A look back at 2016

Local highlights: The Democratic National Convention was held in Philadelphia. TIMES FILE PHOTO

The year 2016 is almost in the history books, and some happenings in the Northeast could fill at least a chapter.

From politics to crime to schools to business and other areas, plenty happened this year. And some things are on the horizon to make 2017 eventful, too.

Here is a look at some of the local highlights of 2016:


City Councilman Al Taubenberger, of Fox Chase, and Commissioner Lisa Deeley, of Rhawnhurst, took the oath of office in January.

Lawyer and civic leader Jared Solomon ended the 42-year career of state Rep. Mark Cohen in a bruising Democratic primary. Solomon came close to toppling Cohen in 2014. This time, he had more support from ward leaders and successfully mobilized residents of Castor Gardens as president of the Take Back Your Neighborhood Civic Association. Cohen ruled a 202nd Legislative District that always moved north in redistricting, but didn’t have a command over the current boundaries. Cohen will be running for judge next year.

In the same primary, Democratic state Sen. John Sabatina edged state Rep. Kevin Boyle in an extremely contentious battle. While ward leaders and unions were split, it was the Rhawnhurst-based 56th Ward that put one of its own, Sabatina, over the top.

In the general election, the Northeast was a battleground for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who accepted the Democratic nomination for president in Philadelphia. Among those coming here to support Trump were his daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany, his daughter-in-law, Lara, and former Apprentice contestant Erin Elmore. Prominent Clinton supporters pumped up volunteers at her headquarters in Frankford and Bell’s Corner. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and former San Antonio Mayor and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros addressed Clinton supporters in the closing days of the campaign.

Republican state Reps. Martina White and John Taylor faced tough Democratic challengers. White turned back Democrat Matt Darragh, while Taylor topped Joe Hohenstein. Darragh was recently elected president of the Parkwood Civic Association. Hohenstein is a possible candidate for Common Pleas or Municipal Court judge next year.

Happy Anniversary

A number of local institutions celebrated milestones in 2016.

The Grey Lodge Pub marked 20 years of what owner Mike “Scoats” Scotese said is a neighborhood bar with a world-class beer selection.

Parkwood’s Stephen Decatur Elementary School, which educates 1,000 students, turned the big 5–0.

St. Hubert High School celebrated 75 years with a gala at Vie.

St. Martin of Tours Elementary School also had a gala to mark 90 years at the now-shuttered Williamson Banquet & Event Center in Horsham.


We said goodbye to Mitch Kline, who coached various sports at Frankford and Northeast high schools; Mike Kowalski, a longtime city Department of Commerce employee who assisted Northeast businesses; and Bill Kranz, former longtime president of the Friends of Tacony Creek Park.

Also closing for good was Mater Dolorosa Catholic Church, in Frankford.

Local celebs

La Salle University earlier this month retired the jersey of basketball great Larry Cannon, an Abraham Lincoln High School graduate.

Eddie Alvarez, a 2001 North Catholic grad and Morrell Park resident, captured the UFC lightweight championship.

Joe Del Campo made it to the final five of Survivor: Kaoh Rong before being pulled from the game because of unbearable abdominal pains. Del Campo attended Resurrection of Our Lord Grammar School for seven years before transferring to Our Lady of Ransom when it opened in 1956. He graduated from Father Judge High School in 1961.

Former congressman Patrick Murphy, a Parkwood native, was sworn in as Under Secretary of the Army. Earlier, President Barack Obama appointed Murphy to serve as the Acting Secretary of the Army. Murphy attended St. Anselm Elementary School and Archbishop Ryan High School.

The Northeast Philadelphia Hall of Fame welcomed its newest inductees: Edward Duffield, Al Schmid, Robert N.C. Nix Sr., Bill Boggs and Friends of Pennypack Park.


Father Judge named Brian King its president, while St. Hubert chose Lizanne Magarity-Pando.

Meanwhile, Capt. Anthony Luca was named commander of the 15th Police District.

Business happenings

Landmark businesses Tony’s Place and Ott’s camera shop closed.

While you can’t buy a camera at Castor and Longshore anymore, you can dine at Tony’s Famous Tomato Pies Bar and Restaurant, under new ownership at 6300 Frankford Ave.

Tacony saw its first new bakery open in 40 years. Puddin’s Cake Corner is at Princeton Avenue and Edmund Street.

The former Nabisco plant on Roosevelt Boulevard has been bought and will be redeveloped.

PJP Marketplace, a retail store specializing in bulk groceries and food service equipment and supplies, recently opened at Shelly’s Plaza, at 8914 Frankford Ave. (at Academy Road). It replaced a closed Food Basics.

Under renovation

The 110-year-old Tacony Library is undergoing construction and transformation, and will not reopen until late summer. While the renovations continue, people can visit the Tacony Library and Arts Building at 6918 Torresdale Ave.

Lackman Playground in Bustleton and American Legion Playground in Wissinoming are looking good with new equipment and other improvements.

Reppin’ the Northeast

The Mayfair Civic Association placed about 60 American flags along Rowland Avenue, drawing rave reviews from motorists and pedestrians.

Hundreds of people headed to Maggie’s Waterfront Cafe for a community day sponsored by City Councilman Bobby Henon and state Rep. Mike Driscoll, with many of them there to see the ever-popular Budweiser Clydesdales.

Hundreds of people turned out at Frankford and Cottman avenues for various pro-police demonstrations.

Sports heroes

The Eagles helped rebuild a playground and paint a mural at Disston Elementary School in Tacony. Among those on hand were owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, coach Doug Pederson and players Jason Peters, Connor Barwin, Carson Wentz and Sam Bradford, who was eventually traded.

Finally, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame inducted new members and recognized the championship seasons of Villanova men’s basketball and the Philadelphia Soul indoor football team. The Soul are owned by Northeast native Cosmo DeNicola. ••

Local highlights: Father Judge High School named Brian King its president. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Local highlights: Hundreds of people turned out at Frankford and Cottman avenues for various pro-police demonstrations. TIMES FILE PHOTO