Hill librarian thanks community

On March 14, I will be retiring from the Chestnut Hill branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

I have been very fortunate to be in a service profession that brings together two of my lifelong interests – reading and people. Over the years, I have helped children and young adults find books and complete homework assignments; I have helped library patrons of all ages locate much-sought-after items; assisted many people with complicated reference queries, and discussed thought-provoking books. It has been an adventure.

Through the years there were times when the Chestnut Hill branch was inadequately staffed but we did our best to offer the best possible service under adverse circumstances. The time has come for someone else to assume the responsibility of making our library a welcoming place for young and old alike.

I would like to thank the Chestnut Hill community and the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library for all the kindness and support shown to me over the last 22 years. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity of working with everyone on your many and varied interests. For you, I wish that you always have something great to read and a lively and vibrant library in your community.

Margaret Brunton

Head Librarian

Chestnut Hill Free Library

New energy for public schools

Over the past decade, the public school system in Philadelphia has been in the midst of an enormous fiscal crisis. Perception of district schools is so low that most families never even step foot into their neighborhood school to see for themselves.

Rather, parents citywide fret over school options for their children, turning towards private schools, charter schools or contemplating moving out of the city. But in Chestnut Hill and elsewhere, parents, businesses and residents have seen the enormous value of a strong community school. Out of this crisis has come hope, as well as the realization that great schools are engines for building momentum and positive growth across the city.

Grassroots energy at individual schools has grown, bringing community partnerships, spreading positive energy and attracting needed funds. This change empowers communities to take back their schools. Here in Chestnut Hill, the Friends of J.S. Jenks has been a leader in this movement.

Since its inception in 2012, the Friends of J.S. Jenks has worked with the school to build partnerships with local business and community organizations, and to enhance infrastructure and programming opportunities at J.S. Jenks. A positive vibe and new vitality are palpable.

The school was renamed J.S. Jenks Academy for the Arts and Sciences to reflect its burgeoning STEM and arts focus, and is one of four schools citywide to be selected for the district’s School Redesign Initiative. This will allow the school to deliver more innovative programs and become a premier school option in Northwest Philadelphia for elementary and middle school.

J.S. Jenks is positioned for growth and renewal as never before, and now is the time to embrace this opportunity. We are asking you to plant a seed for public education in Chestnut Hill, and help us to create strong roots – infrastructure, technology and programming improvements – so our children can grow and thrive.

Whether you have young children, children who are all grown up, or no children at all; whether your children attend Jenks or another school – your support is needed. Everyone in and around Chestnut Hill benefits from having a high quality public school in the neighborhood. It attracts young families and businesses, adds to the vitality of our neighborhood, and creates a space where we can celebrate as a community throughout the year.

Recently, Friends of J.S. Jenks launched its 2015 “Plant a Seed in Chestnut Hill” Community Campaign. The Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District has contributed $17,000 to Friends of J.S. Jenks, which served as a catalyst for this community campaign.

Local businesses up and down the Avenue are hosting donation boxes for quick contributions. It’s also easy to donate online at our website (friendsofjsjenks.org). We even take donations by mail, sent to Friends of J.S. Jenks, P.O. Box 27124. Philadelphia, PA 19118, and we are a federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Everyone can contribute in their own way to help us meet our goal of matching these funds, raising an additional $17,000 by April 25. Every donation brings us closer to our goal, provides immediate benefit to our students, and demonstrates the power of community involvement.

The Friends of J.S. Jenks Board

Haviva M. Goldman, President

Renee Warnick, Co-President

Lauren Wiley, Treasurer

Gerald Tracy, Fundraising Chair

Josh Bryne, Secretary

No fossil fuel energy hub here

Some in City Council think Philadelphia should become an energy hub. They want to build more pipelines, increase the oil tanker traffic and expand our processing facilities. We shall probably also need compressor stations to keep the gas flowing before we export it. Presently Marcus Hook industrial complex would be the site to process the gas.

We in Chestnut Hill may think that’s just fine. Let the poorer communities bear the brunt of this messy process. This doesn’t seem fair. If we want the energy hub, then we should be willing to accept the risks here in Chestnut Hill.

Compressor stations, for example, are very loud, enough to cause hearing problems and hypertension. The pipelines are hazardous as there are frequent fires, explosions, leaks and spills. Even when there are no accidents, fugitive emissions put nitrous oxide, benzene, formaldehyde and other carcinogens into the air.

The tanker cars carrying Bakken oil and gas are no safer. Twelve tanker cars derailed and exploded in West Virginia Feb. 16, causing one house to be instantly incinerated and an evacuation within a half-mile radius of the explosion. Imagine if this happened on Jan. 31 in South Philadelphia when 11 cars derailed or on Jan. 20 when seven cars derailed, one hanging over the Schuylkill. If any of those had caught fire, thousands could have been killed in our densely populated city.

Increasing the city’s capacity to accept more gas and oil is not a benefit to the city. The purpose is to export these fossil fuels to maximize profit for the industry. Our prices will rise accordingly. What do we have to gain? Some temporary construction jobs, though, even come with risks of exposure to carcinogens or accidents.

Personally, I don’t want Philadelphia to be a fossil fuel energy hub. I’d prefer it to be a sustainable energy hub, which would provide many more jobs without the health and environmental risks.

Sandra Folzer, Ph.D.

Chestnut Hill

Moved by Ray Benson article

I was so moved by the article on Ray Benson (“Hill’s 9-time Grammy ‘hillbilly’ to perform in area,” Feb. 26) that we will go to see him Monday night at the World Café Live, even though we are not really fans of country music. I think it is remarkable that this major country music star grew up in Wyndmoor.

I must admit I never heard of him before, but I was moved by the fact that he has encountered anti-Jewish sentiment among country music fans but has overcome it. It is sad that we still have not gotten to the point in this country that we can simply judge people by their character and their talent, regardless of race or religion. We need to grow up!

Dorothy Simms


  • Thomas D’Ulisse

    Since last summer I have noticed a dramatic increase in the noise produced by vehicles cruising along West Evergreen Avenue with highly amplified audio systems playing from 630AM until sometimes as late as 1230AM. These systems are so powerful that they can produce vibrations that rattle the grates on the top of my gas range in the kitchen and shake the contents of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. My apartment sits about 30 feet from the curb and the building has double glazed windows. I informed the 14th Police district about this problem and they apparently monitored the street for a few days last week after the report was made on Tuesday, March 24th. For a few days the noise abated but it has resumed and is as annoying as ever. There is an ordinance on the books that was passed by city council and signed by the mayor in January 2005 which prohibits “excessive noise” (Bill #050749) but it is rarely enforced. We residents must contact our law enforcement representatives and complain about this nuisance so that they take it seriously. There is a meeting on March 10th at 730PM to discuss the crime situation in Chestnut Hill and I intend to be there to bring this issue to the attention to the attendees. Thomas D’Ulisse, resident of Hill House

  • Ann Dixon

    Thank you, Dr, Folzer for your excellent letter! Yesterday, March 5th, yet another oil train derailed. This one was near Galena, Illinois. Eight cars derailed. At least two caught fire, spewing toxic smoke for all to breathe. We are only bidding time until that happens in Philadelphia.
    On March 12th, Philadelphia City Council will vote on a resolution to hold community meetings for those living along the tracks about this important issue. You may come to room 400 on March 12th, at 10 am to speak in favor or witness this. Bring a drivers license to enter city hall.