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Articles on this Page
- 11/20/17--21:00: _Polishing a Townshi...
- 11/21/17--21:00: _Thanksgiving Dinner...
- 11/22/17--21:00: _Donna Cuthbert, the...
- 11/23/17--21:00: _Coventry Singers to...
- 11/24/17--21:00: _An Iron Plantation ...
- 11/25/17--21:00: _1st Presbyterian/Po...
- 11/26/17--21:00: _A Tavern Christmas ...
- 11/27/17--21:00: _No Tax Hike in $12M...
- 11/28/17--21:00: _Open House at the W...
- 11/29/17--21:00: _Pottstown Trojans P...
- 11/30/17--21:00: _Kids Shop at Van Go...
- 12/01/17--21:00: _With Summer Book Dr...
- 12/02/17--21:00: _Middle School Club ...
- 12/04/17--22:37: _New Board Kills Upp...
- 12/05/17--21:00: _$2.5M for New Roof,...
- 12/06/17--21:14: _Budget Questions an...
- 12/07/17--21:00: _Pottsgrove a Top Sc...
- 12/07/17--21:00: _Of Traffic Studies ...
- 12/09/17--21:00: _GOP War on Educatio...
- 12/10/17--21:00: _Thanks to High Scho...
- 12/11/17--21:00: _Pottstown Budget at...
- 12/12/17--21:00: _Mural Celebrating H...
- 12/13/17--21:00: _Pottstown High Scho...
- 12/14/17--21:00: _Operation Holiday D...
- 12/15/17--21:00: _Pottstown Pride Soc...
- 11/20/17--21:00: Polishing a Township Jewel in Upper Pottsgrove
- 11/21/17--21:00: Thanksgiving Dinner Provided for 200 Area Families
- 11/22/17--21:00: Donna Cuthbert, the Unexpected Environmentalist
- 11/23/17--21:00: Coventry Singers to Perform 'Songs of the Season'
- 11/24/17--21:00: An Iron Plantation Christmas at Hopewell Furnace
- 11/26/17--21:00: A Tavern Christmas Set at Morlatton Village Dec. 16
- 11/27/17--21:00: No Tax Hike in $12M New Hanover Budget for 2018
- 11/28/17--21:00: Open House at the Western Center Tonight
- 11/29/17--21:00: Pottstown Trojans Put the Give in Thanksgiving
- 11/30/17--21:00: Kids Shop at Van Gogh's Secret Studio at ArtFusion
- 12/02/17--21:00: Middle School Club Takes Education Into the Woods
- 12/04/17--22:37: New Board Kills Upper Perk Middle School Project
- 12/05/17--21:00: $2.5M for New Roof, 2% Raises for Administrators
- 12/06/17--21:14: Budget Questions and First Firefighter of the Year
- 12/07/17--21:00: Pottsgrove a Top Scorer in Robotics Competition
- 12/07/17--21:00: Of Traffic Studies and Spotted Lanterfly Combat
- 12/09/17--21:00: GOP War on Education for All Taxes Understanding
- Less money for public schools
- Less money for teachers buying supplies
- Less ways for public schools to refinance their debt and save money
- More money for people who want to send their kids to private school
- Removing the deduction for student debt
- Removing deductions for college endowments that fund scholarships
- Keeping those deductions for schools that teach Conservative principles
- Taxing tuition wavers for graduate students producing advanced degrees
- 12/10/17--21:00: Thanks to High School Service Club for Holiday Meal
- 12/11/17--21:00: Pottstown Budget at 18.6% Hike, A Work in Progress
- 12/12/17--21:00: Mural Celebrating Hispanic Culture Unveiled
- 12/14/17--21:00: Operation Holiday Delivers Holiday Cheer Every Year
- 12/15/17--21:00: Pottstown Pride Society Mixer Garners $1K Donation
Photos by Evan Brandt
A graph on the wall of the township meeting room shows where most of your tax dollars go.
At this time of year, I am obligated to reported first on the township's proposed $4 million budget, which calls for no tax increase over the current millage.
Adding to that good news, is the fact that the township is creating an "operational reserve" to the tune of $600,000 funded entirely with contributions from developers from projects dating all the way back to 2003.
