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Woman wanted in connection with hit-and-run that killed 4-year-old in Kingsessing turns herself in

Posted on 29 July 2015

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Shanika Mason in police custody on Wednesday. Screen shot from CBS3 video.

Police say a woman surrendered this morning in connection with the hit-and-run collision in April that killed a 4-year-old boy.

The black Ford Edge that police believe struck Abdul Wilson near the corner of 57th and Florence was recovered the following day, April 15, in a parking lot under Love Park in Center City, according to reports. Since then, the owner of the vehicle has apparently been negotiating with police through an attorney to turn herself in, which she did this morning.

CBS Philly is reporting that the woman is 27-year-old Shanika Mason of Sharon Hill. Police could not confirm if charges have been filed. We will keep you posted.

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Shakespeare back at Clark Park July 29-Aug 2 with The Winter’s Tale (updated)

Posted on 29 July 2015

UPDATE (7/29/15): The Winter’s Tale shows kick off tonight at Clark Park at 7 p.m., and according to a new announcement from Shakespeare in Clark Park (SCP), they will be raffling gift cards from local businesses:

Also, don’t forget to bring your blanket or chairs, some picnic food (and drinks!) and a little bit of cash (if you can) for a donation. Donations help this awesome event return each summer.

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Free outdoor Shakespeare in Clark shows draw big crowds to the “Bowl” near 43rd and Chester (archived photo/West Philly Local).

Shakespeare in Clark Park (SCP) is celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer with five nights of The Winter’s Tale, a tragicomedy of family and forgiveness. The annual popular outdoor theatre event that draws huge crowds of both locals and guests, returns on Wednesday, July 29 to Clark Park’s “Bowl” near 43rd and Chester.

Those who attended last year’s Henry IV shows must remember the epic battle scenes performed by a crowd of some 100 volunteers from various Philly neighborhoods (it’s truly hard to forget!). This year, a chorus of over 30 Philadelphia-area schoolchildren will perform along the company’s professional actors. Chorus members were selected after spring auditions.

The young performers are an integral part of the show; along with the audience they’re witnessing the triumph and failure of the adults. According to Director Kittson O’Neill, “The Chorus of Children not only helps perform The Winter’s Tale, it also allows the audience a way into this foreign world… It’s a tale of generations and how consequences are often felt most strongly by the next generation.”  Continue Reading

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Excessive heat warning in effect starting at noon

Posted on 29 July 2015

Due to dangerous weather conditions in the region forecasted for today with the temperatures in the mid-90’s and high humidity, Philadelphia Health Commissioner James Buehler has issued an excessive heat warning for Philadelphia beginning at noon. The ‘Heatline’ (215-765-9040) will be in operation from noon through midnight.

Just like on July 19, when the summer’s first heat warning was issued, the City will activate summer heat programs, including enhanced daytime outreach for the homeless. The authorities also encourage the public to check on older friends, relatives, and neighbors.

In a heat wave, the majority of the victims are older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, so health officials urge the public to visit older friends, relatives and neighbors to ensure that air conditioners or fans are working, and homes are adequately ventilated. Other groups at risk in the extreme heat include people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, small children, those who work in a high heat environment and persons engaged in strenuous physical activity.  Continue Reading

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Big fences, small zines and hands-on learning: West Philly in the news

Posted on 28 July 2015

Here’s a round up of some of the latest news coming out of the area.

St. Francis de Sales School photo

St. Francis de Sales School (Photo from greatphillyschools.org).

Cool things are happening at St. Francis de Sales, the local Catholic school. The school recently received a $13,000 grant from the nonprofit faith-based Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia to help fund its Science and Arts Innovative Learning on the River (SAILOR) program. The program provides real-world, hands-on engineering experience to participating students who visit the Delaware river, build boats and learn how to operate them. The program has inspired many St. Francis de Sales students to pursue an education in engineering, according to The Philadelphia Tribune. By the way, the school’s highly-acclaimed after-school music program, Play On Philly!, has also been featured in the news many times.

