WDEL ALERT: Southbound I-495 bridge open, NB still closed




Southbound I-495 bridge reopens, NB still closed
By Chris Carl, Tom Lehman

Updated Friday, August 1, 2014 - 12:00am

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VIDEO: The first motorists cross the southbound I-495 bridge over the Christina River. Gov. Jack Markell and DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt discuss reopening the bridge.

The southbound I-495 bridge has reopened, weeks ahead of schedule.

DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt says he hopes commuters will now see some relief from what's been a "tough summer, traffic-wise."

Bhatt cautions that the agency will have to close the bridge periodically for minor tweaking.

"We'll try to do them around weekends, or evening off-peak hours. Having I-495 back gives us some flexibility on I-95," he said.

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Governor Markell visited the bridge to thank DelDOT workers for their efforts.

"There's still a lot of hard work to do to fully reopen this bridge, but we've reached an important milestone," Markell said.

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Bhatt credited good weather and dedicated construction crews for re-opening the bridge weeks ahead of schedule.

Earlier in the day six loaded dump trucks were brought atop the bridge for a stress test earlier in the day. The transportation secretary said he rode in the lead vehicle.

"We brought them out here and we stopped them on the bridge to exact the maximum amount of force and we had gauges on the bridge to measure it and the bridge passed with flying colors," he said.

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The northbound side likely won't re-open until September 1.

The bridge has been closed since June 2, after it was determined the bridge was tilting.



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Dangerous dog law loophole closed
By Amy Cherry

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VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

New bills aimed at protecting animals and people are signed into law by Governor Markell.

WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.

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Small scars on eight-year-old Riley Hover's face serve as a reminder of what happened to her.

"A very close call, and there was only a matter of seconds," said Riley's father, Chris Hover.

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Two years ago, she was brutally attacked by her neighbor's pit bull, breaking her jaw and tearing her tear ducts.

"We're just lucky that she's as strong as she is and that we're here today," said Hover.

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Hover of Talleyville is grateful for a new law that closes a loophole that's allowed that dog to stay in his home.

State Rep. Dennis Williams (D-Talleyville) is the sponsor of House Bill 297, which goes into effect immediately.

It's very clear, it protects the animals as well so that someone can't simply make a complaint against an animal that may be barking. It's really clear, but it protects children, it protects people in our neighborhoods," said Williams.

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Now, animal control can impound a dog suspected of being dangerous.

"It means a lot. If this happens again, hopefully, appropriate actions can be used against the dog to do what needs to be done," said Hover.

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The strengthened dangerous dog law is coupled with Senate Bill 245, which protects animals seized in criminal activity from automatic euthanasia and requires evaluation by trained personnel.

Other bills signed into law today include House Bill 311 which requires training for animal control officers and investigators. Senate Bill 201 was also signed, creating the office of animal welfare within the Department of Health and Social Services, which is charged with upholding the state's spay/neuter program and shelter standards law.



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Williams faces criticism, calls for support at town hall meeting
By Tom Lehman

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 7:51am

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VIDEO: Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams speaks to WDEL after Wednesday's town hall meeting.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams called for residents to support police and public safety initiatives Wednesday night, but also faced criticism from residents over gun violence during a town hall meeting.

WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.

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Many of those in the audience vented frustration at Williams and police brass, with some calling for the creation of a homicide unit. One person even told the mayor to "crunch salaries" to afford one.

As of Wednesday night, 15 people have been killed in Wilmington this year. One of those victims died after a stabbing, while the other deaths were gun-related.

Williams shook off the comments about a homicide unit and instead called upon the community to speak up when they see illegal activity.

"If I have 50 detectives and nobody would talk to them how could we solve a case?" he said after the meeting.

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Under the police department's current authorized strength of 320 personnel, Chief Bobby Cummings said he cannot afford to assign a group of detectives to exclusively investigate homicides.

"We can't sustain a homicide unit, but all of our detectives are capable of investigating homicides," he said.

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Rehertha Carmona, who lives near Trolley Square, said she felt the meeting was positive and the administration should hold more meetings like it.

