Around Town

Fiedler welcomes more than $100K in state grants to South Philly

State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler announced that a total of $105,685 in state funding from the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Arts and Culture Recovery Grants Program has been awarded to multiple organizations in her legislative district in South Philadelphia.

Funds distributed through the PA Arts and Culture Recovery Program provide grants to nonprofit arts and culture organizations located in the commonwealth.

The organizations in Fiedler’s district that were awarded are 1812 Productions Inc. ($30,000), Ars Nova Workshop Inc. ($19,091), KYL Dancers Inc. ($16,027), Team Sunshine Performance ($10,000) and Theatre Exile ($30,567).

“South Philadelphia has a vibrant arts and cultural scene that is a source of local pride,” Fiedler said. “I’m proud to see state funding brought back to these five organizations doing amazing work in our community.”

Johnson denounces state law that limits DA’s authority

City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, vice chairman of Council’s Public Safety Committee, and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, member of Council’s Public Safety Committee, issued the following joint statement about a new Pennsylvania law that allows the creation of a special prosecutor for SEPTA crimes in Philadelphia:  

“Pennsylvania has a new law on the books today, Act 40 of 2023, that empowers the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute crimes that occur on SEPTA property through 2026. Philadelphians have already spoken and elected a district attorney to carry out these responsibilities, both on SEPTA property and across the rest of the city, and this new law takes away that voice. 

“Act 40 sets a dangerous, undemocratic precedent and undermines Philadelphia’s home rule powers and disenfranchises Philadelphia’s voters. Philadelphia does not need a special prosecutor for crimes on SEPTA property. The District Attorney’s Office should continue their current responsibilities and be the lead agency to investigate and prosecute crimes in Philadelphia without outside interference. 

“Act 40 mandates the City of Philadelphia to foot the bill for this shameful effort to disenfranchise our residents. Forcing City Council to reimburse an office it has no oversight or authority over undermines our constitutional authority to appropriate City funds. Act 40 will only make it harder for City Council to spend our constituents’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars on services that actually reduce crime. 

“We urge Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry to see that Act 40 is unconstitutional and not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate crimes committed on SEPTA property.” 

State lawmakers tout budget funding for school facilities

House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Jordan Harris hosted a news conference at South Philadelphia High School discussing school facilities funding in the 2023-24 state budget. The budget includes $175 million for school facility improvements.

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.

Harris stated that he believes this funding will help to address this issue that’s plagued Pennsylvania schools for a long time.

“This funding is paramount to improving the health and safety of our educators, students and school staff,” Harris said. “This major Democratic priority is a significant investment and critical step toward ensuring that receiving an education in Pennsylvania does not equate to sick or injured students, teachers or staff. There is more work to do, and we intend to continue our work until every Pennsylvania school is a safe learning environment for our children.”

Harris was joined by members of the Philadelphia House delegation, including Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, and members of the House Appropriations and Education committees, including Education Committee Majority Chairman Peter Schweyer. Fiedler, whose legislative district includes South Philadelphia High School, has been a longtime advocate for school facilities funding.

“Delivering $175 million in school facilities funding is a win for students and teachers who deserve safe learning environments,” Fiedler said. “But we’re going to need a lot more to repair and upgrade our chronically underfunded school buildings. I’m hopeful that this moment will kick off a wave of investment in public schools, so we can finally address our unconstitutional funding crisis.” 

House Speaker Joanna McClinton said that the funding will help schools across the commonwealth. 

“From fixing leaky roofs, to replacing lead pipes, to updating HVAC systems, we need to make sure our classrooms are safe so our kids can focus on learning,” McClinton said. “The funding House Democrats secured for school repairs will help schools here in Philly, and in Reading and Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie and Scranton make their learning environments safer for students and staff.”

Progress report on thriving neighborhoods released by city

The mayor’s office issued the fifth in a five-part series of progress reports focused on key city issues shaping Philadelphia’s future. The final report, available online, focuses on the city’s neighborhood-based investments and programs to improve quality of life, expand access to public spaces and public art, and promote clean, safe streets for all.

“The objective of these reports is to identify the city’s strengths, measure its progress and help plan for the challenges that await the next administration,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and this administration has made it a priority to invest in public spaces, safety and arts and culture right where our residents live.”

The report highlights the work in progress on a wide range of neighborhood-based investments, including: 

Rebuild, a $500-plus million capital program for parks, recreation centers, playgrounds and libraries. The program has achieved 57 percent participation for women and minority-owned contracts.

The Mechanical Street Cleaning Program that has grown since 2019 to serve 14 Philadelphia neighborhoods and is slated to add six more in 2024.

The creation of the Opioid Response Unit, which coordinates a data- and community-informed response to the overdose epidemic and oversees strategic investments of opioid settlement funds.

Vision Zero, which has achieved significant reductions in crashes on corridors with complete street treatments.

Funding for public artwork, arts activities and COVID-19 relief for artists through the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. 

The report comes one day after Kenney and Mayor-Elect Cherelle Parker visited the Rebuild work in progress at Vare Recreation Center, a $21 million project in South Philadelphia.

The Thriving Neighborhoods progress report is available at

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.” ••