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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    On this tour, you can learn more about historic Pottstown buildings that are still standing ...

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Historical Society

    The next tour in the ongoing series of the Pottstown Historical Society Walking Tours will be Thursday, June 22, 2017, from 6 p.m to 8 p.m. The free tour will cover a portion of the 200-block of High Street, between Hanover and Penn Streets which, although a short block, encompasses more than twenty historic addresses.

    All history buffs are invited to learn about two major fires on High Street, one of which destroyed five buildings. 

    Try to guess the oldest building on the block, look for the building with its owner’s initials on the edifice, find Pottstown’s first Sears & Roebuck, and learn about the contributions to Pottstown by local notables Bunting, Beecher, and Drinkhouse.

    Those interested should meet in the lot at 220-222 High Street. Groups will depart approximately every 15 minutes, depending upon attendance. 

    Arrangements have been made for parking to be available in the parking lot, accessible on Queen Street along the railroad tracks, via North Penn Street or North Charlotte Street.

    The tour is being held again this year in conjunction with the downtown Pottstown FARM program. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase fresh produce and locally made products directly from the producers, like townspeople in the 1800s.

    The Pottstown Historical Society was founded in 1936 under the direction of Mrs. Marjorie Wendall Potts to restore the Pottsgrove Manor. Since 1999, the Society has been headquartered at 568 High Street after purchasing the old Oliver Christman Gift and Flower Shop building. 

    The Society’s mission is to collect and preserve archives pertaining to Pottstown’s past. The Society houses hundreds of old photographs, along with records on churches, early families, newspapers, local forges and other businesses. The headquarters building is open on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm, and other times by appointment. It remains an all-volunteer organization, welcoming everyone to participate, visit, support, and learn.

    ... as well as buildings which are no longer standing.

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    Issues at Pottstown Middle School were front and center again at Monday night's school board meeting.

    At this point, it hardly bears mentioning that the Pottstown School Board adopted its third consecutive final budget without a tax hike Monday night. It hasn't changed much since it was first presented more than a month ago

    Monday night there were no questions or comments from the public, or the school board for that matter -- at least the school board that was there.

    One might suppose that adopting a $62 million budget -- the single most important act a school board undertakes -- might at least attract interest from the board members themselves.

    But only five of the nine members showed up Monday -- the absolute bare legal minimum for passing a budget.

    It is surely a coincidence that none of the four who were absent -- Kim Stilwell, Polly Weand, Emanuel Wilkerson or Ron Williams -- are up for reelection this fall.

    But on to more important things.

    Michael DiDonato, middle school teacher and vice president of the Federation of Pottstown Teachers, triggered an overdue public conversation when he said the union is concerned about behavior problems at Pottstown Middle School.

    Matthew Boyer, the principal of the fifth and sixth grades has left for greener pastures as principal of Pottsgrove Middle School and Thursday's agenda revealed that David Todd, the principal for the seventh and eighth grades has also tendered his resignation.

    No word on where he is headed.

    DiDonato pointed to a 50 percent staff turn-over in recent years; sky-high referrals to the guidance office and nurse; a record number of staff injuries "in the line of duty" and rampant disrespect and violence among the student body.

    Board member Kurt Heidel even said his daughter's pending entry to the middle school "is a fear for my entire family."

    DiDonato said the teachers appreciated the appointment of Beth Berkhimer as "dean of students in the middle of the year," which helped, and said the staff remains pledged to helping improve conditions any way they can.

    I guess we'll see where it all goes from here.

    That said, here are the Tweets:

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    Peggy Lee Clark was in an unusual spot Tuesday night.

    As the new executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Pottstown's economic development arm, she was obligated to give a report on the activities of her predecessor, Steve Bamford.

    The occasion was the quarterly joint meeting of Pottstown Borough Council and the Pottstown School Board, a meeting of such import only three members of the school board bothered to show up.

    Nevertheless, there was some news to be found amid the reports.

    Clark reported that for the second time, a grant application to the state for the refurbishment of the former Ellis Mills building on High Street was turned down. Now the owner, Scott Bentley, who spend a fair bit of change trying to clear the interior, is now interested in selling.

    On a brighter note, she said a deal for the purchase of the former Prince's Bakery on South Washington Street is close to closing and the new owners aim to transform the space into a restaurant.

    But perhaps the best news of all is that Cedarville Engineering LLC, has not only moved from Chester County to Pottstown, but brought 35 jobs along the way, projected to expand to 50 by next year.

    The will move into what is now the BB & T Bank building at the corner of High and North Hanover streets. The top three floors of that building have been vacant for 20 years, but Cedarvill will occupy the top floor and has right of first refusal for the two floors beneath it, Clark said.

