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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Officials in the United States and Canada have approved a plan to allow the level of Lake Ontario to fluctuate more -- a change that has been opposed by some residents. 


Max Schulte / Democrat and Chronicle

The story of a girl's mysterious murder in 1979 continues in the ninth episode of this series.

November 10th marks 37 years since Livingston County Deputies responded to a call in Caledonia and found the body of a teenage girl in a cornfield on the side of the highway. We now know that girl was 16-year-old Tammy Jo Alexander, from Brooksville, Florida.

Her identification in January of 2015 was a major break in the case, and it's one that's turned up several leads.

The Associated Press projects Democrat Chuck Schumer will defeat Republican challenger Wendy Long. This will be the Democratic senator's fourth term in office.

If the Democratic Party retakes the Senate majority, the senior senator is expected to become majority leader in 2017. Former Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid is retiring at the end of this year.

Long is a litigation attorney and former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. She unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

A program to fund restoration and remediation projects in the Great Lakes region has an uncertain future.

A cove on the South Shore of Lake Ontario near Rochester, New York called Buck Pond is undergoing a transformation.

Brad Mudrzynski is a graduate student with the College at Brockport and is working on a habitat restoration project here.

"One of the focus points of this project is to create northern pike spawning habitat," he says.

Veronica Volk / WXXI

Restoration of Braddock Bay is still underway, but officials and developers are already looking forward to the construction of a new marina.

The Braddock Bay Restoration project is broken down into three phases. Phase one was completed in March, with over 300 acres of wetlands restored. Currently, the project is in its second phase, with ongoing construction to dredge the boating channel and build a barrier beach.

Associated Press

Plastic debris is pervasive in the waters that feed the Great Lakes, according to a new study published by the United States Geological Survey.

The study found widespread microplastics in 29 tributaries, with the highest concentrations in the Huron River at Ann Arbor, Mich., and the Buffalo River at Buffalo, N.Y.

Microplastics are fibers and beads that come from decomposing bottles and bags, clothing, and even some cosmetic products.

Sasha-Ann Simons / WXXI

In 2010, Harry Bronson won a Democratic primary for an Assembly seat that he would ultimately win in the general election. Bronson hasn’t had to run a primary campaign since then — until this year when former journalist Rachel Barnhart stepped up to challenge him.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Some of the migratory songbirds that pass through the Great Lakes region are already on the move, and volunteers at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory are preparing for them. Hundreds of species – swallows, finches, warblers and more -- visit the observatory on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of Rochester.

Today, the volunteers are repairing large nets, about 12 feet high with very fine mesh. That’s how they catch the birds.

"When they're flying along, they kind of hit these soft nets and fall into little pockets or hammocks," says education director Andrea Patterson.

Jim Kennard

An 18th century sloop called the Washington has been discovered off the coast of Oswego, New York.

Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski, and Roland Stevens found the ship, which sank in 1803. It is the second oldest wreck discovered in Lake Ontario.

Kennard and his team used sonar technology and a remotely operated vehicle to locate the sloop.

"As an explorer," Kennard says, "you can't be the first one to the top of a mountain because most mountains have been climbed, but you can be the first one to make a discovery of a shipwreck."

Veronica Volk / WXXI

The FBI is offering a $20,000 for information in the Tammy Jo Alexander murder case.

The 16-year-old was found shot to death in a cornfield in Caledonia in 1979, and was identified as Florida native Tammy Jo Alexander in January of 2015.

Since then the FBI and the Livingston County Sheriff's Office have been working together to put together a timeline of the last few months of the teenager's life. FBI Special Agent Adam Cohen announced the award for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Alexander's murderer.

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