Philadelphia allocates additional $2M in funding for after-school activities

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia students will have more opportunities to participate in after-school activities, thanks to an additional $2 million in funding for the programs. 

The new funding will not only increase the number of students who can participate from under 6,000 to over 6,500, Human Services Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa says it also improves the student to adult ratio and the quality of the programs, so they align with the School District of Philadelphia’s focus for each level of education; elementary, middle or high school.

“There’s a connection to literacy, career exposure and career experience,” Figueroa said.

Research has shown that children who participate in quality programs outside of school, do better in school and are less likely to be involved in violent activity, but Figueroa says it really helps the whole family.

“Those hours of 3 to 6 p.m. we know are critical for families,” she said, “especially little kids and parents work, as well as how do we further engage high school students where they’re not involved in other activity that’s not going to be as safe for them.”

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Girl found dead in locked van at South Jersey PATCO station

LINDENWOLD, N.J. (AP) — Authorities say a child has been found dead in a parked van at a commuter rail station lot in New Jersey.
Officials with PATCO said the child was found Friday afternoon in a locked vehicle in the lot in Lindenwold and could not be resuscitated by emergency responders. 
PATCO President John Hanson says the baby was inside the car for an unknown number of hours and police were trying to locate the vehicle owner. The child’s age wasn’t released.
A spokeswoman for the Camden County prosecutor’s office says `”the incident is in the very early stages of its investigation and no further information is being released at this time.”
High temperatures Friday afternoon reached the upper 80s. 
The PATCO Hi-Speedline operates daily service between Lindenwold in South Jersey and Center City Philadelphia.

© Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Local students spent part of their summer helping some elephants in need

DELAWARE (KYW Newsradio) —  Nearly three dozen local college students spent part of their summer break in Thailand caring for some elephants in need. 

These elephants had been abused, or were sick and needed a lot of TLC and Samantha Froot says she was a thrill to help.

The recent graduate of Delaware Valley University, in Doylestown, and 31 others spent a week at the sanctuary, feeding, medicating and just playing with the gentle giants.

She says her favorite was ZaZa, a lovely lady in her 40’s.

“She had such a big personality, but she was a little shy, but she did still come up to us,” she said. “I followed her around all day and I got to watch her go swimming and it was really fun that I got to hang out with her for an entire day.”

Froot says the babies were a blast, so energetic and fun loving, but rather large and not entirely aware of their size or strength.

While Froot says she isn’t sure what her future holds, she hopes it has something to do with caring for animals and keeping them safe.

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Military vets, spouses focus of job recruiters in South Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Employers are looking for military veterans and their spouses. That’s the message more than 100 former members of the armed services got during a job fair held this past week at the Linc.

“They got out of high school and went straight into the military,” said Chris Stevens, the man behind of a series of job fairs put together by RecruitMilitary across the country.

Stevens, a 20-year Air Force veteran said his group is trying to connect veterans with a job or a career.

“It’s their first time they’re interviewing and we try to ease those tensions,” Stevens said.

Stevens’ group assembled 70 area companies in the region, including law enforcement agencies, for a job fair here in the Linc.

Mark Lamar of Philadelphia just got out of the Army after serving four years. He said the opportunities are many.

“So I’m interested in the sales and customer service stuff and there’s a lot of jobs for that so I’m excited about it,” Lamar said.

Peter Reid, from Levittown, spent four years in the Marine Corps in setting up communication networks. He felt pretty confident.

“Veteran-friendly area where you can focus on and maybe connect with recruiters that were prior military that can get you in front of the companies that you want to work for,” Reid said.

The fact that the job fair was open to military spouses got the attention of Julie Charles from Cherry Hill.

“You have the Border Patrol, you have the banking institutions here, veteran companies, engineering right here,” Charles said.

“The employers some of them are veterans themselves,” Charles continued. “So they’ve been very helpful in talking about how to engage veterans and open doors of opportunities.”

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Camp Philly: City kids get unique camping experience up the Poconos

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A group of 8 to 12-year-old kids from Philadelphia returned home from a week of summer camp in the Poconos.

It’s part of a program sponsored by the city for kids who might not otherwise get to experience this kind of an opportunity.

