Voters reject Christina School District referendum

By Shana O'Malley 12:44am, May 28, 2015 - Updated 12:54am, May 28, 2015
VIDEO: Christy Mannering talks about the Christina School District referendum
Residents in the Christina School District voted down a proposed tax increase that would have helped close a $9.5 million budget shortfall.

The district will now have to layoff teachers and support staff and will make cuts to some athletic and after school programs.

Unofficial results, according to the New Castle County Board of Elections, were 5,074 in favor of the referendum and 5,968 votes against it.

The district saw a spike in voter turnout Wednesday night compared to a larger referendum that failed earlier this year.

"Last time there was a three to one vote against and this time it was a lot closer. There were over 10,000 voters instead of 7,000 so we did get a much greater turnout and we did get 'wins' in some of the schools that we didn't last time, which is a positive thing. I do think it was a much much closer race," explained Christy Mannering, chair of the district's parent referendum committee.

Mannering and a group of parents have spent the last several months doing community outreach for the referendum, which would have gradually added 37 cents per 100 dollars of assessed property value over a three year period.

She said the voting numbers show that there is a widespread community concern regarding the way the district, like many others in Delaware, are funded.

"We were able to get a discussion started that I feel will continue past this moment and that can only be seen as a win; to get a community engaged in the education of the kids and to get them talking about what can we change to make this better," she said.

The Christina School District said it needed the referendum to keep up with increases operating costs.


Contact Shana O'Malley at or follow her on Twitter at @shanaomalley

Renovation project begins at One Love Park in Wilmington

By Tom Lehman 2:59pm, May 27, 2015 - Updated 3:07pm, May 27, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
A groundbreaking ceremony for a major renovation project at "One Love Park" in Wilmington was held on Wednesday, as city leaders and residents looked toward upgrades that would remove the "rundown" label attached to the area.

The park, named after a song by the late Bob Marley, an internationally-recognized reggae musician who lived in Wilmington for a brief time in 1966, was given the moniker last year as part of an effort to revitalize it and promote values of peace and unity in a section of Wilmington that has experienced violent crime.

Once construction work is completed in the coming months, the recreational area will feature new landscaping, playground and exercise equipment, and a newly surfaced basketball court. The park will also have a gated entrance and a historical marker honoring Marley will also be unveiled at the project's completion.

Wilmington City Council President Theo Gregory (D), one of the primary supporters of the refurbishments, said the park will be transformed from its current state and hopefully become a family-friendly gathering place once again.

"We want to bring the park back so people of all ages can truly appreciate and enjoy this park," he said.

One of the major features in the new version of the park will be the addition of exercise equipment that residents hope will encourage more fitness from children.

"No other park in the city has that, and I think we're saying 'we're ready to invest in the community,'" said Kathleen Patterson with the Second District Neighborhood Planning Council.

The work will be conducted over the next few months but could be completed by late summer.


You can contact Tom Lehman at Follow him on Twitter or Facebook

EdWatch: Capital School District's program targets adult learners with ESL classes

By Amy Cherry 10:06pm, May 26, 2015 - Updated 2:13pm, May 27, 2015
A free English as a Second Language class for parents in the Capital School District takes place two nights each week at South Dover Elementary School. (Photo/Screenshot/Content Delaware)
Parents in the Capital School District, whose first language isn't English, can receive free help so they're better equipped to help their kids with their schoolwork.

Click here to listen

Education is like a three-pronged stool, made up of parents, students, and the school, according to Darren Guido, supervisor of instruction in the Capital School District.

"If our stool only has two of the three legs working...then it's really not a good system for the child," he said.

Strengthening that parental piece is a goal of the Capital and PolyTech School District's Family Literacy Program.

"It's unfair that some students get to go home to parents that can help them with their schoolwork, and we're just trying to level that playing field," he said.

Guido told WDEL that, even with 36 different languages being spoken throughout the district, they gather all of the "English as a Second Language" parents and children in one room, two nights per week, to learn together.

"Part of the work that the parents do is learning some strategies that they can use with their kids at home. So it might be a reading strategy to use," he explained. "Just to encourage the parents to read their kids, but then ask questions about what they're reading so they can interact with their child and the story at the same time."

