From the Independent • Mt. Airy News Stories

October 29, 2009

In This Issue

Mt. Airy Turns Out in All Its Variety for ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’

New Media Charter Not in Compliance with SRC Mandates

Butkovitz, Schmidt Square Off in Controller’s Race

Who is Alan Butkovitz?

Who is Al Schmidt?

GHS Trounces Lincoln for White Division Title

Heartwarming ‘Almost, Maine’ Comes to Old Academy

Poetry at Bread and Cup

Showcase Your Abilities at Talent Search

14th Toy Drive

Ghost of the Great Road: Do Restless Spirits Haunt Hallowed Ground?

Halloween at Weavers Way Ogontz

Trick or Treat Under Big Top with UniverSoul

Whispers Along the Wissahickon

Stenton on Halloween

Annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade

FUMCOGInvites Applicants for Community Grants

Gift of Life Prayer Breakfast at GBC

Upcoming Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

Pastoral Anniversary at First Born

Prospective Student Day at LTSP

St. Michael’s Collects Funds, Books for Emlen School

Revival at Woodcrest

Discussions on Peace Prospects

Wellness Walks Beginning at Morris Arboretum

Zoning Hearings Affecting the Northwest

Leaf Collection Schedule

Community Yard Sale Rescheduled

Emergency Preparedness Workshops

About the Phillies

Series Win Would Truly Ice Phils’ Cake

Share Your Memories of Germantown’s Past

OARC Awards

Depression Study at CIP

Mt. Airy Turns Out in All Its Variety for

‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’

Left to right: David and Rhonda Cohen, honorary co-chairs, “Guess who’s Coming to Dinner”; Rene Krey, event co-chair; Farah Jimenez, executive director, Mt. Airy, USA; and Dr. Philip Krey, event co-chair. 


Staff Writer

Mt. Airy’s answer to a red carpet affair was a success last Saturday night as the Sixth Annual Mt. Airy USA (MAUSA) fundraiser, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” brought in the who’s who of northwest celebrities in a fittingly anti-pretentious way.

“The concept was built around how to create a framing event where people can come as they are and is renewed every year,” MAUSA Executive Director Farah Jimenez explained. “And it’s sort of built on the Mt. Airy ethos of debate and conversation.”

So for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, what might normally be called a gala affair and diner party becomes something more like a get together among friends – friends of Mt. Airy that is.

“It was smaller before,” said celebrity dinner table host and Chief Operating Officer of the Philadelphia Commerce Department, Kevin Dow, who’s been to the event for most of its history. “It’s gotten a little bit bigger.”

About as big as it can get, actually. Now that word of the region’s most conversational fundraiser has gotten around it tends to sell out of every spot in the Commodore Barry Club’s giant ballroom at 6818 Emlen Street. And if 34 celebrity hosts are not enough to facilitate good dinner table conversations the massive collection of silent auction items and the buzzing pre-diner reception certainly are.

MAUSA board member and baseball fanatic Anuj Gupta was particularly taken by some of the items to bid on: World Series tickets, sure enough, but also box seats at the Camden River Sharks and a group of passes to the Reading Phillies minor league games. Gupta was impressed with that package.

“If you’re a baseball fan, Reading is one of the oldest minor league stadiums in the country,” he explained to a surrounding group. It’s also one of the last places left where the teams need to pass through the building’s concourse with all the fans before taking the field every game, he said.

For Marcus “Doc” Coleman the silent auction spread was just his kind of shopping.

“I’ve got to find the in-law gifts. Sisters in-law and a weekend getaway for us,” he said.

But it might have been MAUSA’s personal impact that came through the clearest on the rainy October night. For a 29-year old community development corporation born out of the surrounding neighborhood groups and devoted to the place where most of these guests live or have lived, it was sometimes hard to separate that impact from the fabric of the Mt. Airy experience.  

Former Mt. Airy resident Ken Payne was one example. He keeps supporting MAUSA and buying tickets to the annual dinner despite his recent move to Drexel Hill.

“It’s all about the philosophy and the outreach and what they’re trying to do.” he said. For Payne it was a given that diverse, vibrant communities don’t just happen, you have to work at them. And that’s “something you really don’t miss until you leave Mt. Airy,” he said.

Yet even with a cast of enthusiastic cheerleaders the diner table hosts took their responsibility for delivering enjoyable, engaging conversations seriously. Mt. Airy authors Lise Funderburg and Miriam Peskowitz, both veteran hosts, compared techniques during the pre-dinner reception.

“If you’re really good, you’ll get up and move around your table,” Funderburg said.

Peskowitz thought that was a good idea – the noise sometimes makes it hard to hear everyone. But she had her own tricks too: she made sure to pack small gifts for everyone at her table to make them feel welcome.

The approach was a little different for David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, who co-chaired the event with his wife Rhonda, and Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia President Dr. Phillip Krey and his wife René.

“We’ll see where the table wants to go,” Cohen said, smiling.

He looked at ease, as if his duties for the night didn’t weigh on him at all. And judging by the time he seemed to be having, perhaps they didn’t.

“This is one of the best events in Philadelphia because it’s informal, it’s fun,” he said. “It’s terrific informal conversations and you get to meet interesting people… I just think that it’s one of these events that have people come to it and they always want to come back.”

New Media Charter Not in Compliance with SRC Mandates


Staff Writer

For the second month in a row the Board of Trustees of  New Media Technology Charter School has declined to comply with School Reform Commission (SRC) mandates calling for a replacement of the school’s leadership.

The SRC voted in August to renew New Media’s charter for five years, despite ongoing investigations brought on by alleged financial mismanagement and conflicts of interest involving the school’s Chief Executive Officer, Ina Walker, and Board Chair, Hugh Clark.

