From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

January 21, 2011 • GC.010611.pdf

In This Issue

  1. Councilwoman Miller to Retire

  2. SEPTA Rail Station Upgrades

It’s mid-winter and difficult to see in the midst of the recent snow and ice just what’s been going on at the SEPTA train stops on the Chestnut Hill East and West rail lines, but when the weather breaks local residents should be pleasantly surprised at the look of their stations.

SEPTA has earmarked more than six and a half million dollars in federal stimulus funds  for improvements on those lines (formerly known as the R7 and R8) and a considerable portion of the work is already done or under way.

  1. Learn Your Options When It Comes to Choosing Power Company

Only about ten people braved the snow to attend the Community Energy Workshop held at Calvary Church, 5020 Pulaski Avenue on January 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  But those who did were rewarded with valuable information regarding the recent changes in PECO’s electric delivery rates. Under the Electricity Generation and Customer Choice and Competition Act, Pennsylvanians can choose the electrical company that generates their electricity. Before deregulation, electric utility companies - like PECO -  provided the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.  Consumers had no choice but to buy their electricity from the monopoly in their region. Now, consumers can shop for the generation portion of their electricity.

So, how do you decide which electric company is right for you?

(Left to right) Jennifer Phillips, Kia McClure and Khadijah Abdullahi were three of dozens who turned out at the Wissahickon Boys and Girls Club to make Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday a “day on” instead of a day off. The project at the club, one of hundreds locally on the Martin Luther King Day of Service, was devoted to making blankets for the homeless. Volunteers knotted together several dozen blankets, which after a visit to Love Park, were distributed at homeless shelters in Center City.

Councilwoman Miller Won’t Run for Re-election



On January 14, 8th District Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller confirmed what a number of observers had suspected for some time: she will not run for re-nomination in this year’s primary election. She has served in City Council representing the 8th District since 1996.

In a statement issued by her office, Miller, a lifelong resident of Germantown said, “It is time to give another person the opportunity to represent this wonderful district. I never believed this position to be a lifetime job; and though I know I have political and physical ability to serve, it is the right time for me to move into another type of public service.” She also said that she would retain her position as 59th Ward Democratic Leader.

Miller’s announcement  means that the field of candidates for the 8th District Democratic nomination will likely swell in the weeks ahead. Three individuals have already officially announced their candidacies for the nomination. They include Cindy Bass, staffer to Congressman Chaka Fattah, who had run for the nomination in 2007, finishing second to  Miller; Germantown community activist and former 12th Ward Democratic Leader Greg Paulmier, who was a candidate in 1999, 2003 and 2007; and Verna Tyner, former staffer to Councilmenn-at-large Bill Greenlee and Dave Cohen.

Other individuals who have been mentioned as interested in running include Legal Services lawyer Irv Ackelsberg, who ran in 2007 and finished third; Mt. Airy resident Andrew Lofton, Latrice Byrant, an aide to Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr., and Derek Green, staffer to Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco and a former president of East Mt. Airy Neighbors.

A crowded field of candidates has been common in the 8th District, with at least four names on the ballot in the last five Democratic primaries. That crowded field had seemed to work to Miller’s advantage in the last three primaries. She never garnered a majority of the vote, winning with pluralities of between 30 and 45 percent in each election while the balance of the vote was split between three or more other candidates. Of course, winning a majority of the vote would be difficult for any candidate in the sprawling, diverse 8th District, which stretches from Logan through Nicetown/Tioga, Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.

In her statement Miller said she was not endorsing any candidate at this time but intended to support one in the primary.

In her statement Miller pointed to a number of accomplishments, including recent hearings on police misconduct, legislation to fight gun violence, and ensuring the inclusion of women and minorities in the Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion. The statement said that she “was instrumental in bringing millions of dollars in development projects to the Eighth District, including the resurrection of the distressed property now known as Cricket Court Commons; the replacement of the Lonnie Young and Pleasant Playground recreation centers; and the streetscape improvements along several miles of Germantown Avenue.”