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Photo from Phillysoapbox.org.

Have you checked out The Soapbox yet? Philadelphia City Paper has recently published a nice feature on the West Philly-based independent publishing center. Co-founders Mary Tasillo and Charlene Kwon opened the space at 741 S. 51st St in 2011 to be used as a community studio for book arts and zine-making. Now, in addition to the studio, which is free to use for their members, The Soapbox also hosts a variety of workshops and houses a vast collection of zines (about 1,500!), over 500 of which have been cataloged. In other independent publishing news, the annual Philly Zine Fest will take place at The Rotunda (40th and Walnut) on Aug. 30Continue Reading

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A leaking barrel appears: Hazardous waste dumping on S. 51st Street

Posted on 28 July 2015

This leaking barrel of oil has been dumped at 51st and Warrington Streets, according to neighbor reports. There are two community gardens within a block.

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Twitter photos by Kate Garchinsky.

Another barrel (not leaking), along with construction waste, has been reported half a block east.

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Philly311 has been notified and issued a request to the servicing department:

We’ll keep you posted on further developments. “Drive by” trash dumping often occurs in some areas of the city, and the Streets Department is responsible for the cleanup of illegal dumping found on city streets. If you want to report illegal dumping on your block, here is an online form. You can also call 311 (215-686-8686 for cell phones). If you’re a Twitter user you can tweet to Philly311 (@philly311). Please include the address where illegal dumping was found. Information on proper disposal of bulk items and construction debris can be found here.

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Block captains wanted to bring a piece of their street to 40th St. storefront

Posted on 27 July 2015

The  windows along 40th Street that will house "Windowwishes."

The windows along 40th Street that will house “Windowwishes.” Photo from the ThemThatDo website.

Local photographer and artist Lori Waselchuk is looking for some block captains to help her create a window installation for vacant storefront windows along 40th Street.

Entitled “Windowishes,” the street exhibit will include everything from video and archival photographs to neighborhood objects and crafts and will coincide with the Center for Emerging and Visual Artists’ Philadelphia Open Studio Tours (POST) on Oct. 17 and 18. The installation will be in those seven storefront windows on the west side of 40th Street between Chestnut and Ludlow.

Waselchuk, who has shared block captain’s stories in the multimedia project ThemThatDo, said that the planning for the exhibition will begin in August. So if you are a block captain or know one who is interested in showing the community the vitality, history and distinctiveness of your block, go to the project website here and sign up.

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Police charge handyman in murder of Jasmine Wright (updated)

Posted on 24 July 2015

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Jasmine Wright

Police have charged a 56-year-old handyman in the murder of West Philly resident and Drexel University graduate Jasmine Wright.

Police allege that James Harris, who police say has an extensive arrest record, sexually assaulted and strangled Wright, 27, in her apartment near 50th and Locust. Her body was found on July 15, about 24 hours after the murder.

Harris worked in the building but was fired about a week earlier, according to reports. Police say he still had a set of keys to the building and that his fingerprints and DNA were found on the scene.

Wright, who received her master’s degree at Drexel University’s School of Public Health a few weeks ago, was found beaten and strangled last Thursday afternoon in a bedroom of her third floor apartment after her father had tried to reach her by phone and finally asked the property manager to check on her.

Originally from New York City, Wright received her bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania State University. She had lived in West Philly for about two years while she was attending Drexel’s graduate program. Her neighbors described her as a quiet and sweet girl, who mostly kept to herself. Her friends remember her as a funny and caring woman.

Harris had 31 prior arrests, police said, including sexual assaults. He was also convicted in 1982 for the murder of his own father. He had been in custody since July 19, when he was detained on suspicion of robbery and trespassing for re-entering the building.

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Lots of live music, fun at 40th Street Summer Festival and more events this Saturday

Posted on 24 July 2015

MixedPeople

Mixed People band will perform this Saturday at 40th and Walnut.

