Vernon Price (on ladder), staffer to Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, and Terri Gillen, head of the Redevelopment Authority, pull away the drapery concealing the state’s newest historical marker on Saturday: one commemorating the accomplishments of William Allen, the Colonial-era figure whose country estate gave Mt. Airy its name. Allen’s estate was located on what is now the grounds of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue. The ceremony marked the official dedication of the seminary’s William Allen Plaza [story in Mt. Airy Independent issue of September 24]; at left is “William Allen” himself, portrayed by Robert Gleason of Historic Philadelphia Incorporated.

Give Us Your Tired Computers, TVs: MABA’s Weird Waste Day


Editorial Staff Intern

On Saturday afternoon, September 26, cars were lined up in the in the parking lot of Valley Green Bank, 7226 Germantown Avenue, waiting to unload their “weird” waste: microwaves, televisions, air conditioners, printers, scanners, VCR’s, oven toasters, CFL’s, and tons of batteries. The event was sponsored by the Mt. Airy Business Association (MABA) in conjunction with Valley Green Bank, and 5.87 tons of such waste were collected, according to Ann King-Musza of the vendor, Institute of Recycling Network (IRN).

Kim Miller, MABA executive director, said that MABA is constantly exploring ways for local businesses to effectively recycle and manage their waste. Miller said that MABA wants businesses and the community to know “there are alternatives to dumping trash in landfills.” The first Weird Waste Day was an effort to  support community groups and continue to help beautify the neighborhood, she said, “because we live here, too.”

Participants in Weird Waste Day paid 32 cents per pound. “This is not a fundraiser event. It’s a break-even event,” said Miller. The funds went to pay IRN, said Miller. IRN offers one-stop recycling for many different items, including paper, cardboard, electronics, batteries, CFL’s, air conditioners, plastics and cell phones to name a few.

Six volunteers from Metamorphosis, a new non-profit organization for ex-offenders, helped to unload and separate the recycling, said Alfred Haywood III, president of Metamorphosis. They included two volunteers from Cresheim Church in Chestnut Hill.

The mission at Metamorphosis is to provide employment opportunities for men who do not meet the criteria for other ex-offender programs, said Haywood. “We are trying to change the misperceptions people have about formerly-incarcerated members of the community,” he said.

Metamorphosis offers two type of services:  volunteer services for community service projects and professional cleaning and debris removal services.

Locally-owned Valley Green Bank tries to support community events, said Seitchik, the bank’s marketing and business development representative, and recognizes the importance of recycling reponsibly.

If you missed this “Weird Waste Day,” IRN is planning another recycling event on November 14 at J.S. Jenks Elementary School, 8301 Germantown Ave. For more information about this event call Ann King-Musza at 215-764-9071, or e-mail to

City Cancels Contracts with Germantown Settlement


Staff Writer

As foreclosures and tax liens continue to mount for the human service and housing development agency Germantown Settlement, workers there claim they haven’t been paid since before the city cut off its funds in June.

Add to that what now totals at least $9 million in defaulted loans and almost $2 million in city, state and federal tax liens against the agency since the beginning of last year, and the future of the 125-year-old social service agency appears open to question.

The city’s June decision to revoke nearly $1 million in human services contracts to Settlement came following months of city requests for required financial audits going back three years, according to Thomas Sheaffer, director of policy and evaluation and fiscal director for the Office of Health and Opportunity.

“We ask all of our providers to submit an annual audit,” he said. “Germantown Settlement has not been able to produce an audit for three years. That more than violates the time frame that we use.”

Sheaffer was not aware of any other city contractor that was so far delinquent with required financial information. “They shouldn’t have been allowed to go that long,” he said. “There was just, I guess, an unwillingness to do this sooner.”

The impetus to tidy Settlement’s accounts came from federal pressure to present clean financial records in city applications for stimulus funding, Sheaffer said. For these applications, the city had to be able to show that its funds were being used for the programs they were assigned to. But without the audits there was no way to show this for Settlement, according to Sheaffer, which could have jeopardized the city’s application as a whole, he said.

In a story in the Thursday, September 24 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Emanuel Freeman, president and CEO of Germantown Settlement, said that the reason for the delay was a data crash that required the extensive re-entry of financial information after the loss of 18 months of data.  In an August 18 telephone interview with this newspaper Freeman said, “We were not able to provide audits in a timely fashion. We now have a relatively complicated organization so to ask for financial audits is more than just a notion.”

As of press time on Tuesday, September 29, Freeman had not returned recent phone calls asking for comment. 

Missed paychecks

Though Sheaffer was certain the agency knew a cutoff was imminent before the June date, Settlement employees speaking on condition of anonymity have alleged that they were repeatedly mislead about funds they were owed, and that they missed pay checks dating from well before June.

