WAER 88.3 News | NPR from Central New York

Local news feed from the WAER 88.3 in Syracuse, NY. National Public Radio for the greater Central New York region. The latest local and community news from Syracuse Public Radio.

WAER Syracuse Public Radio NPR

Former Camillus Cutlery HQ Transformed into Mixed-Use "Camillus Mills" After Years of Uncertainty
December 14, 2017, 11:17 pm | Source
More than a decade after it closed, the former Camillus Cutlery headquarters in the Village of Camillus has been renovated into mixed-used commercial, retail, and residential space. For years, revitalization of the 115-year-old building seemed almost impossible. Original redevelopment plans fell through, and a fire burned down the former factory next door in 2013. Now, developer Doug Sutherland and Mayor Patricia Butler-Rhoades reflect on the $9.7 million transformation into Camillus Mills. The project preserves the National Historic Landmark status of the 42,000 square foot space with 29 apartments and 8,500 square feet of commercial retail space. At its peak, Camillus Cutlery employed more than 300 people who manufactured nearly two million knives. They supplied pocket knives to the U.S. Armed Forces, Boy Scouts of America, and sportsmen for civilian use.

International Human Rights Day Honored in Syracuse, noting LGBT, Disabled and Immigrant Rights
December 13, 2017, 10:10 pm | Source
The Onondaga County/ Syracuse Human Rights Commission honored International Human Rights Day with speakers at All Saints Roman Catholic Church that reminded people of violence and discrimination faced by LGBTQ community members, those with disabilities, and people who've immigrated or resettled here from other countries. Commission Executive Director Barrie Gewanter noted human rights day came out of the International Declaration of human rights adopted in 1948. "Some of the rights articulated in this document are still at issue here at home. When we think of rights of immigrants, the rights of people with disabilities, the rights of the poor, of African Americans in our communities, of people who are transgender, and people who are religious minorities, some of these issues are still at issue every day here at home." Gewanter added the Declaration covers rights t: vote in free elections; the right to nationality and to not have it taken; right to property and not have it taken from

Four Syracuse Churches Form Sanctuary Coalition to Stand With Undocumented Immigrants
December 11, 2017, 9:26 pm | Source
Four Syracuse-area churches are joining together to open their doors to undocumented immigrants and refugees who fear federal immigration actions. Father Fred Daley of All Saints Roman Catholic Church says policy changes have not been made to help immigrants, regardless of their status. He also blames Washington with spreading false fears and stereotypes. “The president and his administration continually connect immigration and crime. Yet the American Immigration Council innumerable studies have confirmed that immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, are less likely to commit serious crime or be behind bars than the native born.” Plymouth Church in Syracuse has a long history of offering sanctuary. Church Moderator Abby Hind says the congregation will take on even legal challenges. “ As part of the new sanctuary coalition, we join those who will open up our congregation and communities as sanctuary spaces for those targeted by hate, and work alongside our friends, families, and

Dozens of CNY Muslims, Others Gather to Denounce Decision to Recognize Jersualem as Israel's Capital
December 8, 2017, 10:22 pm | Source
Dozens of Syracuse-area Muslims were joined by a handful of Jewish and Christian friends in front of the federal building today to decry President Trump’s unilateral decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President of the Islamic Society of Central New York Mohamed Khater says the Holy City is sacred to all three monotheistic religions, and Trump’s move does nothing to help the peace process. "He's aggravating all the Muslims and the Christians in the Arab world and the area, saying, 'why is the president doing this?'" A speaker addressed the crowd: "Officially changing Jerusalem's status is reckless and dangerous, and would shift the decades-old U.S. position that Jerusalem is a disputed ground, and its status should be resolved through negotiations." Khater says the President's move is an injustice: "No Muslim, No Arab is saying we don't want the Jews there. The best [scenario] is to have a broker to get people together, have them talk to each other, to

Onondaga County Lawmakers Bump Up Legal Age to Buy Tobacco Products to 21
December 6, 2017, 3:54 am | Source
Starting January first, Onondaga County residents who want to buy tobacco products must be 21 years old. Lawmakers by a vote of 11 to 5 Tuesday amended a local law that raises the age from 19, which was set in 2009. Executive Director of the Regional Chapter of the American Heart Association Franklin Fry says the measure had the support of residents, school districts, hospitals, and dozens of companies. "We've seen it work elsewhere. We know from our science that if someone can get to 21 without smoking, there's only a two percent chance they ever will." Others shared personal stories of how tobacco use has impacted their lives. Legislator Danny Liedka recalled 29 years ago to the day, he had gone to bed after watching football with his mother. "I got that call for help from her in the other room. She couldn't breathe. This was commonplace. We called the ambulance about once every six months. This was the last time we had to call the ambulance. My mother died in my arms from smoking,"

