In 2021, Delaware Online/The News Journal reporters dug into everything from a condominium complex on the brink of collapse to a collection of thousands of photos of Delaware license plates.
Some stories followed the tides of national news – for instance, as the U.S. exited Afghanistan a Delaware woman worked the phone to get her past co-workers out of the country – but in many cases reporters charted their own courses, investigating local issues that would likely otherwise go unnoticed.
That work is only made possible by our loyal subscribers. Here is a taste of the most read stories of our subscribers.
The history and future of the Wilmington Riverfront
After city officials in May announced plans to develop the east side of the Christina River in Wilmington, Delaware Online/The News Journal published a series of stories on the Wilmington Riverfront’s formation and cultural impact.
The stories considered the Riverfront’s origins, its recent growth and what neighboring residents want to see from the new investment.
COST: Hundreds of millions in tax dollars built Wilmington’s Riverfront, was it worth it?
GROWTH: Wilmington Riverfront went from a hot mess to a hot destination. How did they do it?
SOUTHBRIDGE: Residents call for equal investment in $100M Riverfront East plan
What to expect as tax officials begin visiting every home in Delaware
The first sweeping reassessment of property values throughout the state in decades began in September.
A Delaware judge ruled last year that the way the state’s three counties calculate property values for taxing purposes – a method that assesses homes based on their worth in the last reassessment decades ago – is unconstitutional.
Over the next few years, data collectors from a government contractor will visit every home in the state. The data gathered will eventually be used as a foundation to combine with recent and localized market sales data to determine current home values, as close to the market value as possible, for calculating tax bills.
REASSESSMENT: Tax officials are visiting every home in Delaware. What to expect
Delaware’s most accomplished athletes of all time
Our sports reporter Kevin Tresolini faced a tall task in the middle of 2021: rank the 100 most accomplished Delaware athletes of all time.
Tresolini, to no surprise, completed the assignment with flair. His list offers a look back at some of the state’s recent high achievers like WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, gymnast Morgan Hurd and tennis player Madison Brengle, and provides a history lesson into the feats of yesteryear’s stars such as pitcher Vic Willis, tennis player Margaret Osborne du Pont and swimmer Steve Gregg.
As part of the package, Tresolini and high school sports reporter Brad Myers also chose the most accomplished athletes of all time from each Delaware high school.
THE LIST: Who are Delaware’s 100 most accomplished athletes of all time?
Why 51 state employees in Delaware made over $200,000 in 2020
Fifty-one state employees made more than $200,000 in 2020, nearly double the number of people who made that sum the year before.
The increases were due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic demanding more hours of top health officials and Black Lives Matter protests prompting more police overtime.
The highest-paid state employee? Division of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Rick Hong. His total earnings amounted to $301,321, which includes overtime and “other” earnings.
EXPLAINED: Why 51 state employees in Delaware made over $200,000 in 2020, nearly double from 2019
An officer, a dead probationer and questions about accountability
The family of Kisha Reilly, a Delaware woman who died from a drug overdose in 2018, said Reilly was coerced into a sexual relationship by one of her probation officers as he turned a blind eye to failed drug tests and helped fund her drug use and court-ordered rehabilitation.
The connection between Reilly and the probation officer exposed a gap in state law that fails to clearly place consequences on officers who abuse their authority, Delaware Online/The News Journal reported.
THE FULL STORY: An officer, a dead probationer and questions about accountability
His low-digit Delaware tag project has taken nearly 15 years. He needs only 27 more plates
Jordan Irazabal has a unique hobby.
The Wilmington man has been collecting photographs of the lowest digit Delaware license plates – an obsession of many First State residents for the status is supposedly conveys – for nearly 15 years.
Irazabal’s collection of the 3,000 lowest plates was missing 27 photos when he caught up with Delaware Online/The News Journal in October.
COLLECTING: His low-digit Delaware tag project has taken nearly 15 years. He needs only 27 more plates
They’re targeted by the Taliban. A Delaware woman is trying to get them out of Afghanistan
Thousands of Afghans who worked with the U.S. during its two decades in Afghanistan scrambled for safety as the U.S. military withdrew in August.
Delaware Online/The News Journal told the story of Amy Kaufman, a Dagsboro woman who was involved in a program with the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan. Her phone rung day and night with desperate pleas from co-workers.
AFGHANISTAN: They’re targeted by the Taliban. A Delaware woman is trying to get them out
Developers vs. farmers in Delaware: Eye-popping land prices entice
In a two-part series, Delaware Online/The News Journal examined the dynamic between home builders’ increasing appetite for developable land in Kent and Sussex counties and the farmers weighing whether to cash out.
Agriculture remains a top contributor to Delaware’s economy, raking in about $8 billion each year. But, the state’s population continues to balloon with the greatest leaps in Sussex County.
THE STATE’S ROOTS: As developers carve up rural Sussex County, can farmers hang on?
PRESERVATION: How Delaware is trying to save rural land as developers offer a premium
On brink of condemnation, condo situation parallels Surfside disaster
Decades of structural defects and water damage put a 30-year-old condominium complex at risk of collapse. Disagreements among condo owners prevented repairs from moving forward, Delaware Online/The News Journal reported.
The issues at Le Parc Condominiums in Fox Point mirrored those at Champlain Tower South, the site of a deadly collapse in Surfside, Florida in June.
THE FULL STORY: On brink of condemnation, NCCo condo situation parallels Surfside disaster
After years of losses, can Gulftainer deliver on Port of Wilmington promises?
Three years after saying it could transform the Port of Wilmington into one of the East Coast’s largest gateways, the future of Gulftainer in Delaware is in question.
The local business suffered continuous losses and even “ran out of cash,” Delaware Online/The News Journal reported.
“We’re actually running a port for three years now, running a port for three years and losing money all of the time,” said Peter Richards, who heads Gulftainer’s U.S. operations at the Port of Wilmington and Port Canaveral in Florida.
FUTURE OF THE PORT: After years of losses, can Gulftainer deliver on Port of Wilmington promises?
Up to 1,000 workers, robots run Amazon’s largest warehouse in Delaware
With the help of $4.5 million in state incentives, Amazon opened its latest Delaware facility – a five-story, 3.8-million-square-foot fulfillment center – in September.
It’s the first site in Delaware where employees work alongside robotics that transport products around the warehouse.
AMAZON HISTORY: Amazon’s largest warehouse opens soon in Delaware. Up to 1,000 workers, robots to run high-tech site.
Wilmington lawmaker uses anti-Asian slur in email sent to wrong recipient
In a June 27 email discussing legislation intended to protect sex workers, a Wilmington state legislator used an anti-Asian slur and other sexual language, referring to sex workers as “chink broads,” Delaware Online/The News Journal revealed.
The comments from Democratic state Rep. Gerald Brady were made in an email exchange with an advocate living outside of Delaware. A week after the email was published, Brady announced he won’t seek reelection when his term ends in 2022.
Groups including Delaware Asian American Voice called for his resignation.
THE FIRST STORY: Wilmington lawmaker uses anti-Asian slur in email sent to wrong recipient
Delaware restaurants with great views of the water
Ahead of summer and with the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, Delaware Online/The News Journal compiled a list of 11 Delaware restaurants with outdoor seating and views by the water.
The list included Iron Hill Brewery’s Wilmington Riverfront location, the Big Chill Beach Club at the Indian River Inlet and The Wheelhouse in downtown Lewes, among others.
THE FULL LIST: 11 Delaware restaurants with great views of the water
UD students protest safety after fraternity brother charged with attacking female student
University of Delaware students marched to bring awareness to domestic violence, particularly on college campuses, following a violent attack on a UD student by another student, the victim’s ex-boyfriend.
Protesters also argued the university’s response came not soon enough and expressed fears for their safety.
READ MORE: UD students protest safety after fraternity brother charged with attacking female student
Hospital dropping duPont name: Is this erasing Delaware history?
After Nemours/A.I. duPont Hospital for Children in Rockland announced its intention to drop the name of founder Alfred I. duPont, Delaware Online/The News Journal examined whether the duPont name still has the cachet it once had in Delaware and in the region.
“There is something wrong with this picture. It doesn’t seem right,” said du Pont family member Tatiana Copeland. “My first feeling when I read about [the name change] was I felt sad. Was this necessary?”
MORE VIEWS: Does Nemours dropping du Pont family name mean it’s lost its cachet?
Contact Brandon Holveck at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @holveck_brandon.