From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

February 3, 2011 • MAI.020311.pdf

In This Issue

  1. Bond Sale for Wayne Junction

  2. Many Mentioned as Possible Candidates in 8th



The field of possible candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Councilmanic District grew by one and shrank by one on Tuesday, February 1 as Derek Green announced that he would not run and John Churchville announced that he would. It then grew again by one the next day when Anita Hamilton, former Democratic committeeperson and community activist in Germantown, registered as a candidate at the Board of Elections.

  1. NW Student Tackles Death Valley — And Beats It


Guest Writer

Being a teenager these days is a fulltime job. Consider Johnny Hass’s fall semester. He’s a junior at Chestnut Hill Academy, which means, in Johnny’s case, pre-Calculus, physics and, for English, reading “The Things They Carried,” about the horrors of the Vietnam war. There’s his ongoing SAT prep class and his new driver’s license that must be broken in. He ran on CHA’s cross-country team and in October and November.


Slip Slidin’ Away

Last week’s snowfall brought joy to the Northwest’s kids who took advantage of a heavy blanket of the white stuff to enjoy zooming down Tommy’s Hill behind the Thomas Mansion in Fairmount Park. But it was a nightmare for just about everyone else.

Bond Sale to Finance Wayne Junction Rebuilding



In actions taken within the last two weeks the board of SEPTA has approved borrowing up to $425 million for an assortment of projects, including 120 new rail cars and an electronic fare system, which is not forecast to replace the system’s current tokens and Transpasses any time soon. Most importantly for Northwest residents, that money will include $23 million for the rebuilding of run-down Wayne Junction, the most important station in the Northwest and one of the most if not the most  dilapidated in the entire rail system.

Wayne Junction’s reconstruction had been put on hold since the failure of Act 44 to pass in Harrisburg in 2009. That proposal would have turned I-80 into a toll highway and more than $20 million of the money that it would have raised in revenue would have been used for the Wayne Junction project.

$4 million in a Federal Transportation Authority grant had already been earmarked for the project. That money, which would  have had to be returned  if the Wayne Junction project had likewise fallen through,  played a part in SEPTA’s decision to sell more than $400 million in bonds to finance its projects.

Francis Kelly, SEPTA’s Assistant General Manager of Government and Public Affairs, had said, “The funding already allocated for it is  small  but we don’t want to miss taking advantage of those funds. It affects more than just this station but also the investment in the community with other grants."

In an interview prior to the announcement of the borrowing,  Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA’s chief engineer, “We’re taking an unusual step to get the project going,” referring to the proposed bond sale.

SEPTA’s board approved the borrowing at its meeting on January 27, It hopes to have the money within four months, according to assistant treasurer Tom McFadden.

The biggest chunk of the money to be raised, more than $200 million, will go towards 120 new Silverliner V railcars, spare parts, and training.

$175 million will go toward a new electronic fare system, with installation of the system expected to begin by spring. It will not go on line, however, any time soon. 

The new borrowing will bring SEPTA’s total indebtedness to $565 million. It currently spends about $36 million annually on debt service.

Many Mentioned as Possible Candidates in 8th



The field of possible candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Councilmanic District grew by one and shrank by one on Tuesday, February 1 as Derek Green announced that he would not run and John Churchville announced that he would. It then grew again by one the next day when Anita Hamilton, former Democratic committeeperson and community activist in Germantown, registered as a candidate at the Board of Elections.

Churchville is the acting CEO of the Greater Germantown Business Association and CEO of the Germantown-based Liberation Fellowship CDC, which specializes in HIV outreach, education and testing. He is co-chair of the comprehensive planning committee of the Ryan White Planning Council. He is also a co-chair of  a committee which is planning the upcoming 2011 Brownfields Conference that will be held this year in Philadelphia and is very interested in environmental issues and how they impact Northwest Philadelphia.

When asked what his reason for running was, Churchville replied, “I have a vision for the 8th that is that we can do some tremendous things to prepare a sustainable future for our kids.”

Churchville has never run for office before but said, “I’m in it to win it.”

Hamilton gave as her reason for running by saying, ”We need a voice in City Council for the entire 8th Council District.” Her tag line for her campaign, she said, was “Things won’t get any better if we just let it be.”

“That’s why I’m in it,” she said.

She is a long-time resident of Germantown and has been the president of Wister Neighborhood Council for three years and a long-time board member there.  “I’ve always been a community activist for children and families. I’ve always been a volunteer for many aspects in this city and Germantown. That’s what I’ve done for most of my life.”

She added, “I’m well aware of city systems and services. I just need to ramp it up a notch so that I can make a greater impact.”

Green, who is a staffer to Councilwoman Marian Tasco and a former president of East Mt. Airy Neighbors, said in an e-mailed announcement on February 2 that he would not be a candidate. He said, “I would like to thank the numerous voters, donors and elected oficials that have urged me to run for the 8th District City council seat … After much discussion and deliberation I have decided not to run for public office at this time.”

