From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

August 4, 2011 • Previous Issue


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In This Issue


Mt. Airy 10 and Under Baseball Tournament

July 5th saw the kick-off of the Mt. Airy 10 & Under 2nd Annual Tournament which ended with a championship victory for the Fox Rock’s Red Devils on July 24th. Expanding to seven teams in comparison to the four they started with last year, Umpires and Coordinators of the tournament, David E. Pearson and DJ Giordano, started the pool play tournament “where each team is guaranteed five games and the teams of the four best records would advance to the semi-finals and then the championship” said Giordano.  Winners essentially played seven games in 2 ½ weeks.


Mt. Airy Organization Celebrates 50th Folk Festival

By Nathan Lerner

 

The Philadelphia Folksong Society, headquartered in Mt. Airy, is celebrating a half-century milestone. They will be holding the 50th edition of their big annual event, the Philadelphia Folk Festival. This year’s lineup will include such stalwarts as Arlo Guthrie, Levon Helm, David Bromberg, Trombone Shorty, and Tom Rush. These traditional fan favorites will be augmented by local acts, including The Berrys, Hoots & Hellmouth, Burning Bridget Cleary, RUNA, Birdie Busch, and Suzie Brow


Pool Opening Celebrates Rebirth of Germantown Y

by Tracie Johnson

Staff Reporter


As the lyric goes in LL Cool J’s 1990 hit Mama Said ‘Knock You Out’ , “Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years”. This line perfectly sums up the comeback story of the Germantown Y which is now in full service since it’s reopening early last September. The newly renovated facility includes a 12 feet deep Olympic Pool, a fully equipped fitness gym and weight room, hand and racquet ball courts, a kid fun zone, a game room and a basketball gymnasium. After being closed down for 2 ½ years due to a flood in July of 2008, the Germantown Y is back, growing bigger and better.


Porters Celebrates Three Decades of Early Childhood Education

by Tracie Johnson

Staff Reporter


Having just celebrated their 30th anniversary, Porters Day Care, located on the 1400 block of Belfield Avenue, has been serving the community and providing families with an affordable private school education for quite some time now.


What started out as a dream came true for Debrah Porter-Greasham, who opened up a daycare in 1981 with her family, has now transformed into a collaborative daycare and educational center. Porter’s Day Care & Educational Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, licensed by the Department of Public Welfare, and certified as a Keystone Star Level 4A Site.


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Mt. Airy 10 and Under Baseball Tournament

July 5th saw the kick-off of the Mt. Airy 10 & Under 2nd Annual Tournament which ended with a championship victory for the Fox Rock’s Red Devils on July 24th. Expanding to seven teams in comparison to the four they started with last year, Umpires and Coordinators of the tournament, David E. Pearson and DJ Giordano, started the pool play tournament “where each team is guaranteed five games and the teams of the four best records would advance to the semi-finals and then the championship” said Giordano.  Winners essentially played seven games in 2 ½ weeks.


“Most tournaments take place over the weekend, but we structured a mini league in itself where we had a pool play where each team played another team once, but because of the time limitations they played five of the other six teams. So each times played five teams and missed out on one opponent. We had the first play the forth and the second play the third and the winners of those games played in the championship” said Pearson.


The teams have a very diverse mix, with teams coming from all over the city to compete in the little league tournament.


There’s the Tainey Dragons hailing from South Philadelphia, The Fox Rock Red Devil’s coming from the North East, the Tyoga Mustangs coming from North Philadelphia, the Mt. Airy Nines and Ten’s, The Chestnut Hill Blues, and the East Falls team. “The big thing is, trying to branch out to other areas of the city and trying to have a tournament here” said Giordano.


With school being out during the summer and given the many kids who weren’t fortunate enough to go off to camps, Pearson and Giordano thought it imperative to start a local league where kids can get the chance to work on their techniques and have something productive to do with all the time on their hands.


“A lot of these kids can’t get to other tournaments like those in New Jersey or South Hampton so why not put a tournament here, where the kids can walk to the field” said Giordano. Football does not start in the Mt. Airy playground until the end of July hence another impetus for starting the league, which was to maintain a functioning field that will attract more usage and maintain interests.


There were many unfortunate events that transpired throughout the tournament like late cancellations and conflicting schedules that really forced Pearson and Giordano to constantly reassess and rearrange the operation behind the tournament.

Since February, the two have been building this tournament up, sending emails, making phone calls and recreating schedules. For example, one of the teams that won in the semi-finals and advanced on to the championship had to pull out late, which then opened up room for one of the losing teams to then go on and compete in the championship game. Assuming the roles of both coordinators and umpires, they’re able to take certain setbacks in stride because they have access to both resources and are in the position to make critical decisions. “Neither one of us could do it alone… we’re a team” said Pearson.


