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Articles on this Page
- 10/30/17--21:00: _Education Foundatio...
- 10/31/17--21:00: _Speaker to Outline ...
- 11/01/17--21:00: _$1.3M From Reserves...
- 11/02/17--21:00: _Could Referendum Op...
- 11/03/17--21:00: _West-Mont Project W...
- 11/04/17--21:00: _High Street Haunt G...
- 11/05/17--21:00: _Annual Scenes of th...
- 11/06/17--21:00: _Of Bridges, Municip...
- 11/07/17--22:47: _Early Morning Musin...
- 11/08/17--21:00: _A Manager Decision ...
- 11/09/17--21:00: _Lower Pottsgrove Po...
- 11/10/17--21:00: _Pottstown Public Li...
- 11/11/17--21:00: _Costello Co-Sponsor...
- 11/12/17--21:00: _Foundations Help Ru...
- 11/13/17--21:00: _Pottstown Council C...
- 11/14/17--21:00: _Goals, Goodbyes and...
- 11/15/17--21:00: _West Pottsgrove Com...
- 11/16/17--21:00: _A Thanksgiving Trad...
- 11/17/17--21:00: _Children Warmed by ...
- 11/18/17--21:00: _Pottsgrove Toss You...
- 11/19/17--21:00: _Pottsgrove Manor Se...
- 11/20/17--21:00: _Polishing a Townshi...
- 11/21/17--21:00: _Thanksgiving Dinner...
- 11/22/17--21:00: _Donna Cuthbert, the...
- 11/23/17--21:00: _Coventry Singers to...
- 10/30/17--21:00: Education Foundation Announces Annual Campaign
- 10/31/17--21:00: Speaker to Outline Early History of Pottsgrove Manor
- 11/01/17--21:00: $1.3M From Reserves Balances W. Pottsgrove Budget
- 11/02/17--21:00: Could Referendum Open Door to Fair Funding?
- 11/03/17--21:00: West-Mont Project Will Warm Couple's Home
- 11/04/17--21:00: High Street Haunt Generates Art Supply Donation
- 11/05/17--21:00: Annual Scenes of the Schuylkill Art Show Now Open
- 11/06/17--21:00: Of Bridges, Municipal Garages and Basketball Nets
- 11/07/17--22:47: Early Morning Musings on Election Night, 2017
- 11/08/17--21:00: A Manager Decision Delayed, 18% Tax Hike Looms
- 11/09/17--21:00: Lower Pottsgrove Pondering 7.4% Tax Hike for 2018
- 11/10/17--21:00: Pottstown Public Library Announces New Director
- 11/12/17--21:00: Foundations Help Rupert Students Learn the Ropes
- 11/13/17--21:00: Pottstown Council Caps 2018 Tax Hike at 18.61 %
- 11/14/17--21:00: Goals, Goodbyes and Tax Caps in Pottsgrove
- 11/15/17--21:00: West Pottsgrove Commissioner Gentile Resigns
- 11/16/17--21:00: A Thanksgiving Tradition Lost, Salary Hikes Delayed
- 11/17/17--21:00: Children Warmed by Generosity of Exelon Employees
- 11/18/17--21:00: Pottsgrove Toss Your Turkey 5K Set for Nov. 23
- 11/19/17--21:00: Pottsgrove Manor Sets 12th Night, Candlelight Tours
- 11/20/17--21:00: Polishing a Township Jewel in Upper Pottsgrove
- 11/21/17--21:00: Thanksgiving Dinner Provided for 200 Area Families
- 11/22/17--21:00: Donna Cuthbert, the Unexpected Environmentalist
- 11/23/17--21:00: Coventry Singers to Perform 'Songs of the Season'
For the first time in the 33-year history of the Foundation for Pottstown Education, an Annual Support Campaign is being formalized. The goal of this year’s campaign is to not only raise $75,000 but also to raise awareness of what the Foundation does for the students of the Pottstown School District.
“Supporting the Foundation’s Annual Support Campaign is making an investment in our children, their education, and their future. We are committed to providing the children of Pottstown with opportunities where they can explore, learn, and achieve," said Tracey Brown, President of the Foundation.
The Foundation’s ission is to support, promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the Pottstown School District. During the past several years the Foundation has funded requests that are submitted by the School District teachers and principals.
Recently more than 90 high school students received partial funding to take the yearly AP tests after state funding was cut.
|Joe Rusiewicz is executive director of the foundation.|
The Foundation also provided more than $28,000 in scholarships awarded annually not only to graduating seniors but to the elementary and middle school students who are recognized for outstanding achievement.
The Annual Support Campaign has been developed to ensure not only continuation of the projects already funded but in the hopes of creating more funding reaching all students in the school district.
Joe Rusiewicz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Pottstown Education is working with the board and community leaders to develop the Executive Committee for the campaign.
|Art Green will chair the campaign|
The campaign is in the quiet phase, the initial phase raising funds internally from the Foundation Board of Directors, the School District and the School District Board of Education. The public phase of the campaign will begin in November with the Alumni, in December with Businesses and the final phase will be held with the public in January and February.
Visit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the Foundation for Pottstown Education as well as following FPE on Facebook and Twitter.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor.
Join historian Dan Graham and uncover the story of the land between the time of William Penn to John Potts during this lecture at Pottsgrove Manor on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m..
More than 70 years passed from the time William Penn received the charter for Pennsylvania in 1681 to when John Potts began constructing his manor home in 1752.
Additionally, visitors can take guided tours of the manor and learn more about the Potts family and household through our current exhibit “Rise and Shine at the Manor.” Our Museum Shop is also open and full of unique gifts, 18th century replicas, books, and more!
This program welcomes all ages, and there is a suggested $2 donation per person for this event.
Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422 near the Carousel at Pottsgrove and Manatawny Green Miniature Golf Course, in Pottstown.
For more information, call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.
Photo by Evan Brandt
From left, West Pottsgrove Police officer Robert Radswallas, Det. Tim Roedner and Chief Matthew Stofflet.
Two West Pottsgrove Police officers and their chief were recognized Wednesday night by the Montgomery County Crisis Team for the role they played as part of the Western Montgomery SWAT team that dealt with a five-hour stand-off with an armed subject in Limerick in January in which no one was hurt.
Officers from each municipality involved in the SWAT team have been recognized at their respective municipal meetings throughout the year.
Police were recognized in another way Wednesday night, when the reading of the proposed $3,069,414 budget for 2018 included an $105,842 increase in the police budget, which now stands at $1,455,531, according to Township Manager Craig Lloyd.
An 18 percent increase in heath insurance costs for the coming year means a hike of $57,000, $36,000 of which is attributable to the police department.
Other costs, which Police Chief Matthew Stofflet chalked up to one new police cruiser and "the increasing cost of operations," includes a 2.5 percent raise for police personnel.
That comes on top of a 2.5 percent increase least year and a 3.5 percent coming in 2019, according to Lloyd.
With only $450,000 coming in from real estate taxes and another $448,000 from other taxes, balancing the budget without a tax increase will require pulling $1,367,079 from the reserves built up from host fees paid over years from the operation of the Pottstown Landfill which, despite the name, was never located in Pottstown proper.
This year's withdrawal is $80,000 than the $1.4 million required last year to balance the 2017 budget.
It must be nice to have a huge bank account created by imposing environmental risks on your neighbors.
One of these days, West Pottsgrove may have to learn to live within its means.
Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.
So I think I get it.
The referendum question on the ballot next Tuesday is property tax reform in little pieces.
Unable to agree on a complete package that would replace the revenue from property taxes with something that didn't look like they might be raising state taxes, the members of the nation's second-largest, second-most expensive legislature punted.
But that's not necessarily all bad.
The Constitutional restriction against just offering relief to homeowners and farmers was a real-life legal hurdle and made the whole thing more difficult to pull off.
|There were some dubious and, as always, |
angry people at yesterday's forum.
That might be more doable in a statewide basis.
Also, it would allow school districts (and borough's, townships and counties) to still have the stability of property tax revenues on commercial properties.
Now granted, the open-ended nature of what happens next if this is approved is certainly worrisome, given that it would be in the hands of people who can't pass an annual budget on time.
And you can't really blame Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez for calling it "smoke and mirrors," when the very real problem of school funding and opportunity by zip code remains largely unaddressed.
And he's right to say so.
The potential for shenanigans on this thing in Harrisburg, with this open-ended authority, is certainly very real.
After all, the General Assembly has a history of dumping problems downhill to avoid looking like they're raising taxes -- particularly education funding problems.
State Rep. David Maloney, left, is the prime sponsor of the legislation
which brings this referendum to a voting booth near you Nov. 7.
But consider this.
The legislature enacted the fair-funding formula then cheaped out on implementing it in full because
"it would be too much change too fast."
But what if the money coming from Harrisburg to replace the lost property tax revenue were to be distributed through the fair funding formula?
I mean, they're changing the whole system anyway. Isn't it the perfect opportunity to implement the formula in full?
I recognize, it's unlikely.
I mean after all this is Pennsylvania. We're not exactly a "can do" state.
And there are probably 100 obstacles I haven't thought of that would prevent it,
But still, it is a tantalizing thought and wouldn't it be easier to lobby for since its a major change being implemented already?
It's food for thought if this passes.
In the meantime, if you want to get confused, try following the Tweets from yesterday's forum which was supposed to explain it all..
The students that participated in this project were (left to right back): Logan Westlake, Brooke Bowman, Jasmine Bowman, Kyle Yensan, Josh Maurer, and (front) Rebekah O'Neal.
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by West-Mont Christian Academy.