The biggest is $390,000 that is available thanks to an agreement that ended a challenge to the township's zoning ordinance and ultimately involved the school board for a project once called "Crossroads."
The townhomes along Route 100 were first proposed by developer Richard Mingey but ultimately passed into ownership a non-profit building housing for working class incomes.
Part of that agreement requirement "contributions" to the township when permits were finally pulled for the long-delayed project.
Retiring Public Works employee Larry Kuser, left,. receives
a plaque recognizing 27 years of service from Elwood Taylor.
Also of note at the meeting was the recognition of Larry Kuser, a public works employee who is retiring after 27 years with Upper Pottsgrove. He received a plaque from Commissioners Chairman Elwood Taylor, but declined to make a fuss. "I don't do speeches," he said.
Which brings us to the jewel that got polished Monday night.
As part of its charter, Althouse Arboretum director Ken Hamilton must deliver an annual report to the commissioners on the open space property Commissioner Herb Miller is fond of calling "a jewel in Upper Pottsgrove."
Hamilton delivered some starting and encouraging statistics about the use the 17-acre parcel.
He said the arboretum is run in partnership with an organization called Green Allies and has benefited from the services of nearly 400 volunteers.
Taking an informal census of users brings Hamilton to the conclusion that the property is used by an average of 23 people per day, or 6,343 people who simply walk the trails.
Upper Pottsgrove Commissioner Herb Miller, left,
introduces Ken Hamilton, director of Althouse Arboretum.
In three years, the arboretum has hosted 2,300 elementary students and about 20,000 visitors.
New this year, and already the most-popular is a children's forest trail and a children's wildlife viewing platform is already under constructions.
Two hundred Pottstown-area families will have a full Thanksgiving meal this year, thanks to YWCA Tri-County Area and Exelon Generating Station.
Exelon donated funds to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for families whose children attend YWCA’s Early Education Center.
Exelon also contributed to Operation Warm, which provides warm winter coats to children at the Early Education Center. Children received their new coats earlier this week.
YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, works to eliminate racism, and empowers women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.
|Donna Cuthbert, center, with blog post author Susan Burke, right|
and physicist Ernest Sternglass.
When I first met Donna Cuthbert, it was at her house. We went downstairs into the Alliance for a Clean Environment office, filled with notebooks labelled and organized like a library.
Donna and I sat and spoke at her desk. Her granddaughter came in briefly, and Donna took the time to talk with her too.
Then we walked into the next room. I saw it. Hanging on the wall, actually encompassing the entire wall, was a map. A HUGE MAP! This map was of the Greater Pottstown area and was covered in colored dots. Each dot represented a person – a person (adult or child) who had cancer.
I was in shock. The dots formed circles and lines and there were too many of them to fully comprehend the gravity of the disease’s impact on the community. Our friendship began there, and never stopped.
We shared a passion for clothing, and we each appreciated the other’s style. We shared a love of children and family and hard work. We shared the determination to get to the truth. Truth was key.
There was no stopping now. I sat back down with Donna, and I asked her what her dream was – what SHE hoped to accomplish most. Without skipping a breath, she said “closing the Landfill.”
The Pottstown Landfill in West Pottsgrove represented a massive reservoir of contamination. The smell could be noticed traveling down Route 100. Facts from official documents showed dumping of waste from other countries, and even radioactive waste. Then Donna said “but this will never happen.”
But Donna proved her own words wrong. It did happen, and I know that she is at the heart of the Landfill closure.
Donna also knew of the heavily toxic chemicals that were across town at the OxyChem plant. At times, people reported a yellow film that covered their cars, and they would call ACE for information about this toxic film. Donna’s research continued.
Donna’s wish of a healthier Pottstown was progressing. However, these toxins linger and remain in food, water, and people for decades. No one knows the true impact of these polluters.
I recall Donna collecting children’s teeth for the baby tooth study. The teeth were tested for Strontium-90, a chemical produced only in atomic bomb tests and nuclear reactors. Teeth from the tri-county area had the highest average Strontium-90 concentration of any of the six nuclear plant areas studied, a precursor of cancer later in life.
I remember when renowned physicist Dr. Ernest Sternglass came to Pottstown to help with the tooth project. He stayed with the Cuthberts, and Donna and he became good friends. They spent long hours discussing the implications of radiation, and their hope for a better future.
Donna had calls flooding in from people near the Limerick nuclear plant. Not only were there multiple cancers reported around the plant, but other strange events, which Donna documented in Letters of the Editor, and on ACE’s show.
She lived a healthy life, using essential oils and natural remedies in her own home. Just this past summer, for my birthday, Donna made me my own essential oil kit. Every time I smell my oils, I think of Donna.
Many may remember her from her family clothing shop, Madaras, in Stowe, and many may remember her from school board meetings in Pottsgrove. Words do not describe fully what Donna contributed to her family and the Pottstown area, but here are just a few: dedicated, honest, courageous, relentless, energetic, passionate, and humanitarian.
Even when Donna herself was not well, she never turned away a phone call from a person with questions about health or environment. She was always thinking about other people and their well-being. I miss her, and will never forget the enormous impact she made on the lives of many, including me.
|The Coventry Singers|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by The Coventry Singers
The Coventry Singers are performing their Christmas Concert “Songs of the Season” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 in Pottstown and Birdsboro.
This concert welcomes a new director to the stand. Dan Kershetsky assumed the role of director in September of this year. Dan, a 1981 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, and a 1993 graduate of West Chester University, with a Master of Music Degree in Music Education, has spent 33 years in public education, most recently teaching in the Boyertown Area School District for 26 years.
The Coventry Singers, a choir of about 40 voices, have been performing in the Pottstown area since 1972. They have performed with the Pottstown Symphony, the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, and at Longwood Gardens Christmas Concert Series.
Performances take place Saturday Dec. 2 at 3 p.m at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown, and Sunday Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 5 Brooke Manor, Birdsboro.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Hopewell furnace National Historic Site.
The National Park Service (NPS) invites the public to celebrate an “Iron Plantation Christmas” and stroll through 100 years of American Christmas at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. This free event will take place on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature Christmas as celebrated during the 18th and 19th centuries at Hopewell Furnace.
Hopewell Furnace Site Manager David Blackburn encourages visitors to experience the simple elegance of Christmas through the years during the event. “This is an opportunity for today’s public to travel back in time and witness Christmas at different periods of the furnace’s history” he said. “The company store will be open for business and the park’s buildings will be staffed with employees and volunteers bringing the village once again to life” he added.
Visitors will find nearly a century of Christmas illustrated through a series of recreated holiday scenes, dating from 1795 to 1880, inside the park’s historic buildings. Visitors will be able to discover the variety of customs, foods, and traditions of the holiday season from different times during the furnace community’s history. Staff and volunteers will present three different iterations of Santa. Der Belsnickel, a mischievous version of Santa Claus with a commitment to justice, will be in the Cast House. Belsnickel rewards good children with candy and naughty children with switches. Additionally, St. Nicholas, as Hopewell Furnace residents knew him in the 19th C, will be in the Ironmaster’s House and Mr. and Mrs. Claus in the Visitor Center.
Along with the regular program of historical Christmas activities, a special program will be presented at the park’s Bethesda Church. This is one of only a few days of the year when the historic church is open to the public. It is located one mile east of the main iron furnace community, on Bethesda Road. Christine Emmert will be presenting the one woman play “Out of the Fiery Furnace.” This will be the final performance of this work. After years of playing Ruth and sharing stories of the women of Hopewell, the play is being retired. Come join Emmert for the free performance will be at 3:00. Directions to reach Bethesda Church will be available at the park’s visitor center or by contacting the park at (610) 582-8773.
There is no admission fee for visitors to the park or to this special event.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site preserves and interprets an 18th and 19th Century iron furnace and its associated landscape. The park’s facilities are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday including Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day. It is closed other federal holidays. Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA on Route 345. No entrance fee is charged. For more information stop by the park’s visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park’s web site at: www.nps.gov/hofu, or contact us by e-mail at: email@example.com.
|From left, Carter Lester, Kerry Pidcock-Lester, David Allebach and Joe Rusiewicz|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.