Plowshares Craftsfair to Offer Goods, Food, and Entertainment to More than 3,000 This Weekend
December 1, 2017, 10:13 pm | Source
A unique multi-cultural crafts show arrives just in time for the first weekend of December with food and entertainment. Regardless if you’re planning on doing some holiday shopping or not, the 47 th Annual Plowshares Crafts-fair and Peace Festival could be a summer flashback. “Plowshares is the indoor Westcott Street Fair.” That’s Lanny Freshmen, an organizer of the event committee. He says the festival draws more than 3,000 people in two days. “It also is stuff that is made by hand - made by a person - and you see the person. There’s just such a difference in that from buying a piece of something that was made by, unfortunately, sometimes children in Bangladesh or people who are being exploited in rural China.” Freshmen says there will be 110 crafters selling goods such as pottery, crocheted clothing, and wood-working, and 15 community groups at the fair. Diane Chepko Sade from Mexico creates realistic-looking dragonflies in fused glass. She also incorporates pictures of hand-drawn

Syracuse Police Officers Raise Nearly $11,000 for Cancer Charities
November 30, 2017, 9:54 pm | Source
Members of the Syracuse Police Department responded to a different kind of call over the past two months. They were up to the challenge…in exchange for wearing pink badges, growing beards, and painting their fingernails. Sergeant Colin Hillman says there was a certain feeling of freedom when male officers didn’t have to shave and female officers could paint their nails blue. Normally, both are prohibited. " Telling the patrol cops they get to grow a beard for a month was great. As far as bolstering morale, it was very popular." Sergeant James Milana, along with Sergeant Hillman, spearheaded a unique fundraising effort. "It was a worthy cause we wanted to take up. It was also fun. It was fun to have something we could all get behind in the department. It was fun to do something a little different. It's also fun to help people, something we do every day," Milana said. "We raised $10,800 to go to local charities. That money was raised from officers donating a minimum of $40 of their own

City Planning Commission Rejects Request to Demolish Eastwood Building
November 28, 2017, 8:35 pm | Source
Community reservations and questions about city permits appears to have temporarily stopped the demolition of a building on James Street in Eastwood. A businessman envisions a future of the building located next door to him. Stephen Skinner owns the Palace Theater and several properties with street-level businesses. He believes community turn-out at a Syracuse Planning Commission meeting on Monday night resulted in its decision to reject a permit to knock down a vacant building next to the Palace. "And to see one person after another just say 'you know what more information is needed let's first work on having something stand instead of tearing something down,' it is everything you want in a village and so it was a very proud day for the people in Eastwood." Skinner likes to find new life for properties. At age 19, when his father thought it was time to close a bookstore in the late 90’s with mounting debt, he stepped-up. "I really believed that the stores were saving, even though

Thanksgiving Marks 35 Years of Supporting Families at the Ronald McDonald House
November 23, 2017, 9:26 pm | Source
It was 35 years ago on Thanksgiving when the Ronald McDonald House of Central New York first opened its doors on East Genesee Street in Syracuse. The charity had humble beginnings giving local families an affordable place to stay while their children received medical care just a few blocks away. Executive Director Beth Trunfio says the seed was planted by a group of local parents with children receiving cancer care in the late 1970’s. " They witnessed families coming from throughout the Central New York area traveling here to receive oncology treatments for their children. They were in waiting rooms, sleeping in their cars and on benches...literally." She says it was around that time that Ronald McDonald Houses were being established, and Syracuse became one of the first 40. They spent 30 years in their first location, a pair of renovated houses with 16 rooms. But Trunfio says as pediatric and neo-natal care advanced and grew at Upstate and Crouse Hospitals, they knew they had to do

Victims of Hatred after 9/11 Apply Lessons of Forgiveness to Today's Tragedies
November 16, 2017, 11:29 pm | Source
Sixteen years ago Saturday, three teenagers set fire to a 100-year-old farmhouse at Gobind Sadan USA in Palermo, destroying the Sikh place of worship. The community is invited to a memorial vigil Saturday to celebrate overcome the hatred that has fueled recent tragedies. Gobind Sadan USA founding president Ralph Singh remembers getting the phone call, and arriving on the scene… “You could feel the negativity and the heaviness in the air. So, right away one in our group said we should offer a prayer of forgiveness that the hatred and ignorance that leads to these senseless acts be taken away and replaced by a sense of community and love and respect for each other. Immediately, the atmosphere cleared, it was as if the weight was lifted, and the light shone through.” The arson was a mistaken retaliation for the 9-11 terrorist attacks. “ These kids saw our turbans and beards, and every minute the media was playing a picture of Bin Laden with a turban and beard. They thought we as Sikhs

