Liz Holliday

Communications Specialist
Broadcasting Work

Thousands of Education Advocates Rally on Capitol Steps

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — West Capitol Park was a packed sea of red Wednesday afternoon as charter school teachers, parents, and children from across the state put forth the message that school choice matters.

The rally comes after the governor’s report last week, showing 178 schools as failing, some right of which are in the Capital Region. Education advocates from across the states vying for better funding ahead of the governor’s budget.

More than 13,000 charter school advocates from Families for Excellent Schools chanted the words “don’t steal possible,” saying zip codes shouldn’t matter.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, even Grammy award winning artist Ashanti took the stage to help join the fight and call on legislators to raise the cap on charter schools.

“No child should be held hostage in a failing school,” said Hochul.

But it wasn’t just charter school advocates gathering, parents and teachers from the United Federation of Teachers also met with lawmakers Wednesday, asking for education equality for students and funding.

Several of the 160 charter schools present shut their doors Wednesday so students could attend, something some opponents say should not be allowed.

Parent Tania Ortiz says the New York public school her son was enrolled in failed him, and that charter schools were the answer.

“Anything is possible with good schools, with good teachers, and good family members with everyone united,” said Ortiz.

Inside the Capitol, more than 1,100 public school teachers said failing schools were not their fault.

“Grades are down, performance is down, because we have students who don’t have the services they need,” said Gregg Loundahi, senior high school teacher.

And while they say they aren’t in competition with charter schools, the United Federation of Teachers says education funding equality is really what will help keep New York schools from failing.

“As we move forward we want every child to get a good education, but the money does matter,” said Michael Mulgrew.

Tornado touches down in rural Ottawa County

Residents in Ottawa County, Oklahoma pick up the pieces after trained spotters report a tornado touching down Monday evening.
According to the National Weather Service trained spotters reported a tornado at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, located about eight miles south of Quapaw, Oklahoma. NWS says the report is preliminary until surveyors assess the damage to determine the strength and path.
“I’ve seen tornadoes before but I’ve never been in the path of one,” said Ottawa County resident Larry Davis.
When Davis stepped out of his safe room he was confronted with overturned semis and his son’s diesel business in shambles. He says the damage was pretty shocking.
“Disbelief is about all you can say, it’s just pretty awesome,” Davis said.
Authorities report about 15 homes sustained damage with tree limbs and power lines down on one stretch of road off of East 130 Road.
“This is ground zero right here, just a major amount of damage,” said Joe Dan Morgan, the Ottawa County Director of Emergency Management. “It had this intersection blocked for quite a while, with all these poles and debris that was in the road.”
Though emergency services says the tornado was only on the ground for mere seconds, it was just enough time to leave behind an extensive amount of damage.
“We had very little warning and the way it worked out, no harm done to people, but a lot of property damage,” Morgan said.
Morgan reports that no one was injured and first responders like the Wyandotte Fire Department were on hand 20 minutes after the storm hit to help pick up the pieces.
“Basically, just taking an assessment of damage, of houses, helping people at least get tarps over their roofs to where they don’t have anymore rain damage to what they’ve already sustained,” says Chris Turner, the Assistant Chief of the Wyandotte Fire Department.
As for Davis, he says he is thankful for the help from first responders like Turner.
“Just doing everything they can to kind of get things back to where we can do something, there’s just so much to do, you don’t know where to start,” Davis said.
Davis says his son’s shop is insured and they will begin the process of rebuilding. Morgan said that despite damage all residents he spoke with were counting their blessings that no one in their community was killed or injured, and that all residents can do is watch out for weather warnings and then do the best job possible to respond to it when it’s over.

This story was originally written for KOAM-TV News in May 2013.

BitCoin ATM Makes New York Debut

ALBANY, N.Y. — The owner of New York’s first Bitcoin ATM says he hopes it will give the online currency a little more credibility.

Created in 2009 by an anonymous source, Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be bought and sold in online marketplaces. They can be sent from person to person with the help of mobile apps of computers.

Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet of sorts, which exists in the cloud or a user’s computer, but unlike bank accounts, they are not insured by the FDIC.

The currency is attractive to many users since it grants anonymity – the names of buyers and sellers are not revealed.

Paul Paterakis owns CT@HB on Albany’s Clinton Square. Not only was his business the first in upstate New York to accept Bitcoin, but it’s now home to the first Bitcoin ATM in the entire state.

He says the machine has already processed about 40 transactions in the short amount of time since it was unveiled.

