All News is considered In Character

December 29, 2017

In the News...

               Good Samaritans rescued a distressed driver on Wednesday evening. A driver is in critical condition after he was pulled from a minivan that burst into flames following a crash on the Roosevelt Expressway in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. John Kelly was driving his tow truck in the southbound lanes when he came upon the crash and saw the driver was trapped. That's when Mike Beckham also pulled over.

               The two men kicked out the window of the overturned vehicle and the two men grabbed the injured driver pulling him to safety. He was semi-conscious and third concerned passerby, a nurse who wishes to go unnamed, tended to him on the roadway. Police say the the driver is expected to make a full recovery, in part, because of these good Samaritans. John and Mike state about a minute after the injured man was removed, the flames reached the gas tank and the car was engulfed. The cause of the crash is under investigation. The name of the driver has not been released.

 

               Dozens of protesters took a stand in Center City Philadelphia to demand safer, protected bike lanes. Supporters lined up Monday morning along 13th Street just south of Pine. They stood between the cycling and driving lanes to represent where protective barriers would go. The morning protest is in response to the death of a cyclist last month at 11th and Spruce streets. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) says that accident is the third bicyclist killed in the city this year.

 

               All of the horses belonging to the Philadelphia Carriage Company will soon be handed over to the city of Philadelphia. An agreement was reached Thursday, December28th, following an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction against the Philadelphia Carriage Company. Among a long list of concerns from the inspection, PCC was cited for not having appropriate roaming space for the horses, found the stables to be dirty and have poor ventilation. Some of the horses were malnourished and found lying in their own waste.

               After initially appealing the violations, PCC came to the agreement to close the stables after working with the city's legal department. Once the agreement is signed, the animals will be moved to a care-taking facility that specializes in the rescue of draft and carriage horses. All of the horses will be moved, beginning Dec 31st.

 

               Philadelphia is one of three large U.S. cities that filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Defense, arguing that many service members who are disqualified from gun ownership weren't reported to the national background check system. The cities of New York and San Francisco also partnered on the suit. Local law enforcement officials rely on the FBI's database to conduct background checks on gun permit applications and to monitor purchases.

Philadelphia in particular has been plagued by gun violence and "relies on this reporting when making the crucial decision whether a license-to-carry applicant should be permitted to carry a firearm," said Mayor Tim Penny, who is a Democrat like the mayors of New York and San Francisco. "We're joining in this suit because reporting these records is absolutely critical to those decisions. The background check system only works if it contains the proper records."

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Air Force failed to submit records in about 14 percent of cases, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps failed to submit records in 36 percent of cases, and the U.S. Army didn't submit records in about 41 percent of cases.

December 15, 2017

In the News...

               Good Samaritans rescued a distressed driver on Wednesday evening. A driver is in critical condition after he was pulled from a minivan that burst into flames following a crash on the Roosevelt Expressway in the East Falls section of Philadelphia. John Kelly was driving his tow truck in the southbound lanes when he came upon the crash and saw the driver was trapped. That's when Mike Beckham also pulled over.

               The two men kicked out the window of the overturned vehicle and the two men grabbed the injured driver pulling him to safety. He was semi-conscious and third concerned passerby, a nurse who wishes to go unnamed, tended to him on the roadway. Police say the the driver is expected to make a full recovery, in part, because of these good Samaritans. John and Mike state about a minute after the injured man was removed, the flames reached the gas tank and the car was engulfed.

               The cause of the crash is under investigation. The name of the driver has not been released.

 

               Dozens of protesters took a stand in Center City Philadelphia to demand safer, protected bike lanes. Supporters lined up Monday morning along 13th Street just south of Pine. They stood between the cycling and driving lanes to represent where protective barriers would go. The morning protest is in response to the death of a cyclist last month at 11th and Spruce streets. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) says that accident is the third bicyclist killed in the city this year.

 

               All of the horses belonging to the Philadelphia Carriage Company will soon be handed over to the city of Philadelphia. An agreement was reached Thursday, December28th, following an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction against the Philadelphia Carriage Company. Among a long list of concerns from the inspection, PCC was cited for not having appropriate roaming space for the horses, found the stables to be dirty and have poor ventilation. Some of the horses were malnourished and found lying in their own waste.

After initially appealing the violations, PCC came to the agreement to close the stables after working with the city's legal department. Once the agreement is signed, the animals will be moved to a care-taking facility that specializes in the rescue of draft and carriage horses. All of the horses will be moved, beginning Dec 31st.

 

               Philadelphia is one of three large U.S. cities that filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Defense, arguing that many service members who are disqualified from gun ownership weren't reported to the national background check system. The cities of New York and San Francisco also partnered on the suit. Local law enforcement officials rely on the FBI's database to conduct background checks on gun permit applications and to monitor purchases.

Philadelphia in particular has been plagued by gun violence and "relies on this reporting when making the crucial decision whether a license-to-carry applicant should be permitted to carry a firearm," said Mayor Tim Penny, who is a Democrat like the mayors of New York and San Francisco. "We're joining in this suit because reporting these records is absolutely critical to those decisions. The background check system only works if it contains the proper records."

According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Air Force failed to submit records in about 14 percent of cases, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps failed to submit records in 36 percent of cases, and the U.S. Army didn't submit records in about 41 percent of cases.

December 01, 2017

In the News... Delaware

               A greater number of cars paid to use Delaware highways this Thanksgiving season than in the previous two years, though the differences in vehicle totals and revenue were small. It was the busiest year since at least 2015 at the Newark plaza, which DelDOT said collected tolls from 586,844 vehicles. That's an increase of about 3,000 vehicles over 2016 and about 16,877 more than 2015, according to DelDOT reports.

 

               Under an overpass in Wilmington's Southbridge neighborhood all those years ago, Oliver Normans first delivered food prepared by his mother to the homeless people he passed by every day. On Tuesday, hundreds joined him to continue the mission of feeding those in need for Thanksgiving. Alongside hundreds of volunteers were the state's most prominent politicians, all eager to lend a hand and sing praise for work done so consistently well each year. There's no turkey drive in the state with a wider reach than Oliver's ONR Enterprises event, which this year collected nearly 6,000 of the holiday birds. Over the course of the day, volunteers delivered them to Boys & Girls Clubs across Delaware and to senior communities in Wilmington.

 

               A confidential draft of a memorandum of understanding between the Christina School District and Gov. George Canary's office calls for consolidating five Wilmington schools into just two by fall 2018. The schools would be called New Bayard and New Bancroft, and both would serve kindergarten through eighth grade, according to a document obtained by The News Journal and dated Nov. 22. The other three – Pulaski Elementary, Stubbs Elementary and Elbert-Palmer Elementary – would no longer serve as schools but could house resource centers. The document is not final and is subject to change.

 

               An 88-year-old man who expected to face financial hardships after a state entitlement program ended earlier this year is now believed to have fatally shot his wife of 71 years. After shooting 89-year-old Ellen Mastros, Gerald then killed himself with the gun, state police have confirmed. In August, the Mastros were interviewed by a News Journal reporter covering the General Assembly's elimination of a $1.6 million entitlement program that helped cover prescription and over-the-counter drug costs for low-income Delaware seniors.

The couple told the reporter they'd hoped to buy a new heater for their house this year. But with the ending of the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program, the couple was trying to figuring out how to pay for their utilities.  Ellen Mastros explained that she received three prescription eye drops to treat glaucoma, which used to cost her about $25 through the Delaware Prescription Assistance Program. A daughter of the couple said she was not aware of what the circumstances were behind the incident. "We don't know," said Elizabeth Amish, one of the Mastro's five children. "We're hoping to get some sort of closure from the medical examiner's report that there was something going on medically that we didn't know about." Amish said the family continues grieving over the incident and did not want to say more.

