From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

July 29, 2010 • MAI.072910.pdf

In This Issue

The Stories


  1. BulletNorthwest Regional Library Lot Looks Better This Week

  2. BulletOverflow Crowd at PSA3 Meeting

  3. BulletStreetscape Reconstruction in Full Swing

  4. BulletTennis League Reunion is August 13

  5. BulletFree Meals at St. Michaels

  6. BulletFish Dinner at Annointed Hands Café

  7. Bullet‘Speaking of Faith’ at UU Church of the Restoration

  8. Bullet32nd annual Peoples’ Festival

  9. BulletBook Sale at NWRL

  10. BulletCanning/Preservation Class

  11. BulletPCA Food Vouchers

  12. BulletSuspect Sought in Two Bank Robberies

  13. BulletScam Alert

Are You Ready for Some Football?

On Tuesday evening the air at Mt. Airy Playground was filled with the excited shouts of young football hopefuls and the voices of coaches barking instructions to would-be Donovan McNabbs and Brian Westbrooks.  It was the first day of practice for the Mt. Airy Bantams, now beginning their 56th year of youth football for ages 4-14. More than 250 players on nine teams will be practicing until the third week in September, when the regular season will begin. Sign-up will take place at the playground every day in August from 6-8 p.m. For more information about the Bantams visit www.leaguelineup.com/bantams.





Northwest Regional Library Lot Looks Better This Week


Left: part of the lot in its unkempt state prior to the clean up.


Next: after the clean-up.




Below: the folks who did the job - student volunteers with People for People’s GED Preparation Program.


Photo above left by Lois Ann Handrick, who supplied all photos of the overgrown condition behind the library that have been used by this newspaper.


By BOB O’BRIEN

Editorial Staff Intern


Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library’s parking lot, also known as Campbell Place, finally received a cleaning last week on Wednesday, July 21 and Thursday, July 22, but not from the city of Philadelphia.


The lot’s saviors, who spent four hours on both days working to make the place presentable, came in the form of a volunteer group working through People for People, a non-profit organization located on North Broad Street.


Steven Clark, head of security at Northwest Regional, coordinated with People for People to clean up the library’s parking lot after several failed attempts to have the City of Philadelphia maintain the lot, which was overgrown with weeds, littered with tires and other trash, and equipped with parking meters.


“I didn’t want to wait on them,” Clark said of the city.


As a result, a dozen students of People for People’s GED Preparation Program came out to lend a hand last week. Volunteer work is part of the program’s requirements, said program Internship Coordinator Laiha Lusk, who was also present. “We just jumped right in,” said Lusk. “It was a really good opportunity [for the students].”


Clark said that the city contacted him on Wednesday and offered to have the trash removed after volunteers had collected it. He accepted.


Clark was more than happy with the outcome of the two days. “Those kids were phenomenal,” he said. “My hat is off to them.” The library held a barbeque in appreciation of the volunteers on Thursday.


According to June Cantor, a spokesperson for the Streets Department who contacted this newspaper after last week’s issue went to press, Campbell Place is the department’s responsibility.


“Campbell Place is a public street, so that is our domain,” she said. “If there are any other problems, the Streets Department will be there to maintain the street and the lot.”


Overflow Crowd at PSA3 Meeting

By KARL BIEMULLER

Editor


Police Service Area (PSA) meetings in the 14th Police District are usually sparsely attended, but more than 60 people came to the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street, on Wednesday evening, July 21, for the July meeting of PSA 3, which covers West Central Germantown and most of West Mt. Airy.  It was literally an overflow crowd – the meeting site had to be moved twice to larger rooms at the GJC accommodate the swelling numbers.


The turnout was a measure both of the effectiveness of West Mt. Airy Neighbors in spreading the word about it and the concerns of citizens alarmed at a recent string of armed robberies in a relatively small area of West Mt. Airy between Carpenter Lane and Allens Lane, from Lincoln Drive to Germantown Avenue.


There are four PSAs in the 14th Police District. Normally PSA meetings are conducted by the lieutenants assigned to each particular PSA but the police brought additional firepower to the meeting on July 21. In addition to Lt. Mark Overwise, who is responsible for PSA3, were former 14th District Captain Winton Singletary (now assigned to Northwest Detectives, Broad and Champlost streets), Sergeant Kennedy, the 14th District tactical supervisor, Community Relations officers Hall and Johns,  and Deputy Police Commissioner Thomas Wright.


Wright opened the meeting by saying that he had attended many PSA meetings across the city but had never before seen such a large attendance.  


Wright gave a brief overview of the city’s 2010 crime figures, saying that “Overall, we’re about where we were last year,” but also noting an eight percent increase in homicides over this time in 2009.


He then described the PSA system, saying, “The district lieutenants are like the captains of their districts – Lt. Overwise is your captain.”


In regard to the recent robberies, Wright said, there had been nine separate incidents recently and that two arrests had been made. Most of the robberies were still under investigation. “We hope that  this is a short-term problem we can solve quickly,” he said.


For the 14th District as a whole, said Wright, “The District is down 19 percent in terms of violent crime.” He later added that residential burglaries were down 14 percent in the 14th but that burglaries of commercial establishments were up more than 100 percent. 


Wright made frequent references to Police Department budget cutbacks and the constraints they had imposed on the Department but equally frequently said he was not trying to use that as an excuse.  


One measure that the Department was taking, he said, was to change the shifts of some officers to better cope with the high-crime hours, which he said were usually from 8 p.m. to 4 p.m. What this would mean, he said, would be that officers who might normally have their shifts begin at midnight would be switched to 8 p.m. starts. However, this could only be done six times per year per officer, he said, owing to constraints imposed by the terms of the city’s contract with the police union.


“You will be seeing an increased presence in this PSA in the overnight hours,” said Wright.


Questions to Wright from the audience addressed  a wide range of concerns. One attendee wanted to know what the city was doing in terms of surveillance cameras. Wright supported the concept, saying “I know they do work but they are not what they should be in a city this size. We need to improve in this area. Other cities such as Chicago and Baltimore have used them with great success.”   


Another asked about whether more plainclothes officers could be assigned to the area.  Wright responded, “We have to find the right balance between plainclothes and uniformed officers – an emphasis was made on uniformed officers to give a public presence to the department on the street. The department is overstrained – these officers are working their butts off.”


Lt. Overwise then addressed the gathering, saying “Crime happens in waves – I think that’s what we’re dealing with here,” in reference to the recent string of robberies. 


Captain Singletary agreed, saying “West Mt. Airy is a good neighborhood but every once in a while we get spikes [of crime].” He warned residents to beware of a false sense of security, “leaving windows, doors and garages left open, things like that.”


Crime Prevention Officer Hall followed with a reminder of the 14th’s security assessment program, which offers residents  a free assessment of the vulnerability of their residences. It can be scheduled by calling 215-685-2148, she said.


The meeting closed with a pitch by Heather Pierce of the Carpenter Woods Town Watch group to join the organization and function as the “eyes and ears” of the neighborhood. Information about the group can be found online at www.cwtwonwatch.org.  


Streetscape Reconstruction in Full Swing

By BOB O’BRIEN

Editorial Staff Intern


Northwest residents – and motorists - have seen their share of inconveniences the past two years during the reconstruction of Germantown Avenue, first in Mt. Airy and then in Germantown, but the latest round of roadwork taking place along the Avenue should be a lot less difficult to cope with. And it’s now in full swing.


“This is the big push that we’re in right now,” said Elizabeth Moselle, director of the Commercial Corridor Revitalization Project at Mt. Airy USA, about construction activities taking place on Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy. And indeed, the Mt. Airy Streetscape Project is bustling along as work crews continue excavation and reconstruction in the neighborhood’s business district.


A major reconstruction is taking place between Mt. Pleasant Avenue and Nippon Street on Germantown Avenue, including total replacement of curbs and sidewalks. Last week, excavation of curbs and the sidewalk area within four feet of the curb started on the east side of Germantown Avenue, working north from Mt. Pleasant Avenue.


This method, which differs from the initial plan, should allow for this phase of the project to be completed more quickly, and will also be more convenient for pedestrians, said Moselle.


“[The workers] are moving along very quickly now,” Moselle said. “They’ve accelerated.”


The method allows for work crews to complete tasks such as installation of new lighting conduits, light pole foundations and new curbs while a walkway is still available to pedestrians. Although convenient for pedestrians, parking lanes will be closed on both sides of Germantown Avenue in the area between the hours of 7 a.m. and roughly 4 p.m.


Construction does not seem to have had an overwhelming effect on traffic flow, Moselle said. “I think there may be some slowing,” she said. “During peak hours traffic may be affected.”


Moselle said that Miller Bros., the general contractors for the project, expect curb installation to be completed later this week, after which workers will begin removing the remaining six or so feet adjacent to buildings, and replacing concrete. Workers will work on one block at a time, removing concrete and replacing it within a day.


According to Miller Bros., it is estimated that the east side of Germantown Avenue will be completed somewhere within and a week and a half or two weeks, and that construction on the west side of the avenue will begin shortly after, Moselle said. Construction on the west side will begin at Nippon Street and head south toward Mt. Pleasant, she said.


Moselle said that she expected construction activities to cause some trouble among businesses on Germantown Avenue, but that it the project planners tried to schedule work during slower parts of the season so as to have as little effect as possible. “I think it’s probably a little disruptive to businesses,” she said. “Hopefully it’s not too inconvenient.”


In the area between Mt. Pleasant and Upsal, where construction is only taking place where needed, all light pole foundations have been installed on the west side of Germantown Avenue and roughly half have been installed on the east side.

Moselle said that she felt like the construction has progressed as well as project planners had hoped. “This week and last week have been very productive,” she said.


Moselle also emphasized the need for community residents to try to support businesses despite inconveniences caused by construction, citing alternatives to parking on the street such as municipal parking lots.


Tennis League Reunion is August 13

On August 13, Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education is hosting an alumni reunion to celebrate the history of the National Junior Tennis League (NJTL) in the Philadelphia area. We are planning a wonderful afternoon of memories to commemorate over four decades of the NJTL program with as many former participants as possible.


Thousands of young people have participated in the NJTL program, which was founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder, to introduce children to tennis on public courts.


Current and former NJTL participants, the tennis community and Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center supporters are invited to the Philadelphia National Junior Tennis League 40th Anniversary Reunion, with a tennis round robin, barbeque, story sharing music, and children’s activities. It will be held at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center, 4842 Ridge Avenue, on Friday, August 13, from 4-8 p.m.


The cost is $40 for ages 18 years and older, $20 for children, $100 for a family of four. For tickets visit www.ashetennis.org


The mission of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education is to create opportunities for a diverse cross-section of young people, especially those from under-resourced families and communities, to make positive choices in their lives, remain in and succeed in school, reject violence and other risky behaviors, and grow into active, responsible and productive citizens. We work to achieve these goals through innovative tennis, education, life skills, and leadership development programming in neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia area and at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center.


The Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center provide high quality tennis instruction by experienced instructors, education and youth leadership programming, and positive opportunities to more than 6,500 children annually, most of whom participate at little or no cost through our after school and community programs and the National Junior Tennis League outdoor summer program. Using tennis as the primary motivator, the programs teach positive, rewarding lessons, build confidence, and provide a framework of personal discipline.


Free Meals at St. Michaels

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lafayette Hill has teamed-up with its sister church, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Mt. Airy, to provide free community meals. 


Members of the community are invited to St. Michaels for a homemade meal every Saturday morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the summer the church has provided hotdogs, chips, fruit, salad, cookies and cold drinks.


Starting in the fall, St. Peter’s and St. Michael’s plan to offer a variety of meals such as chicken and rice, pasta, meatloaf with potatoes and soups. 


St. Michael’s Lutheran Church is located at 6671 Germantown Avenue and can be found at http://www.stmichaelsgermantown.org. For more information or to make a donation, please contact the church office at 215-848-0199.  St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is on 3025 Church Road in Lafayette Hill. For more information visit  www.stpeterslh.org.



Fish Dinner at Annointed Hands Café

The women of Trinity Lutheran Church, 5300 Germantown Avenue, will hold a fundraiser fish dinner sale in the Anointed Hands Café from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 31.


A donation of $8 includes a fish dinner, string beans or cabbage, potato or pasta salad. A $10 donation includes the above plus soda and a slice of cake. You may individually purchase a fish sandwich for a donation of $6, soda for $1 or cake slices at $1.75 each.  Call 215-603-2059 to pre-order. Let us know what time you wish to pick up your order and we will have it ready for you. 



‘Speaking of Faith’ at UU Church of the Restoration

On Sunday, August 1, join us at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, 6900 Stenton Avenue, for a discussion of the book, “Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters and How to Talk About it” by Krista Tippett, creator and moderator of the National Public Radio Program of the same name. The discussion will be led by UUCR member and theology student Cynthia Bradley. The discussion will follow the service during coffee hour.


Speaking in April at the Kimmel Center, Tippett traced the intersection of human experience with religious ideas. Subsequently, an interfaith group, co-led by Bradley, met in four Mt. Airy Learning Tree classes to discuss the book and what it may offer our spiritual journeys.


Visit www.uurestoration.us for information.


32nd annual Peoples’ Festival

Please join in for the 32nd Annual Peoples’ Festival on Saturday, August 14. Enjoy an event full of Entertainment, Education and Empowerment from noon to 8 p.m. in historic Vernon Park, Germantown and Chelten avenues. This year the festival honors Mother Earth by sharing information about our responsibility to do our part for the preservation and improvement of our local and global community. We encourage organizations sharing the message of living a greener lifestyle to inquire about our Green Vendor and Sponsor incentives. Visit the website for more details at www.peoplesfestival.org


Book Sale at NWRL

Catch up on your summer reading! The Friends of the Joseph E. Coleman Northwest Regional Library will hold a used book sale on Saturday, July 31. Books and other reading-related items for all ages will be on sale in the library lobby and proceeds will support the library’s collection.


Coleman Northwest Regional Library is located at the corner of Greene Street and Chelten Avenue. For more information call 215-685-2155.


Canning/Preservation Class

On August 14, join Lois Fischer, a Pennsylvania State University Master Gardener, at the Horticulture Center in West Fairmount Park, Belmont Avenue and Montgomery Drive, for “How to Preserve the Summer Bounty.” She will teach you how to preserve jams, relishes, chutneys, pickles and other tasty items using the water bath canning method. Using your own garden supply or a bushel from a farmer’s market, begin filling your pantry with delicious homemade treats that will evoke the essence of summer in the middle of winter.

Registration and refreshments are at 9 a.m., with the workshop from 9:30 – 11 a.m. The fee is $10. To preregister, contact the Penn State Philadelphia Cooperative Extension office at 215-471-2200, ext. 100.


PCA Food Vouchers

Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) has begun distribution of Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program produce vouchers as part of an annual program to encourage seniors to include fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. Eligible seniors who live in Philadelphia can receive the $20 worth of vouchers for use at certified Farmers’ Markets throughout Philadelphia. The program also increases awareness of sources of fresh produce in local communities.

Philadelphia seniors age 60 and over by December 31 and who are income-eligible may receive the vouchers at PCA’s main office at 642 North Broad Street (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays) and at other designated sites. Proof of age and residency are required. 

Currently, no word had been received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on any changes to income eligibility levels. According to Helen Cooke, PCA assistant director for health and nutrition services, PCA will follow the guidelines issued last year, which are based on total 2008 household income, pending notice of any change:

1 person: $20,036; 2 people: $26,955; 3 people: $33,874; 4 people: $40,793. These figures are subject to change.

Information on voucher distribution sites are  available from the PCA Helpline, 215-765-9040. The vouchers will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and must be used before November 30. 


Suspect Sought in Two Bank Robberies

The FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance to identify and locate the subject believed to be responsible for the robberies of the Citizens Bank branch at 6324 Stenton Avenue, and the Beneficial Bank branch at 5301 Chew Avenue, on Friday, July 23.


At approximately 12:09 p.m., a subject entered the Citizens Bank branch and presented a threatening demand note to a teller. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, the subject fled the area of the bank on foot and was last seen on Washington Avenue headed towards Limekiln Pike. The subject was wearing a short-sleeved dark green buttoned shirt with epaulets, dark green pants, large prescription glasses and white gauze on his left arm.


It is believed that the same subject then entered the Beneficial Bank branch at approximately 12:50 p.m. and presented a threatening demand note a teller. The subject in this robbery was wearing a yellow or mustard colored plain baseball cap, large prescription glasses, and a dark plain t-shirt. The subject did not have any gauze on his arms.


The subject may have missing or damaged front teeth, and a mustache and goatee or beard. The subject is a black male in his mid to late 30’s, approximately 5’7” tall, and 150 pounds.


This subject is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or the Philadelphia Police Department. There may be a reward for information leading to this subject’s capture, and tipsters can remain anonymous.


Scam Alert

By KARL BIEMULLER

Editor


A Northwest resident has alerted this newspaper to a scam that may be circulating in the area through the mail.


Last week he received a letter purporting to be from the Goodwill Monitoring and Research Group, allegedly a subsidiary of Consolidated Glass Corporation, which stated that he had been chosen to be trained as a “mystery shopper,” who would go to various stores and purchase goods worth up to $1,000, and then be trained in financial transactions. A look-alike check was included in the letter, to be activated after he had contacted the company. No such company exists, and the offer is bogus.





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