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Articles on this Page
- 10/16/18--21:00: _5% Water Rate Hikes...
- 10/17/18--21:00: _W. Pottsgrove Movin...
- 10/18/18--21:00: _New Students Sworn...
- 10/19/18--21:00: _Spring-Ford Lauds N...
- 10/20/18--09:04: _Sponsorship Lets Po...
- 10/20/18--09:11: _Shapiro Given Clust...
- 10/23/18--21:00: _West-Mont Holds Hom...
- 10/24/18--21:00: _Lincoln Kids Sink T...
- 10/25/18--21:00: _Pottstown Halloween...
- 10/28/18--08:03: _This is No Trick, B...
- 10/28/18--21:00: _Ursinus College Ope...
- 10/29/18--21:00: _YWCA Volunteer Help...
- 10/30/18--21:00: _West-Mont Inducts 7...
- 10/31/18--21:00: _Hill Hosts Free Con...
- 11/01/18--21:00: _Hylton Chosen to Re...
- 11/02/18--21:00: _Hill Students Help ...
- 11/03/18--21:00: _Historical Society ...
- 11/04/18--21:00: _Highlighting Pottst...
- 11/05/18--21:00: _$3 Million Self-Sto...
- 11/07/18--21:00: _Council Remains Mum...
- 11/08/18--21:00: _Can Phoenixville's ...
- 11/09/18--21:00: _Pottsgrove Senior E...
- 11/10/18--21:00: _Pottstown High Scho...
- 11/11/18--21:00: _New Hill Scholarshi...
- 11/12/18--21:00: _Ringing Rocks Eleme...
- 10/16/18--21:00: 5% Water Rate Hikes Coming for Next Three Years
- 10/17/18--21:00: W. Pottsgrove Moving on Murgia Park Improvements
- 10/18/18--21:00: New Students Sworn On to Pottstown School Board
- Accepted the resignation of Assistant Pottstown Middle School Ryan Regensburg and hired his replacement, Kimberly Boswell at a salary of $82,871 per year.
- Hired a new supervisor of buildings and grounds, replacing Bob Krippelebauer. That person is John Connor III, who will be paid $85,000 per year.
- Also resigning are Barth Elementary teacher Amy Skarbek and Pottstown Middle School teacher Stephen Allen, who was one of my son's favorite teachers.
- Also hired were Emma Spaide, a Pottstown High School teacher, at a salary of $45,000 and Lindsay Hogan, who will work at Rupert Elementary and be paid $49,000 a year.
- 10/20/18--09:11: Shapiro Given Cluster Community Award at Gala
- 10/23/18--21:00: West-Mont Holds Homecoming and Silent Auction
- 10/24/18--21:00: Lincoln Kids Sink Their Teeth Into Dental Health
- 10/25/18--21:00: Pottstown Halloween Parade Costume Winners
- 1st – Tammy Campli - Sponge Bob Square Pants theme
- 2nd – Jackson Mitz-Rossi – Police and Prisoner theme
- 3rd – Carol Lutz – Spice Girls theme
- 1st – Kristen Giunta – ET
- 2nd – Jaime Williamson – Little Mermaid
- 3rd – Avery Groff – Little Fairy
- 1st – Makinley Lauffer – Chucky
- 2nd – Kristin Giunta – Ice Cream Boy
- 3rd – Landon MacVaugh – Chucky
- 1st - Sophi Brannen – Cleopatra
- 2nd - Claire O’Brien – Scary Clown
- 3rd – Elliot Smith – Scary Pirate Ghost
- 1st – Sophie & Heidi – Little Old ladies
- 2nd – Dylan Guy – Eagles Player
- 3rd – Kiara Coleman – Grim Reaper
- 1st – Frontier Girls
- 2nd – Tower Health
- 3rd – Thomas Kelly Jr. Racing
- 10/28/18--08:03: This is No Trick, But it's a Treat; Erupting Pumpkins
- 10/28/18--21:00: Ursinus College Opens New $29M Science Center
- 10/29/18--21:00: YWCA Volunteer Helps Educate New Citizens
- 10/30/18--21:00: West-Mont Inducts 7 into National Honor Society
- 10/31/18--21:00: Hill Hosts Free Concert by Broadway Composer
- 11/01/18--21:00: Hylton Chosen to Replace Wilkerson on School Board
- 11/02/18--21:00: Hill Students Help Gauge Health of the Schuylkill
- 11/03/18--21:00: Historical Society Program Focuses on Firebirds
- 11/04/18--21:00: Highlighting Pottstown's Franklin Stove Connection
- 11/07/18--21:00: Council Remains Mum on Looming 12% Tax Hike
- 11/08/18--21:00: Can Phoenixville's Success Happen in Pottstown?
- 11/09/18--21:00: Pottsgrove Senior Earns Perfect WordWright Score
- 11/10/18--21:00: Pottstown High School DECA Inducts New Members
- 11/11/18--21:00: New Hill Scholarship is for Pottstown Postgraduates
- 11/12/18--21:00: Ringing Rocks Elementary Principal Earns Doctorate
Customers of the Pottstown public water system will shoulder rate increases of about 5 percent each year for the next three years according to borough officials.
For the average customer, the rate hikes will result in more than $56 in increased annual costs for the average customer by 2021
With a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Pottstown Borough Authority Board raised the 2019 quarterly base rate for borough customers by $2, from $41 to $43 for the majority of customers -- about 7,500 accounts.
That represents an increase of 4.87 percent.
Customers in the outlying Montgomery County townships on the system also will see their base rate increase by $2, from $43 to $45 per quarter.
That represents an increase of 4.65 percent and will affect just under 3,700 customers in Lower Pottsgrove, West Pottsgrove and Upper Pottsgrove.
The base rate is the fee you pay for water service no matter how much water you use. An additional usage rate is applied to the readings on water meters which measure how much water is used at a property.
Finance Director Janice Lee said the usage or consumption fee will be raised by 15 cents, an increase of 4.9 percent.
That brings the usage rate from $3.05 to $3.20 for every 748 gallons of water used.
Further, Lee and Budget Analyst Gerald Keszczyk both said the authority will impose identical increases to the water rates, both base and usage, for 2020 and 2021 as well, a motion which was adopted by the authority board at its Sept. 18 meeting.
Keszczyk said the increases will result in about $4.72 more per quarter for most customers or $18.88 more in water costs in 2019 and a total hike of $56.64 by 2021.
Over the course of the next three years, the base rate increase represents a 14.6 percent increase for the average Pottstown customer over the current rate and a 14 percent hike for water customers in the three Pottsgroves.
There will also be a 12 cent-per-gallon increase in the bulk water rate, from $3.96 per thousand gallons to $4.08 -- an increase of 3 percent -- as the result of a second authority board vote.
For the North Coventry Township's water system, which buys its water in bulk from Pottstown, that increase will not go into affect until April as the agreement between the two requires six month's notice of a rate change.
The revenues from the increased rates -- about $94,000 -- will go directly into improving the water system by bolstering the capital fund, said Authority member David Renn.
"All that money goes right back into the ground," he said Monday.
The authority’s capital budget, for both the water and sewer systems, is being used according to a regularly updated five-year plan to repair and replace aging infrastructure in a water and sewer system now roughly 100 years old.
Putting money into the capital budget ahead of projects has eliminated the need for the authority to borrow to pay for needed upgrades and repairs — ultimately a cost savings as interest does not have to be paid out on bonds, but is rather earned on the money being saved.
The authority last raised rates in May of 2017 when it increased the water usage rate by 9.7 percent, from $2.78 to $3.05 per 748 gallons; and the base rate by 17 percent, from $35 to $41 per quarter.
There is no increase in sewer rates planned for 2019.
The water rate increases are part of the $6.8 million water budget and the $1.9 million water capital budget unanimously adopted last month by the borough authority board.
The water budget, as well as the $9.3 million sewer fund; the $4.5 million sewer capital fund and the $611,000 sewer lines fund are all part and parcel of the $49 million budget proposal presented to Pottstown Borough Council earlier this month, which calls for a 12 percent property tax hike.
According to the minutes from the Sept. 18 authority meeting, the water and sewer budget includes the addition "of an in-house utilities inspector position, with a civil engineering degree, as recommended by the Financial Sustainability Oversight Committee."
And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting:
Water Rate Hikes Coming for Next 3 Years
Township Manager Craig Lloyd said the Stowe Lions Club recently planted 20 trees along the bank of the stream. The trees were provided by Montgomery County and more will be planted in the spring, he said.
The township is also pursuing a grant to help pay to put a pavilion at the park.
Regional Recreation Coordinator Michael Lane said he is nearly finished with the application and said by pairing the grant application with the park's connection to the trail planned to run along the Manatawny from Pottstown's Memorial Park and up into Upper Pottsgrove will help its chances.
Lloyd said the township crew will excavate the site and pour the concrete to cut the costs.
|Murgia Park in West Pottsgrove.|
This spring, a $168,658 improvement project was completed. The most visible feature of the improvement is a new bridge over Goose Run, which separates the two halves of the park, which lies along Manatawny Creek.
According to Lloyd, in addition to supplying and installing the bridge, the contractor extended the paved trail from the existing trail to the bridge and installed a paved landing area on the other side of the bridge and installed an ADA-compliant concrete pad for a picnic table and an ADA-compliant section of paving streamside.
The improvements also include an accessible pathway and a fishing platform.
In other news, Lloyd reported that a two-phase sewer project on School Lane, between Race and Vine streets, will get underway soon. The first phase will be mostly storm sewer and drainage, while the second phase will also add a sanitary sewer pipe element.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting, few as they are:
Gazebo Planned for Murgia Park
Photos by Evan Brandt
Angelica Calel, center was sworn in Thursday as the junior class member of the Pottstown School Board, as were alternates Logan Ruyak, left, and Andrew Green, right.
Despite the fact that the Pottstown School Board only holds one full meeting per month, and is down member, it remains remarkably efficient, completing all its business in just one hour Thursday night.
Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez, left, congratulates alternate
student board member Logan Ruyak after being sworn in by
District Judge Scott Palladino Thursday night.
Thankfully, the board took the time to make sure the three newest student board members were all
sworn in correctly by District Judge Scott Palladino.
Time was also provided for a presentation on an environmental education program provided for sixth grade students by Natural Lands Trust and the North Bay project.
Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said the week-long trip, at no cost to the district or to parents, is nearly full with more than 220 students already signed up.
Alternate student board member Andrew Green, right,
takes the oath
while his mother, Jennifer, holds the Bible.
|Student board member Angelica Calel, right, takes the oath.|
Finally, the board authorized the re-financing of a bond taken out in 2000 to pay for renovations and expansion to Pottstown High School. The new bond is a fixed rate, instead of a variable rate bond, and will save the district $220,000 according to solicitor Stephen Kalis.
And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting.
New Board Members, But Not THOSE Board Members
Scholars and National Merit Scholarship semifinalists were recognized at the Oct. 16, Spring-Ford School Board meeting Monday night.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Spring-Ford School District.
The Spring-Ford Area School District is proud to announce that five Spring-Ford Area High School students have been recognized as National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists. Congratulations to Anya Aggarwal, Sarah E. Chiaradonna, Megan A. Englert, Kristine Luo and Caitlin McGee.
From left, Megan A. Englert, Caitlin McGee, Kristine Luo,
Sarah E. Chiaradonna and Anya Aggarwal.
“This is the largest group of commended and semifinalist that we’ve had, ever,” said Spring-Ford Area High School Principal Dr. Patrick Nugent.
“I am very proud of all of our National Merit students, particularly the five ladies recognized as Semi-Finalists, as they represent less than one percent of high school seniors,” Nugent said.
In addition, nine students were named as “Commended Students” in the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program, and one student was named as a “Scholar” in the 2018-2019 National Hispanic Recognition Program.
Congratulations to Commended Students Hiba F. Hamid, Axel Kalbach, Olivia Kuklentz, Christopher S. Lambert, Ahila S. Moorthy, Alicia J. Platchek, Megha Rajan, Ingrid E.Shu, and Jennifer D. Zajac. Congratulations to Scholar Sophia Feingold.
All students were recognized by the Spring-Ford Board of School Directors at the Oct. 16 meeting.
In early September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, are notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists.
To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis. They are the highest scoring entrants in each state.
To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must advance to finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements explained in the information provided to each semifinalist.
Photos by Emily Overdorf
Christian Morales and Jonathan Moser work the controls on a movable metal dinosaur during a recent field trip to the Reading Public Museum.
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Tompkins VST Bank.
Thanks to Tompkins VIST Bank, 280 Pottstown School District 7th graders recently visited the Reading Public Museum on Sept. 25 and Oct. 9.
The Bank is the first corporate organization to directly sponsor a chosen school district through The Museum's Feed Their Imagination grant program.
This is also the first time Pottstown School District visited The Museum.
|Angelica Shifflette looks at Egyptian pottery|
Bank staff will participated in the tours, which are timed to highlight The Museum’s annual October fundraiser for Feed Their Imagination.
“With many school districts experiencing budget cuts, field trips like those to The Museum have been eliminated, and that’s why we’re happy to support this program,” said Frank Strunk, senior vice president, Commercial Banking relationship manager.
Since the founding of The Museum in 1907, school students have always been an integral part of the
Reading Public Museum's audience.
|Duha Selmi and Miley Taylor pose with a Roman wine jar|
It offers personalized service, local decision-making and a broad range of services for consumers and businesses, including cash management services, commercial loans, and an online business loan application process.
Insurance and wealth management services are provided through the Pennsylvania offices of Tompkins Insurance and Tompkins Financial Advisors. More information available at www.vistbank.com, www.facebook.com/TompkinsVISTBank, https://www.linkedin.com/company/vist-financial-corp.
|Ahyan ONeil checks out a polar bear at the Reading Public Museum ... from a reasonably safe distance.|
Blogger;'s Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities.
The Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities (PCRC) awarded Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro its first-ever “Cluster Community Award” on Thursday, Oct. 4, at The SunnyBrook Ballroom during its annual fundraising event branded this year as “You Gotta Have Heart.”
Barbara Wilhelmy, right, executive director of the Pottstown|
Cluster of Religious Communities with Anthony Luker,
Education and Outreach Specialist with
the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.
Along with PCRC Executive Director Barbara Wilhelmy, Mr. Shapiro was honored as a recipient of a Champion of Change award, at the “Your Way Home Summit” in 2014.
The Attorney General sent a video message, as he was unable to attend the event, with personal remarks about the award and PCRC, mentioning how he “was always happy to have any opportunity to support PCRC,” and how PCRC “brings together people of all faiths, and from a wide variety of service organizations to give a helping hand to those in need.”
|Anthony Luker addresses the Cluster Gala.|
“PCRC was delighted and honored the Attorney General accepted its first ever Cluster Community Award because PCRC, like Mr. Shapiro, is working hard to protect everyday Pennsylvanians,” said Wilhelmy.
Through interfaith cooperation, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities provides tangible services, support, and spiritual guidance to address the basic needs of persons within and beyond the Greater Pottstown area, coordinating programs and referrals to help clients improve their overall stability.
|Photos by Ryan Estes|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by West-Mont Christian Academy.
West-Mont’s Homecoming and Silent Auction events on Friday, Oct. 12, were a success.
In addition to carnival games and face painting, Elementary students enjoyed a moon bounce obstacle course provided by JAMB party rentals.
Sponsors for the evening included Apex Fabrication And Design, Jiffy Lube, Sanatoga Corp, Hetrick Gardens, Mishock Physical Therapy and Associates, and Kingston Roots.
For more information about West-Mont and how to get a tour of our campus, call 610-326-7690 or visit www.west-mont.org.
|Luke Grubbs and Mason Berry practice their brushing on over-sized plastic teeth.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Students at Lincoln Elementary School did some brushing up on the rules of proper dental care recently.
|Gabby Colon and Jailyn Hoefel are getting the job done.|
Leslie Swartz's Secnd Grade class took brushing and flossing teeth to a whole new level.
During National Orthodontic Health month their gym teacher Alicen Moyer incorporated the importance of taking care of your teeth into a fun team activity.
The gym was set up with cones and mats to represent teeth and tongues. Students used a toothbrush made from a pool noodle and a jump rope for floss.
Student teams of two were given two minutes to brush the teeth and tongue and then floss the teeth afterwards.
Students enjoyed the activity and then discussed the importance of brushing their teeth. Their night time brushing should be a lot easier after this activity.
|Jahki Butler and Mason Hall use the over-sized floss to get in between the over-sized teeth.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Halloween Parade organizers.
Best costume 3 and under:
Best Costume 4 and 5 year olds:
Best Costume 6 and 7 yr olds:
Best Costume 8-12 year olds:
Photos courtesy of Pottstown SchoolsEli Krezter gets an eyeful in Tamara Gundersen's class at Franklin Elementary School.
Stan Faison and Tamara Gundersen fill the
pumpkin with vinegar.
|Ian Garber adds some baking soda to his pumpkin.|
Photo by Dan Z. Johnson
The new Innovation and Discovery Center at Ursinus College is now open.
v Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Ursinus College.
A new era for science education and undergraduate student research at Ursinus College is underway.
The college’s $29 million Innovation and Discovery Center (IDC) was dedicated on Saturday, Oct. 27 during a special public event celebrating the new interdisciplinary facility which, for the first time in the college’s history, combines science, policy and entrepreneurship under one roof.
More than 300 people, including members of the Ursinus and neighboring communities, as well as public officials and elected state leaders, gathered for the official grand opening. Joe DeSimone, CEO and co-founder of leading technology manufacturer Carbon and a 1986 graduate of Ursinus College, delivered remarks during the dedication.
“The IDC is where a lot of things are coming together, where disciplines are converging,” DeSimone said. “Solutions to some of the most complicated problems we have today involve disciplines coming together. We do that well here at Ursinus, where a broader contextual understanding—a quest—happens. That’s where the frontier is now.”
DeSimone, globally recognized for his achievements in developing and commercializing advanced technologies in several cutting-edge fields such as 3D printing, precision medicine, nanoparticle fabrication and green chemistry, discussed “the power of innovation” and related how Ursinus’s IDC is a game-changer in preparing liberal arts students for jobs in these fields.
The dedication was presided over by Rob Wonderling, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and chair of the Ursinus Board of Trustees. Remarks were also delivered by Sen. John Rafferty and Rep. Ryan Costello.
“The IDC truly is a building of the future,” Ursinus President Brock Blomberg said. “Not only does it have a contemporary look, but it fosters science learning across disciplines, something that is essential to our changing world. It is a place where students can learn traditional concepts of biology, while also thinking about ethical practice, policy and the greater good.”
The IDC leads the way in how a new generation of liberal arts undergraduates pursues scientific knowledge.
“For many years, Ursinus has been recognized as a college with an uncommon strength in the sciences amplified by its liberal arts context,” Blomberg said. “The IDC enables us to further embrace that identity—providing new equipment and facilities that advance science education from a distinctly liberal arts perspective.”
The dedication event included building tours, where Ursinus alumni discussed the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to a liberal arts education. A portrait of the late Ursinus President Bobby Fong, a passionate advocate of the liberal arts and learning across disciplines, was unveiled on the first floor of the IDC.
The IDC is supported by funds from the college’s Keep the Promise comprehensive campaign. The 42,500-square-foot facility is located on the Ursinus campus off Main Street and Ninth Avenue and physically connects to previously separate science buildings, Pfahler and Thomas halls.
One of the nation’s “Colleges that Change Lives,” Ursinus College is a residential undergraduate liberal arts college with 1,500 students that is widely recognized for its first-year Common Intellectual Experience. Founded in 1869, Ursinus provides a rigorous curriculum that re-envisions a liberal education and presents students with an inquiry-driven academic experience.
Ursinus’s $100 million Keep the Promise campaign culminates during the college’s sesquicentennial anniversary in 2019-20. The tree-lined, 170-acre campus is located 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia in Collegeville, Pa.
Gertrudis Altavista Mieses de Lucas with longtime
YWCA Tri-County Area
volunteer Janice Warnquist.
More than 18 months of studying and preparation for U.S. citizenship have paid off for Gertrudis Altavista Mieses de Lucas, a Pottstown resident and native of the Domincan Republic who moved to the United States six years ago.
Gertrudis became a U.S. citizen in September after completing a 20-page application, successfully completing a written test, and participating in an in-person interview.
“It’s no little chore to make it through this process,” said Mrs. Warnquist, who has volunteered with YW for more than 40 years.
Gertrudis joins her husband and son as U.S. citizens. “I want to thank the YWCA for giving me the support in class and in the citizenship course. I am so grateful,” she said.
YWCA Tri-County Area’s Adult Education and Training Center this fall began a weekly citizenship course for new residents who desire to become U.S. citizens.
The National Honor Society chapter at West-Mont inducted seven new members on Oct. 22.
An induction service was held to celebrate and welcome the students into the National Honor Society.
The National Honor Society is a nationwide service organization led by students.
Earning a place in the organization is based on a student’s academic achievement, leadership, service, and character.
The 2018 West-Mont inductees were Arielle Collins, Jacob Hallman, Lindsey Houck, Kara Newton, Deborah Shurtleff, Olivia Smith, and Isabelle Werkheiser.
West-Mont Christian Academy’s Head of School, Anthony Buttacy, gave a brief message about the importance of service.
The National Honor Society is glad to receive the seven new members and excited to serve the community in the 2018-2019 school year.
For more information about West-Mont call 610-326-7690 or visit www.west-mont.org.
|Jason Robert Brown|
The public is invited to a concert by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 in The Hill School’s Center For The Arts, 760 Beech St., Pottstown.
“Broadway at The Hill, Jason Robert Brown Live in Concert!” is offered free of charge through special arrangement by Chris McGriff, The Hill’s Director of the Center For The Arts and Instructor of Theater. Theater and music-lovers are warmly invited to this exciting and intimate event.
Guests will join Brown for an up-close and personal look into his career on Broadway, from his humble beginnings to his creation of Tony Award-winning hits such as “Songs for a New World” (recently staged by Hill’s student Ellis Theatre Guild), “The Last Five Years,” and Tony Award-winning “Parade” – not to mention his Tony-Award winning score for “The Bridges of Madison County,” among other triumphs.
The internationally renowned Brown will sing some of his iconic songs, as well as works from his new album, “How We React and How We Recover,” and possibly some new works in development.
McGriff, whose career as a director and producer has included work in theater in several Broadway and off-Broadway houses, has directed many singers chosen by Brown for various cabaret concerts and staged readings.
“Jason and I have a lot of mutual friends,” McGriff said regarding this unique performance event here in Pottstown. “The Broadway community is very small and tight, so we all know each other if only through others in the Broadway family; it’s always two degrees of separation.
“We’re thrilled that Jason will so generously share this musical and educational opportunity not only with Hill students and families, but with anyone from the region who wants to meet him and enjoy his amazing musical genius,” McGriff said. “This will be the opportunity of a lifetime, and well worth the trip to Pottstown!”
Former board member Thomas Hylton was chosen over a board member's husband to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Emanuel Wilkerson.
The other candidate, William Barnhill, was, like Hylton, a losing candidate on last year's ballot but, unlike Hylton, is married to board member Bonita Barnhill.
The first vote resulted in a 4-3 split in favor of Barnhill, with board member Kurt Heidel absent.
But five votes are required to appoint a new board member.
Voting for Barnhill were School Board President Amy Francis, Kim Stilwell, Bonita Barnhill and Raymond Rose.
Voting for Hylton were School Board Vice President Katina Bearden, John Armato and Susan Lawrence.
There was much discussion about how both candidates are qualified and bring different strengths to the table -- Hylton's logical thinking, deep familiarity with the district and research skills, and Barnhill's engineering background and familiarity with facilities management.
Armato and Bearden argued that Hylton's ability to bring a different perspective to the board would help it make better decisions. "We're not all here to agree," he said.
Barnhill said her husband is also very good at "looking things up" and spends a lot of time researching subjects.
All the board members said it was a difficult choice and that choosing either candidate would be acceptable.
The matter of potential nepotism or conflict of interest was also discussed.
School Board President Any Francis said the question of the legality of the couple serving together was raised during candidate interviews held Oct. 25 and it was determined legally, it is not a conflict of interest.
But resident David Miller, himself a former school board candidate, argued it is in appropriate just the same. He said Bonnie Barnhill should recuse herself from voting.
Barnhill said her husband brings a different perspective from her own and did not recuse herself from voting.
William Barnhill said if he had been successful in his run for office, there would have been no question of nepotism.
The board discussed the possibility of re-interviewing the candidates; taking a vote at the next meeting when Heidel would more likely be present; or even starting the process all over again.
Instead a second vote was taken, but also resulted in a 4-3 split, but this time favoring Hylton, with School Board President Amy Francis shifting her vote from Barnhill to Hylton.
Finally, a third vote was taken and Stilwell also shifted her vote to Hylton, giving him the five votes needed. He will be sworn in at the Nov. 15 meeting.
Hylton will serve until December 2019, and must run in the spring primary and, if successful, for a full four-year term in November 2019 if he wishes to remain on the school board for a full four-year term.
Wilkerson, who first joined the board as a senior in high school, announced his resignation in August due to his responsibilities as a student at Temple University.
Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.
Three Votes is a Charm
|Photos courtesy of the Schuylkill River Greenway.s|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Schuylkill River Greenways.
SRG Education Coordinator Sarah Crothers went out with students on Oct. 31 and tested the Schuylkill River at Towpath Park in East Coventry.
They tested for turbidity, conductivity, oxygen levels, temperature, and more.
Environmental Science students put on waders and got in the water to get samples.
Stroud Water Research Center came out and spoke to the students about elements that can be found in the river and the impact.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Historical Society
The Pottstown Historical Society’s Nov. 19 program will feature Larry Cohen speaking on the inaugural 1968 season of the Pottstown Firebirds, the minor league affiliate of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Near the top of the list of unique aspects of Pottstown’s past are the three seasons from 1968-1970 when the Pottstown Firebirds ruled small town professional football.
National visibility for the Firebirds reached a crescendo in January 1972 when the NFL Films pre-game show for the Super Bowl highlighted the Firebirds 1970 championship season.
Interest in the Pottstown Firebirds is kept alive by social media and the research of several individuals. In addition to periodic reunions of team members, the Firebirds draw attention internationally from among football aficionados and Pottstown area residents.
The program will be 7 pm, Monday, Nov. 19, at the Historical Society’s headquarters 568 E. High Street, Pottstown. Telephone: 610 970-7355.
If you would like to hear about how some of the biggest names in colonial Pennsylvania history, Benjamin Franklin and John Potts, were connected through iron, mark your calendar for Saturday, Nov. 10.
Benjamin Franklin is well known for his inventions and few are more famous than the Franklin Stove.
Additionally, visitors can take guided tours of the manor to see original iron pieces cast at Warwick and learn more about the Potts family and household through our current exhibit “Good Night at the Manor.”
This program welcomes all ages, and there is a suggested $2 donation per person for this event.
Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422 near the Carousel at Pottsgrove and Manatawny Green Miniature Golf Course, in Pottstown. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by the Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites.
For more information, call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.
Photos by Evan Brandt
A mock up of the self storage facility presented to the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners Monday night for the vacant car dealership property on East High Street in Sanatoga Village.
After a series of owners tried to make a go of it as a car dealership, a property on East High Street is now being considered for a $3 million self-storage facility.
Called Moove-In Self Storage, the company has just had a facility approved in Amity Township, owns and intends to spend $500,000 on expanding the existing self-storage on South Pleasantview Road and now wants to add the former car dealership to its holdings.
"We also have 20 other locations in Maryland and New Jersey," said developer John Gilliland of
|The basic site plan for the project. High Street is at the top.|
The investors had informally met previously with staff and Township Commissioners Chairman Bruce Foltz, "and we told them we weren't interested, that they needed to improve their plan, and they did."
Gilliland said self-storage facilities are in demand -- he said there is a waiting list at the South Pleasantview Road location -- offer tax base with low impact, no school children, little to no impact on police services and low traffic.
He said studies show the average unit renter visits twice every 13 months.
Gilliland said the units would be a neutral color and face inward, so as not to disturb residents of the town homes neighboring the rear of the property and would generate much less light pollution.
The existing office/showroom building would be gutted and converted to climate-controlled storage units, he said.
The commissioners also heard from a speaker who is considering purchasing the old Saylor farm off Pleasantview Road and using the barn as a wedding venue, but wanted to make sure the commissioners do not object before making an offer on the property.
Township Manager Ed Wagner said the property is in the R-2 zoning district, and so a use variance would be required for the business to open, but the commissioners said they have no objections.
Police Chief Michael Foltz updated the township on a computer program he has purchased for the police cruisers which shuts down the computer system in the cars when they are in motion, "to cut down on distracted driving."
In a similar vein, he asked for, and the commissioners approved, a new policy that prohibits officers texting while driving, or using a hand-held phone while driving.
And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting:
From Car Dealership to Self Storage Units
One might think that with a 12 percent tax hike looming, and a consultant trying to find ways to save money and cut such tax hikes, that budget talks on borough council would be long, deep and detailed.
One would be wrong.
One month away from making the final decisions on a $48.9 million 2019 budget that calls for an 11.97 percent tax hike; and six days away from facing a vote to advertise it as is, council did exactly nothing at its Wednesday night work session.
Borough Manager Justin Keller informed council that Montgomery County's final assessment numbers show Pottstown lost another $1 million in real estate value in 2018, pushing the deficit to $1,043,286 and the pending tax rate to 12.99.
Another factor weighing down the budget, he said, is the $1.1 million hike in pension costs revealed in September. A recent meeting with the pension board revealed that such increases will only keep coming.
It was then that Borough Council President Dan Weand offered this nugget of wisdom: "The actuary said its because health care is too good and our retirees are living longer."
That was all the comment council had on the looming tax hike.
Here are some things not shared with the public as part of the rationale for the second 12 percent tax hike in two years.
Retirees excellent health is due, in part, to an extremely generous health care package for retired police officers
According to the current contract, police retirees carry their borough health care coverage for them and their families into retirement with them, with a $100 deductible and a 20 percent co-pay.
They must exit the health care plan when they become eligible for coverage another say, say through a spouse's plan, but can return if they lose that eligibility.
Those who retired between 1999 and 2011 get the plan that was in place in 2010 and those retiring after 2011 get the plan that was in place at their retirement for themselves and their families, including children born after the officer retire, provided the spouse is the same, and the retired officers pay no premium. Coverage continues for a spouse if the retired officer dies first.
But those hired after 2013 do not get that guarantee of coverage.
Five years ago, the borough began setting aside money to pay for retiree health care. While a $1 million pension liability might seem intimidating, the borough faced a $27 million liability on 2013, when it began making an annual $250,000 contribution to try to address that liability.
Since then, the borough has paid into that fund four of the five past years, skipping 2017, according to Finance Director Janice Lee. With the 2018 payment, that fund will have $1,250,000 according to Lee.
That health care liability was one of the issues mentioned in the 141-page Early Intervention Program report issued by Management Partners in 2008 as one of the things necessary to straighten out borough finances.
The report was cited as the reason for the lay-off of 13 employees in late 2008 and the 10 percent property tax hike which accompanied it.
Here's how you can pay your water bill
starting in 2019.
More Parking Changes
|Some of the changes being recommended by the parking committee.|
Downtown Development and PDIDA
Successful Phoenixville developer Manny Demutis, at the far head of the table, speaks about his experiences there and what lessons could be applied to Pottstown, during a breakfast meeting Wednesday at Hobart's Run offices.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Hobart's Run.
About 25 Pottstown leaders from government, business, and education met over breakfast on Wednesday, to hear insights from Manny DeMutis, president-owner of The DeMutis Group, Phoenixville, a highly successful developer who has helped to lead Phoenixville’s impressive revitalization.
Joining DeMutis was Barry Cassidy, who served as director of Main Street Development Corporation in Phoenixville from 2003-2010 and a planning and development consultant. DeMutis was introduced by his friend, Charles Gulati, owner of Gatsby’s at The Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, and owner/president at Stokesay Castle and The Knight’s Pub, Reading.
DeMutis says Phoenixville’s renaissance has occurred largely because of the “selfless leadership” of developers and others who have been willing to invest in the once-struggling town and collaborate with one another.
He enthusiastically shared a number of key takeaways for the participants at this gathering.
1: While Pottstown folks are quick to compare Pottstown to Phoenixville and point to that community’s impressive reinvention and rebirth, Pottstown has more and even better assets than Phoenixville to work with.
“I love Pottstown,” DeMutis said. “You have housing stock to die for. You have a beautiful, wide main street. You have arguably the best prep school in the world, The Hill School, right in your downtown.
“Pottstown has the ability to decide what you want to be when you grow up. You need to go and ‘be’ that vision.”
2: Pottstown’s development needs to start with revisiting and reprioritizing codes enforcement issues. Much of its focus should be on strictly enforcing health, safety, and “life” related codes, particularly in residential areas near the downtown, as the main streets will then begin to “take care of themselves,” DeMutis believes.
The Borough also must be developer-friendly and cut back on nonessential red tape and fees, especially when investors want to restore and utilize buildings that are in great need of care. In addition, the Borough needs to make sure its fee schedule is not higher than it is in neighboring communities, which will make development here far less attractive and competitive.
3. Gaining the commuter train would dramatically increase property values and Pottstown’s tax base, among other benefits. DeMutis has invested heavily in planning for a pilot project that, if successful, will use some of Norfolk Southern’s freight rail tracks to link Phoenixville to the Norristown/Manayunk line.
“Ridership is not an issue,” he notes, adding, “It’s more an issue of ‘Can we afford to do this?’
“But if someone says ‘you can’t do it,’ they’re probably not right,” he declares. He emphasizes that when there is a passenger rail system within a three-mile radius of a house, the average affected homeowner sees an average increase in value of $31,000. The train would bring “instant equity,” DeMutis says.
4. Pottstown needs to aggressively promote its Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program to developers — as well as the value of our architecturally beautiful housing stock and downtown commercial buildings. LERTA is a state law that allows local tax incentives for business property improvements.
Noting that LERTA programs encourage banks to lend to developers, DeMutis told Pottstown officials they “need to get out on the road and sell your LERTA to developers.”
5. Don’t be afraid of rental properties, as that’s the trend in housing, DeMutis says. However, developers should focus on getting rentals up to market value. Redeveloped Phoenixville apartment and other rental property rates have increased – and, in fact, many of these spaces have been converted back to single family homes.
6. Create and embrace downtown festivals of all shapes and sizes – and don’t let parking and other
concerns get in the way, DeMutis asserts. Phoenixville now offers at least 13 summer festivals, “synergistic, common experiences” that bring people to the downtown and create excitement in and about the community, he says.
7. “People investing in Pottstown should invest a lot more here,” DeMutis states. “You can’t replace the value of these buildings! As a developer, you may have the opportunity to buy a building in the Pottstown downtown for $250,000; you should buy as many as you can. I’m not kidding: When Pottstown takes off – and it will happen – you will be able to sell it, if you want to, for so much more.”
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.
Four students representing Pottsgrove High School recently won high honors in the year’s WordWright Challenge, a competition for American high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.
In this year’s first meet, held in October, senior Molly Neeson was one of only 58 twelfth graders in the entire country to earn a perfect score.
The premise behind WordWright Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. The tests students must analyze for the challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Updike to poetry as old as Shakespeare’s or as recent as Margaret Atwood’s, and to essays as classic as E.B. White’s or as current as James Parker’s cultural commentary in The Atlantic.
The texts for the first WordWright meet this year were a pair of poems by Wilfred Owen and Henry Reed for 9th and 10th graders and a short story by Katherine Anne Porrwe for 11th and 12th graders.
Pottstown High School's DECA organization recently inducted 20 new members.
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Pottstown School District.
Recently, the Pottstown High School DECA organization, an association of marketing students, elected a new slate of officers and inducted 20 new members at a program held in the Pottstown High School cafeteria.
Jen Hainsey was re-elected President, serving a second year term. Other officers include Vice President David Hicks, Management Director Emily Weber, Executive Director Devyn Lopez and Competition Prep Director Angelica Calel.
DECA's officers are, from left, Emily Weber - Management Director,
Jen Hainsey - President, David Hicks - Vice President,
Angelica Calel - Competition Prep Director,
Devyn Lopez - Executive Director
Kendra Barkaski, a Pottstown High School graduate and former DECA member, made some brief remarks to the students and family members in attendance regarding the application of skills learned while a member of DECA.
Hashem and Pascal welcomed the newly inducted students and praised the efforts of the Officer Team in organizing the event.
At the conclusion of the event, all in attendance enjoyed some delicious desserts provided by PHS Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Irick and his students.
Members inducted included:
Aleen Alexander, Iyesha Belgrave, Christina Butler, Felic Chimbinja, Kennedy Cole, Nada Elgendy, Keyora Frazier, Cyenyla Hall, Abie Krause, Mackenzie Moser, Faith Nichols, Jesseny Redroven, Gabriela Reyes, Destri Roye, Jestyn Snyder, Ryan Sweeney, Jazlyn Watson, Brionna Williams, Sensair Wesley.
DECA is an international association of high school and college students. The organization’s goals are to improve education and provide opportunities for students interested in careers in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales. DECA helps students to develop skills for successful business careers providing opportunities for students to build self-esteem, experience, leadership, and practice community service.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by The Hill School.
Hobart’s Run and The Hill School are pleased to announce creation of The Hobart’s Run Scholarship Fund. This gift will provide substantial student aid to a student from the immediate Pottstown area who wishes to attend The Hill for a post-graduate year.
The Fund’s generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have stated that the ideal Hobart’s Run Scholar will demonstrate interest and participation in civic and social responsibility and/or community service and, in particular, in the mission and work of the Hobart’s Run neighborhood and Pottstown improvement initiative.
Hill’s post-graduate program is designed for candidates seeking to strengthen their academic preparation before entering college. Post-graduate participants are required to live on campus and therefore benefit from living away from home, with more freedoms and responsibilities, before joining a college community.
|The Hill School.|
The Hobart’s Run Scholar will be selected by Hill’s Admission Office in consultation with the Headmaster.
Interested candidates must submit a completed application by Jan. 31 and schedule an interview with a Hill admission officer.
“We are so grateful to the donors and excited to be able to offer this scholarship to a highly motivated, talented student from the Pottstown area,” said Thomas Eccleston IV, Hill ’87, assistant headmaster for enrollment management, who noted that substantial financial aid is given each year to local students enrolled in the third form (freshman) through sixth form (senior) years.
A 501(c)(3), Hobart's Run works with its residents and property owners to revitalize the neighborhood through projects that create a clean, safe, and inclusive community; provide incentives for home ownership and home improvements; and generate positive, sustainable commercial and retail development. While initially addressing an area of approximately 600 parcels in Pottstown (Queen Street in the south, North Adams on the west, Beech, Grant, and Jackson on the north,
and Keim Street on the east), Hobart’s Run strives to use successes in this focus area to spark and support revitalization throughout the Borough.
|Ringing Rocks Principal Lisa Jones.|
The Pottsgrove School District is pleased to announce that Lisa Jones, Principal at Ringing Rocks Elementary School, recently completed her Doctorate Program at Immaculata University.
On Nov. 7, Dr. Jones successfully defended her Dissertation entitled Teachers’ and Administrators’ Perceptions Regarding the Impact of Fostering and Developing Teacher Leadership.
Dr. Lisa Jones originally started as a teacher at Pottsgrove Middle School.