DelDOT ready for anticipated snow storm

By Shanaomalley 5:56pm, March 4, 2015 - Updated 6:22pm, March 4, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Shana O'Malley reports
The salt is loaded, the trucks are fueled, and Delaware Department of Transportation workers are ready to tackle whatever mother nature brings to Delaware.

Forecasters are predicting several inches of snow accumulation beginning after midnight Thursday, and DelDOT has more than 330 trucks ready to deploy across the state.

Depending on when the snow hits, it could be mean a messy morning commute for drivers.

Mark Alexander, director of maintenance and operations for DelDOT, had a few tips to avoid potential accidents with snow plows on the road.

"Give our drivers plenty of room, stay away from the plow train, stay away from truck's spreading equipment," he said. "You would be amazed at the number of accidents we end up having for vehicles trying to get around us and end up hitting our plows."

He said mechanic crews will be stationed throughout Delaware to work on trucks that breakdown throughout the storm.

"During the course of a storm you have many things go wrong, it could be something major, it could be something as simple as the wiper motors are shot or the defrosters are messed up."

If a truck breaks down or gets a flat tire, crews might have to go out to fix it. Alexander said motorists should use extreme caution if they see DelDOT crews working on vehicles.

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Contact Shana O'Malley at somalley@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @shanaomalley.


Delmarva Power says it's prepped and ready for snow

By Frank Gerace 11:24pm, March 4, 2015
Delmarva Power says it's ready for the approaching snowstorm,and has some tips to help you prep, too.

The utility announced Wednesday it's in contact with local emergency management officials about the weather.

Delmarva reminds you wet snow and ice can weigh down tree limbs and bring them into contact with electrical lines, causing power outages, and trees weakened by previous storms can cause outages by falling onto power lines and equipment.

You can report an outage in New Castle, Cecil or Harford Counties by calling 1-800-898-8042--the number for Kent and Sussex Counties in Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore is 1-800-898-8045.

To protect electronic equipment, unplug it or use surge suppressors--Delmarva also recommends an uninterruptible power supply for temporary battery backup.

If you need to use a portable generator, Delmarva says you should follow the manufacturer's instructions and only use it when necessary, and if some of your basement appliances are prone to flood damage, turn them off when it's safe to do so.



Up to 10 inches of snow expected, messy morning commute

By DJ McAneny 5:21pm, March 4, 2015 - Updated 6:32pm, March 4, 2015
Up to 10 inches of snow is expected in northern Delaware. (Graphic/AccuWeather)
The rain continues to fall, but by Thursday morning, all that precipitation will be snow just in time for the morning commute and, throughout the day, the region should see between 6" and 10" of snow, which would be the most significant totals so far this winter.

AccuWeather meteorologist Danielle Knittle said the early portion of the morning commute shouldn't be too terrible, but as the day progresses, conditions will worsen.

"I think right off the bat here with the morning rush, we're going to be dealing with some slick spots and some minor accumulation," Knittle said. "But as we work our way into the middle and latter part of the afternoon, we're really going to finally see (a bigger increase) in terms of our accumulation."

Check the WDEL SnoWatch list for any closings or cancellations.

The start time to the first solid precipitation is currently estimated at between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., with rain transitioning over to wet snow and sleet first, before turning to just plain old snow later in the morning. From there, it'll hang around long enough to cause issues during the evening commute as well.

"And then that snow continues throughout the day (Thursday)," Knittle said. "It looks like it'll still be in the area, I'd say, even into at least the first part of the evening rush (Thursday) night. It looks like we're also going to be in the heart of the snow here, with this system looking (to bring) anywhere between 6" to perhaps up to 10" of snow in some spots here around the area."

Knittle said temperatures should hang around the low 30s to start Thursday, before dropping into the mid-20s and then tying a record low--and possibly even breaking that--Thursday night with 11 degrees.

The skies give way to sunshine for Friday, though temperatures will remain low, somewhere in the upper 20s, and heading into the weekend, things could become positively balmy, reaching the upper 30s.


Wilmington officials offer tips on snow safety

By Tom Lehman 5:56pm, March 4, 2015
With several inches of snow forecast for the Wilmington area on Thursday, officials are asking residents to be prepared for the storm and take steps to help keep themselves and neighbors safe.

George Giles, director of Wilmington's Office of Emergency Management, said residents should make sure they and their families are safely able to ride out the storm.

"If they need to check on elderly people around their house--neighbors or family members--we ask that they check on them," he said.

Officials also asked residents to be on the lookout for snow-covered fire hydrants.

If a hydrant that has been covered in snow or plowed in, Giles asked that residents dig them out or call the emergency operations department at 302.576.3917.

"Either our fire department or water crews will come out to make sure that hydrant is operational," he said.

Residents were also asked to not place snow shoveled from sidewalks into the streets because city and state plow trucks will be working to clear roadways.


Newark calls snow emergency

By Amy Cherry 5:58pm, March 4, 2015 - Updated 6:21pm, March 4, 2015
A snow emergency will go into effect Thursday morning in Newark, the city said.

The emergency will go into effect at 1 a.m. The city said full crews will initiative a level 3 response to the snowstorm with a mission of keeping primary roads passable for emergency access. Secondary roads won't be plowed until the snowstorm stops.

The city is working with the University of Delaware for those who park on snow emergency routes to be able to park in the Trabant Center garage. If UD closes Thursday, the garage will be open to the public.

For more information on snow emergency routes click here.

The city's recycling schedule will be postponed until Friday as a result of the storm.

Newark is also reminding residents that all sidewalks must be clear of snow and ice 24 hours after the storm hits; citations will be issued for non-compliance.

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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.


Amtrak to operate on a modified schedule throughout Delaware region during snowstorm

By DJ McAneny 4:25pm, March 4, 2015
Amtrak announced Wednesday afternoon that its Northeast Corridor service will operate on a modified schedule Thursday in anticipation of the forecasted winter storm expected to impact the region.

The frequency of running trains has been decreased, but a combination of Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains are currently planned to be operational throughout the day. New York City and Washington, D.C., should see the highest impact, the agency said.

Keystone Service will also be impacted between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia/New York City, additionally operating on a modified schedule.

The Downeaster Service between Brunswick, Maine, and Boston, Shuttle Service between Springfield, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Connecticut, and Empire Service between New York City and Buffalo/Niagara Falls all presently should operate on a full schedule.

Passengers with reservations on trains that are being modified will be contacted and accommodated on trains with similar departure times. Anyone planning to travel should check their train status prior to departing, allow extra time to get to the station and be extremely careful in stations and on platforms.


Dover Police charge man in connection to armed holdup of women, baby in library parking lot

By DJ McAneny 2:19pm, March 4, 2015
Matthew Gannon/Courtesy Dover Police
A 30-year-old man wanted in connection to holding up two women and a baby at gunpoint in the parking lot of the Dover Library was apprehended Wednesday, police announced later that same day.

According to authorities, Matthew Gannon was arrested at approximately 8 a.m. by Dover Police officers while he was waiting at a bus station at the corner of Queen and Water streets.

Gannon allegedly approached two women exiting a vehicle in the parking lot of the Dover Library with an 11-month-old baby in tow and stuck a gun in the side of one of the women, demanding her wallet from the center console.

Gannon faces charges of first-degree robbery, possession of a deadly weapon during commission of a felony, aggravated menacing, second-degree conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child. Bond information was unavailable Wednesday afternoon.


EdWatch: Hip hop science show teaches kids about physics

By Amy Cherry 11:21pm, March 3, 2015 - Updated 11:03am, March 4, 2015
VIDEO: Check out an interactive science show that stopped in Brandywine Hundred as part of its U.S. tour.
Hundreds of kids at Talley Middle School learned about the laws of motion in a fun, interactive way. WDEL's Amy Cherry has more in this week's WDEL Delaware EducationWatch.

Click here to listen



All eyes were fixed on the stage as three performers rapped and danced to engrain Sir Isaac Newton's laws of motion into students' minds.

"Each action has a reaction," said seventh grader Kyle Simpson, a volunteer member of the demonstration.

Simpson was instructed to run and jump into a sticky wall to see whether an outside force can stop a person in motion. He was skeptical at first.

"How am I going to do this," he asked. "What if I don't stick, and then I fall?"

Seventh grader Justin Mimms wasn't so confident that he wouldn't just land flat on his face by jumping into the wall.

"I was a little nervous, but then, after I did it the first time, I wasn't really nervous, and then I just got used to it," he said.

Kyle Simpson sticks to the wall as part of a science experiment.
Click to interact

Mimms beat out Simpson in a competition by jumping higher.

"Force equals mass times acceleration, I will know that."

Sixth grader Jada Hunt took part in a different experiment. She kicked soccer balls into a goal on stage until a ball four times her size was brought on stage.

"The first two were easy to kick because they were much smaller, but then when I got to the big one, it's like it was filled with sand so I couldn't really kick it," she said. "You need a bigger force to put it in motion to move the ball."

For some students, this was their first exposure to the great Sir Isaac Newton.

"I never knew who he was, I just found out about him today," said Hunt.

John James (J.J.), FMA Live show captain, said the tour hadn't been to a Delaware school since 2009.

"We are demystifying physics and science and we're making it simple for them not only to relate to, but to be able to apply later on," he said.

Johnson said Newton's 300-year-old laws of physics can be translated into all kinds of careers.

"Science is in athletics and sports; science is in engineering and careers that if you want to go and fix things with your hands or if you want to sing or do music, there's science there," said James. "So the best thing about it is, even if you're not into what you think science is limited to, science is everywhere."

The FMA Live spring tour, sponsored by Honeywell and NASA, aims to make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) more interesting for students like Mimms, who will often say science isn't really their favorite subject.

"They add a little song and dance, and I like music a lot and I usually remember songs like jingles and stuff like that. It made it fun for me," said Mimms, who joked he'll be singing the songs in his sleep.

"Most kids will sit in science class and just be like 'Oh my gosh, I don't want to be in here,'" said Hunt. "But since they made it into a little show and a little skit, they kind of made it more fun."

The FMA Live tour, in its 11th year, is scheduled to present at Cab Calloway School for the Arts Wednesday and at Skyline Middle School Thursday.



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Contact Amy Cherry at acherry@wdel.com or follow her on Twitter at @acherry13.



Cops: Dover man, 26, busted with 641 bags of heroin weighing almost 10 grams

By DJ McAneny 2:01pm, March 4, 2015
Tarae Ingram/Courtesy Dover Police Department
A 26-year-old Dover man was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he was allegedly found with almost 10 grams of heroin packaged for sale on his person, city police announced Wednesday.

According to authorities, officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop at approximately 2:27 p.m. on a gold Jeep Liberty in the area of Martin Luther King Boulevard and River Road, but the operator refused to stop.

The driver, identified by authorities as Tarae Ingram, of the 400 block of River Road, fled in the direction of the Capital Green Development and drove his vehicle towards the rear of Admiral Tire before fleeing on foot, police said.

Following a brief pursuit, officers subdued Ingram without further incident and allegedly found him to be in possession of 9.6 grams of heroin packaged in 641 separate bags, prepared for sale.

Ingram was charged with possession of heroin-Tier 5 quantity, possession with the intent to deliver heroin, disregarding a police officer signal, resisting arrest, possession of a drug paraphernalia, reckless driving, and failure to stop at a stop sign. He was committed to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna in lieu of $71,602 secured bond.


More than $15K in overdue bills charged to Wilmington councilman now paid

By Tom Lehman 1:48am, March 4, 2015 - Updated 11:03am, March 4, 2015
Councilman Ernest "Trippi" Congo (D-District 2)
A Wilmington councilman who owed more than $15,600 in delinquent utility bills that dated back as far as 2010 said he has paid the overdue charges, just one day after WDEL asked him about them.

Councilman Ernest "Trippi" Congo said the overdue water and sewer bills were paid on Tuesday, just one day after he was asked about the unpaid invoices for four properties on North Market Street and Douglas Street.

The city's bill paying website listed one of his properties on North Market Street as having 17 delinquent bills worth more than $9,745, with the earliest charge due in December 2010.

Congo said he was unaware of the overdue bills and would pay them Tuesday. City Spokeswoman Alexandra Coppadge said Tuesday afternoon that the councilman had paid the overdue charges online.

Account statements for the properties, including a pair of quarterly bills that were not due until the end of the month, showed no outstanding charges early Wednesday morning on Congo's accounts.

Despite owing money for bills that dated back to 2010, Congo said he had never been contacted by Wilmington's finance department about the bills, even though the agency issues quarterly invoices.

Coppadge said the finance department had a P.O. Box listed as the address for the properties.

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You can contact Tom Lehman at tlehman@wdel.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook..


Former Wilmington Trust official wants sentencing delayed

By Associated Press 9:04am, March 4, 2015
A former Wilmington Trust official who pleaded guilty to accepting a gift for procuring loans is asking a federal judge to delay his sentencing.

In a court filing Tuesday that is unopposed by prosecutors, the lawyer for Peter W. Hayes asked that his scheduled March 17 sentencing be postponed, noting that other former Wilmington Trust employees also are awaiting sentencing in an investigation of the bank's collapse.

Hayes' lawyer says his client is less culpable than other former Wilmington Trust employees. He also noted Hayes has been cooperating with prosecutors and likely would testify for the government in the event that other bank officials are indicted.

An indictment handed down last year alleged that Hayes engaged in several fraudulent and improper transactions with Anderson Homes, a well-known Delaware homebuilder.


'FREAK attack' flaw affected Apple, Android browsers

By Associated Press 9:14am, March 4, 2015 - Updated 2:01pm, March 4, 2015
(Jeff White/AP Photo)
Millions of people may have been left vulnerable to hackers while surfing the web on Apple and Google devices, thanks to a newly discovered security flaw known as "FREAK attack."

There's no evidence any hackers have exploited the weakness, which companies are working to repair. Researchers who reported the problem this week blamed an old government policy, abandoned several years ago, which required U.S. software-makers to use weaker security in encryption programs sold overseas.

Many popular websites and some Internet browsers can still be tricked into accepting the weaker software. That could make it easier for hackers to break encryption that's supposed to prevent digital eavesdropping when a visitor types sensitive information into a website. Apple and Google say they're distributing software updates to fix the flaw.


Waze map app to get Amber Alerts on child abductions

By Associated Press 9:14am, March 4, 2015
The Waze navigation app is getting Amber Alerts on child abductions.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is sending the alerts. They will pop up in the Waze app and be targeted to the driver's location. To guard against distracted driving, the alerts will appear only when the driver has stopped for at least 10 seconds.

Many cellphones already get Amber Alerts as text-like messages, but some users have turned those off. Google Inc., which owns Waze, already displays Amber Alerts with its Google Maps app and search services. The missing-children center also distributes alerts through services including Facebook.

The missing-children center said it would rather have people get duplicate alerts than none. The program has been credited with rescuing more than 700 abducted children in the U.S.



Flu winds down as FDA aims for better vaccine next winter

By Associated Press 6:19pm, March 4, 2015
The miserable flu season is winding down, but it's lasted longer than usual and federal health officials warn there's still a lot of illness spreading.

An aggressive flu strain caused most of this year's illnesses, and the vaccine wasn't a good match. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu-related hospitalizations of seniors were at their highest since 2005. It's too soon to know the death toll, but CDC has counted 92 flu-related deaths among children, close to the yearly average.

Flu viruses constantly mutate, and a slightly different so-called H3N2 strain started spreading only after the vaccine was being brewed - too late to add it to the shots. Wednesday, government advisers recommended adding that strain to next winter's vaccine, in hopes of better protection.

In Delaware, 26 people have died from the fluthis season. The death toll in Delaware this flu season has exceeded the four previous flu seasons combined.


Mouse study finds extra oxygen may spur tumor-fighting cells

By Associated Press 6:19pm, March 4, 2015
A provocative study in mice suggests something as simple as breathing in extra oxygen might give immune cells a boost in fighting cancer.

Tumors put up defenses to block immune system attacks. One way: Low oxygen levels inside the tumor can spur production of a molecule that blocks tumor fighters called T cells. Researchers at Northeastern University wondered if adding oxygen to tumors could strip away that defense. So they put mice with lung tumors in chambers that let them breathe oxygen doses similar to what hospitals deliver through masks.

Tumors shrank more in the high-oxygen group, especially when researchers also injected the mice with doses of extra T cells.

They cautioned the approach must be tested in people to see if it really makes a difference.



House passes Amtrak bill that could boost Northeast service

By Associated Press 6:19pm, March 4, 2015
The House has passed a bill that could boost Amtrak service in the popular Northeast Corridor while giving states more authority over the routes they help subsidize.

The bill was approved Wednesday by a vote of 316 to 101. It authorizes $7.2 billion over the next four years, keeping Amtrak subsidies nearly the same as current spending levels. Amtrak supporters had urged an increase in funds to address a backlog of infrastructure projects.

But the bill also would allow Amtrak to use profits from its Northeast corridor service between Boston and Washington to make improvements that could speed up trains and enhance service in the corridor. Amtrak officials have long complained that they've had to use Northeast corridor profits to subsidize unprofitable, long-distance routes.

Senate approval is still required.



Fossil jaw sheds light on turning point in human evolution

By Associated Press 6:19pm, March 4, 2015 - Updated 11:24pm, March 4, 2015
This image provided by William Kimbel shows different views of the LD 350-1 mandible. The scale bars indicate 1 cm. The jawbone fragment is the oldest known fossil from an evolutionary tree branch that eventually led to modern humans, scientists reported
Scientists said a fragment of jawbone found in Ethiopia is the oldest known fossil from an evolutionary tree branch that eventually led to modern humans.

The fossil comes from very close to the time that our branch split away from more ape-like ancestors that are best known for the fossil skeleton Lucy. So it gives a rare glimpse of what very early members of our branch looked like. Our branch is called Homo.

The fossil is about 2.8 million years old. Its discovery was reported Wednesday in the journal Science.


DiCaprio partners with Netflix for series of documentaries

By Associated Press 6:21pm, March 4, 2015
Leonardo DiCaprio is partnering with Netflix for a series of documentaries he will produce for the streaming service.

Netflix announced Wednesday that DiCaprio and his production company, Appian Way, have signed a first-look deal with Netflix for nonfiction projects. The company says DiCaprio and Netflix will seek to develop and acquire documentaries and docuseries "with partial focus on environmental and conservation themes."

DiCaprio teamed with Netflix last year to release the Oscar-nominated documentary "Virunga." In a statement, DiCaprio said "Virunga" "sparked a shared vision" between him and the streaming service.

The deal adds to a growing stable of Hollywood talent Netflix has lured to its expanding original film operations. Along with an earlier deal with Adam Sandler, Netflix recently acquired "Beasts of No Nation" by "True Detective" director Cary Fukunaga.



UPDATE: Judge: More time needed to seek higher Revel bids

By Associated Press 9:15am, March 4, 2015 - Updated 6:29pm, March 4, 2015
A bankruptcy court judge said more time is needed to seek higher bids for Atlantic City's former Revel Casino Hotel.

Judge Gloria Burns delayed a decision Wednesday on the proposed $82 million sale of the shuttered gambling hall to Florida developer Glenn Straub.

She did so after Los Angeles developer Izek Shomof expressed interest in buying Revel, but for $2 million less.

Leo Pustilnikov, Shomof's partner, said he's interested in making a formal bid soon.

Burns said she's giving Revel AC and potential bidders time to work out the best possible deal for the shuttered casino.

A new hearing is set for March 12.

Two previous sales of Revel have fallen through.

The $2.4 billion casino closed in September after two years of operation, and never turned a profit.


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