WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Noelle E.C. Evans

Noelle E. C. Evans is a general assignment reporter/producer for WXXI News with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.

Noelle worked in Quito, Ecuador, for a Venezuelan media organization during a critical time in the country’s history. She has a nuanced understanding of the need for freedom of the press, and is conversational in Spanish.

Noelle is a BBC Grace Wyndham Goldie scholar and has worked with BBC Radio Wales and the BBC World Service. She received her M.A. in International Journalism from Cardiff University in Wales – one of the top ten ranking journalism schools in the UK. Noelle was awarded the university’s USA Excellence Scholarship in 2016.

She began as an intern at WXXI in 2014.

A state agency representing farmers in New York is hopeful a new federal aid package will provide much-needed relief for farmers hit by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program includes $16 billion dollars for direct support to farmers, and $3.5 billion for a farm-to-food bank program.  

Steve Ammerman with the New York Farm Bureau says that this will include produce, dairy, and meat.

The U.S. census, that constitutionally mandated once-a-decade count of every resident, is still being conducted this year -- though it’s not going according to plan.

Jim Malatras with the New York State Complete Count Commission said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected what was already a difficult year for the 2020 census. 

He said he doesn’t believe that the federal government had done enough before the pandemic to ensure an accurate count, particularly in states with large immigrant populations and communities of color, like New York. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Thursday evening that four detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia have tested positive for COVID-19.

Those identified include a 62-year-old detainee from Pakistan, a 29-year-old from Somalia, a 37-year-old from Honduras and a 31-year-old fromHonduras. No information regarding gender was provided.

ICE officials said that “those who have come in contact with these individuals have been cohorted (grouped together) and are being monitored for symptoms.”

Immigration advocates and local officials celebrated Greyhound's policy change to not allow Border Patrol searches on their buses unless officers have a warrant. 

The change hits home for Stevie Vargas with Citizen Action of New York. Her stepfather is undocumented. She said the change will mean more people will have the freedom to board buses and visit loved ones in other cities without fear of persecution.

The New York Attorney General has announced a new statewide initiative against housing discrimination. 

Attorney General Letitia James launched an online resource to report housing discrimination against people who receive government assistance. That includes housing vouchers, welfare, and those who receive child support.

“Every New Yorker deserves safe and decent housing, regardless of their lawful source of income,” James said in a statement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his first priority in his New York state budget announcement on Tuesday: climate action.

The $33 billion plan includes comprehensive nature conservation, a more significant transition to renewable energy, and a major shift to carbon-free transportation.

“We start with the most aggressive climate change program in the country,” Cuomo said in his address. “Because my friends, the clock is ticking and it's ticking faster and faster."

Faith leaders in Monroe County issued letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators this week urging them to continue upholding bail reform. 

Rev. James Simmons is one of seven clergy who signed the letter addressed to Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Attorney General Letitia James calling on them to support bail reform despite backlash from some legislators and police who claim the new law will leave dangerous criminals on the streets.

On Monday, Senator Chuck Schumer condemned the federal government’s lack of action to assist veterans with some health conditions linked to Agent Orange exposure. The senator says this affects around 20,000 Vietnam-era veterans in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.  He made the comments at the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester.

Legislators and local law enforcement joined an anti-human trafficking coalition in Rochester on Friday for a roundtable discussion about proposals to decriminalize prostitution in New York state. 

Melanie Blow with Rochester Regional Coalition Against Human Trafficking said she believes that full decriminalization of prostitution would increase instances of human trafficking.

“This is a very, very complicated issue, this is a very nuanced issue, so to educate elected officials, to educate the public, we wanted to have an in-depth conversation about this,” Blow said.

A judge with the U.S. District Court in Western New York issued a temporary restraining order on certain aspects of a new farmworkers fair labor law late on Monday, two days before the law took effect. 

Judge Lawrence Vilardo ruled that New York state is prohibited from enacting some aspects of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act. 

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