<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:26:21 -0400 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:26:21 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[NBC10 First Alert Weather: Chilly Halloween]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:24:10 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008517912_1200x675_350241347825.jpg NBC10 First Alert Meteorologist Sheena Parveen's Halloween forecast.]]> <![CDATA[Firefighter Hurt in West Philly Apartment Blaze]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 00:25:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/West+Philly+Apartment+Fire.jpg

A two-alarm blaze engulfed a West Philadelphia apartment building, hurt two people -- including a firefighter, and forced more than 60 people from their homes late Thursday night.

The 5-story building, located at 62nd and Chestnut streets, went up in flames shortly around 11:30 p.m., officials said.

Crews, who got the blaze under control at 1:08 a.m. Friday, rescued several residents who were trapped by the heavy smoke and flames, authoritiessaid.

Officials transported two people, including a firefighter, to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where they are in stable condition.

PECO shut power off to the building -- causing about 10 other nearby homes to lose power.

The fire displaced 66 residents, who are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The Red Paw Emergency Relief Team is caring for two cats and two tutles, pets that were rescued from the building.

No word yet on the cause of the blaze. An investigation is underway.




<![CDATA[Camden Takes on Mischief Night]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:41:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008517811_1200x675_350238275704.jpg Camden's mayor, law enforcement and members of the community were determined to make mischief night a crime-free night.]]> <![CDATA[Remembering Slain Trooper]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:40:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/211*120/Trooper+Bryon+Dickson.JPG The loved ones and co-workers of slain trooper Cpl. Bryon Dickson are breathing a sign of relief after the capture of his suspected killer Eric Frein. NBC10's Nefertiti Jaquez has more.

Photo Credit: Pennsylvania State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Investigators Comb Hangar for Items Left Behind]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:50:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/frein+capture+photo+crop.jpg The abandoned airpark hangar where alleged trooper killer Eric Frein was caught Thursday night is now under investigation for anything he may have left behind. NBC10's Randy Gyllenhaal reports live from the relatively desolate area of the long-awaited capture.

Photo Credit: WBRE]]>
<![CDATA[Christie Controversy Over Federal Funding for Sandy Victims]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:21:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008515955_1200x675_350214211887.jpg A battle over federal dollars to help victims of Hurricane Sandy has some activists saying New Jersey is holding onto the money instead of giving it to those who need it. Governor Chris Christie says the claims are untrue.]]> <![CDATA[Boo is Back! Missing African Savannah Cat Found Safe]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:14:42 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/exotic+cat+missing.jpg

Boo is back! The beloved exotic cat that went missing from its Wilmington, Del. home two weeks ago was found safe Thursday night.

Boo, the African Savannah Cat, who has lived with Richard Todd and his family for nine years was found just before 9 p.m., according to the Delaware SPCA.

"He is not a ferocious cat in any way, he is a standard domesticated cat," said Todd. "He just looks different."

A resident in Todd's Graylyn Crest neighborhood who spotted Boo on Monday compared him to a bobcat.

Boo, who went missing on Oct. 29 is back home with his family.

"He sleeps with my children," Todd said.

Details of Boo's capture have not been released.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Gore Still on Pole Days After Crash]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:27:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/human+remains+midtown.JPG

A Manhattan resident is frustrated by the runaround she says she's gotten from the city while trying to get gore removed from the scene of a gruesome midtown crash last week. 

Cassandra Dunn first contacted NBC 4 New York with photos of what appear to be small bits of remains spattered on a light pole at 33rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Dunn said she believes the remains were left from a crash involving an SUV, taxi cab and several pedestrians last Thursday. The FDNY confirmed two pedestrians were hurt in the crash. 

She said the carnage included fat, blood and hair.

"It's pretty gross, definitely a major biohazard," she said. "People are walking by with their dogs, their children." 

Though the remains haven't been tested, biowaste worker Sal Pain of Bio Recovery Corporation said at the scene Wednesday he's positive they are human.

"You have human hair, all different types of fluids," said Pain, whose company has several high-profile contracts with the city, including for potential Ebola waste removal. 

Pain said the remains will likely "just sit there until someone decides to hose it down." 

Dunn has been on a mission to get the scene cleaned up since the accident, but can't find anyone to help. She called 311, who referred her to the NYPD, who referred her to the sanitation department. 

She then called the state health department, who referred her to the medical examiner -- who then referred her to the forensics department. 

She tried the CDC, who pointed her back to the state health department.