“At first I was skeptical, I hadn’t heard too much about Bitcoin or using it as a form of payment from a customer so, I did a little research that night and the following day I started taking it,” he said.

It was a decision Paterakis calls a blessing.

“We have about ten transactions daily with Bitcoin, which is actually pretty high for a currency that just started a few years back.”

Now customers can put more bitcoin currency in their wallet thanks to 21-year old Emilio Pagan-Yourno, who started his Bitcoin ATM business, PYC, at the start of the year.

“It gives a sense of presence that it’s real, that it’s not a shady black market currency,” said Pagan-Yourno.

But the Schenectady native says business so far is going better than expected, and is hoping Albany’s ATM can serve as a test bed to jump off from.

“I want to put these ATMs all around the United States,” he added.

Although some may be skeptical of the new currency, Paterakis says he only anticipates big things for this paperless money.

“It’s like sending out an email, but you’re doing it with money now,” he said.

Exchanging Biometrics For School Lunches

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — If students in North Adams want something from the lunch line, they now must leave an impression of their finger.

The North Adams School District is now scanning fingers to identify lunch accounts in all of its schools this year, beginning next week at Greylock Elementary School.

It’s called Biometric Identification, and the district says many schools across the nation are beginning to use it instead of pin numbers or identification cards, both of which can be easily forgotten or stolen by students.

And while recent computer hackings may be fresh in parent’s minds, the district says the setup is completely encrypted and sure to protect student information — it even allows parents to track their child’s lunch purchases online.

But some parents in the district worry it is an invasion of privacy and are choosing to opt their children out.

North Adams is the first in Berkshire County to get the system, which cost about $10,000, according to Nicholas.

The director of North Adam’s Food Services, Corbett Nicholas, explains that the encrypted program works off of a grid to identify specific finger prints, converting it to binary code to be paired with the students lunch account.

The point of it all? Enabling children to always have access to their accounts, even when they forget pass codes or identification cards, and allowing parents to view the accounts in real time on the web.

And though Nicholas admits he is aware of some parent concern, he says the finger prints are never stored.

“It’s not a finger print in any way, no finger print can be recreated from the template that this software and scanner create,” he said.

YikYak And The False Bomb Attack

ALBANY, N.Y. – A bomb threat on an anonymous social networking site has led to a felony arrest of a UAlbany student.

Police at the University at Albany say they received several calls about an anonymous post on the social networking site Yik Yak, threatening to bomb the campus.

Yik Yak is a location based online application that allows users to send messages anonymously to anyone within a 1.5 mile radius of the post.

UAlbany freshman Zac Gamello says he uses Yik Yak to see what peers are talking about. As he explains, the app is similar to Twitter.

“You can just put up a quick little message and you have all different people replying to you,” said Gamello.

But while most messages are harmless, sometimes what is meant to be a joke goes too far.

“This individual probably thought that there was going to be some protection, they were going to be somewhat anonymous,” said Reg Harnish with Greycastle Security.

Harnish says those who believe they will remain anonymous are wrong. University police say they contacted Yik Yak as soon as they became aware of the threat Tuesday afternoon and were able to track the threat back to a male student within about four hours.

When it became clear the student, whose name has not been released, was not a threat, he was charged with falsely reporting a crime — a federal offense.

“I think we underestimate just how serious the impact can be,” said Harnish.

The school says this incident serves as a warning that bomb threats are never funny, something Gamello says most students already know.

“You can’t say that kind of stuff in today’s world, because there are definitely consequences and they have the technology to track it back to you,” said Gamello.

UAlbany Police were the first to admit that the Yik Yak app does have a good side, by giving students an anonymous way to talk through feelings of addiction and depression-giving them a community to support them. However, if at any point if a user threatens themselves or others, police say that is when the privilege of being anonymous will be revoked.

This most recent threat isn’t the only time the app has caused some controversy in the Capital Region. The Shenendehowa Central School District dealt with a similar online threat last month.

Cyber Security Tips In The Post Target, Home Depot Breach Era

Home depot has not confirmed a breach has been made, but is stressing that customers should be on high alert to possible fraudulent charges. The important thing to keep in mind here is that whether it’s Home Deport or Target–there are things consumer can do to keep accounts safe.

Reg Harnish has worked in the cyber security field for more than 10 years. He says while news of a possible Home Depot security breach may be the most recent, this sort of crime happens all the time.

“Potentially the point of sale devices were compromised,” Harnish, said. “Or potentially cyber criminals got in to the environment at Home Depot were able to pull credit card or debit card information there.”