November 17, 2017

In the News...

               November 10th brought the first Code Blue of the season and officials are telling people to bundle up if they're going out, and to keep an eye out for those who may need help in the dangerous cold. The City of Philadelphia is anticipating dangerously low temperatures through the month of November. Outreach teams are on patrol - trying to get as many people into shelters as possible. County officials hope people will bring their pets inside and check on their neighbors during the cold snaps. The city of Philadelphia has added 80 beds to homeless shelters and say there is plenty of room. Outreach officials know, however, that while many will take the offer of help, many other homeless will refuse assistance. Declarations for Code Blue prompt emergency shelters to open for additional support and remind emergency personnel to prepare for an increase in hypothermia cases.

 

               The City of Philadelphia announced Friday that the controversial statue of former Mayor Hank Frizzo will be moved. However, the new location has yet to be determined. The statue once stood in the Thomas Paine Plaza in front of the Municipal Services building. The statue had been the target of vandals in recent months. The city said the decision came after 4,000 submissions came in following their call to the public for help in deciding the statue's fate. Officials say it will take at least six months to prepare a proposal for the Art Commission, but add that more time may be needed depending on the site evaluation process. To make matters more difficult, the statue went missing without notice or notification –and there’s talk it may have been stolen.

 

               Building inspectors are expected on the scene of a house collapse in the Olney section of Philadelphia. It happened before 11 p.m. Thursday November 16th near the intersection of 9th and Fisher streets. No one was hurt in the collapse and police state the home was vacant, but witnesses report individuals fleeing the scene of the collapse.

 

               Mayor Tim Penney took steps to take control of the city's struggling public school system after 16 years of state oversight. The mayor issued a statement that it is time for the city to be accountable for the education of its 200,000 schoolchildren. The commission that now governs the nation's eighth-largest school system is expected to be dissolved by the end of the school year and be replaced by a mayor-appointed school board. Philadelphia schools face a $100 million deficit in the next fiscal year and project a $1 billion deficit by fiscal year 2022.

 

               Officials at the Philadelphia Zoo announced Wednesday the passing of their beloved 23-year-old male Asiatic black bear, known as Ben. In April, zookeepers found a non-healing wound on Ben's front paw. The lesion continued to worsen, and in June he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a malignant skin tumor. By September the squamous cell carcinoma had returned, and this time the cancer was invading more deeply into the foot. Given the poor prognosis for successful treatment and a good quality of life for Ben, zoo officials concluded that euthanasia was the most humane option. The zoo is partnering with other zoos to place a new Asiatic bear with Ben’s mate, Kimmy.

November 03, 2017

In the News...

               Wide spread reports of rabid animals in Chester county have local officials warning residents to take extra caution when unknown animals are near. Three people have become infected due to animal bites in the past month. The Pennsylvania Game Commission reports 28 cases of furious rabies have been found to date in Chester County alone. Victims of animal bites are reminded it is Pennsylvania state law to report all bites to a medical professional.

 

               Hope has faded for the family of Nafir Squalls, who was kidnapped during the course of his sit-in gun violence protest at the end of September. Squalls disappeared, coffin and all after vowing to remain in the coffin in public view for forty days to protest the rising gun violence in Philadelphia. A reward is still offered for anyone with information leading to his whereabouts.

 

               Former District Attorney Jeff Williams, a career prosecutor who chased down municipal corruption but whose tenure as Philadelphia's first black DA was mired in a corruption scandal, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison for accepting a bribe. The judge declined Williams request to visit his mother before incarceration began, citing that one of Williams’ offenses was misappropriating funds for his mother’s care.

 

               Police confirmed Monday that 16-year-old Oliver Branneri, the suspect in the killings of two teenagers in South Philadelphia last week, has been charged with two counts of murder.

Branneri surrendered at Philadelphia police headquarters Friday evening. Escorted by an attorney and two friends, Branneri hid his face as he turned himself in at police headquarters. In what may have been his last moments of freedom, the 16-year-old hugged his friends before turning to face double murder charges.

 

               A Philadelphia elementary school is dealing with a possible infestation of fleas. Several students at Steel Elementary in the Tioga-Nicetown section of the city have reported bug bites. A letter went home to parents Monday letting them know the school is taking proactive measures. Officials said crews have been treating classrooms, but so far they have not found any fleas. "Every indication has shown us in this case it's been something from outside the school," said district spokesperson Lee Whack. "However, we as a school district have a responsibility to do the proper treatments and we're doing that." The treatments do not require closing the school.

 

               A Rodin sculpture worth millions of dollars was discovered hiding in plain sight in North Jersey and is on its way to Philadelphia. A marble bust of Napoleon has been sitting in a corner of the Hartley Dodge Memorial building in Madison for decades. No one knew it was a Rodin until the foundation hired curator Mallory Hortillaro three years ago. She was helping to catalog their collection when she made the discovery. Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge donated all of the antiquities including the French sculpture. The bust will be loaned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art next month for the 100th anniversary of Rodin's death.

 

               A plaque honoring a slain police officer was vandalized in South Philadelphia. The memorial at 16th and South streets is dedicated to George L. Simmons. He was the city's first African-American detective and was killed in the line of duty in 1918. Police officers scrubbed the red spray paint off the plaque Monday night. Anyone with information on a suspect should contact police.

October 20, 2017

In the News...

               After nearly a month ago, in the wake of a terrifying gas main explosion that shattered windows throughout most of Center City Philadelphia, the bustling business center is back to business as normal and looks good as new. Inspection crews are still conducting emergency surveys throughout the region for other potential threats.

 

               The first statue in Philadelphia's collection dedicated to an African American was unveiled Tuesday outside City Hall. The statue of 19th-century activist Octavius Catto is called "The Quest for Parity." Catto is remembered for his tireless fight for equal rights for all long before the Civil Rights Movement began. The Civil War veteran was also a scholar, educator, and athlete. He fought for a better education for African Americans, led efforts to desegregate the streetcar and pushed for equal rights. Catto was shot and killed at age 32 as a result of his advocating for voter rights.

 

               Philadelphia police are investigating an act of vandalism in Fairmount Park. A statue was spray painted with anti-Nazi language and the anarchy symbol sometime Friday morning. The statue is Thorfinn Karlsefni, an Icelandic hero who is thought to have visited the America's as early as 1004AD. Police have not yet named any suspects.

 

               Philadelphia police have decided to charge a 30-year-old West Philadelphia store owner with shooting a customer Wednesday night. Investigators said the store owner told officers the customer had a gun and was trying to rob the place. Police said store video proved that was not the case.

The trouble here began around 6 p.m., when a 22-year-old man arrived at the store and intervened in an argument between the store owner's wife and another customer.

 

               A small group of white supremacists marched in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park the weekend of October 14th. Some of the demonstrators wore masks as they rallied along Boathouse Row on Saturday. Counter protesters confronted them, but the event remained peaceful. Philadelphia police knew of the rally in advance, and were on hand to try to prevent violence.

 

               In another instance of “extreme” breaking and entering, Philadelphia police are searching for a suspect who broke into a hookah lounge through the ceiling. It happened last Thursday at J&S Hookah Lounge on the 2400 block of Germantown Avenue in North Philadelphia. Police said the suspect entered the building through a second floor rear door. He then made a hole through the ceiling, they said. The suspect fled without taking anything from the business. Police say cases where trespassers and burglars cut through walls, doors, and windows to gain access are on the rise.