Already announced candidates to fill the seat currently held by retiring Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller include Cindy Bass, staffer to Congressman Chaka Fattah, who had run for the nomination in 2007, finishing second to  Miller; Germantown community activist and former 12th Ward Democratic Leader Greg Paulmier, who was a candidate in 1999, 2003 and 2007; Andrew Lofton, a Mt. Airy resident who will be making his first try for office; and Verna Tyner, former staffer to Councilmen-at-large Bill Greenlee and Dave Cohen. Tyner has been endorsed by the 12th Ward Democratic  Committee.

Tyner and Lofton could not be reached for comment.

Paulmier said in a brief phone interview that the main issue of his campaign would be “For the voters to have contact with me and be a part of the plan that then is implemented to bring better city services to the community. We want to be creating employment opportunities, a healthier environment for the business community, and better schools, and rec centers.”

Paulmier also wants to have a district council office in Germantown Town Hall, which he acknowledges would be difficult to pull off, given the state of the dilapidated building. But, he said, “I’ve been renovating buildings for 32 years, so at least I can say it’s something I have done.”

When asked what issue she would be stressing most in her campaign Bass said, “There are three issues that I’m working on: economic development, crime, and education. It’s hard to single out any one because in the approach of our campaign they’re interrelated.”

She said, “We’re excited about the race and winning the voters’ confidence. We never stopped campaigning since 2007 and we plan on building on the support last time… so that when we go downtown to City Hall we’re able to work on issues most important to the voters.”

Other individuals who have been mentioned as interested in running include Legal Services lawyer Irv Ackelsberg, who ran in 2007 and finished third; and Latrice Bryant, a staffer to Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.; and Donna Gentile O’Donnell, who is the wife of former Speaker of the House Bob O’Donnell and a former candidate for an at-large council seat in 1999.

O’Donnell said that she was seriously considering a run for the 8th District seat, and much would depend on her fundraising efforts in the next two weeks. She said, “Part of the process I’m going through is that I don’t make the mistakes that I made the first time, which was not raising enough money early enough in the campaign, so that I will not be distracted by the demands of fundraising.” She ran for an at-large Council seat in 1999, finishing sixth in a field of 33.

O’Donnell has spent much of her time as a policy analyst and consultant and worked for many years at the Eastern Technology Council, where she worked for Rob McCord, now state treasurer. She served for seven years as the city’s deputy health commissioner in the Rendell administration.

She said, “I’ve got two weeks to decide and I’m spending all of my time dialing for dollars. I hope to feel confident that I can raise the funds to run the kind of campaign I want to.”

When contacted, Bryant, a Germantown resident and  Democratic committeeperson, said that she was not prepared to make any announcement at this time regarding a possible candidacy. “All I can say right now is that I’m currently employed by the city of Philadelphia … at this time I cannot give a definite answer because I would have to leave my post as chief legislative aide to Councilman Goode,”  she said.

NW Student Tackles Death Valley — And Beats It

Left: Johnny Hass makes his way through the tough up-hill first stretch of the marathon.

Right: after the race Johnny and his father Jay Hass display the medals they earned for participation in the race.


Guest Writer


Being a teenager these days is a fulltime job. Consider Johnny Hass’s fall semester. He’s a junior at Chestnut Hill Academy, which means, in Johnny’s case, pre-Calculus, physics and, for English, reading “The Things They Carried,” about the horrors of the Vietnam war. There’s his ongoing SAT prep class and his new driver’s license that must be broken in. He ran on CHA’s cross-country team and in October and November there were nightly rehearsals for the CHASS Players fall musical, “Brigadoon.” The Phillies and Eagles and Flyers all required attention, too.

And with all that going on, Johnny’s father - Jay Hass of Chestnut Hill, a human perpetual motion machine - threw down the gauntlet. He urged his son to run the Death Valley Trail Marathon with him. If they both did it, it would be the father’s 21st marathon, and the son’s first.

I believe Johnny’s response was, “I’m sorry, dad, but I’ll be busy watching SportsCenter that day.”

Actually, I don’t know exactly how Johnny responded. But inasmuch that the Death Valley marathon goes up an Eastern California mountain for its first 13 miles and then down a dusty, rocky road for its second half, I would have endorsed any move to get my godson out of the thing.

But Johnny decided he’d give it a shot. His father ran his first marathon at age 17. If Johnny could complete Death Valley, held on the first Saturday in December, he’d do it at age 16. Johnny liked that idea. Father and son started going on long weekend runs together, in and out of Fairmount Park and up and down our local hills.

Training was going OK. Sometimes father and son ran together. Sometimes Johnny pulled ahead and ran on his own. Maybe you remember what it’s like to be 16. One minute you want your father on the next flight to Pluto. The next you want him to double-knot the laces on your skates.

Then, midway through training, Johnny came up with an inspired idea. He would turn his first marathon attempt into a fundraiser. He wrote letters to relatives and family friends asking them to pledge money to a summer program called Wilderness Ventures, if he completed Death Valley. The pace, length and mood of the training runs picked up.