But before you go cutting up your credit cards and vowing to only use cash again, Harnish says there is another way; like changing passwords every 90 days, and keeping a different password for every account you have online. Additionally he says that many website now offer a double point of entry to help keep people with stolen passwords out of your information.

“When you log into Facebook, it can send a code to your phone that you have to type in and then it has a couple more pieces of information–so for cyber criminals those websites become a lot harder to compromise,” Harnish said.

Further, he says you should always keep an eye on your accounts for fraudulent claims, weeks, months even years after a breach.

“This is not a one and done situation, you need to be checking your statements all the time, every time, and its just good practice,” Harnish said.

And though Harnish agrees that all of these steps may seem a little tedious, he says answering a few extra questions and eyeing accounts is just part of a new reality in our digital world.

“Cyber crime and cyber security is here to stay and you just need to get used to it and do something different,” he said.

We did reach out to home depot’s cooperate offices for a comment on the possible breach–but was told the company is not doing on camera interviews at this time.

Movie shoot in Amsterdam underway with some dismay from officials

AMSTERDAM, N.Y. – Shooting for a film is underway in Amsterdam, but to the dismay of some city officials, the main backdrop is the cities abandoned buildings.

The movie’s producer says it was Amsterdam’s beautiful abandoned buildings that brought production into town. While some would pay millions to create buildings in a California soundstage, the producer says they already exist.

The film, titled “Kill for Me,” features such stars as Bailey Chase, Dylan Baker and Amy Spanger, and on July 20, Amsterdam transformed into a post-apocalyptic movie set, despite initial hesitation from the mayor.

“That they’re coming and filming some of the more impoverished areas is a little disappointing, but what are you going to do,” asked Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane.

But according to the producer of the film, the term post-apocalyptic isn’t meant to be an insult.

“Horribly beautiful is how I like to describe it,” said producer Benjamin Bickham.

One abandoned textile factory will serve as the perfect backdrop to one of the scenes in the movie, but it was actually the tax incentive that brought them here in the first place. Bickham says they receive a 30-percent credit offered by New York State.

“Being in Montgomery county they give us an extra 10-percent and actually it was up in the area which location we were going to use, and that sort of sealed the deal for us,” said Bickham.

Now that crews are set up, Bickham says they are really trying to make the most to boost the local economy–something one of the film’s major stars, Bailey Chase, says he can attest to.

“We’re staying here, we’re eating here, we’re shopping here–so I think the tax credit does more than pay for itself,” said Chase.

With one week down and two more to go, Chase says it’s that interaction with the community that is really making this experience worth it.

“The really cool thing about Amsterdam is all of the people coming out,” said Chase.

Despite the post-apocalyptic depiction, even Thane says the feeling is definitely mutual.

“If Facebook is any indication, they are very excited, interested, and curious. It’s all good!” she said.

Filming for “Kill for Me” wraps up on August 10, but Bickham says it’ll most likely be almost another year before Amsterdam will be on the big screen.

New Salem residents begin storm cleanup

NEW SALEM, N.Y. – A quick storm caused a lot of fallen trees and downed power lines in New Salem Wednesday.

“Trees all over,” one resident described the damage. “Trees all over, and we rushed over to make sure the animals were okay.”

The resident said her ceiling collapsed with thousands of dollars in damage from her second floor to her flooded basement.

“I just tried to get pictures safe,” she said. “I had boxes and boxes of pictures.”

The New Salem Fire Department said they received more than 25 calls regarding storm damage with downed trees and power lines leaving many without power. National Grid crews worked throughout the night trying to restore power for residents.

One firefighter said he has been with the department for 27 years and never saw a storm bring down so many trees before.

Pam Branch lives a few houses away from a live, downed power line. She described hearing thunder and hail, and she came out of her house to see the damage.

“I was scared, yes,” she said. “I thought it was a tornado. I really wasn’t sure if it wasn’t.”

Branch said the town is now left to pick up the pieces of the damage.

“Back to picking up some of the mess,” she said. “Everything’s blown across the yard and stuff and get it all picked up.”

“It was very scary, I was sitting on my couch and all of a sudden you just heard this wind,” said Homeowner Doris Sanoreit.

Now she’s waiting for crews to remove a tree that fell against her front porch on Route 85 in New Salem. Although she says it caused little damage, she says the experience has brought the neighborhood closer together.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple says his deputies were busy handling 911 calls and making sure residents were safe after last night’s storm swept through the area. He says the fire department had to come through to push the debris and heavy branches off the roadways so that power crews could get through.

