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Community Greening Award

February 18th, 2010

Ambler’s Trax Café has been awarded a 2009 Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in recognition of its garden and efforts to develop a green landscape.

“When we got here, the entire place was under vines. It was pretty bad. We pretty much started from scratch. It’s been a work in progress,” said owner and chef Steve Waxman.

Trax is located in the Ambler train station.

Ambler Restores Park With Help Of Neighbors

February 14th, 2010

Ambler, PA — Ambler Borough received two grants to restore and expand the natural forested area along the banks of Rose Valley Creek where it flows through Borough Park. Out of six parks in Ambler, Borough Park is the only natural park. TreeVitalize and Merck & Co. Inc. funds are supplying trees, contractors and engineering, while the community is supplying the majority of the ideas and volunteer labor.

“The first phase of the project is almost completed – removing the invasive species,” said Susan Curry, volunteer coordinator for the project. “Now, we want to gather ideas from people who live near or visit the park about how the park should look, what features it should have, and how it can be used and maintained,” she continued. A meeting for collecting community input is scheduled for Saturday, February 20 at Borough Hall from 9:00 AM to noon. Anyone who cannot make the meeting may phone their input into 215-591-1551.

“They were unstoppable,” said Ms. Curry of the nearly fifty volunteers late last October who removed a third of the invasive plants that were choking parts of a 4-acre area of the park. The most common invasive plant species removed were Japanese knotweed, multi flora rose, Empress tree, Tree of heaven, privet and Norway Maple. Invasive species tend to crowd out native species and do not provide the same amount of food and shelter or habitat for native insects, birds, fish and other animals that native plants provide.

The community effort was organized by the Ambler Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), and involved volunteers from Wissahickon High School Key Club, Ambler Tree Tenders, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, VolunteerMatch, Briar Bush Nature Center, and neighbors of the park. “Eventually we see a rain garden, new wildflower meadows, benches, and meandering paths on both sides of the creek. This will really expand the area that residents can enjoy,” said Ms. Minich.

Phase three starts April 9, 10 and 11, when over 100 community volunteers will be needed to dig holes, then plant 300 trees and shrubs, apply mulch and water, and erect deer fencing. “Trees are especially important to help hold the soil and slow down storm waters that are flooding the park more frequently,” said Nancy Minich, landscape architect of NAM Design and Planning who is overseeing all phases of the work to be done in Borough Park. Trees will be planted in a pattern that will widen the riparian buffer along the stream. A riparian buffer is a vegetated area between the banks of a stream and the land area back from the banks.

In Borough Park, the existing buffer is often less than 10’ from the banks. This project will expand the buffer to a width of 50’ or more wherever feasible. According to Ms Minich, “Wider riparian buffers help to improve water quality by filtering pollution before it reaches the creek, and also improve flood management by slowing down runoff. Those are the primary benefits in the eyes of our funders. We imagine that the park will be more aesthetic while providing more natural services when the project is finished.”

A parallel initiative of Ambler Environmental Advisory Council is currently encouraging Ambler Borough to adopt four new ordinances that will be more protective of steep slopes, wetlands, floodplains, wood lands and riparian buffers.

Rose Valley Creek begins in Upper Dublin, and flows through Borough Park before it eventually joins the Wissahickon Creek. The recently increased frequency of high volume storms has increased erosion in the park. “We hope to prevent further erosion which causes sediment problems further down stream with our new plantings,” offered Ms. Curry.

A group called the “Friends of Borough Park” is forming to continue the care and stewardship of the park in the future. On-going efforts will be needed to keep the park clear of invasive plants and to continue to improve amenities. If interested in joining “Friends of Borough Park”, contact Susan Curry, 215-591-1551, or suscurry@comcast.net.

Local Live Music

February 13th, 2010

Hippies 4 Haiti: Benefit Concert For Haiti Earthquake Victims
“A concert benefiting Meds and Food for Kids”
Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 3:00pm
End Time: Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1:25am
Location: 3rd And Walnut Bar-Lounge, Lansdale, PA
Performances by Wynrise, With Pete Kranz +W.E.M.B., Wineskin, Paint It Blue, The Turnips, The Happy Dog, The Hustle and more!

Wynrise
Type: Music Concert
Start Time: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 9:00pm
Location: Coyles Rox Box
Street: 6080 Ridge Avenue
City/Town: Philadelphia, PA

Chinese New Year’s Eve 2010 Party
Featuring Psychedelphia
Start Time: Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 8:00pm
End Time: Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:35am
Location: The Main Street Music Hall
Street: Main Street (behind Garfield’s)
City/Town: Northampton, PA

Relative Matter At Brittingham’s Irish Pub
2/13/2010 9:00 PM
640 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania 19444
Cost: FREE

Montgomery County Insurance Agents Arrested

February 11th, 2010

Montgomery County, PA / Berks County — Two insurance agents from Montgomery County, who are accused of stealing more than $1 million that was supposed to pay for workers’ compensation and liability insurance for six Berks County public school districts, have been arrested by agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendants as Kevin John Pickell, 52, 1260 Normandy Drive, Blue Bell, and his cousin, Robert Francis Pickell, 43, 2007 Windsor Drive, Collegeville. Both men are partners in KDN Lanchester Corporation (KDN), an insurance brokerage business located in Spring Township, Berks County.

“Over the past two years, Kevin and Robert Pickell and their business were paid more than $1 million, which was supposed to pay for insurance policies for the Conrad Weiser, Daniel Boone, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Schuylkill Valley and Wyomissing Area School Districts,” Corbett said. “Instead, the Pickells allegedly took the money for their own use – obtaining luxury cars for themselves and their spouses; having expensive wine and other items delivered to their business; writing checks for thousands of dollars in personal items and making large payments to themselves and other family members.”

Corbett said the school districts’ insurance premium payments, which ranged in size from $102,668 to $361,260, were deposited into KDN bank accounts, and were supposed to be forwarded to the School Boards Insurance Company.

Instead of forwarding the premium payments to the insurance company, Kevin Pickell allegedly wrote checks totaling at least $330,000 for various personal items, including payments totaling $215,000 to himself and $53,000 to his wife. Robert Pickell allegedly wrote checks totaling more than $140,000 for personal items and expenses.

“Because the schools are all publicly funded, the true victims in this case are the taxpayers who live in those communities,” Corbett said. “As part of this alleged conspiracy, a total of $839,166 in insurance premium payments were illegally diverted, along with $191,247 in commissions that were improperly paid for insurance policies that did not exist.”

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation also resulted in the discovery and seizure of several vials containing anabolic steroids allegedly belonging to Kevin and Robert Pickell. The steroids, along with a quantity of unused syringes, were located during an October 7, 2009 search of the KDN Lanchester Corporation offices by agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Corbett said that Kevin and Robert Pickell were arrested on Wednesday, January 6th, by agents from the Insurance Fraud Section and preliminarily arraigned before Wernersville Magisterial District Judge Ann L. Young. Both defendants were released on $50,000 unsecured bail with preliminary hearings scheduled for February 9th, at 10 a.m., before Magisterial District Judge Young.

Kevin J. Pickell is charged with two counts of participating in a corrupt organization, both first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines; along with six counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of insurance fraud, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

He is also charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Robert F. Pickell is charged with two counts of participating in a corrupt organization, both first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines; along with six counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of insurance fraud, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines. He is also charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

The defendants will be prosecuted in Berks County by Deputy Attorney General John T. Dickinson of the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Price Gouging Following Massive Winter Storm

February 11th, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA – Attorney General Tom Corbett today cautioned Pennsylvania consumers and businesses about price gouging following a massive weekend winter storm that has many communities still struggling with snow removal and other related issues.

“Our state price-gouging law was designed to protect consumers and businesses from sudden, unwarranted price increases during emergency situations,” Corbett said. “The price gouging restrictions apply to anyone involved in the distribution or sale of consumer goods or services, prohibiting ‘unconscionably excessive’ increases above the average prices observed during the week prior to the emergency.”

Corbett said the Governor’s February 6th declaration of a statewide disaster emergency triggered the price gouging restrictions, which will extend for 30 days after the expiration of the disaster declaration.

“As many Pennsylvania communities continue to dig free from last weekend’s record snowfall, and with another major storm bearing down on the state, it is important for everyone – consumers and businesses alike – to understand exactly what constitutes price gouging,” Corbett said. “Price increases for consumer goods or services that are 20% or more above the average prices before this storm are not allowed, except in some very limited situations.”

Corbett said the price gouging law gives the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection the authority to investigate price gouging complaints and allows for penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

He noted that the emergency price restrictions not only apply to businesses involved in direct consumer sales, but also to manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and distributors of consumer products and services.

“I encourage any Pennsylvania consumer or business who feels they are the victims of price-gouging to contact our office so we can thoroughly investigate the situation.”

Corbett said consumers can report potential price-gouging by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline, toll-free, at 1-800-441-2555 or by filing an online consumer complaint.

Doing Business In Bucks County, PA

February 9th, 2010

Warrington, PA — Doing business in the Delaware Valley presents unique opportunities and challenges. Having an expert on your side will help you make it through any type of economic climate.

Over the years, Jim Berry of The Berry Group has helped many people and businesses in a variety of ways. Jim is a tax & financial accountant who has been in business since 1986. For a Horsham based UK conglomerate, he set up all corporations, financial systems and prepared corporate and personal taxes. Basically, he was their part-time controller. Also, Jim has helped hundreds of other businesses and individuals. He has set up many local corporations for his clients.

For years, he has given sound financial advice. The questions have been varied and numerous. For instance, setting up an S corporation is usually most advantageous for a business. Obtaining expert advice during the formation of a corporation is a critical first step.

Local communities praise Jim for helping to create jobs for his clients. This has helped stimulate the recovery of the economy from the recession. Throughout the toughest of times, his sound advice has kept many companies in business.

Computer software is another area that is usually best outsourced. Jim has worked with with his clients to set up Quickbooks for their financial systems.

Who can answer tax questions? Jim has helped people untangle the questions asked by the government agencies. For the layman, an IRS letter can be very confusing. Keeping up with the government rules and regulations is an ongoing task. People are always asking about the latest governmental changes. Jim works through the problems that his clients have, so that they can reach a satisfactory conclusion — a problem solver.

Are you sure you are saving the most amount of money on your taxes? Again, an expert to people save money in your tax situation makes sound financial sense. Sometimes people miss the financial details that they need in order to save money.

If you need Jim Berry’s assistance you can call him at 215-343-8181 or email him at Jim@BerrySales.com

Visit his web site at www.BerrySales.com

Jim Berry
PO Box 800
Warrington, PA 18976
Web site: www.BerrySales.com
email: Jim@BerrySales.com
Phone 215-343-8181

Reduce Pollution At Local Level

February 7th, 2010

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making nearly $2 million available in 2010 to reduce pollution at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program.

CARE is a community-based program that builds partnerships to help the public understand and reduce toxic risks from numerous sources close to home. The program works to improve human health and local environment into the future.

EPA will award CARE cooperative agreements at two levels. Level I awards range from $75,000 to $100,000 and will help establish community-based partnerships to assess toxics problems in their community and consider options for reducing environmental risks.

Level II awards, ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 each, will support communities that have established broad-based partnerships, have identified the priority toxic risks in the community, and are prepared to measure results, implement risk-reduction activities and become self-sustaining.

Through the CARE program local organizations, including non-profits, businesses, schools, tribes, agencies and local governments, create partnerships that identify environmental priorities and implement local solutions to reduce releases of toxic pollutants and minimize people’s exposure to them.

CARE is a unique community-based, community-driven, demonstration program designed to help communities understand and reduce risks due to toxic pollutants and environmental concerns from all sources. Each grant will be awarded as a two-year cooperative agreement, with the amount depending on the proposal level.

Proposals are due by March 9, 2010 and may be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov). Traditional written proposals should be submitted to: Marva King, U.S. EPA Headquarters, Ariel Rios Building, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Mailcode 6101A, Washington, DC 20460.

Eligible applicants include county and local organizations, non-profits, businesses, schools, and tribes.

Eligible organizations interested in submitting a proposal can find complete information at: www.epa.gov/care. The site also provides an on-line grant writing tutorial. Additional information about CARE and the applications process is available by calling 1-877-CARE-909.

Snow Storm

February 6th, 2010

Ambler, PA –Hazardous weather conditions: Winter Storm Warning
Current Weather Conditions

Total snow accumulation of 19 to 24 inches
National Weather Service, “MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW CONTINUES TO POUND THE REGION. THE SNOWFALL RATES WITHIN THIS AREA OF ENHANCED SNOWFALL WILL BE UP TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR AT TIMES. THE SNOWFALL RATES COMBINED WITH THE SNOW THAT HAS ALREADY FALLEN, IS MAKING TRAVEL VERY DANGEROUS.

THE ROADS ARE SNOW COVERED AND WITH WIND GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH, AREAS OF BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW CONTINUES. THE VISIBILITIES WILL BE REDUCED TO AROUND ONE QUARTER OF A MILE AT TIMES WITH THE COMBINATION OF THE FALLING SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW. IT IS ADVISED THAT YOU DO NOT TRAVEL TODAY IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TO.”



Weather Map For Montgomery County Snow Storm Feb. 6, 2010

Snow Storm

Snow Covered Road in Ambler, PA

Ambler, PA Roads Are Snow Covered

Joyful Music Fest

February 6th, 2010

Glenside, PA — Join your friends & neighbors, as well as a bunch of talented children’s entertainers for the Children’s Music Festival to benefit Rubye’s Kids. This local, non-profit organization is dedicated to providing charitable services, which further the social, emotional and educational welfare of underprivileged children in the Philadelphia region.

The event will take place on Saturday March 13, 2010 from 10 am to 1 pm (doors open at 9:30 am ) at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at 654 N. Easton Road in Glenside, PA. Tickets are $8 each by mail or at the door. A Family Package is available with 4 tickets for $25 (advance purchase only).

Performers include children’s recording artists David C. Perry, Allison DeSalvo and Peter Moses. It’s the 6th annual gathering for this fun event!

There will be other special entertainment and lots of interactive, music & movement happenings! Food & beverages will be available, as well as great, kids music recordings!

About David C. Perry
Artist/musician/comedian, Mr. David C. Perry, through his ‘Drawings & Songs’ presentations, serves up a madcap mix of music, art, puppets and props, with a healthy helping of laughs! In addition to performing and recording, David writes and illustrates children’s books, draws caricatures and conducts hands-on cartooning and song writing workshops. The proud father of a young daughter, “Mr. David” is also an active member of the Children’s Music Network.

About Allison DeSalvo
Allison is a professional actress/singer and popular teaching artist & children’s entertainer who in 1992 founded World of Song Productions (WOS) to unite her love of the performing arts with her love of children. WOS offers outstanding music concerts and recreational classes for kids and families that inspire creative learning and expression, while nurturing a joyful appreciation of the arts. Allison is also an award-winning recording artist!

About Peter Moses
Peter is a father of five, a singer-songwriter and recording artist. He is also a regular member of Rubye’s Kids. For twenty years, he has been producing and performing original songs and offering interactive music with children of all ages. Peter’s repertoire mixes kid-friendly folk & pop-rock with classic family sing-alongs. (And he’s totally silly!) He directs The Music Experience, a national early childhood enrichment program.

Show By Local Artists

February 4th, 2010

Old City Jewish Art Center
119 North 3rd Street, Philadelphia PA
215-923-1222

“Man is a tree of the field,” and the Jewish calendar reserves one day each year (the New Year for Trees on the 15th of Shevat) for us to contemplate our affinity with our botanical analogue and what it can teach us about our own lives. For man is a tree of the field. (Deuteronomy 20:19)

The exhibition features these artists: educator/painter/and print maker Paulette Bensignor, fine arts painter Susan Forbes, botanical collage artist Rachel Isaac, photographer B. Leah Palmer, and water colorist Barbara Rosenzweig.  See works of art that include fruits of the holy land of Israel, landscapes, trees, botanical bouquet collages, and much more.

Gallery hours are Tuesday – Thursday from 1-6 PM. “Tu B’Shevat – New Year for Trees” Art Exhibition from February 5-24th. Please stop by to browse in our BIG small crafts area, knitted art to wear, ceramics and more.

February 5th from 5-9 PM for First Friday
“Tu B’Shevat – New Year for Trees” Art Exhibition at (OCJAC) Old City Jewish Art Center 119 N. 3rd St. and find out what they have in common.

Don’t miss “Meet the Artists’ Reception” scheduled for Sunday, February 14th from 2- 4:00 PM. Come meet the artists. See the Tu B’Shevat Art Exhibition, sample refreshments in celebration of Tu B’Shevat and really enjoy a warm friendly socializing atmosphere.