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All the news that doesn't fit in print

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    Photo Courtesy of The Hill School
    Mary Koss, center, was recently recognized for her service as a volunteer to Meals on Wheels and donated the $5,000 check she received from the Sodexo Corp. to the program. With her are her former supervisor Josh Konoza, left, and Ruth Hood, program director for the Western Montgomery Family Services' Meals on Wheels. 



    Blogger's Note: The following was provided by The Hill School.

    For nearly eight years Mary Koss of Pottstown has spent two hours each Monday driving to homes delivering meals to elderly Pottstown residents. 

    During that same time, she has been an employee with Sodexo, the company that provides the dining services for The Hill School. 

    Earlier this year, Mary’s former supervisor, Josh Konoza, nominated her for the Sodexo Foundation’s Hero of Every Day Life award for her dedicated service to Meals on Wheels.
    To her surprise, Mary was selected as one of five Sodexo employees in the country to be recognized as a 2014 Hero of Every Day Life. 

    In June, she was recognized at the annual Sodexo Foundation Dinner in Washington, D.C., which raised $1.8 million to support the Sodexo Foundation’s work to help combat childhood hunger.

    As part of this honor, Mary received a $5,000 grant to be awarded to a charity of her choice. 

    Last week, on The Hill School campus, Mary presented a check to Ruth Hood, the program director for the Western Montgomery County Family Services’ Meals on Wheels. 

    The money will used to support the Meals on Wheels programs and services that benefit thousands of local residents.

    In addition to her weekly Monday visits, Mary also fills in for other volunteers, happily taking on additional shifts as her schedule permits. 

    Her bright smile brings cheer to those she visits, many who are homebound and may not have family in the area. Mary says she enjoys the ride and always “makes sure people are comfortable” when she brings them their meals.

    A very humble Mary noted that she does not want attention for herself for this award, but rather wants others to know about the work done by the Sodexo Foundation. 

    The mission of the Foundation is “to ensure that every child in the United States, especially those most at-risk, grows up with dependable access to enough nutritious food to enable them to lead a healthy, productive life.”

    Learn more at http://www.sodexofoundation.org/hunger_us/default.asp.

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    Want help with your resume?

    For free?

    Well it seems that the YMCA is your place then.

    Starting Monday, Change Consulting Solutions, LLC will offer:

    -- One-on-one on-site resume critiques;
    -- Layout suggestions;
    -- Professional advice;
    -- Best practices;
    -- Key word structure;
    -- Word-smith recommendations;
    -- Job description and resume customization;
    -- Do-it-yourself templates;
    -- :Literature and more;

    All at the YMCA at 724 N. Adams St.

    The sessions will be held on several dates throughout August (as seen on the poster) from 2 to 3 p.m.

    For more information, call the YMCA at 610-323-7300.

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    Photos by Sandi Yanisko.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Montgomery County Community College.

    Montgomery County Community College is now accepting registration for its Associate in Arts degree program in Dance to be offered at its West Campus in Pottstown starting Fall 2014.

    This 63-credit program provides both a liberal arts background and dance courses comparable to classes offered during the first two years at a four-year institution. 

    Classes include modern dance, ballet, jazz, hip hop, dance improvisation, dance composition, dance repertory and performance, dance wellness and fitness and dance history.

    “The program is unique in that it offers courses for dancers of all levels, from beginners to experienced dancers,” said Dr. Melinda Copel, Coordinator of Dance, indicating that novices can take fundamentals-level dance courses while simultaneously taking degree courses.

    Dance classes are open to all students, regardless of their majors, and will meet core education requirements for Exercise and Health Sciences and Aesthetic Sensibility and the Arts.

    The Associate in Arts degree program in dance allows students to transfer into a baccalaureate program in dance at many colleges and universities.

    “There are a number of career possibilities in dance including performer, choreographer, teacher, dance or movement therapist, dance historian and writer, dance critic, arts administrator, and dance notator,” Dr. Copel said. 

    “There are performance opportunities in a variety of settings including dance concerts, opera, musical theater, musical productions, television, movies, music videos, cruise ships and theme parks, such as Disney World or Sesame Place.”

