Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel

Embed this content in your HTML


Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels

Channel Catalog

Channel Description:

All the news that doesn't fit in print
    0 0

    Submitted Photos
    The Pottstown High School Interact Club undertook a coat drive to keep people warm in winter.

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

    The Pottstown High School Interact Club believes in letting their actions speak for themselves. 

    The club has a long list of community and school service projects that demonstrate their commitment to others. 
    The club collected treats to give out at Halloween.
    Members conducted fundraising which enabled them to provide over 300 bags of Halloween treats for the Salvation Army, Senior Center, Operation Backpack and PEAK. 

    They provided three dozen gloves and hats to elementary students who are part of the Walking School Bus Program. 

    The club's donation of 90 items of hats,gloves,scarves and coats helped the Salvation Army keep people warm during the Winter. 

    They supported fellow students in need with bags toiletries collected during the Holidays. 

    More than 75 Veterans had a brighter Holiday after receiving a personal card from club members. 

    On Valentine's Day more than 100 high school students received a kindness note form the club. 
    Zoe Wallace and Abby Richter man the information booth at
    Sunnybrook  during the Pottstown Pottsgrove Border Battle
    Wrestling Match.

    Yearly the members support both the Pottstown CARES and PEAK Day of The Child events with a informational booth and activities for children. 

    The club has taken on the mission of raising awareness and calling for action in the fight against human trafficking. 

    The students set up fundraising events and informational tables at community events and in school. 

    Teachers Diane Fox and Diane Shoffstall sponsor the club, which is a service organization for high school students who desire to volunteer their time to aid school and community. 

    It seems there is no end to the Interact Club's activities.
    Interact is an international organization sponsored by the Pottstown Rotary Club and this month the students will make a presentation to the Rotary Club. 

    The word Interact stands for international action. The club which numbers 26 members has an impressive list of projects on which they have spent more than 300 hours working. 

    The club's officers include; Co Chairs Courteney Parry and Zoe Wallace, Maggie Onate Vice chair, Jakhaya Beckem Treasurer and Abby Richter Historian. 

    "Our students have shown a commitment to making a positive change in the world and a degree of maturity beyond their age. With young people like this taking leadership roles, our future is bright," said Fox and Shoffstall.  

    0 0

    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Matthew Fitzgerald is the newest member of the Owen J. Roberts School board , but it wasn't easy.

    Filling a vacancy on the Owen J. Roberts School Board Monday night took three hours, four votes, a non-vote and a recess.

    The vacancy was created by the unexpected death of board member James B. Frees on Feb. 1.

    Frees, who had just won another four-year term in November, was recognized by the school board,
    Superintendent Susan Lloyd, left, and School Board President 
    Melissa Booth present the family of James Frees with a resolution
    and keepsake Wildcat.
    which provided a resolution and Wildcat statue, and by state Rep. Tim Hennessey, R-26th Dist., who provided proclamations passed in both the Pennsylvania House and State.

    A total of four people applied to fill the vacancy. Two of them, Don Foy and Robert Rasmussen, had run in the November election and lost and a third, William Kleinfelter, had just finished a term on the board.

    But the eventual winner -- after a long and drawn-out process -- was Matthew Fitzgerald, a 51-year-old engineer from East Vincent Township.

    He told reporters after the meeting that he had intended to run in the next round of local elections but the death of Frees, who was a personal friend, "accelerated my timetable."

    What was not accelerated was the process by which he was chosen.

    At 6:30 p.m., all four candidates were interviewed by the board, which is to say all four spoke and all four were then asked one question -- whether they intended to run once the term is up in two years.

    (Because Frees had just been reelected, state law dictates the person chosen to replace him only holds the seat until the next municipal election, which will be in November of 2019.)

    Then, the vote on which candidate would be chosen was placed at the end of the night's agenda. This being employee and student recognition night, more than 100 people were in attendance and there were a lot of awards to give out before the board got down to business.
    The voting finally began before 9 p.m., with each board member naming the candidate of their choice.

    On the first round, Kleinfelter received one vote, Fitzgerald three, Rasmussen two and Foy two.

    So Kleinfelter was dropped from the voting and in the second round, Foy received two, Rasmussen three and Fitzgerald three.

    The board then decided to take a recess, so they could talk among themselves, so long as no more than five spoke together at once, because that would be a quorum and violate the Open Meetings Law.

    But before the recess, they decided to take public comment, which took another 20 minutes.

    Finally they returned and were deadlocked once again because board member Karel Minor declined to vote at all or, as he put, just voted no. That left Rasmussen with three and Fitzgerald with three votes each and School Board President Melissa Booth need not cast her vote.

    Finally, board member Douglas Hughes, who called Minor's action "disappointing," switched his vote from Rasmussen to Fitzgerald -- seemingly as much to get a result as anything.

    He was joined by Booth and they, along with members Pamela Clouser-White, Cathie Whitlock, Leslie Proffitt, who voted by speaker phone, and that got them to the requisite five votes.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Marybeth Torsica takes the oath of office as
    Boyertown's new assistant superintendent.
    What if you had to take the oath of office for an important new job, but everyone forgot to bring the oath?

    Or, to put it another way, what if you were Marybeth Torscia?

    Because that's what happened to her Tuesday night when, for the second time, her swearing in was on the agenda only to hit a hiccup.

    Last time, the district justice did not show up. This time, the oath of office went missing.

    Luckily, the Internet came to the rescue and, after an uncomfortable delay, Boyertown Schools, which have suffered an exodus of top-level administrators in recent months, has a new Assistant Superintendent.

    (Interviews for finding a new superintendent are reportedly ongoing.)

    But Torscia's swearing in aside, perhaps the most significant thing from last night's Boyertown School Board meeting came at the end.

    That's when, after a parent raised an issue the administration seemed intent on discussing anyway,
    Boyertown High School seniors Taylor P. Winner, left, and
    Ryan P. Hopkins, were recognized by the board Tuesday night for
    being finalists in the National Merit Scholars program.
    talk turned to the school shootings in Parkland, Florida and what school security measures Boyertown has in place .... and are they enough?

    Board Vice President Steve Elsier, who ran the meeting in the absence of President Donna Usavage, became emotional while discussing the issue and said he would like the administration to provide an update and consider possible additional measures to improve school defenses against a shooter.

    "We can't control the Second Amendment, but can control what do to keep children safe," he said.

    "There is no amount of money you can put against a life," said board member Ruth Dierolf.

    "This is a secure buildings issue, not a guns issue," said board member Clay Breece. 

    "We asked for gun-free zones and that's what we got. Anyone with a gun knows where gun-free zones are," he said, adding "We need to do something and stop talking in political circles. Can solve this as a nation."
    Boyertown School Board Vice President Steve Elsier, right, 
    congratulates phys ed teacher Darla Lieb, who teachers at 
    Gilbertsville and Colebrookdale schools. She's been named the 
    Teacher of the Year by the Lancaster/Lebanon/Berks Association
    of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. 

    David Krem, the district's interim superintendent, said he has twice dealt with "active shooter" issues in his career and disagrees with President Trump that arming well-trained teachers is the right answer.

    "The number one key element in school safety, is the parents," said Krem. "But we have to tighten up our program. Every school district does because every school district whose members walk around and think 'it can't happen here,' is as wrong as wrong can be."

    "It can happen anywhere, at any time and the numbers prove it. We've had 137 school shootings since 1980 and 297 students have been killed," said Krem. 

    "One thing I've learned for sure; if you have a shooter who wants to get into your building, they're going to get into your building. It doesn't matter how many armed guards you have or how many metal detectors you have."

    Some parents have suggested armed guards and Krem said "I crunched the numbers. It costs $1 million for one armed guard at the front door of every school. It's a million dollars a year and it only goes up."

    Board member Brendan Foose, who was present by speaker phone, said he was at Boyertown High when the Columbine shootings shocked the nation, and it's only gotten worse since then.