He called the award-winning program "empowering" for parents.

"To know that when their kids are coming home from school, that they can help them with the work, it's just a big boost in confidence for them," Guido said. "Whether it's just talking about what they've done in school that day or having their parents read to them, we know that that's sound educational work.

The program, which won a Superstars in Education Award earlier this month, has helped 60 parents and 50 kids each year since 2010.

Former Delaware prosecutor disbarred after child rape

By Associated Press 3:29pm, May 27, 2015 - Updated 3:32pm, May 27, 2015
Daniel Simmons
The Delaware Supreme Court has disbarred a former deputy attorney general who sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy.

The court issued an order Wednesday disbarring Daniel Simmons, who consented to the action.

Simmons pleaded guilty in March to one count of fourth-degree rape. He faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced on June 16 and must register as a sex offender. In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped three other counts of fourth-degree rape against Simmons, who worked in the Justice Department's misdemeanor trial unit.

Police said Simmons, a college student named Matthew Coogan, and the boy had sex last year in an encounter arranged through the social media app called Grindr.

Coogan is awaiting trial in July on charges of sexual solicitation and conspiracy.

New Castle County council approves budget for FY2016

By Tom Lehman 5:44pm, May 27, 2015
New Castle County Council members on Tuesday passed County Executive Tom Gordon's $256 million budget with no tax increases for the upcoming fiscal year.

Council approved the fiscal plan, which includes a $174 million dollar general fund operating budget, in an 11-0 vote and represents a .24-percent increase in overall spending from the previous year.

No adjustments were made by council members to the county's sewer tax rate.

A $60 million capital plan was also approved by council members for the budget year starting on July 1.

Two behind bars after state troopers discover Felton meth lab

By Frank Gerace 11:13pm, May 27, 2015
Two men are in prison after State Police discovered what they say was a portable meth lab in a Felton house.

Police said troopers looking for James T. Moore in connection with an alleged probation violation and Steven Jester on a criminal trespass charge went to a house in the 100 block of Cabin Ridge Road Tuesday night.

The cops didn't find Jester, but did find Moore and Darryl Cox hiding in a shed on the property, and inside the shed were ingredients and equipment for making meth.

Troopers dismantled the lab and cleaned up the shed with help from DNREC workers and Little Creek Fire Department personnel.

Moore and Cox were booked into the Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of bail on several charges, including manufacturing a controlled substance, violation of probation and resisting arrest.

Police said their investigation into the meth-making operation is continuing.

Pentagon: Military mistakenly shipped live anthrax samples to 9 labs, including one in Delaware

By Robert Burns/Associated Press 4:47pm, May 27, 2015
With the U.S. Capitol in the background, members of an the U.S. Marine Corps' Chemical-Biological Incident Response Force demonstrate anthrax clean-up techniques (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert, File)
The Pentagon said it inadvertently shipped live anthrax spores to as many as nine laboratories and has launched an investigation into how that happened.

The labs were supposed to receive dead--or inactivated--anthrax samples for research use.

Spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the Pentagon is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to retrieve the samples.

The government confirmed one shipment contained live spores and suspects eight others did, too, he said, adding it's believed there are no risks to the public.

The live spores were shipped from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah--a Defense Department facility--to government and commercial labs in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and California.

Contact with anthrax spores can cause severe illness.

Delaware EMA final preparations: less than a week until Atlantic hurricane season

By Andrew Sgroi 1:59pm, May 27, 2015 - Updated 2:04pm, May 27, 2015
Tropical storms are officially "on the clock" beginning June 1st--when the Atlantic hurricane season begins--and officials with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency are stressing the importance of preparation.

Gary Laing, of DEMA, told WDEL the planning starts with an emergency kit.

"Every home should have (one)," Laing explained. "That would be things that could sustain them for a minimum of three days."

Items to consider including are a supply of water, a supply of non-perishable food that doesn't necessarily have to be cooked, flashlights, and batteries.

"The kind of things that will let people have some comforts until basic services are restored."

