A Sunday service honors police, firefighters, EMTs

By Charlotte Reese 

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In honor of law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders, the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul held a special mass Sunday morning. 

The Blue Mass celebrates those that serve to protect the community everyday, and Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy says being recognized is just an added bonus. 

“It just touches a certain place in my heart that we never ask for any type of recognition, that’s not what we do. We do what we do because that’s a calling to what we do. It’s just nice to recognized,” said Murphy.

This year’s mass was arranged by the League of the Sacred Heart, which looks to bring first responders together in a spiritual way. 

Captain Lou Campione of Philadelphia’s 1st District understands that importance.

“We’re sharing our faith with others and that presents a fraternity, a camaraderie and helps each other as we do our daily assignments,” Campione said. 

At the end of the service, people shook hands and thanked those who came wearing their uniform. 

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Cheyney gets visit from successful black business owners

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia-area college students and residents get a master class in entrepreneurship from some of the country’s most unique business owners, and the focus was on minority businesses.

Master P is best known as a rapper, actor and philanthropist who’s sold more than 100 million albums and continues to venture into different fields. He stopped by Cheney University for their Friends and Family Day to show others how to build their businesses.

“This is so important because we only show up when it’s sports events, basketball, football or baseball, but why not show up to something to empower us and educate us on how to keep some money. Not just how to get some money,” he said. 

Master P spoke on a panel with other successful black entrepreneurs about financial literacy.

“You look at African Americans, we don’t look at the importance of education. It’s important for us to see people successful that look like us, come from the same struggle and pains that we come from and just to let our people know we can make it out of this,” he said. 

James Lindsay, who also sat on the panel, is a Cheney alum and owner of the potato chip company Rap Snacks.

“I want them to take away that anything is possible if you continue to work, put your work in and believe in what you’re doing,” Lindsay said. 

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He had a universal message for aspiring business owners.

“Putting the work in. You can have all of the people in the world around you, but if you don’t have that sticktoitiveness and be able to understand you have to work everyday and out work everybody, you’re not going to be as successful as you would like,” Lindsay added. 

Lindsay says snacks are a $540 billion industry and with blacks own less than one percent of it, he wants to help change that.

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Harleysville teen invents spotted lanternfly trap

HARLEYSVILLE, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A couple middle school students from the Philadelphia suburbs are among 30 teens selected to present in a national science competition. One of those projects tackles the obnoxious spotted lanternfly. 

Rachel Bergey and her family had tried wrapping the 80-some maple trees on their Harleysville property with those yellow sticky tape traps, but she said they found a few problems: the lanternflies didn’t always stick; other beneficial insects and even other animals got stuck on the tape; and the tape got completely covered by lanternflies.

“And when it did become full, other spotted lanternflies could climb on the backs of the other ones and just get right back up the tree and it was just like nothing was there,” Bergey explained. 

So she started watching the bugs and noticed something. 

“They want to go up and not down. Once I discovered that I was like, ‘Oh wait, I’ll create a little barrier for them,'” she said. 

“There was a lot of trial and error, almost to the point of ‘is it worth it anymore?'” 

Rachel’s mom, Rachelle, said they thought about throwing in the towel, but Rachel stuck with it. 

“One day, I was out there and I had put tinfoil around the tree and I accidentally made a little hole where the clothespin was connecting the two ends and it got through, and I’m like, ‘Ugh, it got through.’ And then I was like, ‘Wait, it got through!’ And that was basically where I got the idea,” the 14-year-old said. 

That idea is the tinfoil barrier around the tree with a tunnel that leads the lanternfly into netting, where Rachel said they tend to die within 24 hours. She said her research shows this trap catches 103 percent more lanternflies than the sticky tape and 94 percent fewer other insects.

She said this was a true research project because we don’t know much about the spotted lanternfly, so she had to observe rather than just Google.

After wins at the county level and at Drexel’s Del Val Science Fair, she’s one of just 30 students from across the country who will present at the Broadcom MASTERS Competition in Washington, D.C. next month.

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She’s applied for a patent, but acknowledges there’s a lot that needs to be done before it could be marketed. But, Bergey said, if it helps people catch and kill spotted lanternflies and save trees, it’s all worth it.

Alaina Gassler from West Grove, Chester County designed a system to help reduce blind spots on cars and is also among the 30 finalists. 

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Study: City pays $20M in overtime for Philly cops in court

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Police Department is the top driver for overtime in Philadelphia, and a new study by a fiscal watchdog group points to court time as the reason. The group has also suggested ways to cut that time in half.

The police department averages about $60 million a year in overtime for events like the Mummers Parade or Fourth of July concert, but a third of the overtime is spent for cops testifying in court.

“Court overtime the last seven years was always running the same. It was always around $20 million,” said Harvey Rice, executive director for Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a financial oversight agency for the city.

He said they tracked overtime in court during the fiscal year of 2018. 

“To see what was cause of overtime and see if we could get the city to reduce overtime, because that means more dollars for other city services that could be spent,” he said. 

Related: City of Philadelphia facing lawsuit over error-ridden paychecks

They found prosecutors were asking several cops involved in a case to be in court for several days or on their time off.

“None of the systems of the departments and agencies talk to each other, so they need to find a new system to better run the court overtime and make it more efficient,” he said. 

If there was a streamlined system which works with prosecutors on which officers they need to testify and tracks the time spent in court, they could slice the overtime in half, Rice explained. 

“There needs to be a better working relationship between the district attorney and the police on who to subpoena, and once that officer is then excused from court, then better efficiencies to take that officer off the overtime even though that case may still be in process,” he added.

The group has also suggested the city focus on the issue during police contract negotiations next year.

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Devon facility to house undocumented migrant children

DEVON, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Some people who live in a Chester County community are angry after learning the Devereux facility on Highland Avenue in Devon will become a shelter that will house undocumented migrant children. 

During this month’s Easttown Township Board of Supervisors meeting, the board had a tough time calming down the residents who showed up to say they aren’t happy.

“Originally we all thought that was going to be a 14 home community going up, from what Devereux said,” explained Young Hyon, who lives close to the Devereux facility. “That’s not the case and they’re going to put a detention center in there for children.”

Devereux representatives say this isn’t a detention center. They’re calling it a place where children separated from their parents can stay short-term and that it will “provide a transitional environment for the children.”

But Hyon and other neighbors didn’t seem to be buying into that.

“If the children aren’t allowed to leave, what is it then?” he asked. “And they’re being detained there. To me it’s a detention center, they’re just trying to sugar coat it. We’re just protesting the fact they’ve been sneaky, hiding it.”

“We’re not upset with the premise of trying to help orphaned immigrants,” added neighbor Bob Mclaine, who lives right across the street from Devereux. “And we would love to find a way to help them if we could, but this is federal program on a track that has its own ends and its own means of intention. Since we never were privy to how that process was established with Devereux and placed into our immediate community, we don’t know what to think other than we don’t trust the condition and the situation.”

Neighbors say that another major concern is the fact that children who previously stayed at Devereux would often run away and hide out in the community, sometimes within residents’ properties. The fear is that the pattern will continue, especially since Devereux says there will be one adult responsible for every eight children.

“If you’re detained and you see daylight, eight kids against one person, how are they going to be able to detain eight children if there’s only one adult,” wondered Hyon. “You can’t detain them, so it looks like we’re going to have a problem more with kids running away.”

“That really is disconcerting, and it brings a lot of anxiety to us,” added Mclaine.

Residents said they initially expressed those concerns to the board members, but board members said they were not aware of any of this until it was brought to their attention during the meeting.

Leah Yaw, a representative with Devereux was in attendance. She stood up during the meeting and answered questions from the community directly. The board had to control the crowd as they vented their frustrations toward Yaw. 

After the meeting, Yaw spoke with KYW Newsradio. She outlined some of the details for the new facility.

It will house children ages 5-12. They can house as many as 42 children, but don’t plan to have that many inside at one time. They received a $14-million grant from the Department of Health and Humans Services to make this happen. Devereux gets reimbursed for those expenses and will not be making any profit from the facility.

When Yaw was asked by KYW if she understood where the anger of the residents was coming from, she responded that she couldn’t speculate on that. 

“I can’t speculate what their own feeling or own concerns are,” she responded. “They want more information, we will absolutely meet with them, any time, any place, individually or collectively to share that information. And hopefully we’ll come to a positive resolution so we can get to the important work of helping children.”

Devereux officials plan to hold a future public meeting with neighbors, according to Yaw. At the time there is no firm date when the children will arrive and Yaw said they plan to keep it that way until everyone is on the same page.

Residents say they plan to file an appeal to the zoning board in hopes of stopping this new facility from opening. That would be followed by a hearing.

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Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant used for offshore wind power

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey wants to take the lead in providing offshore wind based electricity. State utility regulators have approved a plan that could pave the way for just that. 

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has approved a bid by Denmark-based Orsted, which is planning to build an 1100 megawatt wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, to use the closed Oyster Creek nuclear plant as a means to connect into the regional power grid.

“One of the critical components we think about is plugging the wind farm into shore,” Kris Ohleth, an official in charge of the Ocean Wind project, told KYW Newsradio, “and we like to do that in parts of the grid that are already hardened and already have existing electrical infrastructure.”

The plant will handle 800 megawatts. They’ll need at least one more hookup point, and they’re looking at two possible sites. One is in Atlantic City, and the other is just west of Ocean City.  

So what will this mean to consumers?

“This really paves the way for potential cost savings in terms of the overall project,” Ohleth added. “Those things are still being determined in terms of the exact numbers but this is a very positive development in terms of potential costs to the project and ratepayer.”

But consumers could be responsible for part of that bill down the line.

Additional state and federal environmental permits will be required before the farm goes online, which is expected in 2024.

Orsted is also looking for local businesses to help in developing a supply chain for the plant. They’ve set up a registry for companies to get involved in the project. That can be done through the project’s website.

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Hurricane Maria, 2 years later Puerto Rican community rally

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two years later, victims in Puerto Rico still need help from Hurricane Maria. Supporters in Philadelphia called for action on Saturday. 

Hundreds marched along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from City Hall to the Art Museum in a rally to show support for the people of Puerto Rico.

Rhode Diaz of Make The Road Pennsylvania was one of the participants. She says aid is still needed on the island and elected officials need to step up.

“My mom’s house, the roof fell off the house. There’s a lot of people just trying to find jobs there is not enough money.”

Related: Latinx culinary celebration to benefit rebuild efforts in Puerto Rico, 2 years after Hurricane Maria devastation

Laura Rose helped organize the march. She says conditions in Puerto Rico are still dire. 

“People are still sleeping with blue tarps as roofs. Roads are still washed out infrastructure and power is still not good,” she said. “So they still need that federal aid money.” 

Organizers also used to opportunity to get people politically engaged.  

“We are talking about voting registration today. We are talking about a fair and accurate count for the 2020 census and we are talking about civic engagement,” Rose said. 

The crowd also paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the hurricane. 

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Latinx food to benefit Puerto Rico Maria recovery

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — This week marks the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico. Two Philly women from the island have teamed up with some of the best local chefs to help raise money for recovery efforts. 

Marangeli Mejia-Rabell says food unites people. 

“Food is at the core. All the other divisions, political differences, religion, class language, all go the side..and we can have a good time together.” 

That’s why she and her partner Amy Rivera Nassar have teamed up to create Gusto. The food series will spotlight food flavors and traditions from Latin America and the Caribbean. All proceeds will benefit Puerto Rico.

GUSTO kicks off next Friday, September 20th! Join us as we celebrate our event series with beer, wine and Puerto Rican coquito! Food provided by @locoluchos @la_finca_catering & Amy’s Pastelillos! Musical debut by @lesterreymusic! All proceeds to benefit Puerto Rico rebuilding efforts! ✊–✊–✊–✊——

A post shared by GUSTO Philly (@gustophilly) on

Mejia-Rabell says thousands of survivors are still recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, two years later. She says many people are still living in roofless homes covered by blue tarps. 
“There’s a very low percentage of folks that requested support from FEMA that got it,” she said. 

She says while many people seem to have moved on, they haven’t, because some Puerto Ricans are still in need and suffering. In addition to rebuilding, she says one of the main concerns is addressing the trauma following the hurricane.  “There are children in Puerto Rico, that they say now it rains and they start crying.” 

Since Maria devastated the island in 2017, she and her partner have been working with local chefs to create the Gusto series which will feature an exclusive dinner by two James Beard Award nominees. Chef Maria T. Mercedes Grubb is a lead chef at Gallo Negro in Puerto Rico and Chef Christina Martinez owns South Philly Barbacoa.

The kickoff event for the Gusto series was held at an art gallery in North Philly on Friday evening. From the outside, the teal blue and apple green doorway may seem like a normal apartment in North Philly. But, for so many, it’s an oasis and a home away from the island of Puerto Rico. 

“We have done concerts here, we present bands that come from Puerto Rico. We usually do some potluck, hangout, afterparty..so this is home.” 

Friday night’s event featured a selection of pastelillos from Amy’s Pastelillos and more. 

“We have a little bit of arroz con pollo, we have chicken Philly cheesteaks…coquito!” 

Mejia-Rabell says many of her loved ones are still in despair, still, Gusto is a celebration of resilience and strength.

“Because at the core we want to celebrate the resilience of our people, and the strength of our spirit, and the strength of the talent..and how when it’s time-we come together and we figure it out.” 

Several more events are planned for the next couple of months. 
 
GUSTO Event Series Details:

GUSTO Takeovers at Garage Philly  
When: Oct. 24 
            Nov. 14
            Dec. 12            
Where: Garage Fishtown, 100 E. Girard Ave., Philadelphia

GUSTO Octavitas Dinner at Reading Terminal Market
When: Jan. 14
Where: City Kitchen at Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

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Cyclists ‘saddle up’ to raise money for MS

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Thousands of bikers will cycle 75 miles from Cherry Hill to Ocean City to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. 

Bike MS: City to Shore has raised more than $1.3 billion dollars over the past 30 years of the event. The enthusiasm and energy at the starting line on Saturday morning explain why. 

Don Tucker beat MS in 2012. His friend Donald decided to support his victory by riding alongside him. 

“I’m a believer in riding and living life with an intention. When I met him, he told me his struggles, we were riding. I said, you know what, you do it and I’m in it with you,” Donald said. 

Tucker started doing the ride in 2012 with just two other people in his group, and he says they ride for those who can’t.

“I got a few more than two riders here today. Got 15!”

The route has a few different options. Tucker and Donald were planning to complete the 100 mile option, which includes a 25 mile loop halfway to the shore. The group of 15 raised $7,200 through their participation. 

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Family of murdered Temple student sue bar she met killer at

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The family of murdered Temple University student Jenna Burleigh is suing the bar where she and her convicted murderer met, claiming they were negligent and continued to over-serve the pair. They want stricter policies and training for bar employees.

Jenna Burleigh met Joshua Hupperterz at Pub Webb in North Philadelphia, near Temple University’s campus. Days later, Burleigh’s body was found in the Poconos. 

She had been strangled. 

Hupperterz was convicted in her murder and during the trial, prosecutors showed videos of the pair drinking and stumbling.

“Joshua Hupperterz was at Pub Webb for a little bit more than two hours, and by the testimony Pub Webb’s own owner and employees, was served at a minimum nine shots, well in excess of what responsible service would be,” said attorney Bob Mongeluzzi, who is representing the family. 

“When he went to pay for his shots, he fumbled his money and it went to the ground,” Mongeluzzi said. 

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State laws require bartenders to get training in responsibly serving alcohol.

“They hope with this lawsuit that they will change behavior, that bars will comply with the law, that no one will get over-served alcohol, and that no other family has to go through what they have gone though,” Mongeluzzi said. 

Jenna’s father, Ed, echoed this, saying they want change.

“…To enforce the law and train their employees properly to recognize the over-serving of alcohol,” he said. 

The family has set up a nonprofit in Jenna’s name, which collects goods to distribute to the homeless.

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2 new student reps take their seats on Philly school board

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two high school seniors have taken their positions as non-voting members on the Philadelphia school board. 

Abraham Lincoln High School’s Doha Ibrahim and Imere Williams, who goes to Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia, bring varied perspectives to their new jobs as the student voices on the school board.  

Ibrahim, who came to Philadelphia from Canada, says she was castigated for being Muslim.

“I came in eighth grade. I wore a scarf. I looked different. I spoke another language, and I guess students found it like a target for me to tease, yeah. It was hard,” she said. 

But she believes she was able to win them over. 

“I think over time they learned the type of person I am, and we’re all here is to just graduate middle school and go on to high school and get that education,” she added.

She is the student government president at Lincoln High, and the head of the English as a second language ambassador program.

“I speak Arabic, so I can take their opinions on the school district or the things that they want to see happen and change and translate that to the board. I think that’s what I can bring to the table,” she said. 

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Williams is the board’s first student representative from a charter school, and he wants to bridge the gap between charters — which educate a third of Philadelphia’s students — and traditional public schools.

“If there’s a division then we’re not going to get anywhere. We all have this common goal: to make the School District of Philadelphia the best school district, to make it a model school district. But if we’re divided, we’re not going to do that,” he explained. 

Williams is inspired by his mother, who has cerebral palsy.

“Life has not been kind to her. She has a disability. She was brought up in foster care. Her foster care mother was very mean to her growing up and said a lot of things that didn’t make her want to go on,” he said. 

Williams wants to be a teacher.

“I want to be the best educator to walk foot on this earth. Like, that’s my goal.”

And he expects his experience as a board member will provide some valuable insight.

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2 injured at Philly high school football game shooting

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two teenagers are injured after a shooting took place during a high school football game in Nicetown-Tioga Friday night.

Police say it happened around 7:40 p.m. inside the Marcus Foster Memorial Stadium on Germantown Avenue and West Hunting Park Avenue. 

A 15-year-old boy was shot in his left thigh and a 14-year-old boy was shot in his left foot. Both teens were taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center and listed in stable condition.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is still active. 

___

This is a developing story. Stay with KYW Newsradio for the latest. 

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Study: Decline in bird population over past 50 years

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Birds that live and breed in North America are in big trouble. That’s the conclusion of a major study published Thursday, which is more evidence that the natural world is in crisis. 

Lead author Ken Rosenberg, a senior scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says the bird population in our hemisphere has shrunk by 29% since 1970.

“We were stunned to see this net loss of 3 billion birds, so that’s across over 500 species of birds in this 48 year period,” Rosenberg said. 

He says researchers used nearly 50 years of data, most of it citizen science like breeding bird surveys as well as weather radar, which shows birds in migration.

“We were able to go back 11 years and look at the total mass of spring migration, and we see this incredible decline there as well —14 percent decline in just 11 years,” he explained. 

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Rosenberg says it’s clear the big driver is habitat loss and degradation through development and intensive farming. But also implicated are free-roaming domestic cats, as well as collisions with plate glass, which birds don’t see as solid. 

He says if we lose birds, we lose the services they perform. 

“As predators, prey, pest control keeping insect populations in check, dispersing seeds, helping forests regenerate.” 

The only population to increase is waterfowl, which ironically have benefited because of activism by hunters’ groups like Ducks Unlimited. Rosenberg says that’s cause for optimism as a sign that people can halt, and even reverse, the problems they’ve caused.   

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Toomey more “optimistic” about gun background check bill

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who met with reporters at his Philadelphia office Friday, says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about his gun background check bill after some tweaks suggested by Attorney General Bill Barr. 

Toomey says after meeting with Barr this week, he’s a bit more optimistic about expanding background checks to all commercial gun sales.

“My goal in this effort is the same goal I’ve had for several years now, which is to do more to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns in the first place,” Toomey said. 

Toomey says the attorney general suggested establishing a system allowing licensed agents to conduct background checks instead of only gun dealers, and a system that would have sellers — not the government — keeping records of the transactions.

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Toomey says Democrats think the changes don’t go far enough, and some of his fellow Republicans would rather do nothing. He says he met with President Trump on the suggestions, but he doesn’t know if the president will support them.

“I don’t know what the outcome is going to be” he said. “But I can say that there is a momentum that I haven’t perceived in quite a long time.”

But Toomey says Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t going to bring any bill to the floor that the president won’t sign. 

“If we have a president who is not going to sign it for whatever reason, then we have to ask ourselves whether it’s worth spending a week on the Senate floor when we could be doing other things,” Toomey added. 

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Maureen Faulkner wants DA recused from Abu-Jamal’s appeal

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The widow of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner wants the Philadelphia district attorney to recuse himself from his convicted murderer’s appeal.

Maureen Faulkner has filed a petition, saying District Attorney Larry Krasner is not fighting Mumia Abu-Jamal’s claims police officers and prosecutors traded favors with eyewitnesses during the 1982 trial.

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Abu-Jamal’s most recent appeal went to the higher court after Krasner said he wouldn’t oppose the convicted murderer’s appeal in the lower court.

The 65-year-old is serving life behind bars since his death sentence was overturned in 2011. 

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