    Instead of asking for a security update once, he suggested the board commit to doing an annual review of security measures.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    Photo by Evan Brandt
    A map of the region being covered in the Multi-Regional Greenway and Stewardship Study. It includes municipalities in the Pottstown Regional Planning Group, the Upper Perkiomen Regional Planning Group, the Central Perkiomen Regional Planning Group and the Indian Valley Regional Planning Group, 36 municipalities total

    It takes a long time to study and categorize features in 36 different municipalities.

    Especially when you are looking at different terrains, habitats, flora and fauna, as well as coming up with ways to best maintain them.

    But that's what Natural Lands and the Montgomery County Planning Commission are doing in an effort that is now three years old, and still not complete.

    The idea is to get an inventory of greenspaces in the four regions, public and private, and come up with guidelines on how best to maintain them.

    The Pottstown regional planners got an update on that effort last night, and learned that the park in each township and borough studied were carefully selected for habitat, landscape and terrain type -- wetland, meadow, forest -- so that the stewardship guides would apply to any parcel of greenspace with similar characteristics.

    The planners also reviewed a list of 21 roadways or intersections which are candidates for study by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, removing some, adding others.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    The design for Trotter's Gate, off Dotterer Road

    Discussion of a development project approved years ago for 54 townhomes, but now revised to 29 single family homes on 14.1 acres off Dotterer Road, dominated the bulk of last night's board of township supervisors meeting.

    It came to the supervisors last night, after receiving a recommendation for preliminary site plan approval as a result of a prior 3-2 vote of the township planning commission.

    Proposed by Blue Bell-based Mikelen LLC, the development is preferred by the supervisors, largely because it is fewer units, but it failed to obtain preliminary site plan approval from the supervisors last night, in large part because there were too many unanswered questions.

    The new majority on the board has been critical of too many loose ends and incomplete work being done by developers in the township allowed by previous administrations and takes a newly tough line with projects these days.

    Supervisors Chairman Charles D. Garner Jr. made clear the board had not problems with previous work done by this developer, but he and the other supervisors could not be persuaded by attorney Joe Clement to grant the preliminary approval with a pledge to comply with the many issues raised in the consultant letters.

    One particular problem for the developer is the competing needs of wider roads and less stormwater.

    Among the waivers the developer is seeking is for the interior roads on the project to be 30 feet wide, with parking allowed on only one side of the street.

    Concerns about adequate parking and being able to get around parked cars are at odds with a desire for less impermeable surface. Wider roads means more stormwater and, as Clement said, that means re-designing the stormwater basins to hold more capacity and, as a result "they might not fit."

    Ultimately, if the plan cannot be built as currently proposed, the developers go back to the approved plan for 54 town homes, but "e want to build this plan," Clement said.

    Finally, after about an hour of wrangling, the developers agreed to ask for a 30-day extension on the plan while they attempt to determine of there is enough room for larger detention basins necessitated by wider roads.

    And without further ado, here are the Tweets from last night's meeting:

    0 0

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Friends of Hopewell Furnace

    Just in time for Spring, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace will host “Design Your Pollinator Garden" on Sunday, March 11, a program with Penn State Master Gardener Margaret Yevics. 

    The free event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Hopewell Furnace Conference Room.

    As a certified Master Gardener and a resident of Reading, Yevics serves on the Penn State Master Gardener hot line as an information resource for the people of Pennsylvania. 

    A retired Civil Engineer who has designed retail for restaurants (McDonalds), chocolatiers (Godiva), and clothing stores (Destination Clothing), today she volunteers her time to assist gardeners at several locations in the greater Reading area including the Reading Arboretum and Hopewell Furnace. 

    A member of the Reading shade tree commission, she is currently working on a study of bees for Penn State.

    Hopewell Furnace’s landscape is filled with a variety of gardens that are tended by staff and volunteers. 

    In 2013, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Philadelphia Flower Show) recognized the excellence of the gardens at Hopewell Furnace including Hopewell’s Pollinator Garden with the PHS Community Greening Award.

    Established in 1994, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace is the official non-profit fundraising arm of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. A 501(c)3 citizen organization, its mission is to support the preservation, maintenance and programs of Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Donations to the Friends may be tax deductible according to the rules set by the Internal Revenue Service.

    While at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site visitors are encouraged to go into the village, tour the buildings, see Hopewell's water wheel and learn about iron making and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history. 

     Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday thru Sunday, the park is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off Route 345. 

    For more information visit

    0 0

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by First Presbyterian Church.

    Author and educator Debby Irving will give a talk on the subject of her book, "WAKING UP WHITE: Finding OURSELVES in the Story of Race," on Sunday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.

    The church is located at 750 N. Evans St. in Pottstown.

    There is no admission charge,  but reservations are required and can be obtained by emailing or calling 610-326-0620.

    Irving is a racial justice educator and author. 

    A community organizer and classroom teacher for 25 years, she grappled with racial injustice without understanding racism. 
    Debby Irving

    She holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. 

    Her first book, "Waking Up White," tells the story of how she went from well-meaning to well-doing.

    In a review, of her book Van Jones, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," wrote: “Debby Irving’s powerful Waking Up White opens a rare window on how white Americans are socialized. Irving's focus on the mechanics of racism operating in just one life—her own—may lead white readers to reconsider the roots of their own perspectives—and their role in dismantling old myths. Readers of color will no doubt find the view through Irving's window fascinating, and telling.” 

    And "Kirkus Reviews" wrote: “The book uses Irving's experience of being a white woman coming to terms with the complexity of racism in the United States and her own perceptions as a lens to explore the role white allies can play in racial justice work.” 

    The talk is sponsored by the Broward County Community Foundation.

    0 0

    Matthew Hovey is an attorney with Wolf Baldwin and Assoc. in Pottstown

    Blogger's Note:This is the full version of Matthew Hovey's guest column which was recently published in The Mercury and was shortened to meet space requirements. The Digital Notebook welcomes submissions for publication here. Send them to

    By: Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire

    This is not a writing against gun control. As irrational and barbaric mass shootings continue at an alarming rate, something must be done. Children must be safe, lives cannot continue to be lost in this way.

    Rather, this is to be an aid in dialogue on the issue. Discussion on gun control cannot be productive without an understanding of the origin and purpose of the Constitutional limitations on gun control legislation.

    There are common misconceptions about the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. The primary purpose of the Amendment is not to protect hunters, or even to allow people to protect their homes from intruders. Its primary purpose is much more political in nature. The reason that it is listed second in the Bill of Rights, immediately after the right to free speech but before amendments which deal with due process, unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and a preservation of states’ rights, is that it is a fundamental check on the federal government.

    With the 1st and 2nd Amendments, the drafters of the Constitution (the “Framers) wanted to sanctify and preserve citizens’ ability to defend against a tyrannical government peaceably, through free speech and assembly, as well as violently, if necessary, through citizen armies (referred to then as militias). Historically, tyrannical governments oppress its citizenry by suppressing free speech and mass assembly, such as protests and strikes, and by outlawing possession of weaponry. Citizens armed with both the pen and the sword are more able to rise up and overthrow oppressive rulers. Keep in mind that our Founding Fathers founded this country with both the pen (e.g., a popularly supported Declaration of Independence) and the sword (a citizen army in the Revolutionary War). The Framers wanted to ensure that if our democracy ever produced a true tyrant, the citizenry would be fully equipped to restore our democracy and its fundamental freedoms.

    This purpose is the reason why there are restrictions on the government’s ability to easily outlaw classes of firearms or maintain databases of gun owners and track all gun transactions. The 2nd Amendment serves as a restriction on the government’s ability to eliminate or suppress an armed citizenry. In theory, a government which is similarly armed as its people should be hesitant to try to oppress the population, and a government relatively blind to the ownership of the citizenry’s firearms cannot execute a mass disarming of the populace in times of political strife.