    "We want development that provides living wage jobs," Clark said.

    Both boards also talked about the need to prepare for the pending sale of Pottstown Memorial Medical Center to Reading Health Systems and the loss of nearly $900,000 in tax revenue for the school district and less for the borough should the property come off the tax rolls because the new owner is non-profit.

    Here are the Tweets from the rest of the meeting:

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    The Pottsgrove High School winners of the Sanatoga American Legion Post 244 "Americanism" awards were Ryan Finn and Anthony Catanzaro

    Sanatoga American Legion Post 244 recently presented its "Americanism" School Awards to four Pottsgrove students.

    They were asked to define "Americanism" in their own words.

    The American Legion defines Americanism as: "the love of America; loyalty to her institutions as the best yet devised by man to secure life, liberty, individual dignity, and happiness; and the willingness to defend our country and flag against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

    The Pottsgrove Middle School winners of the Sanatoga American Legion Post 244's Americanism contest were Riley Simon and Rocco Achuff

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    YWCA Tri-County Area is offering two day camps this summer at Fellowship Farm outside of Pottstown.

    YWCamp Adventures, for boys and girls ages 4 through 12, begins July 5 and runs through Aug. 18. Campers can attend one or more weeks, Mondays through Fridays. 

    Campers will explore the outdoors on the farm’s 126 acres of woods, fields, and pond, will take part in games, crafts, and sports, and will have swim instruction and free time in the pool.

    Camp tuition is $200/week; CCIS child care subsidy is accepted.

    For information about YWCampAdventures, call Sheri McDonald at 610-323-1888, ext. 203.

    Girls entering grades 4 through 7 can “Nuture Your Nature” at You Grow Girl! camp, focusing on health and well-being, including yoga, healthy meal preparation, hiking, swimming, STEM projects, team-building projects, and special outings.

    You Grow Girl! camp runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 26-30, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 17-21. Girls may attend one or both weeks. Camp tuition is $50 for one week, or $90 for both weeks.

    For information about You Grow Girl!, contact Kelly Grosser at, or call 610-323-1888.

    Pick-up and drop-off for both camps will be at YWCA Tri-County Area, 315 King St.t, Pottstown.

    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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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Pottstown Middle School's MoniYah Henderson, a rising seventh grader, stopped by The Mercury to deliver her letter in person.

    Blogger's Note:Last week, The Mercury published an article about both Pottstown Middle School principals -- David Todd and Matthew Boyer -- resigning and complaints from Federation of Pottstown Teachers Vice President Michael DiDonato about behavior problems at the school.

    Student MoniYah Person Henderson decided to stand up for her school and submitted the following defense, which we have published here in full. A shorter version will be published in The Mercury. 

    Please be reminded that The Digital Notebook welcomes responses to its posts. They may be posted as comments below the posts or emailed to
    Dear Pottstown Mercury,

    Hello I am MoniYah, I'm 12 years old and I reside in Pottstown on Walnut Street! I'm going into seventh grade this coming fall. I have been going to Pottstown Kindergarten through 6th grade soon 7th. I get very great grades in school and I love school, so it didn't make me very happy when I saw some disappointing and upsetting things about my school online and I knew I had to do something.

    Pottstown is suppose to show "Pottstown Pride" right? Why are you guys showcasing bad. People are saying and I have heard them "Pottstown has to much trouble" or "that school district isn't good" One thing to know is that there is good and bad anywhere you can't just judge one place. I could go down south to a nice quaint town and it could be very nice but that doesn't mean that there aren't going to be fights there at that school it's very possible and I could go to a school here and that doesn't mean that there can't be good here. 

    I don't like showcasing the bad I like showcasing the good. Some parents are looking for their children to go to our school and if you post things like that on the Mercury parents are going to be turned away that's not good. I actually put a review up about the Pottstown Middle School and how much I love it. My mom also posted a very good comment about Rupert Elementary school, another great school in the district that I went to and currently my sister goes to, it was a very nice comment and a few days later a lady messaged her on Facebook saying that her review actually helped her choose where her daughter should go. She said that she heard bad things about Pottstown so what you're putting on the Mercury people actually see that and that's not good for them to see those bad things. 

    Now I do understand about the children walking home on Franklin Street what they did was very wrong and disrespecting authority it isn't good. Thing is though if we keep showcasing these kids doing the wrong thing they're going to keep doing the wrong thing because they're getting showcased for doing bad. They want the attention and if you keep giving it to them they're going to keep doing what they're doing. You can tell them not to throw snowballs or not to curse and yell at teachers or mailmen, but they are children and not every child listens. 

