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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Volunteers inside The Mercury celebrate the packing of the last box Thursday morning. About 300 boxes of food were distributed to needy families Thursday.



    I have struggled to find the holiday spirit this year.

    What with what my sister calls "the world on fire blues," having to scrap one of my family's two vehicles and an invasion of squirrels who gained entry to my attic by chewing through the wood of my house and making their home in our Christmas decorations, is all making it hard to be merry.

    I tried "How the Grinch Stole Christmas,""Charlie Brown Christmas" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." ( Usually save "It's a Wonderful Life" for Christmas Eve.)

    I was prepared to cue up Dylan Thomas reading "A Child's Christmas in Wales" after listening to some of my Christmas CDs, which my son, the Welsh poet's namesake, insists are too numerous to be normal, failed to snap me out of my funk.

    Since he was small, Dylan and I have always volunteered together for pack-up day at The Mercury's Operation Holiday. It's one of our family traditions.

    But college and a calculus final kept us apart this year, so I was prepared to be moping around yesterday morning.

    But instead, a coffee and doughnut later, I caught myself unconsciously whistling carols as I packed up a stream of about 300 boxes with cans of chicken soup and loaves of bread.

    It is also an annual tradition that I take a photo of
    former Mercury Editor Nancy March with a cup of coffee
    after we have finished box 1 and box is being set up,
    "so you can make it seem like I'm not working,"
    she complains each year.
    I looked up and saw a dozen or so Pottstown High School students who could have been hanging out with friends, or going to class.

    But who instead, they chose to stand in a cold distribution area and pack boxes coming down an assembly line so their neighbors would have a holiday meal on Christmas.

    I guess it's true what they say about traditions of giving.

    It's a tradition that the Pottstown area has sustained for nearly 40 years.

    So far, Mercury readers have donated $18,000 to Operation Holiday, chasing last year's total of about $30,000

    Those boxes we packed yesterday will help ensure 147 households, with 412 children, struggling have something to eat on Christmas.

    And the $100 Boscov's gift cards for each of those children under 17 will ensure there is something under the tree for them on Christmas morning.

    But former editor Nancy March, who was here for the very first Operation Holiday, puts it best in her well-practiced pep talk before the packing starts:




    "There's a lot of need in this community and this program really helps the children in need to have at least a bright moment or two on the holidays," she said.

    How could that not put you in the holiday spirit?

    Here are some Tweets from a fun morning.


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    From left, David Charles, Chris Golden, Codilia Arcay, Joe Rusiewicz, Howard Brown.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    The Pottstown Pride Society, a subcommittee of the Foundation for Pottstown Education held an Alumni Mixer recently. The mixer was held at @107. 

    More than 60 people turned out for this first-ever event and had a great time sharing stories of their school days, hearing about the Foundation for Pottstown Education activities and having fun.

    Thanks to the Advantage Insurance Group for their support of this event and the donation of $1,000 to the Pottstown Pride Society.

    Anyone interested in joining the Pottstown Pride Society or hearing of our upcoming events, please contact the Foundation’s Executive Director, Joe Rusiewicz 610-970-6616. 

    This society is not only for alumni of the Pottstown School District but anyone who has an interest and pride in Pottstown.

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    As I have at times had to remind a few of The Mercury's Facebook commenters when they cite the "First Amendment" as reason to leave an offensive post on our page -- "Freedom of speech belongs to you. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press. Want to say something in a newspaper? Start one yourself."

    There is reason to be worried about both freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression, however, as the headlines stack up with evidence that both are threatened with curtailment.

    The first and most obvious to anyone paying attention is the recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission to remove "net neutrality," the rule that ensures all web sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a zillion other social media accounts be treated equally.

    It seems hard to imagine a more American idea than one that ensures all voices are given equal opportunity to say what's on their minds -- and have an equal opportunity to be heard -- no matter how offensive.

    But that's never been entirely true.

    As noted above, those of us who work in the media have a much better chance of being heard and have since the start of the nation.

    With that advantage, our responsibility in the media, and particularly the press -- upheld better by some than others in an exercise inevitably fraught with bias -- is to try to give a broad variety of views equal opportunity to be aired.

    The counter-balance to this built-in limitation in the press since the nation's founding has been free speech; that anyone can stand in the middle of the town square and state their piece with people given the choice to ignore it or to listen, or even to argue -- which is of course closely related to the right to assemble for this purpose.

    In the last 15 years, that function has been carried forward onto the Internet with spectacular and sometimes incendiary results.

    Want information on Basque separatists? They have a web site.

    Curious about Islam? No shortage there.

    Climate change? Ocean dumping? Hillary's emails?

    Yup, yup and yup.

    At a time when the President takes to Twitter to "get around the filter" of the media and speak directly to the people, his administration will preside over the greatest potential restriction of that opportunity since the Internet was invented.

    While something tells me Donald Trump's Twitter feed is unlikely to be restricted, how long before Twitter decides to create "Twitter Prime," which gives faster speeds and greater visibility to those willing to pay for it?

    Facebook already allows you to "sponsor" posts, to pay to have them put in front of more people, and the absence of net neutrality may make such schemes an everyday occurrence.

    And beyond the operators of the platforms, consider the ISPs, or Internet Service Providers. Once a broad variety of tech start-ups, it has since narrowed down to be essentially the same utilities which built the infrastructure, Comcast, AT & T and the like.

    All promises to the contrary, those providers will now perform the function they are designed to perform -- make money.

    So unlike the gas company, or the water company or PECO, these corporate giants (which are about to get a huge tax cut by the way) will in many communities -- like here in Pottstown -- enjoy a monopoly on a utility that allows those willing to pay more, to get better service.

    Imagine the outcry (if there was anyone left to report it) if the water company provided cleaner water to those who paid higher rates.

    Yes, you pay more to your cable company to get more channels, but is that the model we want for the Internet? Does anyone really like the way cable TV operates?

    "The FCC is doing away with rules barring internet providers from blocking or slowing down access to online content. The FCC would also eliminate a rule barring providers from prioritizing their own content," CNN reported.