Dunn finally emailed the mayor's office, and she said she's still waiting for a response. 

"Basically, I've been run around and no one wants to help me with this," she said. 

NBC 4 New York's attempts to reach the same departments and agencies yielded the same results: each department referred questions to another. 

A spokeswoman at the city's sanitation department said it was their understanding that "NYPD generally calls a medical waste removal company to crime/accident senes to remove any potential medical waste." 

The NYPD did not respond to a message Wednesday. The FDNY said in certain instances, it hoses down accident scenes as a courtesy but they are not responsible for doing so. The department said it was not asked to do that in this case.

But the mayor's office said Thursday the FDNY typically does wash down the street in those situations and that it cleaned the scene the night of the accident, despite evidence of remains still there Wednesday night. A spokeswoman said a fire battalion went back after NBC 4 New York's report aired and washed it down a second time. 

-- John Chandler contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[Halloween Back on Following Frein Capture]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:15:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tlmd_halloween_trick_or_treat.jpg

Halloween in the Poconos is back on following the capture of accused trooper shooter Eric Frein, according to Barrett Twp. Police.

Authorities made the announcement to reinstate Halloween shortly after 31-year-old Eric Frein was captured Thursday night in a defunct airplane hanger at Old Birchwood Airport in Tannersville, Pa.

Township officials made the decision to cancel all Halloween festivities nearly three weeks ago, much to the dismay of children in Barrett Township.

Instead of trick-or-treating, the township planned "Trunk R Treat" which was to be held on the grounds of Monsignor McHugh School in Paradise Township.

Now, kids in the area can dress up in their costumes and trick-or-treat house to house instead of car to car.

No word on whether the township's Halloween parade or Scarecrow Race will be held Friday.

Frein was captured on Day 48 of a multi-million dollar manhunt. He was wanted for ambushing two state troopers outside the Blooming Grove barracks on Sept. 12. Cpl. Bryon Dickson was killed and another trooper was seriously hurt.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Philly School Cuts Costing District Millions]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:32:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/philadelphia+school+district.JPG In the Philadelphia School District budget crisis, the fight to save millions could cost millions more. NBC10 Investigator Mitch Blacher has the story.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Supporters of Accused Cop-Killer Eric Frein Take to Facebook]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:25:39 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/a4b1b3baeda04a349ee300caa2fca2ab.jpg On day 48 of the police manhunt for outdoor survivalist Eric Frein, fans and supporters of the accused cop-killer have created pages on Facebook to make their support message clear.]]> <![CDATA[City Council Honors Chip Flavor Winner]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:29:35 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Meneko+Spigner+McBeth+Wasabi+Ginger+Potato+Chip+Frito+Lay.jpg

We love wasabi and ginger with sushi, so why not on potato chips?

That's most likely the question that Meneko Spigner McBeth asked herself when she came up with the winning wasabi-ginger flavor combo in the Frito-Lays' second annual "Do Us A Flavor" contest.

McBeth, who was honored by Philadelphia City Council Thursday, says the flavor was inspired by her 81-year-old grandmother, Sayoko Wilson, a native of Japan.

The Temple University medical-surgical nurse was joined in the Council Chambers by her naval financial analyst husband Christopher McBeth, her two youngest daughters and co-workers.

Council members William Greenlee, Cindy Bass and David Oh presented a resolution to honor and congratulate Meneko on her success.

"The Temple University Hospital family rally behind Meneko for both her delicious potato chip and her wonderful contributions to the community. Meneko and her family represent the wonderful diversity and determination of those who live and work in Philadelphia," said Bass as part of the resolution address.

In her acceptance, McBeth said she felt "honored and blessed" to be recognized for winning. The Pemberton, N.J. resident called Philadelphia "a second home."

"I just want to say thank you to my husband, family, friends, co-workers, everyone in this state, and everywhere in America that helped vote for my chip and make me a millionaire," said McBeth

Meneko will be awarded $1 million or one percent of her winning flavor’s net sales through July 1, 2015, whichever is higher. She plans to put the money toward the college tuition of her three daughters.

The Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger chips beat out the other competing flavors like Mango Salsa, Bacon Mac & Cheese, and Cappuccino.

Photo Credit: Diane Bondareff/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[A SEPTA Strike? What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:47:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/SEPTA+Generic+SEPTA+Trolley.jpg

A strike is looming over Philadelphia and the citizens who rely on SEPTA to get to work, school and to go play. There are a lot of moving parts, so this FAQ is meant to explain what you need to know.

