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Philadelphia news relevant to our local communities.

Philly neighborhood civic group steals money

Is your neighborhood civic group siphoning off money from residents? Neighborhood civic groups are made to empower residents and give them a voice in the community and city. Civic organizations are supposed to be nonprofit; money gathered should ideally go to support projects that benefit the neighborhood.

We’ve received a report that a civic organization may be using some of that government grant money to either line the pockets of their board members or invest in projects that are of little benefit to their neighborhood. The organization is currently under investigation.

How transparent is your neighborhood organization? Do you know what money comes in and where they go? More importantly, are your neighborhood needs being met? Are the residents fairly represented or do board members keep you in the dark?

Just recently, developers of Live! Hotel & Casino agreed to grant approximately $750,000 a year to five South Philly neighborhood groups in order to win their support.

The grants will be administered by a community advisory board with members from the five community groups:

  • Sports Complex Special Services District
  • Stadium Community Council
  • Veterans Stadium Neighbors Civic Association
  • Whitman Council
  • South Philadelphia Communities Civic Association

This is a lot of money, but the exchange is allowing gambling in the residential neighborhoods. The casino will be paying the community groups, but will the groups ensure the money benefit the residents?

Pennsport Beer Peddlers: a successful opening

Philadelphia’s most recently opened beer retailer has been enjoying the fine weather and support of local beer enthusiasts. Beer Peddlers, located at 1942 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd in the Pennsport neighborhood of South Philly, has seen tremendous success since it’s opening last week.

Part of the success may be due to the fact that is located next to Fine Wine and Good Spirits Store. Mostly, we think it’s due to their large selection of craft, import, and domestic beers.

Pennsport Beer Peddlers
Beer Peddlers is located right next to the liquor store (image via Beer Peddlers Facebook)
Pennsport Beer Peddlers Opening Doors
Beer Peddlers opens their door wide in support of the fine weather (image via Beer Peddlers Facebook)

SEPTA Key: New Fare System Launches

The latest update from Septa reveals that SEPTA Key will be launched at the end of this year or by 2016 at the latest. The new fare system, which has been installed in most SEPTA stations for months now, will allow users to purchase reloadable cards. Tokens will be phased out completely.

Modeled after Chicago’s transportation system, this new fare system will let users use their transit cards as debit cards and use their debit cards to pay for rides on buses, trolleys and the subway systems.

SEPTA Key fare system

SEPTA is still working out kinks to ensure that the failures and errors with CTA’s Ventra card will not be an issue with SEPTA Key.

SEPTA Key new system

TD Bank Robber Still Wanted in Whitman

Police and FBI are still searching for a suspect who robbed TD Bank in South Philadelphia last Wednesday, October 15th. The robbery occurred in broad daylight at the TD Bank branch on the 2600 block of South 5th Street in the Whitman neighborhood.

Investigators said the suspect walked into the bank at 3:22 p.m. and handed the teller a demand note. He then escaped with an unknown amount of cash before fleeing east on Oregon Avenue.

Whitman Bank Robber

Police described the suspect as a black male in his 30s, 5’5″ to 5’9″ tall with a medium build and glasses. He wore a black and white jacket, a black and white Nike cap, and dark-colored pants and shoes. This subject is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information about this robbery or this subject is urged to call the FBI at 215-418-4000 or the Philadelphia Police Department. There is a reward for information leading to the suspect’s capture and tipsters can remain anonymous.

Additional images of the suspect:

TD Bank Robber

Whitman Bank Robber

Whitman Bank Robber

Whitman Bank Robber

Please help keep the neighborhoods safe and report any crime.

Want to submit a tip anonymously? Use the online form or email tips@phillypolice.com. You can also call 215.686.TIPS (8477) or text PPDTIP (773847)

Wegmans Opening in South Philly? Close

Wegmans announces plans regarding new store openings, but not where everyone has been anticipating.

Rumor has been floating around about a Wegmans opening in South Philadelphia for years now. Most of it was wishful thinking, with a lot of wishing. In fact, the Wegmans fan base is so strong around here that there are dozens of Facebook fan pages and support groups based around it – despite the lack of stores. It doesn’t help that their are so many Philadelphia locations that would be ideal for the popular supermarket.

Wegmans plans new openings in PA in 2015 and 2016
Wegmans plans new openings in PA in 2015 and 2016

It has been confirmed again and again that Wegmans is not coming to Broad and Washington and most definitely not coming to Snyder Plaza, where ShopRite will soon move from.

All is not lost, however, as Wegmans has announced its plans to open two new stores in Pennsylvania. The first one opens in just a couple of weeks in Concordville. The second location, pending opening date, will be located in Lancaster. Although not in Philadelphia, fans of the store can be hopeful that Wegmans is expanding its stores and approaching the city.

New Wegmans Opening in PA:

Concordville, PA
202 near Route 1
Nov. 8, 2015

Lancaster, PA
Harrisburg Pike, just east of its
Interchange with U.S. Route 30
TBD

Snyder Plaza ShopRite moves to Oregon Ave as Pathmark Closes

A &P’s Pathmark located in Whitman Plaza on 3rd and Oregon will officially close come November 3rd, 2015. The ShopRite store at Snyder Plaza will be moving to the more spacious Oregon Ave location come Spring 2016, according to sources at ShopRite.

ShopRite hopes to expand its store at the new location by offering a sit-in cafe, dietician, and additional upscale features. Sources hint at a grand plan to develop Whitman Plaza and nearby neighborhoods, bringing in new residents, more jobs, and tight security features; all while maintaining the same low cost to consumers. The expected influx of businesses and jobs is intended to draw in new and diverse residents, further developing the neighborhood.

Snyder Plaza ShopRite moving to Whitman Plaza 2016

The building where Pathmark once stood will be completely renovated to give ShopRite a specific modern appeal, the first of it’s kind in Philadelphia. ShopRite was unclear about their planned security features and specific plans to clean up the neighborhood. Their decision to go green will mostly depend on neighborhood associations and nearby residents.

The new ShopRite does not advertise a pharmacy department. Pathmark’s pharmacy department closes October 31, 2015. Prescriptions have been sold to RiteAid Pharmacy. Consumers with prescriptions or refills at Pathmark Pharmacy in Whitman Plaza will have to contact RiteAid to get their prescriptions. Alternatively, customers can have their new pharmacy of choice contact RiteAid and transfer all their prescriptions.

Update: ShopRite announces opening of ShopRite of Whitman Plaza in early 2016 | ShopRite finalizes opening date of September 2016 after months delay

Temple Students Robbed at Gunpoint – Again!

NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Two Temple University students were robbed at gunpoint in separate incidents early Thursday in North Philadelphia.

Temple Robbed

The first incident happened at 1 a.m. near Temple’s campus, near the intersection of N. 10th Street and Susquehanna Avenue.

Police say a 21-year-old male student was approached by two men who threatened him with a gun and took his wallet, phone and car. The student was not injured. Police are looking for the victim’s 2005 Cadillac with New Jersey license plates.

About two and a half hours later, around 3:30 a.m., a second male Temple student was robbed at gunpoint while walking home. That incident happened on Temple’s campus, in the 1800 block of N. 15th Street.

Temple TU Alerts from the University:

TU Alert: Armed robbery reported at 10th Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Use caution. Avoid the area. Police are responding.
12:47 AM – 15 Oct 2015

TU Alert: Armed robbery reported at 1800 N 15th Street. Use caution. Avoid the area. Police are responding.
4:02 AM – 15 Oct 2015

Lucky $20,000 Winner and Tim Howard Four Blocked Penalty Shots

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — One skilled fan’s life became $20,000 richer when el Jimador Tequila “Your Shot at $1 Million” program awarded Bryce Pigott, from Gilbert, Arizona, the prize after he successfully kicked a penalty shot against U.S. National and Everton goalkeeper, Tim Howard. Five sweepstakes winners were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a penalty shot against Howard, and then a shot for the chance to win $1 million dollars. Tim Howard’s charity partner the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome, prevailed as the ultimate winner collecting $105,000 in funds raised for the organization.

Randomly selected from more than 100,000 entries for the “Your Shot at $1 Million Dollars” program, the other four sweepstakes winners included Andy Acton of Rochester, NY, Dana Elaine of Philadelphia, PA, Matt Gold of Denver, CO and Alex Varela of Dallas, TX. They were all flown to New York along with a guest and had an opportunity to meet Tim Howard, attend the U.S. vs. Costa Rica game on Oct. 13, and enjoy some of New York’s hot spots, courtesy of el Jimador Tequila.

“Since becoming an active soccer sponsor, we’ve been committed to offering adult consumers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that go beyond soccer matches and bring fans closer to their favorite players,” said Ed Carias, Senior Brand Manager, el Jimador. “‘Your Shot’ has been one of the most successful programs to date and we could not have had a better partner than Tim Howard who is as passionate about his craft, as we are about making quality tequila.”

The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome, where Howard serves on the board, received funds raised throughout the program by adult consumers who used #KICKTS hashtag in their social media posts as well as $20,000 awarded for each shot blocked by Howard totaling $105,000.

“What a beautiful day for a shoot out here in New York City. Congrats to Bryce for an excellent shot,” exclaims Tim Howard. “And, we have another winner today – The New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome. And, thanks to el Jimador for a wonderful partnership.”

To speak with a brand representative regarding the contest or el Jimador, please contact Havas FORMULATIN at casaherradura@formulatin.com.

El Jimador Tequila encourages you to drink responsibly.

About el Jimador Tequila

From Casa Herradura, established in 1870, el Jimador is a premium, authentic 100 percent agave tequila that captures the spirit of real tequila. The name el Jimador honors the men who harvest the locally grown agave with great pride and care. Since its introduction in 1994, el Jimador has become the No. 1 selling 100 percent agave tequila in Mexico*. el Jimador is the official sponsor of the annual U.S. Tour of the Mexican National Team and MLS teams including the Houston Dynamo, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. To learn more about el Jimador, visit www.eljimador.com.

Alc. 40% by Vol. (80 proof) Tequila, Imported by Brown-Forman, Louisville, KY
* Nielsen/ISCAM January 2015
SOURCE el Jimador Tequila

CONTACT: Jane Rubenstein, (502) 774-7164, Jane_rubenstein@b-f.com, or Berenice Gonzales, (212) 219-0321, gonzales@havasformulatin.com

Health Insurance Rates Decrease by $81 Million in 2016, Insurance Department Announces

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today announced 2016 rates for individual and small group health insurance plans offered in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for these plans begins November 1.

“With the announcement of these rates, Commissioner Miller is continuing my administration’s push for consumer protection across the commonwealth,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “We are working to guarantee that Pennsylvanians can continue to shop for their best coverage options in a competitive insurance marketplace, while still paying reasonable prices.”

Commissioner Miller said the approved rates will save Pennsylvania consumers nearly $81 million compared to the rates proposed by insurers in June.

“We consider many factors when making final decisions on health insurance rates, but the impact on Pennsylvania consumers is always our top priority,” Commissioner Miller said. “Six insurers in the individual market proposed rate hikes of more than 25 percent, but we were concerned about how these increases would affect consumers. The Insurance Department ultimately approved final rates that are significantly lower than were originally proposed.”

Other factors considered by the Insurance Department when determining final rates include claims paid over the past year, as well as estimates of future costs, such as medical and prescription drug costs and administrative expenses and the insurers’ current surplus. For all six companies that proposed rate hikes above 25 percent, the commissioner requested the companies phase in increases over additional years if necessary. The commissioner noted these companies are sufficiently strong financially to accommodate this request.

Commissioner Miller noted there are 19 companies offering individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania, and 23 companies offering plans for small groups, which are businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Of the 19 companies offering individual health plans, 12 have increases under ten percent. All 23 companies offering small group health plans will have increases under ten percent.

“I encourage all consumers to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s competitive market and shop around to see if there is a better plan which offers benefits better suited to their needs,” Commissioner Miller said. “All Pennsylvanians have the choice of at least four individual plans in their area, and most have multiple plans from which to choose.”

When looking at the percentage increase for a given health plan’s rate, it is important to understand what the current rates are for that plan, and whether the rates actually cover the insurer’s costs. When the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, insurance companies had no claims history with which to estimate how many claims the newly insured population would file, or how much those claims would cost insurers. In many cases, insurers underestimated the cost of the claims individuals newly insured would file, and the premiums charged to cover these costs are now being set at a level to more accurately reflect insurers’ anticipated costs.

“Pennsylvania consumers overall enjoy lower rates than consumers in nearby states and the nation as a whole,” said Commissioner Miller. “For example, when comparing the lowest cost silver plans in each state for 2015, Pennsylvania’s average monthly premium of $222 is $66 below the average for states in the northeast region, and $42 below the national average.”

In addition, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians buying individual health insurance through plans offered on the federal government’s Marketplace, www.healthcare.gov, receive subsidies to help pay their premiums. Individual health plans are offered both through this federal Marketplace and directly from private insurers, but consumers are eligible for subsidies only for plans bought through the federal Marketplace.

Current health plans are in effect through December 31. In order to have coverage under new or continuing plans begin January 1 and avoid any lapse in coverage, consumers must enroll for 2016 by December 15.

To help consumers find their best plan, the Insurance Department has provided information on rates by area of the state, an explanation of the process for approving rates, and a shoppers’ guide to help individuals navigate the process of buying insurance on their website, www.insurance.pa.gov. On the main page, click on “2016 Affordable Care Act Rates by Rating Area” to see examples of rates in specific regions, and under the Consumers tab, click on “Health” to find the shoppers’ guide. When open enrollment begins on November 1, a list of all plans available on the federal Marketplace in Pennsylvania and the cost of each will be available on www.healthcare.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance Department, 717-787-3289

View the original version on PR Newswire
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department