East Syracuse "Guest House" Aims to Fill Gaps in Services from Education to Job Training
November 8, 2017, 11:28 pm | Source
PEACE Inc. has a new community center in East Syracuse to offer assistance to families and individuals with the services they may need. The Guest-House is not a home you stay in, but its appearance makes it feel like one. " This location just has a warm glow to it that draws people in. The Guest House is used for parties, office space, say if you needed a one day office in the community.” That’s Coordinator Denise Vanderpool. She explains the reasons for stepping in the door might vary for each individual. The Guest-House can act as a gathering place for meetings and celebrations or place to seek support or services. " You shouldn't have to feel bad if you need a little hand-up or some type of help, because at one point in our lives, we may all need additional services to help us bridge the gap.” Vanderpool knows there’s a great need in the East Syracuse Community. PEACE Inc. focuses on teaching individuals to become self-sustaining for themselves and their families. She wants people

Contamination Concerns Postpone Vote on Loop the Lake Trail Extension
November 7, 2017, 6:11 pm | Source
Onondaga County Lawmakers Monday temporarily put off a vote on extending the loop the lake trail over what’s called Murphy’s Island. The isolated and heavily contaminated 1.6 acre site sits behind the railroad tracks that run past Destiny USA. Activist Lindsey Speer was among those who praised the delay, and urged lawmakers to take their time. "I really caution us as a community against rushing to build trails across land that's not remediated. For a short term goal of providing public access and the long term affects of that and we don't know the long term affects of the remediation yet." Alma Lowery is an Environmental attorney who works with the Onondaga Nation. She urged lawmakers to use the next four weeks to look more deeply into the risks posed by the dozens of chemicals and metals found in the soil. "It's almost impossible to avoid coming into contamination if you're recreating on Murphy's Island in its current unremediated state. We know that the DEC has found that that poses

Do You Own a Piece of the Syracuse Chiefs? More Than 5,600 Shares sit Unclaimed Before Sale to Mets
November 2, 2017, 11:17 pm | Source
The pending sale of the Syracuse Chiefs Triple-A baseball team to the New York Mets in some ways is becoming more of a business transaction for many Central New Yorkers than a sports story. Thousands of people and businesses bought stock for $10 a share more than 50 years ago to support the fledgling ball club. But there’s one problem. Director of the Office of Unclaimed funds in the State Comptroller’s Office Lawrence Schantz says the team doesn’t know where 5,600 shares are. " We're talking approximately 2,400 potential accounts...individuals, stores, unions, all different sorts of operations in the Syracuse area that bought shares back in the '60's. At some point, the ball club lost contact and was unable to locate these shareholders." So, back in 2015, the team turned over the shares to the state. He says it’s not an unusual move for dormant stocks and securities. But the Chiefs are making an offer. "This is a unique situation where the Chiefs had these shares that were abandoned.

Study Finds New York's Commitment to State Park Spending is Proving to be a Good Investment
October 31, 2017, 8:16 pm | Source
A newly released economic impact study might have Central New Yorkers thinking about state parks in a whole new way. The study was conducted by a University of Massachusetts affiliated research institute, and examined the economic impact of the park system by looking at how visitors spend money in the surrounding economy. Robin Dropkin is the Executive Director of Parks and Trails: New York. She says state spending on the parks system is a better investment than most people might guess. "The state actually spends money but they get more than what they put in. So the study actually shows that for everyone $1 the state puts into the park system every $1 that they invest they get back $9, that's a pretty good investment by, I think, anybody's standard." The study took place between April of 2015 and March of 2016. During this time, 67 million visits to New York State parks generated about $4 billion in spending by both local and non-local visitors. This covers spending directly associated

KeyBank Donation Boosts Rescue Mission Food Service Center Expansion
October 25, 2017, 10:16 pm | Source
A major renovation and expansion of the Rescue Mission’s food services center got a big boost Wednesday from Key Bank. They’re donating $200,000 toward the $6.5 million project that will double the size of the facility. Chair of the Rescue Mission Capital Campaign David Allyn says the donation will help provide much needed updates. "It doesn't have burners in the back, so what they've been working with for decades is incredible. It is very much needed, and we're excited about the opportunity to serve all these meals in a dignified way." Rescue Mission COO Corey Kociela describes how the new dining area will be more accommodating for guests. " You can see about 200, 250 people come through the food service line for one meal. We would love the opportunity to bring 200 people in here at one time so no one's waiting outside." The current facility serves up to 800 meals a day in a dining room designed to seat a maximum of 100 people. David Allyn says they’ll be able to serve meals more