    If only those who can pay for a podium and loudspeaker can have access to the town square, the number of views or information the public will be exposed to will be limited to those who can afford the price of presenting it.

    Net neutrality's demise will mean -- as with so many other things in America --
    that those with more money will have an advantage -- to make even more money.

    As Michael Cheah, general counsel at video site Vimeo,  told CNNMoney: the point of the net neutrality rules is "allowing consumers to pick the winners and losers and not [having] the cable companies make those decisions for them."

    There was a time when a quote like that would have been spoken by a Republican, back when the GOP championed the "free market" as a solution to many problems. Their suggestions was usually calling for the removal of government regulations to unleash the power of the market.

    This is one of those rare instances when removing a regulation stands to restrict the market to a few monied players -- something else which Republicans increasingly seem to favor ever since Citizens United unleashed the lobbyists to funnel obscene amounts of money into campaign coffers.

    Which brings us to the second, somewhat less reported threat to the First Amendment -- media consolidation.

    It was rightly seen as big news last week when it was announced that the omnivorous Walt Disney Company is consuming the larger part of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion.

    "Disney has already announced an ambitious plan to introduce two streaming services by 2019. With this deal and the wealth of movies, TV shows and sports programming it provides, the company will now have the muscle to challenge Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the fast-growing realm of online video," the New York Times reported.

    Consider that in addition to its own treacly empire of theme parks, princesses and dancing candlesticks, Disney owns both Marvel and the Star Wars movie empires (pun intended), as well as the ABC network and ESPN. 
    Now it will introduce its own streaming services and everyone who thinks Disney will have enough money to pay to ensure its content gets priority online raise their hand.

    This comes hand-in-hand with last month's decision, again by our freedom-loving friends at the FCC, to remove restrictions on ownership of broadcast television and other media companies, "potentially leading to more newspapers, radio stations and television broadcasters being owned by a handful of companies,"as the Washington Post reported.

    Initiated in the 1970s "to ensure that a diversity of voices and opinions could be heard on the air or in print," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said "small outlets are struggling to survive in a vastly different media world" and the rule is no longer needed, the Post wrote.

    According to Pai, the rise of blogs, websites and podcasts mean "traditional media outlets now face more competition than ever — and rules that once enforced a diversity of viewpoints are no longer needed," wrote the Post which, in case you didn't know, itself now has the same owner as Amazon, Jeff Bezos.

    “As a result of this decision, wherever you live, the FCC is giving the green light for a single company to own the newspaper and multiple television and radio stations in your community. I am hard pressed to see any commitment to diversity, localism, or competition in that result,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who voted against lifting the rule.

    ("A major beneficiary of the deregulatory moves, analysts say, is Sinclair, a conservative broadcasting company that is seeking to buy up Tribune Media for $3.9 billion," according to the Post. I'm sure that is complete coincidence.)

    So, to sum up, blogs, websites and podcasts are competing with traditional media (true), so the FCC is letting single (well-monied) entities buy up all the traditional media in a given market so they survive, but at the cost of limited diversity of views and content.

    And at the same time, it is allowing media consolidation, the FCC is throwing net neutrality out the window so that "competition" against traditional media will now be limited among those with enough money to pay to be in the ring to compete and to get an unfair advantage over the guy blogging from his mother's basement. 

    In other words, big media can now consolidate and prioritize what it wants you to see on the Internet.

    Frankly, let's call it what it is -- it's un-American and it is a direct threat to the First Amendment.

    Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican who recognized the danger of the consolidation
    of economic power and the value of "a square deal," would have railed against this as fervently as he did over the railroad, coal and timber trusts of his era.

    "Yet more and more it is evident that the state, and if necessary the nation, has got to possess the right of supervision and control as regards the great corporations which are its creatures; particularly as regards the great business combinations which derive a portion of their importance from the existence of some monopolistic tendency," Roosevelt wrote and it is as true now as it was then.

    With fewer companies making content, and Internet providers willing to take payments to ensure well-heeled content is seen first, while content from those with shallower pockets remains unseen, it creates yet another uneven field on which smaller competitors are at a disadvantage.

    Consider the change that means.

    How many times has a video shot by someone you've never heard of before gone viral on the Internet? And I don't mean cat videos.

    Consider how that has given birth to everything from the exposure of police violence against African-Americans, to James O'Keefe's "Project Veritas" and the video that took down ACORN. 

    Well, if you can attract investment (maybe even tax-free political donations?) from big money, your content might get seen on the Internet. If not ... well, looks like you're out of the competition. Truthfully, without money, you could never even be in it.

    That is not supposed to be how a democracy works, or how America works.
    None of which even considers the enhanced (and terrifying) opportunities fewer hands with more and more control over content and discourse provides for censorship, an invisible injury to freedom of thought because you don't miss what you never knew existed.

    After all, if a corporate giant can prioritize what you see, what prevents them from ensuring you don't see it at all?

    I mean, consider that I just called for more regulation of Comcast. Under the new system, you might never even have ....... 


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    Photos by Evan Brandt

    A standing-room only crowd applauds the Tuesday night reversal of the Dec. 4 vote to halt the construction of the new Upper Perkiomen Middle School on Montgomery Avenue.



    What's done can always be undone -- at least in the Upper Perkiomen School District.

    In the wake of the startling Dec. 4 decision by the newly elected school board to halt the middle school construction project, which was already underway, one board member changed his mind and brought the project back to life.

    It was new board member James Glackin who provided the key vote. Elected
    School Board member James Glackin, in blue, had 

    at lot of people who wanted to talk to him after his vote.
    with the slate of candidates pledging to stop the middle school project, Glackin reversed his Dec. 4 to kill the project and provided the crucial fifth vote to revive it.

    Prior to his vote, he told the standing-room only crowd that the "we all have a cut-off point about when too much has been spent to stop" and that it is "different for everyone.

    Evidently, the $7.8 million spent through November was past that point.

    He also provided the fifth vote needed to halt the following motion fielded by School Board President Kerry Drake, an opponent of the project, to delay the project for 120 days.

    The crowd was standing room only.
    The votes came toward the end of a marathon meeting lasting more than three hours and called with just a few items on the agenda aimed at following up on the Dec. 4 vote and looking at what comes next.

    But a motion by Vice President Mike Elliott, seconded by Joan Smith, to go ahead with the project put the primary issue in the district back on the table.

    The first attempt to stop the vote was a motion to amend Elliott's motion to have the opposite result -- send termination letters to all the project contractors -- made by board member Raeann Hofkin.

    That failed by a 5-4 vote which brought Elliott's motion back to the table.
    Parent Hope Manion told the board, who announced her

    candidacy for the board last night, warned the board that
    "this is what it will be like from now on" if the middle 
    school project did not move forward.

    Solicitor Kenneth Roos explained that what Elliott's motion really needed to be was to rescind the Dec. 4 vote to terminate the project, a change to which he readily agreed.

    Many of those who spoke against, and for, the Dec. 4 vote were present last night and reiterated their arguments and their positions.

    Those opposed to the project pointed out that the voters had clearly chosen the slate of anti-project candidates -- by a margin of 18 percent.

    Those favoring the project pointed to low voter turn-out and said many eligible voters had not gone to the polls because they believed the matter to be settled.

    Others noted that at the Dec. 4 meeting, many supporting the middle school project had pleaded with the new board to simply suspend the project, not terminate it.

    Now that the vote was reversed, their calls for compromise and reconciliation were suddenly silent.

    And, as always, there was dispute about numbers -- what the real cost of going forward will be, as well as the real cost of halting the project.

    Neither were completely clear last night.

    That said, here are the Tweets from a very long night:


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    Cyclists cross Route 724 at the Schuylkill River Trail intersection in Monocacy during Ride for the River in September.








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Schuylkill River Greenways 

    Schuylkill River Greenways NHA has been awarded a PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources grant totaling $516,501 for the construction of a Schuylkill River Trail pedestrian bridge over Route 724.

    The bridge will be located in Union Township near Monocacy Station. Funding will provide for ADA access, landscaping, project sign and other related site improvements.

    Schuylkill River Greenways (formerly Schuylkill River Heritage Area) hopes to begin construction in 2019. The bridge is expected to take one year to build.

    The total project cost has been estimated at about $1 million. The DCNR grant will pay for construction expenses, according to Schuylkill River Greenways Trail Manager Robert Folwell. 

    An additional $325,636 has been secured from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to cover design, inspection, engineering and administrative costs associated with the project, as well as a portion of construction expenses. Schuylkill River Greenways will be applying to additional private and grant funding sources to make up the approximate $150,000 shortfall.

    Preliminary design work for the project is already underway, and the final design phase will begin early next year, with the hopes of going out to bid in fall 2018 so that construction can begin the following spring, Folwell said.

    A pedestrian bridge is needed at that location in order to ensure a safe crossing for trail users.

    “This is a high traffic area along Route 724 where cars are traveling at a high rate of speed with poor sight distances, and trail users must negotiate a steep hill on either side,” said Folwell. “

    The crossing is located in Monocacy along the Thun Section of the Schuylkill River Trail, and is part of the 20-mile Pottstown to Reading stretch.

    Currently, trail users must descend a steep slope in order to cross Route 724 and ascend another slope on the opposite road bank. The slope was created by a former railroad bridge that was removed before that section of the Schuylkill River Trail was built along an old railroad bed.

    Schuylkill River Greenways installed visible warning signs at the intersection last year. Those signs were paid for through Safe Crossing funds raised through the sale of Sly Fox Brewery’s SRT Ale.

    The Schuylkill River Trail is a multi-use trail that, when complete, will run an estimated 130 miles along the entire length of the river. There are currently more than sixty miles complete, including a section of over 30 miles stretching from Philadelphia to Phoenixville. That section will connect with the Pottstown to Reading section in the next several years.

    The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA manages over 30 miles of the Schuylkill River Trail in Berks and Schuylkill Counties, and works with partners to expand and improve the entire trail. Learn more at www.schuylkillriver.org.

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    From left, Strunk Senior Vice President Tompkins VIST Bank, Foundation of Pottstown Education Executive Director, Joe Rusiewicz and Joe Cavallo, Assistant Vice President Business Development Officer Tompkins VIST Bank.









    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    Tompkins VIST Bank recently supported the work of the Foundation for Pottstown Education through funding in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC). 

    The check for $3,000 will support the STEM Program in the Pottstown School District.

    EITC is a program providing tax credits to eligible businesses contributing to a Scholarship Organization, an Educational Improvement Organization, and/or a Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Organization. Businesses, as well as organizations receiving the EITC funding, must apply and be approved by the Department of Community and Economic Development to participate. The Foundation is an approved Educational Improvement Organization.

    Tompkins VIST President and CEO, Scott Gruber stated that the bank is proud to support organizations in our communities through the EITC Program. He also thanked the Foundation for its partnership and the work that it does to improve our communities.

    This gift was presented to the Foundation’s Executive Director, Joe Rusiewicz by Frank Strunk, Senior Vice President Commercial Banking Relationship Manager and Joe Cavallo Assistant Vice President Business Development Officer. The donation is Tompkins VIST Banks’ gift to the Foundation’s Business Division Annual Support Campaign.

    For further information on the Foundation for Pottstown Education please contact Joe Rusiewicz 610-970-6616 or jrusiewicz@pottstownsd.org.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the American Red Cross

    The American Red Cross is urging eligible donors to give more life to patients now and into the new year by giving blood or platelets.

    Donations decline during the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day when busy holiday schedules cause regular donors to be less available to give and many blood drives may be canceled due to severe winter storms.

    Last year, nearly 64,000 fewer blood and platelet donations were given through the Red Cross during the seven weeks from Thanksgiving through the first week of January than the average during the rest of the year.

    “By taking just about an hour of time today, you can help save someone’s life within a few weeks or even days of your donation,” said Alana Mauger, communications manager of the Red Cross Penn Jersey Blood Services Region. 

    “We’re asking donors to give now to help ensure blood is available when patients need it most.”

    Blood is perishable and can only be replenished by volunteer donors. Red blood cells, the most transfused blood product, must be transfused within 42 days. Platelets, the tiny cells that form clots and help stop bleeding, must be transfused within just five days. More than half of all platelet donations go to cancer patients who may need platelet transfusions to prevent life-threatening bleeding during chemotherapy.
    "The platelets were hung by the chimney with care ..."

    “Platelet donors don’t have to wait a few weeks to make a difference in a patient’s life,” said Mauger. “Someone could donate platelets on Monday, and by Friday, those same platelets can help someone’s fight to kick cancer.”

    Kelly Ellison certainly knows that. 

    Twenty-eight weeks into her third pregnancy, she was raced to the hospital with uncontrollable bleeding and received a doubly devastating diagnosis. Not only did she have aplastic anemia – a rare blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow does not produce enough new blood cells – doctors also detected kidney cancer. Kelly received 43 units of blood and platelets. Five weeks later, she gave birth prematurely to her son, who also needed blood transfusions to survive.

    “Our lives have been forever changed because of lifesaving blood and platelet
    donations,” said Ellison. “Every breath I take is a blessing!”

    All blood types are needed this winter. Platelet donations are especially encouraged the first week of the new year, which is among the most difficult to collect enough platelets to meet patient needs. 

    Donation appointments can be quickly and easily scheduled by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

    As a special thank-you for taking the time to donate, those who come to give Dec. 21 through Jan. 7 will receive a long-sleeved Red Cross T-shirt, while supplies last.

    Upcoming blood donation opportunities in Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties:

    Berks

    Reading: 
    1/3/2018: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Crowne Plaza, 1741 Paper Mill Road


    Chester

    West Chester:
    American Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 523 East Gay St., West Chester
    Monday - Thursday: 11:45 a.m. – 7:45 p.m. (whole blood)
    Friday - Sunday: 7:15 a.m. - 3 p.m. (whole blood & platelet pheresis)

    Downingtown
    • 1/4/2018: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Simpson Meadows, 101 Plaza Drive
    • 1/10/2018: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Chester County Intermediate Unit, 455 Boot Road
    • 1/15/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Hopewell United Methodist Church, Family Life Center, 852 Hopewell Road

    Exton

    • 12/31/2017: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Clarion at Exton, 815 N. Pottstown Pike
    • 1/4/2018: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., AGI, 220 Valley Creek Blvd.

    Phoenixville

    • 12/27/2017: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 865 S. Main St.
    • 1/4/2018: 6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Medical Conference Center, 826 Main St.
    • 1/8/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Technical College High School, 1580 Charlestown Road
    • 1/10/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Hilton Garden Inn, 500 Cresson Blvd.

    Montgomery

    Willow Grove
    American Red Cross Blood Donation Center, 31 Easton Road
    Monday - Wednesday: 11:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (platelet pheresis)
    Thursday - Sunday: 7:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. (platelet pheresis)

    Collegeville
    1/3/2018: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m., Trinity United Church of Christ, 532 E. Main St.

    Eagleville
    12/30/2017: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Lower Providence Fire Company, 3199 W. Ridge Pike

    Gilbertsville
    12/24/2017: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Douglass Township Municipal Building, 1320 E. Philadelphia Ave.

    Harleysville

    • 1/4/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Arbour Square, 695 Main St.
    • 1/12/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Tabor United Methodist Church, 2209 Hendricks Station Road

    King of Prussia

    • 12/29/2017: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Doubletree Hotel, 301 W. Dekalb Pike
    • 1/13/2018: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Creation Kids Worship Room, 150 E. Beidler Road

    Kulpsville
    12/28/2017: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., The Peter Powerhouse Foundation at Towamencin Mennonite Church, 1980 Sumneytown Pike

    Limerick

    • 1/5/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Crossroads Presbyterian Church, 10 W. Cherry Lane
    • 1/6/2018: 8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Spring Valley YMCA, 19 Linfield Trappe Road

    Pottstown

    • 12/26/2017: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Pottstown YMCA, 724 N. Adams St.
    • 1/2/2018: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m., Pottstown Elks Lodge No. 814, 61 E. High St.
    • 1/8/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Comfort Inn, 99 Robinson St.
    • 1/15/2018: 2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Comfort Inn, 99 Robinson St.

    Royersford
    1/8/2018: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Parkhouse Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 1600 Black Rock Road

    Schwenksville
    12/29/2017: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, 40 Spring Mount Road

    How to donate blood or platelets
    Simply download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

    Blood and platelet donors can save time at their next donation by using RapidPass to complete their pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of their donation, from a computer or mobile device. To get started and learn more, visit redcrossblood.org/RapidPass and follow the instructions on the site.

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

    Games, dolls, trucks, stuffed animals, and clothing arrived at YWCA Tri-County Area’s Early Education Center this week – not brought by Santa Claus, but delivered by employees of Exelon’s Limerick Generating Station.

    A team of employees from the Limerick Generating Station arrived with a truckload of gifts -- wrapped and tagged – for the 165 children attending YWCA Tri-County Area’s Early Education Center.

    YWCA Tri-County Area provides names, ages, and clothing sizes, and toy preferences for the children; that information is placed on a gift tag. 

    Employees choose a tag and purchase a gift for the child. Exelon employees then matched the tags to the gifts, wrapped the gifts, and delivered them to the Early Education Center.

    Each child in the YW Early Education Center – children from 6 months to 6 years in preschool programs, and children K-6 in Before/After School Enrichment – received a gift for their parents or caregivers to take home and give during the holidays.

    YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, works to eliminate racism, and empowers women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.

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

    Recently, the Pottstown High School DECA Club, an association of marketing students, elected a new slate of officers and inducted 32 new members at a program held at Pottstown High School cafeteria. 

    The evening’s ceremonies were conducted by DECA Advisors Kevin Pascal and Lyndsay Hashem.

    Jen Hainsey was elected President along with Vice-President Julian Weber,
    DECA's new officers, from left, Emmanuel Toussaint, 
    Julian Weber, Jen Hainsey, Dennis Morales
    Executive Director Dennis Morales, and Management Director Emmanuel Toussaint. Newly elected President Jen Hainsey encouraged the inductees to take full advantage of the opportunities and activities that are a part of the DECA experience. 

    The newly elected officers conducted the induction ceremony where 32 new members joined the ranks of the organization.

    Victoria McShea, a Pottstown High School graduate and former DECA member, made some brief remarks to the students and family members in attendance.

    “Students who participate in DECA learn specific career technical skills, communication skills, human relations, and employability skills that will be valuable for the rest of their lives.”

    Emmanuel Toussaint led the group in the pledging of the DECA Creed and said, “I am proud to have you join DECA and look forward to an exciting year of district, regional, and state competitions.”

    Julian Weber provided a PowerPoint presentation highlighting all of the activities that DECA students participated in during the previous year.

    Pascal and Hashem welcomed the newly inducted students and praised the efforts of the Executive Team in organizing the event. 

     “Induction is one of those events during the DECA year that is stressful but our officers rose to the occasion and have made this a memorable event for both inductees and their family members.”

    At the conclusion of the event, all in attendance enjoyed some delicious desserts provided by Melissa Caballero, owner of Melissa’s Sweet Creations.

    Members inducted included:

    Christian Albert
    Diego Magana
    Sebastian Buchanan
    Donny Marte
    Angelica Calel
    Nathanael Parson
    Jessica Calle-Castillo
    Julian Paskel
    Haile Clayton
    Kishan Patel
    Shelby Clayton
    Thanea Redrovan
    Ciera Cwynar
    Julia Reisner
    Tom Doyle
    Alyssa Rulli
    Julianna Figueroa
    Alix Stewart
    Kentz Gustave
    John Stilwell
    Jaelyn Harsh
    Justine Villamar
    Chloe Hebert
    Abby Welder
    Sybriya Jenkins
    Destiny Williams
    Brianna Lineman
    Hannah Wilson
    Brianna London
    Harmony Wood
    Alondra Magana

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    U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., meets with Limerick firefighters.








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Ryan Costello's office.

    Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist.,  applauded House passage of H.R. 4661, the United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act, which passed recently on a bipartisan, unanimous basis. 

    The legislation reauthorizes grant programs for six years, including the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG). The legislation also provides for better oversight of the grants and training for grant administration.

    These programs provide critical support for firefighter and emergency response companies. Both of these grants are awarded through a competitive process to career and volunteer fire departments, and both grants are intended to help meet equipment, training, and staffing needs.

    In Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District, firefighters and first responders have used these grants for self-loading stretchers for ambulances, coats, portable radios, boots, and gloves, among other resources.

    “Communities in Southeastern Pennsylvania and across the country rely on brave first responders, and firefighters and emergency response officials need the appropriate equipment to safely and effectively do their work,” said Rep. Costello. “I have been proud to support federal grants that help provide vital resources to our local fire departments.”

    Since coming to Congress, Rep. Costello has signed onto funding requests for the AFG program and the SAFER Grant program.

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    Rupert Elementary teacher Jamie Fazekas in front of her new home.








    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    Rupert Elementary Third Grade Teacher, Jamie Fazekas is the third Pottstown School District Employee who has been awarded a $10,000 forgivable loan through the Foundation for Pottstown Education Residency Program. 

    This program provides eligible applicants who work for the Pottstown School District, up to $10,000 in the form of a forgivable loan. The funds can be used for closing costs, down payments, or other expenses directly related to the purchase of property determined to be eligible for the program.

    Fazekas applied for this loan in November and was approved before Thanksgiving. She closed on her new home the first week of December. This is the first home purchase for her and she is extremely happy with her new residence.

    The $10,000 loan will have 20 percent forgiven each year in which the homeowner remains an employee of the Pottstown School District and lives in the residence as their primary home. 

    After five years, the loan is completely forgiven. Should the employee move or leave the Pottstown School District, the remaining balance of the loan is then due to be before paid back to the Foundation.

    Congratulations, Jamie and welcome home.

    Visit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the Foundation for Pottstown Education as well as following FPE on Facebook and Twitter.

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    The pedestrian bridge over Manatawny Creek in Pottstown's Riverfront Park.










    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Delaware River Basin Commission.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission has announced its Winter Photo Contest, highlighting amateur and professional photography that conveys the beauty, diversity, function, and significance of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin, a 13,539 square mile watershed that includes the Schuylkill River watershed.

    “From the headwaters to the ocean and everywhere in between, winter brings a different perspective to the basin’s water resources, and this contest provides an opportunity to capture, share, and showcase winter’s beauty through your photographs,” said DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini.

    Wissahickon Creek near Manayunk.
    The winning image, to be selected by a panel of judges at DRBC, must be taken in the Delaware River Basin. It will be published in the commission’s annual report, on its social media pages, and will also be featured on its website. All entrants will receive a certificate of appreciation from the commission.

    Interested persons can visit http://www.nj.gov/drbc/basin/photo/photo-contest.html for complete contest details, including instructions on how to submit their original, high resolution photographs.

    The deadline for entries is Feb. 1, 2018.

    The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. The five commission members are the governors of the basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division, who represents the federal government.

    To learn more about the commission, please visit www.drbc.net or follow DRBC on Twitter at @DRBC1961.




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

    The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation recently welcomed Ashia Cooper to its staff to serve as the program officer for capacity building and collaborations.

    Cooper has years of experience working with children and families, having held various school counseling positions in both the Pottstown and Owen J. Roberts School Districts. She also served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors, most recently as the chair of its Impact Committee. 

    Cooper will be responsible for managing the grants process for primary/behavioral health and capacity building engagement as well as collaboration with community organizations such as the Tri-County Health Council, TriCounty Community Network and Pottstown Trauma Informed Community Connection in support of regional health and wellness initiatives. 

    She will also manage impact and outcomes measurement development and implementation and sustainability systems of the Foundation.

    “We were fortunate to have Ashia serve on our Board and know she will continue to be an asset to the organization as the newest member of our staff,” Foundation President Dave Kraybill said.

    “We welcome her to the team and are confident she will be a valuable resource for our grantees.”

    Cooper is eager to serve the community in her new role within the Foundation.

    “I’ve been privileged to see the great work of the Foundation over the years through the eyes of a board member, and I am excited to embark on this new path in my career,” Cooper said. “I look forward to getting to know the organizations in my program area and continuing to fulfill our mission as a member of PAHWF’s grants staff.”

    About the Foundation: The Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation’s mission is to enhance the health and wellness of area residents, providing education, funding and programs that motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles. 

    Visit www.pottstownfoundation.org for more information about the Foundation. Discover Pottstown area’s online community, Mission Healthy Living to learn and share great information on how to lead a healthier life. You can also follow the Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.

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    The staff at The Digital Notebook wishes everyone a Happy New Year.




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    From left, Pottstown High School Baseball Assist. Coach Todd Endy and players, Darion Miller, Aidan Leh and Jeremy Adams pack up food for a holiday meal for needy Pottstown family.








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

    It's never too late for holiday news!
    Players Owen Morton and James O'Donnell
    try their hand at gift wrapping.

    It may be cold outside and a long way from Spring Baseball but that did not stop the Pottstown High School Baseball Team and it's coaches Geoffrey Thomas and Todd Endy from hitting a grand slam for a needy family. 

    The PHS team, collected and wrapped gifts and shopped for groceries to share some holiday spirit this season. 

    The gifts were delivered by the team to the home of the recipient family to help them to have a very Merry Christmas. 

    Coach Thomas said the Pottstown Athletic Department stresses community service and learning the value of helping others. 

    "I am very proud of our players for wanting to be hands on in all of the shopping and warping," he said. 

    A grand slam for the team, family and community

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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    Newly elected Third Ward Councilman Donald J. Lebedynsky, left, takes the oath of office Tuesday night, as dictated by newly elected Mayor Stephanie Henrick, while newly installed Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller holds the Bible.


    When council closed out its business for the year last month, it had adopted a budget that hikes taxes 12 percent with a promise.

    Council promised it would revisit the budget in 2018 and try to bring the tax hike down.

    That didn't happen Tuesday night.

    It may happen Monday night when newly appointed Council President Dan Weand is scheduled to appoint an "oversight committee" to do that work on the budget.

    But Councilman Joe Kirkland wasn't happy. He said he had hoped the appointments would be done last night so work could begin right away.

    Council has a legal deadline of Feb. 15 to adjust the budget.

    "Waiting until Monday means we lose a week," said Kirkland. "We don't have much time."

    Kirkland said he had already emailed a number of suggestions and scenarios to Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller, but Councilwoman Rita Paez, who last month argued council needed more time to work on the budget, said she did not think the appointments needed to be made Tuesday night.

    "When Feb. 15 rolls around and time is tight, remember this delay," Kirkland warned.
    District Judge Scott Palladino, center, administers the
    oath of office to Mayor Stephanie Henrick. Justin Keller
    held the Bible.

    "OK," replied Weand.

    Incumbents Kirkland, Weand, and Ryan Procsal were sworn into new terms before the official meeting got started and new members Donald Lebedynsky and Mayor Stephanie Henrick took their first oaths.

    Also on the agenda for Monday's meeting is a vote on a proposal to revamp how and how much Pottstown charges for parking, as well as some new signs.

    Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.


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    Christine Rhoads stopped by to make sure the caps she knit for Kathy Eagle's 1st grade class all fit.



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

    As a winter storm approaches and children and parents alike wonder if there will be school today, if they are in Kathy Eagle's class they know that school or not, at least their heads will be warm.

    That's thanks to Christine Rhoads, a Golden Sage volunteer at Bath Elementary School.

    Students in Eagle's first grade class will be able to stay warm by following the old rule of cover your head in the winter when you go outside. 

    Mrs Rhoads, who is also Eagle's mother, hand knitted 23 winter hats as Christmas gifts for students in her daughter's class. 

    We're betting in all likelihood, Eagle found a cap in her stocking as well. 


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

    The Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation has awarded $1,048,204 in grant requests during the fall grant round of fiscal year 2017-2018 to 30 non-profit organizations, schools and municipalities.



    “These programs play a vital role in championing health and wellness in the community, fulfilling the mission of the Foundation,” Foundation President Dave Kraybill said. 


    Grant requests are submitted based on the following priority areas:

    1A:  Promoting healthy living through nutrition, activities and programs in public and private schools to reduce obesity and encourage healthy living

    1B: Improving parks, programming and the built environment to increase access to physical activity

    1C: Creating and promoting social networks involving healthy living

    2:  PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH

    3:  STRENGTHEN NON-PROFITS

    The following list identifies the 30 organizations receiving funding during the Foundation’s most recent grant round:


    PRIORITY #1A: ($20,000).

    • Pine Forge Academy - Four-H (Health, Hands, Head & Heart) Project


    PRIORITY #1B: ($100,000).

    • Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust- Community Recreation Center in Memorial Park


    PRIORITY #1C:($664,915).

    • Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos Inc- Distress to De-Stress & Beauty
    • Developmental Enterprises Corporation/Pottstown Training Center- Healthy Eating, Healthy Living
    • Family Services of Montgomery County- Building Resilience Among Young Parents
    • Meals On Wheels of Chester County Inc.- Assistance in purchasing meals for needy, homebound individuals in Spring City
    • Pottstown Area Police Athletic League- Pottstown PAL
    • Pottstown Athletic Club- Fitnesstown USA III
    • Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities- Building a Healthy Community
    • Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority- Pottstown FARM
    • Preservation Pottstown Inc- Mosaic Community Garden 2018 Application
    • Rockstar Roller Derby- Venue & Equipment Upgrades
    • Schuylkill River Athletic Club- C.R.E.W. Community Recreational Water athletics program
    • The Pennsylvania State University- Custom Module Development for Trauma Awareness Training
    • TriCounty Active Adult Center- Prime Time Health *
    • Wellness Council of Boyertown- Continuing to Create a Culture of Wellness
    • YWCA Tri-County Area- Strategic Plan Implementation Year 


    PRIORITY #2: ($225,789).

    • Camphill Village Kimberton Hills- Aging in Community Program*
    • Carson Valley Children's Aid- Women's Voices/Healthy Choices
    • Child Advocacy Center of Montgomery County, d/b/a Mission Kids- Fostering Resiliency through Family Advocacy*
    • Garrett The Grand - Batten Fighter- Get out and play, motivating families with disabilities to run and bike.
    • Health Care Access- Health Care Access Programs
    • Maternity Care Coalition- Pottstown Area Early Head Start and Parenting Initiative*
    • Montgomery County Community College Foundation- Dental Sealant Project
    • Spring-Ford Counseling Services- Signs of Suicide*
    • Triskeles- Food For Thought (FFT) & Expansion Planning
    • Visiting Nurse Association Community Services, Inc. (VNA) - Personal Navigator Program with Expanded Legal Support*


    PRIORITY #3:  ($37,500).

    • Royersford Outreach, Inc. - General Operating Funds for Building and Program
    • The Erik Foundation- Marketing and Branding Campaign
    • TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation Inc- Worksite Wellness Initiative


    *Identifies organizations who
    received grant funding from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation East Auxiliary.


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    This large stump in front of 353 King St. will be removed by Hylton's contractor at a cost of $570.
    Borough council will vote Monday whether to allow Thomas Hylton to remove and replace 16 street trees, trim eight more and remove 21 stumps at a cost of more than $20,000.

    The work will be done primarily on Beech, North Charlotte, North Hanover, High and King Streets.

    That cost will be borne by Hylton and his wife Frances at no cost to the borough.
    This large stump in front of 223 N. Charlotte St. will also be removed.

    The street tree work will be undertaken by the Davey Tree Expert Co. under the direction of a certified arborist, according to an e-mail Hylton sent to Interim Borough Manager Justin Keller on Jan. 2.

    Although all the trees and stumps in question are in the public right-of-way, and thus do not require the permission of the property owners, Hylton told council at the Jan. 2 meeting that he will send letters to the property owners ahead of time.

    The letters will outline the work, and include a phone number and email address for anyone with concerns to contact Hylton.

    The proposal mirrors one on which council acted last year, allowing Hylton to remove 32 dead street trees, 36 stumps and plant 48 new trees at a cost of more than $40,000 — money borough taxpayers did not have to spend.

    Hylton, who was voted out of office as a member of the Pottstown School board in November, was for many years the chairman of the former Pottstown Shade Tree Commission until it was disbanded by council in 2010.


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

    Did you know that you may live in a National Heritage Area?

    On Sunday, Jan. 14, Deputy Director of the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area (NHA) Tim Fenchel will present an overview of The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area and will be able to answer that question. 

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

    Part of the National Park System and designated by federal law, National Heritage Areas are large lived in landscapes that reflect extraordinary aspects of American Heritage. 

    The Schuylkill River Greenways NHA celebrates the Schuylkill River watershed as one of America's most significant cultural, historical and industrial regions. The boundaries of the Heritage Area cover the Schuylkill River watershed in Schuylkill, Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties and include five individual units of the National Park System and the Schuylkill River Trail.

    This whole region is nationally significant for the role that its people, places, and events played in the American, Industrial, and Environmental Revolutions. 

    The Heritage Area is home to over 3.2 million people across five counties. Approximately 1.5 million people draw their drinking water directly from the river.

    Tim Fenchel has been with the Heritage Area since 2006 and is known for his great skill in securing the state, local and private funding that allows for the stewardship of the Heritage Area. 

    His pride and joy is the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund, a grant program funded by both public and private business that supports water quality projects throughout the Schuylkill River watershed. 

    A young visitor at the River of Revolutions Interpretive Center

    at the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area HQ in Pottstown.
    Tim also serves as project manager for many local and regional community projects which have included the Schuylkill River Academic and Heritage Center, the Pottstown RiverWalk, and the River of Revolutions Interpretive Center. He is currently working on a project to develop a series of recreational hubs throughout river town communities along the Schuylkill.

    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 www.friendsofhopewellfurn.org.

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    Attempts to cut spending and/or boost revenue to try and lower the 12 percent tax hike embedded in the $54.4 million budget adopted in December will be aided by two "outsiders."

    While Borough Council President Dan Weand evidently did not agree with all of the personnel suggested by Councilman Joe Kirkland to the Ad Hoc Cost Reduction Task Committee, he did agree to put Kirkland in charge.

    "You mean I'm going to be the head of the committee but I have no say in who is on it," Kirkland asked.

    Weand, who has been on the finance committee that looked at the budget for months, indicated that Kirkland's assessment was correct, and said he wanted some "outside" people, those "not on council or staff" to also have a crack at the budget puzzle.

    So in addition to himself, Kirkland and Councilman Dennis Arms, Weand appointed Finance Director Janice Lee and Utilities Director Brent Wagner, Weand also appointed Borough Authority Vice Chairman David Renn, who is not exactly and outsider, and James Smock, the head of the West-Mont Christian School in North Coventry and a former member of the Pottstown School Board.

    Weand said Smock has experience dealing with "extremely tight budgets."

    Councilwoman Rita Paez said she thought the ad hoc committee should have some minority representation, to which Weand responded he might be able to add some later.

    This ad hoc committee has until next month to provide suggestions for borough council to act upon by Feb. 15 to reduce the tax burden.

    Best of luck all.


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    This is going to be a hard blog to write.

    I covered the Pottsgrove School Board meeting last night.

    It lasted for 2.5 hours and guess what?

    Nothing happened.

    OK, that's not entirely true. Stuff happened, but it wasn't exactly news.

    The high point was second graders from West Pottsgrove Elementary School, where the meeting was held, who made a presentation about a STEM activity they had undertaken.

    And, with a little help from their teachers, they had the board members undertake it as well.

    It was quite charming, but not exactly headline news.

    Board President Matt Alexander made some appointments, they paid the bills, but really; it was pretty routine.

    If I haven't made you stop reading yet, you can always read the Tweets from the meeting here below:


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    The Phoenixville Area School Board agreed informally Thursday night to begin exploring in earnest the idea of start middle and high school classes later in the day to accommodate teen sleep patterns.


    Astute Phoenixville area readers of The Mercury, The Phoenix and other Digital First Media products may have noticed a distinct paucity of news of their community in recent months.

    That's because the company did not replace Phoenixville beat reporter Eric Devlin when he left for greener pastures and have shown no inclination to do so any time soon.

    So I am trying to pick up some of that slack and as a result, attended a Phoenixville Area School Board meeting last night.

    Before we get into the particulars, newly elected Upper Pottsgrove Commissioners President Trace
    Slinkerd and I have had a few discussions about the way different boards operate. And although I have covered the Phoenixville school board once or twice before, it was always as a fill in.

    So given the likelihood that I will attend many of their meetings in the future, let me just observe that one of the things I find interesting about how they run things is that they talk a lot about how they are going to talk about issues.

    And while that sounds a little silly on the face of it, I actually think its quite smart; this given that I have seen more than one public discussion in any number of places wander off into the weeds because no one set the parameters of the discussion ahead of time.

    Also, the board allows for public comment throughout the meeting, or at least the work session I attended last night, which is always helpful for fully exploring topics.

    So good-on-ya Phoenixville. As Doonesbury once said, "you give good meeting."

    As for the content of the meeting, there was some interesting stuff.

    Despite having just built a large new school building, Phoenixville Schools will run at or near, or even slightly over capacity, for the next 10 years or so according to the latest demographic figures.

    The student population is being driven almost entirely by growth in Schuylkill and East Pikeland Townships, as well as Phoenixville Borough itself.

    Also of interest was a discussion about the amount of homework Phoenixville students, particularly in the upper grades, have to complete. A parent complained about it earlier to the curriculum committee and Committee Chairman Kevin Pattinson brought it to the full board.

    So too did parents Mark Gerner and David Goldberg, who told the board that within 24 hours of starting a Facebook group called Phoenixville Homework Reform, he had 14 members and as many emails wanting to know more.

    To their credit, both the board and the administration welcomed the discussion and pledged to undertake a study of the issue to try to find the right balance.

    And, now, if you will permit me the pun, we come to the "sleeper issue" of the night -- teen sleep.

    Superintendent Alan Fegley has been tasked with setting up a time frame and an orderly way to look at the issue of teen sleep patterns, and how that relates to school hours -- an increasingly popular subject in schools throughout the country.

    Both Fegley and Policy Committee Chairman Eric Daughtery have attended seminars on the issue and said they are behind on the timeline Fegley created to move the issue closer to a decision.

    With the assent of the other board members, Fegley will now -- while also working to educate the board, the staff and the public about the matter -- begin to put together the particulars of what an 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. start for the middle and high school would look like.

    No decision has yet been made, but he warned the board that changing the times will have ripple effects throughout the district, particularly if, in the interest of sleep, school activities are also curtailed on the evening side of the equation as well.

    Consider double bus runs, earlier starts and finishes for school plays, athletics, how those things will affect the schedule in the lower grades and the conflicts that it will inevitably create with parent schedules and preferences, he said.

    No matter what change, if any, comes about, it would not be for the current or the coming school year, but the 2019-2020 school year at the earliest.

    And now, here are the Tweets from last night's meeting in case you weren't following along.



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    Blogger's Note:Today is the last day to register for this workshop.

    Ever wondered how colonial women carried around the items they might need throughout their day? 

    They used their pockets! However, these pockets look a lot different from modern ones. They were worn around the waist and were not attached to any gowns or petticoats.

    Find out more about the history and use of pockets while constructing your own hand-sewn pocket with Pottsgrove Manor on Saturday, Jan. 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

    This workshop is perfect for beginners learning about historic clothing and those interested in women’s history. Master your basic sewing skills and understand how useful pockets can be.

    Class size is limited, so register by today, Jan.13, to secure your spot. 

    Registration information can be found on the website, www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor and by calling or visiting the site during normal museum hours. 

    Ages 10 and up; workshop cost $20 per person, which covers the cost of all materials. In case of winter weather, staff will cancel 24 hours ahead of program and alert participants by phone. If canceled, participants will receive a full refund.

    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. Pottsgrove Manor is operated by the Montgomery County Division of Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites.

    For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at www.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor. Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pottsgrovemanor.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

    The Foundation for Pottstown Education in conjunction with the Pottstown School District Musical announces the 2018 Gala to be held on Saturday March 3, 2018.

    This is the third annual event which raises financial support benefiting the students of the Pottstown School District.

    The highlight of the event is this year’s District Wide Musical, The Little Mermaid. Beside the musical, there will be a dinner catered by Booster’s BBQ, a silent auction and pre-dinner social time with “mocktails”. Visits from the cast also highlight the dinner along with socializing and networking throughout the evening.

    A silent auction will be held during the social hour and dinner. Various local businesses and community members have donated special items for this auction. All proceeds raised from the gala and auction benefit the Foundation’s grant programs which help it promote opportunities for the children of the Pottstown School District. 

    A portion of the gala ticket price also benefits the District wide Musical.

    Tickets for the Gala are $60 per person and include the dinner and tickets for the musical. 

    To purchase tickets, please contact the Foundation Office at 610-970- 6616 or email to jrusiewicz@pottstownk12.org.

    Event sponsorships are also still available.

    About FPE: The Foundation for Pottstown Education’s (FPE) mission is to support, promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the Pottstown School District. Visit www.foundationpottstowned.org for more information about the Foundation for Pottstown Education. You can also follow FPE on Facebook and Twitter.