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Civil Rights Group Calls for SPD Body Camera Policy to Include Community Input
May 22, 2018, 9:28 pm | Source
A Central New York civil rights watchdog group says the expansion of the police department’s body camera program is only as good as the policy that guides their use. One hundred officers could be wearing the cameras by early next month as part of a one-year trial. Yusuf Abdul-Qadir commends the Walsh administration’s effort to improve transparency and accountability in the police department. But the director of the CNY chapter of the NYCLU wants to make sure that the policy being drawn up between SPD and the county district attorney’s office is comprehensive and inclusive. “ There are particular measures we have to take to ensure that the impetus behind wanting body cameras Calls from community members, both locally and the national conversation that we’re having about police accountability, need to be thought through not just through the lens of the criminal justice system, but thought through from a whole host of perspectives like civil rights and civil liberties.” Abdul-Qadir says a

Syracuse Police Dept. Prepares to Outfit 100 Officers for Body Camera Pilot Program
May 21, 2018, 10:10 pm | Source
The Syracuse Police department will soon begin the process of outfitting one hundred officers with body cameras under a pilot program approved Monday by common councilors. It appears both the community and officers are asking for the devices. First Deputy Chief Joe Cecile says the field trial agreement with Axon corporation is free of charge, and builds upon a separate, earlier effort with a handful of officers. " We get to try out the cameras, we get to try out the storage for a full year. Also, to see what it takes for the police department to manage 100 cameras. Keep in mind our previous pilot program was 16 cameras, so this will be a huge undertaking." Cecile says it will also give them a gauge on storage fees for all that footage, especially if they want to outfit all 400 officers. He says the pilot program could also open the door for grants to pay the 164-thousand dollar annual cost if they choose to continue beyond the one-year trial. Cecile says the plan seems to have

Almost 2000 Check Out Downtown Syr as Place to Call Home
May 20, 2018, 5:52 pm | Source
The latest Downtown Living Tour showed people are still intrigued by apartment life in Syracuse. This weekend’s was the 12 th annual event put on by the Downtown Committee , and showcased 9 places that could be your next residence. WAER’s Chris Bolt went along for the tour. The idea of moving into the city of Syracuse continues to gain momentum, as evidenced by more than 1700 people who wanted a first-hand look at some of the apartments now, or soon to be, available downtown. Some of the featured properties have some history in our town. “The oak Knitting Mill was originally built in 1900. It was a kitting mill where they mad women’s underwear, believe it or not. At one time there was 150 employees in the building and as the business moved out of Syracuse, over the years it became a warehouse and other uses," said developer Joe Gehm. "My partner, Tim Lynn and I bought the building and completed a certified historic redevelopment project.” Gehm says there are 38 units in the Oak

CNY Diaper Bank Ramps Up Collection Efforts for Mother's Day
May 10, 2018, 9:40 pm | Source
Most Central New York moms will receive flowers, jewelry, or some other gift this weekend. But for moms living in poverty with infants, DIAPERS might be considered a welcome gift. The CNY Diaper Bank is aiming to collect 100,000 donated diapers during their third annual, month-long diaper drive through special events and collection efforts. Founder and president Michela Hugo says they’re at least a quarter of the way there…but probably more… " We have a number of other companies, churches, and schools participating this month. We don't know what their progress is yet." She says diaper need is an overlooked consequence of poverty that isn’t covered by any assistance program. Hugo says stretching diaper use can lead to rashes and infections for babies, and added distress and depression for parents. " Getting that 50 diaper supplement, whcih is what we give, that reduces their stress. That's so important. We also know that it also frees up money for them to spend on food, other bills,

Mayor Walsh Announces Year Round Citizen Engagement Effort to Clean Up Litter in Syracuse
May 4, 2018, 8:53 pm | Source
The snow is gone, hopefully for good, and that’s left behind the usual layer of litter in and around Syracuse. Mayor Ben Walsh announced an effort today that he hopes inspires residents to pick up trash not just now, but year round. It’s called Clean-up ‘Cuse: Adopt a Block, where individuals, school groups, businesses, organizations and others can conduct monthly litter clean-ups in a two block area. “Every child in the city that shows up at a playground shouldn’t have to play around trash and litter. Every resident that is looking at a neighborhood to invest in shouldn’t have to worry about trash along the streets. So we can’t do it alone. We need the community’s help.” Walsh says a map will be up soon on the city’s website showing the blocks that have been adopted. The city will provide bags and tongs, and coordinate with DPW to pick up the collected trash. Former common councilor Bob Dougherty has been named community chair of the program. He’s picked up litter in the Valley for