The 40th Street Summer Festival which includes dazzling acts ranging from jugglers and fire dancers to puppets and percussions, kicks off at 5 p.m. this Saturday (July 25) in the green space behind the Walnut West Library near 40th and Walnut.

The festival will also feature live music from Mixed People, Red Cedar Strings (Facebook page) and Au Jus, and entertainment and activities for the whole family.

nejoehill-roadshow-philadelphiaLater on Saturday the University Lutheran Church (3637 Chestnut St.) will host the Joe Hill Roadshow, a tour commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of International Workers of the World activist and songwriter Joe Hill. Hill, who was executed in 1915, had a long-lasting influence on radical organizing in the country. The tribute concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and includes music from MagpieCharlie King, George Mann and special guest John Braxton. Tickets for this show are also available at Bindlestiff Books at 4530 Baltimore Ave.

For more upcoming events, please visit our Events Calendar.

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Registration for 2015 Block Captains Forum ends July 27

Posted on 24 July 2015

Here’s a great opportunity for local block captains to meet other captains, share their experience and better their community organizing and other skills. The annual West and Southwest Philadelphia Block Captains Forum will take place at Philadelphia Boys’ Latin Charter School (55th and Cedar) on Saturday, Aug. 15, and registration for the forum is open through July 27. Several free workshops will be held at the one-day event, including Crime and Safety, Community Organizing 101, Vacant Land Management, and more.

Block captains who are registered with the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee (PMBC) are encouraged to attend this event and can register for the forum by contacting The Partnership CDC/NAC Office at 215-662-1612 or at 4020 Market St. See the flier below for more information.

Blockcaptains

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Philly Student Union looks to community to raise funds for new space

Posted on 22 July 2015

The West Philly-based student leadership and public education advocacy group, Philadelphia Student Union (PSU), a highly visible and effective youth organization in the city, is launching a fundraising campaign to help cover rent for a new space.

PSU, which has been around for some 20 years, has been operating without an office for a couple of months. For many years they worked out of a small space at 42nd and Chestnut until they had to move this past spring due to rising rental costs. Previously headquartered at 50th St and Baltimore Avenue, PSU plans to stay in West Philadelphia, with the goal of settling somewhere on the 52nd Street corridor.

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PSU members at the #reclaimMLK march on January 19, 2015 (Facebook photo).

PSU is looking to raise $11,000, which will help them cover everything from rent increases to moving costs.

PSU’s mission is to give young people the tools and skills to organize and fight for better public education in the city of Philadelphia. In their new space, PSU intends to continue holding political workshops covering topics from structural racism, school funding and the school-to-prison pipeline. These workshops are open to all high school aged youth. PSU also holds youth-led media literacy programs, which are meant to educate youth on different ways to communicate their message. One of these programs is a radio production program called On Blast, which gives youth an opportunity to portray how they want to be represented in the media.

“Through organizing, media production, and leadership development, PSU gives young people the tools and skills they need to learn how to change the world around them,” said youth media organizer Beth Patel.

The fundraising campaign can be found on IndieGoGo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-philadelphia-student-union-needs-a-home

Rana Fayez

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Triple shooting near 46th and Market (updated)

Posted on 21 July 2015

UPDATE (7/22/2015, 11:30 a.m.): More details are in on Tuesday night’s shooting near 46th and Market. Police say a gunman fired at least six shots at a group of people walking down the steps on the north side of Market Street near the El stop. Police followed a trail of blood from the shooting scene to the nearby Westpark Apartments complex. Two females, ages 16 and 19, and a 17-year-old male were shot in their legs and feet and were taken to the hospital. The 19-year-old woman was with two young children, who were not injured in the shooting, according to reports. Police said the gunman was in a black sedan. No physical description of the shooter was available.

One of the victims told police that the shooting stemmed from an ongoing dispute between people who frequent or live in the Westpark Apartments complex near 46th and Market who call themselves the “Jet Boys” and a group from near 51st and Parrish who call themselves the “Pit Boys,” according to a police report.

7/21/2015, 11:32 p.m.: Police are reporting that three people, two females and one male, were shot Tuesday night shortly before 11 p.m. near 46th and Market. The victims were taken to the hospital with leg wounds, according to police. Stay tuned for more information.

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Fire reported near 48th and Walnut

Posted on 21 July 2015

UPDATE (6:45 p.m.): The fire is under control. No one was injured, according to a paramedic on the scene.

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UPDATE (6:30 p.m.): The fire broke out at a row home on the south side of the 4800 block of Walnut St. shortly after 6 p.m. Fire crews are on the scene.

6:20 p.m.: West Philly Local readers are reporting a fire near 48th and Locust/Walnut. Stay tuned as we’re trying to get more information.

fire48thLocust

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Friday jazz at Cedar Park extended and jazz at the 40th Street parklet begins Wednesday

Posted on 21 July 2015

Friday night jazz at Cedar Park. Photo from Twitter feed of @DrStephenDavis.

Great news for local jazz fans and anyone who enjoys outdoor music and hanging with neighbors. The popular Cedar Park Jazz series, which runs every summer in the park at 49th and Baltimore, has been extended until August 14.

The Broke and Blue Band will perform this Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The two added dates – August 7 and 14 – will feature Dr. Ketchup (Aug. 7) and Clint Washington and Friends (Aug. 14). Side By Soul will take the stage next Friday.

And as if that isn’t enough live jazz … Jake’s Sandwich Board, a restaurant in that new building on 40th Street near Sansom, has announced (Facebook page) that there will be live music every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the World’s Largest Parklet (on 40th Street across from Fresh Grocer). Yes, jazz at the parklet is now a thing. Don’t forget that while the parklet fronts a bunch of businesses, you don’t necessarily have to patronize one to sit there. It’s a park, just like any other park.

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Service, candlelight vigil tonight for Jasmine Wright, the young woman found dead last week in 50th St. apartment

Posted on 20 July 2015

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Jasmine Wright

A Healing For The Community service followed by a candlelight vigil for 27-year-old Jasmine Wright, the woman found dead in her 50th Street apartment last week, will take place tonight, from 7 – 8 p.m. at Monumental Baptist Church, 4948 Locust St.

Wright, who received her master’s degree at Drexel University’s School of Public Health a few weeks ago, was found beaten and strangled in her apartment on the 200 block of S. 50th Street, police said. Her body was found last Thursday afternoon in a bedroom of her third floor apartment after her father had tried to reach her by phone and finally asked the property manager to check on her. Police said she may have been dead for 24 hours. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment, which made police believe that Jasmine may have known her attacker.

On Saturday, police were questioning a person of interest, reportedly a handyman who had access to Jasmine’s home. No arrests have been made yet.

Originally from New York City, Wright received her bachelor’s degree at Pennsylvania State University. She had lived in West Philly for about two years while she was attending Drexel’s graduate program. Her neighbors described her as a quiet and sweet girl, who mostly kept to herself. Her friends remember her as a funny and caring woman.

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Excessive heat warning issued in Philadelphia for Sunday, July 19

Posted on 19 July 2015

With the temperatures in the mid-90’s and heat index into 100’s, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for Philadelphia beginning at noon today. The warning signals the activation of the City’s special summer heat programs, including enhanced daytime outreach for the homeless. The authorities also encourage the public to check on older friends, relatives, and neighbors.

The ‘Heatline’ (215-765-9040) will be in operation from noon through midnight on Sunday and from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday.

In a heat wave, the majority of the victims are older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, so health officials urge the public to visit older friends, relatives and neighbors to ensure that air conditioners or fans are working, and homes are adequately ventilated. Other groups at risk in the extreme heat include people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, small children, those who work in a high heat environment and persons engaged in strenuous physical activity.

People who do not have air conditioning are advised to seek relief from the heat, for at least some part of the day, in shopping malls, movie theaters, senior centers and other air-conditioned public spaces.