Laing warned that just because last hurricane season played out favorably, residents can't afford to let down their guard.

"In the last couple of years, we've had some near misses," Laing acknowledged. "Any one of those types of storms could cause severe damage and it doesn't even have to be a hurricane."

He elaborated further by referencing a memorable and rather catastrophic storm from 1972.

"Tropical Storm Agnes went up the Chesapeake Bay and went as far north as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and even north of there," he recalled, "with the storm surge of water being pushed forward and the flooding."

If this season brought a storm that would make direct landfall with the Delmarva peninsula, Laing assured his agency will be ready.

"People who live along the coast would be given evacuation orders well far enough in advance that they would be able to get out."

But he stressed the real preparation and planning begins and ends with the resident.

"When you get an evacuation order," he implored, "do it as soon as possible. Don't wait around."

For more tips on how to prepare your family and property for tropical storms or hurricanes,

click here to learn more.

Carney won't support off-shore drilling proposal

By Joe Irizarry 8:17pm, May 27, 2015
Congressman John Carney in Rehoboth pushing against a proposal for off-shore driving as part of Climate Change Week. (Photo/Joe Irizarry)
Congressman John Carney reiterated his opposition to any off-shore drilling proposal in the Mid-Atlantic.

While in Rehoboth Beach as part of his Climate Change Week, Carney said he has serious concerns about the U.S. Department of Interior's five-year plan.

"We're at it again here as the proposals come out recently to include the Mid-Atlantic region, not so much directly off the coast of Rehoboth here, and the Delaware beaches, but just south of us," said Carney. "And that's a major concern since the Gulf stream runs up the East coast of the United States, south to north," he said.

Carney pointed to the recent significant oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, saying something similar in Delaware would have a really negative impact on not only the environment and wildlife, but also on tourism.

Townsend-area woman shot while exchanging gunfire with home invaders

By DJ McAneny 11:40am, May 27, 2015 - Updated 2:34pm, May 27, 2015
A 51-year-old woman was shot during an invasion of her home near Townsend when she pulled out a gun of her own and began exchanging fire with one of the armed suspects, according to Delaware State Police.

Three men reportedly broke into a home in the 3900 block of South DuPont Highway near Townsend at approximately 2:04 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, police said.

Two of the men were armed with unknown make and model handgun and confronted four occupants of the home--the woman, a 31-year-old male, a 22-year-old male and a 1-year-old male.

When the suspected demanded money, the 51-year-old woman produced a weapon of her own and began exchanging gunfire with one of the armed suspects. The woman suffered an injury to a lower extremity as a result of the exchange.

During the gunfire, the 31-year-old male was assaulted by one of the other two suspects. The suspects were able to obtain an undisclosed amount of cash before fleeing the residence in an unknown direction.

the older woman and male were taken by Emergency Medical Services to Christiana Hospital, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries. Neither of the other occupants was injured, and police aren't sure if the suspects suffered any injuries.

The suspects were described as two black males, a Hispanic male, and were all wearing masks over their faces. No further description was available. Anyone with information is urged to contact Det. Dan Grassi at 302.365.8441 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Millsboro man pleads no-contest to manslaughter in death of girlfriend

By Associated Press 4:10pm, May 27, 2015
A Millsboro man who was charged last year with first-degree murder in the 2010 death of his girlfriend pleaded no contest to manslaughter Wednesday.

Frank Davenport, 59, also pleaded no contest to possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony at a court hearing in Wilmington.

Davenport, whose trial was to start next month, will face sentencing in October. Prosecutors asked that he get 10 years behind bars.

After a four-year investigation, Davenport was indicted last year on murder and other charges in death of 54-year-old Holly Wilson, who died of a gunshot wound to the head.

Davenport called police to Wilson's New Castle County home, telling authorities she had shot herself, but prosecutors planned to introduce evidence of threats he had allegedly made against her.

Wilmington man charged with 1st-degree murder in connection to 2014 shooting death

By DJ McAneny 11:10am, May 27, 2015 - Updated 11:22am, May 27, 2015
Marvin Swanson/Courtesy Wilmington Police
A 21-year-old man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection to a December 2014 murder of a Wilmington man.

