From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

June 17, 2010 • GC.061710.pdf

In This Issue

The Stories


  1. BulletDonations Mean All City Pools To Open June 18th

  2. BulletHearing on 4964 Wakefield Street Property

  3. BulletShootings Leave Two Dead, Two More in Critical Condition

  4. BulletWMAN Chooses Board Members, ‘50 Good Neighbors’

  5. Bullet‘50 Good Neighbors,’ Community Institutions

  6. BulletHometown Hero: NW Resident is Phils’ First Local #1 Pick

  7. BulletBlack Diamonds: Josh Gibson, the ‘Black Babe Ruth’

  8. BulletDialog on Germantown

  9. BulletFamily-Friendly Poet-ify

  10. BulletMajor Repairs to Begin at Kelly & Lincoln Drives

  11. BulletNutters Kick Off Jazz Fest

  12. BulletStagecrafters’ ‘The Fantasticks’ Will Charm Even Curmudgeons

  13. BulletFamily Fun Day at Houston

  14. BulletFOW Works to Keep Devil’s Pool Clean

  15. BulletVBS at St. Luke’s

  16. BulletBook Launch at CLC

  17. Bullet‘Road to Recovery’ for Haiti at FUMCOG

  18. BulletHigh Street Celebrates Education

  19. BulletMt. Zion Presents Jazz Evening

  20. Bullet6300 Block of Germantown Avenue Celebrates Juneteenth

Donations Mean All City Pools To Open June 18th

By Sue Ann Rybak

Correspondent


First Niagara Bank has made a big splash in the summer’s activities that Philadelphians can look forward to this summer.


Thanks to a $400,000 donation from First Niagara to Philadelphia’s 2010 Splash and Summer FUNd, all 70 of Philadelphia’s public swimming pools will open on Friday, June 18, said Recreation Commissioner Susan  Slawson. First Niagara Bank and other private donors helped to raise the $600,000 needed to open and operate the city’s public pools, she said.


Some of the other donors include Lombard Swim Club ($37,000), Shire Pharmaceuticals ($34,000,) the Philadelphia Parking Authority ($34,000), TD Bank ($30,000), Modell’s Sporting Goods ($12,000), and Temple University ($10,000).

Last summer, 27 public swimming pools didn’t open due to budget cuts, Slawson said. About one million people visit Philadelphia’s public swimming pools every summer, she said.


“In Philadelphia, keeping our swimming pools open during the summer is important to maintaining a strong sense of community in which friends and neighbors can connect,” said Mayor Nutter in a press release.  “First Niagra Bank’s generosity in supporting the City’s efforts to keep our pools open during the summer is another great example of the positive impact that public and private partnerships have on providing safe and enjoyable activities for all of our residents.”


“This was a great way to give back to the community,” said Robert Kane, Jr., regional president of First Niagara Bank. said. “The company realized this was a pressing need. President and CEO John Koelmel said it best when he stated First Niagara Bank ‘continuously strives to display our dedication to our regions by... using our financial strength to better the lives of those who live in all the communities we serve.’ ”


Philadelphia’s  public swimming pools  provide kids with a fun way to keep cool in a safe place said Kane. 

                                                                   

There are four public swimming pools in our area. They include:

Awbury, at Ardleigh and Haines streets; Kendrick, at Ridge Avenue and Pennsdale Street; Pleasant, at 5750 Boyer Street; and the indoor pool at Mastery Charter School, Chelten and Wayne avenues. The pools are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday.


Waterview Recreation Center at Rittenhouse and McMahon streets is one of four “spraygrounds” that will be open this summer. The sprayground features brightly colored coiled pipes and nozzles that splash water on kids. The sprayground is reserved for kids ages six to 12.


The city public swimming pools provide 800 jobs, which include 400 seasonal maintenance aides and 400 lifeguards. For more information or to apply for a job call 215-683-3600 or visit www.phila.gov/Recreation.



Hearing on 4964 Wakefield Street Property

By KARL BIEMULLER

Editor


A hearing has been scheduled on Wednesday, June 23, 10 a.m., in Courtroom 426, City Hall to make what may be the final determination of the future of 4969  Wakefield Street, a building which was the subject of some controversy in the neighborhood in 2009.


At issue is the possible future use of the building as a new home for New Directions for Women, described as a program designed to be an alternative to incarceration. The program is 22 years old and  has been at its current location on the 4800 block of Germantown Avenue for some time.


Use of the facility for New Directions would require a variance since according to the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections it is classified as a “private penal facility” which is not permitted within 500 feet of a public playground nor within 500 feet of private homes. The building is located  in a residential neighborhood and is within 500 feet of Wister Playground. 