Organ Donors and Recipients Celebrate at The Donate Life Event
April 25, 2018, 10:24 pm | Source
Local organ donors and recipients are celebrating the lives -- and friendships -- they’ve created through the event of giving or receiving an organ donation. Kidney recipient Michael Demaintenon joined his donor Jessica Green at Upstate University hospital today. Demaintenon says he didn’t initially want to go public about his failing kidneys. Then the function of his kidneys declined this past January, and he created a Facebook page in search of help. “So I guess I went viral. Then a couple days after that page went up, Jessica contacted me and was like, hey, I think I want to come forward and donate. That brought a huge sense of hope and relief. “I would encourage anyone that’s even on the fence to just make that phone call, even if you don’t know someone. For me it got personal so quickly. The Demaintenon family is so dear to me. I’d give more than a kidney if I could,” said Green. “I would leave by challenging you with this thought: that there may be someone out there that needs an

SU Student Protests following Racist, Insensitive Actions of Members of Local Chapter of Theta Tau
April 20, 2018, 9:44 pm | Source
Syracuse University Students continue to protest for the third straight day and are calling for the expulsion of the local chapter of Theta Tau and involved students from campus. Protestors continue to press the university administration to take action, despite outlined plans to deal with the crisis. Some may find the language in the report offensive. Under the banner of the newly formed student movement, Recognize Us, hundreds of students gathered inside the Schine Student Center for about two and a half hours this morning and outside of the Carrier Dome thereafter. The speeches were filled with deep hurt and hostility for the racist remarks against many groups by members of Theta Tau captured on videos. One speaker admonished the group to consider that members of Theta Tau may not have necessarily meant to be hurtful when playing out mimes on videos that most find unacceptable. “Each semester, our new members are given the opportunity to write and act out a skit in order to roast the

More Students Come Forward about Unsafe Living Conditions at Rental Properties
April 11, 2018, 10:21 pm | Source
More student tenants have come forward with complaints about unsafe and unsanitary conditions at properties owned by a University-area landlord. The students are the latest to join a tenant association that formed in February demanding that Syracuse Quality Living promptly and properly address maintenance complaints. SU graduate student Emily Kraft says nothing appeared wrong until she moved in. "I would say our first issue was our cabinet falling off the wall. We had all of our dishes and plates in that cabinet and my roommate was right below it, I was also in the kitchen and everything just shattered all over the floor. And no apology from the company, didn't even replace any of the items." Benjamin Goode is an OCC student in the Biology Program. He and roommate Mawupe Avoseh found filthy conditions. "Urine stains around the toilet, old used rags in the sink in the bathroom, mice droppings underneath the sink, moldy food in the refrigerator. We complained about it and we left the

Some Syracuse Corner Stores are now Offering Healthy Options for Customers
April 11, 2018, 8:30 pm | Source
The co-owner of a well-established corner store in Syracuse’s Hawley Green Neighborhood says she realized the need to provide better nutritional options for customers, especially impressionable young kids. "I could see the kids when they were young and they have grown up and I'm like, look at all these kids getting bigger and bigger every day and it brings tears to my eyes. I said, these are beautiful children, they just need someone to guide them to eat healthy." That’s Hawley Market’s Rita Algattas. The store is offering healthy food choices front and center for customers after it received a mini-grant in a partnership between the Onondaga County Health Department and Trinity Health’s Transforming Communities Initiative. The goal is to help reduce barriers for healthy living in neighborhoods and nearby schools. Algattas says 50% of its floor space transitioned into healthy options in the past year. "Every day I make sure my fruit basket is all full with fresh fruit. We used to

How About Ice Skating, Sculptures, or a Water Park on the Erie Canal? Design Competition Finals
April 10, 2018, 10:06 pm | Source
An agriculture irrigation system for farmers. Creating canal-side pocket neighborhoods. Maybe a great Erie Canal race. Those are three of seven finalists announced today for the Reimagine the Canals Competition launched as part of this year’s bicentennial celebration. Kimberly Harriman is the Senior Vice President of the New York Power Authority, and presented the finalists at SUNY ESF. “They really do have one thing in common, and it’s a can do spirit and that’s the exact spirit that made the canal system what it is today.” Harriman says 145 applications were submitted, but the judges felt the seven finalists bring something new to the table. “It’s not just the same idea with seven different variations. This spans everything from irrigation to archipelagos to winter festivals to hut systems along the canal. You can’t get more different and varied.” Contestants from nine countries submitted applications for the contest, and Harriman says that shows that the world recognizes Erie Canal