    Agree or disagree, this is an interest the courts must consider when evaluating the constitutionality of all restrictions placed on the right to bear arms. It is anticipated that all legislation passed in response to the justified outrage over mass shooting will eventually be subjected to scrutiny through this lens. It is a competing value enshrined in the Constitution.

    The problem, however, is that weaponry developed in ways the Framers never imagined. A pure interpretation of the 2nd Amendment would mean that any weapon which the government could use to oppress the people should also be available to the citizenry in order to serve as a check and balance. In other words, everyday people should be entitled to possess, unchecked, nuclear weapons, biological weapons, military grade firearms, computer malware, tanks, sophisticated drones, and all other “arms” – including whatever may be developed in the future. I expect that most people will consider this to be ludicrous. Who wants their neighbor to be able to store anthrax or a nuke in case the government moves to suppress all of us? Not me.

    The Supreme Court agrees and recently acknowledged that, as with the First Amendment, the government can place reasonable restrictions on the right to bear arms. Competing with the fundamental interest in an armed citizenry is a fundamental right to safety. The question remains unanswered, however, as where the balancing point is between those two competing interests. Challenges to legislation adopted in the wake of the endless stream of mass shootings, however, will likely serve to clarify that line, possibly with the invalidation of those solutions.

    Most other developed countries in the world do not have a 2nd Amendment, in part because these countries were not born through a war, but rather evolved peaceably through reforms. As a result, those governments are legally freer to err on the side of safety, for better or worse depending on your view.

    A repeal of, or an amendment to, the 2nd Amendment will not happen though. At minimum, a repeal or amendment would require 75% of all states to approve such change. Therefore, proposals which do not respect the realities of the 2nd Amendment are most likely a waste of time and energy. In part, this why many pro-gun people push for solutions more grounded in addressing mental health, rather than gun restrictions.

    Nevertheless, as a side note, legislation addressing mental health issues compete with the constitutional right to due process (e.g., restrictions on the government’s ability to involuntarily commit people, or to strip them of rights like gun ownership). Patients’ rights advocates will have their say regarding these potential solutions as well.

    For these reasons, the issue is complicated, and will require a multi-faceted solution. Compromises are best reached though when one side of an issue understands the other side’s interests. Hopefully a better understanding of the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and the complications it causes for a solution, can led to more productive discussion on how to makes us all feel a little safer.

    0 0

    The North End Swim Club was established in 1960.
    Pottstown's venerable North End Pool club is adapting to the times.

    Many private non-profit pool clubs have struggled or closed in recent years.

    But with a new board of directors and a new pricing model, the North End Pool Club is angling to attract new members.

    Gone is the often cost-prohibitive requirement to post a bond, according to Board President Debbie Bumbaugh.

    And memberships now include family, couple, single and even caregiver/babysitter, as well as senior citizen discounts.

    "We are on a revival mission with 10 brand new board members and myself," Bumbaugh wrote in an email.
    The pavilion is available for all members.
    "We have all the school district parties already scheduled as well as all our outside camper groups. We have a lot of other good things in the works," she wrote.

    The facility, located at 901 N. Adams St., across from Brookside County Club, has a full sand volleyball court, basketball court, playground/swings, and a pavilion for members/guests to enjoy.

    North End Pool also has several swim teams for different ages overseen by local coaching legend Kathy Cook. 

    There have been recent renovations to the pool, which also boasts certified, full-time lifeguards. 

    Payments can also now be made in monthly installments

    The club now offers singles and couples plans.
    The pricing options are as follows:
    • $450 for a married or together couple, or head of family, and dependent children 25 years of age or under.
    • $350for a married or together couple OR a single parent and dependent children.
    • $250for single members must be at least 14 years of age. If a child is using the pool without an adult present, there must be a contact provided when signing in. 
    • $75 for an extra $75,  add a caregiver/babysitter to a membership. This is a person who will be bringing a child to the pool on a weekly basis if parents are working. This does not serve as a membership for the caregiver to come on his/her own. It is simply a daily pass for the days he/she is being a caregiver. Those with  a family membership and who are a caregiver to a child that is not theirs, but will be bringing that child on a daily basis, please use this add on fee.
    Each membership option will include a $25 activity fee in addition to the yearly membership costs. 

    Those who volunteer four or more hours helping at any events (for example: leaf clean-up, start of season pool opening, end of season pool closing, family day, etc.), the $25 fee will be returned. 

    For those who choose not to volunteer, North End Swimming Club will take your donation as your time. Seniors 65 and over are exempt from the volunteer fee.

    Membership payments are due no later than opening day, Saturday, May 26th. Any dues paid after that date will be subject to a $25 late fee.

    Membership questions should be directed to Jaime Reinhart at:

    For more information, or to get an application form, uses the club's web site.

    0 0

    Four applicants are seeking the vacant Boyertown Area School Board Region 1 seat held until last month by Robert Caso.

    Region 1 includes the boroughs of Bally and Bechtelsville and Colebrookdale, Earl,  and Washington townships.

    Caso resigned just two months after being reelected to a four-year term. The person who fills his seat will serve until December of 2019, the next municipal election.

    In November of 2019, voters will decide who fills the remaining two years of the seat's term.

    One of the four applicants for the seat, Rodney Boyer, was a candidate for the seat in last November's election for a Region 1 seat. He lost to Caso by 49 votes.

    The other applicants for the seat, in the order they were interviewed, are William Yanalavage, Ruth Baker, and Robert Houck.

    The candidates were interviewed publicly by the full school board Monday and Tuesday evenings at Colebrookdale Elementary School and the interviews were video-recorded by the district.

    The board will vote on the new member at the Tuesday, March 13 meeting in the Boyertown Education Center on Montgomery Avenue. The candidate selected will be sworn in immediately and take part in the meeting that night, according to School Board President Donna Usavage.

    William Yanalavage

    A mechanical engineer with a daughter who went through the Boyertown schools and is now in
    William Yanalavage
    college, Yanalavage said he applied for the seat because he believes it is time to give back to the community.

    A Boyertown graduate, Yanalavage said he went to Penn State for a year after graduating and then took a factory job with his father.

    He decided to get a college education while working in the factory, got a degree from Temple University "the hard way," by going at night and working full time.

    It took 9 years. He has been a mechanical engineer for 39 years.

    Yanalavage told the board his job involves cost-cutting, working with a group to find a less expensive way to produce a quality product and the key to that is listening to all ideas, no matter who they come from.

    He said he does not understand why students would drop out of high school and said education really has to "grab" students and help them find their best path to the future.

    Yanalavage said school board members must balance needs of children with needs and burdens on the taxpayers. "I don't know all the ins and outs of what happens with the money, but I'm willing to learn," he said.

    Boyertown provides a good education, Yanalavage said, but there is room for improvement. He said he does not know a lot about how the school board functions, but has no personal agenda.

    Ruth Baker

    Baker, who often speaks at school board meetings, said she best represents the views of Caso for Region 1.
    Ruth Baker

    Baker says she has done private tutoring, has organized donation of dictionaries to the schools in the 1990s and sat on strategic planning committee in 1990s. Baker has served on other boards, is recording secretary for Rolling Hills Landfill Advisory Council, has served on Earl Township Planning Commission and helped to establish historical society.

    Baker said she hopes public schools accomplish something similar to what she received in Boyertown Schools; good grammar, writing, science she needed, strong level at math that allowed her to test out of college courses, as well as respect, community service, good citizenship and common sense.

    If selected, Baker said she would benchmark district performance against other high-achieving districts in the state, and well-respected private schools. The SATs are the only nationally normed test and Boyertown is in the lower third, she said. So she would look to see what higher-achieving districts are doing differently.

    Recognizing that the school board only has control over about 30 percent of budget, Baker said she would also like to streamline operations as much as possible to avoid tax increases on the horizon, without having it harm student achievement, which means she would look at administration and thats that are "nice to have but not needs."

