Philadelphia sidewalks are the target of a federal lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia sidewalks are the target of a lawsuit filed last week by a group of people with disabilities and advocacy groups. They want the city to make repairs, so people who use wheelchairs or canes can get around without risking injury.

“Philadelphia’s sidewalks are dilapidated, disintegrating and teeming with obstacles,” the lawsuit stated, leaving people with mobility issues unable to get around.

Attorney David Ferleger says curb ramps at some intersections are crumbling, too steep or missing altogether.

“When you’re in a wheelchair, or a blind person using a cane, those few inches are as if they were a mountain,” he said.

The individual plaintiffs describe getting injured while trying to navigate the faulty ramps, or hitting bumps, cracks and obstructions.

They say the city is obligated under federal law to meet certain design standards and has failed to do so for decades.

In fact, they allege that instead of complying with a previous court order to fix the problems, the city has a policy of only making repairs if there’s a complaint; and Ferleger says even that doesn’t work.

“When people with disabilities have asked, through dialing 311 or otherwise, they’re ignored,” he added.

The city has declined comment.

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8th annual Made in America Festival takes over the parkway

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Made in America has had its fair share of controversy, especially from neighbors, but what do Philly businesses think of the annual festival?

So what do the businesses think about all of this excitement?

“Generally it might affect traffic a little bit but we get a lot of foot traffic anyway,” said general manager of Sabrina’s Georgios Photeiou.

Several other managers from the 19th and Callowhill Streets area agree, but say despite the road closures, they appreciate the new faces.

“With large events like these our sales do spike up,” said Buena Onda’s manager.

“New people coming into the city and coming into your business for the first time, I hope is that they’ll keep coming back,” said La Pain’s Melissa Ferus.

“Ben Franklin always have good things going on, so it’s always a positive thing,” Nary Dinglye from Dominoes added.

Day one’s foot traffic couldn’t have been better as thousands, many in red, white and blue, were hoping from stage to stage just to watch their favorite artists.

“It’s kind of like Philly Pride, we love Philadelphia in and of itself,” said Harper Will.

Sixteen-year-old Harper from Springfield says she was one of the many from nearby.

“To have, like, a concert here with all of these people that are like really famous is incredibly cool because it would be hard to get tickets to their show without paying an exorbitant of money,” she said.

And others, like Reuben and Erin Solveson, came from far.

Reporter: “How long did it take you to get her?”

“About 4 and 1/2 hours,” Solveson said.

She says they drove all the way from North Carolina so their teenage daughter could attend the festival.

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Slew of shootings, several homicides probed in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Authorities say a slew of shootings, including several homicides, have the holiday weekend off to a violent start in Philadelphia.

Police say gunfire shortly before 7 a.m. Saturday in the Hunting Park neighborhood of North Philadelphia killed a 25-year-old man and a 31-year-old man and wounded two other men listed in stable condition.

A double shooting at about 10:45 p.m. Friday in Southwest Philadelphia killed one 24-year-old woman and critically wounded another 24-year-old woman.

Shortly after 1:30 a.m. Saturday in West Philadelphia, a 32-year-old man was found in a vehicle with gunshot wounds. He later died at a hospital.

A northeast Philadelphia shooting critically injured a man, and victims were listed in stable condition after shootings in south and Southwest Philadelphia. No arrests were reported in any of the shootings.

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How your family can be prepared for severe weather

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Its peak hurricane season and our region has become no stranger to severe weather, but is your family prepared for when it hits? 

The Delaware Valley has already experienced a record breaking number of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms — with more to come. So, the first step is acknowledging that disaster can happen here.

READ: Are more severe thunderstorms, tornadoes on the horizon for the Philly region?

Dan Stoneking, FEMA regional director for Pennsylvania, says people should save money early to be prepared, but he realizes not everyone can save for a rainy day.

“If you have $20 in your ATM account, preparing for a disaster having $20 in your pocket might be better,” Stoneking said.