    In one article in the Mercury it states and I quote "The mercury found zero teachers and students at the middle school have a high respect for teachers there but 97% categorized students respect is low or very low" I disagree with this statement 100%! My teachers has told my class were very respectful and nice! Also wasn't just my class it with others to I don't believe that one teacher said students DO respect a student and I can say because I go there so I'd know.

    To be honest I really don't see a lot of disrespect going around in classrooms so I find that very hard to believe that the teachers actually said that. They're very respectful to us and we're very respectful to them. I have walked inside a fifth grade classroom to help one of my old teachers and it was very nice and the teachers are respectful and the students were respectful because respect has to go both ways of course, and I have walked there numerous times and they were so nice. I have been in the six grade classroom because I was in six grade in my class was very respectful, and not just my class and other classes as well. Our teachers tell us that we make them proud to be from Pottstown. Why can't you guys put that in your newspaper? You should be putting that Pottstown has a very respectful class and not just class but school.

    Another thing which makes me extremely upset is on the Mercury post about discipline problems, what I don't get is that you have a picture of random children that you don't know in the paper about discipline problems. That picture has two of my best friends and some of my other peers. My friends aren't the ones doing wrong why would you put them on their. They were simply walking the halls going into the next class. That makes them look like the bad people when they did nothing wrong at all they were just going to class they didn't even know that picture was taken because I've even ask them myself they didn't realize that picture was being taken. They weren't very happy to see that picture at all either, especially with that title. 

    If we want to stop bullying then we should not be helping it, kids can get bullied because other kids are saying that they're bad because of that post. Kids can get picked on because some random newspaper came up and took a picture of them saying that Pottstown is having bad discipline problems. That doesn't make sense at all to have children that didn't do anything wrong at all, on the cover walking in the hall. Why couldn't you make it positive or not speak about those fights at all? 

    I am very upset and I would like to have a meeting with the Mercury about this problem. I love Pottstown a lot, it's an amazing school district so we don't need this bringing us down and this issue really needs to be resolved and I will do a lot for this to be resolved. I am going to the next school board meeting to talk to them about this too. It's not good to write bad about your own town. Pottstown is amazing and many need to realize this. Pottstown isn't very city but is it to country either it's right in the middle and it's very comfortable, and it's awesome because they really try their hardest to do a lot for children to seniors. I love my little town Pottstown. Pottstown is phenomenal and we shouldn't and bring things down.

    Thank you for reading this letter and I really hope that this can be resolved because this is very very serious and important to me. 


    MoniYah Person Henderson

    Thank you MoniYah for sharing your opinion with us and our readers.

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    Pottsgrove High School Principal Bill Ziegler speaks in the Capitol rotunda about the need for fair school funding.

    Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Pottsgrove High School Principal Williamk Ziegler.

    Bill Ziegler, Principal at Pottsgrove High School, joined with other principals from across Pennsylvania to advocate for increased funding for public schools at the state capitol in Harrisburg recently.

    PA Principals Association hosted the Principal Advocacy Day to give an opportunity for school leaders to speak with their area legislators and to advocate for increased funding for schools. 

    Principals Jessica Quinter of Juniata Elementary School, Christopher Gregaris of Crestwood High School, Melissa Patschke from the Spring-Ford School Area District, and Ziegler all spoke in the state’s Capitol rotunda on the need to increase funding for our public schools. 

    Paul Healey, Executive Director of the PA Principals Association, closed out the time by emphasizing the important role of school leaders and how they need to be supported through increased funding, funding for professional development, and a fair evaluation system. 

    In addition, Ziegler and the other principals spoke out encouraging legislators to fully fund the Fair Funding Formula for public schools.
    Ziegler said, “Students in our public schools need the help of legislators in Pennsylvania as there is a funding crisis in our public schools. PA Principals has joined the Fair Funding Campaign and we thank our legislators and the Governor for signing this into law. However, we still need to significantly increase school funding." 

    "Statewide survey data shows that 85 percent of school districts plan to raise taxes, 50 percent plan to reduce academic or extracurricular activities, and 48 percent plan to reduce staff resulting in larger class sizes,” Ziegler said.

    Furthermore, Ziegler asked state legislators to oppose House Bill 1213 which enables significant property tax reductions for commercial properties. 

    “If this bill passes, the Pottsgrove School District could potentially lose more than $1.7 million in tax revenue from commercial properties next year alone,” he said.
    Ziegler shared how Keystone Testing disrupts learning for two straight weeks and he challenged state legislators to reexamine Keystone Testing at the high school level. Ziegler also asked legislators to revise Act 82, The Educator Effectiveness Law.

    In closing, Ziegler reminded legislators how the principalship is one of the most rewarding positions in our commonwealth and a position that needs the unending support and encouragement from its legislators. 

    Ziegler asked legislators to contact their local school principal to see how they can support them in their most important responsibility of leading the education of our state’s children.