    Baker said the role of individual school board members should be to represent their region, "with honor and integrity." For the board as a whole, Baker said its role should be to act as an oversight body, ensure students get what they deserve and are well-prepared and that there is "no malfeasance or moral turpitude among staff."

    Rodney Boyer

    Boyer is a retired music teacher from the Pottsgrove School District, where he worked for 34 years.
    Rodney Boyer
    He has a daughter in the school system.

    Boyer volunteered in daughter's school, was homeroom parent, volunteered in the library at Washington Elementary and dance marathon at Boyertown Junior High West. He volunteered at the jazz fest last weekend and served on the district's strategic planning committee.

    Boyer said "public education is crucial to our country, since founding of the country," adding that in 21st century, public education has to be bigger than being able to read the Bible, in a technology-laden world. "Schools should teach students to be good citizens of country and of the world."

    Boyer said it is the job of the school board to set policy and strategy for school district, ensure adequate resources. Individual board members bring their thoughts, ideas and backgrounds and contribute together as a team but none have more power than another.

    Calling the quality of education in Boyertown "superb," Boyer said he is the best candidate, because he has "skin in the game," a daughter in the school district. He also has 34 years of experience in public education; has served on strategic planning committees and on school evaluation teams.

    Boyer said the greatest challenge facing the school board is working together as a team to accomplish the mission. Also, "we have some budget problems, not unique to Boyertown, but it is a major one." the board must also hire a new superintendent, a new business manager, negotiate a new contract with the teachers and fix the problems at the stadium at Boyertown Area High School.

    Robert Houck

    A former CEO in the foundry industry, Houck said he is familiar with the Boyertown School district 
    Robert Houck
    largely through his wife who taught there for more than two decades.

    With a number of tough financial decisions on the horizon, Houck told the board his experience could be helpful in cutting costs, obtaining money and he also has a background in human resources and helped negotiate 14 union contracts.

    Houck said the role of public education is to provide best the options for students, to guide them in direction of their abilities, which is why guidance counselors are so important. Public education should prepare kids for college or a trade, to make educated decisions on what is best suited for them.

    Houck said his objective is "to have best possible relationship with staff and teachers," make this an open forum to bring for the best ideas. "For me, its about what's best for the students, opportunity wise and facility wise."

    The role of the school board, said Houck, is to make best decisions for the majority of people in the school district, enact obtainable budgets, but get best gang for the buck out of that for students. "I know its tough not to do major cutbacks," he said.

    Houck said Boyertown schools need improvement in terms of education level, when compared to private schools. "I don't know how to do that and I don't mean that as a condemnation, but efforts need to provide more emphasis to kids and help them excel."

    Here are the live Tweets from the two days of interviews:

    0 0

    As part of her Mayor's Report for March, Pottstown Mayor
    Stephanie Henrick, rear, reported that she was interviewed
    recently by fourth graders in Girl Scout Troop 71220 
    for their Inside Government Badge.
    Winter Storm Quinn (not sure I'll get used to naming snow storms, but it does make it easier to keep track of them) turned out to be a dud around here.

    So the quick version of last night's council meeting might be: "The weather was nasty and the meeting was short."

    But I suppose that description is not terribly informative in the news department.

    Perhaps the most important item on the agenda was the introduction of another community group trying to improve neighborhood conditions in the First Ward and beyond.

    They are called Pottstown Community Action and they are backed, financially and organizationally, but Habitat for Humanity.

    They have already organized several block clean-ups and will participate in Habitat's Rock the Block event on April 21.

    Last month, at the urging of Councilman Dennis Arms, council voted to send a letter to the zoning board opposing a proposed electronic sign for 625 N. Charlotte St.

    This month, with Arms absent, attorney Ken Picardi appeared before council to try to change their minds.

    We'll find out Monday if he was successful.

    Council appeared to be favorably inclined towards a small expansion of the dining hall at The Hill School and the construction of several townhomes in the 500 block of Lincoln Avenue, both of which were recommended for approval by the planning commission.

    And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    It would be hard to characterize last night's Phoenixville Area School Board meetings as newsy.

    Not only was it a work session, but the not-so-mighty-Quinn snowstorm that wasn't, caused the cancellation of the finance committee meeting which often considers some of the weightiest matters to parents and taxpayers.

    There was a kerfuffle at the end of the meeting about School Board president Lisa Longo's apparent desire to make David Golberg, the newest member of the board, happy by shuffling committee assignments around to put him on one that suits his skills, but that's the kind of inside baseball that only one board member, Kevin Pattinson, took issue with.

    Other than that, things were pretty routine.

    Superintendent Alan Fegly said the district has about 80 more students than last year, but fewer kindergarten sign-ups than at this time last year.

    Probably the most significant thing was Fegley reported on the first meeting of his "sleep committee" on Monday, which consists of about 40 students, parents and community members looking at the issue of school start times and if teens are getting enough sleep.

    Phoenixville is going through a very deliberate process in deciding whether to change start times.

    For those who want to know more, Dr. Wendy Troxel, a senior behavioral scientist at the Rand Corporation will speak to students on Tuesday, March 13 about the matter.

    There is a free public session for the community at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting.

    0 0

    Pottstown High School and Hill School students clean up in the 600 block of Chestnut Street during a Pottstown CARES event in 2013.

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

    Pottstown CARES will strengthen its numbers this spring with the support of its newest member, Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties.

    Habitat MontDelco is joining the civic engagement group as a member after years as a collaborator. Pottstown CARES’s mission is to develop and sustain a service ethic in Pottstown that will result in a collective sense of community pride.

    Habitat’s membership in the group will provide more opportunities for residents, including students, to get involved, speak up and give back.

    Already, students from Pottstown High School’s construction technology program are assisting with renovations on a Habitat house, and recently, Habitat MontDelco hosted a Home Repair Workshop to teach residents how to patch and repair drywall.

    As it works with residents through its Neighborhood Revitatlization initiative, Habitat is also promoting The Hill School’s tool sharing program and is getting ideas for trash remediation from residents.
    Pottstown CARES Day 2017 in North Hanover Street

    “Pottstown is a community poised for change and there are many residents and community leaders who are already working hard to make it happen,” Habitat MontDelco CEO Marianne Lynch, said in a prepared statement.

    “Our work with Pottstown CARES will help continue this momentum by ensuring that individuals gain skills, that we build capacity in the community and bring even more people together to create lasting change from within,” Lynch said.

    The two organizations have partnered on community cleanups since 2016 when Habitat hosted its first Pottstown Rock the Block in conjuction with the now-annual Pottstown CARES community cleanup day. This year’s joint event is on Saturday, April 21.

    “Inviting Habitat to join the Pottstown CARES effort seemed like a natural fit,” said Jason Coady, a CARES representative from The Hill School. “We’re interested in the same things— serving the community and leading by example as we encourage others in the community to serve too.”

    Pottstown CARES Day 2014
    Pottstown CARES (Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability) was conceived in 2013 amongst the Pottstown School District, The Hill School, and the Borough as a collaborative project to “spruce up” a designated area in the core of Pottstown.

    Montgomery County Community College, the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce, and Lowes joined the effort, and in 2016 a CARES Student Leadership Council was created to imagine and execute new student-driven projects.

    The collaborative group of students from Hill, Pottstown High School, and Montgomery County Community College created and support a “Shop Tri-County” campaign; serve lunch to underserved Pottstown residents; represent CARES in hometown parades; and host “Welcome Home” concerts benefitting area homeless, among other endeavors.

    Habitat constructs homes for affordable home ownership, preserves aging housing stock by completing critical home repairs, provides financial literacy and life skills classes, and revitalizes neighborhoods. For more information, call 610-278- 7710, email, or visit

    0 0

    I've never been much of a musicals guy, at least not at the movies.

    It's strange, because of how much music is a part of my life, but I always considered them kind of goofy. I mean who spontaneously breaks out in song?

    To which anyone could turn to me and ask, rightly, "Oh yeah? And how many people swing from building to building on a web, or save the galaxy in a starship?"