While personally untainted by any charges of wrong-doing, two of her staffers were convicted on corruption charges while she was in office, most notably Steven Vaughn, her former chief of staff, who was convicted in 2005 of taking part in a scheme to generate a phony real estate tax collection fee for a company owned by Muslim cleric Shamsud-din Ali. She has also had close ties to Germantown Settlement, now in Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid charges of millions of dollars misspent on failed development projects in Germantown.

Miller came to public life as a protégé of the late State Rep. David P. Richardson and said in her statement, “I tried to live up to the expectations that Dave and other trailblazers had for us.  Though we have made great progress, Dave and others still would not be satisfied. I can only hope my successor will learn the lessons of the past as they chart our course in the future.”

Upgrades Promise More Inviting Rail Stations



It’s mid-winter and difficult to see in the midst of the recent snow and ice just what’s been going on at the SEPTA train stops on the Chestnut Hill East and West rail lines, but when the weather breaks local residents should be pleasantly surprised at the look of their stations.

SEPTA has earmarked more than six and a half million dollars in federal stimulus funds  for improvements on those lines (formerly known as the R7 and R8) and a considerable portion of the work is already done or under way.

In a phone interview last week Francis E. Kelly, SEPTA’s Assistant General Manager of Government and Public Affairs, said that the money was almost evenly split between the two lines - “$3.2 million for Chestnut Hill East and $3.3. million for Chestnut Hill West” – with the biggest portions going to one project on the west side and one on the east.

The biggest single Chestnut Hill West project is that at Tulpehocken Station, which is somewhat ironic in view of the fact that the station building itself has been closed for decades. That closure and what followed – often called “demolition by neglect” – are the reasons that slightly more than a quarter of the budgeted stimulus funds for the CH West lines are being spent at Tulpehocken.

Kelly said, “The big problem is that the building was coming apart. We had a tarp over it and when the wind came up things were flying all over the place.

“We had to address that station – we basically saved that building. That will be in the spring. We’ll put in a whole new roof. We did new floors on the first and second floors to stabilize it, and all the canopy outside – that was all replaced.”

When that is finished the station will still not reopen, said Jeff Knueppel, chief engineer at SEPTA.  “The intent is to look at leasing opportunities,” he said.

Outside the station a lot of work has is already scheduled, he added. That includes installing a new shelter, new guardrails , curbs, parking aprons, concrete path to the driveway, and lighting improvements.

On the other side of the Avenue at Germantown Station on Chelten Avenue, said Kneuppel, “There’s a new deck and roof on what was an open part of the canopy that we’re still painting, and a new chain link fence,. We removed the abandoned head house. The stripping and repair of the concrete walls is half-way through. We did the sidewalk curb area, we cleaned up the vegetation, and we’ll be painting the bridge over Chelten Avenue. We’re also looking to do more landscap

He said that SEPTA was still working on removing debris that had been dumped on the site. “It’s huge, I don’t think people realized how much stuff was dumped in our lot.,” he said.

All the other stations are undergoing smaller stimulus-funded projects that include improved lighting, paintjobs bike racks, new roofing and canopies, new hand- and guard-rails, and concrete repairs.

The two rebuilding projects on the CH West Line that are not stimulus-funded – those at the Queen Lane and Allen Lane stations – are nearing their ends, said Kelly. “Queen Lane is essentially done … and at Allen Lane we’ll complete that work in a month or two.” Both were major rebuilding projects.

Queen Lane’s rebuilding included new platforms and a new canopy while at Allen lane the rebuilding included a complete restructuring of the platforms to make them Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible. The Allen Lane project also includes a new canopied walkway from one side of the tracks to the other to replace the old one, which had been closed more than once in the past because of safety concerns.  

The station that is arguably the most important in the entire Northwest as well as being in the worst condition – Wayne Junction – may also be getting some long –overdue attention in the foreseeable future.

$4 million federal funding had already been secured for a complete makeover of Wayne Junction, viewed as the centerpiece of  proposed transit-oriented development near the station. The balance of the estimated $28 million needed for the project was to come from state monies raised by making I-80 a toll road and increasing tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. That proposal came to naught.

Now, said Kneuppel, SEPTA will be taking a hard look at ways to fund the construction. It will be a high-priority item at meetings of SEPTA committees and its board later this month.

