Dawkins holds town hall, discusses Stop and Go’s

State Rep. Jason Dawkins discusses a wide variety of topics in Wissinoming.

A district discussion: State Rep. Jason Dawkins held a town hall meeting at James J. Sullivan School. JOHN COLE/ TIMES PHOTOS

State Rep. Jason Dawkins last Thursday held his winter town hall meeting at James J. Sullivan School, 5300 Ditman St., delivering updates on recent legislation and upcoming projects in his district and addressing the future of the School District of Philadelphia.

One of the hot-button topics of conversation toward the end of 2017 was the controversial “Stop and Go’s” across the city. These stores had the ability to sell liquor while simultaneously selling candy and other products. These establishments were required to provide at least 30 seats and accessible bathrooms for customers, but Dawkins believes most of them did not follow this law.

“This is something that has plagued our communities for way too long,” said Dawkins.

Included in House Bill 674, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board now has the authority to suspend the licenses of these establishments that do not meet the seating, square footage, food or health requirements by the state.

Another piece of legislation that was passed toward the end of 2017 that Dawkins believes will have a positive impact on his district is Senate Bill 446. This bill dictates that the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs has authority to certify “recovery homes” that receive public funds or referrals from state, county or federal agencies.

Dawkins explains the bill gives a definition of what a “recovery house” is as opposed to a “boarding house.” He believes that, “Some didn’t have respect for the community.” The new legislation also requires these “recovery houses” to be ADA accessible. The houses needing to become ADA accessible will cost more money, but Dawkins thinks the houses that want to maintain this status will do so.

Looking forward to this year, Dawkins is keeping a close eye on the upcoming local school board. The School Reform Commission voted to dissolve last November. With Philadelphia regaining control of its public school district, Dawkins was ready for changes to be made, but still has questions for the upcoming board. The funding for the district moving forward is of concern to Dawkins, who wonders if a tax will need to be raised to adequately fund the schools.

A key part of Mayor Jim Kenney’s agenda in Philadelphia has been the funding of universal preschool and the rebuild initiative from the soda tax. Dawkins recognized that the beverage tax is not universally loved, but believes it will have a positive impact on his district.

“I know most folks weren’t too happy about the increase on their favorite soda, but some of those dollars seem to be going to good use.”

One of those uses he hopes will be toward Moss Recreation Center. “Moss Rec has definitely seen better days”, said Dawkins. “We will be working with (Councilman Bobby) Henon on an action plan.”

On May 8, a bridge will officially be dedicated to Officer Gary Skerski, who was killed in the line of duty on that date in 2006. House Bill 1778 was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf to dedicate the bridge located on Castor Avenue. Dawkins introduced the bill to Wolf in the fall and stated it held a “special place in his heart.”

ShopRite delivered a presentation on its store opening in March. Located at 5597 Tulip St., this will fill the void of being the first supermarket in the district for quite some time.

“This is the first supermarket in this district that I serve in, but also first one around here that we’ve ever had,” said Dawkins. “I can’t stress how important and rare that may be.”

ShopRite still needs to hire half of the staff for the new store. Applications can be completed at its website, and Dawkins invited those who do not have wifi to come to his office to fill out the online application.

Another development in the community will be a new senior living facility that’s set to open this year. This will be located at the former home to St. Bartholomew Catholic School. ••

John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com