In the charter renewal decision the SRC mandated 25 conditions that the school would have to meet in order to remain open. Chief among those conditions was the resignation or removal by the school’s board of Walker, Clark and some of the board members by September 1, and the rest of the current board by October 15. The school has bucked those requirements by not holding board meetings, which are also required by law.

But no matter how things may look, Benjamin Rayer, the chief charter, partnership and new schools officer for the school district, said there are no plans to let New Media off the hook.

“We have not changed anything at this time,” Rayer said. “Some deadlines have passed and each month the School Reform Commission is updated on the status of New Media. At the moment the School Reform Commission wants the staff to continue to work with the school to comply with all of the conditions in the resolution.”

The school, which accepts $4.3 million in public funds each year, once neglected to pay the employers’ portion of retirement benefits for its teachers for more than a year, between December 2007 and February 2009. In addition, school district investigators have been looking into allegations of inappropriate financial connections between New Media and two other interests of Walker and Clark: the Germantown private school Lotus Academy, and a Mt. Airy health food store and restaurant, the Black Olive.

Several of the charter renewal conditions appear targeted at severing all ties with the current school leadership, including a provision requiring all trustees or employees of New Media not to share positions with Lotus Academy. Clark was president of both school boards during New Media’s first five years of operation while New Media rented its Middle School facility at 340 East Haines Street from Lotus Academy, which it continues to do. And according to public records, Lotus and New Media have maintained other financial relationships in the past. 

However, the school performs relatively well academically. It met federal No Child Left Behind standards last year and each member of last year’s 79-member graduating class was accepted to some form of post-secondary education, according to Clark and Walker. In addition, on a recent evening, a small crowd of New Media high school students was gathered at a bus stop close to the school. Many of these students praised the school and expressed great pride in it. They characterized it as safe and called it a good place to learn and be your self.

Though Rayer would not go into detail about the ongoing discussions concerning New Media, he indicated that taxpayers would not have to wait much longer for an update on the subject.

“We expect in the near future to share more with the public,” he said.

Phone calls to Clark and Walker asking for comment were not returned. 

Butkovitz, Schmidt Square Off in Controller’s Race


Staff Writer

Al Schmidt jokes that he expects to be buried in concrete before the end of his run for City Controller. It is a not-so-veiled reference to a long history of governmental corruption in Philadelphia.

But it’s a serious issue for him too as the leading opposition candidate for the position of Philadelphia’s chief financial watchdog. As one who studies political history – he holds a doctorate in the field – he sees the city’s current Democratic-dominated machine as a parallel to the corruption-filled Republican Philadelphia of the 1940s. Without political tension the opportunities for corruption are rife, he said.

It got his hackles up that Mayor Michael Nutter issued his first political endorsement from his office in May for the sitting City Controller, Alan Butkovitz.

“It’s an independent agency,” Schmidt said. “There should be some tension there. If they like you, you’re probably not doing your job.”

And even though he feels Butkovitz has mischaracterized him as a right-wing political operative, he doesn’t want to shy away from his party. In fact, being a Republican should be an asset in the job of controller, he thinks – good for balance and tension.

If you asked him for evidence about how this supposed lack of tension plays out in the current controller’s office he might mention a few things: lack of required department-by-department yearly financial audits, for one. And there’s problem of the chronically under- funded city pension program, plus one of the country’s most expensive public healthcare plans, which offers no city oversight into how unions spend healthcare contract dollars. And he might mention something about how the two things together are dragging down the entire city budget, so there’s no easy medicine for what ails the city’s finances.

For Schmidt, while the City Controller may not have the power to audit union books on healthcare or issue a once-and-for-all fix to the pension program which has been a problem since the 1980s, the office should be one of the loudest voices educating the public on these issues.

“I would think the City Controller would be outspoken about the city’s choice not to balance the pension fund,” he said of this year’s budget, which calls for a two-year deferral of payments to the pension plan – something that will make the city’s future obligation bigger.

Schmidt also claimed that Butkovitz’s decision not to run yearly financial audits on every city department is not only a violation of Charter requirements for the job, but it means when financial troubles turn up, it’s old news.

“It reads more like an historical document,” Schmidt said of some of Butkovitz’s reports. “As opposed to what you could have done if you’d been manning the store.”

But for Butkovitz all of this doesn’t quite add up.

“We comply with the City Charter,” he said.

By conducting two comprehensive audits every year, one of the city government, and the other of the school district, his office accomplishes the department-by-department audits within a larger framework and that usually identifies huge savings.

“On the city-wide audit our office last year was responsible for $90 million in corrections statements,” Butkovitz said. “You have to give priority to the multimillion dollar issues.”

Since he took office, Butkovitz said, he has expanded performance audits, which evaluate the operations of city departments according to what they are supposed to be accomplishing. These audits can go deeper than straight financial audits because they get to the management culture of departments, he said.

An example was his June 2009 performance audit of City Council’s employment policies dating from fiscal year 2007. According to his report City Council has no written employment policies for its employees and no policy of conducting criminal background checks. This makes it impossible to accurately measure performance, track vacations, keep track of time worked and perform evaluations, the report said.

“City Council - for over twenty years we’ve been complaining about the very lax personnel and time policies,” Butkovitz said. “It’s not true that if you don’t get [departmental audits] this year, you’re nowhere. The problem is an issue of enforcing the standards in the departments… over time.”

In addition, he has instituted aggressive fraud investigations, he said. And on the issue of pensions, “I have been an advocate for paying more of what we owe,” he said.

As a member of the Pensions Board he was involved in managing the city’s investment in the Pension Fund, which was doing well before the 2008 market crash, he said. Still, he is an advocate of the defined benefit plan, he said, and not shifting some of the plan’s costs to workers, as the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), which oversees the city budget for the state, recommends. His initial recommendation for dealing with the pension crisis this year was to stretch out the city’s payment obligations over 40 years instead of what was previously a 20-year schedule.

