WXXI AM News

Veronica Volk

Great Lakes Reporter/Producer

Veronica Volk is the Great Lakes Reporter/Producer for WXXI News, exploring environmental and economic issues, water, and wildlife throughout the region for radio, television, and the web.

Previously, she worked general assignment for the newsroom, covering everything from medical marijuana dispensaries to the photonics industry. She is also producer and co-host of the true-crime podcast Finding Tammy Jo along with Gary Craig of the Democrat and Chronicle.

Veronica got her start as an enterprise reporter in the Bronx for WFUV Public Radio, and later became the senior producer of their weekly public affairs show Cityscape. She holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University and is originally from the Jersey Shore, which is nothing like how it is portrayed on MTV.

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AERIAL ASSOCIATES PHOTOGRAPHY, INC. BY ZACHARY HASLICK

Researchers predict less algae on Lake Erie this year compared to last, but that doesn’t mean no algae.

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the most severe, Lake Erie’s algae blooms are predicted to be at a six this summer. That’s an improvement from last summer, when they were categorized at an eight.

Richard Stumpf is an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He says, there’s a real simple reason they’re predicting fewer and smaller algae blooms.

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Tammy Bleier, a Greece native, says she has a special relationship to the water.

"I grew up going to Lake Ontario, especially Ontario Beach Park, and people use it for a myriad of ways. We use it for recreation, for boating. I love kayaking, people use it for fishing, we use it as a source of drinking water.”

As a research student, Bleier noticed a lot of attention being paid to plastic pollution in oceans, but not necessarily the Great Lake to the north.

Gail Albert Halaban

A new exhibit opening at the Eastman museum may change the way you look at your neighbors.

Gail Albert Halaban had only been living in New York City for a short time when something weird happened. It was her daughter's first birthday, and they received a package in the mail from her neighbors in the next building over.

"They sent me balloons and flowers," she says, "and a note saying, 'It's been fun watching your daughter grow up.' And we had never met them."

At first, Halaban says, she was a little creeped out.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Mohammad AlFayad is from Syria, and lives in Rochester with his wife and young daughter. He and his family have started the long process of applying for family visas for his parents, who still live in Damascus. But after the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, AlFayad is unsure whether he and his parents can be reunited in the US.

Rachel Barnhart

After losing to him in the Democratic primary, former television journalist Rachel Barnhart says she will support Joe Morelle in the general election.

At the Village Gate on Goodman Street in Rochester, a bar full of people turned out to support Barnhart. This was her third bid for public office, but her message was consistent: In each race, she has campaigned on her record of holding government accountable and being the underdog taking on establishment candidates.

Unfortunately for the Barnhart campaign, in each race, she has lost to the establishment candidate.

In her concession speech, Barnhart said she was not surprised by the results.

"This is what it’s like to run against the party machine, someone who raises an awful lot of money from corporations and lobbyists," she said. "It’s a system I want to work to dismantle, and I will continue those efforts."

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Immigration officials say they’ve arrested 40 undocumented immigrants across the state, many of whom had been charged with prior crimes.

This announcement highlights a major debate in the immigration policy discussion – who is considered a criminal?

A press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has a lot of numbers -- 40 people arrested in four days; 35 men and five women from 13 different countries -- but one number stands out.

Alex Crichton / WXXI News

A new report attempts to explain the causes of last year’s flooding along the south shore of Lake Ontario.

After floods in the spring of 2017 hurt businesses and drove families from their homes along the shore of Lake Ontario, many homeowners and business owners and even some public officials blamed a new lake water regulation plan.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

At Fifth Frame Brewing on St. Paul Street in downtown Rochester, Carolyn Stiles starts talking to me about her favorite beer.

"I really enjoy a good pilsner, like, a well brewed pilsner," she tells me.

Stiles is part of an ever-growing group of craft beer enthusiasts across the country.

Rochester alone has over a dozen breweries experimenting with different malts, hops, and yeasts to make hundreds of local beers. With this rapid growth, Stiles saw an opportunity to start a beer education and appreciation group – just for women.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Protesters at Congressman Tom Reed’s office in Geneva called on the representative to take action against an immigration policy that is separating children from their families at the southern border.

Gabriella Quintanilla was 13 years old when she and her younger sisters left El Salvador to meet their mother in the U.S.

“We crossed the border on foot," she said, adding that it took nearly a month to complete the journey.

Tianna Mañón/ WXXI news

Nazareth College is building a new state-of-the-art sports facility on campus that will also help promote inclusivity.

Tim Shriver, the chair of the Special Olympics, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the event. It was a windy day on campus, which Shriver took as a good sign.

“In this country right now, the winds of change are blowing," he said. "They’re blowing here for us to remind us that we have to be the agents of that change.”

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