“There’s a lot of reasons to do this project,” said Kneuppel. “It’s important for many people and it’s [Wayne Junction] condition is very bad. There’s a lot of compelling reasons.”

Decisions, Decisions

Learn Your Options When Choosing Power Company



Only about ten people braved the snow to attend the Community Energy Workshop held at Calvary Church, 5020 Pulaski Avenue on January 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  But those who did were rewarded with valuable information regarding the recent changes in PECO’s electric delivery rates.

As of Jan. 1, the prices of electricity and gas are being based on market prices. For the last ten years, electricity prices were capped to protect customers during deregulation.

What does this mean for PECO customers? A higher electric bill. Prices for residential customers are expected to increase about five percent, according to PECO. On average, this is about $5 a month for most customers.

Under the Electricity Generation and Customer Choice and Competition Act, Pennsylvanians can choose the electrical company that generates their electricity. Before deregulation, electric utility companies - like PECO -  provided the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.  Consumers had no choice but to buy their electricity from the monopoly in their region. Now, consumers can shop for the generation portion of their electricity.

So, how do you decide which electric company is right for you?

PECO recommends you go to Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission web site. After you click on “Shop for Electricity,” it will ask you to enter your zip code. Then you select your rate schedule. It is listed on your bill. There are 21 suppliers in the Germantown area. PECO’s current variable rate is 9.92 cents per kilowatt hour. This is the price to compare.

If you don’t have access to the internet, you can call the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate at 1-800-494-4000 to obtain a buying guide.

You may be asking why PECO recommending its customers shop around for the best electric company provider.

“We want you to be an educated consumer,” said Alan Butler, a PECO energy educator, at the Jan. 8.

Changes in the market have “transformed PECO from a company that made electricity” to one that “purchases electricity and delivers electricity,” according to PECO.

Thus, said Butler, PECO is now a distribution company. No matter which company you buy your electricity from, PECO will still be your distributor. If there is an outrage or other emergency, you still call PECO, he said. 

There are some simple steps you can take to help you save money on your next electric bill.  We all grew up hearing “turn off that light when you leave the room” but now the saying is “unplug that.” Why?

“There are certain appliances in your house that even when they are turned off still use electricity,” said Nancy Baulis, a PECO Energy Educator.  “Anything that uses a remote control to be turned on is using electricity.”

Such home energy vampires include phone chargers, laptop computers, coffee machines, computer games and toaster ovens. The average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices while they are off (or in standby mode), according to the United States Department of Energy.

Baulis suggested using a power strip with an on and off switch.

Marcia White, a mother of two teenagers, said she recruits her kids to help save energy. “Everyone has to unplug appliances that are not being used,” she said.  “Simple things like unplugging the coffee maker can help save money and help the environment.”

Even five dollars saved per month matters in this economy. PECO’s Smart Ideas program helps customers save money with rebates, cash incentives and energy saving tips.

In addition, PECO has several programs available to low- and fixed-income customers. They include:

* The Customer Assistance Program (CAP), a discounted rate for low-income customers.  For information call 1-800-774-7040.

* Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP, which is a federal program to help low-income customers manage their energy costs and ensure service during the heating season.  Call 1-800-34-HELP-4.

* Low-Income Usage Reduction Program (LIURP), a federal program that provides year-round conservation and weatherization assistance for qualified households.  Call 1-800-675-0222.

Matching Energy Assistance Fund (MEAF), a program funded by donations and matched dollar-for-dollar by PECO for up to $1,000 in total assistance for those who qualify. Call 1-800-403-6806.

Customer Assistance and Referral Evaluation Services (CARES) is areferral and information service designed to assist customers who have temporary personal or financial hardships that prevent the payment of their utility bill.  Call 1-800-774-7040

The Company Men is Toothless, Patronizing


Guest Writer

The most dominant trend in recent big budget films has been trying to humanize the superhero, as if he/she was a real person with real problems (Watchmen/Hancock/My Super Ex-Girlfriend, etc.) Sometimes, as with Defendor and Kick-Ass, the characters don’t have superpowers and the joke is not just their ineptitude but the annoyances of having to serve the public interest and fight crime, material generally skipped over in a standard comic-book movie like Superman. The point of these films is to give faces to the faceless, develop an interior life for those we assume don’t have interior lives because they don’t have to worry about the common problems the rest of us are mired in.

