Ashley Hirtzel, WBFO


WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.

Ashley is a Buffalo native, and is in her second stint as reporter at WBFO. During her first tenure at the station, Ashley covered a variety of issues in the western New York region and earned an Associated Press award for team coverage on “Same Sex Marriage in New York.” Ashley has also worked as an anchor/reporter at WBEN in Buffalo and WBTA in Batavia.

Ashley earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Communications at Medaille College in Buffalo.   



Fri February 22, 2013

Cuomo reacts to IDA backlash on sales tax budget proposal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Ashley Hassett WBFO file photo

During his visit to western New York on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reacted to the backlash by Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) against his executive budget proposal that would remove their powers to grant state sales tax exemptions.

In recent weeks IDAs across New York state have been pleading with the governor to rethink the proposed change. They argue it will strip them of their ability to manage local economic development projects.

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Wed February 20, 2013

Researchers conduct first major earthquake simulation in state

An unreinforced masonry wall on the left, compared with a reinforced wall on the right.
Ashley Hassett WBFO

Researchers from the University at Buffalo conducted the state's first large-scale earthquake simulation on Tuesday to determine how prone unreinforced masonry walls are to quake damage.

The test took place at UB’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER) where two 14-foot-tall walls, made to replicate turn-of-the-20th-century row houses stood parallel to one another during several tests.

The left wall was built with 100 year old brick and mortar similar to “brownstones” found in New York City. The right wall was built stronger and retrofitted using techniques typical on the West Coast, where there's more seismic activity.

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Mon February 18, 2013

A timely technology voucher for low-income state schools

Extra Ketchup creative commons license

A large number of schools across the state will receive $87 million to be used for technology. The state Education Department announced that low-income public and charter schools will be receiving a voucher that can be used to purchase computer software, hardware and equipment needed for computer networks and technology infrastructure.

The funding is being channeled to schools across the state as part of a settlement reached between the Education Department and the Microsoft Corporation in 2006.*

State Education Department Spokesman Tom Dunn says the money’s arriving at a good time.

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Mon February 18, 2013

Cuomo wants to shift some IDA powers to his regional councils

Birkett Mills Warehouse
Finger Lakes IDA

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, the state’s Industrial Development Agencies, or IDA’s, would no longer be able to grant state sales tax exemptions for economic development projects. Instead, that authority will go to Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Councils.

It’s a move that has the local economic development agencies upset.

Right now, New York's IDA's have the ability to give out local and state tax breaks in order to encourage economic development.

The governor says the change will keep IDA’s accountable by requiring them to have projects that involve state tax exemptions to be approved by the regional councils. It's also estimated to save the state $7 million this budget season and between $13-14 million in subsequent years.

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