On different trips with Wilderness Ventures, Johnny has helped build an irrigation system on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, hiked canyons in Utah and done Grade 3 whitewater rafting in Oregon. They’ve been among the most enriching experiences of his young life. Johnny’s Death Valley fundraising money would go toward Wilderness Ventures scholarships.

Early in the morning on December 4, Johnny found himself in Beatty, Nevada, on the edge of Death Valley National Park, surrounded by maybe 250 other runners. The race director honored his youngest runner by asking him to lead a group singing of “America the Beautiful.” If you attended the CHA-Springside production of “The Sound of Music” a couple years ago, you may know that Johnny — like his mother, Ellen — has a fine singing voice. But that doesn’t mean he was ready to hit the High C of “fruited plain” on a morning when he could see his breath.

The long uphill stretch, reaching an altitude of 5,250 feet, went well. Johnny loves wilderness settings and he found the beauty of the canyon run exhilarating. For some of it he ran with his father and for much of it he did not. The second half, the long downhill run, he found far more difficult.

“At mile 17, I really wanted to stop but I didn’t,” Johnny told me the other day. We were having breakfast at Cake during his winter break, on the day after his 17th birthday. He was plowing through his French toast. (Next time, it’ll be crepes at the High Point on Carpenter near Greene, down the street from my house.)

“At mile 24, my whole body was cramping up,” Johnny said. “I was feeling light-headed. I didn’t think I could make it.” His hips hurt, his shoulders hurt, his legs hurt. He father, now running with him, offered encouragement. Another runner from Philadelphia, Rob Mahon, a trainer running Death Valley for the first time, urged Johnny to keep going, too. They could see the finish line. “If I was by myself I would have stopped,” Johnny said.

Johnny got a second wind, ran the final half-mile in well under four minutes and completed the whole thing in 4 hours, 34 minutes. It’s some accomplishment, to finish a marathon, and a great feeling.

Over breakfast, Johnny told me about how his sister Charlotte, two years older, had signed him up for “The Sound of Music” auditions without him knowing about it. His first impulse was to wriggle out of it. But he stayed with it, and loved being part of the show.

He told me about 16-day Wilderness Ventures trip through Oregon in which some of the hikers were not happy with their tent assignments. Johnny had a solution. He encouraged everybody “to sleep out under the stars,” as he wanted to do. And they did, for 15 consecutive nights.

He told me about his brother Robert’s aversion to roller-coasters, which is interesting because Robert has an uncommon hobby for a 13-year-old, designing roller-coaster runs. On a trip to Hershey Park in the summer of 2009, Johnny got Robert on the fearsome Storm Runner, with its 150-foot vertical drop. The experience only improved Robert’s designs.

Johnny enjoys getting “people out of their shells,” he told me. Like father, like son.

Let’s not go crazy here. “If the choice is watching SportsCenter or going for a run, I’d rather watch SportsCenter,” Johnny said. Still, he’s glad he did Death Valley.

The experience of his first marathon will never really be over. Through Johnny’s fundraising, five kids will be able to join Wilderness Ventures this summer who otherwise might not have been able to go. Some day, on a playing field or in a classroom or on a job, Johnny may find that he can dig deeper, as he did at Mile 24 in Death Valley, and do something he didn’t think he had in him.

Johnny’s already talking about returning to Death Valley for this year’s race, and recruiting some cross-country teammates to come with him.

In the meantime, there’s the CHA winter conditioning program, auditions for the CHASS Players spring drama, studying the French Revolution in World History, reading Virgil’s “Aeneid” for Latin class, tryouts for the golf team come spring - and everything else. 

One Book, One Philadelphia Kick-Off

The Free Library of Philadelphia kicked off the ninth annual One Book, One Philadelphia program on Jan.19 at the Parkway Central Library with a special event celebrating the 2011 featured reading selections, War Dances and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

War Dances is a bittersweet collection of short stories and poems that examines the intricate facets of human relationships, taking readers on a grand tour of life in all its complexity. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a humorous and heartrending autobiographical novel based on Alexie’s experiences growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation. Read together, these two books paint a complex and compelling portrait of modern life, as seen through the eyes of an acclaimed Native American writer and filmmaker.

One Book, One Philadelphia Chair Marie Field poke on the importance of this year’s program for the Philadelphia community.

 “As in previous years, in fulfillment of One Book’s mission to promote reading, literacy, library usage, and community throughout Greater Philadelphia, One Book, One Philadelphia will provide a rich, stimulating, interactive variety of programming designed to add to our knowledge of Native American culture, our understanding of Native American history and politics, and our appreciation of the struggles and many contributions of the United States’ first peoples,” said Reardon.  “We encourage everyone in Philadelphia to read the featured selections, join in the conversation, and participate in as many of the events as possible.”

Speaking from his home in Seattle, Washington, author Sherman Alexie greeted the crowd at Parkway Central and discussed his excitement about War Dances and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian being chosen as the 2011 One Book featured reading selections.

