Then & Now Photo Gallery, Part 2: Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach

By DJ McAneny 8:20am, May 27, 2016
Welcome back to another installment of Then & Now, just in time for Memorial Day weekend!

In our inaugural Then & Now, thanks to Northwestern University's Knight Lab and the Delaware Public Archives, we took a stroll around Wilmington's Rodney Square and saw it as it was and as it is currently.

Today, in light of the coming Memorial Day holiday--often seen as the unofficial start of summer--we decided there would be no better place for this go-round's comparison of old and new than Rehoboth Beach.

Rehoboth Avenue



Dolles on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk



Atlantic Sands Hotel



Looking at Dolles from the other direction



The boardwalk skyline



Previous installments of Then & Now

Part 1: Rodney Square, Wilmington


Dover man charged with carrying concealed handgun during traffic stop

By DJ McAneny 11:37am, May 27, 2016
Kevin Wayman Jr./Courtesy Dover Police
A 29-year-old Dover man was arrested on weapons charges after a traffic stop led to the discovery of a handgun inside his car, city police said Friday.

According to Dover Police, Kevin Wayman Jr., of Forest Creek Drive, was pulled over along the 100 block of Cherry Street right around noon on Thursday, May 26, 2016.

During the stop, police spotted a 9mm handgun and ammunition, and Wayman was charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon, two counts possession of a firearm of ammunition by person prohibited, and violation of probation. He was committed to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of a combined $32,000 secured/cash bond.


New Castle man sentenced to 20 years for sex abuse of girl in his care

By DJ McAneny 12:17pm, May 27, 2016
A 39-year-old New Castle man will spend 20 years in prison for sexually abusing a pre-teen girl in his care, Delaware Department of Justice officials announced Friday.

According to the DOJ, Jair Molina was sentenced for his conviction on a count of first-degree sexual abuse by a person of trust after pleading guilty in February.

Molina abused a girl in his care when she was 12 and 13 years old, officials said.

He will serve probation and have to register as a Tier III sex offender following his release.


Smyrna intermediate school, lower Delaware schools receive bomb threats

By DJ McAneny 12:42pm, May 27, 2016 - Updated 2:10pm, May 27, 2016
A Smyrna school was briefly evacuated Friday after receiving an automated bomb threat, announced city police around noon.

According to Smyrna Police, the John Bassett Moore Intermediate School at 20 West Frazier Street received an automated, robo-style phone call at approximately 9:30 a.m. directly to the school.

The police and school administration conducted a sweep of the school and found nothing out of the ordinary, authorities said.

Regular activities resumed following the sweep, and authorities deemed there was no threat to public safety.

The robo-calls were a fad that have recently experienced a resurgence.

Smyrna was the only school by 12:30 p.m. that WDEL had directly received reports about Friday. However, WDEL's sister station WXDE received multiple reports of schools in Kent County receiving bomb threats, including:
  • Central Middle School
  • Towne Point Elementary
  • Holy Cross Elementary


  • Dover Police and representatives from the Capital School District also reported South Dover elementary was placed on precautionary lockdown due to its proximity to Holy Cross.


    Wilmington mayoral candidates trade barbs over public safety, experience

    By Tom Lehman 11:53pm, May 26, 2016 - Updated 12:21am, May 27, 2016
    Seven of Wilmington's mayoral candidates met for a debate Thursday night that focused primarily on public safety that turned feisty as candidates verbally attacked one another on the subject of professional backgrounds and experience.

    The debate was the first to feature significant back-and-forth skirmishes among the crowded field of challengers vying for the Democratic Party's nomination for mayor. The event was hosted by The News Journal and WHYY.

    Participants in the debate included City Councilwoman Maria Cabrera, Council President Theo Gregory, former Council President Norman Griffiths, Riverfront Development Corporation Executive Director Mike Purzycki, Delaware Center for Justice Advocacy Director Eugene Young, and State Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington South).

    Incumbent Dennis Williams, who ran in 2012 on a platform geared toward public safety, but admittedly fell short on some campaign promises, declined to attend because of a family-related obligation and his belief that the number of candidates participating in debates prevents him from directly addressing critics.

    The debate first ranged from various public safety topics, including how to convince more people to cooperate with law enforcement in criminal investigations.