 

               Crews were busy digging trenches for buried cables along the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City Wednesday October 11th. Officials said this is the first step in installing 21 new security cameras along the Schuylkill Banks portion of the trail. The installation comes on the heels of reports of women being assaulted or robbed by groups of teens along the trail, with the most recent incident occurring just last week. For now the cameras will only record images to be viewed later, but city council is pushing to get someone to monitor the cameras in real time. He said that the cameras still have value despite this shortcoming. Officials said the cameras should be up and running within the next two weeks. Councilman Kendra Jefferson's office came up with half the $150,000 cost of the cameras, the other half of the funding came for Council President Derrek Clarkson's office.

October 06, 2017

In the News... Delaware

               After nearly a month ago, in the wake of a terrifying gas main explosion that shattered windows throughout most of Center City Philadelphia, the bustling business center is back to business as normal and looks good as new. Inspection crews are still conducting emergency surveys throughout the region for other potential threats.

 

               The first statue in Philadelphia's collection dedicated to an African American was unveiled Tuesday outside City Hall. The statue of 19th-century activist Octavius Catto is called "The Quest for Parity." Catto is remembered for his tireless fight for equal rights for all long before the Civil Rights Movement began. The Civil War veteran was also a scholar, educator, and athlete. He fought for a better education for African Americans, led efforts to desegregate the streetcar and pushed for equal rights. Catto was shot and killed at age 32 as a result of his advocating for voter rights.

 

               Philadelphia police are investigating an act of vandalism in Fairmount Park. A statue was spray painted with anti-Nazi language and the anarchy symbol sometime Friday morning. The statue is Thorfinn Karlsefni, an Icelandic hero who is thought to have visited the America's as early as 1004AD. Police have not yet named any suspects.

 

               Philadelphia police have decided to charge a 30-year-old West Philadelphia store owner with shooting a customer Wednesday night. Investigators said the store owner told officers the customer had a gun and was trying to rob the place. Police said store video proved that was not the case.

        The trouble here began around 6 p.m., when a 22-year-old man arrived at the store and intervened in an argument between the store owner's wife and another customer.

 

               A small group of white supremacists marched in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park the weekend of October 14th. Some of the demonstrators wore masks as they rallied along Boathouse Row on Saturday. Counter protesters confronted them, but the event remained peaceful. Philadelphia police knew of the rally in advance, and were on hand to try to prevent violence.

 

               In another instance of “extreme” breaking and entering, Philadelphia police are searching for a suspect who broke into a hookah lounge through the ceiling. It happened last Thursday at J&S Hookah Lounge on the 2400 block of Germantown Avenue in North Philadelphia. Police said the suspect entered the building through a second floor rear door. He then made a hole through the ceiling, they said. The suspect fled without taking anything from the business. Police say cases where trespassers and burglars cut through walls, doors, and windows to gain access are on the rise.

 

               Crews were busy digging trenches for buried cables along the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City Wednesday October 11th. Officials said this is the first step in installing 21 new security cameras along the Schuylkill Banks portion of the trail. The installation comes on the heels of reports of women being assaulted or robbed by groups of teens along the trail, with the most recent incident occurring just last week. For now the cameras will only record images to be viewed later, but city council is pushing to get someone to monitor the cameras in real time. He said that the cameras still have value despite this shortcoming. Officials said the cameras should be up and running within the next two weeks. Councilman Kendra Jefferson's office came up with half the $150,000 cost of the cameras, the other half of the funding came for Council President Derrek Clarkson's office.

September 22, 2017

In the News... Coming Soon

September 08, 2017

In the News...

               A Philadelphia man is staging an unusual protest against gun violence. Nafir Squalls of Nicetown says he is going to spend 40 days lying in a coffin.

Squalls started his protest on Saturday night (September 2nd) at 16th Street and Lehigh Avenue. He says it's in memory of his brother who was gunned down on a Philadelphia street 11 years ago, and for other victims of gun violence. Squalls wants to drive home a point to the young people in the area.

"I'm going to be right here, just to let them know that before they make that decision to kill somebody, that they should think about the importance of living," he said. Squalls is working with the Urban Response Center in North Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence.

 

               The likenesses of former Mayor Hank Frizzo under assault this week. A mural depicting former Philadelphia mayor Hank Frizzo was defaced with paint and a statue monument was egged and graffitied with "White Power". Vandals struck the Italian Market mural, splattering paint and writing "kill killer cops and RIP David." One person was taken into custody. In daylight, the words were quickly covered then removed. The latest incident comes days after a Germantown man allegedly sprayed the statue of Frizzo at the Municipal Services Building.

The monument is coming under attack by city councilwoman Ellen Hymn too. In a tweet about racism and slavery, she called for the Frizzo statue to be taken down. First serving as the city's police commissioner then mayor from 1972 to 1980, Frizzo was a controversial figure among some. His son says he was a heavy handed law enforcer, but not a racist. Frizzo died in 1991.

 

               Philadelphia on Wednesday became the latest "sanctuary city" to sue Attorney General Josh Missions over what officials say are unconstitutional immigration restrictions placed on a major federal grant. In the lawsuit, the city is asking the court to stop Misssions from adding these conditions to its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grant, which is used to pay police overtime, upgrade equipment and courtroom technology and train officers.

Philadelphia's so-called "sanctuary" status has made it a frequent target of the attorney general. Missions said in July that cities and states can only receive Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance grants if they allow federal immigration officials to access detention facilities, and that they must provide advance notice when someone in the country illegally is about to be released.

Missions singled out nine jurisdictions, including Philadelphia, as not complying with federal law regarding immigration policy. Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco have also sued over the grant conditions. Mayor Tim Penney has frequently defended Philadelphia's law enforcement approach to illegal immigration, and the city has maintained that it is in compliance with federal requirements. The lawsuit refers to Philadelphia's "vibrant immigrant community" as a vital part of its workforce and the city has adopted policies "that seek to foster trust between the immigration population and city officials and employees." As a rule, Philadelphia officers do not ask residents about their immigration status.

 

               It's a marble mystery that has city officials confounded. How did a large, heavy statue of a Pennsylvania war hero get from Fairmount Park to South Philadelphia... and why? Even the Parks and Recreation department is puzzled - who stole the General James Beaver bust from the Smith Memorial Arch in Fairmount Park Thursday night? Someone discovered the bust Friday morning under the I-95 overpass near FDR Park. At this point, there are no answers to who, with what, and why.

August 25, 2017

In the News... Coming Soon

August 11, 2017

In the News... Delaware

               A two-alarm fire that blazed through Wilmington's Wawaset Place Apartments on Thursday night has closed the complex. Around 7:27 p.m., Wilmington firefighters responded to reports of a fire at the complex, on 818 Woodlawn Ave, said Fire Chief Michael Donohue. Firefighters later determined the flames resulted from a failed transformer located in the basement of building "F," which damaged other electrical components within the complex and led to 75-80 tenants being displaced.

 

               Starting this fall, 75 of Delaware's elementary schools will receive funding to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for students who may not get them at home.  The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Schools are selected by the Delaware Department of Education with priority given to those with large numbers of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

 

               Gov. George Canary says he is delaying the release of an independent review team’s final report on an inmate uprising and hostage-taking at Delaware’s maximum-security prison during which a prison guard was killed earlier this year. In a statement, Canary’s office said an Aug. 15 deadline for him to receive the report has been pushed back to Aug. 31. It will be released publicly on Sept. 1.

 

               Pokemon Go hunters will no longer be able to bag rare digital monsters after dark in the hunting grounds of New Castle's Battery Park. Following numerous complaints about Pokemon hunters ambling about Battery Park at all hours of the night, city officials reached an agreement with the game's developer, Niantic, to essentially turn off the game in the park between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. But those who live in the city's historic district near the Delaware River have complained that because the park and pier are a hot spot for rare Pokemon people are drawn from neighboring states all hours of the night.