The Foundation for Pottstown Education’s Early College Program was a recipient of $5,610 from The
First Presbyterian Church in Pottstown Mary N. Porter Designated Fund of the Community Foundation of Broward County.
This funding was approved by the Church’s Porter-Broward Task Force and enables the Foundation to support two Pottstown High School students participation in the Early College Program.
These students are selected by the Foundation in conjunction with the Pottstown High School based on academic and co-curricular activity. Students who have earned a 90% or higher grade point average after the first half of their sophomore year are invited to apply for this program.
The Foundation for Pottstown Education is one of the local non-profits that are invited and ultimately receive funding from the First Presbyterian Church Porter-Broward Task Force.
About FPE: The Foundation for Pottstown Education’s (FPE) mission is to support, promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the
Pottstown School District. Visit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the
Foundation for Pottstown Education. You can also follow FPE on Facebook and Twitter.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County.
The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County has announced a new holiday event in Morlatton Village.
Families can enjoy crafts for children and a visit from the Belsnickel.
Visitors will delight in the festive, holiday ambiance of the White Horse Inn.
|The White Horse Inn|
In the Tavern Room, visitors can relax with some complimentary mulled cider and play some fun tavern games like cards and dice.
Admission for A Tavern Christmas is a $5 per person suggested donation. Trust members and children 12 and under are free.
is rain or shine.
The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County is a non-profit organization that acquires, preserves, and maintains historically and architecturally significant properties in Berks County, Pennsylvania and educates Berks County and its’ visitors about the role these sites played in Pennsylvania and American history.
Given that it has been 13 years since there was any kind of tax hike in New Hanover Township and 20 years since the millage for the general fund was raised, it probably comes as no surprise to long-time residents that 2018 won't be much different.
What is different, is the simplicity and clarity of its presentation.
Township Manager Jamie Gwynn got his first run at doing the budget his way and the result was applause by the supervisors and staff -- literally, they clapped last night after the budget was outlined.
(You can find it on the township web siteor by clicking here)
If $12 million sounds a lot bigger than last year, that's because Gwynn has put all of the budgets for the different funds into one easy-to-read document.
So the general fund, which pays for police, parks and recreation, some public works accounts for about half in terms of expenditures, $5.8 million.
The capital fund calls for spending $1.2 million. The sewer fund will spend $4.7 million and the pension funds $192,000 -- all adding up to $11,993,403.
And if you want to know what the plans are for that money, check out Gwinn's "letter of transmittal," a 15-page letter that outlines major spending plans and other matters of financial interest.
Also of broader interest, the supervisors agreed to waive the land development process for the New Hanover Fire Company, which is constructing a station in the northern part of town to improve fire coverage.
They had been using the bays at the Sassamansville Fire Company, now only a social hall, but legal disputes between the two companies pushed New Hanover to build a new fire station.
There were also some back-and-forths with developers which you can read about in the Tweets below:
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center.
Just a reminder that tonight, the Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center will be hosting its annual Open House from 5 to 8 p.m.
From 5 to 6 p.m., the center is open for prospective students and parents only, providing them with an opportunity to come learn about all of the opportunities available to them at the center.
From 6 to 8 p.m., the center is open to all for a Community Open House.
The recently constructed Tiny House will even be on display.
From left, Owen Morton, Cole Miller, Jon Oister, Jamal Adams, Ezra Figueroa
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Players and coaches of the Pottstown High School Trojan Football Team give more than their all on the gridiron.
Please note: A parent or guardian must remain in the building while a child shops in VanGogh's Secret Studio.
This event is also a fundraiser for the non-profit community art center.
|Any collection of books which has this many Captain Underpants titles has my endorsement! They're hilarious and great fun to read out loud.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Books-A-Million in the Coventry Mall is supporting education in Pottstown School District with a book donation. They collected 215 books from their customers over the summer of 2017, which store manager, Heather Sarik reported is a $1,306.66 value.
“Books-A-Million is very focused on giving back,” said Sarik.
Laurie Kolka from Pottstown Schools, left, thanks Pottstown
Heather Sarik, manager of Books-A-Million.
Sarik is a Pottstown School District alumni and she was pleased to give back to her community.