The initial application for the necessary use variances was denied in June, 2009, but after an appeal and repeated hearings, the Zoning Board of Adjustment granted the variances on November 4, 2009.

Resident Theodore Stevens, whose home abuts the property, filed an appeal of that decision shortly thereafter.


Stevens said that a community meeting about the matter would be held Monday, June 21, 6:30 p.m. at Wister Playground. Stevens is asking for anyone seeking information about the meeting to call him at 267-207-9015.  

  


Shootings Leave Two Dead, Two More in Critical Condition

By BOB O’BRIEN

Editorial Staff Intern


Three shootings in the Northwest that took place within eight days left two dead and two others in critical condition. 


According to a police department spokesperson, on June 4, Terrence Herbert, 32, of Sommers Road in West Oak Lane, was found at 12:12 a.m. by officers responding to gunshots at the 400 block of East Sharpnack Street with two gunshot wounds to the back of the head. He was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Police have no leads in the shooting.


On June 7 at 12:02 a.m., police responded to a report of gunshots on the unit block of East Chelten Avenue and found a 28-year-old male lying in the highway with a gunshot wound to the head. He was admitted into Albert Einstein Medical Center in critical condition. Police said suspects were two males in white t-shirts.


Police responded to a report of a gunman on June 12 at 6:49 p.m. at Ashmead Street near Magnolia Street. Two victims were found on a porch.  Both victims were taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center. Shikeen Frederick, 30, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was pronounced dead at 7:14 p.m. The second victim, a 30-year-old male, remained in critical condition as of press time. Police have no leads in the shooting.



WMAN Chooses Board Members, ‘50 Good Neighbors’

By BOB O’BRIEN

Editorial Staff Intern


Flanked by Joffie Pitman (left) chair of the Nominating Committee, and WMAN President Kevin Peter (right), are new board members (left to right) Michelle Brown-Nevers, Marilyn Lambert and Anuj Gupta.


West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN) gathered on Tuesday, June 8 for their annual meeting to discuss their budget, vote on new members, announce their “50 Good Neighbor selections” to be honored the organization’s 50th Anniversary celebration on September 26,  and more.


WMAN members elected three nominees to the organization’s board. They are Anuj Gupta, a Deputy Commissioner of Licenses and Inspections who is also involved in Mt. Airy USA; Marilyn Lambert, a resident of West Mt. Airy for 34 years who has been active with the WMAN Schools Committee; and Michelle H. Brown-Nevers, a resident since 2008 and an assistant coach for Mt. Airy Baseball.


Retiring board members included Leslie Winder, vice president of the organization, as well as Mary Hale Meyer and Rhonda Ball, both board members for six years.


The trend of state and city budget cuts that began last year has continued into this one for WMAN. “All of the funding we have gotten from the state has completely dried up,” said Executive Director Lizabeth Macoretta.


However, the organization has managed to remain afloat with help from their neighbors. “The response from the community has been spectacular,” Macoretta said. “[Community members] have been tremendous in increasing their support.”


Budget figures for the 2010-11 year showed anticipated total income as $143,450, with major sources of income as fundraising events, anticipated to raise $57,000 and funding from memberships, which will raise $46,900.


Total anticipated expenses are $127, 070, leaving the net operating income for the organization at $16, 380.


David J. Kinsey, director of community affairs at RecycleBank, gave a short presentation about the benefits of the program and recycling in general. Philadelphia Recycling Rewards had its first incarnation during the Street administration, but is back again in a more efficient version, he said. It is a citywide program that uses incentives such as discounts at restaurants, grocery stories, pharmacies and more to push community members toward recycling.


“You choose how to spend your points,” Kinsey said. “You can get free admission to almost any museum.”


The program requires each household to sign up so that it can receive a sticker that will be placed on recycling bins in order to track the amount of recycling done in that community. The amount of reward points collected depends on how much your community recycles. “We’ll all be in the same pool of points,” Kinsey said. He also said that points can be donated to public, private and charter schools, and to other organizations some times.


Although this year is the 51st anniversary of WMAN’s founding, 50 Good Neighbors were selected to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary.


“The decision-making process was very interesting. We learned a lot,” Macoretta said. “We were across the board with the nominees.”


The Good Neighbors were selected from an extensive list of nominees. A shorter list of organizations was chosen as colleagues that WMAN felt should be recognized for services provided. See page 3 for a list of honorees

The Gateway to the Northwest Project was also discussed at the meeting. The project centers the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street.