Very rarely in sports do you see the coordinators of tournaments umpiring the games, acting as officials and referees. Being in such close proximity affords them the great benefit of being in the heart of the sport which then allows them to establish intimate relationships with the teams. Of course, it’s double the stress because when something goes wrong the two take hits from both angles.


On the flipside, it opens up another avenue for the kids to see how the two roles can interconnect in a prosperous way that allows for the show to go on when the certain mishaps occur. Their speedy reaction in resolving issues around the late cancellation on the brink of the championship game serves as a great product of the dynamic dualism Pearson and Giordano offers as both coordinators and umpires.


There are standard rules set to protect the morale of the game. There’s a six inning limit enforced to prohibit teams from over extending good pitchers. It also cushions the blow for teams taking major losses so that they’re self esteem isn’t negatively impacted in such a way that it actually discourages the children from playing when all they may need is a little more practice.


These kinds of rules and boundaries uphold the value of an honest competition and instill great sportsmanship in the participating teams. “We put limits on the amount of pitchers that can pitch in the pool play of tournament and per game as well. Part of it is to prevent damage to the arm and also make sure that the game isn’t dominated by one kid” says Pearson. “It’s baseball, yet it’s adapted to the age level of the players. We don’t want them sliding head first into the base or colliding so if there’s a plate or base, the runner has to slide” says Pearson.


With tremendous support from the community and family members, the Mt. Airy Little League Tournament continues to aid children in honing in on their crafts, educate players on the role that their bodies and physical growth play in their performance. For the second year now, the tournament opened up a platform for children to conveniently come play and explore the sport that they love.


Mt. Airy Organization Celebrates 50th Folk Festival

By Nathan Lerner

 

The Philadelphia Folksong Society, headquartered in Mt. Airy, is celebrating a half-century milestone. They will be holding the 50th edition of their big annual event, the Philadelphia Folk Festival. This year’s lineup will include such stalwarts as Arlo Guthrie, Levon Helm, David Bromberg, Trombone Shorty, and Tom Rush. These traditional fan favorites will be augmented by local acts, including The Berrys, Hoots & Hellmouth, Burning Bridget Cleary, RUNA, Birdie Busch, and Suzie Brown.


Juli Vitello will be playing a pivotal role at the festival, running the Friends of the Fest program. She has worked in this volunteer position ever since the program’s inception in 2006. Vitello explained her motivation, saying “I went to the festival for over 20 years and always had a great time. I met so many wonderful people. I reached an age when I wanted to give something back for all those good times.”


What exactly does the Friends of the Fest involve? For an additional fee of $195, individuals can obtain premium perquisites at the festival. This includes a reserved parking space, seating in the hospitality tent adjoining the backstage, two gourmet picnic meals, inclusion in a commemorative group photograph, chair massages, access to free showers, and enhanced opportunities to interact with performers. The fees generated by the Friends of the Fest go directly to Philadelphia Folksong Society, the event’s sponsor.


Vitello described the genesis of the program, “The idea for Friends of the Fest really came from Merlefest in North Carolina.  Merlefest wants their so-called golden ticket buyers to be so happy that they give them rocking chairs in the wings of the stage.”

The job entails a lot of hard work for Vitello, but she clearly enjoys the experience, “The most gratifying part is that the people who sign up are really nice. It is a pleasure to help them have a good festival. Some come from as far away as Georgia and Ohio. This year, one is coming all the way from France.”


 Vitello recounted her own introduction to the festival back in 1976, “I have to thank my friend, Caryl P. Weiss, an excellent singer, songwriter, and performer, who brought me as her guest. She thought I would love it and I did. At the time, I was a rock DJ and I didn’t know from folk music. I was blown away.”


She cited one vivid memory, “The first time I ever walked down the hill to the stage I heard Tom Paxton singing, Did You See John Hurt?” It remains one of my favorite songs.” Vitello added, “One of my first friends, when I came here from Reading, was Gene Shay when he was at WMMR.” Shay has served as emcee at every festival since its origin.


Vitello’s résumé includes her accomplishments as an Emmy Award-winning television producer as well as  twelve years at Electric Factory Concerts as a publicist and marketing specialist. Vitello explained how her background in the entertainment industry helped prepare her with running the Friends of the Festival program. “When I was at Electric Factory Concerts, I learned that every show should be special for the ticket buyer. When you do as many shows as we did annually, this was not easy. However, if you dig a bit, there is always something concertgoers would like to have to make their experience a little better.”


