One of the reasons I love being a journalist is that every day is different. In 2019, that remained true, and I covered a wide range of stories--some sad, some happy, some really heart-warming, and some, if we hadn't told them, would've never reached out into the world.
Roman Shankaras said he's tired of hearing that he beat a murder charge in the death of Lt. …
One of those important stories was following the developments in the aftermath of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center prison riot, from following the riot itself [in 2017], to the resulting trials that ensued. For the first trial of several, I sat in the courtroom every single day and it was an interesting experience to watch that trial unfold, being able to see the cast of characters and how those things all reached their individual conclusions--especially since so many of the prosecutions were unsuccessful, the state began dropping the cases against the inmates.
I had the opportunity to talk to one of those inmates on trial: Roman Shankaras. He was acquitted, but he also was released because he'd concluded his sentence. So it was a wonderful opportunity to gain some insightful perspective--one you don't normally get in cases like this. Even those other inmates, if acquitted, still had to return to prison for the remained of their sentences for other crimes, so this was an important, rare development to get to talk to someone who was there [during the riot] and took the witness stand, and get their perspective, on the outside.
The PFAS story came to me from a veteran who I'd worked with on other stories, and he talked to me about a host of ailments he'd been experiencing and believed they may be linked to PFAS exposure during his time as a military firefighter.
If this turned out to be true, it was going to be a big story, but I was honest with myself in how difficult it would be--almost impossible to prove because no doctor was making a direct link. Regardless, I knew it was an important story because there were enough cases of these ailments popping up across the country, and I knew it was a story that needed to be put out there, to have this case presented to the public. These chemicals are things we interact with every day; they're in our kitchens; they're in the drinking water at the Dover Air Force Base.
A family is begging for closure in the suspicious death of their loved one.
I spoke to career firefighters and military personnel, and there were a lot of layers to this series. The story remains ongoing, and we'll wait to see, as we enter 2020, if those individuals will receive the attention for their medical ailments that they deserve.
The case of Susan Ledyard wasn't just covered by me alone, it was a real WDEL team effort. It's a case that still bothers every single one of us. What really happened to her? Murders under the circumstances in which she found herself are rather uncommon in this area.
It was like something out of a CSI TV episode, and both intriguing and sad. A teacher who left her house in the middle of the night and turned up dead miles down the river? It's a case detectives want solved, it's a case reporters want a resolution to, and it's one for which the family deserves answers.
The story really bothers me, because we don't know the ending, and justice deserves to be had. I'm looking forward to 2020, and hopefully, getting those deserved answers.
The mournful sound of bagpipes filled the air in Newark as Wednesday marked Delaware's turn …
U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant and New York City firefighter Christopher Slutman, a Delawarean, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery last spring, shortly after he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Slutman's death prompted an outpouring of condolences and sympathy for his family in the Wilmington area and those who knew him. His heroism also left an impact during the days of remembrance leading up to his memorial service at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.
Days before, everyday Delawareans stood on overpasses and lined Route 1 to pay tribute as the motorcade carrying his body passed by.
Family members are identifying and remembering the four young people who died when a vehicle landed in the C & D Canal.
On the first Sunday of October, a series of events led to the deaths of four young people who were in a car that plunged into the C and D Canal. Members of a family were in two vehicles on the way to a football game.
They took a wrong turn, one of the vehicles vanished in a cloud of dust and ended up in the water.
One of the teens died trying to save others that were submerged. The tragedy touched the entire community. The words of a devastated father: Tell your kids you love them, every day."
One of the smallest birds of prey, the American kestrel, is being closely monitored in Delaware as its population has been dropping for decades. Each nestling, however, shows potential for future generations.
Along a dusty road that leads to a field on the grounds of Winterthur, we climbed a ladder and examined what was then a two-week old American kestrel.
Brandywine Zoo has an award-winning monitoring program that tracks the well-being and the population of these birds of prey.
Their population had been dropping in recent years. Holding that little nestling reminds us that each one shows potential for future generations.
Because I'm a breaking news reporter, you're always kind of ready for a big event to occur, and in 2019, it wasn't really that way. In 2017, 2018, we had some major breaking news events; we had police shootings, a riot at the prison, firefighter deaths in 2016, 2018 we had the Croda gas leak. In 2019, it was kind of void of any huge breaking news story, but, because of that, I was able to do things outside of my norm, which includes a little bit more in-depth stuff.
Township officials in New Garden, Pennsylvania, are taking the first steps in an effort to t…
St. Anthony in the Hills--anybody who grew up in Delaware has always been familiar with St. Anthony's in name.
St. Anthony in the Hills was always this secluded spot not everybody got to go to, and to be able to go in there, visit it, and use the drone to fly over something not everybody even knew was there, was really cool.
I always used to call it the land that time forgot, and it really was. It was even bigger than I expected. There's an amphitheater back there, stuff I never knew existed, and it was really neat to see it.
It's really going to becoming something neat for the residents of New Garden Township.
**Warning: the video below includes sounds of gunfire and flash bang grenades**
The Appoquinmink drill, we cover a lot of active shooter events nationally.
To actually be part of a live drill, with gunfire and explosions, it really got your adrenaline going. And to see what the police officers have to content with going into an unknown situation, it was an interesting perspective from that standpoint, and I was really appreciative that the state police let me take part in that.
It really gave me some amazing insights as a reporter into what all goes into it.
A competitive bake off between inmates and a celebrity chef was held on Thursday, November 2…
And another spot that people don't get to see often is inside the prison walls of Vaughn.
To have an opportunity to see this culinary work that's going on--and that program got disrupted by the Vaughn prison riots. A couple years earlier they were just starting that program and they had to cut it off--but to see some of these guys who really want to make something of themselves, get a skill, and, once they get out of prison, go somewhere with it--in an industry that tends to have a more forgiving view of former felons, it goes back to a lot of famous chefs have had some rough times and they know what it's like.
To be able to be in there and be a part of that and see those guys work, it was pretty amazing and the one thing I'll take with me from that competition was the delicate nature these inmates took in creating these cakes and baked goods and delicacies; it was counter-intuitive to see big guys in prison uniforms, behind bars, basically having a significant discussion over how many slices of strawberries to put on top of the cake. It's an opportunity for each of them to turn a corner.
2019 was a year when I was reminded where the power of sports can be inspirational in so many ways.
Sure, there were exciting moments like seeing Delaware athletes Bilal Nichols, Donte DiVincenzo, Brian O'Neill, and others making impacts on the professional level, but talking to those fighting illnesses, handling grief, and helping their follow athletes meant just as much.
Two-time state championship quarterback Troy Haynes, of Woodbridge, died over the weekend af…
There's so much money in sports now, even down to the youth level, but often times the stories worth finding are those who won't be going pro, or even college, in their sport, but finding the true love of the game.
We entered 2019 singing the praises of two-time state championship quarterback Troy Haynes, who was going to take a chance at Division III's most fabled college program [Mount Union], and by September, we were speaking of him in the past tense, in the most cruel of ways.
I remember a conversation with him days after he made his diagnosis public, and all I could remember was how positive he was. He felt obligated to fight for those around him. He captured the heart of Delaware's sports community, bridging the gaps of geography and rivalry to remind all of us what sports can be. #LiveLike4 has a chance to become the next B+ in Delaware, and that's some special company.
Breathing can be tough for any long-distance runner, but for Conrad’s Mallory Holloway, it’s…
Long-distance running is tough enough, but when you add in the battle to simply take in a normal breath, it goes to the next level.
Listening to Mallory Holloway talk matter-of-factly about how she works around Cystic Fibrosis and accepts good and bad days while growing within the sport is inspirational. You're not supposed to root for people on this line of work, but seeing she'd reached her goal of doing a sub-20:00 5K was exciting to see.
It's a reminder the human mind can overcome physical challenges.
Three years ago, then 13-year-old Tyler Blades received an ultimatum.
Here's someone who got a wake-up call about his health, answered the bell, and found a new sport he seems to love.
Going from struggling to complete a mile to running multiple half-marathons under two hours is something Tyler Blades should be proud of.
Running isn't for everyone, but much like Mallory, when it becomes mind over matter, the mind winds a lot often than you might think.
The year 2019 brought a variety of coverage opportunities. Some new undertakings at WDEL, some goodbyes, and an awful lot of news in-between.
After almost 33 years in the business, Delaware legend "Big" Don Voltz is departing from the…
Perhaps the greatest pleasure I had in 2020 was collaborating with just about every person in the station's home building to put together a fitting and worthy tribute to a remarkable icon of the industry, a staple of Delaware, an all-around professional, and mentor of every journalist who passed through the newsroom.
'Big' Don Voltz retired from WDEL, a well-deserved next step for a loving family man looking to spend more time with family--especially his grandbabies--and it was an honor to get to commemorate his time in the business. Special thanks to his beloved wife, Sally, for secretly providing an endless amount of through-the-years photos.
Another really fun undertaking at WDEL in 2019, for an avid Eagles fan like myself, was the launching of the Chris Carl creation Bird Brains, a next-day, post-game round-table discussion of the Philadelphia football teams latest efforts. It's simply a couple of fans--Chris Carl, DJ McAneny, Jay Nyce, and Mike Phillips--talking about their favorite team, but it's quickly become one of my favorite regular undertakings, and proven to already serve as quite a catharsis.
WDEL Philadelphia Eagles fans Chris Carl, Mike Phillips, and DJ McAneny recap, rejoice, and rant the day after each game.
Ajit Pai came through Wilmington Friday as part of his inspection for "bridging the digital …
Finally, I was able to sit in on a visit from Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman and someone I vastly disagree with on policy, as he came to Wilmington to promote his effort to expand broadband access around the nation. While he didn't necessarily sell me on his some of his decisions regarding the future of the internet, he did prove to be fairly likable, hung around for a reporters scrum, and was a big name visit for Wilmington's technologically focused community.