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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Washington Elementary School music teacher Anita Boyer
    outlines the performance by the senior orchestra at
    Tuesday's Boyertown Area School Board Meeting.
    The Boyertown Area School Board faced the music Tuesday night in several ways.

    The first and most pleasant was the performance by the Washington Elementary School senior orchestra, which played two pieces for the board.

    The second, and decidedly less pleasant, were some budget numbers that put some hard choices in front of the board, including saving saving $1.8 million by cutting the very music program that had just serenaded them.

    The third, and most political, were comments from three residents of the district who take issue with an email sent out by board member Clay Breece, which they believe violatesthe board procedures adopted just two weeks ago, and which, they say, is dividing the board and the community.

    One of the speakers even called for Breece's resignation.

    He responded with a statement, seen in the video pasted below and which did not respond to the call for his resignation, but instead doubled down on his concerns about the school district interfering with parents' oversight and notification about things like questions about gender identity and that even warned of the "collectivism" championed by Karl Marx.

    You can read about it all in the Tweets below:

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    As a news professional, I would like to tell you that the 12-minute meeting of the Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioners Thursday night was eventful.

    Because then I would have something to report.

    But as a news professional, I am compelled to tell you it was a snoozer.

    Of some interest is the fact that the police department received permission to donate recovered bicycles to Liberty Thrift after they have been held unclaimed for a year.

    They have eight and they are taking up space.

    The board also tabled action on a "memorandum of understanding" with Police Chief Michael Foltz. The board held a closed-door executive session before the meeting that included discussion of personnel, so those two things may be related, but it's too early to tell for sure.

    Vice President Stephen Klotz, who handled the matter because the police chief is the son of President Bruce Foltz, said he wanted to table the matter "to make sure to get the language right.

    Otherwise, here are the Tweets, what few of them there are ....

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    Demitri Douglas, Student of the Month
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District

    Congratulations to Pottstown High School Senior Demitri Douglas for being chosen as the Student of the Month. 

    Demitri is involved in many activities.

    Currently he is in the cast of the All District Musical, "The Little Mermaid" and competes on the DECA Marketing Team and is member of the Trojan Wrestling Team. 

    In the classroom, Demitri holds a 3.0 grade point average and his favorite class is marketing. 

    He says his favorite part about Pottstown is the diversity in our school and the good friends he has made. 

    Congratulations also to Pottstown High School Teacher Mike Hewitt who has been named as the Staff Member of the month.
    Mike Hewitt is Staff Member of the Month

    Hewitt is a PHS graduate. In his first year as the Automotive Technology Instructor he has made many improvements to the program. 

    Students now wear uniforms while in the shop, the welding program has been overhauled, and students have mobile work stations. 

    Hewitt is very proud of the car detailing fundraiser that his program held. 

    The class far exceeded their goal of 20 vehicles by detailing 45 cars and vans.

    The next program project is preparing for the 2018 car show. Mike also helps coach both the Football and Wrestling teams at the Middle School. 

     Thanks to both Demitri and Mr. Hewitt for giving us two more reason to say Proud to be from Pottstown

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    The Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars are not to be trifled with.

    Have you ever wanted to be a rock star?

    Have you ever wanted to skate in roller derby?

    Have you ever wanted to do both?

    Well Feb. 5 is your big chance.

    That's when the Pottstown Roller Derby Rockstars will have their first intake for new skaters of the upcoming season.

    From 7 to 10 p.m. at Ringing Rocks Roller Rink in Lower Pottsgrove, the team will be holding its first practice and opening it up to those interested in joining.

    "All you need to bring with you is a mouthguard," writes team Vice President Crystal Hayduk. "We have rental skates, and limited gear available to help you get started."

    Participants must be at least 18 and need not have experience. 

    "We will help you every step of the way," sayd Hayduk. 

    You can email Hayduk at  with any questions.

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    From left, Brian Parkes, Executive Director, TriCounty Area 
    Active Adult Center; Felicity Jeans, Executive Director, Camphill Village Kimberton Hills 
    Louisa Pieri, Executive Director, Spring-Ford Counseling Services; Justine Pascal, Family and 
    Engagement Coordinator, Maternity Care Coalition; Sandra Devine Sai, Director, Personal 
    Navigator Program, Visiting Nurse Association; Mary Bright, Resident Board Member, 
    Camphill Village Kimberton Hills,; Mary Ellen Dice, President, PAHWF East Auxiliary; Leslie 
    Slingsby, Executive Director, and Kelli Murphy, Grants Manager, Mission Kids Child Advocacy 
    Center; Laura DeFlavia, Controller, and Dave Kraybill, President, Pottstown Area Health and 
    Wellness Foundation.

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

    Several area nonprofits will benefit from fundraising efforts of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation East Auxiliary. 

    The Auxiliary operates the “Just For You” gift shop that is located in the lobby of Pottstown Hospital-Tower Health. The gift shop is open to the public.

    Mary Ellen Dice, President of the East Auxiliary, recently presented a $20,000 check to representatives of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and six of its grantees.

    These funds have been distributed as part of the Foundation’s fall 2017 grant round and were awarded to the following organizations and its programs:
    • Camphill Village Kimberton Hills– Aging in Community Program: Camphill Village provides personalized and preventative care to aging residents with developmental disabilities and struggles with independent living.
    • Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County– Mission Kids: Fostering the resilient child through family advocacy and forensic interviews. Mission Kids is a collaborative effort to stop the cycle of abuse and improve the outcomes for abused children and their families.
    • Maternity Care Coalition– Pottstown Area Early Head Start and Parenting Initiative: Maternity Care Coalition strives to improve maternal and child health and well-being through the collaborative efforts of individuals, families, providers, and communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
    • Spring-Ford Counseling Services– Signs of Suicide: Spring-Ford Counseling addresses the emotional and educational needs of the surrounding communities.
    • TriCounty Active Adult Center– Prime Time Health - Making healthier lives possible for older adults: TriCounty AAC is a community center for adults aged 50 and better, offering exercise classes, social and recreational programs, educational programs, a daily lunch and much more.
    • Visiting Nurse Association Community Services, Inc. (VNA)– Personal Navigator Program with Expanded Legal Support: The Pottstown VNA provides home health care and hospice care in Montgomery County and nearby areas in northern Chester County.
    The Auxiliary’s fundraising efforts included proceeds from sales of the “Just For You” gift shop, in addition to their annual holiday bazaar. New members are always welcome. For more information on how to become a member and how to get involved in the Auxiliary’s fundraising efforts, call the Pottstown Hospital- Tower Health Gift Shop at 610-327- 7044.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor.

    Uncover the evening work and routines of the Potts family and their household staff with this engaging and informative new exhibit, Good Night at the Manor.

    The exhibit will begin Saturday, Feb. 24 and run through Sunday, Nov. 11. Tours of the exhibit will be given during regular museum hours. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

    Be among the first to view the busy nighttime activities of 1750s Pottsgrove Manor on Saturday, Feb.y 24, from 4 to 6 p.m. 

    The exhibit will open with a special introduction by the exhibit’s curator, Amy Reis, at 4 p.m. This will be followed by candlelit tours of the Manor.

    Sunset did not mean the end of the work day in colonial America. 

    The site’s new exhibit will highlight the evening routines and tasks of everyone in the 1752 Manor house and answer such questions as how did they see at night before electric lights? 

    Visitors will learn about the many duties the servants and slaves in the house completed such as cleaning, sewing, and preparing for the next day. Nightly rituals of an elite family, such as John and Ruth Potts along with their 13 children, will be explored. 

    Guests can learn the differences between the materials used in making fine expensive candles to the cheaper and greasy tallow candles. 

    Participants can smell a popular bedtime tea and historic beauty ingredients, and find out if they can identify the sounds of the night common to a colonial home. 

    Original 18th century objects such as sleep ware and lighting will be on display in the exhibit room while an interactive space allows you to figure out how far candlelight can really go.

    Pottsgrove Manor is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. Guided tours last about 45 minutes to 1 hour and the last tour of each day departs at 3pm. Tours welcome all ages. The Museum Shop is stocked with books, reproduction pieces, colonial toys and games, and tons of unique gifts so you can bring a sense of history home.

    Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422 near the Carousel at Pottsgrove and Manatawny Green Miniature Golf Course, in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by the Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites.

    For more information, call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at

    Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at

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    Photos by Evan Brandt

    Once the contamination is removed from Pollock Park, the borough will try to get funding to implement this master plan for a new park.

    Updating and improving Pollock Park has become complicated after an environmental study of the two-acre site found heavy metal and other chemical contamination beneath the soil.

    Nevertheless, having a master plan in place will help attract funding to pay for the park once the clean-up has occurred.

    The clean-up will take at least 14 to 16 months from now according to Joseph Kraycik, a consulting geoscienctist with Environmental Standards, the Valley Forge-based firm that discovered the contamination.
    Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart addresses
    environmental concerns during the Pollock Park meeting.

    Funding for the clean-up could come from a variety of sources, said Michael Lenhart, Pottstown's director of parks and recreation. In fact, he said, he has already gathered the paperwork for the first grant application to the federal government.

    Because the park is now considered a "brownfield," a name for former industrial sites that have contamination, it may actually be easier to attract funding to pay for the park, once the clean-up is done, said Lenhart.

    And they're going to need it.

    Because now that the park will be taken down to soil, all the trees,m pavement and vegetation removed, the estimated price has jumped from $300,000 to $600,000.

    Residents also posed questions and expressed concern about the clean-up, whether they would be exposed and whether any previous exposure might have caused long-term health problems.

    There were no immediate answers.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Genesis Housing.

    Genesis Housing and CADCOM are pleased to announce that the BB&T Bus is heading to Pottstown on Friday, Feb. 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

    Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Income Tax Prep will be provided to qualified taxpayers. 

    Free credit reports will be available. 

    In addition, info on housing, financial classes, housing, banking and more will be offered.

    The BB&T Bus will provide financial resources with internet access including:

    1) CADCOM will provide free VITA tax prep. Taxpayers must bring all tax related documents, photo ID and social security cards. Appointments are strongly recommended.

    2) BB&T Bank will provide free credit reports and information on banking - basics, checking and college savings accounts.

    3) Genesis Housing will provide info on credit and budgeting classes.
    4) Resource Table with have info on Habitat for Humanity and other local social service programs.

    Space is limited so appointments are recommended. 

    For Pottstown, call CADCOM at 610-277-6363, Ext 115 to schedule an appointment.

    The BB&T Bus offers information and resources covering a variety of topics and is part of BB&T’s community program to “meet you more than half way”.

    CADCOM was established as a nonprofit in 1966 as the lead Anti-Poverty Agency in Montgomery County working to coordinate strategic planning, economic development, community development and to create a partnership between public and private entities to serve the needs of county residents.

    The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. 

    Information on free file software offers for people with incomes of less than $66,000 will also be provided.

    Willow Grove CDC was founded in 1990 by local bankers, clergymen, attorneys and realtors to address the need for affordable housing for low-to-moderate income people in the Willow Grove area.

    Since 1994, Genesis Housing Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has served Montgomery County as a community housing development organization (CHDO) and is dedicated to the development of affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and the education of consumers on housing and financial issues.

    For more information about Genesis Housing Corporation and our programs, please visit our website at, email at, visit us on Facebook or call 610-275-4357.

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    Submitted Photo
    Back row, from left, Kishan Patel, Erynn Dunning, Jocelyn Malauulu, Gabe Roseo, Xzavier Francis Williams, Allison Horne. Front row, from left, Akira Love, Colin Dellaquila. Not pictured: Chasey Jules

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

    Congratulations to Pottstown Middle and High School Band members who were selected to preform in the 62nd Annual Inter-County Band Concert at Phoenixville Area Middle School on Saturday, Jan. 27.

    This ensemble is an all star team compromised of select 7th, 8th and 9th grade band students from 11 local school districts. 

    The night was filled with the sounds of students displaying their talents. 

    Kate German, Middle School Band Director, said Pottstown students appreciated being selected and the opportunity to preform with other outstanding students from across the county. 

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

    On Sunday, Feb. 11, in time for Valentine’s Day, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace will host a presentation of "Ruth's Daughters," a new work by playwright Christine Emmert. 

    Sponsored by the Friends of Hopewell Furnace, the free program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Hopewell Furnace Conference Room.

    Emmert, whose play “From Out the Fiery Furnace” has captivated audiences in the Delaware River Valley for more than ten years, offers this new work which promises to take the audience on a dip into the rich mix of female Jewish writers. 

    Everyone from the biblical Ruth to modern scribes are commenting on their faith, their fears and joys in the pens of such as Anne Frank, Gertrude Stein, Nora Ephron and others.

    Actress, playwright, and director Christine Emmert lives in Valley Forge.Her interest in women's issues has influenced her artistic work. 

    In addition to her work on Hopewell Furnace, she has performed “Fragile Freedom,” a work dedicated to the struggles for women’s rights. She has several pieces out on Kindle including - "Ismene and Lilith" - stories of women who solve their crises and a full length novel, "the Nun's Dragon."
    During the 19th Century, women at Hopewell Furnace received equal pay for equal work. They held many of the same jobs as men. Bethesda Baptist Church that is still at Hopewell Furnace was originally constructed as a meeting house where all faiths were able to worship.

    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

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area.

    The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area has introduced a new brewery tour that will pair beer tastings with lessons on history and the environment.

    The unique Heritage and Hops Brew Tour being offered on Saturday Feb. 24 will take 45 participants to four local breweries located within the Schuylkill River Watershed from Phoenixville to Reading.

    Unfortunately, it is also sold out and the wait list is full. But it sure sounds fun.

    Each brewery, in addition to offering tastings of beers produced on site, will provide a presentation about its connection to the Schuylkill River, Schuylkill River Trail or regional history.

    The Heritage and Hops Brew Tour has proven to be overwhelmingly popular. Past events sold out one week after ticket sales opened. Cost of the tour is $55 per person.

    The tour will begin at Oakbrook Brewing, in Reading, where the presentation will focus on its historic firehouse location. 

    The next stop will be Sly Fox Brewery, in Pottstown, where participants will learn about how SRT Ale supports the Schuylkill River Trail. 

    After that, Hidden River Brewing Co., located in the Historic Brinton Lodge in Douglassville, will discuss the fascinating history of its 18th Century building. 

    The final stop will be Root Down, in Phoenixville, where the topic will be the history of Phoenixville and their building’s industrial past.

    The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA is introducing the Heritage and Hops Brew Tour to draw attention to some of the unique breweries in the area, while simultaneously promoting regional history and underscoring the value of clean water.

    “You can’t make great beer without clean water,” said Schuylkill River Greenways NHA Executive Director Elaine Schaefer. “We know the people who will take this tour all enjoy local beer. But they may not consider how integrally beer making is connected to protecting and preserving the Schuylkill River, which is a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.”

    The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA, located in Pottstown, is dedicated to connecting people and communities to the Schuylkill River, and to encouraging people to value the region’s history and protect the environment. The organization is best known for its role in working with partners to build and improve the Schuylkill River Trail.

    Building the trail and protecting the river both have economic development and community revitalization benefits that are related to the rise of breweries throughout the Schuylkill River region.

    “Breweries benefit from the presence of the Schuylkill River Trail, just as they benefit from clean water,” said Schaefer. “Sly Fox Brewery created SRT Ale because they recognized that beer and recreation often go hand in hand.”

    Schaefer said she is excited about the popularity of the tour. But she hopes the message about the importance of history and conservation resonates far beyond the tour itself.

    “Beer and breweries are a valuable and fun piece of our regional culture. We want people to recognize the role the river and the Schuylkill River Trail play in building that culture,” she said. 

    For more information, call 484-945- 0200

    The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA mission is to connect residents, visitors and communities to the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail by serving as a catalyst for civic engagement and economic development in order to foster stewardship of the watershed and its heritage.

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    The Pottstown Police Athletic League is starting a new girls lacrosse program for players in fifth through eighth grade.

    Players will "learn and develop the fundamentals of lacrosse and play against area teams."

    Practice and home games will be at the PAL Sports Complex at 1455 Chestnut Grove Road, which is near the Route 100 and North State Street interchange.

    Away games could be played in Boyertown, Phoenixville, Methacton, Upper Perk, Perk Valley and in the Coventries.

    PAL is part of the Philadelphia Area Girls Lacrosse Association's Tri-County Division, (Visit for more information.)

    Practices begin in March and games will extend through May.

    Registration is now open at and the $100 registration fee includes membership with PAGLA, insurance, use of practice and game pinnys and team socks.

    The team will be led by Shelby Iezzi, who played at Owen J. Roberts High School and Bloomsberg University and has coached Pope John Paul II and Dynamite Lacrosse since 2012.

    Contact her at with questions or concerns.

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    Upper Providence Township Supervisors took two votes Monday night undoing actions taken by the previous board.

    The first was to rescind instruction given by the previous board to oppose at a zoning hearing an application by a company with Verizon as its client to build a "stealth" cell tower at 248 Rittenhouse Road, near Pope John Paul II High School.

    Newly installed Board president John Pearson said he was inclined to let the zoning board "do its job" without having the township solicitor there objecting.

    There was no shortage of residents opposed to the project objecting at last night's meeting. Supervisor Al Vagnozzi voted to continue the township's objections with the zoning board, but Pearson was joined by supervisors Helen Calci and Laurie Higgins in letting the matter be decided without township input.

    The second vote stirred more passion when the board voted unanimously to cancel an order for a new ambulance and take 60 days to come up with a broader plan for emergency medical services.

    It grows out of concern that response times in the township, generally under 10 minutes, are still too long and that an ambulance needs to be stationed in the township to improve them.

    Although Vagnozzi voted with the majority, he was the one defending the previous vote to buy the ambulance saying that it had been discussed for years and it was a way to defray costs for one of the two companies now providing service, Trappe and Friendship.

    But Pearson and Higgins, who interrupted Vagnozzi several times as he tried to speak, described the action as haphazard.

    Vagnozzi ultimately agreed that the new board members should be given more time and suggested a committee of himself and Calci work with the administration to come up with a plan.

    But despite the general agreement, some bickering continued with Pearson saying "you can threaten me all you want" after resident Michael Fil said if anyone died because of a delayed ambulance during the 60-day delay on which the supervisors agreed that would "bring it back to this board."

    And, when resident Kevin Holohan began a lengthy response to Pearson's evidently rhetorical question about previous board action, Pearson turned to Vagnozzi and said "Al, do you want to call your dog off?"

    Holohan told Pearson to "enjoy your time back on the board while you still can."

    The board also approved final site plans for a new Starbucks on Egypt Road.

    You can read all about it below in the live Tweets and video from the meeting.

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    The property surrounded by the red line is proposed for redevelopment.
    There may be some changes coming to the intersection of Ridge Pike and Fruitville Road and Airport Road, but you'll only be able so see one of them.

    A series of issues before the Limerick Township Supervisors Tuesday night gave a glimpse of what's in store.

    The more visible of the two changes are plans to build two retail commercial properties and 19 single family attached homes on a combined 5.5 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection of Ridge Pike and Fruitville Road.

    Its a site that has served as several unsuccessful bars and restaurants.

    This plan shows two commercial buildings along Ridge Pike,

    and the housing units in the rear.
    Piazza Realty was before the supervisors seeking permission to raze that building and erect several new ones.

    Both the commercial buildings and the town homes would comply with the zoning ordinances architectural design standards, the developers testified.

    And a traffic study concluded the re-development would have no adverse impact on the intersection or surrounding roads.

    The supervisors took the testimony under advisement and will render a decision within 35 days.

    The other change coming is across the street and is, for the most part, invisible.

    It turns out part of the property used by Triad Truck Equipment Co., on the southwest corner of Ridge Pike and Airport Road, is actually owned by the adjacent Pottstown-Limerick Airport and has been rented for years. The airport now wants to sell the property and Triad wants to merge the two parcels into one.

    What was debated Tuesday was whether that should trigger the Main Street zoning streetscaping and landscaping requirements as will be undertaken at the other project across the street.

    But over the strenuous objections of Supervisor Thomas Neafcy, the three remaining board members (Chairperson Elaine DeWan was absent) said it would be silly, since the truck company could buy the property, not merge the parcels, and would be required to do nothing.

    "Time and time again, this board has had an opportunity to do the Main Street streetscaping and this board waives it. I don't understand it," lamented Neafcy.

    As the meeting wound down, resident Oliver Kennedy presented the board with a copy of a resolution adopted by neighboring Upper Providence Township supporting a Constitutional amendment to have Pennsylvania Congressional and statehouse districts be drawn up by a citizens commission instead of the politicians who benefit from them.

    Kennedy criticized the board for appearing to be ignoring it, just as new Supervisor Patrick Morroney was making a motion to adopt the resolution.

    Neafcy lashed out at the criticism, noting that Morroney was reading from a prepared statement. "This is a set-up," he said.

    Kennedy said he only asked the board to consider the resolution and Vice Chairman Ken Sperring, who was running the meeting in DeWan's absence, said the board would, noting that currently the issue is in the hands of the courts.

    "It's been adopted by Upper Providence," said Kennedy, to which Sperring replied curtly, "this isn't Upper Providence."

    There was no second to Morroney's motion and the board adjourned, after which Neafcy and Kennedy continued to debate the matter in the audience, each accusing the other of bringing politics into the issue.

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    The long wait to see how a special council ad hoc committee would be able to lower this year's 12 percent tax hike came to and end last night.

    The short answer is, they can't.

    In a letter to council (which was mysteriously missing from the links of other documents on the agenda), the seven members of committee said none of the options they explored could be implemented in time to affect this year's budget.

    Sadly, this was not a check to solve the borough's fiscal woes, but a 
    $1,900 check from the Pottstown Rotary Club to help with upkeep 
    and repairs to the war memorials in Memorial Park.
    They recommended keeping the millage adopted in December -- which represents a 12 percent increase over last year's rate.

    They also noted that the borough has been notified that its bond rating may be downgraded "if finances don't immediately improve."

    The group will continue to meet and any savings resulting from short-term suggestions should be directed to the general fund reserves -- the same reserves council raided for the past three years to keep taxes down.

    Reserves are also needed, they wrote "to re-establish contributions to the capital fund deficit of approximately $1 million."

    Short-term suggestions include more closely assessing the services provided by an employee and adjusting the fee schedule to better recoup costs; as well as cease the Wednesday night late hours from 4 to 7 p.m. in order to save on over time and heating and lighting costs.

    As these things are going on, the borough will also be benefiting from a consultant paid for by the state's Early Intervention Program, who will be tasked with finding ways to further streamline and bolster the borough's finances.

    Other suggestions include moving to a "cashless" system for paying utility bills and taxes which will ultimately allow for the elimination of one of the window positions.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Meet David Goldberg, the newest member of the Phoenixville Area School Board.

    Seven people applied to replace Mike Ellis on the Phoenixville School Board, but after two withdrew, the board chose one from among five remaining applicants.

    The school board conducted public interviews with all five -- Troy Johnson Jr., Maureen Ahearn, David Goldberg, Sandra Tucker and Ayisha Sereni -- each individually, according to School Board President Lisa Longo.

    The board re-convened and all but Tucker were the subject of a vote, as her nomination did not receive a second.
    David Goldberg takes the oath of office as Phoenixville's newest

    school board member,

    Goldberg, 45, is a Schuylkill Township resident and assistant professor of criminal justice at Goldey-Beacom College in Wilmington, Del.

    He said concern about his children's homework load brought him to his first board meeting and remains a concern of his.

    (When that subject was raised Thursday night, Superintendent Alan Fegley convinced the board to let the staff "have first crack at it," rather than have it discussed in the policy committee. Board member Kevin Pattinson said he did not think setting a specific policy was a good idea as "it puts the board in the classroom.")

    Goldberg said his other issues of interest are the discussions of later start times and budget and taxes.

    He said a friend pointed the vacancy out to him and he applied. "If you had told me three weeks ago that I was about to be a school board member, I would have laughed at you," he said.

    He will service until the expiration of Ellis' term, December of 2019. Goldberg said he has "absolutely no idea" if he will seek a full four-year term at that time.

    The school board also adopted a preliminary $94 million budget for the 2018-2019 school year which finance committee chairman Eric Daugherty took great pains to say "will not be the final budget we adopt in June."

    Nonetheless, the budget passed with all but Goldberg's vote (he abstained), would raise the millage by 4 percent to 32 mills, using "exceptions" for school construction and special education to exceed the state-imposed tax cap of 2.4 percent.

    Even with the $875,000 generated by those exceptions, the preliminary budget has a $3.2 million deficit which would, under current circumstances, have to be made up with reserves.

    Longo said the district's successful challenge of the tax exempt status of Tower Health, which has been appealed in Chester County courts, makes is "likely" that at least this year, Phoenixville Hospital will be  paying its tax bill of $950,000.

    However, she said, the budget adopted last night is conservative in the sense that does not include that revenue.

    The board's last act was to vote unanimously (Goldberg abstained) to adopt a resolution opposing Pennsylvania State Senate Bill 2, which, board member Blake Emmanuel explained, "opens the door" to vouchers and could impact Phoenixville, even though it is not an "under-performing school district."

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting.

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    The Pottstown High School Basketball Team, shown hear wearing special T-shirts with his name, honored the memory of Shamir Edwards at their final game of the season.

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

    The Pottstown Boys Basketball Team honored Fallen Trojan Shamir Edwards before their last home game recently.

    Shamir was a student at the high school from 2012 to 2016, he received his diploma in June of 2016
    Shamir's jersey
    and was accepted to East Stroudsburg University. 

    In November of 2016, early in his freshman year, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. 

    Six months later, in June of 2016, at the age of 19, Shamir passed away.

    His family, friends, teachers, teammates and his school have mourned his passing. 

    The players, coaches and administration paid honor to his memory by dedicating the game in his name. 

    The game, also served as a fundraiser to establish a scholarship in his name to be given to a graduating senior athlete exemplifying the qualities of courage and humility. 

    An empty seat was placed on the Pottstown bench draped with a number 11 jersey symbolizing his loss. 

    His family along with friends and honored guests, were asked to come to center-court to be introduced. 

    Shamir's memory will live on in the hearts of his family and teammates.He will be an honored chapter in Trojan Basketball history.

    Shamir's family was on-hand for the ceremony, indicating his number, 11, with their fingers.

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    About time for a new one don't you think?
    Blogger's Note: The Following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    The Foundation for Pottstown Education is currently working with Publishing Concepts Inc (PCI) on updating the Alumni Directory that was last published in 2009. 

    Postcards and email to Pottstown High School Alumni were sent beginning Friday.

    The Foundation would like to encourage all alumni to respond to the mailings. 

    While there will be options to purchase the directories in hard copies or electronic versions, no purchases are required. 

    If you are a Pottstown High School alumni, 
    look for this notice in your mailbox
    The Foundation does not receive any proceeds from this publication, but will receive copies of the final book in both forms. 

    The information from this book can be helpful to the classes trying to contact their classmates and the Foundation will be happy to assist with this process.

    The timeline for this process is as follows:
    • Feb. 9: mailings to Alumni begin
    • Feb. 12: inbound phone lines to PCI will be open
    • Aug. 10: last day to update contact information
    • Dec.: final publication will be shipped
    If any alumni do not receive the mailings, they are encouraged to contact the Foundation Office 610-970-6616. The Foundation Office hours typically are Mondays through Fridays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.. 

    The office is closed on any days that the Pottstown School District is not open. During closed times, leave a message which will be returned as soon as possible.

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    Pottstown Plating is located at the intersection of Industrial Highway

    and South Washington St.
    Rebuilding and redeveloping an old industrial town involves tough choices.

    When an industrial company goes under, it means it has no money to pay employees, or for anything else -- particularly an expensive environmental clean-up.

    So it's little surprise that when Pottstown Plating finally went belly up more than 10 years ago, it not only wasn't paying its taxes, or its water and sewer bills, there's no way it was paying to clean up the mess decades of plating operations had left behind at the South Washington Street facility.

    As the unpaid taxes and fees build up, the potential for someone to come along and take on not only the liability for the environmental clean-up, but also the financial liability of the ever-escalating fees and taxes, dwindles.

    Usually, to unlock this Gordian Knot, something has to give. Monday night, borough council indicated its willingness to not so much give, as forgive.

    Even though Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller would not reveal the identity of the developer who is interested, brought through PAID Executive Editor Peggy Lee-Clark, council willingly voted unanimously to forgive more than $225,000 worth of unpaid taxes and water/sewer bills.

    That's because they know that it may be the only way that property starts generating tax revenue again, and without that forgiveness, the numbers of uncollected taxes, funds and fines will keep growing with little hope of ever collecting it -- little more than numbers on a page.

    The money is already written off, and so is not revenue expected for this year's budget. The mystery developers will still need to convince the school board to forgive another $308,000 that the property owes the school district to move forward.

    Keller said that will be on Thursday's school board meeting agenda.

    Before the forgiveness becomes final, the developers must present -- and council must approve -- a business plan for the property

    Keller, noting that the developer has plans to invest $2 million into the property to get it back onto the tax rolls, said "quite frankly we're lucky to have a developer take on these risks and expenses,"

    Apparently, council agreed. 

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    The Boyertown Area School Board voted 8-1 Tuesday night to adopt a $115 million preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year that would raise taxes by 5.44 percent.

    Even tax hawks Clay Breece, Robert Caso and Ruth Dierolf voted for the plan convinced, evidently by Interim Superintendent David Krem's argument that not adopting the plan would limit flixibility later on.

    Board member Christine Neiman cast the only dissenting vote.

    "I want to keep all programs, but comes a time in life when something's got to give," she said. "We have to stop spending unnecessarily on stuff, be more fiscally responsible to community."

    Breece, Dierolf and Caso had also all indicated their opposition to the plan until Krem spoke.

    "Even if you decide to close a school, the state procedure takes 24 months. It would not affect the coming budget," said Krem, arguing for the necessity of the "flexibility" applying for exceptions gives.

    Krem was referring to the "exceptions" contained in Act 1 which requires school boards to either adopt a preliminary budget that stays within the state-imposed tax cap, or index, by the end of February; or adopt a resolution pledging to keep within that index in the final budget adoption in June.

    Boyertown has adopted that resolution in recent years, but a motion to do so two weeks ago failed on a 5-4 vote, with Caso, Breece, Dierolf and Neiman all voting to stay within the cap.

    Under Act 1, if you don't stay within the index, which for Boyertown this year is 2.9 percent, you need to seek voter approval in the spring primary -- unless you seek "exceptions" from the state for a set of prescribed reasons that include pension payments, special education and construction.

    In Boyertown's case, they are seeking the special education exception, approved by the board with only Dierolf and Neiman voting no, that allows the spending of up to $1,583,570 above the amount raised by the index.

    "The hammer hasn't even dropped yet in terms of what's coming in the next two or three years," said Krem, referring to the pension crisis, urging the board to ensure it has all its options available to deal with the difficult decisions ahead. 

    Not adopting the preliminary budget before the February deadline means, "you're basically cutting your own throat," he said.

    "Take special education for example," said Krem. "If don't approve this budget, that's $1.5 million you can't claim that your taxpayers will have to make up," he said.

    The budget, as it stands now early in the process, has a deficit of nearly $5 million — $4,973,252 to be exact -- according to the agenda.

    Raising taxes to the index would reduce the deficit to $3.2 million and adding extra revenue from the exceptions would reduce it further still to $1.6 million.

    Residents also supported the board's choice.

    GOOD JOB: School Resource Officer Gregory Miller, right,
    a former 

    Boyertown Police Officer, is congratulated
    by Brandon Foose on being 
    named Police Liaison
    Officer of the Year by the Community Youth 
    Panel of Berks County.
    Resident Stephanie Deiterich said regular, manageable increases are like investing in a retirement account, except the beneficiaries over time are the community and the students.
    She urged board members to stop using "houses up for sheriff's sale" for non-payment of taxes as a tool to instill fear about the budget. She said her research shows less than 1 percent of the homes in the district are up for tax sale.

    John Landio, the board's former president, said some had "duped the community into thinking we can have zero tax hikes, and said the board needs to "work together," noting that The Philadelphia Eagles did not win the Super Bowl as individuals, but as a team.

    Lisa Hogan of Gilbertsville said she has four children in school and although she "loves my money," she advocated for increased taxes to preserve the programs and reputation of the school district.

    As Finance Committee Chairman Steve Eisler pointed out, it is very early in the process and the figures are likely to change several times before June.

    In the interests of maintaining flexibility, Caso and Breece both said they would change their vote. Ultimately, so too did Dierolf. "Let's pass it, get it over with and sharpen the pencils afterward," said Caso.

    Caso also criticized the previous board for failing to undertake a year-long budget review and Krem agreed. "when you're doing a budget, you should also be looking two and three years out," he said.

    Eisler agreed.

    "We need a new CFO, new look, and new ideas. We need new blood," he said. 

    Longtime Chief Financial Officer David Szablowski announced his departure in November.

    "So much of what we do is mandated, we have so little control of much of our budget," said School Board president Donna Usavage. "What's left is close to the students."

    Board member Brandon Foose suggested the board set up a workshop meeting dedicated solely to brainstorming about ways to cut costs and trim the tax hike without cutting programs.

    Resident Ruth Baker offered up some suggestions, including using solar power, having energy audits done to sdave on operating costs; cutting the number of vice principals in the high schools and planting trees to shade buildings and cut down on air conditioning costs.

    In another matter of interest, the board also voted to spend $16,000 on further study and suggested solutions to structural problems at the Memorial Stadium at Boyertown Area Senior High School.

    We'll have more on that in later editions of The Mercury.

    In the meantime, here are the Tweets.

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

    Nominations for 2018’s Tribute to Exceptional Women, sponsored by YWCA Tri-County Area, are open through Monday, Feb. 19.

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

    Nomination forms may be found online at

    The 23 rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women will be Thursday, March 29, at the River Crest Golf
    Club and Preserve in Phoenixville. 

    Tribute to Exceptional Women recognizes women for their ability to lead by example, embrace community responsibility, and excel in their careers.

    YW3CA has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women in the Tri-County and surrounding areas.

    Marjorie Margolies will be the keynote speaker for the Tribute to Exceptional Women. 
    Marjorie Margolies

    Ms. Margolies is the president of Women’s Campaign International, an organization that works worldwide to help women build knowledge, skills and leadership that can transform communities in developing nations. Ms. Margolies has served on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an alumna. 

    She is a former broadcast journalist, and represented Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-95. 

    In 1995, she served as the Director of the United States delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.

    Tickets for the event are on sale now. 

    The evening’s program includes cocktails and a popular silent auction, the Tribute dinner, and presentation of awards.

    Proceeds from Tribute to Exceptional Women support YWCA Tri-County Area’s mission to

    eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

    YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, and educates children, youth, families, and and communities through programming that empowers individuals to learn and grow across the lifespan, providing the foundation for a healthy and thriving community; empowers people to learn, grow, and take a stand; and advocates for the health and safety and empowerment and economic development of women and girls, and for racial and social justice.

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    Six months and one school board election after punting on a decision to grant raises to administrators, and non-teacher-union personnel, the newly constituted board voted unanimously to provide 4 percent raises to all.

    In August, former board member Polly Weand had made a strident objection to the raises and had predicted they would be adopted after her term was up.

    She was right.

    School Board member Kurt Heidel apologized that it had taken so long, but the raises are retroactive to July 1, so I'm guessing all will be forgiven.

    Board member Susan Lawrence said she finds it "unconscionable that our support staff is not paid a living wage."

    With those raises, the lowest hourly wage paid to that group of employees will be $11.22 per hour, according to the helpful spreadsheet provided as an attachment to the agenda by Maureen Jampo, who apparently understands that showing the current wage, and the new one, is helpful when assessing impact.

    That same document indicated that the 18 administrators who do not have individual contracts with the school district received raises totaling $61,500 in new spending. The new salaries ranged from a high of $119,000 for Deena Cellini, human resources director, to a low of $64,000 for transportation coordinator Lisa Schade.

    Seven of those 16 administrators now earn more than $100,000 per year.

    Here is another way community members can

    learn how to be more effective advocates
    for the school district.
    "I know a lot of people in Pottstown will say 'wow, 4 percent, that's pretty high,' but you all should know its unlikely there will be any raises next year, so think of this as a two-year raise," said Heidel.

    The board also followed in borough council's lead and unanimously voting to forgive unpaid back taxes at the former Pottstown Plating works on South Washington Street in an attempt to get the potentially polluted property redeveloped.

    The board further gave Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez direction to create a citizens budget advisory committee, although some on the board seemed to doubt many would be interested
    Board member John Armato said the effort is worthwhile, even it the only benefit is greater awareness about the fiscal challenges faced by the board and the district.

    Previous attempts to get input from the community have all fallen very flat.

    Board member Ron Williams urged the community (and the media) to suggest potential members to Heidel, who had come up with idea.

    But apparently, Heidel is only interested in ideas from residents, no matter how good the outside expertise.

    As Williams requested, this reporter approached Heidel after the meeting and suggested Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, who might bring an economic development expertise to the discussion, and the Rev. Vernon Ross, who heads a large community church in town and once served as a school board member in Norristown, as possible advisory board members.

    But Heidel said because they do not live in Pottstown, he did not think they would be right. "I want stakeholders," he said. Apparently, the fact that the school district is among the public entities which pay Lee-Clark's salary; and the fact that Ross has steadfastly resisted outside pressure and refused to move his church outside the borough, and is a proven fund-raiser and community leader, are not stake enough.
    Ariel, Triton, Sebastian and Prince Eric prepare to perform for the board.

    So the only budget ideas worth considering, according to Heidel, must come from inside the borough borders. How's that been working out for us so far?

    Hopefully, he will continue to consider budget ideas from the district's superintendent, who not only does not live in Pottstown, but lives in a whole different county!

    "But maybe other board members have other ideas," said Heidel, who has professed a desire to involve former board member Tom Hylton. Well, at least they all live in the borough.

    And what would an early spring school board meeting be without an appearance from the district's performing artists? Boring that's what.

    Luckily, the cast members of "The Little Mermaid," this year's district-wide music, which has nearly 180 students involved, was anything but boring in their preview

    Below, amid the Tweets, you will find several videos of the two performance pieces they offered. They sounded great, so buy those tickets before they're sold out.

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    Photos courtesy of the Pottstown School District
    Pottstown High School Senior Eriq Johnson donates blood for the seventh time.

    Student proctor Tim Mutter has given blood more than 100 times.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.

    Pottstown High School students and staff showed their love for the community by literally giving a gift from the heart.

    Forty-three units of blood were donated during the recent blood drive sponsored by the high school Health Occupations class in partnership with the Miller Keystone Blood Bank. 

    Nala Johnson was among the Pottstown students who donated.
    Senior Eriq Johnson, a Culinary Arts student, who has already donated six times said, "the first time I was just curious about my blood type, but I have come to realize how important giving blood is to the efforts of saving people's lives."

    He plans to enter the military as a chef and, when he returns to civilian life. open a restaurant. 

    Student proctor Tim Mutter is no stranger to caring and giving since entering the military in 1969 he has donated over 100 units of life saving blood. 

    Pottstown High School studdnt Bryce Redd
    was happy to donate blood.
    "Knowing that I can help a family in need, just like I would want someone to help my family is important," said Mutter. 

    Health Occupations teacher Michaela Johnson said "I am very proud of our students and staff for many years Pottstown High School has been one of the top donors in the region."

    Johnson added,  "our efforts are truly a expression of caring for the Pottstown community."

    The donations stay right here in Pottstown with every unit able to help save seven lives.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Green Allies.

    The GreenAllies organization, managers of the Althouse Arboretum in Upper Pottstgrove, will be hosting an electronics and appliance recycling event at the Hillside Aquatic Club parking lot, located at 134 W. Moyer Road on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    There is a $10 donation per vehicle (unlimited amount). Student volunteers will be there to assist and unload each vehicle.

    The recycling day is open to everyone and some charges do apply. 

    Properly recycle all your electronics for a $10 fee, EXCEPT for air conditioners ($5), dehumidifiers ($5), refrigerators ($10). 

     Old TV’s and computer monitors are also accepted for safe and proper disposal for a fee of $45 up to 30 inches and $65 for anything larger. 

    All materials will be recycled by PAR Recycling Services. 

    More information can be found at or by calling 267-371-2288.

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    The travels of my company's sole municipal reporter for the region can take me far and wide ... and sometimes to more meetings than one in a night.

    Having been attracted to the Limerick Township Supervisors meeting by a vote on a new police contract -- more on that tomorrow -- I found myself free by 8 p.m., only a half-hour into the Spring-Ford School Board meeting just down the road.

    And so your intrepid reporter trundled down Lewis Road to what, according to the agenda, would be the back half of meeting with no big news anticipated.

    And then Mark Dehnert spoke.

    Noting the recent tragedy at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, Dehnert said he would like to see the administration look into having armed security in every school building.

    And suddenly, there was news, both timely and poignant.

    It just goes to show you, never trust an agenda.

    Anyway, as you will be able to see from the Tweets below, the conversation ranged from whether armed security would be effective -- "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," said Dehnert in his best NRA impression of NRA President Wayne LaPierre -- to when and how longs the doors to the school are open.

    The fact that the district just had a security audit two years ago seemed relevant, said Superintendent David Goodin. After all, the district already has two armed security guards based at the high school, but which visit all 11 buildings, he said.

    Ultimately, the board agreed to ask for a cost-analysis of having armed security in each building, as well as a cursory review of the two-year-old audit by the company that did it.

    You can read about that, and more, in the Tweets below: