Uptick in Wilmington cellphone robberies

By Tom Lehman 9:22pm, October 21, 2014 - Updated 9:34pm, October 21, 2014
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
A rash of cellphone robberies in the Wilmington during the last several weeks has prompted city police to issue an advisory warning residents to be vigilant for thieves trying to steal electronic devices.

Many of the robberies have involved pedestrians distracted by their cellphones. Sgt. Andrea Janvier, a department spokeswoman, said thieves often grab the phones out a victim's hands or take a visible electronic device from someone's pocket.

However, some of the robberies have involved confrontations at gunpoint.

Janvier said residents should be more vigilant than usual when walking outside, especially at night.

"Walk in pairs at night if possible in well-lit areas. If you're jogging, wear one earbud instead of two. Treat your phone if it was cash and keep in your pocket or out of sight in your purse," she said.

Although police said the problem has become a citywide issue, many of the robberies have occurred in the Cool Spring and Delaware Avenue sections of the city. The crimes, Janvier said, do not appear to be targeting a particular group of people.

2015 Teacher of the Year winner from Caesar Rodney School Dist.

By Michelle Provencher 10:25pm, October 21, 2014
Megan Szabo says she's honored to win the state title of Teacher of the Year.

"I am still in shock," Szabo said with a laugh.

Governor Markell announced Szabo as the top teacher in front of 475 guests at the Dover Downs Hotel and Conference Center Tuesday night.

Along with teaching science at Postlethwait Middle School in the Caesar Rodney School District, Szabo is also head coach of the school’s Science Olympiad and advisor to the National Junior Honor Society.

Szabo said it all started with one student's nomination.

"Deja Armstrong. She nominated me at the end of last school year, last winter. She nominated me to be Building Teacher of the Year," Szabo said.

From there, Szabo won Teacher of the District. Now she moves on to the national Teacher of the Year competition.

Szabo reveals what makes an outstanding teacher.

"People who are great teachers are people that realize the most important part of the job are their students," Szabo said. "Teachers who have that energy because they know that the most important thing that they are doing is shaping these kids."

The State General Assembly is giving a $5,000 grant to Szabo to use for the educational benefit of her students.

While not sure how the money will be spent yet, Szabo said she would love to buy additional laptops for students to use in class.

Szabo will also receive two $5,000 personal grants for winning the award.

Overcoming Odds: Eddie Drake's story

By Amy Cherry 5:14am, October 21, 2014 - Updated 10:42am, October 21, 2014
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry
Developmental disabilities don't have to knock you down. Eddie Drake is living proof.

WDEL's Amy Cherry shares his story in Part 2 of "Overcoming Odds."

Click here to listen

Eddie Drake spends a big chunk of his day clicking and snapping.

"Watch this. Put it in the bin, snap," said Eddie Drake as he showed me the work he does all day long. He's working for Chimes..putting the toys your kids want quarters for into bubble casing.

His father Bill says Eddie is very dedicated to his work.

"We were on vacation, just to give you an example, to Disney World. Now what kid doesn't like going to Disney World? Two days into vacation he said, 'Can I go back to work?'"

Eddie's favorite part of Disney World?

"Harry Potter!" Eddie exclaimed.

But his favorite part of life is payday.

"He know the work he does is going to produce a paycheck; the more he does, the more he gets paid, and that's important to him," said Drake.

Eddie is 45 and suffers from Down syndrome. When Eddie was born, the Right to Education laws hadn't been passed yet.

"Back then, there was nothing," said Drake.

The Drakes lived in New York and had to start their own school before moving to Pennsylvania and eventually Rehoboth, where they discovered Chimes.

"It's a dream, it's a dream come true. We were always looking for some place that would be loving, some place that would be supportive, some place that he could be productive," Drake said.

Though Eddie will never be able to work in the community, he's definitely productive, snapping hundreds of bubbles per day. When payday rolls around, just like the rest of us, he can't wait to spend his hard-earned cash.

"Every Sunday he looks through the paper, through the Best Buy and he looks for what DVDs are available on Tuesday," said Eddie's father.

Eddie always has a smile on his face, and he's quite a flirt.

"How's your boyfriend?" he asked me.

"He's a loving little guy, loves the ladies, as you probably found out," said Drake.

Eddie will need care for the rest of his life, and his father is glad to know that some day when he's no longer around, Eddie will be taken care of.

"That's basically my hope for Eddie to be happy and safe and productive as he is right now. Believe me, that paycheck means something to him--you gotta pay a little taxes on it, but so do all the guys and girls in here. He's just a regular guy," said Drake.

In Part 3 of "Overcoming Odds," Wednesday on Delaware's Morning News, hear Sammi Hudson's story and how through even a host of disabilities, Chimes helps to give her the best life she can have.

If you missed Part 1 of "Overcoming Odds" and want to learn more about Chimes Delaware, click here.

Wilmington compost plant ordered closed

By Frank Gerace 4:15pm, October 21, 2014 - Updated 6:24pm, October 21, 2014
The head of DNREC has ordered a Wilmington composting facility closed due to ongoing compliance issues, including obnoxious odors.

In a statement, the agency says Secretary David Small signed an order dated Monday ordering Peninsula Compost Company to stop accepting composting materials at its recycling facility immediately and stop producing compost by January 16th.

All compost and other waste has to be out of the plant by March 31st.

In the statement, Small says Peninsula Compost has "placed an undue burden" on residents of Wilmington, parts of New Castle City and New Castle County, due to "frequent uncontrolled odors" emanating from the plant.

The statement also cites other problems with the facility, including fires, larger-than-permitted amounts of non-compostable materials and trash stored there, and poor maintenance.

Williams announces open door policy for residents with questions, concerns

By Peter MacArthur 11:18am, October 21, 2014 - Updated 1:43pm, October 21, 2014
Mayor Dennis Williams is opening his door to constituents who want a few minutes of face to face time.

Starting Wednesday and every other Wednesday moving forward, Williams says he will offer those who come to his office, ten to fifteen minutes to discuss concerns and ask questions about what's happening in Wilmington.

'We won't be a closed, ninth floor, we won't be an ivory tower, we'll be open. And when people have an opportunity to get their precious fifteen minutes, I think you get a lot more out of them and they tell you what's on their mind and what you want to see done.

The first session starts at 4 p.m., then the next session, on November 5th, will be in the morning starting at 8 a.m. The sessions will alternate times every other Wednesday after that.

Ex-DNREC head, now chief at NWF, releases report on natural defenses to climate change

By Peter MacArthur 10:49am, October 21, 2014 - Updated 10:56am, October 21, 2014
Former DNREC head and current CEO of the National Wildlife Federation Colin O'Mara says a healthy environment can protect Delaware from natural disaster.

"In that state we were working very hard on making sure about systems like coastal wetlands and dunes and living shorelines and even oyster reefs. These natural systems that have the incredible value for wildlife and cleaning up water, at the same time have this massive protective value."

A new "Natural Defenses" report from NWF looks at the increasing risks brought about by catastrophic storms,

It also examines the investments states can make to curb the devastating effects of events like Superstorm Sandy, which struck two years ago, October 29th.

Harbeson head-on collision kills one victim

By Michelle Provencher 8:11pm, October 21, 2014
A Milford woman is killed in a car crash on SR-5 Tuesday morning.

State Police say Heather Harman,27, was driving southbound on Harbeson Road in Sussex County around 6:20 a.m.

Harman was reportedly just north of Carpenter Road and approaching a slight right curve when she collided head on with a Dodge Ram pick-up driving in the opposite lane.

Harman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Robert Klerlein, 49, of Millsboro, was transported to Beebe Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. He was treated and released.

Investigators say Harman was properly restrained in a seat belt, and neither drugs nor alcohol appear to be a factor in the accident.

Police closed SR-5 between Lucas Road and Carpenter Road for about four hours while the crash was cleared.

Troopers are still investigating what caused the wreck.

Ag Sec'y: record crop forecast partly due to "perfect" weather

By Frank Gerace 3:44pm, October 21, 2014
Delaware's Agriculture Secretary says good weather is a major factor in a USDA forecast calling for record corn and soybean crops in the state.

Ed Kee tells WDEL News for one thing, the amount of rain in most of the state this summer was just about perfect for both crops.

"The other thing is, in the last 5 or 6 years with corn, the hybrids, the varieties the farmers plant, seem to be getting better and better, have more disease resistance, more yield potential," says Kee.

The USDA projects corn yields of 175 bushels per acre, up 5 bushels from September's forecast, while soybean yields are forecast at 46 bushels per acre, up 2 bushels from last month.

Kee says he's been involved in production agriculture since 1968, and has never seen a weather year as good as this one, with the right amount of rain and lots of sunshine without too much heat.

Gun charges finally snare wanted Wilmington teen

By Andrew Sgroi 12:38pm, October 21, 2014
A wanted teen from a prior offense was finally collared on weapons charges in Wilmington Sunday morning following an anonymous tip which led police to him.

Wilmington police say that officers were directed to East 24th Street just off of Governor Printz Boulevard in East Wilmington around noon Sunday in response to a call from a resident advising of a group of loitering juveniles who were believed to have a handgun.

Upon investigation, police did find a group matching the caller's description and confirmed that one of the teens was both wanted and had a 38-caliber handgun stored in his waistband.

The teen has been charged with weapons offenses and sits in the New Castle Detention Center awaiting release on bail.

Heroin, cash seized in Newark home

By Michelle Provencher 8:34pm, October 21, 2014 - Updated 9:35pm, October 21, 2014
A wanted Maryland man is busted by U.S. Marshals in Newark.

U.S. Marshals, State Troopers, New Castle County officers and Wilmington Police all reportedly converged on the 200 block of East Main Street around 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Reports say 37-year-old Mark Boyer, of Elkton, Maryland, has been living at the residence.

Boyer has four warrants for his arrest, stemming from stolen property, gun and burglary charges.

Officers say they found 117 bags of heroin, weighing in at 1.75 grams, and $391 in suspected drug money inside the house.

Boyer was taken into custody and committed on $32,300 dollars cash bail.

Dover thieves facing grand larceny

By Andrew Sgroi 10:21am, October 21, 2014 - Updated 10:40am, October 21, 2014
Dover police are currently looking for two men, accused of taking thousands of dollars worth of high-end outerwear from a Dover sporting goods store.

Police say that one of the thieves, who was recognized by employees of a Dick's Sporting Goods at the Dover Mall last Friday wandering the aisles, had been featured in a weekly police shoplifting notice.

The man and another accomplice eventually managed to pick off 30 North Face jackets, at $132 each, stowing them in a car and fleeing.

According to police, the man presented on the shoplifting bulletin is 19-year-old Stephon Rivera. Both suspects remain at large.

Nuisance property in West Rehoboth shuttered

By Michelle Provencher 9:35pm, October 21, 2014
The doors are finally closed on a longstanding open air drug market in West Rehoboth.

State Police and Attorney General Beau Biden's office have been working since 2007 to halt the illegal drug activity happening at 136 Norwood Street, including evicting tenants, allowing only the property owner and limited family members on the lot, and ordering the owner to permanently cease all drug activity.

The Attorney General's Office says the property owner, Evelyn Coleman, knew drug activity resumed at the site.

Biden says neighbors on the otherwise quiet street have, "suffered for far too long from the illegal drug activity on this property."

Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley ruled Coleman is now barred from coming within two miles of the property and faces a 10-thousand-dollar fine.

136 Norwood Street will be shuttered for one year.

The Nuisance Abatement Program was created by Biden in 2007 to shut down and rehab properties like Coleman's. Since it's launch, 125 properties have reportedly been cleaned up.

Another holdup at an NCCo fill-up station

By Andrew Sgroi 12:42pm, October 21, 2014
The recent run of gas station robberies across New Castle County continues as police are now investigating the latest hit in Brandywine Hundred on Monday afternoon.

State police are seeking information on the suspect who, police say, entered the Shell station on Foulk Rd at Silverside Rd around 2:45 p.m. on Monday.

The armed robber, upon displaying a black handgun, demanded money from the clerk and fled towards Silverside Road after receiving an undisclosed amount.

The clerk was not hurt in the incident and no video surveillance footage is available of the holdup.

7-Eleven in Brandywine Hundred robbed

By Andrew Sgroi 6:56pm, October 20, 2014
A convenience store robbery in Brandywine Hundred late Sunday leaves police in search of the suspect who fled after making off with his demands.

State police report the hit happened at the 7-Eleven on Foulk and Grubb Roads just before 11:30 Sunday night.

According to police, the suspect approached the store clerk and showed an unknown handgun. The crook managed to seize money from the store's register before making flight south along Foulk Road.

No video surveillance of the robbery exists, and police are asking any information regarding the hold-up be submitted to CrimeStoppers.

WPD: Teens take victim's cell phone after asking the time

By Frank Gerace 12:55pm, October 21, 2014 - Updated 2:03pm, October 21, 2014
Wilmington police have arrested two teens who allegedly robbed a woman after asking her for the time.

Police say a group of teens were following the 56-year-old victim as she walked along the 1000 block of Justison Street around 7 p.m. Monday.

Two of the teens asked the woman for the time and pushed her to the ground, taking her cell phone as she tried to call 911.

The victim was able to describe the robbers to police, and plainclothes officers picked them up at 5th Avenue and Coleman Street.

The suspects, a 15-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy, are being held at the County Detention Center in lieu of bail, charged with robbery, conspiracy and malicious interference with an emergency communication.

The victim got her cell phone back, and was treated and released from Wilmington Hospital for minor injuries.

DHSS: Patient screened for Ebola Tuesday doesn't have it

By Frank Gerace 1:47pm, October 21, 2014 - Updated 1:51pm, October 21, 2014
The state Division of Health and Social Services says an adult patient screened for Ebola at a New Castle County medical facility Tuesday was found not to have the virus.

DHSS says the screening happened after statements the patient made.

So far, there have been no confirmed Ebola cases in Delaware.

North America treated to partial solar eclipse Thursday

By Marcia Dunn, Associated Press 2:08pm, October 21, 2014
North Americans, get set for the fourth and final eclipse of the year.

On Thursday, most of North America will have prime viewing of a partial solar eclipse. The new moon will hide part of the sun from view. The eclipse will unfold slowly following its start near the Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia.

The best views will be in the U.S. Northwest and northern Canada, especially Prince of Wales Island. New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces will miss out.

In the eastern half of the U.S., the eclipse will occur near sunset.

Sky gazers are urged to protect their eyes with special filtered glasses. Regular sunglasses are not good enough.

This makes for two solar and two lunar eclipses this year.

Classroom at William Penn turned into college, career center

By Tom Lehman 9:31pm, October 21, 2014
A classroom at William Penn High School got a full makeover on Tuesday, one that teachers say will help kids get more interested in going to college.

Volunteers from Capitol One worked quickly to turn a classroom into the school's new college and career center.

The new room is packed with new furniture, 400 books, laptops and college guides.

Erika Potts with the Communities in Schools organization tells NBC 10 this kind of center is especially helpful to those at-risk kids.

"We work with students who were at one point at risk for dropping out of high school who are now thinking about going to college and getting a career, so this is excellent," she said.

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