On the subject of healthcare he called the price inflation a “national scandal,” but he noted that city contracts, not City Controller policies, dictate the levels of financial oversight on the plans.

And, he said, “Frankly, I don’t think the Controller should be involved in the labor contracts.”

Who is Alan Butkovitz?

He is the Democratic candidate for City Controller and he has held that position since he was first elected in 2005. This November will be his first attempt at reelection to that post. But Butkovitz is not an outsider to Pennsylvania politics.

Prior to becoming Philadelphia City Controller he served for 15 years as a state representative. His bills created the Office of the Safe School Advocate in the Philadelphia School District, he helped institute harsher penalties for some types of drunk driving, and he helped repeal a tax that required seniors to include social security, pensions and veteran’s benefits as taxable income.

Butkovitz is a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Overbrook High School and Temple University Law School.

What is the City Controller job all about?

“We have put a substantial emphasis on performance audits, which is the trend in the country… That’s one in which you determine whether the agencies are living up to the mission that they’ve stated to themselves.”

What he thinks of his opponent:

“He’s a right wing political operative… He’s a hard guy to pin down because he doesn’t have fingerprints in Philadelphia.”

Who is Al Schmidt?

He is the Republican candidate for City Controller. He worked as a senior analyst at the non-partisan U.S. Government Accountability Office – the investigative arm of Congress. In that role he was in charge of conducting performance audits of numerous federally funded programs and worked for Democrats as well as Republicans.

Before that he was a policy analyst for President Clinton’s Commission on Holocaust Assets in the United States from 1999 to 2001. His work helped to secure a $20 million civil settlement against the US Department of Justice on behalf of victims of Nazi persecution. And most recently he was Executive Director of the Philadelphia Republican Party for one year, which he resigned to enter the controller race.

Schmidt moved to Philadelphia in 2005 with his wife, Erin, who is a native of the city. He holds a PhD in political history from Brandeis University.

What is the City Controller job all about?

“To eliminate waste, find abuse and mismanagement of taxpayer dollars and to identify corruption… And to make financial audits of every department every year.”

What he thinks of his opponent:

“It’s hard to eliminate fraud when you aren’t even looking for it.”

GHS Trounces Lincoln for White Division Title

Staff Writer

In the locker room at Germantown High School the football team was silent last Friday night as storm clouds gathered outside, and the Public League White Division championship game against Abraham Lincoln High School approached. Pre-game is always quiet time for the Green and White. They do it as a team, because, as tailback Michelle Grace said, “nobody can tell you how to get your head together.”

But when the rain started falling and the lights burned at Benjamin L. Johnson Memorial Stadium, the Bears took the field in a roar that would carry them to a 30 to 12 pounding over Lincoln, a division title, and a trip to the unified Public League playoffs. The silence was gone.

Lincoln scored first on a pass to Omar Black from quarterback Nick McClausland but the Bears’ defense managed to turn away the two-point conversion.

“Every now and then their circuit breakers get jammed up and I have to clear out their circuit breakers,” said Coach Michael Hawkins of his Germantown team.

And whatever it took to get the Bears into the game that night, it worked. They answered with a drive and a short touchdown pass from quarterback Ramadan Abdullah to Eddie Callendar, followed by a successful two-point run in by Abdullah, which gave Germantown the lead.

As the chill rain picked up making the lights into a haze overhead, the Bears’ machine also intensified. The defense tightened up while the offense kept pushing down the field to set up a four-yard touchdown run by Abdulla followed by a conversion pass from him to Johnny Ellis.

But by the final two minutes of the first half, with the score 16 to 6 for Germantown it might have looked like Lincoln could still be in the game – if you didn’t blink.

After a tough Germantown drive Lincoln pass coverage was everywhere. Abdulla threw a hard high one meant for Tavio Thomas. The 31-yard pass landed in Lincoln hands at the edge of the goal line. The ball bobbled in the air as the Lincoln defender tried to pull it in. But somehow Thomas got an arm inside and came down with the completion, along with the third Germantown touchdown of the night.

Lincoln turned away the conversion at the goal line, but only seconds later Germantown special teams forced a fumble on the kick-off and David Nelson came up with the ball for the Bears deep in Lincoln territory.

From there it was gravy. Several quick plays and, with 1:24 left in the half, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Abdullah to Callendar followed by a two-point conversion by Demetrius Saunders gave Germantown an insurmountable lead.

As the second half began it was the Lincoln players who were the quiet ones. The third quarter went scoreless and Lincoln managed to rejuvenate its offense in the final minutes of the game for a second touchdown. But even here the Germantown defense rejected Lincoln’s conversion attempt.

Last year the Bears dropped the division championship game, and with all the struggles Germantown High has had over recent years a winning football team feels pretty good.

“We could use a shot in the arm around here,” Hawkins said.

While the Bears have some noticeable weapons on offense, building a wining team goes beyond individual skills, according to Hawkins. It’s about the whole picture. 


“You’ve got to have consistency,” he said. “Everybody’s got to be on the same page and everybody has to put forth the same effort. If you have a team like that you can go places” - places like next Friday’s first round public league playoff game against Frankford High School. 

“Frankford traditionally is one of the powerhouses,” Hawkins said. “So we’re going to have our hands full. We’re going to have to put forth the effort on all three sides of the game – offense, defense and special teams.”

But the players will try not to think about Friday until it comes. It seems the key to being a team is in the being - the here and now.

“Really the only thing left is practice,” Michelle Grace said following the game. “If our practice is good, we play well.”

Germantown’s playoff game against Frankford will be at home at Benjamin L. Johnson Memorial Stadium, 1140 East Sedgwick Street, at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 30. 