West-Mont Christian Academy's 8A (8th Grade - Section A) Bible Class recently completed a wood-cutting service project for an older couple from Perkiomenville.
The 8th Grade class found out about the need Bob and Lori had through their Bible teacher, Phil Bowman, and agreed that they would work together as a class to help this couple in need.
Most of the kids had never been exposed to cutting wood before and were quick to learn the true meaning of hard work.
One student was heard saying "I've never worked this hard in my life!". The students were impressed with this couple's hardy lifestyle and their sacrifice in trading in modern heating styles, for a more primitive and economical approach.
Bob and Lori Meyers were grateful beyond words for the work the students did for them. Bob explained to the kids at the end of the day that they accomplished way more than he ever expected and he and his wife were extremely thankful for each one of them.
Even though the students said it was a lot of hard work, they all agreed that it was well worth their time and effort. They had a great time working together to help this couple, and as kids do, still found plenty of opportunities for laughter and fun amidst the labor and sweat they poured into their project.
All Middle Schoolers at West-Mont Christian Academy are required to complete a service project, known as their "James Project" for each of the four semesters during their school year.
keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
To learn more about West-Mont Christian Academy, visit www.west-mont.org.
It took just four hours for the volunteers at this year's Haunts on High on Oct. 14 to collect a table-full of art supplies for Pottstown Schools.
Volunteers from the Pottstown Community Arts organization collected art supplies from attendees to donate to PEAK’s PA Pre-K Counts classrooms.
“Sometimes art is viewed as a luxury but they are vital supplies for an early learning program,” said Audra Ross, Public Relations Director for Pottstown Community Arts. “Art activities are the building blocks of child development. When we found out the PEAK teachers were in need of those supplies (from Erika of ArtFusion), we knew we had to help.”
The supplies were donated on Friday, Oct. 27. PEAK Coordinator, Valerie Jackson and Community Engagement Coordinator, Michilea Patterson were greeted with several boxes of crayons, markers, colorful construction paper, glue, and much more when they arrived at the Pottstown Community Arts space in the Coventry Mall where they were painting a mural.
“The mural is being painted in a community room next to Hallmark, across from the food court and The Coventry Mall is gifting the space” said Marie Haigh, Founder and President of Pottstown Community Arts. “The mural is the first of six that our group will paint for the Pottstown Regional Public Library. It will go on the Topos Mondial Corporation building behind the library.”
“Pottstown Arts' generosity is a fine example of the importance in community collaborations and relationships,” said Jackson. “With PEAK being mostly grant funded, these donations will be a big help in providing needed resources for our children. I am very thankful for the kind donations and the hard work that went into the art supply drive which will help our children creatively express themselves through various mediums.”
|Honorable Mention: Festival, watercolor by Lori Quinque Quinn|
For 14 years, the Annual Scenes of the Schuylkill Art Show and Sale has provided a platform for regional artists whose work depicts the beauty and character of the Schuylkill River valley. Over that time, it has developed a following in the art community, and grown to attract numerous talented artists who work in a variety of mediums and styles.
Hosted by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area in partnership with Montgomery County Community College, the juried exhibit will hang from now to Dec. 17 at the college’s West Campus Gallery at 16 West High St. in Pottstown.
|Honorable Mention: Pine Woods Trail, |
oil by Russell Slocum
McCay selected three winning entries and four honorable mentions. Shamarukh N. Billah earned Best of Show for her oil on gesso board painting “Abandoned Church Building”. That award came with a cash prize of $300. The second place award went to Veronika Berry for her collage “Great Blue Heron on the Schuylkill River,” and Steven J. White took third place for his river watercolor scene, "Essence." Berry and White were awarded $200 and $100, respectively.
|Best of Show: Listening Woods, |
oil, by Helen Mirkil
The four honorable mentions included two for photography and two for paintings. In the photography category, the awards went to Walt Hug, for his sunset image “Looking Back,” and to Kevin Bennett for his bridge photo “Good Morning Manayunk!”
The other honorable mentions were awarded to Jean Plough for her acrylic “Market Street Bridge,” and to Merrill Webber for her watercolor of paddlers on the river, “Sojourn.”
In addition, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area staff selected a Staff’s Choice award that went to Betz Green for her oil on board “Prophecy Creek Park—First Frost.” Honorable mentions and staff choice all receive $50 awards. All winners also will be given gift certificates to North Penn Art, in addition to the cash prizes.
|Staff Choice: Wissahickon in the Fall, |
watercolor, by Susannah Hart Thomer
Most works in the show are available for sale, and a portion of all proceeds benefits the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.
|2nd Place: Memento Mori,oil on wood by, Jonathan Bond|
The show is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are: Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and new Saturday hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Who can blame Supervisors Chairman Anthony Kuklinski for making sure Monday's board of supervisors meeting was short and sweet?
Not only is he unopposed for his reelection bid today, but Monday was also his birthday; and he's a new grandfather, so he had lots of reason to get home quickly.
So it was a quick meeting. Evidently the construction of the new public works facility on Municipal Drive will be 95 percent complete by next week.
The county is going to take a look at replacing or repairing a small bridge on Gilbertsville Road, no decisions yet, according to engineer Josh Hagadorn.
Andrew Duncan reported that Montgomery County is also going to host a kind of emergency services summit on Dec. 8 where the looming shortage of paramedics will be discussed.
And then there are the basketball nets over the streets. When the leaf-collecting truck comes around, they will be in the way and can cause damage to the truck.
Duncan things a township ordinance is needed, but in the meantime, police will send out letters like they did last year to have the nets taken town.
Other than that, here are the Tweets.
What are called "off-year" elections, are very much on years for local journalists.
And despite the fact that it is 1:30 a.m. and I have written 13 election stories in the past few hours, I thought I might share a few thoughts.
First, look how much your vote counts in local elections.
By our calculations, candidates won by single digit results i several races, with votes as few as two making the difference Tuesday night.
We'll see if they survive any challenges, but the election of Democrat Tyrone Robinson in Upper Pottsgrove by a two-vote margin is about as close as it gets.
The race for Birdsboro mayor was decided by seven votes.
In Pottsgrove, incumbent Rick Rabinowitz lost his seat on the Pottsgrove School Board by 16 votes.
I will be sorry to see him go.
He's a good board member, does his research, asks good questions and challenges the administration when he thinks he should.
He surely lost votes in the primary because of his role in the dispute about prayer at graduation last year, but although it was handled a bit clumsily, he was right from a legal standpoint. He took a stand for the right thing and paid a pretty stiff price.
For all the same reasons, I will also be sorry to see Tom Hylton leave the Pottstown School Board.
This was not a good year to run as a Republican in most boroughs.
But Hylton is no more a Republican than a Democrat. He is a unique individual with a unique perspective, and if you can get past the quirks, he brings a thoughtful (and forceful) point of view to a school board that could use some more of that.
Speaking of running as a Republican, I would be remiss if I did not observe that Democrats made big gains in local elections this year in what I think has to, in some part, be chalked up to disaffection with President Donald Trump.
In the region's more diverse boroughs -- like Pottstown and Phoenixville -- Democrats won all the seats. And in Chester County, for the first time since the 1700s, they won a bunch of county-wide row offices as well.
Even in the Republican bastion of the Owen J. Roberts School District, two Democrats won seats on the school board -- albeit by slim margins, but let's not forget, this is OJR.
And in Boyertown School District, where a Trump-like approach was adopted by some advocates for one slate of candidates, those candidates lost two out of four races.
This whole democracy thing continues to be pretty interesting.
Here are some Tweets from election day.
It was presentation-central at Pottstown Borough Council last night and I don't mind telling you that after being up until 3 a.m. putting election returns together, it was NOT appreciated.
In addition to staff awards, and a terminally boring presentation about cyber parking (see below), we also endured a presentation about next year's bike race as well as a project by the Greater Pottstown Tennis and Learning organization that will get refurbished tennis courts at Maple Street Park.
Don't get me wrong, all worthy causes, but my level of personal endurance was worn pretty thin by the time they were all done.
But enough about me.
The two important things that happened last night were updates.
Apparently, council is going to agree to appoint an interim borough manager after Mark Flanders retires next month to allow for a full-fledged search.
(I hope you're ready Justin Keller.)
The other is that pesky budget which in September had a deficit big enough to drive a 23 percent tax hike. At the time, nine of the borough's funds were not balanced.
Last night Flanders reported all but the general fund and fire fund are now in balance.
But those combined deficits still add up to to a gap of $1,417,049 said Flanders.
To close it with taxes would require a tax hike of 18.39 percent, or a millage increase of 1.902 mills.
For median property assessment in the borough -- $85,000 which covers about 80 percent of the property in town -- that works out to an annual tax hike of $161.67
The alternative is to cut costs. The budget could be balanced by firing 13 police officers, Flanders said.
That idea wasn't flying with Ryan Procsal, the recently reelected councilman from the First Ward. He said crime is down for the third straight year due to police efforts and it would not be "clean savings" to balance the budget and see an increase in crime.
Vice President Sheryl Miller also opposed it, and said she continues to insist that savings can be achieved by making the borough more efficient, before talking about cuts to services and personnel.
Council President Dan Weand, himself just reelected, said he had given other council members a week to come up with suggestions. Presumably we will hear some Monday.
"It is not my place to decide which services to cut. Give me the direction and I will figure it out," Flanders told council.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting
Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners Wednesday night approved a tentative $6.4 million 2018 budget that would raise taxes by 7.4 percent if adopted next month without change.
The tentative budget's $6,3267,371 in spending represents a 2.4 percent increase in spending over the 2017 amount of $6,175,765.
But the tax increase can be attributed to one single item, the commissioners' desire to create a capital reserve fund, a saving account for major projects, said Township Manager Ed Wagner.
The .25 millage increase is dedicated entirely to that fund, he said.
According to Montgomery County's list of all millage rates, Lower Pottsgrove's is currently 3.368 mills. So a .25 millage increase for the capital reserve tax brings the total to 3.618 mills, or an increase of 7.42 percent.
Wagner said there has been no major project in the past year that has brought this need to the front of the commissioners' table. "We're just trying to be prudent and plan ahead," he said.
For the average property owner, whose assessment is $125,000, it means an increase of $31.25 on the 2018 property tax bill.
The commissioners voted unanimously to advertise the budget and make it available to the public for a minimum of 30 days. Final adoption does not take place until December.
The blue area is currently Pennsylvania American Water's
franchise area. The tan area shows the proposed expansion
When pressure tests were done, it became evident that the Pottstown Borough Authority system could not provide enough water pressure to- run sprinkler systems and meet other water needs.
The commissioners did not have the final word. That rests with the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission, a process which could take some time, said Sanatoga Green developer Ted Draushcak
|Michelle Kehoe, right is the new executive director of the Pottstown Regional Public Library. She is pictured here with Lisa Kraljevich, the library's youth director since March.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Regional Public Library.
Michelle’s background includes an impressive list of experience as Township Manager at Union Township; Library Director at Wernersville Public Library in Wernersville and Library Manager and Children’s Library Coordinator at Boone Area Library in Birdsboro.
Michelle received a BA in History and Art History from Lycoming College, certification as a Library Technical Director from Northhampton Community College, and a MS in Library Science from Clarion University.
Michelle is notable for her ability to bring together the many stakeholders in a modern library, including elected officials; state, county and municipal offices; donors; patrons; media; and foundations or other sources of grants.
The retiring Executive Director, Susan Davis, who has been with the Library since 2012 said, “I am thrilled to be able to leave the Library in Michelle’s care, who I know will be able to take it well into the future.”
Please join the Board of Directors in congratulating Michelle on her new position. Stop in at the library to meet Michelle, and to see the extensive renovations completed, including new carpeting installed this month in the Youth Department.
U.S. Representatives Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., Jackie Speier (D-CA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), and Robert Brady (D-PA) have introduced the Congressional Education About Sexual Harassment Eradication Resolution (CEASE) Resolution.
This bipartisan resolution will require Members of the House, congressional staff, and other employees of the House to complete sexual harassment prevention and response training annually, and then provide a certification of completion with the House Committee on Ethics.
“The Congressional Office of Compliance process is shockingly biased in favor of the perpetrator. This legislation is the first step to fix this abusive process,” Speier said. “It’s long past time that Congress held itself to the same standards applied to other branches of government and to the private sector.”
“Required training for Members and staff on sexual harassment prevention should be quickly adopted by the House,” Brady said. I applaud Representative Speier’s leadership on this issue, and this resolution is a necessary first step.”
“It is fundamental to an employee’s safety for he or she to always feel comfortable at their workplace, and it’s past time Capitol Hill move in that direction,” Poliquin said.
“In Congress, we set the laws and the policies for employees in the Executive Branch requiring federal workers to undergo sexual harassment awareness training. How can we be expected to lead on those policies when we, ourselves, are so far behind? There can be no tolerance of any kind for sexual harassment anywhere—period.”
From left, Chuck Gulati, students Sam Heater, Patience Cole, Austin Hampton, Cianne Wells and Rupert Elementary Principal Matt Moyer
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.
Through a donation from the Gulati Family Foundation to the Foundation for Pottstown Education, the Rupert Fourth Grade visited the brand new low ropes course at Althouse Arboretum in Upper Pottsgrove.
The low ropes course is designed to encourage leadership, expand communication skills, promote self-discovery, and increase self-esteem.
Chuck Gulati, member of the Gulati Family Foundation Board and President of Gatsby’s and Stokesay Castle stated that this project fit with their Foundation’s mission of giving to educational institutions at every level, from early childhood through graduate school. When he found out the need for funding of field trips, Gulati indicated his desire to help and placed the request to the Foundation Board for approval.
Rupert Elementary Principal, Matt Moyer had made the request of the Foundation for Pottstown Education to enable the fourth grade students to take this course. Moyer stated that the low ropes course would meet the requirements of the STEAM funding provided by the Education Foundation.
The fourth grade students sent both of the foundations handmade cards of thanks, Many of the students indicated that they learned how to listen and communicate with their friends, how to trust others, and that they had fun.
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.
Pottsgrove School District Business Manager once told that school board that "no one remembers a zero tax hike the next year."
That piece of wisdom may now become relevant to Pottstown Borough Council which, in past years, has passed zero tax hikes by raiding its reserves and now finds itself facing a double digit tax hike of 18.61 percent.
In fact, without scheduling any further budget meetings, council last night adopted a preliminary budget at a "not to exceed" tax hike of 18.61 percent for 2018.
"I can't believe we sat up here and passed a budget not to exceed 18 percent. I'm shocked, just cannot believe it," said Councilman Dennis Arms. He and Council Vice President Sheryl Miller cast the only no votes.
Here are the Tweets.
|Pottsgrove Superintendent William Shirk.|
But to their credit, the school board took to the bit in their teeth and pushed ahead and we were done by 9:30ish.
Board President Matt Alexander thanked Diane Cherico and Rick Rabinowitz, who will be leaving at the next meeting, for their service.
Cherico opted not to run for another term, and Rabinowitz lost his bid for a second term by a mere 16 votes, according to unofficial results.
Both thanked fellow board members and the administration, and their families, for their perseverance.
The district also received a "clean" audit report on the district's finances, and Dave Nester and his team in the business office were singled out as being very good at their jobs.
Superintendent William Shirk outlined his goals for the coming year and his plan of action for achieving them.
You can find the details by clicking here.
In broad-brush terms, they are:
1. To increase student achievement
2. To improve professional development
3. To balance the 2018-19 budget while maintaining the integrity of classroom instructional programs and co-curricular activities4. To provide timely, relevant communication to each stakeholder group,
Also significant, was the board's vote to pass a resolution agreeing to cap any tax hike next year at the state-imposed index of 3.2 percent.
That does not mean that's how much taxes will go up with the next budget, only that any increase will not exceed that number.
And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting ...
Photos by Evan Brandt
West Pottsgrove Commissioners Vice Chairman Thomas Palladino, left, presents a plaque to Commissioner Dominic Gentile, whose resignation was announced during Wednesday's meeting.
The resignation of West Pottsgrove Township Commissioner Dominic Gentile was announced during Wednesday night's extremely brief workshop meeting.
The meeting lasted only eight minutes, and was absent two commissioners and the township manager, but it was long enough for Vice Chairman Thomas Palladino to read Gentile's letter of resignation.
You can hear it here:
If you're not much for video, in his letter, Gentile wrote that "at this time it appears to be necessary to reside near family. This will take us to Florida."
He thanked those in the township for all he has learned, and wrote "my wishes for the township are for both prosperity and harmony."
"I shall also miss the very pleasant place where I live," he concluded.
Gentile's resignation does not become effective until Nov. 30.
|Gentile enjoyed his cake.|
That means the commissioners have 30 days from then to appoint a replacement.
There are still two years left on Gentile's term, so whomever is appointed will fill the remainder of that term.
Palladino said the township is asking those interested in being appointed to replace Gentile to submit their names in writing, preferably accompanied by a letter outlining the applicants skill set and why they would make a good township commissioner, to the township building at 980 Grosstown Road.
|Gentile's cake highlighted his love of fishing.|
This reporter, who is (vainly) trying to watch his weight as the holidays approach, held firm in declining the sweets....
Here are the few Tweets from the eight-minute meeting ...
Anyone who lives in either Pottstown or the Owen J. Roberts school districts who does not know about that this year's Thanksgiving Day game between the two teams -- its 59th -- just hasn't been paying attention.
After the story was broken by intrepid Mercury Sports Assistant Editor Sam Stewart last week, it got its official airing at last night's school board meeting.
Steve Anspach, Pottstown's director of co-curricular activities, explained that changes in PIAA rules have made it much more difficult to schedule an additional game on Thanksgiving, and also cuts into the ability of football players who also- play a winter sport to to-in their practices on time.
Jeff Moses, who was among six OJR fans in the audience, disputed some of Anspach's reasoning and
|Jeff Moses argued there are ways for the tradition to continue.|
And outgoing board member Polly Weand, never one to miss an opportunity to put the focus on her, said she was being accosted at the supermarket by people upset by the change, calling it "a bolt from the blue."
Several other board members noted that Anspach had warned them of the possibility that the change could cause a problem as early as last year.
Weand argued that because the matter was brought up in committee, the full board should have voted on it. However, other board members said while they regretted the end of the era, they did not want to start micro-managing the athletic department and get involved in game scheduling.
They agreed with solicitor Stephen Kalis that the board should only vote when the athletic committee had made a recommendation.
The committee system, and Weand's problems with it, were also front and center for the other newsworthy item of the evening.
Three months ago, the board debated, and failed to decide, on raises for the mid-level administrators of the district. It was referred back to the finance and personnel committee where it essentially sat for three months.
Weand said one month it wasn't even discussed and to think the committee would ever reach consensus on it was unrealistic. Instead, she said the full board should vote tonight, given that it was the last voting meeting with outgoing board and they had the experience and knowledge to make the decision.
But even board members Like Ron Weand, who agreed with Weand that the district could not afford more raises, said they would not work outside the committee system.
"This is like a lame-duck vote for me," said Kim Stilwell, whose term expires at the end of the month. "I am not going to saddle the next board with this expense."
"If we're not going to vote tonight, at least people will know I) tried," said Weand, not without some melodrama.
She then presented the district with a parting gift -- literally.
In going through her mother's attic, she came across a photo of the Pottstown Class of 1935, which included her father, and presented it to the high school.
Here are the Tweets from the meeting:
|Barth Elementary staff and students with some of the winter coats being donated by employees Exelon's Limerick Generating Station through Operation Warm.|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.
Many Pottstown School District students do not have access to necessary winter apparel, but thanks to a local company, they have the winter coats that they need.
“I’ve been working with Operation Warm to supply coats to families on behalf of Exelon Limerick Generating Station for the past five years,” said Donna Christman. “It’s a very rewarding experience to see the smiles on the children's faces when they receive their coats for the winter.”
School principals and staff appreciate that their students are equipped with warm enough clothing, and the students show gratitude.
Pottsgrove High School Cross Country will present the 7th Annual Toss Your Turkey 5K on Thursday, Nov. 23, starting at 8:30 a.m.
Online Registration: is at www.Runtheday.com
Long-sleeve tech shirts will be provided to the first 500 registrants.
The race, which is chip-timed, offers cash prizes to the first and second male and female.
A one-mile "family run" will be held at 9:10 a.m.
The race begins at Montgomery County Community College, 101 College Drive, Pottstown, PA.
Day of registration and day of packet pick up starts at 7 a.m.
|Yes, you can literally toss a turkey at this race.|
provided) from 7 until 8:20.
Male and female who tosses his/her turkey the farthest AND runs the 5k will win Saucony shoes from Chester County Running Store
AWARDS: Overall male/female winner receives $100, second place $50.
The course is very flat, wheel-measured 5K loop (80% of race on Schuylkill River Trail)
ENTRY: $25 postmarked (or on-line) by Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. After this and race day the cost: $30.
Pre-Registered Group/Family Rate: 5 entries for $100 and $20 for each additional runner. Must be mailed in one envelope. Group/Family rates are also available to on-line entries.
Sly Fox Track Club members: special $20 pre-registered.
There is also a Kids 1 mile Fun Run for free.
Make checks payable to “Pottsgrove Cross Country” and mail them to Larry Rechtin, Pottsgrove High School, 1345 Kauffman Rd, Pottstown, PA 19464 or email to: email@example.com
Top Male and Female Age Groups: (Top 3 12 and under will receive trophies)
All other groups receive awards listed below:
13-15, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor.
Pottsgrove Manor announces the opening of its holiday tour, Twelfth Night, which begins on Nov. 24, and will continue through to Jan. 6 during normal museum hours.
A special tour occurs on Dec. 10, when the annual yuletide event, “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight,” is held from 2 to 8 p.m.
Visitors of all ages are invited to tour Pottsgrove Manor during a special holiday event where living history interpreters will bring a celebration of Twelfth Night to life.
Children can also make a holly craft they can take home to bring a sense of history and as a reminder of this special night. Refreshments featuring colonial-style treats are also available at the end of the tour.
A donation of $2 per person is suggested for this event.
For nearly two months, the manor will be decorated with holly and greenery to celebrate the winter season as lavish dessert displays alongside party games and activities will transport visitors back to the 18th century.
Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422.
Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.
Photos by Evan Brandt
A graph on the wall of the township meeting room shows where most of your tax dollars go.
At this time of year, I am obligated to reported first on the township's proposed $4 million budget, which calls for no tax increase over the current millage.
Adding to that good news, is the fact that the township is creating an "operational reserve" to the tune of $600,000 funded entirely with contributions from developers from projects dating all the way back to 2003.
The biggest is $390,000 that is available thanks to an agreement that ended a challenge to the township's zoning ordinance and ultimately involved the school board for a project once called "Crossroads."
The townhomes along Route 100 were first proposed by developer Richard Mingey but ultimately passed into ownership a non-profit building housing for working class incomes.
Part of that agreement requirement "contributions" to the township when permits were finally pulled for the long-delayed project.
Retiring Public Works employee Larry Kuser, left,. receives
a plaque recognizing 27 years of service from Elwood Taylor.
Also of note at the meeting was the recognition of Larry Kuser, a public works employee who is retiring after 27 years with Upper Pottsgrove. He received a plaque from Commissioners Chairman Elwood Taylor, but declined to make a fuss. "I don't do speeches," he said.
Which brings us to the jewel that got polished Monday night.
As part of its charter, Althouse Arboretum director Ken Hamilton must deliver an annual report to the commissioners on the open space property Commissioner Herb Miller is fond of calling "a jewel in Upper Pottsgrove."
Hamilton delivered some starting and encouraging statistics about the use the 17-acre parcel.
He said the arboretum is run in partnership with an organization called Green Allies and has benefited from the services of nearly 400 volunteers.
Taking an informal census of users brings Hamilton to the conclusion that the property is used by an average of 23 people per day, or 6,343 people who simply walk the trails.
Upper Pottsgrove Commissioner Herb Miller, left,
introduces Ken Hamilton, director of Althouse Arboretum.
In three years, the arboretum has hosted 2,300 elementary students and about 20,000 visitors.
New this year, and already the most-popular is a children's forest trail and a children's wildlife viewing platform is already under constructions.
Two hundred Pottstown-area families will have a full Thanksgiving meal this year, thanks to YWCA Tri-County Area and Exelon Generating Station.
Exelon donated funds to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for families whose children attend YWCA’s Early Education Center.
Exelon also contributed to Operation Warm, which provides warm winter coats to children at the Early Education Center. Children received their new coats earlier this week.
YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, works to eliminate racism, and empowers women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.
|Donna Cuthbert, center, with blog post author Susan Burke, right|
and physicist Ernest Sternglass.
When I first met Donna Cuthbert, it was at her house. We went downstairs into the Alliance for a Clean Environment office, filled with notebooks labelled and organized like a library.
Donna and I sat and spoke at her desk. Her granddaughter came in briefly, and Donna took the time to talk with her too.
Then we walked into the next room. I saw it. Hanging on the wall, actually encompassing the entire wall, was a map. A HUGE MAP! This map was of the Greater Pottstown area and was covered in colored dots. Each dot represented a person – a person (adult or child) who had cancer.
I was in shock. The dots formed circles and lines and there were too many of them to fully comprehend the gravity of the disease’s impact on the community. Our friendship began there, and never stopped.
We shared a passion for clothing, and we each appreciated the other’s style. We shared a love of children and family and hard work. We shared the determination to get to the truth. Truth was key.
There was no stopping now. I sat back down with Donna, and I asked her what her dream was – what SHE hoped to accomplish most. Without skipping a breath, she said “closing the Landfill.”
The Pottstown Landfill in West Pottsgrove represented a massive reservoir of contamination. The smell could be noticed traveling down Route 100. Facts from official documents showed dumping of waste from other countries, and even radioactive waste. Then Donna said “but this will never happen.”
But Donna proved her own words wrong. It did happen, and I know that she is at the heart of the Landfill closure.
Donna also knew of the heavily toxic chemicals that were across town at the OxyChem plant. At times, people reported a yellow film that covered their cars, and they would call ACE for information about this toxic film. Donna’s research continued.
Donna’s wish of a healthier Pottstown was progressing. However, these toxins linger and remain in food, water, and people for decades. No one knows the true impact of these polluters.
I recall Donna collecting children’s teeth for the baby tooth study. The teeth were tested for Strontium-90, a chemical produced only in atomic bomb tests and nuclear reactors. Teeth from the tri-county area had the highest average Strontium-90 concentration of any of the six nuclear plant areas studied, a precursor of cancer later in life.
I remember when renowned physicist Dr. Ernest Sternglass came to Pottstown to help with the tooth project. He stayed with the Cuthberts, and Donna and he became good friends. They spent long hours discussing the implications of radiation, and their hope for a better future.
Donna had calls flooding in from people near the Limerick nuclear plant. Not only were there multiple cancers reported around the plant, but other strange events, which Donna documented in Letters of the Editor, and on ACE’s show.
She lived a healthy life, using essential oils and natural remedies in her own home. Just this past summer, for my birthday, Donna made me my own essential oil kit. Every time I smell my oils, I think of Donna.
Many may remember her from her family clothing shop, Madaras, in Stowe, and many may remember her from school board meetings in Pottsgrove. Words do not describe fully what Donna contributed to her family and the Pottstown area, but here are just a few: dedicated, honest, courageous, relentless, energetic, passionate, and humanitarian.
Even when Donna herself was not well, she never turned away a phone call from a person with questions about health or environment. She was always thinking about other people and their well-being. I miss her, and will never forget the enormous impact she made on the lives of many, including me.
|The Coventry Singers|
Blogger's Note:The following was provided by The Coventry Singers
The Coventry Singers are performing their Christmas Concert “Songs of the Season” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 in Pottstown and Birdsboro.
This concert welcomes a new director to the stand. Dan Kershetsky assumed the role of director in September of this year. Dan, a 1981 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, and a 1993 graduate of West Chester University, with a Master of Music Degree in Music Education, has spent 33 years in public education, most recently teaching in the Boyertown Area School District for 26 years.
The Coventry Singers, a choir of about 40 voices, have been performing in the Pottstown area since 1972. They have performed with the Pottstown Symphony, the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, and at Longwood Gardens Christmas Concert Series.
Performances take place Saturday Dec. 2 at 3 p.m at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown, and Sunday Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 5 Brooke Manor, Birdsboro.