Seniors Show Their Michael Jackson Moves at CIP Tribute

R-8 Station Work Back on Schedule

30 Officers Now Patrolling on Foot in 14th District

Alleged Assault on Wakefield Developer

Annual Bazaar at CHCE

Buddhist Teacher at Big Blue Marble

Tour Stenton on Day Its Owner Died

Halloween Fun from NW EPIC

Workshop on Options for Older Adults

‘Make a Difference Day’ in Vernon Park

Poet-Ify (Po-et-tif-eye) is “Poetry to Edify”

Weavers Way: Buying Local Food is Best

Michael Vick, Humane Society, Bring Anti-dogfighting Message to GHS

Some See ‘Red’ Over ‘Green’ Building

Ghost of the Great Road: Do Bloodstains Mark Spot of a Ghostly Presence?

‘Spooky Stories’ and More at Stagecrafters Halloween Show

Annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade

Legendary Mose Allison Coming to Northwest

WNC Seeks Members for Neighborhood Advisory Committee

Workshop on Options for Older Adults

Annual Bazaar at CHCE

Drama Group Play on Mysteries of Memory

High Point Café Celebrates

Help Clean Pergolas, Gateway to Northwest

Sale Benefits Community Groups

Give Your Views on Parks

St. Michael’s Reschedules Emlen Book Drive

Deaf/Hearing Anti-Violence Night

Church Finances Newspapers

Celebration at Mt. Zion

Elder Dinner at Berachah

From the Chronicle • Germantown News Stories

October 22, 2009

Brannon Johnson, program director at Center in the Park, teaches seniors how to do Michael Jackson moves.

(See a video on our index page in the right column)

Seniors Show Their Michael Jackson Moves at CIP Tribute



Editorial Staff Interns

Wearing sequined white gloves and high socks with loafers, they stepped and shrugged in unison across the dance floor as Michael Jackson’s music video “Thriller” played in the background.

But this was no ordinary gathering of Michael Jackson enthusiasts. This was Center in the Park, Germantown’s award-winning senior center at 5818 Germantown Avenue, where more than 60 people aged 55 and up turned out October 16 to remember the King of Pop and move to his music.

“I think he’s a genius and I really love what he did for music for the world,” said Frances P. Moss, who holds a lifetime membership in Center in the Park. “I don’t think that I will live to see anyone like him again. I think he was one of a kind.”

As instructors called out various moves, the seniors took to the dance floor with abandon.  Ellen Wade, who said she was in her 60s, twisted and shimmied in pink high heels and a matching pink cowboy hat and jacket. “These (heels) are my short ones,” she explained during a break. “I wear these for dancing.”

Wade was not alone in attire among the sparkling hats, homemade sequin gloves and matching socks on display. Even those who sat on the sidelines with their walkers and canes came in Jackson costume. As the music played, they bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the beat.

The Michael Jackson remembrance – held some four months after Jackson, 50,  died of cardiac arrest on June 25 – was the brainchild of Moss.

“We thought about all the wonderful things and songs that he was responsible for and how we felt when we heard them, so I just said, ‘I think we should have a day of remembering Michael, just with his songs and have fun, and see if we can do the moon walk for one thing,’” she  said.

Others felt the same way. “I’m very saddened by [his] death.  I just can’t believe that he’s gone,” said Yvonne Tilghman, a Center in the Park member who came dressed in a long white jacket and black leather pants, which she admitted weren’t as tight as Jackson’s would have been. Like others, she wanted to celebrate Jackson’s life, not linger on his death.  “You just cannot stay still when you’re listening to Michael,” she commented.

In addition to his music, Tilghman has a personal memento of the star.  Her late husband’s grandfather worked for Motown and gave her an autographed copy of his CD, Ben.  “I never had a chance to meet him, but ... I just have something I can treasure,” she said.

Carlotta Fareira, who came to the party in a Jerry curl wig and fedora, said that posters of the pop star covered the ceiling and walls of her daughter’s bedroom while she was growing up. To this day, she said, she plays some of Jackson’s oldest tunes, such as ABC, for her grandchildren

Despite the controversy that swirled around Jackson’s life, Fareira still holds a positive image of the icon.  “I think people see him in a different view, and I don’t know with all the information and things that happened around children…I really don’t know, but I just saw him as a gentle, peaceful person, and that’s the way I will remember him,” she said.

R-8 Station Work Back on Schedule


Staff Writer

Work on the $7.4 million renovation and upgrade of the SEPTA R8 Allen Lane Train Station just about reached its midpoint this month as contractors are continuing to lay the foundations for the handicapped-accessible high-level platforms on the inbound and outbound sides of the tracks.

When the project began in February work progressed slowly, but Project Manager Bill Caden now estimates the contractors are almost on pace to make the June 2009 projected completion date.

“We’re reasonably close to schedule,” he said. “I think we’re pretty close to that… It’s all gonna depend on how bad a winter we have, I guess.”

In addition to the platform work, contractors and subcontractors are working off- site to restore the wood and steel members of the historic pedestrian overpass and both inbound and outbound pedestrian shelters. Once the foundation and pillars for both platforms are complete, workers will start laying the pre-cast platform sections. And when the platform is in place workers will begin the piece-by-piece rebuild of the pedestrian bridge and shelters.

“Then you start seeing wood go back up, you start seeing hand rails, you start seeing stairs,” Caden said.

Caden expected steel work to start going up for the pedestrian bridge during the winter but he thought riders would have to continue using the temporary shelters until the spring. When things are done the biggest difference at Allen Lane will be an obvious one for riders.

“The high level platforms at least are going to be a big change for the people at Allen Lane,” Caden said. “They’ll be able to walk directly onto the train without having to climb up the steps.”

The overall look of the station when it’s done should appear much like before - from far away that is. The structural appearance will be similar but without all the peeling paint and holes in the bridge and shelter roofs.

“Fixed up, cleaned up, prettied up,” Caden summarized.

As for the $3.7 million Queen Lane project several stops to the south on the R8, things are looking even better.

“Queen Lane is going pretty well, we’re significantly ahead of schedule,” Caden said.

The project at Queen Lane is similar in scope to Allen: a total disassembly of inbound and outbound pedestrian structures, plus the pedestrian bridge, off-site reconditioning of all the building materials and a historical reconstruction of the facility with some upgrades. But since Queen Lane already has two “mini-high level” platforms (small train ramps that are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant) there will be no new high level platforms at Queen. But the ground level platforms have been completely re-done.

In addition, workers from Smith Construction, the general contractor for the Queen Lane project, have been pointing the bricks on the main station building and giving it a new paint job. When the Queen Lane Station is completed – Caden expects by May or June – the whole station will have a bright new look and the pedestrian bridge may be the thing that stands out the most.

