Around Town

Deck the Ave returns to East Passyunk

East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District invites people to take part in the following holiday happenings during Deck The Ave:

  • East Passyunk Punch Card – Through Jan. 1, shoppers will receive a punch for each $10 spent at participating businesses. Once 10 punches have been received, submit the completed card to one of East Passyunk Avenue’s businesses and be automatically entered into a prize raffle for a gift certificate.
  • Letters to Santa – All are invited to drop off letters to Santa at East Passyunk Avenue’s North Pole Mailbox located at the Singing Fountain (East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street) starting.
  • Pop-Up Music/Entertainment – Local musicians and carolers will perform around the Singing Fountain and Mifflin Triangle, plus up and down the Avenue, this weekend.
  • 13th Annual Ornament Show – Presented by Nice Things Handmade, this beloved annual ornament show will showcase more than 50 local artists and their handmade ornament submissions for sale running through Jan. 12.

Fiedler’s office receives special recognition

The office of state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler had the most phone calls and walk-in constituent cases in the Philadelphia region last month, according to state data.

“It’s an honor to serve South Philadelphians in our office every day. Whether it’s accessing energy assistance in the colder months, applying for unemployment compensation or navigating older adult services, my staff is working hard to help you.” Fiedler said.

The office can assist with state-related services including SEPTA senior passes, property tax/rent rebates, unemployment compensation, energy assistance, accessing birth and death certificates and disability parking placards.

Constituents can call 215-271-9190, email or stop by the office at 9th and Ritner for help navigating state services. On Tuesdays, a representative from Councilmember Mark Squilla’s office is available by appointment to help you access city services, like city property taxes, streets and licensing and inspection issues. Fiedler’s office will close for the holidays on Dec. 22 and will reopen on Jan. 2.

Scanlon introduces legislation to improve corporate crime enforcement by Justice Department

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon joined Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal in introducing the Corporate Crime Database Act, bicameral legislation that would require the Department of Justice to collect, aggregate, analyze and publish comprehensive data on federal corporate criminal enforcement actions. 

“While the Department of Justice regularly collects data on nearly every type of street-level crime, there is very little reporting of corporate and white-collar crimes, with the last thorough DOJ report on corporate crime being in 1979,” said Scanlon. “Without data or transparency, lawmakers, journalists and the public are left in the dark about the size and scope of corporate crime in America and the effectiveness of the federal government’s response. I’m proud to join Sens. Durbin and Blumenthal in introducing the Corporate Crime Database Act to improve corporate crime enforcement by the DOJ and ensure that our justice system is fair and equal for all.”

Last year, Scanlon, Durbin and Blumenthal sent a letter to Attorney General Garland urging him to begin collecting, analyzing and publishing department-wide data on corporate criminal enforcement actions. In May, the DOJ announced a new corporate crime section on its public website with a searchable corporate crime database. While this database represents a step toward improved data collection and transparency in federal corporate criminal enforcement, supporters of the bill say more robust, complete tracking and analysis of corporate crime, as required by the Corporate Crime Database Act, is necessary to provide full disclosure to the public and accountability for bad actors.

Treasurer warns of scams

Treasurer Stacy Garrity warned Pennsylvanians that scammers are targeting residents in a new scam involving false promises of a state grant and fraudulent requests to pay taxes using gift cards.

In this scam, unsuspecting residents receive a call, an email and/or a letter claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve Bank, fraudulently indicating that the recipient will be awarded grant money – but first must pay taxes. In at least one case, the recipient was told to make the supposed tax payments with gift cards.

“This is a vile and outrageous scam,” Garrity said. “Fraudsters and scammers are despicable criminals who will stop at nothing to exploit innocent people to steal their hard-earned money. I urge everyone to stay vigilant and be extra suspicious of any communication that seems too good to be true.”

Treasury does not announce grant awards, and it does not collect taxes. In addition, Treasury will never request that a payment be made with a gift card – and neither will any other legitimate government agency. Based on the facts currently known to Treasury, this appears to be a multi-faceted scam.

In one case, an elderly Indiana County resident was initially contacted by telephone and told that he would receive a $25,500 grant from the state – but had to pay thousands of dollars in taxes first, using gift cards. He purchased the cards, called the scammer back and provided the information needed to access the gift cards. This happened multiple times.

After receiving multiple payments, the scammer followed up with a letter via email in an attempt to steal even more money. At that point, the victim’s brother saw the letter and stepped in.

