Veronica Volk

Enterprise Reporter/Producer

Veronica Volk is the Enterprise Reporter for WXXI News, investigating and exploring issues impacting different communities in Rochester, Monroe County, and beyond. Previously, she reported on environmental and economic issues facing the people and wildlife of Lake Ontario for Great Lakes Today.

She is also the producer of Exited, a podcast about young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities transitioning into life after public school, and 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 a reporter in the Bronx for WFUV Public Radio, and later rose to 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.

Ways to Connect

Schools across the country are making their classrooms more inclusive to people with disabilities by including things like appropriate desks and interpreters, but how a classroom sounds can have a big effect on who can learn in it.

Edward Steinfeld is a professor of architecture and Director for the Center of Inclusive Design and Environmental Access at the University at Buffalo.

City of Rochester

While denying Bob Morgan’s official exit from the Parcel 5 project, the Rochester Broadway Theater League held a private meeting for other local developers last week. Parcel 5 is an acre-sized piece of prime downtown real estate.

RBTL chairman Arnie Rothschild declined to call the meeting a “pitch session,” but acknowledged that RBTL is preparing for Morgan’s potential departure by trying to find a new developer – or two – to step in.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

"How would you spend $175,000 to fight poverty in your community?"

That’s the question on a pamphlet advertising a new participatory budgeting project from the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

At a public meeting on Thomas P. Ryan Community Center in Rochester, Graham Hughes explained the program to a handful of activists, volunteers, and other eager residents.

“Participatory budgeting is basically a democratic way for people to decide how funding is spent,” says Hughes, an Americorps Vista volunteer with RMAPI.

Whether you call it a lightning bug or a firefly or perhaps by its scientific name, Lampyridae, chances are you’ve had some experience with the tiny flying insect that flashes and blinks its way through summer evenings.

And if you've been noticing more fireflies in your backyard this summer, you're not alone.

“A lot of people are enjoying it and I’m thrilled that people are enjoying it," says Sara Lewis, an evolutionary biologist at Tufts University in Boston, and writer of the book Silent Sparks: The Wondrous World of Fireflies.


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.


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.