2011: A Memorable Year in the Northeast

The year flies by and its high­lights tend to be­come hazy in our minds. With the rush of head­lines span­ning sol­diers who died in com­bat to a ca­reer politi­cian who turned crim­in­al, the North­east has seen bet­ter years.

6th Dis­trict Coun­cil­man­ic Can­did­ate Bobby Hen­on cel­eb­rates with Joan Kra­jew­ski, who he will re­place, at the May­fair Diner on Tues­day, Novem­ber 8, 2011. Hen­on de­feated Sandra Stew­art. Kev­in Cook / for the Times

The year 2011 was a mem­or­able one in the North­east, with polit­ic­al changes, drama in the Cath­ol­ic and pub­lic school sys­tems and, sadly, the loss of a bunch of the area’s finest cit­izens.

First, the good news.

Chris Fer­guson, a St. Martha Ele­ment­ary School and Arch­bish­op Ry­an High School gradu­ate, was the com­mand­er of the fi­nal space shuttle flight. He later vis­ited stu­dents at Ry­an to dis­cuss the ex­per­i­ence.

Happy re­tire­ment wishes went out to Dav­id and Trina Losinno, who led Spe­cial People In North­east Inc. for 40 years.

A fond farewell was also giv­en to the Rev. Paul An­dell, who re­tired as pas­tor of St. James Luther­an Church in North­wood.

An­dell had been at St. James since 1972.

The state en­acted a law that makes changes to driv­ing laws, all in the name of teen­age safety. It’s named “Lacey’s Law” in memory of Lacey Galla­gh­er, the Little Flower High School seni­or who died in an ac­ci­dent on the Pennsylvania Turn­pike fol­low­ing her seni­or prom. Lacey’s fam­ily and friends lob­bied law­makers for the stricter meas­ures, and le­gis­lat­ors such as

Rep. Mike McGee­han made it hap­pen. The Galla­gh­er fam­ily traveled to Har­ris­burg to watch Gov. Tom Corbett sign the bill.

McGee­han was also in the fore­front of the ef­fort to oust con­tro­ver­sial School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia Su­per­in­tend­ent Ar­lene Ack­er­man. She went away after be­ing giv­en a $905,000 buy­out. She is now mak­ing ends meet on un­em­ploy­ment com­pens­a­tion.

The big news for Cath­ol­ic high schools was a teach­ers’ strike that dis­rup­ted the start of the school year. Stu­dents, par­ents and staff have circled Jan. 6 on their cal­en­dars. That day, an Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia blue rib­bon com­mis­sion will make re­com­mend­a­tions about the fu­ture of Cath­ol­ic edu­ca­tion. There is cer­tain to be school clos­ings based on de­clin­ing en­roll­ment.

Con­grat­u­la­tions are in or­der for Somer­ton res­id­ent Steve Devlin, who coached Arch­bish­op Wood High School to the PI­AA Class AAA cham­pi­on­ship. How dom­in­ant were the Vik­ings? They won their state semi­final by a score of 70-14 and the cham­pi­on­ship game 52-0.

In the busi­ness world, there were vari­ous com­ings and go­ings. Among the most prom­in­ent new­comers is Gi­ant su­per­mar­ket. Among those go­ing away was Ilona Keller’s Dugan’s, the ca­ter­ing hall on Roosevelt Boulevard that closed ab­ruptly. A Bot­tom Dol­lar is be­ing con­struc­ted on the site.

Polit­ic­ally, Demo­crat­ic voters re­jec­ted City Com­mis­sion­er Marge Tartagli­one’s bid for a 10th term in the primary. Com­mis­sion­er Joe Duda, of Park­wood, fell in the gen­er­al elec­tion. Coun­cil­man Jack Kelly and Coun­cil­wo­man Joan Kra­jew­ski re­tired. Re­pla­cing Kra­jew­ski in the 6th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict will be elec­tri­cians uni­on polit­ic­al dir­ect­or Bobby Hen­on. Re­pla­cing Kelly as an at-large mem­ber will be an­oth­er “new­comer” — state Rep. Denny O’Bri­en, who has spent 33 years in Har­ris­burg.

Rep. Kev­in Boyle is spend­ing his first year in Har­ris­burg, while the man he de­feated — John Perzel — pleaded guilty to cor­rup­tion charges and is await­ing sen­ten­cing.

Fol­low­ing re­dis­trict­ing at the city, state and fed­er­al levels, many North­east res­id­ents will have to ad­just to new rep­res­ent­at­ives.

The 2012 elec­tion sea­son will fea­ture races for state and fed­er­al of­fices. Holmes­burg’s Dan Mc­Caf­fery will be on the bal­lot as a Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate for state at­tor­ney gen­er­al.

Loc­ally and na­tion­ally, Amer­ic­ans marked the 10th an­niversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. Fam­ily and friends of North­wood’s Peter Or­tale and Al­isha Lev­in of Castor Gar­dens held re­mem­brances in their hon­or. Both were killed when ter­ror­ists crashed air­planes in­to the World Trade Cen­ter.

The deaths of the fol­low­ing loc­al people in 2011 saddened their fam­il­ies, friends and the lar­ger North­east com­munity:

• U.S. Navy Petty Of­ficer 1st Class Mi­chael J. Strange, a 25-year-old Wissi­nom­ing nat­ive killed in the war in Afgh­anistan.

• U.S. Army Pfc John F. Kihm, a 19-year-old Lawndale res­id­ent killed in the war in Afgh­anistan.

• Mark Kee­ley, a 19-year-old Phil­adelphia Gas Works em­ploy­ee killed in an ex­plo­sion in Ta­cony. He and Kihm were both 2009 gradu­ates of Car­din­al Dougherty High School.

• Vir­gin­ia Knauer, a former Tor­res­dale res­id­ent and city coun­cil­wo­man who served in the ad­min­is­tra­tions of Pres­id­ents Richard Nix­on, Ger­ald Ford and Ron­ald Re­agan.

• Tony Zecca, a Far North­east res­id­ent who was deputy may­or un­der James Tate and Frank L. Rizzo.

• Nina Co­hen, dir­ect­or of the emer­gency food and home-de­livered meals pro­gram at the JCC Klein Branch.

• Bruce Con­ner, an his­tor­i­an and steer­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber for the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame.

• Mike Stack Jr., a long­time Somer­ton res­id­ent, prom­in­ent law­yer and former Demo­crat­ic lead­er of the 58th Ward.

• Butch Bal­lard, a long­time Frank­ford res­id­ent, jazz mu­sic le­gend and mem­ber of the North­east Phil­adelphia Hall of Fame.

• Al Dunkle­ber­ger, a Bustleton res­id­ent and Re­pub­lic­an lead­er of the 58th Ward.

• Terry To­bin, the long­time ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the New Frank­ford Com­munity Y and of­ficer with the Frank­ford High SchoolAlumni As­so­ci­ation.

• Ken Hy­ers, a 35th Ward Re­pub­lic­an com­mit­tee­man and the ded­ic­ated pres­id­ent of Lawn­crest Town Watch and vice chair­man of the 2nd Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil.

• Bernie Re­iden­berg, a com­mit­tee­man and first vice pres­id­ent of the East Tor­res­dale Civic As­so­ci­ation.

• Paul Kauff­man, an ex­ec­ut­ive board mem­ber of Up­per Holmes­burg Civic As­so­ci­ation.

• Bob Di­Florio, boys bas­ket­ball coach at North­east High School.

• Chad Enos, a city of­fi­cial who trained and counseled loc­al Town Watch mem­bers. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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