Heartwarming ‘Almost, Maine’ Comes to Old Academy

Pictured at rehearsal are Courtney Bambrick of East Falls, Christopher Schenk of Mt. Airy, and Michelle Moscicki of Roxborough.

Old Academy Players, 3540 Indian Queen Lane, is pleased to present the heartwarming comedy Almost, Maine by John Cariani.   The play, the second production of Old Academy’s 2009-10 season, runs from November 6-22.  Pictured here at rehearsal are Courtney Bambrick (of East Falls), Christopher Schenk (of Mt. Airy), and Michelle Moscicki (of Roxborough).

Set in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine, the play reveals what happens on a single cold night in the dead of winter when the northern lights appear. In a series of separate but interconnected vignettes, the residents of Almost fall in and out of love in unexpected and magical ways. As noted by Cariani, Almost, Maine is “a midwinter night’s dream . . . [a] really funny, really sad romance.”   

Almost, Maine is directed by Barbara Pease Weber and produced by Nancy Frick and Charlotte Higgins. It features the talents of a large cast of both Old Academy veterans and new faces. Tickets are $12; discount rates are available for groups of 15 or more. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m.; Sunday performances (November 15 and 22 only) are at 2 p.m. Parking is free.  For information and reservations call  215-843-1109 or visit  Special performances called “theater parties” (seating 110) are available to private groups on non-performance days and nights.  For information call  215-843-1109  and press “3” to leave a message for the Theater Party chairperson.

The Old Academy Players have provided continuous community theater for over 86 years. Both Grace Kelly and Robert Prosky started their acting careers at Old Academy.

Poetry at Bread and Cup

Victoria Peurifoy, pictured at a schoolyard poetry jam.

Bread and Cup Multicultural Coffeehouse will host the multi-talented Victoria Peurifoy as its headliner on Sunday, November 1, 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Germantown. Peurifoy, a twenty-one year resident of Germantown, has three self-published books and a CD to her credit.  Her latest books are In the Spring of My Remembrance, a book of poetry, prose, photography and memoirs, and No Expiration Date, a book of poetry for caregivers of cancer patients. She will soon be producing her second CD.  She is gaining popularity around the city and in New Jersey, with recent performances at the Germantown Poetry Festival in Vernon Park, Freedom Theatre, and an exhibition of her poetry and photography at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Kimmel Cancer Center.  In addition to being a regular at Bread and Cup, she also can be seen at Poet-i-fy and Wesley AME’s Poetry and Praise.  For this performance she will be accompanied by musicians and praise dancers.  There will also be a time of open microphone.

Bread and Cup is held the first Sunday of most months in the Longstreth Auditorium of the church, 35 W. Chelten Avenue.  Admission and refreshments are free, with contributions gratefully received.  For information contact Rev. Kevin Porter at 215-518-1675.

Showcase Your Abilities at Talent Search

OARC’s second season of The Rising Star Talent Search begins this month. This is a competition designed to give up-and-coming musicians and singers from the Greater Philadelphia region a chance to perform, gain exposure, and showcase their talent for the general public. 

Like the first season, there will be a series of twenty preliminary competitions starting on November 4 and ending March 31, 2010.  Four semi-finalist competitions will follow with two during each month of April and May.  The final competition will take place June 9.  The winner of The Rising Star Talent Search will perform at the 2010 West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival, and receive a $5,000 grand prize to be released following the Festival performance.  

Musical categories for the second season will be restricted to R&B, blues, and jazz. All contestants must meet the age requirements – age 18 or older.  Professional performers need not apply.  To schedule an audition, contact the Program Director at 215-927-5455 or email

For information, go to

14th Toy Drive

The officers of the 14th District Police Advisory Council will be sponsoring our annual Christmas toys and food giveaway for less fortunate families on Christmas Day, December 25 at 10 a.m. We are asking that if you know of any less-fortunate families in the community of the 14th District, please contact Officer Johns or Officer Johnson at 215-685-2147.

Ghost of the Great Road: Do Restless Spirits Haunt Hallowed Ground?


Guest Writer

In November of 1693, two parcels of public land were set aside in Germantown for use as a burying ground.  One of the half acre lots, located at what is now 6309 Germantown Avenue, came to be known as “The Upper Burying Ground” and was used as a neighborhood cemetery for local residents.  A host of notable citizens, including members of the Rittenhouse Family, Jacob Knorr, and Zachariah Paulson, were laid to rest on the site and their tombs can still be seen to this day.

During the Battle of Germantown in October, 1777, fighting between the British and Americans took place directly in front of the Burying Ground on Germantown Avenue.  At least eight soldiers who were killed during the fight were laid to rest in the cemetery.  An additional 50 Revolutionary War soldiers are also believed to have been laid to rest in the Burying Ground and a memorial in their honor is the centerpiece of the cemetery today.

With such a significant history and over 3,000 buried bodies, it’s surprising to find that no ghost stories exist about the site.  Usually a search at local libraries and archives would produce a newspaper article or personal account of ghosts, but in the case of the Upper Burying Ground, nothing exists.  An interview with staff and a personal tour with the caretaker revealed nothing as well.  To discover the haunted history of the Upper Burying Ground, a paranormal investigative team needed to be called. 

The Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators (FSPI) agreed to take on the task of exploring the supernatural side of Upper Burying Ground. The “ghost-busting” team from Philadelphia is a dedicated group of diverse individuals who offer free and discrete investigations.  They are searching for proof of the afterlife and use a variety of ghost-hunting equipment to verify their findings. On Friday, October 9, their search of the Upper Burying Ground began under a full moon and a cool fall breeze.