Experts: Studies Show Refugees are Key to Stabilizing Declining Rust Belt Cities Like Syracuse
October 24, 2017, 10:01 pm | Source
The economic stability of Syracuse and other Rust Belt cities might very well hinge on refugees. More than 400 people have spent the past two days at the Marriott Syracuse Downtown to attend the Welcoming Economies Convening, a coalition of public and business leaders dedicated to resettling refugees. Co-Chair Steve Tobocman says that while refugee policy must have its roots in humanitarianism, we also shouldn’t ignore the refugee population’s economic contributions and potential. "Particularly in rust belt cities like Syracuse, with declining populations, slower than average growth rates. Putting new people into the community actually grows the economic pie. We're finding they're a benefit to the economy, that they're job creators." Rachel Peric is Deputy Director of Welcoming America. "Change is hard when people come into the community. At the same time, clearly, not only is there this positive economic impact, but there are some things we can do to accelerate that. How do we make it

Activists Call on Rep. Katko to Support "Clean Dream Act"
October 19, 2017, 10:04 pm | Source
Chants for freedom reverberated through the streets of downtown Syracuse Thursday as dozens of activists gathered to urge Congressmember John Katko to co-sponsor what they call a "Clean Dream Act." It’s part of a coordinated nationwide Dream Act Week of Action while Congress is in recess. Gustavo Andrade is director of leadership development with United We Dream. " By clean we mean a bill that doesn't include harmful and overzealous enforcement such as added border patrol agents or the ridiculous border wall. How is this America in 2017? We're here because we can do better, and we're here to say 'not on my watch'." Andrade says they also brought 500 petition signatures to deliver to Katko’s office. He says there are an estimated 47,000 DACA recipients in New York alone who contribute about $140 million in state and local taxes. Andrade says they're optimistic Katko will support the Clean Dream Act. "It would legalize the status of over a million young dreamers who've come to this

SU and CNY Go Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October 18, 2017, 9:28 pm | Source
Orange and blue are the colors you normally see on the Syracuse University campus. But Thursday and for the rest of the month, purple will also be seen both on campus and around Central New York to raise awareness about domestic violence. While the effort ramps up in October, director of the office of health promotion at SU Katelyn Cowen says information and support resources are available year-round. "We have a counseling center available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for students to call who are in need of any sexual or relationship violence support services. And we have a number of other resources on campus, and we really make sure to keep in touch with those offices to get a good sense of the number of students seeking support. Unfortunately, there are students who are impacted, but we always want students to be seeking services and resources as they need them." Cowen says her office has partnered with a number of peer volunteers, who work together to create an open space where

Refugees Pleased That Long-Awaited Soccer Fields are Coming to Schiller Park
October 17, 2017, 8:26 pm | Source
Residents of Syracuse’s Northside are about to get a soccer field, but they’ll have to wait until next spring. The new fields were unveiled at Schiller Park Tuesday. The space is large enough to hold two youth-sized or one regulation soccer field. The sport has been gaining steam throughout the city, thanks to its popularity among the refugee community. Mayor Stephanie Miner says she realized how important the game is to that community and that it was about time they had a field to play on. “A couple of years ago on International Refugee Day, they had a soccer tournament here. And you could see, when they hit the ball, it would hit divots in the ground and bounce up in unpredictable ways. But nevertheless, they were still active in playing that.” Despite those divots, Miner says the game still had a firm hold over the Northside community. “I can’t tell you how many times I came over to this park and saw little kids playing on the playground over here, and the bigger kids and adults

Local Job Fair Connects Job Seekers with Retail Employers for Upcoming Holiday Season
October 13, 2017, 7:48 pm | Source
Local residents dressed to impress today as they either applied for jobs with on-the-spot interviews or inquired about opportunities at the Southwest Community Center in Syracuse. Build To Work Program Coordinator Twiggy Billue says the majority of companies are looking to hire for retail and customer service jobs. “So those jobs that are traditionally starting to fill up between August and September, getting ready for the seasonal shopping and some of the holidays that are coming up. We decided to focus on those areas that were actually looking to hire people right now.” Billue adds that the retail industry fuels the economy. Getting the right skills and job experiences through the program has allowed 18 year-old Shamsi Muhina to work her way up to a mid-level paying job within two years. She came to the U.S. from Kenya. “I just wanted to be in my own little corner and just to be left alone, but being in that program made me turn into the person that I am today. I’m outgoing now,

WAER News Source: