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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Green Allies

    The second annual Forrest Easter Egg Hunt will be held at Althouse Arboretum, 1794 Gilbertsville Road in Upper Pottsgrove on Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Sponsored by the Spark the Wave Club at Pottsgrove High Schoo and Green Alliesl, the cost is $5 per child.

    The rain date is Sunday, April 9

    Join the us at the Althouse Arboretum for a unique Easter egg hunt along our trails! Search for eggs to turn in for prizes, play games, make a craft to take home and enjoy some family fun.

    Event sponsored by GreenAllies with its mission to “Empower and support students to innovate and lead environmental sustainability efforts.”

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Steel River Playhouse

    A Year with Frog and Toad, the Tony Award-nominated musical, will be staged at Steel River Playhouse on April 1 and 2, and April 8 and 9 by the Theater for Young Audiences.

    It is directed by Aileen McCulloch and performances are at 2 p.m.
    With book and lyrics by Willie Reale and music by Robert Reale. A Year with Frog and Toad was originally commissioned by Adrianne Lobel, theatre producer/scenic designer, to be based on all four books written by her father, Arnold Lobel.

    After its premiere at The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, the musical found huge success both off and on Broadway. 
    The Caldecott and Newbery award-winning stories come to life in wonderful ways—complete with foot-tapping music. Frog, Toad and friends plant a garden, swim in a pond and skip rope with a large and terrible frog. 
    And, they like to settle down in a warm house and sip a bowl of soup. This song-filled, year in the life of two charming woodland characters has captivated children, adults and critics alike.

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    Pottstown student musicians in the state capitol building.


    No one can accuse Pottstown students of a lack of esprit d' corps.
    Whether its in Harrisburg, West Chester or Kutztown, Pottstown student musicians are making names for themselves, as well as making music.

    Most recent, the halls of the State Capitol were alive with the sounds of music thanks to the Woodwind and Brass Ensemble groups from Pottstown Middle and High Schools.

    The ensembles are under the direction of Nancy Mest, Rachel Ficca and Katie German.

    They were part of Music In Our Schools Month.

    The ensembles participated in a lunchtime concert series held in the East Wing of the capitol building in Harrisburg.

    State Sen. Bob Mensch, R-24th Dist., attended the event and talked with the Pottstown students.

    State Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th Dist. arrived in time to get into the photo shown above.

    After the performance, students were given a guided tour of State Capitol Facility.

    The Pottstown High School Jazz Band in West Chester

    The Pottstown High School Jazz Band showcased their talents at the West Chester University Jazz Festival on March 25.

    The overall band received the coveted "superior" rating, while the trumpets won the "outstanding trumpet section" award.

    Pottstown's "Outstanding Trumpet Section" at West Chester. 
    That section is comprised of Nick Wilson, Will Minnick, Mitchell Aquino, Abby Welder and Jacob Eagle

    In addition, trombonist Kyle Kratzer won an honorable mention soloist award.

    Not to be outdone

    The Pottstown Middle School Jazz Band, along with, Spring-Ford, and Boyertown Junior High, won outstanding performance recognition at the annual Kutztown School District Jazz Festival on March 18.





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    Blogger's Note:The Following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.

    Pottsgrove High School will hold its second annual multi-hour dance marathon on April 7th to raise money to support Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital. 

    For more than eight months, the Pottsgrove KEY Club has been inspiring the student body to get involved and participate in fundraisers to help this cause. The money raised will help cover medical expenses for families that have children battling childhood cancer, as well as support a comprehensive team of researchers that are looking for a cure.

    Modeled after the Penn State Dance Marathon, “Four Diamonds Mini-THONs” originated in 1993 and empowered students to learn about event management and philanthropy by joining in the fight against childhood cancer. 

    Last year, more than 230 schools just like Pottsgrove High School held Mini-THON's and raised a combined $5.5 million for Four Diamonds. The mission of Four Diamonds is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children being treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital and their families through superior care, comprehensive support, and innovative research.

    In Pottsgrove's first ever Mini-THON, more than 125 students took a stand against childhood cancer and raised $7,353.37. This year, they hope to donate at least $7,500. 

    Students will come together for a 12-hour overnight event filled with activities such as zumba, volleyball, basketball, face/nail painting, dodgeball, kanjam, soccer, henna tattoo painting, human hungry hippos, cornhole, obstacle courses, scooter races, scavenger hunt, human bowling, and more. Students will stay on their feet and unite while they stand up to pediatric cancer. 

    This year Pottsgrove will also hear from our guest speaker, Kristen Lawhorne, a Pottsgrove graduate and survivor of pediatric cancer. 

    “Hosting a Mini-THON at our school has increased school spirit, helping the students all come together for a common cause. Most importantly, Mini-THON has increased student leadership skills, allowing them to handle multiple aspects of philanthropy while selflessly working to raise both monetary funds and awareness for Four Diamonds,”said Jaime Reinhart, Mini-THON advisor.

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    As is their custom, the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners made quick work of their agenda Monday night.

    Within 35 minutes, the meeting was over and I am beginning to suspect that they are in a secret competition with Douglass (Mont.) supervisors to see who can have the fastest meeting.

    Douglass also met last night but I chose Lower Pottsgrove because I missed the last one and because by the time I finished writing my story for today's paper, I knew I would never make it to Gilbertsville without breaking the speed limit.

    That said, the biggest thing on the agenda, the progress on improving the Route 422/Sanatoga interchange was already deftly handled by the township's partners over in Limerick and by my co-worker, Eric Devlin, who wrote a story about their action to which the Lower Pottsgrove side had little to add.

    The township also approved the ordinance allowing for the early retirement program for the police department, included as part of the most recently adopted police contract.

    Of local note, Rich Wood, who served on the township's Recreation Commission for several years and was a mainstay of the Pottsgrove Soccer Association, resigned because his family is moving out of state.

    All commissioners said they regretted his resignation and thanked him for his service.

    Otherwise, it was pretty routine folks. Here are the Tweets.


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    This new  programmable control unit will help Pottstown High School engineering students learn about industrial controls, thanks to the Greater Pottstown Foundation and the Foundation for Pottstown Education.



    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    Engineering students at Pottstown High School now have a programmable control unit like those used in industrial applications thanks to the Pottstown Foundation for Education.

    The board of directors approved funding which was requested by Andrew Bachman, the high school's engineering and technology teacher.

    With this system the students will learn how to program, operate, and interface programmable controllers in a variety of industrial applications used in the automotive, packaging, and technological assembly industries, to name a few. 

    The programmable controller is one of the most important developments in industrial automation because of its ability to be quickly programmed to control a wide range of industrial processes and machines. Typical applications include: robots, conveyors, electric motor controls, air conditioning, process control, plastic injection molding, and CNC machines.

    This system will work with the Robotics 1 and 2 Learning System that the Foundation for Pottstown Education funded the beginning of the school year. This program works with the students to teach them articulated arm servo robotics and how it is applied in industrial tasks like assembly, material handling, machine tending, gluing and inspection. Students also learn basic robot operation programming, interfacing, flexible manufacturing cells quality control and production control.

    The funding for both of these requests is made possible by a grant secured by the Foundation for Pottstown Education though a gift from the Greater Pottstown Foundation. 

    The gift by the Greater Pottstown Foundation was given in support of the Robotics Program in the Pottstown School District. 

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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Pottstown Police Corporal Charles McClincy, in blue, is presented with awards and thanks for his remarkable 44 years of service to the department during a ceremony Wednesday night.


    When Rick Drumheller started on the police force 28 years ago, the man who showed him the ropes was Charlie W. McClincy Jr., by then already a 16-year veteran of the force.

    Corporal McClincly receives his retirement badge and a
    congratulatory handshake from Chief Rick Drumheller.
    When Drumheller, now the chief, faced borough council Wednesday night on the occasion of McClincy's retirement, he cracked a joke about how much gas cost per gallon in 1973 when McClincy first started.

    But when Drumheller faced the man he had spent his entire career beside, it was his voice that
    cracked and his composure that trembled as he faced McClincy and presented him with his retirement badge.

    For the first time I've ever seen at a retirement ceremony, the Pottstown Police Honor Guard were on hand to show McClincy the respect that 44 years of service earns. He is the longest-serving tenured employee in the entire department.

    A man of few words, McClincy approached the ceremony he had hoped to avoid with a mere salute and "Corporal McClincy reporting sir."

    And when he took to the microphone, he said merely that "it has been my honor to serve my community."
    McClincy receives a clock from the police union
    presented by Officer Chris Zahorchak.

    Mayor Sharon Thomas presented McClincy with a "Trailblazer's Award," accommodated to citizens "who have made significant strides or firsts."

    As you might expect, 44 years of service provided the opportunity for McClincy to wear a lot of hats. For 26 years he was chairman of the Police Pension Board and for 15 years, the head of the negotiating committee for the Pottstown Police Officers Association for 15 years.

    "We applaud his constancy and dedication as a man of family and community," said Thomas.

    He also received a commendation and honorable discharge from the police department as well "for 44 years of honest and faithful service."

    And the thanks and congratulations just kept coming ans Officer Chris Zahorchak then came to the front of the room to present McClincy with a commemorative mantle clock as thanks from the Pottstown Police Officers Association.

    * * *

    So that would be blog post enough for most of us (the author included), but Wednesday night was a busy night.

    We learned, for example, that when the sewer pumping station was put into Memorial Park in 1990, it violated a deed restriction going back to the 1960s when the park was created with federal funds. It has just taken the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources until now to notice.

    Further, the construction of a stop for the Colebrookdale Railroad was also deemed by DCNR to be a transportation use and thus a further loss of recreation land. Failure to resolve the situation could result in a ban on Pottstown receiving any more state grant money for Memorial Park, or any other borough parks.

    And given that earlier in the evening, Regional Recreation Coordinator Michael Lane had outlined
    Existing conditions at Pollock Park.
    improvements for the splash park area that depend on such a grant, it could present a real problem.

    But as Assistant Borough Manager Justin Keller explained, Memorial Park's loss is Pollock Park's potential gain. The government allows the dedication of new recreation space to be offered up as a make-good on the intrusion on Memorial Park's recreational potential.

    Currently, the borough is in the process of meeting with residents about improvements being planned for Pollock Park and so an offer from the BASF Corporation for a parcel at 860 Cross St., right across from Pollock Park, was particularly timely.

    Keller said in the course of the Pollock Park planning they learned the basketball courts there are always in use and more are needed. The property across Cross Street, a formal industrial site where an environmental analysis and recommendation for impermeable cover, is just the right size for two more courts and some parking.

    There are still some T's to cross and some I's to dot, but officials are hopeful.

    * * *

    There was also a lively discussion about eliminating the political wards in Pottstown.

    The matter was first raised last month by Councilman Dennis Arms, who generously credited a 2015 post in the The Digital Notebook for the idea.

    Borough Manager Mark Flanders asked for direction and, after some back and forth, council agreed that Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. should look into the legality of the matter.

    He will find out how (and if) wards can be eliminated, what role, if any, the voters should play in the process and also if, as suggested by Councilman Joseph Kirkland, two at-large council members could be added, bringing council's size to nine.

    * * *

    Satisfied yet?

    Don't be, because there's more.

    Remember those plans for park improvements I mentioned above? Well they also include plans for a trail along Manatawny Creek that starts in Memorial Park and, significantly, would follow the creek and make its way under the Route 100 bridge over the creek.
    Scene of the accident that killed Donald Purnell.

    "Trails are nice, but why is this significant?" you ask. Well, dear reader, it could provide for an alternative, and safer pedestrian crossing of Route 100.

    As you may recall, it was just last month that 24-year-old Donald Purnell was killed in a hit-and-run accident while crossing Route 100 while trying to get to his job at Wendy's.

    PennDOT and the borough have already made some temporary improvements at the intersection and more are planned, but the trail could provide a safe alternative for those pedestrians who don't want to stake their lives on drivers' obeying traffic signals.

    * * *

    "Please! No more!" you say?

    Well, suck it up because there's still more and it's more trail news to boot.

    Keller reports that construction will soon begin on a Schuylkill River Trail extension from Armand Hammer Boulevard to Riverfront Park along Industrial Highway.

    For those who don't know, the trail will cross the Schuylkill from Chester County back to Pottstown on the new Route 422 bridge now under construction. And, for the first time, it will allow trail users to head downstream from Pottstown.

    Currently, the trail extends upstream toward Reading from Riverfront Park, but there was no way to head toward Philadelphia.

    * * *

    Nope, still more.

    Lenhart also took the opportunity of last night's meeting to brief borough council on efforts to market Pottstown's TREC district, which stands for Tourism and Recreation.

    This includes Memorial Park, the Carousel at Pottstown, the Colebrookdale Railroad, Manatawny Green mini-golf, Pottsgrove Manor, the afore-mentioned Schuylkill River Trail and the River of Revolutions exhibit at the Greenway building in Memorial Park as well as the art galleries at Montogmery County Community college's North Hall.

    A brochure that highlights these attraction has been produced.

    He also pointed to the establishment of a new community activity calendar, "Pottstown Familes," hosted and operated by the Pottstown School District aimed at ensuring people know about all the opportunities in the region.

    It includes not only Pottstown, but six of the eight surrounding municipalities that are part of the regional planning group.

    * * *

    OK, I'm done, I swear.

    Those not yet exhausted can check out the Tweets and videos below.


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    Last night's zoning hearing meeting on the proposed expansion of the Gibraltar Rock Quarry is probably more significant for what it represents than what happened.

    What happened is it's the last one. The zoning hearing board will issue its decision in August.

    What it represents is the closing of a chapter in the quarry's ongoing saga in its attempt to win township approval and begin operations.

    For most of the hearings that I have managed to attend, the primary question with which the zoning hearing board must wrestle is one of pollution, not its usual balliwick.

    Small wonder, the expert paid by the quarry says there is no risk ("within reasonable scientific certainty") that the pumping of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from the second quarry pit on the north side of Hoffmansville Road, adjacent to the Good Oil groundwater contamination site that the chemicals in question will be pumped into the quarry, and then into the tributary of Swamp Creek.

    The experts paid by the township and the Paradise Watchdogs group put the potential risk much higher.

    In the end, its the members of the zoning board who have to decide.

    In the meantime, quarry attorney Stephen Harris said he believes the discharge permit for the original quarry, already approved by the zoning board, will be issued by the state in 30 to 60 days.

    Then it's a question of how quickly the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's mining office in Pottsville issues a new mining permit that the digging can begin.

    Here are the Tweets:


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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by YWCA TriCounty Area.

    YWCA Tri-County Area is accepting nominations for exceptional girls in grades 4 through 12 for its second annual Tribute to Exceptional Girls. Nominees and award winners will be honored during a brunch on May 6.

    Modeled after YWCA’s long-running and successful Tribute to Exceptional Women, the Tribute to Exceptional Girls honors girls who are making a difference in their schools and in their communities.

    Community members are invited to nominate girls in the following categories:
    • Arts– honors girls in grades 4 through 12 who have a love for art and the ability to express self-truth through artistic expression.
    • Health and Wellness– honors girls in grades 4 through 12 who promote, demonstrate, and encourage the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
    • STEM– honors girls in grades 6 through 12 who have a passion and who take initiative in science, technology, engineering and/or math.
    • The Coretta Scott King Award for social justice honors girls in grades 6 through 12 who are an agent of change by advocating, influencing and making an impact among her peers in the areas of social justice, peace, equality, and human rights.
    • Rising Star Award for girls in 12th grade who exhibit leadership qualities, and who are role models or mentors to her peers.
    Nominations may be submitted online at https://goo.gl/forms/wdJp3ttSutyEvYJC3.

    The Tribute to Exceptional Girls will be from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 6, at the Hill School, 860 Beech St., Pottstown.

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    Photos courtesy of Missy Weber
    The Pottstown High School Jazz Band with all their awards from Friday night's competition.


    Best of all, they had a lot of fun. Seen here, Julian Weber
    Eddie Butler and Dylan Thorn on drums
    The Pottstown High School Jazz Band had an outstanding outing at Perkiomen Valley Middle School West Friday night.

    The overall performance earned a rating of "Outstanding."

    In addition, three sections won best section awards.

    They were best saxophone section, best trombone section and another best
    Best Saxophone section. From left, Hannah Shankel,
    Yuliza Cruz, Casey Mest, Dylan Brandt and Chloe Herbert.
    trumpet section.

    The trumpets won the same award last week during a performance in West Chester.

    Better than that, senior trombonist Kyle Kratzer won another soloist award.

    Als0,trumpet player Will Minick won an honorable mention for his solo as well.

    You can see the Pottstown High School Jazz band in their next performance on Thursday, April 27  at the Pottstown High School spring concert.

    Pottstown also won the Best Trombone Section award. From left, are John Stilwell, Kyle Kratzer, Caitlin McLaughlin and David Hicks.


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    Schuylkill River Sojourners arrive in Pottstown's Memorial Park








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area

    Registration is now open for the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s 19th Annual Schuylkill River Sojourn.

    The Schuylkill River Sojourn is a 112-mile, weeklong guided canoe and kayak trip down the river planned for June 3-9. Registration opened on March 31 for full-trip registrants only. Partial trip registration, for those signing up for one to six days of the sojourn, opened April 7.

    Now, entering its 19th year, the sojourn takes place annually during the first full week of June. The trip begins each year in Schuylkill Haven and ends seven days later at Boathouse Row in Philadelphia. Participants sign up for all or part of the trip and paddle 14-18 miles per day, stopping for lunch and camping overnight at parks along the way.

    Each year, the sojourn incorporates programs and presentations at all lunch and evening stops that focus on the culture, history or environment of the river and the region. This year, the sojourn programming theme is “I Protect the Schuylkill River,” emphasizing river conservation.

    The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has organized the sojourn since 1999. Over
    the years the annual event has grown increasingly popular, and has introduced over 3,500 registrants from 25 states, Canada, France and Switzerland to paddling the Schuylkill.

    Last year, a record 79 paddlers completed the entire 112-mile journey, while more than 100 others participated in one or more days. This year about 200 paddlers are expected to join in all or part of the sojourn.

    Anyone wishing to participate in the Schuylkill River Sojourn is encouraged to register early, as space is limited. For safety reasons, a maximum of 100-110 boats are permitted on the water each day. For more information on the sojourn visit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area website at http://www.schuylkillriver.org/Sojourn.aspx or call 484-945-0200

    For the second year in a row, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area has two scholarship opportunities for three people to participate at no cost. The Bill Trace Memorial Scholarship for first time sojourners will cover the cost of a single day on the sojourn for two people who have never before participated. The Schuylkill Steward scholarship is a full-week award given to an individual who will help with blogging, wildlife photographs and water quality testing along the river.

    The Schuylkill River Heritage Area will also host six Pedal and Paddle events from May through September that will take participants on a round-trip biking/kayaking adventure along the river and Schuylkill River Trail. The first event is planned for May 20.

    Visit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s website at www.schuylkillriver.org for more details on the sojourn or pedal and paddles.

    The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development

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    Police Chief Rick Drumheller got a raise last night.

    So did Police Captain Robert Thomas.

    I can tell you how much Drumheller will make, and how much Thomas will make, but I cannot tell you with certainty how much of a raise they received.

    That's because no one at the council table Monday night had any information about how much either one made in 2016.

    The addendums unanimously approved for Drumheller's contact include a new salary of $107,376 an
    Pottstown Police Chief Rick Drumheller
    increase in his uniform allowance from $1,000 to $1,500 per year and the ability to work "special details" at a rate of $51 per hour.

    The addendums unanimously approved for Thomas's new contract include a new salary of $96,526, the addition of four personal days and 122 sick days and a $500 payment if he does not use the sick days. Thomas is also not allowed to bank those days said solicitor Matthew Hovey.

    Also, Thomas will per permitted to work "special details," like drug task force and DUI patrols for a rate of $46 per hour. He will also be allowed to participate in the delayed retirement program known as DROP for four years instead of the current three.

    What Hovey could tell me is that both Drumheller and Thomas work on a two-year-renewal cycle for their contracts.
    Police Capt. Robert Thomas

    In that case, according to reporting I did in 2015, I can guess that Drumheller received a $4,176 raise over last year, given that the 2015 raise was awarded at the last meeting of the year by the outgoing borough council.

    That's a raise of 4.05 percent for 2017, above the 3.25 percent raise Drumheller's officers will receive this year as a result of the three-year contract approved in February by borough council.

    As for Thomas, he is receiving a $3,326 raise from the last reported salary to this one. That's a raise of 3.6 percent, also more than the officers in the police union.

    Council also voted on a number of items, with little discussion. You can find them reported in the Tweets below.

    In fact the item which generated the most discussion was an item council ended up tabling, a request by Allied Psychiatry and Psychology Services to rent 20 parking spaces in the Park and  Shop lot at the corner of High and Charlotte streets.

    The reduced rate would be $20 per space each month. Sheila Dugan, executive director of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, asked council for a delay because the PDIDA board has not had enough time to get input from other area merchants on the impact of losing those spaces.

    Here are the Tweets:

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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Pottsgrove High School senior Sarah Pennington with her service dog Daisy at Tuesday night's Pottsgrove School Board meeting.


    Some important things happened at the Pottsgrove School Board meeting last night.

    The board voted unanimously and enthusiastically to spend more than $700,000 on a new curriculum.

    The facilities committee which met before the full board did and reviewed a study calling for $3.3 million worth of repairs needed at Pottsgrove Middle School, including a new roof.

    There was a presentation about what the middle school is doing to prevent suicide, addiction and other behavior problems that seem to afflict people at a younger and younger age these days.

    There was even discussion about the more than 9 percent increase in funding being sought for the Western Montgomery Career and Technical Center.

    But mostly, I just want to tell you about Sarah Pennington and her service dog Daisy.

    Some of you may remember the name from this story I wrote about the Pottsgrove senior in January, when she bravely presented a program to her peers about mental illness and talked about her disease -- trichotillomania, the compulsive pulling out of hair -- and her struggles with it and the accompanying mental strains.

    Tuesday night, she introduced the school board to Daisy, her service dog which now accompanies her to school and will be accompanying her to college.

    A rescue from Georgia, Sarah trained her through a program called "What a Good Dog," which certified Daisy a few weeks ago.

    "Since I got Daisy, I got my driver's license, a car and a job," said Sarah.

    She also got something else. A full scholarship to McDaniel College in Maryland.

    "I was among about 20 students interviewed for their academics and I was in Canada and I got a call that I was one of four to get a full scholarship," said Sarah. "I think it had a lot to do with all my volunteer activity."

    That was no doubt a factor. So congratulations to a young woman who has overcome, and continues to overcome, some daunting obstacles.

    You can read about the rest of it in the Tweets below.


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    Volunteers head out for Rock the Block activities in Pottstown last year.








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County.

    Twelve community organizations will join forces for a second year in a row with Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County and Pottstown CARES to beautify the borough of Pottstown. 

    A Hill School student Anya Gupta mans the
    Pottstown CARES  
    table during last year's
    Rock the Block event.
    Rock the Block on April 22 will bring together more than 150 volunteers who will pitch in to clean, paint, repair and improve a neighborhood, in conjunction with Pottstown CARES community cleanup day, a partnership of The Hill School, the Borough, the Pottstown School District, Montgomery County Community College, Tri-County Chamber of Commerce and Lowes.

    In addition to the Pottstown CARES organizations, Rock the Block enlists volunteers from Genesis Housing Corporation, Matt Green at Glocker and Company Realtors, Mosaic Community Land Trust, Phillies Fire Company, Pottstown Fire Department and Victory Christian Life Center.

    From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m, volunteer teams will complete deck and stair repairs, landscaping, spruce up efforts and more on the 300, 400 and 500 blocks of Beech, Cherry and Walnut Streets. 

    They will begin work on 629 Walnut St., a new Habitat house in Pottstown. All the while, they will be building community pride.

    “Rock the Block shows the power of people coming together in just one day,” said Marianne Lynch, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County. 

    Marianne Lynch, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of
    Montgomery County at a Rock the Block house on Walnut Street
    during last year's clean-up.
    “Look deeper, and you see the incredible spirit in Pottstown, and the passion residents and officials have for making it the best it can be. We are in year two of a holistic neighborhood revitalization plan and the community couldn’t be more excited and supportive,” she said.

    The revitalization plan is being created by a coalition of residents, borough officials and non-profit organizations and is looking at workforce development, resident leadership, housing and quality of life issues such as arts and culture. 

    In addition, Habitat Montco is partnering with the Pottstown School District to give students in construction classes hands-on experience at 629 Walnut St., and is planning to recruit for its AmeriCorps jobs from Pottstown.
    Pottstown High School student Raekwon Artley 
    joins Hill students Lyndsey Williams, Bridget Mayza and 
    Ryan Wallace in a demolition job at 430 Walnut St. 
    during the Rock the Block clean-up event on Friday, April 15, 2016.


    In addition to volunteering for Habitat Montco projects, Pottstown CARES participants will be
    working in the MOSAIC community gardens on Walnut Street and Chestnut Street. They will be cleaning up litter in various Pottstown “pocket parks” and along Armand Hammer Boulevard. as well as planting trees. 

    In addition, the Pottstown Community Arts group is going to be out cleaning up the lot on the southeast corner of King and Manatawny streets where a new Welcome to Pottstown sign will be painted.

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    The Coventry Singers

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Coventry Singers.

    The Coventry Singers present their spring concert “We the People,” a concert
    celebrating and honoring America. 

    After a particularly divisive election season, an inspirational concert about the goodness of this great country and the aspiration of peace in our world seems particularly appropriate. 

     The selection of music promises goose bumps and teary eyes.

    Selections include patriotic music such as "America the Beautiful" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic," traditional American folk songs including "Shenandoah" and "Every Night When The Sun Goes Down," and gospel and hymn tunes including "We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace" and "Simple Gifts."

    The Coventry Singers, a choir of about 40 voices, is entering its 45th year providing beautiful music to the Pottstown area. 

    They have performed with Reading Choral Society and the Pottstown Symphony. 

    Director Hannah Knauss, a music teacher at Interboro School District, was named the 2017 PMEA Outstanding Young Music Educator. 

     Nadine Lydic is piano accompanist.

    For the first time, the choir will be performing at the newly restored State Theater in Boyertown which seems fitting for a concert celebrating Americana.

    Performances take place Saturday April 22nd at 7 p.m. at The Boyertown State Theater, 61 N. Reading Ave, Boyertown, and Sunday April 23rd at 3 p.m. at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road, North Coventry. 

    The concerts are free and open to the public. 

    A freewill offering will be accepted. For more information about the Coventry Singers, visit their website www.coventrysingers.org or find them on Facebook at Coventry Singers-Pottstown, Pa.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by YWCA Tri-County Area

    Lace up your sneakers for the inaugural Race Against Racism, a 5K color run and walk to raise awareness and support for racial justice programming and events by the YWCA Tri-County Area, on Saturday, April 22, at Riverfront Park in Pottstown.

    Early bird registration for this fun-filled event has been extended through April 21. 

    Registration fees are: $15 for students K-12, $30 for adults, and $60 for families (up to five people from the same household).

    Discounts for groups of five or more are: $25 per person for adults, and $12 per person for students K-12.

    Registration is available online at https://yw3carunagainstracism.eventbrite.com.

    All participants will receive a T-shirt, sunglasses, a color packet, and finisher’s
    medal.

    Registration the morning of the race will be $15 for students, $35 for adults and $70 for families.

    Runners begin the paved, mostly flat 5K (3.1 miles) course at 8:30 a.m.; walkers begin at 9 a.m.

    Packet pickup begins at 7:30 a.m. at Pottstown’s Riverfront Park Trailhead, adjacent to Schuylkill River Heritage Area offices, 140 College Drive, Pottstown.

    Race Against Racism is a family-friendly event with a fun color-powder twist that celebrates health, happiness, and inclusion. 

    The event is held as a part of YWCA USA’s national Stand Against Racism, a signature campaign to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities.
    YWCA Tri-County Area (YW3CA) is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. 

    YW3CA is a leader in women and girls’ advocacy, and works to eliminate racism and empower women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, youth development, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.

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    Katie McCoy-Swinehart and Daughters of the American Revolution Regent Kristine Parkes








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District

    Pottstown High School Senior,Katie McCoy-Swinehart has been recognized by the local chapter of the Daughters Of The American Revolution as their Good Citizen Of The Year.

    She is a member of the track and cross country teams. 

    Katie is also a representative to student government and a member of the National Honor Society. S

    High School Guidance Counselor Amanda Scholwinski described her as a kind young lady who is extremely reliable and dependable and has strong family ties and values. 

    DAR Regent, Kristine Parkes said "It is reassuring to know that we have young people of high character like Katie to take their place as our future leaders". 

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    An ordinance under discussion since last October that penalizes animal owners for losing control of their animals was adopted unanimously by the township commissioners Monday night.

    The specifics of the ordinance, which was advertised previously, were unavailable Monday night other than the responses offered by Commissioner France Krazalkovich in responding to objections by resident Erin Dickey.

    Dickey, who has previously been cited by the township for problems with barking dogs, said she has chickens and roosters and worries the ordinance will restrict her ability to raise chickens.

    Krazalkoich responded that the ordinance does not limit the number of animals they may have, or require they be kept penned on private property, merely that their presence not disturb others.

    We'll have more on this in The Mercury once I get my hands on a copy of the ordinance, which Township Manager Carol Lewis promised to e-mail to me.

    In the meantime, here are the Tweets.


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    The Pottstown Borough Authority board put off discussion of a possible mid-year hike in water rates Tuesday night.

    When the 2017 $6.56 million water and $9.39 million sewer budgets were adopted by the authority last October, they were adopted with the understanding that a mid-year rate hike would come in July.

    At the time, hikes of 10 percent for water and 7 percent for sewer rates were expected to work out to an 8 percent hike for the average customer.

    If enacted in full, the average quarterly water/sewer bill, for 7,500 gallons of water used, would increase from $165 to $178, Utilities Administrator Robert Plenderleith predicted last year.

    But Plenderleith was not at Tuesday's meeting and although the matter was listed on the agenda, it was removed for discussion once the meeting began.

    What the authority board did decide was to award a bid for new security measures at both the water and sewer treatment plans for $920,000 to the Silas Bolef company of Norristown.

    The bid, which was the lowest, was 5 percent higher than estimates.

    The company will install electronic gates that must be opened with a key card, as well as cameras and new communications wiring for new phone systems at both plants.

    The access cards will allow for septic companies to unload their trucks at the plant 24 hours a day, which means more revenue for the wastewater treatment plan operation, said engineer Tom Weld.

    In other significant news, the authority also made a final recommendation to borough council to update the plumbing requirements in the borough to more closely reflect the modern standards used in surrounding townships.

    Championed by Authority Vice Chairman Aram Ecker, the changes are meant to make Pottstown "more business friendly," said member David Renn.

    For other items from the meeting, enjoy the cornucopia of Tweets below.


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    If you blinked during last night's West Pottsgrove Commissioners meeting, you might have missed it.

    However, one message came through loud and clear.

    The commissioners definitely want to get more community involvement in -- what else? -- Community Day.

    The proposed date for the event is Oct. 14, or Oct. 15, depending on when the community band is available.

    The place is the park at the township building.

    Now what it needs is the people, the ideas and the will to make it happen.

    If that sounds like something you would like to be part of, the next Community Day Committee meeting is May 2 at 7 p.m. at the township building.

    Subsequent meetings are June 6, June 20, July 18, Aug. 8, Aug. 22 and Sept. 12.

    If you would like to get involved or would like more information, call Township Manager Craig Lloyd at. 610-323-7717

    And here are the Tweets, such as they are.

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    David Kraybill
    The Montgomery County Commissioners recently appointed Dr. Raj Guttha of Lansdale and David W. Kraybill of Pottstown to the Montgomery County Community College Board of Trustees.

    “On behalf of the College, I welcome these talented leaders to the Board of Trustees,” said MCCC President Dr. Kevin Pollock. “Dr. Guttha and Mr. Kraybill bring strong expertise and experience in their fields which will strengthen the College and help us achieve new levels of success for our students.”

    Guttha, a senior risk, compliance, finance, information technology and change management executive, is managing partner of Guttha Global Consulting Group of New York, N.Y. He has proven success in establishing global enterprise risk, governance, compliance and internal audit functions in financial services companies.

    He has held senior level positions at several companies including Z&A InfoTek, Inc. in Parsippany, N.J.; General Electric Capital Corporation in Norwalk and Danbury, Conn.; McGraw-Hill Financial in New York, N.Y.; Citibank in New York, N.Y.; and J.P. Morgan Asset Management in Columbus, Ohio, among others.

    Guttha also served as an associate professor of Finance at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, and as an assistant professor of Finance at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. He holds a doctorate in Economics/Econometrics from Nagaruna University in India, a master’s degree in Econometrics and Finance from Temple University, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Mathematics from Nagaruna University.  

    Kraybill is president of the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation which seeks to encourage children and families to adopt healthy habits through health promotion and education. In his 13 years as president, he has focused the Foundation on four areas including nutrition and physical activity in schools; access to primary and behavioral health care services; non-profit infrastructure and capacity building; and recreation and community economic development.

    Prior to joining the Foundation, Kraybill served as director of development for The Commonwealth College of Pennsylvania State University, interim director of University Development for Pennsylvania State University, and president and executive director of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

    He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, a certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Indiana and a certificate from the Penn State Management Institute.

    Guttha’s appointment to the Board of Trustees runs through December 2018, and Kraybill’s appointment is through December 2020.

    For more than 50 years, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as customized workforce training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, at the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, and online through a robust Virtual Campus. 

    As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, the institution is positioned at the vanguard of national efforts to increase completion, improve learning outcomes, and remove barriers to access for students. The College is also recognized regionally and nationally for its sustainability leadership, work with military veterans, community service and service learning opportunities, and use of classroom technology. 

    For more information, visit http://www.mc3.edu. 

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    A photograph of a Pottstown soldier who was killed in the Pacific during World War II is being sought by a foundation trying to identify remains.

    Carl M. Shaffer was born pon Feb. 21, 1921 in Pottstown to Herbert Donnell Shaffer and Katherine K. Shaffer, according to the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation, which is seeking a photograph of him as part of its Tarawa Unknowns project.

    The foundation says Shaffer was killed in the battle of Tarawa but whose remains were never recovered or identified.