A group of Philadelphia kids, who took part in a city sponsored summer camp in the Poconos, have returned home. The program was established to give participants a chance they might not other get to experience.  

“I didn’t really get that much sleep, but I loved the experience,” said 10-year-old Andrew McIntyre.

Anne Marie Dunne with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation says Friday’s group was just part one of two groups who participated in Camp Philly.

“The camp is funded through fundraising,” Dunne said. “We partner with the YMCA so that the campers go on scholarship.”

This camp gives city kids a unique experience in the outdoors.

“We don’t get to go swimming inside of a lake because we can’t swim in a lake (in Philly), and I don’t do archery here or bb guns,” said 10-year-old Salia Starkey.

Reporter: “Did you see any wild animals?”

“Yes, we saw deer and we even spotted a bear,” Salia said.

It’s also a week where the kids grow up a lot.

“You learn how to do things on your own without people like helping you,” Salia said.

“For some kids just going across the city is a big adventure, but to take them up to the Poconos is really giving them a bigger experience beyond the city bounds,” Dunne added.

The second and final Philly Camp session starts on Sunday.

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Conshohocken native produces first Hollywood film staring actor with Down syndrome

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The movie “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is billed as the first Hollywood film with a lead actor with Down syndrome, and it’s taking the movie world by storm.

This weekend, a Conshohocken native who helped make the movie is back home telling everyone, including KYW Newsradio, that they should go see it. 

Aaron Scotti says he wanted to be a part of “The Peanut Butter Falcon” as soon as he heard about it.

“It’s about a kid with down syndrome who’s locked up in an old folk’s home,” Scotti said. “Zak is a big fan of wrestling and one day they devise a plan to help Zak escape and send him on his, saying ‘Go be young and free and go be that wrestler.’”

In addition to names like Shia LeBouef, Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern, the film’s main character, Zak, is played by Zack Gottsagen a 22-year-old with Downs.

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” has already won the Audience Award at SXSW. It had a limited release earlier this month and opens everywhere next week.

Scotti says he’s hitting the pavement to drum up as much grass-roots support for this movie for one main reason.

“I didn’t finance it so I’m not – I don’t get anything else other than seeing Zak live his purpose which I think this is. I mean he’s a pioneer now.”

You can listen to the full interview with local filmmaker Aaron Scotti below:

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Thiel totes progress, but refinery cleanup is yet to be placed under control

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Fire officials say they’ve disposed of about 50% of a dangerous chemical at Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, which was shut down by an explosive fire in June. However, they’re still not declaring the scene under control.

“I’m pleased to say that we’ve had a very good week,” said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel.

He says the job of neutralizing Hydroflouric Acid at the site, by adding a base to it, is nearly halfway done.

Thiel declined to predict how much longer it would take to complete the job.

“We don’t know,” he said. “Every day we’re emphasizing safety versus speed.”

READ: Workers begin disposing dangerous chemical at shutdown refinery 

As the work continues, he says, the fire department and its state and federal partners in the cleanup will be at the site round the clock, seven days a week.

We are staying every vigilant and standing quite literally between the hazard and our neighbors.

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Area environmental centers are teaming up to help restore the Delaware Watershed

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than 20 environmental education centers in the region are joining forces to protect and restore the Delaware River Watershed. Public outreach projects are being shared among the centers.

This year’s 23 fellows of the Alliance for Watershed Education of Delaware River presented their projects at the Discovery Center in Fairmount Park.

“So, this is supposed to represent three Camden City row homes. The first house has no rainwater mitigation, the second house has rain water mitigation through a rain barrel and the third house has rain water mitigation through the garden,” explained Taylor Melodick Robinson with the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust at Petty’s Island. 

She was pouring water above model houses. Her partner Ivana Quinones of the Camden County Environmental center tells us what the goal of the demonstration is.

“To show residents that it’s a do-able thing to put rain mitigation within their home,” she said. “So that way they can prevent the streets from flooding and when the streets flood it picks up trash or oil or whatever is on the impervious surfaces and eventually lands in the Delaware River, which is where we get our drinking water.”

Their project is put on wheels and carted along the Camden waterfront educating the public about the benefits of rainwater collection and programs to get free barrels.

Fellows got about a $1,000 to research and create their project.