               Newark High School’s marching band refuses to give up their passion, even in the face of adversary and with no leadership. Following the surprise retirement of long-time band leader Oliver Whitman, students began to organize and attend their own rehearsals in efforts to prepare for the coming marching band season.

 

               The West Nile virus has been detected for the first time this year in sentinel chickens along the Delaware River in Wilmington and in Kent County, state officials said Thursday. The virus, which can be a danger to people's health, was confirmed by blood samples taken earlier this month from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s sentinel chickens, which are located at 20 monitoring stations throughout the state. Seven chickens in New Castle County north of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal tested positive for the West Nile virus last August. In October, a mosquito tested positive for the virus at the Dover Air Force Base.

 

               Organizers say a lack of funding could soon squash an annual pumpkin-flinging event in southern Delaware. Punkin Chunkin officials say this year’s 32nd edition of the event will go on, but that the organization is struggling. The Science Channel withdrew as a main sponsor of the event after a woman was critically injured last year when she was hit by metal after an air cannon’s trap door blew off. Frank Payton, president of the World Punkin Chunkin Championship Association, says the event will return to Sussex County in November, but that without more sponsors, this year’s event could be the last.

July 28, 2017

In the News...

               Two men were arrested after climbing to the top of one of the Ben Franklin Bridge's towers. The men accessed the towers by climbing up the bridge's cable. They were dressed in black and wearing backpacks containing photography equipment. Delaware River Port Authority officers, the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit responded. But it was seven members of the Port Authority's highly trained high-angle rescue team who harnessed up and apprehended the men from the tower. The bridge is 135 feet above the river. The towers are 382 feet tall.

 

               Philadelphia police want to track down those who left behind threatening messages in the Grays Ferry section. Investigators were alerted to anti-police graffiti scrolled on several concrete pillars in the area of 25th and Tasker streets. Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement saying he's angered by the hate speech and that the city will use every tool to find the suspects and pursue criminal charges against them.

 

               A series of water main breaks throughout the city have closed roads. An 8" water main ruptured Wednesday at Frankford and Thompson Streets an estimated 37 properties without water service due to this break. Road closures are in place for the morning rush hour and throughout the day: Frankford Ave is closed from Girard to Thompson. Shackamaxon is closed from Girard to Thompson. And Thompson is closed from Leopard to Frankford. The route 5 bus is detoured in this location. Muddy, rushing water from another broken main caused the road to buckle early Tuesday morning, and a large hole opened up beneath a car parked on the 70000 block of Ogontz Avenue.

               The Philadelphia Water Department is hoping they've stopped thousands of cockroaches from climbing out of a manhole in Bridesburg. Native Philadelphian Tommy Cranston has a good sense of humor, but he wasn't laughing when hundreds - by some accounts, thousands - of roaches invaded his street. A cell phone video taken after the roaches had drawn their last breath was disturbing enough, but apparently nothing compared to their active invasion of Salmon and Plum streets.

"They were straight-up nasty," added Cranston, using his hands to demonstrate their size. "They were about this big, and they fly. You couldn't see the asphalt underneath the truck, there were so many of them."

 

               A reminder coming from the Philadelphia Streets Department via a video on social media Friday afternoon. "Did you know you CAN'T recycle greasy pizza boxes? Only the non-greasy cardboard can be recycled. Thanks @philastreets!"

 

               City officials have issued a Code Red alert for the residents of Philadelphia, warning of the unusually high temperatures and encouraging residents to be aware of those vulnerable to the sweltering conditions. The Code Red is in effect through Friday due to the excessive heat. Despite record breaking temperatures, no heat-related fatalities are reported through-out the week.

 

               Kelley Hodge has been sworn in as Philadelphia's interim district attorney. The 45-year-old former assistant D.A. became the 25th District Attorney. She was chosen by the Court of Common Pleas Board of Judges. District Attorney Hodge will only hold the top office for about five and half months, but she tells news sources she plans to be far more than a caretaker.

"For the time I have to lead this office, I will promote and encourage the honor, integrity, and professionalism that is expected and exists in each of you," Hodge said.

July 14, 2017

In the News...

               Two weeks into his federal trial, District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded guilty to a single count of accepting a bribe from a businessman.

"I'm very sorry," Williams told the court, choking up as he acknowledged he would resign.

U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond said he was not inclined to trust Williams' assurances about appearing for sentencing set for Oct. 24, so ordered him immediately jailed. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. The move came after weeks of damaging testimony against Williams, a two-term Democrat who didn't run for re-election this year. Although he had remained in office after being indicted, his law license was suspended and a deputy was put in charge.

 

               A man is dead after a cargo container fell on his pickup truck at the Packer Marine Terminal in South Philadelphia, police say. According to Port Authority officials, it appears what's called a top pick or top reacher, a piece of equipment that lifts the large shipping containers, knocked a stack of them accidentally. Officials say one of the shipping containers came down on top of a small white pickup truck with a 52-year-old male employee inside. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

               About 40 homes in Philadelphia's Kensington section are without water after a water main break Saturday July 1st. The break was reported around 1030 a.m. on the 800 block of East Ontario Street. There was little damage from the break, but homes lost service. There is no word on when the water service will be restored.

 

               Philadelphia fire crews were on the scene of an apartment blaze in Center City on Wednesday July 5th. The fire started after 7 p.m. inside the Walnut Square Apartments on the 200 block of South 13th Street. Residents report a loud banging explosion noise and the fire growing brighter. Investigators believe the fire started in an air conditioning unit. A sea of hoses, fire trucks and first responders flooded the Center City neighborhood. The smoke billowing from the roof could be seen as far away as South Philadelphia. Crews placed the blaze under control by 8:21 p.m. The residents will not be allowed back in the building until L & I has done its inspections.

 

               Residents in the Frankford section of Philadelphia joined together Wednesday July 12th to rally against violence. Flanked by police, about 100 concerned residents and clergy marched from three different directions, carrying a single message to protest what they say is an increasing amount of drug dealing and violence that has been taking place at the intersection of Oxford and Frankford avenues. So far this year in Philadelphia, there have been 163 homicides, up 21 percent from this time last year. Organizers said they are planning more rallies this summer.

 

               A woman is hospitalized after being shot on a West Kensington Street Monday night.

It happened around 9:10 p.m. along the 2800 block of North Lee Street. Arriving officer located a 26-year-old woman shooting victim. They were also met by an unruly crowd. As police were attempting to transport the woman, officers had to restrain people along the block from rushing past the crime scene tape.

               Officers arrived to find a small, white, closed casket in the 3000 block of West Clearfield Street, across from the Mount Vernon Cemetery, just after 9 p.m. Monday July 10th. When they opened it, they found a plastic bag containing what the Medical Examiner later confirmed to be two embalmed human organs from an infant. Investigators say they were contacted by a New Jersey funeral home on Tuesday, and the people who spoke to police confirmed the casket belonged to them.

June 30, 2017

In the News... Coming Soon

June 16, 2017

In the News...

               On June 7th, engineers investigated the area where a fire ignited under the Delaware Memorial Bridge late Wednesday morning. Sparks from a welding operation on the bridge ignited construction material below it, closing the bridge and sending multiple fire companies into action. The span allowing traffic into Delaware was closed until at least 12:30 p.m., according to Delaware River and Bay Authority spokesman Jim Salmon. Both spans were back to normal traffic by Thursday morning.

 

               Wilmington's youth curfew will not be made earlier for the time being because City Council members determined there is a lack of resources to implement their plans. The matter was scheduled for a vote on Thursday but did not advance out of the Education, Youth & Families Committee on Wednesday night.