“The bridge will be in much better condition. New floors, new sides, new roof and everything. But everything will be built to look like the old,” he said.

30 Officers Now Patrolling on Foot in 14th District

Foot patrol Officers Kevin Ward and Sergio Diggs stand near an entrance to Vernon Park as part of their Germantown beat.


Staff Writer

Across parts of Germantown, Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill there is a new look to the 14th Police District - you might call it a retro look.

Teams of fresh-faced, blue-shirted new recruits have started old-fashioned foot patrols in busy neighborhoods all across the district, and they’ve been noticed from north to south. 

Residents, business owners and neighborhood groups from East Mt. Airy to Awbury Park to Central Germantown have praised the new foot patrollers, most calling the added presence a welcome change. And many say the new program, which has been active in the 14th for the last few months, is already having a positive impact on life and business.

Lisa Tang, an employee of Lee’s Steaks and Hoagies at 5708 Germantown Avenue, gave two enthusiastic thumbs up at mention of the new patrols.

“You see less people standing around,” she said. “It’s good for business, good for community. It’s safer than before.”

And in Vernon Park on the 5800 block of the Avenue, where public drinking and drug use is chronic, some say things are getting a bit better.

“We’ve definitely seen some improvement in the park,” said Renee Ginchereau, associate director for the senior activity facility Center in the Park. “I do think there’s been an improvement and the members do feel better.”

The foot patrol program is a creation of Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. And “creation” may be a good term for it, because the new patrols do not represent an overall increase in police numbers, but a re-deployment of the resources already in hand.

According to Inspector Aaron Horne, commanding officer for the Northwest Police Division, overall crime numbers in the city are down over last year by about nine percent but crime is not down everywhere. The new foot patrols are made up of the department’s last two academy classes, who would normally be divided up among the city’s 25 police districts. For this program Ramsey decided to temporarily detail the rookies to districts in need of more attention.

“Commissioner Ramsey identified nine of the busiest districts in the city and unfortunately in the Northwest Police Division we had three, the 39th, the 35th and the 14th,” Horne said.

The mandate was specifically for foot patrols, according to Horne, because that kind of slow-moving, face-to-face presence tends to make an impact.

“What we’ve done,” he explained, “each district captain has had the autonomy to pick out where they feel the beat officers will be the most beneficial.”

For Captain Winton Singletary of the 14th District, that has meant 30 new officers from 8 a.m. to midnight and a chance to lay coverage a little bit thicker across what is geographically one of the largest police districts in the city.

“I think we need personnel here,” Singletary said. And even though he knew some other districts are short too, he hoped that once the temporary beat patrol program ended (possibly as early as January, 2010) a significant portion of the detail assigned to him would stay on permanently.

“If they let me even keep half, that would be good,” he said.

At the moment the foot cops walk beats through parts of Chestnut Hill, in Mt. Airy along Germantown and Chew Avenues, in West Oak Lane in the vicinity of Martin Luther King High School, in Germantown surrounding the busy corners at Chew and Chelten Avenues, Germantown and Chelten Avenues, and the area of Germantown High School along High Street to the Morton Homes.

Officers Sergio Diggs and Kevin Ward walk a beat near Germantown High School and Vernon Park. They say the community support for their presence has been impossible not to notice.

“A lot of people come up to us and tell us they like having us out here,” Diggs said. “They feel a little bit safer.”

Horne said the foot patrol program is meant to be flexible. How long it lasts, or where it goes next would depend on results and resources available to the department. In the 14,th Singletary plans to measure the beat patrols’ success by their overall impact on the areas they cover, he said.

Along those lines, according to Ginchereau, while the troubling activity at Vernon Park certainly hasn’t stopped since the patrols have been around, it has eased up enough to make most of the Center in the Park members more comfortable getting to and from the facility. And since the officers have taken to coming inside Center in the Park and talking with members on a daily basis, she is certain the overall feeling of safety among members and staff has improved quite a bit.

“They love it,” she said.

On Tuesday Oct.20, at about 12:30 p.m., Officers Diggs and Ward passed into Vernon Park on their normal route. Local resident Deborah Hough happened to be passing by as they did. She touched on of them on the arm.

“I’m so glad to see you here,” she said.

Alleged Assault on Wakefield Developer


Staff Writer

The conflict over the proposed relocation of a local alternative to incarceration program for women to an industrial building at 4969 Wakefield Street in lower Germantown escalated beyond zoning debates September 30 when a nearby neighbor who opposed the project allegedly attacked the property owner.

“Obviously I initiated a spark because all he said was, ‘I’ll take care of you,’ and he ran into his house,” building owner Stan Smith said of the incident. “And I see him walking down the street pointing a gun at me. And he shoots. I couldn’t believe it.”

Officially, the fate of the proposed project on Wakefield hangs on a Zoning Board of Adjustment decision postponed a week before the incident, due to the objections of two neighbors on Baynton Street. But Wakefield resident Victor Christmas has been strongly opposed to the project since word of the possible relocation of the New Directions for Women Inc. facility to the site became known.

The now-vacant industrial building sits on a lot behind two homes on Wakefield where Christmas and other members of his family live. The driveway to Smith’s building lay only feet from one of the homes. On the final day of September, Smith arrived at the site to meet members of his construction crew for a delivery, he said, and he spoke to Christmas from the driveway before the crew arrived.

“We had words,” he said of the exchange.

After that Christmas went into his house and a resident at the other Christmas home shouted warnings to Smith, who said that he then hurried back to his car and left.. He drove a half block down the road to the corner of Clapier Street and waited for his employees to arrive.

Smith alleged that was when Christmas emerged from the house with a pistol, and fired. Smith ducked low in the car. What happened next was almost as disturbing, Smith said. Several youth who were in the area physically blocked him from driving away, according to Smith.

“All these kids were banging on my door,” he said. “I’m talking about kids, teenagers. Yelling at me and not letting me go.”

During this time Christmas went back into his home and returned with a baseball bat, Smith alleged. But Smith managed to drive away unharmed.

Police arrested Christmas later the same day and searched his home on a warrant. Christmas is currently being held on $50,000 bond. He faces eight charges including aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and illegal possession of a firearm. (Christmas has at least one prior felony conviction so he is legally barred from owning a gun.)

Smith alleged that he and his business have received threatening phone calls from Christmas before and since the incident. And he believes the reason Christmas opposes the project is because it would bring a higher level of police scrutiny to that area of Wakefield Street.

“We’re always down there anyway,” said Fourteenth Police District Captain Winton Singletary. He characterized the area as having consistent low-level drug and gang-related activities and he said that in his view some members of the Christmas family have been involved with aspects of it over the years. “It ain’t like it’s a secret,” Singletary said. “Everybody knows who the Christmases are.”

In an earlier interview Christmas expressed his opposition to the Wakefield project in terms of safety. Having 25 female offenders so close by would not be good for children and families he said.