“Great books get kids excited about reading, which helps to foster life-long habits,” said Laurie Kolka, Pottstown School District’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development. “We greatly appreciate the generosity of Books-A-Million and its customers in supporting access to quality literature for our students.”
|Studies show outdoor education has many benefits.|
Blogger's Note: Some of the following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Pottstown Middle School students received some first hand (and foot) education about the environment recently.
Thirty-five members of the Environmental Science Club, along with their sponsor, Ginger Angelo, explored various ecosystems on a 5-mile hike through Green Lane Park.
Students stopped along the trail to make notes about their observations and will use them during classroom discussions.
|Pottstown students explore Green Lane Park.|
Angelo said Taking the classroom to the outdoors brings life to our lessons and helps grow an appreciation for the environment.
According to findings published by the University of Wisconsin, "Research has documented increased standardized test scores, enhanced attitude about school, improved in-school behavior, improved attendance and overall enhanced student achievement when students learn in and about nature. In addition, outdoor education effectively employs a greater range of children’s intelligences."
"Access to nature has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of ADHD. Outdoor learning and access to nature also decrease stress levels of students and teachers," according to the research.
In a stunning development that will mean Upper Perkiomen School District taxpayers spent $8 million for a hole in the ground, the newly elected majority of the school board Monday night voted 5-4 to kill the project on which construction has already begun.
It took place at a marathon four-hour meeting, moved to the high school auditorium due to the expected crowd, which showed up in force -- on both sides of the issue.
Newly sworn in board members Melanie Cunningham, Stephen Cunningham, James Glackin and newly elected School Board President Kerry Drake, joined board member Raeann Hofkin in providing the five votes.
Before the voting took place, however, 24 speakers had their say and by the end of the night, 31 had spoken, some more than once. A total of four of them spoke in favor of the board's course of action.
The actual cost of the decision remains unknown. When board member John Farris asked for what it would cost to stop construction, Superintendent Alexis McGloin said "I don't know the answer to that question."
Board member Melanie Cunningham, who at the end of the night said many of the supporters of the middle school project were making assumptions about what the new majority intended, said every day construction continues, the number changes.
A motion by Farris to delay the vote was defeated, and pleas by board members Judith Maginnis and Mike W. Elliott failed to change the minds of the board. majority.
Some speakers said those opposed to the middle school project had made similar pleas for delays before voting to start construction, both before and after the election, and had been similarly ignored.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting. Look for more coverage in upcoming editions of The Mercury.
|A view of the Pottsgrove Middle School roof, now 20 years old, which must be replaced.|
The Pottsgrove School Board re-organized Tuesday night, returning Matt Alexander to the presidency and installing Robert Lindgren in the vice-presidency.
Two new members, Charles Nippert and Scott Hutt, were sworn in, and then the board proceeded to make some decisions.
One sad one was to accept the resignation of the now-legendary Rick Pennypacker as football coach, due to his pending retirement.
Another was a long time in coming, the spend no more than $2.5 million to replace the roof at Pottsgrove Middle School, now 20 years old.
(I must point out the construction of this school is one of the first things I covered for The Mercury, meaning I am in the midst of my 20-year anniversary at the paper. Wow. I still think of this building as "new.")
The board also approved across-the-board 2 percent raises for building principals and mid-level administrators.
Board member Bill Parker questioned whether he could support such increases given the poor performance of so many Pottsgrove school buildings on recent School Performance Profile scores.
But Superintendent William Shirk noted that there is a rubrik used to determine goal meeting, of which SPP is just one part, and assured Parker that the raises were warranted under that rubrik.
Changing it would mean re-negotiating the agreement, which has one more year before it expires.
That said, here are the Tweets from the meeting:
Photo by Evan Brandt
Pottstown Fire Chief Michael Lessar congratulates Michael Sedlock of t he North End Fire Company who is retiring after 48 years of volunteer service and was named the first-ever Pottstown Firefighter of the Year.
|The Firefighter of the Year Award|
Instead, I will offer some highlights, the most important of which is related to the budget and its 18 percent tax hike.
No decisions were made about the budget and in a weird kind of kabuki budget theater, Vice President Sheryl Miller outlined some specific cuts, only to be told that council can only suggest areas to cut and its up to the borough manager to make it happen.
So despite Miller suggesting several specific administrative cuts, such as not hiring an assistant public works director, getting rid of one of two human resources director assistants and cutting down on open window hours, Borough Manager Mark Flanders and Council President Dan Weand kept asking her "what services to you want to cut?"
It was frustrating to watch and, likely, more frustrating to live through.
Also important is the return of the folks from Department of Community and Economic Development's Governor's Center for Local Government Services were back.
Their Early Intervention Program, started back in 2007 and completed in 2009, is what created a report with 122 suggestions on ways Pottstown could economize. They would like to do the same thing again, which council seemed amendable to, but which would not be soon enough to affect the proposed 2018 budget.
Also significant is a plan for the construction of the new station in Memorial Park for the Colebrookdale Railroad, which will require a land swap to happen.
Nathaniel Guest, who runs the railroad, said so far most of the nearly $2 million in economic impact is in Boyertown, because there is a station there, and he wants some of that benefit to come to Pottstown, "my home town."
Anyway, lots of other things in the works, such as a proposal to establish a group home at 306 N. Charlotte St., which is on the northeast corner of the intersection with Lincoln Avenue, but for now, you will have to be satisfied with the Tweets from the meeting ...
|Pottsgrove Middle School teacher Deb MacIlvain and the members of her 7th grade class who excelled in the Lego Robotics competition on Dec. 2.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.
The PGMS Computer / Robotics’ Technology - Lego Team won First Place on Dec. 2, at the school's first-ever Lego Robotic Competition, for their innovative project.
At the competition, there are four judged events. There is the Robot Design, Core Values, Project (Invention) and Robot Game. Each event is judged separately and out of 22 teams at the competition Pottsgrove came in first for our Project (Invention)!
The award is “Innovation Solution” and the award was described as: "Recognizing a team’s solution that is exceptionally well considered and creative, with good potential to solve the problem researched."
This team looked at their daily life experience and found an opportunity to improve our drinking water.
The students identified a problem, researched the problem and developed a solution. They also contacted experts in the water professional field to learn about the public water system and shared their solution with the school's maintenance department.
"We are very proud of their efforts and for making Pottsgrove proud! A special thank-you goes out to their great instructor and teacher – Mrs. Deb MacIlvain!" Principal Matt Boyer wrote in an email to the school.
If the wheels of the Gods grind slow, the wheels of government grind just a bit slower.
A regional traffic study under discussion for more than a year, took a tiny step forward Thursday night when Karen Whittaker, a transportation planner for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, outlined what the study will look like -- again.
This will not be the first time the members of the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Committee have heard about what the study will do. But it may be the last time.
That's because at the Jan. 24 meeting, at least according to Montgomery County Community Planning Chief John Cover, the members had better show up "prepared to work."
That's when the DVRPC folks will actually get down to brass tacks and start collecting data about what roads and intersections in the eight towns which comprise the regional planning area, are problem areas.
Cover said the best result of the study will be identifying fixes that "can have a big impact in more than one town for not a lot of money."
The planners also learned the state has provided more money for the parks "mini-grant" program which is also funded by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.
And, they also endorsed a letter urging more funding to fight the invasive species "spotted lantern fly."
Here are the Tweets
Many years ago, when Jack Wolf was president of Pottstown Borough Council, he dropped some knowledge on me. "If you want to see what a government's priorities are, just look at their budget."
A variation on "follow the money," I look back with chagrin that someone actually had to tell me something I should have figured out for myself.
If we apply that the nation, or, more specifically the various aspects of the GOP tax bill, it clearly says education for all is not a high priority.
Polls show that Conservatives increasingly see college as "bad for the country," and yes, I am not making that up.
Consider how the First Son, Donald Trump Jr., views college: “We’ll take $200,000 of your money; in exchange, we’ll train your children to hate our country.”
Attacking the "politically-correct" speech on campus that Conservatives love to lambast, Trump Jr. said “Hate speech is anything that says America is a good country. That our founders were great people. That we need borders. Hate speech is anything faithful to the moral teachings of the Bible.”
Maybe, as with so many things involving our president, it's all about him.
As the Washington Post reported in a Nov. 25 look at how conservatives view college education, "Hillary Clinton trounced Trump in the nation’s most educated counties, but Trump won white voters without a college degree by 37 points."