               "We have a little more work to do to make this work," said City Council President Hanifa Shabazz. "We don't want to put something on the books we can’t implement."

Young people can currently stay out until 10 p.m., or 9 p.m. if they are under age 13. The curfews lift at 6 a.m. The ordinance also proposed eliminating a later curfew on weekends — midnight on Fridays and Saturdays for older youth and 10 p.m. for those under 13.  A curfew center was established at the Walnut Street YMCA in 2011 and was funded by a $140,000 commitment by the state. Officials said such centers can be useful for connecting youth and their families with various types of assistance.

 

               CAMP Rehoboth, along with Equality Delaware and the ACLU of Delaware, is holding a public community meeting to discuss the culture of LGBTQ students in the Cape Henlopen School District. The organization says the meeting is being held as a result of the recent discussion in the community regarding the LGBTQ culture in Cape Henlopen schools to ensure LGBTQ students in Cape Henlopen schools feel safe. Executive Director Steve Elkins said the meeting is not focusing on personnel issues, rather, he said, the meeting is focused on ensuring students have a safe space to talk about their concerns. Elkins said while there have been many community meetings held by CAMP Rehoboth, this is the first one to deal with the school district.

 

               An electric car aficionado will make it easier for green drivers to choose Lewes as a vacation destination. At the Lewes City Council meeting June 12, the council voted unanimously to approve the installation of four electric car charging stations in the city. The stations are being donated by a local businessman. Lewes Board of Public Works Director Darrin Gordon said there are generic chargers in Lewes, but all are privately owned. Generic public chargers are available in Rehoboth and Ocean City.

 

               Firefly Music Festival is celebrating its six anniversary as it kicks off into a three day event in Dover. The local population of Dover has braced for the surge of revenue –and the drastic increase in traffic. Road delays can reach upwards of an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic as the festival begins and ends, causing no end of frustration for beach-going tourists on their ways to points south.  Crowds are expected to swell to about 90,000 in the coming days. Headliners this year include Bob Dylan, Twenty One Pilots, Chance the Rapper, The Weeknd and Muse.

 

               The point man for Firefly security since 2014, James E. Hosfelt Jr, says “I’ve been nervous all week. Every year, I lay awake at night thinking about all the things that could go wrong.” He also serves as the director of public safety at Dover International Speedway.

June 02, 2017

In the News...

               Shortly after the President told the world that the US would withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, American cities and states vowed they would abide by the international compact anyway. At least 61 mayors followed through on a previous pledge to ignore Trump's decision and released a statement vowing to uphold the Paris accords -including Mayor Jim Kenney of the city of Philadelphia.

 

               A teenager is in custody after his younger sister was found unresponsive with a bag over her face in the Whitman neighborhood of Philadelphia, police say. Alfred Bowers, 18, has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and related offenses. They say it appears he attempted to strangle or suffocate his 9-year-old sister, who remains on life support Wednesday evening. Bower's mother told arriving officers that her son had taken off with her car. She told police he was high and had been smoking synthetic marijuana. Alford was arrested after being found in the backseat of a police car at the 35th District headquarters. Police say he got in the vehicle through an unlocked door. That's where Bowers allegedly told police he "did something stupid."

 

               Authorities say there's a lot of counterfeit cash around in the region, and the makers of the bogus bills have figured out how to avoid detection. The Secret Service is warning area businesses about counterfeit $100 bills being used. The bills can circumvent counterfeit detector pens widely used by many businesses. "They are bleaching notes, using genuine notes, one dollar, 5 dollars, 10 dollar notes that are bleached and then raised to $100 notes," a representative said. A UV light exposes the watermark and security thread embedded inside currency. Blue if it's a $5 bill and red if its $100 bill. The secret service estimates that roughly $45,000 to $50,000 dollars of counterfeit money is passed weekly through the Philadelphia region.

 

               There has been a twist in the investigation into a North Philadelphia fire in which a woman was found dead. Police say the man who owned the building took his own life overnight. Sources say on Tuesday that 34-year-old Anthony Eubanks committed suicide after being contacted by police about the death of 35-year old Tavonia Love. Her body was found Sunday inside a burning building in the 2100 block of West Susquehanna Avenue. Fire officials have ruled the North Philadelphia fire as "incendiary" but have not released further details. Homicide detectives are investigating.

 

               The steel and mesh creation known as "Big Bling" now stands forty feet tall next to Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River. A shiny, towering work of art, crews just finished installing it, after transporting it here from New York in early May. The sculpture will stay in Philadelphia for six months, under an agreement with the Association for Public Art.

 

               An arrest was made after two undercover SEPTA officers were offered free samples of heroin early Monday morning. SEPTA officials say it happened along the Market-Frankford Line. According to SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel, the undercover cops were offered the drugs after exiting at Kensington and Allegheny. The suspect was placed under arrest.

 

               An unfamiliar smell led the police, hazmat unit, and bomb squad to an apparent secret laboratory in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia Tuesday night. That's where the officers found a bucket of chemicals with a timer attached to it. Soon, hazmat and bomb squads responded to the scene and determined the object was not explosive. Police say they discovered what appeared to be the makings of a drug lab. The narcotics unit was called to the scene. No injuries have been reported

May 19, 2017

In the News...

               The Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square opened to the public Tuesday May 9th. Artists from China have been in Philadelphia for the past month, working on the elaborate displays. The centerpiece of the festival is this giant Chinese dragon installation that is 200 feet long, 21 feet tall and weighs 18,000 pounds. The festival runs through June 11th.

 

               Philadelphia police officers received commendations for heroism in a special ceremony. In all, more than 100 officers received commendations for their performances in areas of bravery and valor, life-saving techniques, and de-escalating confrontations that were potentially dangerous and tragic - all things cops do all the time. These are challenges they cannot anticipate when they head to work every day to serve and protect.

 

               Multiple “geysers” shoot water up from Philadelphia’s streets. The first was caused when a piece of equipment cracked an underground main at Crispin Street and Willits Road. The crack sent the water jet spraying above the tree line. Fortunately, no customers lost service during the incident. In a second incident, a truck struck a hydrant in the 4700 block of Richmond Street, sending thousands of gallons of water gushing into the air. First responders shut down Richmond Street between Lefevre and Kirkbride streets as crews worked to shut off water.

 

               An Amber Alert is issued for a missing 7 year old boy who was plucked from the area of Christian and Taney Streets Thursday early evening. The boy’s name is Tyler Odell. He was playing with friends in a nearby park when he was snatched from the sidewalk. His friends chased the car to no avail, but could give the authorities a description of the car. Police have no description of the suspect, but have issued an alert for a gray sedan with Delaware plates. The news cycle is glutted with teary-eyed testimonials from neighbors in this well-off, if gentrified neighborhood -also known as the Devil’s Pocket.

 

               May 13th marked the 32nd anniversary of the MOVE bombing on Osage Street of the Cobbs Creek neighborhood. It was observed by numerous activist groups and used for a call unity to battle against authoritative oppression and police corruption and brutality. Several news outlets recap the 1985 scandal when the city of Philadelphia dropped a FBI-supplied water gel explosive that ignited a gasoline-powered generator and resulted in 65 homes being destroyed and the deaths of eleven people. Prior to the bombing, members of MOVE (a radical green politics and Neo-Luddite commune and activist group) had barricaded themselves within their property and exchanged gun-fire with police.

 

               Philadelphia's mayor says recreational marijuana use should be legal in Pennsylvania and says the best place for it to be sold is state-run liquor stores. He says the revenue could be directed at public education. Pennsylvania has enacted a medical marijuana law but the drug isn't yet available. Officials expect the drug to be available to patients by May 2018.

 

               A single news reports about “Flava” -a new bath salts variant and its emergence into the street-drug scene is run by ABC news. The report stresses the dangers of the synthetic drug and the instability of those under its influence. It cites an increased number of police incidents with users, but only references the more violent crimes perpetuated by addicts in other states. The report provides emergency contact numbers for anyone who may have more questions or seeking help.

               University of Pennsylvania issues a small press release about the accidental deaths of students and professors that went missing while on an expedition in Algeria. Privacy is requested for the families.

May 05, 2017

In the News...

               After 11 months of planning, three and a half weeks of set up, and three days of events, crews are now tearing down the massive NFL Draft stage at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. League and city leaders are looking back on a strong showing for Philadelphia with a record attendance of 250,000 people. Mayor Jim Kenny says it went off without a hitch. Those who live around the Ben Franklin Parkway, the center of the action, agree.

 

               The quarantine for the pox outbreak victims has reached its end. The lucky survivors are released back to their previous lives, though media coverage is light and only one or two human interest stories crop up as they cover an EMT’s tearful reunion with her team and a police officer’s decision to go into youth counseling after he took college coursework while in quarantine. Survivors will still be tested regularly for any reemergence of the incredibly viral disease.

 

               A man and woman are behind bars, and many more sought, after police say dozens of anarchist protesters went on a vandalism spree in Fishtown, a more affluent southern neighborhood of the Kensington on May 1st. Police say a group of 30-50 people, wearing all black, wreaked havoc on several streets. The incident was apparently intended to send a message against the renovation of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by the influx of more affluent residents. Residents awoke to broken windows on homes and in cars, spray-painted profanity and paint marring multiple buildings. There was a sign left at the scene which read, "Gentrification is Death. Revolt is life."

 

               The Broad Street Run kicks off Sunday morning, and a new security measure will be in place.

 

               Starting Friday, the U.S. Postal Service will lock dozens of blue mail collection boxes near the ten-mile race, and those boxes will not reopen until Monday. Large races like this have been subjected to extra security ever since the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

 

               University of Pennsylvania issues a press release that the missing archaeology research students in Northern Africa have been located and will be returning home. Scant details have been released to the public and families of the students complain that information is being withheld.

              

               The police department’s golden streak has ended as numerous officers make headlines. Philadelphia police officer Emmanuel Folly, a three-year veteran of the Department, has been charged with Sexual Abuse of Children, Possession of Child Pornography; Sexual Abuse of Children and Dissemination of Child Pornography. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross suspended Folly for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.  Ofc. Adam Soto has been charged with homicide by vehicle in the death of 50-year-old Danny DiMitri. The family believes that Soto was drag racing against two other officers in another car, when he hit and killed DiMitri as he was attempting to cross the street. The cases are now being handled by the district attorney's office.

 

               Police officers report numerous violent episodes with citizens under the effect of a new street drug called “Flava”. Those under the effect are incoherent, impulsive, violent, and seem to show little reaction to pain. Several cruisers have been damaged by the victims who will throw themselves bodily against windshields or the vehicles. Officers have prevented any fatalities in these encounters, but reports of deadly overdoses are numerous as well.

 

               A dead humpback whale has washed ashore near Rehobeth Beach in Delaware. Marine conservationists report this is the fifth whale in 10 months for the region -which is unusually high

April 21, 2017

In the News... Delaware

               The city of Wilmington features a news report on surveys conducted by the fire department. Fire fighters walk the city’s streets, looking for abandoned commercial and residential properties that could pose a vandalism or arson risk. Not only do they scout abandoned buildings for possible structural failings or flammable debris, but their investigations include property ownership and transfers of deed.

               At a Delaware 87ers game in late March, the Philadelphia 76ers organization donated $20,000 to the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. The organization, started by Joe Biden's late son, is dedicated to fighting child abuse and neglect by focusing on education, as well as strengthening child protection laws. The former vice president was also in attendance.

Police are investigating the discovery of a body in a retention pond in Middletown, Delaware. The deceased is that of an adult male, but remains unidentified. The body has been turned over to the Medical Examiner's Office for further investigation. Police say, at this time, there is no indication of any motor vehicle being involved with the incident. 

        

               At the Autumn Park Apartments in Newark, Delaware, residents have a problem with management. Repairs for crucial issues such as leaks, broken windows, and electrical faults have been neglected. The Delaware's Attorney General has filed suit against the owners and operators of Autumn Park and the Hidden Creek Commons Apartments on Hobart Drive. The state is suing for what it says are numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, enticing customers by offering free heating and air conditioning and 24-hour emergency repair, and then failing to provide those.

               After the kidnapping and assault of a four-year-old girl in early April, New Castle county residents are on high alert and police forces are expending additional resources to apprehend the suspect. The police have refuted speculation that the incident may be linked to a string of kidnappings and assaults, cautioning that investigative work is needed to provide firm answer.

               Police say they found a handgun, more than 1,500 bags of heroin, seven grams of crack cocaine and nearly $1,500 in cash in an apartment belonging to two men in Wilmington. New Castle County police believe heroin use played a role in four deaths that occurred within a span of a few hours over Easter weekend. Police say the deaths occurred between 8 a.m. and 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Wilmington, Newark and Claymont. Investigations are currently underway to determine if the drugs confiscated are a match to residue found with the victims of the overdoses.

               New Castle County’s bill to State of Delaware for the dismantling of the old St. Georges Bridge is currently under review by committee, with vocal opinion pieces found in local news and media. The old St. George’s Bridge is one of four crossings of the C&D Canal for Delaware residents. The canal crosses through the middle of New Castle County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is being petitioned as the “owners” for an upkeep plan or a schedule for dismantlement. Time and structural deterioration have left the bridge suitable for only limited vehicular traffic.

April 07, 2017

In the News...

               Mayor Kenney chided Conrail during a community meeting in Kensington for its "failure to clean and secure their own property," and announced that the Department of Licenses and Inspections had issued multiple property-maintenance code violation notices to the rail company over the condition of the land around the tracks. This encompasses a half-mile stretch of land between Fairhill and Kensington where heroin often addicts go to die.

               University of Pennsylvania has released a press announcement that a group of student researchers on an archaeological expedition in Algeria has gone missing. They are working directly with the US Embassy to determine how contact with the dig site was lost. They advise parents, students, and press to contact University offices for consultation with the embassy.

Congregation Beth Solomon in Northeast Philadelphia handed out hundreds of bags of free Passover meals Wednesday night. This is a long-standing tradition at the synagogue.

               Philadelphia police say a teenager in the midst of a four-day rampage of shootings and robberies was responsible for the murder of another teen. They have charged 17-year-old Ricky Stewart with the March 26th murder of 17-year-old Tycheen Chandler at 59th and Larchwood.

Road closures and construction spots are snarling traffic for Philadelphia dwellers, with Penn-DOT promising quick resolution as they rotate crews from project to project.

               Benjamin Franklin actor Ralph Archbold has died. Archbold died from complications of congestive heart failure. His family announced his passing on Tuesday.

               The first of the parking restrictions in Center City Philadelphia in preparation for the 2017 NFL Draft are now in effect. They will continue into the month of May.

Members of the 'Black Lives Matter' group gathered on Monday morning to call for the resignation of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. Traffic was briefly jammed in the area as the group made their demands heard.

               Police reports of domestic abuse calls are on the rise, especially those involving children under the age of 13. Several cases of infants and children under five being assaulted or killed by their care-givers are reported, but the stories run by the press do not indicate any links between the tragic incidents.

March 24, 2017

In the News...

