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Articles on this Page
- 01/23/18--21:00: _Boyertown Area Scho...
- 01/25/18--21:00: _Lower Pottsgrove Bo...
- 01/26/18--21:00: _Douglas, Hewitt Nam...
- 01/27/18--21:00: _Ever Wanted to Join...
- 01/28/18--21:00: _Wellness Foundation...
- 01/29/18--21:00: _Tour Pottsgrove Man...
- 01/30/18--21:00: _Pollock Park Pollut...
- 01/31/18--21:00: _Free Tax, Credit Re...
- 02/01/18--21:00: _Pottstown Musicians...
- 02/02/18--21:00: _Hopewell to Host Wo...
- 02/03/18--21:00: _Greenway Heritage a...
- 02/04/18--21:00: _Pottstown PAL Start...
- 02/05/18--21:00: _Ambulance Order Can...
- 02/06/18--21:00: _Ridge Pike Plans an...
- 02/07/18--21:00: _Committee Can't Fin...
- 02/08/18--21:00: _New Phoenixville Bo...
- 02/09/18--21:00: _Pottstown Basketbal...
- 02/11/18--21:00: _PHS Alum Urged to A...
- 02/12/18--21:00: _Pottstown Takes Exp...
- 02/13/18--21:00: _Boyertown Adopts $1...
- 02/14/18--21:00: _Nominate An Excepti...
- 02/15/18--21:00: _Pottstown Raises, T...
- 02/18/18--21:00: _No Tears, No Sweat ...
- 02/19/18--21:00: _Electronics Recycli...
- 02/20/18--21:00: _Spring-Ford Looks a...
- 01/23/18--21:00: Boyertown Area School Board Faces the Music
- 01/25/18--21:00: Lower Pottsgrove Board Keeps it Short and Sweet
- 01/26/18--21:00: Douglas, Hewitt Named Student, Staffer of the Month
- 01/27/18--21:00: Ever Wanted to Join Roller Derby? Now's the Time
- 01/28/18--21:00: Wellness Foundation Auxiliary Gives $20,000
- Camphill Village Kimberton Hills– Aging in Community Program: Camphill Village provides personalized and preventative care to aging residents with developmental disabilities and struggles with independent living.
- Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County– Mission Kids: Fostering the resilient child through family advocacy and forensic interviews. Mission Kids is a collaborative effort to stop the cycle of abuse and improve the outcomes for abused children and their families.
- Maternity Care Coalition– Pottstown Area Early Head Start and Parenting Initiative: Maternity Care Coalition strives to improve maternal and child health and well-being through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers, and communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
- Spring-Ford Counseling Services– Signs of Suicide: Spring-Ford Counseling addresses the emotional and educational needs of the surrounding communities.
- TriCounty Active Adult Center– Prime Time Health - Making healthier lives possible for older adults: TriCounty AAC is a community center for adults aged 50 and better, offering exercise classes, social and recreational programs, educational programs, a daily lunch and much more.
- Visiting Nurse Association Community Services, Inc. (VNA)– Personal Navigator Program with Expanded Legal Support: The Pottstown VNA provides home health care and hospice care in Montgomery County and nearby areas in northern Chester County.
- 01/30/18--21:00: Pollock Park Pollution Clean-Up Must Come First
- 01/31/18--21:00: Free Tax, Credit Report Help Coming to Pottstown
- 02/01/18--21:00: Pottstown Musicians Play 62nd Inter-County Band
- 02/02/18--21:00: Hopewell to Host Work on Jewish Women Writers
- 02/03/18--21:00: Greenway Heritage and Hops Tour Sold Out
- 02/04/18--21:00: Pottstown PAL Starting Girls Lacrosse Program
- 02/05/18--21:00: Ambulance Order Cancelled, Cell Tower Unopposed
- 02/06/18--21:00: Ridge Pike Plans and A Brief Gerrymandering Debate
- 02/07/18--21:00: Committee Can't Find Ways to Cut 12% Tax Hike
- 02/08/18--21:00: New Phoenixville Board Member, Phantom Tax Hike
- 02/09/18--21:00: Pottstown Basketball Team Honors Fallen Trojan
- 02/11/18--21:00: PHS Alum Urged to Aid With New Directory
- Feb. 9: mailings to Alumni begin
- Feb. 12: inbound phone lines to PCI will be open
- Aug. 10: last day to update contact information
- Dec.: final publication will be shipped
- 02/12/18--21:00: Pottstown Takes Expensive Step for Redevelopment
- 02/14/18--21:00: Nominate An Exceptional Woman You Know
- 02/15/18--21:00: Pottstown Raises, Tax Breaks and A Little Mermaid
- 02/18/18--21:00: No Tears, No Sweat But Plenty of Blood from PHS
- 02/19/18--21:00: Electronics Recycling Saturday at Hillside Acquatics
- 02/20/18--21:00: Spring-Ford Looks at Armed Guards in Each Building
Photo by Evan Brandt
Washington Elementary School music teacher Anita Boyer
outlines the performance by the senior orchestra at
Tuesday's Boyertown Area School Board Meeting.
The first and most pleasant was the performance by the Washington Elementary School senior orchestra, which played two pieces for the board.
The second, and decidedly less pleasant, were some budget numbers that put some hard choices in front of the board, including saving saving $1.8 million by cutting the very music program that had just serenaded them.
The third, and most political, were comments from three residents of the district who take issue with an email sent out by board member Clay Breece, which they believe violatesthe board procedures adopted just two weeks ago, and which, they say, is dividing the board and the community.
One of the speakers even called for Breece's resignation.
He responded with a statement, seen in the video pasted below and which did not respond to the call for his resignation, but instead doubled down on his concerns about the school district interfering with parents' oversight and notification about things like questions about gender identity and that even warned of the "collectivism" championed by Karl Marx.
You can read about it all in the Tweets below:
Because then I would have something to report.
But as a news professional, I am compelled to tell you it was a snoozer.
Of some interest is the fact that the police department received permission to donate recovered bicycles to Liberty Thrift after they have been held unclaimed for a year.
They have eight and they are taking up space.
The board also tabled action on a "memorandum of understanding" with Police Chief Michael Foltz. The board held a closed-door executive session before the meeting that included discussion of personnel, so those two things may be related, but it's too early to tell for sure.
Vice President Stephen Klotz, who handled the matter because the police chief is the son of President Bruce Foltz, said he wanted to table the matter "to make sure to get the language right.
Otherwise, here are the Tweets, what few of them there are ....
|Demitri Douglas, Student of the Month|
Congratulations to Pottstown High School Senior Demitri Douglas for being chosen as the Student of the Month.
|Mike Hewitt is Staff Member of the Month|
|The Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars are not to be trifled with.|
Have you ever wanted to be a rock star?
Have you ever wanted to skate in roller derby?
Have you ever wanted to do both?
Well Feb. 5 is your big chance.
That's when the Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars will have their first intake for new skaters of the upcoming season.
From 7 to 10 p.m. at Ringing Rocks Roller Rink in Lower Pottsgrove, the team will be holding its first practice and opening it up to those interested in joining.
"All you need to bring with you is a mouthguard," writes team Vice President Crystal Hayduk. "We have rental skates, and limited gear available to help you get started."
Participants must be at least 18 and need not have experience.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.
Several area nonprofits will benefit from fundraising efforts of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation East Auxiliary.
Mary Ellen Dice, President of the East Auxiliary, recently presented a $20,000 check to representatives of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and six of its grantees.
These funds have been distributed as part of the Foundation’s fall 2017 grant round and were awarded to the following organizations and its programs:
Uncover the evening work and routines of the Potts family and their household staff with this engaging and informative new exhibit, Good Night at the Manor.
Sunset did not mean the end of the work day in colonial America.
Pottsgrove Manor is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. Guided tours last about 45 minutes to 1 hour and the last tour of each day departs at 3pm. Tours welcome all ages. The Museum Shop is stocked with books, reproduction pieces, colonial toys and games, and tons of unique gifts so you can bring a sense of history home.
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, Pennsylvania. 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.
Photos by Evan Brandt
Once the contamination is removed from Pollock Park, the borough will try to get funding to implement this master plan for a new park.
Updating and improving Pollock Park has become complicated after an environmental study of the two-acre site found heavy metal and other chemical contamination beneath the soil.
Nevertheless, having a master plan in place will help attract funding to pay for the park once the clean-up has occurred.
The clean-up will take at least 14 to 16 months from now according to Joseph Kraycik, a consulting geoscienctist with Environmental Standards, the Valley Forge-based firm that discovered the contamination.
Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart addresses|
environmental concerns during the Pollock Park meeting.
Funding for the clean-up could come from a variety of sources, said Michael Lenhart, Pottstown's director of parks and recreation. In fact, he said, he has already gathered the paperwork for the first grant application to the federal government.
Because the park is now considered a "brownfield," a name for former industrial sites that have contamination, it may actually be easier to attract funding to pay for the park, once the clean-up is done, said Lenhart.
And they're going to need it.
Because now that the park will be taken down to soil, all the trees,m pavement and vegetation removed, the estimated price has jumped from $300,000 to $600,000.
Residents also posed questions and expressed concern about the clean-up, whether they would be exposed and whether any previous exposure might have caused long-term health problems.
There were no immediate answers.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting.
Genesis Housing and CADCOM are pleased to announce that the BB&T Bus is heading to Pottstown on Friday, Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The BB&T Bus will provide financial resources with internet access including:
1) CADCOM will provide free VITA tax prep. Taxpayers must bring all tax related documents, photo ID and social security cards. Appointments are strongly recommended.
2) BB&T Bank will provide free credit reports and information on banking - basics, checking and college savings accounts.
3) Genesis Housing will provide info on credit and budgeting classes.
Space is limited so appointments are recommended.
The BB&T Bus offers information and resources covering a variety of topics and is part of BB&T’s community program to “meet you more than half way”.
CADCOM was established as a nonprofit in 1966 as the lead Anti-Poverty Agency in Montgomery County working to coordinate strategic planning, economic development, community development and to create a partnership between public and private entities to serve the needs of county residents.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns.
Willow Grove CDC was founded in 1990 by local bankers, clergymen, attorneys and realtors to address the need for affordable housing for low-to-moderate income people in the Willow Grove area.
Since 1994, Genesis Housing Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has served Montgomery County as a community housing development organization (CHDO) and is dedicated to the development of affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and the education of consumers on housing and financial issues.
For more information about Genesis Housing Corporation and our programs, please visit our website at www.genesishousing.org, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us on Facebook or call 610-275-4357.
Back row, from left, Kishan Patel, Erynn Dunning, Jocelyn Malauulu, Gabe Roseo, Xzavier Francis Williams, Allison Horne. Front row, from left, Akira Love, Colin Dellaquila. Not pictured: Chasey Jules
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Congratulations to Pottstown Middle and High School Band members who were selected to preform in the 62nd Annual Inter-County Band Concert at Phoenixville Area Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 27.
This ensemble is an all star team compromised of select 7th, 8th and 9th grade band students from 11 local school districts.
On Sunday, Feb. 11, in time for Valentine’s Day, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace will host a presentation of "Ruth's Daughters," a new work by playwright Christine Emmert.
Emmert, whose play “From Out the Fiery Furnace” has captivated audiences in the Delaware River Valley for more than ten years, offers this new work which promises to take the audience on a dip into the rich mix of female Jewish writers.
Actress, playwright, and director Christine Emmert lives in Valley Forge.Her interest in women's issues has influenced her artistic work.
Established in 1994, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace is the official non-profit fundraising arm of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. A 501(c)3 citizen organization, its mission is to support the preservation, maintenance and programs of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Donations to the Friends may be tax deductible according to the rules set by the Internal Revenue Service.
While at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site visitors are encouraged to go into the village, tour the buildings, see Hopewell's water wheel and learn about iron making and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday thru Sunday, the park is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off Route 345. For more information visit www.friendsofhopewellfurn.org.
The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area has introduced a new brewery tour that will pair beer tastings with lessons on history and the environment.
The unique Heritage and Hops Brew Tour being offered on Saturday Feb. 24 will take 45 participants to four local breweries located within the Schuylkill River Watershed from Phoenixville to Reading.
Each brewery, in addition to offering tastings of beers produced on site, will provide a presentation about its connection to the Schuylkill River, Schuylkill River Trail or regional history.
The Heritage and Hops Brew Tour has proven to be overwhelmingly popular. Past events sold out one week after ticket sales opened. Cost of the tour is $55 per person.
The tour will begin at Oakbrook Brewing, in Reading, where the presentation will focus on its historic firehouse location.
The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA is introducing the Heritage and Hops Brew Tour to draw attention to some of the unique breweries in the area, while simultaneously promoting regional history and underscoring the value of clean water.
“You can’t make great beer without clean water,” said Schuylkill River Greenways NHA Executive Director Elaine Schaefer. “We know the people who will take this tour all enjoy local beer. But they may not consider how integrally beer making is connected to protecting and preserving the Schuylkill River, which is a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.”
The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA, located in Pottstown, is dedicated to connecting people and communities to the Schuylkill River, and to encouraging people to value the region’s history and protect the environment. The organization is best known for its role in working with partners to build and improve the Schuylkill River Trail.
Building the trail and protecting the river both have economic development and community revitalization benefits that are related to the rise of breweries throughout the Schuylkill River region.
“Breweries benefit from the presence of the Schuylkill River Trail, just as they benefit from clean water,” said Schaefer. “Sly Fox Brewery created SRT Ale because they recognized that beer and recreation often go hand in hand.”
Schaefer said she is excited about the popularity of the tour. But she hopes the message about the importance of history and conservation resonates far beyond the tour itself.
“Beer and breweries are a valuable and fun piece of our regional culture. We want people to recognize the role the river and the Schuylkill River Trail play in building that culture,” she said.
The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA mission is to connect residents, visitors and communities to the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement and economic development in order to foster stewardship of the watershed and its heritage.
The Pottstown Police Athletic League is starting a new girls lacrosse program for players in fifth through eighth grade.
Players will "learn and develop the fundamentals of lacrosse and play against area teams."
Practice and home games will be at the PAL Sports Complex at 1455 Chestnut Grove Road, which is near the Route 100 and North State Street interchange.
Away games could be played in Boyertown, Phoenixville, Methacton, Upper Perk, Perk Valley and in the Coventries.
PAL is part of the Philadelphia Area Girls Lacrosse Association's Tri-County Division, (Visit for more information.)
Practices begin in March and games will extend through May.
Registration is now open at www.pottstownpal.org and the $100 registration fee includes membership with PAGLA, insurance, use of practice and game pinnys and team socks.
The team will be led by Shelby Iezzi, who played at Owen J. Roberts High School and Bloomsberg University and has coached Pope John Paul II and Dynamite Lacrosse since 2012.
Contact her at email@example.com with questions or concerns.
Upper Providence Township Supervisors took two votes Monday night undoing actions taken by the previous board.
The first was to rescind instruction given by the previous board to oppose at a zoning hearing an application by a company with Verizon as its client to build a "stealth" cell tower at 248 Rittenhouse Road, near Pope John Paul II High School.
Newly installed Board president John Pearson said he was inclined to let the zoning board "do its job" without having the township solicitor there objecting.
There was no shortage of residents opposed to the project objecting at last night's meeting. Supervisor Al Vagnozzi voted to continue the township's objections with the zoning board, but Pearson was joined by supervisors Helen Calci and Laurie Higgins in letting the matter be decided without township input.
The second vote stirred more passion when the board voted unanimously to cancel an order for a new ambulance and take 60 days to come up with a broader plan for emergency medical services.
It grows out of concern that response times in the township, generally under 10 minutes, are still too long and that an ambulance needs to be stationed in the township to improve them.
Although Vagnozzi voted with the majority, he was the one defending the previous vote to buy the ambulance saying that it had been discussed for years and it was a way to defray costs for one of the two companies now providing service, Trappe and Friendship.
But Pearson and Higgins, who interrupted Vagnozzi several times as he tried to speak, described the action as haphazard.
Vagnozzi ultimately agreed that the new board members should be given more time and suggested a committee of himself and Calci work with the administration to come up with a plan.
But despite the general agreement, some bickering continued with Pearson saying "you can threaten me all you want" after resident Michael Fil said if anyone died because of a delayed ambulance during the 60-day delay on which the supervisors agreed that would "bring it back to this board."
And, when resident Kevin Holohan began a lengthy response to Pearson's evidently rhetorical question about previous board action, Pearson turned to Vagnozzi and said "Al, do you want to call your dog off?"
Holohan told Pearson to "enjoy your time back on the board while you still can."
The board also approved final site plans for a new Starbucks on Egypt Road.
You can read all about it below in the live Tweets and video from the meeting.
|The property surrounded by the red line is proposed for redevelopment.|
A series of issues before the Limerick Township Supervisors Tuesday night gave a glimpse of what's in store.
The more visible of the two changes are plans to build two retail commercial properties and 19 single family attached homes on a combined 5.5 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection of Ridge Pike and Fruitville Road.
Its a site that has served as several unsuccessful bars and restaurants.
This plan shows two commercial buildings along Ridge Pike,
and the housing units in the rear.
Both the commercial buildings and the town homes would comply with the zoning ordinances architectural design standards, the developers testified.
And a traffic study concluded the re-development would have no adverse impact on the intersection or surrounding roads.
The supervisors took the testimony under advisement and will render a decision within 35 days.
The other change coming is across the street and is, for the most part, invisible.
It turns out part of the property used by Triad Truck Equipment Co., on the southwest corner of Ridge Pike and Airport Road, is actually owned by the adjacent Pottstown-Limerick Airport and has been rented for years. The airport now wants to sell the property and Triad wants to merge the two parcels into one.
What was debated Tuesday was whether that should trigger the Main Street zoning streetscaping and landscaping requirements as will be undertaken at the other project across the street.
But over the strenuous objections of Supervisor Thomas Neafcy, the three remaining board members (Chairperson Elaine DeWan was absent) said it would be silly, since the truck company could buy the property, not merge the parcels, and would be required to do nothing.
"Time and time again, this board has had an opportunity to do the Main Street streetscaping and this board waives it. I don't understand it," lamented Neafcy.
The long wait to see how a special council ad hoc committee would be able to lower this year's 12 percent tax hike came to and end last night.
The short answer is, they can't.
In a letter to council (which was mysteriously missing from the links of other documents on the agenda), the seven members of committee said none of the options they explored could be implemented in time to affect this year's budget.
Sadly, this was not a check to solve the borough's fiscal woes, but a
$1,900 check from the Pottstown Rotary Club to help with upkeep
and repairs to the war memorials in Memorial Park.
They also noted that the borough has been notified that its bond rating may be downgraded "if finances don't immediately improve."
The group will continue to meet and any savings resulting from short-term suggestions should be directed to the general fund reserves -- the same reserves council raided for the past three years to keep taxes down.
Reserves are also needed, they wrote "to re-establish contributions to the capital fund deficit of approximately $1 million."
Short-term suggestions include more closely assessing the services provided by an employee and adjusting the fee schedule to better recoup costs; as well as cease the Wednesday night late hours from 4 to 7 p.m. in order to save on over time and heating and lighting costs.
As these things are going on, the borough will also be benefiting from a consultant paid for by the state's Early Intervention Program, who will be tasked with finding ways to further streamline and bolster the borough's finances.
Other suggestions include moving to a "cashless" system for paying utility bills and taxes which will ultimately allow for the elimination of one of the window positions.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting:
|Photos by Evan Brandt|
Meet David Goldberg, the newest member of the Phoenixville Area School Board.
Seven people applied to replace Mike Ellis on the Phoenixville School Board, but after two withdrew, the board chose one from among five remaining applicants.
The school board conducted public interviews with all five -- Troy Johnson Jr., Maureen Ahearn, David Goldberg, Sandra Tucker and Ayisha Sereni -- each individually, according to School Board President Lisa Longo.
The board re-convened and all but Tucker were the subject of a vote, as her nomination did not receive a second.
David Goldberg takes the oath of office as Phoenixville's newest
school board member,
Goldberg, 45, is a Schuylkill Township resident and assistant professor of criminal justice at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Del.
He said concern about his children's homework load brought him to his first board meeting and remains a concern of his.
(When that subject was raised Thursday night, Superintendent Alan Fegley convinced the board to let the staff "have first crack at it," rather than have it discussed in the policy committee. Board member Kevin Pattinson said he did not think setting a specific policy was a good idea as "it puts the board in the classroom.")
Goldberg said his other issues of interest are the discussions of later start times and budget and taxes.
He said a friend pointed the vacancy out to him and he applied. "If you had told me three weeks ago that I was about to be a school board member, I would have laughed at you," he said.
He will service until the expiration of Ellis' term, December of 2019. Goldberg said he has "absolutely no idea" if he will seek a full four-year term at that time.
The school board also adopted a preliminary $94 million budget for the 2018-2019 school year which finance committee chairman Eric Daugherty took great pains to say "will not be the final budget we adopt in June."
Nonetheless, the budget passed with all but Goldberg's vote (he abstained), would raise the millage by 4 percent to 32 mills, using "exceptions" for school construction and special education to exceed the state-imposed tax cap of 2.4 percent.
Even with the $875,000 generated by those exceptions, the preliminary budget has a $3.2 million deficit which would, under current circumstances, have to be made up with reserves.
Longo said the district's successful challenge of the tax exempt status of Tower Health, which has been appealed in Chester County courts, makes is "likely" that at least this year, Phoenixville Hospital will be paying its tax bill of $950,000.
However, she said, the budget adopted last night is conservative in the sense that does not include that revenue.
The board's last act was to vote unanimously (Goldberg abstained) to adopt a resolution opposing Pennsylvania State Senate Bill 2, which, board member Blake Emmanuel explained, "opens the door" to vouchers and could impact Phoenixville, even though it is not an "under-performing school district."
Here are the Tweets from the meeting.
|The Pottstown High School Basketball Team, shown hear wearing special T-shirts with his name, honored the memory of Shamir Edwards at their final game of the season.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
The Pottstown Boys Basketball Team honored Fallen Trojan Shamir Edwards before their last home game recently.
Shamir was a student at the high school from 2012 to 2016, he received his diploma in June of 2016
His family, friends, teachers, teammates and his school have mourned his passing.
|Shamir's family was on-hand for the ceremony, indicating his number, 11, with their fingers.|
|About time for a new one don't you think?|
The Foundation for Pottstown Education is currently working with Publishing Concepts Inc (PCI) on updating the Alumni Directory that was last published in 2009.
The Foundation would like to encourage all alumni to respond to the mailings.
If you are a Pottstown High School alumni,
look for this notice in your mailbox
The timeline for this process is as follows:
Pottstown Plating is located at the intersection of Industrial Highway
and South Washington St.
When an industrial company goes under, it means it has no money to pay employees, or for anything else -- particularly an expensive environmental clean-up.
So it's little surprise that when Pottstown Plating finally went belly up more than 10 years ago, it not only wasn't paying its taxes, or its water and sewer bills, there's no way it was paying to clean up the mess decades of plating operations had left behind at the South Washington Street facility.
As the unpaid taxes and fees build up, the potential for someone to come along and take on not only the liability for the environmental clean-up, but also the financial liability of the ever-escalating fees and taxes, dwindles.
Usually, to unlock this Gordian Knot, something has to give. Monday night, borough council indicated its willingness to not so much give, as forgive.
Even though Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller would not reveal the identity of the developer who is interested, brought through PAID Executive Editor Peggy Lee-Clark, council willingly voted unanimously to forgive more than $225,000 worth of unpaid taxes and water/sewer bills.
That's because they know that it may be the only way that property starts generating tax revenue again, and without that forgiveness, the numbers of uncollected taxes, funds and fines will keep growing with little hope of ever collecting it -- little more than numbers on a page.
The money is already written off, and so is not revenue expected for this year's budget. The mystery developers will still need to convince the school board to forgive another $308,000 that the property owes the school district to move forward.
Keller said that will be on Thursday's school board meeting agenda.