Smith said the threats against him have continued since the incident with Christmas. Still, he said, he’s trying to stay focused and he’s determined not to let everything else that’s happened sidetrack him.

“It was overwhelming. As long as I keep it out of my head I’m fine,” he said. “I’m just gonna go to court and do what a citizen is supposed to do… I’m still gonna protect my interests and do what I can do to develop my property - because that’s what I do.”

Annual Bazaar at CHCE

The Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment (CHCE) invites the community to its annual Bazaar on Saturday, Oct. 24, to be held at the center’s new home at 8431 Germantown Avenue. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and do not close until 3 p.m.

This year the Bazaar will feature exquisitely hand-made gift items from the Center’s Creative crafters, as well as used fine and costume jewelry, themed gift baskets, and home-made treats to eat.

Raffle tickets will be on sale for a hand-painted hand-sewn baby quilt ($2 per chance) and for the Meal-a-Month prize – one dozen $25 gift certificates to area restaurants. Chances are $1 each or six for $5. Coffee, tea, and cold drinks will be available.

CHCE is bringing back the “Almost Antiques Roadshow” for a third year.

Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the Bazaar you may bring in up to three of your treasures ($10 each) for appraisal by Chestnut Hill Jeweler Randolph Tartaglia or Anita Heriot, vice president and head of the Appraisal Department at Samuel T. Freeman and Company.

Admission to the Bazaar is free. All proceeds benefit program and services provided by CHCE to those 50-and-better.

For information contact the CHCE at or call 215-248-0180.

Buddhist Teacher at Big Blue Marble

Lama Willa Miller, a meditation teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, will read from her new book Everyday Dharma:Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane, on Sunday, October 25, at 11 a.m.

Lama Willa Miller has studied and practiced meditation for the last twenty years, training with Venerable Kalu Rinpoche, Venerable Dilgo Khentse Rinpoche, Lama Norlha Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche, Bokar Rinpoche, and other teachers. She completed two seminary trainings [three-year retreats] at Kagyu Thubten Choling in upstate New York, becoming authorized as a lama, a Buddhist minister, upon completion of her training. Before and after her retreats, she spent time in Nepal, Tibet, and India, studying Buddhism and engaging in service work. She is also working towards a Ph.D. at Harvard University.

For information on this or any Big Blue Marble Bookstore event, contact Maleka Fruean at or call 215-844-1870.

Tour Stenton on Day Its Owner Died

Something creepy has taken over James Logan’s house Stenton for Halloween … the exact day Logan died in 1757! Join us, if you dare, for a spooky tour exploring the mysteries of the mansion and the Logan family.

Thought the mansion has been empty for many years, on Halloween the old residents like to revisit their beloved Stenton. Ghost tours of Stenton will be held Saturday, October 31, 1-4 p.m. Arrive in costume and the $4 admission fee will be waived.

Stenton is located four blocks east of Wayne Junction at 4601 North 18th street (the corner of Windrim Avenue and North 18th Street.) For more information call 215-329-7312.

Halloween Fun from NW EPIC

The Northwest EPIC Stakeholders Group presents their “Learning Is Fun” Halloween event on October 29, 5-8 p.m., at the Queen Lane Community Center, 301 West Queen Lane. This event is coordinated in efforts to  bringing awareness of truancy in our schools.

Families with children ages 7-16 are invited to attend this fun pre-Halloween event. The “Learning Is Fun” event will have exciting games, free toy and book giveaways, a costume contest, (so wear your costume), raffles and prizes. Participants will be served yummy hot dogs, chips, cupcakes, sodas and “trick or treat” candy. An information table with truancy and parenting resources will be on display and families will be provided with information on how to become a Northwest EPIC Stakeholder member.

This pre-Halloween event is being hosted by the Queen Lane Tenants’ Council, whose number one priority is providing services and supports to community residents. The Northwest EPIC Stakeholders Group is sponsoring the event, and is funded by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services-division of Community-Based Services. For more information about the scheduled pre-Halloween event or the NW EPIC Stakeholder Group, contact Nan Rhone at 215-549-2686. The “Learning Is Fun” event” will be fun for the entire family and we look forward to seeing on October 29.

Workshop on Options for Older Adults

Planning for how and where to live is a serious question for many Northwest Philadelphians 55 and older as they try to plan for their aging years.

The aging process is often described as one of decline. In fact it can be a time of continued growth. People anticipate limits to their physical capacities and want to live in a place where they will be able to function and be safe as much as possible. But where you live is also a function of how you see yourself and what kind of life you want to live.

Resources for Older Adult Living (ROAL) is offering the workshop “How and Where Will I Be When I Grow Up” for people in their 50’s and older. The program will provide a framework for participants to think through what they want, learn some of the community options available, and brainstorm creative options for themselves. We’ll examine questions like: How important is it to remain in your own home or neighborhood? Why? What do you want to do with your time? Do you prefer to live alone? How much regular social contact do you like to have? What is most important to retain in your life? Where are there places to live if you want to move? How will choices made now play out should you become unable to walk alone or homebound?

The workshop will be presented twice: October 31, 9:30 a.m. - noon at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6023 Germantown Avenue; and Nov. 8, 9:30 a.m. - noon at Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street. To register, contact Linda Brunn at 215-843-5600, X 127, or

ROAL is a program funded by Green Tree Community Health Foundation at Neighborhood Interfaith Movement. Workshop leaders are Lynne P. Iser, MPH, and Linda C. Brunn, MSW, both specialists in community living for mature adults.

‘Make a Difference Day’ in Vernon Park

The Vincent M. A. Woodson Foundation will host a “Make a Difference Day” on Saturday, October 24, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., in Vernon Park. Come join us for a day of service for our local veterans. We will be providing a light lunch for Germantown veterans. To volunteer call 215-200-8453. The event is hosted by the Vincent M.A. Woodson foundation and supported by Bereavement Support Group.  For more information call Fay Dawson at 215-200-8453, Tasha Dawson at 609-284-2557, or Robin Robertson at 267-385-5992.

Poet-Ify (Po-et-tif-eye) is “Poetry to Edify”

We have poets,  spoken word artists, lyricists, singers, praise dancers, steppers,  mimes and more,  hosted by Germantown’s own RuNett Nia Ebo, “Poet of Purpose” and author of Lord, Why Did You Make Me Black?

Join in for the last Poet-Ify event for 2009 on Sunday October 25, at Germantown Church of the Brethren Fellowship Hall, 6601 Germantown Avenue from 3:30-7:30 p.m., featuring the musical creativity of the Seven Sharp Band. Sing up yourself for open mic. Listeners are always welcome.

Tickets are $ 8, $10 at the door, $5 for seniors and students under age 12.

Refreshments will be served. Keep it real, make it plain but don’t bring it here if it’s profane – we keep it family-friendly.