    “Many dancers combine performance with careers in dance education or choreography,” she said. 

    “Dance educators teach in higher education, K-12 schools, private dance studios and community centers. Some open their own studios. Students may wish to combine their studies in dance with a related field such as technical theater or physical therapy. The arts are a big industry in the Philadelphia area, and there are plenty of opportunities.”

    Beyond courses, students have performance opportunities with the College’s Dance Performance Ensemble, which is open to all students. Both the Dance Ensemble and the Dance Repertory class perform at the end of each semester.

    For more information or to register, contact Dr. Melinda Copel at mcopel@mc3.edu or 215-641-6346.

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  • 08/04/14--21:00: In the Zone
  • Poorly focused photo by Evan Brandt

    A small portion of the audience at Monday night's zoning hearing.
    Monday's meeting of the Lower Pottsgrove Township Board of Commissioners began early with a public hearing.

    The hearing was on a zoning change, that was ultimately adopted, but about which quite a few residents and property owners had reservations.

    Although the issue dominated most of the meeting's Tweets, which can be read below, an article about that also appears in today's Mercury.

    Later in the evening, another newsworthy event came about when Commissioners Chairman Bruce Foltz announced that after polling the other board members, he had contacted the developers proposing a Family Dollar story in Sanatoga, "thanks, but no thanks."

    Look for that Tweet near the bottom of the Storify reproduced here.

    We'll be following up on that as well.

    In the meantime, don't forget to click on the blue "Read Next Page" bar to make sure you see it all.




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  • 08/05/14--21:00: A Night on the Town
  • Photo by Evan Brandt

    Sometimes, when you want to take back the streets (and sidewalks) of your community, you have to put your message in just the right place....


    Tuesday night was National Night Out and I had a little help covering things in Pottstown from Michilea Patterson, our Fit for Life reporter and my co-Tweeter for the evening.

    As always, remember to click the blue "Read More" bar to make sure you get it all.



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  • 08/06/14--21:00: Artful Beef and Beer

  • Blogger's Note:The following was provided by ArtFusion 19464

    This Saturday night, help support your local non-profit community art center!

    Victory Beer, food from Ice House Steaks & Pizza and Montesano Bros Bucktown Market & Cafe, homemade desserts, raffles, and a silent auction!

    Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased at ArtFusion or online here: http://artfusion19464.org/event/2014-beef-and-beer/

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    Photos by Evan Brandt (video too!)


    Normally libraries are quiet places.

    Not so Wednesday morning on the main floor of the Pottstown Regional Public Library.

    In addition to being packed with kids, the main floor was also pulsing to the beat of the dance music of Ill Style and PEACE.

    They are an educational dance troupe which travels the country and breaks down (sorry, couldn't resist) the moves and history of "Lockin'" and "Poppin," dance styles associated with break dancing.

    And among the things the students learned is that it should be called "breaking" not "break dancing." It was so named because people danced in the "breaks" or scratching sounds made on LP records.

    PEACE, which stands for People Everywhere Are Created Equal, taught the children who invented particular styles and where Michael Jackson got so many of his moves.

    The students, and even some of the parents and camp counselors, all got a chance to participate, as you will see at the end of the video I've posted here:



    Children's Librarian Leslie Stillings arranged the performance as part of the summer series of events for kids and said she keeps inviting them back because the children really respond to the group.

    I'm sorry the photos are not better, but iPhones do not specialize in action shots -- at least not iPhones wielded by yours truly.

    Nevertheless, I sent a few out via Twitter and you can see them posted below in this Storify.



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  • 08/08/14--21:00: A Steely Council Meeting
  • New Pottstown Police officers Matthew Maciejewski, left, and Brett Cortis get sworn in at Wednesday night's borough council meeting.


    So for those of you who don't know, I occasionally have a life that does not include municipal meetings.

    On Wednesday night, with great reluctance, I gave up my chance to attend the Pottstown Borough Council work session, and instead made a pilgrimage to Bethlehem to Musikfest where I saw one of my favorite bands -- Steely Dan -- perform live.