    Cabrera, who recalled an incident involving her son being fearful after speaking with the police after being robbed at gunpoint, said consistent community policing may be the key to fostering better cooperation between officers and residents.

    "We have to keep same officers in the same neighborhoods. We can't keep switching up the police and switching up the plan," she said.

    Gregory, who drew laughs at times from the crowd for referring his former status as a federal prosecutor, said police need better instruction on how to keep witnesses and victims from being targeted by retaliation from criminals.

    "That comes from training and getting the police to have a culture of ensuring secrecy when people report things to them," he said.

    On the matter of creating a metropolitan police force that would consolidate Wilmington police with county or statewide officers, candidates who responded said they were generally opposed to the idea.

    Griffiths said state and county police already have their own jurisdictions to handle, and their uncertain involvement could hamper community policing efforts when residents don't know which officers will respond to their calls.

    "We can do this ourselves. We have the agencies. We have the ability to deal with this problem but we need to step up to the plate," he said.

    Kelley said state and county police could offer assistance in dealing with gang activity in the region, but that community-based policing with officers would be more effective and improve relations with the public so (that) law enforcement could help turn the tide against "bad guys who are winning the war" in Wilmington.

    "Too often we don't have accountability from the top all the way down. We need to lead by example, and when people lead by example, we're going to change the culture of the city," he said.

    Most of the verbal sparring was saved for later in the debate on whether an outsider or political newcomer should be elected over an "established" figure in city and state government representing Wilmington.

    Young, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), said his lack of experience in an elected position isn't an obstacle to becoming mayor and that the city has long discouraged candidates that aren't part of the established political culture to hold such offices.

    "Age does not dictate impact…for too long within our city we've played 'Wait your turn,'" he said.

    Comparing the race to a job interview, Purzycki, a former county councilman, said someone with little experience in city government won't be the best choice for handling Wilmington's ills.

    "If someone interviewed for that job, I can't even imagine someone with that kind of resume could get past the first round," he said.

    Young responded with sharp criticism of Purzycki.

    "There are other neighborhoods than certain ones, and you know what I mean," he said.

    "You're damn right and I'm lobbying to take care of the neighborhoods who need it," Purzycki fired back.

    Cabrera, a first-term councilwoman, suggested many of the other candidates on stage have been involved in the city's affairs for too long with few good ideas.

    "It's time (voters) elect a woman and some common sense into the mayor's office," she said.

    Wilmington's primary for mayor is Sept. 13.

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




    Man charged with crack, raw heroin possession following Prices Corner-area traffic stop

    By DJ McAneny 11:23am, May 27, 2016
    A 27-year-old man was charged following a traffic stop just outside Prices Corner Thursday, at the culmination of a months-long drug investigation that netted police dozens of grams of crack and heroin, New Castle County Police announced Friday.

    According to authorities, an investigation into Virgilio Batista-Tamarez and his selling of heroin in a variety of New Castle area communities began in April of 2016, and the investigation crescendoed with a traffic stop on May 26, 2016, in the 3300 block of Old Capitol Trail.

    Police said units from the Drug Control and Special Investigations squads searched his vehicle and a building in that block, and found a total of 23.8 grams of raw heroin and 15.2 grams of crack cocaine, with a combined street value of approximately $5,000.

    Batista-Tamarez had his vehicle seized, as police said it was being used to "facilitate his drug business," and he was charged with possession of a controlled substance-Tier V quantity, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance-Tier IV quantity, possession of a controlled substance-Tier III quantity, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance-Tier II quantity, three counts possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He was committed to the Howard R. Young correctional Institution in lieu of $65,000 cash bond.


    UPDATE: Wilmington woman killed, 3 hospitalized in chain reaction crash that shut down Rte. 1 near Dover

    By Amy Cherry/DJ McAneny 4:16pm, May 26, 2016 - Updated 8:51am, May 27, 2016
    A Wilmington woman was killed in crash, north of Dover Thursday afternoon, that triggered a chain reaction of other crashes.