Before the forgiveness becomes final, the developers must present -- and council must approve -- a business plan for the property
Keller, noting that the developer has plans to invest $2 million into the property to get it back onto the tax rolls, said "quite frankly we're lucky to have a developer take on these risks and expenses,"
The Boyertown Area School Board voted 8-1 Tuesday night to adopt a $115 million preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year that would raise taxes by 5.44 percent.
Even tax hawks Clay Breece, Robert Caso and Ruth Dierolf voted for the plan convinced, evidently by Interim Superintendent David Krem's argument that not adopting the plan would limit flixibility later on.
Board member Christine Neiman cast the only dissenting vote.
"I want to keep all programs, but comes a time in life when something's got to give," she said. "We have to stop spending unnecessarily on stuff, be more fiscally responsible to community."
Breece, Dierolf and Caso had also all indicated their opposition to the plan until Krem spoke.
"Even if you decide to close a school, the state procedure takes 24 months. It would not affect the coming budget," said Krem, arguing for the necessity of the "flexibility" applying for exceptions gives.
Boyertown has adopted that resolution in recent years, but a motion to do so two weeks ago failed on a 5-4 vote, with Caso, Breece, Dierolf and Neiman all voting to stay within the cap.
Under Act 1, if you don't stay within the index, which for Boyertown this year is 2.9 percent, you need to seek voter approval in the spring primary -- unless you seek "exceptions" from the state for a set of prescribed reasons that include pension payments, special education and construction.
"Take special education for example," said Krem. "If don't approve this budget, that's $1.5 million you can't claim that your taxpayers will have to make up," he said.
The budget, as it stands now early in the process, has a deficit of nearly $5 million — $4,973,252 to be exact -- according to the agenda.
GOOD JOB: School Resource Officer Gregory Miller, right,
Boyertown Police Officer, is congratulated
by Brandon Foose on being
named Police Liaison
Officer of the Year by the Community Youth
Panel of Berks County.
We'll have more on that in later editions of The Mercury.
In the meantime, here are the Tweets.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the YWCA Tri-County Area
Nominations for 2018’s Tribute to Exceptional Women, sponsored by YWCA Tri-County Area, are open through Monday, Feb. 19.
Community members are invited to nominate women for their achievements in leadership, service, and career in the following categories: Arts, Business, Education, Health, Racial Justice, Non-Profit, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the Rising Star Award for women 18-30, the Coretta Scott King Award for an agent of change, and Sally Lee Lifetime Achievement Award.
Nomination forms may be found online at www.ywcatricountyarea.org
The 23 rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women will be Thursday, March 29, at the River Crest Golf Club and Preserve in Phoenixville.
YW3CA has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women in the Tri-County and surrounding areas.
Marjorie Margolies will be the keynote speaker for the Tribute to Exceptional Women.
Tickets for the event are on sale now.
Proceeds from Tribute to Exceptional Women support YWCA Tri-County Area’s mission to
eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, and educates children, youth, families, and and communities through programming that empowers individuals to learn and grow across the lifespan, providing the foundation for a healthy and thriving community; empowers people to learn, grow, and take a stand; and advocates for the health and safety and empowerment and economic development of women and girls, and for racial and social justice.
Six months and one school board election after punting on a decision to grant raises to administrators, and non-teacher-union personnel, the newly constituted board voted unanimously to provide 4 percent raises to all.
In August, former board member Polly Weand had made a strident objection to the raises and had predicted they would be adopted after her term was up.
She was right.
School Board member Kurt Heidel apologized that it had taken so long, but the raises are retroactive to July 1, so I'm guessing all will be forgiven.
Board member Susan Lawrence said she finds it "unconscionable that our support staff is not paid a living wage."
With those raises, the lowest hourly wage paid to that group of employees will be $11.22 per hour, according to the helpful spreadsheet provided as an attachment to the agenda by Maureen Jampo, who apparently understands that showing the current wage, and the new one, is helpful when assessing impact.
That same document indicated that the 18 administrators who do not have individual contracts with the school district received raises totaling $61,500 in new spending. The new salaries ranged from a high of $119,000 for Deena Cellini, human resources director, to a low of $64,000 for transportation coordinator Lisa Schade.
Seven of those 16 administrators now earn more than $100,000 per year.
Here is another way community members can
learn how to be more effective advocates
for the school district.
