Horse rescued from mud in Clayton

By Amy Cherry 7:14pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 8:22pm, May 6, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
A close call for a horse downstate.



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A horse got stuck in the mud and nearly died over the weekend.

Clayton Volunteer Fire Company was first to arrive on-scene at Merri Medo Farms on Wheatley's Pond Road Saturday for the emergency. The chief found the horse, named Kentucky, in dire straits.

"All that was really showing was part of his back and pretty much his neck and his head, that was it," said Clayton Volunteer Fire Chief Alex Carrow. "I honestly couldn't believe that he was still alive because he was completely covered in mud."

"He was so deep, literally all you could see was his head and his rump," said the horse's owner Denise Leonard.

Leonard was frantic to save her 31-year-old horse.

"She was sitting there holding her horse's head out of the water and the mud and was crying," Carrow said.

"I knew he was in serious trouble, and I could just tell the way he was looking at me, by the time I got to him, his mouth was in the water, but his nose was still sticking up, so we had to hold his head from up out of the water for about an hour before we got a board under his head," said Leonard.

Up to 70 people helped dig Kentucky out of the mud, and after several hours, he was rescued.

"They put themselves in danger, a lot of the fireman were stuck in mud, and filthy adn tired; they never stopped digging," said Leonard.

Kentucky is still a little dirty and has a couple deep cuts, but he's going to be OK.

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


Park renovations unveiled for Wilmington's West Side

By Shana O'Malley 8:22pm, May 6, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Shana O'Malley reports
Residents of Wilmington's West Side are hoping to see upgrades to three dilapidated playgrounds.

Sal Gonzalez lives next door to the Connell Street Park and said the rusted, vandalized equipment makes it hard to attract visitors.

"There's not a whole lot of activity right now because the park doesn't look too good," he said.

Gonzalez is among several West Side residents who have joined the West Side Grows Together Coalition to provide input on how three local parks should be renovated.

"I'd like to see a lot of kids activity," he said. "Especially my kids and my grandkids, they love to come here."

The conceptual plans for the renovation for Connell Street Park as well as the Fourth Street Park and Father Tucker Park were recently unveiled and feature modern playground equipment, landscaping, lighting and sitting areas.

Christian Willauer, director of community and economic development for the Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, said they envision a place where neighbors can gather and children can have a safe place to play.

"Playgrounds have traditionally been this kind of gathering place for families and in my mind, that's what these playgrounds can become again for these Wilmington neighborhoods," Willauer said.

The City of Wilmington has committed some funding for the estimated $2 million project, and the West Side Grows Together coalition hopes to find additional investors.

"The community wants to see those parks be even better than the resources the city can commit so we want to leverage those city funds with additional resources for people who care about the parks," Willauer said. "We're going to be talking to foundations and to other parts of government to leverage the city's investment and build these parks that fulfill the community's vision for what it's neighborhood playgrounds could be like."

The project is expected to take about two years to complete.

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


Weekend I-95 closures coming to Delaware

By Tom Lehman 5:07pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 5:15pm, May 6, 2015
I-95/WDEL file
The northbound lanes of Interstate 95 will be closed overnight Thursday and then again through the weekend starting early Saturday morning as work crews conduct a paving and milling project in the area.

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The first closure goes into effect at the exit for Concord Pike (U.S. 202) at about 10 p.m. Thursday and remains in effect until about 5 a.m. Friday morning, according to the Delaware Department of Transportation.

DelDOT will then close the northbound lanes of I-95 at 5 a.m. Saturday until as early as 5 a.m. Monday. Motorists will be redirected during both closures onto a 10-mile detour path through Brandywine Hundred that heads northbound on Concord Pike and then east at Naamans Road before returning to the interstate.

Wilmington Councilman Charles "Bud" Freel, who works for DelDOT, said drivers heading northbound on I-95 should consider taking the I-495 bypass that begins south of Wilmington.

"That would be the best alternative for people who are just traveling through Delaware," he said. "If they find themselves on 95, they're just going to have to follow the detour signs."

The right northbound lane of I-95 at the Brandywine River Bridge will also be closed about 10 p.m. Friday through 5 a.m. Saturday.

More information on the closures can be found at DelDOT's website.