The event was one of more than 100 engaging, entertaining, and educational programs that will take place through March 17. Book and film discussions; Native American craft workshops; political, religious, and historical presentations; and film screenings are just some of the wide variety of events offered this year. 

A companion picture book for young readers and families is also a part of the program: The Good Luck Cat by Joy Harjo. Illustrated with images that subtly weave in details about the narrator’s Native American heritage, The Good Luck Cat invites readers to follow a spirited pet cat on his many misadventures.

New Film Series to Run Off-Beat, Hard-to-Find Movies


Guest Writer

Did you know that the studios refuse to hold critics’ screenings in my living room? It’s unfair and I’m sure there’s some sort of anti-East Coast bias going on. But it means that if I want to see a movie I have to go into Center City. Without a car, that’s at least an hour of traveling, often on the dreaded 23 bus, which is slow, bumpy and nausea inducing, crowded, filled with crying babies gone unchecked, and so on. The resulting disorientation takes some time to recover from, always aided by those travelers who light up their cigarettes on their way into the Broad and Erie stop on the BSL, assuming that no one will have the guts to ask them to put it out.

As all the theaters that play non-mainstream films (all under the Ritz brand) are located within a three-block radius (2nd and Walnut, 2nd and Chestnut, 4th and Chestnut) and travel times increase exponentially during bad weather (90 minutes each way to go see Cedar Rapids today, the movie itself is 86 minutes long), it’s bound to put a potential viewer in a terrific mood to see a film. And then you have to put down $9 per ticket, not including snacks.

Even if you want to see something loud, empty, and commercial, your choices are going to the Manayunk Main Street 6, the King of Prussia Mall, the Franklin Mills Mall, and The Riverview in South Philadelphia. The closest movie theater to the Germantown/Mt. Airy area is The Pearl near Temple University, which is only about five minutes closer than Center City when using public transportation.

So why are there no local options, nothing for those who don’t want to move to Center City for entertainment? I have no idea. But I do have a solution.

Starting next week, I and Ben Barnett, who runs the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, will be showing films out of the Video Library on 7141 Germantown Avenue. Not mainstream films per se, but films that would be difficult to impossible to see normally. There are hundreds of fascinating movies that have had rights issues preventing them from a DVD release, whether it is from complicated overseas financing, expensive music licenses, or the perception of a lack of interest.

These aren’t all obscure films and their quality has little to do with their current situation. For instance, in 2006, Chan-Wook Park, director of one of the best movies of the last decade, Oldboy, made a charming and dark movie called I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Ok that has never had any U.S. distribution at all, not even on DVD. The same is true of a 2008 serial-killer thriller with Josh Hartnett called I Come With the Rain. I could go on and on with examples (where is the highly regarded Love Exposure? Why do I have to import it?) but the point is to give an audience something they wouldn’t have an opportunity to experience without moving to Europe.

But the idea isn’t to just stop at showing a movie and then hustling out of the theater in silence. No, we want to take that “experience” term seriously, so there will be short films preceding each feature, trailers, trivia questions and prizes, and a discussion after each movie moderated by myself, and including input with the filmmakers whenever possible (sometimes audio interviews, sometimes in person). There will be couches outside the screening room and we encourage people to stick around and express themselves.

We’re calling it The Underground Film Forum and we mean it; we want a real film community in Philadelphia, not just a one-way discussion where the audience experience is always passive.

We’re going to be starting next Thursday evening at 7 p.m. with a fun, goofy, campy movie from the early 1980s that was shelved for nearly four years and has never been released on DVD in the US. It’s a bizarre musical called Voyage of the Rock Aliens starring Pia Zadora, Ruth Gordon, Jermaine Jackson, and Craig Sheffer. There will be a surprise short film before the feature, a trivia game, and a discussion afterwards including playing some tracks from the very rare soundtrack. Tickets are $7. There will be coffee and tea for sale.

We plan to have a screening once a week and I’ll even take requests and show a film if I’m able to clear the rights. Sure, it’s not your living room and it’s unfortunately not mine, but I still want you to come out and enjoy yourself.

For information call 718-809-3075  or e-mail to

Adam Lippe is a Germantown resident. His film reviews can be seen at

Quintessence Brings Moliere’s ‘Don Juan’ to Northwest

Bethany Ditnes of Mt. Airy practices her sword-fighting skills in preparation for her performance in Moliere’s Don Juan.

Quintessence Theatre Group will present Molière’s Don Juan, in the professional American premiere of a new translation by Neil Bartlett, to be directed by Alexander Burns. The production will start previews on Wednesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. and open on Saturday, February 19 at 8 p.m. Performances are Wednesday, February 16 through Sunday, March 13.  All performances will be held at the Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Avenue. To purchase tickets, visit or call 1-877-238-5596.

Don Juan, the greatest lover in history, and his weary servant Sganarelle, make their way through the Italian countryside, wooing and winning every beautiful woman who crosses Don Juan’s path. Pursued by past conquests, jealous rivals, and an angry father, Don Juan rejects all attempts to curb or change his ways. Can a man live entirely for pleasure? Is there a God and will he permit Don Juan to so openly mock his existence and moral laws?

