The column that says there is nothing wrong with downtown Bridgeton that cleaning up a few eyesores can’t fix, because we took a tour through town at 8:45 tonight, checking every store, and we’ve been pushing for lighted, neon signs and guess what we found: The CompleteCare sign on Washington Street is a beautiful, blue, neon sign worthy of Trump Tower, and we want Steve Paul, of Bridgeton Main Street, and Jorje Romero, of Camden, to go see it at night and then tell us we’re barking up the wrong facade.
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays, noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
Google all columns at jackhummelblog
“Host Bridgeton High ladies and men take on Cumberland Regional at 11 a.m. and 1.p.m. for third place.
“Then Millville and Vineland battle for Cumberland County championship at 3 and 5 p.m.
“Cost is $5. My girls battled back against Vineland, but their two seniors dominated the game. Hats off to coach Breese. See you tomorrow!”
— BHS girls Coach George Linen
We know it’s the holidays and the wreaths make a difference downtown, but all that was missing tonight were the shoppers, also because most of the stores were closed.
Know who has never gotten full credit for his makeover, along with Bob Thompson and Hank Murad? The man who redid the corner of East Commerce and North Pearl Street, across from the old News.
He really did a professional job on the entire corner.
That’s what it takes. That corner has been occupied ever since — all the stores.
C Town is a dream come true because they took a historic building on its last legs, spent a fortune on a new roof (Ask Goldie Wulderk what a new roof costs) and lit up that corner of the downtown.
After they took the press out, the News wasn’t utilizing three-quarters of that building.
By the way, there were no vagrants peeing behind the trees in the pocket park. It was vacant like when it’s too hot and when it’s too cold.
But the mural is fascinating because it proves somebody took the time to create something that took more than two days to complete.
The dreams go back at least seven years.
If Hank Murad has his way, passers-by on Commerce Street will soon watch long-time residents recount city history in a storefront window.
“Tell It Like It Was” is Murad’s name for a program he envisions for his upcoming venture, a combination restaurant-theater-lyceum in the former Ashley-McCormick building.
He said he hopes to open the recently-named Ashley McCormick Center around late September.
Murad, who owns the transport company Courier Systems with several warehouses in the area, spoke of his latest plans for the Center, and he seemed especially excited about “Tell It Like It Was.”
He plans to film interviews with people who were here during Bridgeton’s glory days as a manufacturing and retail town. And he plans to do it in a front display window of the building.
“There are memories that those people can share,” Murad said. “Today, there’s no more company loyalty…But back then, that company (for which one worked) was their company. They wouldn’t talk bad about it. I think that’s worth documenting.”
He said the short films produced from such interviews would be run along with feature films playing at the center.
Other plans for the Center continue to take shape on the building’s ground floor as well. In early March, Murad outlined a small restaurant and kitchen, located to the right as one enters from Commerce Street.
On Wednesday,he said the restaurant would offer a “specialized menu.”
“We’re not going to try to offer a hundred different things. We’re going for the best quality in a limited menu…wherever the chef wants to go with it,” he explained.
To the left and a little further back is a theater that would seat about 80 viewers.
Murad plans films, live plays, musical performances, debates, discussions and other activities there.
A few arch-shaped entryways lead into the theater. On Wednesday afternoon, the interior walls there had been painted a dark maroon or purplish shade, as were low walls separating the tiers of seats rising away from the stage.
Murad said a moving stage awaited, and workers would soon install the stage lighting.
Films can be played in conjunction with certain themes. In March, Murad suggested, as an example, showing the film “Easy Rider” while displaying custom motorcycles in front.
Musical themes are another possibility, with featured genres – jazz, doo-wop, country, the 60’s, etc.
Woodstock’s 40th anniversary offers a theme, Murad said.
“Anyone who was at Woodstock is kind of an icon and has a right to tell about it,” he said. Such an event, like many, he said, would offer visitors the chance to bring in their records and play them there.
As for debates, Murad mentioned the current furor over national health care reform as a good topic.
“Both sides of a (debate) can try to prove their case, so that all these malicious inaccuracies are avoided,” he said.
“The American people have a right to know what they’re getting and a right not to have a lawyer or language expert have to explain it to them.”
He also envisioned political debates, especially in light of upcoming state and local elections.
Murad added that Bridgeton Main Street was “very instrumental” in helping him come up with the design and even the name of his new business. The downtown rejuvenation group also helped him meet code requirements, he said.
— Joe Green
The south side of North Laurel Street, past Commerce, has tremendous Victorian gingerbread at the top, but little else.
If you could tax every J&J realty sign, Bridgeton could balance its budget.
Why does it stay like this? Why is it always, “We’re working on this”? We’ve been working on it since F.W. Woolworth and JC Penney left town.
Who owns these buildings? How many downtown buildings are owned by absent landlords? Is everything rented from Broad Street to the two strip malls at Carll’s Corner?
We want Billy Sharp to buy up the whole string of buildings and be the new landlord, and we want Bruce Riley to fill them.
Just like Bob Thompson owns the old McGear building at Commerce and Laurel, we want a local owner on the diagonal corner — the Feinstein building.
And what’s great about this is that Sam Feinstein will go back in his little, black book and tell us what they once were.
They were somebody.
So, if you’re somebody trying to sell the sizzle downtown before the stove goes completely out, take the prospects on a slow drive at 8:45 at night and see what a sleeping economic giant looks like.
This far from where the crime happens. This is where the crime never happens.
We had a plan for the old city hall/police station, but nature has made it a mess. But the outside reveals its better days.
The annex across the street has been completely redone on the first floor, but you couldn’t sell the second floor to a recycling center.
It looks like the McGear building before Bob Thompson began slinging a million dollars in steel.
The Senior Thrift & Caring Center has a better looking window than MakerSpace, but not as nice as Gallery 50.
Is there a lighted sign signifying college is in town and an art gallery is alive seven days a week?
Not hanging, and not lighted.
What a boon it might be to light up the Ashley, Gallery 50 and Makerspace all in a row!
“What did you see when you drove downtown?”
“Well, the art gallery, the college place and the CASA in that big, three-story building really stood out.”
If all you want to do is toss it around, go to Alden Field.
“Never trust a person born in the ’80s, raised in the ’90s, adults in early ’00s, and now regularly listen to, dress like, and act like 2016 mainstream rap music.
“They GREW DOWN, not UP. There is no real future there (no pun intended).”
“We all have our own journey and destination.
“Two hours a day on your dream is good! Hell, we paid colleges to give them 2-3 hours a class. We can do the same for our dreams!
“Let’s make it happen! We definitely came too far.”
— Bryan Real,
Takes A Village
If we hook up Bryan Real with Chandra Pitts on the radio, are there enough kilowatts to hold WVLT together?
Chandra G. Pitts
President & CEO, One Village Alliance
Humanitarian | Philanthropist | Global Advocate for Youth
A dedicated visionary and philanthropist, Chandra Pitts is committed to propelling children and their families on a holistic journey toward excellence through education and the arts. She has been known throughout her life for her passion, integrity and authentic voice of advocacy with marginalized youth in communities around the world.
Chandra began her life’s work educating youth in Jamaica whose families could not afford to send them to school. In 2008, she developed the largest school-based mentoring program in Delaware’s Christina School District serving 247 at risk youth in just 8 months. Her innovative approach to bringing learning to life for underachieving students has since been adopted by the Department of Education in Delaware and New Jersey and implemented in 42 schools throughout the region.
As founding President & CEO of One Village Alliance, Chandra’s primary work takes a gender specific approach to healthy youth development including a focus on fatherhood.“Girls Can Do Anything!” empowers hundreds of girls throughout the region to redefine womanhood and what it means to be a girl. Raising Kings changes society’s prominent image and expectations of men and boys of color by elevating the level of positive male engagement in the lives of boys. And Suitable Men provides fatherhood training, man-to-man mentoring, and workforce development skills for dads.
In 2015, the Center For Urban Families named Chandra Pitts one of the nation’s 10 most promising practitioners in the areas of fatherhood, family strengthening and Black male achievement. Glamour Magazine’s 2015 Women of the Year issue featured Chandra as one of 50 Hometown Hero’s across the country. She was honored at the United Nations Global Women’s Empowerment Forum; is the recipient of the 2012 NAACP Youth Impact Award; and was named one of Delaware’s most influential 40 under 40.
Chandra spoke about her work during an appearance on CNN Newsmakers and was recently featured among African American and Latino Leaders in Ebony Magazine. A University of Delaware Women’s Studies documentary depicting Chandra’s personal narrative of won the Nanú Paloma Guerrero Award for Excellence. And this year, Chandra Pitts will become the youngest person ever inducted into the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame, an esteemed honor she accepts on behalf of all the extraordinary women who paved the way before her.
While Ms. Pitts continues to be recognized locally and nationally, her greatest reward remains the impact made through her life of service in the community she loves and the unparalleled honor of being a mom.
And she’s been on 92.1 FM twice!
YOU CAN BOOK IT: Is it time for Bryan Real to become an entrepreneur?