Vitello’s son, Carson, graduated Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School with Honors and currently matriculates at the University of Pittsburgh. Vitello’s husband, Don, is a television director, who won two Emmys. He currently works for Fusion, a Philadelphia-based production company. For the Vitello clan, the festival has become an annual family outing. Carson started camping at the festival with friends when he was about 12. Vitello herself started camping two years later. She conceded, “I am not much of a camper, but for a few days once a year, it is fine. The evening concerts and Friends duties can run rather late, so it is better to crawl into a tent than try to hit the Turnpike.” Vitello laughed, “My husband, Don, loves the Festival, but he draws the line at camping.” Both Carson and Don both work as volunteers at the festival. Vitello specified, “My son helps the Friends of the Festival load in their gear and my husband helps in the Friend of the Festival hospitality tent and with onstage seating.”


Vitello waxed nostalgic, when she described one specific aspect of the festival, “My favorite moment is at 7:30 each night when the bagpipe player walks down the hill, playing to signal the beginning of the evening performance. When you hear that sound and know you have a whole night of music in front of you, you could just cry with happiness. “


 Vitello mused, “I think the Festival has lasted 50 years because it is a great environment in which to see music. It is a safe place to entertain your family with many activities for kids such as crafts, juggling, and concerts in Dulcimer Grove.” She contended, “The people are goodhearted and friendly. If you get into any kind of difficulty, lost tent stakes, lost children, or anything else, someone will always help you out.”


Vitello continued, “Musically, there are always acts you know you like and new acts you had no idea about. You see performers that you are never going to see anywhere else, put together in fascinating shows. It is not unusual to have Tuvan throat singers lead up a western swing band. It gives you such an appreciation for all types of music!”


The 50th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival will be held on the Old Poole Farm near Schwenksville, between Friday, Aug. 19 and Sunday, Aug. 21.


For more information, call (215) 247-1300.


Nathan welcomes feedback at at culturevulture@aol.com.


Pool Opening Celebrates Rebirth of Germantown Y

by Tracie Johnson

Staff Reporter


As the lyric goes in LL Cool J’s 1990 hit Mama Said ‘Knock You Out’ , “Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years”. This line perfectly sums up the comeback story of the Germantown Y which is now in full service since it’s reopening early last September. The newly renovated facility includes a 12 feet deep Olympic Pool, a fully equipped fitness gym and weight room, hand and racquet ball courts, a kid fun zone, a game room and a basketball gymnasium. After being closed down for 2 ½ years due to a flood in July of 2008, the Germantown Y is back, growing bigger and better.


Without much support from the former board of the YMCA, the staff workers had to work from the bottom up to reopen the center. Having lost their YMCA organization charter, things weren’t looking good for the staff, but with support from community members and the staff’s indebted devotion to the viability of the 83 year old Y, slowly but surely progress was made. With help of local colleges like LaSalle and Temple University and local churches, the fight was not in vain.


“December of 2008 is when the entire fitness staff was let go. The day the flood happened members were let go and weren’t given any future information. Our membership staff tried their hardest to place our members with other YMCA’s. Colleges came to our help welcoming our members a place in their facilities… like LaSalle and Temple. Churches as well answered to our call” said Maria Waters, the Director of Marketing and Membership.


At this point, the Germantown Y is not in the position to administer a summer camp, and has not yet begun the after school program due to preparation for upcoming inspections. However, the staff is confient that the summer camp will be welcomed back next year and the after school programs will return in the weeks to come. The organization also hopes to bring back basketball leagues, swim meets and more.


There are many historical souvenirs that have been kept and preserved in order to marry the old with the new  concepts of the Y. The old cornerstone sits in the fireplace of the foyer which is presided over by a chandelier that also remains from the old Y. The Philadelphia 76ers donated backboards from one of their champion ship games and installed it in the basketball gymnasium.


Although the membership from before has not fully returned, the fitness staff has been welcomed back. Erika Ward, a fitness and wellness guru and a top of the line staff, have come back to the Germantown Y instructing community members on how to be healthy and fit.


“She’s our czar here… her staff is top of the line and I think that’s why we’re able to stand up against newer places like the Crock Center. Our trainers are fitness instructors who are well versed and well traveled with skills in martial arts” said Waters.

Ebony Debrest has returned as the Aquatics Director along with a full equipped staff of instructors. “They’re almost like physical therapists the way they work. You see people come in and say their doctor said they need physical therapy and they’ll have cane’s and then after a couple of weeks you’ll see them striding in the pool. So something has got to be working there” said Waters.  The instruction by the fitness staff has transformed the goals of members from shallow appearance oriented work- out plans geared towards bulking up or dropping massive pounds in exchange for goals oriented around body definition and toning.