Why are we even talking about a strike?

Members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 234, which represents 5,103 SEPTA bus drivers, subway and trolley operators and mechanics, have been working without a contract since the spring. Both sides have been negotiating, but are unable to agree on a major issue: pension reform.

SEPTA management is seeking to freeze pension benefits at current levels for five years and have workers contribute more to their health insurance premiums. The union says SEPTA management is offered larger pension packages than the transit workers. Members also contribute 3.5 percent to their retirement plans, much more than non-union managers, according to the union.

Frustrations reached a head on Sunday when the TWU authorized a strike. Union boss Willie Brown said they would spend a week negotiating, but that workers could walk off the job as early as Monday. He vowed, however, to give riders 24 hours’ notice.

If a strike happens, it would be the 11th time in Philadelphia’s history there was a transit shut down. The longest strike took place in 1983 and lasted 108 days. The most recent strike was in 2009 and lasted six days.

How many people would be affected by a strike?

Nearly 1 million people could be left without a way to get around the area.

On an average weekday, 903,100 people ride SEPTA buses, subways and trolley lines within Philadelphia. Another 71,700 people use SEPTA in the transit authority’s two suburban divisions – Victory and Frontier.

Not affected: The 126,800 people who take the Regional Rail lines every weekday.

What lines and service will be shut down?

In Philadelphia, every bus line, the Broad Street Subway, Market-Frankford El and subway-surface trolleys would cease operations. In the suburbs, some bus lines would stop running.

Here’s where it gets more complicated.

TWU represents workers in the City, Suburban and Frontier divisions. But another union, the United Transportation Union (UTU) Local 1594, represents bus, trolley and rail operators in SEPTA’s Victory division. This division operates the Norristown High Speed Line, Media/Sharon Hill trolleys and buses in parts of Montgomery and Delaware counties out of the 69th Street Transportation Center.

Should the TWU strike, the Victory lines would continue operating. That is, unless, the UTU chooses to strike as well.

UTU workers have been operating without a contract since April and authorized a strike months ago. Local vice president Brian Caldwell said their union is in separate negotiations with SEPTA and would only strike if those talks broke down.

If both unions walk off the job, virtually every bus, subway and trolley line would be shut down.

Can I get fired from my job if I can’t make it to work?

The short answer: Yes.

But it’s more nuanced than that says labor attorney Joel Barras, partner at ReedSmith, LP. There are no legal protections for employees who are unable to get to work because of a transit strike, but Barras said employers would probably make an effort to work out alternatives with staffers.

“It’s about changing schedules, working from remote locations, being considerate or understanding because it’s completely out of the employee’s control,” he said.

But if you know you’re going to have a problem getting to work because of a strike, Barras said to start having conversations with your human resources department right away. That way they won’t think you’re making excuses, he said.

“I would treat it like you would treat a snow day,” he said.

Can’t SEPTA just hire new people to drive buses and run the subways?

Probably, but it would be a huge pain.

SEPTA would need to find competent and trained drivers, mechanics to maintain vehicles and maintenance staff to clean them. A spokesperson said the workers would also need to meet specific certifications to run the lines. To find 5,000 employees that meet all of the criteria would be unrealistic, the transit authority said.

What about that Transpass I already paid for?

Riders who purchased transit passes before a service interruption may receive full or partial refunds for unused passes.

We will be adding new questions and answers as they crop up. So check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ride-Sharing Service UberX in Position if SEPTA Strikes]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:08:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/uber-451549230.jpg

As a SEPTA strike looms, Uber, which it fighting its own battle against the established taxi system in Philadelphia, stands to profit.

A SEPTA work stoppage could halt city bus, subway and trolley service as early as Monday, leaving app-based ride-share company Uber, and the company’s new UberX service, in a position to pick up new passengers.

For its part, the San Francisco-based company estimated to be worth billions, did not mention the possibility of more business in a statement to NBC10.

"Uber will continue to be the safest, most reliable ride on the road,” said company spokesman Taylor Bennett. "And with UberX now an option, we’re also the most affordable way to get around Philadelphia."

However, that new UberX service -- which uses regular cars instead of limousine service like the regular Uber -- will be operating without the blessing of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which licenses cabs in the city.

UberX launched last weekend, offering free rides to those who downloaded the app. The inaugural weekend became contentious when the PPA made good on it's threats and fined drivers and impounded UberX cars.