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


House committee releases marijuana decriminalization bill

By Associated Press 9:14pm, May 6, 2015
A bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana has cleared a Delaware legislative panel and is headed to the House floor for a vote.

House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee members voted 5-to-4 Wednesday to release the bill after its chief sponsor said she would make several revisions to address concerns of police officials.

Law enforcement groups, including the Delaware State Police, nevertheless remain opposed to the bill.

The bill makes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of $100, rather than a criminal offense.

Smoking marijuana in an area accessible to the public or in a moving vehicle would be a criminal misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment of up to five days.


Former pediatrician appeals 'waterboarding' conviction

By Associated Press 3:52pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 4:08pm, May 6, 2015
Dr. Melvin Morse
The Delaware Supreme Court is mulling an appeal by a former pediatrician serving three years in prison for abusing his female companion's preteen daughter, including "waterboarding" the girl by holding her head under a faucet.

Melvin Morse has challenged his conviction on several grounds, including a judge's decision allowing jurors, during deliberations, to review videotapes of unsworn statements the victim and her younger sister gave to authorities, while not giving the jurors contradictory defense evidence.

Morse's attorney also argued Wednesday that the judge erred in allowing jurors to consider evidence of several other "bad acts" for which Morse was not charged. The defense claims the cumulative evidence inflamed jurors and unfairly prejudiced Morse, while prosecutors argued that it was used to show his motivation and intent in disciplining the child.


Delaware State Police remember officers killed in line of duty

By Joe Irizarry/105.9 WXDE 3:59pm, May 6, 2015
(Joe Irizarry/105.9 WXDE)
Delaware State Police held their annual Police Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony Wednesday, honoring troopers killed in the line of duty.

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The ceremony, in front of the Delaware State Police Training Academy in Dover, included the reading of names of the 23 troopers who've lost their lives in the line of duty since 1923.

Surviving family members placed carnations at the 7' granite monument in remembrance of their deceased family members.

"It is important that we take the opportunity to honor the lives of your loved ones and the real difference that they made in our state," said Attorney General Matt Denn. "So we're grateful that you will reopen painful memories when you've already endured enough so we can properly honor your loved ones."

Colonel Nate McQueen Jr. is the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police

"These ceremonies remind the public, even in these difficult times of the service and sacrifice of our heroes; they serve as a reminder to the greater law enforcement community as well as all of our divisional members, past and present, of their commitment to the oath of service, the sacrifice and the risk, that comes with it," said Colonel Nate McQueen Jr. is the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police.

A wreath was laid in front of the monument at the end of the ceremony.


Feds indict 2 from ex-Wilmington Trust executives

By DJ McAneny 5:36pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 7:14pm, May 6, 2015
Two officials from Wilmington Trust were indicted Wednesday for their alleged roles in making false statements to U.S. government agencies, the Department of Justice announced.

Charges against William North, 55, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, former Chief Credit Officer, and Kevyn Rakowski, 61, of Lakewood Ranch, Florida, former Controller, include one count making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and three counts making false statements to the Federal Reserve.

The charges stem from North's and Rakowski's alleged involvement in "concealing from the market and the Federal Reserve the total quantity of past-due loans on the bank's books during October and November 2009."

"This indictment represents another significant step forward in holding accountable those individuals whose criminal conduct contributed to the decline of Wilmington Trust," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware Charles M. Oberly III. "As the Chief Credit Officer and Controller of Wilmington Trust, North and Rakowski knew that the false information being provided to the Bank's regulators and shareholders masked the true condition of its loan portfolio."

Wilmington Trust was required, in their quarterly filings to the SEC and Reserve, to disclose the amount of loans past-due for 90 days or more, so that banking regulators and investors could fairly and accurately evaluate the health of the bank's loan portfolio, officials said.

However, the DOJ said North and and Rakowski, in their positions, helped conceal from the public the truth about the quality of Wilmington Trust's loan portfolio.

In November 2010, Wilmington Trust was acquired by another bank at a discount of 46 percent from the institution's share price the prior trading day.


Delaware State University increasing tuition costs by 3 percent

By DJ McAneny 4:29pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 7:14pm, May 6, 2015
For students heading to Delaware State University for the 2015-2016 academic year, they'll be paying a little more to fill those seats, school officials announced Wednesday.

