Holme Circle Civic to educate children on dangers of Pennypack Creek

The Holme Circle Civic As­so­ci­ation hasn’t for­got­ten about last year’s Pennypack Creek drown­ing deaths.

Two boys died in un­re­lated sum­mer ac­ci­dents in which they went swim­ming in the fast-mov­ing creek fol­low­ing heavy rain­storms, even though swim­ming was and re­mains il­leg­al in the Pennypack. This spring, the HCCA will present as­sem­blies at three area schools hop­ing to spread the word about the dangers of the creek.

Dur­ing the March 26 HCCA meet­ing, Pres­id­ent Elsie Stevens an­nounced that as­sem­blies will be held at Robert Pol­lock Ele­ment­ary School on May 2, Fath­er Judge High School on May 9 and St. Jerome’s School on May 20. Pol­lock and St. Jerome’s are both with­in the civic as­so­ci­ation’s bound­ar­ies, while Fath­er Judge is the nearest high school.

Judge is also the school that 15-year-old Nicky Si­mon­etti at­ten­ded in 1996 when he and a friend, Chris Busse, drowned in the Pennypack un­der sim­il­ar cir­cum­stances to last year’s tra­gedies. Si­mon­etti’s moth­er, Beth Si­mon­etti-Gal­lelli, will be one of three speak­ers dur­ing the as­sem­blies, join­ing Lt. An­drew Na­poli of the Phil­adelphia po­lice Mar­ine Unit and Drew Brown, the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment’s man­ager of pub­lic edu­ca­tion.

Fol­low­ing the deaths of Brandon Boyle and Se­basti­an San­on in sep­ar­ate in­cid­ents last sum­mer, the Daily News re­por­ted that at least 16 people have drowned in city creeks in the last two dec­ades, while po­lice have res­cued 19 ad­di­tion­al swim­mers in dis­tress. Stevens has worked since then to co­ordin­ate the school vis­its.

Ac­cord­ing to the civic pres­id­ent, Na­poli is a 10-year Mar­ine Unit vet­er­an. He will tell stu­dents about the dif­fi­culties of creek res­cues be­cause of the of­ten re­mote loc­a­tions. Wit­nesses of­ten have trouble pin­point­ing loc­a­tions to res­cuers, who may have dif­fi­culty ac­cess­ing the spots be­cause of ter­rain. Mean­while, Brown will dis­cuss the po­ten­tial health risks of the creek, such as rem­nants of wastewa­ter that can cause ill­nesses in swim­mers.

Si­mon­etti-Gal­lelli will share her per­son­al ex­per­i­ences with drown­ing tragedy. Ac­cord­ing to Stevens, she has long sought to hon­or her son’s memory by alert­ing oth­er teens of the creek’s vi­ol­ent po­ten­tial.

In oth­er HCCA busi­ness:

• Stevens an­nounced that the civic group will re­ceive an award for an un­re­lated pro­gram it im­ple­men­ted last year. The Pre­ser­va­tion Al­li­ance for Great­er Phil­adelphia has se­lec­ted the or­gan­iz­a­tion as the win­ner of its John An­drew Gal­lery Com­munity Ac­tion Award in re­cog­ni­tion of its res­tor­a­tion work at the Holme-Crispin Cemetery. The buri­al ground is the fi­nal rest­ing place of Wil­li­am Penn’s sur­vey­or-gen­er­al, Thomas Holme, and his des­cend­ants. The HCCA will be honored dur­ing a June 4 din­ner at the Uni­on League.

• State Rep. Ed Neilson an­nounced his can­did­acy for City Coun­cil. The Demo­crat­ic City Com­mit­tee se­lec­ted Neilson as its nom­in­ee for the at-large seat re­cently va­cated by Bill Green, who be­came School Re­form Com­mis­sion chair­man. A spe­cial elec­tion will be held dur­ing the May 20 primary. The win­ner will serve the fi­nal 20 months of Green’s four-year term.

• Mary Bell of Cath­ol­ic Com­munity Ser­vices re­por­ted that her or­gan­iz­a­tion has been se­lec­ted by the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices as the new com­munity um­brella agency for the 2nd, 7th and 8th po­lice dis­tricts in the North­east. CCS, a di­vi­sion of Cath­ol­ic So­cial Ser­vices, has an of­fice at 2990 Holme Ave. It provides ser­vices to at-risk youths and fam­il­ies in the com­munity. Stevens serves on the ad­vis­ory board along with oth­er North­east com­munity lead­ers.

• Stevens an­nounced that the own­er of the “Stokes House” at 2876-80 Welsh Road has agreed to at­tend the April 23 meet­ing of the HCCA to dis­cuss plans for the 19th-cen­tury stone farm­house. Neigh­bors seek to pre­serve the house as a his­tor­ic struc­ture, but fear that the own­er, de­veloper John Par­sons, is plan­ning to de­mol­ish it and build new homes on the land.

• The HCCA will host a free rain bar­rel work­shop on Wed­nes­day, April 30, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Tor­res­dale Branch Lib­rary, 3079 Holme Ave. Par­ti­cipants will be eli­gible to re­ceive a free 55-gal­lon rain bar­rel in­stalled at their homes. The devices re­duce storm­wa­ter that flows in­to loc­al streams. Col­lec­ted wa­ter can be used for gar­dens, wash­ing cars and oth­er out­door ap­plic­a­tions. Call 215-609-1026 to re­gister. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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