He says the storm hit their 911 dispatch center in Voorheesville, but that didn’t affect calls. National Grid says there are about 3,000 to 4,000 residents still without power and they’re hoping to restore it by the end of Thursday.

Originally posted:

Jumpin Jacks dedicates fireworks to fire victim

SCOTIA, N.Y. – An annual fireworks show was dedicated to a local woman who lost her life in a fire Thursday.

The Jumpin Jacks Drive-In fireworks show is the highlight of the summer for many Scotia residents. But some watched with a heavy heart Friday as they remembered longtime Jumpin Jacks employee Jill Vanselow.

Vanselow died from smoke caused by a fire at her North Ten Broeck apartment complex Thursday. Cody Austin was Vanselow’s co-worker, and his mother lived in the same building. He said he could see smoke from the fire all the way from Jumpin Jacks.

“I’ve always seen her walking in and out of the apartments,” he said. “At work she’d always say hi to me, talk to me, and try to strike up a conversation.”

Vanselow was known as “Jilly Bean” by those who loved her. She worked serving ice cream at Jumpin Jacks for the past 11 summers.

“She became part of our family, and we wouldn’t let her go, so she made it a career,” owner Mark Lansing said.

Lansing said fireworks were always the best part of Vanselow’s summers, so when he heard the news of her death, he knew Friday’s fireworks were for her.

“It’ll increase the turnout tonight as a memorial for her,” he said.

It wasn’t only Vanselow’s co-workers and friends who mourned her death. Many of her customers also came out to the show with her memory in mind.

“She was a very nice lady,” customer Laurel Barns said. “I met her a lot of times at Jumpin Jacks.”

The drive-in employees all wore her initials on their hats and sleeves Friday to show she may be gone but will never be forgotten at Jumpin Jacks.

“She’s going to be missed,” Lansing said. “We’ll never forget her. She’s part of what makes this place run.”

The Scotia Police Chief said the fire was ruled accidental, and foul play is not suspected in Vanselow’s death.

Originally aired June 27th:

Heavy rain, rising waters damage Gilboa man’s property

GILBOA, N.Y. – A home in Schoharie County was severely damaged by heavy rain and rising creek waters Wednesday night.

“I’ve seen a lot, but this was probably one of the most miserable nights I’ve had,” Fred Oakley said.

Oakley is a disabled veteran who survived two tours in Vietnam, but he said his rescue due to rising waters Wednesday night from his Gilboa home was the worst.

“Oh, the worst,” he said. “Irene and the other hurricane was nothing like this.”

Oakley said not only was his street washed out but also the bridge that is his only way home.

“Water was coming underneath the trailer from the backside to the front side,” he described.

Oakley said Second Assistant Fire Chief John Ernst found a back way to his washed out property leaving a half-mile hike and then an ATV ride to safety.

“When we showed up, his whole trailer was completely surrounded by at least two or three feet of raging water,” Ernst said.

The bridge wasn’t the only piece of property affected. Residents all along South Gilboa Road suffered damage.

“Well, it wasn’t good, but Mother Nature – you can’t fight it,” resident John Standhart said. “You just have to take what it is.”

Oakley said he doesn’t have the $30,000 it will take to fix the bridge, and after 19 years, he and his wife are thinking they may need to find a new place to live.

“When we can get trucks in here and get the furniture and stuff out its going to go up for sale, and we’re going to move,” he said.

Oakley said he put a call in to his county commissioner who is sending out a few people to look at the bridge in the next few days to try and help.

originally posted:

Child injured in ATV accident returns home from hospital

SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y. – A family is thankful after doctors say their 14-month-old son will fully recover from a weekend ATV accident.

The accident happened in Schuylerville on Sunday night, when a six-year-old backed up an ATV into his baby brother.

Schuylerville Emergency Services were first to the scene of the accident. Matt Stefanacci, a paramedic, says he has been in the business for 17 years and this is the first time he has heard of a case like this, calling it freak accident.

The family has since returned home from Albany Medical Center and they say the child is expected to make a full recovery.

Bill Peck is the father of four boys, all under the age of six. He said he was returning from a business trip when he heard his eldest son accidently back an ATV into his 14-month-old, Henry Niell. The toddler suffered from a fractured skull and broken neck.

“You know you think you’re safe in your yard, but everywhere you go there are accidents waiting to happen and this was one of them,” said Peck.