One might argue that rather than elevate the educated, the president wants more people who will vote for him, and this tax bill fits that bill.
But he is not alone in his antipathy toward higher learning.
Research by the Pew Center shows "Core conservatives are overwhelmingly anti-college, by 80 to 16 percent — a worse rating than they gave to labor unions or Islam. The other slice of Trump’s base, “Country First Conservatives,” are anti-college by 60 to 32 percent,"wrote Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.
So the Republicans in congress are doing something about this hatred of college knowledge in their unpopular but seemingly inevitable tax-cut-for-millionaires plan. They're making it harder to survive, because we need more people who believe the world is flat and who can't find North Korea on a map.
As Westneat wrote, "the Republican plan passed by the House would raise taxes on graduate students, of all people, by taxing what are called 'tuition waivers.' This is akin to taxing college scholarships, as universities often waive all or part of the tuition for grad students who serve as research or teaching assistants while getting their master’s degrees or Ph.Ds."
|Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist.|
|Pat Meehan, R-7th Dist.|
according to The Washington Post.
"Advance refund bonds 'are a cost-effective way for districts to refinance high-interest debt at lower-interest rates, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ dollars in lower debt payments,” Musso wrote in a blog post on the website of the American Association of School Administrators," the Post reported.
"The latest evidence of the revival came Friday, when the Labor Department reported that American employers added 228,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent, the lowest since 2000. Job growth has slowed since its peak in 2014 but remains remarkably steady: For the first time on record, employers have added jobs every month for more than seven years — 86 months, to be precise."
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District
It was not just the Pottstown High School Football Trojans who helped ensure less-fortunate families had a meal for Thanksgiving.
The Pottstown High School Service Club sponsored by Jordan Thomas helped 30 families enjoy a holiday meal.
Despite two-and-a-half hours of talking, the only new thing we can tell you about the proposed $54.7 million 2018 budget at this point is that there will be more talking.
An additional budget workshop has been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. to keep this rip-roaring conversation going seeing as no decisions were made last night.
Several cost-cutting suggestions brought to the table by Council Vice President Sheryl Miller were reviewed during the course of the meeting and a particular combination of them could bring the tax hike down to 13.39 percent.
But none of them were voted on and Councilman Joe Kirkland had a few more, particularly cutting some positions to part-time.
Kirkland also pushed for a "task force" to look for other ways to cut the budget in the coming year, which could arguably duplicate some of the work the finance committee has ostensibly been doing, but hey, the more the merrier.
Also, Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. provided a little more breathing room when he pointed out that the law gives the new borough council until Feb. 15, 2018 to open up the budget passed by this council and make changes to lower the tax rate.
However, the only new voting member of council replaces Miller, who has taken the lead in pushing for cuts, so it remains to be seen what other changes might be made after the final budget is passed.
It is not clear when that may be.
Council President Dan Weand -- who pretended that no one could see all the assessment challenges that came this year, along with the sale of the hospital, despite warnings going back to 2007 -- said if he has to, he will have council meet on New Year's Eve to pass a budget.
Also of significance to the budget was the announcement by Borough Manager Mark Flanders that he was contacted by Zach Lehman, headmaster at The Hill School, who told him the school will donate $100,000 in 2018 toward the purchase of new police cars.
And now, without further ado, THE TWEETS!
|Photo by Laura Catalano|
A mural promoting the vitality of Hispanic and Native American heritage was dedicated amid snow flurries on Saturday.
The project was created by volunteer artists organized by Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos, or CCLU.
Photo by Laura Catalano
Pottstown Borough Councilwo0man Rita Paez
Borough Councilwoman Rita Paez is also the president of CCLU and she served as the master of ceremonies for the unveiling.
Although it has been up for some time, the mural was covered with a tarp and unveiled in dramatic fashion for the ceremony to the ohs and ahs of the crowd.
Hot coffee and hot chocolate were served, and welcomed by the obviously chilly gathered there.
A dedication was offered by the Rev. William Rex, interim rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Pottstown.
“We are each individual gifted through our past heritage, present realities and future potential. We should never consider any cultural background as a challenge to future expectations and potential,” said Rex.