A phone number included in the letter leads to a voicemail box falsely indicating that the caller has reached an employee of the Federal Reserve Bank. Treasury has provided information about this scam to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Those who believe they have been the victim of a scam or attempted scam should immediately report it to the Federal Trade Commission, the Pennsylvania Attorney General and their local law enforcement agency.

If you or anyone you know has received suspicious correspondence claiming to be from the Pennsylvania Treasury Department, contact Treasury at or 717-787-2465.

City announces tax credit program application deadline extended 

The application deadline for the City of Philadelphia’s $1.7 million Real Estate Tax Credit Program has been extended to Jan. 31. Low-income homeowners within the City of Philadelphia who face rising real estate tax bills can receive a credit of up to $500.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced the launch of the program on Nov. 16. The city created this program by allocating $1.7 million in tax credits through a special fund to support Philadelphia homeowners with increasing real estate tax bills. Eligible homeowners must be located in the city of Philadelphia and meet the 80 percent or below Area Median Income threshold.

“Real estate taxes have strained many Philadelphians, but they remain a critical source of revenue for our city,” said Kenney. “Through extending this application deadline to Jan. 31, we’re ensuring that more Philadelphia homeowners receive the financial relief they need, while also continuing to invest in our city’s future.” 

The City of Philadelphia Real Estate Tax Credit Program awards eligible Philadelphia homeowners with up to $500 in tax credits that can be directly applied to their tax credit bill.  

To be eligible for the program, Philadelphia homeowners must: 

  • Live within the city of Philadelphia;
  • Be the legal owner and current resident of the property;
  • Have property tax bills that increased by 50 percent or more between the 2022 and 2023 tax assessments; and
  • Household income must be at or below 80 percent Area Median Income.

The City of Philadelphia approved FORWARD as the program administrator to assist with community outreach, application support and screening for eligibility in a way that uses taxpayer dollars efficiently.

FORWARD’s online application portal is available in 68 languages. There is access to application support available in multiple languages via phone, text and email.

Philadelphia homeowners who meet eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply and learn more at

Fiedler celebrates $175 million in school facilities funding

The state legislature approved $175 million from the state budget in additional funding to help fix school buildings across Pennsylvania.

State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler advocated for the funds.

“Many school buildings are in huge need of repair and remediation. Getting this work done is critical to the health and safety of everyone in schools,” Fiedler said. “We have a long road ahead to make sure every school is a safe, healthy, modern learning environment. This additional funding is a step in the right direction to finally addressing this issue that has weighed on our commonwealth for too long.” 

Pennsylvania has some of the oldest schools in the country. The average school building is around 70 years old and was built when lead pipes and asbestos were standard building materials.

Discoveries of asbestos and other toxins have led to school closures across the commonwealth, including seven Philadelphia schools in 2023 alone. In the same year, 100 schools statewide closed due to excessive heat.

Free help available during holidays

For the 13th year, International School of Coaching’s Master Coach Paula Michele Boyle and her team of trained Life Coach specialists are reaching out to support the community for those feeling frustrated or unsatisfied with their relationships, careers and wellness.

Enjoy a free opportunity to figure out where you are and where you want to go.

The session you will receive with a certified Life Coach is available through New Year’s Day.

There is a 10% discount to those who want to become certified as a Life Coach to help others in need.

To register or learn more, visit ••

Parkinson’s support group

Temple University Hospital – Jeanes Campus is offering a Parkinson’s disease support group for those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and their families on Feb. 14.

The group will meet on the second Wednesday of every other month from 6-7 p.m. at the Cheltenham Friends Meetinghouse, 7604 Central Ave.

The group is led by nurse practitioner June Ro, and will include guest speakers.

To register, contact Ro at 215-707-2619 or ••

VFW looking for members

Bustleton-Somerton/CTR1 Michael J. Strange VFW Post 6617 meets on the third Wednesday of every month at American Legion Post 810, 9151 Old Newtown Road.

Meetings start at 7:30 p.m.

If you are a military veteran who served in a designated combat zone, you are eligible to join the VFW.

Contact Commander Israel Wolmark at 215-725-0630 if you would like to join the post. ••

Book club on Zoom

The Book Club of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will be hosting a Zoom session on Monday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m.

The January book is The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict.

For further information or to register for the book club program, call Lynn Ratmansky at the synagogue office at 215-677-1600. ••

Trip to Northern Europe

The Bristol Cultural and Historical Foundation is presenting a Northern Europe: Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and London cruise, July 25 to Aug. 4, 2024, aboard the new “Norwegian Prima.”

Rates per person are $6,261 and $6,495, which include roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia.