Molière’s masterpiece premiered in 1665 and caused such a scandal that it was shut down after only fifteen performances and disappeared for over two hundred years.

In 2005 Neil Bartlett’s contemporary translation premiered at the Lyric Hammersmith in London to great critical acclaim, revitalizing Molière’s wicked black comedy. Come try to resist temptation in Molière’s sensuous and spiritual satire. Celebrated actor Anthony De Sando comes to Philadelphia to bring Don Juan to life, and John Williams, noted for his hilarious portrayal as Lucio in Quintessence’s Measure for Measure, returns as Sganarelle.

Quintessence Theatre Group is Philadelphia’s professional classical theatre company, dedicated to the performance and adaptation of epic works of classic drama and literature for the contemporary stage.

Rooted in the traditions of classical drama, we explore what is essential in theatre and human nature, igniting the minds of artists and audiences through the power of the live actor, design and the spoken word.

Over the next five years Quintessence Theatre Group will work to establish an acting ensemble and a rotating repertory at the historic Sedgwick Theater.

Tickets are $30, $20 for seniors, with $10 student rush available at the door.  Season subscriptions are also available.  

The inaugural 2010 - 2011 season will conclude with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, running from April 20 - May 15.

To purchase tickets or subscriptions visit SmartTix at or, or call 1-877-238-5596.

Coward’s Witty, Sophisticated ‘Private Lives’ at Stagecrafters

“Private Lives” by Noël Coward, the satirical and slickly sophisticated comedic classic, opens on Friday, February 4 at The Stagecrafters theater.  The play takes the viewer back to the fashionable world of the rich and idle during the late 1920s, to witness the antics and indiscretions of Elyot and Amanda Chase, formerly married to each other, both now newly-wed (to others!).  In this delicious take on marital passions gone wild battle lines are drawn, and combat, both verbal and physical, turns to wicked farce.  An enduring favorite from the acknowledged master of the quip, Private Lives gives fresh meaning to “over-the-top.” 

Noël Coward (1899-1973) rose from modest circumstances to become one of England’s foremost playwrights, renowned for his wit, flamboyance, and a consummate sense of personal style.  He published more than fifty plays, many of which are seen regularly in the theatrical repertoire.  At a commemoration marking the centenary of his birth, no less than a dozen of his plays were listed as scheduled for production in Britain and North America in the year 2000.

The first Broadway production of “Private Lives” ran for 236 performances in 1931.  Over the years the play has enjoyed no less than six New York productions, the most recent of which in 2002 was awarded the Tony for Best Revival of a Play. 

Performance dates are February 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 at 8 p.m., February 6, 13, 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at $16.00 Online (no service charge), $20.00 At-door. Thursday evening performances are 2 tickets for $25.  Students with valid ID are $13 at-door.  Groups of 15 or more are offered a reduced rate of $13 a ticket, paid in advance.  The box office opens 45 minutes before each performance.  For information call 215-247-8881; for reservations-direct call 215-247-9913.  The theater at 8130 Germantown Ave.  Visit for details. 

Special Note:  A “Meet the Cast and Director” Q & A session will be held following the performance on Friday, February 11.  All attendees that evening are welcome to stay. 

February PSA Meetings

February meetings for the Police Service Areas (PSAs) in the 14th Police District are as follows:

PSA 1, January 22, 7-9 p.m., West Oak Lane Senior Center, 7210 Ogontz Avenue,  with Lieutenant Raymond Jackson.  The community facilitator will be Geneva Green representing the Block Captain Association. PSA 1 covers West Oak Lane, East Germantown between Stenton and Chew avenues, and East Mt. Airy south of Gorgas Lane and Vernon Road.

PSA 2,  February 14, 7-9 p.m., New Bethel AME Church, Germantown Avenue and Tulpehocken Street, with Lieutenant Brian Murphy. The community facilitator will be James Igess representing Wister Neighborhood Council. PSA 2 covers the area  between Germantown and Chew avenues, from Gorgas Lane to Wister Street.

PSA 3, February 16, 7-9 p.m., Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street, with Lieutenant Mark Overwise. The community facilitator will be Heather Pierce of Carpenter Woods Town Watch. PSA 3 covers West Mt. Airy and West Central Germantown.

PSA 4, February 24, 7-9 p.m., Water Tower Rec Center, Hartwell and Ardleigh steets,  with Lieutenant Michael Kopecki.  The community facilitator will be Dr. Arlene Bennett representing the Safe Streets Committee.  PSA 4 covers Chestnut Hill and East Mt. Airy between Germantown and Cheltenham avenues bordered on the north by Cresheim Valley Drive and on the south by Gorgas Lane and Vernon Road.

For more information call the 14th Police District at 215-686-3140.  