"This is an abuse of power and a deliberate attempt to protect the status quo that has failed Philadelphians for too long," said Bennett. "We will continue to provide the safest, most affordable ride on the road, and fully stand behind our partners and will cover the cost of any unjust citations."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter showed his support for Uber, and fellow ride-sharing app Lyft, in a tweet. He begged the PPA and ride-sharing services to work out their differences, although it’s doubtful that will happen ahead of Monday’s possible strike date.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Put Acid Bombs in Ex's Car]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:29:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/bottle-bomb-083011.jpg

A 53-year-old Florida man will spend 10 years in prison after stalking an ex-girlfriend who lives in Stamford and planting bombs filled with hydrochloric acid in her car, severely burning her, prosecutors say.

"I don't know what possessed me to do what I did," Frank Mendoza wrote in a letter to the court just before he was sentenced Thursday, apologizing and saying he had intended only to "scare" his victim.

Mendoza was sentenced to 10 years followed by three years of supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking in June. His plea deal had stipulated a sentence ranging from seven to 10 years.

Mendoza, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested in Jacksonville on Aug. 17, 2012, almost two years after he is accused of having planted the bombs that left his ex-girlferiend with severe burns.

Prosecutors said Mendoza began dating the victim in 2008 and “became emotionally and psychologically abusive” toward her. The victim told authorities Mendoza had a lengthy criminal background and claimed to be part of a gang, and that she also noticed him carrying a gun.

The victim tried to break off the relationship and told Mendoza she was moving to Rhode Island for work-related training in September 2010, prosecutors said. In reality, she moved to Stamford.

A month later, Mendoza discovered her real address and began making harassing phone calls to the victim and her friends and colleagues, according to prosecutors. He allegedly traveled to Connecticut in November and showed up at her home and workplace, then returned home to Florida.

Mendoza returned on Dec. 8, 2010, when he flew into New York City and rented a car to drive to Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He drove to the victim’s home in Stamford and planted two bottle bombs in her car containing hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil wicks, according to prosecutors.

The victim went out to her car around 11 p.m. and noticed the interior was wet. She opened the driver’s side door and noticed a bottle on the floor, which began to “smoke and fizz” when she picked it up, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the victim put it down, and the bottle exploded behind her as she ran away. Investigators learned that the first bottle had blown up before she arrived at her car. As a result, the victim “nearly suffered a horrible, disfiguring injury at [Mendoza’s] hands,” prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Arrested in Road Rage Death]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:21:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/th-perla-road-rage-16x9---00002804.jpg

Police have arrested the man they say gunned down an Oakland mother of four in a road rage shooting as she and her husband returned from grocery shopping Sunday.

Carlos Stephen Dubose, 20, of Oakland, was arrested Wednesday in Elk Grove on a murder charge, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said at a Thursday news conference.

"Perla's life mattered," Whent said. "All life matters in Oakland."

Not many details were released on why police suspect Dubose of being linked to the shooting death of Perla Avina, 30. She was shot on 98th Avenue as she and husband Mando Lopez had just bought breakfast ingredients near their home about 12:30 p.m. She died of her wounds shortly afterward.

Lead investigator Leo Sanchez said he was limited in what he wanted to release about the "road rage" death, which is "still unfolding." Dubose was arrested in connection with a murder, but as of Thursday morning, he was not formally charged.

Sanchez said there are no other known suspects and would not comment on how many other people may or may not have been in Dubose's car at the time.

Police did confiscate a silver four-door Volvo and a firearm from Dubose. He added there was some type of "confrontation" involving Dubose, though he wasn't specific. Police credited "a significant amount" of surveillance video and community tips for the arrest.

Since Sunday, police had been looking for who fired bullets into Lopez's 1998 Toyota Camry in what police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said was likely related to some type of road rage.

Earlier this week, Lopez, whose full name is Luis Armando, told sister station Telemundo that he remembers a car tried to veer in front of him on the way back from the market, and "I guess I didn't let him go."

Avina and Lopez have four children, ages 1 to 14. She was a medical receptionist and, according to neighbor Dwyane Jackson, who performed CPR on Avina before she died, "the heart of the family."

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Buzz Kill? Fireball Whiskey Recalled in Europe]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:17:16 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/fireball+image.jpg

When the wedding video featuring a Go-Pro camera and a bottle of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky went viral this week, it only added to the buzz surrounding the enormously popular liquor. With a market share of $61 million last year, the product zoomed past other popular beverages in a very short timeframe.