Experts: Human Trafficking Cases Increase in CNY with Opioids
April 10, 2018, 8:12 pm | Source
Experts who handle youth human trafficking cases in Onondaga County say that the illegal activity continues to be on the rise, and that the opioid epidemic seems to be fueling the problem. The Homeland Security roundtable discussion at the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center shared the disturbing local trends of trafficking and drugs. Congressmember John Katko was surprised to learn of the correlation. "Some of the things we've learned from today were frightening. Number one: much stronger connection to human trafficking and the rise in the opioid epidemic and the interplay between individuals that are getting addicted to opioids and then get forced into child exploitation or human trafficking. Then the transportation components of it, bringing them from one city to another once they're addicted." Providing youth victims with appropriate shelters and some oversight is something that Vera House strives to do as a shelter for victims of domestic and sexual violence. Vera House's Randi

New Evidence Might Bolster Case Against Massive NY Bailout of Nuclear Power Plants
April 6, 2018, 8:44 pm | Source
Opponents of the massive subsidy plan for New York’s struggling nuclear power plants say there’s new evidence that supports their case to repeal the 2016 bailout. Two Oswego County plants owned by Exelon were among those granted $7.5 billion in taxpayer money over 12 years by the New York Public Service Commission. Executive Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service Tim Judson expressed his disappointment in the PSC not serving the public’s interest. " The Public Service Commission was supposed to be making a rational decision for the benefit of New Yorkers across the state. It appears based on what actually happened, this was a decision to benefit the owners of nuclear power plants. The PSC didn't consider more cost-effective alternatives for meeting the state's energy goals." Opponents say their evidence includes a presentation made by a former lobbyist from Exelon in which he bragged about the $7.5 billion subsidy. Judson says the presentation is a prime example of the

Onondaga County Elections Commissioners Split on No Early Voting Provision in State Budget
April 2, 2018, 8:51 pm | Source
Onondaga County’s elections commissioners have differing opinions on the removal of early voting and other reforms in the new state budget. As with many issues, the divide appears to fall along party lines in the legislature, as well. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, included funds for early voting in his budget, and the majority Democrat Assembly got behind it. However, the Republican led Senate did not. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny is also the party caucus chair with the New York State Election Commissioners Association. He says he’s disappointed, since the plan would have lifted the burden from county boards. "Having it as part of the budget process seemed like a logical step to resolving that with New York State funds being set aside to ease that burden or eliminate that burden." Onondaga County Republican Elections Commissioner Michelle Sardo is glad early voting was dropped from the budget. " We'd have to pay more money for trucking. We'd have to

DOT Unveils New Plans for Empire State Trail in DeWitt and Downtown Syracuse
March 29, 2018, 9:54 pm | Source
The State DOT on Thursday presented new plans for the leg of the massive Empire State Trail that will run through DeWitt and the eastern part of Syracuse. Preliminary drawings were unveiled at an open house held Thursday evening at DeWitt town hall. Sam Gordon, Director of Planning and Zoning, says the plan focuses on a four mile section of Erie Boulevard East. “What people are going to see is the proposal to transform that median into a greenway following the historic route of the Erie Canal, which went from about the intersection of Bridge Street and Erie Boulevard all the way in and through downtown Syracuse,” Gordon said. “It’ll be a big change.” Gordon says it’s a change many people say they’d like to see. The town has been soliciting transformative ideas and input since they launched the Elevating Erie collaboration in 2015, and this plan from the state partially fulfills that vision. He says a greenway tops the list. “In the city of Syracuse you have a wide, grassy median now

Downtown Committee Highlights Latest Changes at Progress Breakfast
March 29, 2018, 8:49 pm | Source
The Downtown Committee of Syracuse says more than $650 million has been pumped into downtown over the past decade, and the number of residents living in the city center is up a whopping 77 percent. The committee held a “Progress Breakfast Series” Thursday to discuss how downtown activities affect Syracuse. Spokesperson Merike Treier says that just like the foresight of saving the Hotel Syracuse and developing Armory Square, everyone needs to focus next on what replaces Interstate 81 through Syracuse. “Connect our neighborhoods by improving accessibility. Provide the least disruptive construction schedule to our businesses, employees, residents and visitors. And, be the most fiscally sustainable solution for our community, fostering a vibrant urban center. To achieve our best future, we all need to be engaged.” Treier suggests the Community Grid option. On Friday, the organization plans to announce the winners of more than $450,000 in grant funds for further development. Syracuse Mayor