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    From left, Ja'Mya Greer, Hannah Palmer, 

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

    After a year of planning and collaborating with the Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, the level three Healthcare Technology students completed a clinical rotation at the hospital at the end of May. 

    Ja'Mya Greer, Hannah Palmer, and Karrisa White had the opportunity to shadow healthcare workers and observe what goes on behind the scenes in a hospital.

    The three students spent their first day in a continuing education session for hospital employees to keep them up to date on the latest policies, procedures, and technology. 

    The students had the opportunity to see trifold displays created by the nurses in the hospital as a resource for other nurses and healthcare professionals in the building to stay current. Students sat through a session on the latest protocol for patients presenting with chest pain called the STEMI Pathway and even took the quiz given by the presenter. 

     After hearing from the cardiologist, students learned about new technology just purchased by the hospital to assist patients' whose primary language is not English. Then they observed a presentation on the Gift of Life organ donor program.

    On their second round, students were given a tour of the facility and met with the respiratory department. Students were given a demonstration of the equipment that respiratory therapists use to treat respiratory disorders. 

    Afterward they were paired with a member of the Physical and Occupational Therapy teams and completed rounds with a physical or occupational therapist. The highlight of the day was a tour through the intensive care unit.

    On their final rotation, students met with the director of the laboratory. Students took a tour of the lab area and were able to see diagnostic laboratory tests in process and gain real world experience in what a laboratory technician does. 

    After the lab tour, the three students were able to tour the radiology department and then each one went with a different radiology technician. 

     Ja'Mya Greer decided to go to radiology and observe the radiology technicians complete mammograms. "It was cool how they performed the tests, and interesting since I want to become an OB\GYN," she daid. 

    Karrisa White was also in the radiology department. Karrisa was able to sit in on an ultrasound of the kidneys. She said "It went smoothly. The pictures came out clear and afterwards she did the paperwork and put it away for the doctor. I would like to be a Sonographer or a Radiology Technician at the hospital."

    Hannah Palmer was able to observe a back x-ray and a chest x-ray. Hannah said "I learned a lot and I got to see how different departments worked and was able to ask them questions, like if they liked their job and what school they went to. I also liked that I was able to be face to face with patients. I just wish we could have done it for a longer time."

    The students were able to relate what we discuss in class to what it looks like in the real world. 

    The Pottstown High School’s Career and Technical Education program is thankful to Pottstown Memorial Medical Center for providing us with this opportunity. The time, investment of personnel, and extensive planning on the part of the hospital is greatly appreciated. The high school and hospital plan to continue developing the rotation and to offer the experience each school year.
    Pottstown High School is a public high school entity that combines academic instruction with elective career and technical educational programming.

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    The Pottsgrove School Board adopted a $66 million budget for the coming school year Tuesday night that will include a tax hike of less than half a percent.

    In fact, the tax hike will be .39 percent, which will translate into an $18 tax increase for a home assessed at $120,000, the district average.

    Board Vice President Al Leach cast the only vote against the budget. He argued that there were other options which would allow the district to close the $150,000 gap between revenues and expenses.

    He said Boyertown, Pottstown, Owen J. Roberts and Spring-Ford had all drawn heavily on reserve funds to close their budget gaps.

    However, board members Rick Rabinowitz, who voted for his first tax hike in his four years on the board, Board President Matt Alexander and Business Manager David Nester all argued that drawing on reserves in one year only creates a bigger budget gap the following year.

    "I'm a believer in small increases over zero, zero and then a spike," said Nester. "No one remembers the zeros when you have a 10 percent increase."

    That board also voted to appoint high school junior Savanah Lear to be the board's newest student member, as well as for forgive a $300 invoice to Upper Pottsgrove Township regarding a car show at the middle school which was causing what Rabinowitz characterized as a political "kerfuffle."

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting all tied up, as promised, in a bow.

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    This fire station in Norristown found a new life as
    the Five Saints Distillery.
    The name of today's discussion is "adaptive re-use."

    As the name suggests, the idea is to take beautiful old buildings that populate the streets of storied communities like Pottstown, and find a new use for them.

    Although we all know and love the outsides, sometimes the interiors need a little work, both to undo damage by well-meaning renovators, and to upgrade electric and plumbing systems to meet the needs of today's high-energy use uses.

    Susan Richardson from the Montgomery County Planning Commission was in Pottstown Wednesday to talk to regional planners about how to make it easier for those projects to come to fruition.

    Of course, they come in all shapes, sizes, personalities and avenues, but there are some basic things municipal officials can do to smooth the road of what is often a bumpy path.

    Be flexible, change zoning to allow for such uses and bring them before elected bodies as conditional uses rather than the all-too-often more stringent
    Although the developer agreed to preserve the school, the
    borough agreed to an additional 28 single-family homes
    on the 11-acre property to make the project 
    economically viable.
    requirements of a zoning variance.

    One of the projects highlighted was the transformation of the former Perkiomen Valley Middle School in Trappe into apartments.

    Richardson said the officials looked hard to find the right developer and had to make concessions to ensure the project would be economically feasible.

    Of course, none of this is new to Pottstown, where several adaptive re-use projects -- the latest of which is the Beech Street Factory project -- have found success.

    Consider the First Fidelity building, now home to The Brickhouse; the former Jefferson School, now senior apartments; the former borough hall on King Street, now apartments and even the armory next door, now used as a gymnasium and work-out area.

    It takes vision, adaptive thinking and a flexible local government.

    Now, here are the Tweets.

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

    To celebrate Independence Day, the National Park Service invites the public to attend an inspirational reading of the Declaration of Independence accompanied with music and traditional patriotic songs. 

    According to Hopewell Furnace Site Manager David Blackburn, the program will be staged on the porch of the Ironmaster’s House at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 4. Admission to the park and event is free.

    “On this Fourth of July, we invite the public to re-visit our founding document —The Declaration of Independence,” said Blackburn. “Come spread a blanket and enjoy a program dedicated to our founding fathers and mothers. Enjoy this salute to the sacrifice that they made for the freedoms we cherish today,” he added. 

    The Declaration of Independence was officially adopted in Philadelphia at 2 p.m. on July 4, 1776. The reading at Hopewell marks the hour of our nation’s 241st birthday.

    The program features noted author, playwright and actress Christine Emmert who will read from the Declaration as well as from letters of the period. 

    Emmert has had a long career as actress, writer and director. Her story LILITH is out on Kindle along with her novel, ISMENE. Christine came to Hopewell as a volunteer writing, directing and acting in FROM OUT THE FIERY FURNACE which is in its final year after nine years of performance. 

    Her plays are seen throughout the English speaking world. In 2016, she was a finalist in the Jane Goodall competition for 10 minute plays about endangered species.

    The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Berks County was on July 8, 1776. 

    The document was read publicly in villages throughout the area. Ironmaster and founder of Hopewell Furnace Mark Bird was brother-in-law to two signers of the Declaration: George Ross and James Wilson.

    An early iron making plantation, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, features the foundations of America’s early iron industry from extraction in the 18th century to the enlightened conservation of the 20th century. In addition to the park’s Independence Day program, visitors can participate in moulding demonstrations, shop at the Village Store, watch several educational videos, and listen to the Voices of Hopewell as they wander through the Village. The park offers an 18-mile trail system which links directly to French Creek State Park.

    Hopewell Furnace is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day during the summer months of July and August. There is no entrance fee. Hopewell Furnace is located five miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345. For more information stop by the park's visitor center, call 610-582-8773, visit the park's web site at, or contact us by e-mail at

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by YWCA TriCounty Area

    YWCA Tri-County Area’s Early Education Center today earned the highest level in Keystone STARS performance standards set by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

    The STARS 4 designation recognizes YWCA Tri-County Area for its performance in the quality of staff credentials and professional development, programming, partnerships with family and community, and leadership and management.

    “This designation acknowledges the strides we have made to improve the quality of education at our Early Education Center,” said Stacey Woodland, CEO of YWCA Tri-County Area. “We earned a perfect score; our goal now is to sustain the high quality of education we provide to local families.”

    To earn the STARS 4 designation, YWCA Early Education Center improved the quality of classroom environment, curriculum performance standards, partnerships with families and the community, Continuous Quality Improvement measures, and the educational levels, support and continuing education, and compensation for teachers.

    “The consistent support for our teachers promotes staff retention,” Woodland said. “That in turn provides continuity of care for the children, aiding in their development and learning.”

    The STARS 4 designation also gives the Early Education Center additional state support for child care subsidies, and additional technical assistance and resources for the classroom.

    YWCA Tri-County Area’s Early Education Center offers infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms, two Early Head Start classrooms, and two Pre-K Counts classrooms. In addition, Out Of School Time before and after school is available to families with school-age children.

    Keystone STARS is an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning to improve, support, and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania. Each level builds on the previous level using research-based best practices to promote quality early learning environments and positive child outcomes.

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    Real Americans are all shapes, sizes, religions and beliefs, as symbolized during this citizenship ceremony at Pottsgrove High School last year.

    What does it mean to be an American?

    The nation's birthday seems like as good a time as any to explore this question.

    I'll begin by telling you outright I don't think there is just one answer.

    The problem is, a lot of us think there is.

    To some, an "American," is an English-speaking person born in this country.

    But last October, I watched 54 people born in a different countries, take an oath at Pottsgrove High School that made them citizens of the United States of America.

    Are they any less "American" than those of us who were born here?

    I would argue that getting to this country from another, sometimes under difficult circumstances, in some cases learning a new language and learning the history and structure of your adopted nation makes them more of an American than those of us whose only qualify characteristic is being born.

    These folks had to work for it.

    Chin Su Kim of South Korea received his US Citizenship papers
    last year in a ceremony at Pottsgrove High School.
    They had to want it.

    If the only real American is someone born here, one could argue that the only real Americans are the descendants of those who were here before Columbus; before Ponce de Leon; before the Mayflower blundered its way into Massachusetts Bay.

    Frankly, Native Americans have a pretty solid claim, and the only practical way to dispute it is to put a pin in the timeline of the continent's history and say only those born after 1776 (or 1789) and their descendants are real Americans.

    But that seems a bit capricious in the broader scheme of history.

    In truth, all Americans are from somewhere else. Its just a matter of how far back you go.

    And lately, we have been going way back.

    It has never been easier -- or more lucrative for the Internet companies doing the searching -- to trace our descendants back through the generations to Ireland, or Italy or Slovenia and, if the commercials are to be believed, millions of us are delighted to be doing so every day.

    To celebrate our non-American origins and, in the same breath, refuse to confer the status of "American" on those who came a decade or two later is beyond ironic.

    It's moronic and it borders on the kind of willful and belligerent ignorance in which, sadly, we have begun to specialize in recent years.

    Perhaps being a real American has less to do with where we're born and more to do with what we believe.

    And no, I don't mean belief in God or being a Christian nation. We are, rather, a nation that was founded by Christians (many of them "diests," who believed in God but not religion).

    The Christians who founded this nation knew their history, they knew the centuries of blood spilled in Europe in wars over who was the right kind of Christian.

    This nation was founded by Christians who specifically wanted to keep Christianity out of government; to make worship a matter of personal belief and not one of government mandate.

    When I say maybe a real American is defined by her belief, I mean someone who believes in the ideals of America; our right to pursue life, liberty and happiness; our right to be free to speak our minds; to worship as we wish.

    Perhaps a real American is someone who understands and exercises the rights that are due every American thanks to our Constitution and its predecessor which we celebrate so noisily on this day every year with fireworks (or in Pottstown's case, lasers.)

    Consider the curious case of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who refused to stand for the National Anthem because of what he saw as unfair treatment of non-white Americans.

    Many viewed this choice as "un-American."

    I say what could be more American than to peacefully protest what you see as the unfair treatment of a minority?

    When you can be pulled over for "driving while black," or a jury decides that a police officer did not commit murder when he shot a black driver because he is justified to be "in fear for his life" because of the color of the driver's skin, something has gone wrong. That is a violation of America's highest ideals.

    Is it not the finest American tradition to stand up, or in Kaepernick's case, kneel down, for what you believe to be un-American? Let's not forget the "all men are created equal" part of the document we are celebrating today folks.

    To argue that all men are being treated as equals in America today is to deny the evidence of your own eyes.

    To argue that all men (and women) are provided with the same opportunities in today's public school systems is to deny the facts.

    To argue that protesting such unfair treatment, sometimes peacefully, sometimes in more riotous fashion causing property damage, is un-American is to deny our own history.

    After all, what was the Boston Tea Party we so venerate but a bunch of costumed hooligans destroying private property in protest over how the majority in England was treating the minority -- the colonists?

    In truth, I believe this argument over "real Americans" -- most recently crystalized in a new NRA advertisements pasted below in which the word "they" is featured prominently -- is really about the dry science of demographics.

    The U.S. Census predicts that in a few years, white Americans will become a minority in this country.

    Its hard to win elections that way, which is why for years, Jeb Bush was trying unsuccessfully to rouse his party to this reality with the phrase "demographics is destiny" and urging the GOP to be more welcoming to Hispanics.

    But instead of embracing this new majority and winning them over in the marketplace of ideas, the multi-pronged methodology now underway is to subvert that looming majority to maintain control of the country for as long as possible -- a desperate strategy to hold on to what is believed to belong only to the "real Americans."

    It's pretty simple stuff when you take a step back and look at the big picture.

    First, you make it harder for "them" to vote.

    Purging voter rolls, requiring photo IDs and a national investigation of non-existent voter fraud as an excuse to collect state voter data is a good way to start.

    Another necessity is to undermine public education.

    Citizens who are taught to think for themselves are hard to fool and even harder to rule, particularly when there are a lot of them. So rather than recognize that different people learn in different ways and devote our efforts to educating each student in the best way we can, we have standardized education; using standardized tests which discriminate against non-traditional learners and, by what I'm sure is pure coincidence, non-whites and those raised in poverty.

    If you don't fit the mold, you don't move ahead through the system. How did we come to this in a country where we celebrate the idea of independence every year?

    We've punished and demeaned teachers for so long now, that the number of people willing to undertake this most vital and, more recently, thankless job, is dwindling to the crisis point.

    But rest assured that school districts in wealthy white suburbs -- the beneficiaries of Pennsylvania's lopsided and racist education funding system -- will still be able to afford the higher salaries necessary to attract those still willing to teach.

    And of course, trust in the media must be undermined as well.

    You can't have those who may point out inconsistencies and outright lies; those charged with speaking truth to power and holding it to account; those who so often remind us how alike we all truly are and how much we actually have in common; running around unimpeded when you are so desperately working to instill fear with an "us" and "them" narrative.

    Fearful people are easy to manipulate, particularly when you claim to have an easy solution that we can understand. Never mind that it doesn't work. What's important is that its comforting and that it reaffirms what we've always believed about who truly deserves the rewards of being a real American.

    Certainly, it's not "them."

    As for me, I plan to celebrate July 4th by celebrating the idea that real Americans fight for what's fair, what's right, because it makes us a better country. It brings us closer to being the country we say we aspire to be.

    I plan to celebrate July 4th by celebrating the idea that the best American is an American educated enough to make decisions based more on facts than feelings, to know her rights and to exercise them with vigor, who knows that oppression of any of us is oppression of all of us.

    I plan to celebrate the birth of America by celebrating an idea best articulated by a fictional Englishman, that we have come to a time in our history when we will all have to make a choice -- between what is right, and what is easy.

    But that's just me.

    And I'm only one American.

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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    The 10-foot-tall Pottstown Rotary Club inflatable duck is a staple of the Fourth of July Parade.

    Pottstown's Fourth of July Parade returned in full Tuesday morning beneath partly cloudy skies, a cool breeze and patriotic feelings.glory

    Here are a few Tweets from the parade.

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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Pottstown's newest police officer, Timothy Coffland and his wife Jessica, center, moments after being sworn in by Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas, right, and Police Chief Richard Drumheller, left.

    Pottstown swore in its newest police officer, Timothy Coffland, just in time Monday night.

    Just as the meeting broke up, there was a double shooting on Chestnut Street. You can read about it here.

    Best of luck Officer Coffland.

    But while we may have enough police officers to handle Pottstown's crime, we had trouble finding enough borough council members Wednesday to handle the borough's business.

    When council convened, only Council President Dan Weand, Vice President Sheryl Miller, member Dennis Arms and Mayor Sharon Thomas were present.

    The first of these meetings almost didn't happen,
    due to lack of a quorum.
    Since the mayor only votes in a tie, council was one vote short of the four voting members needed to form a quorum on the seven-member board.

    But Twitter saved the day.

    When I tagged Councilman Ryan Procsal in mentioning the inability to conduct business, he responded with "be right there."

    It seems he just got back from vacation and had not thought he would be available for the council meeting, but when he saw the need, he came running.

    Absent were council members Carol Kulp, Rita Pez and Joe Kirkland.

    What with the shootings, I'm afraid I can't give you a terribly complete report on the meeting as I was otherwise engaged.

    Suffice it to say that the major topics of discussion were stormwater control measures; changes to the proposed law governing murals on buildings; a request to mount a Latino-themed mural either on the Carousel building or the old borough garage on Beech Street; concern about allowing more backyard burning and praise for the July 4th Parade and GoFourth celebrations of the past several days.

    The rest, I'm afraid, you will have to intuit from the Tweets below and whatever articles get written out of the meeting.

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    The proposal to build a hotel, medical office building and about 500 housing units did not win the preliminary site plan approval the developers were so obviously expecting Thursday night.

    Rather, after disagreements surfaced about details and whether limits could be placed on residential developments to guarantee commercial developments could be built, both sides retreated to re-group.

    There was a lot of talk -- after all lawyers, engineers and politicians were involved -- but the essential issue comes down to this.

    The township commissioners have seen too many "mixed use developments" flounder after the residential portion of the project was built, leaving the schools with more students but no commercial tax base to offset the cost.

    So the township wants "phasing," with one of the commercial developments being built after the townhomes, for which the developers already have a contract.

    From the developers' standpoint, they don't control the market and don't control which type of partner they secure and when. Limiting the project to a schedule phasing undermines the ability to get the financing to undertake all the site work at the same time, a considerable savings.

    Suffice it to say that no compromise was reached Wednesday night, although a few were floated. However, the pending signing of a contract for the 60,000 square-foot medical facility may break the log-jam.