Deposit of $350 per person double occupancy is required when booking.

Final payment by Feb. 27.

Call 215-788-9408. ••

Upcoming opera performances

Amici Opera Company will present Puccini’s La Boheme on Saturday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m. at United Methodist Church of the Redeemer, 1128 Cottman Ave.

Verdi’s Don Carlos will be performed on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 4 p.m. at United Methodist Church of the Redeemer.

Call 215-224-0257 or visit the Amici Opera Company page on Facebook. ••

Feb. Zoom book club meeting

The Book Club of Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will be holding a Zoom session on Monday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m.

The February book is the historical mystery The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen.

For further information or to register, call Lynn Ratmansky at 215-677-1600. ••

Buy a lottery calendar

St. Martha Parish is selling its 2024 lottery calendar for a $25 donation. Choose a three-digit number and you have 365 chances to win, based on the Pennsylvania daily number (straight) that is pulled at 7 p.m. The daily prize is $25. There is one bonus day each month worth $100. Calendars can be bought after Mass or by mailing a check made payable to St. Martha Parish, with “2024 Calendar” in the memo, 11301 Academy Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154. ••

Program on critical thinking

Critical Thinking will be the main subject of a five-part series for active adults to be held at KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave., on Tuesday, Jan. 2. Other sessions will be held on Jan. 9, 16, 23 and 30. All five programs will begin at 10:30 a.m. The public is invited to join with members. All five programs will be led by Steve Pollack, entertainer, singer, lecturer, voice teacher, actor and director. Cost for all five sessions will be $50 per person, to be paid at the front desk at KleinLife prior to the start of class. Email info@kleinlife.or or call 215-698-7300, Ext. 193. ••

Local author’s novel releasing soon

Mayfair author Becky Flade announced that Tirgearr Publishing will release her latest novel, Fade into the Night, on Jan. 23. It is the fifth book in Flade’s award-winning series of romantic thrillers set in Philadelphia. It is available for pre-order at all major digital retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks/iTunes, at a specially reduced price. Flade, a Frankford High School graduate, has been writing since kindergarten, when her Brown Elementary School teacher, Miss Daniels, helped with her first book detailing her and her best friend’s first solo trip to the market for milk. ••

Learn about China

KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave., will present All About China, a five-part program for active adults offered by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Widener University. Participants will learn about China’s history, people, culture and place in the world today. Sessions will be at 12:30 p.m. on Mondays, Jan. 8, 12, 22 and 29 and Feb. 5. The course is open to the public. Cost is $30 per person, with checks and money orders payable to Widener University and returned to KleinLife. For additional information, contact OLLI at or 610-499-4279. ••

Program on short stories

American short stories will be the subject of an eight-part program for active adults to be held at KleinLife, 10100 Jamison Ave., beginning on Thursday, Jan. 4, at 10:30 a.m. The public is invited to join with members. For the program, students should have a copy of 100 Years Of The Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor and published in 2015. Participants should read the stories before attending the program. Cost of the program is $48 per person for all eight sessions. Money is due at the KleinLife front desk prior to beginning the program. Call 215-698-7300, Ext. 193. ••

Should mammograms for survivors continue annually?

Annual mammograms are recommended for breast cancer survivors in the United States to monitor whether cancer has returned, but a study by England’s National Health Service showed less frequent screenings are just as effective.

Dr. Richard J. Bleicher, a professor in Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Department of Surgical Oncology, is not accepting the findings at face value.

Bleicher issued the following comments:

“This study was an interesting study from the UK that evaluated annual mammography after breast cancer treatment versus less frequent mammography, finding that the women did just as well who had less frequent mammograms. The study is thought-provoking but at this point still exploratory and should not change practice, especially as their follow up was short at 5.7 years. The two groups having different frequencies of mammography after treatment were not risk-adjusted, it seems, as the presenter noted that the authors have collected a lot of data, but did not have that data analyzed or available at this point. For example, the presenter noted, in response to questions, that they did not yet have the differences between the stage and extent of diagnoses between the original tumors in the two arms, nor the specifics of the recurrences that occurred in each arm. There also was no information yet on treatment differences between the two arms, or in presentation of the tumors between the two arms, nor compliance with treatments. Thus the differences between the two arms cannot be discerned. This is important because if the group that had less frequent mammography, for instance, had less aggressive tumors or more rigorous therapy, that might compensate for less frequent mammography in outcomes. The concept is interesting and the specifics of how to screen should be further evaluated, but annual post-treatment mammography should definitely not be abandoned at this time.” ••