    Fair point.

    But I confess I do have a soft spot for live productions.

    When I was in high school, I was onstage for one play (we only did a musical every other year). But after dropping an entire section of dialog without realizing it, I decided the audience would appreciate my talents more as a member of the lighting crew.

    In Pottstown, King Triton has seven lovely
    (and diverse) daughters.
    So I have fond memories of, and an appreciation for, school productions. I was thrilled when Pottstown revived the tradition and have watched with increasing admiration as the productions keep getting better and better.

    Truth be told, and this coming from a guy with an antipathy for treacly Disney fare, this year's production of "The Little Mermaid" was astounding.

    I mean I am no theater hound, but I've seen professional productions on Broadway (and far inferior college productions more recently) and this was certainly in the neighborhood.

    The show reached new heights of excellence on an order of magnitude above the district's already high standard.
    There was nothing "halfway" about

    Ursula's costume design.

    Certainly, the nearly full high school auditorium Saturday afternoon spoke volumes about how the quality of the performances and the production has spread by word of mouth, the most effective kind of advertising and carried out these days on Twitter and Facebook.

    The singing was truly impressive on all counts. (There were some very high notes in there repeatedly reached without apparent strain.)

    The sets were innovative and evocative of the scenes they were meant to convey, and the changing of those sets was flawless; the costumes equally so, flush with bright colors  and the music both precise and well-coordinated with the timing on-stage.

    (One of my favorite moments was when I noticed the orchestra had donned "sea creature hats" for Donny Marte's (Sebastian the Crab) performance of "Under the Sea." Nice lobster hat Mr. Vought!)

    Pottstown is developing a reputation for its productions, deservedly so, and particularly, as director Christopher Sperat noted in his poignant comments at the end of the show's run, because of "the farm team," being built among the younger students.
    Matt Zipay, Gianna Kimmell and Alexandria Olvera,

    Eric, Ariel and Ursula.

    A pre-K teacher at Lincoln Elementary School, he proudly points out his former
    students whenever he gets the chance.

    The two leads, the extraordinary Matt Zipay as Prince Eric and the effusive Gianna Kimmell as Ariel, have been in all four musicals.

    But that talent-in-training reaches much deeper than the freshman class.

    In case you don't know, every other year Pottstown's musicals involve the entire district, with kids from elementary school on up and this was one of those years. The last one was the wildly popular production of  "The Wiz."
    Remember this guy?  

    (Word has it, Emanuel Wilkerson recently reprised his role as the Cowardly Lion," albeit it briefly, during a visit to an elementary classroom for Read Across America Day. A role he quite obviously relished, I suspect he was not hard to convince....)

    And ultimately, this is the best part about Pottstown's theatrical efforts. The kids we saw wearing fish hats and tentacles swarming across the stage are literally being "schooled" not only on what musical theater is, but also in what it takes to be part of something larger than themselves and the rewards those efforts bestow.

    Consider: Matt Zipay wants a career in theater and Julian Weber (King Triton) said Saturday he wants to become a director.

    It seems inevitable that seven or eight years from now, one of those little fishes will be the Prince Eric or Ariel of that year's musical.
    Pottstown's present and future stars.

    Being in a musical is no different than being on an athletic team, there are just more people. And like athletics, it also helps to build the kind of confidence it takes to perform in front of a large group of people (hopefully without dropping dialog!).

    Certainly, athletes perform. But theater teaches kids they don't need to be athletes to perform, or to be part of a team. That other talents matter too, whether its singing or dancing or, like Cole Rulli, the ability to run an entire show from back stage.
    I think "fish hats" are going to be the new fashion trend.

    Consider that among the people necessary and being recognized for their part in the effort were older students who were providing child care for the youngest performers. I mean talk about "it takes a village ..."

    And of course, these things are not mutually exclusive.

    The formidable Reilly Owens, who has lived next door to me her entire life and hilariously played Chef Louise, is anything but a one-trick pony.
    Chef Louise and Scuttle (Tori Steger)
    meet their fans after the performance.

    In addition to her evident gift for comedy, she plays field hockey, basketball, lacrosse, the clarinet in concert and marching band and sings in the show and a capella choirs.

    All in all, there were more than 150 people involved in this production.

    And, like fans rooting for the home team in the stands, these district-wide musicals really seem to bring the town together.

    Sebastian the Crab keeps good company.
    It truly is a community experience. Saturday's audience was packed with little children. The three little girls sitting in front of Karen and I knew all the songs, they were bouncing in their seats and waving to the characters.

    The mom in charge apologized to us, but there was no need. That's what should happen. They should be excited.

    And the people going to the performance hopefully all know there will be kids crying and talking during the show. There will be ill-timed bathroom breaks and shout-outs to their favorite characters. That's what makes it community theater folks. It's the WHOLE community.

    By the time the entire cast and crew of 'The Little Mermaid' was on stage to take their bows after the final performance Saturday night, it seemed like half of Pottstown was on stage. That's a good thing.

    Speaking of which, that is another aspect of Pottstown's district-wide musical I find so appealing -- how it showcases our diversity. Students and adults of all stripes and abilities, all working together.
    Andrew Green was a great "Flounder."

    (I mean let's consider the fact that the doughty producer for all this theater, Bob Decker, is the same guy who teaches AP calculus. Talk about diversity!)

    That this reputation for theatrical excellence is being developed amid Pottstown's diversity, and not in some of the wealthier districts that too often pat themselves on the back for the great job they're doing with kids who start the game halfway to the finish line, makes the achievement all the more significant.

    Pottstown can use all the successes it can get its hands on these days. Recent losses -- think Thanksgiving football and YMCA -- can feel like a town that keeps trying to get back onto its feet keeps taking body blows.

    Anything that gives us cause to hold up our heads and, to use John Armato's favorite phrase, makes us "Proud to be from Pottstown" deserves all the kudos and support we can provide.

    It is harder to build up than to break down. (Hey, just because it sounds trite doesn't mean it's not true).

    And Pottstown schools are building something with this program that is not only making a difference in the lives of those directly involved, but creating something we can all be proud of -- as a community.

    0 0

    Pottstown readers discuss their team answer before providing it at the recent Reading Olympics competition at Pottstown Middle School.

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District
    More than 100 elementary students in the Pottstown School District took part in the Olympics. 

    Unlike the athletes representing the United States, they did not have to travel to South Korea. Their competition took place in the Pottstown Middle School Auditorium.

    Students participated in the 18th annual Pottstown School District’s Reading Olympics Competition. 

    Diamond Credit Union has devoted 13 years and more than $30,000 
    to supporting the Reading Olympics Program in Pottstown Schools.
    The Reading Olympics requires teams of students to read 45 books in preparation for the event. Each round of competition sees two opposing teams attempt to answer 20 questions given in rapid-fire fashion from the moderators.

    After a question is asked about a book, teams huddle to determine the correct answer. One point is awarded for each correct answer and Olympic ribbons are awarded for overall performance.

    The district teams qualify to compete in the annual Montgomery County Intermediate Unit competition which annually attracts over 500 teams and 7,000 participants.

    The Pottstown School District program is organized by Reading Specialist Karen Neitz. The goals of the Reading Olympics are to increase students' reading for enjoyment and promote reading skills that increase achievement and academic success.

    “I am always excited to see our youngsters actively engaged in reading. This event is an opportunity for students to experience teamwork and the satisfaction that comes from hard work,” said Neitz.

    For the 13th consecutive year, the Pottstown School District’s Reading Olympics program has received financial support from the local Diamond Credit Union.

    Branch Manager Andrea Sawchuk-Moyer said, “we are proud to partner with the Pottstown School District in their efforts to promote the skills of reading so that students may learn to read and then read to learn. It is extremely rewarding to see the glow in students’ eyes when they correctly answer one of the questions. As an organization, Diamond Credit Union is committed to being a contributing member to our community.”

    John Armato, Director of Community Relations, noted, “Diamond Credit Union has been a longstanding partner of the Pottstown School District. Their financial support for the Reading Olympics Program throughout the years has totaled more than a $30,000 investment on their part in the development of educational opportunities for our students. Their programming for students also includes Diamond Credit Union representatives presenting financial literacy lessons to high school business classes. Diamond Credit Union’s continued support of the Pottstown School District is one of the reasons we say Proud to be from Pottstown.”

    Ribbon award winning teams included:

    Franklin Elementary

    Reading Rebels


    Lincoln Elementary

    Reading Lions


    Barth Elementary

    Reading Rockets


    Rupert Elementary

    Rocking Readers


    Olivia Ash

    Alivia Boyer

    Mairelys Concepcion

    Erika Heller

    Megan McGinn

    Justina Nhim

    Lindsay Quintero

    Brighton Scott

    Natalie Shope

    Emely Villegas

    Gemma Wise-Macchioni

    Leah Blackwell

    Emily Careme

    Lily Garber

    Gaige Harsh

    Lauryn Kutsch

    Amelia Lepage

    Joey Levengood

    Nevaeh Peaco

    Carice Peart

    Jaylen Quarles

    Mason Sims

    Ethan Ung

    Donovan Williams

    Ava Alessi

    Jahliyah Allen

    Aubrey Andrews-Watkins

    Ayanna Cox

    Janylah Etienne

    Savante Johnson

    Rachel Kauffman

    Kendyll King

    Isiah Perez

    Sajjadah Pew-Phillips

    Zaila Redden

    Rowan Stauffer

    Tymir Wallace

    Syncere Whitehurst

    Andrew Alessi

    Patience Cole

    Hugo Costa

    Evan Egleston

    Wesam Elgendy

    Andrew Fulmer

    Arianna Gatlin

    Jayanna Hill

    Colin Plank

    Kanijah Turlington

    Cianne Wells

    Desiyah Wilson

    Pottstown Middle School



    Pottstown Middle School



    Pottstown Middle School

    Reading Radicals


    Madison Beard

    Olivia Chin

    Macyahna Dalton

    Lunna Davilla

    MaiJheda Ellison

    Taylor Maguire

    Fatima Mohamed-Eck

    Nyel Thompson

    Emma Tidball

    Aniyah Wells

    Jadon Wiszumerski

    Zarreea Brown

    Daniela Castillo

    Aniyah Crump

    Shyloh Dugan

    Lili Freese

    Gabriella Horne

    Gianni Mahario

    Avallina Orfield

    Josh Sargent

    Adam Alaoui

    Kaitlyn Alessi

    Layla Bearden

    Zhon Bell

    Peyton Benfield

    Tyler Broughton

    Emily Castillo

    Makenna Franey

    Daisy Hilbert

    Mehki Jenkins-Glover

    Alyssa Pearson

    Najae Perez

    Katerine Reina

    Sophia Russo

    Angelica Shifflette

    Devon Smith

    Makayla Smith

    Austin Sundstrom

    Chloe Weiss

    Rosalee Wilson

    JJA\PR\PSD Reading Olympics 3-8-18

    0 0

    Photo by Evan Brandt

    Rodney Boyer takes the oath of office Tuesday night after being chosen by the Boyertown Area School Board to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Robert Caso, who defeated him for the seat in the November election.

    In a result that surprised few, the Boyertown Area School Board voted 5-3 to appoint Rodney Boyer to the seat left open by Robert Caso, thus diminishing by one, the block of fiscally conservative votes on the board.

    School Board members Ruth Dierolf and Christine Neiman voted for William Yanalavage to fill the post while Clay Breece cast the only vote for Robert Houck.

    No one on the board voted to nominate Ruth Baker, who had also applied and who, at the start of the meeting, urged the board to appoint someone who shared Caso's fiscally conservative views, which is what the voters had chosen.

    That view was also echoed by Breece, Dierolf and Neiman, but the board chose Boyer, who board member Steve Elsier said seemed the most familiar with the district and board operations.

    The board also voted to hire a new chief financial officer, Rebecca Clouser, C.P.A. at salary of $139,000.

    Also decided was a location and date -- June 7 at the Santander Center in Reading -- for this year's high school graduation, due to the questions that remain about the safety of the high school stadium.

    The board also received the first of what will be monthly reports on safety and security in the wake of last month's school shooting in Florida.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

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

    Tarzan the Musical will be presented at the Pottsgrove Middle School on March 15, 16, and 17 at 7:00.

    Tickets are on sale at the Pottsgrove Middle School office and at the door for $8.

    Tarzan the Musical has a cast of 60 - 6th, 7th and 8th graders and 12 stage crew members. 

    The cast includes Daniel Korman as Tarzan, Makenzie Johnson as Jane, Gianna Verdone as Kala, Isaac Kumpf as Kerchak, Carissa Schechterly as Terk, Haley Trump as Young Terk, Michael Kawczynski as Young Tarzan, Jacob Windrim as Porter, and Joseph Brotschul as Clayton.

    The show uses a live pit band of 8 members.

    Tom Yenchick is the director and choreographer and Carole Bean is the musical director.

    0 0

    According to parents and students alike, bullying and violence problems persist at Pottstown Middle School, pictured above.

    As so often happens when you have one meeting per month, news kind of piled up at the Pottstown School Board meeting last night.

    Four major issues were raised, although only three of them were on the agenda.

    They were, in order of revelation:
    • A $1 million budget shortfall in the 2018-2019 budget, even if taxes were raised the maximum 3.5 percent allowed by law; 
    • More than 25 speakers, parents and students alike, complaining about persistent violence and bullying problems in the district, particularly at Pottstown Middle school;
    • A board resolution speaking out against the closing of the Pottstown YMCA;
    • The resignation of School Board member Ron Williams and the start of the process to appoint his replacement.
    Each of these will be the subject of an upcoming full-scale article in The Mercury, but for those impatient few who can't wait, here is the thumbnail version of each one.

    The Budget

    The finance committee has its first look at the preliminary budget for next year recently, according to committee chairman Kurt Heidel, and the picture is not good.

    Heidel said preliminary budget of $63,226,970 has a $2.4 million deficit.

    Raising taxes by 3.5%, the max allowed by law, would still leave a deficit of about $1 million. 

    For the past two years, the district has held the line on taxes and not raised them. Time will tell if that era has reached an end.

    The board continues to stumble along in its deliberations about a community budget advisory board, still dickering over who whould be on it (just residents or residents and business owners?) and a date for its appointment and charge seems as distant as when it was first proposed two months ago.

    Bullying and Violence

    This issue has plagued the district, and particularly the middle school for more than a year.

    After their son Anthony was "jumped" outside the cafeteria at the middle school, Krystal and Tony DiPietro have been agitating to get the problem under control.

    Those efforts only intensified after Anthony's cousin was also attacked for trying to help Anthony and now the two have to "have each other's backs" all the time Anthony told me.

    More than 25 parents and students spoke about the problem in various incarnations; online, verbal and physical attacks.

    Erin Galamba said the problem goes all the way down to kindergarten where her child, at Franklin ElementarySchool, is being traumatized by another 5-year-old who continually threatens to bring weapons to school to hurt people.

    "Are you going to wait until its too late? Are you going to wait until a teacher is staring down the barrel of a gun? Don't wait to make changes," said Krystal DiPietro, who then read off a list of this nation's shameful history of school shootings.

    At the end of the meeting, each school board member thanked the speakers, indicated that they care, are aware of the problem and are trying to do something about it.

    YMCA Closure

    It was last year when it was announced the YMCA on North Adams Street would be shut down by the Philadelphia Freedome Valley YMCA and that the decision, which had not been vetted with the community, was non-negotiable.

    Subsequently, an after-the-fact community committee was put together to make recommendations for how the services once provided at the building could be preserved. The committee was told keeping the facility open was not an option.

    The committee, apparently, has other ideas said Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez.

    He proposed, and the board unanimously adopted (with some confusion due to their new format) a resolution in which the district "adamantly opposes" the closure.

    You can read that resolution in full by clicking here.

    For the past week or so, former Pottstown School Board member Thomas Hylton has been devoting his paid advertising space in The Mercury to columns about how the decision appears to be at odds with what is the YMCA's stated mission and abandoning a low-income area in need in favor of fancy facilities in wealthy white suburbs.

    You can read those columns on the Citizens for Enlightened Leadership web site, by clicking here.

    Jon Corson, president of the Pottstown chapter of the NAACP, said his organization has a member on the advisory board and has discussed the closure and has "many concerns" about its impact on Pottstown.

    School Board President Amy Francis, who noted she is "generations deep" in Pottstown, said she "upset about YMCA decision to leave Pottstown. It will affect students so much and its trickle-down effects will be felt for a long time. This is yet another  place where advocacy for Pottstown is needed," she said.

    Board Resignation

    School Board member Ron Williams has submitted his resignation from the board for "personal reasons" that have nothing to do with the board or the community, Rodriguez said last night.

    The term to which Williams was elected expires in December of 2019 so whomever is chosen to replace him will serve until then and, if he or she wishes to remain, must run for reelection.

    The board will accept applications until April 4, and has tentatively set April 10 as the date for the public interviews, to be followed by appointment on April 16.

    After the meeting, David Miller, who ran unsuccessfully for the board in November, told me he would likely submit his name but said that if Hylton, who lost his seat in the election, applies that the board would do well to choose him.

    And now, here ate the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown Regional Public Library 

    The Pottstown Regional Public Library will host Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities on March 20, 2018 at 6pm.  

    The Cluster’s Program Bridges Out of Poverty will provide community leaders and residents with training to enable a better understanding for individuals living in economic poverty.  

    The program features discussion about Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-by World, a mentored program for building a better life.   

    Refreshments will be served. 

    To sign-up contact Ryli Meyer, Pottstown Cluster at 610-970-5995 or Michelle Kehoe, Pottstown Library at 610-970-6551. 

    0 0

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

    The achievements, leadership, and service of women in the Tri-County Area are in the spotlight this month as the YWCA Tri County Area presents its 23rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at the RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve in Phoenixville.

    Marjorie Margolies, a longtime activist for women’s empowerment, is the keynote speaker. Ms. Margolies is the founder and president of Women’s Campaign International, an organization working worldwide to help women in developing nations transform communities through political and civic leadership and economic empowerment. She represented Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-95, where she served on the House committees on energy and commerce, on small business, and on government operations. She served as director of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is a former broadcast journalist, winning five Emmy awards as a reporter with NBC.

    Tickets to this annual event are available online by visiting:

    The 23rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women recognizes women for their ability to lead by example, embrace community responsibility, and excel in their careers. YWCA Tri-County Area has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women in the Tri-County and surrounding areas.

    Community members nominate women for their achievements in leadership, service, and career in the following categories: Arts, Business, Education, Health, Racial Justice, Non-Profit, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the Rising Star Award for women 18-30, the Coretta Scott King Award for an agent of change, and Sally Lee Lifetime Achievement Award.

    The evening will begin with cocktails and bidding on silent auction items from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with dinner, the keynote speaker, and presentation of awards to follow. The evening will end with the announcement of the silent auction winners at 9 p.m.

    Proceeds from Tribute to Exceptional Women will support YWCA Tri-County Area’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YW3CA educates children, youth, families, and communities through programming that empowers individuals to learn and grow throughout the lifespan, providing the foundation for a healthy and thriving community; and advocates for racial and social justice, empowerment and economic advancement and women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.

    Nominees for the 2018 Tribute to Exceptional Women are:
    • Erica Batdorf, Township Manager, West Vincent Township
    • Jannie Brant, retired pastor, Church of the Living God
    • Alicia Alexander Cadogan, Ph.D, Director of Medical Information, Pfizer
    • Carmen Davenport-Bright, Director of Teen Programs, Delta Community Supports
    • Bonny Susanne Davis , Treasurer, Springfield Township
    • Deesha Dyer, Executive Director,
    • Lacee Ecker, Assistant General Counsel, American Eagle Outfitters 
    • Lizette Epps, Senior Corporate Buyer, Carpenter Technology Corp. 
    • Linda Fields, Candidate, Pa. State Senate 
    • Elaine Gonzalez-Johnson, Executive Director, Latinas in Motion 
    • Tracy Heebner, Owner, Salon Twenty-Two and Spa
    • Joni Helton, Executive Director, Next Level Sports 
    • Keriann Herdelin, Executive Director, Greater Pottstown Tennis and Learning
    • Kerry Krieger, Director of Family Services, Delta Community Supports 
    • Marissa LoCascio, Senior Vice President and Director of Operations, 1031 Corp. 
    • Dr. Lori Lorant-Tobias, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Pottstown Hospital 
    • Catherine Oskowiak, Executive Director, Foster Angels on Earth
    • Ashley Pierce, Vice President, East Coventry PTA
    • Eunice Rome, Receptionist/Assistant, YWCA Tri-County Area 
    • Amanda Snyder, Co-Owner, Virtual Essense Hair Design
    • Stephanie Steigerwalt, Co-Owner, Virtual Essense Hair Design
    • Shelly Stockmal, Victory Community Leader, Victory Bank 
    • Adrean Turner, Owner, Turner Coaching Training and Consulting 
    • Jennifer Van Ingen, Operations Manager, Family Caregivers Network 
    • Elise Weinstein, teacher, Newtown Elementary School/Council Rock School District
    • Elisabeth Yoder, art teacher, Pottstown High School

    0 0

    53 students were inducted into the Junior National Honor Society recently at Pottstown Middle School.

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

    Pottstown Middle School recognized outstanding student achievement at the Jr. National Honor Society candle lighting ceremony held in the school auditorium. 

    Fifty Three new members were inducted as parents and friends looked on.
    Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez addresses the inductees.
    Students Michelle Castillo and Rylie Gaspar gave the welcome and induction. 

    During the ceremony, the four pillars of National Honor Society were described by students: Scholarship,Service, Character, and Leadership as candles were lit. 

    In his remarks Superintendent Mr. Stephen Rodriguez congratulated the students on their academic success and reminded them to be equally successful in social and emotional preparedness and development. 

    The Middle School Jazz Band under the direction of Katie German provided entertainment. 

    Inductees signed the roll book as sponsor Diane Halpine announced their names. 

    Student Xavier Francis Williams led the group in the Honor Society Pledge. 

    A closing poem was read by student Gabriel Roseo.

    0 0

    The Spring-Ford Area School Board recognized the high school wrestling team Monday nights for its many achievements during the season.
    Years of debate, study, analysis and meetings -- so many meetings -- all came to an anti-climactic head Monday night when the Spring-Ford Area School Board voted 7-1 to accept the bids for the $11 million expansion of Spring-Ford Area High School.

    The proposed project includes three additions: a 10,700-square-foot performing arts expansion, a 17,200-square-foot physical education expansion, and a 6,900-square-foot corridor expansion.

    The bids were opened last week and although estimates last year had ranged from $10.5 to $12.1  million, the total came in at $10.9 million.

    School Board member Mark Dehnert cast the only vote against the project and told me afterward he believes it is unnecessary.

    "That's a lot of money to spend for a facility that already provides most of these things" Dehnert said. "We can get by with the weight room we already have and we didn't even know we needed a band room until a consultant said so," he said.

    "We have security concerns now and we could use the money on that instead of on things that are not important educationally," said Dehnert, although he conceded that the widening of a pinch-point corridor is probably warranted for safety reasons.

    But Dehnert was in the minority both on the board and from the public comments that preceded the vote.

    Clint Fetterman told the board the marching band had just returned from Disney World with lots of awards and "no place to put them," adding that the new expanded music facilities would have a place for them.

    Former board member Joe Cerisi said ti had taken six years to get to this point for a vote, calling it "One of the greatest steps we've seen this district take in a long time."

    Gail Wellington, who owns three commercial properties in the district, said the project would improve quality of life, improve the school district's reputation and increase property values.

    School Board President Tom DiBello said the vote "has been a long-time coming."

    He said the low-bid contractors have all been notified, so they can start ordering steel and other supplies, and that work is scheduled to begin shortly after the last day of school, currently scheduled for June 14.

    Overall, the project will taker about two years, but because most of the work is new construction, there should not be much disturbance for students. The corridor re-construction and expansion will be undertaken first so as to minimize disturbance to students.

    The budget for debt payments for the district is fixed at about about 14.9 million, but currently payments are only $14.1 million. leaving $700,000 to cover additional borrowing costs for expansion, DiBello says. 

    Even though the district could borrow the entire cost of the project without exceeding its debt budget, the board decided it would be wise to use $3.4 million from capital reserve, he said, which will still leave "$10 million to $11 million in the capital reserve fund," he said.

    "After about five years, we'll see a huge drop-off in debt, down to about $9 million, and another three years after that, we'll drop off again so our payments will be about $3 million," said DiBello.

    DiBello said Spring-Ford has a good year financially and did not have to raise taxes last year, and used some of the excess funds to help fund the project.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

    0 0

    Photos submitted by West Pottsgrove Elementary School.
    Children's author Kenneth McCloskey talks to West Pottsgrove students about reading.

    Blogger's Note:The following post is a guest blog from West Pottsgrove Elementary Principal Terri Koehler. If you would like to submit a guest post, email it to

    Heidi Mottin reads her book "Rescuing Reed,"
    about a 
    dog who just happens to be listening...
    March 2, has become a very special day in schools across America as a celebration of reading.

    This is all because March 2 is the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. 

    The day has become known as Read Across America day across the country.

    At West Pottsgrove Elementary, we used the entire week of Feb. 26 to March 2 to celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading across the building. 

    We had daily spirit days such as Cat in the Hat Day, Crazy Sock Day and Oh the Places You Have Been to name a few. 

    The cafeteria even served green eggs and ham one day. 

    This was also in conjunction with our PTA Book Fair. 

    On Thursday March 1, we welcomed children’s author Kenneth McCloskey to share some of his writing with the students. 

    Mr. McCloskey read his book We Dig Worms and as a finale we had an earthworm race. 

    Mr. McCloskey also shared his process of writing a nonfiction story. Students had the chance to pre-purchase his books and he autographed each and every one for the students. 

    Mr. McCloskey also generously donated $2.00 per book purchased back to our PTA.

    Also on March 1, we welcomed another author to our family reading night. This was an opportunity for families to celebrate literacy and to shop the book fair. 

    We welcomed Heidi Mottin and Reed, her certified therapy dog. Heidi read her book Rescuing Reed to the students and their families and the children had an opportunity to meet Reed in person. 

    The story Rescuing Reed is a great story for children reminding them that everyone has great potential to do great things.

    We closed out our week on Friday March 2, with a celebration of Dr. Seuss and reading. 

    We had many guest readers throughout the building and our second grade students all partnered with a kindergarten class to share favorite Dr. Seuss books.

    We did not let Mother Nature deter our excitement about reading and the students had a wonderful time and had the chance to meet two authors up close and personal.

    0 0

    Blogger's Note:The following is an essay written by Boyertown Area High School student Abigail Slater. She was required to write an essay about "what she did wrong" while she served her one-day in-school in-school suspension for walking out of school on March 14 as part of the National Walk Out Day. If you would like to submit a guest post to this blog, send it to

    On March 14th, 2018, I, Abigail Slater, walked out of the building in protest of gun violence and security in schools. 

    This was an act of civil disobedience and I am proud to say I was part of this movement. I feel ashamed to be part of a school that punishes students for protesting, but it helped me in the long run. 

    After receiving my suspension, I interviewed with the newspaper. Not only was I able to get more attention to the cause, but since I received a punishment it got people’s attention. 

    The actions taken by the school against the students’ protest has sent a wave of anger and tension throughout the student body. I am optimistic that this will spark a movement towards change. 

    I would like to see more people walk out and protest. 

    Rosa Parks said, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” 

    The school tried to scare us by implementing punishments on students who walked out. For most students, the fear of being punished caused them to be silent. 

    I am not fearful of punishment. I am fearful of being silenced. 
    There are many of different types of people in this school, we usually just talk to people who are the most similar to ourselves. 

    Yesterday, I walked out with people who I usually wouldn’t talk to otherwise. It shows a common goal. 

    The walk out symbolized the unity of the student body. We all don’t talk to each other but when we all want change we come together. 

    This school is supposed to be about preparing us for our futures, but when we want to spark change to shape our futures, we are punished. 

    I hope this event proves to be a catalyst that triggers students to take a stand against authority to do what they believe is right. 

    I am proud of myself and the others who walked with me. I will encourage others to join me next time. 

    Our voices will be heard. We are the future.

    0 0

    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Mike Foltz, second from right, explains why bullet proof vests are not being issued to emergency medical technicians like Erik Loshnowsky, right, from Goodwill Ambulance. Township Manager Ed Wagner, left, and Township Commissioner and Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Lopez, second from left, hold a $3,000 check from the township which will go toward purchasing vests for Goodwill. Newly appointed Township Commissioner Mike McGroarty is at center.
    It's been almost 19 years since the horrific shooting at Columbine High School that left 15 people dead.
    Goodwill Ambulance EMT Erik Loshnowsky shows
    off one of the new bullet-proof vests now being used by EMTs

    Some of those victims died as police and SWAT teams ran past them, still alive but "bleeding out," Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Mike Foltz said Thursday.

    The police could not stop to help because the scene was not secure and active shooters were still on the loose, and they could not protect emergency medical personnel who might have saved some of those victims.

    "It's no longer practical to let victims bleed until scene is secure, so whether they are trying to help, or coming with us, medics need some protection," said Foltz.
    "We want you to know we appreciate what you do, and that we want to help keep you safe," said Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioner Ray Lopez, who is also a member of Ringing Hill Fire Company and the township's Emergency Management Coordinator.

    "The way the world is now, they're in the 'hot zone,'" Commissioners Chairman Bruce Foltz said of emergency medical technicians like Erik Loshnowsky, who was on hand Thursday night, complete with bullet-proof vests.

    Last year, while putting their budget together, the township commissioners decided that EMTS need as much protection in shooting situations as police.

    "Up until now, we had bee giving them our used vests which, after a few years of use, don't smell so good," said Chief Foltz.

    So with the ever-present giant check, the commissioners began what they hope will become a trend among surrounding municipalities served by Goodwill Ambulance and others, providing money to help buy them new bullet-proof vests.

    The other item of significance at the commissioners' meeting Thursday was to authorize the execution of documents to finalize the purchase of 2270 and 2272 E. High St. in Sanatoga.

    The price for each property is $100,000 and collectively make up .57 acres.  The property at 2270 is a duplex and the property at 2272 is a single family home.

    When combined with three other adjacent parcels --  2238 E. High St., 2258 E. High St. and 2255 Brown St. -- on which the township is also taking action, the township will have a site of more than two acres at the corner of East High Street and South Pleasantview Road.

    And although Chairman Foltz went to some length to say "no decisions have been made yet" and that the "infrastructure committee" has only gone so far as to make "wish lists," he, Chief Foltz and Lopez also went to great lengths to outline why the current township building on Buchert Road is too small for current needs.

    Chairman Foltz bristled at "the heat" he said the commissioners have been taking from those who say the efforts are "wasting money," saying "those people don't know what they're talking about."

    He said township employees would be happy to give anyone who does not believe that the current facility -- both the police headquarters in the basement and administrative offices above, are too small.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting: