2015 featured a wide variety of local news stories. Here is a list, in no particular order, of some of the top stories in the Delaware Valley this year.
Eight people died and more than 200 were injured following the derailment of Amtrak train 188 in Philadelphia’s Frankford neighborhood on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.
Pope Francis visited Philadelphia in September to attend the World Meeting Of Families. It was part of Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States as Pope.
While speaking to bishops and archbishops at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope Francis touched on a number of topics, including sex abuse within the Catholic Church. The pontiff said, “God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret. I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable.”
Local residents say they experienced a miracle when Pope Francis spontaneously kissed their one-year-old daughter on the head during his visit to Philadelphia in September. Now, they believe it helped lead to recent scans that show barely any sign of their daughter’s rare, inoperable brain tumor.
Soon after landing at Philadelphia International Airport and getting in his waiting Fiat, Pope Francis stopped the car to bless a child in a wheelchair on the tarmac. The Pope was en route when he asked his driver to stop. He walked over to the young boy, kissed his head and blessed him.
After Pennsylvania entered into month number six without a budget, Governor Wolf announced on Dec. 29 he is vetoing parts of a Republican-passed budget sent to him while allowing emergency funds to get to schools and social service agencies. Unable to get a negotiated budget deal approved in the House, the state Senate sent Wolf a budget much leaner than he wants. Wolf announced that he would sign some of that budget into law while using his line item veto power to nix other parts of it.
Former longtime Councilman Jim Kenney was elected Mayor of Philadelphia in November. He will take office in January, replacing Democrat Michael Nutter, who was limited to two four-year terms.
Philadelphia police officer Robert Wilson III, an eight-year veteran of the force, was shot and killed during an attempted store robbery in North Philadelphia on March 5.
U.S. Airways has flown into the history books. The carrier’s final flight arrived on Saturday, Oct. 17 in Philadelphia. Now, the airline officially merges with American Airlines and the U.S. Airways brand disappears.
In June, Gov. Chris Christie announced his decision to run for President of the United States in 2016. Christie made the announcement from his alma mater, Livingston High School, in New Jersey, where he served as class president for three years. “I am ready to fight for the people of the United States of America,” he said.
After much speculation, Vice President Joe Biden announced in October that he will not run for President of the United States.
Beau Biden, who followed his father, Vice President Joe Biden, into politics and was twice elected attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer in May. Beau Biden was 46.
Criminal charges were filed against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the Montgomery County District Attorney announced on Aug. 6. Kane has long maintained her innocence and said she would not step down from her position.
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez was charged in April with accepting nearly $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions from a longtime friend in exchange for a stream of political favors. “I am not going anywhere. I’m angry and ready to fight because today contradicts my public service and my entire life,” he said. During an arraignment in US District Court, Sen. Menendez pleaded not guilty to 14 federal corruption charges.
On Dec. 1, Maryland’s former Attorney General Doug Gansler was announced as an independent special investigator into what has become commonly known as “PornGate.”
The body of 21-year-old Shane Montgomery was found in early January by a group of volunteer divers, not far from where he disappeared in Manayunk early Thanksgiving morning 2014. The discovery ended a more than five-week search, which included efforts from local dive teams, Philadelphia Police, the FBI and thousands of volunteers — both on the streets and through social media.
The investigation continues into the October death of a toddler in Camden County, New Jersey. Brendan Creato, 3, was from Haddon Township.
Thousands of people were left without power across the region following powerful storms in June. The White House later approved New Jersey’s request for federal disaster relief for four South Jersey counties hammered by the storm that left some 300,000 people in the dark, many of them for days.
Shuttered Atlantic City Casinos Purchased
After four of Atlantic City’s 12 casinos closed in 2014, a few of them were purchased this year. After months of wrangling, the $82-million deal to sell the former Revel casino-hotel property to Florida developer Glenn Straub closed in April. The shuttered Showboat Hotel Casino was sold for the second time in less than a year. Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein will take over the place once the sale closes before the end of 2015.