According to Macoretta, a city and state plan exists to repave Lincoln Drive’s curbs, streets and sidewalks from the street’s beginning up to Wayne Avenue.


“The question is, can it be funded and is it in the budget?” Macoretta said. “And we don’t have an answer for that.” Macoretta said that the organization would be pursuing more information on the project.


‘50 Good Neighbors,’ Community Institutions

WMAN’s 50 Good Neighbors include:

Fred Achenbach, Janet Amato, Stephen Anderson, Hector Badeau, Tina Bannister, Laurie Beck Peterson, Susan Beetle, Jeff Best, Mitch Bormack, Al and Juanita Bradley, Kenneth Campbell, Bill Clark, Tony Cooper, David Dannenberg, Jan DeRuiter, Kittura Dior, Jocie Dye and Jason Huber, Deborah Ellerby, Beau Janette Feldman, Jim Foster, Lois Frischling, Nancy Goldenberg, Jay Goldstein, Mark Hartsfield, Kent Julye, Doris Kessler, Edward King, Kristyn Komarnicki, Rev. Dr. Philip Krey, Ken Kunz, Della Lazarus, Jimmy Maddoxx, Madeline Magee, Steven Masters, Patrick Moran, Bob Noble, Heather Pierce, Ralph Pinkus, Mira Rabin, Norman Robbins, Robert Rossman, John Siemiarowski, Laura Siena and Jarma Frisby, Linda Slodki, Marc Stier, Tom Sugrue, Lynn Thompson Gibson, Ronda Throne-Murray, Ken Weinstein, and Liz Werthan.


WMAN also announced the local institutions that it will honor at the 50th anniversary celebration on September 26. They include:

Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, Weavers Way Co-op, Cliveden and Upsala of the National Trust, Summit Presbyterian Church, East Mt. Airy Neighbors, the Friends of Houston Playground, Mt. Airy Learning Tree, the Germantown Jewish Centre, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Mt. Airy Baseball, Mt. Airy USA, and the Germantown Historical Society.

• • •


Hometown Hero: NW Resident is Phils’ First Local #1 Pick

By BOB O’BRIEN

Editorial Staff Intern


Above left: Jesse Biddle got a hug from the Phillie Phanatic at the sports assembly at Germantown Friends.



Right: pitching for the GFS Tigers.



Left: Biddle received a Mt. Airy Baseball 25th Anniversary cap and shirt, and a plaque from Coach Derrick Baldwin, for whom he played on the age 11-12 champion team in 2003.



Jesse Biddle, an 18-year-old graduate of Germantown Friends School, was more than pleasantly surprised when his hometown team announced him as its first-round draft pick last Monday, June 7, the 27th pick over-all. Biddle’s selection marks the first time that the Phillies organization chose a local commodity in the first round.


Soon after began what will most likely be remembered as one of the most exciting weeks in Biddle’s life.


A resident of Mt. Airy, Biddle lives with his parents David and Marion, and his brothers, Conor, 14, and Sam, 21.


During the annual sports assembly at GFS on Wednesday, June 9, in which school-wide athletic achievements are acknowledged, Biddle received some extra time in the limelight.


When varsity seniors were called to the stage, Biddle’s name was met with the loudest and longest-lasting applause. He was presented with a Germantown Friends jersey, and shortly after the Philly Fanatic jumped onto the stage to join the celebration.


“You represent all of which GFS stands for,” Katie Bergstrom, the athletic director, said at the assembly. “We’re glad to see you become a fighting Phil, but please don’t lose your Tiger Pride.”


In the second half of the assembly, Biddle addressed the younger GFS students. “I used to be one of you guys,” he said. “That’s the best thing about it, that I’m finishing right here.” Before he left the assembly, Biddle signed autographs for the kids.


In between talking with reporters and receiving congratulations from everyone imaginable, Biddle attended news conferences with the Phillies on Thursday, June 10, graduated from GFS with 97 others Friday, June 11, and was guest of honor at League Send-off Ceremony with Mt. Airy Baseball on Monday, June 14.


Biddle’s baseball career began as a youngster with Mt. Airy Baseball, which serves over 600 players in six divisions, from ages five to fourteen.


When he came of age, Biddle began playing for GFS. “He’s played ball with the school since sixth grade,” said Bergholtz. “Even as a young middle schooler he was always above and beyond the players his age.”


Biddle has played for Bergholtz’ varsity team throughout his four years of high school, showing early promise by making MVP his freshman year and the three years following.


The Tigers finished this past season with a record of 21-8. “That 21 wins is the most in school history for the team,” said Bergholtz.


The team made it to the state finals, the farthest the team has come in GFS history, but lost to rival Germantown Academy’s Patriots.


Biddle’s record was 9-2 with a 1.06 ERA this year, helping GFS to reach its seventh consecutive Friends League Title. He struck out 140 batters in 59 1/3 innings.


“It’s been a fun four years to see him progress to the point he is now,” Bergholtz said. “He’s been a great leader for the [Tigers] baseball team.”


Rumors have abounded about retiring Biddle’s number, an honor that has yet to be bestowed upon a player at GFS. “We’re not going to retire it now,” said Bergstrom. “[But] I have no doubt that that’s coming.” Bergstrom said that Biddle’s younger brother may want to wear his number in the future.


The 6’5”, 230 lb. left-handed pitcher received much attention from the Phillies throughout his final season with the Tigers. Scouting director Mark Wolever and area scout Eric Valent were not the only members of the organization showing interest. General manager Ruben Amarao, Jr., assistant scouting director Rob Holiday and East Coast supervisor Gene Schall all wanted to see if Biddle had the stuff they were looking for.


Apparently he did.


Biddle and the Phillies quickly reached a $1.16 million signing bonus agreement, the Major League Baseball’s recommendation for the 27th pick. He will forego a full-paid scholarship to the University of Oregon to play for the Phillies.


At Mt. Airy Baseball’s send-off ceremony at Mt. Airy Playground on Monday evening, friends, players, and coaches remembered highlights of Biddle’s career with Mt. Airy Baseball.  One moment that Biddle himself said he would always treasure came in the 2003 championship game for 11- and 12-year olds – but not as a pitcher. He scored the winning run by tagging up at third base on a fly ball and sliding in under the throw to home.


Biddle told the crowd, “When I crossed home plate and we won, that was really a great feeling, and that’s the feeling that I’ll be looking for when I play minor league baseball.”


In an interview after the ceremony Biddle said that his major assets were his strength and size and that he’s left-handed. (Major league teams are always looking for left-handed pitching). Areas that he needed to work on were pitching mechanics and command of his pitches, he said.


Biddle left for Clearwater, Fla. on Tuesday for extended spring training. He will begin playing with the Gulf Coast League Phillies soon. The league begins play on June 21.


“It’s fun to think how much better he will get now that baseball is his full-time job,” Bergholtz said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s got the ability and will certainly succeed.”


While baseball has been the focus of almost all discussions involving Biddle since last Monday, Bergholtz emphasized that there was more to the rookie than that. “He’s twice as good a kid as he is a baseball player,” Bergholtz said.


“He’s just a wonderful, wonderful kid,” Bergstrom said. “It’s really amazing.”


Black Diamonds

Josh Gibson, the ‘Black Babe Ruth’

By CHARLES BENDER

Guest Writer


Josh Gibson, the “Black Babe Ruth,” played most of his career for the powerhouse Pittsburgh teams of the 30s.  Gibson was a local boy, having grown up in the Pittsburgh area, and was one of the greatest stars in the segregated era of baseball.


Gibson was born in Georgia but moved to Pittsburgh in the early 1920s as part of the great migration to the Industrial North.  Gibson was apprenticed to be an electrician to an arm of the Carnegie Steel company, but he played third base for a team sponsored by  Gimbel’s Department store when he was just 16.


With the exception of the white Major Leagues, most baseball in America was still of the barnstorming variety.  Black professional teams were profitable because they played against other local, semi-professional teams. Industrial companies and fraternal organizations sponsored local teams.  Until the 1950s most Americans never saw or heard a Major League game but were rabid followers of their local teams.


Gibson debuted in 1928 for the semi-professional Homestead Grays.  He is regarded as one of the great power hitting players of his era, but a close analysis of his career statistics tell us much about baseball in the segregated era. The true statistical achievements of Negro League players may be impossible to know as the Negro Leagues did not compile complete statistics or game summaries.


Based on research of historical accounts performed for the Special Committee on the Negro Leagues, Gibson hit 224 homers in 2,375 at-bats against top black teams, 2 in 56 at-bats against white major-league pitchers and 44 in 450 at-bats in the Mexican League.


John Holway lists Gibson with the same home run totals and a .351 career average, plus 21 for 56 against white major-league pitchers. According to Holway, Gibson ranks third all-time in the Negro Leagues in average among players with 2,000+ at-bats (trailing Jud Wilson by 3 points and John Beckwith by one). Holway lists him as being second to Mule Suttles in homers, though Gibson was the all-time leader in home runs per at-bat by a considerable margin - with a homer every 10.6 at bats to one every 13.6 for runner-up Suttles.


Gibson’s career was short relative to some of the other great players highlighted in this series.  He played during the second great wave of black professional baseball during the 1930s, mostly for dominant Pittsburgh-based teams.  He died young of a brain tumor in 1947 at age 35.


Gibson was without doubt an extraordinary player, who was regarded as one of the greats of the 1930’s.  He was honored with induction in 1972 to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Gibson’s legend may have exceeded his talent, but segregation in baseball denied us the chance to ever truly know.


Dialog on Germantown

West Central Germantown Neighbors (WCGN) and Germantown Community Connection (GCC) will host a community dialogue, “Living in Germantown: All Together,“ on Wednesday, June 30, from 6:30 -8:30 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, 35 West Chelten Avenue. Community leaders will help us imagine a more perfect Germantown, and decide what that looks like, and discover services and resources we need in our community to get there.


Motivated by President Obama’s More Perfect Union speech, and his call to action for Americans to talk to each other about race and class, this community vision of a racially harmonious Germantown is part of the ongoing work done by many organizations and individuals in our neighborhood, over years, all working for positive change.


This meeting is open to all, and you can also volunteer to be part of our cookie baking team, a greeter team, a set up and clean up team or the facilitation team. Community leaders facilitating the event are Barry Cross, Tom Grundy, Nadine Rosechild, and Susan Guggenheim.


For more information, contact  Susan Guggenheim, WCGN,, at 215-284-6038, e-mail susanguggenheim@hotmail.com; or Betty Turner, GCC, bettyturner1@gmail.com.


Family-Friendly Poet-ify

“Poet-ify: Poetry to Edify” returns Sunday, June 20, 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Germantown Church of the Brethren Fellowship Hall, 6601 Germantown Avenue.


There will be song, mime, praise dancing, comedy and a few surprises. This is a family-friendly atmosphere, so there’s no cussing allowed. Refreshments will be served.


Tickets are $10, $12 at the door, seniors 60+ and students ages 6-13 $6. For information call RuNett Nia Ebo at 215-495-8679 or e-mail ladyrunett@aol.com.



Major Repairs to Begin at Kelly & Lincoln Drives

Southbound Lincoln Drive motorists will need to allow more time for travel through the Gustine Lake Interchange in Philadelphia when a major traffic pattern change goes into effect Monday, June 21 for the replacement of the structurally-deficient Lincoln Drive Bridge over Ridge Avenue, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced. 


Starting that day after the peak morning drive time, southbound Lincoln Drive traffic will be prohibited from using the bridge over Ridge Avenue and all southbound Lincoln Drive motorists will be forced to exit at the Ridge Avenue off-ramp. From this off-ramp, drivers will be able to proceed straight across Ridge Avenue to reach the ramp to Kelly Drive, or they can turn left to access the ramp to southbound City Avenue or go east on Ridge Avenue, or they can turn right to head west on Ridge Avenue. PennDOT is installing a temporary traffic signal at the intersection to control these moves from the off-ramp. 


PennDOT advises citizens to use an alternate route or public transportation because southbound Lincoln Drive motorists will face backups and delays when driving through the interchange to reach Kelly Drive, City Avenue or Ridge Avenue. This detour will remain in effect until fall 2011. For public transportation information, visit www.septa.org.


Two lanes of northbound Lincoln Drive traffic will remain open on the bridge over Ridge Avenue during construction; however, northbound motorists will encounter traffic pattern shifts on the bridge while crews replace it one half at a time. 


The Lincoln Drive Bridge was built in 1964 and carries 20,100 vehicles a day. The bridge is 158 feet long and 58 feet wide.


PennDOT is replacing the Lincoln Drive Bridge over Ridge Avenue as part of its $20.2 million transportation economic recovery project to improve the Gustine Lake Interchange in Philadelphia, which moves nearly 100,000 motorists a day between City Avenue, Lincoln Drive, Kelly Drive and Ridge Avenue. The entire project is scheduled to finish in fall 2011.


This bridge is one of four structurally-deficient bridges at the interchange that PennDOT is replacing under the $20,224,832 project. A fifth structurally deficient bridge is being removed.


Crews are replacing two bridges on ramps over Kelly Drive; the bridge carrying Lincoln Drive over Ridge Avenue; and the bridge on the Lincoln Drive ramp to southbound City Avenue. The fifth structurally deficient bridge that is being removed and not replaced crosses over Ridge Avenue. The project also includes relocating the northbound City Avenue ramp and the Kelly Drive ramp to Ridge Avenue and creating a new signalized intersection where both ramps intersect Ridge Avenue. 


PennDOT began construction last March to replace the bridge over Kelly Drive on the northbound City Avenue ramp to northbound Ridge Avenue. This ramp will reopen late this year.


The five bridges at the interchange were built in the early 1960s and range in length from 121 feet to 238 feet. 


PennDOT is making additional enhancements to the interchange under this project, including new interchange lighting, 15 new sign structures with new directional signs, eight bio-retention basins, 300 new trees and shrubs, and a stone finish on bridge columns and walls.


Nutters Kick Off Jazz Fest

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and his wife, Lisa, have been named King and Queen of the Mardi Gras-style parade that will kick off this month’s 7th Annual West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival, which celebrates New Orleans with an all-jazz roster of musicians and singers.


The city’s First Couple will lead the parade at noon Friday, June 18 along the 7200-7400 blocks of Ogontz Avenue, joined by State Rep. Dwight Evans, who will serve as Grand Marshal and present Mayor Nutter with a key to the West Oak Lane neighborhood.


The parade will also feature the Kimmel Center Youth Ensemble, the Royal Brass Band, local dance troupes and event partners such as the city’s recycling and anti-litter campaigns. OARC, the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp., sponsors the festival as part of its economic development philosophy and commitment to arts and cultural events in the community.


This year’s festival, which runs from June 18-20, will host more than two dozen acts, including The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding, David Sanborn with Joey De Francesco, Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio. For more information visit www.westoaklanefestival.com.


Stagecrafters’ ‘The Fantasticks’ Will Charm Even Curmudgeons

By JOHN STANCHAK

Guest Writer


“The Fantasticks,” by Tom Jones (book and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music), directed by Catherine Pappas, is now appearing at the Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Avenue.


No serious fan of performing arts has it in him to dismiss a decent performance of “The Fantasticks,” a gem of American musical theater. First launched Off-Broadway in 1960, it has been performed continuously – somewhere – ever since and has given the world two hit songs, “Try to Remember” and “Soon It’s Gonna Rain.” It is a spare, charming fable sprinkled with a good dose of whimsy, and it is all about love.


The players at Stagecrafters give a much better than decent performance of “The Fantasticks,” and good enough to charm all the curmudgeons in the Northwest. The story is about two fathers who live next to one another and who conspire to bring their two children together in a life-long romance. Their stage is bare but for two platforms, and all props and necessities come out of trunks. The moon is a cardboard oval with a crescent in it. The sun is a yellow disc. The tale, based on one written by Edmund Rostand, is simple. By the light of the moon the youths believe they have fallen in love. By the light of day, they indulge their doubts and briefly go their separate ways.


The characters are girl Louisa, boy Matt, Louisa’s father Bellomy, Matt’s father Hucklebee, the gallant and magical bandit (and narrator) El Gallo, a mute who helps with the staging, and Henry and Mortimer, two hired actors who help with the fathers’ plot. Louisa is played by Jen Fellman, a veteran of Philadelphia’s comedy troupe 1812 Productions, The Luna Theater Company, and Family Stages Productions. Her father Bellomy is played by her real life father Walt Fellman, an area teacher and acting coach. Matt is played by Jeff Wildermuth, a mint-new Haverford College graduate who has appeared in the musicals “West Side Story” and “Rent” on the Haverford campus. Joe Giglio of Trenton, New Jersey, has a fat resume of parts in drama, comedy and musicals, and in other productions has played the part of both fathers  in “The Fantasticks.” Rich Geller, a Stagecrafters’ mainstay, and Wren Workman, recently of the King of Prussia Players, are Henry and Mortimer, the hired help in the fathers’ plot. The Mute is Kyle Paul Dandridge, also seen in the area at the Old Academy Players and in Allen’s Lane Theater productions, and this season in Stagecrafter’s production of “A Soldier’s Play.”


But the surprise of this event is the performance of Tony McNichol as El Gallo. A full time archeologist, his prior musical training was in choir work and in a rock band named The Illuminati. He is reputed to have no stage training. This is hard to believe, though. He turns in a burnished performance in this key role and his singing is clear, bright, and charming.


The music director for this production is Samuel Heifetz. He is supported by keyboardist Bill del Governatore. The choreographer is Trina Horning Wu.


“The Fantasticks” is the final production of the Stagecrafters’ 2009-2010 season. But it opens up summer with a sweet fantasy and should encourage theatergoers to look forward to Stagecrafters’ Readers Theater series on weekends this July.


Remaining performances are June 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26 at 8 p.m. and June 20 and 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20, Thursday evenings two for $30. For reservations call 215-247-8881.


Family Fun Day at Houston

Hundreds of community members, including Town Watch families, students, and teachers from Houston Elementary School joined together on Saturday, June 12 for the 2nd Annual Family Fun Day event, sponsored by the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch, at the Houston playground. The event was born out of the desire to bring together the ever growing number of young families with children in the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch area for a morning of community fun and neighborhood networking. 


Kids and adults alike enjoyed a humorous magic show performed by former Mt. Airy resident Neil Kitrosser. MB Singley wowed the younger crowd with her lively hand-clapping musical performances.  Her daughter, Singley, brought giggles and smiles to the children at her busy face painting station.  In addition, there was mural painting, bubble blowing, and playground playing to round out the morning. Thanks go out for generous donations from local businesses and individuals including High Point Café, Trolley Car Diner, Brewer’s Outlet, Neil Kitrosser, MB Singely, and the Houston Elementary Home and School Association.


FOW Works to Keep Devil’s Pool Clean


Above: FOW volunteers removed graffiti from rocks near Devil’s Pool on Philly Clean Up Day on April 10.


The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) are working with the community this summer to keep Devil’s Pool and the area surrounding it clean. “FOW and our volunteers are doing everything we can to keep this area clean,” says Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Groves. “We have increased our clean up efforts there with help from our Trail Ambassadors and the Student Conservation Association.”


Groves will lead community volunteers in clean-up and planting projects at Devil’s Pool on Saturdays and weekdays throughout the summer. In addition, stewardship signage will be posted in English and Spanish as they were in 2009.


FOW’s Trail Ambassadors will visit Devil’s Pool during their patrols of the park. Although they have no enforcement authority, they will educate Devil’s Pool users about good stewardship and proper trash disposal, remove litter and graffiti, and call Park Rangers or Police if they witness illegal activity.


A high-school volunteer crew from the Student Conservation Association will work at Devil’s Pool twice weekly from July thru early August. These students will remove graffiti and litter and educate Devil’s Pool visitors on park stewardship.


“We want Devil’s Pool to be enjoyable for the entire community,” says FOW Executive Director Maura McCarthy. “But littering in the Wissahickon is damaging to the park.” Devil’s Pool is particularly difficult to maintain because it is secluded and difficult to access by truck, making trash collection challenging. FOW encourages all park users to stop littering and carry out what you bring in.


Volunteers are essential to the success of Devil’s Pool maintenance. If you are interested in volunteering at Devil’s Pool, contact Kevin Groves at 215-247-0417 or groves@fow.org. For more information on the Friends of the Wissahickon, or to become a member, visit www.fow.org. Concerned citizens wishing to report problems at Devil’s Pool are urged to contact the Department of Parks and Recreation at 215-683-0200 or FOW at office@fow.org or 215-247-0417. 


VBS at St. Luke’s

Join everyone at God’s great get-together for a week of creating, connecting and coming together. There is a place for you at Baobab Vacation Bible School at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 5421 Germantown Avenue, from Monday, June 21 to Friday, June 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for children ages 3-12.


There will be Bible stories, music, games and art. Breakfast and lunch will be served.


To register call 215-844-8544, visit the church office, or come on the first day.


Book Launch at CLC

Local author Durrelle Gardner will launch his new book The Gospel Revealed/God’s Plain Truth on Saturday, June 19, 2-4 p.m. at CLC Book Center, 7700 Mermaid Lane, Market Square, Chestnut Hill. The book aims to help readers understand and apply biblical principles to everyday situations.


Chapter one of this publication can be viewed at http://www.unveilingthetruth.com. For information e-mail to durrellegardner@msn.com.


‘Road to Recovery’ for Haiti at FUMCOG

Road to Recovery is a day of hope, revival and celebration for Haiti on June 26 at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) from 1-6  p.m. In January of this year, a massive earthquake struck Haiti resulting in death and injury to hundreds of thousands of victims and leaving the country’s infrastructure devastated. The Road to Recovery is a celebration of Haiti and a hope for renewal. The festival will offer attendees an opportunity to experience Haitian music, food, arts and crafts and guest speaker Fr. Joseph Philippe. Donations of $10 to attend are requested with all proceeds going towards the rebuilding of Fondwa, Haiti, a village at the epicenter of the earthquake.


FUMCOG has been twinned with the Peasant Association of Fondwa since 1994, has worked in support of FONKOZE, Haiti‘s leading micro-finance bank, since its inception in 1996, and has partnered with its Haitian neighbors in Philadelphia working towards justice in Haiti.


Located in the mountains about two hours from Port-au-Prince, Fondwa is a small village that had no infrastructure and limited access to basic needs and services. In 1988, with the leadership of Father Joseph Philippe (pictured)  the village founded the Peasant Association of Fondwa and began the long effort to build a thriving community. Among the many successes was the development of the area’s first health clinic, secondary school and most recently, Haiti's first rural university, providing hope for a better future for many of Haiti’s citizens. 


“I know what I want, I know how to do it, but I don’t have the resources,” says Father Philippe regarding the damage the earthquake has caused.


Guest speaker Father Philippe is the founder of the Peasant Association of Fondwa, founder of Fonkoze and founder of the University of Fondwa and will speak at 2 p.m. to share Haiti’s current situation and their road to recovery. He continues, “We really need to share what we have. If we keep things to ourselves, we’re already destroyed, more than any earthquake can ever do.” 


Father Philippe will also be preaching at the 10 a.m. service at the church on June 27.


All are invited to attend this meaningful and profound day of revival and hope. Although a $10 donation is requested no one will be turned away who would like to participate.


Road to Recovery will be hosted at The First United Methodist Church, 6001 Germantown Avenue. For tickets and more information, please contact Ray Torres, co-chair of the FUMCOG Haiti Committee, at raytorres2@verizon.net.


High Street Celebrates Education

Striving Toward Excellence is the theme for the Sunday June 27, worship service at 4 p.m. at High Street Church of God, 222 East High Street.


We will have testimonies from former scholarship recipients, music and praise dancing. A free will offering will be received for the Women’s Scholarship Ministry.


All are invited to attend.  For further information call 215-438-3190.


Mt. Zion Presents Jazz Evening

The J. Quinton Jackson Memorial Scholarship Committee of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Germantown will present “An Evening of Jazz” with the Jordan Williams Trio.


The evening of music will be held Saturday, June 26 at Center In The Park 5818 Germantown Avenue, from 7-10 p.m.


Proceeds from the $20 donation will benefit the scholarships awarded by the  J. Quinton Jackson Memorial Scholarship Fund.


For more Information call Robert Taylor 215-247-1478.


6300 Block of Germantown Avenue Celebrates Juneteenth

Join Historic Germantown, Freedom’s Backyard, for a day of programs on Saturday, June 19, celebrating the 145th anniversary of Juneteenth, the oldest known celebration commemorating passage and ratification of the 13th Amendment and the ending of slavery in the United States.


The outdoor festival will be held along the 6300 block of Germantown Ave and will include activities for the whole family, designed to bring history to life for all to enjoy.  The Johnson House, located at 6306 Germantown Ave., will host a performance at 11 a.m. by “Harriet Tubman” in which she will tell her story of helping African Americans to seek their freedom.


Other activities along the block will include SoZo’s Market Place, face painting, story hour, screening of the documentary film ‘My Slave Sister Myself’ at 1 and 3 p.m., and exhibits on art, slave memorabilia, and vintage beauty/barber equipment. The exhibits will be hosted by Color Book Gallery, Lucien Crump Gallery, A&D Hair Salon and other local businesses.


The historic Meetinghouse at 6133 Germantown Ave., operated by the Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust, will host an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., showing the table on which the first written protest against slavery was signed.   Other historic sites along the avenue will be open for special tours, including Cliveden of the National Trust from noon-4 p.m. and the Concord School House and Upper Burial Ground from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 215-844-1683 or visit freedomsbackyard.com.


Historic Germantown is a consortium of fifteen cultural and historic sites located in Northwest Philadelphia. 

Members range from historic houses to an art museum and arboretum.


For more information about Historic Germantown visit www.freedomsbackyard.com.



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Hometown Hero


Jesse Biddle, an 18-year-old graduate of Germantown Friends School, was more than pleasantly surprised when his hometown team announced him as its first-round draft pick last Monday, June 7, the 27th pick over-all. Biddle’s selection marks the first time that the Phillies organization chose a local commodity in the first round.


Soon after began what will most likely be remembered as one of the most exciting weeks in Biddle’s life.


A resident of Mt. Airy, Biddle lives with his parents David and Marion, and his brothers, Conor, 14, and Sam, 21.


During the annual sports assembly at GFS on Wednesday, June 9, in which school-wide athletic achievements are acknowledged, Biddle received some extra time in the limelight.


See story below.