Peck owns a dairy farm in the North Country. He says the boys have driven inside the family ATV many times, but were never allowed to do be in it on their own.

While in their family’s backyard, Peck’s six-year-old son got away from his mother’s watchful eye, with just enough time for him to take the ATV out on his own, not realizing his baby brother was running behind.

“He feels very badly– he knows the extent of the injuries,” said the father.

The family says the keys to the ATV are almost always kept atop their refrigerator, and that this was completely an accident.

Thankfully, the Peck family says the child will make a full recovery, despite a small fracture to his skull and two of his neck vertebrae. The family explains that the accident could have been much worse.

“These are life lessons and luckily we have good news to report out of it, that it wasn’t a tragedy,” said Peck.

The parents say their six-year-old feels terrible for injuring his baby brother.

Originally posted:

Broadcasting Reel


LIZ HOLLIDAY’S BROADCASTING REEL: This is a compilation of some of my work for KOAM and FOX 14 News in Joplin, Mo/Pittsburg, KS.

Vaping Special Report: Part One

This time last year an “electronic cigarette,” or vapor shop didn’t exist in Joplin. Now at least seven stores exist in the Joplin area, with more scheduled to open up soon. But without studies on long-term health effects many worry it might be too soon to tell how safe the product really is.

Joplin City Concil Fires City Manager Mark Rohr In 5-4 Vote

Mark Rohr speaks out after Joplin City Council votes him out as City Manager. The Council made the decision in a special meeting last night. It was a meeting that started to discuss the actions of two other council members, but ended in the firing of Mark Rohr after nine years in office. And Rohr says he’s left scratching his head and wondering what is next. FOX 14’s Liz Holliday has more in her exclusive interview with the ousted City Manager.

More Oklahomans Hold Gun Permit Than Ever Before

In 2013, 60,000 Oklahomans were licensed to carry a hand gun in the state.
That’s double what it was in the state just two years ago.
FOX 14’s Liz Holliday spoke with Oklahoma residents to find out why and how it’s helping gun related business.

Tribal Languages Could Soon Be Taught In Oklahoma Schools

Oklahoma students could soon get foreign language credits for taking American Indian Tribal languages.

The change is thanks to the State’s Department of Education.

We sent KOAM’s Liz Holliday to Oklahoma to find out more.

Religious Targets: Part One

Family members of the man accused of attempting to bomb 48 churches in Miami, Oklahoma last October say a religious cult is behind the plot.
We’ll break down the allegation and take a deeper look inside the case in this special report by KOAM Reporter Liz Holliday.

Joplin Mosque Arsonist Caught Over One Year Later

After over one year of uncertainty, members of Joplin’s Mosque learn who is responsible for burning down their place of worship.

KOAM’s Liz Holliday explains.

Miami, Oklahoma Prepares For The Wintery Mix Ahead

As snow heads toward the Four States, we sent KOAM’s Liz Holliday to see how the city of Miami, Oklahoma prepares.

Lost Photos Of The Joplin Tornado Find New Home

Photos rescued from the 2011 tornado now have a new home in the Joplin Museum Complex. Previously, the National Disaster Photo Rescue Group had been working out of Carthage to reunite over 700 families with personal photographs found among debris.

Four Miami Police Officers Put On Leave In Excessive Force Scandal

Now Four Officers are put on Administrative Leave after a DashCam Video surfaces of a DUI Traffic stop back in May.
The lawyer of the man pulled over, Jerry Payne, says the video shows officers from Miami P.D. pulling his client to the ground and kicking him in the face.
KOAM’s Liz Holliday went to Miami to get reactions from the community.

A Miami Couple Robs Hotel, Stabs Clerk

A Miami Couple is behind bars, after attempting to steal a TV from a local hotel and stabbing the hotel clerk who tried to stop them.
KOAM’s Liz Holliday was on the scene and has the details.

Carl Junction Post Office Wins National Contest For Breast Cancer Awareness

The Post Office in Carl Junction, Missouri services the town of under 7500.
But this year the Post Office beat every other Post Office in the country to help “Stamp Out Breast Cancer” in the month of October.
KOAM’s Liz Holliday tells you why.

PBS Documentary On Tri-State Mining Premieres In Joplin

A documentary about Tri-State Mining is about to hit the airwaves on PBS stations across the country, but before it does the premiere will take place in Joplin.
KOAM’s Liz Holliday met with the filmmaker to dig a little deeper.