Their exploration of the site was part of a public program called “Ghost Hunting 101” which brought members of the public to the cemetery for an investigation.  While exploring the historic graveyard, FSPI event coordinator Frank Cassidy described what he feels was a “great deal of energy” at the site.  Cassidy stated that “I was not the only one to feel the energy of the place” and that “one girl actually began to cry and had to leave after becoming overwhelmed by the supernatural aura of the site.” 

Does this mean the place is haunted, though?  Cassidy is reluctant to jump to conclusions. 

“Before saying that the place is haunted, I would like to come through with my team and perform a real investigation of the place” he said. An official examination of the site requires personal time for the team to come in and properly interact with the environment without members of the public around.  “We didn’t get to do a full-blown investigation,” stated Cassidy, “but I’m sure if we did, something might turn up.”

Sandy Swank, an amateur ghost hunter who attended the event, agrees with Cassidy but still believes that the cemetery could be haunted anyway.  “While I didn’t get many feelings in the graveyard,” said Swank, “there is a local legend about the ghost of a Revolutionary War soldier haunting the Avenue directly in front of the property.”  Apparently in an old tale called “The Ghost of Chew’s Wall,” a ghost is described as jumping out at people near the intersection of Germantown and Washington Lane only steps from the Upper Burying Ground.

While nobody is willing to call the Upper Burying Ground haunted just yet, the site certainly does possess an aura of mystique.  Visitors who are interested in exploring the property for themselves can visit the Burying Ground and adjacent Concord School House on select Sundays or by appointment.  For further details about the Upper Burying Ground, please visit  More information about the Free Spirit Paranormal Investigators can be obtained at

Halloween at Weavers Way Ogontz

Join with Weavers Way Ogontz for Halloween fun from noon to 3 p.m., on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31 at Weavers Way Ogontz, 2129 72nd Avenue (intersection of Ogontz Avenue, Walnut Lane and 72nd Avenue).  Activities will include pumpkin painting for kids, a costume contest, candy giveaway, and much more, including hot cider and product samples. Come and get your Halloween festivities off to a great start!

Weavers Way Ogontz is a community-owned grocery store focusing on fresh, locally grown produce and other wholesome foods. The store is open Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Weavers Way Ogontz is part of Weavers Way Co-op, with stores in West Oak Lane, Mt. Airy, and opening soon in Chestnut Hill. For information call 215-276-0706.

Trick or Treat Under Big Top with UniverSoul

Calling all ghosts and goblins! In quintessential UniverSoul Circus style, ring in Halloween under the Big Top. Children and families are invited to a Trick and Treat Safe Zone sponsored by Shop Rite. Instructors from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts in Germantown will be on hand to lead special craft-making sessions. A haunted house, costume parade, face painting and games will guarantee a howlin’ good time. The event takes place Saturday, October 31. There are two shows – noon and 7:30 p.m. - next to the Mann Center for Performing Arts at Fairmont Park

UniverSoul brings its latest all-new production “The World in One Ring,” to The City Of Brotherly Love October 28 through November 15.

Tickets for UniverSoul Circus performances are $12 for individuals and $10 groups for weekday morning shows, and range from $16.50-$28 for adults and $15-$26 for children to 10 years, evenings and weekends. Tickets are available at,, by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. Lap children 11 months and under are admitted free.

Whispers Along the Wissahickon

Rain did not keep the crowd from Whispers Along the Wissahickon at the Andorra Tree house, one of the most popular events in the Northwest.

Adults and children enjoyed a casual dinner, hayrides, face painting, magic, live music, and creative crafts, and did not allow the weather to dampen their spirts.

Many came in costume like Georgia, Charlotte, and Chrisiana Reeves, pictured here.

The proceeds benefited the Friends of the Wissahickon.

Lead sponsor was Valley Green Bank. Other sponsors were Boccelli Restaurant, Bowman Properties, Eichler Moffly, Elfant Wissahickon, Gallo Family Vineyards, and O’Doodles.

Stenton on Halloween

Something creepy has taken over James Logan’s house Stenton for Halloween … the exact day Logan died in 1751! Join us for a spooky tour exploring the mysteries of the mansion and the Logan family. On Halloween the old residents like to revisit their beloved Stenton. Ghost tours will be held Saturday, October 31, 1-4 p.m. Arrive in costume and the $4 admission fee will be waived. Stenton is located four blocks east of Wayne Junction at 4601 North 18th Street. For information call 215-329-7312.

Annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade

The annual Mt. Airy Halloween Parade will take place on Hallowe’en, Saturday, October 31. Paraders (children and parents) in costume should gather at the Henry School playground by 6:30 p.m. The parade will proceed up Greene Street to Sedgwick Street, west on the 600-700 blocks of Sedgwick, south on the 6900 block of Henley Street, east on the 600-700 blocks of Carpenter Lane, then back to schoolyard.

The parade will be accompanied by music and police escort; it will last about an hour. The parade is free, courtesy of West Mt. Airy Neighbors.

For more information call Glen Omans at 215-848-8472.

FUMCOG Invites Applicants for Community Grants

First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG) is again looking to support projects that promote social justice and peace in the local community. By setting aside our upcoming Christmas offering, we hope to award several small grants of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to help facilitate worthy community endeavors.

All proposals are welcome and are reviewed by a committee of church members. Selection criteria in awarding grants include the size of the population to be served, the nature of the services provided, and expected benefits to the community.

Grants from previous Easter and Christmas collections have been awarded on a nondenominational basis to a diverse group of applicants for a wide variety of causes. Monies from the recent Easter Collection were used to purchase tools for a neighborhood self-help group, support creation of a new after school program for sheltered children, assist a neighborhood renovation project, and extend a program to help prevent home foreclosures.

Application forms can be obtained by calling the office of First United Methodist Church of Germantown at 215-438-3677, or request a form online at

For consideration, completed proposals must be returned to the church office at 6001 Germantown Ave., no later than Friday, November 20. Organizations with non-profit tax-exempt status should include a copy of their 501-c-3 certification. Recipients will be notified of their selection by December 11. Funds should be awarded in January.

