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City Howl Help Desk: Taking care of leftover Help Desk business

HELP DESK, and the government workers we pester with phone calls, have been getting results for you. Here are some updates on recent problems you called us about:

HELP DESK, and the government workers we pester with phone calls, have been getting results for you. Here are some updates on recent problems you called us about:

YOU WON'T GET LOST: Two weeks ago, we wrote about missing street signs at major intersections along Aramingo Avenue, which PennDOT began reconstructing in June 2010. PennDOT spokesman Charles Metzger had told us that signs would be back up at the Aramingo intersections with Castor Avenue, with Ontario Street and with Venango by the end of the first week of May.

Help Desk took a drive along Aramingo several days ago and spotted snazzy orange street signs at all three intersections. Although the signs are temporary, at least drivers know where they are now.

PennDOT still intends to install permanent signs, Metzger said.

YOU WON'T TRIP: In April, Help Desk reported on a tree that fell across Audubon Avenue in the Northeast - eight months after a city inspector deemed it to be in poor condition and scheduled it for removal.

Luckily, no one was injured when the tree came down, and the city removed it that day. But the stump remained in the ground, and neighbors were worried it might create a tripping hazard.

At the time, Barry Bessler, chief of staff at the Fairmount Park Commission, told Help Desk that the stump had been slated for removal, and the city would likely get to the job in 90 to 120 days.

Turns out it took one day. The city removed the stump the day after we spoke with Bessler, leaving a pile of fresh chips for mulch in its place.

THERE'S NO LONGER A TRUCK in the creek behind your house: The pickup that had been squatting in Morrell Park's Byberry Creek for a decade is finally gone, Sgt. Frank Spires of the Neighborhood Services Unit (NSU) tells Help Desk. The removal, a team effort of the NSU, the Water Department and the golf course next to the creek, involved creating a path to the creek for a backhoe to traverse. The only cost was manpower.

BUT ... YOU STILL MIGHT FALL ONTO TRAIN TRACKS: There's still no fence separating the backs of homes on the 6400 block of Glenmore Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia from nearby Amtrak tracks. In late March, Amtrak officials told City Council President Anna Verna's office that the rail agency hoped to install a new, stronger fence at the end of April, if its budget allowed.

But, last week, Help Desk caught up with Lauren Hall, who owns a rental property on the block, and there's still no fence at the top of the steep embankment leading down to the tracks.

We asked Amtrak for a comment, but it hasn't provided one yet.

THE DOGS HAVE NAMES! Finally, it turns out the lonely canines we met last week living in a house by themselves have names: Scarlett and Zero.

After the Help Desk column ran and Fox 29 paid a visit to the 3100 block of Cecil B. Moore, Scarlett and Zero's owner, Kamila Ahnad, gave us a call to clear things up.

"We're not just abandoning the animals," Ahnad said, adding that her husband visits the home at least once a week to ensure the dogs have plenty of food and that the home is clean of their urine and feces.

Ahnad assured us the animals are secure and can't get out and "chase people down the street." The balcony from which the dogs were barking down at us

has a door that is propped open so they can get fresh air.

She's had Scarlett and Zero "for years," but she decided to give them a full-fledged doghouse about a year ago after several break-ins at the property. The area is home to many drug addicts, Ahnad said, and before putting the dogs in the house, everything from radiators to copper pipes had been stolen.

A representative of New Jersey Aid for Animals told our Help Desk partners at Fox 29 that even if the dogs are well- nourished, dogs "have social needs."

Though city records show the doghouse belongs to John and Martha Boykin, Ahnad said she purchased the home from the deceased Martha Boykin's sons in 2009. Because of some tax issues - there was a tax balance of $1,583.46 on the property as of May 10 - the parties are clearing some things up. However, Ahnad said, she does have a deed.

Eventually, Ahnad said, she hopes to turn the big red house on Cecil B. Moore Avenue into a condominium with a store at the sidewalk entrance.

As for the dogs, Ahnad will take Scarlett and Zero home with open arms, she said.

Have a concern about city services? Let us know at, email or call 215-854-5855.