According to DSU's University Relations department, the DSU Board of Trustees approved on April 28, 2015, a "modest increase in tuition," which amounts to about 3 percent, both in-state and out-of-state.

"We remain committed to serving the needs of our students with the best possible education at the lowest possible prices," said David Turner, Chairman of DSU's Board of Trustees. "We will continue to drive efficiencies to assure we can maintain that standard."

Officials said the increase comes on the heels of two years with no increases, but that the current increase will not affect room and board costs.

DSU President Harry Williams said the increase will go towards infrastructure improvements that support student success, and, more specifically, assisting students with graduating in four years.

"DSU administrators and the University's Board of Trustees have worked hard to minimize the impact of the increase on students and their families," Williams said. "The result is an increase that is very modest, especially in light of the fact that it follows two years in which there were no increases in tuition and fees. With this year's increase, DSU still remains a 'best-buy' in higher education."

DSU officials released a second statement Wednesday evening saying their initial release was premature and additional facts and figures would be coming Thursday. However, they confirmed there would be a 3 percent increase in tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year. When WDEL receives any updated information, this story will reflect that.


Chicken truck overturns in Milton

By DJ McAneny 1:33pm, May 6, 2015
The scene of the overturned chicken truck/Courtesy Wm Randy Martin
Delaware State Police have reopened Gravel Hill Road between Milton Ellendale Highway and Sand Hill Road following a motor vehicle crash just outside Milton in which a chicken truck overturned, bringing down wires in the process.

The crash occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to Delaware 105.9. Delaware State Police announced the street's reopening around 9:30 a.m. Crews from Delaware Electric Cooperative remained on the scene to repair the wires.

There was no word yet on what caused the crash or of any injuries related to it.


Microsoft's 'DigiGirlz' pushes STEM careers at Wilmington University

By Amy Cherry 3:44pm, May 6, 2015 - Updated 4:24pm, May 6, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Getting young girls to think about tech careers was the goal near New Castle Wednesday, where 150 eighth and ninth grade girls from up and down the state got a hands-on look at robotics, cyber security, and app development.

The event took place at Microsoft's DigiGirlz Day at Wilmington University.

Experts believe women aren't adequately represented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers--but hope events like Wednesday's will foster growth of female participants in those fields.

"It's about this age when (girls are) in the eighth or ninth grade... tend to lose interest, and they don't pursue a career," said Elaine Starkey, chief security officer for the state. "So we're trying to change that today."

The girls studied and learned about new ways to protect identities and crack criminal cases using data from the web and social media.


Man killed trying to cross lanes of I-95 in Wilmington on foot.

By DJ McAneny 10:55am, May 6, 2015
A man attempting to cross I-95 on foot was struck and killed by a car during the early morning hours Wednesday, police said later that same morning.

Delaware State Police said an unidentified man was attempting to cross the southbound lanes of I-95 near Martin Luther King Boulevard at approximately 12:18 a.m. when he was struck by a 2005 Chevrolet Impala being operated by a 22-year-old Wilmington man.

Police said the pedestrian was thrown into the roadway by the impact and pronounced dead at the scene by Emergency Medical Services personnel, who said the man had suffered head, chest, and extremity trauma. Attempts to resuscitate the victim were ultimately hindered by his extensive traumatic injuries, officials said.

An autopsy will be performed by the Division of Forensic Sciences and attempts will be made to identify the victim.

The driver of the vehicle stopped at the scene of the crash. Neither he nor a 24-year-old passenger were injured in the crash.

Delaware State Police continue to investigate the accident. The right hand lane of southbound I-95 was closed for approximately 3 hours.


EdWatch: UD grad student studying the size of rain drops

By Amy Cherry 9:02am, May 6, 2015
A University of Delaware graduate student is using April showers to his advantage.

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UD grad student Sean Hudson has studied nearly one million raindrops over the past year-and-a-half. He's been looking at the size of drops dripping from tree canopies and analyzing how that size can play a role in a drop's reentering of the water stream.

"The leaves just act sort of like an umbrella, so when the leaves are present, the water can just bounce off the leaves, becoming smaller drops," explained Hudson. "Or it can get stuck on the leaves and evaporate away--which is water that never makes it to the watershed."