He says having cash on hand is essential especially during power outages, as well as having a plan. A plan, he says, can be as simple as a having a conversation with your family.

“Hey, this is the number you call, this is the meeting location that we’ll all meet at, it can be a park, it can be another relatives house,” he said.

READ: Category 4 Dorian bears down on Bahamas, may skirt Florida

There’s an app that can help with that. The free FEMA app only takes a few seconds to download and has several resources like, what you need in an emergency kit and where to find the closest shelter to you.

“And it can give alerts to any location,” he adds.

Stoneking also recommends having necessary medications in reach and critical documents in a fire/waterproof place. Oh, and don’t forget about your pets, he says have extra food stored because they have to eat too.

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Philly autism support teacher gets a statewide honor

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Philadelphia high school art teacher is beginning the school year with some statewide recognition.

In Christina Lukac’s Autism Support and Life Skills classroom, at Olney Charter High School, her 65 special needs students learn art with individual attention.

“Some students might need more visuals,” she said. “We have some students who are nonverbal, so they communicate through a device.”

She says they’re encouraged to express themselves through drawing or painting or sculpture.

“I feel like with art making, it’s a way that they get a chance to communicate in ways that they might not be able to verbally,” she said.

The 30-year-old Lukac has been named “Outstanding Special Needs Art Educator” by the Pennsylvania Art Education Association.

She comes from a family of artists, she has a brother who has autism, and she says she always wanted to be a teacher.

“I used to play teacher when I was a little girl and I’d set up all my stuffed animals and I would have them be in my classroom,” she said.

Lukac is starting her third year at Olney. She helps to run the school’s Friendship Club, in which her students engage in games and activities with the general student population. She’ll get her award at a conference in State College in November.

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Drug overdose victims are recognized in Chester County

CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) —  Over 100 purple pinwheels were used this week to commemorate the lives of Chester County residents lost to overdoses for International Overdose Awareness Day.

Liz Pettit says she lost her son Zach last year to a drug overdose. He was one of the 112 Chester County residents to die in 2018 of a drug overdose, who Pettit says were victims of the opioid epidemic that’s ravaged the country.

“The drugs, the opioids are highly addictive,” she said. “They hijack that brain and it’s not a choice.”

Michelle Kichline, chair of the Chester County Commissioners, says the county wants to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the damage they’ve caused through their marketing campaigns that claimed opioids were not addictive.

“Because cities and counties across the country are seeking redress from the opioid industry for the cost of the opioid epidemic, over 1,600 lawsuits have come together in the US District Court for the northern district of Ohio,” she said.

Pettit says doctors overprescribing drugs, coupled with accessibility has fueled the drug culture.

“And then that gets expensive and heroin’s $10 a baggie,” she said. “They get hooked — they can’t afford the street pills, so they go to heroin.”

Kichline says this fall some of the cases will be tried in Ohio, the results of which could determine what happens next in regard to the Chester County lawsuits.

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Police prepare as thousands flock to Philly for 2019 MIA

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — As many head to the shore or barbecues this weekend, Philadelphia will be abuzz with a Phillies game, Temple football game and the Made in America Festival, which draws about 30,000 people to the Ben Franklin Parkway.

This is the eighth time the Philadelphia police say they have had to patrol the Made in America festival, and Deputy Commissioner Dennis Wilson says they learn from it every time.

“The chief has been on one walk through already, where they light up the venue, at night, so we can get a good view of what we can expect the two nights of this event,” Wilson tells KYW Newsradio.

The two biggest problems in years past: fence hopping and underage drinking.

“So, not only are we citing these juveniles, we are basically babysitting them,” he said.

The kids are brought to, basically, an underage drinking tent, where they are processed by the state police and liquor control. 

“They are issued a citation, and they cannot be released until a parent picks them up,” Wilson explained.

You can bring sealed water bottles or empty containers to fill up and small backpacks, but no alcohol, food or coolers.

“We get a lot of contraband seized before people even get in this event,” he added.

With so many events going on, SEPTA says they are adding more regional rail and bus services, with beefed up security to match.

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Tractor trailer hits airport walkway, PHL issues warning

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia International Airport has issued a warning for passengers after a tractor trailer accident leaves incoming traffic backed up.

Spokeswoman Diane Gerace says crews are on the scene after a tractor trailer drove into a walkway at the airport. 

The accident took place around 1 p.m. on the Departures Road near Terminal B, and is blocking two lanes of traffic. 

Airport officials are suggesting that passengers heading to the airport consider getting dropped off on the arrival roads. 

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Chesco man sentenced to life for shooting next-door neighbor

CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A Chester County man who was convicted of killing his neighbor is on his way to state prison for the rest of his life.

Prosecutor Vince Cocco hopes a life sentence for Clayton Carter gives the family of Brooks Jennings some closure.

“Brooks Jennings was a loving husband to his wife, a tremendous father to his young son. His friends and family are clearly heartbroken and we understand they’ll never be able to fill that void,” he said.

Carter was convicted of first-degree murder in June for shooting Jennings in August 2017. The two argued along their property line in their West Goshen neighborhood. Carter said Jennings came at him with a knife. 

The jury didn’t buy Carter’s justification of self-defense, as his DNA was found on the knife despite his claims that he never touched it.

Jennings was shot twice in the head. 

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At the sentencing, Cocco said Jennings’ 11-year-old son, who was 9 on the night his dad was murdered, stood by his uncle and his grandfather as they read a statement.

“And then at the end, Jill Jennings, Brooks’ wife, when she gave her statement, the last thing she read was three sentences that were written by her son,” Cocco added, saying that his father is gone but his mother continues to be strong.

Cocco said Carter did address the court, but he never apologized, expressed any sorrow or explained what he did. Instead, Cocco said “he blamed others for his viciousness and violence.”

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USW cheers on PES’ latest potential suitor, the former CEO

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  The United Steelworkers are reacting to news that the former CEO of the PES refinery is making a bid on the bankrupt plant.

Ryan O’Callaghan, former president, now spokesman of USW Local 10-1 says the union is pleased that Phil Rinaldi has emerged from retirement, and plans to bid on the refinery and reopen it.

“We hope he moves forward with it. He started PES, he founded the company, he had a vision, and he was unable to push that vision forward, and now he’s at it again, so we’re certainly pleased Phil’s back at it. No doubt about it.”

Rinaldi has formed Philadelphia Energy Industries, and is partnering with RNG Energy Solutions.

O’Callaghan says that’s a good combination to resurrect the plant and embrace the changing face of energy.

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“We’re hopeful that both the conventional refining and the new green, refining part, biofuels, get together and we can move forward with the same level of employment.”

He says PES employed 1,300 people — salaried, management and union, at one time.

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Crews neutralize toxic chemical at PES refinery

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Fire and emergency management officials say they’ve taken a big step forward in the ongoing response to this summer’s fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia. 

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel calls it a huge milestone.

“The neutralization of the largest quantity of hydrofluoric acid (HF) that’s still on the site was completed,” he said. “So that activity essentially eliminated almost 340,000 pounds of HF that was still stored on the site.”

HF is extremely toxic, so neutralizing that much greatly reduces the risk to the community. There’s still some HF on site, but Thiel said it’s a much smaller amount. 

Although this is a big development, the investigation is still active. Thiel isn’t putting a timetable on when he’ll be able to declare the situation under control.  

“Because job No. 1 is safety for everybody there,” he continued. “We don’t want to have any of that escape; it’s mixed with other hydrocarbon products. So still a very complicated operation, which means it’s going to take some time.”

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Delaware Valley utility crews head south ahead of Dorian

NEWARK, Del. (KYW Newsradio) — Power crews from the greater Philadelphia region are on the move to help those in Florida if the power goes out when Hurricane Dorian hits.

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More than 30 workers from Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric prepared to take the long drive south to Florida Friday morning. They’ll be leaving the Delmarva complex in Newark, Delaware around 9 a.m.

They’re following a group of PECO workers who left Thursday.

Larry Lematrie, PECO’s manager of transmission, said it’s a cliche, but it’s true: They’re hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

“Right now the plan would be to stay in northern Florida, let the hurricane hit, assess damage, and move us into the damaged area to repair,” he said.

During Hurricane Irma in 2017, Lematrie said some of his crews spent about 15 days in the Sunshine State, taking time away from their families to help those in need.

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Things to do in Philly over Labor Day weekend

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Labor Day usually means everyone floods the Jersey shore for one last hurrah, but there’s plenty to do in the city and surrounding suburbs.

From food festivals and concerts to last-chance exhibits, we’ve got you covered.

FESTIVALS

EVENT: Labor Day Jazz Festival

DATE/TIME: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday and Monday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Chaddsford Winery, 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford

DETAILS: The festival at Chaddsford Winery will feature back-to-back sets from local jazz musicians. Choose from a variety of seasonal, Pennsylvania-made wines and wine cocktails, or select an ice-cold craft beer. Food trucks will be onsite dishing out snacks and street food.

PRICE: Free to attend; wine and food purchases pay-as-you-go

EVENT: Made in America

DATE/TIME: Saturday and Sunday; shows start at noon both days

WHERE: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

DETAILS: Jay-Z’s Made in America festival returns to the parkway for Labor Day weekend. The festival’s headliners are Travis Scott and Cardi B. Philly rappers Tierra Whack and Lil Uzi Vert will also perform at the summer block party event. For road closures and traffic information, click here.

PRICE: Standard two-day pass is $175; single-day tickets also still available

EVENT: PA STEAM Festival

DATE/TIME: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: ArtsQuest, 101 Founder Way, Bethlehem 

DETAILS: The inaugural festival focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and makers (STEAM), electronic entertainment, and manufacturing and production in a steampunk theme. This event includes workshops, lesson seminars, educational panels, new innovation, demos, digital artists, makers, geek entertainment, cosplay, and more.

PRICE: Free; registration required for panel and workshop entry, cosplay entry, and event raffle entry

EVENT: Philadelphia Reggae Wine, Food and Music Festival

DATE/TIME: Sunday, 1 to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Belmont Mansion, 2000 Belmont Mansion Drive, Philadelphia

DETAILS: The festival includes live soca and reggae sounds, wine sampling, a souvenir glass to keep, and vendors. Your admission ticket entitles you to unlimited wine tasting privileges.

PRICE: Tickets range from $25 to $50

FOOD/DRINKS

EVENT: Manayunk BBQ Crawl

DATE/TIME: Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Begins at the corner of Main and Cotton streets, Manayunk

DETAILS: Attendees will sample foods and drinks from 15 participating restaurants and bars, and there will be live entertainment. Attendees receive a 2-ounce sample of specialty barbecue at each location and $4 featured drink specials. $1 per ticket will be donated to charity. Each attendee also gets a $5 off coupon to each location to be used at a future date.

PRICE: General admission is $9.95

EVENT: Wine Down Weekend

DATE/TIME: Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Historic Downtown Huntingdon, Washington Street, Huntingdon

DETAILS: Stroll through Historic Downtown Huntington for a wine tasting event. Attendees receive a wristband, a custom-printed 8-ounce wine tasting glass, and a map showing the locations of the wineries, food vendors, music stages, and the free photo booth.

PRICE: $20

GET OUTDOORS

EVENT: Labor Day Concert and Fireworks

DATE/TIME: Saturday, 8 to 10 p.m.

WHERE: Penn’s Landing, 601 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia

DETAILS: The event features a free concert followed by a fireworks display. Details have not been announced on who is performing.

PRICE: Free

EVENT: Parks on Tap: Clark Park

DATE/TIME: Friday to Monday; times vary

WHERE: Clark Park, 4300 Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia

DETAILS: The traveling beer garden will be in this popular West Philadelphia park until Monday. It provides fresh food, beers on tap, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages in a festive outdoor environment with comfortable chairs, hammocks, and clean restrooms.

PRICE: Free to attend; drink prices vary

EVENT: Allentown Fair

DATE: Friday to Monday

WHERE: 302 N. 17th St., Allentown

DETAILS: In its 166th year, the Allentown Fair offers musical concerts, international cuisines, rides, thrill shows, and more. Performances include Miranda Lambert on Friday; Why Don’t We on Saturday; and Daryl Hall & John Oates on Sunday.

PRICE: Regular admission is $8; kids 12 and under are free

LAST CHANCE

EVENT: Last weekend to see Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit

TIMES: Museum open 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Marvel exhibit hours extend to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Franklin Institute, 222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia

DETAILS: The exhibit includes a fully immersive design with life-size scenes straight from the comic world. You can also view rare, hand-drawn images of iconic heroes such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Captain America — by the artists who first designed them. There are interactive elements including the opportunity to travel through the mysterious mirror dimension of Doctor Strange, and pose for selfies alongside life-size representations of Black Panther, Spider-Man, and iconic Marvel super heroes. The exhibit closes Sept. 11.

PRICE: Daytime tickets are $35 for adults and $31 for children, which include general admission. An IMAX movie is additional $7. Evening tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children, which do not include general admission; only from 5 to 8 p.m.

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Despite district efforts, most Philly classrooms still hot

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More Philadelphia classrooms will have air conditioning as classes begin next week, but the majority still don’t. 

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The district added air conditioning to 150 more classrooms in eight schools, with 16 more schools getting AC before next spring. But Superintendent William Hite says that’s it for now.

“We will then max out on the number of schools that could support air conditioning,” said Hite. 
     
He says that’s because wiring in many of the district’s old buildings can’t support air conditioning. 

“We could buy the air conditioners tomorrow. The challenge is, in order to upgrade these electrical systems in schools, you’re talking about another $140 million,” he said.

Hite says that’s a price the district can’t afford right now.

“That’s money that’s not available now that we would have to make available, in addition to the time, in addition to having PECO come in and do that work.”

The AC issue attracted attention a year ago, when school began before Labor Day and extreme heat forced early dismissals on three of the first five days of the year. In 2020, the school year will begin on Aug. 31, a week before Labor Day.

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Dozens of guns, 2,000 rounds of ammo, found in Philly home

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A stash of weapons, grenades, and pipe bomb components were recovered from the home of an elderly Northeast Philadelphia man on Wednesday night. 

Lt. Dennis Rosenbaum, with Northeast Detectives, said the response to a home in the 9700 block of Northeast Avenue probably caused quite a stir for the neighbors.

He said the bomb squad, SWAT team members, uniformed officers, detectives and the fire department were there for hours.

The 72-year-old man’s son, concerned about his father’s mental state, called police for assistance.

When police entered the home, Lt. Rosenbaum said they found 19 handguns, 20 assorted long guns—all of which were loaded—and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The son asked that they be removed.

“We had to summon the SWAT officers out there to unload some of the weapons we were unfamiliar with. There’s a lot of military-style from the world wars,” Lt. Rosenbaum said.

Authorities believe the elderly resident was a collector of military weapons and may have been active on the gun show circuit in the past years.

Lt. Rosenbaum said during a search of the garage, police found what looked like the makings of a pipe bomb.

“The bomb squad found that device was not active. They did find components in the immediate area for it, luckily it was not assembled. But it could have been easily,” he said. “At that point they removed all those components,” he continued. 

No charges were filed as of Thursday evening.

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