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WAER News Round-up: Week of Feb. 21


This week saw the return of one beloved Syracuse celebration and progress toward bringing back another this summer. Yet these past couple of days were darkened by Russia's attack on Ukraine that prompted reaction from local elected leaders.

1. Syracuse high schools seem to have right formula for graduation success, expert says

 Graduation success

A local education expert saw significant takeaways from the Syracuse City School District’s historic increase in graduation rates. The district recently revealed a 77% increase in graduation rates for high school students. Syracuse University’s professor of mathematics education Joanna Masingila, also a former dean at SU, said the school district’s focus on professional development and student problem solving is likely the right formula to lasting academic benefits.

2. Expanding jobs for New Yorkers with disabilities is the focus of state senator's bill

A man in a wheelchair

New York made progress this month supporting residents with disabilities with a newly established office, but the development comes as two-thirds of New Yorkers with disabilities are unemployed despite a growing American economy. State Sen. John Mannion’s new legislation aims to tackle that problem.

3. Syracuse Jazz Fest is one step closer to monetary support from Onondaga County Legislature

Jazz Fest

Onondaga County lawmakers just might be moving the Syracuse Jazz Fest a little closer to reality for this summer. A committee approved a measure that would direct $125,000 toward the event matching an amount already pledged by the city of Syracuse.

4. AG James threatens action against Skyline owner if problems continue

ag skyline.jpg
Scott Willis
NYS Attorney General Letitia James stops in Syracuse to announce action against Green National, the company that owns the troubled Skyline Apartment complex and other properties.

Attorney General Letitia James is using the power of her office to hold the owner of the troubled Skyline apartment complex and other properties accountable for uninhabitable conditions. In a visit to Syracuse, James says Green National has agreed to address the problems in 60 days or pay a $300,000 fine. James says her decision comes after the Skyline was repeatedly cited for code violations, including human waste and drugs in hallways.

5. The return of Winterfest brings cocktail competitions, wing tastings and booming business to CNY

Salt City Market, Coffee, Bar
Maxwell Mimaroglu
Salt City Market for Winterfest Story. 2/21/22. (Photo by Max Mimaroglu)

Syracuse Winterfest is back after a hiatus last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The local business community has been eager to see the festival's return as the event draws visitors to the area. People are coming from neighboring states and even traveling from Canada for the 11-day winter celebration.

6.This new Senate bill could cap insulin costs at $35


A hard cap on out-of-pocket cost for insulin – $35 maximum – is the centerpiece of the Affordable Insulin Now Act. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said the Senate will take up the bill in the next few weeks.

7. How NY and local elected officials are reacting to the Russia-Ukraine crisis

Map of Ukraine and Russia
Republican Policy Committee
A map of eastern Europe shows Ukraine's shared border with Russia.

All eyes are on Ukraine as Russia is attacking the country at its eastern border, and the invasion is expected to grow. Elected officials across the state and in the Syracuse region are condemning the action and offering support to the Ukranian people.

8. Syracuse faces high gas prices after Russian invasion of Ukraine

Damian Dovarganes
High gas prices are posted at a gas station in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 7. Gas prices are surging across the country yet there's effectively little the Biden administration can do.

Central New Yorkers are suffering at the pump following the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The price had gone up just in ancitiation of an invasion and now that Russia is actually attacking its neighbor, relief seems unlikely.

9. Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden's Supreme Court nominee, has blazed trails all her life

 Ketanji Brown Jackson

President Biden has selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat left when Judge Stephen Breyer retires this summer.