Monday, May 12, 2014

‘Secret is out’ 9 new businesses planned for Route 130 in Delran Twp.


Posted: February 03, 1985

For years, some Delran officials have decried the presence of Route 130, complaining that it cleaves the township in half. But if all the projects now on the drawing boards are built, the community will get some payback this year.

Nine new businesses and two renovations, most of which have received approval of the township planning board, are scheduled for construction along the busy north-south state highway this year. Delran officials expect the businesses to add up to $6.9 million in new ratables to the township's tax rolls - not to mention providing several hundred new jobs.

Largest of the new developments will be the $2.5 million Mill Run Shopping Center to be built at Suburban Boulevard adjacent to the existing Millside Manor Shopping Center. Next in total cost are the $1.1 million Stavros Restaurant and the $1 million Tenby Plaza, both just north of the township's border with Cinnaminson.

The other new operations will be:

*Cash Register Systems, Inc., $100,000.

*Mancine Optical, $500,000.

*Ricky's Army & Navy Store, $320,000.

*Dunkin' Donuts, $450,000.

*The Cathay Inn, $150,000, at the site of a former Gino's Restaurant.

*The Allstate Biviano Agency, $100,000 for acquisition and alterations of what is currently an auto upholstery shop.

A $200,000 renovation is planned by the Burger King restaurant at Chester Avenue to enlarge the dining room and add a drive-through window. And Barlow Chevrolet acquired the adjacent Xtra gas station at Fairview Street, which it has already demolished, and plans to create additional display area for new and used automobiles at a cost of $150,000.

These new and renovated businesses will join the existing ones, including the Dynasty Restaurant, which opened in November 1983 at a cost of approximately $650,000 after being constructed from the shell of the old Delrando Diner, and Capitol Auto Sales, which opened in August. Capitol's owners, Douglas Scheer and Jim Longo, spent $30,000 to renovate the site of a former fast-food restaurant adjacent to Holy Cross High School.

There are a number of reasons for all this development.

"Delran has everything," said David Stavros, who is building the 280-seat restaurant. "It has traffic, business, offices, a lot of residents and it's centrally located. It's even convenient for people from Philadelphia."

Mayor Richard Knight said, "We're very, very pleased with the quality of the development coming in. It's a positive statement of the commercial interest in Delran Township. We are a very positive community. We used to be the best-kept secret in Burlington County. I'm afraid the secret is out.”

And John Gillen, senior project engineer at Alaimo Associates, Mount Holly, the township's engineering consultants, said the timing of the development probably was tied to the economy.

"There was a boom in the early and mid-70s by developers," he said, "and then it kind of died - along with the rest of the county. They said it was the interest rates - they were too prohibitive." Even so, Gillen said he believes that development in Delran "happens to be more active than most" communities.

Mill Run is planning 42 stores with more than 70,000 square feet of space on its 9.9-acre site just south of the Budco Millside Theater. The township planning board has not yet given final approval for Mill Run; it plans to review new traffic and drainage studies at its meeting tomorrow. A major concern is that heavy traffic from Mill Run might flow east on Suburban Boulevard and then along residential streets to the rear - streets that, Knight said, "are not constructed for that."

"But we do want the development," Knight said. "We want to cooperate and we want the developer to cooperate so it is successful for both him and for the township."

Assuming approval, Mill Run construction could start in March and, in a best-case scenario, finish by the middle of the summer. The major principal in the limited partnership that is building Mill Run, DSG General Development Corp. of Natick, Mass, is David Dickerman of Natick. William Novak of Cherry Hill, another partner, is listed as the applicant.

"That piece of ground is probably the only piece of developable land along that area of Delran," said Novak. He said Mill Run's adjacency to Millside Manor would mean that "between the two centers, they should be able to offer the public everything they need. There is a market in that vicinity for a lot of the more specialized stores." Novak said that two anchor stores, the Shop-Rite supermarket and a K mart store, occupy much of the space at Millside Manor.

In addition to the stores at Mill Run, a 10,000-square-foot second-story will be constructed above 10 stores in the center of the complex to be rented as offices. Plans call for 523 parking spaces.

Stavros said his restaurant, on which he hopes to begin construction "within a month" and be finished by June, would have 9,000 square feet, 60 to 70 full-time employees and disco-dancing at night.

Stavros, who operated Olga's Diner in Camden until it burned down three years ago, said he "looked for two years" for a restaurant to buy and was set to purchase one in Edgewater Park when the deal fell through. However, "while checking out the area, I found I liked Delran," he said. "I was able to buy a liquor license and that was it."

Tenby Plaza will be a "convenience strip center" of about 15 stores, according to owner-developer C. Frank Capace, of Delran, operator of a real-estate agency. He envisions that clientele for the four-acre site will be "quick in-and-out" customers, and said construction could begin as soon as the weather breaks and be finished by June or July.

Mancine Optical will open a lens-grinding lab and a retail outlet, according to Joseph B. Mancine, one of five brothers in the Philadelphia-based business. He said the firm hoped to begin its 12,000-square-foot building in the spring and have it finished by mid- to late summer. The firm will employ 15 to 20 people, and occupy half of the building, renting the other.

Cash Register Systems Inc., currently renting space in Delanco, hopes to start construction on its new Route 130 building in April or May and begin occupancy in September. The firm sells and services cash registers and employs 30.

Dunkin’ Donuts decided on Delran, according to Ken Warnock, director of development, because, "We have a store in Cinnaminson and we have a store in Burlington and we thought we missed the market in-between. Delran is a nice town. We just want to penetrate the market."

Ricky's Army & Navy Store will be moving from Riverside, where owner Philip R. Josephs and his father operated the firm for 23 years, after construction of the 8,000-square-foot building is completed. It will be adjacent to the Abbondonza Restaurant. Josephs plans to occupy 5,000 feet and rent the rest.

Burger King hopes to begin its renovations early this month and be completed by mid-March. Interior space will be increased by about one-third, and 10 more employees probably will be added (there are now 45 to 50), according to Jim Welsh, director of development.

Cheong Lai, operator of the Cathay Inn on Race Street in Philadelphia for 10 years, has been renovating the old Gino's site in Delran intermittently for a year. He said he hoped to open in three months with 10 employees.

Richard T. Biviano of Audubon is awaiting settlement on the property that now houses Baran's Auto Upholstery, after which he will begin renovations. And Edward Barlow of the auto agency said his firm bought the former gas station "as an investment seven or eight months ago" and bad planned to renovate it for its former use. But, on finding out the cost of renovations, the firm decided to raze the building. Barlow is pleased with the results: "It gives us a beautiful open view."

Another planned renovation - to demolish the Texaco station at Chester Avenue and construct a convenience store - "is now on the back burner" because of budget considerations, according to the oil company's area manager Tom Daughtrey.

Route 130: More Than Just A Road

Source: Posted: March 05, 1986

Thousands of people in thousands of cars and trucks grind their way daily to and fro along Route 130.

The highway is their commuter line, their commerce line - their means, albeit a congested one, of getting from one end of Burlington County to another.

But Route 130 also has become much more.

For all those drivers moving north and south, there are others being attracted to Route 130 from the east and west. The growth of grocery stores, hamburger drive-ins, offices, malls and movie theaters along the highway has attracted those who live on either side of the road to it like a magnet.

They come from Riverton to shop at the Acme, from Willingboro to get McDonald's french fries, from Mount Holly to catch the latest movie at Millside Cinema.

That growth has changed the highway from its origins as a simple two-lane road following the course of the Delaware River into a major divided, six-lane highway. Today, not too many folks like crossing the highway, which to some has become known as "Bloody 130." Accidents on the clogged road are virtually a daily ritual. The fear has become ingrained, subliminal.

And so Route 130 also has become a barrier that has divided the communities along its length - a "Maginot line" to friends who live on one side or the other, to development and to the continued success of businesses in riverfront towns such as Burlington City and Riverton.

"It's a physical barrier, but it's also a social and psychological one," said Richard Knight, who has been working for the last year and a half as Delran's mayor to lift the perceived barrier, which cuts his town in half.

"In effect, we're cut off, one side from another," said Madeleine Koszyk, deputy mayor of Cinnaminson, where the highway also slices the town into two sections.

For example, the Roman Catholics who live in Cinnaminson on the west side of Route 130 go to Sacred Heart Church in Riverton. Those who live on the other side of Route 130 go to St. Charles, a church started in 1960 for the burgeoning population there. The highway was the natural dividing line for the parishes.

"You know how some towns have the big church?" Koszyk said. "Well, in Cinnaminson, we have two."

There are two distinct sides to both Delran and Cinnaminson. The evolution began after World War II, when the suburban construction boom began as soldiers returned home and bought the tract homes that made developers such as William Levitt famous. In Burlington County, Route 130 became the line between the old and the new.

In Delran, the development boom initially created some hard feelings on the part of longtime residents. The new people were younger and had children. They would want to spend money on schools. More people would mean having to spend more on township services such as the police department.

So, initially at least, the older residents were resentful and feared walloping tax increases.

"They weren't born and raised here," said Delran Councilwoman Mary Ann Rivell of the feelings aroused by the newcomers.

She was one of them, in fact, a latecomer who moved to Delran in 1976.

There is not so much division and tension across the highway now, township officials and residents say, but an identity crisis of sorts lingers.

Many in Delran still think of themselves as residents of Bridgeboro in old Delran, or of Tenby Chase on the east side of Route 130 in new Delran.

Tenby Chase is a development of 1,100 Colonial-style homes. Many residents there will answer "Tenby" instead of "Delran" when asked where they live. It is a community unto itself, complete with shopping along the east side of Route 130 and a civic association that publishes its own newspaper.

"I have no acquaintances on the other side of 130," said civic association president Virginia Bennett. "I think it's because I'm so busy here."

Knight and Rivell, who both live on the new side of the highway, ran on the same ticket in 1984 and concentrated their campaign on knitting together the township, to give Delran a sense of identity.

The Township Council makes a conscious effort to appoint people from both sides of Route 130 to municipal agencies such as the planning board and zoning board "so people would know it's not dominated by any one section," Rivell said.

Route 130 was not always a six-lane mega-road with concrete medial dividers.

Before the Depression, the highway was only a two-lane dirt road. There are no $21 million concrete spans over the Rancocas Creek - just a few covered wooden bridges.

It was called the Burlington Pike then. Trucks with bicyclelike tires would get bogged down on it on their way upstate or down.

In 1927, the state renamed the pike Route 25 and, in the early 1930s, began paving the road. Eventually, it became one of New Jersey's longest highways, and in 1953 it was renamed Route 130.

Today, it is one of the busiest roads in South Jersey. More than 37,000 cars pass through Cinnaminson on the highway on any given day, more than 34,000 through Edgewater Park.

Retailers and developers have not failed to notice all that traffic, all those drivers and passengers who are potential customers.

Despite many vacant stores in some shopping malls, more stores and strip shopping centers are springing up along Route 130 from Edgewater Park to Burlington.

There is precious little land left for more building. Put the emphasis on precious.

"They just turned down $80,000 an acre," said real estate broker Justin Spain of the owners of one of the few remaining pieces of land on the highway.

In Delran alone, nine new businesses and two renovations were completed last year, including the Mill Run Shopping Center at Suburban Boulevard, which will have 42 stores when fully occupied.

But that growth also has created headaches for municipal planning boards, many of which are now requiring traffic-impact studies and imposing strict guidelines for signs for any new business planned for Route 130.

Some are saying the regulation is coming too late.

"It's absolute chaos," said Anton Nelessen, a Rutgers University professor of urban planning, of the appearance of the roadside. He directed a study for the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce on development of the county's riverfront.

The lack of regulation of signs and other aesthetic features of many businesses has resulted in an unsightly mismatch that shocks the senses of many who drive Route 130 for the first time.

Many residents who drive the road regularly, however, have become numbed to the jumbled mess they see, Nelessen's study shows.

"They've seen it for so long they just don't see how ugly it is," he said in an interview.

Nelessen said he also saw the highway as a blockade to the development of riverfront communities such as Riverton and Burlington City.

To expand commercial development in those communities, businesses must expand their pool of potential customers from places such as Moorestown and even Philadelphia.

But in order to get the chance to stroll the brick sidewalks and shop in the quaint, historical stores that Burlington City has been developing to boost the city's economy, those shoppers have to maneuver through the Route 130 corridor.

Route 130 is more than just a barrier to the expansion of those riverfront communities' Main Street atmosphere of downtown shopping and restaurants. In Cinnaminson and Delran, it is Main Street. There is no other concentration of businesses in those two communities.

Cinnaminson's Koszyk said that two years ago she wanted to propose remaking Route 130 through into the town's "Main Street." Sidewalks with low brick walls to separate them from the busy highway and improved storefronts would do wonders to Cinnaminson's image.

"It could be worked on for the next 20 years," she said. "The main street would bring everyone together. It would be someplace for families to meet."

But Koszyk said she feared that her ideas may just be pie-in-the-sky, with business owners unwilling to change what they have now, and the Township Committee unable to agree on an adequate plan for the development.

In the Rutgers study, which was completed in January, Nelessen recommends just what Koszyk has proposed.

He said other businesses should follow the lead of many of the new fast- food restaurants, which are sometimes criticized for having gaudy signs but yet have the most attractive buildings and landscaping.

The study recommends three things for the improvement of Route 130:

* No more commercial development. Nelessen said the study determined that there are more than enough retail stores for the customers in the area now. Instead, remaining land near the highway should be used for professional offices and housing.

* Strict ordinances governing the size of signs. Some municipalities, such as Edgewater Park, recently developed ordinances restricting the size of signs in front of businesses. The current jumble of signs of all sizes and shapes is the result of the "anarchy" allowed in the past, in which businesses could put up what they pleased, Nelessen said.

* Better landscaping in front of businesses. Nelessen said new businesses should be required to build off the highway, with parking in the back and grass and trees in front.

That sort of regulation would beautify the highway and attract customers both to Cinnaminson and Delran and to the riverfront communities off the highway.

It would especially attract young affluent people from the region who have money to spend but who appear to be staying away from those areas now and shopping in Moorestown, Cherry Hill and Philadelphia, Nelessen said.

New businesses could be subject to the improvements immediately if the study's recommendations were to be adopted.

Businesses already established would be unchanged, Nelessen said, but if owners were to come in for zoning changes for their buildings, they could be forced to make the improvements the study proposes.

The municipal governments are still studying the Rutgers survey, and several are considering establishing committees to see how feasible the proposals would be.

There are already some enthusiastic followers such as Koszyk, who still has images of brick garden walls, pretty trees and broad sidewalks along Route 130 dancing in her head.

"Can you realize how ideal that would be?" she asked.

In Satellite Industry, Fear Of A New Kind Of Hacker

Source: Posted: May 05, 1986

When "Captain Midnight" interrupted a Home Box Office satellite signal with a printed message last weekend, a shudder went through some companies that depend on satellite communications.

Although the intrusion into the HBO movie was widely viewed with amusement, it signaled something more sinister to the communications industry: The next generation of "hacker" had arrived.

But this hacker didn't use a personal computer over telephone lines to break into corporate computers.

This hacker might be a bored technician on duty at a government or commercial satellite Earth station or even an electronics hobbyist with a backyard satellite television dish antenna.

And with the proliferation of equipment capable of transmitting to a satellite - many television stations today are buying mobile satellite trucks to transmit remotely - the potentially disastrous prospect of jamming commercial satellite transmissions or even inserting information into them becomes more likely.

"Fortunately, we haven't been plagued by it," said A. Fred Dassler, executive director of the International Association of Satellite Users and Suppliers. "The more publicity this gets, the more you can expect it to occur," he added.

Until now, the satellite industry has avoided discussion of the possibility of satellite hacking, but now "the cat's out of the bag," said Karl R. Savatiel, director of satellite communications for the American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

At risk is nearly any satellite user.

Heavy satellite users transmitting voice, video and data include the government and the military, television networks, cable-television systems, radio networks, cable-television services, long-distance telephone companies, banks, stock exchanges and just about everyone else with a need to get information from one point to another, distant point quickly and economically.

Federal authorities and HBO officials last week were hunting for the prankster called Captain Midnight who for four minutes around 12:30 a.m. April 27 inserted a color test pattern into the HBO showing of the movie The Falcon and the Snowman as it was being watched by cable-television subscribers.

In the test pattern was a message protesting the $12.95-a-month subscription fee that HBO began charging private satellite dish owners after it began scrambling its satellite transmissions.

HBO's new fee and plans by the cable-televison industry to scramble more satellite signals have drawn protests from owners of the backyard dish antennas and hearings before Congress. However, said Joseph R. Boyle, vice president of communications for the Society for Private and Commercial Earth Stations (SPACE), breaking into HBO's transmission was "wrong to do."

If caught, Captain Midnight could be sent to prison for up to a year and fined up to $10,000 under the Communications Act of 1934. The Captain also could face criminal penalties.

But capturing this video hacker won't be easy.

Authorities are "looking for a needle in a haystack. . . . I really don't know how you go about nailing anybody unless you catch them in the act," said Dassler at the satellite user's association.

Maureen P. Peratino, a Federal Communications Commission public information officer, said Friday that investigators from the FCC, FBI and Department of Justice were having no luck finding Captain Midnight. She said Dallas was one of several areas in which authorities were looking.

HBO last week wasn't commenting on the search to find Captain Midnight, said Lyn A. Herrlinger, a corporate public relations manager. She said HBO had taken steps to prevent an intrusion in the future, but she wouldn't say what those steps are.

"We do not believe it's just a backyard person," the FCC's Peratino said.

The clear transmission of broadcast-quality color bars that broke into the HBO movie might not have come from a backyard satellite dish.

Yet that doesn't mean electronic buffs with a backyard "television receive-only" dish couldn't turn it toward a satellite and interfere, if not jam, regular satellite signals, according to satellite specialists.

A satellite "uplink" - the signal going up to the satellite 22,300 feet above the Earth - is nothing more than a microwave radio signal.

And electronically, the satellites are nothing more than clusters of repeaters that receive narrow-beam signals from transmitters on Earth, amplify them and send them back to satellite antennas across a wide region.

If the satellite hacker knows exactly where the satellite is, knows the frequency of a given repeater and can send up a stronger radio signal to that repeater than the signal sent by the repeater's owner or renter (companies usually lease time on satellites), the hacker's signal can overwhelm the company's signal.

"Essentially, any microwave transmission can be jammed," acknowledged Peter A. Derosier, telecommucations manager at Hercules Inc., the chemical and aerospace company based in Wilmington.

While jamming a signal can be easy, inserting information into many types of business satellite transmissions would be difficult if not impossible, he said. Hercules sends its information to a satellite in digital form and can change the patterns of transmission to foil someone from sending in a second signal, Derosier explained.

Savatiel at AT&T Communications said he believes it is possible to foul a satellite transmission with a backyard television dish antenna even though it had been designed for only receiving a signal.

Anyone with an electronic background and about $3,000 in extra transmission equipment could raise havoc, Savatiel added.

Ian Murphy, a security consultant with Secure Data Systems Inc. of Philadelphia, said, "Satellites are just another aspect of this whole hacker phenomenon." He said the electronic "bulletin boards" used by computer enthusiasts who read and write on them through their computers have been abuzz with gossip about satellite transmission and cable programmers' plans to scramble.

HBO and other cable-television networks are particularly vulnerable because the exact locations of the satellites from which they transmit are published in the back of satellite-television magazines that list programming, Murphy said.

Details on locations of satellites used by businesses are much more difficult to find, said Murphy.

The HBO incident last week might be enough to convince the satellite industry that companies transmitting information must be identified in their transmission, said Savatiel at AT&T.

AT&T has been pressing to no avail for a mandatory requirement that the uplinks have a "fingerprint" buried within the signal so the transmitter can easily be identified, he added.

Such a fingerprint wouldn't be present in a renegade transmission from someone's backyard dish, but if a Captain Midnight made his transmission from a commercial earth station he or she easily could be found.

AT&T has had its satellite signals fouled by other businesses who are sending their signals to the wrong channel on the satellite, Savatiel said. When the misplaced signal appears, it takes time to identify who the sender is - a search that would be much easier if the signal had its own identifying number, he added.

Savatiel worries about the growth of satellite uplink stations - including those used to transmit sporting events or used by television news crews.

Local television news departments are quickly buying the satellite trucks, and a parking area packed tightly with remote satellite trucks at the recent National Association of Broadcasters convention in Dallas was testimony to that fact.

Captain Midnight has "shaken people up pretty much in the satellite industry," said Carole A. Knapp, an associate editor at Datapro Research Corp., which is based in Delran and follows the telecommunications industry.

Added Knapp: "It looks like for some time now that the industry will continue to be vulnerable."

Delran Reaches Out To Fire Victims

Source: Posted: June 08, 1986

While walking through a local grocery store recently, Laura Engelman was stopped by a woman she hardly knew.

"Here," the woman said, reaching into her pocketbook, unsnapping her wallet and pulling out a folded envelope containing a number of crisp bills. Pressing the envelope into Engelman's hand, the woman said, "I was hoping I would run into you so I could give you this."

A few days later, Engelman received a letter from a woman she hadn't seen in five years. As she unfolded the letter, a generous check made out to Engelman's family fluttered to the floor.

As much as she has tried to accept the generosity of such unselfish contributions, Laura Engelman is still stunned at the amount of support her family has received since their Delran Township home burned March 29.

In the fire, which was started by a cigarette match in the master bedroom of the three-bedroom home on Notre Dame Drive, the Engelmans lost all their possessions, including one of their two cats, Pixie.

Recalling the disaster, Laura Engelman said: "As I stood there, all I kept saying was, 'I can't believe I'm standing here watching everything I own burn up.' And I got to the point where I finally went into the house across the street because I couldn't watch it burn anymore."

Engelman, her husband, John, and their 17-year-old daughter, Judy, are living in a rented townhouse at the TenbyTowne complex. The rent and living expenses will be paid by the family's insurance company until late July.

The insurance company will pay for the partial repair of the home. The Engelmans had discussed using the insurance company's builder - which offered to perform the work at a lower price than what private builders had estimated - but decided instead to hire their own contractor and pay a little more.

Thanks to the generosity of residents and community groups, the Engelmans plan to replace many of the things that they lost in the fire. The Church of the Holy Name, of Delran, donated one Sunday's second collection to the family, who are members of the congregation. The Altar Roses Society of the church made a donation within two days of the fire. The Knights of Columbus, of which John Engelman is a member, made a generous donation to the family, as did the Democratic Men's Club of Delran. Judy's classmates at Delran High School also raised money, and her art teachers replaced the art supplies that she lost in the fire.

Even as the fire was being put out, neighbors carried platters of food across their lawns and driveways to feed the Engelmans as well as the firefighters.

"People just sent boxes, the next day, of things that you don't realize you need," Laura Engelman said. "You know, you don't have a piece of underwear to call your own. Another neighbor sent a box packed with dishes and glasses, cutlery, a tray with all the utensils in it for when we got the apartment. Someone else gave us a vacuum cleaner; just all the things you don't realize you need."

The Engelmans spent 24 years on Notre Dame Drive before the fire struck. Judy, who will be a junior at Delran High School in September and plans to become a commercial artist, has never known another home.

In her room, the second to be engulfed in flames, had been a bedroom set made by her father out of poplar wood. The last piece of the set, which Judy helped design and which included a desk and expansive headboard, was put in place two weeks before the fire. It took Jack Engelman two years to finish.

Sometimes, Laura Engelman admitted, she returns to the home to sift through the charred remains, hoping that she may find something she missed the last time she was there.

"Some people said to me later, 'I don't know how you can be out and doing things, I would be hysterical' " Engelman said. "But I think that because we had so much support . . . you have to go on.

"You have to start your life over," she continued. "You didn't die, you're alive, and that's what counts. There is life to be lived."

'Karate Kid Ii' To Be Shown Free

Source: Posted: July 02, 1986

Yet another big bang for the holiday weekend. Producer Jerry Weintraub and Columbia Pictures have announced a free Fourth of July showing of "The Karate Kid II," starring Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio, in theaters across the nation.

"I'm a promoter and there's no question that this is a promotion," Weintraub admitted to the press yesterday, "But I've been caught up with the Statue of Liberty. Our picture has a Japanese-American actor, and Italian- American actor and a Jewish-American producer."

According to Ed Russell, vice president of West Coast publicity, promotion and field operations, the event is the result of cooperation between Columbia and theater owners.

"The request came from Jerry Weintraub and Columbia pictures, but it is possible because everyone was willing to participate," Russell said. "There is something in excess of 1,000 theaters participating throughout the country. And there is no reimbursement to the theaters involved."

Russell said that publicity for the event includes interviews with Weintraub on television, cable and in print. A television spot featuring Weintraub and Morita will air today and tomorrow. Newspaper ads will run today through Friday.

According to Jack Sugrue, a spokesman for the Budco Theaters' local advertising and distribution office, the free screening in this area will take place at the following theaters at 10 a.m. Friday:

* Budco Olde City, Sansom Street walkway between 2nd & Front.

* Budco Walnut Mall III, 39th & Walnut streets.

* Budco Orleans 8, Bustleton & Cottman avenues.

* Budco Andorra 6, Ridge & Henry avenues.

* Budco Gateway 3, Devon exit of Rt. 202.

* Budco Springfield Twin, Baltimore Pike, Springfield.

* Budco 309 Cinema 9, Rt. 309, Montgomeryville.

* Budco Barn 5, Rt. 611, Doylestown.

* Budco Millside 3, Rt. 130, Delran, N.J.

* Budco Westmont Twin, Haddon Ave., Westmont, N.J.

* Budco Exton Twin, Rt. 30 & Rt. 100, Exton.

* AMC Woodhaven Mall 4, I-95 Woodhaven Rd. & Rt. 13.

* AMC Marlton 8, Rt. 70, Marlton, N.J.

* Eric I-95 Twin, intersection of I-95 & Rt. 1, Middletown Township.

* AMC Deptford 8, Clements Bridge & Almonesson roads, Deptford, N.J.

Seating is on a first-come, first served basis and is limited to the capacity of the theater.

Doughnuts And Personalities Flavor Delran Coffee Shop

Source: Posted: July 06, 1986

Mike and Ennie have been in Delran since about 1935 or so, they figure. The Delran Coffee Shop has been there only a little longer. Of course, before it was a coffee shop, it was a gas station.

And for a while, the town hall was tucked in one corner of that small building at Creek and Bridgeboro Roads. And so was a post office.

But mostly it was a hangout. And Mike and Ennie - that's Mike Ely and Ennie Faulkner (his mother named him Morris, but he likes Ennie better) - hung out there.

"Well, when we were in the service during World War II we weren't here," allowed Ely over a cup of coffee on a recent morning. "But other than that. . . . "

Now retired, they spend nearly every morning there. Like an old shoe, the coffee shop seems to fit them.

In an era when Burger King is serving croissants and McDonald's has installed fern plants, the Delran Coffee Shop is still a place where Bob McKee, in a clean white T-shirt and "Irish" tattooed on his left bicep, will serve up home fries, scrambled eggs and coffee and ask "How ya doin' ?"

"I used to come here and get coffee and doughnuts myself," McKee said, breaking the yolk on an egg he was cooking. That was in the days when he was doing construction work. After 15 years though, that got to be a grind and one day, while getting his coffee, former diner owner Bob Westergard said the place was for sale.

McKee said he took the day off from work and brought his wife, Lorrie, down to look at the coffee shop. "We put down a deposit on it that day," he said.

A 38-year-old Vietnam veteran who likes to hunt and play golf almost as much as he likes to cook, McKee was looking for a new niche.

On Feb. 17, 1984, McKee took his place in front of the griddle and said he'll stay there until he retires.

Which was just fine with Ely, a 67-year-old retired motor vehicle inspector, and Faulkner, 66, and retired from the Hoeganaes Corp., who continued their daily stops.

"This is where I learned how to play pinochle," Ely said.

He and Faulkner would come into their hangout in their teenage days, get a Coke and Tastykake for a dime and head into the backroom for a card game. It was Cohen's gas station then. No garage, just gas - and the gas was eight cents a gallon.

"Business wasn't great," Ely said. "It was the Depression then. Who had money to buy gas? People used to come and hang around."

He was on his second cup of coffee and Faulkner still hadn't shown up. Pretty soon he was up and at the phone, calling Faulkner's house. No answer, but just after he hung up, Faulkner came in.

"I'm here, I'm here," he said, trudging through the front door.

The place has been a coffee shop since January 1959, according to Ely. The pair doesn't play cards there anymore (and when they do play, they play canasta), so instead they settle for schmoozing with the other regulars - the truck drivers, highway crews, groundskeepers, businessmen, politicians and the rest that frequent the coffee shop.

"Uh, oh, look who's coming in. That's Burt," said Faulkner.

Burt Bowker, a truck driver with "Al" emblazoned on his blue work shirt, took his seat at the end of the counter.

"Whadda ya say Burt," Faulkner said. "Hey, you change your name or what?"

"It's Al-bert," Bowker replied. He didn't have to order coffee. Cindy Stellwag, who has been waitressing for McKee since he took over, poured him a cup, black, the way he likes it.

When things get busy, Ely and Faulkner occasionally take turns clearing tables and taking orders. When Linda Bennett, another waitress, was injured in an auto accident in May, they even showed up a little early to help with the breakfast rush.

"The tips weren't bad," Faulkner said.

"We wouldn't do the dishes though," Ely reminded him.

They Aim To Give Horses A 2d Chance

Source: Posted: September 14, 1986

Mr. Higgins, a lean, white horse with an even whiter shock of hair for a mane, was wandering through the clover of a small field on a recent afternoon, chewing on grass and looking as content as a healthy horse can.

With sun filtering through the nearby trees, he was bathed in a golden glow. The scene had all the makings of a sentimental greeting card.

But two months ago, life was not as serene for Mr. Higgins.

In July, he was on the auction block and was likely to end up in a glue factory.

Enter Laura Holler and the Save A Horse Foundation. She is president of the fledgling organization, which is based in Delran and was chartered with the state Department of Law and Public Safety in July. Its purpose is to buy neglected and abused animals that can be nursed back to health rather than sold for slaughter.

Holler and her friend, John Dobran, and a few of their animal-loving friends were tired of nice, friendly horses like Mr. Higgins meeting what they believed were unncessary deaths just so someone could glue two pieces of paper together or have meat for dogfood.

"Why do they have to go to slaughter?" Holler remembered asking herself as she watched horses being auctioned.

So she and Dobran and their friends got together, put a few bucks in the kitty and went off to an animal auction in New Holland, Pa. And on July 14, they bought Mr. Higgins for $175.

They hope he is the first of many horses they'll be able to buy through the foundation, nurse back to health and then put up for sale.

"He's a real doll baby," Holler said as she stroked Mr. Higgins' mane.

The horse is boarded in old stone barn in Cinnaminson, just a stone's throw from the Delaware River.

Holler visits him twice a day, feeding him hay, grain and grass.

Mr. Higgins was not a healthy horse when he was purchased, and some of the scars still show. There are healing cuts around his right eye, and though he is beginning to fatten up, he was undernourished when Save A Horse acquired him in July.

"They're not abused as much as neglected," said Holler, who has been riding since she was 7, of the horses she has seen and wanted to buy through the foundation.

"People get a horse and they don't know what to do with them," she said. ''It's not like getting a puppy and opening a can of dog food everyday."

Instead, through either intentional or unintentional neglect, horses can often go undernourished and uncared for, she said.

Those are the horses Save A Horse wants.

Holler, a convenience store clerk, hopes the foundation is going to be able to sustain itself. The plan is to sell Mr. Higgins and use the money to buy a new horse.

With a horse lover like Holler to contend with, however, buyer beware: You better take care of Mr. Higgins.

"I won't give him to anybody who won't let me check on him," she said. ''I'm putting it right in the contract: If I come see him and he's not taken care of, I'm taking him back. No money refunded."

Save A Horse also continues to seek donations, and Holler said the money is trickling in. (She can be reached at 609-461-3661.)

Some money came from Holler's 75-year-old neighbor.

"She comes out sometimes and stands at the stall and just looks at him," Holler said as she removed Mr. Higgins' bridle after his daily exercise run on a recent afternoon. That's all the satisfaction her neighbor wants.

But Holler and her colleagues with the foundation find that raising money is not just a matter of sticking a few jars next to some supermarket checkout lanes. It means attracting attention to the group and holding fund-raising events. They've begun to do that, but even if they go no further with Save A Horse they feel like they've already had a success.

"Even if we don't get any further than Mr. Higgins," Holler said, "at least we've saved one."

Heady Lure Of Wineries In The Area

Source: Posted: October 31, 1986

This is the season when autumn leaves blush crimson and the odor of fermenting grapes tickles the nose with memories of Grandfather's homemade red wine.

Those memories linger among Italian oak barrels stacked in the aging room of a stone winery in Milford, N.J. It fills the air in a Chadds Ford winery, at which suburbanites crowd around a table for a taste of cinnamonlike Chambourcin Reserve or spiced apple wine.

It makes people nostalgic for the past and thirsty for the future.

"You walk in a winery now, and it smells so good," said Rudy Marchesi, a winemaker at Alba Vineyards in Milford. "We just finished the harvest season, and all the grapes are in the tank bubbling away. So many people smell the grapes fermenting and tell us it's the same smell they knew when they were growing up and their parents and grandparents made wine."

There are more than 50 wineries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to satisfy the palate, and the nose, of fanciers with a taste for such diverse wines as Chardonnays, Rieslings, strawberry and Peach Melissa, a sweet wine named for the daughter of two Belvidere, N.J., winemakers.

This is the season when Delran, N.J., winemaker Matt Antuzzi starts pouring sips of his exotic fruit wines: blackberry, red raspberry, cherry and blueberry.

It is the season to sample firsthand the pleasures of wineries.

Most of the winemakers, who make up a young and growing industry eager to show off its wares, offer free or very inexpensive wine-tastings and tours. Some stretch even further to entice visitors with hayrides, homemade hors d'oeuvres, cheese-tastings and music.

For instance, the Chaddsford Winery, a family-run business housed in an old barn in the village of Chadds Ford, organized an apple festival last month in a field humming with a chorus of crickets. For its visitors, the winery offered free sips of a Riesling and featured a sale table laden with tortellini salad, strawberry soup and rich, glazed slices of apple strudel.

The same week, Marchesi of Alba Vineyards hosted one of his medieval dinners, at which Rudy Marchesi dressed as a convivial monk who, accompanied by baroque music, served guests in a dim, candlelit room with a straw-covered floor. To preserve authenticity, guests ate venison stew and roast chicken with wooden spoons and knife off a wooden board. ("No forks - they're tools of the devil," said "Brother" Marchesi, who acknowledged that many guests ended up eating their $25 dinners with their hands.)

The list of winery tours offered this season is as varied as the grapes plucked from twisted vines.

Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey have wine associations, which have prepared brochures that include maps, directions and tasting hours for the wineries. They can be obtained from the Pennsylvania Wine Association (794-7449) and the New Jersey Winegrowers Association (609-561-0567).

For those who long for a sip of homegrown and produced wine, there is plenty to choose from.

Automotive Shopping Spot Is On The Books

Source: Posted: November 09, 1986

A one-stop shopping center for automotive needs has been planned for Delran Township.

It would be built along busy Route 130, where thousands of potential customers zoom by every day.

Called the Auto Complex, the center eventually would house about a dozen businesses - from a muffler shop to a tire store - as part of a 20-acre center. The parcel is part of what eventually will be a 120-acre industrial park, according to the developer of the complex, George Yelland.

The site, which now contains only Yelland's own offices and garages, straddles the Delran-Cinnaminson Township line at the intersection of Route 130 and Taylor's Lane. The Delran Planning Board is expected to issue final approval of the project tomorrow night.

Just as Sansom Street is the home of the jewelry trade in Philadelphia, ''this could turn into the Sansom Street of the automotive trade," Yelland said.

Unlike the auto mall in Philadelphia, which has many car dealerships, Delran's complex would provide car services, not the cars themselves. There would be a muffler-repair business, a lubrication shop, a tire store, a rust- proofing shop, an auto-parts store and other shops, Yelland said.

The trend toward automotive shopping centers is increasing, especially in the Sun Belt.

A reason why, industry analysts say, is the demise of the corner gas station. In 1972, there were 226,500 service stations. There are fewer than 125,000 today, according to Census Bureau statistics. Consumers are looking elsewhere for service.

Locally, the mall would be a boon to customers and the automotive businesses alike, Yelland said.

Being in one place makes it easy for the customer, Yelland said. It also means that the shops that are now scattered up and down the highway can help each other by attracting more business to one central location, he added.

Yelland also said he hoped to bring to the complex a branch office of the state Department of Motor Vehicles. "That would be like having a post office in a shopping center," he said.

Yelland has experience in the automotive business. He is the former owner of a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Burlington Township and used to own a partial interest in the Triboro Pontiac dealership in Delran.

He hopes his own business in the complex, an auto-refurbishing firm, will be open within two weeks. Tenants would be able to lease or purchase space in the complex.

A Chinese Restaurant In Delran With Great Decor, So-so Cuisine

Source: Posted: November 30, 1986

Few restaurants can match the elegant decor of the Cathay Inn. Indeed, the beautiful furnishings at this Chinese restaurant in Delran rival those of the best in Hong Kong.

A Chinese tiled roof and exterior pillars entwined with carved serpents set the scene for the sunshine-fresh interior with bright yellow walls decorated with giant murals of Chinese country scenes. Windows covered with lacy floor-to-ceiling sheers with wide bands of intricate cutwork are crowned with tasseled swag valances. Rows of ceiling panels are decorated with gilt dragon and phoenix carvings.

Banks of ivy and other greenery and elaborately decorated room dividers screen the kitchen and restrooms, while giant, back-lighted photographs of the mountains of Guilin give a breathtaking view of the real China.

Gorgeous yellow-and-green decorator print fabric table coverings are protected by plexiglass covers. Tables are brightened with bouquets of purple and white chrysanthemums in pretty, cloisonne-like vases and burgundy-color ed cotton napkins sprouting from beautiful teacups rimmed with a maroon frieze of Chinese warriors and chariots. Heavy rosewood Oriental chairs with gold cushions are the crowning touches.

While pleasant, the cuisine is no match for the decor; portions are generous and dishes are made with a good variety of ingredients, but the sauces are modest, at best, and there is precious little that could be considered distinguished.

The most appealing dish was chicken and corn soup ($3 for two people), a hearty appetizer thick with mashed chicken and corn niblets drizzled with egg and sprinkled with fresh scallions.

Fried dumplings ($3.50) were eight translucent won ton crescents plump with ground pork; an equal number of steamed meat dumplings (also $3.50) were open-topped wonton wrappers with crimped edges, filled with the ground pork. The best part was the two accompanying dipping sauces - light vinegar flecked with shards of freshly shaved ginger, and red chili pepper sauce so volcanic that even a hint of it brought a flush.

Four Seasons ($9) was a garlic-scented, catchall dish that included thin slices of beef and red-roasted pork, several shrimp, one or two pieces of lobster, snow-pea pods, bamboo shoots and the biggest Chinese straw mushrooms you ever saw, all bathed in a disappointingly bland black-bean sauce.

Cathay duck ($11) also offered nearly everything in the kitchen - meaty pieces of duck with a pleasantly crisp coating, shrimp, chicken, sliced deep- sea scallops, a shrimp ball, red-roasted pork, water chestnuts, baby corn, canned mushrooms, snow peas and bamboo shoots, but in a similiarly unremarkable brown sauce.

An uninspired dessert list was restricted to ice cream, litchi nuts and almond cookies. Ho-hum.

Service was friendly and attentive, quick to refill the teapot and replenish the crisp appetizer noodles without being asked. The restaurant has no liquor license, but patrons are welcome to bring their own spirits; just don't bring so much you can't enjoy the beauty of the dining room.


Rte. 130 South, Delran, 764-0096

Open: Full menu served 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., until 11 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2-10 p.m. Sun.

Price range: Appetizers average $4, entrees $8.

Credit cards: Major cards.

Nonsmoking section: No.

Facilities for handicapped: Yes.

Atmosphere: Gorgeous.

Amc Chain Buys Budco Theaters Inc.

Source: Posted: January 01, 1987

A subsidiary of AMC Entertainment Inc. yesterday acquired Budco Theaters Inc., Philadelphia's second-largest chain of movie theaters, for more than $20 million.

The sale of Budco's 113 movie screens in 42 locations to AMC's American Multi-Cinema Inc. division apparently propelled AMC past Sameric Corp. as the largest theater operator in the region.

Before the acquisition, AMC had 43 movie screens in nine locations in Philadelphia and its suburbs. When combined with Budco, it now has a total of 156 screens in 51 places in the region.

A spokesman for Sameric declined to reveal the number of screens the company has in operation. In May 1985, a company spokesman said Sameric was operating about 140 screens in 55 city and suburban locations in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

In a prepared statement, AMC said it formed a new subsidiary of American Multi-Cinema, AMC Philadelphia Inc., to buy 100 percent of the stock of Budco. H. Donald Busch, Budco's president, will be president of AMC Philadelphia and will be a minority equity owner in the new subsidiary, the statement said.

No additional information was available about the purchase price, AMC spokesman Ronald J. Foreman said. Pre-merger notification of the transaction has been submitted to appropriate government agencies, including the Justice Department's antitrust division and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Foreman said.

The acquisition of Budco also may have pushed AMC, based in Kansas City, into the number-one spot nationally among movie theater owners, with 1,336 screens in 263 theater complexes in 27 states.

United Artists Corp. has been the leading operator. United Artists has about 1,400 screens, according to a spokeswoman for the company in San Francisco. Movie-industry trade publications have estimated United Artists has about 1,300 screens.

Boston-based General Cinema Corp. operates 1,275 movie screens in 342 locations.

The Budco purchase also is part of a national trend by major operators, such as AMC and General Cinema, and film studios, including United Artists, to buy and upgrade movie theaters, or to build new theaters. Both expansion methods are designed to increase the major companies' market share and to increase their influence in dealing with film distributors, Foreman said.

AMC, according to its statement, in 1963 pioneered the so-called ''multiplex" cinema concept of locating more than one screen in a theater. More than 70 percent of AMC's screens now are in complexes with six or more auditoriums.

AMC intends to increase the number of theaters it operates that are like its new Granite Run 8 complex in Granite Run Mall, at Routes 1 and 352 in Delaware County, Foreman said. The complex has two larger auditoriums, holding about 450 persons each, with the most sophisticated sound and film- display technology available. The rest of the auditoriums are capable of seating from 200 to 450 moviegoers, he said.

AMC earned $7.8 million or 52 cents a share on revenues of $249.2 million in its last fiscal year, ended March 31, compared with a profit of $13 million or 87 cents a share on revenue of $240.4 million in fiscal 1985.

The decline in profits was primarily because of AMC's expansion. The company had 808 screens in 158 locations in fiscal 1985, compared with 968 screens in 184 locations in fiscal 1986.

Financial data were not available for Budco, which has been privately held.

4-alarm Fire Damages New Building In Delran

Source: Posted: January 15, 1987

A four-alarm fire heavily damaged a nearly completed commercial and office building last night in Delran, fire officials said.

The fire in the Mill Run Executive Offices on Route 130 was reported at 9:52 p.m. and burned out of control until 11:21 p.m.

Most of the fire damage was on the second floor of the 2 1/2-story, $6 million building, which was about to be occupied by lawyers and accountants, according to owner William Novak.

Delran Fire Chief Joseph Lehmann said the fire began on the second floor and spread upward. Firefighters chopped holes in the roof to fight the blaze.

The first floor houses about 16 shops, two of which sustained water damage, and the second floor was to be occupied next week, Novak said.

Fire officials said they did not know the cause of the fire. It was under investigation by the Delran fire marshal and the Burlington County Fire Marshal's Office.

No injuries were reported.

About 60 firefighters using 15 pieces of equipment battled the blaze.

3 Restaurants Planned For Strip Of Route 130

Source: Posted: January 21, 1987

Two major restaurants and a third - a specialty restaurant - are expected to open within a stone's throw of each other on Route 130 in Delran Township in the next six to eight months.

The major restaurants - Red Lobster and Golden Corral - are part of nationwide chains, and this will be Golden Corral's first venture in New Jersey.

The Red Lobster will be constructed at the northeast corner of Route 130 and Tenby Chase Drive, in front of the Hunter's Glen apartment complex.

Golden Corral will be constructed on the other side of Route 130 at the front of the new Mill Run Plaza shopping center.

The specialty restaurant, Ribz, will be located in the Tenby Plaza shopping center on the south side of Route 130 below Tenby Chase Drive.

The two major restaurants received approval of the Delran planning board in the last two months, according to Sandra Theis, secretary of the board.

The Red Lobster restaurant will seat 283 customers in a building of about 8,000 square feet on a 2.79-acre site, according to Edward Penberthy, a Moorestown attorney representing the restaurant chain, based in Orlando, Fla., and owned by General Mills, the food conglomerate.

Neal Terwilliger, site development manager for the chain, estimated the cost of erecting the restaurant at $2 million. He said that construction could start in late April or early May and that the restaurant could be open by Labor Day.

The Delran Red Lobster will employ 80 to 100 people, according to Terwilliger. The chain operates 385 to 390 restaurants through the country, he said, and has units in Canada and Japan. The chain opened its first New Jersey restaurant when it purchased the old Kenney's Suburban Restaurant on Route 70 in Cherry Hill.

Terwilliger said the Red Lobster will be a full-service, sit-down restaurant. It will be a family-oriented dinner house, although he said it will have liquor license, and it will be open seven days a week.

The Golden Corral will take a 15-year lease with five-year options thereafter on a building to be constructed by the owners of the Mill Run Plaza, according to Jay Funck of Cherry Hill, manager of investment leasing for Golden Corral Family Steakhouse, which is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Golden Corral is a privately owned corporation, he said, with 468 restaurants nationwide.

The 7,600-square-foot restaurant will seat 228 customers. It will occupy a tract of about 10,000 square feet at the front of the shopping center, Funck said.

Funck said construction is scheduled to start March 15 and take about 3 1/2 months. He said the chain hoped to open the restaurant before July 4.

Golden Corral will have 35 to 45 employees, he said, most of them part time. It will not have a liquor license.

Golden Corral, Funck said, will be a family sit-down restaurant, cafeteria style, with a salad bar with soup and other hot items such as pastas or a potato bar with eight to 10 toppings. The menu, he said, would include ribs, chicken, shrimp, hamburgers, steaks and desserts.

Ribz will be operated by Ernie Wooden, former managing general partner at Ernie's Restaurant in the Sheraton-Poste Inn in Cherry Hill, and will employ 10 people.

Wooden said his 1,800-square-foot restaurant would seat 72 and he hoped it would be open Feb. 14. Wooden said the restaurant would serve four varieties of ribs cooked over hickory or charcoal in a custom-made barbecue pit. Another specialty, he said, would be Rosemary Chicken prepared on a rotisserie.

Wooden said that although some might think the proliferation of restaurants along the busy Route 130 corridor in Delran would be self-defeating, the reverse is true.

"Restaurants spill over on each other," he said. "That's why you see a Wendy's, a Taco Bell, a Roy Rogers and a Burger King in the same strip. It's so people will think of it as an area to go to eat."

Businesses Look North To Lure Development Here

Source: Posted: February 25, 1987

Burlington County is a great place to locate a business, according to many developers, bankers and builders here. And that's why they've been leaving.

Now wait, don't worry. They're not going for good. They're just taking quick jaunts to places such as Bergen County and New Brunswick to spread the gospel of the blessings Burlington County can bestow on companies that would locate here.

"We have a great product - a great county - and we want to share the news," said Karen S. Sheaffer, a marketing representative for the Whitesell Construction Co. of Mount Laurel and president of Businesses Committed to Burlington County. The organization, known as BC Squared, is made up of developers, builders and other business people interested in developing the county.

Last week, BC Squared made a missionary trip to New Brunswick to preach the virtues of the county to the uninitiated - real estate agents in Middlesex, Monmouth and Somerset Counties.

"Eight out of 10 people don't even know whether (Burlington) is near Camden or Trenton," said one broker.

But they're learning.

At the Hyatt Regency in downtown New Brunswick, more than 50 of them gathered under the shimmering chandeliers of the hotel's meeting room for coffee and croissants, bacon and eggs, chit-chat and networking.

They received prospectuses on office centers under construction and bottles of rose and chablis from Antuzzi's winery in Delran.

The room was ringed by displays of the newest developments in Burlington County, such as the Horizon Corporate Center in Mount Laurel and the nearby Cambridge Crossing and Fellowship West projects of Rouse & Associates.

Lewis Nagy, the Burlington County director of economic development, gave a speech and slide presentation illustrating the economic and personal benefits the county has to offer. The slide show started with photographs of the Riverton Yacht Club on the Delaware River and ranged across the county to the beaches of Great Bay.

"Some brokers hardly ever bring their clients to Burlington County," Nagy told the crowd as a picture of stocks appeared on the screen. Then up flashed a cemetery. "Some brokers never do," he joked.

The brokers took notice - and not because of the humor.

"This is where it has to happen. Now is the time," said Stuart R. Zaikov, a Woodbridge real estate agent.

"Available land at reasonable prices," chimed in one of his associates, Sally Goldman.

Land suitable for development in North Jersey is becoming scarce, and, as a result, more expensive. Some parcels in Bergen County are being sold for $250,000 an acre, while land in Burlington can be purchased for $75,000 an acre.

As Burlington becomes more and more attractive to North Jersey firms, local developers are seeking to hasten the southward trend. In 1985, BC Squared was formed as a way for private industry to assist the county Department of Economic Development.

BC Squared has an annual budget of $70,000, which comes from membership dues.

In October, the group made a presentation in Bergen County. Nagy said several companies from that area had since expressed an interest in locating in Burlington.

J. Franklin Shaak, a corporate real estate agent in East Brunswick who attended last week's presentation, said he had an increasing number of clients interested in Burlington County. He was recently scheduled to take a Korea- based canvas manufacturer on a tour of sites near Bordentown.

Though rent for office space here is comparable to that of North Jersey, it is in home prices and land costs that Burlington has the advantage, he said.

For example, the price for a single-family home averages between $135,000 and $172,000, according to the county Economic Development Department.

"Those are good prices," Shaak said. "That's where the edge is."

Conrail's Working On Its Old Railroad Image

Source: Posted: June 08, 1987

Conrail knows what you're probably thinking when you think of "freight train."

And the Philadelphia-based railroad is trying to change your mind with a major marketing and advertising program that will cost more than $1 million. The railroad won't disclose exactly how much it will spend.

If your thoughts are like those of many businesspeople, the adjectives that come to mind to describe freight shipped by rail include "slow," "damaged" and "not on time," acknowledged Saul Resnick, Conrail vice president of public affairs.

Those notions were best-suited in the era of the Penn Central dinosaur and the troubled early days when the government propped up Conrail, which now is a publicly held company, he contended.

"That's the taste that's left in a lot of shippers' mouths that may have used railraods 10 or 12 years ago," Resnick said. "The campaign is important to dispel perceptions about what railroads are all about."

Conrail and its advertising agency, Richardson, Myers & Donofrio Inc. of Baltimore, have begun a campaign running in major business publications, the shipping industry trade press and daily newspapers to attract the attention of those who decide how a company's goods will be shipped.

"They don't think of railroads, they think of trucks," Resnick said. ''The goal here is to sensitize a broad base of potential customers out there that Conrail has more dimension than just the Northeast and Midwest," he adds.

"Customers Keep Telling Conrail Where to Go," notes the advertisement. Folded maps with bold, hand-drawn arrows show three different routes, including the Far East to the Northeast.

The rail company is offering "more efficient connections" domestically or around the world, and ends its ad with the statement: "Conrail. We've Made the Right Connections."

Resnick said Conrail also is trying to shake the image of being only a ''bulk carrier" moving commodities such as coal or iron ore. In fact, the amount of Conrail's "piggyback" traffic - trailers or marine containers carried on flatcars - grew by 17 percent last year over the year before.

"What we have to do is begin to open up the doors," Resnick said. And the carrier also will have to demonstrate to the potential customer that it can move the goods cheaper or with better service than by trucks or other means.

Richardson Myers developed the campaign after signing on with Conrail in January. The railroad's former agency, dating back to 1976 when Conrail was formed, was Ogilvy & Mather of New York.

"We thought that perhaps we could do better with a smaller agency that perhaps could give greater attention to our account," Resnick said.

In other account changes and news affecting Philadelphia-area businesses and agencies:

* Campbell Soup Co. of Camden moved its huge $10 million beverage advertising account to London-based Saatchi & Saatchi. The agency will handle all advertising for Campbell's domestic beverages, including V8, Campbell's Tomato Juice and Juice Bowl Juices and Drinks. Those who lost the account were Backer & Spielvogel of New York, which handled media planning and buying, and Leber-Katz Partners of New York, which helped with some new product concepts under development. Robert Subin, Campbell's general manager/beverages, said that it's "essential that we concentrate our advertising within one agency."

* MRI Marketing Communications of Bala Cynwyd was appointed marketing communications agency for Johnson & Johnson's extended-care products, which aim at older patients. The agency also has been chosen to develop a television campaign for Hersheypark, the Hershey amusement park.

* Rabbit Software Co., a Malvern computer software firm, named Ketchum Communications Inc. of Philadelphia as its advertising and public relations agency.

* JRA/Marketing Communications of Philadelphia was selected by Mediq Inc. of Pennsauken as the advertising agency for the company's Mid-Atlantic Kidney Stone Center in Marlton. Marsden Manufacturing Co. of Delran, a maker of heat-transfer systems for industry, also selected JRA as its agency.

* Delaware Valley Subaru Dealers Association, which comprises 27 dealerships in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, has named LevLane Advertising of Bala Cynwyd as its advertising agency.

Mastering Adversity To Obtain A Diploma

Source: Posted: June 21, 1987

Eddie Rowan Jr. had worried that he might miss his high school graduation because he is still recuperating from his latest hospital stay.

But the 17-year-old Riverside youth, who suffers from spina bifida, will graduate tomorrow from Maple Shade High School with the rest of his classmates, even though he will have to be carried in on a stretcher.

Eddie, who was born with an opening in the spinal cord that left him unable to walk or control his lower body, will be transported by ambulance from the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia to the ceremony at the high school.

Walter M. Maas, owner of the Selfcare Ambulance Service of Lenola, volunteered to transport him from the hospital, where he has been staying since Monday, to the ceremony.

And neighbors and schoolmates, who say they admire Eddie's staunch attitude and school spirit, have launched two fund-raising drives to help him and his family with the huge medical expenses.

Clifford Mancini, a neighbor of the Rowans' and owner of Mancini Optical in the Mancini shopping center on Route 130 in Delran, came up with the idea of raising money for the Rowan family and enlisted the help of the other merchants in the center.

Mike and Ann Chaples, of Chaples Carpet; Howard Freedman, a chiropractor; Gerri Cascio and Kathy Thornton of Top Notch Travel; Joel Koppelman of Sunset Jewelers, and Joe and Judy Cranmer of Sunset Hairstyling pitched in to conduct a raffle and collect donations.

The winners of the 50-50 raffle - Vicki Santino and Judy Cranmer - donated the proceeds right back to the fund-raising campaign.

The drive collected about $2,000, but equally important, it inspired the faculty and students at Maple Shade High School to launch a similar effort. The two groups are close to reaching their combined goal of $5,000.

Joseph Walters, president of the senior class at Maple Shade, said an account had been established in Eddie's name at the high school "and all the clubs in the school will be contributing."

In addition, Walters said, the drive sponsors are contacting local businessmen for contributions. By the end of last week, he said, they had collected about $1,800.

Leo Coceano, who taught Eddie chemistry last year, said he had initiated the fund-raising drive in Maple Shade because he had been impressed with Eddie's attitude.

"It always amazed me that he was always on time even though I know that sometimes he didn't feel good. He was always working. He was an excellent student, always positive," Coceano said.

"I went to the prom last year to see him dance because he told me he could dance in a wheelchair. He was very, very proud of that," he said.

Eddie's mother, Mary, said, "He went to all the dances and football games. I couldn't believe this kid wanted to go to a dance."

Eddie attended special education classes in Riverside, his mother said, ''then decided that was not what he needed." Because Riverside High is not accessible to the handicapped, the Board of Education paid to send Eddie to Maple Shade.

Walters said Eddie never had allowed his handicap or his need for a wheelchair to get around to prevent him from participating in school activities.

"I've seen him at homecoming," Walters said. "He's come to all our school dances. He's gone to a rock concert in our town. And I held a picnic, a personal party, catered with a DJ (last) August, and he showed up for that.

"He doesn't let that (condition) hold him back, and the kids really accept him the way he is."

Eddie, the oldest son of Edward and Mary Rowan, was born Aug. 9, 1969, with a hole in his spine. When he was 5, doctors inserted a pumplike shunt into his head to relieve cerebral spinal-fluid pressure, and when it gets blocked, surgeons must repair it.

The Rowans have two other children, Kevin, 15, and Patrick, 8. Edward Sr. is a facilities manager specialist with Provident Mutual Life Insurance, and his hospitalization insurance covers a lot of their medical bills. As for the rest, Mary Rowan said, "You've heard of home equity loans, haven't you?"

Eddie, who has been hospitalized more than 40 times, has had operations on his head, neck, spinal cord and legs and has lost one kidney and 50 percent function in the other, Mary Rowan said.

Last year alone, he was hospitalized in January, April, June and August. Then, at Thanksgiving, he started having blurred vision and weakness in his arms and had to go back into the hospital. He hasn't been able to attend school since January.

He has been working at home with a tutor to keep up with his studies so that he could graduate with his class, his mother said.

Despite his health problems, Eddie wants to go to college, his parents say.

"He's a gutsy kid," Mary Rowan said.

That hope will depend on his therapy, which began last week at the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital, where he will be patterned in efforts to restore his upper arm strength and trunk control.

Eddie was told about the fund drive at the Mancini Center, but Mary Rowan said she hadn't specifically told him about the effort at Maple Shade. She's saving it for a graduation surprise.

Eddie enjoys "anything connected with the school, with his peers, any cards he's received," she said. "His classmates went on a Florida trip, and he was unable to go, but they brought him home a sweatshirt and picture, and that did more for his spirits than anything else."

Developer Gets Initial Approval For Shopping Center, 106 Houses

Source: Posted: July 12, 1987

A Cherry Hill developer has received preliminary approval from the Delran Township Planning Board to construct a shopping center and 106 houses on one of the last large available parcels of land along busy Route 130.

Developer A. Roman Besser, who has an option on the land, estimated the construction cost of the project at $25 million, exclusive of land. The land is owned by Fred Siris of Westmont.

The 78.7-acre tract is located at the junction of southbound Route 130 and Bridgeboro Road just beyond the interchange constructed for the new Route 130 bridge over the Rancocas Creek.

"This is the last piece of any size available on Route 130 in Delran," said Besser. There has been heavy development along the busy six-lane highway in the last several years.

The shopping center will consist of a two-story office building, a supermarket building, and buildings for department and specialty stores, a free-standing bank and a four-story office building. There will be parking for 1,386 cars.

Tri-Star Inc., Besser's firm, had to get a height variance for the four- story office building since Delran's ordinances restrict building heights to three stories.

The shopping center will be 700 feet off Route 130 and consist of 136,620 square feet, not including 43,200 square feet in the two-story building, 80,000 in the four-story building and 3,000 in the bank.

Besser said final plans would probably be brought before the Planning Board in August and if approved, construction would begin immediately on the shopping center and could be completed within six to seven months.

The single-family homes, which would be a mix of Tudor, Colonial and Victorian styles, would sell for $130,000 to $135,000, he estimated, and would go on the market next year.

The houses would be on 10,000-square-foot lots with 75-foot frontage. In all, 48.7 acres of the tract would be residential, 30 acres commercial.

The automobile entrance to the shopping center is about 1,500 feet south of the point where the onbound ramp from Bridgeboro Road feeds into southbound Route 130. One condition of the Planning Board was that Besser build one additional entrance and exit for truck traffic farther south of the automobile entrance on 130 to alleviate congestion.

The residential streets in the development would connect to Lichtenthal and Faunce Streets in Delran and to Fairview Street, via Harper Boulevard.

Besser has developed such high-rise apartments as the Landmark Apartments at Interstate 295 and Route 70 in Cherry Hill, the Haddon View Apartments in Westmont and the Mark 70 condominiums in Cherry Hill.

Computers Are Unveiled By Digital

Source: Posted: September 10, 1987

Digital Equipment Corp. yesterday unveiled a range of high-performance computers, work stations and services that analysts said could challenge International Business Machines Corp.'s models.

The new MicroVAX 3500 and MicroVAX 3600 mid-range units exceed IBM's comparably configured 9370 Model 60 system, but at a cost lower than lesser- equiped IBM models, Digital executives said.

The new machines also appear to give Digital an advantage over IBM because they are easier to connect to other computers than comparable IBM machines, said Victor Votsch, an analyst with Datapro Research of Delran. System prices range from $74,800 to $180,000; deliveries are expected to begin within 90 days.


Sales of U.S. savings bonds slumped to $461 million in August, the lowest total since December 1985, the Treasury Department said. The August total means the government has sold $9.84 billion worth of bonds through the first 11 months of fiscal 1987, up 37 percent from a year ago. Americans cashed in $437 million worth of the bonds in August, the lowest total in two months.

Morlan International Inc., the Montgomery County operator of cemeteries and funeral homes, said that Safeguard Scientifics Inc. of King of Prussia converted its 40,000 shares of Morlan preferred stock into 1.2 million shares of Morlan common in advance of Morlan's previously announced buy-out by Service Corp. International of Houston. Morlan's board also set a Sept. 30 meeting for its shareholders to approve the $52.5 million merger.

Atlantic City Electric Co.'s first mortgage bonds and debenture ratings were lowered one notch by Fitch Investors Service. The downgrading resulted from the refusal of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to allow the company to pass on to ratepayers $22.4 million of the company's investment in the Hope Creek nuclear plant. Atlantic City Electric owns 5 percent of the plant, in Lower Alloways Township. Ratings on first mortgage bonds went from AA to A+. The debenture rating went from A+ to A. Other credit agencies lowered the company's ratings in March and April as a result of the BPU decision.

Pennwalt Corp. has begun negotiations for sale of its S.S. White Industrial Products division to Blue Tee Corp. of New York City. The Pennwalt unit, which is based in Piscataway, N.J., is the country's largest maker of flexible shafts for mechanical power transmissions. White's sales totaled $16 million last year.

Geriatric & Medical Centers Inc. said it expects a substantial decline in first-quarter earnings because of increased nursing and related costs. The Philadelphia company, which provides skilled and intermediate nursing services, said it would announce results for the Aug. 31 quarter in several weeks.

Federal Home Loan Bank Board chairman M. Danny Wall said his agency plans to sell up to $600 million of bonds yielding about 10.4 percent as the first part of a $10.8 billion recapitalization of the Federal Savings & Loan Insurance Corp. The first offering will begin Sept. 28, Wall said. The FSLIC, which has been declared technically insolvent, insures deposits in thrift institutions.

A federal judge in Newark, N.J., sentenced five former officers of Bevill Bresler & Schulman Inc., a bankrupt securities firm, to prison terms of up to eight years on charges of securities fraud. The Livingston, N.J., firm collapsed in April 1985 amid government allegations that it defrauded banks, thrift institutions and municipalities of $144 million.

The SEC took legal action against Allegheny International Inc. and three former executives, accusing them of abusing corporate jets and wine and not keeping proper corporate records between 1981 and 1985. Pittsburgh-based Allegheny and two of the former executives, Graemer K. Hilton and Clayton A. Sweeney, signed agreements in which they neither confirmed nor denied the SEC's claims but did agree to keep better records. The other executive, former Allegheny chairman and chief executive officer Robert J. Buckley of Sewickley, Pa., has not settled with the SEC, the agency said.

Bank of Japan Governor Satoshi Sumita said the central bank does not plan to follow the U.S. Federal Reserve Board in raising its official discount rate. Sumita told a news conference that the central bank's policy would remain unchanged despite the Fed decision last Friday to raise the rate it charges on loans to member banks to 6 percent annually. Japan's official discount rate now stands at a record low of 2.5 percent.

Attorneys for Kenner Parker Toys Inc. asked Massachusetts' highest court to uphold an injunction halting a $50-a-share, $570 million hostile takeover bid by New World Entertainment Ltd. of Los Angeles. The Supreme Judicial Court took Kenner's request under consideration after New World argued that the lower-court order infringes on its ability to actively pursue the nation's third-largest publicly traded toy company.

The Season Of Swing Is Starting Up Near You

Source: Posted: March 30, 1988

Although the dedicated player would regard them as wimps, the fact is that most golfers do not gladly suffer the chills of winter. Come November and December, they put away the clubs, sink into the recliner, tune the telly to the pros at Pebble Beach and set the alarm on the thermometer for spring.

Well, if you're one of those, here's a news flash. January and February are history, March is fading fast and we're talking April, bunky. Crocuses. Robins. Balmy breezes. Time to clean off the clubs, check the supply of X-Outs and begin preparing excuses for not going to the office.

The fair-weather golfer's golfing season is here.

True, some golfers play year round, but these are principally people of singular purpose and insensititivy to lower temperatures. Most of us are like the late Joe Louis and prefer temperate weather. As the boxing champ and lover of golf once said (more or less), "I usually shoot in the 80s. If it gets any warmer than that, I won't play."

In Burlington County, the operators of the public and private golf courses are girding for the annual onslaught by both the low-handicapper and Joe or Jane Average, the hackers who figure that breaking 100 gives them bragging rights in their foursome.

There are seven public golf courses and six private links in the county and many more on the periphery. Here is a capsule look at what the golfers will find in the way of changes or improvements at their courses:


Golden Pheasant Golf Club's hilly, rolling layout in Medford will have a new look.

Most of the traps are being reworked, according to owner Carmen Capri. In escaping the sand, so many golfers have sprayed so many granules onto the fringe between trap and green that grass can no longer survive there, Capri said. "We'll just dig it out and put new sod around those areas," he said.

Capri also said that underbrush in wooded areas has been cleaned out, which should make it easier to find errant balls. There are water hazards on about 10 holes.

The club men's championship will be contested in August. There is no women's competition.


Hanover Country Club in North Hanover, now 6,700 yards, is being lengthened by about 130 yards. Between 400 and 500 trees will be planted.

Because three holes are being lengthened, par is being increased a stroke, to 71. New tees, set farther back, are being constructed on holes 3, 6 and 8, adding 30 to 60 yards to each, and are expected to be in play by June.

Between 400 and 500 20-foot-tall evergreen trees will be planted on the borders between the fairways of the first, second and third holes, and between 8 and 9. The 5-foot trees there now will be transplanted elsewhere, said manager/pro Len Cesario.

"It's a good beginners' course," Cesario said, because "the rough is kept cut to 1 1/2 inches." The hills are gently rolling and not too severe. ''It's a longball hitter's paradise because you can open up on most holes without getting into any real trouble," Cesario said. From the green on 16 and the tee on 17, you get a panoramic view of all 135 acres of the course.

The statewide Public Golf Organization will hold its better ball tournament here in August, as it has for the last 17 years. Because the club is being sold this year and there will be no vested members, no club championship will be contested this year, Cesario said.

Indian Spring Golf Course at Old Marlton Pike and Elmwood Road in Marlton is busy, as you might expect of a municipally owned course. More than 51,000 rounds were played last year and the membership rolls are closed, according to pro Jim Alles.

An underground irrigation system is planned, but the lengthy public bidding process is holding it up. Alles said a driving range would be built near Old Marlton Pike, but no decision has been made on its exact location.

Alles has high hopes for the irrigation system and said the one installed several years ago at the former Iron Rock golf course, now Pennsauken Country Club, "does a tremendous job and I'm hoping it does one here, too."

About a dozen tournaments are scheduled, including the men's club championship in August. Ron Cusick of Marlton is defending titlist; there is no women's title event.

"This is a great course for the average player," Alles said. "You can hit into the other fairway and still hit a shot back. There's not a great deal of wooded area."

Ramblewood Country Club is one of those unusual courses with 27 holes. In keeping with its location on Country Club Parkway in bustling Mount Laurel, it does a big business, between 55,000 and 57,000 rounds a year according, to Nick Manari, the general manager and golf pro.

Golfers may play the course, divided into Red, White and Blue nines, in any sequence when it isn't crowded. Manari said they've let the rough grow a little the last few years to give the course a little more definition.

The men's locker room has just been renovated with new carpet, ceiling fans and a shoe service room. Facilities include three pools, two tennis courts and a driving range, not to mention daily breakfast and lunch open to the public.

John Mabry of Mount Laurel and Susan Manari, Nick's wife, are the club champions. The men's championship is scheduled for September/October, the women's in August.

Rancocas Country Club, like Lazarus, lives again, and the area's golfers are thankful because this Robert Trent Jones-designed course is one of the county's treasures, even if one judge once ruled it could be turned into a real estate development before a second judge ruled that argument was out of bounds.

Now being operated by an entrepreneur under a lease from bankruptcy court, the Willingboro course continues to attract a considerable clientele. Last year, about 20,000 rounds were played there.

Sixteen tournaments are scheduled at the semiprivate club this year, some only for members (200 last year). There is a Thursday evening 9-hole scramble open to all beginning at 6 p.m. with cart and greens fee at $15.

All 54 traps on the course are scheduled to get a transfusion of new white sand this spring.

The club championship is scheduled for July 16-17 in four flights. Bob Rolle of Willingboro is club champ. There was no women's championship contested last year.

Springfield Golf Center in Springfield is correcting an off-and-on flooding problem caused by several creeks that cut through the course and is installing underground drains to carry off excess surface water.

The perforated drains are being installed near the second and third holes, said John Young, course manager. Tees are being improved and flowers planted around them.

Among the 10 to 15 events scheduled this year is the Blind Golfers Association tournament April 18. Between 20 and 25 compete, with sighted course personnel adjusting their stance and describing the shot needed.

Club champions are William von Thaden of Florence and Helene Rush of Edgewater Park.

Willow Brook Country Club, located as it is on Bridgeboro Road and straddling the Moorestown-Delran Townships lines, is a busy course. Last year, about 42,000 rounds were played on this wide-open, well-trapped layout, said Ed Klumpp Jr., course manager.

No major changes are planned, just general maintenance, although the kitchen in the clubhouse is being remodeled.

The club championship will be contested in the fall, but no date has been set.

Michael "Mickey" O'Hara of Dartmouth Drive in Delran, the current club champion, carries a low handicap, generally shoots in the low 70s and has the kind of professional and golf life to which most lovers of the game aspire.

"I'm in data processing and computer operating and we run 12-hour operations three days a week so I have four days a week off," O'Hara said. ''I work Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and then I'm done from Wednesday through Sunday night. It fits my golf schedule," he said. "I play three or four days a week."

In suitable understatement, O'Hara, 26, says his job meets "my golf needs. I play other sports but that's my main interest. It's the only game I want to be playing."

He competes in many tournaments, he said, and went to Florida twice last winter to hone his game.

"I have an identical twin (Marty)," he said, and at Willow Brook "we play everybody. We're the dynamic duo."

There is no women's champion.


Burlington County Country Club in Westampton had a busy 1987 season. Its 350 members and guests played 55,000 rounds, and this year assistant pro Greg Farrow will be carrying the club's banner among the big boys.

Two weeks ago, the members held a tournament and raised $11,000 to allow Farrow to play on the PGA tour.

Farrow, 37, who lives on Lady Diana Circle in Marlton near the Links Golf Club, where he worked last year, went to Florida to compete in the pro tour school and was one of the 50 players in a field of 800 who got cards enabling them to compete on the PGA circuit.

When exempt players do not fill the 125-man fields for the weekly PGA tournament, invitations are extended to players such as Farrow in descending order of how they qualified in Florida, where he tied for 41st but drew a ranking of 45th after a matching of cards.

He has already played in Hawaii and San Diego and could have gone to Pebble Beach and the Honda Classic in Coral Springs, Fla., but elected not. He played the tour in 1984 and made the 36-hole cut in the Quad Cities Open. He said he hoped to try to play in 20 or 25 tournaments this year.

"I don't think I have any weaknesses," he said. "I'm kind of a 'Steady Eddy' player." He failed to make the cut in Hawaii or San Diego but said, ''Basically, I didn't expect to play that well early. My game doesn't come together until May or June."

The expenses in playing the tour run from $1,000 to $1,500 a week, and he and his wife, Maureen, have a young child.

"Let's hope I make some money," he said.

Dan Kirk of Edgewater Park and Jane O'Donnell of Maple Shade are titlists.

The 650 members of the Little Mill Country Club on Hopewell Road in Evesham may be losing a few more golf balls this year on the club's three nine-hole layouts, named Red, White and Blue.

"We have reconstructed and totally redesigned and rebuilt the first green on the White nine," said pro Ken Peyre-Ferry. "We thought it had been a little easy, so we moved the green right up to the edge of the lake that is beyond it." The green, formerly relatively flat, is now two-tiered and surrounded by bunkers and the front tier is higher than the back, so keeping shots from skidding into the lake will require a delicate touch.

More bad news is that a new pond has been installed paralleling the right side of the fairway on number one on the Red nine, and the addition of a new tee and another fairway bunker on the right side of number two Blue has effectively turned it from a straightaway hole into a dogleg.

Jeff Galis of Marlton and Sonia Stutchfield of Mickleton are club titlists.

Medford Lakes Country Club, on Oak Drive in Medford Lakes, with 450 members, will hold its club championships in August. Mark Walker and Barb Matta of Medford are the defending titlists.

As expected in the lakes region, there are water hazards on many holes, although one of the more "infamous" holes is the 12th, where a drive of 180 yards that splits the fairway will also catch the towering oak that stands in the middle.

The club's members played 22,000 rounds last year.

Medford Village Country Club opened in 1964 under the name Sunny Jim Golf Course, with a layout intended to mimic the famed Pine Valley (Camden County). It's flat, with a fair amount of water and a lot of sand, with small, bowl- shaped greens. It's tight with a lot of trees and only two holes without doglegs. The greens are well-bunkered.

Its 325 members played 25,000 rounds last year. The late Sam Cancellieri of Medford was men's champ last year, Lise Ronning of Cherry Hill, the women's titlist.

Moorestown Field Club, built in 1892, is one of the oldest courses in South Jersey and its 250 members play about 15,000 rounds a year over its unusual nine-hole layout. To vary play, golfers hit from different tees and several holes change par from 4 to 5 on the second go-round, according to pro Butch Schmehl.

A broad-based drainage system has just been installed over about half the course, which is short (6,000 yards) but has small, well-bunkered greens.

Rich Corbin and Manny Porter of Moorestown are club champions.

Riverton Country Club on Highland Avenue in Cinnaminson tried an experiment, covering three greens with sheets of a synthetic, porous material over the winter, and according to pro Fred Phillips, the covered greens "are three to four weeks ahead of the others" in condition, and next year the club may cover six greens on the Donald Ross-designed course, built in 1900.

There are 300 male golfing members and 180 female players and last year 26,000 rounds were played at the club.

Bob Arthur of Kings Grant and MaryAnn Hajduk of Medford hold the club titles.



Golden Pheasant Golf Club, Eayrestown Road, Medford. Telephone 267-4276. Length 6,200 yards, 18 holes, par 72. Course record 65. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $16; after 3 p.m. $11. Weekdays $11; after 3 p.m. $7. Riding carts $18 ($14 after 3 p.m.), pull carts $1.75.

Hanover Country Club, Hanover Country Club, Larrison Road, Jacobstown (North Hanover). Telephone 758-8301. Pro: Len Cesario. Length 6,700 yards, 18 holes, par 71. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $16; after 1 p.m. $12; after 4 p.m. $7. Weekdays $12; after 1 p.m. $10; after 4 p.m. $6. Seniors: weekdays $9; after 1 p.m. $7. Riding carts $26 for two, pull carts $1.50.

Indian Spring Golf Course, Old Marlton Pike and Elmwood Road, Marlton (Evesham). Telephone 983-0222. Pro: Jim Alles. Length 6,000 yards, 18 holes, par 71. Course record 63. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $12; $9 after 3. Weekdays, $9 and $7 after 3. Riding carts $15, pull carts $1. Membership rolls closed.

Ramblewood Country Club, Country Club Parkway, Mount Laurel. Telephone 235-2119. Pro: Nick Manari. Length about 6,400 yards depending on which 18 holes of the 27 holes are played. Par 36 on each nine. Course record 64. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $20; after 4 p.m. $9. Weekdays $16; after 4 p.m. $7. Senior citizens weekdays before 10 a.m. $15. Pull carts $2.50. Riding carts, weekends $20, weekdays $18. Riding carts only before noon on weekends.

Rancocas Country Club, Club House Drive, Willingboro. Telephone 871-8900. Teaching pro: Chuck Harvey. Length 6,190 yards, 18 holes, par 71. Course record 66. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $14; after 3 p.m. (EST) or 4 p.m. (DST) $12. Weekdays $12 and after 3 (EST) or 4 p.m. (DST), $9. Ladies' day is Tuesday, $8. Seniors (over 60), weekdays $8. Before 9 a.m., $15 for both cart and greens fees. Riding carts $20, pull carts $1.50.

Springfield Golf Center, Jacksonville-Mount Holly Road, Springfield. Telephone 267-8440. Visiting pro: Tom Smith. Length 5,696 yards, 18 holes, par 68. Course record 62. Open seven days a week. Also a par 3, 18-hole chip-and- putt course, a miniature course and a driving range.

Greens fees: Weekends $9; after 3 p.m. $7. Weekdays: $7; after 3 p.m. $5. Seniors $6; after 3 p.m. $5. Riding cart $14, pull cart $1. Clubs $5.

Willow Brook Country Club, Bridgeboro Road, Moorestown. Telephone 461-0131. Length, 6,609 yards, 18 holes, par 72. Course record 65. Open seven days a week.

Greens fees: Weekends $15.50; after 3 p.m, $8. Weekdays $11.50; after 3 p.m. $7. Riding carts $15 weekends, $13 weekdays. Riding carts required until 11 a.m. weekdays, until noon weekends. Pull carts $1.75. Seniors (age 62) Monday-Friday, greens fees and cart for two $26.

Burlington County Country Club, Burrs Road, Westampton. Telephone 267-1887. Pro: Michael Mack. Length 6,023 yards, 18 holes, par 70. Course record 61. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

Little Mill Country Club, Hopewell Road, Evesham. Telephone 767-0559. Pro: Ken Peyre-Ferry. Length: Red nine 3,108 and par 35; White 3,299 and par 36; Blue 3,153 and par 36. Course record 66. Open seven days a week.

Medford Lakes Country Club, Oak Drive, Medford Lakes. Telephone 654-5108. Pro: Joe Schlindwein. Length 6,103 yards, 18 holes, par 72. Course record 65. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

Medford Village Country Club, Golf View Drive, Medford. Telephone 654-7541. Pro: Leo DeGisi. Length, 6,650 yards, 18 holes, par 72. Course record 66. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

Moorestown Field Club, Chester Avenue, Moorestown. Telephone 235-1464. Pro: Butch Schmehl. Length 6,000 yards, 9 holes, par 72 (Golfers play from different tees on some holes on second time around). Course record 63. Open seven days a week.

Riverton Country Club, Highland Avenue, Cinnaminson. Telephone 829-1919. Pro: Fred Phillips. Length, 6,235 yards, 18 holes, par 71. Course record 62. Open Tuesday-Sunday.

Neighbors soon will begin publishing a weekly golf column featuring scores, performances and reports on selected tournaments. To submit information on tournaments or other events, mail details, including telephone number for information, at least two weeks in advance to: Golf Column, Neighbors, P.O. Box 546, Mount Holly, N.J. 08060.

The Best In Chinese Food? Feast Your Eyes On This List

Source: Posted: April 10, 1988

With Chinese restaurants sprouting like spring flowers throughout South Jersey, you have to move sprightly just to keep up with the ever-changing scene.

Indeed, some places change names and chefs faster than you can blink an eye: The restaurant in the Centrum Shopping Center in Cherry Hill has undergone four incarnations in the last six years.

The problem, the Chinese say, is that there are too many restaurants, too much competition that makes it difficult to make a living. With its sophisticated, upscale clientele, Cherry Hill is an unusually attractive target, although one restaurant owner laments his customers' quixotic loyalty as they rush to visit new places as soon as they open.

A bewildering variety of similar names add to the confusion. There is Hunan House, the New Hunan Inn and Hunan Garden, and the Peking Mandarin has nothing to do with the Peking Duck House. Then there is the Szechuan King in Delran, which is not related to the old Szechuan Flower in nearby Cinnaminson that spawned two separate restaurants - Chef Wang's Szechuan Wok and Bo's Wok. See what I mean?

The very best have a common denominator: At one time or another, at least one key person worked at Uncle Lui's Peking Mandarin in Cherry Hill; indeed, many restaurants offer dishes patterned closely if not precisely after Uncle Lui's subtle wine-touched culinary masterpieces.

What follows is one man's opinion of the best Chinese restaurants in South Jersey, ranked in order of preference. If one strikes your fancy, you had better move quickly, given the history of turnover in Chinese restaurants.

Even after 10 years, Uncle Lui's Peking Mandarin, Route 70, Cherry Hill (665-7559), is still the best; as it did at its original site in Runnemede, the opulent Peking Mandarin boasts exquisite sauces gently touched with wine and sugar that bring out the natural flavors of Uncle Lui's imaginative cuisine.

Seafood hot-and-sour soup, for instance, is a rich, delicately balanced broth chockablock with shrimp, deep-sea scallops, king crabmeat, bean curd, scallions, mushrooms, mu-er (the so-called "tree ear" mushrooms), bamboo and egg. Wafer-thin curls of pheasant stir-fried with snow peas, bamboo, scallions and red bell pepper and bathed in a tangy rice wine-based sauce redolent of ginger and soy is a sumptuous appetizer.

Mongolian beef, a wonderful dish that has remained a favorite all these years, offers thin strips of incredibly tender beef with scallions and snow peas in a hoisin-based sauce. For dessert, caramelized bananas or pineapple dipped in batter and fried in honey and sugar are the best around.

Running a close second is the nearby Rich Taste, 760 Cuthbert Blvd., Cherry Hill (662-1005), a super-elegant dining room run by Peter Young and chef Jan Hun Chi; both once worked for Uncle Lui.

The restaurant's gorgeous contemporary decor is a riot of bold colors - purple tablecloths, pastel green and pink napkins, colored Chinese fans and parasols painted with birds and flowers, large potted trees and giant fish tanks with brightly colored fish.

The cuisine is memorable. My favorite appetizer is a dozen littleneck clams so delicate you can almost inhale them, bathed in a remarkable, slightly spicy black-bean sauce and elegantly served in a beautiful scallop-shaped white porcelain bowl. Sesame noodles, another outstanding dish, presents soft pasta with crunchy little cucumber matchsticks sprinkled with chopped scallions and coated with a gossamer sesame sauce.

Amazing Chicken, aptly named, is stir-fried chicken, red bell peppers, water chestnuts, fresh mushrooms, snow peas and baby corn in a spicy-hot brown sauce redolent of garlic and fresh ginger that will leave your palate tingling in ecstasy.

Volcano ice cream, a non-Chinese dessert, offers twin scoops of frozen ice cream rolled in cornflakes and raisins, then flamed in rum and finished with canned whipped cream and a maraschino cherry.

Bo's Wok, Route 130, Cinnaminson (829-6622), is a direct spinoff from the old Szechuan Flower at the nearby Cinnaminson Mall, the first of the many excellent Chinese restaurants to open in South Jersey; manager Bo F. Ho and chef Chung-shin Shen both worked there.

The restaurant is in the forefront of health-consciousness: Elegant sauces are made with a minimum of sugar and, on request, dishes are prepared with low-salt content. Nonetheless, dishes are notable for their balanced, delicately flavored sauces that dare to be daring with spiciness.

Champagne chicken, the dish that put the old Szechuan Flower on the culinary map, is strips of silk-smooth chicken, water chestnuts, snow pea pods, scallions and mu-er in an incomparable white wine sauce.

With shrimp with barbecue sauce, a sophisticated Shanghai dish that is far better than the name implies, the shrimp are coated with a fiery, full-bodied sauce made in Taiwan and stir-fried with straw mushrooms, red bell pepper, snow peas and broccoli.

Sesame pears is a spectacular dessert of slices of fresh pears dipped in a light batter, then fried to a golden finish and dusted with powdered sesame, sugar and nutmeg.

Chef Wang's Szechuan Wok, 1536 N. Kings Highway, Cherry Hill (429-4948), is run by the original chef at the old Szechuan Flower, a master craftsman who excels at the remarkable two-level sauces that are the best of Chinese cuisine.

Szechuan wonton, for instance, is pork-filled dumplings bathed in a remarkable, slightly spicy dark soy sauce hinting of peanut butter, sesame paste and sesame oil. Mandarin pasta, nearly as good, is soft spaghetti with ground pork and little crunches of water chestnuts in a tangy soy-vinegar sauce.

Tung Ting shrimp, accurately described on the menu as "a perfect symphony of textures," is shrimp marinated in wine and egg, then sauteed with carrots, broccoli and tiny pieces of ham for extra flavor. Sesame bananas, one of the region's best versions, is sprinkled with ground sesame and sugar.

In addition to offering tantalizing menu dishes, Joe's Peking Duck House, the pink-bright restaurant in the Marlton Crossing shopping center, Route 73, Marlton (985-1551), is the only place with a special menu of dim sum, bite- sized appetizers of infinite variety. Indeed, you can make a wonderful meal by sampling delicacies such as a lotus leaf filled with duck, chicken, pork and sticky rice, or a steamed bun as soft as a cloud, filled with tangy barbecued pork.

Crystal dumplings, the best dish, is ground pork and scallion in a translucent, wheat flour-based wrapper; squares of fried daikon, the Chinese turnip, revel in hints of ham and dried shrimp, while a delicate filigree of taro threads holds a rich filling of chicken, pork, shrimp and scallions flavored with Five Seasons spices and coriander.

As one would expect from the restaurant's name, the Peking duck (available without advance order) is very good - rich meat wrapped in oversized pancakes brushed with light hoisin red-bean paste for the first course, then stir-fried with vegetables for the second.

Soups also are good: Shredded pork with strips of spicy-hot turnip and a farmer's basket of vegetables is nicely scented with sesame oil, while seaweed with bean curd and pork is rich with scallions, radish, mushrooms and egg.

Dynasty in the K mart shopping center, Route 38 and Lenola Road, across from the Moorestown Mall (866-1771), is a pretty spot with very good food. Pink tablecloths and maroon napkins brighten the room, decorated with framed flower watercolors, lots of hanging plants and gorgeous pierced teakwood Chinese screens.

Wintermelon soup thick with diced scallops, shrimp, pork and chicken is sprinkled with green peas and drizzled with egg - a seldom-found treat; cold noodles in a modestly spicy sesame sauce pick up welcome crunch from strips of peeled cucumber.

Chinese surf and turf, an excellent dish, is strips of marvelously tender beef and perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp stir-fried with nearly a dozen vegetables, bathed in a rich black-bean sauce and garnished with delicate pink azaleas carved from a turnip.

With its sunny decor, the Szechuan King, Route 130, Delran (764-0199), is exceptionally beautiful.

Bold yellow-and-green print tablecloths and bouquets in pretty little cloisonne vases brighten tables set with solid rosewood Oriental chairs with gold cushions. Lacy floor-to-ceiling sheers with intricate cutwork and fringed valances frame large picture windows, while carved dragon and phoenix ceiling panels are burnished in gilt.

The food is just as elegant as the setting. The house special soup is a peppery chicken broth scented with sesame oil and chockablock with half the kitchen larder, while crispy orange beef offers tender slices of seasoned beef rolled in lotus flour and stir-fried with chili peppers and orange peels in a sweetened red chili sauce. Shrimp in black-bean sauce is just as tasty.

Fried sesame bananas are special - chunks of fruit dipped in batter, then deep-fried and sprinkled with sugar, ground sesame and finely chopped peanuts for added crunch.

Although easily overlooked as you whiz around the Race Track Circle, the tiny Hunan House, Route 70, Cherry Hill (488-1488), deserves attention.

Indeed, tangy hot-and-sour soup thick with bean curd, bamboo, mu-er, pork, egg and chopped scallions is the region's very best; it's well-balanced spiciness will leave your lips tingling.

Cold noodles with sesame sauce is spicy-hot with tahini and peanut butter, stunningly decorated with thin strips of crunchy snow peas. Shrimp and pork Hunan-style is a dozen shrimp in spicy red sauce on half the platter, strips of melt-in-your-mouth pork in a wonderful black-bean sauce on the other side.

Sesame apples or bananas are delightful desserts.

The spanking-clean restaurant is brightened with fire engine-red booths and white tablecloths and napkins; free delivery is offered to any place in Cherry Hill, Haddonfield or Pennsauken.

Even with three owners in the last five years, Mandarin Garden II in the Pine Tree Plaza, Route 70, Cherry Hill (795-5755), has maintained a high level of culinary accomplishment.

Beautiful wallpaper flocked with red Chinese symbols for longevity, wealth, luck and happiness is framed with a bright red band with a mirrorlike center strip that encircles the room; giant murals - one a country scene, the other an elaborate imperial banquet - grace the walls, while temple lanterns decorate the ceiling.

Fried dumplings in a fiery dipping sauce flecked with red pepper, and cold sesame noodles sprinkled with chopped scallions and snowy-white with sesame seeds make excellent appetizers.

An extraordinary blackboard special one day offered small, fork-tender brussels sprouts, marinated beef, baby corn, scallions and snow peas in a light, sweetened brown sauce. Peking duck is available without advance order.

The New Hunan Inn in the Laurel Hill Plaza, Blackwood-Clementon Road, Clementon (784-7711), is a dependable, satisfying place run by Mark Hui, formerly of the Peking Mandarin.

Chinese pizza - layers of soft dough flecked with scallions and fried in oil - is a good appetizer, while sun-shein wor pa soup, chicken broth thick with whole shrimp, pork and julienned carrots and snow peas, is memorable with the nutty flavor of deep-fried rice.

Seafood dishes are a good bet. A whole sea bass purchased from a retail store a few doors away just moments after the order was placed was deep-fried and bathed in a delicately balanced sauce fragrant with ginger, sherry, sesame, garlic, hoisin and peppers.

The Oriental Inn in the Rickels shopping center, White Horse Pike, Lawnside (546-8888), has been around 10 years, a long time for a Chinese restaurant, but the quality of food has remained high.

Peppery shredded pork and pickled cabbage soup will spark your palate, as will Silver Dollar chicken - little squiggles of chicken with slivers of red- roasted pork, carrots, green beans, red bell peppers and black mushrooms in a fragrant sauce.

Peking duck, available without advance order, is a beautiful, golden bird with crisp honey skin and rich meat sliced at the table and wrapped in soft pancakes. As a bonus, you can take the carcass home and make your own duck soup the next day.

Also in the "senior citizen" ranks is Full Ho, Ironstone Village shopping center, Stokes Road, Medford (953-1930), another Peking Mandarin spinoff.

Superb appetizers include steamed dumplings, crisp spring roll and soft, scallion-filled Chinese pizza. Tasty main dishes include Full Ho Special - deep-sea scallops, shrimp, beef and a half-dozen vegetables in a light brown sauce - and Grandfather Chicken - tender meat sauteed in honey with red chili peppers.

Honeyed strawberries dipped in batter, then plunged into ice water, are wonderful.

The Empress of China, Route 70, Cherry Hill (424-4223), is another good place for Peking duck served in two courses. The first is the traditional carving at the table and wrapping the most meat with scallions in oversized pancakes touched with a special sauce made of red-bean paste, sesame, sugar and - of all things - ketchup.

The chef then will use the carcass to make a flavor-rich duck soup filled with cellophane noodles, black mushrooms and Chinese cabbage.

Peppery hot-and-sour soup is filled with pork strips, "golden needles" (tiger lily buds), bean curd, scallions, egg, threads of bamboo and carrot, mu-er, and mushrooms.

With its gray-and-plum decor, blond wood tables, mirrored walls and hanging plants, China Star II, Route 541 and Holly Lane, Mount Holly (261-8585), looks more like the very latest in Philadelphia restaurant decor than a traditional Chinese restaurant.

Hot-and-sour soup, fried dumplings and steamed dim sum are tasty, but the most memorable dish is King of the Sea - a mountain of lobster, shrimp, scallops, king crab and vegetables that combines the best of chicken, pork and shrimp with vegetables in a spicy red pepper sauce.

The unassuming 4 Seasons in the Crossroads Plaza, Route 38 and Church Road, Cherry Hill (482-1228), has much to offer, notably the house special soup filled with everything from chicken, whole shrimp and red-roasted pork to carrots, snow peas, bamboo shoots, bok choy, mushrooms, water chestnuts - even soft wonton wrappers stuffed with ground pork.

Hot-and-sour soup is wonderfully tangy, while shrimp dim sum and fried dumplings in transparent flour wrappings so delicate they melt in your mouth are unusually appealing. Hunan shrimp is a dozen jumbo shrimp tossed with a colorful variety of vegetables in a rich black-bean sauce.

In Berlin, Chinatown on the White Horse Pike (768-8540) is a bright, airy place flooded with sunshine from big picture windows on three sides.

Cold sesame noodles colorfully sprinkled with carrots, scallions, crunchy bean sprouts and strips of snow pea pods is a good appetizer, while chicken with fresh asparagus, a seasonal treat, is buttery chicken with crunchy asparagus, water chestnuts and carrots in a pleasant chili sauce.

The restful gray-and-burgundy color scheme of the Wing Wah, Route 73, Marlton (983-1211), highlights a pleasant restaurant where the best dishes are tangy hot-and-sour soup and fried dumplings shaped like a Roman soldier's helmet sprinkled with wafer-thin scallions and served with a fiery soy dipping sauce.

Lobster Peking style joins fresh lobster with a variety of vegetables in a slightly peppery brown sauce, although the Hunan dish Grandfather's Chicken - honey-coated chicken sauteed with red chili peppers - is better.


Here are the best Chinese restaurants in South Jersey, in order of John Bull's preference:

1. Uncle Lui's Peking Mandarin, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

2. Rich Taste, 760 Cuthbert Blvd., Cherry Hill.

3. Bo's Wok, Route 130, Cinnaminson.

4. Chef Wang's Szechuan Wok, 1536 N. Kings Highway, Cherry Hill.

5. Joe's Peking Duck House, Marlton Crossing shopping center, Marlton.

6. Dynasty, Route 38 & Lenola Road, Moorestown.

7. Szechuan King, 3025 Route 130, Delran.

8. Hunan House, Race Track Circle, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

9. Mandarin Garden II, Pine Tree Plaza, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

10. New Hunan Inn, Laurel Hill Plaza, Blackwood-Clementon Road, Clementon.

11. Oriental Inn, 200 White Horse Pike, Lawnside.

12. Full Ho, Ironstone Village shopping center, Stokes Road, Medford.

13. Empress of China, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

14. China Star II, Route 541 and Holly Lane, Mount Holly.

15. 4 Seasons, Crossroads Plaza, Route 38 and Church Road, Cherry Hill.

16. Chinatown, 229 S. White Horse Pike, Berlin.

17. Wing Wah, Route 73, Marlton.

Here are some of John Bull's favorite dishes in South Jersey's Chinese restaurants:


Hot-and-sour, Hunan House, Race Track Circle, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

Seafood hot-and-sour, Uncle Lui's Peking Mandarin, Route 70, Cherry Hill.

Wintermelon, Dynasty, Route 38 and Lenola Road, Moorestown.


Clams in black-bean sauce, Rich Taste, 760 Cuthbert Blvd., Cherry Hill.

Sauteed pheasant, Peking Mandarin.

Szechuan wonton, Chef Wang's Szechuan Wok, 1536 N. Kings Highway, Cherry Hill.

Dim sum, Joe's Peking Duck House, Route 73, Marlton.

Cold sesame noodles, Hunan House.


Amazing Chicken, Rich Taste.

Champagne chicken, barbecued shrimp, Bo's Wok, Route 130, Cinnaminson.

Orange beef, Szechuan King, Route 130, Delran.

Mongolian beef, Peking Mandarin.


Oriental Inn, White Horse Pike, Lawnside.

Empress of China, Route 70, Cherry Hill.


Fried sesame bananas, Szechuan King.

Caramelized fruit, Peking Mandarin.

Sesame pears, Bo's Wok.

Fans: A Saturday To Remember

Source: Posted: May 20, 1988

Wrestling fans can spend an entire day enjoying their sport tomorrow.

The gala wrestling day begins at 9:30 at the Airport Quality Inn with a breakfast buffet with Johnny V, former manager in the World Wrestling Federation. The event, which runs until noon, is sponsored by the Squared Circle Fan Club. Cost: $20 for members, $22 for non-members.

Then, from 1 to 3 p.m., former wrestler/manager Captain Lou Albano and WDVT (AM/900) "Rasslin' Radio" talk show co-hosts Carmela Panfil and Joel Goodhart will visit The Comic Relief, a comic book shop at Mill Run Plaza, Route 130, Delran, N.J. The appearance is to raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, with 25 percent of back-issue comic book sales earmarked for donation. Albano, national MS Society chairman, will sign and sell (for $2) copies of The Honeymooners #7, a current comic in which Albano teaches Jackie Gleason's character, Ralph Kramden, how to wrestle. Info: 609-461-1770.

At 8 p.m., the focus moves to the Spectrum, where World Wrestling Federation stars Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Andre the Giant will battle, David- and-Goliath-style, in the main event. Andre and his manager, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, are out to avenge a recent defeat by Duggan, who used his trademark 2-by-4 to topple his 7-foot-4, 500-pound opponent on national television.

Also on the card: Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Ravishing" Rick Rude (who have been feuding ever since Rude insulted Roberts' wife and then defeated Roberts); Koko B. Ware and The British Bulldogs vs. Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and The Islanders in a six-man tag-team match; "The Rock" Don Muraco vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine; The Young Stallions vs. The Rougeau Brothers; and Bret "The Hitman" Hart vs. Bad News Brown.

Tickets, $9, $11 and $13, are on sale at the Spectrum box office and all Ticketron locations, including Showcase stores in the Delaware Valley. Tickets also can be charged by phone by calling Teletron at 1-800-233-4050.

The High Cost Of Nonpayment

Source: Posted: June 08, 1988

Ferdinand Scully was taught a valuable lesson in timely payment of his bills when he read in a local newspaper that items he had been keeping at a storage rental facility were going to be auctioned off to the public.

"I couldn't believe they were going to sell my stuff," said Scully, who has since paid his overdue rental fees, narrowly avoiding the loss of his box spring, mattress, file cabinet, two fishing poles and other items kept at the Public Storage Rental Spaces in Delran.

And unless the other 11 delinquent renters pay their overdue fees, all items from their storage garages will be auctioned at 11 a.m. Monday at the facility in the 4000 block of South Route 130 in Delran.

Contents of some of the spaces include televisions, stereo and video equipment, furniture, beds, matresses, lamps, sporting equipment, a washer, a dryer, a motorcycle and many other items.

"You should hear some of the ungodly stories we hear," said the area manager of the facility, who asked not to be named. He said he received many ''dog ate my homework stories" from people who owe money.

"But we bend over quite a bit backward to help people," he said. "We're not out to hurt anyone, we're just trying to run a business."

The manager said he gave renters at least 60 days to pay their bills. They have until the day of the auction to do so. Renters pay between $35 and $75 monthly for the spaces, depending on size and location, he said.

But Scully, of Willingboro, had no sob stories to blame his delinquency on - he just forgot.

Scully said he began storing his items at Public Storage in January but fell two months behind in his $54-a-month payments. In addition to the payments, he had to pay a $10-a-month late charge.

Scully said he disagreed not only with the company's right to sell the property, but especially the placement of renters' names in the paper.

According to the manager, state law allows him to auction the private property after 30 days of delinquency and after adequate notice has been given to the renter.

"We try to work terms out with them. We just want the space back," he said. "We're not out to hurt anyone, we're just trying to run a business."

The manager said if the amount of money received from auctioning the storage items exceeds the amount owed to the company, the remainder is given to the renter.

But the manager issues a few warnings to those expecting to find bargains at the auction: items will not be sold individually, bidders must bid on the entire contents of each space; everything must be paid for in cash; there are no guarantees; and there is a $100 deposit on each sale of the contents of a space.

"They have to clean out the space completely, then they get the $100 back," he said.

Storage Garage Auction Is A Gamble

Source: Posted: June 15, 1988

One woman said she came because "it beats playing the slots in Atlantic City." One man said, "I do it mainly as a hobby."

The man paid $55 and the woman paid $800. But they won't know exactly what they paid for until they get their truckloads of bags, boxes, furniture and other goodies home.

On Monday, these two, along with about 25 others, bid on the contents of four public storage garages that were auctioned off to the public because the owners of the contents did not pay their storage rental fees.

The contents of 11 storage garages at the Public Storage Rental Spaces on Route 130 in Delran were scheduled to be auctioned Monday at 11 a.m. But that morning, seven of the delinquent renters paid their overdue monthly fees - some dating back to December, said the manager of the facility, who asked not to be named.

A bidder, Ray Carugno, a mechanic from Florence, said he has been attending auctions like this throughout South Jersey for about eight years.

He keeps only a few of the items he buys "for personal use," and sells the rest at flea markets.

Buyers bid on the entire contents of the garages, not just specific items. They paid cash and had to clean out the whole garage before a $100 deposit, put down when their bid was accepted, was returned.

"That's the whole purpose of this, we just want the space back," said the manager.

Renters of the four garages had not paid rent for at least four months and had ignored repeated telephone calls and certified letters, he said.

Ronny Watkins, who owns a used furniture store in Palmyra, said he finds many good pieces, which he resells.

But the auction is a gamble, he said.

"Remember, you don't dig through those boxes. You buy them as is," the manager repeatedly barked to prospective bidders.

"Sometimes you spend a couple hundred dollars and you get nothing. Other times you spend 50 bucks and get some good items," said Watkins.

The four garages were piled to the ceiling with furniture, mattresses, bags, boxes, sporting equipment and old appliances.

One garage contained a motorcycle, an old pinball machine and a washer and dryer. The owner had not paid his bill since January and was notified about 30 times that his property was going to be sold, said the manager. It was sold for $800.

The contents of the other three garages were sold for $175, $55 and $5.

"But I don't understand some of these people," said the manager, who conducted the bidding. "I'll look at a space that I think is worth $600 to $700 and it'll go for $50. Then another one will look like junk. And it'll go for $500."

"And if we can't sell it, we junk it or give it to Good Will," he said.

Auto Service Center Plans Questioned By Officials

Source: Posted: June 29, 1988

Plans for part of a one-stop automotive service center on Route 130 met with resistance from Delran planning officials Thursday, who questioned the safety of traffic moving in the parking lot.

Traffic moving on and off southbound Route 130, where the proposed building will be located, would criss-cross, creating the potential for accidents, said board Chairman Joseph Otto.

The plans, developed by George Yelland & Associates, would create a 10,000- square-foot center on southbound Route 130 in Delran. The 2.43-acre site would be part of an auto service complex.

Under the current plans, cars entering the center from Route 130 would drive around to the front of the building, into drive-through service bays. As drivers pull out from the rear of the building, they must pass through the line of incoming cars, a situation which planning board officials called unsafe.

In addition, two new curb-cuts onto Route 130 would be required, which might disturb traffic flow.

With the new cuts, there would be six places with accelerating or decelerating traffic on a half-mile stretch of Route 130, which could lead to additional accidents, Mayor Richard Knight said.

"I don't believe that's safe," Knight said, "and I don't believe the Department of Transportation will approve it."

The proposed center would hold four independent shops: Duration Lube, Amoco Transmission, Bargain Brakes & Muffler and either a glass shop or a detail shop, said Nestor Sanchez, Yelland's project manager.

These shops would join a body shop, a self-service carwash, a rent-a-car business and Yelland's offices, which have been approved for the complex.

The auto complex is part of a 120-acre industrial park on the Delran and Cinnaminson border, which Yelland is developing.

Cakes From Mother's Kitchen A Business Is Built On Top Ingredients - And A Family's Devotion.

Source: Posted: July 03, 1988

It's the spartan design of Kathryn Nicolosi's office that creates the chic imagery. The few pieces positioned here and there stand out like a few pearls thoughtfully arranged against black.

Nicolosi, 48, could be the head of a modeling agency. The effect of her perfectly coiffed hair is balanced by dangling gold earrings that move ever so slightly when she speaks. Her fine jewelry is understated. As she swivels behind her hand-carved, rosewood desk to reach for the phone, sunlight is captured on mauve-painted nails.

After a brief conversation, Nicolosi rises to begin a tour of her facility. She dons a white, knee-length, wraparound jacket and suddenly is transformed from fashion czarina into a high-tech quality-control engineer.

The truth of the matter is that Nicolosi is neither fashion consultant nor scientist. She is president of Mother's Kitchen - where the high fashion is cheesecakes and the quality control is reflected in top-of-the-line gourmet baked products.

Mother's Kitchen was begun in 1970 as a small family operation. Despite its growth, it continues to be family-run.

More than 7,000 cakes are trucked out each week, emphasizing a success story that had modest beginnings.

You could be dining in a restaurant in Japan and eat a Nicolosi cheesecake. Mother's Kitchen products are shipped to England, Canada, even Haiti. You may, of course, have bitten into one somewhere in the Philadelphia area or bought one in a local supermarket.

So what makes these cakes so good?

Quality, says Nicolosi. Which, she adds, also is the key to the growth of Mother's Kitchen. "Our cheesecakes are all cream," she says. "No additives, no preservatives, no artificial flavorings. And they are kosher."

For the last three years, Mother's Kitchen has been set up in a small industrial park in Burlington City, just south of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. A walk through the production area substantiates Nicolosi's remark about quality: sweet, creamy aromas of cream cheese (Kraft's Philadelphia) and sour cream (Penn Maid) tantalize the senses.

The place is spotless, and Nicolosi makes it a point to keep it that way with what amounts to an almost constant ritualistic cleaning. "Just like at home," she says, "we clean up as we bake."

Mother's Kitchen is the outgrowth of a small bakery started in the 1950s by her husband, Alfred, who died in 1986.

"It was called Nicolosi's Wedding and Party Cakes and was on Marlton Pike in Pennsauken," she said.

Actually, she said, the family's entry into the baking business can be traced to her husband's father, who ran a bakery on South Broad Street in Philadelphia. "My father-in-law, also Alfred Nicolosi, was also the pastry chef for Old Original Bookbinder's, and at the Warwick. So my husband grew up in the bakery business. He eventually became the pastry chef at Bookbinder's after his father left."

Alfred Jr. worked at the restaurant for less than two years before going out on his own to open the Pennsauken bakery that drew attention for its Italian wedding cakes. But Alfred Jr. had more on his mind than wedding cakes.

"My husband always had this fetish for cheesecakes, so I operated the bakery in Pennsauken, and he opened a small cheesecake operation in Burlington" in the mid-'60s, Nicolosi said.


The cheesecakes sold well, and the wedding-and-party-cake business in Pennsauken was humming. So a few years later, the Nicolosis did the logical thing - they joined forces by opening Mother's Kitchen in Delran and produced her husband's "perfect" cheesecakes, along with Danish pastry.

Why the obsession with cheesecakes? Nicolosi simply smiled and shrugged. ''There's no particular reason I can put my finger on," she said. "He just spent time searching for the perfect cheesecake, and from the very beginning, everything was baked with love." (Loads of calories, too, even though Marie D'Elena, who heads up the retail shop in the front of the current plant in Burlington City, has been known to promise customers that all the ''calories are thrown out the window.")

The plant in Delran employed 75 people and shipped cheesecakes and other baked goods around the world. In 1984, the Nicolosis moved to their present facility in Burlington Commerce Square.

Just before her husband's death, work began on a new line of gourmet products. When his wife took over, she introduced gourmet cakes and specialty pies.


Today, the cheesecakes are complemented by the likes of an Italian zuccotta supreme, Mandarin orange bombe, a truffle of dark chocolate touched with Dutch chocolate liqueur, a delicately layered strawberry gateau, a banana walnut torte and deep-dish Key lime pie.

The retail prices are low. Cheesecakes weighing 4 1/4 pounds sell for $8 to $10.

Nicolosi says that much of the new line is the work of Fred A. Nydegger, her executive pastry chef and manager. Nydegger was trained in his native Switzerland, apprenticed in Bern and Lucerne, and was the pastry chef in several of Switzerland's tearooms and hotels.

Nydegger has been with Mother's Kitchen for two years, and, like Nicolosi, stresses that a good baked product depends on quality ingredients.

"Mrs. Nicolosi puts emphasis on buying nothing but the finest ingredients," he said. And "having good people. People who are interested and concerned in what they are doing."

Nicolosi's accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Recently, she was one of seven New Jersey residents honored by Gov. Kean as best exemplifying business in the Garden State. President Reagan lauded her during a visit to the state in October.

Expansion of Mother's Kitchen continues, but it remains in the family. A retail shop, which opened last year in Berlin, Camden County, is operated by her son-in-law, Michael Boltz, who is married to daughter Lisa, 21, a recent graduate of Philadelphia's Restaurant School. Lisa will be working in Burlington as a pastry chef.

Daughter Kathy, 23, is running a retail shop for Mother's Kitchen products that opened about a year ago at 1842 E. Passyunk Ave. in South Philadelphia.

Nicolosi's son, Alfred 3d, 16, is working this summer at Burlington as a pastry chef and plans to join the family business as a lawyer. Another daughter, Laurie, 19, is studying psychology.

"She has no interest whatsoever in the business," Nicolosi said with a laugh.

Route 130 Complex Is Rejected

Source: Posted: August 03, 1988

The Delran Planning Board has rejected a proposal for a one-stop automotive center on Route 130, according to board Chairman Joseph Otto.

The board split its vote, 2-2 with two abstentions Thursday, effectively denying plans for the 10,000-square-foot complex proposed by George Yelland & Associates.

At last month's meeting, the board said that traffic moving on and off Route 130 might be a potential hazard. The developer altered the plans so that traffic could exit only onto Carriage Lane, Otto said during a telephone interview Friday.

Nestor Sanchez, the center's project manager, said that the developer had not yet decided how to respond to the proposal's defeat.

According to township regulations, the developer can either revise and resubmit the plans to the Planning Board or the decision can be appealed to the Township Committee.

The proposed building would hold four automobile service shops - Duration Lube, Aamco Transmissions, Bargain Brakes & Muffler and one that had not yet been determined.

It is part of a 120-acre industrial park on the Delran and Cinnaminson border that Yelland & Associates is developing. The site already includes an auto body shop, a self-service carwash, a rent-a-car business and the developer's offices.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the site plan from Zee Partners of Delran for a 21,000-square-foot retail development along Route 130, Otto said.

Delran Oks 3d Swedes Run Building

Source: Posted: August 31, 1988

The Delran Planning Board approved plans for a 49,500-square-foot warehouse Thursday night, which would be the third building in the Swedes Run Business Center being developed by Rouse & Associates.

The center - on Delran Parkway near Route 130 - will eventually include 11 buildings.

In another vote, the board denied permission to build an eight-foot fence around the two warehouses in the center, which have been leased to Sears Roebuck & Co.

Zoning laws allow fences as high as six feet, but Sears sought the taller height to provide extra security, said Richard Smith, project manager for Rouse.

Board members said the higher fence would make the area less attractive.

In other business, White Castle Systems Inc. sought approval for an all- night restaurant at the Millside Shopping Center on Route 130.

The board delayed the hearing to Sept. 22, giving White Castle an opportunity to change the traffic flow within the shopping center. Richard Decou of Moorestown, an attorney for the Esquire Liquor Shop, said the current plans blocked one of the entrances to the liquor store.

White Castle owns and operates more than 200 restaurants in the Midwest, South and East Coast, said William Mutschler, the Philadelphia area manager. The chain features small 36-cent hamburgers.

The first restaurant in the Philadelphia area will open in Willow Grove, Pa., this fall.

Wal-mart Plans A Bid For Phila.'s Attention

Source: Posted: April 18, 1989

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., a powerhouse of a retailer hailing from Bentonville, Ark., is hoping to make its debut in the greater Philadelphia area by early next year with its Sam's Wholesale Clubs.

The clubs, named for Wal-Mart chairman Sam Walton, are similar in format and concept to BJ's Wholesale Clubs and Makro stores in that they sell bulk merchandise to members in spartan surroundings.

Meanwhile, yet another wholesale-club operator, Pace Membership Warehouse Inc., is planning stores near the Willow Grove Park and Oxford Valley Malls. The stores are to open by the end of 1989.

While Wal-Mart has yet to comment publicly on its plans for the Philadelphia area, executives of the firm told securities analysts during a February meeting that they had lined up locations in Delran and Atlantic City, according to Linda Morris, an analyst with Provident National Bank.

"We got the sense (at the meeting) that they hoped to have the stores open in Delran and Atlantic City by the end of 1989," Morris said. "And I would imagine that it would not be worth their while to have just a few locations in the Philadelphia market. I'm sure they're looking for more."

The Delran site, on Route 130, is a 125,000-square-foot building that has been vacant since 1982, when a Jefferson Ward store there closed. Wal-Mart has been negotiating for the site for several months with the landlord, Vornado Inc., but has yet to complete a lease, according to real estate brokers.

Jay M. Plasky, a senior vice president with KoDe Development Inc., a Philadelphia shopping-center developer, said Wal-Mart also was known to be scouting locations in Allentown, York, Harrisburg and Reading.

He said that Wal-Mart was expected first to open Sam's Wholesale Clubs and then, once the company is familiar with the market, open its standard-format Wal-Mart discount stores.

"Wal-Mart tends to operate that way. They open Sam's . . . and once they get the trucks coming into an area, it's like they bring in the Marines," Plasky said.

Wal-Mart, with annual sales of nearly $21 billion, is the third-largest retailer in the United States, behind Sears, Roebuck & Co. and K mart Corp.

Although its stores are clustered in the South and Midwest, Wal-Mart has started to move up the East Coast through a recently opened distribution center in South Carolina. Currently, the closest Wal-Mart stores to the Philadelphia area are in Virginia.

In the fast-proliferating wholesale-club industry, Wal-Mart has been one of the most aggressive retailers since 1983, when it unveiled the prototype of Sam's Wholesale Clubs. There are now 106 of them.

While some of the competing wholesale clubs, despite their names, cater to a largely retail clientele, the Sam's Wholesale Clubs are designed to appeal to small businesses such as caterers and restaurants. The Sam's Wholesale Clubs ring up annual sales of about $34 million each.

A number of wholesale-club operators have moved into the Philadelphia market since 1986. BJ's Wholesale Clubs, a division of Zayre Corp., has stores in Maple Shade and Northeast Philadelphia. Net Cost Club, a locally owned wholesale club, is in Montgomeryville.

The oldest wholesale club in the area is Makro, which opened in Langhorne in 1981. Since then, K mart has purchased a 51 percent interest in Makro from its Dutch owners, and there are plans for the club to add locations in the Philadelphia area, according to Gregory Hanselman, a Makro spokesman.

The newest entry, Pace, is based in Aurora, Colo. The publicly traded company, started in 1983, already has 39 stores that earned $9.4 million last year on sales of $1.3 billion.

In its stores, shoppers can buy wholesale if they purchase a $25 membership, or can join for free and buy at 5 percent above wholesale prices. Pace entered Pennsylvania last year, opening three stores in the Pittsburgh area. It plans other stores in Erie and Harrisburg.

In the Philadelphia area and in South Jersey, Pace expects to open five stores by the end of 1990, according to Arthur Litt, Pace's senior vice president for real estate.

Pace intends to start construction within a few weeks on a new store at Lincoln Highway and Woodburn Road near the Oxford Valley Mall. The retailer also is renovating a former Two Guys store on Old York Road near the Pennsylvania Turnpike for a second location.

Wet Weekends Have Slowed Business At Local Courses

Source: Posted: May 10, 1989

Between the weather and the legal beagles, it has not been a great spring for golf.

The last six or seven weekends have been a 50 percent weather wipeout.

When the weather does turn, the county's golfing fraternity will need every course that's out there, including the Rancocas Country Club, which is still not out of legal limbo.

American Golf Corp., the prospective new owner of Rancocas, had hoped to have title to the Willingboro property signed, sealed and secured by last weekend but the legal paperwork continues to drag on, so AGC is reluctant to throw its abundant resources into renovating the course.

"We have to clear up minor discrepancies in the title," said Kimble C. Knowlden, regional director of golf operations for AGC, which owns or operates more than 100 courses nationwide and made the successful bid for Rancocas last month in bankruptcy court. "We're assuming things will go smoothly," Knowlden said. "Our irrigation specialist and clubhouse architect and golf course architect have visited the course."

He said that "well over $100,000 worth" of equipment such as greens mowers, trim mowers, fairway units, rough units, tractors and aerifying equipment are on order.

A new clubhouse will replace the one that was torched five years ago.

"Our architect is drawing up plans for clubhouse locations," Knowlden said, but he said the exact site for that facility has not been decided. The firm's vice president of maintenance is setting priorities on getting the course back in shape. The greens and fairways were left unattended from January until the court gave AGC permission to move in, perform minor maintenance and collect fees.

A completely automatic irrigation system is also a priority, Knowlden said.

"We have to discover what part (of the existing system) is usable. We're not sure exactly how we're going to set it up."


Riverton Country Club's tournament, scheduled last Saturday to benefit the J. Wood Platt scholarship fund of the Philadelphia Golf Association, was rained out and moved back a week to this Saturday. A field of about 75 is expected, with each making a minimum donation of $25, with receipts going to the fund, which provides scholarships for caddies.

Also at Riverton, a field of 140 is expected to tee off in a 1 p.m. shotgun start Monday in the 10th annual American Cancer Society golf and tennis tournament, which last year raised about $14,000 for the charity.

The $175 entrance fee ($50 for tennis) gets you brunch at noon, refreshments on the course, hors d'oeuvres at 6:30, a cocktail party and dinner at 7. Dinner only is $75.

On the course, there will be the usual prizes for low scores and closest to the pin on selected holes, and you can win an automobile if you can hit the shot of a lifetime and sink a hole-in-one at one of the par-threes. (There's a separate fee for this.) For the lucky or affluent, one-week getaways are being auctioned after dinner - golf at Hilton Head, skiing in Vermont, a house in New Hampshire.

"We haven't had a decent weekend, Saturday and Sunday together, this season," said Nick Manari, the general manager at Ramblewood Country Club in Mount Laurel. "It has rained or been quite cool most of the weekends. I'd have to say play is down about 15 percent."

Play is off even more, "about 25 percent," at Willow Brook in Delran- Moorestown, according to manager Bill Karr. For many golfers, Karr said, ''Saturday is the one day they get to play."

Joe Schlindwein, pro at Medford Lakes Country Club, was philosophical.

"The hard-nose golfer comes out no matter what, but it has hurt the fair- weather golfer. It's been pretty nice through the week but the weekends have been tough."

Tough 36-hole Match To Decide The Title

Source: Posted: June 28, 1989

Gordon Gold and Phil Birkmire will compete against Gordon Keenan and Bob Donohue in the finals of the better ball championship at Burlington County Country Club Saturday in one of those old-time torture tests - a scheduled 36- hole match.

Gold and Birkmire beat Bob Gaskill and Joe Gallagher, 3 and 1, and Keenan and Donohue defeated John Wagner and Tom St. John, 7 and 6, in the 18-hole semifinals of the full handicap test Saturday at the Westampton course.


The Cusick family took a lock on the Indian Spring Golf Association's President's Cup competition over the weekend at the Marlton course.

Ron, son of the course superintendent, Pete Cusick, shot a 5-under par 65 to win the scratch phase of the individual competition, and Pete took the net with 52.

One of the traditions of a hole-in-one is that the achiever, upon getting back to the 19th hole, stands everyone to a beverage in celebration of the feat, never mind the cost.

But when Warren Schimpf and Bill Galloway scored aces recently, it didn't cost either a cent.

Schimpf, playing at Medford Village Country Club, got his on June 18 on the 163-yard No. 11 with a 6-iron in a foursome with his wife, Kay, and Bob and Cheryl Hoffman of Medford.

Schimpf, a sales engineer, lives on Cornwallis Drive in Mount Laurel, shoots in the low 80s and plays between 36 and 54 holes a week.

There were several hundred people on the clubhouse premises when he got there after the Father's Day ace, and everybody got a free drink. Yet Schimpf never once reached for his wallet - because he had the foresight to take out a $25 "insurance" policy with the club at the beginning of the season against just such an exigency.

At Willow Brook, Galloway was making his first ace, too, on the 159-yard No. 12 with a 7-iron Wednesday in the company of Mark Sabiano and Rick Lafferty.

Galloway, of Haines Mill Road in Delran, started playing the game 12 years ago, gave it up because it took too much time from his printing company, then resumed three years ago.

By the time he got back to the club after his round last week, it was 8 p.m. Everyone else, including his partners, had gone home. "There was nobody in the place but the bartender," he said. And the deal doesn't include the bartender, of course.

Mike Mack, the professional at Burlington County Country Club, racked up his sixth or seventh hole-in-one at that course June 18 when he lofted a soft pitching wedge into the cup on No. 5, 100 yards, while playing with Brian Powell, George Reinhard and Steve Hruby.

Ann Marie Fields of Marlton, a beginning golfer, aced No. 2, 120 yards, at Golden Pheasant June 19. Her husband, George, witnessed it.

To submit information on forthcoming golf events, mail details, including telephone number of sender, two weeks in advance to: Golf Column, Neighbors, Philadelphia Inquirer, 53 Haddonfield Rd., Suite 300, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002.

3 Towns To Get New Telephone Service

Source: Posted: September 06, 1989

Residents of Riverside, Delran and Delanco will enter a new age of high technology telephone service when a digital electronic switching system becomes operational in their area Sept. 17.

For the first time, 13,200 subscribers, in exchanges with the prefixes 461 or 764, will be able to buy additional services such as call waiting, speed calling, call forwarding and the Pennsy-Link discount service for calls to the Philadelphia area.

Residents in the three towns have been irritated for years about the lack of these services. They were unable to understand why they could not obtain them when nearby friends and relatives could.

With call waiting, a user talking on the phone hears a tone when there is another incoming call and can put the first call on hold and answer the second. Digital switching will also allow home banking and information retrieval from databases.

The current electromagnetic system in Riverside was installed in 1954 and is one of the last in the state to be upgraded to a digital switching system.

After the Riverside Central Switching Office, located at Fairview Avenue and Second Street, goes on line, only six of the 210 switching stations in the state will remain to be converted: Willingboro, Wrightstown, Pennsgrove, Hackettstown, Franklinville and Hopatcong. These are scheduled to be completed by March 1990.

Willingboro's central switching office covers exchanges 835, 871 and 877, Carrigan said. The Wrightstown exchange includes subscribers with the 723 prefix.

Jean Wilmot, community relations manager for New Jersey Bell in Burlington County, said the telephone strike is not expected to affect the changeover at the Riverside station.

Electronic switching was first installed in Burlington County in 1974, according to Jim Carrigan, a New Jersey Bell spokesman. "The first anywhere in the world was introduced in 1965 in Succasunna in North Jersey," he said.

Only computer-driven electronic switches can furnish the sophisticated calling options available today, Carrigan said. "Electronic switches transmit information in digital form," he said. "They're more efficient, faster and not subject to error."

In addition, the digital system will be compatible with advanced digital fiber optic or lightwave technology that New Jersey Bell is installing in the state.

The modular nature of the digital system, which depends on circuit packs, makes maintenance easier, Carrigan said. "If one goes dead, they take it out and put a new one in."

A Place To Get It Wholesale

Source: Posted: November 12, 1989

Call up a mental picture of a Levitz Furniture warehouse. Imagine laundry detergent in megabuckets. Think of row on row of tires at parade rest. Envision a counterful of literary best-sellers and cookbooks, then throw in a clothing store. Picture computers and blenders and toasters.

There is a sketchy idea of the offbeat look and the merchandise mix at Sam's Wholesale Club chain, which opens its first store in the Northeast on Tuesday at Route 130 and Chester Avenue in Delran.

Sam's is a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's third-largest retailer. Sam's management says the Northeast is ripe for wholesale clubs, which charge a set percentage above wholesale cost. Store officials say their markup is between 8 percent and 8.2 percent on the approximately 3,500 items they sell.

The Delran store will be No. 120 for Sam's, and the company expects more than 1,000 local businessmen as guests - by invitation only - at a pre-opening ceremony tomorrow at 5:30 p.m., followed by entertainment and shopping.

Sam's is not the first "wholesale" club in Burlington County - that honor goes to BJ's Wholesale Club in Maple Shade - but Sam's is one of the most aggressive of this genre, which started on the West Coast in 1977. Sam's began its first on a trial basis in 1983 and has opened 17 stores this year.

Overexpansion is not a worry. "We've got 32 of these units just in Texas, and we're still going to add one or two more there," said Bob Cheyne, vice president of marketing. "We think the Northeast is an area wide open for the wholesale concept. I'd say the Northeast is going to be great."

Although some competitors cater to a retail clientele despite the ''wholesale" in their name, Sam's officials say that about 70 percent of their business comes from small business operators.

"It reaches as high as 75 percent," Cheyne said. "There are a lot of businesses up and down that Route 130. I've driven around that area. There's a ton of businesses there we can serve, little bitty stores. Convenience stores are great for us, vending machine operators, day-care centers, child-care centers."

Sam's had planned to open Atlantic City and Delran stores back to back on Nov. 13 and 14, Cheyne said, "but we found that the Atlantic City building (on Route 322, another former Two Guys store) had deteriorated so we concentrated everything on the Delran store."

Sam's purchasers fall into three categories: (1) "Group Card" buyers who ''qualify" because they are employed by certain major firms, government, credit unions, hospitals and educational institutions or hold membership in AARP. They pay 5 percent over the ticket price. (2) The first group can also become "Advantage Card" members by paying a $25 yearly fee that removes the requirement of paying 5 percent over ticket price. And (3) "Business Card" members who also pay $25 yearly and also pay only the listed price but do not pay sales tax because the purchases are for resale.

Customers will find a lot of the plebian and a little of the exotic scattered, binned, racked and stacked about the 130,000 square feet of floor space at Sam's from a Jacuzzi big enough to take over your deck or Diane Von Furstenberg clothes to Michelin tires and microwave popcorn.

Except for items that can be sold only singly, Sam's tends to blister- package items in bulk: ketchup or mouthwash two to a package, 15-roll packets of toilet tissue, soda pop by the case.

For the serious-quantity user, there are 1,000-count boxes of 12-ounce paper cups, 25-pound bags of flour and 44-pound canisters of laundry detergent.

Cheyne said 40 percent of Sam's sales are "in the general food area" and there are two large, stand-alone freezers and a cooler in the store.

"In our apparel, I don't think you'll find a cocktail dress," he said, and suits are available only on a limited basis. But there is some furniture, plus small and large appliances, including refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers. "But by brand name, it's outstanding," Cheyne said.

Much of the larger items sit high in the air on three-or four-tiered steel racks that go nearly to the ceiling and require fork-lift truck retrieval by one of the more than 110 employees. Comfortable shoes are recommended. The floors are bare concrete.

The building was originally a Two Guys store and later a Jefferson Ward, but the latter closed in 1982, and the structure has been unoccupied since.

Cinnaminson, Tired Of Motels, Wants More Offices On Rte. 130

Source: Posted: January 31, 1990

Close to a dozen motels line both sides of Route 130 in Cinnaminson, places whose clientele has included prostitutes and the homeless.

Their reputation is the kind Cinnaminson officials don't care to have in their town.

"The motels don't lend themselves to the image of the town as family- oriented and upper-class," said Bob Bayard, a committeeman and former mayor of the township.

Although the motels can't be closed, officials hope that the town's proposed master plan, which designates the corridor for office and commercial development, will eventually transform the area into a business hub similar to Route 73 in Mount Laurel, Evesham and Voorhees Townships.

One office complex - the Presidential Center - will open its fifth building next month on Route 130. Another, Cinnaminson Professional Plaza, is scheduled to open in April.

The first four buildings of the Presidential Center have 100 percent occupancy rates, said Robert Fumo, managing partner of developers Enrovi Associates. The fifth, the Madison, is expected to fill up as well, Fumo said.

Half of the 24 condominium units in the Cinnaminson Professional Plaza are sold already, said Donn Lamon, former township mayor and real estate agent for the project.

Despite these indications, Cinnaminson is saddled with an image of being off the beaten track when it comes to office space.

In the early 1960s, Route 130 was the major north-south artery through South Jersey and into Philadelphia and Delaware. The motels catered to truckers and other travelers.

But when Interstate 295 opened through Mount Laurel in 1967, traffic shifted from Route 130. The interstate's junction with Route 73, adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike, became a center for large full-service hotels - and for commerce.

The motels on Route 130 found a new identity - and new clientele.

Many added waterbeds and mirrored ceilings. Last summer, as many as four arrests of prostitutes a week were reported on Route 130 in Cinnaminson, said Police Chief Edmund DeLussey. In addition, the police were called to motels for about a dozen other incidents throughout the year, ranging from domestic quarrels to assaults, he said.

A local crackdown in 1986, in which 10 motels were charged with violations of health and safety codes, was ruled illegal by Judge Martin Haines in August 1987. The ruling stemmed from a suit initiated by motel owners.

"We can't monitor them for health and safety. We have to let the county do that. And you don't get the coverage you get if done locally," Bayard said.

Some of the motels also took in the homeless and those receiving public assistance, increasing welfare costs in the township, Bayard said.

Still, officials are confident the corridor can be converted to an office environment, said Mayor Larry Eleuteri. Route 130 has direct access to the Betsy Ross Bridge and I-95, as well as the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.

Costs are also less than on the more fashionable Route 73 corridor, Fumo said.

"We don't offer the contemporary look, but we don't have the congestion that Route 73 has, either. That's why we're competitive," he said.

Lamon said the township wasn't trying to compete with Route 73. "Princeton people want Marlton. We cater to local people."

If the Presidential Center and Cinnaminson Plaza prove successful, other developments will follow, Fumo said, and Cinnaminson will become the next center of commerce in Burlington County. With land along 130 in short supply, developers will turn to the motel owners to meet the demand, he added.

Motel owners themselves may spearhead some development. Last year, Ramesh Patel, owner of Highway Host Motel, came before the township Planning Board with a proposal to build an office complex behind the motel. But the proposal was turned down, because it wasn't considered compatible to have an office building and motel on the same property, he said.

Patel said he couldn't afford to eliminate the motel outright. "Step by step we can do it. That's what we wanted to do."

Even At The End Of The Month, April Fools The Weekend Golfers

Source: Posted: May 02, 1990

April continued its vendetta against weekend golfers. From Monday to Friday, April weather was now and again balmy. But come the weekend, golfers counted themselves lucky if Mother Nature smiled on them.

"We had our first tournament in seven months that didn't get rained out," said Ken Peyre-Ferry, the pro at Little Mill Country Club in Evesham, after several 90-degree days ended Saturday.

The onset of mid-50s temperatures Sunday caught golfers unprepared.

"It was like the British Open out here (read: wet and forbidding)," said assistant pro Greg Farrow of the Burlington Country Club.

"Winter came back," said Bill Karr, pro shop manager at the Willow Brook Country Club in Delran/Moorestown. "They were not prepared for this."

The golfers showed up and played nevertheless, "but a lot of them were shivering and shaking," Karr said. "They were in shorts without sweaters and coats. It was good for sales in the pro shop, though."


Jeff Zalas, with a 2-under-par 69, won the low gross category in Little Mill's ABC tournament, with Bob Meybohm's 70-6-64 taking low net. In Class B, it was Alex Shields with 81 low gross and Bill Harvey with 81-13-68 low net; in Class C, it was Ed Hutchison with 85 low gross and Vic Turse with 86-21-65 low net.

Sean Dugan, 15, a junior member at the Medford Lakes Country Club, found a keeper for his scrapbook April 23 when he scored a hole-in-one on the 163-yard No. 16 with a 5-iron. His playing partners were Greg Morgen, Alex Slonin and Joe Schlindwein Jr., son of the course pro.

On Saturday at the same course, Ducky Dinn launched a 6-iron shot into the cup on the 160-yard No. 6 in a foursome that included Dick York, Ray Fazio and Jack McClellan.

Betsy Germond put a wonderful "1" on her card with a 5-iron shot that found the pin and the cup on No. 17, 136 yards, at the Springfield Golf Center Sunday. Her foursome included Thomas Smith, Robert Germond 3d and David Smith.

A visiting Philadelphian, Vincent Golini, collected an improbable hole-in- one at Valleybrook in Blackwood, where the normally par-4 No. 11 is being restructured. Even with the tees moved forward, it was 260 yards to the pin when Golini got all of it with his driver and holed out.

Walt Stackhouse of Maple Shade used a 4-iron on the 151-yard No. 15 at Golden Pheasant in Medford April 19 to collect an ace. One of the witnesses was Ben White.

Bob Allen, Ralph Lauria, Carmen DeSopo and Bob O'Donnell shot 124, 16 under par, to win the Red Ball tournament, a two best balls of foursome tournament, at the Burlington Country Club on Saturday. Each player has to use the red ball for a certain number of holes, and the red ball always counts in the score.

Fritz Hinchman of Pennsauken won the Chicago tournament Sunday at the Pennsauken Country Club with a minus-1 score after a matching of cards with course superintendent Bob Prickett, who had the same score.

Henry DeChurch, Bob Hurley, Bob DiCianni and Dick DiFabio took Medford Lakes' opening-day low two-ball tournament April 21 with a 117, 27 under.

Joe Minnick, 58, gave a senior golf clinic Saturday at the Moorestown Field Club with a 5-under-par 67. Minnick, a former club champion, bogeyed only one hole, the second, when he three-putted.

The eagles continue to fly at the Rancocas Golf Club in Willingboro.

Member Mark Kiernan holed out a 7-iron for an eagle 2 on the par-4, 365- yard No. 1 on April 23, witnessed by John Reiger. Earlier, Al Vassallo, another member, put used a 5-wood and an 8-iron March 10 to post a 3 on the 500-yard No. 18, witnessed by Sal Rosati and Joe Calci.

To submit information on forthcoming tournaments or other events, mail details, including the telephone number of the sender, at least two weeks in advance to: Golf Column, Neighbors, 53 Haddonfield Rd., Suite 300, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002.

Ace At Willow Brook Nearly Duplicated On Back Nine

Source: Posted: May 23, 1990

In the 15 years he has been playing golf, John A. Adams of Medford Lakes has teed off on a lot of par 3 holes, but on Sunday he finally found one he liked - a lot.

Adams, 32, a surgical-supply sales representative, was playing Willow Brook Country Club in Delran with partners Pat Havers of Bellmawr and Todd Powell of Moorestown when they arrived at No. 5, a daunting 205-yard test.

Adams pulled out a 5-wood, whomped it and watched as the ball struck the green, bounced twice, hit the pin and dropped into the cup for the first ace of his life.

"You always think there's a chance" for a hole-in-one, he said, ever the optimist. "I hope there's more to follow."

There very nearly was.

On No. 12 on the back nine, he put his tee shot within a foot of the cup.

Close, but no cigar.


Club champion Joe Burkhardt shot a 4-under 31 on the back nine Sunday in Pennsauken Country Club's member-member tournament, won by the team of Paul Schmidt and Jim Chomenko. They had a 56 in the full-handicap, better ball event. Tied for second were Tom Damour/Larry Stewart and Gary Speckmann/Bill Adair with 57.

Then, just to keep the tournament scorekeepers on their toes, Sam McCleaf put his pitching wedge shot at No. 15, 103 yards, in the cup for a hole-in-one witnessed by Ed Cliver, Joe Corney and Tom Pisano.

Dick Dunlap and Tom Speas won the senior better ball tournament May 15 at Little Mill Country Club, shooting a net 51, 20 under par in the full handicap event. Three teams tied for second at 52 - Ed Clark/ Herb Richman, Jack Munch/ Don Bowerman and Tom Lyons/Bernie Fink.

Rich Blash and Bob Thompson took Riverton Country Club's memorial scholarship better ball of partners tournament over the weekend. With 80 percent of handicap Saturday and aggregate score of partners Sunday, they shot 206, 7 under par.

S. A. Boellinger, a 13-handicapper, shot a 78 in Saturday's round as he and Ken Ross took second with 208, trailed by Tim Irons and Ross Hagstoz with 212.

From the proceeds, the club donates a $1,000 scholarship each year to one of three high schools - Palmyra (this year's recipient), Cinnaminson and Holy Cross.

Joe Russo, a Washington Township police officer, carded a 2-over-par 74 to take the spring inaugural tournament at Wedgwood Country Club, Blackwood. Maureen Thorn led the low net with 64.

Gene Hoffman scored a hole-in-one with a 9-iron May 12 at Moorestown Field Club on No. 17, 117 yards, witnessed by Pete Raymond, Abe Keith and Jack Sinunu.

Lloyd Williams Sr. aced No. 2, 120 yards, at Golden Pheasant with a 9-iron in a threesome including Mark Holmes and Russell Sanson.

John Paul eagled the difficult 500-yard, par 5 No. 18 at Rancocas Golf Club by linking a drive, 5-wood and 1-putt green. Partners were Bob Revelli and Angie Milone.

Here's a chance to get a good tee time at busy Ramblewood Country Club, help a worthy cause and save a few dollars on your income tax.

There'll be a shotgun start at noon Friday in what the Cherry Hill office of Butcher & Singer has christened its first annual golf tournament for the benefit of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, in Oaklyn. The $125 entry fee includes greens fee, open bar and dinner. Tee entries will be accepted. For information, call Karen Bustynowicz, 424-4666.

To submit information on forthcoming tournaments or other events, mail details, including telephone number of sender, at least two weeks in advance to: Golf Column, Neighbors, 53 Haddonfield Rd., Suite 300, Cherry Hill, N.J. 08002.

Ibm Back Into Home Computers Ps/1 Designed For Both Novice And Veteran

Source: Posted: June 27, 1990

NEW YORK — Vowing to make the computer as fundamental a fixture in the home this decade as the videocassette recorder and the microwave oven became in the 1980s, IBM yesterday re-entered the home-computer market with a machine that it says is easy to assemble and to use.

The "PS/1" machine - which includes a monitor, built-in modem, "mouse" and software - comes in one box, can be assembled in minutes and has just one plug.

International Business Machines Corp. "designed and redesigned the machine dozens of times" to make it particularly attractive to those who may never have touched a computer while giving those with more experience a relatively fast machine (with an Intel 80286 chip as its brain) bundled with extras, as well as the option to expand the machine's capabilities.

The machine also will carry IBM's service features, including a toll-free 18-hour daily hotline for questions and free pick up and replacement of defective parts within two days of reporting a problem.

The PS/1's retail price - $999 for a single-floppy-drive machine with a monochrome monitor to $1,999 for a 30-megabyte hard disk and with color monitor - will make Big Blue, as IBM is known, more of a contender in the fiercely competitive low-end computer market.

"It's at the price point where it could have significant impact, if they do their homework properly," said Dale Kredatus, a consultant with Datapro Research Group Inc. in Delran, N.J., which reports on the computer industry. ''But the market is really crowded . . . everyone else is also targeting that market."

IBM has been in the home-computer market before. Its ill-fated PCjr, launched in 1983, never caught on because of its small, Chiclet-like keyboard and because equipment could not be added to it. IBM scrapped the machine two years later.

"I know we've been here before," George Conrades, IBM senior vice president of marketing, said at the machine's introduction in New York. ''This time, I assure you, we have it right."

The home-computer market has grown-up since the PCjr.'s flop, when games and entertainment software drove the market, said Andy Bose, an analyst with Link Resources Corp. of New York. Consumers now purchase computers for their ''systems" - their ability to perform a range of functions - with a major spur being the growing number of users who work out of their homes using computers.

Compared with the lightning growth of microcomputers in offices in the 1980s, however, the home market has been slower to embrace the personal computer - with penetration growing about 4 percent a year, Bose says.

Still, the U.S. market is sizable, with consumers purchasing about 4.2 million computers for their homes in 1989 for $2.7 billion, Bose said.

One in every four households has a computer, and that is expected to increase to one in three in five years, he said.

"IBM is trying really hard," Bose said. "They're making a very good attempt to open up the first-time buyer market, as well as those households using lower-end computers such as the old Commodore (64 and 128) and want to upgrade."

However, he said he didn't see the "serious work-at-home user" wanting to buy it.

At the end of 1989, about 16 percent of households with a computer had an IBM, behind Commodore International Ltd. with 22 percent and Apple with 19 percent.

Tom Kilcoyne, director of consumer marketing at Commodore's West Chester headquarters, said IBM's re-entry into the home marketplace would encourage more people to buy home computers.

"The product introduction is good news in that there is recommitment to mass market and home market," he said. "IBM is coming back to it, Apple is rumored to be (developing a product) . . . Commodore has never left it." Commodore has been heavily promoting its Amiga 500 machine for the home, with a list price of $599.

To get to consumers who don't shop during the hours that computer dealers are generally open and to broaden its market, IBM also will sell the PS/1 at some department stores, including Sears, Roebuck & Co. The machine will be rolled out immediately in three markets, Dallas, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago, and in the rest of the country in the fall.

IBM officials said they had talked to groups made up of thousands of consumers to determine what features they wanted. These included ease of use for the whole family, power and expandability, help from the manufacturer, an all-in-one box rather than a conglomeration of equipment, as well as a good value.

A team of 80 employees, based in a warehouse adjacent to an IBM plant in Lexington, Ky., worked 18 months from "conception to consumption" to come up with a machine that team leader Anthony Santelli described as having ''appliance-like utility."

Flip the on switch and a screen with four pictures appears. That gives the user a visual description of the programs that the computer can perform, rather than the blank screen and blinking cursor that have befuddled many users of other personal computers, including IBMs.

Even the single box in which the computer comes - weighing in at 28 to 38 pounds, depending on the model - features a "Start-here" package explaining how to connect cables on the machine and plug your telephone line into the back of the machine. The telephone line allows you to communicate with databases such as Prodigy, the joint venture of Sears and IBM that offers the ability to shop, make airline reservations, bank and trade stock via computer.

While "clones" - machines that can run the same software as IBM's machines - are available for $400 less, it's difficult to compare values, since the new IBM comes with several additional features, such as a 2,400 baud modem (the device that makes the telephone connection possible) and Microsoft Works software, which enables the user to perform word-processing (document- writing) and spread sheet (accounting) functions.

In addition, the IBM contains a built-in MS-DOS operating system and Prodigy software. Moreover, the computerized tutorials explain everything from how to use the "mouse" - a device that enables the user to move around the computer screen - to what software is.

The machine will be made in Raleigh, N.C., with its circuit boards manufactured in Austin, Texas.

Savings Amid The Cinderblocks The New Warehouse Shopping Clubs In The Area Aren't Fancy. What They Emphasize Are Low Prices.

Source: Posted: August 06, 1990

Shopping at Sam's Wholesale Club isn't pretty.

From the concrete floor, to the cinderblock walls, to the crude metal shelves lined with industrial-sized mayonnaise jars, this is bottom-line retailing complete with forklifts motoring down the aisles.

"So what? We don't care what the place looks like. All we want is the best price," said Theda Roberts of Mount Holly, who shops with her husband, Charles, at Sam's in Delran.

Sam's is one of a new crop of warehouse shopping clubs that is expanding into the Northeastern United States after enjoying considerable popularity for years with consumers and small-business owners in the West and South.

In the Philadelphia area, several national warehouse retailers plan to open stores soon:

* Pace Membership Warehouse. The Denver-based chain, owned by K mart Corp., opened a Pace store last year in Hatboro. Two more Pace warehouses are to open this month in the Philadelphia area - in Langhorne and in Deptford. K mart recently bought the Makro chain and closed its Bucks County outlet, merging it with the Pace Langhorne warehouse.

* Price Club. The California-based chain plans to open its 60th store - and its first in this area - in Maple Shade in November.

* Sam's Wholesale Club. A subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sam's has one store in Delran and plans to open its first Pennsylvania store in York in October. Several more are planned for the region next year.

BJ's Wholesale Club, the nation's fifth-largest warehouse chain, already has stores in Northeast Philadelphia and Maple Shade.

The stores offer a bounty of groceries and household goods - from diapers to canned vegetables, from tires to film - at dramatically low prices. At Sam's, for example, a five-pound bag of frozen chicken breasts was selling last week for $6.69 and a pack of eight 6.5-ounce cans of name-brand tuna for $4.76.

The stores are able to offer lower prices than supermarkets or other discount retailers such as K mart because they have done away with all niceties. There are no fitting rooms to try on clothes, very few salespeople, and customers pack their purchases in used cardboard boxes.

Brenda Lockhart, a spokeswoman for Sam's, said her store sells items for a maximum profit of 10 percent - and sometimes as low as 2 percent - compared with discount retailers, whose margins range from 25 percent to 45 percent, and department stores, where the markup can range from 50 percent to 100 percent.

Patrick Smid, Pace's vice president of marketing, said warehouse stores differ substantially from other discounters and hypermarkets, such as the Carrefour store in Northeast Philadelphia, which also sells groceries and household goods. Those stores carry many different brands of the same products, while the wholesale club narrows the choice down to the two or three best bargains, he said.

"And we are truly a warehouse," he said. "We minimize expenses and maximize efficiencies. A hypermarket will have nice floors and ceilings and hand-stocked displays. All of those things add expense to the goods sold."

Another expense some warehouse clubs trim is the cost of a union workforce.

Wendell Young, president of Local 1776 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which bitterly fought Carrefour's operation as a non-union shop, said his union has not waged a full-scale objection to BJ's or Pace because, he said, their business volume was not that high. Price Club generally hires union workers.

However, Young said the union is gearing up to take on Sam's and its parent company Wal-Mart when they begin to expand into Pennsylvania later this year.

Warehouse shopping started in California when the Price Co., the industry leader in sales volume at $5 billion, began operating its Price Clubs in 1976.

Margo McGlade, a financial analyst who follows the Price Co. for PaineWebber in New York, said the Philadephia market should be large enough to support up to a dozen warehouse stores.

That doesn't bother Pace's Smid. "We've faced direct competition in 85 percent of our markets chainwide, so we're very used to it."

McGlade said wholesale clubs usually average annual sales of $55 million per store, although the Price Co., because it has a more established market base, is much higher.

The membership clubs charge $25 for an annual membership fee and $10 to add another person to the card. Sam's and Pace allow non-members to make purchases for a 5 percent surcharge, but Price requires membership. McGlade said consumers need to spend $600 a year to make the membership worthwhile.

Warehouse clubs target small-business owners, who can augment their main wholesale suppliers with trips to a wholesale club.

Jeannie Francis, co-owner of the Riverton Coffee Shop in Riverton, said she goes to Sam's in Delran about four times a week to buy supplies, including dozens of eggs, which she said she can buy cheaper at Sam's than from her wholesaler.

She said she is growing increasingly dependent on Sam's as a way to keep her inventory in tight control. Francis said that she must have a $350 order to get her supplier even to come out to her shop. And if they do come, she never knows when exactly the delivery will come.

"I still use my wholesaler," she said, wheeling a shopping cart brimming with egg crates to her car. "But it's getting to be less and less."

Special Charges Of $13 Million To Give Flagship Big Quarterly Loss

Source: Posted: August 24, 1990

Flagship Financial Corp. said yesterday that it would report a large loss in the third quarter because of costs of closing or selling five branch offices in New Jersey and the writing off of $10 million in assets.

The Jenkintown company, which owns First American Savings and Brandywine Savings Bank, said that, in all, it would have special charges of $13 million against its third-quarter earnings.

Though the company did not predict the size of its expected loss, a charge of that magnitude would wipe out more than twice the $6 million in profits recorded in all of 1989.

Despite the loss, the company said it still would have more than $100 million in capital, the cushion that protects depositors from losses. The moves also will improve future profit potential, said Frank P. Felton, Flagship's chairman.

"All this will be accomplished without jeopardizing the company's financial condition," Felton said.

The company expects to close or sell by Nov. 1 two full-service retail branches, one in Maple Shade and one in Camden, and three convenience branches, in K mart stores in Marlton, Delran and Mantua.

The company said that the closings would affect 12 employees and that they would be offered jobs elsewhere in the company. The five New Jersey branches have $46.7 million in deposits.

Flagship hopes to sell those deposits to another bank. If no buyer is found, said chief operating officer John M. Mason, deposits will be moved to First American's Pennsylvania branches.

Customers who have certificates of deposits at branches to be closed will be able to move their deposits at contractual maturity, he said.

Flagship will continue to operate the 12 full-service offices that First American Savings and Brandywine Savings Bank own in Pennsylvania. A new office is under construction in Skippack, Montgomery County.

Mason said the closings would have a minimal effect on Flagship's operations. But the decision to boost its reserve for losses on loans and the writing off of good will - an intangible asset that produces no income - will ''significantly" improve the company's future earnings power, he said.

By wiping out most of the good will on its balance sheet in the third quarter, Flagship avoids having to write it off in small amounts over the next 17 years. About $7 million of the $10 million in good will represents the difference between what Flagship paid in 1982 for a troubled, small S&L and what the S&L's assets were worth.

The company also has decided to speed up a previously announced plan to boost reserves for potential loan losses. The company will set aside $3 million in the third quarter. In the future, it expects to set aside a more typical $200,000 for its loan-loss reserve, rather than putting $700,000 or $800,000 aside in each of four quarters, Mason said.

"We've been told" by bank regulators "to compare ourselves with commercial banks, so this will put us more in line with those peers," Mason said. The boost in the loan-loss reserve will bring the balance of the reserves to 0.98 percent of total loans, he said.

"The transactions just make economic sense," Mason said. "These are non- cash transactions that basically clean up the balance sheet and allow us to go ahead in a cleaner fashion."

Flagship's stock price fell $1.50 to $7.50 a share in over-the-counter trading yesterday.

Ncr Says At&t Isn't Only Suitor

Source: Posted: December 13, 1990

NCR Corp. said yesterday that it had been approached about a possible merger or buyout by parties other than AT&T, which has made a $6.12 billion takeover offer that NCR management has rejected.

"We've had expressions of interest," said Charles Exley, NCR's chairman. ''There have been contacts."

Exley would not identify any potential suitors, but he said some of them had been putting out feelers before AT&T offered on Dec. 2 to buy NCR, the nation's fifth-largest computer maker. NCR has offered to discuss a takeover by AT&T if the long-distance telephone company increases its offer to $125 a share or more from $90 a share.


Chronar Corp., the Lawrenceville, N.J., maker of solar cells, said it had filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Chronar (OTC), which has suffered heavy losses and severe cash shortages, said it had suspended its commercial activities and laid off almost all employees.

Assets of 445 taxable money-market mutual funds rose $2.65 billion in the latest week to $418.89 billion, according to IBC/Donoghue's Money Fund Report. The average seven-day yield on taxable funds was 7.22 percent, down from 7.27 percent the previous week. The assets of 244 tax-exempt money market funds rose $1.72 billion to $85.56 billion. The average seven-day yield on tax- exempt funds was 5.36 percent, up from 5.31 percent the week before.

Home builders finished new houses and apartments at an annual rate of 1,256,000 in October, down 5.1 percent from September, the U.S. Commerce Department said. The housing-completion rate was down 4.6 percent from October 1989's and was the lowest rate since April 1983, when homes were finished at an annual rate of 1,197,000 units.

CS First Boston Inc. said its institutional and management shareholders had approved a $725 million infusion of capital and cash designed to reverse the investment firm's sagging fortunes. The deal will increase CS Holding's stake in CS First Boston to 60 percent from 44.5 percent.

McKesson Drug Co., of San Francisco, said it would build a $14 million drug-distribution center in Delran to replace a warehouse at 231 Luzerne St. in Philadelphia. The 235,000-square-foot building will be on a 16-acre parcel in the Swedes Run Corporate Center on Route 130. The 181 workers at McKesson's Philadelphia center presumably will be offered jobs at the new center, spokesman James S. Cohune said.

Digital Equipment Corp., the nation's second-biggest maker of computers, said it may have to resort to layoffs for the first time ever next year as part of a $1 billion cost-cutting effort. Profits of Digital (NYSE), of Maynard, Mass. fell 83 percent in the first quarter, which ended Sept. 30, to $26.2 million, or 21 cents a share.

Saatchi & Saatchi Co. PLC, the British advertising agency, said it would sell the New York ad agency McCaffrey & McCall to management for $17 million. It is the first time Saatchi, which has grown rapidly through acquisitions, has sold an agency. Among McCaffrey & McCall's clients is Mercedes-Benz, which Saatchi said presented conflicts because the British agency handled other car. McCaffrey had a pretax loss of $200,000 in the year ended Sept. 30.

The world's three largest publishers of computer software, Microsoft, Lotus and Ashton-Tate, filed suits alleging computer piracy by two European companies - Rhone-Poulenc, of France, and General Electric Co. PLC, of Britain. The three U.S. firms said they sought damages of $1 million from Rhone-Poulenc's films division and unspecified damages from GEC's Marconi Instruments subsidiary. The software makers allege that the defendants are selling copies of popular software programs without paying royalties to do so.

Centocor Inc., the Malvern biotechnology company, said it had paid $6 million to acquire a factory to produce mammalian cell cultures and had leased laboratory and office space from Invitron Corp. in St. Louis. Centocor (OTC) said it was offering jobs to 65 Invitron employees at the plant.

Surgical Laser Technologies Inc., of Malvern, said it had acquired exclusive rights to all technologies of Advanced Laser Systems Technology Inc. for an undisclosed total price that includes $4.6 million cash over three years. Advanced Laser, a privately held company in Orlando, Fla., has developed a laser system that uses 110 volts rather than the 220 volts required in competitors' and other lasers. Surgical Laser (OTC) said the new system would be available early next year.

General Waterworks Corp., of Wilmington, acquired all the operating assets and certain debts - including $15 million in long-term debt - of Albuquerque Utilities Corp., a subsidiary of Amrep Corp., for $41.7 million. General, a subsidiary of GWC Corp. (OTC), folded the Albuquerque, N.M., firm into General's Rio Rancho Utilities Corp. subsidiary.

Businesses Delinquent In Delran 6 Owe $588,000 In Unpaid Taxes

Source: Posted: December 16, 1990

Six businesses in Delran have not paid a total of $588,000 in taxes owed to the township this year and residents may be forced to make up the difference if the money is not paid, according to Mayor Richard Knight.

The delinquent accounts constitute about 4.5 percent of Delran's total tax revenues and would translate into a 20-cent increase in the township tax rate. Delran currently taxes at a rate of 60 cents per hundred dollars of assessed value of property to run the municipal government.

For the owner of a property assessed at the township average, which is $60,000, a 20-cent increase would mean a $120 tax increase.

"If the taxes are not paid by the first of the year, it would almost certainly cause us to increase taxes," Knight said.

Each year, Delran, like other towns, allocates money in its budget to account for unpaid taxes. This year, Delran counted on collecting 96.5 percent of its taxes and provided a surplus of $449,000 for the uncollected accounts. The statewide average is about 96 percent, according to the Tax Collectors and Treasurers Association of New Jersey.

But a declining local economy has left some businesses unable or reluctant to pay their taxes to Delran in a timely fashion, leaving the township with a collection rate of about 91 percent or 92 percent, if present trends continue.

"I've been here 13 years, and this is the worst it's been," said Louis Kaniecki, Delran's treasurer. "It's a significant amount."

Most of the delinquent accounts are businesses related to land development. They are Rouse & Associates of Philadelphia ($172,000 in taxes owed), Whitesell Construction Co. of Mount Laurel ($136,000), InterDevelCo of Englewood Cliffs, ($138,000), the Mill Run Shopping Center on Route 130 ($73,000), the Millside Shopping Center, owned by Delran Shopping Associates ($42,000), and the Delran Professional Center, which was developed by Robert Platz of Camden, ($27,000).

In addition to the businesses, the owners of the Hunters Glen Apartments have filed a tax appeal against the township, and the anticipated settlement might reduce the township's collection rate another 2 percent, according to Knight.

Knight said he had called and written to each of the delinquent taxpayers and urged them to bring their accounts up to date.

The owners of two of the businesess say that they are having a difficult time making payments on properties that do not generate enough, if any, income.

The Mill Run Shopping Center, for instance, is in the midst of foreclosure proceedings. Jack Birnberg, the court-appointed rent receiver for the project, said that Mill Run was "looking into the possibility of paying more money to the township by the end of the year."

Robert Platz, the owner of the Delran Professional Center, is appealing his tax bill to Delran and contends that that the township should not force him to pay taxes on buildings that generate no income.

"Let me pay taxes on the land itself and get tenants in there," Platz said.

The other companies either declined to comment or failed to return repeated phone calls.

Delran is not without recourse against the delinquent taxpayers. Under state law, the township may assess an 8 percent interest charge on the first $1,500 in each account, and 18 percent on any amount above that. Each delinquent account in Delran is currently being assessed the 18 percent interest charge.

Knight, though, said that nonpayment causes far more problems than the penalties can redress.

If Delran falls below its projected 96.5 percent collection rate this year, officials will be forced to use money from this year's budget surplus and double the amount of the shortfall for next year's uncollected taxes fund.

For each $30,000 the township does not collect, Knight says, it might need to raise its tax rate by one cent per hundred dollars of assessed value of property.

Remaking Phila. In A New Mold Hard Choices - And Sacrifices - Lie Ahead

Source: Posted: December 26, 1990

William Jackson Jr., the leader of streetcleaners union Local 427, stood up before 300 skeptical workers and said just one word:


On that day in the spring of 1988, he held up several photographs and passed them around the union hall: A 1930s horse and wagon; a mud-colored truck that packed just nine cubic yards of trash; an ash-hauler that looked like a giant box.

Then Jackson passed around another picture: one of the huge and hated baby- blue trash trucks the city was proposing to buy. Mankillers, the membership called them.

This, too, represented change - change union members didn't look forward to. But change that, Jackson emphasized, was inevitable - just as all the other changes had been.

Unlike their smaller predecessors, the 32-cubic-yard trucks could go from curbside to landfill, allowing the city to close two of the six sites where workers transferred trash to tractor-trailers. The job could be done with 500 fewer people. And the city, facing runaway sanitation costs, could save $10 million a year, estimated Streets Commissioner Alexander "Pete" Hoskins.

Jackson won the skeptics over, and, as a result of the gradual switch to bigger trucks, each Philadelphia sanitation worker now walks 5 1/2 miles a day and carries 8 1/2 tons of garbage. In 1985, those workers lifted less than 6 tons a day.

The department was able to do the same job for much less - all because Jackson and Hoskins convinced people that they had to change or go the way of the horse and wagon.

This kind of farsighted management change - accomplished in partnership with the union - has been the exception in a city often handcuffed by ironclad and outdated work practices and a dearth of management employees.

And this kind of cooperation must be forged again and again if Philadelphia is to overcome a projected $230 million deficit out of a $2 billion budget, then make the changes necessary to attack the deeper structural, political and economic problems that got the city into this mess.

Whether it will, or can, ever be done is another question altogether. The choices are hard, and past performance is no assurance that city officials, politicians and interest groups will be willing to make them.

The Inquirer talked to nearly 100 scholars, budget analysts, city officials, businesspeople and community leaders. They said the changes must include the following:

* Greater productivity. The Streets Department achieved it by converting to the bigger trucks, and by buying two machines that repair potholes. It takes one worker to run the machine; repairing a pothole the old way took five.

* An end to many traditional but nonessential services. Early next month, police will stop providing non-emergency rides for doctor visits. The department is also talking about no longer investigating abandoned cars or taking on-scene reports from victims of car thefts.

* A leaner payroll. Now is the time, experts say, for the courts and other patronage bastions to ante up and do what the Police, Fire and Streets Departments have already done: cut the workforce. State court officials have already warned that such nonessential jobs as 107 personal aides to city judges and up to 24 Municipal Court law clerks face extinction.

* A local increase in the state sales tax - the one levy that experts say won't send more Philadelphians packing - and a far greater efficiency in collecting the city's wage, property and business taxes.

* More funding from Washington and Harrisburg for social problems that city officials and scholars have come to view as far beyond a local government's - or any government's - control: homelessness, AIDS and children at risk.

That last item does have a string attached: Washington and Harrisburg are running out of money, too.

In fact, all the sacrifices on that list will be difficult and painful and will have strings attached. Right now, those recommendations are little more than a wish list by those making them. They are far from an agenda agreed upon by all involved. Which, of course, is the city's problem, in a nutshell.


"There's no quick fix. There's no silver bullet out there. If there had been, it would have already been used," said G. Edward DeSeve, a former Philadelphia city finance director, who now is Gov. Casey's chief aide on the city's money crisis.

For each savings, someone will pay a price.

Sell off the city's parking garages? Watch the rates rise to market levels. Wait and see if Center City merchants' customers are driven away.

Close the Philadelphia Nursing Home? Watch what becomes of 405 residents - some of them AIDS patients, some young men paralyzed by gunfire in drug wars, all poor. Many might land on the street - "or maybe die in a back alley somewhere," warns City Councilman Angel L. Ortiz. "In terms of human suffering, the price is quite high."

The changes being contemplated must cut across entrenched interests and place the emphasis on productivity and public service in a system calcified by decades of politics and patronage, and to a lesser extent, one that has been poisoned by corruption.

Some see the crisis as a window of opportunity for deep and lasting change.

"The city probably has the greatest opportunity it's ever had over the next couple years to change the way it looks at things and the way it operates," said William V. Donaldson, Philadelphia Zoo director and former Cincinnati city manager.

In recent months, the focus has necessarily been on finding money to keep the city operating now; the city is expected to run out of money within days.

As a result, long-term change is on a back burner.

"Right now, we can't even get to those issues because we are all obsessed with the cash-flow problem," said City Councilman John F. Street, who heads Council's Appropriations Committee.

But he and others are already looking down the road.

Now is the time, they say, for ox-goring.

Now is the time to challenge political and partisan interests and set the nation's fifth-largest city on a solid financial foundation for years to come. Done right, the benefits will spread not only to the city but also to the entire region.

"Everything should be on the table," said Charles P. Pizzi, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Even if solutions are agreed upon, making them happen won't come easily.

Raise the issue of cutting services, for example, and some elected officials - whose support is needed to make any changes - rise in opposition. ''I think that leaner really means meaner," Councilman David Cohen said of recent cutbacks in nonessential police services.

Consider the long-term answers and move past the "pothole discussions," urged Mel R. Korn, chairman of the Alliance for a Better Philadelphia, an organization of more than 100 neighborhood groups that formed earlier this year and hopes to influence November's mayoral election.

"Where's the vision?" asks Korn, an advertising executive and Center City resident. "When is the last time we heard anybody talk about a vision of where Philadelphia can be and should be?"

A close look at the city's agencies suggests that the question is not whether the crisis will cause change. The question is just how deep and effective the changes will be.

In different places and different ways, this painful process has already begun.

COLLECTING THE TRASH. A little demonstration back in 1988 left William Jackson and Pete Hoskins with very sore backs, but it worked.

As members of Local 427 looked on, the union leader and the Streets commissioner spent a day hoisting bags of garbage - 13 1/2 tons in all - onto one of the city's new 32-cubic-yard trucks.

"I was like Pete, I was hurting afterward, but I wasn't going to show it," Jackson said. "If I could do it . . ."

The membership agreed to the change as a way of staving off the day when private haulers would replace them; as a way to be more efficient; and to stem the runaway costs of shipping trash to the Tullytown landfill 20 miles away.

"When people think of a vision of a sanitation worker," said Hoskins, ''too often it's an old vision."

Jackson agrees. "We're branded as bums and loafers because someone's dumping trash on what we've just picked up."

Jackson began as a "broomer" - one of the workers who swept up behind city trucks. That was a task the city could afford back in 1975, when 1,089 of the department's 3,668 employees were paid under the now-defunct federal CETA program. Total employment in the department has been cut to 2,021.

A more frequent complaint, at least in congested residential neighborhoods, is that the sanitation workers themselves strew trash meant for the truck onto the street. The department still suffers from the image - some citizens would say from the reality - described by novelist Pete Dexter in his 1984 Philadelphia novel God's Pocket:

. . . a city of Philadelphia sanitation truck had turned left off Lombard and got in front of them and was moving half a mile an hour down 25th now while three Democrats strolled back and forth across the street, picking up garbage cans, dumping half . . . into the truck, the other half into the street. At the end of the block, the driver got out, and all four of them went into the Uptown (Bar) to shake the place down for a ten and a drink.

In the wake of a 20-day garbage strike in 1986, a master agreement between the city and Jackson's union called for elimination of 1,200 jobs and increased productivity goals.

If some people picture sanitation workers as overpaid and underworked, reality differs: the average Philadelphia trash collector makes $19,335, below the average salary for the largest 13 cities, according to figures provided by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Their health benefits, number of vacation days and amount of sick leave are comparable to those of sanitation workers in other big cities, according to data compiled by AFSCME.

But like all other Philadelphia employees, they get more holidays, 14, and sick days, 20, than the union's workers in other big cities, according to AFSCME.

PATROLLING THE STREETS. The Police Department - by far the largest city department, with 6,200 officers and an annual budget nearing $300 million - is studying ways to reallocate its money to maximize crime-fighting and minimize such good-old-days services as driving people to doctors' appointments.

Commissioner Willie L. Williams, who spent 24 years rising through the ranks before getting the top job in mid-1988, has announced that next year, the department will end the rides to the doctor that officers gave nearly 160,000 times in 1989, at a cost of at least $6 million that could have been spent on patrol.

The department of the future probably won't do things that aren't strictly police business, Williams said - such as writing tickets for littering; taking time and money to dispose of abandoned cars, and shutting off opened fire hydrants in the summer.

On stormy days, people gripe about flooded basements and fallen trees, Williams said. In the past, police used to swing by. Now those calls are transferred to a "Differential Response Unit" that refers the caller to the appropriate agency.

Instead of waiting an hour or more for police to arrive and take a report from those whose batteries have been stolen from their cars, the department is now trying to handle the paperwork over the phone, giving the victim a case number to use for filing an insurance claim.

Williams isn't done. He hopes to extend the call-in program to auto theft. A clerk in the Differential Response Unit could broadcast a description of the stolen vehicle in five minutes, Williams said. Today, it can take more than an hour to get the report out, he said, because other crimes have higher priority.

The department is also trying to cut overtime, long viewed as quicksand in the city's budget. Court-related duties account for about $10 million of the department's $14 million-a-year spending on overtime, Williams said.

In the past, the District Attorney's Office scheduled police officers to show up for duties relating to court cases. Now, police coordinate officers' schedules so they can be in court during their regular shifts. As a result, overtime for officers' court appearances has fallen 4 percent over the last year - despite a growing caseload.

The police commissioner said he's also troubled by the amount spent but not reimbursed on overtime for public events. Williams refuses to detach officers from their neighborhood beats to cover the "special details" such as the Mummers Parade on New Year's Day.

Police coverage of that event is expected to cost city taxpayers $355,000 for regular time and $217,000 for overtime.

In other words, enough money to hire 12 police officers for a whole year.

"It's a very, very expensive way to start the year for a limited audience," Williams said.

For business-sponsored events, such as the annual CoreStates bicycle race, the sponsor picks up the police overtime tab.

The ever-present challenge, of course, is how to cut flab without cutting muscle. Taxpayers still pick up the overtime costs of police presence at the many parades in the city, yet can't get a quick police response to a 911 call.

In the Ninth Police District, covering the western half of Center City, residents have been warned that they must be prepared to wait the better part of an hour for a police officer to respond to a call. It actually takes police only two to seven minutes to get to any location in the district; but it often takes as long as 45 minutes for the department to find an available officer to respond.

That's partly because, of more than 77,000 calls district officers fielded in 1989 - one every seven minutes - nearly half were not related to police responsibilities. But it's also partly because of tight manpower.

CUTTING EVEN DEEPER. Where else can the city cut?

This is perhaps the most painful question of all.

Some say the city must turn its back on those who need help the most: AIDS victims; the homeless; young people maimed in crack wars.

Even Councilman John F. Street, who made his reputation as an advocate of the disenfranchised, has concluded the city can no longer take care of every citizen in need. Eleven years ago, when Street was first elected, the Reagan era had not even begun. CETA money provided jobs for hundreds of people. AIDS had barely been discovered. Cocaine was the rich kids' drug.

Now, Street is grayer and grimmer.

Consider funding for the homeless, which from 1989 to 1990 was nearly cut in half to $15 million. "We were spending more money for shelter beds than we were spending for recreation," Street said. In fiscal year 1989, the city spent about $29 million on the homeless and $26 million on recreation.

There would be few sacred cows under Street's budget ax.

The Philadelphia Nursing Home and the Riverview home for senior citizens would go. "I don't know why the city should be in the nursing home business," he said.

And how does Fairmount State Park sound? "I think Fairmount Park is going to end up being a state park," he said.

"I think they've cut that fat out of the budget over the last 10 years" and it is now down to the bone, said Theodore Hershberg, a Penn professor who in the mid-1980s spent 18 months as a deputy to Mayor Goode. However, "you can't even afford all the bones." The city must redesign itself, "with bones placed in different ways to get the job done."

BEYOND ITS GRASP. As the mayor and Council struggle to cut spending or freeze costs, one expense sits right there in City Hall - but just outside the city's grasp: The courts.

In the city fiscal year that ended in June, the court system that makes its home in City Hall cost $117 million to operate - or 6 percent of the city's $2 billion budget.

"It's a big-ticket item," says lawyer Henry T. Reath, a lawyer and longtime advocate of getting the state to pay the bill.

But under the ironclad, longstanding doctrine of separation of powers, the judiciary is an independent branch of government - which means, among other things, that the mayor and Council can barely unsheath a cost-cutting knife when it comes to Common Pleas, Municipal and Traffic Courts.

They are left to pressuring for court change through lobbying and moral suasion.

The city's money crisis has spurred State Supreme Court Justices Ralph J. Cappy and Nicholas P. Papadakos to seek ways of saving up to $16 million in the Philadelphia court system by July 1, a process that could result in firing unneeded personnel, cutting the court's car budgets and instituting hiring practices based on merit, not political connections.

The courts clearly have troubles of their own:

A reputation marred by scandal, a payroll bloated with patronage, and a physical plant so wretched that one broken-off stairway railing has gone unmended for more than five years.

On top of all that, there is more sheer work to do than ever before in the system's history: whole squads of judges and lawyers permanently assigned to dealing with asbestos lawsuits; a rise in criminal cases directly related to the explosion in use and trafficking of crack cocaine.

A Pennsylvania Economy League study, based on U.S. Census Bureau data and 1986 expenditures, found that Philadelphia spent more, per citizen, on its courts than any other big city in the United States - by a hefty margin.

The city with the second most expensive courts, Los Angeles, wasn't even close, the study said. Philadelphia's court costs worked out to $75 for every man, woman and child in the city; Los Angeles' figure was $49, Detroit's $34, Pittsburgh's $26, Chicago's $25.

Philadelphia also spent by far the most on prisons - $52 per person compared with Newark's $35 and Los Angeles' $34.

"It is impossible to determine why Philadelphia's spending is so high for the judiciary," Economy League researchers wrote, theorizing that other cities benefit from their states' contributing more money to local courts.

With this in mind, the Economy League urged: "Spending for courts and corrections must be brought down to reasonable levels through the imposition of some control from the state. Finally, state government should provide greater levels of assistance to the city to relieve some of the crushing tax burden Philadelphia's residents currently encounter."

But that plea cut no ice in Harrisburg.

Neither did the State Supreme Court's 1987 ruling that all city and county court costs in Pennsylvania were the state government's responsibility.

The decision was clear-cut, say lawyers who studied it.

"What you have is absolute anarchy. . . a total breakdown of law and order," says Reath. "Here's the court giving a direct order to the legislature, and the legislature thumbing its nose."

What is less clear is exactly when the state will have to comply with the high court's order - especially after the justices ruled in 1988 that the city still had to fund its courts that year.

RAISE CITY TAXES? Are there ways to find more funds to finance city services without cutting deeply? There are - but they, too, have hidden costs.

Taxes always can be raised. But the overall tax level will reach a point that hurts the city's economy and its prospects for growth, experts say. Some predict a continued exodus of those who can pay.

"They are destroying the middle class base in the city and now they are destroying the rich base in the city by becoming hooked on the taxation policies of the last 20 years," argued Nicholas DeBenedictis, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Philadelphia Electric Co.

Critics of the city wage tax - highest in the nation at 4.96 percent for residents and 4.31 percent for commuters - say it has driven businesses and wage-earners out of the city.

Even worse, says Christopher Cashman, the city's deputy commerce director, the wage tax deters businesses from moving into the city.

Cashman describes a typical meeting with business executives considering a move to the city: "We'll be 10 minutes into a meeting and someone will say 'That's all well and good, but I'll have to give these employees a 5 percent raise to cover the wage taxes.' "

The tax is enough to push the business prospect to say "Thanks anyway" and move elsewhere, according to Cashman.

With improvements in the Schuylkill Expressway and Interstate 95, an obvious target for the city's economic development specialists would be product distributors. But the city's business privilege tax, which takes $3.25 per $1,000 of a company's revenues and 6.5 percent of its net income, is scaring some high-volume companies away.

That's what happened to the McKesson Corp., the world's largest distributor of drugs and health-care products. The city Commerce Department had assembled a three-inch-thick file on McKesson and city efforts to help McKesson build a $13 million, 250,000-square-foot distribution center in Northeast Philadelphia.

McKesson-West Wholesale Drug Co. in 1988 announced its decision to build the center and move its 180 employees from a cramped building in the Juniata section to the Byberry East Industrial District. McKesson-West, and before that West Wholesale Drug, got its start at Broad and Wallace Streets more than 50 years ago.

And then McKesson-West, with a huge sales volume but relatively small profit margin, studied the city's business privilege tax. It was costing McKesson-West $677,000 a year - a cost that its customers had to pay and that its competitors didn't have, said Dale J. Boychak, general manager of the distribution center.

"We wanted to do that up in Northeast Philadelphia but we just kept looking at the business privilege tax and it's a great detriment to us," Boychak said.

The deal fell through.

The city loses 180 jobs.

McKesson-West decided this fall to build its center in Delran, in South Jersey. Although property taxes will be higher in New Jersey, the savings over the business privilege tax will be substantial, Boychak said.

And unlike the fixed cost of a real estate tax, the amount a company pays in business privilege tax to Philadelphia increases every time it makes another sale.

Philadelphia also will lose McKesson's real estate taxes and the wage taxes of the employees who don't live in the city.

OTHER SOURCES OF CASH. How else can the city raise money? It can sell off its assets, such as its parking garages or the Philadelphia Gas Works. But selling off assets is similar to a strapped family selling off its car: It helps pay the bills; then it's gone. What happens the next time? Sell the front yard?

Selling assets also can cause even deeper problems that aren't obvious, said Betsy C. Reveal, the city's finance director.

What if the city sells its Gas Works? Reveal wonders if the new owner would guarantee the $18 million annual payment the Gas Works makes to the city for its general fund, paying for services ranging from pothole repairs to recreation programs.

Because the city Gas Works doesn't want to cut off the poor or elderly, there's an "enormously high level of subsidization," Reveal said. "That would never survive a private operation or a public utility regulated operation."

Selling off the parking garages would pinch every commuter who drives into Center City, she said. "Do you want every parking garage in the city to be private and at market rates?" she asked.

Higher parking rates would make mass transit more attractive to many commuters, but it also could send even more shoppers to suburban malls, where parking is free.

The city might also turn to its nonprofit institutions, especially its colleges and universities - as new sources of revenue - just as New Haven, Conn., did earlier this year.

Officials there asked Yale University to contribute more to the costs of running the city. "Frankly, I was shocked at what they agreed to do," said Peter Halsey, the New Haven controller.

Yale agreed to begin paying taxes on its golf course ($400,000 a year), paying 5.8 percent of the Fire Department budget ($1.2 million a year) and $50,000 a year for five years for a joint effort with city officials called the Center for the City to study New Haven's problems, Halsey said.

In Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University has been providing the city a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes since 1928, said Jim Maloney, the city's finance director. Both Harvard and MIT pay Cambridge $900,000 a year.

In Philadelphia, institutions of learning own more than $800 million in tax-exempt property, churches more than $650 million and hospitals more than $1 billion.

Utilities such as Bell of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Electric also own millions of dollars in property exempt from real estate taxes. The utilities, however, do make a payment in lieu of taxes to the state, some of which is returned to the city. About 19 percent of the total market value of the property in the city is exempt from taxes.

Colleges and universities don't pay taxes on their non-commercial properties, yet services provided them, such as fire protection and trash hauling, cost money.

Thus, the Streets Department figures it costs Philadelphia taxpayers $290,000 just to haul away and dump the University of Pennsylvania's trash and $187,000 to dispose of Temple's. It doesn't cost the universities a cent - the same universities that pay no property tax on vast landholdings and collections of buildings.

But while the institutions do not pay real estate taxes, their employees are huge contributors to the city's wage tax. In fact, Penn employees pay more in wage taxes than those of any other single institution or business - more than $16 million in 1989, or 2 percent of the total collected.

Separately, employees of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are the seventh-largest wage tax contributor, paying more than $6 million.

And, both Temple and Penn pointed out, their hospitals each year spend millions treating the poor - patients who would have been treated at the city's now-closed Philadelphia General Hospital.

Some city leaders also observe that the finances of city hospitals are already under pressure, with many just getting by.

"I think they are more than doing their share," said Reveal. She said she'd rather bill them for the services they use than get a flat payment in lieu of taxes.

Anita Summers, professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, said a case could be made to begin charging the nonprofits user fees. "Each of these institutions in some sense has to bear the real costs of what services they use," said Summers, who has edited several books studying the economy and fiscal problems of Philadelphia and the region.

She wants Philadelphia's spending and taxing to be reviewed by a special commission that has more than just advisory powers. Such a commission, she said, would ask such questions as "Do we do the best with what we have?" and "Do we run an efficient system given what we've got?"

Where else can the City of Philadelphia get more money?

From those who are supposed to pay taxes, but don't.

The city knows that everyone who should pay the wage tax isn't paying. About 25,000 city residents working outside the city have registered to pay taxes, said Cheryl Weiss, the city's revenue commissioner.

But, there are no estimates for the number who elude the tax, she said.

Since 1981, Pittsburgh has required those who live in that city to fill out forms declaring how much they are paid. Last year, the forms identified $4.4 million - or 11 percent of the total wage tax revenues - that probably would have gone uncollected in the past, said Pittsburgh finance director Ben Hayllar.

The Pittsburgh system might work in Philadelphia, Weiss said. But it would require tracking about 700,000 workers rather than the 40,000 businesses the city now audits. Today, the city collects wage tax payments directly from employers and not from individual workers.

Even with wage-tax forms, "you're still left with the enforcement issue," Weiss said. The city cannot attach a dodger's wages and cannot dig into a bank account held with another person, she said.

Although the city has gone after thousands of dodgers in the past, Weiss added, "it doesn't mean I've collected it all."

Some are talking about more regional support.

Unlike many large cities, the City of Philadelphia also is a county and must carry the costs of the courts, prisons and welfare. In other areas of the nation, wealthy suburbs are included in many large cities' counties, which helps to pay the costs.

Those who live in Philadelphia's suburbs shouldn't view Philadelphia's problems as just Philadelphia's problems, said Pizzi of the Chamber of Commerce.

"We are not in Nebraska when we are in Bucks County," he said. The problems of Philadelphia will spill over the borders. "It's not contained in the boundaries of the city."

If you own a house in the region and you want that house to grow in value, the condition of the region will have an effect on the value, he said. All prices will go down - it doesn't stop at the city line, he added.

Others in the city say the federal and state governments must be made to pay a larger share of what are society's problems, which are concentrated in the city.

"The welfare aspects of it are really a state and national issue . . .," Summers said. The broadest tax base - the federal income tax - should pay for society's problems," she explained. "I guess what I'm saying is the poor of Mississippi are my responsibility, too."

Will the state designate more money for the social problems that have concentrated in Philadelphia? Most political leaders say the state cannot do something only for Philadelphia - it must do it for every community in the state. Besides, the state announced last week that it's facing a budget deficit of its own of nearly $1 billion.

The state may play a role in the city's financial recovery plan, which still needs local and state approvals. But the plan, announced in mid- November, is designed to solve the short-term cash-flow problem and is not a long-term fix to the city's structural problems.

Under the plan, the city would be able to add a percentage point to the state's 6 percent sales tax, which would add about $100 million in revenues to the city's coffers. The plan also calls for increased federal assistance of $33.5 million and increased state assistance of $50 million in the 1992 fiscal year.

The plan must be shepherded through a treacherous political landscape - at a time when City Council is at odds with the mayor and bristling at solutions they contend are being imposed upon them, and when several mayoral candidates are coming up with their own proposals.

Will the city be in better shape a year from now?

"Not by itself," said Frederick L. Voigt, executive director of the Committee of Seventy, a Philadelphia government watchdog group. He notes that Harrisburg's help is crucial to raising the sales tax. "The city's powers are delegated powers. Absent permissive legislation from the state, we're powerless to do that."

A healthy national economy is key. "Things (like) that are far beyond the power of the city to control," said Voigt. He said New York City's financial problems from the 1970s weren't solved by the government alone. They were solved by a booming economy.

Without an economic upturn, the long-term solutions won't come easy, he said. With a deep recession, the outlook would be bleak.

And no matter what the solutions are, they will take time, Voigt said.

"We didn't get where we are overnight, and we aren't going to get out of where we are overnight. It's going to take time to get us out."

Sluggish Economy Pinches Delran

Source: Posted: January 02, 1991

For Robert Platz, the developer of the Delran Professional Centre on Route 130, last year was when cars were supposed to fill his project's parking lot and rent from his tenants would stream in.

But, like for many other developers, things have not worked out that way. The parking lot is almost always empty, and the leases he thought he had signed to fill his project have produced one tenant.

Now he owes $27,000 in taxes to Delran Township but says he cannot pay his bill on a property that does not generate any income.

"I just feel that they're coming after me a little too quickly," Platz said. "Let me get my tenants in, and then I'll pay the money."

His arguments are not winning over township officials. Recently, Mayor Richard Knight said that tax revenues in Delran were falling far short of expectations and that six businesses - all related to land development - owed as much as $588,000.

"I find it interesting," Knight said, "that he would ask the taxpayers of Delran to subsidize what appears to be a bad business decision."

As of Dec. 21, the list of delinquent taxpayers included some of the area's largest development and construction companies: Rouse & Associates of Philadelphia, the Whitesell Construction Co. of Mount Laurel, InterDevelCo of Englewood Cliffs, the Mill Run Shopping Center on Route 130, the Millside Shopping Center owned by Delran Shopping Associates and Platz's project.

If the money is not paid, Knight said, the shortfall would translate into a 20-cent increase in Delran's tax rate next year. The current rate is 60 cents for every hundred dollars of assessed property value. For the owner of a property assessed at $60,000, the township's average, a 20-cent rate increase would mean $120 more in taxes.

Knight said that he received commitments before Christmas for $60,000 in back taxes but that they did little to solve the serious shortfall in 1990 tax collections.

Although Platz's is the smallest of the delinquent businesses, his problems illustrate how the widespread decline in the real estate industry is affecting townships and taxpayers.

Platz conceived his project in 1986, when he bought 14.6 acres near Creek Road for $280,000. Although he had never developed a commercial property, he said he had been convinced that the site was on the edge of the "golden real estate of South Jersey."

The Delran Planning Board unanimously approved his proposal in August 1987, and no residents criticized it, according to Planning Board minutes.

George Scimeca, a Planning Board member at the time and Delran tax assessor for 30 years, recalled that townships welcomed proposals such as Platz's.

"Everybody used to compete for commercial properties," he said. Office buildings contribute to the tax base without placing much strain on municipal services, he said.

Scimeca also said the Planning Board was obligated to approve a project if the developer met its requirements.

In 1988, Platz built the first of three planned 25,000-square-foot office buildings. To save money, he built enough parking for the entire project, a decision he now calls a mistake. He has hundreds of parking spaces for, at most, 10 cars.

In March 1989, his first and only tenant, Donna Graziano, a doctor, moved in. The rest of the building remains vacant.

"We've had the electricity turned off twice since we've been here," said Graziano. "Sometimes, the trash doesn't get picked up for a month." The building, she said, is often vandalized.

Platz, 52, said winning approval for his project and having it built had been much more frustrating than he had expected. A process he thought would take six or nine months, he said, took more than two years.

One of the costliest delays was a water drainage problem on his property that cost $100,000 to fix, even though he said he had not created the problem.

Back Taxes Are Vexing In Delran

Source: Posted: January 13, 1991

The end of the year came to Delran, but much of the $588,000 in delinquent taxes owed by six businesses did not.

Delran received two payments totaling $83,000, one from Rouse & Associates of Philadelphia ($41,000 of $172,000 owed) and another from the Millside Shopping Center on Route 130 (its entire $42,000), leaving Delran about $498,000 short on its collections from five businesses. One tax bill, for the Delran Professional Centre on Route 130, was reduced by $7,000 after an appeal before the Burlington County Board of Taxation.

Preparing his preliminary 1991 budget, Mayor Richard Knight sounded glum as he considered his alternatives for making up the shortfall.

"The options open to us are to reduce the cost of government or to increase our revenues," Knight said, adding that "if you raise taxes, you better have a darned good reason."

Knight's preliminary budget is due before the Township Council by Tuesday, and he said he would not know how he would make up the deficit until the township closed out its accounting process. Often the process lasts beyond the Jan. 15 deadline because the state does not have its final revenue figures ready by then, according to Township Administrator Jeffrey Hatcher.

In mid-December, Knight warned that Delran's tax revenues were falling far short of expectations, and residents faced a possible tax increase to make up for the shortfall.

Hatcher said that the $498,000 in delinquent taxes accounted for about 3.7 percent of Delran's total tax levy, which would translate into about a 16- cent tax increase in the township's 60-cent rate for every $100 of assessed property value.

Homeowners account for 1.4 percent of the uncollected taxes, which is at or above normal for Delran. Overall, for residential, commercial and industrial collections, the year-end tax collection rate will be 92.92 percent, off from the 96.5 percent projected at the beginning of last year, Hatcher said.

"Usually, we have one or two large tax accounts that do not pay on time," Hatcher said. "But we've never had so many big tax bills not get paid."

The remaining delinquent accounts include: Rouse & Associates of Philadelphia ($131,000); InterDevelCo of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. ($138,000); Whitesell Construction of Mount Laurel ($136,000); the Mill Run Shopping Center on Route 130 ($73,000), and the Delran Professional Centre on Route 130 ($20,000).

In addition to the unpaid taxes, Delran's grim financial picture was further worsened by the December settlement of a tax appeal filed by the owners of Hunters Glen Apartments, which cost Delran an additional 2 percent of its total tax levy for the year.

As recourse against the delinquent businesses, Delran is assessing each unpaid tax account 8 percent interest on its first $1,500, and 18 percent for the remaining balance.

Additionally, the township is allowed under New Jersey law to collect all rents and profits generated from the delinquent properties as of Jan. 1. But Hatcher said that the court action required to collect the income was often too lengthy and costly to justify its expense.

"Many of these properties do not make any money," Hatcher said. The land owned by InterDevelCo, for instance, lies vacant and unimproved, and the Delran Professional Centre has only one tenant for a 25,000-square-foot building.

Instead, Hatcher said that many towns opt to wait until Aug. 1, the earliest effective date when Delran may auction off at a tax sale the rights to collect the money owed to the township.

Until then, though, township officials are searching for ways to cope with what will be a sharply reduced budget surplus from 1990.

For the 1989 budget year, Delran had a surplus of just under $1.3 million, of which more than $1.1 million was used to cover expenses in 1990. With the 1990 budget shortfall, officials say that a tax increase or service cut is necessary if the township wants to provide the same level of service in 1991.

Dee's Appliances Stalls Lawsuit With A Bankruptcy Filing

Source: Posted: January 30, 1991

Dee's Appliances Inc., the New Jersey retailer with 18 stores in the Philadelphia area, has filed for bankruptcy-court protection in Camden after one of its creditors alleged that merchandise it financed was missing from Dee's warehouses.

Ellis Segal, Dee's executive vice president, said in a statement that the company had sought protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code to block a lawsuit filed Saturday by Transamerica Commercial Finance Corp. in U.S. District Court in Camden.

Transamerica was seeking to prevent Dee's from selling inventory it had financed, Segal said. The bankruptcy-court petition automatically stalls Transamerica's suit.

Segal said Dee's, which has 170 employees, was continuing to operate.

"Dee's intends to reorganize its business and expects to submit a plan of reorganization in the near future," Segal said. "Dee's wishes to assure its customers that it will be conducting its business at all locations."

He said Dee's, based in Delran, would continue to honor customers' down payments on merchandise.

Transamerica contends in its suit that Dee's is in default on an agreement to pay for $5.5 million in inventory, primarily consumer electronics, that Transamerica financed and that is collateral on Transamerica's loan.

Transamerica, based in Chicago, alleges that in November its employees conducted a "spot-check" of Dee's warehouses and found that Dee's was paying off its financing loan on schedule as it sold off inventory.

However, on Jan. 15, Transamerica said, Dee's failed to make a $760,390 payment that was due. On Jan. 17 and 18, Transamerica again inspected Dee's warehouses and found missing about $2.6 million worth of inventory for which it had not been paid under terms of Dee's January 1989 financing agreement with Transamerica, it said.

On Jan. 23, after reviewing Dee's books, Transamerica said, it confirmed that secured merchandise could not be accounted for and demanded that Dee's pay off the entire amount of its financing agreement - $5.5 million.

James M. Matour, a lawyer representing Dee's, said the company had been in operation about 30 years and had been operating profitably until the recent economic downturn.

Last year, Al Rubin closed his chain of discount appliance stores after more than 30 years in business.

"We're of the opinion that with Dee's there is potential for a successful reorganization," Matour said. "They have a long history of profitability."

Owners Of A Bensalem Complex Seek Bankruptcy Court Protection

Source: Posted: April 08, 1991

The owners of Greenwood Square, a Bensalem office complex, have filed for Bankruptcy Court protection in Reading.

The petition, filed March 20 by Greenwood Square Associates, lists liabilities of $32.7 million, including $31 million in secured debt.

Continental Bank, of Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement Systems hold secured mortgages on the office park. Twenty unsecured creditors are listed in the filing, which states that the partnership's assets have not been determined.

The four-building complex on Street Road was developed in 1984. Its largest tenant is Waste Management Inc. The campus also has 17 acres of undeveloped land, and the owners have approvals to expand the project.


Gateway Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Marine Midland Banks Inc., has acquired One Christina Centre, a 17-story office building in Wilmington's Christina Gateway. The 321,500-square-foot building was developed in 1989 by the Christina Gateway Joint Venture, a partnership of the Linpro Co. and Delle Donne & Associates.

The bank, which had been a construction lender and an equity partner in the building, had intended to occupy most of it. However, it has pulled back from those plans and is trying to lease the building.

Richard I. Rubin Co., the Philadelphia real estate development company, is branching into office leasing for other building owners.

Rubin, which owns or manages 4 million square feet of office space in Center City, will take over leasing of the Fidelity Building at 123 S. Broad St.

Joseph F. Coradino, Rubin's senior vice president for leasing, said his company would not have a conflict of interest in leasing a building that competed with its own properties. "We will rely on our integrity," he said.

Samir J. Koukaz, president of the partnerhip that owns the Fidelity Building, said he was not concerned about any such conflict.

Rouse & Associates has sold a 16-acre parcel in its Swedes Run business park in Delran to McKesson Corp., a San Francisco drug distributor and the main supplier of pharmaceuticals and health and beauty products to Wal-Mart.

McKesson plans to build a 223,000-square-foot distribution center on the site for its McKesson West Wholesale Drug division.

The site, which was brokered by Lanard & Axilbund Inc., of Philadelphia, could accommodate an additional 180,000 square feet of development.

Computer Sciences Corp. has leased 57,600 square feet of space in two office buildings on Lincoln Drive in Marlton. The potential value of the long-term lease is more than $11 million, according to CB Commercial Real Estate Services, brokers in the transaction.

Computer Sciences expects to employ 300 workers in the two buildings. The employees will supply software support to the U.S. government for the Reserve Component Automation System.

Conrail has leased 84,000 square feet of industrial space at 3501 Island Ave. in the Eastwick Industrial Park in Philadelphia. The building, now occupied by Huff Paper Co., will replace Conrail's archive-storage facility on Merion Avenue in Philadelphia.

Huff will move to a new building at Naamans Creek Corporate Center in Delaware County in a deal arranged by Jackson-Cross Co.

Prentiss Properties Limited Inc. sold a 21.4-acre parcel in the Commodore 295 Business Center to Lincoln Property Co., which will develop a 200,000- square-foot warehouse and distribution facility with a joint-venture partner, ASB Capital Management Inc.

Unisys Unveils A Line Of Linking Computers

Source: Posted: April 11, 1991

NEW YORK — Unisys Corp. yesterday announced a new line of so-called parallel- processing computers that harness several microprocessors together, can support up to 1,000 users simultaneously and perform up to 118 million transactions per second.

The company also introduced several other pieces of equipment and software products that make it easier for customers to develop custom software.

The new products, Unisys said, will give customers the flexibility to use their customized software on other types of Unisys computers as well as on rival vendors' hardware built around a common "open system" known as the Unix operating system.

Such flexibility is a key concern of businesses and other computer users, who often invest millions of dollars in software for computers made by a company. Once users spend that money, they are locked into the original vendor's computer equipment. If they want to switch to another vendor's equipment, the translation is expensive.

The Unisys parallel processors, coupled with Unisys software, will make Unisys more attractive to customers who might balk at investing millions in a new mainframe computer. Instead of spending several million dollars on a mainframe, Unisys said, a customer can spend from $10,000 to $2 million for a system that will support 10 to 1,000 terminals at once and cost much less to operate than a mainframe.

The parallel-processor machines are used in "on-line transaction processing," in which multiple tasks are done nearly simultaneously. Examples are airline and hotel reservation systems or a bank's computerized network of automated teller machines.

Unisys previously bought parallel-processing computers from Sequent Computer Systems Inc., of Beaverton, Ore., to supplement its line.

The top-end parallel processors Unisys unveiled yesterday will be made by Sequent but will carry the Unisys label. The machines, to be known as the Unisys 6000/75 and 6000/85, will harness together 2 to 30 microprocessors and sell for $145,600 to $214,200.

Unisys will make the lower-cost parallel processors in San Jose, Calif., at a plant formerly owned by Convergent Inc., which Unisys acquired in 1988.

The market for computers that perform on-line transaction processing is booming. The Gartner Group, a Stamford, Conn., research firm, estimates that the market will grow from $35 billion in 1989 to $72 billion in 1994.

Parallel processors and desktop personal computers and workstations are cutting heavily into sales of the mainframe computers that provide the bulk of revenues for Unisys and its rival, IBM Corp.

Unisys has lost $1.3 billion in the last two years. It is hoping to revive its business by offering computers that are less expensive to buy and to operate and that have the flexibility to work with existing software.

J. Carl Masi, Unisys' marketing vice president, said the announcements yesterday were part of a strategy Unisys outlined in October. That strategy calls for Unisys mainframes to serve as "information hubs" in complex networks that Unisys can assemble for its customers from equipment made by Unisys or rival companies. Last month, the company introduced a mainframe that it says is the fastest in the industry.

Mary Hubley, a senior editor of Datapro Research Group Inc. in Delran, said the new products were a "step in the right direction."

"It's good for existing customers," she said, and Unisys "may be able to win a few more customers."

Tax Rate To Remain Stable

Source: Posted: March 19, 1992

An unexpected upswing in the rate of tax collection will keep Delran's municipal taxes stable, if a 1992-93 budget introduced last week by the township council wins final approval.

Until the recession hit, Delran normally had some of New Jersey's most reliable taxpayers, but the usual 98 percent collection rate dropped to 92.9 percent in 1990, according to Township Administrator Jeffrey H. Hatcher. Things changed in 1991, when the rate rose to 95.5 percent, inflating the budget surplus and making $800,000 available to maintain the average municipal tax bill at $462.80, or 0.356 cents per $100 of assessed property value.

A $130,000 budget surplus would still remain in the estimated $5.94 million municipal budget, which represents a 4.9 percent increase over the $5.66 million 1991-92 fiscal plan.

While the state has yet to pass its budget, and the state Division of Local Government Services has told municipalities to anticipate last year's level of discretionary aid, Delran's proposed budget assumes less state aid - $2.56 million - Hatcher said. State discretionary aid was $2.94 million this year. Hatcher said the estimate for next year was lowered because the state aid is closely tied to the rate of tax collection.

"What we tried to do is formulate a responsible budget that would bring a fair portion of discretionary aid," Hatcher said.

Delran taxpayers, pleasantly surprised perhaps by next year's anticipated municipal tax rate, must still await final budgetary numbers from the Board of Education, the county and the county library to know their overall tax bill.

The Board of Education has not yet passed its budget, while county tax rates are usually announced in mid-spring. The Fire Department's budget has already been ratified at $666,363.

The average overall tax bill for Delran residents last year was $2,802.80, not including a $163 minimum annual sewerage bill. The municipal budget is scheduled for a vote on April 22.

Delran's tax collection rate fell in 1990, when about half a dozen major taxpayers, including developers Rouse & Associates of Cherry Hill, Whitesell Enterprises of Mount Laurel and IDC of Englewood Cliffs, fell behind in their payments. Rouse owed $130,000, Whitesell $154,000 and IDC $137,000, tax collector Donna Ibbetson said. The situation improved in 1991, she said, when Whitesell and some of the others paid up.

Hatcher said a tough ordinance passed by the Township Council disallowing new permit applications by tax delinquents "seems to have had some effect."

2 Assembly Members Move Office In Mt. Holly To Delran The Republicans Moved In To A Democratic Area. They Say They Are Now Closer To Constituents.

Source: Posted: July 12, 1992

Republican Assembly members Jose F. Sosa and Priscilla B. Anderson have opened their office for constituent services in Tenby Plaza in Delran.

The office, off Route 130 North, puts their staff much closer to the center of the Seventh District than the old office in Mount Holly, Anderson said. She said the staff had been in Mount Holly since she and Sosa took office Jan. 14.

She said the move to Delran, which took place June 23, would make them more accessible to the 190,000 residents in the district, which covers 13 municipalities in Burlington County and Pennsauken in Camden County.

The two Republicans' chief of staff, Ralph M. Shrom, said there was no political motive behind the move to heavily Democratic Delran, where Republican Tom DiLauro was elected mayor in an upset May 12.

Anderson, 56, and Sosa, 41, won two-year terms in November when their slate, including Senate candidate Brad Smith, defeated the Democratic ticket of Assembly candidates Barbara F. Kalik and Jack Casey and Senate candidate Thomas P. Foy.

Anderson, who was mayor of Willingboro from 1984 to 1991, is a Willingboro Council member. She is an assistant majority whip in the Assembly. She is on the Senior Citizen and Social Services Committee, and is vice chairwoman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Sosa, who recently resigned as mayor of Mount Holly, is a member of the Assembly Economic and Community Development, Agriculture and Tourism Committee and vice chairman of the Housing Committee.

"We'd like to get a lot more involved with local problems," Shrom said. He cited Anderson's and Sosa's supporting the preservation of the 110-bed acute-care unit at Zurbrugg Hospital, Riverside, when the state pushed for a shutdown. In addition, they sponsored Assembly legislation releasing $10 million in low-interest and interest-free loans for the Delran Sewerage Authority from the state's Wastewater Treatment Trust Fund. The loans would pay for the expansion of the plant.

The state Departments of Environmental Protection and Energy approved the expansion plans several weeks ago.

Although the public is becoming aware of the new office, Shrom said district residents would receive at least one mailing this summer and be invited to an open house in early August.

An Ace Walks Away With Shooting Match But The Kid Was Shooting Pretty Good, Too.

Source: Posted: July 19, 1992

They were shooting guns in the same competition, this 10-year-old kid from Cherry Hill and a pickup-driving Maryland man who had six state National Rifle Association awards pinned to his vest.

It wasn't exactly fair.

The Kid, Jeff Jeffers, was by far the youngest of the 12 competitors in the outdoor match yesterday in Delran, Burlington County. This was his first experience trying to hit little steel farm-animal cutouts with a .22-caliber rifle.

The Ace, Gregory Hill, 36, a former New Jersey resident who lives in Sparks, Md., won his NRA awards while living in Southern California. A materials test engineer on leave from a California company, he now is studying mechanical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. The match, sponsored by the Delran Junior Marksmen Club, offered him a chance to stay in practice while getting together with some folks he had not seen in a while.

Of course, the Ace won. But in a field dominated by good-natured men with beer bellies, the Kid didn't exactly embarrass himself; he even hit a tiny steel turkey at 75 yards - considered the most difficult silhouette because of its curved shape.

"At first, I was a little scared of guns," admitted the Kid, who began shooting a year ago. "But, I mean, they don't hurt you if you treat 'em right. It's fun because you get to see how well you can do it. It's powerful. Like, (the bullet) goes real fast. And it's accurate."

For his part, the Ace said that trying to hit little silhouettes of chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams with a small-bore rifle was his favorite shooting event.

"This comes easy for me," he said. "A lot of it is mental preparation. I try to do exercises. Riding a bike is excellent. It gets your heartbeat up. It's important to control your heartbeat."

Aiming his refurbished Winchester Model 52, his trim body pointed 90 degrees to the right, his feet about 18 inches apart, his left foot 75 degrees from the target, the Ace waited for the call.

"Shooters ready . . . Fire!"

Like the other contestants, he had 2 1/2 minutes to knock down five targets with five shots. His impressive performance included hitting six of 10 turkeys at 75 yards, eight of 10 chickens at 40 yards and eight of 10 rams at 100 yards.

"My feet position is a little bit unorthodox," he said. "It's not really correct form. Better coaches than me have told me so. It's just that that feels particularly comfortable for me."

The Ace, an amicable and self-effacing fellow, said he bicycles three to five miles and does 25 pushups every other day to stay in shape for shooting.

"Sometimes when you're in a line, you get a little anticipation of upcoming targets, and your heart'll start pacing, and you can hear that pace all the way through," he said. "Shooting next to someone you're competing against directly, you can sometimes feel the anticipation. And that's translated to an accelerated heartbeat, and that can definitely cause problems."

The Kid, somewhat pudgy in his camouflage T-shirt, jeans and white boat shoes, has not yet reached the Ace's level of skill, conditioning or heartbeat.

The Ace offered some pointers.

"Like a beginner, I think, he needs a little coaching on his stance," he said of the Kid, who this fall will enter the fifth grade at Queen of Heaven School in Erlton. "That is lacking, and without correct form he's gonna be fighting an uphill battle."

The Kid's father, Charles Jeffers, 46, a math instructor at Bishop Eustace Prep in Pennsauken, said he got his son involved in shooting because "it's something we can do together."

The elder Jeffers said he was introduced to guns while growing up on a farm in Gibbstown, Gloucester County.

The Ace understands. He started shooting with his father, too.

"He saw it as a way of getting his kids involved with something that needed a little self-discipline," the Ace said.

Then, walking off with the plastic handgun case he'd chosen as his prize, he talked of entering another shooting match today in Media, Delaware County.

Shopping Center Has New Name, Owners, Pitch The Former Mill Run Plaza Has Been A Symbol Of The Depressed Real Estate Market.

Source: Posted: July 26, 1992

A lingering symbol of the recession and a depressed real estate market, the former Mill Run Plaza off Route 130 North in Delran has come under new ownership and acquired a new name.

The Pegasus Realty Group, a four-person partnership set up especially for this venture, purchased the property in June for $1.23 million at a national auction sponsored by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., according to the Delran tax office.

The FDIC had taken over the small shopping center one year ago after the Merchants Bank of Boston, owner of the mortgage, foreclosed on the property.

The center has been renamed Heritage Square, said partner Joe Kelly. A Bordentown resident, Kelly said he owns commercial and residential property in the area.

His partners - a lawyer, an accountant and a wholesale art supplier - are all area residents, he said.

The purchase of the former Golden Corral restaurant was also included in the deal. Kelly said he was negotiating with a national food chain to fill the vacancy.

Township officials reacted enthusiastically to the turn of events.

"It certainly has the opportunity to be (positive), given the whole scenario the Mill Run shopping center went through," township administrator Jeffrey S. Hatcher said. "We haven't seen a lot of positive things coming from the shopping center."

The six-year-old shopping center has 44,000 square feet of commercial space, but only five of its 30 possible stores are in business. The 10,000 square feet of upstairs office space is empty.

However, Kelly said he was optimistic that the sluggish economy would work in Pegasus' favor because Heritage Square intends to charge $8 to $9 per square foot as opposed to the going rate in 1980 of $13 to $15 per square foot.

Two business offices and two stores have signed leases since last month, he said. By the end of this year, he said, the center could reach 60 percent occupancy, with full occupancy a possibility by July next year.

The new management plans to be more attentive to merchants' needs. Kelly said Pegasus had immediately hired a landscaping company to improve the center's appearance.

"We want people to know right away that we fully intend on turning things around," said Kelly.

With a relatively high average income - the median family income is $50,825, according to the 1990 U.S. Census Bureau - and proximity to affluent Moorestown, Delran is demographically promising for commercial ventures, Kelly said.

Mill Run's troubles were caused by "not just the recession but the lack of management," said Marianne Levy, manager of Steve's Comic Relief, one of the five stores still in business at the center. "There were opportunities to bring new people in, and it was not handled well at the rental level."

The center was about 50 percent full when Comic Relief opened five years ago, Levy said. She added that maintenance and advertisement had also been ignored.

"People aren't seeing the place, and that's something the new owner is trying to address," she said.

Kelly obtained the 9.9-acre property with a $1.2 million bid, although the property was assessed at $3.09 million.

The June auction was arranged by the FDIC after a Dec. 12 auction failed to attract the minimum asking price of $1.6 million, Kelly said.

After a tax appeal filed in early spring with the Burlington County Tax Board, the assessment was reduced in May to approximately $2.3 million, Kelly said.

The tax office said Delran collected $66,661.36 in taxes off the property last year, including $10,827.43 from the Golden Corral.

Young Postal Worker Will Be Sorely Missed In Delran David Renshaw Was "A Helluva Nice Guy," Said A Colleague.

Source: Posted: August 13, 1992

The news came from out of nowhere; it hit the Riverside Post Office like a bombshell.

"It was terrible, it was a shock," said one worker Monday.

The shock was the fatal collapse July 27 of 28-year-old postman David J. Renshaw as he delivered mail in the Swede's Run section of Delran. Renshaw was in his sixth year working out of the Riverside office, which serves Riverside, Delanco and Delran.

An autopsy revealed that Renshaw, an extraordinarily popular and energetic man, had suffered a stroke from an undetected aneurism. A healthy-looking former high school football player, Renshaw and his wife had celebrated the christening of their first child, Briana Nicole, the day before his death on July 31 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Four days after the death, friends and colleagues formed a 90-car procession to pay their respects at Renshaw's burial at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson.

"He was . . . a helluva nice guy," said Richard D. Smith, 24, a postal service employee who heard the bad news after returning from vacation.

"He was a fun-loving guy. You never knew what he would do next," postal worker Donna Bates said.

Renshaw, a veteran football coach in the 100-pound league who came from a large family widely known for their involvement in Riverside political and civic affairs, was the type who made a strong impression on people.

When news arrived of his untimely death, Bates approached fellow postal workers about organizing a trust fund for Briana Nicole.

Bates estimated on Monday that more than $3,000 had been raised so far,$286 of which came from a cake sale conducted Sunday at the Shop-Rite in Delran.

An account in Briana's name at the Burlington County Bank in Delanco will be open for several weeks should others seek to make contributions.

Daria Renshaw is on six months unpaid maternity leave but said that she soon expects to return to her job in the collections department of General Motors Acceptance Corp.

"It's not enough just to say thank you," she said of the fund-raising effort.

The money, she said, will be invested for Briana in her husband's memory.

Delran Doing Its Part To Put People To Work Unemployment In The Township Reached 7.4 Percent In July. The Mayor Hopes Posting Jobs Will Help.

Source: Posted: September 27, 1992

A job listing for a data-entry person and bookkeeper appeared Monday on the bulletin board at the Delran Township municipal building, the first deposit in a job bank created by the mayor.

The listing was in response to a letter sent to 200 area businesses recently by Mayor Tom DiLauro, urging them to advertise openings at the municipal building.

According to the state Department of Labor, Delran's unemployment rate has risen from a 4.9 percent annual rate in 1991 to 7.4 percent this July. The increase mirrors the jump in county unemployment from 5.6 percent last year to 8.5 percent in July. The trend has hit both blue- and white-collar workers.

"If at least one person gets a job out of this, then it's a step in the right direction," DiLauro said.

"I think it's a great idea," said John Schneider, general manager of Kmart on Route 130.

Although the Kmart has no openings now, Schneider said he would participate in the job bank. "With the kind of turnover a store like ours has, we're constantly looking for help."

Other businesses approved of the idea and said they would offer listings - if only they had jobs available.

"We're lucky not to be laying off," said a representative of Riverside Marina, which is down to 14 employees, six below its peak.

"I know at least 15 (unemployed) people," Council Vice President William Smock said. "Most of them are middle management. This recession is so deep and broad that it's whacked everybody."

On the positive side, Smock said, the diversity of Delran's workforce has shielded it from wholesale job cutbacks. "That was always good for the township," he said.

The job bank is a good idea, he said, so long as it does not lead to unrealistic expectations.

"The feeling I get from most people is they're scared," he said.

The Rev. Michael J. O'Connor, pastor of the Church of the Holy Name, which has 1,100 families, attested to the financial and emotional strains his parishioners are facing.

"Some of them had big jobs getting $50,000-60,000-70,000 a year," he said. "Some of them, if they are lucky, got (new) jobs at $25,000."

Littered With Signs, Route 130 An Eyesore, Delran Officials Say The Township Is Getting Serious. It Is Considering Restrictions On Temporary And Political Signs.

Source: Posted: November 08, 1992

Philadelphia businessman Guru Ghosh wanted to sell his Dunkin Donuts franchise in Delran, and the Township Council didn't have a problem with that, agreeing at its Oct. 28 meeting to issue a mercantile license to Ghosh.

But there was one condition. Ghosh had to remove the ugly, dulled-yellow, temporary sign that stood in front of the store within clear view of passersby on Route 130 North.

By Wednesday, after a warning call Tuesday from the township, the sign had been transplanted to an inconspicuous spot far away from the major thoroughfare. It will eventually be removed, though purchase of the franchise remains uncertain, store manager Kamal Das said.

Delran is starting to get serious about the appearance of Route 130, a heavily commercialized strip that divides the township and boasts enough signs to fill a stadium.

In several weeks, the council is expected to start reviewing proposed changes to the 1988 sign ordinance that would, if adopted, restrict temporary and political signs, too.

Temporary signs have become the major target. Between 15 and 20 of them, some with flashing lights, dot businesses along Route 130. Other streets also have them.

Route "130 is the main objection. It's the cumulative effect" that is an eyesore, Councilman Andrew Ritzie said.

Under revisions proposed by Township Attorney Anthony J. Cavuto, businesses would be allowed to use temporary signs for two 30-day periods in any given year.

The present ordinance allows businesses to obtain a temporary sign permit at no cost. It must be renewed after 30 days, though Thelma Espenschied, a controller in the Inspections Department, said merchants regularly ignored the law.

Cavuto said the Township Council did not want to prohibit temporary signs, which are useful advertising tools. But council members want restrictions that would make the route appear cleaner.

Some merchants contacted last week said they were unaware that permits were required for temporary signs and should be renewed every 30 days.

"As far as I was aware, you didn't have to" get a permit, said Charles Verdi, manager of The Greens, a recreation center.

Though The Greens has installed a large permanent sign, Verdi said temporary signs are often more eye-catching. They let businesses advertise special events.

One of The Greens' signs was a parking notice, and the other advertised late-October hayrides, Verdi said.

"Like at Christmas, we're planning to have Santa Claus. It will help to have a temporary sign," Verdi said. "If we are going to be successful, you need to have that means available.

"I do agree it makes the community look cheaper," but with a 60-day restriction, he said, the township might as well eliminate the signs "because it's not going to help us that way."

The council could also adopt ordinance revisions that restrict the size of political signs to 20 square feet and dictate when they could be posted.

The present ordinance says signs must be removed within two weeks after an election, but there is no restriction on when they can be installed. Cavuto said he was proposing setting a 60-day pre-election limit.

Based on recent state court decisions, the ordinance revision would be legal, he said.

New Domestic Order, At A Price Overstuffed Closets? Pros Want To Help

Source: Posted: February 08, 1993

There was no sign outside the Philadelphia Home Show proclaiming "Buy Something Here and It Will Change Your Life," but nearly anyone walking through the vast show would have gotten the message.

Start life anew!

Greet a new morning with better insulation. New faucets. Sharper knives. Improved gutter helmets. An entire wall of Chinese art.

Amid this fine festival of American salesmanship yesterday were three exhibitors - three among 500 - with an unshakable claim on the change-your- life pitch.

The closet organizers.

"You start your day in the closet," observed Janet Stevenson of Closet City in Montgomeryville. "If it's not organized, your day is shot."

Closet organization, as explained by the personnel on hand from Closet City, American Closet Co. and the Closet Works, is a relatively new industry, about a decade old.

The closet firms charge anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars for one small closet to $10,000 or more for multiple closets. And even more to convert entire rooms into mega-closets.

It's a highly competitive business - someone went so far as to call it ''cutthroat" - and one that calls forth a range of skills.

If you think of closet organization as a three-step program, steps two and three - design and installation - are relatively straightforward.

Step one is much trickier. This is the juncture in which someone from the closet-organizing firm must act in the role of a therapist.

A person who calls a closet firm is probably, on some level, crying out for help. Otherwise, the caller would not ask a complete stranger to come to the house and make a count of his or her shoes. (And shirts, pants, suits, dresses and whatever else is packed into the closet targeted for redesign.)

"Actually, most people are frantic when they call," says Stevenson, who has been told by clients that they had not straightened up before her visit ''because I wanted you to see."

Even at this point, a person may still be in denial and not squarely facing up to his or her problem.

"The problem is they own too much clothes," explained John McGill, co- owner of American Closet Co., based in Warminster and Delran. "Not everybody wants to hear this. But you have to tell them: If you don't love it or you don't wear it, throw it out. If you can't part with it, put it down in the basement."

Perhaps because he is an engineer by training (he's now calling himself a closet engineer), McGill is painfully aware that closet organization, artfully as it may be undertaken, is still subordinate to the laws of spatial relations. Only so much fits.

McGill told prospective clients who came to his booth at the Civic Center that he can increase storage space in a closet by 50 to 100 percent through better design. After that, it's up to them.

Once on the job, he tells clients (as forcefully as is prudent) that they'll have no problem turning the new closet into a pit - just like the old one - if better habits are not adopted.

For instance, if it were up to McGill, no man would own more than 24 ties. ''How many can you wear? If you want to buy a new one, give an old one away."

No one would keep shoes on the bottom of a closet. "I don't recommend it. But we can live with it and design around it."

And such items as stamp collections and tennis rackets would be banished from clothes closets.

McGill sometimes sizes up a situation and declines to take a job. One example: the aerobics instructor who owned 120 pairs of sneakers. "What could I do? I told her, 'I give up.' "

Desperate people, apparently, accept closet organizers into their lives as authority figures.

"I had one woman with hundreds of pairs of shoes," says Stevenson of Closet Works. "I stopped counting when I got to 100, and I told her, "I will only design space for 100 pairs of shoes. She listened to me."

Miniature Golf Sets A New Course In South Jersey A Bells-and-windmills Game Looks More Like A Real Sport.

Source: Posted: September 19, 1993

Craig Dear, a professional golfer who has been putting away for years on the greens, was having a little trouble getting the ball up the artificial- turf-covered incline of the 12th hole of his new miniature golf course.

"We may have to soften some of these holes," Dear muttered as he watched the ball smack the brick sides of the incline and roll back down to his feet.

Dear was testing the course with his business partner, Don Cardea, after opening the latest addition to the Somerton Springs Golf Campus in Sewell over the Labor Day weekend.

Cardea, an avid amateur golfer, managed to make a fair slice up the incline and land his ball right next to the hole. He disagreed with Dear's assessment.

"It's supposed to be a challenge, isn't it?" asked Cardea.

The question reflects the latest trend in a pastime that traditionally has drawn people by keeping the fun to the maximum and the challenge to the minimum.

"This definitely isn't the old-fashioned windmill course," Cardea said. ''We didn't want to build a course like that, because we think that people like to be challenged."

There are no papier-mache cowboys, Indians or cartoon figures at Somerton Springs, just landscaped holes that try to approximate the difficulty of the real thing.

"The waterfalls and things are a very nice added attraction," said Kate Verdi, whose family owns the Greens at Delran miniature golf course and amusement center in Delran. "But I think people want to have fun when they come out here. That's the bottom line."

Verdi said the miniature golf course of the future will be a mix of tradition and innovation.

Traditional or not, so long as the weather stays clear, miniature golf keeps drawing people. According to the Miniature Golf Association of America, 90 million people visited the 2,200 miniature golf courses across the country in 1991. Locally,the mini-golf season lasts from about Easter through October.

Testifying to the popularity of the pastime in South Jersey, about a dozen new miniature golf courses opened here this year, among them the Wee Folks Golf Course in Berlin Township, the Deptford Driving Range & Deli on the Green Miniature Golf in Washington Township, the Buccaneer Bay Family Fun Center in Stone Harbor, Gilligan's Island Golf in North Wildwood, Campbell's Golf in Rio Grande, Campbell's Seaville Putter in Seaville, Lighthouse Putter in Oceanview, Harbor Life Golf in Wildwood and Hidden Island in the Shore Mall in Pleasantville.

"It's an industry that is really taking off for people," said Skip Laun, executive director of the Miniature Golf Association of America in Jacksonville, Fla. It's a "multibillion-dollar enterprise" that provides course owners high profits the first year, he said.

Laun attributes the popularity of miniature golf to the opportunity it provides for interaction among participants of all ages.

The pastime still has some catching up to do to its daddy, golf, which boasts about 20,000 courses throughout the United States.

But miniature golf continues to have one advantage over regular golf - a player can spend more than an hour enjoying it for between $3 and $5, while the typical greens fees on regular courses run from $25 to $75.


Taking the typical 36-acre golf course and reducing it to miniature can be expensive. Most of the new mini-golf courses are designed by architects or planners and can cost between $75,000 and $500,000 to build, according to Laun.

"The traditional courses are still as popular as ever," he said. "But these new country-club-type courses are changing the game from an amusement into a sport. All types are being built everywhere, from in resorts to in large corporate headquarters."

The diversion, in one sense, is returning to its roots. It started out about 1915 as a strictly miniaturized version of real golf at cramped seaside boardwalks and inland amusement promenades. About the mid-1920s, the game began to be known as "midget golf" and took on a more honky-tonk atmosphere as distractions such as signs, blinking lights and music were added to attract a broader audience.

The Somerton Springs miniature course features 18 holes and takes golfers through a series of challenges, including a waterfall and a sand trap and various undulations that wind through a perfectly landscaped 1 1/2-acre area. Next to it is an extensive putting range and golf school.

Despite its high-tech appearance, the only motorized part of the course is a waterfall, which operates much the way a lawn sprinkler pumps water.

Robert Sterrett, vice president of International Golf & Recreation Inc. of Lake Harmony, Pa., which designed and built the Somerton Springs course and others throughout the region, said people are "just bored" with typical miniature golf courses.

The challenging 12th hole, with the incline that defied Dear, is his company's signature hole - the one that he said gets the most complaints but also gets the same players coming back for more.

"People will complain about it, but it's something that they end up feeling that they have to come back again and try to master," Sterrett said. ''That's the beauty of the way the game is being played now, and people seem to really like it.

"It used to be that miniature golf was something that you would take your kids to and get through it as quickly as you could and hope that they didn't ask to do it again for a while," Sterrett said. "Now it's a whole new challenge."

Allen Groff of Glassboro, who took his three children to the Somerton Springs course over the Labor Day weekend, said they might have been a little too challenged by some of the holes. They "had a little trouble," he said.

"But the course is a little different than the mini-golf they are used to playing down the Shore," Groff said. "I think once they get used to it, they will really enjoy it. I did, but then again, I regularly play golf."

Some people, however, are not so quick to jump on the bandwagon for more difficult miniature golf courses. They dismiss the adventure and palm trees of the newer courses as nothing more than a fad.

The Schoellkopf family, considered pioneers in the field, have operated a number of courses along the East Coast for more than 40 years. And they say they operate with a traditionalist spirit.

Herb Schoellkopf, the 73-year-old patriarch, was one of the first mini-golf course builders in the 1950s to create courses with themes, including outer space, safaris and dinosaurs.

His Old Pro Golf Course, on Route 70 in Cherry Hill, is one of the oldest in the Camden County area with a theme.

The idea prompted hundreds of miniature golf course owners to begin doing the same thing, according to Rick Schoellkopf, who works with his father as the general manager of the family's half-dozen or so courses in Ocean City, Md., and Rehoboth Beach, Del.

"I think trying to get the ball out of a sand trap can take the fun out of a good game of miniature golf for the average 5-year-old," Rick Schoellkopf said.

Old Pro features two themes - the Old West and the circus. In each case, lifesize characters or ornaments guard many of the 18 holes. A sheriff, for instance, protects a hole in the Old West course; a springing clown does the same in the adjacent circus course.

The movements of the characters and other items at each hole are controlled by motors and gears that use hidden belts, said Greg Doughty, groundskeeper for the course.

Similar setups can be found at most miniature golf courses, he said.

"I've been coming here since I was a kid with my parents," said Frank Deevers, 22, of Marlton. "I wouldn't think of going to a different kind of course, because this is the epitome of miniature golf to me, with all the silly characters and stuff. Otherwise, I would just play regular golf."

That is the Schoellkopf philosophy, too.

"When miniature golf got started, the idea was that the course was a miniature of a real golf course. As time went on, it evolved into a less challenging, more fun game," Rick Schoellkopf said. "I find it interesting that right now the trend has gone full circle back to where it started, but I think it's a temporary thing."

Dolores DeSantis of Maple Shade, who often takes her two children to the Mall Golf course inside the Moorestown Mall, agreed.

"Playing miniature golf is something fun for the kids to do," she said. ''They save their challenges for things like soccer and baseball. This is strictly for fun."

DeSantis said it is the brightly colored wishing wells, grandfather clock and giant bronze-colored Statue of Liberty replica that adds to the fun in the mall's course.

"I think you need that kind of color when you play miniature golf," she said. "It wouldn't be the same without it."

Fund-raisers Seeking One For The Books The Friends Of The Cinnaminson Library Need $36,000 More For The New Reading Room.

Source: Posted: January 09, 1994

CINNAMINSON — Planted in the weathered tufts of grass on the front lawn of the Cinnaminson Library stands a six-foot rectangular sign with a thermometer painted on it.

The sign looks as cold and forlorn as the residents who race indoors to fight off the winter chill. And the reading on the painted thermometer is just as dismal as the real ones indicating the frigid temperatures South Jersey has been braving.

The painted thermometer marks the funds collected for the new children's reading room at the library.

With little more than the bulb of the thermometer filled in red ink, the library clearly has a long way to go to reach its goal of $50,000. In eight months, only about $14,000 has been collected to provide furniture for the reading room so it can open this spring.

Now Friends of the Cinnaminson Library, the group spearheading the fund- raising, is planning a more aggressive attack, reaching out to all residents who use the library, including those from other areas.

In the next few weeks, businesses in Cinnaminson, Delran, Palmyra and Riverton will receive mailings requesting donations. Banks, professionals and corporations will also be asked for large contributions.

And on Jan. 22, from 8 p.m. to midnight at the KT Cafe in Delran, the Friends will hold a "Beef and Brew and More" event. All who pay the $15 fee can enjoy food as well as ballroom and folk dancing.

"It really does take a long time to raise $50,000, and it's certainly not something that comes overnight, so I'm not surprised we haven't reached our goal yet," said Edgar Stern, president of the Friends. "Hopefully we'll get there by May."

Construction of the reading room started in 1991, financed with $280,000 in county and township grants. Space for children at the library is being increased from a 900-square-foot corner on the main floor to 3,600 square feet in the basement.

Construction estimates for carpeting, wiring, lighting and a dumbwaiter to shuttle books from the main floor ran about $265,000. Library officials thought that left them with $15,000 for the estimated $50,000 cost of shelves, tables and chairs for the reading room.

Then an architect told them the money had to be set aside in a contingency fund to cover any construction overruns.

So now the library is filled with fliers asking for donations. Near the children's section stands a big jug with a sign reading, "Kids, please throw coins in the jar for your new children's reading room."

And the rectangular sign out front serves as a constant reminder to passers-by of the need for funds.

"A good library is the most important thing we can provide for the intellectual and cultural enrichment of our community's children," Stern said.

Community Theater Groups Playing For Time Active For More Than 5 Decades, They Work To Keep The Curtain Up.

Source: Posted: July 31, 1995

Debbie Mastroianni turned on the house lights as Frank Gohr sat down in a first-row seat. Barbara Wakemen took the cue.

Strolling to center stage, Wakemen, 61, of Washington Township, took advantage of the moment, ogling the other two with a dramatic shrug.

"Years ago, when I directed Dracula here, we created a small sensation by making the vampire disappear on stage before everyone's eyes," Wakemen recalled, gesturing with her hands. "No trap doors or fake smoke, either.

"We did the illusion with timing, flair and old-fashioned ingenuity. We left people wondering, 'How'd they do that?' That's what community theater is all about."

Wakemen and her colleagues at the Sketch Club Players Theater in Woodbury are preparing for the troupe's 63d season. Founded in 1933, it is the oldest community theater group in South Jersey. Other longtime groups include the Haddonfield Plays and Players, which is in its 61st season; the Burlington County Footlighters in Cinnaminson, nearing its 58th year, and the Village Playbox of Haddon Heights, preparing for its 55th season.

Despite their longevity, community theaters in South Jersey have also had their share of tough times, conceded Mastroianni, 41, the Sketch Club's outgoing president and a former teacher from Glendora. Gohr, 48, a candle salesman from Pitman, concurred.

This is one reason Mastroianni, Gohr and Wakemen got together the other day to discuss the upcoming season and the group's future in Woodbury.

"I don't think the residents of Woodbury want us to go out of town, but we have problems that just won't go away," Wakemen said.

The Sketch Club's aging theater, the former West End School, was built in 1889. The group converted it into a 98-seat theater in 1952, when it was 63 years old. Today, the school is 106 and in need of repair, Wakemen said.

Gohr said it would cost $50,000 to have the brick building repointed. Air- conditioning units would cost $10,000 more. The Gloucester County freeholders once offered to help out with roof repairs, but Wakemen said roofers wouldn't touch the job because the building is too old. Three years ago, an architect said it would cost $200,000 to renovate and expand the building, Wakemen said.

"We've depleted everything in our reserves for regular maintenance," Mastroianni said. "The building is getting progressively worse."

"We have a two-year window," Gohr said. "Five, if we're lucky."

There are other problems, too.

The Sketch Club's membership is shrinking, Wakemen conceded. "The old guard is gone and we need to get more people in the 25-to-30 age group," Wakemen said. "We now have 75 members. When I joined in 1956, we had 125 members."

Chuck Bennett, 37, of Philadelphia, the Sketch Club's new president, said it's time for fresh ideas and a major recruiting effort.

"We've had a loyal customer base, but people are moving away," Bennett said. "We've got to become more successful at what we're doing. We can start by letting people know that we exist."

Members of the Haddonfield Plays and Players said they empathize with the Sketch Club's plight. Patricia King, 73, a member of Haddonfield Plays and Players since 1948, recalled when her group's membership was about 1,200 in the 1960s. But, within 20 years, it had dwindled to 100.

"We've been fortunate, the younger people took command and turned things around," King recalled. "I've got to give them credit. Today, our membership is back to 300 and we're growing. . . . Why, I think community theater is on the verge of making a comeback."

King also had a hand in the group's resurrection. During the 1980s, King, then president, and two other board members visited a Haddonfield bank to ask for a $100,000 loan, she recalled. The group, which had been using a 50-seat farmhouse for a theater, wanted to build a performing arts center.

"Not surprisingly, the bank didn't want to give us the loan," King said. ''We were persistent. We said the loan would give us the energy to produce the kind of plays that people would come and see.

"One banker was sympathetic. There were long discussions. A ton of paperwork. The fact that we were from Haddonfield helped. We got the loan. Some people were amazed."

In 1987, Plays and Players opened its $100,000 performing arts center with 140 seats on South Atlantic Avenue in Haddonfield. Since then, the group has had steady growth, according to Carolyn Tishler, 30, of Cherry Hill.

"Now that we have the center, we have to produce 12 months out of the year because we have a mortgage to pay," Tishler said. "But, since we own the building, it is also a source of income. . . . We rent it out to other groups when we aren't staging a production."

Jim Alexander, 65, who has been involved with the Village Playbox of Haddon Heights for 45 years, said he isn't sure whether Haddonfield's success is momentary or long-term, "but it's been good for South Jersey in general."

Alexander, a former president of the Village Playbox, is also president of the New Jersey Theater League, a statewide organization of community theaters.

"New Jersey is like two states when it comes to community theater," Alexander said. "There's the theater south of Trenton, and then there's the theater north of Trenton and all of the influences of New York City."

With 50 active members and 150 subscribers, the Village Playbox stages productions at Haddon Heights High School, the First Presbyterian Church of Haddon Heights and the First United Methodist Church of Haddon Heights.

"Frankly, I'm glad we don't have our own permanent theater and a mortgage to pay," Alexander said. "At the high school auditorium, which seats 500, our audiences, which average 100 or so, often get lost, though.

"This hasn't prevented us from doing good shows. It's not as simple as the Mickey Rooney-Andy Hardy days: 'Hey, gang, let's put on a show.' "

Community theater in South Jersey has survived because of a handful of nitty-gritty people, including Ruth Iversen of the Burlington County Footlighters in Cinnaminson, he said.

Iversen, 73, has been a member of the Footlighters for 36 years and still directs productions for the group. The Footlighters have leased a two-room former schoolhouse from the Cinnaminson Board of Education since 1985 and renamed it The Playhouse.

"Before then, we were vagabonds," Iversen said. "We used Palmyra High School, Riverton High School, a community center in Delran and an old movie house in Moorestown."

Today, with 450 members, the Footlighters are having problems attracting younger people, and the theater's limited seating capacity of 102 is hampering growth, Iversen said.

"We'd like to be able to seat 200, but there's no room to grow," Iversen said. "It's a great location, but we're locked in.

"Our problems aren't dissimilar to the problems other groups have had. This is why I've been so interested in Haddonfield's turnaround. . . . I also know what the Sketch Club is experiencing."

South Jersey theater groups have watched, with interest, the growth of the Oaklyn-based theater group, Puttin' on the Ritz, under the guidance of Bruce Curless, 46, a former member of the Burlington County Footlighters. Curless broke away from the group in 1985 to form Puttin' on the Ritz and now claims an annual budget of $500,000 and 4,400 subscribers.

But because Curless' full-time staff is salaried and some performers receive token allowances, the Ritz is considered semiprofessional, not amateur like the community theater groups.

With an annual budget of $22,000, the Sketch Club can't afford a full-time staff like the Ritz, Gohr conceded as he sat in the first row of the group's aging theater.

"We need to prove ourselves," Gohr said. "We need to turn a profit, then perhaps we could interest a bank into granting us a loan. With a larger building, we could consistently fill 250 seats."

What keeps Gohr going in community theater?

"Hope beats eternal," he said, rising from his seat, stepping on stage. ''We're all amateurs, but I guess I'm always hoping that one of these days someone will be looking for a fat, middle-aged man to cast in one of their productions."

Gohr turned his head to show off his profile.

"What do you think? Do I look like NYPD material?"


* Burlington County Footlighters, Route 130, Cinnaminson. Box office, 829-7144.

* Haddon Heights Village Playbox. Information, 547-8284.

* Haddonfield Plays & Players, 957 S. Atlantic Ave., Haddonfield. Box office, 429-8139.

* Sketch Club Players, 433 Glover St., Woodbury. Box office, 848-8089.

A Fierce Fight For Fun And Games A New Center Joins The Competition For Family Recreation. Its Miniature Golf, Go-carts And Batting Cages Mean More Choices.

Source: Posted: May 12, 1996

MOUNT LAUREL — How many bumper boats and golf balls can South Jersey drive?

The competition for local family entertainment dollars is going to get hotter this spring with the anticipated opening of the Laurel Falls Golf & Family Fun Center on Route 38. It opened its video-arcade gates Wednesday, and its other attractions are scheduled to be up and running by mid-May, said manager Kathy Ogan.

Across from the new Burlington County College TEC center, Laurel Falls is easily spotted by the large artificial red rock formations that sprouted recently on the south side of Route 38.

The rocks are part of the center's 36-hole ``adventure'' miniature golf course and bumper-boat pond waterfall, behind which are a winding go-cart course, a batting cage and a driving range.

``We wanted to offer something for the whole family,'' Ogan said. ``The key is to bring the family back together and get to where everybody's not bored to tears.''

The 25-acre facility, built by Game Day Partners of Moorestown, will be one of the largest in the area, but it isn't alone.

The Malibu Grand Prix on Fellowship Road in Mount Laurel has offered go-cart racing for nearly 18 years, said manager Jesse Peters. And the Greens at Delran, on Route 130, founded in 1989, also offers the ``fab five of family entertainment,'' said owner Chas Verdi, referring to miniature golf, the driving range, go-carts, bumper boats and a video arcade.

Ogan said Laurel Falls would benefit from its newer and larger facilities, about twice the size of the Greens'. But Verdi said he was confident that regulars would return to the Greens after checking out Laurel Falls because of convenience and cheaper prices.

``We service two different highways,'' he said.

In addition, Verdi has invested about $400,000 in the Greens over the last year, including a $70,000 loan resulting from Burlington County's plan to revitalize the Route 130 corridor.

Most of the money, he said, went to installing a new 18-hole ``adventure'' miniature golf course, not to be confused with the flatter, less exotic ``putt-putt'' golf.

``The expectation levels [for miniature golf] have tripled over the years,'' said Verdi. ``You need palm trees and waterfalls, bigger holes, longer holes, more landscaping. I brought 35 palm trees up from Florida, and they're probably not even going to last the winter.''

Ogan said that many of the Falls' fleet of 18-mile-an-hour go-carts have two seats, allowing younger children, usually barred from carts by height requirements elsewhere, to be accompanied by an adult.

Peters said the well-established Malibu, with its fleet of high-speed cars, does not feel threatened by the competition.

``The others just have go-carts. We have virage cars that can go up to 40 miles an hour,'' said Peters. ``We're the only ones that can offer the real thrill of racing.''

Verdi doesn't doubt that Laurel Falls will be a popular destination this summer. But he was skeptical about whether New Jersey's short warm-weather season, from April to October, would allow Game Day to recoup its investment on the facility, which is twice as large as his. Ogan would not comment on the amount of Game Day's investment. But Verdi estimated the facility cost $3 million to $3.5 million.

``It's a weather-oriented business, and there's only so much money you can earn in one day,'' he said.

Ogan said Game Day, which might be looking into building more family fun centers in South Jersey, hoped to counter the financial ills of New Jersey's long winters by building an outdoor skating rink.

``It's in the plans for next year,'' she said. ``We're waiting to see how this goes.''

Cinnaminson Looking To Erect Welcome Signs

Source: Posted: July 13, 1997

CINNAMINSON — You can't see it yet, but there's a welcome sign on the township's horizon.

Or, about 15 of them if all goes well.

In an effort to make the drive through residential and business districts more direct and aesthetic, the township's Economic Development Committee has launched a fund-raising effort to buy roadside signs for major borders and landmarks.

``We need something that identifies us,'' said Township Committee member Bill Kollar, who heads the Economic Development Committee. ``Something attractive that really welcomes you.''

Although, there are a few generic green-and-white state highway signs where Routes 130, 73 and 90 run through the township, Kollar said, they're ``just horrible'' eyesores. And, more important, they do little to clarify those vague strip mall-style directions such as, ``you know you're here when you hit the WaWa on 130.''

The signs of the future will look more rustic, more hospitable. They'll say: ``Cinnaminson Township Welcomes You,'' etched into a 6-foot by 4-foot plank of solid, sandblasted redwood. Each $2,000 marker will display the profile of an American Indian in a headdress, the township's official logo, and will be trimmed with the township colors of blue and yellow, according to the committee's design plan.

And, with enough community support, the signs will be scattered all around the township, at major parks and off-the-highway entry points, said Elizabeth Matt, a member of the Economic Development Committee. The signs will be similar to those in neighboring communities such as Delran, Pennsauken, Willingboro and Palmyra.

The first signs will appear on Route 130 south coming from Delran, at 130 north entering from Pennsauken and at the triangle intersection of Branch Pike and Moorestown-Riverton Road.

The Committee is hoping to place smaller signs at River Road north, coming from Delran; River Road south and Riverton Road, coming from Riverton; and Church Street, coming from Moorestown; as well as at the township's major parks, such as Memorial and Wood Parks.

The committee has already received about $500 from local businesses, and hopes to have funding for three signs by October, Kollar said.

Instead of using taxpayer money or soliciting funds from one corporate sponsor, the committee decided to make the project more community-oriented, Kollar said. Residents and businesses will soon receive a mailing asking for contributions of $10, in return for a patron's decal.

Larger contributions, from $100 to $500, will reward these contributors by placing their names on a plaque that will be hung in the Township Hall. The project's cost is estimated at more than $10,000.

Community members agreed that road signs will solve certain longtime problems.

Workers at Riverton Pool and Garden Center, between Cinnaminson and Delran at Route 130 and Taylor's Lane, have grown accustomed to giving such directions as: ``We're in between Triboro Pontiac [in Delran] and the Harvest Diner,'' said Ken Howley, the store's manager. But the new sign, which is likely to go up right near the store ``will be a nice landmark,'' he said, ``as long as they don't put it right in front of us.''

For the police, it will mean the end of occasional border disputes with other police forces, said Sgt. James Pereda of the Cinnaminson Police Department. ``We won't have to fight over whose accident it is anymore,'' he said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION * For more information about the Cinnaminson Township Sign Fund, call Township Clerk Grace Campbell at 869-1623.

Computer-industry Watcher Sold To Conn. Firm Datapro Was A Mcgraw-hill Company. The Publisher Cited Strategic Plans As The Reason For The Sale.

Source: Posted: July 19, 1997

Datapro Information Services, a Delran firm with 320 employees that tracks developments in the computer industry, has been sold to a Connecticut company, the Gartner Group.

Datapro's owner, McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc., said the firm is being sold for an undisclosed sum because it no longer fits into the publishing giant's ``strategic'' plans.

``We have about 100 products and brands . . . and we are always looking at [revising] our portfolio of businesses,'' said Neil Allen, a McGraw-Hill spokesman.

McGraw-Hill publishes Business Week magazine and owns Standard & Poor's Corp., the prominent corporate credit-rating company. McGraw-Hill, with 1996 revenues of $3.1 billion and a profit of $496 million, also is the nation's biggest publisher of textbooks for elementary and secondary schools.

About 190 Datapro employees work at the Delran headquarters. Allen could not say whether any face layoffs as a result of the sale.

No one from the Gartner Group, of Stamford, Conn., could be reached for comment yesterday. Gartner provides market research and analysis to communications and information-processing companies.

The sale is expected to be finalized this summer. McGraw-Hill is not selling its National Software Testing Laboratories, which employ about 50 people in Conshohocken.

Route 130: On Road To Recovery? There's A Plan To Bring Dead Spaces In The Burlco Corridor Back To Life.

Source: Posted: December 21, 1997

New York businessman Charles Aug didn't think he could go wrong when he bought the Willingboro Plaza shopping center on Route 130 in 1984.

True, the plaza was in decline, with visible cracks in the concrete and about half of the 60 tenant spaces vacant. But at $5 million - about one-fifth its estimated market value - Aug thought the price was right.

So, too, he thought, was his idea of turning the center around by bringing in nontraditional, off-price retailers.

He figured wrong.

``After a couple years, he bailed out,'' recalled Jack Paolin, a South Jersey public relations specialist Aug hired to generate consumer interest in the center.

Today, Willingboro Plaza, which is owned by a private investment group, is a virtual ghost town.

The Route 130 corridor through Burlington County is rich with stories of eager investors who thought they could buck the downward commercial spiral that began in the 1960s, only to be swept away by it.

Their failed dreams lie in the many dead or dying strip centers and other dilapidated and obsolescent buildings that punctuate the 16-mile-long corridor from Cinnaminson to Florence.

Since January 1996, a county-appointed task force has been chronicling the deterioration with the aim of devising a comprehensive blueprint to revitalize the corridor.

``We have pretty much identified those [deteriorating] points,'' said Mark Remsa, principal planner in the Burlington County Office of Land Use Planning, and head of the task force. ``We have now started getting into the strategic recommendations.''

If some of those are implemented, new homes will sprout from many of the pockets of blight, along with offices and warehouses.

``We are essentially creating a master plan, but an action plan also, which is going to recommend how things could be done, rather than coming up with an idea,'' said Remsa.

Remsa presented an 88-page summary of his task force's 500-page report last week.

County surveys show about 19 percent of commercial space - an estimated 1.2 million square feet - is vacant in the Burlington County corridor of 12 communities.

The real estate industry normally considers a 5 percent vacancy rate acceptable, Remsa noted.

The corridor includes other highways, such as Routes 541 and 543. However, nearly all of the dead space is concentrated along Route 130, the ``spine'' of the corridor, giving motorists a negative perception and deterring redevelopment, said Remsa.

``If I'm a businessman and I'm driving through and I see these vacant stores, the message is `I don't want to do business here because this is economically depressed,' '' he said. ``But if you look into the communities, these are lovely communities - hidden gems.''

The task force worked with a transportation study that the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission conducted on its behalf.

In its report, submitted in August, the planning agency calls for investing $300 million over the next two decades to reconfigure 44 intersections along Route 130 to improve access, traffic flow and safety.

* The Burlington County segment of the corridor comprises: Palmyra, Cinnaminson, Riverton, Delran, Riverside, Willingboro, Delanco, Beverly City, Edgewater Park, Burlington Township, Burlington City, and Florence.

The 12 towns total 59 square miles, and had a 1990 population of 129,089, one-third of the county's residents.

Route 130, one of the county's oldest arteries, was the desired location for retailers and motel owners into the 1960s. The Willingboro Plaza, the original wing of which was opened in 1959 as part of the former Levittown, was the center of South Jersey retailing.

``In 1960, when JFK was running for president, and he came to this area to speak, and the hottest area was the Willingboro Plaza; that's where I saw him speak,'' Paolin said.

The strip's decline has been blamed in part on the opening of the Cherry Hill and Moorestown Malls in the early 1960s and the opening of Interstate 295, with a population shift to towns along the interstate, as well as Routes 38 and 73.

The deterioration has been most acute in Willingboro. The borough's commercial vacancy rate is 57 percent, most of it at the 340,000-square-foot plaza, and the 200,000-square-foot Village Mall.

Edgewater Park has the second-highest vacancy rate at nearly 25 percent, most of it at the former Kings Shopping Center, and the struggling Metro Mall.

The vacancies in those two towns, when combined with the empty 50-acre Holiday Lakes recreational facility in adjacent Delanco, have created something of a ``no-man's land'' in the central portion of the corridor, said Remsa.

The three towns represent about a quarter of the corridor's commercial acreage.

The task-force report also pinpoints smaller pockets of blight from Burlington City to the Rancocas Creek.

The vacancy rate in Cinnaminson at the extreme southern end is also high - nearly 24 percent.

However, Cinnaminson, Delran, and Riverton have ``much stronger affluence'' and ``the dynamics of the retail-service aspects are much more vibrant than in the central part of the corridor . . . where nothing is happening,'' said Remsa.

Acme Markets, for instance, is set to relocate to a larger 66,000-square-foot space in the retail complex adjacent to the empty Clover store in Cinnaminson, breathing new life into that center.

The report recommends razing buildings and rezoning many of the blighted sites - especially at the central and southern ends - from commercial to mixed uses, including residential, warehousing, light industrial and entertainment.

While there is a glut of commercial space, the vacancy rate for industrial properties - including basic and light manufacturing and warehousing - in the corridor is less than 1 percent.

``That means industrial space is at a premium,'' he said. ``So, it's not all doom and gloom in the 130 corridor.''

With the retail center of South Jersey shifting from the central and southern ends to the Cherry Hill-Moorestown-Mount Laurel area, the task force essentially is recommending that the strip reinvent itself, including some new retail outlets.

However, attracting such investments in an older area could prove a daunting task, according to Steven Cochrane, director of regional forecasting at Regional Financial Associates in West Chester, Pa.

``Investors normally go to the farther suburbs where there is more wealth, where there is a more dynamic population, with more home building,'' he said.

Based on the acreage of undeveloped land, the task force identified Burlington Township, Florence, Delran, Cinnaminson and Delanco as communities with the best potential for development.

Burlington Township and Florence in the northern end are seen as the emerging hot spots, based on plans to build a food distribution center and a turnpike interchange spanning both towns.

One of the strengths of Route 130 for potential developers is the ease of access it provides to other major highways, according to the report. But the highway itself has problems, the planning commission noted.

For starters, it has many ``T'' intersections.

``They have only three legs - side roads that come up to the highway and don't go across,'' explained John Ward, the commission's senior transportation planner. ``If you want to go across you have to go to a jug handle. That limits mobility. It also makes emergency response more difficult.''

Long stretches of median barriers also restrict mobility, preventing that motorists from turning left, said Ward.

William Haines, the county freeholder director, said the freeholders' first step would be to work with the communities on developing an overall master plan ``that makes sense.''

``They all have to work together to make sure their goals and plans complement each other,'' said Haines. ``If one town is zoning open space, the next town shouldn't be industrial.''

Purchase Prevents Burlco's Pursuit Of Site Officials Pictured A Regional Hub For Food Distribution. A Firm Bought The Land.

Source: Posted: March 30, 1998

For more than a decade, Burlington County officials have dreamed of a massive regional food-distribution center along the Delaware River in Florence and Burlington Townships.

Officials had hoped the C. William Haines Distribution Center would bring 2,800 permanent jobs, as one of five ``jewels'' in a sweeping redevelopment of the Route 130 corridor.

Earlier this month, a private developer bought the land that the county had in mind.

With that sale, the county's negotiations to buy it ended - but its hopes of redevelopment in the area are still alive.

Ever since county officials learned about the deal on March 11 - five days after it was completed - they have said they are happy about it, as long as it results in a larger tax base and more jobs for the county.

No one knows just how many jobs might be created, or when, or how much tax revenue could be generated; the county had projected $7 million a year from the previously proposed food center.

Whitesell Construction Co., of Delran, the new owner of the 660 acres, has not announced tenants or specific plans for the site. But Whitesell president Robert Richards said possibilities included light industry and warehouses; the developer is still considering food-distribution operations.

And, Richards said last week, naming the facility after the late Burlington County politician C. William Haines (probably a distant relative of Freeholders Philip E. Haines or William S. Haines Jr.) is still a possibility.

The company wants to start developing the $12.25 million tract as soon as possible. Richards said an announcement could come within weeks, after the developer has met with county and local officials.

``We are really enthusiastic about this project, not just for Whitesell, but for Burlington County,'' Richards said. ``This is where we live.''

Whitesell has been interested in the property for at least a decade. In the early 1990s, the firm was set to buy the land and lease part of it to the county. But the real-estate market disintegrated - and so did that project.

The company did complete the sprawling Laurel Corporate Center I on the south side of Route 38, adjacent to Interstate 295. But by the early '90s, another planned Whitesell development - Laurel Corporate Center II, planned for Moorestown and Mount Laurel north of Route 38 - was foundering.

A lot has changed since then, according to James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. ``The real-estate market has sprinted forward,'' he said. And the Florence-Burlington Township site ``probably has become much more valuable in the market much faster than anyone thought.''

* A necklace with five jewels, connected by a chain. That's how county officials see the Route 130 corridor, with five main project sites linked by a proposed Camden-to-Trenton light-rail line.

While some parts of the corridor are experiencing rapid growth, others are losing population and jobs. Of the 12 municipalities in the corridor, Delran, Burlington Township and Florence are among the five county communities expected to grow by more than 30 percent between the 1990 census and 2020, according to a study conducted in 1993 by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. But half of the 10 county municipalities expected to lose population in the same period are also in that corridor between Cinnaminson and Florence.

While more than half of Burlington County's municipalities are dealing with growth issues, as farms are replaced with mostly residential and retail development, most of the riverfront towns are nearly built out and are addressing redevelopment.

Along the 12 miles of Route 130 between Cinnaminson and Florence are car dealerships and diners, new supermarkets and vacant strip malls, but few open spaces. That is a contrast with Burlington County arteries such as Routes 38 and 70, where shopping centers are interspersed with gleaming corporate campuses.

Between 1980 and 1990, the corridor lost 29 percent of its manufacturing jobs, although the number of jobs overall grew by 15 percent. That job growth rate was one-third of the rate for Burlington County and half the rate for all of South Jersey.

The land that Whitesell just bought is the only site that has not previously been developed.

The other sites:

* County officials call it the Golden Triangle - a vacant industrial area in Riverside. Unlike the other projects, there are no current proposals or public-private partnerships to revive the area, a ``brown field'' that would require an environmental cleanup.

* Until fires in 1927 and 1931, Burlington Island was home to Island Beach, a vibrant amusement park. Now a Bala Cynwyd developer wants to purchase the island, owned by Burlington City, and turn it into a golf course, nature center, restaurant, marina and conference center. The proposal has environmentalists upset. But State Sen. Diane Allen and Assemblyman Herbert Conaway Jr. have introduced competing bills to allow development on the island.

* The former Roebling Steel mills in Florence closed for good in 1981. Two years later, a federal Superfund cleanup began. An Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman said it would take five years and $80 million more to finish cleaning the site.

* Willingboro Plaza, once a regional retail center, is boarded up and dotted with graffiti. Like the steel mill and the Riverside area, it is considered a ``brown field,'' requiring environmental cleanup.

A sign in front of the site says that a ``power shopping center'' is coming soon. ``I wouldn't want to say wishful thinking,'' Township Manager Norton Bonaparte said of the sign. ``Positive affirmation, maybe. A marketing tool.''

Plans to redevelop the plaza also fell victim to the market downturn of the last decade. Any new plans would have to deal with asbestos and underground fuel tanks on the blighted property.

The proposed light-rail line, meanwhile, has been criticized by many residents of the towns it would cut through, as well as by Democratic State Assemblymen Conaway and Jack Conners.

The all-Republican Board of Freeholders and Republican State Sen. Allen, however, see the $450 million rail line as a key to giving new life to the corridor, and state officials have said it will be built.

Whitesell president Richards said that the rail line and the New Jersey Turnpike interchange now under construction in the area were factors in the company's decision to buy the land.

* The idea of a food-distribution center in New Jersey is about 20 years old. Its apparent death has been remarkably quiet.

Originally, the center was planned for North Jersey, but real-estate costs were prohibitive. In the mid-1980s, attention turned to South Jersey and eventually to Burlington County.

In 1990, Gov. James J. Florio disbanded the state South Jersey Food Distribution Authority, citing cost-cutting. From then until earlier this month, the county continued to pursue the property.

Analysts take the sale as good news, saying it demonstrates that the real-estate market has rebounded, that a private company can get the distribution center running faster than the public sector - and without public money.

And it could mean the food-distribution center in South Philadelphia - the fourth largest in the country with about 400 acres - is safe from competition.

The New Jersey food-distribution center proposal was always reliant on luring business from Philadelphia.

``If it's New Jersey's gain and Philadelphia's loss, there's no net gain,'' said Steven Cochrane, director of regional forecasting at Regional Financial Associates in West Chester.

Richard Harris, a professor of political science and public policy at Rutgers-Camden, said that government should get involved in commercial projects only when the private sector will not.

So, with the sale of the property, he said the county should look for other ways to spend its money.

Officials planned to tap into a $20 million pool of state money for development of the food center. Without a need for that, the county is looking for other projects where that money could be used.

The Decay Of Development Along Rte. 130 In Burlco

Source: Posted: February 28, 1999

Known first by such names as Crescent Boulevard, Burlington Turnpike and State Highway 25, it became one of the first roads in the U.S. highway system in 1927 and was assigned the number 130.

In those days, Route 130 rolled past farms and fields and a few older, established towns, eventually becoming an 86-mile connection between the ferry to Delaware at Deepwater in Salem County and New Brunswick, where it merged with Route 1, the main north-south thoroughfare. Traffic flowed to a different rhythm. In Delran, ``One-Thirty,'' as the highway is called, was closed twice a day so the cows at Millside Farms could be moved from barn to pasture and back again.

The pace quickened in the postwar years, and the need for housing turned fields into tracts of ranch homes and Colonials. Ready to supply these families with everything from food to shoes to the new car, business followed and Route 130 was built up - helter-skelter and ugly, in a northward drift from the Airport Circle.

``That was the face of commercialism,'' said Paul W. Schopp, executive director of the Camden County Historical Society and an expert in the history of transportation in South Jersey.

But now, an effort is afoot among a dozen towns in Burlington County to make what is ugly attractive again along their 16-mile stretch of 130, a reflection that, though people once spoke of urban renewal, now there is a need in some parts for suburban renewal.

``Just because development takes place outside the urban center does not mean it cannot be subject to the same pattern of decay and disinvestment,'' said James Dunn, a professor of transportation policy at Rutgers University-Camden.

Along the highway, there's talk about what is, what was, and what might be.

* Terril Gakeler, facilities manager at McCollister's Moving & Storage Inc. in Burlington Township, recalled with pride a letter to the editor in which a woman called the firm's property ``an oasis in the desert of Route 130.''

With 100 acres, about 1,500 feet of it fronting on the highway, McCollister's has stood for 27 years in sharp contrast to the cinder-block, plate-glass and blacktop development so typical on the highway.

It has broad lawns, trees, and an office building with walls of Pennsylvania mica. In the spring, workers will plant 450 flats of flowers, Gakeler said.

This, he said, was based on the guiding philosophy of H. Daniel McCollister, the national firm's owner, who, like Gakeler, grew up in the area.

``We will not have this place looking what it is,'' Gakeler said. ``And we're a trucking company.''

Even transformers on the property, which includes 50 acres still tended by a tenant farmer, are boxed in with bushes.

``This is 50 percent for the public and 50 percent for the employees,'' Gakeler said.

It is model of what could be.

``We would welcome anybody who would like to challenge us - in a good-natured way, of course,'' Gakeler said.

* The history of Route 130 is a study of development in South Jersey - and holds a lesson for the future: Commercial development needs to be planned, not just thrown up without regard to economic viability and aesthetics.

From a highway where diners and motels catering to truckers and travelers were among the first businesses, it became in the late 1960s and early 1970s the Main Street to the suburban developments that sprang up around it.

But, said Mark Remsa, principal planner for the Burlington County Office of Land Use and Planning, the highway was overbuilt early on, and the population ``could not support all that retail space.''

In their revitalization plan, the 12 towns along the corridor even say the decline began 30 years ago - about the time the commercial development peaked.

The towns cover only 7.2 percent of the land in the county but account for about a third of the county's 395,000 people.

After the Burlington County stetch of Interstate 295 opened in the 1970s, housing development shifted there and retailers quickly followed with their big-box stores and shopping malls.

Today, Route 130 is dotted with shuttered retail buildings. Car dealerships, auto repair shops and gas stations remain the most prevalent of the older businesses, while newer businesses include fast-food and chain restaurants.

The level of congestion is reflected in the traffic levels along the corridor - at the southern end, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission counted an average of 59,900 vehicles a day on Route 130 in 1995, compared with 29,400 near the border with Mercer County.

Remsa said that while slapdash construction was typical of the period when many of the buildings were erected, municipal officials came to see them as an unacceptable reflection of their towns.

In their plan for the Route 130 corridor, which includes development along the parallel Delaware River, the towns envision a mix of commercial, entertainment and residential structures in the southern portion and light industrial and distribution facilities in the stretch from Burlington City into Florence.

Overpasses and underpasses are to reconnect long-separated towns, and edges of the highway are to be ``softened'' with the reduction of sign clutter and the planting of trees, plants and flowers.

In Delanco, Edgewater Park and Willingboro, the plan calls for ``a patchwork strip of vacant and obsolete commercial sites'' to be transformed into ``a diverse section consisting of new town and village centers and upgraded commercial sites intermixed with office and light industrial facilities.'' The work under way at the former Willingboro Plaza is part of that vision.

And, the towns hope, open space will be preserved wherever possible for public enjoyment.

* A glimpse of the way Route 130 looked before the development boom can be found in the northern stretches of Burlington County as well as in parts of Gloucester and Salem Counties: four lanes separated by a grassy median with woods or farms on the sides and only an occasional store or gas station.

In Burlington County, the stretch from Florence through Mansfield and Bordentown is ripe for development, especially near an interchange that is being built to connect Route 130 and the New Jersey Turnpike extension to the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Both Nanu Maisuria of the Riverfront Motel in Mansfield and Elle Tilauta, owner of the Illusions Go-Go bar in Florence, are looking hopefully at the development possibilities.

Business at the Riverfront, which has been there since 1942, has been slow, Maisuria said. Perhaps, he said, the interchange will generate some business for him among truckers or travelers.

Tilauta said a hotel near the interchange would ``be real nice,'' a possible source of customers.

But besides the potential benefit to her bar, Tilauta said, commercial development on that stretch of 130 is long overdue.

``People who live in this town have to go so far to buy anything,'' she said, listing ``Home Depot, Wal-Mart, those kinds of things'' as the retailers she would like to see.

And then she added, ``More than anything, we need a McDonald's, a Burger King.''

* The Londonshire House in Burlington City, originally known as the Diamond Casino, has been in the Chmielewski family since 1954.

``It was a very popular place at the time,'' said Stanley Chmielewski. Born as a musical bar, the place became a steak restaurant in 1965.

In those days, when the two-martini lunch was still popular, businessmen filled the Londonshire.

``But they're all retired now, and businesses left the area,'' said Chmielewski, the bartender at the restaurant. (His sister, Diane Malinowski, is the hostess and his brother, George, is the chef.)

The clientele now is mostly seniors, 55 and older, he said.

Chmielewski, 51, said the opening of I-295 and the shift in development took away the traffic that brings potential customers. The shuttering of businesses in the area has also reduced his clientele, he said, and the businesspeople who remain work in a culture where a leisurely lunch is frowned upon.

As he spoke, Chmielewski set a place at the bar for a businessman who had phoned in his lunch order and would have only enough time to eat before returning to work.

And while surrounding Burlington Township has seen a boom in housing and residents, Chmielewski said, ``they may live here, but they don't work here.''

His own wife works in Trenton and takes I-295 to work. Chmielewski said he has heard of others who travel to other points in North Jersey for work.

``I don't know how they'll make it attractive enough to draw business here,'' he said.

``I don't think the experts really know. They've got to get people interested. They may use the highway, but what's going to make them stop?''

With so many plans on the drawing board and funding still being sought, he will have to wait to see what happens.

``Historically, economic development and revitalization take a cycle of 15 years,'' said Remsa, the planner.

S. Jersey's 856 Code: Call It Costly New Phone Numbers Mean Replacing Stationery And Signs. That Could Be Hard On Businesses, Especially Smaller Ones.

Source: Posted: March 22, 1999

For Don Patrick, the timing could not have been worse.

His accounting firm, Bowman & Co. of Voorhees, spent more than $10,000 last summer on a two-year supply of stationery and business cards bearing the company's new multicolored logo.

``We finally came to a consensus,'' Patrick said. ``Then boom, our area code is going to change. So there you have it.''

The new area code, approved last month by the state Board of Public Utilities and announced this month as 856 by Bell Atlantic, takes effect June 12. Callers will be able to use the 609 code for the affected numbers until Nov. 13.

For business owners, the new area code could prove to be costly.

Doris Damm said she did not see it coming. The owner of Accu Staffing Services, a temporary-employment agency in Cherry Hill, said that she had no idea that another area code would be added, and that she was expecting the worst. With more than 18,000 employees throughout South Jersey, Damm estimated, it will cost her as much as $60,000 to make the switch. The costs include business cards, letterheads, advertising, and publicity about the change.

``It's going to be awful,'' she said. ``I'm not pleased thinking of the dollars that will be involved.''

Telephone and business officials said there were no estimates on how much this change would cost area businesses. While larger companies can more easily absorb the cost of such a change, it could be difficult for smaller businesses, said Patrick, who is president of the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce.

Joyce Walker, owner of Multifacet Inc., an industrial-supplies company in Cherry Hill, said changing her business cards and letterheads could cost $600, a significant figure for a family-owned business with five employees. Walker said the hardest part would be notifying all her customers outside the region.

``It will be a little tricky,'' she said, ``but it's probably happening because of people like me who live off telephones and beepers and fax machines and cellular phones.''

Industry officials have attributed the need for the new area code to the growing demand for new numbers. An estimated 7.5 million phone numbers have been created in New Jersey in recent years to satisfy the growing demand for fax machines, pagers, cellular phones and modems.

Bell Atlantic asked the Board of Public Utilities for the new area code because, it said, 609 would have run out of numbers by the end of 1999.

The 856 area will include all of Salem County; most of Gloucester, Camden and Cumberland Counties; and small portions of Burlington and Atlantic Counties.

Eight municipalities - Buena Vista, Medford, Willingboro, Waterford, Winslow, Dennis, Maurice River and Monroe - will be split between the 856 and 609 area codes.

While the new area code may be a headache for many, Christopher Biddle of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association sees it as positive for the area.

``It's a sign of tremendous growth in the business and telecommunications industries,'' Biddle said. ``However, it does create all sorts of difficulties for businesses that have to now redo their letterhead and publications.''

This scenario is all too familiar to officials at Rowan University. This will be the fourth switch in seven years for the school, which in 1992 redid letterheads and business cards when it changed its name from Glassboro State College to Rowan College. In 1994, Bell Atlantic altered the university's phone exchange from 863 to 256 because there were not enough open lines. And in 1997, Rowan College became Rowan University.

Ed Ziegler, a university spokesman, estimated that this next switch would cost Rowan $25,000.

``We understand that this has to happen,'' he said, ``and I'm just as guilty sitting here holding my cell phone and pager and walking over to use my fax machine every minute.''

Because the five-month grace period ends at a critical time for the university, Ziegler said, officials plan to ask the phone company to extend the free forwarding courtesy. If not, the university will have to pay to have that service continued.

``So there may be additional charges, and we're going to have to come up with that,'' he said. ``We can't frustrate people.''

This will be the sixth area code for the state. The first code, assigned in 1951, was 201. The state added 609 for South Jersey in 1963 and 908 for central New Jersey in 1990.

The most recent change was in 1997, when the state created 973 in North Jersey and 732 in the central part of the state.

The utilities board estimated that the 856 code would last seven years, and that 609 would last for five years before it might have to be split again.

These changes are not only a major expense for businesses, but can be a major inconvenience, said Millie Gama, executive director of the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce.

``People identify you with a telephone number more than with an address,'' Gama said. ``Businesses are identified with a telephone number, and once you change that, it can create problems.''

On the plus side, she said, printers and sign makers will be very happy with the change.

Kevin and Catherine Weir, owners of Sign-a-Rama of Delran, are nearly giddy. They make everything from signs and graphics for trucks and vans to stationery and business cards.

``This is going to be like found money for us,'' Kevin Weir said. ``It's really going to boost our economy from the aspect that people are going to have to change everything.''

He said that he did not think business would explode right away but that it would build to a crescendo as people started to realize that the deadline was approaching. He expects that business will increase 15 percent a month through the end of the year.

Some business owners, though resigned to the change, have decided to take a positive stance.

Bobby and Danine Clark, proprietors of Cafe Neena in Woodbury, moved their restaurant and just two months ago ordered new menus, business cards and letterheads. Now, they will have to do it all over again.

``If we have to redo some stuff,'' Bobby Clark said, ``it's not a problem. But the show must go on.''

State Commission Endorses Project For Route 130 Corridor The Revitalization Plan Comes With $5 Million In State Money. The Endorsement Could Bring More Funds.

Source: Posted: April 29, 1999

FLORENCE — The State Planning Commission yesterday unanimously endorsed a redevelopment plan that promises to recharge a 16-mile section of the beleaguered Route 130 corridor in Burlington County.

The 950-page plan, four years in the making, comes with $5 million in state seed money for redevelopment and improvement projects in Beverly City, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Edgewater Park, Florence, Palmyra, Riverside, Riverton and Willingboro.

The commission's endorsement, registered in a ceremonial vote at the Roebling Fire House, qualifies the various projects for state assistance in addition to the seed money.

Mark A. Remsa, a principal planner in the Burlington County Office of Land Use Planning, was assigned the project in 1995. By bringing together the 12 river towns that line the highway and once competed for redevelopment, he said yesterday, the plan transcended home-rule issues and party affiliations.

``I am beaming with pride,'' Remsa told the gathering of about 100 people, including officials from the 12 towns, county freeholders, State Sen. Diane Allen (R., Burlington), and Assemblyman Jack Conners (D., Burlington).

Remsa said the plan was the first step in a 15- to 20-year project to revive businesses along the once-prosperous highway. It eventually may cost between $800 million and $1 billion in public and private funds, he said.

The moment was marked yesterday with a veritable love fest.

``It's lovey-dovey because a lot of effort went into the plan,'' Freeholder James Wujcik said. ``A lot of people wrapped their arms around it, and now they have the opportunity to make it work.''

Gov. Whitman now must sign into law the legislation that will bring the initial seed money.

One of the projects expected to be funded is the transformation of the old Willingboro Plaza shopping center. Plans call for replacing the center, which is being torn down, with a thriving town center that will house the local library, shops, and a branch of Burlington County College.

Other projects being considered are a food distribution center on the Burlington Township-Florence Township border, which may create as many as 4,000 jobs; the cleanup and redevelopment of the Roebling Steel Mill site in Florence; the transformation of Burlington Island into a golf course; and the refurbishing of the Golden Triangle, an abandoned industrial park in Riverton.

Florence, meanwhile, is looking to prosper from the increased accessibility that a new turnpike exit will bring.

Florence Mayor George Sampson said the 70 buildings of the steel mill complex on a bank of the Delaware River represent a promising center for commerce.

The mill, which is listed as a federal Superfund site, has been closed since 1974. The township has begun condemnation of the property and hopes to turn it over to a developer this year, Sampson said.

Sampson said the mill once accounted for a third of the township's tax revenues. He described the sounds of the bustling industry then as ``music to our ears.''

Today, he said, ``the silence is deafening.''

Willingboro Mayor Lavonne Johnson echoed Sampson's remarks in describing Willingboro Plaza, which once attracted thousands of shoppers from all over South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

``Willingboro was once the jewel of Burlington County,'' Johnson said. ``The initial $5 million will certainly be the jump-start that we needed.''

Callers, Take Note: 856 Era Is At Hand The New Area Code Goes Into Effect Tomorrow. Seven Counties Will See Changes.

Source: Posted: June 11, 1999

It's finally here.

Starting tomorrow, several counties in South Jersey will have a new area code. Bell Atlantic announced the 856 code in March, saying it was rapidly running out of numbers for the 609 area code.

The 856 area will include all of Salem County; most of Camden, Cumberland and Gloucester Counties; and small portions of Burlington, Atlantic and Cape May Counties.

In Burlington County, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Evesham, Maple Shade, parts of Medford, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside, Riverton and parts of Willingboro Townships will assume the 856 area code.

In Atlantic County, Buena Borough and parts of Buena Vista Township will change to the 856 area code.

In Cape May County, there is a split in Dennis Township, but Bell Atlantic officials said there are no telephone lines in the area designated for 856.

Besides Buena Vista, Medford and Willingboro, five municipalities - Waterford, Winslow, Dennis, Maurice River and Monroe - will be split between the 856 and 609 area codes. Residents in these communities with telephone numbers starting with the following exchanges, will have the new 856 area code:

* Buena Vista, Atlantic County: 205, 507, 563, 690, 691, 692, 696, 794, 899, 974, 697.

* Medford, Burlington County: 719, 753, 767, 768, 809, 210, 322, 596, 797, 810, 983, 985, 988, 355, 446, 574, 762.

* Willingboro, Burlington County: 461, 764, 824, 255, 544, 657.

* Waterford, Camden County: 719, 753, 767, 768, 809, 210, 322.

* Winslow, Camden County: 719, 753, 767, 768, 809, 210, 322, 262, 629, 728, 740, 875, 237, 885.

* Maurice River Township, Cumberland County: 293, 327, 765, 825, 565, 776, 785.

* Monroe Township, Gloucester County: 262, 629, 728, 740, 875, 237, 837, 885, 307, 863, 881, 244, 595, 205, 507, 563, 690, 691, 692, 696, 794, 899, 974, 697.

Callers can continue to use the 609 code for the affected numbers until a grace period ends Nov. 12, but Bell Atlantic officials are urging people to start dialing the new area code now.

``We're encouraging people to do it now, because come Nov. 13, they won't have a choice,'' said Cliff Lee, spokesman for Bell Atlantic. The grace period is ``a learning period, and the sooner you start learning, the sooner you can adjust to it.''

Industry officials have attributed the need for the new area code to the growing demand for numbers. An estimated 7.5 million phone numbers have been created in New Jersey in recent years to satisfy the demand for fax machines, pagers, cellular phones and modems.

This will be the sixth area code for the state. The first code, assigned in 1951, was 201. The state added 609 for South Jersey in 1963 and 908 for central New Jersey in 1990. The most recent change was in 1997, when the state created 973 in North Jersey and 732 in the central part of the state.

The utilities board estimated that the 856 code would last seven years before it would have to be split, and that 609 would last five years before it might have to be split again.

FOR MORE INFORMATION * Call Bell Atlantic at 1-800-409-8773 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or go to

Turkish Immigrants Thriving As Population Swells In Region A Large Percentage Have Settled In The Phila. Area. They Have Opened Businesses, And Schools Are Responding To The Influx.

Source: Posted: January 10, 2000

BURLINGTON TOWNSHIP — It was the last day of Ramadan, and about 50 men stood shoulder-to-shoulder, bowing their heads onto the floor, then swaying, chanting, listening to a Muslim preach from the Koran.

In Turkish.

The prayer scene Friday at the four-year-old Selimiye Mosque here is indicative of what immigration figures show to be a burgeoning Turkish population in the Philadelphia region.

The Selimiye, located in a former church, is one of at least three Turkish mosques that have opened in the last decade in the Philadelphia suburbs; the others are in Levittown, Bucks County, and Monroe Township, Gloucester County.

The Selimiye, the Yunus Emre Mosque in Levittown, and the Murat Mosque in Monroe combined serve about 700 Turkish families, most of whom live in Bucks County and South Jersey, according to presidents of two Turkish American Muslim associations.

The associations started with only a few dozen families, but recently have been adding members quickly, those officials said.

* Throughout the region, an increasing number of Turkish-owned businesses dot the landscape. Grocery stores offering food and daily newspapers from Turkey have opened on both sides of the Delaware River. In Delran, Burlington County, the school district has hired a full-time Turkish-speaking teacher.

Since the first Turkish family arrived in the late 1970s to escape harsh economic conditions, families have brought relatives over, forming an increasingly visible community, Turkish community leaders said.

State Department officials said a diversity program, aimed at broadening the immigrant pool, has more than doubled the number of Turks entering the United States, from 906 in 1988 to 2,351 in 1998.

A large percentage of those new immigrants from Turkey - a political ally with a per-capita gross national product less than one-tenth that of the United States - have settled in the Philadelphia region.

According to the Pennsylvania State Data Center, a liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau, Turkish immigration has been on a steady climb around Philadelphia on both sides of the Delaware River.

In Pennsylvania, Turkish immigrants have risen from 64 in 1990 to 114 in 1997, the latest figures available; in New Jersey, Turkish immigrants increased from 315 in 1990 to 526 in 1997.

"We started from scratch," said Mehmet Isik, president of the Turkish American Muslim Cultural Association in Levittown.

Isik said that when he moved from Turkey to Fairless Hills 15 years ago, there were few Turks in Bucks County.

"Now, there are eight, nine Turkish businesses [in Levittown]. The people are starting to gather and gather."

At the F.D. Roosevelt Middle School in Bristol, Bucks County, six of the 26 students taking the English as a Second Language (ESL) course are Turks.

"A couple of years ago, we didn't have any [Turks]," said Karen Kane, an ESL teacher. "Now, the Turkish are the second largest [ethnic group] in the school."

Harika Tuna, the bilingual teacher hired this year in Delran, is instructing 43 Turkish children - up from about 25 in the district last year. District officials say Turks are the fastest-growing ethnic group there.

In neighboring Edgewater Park, where two Turkish students entered the district last week, the number of Turkish children has more than doubled to 25 this year, Superintendent Walter Dold said.

About 30 Turkish-owned businesses can be found in the region, including: the Liberty II Diner in Bordentown; the Esquire Diner in Mount Holly; the Golden Eagle Diner in Bristol; the Turkish Deli in Levittown; and the Cinnaminson Texaco Service Station.

Sitting behind the cash register at Efes, a Turkish grocery store on Route 130 in Delran, owner Yurdanur Guner said his two-year-old business was about to break even. He invested $40,000 to open the store in November 1997.

"It's getting there," Guner said of his business, while ringing up a customer's rental of an armful of videotaped Turkish TV shows.

On a good day, Guner said, about 20 people drop by his store to purchase pasta, canned goods, calendars, magazines and newspapers.

At the Edgewater Queen Diner on Route 130 in Edgewater Park, Erdal Gunaydin, 23, the owner's son, sat on a stool and recalled coming to the United States 17 years ago at age 6 and later attending Burlington City High School.

"I was the only [Turkish child] in high school," Gunaydin said. "Seventy percent of my family are now here. More and more people are coming every day. My cousin came over with six people to North Jersey, after their houses were destroyed in the [August] earthquake. They didn't have a place to live."

* After 20 minutes of prayer ended at the Selimiye Mosque, several men lingered outside the cream-colored building, talking, in Turkish, of their family members back home or houses they left behind.

Muhammet Kilic, who lives in Florence with his family, said he missed Giresun, a Turkish city on the Black Sea where he lived for 20 years.

"Turkey is a beautiful country," said Kilic, a truck driver. "But the economy is hard. If you have a job and you work long hours, you have a better life here."

Burlco Study To Give Corridor More Guidance

Source: Posted: August 31, 2000

Along the depressed Route 130 corridor and the Delaware River, planners are putting together what they call a snapshot of the future for 12 towns in Burlington County.

Officials from the county and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission are using maps, zoning laws, population figures and computer programs to piece the picture together. The study is expected to be completed in six months.

They will look at 90 acres of peach farm in Edgewater Park, a former miniature-golf green in Delran, the old Roebling Steel Mill in Florence, the Willingboro Town Center, and a commercial cluster known as the Golden Triangle in Riverside, among other areas.

The study, funded with $15,000 from the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, seeks to help towns put together and present redevelopment plans with an idea of what the zoning could bring - such as industrial parks and traffic or housing developments and schoolchildren.

"They need to know," said Mark Remsa, a Burlington County planner who is leading county efforts to revitalize the once-thriving Route 130 corridor by promoting a mix of light-industrial and retail use.

Many of the corridor and river towns see efforts to revitalize Route 130 as a way to increase tax revenue and boost their image by attracting businesses such as pharmaceutical giant Merck-Medco, which plans to move into the Willingboro Town Center.

But the pockets of undeveloped land and vacant properties might also end up costing residents if they attract developers who want to erect apartment buildings or housing developments, Remsa said.

"When you zone so much residential, there's cost associated with that," he said.

The county is directing the project with technical help from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, which has access to regional information as well as programs to calculate the financial impact of new houses and other development.

The report will go beyond the commission's previous analyses of Route 130 as an important transportation corridor to look at uses for the land that is adjacent to and surrounding it, said Michael Ontko, the commission's deputy director of regional planning.

This "build-out" study of the area was recommended by a study on the corridor completed several years ago.

Riverside is one of the towns eager to see the projections detailed in the report.

The results will save Riverside planners some legwork and help them with a redevelopment plan already in the works, Township Administrator Gary F. LaVenia said

Although Route 130 does not run through Riverside, residents know that development along the six-lane divided highway will trickle into their town and business district. Officials are paying close attention to activity there as they make plans to create a redevelopment authority and a marketing strategy, LaVenia said.

"What happens on 130 has a definitive impact on our towns," he said.

Lauren Mayk's e-mail address is

How To Give A Highway A Makeover That's What Freeholders And Other Officials Hope To Learn From A Rte. 130 Study Expected To Cost The State $300,000.

Source: Posted: September 07, 2000

Planners have decided that, when it comes to reinventing the depressed Route 130 corridor, looks count.

After years of talking about industry and economics, the Burlington County freeholders, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, and state Department of Transportation are embarking on a study of the aesthetics of the corridor.

The study, expected to cost the Department of Transportation more than $300,000, is to recommend ways to improve the appearance of Route 130 where it passes through seven municipalities.

The towns were chosen by the department because of the nature of their infrastructure, said Ralph Shrom, a spokesman for the freeholders.

A contract for the study, which is to take about six months to complete, is expected to be awarded within 10 weeks.

"It's got to be aesthetically pleasing in order for people to come," Freeholder Director James K. Wujcik said.

Currently, a mix of concrete, decaying signs, overgrown shrubbery and vacant buildings line both sides of the six-lane divided highway.

While acknowledging that how the corridor looks is up to the towns, Wujcik said he would like to see "synergy" and cooperation among those working to improve the highway.

The towns to be involved in the study are Burlington City, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Delanco, Delran, Edgewater Park and Willingboro.

The process may include meetings with local officials and public hearings and will employ digital and VHS imaging of the area, collected by driving along the highway.

"The way it looks now is not my vision," said Cinnaminson Committeeman Dan Gillin, adding that township officials were already working with the county on a redevelopment plan.

Mark Remsa, the county's land-use planner, described the aesthetic process as a "bottom-up approach" in which the towns along the corridor are to decide how to improve the region.

For example, Burlington City, with its older and smaller buildings close to the highway, may have different ideas as to how to make its stretch of the highway more pleasing to the eye than, say, nearby Willingboro, whose buildings are larger and farther back from the corridor.

"Any key to highway development is to make it look good," Remsa said. "What it's going to look like, though, that's for the towns to decide."

Burlington Township officials are hoping that the planners will have some suggestions for its former LaGorce Square shopping center, which has been vacant for about five years.

The retail property is owned by a church that has discussed building a religious and retail center there, but little progress has been made, Township Administrator Kevin J. McLernon said.

On the other hand, he said, planners should look at such Burlington Township properties as McCollister's Moving & Storage Inc., the Haines Industrial Center, and C.R. England, all of which face Route 130 with attractive landscaping.

"They're showpieces," he said.

Lauren Mayk's e-mail address is

The little appliance store that could, and does

Source: Posted: May 20, 2001

In 1959, an 18-year-old Tom Watson got his start in the appliance business at his uncle's Riverside store.

Over the course of his decades-long career in the business, Watson, now 59, has seen large chain appliance dealerships in the area fall prey to the marketplace again and again while his A-1 Washer & Appliance Service has stayed afloat.

Last month, shortly after regional giant American Appliance announced that it, too, would be closing its doors, Watson put up a sign in front of his Delran store to bring the point home.

It read: "Big Boys Come, Go - We're Still Here - 42 Years. Thanks."

To understand Watson's success, consider Nancy Sutter, whose last purchase at A-1 was a washer-and-dryer set - in 1972. Last Monday, looking to replace the washer - her original sales receipt in hand - she made her way through the shop's gleaming Maytags, Whirlpools and Frigidaires.

"After 29 years, I think I have gotten my money's worth," Sutter, 70, said.

Asked why she had chosen A-1 over the many box stores selling appliances in the area, she said: "I like the personal service I get here and wanted to make sure I was getting the right thing."

According to Watson, it's that personal treatment and wealth of knowledge that set his small store apart.

"The minute you lose touch with your customers," he said, "you start losing your business."

Which is why Watson, whose wife, Eileen, helps manage A-1, still does his own deliveries and installations and services everything he sells.

And, to add a special touch that he is adamant about, he is careful to take time to let customers clean behind appliances that are getting replaced.

It's little things like that, he said, that the bigger stores just can't, or won't, provide.

The same goes for expertise. According to Watson, small appliance stores like his have become libraries of information, places where consumers go to be educated.

All too often, though, these same folks then go to a chain store for their purchases, thinking, Watson knows, that they will get a better price there.

Yet if you compare model for model, he said, his prices are the same as the big guys'. And to make sure that's true, Watson himself shops the competition, once a month.

Competitive prices, however, are not really the source of A-1's success, according to Jim Judd, 72, whose entire career has been spent in the appliance business and who now helps, part time, on the shop floor.

"It's not what price do you have," he said. "You have to tell the customer what appliance they are getting, what it will do for them, and whether it fits their needs."

Such expertise, he said, is not to be found on the sales floors of the chain stores, which tend to offer convenience at the expense of quality. According to Judd and Watson, some 15 to 20 customers a month come in to have A-1 fix installations that larger outfits have botched.

John Simley, a spokesman for Home Depot - which is broadening its efforts in the appliance market - admits that small appliance retailers often set the standard in service. But, he said, his stores are no slouches in the personal-touch department.

"Our company was built on one thing, and that's providing customer service," Simley said. "It's the most important product we have."

Still, the list of those appliance behemoths who are now but memories to Watson is long and includes the likes of Silos Inc., Delaware Valley Appliance, and Dee's.

Watson is currently facing the prospect of competition from a Home Depot under construction just down Route 130 and from a proposed Lowe's in the area.

He is not worried.

"It's just going to be a pain," he said, ". . . but not enough to put me out of business. I'll leave when I'm ready to."

Will Van Sant's e-mail address is

Store owner puts stock on Rte. 130 revival

Source: Posted: July 01, 2001

EDGEWATER PARK — Jim Bucci glanced over at the concrete floor and dusty walls of his store and shook his head.

"This used to be a real high-end showroom," he said, glancing about what was once a white-carpet expanse inside Furniture Expressions on Route 130.

In December, a fire destroyed about $165,000 worth of merchandise, most of the roof, and much of the 30,000-square-foot building. The store, closed for six months, reopened this month with a new roof but much work to be done.

Bucci plans to make about $500,000 worth of renovations, including, he said, a contemporary red facade with shadow letters.

"Everything, from the floor all the way up," manager Bruce Bromley said.

The construction is to be done in phases, by moving merchandise into different sections of the showroom, so that the store can remain open during the renovations, Bromley said. The project is expected to be complete by October.

But the December fire, sparked by lightning striking the cupola atop the building, was not the first setback for Bucci's retail venture.

The store began in a 700-square-foot space in the old Metro Marketplace on Route 130. When the flea market there closed with little notice, Bucci drained 12 water beds in one day, abandoned his business, and moved in with his father, who owns Bucci Furniture in Delran.

In 1993, Bucci opened Furniture Expressions in a 2,000-square-foot building in Delran. After a few years in Willingboro, he moved to the larger Edgewater Park space.

"We went from water beds to a full-line furniture store in nine years," said Bucci, who has found encouragement in the knowledge that his is not the only building under construction on the corridor.

Route 130 is dotted with vacant plazas and shells of failed endeavors, but county and local officials have recently poured time and money into recruiting businesses and revitalizing the area.

"I think the corridor is going to boom in the next few years," said Bucci, who hopes the pending arrival of a Home Depot and a Lowe's hardware store will at least bring some home-improvement-minded customers.

A King Kong-like balloon, meanwhile, now sits atop the store, where the tower and weather vane once did. After debating what to call it, employees settled on customer-service rep Jill Fynan's suggestion.

"Birtha," she said, "for the birth of our new store."

Lauren Mayk's e-mail address is

Route 130 workshop brings hope to residents Residents explore Rte. 130 in a quest for change

Source: Posted: June 17, 2002

DELRAN — Anton Nelessen wasn't promising any miracles.

But zipping through tantalizing photographs of green space, attractive development and bricked pedestrian pathways, the urban designer was offering people what they rarely get when discussing the beleaguered Route 130 corridor:

Hope, and a real chance to make change.

"The more negative it is out there," said Nelessen, who is also a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, "the more possibility there is for redevelopment."

Lured by flyers encouraging folks "fed up with the way Route 130 looks" to do something about it, about 30 people gathered at the Delran Municipal Building this weekend for a workshop designed to cull citizens' input on the troubled Cinnaminson-to-Burlington City portion of the corridor.

Sponsors included the Burlington County Freeholders, the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the towns that line the once-bustling strip. The one-day event was part of a $300,000 study now underway.

Nelessen acknowledged that the work would not be easy, but said that the current planning trend toward "smart growth" - redeveloping existing areas rather than gobbling up open space for new homes and businesses - would work to Route 130's advantage.

"And Route 130's probably even a little healthier than some corridors I've seen around the country," he said, describing the whole project as "cutting-edge."

First participants filled out a lengthy survey, evaluating options ranging from better bus stops to elegant shopping centers and from industrial storage space to snazzy walking paths. Then it was time for field work.

Armed with maps and markers, citizens piled into cars and actually drove part of the corridor, returning with ideas for what might work on their stretches of the highway.

"Remember," Nelessen told them, "we are in this to increase wealth. Any time the corridor is better, the housing values are better and the quality of life is better."

And Vera Salmons is all for better quality of life. The front of her Delran home faces Route 130, and she is fed up with what seems like an endless parade of come-and-go stores and blighted properties.

"When I go out to get my mail, I almost get killed, and everything looks ugly," said Salmons, who has lived in a sidewalkless home near Creek Road for about a decade.

Her partner in mapping, fellow Delran resident Linda Carnivale, jumped in.

"Parks," she said, sighing, "will never work. Route 130 is a major highway, and some of those pretty access roads they proposed just wouldn't do it."

Still, the two agreed, they were excited by the idea of having such a direct influence on the revitalization process and they liked a great deal of what they saw.

When they returned, Nelessen dished, sharing the results of the surveys. Participants' thoughts were varied.

They hated unscreened industrial storage areas. They thought a few tall hedges and well-placed trees would do wonders for the view. They didn't want any more used-car lots, and they were OK with new chains moving in, as long as they come with attractive design and responsive management.

And when they broke up into groups to tackle issues ranging from sidewalks to speed, the ideas started flying.

Some called out that they wanted to stick a minor league baseball stadium along their patch of road. Others envisioned high-end restaurants, and still others dreamed of huge plots of attractive open space.

"I couldn't see three lanes here," said Delran resident Stu Hindman, pointing to a spot where developer Jeff Lucas drew a long line with a purple marker. "And when we get into the community area, I think we need the red marker" - signifying an urban boulevard with a slightly lower speed limit.

Choosing where to put town centers in their slice of the corridor, the two exchanged thoughts about convenience.

"In New York, people will walk 12 blocks," Lucas observed. "In Philadelphia, they'll walk four blocks. In New Jersey, people will drive from one side of a shopping center to another."

Standing to the side, watching groups bent over maps, Mark Stout of the state Department of Transportation said the residents were on the cutting edge of planning theory.

"We're trying very hard to do a better job of listening to our customers," said Stout, director of capital programming for the agency. "This is the wave of the future, and we think this process is going to be a model for working on other highway corridors around the state."

Next up, according to county land-use planner Mark Remsa, is the engineering piece of the project, followed by a step that would bring the people's and the engineers' visions together through municipal zoning and incentives to businesses.

Contact Kristen Graham at 856-779-3927 or

Faith in Rte. 130 on upswing Despite hitches - loss of green space and older stores - projects push revival.

Source: Posted: November 12, 2002

A groundbreaking at an old driving range that will soon be an $8 million shopping center was enough to draw a crowd of four dozen people on a cold gray day late last month.

The group of businesspeople and government officials had been working for five years to place a shopping center in Delran along the depressed Route 130 corridor that runs 16 monotonous miles from Cinnaminson to Florence in Burlington County.

If all goes according to plan, next summer the west end of the county will have a new Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and a bigger ShopRite, not to mention a handful of other mall staples, including a Chick-fil-A, Cingular phone store and Mattress Giant.

In some ways, this new shopping center, Hartford Corners at Delran, is just the kind of infill redevelopment that planners hope will rescue the Route 130 corridor. It is also an example of the latest policy trend in anti-sprawl development: redevelopment in older, inner-ring suburbs to save open spaces in rural communities. But it has cost the community by taking away one of the road's few patches of green.

At the groundbreaking, Delran Councilman Bert Hermansky was thinking both about the rebirth development can bring to a community and the unreliability of the retail cycle. He was beside himself as he called the new center a "crown jewel" in the town's future. He spoke from the heart, remembering an area once so vibrant that John F. Kennedy went to the bustling, open-air Willingboro Mall to stump for the presidency in 1960.

"This whole area was everything," Hermanksy said. "With the advent of the malls, it started to deteriorate."

The corridor exploded after World War II as families with inexpensive government-backed mortgages left Philadelphia's cramped rowhouse neighborhoods from Bridesburg to South Philly for bungalows, ranches, split-levels and a few old Victorians, all with backyards and space between them and their neighbors.

As the population grew, Route 130 burst with asphalt and life - strip malls and gas stations - none of it very pretty, much of it well-traveled. But when indoor malls opened in Cherry Hill and later Moorestown and Marlton, Willingboro's cutting-edge outdoor mall was abandoned long enough for trees to grow on the roof of the old Sears.

Today, Route 130 is a continuous stretch of gas stations, car lots, muffler shops and lube joints, a crumbled tribute to the automobile, which built it and then killed it when residents left for newer suburbs in eastern Burlington County's M-towns: Medford, Moorestown, Marlton and Mount Laurel. Green space along this corridor, sadly, rolls by in three ways: a few big empty lots, grass and plantings around highway interchanges, and graveyards.

Recent census data show the towns in the corridor generally lag behind the rest of the county in population growth, family income and housing value.

Looking at it, though, developer John Rahenkamp, who assembled the land for Hartford Corners, sees a future filled with opportunity.

"It's got the bones. It just needs somebody to kiss it on both cheeks and bring it to life," he said, driving through nearby Delanco, which sits between Route 130 and the Delaware River along Rancocas Creek.

Delanco, for example, will get a stop on the new light-rail line, which will link Camden and Trenton. And Delanco Deputy Mayor Vic Vittorino said that next month officials expect to break ground on an NVR Building Products Co. factory in its industrial park. The company, based in McLean, Va., builds components for modular homes, such as staircases and roof trusses, and is expected to employ 350 people eventually.

For people older than 55, Rahenkamp has developed a 250-home development along the creek called Newton's Landing, where porched homes started selling at $130,000 and are going for $285,000. In addition, he has taken advantage of government incentives for affordable housing in other parts of Delanco.

He also assembled the 66 acres from a dozen property owners for Hartford Corners in Delran before selling the project to ARC Properties Inc. of Clifton, N.J.

The center had to wait for Delran to update its master plan to allow for a strip mall bigger than the traditional model, whose failure is evident up and down Route 130.

Developers also had to work through approvals from the state Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation. The DOT is spending $1.5 million to build an intersection at Fairview Street that will cross over Route 130 and cut through the center, affording better access and connections to eastern Burlington County.

The center will be set back from Route 130, with landscaping softening its look along the highway. It backs into a new adult housing development, Ashley Crossing, and there will be a wooded barrier between the two. Residents of the development didn't want a walkway paved through the woods to the shopping center.

Hartford Corners hopes to tap into the pent-up demand of a market with 128,000 people within a five-mile radius who want lighting fixtures, lunch, groceries and cell phones, said Tom Viviano, marketing director for the Bannett Group, the Cherry Hill company that is building the center.

"There are lots and lots of people who live around the Route 130 corridor, and when other places have failed, they have to get into cars and have had to drive to Burlington Mall or East Gate, so there's a pent-up demand in the corridor," he said. In Burlington County, "we're pushed up against the Pinelands, so we're not going any further east, and the M-towns are buying up all this open space."

Still, Hartford Corners will come at the price of probably killing another strip mall up the road. The new ShopRite will replace one at the old Millside Center, a strip mall that houses a Big K, one of the bankrupt Kmart's superstores.

Mark Remsa, the Burlington County planner who has worked on building a viable Route 130 corridor, put the cost in philosophical terms.

"That's the ephemeral nature of retail," he said. "There's some pain that's going to be experienced during the gain. The retail nature of Route 130 - especially Delran - is going through a transformation. Nothing is static."

Contact Cynthia Burton

at 856-779-3858 or

Kmart to cut 37,000 jobs, shut 326 stores

Source: Posted: January 15, 2003

Kmart Corp., operating under U.S. Bankruptcy Court protection and struggling to make money, said yesterday that it would dismiss 37,000 employees and close 326 stores across the nation, including four in the Philadelphia area.

Kmart, a discounting pioneer that has been battered by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and other low-price retailers, said the employees make up 17 percent of its workforce. The company will have 1,500 stores and 183,000 workers after the closures.

The area stores closing are in Flourtown, Phoenixville, Delran and Pennsauken. They are expected to stay open for about two months as they try to liquidate inventory. Kmart did not say how many people in those stores would lose their jobs. Kmart's stores have an average of 100 workers.

Despite the closures, Kmart remains a major retailer in the Philadelphia region, with 36 stores. More than 64 percent of the adults surveyed in the eight-county Philadelphia area - representing almost 2.5 million people - said "yes" when asked whether they had shopped in a Kmart in the last three months, according to the 2002 Philadelphia Scarborough Report.

At the Pennsauken Kmart yesterday, Betsy Valentin, a factory worker from Camden who said she shops at the store almost daily, wondered where she would go for basic items, including toothpaste, clothes and CDs. "I find anything I need here," she said.

She groaned when she heard that her alternative to the Pennsauken store, five miles away in Delran, would also close. "I'm going to have to be going a lot farther to get all the stuff I need," she said.

Ann Garrity, 81, lives two blocks from the doomed Pennsauken store, where she said she shops two or three times a week. She said she did not know where she would shop after the store closed. "If I need anything, I just come down and get it," she said.

At the Kmart in Flourtown, Lesterle Meyer of Fort Washington, who was rolling a cart that held several bags of dog food, said she was very upset at the news. She said she bought clothes for her children there, as well as her husband's work clothes. "We really rely on Kmart," she said. She said she now would have to go to Kmarts in Willow Grove or Norristown.

Yesterday's announcement came the day Kmart posted its first monthly profit since filing for Chapter 11 protection a year ago. The company said it had a profit of $349 million last month, although sales at stores open at least a year fell 5.7 percent.

The company has lost at least $2.7 billion since the bankruptcy petition. It said it hoped to emerge from bankruptcy protection by April 30, which would be earlier than expected.

In a first round of downsizing in March, Kmart closed 284 stores, including one in the Olney section of Philadelphia and one in Wyncote that employed 190 people. Nationwide, 22,000 people lost their jobs in that round. Yesterday's job cuts are the fifth-most at one time by a U.S. company in the last decade.

Analysts said they would not be surprised if Kmart closed additional poor-performing stores.

"It's a difficult retailing environment," said Richard Zimmerman, managing director of equity research for Commerce Capital Markets in Philadelphia.

The National Retail Federation, in a separate statement yesterday, said that sales for all retailers in November and December rose a scant 2.2 percent, the smallest increase since the trade group started keeping track in 1992.

Analyst Richard Hastings of Cyber Business Credit was more upbeat. He said Kmart's profit last month, coupled with the money saved from the new store closures, meant "emergence from bankruptcy has bounced from slightly better than 50-50 to a 70 to 75 percent probability."

One of Kmart's biggest problems is that it has not been able to improve customer service and advertising enough to regain shoppers who had grown tired of cluttered, out-of-stock stores, one consultant said.

"I don't find sales associates in their stores," said Merrill Lehrer, president of Retail Samurai Sales of San Diego. "If you don't find a sales associate at Wal-Mart, at least you're getting it at a great price."

Under Kmart's restructuring plan, creditors' claims filed before the company entered bankruptcy would be discharged in return for substantially all of the equity in the reorganized company. Current common stockholders' shares would be worthless, Kmart said. The company's shares closed at 17 cents, down 9 cents, yesterday on the Pink Sheets electronic quotation system.

Contact staff writer Tom Belden at 215-854-2454 or

Staff writer Larry Lewis and Nora Koch of the Inquirer suburban staff contributed to this article, which contains information from Reuters and Bloomberg News.

Area Store Closures

Kmart will have 36 stores in the Philadelphia region after the four stores listed below close.

In Pennsylvania:

* 1874 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown.

* 1000 Nutt Rd., Phoenixville.

In New Jersey:

* 4004 Route 130, Delran.

* 7500 S. Crescent Blvd., Pennsauken.

Spiff up image for Rte. 130, planner says Seven Burlco river towns need to work together to make businesses work there, they were told.

Source: Posted: February 27, 2003

EDGEWATER PARK — In a 1 1/2-hour presentation last night, Tony Nelessen, president of A. Nelessen Associates, laid out his case for why the Route 130 corridor needs to be revitalized.

"If you're going to compete out there, then you have to seriously consider changing the image," he said of the struggling thoroughfare to a roomful of about 50 residents, planners and developers at the Edgewater Park Municipal Building. "Changing the image of Route 130 will positively increase wealth."

Using slides, Nelessen presented a vision heavy on aesthetics, including land-use patterns, landscaping, lighting, parking and signs.

He said the idea was to bring retailers back and to breathe life into the seven river towns that front Route 130: Cinnaminson, Delran, Delanco, Edgewater Park, Willingboro, Burlington Township and Burlington City.

"To support the retail you need and the services you need, you need people in the streets," Nelessen said. "You need people in the cafes. You need people in the businesses."

Mark Remsa, director of economic development and regional planning for Burlington County, coordinated the planning effort. He said a condensed version of last night's presentation would be used to market the corridor to attract retailers and other types of development.

"We want your input, so we developed the right kind of vision for the corridor," he said after the presentation. He then took several questions from the audience over traffic concerns.

Remsa said the ultimate product would be a regional master plan for the seven communities. Consultants were also putting together zoning-ordinance and design-ordinance language for them to adopt.

Remsa said the key was for no one town to have a competitive or unfair advantage over another.

"It's about uniformity, continuity, sharing and cooperation," he said. "It is designed as a whole so everyone benefits."

Developers were also involved.

"This is an opportunity for a developer to redevelop the whole site," said Jeffrey Lucas, one of the developers working on Route 130, who will be marketing its new look to prospective tenants. "Everyone is looking for it to be aesthetically pleasing."

Route 130 has been bypassed by Interstate 295 and the New Jersey Turnpike, Nelessen said. "It has fallen from its primary role from a regional arterial with viable shopping centers to a secondary, tertiary road."

With its importance diminished, the Willingboro Plaza and Village Mall in Willingboro closed. An Ames Department Store in Cinnaminson is gone. A Kmart in Delran will close within a couple of weeks.

Yet developers say the timing is right to redevelop Route 130. The 34-mile Southern New Jersey Light Rail Transit System connecting Camden and Trenton will snake through the river towns and is scheduled to be completed by summer. The rail line could bring new businesses, housing and tourists to the area.

And although some major shops have left, other big retail names are moving in on Route 130. Lowe's and ShopRite broke ground four months ago in Delran and will open this fall. Home Depot opened last fall in Delran.

Merck-Medco opened in Willingboro last year.

The Burlington Coat Factory will open a 650,000-square-foot warehouse distribution center in about two months in Edgewater Park. A Wal-Mart and a Sam's Club opened in Cinnaminson last month.

"The idea is not to have only big-box shopping centers, but also more concentrated development, including retail, office and residential use," Nelessen said.

A. Nelessen Associates took the lead role in gathering input for the vision. For the last year, the consultant brought the seven communities together to decide on a range of alternatives for Route 130.

Nelessen said the goal was "to create wealth and revitalize the corridor."

"It has tremendous potential for redevelopment," he said.

Nelessen said that, with the revitalization of Route 130, the river towns would have the chance to prosper again.

"That area will no longer be viewed as an area in decline," he said. "I think the more people that travel that corridor, the image starts to change and it reflects positively on other things in the area."

Nelessen said the plan could be implemented as early as September.

Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 856-779-3818 or

Malls in area fall victim to slow economy Shopping centers that were once hot spots for spending now lie vacant. Some blame overbuilding in the 1990s.

Source: Posted: July 07, 2003

Inside Cinnaminson Mall, the once-bustling promenade was deserted and eerily silent. Stools at the old lunch counter were empty. And some store windows were shattered from vandalism years ago.

With the Caldor store, cinema and shops closed, the center has a new use - training site for police dogs and SWAT team officers. A sign on a storefront warns: "Do Not Enter - Police Dog Training."

German shepherds now sniff through vacant stores for hidden drugs and explosives, and SWAT teams practice tactics.

Cinnaminson Mall is one of dozens of closed or struggling suburban shopping centers along Pennsylvania and South Jersey highways, where they languish with boarded-up windows, for-lease signs, and trash-strewn parking lots.

Across the eight-county Philadelphia area, the equivalent of about 45 average-sized shopping centers lies vacant, according to industry statistics from Reis Inc., a national commercial real estate data company.

In the first three months of this year, more than 8 percent of the nearly 57 million square feet of shopping-center space was vacant - slightly above the national average of 7 percent.

It is far worse in some area counties than others: Gloucester County's vacancy rate was nearly 15 percent, and Camden County's was 11 percent.

These shopping ghost towns appeared largely because of the overbuilding in the 1990s, the region's sluggish economy, and the closing of discount department stores such as Kmart, Caldor, Bradlees and Ames.

The higher rate also reflects lower population growth, lower retail demand, and the age of the eight-county Philadelphia area, which had some of the first shopping centers in the country, said James W. Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.

"A tight market would be at 5 percent [vacancy] or lower," Hughes said. "You'll have some level of vacancy because of tenants leaving and coming on. A disaster would be a rate in the double digits."

Drive in many parts of the Philadelphia area, and you will see the vacancies.

In Cheltenham, the closing of the Kmart and Rickel stores at Cedarbrook Shopping Center left space that will be filled this fall by Wal-Mart and Bally Total Fitness.

In Cherry Hill, the empty Bradlees store, Shop N Bag and Drug Emporium at a retail center on Route 38 are being considered for the site of a new Wal-Mart.

And in Willingboro, the vacant Village Mall on Route 130 is being looked at for redevelopment.

Developers, planners and Realtors say the desertion of some shopping centers is part of an ongoing evolution of the retail industry in which larger and more attractive locations are overtaking older and sometimes poorly maintained sites.

Many centers are getting a second chance, especially those on well-traveled roads in economically viable communities. Their retail space is being recycled.

Hughes, of Rutgers, said the retail industry was an "extraordinarily aggressive business that's constantly escalating. It's always adding new inventory, and if the market is saturated, they'll invent a new one."

To some, the change is viewed as evolution.

"The good locations are recycled with stronger retailers," said Daniel J. Hughes, president of Metro Commercial Real Estate Inc., the leasing agent for the Cinnaminson Mall site and many properties across the region. "I expect this one will be turned around - either knocked down or partially knocked down."

Eric Becker of both Becker Associates in Bala Cynwyd and Mall Associates, which owns Cinnaminson Mall, now rents the ground but expects to buy the land by October.

"We plan to take an old, tired, run-down and desolate property and turn it into one of the better shopping centers in the area," said Becker, former owner of the Ellisburg Shopping Center in Cherry Hill.

Business leaders identify the retailer interested in the Cinnaminson site as Target.

In Cheltenham, the parking lots near the former Kmart and Rickel stores at Cedarbrook Shopping Center have been deserted since their closings in the last two years.

"We're rejuvenating the shopping center and keeping it attractive," said Mike Nassimi, president of Cedarbrook Plaza Inc.

The owners of some old centers sometimes lose tenants because they do not improve their properties, said Tom Dwyer, manager of retail solutions for Reis, the New York real estate information company.

"If a shopping center doesn't make an investment, if it looks old and dingy, retailers will pick up and move down the road. They want to be where the shoppers want to be."

In Yeadon, a strip shopping center in the 200 block of McDade Boulevard has lost a supermarket, a drugstore, and other shops in the last few years.

Alice Lavelle, manager of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop, one of a few businesses at the center, said some tenants had relocated because a previous landlord had not maintained the buildings. Other stores had to close because of poor business practices or high rent, she said.

In Delran, some stores have left the Millside Shopping Center, and others are moving, including the ShopRite; the company is planning to open a supermarket less than a mile away at Hartford Corners Center, a new shopping center also on Route 130.

The Millside 4 movie theater closed about a year ago. Kmart and Payless Shoe Source left a few months ago. And ShopRite, GNC and Radio Shack are expected to relocate by the fall.

Other shopping centers along the Route 130 corridor in Burlington County are nearly or completely vacant.

In Willingboro, the former Village Mall is deserted. Weeds grow on the macadam parking lot, which is empty except for broken glass, bottles and trash. Occasionally, drivers-in-training practice parking cars and buses there.

The leasing agent said plans were being made to redevelop the site, but nothing is definite.

Mark Remsa, director of economic development and regional planning for Burlington County, said the Route 130 corridor was beginning a slow comeback by developing a mix of retail shopping and light industry. Light industry would include the Burlington Coat Factory distribution center being built in Edgewater Park and a firm selling premanufactured housing components in Delanco by the end of the year.

"It's the nature of capitalism," Remsa said. "It's what the country was founded on. There are no safety nets, no protectionism like other countries. It's Darwinian."

If you don't move forward, he added, "you're not just left behind, you're run over and ground in. The fix doesn't come overnight; it takes a long time."

The vacancy at Cinnaminson Mall has been a boon to the area police, though, giving them a place - if only temporarily - to train themselves and their dogs.

"It's eerie some nights when you're here," Mount Holly Officer John Miller said as barking dogs strained at leashes inside a former Woodworkers Warehouse, "but we appreciate the chance to use the place."

Contact staff writer Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or

Cinnaminson, Delran compete over Target Each town is redeveloping a shopping area, and each hopes the retail giant will be the cornerstone.

Source: Posted: July 08, 2004

Call it a Target tug-of-war.

Two towns along the struggling Route 130 corridor in Burlington County are vying to land the retail giant as part of redevelopment efforts.

And both say they are winning.

Initially, Target was expected to set up shop in Cinnaminson and become the jewel of a revamped Cinnaminson Mall.

But delays there caused the company to turn its eye north along Route 130, to anchor a redeveloped Millside Shopping Center in Delran, township officials there say. A Delran councilman said the township's planning board could approve a preliminary site plan tonight.

Not so fast, say Cinnaminson officials - Target is still aimed their way.

Company officials aren't much help in setting the record straight. They said officially that there is one new store on the books for South Jersey, a Target Greatland scheduled to open in Mount Laurel in October.

"We have not announced any other plans," company spokeswoman Aimee Sands said.

But local officials said that, at one point, at least, Target was eyeing the Cinnaminson Mall. There was just one problem: Redevelopment plans were waiting on major improvements that the state said were needed at the intersection of Route 130 and Cinnaminson Avenue.

Those improvements have been slow in coming.

Too slow, said Delran officials, who were only too happy to provide Target an alternative home, about 2 1/2 miles north.

"We don't have the [state Department of Transportation] issues that the other site has," Delran Councilman Brian McDermott said. "They're years away from getting any kind of resolution."

McDermott said officials with Kimco Realty Corp., which owns Millside Shopping Center, had already talked to Target, and to the township. Tonight, he said, they would come before the planning board, where a preliminary site plan could be approved.

Officially, Kimco officials are coming before the board just to "discuss" plans for refurbishing the ailing mall at Route 130 and Haines Mill Road, planning board secretary Lynn Curry said. Nowhere in documents, she said, is Target mentioned. Kimco officials could not be reached for comment.

"We feel pretty good about it," McDermott said. "We're hoping it's all going to come together."

Keep hoping, said John Marshall, zoning officer for Cinnaminson.

"Rumors are abounding, they really are," Marshall said. "It is our understanding at this point that Target has not made a commitment to Delran Township."

Marshall said that Cinnaminson had been unhappy with the lack of progress made by the owners of the Cinnaminson Mall to redevelop it. So to move the project forward, township officials recently appointed the Florida-based Regency Centers Corp., a national developer of malls, to do the job instead.

As a last resort, Marshall said, the township would take the mall - what he called one of the township's key commercial sites - by eminent domain.

The mall's owners could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Marshall said Regency had a good working relationship with Target, and added that he hoped those ties would prove fruitful in reeling in the retail chain.

Marshall added that work on the problematic intersection, one of the 20 worst for safety in the state, was "moving along at a great pace."

In the world of transportation projects, that can mean years.

Said DOT spokesman Joe Fiordaliso: "It might be a stretch to think this [intersection] project would go to construction before fiscal year '08."

Contact staff writer Jennifer Moroz at 856-779-3810 or

Logo spells fresh start for Rte. 130 towns

Source: Posted: August 19, 2004

Branding is used to market everything from pizza to jeans, so why not a collection of 12 older towns along Route 130 and the Delaware River?

Officials in Burlington County set out to do just that six months ago. The result after about a dozen meetings and $27,000: "Burlington County River Route - Gateway to Opportunity."

The logo includes a blue ball with three white stripes converging to symbolize Route 130, the Delaware River, and the River Line light-rail system, all of which help connect the communities. The logo is expected to appear in tourism brochures, business ads, and shopping districts, as well as on billboards.

The trademark for what was formerly known as the Route 130 corridor was announced yesterday in Riverside, a town geographically in the middle of the county's effort to bring the glory days back to a collection of municipalities that faded when sprawl pushed homeowners and shoppers farther away.

Freeholder Director Vince Farias officiated at the ceremony, held at the Sun National Bank - across the street from a River Line stop and a 32-acre tract known as the Golden Triangle that officials hope to redevelop.

It had become somewhat of a local sore point that a region the county had spent so much effort on since the mid-1990s had become associated more with the strip-mall-lined Route 130 than any other feature.

Officials say the new brand and logo would give new dimensions to the effort to attract to the towns developers interested in "smart growth."

Besides Riverside, the municipalities on the Burlington County River Route are Palmyra, Riverton, Cinnaminson, Delran, Delanco, Willingboro, Beverly, Edgewater Park, Burlington Township, Burlington City and Florence.

Liz Thomas, of Thomas-Boyd Communications, said the idea was to give the region an identity while allowing individual towns to make changes to the brand for their own needs.

Her company was awarded a $27,620 contract by the freeholder board in February to oversee the marketing effort. She, Michael Willmann of Haddonfield and a 12-member committee made up of local and county officials met twice a month to come up with the trademark.

The group went through hundreds of phrasing and logo combinations, Thomas said. "We needed to agree on a look and feel that could be customized, but used interchangeably."

"It's something different," Riverside Mayor Jeffrey May said of the brand. "Hopefully, it will bring some excitement."

Contact staff writer Frank Kummer at 856-779-3220 or

Stores try to halt retreat Ranks thinned by competitors, Army-Navy retailers shift niches.

Source: Posted: March 20, 2006

A 60-ton military tank sits in front of Ricky's Army-Navy Store in Delran. Every other week, owner Phil Josephs hops inside, revs the engine, and rocks the British-built Chieftain back and forth on a small concrete pad adjacent to busy Route 130.

It's about as much action as Army-Navy stores see these days.

Once bustling and packed with military surplus items such as pea coats and combat boots, Army-Navy stores are fast disappearing.

Twenty or 30 years ago, when youths flocked to them for chic camouflage garb and trendy soldier-green backpacks, there were "dozens and dozens and dozens" in the region, said Charles Goldberg, whose father started the venerable I. Goldberg Army & Navy in 1919 on Philadelphia's Market Street.

Now, he said, there are a little more than a handful.

National figures are equally stark. About 1,200 Army-Navy stores are in operation, down from 1,800 a decade ago, said Mark Hawver, editor of the Army/Navy Store & Outdoor Merchandiser national magazine. "There is no longer a trade association. We're the mouthpiece for them."

Big-box stores, malls, the Internet, dwindling U.S. military surplus items, and the lack of glamour in running retail businesses that require long hours and hard work have led to Army-Navy casualties, owners say.

The business has enjoyed a few spurts in recent years. The 9/11 attacks and the anthrax scare led to a stampede for gas masks. Then the war in Iraq and renewed patriotism stirred interest in military products.

Hurricane Katrina brought customers wanting emergency and survival goods, while urban camouflage outfits also made a return with the rediscovery of pea coats and military-style hip-hop clothes.

But more is needed to sustain an Army-Navy store in today's market. Survivors have had to sell military wares alongside brand-name work clothes, footwear, sporting goods, paint-ball gear and camping equipment.

Hawver said some Army-Navy stores had branched out to supply law enforcement agencies with uniforms and goods, everything they might need except guns.

Josephs, who keeps the Chieftain tuned so it can be driven onto a flatbed truck when he retires, said his mix of products and willingness to fill special orders had kept his Burlington County shop open for more than 20 years.

The 60-year-old Josephs added government-regulated asbestos-removal bags to his inventory when homeowners and contractors requested the hard-to-locate item. He also sells fishing and hunting licenses.

"It's a hard business, a very complex business," said Goldberg, who at 84 is chairman of the board. His three-floor retail business, now on Chestnut Street in Center City, does a steady business and is bursting with racks of surplus military clothes, mostly from foreign countries; rows of brand-name footwear and outerwear; and stacks of work clothes, underwear and heavy-duty socks.

But it is the last of the I. Goldberg stores. In the '80s, Goldberg operated two stores in the city, and his nephew Richard operated 11 elsewhere in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The last of them closed in 2002.

The business took a blow when malls arrived and when the government stopped selling surplus items to dealers 20 or more years ago. Most of the surplus now comes from foreign countries, Goldberg said.

His daughter, Nana, now the owner, said the store still existed because it had an identity.

"What we offer is a type of shopping, an atmosphere," she said. "We offer good brands at fair prices and a variety of sizes."

Where else might you get a T-shirt that says, "Bomb squad - when you see us running, try to keep up"? Or a bobble-head Marine? How about a Norwegian helmet? Or a World War II Soviet overcoat?

Scott Lupow, owner of Polsky's Work Wear, an Army-Navy established in 1901 in Woodbury, Gloucester County, said the durability of his products kept customers coming back.

He added that Army-Navy stores were practically the only ones that carried thermal underwear and rubber boots in March, considered off-season in the malls. "You know there's going to be a snowstorm in March," he said, smiling.

Lupow, in the business 26 years, has branched out, carrying school and work uniforms, hospital scrubs, industrial supplies, and a wide selection of Wolverine boots. "It sets us apart and gives us an identity."

Like Josephs with his tank, Lupow has made his store a landmark by placing a lifesize statue of an Army soldier by his entrance. He picked up the GI Joe at a trade show in Las Vegas where proprietors of Army-Navy and other stores gather each spring.

Even there, the ranks have thinned. Once, the show catered only to Army-Navy proprietors. Now, Hawver said, these proprietors make up only 6 percent of the attendees, who sometimes number 50,000. Owners of dollar stores and gift shops make up the largest contingent.

Some newer Army-Navy stores got their start at farmers' or flea markets and made a name with paint-ball aficionados.

Racer's Army-Navy used to be in the Amish Farmers' Market in Williamstown, Gloucester County, before opening a separate store in Williamstown. In Camden County, Raul's was in the Berlin Farmers' Market, and Fort Dix Army-Navy was in the Pennsauken Mart before that mart closed.

In Montgomery County, the Montgomeryville Army-Navy, in business for 16 years, used to be in the local mart before opening in a historic building across from the mall. And Lipman's Army-Navy on Philadelphia's Germantown Avenue has left surplus goods behind, opting instead for work clothes, boots and outerwear, said owner Michael Yazdi, in the business 35 years.

Back at I. Goldberg, several customers last week were just browsing the unusual merchandise.

Erik Hierhager, a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, said he had been thrilled to discover the store two years ago.

"It's cheap stuff, and it's pretty durable, like the Army stuff," he said. "I've bought hats and bags and shoes."

Hierhager also purchased a pair of mittens whose tops fold back to expose the fingers for dexterity. "They make so much sense," he said. "Everyone asks where I got them, and I send them here."

Contact staff writer Jan Hefler at 856-779-3224 or

WHISKING AWAY ITS RIVALS The Quickie Manufacturing Corp., a Phila. original, is a leader in all manner of cleaning tools. It was founded by a mop inventor who wanted his dinner on time.

Source: Posted: September 25, 2007

Bedros Vosbikian had ironclad rules in his Melrose Park home. Lo and behold, one evening in 1950, his wife, Vartanoush, failed to promptly serve dinner when he returned from his hardware factory.


The floors, Bedros, the floors, she pleaded as she scrubbed. I have to finish the floors.

A year later, Vosbikian introduced one of the unheralded inventions of the 20th century: the automatic sponge mop. He patented the self-wringing action and designed the mop with chrome-plated parts and stainless-steel springs for department stores.

Vosbikian passed Quickie Manufacturing Corp. to son Peter, who made the mop the core of a cleaning-tools company that in 2006 manufactured and sold 52 million mops, brooms, hand brushes, buckets, and other cleaning-tool products.

"It's the only one we carry," said Mitchell Cohen, owner of Cohen & Co. Hardware, 615 E. Passyunk Ave., who was restocking sponge mops on Wednesday. "Quickie's a decent mop. We don't get a lot of returns. They don't fall apart."

This Microsoft of Mops, so to speak, has its headquarters in a warehouse-looking building one mile off Route 130 in a commercial section of Cinnaminson, Burlington County. The company is privately held and does not disclose sales, but it says it controls about 25 percent of the U.S. cleaning-tools market, estimated at $1.2 billion at retail.

Home-center chains like the Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos. Inc. have sections devoted to Quickie and its cleaning tools. Quickie's biggest revenue item is the 2-in-1 Bulldozer push broom, and its highest-volume product is a toilet brush with container cup.

The company has begun licensing deals to co-brand new products, and it has plans to expand into Europe. This month, Quickie launched a scented broom with the British company Reckitt Benckiser P.L.C., which owns Air Wick and Lysol.

The mop business, which generally flies under the radar of the financial press, is fragmented with new entrants - everyone seems to have an idea for a better one. Two of Quickie's biggest competitors are Freudenburg Household Products, which sells the O'Cedar and Vileda mop brands, and the Libman Co., of Arcola, Ill., marketer of the "Wonder Mop."

Brian Sowinski, director of marketing at Libman, said that the mop-and-broom business was competitive and that "it's sort of hard to reinvent the wheel at this point." The products fill "a pretty basic need," he said, noting that "people get attached to their mops."

Mop companies face imports and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Swiffer disposable wipes, a new category called quick-clean products, which has sponged up some of the traditional growth.

"This has always been a competitive business, even before China. Nothing has changed," said Peter Vosbikian, 66, who is still at the company and is Quickie's chairman. There is a 1963 publicity photo of Vosbikian dressed in a suit and skinny tie modeling the "Ring-A-Mop" in the company archives. "Years ago, people were making mops and brooms in their garages."

Like cheesesteaks and the Mummers, Bedros Vosbikian's automatic sponge mop is a Philadelphia original.

According to an old news clip, he developed a prototype with a broom handle, a breadboard, a rubber sponge, an aluminum cookie sheet, wing nuts and bolts. He manufactured the mop for years in a two-story factory in North Philadelphia near Broad and Lehigh Streets.

In the mid-1970s, the company relocated to Cinnaminson. Less than two years later, Quickie signed a contract to distribute through Kmart Corp. and expanded into a former macaroni plant in Delran.

At its peak in the Philadelphia area, the company had 300 employees in South Jersey. Quickie saw a need for more manufacturing capacity and opened a plant in North Carolina. It closed the South Jersey plants, but kept the headquarters, with about 70 employees, in Cinnaminson.

Michael Magerman waves a broom that scents the air in Quickie's conference room. "Smell that," he said, his nostrils flaring as he sucks in the air. "I love this product."

Magerman joined Quickie as chief executive officer in 2005 after Vosbikian sold a majority interest to the New York investment firm Centre Partners. Financial details were not disclosed.

Magerman was raised in Jenkintown, and his father ran a Philadelphia trousers-manufacturing plant that closed in the mid-1980s. Magerman headed to the West Coast as a young man and cofounded Odyssey Golf with his brother and others. Odyssey developed a new-technology putter that gained acceptance with pros on tour. Callaway Golf Co. bought Odyssey for $130 million in 1997. It was bittersweet for Magerman: Callaway fired him.

"The distinguishing factor is what you do with the end of the stick," Magerman, 45, quips about the difference between a $10 broom and a $100 putter.

Magerman talks about the "compelling value propositions" of Quickie brooms and mops. He signed the licensing agreement with Reckitt Benckiser that led to the scented broom, which will land in 14,000 U.S. stores.

He also signed a licensing agreement with Microban International Ltd. for antimicrobial materials for Quickie products, which the company hopes will ease concerns that dirty sponges and mops breed germs and diseases.

Peter Vosbikian was 9 years old when his father came home to a late dinner. The groundbreaking sponge mop that ensued "has stood the test of time," Peter Vosbikian said.

Bedros Vosbikian, though, is mostly forgotten. "God rest his soul. When my dad died, it was in his obituary," Peter Vosbikian said. "But that's about it."

Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or

Let's talk Turkish The area now boasts more restaurants and markets highlighting the varied, well-seasoned Mediterranean fare. Or, cook up your own kebabs.

Source: Posted: September 10, 2009

I visited Turkey in the '70s in worn blue jeans with a backpack and very little money in my pocket. But I was able to feast on meals so memorable that I recall the flavors to this day:

I ate lahmacun, flatbread topped with tangy ground lamb, hot from a wood-burning oven; plates of piyaz, made with plump, tender white runner beans, drizzled with lemon; and mussels stuffed with blue-black rice, studded with black currants. I indulged on large, sesame-crusted bread rings sold by street vendors who plucked them from a rod stacked with freshly baked breads, and I savored tiny cups of bitter roasted Turkish coffee, which tempered the sweetness of the kadaif, a shredded wheat pastry stuffed with walnuts and drenched in honey.

Turkish food is subtle, complex, varied, and well-seasoned, highlighting the grains and beans brought to Turkey by nomadic tribes along with Turks' own take on vegetables, like creamy eggplant, tiny fried okra, and lumpy squash.

One Turkish restaurateur told me a good Turkish chef must not only master a hundred eggplant recipes, but also perfect the art of combining foods for easy digestion.

Historically, there have not been many choices for sampling these specialties in the Philadelphia region. But in recent years, a growing community of Turks have opened markets, cafes, and restaurants. And while the offerings are not quite as cheap as the meals I ate 25 years ago, they are still quite reasonably priced.

Until my next visit to Turkey, I'm happy to be able to cook Turkish food at home and enjoy specialties like doner kebab at restaurants. I'll definitely be visiting Philadelphia's first Turkish restaurant, Konak, soon, to eat small, rich red-gold-skinned barbounia, my favorite Mediterranean fish.

Here are a few of the places I recommend for Turkish fare:

Star Manti Cafe

Heritage Square Plaza, Delran, Burlington County; 856-461-0024,

We felt welcome immediately at this family-run restaurant where the owners pay attention to details like custom-embroidered linen silverware holders, jacquard tablecloths, and perky herbs from the garden of one of the cooks. We started with herbed red lentil soup followed by meze (small appetizers that are the original tapas): savory pastries like borek, gozleme and cigari, karisik kizartma (olive-oil-fried vegetables), and manti, the restaurant's namesake dish, meat dumplings dressed with yogurt, dried mint, and tomato-butter sauce.

Dessert was a delicate pudding beloved by Istanbulites, the unlikely but exquisite tavuk gogsu. The chef had just finished a fresh batch, shredding poached chicken breast into fine threads, which she sweetened, simmered with milk, and sprinkled with cinnamon - a rare treat.

For our finale, our server brought an elaborate engraved silver tray with a lidded server perched on a red velvet cushion. Off came the cover, as ceremoniously as any cloche at Le Bec-Fin, revealing a tiny porcelain cup of fragrant, fresh-brewed Turkish coffee.

Owner and chef Serife Ayakta came to this country after the 1999 earthquake in Istanbul, when her home collapsed and her mother was killed. At her restaurant, she is trying to preserve the traditional dishes and the soul of her homeland: "Cooking must come from the heart," she said. "My hands have to go into everything I serve."

Efes Turkish Market

4000 Route 130 N., Delran; 856-461-6383, (next door to Star Manti Cafe)

Try the olive bread rings from Taskin Bakery and spices like tart ground sumac, maras (red) and Urfa biber (black) ground chiles, and blackseed (nigella). The owner, Serdar Canpolat, speaks English well and can answer any questions.

Divan Turkish Market

5006 Route 130 N., Delran; 856-461-0205.

This larger market has a halal butcher shop and sells giant Turkish hazelnuts, pomegranate salad dressing, and sweet hazelnut spread.

S & H Kebab House

611 E. Passyunk Ave.; 267-639-3214,

Huseyin Yuksel is the accomplished chef and partner with Sal Kucuk, who studied in America and ended up owning Roxborough's Ridge Diner and Mount Ephraim's Black Horse Diner. Naturally, they specialize in kebabs, served in a surprisingly upscale ambience complete with table linens.

Yuksel's food has the depth of flavor achieved by careful seasoning and marinating. Two of my favorites are their moist, juicy kofte (minced lamb seasoned with onion juice, garlic, parsley, and spices) and their best-selling red-peppered chicken or lamb adana kebabs. Homemade desserts like soft kazandibi (upside-down pudding) with its requisite well-browned bottom and sutlac, creamy oven-baked rice pudding, are well worth the calories.

Queen Village Food Market

339 Bainbridge St.;

215-625-2405, www.queenvillagemarkets. com

John Atalan runs the market, a clean but unassuming corner store with plenty of chips and snacks but also a diverse selection of Turkish foods including tender dried apricots from his father's farm, and small, narrow Antep pistachios.

Stock up on large-grained baldo rice - perfect for pilaf - also bulgur wheat for tabbouleh (kisir in Turkish), thick country-style refrigerated (not frozen) phyllo dough, best for savory pies, and the sour cherry juice I learned to love in Turkey. Trays of baklava garnished with brilliant green pistachios at the cash register will tempt on the way out.


228 Vine St.; 215-592-1212, www.konakturkishrestaurant. com

Konak, the city's first Turkish restaurant, opened seven years ago and is now just completing a major renovation. The restaurant will have fresh fish tanks for live Turkish/Mediterranean fish like barbounia (red mullet), levrek (branzino), and hamsi (anchovies).

Although Americans are more familiar with Greek seafood cookery, Turkey has huge stretches of Aegean, Black Sea, and Mediterranean coastline.

"We only serve what we eat ourselves," says Melek Basran, chef at this family-run restaurant and mother of Ayse Atay, who serves and helps manage. Basran has been staying up at night lately reading cookbooks for new fish recipes.

Family heirlooms on the walls include the tiny silver filigreed wooden clogs worn by Ayse's great-grandmother, her lavishly silver-embroidered velvet jacket so small it's hard to believe it was worn by a grown-up, and her hand-woven pestemal, or Turkish bath towel. Konak also serves Turkish wines and beers and has a full bar.

Divan Turkish Kitchen and Bar

918 S. 22d St. (corner of Carpenter & 22d Streets); 215-545-5790,

Owned by brother and sister Ilker and Fulya Ugur, Divan Turkish Kitchen and Bar is housed in a once-decrepit building that they have lovingly renovated. Their manti is a close contender for the best I've sampled. Coban salatasi (shepherd's salad) was chunky with diced-to-order ripe tomatoes and cucumber in a lemony dressing. Queen Village is also home to their Caf Fulya (727 S. 2d St.; 267-909-9937,, serving a light menu of Turkish salads, beverages, sandwiches, and pastries in a stylish red and gold setting. Try mucver, zucchini pancakes with yogurt, and spinach-filled ispanakli borek.

Armenian Delight

2591 West Chester Pike, Broomall; 610-353-7711.

This shop carries many Turkish food ingredients, evidence of the intertwined relationship of Armenians and Turks.

Mercimek Corbasi (Red Lentil Soup)

Makes 10 servings

1 pound split red lentils (2 cups), rinsed and drained

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Turkish red pepper paste

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried mint or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

4 tablespoons corn oil

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup milk

1. In a large pot, mix red lentils, onion, garlic, tomato and pepper pastes, salt, black pepper, and mint. Add two quarts of water to the pot and cook it at high heat at first. After the water boils, lower the heat to medium-low. Simmer half an hour or until the lentils have disintegrated. Make sure to mix everything once in a while with a metal whisk.

2. In another saucepan, combine corn oil and flour and stir it for a full minute. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring until smooth. Add to the soup and stir until it boils. As soon as it boils, the soup is done.

- From Serife B. Ayakta, chef at Star Manti Turkish Kitchen

Per serving: 132 calories, 6 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 6 grams fat, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 152 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Lamb Adana Kebab

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound ground lamb

4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons maras biber (spicy Turkish crushed red pepper flakes - substitute 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes)

2 tablespoons red pepper paste (they use Mis brand from Gaziantep)

1. Combine ingredients well and divide into 4 to 6 portions.

2. Form each portion around a skewer - preferably flat sword skewers - in a layer about 1/2-inch thick. Make several thick oblongs from aluminum foil and lay over a hot charcoal grill to keep the kebabs from touching the grill itself.

3. Grill 8 minutes total, 4 minutes on each side or until well-browned.

4. Serve with rice pilaf, grilled long hot green peppers, grilled halved plum tomatoes, and a small salad of shredded red cabbage and carrots mixed with a few leaves of tender lettuce, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.

- Courtesy of S & H Kebab House

Per serving (based on 6): 227 calories, 13 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 18 grams fat, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 1,639 milligrams sodium, 1 grams dietary fiber.

Turkish Semolina Cookoes (Sekerpare)

Makes 36-40 cookies

For the Dough:

3/4 pound (2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 pound ( 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons) fine semolina

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into bits

1/4 pound ( 3/4 cup minus 1 tablespoon) confectioners' sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 egg white

40 whole hazelnuts

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Syrup and Garnish:

2 cups sugar

Juice of 1 lemon (3 table- spoons)

1. To make the dough, rub two 18-by-13-inch half-sheet pans (or other large baking pans) with softened butter. Do not preheat the oven. If possible, set each baking pan inside a second pan so the cookie bottoms bake evenly without burning.

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, semolina, baking powder, and salt.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, eggs, and egg white, and beat until light and fluffy, 5 to 6 minutes, scraping down the sides once or twice. Add the flour mixture and beat again, just long enough for the dough to come together.

4. Dust your hands with flour and form the dough into one or two long, thin logs, about 1 inch in diameter. Cut the logs into 1-inch sections, and shape each section into a walnut-sized ball. Toss the balls lightly but vigorously onto the baking pans so they stick to the pan and flatten slightly. Rearrange if necessary so the balls are evenly spaced on the pans.

5. Press one hazelnut, with the pointy side facing up, into the center of each dough ball, so the tip of the hazelnut is at the same level as the cookie. Brush the cookies lightly but evenly with egg yolk, making sure excess yolk doesn't pool into the center.

6. Place the trays in the oven, and set the oven temperature to 400F. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops of the cookies are light golden and crackled.

7. To make the syrup, which must be ready when the cookies come out of the oven, combine 3 cups water and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then simmer for 2 minutes or until the syrup is completely clear. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.

8. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, pour all the hot syrup over them, making sure all the cookies are evenly drenched in the syrup. There should be about 1/2 inch of syrup in the pans, which will be absorbed by the cookies as they cool. Store covered and at room temperature for up to three days.

- From Starting With Ingredients: Baking by Aliza Green

Per cookie (based on 40): 153 calories, 2 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams sugar, 7 grams fat, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 65 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.

Cumberland Farms departing New Jersey

Source: Posted: Mar 30, 2014

The Cumberland Farms outlet is shown here on Chester Avenue in Delran. The chain is selling its stores in New Jersey.

A well-known name in the convenience store industry will disappear later this spring in South Jersey.

Once a prominent part of convenience retail — perhaps as familiar to many consumers as Wawa or 7-Eleven — the Cumberland Farms outlets in New Jersey have been sold.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts chain reached an agreement to sell more than two dozen stores in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

Cumberland Farms, based in Framingham, said the 27 stores are being sold to Petroleum Marketing Group of Woodbridge, Va.

“The company’s strategic plan is to continue its operations in the New York, New England and Florida markets,” spokesman Derek Beckwith said.

Pressed about a sales price, Beckwith declined to comment, nor would he give a reason for the pullout from the Garden State. He also would not comment on Cumberland Farms’ revenue.

A family-owned business founded in 1957, Cumberland Farms describes itself as the eighth-largest independent convenience store operator by units in the United States with 570 stores.

Petroleum Marketing will continue to operate all mid-Atlantic locations as convenience stores and expects all workers to stay on with the new ownership, the company said in a statement.

Both firms are privately owned.

“We cannot discuss the cost or what we paid for the acquisition. As we get closer to the middle of April and closing on the deal, then we will be in a better position to discuss the details and facts,” said Andre LeBlanc, an official with Petroleum Marketing.

It was also unclear if there would be store closings or layoffs.

“As part of the agreement, driven by Cumberland Farms’ commitment to its employees, team members working in these stores will have the opportunity to continue employment with PMG, which plans to continue operating these locations as convenience stores,” Beckwith said in a statement.

In a phone interview, he would not comment further on possible closings or other issues.

Wawa, a major player in New Jersey, has been expanding its presence in recent years with new stores that include gasoline stations. Another Wawa with gas is planned for Maple Shade. It is expected to break ground later this year.

Cumberland Farms started as a farm in 1939 and opened its first store in 1962. In New Jersey, the company has declined in recent years to 16 stores.

In Burlington County, Cumberland Farms has a small store on Chester Avenue in Delran and several along the Jersey Shore, including in Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Little Egg Harbor, and the Manahawkin section of Stafford.

Delran shopping center targeted for redevelopment

Source: Posted: Sep 3, 2014

DELRAN — After many years of inactivity, a vacant and ailing shopping center at Route 130 and Chester Avenue, the so-called Sam's Club Center, appears to be getting a new shot in the arm.

That's because of New York City-based Sun Equity Partners, a company that has invested millions in other shopping centers in the region, said Abe Tress, director of acquisitions for Sun Equity.

"I think Route 130 is booming," Tress said. "It needs some tender loving care."

The company bought the 17-acre property for $5.2 million. County and state officials have said the economic downturn clearly hurt commercial real estate in the area.

The site was assessed at $7 million as recently as 2011. The latest assessment showed it was valued for tax purposes at $5.3 million.

Despite that, Mayor Ken Paris said it was great news that the site, formerly owned by Vornado Realty Trust in Paramus, Bergen County, finally was going to get a face-lift.

Attempts to reach Vornado for comment were unsuccessful this week.

Paris said the township has several major shopping complexes near the Sam's Club Center that had been a draw for the property.

Sam's Club, a warehouse club chain and a division of Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world, moved to Cinnaminson several years ago.

Another retailer, Staples, the office supply company, moved to the nearby Hartford Corners shopping center, also on Route 130. A Chinese restaurant closed soon after.

Paris said he had been anticipating some good news for several weeks, but had not seen the actual change of ownership until this week. He said he did not want to make an announcement until it was official.

"I'm excited about it," he said. "Everybody was concerned about the property. ... I had a lot of meetings with a lot of redevelopers, but nothing happened. I think (Sun Equity) is a great opportunity. I think this is fantastic."

Tress said he could not name the retailers interested in the property but said the center, next to Holy Cross High School and across the street from a recently developed Wawa, had potential.

He said his company, which intends to invest at least $10 million in renovations, planned to call the center The Grove at Delran, similar to other shopping centers the company has been involved with in the past few years.

He cited Sun Equity's work at two other locations, in Whiting, Ocean County, and in Howell, Monmouth County.

For example, at The Grove at Howell, a 290,000-square-foot shopping plaza on Route 9, Tress pointed out that a BJ's Wholesale Club will be the anchor. The rest of the site will open in phases and have a number of large- and small-box retailers as well as restaurants.

Paris said he looked forward to a similar redevelopment of the Sam's Club Center because of its ideal location and the area's heavy traffic volume.

The center opened in 1972 with a Two Guys department store. It was a popular shopping venue for area residents into the 1980s.

Long vacant Delran shopping plaza gets new owner

Source: Posted: September 6, 2014

The once-thriving but long-vacant shopping plaza in Delran that once housed a Sam's Club wholesale discount store has been sold and expects to sign tenants soon, its new owner said.

Sun Equity Partners, based in Lakewood, Ocean County, acquired the Route 130 property from Vornado Realty Trust last week, Sun's acquisitions director, Abe Tress, said Friday.

"We're in talks with large retailers," said Tress, who declined to name them "because we haven't signed them." His four-year-old firm specializes in distressed properties like the Delran site, he said, which has been largely unused for a decade.

"We paid $5.25 million, but we're going to invest $10 million to make a class shopping center," Tress said.

Prospective tenants will be attracted by its great frontage at the northwest corner of Route 130 and Chester Avenue, he said, and by the high volume of traffic along the corridor. "A lot of good guys and banks want to be in there."

Tress said he hoped to start construction within six months.

Delran Mayor Ken Paris said Sun told him it was looking at all options, including big-box stores, that would take over the site.

The shopping center was the township's ninth-largest taxpayer when the Sam's Club relocated, paying about $165,000 in taxes annually.

Paris and Township Administrator Jeff Hatcher could not immediately say how much the town had collected in recent years from the site.

Tress said the interior floor space of the white, L-shaped building - which once also housed a Staples office supply store and a Chinese restaurant - is 168,000 square feet.

Only a Wendy's restaurant, which stands apart from the main structure, is still in business on the property.

The Chinese restaurant and Staples lost business after Sam's Club departed in 2003 and eventually also left, according to Tress, who described the site as "impeccably maintained" by Vornado since.

Vornado, based in Manhattan, did not return a request for comment.

Sam's Club, a subsidiary of the Walmart chain, moved into the center in 1989. Ten years later, it announced it was looking for another property that would enable it to sell meats and fresh-baked goods, which it said it could not do at the Delran location.

In January 2003, it moved to a new shopping plaza at Andover Road and Route 130 in Cinnaminson, which it now shares with a Walmart and other retail stores.

About the same time, even as Delran lost Sam's Club, some new businesses moved to town: A Lowe's home center and a ShopRite supermarket broke ground on Route 130, after a Home Depot, all a few miles north of the site the Sam's Club vacated.

856-779-3841 doreillyinq

Cinnaminson block turns into big draw for gas, convenience store chains

The property where the Riverton Pool and Garden Center sits on Route 130 in Cinnaminson has been sold and a super Wawa will be built there.

Nancy Rokos / Photojournalist

Looking north on Route 130 in Cinnaminson on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, construction is underway for a Citgo gas station at the intersection with Union Landing Road.

Nancy Rokos / Photojournalist

Source: Posted: Dec 29, 2015

CINNAMINSON — For those who "Gottahava Wawa," a new location may soon be in store, complete with a side of competition and controversy brewing.

The township announced that the convenience store giant has reached an agreement to buy the Riverton Pool and Garden Center property at Route 130 and Taylor's Lane and plans to build a new location and gas station.

That's welcome news to officials.

"I am very happy we won't have another vacant property," Mayor John McCarthy said. "I think Wawa is a strong corporation and will be great for the township."

Wawa is a chain of 700 convenience retail stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida with more than half offering gasoline. The private company, based in Pennsylvania, approached the municipality last spring about constructing a new store with multiple gas pumps after entering into talks with the owner of Riverton Pool and Garden, which is relocating, about acquiring the property.

"It's not a super Wawa. It's more of the medium-size prototype," said Mike Minton, the township's economic development coordinator.

The area appears to be a hot commodity of late for retailers.

Two doors down, Citgo has broken ground on a convenience store, gas station and car wash at Route 130 and Union Landing Road.

The close proximity of the two projects has led several to ask why the township would give the green light to another gas station just yards away. The questions came following the announcement of the Wawa agreement on Cinnaminson's Facebook page.

Officials said Wawa representatives knew about the Citgo project and decided to proceed anyway, which likely will lead to competition that will be beneficial for consumers.

"Cinnaminson residents will be the beneficiaries of lower gas prices, as these major corporations battle each other for market share," Township Committeeman Anthony Minniti said. "We residents also benefit in that a long-abandoned factory site is being redeveloped as Citgo gas/convenience as well as a top-of-the-line car wash owned by Cinnaminson residents."

As the gas and convenience stores battle it out, Riverton Pool and Garden Center will relocate, owner Dennis Grigioni said. He said the company decided to sell the property in order to downsize operations, but it is still committed to the area.

"We're staying local," Grigioni said. "The opportunity came along as far as the property is concerned, and it's under contract."

Once the deal is finalized, the longtime business, which puts out colorful displays for nearly every holiday, will move to a location either in town or Delran.

Grigioni said he appreciated all the support from the public and will let everyone know of the store's new location soon.

"We're going to be here for a while yet," he said. "We will make an announcement as we go along on where we decide to go once that's firmed up."

Many expressed fond memories of the center, but others questioned why local officials didn't encourage redevelopment of vacant sites in town such as the former Triboro Jeep-Pontiac-Isuzu dealership property across Taylor's Lane.

Wawa did try to acquire the Triboro property, but the cost and size of the more than 12-acre site bordering Delran were too much, officials said.

Regardless, they believe Wawa could help spur redevelopment of that site, too, along with creating dozens of construction jobs and new jobs for the 50 employees who will be needed to staff the convenience store.

While Wawa, known for its made-to-order hoagies and coffee, has plenty of fans, not everyone is putting out the red carpet.

Cinnaminson Riggins owner John Feghali said he and many others don't see a need to add another one, especially since there are already a half dozen stores within six miles of the one proposed.

"Might as well call it the 'Wawa State' and not the Garden State, is the vibe I am getting from all social media posts," said Feghali, who led a "Say No to Wawa" campaign five years ago.

In the long run, he said he doesn't expect Wawa will hurt his business as much as the new Citgo.

Township officials said Citgo and Wawa are not "fly-by-night operations" and would not be going forward if they didn't believe the locations could be successful.

"They know what they are doing and believe the free market will support their investment," Minniti said. "With regard to Citgo, they are offering diesel/convenience and target the industrial traffic that traverses Taylor's Lane and Union Landing Road. Conversely, Wawa targets traditional travelers of the Route 130 corridor."

So, with a thumbs-up from committee members last week, the proposed Wawa will proceed to the approval process.

"The committee deemed it to be consistent with the redevelopment plan and the master plan, so the next step is a formal application to the Planning Board, and I would expect that to happen in January, seeking preliminary approval," Minton said.

Todd McHale: 609-871-8163; email:; Twitter: @toddmchale

Lidl gets ready to build multiple locations in Burlington County

Source: Posted: Apr 10, 2017

Lidl, a German-based retail company operating about 10,000 stores in 26 European countries, is looking to build a 36,000-square-foot grocery store on Route 541 in Burlington Township.

Burlington County seems to be an attractive option for a popular European grocery store chain that's looking to make inroads into the United States.

Lidl, a German-based discount retailer that operates about 10,000 stores in 26 European countries, is moving forward with plans to open stores in Burlington Township, Cinnaminson and Delran.

The new sites are among 100 stores from New Jersey to Georgia that Lidl plans to build as part of its expansion into the U.S.

If all goes as planned, Burlington Township could be the local community where shoppers get a first look.

"They're ready to go," Township Administrator Walt Corter said. "They got their approvals (from the municipality) and they're just waiting for approval from the (Burlington) County Planning Board, because it's on Route 541, which is a county road."

Once Lidl gets that approval, it is expected to move quickly with its 36,000-square-foot supermarket.

"They're going to start clearing the lot and go to work," Corter said. "They hope to be in there by the end of the year. This is an aggressive schedule."

The store and parking lot will use six out of the 16 acres available for development. There are preliminary discussions about adding two restaurants and a bank next to the grocery, officials said. A traffic light will be installed at the entrance on Kelly Drive, and a sidewalk will be built along K-Mart Drive.

"We're excited about it," Corter said. "It's going to continue to bring competition for food markets and expand the growth along 541."

In Delran, Lidl representatives will go before the Planning Board on April 20 seeking final approval for the location at Route 130 and Fairview Street.

"They originally came in in 2015, but they had to get approval from the county and N.J. DOT because Route 130 is a state (highway) and Fairview is a county road," Planning Board secretary Kathy Phillips said.

Lidl is planning a 36,000-square-foot store off Route 130 just before the jughandle and extended to Fairview Street with access to both roads.

If the board grants Lidl final site-plan approval later this month, followed by adoption of a resolution in May, the project can proceed.

"I would say it will be quickly," Phillips said. "It will be sometime in the next few months."

News about Lidl has been welcome to many.

"It's really been positive when you mention it to residents," Phillips said.

In Cinnaminson, Lidl is proposing a store at Route 130 and Highland Avenue as part of a redevelopment project.

"The township has executed a purchase agreement with the Garden State Inn in order to transfer the property to Lidl," Mayor Anthony Minniti said. "Lidl is in their due-diligence phase, evaluating the property and reviewing various title reports. Updates from the engineering and legal teams are very positive, and we do not anticipate any negative findings."

The company is expected to submit an application to the Planning Board and other governmental agencies in a couple of months, according to the mayor.

The Cinnaminson location will need approval from the Department of Transportation, but officials don't expect the proposed redevelopment project to be a major issue since it will eliminate a number of curb cuts off the highway.

The approval process could take several months, but Minniti believes it will be worth the wait.

"We are excited about Lidl, because it repurposes a current nonconforming use, built some 60 years ago, that is in major need of redevelopment," he said. "The existing Garden State Inn no longer serves the needs of our community or the traveling public, and has in the past been a public safety concern requiring a disproportionate amount of township resources."

A representative from Lidl's U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Fitness center, four retail spaces coming to long empty Delran shopping center

Source: Posted: Jul 21, 2017

Construction is underway on an Edge Fitness gym at a vacant shopping center along Route 130 in Delran on Thursday, July 20, 2017 Nancy Rokos / Photojournalist

DELRAN — After years of inactivity, a long-vacant shopping center on Route 130 is finally getting a makeover.

The Planning Board approved plans last month for Sun Equity Partners to develop the empty shopping center at Chester Avenue into a fitness center, three retail stores and a standalone business.

The property has been empty for about 10 years, since the membership warehouse Sam’s Club moved farther down Route 130 to Cinnaminson, and the Staples office supply store moved to the nearby Hartford Corners shopping center, also on Route 130. A Chinese restaurant closed shortly thereafter, leaving the complex vacant.

Sun Equity Partners bought the 17-acre property for $5.2 million in 2014, and residents wondered what would eventually be built there.

“It’s been a site people have been concerned about for a long time,” Mayor Ken Paris said.

Edge Fitness, a gym chain with locations in New Jersey and Connecticut, will move into a 38,000-square-foot space at the corner of the center nearest to Chester Avenue. Construction is underway, but officials were not sure when the gym will open.

There is no shortage of fitness centers in Delran. Crunch Fitness recently opened in the Millside Shopping Center on Route 130, and Giant Fitness is a stone’s throw away on Chester Avenue. Planet Fitness is a short drive north up Route 130.

“Delran will come to be known as the land of physical fitness I guess, but this is a positive,” Paris said.

The shopping center at Route 130 and Chester Avenue, which once included Staples and Sam’s Club as tenants, will soon have an Edge Fitness gym. Nancy Rokos / Photojournalist

Tenants have not been determined for the three retail spaces in the rest of the building, which is about 130,000 square feet, or the 3,400-square-foot pad site to be constructed, according to Township Administrator Jeff Hatcher.

Regardless of what businesses come in, officials are excited to see renewed interest in a property that had been an eyesore. The gym is a good start, they said.

“The township is excited with this first step toward helping to return the vitality of this site on the Route 130 corridor in Delran, as we see it as hopefully anchoring the future improvements that we anticipate will be coming to the rest of the site,” Hatcher said.

“It’s great to have businesses interested in coming to Delran,” Paris said. “Hopefully, the developer decides to bring more businesses the residents can enjoy.”

Danielle DeSisto: 609-871-8050; email:; Twitter: @DeSistoBCT

Dormant Delran shopping center has new life

Source: Posted: Aug. 11, 2017

Greenleaf at Delran will include a 40,000-square-foot fitness center, among other things. The long-dormant shopping center on Route 130 South at Chester Avenue has new life.
(Photo: Sun Equity Partners)

DELRAN – When Sam’s Club vacated the shopping plaza at the corner of Route 130 and Chester Avenue about 14 years ago, it was the death knell for the center.

But there are signs of life at the long-dormant spot. On a recent morning, construction was ongoing on the far left section of the structure closest to Chester Avenue.

According to Delran Mayor Ken Paris, once complete, Edge Fitness Club will rise in that location.

“That’s what they’re working on now,” Paris explained.

Now called Greenleaf at Delran, the 171,000-square-foot retail center is owned by New York-based developer Sun Equity Partners, which acquired the property in 2014. The fitness center is set to occupy about 40,000 square feet.

Paris said the developer also submitted paperwork concerning an interest to subdivide the building to provide for a portion of it to be a trampoline park/entertainment center and also a daycare center. The child care facility would be more toward the far right side of the structure, he said. A separate pad at the front of the center will likely be for a restaurant or bank, the developer said.

Sam’s left the location in 2003 and moved a mile down the road to Cinnaminson at Route 130 South and Andover Road nearby a Walmart. Other stores and restaurants, such as a Chinese restaurant and Staples, followed suit.

A Wendy’s restaurant sits near the front of the plaza area next to Route 130 Diner, and a Wawa is directly across the street.

“We’re excited that they’re actually getting that whole property back up and running,” Paris said. “It’s a ratable and great revenue coming to the town so we’re all for it. Our Delran residents are going to be physically fit with the amount of fitness centers that are going up in Delran. I think this will be our fourth.

“Some residents may feel, ‘oh, another fitness center,’ but at the same time, it’s at least another revenue generator and at the same time, can add to more employment for the residents in the area. It’s definitely a positive and we’re pretty excited about having them come.”

Sun Equity Partners director of operations Abe Tress said the trampoline park and daycare center are “two national retailers,” and although neither have signed their leases yet, they expect them to do so in two to three months.

“There’s a lot of parking and the area would work very well,” he said of a trampoline park. “The community would love it.”

It’s not as if the area has not had redevelopment before. Hartford Corners, which features a ShopRite, Starbucks, Wells Fargo bank, Best Cuts, Smashburger and more is nearby on the other side of Route 130 along with a Lowe’s, Saladworks, Chick-fil-A and more. There is also a Staples and Planet Fitness and other stores and shops right there.

But the empty plaza just down the road has long been considered an eyesore in town.

Greenleaf at Delran is a retail site planned for Route 130 South and Chester Avenue.The 171,000-square-foot shopping plaza once housed a Sam's Club and redevelopment is on tap now for a fitness center, trampoline park, daycare center and more.
(Photo: Photo provided)

“The economy definitely took a downfall for a while,” Paris said. “That was a big property that was available for a long time. It sat vacant for a long time and it was due to a tough economy and the concern of businesses taking a chance during a tough economy and making it.

“This new developer purchased the property, we met when they first purchased it. I gave them some ideas of what I’d like to see there. It’s taken them awhile but it seems like businesses are starting to pick up again and taking the opportunity with the economy coming back.”

Tress expects the fitness center to open in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the trampoline park and daycare center in the first quarter of 2018, once the leases are signed and all the approvals are in for the latter two.

“It’s finally coming together,” he said. “It’ been a lot of fun but a lot of hard work as well. It’s always good to see your hard work come to fruition.”

Celeste E. Whittaker; (856) 486-2437;

A flat, thick, weird-tasting soda you'll only find in Jersey: 'This is our crack'

WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For the Inquirer
Boost syrup, a staple made and consumed almost solely in Jersey’s river towns. It reportedly has three times the amount of caffeine as Mountain Dew.

Source: Posted: September 14, 2017

Double-fisting a syrupy drink outside Vid’s deli in South Jersey on Thursday morning, retired mail carrier Tim LeConey and a fellow Riverside native recounted their introductions to BOOST! like aging sailors reminiscing about their first sights of the sea.

“It was in my bottle,” LeConey said.

Riverside Township Mayor George Conard added: “Yeah, it’s called milk-BOOST! I used to put a little bit of BOOST! syrup in my kid’s milk bottle.”

Some people call it a soda, but it’s not technically a soft drink.  It’s hard to find outside a handful of towns in Burlington County, but it’s a staple of the river communities, with a quick shot of syrup believed to be an instant cure for upset stomachs and finicky babies.

“Because the guy who invented it,” LeConey said, “was a pharmacist.”

Despite its longevity and local popularity, this flat, thick, weird beverage has never caught on beyond its South Jersey roots.

A name that stuck

WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Philadelphia Inquirer
Mario Scott, owner of Vids deli, pours a Boost beverage in Delran, New Jersey.

BOOST! was born in a Riverside pharmacy around 1910, when pharmacist Benjamin Faunce reportedly set out to create a soft drink without bubbles.

The result was a syrup that, once mixed with plain water, creates a caramel-colored drink with a strong, sappy, citrus flavor.  He called it “TAKABOOST.” The original version has 32 grams of sugar and plenty of caffeine in an 8-ounce container.

The name has gone through several iterations. After Faunce died in 1949, family members argued over the direction the Tak-A-Boost company was taking. One faction split off and formed the rival Drink-Atoast Co., which created and sold a similar product. Tak-A-Boost sued Drink-Atoast over formulas, lost, and went bankrupt in 1957. Drink-Atoast then scooped up the trademarks and used the formulas.

In 1985, the name of the beverage was changed back to BOOST!

“Everyone called it that anyhow,” the company’s former president, Charles Dugan, said in 1995. “Besides, BOOST! was a more energetic, marketable name.”

In the mid-’90s, when nutrition-product giant Mead Johnson attempted to sell its sleek new diet drink of the same name in the eight-county South Jersey area, BOOST! struck back. It won a temporary restraining order claiming the drink infringed on their trademarks on its home turf. Mead paid a $350,000 settlement in 1996 and stopped shipment to South Jersey.

In 1997, Drink-Atoast officially became the BOOST! Co.

Got to have it

When LeConey landed with family last week in Riverside, fleeing Hurricane Irma from his retirement home in Florida, his first stop was Vid’s to get himself a BOOST!

WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / For The Philadelphia Inquirer Melanie McCluskey, 30, of Riverside, shows off her slushy BOOST! beverage.

“When I go in there I say, ‘Give me a large crack,’ ” LeConey said. “Because this is our crack.”

Mario Scott, who grew up in Northeast Philadelphia but now lives in Delran, Burlington County, bought the deli in 2012.

“Sometimes, people come in three times a day,” Scott said. “Some people actually drink it for hangovers.”

Retailers usually mix the syrup with noncarbonated water and ice, and dispense it from large coolers or slushy machines. Consumers can also buy growlers of the syrup and mix it at home. In recent years, a decaffeinated version was developed, and new flavors have been added, including blueberry, watermelon, pink lemonade, green apple, cherry, and mango, popular with children.

Baby boomers still appreciate the original, and fondly remember ringing their straws with sourdough pretzels for a salty twist.

The retail reach doesn’t stray far from the factory — typically from Trenton to Woodbury and as far east as Williamstown. Riverfront towns like Palmyra and Riverside remain the drink’s strongholds, with colorful signs in storefront windows proudly proclaiming that the drink can be found inside.

In the mid-’90s, the company sold enough BOOST! to make eight million, eight-ounce glasses of the soft drink a year. Devotees buy it everywhere from wholesale clubs to supermarkets to local delis like Vid’s, and even by mail-order — the company ships thousands of gallons a year.

“I’ll eventually have it shipped in to Florida,” LeConey said. “I don’t drink coffee. So first thing in the morning, I got to have my BOOST!”

Demoliton of motel will open door for more redevelopment in Cinnaminson

Source: Posted: November 23, 2017

CINNAMINSON — The way has been cleared for the demolition of a motel on Route 130 to make room for a grocery store.

Under the agreement executed with the owners of the Garden State Inn, the municipality has agreed to buy the old motel and pay up to $200,000 to knock it down by the end of next month.

Once approvals have been granted, German-based discounter Lidl plans to build a store on the site.

“This represents another significant step forward in Cinnaminson's effort to redevelop this area,” Mayor Anthony Minniti said of the project, which encompasses the motel, a former azalea farm and a Friendly’s restaurant.

Friendly’s will remain and be incorporated into the overall redevelopment, which has been in the works for years.

Earlier this year, the township struck a deal to buy the motel for $4.4 million. To ensure the redevelopment will not be delayed, the township amended the agreement to assist in the demolition.

“This will result in a significant cost savings to the township, since the owner of the Garden State Inn is not required to pay prevailing wage rates,” Minniti said.

The mayor, who is also the director of redevelopment for the committee, credited former Mayor Michael Minton, Township Administrator Michael King and Deputy Mayor William “Ben” Young for putting the deal together.

The plan calls for the municipality to serve as the redevelopment authority, which allows it to control the purchase, sale and transfer of the properties among the different entities. The funds put out by the township will be reimbursed by the developer that acquires the property in the coming months.

Lidl, which operates more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries, will need approvals from the Planning Board, Burlington County and New Jersey Department of Transportation before construction can begin.

And it can’t come soon enough for Minniti, who has been working on local redevelopment for more than a decade.

“I believe we are about a year away from breaking ground, assuming the new administration continues to follow through with the final action items,” he said. “I'm hopeful they can follow the blueprint that will be left for them, as this represents the most significant redevelopment project for Cinnaminson since the previous Cinnaminson Mall, motel row and five-points intersection redevelopment of the mid-2000s.”

Two other Lidl supermarkets also are in the works in Burlington County.

In Burlington Township, Lidl has most of its approvals for a 36,000-square-foot supermarket on 16 acres off Route 541 behind the former Mattson's grocery. There is discussion about adding two restaurants and a bank next to the store, officials said. A traffic light will be installed at the entrance on Kelly Drive, and a sidewalk will be built along K-Mart Drive.

In Delran, Lidl is waiting for county and state approvals to build a 36,000-square-foot store at Route 130 and Fairview Street.   

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