It’s been quite a year to remember. The Northeast Times takes a look at local highlights from 2017.
The year 2017 has just a few days remaining, and a look back shows some big happenings in the Northeast in business, education, religion, politics and sports.
Two of the more positive events came when Wissinoming’s Spencer Dunleavy earned a Rhodes Scholarship and Torresdale’s Kevin Brighter received a much-needed kidney transplant.
In other news, we lost a local Catholic church, when Our Lady of Ransom closed, merging with Resurrection of Our Lord. The Our Lady of Ransom school, closed in 2012, has a new occupant, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia moved its archives to the site.
The archdiocese sold Mater Dolorosa, a church that closed in 2013.
The pastor at St. Martin of Tours announced that the IHM nuns would have to move out of the convent so it could be used for another purpose. Many people were angry, and the pastor soon requested a less stressful assignment, citing health issues.
A former St. William pastor, Nelson Perez, was named bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland.
The Rev. Paul Kennedy, pastor at St. Katherine of Siena, was named a monsignor.
Also merging were two synagogues, with Ner Zedek closing and members heading to Congregations of Shaare Shamayim.
Celebrating anniversaries were two local high schools, St. Hubert (75 years) and Archbishop Ryan (50). Joanne Walls retired as the St. Hubert principal in August after 46 years in education. Soon, though, she began a short stint as Ryan’s interim president until the school named a permanent leader in November.
In the business world, the iconic former Nabisco building was torn down to make way for a Wawa and other shops. City Council also passed a bill urging a boycott of foreign-made Nabisco products and its sister brands under the Mondelez International corporate umbrella.
Anniversaries were celebrated by Schenk’s Bakery (80 years), Sally’s Flowers (40 years) and Allegra Print Marketing (30 years).
New businesses included Mealey’s Furniture, in a former Kmart on Frankford Avenue in Upper Holmesburg.
Also on the business front, many consumers were unhappy to see the beverage tax kick in on Jan. 1. Some were happy when the Applebee’s, 9142 Roosevelt Blvd., reopened in November after a July 2016 fire.
Fire also heavily damaged the Aquatic and Fitness Center, at 3600 Grant Ave.
Politically, the biggest winners were Larry Krasner for district attorney Rebecca Rhynhart for city controller and Somerton’s Vince Furlong and Castor Gardens’ Mark Cohen for the Court of Common Pleas. The former district attorney, Seth Williams, is jailed after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge. Controller Alan Butkovitz will leave office on Tuesday after losing the Democratic primary to Rhynhart.
State Rep. John Taylor, first elected in 1984, announced in September he would not seek another term, setting off a scramble to replace him.
President Donald Trump took office in January, and one of his appointments was veteran Mayfair activist and political leader Joe DeFelice as administrator of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Mid-Atlantic Region.
One of the Philadelphia area’s biggest crimes had a couple of Northeast angles. A 20-year-old Lawndale man was charged for his alleged role in the quadruple murders of four young men in Bucks County. One of the victims, Thomas Meo, attended St. Anselm Elementary School and had his funeral Mass at the Parkwood church.
As for an alleged crime that place many years before, a three-judge Superior Court panel in the fall granted Daniel Dougherty, twice convicted of setting a 1985 fire that killed his two young sons in their Oxford Circle home, another retrial.
Actor Kevin Hart, a George Washington High School graduate, spent a couple of days in February on the 2800 block of Gilham St. in Lower Mayfair filming scenes for the movie The Upside. The film, which was called Untouchable at the time of Hart’s Philadelphia appearance, will be released in March.
The Times also twice chronicled Suzan Minoret, who claims to be the forgotten daughter of Jerry Lewis. Minoret, whom many believes is a Lewis lookalike, does not have a permanent home, spending her days in places such as the Giant supermarket near Grant Avenue and Blue Grass Road. Lewis died in August, and no mention of Minoret was made in obituaries.
In local sports, some of the championship teams were Father Judge wrestling, Archbishop Ryan girls soccer, Frankford baseball, Northeast football and boys soccer and St. Hubert cheerleading. Also, Abraham Lincoln running back Sam Karr rushed for a Public League-record 418 yards and seven touchdowns against George Washington. And, boxer Joey Dawejko and UFC fighter Eddie Alvarez ended 2017 with wins.
In 2017, we lost former Holmesburg Civic Association president Rich Frizell, Aid For Friends founder Rita Ungaro-Schiavone, Upper Northwood Community Council president Lorraine Brill and Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library president Elmer “Bud” Atkinson.
In 2018, we hope to report on many positive happenings in the Northeast. ••