Gift of Life Prayer Breakfast at GBC

Grace Baptist Church of Germantown is hosting its first prayer breakfast for educational purposes for the Gift of Life Donor Program on Saturday, Nov.7.  All are welcome.  November is Organ Transplant month and we are kicking off the month with enthusiasm.  The purpose of the breakfast is to educate and dispel myths in the black community about organ or tissue transplant. It is something everyone should hear, man, woman or teen.  Black men are at the highest risk.

Because so many people are directly affected by tissue or organ transplant needs, the Courtesy Club of Grace Baptist is hosting this event as a public service and awareness campaign.  Speakers will include Joan Leake, a specialist for those who use dialysis at home.  Cynthia London, will share the experience of what it’s like to give organs away at a moment’s notice.  Laverne Clark will share her heartfelt story as well.

Entertainment will consist of Men On A Mission, a gospel jazz group; Melissa Palmer, a mime performer; and Reverend Merle D. McJunkin, our assistant pastor, whose melodic voice will add an amazing touch.

Breakfast is free but seats are limited. To register call Wynelle Coleman at 215-844-1346, e-mail to or leave a message at the church, 215-438-3215. Grace is located at 25 West Johnson Street. Our full country breakfast will start at 9 a.m.

Upcoming Events at Germantown Jewish Centre

Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 West Ellet Street, include:

Hazak Paid Up Brunch (adult 55+ Program), on Nov. 1 at 10 a.m. Come together for a brunch and a program on Jewish Devotional music with Germantown Jewish Centre’s Rabbi Adam Zeff.  Free for Hazak members (dues are just $10 for the year), $5 for guests.  

Health Reform Forum, Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. Join us for a free informative panel discussion on healthcare reform moderated by Chris Satullo, formerly of the Enquirer now at WHYY. Co-sponsored by Jewish Social Policy Action Network and Neighborhood Interfaith Movement.

People of the Book, Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 7:15 p.m. Germantown Jewish Centre’s book group meets monthly at Border’s in Chestnut Hill.  The group reads fiction and nonfiction books of Jewish interest written mostly, but not solely, by Jewish writers and chosen by the group. Volunteer group members lead the discussion. This monthly event is free. This month’s selection is All Other Nights by Dara Horn, this year’s OBOJC selection.  

Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class informational session on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m.

Find out more about Germantown Jewish Centre’s intense course of study over 18 months, culminating with a ceremony in Spring 2011. Core subjects include the Jewish Life Cycle, Comparative Judaism, Spiritual Pathways, Prayer, Text Study & Halakhah. 

Pastoral Anniversary at First Born

The congregation of United Church of the First Born, 400 East Bringhurst Street, would like invite the community to come out and worship with us. Our Senior Pastor Paul Jinks and his lovely wife will be celebrating  his 21st pastoral anniversary during the week of Sunday, November 1 through Friday, November 6. Services will be held Sunday, November 1 at 11:30 a.m., and nightly at 7:30 p.m., November 2-6. For information call the church at 215-438-0278.

Prospective Student Day at LTSP

The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, 7301 Germantown Avenue, trains leaders from more than 30 denominations for a wide range of ministries in the world.  Whether you are a person in the pew looking to learn more about your faith, or a person called to be a pastor, youth leader, educator or counselor, we have programs to fit your needs, finances and schedule. 

Learn more at Prospective Student Day, Saturday, Oct. 31,  8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  It’s an opportunity to meet members of our outstanding faculty and diverse student community.  Sit in on a class. Explore programs including the Master of Divinity degree, with evening and weekend options, the new Master of Arts Public Leadership concentration, and the part-time Doctor of Divinity advanced degree where those already serving in ministry can sharpen their skills. Learn about grants, scholarships and loans to finance your education.  LTSP is accessible by train, bus or car.

Register for the Lutheran Theological Seminary Prospective Student Day at or call 215-248-7302.

St. Michael’s Collects Funds, Books for Emlen School

Despite battling three consecutive weeks of rain, St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, 6671 Germantown Av.,  the small church with the big heart, raised more than $1,000 and collected hundreds of books through its annual Flea Market and Book Drive on Oct. 24 to benefit the Eleanor C. Emlen Elementary School. Included within the $1000 is a matching grant from the Communities that Care Funds of the Philadelphia Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

The event was part of an ongoing partnership between St. Michael’s and Emlen School.  St. Michael’s accepts donations of children’s books, gently used or new, throughout the year on behalf of the school. Contact St. Michael’s Church Office at 215-848-0199 to arrange a pick-up or delivery of books or to make a financial contribution.

Revival at Woodcrest

Woodcrest United Church of Christ, Mt. Pleasant and Thouron avenues, will hold its annual revival services though Oct. 30. The theme for this year’s revival is “Hope, for such a time as this.”

On Thursday, the speaker will be the Rev. Stacy Roberts, pastor of the Greater Community Tabernacle, and music will be provided by the choir of that church as well as the Woodcrest Gospel Choir. The Friday evening service will feature the Rev. Timothy Posten, pastor of Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia. The choir will accompany their pastor and provide music for the evening as well as the Senior choir of Woodcrest Church.

For more information call the church at 215-242-2227.

Discussions on Peace Prospects

For almost 25 years Mt. Airy attorney Steve Masters has devoted himself to efforts to help resolve a conflict that has simmered for more than 60 years – peaceful co-existence among Israelis and Palestinians. Does the election of President Obama – and his selection for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as appointing George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East – provide better prospects for peace in the Middle East?

Masters, who has been National President of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) since 2007, will speak on Israeli Peace Options In The Age Of Obama at the Sholom Aleichem Club meeting on Sunday, November 8 at 2 p.m. at the Bala Cynwyd Library, North Highland Avenue and Old Lancaster Road, Bala Cynwyd. The meeting is free. For information,call 215-233-2668 or visit

Wellness Walks Beginning at Morris Arboretum

Back by popular demand, the Morris Arboretum will offer their Wellness Walks again this winter. Arboretum Wellness Walks encourage visitors to step outside and get some exercise by walking the arboretum’s paved paths, in a beautiful, safe environment.

Wellness Walks will be offered every Saturday morning at 10:30 beginning Nov. 7, and continue through March 27.  What better way to gain energy for the day? Walkers meet at the visitors center wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, ready to walk two mile-long loops on the paved paths.  Guides point out some of the arboretum’s specimen trees and other distinctive features along the way, but there is no stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. The walk lasts for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, and walkers are welcome to continue on their own afterward. In case of inclement weather, call the arboretum for updated information at 215-247-5777 ext. 0. 

The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is located at 100 Northwestern Chestnut Hill.  The 92-acre horticulture display garden features a collection of mature trees in a Victorian landscape. The arboretum features numerous picturesque spots such as a formal rose garden, Japanese gardens, swan pond, meadows, and an elegant Fernery. The  arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Zoning Hearings Affecting the Northwest

The following hearings will be held 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, November 4, 2 p.m.: 8035 Germantown Avenue. Four use variances.  Permit for the removal of one free-standing sign and one flatwall sign, for the erection of one double-faced free-standing with canopy and for the erection of two flatwall signs accessory to a real estate office on the first and second floors of an existing structure on the same lot with parking as previously approved.

Wednesday, November 4 p.m.: 8000 Germantown Avenue. One use variance. Permit for the erection of three flat wall awnings, two with copy, accessory to a nail salon with pedicures first floor in the same building as two apartments first floor and two apartments third floor.

Tuesday, November 3, 9:30 a.m.: 4529 Wayne Avenue. One certification. Permit for the erection of a two-story rear and side addition to an existing two-story structure for use as the extension of an existing eat-in and takeout restaurant with seating on the first floor (all food served on disposable ware), an accessory office on the second floor and accessory prep area and utilities in the basement.

Tuesday, November 3, 9:30 a.m.: 5301 Chew Avenue. One zoning variance. The application is for the erection of the following signs accessory to the existing bank in building “d”; two flatwall logo signs and one internally illuminated flatwall sign with logo, on the same lot with an existing shopping center with uses, accessory signs and accessory parking as previously approved.  

Leaf Collection Schedule

2009 Bagged Leaf Collection by the City of Philadelphia will begin Monday, November 9 and will be completed Friday, December 18. There are a number of changes in the collection process for the 2009 leaf season. There will be curbside collection only. Do not pile unbagged leaves at the curb. No plastic bags will be collected. Leaves will only be collected in biodegradable paper bags. Bags should be placed curbside on your rubbish collection day.

Areas that previously received mechanical collection will have curbside bagged collections only.

Bagged leaves will be accepted at all three Citizen Drop-off Centers. The Northwest center is located at Domino Lane and Umbria Street, Roxborough. 

Community Yard Sale Rescheduled

The weather has been vacillating between “rain” and “showers.“  What to do?  Wet weekend weather provides the perfect impetus to clean out your attics, basements, and closets. 

Because of another rainy weather forecast, the Community Yard Sale was postponed to Saturday, Oct. 31 (rain or shine - the latter preferred), 8 a.m. - noon at the Cliveden Convalescent Center, 6400 Greene Street (back parking lot along Johnson Street).  

If you didn’t get the chance to clean out your attics, basements, and closets during last weekend’s rain fest, here’s another chance to sell your no-longer-needed items.  Spaces are $15 each. Visit for a space reservation form. Fill it out and mail it, along with a check for $15, to West Mt. Airy Neighbors.  Bring your own table and chairs. Gently used items will be picked up for sale. Proceeds will benefit either the Duval Improvement Association, West Central Germantown Neighbors or West Mt. Airy Neighbors – your choice.

For more information or to schedule a pick-up, call WMAN at 215-438-6022 or email to

Emergency Preparedness Workshops

The Managing Director’s Office of Emergency Management is offering a free Emergency Preparedness Workshop open to the public in Northwest Philadelphia on Monday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m., 14th Police District Advisory Council, 14th Police District, 43 West Haines Street.

“During the workshops you will learn how to shelter-in-place, become familiar with your neighborhood evacuation routes, know what emergency supplies and copies of important documents you should have ready, and find out how to stay informed during an emergency,” said Deputy Managing Director for Emergency Management MaryAnn E. Tierney.

These workshops are in-line with a series of Emergency Preparedness Workshops being held throughout the city in each police district during 2009. For information, visit or call 3-1-1.

About the Phillies

Series Win Would Truly Ice Phils’ Cake


Guest Writer

As stated before, by the time you read this all roster questions will be answered. At the time this story was submitted, the only certainty was that the Phillies will open the 2009 World Series Wednesday against the Yankees in New York and that staff ace Cliff Lee will start Game 1.

Roster decisions were made after the American League Championship Series concluded, but there weren’t any mysteries. From this corner, it says that the team will take the same players to the Fall Classic as in the NLCS, with one possible exception.

Pitcher Brett Myers threw well during a simulated game last week, and he has had more time to recover from his hip injury. Manager Charlie Manuel seems to be indicating that Myers could be reinstated to the roster. If so, somebody else has been dropped.

There are few points to make. That the Phillies got to the playoffs was expected. As the regular season ended, Manuel was dealing with a sleeping offense, a starting rotation that struggled during September and a bullpen that was decimated by injuries (Chan Ho Park and J.C. Romero) and ineffectiveness (Brad Lidge and Myers). Park returned for the NLCS, with mixed success, and Lidge seems to have straightened his sails to the point that Manuel has been using him to close playoff games.