Demographically the Germantown has gone through some changes, and is still in transition. It started out with a predominately white membership but became integrated in the late 60’s as a result of the civil rights movement. The community continued to transform, becoming predominantly black, assumingly due to “white flight.”


As the community population changed, so did the membership. Today, the Y services and attracts people of all races, inside the 19119-19144 zip codes and out, due to the high value and quality of the Olympic pool and racquet courts.

The Staff of the Germantown Y has no intention on appealing to the repossession of their charter. They are more focused on finishing renovations and meeting the specific need of community members.  Having joined Michelle Obama’s Lets Move Campaign fighting childhood obesity in urban communities, The Y has seen a need for such a fitness initiative in our surrounding area and has developed a program for not only obese children, but obese families.


The pilot program Fit to Be Me will be introduced at no cost in September with the goal of having families’ workout together to reach mutual health and weight loss goals. Waters and the rest of her staff has also noticed a need for more early childhood education and plans to expand on that issue.


Targeting teenagers, the Y staff would like to take bullying head on with a conflict resolution course/ program that will put bullies and those being bullied in the same room to attack the problem so that young people involved can get to the root of the issues and hopefully resolve the issue.


All staff members of the YMCA have training in CPR, AED and Blood Pathogen. There is security throughout the building, almost always two life guards on the staff in the pool area, and the fitness center and weight rooms are manned around-the-clock.

The Y accepts Health Partners, Keystone Mercy and Coventry Cares Health Plans.  You must present your Health Plan ID card and a valid photo ID to a Member Services Representative. UFCW Local 1776 and participating employers also accepted. You must have your current Union card and valid photo ID.


The Y has been the focal point of Germantown since first establishing in the 1800s. With a high functioning facility, a well equipped team, the Germantown Y specializes in fitness results when servicing members.


Porters Celebrates Three Decades of Early Childhood Education

by Tracie Johnson

Staff Reporter


Having just celebrated their 30th anniversary, Porters Day Care, located on the 1400 block of Belfield Avenue, has been serving the community and providing families with an affordable private school education for quite some time now.


What started out as a dream came true for Debrah Porter-Greasham, who opened up a daycare in 1981 with her family, has now transformed into a collaborative daycare and educational center. Porter’s Day Care & Educational Center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, licensed by the Department of Public Welfare, and certified as a Keystone Star Level 4A Site.


Porter’s Day Care & Educational Center (PDCEC) services a diverse population of families with children/students of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, ranging all across the socio-economic spectrum. Although this background information is important to the staff of PDCEC, the main focus is on the individual needs and development of the children/students they serve.


Taking into consideration the wide range in age between students, PDCEC has developed a 3-part program that encompasses the various needs of children as they grow older. Beginning with the stepping stone, Porter’s Day Care, a developmental learning daycare program has been designed to teach infants, toddlers and pre- k aged students language development, math concepts, science, computers, social studies, etc. 


“The daycare program has a holistic approach in the program. We believe children learn through play. A lot of our activities are very hands-on and interactive. So if we’re integrating science concepts, the kids may be making a volcano [the older kids] and from there we [the educators] will make an observation” says Debrah Porter-Greasham, The Executive Director of PDCEC.


In the kindergarten to third grade age range, the Broad Street Academy subsequently comes into play offering an exceptional primary school that focuses on the early education of students between the pre-k and grade school periods of their academic development.


The Broad Street Academy offers Christian enrichment, small class sizes, an accelerated curriculum, computers in each classroom, school bus transportation, a large outdoor facility for children to learn and play in, a staff of qualified educators, before and after school programs, and an affordable tuition that accommodates people of all socio-economic classes. Not only are there computers in each class, there’s an computer lab which is utilized when instructors want to do more technologically based learning with the children.


“Our computer lab is also accessible to community members who want to learn more about computers or simply access the internet” says Darlene A. Davis, the PDCEC Director of Finance.


The Twilight Youth Development Program is an arts-centered youth program that services children ranging between the ages of 5 to 17 years. Classes for this program rotate every eight weeks focusing on varying subjects in the arts, as well as social issues and character building. The curriculum offers everything the Broad Street Academy has but is delivered as an out-of-school program, where kids aren’t actually matriculating with Porter’s but is coming for additional academic support.


“Our advisor goes out an meet with their school counselor three times a year and connects with their children so we can set educational goals for the students together” says Porter-Greasham.


The Early Head Start Home- Based Program which is a partnering program where the staff of Porters Daycare get a chance to build relationship with the child’s parents as they grow with their child. Teachers are the architects of the fundamental building blocks that our children are sprung from, so it’s necessary for both the parents and teachers to have a binding relationship because it stresses the importance for education from both sides, but on one front. This is a philosophy that the Head Start Program holds true in partnering with pregnant women, or parents of newborns and toddlers.