Please avoid, as much as possible working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas, stay hydrated and if you have difficulty breathing or experience any other serious heat stress symptoms seek immediate medical attention.

Also, keep your pets inside and give them plenty of water.

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Parklet mania on 40th Street

Posted on 17 July 2015

So folks seem to be going bananas about the new parklet – the biggest one yet – that the University City District has installed outside of the new building on 40th Street across from The Fresh Grocer at 125 S. 40th. That’s the boxy building with Hai Street Kitchen, Zesto Pizza and Grill, Jake’s Sandwich Board and Dunkin Donuts. It’s 60 feet long – the parklet that is – and the usual 6 feet wide.

This big ole parklet spans the length of the building and has caught the eye of folks around the Twittersphere. Here is everything you need to know about the new parklet:

Plan Philly claims it’s the “largest parklet on Earth”:


NewsWorks (A WHYY jawn) calls it a “Super-parklet”:

Curbed Philly has a video of it being put together:

And the Philadelphia Business Journal called it a “magnet for social activity”:

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Young woman found beaten, strangled in her apartment near 50th and Locust (updated)

Posted on 16 July 2015

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Jasmine Wright (Facebook photo).

UPDATE (7/17/2015): Police have identified the victim as 27-year-old Jasmine Wright. Wright’s body was found with head and neck injuries, and she appeared to have been beaten and strangled. The Philadelphia Inquirer reporters spoke to Wright’s neighbors who described her as a quiet, sweet and beautiful girl who mostly stayed by herself. According to Wright’s Facebook page, she graduated from Drexel University School of Public Health last month.

The investigation continues.

(7/16/2015, 7:15 p.m.): A 27-year-old woman was found dead Thursday afternoon in her apartment on the 200 block of S. 50th Street, according to various reports. The woman was reportedly beaten and strangled. She lived alone in the apartment. She was pronounced dead on the scene at around 2:35 p.m., police told The Philadelphia Inquirer. According to police, the woman was found by the property manager of her apartment building after her father had tried calling her for several days. Police found no sign of break in, and nothing was taken from the apartment.

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‘We’re getting tired': Long-time restaurateurs put The Gold Standard up for sale

Posted on 16 July 2015

goldstandardcafeAbout 35 years ago Roger Harman and a partner opened a small café in a former laundromat at 47th and Chester. They named it The Gold Standard. A few years later they renamed it The Palladium and moved it to Penn’s Arts, Research and Culture House (ARCH) on Locust Walk where it operated for 20 years.

Then, Harman teamed up with Vince Whittacre to open Abbraccio, an Italian restaurant at 47th and Warrington (where the Vietnam Café is now). That closed, but six years ago they were back in business at 48th and Baltimore with a name that saluted the old days, opening The Gold Standard Café, the ever-pleasant coffee shop/restaurant/outdoor bistro that quickly became an institution along that section of Baltimore Avenue.

Now it’s on the market.

“We’re getting tired,” said Harman.

He couldn’t provide too many details on the effort to sell the restaurant, but said that its future will be a lot more clear in a week or two. We’ll keep you posted.

Mike Lyons

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No trolley service to/from Center City July 31 – Aug. 17

Posted on 16 July 2015

The annual Center City Trolley Tunnel maintenance and construction project (SEPTA Trolley Tunnel Blitz) is scheduled for July 31 – Aug. 17, 2015, which means there will be no trolley service in the tunnel during this period. Trolley Routes 10, 11, 13, 34 and 36 will not operate in the tunnel from 10 p.m. on Friday, July 31 through 4 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 17 while SEPTA crews complete a variety of power, track and station improvement projects.

During the 16-day tunnel closure, passengers can use the Market-Frankford Line from 40th Street station to travel to and from Center City. All trolleys will be diverted to 40th and Market Streets where passengers can switch to subway service at no additional cost.

During the Blitz, SEPTA crews will replace almost 7,500 feet (more than one mile) of track on the westbound side of the tunnel between 22nd Street Station and the 40th Street Portal.

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