The same could be said about rich corporate types. The perception of the dilemmas they face are closer to “should I buy another yacht or invest in a mansion this month?”

John Wells’ The Company Men tries to have us sympathize with a group of upper level corporate rich guys as they begin to suffer the effects of the recession. Those in the audience bumping up against the ages of a few of the lead characters played by Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones may feel a twinge of recognition, especially when dealing with their own obsolescence. But that twinge immediately disappears once you realize that these guys have millions of dollars in stock options and their soulless existence is purely their fault.

Could we possibly learn a lesson from Ben Affleck’s character, who didn’t save a penny and now has to worry about his kid’s private school and the payments on his expensive car, let alone the mortgage? The way Wells doles out the information, though, it’s pretty hard to feel sorry for Affleck: he was overextended before he got laid off and I’m not tearing up for his son because he has to return his Xbox 360. Wouldn’t this be a good opportunity for Affleck to either learn about or pass on the lesson of fiscal responsibility, or maybe teach his son that used video games can be bought dirt cheap on the internet? No, that would suggest that The Company Men was anything more than a pit-stop at misery (which would have been a more honest title). It’s a movie that fulfills every stereotype about Hollywood films, a smarmy, condescending moral lecture from a bunch of rich guys who have no idea what real poverty is. Do I begrudge the characters their financial success? No. But I’m certainly not going to feel bad when it falls apart.  

And it’s not that a story like this can’t be told well, Albert Brooks’ Lost in America is probably the funniest movie of the 1980s, perfectly summed up by a scene where an oblivious Brooks shows up to the employment office of a trailer park town in Arizona and asks if he can look through the “$100,000 file.” There’s no biting insight like that in The Company Men, it’s just a movie that makes you fidgety with “who cares” unease. Wells constantly throws away promising opportunities, turning all of the wives into unsympathetic shrews, playing only a musical riff from The National’s appropriately symbolic song Fake Empire so we don’t even get to hear the irony of the lyrics, and with his cast of well worn faces, skipping over the casting of the best lived-in weathered face in the business, Phillip Baker Hall.

Even the subject matter it deals with, corporate restructuring, was outdone by The Joneses, released only 9 months ago, and a much sharper commentary on soulless materialism (go rent it, it’s a funny satire about a fake family put together to sell products to their neighbors, the leads, David Duchovny and Demi Moore, couldn’t be better suited to play phony plastic people).

Only one image resonates throughout the film, a moment where a former corporate superstar sees his future, competing with hundreds of guys just like him sitting in the waiting room, to inevitably be insulted and underpaid, if they’re the lucky one to be hired. Wells had potential in the script, the last twenty minutes, before the bogus finale, is better about having Jones, Affleck, Cooper and others worrying about their own significance in the world. Still, The Company Men, shot with a cold blue filter over everything, does nothing to differentiate itself from any number of TV shows that premiere on TNT. Well, except that it’s a whole lot more patronizing towards the working man.

Coot Avengers Take to the Streets

The Coot Avengers cartoon series was born when three mature artists, (above left, left to right) Doris Grey, Michael Silverstein and Kay Wood, got together over coffee and started talking about what bothered them about growing older. They quickly realized these feelings were near universal — that most older Americans encounter the same frustrations dealing with government agencies, large corporations, insurance companies, etc., and are also very annoyed about the pervasive myth that all older people are helpless and forgettable.

They decided to pool their talents to express these experiences and frustrations in a humorous way by creating a cartoon series, the heroes and heroines of which definitely go against stereotypes. The Coot Avengers are feisty, wise, and when circumstances demand, intimidating.

They want the Coot Avengers series to be interactive and hope readers will share their own stories and ideas with us so they can broadcast them more widely. Their fondest wish is to one day walk into the kitchen of someone they’ve just met and find one of their cartoons posted on the refrigerator.

Free Tax Planning Seminars

State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) will be teaming with the Financial Freedom Network to present a series of free Tax Planning Seminars and Tax Preparation Services.

Thane C. Martin, Certified Public Accountant, will be on hand to teach strategies to reduce your tax burden; what it means to be “Audited by the IRS;” what deductions you qualify for; how filing for bankruptcy affects your taxes, and more.

For those who have already filed their 2010 taxes, there will be information on how to save money in the future. For constituents from low-income households, there will be an IRS-trained tax preparer on hand to help file their taxes for free.  There is limited seating for these events.  To make a reservation, contact Sen. Washington’s office at 215-242-0472. 

 The events are scheduled for:  Saturday, January 29,10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Reformation Lutheran Church, 1215 East Vernon Road;   Saturday, February 19, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Upper Room Church, 7236 Ogontz Avenue, and Saturday, March 5, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Mt. Airy Church of God and Christ, 6401 Ogontz Avenue. 

As an ongoing courtesy to seniors and low-income constituents, Sen. Washington’s District Offices will have an IRS-trained tax preparer available weekly beginning Monday, Jan. 31, to help prepare and file taxes for free.

To qualify for free services constituents must be 65 years or older, from low-income households.

Tryout Dance Sessions at Settlement

Try out ballet, jazz dance or creative movement with Ami Dowden-Fant, the newest member of the dance faculty, at Settlement Music School on Saturday, January 22, from 9 a.m. to noon in the dance studio at the Germantown Branch, 6128 Germantown Avenue between Washington Lane and Walnut Lane.  There is no charge for the sample sessions.

Dowden-Fant received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University where she studied Modern and Ballet Choreography and Performance. She is a member of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and was a company member of “dance theatreX” and the Starr Foster Dance Project in Virginia.

She has danced professionally in many venues on the east coast including as a soloist, company member and choreographer over several years at the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine. Dowden-Fant has extensive teaching experience with students of all ages.

To reserve a spot in one of the try-out sessions (students  age 3 through adult are welcome), or for further information about Settlement Music School and its programs, contact Emily Grusky at 215-320-2610 or visit the school’s website

Founded in 1908, Settlement Music School is among the oldest and largest community schools of the arts in the United States.  With more than 200 credentialed faculty members at six sites in the Delaware Valley, Settlement Music School offers instruction in music and dance to more than 6,000 students weekly regardless of age, background, ability level or financial circumstances.  Settlement Music School awards more than $2 million in financial aid and scholarships annually.

City-Wide Mentoring Rally

To generate awareness, community involvement, and resources, the Obama Administration has dedicated the month of January as National Mentoring month, whereby all nationwide mentoring programs and initiatives are engaged in promoting mentorship. To celebrate this month Connection Training Services Mentoring Program will be holding their 1st City Wide National Mentoring Month Rally and Job Fair on  January 29, 11a.m. – 3 p.m., at the Allegheny Business Center, 2233 West Allegheny Avenue, 3rd floor. All are invited. Vending space is available for $10. For more information contact 215-320-5535. 

Enter Now for Freedom Essay Contest

The Johnson House Historic Site will host the 323rd Annual Freedom Essay Contest on Sunday, Feb. 27, from 3-5 p.m. The contest, “Commemorating the 323rd Anniversary of the First Protest Against Slavery,” encourages school students in grade groups 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 to submit essays on three topics: “What is the difference between protest yesterday and protest today?”, “What was the impact of the civil rights movement?”; and “What impact does protest have on society?”  First place and runner-up prizes will be awarded for each grade group.  Three students will each win $100, while three runners-up will each win $25.  All winners chosen will present their essays during a public program spotlighting their leadership achievement in front of their parents/guardians, community and the JHHS Board of Directors.   

All public and private schools interested in having their students submit essays are invited to participate. The deadline for submission of essays is Jan. 31.

During the program a community leader will be recognized.  This year, John McCullough, Philadelphia Training Program, is our award recipient.  Mr. McCullough works extensively with youth and helps them learn trades. He is retired from the construction trades, is active in his church and an advocate for children. 

This is a free educational and inspirational event.  The Johnson House is located at 6306 Germantown Avenue (corner of Germantown and Washington Lane).  For information please contact D. Turlington at 215-438-1768 or by email .

The Johnson House Historic Site, Inc.  is a National Historic Landmark and treasure. In addition, the Johnson House is a leading educational site providing experiential learning opportunities for understanding the Underground Railroad and the struggle against slavery. The authenticity of this historic building and surrounding grounds provide rich encounters with history and evidences of the past in a tangible way.

Toastmasters Meet

Covenant Toastmasters meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at  New Covenant Campus, 7500 Germantown Avenue, in Founders Hall, Room B-11 (2nd floor) from 7:30-9 p.m.  Covenant Toastmasters Club provides a comfortable, instructive environment for developing public speaking and leadership skills.  Guests are always welcome.  For information visit

MALTCourse Offers Look at Cartoons’ Early Days

For the first time in the Philadelphia area a course is being offered that provides a glimpse into the fabulous Fleischer Brothers’ Cartoon Studio during its Golden Age, 1919 — 1934.

Brothers Max and Dave Fleischer created some of the most bizarre and imaginative cartoons the world has ever seen and were among the most important innovators in animation history. They created Betty Boop, Koko the Clown, and did the first animated incarnation of Elsie Segar’s Popeye. Their surrealistic cartoons were among the earliest films to feature famous jazz artists of the time, two of them being Cab Calloway and Louis Armstrong.

The course is being offered by The Mt. Airy Learning Tree, 6601 Greene Street.  It runs on Thursday evenings, from February 10 to March 17. It will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $59.

The instructor is Andrew Gilmore, a 2009 graduate of Arcadia University who majored in American Recorded Popular Entertainment. Andrew has worked with the Serpentelli Brothers Animation Studio of Chestnut Hill. He has also taught “The Golden Age of the Warner Brothers Cartoon Studio” for Mt. Airy Learning Tree. In addition, Gilmore is a founding member of the “Chestnut Hill Improv,” a comedy group that podcasts fresh material every Saturday. His teaching method for this course relies on guided discussion and plenty of in-class cartoon viewing.

The course runs on Thursday evenings from February 10 to March 17, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. The cost is $59. For information call 215-843-6333 or e-mail to

NIM Discussion on Racial Justice

The Dialogue for Racial Justice group, made up of members of the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement (NIM) community, has been meeting since 2000. We were born out of the common experience of viewing together the film The Color of Fear, the powerful and profound documentary about race relations, followed by a facilitated discussion moving us to DO something to improve and enjoy better and closer relationships in our community.

This goal is fostered through sharing our stories, feelings and experiences, honoring our differences and finding our commonalities. Over the years we have viewed films, read books and facilitated discussions together, creating new bonds of friendship and understanding.

Last fall we publicly screened the film Traces of the Trade, an eye-opening documentary by filmmaker, Katrina Browne. She tells the very personal and shocking story of her forefathers, the DeWolfs from Rhode Island, who were the largest slave-trading family in U.S. history. The story explains the North’s complicity in slavery and the enslavement of Africans as a business for the DeWolf family and a cornerstone of Northern commercial life. A powerful and engaging discussion followed the viewing of this film, facilitated by a descendant of the DeWolf family and his wife. At the end of this event, many participants expressed the interest in continuing the dialogue.

In response to this interest, NIM’s Dialogue for Racial Justice group invites you to attend a planning session where we will begin to design a fruitful future of dialogue and sharing together. We will explore next steps in uniting to build relationships, sharing personal stories, creating new bonds of friendship and support, and lessening prejudices.

Please consider joining us and participating in the design of our future together as we open ourselves to new ideas and welcome new members. We will meet Sunday, January 30 from 4-5:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia. This event is presented by Neighborhood Interfaith Movement. All are welcome. For information call 215-843-5600.

Eclectic ‘Sacred Service’ Concert

Philomusica Chorale located in the Northwest Philadelphia area announces the world concert premiere of “Sacred Service” by composer and chorale director, Gayle Wieand.  Using sacred and secular texts from a wide variety of poets, Wieand, a Mt. Airy resident, composed this extended musical work for soloists, instrumentalists and chorus following a liturgical order, but with a universal spiritual appeal. 

For example, the opening number is a Navajo prayer sung by soprano and accompanied by flute (representing wind), cello (earth), rainstick (water) and drum (fire.)  Several early Christian mystic poets are represented as well, such as Sufi poet, Rumi, Lebanese American poet, Khalil Gibran, and authors D.H. Lawrence, Emily Bronte, and Emily Dickinson.

Concerts will be held on Saturday, January 29 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 30 at 4 p.m. at Christ’s Lutheran Church, 700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Oreland, PA.  Advance tickets are $21, $18 seniors, and $13 students. Tickets at the door are $25. Discounted tickets are available at or by calling 215-247-1283.

‘Hard Times’ at Allens Lane

The Allens Lane Theater at Allens Lane Art Center will present Charles Dickens’s Hard Times on January 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 and February 4, 5, in an adaptation by Stephen Jeffreys, directed by Travis A. Whitaker, and sponsored by Valley Green Bank.

The cast includes John Schultz, Claire Golden Drake, Carole Mancini and  Rupert Hinton, in a whirlwind adaptation with the four actors portraying nearly two dozen quintessential Dickens’ characters. Set at a time of supposed social progress, moving from Thomas Gradgrind’s model schoolroom where the Philosophy of Fact leaves no room for fancy or imagination, past the fire that bursts out at night from the smoking chimneys of Josiah Bounderby’s Coketown factories, to the exuberance and fellow-feeling of Mr. Sleary’s travelling circus-troupe, the play explores the impoverishment of the human life that results from the denial of the most fundamental qualities of the human heart.

Tickets are $18 advance, $20 at the door. For information and tickets call 215-438-0546 or visit

Allens Lane Art Center is located on West Allens Lane between McCallum and Greene Streets.

Dine and Talk with Food Writer at Geechee Girl

On Wednesday, February 2, award-winning culinary writer Jessica Harris will collaborate with Geechee Girl Rice Café chef/owner Valerie Erwin on a meal. Harris, who  is speaking the night before at the Free Library, will read from her latest book High on the Hog: A culinary journey from Africa to America.   

Harris has written extensively about the food of the African diaspora.  Her acclaimed cookbooks have covered African American foodways, the food of the Caribbean, of Brazil and of the African continent. In May 2010, she was inducted into the James Beard Who’s Who in Food and Beverage in America.

The 4-course menu will include Senegalese Chicken Yassa  and Harris’ Leg of Lamb with rosemary and lavender.

There will be one seating at 6:30 p.m.  The cost is $55, including tax and tip. 

Reservations are necessary; call 215-843-8113. There is free parking.

A beef and beer event to benefit Kurt Rybak, who was seriously injuried in a fall, will be held at the Commodore Barry Club, 6815 Emlen Street, 5-9 p.m., on January 23. Tickets are $30 per person. Kids under 13 eat free. The cost is $15 for kids over 13. There will be music and entertainment by John Kelly. Call 215-843-2925 or e-mail for tickets. 

Shoe Store Opening

Come one, come all to the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Mainly Shoes and More, 7167 Germantown Avenue, on Saturday, January 29 at noon.

Owner  Skip Tyree is a graduate of the Houston School and Bishop McDevitt High School.  He attended Rollins College/UCF as a Business and Communications major. Over the past decade he has owned and or operated several businesses such as S and S Settlement, a title company, the Buck Stop Dollar Store in Germantown, and Big Fish Company, an upscale restaurant in Wildwood, N.J.

His new endeavor is Mainly Shoes and More, specializing in designer women’s shoes such as XO, DKNY, Fahrenheit, Stella, Amiclub Wear and more.  The merchandise will be 40 percent off every day for high-quality, fashionable as well as reliable shoes for women, men, and kids.  The store will also feature stylish clothing for the hip, conservative and sophisticated women of today.  Mainly Shoes and More’s business plan is to give back to the community by donating a dollar from every sale to a specific charity throughout the entire year and to sponsor a local youth sport team.

For more information call 267-297-5475.

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