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.   

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Ashley Hirtzel/WBFO

Manufacturing businesses in western New York can expect tax relief through this year’s state budget. The effort aims to improve the economic competitiveness of upstate New York.

State Senator Tim Kennedy says the western New York economy supports more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs. He says measures in the 2014-2015 budget aim to spur the creation of more good-paying jobs in the industry.

WBFO File Photo

Tonawanda Coke and its owner will be sentenced in federal court. In the preliminary sentencing report U.S. District Judge William Skretny said victims will not be allowed to seek restitution during Wednesday’s sentencing.

Tonawanda Coke was found guilty of violating the Clean Air Act in March 2013. Judge Skretny says there are other legal avenues where victims can seek compensation. The victims also will not be allowed to read testimony during Wednesday’s sentencing.

Community Organizer with the Clean Air Coalition Rebecca Newberry says victims have the potential to seek compensation through the various civil lawsuits against the River Road plant.

A Buffalo charter school leader has created several mobile apps that aim to break down roadblocks for low-income and first generation college bound students. The apps help students find the best college for their career goals and financial situation.

Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO

Researchers at the University at Buffalo are studying how mind-controlled robots can be utilized in the manufacturing sector. The team is also working to make the technology more affordable for companies.

UB graduate student Habib Mohd Younus is imagining a wood peg being placed in a round hole. He focuses on getting the mind-controlled robot in front of him to do exactly what he is thinking.

“When I think ‘push’ you actually see it’s being pushed back. When I want to rotate it clockwise, I’m thinking it’s rotating, so it rotates,” said Younus.

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Lawmakers are considering a bill that would provide cancer patients more access to affordable treatments.

Oral chemotherapy drugs are currently classified differently than traditional chemo administered intravenously. Due to the classification difference, patients across the country are not being reimbursed for oral therapies under their health coverage.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute Associate Professor of Oncology Dr. Eunice Wang says the disparity is causing many patients to opt out of treatment altogether because of the cost.