For information or tickets call 215-495-8679 or e-mail to

Weavers Way: Buying Local Food is Best

A recent expose in The New York Times focusing attention on the devastating effects of E. Coli and its pervasiveness in our national meat supply has underscored the importance of buying local. National meat distributors combine meat from many different sources, and even different states, in the ground beef that goes into a single hamburger. This not only makes it nearly impossible to trace the source of meat, it also means that tainted meat from one source can be combined in such huge quantities that it can contaminate a massive amount of ground beef or other products, which are then distributed across the country.

“One of the reasons Weavers Way Co-op is committed to buying local is the close relationship we have with our suppliers,” explains Dale Kinley, who manages Weavers Way’s meat department. “Our meat products do not come to us through a massive agro-industrial distribution system. They come from farmers and butchers located right in our area, like Meadow Run Farms in Lititz, PA, and Natural Acres, in Millersburg. We have been to these farms and we know these farmers.”

Philip and Dee Herst Landis, who run Meadow Run Farms, have been farming together for over 10 years. They are very concerned about sustainability and healthy, well cared-for animals. The animals are processed at a small, local slaughterhouse. The same is true with Natural Acres. A 500-acre farm that has been certified organic since 1999, Natural Acres operates its own packing operation right there at their own farm.

“We believe that buying local is important,” says Kinley, “not just so we know where our food is coming from, but so we know where our dollars are going – right back into our own community.”

For information about Weavers Way and the importance of buying and eating locally, visit or e-mail

Michael Vick, Humane Society, Bring Anti-dogfighting Message to GHS


Staff Writer

When the unlikely pair of the Eagles’ Michael Vick and the President of the Humane Society of the United States’ (HSUS), Wayne Pacelle, teamed up to address Germantown High School students about the evils of dog-fighting on October 13, they spoke to a knowing crowd.

Less than two months after a high-profile bust of an alleged Germantown dog-fighting ring, a clear majority in the selected group of students indicated they had personal experience with the illegal spectacle. And, in a way, that was the point of the visit.

“I know dog-fighting is an issue all across the world and I know young kids are involved with it,” Vick spoke quietly to the hundred or so students occupying a section of the school’s auditorium that morning. “I got to keep people like you from ending up in the situation that I ended up in.”

Before his felony conviction, before two years in federal prison, before he was the first-round draft pick and star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Vick was a dog fighter. He grew up with it living in the projects in Newport News, Virginia, he said, and it always had a powerful pull in his life.

Before they started touring together as part of the anti-dog fighting work of HSUS, Wayne Pacelle was the loudest public voice for Vick’s prosecution. So naturally Pacelle doubted Vick’s sincerity when the ex-dogfighter approached him to help. But since then, a whole new weapon against dog fighting has begun to emerge. Not only has the prosecution of animal cruelty cases doubled nationally since Vick’s conviction, but because of Vick’s public standing Pacelle now sees his efforts as “an opportunity to engage young people” with the cautionary tale of his experience.

“Most kids do love animals and it is our hope that with a little bit of guidance that they will make the right choices,” Pacelle said.

It’s not the first time a former dogfighter switched sides. In fact, the HSUS End Dog Fighting Program, which is active in neighborhoods of Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, is all about using former dogfighters to reach out to current fighters and “give them an alternative way to interact with their dogs” through special classes, Pacelle said. And thanks to a $50,000 donation from the Eagles, announced last week, Philadelphia will soon become the fourth city to host that program.

Eagles’ efforts

But Vick did not have to prove himself only to Pacelle. Almost from the moment the Eagles signed him, his new employer wanted to see results too.

When the organization hired him, “there were two things that we would use to determine if we made the right decision,” said Pamela Browner Crawley, Eagles senior vice president of public affairs. “One is how he plays on the field. And the second is the commitment to the work that he does in the city on this issue.”

Prior to hiring Vick, Eagles management was unaware that dog-fighting was even a problem in Philadelphia, Browner Crawley said. Vick’s arrival opened their eyes.

“We were surprised,” she said.

And they were also moved to act. In addition to the donation to HSUS, the Eagles have committed $50,000 to both the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society’s new low cost spay and neuter facility in Gray’s Ferry and to the Humane Society of Berks County’s Petmobile, which will bring veterinary care to low income communities in that region. The team has also pledged an additional $350,000 to area animal welfare issues, Browner Crawley said.

Since coming on board Vick has been visiting schools every week and talking with young people about the importance of making good choices. The decision to visit Germantown High came largely out of encouragement from school Principal Margaret Mullen, and Jerry Mondesire, president of the Philadelphia NAACP, who both indicated to the team that the anti-dog fighting message would find resonance here, Browner Crawley said.

Important choices

Last week Vick spoke to the GHS students about the importance of choice and told of what he experienced as the “contradictory” factors that led him to make bad ones. Following his felony conviction Vick began reading about the social causes of dog fighting, he said, and found disturbing references to psychological disorders among the participants.

“When I read that, the first thing that popped into my mind is ‘crazy people.’ I don’t think I’m crazy,” he said. “I had a mom and a dad who taught me right from wrong and I still went out and did it.”

As upsetting to him was the fact that he never stopped loving animals, he said. But he was somehow able to turn off that part of himself, and even at the height of his success with the Falcons those messages of love and care weren’t the ones getting through.

“At the end of the day I went home to Virginia once a week to fight dogs - that was almost my first priority,” he said. “I thought that I was doing something that was a certain status. I should have known that this was not the right thing to be doing.”

Vick’s main effort was to counsel the high school students about the importance of standing tall with their decisions and being accountable for them too.

“Life is about choices,” he said. “Make your mommy and daddy proud. Trust yourself. Trust yourself.”

Yet while Vick’s message was heartfelt enough to win over former critics like Pacelle, not everyone in the room was quite so satisfied. Fellow football player Michelle Grace, a tailback for the Germantown Bears and a top student at the high school, hoped he would be a bit more clear and connective. While she was grateful he and HSUS chose Germantown, she was sure the specifics of his experiences would mesh with a lot of students in the room if only he had gone into more detail about them – hashed them out more.

“I wish he was more real with us, more raw. Because that’s the kind of place that we live,” she said. “Don’t sugar-coat it. This is Germantown.”

Principal Mullen emphasized that there would be different viewpoints as a result of Vick’s visit and she hoped his meeting with the students would initiate a wave of side conversations that the school could build on with follow-up activities.

“The main thing is to get them critically thinking about what he talked about today,” she said.

Alleged Germantown ring

Still, it doesn’t take much of a leap to understand where Grace’s cynicism and desire for no-nonsense contact on the issue might have come from. A jaunt of about ten blocks south to the 200 block of East Bringhurst Street might do it.

