Delawareans attend historic #selma50 march

Thousands gathered to reenact the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where protestors gathered 50 years ago to fight for the end of segregation.

Several Delawareans, both well-known and unfamiliar, were part of the monumental 50th anniversary march in Selma, Alabama to remember the regrettable history of segregation.

“Well I knew that it would be a great chance to connect with and be inspired by a critical moment in American history,” Sen. Chris Coons (D – Del.) said. “I did not expect some of the people who I met and got to hear from, the range of people I didn’t know or didn’t hear of before who were there.”

March 7, 1965, became known as “bloody Sunday,” after Alabama state troopers beat and gassed peaceful protesters promoting black voting rights. Sen. Coons used the weekend as an opportunity to promote his own bill on voting rights changes, hoping to shed some light on what he calls inequalities stemming from major policy changes two years ago.

“I did talk to several republican colleagues and asked them to co-sponsor the amendment to voting rights,” Coons said. “I was disappointed that they declined, but I will be persistent and determined.”

Hearing stories of mass bombings and listening to the voices of protesters from decades ago, Coons emphasized his respect for the people who risked their safety to promote equality for such a fundamental right.

“I just wish more people could understand what this is about and why it matters,” Coons said. “In some ways, you just have to be here.”

Senator Coons was not the only person out representing Delaware in Selma. Paul Braithwaite, a former director of the Congressional Black Caucus, joined the pilgrimage — something he said he’s wanted to do for years.

“These folks put their life on the line with the basic premise that they want America to live up to its full potential,” Brathwaite said. “They accomplished that, and they had nothing going for them except the sheer power of their dream and their hope for a better America.”

For many, looking back at the history of black Americans is a painful experience. The challenges that once stifled the success of black Americans’ success have slowly cleared, but the resonating tone at the Selma reenactment served as motivation to continue to promote equality.

“President Obama spoke about Ferguson and the challenges today and how to make our county safer,” Coons said. “I’m glad he spoke directly to it. I think we have some difficult work ahead of us to improve the American justice system.”

Participants in the Selma reenactment learned about the culture that was once divided by the superficial difference in skin color, but relating to it is another matter entirely.

“I am appreciative, but to fully understand what they did – I’m not sure it’s possible, but it is certainly extraordinary,” Brathwaite said.

And, while the stories of segregation in Alabama stain the pages of modern history books, many people in Selma on Saturday were moved by the overwhelming sense of togetherness and the concept of teamwork.

“I think one of the things that was said a lot was the notion of ‘we,’ being a very powerful word in the history of our country,” Brathwaite said. “We the people, yes we can. Collectively, what we can all do together. […] Those are powerful statements.”

Contact Greta Iverson at (302) 324-2771, giverson@delawareonline.com or on Twitter @greta_wade.

Originally published on DelawareOnline.com

Delaware State Trooper of the Year named

A state trooper based in Kent County who survived an exchange of gunfire during a routine traffic stop in June has been named Trooper of the Year.

Cpl. Lloyd “Mike” McCann received the honor Tuesday. He was one of 11 troopers nominated, Sgt. Richard Bratz said.

During a traffic stop June 25 near Magnolia, McCann learned a suspect was wanted for multiple domestic charges. After a brief chase, the suspect — later identified as Dennis Hicks, 29 — got out of the car and fired multiple rounds at McCann, landing one on his hand and another on his cheek. McCann returned fire, killing Hicks.

Department of Justice investigators on Wednesday concluded that McCann was justified using deadly force.

McCann is recognized for his courage in the incident. McCann also was named Trooper of the Month in June and Trooper of the Second Quarter for 2014.

The trooper, who has served just over five years, is currently a patrol trooper in Kent County Troop 3, where he also trains new troopers.

McCann is recognized for his dedication to Delaware State Police, and his colleagues hope others can share their gratefulness for McCann’s dedication to the force, Bratz said.

#weatherkitty draws an audience to Cecil County Sheriff Office’s social media pages

Cecil County Sheriff’s office has gained a lot of attention on Facebook… for photoshopping cats into their weather posts with the hashtag #weatherkitty.

The cat, named Foots because of her tiny feet, has caught people’s attention and has drawn in more traffic to the Facebook page than stories about local heroes.

“When you post positive information and people hit the ‘like’ button, it comes up in their news feed,” Cpl. Michael Kalinsky said. “So when we post wanted photos or seeking info on suspects, we get more responses.”

Kalinsky started ‘shoppin the cat into photos after a “thundersnow” forecast last year. He posted a cat with lightning behind it, and it drew in a ton of “likes.”

“There was another corporal here who dared me to keep doing it,” he said. “I don’t put a lot of effort to make her proportional to the image.”

While he manages the sheriff’s office Facebook page, he is still a patrol corporal. He responds to crime scenes and death, but sees #weatherkitty as a way to “lighten the mood.”

Facebookers have responded positively to the kitty. Comments like, “Can’t wait to see where he turns up next!! Be safe on the roads…” fill the page.

Others just appreciate the kitty’s cuteness. “Love that Kitty!! Soft Kitty, warm Kitty, little ball of fur!!! Thanks for the update,” one person posted on an icy conditions advisory post from March 3.

The small 6-pound cat has garnered plenty of affection and attention in Cecil County.

“She’s a mini-celebrity,” Kalinsky added.

The sheriff’s office is glad to finally see some attention for their quirky posts.

“Weatherkitty helps bring new eyes to the page, which is extremely important to us when we need help or want to publicize a case,” Kalinsky said.

While some agencies struggle to gather the public’s assistance, Kalinsky said they’ve seen faster-than-ever responses since they started photoshopping Foots into their posts.

Contact Greta Iverson at (302) 324-2771, giverson@delawareonline.com or on Twitter @greta_wade.

Originally published on DelawareOnline.com

Teens celebrate nonviolence with music

Security guards waited patiently outside Delaware Live in Price’s Corner to pat kids down and check ID before they made it to Friday night’s affordable alternative to unhealthy decisions.

Curated by Wilmington-native MC Blu Chip, 38, the show, featuring several local hip hop artists, was meant to inspire kids to have fun in a safe, healthy way.

“I’m older, so I’m trying to show them this is how you get ahead,” MC Blu Chip said. “I feel good about this energy, this peaceful energy…. It’s good to have everyone supporting each other.”

Teens lined the building while they waited for local artists Kur, Jet Phynx, 43rd Spanx and Lil Torin to take the mic. Family and friends of the musicians gathered to enjoy a fun show that supports a cause they can relate to.

“It’s right on time. It’s all over the land, it’s time for a community to come together for the youth,” David Corston, Blu Chip’s father, said. “With proper guidance, they can learn something out of the violence.”

While some gathered to see their favorite artists, especially the headliner, up-and-coming Kur, others came out to support each other in the movement against violence in their community.

“It’s a positive message to many,” performer Tareek Havik, 17, said. “Too many are dropping like flies, so it’s nice to have a positive moment.”

MC Blu Chip partnered with Jet Phynx to start Solid Collective. The two worked to market the event on social media, especially Instagram, to draw a younger crowd and make it clear that solving violence in their own community starts with them making healthy choices.

The target age of the audience was 13 to 17, but MC Blu Chip was quick to ensure people of all ages were invited to the $10 show.

“I just wanted to get out,” Marcasia Williams, 16, said. “This is my first concert.”

Williams was joined by her 14-year-old sister, Ta’Nasia Williams.

“My parents were like, ‘That would be good if you went to something nonviolent,’” Ta’Nasia said. The sisters giggled together over how excited they were to see one of their favorite artists, Kur.

Instead of kids flocking to drab and dangerous parties, MC Blu Chip hoped to give people a fun – and safe – place to be Friday night.

Yonnie Mcfly, 28, came out to support Jet Phynx, and she was not the only young adult in the mix of teens. People of all ages made their way in to be a part of the scene.

“I think [the violence] is terrible,” Mcfly said. “If people would concern themselves with fellow human beings, they’d see that everyone has the same problems.”

Solid Collective’s show was the first of many, MC Blu Chip said. The brand, centered around music with the message of non-violence, is meant to promote positive decisions while staying relevant to what kids really enjoy.

Contact Greta Iverson at (302) 324-2771, giverson@delawareonline.com or on Twitter @greta_wade.

Originally published on DelawareOnline.com

Canadian Feminine Care Manufacturing Group to Outsource to Delaware

Energizer will consolidate its newer Montreal factory into an existing production facility in Delaware, bringing more than 250 jobs to the Dover area.

The company already owned a Playtex personal care factory in Dover before acquiring Johnson and Johnson’s line of personal care products in 2013. The buyout left Energizer with two production facilities for its feminine care products. Energizer decided to move all the production to Delaware and expand that facility.

“We’re in the process right now,” said Chris Crowelle, Vice President of Operations for Energizer Personal Care. “Since [July] we’ve been in preparation and design phase. The actual move will take place in the next several months. It will expand from now until the middle of 2017.”

While Energizer hopes to bring as many Montreal employees into the new facility as possible, Crowell said only 270 of the jobs will transfer to the new plant. Montreal currently employs more than 400 workers.

Crowelle said he expects few Canadian employees to relocate.

“For those that are willing to come, we will gladly accept them,” he said. “For the majority of positions, we will likely fill from Delaware.”