Once Prospective families choose Porter’s Daycare and welcomes the curriculum and mission of PDCEC, an assessment is done to place children on a track that best fits their learning style and learning span, etc. “All the children that comes into our program within the first 45 days are assessed, where we find out there learning style and we sit down with the parents, review the assessments and set goals. Our educational philosophy is that every child learns at his/her own rate”, says Greasham- Porter.


What really sets PDCEC apart from other daycares is their strong emphasis on the arts and visual learning. Albert Einstein once mentioned that he thought in pictures, so certainly the curriculum of PDCEC isn’t too far off.


“We try to make sure we have activities with children that further language and literacy so we do different things as it relates to phonetic skills. We tell stories, and so if we’re telling fairytales the teachers get dressed up. We don’t believe in just writing things down on paper, but visually. Also, if there are children with speech delays, we make sure the auditory part of the classroom is set up” says Greasham-Porter.


There is no doubt that education and family support goes a long way when it comes to the rearing of a child. The founders of PDCEC believe that with a religious and community service backing, children will grow up to be better citizens adding to the world rather than subtracting.


“We are a Christian based organization, which we feel gives the children moral values… our curriculum sometimes incorporate the value but that’s only if the parents want it. We have many parents who are Muslims so if they don’t want their kids to participate in certain activities we respect their wishes” says Davis.


PDCEC greatly services the community hosting an annual Unity Day where community members come out and celebrate local achievements with one another. There are scholarships offered for families who cannot afford the Broad Street academy 10 month program as well as for high school graduates going into to their first year in college. With the freshman year scholarship alone, in over 10 years PDCEC has given away $70,000. Family Services hones in on the needs of the parents, educating them on legislation that affects the subsidized funds they receive. Family Services also assists parents who are in need of homes or are in search of employment.



Police Allege Welding Business Coexisted with Meth Lab

By Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


According to police, one of the five suspects arrested on June 23 for distributing crystal methamphetamine was also running a legitimate business while selling drugs. Warren Layre was running a welding business out of the garage, which may have served as cover for the illegal meth distribution that was taking place there.


“He was doing legitimate business there,” Lieutenant Robert Otto said of Layre and the garage at 529-35 W. Sedgwick Street in West Mt. Airy. According to Otto, evidence indicate that Layre was running a “crisp business” out of the location, both legally and illegally.


Otto said that none of the five suspects have given up any information in relation to the alleged crimes, but it was yet another anonymous tip that led police to getting a second warrant to return to the location on July 13, in which more cash and meth were found.


According to Assistant District Attorney with the Dangerous Drug-Offender Unit, Lynne O’Brien, one suspect has been released on bail, but all other suspects continue to await the hearing, scheduled for August 15, in prison. If found guilty, each offender faces a minimum of five to 10 years in prison, a mandatory sentence for cases involving guns and drugs.


Otto said that Layre’s Conshohocken home had also been raided, and more guns and cash were found there, bringing the total to be more than $380,000 in cash and 22 firearms. $250,000 worth of meth was found in the garage, along with about 800 lbs worth of fireworks and $550 worth of steroids.


None of the other suspects’ homes have been searched.


Although larger operations have been discovered, Otto said that the W. Sedgwick Street case was somewhat larger than the usual finding. “This is above average from what we are usually involved in,” he said. “This is significant.” Police are also maintaining that meth was being sold out of the garage, but not made there.


Otto said that no more suspects have been named or arrested, but that it is a possibility as the investigation continues.


Neighbors were initially surprised at the discovery of the drug dealers in their midst, but Otto was not. “The neighbors seemed surprised by what had taken place,” he said. “I think it was a perfect set up for (the suspects) because it is a quiet neighborhood.”


The five suspects arrested in relation to the investigation were Warren Layre, Brian Timer, Thomas Basara, Cecelia Silverwood and James McIntyre.


According to the district attorney’s office, the site of the crime is now sealed off and will remain so until at least the end of the trial.


CHCA Confirms Receipt of Fresh Market Presentation

by Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


The Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA) announced at its July 28 Board of Directors meeting that all of its Physical Division committees received presentations from Bowman Properties.


The presentations covered the proposed Fresh Market development that could take the place of the former Magarity Ford at 8200 Germantown Avenue.


Robert Rossman, former vice president for operations for CHCA, said that the presentations were professionally done, but that the matter was still unresolved. According to Rossman, instead of seeking zoning variances, Bowman Properties is petitioning City Council to rezone the areas, and that a subcommittee that has been developed to deal with the issue specifically is working with residents to reach a resolution before it comes to that.


City Council is currently in summer recess, and Rossman estimated that the issue wouldn’t come before the legislative body before September. “There’s time to look at it and hash out the things that have to be hashed out,” Rossman said.