    According to police, the multi-vehicle crash occurred on Fast Landing Road at 1:52 p.m. on May 26, 2016. Police said a 62-year-old Sarah I. Baird of Wilmington was killed when her 2001 Volvo S60 was traveling in the northbound left lane of State Route 1 and she lost control of her vehicle. Police said her car rotated counter-clockwise and exited on the west edge of the roadway before it struck a Jeep Wrangler, driven by Brandon Cooper, 26, of Calhoun, Georgia.

    Police said the Jeep Wrangler also spun until it faced a northeasterly direction before it burst into flames. They said Cooper had already exited the vehicle and was uninjured by the fire. He was treated and released from Bayhealth Kent General Hospital for injuries he suffered in the crash.

    That crash then caused a secondary crash, where police said a GMC Terrain driven by Kelli J. Amaya, 46, of Middletown struck a Honda Pilot, driven by Brian M. Mathe, 38, of Middletown. Mathe wasn't hurt. Amaya was transported by ambulance to Kent General, with unknown injuries.

    Police said Vicki L. Johnson, 60, of Smyrna, who was behind the wheel of a Chevy Silverado, pulling a horse trailer, then struck the Volvo which had initially lost control. Johnson and the horses were all OK, according to police.

    Baird was wearing her seatbelt and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. A passenger in her car, a 63-year-old man who hasn't been identified, wasn't wearing his seatbelt and was taken by state police helicopter to Christiana Medical Center. The extent of his injuries remains unknown, police said.



    The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is continuing their investigation into the incident. Alcohol was not a factor for any of the operators. SR1 southbound and northbound was closed for approximately three-and-a-half hours while the crash was investigated and cleared.


    Delaware National Guard HQ to unveil Beau Biden signs

    By Associated Press 8:20pm, May 26, 2016
    The Delaware National Guard's headquarters will be named after Beau Biden on Memorial Day. (WDEL/file)
    The Delaware National Guard will unveil new signs naming its headquarters after former state attorney general and National Guard Major Beau Biden.

    The guard said that the New Castle headquarters will be called the Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center. The signs will be unveiled at a ceremony Monday, on Memorial Day.

    The son of Vice President Joe Biden enlisted in 2003 and deployed to Iraq in 2008 for a year with the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade. He earned the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. He later served two terms as Delaware's attorney general.

    He died a year ago of brain cancer at age 46.

    The Guard said Joe Biden and other family members are expected to attend the ceremony.


    Williams files for re-election in Wilmington mayor race

    By Tom Lehman 12:44pm, May 26, 2016 - Updated 1:37pm, May 26, 2016
    Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams discusses his decision to file for re-election.
    More than a year after announcing his re-election bid and months after several of his challengers officially entered the race, Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams on Thursday anted up his filing fee for the 2016 Democratic primary for mayor.

    Williams, an incumbent who took office in 2013, paid the $4,250 fee to run in the race, ending speculation in some circles about his candidacy in this year's race.

    "It's about time. I had up until the end of June but I decided to pay it today because I am a serious candidate about re-election for the mayor of the City of Wilmington," he said.

    Williams is the seventh candidate to have filed. The others include City Council President Theo Gregory, former Council President Norman Griffiths, Riverfront Development Corporation Executive Director Mike Purzycki, Delaware Center for Justice Advocacy Director Eugene Young, and State Sen. Robert Marshall (D-Wilmington South).

    Councilwoman Maria Cabrera remains the only candidate who hasn't filed but already announced intentions to run.

    The winner of September's primary will face Independent Steven Washington in November. No Republicans are currently running.

    Williams has only attended one debate this year. He said he would not attend Thursday night's event held by the News Journal and WHYY primarily due to a family-related obligation but also because he doesn't think he can get a fair showing at most debates against seven other candidates attacking his record.

    He pointed to a debate at Ezion Fair Baptist Church in April, saying he wasn't given enough opportunities to respond to direct criticism.

    "What kind of malarkey is that?" he said. "I'm not going to put up with that kind of nonsense."

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




    Claymont Chinese restaurant employee shot in leg after turning over cash to armed robber

    By DJ McAneny 11:28am, May 26, 2016 - Updated 7:39pm, May 26, 2016
    A male employee of a Claymont Chinese restaurant was shot during a robbery Wednesday night, Delaware State Police detailed Thursday.

