Around Town

Scanlon, Casey, Fetterman, Boyle deliver $13M for PhilaPort upgrades

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, along with Sens, Bob Casey and John Fetterman and Congressman Brendan Boyle announced the Port of Philadelphia will receive $13,017,024 in new infrastructure funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funding will help enhance port operations, improve the flow of freight through the port and prolong the lifespan of port equipment by building a new bridge to connect two critical terminals. The award is from the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Projects program, which is bolstered by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“This new funding for PhilaPort’s Packer Avenue Marine Terminal Connector Bridge Project will be critical to meeting our regional freight transportation needs while promoting economic growth, creating jobs and keeping costs down for consumers and businesses,” Scanlon said. “I was proud to support PhilaPort’s application for this competitive grant, and will continue working to ensure our region is able to tap into the funding opportunities made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.” 

School District receives $7.9M grant to double electric bus fleet

The School District of Philadelphia has received a grant of nearly $8 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to double its electric bus fleet. With the additional 20 electric buses the district will acquire through the grant, it will have 40 electric buses by 2027. This is the largest grant the district has been awarded for electric buses.

“We are pleased to be leading the way here in Philadelphia as we grow our zero-emission vehicles fleet and create cleaner and healthier environments for our children,” said Tony B. Watlington Sr. “We are grateful to the EPA and our elected officials who are helping us secure these additional funds as we continue to advocate for adequate and equitable funding for our students.”

Created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Clean School Bus Program provides $5 billion over five years (FY 2022-26) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and clean school buses. Last week’s announcement of Clean School Bus grants are the second round of selections announced for the newly created program. Five Pennsylvania school districts were part of the selections, thanks to funding secured by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. 

The first five electric school buses for the school district hit the streets during the 2021-22 school year through the support of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. These all-electric buses were the first of their kind in the state. Beyond electric buses, the district has 38 propane buses, another clean, alternative fuel.

“The EV buses have positively impacted our bus fleet,” said Teresa Fleming, deputy chief operations officer for the school district. “Our bus chauffeurs have embraced their deployment into our fleet, and have said the EV buses are great. They provide a comfortable and quiet ride for staff and students.”

Replacing older diesel school buses with new technologies that focus on low emissions, improved fuel economy and safety for students and drivers is part of the district’s sustainability plan GreenFutures as it addresses climate change and can help children’s health. An electric school bus replacing a diesel school bus is the equivalent of removing 23 tons of greenhouse gases per year. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for nearly one-third of all emissions, which is the highest of any sector, and heavy-duty transportation is about one-quarter of those emissions. Deploying electric school buses will cut down on respiratory contaminants in the air, ultimately improving community health while also eliminating noise pollution.

New artwork at Magic Gardens

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens presents Ritual of Self: Isaiah Zagar’s Self-Portraits on Paper, running Feb. 2 through May 12. 

Though widely known for his large-scale public mosaics, Isaiah Zagar’s staggering collection of creations includes thousands of drawings, paintings, prints and mixed-media works. Ritual of Self: Isaiah Zagar’s Self-Portraits on Paper is a revelatory selection of never-before-seen mixed-media artworks. From 1976 to 1993, Zagar worked daily on his self-portrait series and produced over 2,400 works during that time. Boundlessly energetic, moody and experimental, the series evolved into a ritualistic practice of storytelling. Treated as a diary, the pieces incorporate found objects, photography, handwritten text, folk art, stamps, textiles and painting materials. This exhibition reveals a look into Zagar’s obsessive, introspective, vibrating world – one that would eventually evolve even further with his public mosaics in the ’90s through today.

The exhibition is on display Wednesdays through Mondays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1020 South St. Tickets are $8-$15. Email or call 215-733-0390.

Scanlon named ‘Champion for Children’

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon has been named a 2023 Champion for Children by the bipartisan advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children. Just 40 members of the U.S. House of Representatives receive this distinction each year. Scanlon has been named a “Champion for Children” each year she has served in Congress. 

“With rising costs and threats to healthcare, education and child nutrition, our children need lawmakers willing to make them a true national priority,” said Scanlon. “Being named a Champion for Children is an honor I do not take lightly, and I won’t stop fighting in Congress to ensure every vote and every bill prioritizes a brighter future for all children.”

First Focus Campaign for Children’s 2023 Legislative Scorecard ranks members of Congress according to votes and bill sponsorships taken during the first session of the 118th Congress that prioritize the well-being of children in the U.S. and around the world.

“Our nation’s children are in crisis, with child poverty, homelessness, uninsured rates and even mortality rates of infants and children on the rise,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus Campaign for Children. “We are grateful to Rep. Scanlon for working to reverse these trends and for always putting the best interests of children first. We hope this accomplishment will inspire their colleagues to do the same.”  

District opens kindergarten registration for 2024-25 school year

The School District of Philadelphia announced its “Thrive At Five” campaign to promote kindergarten registration for the 2024-2025 school year.

Parents and guardians are encouraged to register their child(ren), who must be 5 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2024, now through May 31. Registration can be done online, in-person at families’ catchment (neighborhood) school or in-person at the School District of Philadelphia Office of Student Enrollment & Placement – 440 N. Broad St.

“We cannot Accelerate Philly if we aren’t taking care of our youngest learners, and getting them into high-quality early childhood programs is crucial,” said Superintendent Tony B. Watlington Sr. “We all play a part in helping Philadelphia’s children thrive and now is the time to get our students registered for next school year.”

Registering students for kindergarten by May 31 is important in order to connect families with the information and resources they need to ensure a smooth transition. There are limited seats per school so it’s important for families to act quickly. Once seats are filled, no new students can be enrolled at that school.

The school district also provides free preschool to almost 11,000 children every year. If you know a family with a child turning 3 or 4 in the 2024-25 school year, encourage them to apply for free preschool at

From reducing the student dropout rate, increasing the number of students passing state tests while decreasing the number of students scoring at the lowest levels and increasing student and teacher attendance, the District is Accelerating Philly. For students looking to come back, visit

Evans, Scanlon oppose open borders resolution

U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans and Mary Gay Scanlon opposed a resolution denouncing the Biden administration’s open border policies. The resolution passed 225-187, with 14 Democrats in favor. Millions of illegal immigrants, including violent criminals, have entered the United States during President Joe Biden’s term, and the resolution blames Biden for halting construction of a wall. The resolution said the lax policies have allowed deadly fentanyl to enter the country and have made every state a border state, and that Biden’s push for amnesty for illegals will encourage many more to come. ••

Valentine’s Day dinner and show

The Buck Hotel will present Valentine’s Day with the Romantic Sounds of Sinatra & Friends, starring Joey C, on Friday, Feb. 9. Doors open at 6 p.m. The show starts at 6:30. The cost is $68, which includes dinner, dancing, the show and taxes and gratuities. The Buck is at 1200 Buck Road in Feasterville. Tickets are available at For more information, call 215-317-7675. ••

Seeking solutions to gun violence

City Councilwoman Rue Landau, chairwoman of the Committee on Technology and Information Services, introduced the 57+ Blocks Resolution, aiming to hold hearings that explore the most efficient implementation of local, place-based interventions, using data tools and community-centered approaches.

In 2021, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that since 2015, there were 57 blocks in the city where 10 or more people had been shot. Since then, the number of blocks has continued to rise. In response, community partners combined efforts with the District Attorney’s Office to form the 57+ Blocks Coalition. The group works to reduce violence through the reinvestment of resources and services into neighborhoods.

“I look forward to these hearings that will bring in subject matter experts, community members and urban policy thought leaders to discuss data-driven solutions to our gun violence epidemic,” Landau said. “The 57+ Blocks Coalition has given a voice to communities that have witnessed the effects of violence firsthand right outside their doors. Now, it’s time to connect their voices to the data, the technology and the strategies that will make the streets of Philadelphia safer and our communities more vibrant.”

The resolution authorizes the committee to hold hearings examining data to most effectively implement local strategies and appropriate technologies to reduce violence through the targeted investment of resources, services and environmental improvements. The hearings seek to investigate the available data and necessary analytics that will allow the city to assess conditions affecting these 57+ blocks and the potential for solutions, as well as invite subject matter experts, including those with lived experiences of violence and disinvestment.

“We are excited about this next step in the evolution of this city understanding the importance of non-law enforcement ways of creating public safety,” said the Rev. Gregory Holston, co-facilitator of the 57+ Blocks Coalition. “We thank Councilperson Landau for this resolution and all those, including our Council president, who have co-sponsored it. We look forward to a vigorous hearing and real solutions to continue to reduce gun violence in our city.”

The resolution was approved by a unanimous vote of Council. ••

Sign up for senior softball

The Philadelphia Senior Softball League is looking for experienced players for its 68-and-over and 58-and-over leagues. The 58-plus teams play Tuesdays and Thursdays. The 68-plus teams play Mondays and Fridays. All games start at 10 a.m. and are played at Crispin Fields, at Holme and Convent avenues. Games start mid-April and run till the end of September. No games in July. For the 58-plus league, call Mike Bojanowski at 215-801-4869. For the 68-plus league, call Marty King at 215-409-5021. ••

A year of events at Jewish history museum

The Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History, on Independence Mall, has a full schedule of events in 2024.

The exhibition, The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz, is on view.
Throughout the year, there will be special events, concerts, family-friendly programming, films, antisemitism lectures and book releases.

The museum is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers free admission.

For more information, go to ••

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. ••

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 Mascagni’s L’Amico Fritz on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m., at United Methodist Church of the Redeemer, 1128 Cottman Ave.

For more information, 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. ••

Local author’s novel releases

Tirgearr Publishing released Mayfair author Becky Flade’s latest novel, Fade into the Night. It is the fifth book in Flade’s award-winning series of romantic thrillers set in Philadelphia. It is available at all major digital retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks/iTunes. 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. ••