2017, 9:29 pm | Source
Hundreds of people with and without disabilities marched through downtown Syracuse Wednesday to celebrate the 27 th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Longtime advocate and Arise Foundation board member Agnes McCray says the ADA is an achievement in itself. “We were doing so many things before the ADA, and the ADA came in and made it easier and a little more accessible for all people.” Wednesday's march was the first for Rendell Thomas, a Direct Support Professional for Arise who says he believes in giving the best care for the men and women he works with. He says events like this are important for those with disabilities to grow and socialize with others. " I do have a family member with a disability. It helps individuals get out, maybe get a job. In a way, they feed off your attitude and your presence, they see you talk to other people in a respectful way. It definitely helps them a lot.” Agnes McCray agrees, and says whether someone is sitting or standing, everyone

Employers Likely to Find "Work Ready" Candidates at Near West Side Job Fair
July 24, 2017, 10:30 pm | Source
An upcoming job fair in Syracuse aims to address one of the biggest challenges facing employers…finding a qualified candidate for the job. A variety of companies will be on hand later this week in hopes of finding a match. Twiggy Billue is program coordinator for Build to Work at Jubilee Homes , which is hosting the fair. "We're going to put work-ready participants in front of you. Those are people who can pass an I-9 requirement. Those are people who showed up for a soft skills, life skills work readiness class 40 hours, every day on time 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those folks, once given the interview, will sell themselves." Billue says many candidates have trouble marketing the skills they may have acquired at other jobs. She presented this scenario: "'I used to work at Kohl's, then I went to work at a dentist's office, and now I work at a grocery store, and I'm not transitioning all those skills from each job into this larger job that might take me out of entry level.'" Billue says job

SU Newhouse Prof. Worries New Film on Anorexia Glorifies Eating Disorders
July 18, 2017, 10:37 pm | Source
A Syracuse University Professor active for years in the study and discussion of body image says a new film on anorexia will do little to help those battling eating disorders. Netflix recently released an original film titled “To the Bone”, a story about a girl dealing with anorexia. However, Professor of Magazine Journalism at the Newhouse School Harriet Brown says it’s almost impossible to make a film about eating disorders without glamorizing them. " You're showing, in this case, an actress who has a history of anorexia who we know had to re-lose weight for the film. That's wrong on every level. That in and of itself says well, if you want to star in a movie, you have to be frighteningly thin, you have to be dangerously thin." Brown’s daughter battled anorexia for eight years, and is the author of “Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia”. " Like many people, I thought that kids made a choice to develop an eating disorder. One think I learned there is no truth to that

Classic Cars and More Rev Up One of Biggest Events At State Fairgrounds
July 14, 2017, 7:50 pm | Source

Onondaga Central Library Showcases Extensive WWI and WWII Propaganda Poster Collection
July 12, 2017, 9:58 pm | Source
A library – full of books and knowledge – might not seem like the right place for propaganda. But the Onondaga Central Library has just opened an inaugural exhibit of WWI and WWII propaganda posters on its third floor. Librarian in the local history and genealogy department Barbara Scheibel says the more than 400 posters were in various sizes and conditions after sitting in storage for the better part of three decades. " We have posters from France, Czechoslovakia , from China. We have all sorts of different countries represented. It's truly a wonderful collection." She says they’ve spent the past three years cleaning, repairing, and encasing the posters in mylar to preserve them and make them available to the community. They’ve also been inventoried to make them easier to find. Research librarian Kara Greene says the posters pre-date radio, TV, and certainly social media. "There wasn't a single communication vehicle to get people to rally behind like you could today. People just lived

Priorities for "Elevating Erie" Include Shift Toward Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Access
July 11, 2017, 10:02 pm | Source
The results are in from last summer’s public survey about transforming Erie Boulevard from Syracuse through DeWitt into a more appealing multi-use corridor. Town of DeWitt Director of Planning Sam Gordon says one priority rose to the top. "Participants clearly indicated a preference for improving pedestrian and bicycle amenities along the boulevard, as well as increasing connectivity and safety along the corridor through protected bike lanes, reducing the amount of pavement allocated to vehicle traffic, as well as creating refuge areas for pedestrians." Gordon says a median greenway option might fit the bill. " A trail in the center median with landscaping, maybe benches, lighting, and signage that directs people to the different things to do along the corridor." He says the asphalt median in DeWitt would be removed and replaced with a more natural surface. Respondents also said economic development is a top priority, and would like to see new mixed use housing, retail, and office