Mt. Airy Fire Station Reopening

On January 30, Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers announced the official re-opening of Engine Company 9 fire station located at Germantown Avenue and Carpenter Lane. Members began to move back into the station at 8 a.m. on Saturday, January 29. When all equipment is in place the company will commence to respond from that location.

After a site visit by Councilwoman Miller that resulted in her request to repair the floors at the station, the entire station was closed April 17.  The station required additional floor reinforcement and a new apparatus floor to support the weight of the trucks housed at the station, which include Engine Company 9, Ladder Company 21 and Medic Unit 10. During the renovations these units were housed and responded from surrounding stations.

Councilwoman Miller stated, “Even though the station was closed for almost a year, I am happy that the repairs are finally complete. The existing floors presented a hazard to the firefighters and their equipment, thereby posing a hazard to the community. I thank the community for their patience and understanding.”

With the restoration complete, the Philadelphia Fire Department invites the general public, as well as community leaders and political representatives to join in a celebratory re-opening ceremony to introduce the station to the local community which it serves. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 5, at 11 a.m. at Engine 9’s station.

Engine 9 has partnered with State Representative Cherelle Parker and Councilwoman Miller to intensified their fire prevention activities and education within the community

Police Dept: Don’t Block Off Parking Spaces

After you’ve dug out your car after a foot-plus of snow has fallen it’s a natural tendency to feel that the space you’ve cleared is yours – but it’s not. The Police Department is reminding everyone that staking out parking spaces with chairs, cones and the like is against the law. It has issued the  following reminder:

The use of any item(s) for the purpose of reserving parking spaces or redirecting/rerouting traffic (examples include cones, chairs, trash cans milk crates, etc.) is illegal. The items will be considered abandoned property or trash and will be confiscated by the Department.

This practice is in violation of the Motor Vehicle Code of Pennsylvania and is punishable by a fine of no less than $100. The Pennsylvania Crime Code provides other violations that may also be charged to the offender or property owner (such as littering or obstructing the highway) that can result in fines or arrest.

FOWTrail Ambassador Training

The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) Trail Ambassador program has become so popular, that FOW is offering a new spring training session this year. The application deadline is Friday, Feb. 25, 2011.


Trail Ambassadors are park volunteers who assist and educate people in the park with anything from directions to safety needs to park history, flora and fauna. Ambassadors perform their service in the park and participate in ongoing education. They become experts in the Wissahickon and provide a valuable public service. Trail Ambassadors share their knowledge by:

●interacting with and providing assistance to park users while walking the trails;

●staffing information tables at FOW volunteer days and events;

●leading walks in the Wissahickon Valley; and

●conducting surveys of park users and wildlife.

Eight training sessions will be held weekly from 6 to 8 p.m. in April and May 2011, including a First Aid/CPR session. Applicants accepted into the program are required to pay a $100 registration fee, sign a one-time volunteer release form, and obtain their criminal background check and child-abuse clearance.

Ambassadors must be FOW members or willing to join the organization. The number of open positions is limited. For more information, program requirements, and an application form visit Contact FOW Volunteer Coordinator Kevin Groves with questions at 215-247-0417 ext 105.  

Benefit Jazz Concert

Appearing at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, 13 E. Mt. Pleasant Ave, on Thursday Feb.10 will be pianist Neil Podgurski with bassist Brian Howell and drummer Wayne Smith. There will be one show from 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $10/$5 for students, with no advance sales. There will be free refreshments. For information call 215-517-8337. 

This concert is sponsored by Jazz Bridge, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that assists our local jazz and blues musicians in crisis. 

Known throughout Philadelphia as a prodigious piano player, Neil Podgurski has been performing for 19 years in jazz venues up and down the East Coast. A product of the New School in New York City, Podgurski studied under Reggie Workman, Joe Chambers and Jackie Byard. Currently, Podgurski is currently a member of the Tim Warfield Group, the Victor North Quartet, and Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band.  His group New Fire performed monthly at Ortliebs Jazz Haus from 2005 to 2008. Their album Revolutions was voted one of the listeners favorites in 2006 on WRTI-FM.

Learn Public Speaking

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

Individual Tax Workshops at Mt. Airy Learning Tree

Ellen Russell is teaching about taxes through Mt. Airy Learning Tree. Her classes include an Individual Tax Workshop on February 5, 2-4 p.m., and repeating on March 10, 7-9 p.m.

Are you preparing to file taxes? Learn how the new tax laws can benefit you. This overview will outline the tax advantages available for 2010.

This class is ideal for people who prepare their own taxes as well as for people who have their taxes prepared but want to make sure that they are getting everything that they should. The cost is $19 plus a $5 materials fee. 

A Small Business Tax Workshop will be held Thursday, February 17, 7 – 9 p.m. This course covers the basic steps of completing the forms that every small business needs to file; from the Mom and Pop pizza shop to selling Mary Kay out of your living room.

The cost is $19 plus a $5 materials fee. Sign up at Mt. Airy Learning Tree by calling 215-843-6333 or visiting

When school is out, it’s a time for children to have fun, experience the world around them…and celebrate the summer.

Camp Summit accommodates the younger camper.  The summer themes include outdoor/indoor activities, special events, swimming, and field trips. 

Summit Children’s Program, located at 6757 Greene Street, one block from Lincoln Drive, is a Child Care Early Learning Center with a school-age after-school and summer camp program. 

When children are out of school it is an excellent time for them to experience the outdoor environment, express their individual creativity, enhance their physical abilities and make new friends. 

Camp Summit is a place where the number of campers is small enough for children to get their individual needs met.  Weekly activities include swimming, tennis, outdoor/indoor sports, interactive games, cooking, nature exploration, barbecues, and field trips. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are served daily.

If you are looking for a camp where children do not feel like they are  back in the classroom, where they can build new friendships, feel special in a small group setting, and have a voice in planning weekly activities, then call Tina Harris at 215-848-4451 or e-mail her at

Parents’ Group Organizing to Bring Disabilities Program Here


Guest Writer

A group of parents and teachers is getting organized to introduce a whole new approach to helping kids with learning disabilities in the Northwest.

It’s called the Arrowsmith Program, and although it’s been used in Canada since 1978, it has only started to gain popularity in the US in recent years.

The Arrowsmith Program is based on brain research that shows “it is possible to address learning disabilities by identifying and strengthening weak cognitive capacities,” according to the program’s brochure and Web site.

“The program exercises certain areas of the brains in the same way you would exercise your muscles,” explains Aubrey Garwood, a teacher in Mt. Airy who is excited by what she believes are the clear benefits of the Arrowsmith Program. “And once you strengthen those brain areas, the kids can read, write and function well academically and in other capacities, without any more intervention,” she adds. “Of course, it’s not cheap and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a few years of intensive work to achieve results, but the effort seems to pay off,” she clarifies.

Christine Murphy, whose 9-year-old son, Jimmy, has been following the program for the last several months, enthusiastically agrees. “They have Jimmy doing repetitive exercises, like reading the time on a clock, or drawing certain shapes over and over,” she says. “And after less than 6 months he can already do things he could never do before, like coloring in the lines and even sewing in an accurate pattern. I’m completely blown away by what Arrowsmith can do for kids like Jimmy,” she adds. “I’m hoping more families will join us so we can bring the program to this area.”

Typical students in the Arrowsmith Program are “of average or above average intelligence and do not have severe intellectual, cognitive, emotional or behavioral disorders that would significantly affect their ability to participate in the program,” according to the program’s Web site.

The only school in the state of Pennsylvania that currently offers the Arrowsmith Program is ATG Learning Academy in Warminster, PA. “I drive Jimmy out there and back every single day,” Christine recounts, “because this program is so important to us. It would be so wonderful if we could have it more close to home and include other kids and families in the area who can also benefit from it.”

For more information about the Arowsmith Program, visit To inquire about joining the parent-teacher group in bringing the program to the Northwest, please contact Christine Murphy at, phone 215-508-2692.

Camp Fair

Although the streets are filled with snow, it is not too soon to prepare your youngsters for Summer Camp this year.  Chestnut Hill Academy (CHA) is hosting a camp fair that feature affordable camps in the Northwest.

Among them will be the Youth and Money Camp offered by The Business Center for Entrepreneurship & Social Enterprise, a small business support center in Mt. Airy.  The program is a motivational program that encourages youth between the ages 7 to 14 to start exploring their own business. While campers learn the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, they also participate in team building exercises that build good sportsmanship and personal character. 

Additionally, The Dance Institute of Philadelphia (DIP) will also be participating in this year’s camp fair.  Through the camp experience, youngsters learn a variety of dances, including but not limited to Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Tap, African and Acrobatics.  The camp also includes swimming. 

The camp fair will be held on Saturday, February 5 at Chestnut Hill Academy, 500 West Willow Grove Avenue, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 

Come by the camp fair booth to register.  You can also enroll in the Youth & Money Camp by contacting Karen James at 215-247-2473 x7. To register for the Dance Institute of Philadelphia’s camp program, call 215-844-4347.

Youth Orchestra at St. Luke’s

The Montgomery County Youth Orchestra will perform its Spring Concert at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 5421 Germantown Avenue, on Saturday, February 26, at 3 p.m. This concert is a part of the Bicentennial celebration of St. Luke’s Church, which is hosting numerous community/cultural events and special worship services throughout the year.

The Montgomery County Youth Orchestra, founded in 1990, is based at the Church of St. Jude and the Nativity in Lafayette Hill, and provides talented young musicians an orchestral experience at an advanced and intensive level. The musicians come from all areas of the Delaware Valley and are accepted based upon their playing level rather than on age, which ranges typically from 9 to 19 years old. The orchestra is led by artistic director and conductor Cailin Manson, a Philadelphia native. Manson is known for his work as a mentor for young musicians and his extensive experience as a soloist, orchestral conductor and vocal clinician. Manson is also the founder and director of the Germantown Institute for the Vocal Arts.