The program is supported by The William Penn Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region.

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GALLERY: PPD releases photos of 6 officers shot in Nicetown-Tioga standoff

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — On Friday, the Philadelphia Police Department released the photos of the six officers who were wounded in the nearly eight hour standoff Wednesday in the Nicetown-Tioga section of the city. 

Those officers suffer not life-threatening, said Police Commissioner Richard Ross. One officer suffered a graze wound to the head, another was shot in the arm and the rest were hit in various parts of the body, and they have all been released from the hospital. 

They have now been identified as: 

  • Officer Joshua Burkitt
  • Officer Justin Matthews
  • Officer Michael Quinter
  • Officer Nathaniel Harper
  • Officer Ryan Waltman
  • Officer Shaun Parker

Stay up to dated with the lastest on this story here:

City, state, federal officials vow to fight illegal guns, as officers shot in standoff recover

6 officers shot; suspect in custody after standoff with police for almost 8 hours

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Ride-hailing services are being blamed for decline in valet parking business

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — First it was the taxi business. Now Uber and Lyft are being blamed for putting a big dent in valet parking. 

Five years ago his company was handling about 400 cars a night outside some 20 Center City restaurants.  Those days are long gone says the supervisor, who asked not to be named.

“Today, after the prevalence of Uber and Lyft have risen I can expect about 125 cars,” he said.

Restaurant valet parking is being squeezed out by the much cheaper ride hailing services.

“You pull up, it’s a flat 21 dollar fee for parking. And let’s just say someone tips a couple bucks, it’s 23. An Uber from my house in North Philadelphia, which is a solid 15 minute drive, it’s gonna cost me 7 bucks,” he said.

It’s even worse for nightclub valets, as more and more patrons bellying up to the bar choose to cut out the risk of post-party DUI.

Experts say parking companies nationwide are trying to avoid a similar hit by offering apps that allow drivers to track and pay for open parking spots on their phones.

Meanwhile, valet services aren’t giving up. They’re attempting to create new revenue streams.  

“Car dealerships, where we operate as the consumer staff. We come in, we’re gonna take your car from you, survey you on what’s wrong with your car and we’re gonna move it. After it’s worked on we’re gonna detail it and we will move it back. We also take care of all the inventory upkeep on the lots,” he explained.

The supervisor says that with the volume down so much the risk is getting very high for what’s now a small reward.

“When you’re doing 400 cars a night the revenue would always kick the crap out of whatever you were losing that night through damage, tickets, etc. But when you take those 400 cars and reduce them to 100 now you’re gambling,” he adds.

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Frankford High School is selected to pioneer a course in green energy

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia high school is pioneering a course in green energy.

The City of Philadelphia and the School District say they have selected Frankford High School to host what they call the nation’s first course in solar energy. 

The three-year course of study would begin for sophomores, a year from now. 

Frankford principal Michael Calderone says students can continue their solar studies in college, or move directly into a career.

“They want to be part of the solution and leave the world a better place than they found it,” he said. “This program will absolutely provide my students, who have frequently been underserved and oftentimes marginalized, the opportunity to do just that.”

The course is being developed with the Philadelphia Energy Authority, which runs a separate solar installation training program for high schoolers. 

“From this program we are leaving to become electricians, architects, engineers, and oh– solar installers, of course,” said Eighteen-year-old Kayla Brown, who was at Friday’s graduation ceremony at City Hall.

The Energy Authority says they are working with the district to get the solar curriculum approved for the fall of 2020.

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Annual CHOP giveaway helps patients get excited to go back to school

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Kids in West Philadelphia got ready for school Friday afternoon during a big celebration, thanks to a special initiative from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Children’s Hospital patients received free back to school backpacks at their annual school supply back to school giveaway celebration.

Becki Fogerty with CHOP says all the items were bought and donated by the hospital’s employees.

“Yeah, we do this every year,” Fogerty said. “For a month we collect backpacks and school supplies. It’s part of our employee resource groups initiatives, so these are all volunteer employees who come together to make a difference in the community.”

Geraldine Fairbanks of West Philadelphia says she was thankful for the event.

“Well it just helps us because we have a lot of stuff to take care of before the school year and this just helps take off some of the pressure,” Fairbanks said.

She says this annual event gets her daughter excited for school.

“She was so happy, you should’ve seen her face,” Fairbanks explained. “She was like, ‘Mommy, I got a prize!’”

Shakila Moten from Southwest Philadelphia says the backpacks were stuffed with supplies.

“The books, the kids’ toothbrushes and stuff,” she said. “They appreciate it, and so do I.”

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Authorites charge woman in deadly motorcycle crash along Dannehower Bridge

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Norristown woman who says she was out celebrating her birthday is charged in a deadly crash earlier this month.

According to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, 27-year-old Courtney Clinton told police she had several shots of tequila and had been sipping on a bottle of champagne while in the car.

At 4:46 a.m., August 4, Clinton was driving into Norristown along U.S. 202 when police say she hit the back wheel of a motorcycle that was going the same direction on the Dannehower Bridge.

The driver of that motorcycle, 41-year-old Lakiesha Richet was thrown 74 feet. The criminal complaint says Clinton kept driving and ran over Richet, trapping her under her SUV and killing her.

Clinton’s blood alcohol content was .14, over the legal limit of .08.

Investigators say she was going about 70 mph, and she told police she was turning off her GPS when she thought she hit something.

Clinton, officials say, is facing multiple charges which include homicide by vehicle, DUI and other related charges. At her arrignment Friday, Clinton bail has been set at $50,000 and a preliminary hearing is set for next month.

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Philly DA’s office will appeal case against truck driver accused of killing bicyclist

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia prosecutors say they are going to appeal a city judge’s decision to toss charges against the trash truck driver accused of killing a bicyclist in a crash nearly two years ago. 

Holding pictures of bicyclists killed in collisions with cars, bicycling advocates dropped off letters to the DA’s office, urging prosecutors to appeal to the superior court. 

Sarah Clark Stuart is the executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

“What good are the laws in the commonwealth, if no one is held accountable for the preventable death of Emily Fredricks?” she said.

The letters come just says after a judge dismissed charges against Jorge Fretts, who is accused of striking and killing Fredricks in 2017 while she was riding her bike near 11th and Spruce. 

Anthony Voci, supervisor in the Homicide unit met with Fredricks’ aunt and the advocates outside the DAs office in CC 

“We have already decided to file an appeal in this case. I personally investigated this case, and I feel very strongly in the prosecution of this case,” Voci said.

He says they remained focused on their original argument: that Fretts was criminally negligent.

“When you have a 64,000-pound commercial vehicle that you are operating — not on some remote highway in the middle of the night, but at rush hour in the fifth-largest city in the country — you have to drive that very, very carefully,” he said.

The state has 30 days to file the appeal.


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Federal prosecutor, district attorney face off on question of Philly police support

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In the wake this week’s standoff and shooting, the top federal prosecutor in Philadelphia has plenty of criticism for District Attorney Larry Krasner.

Hours after Krasner spoke Thursday about the shooting and the criminal past of suspect Maurice Hill, U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain had a press conference of his own in front of the federal courthouse. 

“There is a new culture of disrespect for law enforcement in the city,” he said.


McSwain says Krasner is to blame for championing that culture. He acknowledged that Hill’s rap sheet predates Krasner’s term, but overall, he says, the D.A.’s office is soft on crime and doesn’t support police.

“I would say what my office is going to be doing is we’re gonna be looking very carefully at what the D.A.’s office is doing and what Mr. Krasner is doing, and we’re going to be providing adult supervision,” McSwain said.

“This is larger than just Maurice Hill. My point is about the disrespect for law enforcement and the culture that the district attorney is fostering in the city that I belive is putting police at risk and putting the public at risk.”

Krasner, for his part, said he didn’t want to play along. 

“You know, I think it’s kind of a shame to be politically opportunistic about such a tragic moment,” Krasner said in response.

“Right now is a time for celebrating the nearly miraculous outcome, the brilliance of the Philadelphia Police — I mean, brilliance of the Philadelphia Police — in avoiding the loss of life. It’s not a time for political cheapshots.”

McSwain’s comments come after his boss, Attorney General Bill Barr, bashed what he calls, “anti-law enforcement D.A.s” at a Fraternal Order of Police event earlier this week.

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