Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, May 29, 2014, 4:25 PM

Hippopotamuses Genny and Button - the largest residents at Adventure Aquarium - just got a $1 million upgrade to their shared home.

The two female hippos have spent their days grazing and wading in "Hippo Haven” since 2005 and remain the only hippos in an aquarium anywhere in the country (the large mammals are often found at zoos).

Starting May 29, the renovated exhibit officially opens with newly installed lighting, decorative flower and plant projections, an African inspired original musical score (think Lion King) and an upper viewing area to see the animals both up close and from above.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 2:00 PM

The principal of a middle school, which could be phased out of operation, appealed to the superintendent at Monday's school board meeting, asking him to merge the school with another public school.

Brian Medley, principal of Pyne Poynt Middle School, spoke at the heated meeting in which 272 people were laid off. He suggested Molina Elementary come to Pyne Poynt, to fill out the under-used building, rather than open the school to Mastery Schools, as is the current plan.

Administration officials have said no schools in the under-performing district will close in the 2014-2015 school year but said some could be phased out.

POSTED: Monday, May 5, 2014, 2:37 PM

Not at my church.

That’s the attitude – described as both “pretty stupid” and “incredibly heroic,” that two ushers had when an armed robber grabbed the collection following mass and they ran after the suspect, recovering the money.

At about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, after one of the busiest masses of the year celebrating first communion for dozens of elementary age children, ushers Francisco Torres and Jose Garcia brought the canvas bag, holding the day’s collection to Brother Karl Koenig in the sacristy.

POSTED: Monday, May 5, 2014, 11:35 AM

Webimax, an online marketing company employing 100 people - and hiring up to 100 more over the next two years - plans on moving from Mt. Laurel to the Camden waterfront.

Kenneth C. Wisnefski, CEO of the company, which was ranked New Jersey’s fastest growing business in 2012 by Inc. magazine, said he’s waiting on a final contract from the state, which he expects within the next week.

“We’ve never received any funds from the state and frankly our biggest concern was we move quickly, sign a lease, and they say these funds dried up – so once we get that final contract, barring any surprises, we’re locked and loaded,” he said.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 12:10 PM

Sara Davis, who served on Camden's school board for six terms - one of them as president - was notified this month she would not be reappointed. Mayor Redd appointed Brother Wasim Muhammad, a minister at the Nation of Islam Muhammad's Temple of Islam No. 20 to fill the seat.

Davis, a former teacher, has been an outspoken critic of state intervention and charter and renaissance schools, who fought to keep jobs in the district. Tonight will be her final meeting.

In the advisory board's vote earlier this year about whether to recommend the renaissance applications of Mastery and Uncommon Schools to the state, Davis was the only board member who voted no.

POSTED: Thursday, April 24, 2014, 5:40 PM
A group gathers outside of Harry C. Sharp Elementary School. Some protested anticipated school closings, others voiced opposition to charter schools coming to the city.

In one-on-one meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, dozens of staffers at the Camden School Administration Building were given layoff notices, the first step in a district-wide restructuring expected to eliminate hundreds of positions by May 15.

The district notified 94 people this week that their positions would be eliminated. Earlier this month the district warned it would be reducing staff positions by up to 575 to bridge a $75 million revenue shortfall heading into the 2014-2015 school year.

Including the elimination of vacant positions and expected retirements, the layoffs are expected to affect about 400 people, including teaching staff who will be notified in coming weeks.

POSTED: Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 5:27 PM

The two school operators hoping to open “Renaissance schools” in Camden this fall requested waivers from the state for the portion of the application requiring that they provide an address and building schematics plan.

Mastery and Uncommon Schools are looking to be approved to open in the fall 2014-2015 school year and have been working with the city to determine a permanent location for the schools they hope to build or renovate, pending state approval, the applications say. June 2 is the final deadline for round two of the application process. Round two requires applicants to share construction schedule, agreement to purchase land, and financing plan, among other details.

In the meantime, they've started recruiting students and teachers and have secured temporary locations for next year through the district.

POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014, 12:32 PM

I've been covering Camden for the Inquirer since August and I get my share of criticism, often fair, about the negative depiction of the city.

It's a place that has owned too many unwanted superlatives - highest crime rate, lowest graduation rate, all compounded by extreme poverty.

But Thursday's North Camden night garden festival showed off the spirit and creativity of the city and the untapped potential for its North Camden waterfront, currently covered in parking lots and grassy fields. Cooper's Ferry Partnerships spent around $20,000 in the form of a William Penn Foundation grant to put on the show.

About this blog
Julia Terruso started covering Camden and its residents, agencies, government and school district in September 2013. Previously, she worked at the Newark Star-Ledger covering the criminal justice system in Essex County and prior to that Union County.

Julia is a proud graduate of Syracuse University, originally from the Philadelphia area. Email tips, concerns and story ideas to jterruso@phillynews.com or reach her at 856-779-3876 or on Twitter @juliaterruso. Reach Julia at .

Julia Terruso
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