 The program will feature selections by Piccinni, Grieg, Beethoven, Bartok, and the virtuosic Zigeunerweisen by Sarasate. Violinist Vladimir Aleksandruk of the Reading Symphony joins MCYO as soloist for the Sarasate. 

Admission for the concert and a free will offering will be taken. All donations support the programs at St. Luke’s Church.

For more information contact St. Luke’s Church at 215-844-8544 or the Montgomery County Youth Orchestra at 610-564-6153. Also, visit the church website or the MCYO website, or, respectively. The orchestra can be contacted directly by e-mail at

Panentheism Talk at UU

The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, 6900 Stenton Avenue in Mt Airy, at the corner of Stenton and Gorgas, invites you to join us on Sunday, February 6 at 11 a.m. for our service on “Why I Am a Panentheist?”  Process Philosophy and its theology, Panentheism, which Sandy Fulton chose as her belief system in the 1960’s, is congruent with Unitarian Universalism and remains the most convincing explanation she has ever found of God, ethics, evolution and why we were gifted with life, free will and consciousness. Flexible to new ideas from faith, science and philosophy, entirely ecumenical, Panentheism teaches a visionary way of responding to the universe. Visit our website for other activities or more information at

FUMCOG Celebrates

First United Methodist Church of Germantown will celebrate its first 21 years as a Reconciling (inclusive) Congregation, at the 11 a.m. service on Sunday, February 13.   Please join us and celebrate our history, our future hopes, and enjoy the New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus’s commemoration in song.  A reception will follow; all are welcome.   The Church is at 6001 Germantown Avenue. For information call 215-438-3677.

‘Angelologist’ Gives Readings

On Friday, February 4 from 6-9 p.m. at RockStar Gallery, 20 East Mt. Airy Avenue, angel communicator Joshua Barber will give angel readings for $1 a minute.

Barber calls himself a “conduit” or a channel for angels. When he was 19 years old he was told by a psychic that he had “healing hands.” She felt an intense energy coming from his hands and advised him to open himself up to his spirit guides.

Years later, when he reconnected with the psychic she told him that he was at a crossroads and had a decision to make. He listened and talking to angels became his lifework. It was a path that he says he couldn’t avoid. 

He sees angels in his mind’s eye as different colors and points of light and does paintings of what he sees. Sometimes, he says, they announce their names. He is also a certified Reiki master and energy healer who works with specific crystals.

Textile, Paper Artifacts at Pop-Up Event

Esteemed curator Edward Maeder will take up residence as a pop up phenomenon in Mt. Airy for three weeks, starting Saturday, February 5. The Pop-Up Studio will be held in the anchor space at the Green on Greene building, across from Weavers Way Co-op in Mt. Airy, at Greene Street and Carpenter Lane.

Former Curator of Costumes and Textiles at the L.A. County Museum of Art, and later    at Historic Deerfield, Maeder has more recently taken up the mantle of artist and “needleman”. In fact, he’s been sewing and stitching (in myriad forms) since he was knee-high.

Maeder comes to Philadelphia on the heels of an autumn spent as Artist in Residence at Quimby Colony, in Maine.

The Pop-Up studio is called “MaederMade” with a wink toward Duchamp if not Philadelphia’s ubiquitous Parking Authority.  Throughout much of the two week/three weekend studio, Maeder will be available to engage with the public and lead workshops on unique techniques for working with silks and found papers.  Artists and non-artists are welcome, sewing machines are optional.

Featured workshops include “Found Paper Accessories”, “Crowning Glory: Hat Decoration” and “Serious Stripes: 100% Vintage Silk Accessories”. 

The workshops are appropriate for all levels. Maeder will also lead a special workshop on Paper Accessories for kids 9 to 14 years old.

Maeder will also give an illustrated talk on “Color: Historic Inspiration”.  An ever delightful, often funny and erudite speaker, he will discuss what colors work and why, referencing historic uses of color. As Maeder has been known to say (with a knowing smile), “Free yourself from dye-lot angst!  Just remember, matching is a middle class substitute for taste!” Informal discussion will follow. 

For sale during this period will be workshop kits and vintage silks. The MaederMade kits have all the tools for making household and fashion accessories from found paper or vintage silk textiles.  Maeder is also selling part of his trove of silks that were manufactured in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s for men’s accessories.

For information and reservations (strongly advised for workshops and talk), call 215 842-1040, or email  Check out MaederMade facebook page for additional events and updates.

GGBAMeets February 8

The next Greater Germantown Business Association meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 8, 8:30 – 10 a.m., at DHEx Enterprises, LLC, 6353 Germantown Avenue.

This month’s meeting will feature U. Harold Levy, of the PA Office of Minority and Women Business Opportunity. His topic will be “Doing Business with the State,” and he will give us step-by-step instruction on getting through the bureaucratic maze so that we can compete for government contracts on a level playing field. 

As usual, a light Continental Breakfast will be available. Please call your R.S.V.P. in not later than Friday, February 4 at 215-848-8511

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