    He is currently an MIA from that action. One of the foundation’s missions is to help find, recover, and identify missing American servicemen and women from World War II and return them home to their families.

    Shaffer married Helen E. Fox, also of Pottstown, and both attended Pottstown High School. Carl joined the U.S. Army Air Corps prior to September 1942 and was promoted to Staff Sergeant. 

    He was killed on Jan. 21, 1944.

    At the present time, the foundation's investigators and researchers are in need of a facial photograph of Staff Sgt. Shaffer to utilize a new computerized program which compares the cranial images of remains recovered on the battlefield with a pre-mortem facial photograph of a most likely match.

    The foundation has found many references to Staff Sergeant Shaffer in the on-line versions of your local newspaper but no photographs. There is even a reference in a 1959 edition of your paper to something known as “Pottstown Portraits” which the article stated included a photo of Staff Sergeant Shaffer. Unfortunately, no photo can be found attendant to the article.

    Any photograph of Shaffer would be helpful.

    Do you know him? Do you have a photo?

    You can contact the foundation through their web site -- https://chiefrickstone.com or contact John Armato at the Pottstown School District at 484-256-7491.


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    The High Street Music Company has occupied this space at 135 High St. in Pottstown for 10 years now.


    Yesterday Pottstown's own High Street Music Company held its Spring Recital at The Hill School's Center for the Arts, as it has for the past several years.

    It will be the last time my son Dylan and his fellow seniors perform there as they are headed off to college next fall.

    There were more than 30 performances so forgive me if I limited the videos I shot to those involving my son or classmates of his whom I have have known for years.

    One of the things I have always liked about the recital is it features students at all stages of accomplishment and those students range in age from the single digits to adults making good on a promise they made to themselves.

    It is also a good example of one of the things that makes Pottstown such a special community.

    The school takes students from all over, but many of the Pottstown students who attend do so with the help of the Phoebe Sine Trust, a source of funding left by a Pottstown family who loved music and helps to pay the cost of the lessons Pottstown children take there.

    (Here is Pottstown student Julianna Roseo giving an awesome performance of a song from "Hamilton" yesterday.)



    Frankly, we could not have afford the saxophone lessons without the help of the trust.

    And as a result, of the trust, High Street Music and the excellent music program in Pottstown's public school system, our son lives for music (even when taskmaster and company CEO Louis Rieger pushes them harder than they are used to being pushed).

    (Here is Rieger directing them on the Eddie Harris piece "Cold Duck Time.")



    Dylan plays in the Jazz Band and in the pit during the high school's last two musicals and is now enamored of "Hamilton," which combines his love of American history with his unanticipated love for musical theater.

    A few months ago, he was walking through the house whistling tunes from "Little Shop of Horrors," usually after one of the rehearsals.

    But he also loves hip-hop, jazz and (with a little help from his aged parents), some rock and roll as well.

    (Remarkable vocalists Adeenah Smith and Erica DeBlase joined the Jazz Ensemble for this Alicia Keys number, "If I ain't Got You.")



    At every college he has considered, among the first questions he asks about is the music program and what opportunities he will have not only to play and perform, but to get lessons and improve.

    His pal, trombonist Kyle Kratzer, has taken it one step further and is going to school with the intention of becoming a music teacher himself.

    (Pottstown student Gary Oberholtzer has a bright future as a guitarist and here demonstrates some of his range with his performance of a piece by Rob Scallon titled "For That Second.")



    And while my wife and I love music as well and played it for him as a child, I truly believe that it was this town, and the dedicated professionals and volunteers who do their work here, which most fostered this love for music, something for which we will be forever grateful.

    (The High Street Music Company Rock Ensemble performs "House of Gold" by Twenty-one Pilots at the conclusion of the company's Spring Recital.)


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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Just some of the many volunteers who make Pottstown's Walking School Bus a success were thanked by the school board during Monday night's meeting.


    As most of you no doubt know from reading your Tuesday morning Mercury, Acting Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez dropped the "acting" last night and became just Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez.

    So I won't waste your precious reading time by focusing on that. Go buy a newspaper!

    But something else that happened Monday night is also worthy of your attention.

    In case you've missed in the pages of The Mercury, Pottstown is experimenting with something called The Walking School Bus.

    The idea is adult volunteers accompany students walking to Rupert Elementary School and pick-up students along the route so they can all walk together, improving safety and getting exercise.

    The problem is 95 percent of those programs fail in the first year, as Rodriguez noted.

    But not in Pottstown. Here, the program has increased in size, as is evidenced in the photo above, which shows just a portion of the many volunteers whose names were read off Monday by wellness coordinator David Genova.

    Congrats to all.

    Also of note last night, the board voted to raise by 10 percent the fees charged for renting school facilities and to charge parking fees as well.

    The Foundation for Pottstown Education announced the final arrangements to fund a program by which teachers and other district employees would be provided with a $10,000 forgivable loan  to buy a house in the borough.

    There were a few other things of interest as well, and you can find them here among the Tweets, rife, as usual, with typos.