    According to police, the male suspect entered Wah Yuan Restaurant at 2705 Philadelphia Pike at approximately 9:11 p.m. on May 25, 2016, and, after demanding money from the register and receiving it, shot the 47-year-old victim in the leg before fleeing.

    Police said the victim is recovering at an area hospital while receiving treatment for injuries police called non-life-threatening.

    No additional details were released regarding the suspect's description, but Delaware State Police urge anyone who might have information about this incident to contact detectives at 302.365.8655 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


    One man dies after an accident on Route 1 in Townsend

    By Joe Irizarry 11:53pm, May 26, 2016
    One man has died after a two-vehicle accident on Route 1 in Townsend.

    New Castle County Paramedics said the 44-year-old man was suffering from cardiac arrest following the accident and shortly after arriving to Christiana Hospital's Middletown Division.

    Delaware State Police are still investigating the crash.


    Delaware Dept. of Correction officers charged with taking bribes in exchange for drugs, cellphones

    By Joe Irizarry 8:08pm, May 26, 2016 - Updated 8:34pm, May 26, 2016
    Two Delaware Department of Correction officers were charged with smuggling drugs and cellphones to inmates.

    Charles Oberly, the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware announced that Thomas Boyce Jr. and Paul Hursey, were arrested in separate federal criminal complaints Thursday.

    Both are accused of smuggling cell phones and drugs to inmates at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna in return for bribes. Each face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    The indictments are the result of a joint investigation between the FBI and the Delaware DOC.

    In December, another correctional officer, Lorraine Mosley, was charged with smuggling a cellphone to an inmate in exchange for a bribe at the Delores J. Baylor Women's Correctional Institution.


    Milford man, 25, gets 15 years in prison as repeat child porn offender

    By DJ McAneny 11:49am, May 26, 2016
    Eric Aldrich/WXDE file
    A 25-year-old Milford man was sentenced to 15 years in prison Thursday on receiving child pornography charges, Delaware Department of Justice officials announced that morning.

    According to DOJ officials, Eric Aldrich had earlier pled guilty to one count of receiving child pornography, making it his second conviction relating to kiddie porn.

    He possessed more than 600 pieces of imagery that included prepubescent minors and sadistic or masochistic conduct, officials said.


    Wilmington Manor bank robbed by man with note implying he was armed

    By DJ McAneny 5:22pm, May 26, 2016
    A man walked into a bank just outside Wilmington Manor Wednesday and robbed it using a note implying he was armed, Delaware State Police said Thursday.

    According to authorities, the man entered the PNC Bank at 1 East Basin Road and handed a female teller his note. The teller complied with his demands for cash and turned over an undisclosed amount of money, at which point the man fled.

    A weapon was never displayed and there were no injuries.

    The suspect was described as a white male, 20 to 25 years old, standing 5'6" to 5'10" and weighing between 140 to 160 lbs. He was wearing a black t-shirt, jean shorts, and a mask over his face, police said.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact Delaware State Police at 302.365.8566 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.


    Bill seeking to protect Delaware's homeless from discrimination moves forward

    By Jon Budler/WXDE 7:39pm, May 26, 2016
    WDEL file of a homeless female veteran
    A Senate bill seeking to implement laws against the discrimination of homeless people in Delaware has moved forward.

    Sponsored by several Democratic lawmakers, the bill was focused on protecting the rights of those who are homeless.

    "If they were to go to an employer and they couldn't provide a permanent address because they're living in a tent, then the employer can't then say you're not reliable due to a lack of address, so I'm not going to hire you," said Jamie Basara from the ACE Resource Center. "It would prevent that discrimination."

    The bill would also protect the right to emergency medical care. Basara spoke about an incident where a homeless man was turned away from a local hospital.

    "They had recognized him from sitting in their waiting room. They told him it wasn't a hotel for the homeless and sent him out of there," she said. "He went and had three toes amputated in a Dover hospital because they turned him away. He had frost bite and it was infected."

    Now out of committee, the bill also seeks to allow homeless individuals to vote using a temporary address.


    TSA chief says help is on the way to address long airport lines

    By Amy Cherry 11:01pm, May 25, 2016
    A long line of travelers waiting for the TSA security check point at O'Hare International airport in Chicago. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford, File)
    The head of the Transportation Security Administration said the agency will add 768 new screeners by mid-June to deal with growing airport security lines.