Joyce Lenhardt, chair of the subcommittee that is working closely with residents and Bowman Properties to reach an amicable solution, said that Bowman Properties most likely feels that requesting for the area to be rezoned would be easier than obtaining zoning variances.


Lenhardt said that action of this type was “less common than to go for variances.”


“I think if they went for zoning variances it would be a very large number of zoning variances,” she said.


Lenhardt would not comment further on discussions with Bowman Properties.


Sen. Kitchen To Co-Host Community Day Event at Lenfest PAL Center

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen, HUGS Inc. and Lenfest PAL Center will host a  Community Day at Lenfest PAL Center on Saturday, Aug. 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lenfest PAL Center, 3890 N. 10th St. (10th and Pike streets).


This family-friendly community event will feature health screenings, exhibitors, children’s activities and a Senior Corner featuring refreshments, health screenings and giveaways. The first 50 people to sign up for a free membership to Lenfest PAL Center will receive back-to-school supplies.


Press Reports Indicate City Owed $130,000; Trial Nears

By Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


According to a report last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer, lawyer and childhood friend of U.S. Representative Chakah Fattah, Mikel D. Jones, borrowed $150,000 five years ago from a city program, but has only paid back $20,000.


Jones, who also works as a staffer for a congressman in South Florida, borrowed the money with the goal of expanding his Philadelphia law practice. He has been charged with fraud by federal prosecutors who believe a large portion of the money was used to pay personal expenses, including credit card bills and tickets to sporting events.


Jones’ trial is scheduled for September, but he is only one of a dozen people involved in the controversy surrounding a business-development program formerly run by City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. A majority of the other borrowers haven’t paid anything back.

The FBI investigation grew out of one being conducted by the city Inspector Genera’s Office that remains ongoing.


Allegations have been made that other borrowers also had political ties, including a business owned by Melonease Shaw, who is a friend of State Rep. Dwight Evans.


The program is known as Minority Ventures Partners and was established by the Philadelphia Commercial Development Corp. before it was shut down by the Nutter administration in 2009 for mismanagement of funds. The program began lending money using a $1.5 million economic-development grant.


According to Aqil Sabur, who approved disbursements from the program, no repayment schedule was developed for Minority Ventures Partners and there wasn't time to develop one before PCDC was shut down.

Several of those who received funds though the program said that they haven’t paid anything back because they weren’t asked to.


As to allegations that Fatah was involved with the procurement of funds for his childhood friend, Jones, Fatah responded in an e-mail: “In regard to the upcoming trial of my friend, I’d like to be absolutely clear, I have had no conversation, knowledge or involvement in any of the matters surrounding the investigation.”


Residents, Police Meet to Discuss 14th District Issues

By Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


Residents from Police Service Area 3 in West Mt. Airy met with police officers from the 14th district and district attorney representatives at the Germantown Jewish Centre on Wednesday, July 27 for a monthly meeting to discuss issues that have recently arisen in that area.


In attendance was Captain Joel Dales, who has been combining his town hall meetings with PSA meetings for the past several weeks and will continue to do so for the next few months. PSA meetings typically act as a discourse between police and residents of a given area to address the needs and concerns of neighborhood residents.


Vernon Price, Mt. Airy resident and director of government and community affairs, and  Leland Kent, executive director of Victim, Witness and Neighborhood Services, both from the District Attorney’s office,  also spoke about witness protection and youth mentality, two concepts that are related, according to the speakers.


The theme of the meeting revolved around guiding youth in the right direction by dismissing the “no snitching” culture, which according to Kent is a code many young people live by, but which can cause more harm than good.


Dales agreed, and used a recent shooting that took place at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Sharpnack Street that took place during the middle of the day as an example. Not a single witness to the shooting turned up, Dales said.


Kent said the street code lures people into a false sense of security. “When you go home, it doesn’t mean you’re safe because you didn’t cooperate (with law enforcement).”


“We’re meeting tonight because there are criminals among us,” Kent said. He said that everywhere there are people, especially young people, who are on the verge of making a decision that could turn them into a criminal.


To illustrate his point, part of Kent’s presentation was a slide show with pictures from a crime scene in which two young men had attempted to rob a restaurant. The owner of the diner shot and killed on of the assailants and injured the second in self-defense.


“What we do is reeducate young people,” Price said. “We try to explain to them that there is more than just fame, there is more than just money and fortune.”


Kent said that a majority of people put into witness protection are afraid to leave Philadelphia because it is all they have known in their lives. Nevertheless, “We’ve moved thousands of families,” he said. Only five people in witness protection have been murdered over the years, and that was because they returned to the neighborhood, Kent said.


Following the presentation, the floor was open for questions. In keeping with the theme of youth culture, several neighborhood residents complained about the youth loitering around their homes and causing disturbances in the area.


Heather Pierce, head of Carpenter’s Woods Town Watch, spoke specifically about a group of young adults who often loiter at the corner of Greene and Ellet streets and in the schoolyard of C.W. Henry School at night. While she says that she does not think the youths are engaging in any illegal activity, she did not like the fact that they were hanging around and asked for the police and the DA’s office to intervene.


The representatives of the DA’s office maintained that their responsibilities lied in prosecution of crimes and not so much prevention of it, but pledged to do all they could. Police expressed awareness of the issue, but Dales said they could do little if no crimes were being committed. Nevertheless, Dales promised to build more of a police presence in the area to deter the loitering.


According to Dales, violent crime is not high in his district or in PSA 3 in particular, but theft from auto and burglary were especially common throughout the summer months. “Ninety percent of theft from autos can be prevented if people remove their valuables from their cars,” he said. “As far as your house, lock your doors, lock your windows, even if you’re home.”


Dales said laptops, cell phones and purses were some of the most common items to be stolen from vehicles, and thieves had taken to entering homes even while residents are still inside. He recommended that if valuables are to be left in a car at all, they should be put in the trunk so as not to be seen.


“We all wake up everyday, we all have to make the right decisions,” Price said. “You have to reap what you sow, you have to lay in your bed.”


Emanuel Freeman Held in Contempt of Court

Despite a order from the Federal Banlkruptcy Court directing Emanuel Freeman of Germantown Settlement and affiliated organizations to appear before attorney Irv Ackelsberg and provide documents relative to corporations in bankruptcy and their holdings, Mr. Freeman advised through the Trustee in Bankruptcy that he would not be available on the designated datge of July 27, 2002.  Attoreny Acklesberg, acting on behalf of the commuinty and the Germantown Commuinty Connection filed a motion to hold him in contempt.  Mr. Freeman appeard in court on August 3, responded to questions and has now agreed to appear for examination on Monday, August 8 to response to the same issues.


CHCA Hires New Community Manager

By Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


The Chestnut Hill Community Association (CHCA) unanimously approved the hiring of Celeste Hardester as its new Community Manager at its community board meeting last Thursday, July 28.


Hardester, a freelance photographer and a resident of Roxborough, was hired to replace Philip LeClasey. She will begin her position full-time in September.


The decision came after a long and involved process by which the board reviewed and interviewed many applicants. Although the board was open to the unique merits that each applicant could bring to the position, it emphasized that the applicant must be familiar with Chestnut Hill. In the end it came down to three candidates.


“We liked all three of the candidates,” Robert Rossman, former vice president of operations said at the meeting. “(But) it was clear to us that Celeste was by far the best candidate.”


Speaking to the board, Hardester said that although she greatly enjoyed working as a freelance photographer because of the creativity it allowed, she was also intent on finding a position with steadier hours and a steady paycheck.


“I couldn’t imagine what I would find that would feel like the right fit for me,’ Hardester said of her search. “It felt like serendipity.”


Hardester said that she felt that it was her experience working for the Hal Lewis Group, a small marketing and advertising firm for the pharmaceutical industry located in Center City that really helped her to develop the skills she would need to adequately fill the position of community manager.


During her time there, Hardester helped the business to grow from roughly 10 employees and $1 million in annual revenue to more than 120 employees and $15 in annual revenue. “Small business is a wonderful thing,” she said of the experience. “I wore a lot of hats.”


Hardester said that she also felt her experience with community groups would help her in her new position. For the past several years she has been active with the Roxborough Civic Association, during which she developed experience with Philadelphia’s zoning process.


More specifically, Hardester recalled an experience during which she worked closely with a developer in the Roxborough area to come to an amicable solution. “I spearheaded an effort within the neighborhood to negotiate with that developer,” she said. “Our wish was to get him to listen to our concerns.”


Hardester said that the issue is ongoing, but things are looking good.  Hardester said she was even invited to join the association’s board last year, but declined the opportunity.


“I feel who I have become as a person…has given me some of the soft skills that can be valuable,” Hardester said.


Mike Chomentowsky, a member of the search committee who was present during one of Hardester’s interview, said that while CHCA is technically looking for a replacement for the last Community manager, the position had really changed to incorporate much more.


“You’re the constant, not us,” he said. “I hope you’ll lead us, rather than be led by us.”


Rep. Parker DUITrial Continued to Aug 22

By Bob O’Brien

Staff Reporter


State Representative Cherelle Parker’s DUI trial will take place on August 22, continued from its original date on July 11, so that the Pennsylvania Attorney General can prosecute the case.


According to District Attorney spokesperson Tasha Jamerson, the case was moved up to the Attorney General’s office because D.A. Seth Williams did not think he could prosecute the case of someone he knows personally.


“Because it was a conflict of interest, because the DA was friends with (Parker),” Jamerson said, the DA referred the case to the attorney general.


Bill Ryan, 1st Deputy Attorney General for Pennsylvania, corroborated the statement, saying: “We have this case because we got a letter from the DA’s office because the defendant has a close working relationship with the district attorney. He felt that it would appear there could be a conflict.”


Both the Attorney General’s office and the DA’s office said that it is common for a request of this type to take place when prosecutor and defendant are familiar with one another.


Parker declined to comment when asked. Her attorney, Joseph Kelly, could not be reached for comment.


She was arrested around midnight on May 1 after being given a Breathalyzer test when police stopped her for driving the wrong way on a one way street on the 5800 block of Baynton Street in Germantown. The results of her test were not released.

Her hearing is scheduled for August 22 at 10. a.m. in the Criminal Justice Center, court room 806.


Parker’s district includes Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy.


The only legal trouble Parker has encountered previously was an “Excess Fire Alarm” suit in 2007 which was eventually dismissed in 2008.


Philly Cares Day

Saturday, October 22, marks Greater Philadelphia Cares 18th annual Philly Cares Day! It is the largest managed volunteer day in the city. Volunteers from all over will come together to tackle various projects at Philadelphia schools, communities and recreation centers. Our rally site this year will be South Philadelphia High. This event is from 8:30am to 3:00pm. All are welcome to participate through volunteering time and our various sponsorship levels.


South Philadelphia High, 2101 S. Broad Street

For more information, please contact:

Matthew Mumber, Annual Events & Corporate Projects Coordinator

Greater Philadelphia Cares

100 S. Broad Street, Suite 2200

Philadelphia, Pa 19110

matthew@gpcares.org

(p) 215-564-4544

(f) 215-564-4543

For registration: https://sites.google.com/a/gpcares.org/2011phillycaresday/.


Talking Philly Baseball

A Sigh of Relief

There was something of a collective sigh of relief after Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trading deadline passed on Sunday. Although the Phillies had already acquired outfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros for some minor-league prospects, many thought that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was still seeking a veteran relief pitcher.


With the farm system nearly barren of up-and-coming players, I was among those who believed that the team would have had to part with one of its young starters to get the bullpen help that it needs. That Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley are still with the Phillies is something of an indication that one of those two pitchers was the price that Amaro would have had to pay for such a reliever.


Amaro, as usual, wouldn’t say much after Sunday’s deadline other than the fact that he was talking with other teams but couldn’t come to any agreement. Nobody knows which pitcher Amaro was seeking, but could it be that whoever it was might have cost the Phillies Kendrick or Worley? Only Amaro knows, and he’s not talking.


That the Phillies would acquire Pence was a given once the team’s primary target, Carlos Beltran, was dealt by the New York Mets to the San Francisco Giants last Tuesday. With the division rival Atlanta Braves also seeking an outfielder, Philadelphia had to pay whatever it took to get Pence.


Had both San Francisco, a potential opponent in the National League Championship Series, and Atlanta, the only real threat to the Phillies in the Eastern Division, both bolstered their outfields while the Phillies did nothing, there could have been disastrous consequences down the home stretch and in the playoffs. Amaro did what he had to do.


The Braves acquired former Phillie Michael Bourne, so this could make things interesting as all three teams addressed immediate needs for the last two months of the season.


Whether or not Pence is the savior for the number-five slot in the batting order, only time will tell. His numbers look good. Pence slugged 25 home runs in each of the last three seasons and averaged 82 RBIs during the same three years. He arrived in Philadelphia with 11 homers and 62 RBI, which project to about 18 dingers and 90 runs batted in.


He might reach 20 homers if the team had a few more home games, but the Phillies have just 22 games left at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park during August and September.


As for a veteran reliever, it’s still possible to get one, but it will be a little more difficult. Any players traded after July 31 must first clear waivers before any deal can be completed. Consequently, should Amaro come to terms with any team for a pitcher who would clearly improve the Phillies’ bullpen, Atlanta could put in a waiver claim just to block the deal.


Having started the month of August six games behind Philadelphia in the Eastern Division standings, the Braves will need all of the help they can get to overcome the Phillies. If it means putting in a waiver claim to stop a trade, I’m guessing that that’s exactly what Atlanta will do.

That’s my opinion. What do you think?


Bill McFarland has covered the Phillies since 1991. Contact him at 215-354-3037 or at mcfarlandwilliam@hotmail.com.


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