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Articles on this Page
- 08/21/17--21:00: _A Quick Pottstown M...
- 08/22/17--21:00: _On the Trail of Hig...
- 08/23/17--21:00: _Foundation for Pott...
- 08/25/17--21:00: _Get Involved in You...
- 08/27/17--21:00: _When Harvey Came Ca...
- 08/28/17--21:00: _Consuming New Hanov...
- 08/29/17--21:00: _New New Hanover Web...
- 08/30/17--21:00: _130 Haircuts Means ...
- 08/31/17--21:00: _Enjoy the Joys (and...
- 09/01/17--21:00: _Free Music Program ...
- 09/02/17--21:00: _ArtFusion Holds Gra...
- 09/03/17--21:00: _Planting Seeds of H...
- 09/04/17--21:00: _Boyer Gallery Kicks...
- 09/05/17--21:00: _A Show of Hands Aga...
- 09/06/17--21:00: _Police Awards and S...
- 09/07/17--21:00: _New Hanover Zoning ...
- 09/08/17--21:00: _Seeing the Light in...
- 09/10/17--21:00: _Hopewell to Stage '...
- 09/11/17--21:00: _Murals, Parades and...
- 09/12/17--21:00: _A Boost for the You...
- 09/14/17--21:00: _Coventry Mall Hosts...
- 09/15/17--21:00: _2nd Annual Latino F...
- 09/16/17--21:00: _Pottstown School Su...
- 09/17/17--21:00: _Pottstown Library N...
- 09/18/17--21:00: _Pottsgrove Principa...
- 08/21/17--21:00: A Quick Pottstown Meeting With Lots of New Hires
- 08/22/17--21:00: On the Trail of Higher Administrator Salaries
- 08/25/17--21:00: Get Involved in Your Child's Education Pottsgrove
- Tuesday, 9/5/17 -- 5th Grade 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, 9/6/17 -- 4th Grade 7 p.m.
- Thursday, 9/7/17 -- 3rd Grade 7 p.m.
- Monday, 9/11/17 -- 6:30 p.m.
- Thursday, 9/14/17 -- 6:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, 9/13/17 -- 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, 9/20/17 -- 7 p.m.
- Lower Pottsgrove Elementary, Wednesday, 8/30/17 -- 6:30 p.m. in the LPE Library.
- Pottsgrove Music League, Wednesday, 9/6/17 -- 6:30 p.m. in the high school library.
- West Pottsgrove Elementary, Monday, 9/11/17 -- 6:30 p.m. in the library.
- High School PTSA, Monday, 9/18/17 7:30 p.m.in the high school library.
- Ringing Rocks Elementary, Tuesday, 9/19/17 6 p.m. in the library.
- Middle School, Thursday, 9/21/17 7 p.m.in the library
- 08/27/17--21:00: When Harvey Came Calling, Stormwater Lessons
- 08/28/17--21:00: Consuming New Hanover, One Parcel at a Time
- 08/29/17--21:00: New New Hanover Web Site Offers Alerts and More
- 08/30/17--21:00: 130 Haircuts Means School Supplies for Pottstown
- 09/01/17--21:00: Free Music Program for Kids at Christ Episcopal
- 09/02/17--21:00: ArtFusion Holds Grand Opening With 2-Day Event
- 09/03/17--21:00: Planting Seeds of History and Health at Morlotton
- 09/04/17--21:00: Boyer Gallery Kicks-Off Season with Flying Colors
- 09/05/17--21:00: A Show of Hands Against Increased Housing Density
- 09/06/17--21:00: Police Awards and Some Taxing News in Pottstown
- 09/07/17--21:00: New Hanover Zoning Board OKs Quarry Expansion
- 09/08/17--21:00: Seeing the Light in Pottstown's Grigg Stadium
- 09/10/17--21:00: Hopewell to Stage 'Fragile Freedom' on Sept. 17
- 09/11/17--21:00: Murals, Parades and Pledges of Peace in Pottstown
- 09/12/17--21:00: A Boost for the Youngest Pottsgrove Students
- 09/14/17--21:00: Coventry Mall Hosts Monarch Butterflies Sunday
- 09/15/17--21:00: 2nd Annual Latino Fest, Sept. 23 in Riverfront Park
- 09/16/17--21:00: Pottstown School Supply Donations Are Pouring in
- 09/17/17--21:00: Pottstown Library Needs Region's Support
- A preschooler attending story time.
- A family checking out a museum pass for an educational and fun day
- An adult using a quiet area to prepare for a professional examination
- Two sisters researching their family in the newspaper archives
- A legally blind patron browsing audiobooks with the assistance of a staff member
- A student checking out a WiFi HotSpot for school projects
- A collection of 70,000 books, magazines, audiobooks, music, movies and kits
- Plus access to library collections in Montgomery County and across PA
The entire basement of the library is devoted to children.
- Classes and workshops for children, teens and adults
- Public computers, WiFi, fax, copy and print services
- Passes for Elmwood Zoo, Morris Arboretum, Reading Public Museum, and Boyertown Museum of
- Historic Vehicles
- Ancestry.com - genealogical research
- Foundation Directory - research grant opportunities for non-profits
- T-Mobile Hotspots and ROKUs to loan
- Passport services
- Online library catalog for searching, reserving, and renewing library materials
- Overdrive - e-books
- Zinio - digital magazines
- Mango - language learning
- Brainfuse - homework help and test preparation
- JobNow - resume and job search services
- Freegal - downloadable and streaming music and streaming video
- Reference USA - address and phone number directory
- Tumblebooks - animated read-along children’s books
- Universal Class - instructor led online classes with course completion certificates
- Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
- Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
- Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- 09/18/17--21:00: Pottsgrove Principals Make California Discoveries
But Monday proved me wrong.
The meeting was done in 28 minutes.
One of the things that makes that easy is something called "consent items," which are things discussed at the Thursday work session about which there is no disagreement.
On Monday, that constituted 22 items on an agenda of 38 items.
Among them was the hiring of 11 teachers, a new director of technology; a new assistant director of technology; a new director of special education; a new principal, a new assistant principal and the promotion of a 10-month-a-year-assistant to 12 months per year -- all at the middle school; and other assorted hirings.
What didn't happen, was a scheduled 3 percent pay hike for mid-level administrators and principals, support staff and other workers.
That motion was tabled and sent back to the finance committee for further consideration by the request of board member Polly Weand, who last week said she is worried the community cannot afford the increase. The board voted unanimously to do as she asked.
The other item of interest was the 5-2 vote to double the district's contribution to the Pottstown Area Industrial Development Inc., from $10,000 to $20,000.
Board Vice President Emanuel Wilkerson and member Katina Bearden voted no. She said she could not justify the expense.
Board member Thomas Hylton said PAID had done useful things in the past, "but not so much lately. However, he said he was willing to give new director Peggy Lee-Clark a chance, particularly given that the increase would put PAID at a $150,000 contribution, which would then be matched with an equal amount from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.
Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.
|The blue dotted line shows the planned path of the Pottsgrove Trail through Pottsgrove High School and Brookside Family Restaurant property.|
The Pottsgrove School Board pondered a proposal to route a regional trail through the high school property.
And it gave two of its top administrators raises of two and three percent respectively. But that happened in one giant unanimous vote, which also gave raises of mostly 2.5 percent to 11 other employees.
So Superintendent William Shirk's salary, as of Sept. 1, will be $181,327.82, which Business Manager David Nester said is a two percent raise.
Nester will see a 3 percent raise to an annual salary of $169,331.58.
But the board didn't talk about that.
Instead it talked mostly about the presentation by Michael Lane, the regional recreation director, who outlined the plan for five major regional trails, and then specifically outlined plans for the Pottsgrove Trail.
He brought along Lower Pottsgrove Manager Ed Wagner, and Upper Pottsgrove Commissioner Herb Miller, both of whom endorsed the idea and answered questions from the school board.
Lane said plans for the trail's route through the Turnberry Farms development is already underway and the idea is for the trail to link the high school with Hollenbach Park, where Pottsgrove athletes practice and play.
Miller even said with the network now in place, the high school cross country team could run from the high school to the park at Prout Farm and back to the school, a 10-mile round trip -- almost entirely on the trails.
The board, after a few questions, seemed favorable to the idea and Lane said he would not need a decision from them until next year, and in the meantime, he would provide more information as it becomes available.
Now, if you weren't washed away by last night's storm, here are the Tweets from the meeting.
|Joe Rusiewicz, executive director of the Foundation for Pottstown Education, left, accepts a $50,000 grant check for "operational support" from David Kraybill, executive director of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.
Joe Rusiewicz, the foundation's executive director, stated that he is not only pleased with the acceptance of this grant but also in the working relationship that both Foundations have with each other.
The foundation recently provided funding towards the Middle School Environmental Education Club’s attendance at the Pocono Environmental Education Center, for the Early College Program, PEAK initiatives, Girls Today Leaders Tomorrow Program, equipment and computers for the Engineering Programs, AP Testing and has approved funding for the Rupert Elementary School Fourth Grade ropes program, as well as working on the Planning Committee for the 2017 Sports Carnival. Previously,
The remainder of the grant, $40,000, will be issued in year two, 2018 contingent on submission and review of the year one report.
About PAHWF: The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation’s (PAHWF) mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community, Mission Healthy
Living, an initiative of PAHWF, to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life. You can also follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.
About FPE: The Foundation for Pottstown Education’s (FPE) mission is to support, promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the Pottstown School District. Visit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the Foundation for Pottstown Education. You can also follow FPE on Facebook and Twitter.
One of the surest paths to a child's success in school is the involvement of their parents.
Whether its taking an interest in homework, or volunteering in the building, parent involvement is crucial to a student's success.
So here's how you can get started this year if you are the parent of a Pottsgrove school student.
The Pottsgrove School District Back to School Schedule is as follows:
Lower Pottsgrove Elementary
Ringing Rocks Elementary
West Pottsgrove Elementary
Pottsgrove Middle School
Pottsgrove High School
The first PTA meetings of the year are as follows: (Everyone is welcome)
|Photo from ABC News|
Flooding in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
When it comes to flooding, pavement is the enemy.
Here in America, we love pavement, but pavement doesn't love us, particularly not when it rains.
Pavement, all development really, inserts an impermeable layer between the rain and the ground's ability to absorb it.
According to the Montgomery County Planning Commission, a one-acre parking lot can produce 16 times more water run-off than a one-acre meadow.
If you're not lucky, or live in a community with poor planning, the water heads straight into the stream that is, in all likelihood, already struggling to handle the flow from the storm.
And soon enough, it overflows its banks and you're floating a boat down Manatawny Street or in Memorial Park.
In famously "un-zoned" Houston, they are now paying the price of paving as Hurricane Harvey dumps previously un-seen volumes of stormwater on a city that has paved over much of the prairie grass that would once have absorbed a significant portion of it.
Flooding from Harvey in Rockport, Texas.
As the series summarized: "Unchecked development remains a priority in the famously un-zoned city, creating short-term economic gains for some while increasing flood risks for everyone."
In the same way that increasing development near coastlines, or on the barrier islands geologists call "high speed real estate," increases the risk to life and property from increasingly more severe storms and flooding, paving and increased development in flood plains and even outside them along streams and rivers does the same.
Houston has done both and is now paying a price all U.S. taxpayers will share.
You can also read more in this Houston Chronicle series from 2016.
CNN PhotoFlooding in Houston is like nothing seen before.
That's when the U.S. taxpayer steps in, providing flood insurance and clean-ups where insurance companies will not because, as experts, they know it's a money loser.
And all too often, it isn't until the flood is your basement, that the risk is made evident. And that's when government is suddenly everybody's best friend, when it's in your own basement.
As the Dallas Morning News reported Saturday, Texas members of Congress are already asking for the federal storm aid they voted to deny the northeast after Superstorm Sandy hit just five years ago.
"With the exception of Houston Rep. John Culberson, all Texas Republicans in Congress at the time voted against the bill. All but three are still in office today," the newspaper reported.
Everyone is happy to have government involvement after a disaster, but not always so much when it's preventing one.
Manicured lawns are almost as bad as pavement when it comes|
to sending storm run-off into the sewer system.
So under the authority provided in the Clean Water Act, the federal government, at least for now, is requiring municipalities to clean this filthy floodwater water before dumping it into area streams that ultimately provide drinking water to millions.
In Pottstown, that's a big potential cost given that, as Tom Hylton wrote in an essay published in The Mercury, 38 percent of the borough is covered by impervious surface.
Many kinds of coal tar-based pavement sealants |
are adding suspected carcinogens to our drinking water.
That's to be expected in an urban setting that has been around for more than a century, but the requirement to clean its stormwater run-off is something new.
Pottstown faces two paths to deal with that requirement, engineering and/or planning. In other words, find ways to clean the water, or prevent it from getting to the streams in the first place.
The engineering side is already underway.
As The Mercury reported last month, the Pottstown Borough Authority is seeking funding for a $200,000 project to remove 52,197 pounds of sediment from Goose Run each year.
That will be accomplished with the installation of two sediment traps, one near Airy Street east of North Hanover Street, and one near Fourth Street, west of North Hanover Street.
And, perhaps more worrisome to those who insist on larger parking lots, the authority is also considering charging a fee for managing stormwater in the same way it charges for managing sewage.
And as aging infrastructure erodes and pollution control requirements increase, the price only escalates.
One 2016 estimate presented to the authority shows an annual cost of as much as $1.42 million to manage stormwater as soon as 11 years from now.
Rain gardens and street trees can absorb|
a remarkable amount of stormwater.
As for the prevention side of the equation, one answer is a word often accompanied by expletives here in Pottstown -- trees, or, if you prefer, "green infrastructure/"
According to American Forrests, a non-profit conservation organization, "in one day, one large tree can absorb up to 100 gallons of water and release it into the air, cooling the surrounding area."
According to the EPA, the more than half million trees New York City planted in 2007 absorbs more than 890 million gallons of stormwater run-off each year, saving the city more than $35 million a year in treatment costs.
Trees and open space -- like the natural meadow the Pottstown School Board has voted to establish at the former Edgewood Elementary School -- absorb water. It's as simple as that.
But will Pottstown take that step forward, ignore political arguments that have undermined such efforts in the past?
Only time will tell. If experience is any teacher, it may require a big storm for the powers that be to see the light.
President James Madison once said "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
And so it seems to be with development in New Hanover Township.
While the impact of the 700-residential unit Town Center continues to draw the eye of those concerned about the loss of the township's rural character, smaller projects, whose impacts are cumulative, slip along toward approval.
At least that seemed to be the sentiments expressed by Supervisor Charles D. Garner Jr., who told the board and audience at the end of Mondaty night's meeting that the very thing that attracts residents to so many new developments -- the township's rural character -- is the very thing threatened by the township's counter-intuitive ordinances and developer-accommodating officials allowing for the approval of so many such projects.
In a meeting where the collapse of one developer -- and the bank which had guaranteed the financing
The final, 40-townhouse phase of the Renninger Tract project was
unanimously approved by the township supervisors Monday.
Although the supervisors balked at granting premature preliminary approval to a project off Dotterer Road known as Trotter's Gait, a reduction of units from 54 townhomes to 29 single-family homes, they did approval the final phase of a project known as the "Renninger Tract. which will add 40 attached homes to the township's housing stock -- and to Boyertown School District's student rolls.
Located on 33 acres between Middle Creek and Dotterer roads, the Gambone project has been in the works since 2012. Recommended for final approval by the planning commission, the supervisors followed suit and unanimously gave final approval to the final phase.
But afterward, Garner questioned the township's vision -- or lack thereof.
"I question the township ordinances that allow these projects of such extraordinarily high density," Garner said at the end of the meeting. "They are going to have impacts on traffic and parking issues that I would think people are moving here to get away from."
"I'm not so sure what the board's vision is for New Hanover, which we seem to be allowing to be turned piece by piece into something other than the rural character I think we all want," he said. "I am worried it's beginning to look like the eastern part of the county."
The board also put off the task of replacing Garner's wife, Connie Garner, who has tendered her resignation as the parks and recreation director; as well as being briefed on the township's new web site, and plans for the planting of 60 new trees to help control stormwater pollution.
But you can find all that in the Tweets down below.
Photo by Evan Brandt
New Hanover Township Manager Jamie Gwynn shows off features of the new township web site Monday.
A better-informed community and more transparency into local government are the goals Township Manager Jaime Gwynn has for New Hanover’s new website.
You can check it out for yourself at http://newhanover-pa.org/
The website went live on Monday and that night, Gwynn had the opportunity to show it off during the township supervisors’ meeting.
“This is my third website, and I’ve learned from previous mistakes. I knew just how I wanted it to look,” Gwynn said after the meeting.
He laid out the site and “I think I logged 50 calls to the company that did the coding. I don’t think they like me very much anymore,” he joked.
The feature he is most proud of is the site’s ability to have residents sign up to receive emergency alerts, as well as other kinds of alerts — like for road repairs or special events.
The alerts can come via email or via text to your mobile phone.
And, in an effort to promote that feature, Gwynn has teamed up with local businesses along Swamp Pike to offer discounts to customers who can show they’ve signed up for alerts.
For example, those who show their signup to cashiers at Freed’s Super Market can get a 5-percent discount on their purchase; a free pretzel at Philly Pretzel Factory; a Wawa voucher or a gift raffle card from Complete Family Eye Care.
“This is an opportunity for the community as a whole,” Gwynn told the supervisors.
It’s also an opportunity for the community to get more informed, Gwynn said.
“The whole site is designed for ease of navigation to make it easy to find things like bill lists, tax and budget information, audits. There’s even a share tool, so you can send a link to someone else, and very soon we’ll introduce online bill pay for sewer bills,” he said.
Sandy Koza, the township’s traffic engineer who saw the site for the first time at Monday night’s meeting, took it out for a spin and exclaimed — “everything is so easy to find.”
The township has also taken on the herculean task of putting New Hanover’s many development projects on the website, but approved and in process. Given that New Hanover is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Montgomery County — this is no small thing.
“Ultimately, it saves time for the staff, because they don’t have to fish out the planning documents when someone comes in; and it makes things easier for residents to know what’s going on without having to come down to the township building,” said Gwynn.
But nothing stays static in the information age and Gwynn said he is looking for feedback from the residents, about what they like or don’t like on the site, on how it can be made even better.
You can reach him at via email at email@example.com or on the telephone at 610-323-1008. (By the way that information was super easy to find on the new website.)
Photo Courtesy of Justin Valentine
About 130 free back-to-school haircuts for students were provided Sunday at Blade's Edge Unisex Salon in exchange for donations of school supplies
Five large boxes of school supplies were divided among Pottstown's four elementary schools thanks to the contributions of more than 130 people who turned out Sunday for free back-to-school haircuts at Blade's Edge Unisex Salon.
Photo Courtesy of Justin Valentine|
Five large boxes worth of school supplies were collected Sunday.
Owner Tony Betts announced the initiative earlier this month in this space and in The Mercury, hoping to build on last year's successful effort.
"This year, we were much better organized," Betts said Wednesday. Last year, the shop gave 100 haircuts but only generated enough school supply donations to provide to one school -- Franklin Elementary.
This year, those efforts produced five boxes, meaning each of Pottstown's four elementary schools received a box of free school supplies for those who cannot afford them.
As you can see in this brief video shot by John Armato, the school district's director of community relations, things were hoping.
"We also want to show the community, the parents to show how much we can do, with each of us just
giving a little," Betts said.
"We want to show the schools, the teachers, the administrators, that we appreciate what they do for our children," he said.
"I definitely think we'll do this next year," said Betts. "I want to try to surpass my goal for this year, which was 200 hair cuts."
In addition, said Betts, "we want other businesses, other organizations here in town to help support the schools."
That may already be happening.
This coming Sunday, the Deliverance Life Center will hold a similar event called "Cuts and Curls." that will offer free back-to-school hair cuts and styling.
It will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the White House Barber and Styling Salon, 246 King St. and will be hosted by Joyce Wilkerson.
It will feature food, raffles and free hair styling, but walk-ins will not be accepted.
Parents who want to take advantage of this for their children must register online by clicking here.
Time of appointment and stylist will be sent via email.
Hair must be clean, dry and free of product.
|Colebrookdale Railroad will sponsor two vintage baseball games in Memorial Park on Sept. 9.|
As Labor Day approaches, so too does the traditional end of summer.
But the Colebrookdale Railroad is offering you a chance to hold on to summer for just a little bit longer.
On Sunday and Monday, Sept. 3 and 4th, you can have your barbecue without having to cook. The railroad will do it for you.
"The sweet aroma of early fall will mix with the mouthwatering scent of hot dogs and hamburgers
|The Colebrookdale will be grilling in the open car Sunday and Monday.|
The Philadelphia Athletic BBC and the Harrisburg BBC will play for two games of late 1800's vintage baseball.
Ticket Includes: One round-trip train ride, one baseball game ticket, a hot dog and an old-fashioned Reading Draft Company soda. Walk-up game tickets in Memorial Park are also available for $10.
ArtFusion 19464 invites the community to help celebrate their new facility at the Beech St. Factory on Friday, Sept. 8 and Saturday, Sept. 9.
|The new home of ArtFusion 19464 is 341 Beech St., Pottstown|
The event runs from 7-9 p.m.on Friday. Advance tickets are $30 and can be purchased at artfusion19464.org.
The following day, Saturday, Sept. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., ArtFusion 19464 is all about family fun.
There will also be an opportunity to become part of the new space by creating a tile for their donor wall. Each $100 donation is a 4"x4" blank tile, ready for a creative touch.
ArtFusion 19464 is a 501(c)3 non-profit community art center located in a brand new facility at the Beech St. Factory in downtown Pottstown. The school offers day, evening and weekend classes to all ages. The goal of these classes is to help students develop their creative skills and independence through self-expression. ArtFusion 19464 also hosts rotating shows featuring local artists.
|The program begins at the White Horse Tavern, shown above, in Morlotton Village Sept. 16.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County.
The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County will hold a site-wide event at Morlottan Village in Douglassville focusing on gardens of the 18th century on Sat. Sept. 16.
gardens in the eighteenth century. Gardens were the “medicine chests” for the farms, the source of flavorful herbs for cooking, and provided lovely simple flowers that could bring beauty to a home.
The program will also include a visit to the White Horse Tavern’s herb garden where visitors will have a chance to experience and explore some of these herbs for themselves.
Susan Speros is the Site Manager for the Alleghany Aqueduct Historical Park, owned by the Berks
County Parks and Recreation Department. She also writes for the Reading Eagle’s Berks Country Magazine.
She currently serves as a director on the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County board and volunteers at numerous historic sites across the county.
Dr. Courtney McKay Stevens is a retired professor of nursing and an active member of the local Herb
Society of America. Courtney is a longtime Trust volunteer and also donates her time to many other historic sites in the area.
The program begins at the White Horse Inn.
Tours of Morlatton Village will be offered when applicable.
All proceeds benefit the Trust.
These site-wide programs are offered April-October and include various formats and topics such as exhibits, demonstrations, interactive sessions, and oral and graphic presentations.
The suggested donation is $2 per person.
The HPTBC is a non-profit organization that acquires, preserves, and maintains historically and architecturally significant properties in Berks County, and educates Berks County and its visitors about the role these sites played in Pennsylvania and American history.
The Trust seeks to foster community involvement and support in promoting awareness and appreciation of historic structures and encouraging their adaptive reuse.
The Trust currently owns and maintains eight historically significant buildings in the greater Reading/Berks County area.
The office is located in the White Horse Inn on Old Philadelphia Pike in Douglassville.
If you are interested in donating to the Trust please call 610-385- 4762 or visit www.historicpreservationtrust.org.
The Hill's School's Boyer Gallery will kick off its 2017-18 season with an exhibit by Flying Colors Fine Artists.
Flying Colors is a group of 20 women artists who meet together weekly to paint, critique, share information, and provide support to each other. Read more about each artist.
Photos by Evan Brandt
Will all those who oppose allowing increased housing density in exchange for expensive sewer improvements in the Goshenhoppen Creek Zoning Overlay District please raise their hands.
To say that the majority of the more than 100 people who packed into the Lower Frederick Township Building Tuesday night opposed a proposed zoning overlay district that would affect only five parcels in town would be an exercise in understatement.
When all was said and done, only one resident stood up and asked the three-member board of supervisors not to support the idea, but at least to "consider all options."
Even before the standing-room-only meeting, the supervisors had taken one step back from the idea -- cancelling the official public hearing scheduled for the same time, and instead turning it into an "informational meeting."
By cancelling the public hearing, the supervisors indicated they have no current plans to move forward with the proposal, and if they do, will have to announce and hold another official public hearing before they do, said Chairman Robert Yoder.
"We may never hear about this again," but if the board does decide to move forward with the idea, an official a public hearing will have to be held before a vote can occur, he said,
If you like legalese, you can click on this link and read the draft ordinance as it was proposed.
Lower Frederick Township Engineer Carol Shuehler with the
original plans for Melbourne Hill.
If not, a brief history lesson is required.
Back in 2008, a traditional 48-lot housing development on 41.5 acres called Melbourne Hill was granted preliminary approval by the township. It's entrance would be located at the intersection of Gravel Pike and Salford Station Road.
At the time, the developers had proposed an increased density allowance (more homes than allowed under zoning) in exchange for donating some open space to the township.
But the developers, T.H.P. Properties, went belly up as the housing crash began and that was the last time anyone mentioned "open space."
In the meantime, the township was dealing with an aging sewer plant that served the hamlets of Zieglersville and Spring Mount, ultimately embarking on what is now a $10 million effort to replace it.
When it's complete, the capacity will have more than doubled, allowing the township to take care of some problem areas in town where on-site septic systems are failing and a public sewer system would solve the problem and avoid sanction and forced solutions from state environmental authorities.
Montgomery County Plannner Donna Fabry shows that the
proposed overlay district is, within the square on the right, in
the region identified as a "growth area" in the comprehensive plan.
But now, instead of open space, the township is looking at existing and potential on-site septic system problems on Little Road, which borders the proposed Melbourne Hill development.
The sewer planning that occurred during the housing market lull calls for an additional sewer line along Goshenhoppen Creek to deal with some of those problems in an area of town the Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission has identified as a "growth area" in its comprehensive plan.
As Montgomery County Planner Donna Fabry described it, "it's the place you want growth to go."
The $10 million the township borrowed to upgrade the sewer plant and expand the collection system into problem areas of Spring Mount hamlet, will not cover the costs of the Goshenhoppen Creek line.
So rather than trade open space in exchange for increased density, the overlay district would allow specific density increases for specific public improvements, mostly sewers.
The idea, said Supervisor Terry Sacks, is that it would allow the sewer planning to go forward more cheaply, since unlike the township, a developer does not have to pay "prevailing wage" and other costs a public project must bear.
And, of course, the developer would be paying for it, not the township.
The fact that the draft ordinance was written by John Kennedy, a planner for the potential developers and former developers, as shown in the March 9 planning commission minutes, did not sit well with the already ornery crowd when it was confirmed by Township Engineer Carol Schuehler, who had the unenviable task of explaining all this to a room full of people not terribly inclined to hear it.
Township Engineer Carol Shuehler shows how her calculation of
additional housing density in the overlay district was made.
In essence, the township supervisors were exploring an idea about how to get sewer service to those who now, or will eventually need it, in an area already designated in township, regional and county plans as a "growth area."
So let's crunch some numbers.
According to an analysis Scheuhler undertook for the meeting, a property in the overlay district needs to be at least 10 acres for the regulations to apply and there are five such properties including Melbourne Hill.
On the four properties other than Melbourne Hill, the overlay would allow 91 homes instead of the 35 allowed under existing R-2 zoning; an increase of 56 homes.
The red properties with stripes show those eligible for the
increased densities in the proposed overlay district, which is
outlined in red.
For Melbourne Hill, the overlay would allow the 48 approved lots to increase to 85, said Schueler -- an increase of 37. When added to the potential increase at the other properties, the total additional housing units in the overlay district is 93.
How dense is that? A ratio as high as 2.5 homes per acre in two-acre zoning.
There was a bit of dispute about whether that represents "high density" zoning, with Fabry pointing out that official "high-density" zoning is as high as 10 units per acre, not 2.5.
But, the disputes about numbers, zoning and definitions may be moot.
It was pretty evident what the sentiment of the crowd at last night's meeting was -- opposed.
And given that the supervisors later in the evening said they have no plans to visit the subject again, one might conclude the matter is a dead letter.
But only time will tell.
If nothing else, township residents face an additional 48 units if Melbourne Hill is developed as already approved before the approval expires -- an expiration on which Township Solicitor Thomas Keenan threw some doubt.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting.
As is so often the case, the big ticket news item from last night's borough council meeting appeared nowhere on the agenda other than a listing as "manager's report."
What Borough Manager Mark Flanders had to report was pretty sobering -- that as things stand, the various borough funds are nearly $2.4 million in the red.
The reasons are no mystery: The loss of $26 million in total assessed property value over three years; increased costs, particularly for health care and two years of using fund reserves to balance the budget and avoid a tax increase.
And that loss in assessed property value does not even include the loss when (or if) Pottstown Memorial Medical Center is taken off the tax rolls because of being purchased by the non-profit Reading Health Systems.
With more assessment challenges lined up, county officials are warning Pottstown to prepare for a total assessment of $780 million, down from $806 million in 2016, Flanders said.
To fill that projected gap would require a real estate tax hike of 23 percent.
As Council President Dan Weand noted, the number always starts out high at the beginning of the budget process, and gets whittle down through the process.
Flanders said that the whittling has gotten to the point where "council will have to make some tough decisions over the next few months" and decide which services will get cut.
Council Vice President Sheryl Miller urged council against cutting emergency services and suggested an independent study might be needed to look at salaries in the borough, some of which she said are "outrageous."
We'll have more coverage of this issue in subsequent The Mercury.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting:
|This map, from a previous zoning hearing, shows the proximity|
of the quarry expansion approved last night to the pollution site
at Good's Oil, identified inside the red circle.
The 4-0 vote came with more than 15 conditions that will be imposed on the expansion, which is not likely to begin actual operations for four to five more years, according to an estimate by Stephen Harris, Gibraltar’s long-time attorney.
“We can’t vote how we feel about this application. We are bound by the constraints of the law,” said Zoning Chairman Mark Wylie in announcing the decision.
Ultimately, the question came down to the threat posed by polluted groundwater pollution at the former Good’s Oil site off Route 663, and what impact the expanded quarry operation would have on its movement underground, said Wylie.
He said the testimony offered over about two years of testimony by experts for Gibraltar, the township and Paradise Watchdogs/Ban the Quarry was all credible.
Because the pollution plume is moving slowly southwest underground, away from the quarry expansion site, Wylie it would have been legally difficult to deny permission to expand based on any potential risk.
Rowan Keenan, attorney for the Ban the Quarry group said he understood why the zoning board made the choice it did — because it allow them to impose numerous conditions, such as screening, replacing well water and complying with a federal limit on the suspected carcinogen 1,4 dioxane should the Environmental Protection Agency ever get around to imposing one.
Had they denied the “special exception” required, Gibraltar could have appealed that decision and over-turned it, and there would be no conditions at all.
Celeste Bish, president of Paradise Watchdogs/Ban the Quarry — a citizens group which has opposed every stage of the quarry for nearly 20 years — agreed with Keenan’s analysis.
“We’re certainly disappointed, but we understand why the zoning hearing board made the decision it did, to be able to impose conditions,” she said.
Although, Keenan pointed out, not only can he or the township’s special solicitor Robert Brant appeal the decision, but they or Gibraltar can also appeal the conditions.
Harris said he had been “cautiously optimistic” about the decision coming into the final lap, adding “although it wouldn’t surprise me if Ban the Qaurry filed an appeal.”
|These maps show Hoffmansville Road running between the quarry pits.|
Earlier this week, Gibraltar submitted its final site plan for the original parcel south of Hoffmansville Road, known as GB-1, over which many legal battles and public hearings have been fought.
In 2007, the township’s zoning board of appeals granted the company permission to open the quarry on 163 acres bounded by Route 73, Hoffmansville Road and Church Road, but with a number of restrictions to which the company objected.
The company went to court, arguing among other things, the state’s non-coal mining law pre-empted the necessity of going through the township’s land development process, but lost that fight.
The preliminary site plan approval for the first quarry site dates back to 2015.
The quarry has a second digging site north of Hoffmansville Road and a tunnel will be dug beneath the road to move rock from this second site to the crushing machine on the first.
What the zoning hearing board approved Thursday is a third site, also north of Hoffmansville Road and adjacent to the second on one side, and to the former Good’s Oil property on the other.
It is located on 18 acres Gibraltar purchased for $800,000 in November, 2014 from a trust owned by the Good family.
|New Hanover Zoning Hearing Board Chairman Mark Wylie|
The affect the most recently approved operation will have on that contamination has been the focus of most of the hearings.
Wylie noted it will be approximately 15 years before the digging there is deep enough to reach groundwater and require the pumping some fear will alter the course of the pollution plume and release it into a tributary of Swamp Creek.
With 15 years of monitoring well data in hand before the problem emerges, Wylie said the township, the state and Gibraltar can be ready.
“Of course we don’t think that de-watering will draw in the pollution, but we’ve spent years asking ourselves ‘what if,’” Harris said, noting that treatment systems exist and would be implemented for whatever type of pollution, if any, ultimately appears.
Here are what few Tweets there were from the all-too-brief meeting.
Photos by Evan Brandt
As the sun set over Pottstown Middle School Friday night, the full glory of the new lights at Grigg Memorial field was evident to the capacity crowd which filled the home side stands.
I'll be the first to admit it.
I am not a football guy.
|It was nice to see the home stands full again.|
Didn't play it, don't watch it, don't care much who wins.
But for me, the return of Friday night football under the lights in Pottstown turned out to have very little to do with football.
Rather, it's about all the other things it enables and evokes.
First and foremost, it puts everybody in the same place. It's the place to be and as such it literally and physically brings the community together in one of the few places big enough to hold us all.
And it unites us in a common cause, even if it is to root for our young people to play a game that may lead to a lifetime of concussion damage. We all make choices.
And it's not just the current athletes.
|Jennifer Jones and her son-in-law Lonnell Allen|
She came back because the lights were back, but also because she now has two grandsons on the field.
And their father, Lonnell Allen, played football there as well.
You can never have too much family tradition.
Then there are all the volunteers.
There are the PSMA parents hopping to it in the snack bar (a post I filled faithfully for the four years my son was in the band).
Pottstown High School Band Director Mike Vought knows his
students are delighted to be able to perform under the lights again.
Then there are the equally dedicated parents in the Gridiron Club who man the smaller snack bar on the home stand -- the only one that sells French fries.
Students in various clubs and activities have tables to raise money for their activities, knowing that a gathering of half the town is a good place to market your wares.
Alongside them, are Pottstown's many dedicated teachers, either as advisers of just because they think its important to support the school.
|The Gridiron Club's snack bar was hopping.|
meet and talk with people in town who are not in the midst of a crisis requiring police services -- no one is at their best then.
But Friday night, Pottstown was at its best.
It took three years, but the money for the new lights was finally scraped together, by people working together, so on crisp autumn Friday nights, they can all get together.
Here are the Tweets, mine, other Mercury staff, and the school community. We all worked together.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Friends of Hopewell Furnace.
The Friends of Hopewell Furnace invite the public to a commemoration of 9/11/2001 with a presentation of "Fragile Freedom," an original play by the international playwright Christine Emmert. The free program is slated for Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Hopewell Furnace Conference Center.
On 9/11/2001, the crew and passengers of Flight 93 gave their lives to protect our American democracy and its rights. These rights are celebrated in "Fragile Freedom."
Playwright/director Christine Emmert is a writer, actress, director and educator. She holds a Masters in Humanities. Her story "Lilith" is out on Kindle along with her novel, "Ismene."
While at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site visitors are encouraged to go into the village, tour the buildings and learn about the iron making industry and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history and the development of our democratic freedoms.
The park is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345. For more information stop by the park's visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park's web site at www.nps.gov/hofu, or contact the park by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One might think that after news of the potential for a 23 percent tax hike broke last week -- news which had the Internet commentariat slinging its most colorful empty threats -- that someone might have showed up to talk about at the next council meeting.
One would be wrong.
Nope, it was business as usual.
Which is to say the usual Pottstown practice of shooting ourselves in the foot.
Council once again held off on adopting new zoning rules governing murals -- working hard to prevent problems that don't exist -- after Council Dennis Arms pointed out that the borough planning commission had not yet had an opportunity to review the rules or comment on them.
One can see why Marie Haigh is upset.
Marie Haigh speaks against the proposal mural restrictions
during Monday night's council meeting.
A group of volunteers gets together; convinces a property owner to let them paint a "Welcome to Pottstown" sign on the property; gets council's endorsement to go ahead; gets sponsors and buys supplies; only to have the whole thing come crashing to the ground because someone in borough hall decides to solve a problem that does not exist yet and has never presented itself before.
Councilman Dennis Arms has a point, that the worst thing that could happen to the borough is not having to paint over a mural.
He pointed out that requiring an agreement by the property owner to maintain or cover up the mural doesn't mean it's going to happen any more than having an ordinance requiring people to cut their grass makes that happen.
What it does mean is that there won't be a "Welcome to Pottstown" mural.
Good job borough leaders.
Way to lead, encourage people to get involved with their community, try to improve or beautify it, then pull the rug out from under them for the flimsiest of reasons.
And you wonder why no one gets involved?
The Pottstown Rotary Club's giant duck makes its way down
High Street during this year's July 4th Parade.
Having failed once to raise enough money to stage a parade and twice to raise enough for fireworks, Independence Day Ltd. is now bucking for another bite at the parade after the Pottstown Rotary Club -- which has never failed to put on a parade -- did it this year and has already applied for permission to do it next year.
Last week Mayor Sharon Thomas said Independence Day Ltd. was treated poorly by the borough and other groups which stepped in to provide what they could not -- a parade and events in Memorial Park.
And Monday, Councilwoman Rita Paez, in the mayor's absence, tried to table a vote to close High Street for that parade. After Borough Manager Mark Flanders explained that the Rotary Club does not yet have the parade permit, the vote went forward.
(In the midst of this, Marcia Levengood, the titular head of Independence Day Ltd., has somehow emerged as the new spokesperson for the Human Relations Commission, which Paez once headed, but from which she has recently resigned. It's all quite puzzling.)
|The pledge to Stand Against Racism with Pottstown signatures on it.|
But before I am accused of being too negative, there was a bright spot at last night's meeting.
Stacey Woodland, CEO of YWCA TriCounty and Jonathan Corson, head of the Pottstown chapter of the NAACP, presented council with a mounted pledge to stand against racism, signed by the hundreds of people who attended a quickly organized rally in Smith Family Plaza in the wake of the events at Charlottesville, Virginia.
Corson said he was worried he and Woodland would be the only ones there, but Pottstown turned out in force and restored his faith in the town.
Let's hope it's well founded.
Here are the Tweets:
The media landscape of the day can be very distracting.
And I would like to tell you that I was late to the Pottsgrove School Board meeting Tuesday night because I was working on an important story.
And that does happen.
But not this time. This time I had burrowed into a Facebook hole on an issue which was neither immediate, nor important, but which indeed did make me late.
As a result, I missed what a helpful source later told me was the news that some financial software the district uses will expire within the year and that Business Manager Dave Nester said it will require a purchase of $200,000 to $300,000 of unbudgeted funds to buy a new one.
I don't have the particulars so you will have to keep up with The Mercury for news of that development.
However, given that unpexpected expense, one wonders at why some members of the school board -- Robert Lindgren and Bill Parker -- would raise a warning note about a free Pre-K Counts class being offered to 20 students at West Pottsgrove Elementary School.
Well, you don't have to wonder, you can see their reasons in the Tweets below.
|A Monarch Butterfly.|
Ron Richael, local butterfly expert, from Pottstown, will conduct s special event Sunday, Sept. 17 at the Coventry Mall.
He will explain about the monarch butterfly, and its 2,000 mile journey to Mexico for the winter.
|Last Year's Latino Fest highlighted Latino food, traditional clothing, dancing and more. This year's event will be held on Sept. 23 in Riverfront Park.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos.
Latin dancing lessons will once again be a feature of this year's |
Latino Fest in Riverfront Park.
Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos will present Pottstown’s Second Latin Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23rd from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Riverfront Park.
The Festival celebrates Latino culture during the National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Some of this year’s highlights include delicious ethnic foods from Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and Guatemala.
|Pinatas will also be part of the festivities.|
There will also be live music and a Zumba class for everyone.
Also count on piñatas with prizes, the announcement of the Second Writing Contest winners, a bouncing castle, soccer, a martial arts demonstration, nature experiments and much more.
The event coincides roughly with the Veterans Community Day in nearby Memorial Park.
A free shuttle bus will transport visitors from one event to the other.
Photos courtesy of John ArmatoFrom left to right, Assistant Manager Stephanie, Store Manager Bob, and Assistant Manager Nick. Bob
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Donations to the Pottstown School District are busting out all over.
Once again, the Pottstown Rotary Club has delivered|
brand new dictionaries to every fourth grader
in the Pottstown School District.
|Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez and|
Community Relations Director John Armato
unload school supplies donated by PMMC.
The Pottstown Regional Public Library has begun its end of year appeal for funds.
You can donate online by clicking right here.
The library gets public funding, at varying levels, from the borough and the three surrounding townships of Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove and West Pottsgrove.
|Cutting the ribbon on the interior renovations.|
It also gets funding from the state, funding that has not been increased in years, but is under constant threat of being decreased.
Nevertheless, through grants, fundraising events and donations, the library just last December completed a $755,000 renovation to the interior of the historic building that was once Pottstown's Post Office.
More than 1,200 people attended the library's
solar eclipse program last month.
If you, by chance, think libraries are obsolete in the age of Internet wisdom, consider that the solar eclipse program last month at the library was its largest event ever, with more than 1,200 people, who made eclipse T-shirts and received 450 free eclipse glasses.
You might say it "eclipsed" all previous events .... sorry, couldn't resist.
Who are the people coming to the Pottstown Regional Public Library?A preschooler attending story time
Pottstown Schools students use the library regularly.
These people, and many more like them, are using the Pottstown Regional Public Library for educational, recreational, social, financial, and professional reasons.
With your library card you have access to a wealth of materials and resources, both in the Library and through the Library website. Since 1921, the Pottstown Regional Public Library has existed to meet the needs of our community. This goal is not possible without your support.
Pottstown Regional Public Library is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Financial support from patrons, businesses, and foundations is essential. The library would welcome a donation to the 2017 year-end campaign, which will provide much-needed support for services and programs.The Pottstown Regional Public Library is even a place where you can make contact with your Congressman. On the first and third Thursday of every month, either U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., or someone from his office holds office hours at the library from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
If you need more information about what the library offers, check this out:
Available at Pottstown Regional Public Library:
|The library often hosts Science in the Summer.|
Hours of Operation:
|Pottsgrove High School Principal William Ziegler, left, meets with Lance Rougeux, vice president for learning Communities and Innovation at the Discovery Education Network, during a conference at the University of California in San Diego this summer.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.
William Ziegler, principal at Pottsgrove High School, and Dave Ramage, former Principal at Pottsgrove Middle School in Pottsgrove School District, recently joined more than 50 fellow principals from around the world for the 2017 DEN Summer Institute Principal Summit.
In March, Ramage was named Pottsgrove's Director of Integration for Learning and Instruction.
The summit is an immersive, four day-long professional development and networking experience. A global community of education professionals supported by Discovery Education, the Discovery Educator Network connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing, and inspiration.
David Ramage, former principal at Pottsgrove Middle School, left, |
greets Lance Rougeux with the Discovery Education
Network during a conference in San Diego.
During the DENSI Principal, Ziegler and Ramage learned new strategies for using technology and digital content to energize their leadership and empower their teachers from Discovery Education experts and their peers. In addition, participants engaged in dialogue on topics such as supporting teachers through the digital transition, digital literacy across the curriculums, building their school’s brand, and how to showcase their school’s success to the community.
“Bill and Dave’s selection for the DENSI Principal Summit demonstrates their outstanding leadership and commitment using the latest technologies and innovative teaching strategies and techniques to improve student achievement,” said Lance Rougeux, vice president of learning communities and innovation for Discovery Education. “Their participation in DENSI 2017 will help increase student engagement across Pottsgrove School District, and support their district’s effort to prepare all learners with the critical skills they need to succeed beyond the classroom.”
After participating in the DENSI Principal Summit, Ziegler and Ramage have returned to Pottsgrove School District with new strategies and techniques they can share with their teachers to integrate digital resources into curriculum and instruction to transform teaching and learning.