The board also followed in borough council's lead and unanimously voting to forgive unpaid back taxes at the former Pottstown Plating works on South Washington Street in an attempt to get the potentially polluted property redeveloped.
The board further gave Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez direction to create a citizens budget advisory committee, although some on the board seemed to doubt many would be interested
Board member John Armato said the effort is worthwhile, even it the only benefit is greater awareness about the fiscal challenges faced by the board and the district.
Previous attempts to get input from the community have all fallen very flat.
Board member Ron Williams urged the community (and the media) to suggest potential members to Heidel, who had come up with idea.
But apparently, Heidel is only interested in ideas from residents, no matter how good the outside expertise.
As Williams requested, this reporter approached Heidel after the meeting and suggested Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, who might bring an economic development expertise to the discussion, and the Rev. Vernon Ross, who heads a large community church in town and once served as a school board member in Norristown, as possible advisory board members.
But Heidel said because they do not live in Pottstown, he did not think they would be right. "I want stakeholders," he said. Apparently, the fact that the school district is among the public entities which pay Lee-Clark's salary; and the fact that Ross has steadfastly resisted outside pressure and refused to move his church outside the borough, and is a proven fund-raiser and community leader, are not stake enough.
|Ariel, Triton, Sebastian and Prince Eric prepare to perform for the board.|
So the only budget ideas worth considering, according to Heidel, must come from inside the borough borders. How's that been working out for us so far?
Hopefully, he will continue to consider budget ideas from the district's superintendent, who not only does not live in Pottstown, but lives in a whole different county!
"But maybe other board members have other ideas," said Heidel, who has professed a desire to involve former board member Tom Hylton. Well, at least they all live in the borough.
And what would an early spring school board meeting be without an appearance from the district's performing artists? Boring that's what.
Luckily, the cast members of "The Little Mermaid," this year's district-wide music, which has nearly 180 students involved, was anything but boring in their preview
Below, amid the Tweets, you will find several videos of the two performance pieces they offered. They sounded great, so buy those tickets before they're sold out.
Photos courtesy of the Pottstown School District|
Pottstown High School Senior Eriq Johnson donates blood for the seventh time.
|Student proctor Tim Mutter has given blood more than 100 times.|
Pottstown High School students and staff showed their love for the community by literally giving a gift from the heart.
|Nala Johnson was among the Pottstown students who donated.|
|Pottstown High School studdnt Bryce Redd |
was happy to donate blood.
Johnson added, "our efforts are truly a expression of caring for the Pottstown community."
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Green Allies.
The GreenAllies organization, managers of the Althouse Arboretum in Upper Pottstgrove, will be hosting an electronics and appliance recycling event at the Hillside Aquatic Club parking lot, located at 134 W. Moyer Road on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There is a $10 donation per vehicle (unlimited amount). Student volunteers will be there to assist and unload each vehicle.
The recycling day is open to everyone and some charges do apply.
The travels of my company's sole municipal reporter for the region can take me far and wide ... and sometimes to more meetings than one in a night.
Having been attracted to the Limerick Township Supervisors meeting by a vote on a new police contract -- more on that tomorrow -- I found myself free by 8 p.m., only a half-hour into the Spring-Ford School Board meeting just down the road.
And so your intrepid reporter trundled down Lewis Road to what, according to the agenda, would be the back half of meeting with no big news anticipated.
And then Mark Dehnert spoke.
Noting the recent tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, Dehnert said he would like to see the administration look into having armed security in every school building.
And suddenly, there was news, both timely and poignant.
It just goes to show you, never trust an agenda.
Anyway, as you will be able to see from the Tweets below, the conversation ranged from whether armed security would be effective -- "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Dehnert in his best NRA impression of NRA President Wayne LaPierre -- to when and how longs the doors to the school are open.
The fact that the district just had a security audit two years ago seemed relevant, said Superintendent David Goodin. After all, the district already has two armed security guards based at the high school, but which visit all 11 buildings, he said.
Ultimately, the board agreed to ask for a cost-analysis of having armed security in each building, as well as a cursory review of the two-year-old audit by the company that did it.
You can read about that, and more, in the Tweets below: