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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    Submitted Photo
    Volunteers from the Salvation Army and St. Michael's Church bring in food collected by the church for distribution to needy families during the holidays.


     Several needy families in the Pottstown area will eat better during the holidays thanks to St. Michael's Ukranian Catholic Church.

    Volunteer Rose Mary said the church's pastor, The Rev. Ihor Royik, suggested the church do a food drive for the holidays.

    "We're a small church, but we collected food donations for two or three weeks," Mary said of the church on West Walnut Street.

    The food was delivered Wednesday, Dec. 19, to The Salvation Arm in Pottstown for distribution.





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    Submitted Photos
    Members of the Pottsgrove Middle School Art Club with their work on a township snow plow.


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

    Pottsgrove Middle School students in the Art Club recently participated in the "Paint the Plow" program.

    In conjunction with Montgomery County Public Works Department and Lower Pottsgrove Township, the plow will be displayed at the corner of Pleasantview Road and East High Street, across the street from the Sanatoga Fire Company, so residents can see the students work. 

    The concept was submitted by a student, Richard Hedgepeth.  His design was selected by the Art Club students. 

    Art Club Members are:
    Richard Hedgepeth
    Nick Brotschul
    Ayden Alexander
    Samantha Mohollen
    Tatiana McVey
    Mackenzie Gray
    Delaney Rice
    Jade Kazmierczak
    Karar Al-Medhaty
    Casey Kelly
    Angela Perry
    Chris Schon
    Alexis Rodgers
    Kim Kalinoski -- Advisor

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    Submitted Photos
    Pottstown High School's DECA team included many champions at the District 8 Annual Competition Dec. 17.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Pottstown School District.

    Pottstown DECA's medal winners.
    Members of Pottstown High School DECA participated in the 68th Annual District 8 Competition held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in King of Prussia, On Monday, Dec. 17

    Of the 31 who participated, 12 earned a spot to compete at the State competition to be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania in February.

    Pottstown High School teachers Lyndsay Hashem and Kevin Pascal are the DECA team sponsors.

    Destyn Snyder
    Students took a 100 question content-based test and completed a situational role play. 

    The top six contestants in individual categories and the top four teams in team events moved on to the state competition.

    London Aquino
    District 8 is quite competitive, with DECA members from The Hill School, Norristown, North Hampton, Owen J. Roberts, Pottsgrove, Spring-Ford and Pottstown competing.   
    Destyn Snyder, a senior at PHS, not only earned the highest role play score in the Sports and Entertainment category, he earned First place in the category.  

     London Aquino, a senior earned the highest test score in the Human Resource Management category and placed Fourth in her category.

    Pottstown Award Winners


    Name
    Event
    Place
    Nada Elgendy
    Principles of Business Management & Administration
    4th Place
    Brionna Williams
    Principles of Business Management & Administration
    5th Place
    Iyesha Belgrave
    Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
    5th Place
    Mackenzie Moser
    Principles of Marketing
    4th Place
    Kishan Patel
    Accounting Applications Series
    3rd Place
    CyeNyla Hall
    Accounting Applications Series
    4th Place
    Julia Reisner
    Entrepreneurship Individual Series
    6th Place
    Jen Hainsey
    Hotel and Lodging Management Series
    5th Place
    London Aquino
    Human Resource Management
    4th Place
    Mitchell Aquino
    Marketing Communications  Series
    4th Place
    Alix Stewart
    Restaurant & Food Service Management
    5th Place
    Destyn Snyder
    Sports & Entertainment Marketing Series
    1st place

    DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. DECA enhances the preparation for college and careers by providing co-curricular programs that integrate into classroom instruction, apply learning, connect to business and promote competition.

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

    The Royersford Early Education Center, operated by YWCA Tri-County Area, still has openings for infants and toddlers, and in its Pre-K Counts classrooms.

    The Royersford Early Education Center is at the Royersford United Methodist Church, 380 Church St.


    Pre-K Counts is a state-sponsored preschool program for children 3-5 years old. Eligible families earn up to 300% of the federal poverty level. Class hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Students receive lunch daily. 

    Space is limited to 40 children.

    YWCA Tri-County Area operated Pre-K Counts in Pottstown since 2010.

    The Royersford center also has slots open for infants and toddlers. YWCA Tri-County Area accepts ELRC tuition subsidy for qualified families. 

    For information, contact Director Elizabeth Hallman at ehallman@ywcatricountyarea.org​ or 610-948-0200​.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Children's Discovery Museum. 

    The Pottstown Children’s Discovery Center will be hosting a 'Noon Year’s Eve' Party for the whole family on Saturday, Dec. 29th at the Pottstown Carousel, 30 W. King St..

    Festivities kick-off at 10 a.m. with crafts and games for kids. Every half hour a new activity will mark the countdown to Noon Years, culminating with a balloon drop.

    This event is geared toward young children ages 2-10 and will feature piñatas, cookie decorating, and story time.

    The first 25 families to purchase tickets will be entered into a raffle to win an autographed copy of The Snowy Nap by author Jan Brett, which will be the featured story along with hedgehog themed facts and crafts. The price of admission includes water, hotdogs, and one carousel ride.

    For the past year, museum Founders, Beth Desch, Jennifer Brown, and Karen Hudson, have been endeavoring to make a hands-on learning experience a reality here in Pottstown.

    PCDC will partner with local schools to help bring their curriculum to life through exhibits and activities that emphasize learning through play.

    At this time, two potential building sites have been identified and the Co-Founders are fundraising $1.8 million dollars to secure a location with the intent to open in 2021.

    The museum aims to fuel an economic Renaissance by establishing Pottstown as family-friendly tourism destination.

    In the near future, families could make a day-trip to the museum, ride the Carousel, have dinner at a local restaurant, and then finish their evening with a performance at Steel River Playhouse.

    The possibilities are endless with new businesses opening in Pottstown every year and the nearby convenience of Manatawny Green Miniature Golf and Colebrookdale Railroad, and Memorial Park festivals.

    Noon Year’s Eve tickets can be purchased at www.tcnetwork.org/pottstown-discovery-center. Tickets for adults are $10, children $7, and families $25.

    For more information, follow the museum’s Facebook page at www.fb.com/PottstownKids

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

    The students of the non-profit GreenAllies organization will hold the annual Community Christmas Tree Recycling Program on BOTH Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, at the student-run Althouse Arboretum at 1794 Gilbertsville Road in Upper Pottsgrove.

    Drop off trees between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

    The recycling day is open to everyone in the region and is free of charge (donations accepted).

    Members of the public are encouraged to give their trees a second purpose and drive them to the Arboretum where community and student volunteers will assist each vehicle in removing the trees. 

    With assistance from Upper Pottsgrove Township, the trees will be chipped and donated to the Althouse Arboretum, where they will used to cover walking trails.

    This community event is sponsored by GreenAllies with its mission to “Empower students to lead environmental sustainability efforts.”

    If you have any questions, please call 267-371-2288 or email ken@green-allies.org

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    The White Horse Tavern is decorated for the season.


    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County.

    The Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County will present its first annual Twelfth Night Revelries event on Sat., Jan. 6 from 1 to 6 p.m. 

    Celebrate the conclusion of the Yuletide season and begin the New Year at the “Twelfth Night Revelries” featuring food and festivities, and music and dance at The White Horse Tavern in Morlattan Village in Douglassville. 

    The 1762 White Horse Tavern is bedecked in nature’s green finery and holly, the Amity Colonial Dancers are ready to dance, and the sweet strains of live music by Dave Kline will be heard throughout the inn. Mulled cider and various holiday treats are on the menu.

    Thought to originate in early Anglo-Saxon traditions, Twelfth Night evolved to mark the coming of the Epiphany, and the conclusion of the 12 days of Christmas. 

    It is marked as a time of great merrymaking and song. 

    Celebrate as it was done in “the olden times” and still in England, the Alps, Germany, and even the US. 

    The Amity Colonial Dancers will perform at 1:30 and 3:30 pm. 

    Musician Dave Kline will be on hand to sing and play his lute-guitar, recite a Wassail Toast, and add to the general merriment.

    Event admission is $5 per person. 

    The street address is 31 Old Philadelphia Pike, in Douglassville. 

    For event specific information contact Sue Speros at firecracker32@verizon.net or 610-777-7567. 

    Snow date for this event is Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. 

    Check out the website and Facebook page for updates.  All proceeds from this event benefit the Trust’s educational and preservation programs and projects.

    The HPTBC is a non-profit organization that acquires, preserves, and maintains historically and architecturally significant properties in Berks County, Pennsylvania and educates Berks County and its’ visitors about the role these sites played in Pennsylvania and American history. 

    The Trust seeks to foster community involvement and support in promoting awareness and appreciation of historic structures and encouraging their adaptive reuse. 

    The Trust currently owns and maintains eight historically significant buildings in the greater Reading/Berks County area. The office is located in the White Horse Inn on Old Philadelphia Pike in Douglassville. If you are interested in donating to the Trust call 610-385-4762 or visit www.historicpreservationtrust.org.

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    Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Exelon.

    Limerick Generating Station donated $7,000 to the Pottstown Area Meals on Wheels. 

    The donation was presented by Rick Libra, site vice president, during a meeting Dec. 20, bringing the total of Limerick employee and corporate donations this year to more than $300,000.

    “Giving back and helping our community is very important, especially during the holiday season,” said Libra. “We are proud to help Meals on Wheels provide essential nourishment to needy families this time of year

    Each year, Limerick’s charitable donations and community sponsorships support organizations that focus on education, the environment, health and human services, the arts and community development. 

    In addition, Limerick employees typically volunteer more than 1,500 hours of service at local schools and non-profit organizations each year.

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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Some Pottstown Borough Council members started 2019 in Riverfornt Park Tuesday by jumping into the Schuylkill River. From left are Seventh Ward Councilman Joe Kirkland, Council Vice president Carol Kulp, Third Ward Councilman Don Lebedynsky and Mayor Stephanie Henrick. If Kulp looks warm and dry to you, it's because she stayed on the shoreline.


    Pottstown School Board
    member 
    Raymond Rose.
    For the 11th consecutive year, people flush with the holiday spirit plunged into the not-so-chilly waters of the Schuylkill River Tuesday morning to mark the start of another year.

    Fueled by coffee, hot dogs and sauerkraut -- and dressed in everything from matching pajamas, to tutus to full scuba body suits -- they took leave of the shoreline, and some might say their sanity, for a quick dip in the fast-moving current.

    Swimmers waded into a small roped-off area of the river, due to the high water levels and rapid current, under the watchful eye of the dive rescue team there to safeguard the swimmers.

    Among those in full rescue gear was West Pottsgrove Township Manager Craig Lloyd who, it turns out, is a fully certified scuba instructor and has been running with the dive team as a volunteer for a full seven years.

    In fact, he volunteers with two dive teams, Lloyd said.

    So yes, he knows his New Year's Day will be "cold and wet" every year, "so I take it easy on New Year's Eve," he joked.
    West Pottsgrove Township Manager
    Craig Lloyd, right, in full dive regalia.

    Also among those making the plunge more "official," was Pottstown School Board member Raymond Rose; Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick and fellow borough council members Joe Kirkland and Don Lebedynsky.

    Council Vice president Carol Kulp was there too, but stayed dry on the shoreline.

    Rose took the plunge with about as many inches of skin covered as is humanly possible, while his fellow board member, John Armato, again the declined the ritual of an actual dunking.

    No doubt, should Armato ever decide to take the plunge, he would insist on swimming to the North Coventry shore on the other side.

    Pottstown School Board member John Armato, right,
    admires Mayor Stephanie Henrick's swimwear.
    But given how high and swift the Schuylkill was Tuesday morning, he might not have made the opposite shore until he reached Phoenixille, so perhaps its best he remained a landlubber this year.

    In the true appreciation of the absurd nature of Pottstown's river ritual, Henrick and Lebedynsky donned ballet tutus.

    No really.

    Hey I'm not kidding. I'm a professional journalist. I wouldn't just make something up .....

    Look, I've posted pictures OK? Geez.

    Others wore hats, crying baby face masks or even swim trunks that left little to the imagination (yeah, we're talking about you Mosaic Community Garden Manager Dan Price.)


    Hey, if you're going to jump into a river in the middle of winter,
    you might as well do it in style.
    My personal favorite this year was the family who took the latest trend of wearing matching pajamas to a whole new level (shown here at left.)

    For reasons that escape explanation, the Pottstown Parks and Recreation Personnel -- who deserve our thanks for staging and turning out for this event every year without fail -- settled upon an AC/DC sound track through the loudspeakers prior to the 10:30 dunking, giving the lead up to the affair a distinctive feel that I will decline to describe, other than to say it may not have been welcomes by those of us who were a little hungover.

    After a well-delivered rendition of the national anthem, which was accompanied by an unsought partnership with several howling dogs in the crowd, the few, the brave and the unbalanced, left dry land for the Schuylkill's 45-degree embrace.

    Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart estimated about 75 went into the water.

    Far more kept a good grip on their common sense and watched them do it.

    It looked like this:



    Afterward, the moistened revelers scuttled to the other side of the park where a bonfire warmed and dried them much more quickly and thoroughly than one might have thought possible.

    The heat from the fire was intense and, after several people tossed their hopelessly muddied swim shoes into the blaze, the smell was of more than just burning pallets.

    As always, the Phillies Fire Company was on hand, firehoses in hand, to tame the blaze and to ensure it did not get out of hand.

    And so we lumber into another year, the turn of the century fading in the rear-view mirror.

    Let's hope it's a good one for all of us.

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    It's the middle of winter, so obviously, it's time to talk about the township's swimming pool.

    As the township commissioners met for the first time in 2019, Commissioners Chairman Steve Miller announced it's time for some kind of resolution regarding the township's pool.

    It's been three years since the pool was open for a full season. Previous attempts to hire an outside agency or company to run the pool, located on Anthony Wayne Drive, have resulted either in the pool being closed halfway through the season, or the pool not opening at all.

    "We can't have it just sitting there, or we're going to have mechanical problems eventually," Miller said.

    He appointed Commissioners Pete LaRosa and Mark Green to head up a committee to make a final determination on the facility, formerly the private Colonial Pool, which the township purchased in 2010 after the club could not pay its property tax bill.

    "I agree 100 percent," said LaRosa, who has championed the pool's cause since the township bought it and brought in at least one vendor who operated it for half a season.

    "We've got to find someone to open it, or do something else with it," LaRosa said.

    Miller said an invitation for the public to offer suggestions should be posted on the township's website.

    Commissioner Charles Valentine said perhaps the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation should be approached about playing a role as well.

    Operated since 1968 as a private, nonprofit community pool, the Colonial fell behind on its tax payments and finally fell victim to a combination of age, a slow economy and more homes with their own pools in their backyards.

    The township paid $71,000 in back taxes and unpaid bills to take over the pool in 2010.

    The township also put as least $250,000 into refurbishing the pool facility by the time it re-opened in August, 2011.

    New Solicitor, Same Manager


    In other township business, the commissioners made a number of appointments, including Jamie Ottaviano of Yergey,m Daylor, Allebach, Scheffey and Picardi as its new solicitor, replacing Charles Bresnan, who had served in the post since 2016.

    No reason was given for the change.

    One thing that remained the same is the township manager, Craig Lloyd, who was given a new two-year contract by a unanimous vote last night.

    There is no pay increase in the contract's terms. Lloyd, who said he is a township resident and wants to keep costs down, will continue to be paid $97,000 a year.

    And with that, here are the Tweets from last night's 25-minute meeting.


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    Interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent? Orientation for the county'wide program starts Monday at YWCA Tri-County Area in Pottstown.








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

    Older adults seeking volunteer opportunities in their Montgomery County communities can once again join the Foster Grandparents Program, now sponsored by YWCA Tri-County Area.

    Foster Grandparents Program, a program of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, engages adult volunteers age 55 and older to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities. 

    Volunteers are placed in community sites such as schools and child care centers to provide mentoring and other one-on-one support to help children achieve developmental and educational success.

    Current Foster Grandparent sites include elementary and child care centers throughout Montgomery County, including the Pottstown School District, Head Start, Hancock Elementary School, Cole Manor Elementary School, Creative Care Red Hill, and Play & Learn Lansdale. 

    As the Foster Grandparents Program grows in Montgomery County, volunteers will provide one-on-one support to children and youth in child care centers, elementary, middle, and high schools, and residential youth centers.

    Volunteers in the Foster Grandparents Program receive a stipend if income-eligible. Foster grandparents also receive continuous support, training, meals, and transportation if needed.

    YWCA Tri-County Area currently is in the process of placing volunteers throughout Montgomery County. 

    Orientation will take place Monday, Jan. 7, through Friday, Jan. 11, at YWCA Tri-County Area, 300 King St., Pottstown.

    For information about volunteer sites or orientation, contact Ashley Faison at 610-323-1888, ext. 210, or afaison@ywcatricountyarea.org

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

    On Sunday, Jan. 13, the Friends of Hopewell Furnace invite the public to witness “Adventures on the Appalachian Trail” with Thru-Hiker Neil Koch.

    The free program will begin at 2 p.m. in Hopewell Furnace’s conference room, but will depend upon the status of the Federal government shut-down.

    According to the Appalachian Trail Conference, completing the entire 2,190 miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in one trip is considered to be a mammoth undertaking. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four makes it all the way. A typical thru-hiker takes five to seven months to hike the entire A.T.

    Neil Koch serves as the chief of interpretation at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site. Before joining the Hopewell staff in 2018, Koch worked as a Park Guide, Park Ranger, and Supervisory Park Ranger at National Mall and Memorial Parks in the heart of Washington, D.C. 
    Prior to working with the National Park Service, he worked several positions for Appalachian Trail clubs, performed boundary maintenance for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and served as Peace Corps Volunteer in Vanuatu. 

    Shortly before joining the Peace Corps, Neil thru hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. Neil is a Maryland native and holds a bachelor’s degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Maine.

    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 the park, visitors are encouraged to explore the landscape, go into the village, tour the buildings, and learn about iron making and why Hopewell Furnace is important to our nation’s history. 

     Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday thru Sunday, the park is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off Route 345. For more information visit www.friendsofhopewellfurn.org.

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

    Make your cap the star of your period wardrobe while perfecting your hand sewing skills at Pottsgrove Manor’s Women’s Cap Workshop.

    Caps were worn by women of all social classes during the 18th century. 

    However, cap styles varied greatly and often changed to reflect the fashions of the time. Caps with lace, gathers, and lappets were extremely popular and were often accessorized with silk ribbons and bows. 

    Workshop participants will create their own cap by using only hand-sewing skills to construct their new headgear. Historic interpreter Deborah Peterson will lead this workshop where participants will also hear a brief lecture on the fashion of caps. 

    Participants will be able to try on several styles of caps before choosing the style that best suits them. If participants do not finish their cap at the end of the workshop, they will have the instructions, materials, and know-how to complete the final steps at home.

    Space is limited and the materials fee is $45 per person. Ages 10+ and, as caps can be tricky, some sewing experience is recommended but all levels are welcome to register for this workshop. 

    Registration information can be found on Pottsgrove Manor’s website, www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor, and registration forms with payment (cash, check, or money order accepted) must be sent by Jan. 12th. You can print the registration form below.

    Participants are asked to bring a bagged lunch.

    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 Pottstown and Manatawny Green Miniature Golf Course, in Pottstown. 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 ww.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.

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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    NEWEST ADDITION: Michael Tantorno's children hold The Bible as he takes the oath of office Monday night as Lower Pottsgrove's newest police officer as administered by District Judge Edward Kropp while his family, Police Chief Mike Foltz and township commissioners look on. He will fill the vacancy left by  Sgt. Bob Greenwood, who retired last week after 34 years of service.


    Talk about burying the lead.

    It wasn't until the very end of last night's Lower Pottsgrove Commissioners meeting that Township Manager Ed Wagner broke the big news.

    For the past six years, residents and drivers on Route 422 have been dealing with the $307 million project to replace two bridges over the Schuylkill River, at Armand Hammer Boulevard, over the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks, as well as pavement and access ramp re-construction.

    Well, far from being over, another phase is about to begin.

    Wagner said he received notice from PennDOT that the roughly five miles from the Royersford to Sanatoga interchanges is the next area to be under construction.

    The work is slated to begin this spring and will last into 2021, Wagner said.

    Pavement will be repaired and replaced, as will bridge decking along with drainage repairs and the installation of rumble strips.

    "Lane closures will occur on the non-peak hours," said Wagner in what could certainly be called cold comfort to those whose patience has already been frayed daily by six years of delays and construction.

    But that's not all folks.
    The construction of one of two new Route 422 bridges
    over the Schuylkill photographed in 2014.

    According to the web site set up by PennDOT to track Route 422 work, more is coming.

    Design work is currently underway for work on 1.7 miles of expressway from the bridge over the railroad to the bridge over Park Road. 

    A $60 million, four-year project, the site anticipates the project to go out to bid in the summer of 2020, while the work in Limerick is still going on.

    This project includes two bridges carrying Pleasantview Road and Park Road over U.S. 422, and two bridges carrying U.S. 422 over Porter Road, Sanatoga Road and Sanatoga Creek. One culvert at Sprogels Run, located just east of Porter Road, will be removed and a new two-span structure will be built over Porter Road and Sprogels Run. The acceleration lane for the westbound on-ramp from the Sanatoga Interchange will also be improved as part of this phase.

    The $35.6 million project on the section of highway from the Berks County Line, east through the Stowe interchange now underway is expected to be finished by this coming October.

    And next month, final design is set to begin on the section of Route 422 from the Keim Street interchange to the Route 724 interchange.

    This $40 million project will last three years with the earliest bidding date coming in summer of 2021, according to the site, which was last updated in November.

    Parking Changes


    In the headaches-for-drivers department, the township commissioners also authorized the advertisement of a change in parking restrictions on Hause Avenue.

    After police conducted a safety study, the department recommended, and the commissioners agreed, that no parking restrictions should be extended from the intersection with High Street north past the curve in the road that makes it dangerous.

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


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    BALANCING ACT: From left, Pottsgrove School Board members Scott Hutt, Brenna Mayberry, Al Leach and Savannah Lear are coached by 3rd grader Lily Sainger-Hauck ("almost 9") in a cooperative exercise that encouraged cooperation, coordination and collaboration. 

    The task was to build a pyramid of cups using only four strings tied to a rubber band.

    At right, before the school board gave it a shot, West Pottsgrove students demonstrated for the board how it's done.


    With a 7-1 vote Tuesday night, the Pottsgrove School Board approved an early bird contract with the teachers association that will add nearly $2 million to the district's payroll over the next three years.

    Patricia Grimm was absent and board member Bill Parker cast the only vote against the contract.

    Megan DeLena, president of the Pottsgrove Education Association, said her membership approved the pact Monday night by "an overwhelming" majority.

    DeLena said the contract re-structures the salary scale with a goal of raising the salary of starting teachers.

    "That will make our district more competitive in keeping younger teachers here with other, larger school districts paying much higher salaries," said School Board Vice President Al Leach.

    The salary re-structuring means different teachers in different steps in the salary scales will receive different raises, so the most accurate way to describe the financial impact is the additional money is how much it will add to the payroll.

    Although he did not have the exact numbers at hand, Superintendent William Shirk said the higher salaries with add 3.3 percent to the payroll, or "more than $600,000," each year, meaning by 2022, the payroll will have risen by at least $1.8 million.

    JUST ADDING THIS PHOTO: Because of how incredibly cute and 
    charming Lilly is. (She giggled through her whole presentation.)
    However, the district may save some money out of the payroll if at least 12 Pottsgrove teachers take up the retirement incentive offer included in the new contract.

    Teachers who have been in the state retirement system for at least 15 years and at Pottsgrove for at least 10 of those years, concurrently, are eligible to receive a $20,000 pre-tax contribution to a 403B retirement account.

    However, at least 12 teachers have to accept the offer before it's valid, said Assistant Superintendent Robert Harney.

    With 12 teachers taking it, despite the various savings depending on their seniority and resulting salary, the district will "come out ahead" financially, with each additional retiree above 12 adding to that financial benefit for the district, Harney said.

    That retirement incentive expires June 31.

    Another change in the new contract is that after six years of no change, money will be added to the stipend paid to coaches and staff club advisers.

    In the Pottsgrove system, different positions are worth different stipends, calculated using a point system with each point worth $119. A common stipend is worth five points, said DeLena, which adds up to $595.

    What the new contract will do is add $3 to the value of a point each year for the first two years, meaning two years after the contract goes into affect on July 1, that same five-point stipend will be worth $625.

    Before voting against the contract, Parker said while he believes Pottsgrove's teachers are "the best" and that "no amount of money could properly compensate them for what they deserve," that he could nevertheless not support a contract in which some teachers would get raises of "$6,000, $7,000 or $8,000 a year."

    School Board President Robert Lindgren reminded the board that in 2011, teachers accepted a one-year contract that froze salaries and again in 2012, when the economy was teetering, the teachers union "agreed to pay freezes to help out our community, and we have long memories."

    He said early bird contracts such as this occur only if "there is enough trust on one or both sides."

    The board, administration and teachers union representatives "have developed good relationships" making the exploration of an early bird contract possible, Lindgren said.

    Negotiations began in September, DeLena said, adding that the tentative agreement was explained to the teachers at a Thursday meeting in advance of the Monday vote.

    "I think the mood, the character of a school district flows from the top down," DeLena said when asked about the relationship between the two sides at the negotiating table.

    "It was a collaborative effort," said Shirk. "We've laid a really good foundation in the last three years and to have seven years of labor peace means so much."

    "We have some friction points and some disagreements, but we've moving in the right direction and we're trying to build on that," said Lindgren.

    "You never get everything you want, but we've taken care of some inequities in the steps and we do things incrementally," said Lindgren. "I'm very happy to be able to for this."

    Tax Cap Pledge


    In other news of interest to taxpayers, the board unanimously to keep any tax increase in the 2019-2020 budget at the state-imposed cap of 3 percent or less.

    The vote allows the district to avoid the process of putting together and adopting a preliminary budget in February that invariably changes as the figures become clearer closer to the end of the fiscal year.

    Last month, the Pottstown School Board voted to do the same.

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


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    Three redevelopment projects received a favorable reaction from borough council Wednesday night with all three seemingly on track for final approval Monday.

    The first and the one in the biggest rush were the representatives of Catalyst Commercial Development in Conshohocken.

    Dollar General at Former Subway


    They were before council with a plan to re-develop the property at 1432 E. High St., which many may know as the site of the former Subway restaurant.
    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Aaron Repucci, left, of Catalyst Commercial Development,
    shows council a rendering of the upgraded High Street site.

    Catalyst representative Aaron Repucci told council the plan is to demolish the portion of the building that once held the Subway to create more parking and create space for a Dollar General store.

    The re-development will also allow for expansion of both King Pizza and the popular Three Brothers Grill Mexican restaurant there.

    The developers were asking for council to waive the land development process, arguing that they are actually creating more parking and open space, as well as repairing and extending the facade to hide the utilities visible on the roof of the building.

    Also, said Repucci, Dollar General is anxious to move in soon. "they want this lease signed yesterday, and they want to be in by August," he said, adding that any delay may cause them to lose the tenant, whose tenancy makes the project financially feasible.

    Despite the fact that the borough engineer's review letter had only been received that evening, council seemed inclined to try to accommodate the project, particularly given that some of the elements sought by the planning commission, such as some brick and faux iron fencing similar to that along the Wawa and McDonald's, was added to the plan.

    Burger King


    Another re-development project calls for the addition of a play area and better driv-thru circulation at the Burger King at 1515 E. High St., which will result in the loss of 15 parking places.

    Borough Manager Justin Keller told council the restaurant's business is changing and more of its customers want to get their food at the drive-thru so the proposed changes will allow the addition of a second drive-thru kiosk.

    Council raised no objects to this plan and will vote on it at Monday night's meeting.

    Creative Health


    Over on the other side of town, Creative Health returned with its final plans for a "long-term structured residence" at 71 Robinson St.

    Creative Health CEO Andrew Trentacoste, right, outlines
    plans for the new structured residence facility.
    This plan calls for renovating the former Palladino Roofing building into offices and six rooms with two beds each and construct a 1,600-foot cottage with two rooms, each with two beds, for patients of Creative Health.

    The rooms will be used to prepare patients to be transitioned back into the community and is similar to the facility that Creative Health already operates at 11 Robinson Street, said Andrew Trentacoste, Creative Health CEO.

    Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. said although not required to, Creative Health has made a sizable contribution to a fund to pay for a new traffic signal in that part of town when it becomes necessary.

    The planning commission has recommended preliminary/final site plan approval on which council will vote Monday night.

    Expanding Business and More Plans


    Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, better known as PAID, also announced that the Robinson Street/Shoemaker Road area of town is about to become the home of a borough business that is expanding.

    A business called Turn 5 is doubling its work force and, from 3 to 8 p.m. today is accepting applications for new part-time and full-time positions.

    One potential development for the Keystone Boulevard area
    near the intersection with Route 100 in the borough.
    Starting pay is between $14 to $16 per hour, she said.

    Lee-Clark is also shepherding the plan for the re-development of Keystone Boulevard, the strip of land between West High Street and the Schuylkill River, toiward approval by both the borough and West Pottsgrove township

    First outlined in May, the Keystone Employment and Economic Plan for the area is now ready for adoption and calls for industrial, research and development, office and residential elements.

    Monday night, council will vote on the plan which calls for specific pre-approved development.

    The Mayor Looks Back at 2018


    Before we move on to the Tweets of the meeting, take a few minutes to hear and watch Mayor Stephanie Henrick give a retrospective of the past year during her Mayor's Report last night.



    And here are the Tweets:


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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the newly formed Limerick Fire Department.

    Effective Jan. 1, the consolidation of Linfield Fire Company and Limerick Fire Company into the Limerick Fire Department, Montgomery County Station 51 was completed.

    This process has brought together two organizations with over two hundred years of fire and rescue experience into one department.

    The department will operate out of two stations serving the residents of Limerick Township. The Limerick Station at 390 West Ridge Pike in Limerick and the Linfield Station at 1077 Main St in Linfield.

    The new Administrative Officials of the Limerick Fire Department will be: 
    • President, Tom Walters; 
    • 1st Vice President, Rich Flynn; 
    • 2nd Vice President, Scott Miles; 
    • Treasurer, Don Andes;
    • Ass't Treasurer, Billy Rumler; 
    • Financial Secretary, Steph Rumler; 
    • Ass't Financial Secretary, Sandy Fota; 
    • Recording Secretary, Mike Lynch; 
    • Ass't Recording Secretary, Monica Lanigan.

    The new Board of Directors will be: 
    • President, Tom Walters; 
    • 1st Vice President, Rich Flynn;
    • 2nd Vice President, Scott Miles; 
    • Treasurer, Don Andes; 
    • Fire Chief, Ken Shuler; 
    • Member, Denny Rumler; 
    • Member, Joel Saylor; 
    • Member, Ben Andes; 
    • Member, Steve Waldman.

    The Fire Officers of the Limerick Fire Department are: 
    • Fire Chief, Ken Shuler; 
    • Deputy Fire Chief, Glen Russell; 
    • Assistant Fire Chief, Billy Rumler, 
    • Battalion Chief, Chris Miller; 
    • Captain, Mike Latshaw; 
    • Captain, Bob Brock; 
    • Lieutenant, Scott Miles; 
    • Lieutenant, Rich Flynn; 
    • Lieutenant Sean McCarraher; 
    • Lieutenant, Cameron Beebe; 
    • Lieutenant, Rickey Shuler, 
    • Chief Engineer, Steve Waldman; 
    • Fire Police Captain, Mike Machion.

    The fire apparatus designations for response on Montgomery County fire radio and Chester County fire radio will be as 51 units.

    A new website is in the process of being designed along with social media accounts which will be announced in the coming weeks.

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    Two of last year's Tribute to Exceptional Women Winners












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

    Nominations for 2019’s Tribute to Exceptional Women, sponsored by YWCA Tri-County Area, are now open.

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

    Nomination forms may be found online at www.ywcatricountyarea.org

    The 24rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women will be Thursday, March 28, at the RiverCrest 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. YWCA Tri-County Area has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women.

    Tickets for the event will go on sale in February. The evening’s program includes cocktails and a popular silent auction and basket raffle, 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. YWCA Tri-County Area is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, and educates children, youth, families, 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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  • 01/13/19--21:00: Article 0
  • The Jared Box Project results.








    The Toy Drive 
    Blogger's Note:The following was written by West-Mont Senior and Advancement Intern, Rachel Hetrick.

    Students used the holiday season as an outreach opportunity in their community by organizing a food
    drive as well as a toy drive.

    Initiated by one can of corn, the food drive gained momentum over the course of December. The West-Mont family collected five large bags of food along with many boxes of canned goods.

    The contributions were donated to the Boyertown Multi-Services Food Pantry as well as Kingdom Life Church in Pottstown.

    West-Mont Senior, Nic Collins organized the food drive. “We are very thankful for all of the donations,” Collins said. “Let all the glory be to Jesus!”

    West-Mont Christian Academy’s National Honor Society Chapter held a toy drive for the entire school community to take part in. Small toys were collected throughout the month of December.

    The National Honor Society members packed containers with toys as a part of the Jared Box Project.

    The Food Drive
    The Jared Box Project consists of filling shoebox-sized plastic storage bins with small toys, games, and activities for children in hospitals. On Friday, December 21, National Honor Society Members filled 60 Jared Boxes with the many contributions from the West-Mont family. The boxes were delivered to Phoenixville and Grandview hospitals, where they are being distributed to children undergoing various treatments.

    Students at West-Mont Christian Academy are eager to come together in outreach and West-Mont continues to provide opportunities for students to take initiative in service.

    For more information call 610-326-7690 or visit www.west-mont.org.





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    The news not yet reported to come out of last night's council meeting came, as is so often the case, from something not on the night's agenda.

    After unanimously approving three re-developments and one major plan for the development of Keystone Boulevard which I'm quite sure you all read in Sunday's Mercury ..... right? .... the surprise was sprung.

    Borough Manager Justin Keller brought up a new item and said he had just Friday been made aware of a vote by the board of directors of the Carousel at Pottstown.

    They have agreed to the borough's terms for having the carousel take over the operation of the adjacent Manatawny Green Mini Golf.

    Located on the High Street side of the parcel adjacent to the Carousel at Pottstown, Manatawny Green was first opened in 2014 and although it has lost money every year, "we were satisfied with the growth," said Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart.

    Satisfied, that is, until last year.

    With one of the wettest summers on record, Manatawny Green had an operating loss of $26,000 in 2018, said Keller.

    Much of that is due to the $42,000 in seasonal staffing costs. All of those hired for the season are eligible for unemployment benefits when the season ends, "and it can get quite expensive," he said.

    Manatawny Green on it's first day of operation in 2014.
    Lenhart said "when things are really humming," it takes three employees to run the mini-golf facility, one at the concession stand, one at the ticket window and one to police the course, pick-up trash and be available for breaks for the other two.

    In 2018, Manatawny Green brought in $29,878," said Keller, $23,000 from golf and another $7,000 or so from concessions.

    Under the three-year lease agreement council unanimously authorized Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. to draft, the Carousel would pay the borough $3,500 each year to lease the space.

    The borough would still remain responsible for cutting the grass, plowing the snow and paying utilities.

    Board members take the first ride on the Derek Scott Saylor
    Memorial Carousel in 2016.
    Both the Carousel and Manatawny Green are on a set of parcels along Manatawny Creek and between King and High streets once occupied by an industrial use, the former Pottstown Metal Weld, which had closed by the time it was purchased.

    The property was obtained through the support of Montgomery County's Open Space Program, the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, and the PECO Green Region Program.

    Two years after Manatawny Green opened in 2014, it was the Carousel at Pottstown's turn.

    It opened in 2016 just in time for Christmas after 16 years of effort. Since then it has covered its costs and operated in the black.

    The solid wood animals on the carousel were carved by Disney

    carousel carver Ed Roth and painted and finished by volunteers.
    Lenhart said although the carousel group and borough have always cooperated, having one entity oversee the whole site will make coordination easier and let the carousel consolidate ticket operations for both facilities.

    Rides on the carousel are only $2, and it makes most of its money from hosting events.

    The most recent was a "Noon Years Eve" for kids on Dec. 29, which raised money for a planned Pottstown Children's Discovery Center.

    Last year, members of the carousel board told council they hope to add a catering kitchen to the facility in 2019, making it more attractive for events like weddings and parties.

    Control of the concession stand at the mini-golf may eliminate the need to build a separate snack bar at the carousel facility.

    Located across King Street from Memorial Park and just over a block from Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill River Trail, the site is also near to Pottsgrove Manor, the ancestral site of Pottstown
    Concept design for the Pottstown station 

    for the Colebrookdale Railroad in memorial Park.
    founder John Potts, as well the Secret Valley Line, the tourist line of the Colebrookdale Railroad between Memorial Park and Boyertown.

    Plans call for the construction of a Victorian period rail station in Memorial Park.

    Taken together, the carousel, mini-golf, railroad, Pottsgrove Manor, Trilogy Park BMX track, River of Revolutions interpreative center in Riverfront Park and art galleries in the Montgomery County Community College comprise Pottstown's TRec district, which stands for tourism and recreation.

    The concept was created with an aim toward attracting financing by demonstrating the cooperation between the government and non-profit entities and applying jointly.

    Both Manatawny Green and the Schuylkill Greenway sites also provide free bicycles through the Bike Pottstown program. One is also planned for the colebrookdal Railroad station.

    Most of the other matters at last night's meeting were routine.

    Here are the Tweets.


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    Photo from screenshot
    The proposed truck manufacturing and repair facility, shown by the red marker, is opposed by residents of Bella Rosa Court, Parnell Lane, Perry Court and West Cherry Lane


    Two controversial developments that drew a crowd of more than 70 to the Dec. 18 Limerick Supervisors meeting were back on the agenda Tuesday night for crucial votes.

    But while those opposed to the TP Trailers and Truck Equipment plan on  10 acres of land at 181 Limerick Center Road, were out again in force, no one showed up in opposition to the Restaurant Depot proposal at the corner of Buckwalter and Township Line roads.
    The Restaurant Depot plan.

    More than a month ago, about half the crowd of 75 were there in opposition to the plan, saying it would add too much traffic to an already dangerous intersection.

    But last night, no one spoke, no one objected and the board of supervisors quickly and unanimously approved the preliminary site plan for the project.

    And although the end result for the TP Trailers project was the same -- a unanimous vote to approved the preliminary site plan -- the path to that vote was strewn with public objections and some spirited defense of the board by the board members themselves.

    Township solicitor Joseph McGrory Jr. kicked off the deliberations by explaining as per instructions from last month, he had prepared two resolutions.

    One approved the project without conditions, and another imposed the condition that the trailers (or shipping containers) be stacked no higher than two.

    The problem, he said, is that the township has already determined that existing ordinances allow
    The preliminary site plan for the truck facility approved last night.
    structures to be as high as 35 feet tall and three stacked shipping containers are below that height.

    In fact, it's the fact that the plan meets the zoning ordinance in every way -- no waivers, no variances -- that locked the supervisors into approving it.

    McGrory said that despite "trying every trick in the book," he could not convince Tom Perkins, owner of TP Trailers and Truck Equipment, who owns the parcel with his sister, to agree to that condition.

    To approve the plan and place those conditions, however "reasonable" they may seem, would simply result in Perkins lawyer, Mark Kaplin, seeking to overturn them in court, McGrory said.

    Kaplin has said his client would accept those conditions if the township, and the opposing neighbors, were to back his client's intention to seek a zoning variance to allow him to sell vehicles at the Limerick Center Road site, which would allow the trailers to be stored at his other location on Ridge Pike, but the supervisors have not agreed to that.

    As a result, they were left essentially with the option of voting to approve the preliminary plan without imposing any conditions. "If it were in my neighborhood, I would still have to vote for it," said Supervisor Elaine DeWan.

    To vote against approving a plan that meets all the ordinances would not only open up the township to a legal action they would likely lose, it would also likely mean the township's liability insurance carrier would not cover legal costs, said Township Manager Dan Kerr.

    It could even make the supervisors themselves personally liable, the supervisors said.

    But for several of the project's opponents in the audience, that argument did not wash.

    "You can never convince me your personal assets are at stake," said Bernard Enright of Bayberry Lane, who said he has worked in the insurance business for 30 years.

    Preston Lutwiler speaks to the board about options after the vote.
    Kevin Messerle of Hickory Grove Road said while he understood the position the supervisors were in, that voting against approving the plan would have been "the courageous choice."

    "Breaking the law is not courageous," said Supervisor Kara Shuler. "I am not breaking the law for this township."

    When resident Preston Lutwiler said the supervisors had taken the "path of least resistance," Supervisor Thomas Neafcy called the comment "a cheap shot."

    At one point, resident Darren Thompson asked Supervisors Chairman Ken Sperring to recuse himself from voting because he has a business relationship with Perkins.

    Sperring says as a business owner himself, he has purchased parts from Perkins but since, as McGrory confirmed, he has no financial interest in whether Perkins plan is approved or not, there is no conflict of interest requiring he recuse himself.

    He said if the other supervisors want him to recuse himself he would -- they didn't -- and said it would not be fair to them to "escape" from having to take would looked like an unpopular vote.

    ON  A HAPPIER NOTE: Girl Scout Zenia A. Masani was
    recognized 
    by the supervisors for achieving the
    Gold Award, the highest honor 
    available to Girl Scouts.
    She organized a summer soccer camp for girls.
    McGrory said residents have the right to challenge the approval in court, as well as the final site plan
    approval, when and if that makes its way through the process, past the planning commission again and back to the supervisors for a final vote.

    He and DeWan also suggested that residents show the same interest, and participate, in any hearings the zoning hearing board may hold if Perkins applies for the use variance which, McGrory said, "is very hard to get."

    As the meeting wound down, Shuler said she and other supervisors were getting "brutally beat up in emails by people who don't understand our responsibilities. We have to think of everybody, not just the people who live on a particular street or development."

    "Nothing about tonight made any of us happy," Shuler said. "We are the courageous ones sitting up here taking the beating. We get that you were upset about tonight's decision. We get that. Just cut us some slack. We have to take everything you throw at us and still try to protect you." 

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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    The West Pottsgrove Community Pool has not been open for the last three summers.


    The clock is ticking on the fate of West Pottsgrove's beleaguered township pool.

    Two weeks ago, township commissioners said they are looking for a final resolution to the township pool, formerly the Colonial Pool.

    A committee has been formed and input from township residents is being sought. However, Township Manager Craig Lloyd said Wednesday night to date, no public input on the matter has been received from the township.

    In the meantime, Commissioner Charles Valentine said he met with Craig Colistra, program manager for the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation.

    Valentine said he was told that the foundation cannot take over operation of the pool.

    However, the township can apply for a grant for a feasibility study about pool options, or grants to pay for swim lessons, something that might help attract a potential operator.

    Commissioner Mark Green, who sits on the committee with Valentine and Commissioner Pete LaRosa, the pool's most consistent champion, didn't see much benefit to that.

    "We want someone to lease it or get rid of it," said Green. "Three years is long enough."

    Valentine pointed out that a feasibility study might help the township find someone to take over the pool.

    Operated since 1968 as a private, nonprofit community pool, the Colonial fell behind on its tax payments and finally fell victim to a combination of age, a slow economy and more homes with their own pools in their backyards.

    The township paid $71,000 in back taxes and unpaid bills to take over the pool in 2010.

    The township also put as least $250,000 into refurbishing the pool facility by the time it re-opened in August, 2011.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:


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    The former Edgewood Elementary School is now being used by several tenants.



    Dogged by constant complaints about behavior problems at Pottstown Middle School, the school board and administration are moving to a solution that calls for re-opening the former Edgewood Elementary School, last used as a Pottstown School building in 2014.

    During Thursday night's school board meeting, Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said last week the board discussed issues with the administration building on Beech Street, problems at the middle school and moved closer to responding to them with a plan to re-open Edgewood.

    That discussion happened during the board's Jan. 10 workshop meeting.

    Rodriguez said the board concluded there are really only two viable options available and both involve using Edgewood in some way to take students out of middle school.

    Without outlining the other option, Rodriguez said the board and administration have concluded the most economic way to make use of the building to address problems in the middle school is to turn Edgewood into a fifth grade center.

    However, no change would be made before 2020/2021 school year, said board member Thomas Hylton.

    In the meantime, School Board President Amy Francis said, the board should make efforts to involve the public, "and the teachers," added Vice President Katina Bearden

    Board member Bonita Barnhill said efforts should be made to ensure the public meetings are held on weekends and during the day as well as the usual weeknight to ensure that everyone will be able to make time to attend and offer input.

    Rodriguez was charged with setting up dates for public input meetings, and said he believe they should all be held at the Edgewood building.

    The decision to close Edgewood, the district's newest building, and renovate the remaining four elementary schools was made in 2012 after many years of proposals, counter proposals and indecision.

    Currently, the building is rented out to two tenants — Head Start and Cottage 7, a private special education school to which public schools send students in need of emotional support services.

    There has been a growing consensus among the administration and teaching staff that moving the district's entire fifth grade into Pottstown Middle School, where behavior problems continue to frustrate teachers and administrators alike, was a mistake and must be undone.

    In other business, the school board also re-financed an $8.4 million bond, but made no mention of how much taxpayers will save as a result of the vote.

    Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting:


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Pottstown High School Choral Director Ben DiPette, left, directs the high school chorus in two numbers sung for the benefit of the teachers being recognized Thursday night.


    Much emphasis in education is put on test scores.

    "How did you do?" is the watchword, and standardized testing has only increased that emphasis as we struggle to improve public education in America for all students, not just the ones who live in the right zip code.

    But in Pottstown, they are asking a different question: "How much BETTER did you do?"

    As the chorus sang, the Great Growth and True Blue Trojan teacher
    awards awaited presentation to their recipients.
    Although they are certainly related, there is a difference between growth and achievement.

    If you got an A- on the last test and an A on this test, you have certainly achieved a higher mark, but truly, the "growth" in your achievement is minimal.

    If, on the other hand, you received a C on your last test and then earned an A on this one, well then the "growth" in your score has been truly remarkable.

    Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez used a sports analogy, likening growth to a significant improvement in the time it takes a runner to run a mile. The runner may not have the fastest time, but may have shown the most improvement.

    Allow me to use a less diplomatic sports analogy.

    So many of the wealthy school districts in this area have students who start the game with many advantages -- college educated parents with good jobs, a community with plenty of financial resources, well-resourced facilities with lots of well-paid teachers -- the equivalent of starting somewhere between third base and home plate.

    When they do what's necessary to score a run, and are hailed as heroes for doing it, the administrators and school board members pat themselves and their teachers on the back for what a good job they're doing.

    But do those face the same real-life obstacles as the students who may not know if they will have a meal that day or, worse yet, has to work after school to put food on the table?

    Or will come home to an abusive or addicted parent or sibling?

    Or who has moved four times in five years?

    Or has to help raise younger siblings because mom and dad have to work two jobs just to make ends meet?

    Or lives in a neighborhood where gunfire is all-too-common and support for the long-run benefits of a good education are constantly undermined by the short-term benefits of crime?

    No SAT prep tutors for them.

    No swanky computer labs in their schools where MIT-trained instructors give them code-writing lessons twice a week.

    For them, just getting to school on time in the morning can be an ordeal the student who arrives every day in the family's SUV cannot begin to imagine.
    Ten Pottstown teachers received the newly established
    "Great Growth Award" at the Jan. 17 school board meeting.

    Starting at bat with two strikes against you and scoring a run; making your way painstakingly around the bases, that is truly an achievement worth recognizing. And the coach who makes that possible deserves recognition as well.

    Thursday night, Pottstown teachers who have overseen steady "growth" in their students' achievements were recognized.

    Those who fostered an entire year of steady growth in their students' achievements received the newly established "Great Growth Award." They are:
    • Ginger Angelo -- Pottstown Middle School
    • Jason Bergey  -- Pottstown Middle School
    • Helen Bowers -- Pottstown High School
    • Robert Decker -- Pottstown High School
    • Nicholas Fox -- Pottstown High School and Pottstown Middle School
    • Amanda High -- Pottstown Middle School
    • Danielle Lawrence -- Pottstown Middle School
    • Carol Livingston --  Pottstown Middle School
    • Margaret Taraboletti -- Pottstown Middle School
    • Cynthia Ziegler -- Pottstown Middle School
    Nine Pottstown teachers received the newly established
    "True Blue Trojan Teacher Award" at the Jan. 17 meeting.
    Not satisfied with that, Pottstown Schools have also created a second award, the "True Blue Trojan Teacher Award," for teachers who have fostered steady growth in their students' scores for more than one year. They are:
    • Nicola Alutius -- Barth Elementary School
    • Eileen Basham -- Pottstown High School HS
    • Justine Donnelly -- Pottstown High School
    • Mary Ann Hill --Pottstown Middle School 
    • Bradley Mayberry -- Barth Elementary Schools
    • Ann Marie McDonnell -- Barth Elementary School
    • Denise Schleicher -- Lincoln Elementary School
    • Joshua Wagner -- Lincoln Elementary School
    • Mandy Wampole -- Lincoln Elementary School
    Congratulations and thank you to all those Pottstown teachers who are in the trenches every day, working to provide success, self-confidence and hope to students who, in many cases, have a longer way to go to get to home plate.

    It's enough to make one quote John Armato and say "Proud to be from Pottstown."

    Now, just in case you missed it in my last post, here are the Tweets from the Jan. 17 meeting:


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    Photos Courtesy of Hobart's Run
    Hill arts instructor Ellen Nelson, far left, and Hobart’s Run’s Director of Community and Economic Development Twila Fisher, embraced the volunteer efforts of numerous students who pitched in to help paint a house Hobart’s Run is rehabilitating.
















    Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Hobart's Run.

    A group of Hill School students, faculty members, and a Hill parent volunteer picked up paint brushes and rollers on a recent Saturday as part of an ongoing project to rehab a house at 59 Edgewood St. in Pottstown.

    The house – which was facing foreclosure – was purchased by The Hill School for the Hobart’s Run initiative. Hobart’s Run is working to improve the abandoned property, using volunteers as much as possible in order to keep its costs low.
    Hill students Aleksandr Glamazdin, of Moscow, Russia, 
    and Yoseph Kim, of Seoul, South Korea, wanted to give back
    to Pottstown, 
    their home-away-from-home, by helping
    with the  
    Hobart’s Run house rehab project.

    After enhancing this structure, Hobart’s Run will rent the home to someone who wants to live in the neighborhood and, ideally, walk to work.

    Another “win” is that the rental income will be directed back into the Hobart’s Run community in some form, which could range from façade improvements to other programming benefitting families in the neighborhood.

    Another big gain: The taxes on this property had been delinquent, but the house will remain on the Borough and Pottstown School District tax rolls and all taxes will be paid through The Hill School.

    Hobart’s Run also is planning a similar rehab-to-rental project on a home at 702 Walnut St. 

    Here is a video about the project:



    Hobart's Run welcomes contributions to these efforts to improve the neighborhood while generating funds to help Hobart’s Run sustain its operations and give back to the community – and volunteers who can wield a paint brush or a broom or help with other home repairs are greatly appreciated. 

    For more information contact Twila Fisher at tfisher@thehill.org or Cathy Skitko atcskitko@thehill.org.

    The next work day will be from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26 – although the location may change to the Walnut Street home.

    A 501(c)(3) formed in May 2017, Hobart's Run works with its residents and property owners to revitalize the neighborhood through projects that create a clean, safe, and inclusive community; provide incentives for home ownership and home improvements; and generate positive, sustainable commercial and retail development. While initially addressing an area of approximately 600 parcels in Pottstown (Queen Street in the south, North Adams on the west, Beech, Grant, and Jackson on the north, and Keim Street on the east), Hobart’s Run strives to use successes in this focus area to spark and support revitalization throughout the Borough. Please find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @hobartsrun!