However, Carmona said the police department should have a unit investigating homicides, citing her acquaintance with a murder victim's family member.

"We definitely need a homicide unit, we need to be upgraded," she said.

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Jaehn Dennis, President of the Vandever Avenue Civic Association argued city residents need to cooperate more often with the police.

Communities can help officers investigate crimes, Dennis said, by forming neighborhood watch associations and other groups to look out for illegal behavior.

"It will work. We've got to be able to pitch in and help these guys," he said.

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Although believing there was room for improvement from the police department, Councilwoman Maria Cabrera (D-At Large) said has recently seen progress.

Cabrera said she was confident in Chief Cummings and the department's turn toward community-based policing.

"I know it's going to take time to make a difference but these are all positive steps in the right direction, to listen to what people are asking: to see police walking, to go door-to-door, talk to people, build those relationships," she said.

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Phillies lose Lee, defeat Nationals 10-4
By Harvey Valentine/AP

Cliff Lee (33) walks to the dugout after being taken out in the 3rd inning. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Ben Revere tied a career-high with four hits and the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 10-4 on Thursday night despite starter Cliff Lee leaving in the third inning with an elbow injury.

Grady Sizemore had three hits and three RBIs as the Phillies pounded out 17 hits.

After throwing ball one to Denard Span with two outs, Lee walked off the mound, looked into the Phillies dugout, and tapped his left arm with his glove hand.

Lee, making his third start since missing two months, left the game, and the Phillies announced he had a recurrence of the flexor pronator strain that sidelined him in May.

Antonio Bastardo (5-4) retired Span, the only batter he faced, and got the win.

Gio Gonzalez (6-7) failed to make it through four innings for the second time in three starts.



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Sweet trip for UDairy Creamery's manager
By Mellany Armstrong

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 4:19pm

Melinda Litvinas
A sweet trip to the White House for the head of the UDairy Creamery.

Mellany Armstrong has more coming up in this week's WDEL Delaware Stories.

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As stunning as a triple-deck ice cream cone - the UDairy Creamery manager's head is still spinning from a visit to the White House.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime to be invited down there."

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Melinda Litvinas was one of 15 people honored as a "Future of American Agriculture" Champion of Change.

"The UDairy Creamery, it's not just making ice cream, but we're also making professional students," she said.

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"We're giving students hands-on experience and giving them as much information as possible in food science, food safety, entrepreneurship, so they can leave and graduate UD and move on to do their own thing and be prepared for their future," she said.

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And of course she had to show off their ice cream to the Delaware delegation in the U.S. Senate building and at a U.S. Department of Agriculture reception.

"We took Delaware River Mud Pie, First State Cobbler, and we took our Centennial Cherry Chunk, and they loved it, so that makes us feel good, too," she said.

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Middletown woman gets year in jail for embezzling
By Mellany Armstrong

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 3:05pm

A Middletown woman has been sentenced to a year in prison and must pay full restitution for embezzling thousands of dollars from a financial institution.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware says 47-year-old Kimberly Drummond abused her position of trust as a check processor with Discover Financial Services in New Castle.

The office says Drummond worked for Discover for nearly 20 years and began falsifying entries in Discover's books and records around November 2008. The U.S. Attorney says Drummond would deposit duplicate checks into her personal bank accounts and use the money to pay her mortgage and buy luxury items. She continued the fraud until August 2012 and took more than $350,000.

The case is being investigated by the FBI.






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Three teens charged in Newark robbery, shooting
By Frank Gerace

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 7:48am

Three teenaged boys are in custody, charged in connection with a robbery and shooting.

Newark police say the teens, ages 13 to 16, took a cell phone from a man in his twenties Monday afternoon.

The victim recognized one of the boys as a neighbor, and when he went to the boy's apartment building, the other two teens argued with the victim. As they were leaving, one teen pulled a gun and fired, hitting the victim in the hand.

Witnesses helped lead police to the teens, who were arrested at their homes Wednesday.



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Probationer back behind bars on weapons chages
By Amy Cherry

County police arrest a man on probation after he's allegedly caught with weapons.

Police pulled over Alphonso Williams of Wilmington in the Penn Rose neighborhood Wednesday because of his dark tinted windows.

Police say inside Williams' care they found cash and two handguns.

Williams, a convicted felon, is not permitted to possess a weapon. He was arrested and behind bars on $30,000 bail.



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UPDATE: Del. State Fair reports 25% growth in attendance from '13
By Mark Fowser

The Delaware State Fair says attendance for the recently-completed 2014 fair was up more than 25 percent from a year ago.

Fair officials say over its 10-day run, almost 282,000 people passed through the admission gates.

General Manager Bill DiMondi says the fair in Harrington benefited by almost ideal weather conditions on most of the days and nights.

Two of the headline concerts at the M&T Bank Grandstand were sold out, and one was a near-sellout.

Three offers are already in for artists to headline during the 2015 Delaware State Fair

Also this year, the midway carnival grossed more than $1 million, up 18-percent from 2013.




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WPD: Man arrested with gun, serial number scratched off
By Amy Cherry

A routine traffic stop leads to a weapons arrest in Wilmington.

Police pulled over Taryn Ross on the 200 block of Washington Street for not wearing his seatbelt.

Police say Ross was driving with a suspended license and had pot on his persons.

A search of the vehicle allegedly turned up a handgun with a scratched out serial number.

Ross faces charges of possession of a deadly weapon and drugs. He's free on $16,500 bail.



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Drug charges land probationer back behind bars
By Frank Gerace

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 7:48am

Dale McNeill
A man who was on probation is back behind bars after County police allegedly found almost 700 bags of heroin in his motel room and rental car.

Police say they found 57-year-old Dale McNeill in a motel in New Castle Tuesday, after probation officers learned McNeill had moved from his last known address on East 7th Street in Wilmington without telling them.

The cops also allegedly turned up 688 bags of heroin in McNeill's room and his rental car.

McNeill's being held at the Howard Young Prison.



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Seatbelt stop ends with crack cocaine bust
By Frank Gerace

Updated Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 7:46am

Ricardo Welch
A New Castle-area man is awaiting a court appearance after County police say they found crack cocaine on him during a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation.

Police say they pulled Ricardo Welch over on Moores Lane Tuesday because he wasn't buckled up.

The cops also learned Welch was wanted on five outstanding warrants, has a suspended license, and had about three quarter grams of crack cocaine along with drug paraphernalia.

Welch was released on $3,200 bail.



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Woman wanted for burglary, jewelry theft
By Amy Cherry

Updated Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 4:01pm

County police have released a sketch of a burglar--they're hoping you can help them find.

Police say earlier this month, on July 8, a woman broke into a home on the 300 block of Pentland Drive near the state line.

Police say the woman stole some jewelry and fled when she found a minor in the home.

Police are asking that if you can provide any details pertaining to this incident to please contact Detective D. Graham of the New Castle County Police Department at 302.395.8110



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Delle Donne scores 10 in return to Sky
By Associated Press

Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and 14 rebounds, reserve guard Allie Quigley also scored 16 points, and the Chicago Sky beat the New York Liberty 87-74 in Elena Delle Donne' return on Thursday night.

Jameirra Faulkner had 14 points, Tamera Young added 12 and Epiphanny Prince 11 to help the Sky (11-16) snap a two-game skid and move a half-game behind New York for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Delle Donne, playing for the first time since June 25 while dealing with Lyme disease, scored 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting in about 10 1/2 minutes.

Tina Charles scored 15 points and Cappie Pondexter had 14 for the Liberty (11-15), who have lost two of three.

Leading 65-61 entering the fourth quarter, Chicago scored seven consecutive points to take a double-digit lead with 7:41 left.

New York got no closer than nine again.



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Newark National hopes for return to Williamsport
By Sean Greene

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VIDEO: Highlights of Newark's State Championship victory

Newark National Little League hopes to continue its return path to Williamsport when they open Mid-Atlantic region pool play Friday morning against Maryland at 11am in Bristol, Conn.