Rosamond Gifford Zoo Welcomes Two Bactrian Camels
March 27, 2018, 9:55 pm | Source
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo introduced two new additions to their collection Tuesday. “Although their not quite a year old, Patrick weighs 915 pounds and George weighs 750 pounds, so they’re big yearlings and they’ll certainly continue to grow,” said zoo director Ted Fox. They’re bactrian camels, and Fox says they’ll eventually grow to 7 1/2 feet tall and weigh 2,000 pounds. He says bactrian camels can be found in the Gobi desert right between Central and East Asia. He says the camels are half-brothers, and are the first of their kind to be at the zoo since the 1980’s. “ They’re an endangered species so that fits with what we’re trying to do with helping to bring awareness to those species that are having trouble with population. It’s mostly due to over hunting in the Gobi desert.” Fox says the Gobi desert gets colder than winters in Syracuse, which makes it easy for the duo to adjust to their new home. “ The staff has been working really hard to train them and have them acclimated to

Local High School Students Organize 'March for Our Lives' in Syracuse to Protest Gun Violence
March 23, 2018, 8:58 pm | Source
The students organizing a Syracuse march to protest recent school shootings are trying to make sure their message includes ending all local gun violence. The young people behind Saturday’s ‘March for our Lives’ also plan to keep their activism going long after it’s over. These four CBA 11 th graders couldn’t escape news of the Parkland Florida shooting. Ashwarya Vara-Kantam felt directly connected. “I realized that it could happen anywhere because the kids from Parkland didn’t expect it to happen to them. Just because we go to private school doesn’t mean we’re immune to stuff that could happen to any other school. We could go through just as much as they did, or even worse.” They heard about the March for our Lives in Washington and took it on themselves to get active here. As they started organizing, Rachel Krul was hearing stories of other gun violence in Syracuse, and wants the protest to speak to all victims “It shouldn’t matter if someone is in school, a movie theater, a mall, or

DA Committee to Look into Creating Guidelines for School Safety Training
March 15, 2018, 7:33 pm | Source
Students, parents, and teachers in Central New York might be wondering what comes next after Wednesday’s school walk-outs marking the one month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida massacre. There's a county-wide effort to find ways to keep students safe. Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick has created a subcommittee as part of the already existing School Safety Task Force to create some guidelines for teacher and student training. He’s tapped West Genesee Superintendent Chris Brown to lead the effort. “You don’t want to have people making it a school specific," Brown said. "So, what we are trying to do is to establish just some general best practices that any school could employ if they want to in terms types of training drills, frequency, different things you might able to do for your building to make them more secure, communication mechanisms, all of that.” Brown says the most common requests so far from the community include having a school resource officer in every

Spring Construction or Landscaping Project? Call to 811 Could Avoid Explosion, Electrocution, etc.
March 14, 2018, 2:53 pm | Source
Construction season in Central New York is coming, with Spring a week away. Safety officials want to make sure people know what’s underground before starting to dig – for anything from a home or building, to a pool or fence post. Dig Safely New York hosted contractors at Onondaga Community College today. Executive Director Kevin Hopper says they’ll contact utilities to identify underground problems. “Whether it’s your gas company, your water company, fiber, phone, television, whatever utilities are there. Then they have two days to come out and mark those utility lines. They’ll report back to Dig Safely New York and say, ‘we’ve marked it; it’s clear; we don’t have anything affected.’ Then when we have all the information, we’ll send that information to you. We call that an automated positive response.” A contractor or a homeowner will then know where power or other utilities are located before digging for any project. Brandon Schroeder didn’t make the call when he was on a job as an

Low Milk Prices + Higher Labor Costs + Pricing System = Closing CNY Dairy Farms
March 9, 2018, 11:16 pm | Source
Some Central New York dairy farmers are facing such difficult times that they’re considering leaving the business altogether. A combination of persistently low prices of milk and rising labor costs are forcing long-time farmers to make some tough decisions. For Mark Tucker, dairy farming is all he’s known. He’s been working his family’s fourth generation farm in Skaneateles full time for over 40 years. "You spend your life doing this, and now you can't make a profit at it. It really puts the pressure on someone where they feel like they've been working all their life to have a good income...or a decent income, anyway." John F. Tucker and Sons has 140 milking cows, with another 80 so-called young stock. They also grow corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, and alfalfa hay for the cows on their 1,200 acres. Mark Tucker says it’s just he and his brother, along with a few hired hands. The other six siblings and his grown children aren’t interested in the long hours and hard work. So, he says, that

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