Beyond Lee, the starters will include Cole Hamels, despite reports that his struggles have been linked to a slower fastball, which allows opposing batters to sit on his changeup. Manuel has also stated that he would like to get Pedro Martinez a start. Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ will pitch out of the bullpen for the first two games, and Charlie will make any further pitching decisions according to how the series unfolds.

One last thing: the Phillies have been without significant injuries in the playoffs, although there is speculation that second baseman Chase Utley has been playing with a sore right foot and outfielder Raul Ibanez has owned up to a muscle tear that’s been bothering him.

On the bright side, all games played in New York will have a designated hitter, which most likely will be Ibanez because that allows Manuel to start Ben Francisco in left field for those games. Francisco will add a big bat, good speed and strong defense to a starting eight that is already among the best in baseball.

With all of the problems facing this team heading into the playoffs, I didn’t give the Phillies much of a chance to get past the Colorado Rockies in the first round. The National League pennant was the icing on that cake. Anything beyond this is gravy.

But the Phillies have taken us this far, so why not go for all the marbles? I’m with the late pitcher Tug McGraw, who in 1976 uttered his most famous words: “Ya gotta believe!”

That’s my opinion. What do you think?

Bill McFarland has covered the Phillies since 1991. He can be reached at 215-345-3037 or

Share Your Memories of Germantown’s Past

Do you remember Germantown 50 years ago? Do you remember Rowell’s department store, and Allen’s? The Bandbox Theatre and Linton’s Restaurant? Did you go to Germantown High School and the YM or YWCA? Come and share your memories on an afternoons or evening in November where area seniors are invited to participate in a project to create an oral history of Germantown in the 20th century.

Germantown Speaks, a partnership of several Germantown congregations, the Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, Cliveden of the National Trust and Partners for Sacred Places (see full list of partners below), is an attempt to capture these stories of the recent past that are not being told by Germantown’s public history institutions and present them in an exhibit and video presentation. The project will involve Germantown High School students capturing the stories of the seniors and helping to design a video and mini-exhibition that describes what life was like in Germantown in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s from the members of the community whose stories, photos, and artifacts can lend more texture to how we understand our community throughout the twentieth century.

This intergenerational project will capture stories from the seniors, and foster in students a more lively sense of place as they record and report on the history programs. In addition to the video and mini-exhibition, Germantown Speaks will have a culminating event to share with the community.

Come share your photographs and stories from the Germantown that you remember. There will be four sessions provided for people to bring their memories, participate in the interview process, have some light refreshment and have a good time. Bring a friend or neighbor.

The sessions are:

Monday, November 9, 4-6 p.m., First Presbyterian Church in Germantown; Thursday, November 12, 4-6 p.m., First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG); Monday, November 16, 4-6 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal in Germantown; Thursday, November 19, 7-9 p.m., Center in the Park.

Partners in Germantown Speaks are Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, Cliveden of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Germantown Historical Society, Center in the Park, First Presbyterian Church of Germantown, First United Methodist Church of Germantown (FUMCOG), St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Germantown, Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, and Partners for Sacred Places.

This project is being supported by a grant from the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia.

OARC Awards

OARC invites you to join them in honoring four outstanding people for exemplary community service during their 2009 Leadership Awards Ceremony.  Each honoree will receive the 2nd Annual Dwight Evans Leadership Award for their work and impact on communities across the city. This award is given to those recipients who reflect Rep. Dwight Evan’s leadership qualities and ability to bring appropriate resources and talents together for sustaining change that is beneficial to all. 

The event will be held at the Franklin Institute, 222 North 20th Street,  6–8 p.m.  Honorees include Esther West, community advocate; State Representative Cherelle L. Parker; Gerry Kaufman, executive director of Awbury Arboretum; and Sharmain Matlock-Turner, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Urban Affairs Coalition.

For information about tickets or purchasing ad space go to

Depression Study at CIP

Thomas Jefferson University’s Center for Applied Research on Aging and Health (CARAH) won a NIH Challenge Grant in Health and Science Research for “Cost Effectiveness of a Home Support Program for Depression in Black Elders.” The project adds a cost and outcome component to CARAH’s current NIMH-funded randomized controlled trial “Treating Depression in Older African Americans,” known as Beat the Blues (BTB). CARAH will receive $1 million over two years to perform this cost effectiveness analysis in partnership with health economics faculty at the Jefferson School of Population Health. This is one of about 200 grants funded through this highly competitive mechanism in which over 21,000 grant applications were submitted.

Beat the Blues is a 10-session home-based intervention to treat depression in older community-dwelling African Americans. The program is embedded in a senior center, Center in the Park (CIP), 5818 Germantown Avenue, involving their agency staff as depression screeners and interventionists. Social workers trained in the protocol meet with participants to identify care management concerns, make referrals and linkages, provide depression education, develop tailored action plans to accomplish identified behavioral goals and enhance engagement in pleasurable activities, and teach stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing for managing daily stresses.

The findings from this study will enable its translation for delivery by a senior center.  Lynn Fields Harris, MPA, executive director of Center in the Park, states, “It will have immediate benefits for community-based agencies and their capacity to deliver evidence-based programs, as well as for the older adults served by them.” The project also has implications for health policy. By linking coverage decisions to adequate scientific evidence of treatment and cost effectiveness, the study seeks to impact policies to support evidence-based services to an underserved group for whom mental health disparities persist.

The grant will fund a collaboration between CARAH, CIP and JSPH. Key team members in addition to Dr. Gitlin, Dr. Pizzi and Ms. Harris include among others Megan McCoy, MSS, MLSP, LSW, the CIP project director for BTB.

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