The defending champions didn't have an easy run through the state tournament this year, but defeated host Woodbridge 10-5 on Monday to earn their 4th straight trip to Bristol. They became the first Delaware team to win the tournament four straight years.

Four players return from Williamsport: Brett Callahan, Jack Hardcastle, Brandon Sengphachanh, and David Hawtoff.

Callahan, Hardcastle, and Sengphachanh made up the top of the lineup in the team's four state tournament games. Callahan homered in Friday's victory over Woodbridge, with Hardcastle collecting the game-winning double in Monday's "if necessary" game.

Hawtoff, who plays a solid shortstop for Newark, showed his arm on the mound in the final game, entering a 9-5 slugfest and holding Woodbridge to just one hit while striking out 4 batters.

A notable newcomer is first baseman A.J. Blanchard who connected for three home runs, including a pair in the championship game. He went 3-3 with three runs and three RBI in the title game.

Will Dubecq could be a player to watch near the bottom of the lineup, driving in a total of three runs in the last two games, and four overall. Chris Thuys also homered in the first game of the tournament against M.O.T.

Newark National joined Naamans' 2003 squad as the only Delaware teams to survive the regional and earn the trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

The six-team pool play opens on Friday, with Newark scheduled to face four of the five other teams, none of which were in last year's regionals. The top four teams advance to next Friday's semifinals, with the trip to Williamsport on the line Sunday in the finals. The regional semifinals and finals will be shown on national TV.

NEWARK NATIONAL'S MID-ATLANTIC REGIONAL SCHEDULE

Friday: vs. Maryland - 11am
Sunday: vs. Pennsylvania - 11am
Monday: vs. District of Columbia - 11am
Wednesday: vs. New Jersey - 10am

Friday: Mid-Atlantic Semifinals - 11am or 3pm (ESPN)
Sunday: Mid-Atlantic Finals - 6pm (ESPN2)



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Newark National wins Junior League opener
By Sean Greene

(Photo Courtesy: Barry Miller/NNLL)
Andrew Emory drove in Nick Zegna on a base hit in the top of the 8th to lead Newark National to a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Connecticut State Champions Thursday night.

The opening game of the Junior League East Region saw Newark slide behind 3-0 in the first inning before tying the game in the top of the 3rd on a 2-run hit by Zegna and another RBI from Nate Hardcastle.

Edgewood (Conn.) jumped ahead 6-3 in the bottom half of the inning, but Matt Theodorakis began the next rally with a solo home run in the 4th.

Zegna tied the game in the 6th with a 2-run hit, and the game would go into extra innings tied 6-6 after 7 innings.

Zegna picked up his 5th hit of the game, and then Emory drove him in for the eventual-decisive run.

Nate Hardcastle earned the victory with three scoreless innings of relief, as Newark National advanced to a winner's bracket game Saturday against Maine at 4pm.



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Local youth soccer team to travel to Europe
By Sean Greene

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VIDEO: Cecil Select prepares for Germany

A group of local youth soccer players are in for a trip of a lifetime this month.

The Cecil Select soccer team is leaving today for an adventure to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland to compete against their local soccer clubs.

The team was selected after tryouts involving several local clubs representing Delaware and Maryland.

Besides playing three games over nine days and watching top teams like Bayarn Munich compete, the Cecil also has hiking and whitewater rafting planned on a busy agenda.

While fun will be had, the 12-and-under team is hoping to learn valuable soccer skills, and Joey Tanner of Newark says he's interested in seeing a slower, more precise, version of the game in Europe.

"I want to learn more about holding the ball and being more patient, as opposed to just running up the field and trying to score."

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Quinton Kramarck of Newark echoes the thought it will be a fun challenge.

"I think it's going to be really difficult, but it's also going to be really fun. We're going to learn a whole lot of new stuff that we've never seen before because they have a lot of different styles."

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It figures to be an amazing culture experience for a group of rising soccer stars looking to show their skills on an international level.



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