Community News

Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Fill a bowl and feed the hungry. The Empty Bowls event attracted a lot of people today to purchase a ceramic bowl to help local food pantry program.

“Child Hunger exists in every county in the United States.” The child food insecurity rate for Onondaga County is 19.4%, or 20,720 children.” 

For some artists who made bowls for Empty Bowls, it’s not the first time they participate. Syracuse University ceramics graduate student Peter Smith says he is excited to see it happen again.

Fall is finally in the air here in Central New York.

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  Many Central New Yorkers are following Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., which kicks off late Wednesday when he arrives in the nation’s capital.  David McCallum is Special Assistant to the President for Mission Integration at LeMoyne College, a Jesuit school.  He says the Pope’s Jesuit roots give the Pontiff a fearlessness to champion social issues.

"Everyone's Italian" for Festa Italiana

Sep 18, 2015
Scott Willis / WAER News

The summer festival season continues this weekend in downtown Syracuse.   The 17th annual Italian heritage celebration kicked off Friday morning and  continues through Sunday.  Festival president Ginny Lostumbo says  along with all the food and festivities, every year they try to add an educational element to the feast.

 "We have Italian classes, we have our mass on Sunday, we're having our first reading in Italian, the second reading will be in English.  So everything we touch we try to put both sides, from the old country and from America.”           

Scott Willis / WAER News

  Anticipation and excitement are building as the Onondaga Nation gets ready to host the first game of the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship on Friday.  

"We have teams here now.  The teams are arriving every day. They're practicing right now.  The excitement is huge."

Onondaga Faithkeeper Chief Oren Lyons and Tadodaho Sidney Hill were among those on hand Tuesday morning for the raising of the Haudenosaunee flag in front of Syracuse City Hall.  Mayor Stephanie Miner read a proclamation…

"Whereas, nearly one thousand years ago, the Onondaga Nation, together with their Haudenosaunee brethren, began playing the "Creator's Game," now known as lacrosse, in an area that was to become the City of Syracuse and the County of Onondaga.”                                 

Now, for the first time ever, an international sporting event will be held on indigenous lands.  The Onondaga Nation will host lacrosse teams from a dozen countries, and Sid Hill couldn’t be more proud.

"For us to host an event around the world, a sporting event of this magnitude, we call it our game...I can't imagine what is means for everybody.  Just the pride for us to be able to do that is amazing."

Hill says this tournament is an opportunity to show the world who they are…

"We have to educate people, we are still here,  we're a proud nation, like any other nation is proud of their culture, of their heritage, it's just something that we've worked for.  It's all coming together, and for us to host other nations, it's just an awesome event."

The Onondagas spent more than $6.5 million to prepare for the games.  Most of it went toward the building of a new pavilion.  Most of the games will be played there or the nearby arena.  A few will be played in the county’s war memorial, including the game following the opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday.   The finals will be held September 27th in the Carrier Dome.  A schedule and more information is at  

Shane T. McCoy / U.S. Marhsals

The results are in from a joint, four-month effort to combat gang violence in Syracuse.   Police Chief Frank Fowler says  the 248 arrests made during “Operation:  Salt City” from May to September included 124 gang members.   He says they couldn’t have had that success without the help of the U.S. Marshal Service.

"It's not only important that we have a group like this, but it's important that we sustain a group like this.  All urban police departments throughout the country are facing a manpower shortage like this.  The City of Syracuse is no different."

John Smith / WAER News

Better parking, flights to more cities, and a facelift for the front of Hancock International Airport highlight the transportation hub's future goals.  The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority issued its annual report Friday.  

  Executive Director Christina Callahan looked back on improved concessions, featuring local beers and food products, and improving the parking garage.  Travelers will also be able to sign up for TSA pre-check starting in October.  Now Callahan is ready to make a few other visible upgrades.

  On of the first lessons for new or returning college students from across the state is likely getting them acquainted with new laws aimed to combat sexual violence on campuses. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “Enough is Enough” campaign sends a clear message as to what affirmative consent means. The state defines affirmative consent as a knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.

LeMoyne College in Syracuse already had an affirmative consent policy in place but, now it’s been updated to reflect the state definition and a bill of rights.  Deputy Title Nine Coordinator for Student Development Ann Bersani says new students are taking in performances of Relationships 101 to learn about the awareness campaign and new laws.

"A series of skits that are performed by our students in the performing arts center. Those students have integrated the new 'Enough is Enough' legislation into their portion of this which was incredible to see our students taking that on and explaining it to their peers."

Bersani adds she believes the performances leaves more of an impact because existing students are delivering the message and it get them talking to each other.  Bersani explains that could potentially open the door for more reporting.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Members of a wide-range of labor unions gathered at the state fairgrounds for an annual rally that celebrated their accomplishments…as well as a different kind of support and leadership.  There was a strong showing from  teachers at this year’s rally, ranging from members of the Syracuse Teachers Association to United University Professions.  

  But the keynote speech came from the resident of New York State United Teachers, representing 600,000 members in education, health care, and human services.  Karen McGee took the helm of NYSUT as the first woman president in April 2014.   She made the trip to Syracuse from Harrison in Westchester county, where she’s been an elementary school teacher for 30 years. 

"You seen the bumper stickers on the car.  Union: the folks that brought you the weekend.  You're damn right we brought you the weekend and the 40 hour work week, and fought against exploiting children in the workplace."

McGee says today, they’re fighting for fair wages for the working poor, including the $15 an hour wage for fast food workers.  She says they’re fighting against overtime abuse and wage theft.  The only other person to make remarks at Monday's rally was someone who on the surface might seem like an unlikely supporter of labor.  But Republican Congressmember John Katko heaped plenty of praise on unionized workers past and present, and committed to fix something that has generated much concern among teachers, parents, and children.

  "I'm fighting every day to try and undo the mess that common core has become," he said to a cheering crowd.  "You deserve to teach how you want to teach.  You can't teach a kid in the city of Syracuse the same way you teach them in Fayetteville-Manlius.  It's time they recognize that," he said to more applause and cheers.  "I'm with you, I don't care what party I'm with because I understand labor is the backbone of Central New York."

Katko says he broke with his party to side with labor in his opposition to the Trade Promotion Authority, which congress approved earlier this summer.  He says the TPA amounts to another NAFTA, draining good jobs from upstate in favor of cheaper labor overseas.  

Chris Bolt/WAER News

An impromptu art exhibit on Syracuse’s North Salina Street tells a lot more about the artists than it does about any of the paintings, sculptures, poems or other works.  The art works at Syracuse Behavioral Health’s 2015 Recovery Arts Festival give insight into the journey and struggle of recovery.