    Peter Neffenger told a House committee that TSA officers are being moved to staff checkpoints at the busiest airports at the busiest times, and the agency is launching an incident command center that includes officials from major airlines and industry associations. He said the center will track daily screening operations and shift officers, canine units and other resources to shorten lines.

    Neffenger said the agency expects to screen 740 million passengers this year, a 15 percent increase over 2013. It comes amid a 12 percent drop in the TSA's workforce and what he calls "a renewed focus on security."

    The chairman of the panel, Republican Michael McCaul of Texas, said Americans are "angry and frustrated" heading into the summer travel season. He said the crisis "didn't just come out of nowhere," and that "airports and airlines have been sounding the alarm for months."

    Long lines have been plaguing airports since early spring, but the issue came to a head in recent weeks when thousands of passengers in Chicago missed flights because of lengthy checkpoint waits.




    In reconsideration vote, Wilmington council members pass budget

    By Tom Lehman 6:49pm, May 25, 2016 - Updated 12:50am, May 26, 2016
    VIDEO: Councilman Bob Williams discusses why he switched his vote on the budget.
    Less than a week after rejecting a $154 million operating budget, Wilmington City Council on Wednesday approved an amended version of the spending plan that deleted another vacant position.

    The council passed the modified budget in an 8-5 decision in a reversal of last week's rejection of the spending plan that failed by one vote.

    Councilman Bob Williams, one of two members to change their position on the bill, said he was given assurance that Mayor Dennis Williams' administration will intensify efforts to resolve an impasse in collective bargaining with the police and fire unions over contracts.

    "Going to Chancery Court, going to the Public Employment Relations Board, going to every level, just showed me that there were no real negotiations, we were just using the system to buy us time," he said.

    Williams, who is not related to the mayor, said it was also agreed upon to cut an additional vacant position from the city's $73 million budget for the Water and Sewer fund through an amendment passed on the floor.

    The spending plan transfers $1.5 million from the city's general unassigned balance for the city's Housing Strategic Fund for use with the land bank and other housing projects, eliminates a handful of vacant positions, reduces funding for IT consultants, and contains a newly negotiated agreement to cut costs within the city's prescription drug program.

    The budget also uses $2 million from a risk management fund to cover rising healthcare costs for the city, which drew concern from Councilman Darius Brown (D-District 3), one of seven council members who voted against the budget last week.

    A news release from council stated that Brown decided to vote for the budget after he was told the administration would form a task force to study the issue.

    Gary Fullman, the mayor's chief of staff, said he was thankful of the council's support, even if it took an extra week.

    "When we advanced this budget right from the onset, we thought it was a budget that would be easy for all of them to support," he said.

    Loretta Walsh, one of the five council members who held their ground against the budget, (D-At Large) said it was short-sighted.

    "Nothing significant got changed at all," she said. "Once again, the people in our city, and I'm talking the investors and the residents are going to end up paying through their noses for things that are going on in the city."

    Council President Theo Gregory, a supporter of the "compromise" budget first introduced last week, said more intensive changes sought by the dissenting council members would not have been possible without potentially alienating some of the supporters needed to pass it.

    With nine votes needed to override a veto from the mayor, Gregory said there wasn't enough support to make larger cuts or alterations.

    "He has certain votes on this council that have a strong allegiance to him," he said. "We cannot survive a budget veto."

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




    Why the tiny fruit fly has giant sperm: Size matters to her

    By Associated Press 11:01pm, May 25, 2016
    Fruit flies are observed at the Agrarian Health Service in Lima, Peru. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia,File)
    For a long time, the debate has gone on: Does size matter to females? Biologists now say, definitively, that it does. Among fruit flies.

    At issue is the fruit fly sperm, which is gargantuan in the tiny world of that speck-sized insect. The sperm is over 2 inches long, or about 23 times longer than its body.

    This has been long known to scientists, and they've also known that the sperm fits into the bug because it's coiled tightly, like a ball of yarn.

    But why does such a little bug have such big sperm? A study released Wednesday by the journal Nature said that's what the females want. Over time, the females have genetically evolved their bodies to get the biggest and best sperm possible for reproduction.