Preliminary Design Work Underway on Euclid Ave. Bike Lane Project as Final Details are Discussed
July 10, 2017, 10:09 pm | Source
The City of Syracuse is moving along with a plan to make a half-mile section of Euclid Avenue near Syracuse University more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. If you've ever seen Euclid Ave during the school year, let alone the summer, you'll notice it's used by vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and even skateboarders. It's the main drag between the SU campus and the east side university neighborhood where many students live. Yet there are no defined bike lanes, and it can be challenging, even dangerous for bicyclists to navigate around cars. DPW Commissioner Pete O'Connor says the stretch between Comstock and Westcott St. is part of a larger bike and pedestrian network expansion "What we want to do is line up our bike lines exactly the same way as you come off Comstock and turn on to Euclid. So, if you're heading in one direction, you'll have another lane to go in; it doesn't all of a sudden disappear." O'Connor says the $935,000 project includes the replacement of curbs, adds

Start of Erie Canal Celebrated 200th Anniv on Independence Day
July 6, 2017, 6:29 pm | Source
A New York State landmark hit an important milestone this Independence Day. July 4 th was the Bi-Centennial of the beginning of the construction on the Erie Canal. Erie Canal Museum Executive Director Natalie Stetson is an obvious advocate for educating people on the Canal’s history and significance. “I think the best thing we can do to celebrate the bicentennial is to bet the best Erie Canal Museum we can be. So getting the word out and encouraging people to think and reflect and wonder and learn about this incredible body of water that changed the world is what we can do most.” Construction of the original Erie Canal took 8 years, ending in 1825, and has been expanded and altered several times to keep up with technology. While main channels are still used today for recreation and shipping.... Syracuse sealed its channels of the Canal in the 1920’s due to lack of use. “As you drive down Erie Boulevard, you’ll notice that some roads have different names on either side of the street,

Sen. Schumer Says Bi-partisan Bill Will Help Agents Intercept Fentanyl-Laced Heroin
June 30, 2017, 10:24 pm | Source
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made a stop in Cortland Friday to introduce legislation to help combat the fentanyl crisis. He says the bi-partisan INTERDICT Act is slated to be confirmed alongside the 2018 federal budget on October 1 st and aims to combat the drug using machines called mass spectrometers. "They can tell if this load of drugs has fentanyl as opposed to just heroin because fentanyl is so much more dangerous. They can also tell the different batches because no one is exactly alike. They can see this is part of that batch, and that's part of another batch and that's how they can trace it to which drug gangs, how they got them, and shut them down." The drug is manufactured in China, but mostly enters the United States by way of Mexico. Schumer says the INTERDICT Act would setup mass spectrometers along the border and improve detection of fentanyl and other drugs. The drug is typically consumed in trace amounts laced in with heroin, a substance that Senator Schumer

Syracuse Fire Dept. Earns Highest Rating Ever Amid Concerns about Morale
June 29, 2017, 3:39 am | Source
Budget pressures and the closure of a fire house didn’t seem to be a factor in the Syracuse Fire Department’s ability to protect its residents and property. The Insurance Service Organization, or ISO has just issued its new score. Mayor Stephanie Miner shared the accomplishment. " We received a new rating of 95.64, which is one of the highest in New York State, and the highest score the Syracuse Fire Department has ever received." That’s almost two points higher than the city’s last rating in 2012, and maintains the department’s ISO-class one rating. Miner says that translates to lower commercial insurance rates and top-notch protection. The rating also comes after the controversial closing of a crumbling fire station just east of downtown four years ago. " Actually the ISO talked about that, how what a testament it was to the ingenuity, skill, and leadership of the fire department that, despite after closing a fire house, we were able to not just maintain but improve our rating." But

Settlement Reforms Solitary Confinement of Juveniles at Onondaga County Jail
June 27, 2017, 9:10 pm | Source
The treatment of juveniles at the Onondaga County Justice Center is about to change after a settlement that ends the routine practice of placing 16 and 17 year-olds in solitary confinement for weeks and even months at a time. The agreement comes nine months after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the teens. The suit was brought by Legal services of Central New York and the New York Civil Liberties Union. LSCNY staff attorney Josh Cotter says they wanted to show that jail deputies shouldn’t be treating juveniles the same as adults… " They don't differentiate between adults with very different needs and 16 and 17-year-old kids. They didn't think they needed to. I think this lawsuit shines the light on the real harm." He says the teens were often sent to solitary confinement for minor offenses. They were housed next to adults, some with mental illness, who threatened them, threw urine and feces, and deprived them of sleep. Cotter says this can have a profound effect on teens whose brains

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

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