Williams proposing sports arena for Wilmington riverfront

By Peter MacArthur 10:45am, November 24, 2015 - Updated 2:27pm, November 24, 2015
Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams wants to see a sports arena built on the Wilmington riverfront.

Williams envisions a facility which could house semi-pro hockey and basketball, along with concerts and other events.

He claimed critics who said the city should invest in crime fighting efforts, not a sports facility, aren't looking at the big picture.

"I think that's a bunch of nonsense," said Williams. "Why would you wait when the opportunity--the iron is hot--to strike now? Crime is everywhere in this country and we are driving crime down. Let's keep building, let's keep putting people to work. We can't keep playing 'cops and robbers and no jobs.' That's a problem."

Williams expected such a facility would cost between $27 and $29 million, and would be paid for through private and public funds. Construction of the facility alone could provide more than 300 jobs, he hoped. Williams has been pushing to bring a minor league hockey team to Wilmington since 2013.

Byway Bucks program expands to New Castle

By Tom Lehman 5:58pm, November 24, 2015
VIDEO: WDEL's Tom Lehman reports.
Officials with the Small Business Administration announced on Tuesday that a coupon voucher program aimed at increasing business for locally-owned shops and restaurants has expanded to New Castle.

The Byway Bucks program allows tourists to redeem the vouchers at participating small businesses to receive access to special deals, like discounted goods or services. It was named after the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, a series of roads that mark the path and historic sites used by escaped slaves in their efforts reach states like Pennsylvania.

The program is also used in Camden-Wyoming and Wilmington's Southbridge neighborhood. The coupons are distributed at locations such as visitor centers and government buildings.

SBA and local officials hope the increased exposure to local businesses will boost local commerce. The system has also become accessible through mobile phones for increase convenience.

"It really helps get the coupons in the hands of the tourists and the businesses that are participating in the program," said John Banks, the deputy director for the SBA in Delaware.

Although many consumers associate the holiday shopping season with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SBA in recent years has pushed Small Business Saturday, which takes place the weekend after Thanksgiving, as an alternative for consumers. Banks said it's important that locally-owned shops aren't overlooked throughout the year.

"They employ two out of every three jobs here in the state and across the country," he said. "It's significant and we wanted to make sure we did something to pay homage to the contributions that these small businesses bring.


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

Newark Police say 'suspicious' Delmarva Power impersonators were, in fact, legitimate employees

By DJ McAneny 2:02pm, November 24, 2015 - Updated 3:25pm, November 24, 2015
Following a warning issued by Newark Police earlier in November regarding suspicious persons authorities thought might be scam artists pretending to be utility employees, officials announced Tuesday the persons of interest in the case turned out to be legitimate utility workers.

Newark authorities said the incident reported on November 12, 2015, regarding an investigation that began following an October 13, 2015, incident.

On November 12, police reported a man in a blue jumpsuit, green vest, and white helmet had entered a home in the 100 block of East Park Place following a conversation with the home owner.

The incident was similar to another incident that had occurred in October, police had noted.

At the time, Delmarva Power had reported to authorities that there was no record of anyone being at the addresses in question, police said. However, on November 24, 2015, police announced the incident that had occurred 12 days prior had led to response from residence reporting a Delmarva employee knocking on their doors.

Police had responded, and found the employee was a legitimate Delmarva employee, whom Delmarva itself confirmed when they explained a technical problem had led to the necessity for the employee to make contact with the home owners in order to manually read meters, a rare occurrence in the city, officials said.

Residents are reminded that, if there is every a question about the authenticity of a person claiming to be a utility employee, they can contact the City of Newark at 302.366.1000, Delmarva Power at 1.800.375.7117, or authorities at 911 if the individual fails to produce proper identification but attempts to enter a home regardless.

New Castle County Police ask for public's help locating teen missing for more than a month

By DJ McAneny 2:27pm, November 24, 2015
Bernice Vazquez/Courtesy New Castle County Police
New Castle County Police announced on Tuesday they've been searching for a missing area teen for more than a month.

According to authorities, Bernice Vazquez, 14, of the 2000 block of West Newport Pike, left her home on the afternoon of October 13, 2015, at approximately 2:50 p.m. without telling anyone where she was going.

Police said they've checked Vanquez' usual hangouts, to no avail. On October 19, police said one of the teen's Facebook friends reported hearing from Vazquez on October 17, but was unable to obtain any information on her whereabouts.

Bernice Vazquez/Courtesy New Castle County Police

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The girl's mother provided additional information earlier in November, police said, but officers are still following up on leads.

She is described as a Hispanic female, 5'3", weighing approximately 160 lbs., with brown hair and eyes. She was last seen wearing a red or pink shirt with khaki pants.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is urged to contact New Castle County Police at 302.573.2800 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Smyrna man claims police killed dog unnecessarily; police release details of homicide investigation, domestic violence

By DJ McAneny 12:25pm, November 24, 2015
Mark R. Reedy/Courtesy Delaware State Police
Delaware State Police have responded to claims of excessive force from a man who said officers entered his home without a search warrant and shot his dog.

Warning: This story contains links out to Facebook postings that provide context to the story, but are not under the control of WDEL and therefore should be approached with caution. Some of the images are graphic in nature and depict things like the aftermath of a fatal shooting of a dog. Please keep this in mind before clicking out to any of the included information here.

On November 22, 2105, Mark Reedy, 51, of Smyrna, posted a video to his Facebook page (Warning: off-screen shooting), claiming police shot his dog when entering his home. He also posted a diatribe against them publicly (Warning: language), and included posting photos of a bloody scene (Warning: graphic violence) he claimed was the resulting aftermath of losing his dog.

On Tuesday, November 24, 2015, state authorities working with Dover and Smyrna police departments released a narrative detailing a man being investigated for domestic violence against his 52-year-old girlfriend at the time.

According to Delaware State Police, an investigation was kicked off by an incident on November 10, in which a female victim arrived at Kent General Hospital at 640 South State Street in Dover to visit her boyfriend, identified by police as Mark Reedy, who allegedly assaulted her there following an argument.

Police said Reedy was released from the hospital on November 12, and subsequently arrested by Dover Police on charges of strangulation and terroristic threatening. He was released on $3,000 unsecured bond at this time, pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for November 23, 2015, authorities said.

On Thursday, November 19, Smyrna authorities received the notification that Reedy had been issued a Writ of Injunction, which ordered him to turn over any weapons of which he may be in possession, police said.

When Reedy failed to do so on his own, Smyrna and Delaware State authorities responded to Reedy's residence at 421 Kates Way, but were unable to serve the order, authorities said. A short time later, police said they spotted a vehicle leaving the suspect's address, stopped it, and conducted a search of the vehicle. Police said several weapons were recovered from the vehicle and seized.

On November 20, authorities said the Delaware State Police Special Operations Response Team executed a search warrant and attempted to serve Reedy with the Writ.

At this time, police said a dog was encountered. Police said less-than-lethal means of subduing the dog were initially attempted, but failed, and the animal became aggressive, leading to the use of lethal force.

The search warrant was in regards to a pending homicide investigation, police said, though would release no further information, as that investigation is active and ongoing.

On Monday, November 23, Reedy turned himself into authorities on failure to appear charges stemming from the strangulation and terroristic threatening charges, at which point he was released on $3,000 unsecured bond.

Delaware AG Denn announces 2 appointments: State Solicitor and Family Division Director

By DJ McAneny 3:03pm, November 24, 2015
LaKresha Roberts, left, and Aaron Goldstein/Courtesy Delaware Department of Justice
The Office of Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn announced Tuesday the appointment of State Solicitor and Family Division Director.

Denn announced the State Solicitor position in charge of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice will be Aaron Goldstein, a graduate of both the University of Delaware and Widener University School of Law. He's been with the Department of Justice since 2004, and was most recently the head of the Department's Health Law Unity

The Department of Justice's new Family Division Director will be LaKresha Roberts, a graduate of Pace University and the Widener University School of Law. She joined the DOJ in 2010, working in the Child Support, Child Protection, Juvenile Delinquency, and Domestic Violence units.s She was a Delaware Business Times 2015 "40 Under 40."

"It gives me great pleasure to make these two additions to our leadership team within the department," said Denn. "Aaron has served in a number of capacities in the Civil Division as well as in other government settings providing him experience that is well suited for the State Solicitor role. LaKresha's career has been based on her passion and compassion for serving Delaware's children and families and I have been impressed with her judgment. They will both do well in their respective roles."

Wilmington motorcycle club member who owned auto shop pleads guilty to dealing heroin from business

By DJ McAneny 11:27am, November 24, 2015
Four men accused of taking part in an alleged heroin distribution ring operating from within a Wilmington auto shop adjacent to a motorcycle club to which some of the men belonged have pled guilty, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware announced Tuesday.

According to officials, Daywine Hunter, 32, of Wilmington and member of the Thunderguards Motorcycle Club, pled guilty on November 18, 2015, to participating in a conspiracy to sell heroin from B&D Detailing, a shop Hunter owned in the 2800 block of Governor Printz Boulevard.

Hunter would allegedly use members to make courier trips in vehicles equipped with hidden compartments to pick up in excess of 100 grams of heroin per weekly trip from a Philadelphia supplier, officials said.

Additionally, Hunter's father, 54-year-old Victor Williams, along with Brian Teat, 53, and Prince Seward, 51, all of Wilmington, have pled guilty to their roles in the distribution ring led by Hunter, officials said.

Also charged in the case are Jaquanda Lewis-Davis, 22, of Wilmington, and Yanthonic Herrera, 23, of Philadelphia.

All parties were arrested on April 22, 2015, following wiretapping efforts that included recorded phone calls and covert video and audio surveillance, officials said. When the search warrant was executed, authorities said they caught Hunter removing a shopping bag containing more than 100 grams of heroin from a hidden compartment on a Lincoln Navigator, already packaged for distribution.

Delaware State Police release details of Stanton-area bank robbery

By DJ McAneny 12:32pm, November 24, 2015
Delaware State Police respond to the Wells Fargo bank in Meadowood/(Mike Phillips/WDEL)
On Tuesday, Delaware State Police released an update to a bank robbery investigation that began Monday afternoon.

According to authorities, a man entered the Wells Fargo Bank at 2624 Capitol Trail at approximately 3:08 p.m. and approached a female teller, demanding money from her.

No weapon was shown, police said, but the teller complied with the suspects demands and turned over an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect fled in an unknown direction, and there were no injuries.

The suspect was described as being between 5'7" and 6' tall, weighing 180 to 200 lbs., and was last seen wearing a black hooded jacket, gray pants, brown boots, and a mask.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Delaware State Police at 302.365.8438 or Delaware Crime stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.

Dover Police charge pair with carrying illegal handgun, selling heroin

By DJ McAneny 11:05am, November 24, 2015
Keith Stevens, left, and Ciera Brummell/Courtesy Dover Police
A pair stopped in a vehicle in Dover were discovered with a .38 caliber handgun and 27 bags of heroin packaged for sale, city authorities announced Tuesday.

According to Dover Police, Keith Stevens, 21, and Cierra Brummell, 26, both of the 100 block of North Governors Boulevard, were approached by officers in the 200 block of South New Street at approximately 3:46 p.m. on Monday, November 23, 2015.

Police said officers from the Drugs, Vice, and Organized Crime and Street Crimes units discovered the items in the vehicle.

Stevens and Brummell were both charged with possession of a firearm by a person prohibited, possession of ammunition by a person prohibited, possession with intent to deliver heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, and second-degree conspiracy.

Delaware officials sign new animal shelter contract

By Associated Press 3:52pm, November 24, 2015
Chester County SPCA
Delaware animal welfare officials picked a Pennsylvania-based organization to handle statewide animal shelter services starting in January.

Officials said the Chester County SPCA will provide services at a permanent facility in New Castle County and satellite facilities in Kent and Sussex counties.

The CCSPCA is the only open-admission shelter in Pennsylvania that does not euthanize healthy or treatable animals, officials said, and that it will bring the same approach to Delaware.

The services outlined in the three-year, $6.5 million contract are for stray and abused animals. Animals that are not recovered, or that are the victims of cruelty, will be placed into rehabilitation or adoption programs at the New Castle location, or transferred to Delaware-based shelter or rescue partners for foster or adoption.

Dover man charged with Tier V possession of cocaine at city motel

By DJ McAneny 12:44pm, November 24, 2015
Michael Benson/Courtesy Dover Police
A drug investigation into a 41-year-old Dover man staying at the Sleep Inn resulted in the recovery of 93.5 grams of cocaine, city authorities said Tuesday.

According to Dover Police, officers from the Drugs, Vice, and Organized Crime and Street Crimes units contacted Michael Benson, of the 400 block of South Queen Street, at the motel at 1784 North DuPont Highway on Monday, November 23, 2015, at approximately 5 p.m.

Police said there, they recovered the drugs packaged for sale.

Benson was charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of cocaine-Tier V quantity, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was committed to the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in lieu of $60,200 cash bond.

Newark City Council members debate pay increases

By Shana O'Malley 2:59am, November 24, 2015 - Updated 10:40am, November 24, 2015
Newark City Council members expressed mix feelings about whether they should receive pay increases.

Neither council members or the mayor have seen an increase in pay in 11 years, and, during a recent budget hearing, an initial increase of about $2,000 to council salaries and a $2,600 bump for the mayor was suggested.

That would boost council member's salaries from $7,000 annually to $9,000, and the mayor's compensation from $8,400 annually to $11,000.

"There's a ton of time committees, a ton of meetings, a ton of work to do to stay on top of the community's issues and work on behalf of the community," according to City Finance Director Lou Vitola. "It would be appropriate for council compensation to increase with the level of CPI."

About half of council said they'd like to see the funds stay in the city's budget, rather than become taxable income.

"I send more than half my money off to the fed or to the state or social security," said Councilman Stu Markham (District 6). "It's just not worth the increase. I'd rather keep the money in the city."

Other council members said it's an overdue issue that needs to be addressed.

"Every time this has come up since 2004, this is how the conversation goes," said Councilman Luke Chapman (District 5). "Ten years from now, how's that conversation going to go?"

Residents were equally split. Some said council deserves a bigger increase for the countless hours spent reading development proposals and attending meetings, while others said it's a public service job that shouldn't be about money.

"I think it's a very unpopular idea to ask yourselves right now if this is a good time to increase your salaries," said Carol Carter a resident in District 5. "I'm looking around at folks in my neighborhood who are working second jobs, none of them have had increases in their salaries for the past several years."

Chapman said he plans to propose the increases into the budget. If the proposal moves forward, changes would not be made until the 2017 budget.

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