Editor’s note: This is one of five articles highlighting coverage from our hyper-local papers.
As the year comes to a close, the staff of the Lower Bucks Times wanted to take a look back at our coverage in your communities over the past year. While some events had county-wide or even global implications, we thought it best to reflect on the stories unique to your neighborhoods, and the people who live there.
This is the 2016 Year in Review:
Yellow Daffodil opens in Langhorne Borough
This September, Woods Services opened the Yellow Daffodil shop on Pine Street in Langhorne Borough.
Inside are ornate flower arrangements, artisan soaps, hand-poured candles, gift cards, even handmade dog beds and toys.
What makes the shop unique is that everything sold there was made by individuals with physical, developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Woods Services provides educational, residential, health care, clinical and vocational support and services to more than 675 people of all ages.
A major focus for the nonprofit is to help adults with disabilities learn skills that can translate to a position in the community. Currently, about half the staff members are Woods clients.
The original shop has been on the campus of Langhorne’s Woods Services for 50 years, and there’s a seasonal kiosk at the Oxford Valley Mall.
“We’ve had this beautiful shop on campus … and only the people who are at Woods have been able to share it,” said Woods Florist Manager Ginny Page. “To bring it to the public has been the most tremendously powerful experience.”
Oliver Heckman Elementary School shuts its doors
Despite a hard-fought effort from parents, students and community members, Oliver Heckman Elementary closed at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
In a special session held on April 12, the Neshaminy School Board voted unanimously to close the school. The Heckman closure went through in a 5-4 vote, sealed on a last-minute decision by board member Marty Sullivan, who originally ran for school board as a Heckman supporter.
“I know what my campaign promises were,” Sullivan said before voting. “I did my due diligence and I looked at all the numbers and I talked to all the people … My decision tonight is one that was well thought out and I’ll just leave it at that right now.”
The decision brings an end to a months-long battle by the community group that opposed the district’s large-scale consolidation plan.
The “roadmap,” as the plan is called by Neshaminy officials, set out to close three of the district’s eight aging elementary schools, while renovating the remaining five.
Welcoming the Stranger brings cultures together at 16th annual dinner
More than 200 people attended the 16th annual International Dinner Fundraiser hosted by Welcoming the Stranger, a Langhorne-based nonprofit that provides free English as a Second Language courses throughout Bucks County.
The group also provides free classes for computer skills and citizenship preparation for immigrants and refugees across Lower Bucks County.
Many of the attendees were students in the programs. They provided food reflecting their native cultures from all over the world. More than 20 nations were represented.
During the event, Ardmore Presbyterian Church was recognized for its charitable donations to these programs over the years, and Lansdale-based musician Andy Prescott played.
Three of the students even gave testimonials about the program, their first time giving a public address in English.
“It was wonderful. Lots of students, lots of great food,” said Welcoming the Stranger Executive Director Meg Eubank.
Peace Center holds dialogues across Lower Bucks
This year, the Peace Center introduced racial dialogues as a way to bridge cultural gaps and find common ground among people of different races, faiths and backgrounds.
The Langhorne-Based nonprofit groups began holding these events in response to controversial news items like police-related shootings and politically charged performances and actions by celebrities and athletes.
Some, like one in Newtown over the summer, used a format where two people of different races or backgrounds would speak to just each other about their experiences with racial conflict in their lives. Then everyone as a group would share what they learned.
At another in the fall, around 30 locals had an open discussion that focused on football player Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem, and singer Beyonce incorporating Black Power and Black Panther Party symbolism into her Super Bowl halftime show.
A third in Bristol Borough last month found people discussing police-community relations with members of the borough police department.
Langhorne artist creates Flyers goalie mask
Frannie Drummond is the guy most of the Flyers goalies over the past six years trusted with something of almost inexplicable importance to non-NHL fans — their masks.
The Langhorne artist is behind goalie Steve Mason’s zombie teammates mask this season.
It features undead renderings of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Michael Raffl, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto and two of the team’s equipment managers on the back.
Apparently, professional goalkeepers are a superstitious bunch. Like a freethrow routine in the NBA or the sometimes grotesque necklaces relief pitchers wear in the MLB, they thrive on ritual.
“It’s a mental thing. When they put on that mask, it’s personal,” said Drummond, himself a former Neshaminy High School goalie. “You don’t realize how much pressure is on these guys, especially the goaltenders. One slip, and you’re done.”
Flowers By David celebrates 20 years at the Philadelphia Flower Show
For its 20-year anniversary with the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Langhorne-based Flowers By David marked the occasion with a wedding in the woods.
The theme for this year’s show was “Camping.” Not necessarily being the outdoorsy types, shop owners David and Robin Heller infused a “glamping” — glamorous camping — element to their rendering of an outdoor wedding at Whiskeytown Recreational Park in California.
“It’s rustic, soft and romantic, which I think we do well. And, right now the rustic weddings and country outdoor weddings are so popular,” said Robin.
The couple has been presenting at the esteemed show for two decades now.
“I think it’s a riot that a nurse from Levittown can exhibit at a show that’s seen by 200,000 people,” said Robin, who always says she “married well” when she partnered with her florist husband.