“Their future lies ahead of them, grounded upon heritage,” Rex said of the children present.
|Photo by Audra Hammer Ross|
“Let us celebrate their cultural, rich in color and beauty and creativity, all of things are represented by this mural,” he said. “Let’s lift up these Latino youth of today and give them the support they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The project was approved by council at a time when there was controversy over a new ordinance governing murals.
However, this project met the new guidelines and was approved.
It is affixed to the wall of the former public works garage on Beech Street, across from the Olivet Boys & Girls Club.
However, it can be removed and erected somewhere else of the need arises.
|Among Wilson's activities is playing in the Pottstown High School Marching Band.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Pottstown High School senior, Nick Wilson was named the first ever Co-Curricular Student of the Quarter at Pottstown High School.
Wilson has earned a 104.8 GPA.
He is involved in many athletic and non-athletic activities, including cross country, track and field, jazz, concert, and marching band, pit orchestra for the Pottstown School District musical, National Honors Society, and Student Government.
|Wilson in the high school's engineering lab.|
Several PHS teachers nominated Wilson for this honor.
In his nomination, engineering teacher Andy Bachman described Wilson as a “dedicated student-athlete and talented young man. While he may not be the fastest runner, Nick is a leader in the classroom and hallways.”
Wilson describes the importance of “performing on the field and on the test” and believes that his teachers see him as hard-working.
He wants to attend college for civil engineering and has already been accepted by three schools.
Photos by Evan Brandt
Volunteers inside The Mercury celebrate the packing of the last box Thursday morning. About 300 boxes of food were distributed to needy families Thursday.
What with what my sister calls "the world on fire blues," having to scrap one of my family's two vehicles and an invasion of squirrels who gained entry to my attic by chewing through the wood of my house and making their home in our Christmas decorations, is all making it hard to be merry.
I tried "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,""Charlie Brown Christmas" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." ( Usually save "It's a Wonderful Life" for Christmas Eve.)
I was prepared to cue up Dylan Thomas reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales" after listening to some of my Christmas CDs, which my son, the Welsh poet's namesake, insists are too numerous to be normal, failed to snap me out of my funk.
Since he was small, Dylan and I have always volunteered together for pack-up day at The Mercury's Operation Holiday. It's one of our family traditions.
But college and a calculus final kept us apart this year, so I was prepared to be moping around yesterday morning.
But instead, a coffee and doughnut later, I caught myself unconsciously whistling carols as I packed up a stream of about 300 boxes with cans of chicken soup and loaves of bread.
|It is also an annual tradition that I take a photo of|
former Mercury Editor Nancy March with a cup of coffee
after we have finished box 1 and box is being set up,
"so you can make it seem like I'm not working,"
she complains each year.
But who instead, they chose to stand in a cold distribution area and pack boxes coming down an assembly line so their neighbors would have a holiday meal on Christmas.
I guess it's true what they say about traditions of giving.
It's a tradition that the Pottstown area has sustained for nearly 40 years.
So far, Mercury readers have donated $18,000 to Operation Holiday, chasing last year's total of about $30,000
Those boxes we packed yesterday will help ensure 147 households, with 412 children, struggling have something to eat on Christmas.
And the $100 Boscov's gift cards for each of those children under 17 will ensure there is something under the tree for them on Christmas morning.
But former editor Nancy March, who was here for the very first Operation Holiday, puts it best in her well-practiced pep talk before the packing starts:
"There's a lot of need in this community and this program really helps the children in need to have at least a bright moment or two on the holidays," she said.
How could that not put you in the holiday spirit?
Here are some Tweets from a fun morning.
|From left, David Charles, Chris Golden, Codilia Arcay, Joe Rusiewicz, Howard Brown.|
The Pottstown Pride Society, a subcommittee of the Foundation for Pottstown Education held an Alumni Mixer recently. The mixer was held at @107.
Thanks to the Advantage Insurance Group for their support of this event and the donation of $1,000 to the Pottstown Pride Society.
Anyone interested in joining the Pottstown Pride Society or hearing of our upcoming events, please contact the Foundation’s Executive Director, Joe Rusiewicz 610-970-6616.