He's studying a process called "throughfall."

This instruments helps Hudson measure the size of raindrops from the 'throughfall process.'/(University of Delaware)

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"A lot of people would notice when you're driving in a wooded area, and you have the normal small raindrops pitter-pattering on your window, and then all of a sudden you see...and you hear those really big drops that kind of thud on your windshield--that's throughfall," he explained.

He wants to learn how the amount of small drops compared to big drops is going to change how much water we're going to receive. Hudson's research has also dispelled the widely-popular belief that larger raindrops fall in the summer.

"Fall and winter and early spring, we tend to see more big drops than small drops--and that could play a role in what we would call like soil or groundwater recharge, or just water reentering the forested area," he said.

He's also studying storms' paths and how much water will make it to the forest floor at his research site in Fair Hill, Maryland.

The Fair Hill, Maryland, site where Hudson has been studying rainfall for nearly two years.

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"During summer and during the winter, usually the storms will come from the west and move east, and we would see usual amounts," he said. "When we have storms that come up the coast, it tends to dump more precipitation on the exposed side of the tree we're looking at it, and we ended up getting a surprising amount of throughfall."

His fascination with rain comes from where he grew up--in a dry climate in New Mexico.

"There was always something that was like a great instrument of change in the landscape, so especially in New Mexico, you have a little bit of rain then everything for maybe two days out of the entire year will be green and flowers come out," Hudson said.

Hudson hopes to use his findings to come up with strategies for water resource management. His research was recently published in the "Hydrological Sciences Journal."

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


Recreational black sea bass season to open 4 days early

By Associated Press 9:14pm, May 6, 2015
State natural resources officials say the recreational black sea bass season will open 4 days earlier than expected.

David Small, secretary of Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, signed an emergency order on Wednesday to open the season on May 15 instead of May 19.

Officials say the order will keep Delaware consistent with federal regulations.

A black sea bass management region extends from Delaware through North Carolina.


Delaware governor heads to Switzerland symposium

By Associated Press 9:28am, May 6, 2015 - Updated 10:27am, May 6, 2015
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell is on his way to Switzerland.

Markell will take part in the 45th St. Gallen Symposium over May 7 and 8, 2015, a gathering of business and political leaders from around the world. The theme for this year's symposium is "Proudly Small."

Markell was to participate Thursday in a discussion on small states in transition, and was to be the featured speaker in a work session entitled "Size matters: thriving in the new economy."

Officials said trip costs are provided by the symposium and are not paid with state funds.




Woman, 84, freed from car in Middletown crash

By DJ McAneny 11:20am, May 6, 2015 - Updated 9:14pm, May 6, 2015
An 84-year-old woman had to be extricated from her vehicle following a crash that trapped her within for roughly a half-hour.

According to New Castle County Paramedics, the motor vehicle crash occurred at Bunker Hill Road and Middletown Warrick Road in Middletown on Tuesday at approximately 2:38 p.m.

Upon arrival, fire company personnel directed paramedics to a compact car with "extensive driver's side damage. Volunteer Hose Company firefighters worked to free the trapped woman, who was then treated for possible internal injuries and transported to Christiana Hospital in serious condition.

Two others involved in the crash and were transported to Middletown ER for evaluation.

Middletown Police are investigating.


Woman hospitalized after head-on collision with tree in Pike Creek

By DJ McAneny 11:01am, May 6, 2015 - Updated 11:09am, May 6, 2015
A car struck a tree in Pike Creek, injuring the 77-year-old woman operating the sedan, emergency responders announced Wednesday.

According to the New Castle County Paramedics, the woman struck the tree head-on along the unit block of Ware Road in the Deacon's Walk Community at approximately 2:43 p.m. Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Paramedics treated the woman at the scene for abrasions and possible chest and internal injuries. She was transported to Christiana Hospital in serious ondition. New Castle County Police are investigating.


Wilmington man located, Gold Alert canceled

By DJ McAneny 4:46pm, May 6, 2015
Jeffrey Crist/Courtesy Delaware State Police
Delaware State Police announced Wednesday evening that Jeffrey Crist had ben located.

Authorities had issued a Gold Alert for him Tuesday, stating they were concerned for his wellbeing and had been unable to contact him since he'd left his job at Saladworks Monday.


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