“I worked for them [for years] and I didn’t get paid for like six months with hope of them saying it’s gonna come through,” said one longtime employee. “They did a lot of good things in the neighborhood, they serviced a lot of people through the years. But to have this happen to the people that work for them is horrible.”

An internal e-mail forwarded to this newspaper, dated August 18, from Freeman acknowledged the cut-off of city funds, the missing financial information, and the fact that workers have gone without pay, but did not draw a clear link between the missing audits and the cancelled contracts. It repeatedly mentioned the then-prominent city budget crisis, which was unrelated to the Settlement situation because most of its funds had already been stopped by that time.

The e-mail implied prospects for continued city funding beyond the June cutoff and an expectation from the city for Settlement services, and workers, to push on.

“We are owed funds for May, June, July and soon August,” the memo said. “Yet we are expected to continue to perform and, through your continued commitment, we have in fact done exactly this.”

But according to Sheaffer, by this time all but one of the agency’s contracts had been  terminated with no plans of renewal. He said, “If they were operating and providing service without a contract with us, they certainly should not be implying that they do have one.”

The only remaining city funding source after the June cutoff was a $75,000 close-out contract through September for a parental assistance program called Northwest Services to Assist Families to Excel (SAFE), according to Jeff Moran, spokesperson for the Division of Maternal and Child Health. Moran said his department was quite pleased with the work of Settlement’s SAFE program and that the termination was not due to performance but to the missing Settlement audits.

But Settlement workers were certain all of the 30 or so human services staff, including SAFE employees, were affected by pay dockings during the extension period. Employees alleged missing paychecks going back months before June and wondered where the money that actually was approved by the city finally went.

“Full-time employees have not been paid their February through August payments and part time employees have not received May through Aug 15th,” one former employee wrote in August.

“What happened to the other months?” said another. “If we [Settlement] were getting money for all that time [before June] why were we not getting our salaries for that time?”

For faithful employees like the one above, old doubts were beginning to mount.

“Everything needs to be fixed. You worked with no supplies for years. People take money out of their pockets to get supplies. Where is the money?” the worker asked.   

New tax liens

The city wants to know this too. According to court filings, on September 24 and 25 it filed liens against Settlement for self-assessed taxes – taxes Settlement bookkeepers calculated the agency owes – for $192,000. In addition, the IRS filed yet another tax lien on the agency September 4 for $105,000; the state Department of Labor and Industry filed a lien for $42,000 on August 24; and Nova Bank filed a confession of judgment September 3, for defaulted loan payments in the amount of $260,000. This is in addition to $8.8 million in loan defaults and $1.6 million in tax liens reported by this newspaper last month.

New initiatives

But Settlement appears to be pushing forward. In the rear lot of 200 West Chelten Avenue, a property owned by Settlement’s property development wing, the Greater Germantown Housing Development Corporation, contractors are constructing the agency’s latest community development initiative - a stand-alone Wendy’s restaurant that will function as a land lease, presumably to bring revenue into the agency.  

And despite legal action in July on the part of the city Redevelopment Authority to seize the Germantown YWCA building at 5820-5824 Germantown Avenue, which is the subject of numerous federal tax liens and an unpaid $1.3 million loan from the city, Settlement is in discussion with Mosaic Development Partners LLC and a separate real estate financing firm to develop the building if funding is secured.

According to RDA Executive Director Terry Gillen, the city was willing to hold off its seizure for “a couple of months” to give Settlement a chance to form a viable plan for renovating the site.

Both in the internal memo from Freeman dated August 18, and in the phone interview with him that day he announced the agency’s intention to shift priorities to new money-making ventures, including a day care center at the long vacant property of 48 East Penn Street, and a new medical adult day care center at 324 East High Street, where the long operating Mature Adult Center closed in July in the fallout from the same June freeze of city funds.

In that interview Freeman also said he was not aware of $816,000 in cancelled funding from Resources for Human Development – the major portion of the $1 million in cancelled contracts reported above. Yet it is a funding loss that seems at least tacitly acknowledged in his internal email of the same day.

“Presently, the City and PHMC [Public Health Management Corporation] has not paid Germantown Settlement since April 2009,” the email reads.

Chronic missed payments?

Some former Settlement employees have mentioned a pattern of chronic missed payments coupled with efforts to take the onus off of Settlement when employee dissatisfaction grew.

“Nobody really questioned why we didn’t get paid because it was put on the city,” said one of the workers quoted above, who likened the experience to “brainwashing.”

And the other worker simply said, “Some people have a great deal of loyalty, which I haven’t figured out.”

Both workers quoted in this article and several other previous workers who spoke on condition of anonymity experienced repeated missed payments over the years followed by apologies from Settlement management and promised rectifications that went unfulfilled. Yet all of them said that they loved their work.

As an example, a March 22, 2002 “Manager’s Apology to Staff” said in part, “We apologize for not communicating the high value we place on your work. We apologize for not acquiring sufficient resources to conduct your work.”

Yet former employees and at least one former board member, Harold Sheppard, alleged being terminated from the agency because they voiced critiques of management. And with the most recent Settlement pay crisis, employees who spoke up or tried to organize were fired, according to recent workers, which tended to instill more fear.

“People saw stuff and didn’t say anything,” a worker quoted above said. “People would rally up and then get scared… The whole situation seems like a nightmare to me.”

‘Bollywood’ on the Avenue: Film Shoots Scene at Trolley Car


Staff Writer

A refrigerated food truck rumbled down Germantown Avenue the morning of September 23, and made it halfway into the parking lot of the Trolley Car Diner before the driver noticed something was different.

Somewhere a voice shouted “cut!”

This wasn’t your normal Wednesday morning at the Trolley Car.

Out front, giant stage lights shined through white screens washing the vintage building in a pale glow. Orange cones and hand-drawn signs cordoned off access to the popular neighborhood destination and several anonymous-looking production trucks sat on the Avenue in various stages of unpacking. The space behind the trolley bustled with “key grips,” “best boys” and “gaffers” and any number of other specialists in the craft of movie making.

On this day the diner wasn’t a diner at all, but the setting for a scene in the upcoming feature film “Right Hand Man,” a Bollywood - yes Bollywood - project of Yash Raj Productions.

“It’s a really lovely little film,” said Amy Cutler, the locations manager for the project. “It’s kind of a coming to America story.”

Cutler used one of the green outdoor tables as a desk. She was on the phone constantly, trying to set up the next shooting sites. The conversations touched on the Wachovia Center, the massive FDR Park in South Philadelphia and a hunt for an elusive bathroom setting with just the right qualities.

Cutler didn’t want to give up more about the bathroom scene. In fact, she was pretty close-lipped about most details of the movie.

It’s the nature of the business, she explained. As a freelance locations manager based in Philadelphia she wanted to make sure nothing in the way of spoiling details got out through her.

“Rolling-rolling,” a voice announced over a radio mounted to someone’s belt.

Indian men with trim dark hair, wearing short-sleeved button up t-shirts milled about the place with shaggy-looking white men in an amalgam of printed cotton pullovers. Each group appeared to have a different set of responsibilities but the breakdown wasn’t obvious. There weren’t many women there.

Several “doormen,” for lack of a better term, crowded the diner’s entrance with Secret Service-style radio earpieces wiring them to some distant center. They made sure no one disturbed the work going on just behind the door.

Inside, the front section of the diner was closed off with a curtain. They were shooting up there. People gathered silently behind the curtain as the camera rolled, trying not to trip on the electrical cords crisscrossing the floor under foot. In the deli section, film workers leaned close together and talked in whispers, and many of the tables in the side dining room resembled Cutler’s makeshift desk.

It was a huge effort for just a few seconds - maybe a minute or two - of film. 

One thing Cutler did say was how impressed she was at the efficiency of Yash Raj and its American subsidiary Ring of Fire Productions. Not only did the Indian crew and the American subcontractors work together as if they had been doing so forever, but they were fast to boot.

For the demands of this particular scene, “another company would be here for four days,” she said. “We’re in and out of here in one day.”

That was fine with Trolley Car Owner Ken Weinstein. He was nervous enough about closing his business for Wednesday.

“We want to be open to our customers every day,” he said. “But we think that on special occasions they’ll understand.” Besides, it turned out that the workers, who he was also nervous about disappointing, were okay with the break. In fact, Weinstein said, “they were very much looking forward to a day off.”

The Trolley Car has been in film before. There was once a shoot there featuring Oscar winner Louis Gossett, Jr., and more recently a webisode was shot in the restaurant. As Weinstein looks at it, it’s not too surprising films would seek out places like his.

“Diners are part of Americana and I can see them naturally fitting into a lot of movies,” he said.

With that in mind, Weinstein registered the Trolley Car with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office as a possible shooting site, but how it was “discovered” for this movie seemed a bit more direct.

Cutler scouted numerous Philadelphia area diners herself for this film but it wasn’t until some people involved with the film (she wouldn’t say who) actually ate at the Trolley Car that it became a lock.

“They were like, ‘this is it,’” she said.

And when she saw the place herself, she understood why. “It’s the whole look of it, the feel that it has – the big open windows for natural light,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful space.”

Some of the other basic details that Cutler refused to release, (and for that matter so did Ring of Fire Production’s President, Sridar Rao, who did not return calls for this article) were the names of the featured actors in the film, or the film’s director or its producers. Spoilers all, apparently.  

But a few details of the Trolley Car scene literally walked out of the diner at about noon, fresh from their roles on the set. They included a middle-aged blond white woman dressed in a tight black skirt and white blouse with a black nametag that read “T. Marshall”; a large, solid-looking man of about the same age, possibly meant to appear Native American, who wore a red flannel shirt, heavy work boots and long hair under a wide hat; a younger white woman with modest brown hair in a tight, brown business skirt and white top; and a tall African American man, also young, in a perfect gray suit.

Taken separately you might not notice any of them if they were eating breakfast in a diner. But all together, such a perfectly diverse group in such a quintessentially American setting for a “coming to America” movie – each of their roles could just about be imagined. Though imagination is probably where it will have to stay until the film comes out.  

At about the time these extras headed back off to work, a couple walking their dog past the diner stopped to address one of the stagehands striding into the Avenue toward an open truck with a sign that read, “Film Crew Only.” The woman holding the dog turned nearly in a circle to catch the crewman’s attention.

“What are they filming here?” she asked.

“It’s a film,” the stagehand said without slowing down. Obviously he was worried about spoilers too.

“Oh,” the woman said. And she paused a moment, perhaps to imagine, before continuing on her walk.

Over someone’s radio a voice said, “Rolling-rolling.”

Battle Re-enactment Highlights 2009 Revolutionary Germantown Festival

The battle for freedom will be fought in Historic Germantown: Freedom’s Backyard on Saturday, October 3. Spend the day with family and friends at the Revolutionary Germantown Festival featuring two Battle of Germantown reenactments taking place at Cliveden of the National Trust at noon and 3 p.m. and a day full of crafts, entertainment and exhibits throughout Historic Germantown. This year, festival attendees will also learn of the battle’s aftermath and the community’s response, through activities held along Germantown Avenue.

Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Avenue, was the site of the Battle of Germantown, and has sponsored the battle reenactments for more than 30 years. Germantown is the only location in Philadelphia where a battle was fought during the Revolutionary War, literally in the backyards of residents. The Festival will feature two battle reenactments, complete with soldiers in period uniforms staging General George Washington’s attack on the British soldiers, attempting to liberate Philadelphia on October 4, 1777.

Visitors can enjoy even more activities at the Revolutionary Germantown Festival from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. At Upsala, located across the street from Cliveden on Germantown Avenue, guests can meet Ned Hector, an African American teamster who participated in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Nearby, visitors can attend the I’ll Take no Tea performance by Tucker’s Tales Puppet Theater. The performance is a look at the Tea Party craze of 1773-74 complete with live music and historical costumes and will take place from 11–11:30 am. New this year will be a craft show, held in Cliveden’s Carriage House, featuring the work of regional artisans. Admission to the craft show is $3 and includes a commemorative event book.

What did the Quaker and Mennonite communities think about the battle? Learn what happened once the smoke cleared at open houses at the Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse, 6133 Germantown Avenue, and at Wyck, 6026 Germantown Avenue. In addition, an annual tribute to the fallen soldiers will be held at the Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground, 6309 Germantown Avenue. The grounds were the scene of intense fighting during the Battle of Germantown, and contain the graves of 31 American soldiers who died in the fight; many of them buried that afternoon by local teenage boys. The ceremony will be led by the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment honor guard, from 2–2:30 pm. An admission fee or Festival Passport is required for Wyck.

Tours will also be conducted throughout the day at Deshler Morris House, 5512 Germantown Avenue, where visitors can learn about the battle through a new interactive orientation exhibit and talk with General Howe, portrayed by a historical reenactor.  Deshler Morris House is commonly known as Germantown’s White House, having twice served as the temporary home and refuge of George Washington and his family. Deshler Morris House is free and open to the public.

Also open to the public will be the Germantown Historical Society, 5501 Germantown Avenue, featuring a special exhibit focusing on the design of the Great Seal of Germantown. An admission fee or Festival Passport is required.

To end the day, visitors are invited to a traditional Oktoberfest celebration at Grumblethorpe, 5267 Germantown Avenue, for music, German food, beer and more. Free house tours will be available during this special event.

The Revolutionary Germantown Festival is free and open to the public, except where noted.  For $15, visitors can also purchase a Festival Passport that is valid for one-time admission to each of the participating historic sites in Freedom’s Backyard for one full year in addition to neighboring attractions – 14 in all. Participating attractions include Cliveden/ Upsala, Concord School,  Deshler Morris House, Germantown Historical Society, Grumble-thorpe, Historic RittenhouseTown, Johnson House, Stenton and Wyck.

Information on the Revolutionary Germantown Festival is at For information on Historic Germantown: Freedom’s Backyard, visit

Oktoberfest at Brewer’s Outlet

An Oktoberfest party will be held at Brewer’s Outlet, 7401 Germantown Avenue, on Saturday, October 3 from 1-6 p.m.  There will be free beer tastings by Beck’s, Brooklyn, Flying Dog, Flying Fish, Hacker-Pschor, Harpoon, Hofbrau, Lancaster, Leinenkugel, Paulaner, Sam Adams, Sly Fox, Spaten, Summit, Victory, Warsteiner, Weyerbacher and others. Free food will be catered by the Trolley Car Diner. There will be beverage specials, and door  prizes and gifts. Wear your lederhosen and receive a free beer stein!

Stapeley In Germantown, 6300 Greene Street, will host the Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Education and Support Group on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 6 -7:30 p.m., Stapeley Hall conference room. Anyone who is a caregiver or family member of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia is welcome to attend. The group has meetings teach month at Stapeley. Call 215-844-0700.

Vernon House Celebrates 80th

The Night Kitchen Bakery in Chestnut Hill was commissioned to create a three dimensional birthday cake in the likness of the Vernon House Co-op apartments for their 80th birthday, which was celebrated on Sunday, September 20. Jennifer Low, one of the Night Kitchen’s pastry chefs, re-created the three brick buildings using fondant icing. The mocha and yellow cakes were covered with icing, hand painted and adorned with such architectural details as brick quoining and patina-ed bay windows.

Vernon House Co-op, 6445 Greene Street, has been owned and operated by its tenants since 1988. Vernon House was originally built as luxury apartments in what was in 1929 suburban Philadelphia. Designed by architect Charles Schaef, built by the Colonial Apartments and managed by Shubin Building Co., the original U-shaped structure featured a landscaped courtyard that is still the gathering place for today’s members.

 By the early 1970s, the buildings had fallen into disrepair, and Vernon House tenants staged a widely publicized rent strike. The tenants bought the building the following year, and the ground-work for a co-op was in place. By 1984, it was possible for the plan to come to fruition. As of 2009, Vernon House is one of three limited equity co-op apartment buildings in Philadelphia.

The annual “Scare-A-Crow” event will be held Sunday, October 4 1-4 p.m. at Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Avenue, rain or shine. Come and create your own scarecrow to decorate your yard or the Mt. Airy business district.  Refreshments and materials will be provided, but feel free to bring extras to make yours unique! Large and small scarecrows are $5 each. The event is sponsored by the Mt. Airy Business Association. For more information call Catalina Bautista at Mr. Peeper’s Optical, 215-248-6070.

Khepera Pushes for More Parental Involvement

Khepera Charter School’s Wazuri Cultural Dancers thrilled the audience at the Wazuri Parents Council welcoming meeting September 23. Here from left are: Arnaijah Bryant, India Smith, Amiya Whitaker, Brittany Harley, Pravati Thomas, Hadeyia Toliver and Keyona Whitfield. Not pictured is Dance Facilitator Lisa Hopkins.


Staff Writer

Khepera Charter School, 144 West Carpenter Lane, held its first Wazuri Parents Council event on Wednesday, September 23, as both a celebration and an attempt to recruit more parents to the school effort.

There was food, dance and music performed by student Wazuri Dancers and Drummers, and a general introduction to the Khepera experience. Much of that experience centers on a school culture that draws primarily from African traditions.

“Khepera,” for example means “rising sun” in Kiswahili, according to Richard Isaac, president of the school’s Board of Trustees. Isaac provided the parents with a little introduction. Wazuri means “good people,” and “ashe” means, “yes.”

“If we are to succeed it has to be because of you,” Isaac told the parents. “You have to understand what we’re teaching your children so you can say ashe or nay.”

In addition to using models drawn from different cultural traditions in Africa to organize the school, Khepera also offers courses that explore the interaction of African traditions with the rest or world culture. One example, new this semester, is the Capoeira class offered to students in first through eighth grades. The acrobatic ritual combat dance derived from transplanted African populations in Brazil during European expansion into Africa and the Americas.

“Since the 16th century it popped up in Brazil, and so many people don’t even know what it is,” said instructor Shannon Moore. “It was used by enslaved Africans to protect themselves.”

The Wazuri Parents Council wants to continue a push it began in the spring to re-enliven parental involvement in the school. According to parent organizer Danyella Sellers, participation was waning up to about six months ago.

“I wanted to create and area for parents to get involved to assist Khepera to grow,” she said of the new Wazuri efforts.

Last year the parent council’s big push was for a talent show fundraiser, which raised $3,800 and funded the first phase of a much-needed new playground at the school.

“Harambe Khepera!” the parents’ voices shouted.

This year Wazuri hopes to repeat the talent show and build on its success by organizing a health expo in November.

Khepera Charter School opened on the picturesque Mt. Airy setting in 2004 to serve 275 students. This year its enrollment will expand to 400 as the school occupies a second building on the campus. The School Reform Commission renewed Khepera’s charter for a five-year period in May with several conditions relating to Board of Trustee policies and practices.