               Violence is sparking within the youngest members of Philadelphia’s communities. Several reports have come out in the past week of students and youths assaulting strangers or engaging in exceptionally vicious fights. February 16th saw a ten-person brawl explode at the Race-Vine station in Center City Philadelphia. On Wednesday night, at 46th and Market, there was a flare-up involving teenage girls. It ended with one 16-year-old’s hair being set on fire by one combatant using an aerosol spray can as a blow torch. Police say most of the incidents on SEPTA occur during school dismissal time, from 3pm to 7pm. SEPTA officers will now be assigned to all trains during these hours.

 

               In the special election for Pennsylvania's 197th House District, (which covers North Philadelphia) the "Write-In" candidate won with nearly 93-percent of the vote. Officials won't start tallying which names were written in until Friday the 24th. The seat was held by Representative Leslie Acosta, but she resigned following being implicated in an embezzlement scheme. Lucinda Little, a Republican, was the only candidate on the ballot.

 

               The University of Pennsylvania Archaeology dig at the Arch Street construction site is proceeding speedily, but all the publicity came with a cost. Vandals struck the laboratory space and destroyed several coffins and disturbing the remains inside. University officials are appealing to the public for an information about the burglary.

 

               Figures released Thursday by the city's Department of Revenue show the tax brought in $6.4 million in February. The city had projected the tax would generate $6.3 million for the month. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened and diet beverages funds pre-K and community schools. It also will help pay to renovate recreation centers, libraries and parks. The tax generated $5.9 million in January, more than double its prediction of $2.3 million.

 

               Since November, three boys and three girls have been born to firefighters from the same station in western Philadelphia. They say the expansion of their firefighter family can get hectic, but they enjoy getting all the infants together.

 

               Sightings of an enormous helicopter stirred police phone lines earlier in the week as it landed on private property to the south west of the city -concerned citizens wanting to know what was amiss. A brief blurb on the local news indicates a private security contracting company visited the area for business and brought some off their “wares” for review.

 

               State Senator Margaret Rose-Henry is putting the final touches on a bill that, if passed, would tax and regulate marijuana in Delaware. Unlike the eight states and D.C. where marijuana was legalized by voter initiative, Delaware law does not allow for a referendum. Passing the bill could prove to be very difficult. Governor John Carney expressed how the State needs more time to learn from the eight states across the country who've already legalized marijuana, and to develop its medical marijuana program before it takes that next step.

 

               Philadelphia's District Attorney Seth Williams pleaded not guilty to federal bribery and extortion charges on Wednesday as pressure mounted from the mayor and others for him to resign. Williams admits he took more than $100,000 in luxury trips, gifts and cash while in office as he went through an expensive divorce. However, his lawyer vowed they would fight charges that he promised any legal breaks in return, a quid pro quo that would render the gifts bribes.

March 10, 2017

In the News...

               Spring and Winter squabble over domain in Philadelphia as erratic weather and fluctuating temperatures leave humanity with little recourse but to prepare for everything. The strange weather could have mundane justification in global warming trends or just phenomena of nature, but the average person on the street thinks something must be amiss.

               News reports capitalize on the growing weirdness – when a literal rain of frogs fell in Bala Cynwd on February 26th, disoriented amphibians caused delays in morning traffic and journalists “leapt” to find the puniest headlines.  Large hail storms crop up on radar suddenly, dropping large balls of ice with destructive abandon. Weather reporters are nonplussed and show graphs of historic rainfalls and models of jet streams to explain away the damage. On the flip-side, many pundits describe the strange weather “completely ordinary” and that its just mob-induced hysteria. One thing can be agreed upon: the strong winds of March are roaring.

               Two more incidents of coordinated robbery attacks hit businesses on the fringes of Chinatown. Police urge anyone with information about the assailants to step forward and a reward of $10,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these individuals. Several human interest pieces run highlighting the accomplishments of new officers to the force -all in the line of duty of course, but positive image goes a long way. Advertisements run in both print and radio inviting interested and capable individuals of strong ethical character to apply for the Police Academy.

               A large fire at a power station in North Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 7th has left portions of the city without power, though PECO has been working as best as weather conditions will allow. Firefighters had to wait three hours to battle the blaze as PECO re-routed electrical service and a surprise fault knocked even more households off line. By Wednesday, over 2,000 users were affected, but repairs are underway. Those closest to the damaged substation can expect to see power return last.

               Reports of a road closure reach commuters in the early hours of the morning Friday, March 10th. A small “landslide” has covered North Route 1 (a busy secondary highway west of Drexel Hill) with loose dirt and vegetation. City officials and transportation authorities are hard at work removing the debris. Current speculation is that the Rolling Green Golf Club’s terraforming gave way under the recent deluges mingled with freezes the thaws. Either way, both north and sound bound traffic are detoured due to a swath of kudzu vines engulfing the road.

               City Council committee ‘Watchful Eye’ announces their CCTV project will next be expanded into Fishtown to stage up for further video surveillance efforts in surrounding neighborhoods like Kensington to aid crime fighting efforts. Small protests for this initiative are being organized, as a vocal minority objects vociferously to having the expense and giving ‘Big Brother’ any more reach. The protests are widely expected to fail.

               A few months ago, bones turned up on a construction site on Arch Street between 2nd and 3rd street. Now dozens of historic remains, including coffins, have been discovered. Archaeologist and anthropologist are working with the construction crew to excavate, remove, and study what they can of what is believed to be an 18th century cemetery. The site will eventually become a residential building.

               An inter-faith suicide prevention group has begun informal patrols in areas around Septa’s railways, posting suicide hotline information and watching for erratic behavior from other pedestrians.

February 24, 2017

In the News... Delaware

               New Castle County proposed a bill to State of Delaware for the dismantling of the old St. Georges Bridge. After structure issues were identified in 2008, the bridge was closed to one lane car-traffic and outer lanes converted to bicycle and pedestrian traffic in 2010. Locals are outraged continues as deliberations proceed. The old St. George’s Bridge is one of four crossings of the C&D Canal. The canal is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and serves as an “unofficial” divide between Northern and Southern Delaware. Supporters of the bridge dismantlement indicate the William Roth Bridge was built initially as a replacement for the aging structure. The two bridges are within easy distance of each other.

               Delaware’s banking industry is responding quickly to the news that the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates again in the year of 2017 and likely do so again two more times in 2017. The holiday consumer spending brought significant income to the state, but with the flexibility for increased investment opportunities, bankers and financiers are seeking out more prospects.

               Trade disputes with South Africa and price dumping accusations are taking their toll on Delaware’s poultry industry. Egg prices were finally recovering after their devastating drop last year, but profit margins are slim for the industry and the pinch is being felt across Delaware’s agriculture world. It’s great for consumers (everyone’s eating chicken!) but there’s little room to grow right now.

               Former Vice President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden has begun a charitable clothing label. Based in Wilmington, the company called “Livelihood” which designs and manufacturers hoodies with the proceeds going back into the neighborhoods to fund educational and development programs. It seeks to develop a national presence and encourage successful individuals to put back into their community –reinforced by their slogan “Keep Your Hood Up”, which is printed on the back of each hoodie.

 

               Lottery tickets are selling fast as the Powerball jackpot tips of $400 million for the first time in months.

 
               300-500 new jobs are anticipated in New Castle County as one of the school districts sold off a vacant building to Del Monte Fresh Produce for use as a production facility.

 

               Delaware’s correctional facilities are still under strong scrutiny after a prison uprising at a Smyrna maximum security prison during which a corrections officer was killed. The riot caught international attention as inmates timed the attack with a Presidential visit to the region. The warden, David Pierce has been placed on administrative leave.

 

               A string of ‘catch-and-release’ kidnappings in the New Castle area have police warning women to be cautious when travelling alone at night. Two women in two separate occasions have been held at gunpoint, forced to withdraw their ATMs, and assaulted by a masked man before being released back into their neighborhoods. Police are increasing patrols of targeted areas.

