Delaware State News collects three awards in MDDC contest

Former U.S. Congressman Mike Castle, left, and U.S Senator Tom Carper walk the parade route at Return. This was one of several photos taken at the event that earned the Delaware State News a second place in the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association Editorial Contest. Photo by Marc Clery/Delaware State News

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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The Delaware State News has won three awards in the 2016 Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association editorial contest.

Reporter Matt Bittle won first place in state government reporting for a story headlined, “Unfair justice — State’s top judge, others working to revamp the system.

In his March 2016 story, Mr. Bittle offered insights from members of the legislature, criminal justice system and various nonprofits who believe Delaware’s list of crimes and punishments has become too complicated.

Delaware State News chief photographer Marc Clery and freelance shooters Gary Emeigh and Chuck Snyder were awarded second place for a photo series for their images of Sussex County’s Return Day.

Delaware State News reporter Ian Gronau won second place in environmental reporting for a story on a wayward seal that swam up the Mispillion River into central Kent County.

In the annual contest, the Delaware State News competes with other small daily newspapers in Maryland and Delaware.

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Back in June 2105 before the arrival of the Moving Wall in Dover for a Fourth of July weekend, this column featured a report on an effort to obtain photos of all Delaware servicemen killed in Vietnam.

Just a few weeks ago, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund announced that Delaware has become the 20th state to obtain photos for all of our Vietnam fallen.

There are 123 service members from Delaware listed. Delaware still needed 44 photos two years ago.

The photos will be on display in in the Wall of Faces online – at  – and in a planned Education Center at The Wall in Washington, D.C.

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In an interview posted by Delaware 105.9, Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton, alleges that Burgon Sealy Jr. was quoting the Quran before he was killed in a standoff with police in late April in Middletown. Rep. Smyk also said during the interview that Sealy, 26, was a “budding Jihadist.”

Sealy killed Delaware State Trooper Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard on April 26 in a Bear convenience store parking lot. A motive has not been determined.
The Delaware State News asked House Republican spokesman Joe Fulgham Thursday for a copy of a statement that had been released by Rep. Smyk after the 105.9 report.

It read, “Rep. Smyk is a 24-year Delaware State Police veteran and based his comments on reports he received directly from officers that were at the scene of the standoff in Middletown nearly two weeks ago. On further reflection, Rep. Smyk realizes his conclusions were speculative and premature. The motivations for Burgon Sealy, Jr.’s killing of Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard, as well as Mr. Sealy’s actions in the 18 hours that followed, remain unknown and under investigation.”

Delaware State Police have not released details to the media.

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General Assembly’s June 30 all-nighter to wrap up this session is less than seven weeks away.

Reporter Matt Bittle is keeping a close eye on several issues, including a bill proposing the reinstatement of the death penalty. The measure has passed the House, 24-16, and now awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Word is that it likely will be released by the committee for a full vote by the Senate.

A senate vote is likely to be very close.
House Bill 125 would require unanimous jury agreement for the death penalty.

Delaware’s death penalty statute was struck down by the Delaware Supreme Court last summer because it allowed a judge to make the final decision, a violation of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The killings of Cpl. Ballard and Delaware correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd this year have been cited in pleas for the reinstatement.

It has been more than 14 weeks since the riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, Smyrna, where Lt. Floyd was taken hostage and killed by inmates.

We await word on who was responsible.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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