Though it has been promised before, it looks like the City of Chester will finally get a grocery store after more than 11 years of being what Bill Clark calls a “food desert.”
Clark, executive director of the region’s largest food bank, Philabundance, hosted local, state and federal legislators and members of the public at a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday morning at the future site of Fare and Square, the nation’s first nonprofit grocery store.
Chester has been without a grocery store since the West End Market closed in August 2001. The new venture will be located in the same space at Ninth Street and Trainer Avenue.
“In the spring, a new grocery store will open right here in the City of Chester,” Clark said. “We’ve come a long way in a project that will be a game-changer.”
The store will be operated by Philabundance, but will create 25 to 30 new jobs. Store Manager Noah Langnas said hires will be made from within Chester whenever possible.
“That’s 25 or 30 job opportunities we’ve never had in this community,” said state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester.
Fare and Square, a members-only store, will provide access to healthy foods at affordable prices. Membership is free and open to anyone. Those that can demonstrate a need can be enrolled in a special rebate program where 10 percent of their purchases will be refunded in the form of “Fare and Square Bucks.” The vouchers can be used toward future purchases at the store. The healthy food distributor will fill a much-needed gap according to some of the gathered officials.
“It’s a healthy alternative for our citizens,” said Chester Mayor John Linder.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had a challenge here in providing an affordable, healthy access to food,” state Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9. of Chester said. “This is something the citizens of the City of Chester have been waiting a long time for.”
The 13,000-sqaure-foot store will feature a produce cooler near the front of the store, along with a meat department and seafood space, and dry goods along the back wall.
“We’re not going to be the health police, but we will try to offer some healthier options,” Langnas said.
The nonprofit aspect of the endeavor will ensure that prices are affordable and that customers in need will be able to buy staples at a bargain.
“What we’re all about is trying to stretch the customer’s food dollars,” Langnas said. “The prices will be as low as possible. If we make a profit, we’ll lower prices.”
The project took seven years of brainstorming, planning, testing and maneuvering to become a reality, Clark said, and it was done with the help of many in the community. At Thursday’s groundbreaking, Sunoco CEO Brian MacDonald presented a check for $200,000 to Philabundance, half of which is earmarked for capital needs at the store. More than 100 other supporters donated anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 to make the store a reality.
Clark credited U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, D-1,of Philadelphia, with pushing the idea through, saying that the two met many times over the past few years, and that Brady “kicked my butt.”
“We were both kicking in the same direction,” Brady joked. “We all came together.”
Extensive renovations are set to begin next week. According to Langnas, the entire interior of the building will be gutted, leaving nothing but the existing exterior walls.
A Family Dollar store housed in the building will be reconfigured to turn the grocery store’s space from an L-shaped layout into a more manageable rectangular space. The six-month construction plan puts some pressure on the managers, who aim to open sometime in the spring.
“We’re up against it right now,” Langnas said.
Clark, whose organization distributes more than 20 million pounds of food in the region each year, said the problem of getting food to people who need it has become a larger issue than people not being able to afford food. Fare and Square aims to address both problems.
“A store like this is as much a food access solution as it is a hunger solution,” he said.
The store will serve as a testing range for the concept of nonprofit grocery stores, and Clark said he hopes the idea will be scalable for use in other areas with similar problems as Chester. He said the city is the perfect spot for the first store of its kind because the citizens need it and want it.
“At the end of the day, it won’t be Philabundance that makes this a success, it will be the people of Chester,” Clark said.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report
All of those obsolete or defective computers and televisions in the house can be properly disposed of when Delaware County holds a Household Hazardous Waste/E-Waste Recycling Event 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Upper Chichester Municipal Building, 8500 Furey, Upper Chichester.
This is the fourth and final Household Hazardous collection for 2012. Delaware County residents are invited to remove toxic products from their homes along with computers, televisions and other small electronic appliances and safely dispose of them at the Household Hazard Waste collection event.
There will be no other collection events until the spring of 2013, so if people are moving or cleaning out their homes, this is the perfect opportunity to dispose of household hazardous waste such as pesticides, propane tanks, gasoline, motor oil, fungicides and antifreeze.
Delaware County Recycling Manager Sue Cordes said residents should be aware that starting on Jan. 24, 2013, the Covered Device Recycling Act (CDRA) of 2010 will go into effect and it will be illegal to dispose of covered devices such as: computers, laptops, monitors and televisions curbside for trash pickups. Haulers will no longer be allowed to accept these items at the curb.
“Consequently the Oct. 13 collection is a good time to dispose of these electronic devices,” Cordes said. “With the growing number of electronic devices that are entering the waste stream, we saw a growing need to recycle these items responsibly.”
Rapid changes in technology, falling prices and planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast-growing surplus of electronic waste. She said small appliances that will be accepted at the Oct. 13 event include stereo/DVD systems, microwaves/toasters, blenders/mixers, power tools, hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, electric typewriters and adding machines. Items, which contain Freon, will not be accepted. Businesses are not eligible to participate.
Delaware County Council Vice-Chairman Mario J. Civera Jr., Council’s liaison to the Solid Waste Authority, said the Household Hazard Waste collection events provide opportunities for residents to dispose of household hazardous waste in a safe, environmentally-sound manner.
“Delaware County has always been environmentally conscious. Even before it was mandated, we started one of the first curbside recycling programs in the state in the 1970s,” Vice-Chair Civera said. “Now we recognize the importance of recycling or properly disposing of all of these electronic items, or e-waste. Some of these electronics contain elements that are contaminants and dangerous to our environment.”
It is estimated that the United States tosses away 3 million tons of electronics each year
In addition to e-waste, categories of products to take to the Household Hazardous Waste
Collections include: flammables, pesticides, caustics, rechargeable household batteries, lead-acid batteries and propane tanks which weigh less than 20 pounds.
Residents may also take oil-based paint, paint thinner, varnish, kerosene, gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, weed killers, fungicides, items containing mercury and cell phones.
Products which won’t be accepted at the collections are any unidentifiable waste, latex paint, asbestos, biological waste, explosives, gas cylinders, alkaline batteries, PCBs, pressurized CFCs and radioactive waste.
For additional information and a full list of recycling events and items that are accepted, visit the Delaware County website at www.co.delaware.pa.us and go to recycling, or call the Delaware County Solid Waste Authority at (610) 892-9627.
Warner Days was the supervisor of the ULAR (University Laboratory Animal Resources) Department at the University of Pennsylvania.
He died Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. He was 37.
He was born May 14, 1975, in Philadelphia to Hattie Breazeale and the late Warner Simons.
Days was a graduate of University City High School. He was also a part of the West Philadelphia Upward Bound program, where he obtained a full scholarship to college.
“Warner was always known for working hard to earn a buck,” his family said.
He started working at the early age of 13. His first job was at the Variety Discount Store on Lancaster Avenue in West Philadelphia. He worked as a temporary lab technician at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. The following year, he became a full-time employee as a lab technician. In 2005, he was promoted to supervisor of the ULAR Department.
In the mid-1990s, Days married Dinetta Walton and this union was blessed with a son, Warner Hakeem Days. The couple later divorced.
In 2008, Days was baptized and joined Victory Christian Center.
Days was a very dedicated father, friend, brother, co-worker and all around great person. He loved the New York Giants football team and was a true fan. Days also had a great sense of fashion. He loved to play, party and make people laugh.
In addition to his mother and son, Days is survived by his fiancée, Linda Ann Williams; brother, Nathan Joseph Days; sisters, Sabrina Maria Mosby and Carolyn Tamika Breazeale; brother-in-law, Danny LeRoy Mosby Jr.; sister-in-law, Tracey Renee Days; three nephews; three nieces; one great-niece; one great-nephew; and other relatives and friends.
Services were held Sept. 29 at Victory Christian Center, 5220 Whitby Ave.
Francis Funeral Home handled the arrangements.
Bill would let Council control 10 percent of budget
City Council would have the authority to set spending priorities for up to 10 percent of city spending, if voters approve a proposal introduced in Council Thursday by First District Councilman Mark Squilla.
The city charter gives the mayor’s office the exclusive power to draw up budgets, which are then approved by Council, the body that holds the authority to raise revenue.
Squilla would like Council to have more power when it comes to spending.
“It will give Council a little more leverage,” he said. “A lot of times people say, ‘Go and see your Council member and see if they can get any more money for you.’ Well, we can try, but we really have no authority to do that. This will give us the ability to at least pinpoint a couple of dollars to specific causes.”
The mayor’s office declined to comment.
“We haven’t seen it yet,” said spokesman Mark McDonald. “So, I really can’t comment other than to say that if and when these bills get scheduled for hearing, we would offer testimony.”
He declined to elaborate further.
The concept requires a change to the city charter, which can only be granted by voters in a referendum. Squilla told reporters that he would like to see a question put on the ballot next May.
“Hopefully, it would be enacted before the next budget,” he said. “It would go to voters and they would have to decide, in the end, if they think they want Council to have authority of up to 10 percent the budget to be able to manipulate that money.”
His proposal would apply to both the operating and capital budget. Had it been in place during the last budget cycle, Council would have had the ability to independently spend about $300 million.
Squilla’s proposal came three weeks after Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed another Squilla proposal that would have created a $4 surcharge on parking tickets — giving $2 to the Philadelphia Parking Authority and $2 to the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Councilman said his new bill was unrelated to the veto, but admitted that he would like to have seen Parks and Recreation get more money this year.
“It’s not about throwing it back. It’s about working as a team,” Squilla said. “We get to suggest certain things to the administration, but there is never really that give and take where we get to say where we need money.”
In other news, Council unanimously approved a resolution supporting a recent Commonwealth Court decision that found Act 13 — the state law that gives state government, not municipalities, authority of natural gas wells and related infrastructure.
The vote came after a number of residents asked for Council’s support.
“This is a very important issue,” said Shannon Pendleton, of Delaware Riverkeepers. “We have families and communities across the commonwealth who are being sacrificed for shale gas drilling.”
Judge must make decision about injunction by Tuesday Oct. 2
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson did not issue a ruling Thursday, as a third hearing over the state’s controversial voter ID law wrapped up in Harrisburg. By order of the state Supreme Court, he must decide whether or not to delay implementation of the law by next Tuesday — just 35 days before Election Day.
Simpson heard testimony Tuesday and Thursday as lawyers representing voter advocates laid out the hurdles voters face as they attempt to get a state-approved ID so they can vote on November 6. State officials told Simpson they are in the process of making it easier for voters to get the ID they need. And, attorneys for the state argued that the law is necessary to deter voter fraud.
According to the Associated Press, Simpson has hinted that an injunction is possible before the presidential election.
Nevertheless, he did not issue his decision in court Thursday.
The new law requires voters to show a state-approved form of photo ID, such as a driver’s license, passport, active duty military identification, nursing home ID or college student ID.
Before its passage in March, voters were required to show identification only the first time they voted, and were allowed to use things like utility bills or bank statements.
It is the second time the case has come before Simpson, who initially denied the request for a preliminary injunction that would have delayed the law’s implementation until after the election. In that ruling, issued on August 15, Simpson said the plaintiffs did not show that “disenfranchisement was immediate or inevitable.”
That decision was appealed to the state Supreme Court, which, earlier this month, threw the case back to Simpson. The high court ordered him to issue an injunction by Tuesday if he finds the state has not met the law’s promise of providing free and easy access to a photo ID or if he believes it will prevent any registered voters from casting a ballot.
Critics of the law charge that it will disenfranchise young, old, poor and minority voters.
Some estimates suggest that as many as one in three Philadelphians lack a state-approved ID.
One local study suggested that approximately 39 percent of active African-American voters in Philadelphia — more than 152,000 people — lack state-required photo identification needed to cast their ballots. That compares to about 82,000 — or about 20 percent — of active white voters who lack proper identification.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.