    As my darling bride aptly observed, "really, this is the soundtrack of our youth."

    So on a beautiful summer evening, with a warm breeze playing and a Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy in my hand, I forgot about Pottstown municipal affairs for a few hours and surprised myself with how many lyrics I remembered from those songs.

    Luckily for you readers who are addicted to the goings on of Pottstown municipal government, Mercury Ace Frank Otto stood ready to stand in.

    And so he did, pelting out Tweets with a dizzying frequency and them organizing them into this handy Storify for me to purloin shamelessly and present here as if I did it myself.

    So, without further ado, I present to you, Frank Otto's Twitter coverage.



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  • 08/09/14--21:00: A Visit With a Quieter Time
  • Photo by Evan Brandt
    A few lucky riders had the opportunity to close out this year's Goschenhoppen Folk Festival with a wagon ride.


    So I won't lie, I'm a history geek.

    And few things get me more jazzed each year than the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival, which features samples of life in both the 18th and 19th centuries.

    For the last four years, my son has been volunteering as an apprentice, along with his best friend, although each prefers a different century.

    Benjamin Franklin said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us
    to be happy." A statement with which I agree wholeheartedly. 
    However, I would add an addendum: 
    "Also, vanilla ice cream and fresh peaches."
    This means I am often there early Saturday morning during the drop-off, and have an opportunity to walk through and watch the different stations get set up.

    I take pictures and Tweet them out, hoping to generate interest for the event, but also because I like
    doing it.

    My wife and I often visit, but not every year. It is, after all, the same set of exhibits each year.

    I do, however, make sure to do one thing every year.

    I get a bowl of Longacre vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches on top. I look forward to it every year and it remains proof positive to me that we can create heaven here on earth.

    Anyway, this is the stuff I shot during drop-off and pick-up each year.

    And here is the Tout video embedded, so you don't have to click the link in the Storify below.




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  • 08/10/14--21:00: How Does Your Garden Grow?
  • This year's Garden Contest winters are Anna Johnson, Vanessa Wyatt, Ryan Procsal, Athena Singer and Robbin Pineda








    For gardeners, this time of year is about exciting as it gets.

    Harvesting, weeding, planning next year's garden.

    And that's as true for the gardeners of the Mosaic Community Gardens as farmers in the field.

    However, some extra excitement was added recently when the winners of the second annual home gardening contest were announced during National Night Out at the park at Chestnut and Washington Streets.

    The contest is sponsored by Pine Hill Farms in North Coventry.

    I won't keep you dangling in suspense, here are the winners:

    Ground Gardening, 1st Place -- Robbin Pineda, who wins $150 as well as an award certificate.

    Ground Gardening, 2nd Place -- Athena Singer, who wins $100 with her certificate.

    Container Gardening, 1st Place -- Anna Johnson, who wins $125 and a certificate.

    Container Gardening 2nd Place -- Ryan Procsal who, in addition to winning $75 and a certificate.

    Honorable Mention -- Vanessa Wyatt, who won $50.

    The entries were judged by the Pottstown Garden Club.

    The contest began in the summer of 2012 when Dick Heylmun, the owner of Pine Tree Hill Farm, contacted Mosaic Community Land Trust, after learning about their work in the Community garden on Chestnut Street.

    Mr Heylmun, an avid gardener himself, conceived of the idea to offer prize money to people living in the Beech to High Street, Adams to Charlotte Street area for creating beautiful street-side gardens and plantings. 

     He knows how pretty a block can be when the residents take pride in their homes and gardens and he revels in the joy and sense of pride that gardens bring to the gardener and all who pass by.

    Mosaic partnered with the Pottstown Garden club to develop, advertise and judge the contest. Flyers were distributed to all the homes in the area while the Mercury helped promote the contest in an article about both the garden contest.

    That's not all that's going on with the community garden's two locations on Chestnut Street, the produce cart is back in business.

    The cart will sell fresh produce from our gardens, donated vegetables from members of the Pottstown Garden Club and local farmers. There will also be a resource table with loads of free information to
    learn more about gardening, health and nutrition!

    Produce sales will happen each Saturday from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. and will continue each week until they run out of vegetables to sell.

    The Mosaic Land Trust was also among the sponsors of the showing of  “Frozen” last Saturday. 

    "There were bunches of families and loads of kids who showed up to take part in the event.

    "The balloon artist was there and make dozens of great balloon animals for the kids.

    "Parents and kids alike shared in the experience and had a great time.

    "Look forward to another great movie presentation next year," garden manager Laura Washington reported in an e-mail.

    In addition to showing movies, the community gardens also host borough youngsters from summer camps at the Olivett Boys and Girls Club at the Ricketts Center and maintains a garden plot for students at Pottstown Middle School, who learn how to grow their own food, and the importance of healthy food.

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    Remember this Place? Last night, borough council held is second conditional use hearing on a proposal to put a mini-mart grocery story in the first floor of this building. 



    So here's the thing.

    Last night was a long night, made so by the three-hour duration of the second, yes SECOND, conditional use hearing for a proposal to establish the Torres Mini-Mart in the first floor of this building at King and Washington Streets.

    There were lawyers, there was testimony, there were petitions, questions, commentary. You name it.

    All the things that make democracy great.

    But just because I was subjected to this dear reader, does not mean you have to live through it the same way I did.

    So after about 48 seconds of deliberation, I decided to post the Tweets from the hearing today, separately from those from the regular meeting.

    Those will appear in tomorrow's post.

    "But what about tomorrow night's Pottsgrove School Board meeting Tweet-master? When will that appear?"

    I hear you gentle reader.

    All I can say is good things come to those who wait.

    Without further ado, here are the Tweets from the conditional use hearing made necessary after David and Katy Jackson challenged council's first approval in April, claiming it was inadequate.

    Rather than fight it out in court, both sides agreed to come back to borough council for what is essentially a "do-over."

    The results of that agreement appear below.


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    Ah, you can back for part 2?

    How very bold of you.

    So for those of you who didn't see yesterday's post, a quick recap.

    Monday night's conditional use hearing for the proposed Torres Mini-Mart at King and Washington went on so long, that the all-seeing overlords at the Digital Notebook information complex decided it was just too much information for one sitting.

    They decided some of you might just like to know what happened at council, without having to plow through all the Torres testimony.

    And so here you are, all sparkly clean, the Tweets from the regular council meeting.

    Enjoy them in all their grandeur.


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    So, like many school boards, Pottsgrove takes July off and has no meetings.

    I know you've all missed them, but guess what?

    They're back.

    Here are the Tweets from Tuesday night's meeting.



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    Photo by John Armato
    Pottstown High School teacher and published author Marilyn Bainbridge with her book, and a handful of interested listeners.

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by John Armato, the unsleeping community relations director for the Pottstown School District.

    What do you do if you have a young child who constantly wakes up in the night worried about noises that they hear? 

     Well, if you are Pottstown High School teacher Marilyn Bainbridge, you use your writing skills and become the author of a child’s literature book entitled “What Was That Sound?”

    Bainbridge, who has three children of her own, was inspired to write the book to help one of her children who was a particularly light sleeper and would constantly wake up worried about noises in the night.

    “I enjoy writing to express myself and entertain others. I saw this as an opportunity to help other parents address the problem of noises in the night,” said Bainbridge. 

     “Children’s literature has always been a topic that interested me and the book gave me a chance to express myself and hope to bring joy into the lives of little ones,” stated Bainbridge.

    The 24-page illustrated book follows the adventure of one curious child who is awakened during the night and sets out to find out what was that sound.

    Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, the story is also available in eBook form. For more details, go to: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-63185-459-0.

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    Blogger's Note:The following is a transcript of comments made by Montgomery County Commissioners Bruce Castor at the conclusion of the commissioners meeting of Aug. 7, 2014 regarding his recent visit to the Carousel at Pottstown.

    Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor, right,

    gets information from volunteer Jim Arms.
    I have something to which I would like to commend the commissioners’ attention.


    I visited the Carousel at Pottstown and I have to admit, I thought it was going to be a little bit silly, but it was as far from that as possible.

    I was completely stunned by the carousel.

    It is very close to the western campus of the community college, and also close to Pottsgrove Manor and the new miniature golf course they have there and also close to the Colebrookdale Railway, which is being established to take people to Boyertown.

    Pottstown Borough Council President Steve Toroney,
    left, 

    and Borough Manager Mark Flanders explain
    the advantages 
    of the Carousel at Pottstown
    to Commissioner Castor.
    That is part of a Berks County and Montgomery County partnership to drive tourism in that western part of our county and eastern Berks County.

    I was incredibly impressed by the carousel, which is the second oldest carousel in the country.

    And the thing I found fascinating is the center pole the carousel revolves around is a re-purposed mast from a sailing ship from the Philadelphia Shipyard.

    The carousel was built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1902 and a local artist from Boyertown has repainted all the murals with great scenes of Montgomery County and, as part of the fundraising, painted in pictures of people’s children n period clothing and irs really quirte expertly done.

    They are very very close to bring able to open up.

    And this is part of a revitalization effort with all of these things right within walking distance, the community college, the carousel, which will have arcades and concessions, and Pottsgrove manor and the gold course and the railroad.

    These people are thinking out there and they’re thinking in such a way by asking themselves how is
    Commissioner Castor meets some of the project's volunteers.
    it we can drive people to utilize the shops and restaurants and patronize these businesses so they don’t have to drive a long distance to go to each individual thing; it’s all centrally located.

    So they’re looking for money and putting the finishing touches on the building and trying get things up and running.

    Obviously, I’m not in a position to make such promises, but I promised to bring back the information they gave me and to give it to (Deputy COO Lee Soltysiak).

    I flat-out said we are not in the business of giving money away, and we always look very carefully at that sort of thing and the first thing out of their mouths was that ‘we already have a donor willing to match dollar for dollar whatever money we can get in.

    So they are really focusing on the need to drive tourism to a central location, to those resources to make it easy for families to do a lot of things in a small geographic area and they recognize that government is not the solution to every problem.

    And I think that the people in Pottstown have their act together and this is a project I’m delighted I now know about.

    And I hope in the future the county will be in a position where we can give it careful consideration and support it if we consider it worthy.








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  • 08/17/14--21:00: Under Construction
  • Mercury Photo by John Strickler

    The construction project at Pottsgrove High School will prevent normal parking and pick-up and drop-off procedures during the school year, Principal William Ziegler has announced.


    There's another impact looming as a result of the construction and renovation project at Pottsgrove High School.

    Principal William Ziegler has announced that School Lane, the road that links North Charlotte Street to the high school, will be closed for bus drop-off and pick-up during certain times on certain days.
    Photo from Pottsgrove School Disrtict Web Site
    It is not possible to drive around Pottsgrove High School 
    during the construction project.

    In the mornings, it will be closed from 7 to 7:35 a.m. Monday through Friday.

    In the afternoons, it will be closed Wednesdays from 1:25 to 2 p.m., and on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 1:55 to 2:30 p.m.

    Further, for those students who drive themselves to school, the south parking will be open from Kauffman Road only.

    Students are still permitted to park in this lot and parking permits will be given out the first week of school.

    Access around the building will be closed as well as the access through the football stadium-side of the building.

    This is the entrance where parents are being asked to
    drop-off and pick-up their students.
    All parent pick-up and drop off is to take place at the high school's main entrance, the round lot adjacent to the district office.

    Parents are asked to drop off their students and keep moving "to allow for other parents to get in."

    For parent pick-up, the line will line up along the curb all the way past the district office entrance.

    Also, be aware vehicles cannot make a left out of the front of that lot due to the closure of School Lane during dismissal.

    Buses will be dropping off and picking up at the North Entrance of School along the 100 and Science corridor.

    For more updates on the high school construction project, check out the page dedicated to it on the district web site.

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    So the life of the lowly municipal government reporter is nothing if not complicated.

    Monday night, I attended the Douglass (Mont.) Supervisors meeting only to find them behaving like perfectly reasonable people.

    What fun is that?

    So on my way home, I stopped in at Upper Pottsgrove's Commissioner's meeting and caught the VERY tail end of that meeting, but got some interesting tips.

    Some of them appear below, others, I will keep close to the vest....


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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    A slide from Nathaniel Gust's presentation to the
    Pottstown Borough Authority.
    So it's not too often that you go to a water and sewer authority meeting and end up talking about an historic railroad.

    But in Pottstown, anything can happen.

    So who was at last night's Pottstown Borough Authority Meeting but Nathaniel Guest, the unsleeping champion of the Colebrokdale Railroad.

    He was there with a problem.

    To make the whole project work, the railroad needs to establish ts historic train station in Memorial Park in a location visible from High Street.

    The problem is the best site is right on top of a sewer line that runs through Memorial Park.

    He came to the Borough Authority with a request.

    Read the Tweets below to find out what happened, as well as a $3 million project to help water meters get read remotely and $6 million in pending water and sewer projects in the borough.



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  • 08/20/14--21:00: The Wheels of Fortune
  • This Honda Fit, or $15,000 cash, is the grand prize.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Area Senior Center

    There is only about a week remaining to get your tickets for the 18th annual Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center car raffle. 

    The grand prize drawing will be held on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m., and the grand prize winner will have their choice of a brand new Honda Fit or $15,000 cash. 

    In addition, there are six cash prizes from $250 to $50.

    “This is a great way for the community to support the senior center,” said Brian Parkes, executive director. “And of course, one lucky person will walk away with a brand new car or $15,000 cash!”

    Proceeds from the raffle will be used to support programs for seniors in the greater Pottstown area.  
    The senior center offers nearly 40 programs and services each week – everything from exercise programs such as Yoga and Tai Chi, to a free daily nutritious lunch, to support groups, to card games, and much, much more. 

    Additionally, a staff member is available to help seniors choose and access health care benefits, and fill out the often complicated forms.

    “Nearly 1,500 seniors every year stop by the senior center, and many come on a daily basis,” said Parkes. “Many of our participants would be sitting home alone. Instead, they come to the senior center to see their friends, socialize, exercise, play games, and receive the help they need to remain living independently.”

    Car raffle tickets are $10 each, or four for $30. Tickets may be purchased at the senior center at 288 Moser Road, Pottstown (the former Pottstown Health Club), from 8am to 4pm on weekdays, or at the Pottstown Walmart on most weekends. The car is provided by Piazza Honda.

    The Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center serves adults age 50 and better with programs and services including information and referral assistance, a daily free lunch, exercise programs, social activities, and much more. The Mission of the Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center is to enhance the well-being of its members by providing services and activities that promote an independent and healthy life style. The Pottstown Area Seniors’ Center has more than 3,400 members, and anyone living in the tri-county area (Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties) who is 50+ years of age is welcome to join the senior center. Learn more at www.greaterpasc.com.

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    There were some serious subjects on the table Thursday night for the Pottstown School Board meeting.

    They included board's frustration at the last-minute decision not to open Rupert Elementary School for the first day of school and instead send students and teachers to the former Edgewood School they attended last year for the start of school.

    There was also discussion of replacing School Board Vice President Dennis Wausnock, who died Tuesday, and the suggestion that the board should go out of its way to recruit a member of the "minority community."

    And there was the news that not only has Gerry Lenfest, who founded Suburban Cable and now owns the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, donated $10,000 to the effort to build new lights at Grigg Memorial Field, but also that an unnamed donor has offered to match the fundraising effort, and all Pottstown now has to raise is $150,000.

    And then there was the "brain break," which is something teachers now do in Pottstown Schools to give students a chance to recharge and get some physical activity, but which Superintendent Jeff Sparagana also felt the board should do from time to time.

    Observe:



    You can read all below as it was Tweeted live by yours truly, despite a temperamental Twitter app.

    As always, don't forget to click the blue "Read Next Page" bars to ensure full exposure to every pithy Tweet.


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