School Chief Executive Officer, Carol Parkinson-Hall, or “Mama Hall” as the students call her, was happy to see all the new faces at the Wazuri event.

“Khepera Charter School is going to go off the charts in a couple of years,” she said. “And you sitting here tonight have to be involved.”

OARC Energy Conservation Block Party

OARC takes the lead to present an Urban Energy Conservation Block Party for residents in the 7900 block of Gilbert Street on Saturday, Oct. 3, at 10 a.m.  The block party addresses core components in the move towards a greener environment and complements the “Greenworks Philadelphia” program and fosters community participation and stewardship.

Urban Energy Conservation Block Party activities will directly impact our carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption of residents.   Residents will receive training in ‘best practices’ for weatherization, energy efficiency, and green curb appeal delivered by project collaborators and environmental service providers.  Student volunteers will work with residents to switch-out water devices, light bulbs and shower heads replacing them with energy efficient models.  Information tables with interactive demonstrations and ‘how-to’ clinics will be on-site as well.

Elected officials taking part include host State Rep. Cherelle Parker, State Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, and invited guests Senator LeAnna Washington,  Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, State Rep. John Myers,  and Governor Edward Rendell.

Northwest Zoning Hearings

The following hearings will be held next week at the Zoning Board of Adjustments, 1515 Arch Street, on the 18th floor.

All information is according to the Community Alerting Service of the Housing Association of Delaware Valley.

Wednesday, October 7, 2 p.m.: 7133 Germantown Avenue. One use permit. Application for the erection of one pipe-mounted dish antenna on the roof of an existing structure for use as a wireless service in the same building with use as follows: 1st floor front space at 7133 - eat-in/take out restaurant;  space at 7135 - eat-in only restaurant; space at 7137 - retail sale of art goods; space at 7139 - video store with accessory preparing and serving of food for take-out; space at 7141 - used clothing store, 1st floor rear, space at 7133-41 - storage of household goods and appliances; 2nd floor space at 7133-35 – six offices; space at 7141 – two dwelling units.

Wednesday, October 7, 2 p.m.: 18 West Willow Grove Avenue. Permit for the preparation and serving of food for take out (food, coffee and ice cream) as part of an existing retail grocery store on the same floor as an existing storage facility and a single family dwelling with a management office and storage facility “attic” level with all previously approved uses within an existing structure (building a) – adult day care center (63) persons on first floor and storage facility floors 2 and 3 with all previously approved uses within existing structure (building b). No sign on this application.

Explore Wissahickon with FOW Trail Ambassadors

The Friends of the Wissahickon (FOW) are offering free nature walks in Wissahickon Valley Park this fall led by FOW Trail Ambassadors.   The Trail Ambassador program was launched in 2008 in partnership with the Fairmount Park Commission. These volunteers share their knowledge of the Wissahickon with park users after completing an eight-week training course which covers Wissahickon history, watersheds, current park projects, wildlife, geology, plants, park rules and regulations, and first aid/CPR. Their primary role is to provide information to park visitors about Wissahickon Valley Park and report any problems they see to Fairmount Park Rangers.

Please bring your own water and snacks to the guided walks. Changes or cancellations will be posted at The schedule includes:

Woodsy Trek with Bruce Wagner is Saturday, October 3, 10 a.m. and Tuesday, October 6, 10 a.m. Meet at the Valley Green Inn horse shed for a hike to visit the legendary Indian with discussion of history and current use of park. The tour should last around 1½-2 hours. Children, accompanied by a responsible adult, are welcome so long as their parents believe they can manage themselves, the trails, and the hills. Heavy rain cancels. For further information contact Bruce at

Saturday, October 10, 10:30 a.m. Meet at the Valley Green Inn warming sheds. Learn a little about the history of the natural and man-made environments of the Wissahickon while strolling south from Valley Green to the Mt. Airy Avenue Bridge and back along the east side of the creek, over the Finger Span Bridge and through the Devil’s Pool area. The walk lasts about an hour and a half (two miles) with some moderate slopes.

Wissahickon Geology with Sarah West is Sunday, October 18, 2:30-4:00 p.m. Meet at the Valley Green Inn. This rock-talk and field trip is suitable for children over ten accompanied by an adult. West will discuss the possible Precambrian formation of the Wissahickon rocks. Participants will learn to identify five different types of rocks, and then look at the rocks on the east side of the creek from the Valley Green Bridge north toward the Magargee Dam. Heavy rain cancels. For further information e-mail to

Ecology Walk with Scott Quitel is Saturday, October 24, 9:30 a.m. Meet at head of the White Trail near the intersection of Hortter Street and Park Line Drive. This moderately strenuous, 2.5 mile hike focuses on the major plant communities, geology, wildlife, and hydrology of the Wissahickon gorge. This walk will include upper gorge sections along the White Trail and lower sections along the Orange Trail. Interesting rock formations, plant life, wildlife habitat, and stream sections and awesome scenery will be encountered and discussed. Differences between the upper gorge and lower gorge will also be noted. For more information call 215-802-7648 or e-mail

Meandering in the Wissahickon with Shelly Brick is Saturday, October 31, 2 p.m. Meet at the gate at the end of Kitchen’s Lane Parking lot. Come enjoy our park and talk stories. Children ages six and up are welcome if accompanied by an adult. The walk will last 1½-2 hours. The pace will be set by the group. For further information e-mail to

Music, Scarecrows and More at Morris Fall Festival

Mark you calendars for October 3 and 4 for a whole weekend of fall fun at the Morris Arboretum in Chestnut Hill. The weekend includes: an XPN Kids Corner concert with John Flynn, making Garden Headdresses, 30 designer scarecrows on display, spectacular fall color as seen from the treetops of Out on a Limb, Great American Lighthouses at the Garden Railway display, and the ever-popular Fall Festival.

On Saturday, Oct. 3, at 2 p.m., the Morris Arboretum extends its XPN Kids Corner at the Arboretum concert series into fall with folk music performer John Flynn, a popular artist on Kids Corner with a strong following in the area.  For more about John Flynn visit

Also on Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. is the Morris Arboretum’s Garden Discovery series, “Making a Garden Headdress.” Using grasses, natural materials and your own sense of style, visitors will create a unique headdress to wear during their visit and to continue the fashion statement at home. Learn more about using grasses as mulch in your own garden, too.

Beginning Saturday, October 3 through October 18, 30 designer scarecrows will be on display along Scarecrow Walk at the Oak Allée. Visitors can place their votes for the “People’s Choice” winning scarecrow and the designer will win a grand prize of $200, an Arboretum membership, and Arboretum dollars toward one free Continuing Education course (up to $50). Scarecrows will leave the Morris Arboretum (with their designers) in plenty of time to be displayed at home for Halloween.

On Sunday, Oct. 4, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s the Morris Arboretum’s annual Fall Festival. The Arboretum’s glorious landscape provides the perfect backdrop as families gather to make scarecrows, paint a pumpkin, taste various varieties of apples, and enjoy a wonderful afternoon together. 

Scarecrow making has long been a family favorite at Fall Festival. For $10 members, $12 non-members, the Arboretum supplies all the materials, including the scarecrow frames, hay and a vast selection of clothing. This is serious business for many folks who are intent on having the “best-dressed” scarecrow around. Visitors are encouraged to come early for scarecrow-making, as many visitors head right to that area to ensure their pick of the best outfit.

Kids also enjoy choosing and creating a pumpkin “masterpiece.”  Pumpkins can be purchased and painted in a variety of colors and decorated with glitter, yarn, pompoms and doilies. Other activities will include the ever popular face painting; Mike Dupuy, master falconer, who will show off his wonderful birds of prey and demonstrate the 4,000 year old art and sport of falconry; plus a whole host of other surprises!

Weavers Way Co-op will be joining the fun once again, with a selection of organic, locally-grown produce and other Co-op products. Visitors can delight in sampling the various apple varieties and choosing an assortment to take home.

The Garden Railway featuring Great American Lighthouses is open through October 12 where visitors can see model trains zipping along a quarter mile outdoor track surrounded by some of the country’s most historic lighthouses in perfect replica.

The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 East Northwestern Avenue in Chestnut Hill. For more information visit

Seminar on Restaurant Ownership

Owning a restaurant is a romantic notion shared by many would-be entrepreneurs.  A new seminar by Harris Eckstut, “The Dollars and Sense of Owning a Restaurant,”  injects a much-needed dose of realism into the fantasy for individuals who dream of one day becoming a restaurateur, as well as for those interested in investing in one.

“The Dollars and Sense of Owning a Restaurant” will be held Tuesday, October 6 and 13, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, 4207 Walnut Street.  Tuition is $75.

To register go to

In this seminar, Eckstut shares his knowledge from over twenty years as a successful Philadelphia restaurant owner. Eckstut, as the principal at Eckstut Restaurant Consulting (, educates business owners on leasing and development, operational analysis and planning, restaurant turnarounds, and business plans for the independent or prospective restaurant owner throughout the East Coast.  He also evaluates business plans, operations and budgets for banks, attorneys, investors, developers, and community organizations. Eckstut owned the MontSerrat Restaurant on South Street for 20 years and has over 30 years experience in the independent restaurant industry. As part of his restaurant advisory services he is working to bring new restaurants to the Mt Airy Business District.

WMAN Zoning Committee to Meet

All are welcome to attend the next West Mt. Airy Neighbors’ Zoning Committee meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Summit Presbyterian Church (upstairs parlor – enter on Greene Street side), 6757 Greene Street.

The WMAN Zoning Committee enables public input into, and makes recommendations to Philadelphia’s Zoning Board of Adjustment regarding applications for zoning variances and use certificates. The October meeting’s agenda includes consideration of these matters:

• 540 Carpenter Lane:  Application to use property as single family dwelling

• 6316 Germantown Avenue:  Application to use property as a day care center

For more information about the meeting, email WMAN at or call 215-438-6022.

Public Zoning Meeting

The Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission invites you to a public hearing about updating the Philadelphia Zoning Code on Wednesday, October 7, 6-8 p.m., in City Council Chambers, 4th floor, City Hall. The Agenda includes summary of work to date, responding to public priorities, key recommended changes, and opportunities for public input. Please bring picture identification to access City Hall from the Northeast Corner For more information, visit

Accupuncturists Without Borders

On Saturday, Oct. 24, at Springboard Studio, 530 Carpenter Lane, local residents will have an opportunity to experience the deep calm and sense of well being of Community-Style Acupuncture while supporting the work of Acupuncturists Without Borders.

Mt. Airy acupuncturist Susan Bloch will join acupuncturists nationwide volunteering their time and expertise to offer group acupuncture events in their communities.   There is no set charge for these events; a donation of $20 is suggested, with all proceeds going to support AWB.

AWB began as a response to the devastation of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. Volunteers offered free Community-Style Acupuncture to residents, relief workers, first responders and military; 8000 people in New Orleans were treated with group acupuncture in 2005-2006.

AWB continues to provide treatment to those suffering trauma from disasters, including:  California wildfires in 2007, Iowa floods in 2008, and the current fires in California. AWB has a growing program to provide free acupuncture to military, veterans, and their families.  Local acupuncturists are working to start one of these free clinics in Philadelphia.

Acupuncture is an ancient medicine that is low tech, uses little fossil fuels, relies on the healing power of nature, and has tremendous results. Participants in Community-Style Acupuncture remain fully clothed and seated. Treatment lasts 30-45 minutes and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and trouble sleeping; it provides a general sense of well-being and calm.

There will be two sessions on October 24, at  1:30 and 4 p.m. Contact Susan Bloch, M.Ac., R.N. at 215-844-7675  for more information, or to make a tax-deductible donation to AWB.

Benefit Concert at Stapeley

Stapeley In Germantown will host a Soulful Jazz and Blues Café featuring the Queen of Soulful Jazz, Barbara Walker, on Saturday, Oct.10, 7-11 p.m. The event, held at Stapeley, 6300 Greene Street, is sure to be a good time and to get you up and dancing. Tickets are $50 and include a silent auction, light fare, adult beverages, and soft drinks. All proceeds to benefit Benevolent Care, which helps offset some of the costs of providing help to qualified individuals who need assistance to cover the cost of medication, insurance, personal effects and room and board.

For tickets or more information, call 267-350-2486 or visit

Big Backyard Flea Market

More than 40 families are donating items for a yard sale to benefit The Big Backyard Preschool. The yard sale will take place Saturday, October 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church, 240 East Gowen Avenue. The raindate is October 10.

The Big Backyard is a licensed, accredited, parent-run cooperative preschool, founded in 1952, for kids aged from 2 years, 7 months to pre-K. For information call 215-248-0919.

Presentation/Reading by Civil Rights Lawyer

David Kairys, a Mt. Airy resident and professor at Temple Law School, will be giving a presentation/reading and signing his most recent book, Philadelphia Freedom, Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer, at Walk a Crooked Mile Books in the Mt. Airy Train Station at Gowen Avenue and Devon Street on Saturday, October 3, noon to 1 p.m. In some of the highlights of the book, Kairys stopped police sweeps of minority neighborhoods in Philadelphia, won the leading race discrimination and harassment case against the FBI, and represented Dr. Benjamin Spock in a free speech case before the Supreme Court. For questions call 215-242-0854.

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From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

October 1, 2009

MABA’s Weird Waste Day

City Cancels Contract with Germantown Settlement

‘Bollywood’ on the Avenue: Film Shoots Scene at Trolley Car

Battle Re-enactment Highlights 2009 Revolutionary Germantown Festival

Oktoberfest at Brewer’s Outlet

Vernon House Celebrates 80th

Khepera Pushes for More Parental Involvement

OARC Energy Conservation Block Party

Northwest Zoning Hearings

Explore Wissahickon with FOW Trail Ambassadors

Music, Scarecrows and More at Morris Fall Festival

Seminar on Restaurant Ownership

WMANZoning Committee to Meet

Public Zoning Meeting

Accupuncturists Without Borders

Benefit Concert at Stapeley

Big Backyard Flea Market

Presentation, Reading by Civil Rights Lawyer