On August 24, police officers from the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PASPCA) raided a home owned by James Hargrove that was allegedly used as a recovery kennel for dogs wounded in fights. In addition to James Hargrove, his nephew Christopher Hargrove was also arrested and both men face animal cruelty and criminal conspiracy charges related to allegedly running a dog-fighting ring.

According to Officer Nicole Wilson of the PASPCA, cruelty prevention investigators knew about this ring since 2007, from tips and the fact that dead dogs were showing up along the tracks of the nearby SEPTA R7 rail line consistently for the last few years. But with only two animal cruelty investigators to cover dog-fighting throughout the entire city, cases take a while to put together, she said. A further complication is the fact that dog-fighting is often associated with other violent illegal activities like weapons and illegal drugs, Panelle said.

And even though some aspects of local dog-fighting are meant to be noticed, especially at the street level, fear and a code of silence make information on the criminal organizations that run the rings difficult to come by, according to Wilson.

“They want people to see it but they don’t want the wrong people to see it,” she said of the street level dog fighters in Germantown. “They want to brag about their dog… With street fighters, the neighborhood knows. And in some senses there are people in the neighborhood that are complicit.”

Among those, to some extent, can be local young people.

“You won’t necessarily see a bunch of kids hanging around a fight,” Wilson said. “But you will see these kids know what’s going on. They know who’s got the top dog because it’s part of the mythology on the street.”

A nationwide problem

Nation-wide HSUS estimates about 100,000 people are directly involved with the criminal act of dog-fighting, and about 40,000 of those represent the central core of the dog-fighting industry. This industry operates as an underground breeding, shipping and training service for fighting dogs, with the majority of the profits associated with expensive stud fees for mating dogs from successful fighting lines, according to John Goodwin, manager of animal fighting issues for HSUS.

Vick’s operation, Bad News Kennels, had aspirations of ascending to the top of the national dog-fighting scene, but according to Goodwin, the operation never met with much success in the recorded fights. But even at the street level, which is what most of the Germantown action tends to be, Wilson indicated aspects of this aspiration through a “warped sense of fondness for a dog that is a winner… because that’s where the money is.”

There was an example during the bust August 24. As PASPCA officers were openly investigating the house on Bringhurst Street, Christopher Hargrove allegedly ordered an 18-year old man who worked for him past the officers and into the house to retrieve one specific dog - to save it.

“It was his best fighter,” Wilson said. Yet that risky act helped facilitate the prosecution of James and Christopher Hargrove, she said.

In addition to educational efforts like the talk with Vick at GHS, HSUS also lobbies for tougher animal cruelty laws and investigates the dog fighting industry from top to bottom. But according to Wilson, Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty laws have not gotten stricter in line with the national trends, and there is no corresponding up-tick in prosecutions on animal cruelty cases in the state. In fact it was only very recently that dog-fighting convictions garnered their first jail sentences in Pennsylvania, she said, so there is no way to tell yet if tougher penalties are a trend or an anomaly.

This seems to echo a point everyone involved with the GHS talk made sure to acknowledge – that ending dog fighting and cracking down on animal cruelty is going to be a long process, even with a star quarterback in the huddle.

“We’re not naïve of the scope of the problem but we’re determined to turn it around,” Pacelle said. “We should be able to eradicate dog fighting in the United States.”

Some See ‘Red’ Over ‘Green’ Building


Editorial Staff Intern

Some residents were seeing red after hearing about the new “green” 62-and- over Independent Living Apartment Building that New Courtland Elder Services is proposing to build adjacent to the Cliveden Convalescent Center, 6400 Greene Street.  About 25 residents attended a near neighbors’ community meeting held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, October 14,  sponsored by West Mt. Airy Neighbors (WMAN) and the Duval Improvement Association.  

Liz Macoretta, a local resident, said she was concerned about increased traffic flow from tenants and their visitors on Johnson and Greene streets on weekends. On Sunday mornings after St. Madeleine Sophie’s church service is finished, she said, there are already many children and cars at Greene and Upsal streets.

Several other residents said they were worried about parking issues, litter, crime, and maintaining the ascetic beauty of the neighborhood.

But, said John Hayes, FAIA principal of Blackney Hayes Architects, design efforts for the proposed building were aimed at creating a structure that would have  the “least visual impact” on the community and the environment, not a “a fortress-like building.”

While the site plans for the five-story building are a work in progress, it includes several “green” or environmentally friendly features.  Hayes said it would have a green roof, panelization of exterior walls to reduce construction waste and increase insulation, all Energy Star appliances, and carpet manufactured from at least 25 percent recycled materials.

The facility would contain a courtyard and computer cafe on the ground floor, he said. Max Kent, senior project manager for New Courtland, said he was willing to bring in a landscape architect to work with the community to “help create a buffer zone” and “save all the mature trees” in that area.

In a later interview, Kent said that the rents would range from $290 to $689, with more than half of the apartments renting for $625 with utilities included.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency has awarded $700,000 in low-income housing tax credits to the project said Kent.  The project will also receive approximately $4.2 million of Federal Tax Credit Assistance Program funding, part of the stimulus funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

New Courtland Elder Services will meet with the WMAN Zoning Committee on Wednesday, November 4, at 7:30 p.m. at Summit Presbyterian Church, 6757 Greene Street, to seek its approval to submit the application to the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.

For more information call WMAN at 215-438-6022.

Ghost of the Great Road: Do Bloodstains Mark Spot of a Ghostly Presence?

Christopher Scott (left) and Destiny Mayes, students who run the Grumblethorpe Food Stand, point to the bloodstain in the parlor.


Guest Writer

Diana Thompson, education director at Grumblethorpe, did not believe in ghosts or haunted houses before working at the historic site. After spending several years on the job, however, she has changed her mind about the afterlife.

“Me and the ghosts of Grumblethorpe have a cordial relationship,” states Thompson, “and I completely believe that the house is haunted.”

Grumblethorpe is a historic site constructed in 1744 by the Wister family at 5267 Germantown Avenue. The home was built by prominent merchant and wine importer John Wister to serve as a summer residence for his family. While the Wister family lived in the house up until the 1950s some now believe that they were not the only occupants of the building.

In 1793 John Wister moved his family up to the Germantown residence to escape the yellow fever epidemic in downtown Philadelphia. Wister’s trusted servant Justinia was left downtown to handle family affairs. One night when Justinia was supposed to be downtown, three children living in Grumblethorpe awoke to the site of Justinia standing in their bedroom.

“When the children told the parents about Justinia,” explains Thomspon, “the parents were confused and told the kids that the servant was still downtown.” As it turns out, Justinia had died that very night as a result of the yellow fever, which may explain the sighting of her spirit at Grumblethorpe.

Only a few months ago, caretakers say, they saw a misty-white woman dressed in colonial garb walking in the garden. Justinia was known to have loved the garden and spent much of her time as a servant cultivating produce for the Wisters. Today, a group of Philadelphia Public School Students grows vegetables in the garden, but none claim to have ever worn the colonial clothing mentioned by the caretakers.

For Grumblethorpe’s staff, encounters with mysterious spirits do not end with a reappearing servant. On the morning of October 4, 1777, a skirmish erupted between British General James Agnew’s forces and the Continental Army near Germantown Avenue and Washington Lane during the Battle of Germantown. In the fight, Agnew was wounded in his hand, back, and side and taken to Grumblethorpe before taking his last breaths.

A wounded Agnew was brought in through the front door and laid out on the parlor room floor. He would die in the room moments later, leaving a large bloody stain on the floor which can still be seen by visitors today. Although his body was laid to rest in the Lower Burying Ground, some believe the spirit of Agnew still haunts Grumblethorpe to this day.

Diana Thompson remembers the day when her son first saw a shadow in the parlor. “It was April 25, he was in the kitchen, and said he saw a quickly moving black shadow in the parlor,” said Thompson. Only a few weeks later, Thompson herself was in the kitchen and saw what she believed to be a “black shapeless void” moving about in the parlor. Schoolchildren visiting the site have also confirmed this sighting.

Sarah Thompson, Diana’s daughter, has also had her own experiences in “John Wister’s Big House.” One day while she was helping out with tours, Sarah wandered up to the third floor where visitors are not allowed. Although she claims to have never seen anything, Sarah is certain that she was not alone. “It felt as if somebody was standing there with me,” said Sarah, who has now experienced the feeling on multiple occasions.

Grumblethorpe has plenty of other good ghost stories that are awaiting curious visitors but many aren’t shared unless a question is asked on a tour. To learn more for yourself, tours can be arranged by calling 215-843-4820.

The Grumblethorpe foodstand, a student-run market that sells produce from the garden where Justinia has been reported sighted, is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until November 7. Next time you’re near Grumblethorpe, drop in for a visit - you just never know what you might encounter at “John Wister’s Big House”!

‘Spooky Stories’ and More at Stagecrafters Halloween Show

On Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, the Stagecrafters theater will present its seventh annual “Halloween Spooky Stories,” dramatic readings of hair-raising tales, classic and contemporary, rendered by some of the theater’s most talented actors. Each performance’s activities will also include a spooky magic show by magician extraordinaire Jeff Ragan, and costume contests for children and adults, with prizes for the best. For all in attendance costumes are encouraged but not required.

Jane Toczek, the driving force behind this event, says that she is delighted that the Stagecrafters has been able to bring this show to the community for seven seasons going, crediting the many dedicated volunteers who have given of their time and energy over the years.

She adds, “The Halloween readings have become a highly-anticipated autumn tradition at our theater. This year’s program features several new stories and readers, plus, I am delighted to report, a return visit by the marvelous Doctor Magic, our prodigious prestidigitator! Plenty of mysterious and magical stuff for kids of all ages!”

Attendees may choose from three performances: Friday at 7 p.m. or Saturday at 2 or 7 p.m. The Saturday matinee is more suited for ages 3-to-6; the two evening shows for ages 6-to-12. Each will last approximately 90 minutes. A highlight event will be the costume contest, and every kid will receive a bag of Halloween treats. Admission to each is free to children 12 and under, and only $5 for an adult. Please remember, all children must be accompanied by an adult.

Reservations are suggested, but not required. The Stagecrafters theater is located at 8130 Germantown Avenue. For more information call the theater at 215-247-8881 or visit

Annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade

The annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade will take place on Hallowe’en, Saturday, October 31. Paraders (children and parents) in costume should gather at the Henry School playground by 6:30 p.m. The parade will proceed up Greene Street to Sedgwick Street, west on the 600-700 blocks of Sedgwick, south on the 6900 block of Henley Street, east on the 600-700 blocks of Carpenter Lane, then back to schoolyard. The parade will be accompanied by music and police escort; it will last about an hour. The parade is free, courtesy of West Mt. Airy Neighbors. For more information call Glen Omans at 215-848-8472.

Legendary Mose Allison Coming to Northwest

Mose Allison, accompanied by jazz musicians Jim Dragoni and Dylan Taylor, will make a rare Pennsylvania appearance on November 6 and 7 at Roller’s Flying Fish, 8142 Germantown Avenue.

Mose Allison has been a huge influence on American music as a jazz pianist and song writer for decades.  He continues to write and perform all over the world.  His songs have been covered by Van Morrison, John Mayall, The Who, The Clash, Eric Clapton, the Yardbirds, Elvis Costello and Bonnie Raitt to name a few.  Van Morrison recorded a tribute album, Tell Me Something, The Songs of Mose Allison, on Verve Records, and rockers like Pete Townshend, Bonnie Raitt, Ray Davies and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones have frequently cited Mose Allison as a major influence. 

During a recent London engagement, Time Out, the major entertainment weekly, praised Mose: “Mose  Allison has an inventive and lively piano style filled with surprises as he puts it ‘mixes up the boogie with the do-si-do’.”

Allison’s popularity in the UK dates from the ‘60s, when his mixture of Delta-born blues feel and his gift for writing a song with a sting in the tail made him a prime source of inspiration for the UK’s new generation of blues/rock artists.  Not just name-checked but lionized by the likes of Pete Townshend, Jack Bruce, Brian Auger and Georgie Fame, he became British rock’s most popular jazz musician.  His piano style is notable for its strange mixture of classical-influenced sophistication and blues-based intimacy, and there’s still none like him with a lyric.

Tickets are only available online at

WNC Seeks Members for Neighborhood Advisory Committee

Wister Neighborhood Council has been directly involved in the social and economic revitalization of the community for more than 30 years.

WNC/NAC has been providing advocacy and referral services and helping to organize people in the area for many years. Looking to the future, we are committed to staying relevant by continuing to reach out and help out.

The WNC/NAC Board of Directors is actively seeking to increase its membership. Our NAC service area has expanded to include; Johnson St and Germantown Avenue to Gorgas Lane to Chew Avenue and down to Johnson Street in 19119 zip code, and Chew Avenue andWashington Lane to Stenton Avenue to Wister Street, and down to Chew Avenue in 19138 zip code.

WNC is seeking to expand our board with members who have a stake in maintaining the wealth of diversity and spirit of the community. Members of the board are voted in by the community. Eligibility to serve on the board only requires that a member live or own a business within its service area and that the member attends at least five of its meetings held within each contract year.

As a stakeholder in the community WNC invites residents to represent their community by serving on our Board of Directors. It is important that residents, youth, and senior citizens have representation on the board as WNC begins its next 30 years with renewed hope of what it can accomplish. They are hopeful that people will consider board membership with us.

Pick up a application and get more information at the next General Membership/Housing Land Use Meeting on Thursday, October 29, 6:30 p.m. at Wister Townhouse Community Center, 285 East Ashmead Street. For more information, contact Wister NAC at 215-843-6565

Workshop on Options for Older Adults

Planning for how and where to live is a serious question for many Northwest Philadelphians 55 and older as they try to plan for their aging years.

The aging process is often described as one of decline. In fact it can be a time of continued growth. People anticipate limits to their physical capacities and want to live in a place where they will be able to function and be safe as much as possible. But where you live is also a function of how you see yourself and what kind of life you want to live.

Resources for Older Adult Living (ROAL) is offering the workshop “How and Where Will I Be When I Grow Up” for people in their 50’s and older. The program will provide a framework for participants to think through what they want, learn some of the community options available, and brainstorm creative options for themselves. We’ll examine questions like: How important is it to remain in your own home or neighborhood? Why? What do you want to do with your time? Do you prefer to live alone? How much regular social contact do you like to have? What is most important to retain in your life? Where are there places to live if you want to move? How will choices made now play out should you become unable to walk alone or homebound?

The workshop will be presented twice: October 31, 9:30 a.m. - noon at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6023 Germantown Avenue; and Nov. 8, 9:30 a.m. - noon at Germantown Jewish Center, 400 West Ellet Street. To register, contact Linda Brunn at 215-843-5600, X 127, or

ROAL is a program funded by Green Tree Community Health Foundation at Neighborhood Interfaith Movement. Workshop leaders are Lynne P. Iser, MPH, and Linda C. Brunn, MSW, both specialists in community living for mature adults.

Annual Bazaar at CHCE

The Chestnut Hill Center for Enrichment (CHCE) invites the community to its annual Bazaar on Saturday, October 24, to be held at the center’s new home at 8431 Germantown Avenue. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and do not close until 3 p.m.

This year the Bazaar will feature exquisitely hand-made gift items from the Center’s Creative crafters, as well as used fine and costume jewelry, themed gift baskets, and home-made treats to eat. Raffle tickets will be on sale for a hand-painted hand-sewn baby quilt ($2 per chance) and for the Meal-a-Month prize – one dozen $25 gift certificates to area restaurants. Chances are $1 each or six for $5. Coffee, tea, and cold drinks will be available.

CHCE is bringing back the “Almost Antiques Roadshow” for a third year. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. during the Bazaar you may bring in up to three of your treasures ($10 each) for appraisal by Chestnut Hill Jeweler Randolph Tartaglia or Anita Heriot, vice president and head of the Appraisal Department at Samuel T. Freeman and Company.

Admission to the Bazaar is free. All proceeds benefit program and services provided by CHCE to those 50-and-better.

For information contact the CHCE at or call 215-248-0180.

Drama Group Play on Mysteries of Memory

The Drama Group’s production of “A Body of Water” by Lee Blessing opens on Friday, November 6 and plays Friday and Saturday evenings through November 21 at 8 p.m. in Pilling Hall at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown Avenue.

“A Body of Water” is a fascinating play about memories or, more specifically, the lack of memories. What would it be like to have no memories? What would you do if you woke up with no memory of the day before?

That is the dilemma facing two of the characters in “A Body of Water.” They wake up together in a very nice house that seems to be surrounded by some body of water, with no knowledge of who or where they are. This happens every morning. But of course, they never remember the morning before.

What would it be like to be living with two people who had no memories? How would you deal with the chore of telling them the stories of their lives day after day after day? Would you tell them the truth? How would they know it was the truth?

That is the dilemma facing one of the characters in “A Body of Water.” She’s there to provide answers but she only seems to raise more questions. So, what is really real? The Drama Group invites you to decide for yourself.

The cast of includes Jennifer Beatty, Carole Mancini and Marty Sherman. Shelli Pentimall is directing, assisted by T. Patrick Ryan.

Tickets are $14 and can be purchased at the door. On opening night, November 6, every ticket purchased will admit two people. A post-show discussion will be held following the performance on Friday, November 13. For information about “A Body of Water” or the Drama Group, visit or call 215-844-0724.

High Point Café Celebrates

High Point Cafe, located at the Allen’s Lane train station, is celebrating its first year in its second Mt. Airy location with a weekend of fun fall events.

On Saturday, October 24, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch Neighborhood Yard Sale returns with one of the largest neighborhood yard sales in Mt. Airy. Neighbors will bring an array of items to sell including children’s clothes and toys, books, house wares, clothing and much more. This year a new fun feature has been added to the day’s activities. The Philly Garden Swap is a program that encourages the free exchange of garden plants, flowers, trees and shrubs. On the day of the yard sale, neighbors are encouraged to bring a plant or take a plant and share each others’ gardens.

On Sunday, October 25, High Point Cafe offers up BBQ from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. with live music throughout the day. High Point Cafe owner Meg Hagele said, “Our first year at the Allen’s Lane Train Station has been a great success and the community has welcomed us so warmly. We’re showing our appreciation in true High Point style with a BBQ and live music.” Meg continued, “I hope everyone will come and help us celebrate this great occasion. It will be an entire weekend of great fun!”

High Point Cafe also has a location at 602 Carpenter Lane. The cafe first opened in 2005 and was so successful, a second location opened at the Allens Lane Train Station a year ago. High Point Cafe serves fresh, hand-crafted baked goods and fresh-brewed coffees and teas.

Help Clean Pergolas, Gateway to Northwest

Undoubtedly you’ve driven by the two stone piers and their associated walls framing the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street. But did you know that these piers once served as the bases for pergolas, a gift which philanthropist and Wyndmoor resident Edward T. Stotesbury gave to the people of Philadelphia/Fairmount Park in 1900?

Were you aware that the gate on the west side of Lincoln Drive doubles as an entrance into Fairmount Park? Although the pergolas have been gone since the mid-20th century, they have not been forgotten.

A growing group of neighbors and neighborhood organizations, including the Germantown Historical Society, West Mount Airy Neighbors (WMAN) Streetscapes Committee, Johnson Street Neighbors,, Friends of the Wissahickon, and Friends of Clifford Park has begun planning the restoration of the pergolas in conjunction with improvements to the surrounding Fairmount Park landscape. Invaluable support and assistance will be provided by Fairmount Park Commission staff.

Join them as they kick off these efforts at a clean up on Saturday, Oct. 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On-site, we will remove invasive plants and vines, pick up trash and clear pathways. Together, we can help improve this historic gateway to Mt. Airy and put it on the map.

For more information or to volunteer, please contact Doris Kessler at 215-242-0651, e-mail; Pat Moran at 215-370-5417, e-mail; or WMAN at 215-438-6022, e-mail

Volunteers will meet at the intersection of Lincoln Drive and Johnson Street.

Tools and equipment will be available, but please bring your own work gloves and pruning shears, if possible. Dress: long sleeves, long pants and sturdy shoes.

Refreshments will be served and Halloween costumes are absolutely encouraged.  

Sale Benefits Community Groups

The weather has been vacillating between “rain” and “showers”.  What to do?  Wet weekend weather provides the perfect impetus to clean out your attics, basements, and closets.  Sell your no-longer-needed items at the Community Yard Sale on Saturday, Oct.24 (rain date, Saturday, Oct. 31) from 8 a.m.-noon at Cliveden Convalescent Center, 6400 Greene Street (back parking lot along Johnson Street).  Spaces are $15 each. Visit for a space reservation form.  Please fill it out and mail it, along with a check for $15, to West Mt. Airy Neighbors.  BYOT and C (bring your own table and chairs).

If you can’t make the Yard Sale, we’d be happy to pick up your gently used items and sell them.  Proceeds will benefit either the Duval Improvement Association, West Central Germantown Neighbors or West Mt. Airy Neighbors – your choice. We also invite you to come to the Yard Sale and peruse the items for sale.  You never know what treasures you’ll find. For more information or to schedule a pick-up, call West Mt. Airy Neighbors at 215-438-6022 or email

Give Your Views on Parks

Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardinis wants to exchange ideas for merging the Parks and Recreation Department. Whether you are a parent, Kelly Drive runner, hiker, basketball player, sports enthusiast, coach, young athlete, community leader, performing arts participant or someone who enjoys sitting in the park – we want to hear from you.  A series of eight community meetings is being held on the subject. In the Northwest, the meeting will be Thursday, October 22 at 7 p.m. at Simons Recreation Center, 7200 Woolston Street. For questions, e-mail to

(Left) More than 200 congregants filled the halls of The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown on Saturday, October 17, as the church celebrated its founding 200 years ago that day. The program included dinner and the presentation of a short film on the church’s past and present, plus several members who dressed as church members of bye-gone eras, such as (at right) Lois Vaneerden and Elizabeth Young. They portrayed two of the founding members in 1809 – who suspected that the men of the congregation would try to claim all the credit for the new church. 

Church Finances Newspapers

When two weekly newspapers in Germantown and  Mt. Airy closed early this year, a Philadelphia church active in the community for 200 years provided financing that enabled a new publisher to bring similar newspapers to life.

In an era of failing newspapers, the resurrection of two papers in the Northwest was an unusual event.  For a church to make it happen was even more unusual, but The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown considered the investment to be part of its social mission.

The church last spring made a $100,000 loan that resulted in the birth of two weekly newspapers, the Germantown Chronicle and the Mt. Airy Independent. 

“Our church is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year,” says Dr. Nancy E. Muth, the church’s minister.  “That is how long we have been part of this community. When Mt. Airy and Germantown lost their weekly newspapers, we lost a vital means of sharing stories and announcements in the neighborhoods around our church.  Businesses were not able to advertise.  People no longer had a way to learn about housing and job opportunities.  We are an urban church that is committed to serving the people in the community.  Within the church, we felt a responsibility to the community to help revive these papers.”

The former Germantown Courier and Mt. Airy Times ceased publication in February when their owner, the Journal Register Co., filed for bankruptcy.

Soon afterward Mt. Airy businessman Jim Foster set out to launch two similar weekly newspapers under the names Germantown Chronicle and Mt. Airy Independent.  He sought financial backing from The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown, at 35 West Chelten Avenue in the heart of the Germantown business district.  “I knew no bank would finance this,” said Foster.  “I ruled out seeking public money in any form because that would involve politicians.  I also ruled out private developers in Northwest Philadelphia as investors.”

Foster said he knew that The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown was committed to community outreach, so he approached Muth and other church leaders with a request for financial support.

Muth says the church made the loan based on projections that Foster’s proposed newspapers were expected to be profitable and the loan would be repaid.  She says the church did not want to have − and does not have − any involvement in the editorial content of the papers.  “Our vision is for these new papers to present fair and unbiased news and to restore the voice of the communities they represent,” she says.

The Germantown Chronicle and Mt. Airy Independent were first published on April 30. They are circulated for free to 36,000 homes and businesses in the Germantown and Mt. Airy communities.

The newspapers are operated by a for-profit enterprise called Germantown Newspapers, 5275 Germantown Avenue.  With regard to the church, Foster said he found it “remarkable” that the church had been willing to make the loan.  “I find this church’s philosophy is a committed one,” he said.

“The fact that we have been able to help return two weekly newspapers to our community is another way we are celebrating our bicentennial year,” comments Muth.  “We are happy to have done it.  We believe it is very much in keeping with our role and our mission.”

St. Michael’s Reschedules Emlen Book Drive

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6671 Germantown Avenue, will hold its annual Flea Market and Children’s Book Drive on Saturday, October 24,  noon–4 p.m., to benefit the Eleanor C. Emlen Elementary School.  The church will hold the event indoors if it rains as predicted for the third week in a row. Community members can participate by renting space ($15 per space), donating children’s books (new or gently used), donating items for sale and coming out for a day of shopping, food and activities for children.

This event is a part of an ongoing partnership between the school and the church in an effort to gather community support for the school’s success.  The project has received a matching grant of $800 from Communities that Care Funds of the Philadelphia Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans so come out and help us reach our goal! For information call Kathryn Mariani at 215-380-0842.

Deaf/Hearing Anti-Violence Night

On Friday, Oct. 23, 4:30-9 p.m., Germantown Deaf Ministries and others will sponsor a Deaf/Hearing Anti-violence Fun and Games Night at Germantown Friends Meeting House, 31 West Coulter Street. On the schedule will be fun and games from 4:30-7 p.m., dinner at 7:15 p.m. and a sing/sign concert from 8-9 p.m. There will be sudoku, UNO, bowling, healthy snacks, crafts and more. We need help with security, donations, shoppers, mailers, runners, game leaders and food. Church help is welcome. To volunteer call Roz McKelvey at 215-275-6853 or e-mail to

Celebration at Mt. Zion

The DMJ Meditation Choir of Mount Zion Baptist Church of Germantown will be celebrating its 31st Anniversary in worship and praise. The theme for this year’s Worship Celebration is “We’re Still Standing: 31 Years of Service In The Lord.“ Come for an afternoon of singing, praising and rejoicing in honor of our Lord. The free worship service will be Sunday, October 25  at 4 p.m. at the church, 41 West Rittenhouse Street.  For more Information call the church office at 215-844-7614 or visit

Elder Dinner at Berachah

There will be an Elder Diner event Thursday, October 29 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at  Berachah Baptist Church, 6327 Limekiln Pike. Linda Brunn of the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement will bring insightful information on depression. For more information call Dolores Shine at 215-438-3247.

Back to the Germantown Newspapers Home Page