According to city police, Marvin Swanson, 21, also of Wilmington, was charged in the murder of Derrick Caudle, 43, whose death pushed the murder toll to 28 on the year and tied a record set in 2010.

Caudle was gunned down near Vandever Avenue and North Spruce Street at approximately 10:30 p.m. on December 19, 2014.

Swanson, in addition to the murder charge, was also charged with possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. He was indicted by a New Castle County Grand Jury on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, and taken into custody at East 24th Street and Lamotte Street by the Wilmington Police Homicide Unit.

Swanson was committed to the Howard Young Correctional Facility without bail.

Harrington man charged with 6th DUI

By Associated Press 12:55pm, May 27, 2015
David Dale/Courtesy Harrington Police
Harrington police said a man was arrested for his sixth-offense driving under the influence of alcohol.

An officer on patrol early Saturday morning stopped 56-year-old David Dale, of the unit block of Brown Street in Harrington, on U.S. 13 for speeding. Police Lt. Earl Brode said the officer noticed the odor of alcohol from Dale's vehicle and administered field sobriety tests. Drug paraphernalia was also found during a search of the vehicle.

Brode said a computer check showed Dale had five previous DUI convictions, the first in 1987.

Dale was charged with driving under the influence, drug paraphernalia possession, and speeding. He was placed in Sussex Correctional Institution in lieu of $7,001 bond.

Markell nominates longtime jurist to lead Family Court

By Associated Press 3:29pm, May 27, 2015
Chandlee Kuhn's term as chief judge of Family Court won't be renewed.
Gov. Jack Markell has nominated a longtime Family Court judge to become the new chief judge of Family Court system.

Markell on Thursday announced that he has picked Michael Newell, who has served in Family Court since 2004, to replace Chandlee Kuhn as chief judge.

Kuhn's term expires on June 4 and is not being renewed.

The 62-year-old Newell has focused on family law since receiving his law degree from Widener University in 1981.

Tracy Morgan grateful to settle crash lawsuit with Wal-Mart

By Associated Press 8:25pm, May 27, 2015 - Updated 8:27pm, May 27, 2015
Tracy Morgan (AP Photo/File)
Tracy Morgan said he's grateful his lawsuit against Wal-Mart over a New Jersey highway crash that injured him and killed one of his friends has been resolved.

The actor-comedian says the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company "did right by" him and his family.

Both sides announced the settlement Wednesday.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. calls it "amicable." Details haven't been disclosed.

A Wal-Mart truck slammed into the back of a limo van carrying Morgan and other people back from a show at Dover Downs last June. New York comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair was killed. Morgan suffered head trauma, a broken leg and broken ribs.

An attorney said the former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" star is still recovering.

Software glitch can cause iPhones to crash

By Associated Press 8:25pm, May 27, 2015
A newly-discovered glitch in Apple's software can cause iPhones to mysteriously shut down when they receive a certain text message.

Apple said it's aware of the problem and is working on a fix. But some pranksters are sharing information about the glitch on social media and using it to crash other peoples' phones.

The problem only occurs when the iPhone receives a message with a specific string of characters, including some Arabic characters, according to several tech blogs. When an iPhone isn't being used, it typically shows a shortened version of the message on the phone's lock screen. That shortened combination of characters apparently triggers the crash.

Affected phones will restart automatically. Owners can prevent the problem by using phone settings to turn off message "previews."

Don't delay: Study confirms early treatment is best for HIV

By Associated Press 8:25pm, May 27, 2015
A major international study said people shouldn't delay in starting treatment after being diagnosed with HIV.

The National Institutes of Health said Wednesday that study participants who started anti-AIDS drugs while their immune system was strong remained far healthier over the next three years than if they postponed treatment until they were weaker.

How soon should treatment begin? In the words of NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci, "the sooner the better."

U.S. guidelines already recommend early treatment for HIV, although government figures show that many people don't get that care. The study also could affect HIV treatment recommendations in other countries.

Most Recent Stories