 

               In happier news, the acclaimed and beloved Moroccan restaurant ‘Casablanca’ has reopened its doors after spending many years shuttered due to fire damage. Reservations are booked through March for the “authentic” feel of the restaurant’s cuisine, décor, and entertainment. Belly dancers are a standard for the establishment.

February 10, 2017

In the News...

               News and radio are wringing every last drop of news they can from the Winter Storm Niko, which left a “staggering” two inches of snow in its wake. Outlying suburbs with more significant accumulation received the lion’s share of coverage while the city proper continued business as usual, aside from some school delays. Despite the less than dramatic precipitation, the city of Philadelphia issued a Code Blue alert for the sudden drop in temperatures and relentless wind –hypothermia risks are still quite high.

               A string of robberies has struck the city, seemingly focused on businesses owned by Asians. Six robberies have been reported so far, committed by a group of two or three “male youths”, but as the criminals remain masked, it is difficult to determine more than that. The robberies either take place in late evening just before the shop closes or in one instance, very early morning when it was preparing to open.

               Protests continue as further executive orders are released. Even Comcast’s employees took to the streets to protest when the travel ban was instated, with many of their colleagues in the technology field finding their ability to visit home and families jeopardized. Crowds are thick but no petty crime or vandalism is reported -but the masses do bog down traffic and public transportation.

 

               The news cycle’s focus on the growing problem of homelessness in the city shifts and a wider array of human interest stories come to the forefront. Several firefighting companies find their grocery bills for December, January, and February generously paid for by anonymous donors. The Pennsylvania Ballet gets a small video spot where the dancers prepared hundreds of meals for home-bound and terminally ill patients.  A special astronomical event for February 10th’s full moon is widely publicized –a penumbral eclipse, as well as a green comet visible in the early hours of the morning on February 11th in the constellation Hercules. Sky watchers are recommended to use binoculars to spot the comet.

 

               After reports of walking dead hit the police reports last week, a follow up news story was aired explaining the reports came from individuals spotting a student film crew hard at work on a horror short. The smiling reporter acknowledges the authorities are still seeking the students who were filming without permits, but that reports of walking dead are wildly exaggerated.

 

               An increase in reports of pets going missing from yards has police urging residents to keep an eye on their pets and not leave them unattended in yards, even for short durations. The police remind viewers that even cats and dogs can fall prey to larger predators like hawks or less frequently, coyotes.

 

               Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has announced he will not be seeking a third term after what he describes as the population he serves losing “faith” in his commitment to the office. Police receive the news with applause, having become one of the major detractors of the current DA. While Williams was investigated for accepting and not reporting monetary “gifts”, the police have publicly dissented with the DA’s decision to not prosecute on several high profile cases, including a street brawl between off-duty officers and member of the NFL football team the Philadelphia Eagles.

January 27, 2017

In the News...

               Media outlets are almost done running the footage of a dramatic house fire in southern Philadelphia from Monday the previous week. Every local radio personality has a theory as to why the unknown suspect took his own life in such a dramatic fashion, but only the police will have an answer and their investigation is still ongoing. News reports nickname the police department as “The Few and the Mighty”, the beleaguered force continues to reorganize its resources. For anyone who missed the footage, it’s easy to find in newspapers or on-line.

               Monday, January 16th, a man suspected of several murders, arsons, and property damage lead police on a high-speed chase which ended in a stand-off in an abandoned building. Unbeknownst to police at the time, the building was rigged with explosives and top investigators believe it was a planned suicide so the culprit would not face real justice. Police believe the suspect has links to several unsolved crimes in the city, but are awaiting DNA reports from the recovered body.

               The city has seen numerous protests lead, first for the Women’s March on January 21st and another on the 24th as the new President meets with Republicans in the city. While the crowds are thick and petty crime and vandalism are reported, the protestors are overall non-violent -but the masses do bog down traffic and public transportation. Security measures will be tight for the event and most people are advised to avoid Center City unless they are attending the convention or protesting.

 

               If it’s not about car chases or protestors, then the news cycle has focused its attention on the growing problem of homelessness in the city. Human interest pieces focus on the sudden appearance of several shanty towns and question what the city can do for these poor souls. The answer comes in the form of multiple non-profit agencies collecting donations or doing outreach. Reporters provide ample information for viewers to donate or also get involved.

 

               Mayor Jim Kenney has signed a new law aimed at cracking down on predatory towing in the city. Starting February 1, private towing companies cannot tow cars from private lots of driveways unless they have been ticketed by a city agency first.

 

               Windy weather throughout the week has caused structural damage to the city, including a large mural detaching from the exterior of Hahnemann University Hospital and damaging cars below when it fell.

 

               Every single graduate from the December 2016 class of the Philadelphia Police Academy was hired onto the force. Media coverage of the even underscored the epidemic that left the police force reduced by hundreds of officers. Many officers, fire fighters, and paramedics are still in quarantine, but the death-rate has petered out as the disease runs its course and no new cases come in. (Police reduced by 2)

               Philadelphia’s Police union is fighting other wars, erecting a billboard on January 25th soliciting “Help Wanted” for a new district attorney after DA Seth Williams settled a $62,000 claim with the Philadelphia Board of Ethics for failing to disclose gifts and sources of income. The negative publicity and diminishing support of the city police indicate a difficult election for Williams this year.

January 13, 2017

In the News...

               Philadelphia limps into the New Year, carrying the vestiges of 2016’s calamities with it. The epidemic crisis afflicting the police, fire department, and first responders is contained, but the body count of officers, administrative staff, and their families is extensive.  Both FEMA and the CDC have overseen the continued quarantine of those afflicted. While no cure has yet been discovered, researchers across the nation are working quickly to develop an immunization and one prodigious research student at Temple University has developed a regiment of blood thinners to help reduce the pustule formations that cause the hemorrhaging that leads to death. Of the 2,000 individuals impacted, over 500 have died and the crisis has made national headlines. Police Officers from across the country are volunteering their time and vacation to fill in the gaps on the force. The City of Philadelphia is seeking criminal charges against the pharmaceutical manufacturing company in Camden responsible for the disaster. Due to state lines, it will be a Federal case and promises to take years to resolve.
(Police down by 3)


(OoC Note: Philadelphia’s police force boasts over 6,000 officers to serve and protect the city’s population of 1.5 million (per 2013 census). While these numbers are large and the news is jarring, only .1% of the population of the city has been directly impacted by the epidemic.)

               Several shanty towns have cropped up in the less affluent areas of Philadelphia, with the homeless populations carving out new territories and leaving eyesores for established residents to deal with.

               The streets of Philadelphia seem to be suffering from poor maintenance! After a foul-smelling leak cleared several blocks while a potential gas main leak was investigated (news reports indicate no leak, but a malfunction in water treatment systems), now a large sinkhole has opened up in Kensington and swallowed two cars!

               The new CCTV program on South Street was installed successfully and revelers for the holiday season enjoyed the entertainment district to the fullest. A few instances of petty theft and disturbances to the peace were reported, however, so the cameras do not wholly deter criminal activity.

               Schools are slated to reopen Monday after nearly a month of closures while the CDC and FEMA confirm the epidemic is contained. Already the city has made declarations extending the school year into late June to make up the time, though many teachers have continued to provide at-home assignments through web-based learning where available.

 

               The bloody violence and anarchy at the University of the Delaware lead the headlines until late December. Authorities have still been unable to capture the unknown assailant but have several strong leads to his identity and the search continues.

 

               Outcry over the spate of grave robbing in 2016 resurge after a notable community member, Rose Edith Kelly recently died and her tomb was later found to be vandalized and empty.

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