But news out of Europe may throw a little water on the Fireball party: The product is now recalled in Finland, Sweden and Norway over concerns in the amount of an ingredient that's allowed in certain amounts in the U.S., but is more strictly regulated in Europe.

Propylene glycol, a chemical used in a wide range of products including several foods, drinks, cosmetics, and anti-freeze and de-icing solutions, was found in higher amounts in the whiskey than is permitted by the European Union and Norway.

The beverage owners say it was an “oops” of sorts, stating the bottles were mistakenly shipped to Europe instead of the U.S. The company said it uses a different recipe for bottles shipped to Europe than it does for bottles in North America.

The news prompted some questions about the differing amounts in the company’s U.S. and European versions.

Propylene glycol is considered by the Food and Drug Administration to be a GRAS substance, which stands for “generally recognized as safe.”

NBC5 Investigates has covered questions on the ingredient before, previously finding the chemical in popular water enhancers like Mio, in amounts doctors said were likely of little or no concern, unless ingested in copious quantities.

The owner of Fireball released a statement Wednesday:

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky assures its consumers that the product is perfectly safe to drink. There is no recall in North America. Fireball fans can continue to enjoy their favorite product as they always have.  Late last week Sazerac, the makers of Fireball, was contacted by its European bottler regarding a small recipe-related compliance issue in Finland.

Regulations for product formulation are different in Europe, which explains why recipes for products like soft drinks, alcohol/spirits and even candies and confections are slightly different than their North American counterparts. Fireball, therefore, has a slightly different recipe for Europe.

Unfortunately, Fireball shipped its North American formula to Europe and found that one ingredient is out of compliance with European regulations. Finland, Sweden and Norway have asked to recall those specific batches, which is what the brand is doing.

Fireball anticipates the product being back on shelves for fans in these countries within three weeks.

The company said there would be no recall in the United States, noting they only use 1/8 the amount of propylene glycol the FDA allows in the U.S. They would not comment on how much of the chemical is used in the European product, only confirming they adhere to the stricter guidelines.

<![CDATA[Halloween Curfew in NJ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:36:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/halloween_generic.jpg

Trick-or-treaters – and just about anyone else under the age of 18 – will have to be home by 10 p.m. this Halloween in Newark.

Mayor Ras Baraka announced Thursday that unaccompanied minors must be home between 10 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday to ensure the safety of children and to prevent any late-night mischief.

“Halloween will fall this year on a Friday, which will enable more children to participate in these annual festivities,” Baraka said. “It is important for residents to be safety-conscious at all times, particularly on Halloween night, when children are out on our streets trick-or-treating.”

During the curfew, unaccompanied minors won’t be allowed to be more than 100 yards from their homes unless they are with an adult or are traveling to or from a school or cultural event, work or a religious observance.

Children caught out between those hours would receive a warning ticket that will be kept in police records for six months. Children who miss curfew multiple times could be subject to arrest and a fine of up to $1,000, according to Newark city statutes.

Officials say that extra police officers will also be on patrol Halloween night to enforce the curfew and ensure the safety of anyone enjoying the night’s festivities.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Toilet-Shaped Restroom in the Running for 'America's Best']]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:01:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/175*120/Bowl+Plaza.JPG

As Jeff Goldblum said in "Jurassic Park," "When you gotta go, you gotta go." Few people in a rush truly appreciate a good bathroom. Enter Cintas’ "America’s Best Restroom" contest where a meta-Kansas monument has quickly become the popular underdog.

A toilet-shaped restroom known as Bowl Plaza at the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, Kansas is in second-place behind Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia. Not bad, considering it’s the only public restroom in the Russell County town with a modest population of 407 residents.

"It's been pretty exciting," says Grassroots Executive Director Rosslyn Schultz. "We've seen an increase in visitation to the public restroom" that took four years and thousands of volunteer hours to complete. People even donated items to be placed in the walls.

So far, the center has seen visitors from 56 countries. Oviously, Schultz was thrilled, "for a small town like Lucas, that's a lot."

Here in Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens isn't scared. "We’re definitely trying to flush the competition," says Longwood Marketing Communications Associate Abbey Palutis, glee in her voice at the word play. "We’re pushing for our valued customers to vote."

The Gardens’ restroom is part of the largest Green Wall in America, containing over 47,000 different plant types. "It’s beautiful and resourceful at the same time," finishes Palutis with pride.

Other competitors include the American Girl Place in Chicago, the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis and the Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh.

Cintas is an Ohio-based company that provides a diverse range of services to businesses, restroom-design being one of them. Their bathroom competition began back in 2002 with a simple purpose: to find the most unique, impressive, elegant, and quirky public restrooms.

Since the competition's inception, bathrooms from Wisconsin to Texas have joined the prestigious Cintas Hall of Fame. A Candian version launched in 2010.

Bathroom enthusiasts can cast their votes and take the "Restroom Personality" quiz on the contest’s website until voting ends on Friday.

Photo Credit: Grassroots Art Center ]]>
<![CDATA[A Homecoming Fit for a King]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:52:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/457402746.jpg

Out in Cleveland they’re talking 70 wins and a championship for the Cavaliers.

Quick reminder I: Only one NBA team has ever won 70 games in a season, and the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan leading the way to a record 72 wins.

Quick reminder II: The Cavs are 0-for-44 in their all-time quest for an NBA championship.

But it’s easy to see why expectations are through the Quickens Loan Arena roof, just off the shores of Lake Erie: On Thursday night, LeBron James will put on a Cleveland uniform in a regular-season game for the first time since 2009-10. 

“This is my first home game,’’ he says in a new Sprite commercial, trumpeting his return to his hometown team.

The ad shows him getting a hero’s welcome as he walks into Akron’s Patterson Park, where he played as a youth. It’s as if he never left Cleveland back in July, 2010, to take “my talents to South Beach.’’ That night he became Public Enemy No. 1, with his once-adoring fans burning his wine-and gold No. 23 jersey and the Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, emasculating the franchise’s all-time greatest player in a venomous email seen ‘round the world.

Now he’s back and the NBA has never seen a homecoming like this one.

The Cavs open the season Thursday at the New York Knicks at 8 p.m. He returns with a new baby in tow, having welcomed daughter Zhuri Nova with his wife last week. James also has two sons.

“They all hated him for leaving, but now it’s a great story because he’s the hero again,’’ NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said on Monday. “Villain one day, hero the next. Now all is forgiven. That just shows you how fickle fans can be.’’

O’Neal, who played two seasons in Cleveland with James, had an idea that James would be headed back home. It’s not just that LeBron always had it in the back of his mind to return to where he first became a legend, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Shaq also saw some basketball logic in James’ decision to leave Miami Heat as a free agent, even after leading the Heat to two titles, in 2012 and 2013, and helping the Heat become only the third franchise in league history to go to four straight Finals.

“When a guy goes to four straight Finals, like LeBron did, you figure everything is good and he’ll be staying,’’ O’Neal said. “But what nobody is talking about is what happened to the Heat.’’

In last June’s Finals the Heat’s vaunted “Big Three’’ was reduced to James trying to go one-on-five and getting obliterated in five games by the San Antonio Spurs. With one-time Finals MVP Dwyane Wade looking calcified, and their top big man Chris Bosh largely ineffective, James found himself trying to outduel the Spurs by himself.

Turns out, he had every reason to head back to Northeast Ohio. But first, he had to hear a very big “I’m sorry’’ from Gilbert, the long-time meddling owner. The two met in secret in Florida before he decided to make the move. Gilbert apologized and James proved to be one forgiving soul.

“You hash it out and move on,’’ the four-time MVP said.

James signed a two-year deal for $42.1 million, with an option to rework his contract next summer. What he went back to was a far cry from what the Cavs have now, as they prepare to take the court for their season-opener against the New York Knicks.

“I didn't envision our team being like this right off the bat," James said during pre-season. “I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces. Obviously it happened quicker than I thought."

The Cavs have the makings of a championship contender. Kyrie Irving, who was once intent on returning home to the New York area to play for his beloved Knicks, opted to stay when the Cavs gave him the $90 million maximum salary, just before James announced his return. Then the Cavs used their third No. 1 overall pick in the draft in the last four years, Kansas prodigy Andrew Wiggins, and traded him to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' disgruntled All-Star power forward, Kevin Love.

Irving and Love have zero playoff appearances between them and have never had to perform under such lofty expectations, which is probably the reason James refuses to call his new set-up “the Big Three.’’ But they’re bound to benefit from playing with James, who will be seeking his sixth trip to the Finals since 2007 and his third ring. With the King back on his throne, the Cavs had an easy time adding the necessary fill-in pieces for a strong supporting cast. Players with championship pedigree like Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones ran to play with James. They might be shaky defensively, lacking a big man to protect the rim, but the Cavs should be an offensive juggernaut.

“I don’t see anybody in the East giving them problems,’’ O’Neal said. “Chicago needs to find another scorer to help Derrick Rose. He can’t do it by himself and he’s undersized. The only concern I have about Cleveland is their coach.’’

A veteran of coaching in Russia and Israel, David Blatt, a former Princeton player under legendary coach Pete Carril, has never coached a second in the NBA, not even as an assistant. But he now has the best player on the planet, who still doesn’t turn 30 until December, meaning this is a learning curve that should be relatively easy to negotiate.

Of course, there hasn’t been a champion in Cleveland since the Browns in 1964.

“For LeBron, winning one championship in Cleveland will be the equivalent of winning five titles in Miami,’’ said O’Neal’s TNT teammate, Charles Barkley. “Even if he doesn’t win it this season, you just have to love the fact that LeBron went back home. That’s what I was rooting for and what a lot of people were rooting for.’’

Nowhere more than out in LeBron’s old stomping grounds. He might not win 70 games this season, but no one will be surprised if sometime in June he’s out in front, leading a championship parade.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[K-9s Search NJ High School After Bomb Threat]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:38:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tlmd_empty_classroom_0127.jpg

K-9s scoured an evacuated South Jersey high school after a bomb threat Thursday.

Police evacuated Middle Township High School on S Main Street in Cape May Court House, New Jersey around 10:30 a.m. after someone discovered a threatening note in a restroom, according to Middle Township Police.

No students or staff suffered harm but the building remained evacuated as a precaution.

The K-9 unit, along with local and county police, searched the building as students and staff waited outside.

Around 12:50 p.m. the all clear was given and classes resumed, according to police.

The origin of the threat remained under investigation Thursday afternoon. Anyone with information was asked to call police at 609-465-8700 or the Cape May County anonymous tip line at 609-465-2800.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[City's Site Hacked After Dog Shot]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:32:05 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Cleburne+TX+city+hall.jpg

The FBI is investigating a cyber attack on the city of Cleburne, Texas, that shut down the city’s website and appears to be motivated by a police officer’s controversial shooting of a dog, the mayor said Wednesday.

"We're under attack as we speak,” said Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain. "We consider an attack on the city an attack on the residents, and we're not going to put up with it."

Video showing a police officer shooting a dog has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube. The officer was dispatched to a report of three vicious pit bulls and shot one of them.

The officer is on paid leave while an investigation is underway.

Hackers are using a “denial of service” attack to overwhelm the city’s servers, slowing emails and all but shutting down the city’s website, which residents use for everything from paying utility bills to reporting potholes.

"Our IT guys are working on it around the clock,” Cain said.

Cain promised a transparent investigation into the dog shooting.

"When the review is completed we are going to let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Regardless of what happens with that, he said whoever is behind the hacking is picking on the wrong city.

"If somebody thinks that they are going to send a message to an officer or the city of Cleburne, don't mess with Cleburne, Texas,” he said. “We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. And we're not going to put up with it."

Katherine Chaumont, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Dallas office, confirmed the bureau is assisting Cleburne with the cyber-crime investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Preventing Philadelphians From Auctioning Parking Spots]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:21:35 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/162*120/02fc826ca4f146af9341b076f2ba955c.jpg

Councilman Bill Greenlee doesn’t want Philly residents to auction their hard-earned free parking spot through the app, Monkey parking, which just came the city that inspired Parking Wars.

Philadelphia residents are torn on the topic. While some support the idea, others are unsure if it’s practical to auction free parking.

"I think it's a good idea, but I also see the apprehension," said South Philly resident Spencer Morton. "It does seem like it could happen in the city, especially in this city."

The bill was introduced in City Council Thursday to prevent people from trying to negotiate a price for a free parking spot that is otherwise hard to find.

Councilman Greenlee said he sees potential for violence in the exchange.

South Philly resident Robin Pitt thinks the whole idea is just wrong.

"I don't think you should have to pay for a free parking space,” said Pitt. "This is America, land of the free, survival of the fittest. You get your parking space."

<![CDATA[Pressure on Air Bag Maker to Speed Up Recalls]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:28:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008512332_1200x675_349923907972.jpg The United States government regulators are putting pressure on Takata automotive parts company to speed up production of parts needed to make nearly 8 million air bag repairs.]]> <![CDATA[NJ Crews Battle House Fire]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:23:04 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008512284_1200x675_349921347831.jpg SkyForce10 hovered over the scene of a house fire as crews battled the blaze in Pemberton, Burlington County Thursday morning.]]> <![CDATA[Bear at SoCal Pet Grooming Shop]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:18:43 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/10-30-2014-lancaster-bear-rmg.jpg

A bear visited a Lancaster business district early Thursday in an early morning search for food in trash bins at a pet grooming store before using storm drains to head back toward the wilderness.

The black bear was reported near 15th Street West and West Avenue K in the northern Los Angeles County community in the Antelope Valley. A security guard patrolling the area responded to a report of someone knocking on the business' back door.

"I heard the noise so I know something's out there, but I don't want to meet it face to face," said Lupe Telles, who works in the area.

The security guard arrived to find the bear, which appeared to have a scratch by its eye, going through trash. Deputies arrived before the bear ran down a street and into a storm drain channel.

At about 5:45, the NBC4's crew in Lancaster caught the bear on video as it climbed an embankment above the channel.

Witnesses told NBC4 they think the bear has probably made previous visits. The bear has been seen searching for food at a homeless encampment.

One lifelong Lancaster resident said bears do not usually come "this far down" from nearby mountains.

California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Increased bear sightings -- and other wildlife -- might be partially attributed in recent years to the state's ongoing drought as animals are forced to search for food in areas outside their usual habitat, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. California has just finished its third-consecutive dry year with no end in sight to the dry spell.

Photo Credit: RMG]]>
<![CDATA[Dad of Boy Who Shot Pal Dead Pleads]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:44:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/anthony+senatore+guilty+plea.jpg

The father of a then-4-year-old New Jersey boy who fatally shot his 6-year-old neighbor with his father's unsecured gun has pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in exchange for less jail time, NBC 4 New York has learned.

Anthony Senatore of Toms River pleaded guilty Thursday to the charges in connection with the April 2013 shooting death of Brandon Holt. Senatore's young son shot Holt once in the head with Senatore's gun -- a .22-caliber rifle the father was accused of keeping loaded, unsecured in his bedroom.

Senatore's lawyer previously said his client was "deeply horrified over what took place and feels awful about it," but that the case should've been tried in civil, not criminal, court.

Last November, Senatore rejected a plea deal that would've required him to serve seven years in prison. In exchange for the guilty plea Thursday, Senatore will serve two three-year jail terms simultaneously when he is sentenced Feb. 5.

Senatore had originally faced six counts of child endangerment -- one for each of the five unsecured firearms investigators say they found accessible to his three children and one for endangering the welfare of Holt by leaving his gun in a place where his own child could get it. . 

The Holt family has filed a lawsuit against the Senatores accusing Senatore and his wife of recklessness that led to their son's death. .  

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[This Week's Wednesday's Child]]> Wed, 12 Dec 2012 18:34:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/meaganvai.jpg NBC10's Vai Sikahema introduces you to some of the area's amazing young people who dream of being connect to a loving forever family. Visit the Wednesday's Child Home Page on NBC10.com

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[DRAMATIC VIDEO: Firefighters Rescue Women]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:24:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/216*120/33rd+Street+Strawberry+Mansion+Fire+Rescue.JPG

Philadelphia firefighters and neighbors teamed up to rescue two women from a row home fire in Philadelphia Thursday morning.

SkyForce10 captured the dramatic rescue along the 1800 block of N 33rd Street in Strawberry Mansion around 9:45 a.m.

As some smoke pours out of a window you can see what appears to be a woman in a black shirt and an older woman in red out on top of a bay window.

Firefighters guide the frightened younger woman slowly down the ladder to the lower roof. Once on the lower roof, you can see two men come out of a neighboring home and help the woman into the adjacent home.

The firefighters then help the older woman down the ladder and carry her into the same next door window.

Firefighters said everyone made it out safely and despite the victims being visibly shaken -- and at least one woman being taken away in an ambulance -- there were no serious injuries.

The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania helped out three families affected by the blaze.

Photo Credit: SkyForce10]]>
<![CDATA[First Look at Observation Deck at One World Trade]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:39:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005204499_1200x675_349634115746.jpg It's a symbol of strength that's now part of the New York City skyline. We're getting our first look at the observation deck at One World Trade. Rob Schmitt reports.]]>