    A meeting between the township staff and developers, along with two commissioners, has been scheduled with anticipation that the preliminary approval can be accomplished at the July 20 meeting.

    The project calls for 60,000 square-foot medical building, a 108-room hotel, 17 multi-family apartment buildings with a total of 343 units & and 147 townhomes, all on about 50 acres off Evergreen Road opposite the Limerick outlets.

    That said, you can read the Tweets if you want the long version, including the catty exchange between Township Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. and Frank Bartle, the developers' attorney.

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    It's hard to picture a better way to enjoy the lazy days of summer, than along the shores of our own Schuylkill River.

    Luckily for us all, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area is located right here in Pottstown in Riverfront Park and has a number of upcoming events to appeal to the historian, padder or pedaler in your family.

    • Early Bird pricing ends July 15 for the Ride for the River.

    On Sept. 30 the heritage area is bringing the Ride for the River back for a second year. Take a 16- or 40-mile ride along the Schuylkill River Trail from Pottstown to Reading, beginning and ending at Sly Fox Can Jam festival where riders can enjoy eight hours of free live music

    All proceeds benefit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, which works with partners to build, maintain and promote the Schuylkill River Trail.

    Volunteers for Ride for the River are also needed. Interested in volunteering? Email Laura at
    • On Friday, July 21, the heritage center will hold Schuylkill Explorers Family Day.

    A free two-hour program from 9 to 11 a.m., the program gets kids outdoors and teaches the importance of protecting our natural resources.

    Visit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area's River of Revolutions Interpretive Center, walk on the Pottstown RiverWalk, and participate in an environmental education activity

    Appropriate for children ages 5 and up; parents must accompany children during the program

    Click here on this link to register.

    • The first of three popular Pedal and Paddle Tours is scheduled for Saturday, July 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will focus on water quality.

    Pedal and Paddles begin with a 4.5 mile bike ride from Pottstown’s Riverfront Park to Douglassville, using yellow cruisers from the Bike Pottstown bike share program. 

    Participants either take a guided tour of Morlatton Village's four 18th century buildings including the oldest home in Berks County or ride directly to Douglassville’s Ganshahawny Park for a lesson on water quality. 

    Events with a water quality focus include more on-water time, with stops for water testing. 

    All events include a picnic lunch(provided) and receive a brief introduction to kayaking from outfitter Doug Chapman of Take it Outdoors Adventures. 

    Then, they paddle back to Pottstown via the Schuylkill River. Food, bikes, kayaks and all kayaking gear are provided. Must be 16 or older to participate.

    The cost is $40 and each event is limited to 15 people.

    The second Pedal and Paddle Tour takes place on Saturday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a tour of Morlatton Village.

    The third takes place on Saturday, Sept. 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again will focus on water quality.

    • Or maybe you would rather take a Pedal and Paddle Tour in Mont Clare along Lock 60 and the Schuylkill Canal that takes place on Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m..
    This will consist of a bike ride along the Schuylkill River Trail and a kayaking loop that begins on the river and returns via the canal. It will include a guided tour of the canal and Lock Tenders House.

    There's no question that the Schuylkill River it itself a work of art.
    • But the Schuylkill River Heritage Area loves to see it portrayed in art, which is why is sponsors an annual art show, 2017, Scenes of the Schuylkill Art Show.
    Now in its 14th year, the show is hosted by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area every fall at the Montgomery County Community College West Campus gallery in Pottstown. This year's show runs
    from Nov. 2-Dec. 17. 

    There will be cash prizes from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and gift certificates from North Penn Art.

    Best of Show winner will receive $300 cash and a $400 gift certificate; 2nd Prize: $200 cash and a $250 gift certificate; 3rd Prize: $100 cash and a $100 gift certificate; Staff Choice $50 cash and a $50 gift certificate; two honorable mentions for paintings:$50 each and $50 gift certificates; two honorable mentions for photography: $50 each and $50 gift certificates. 

    The Heritage Area will collect a 20 percent commission fee from all sales that result from the show and exhibit. If your work is  sold, the 20 percent commission fee is tax-deductible.

    The 2017 show will be juried by Rachel McCay, assistant curator at Woodmere Museum of Art. 

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    Frank Buttaro
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust.

    Nathaniel C Guest, Executive Director of the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust, has announced that Frank Buttaro, Jr., of Pottstown joined the staff of the Colebrookdale Railroad as Director of Marketing and Business Development on July 1.

    Frank is well known in the Tri-County Area and brings a unique blend of for-profit and not-for- profit experience. He has served as Director of Business Development for BerksAmericana, National Sales Manager for Pro-Tool Industries, and worked for the American Heart Association among other affiliations. He brings more than 25 years of experience in sales and marketing to the Colebrookdale Railroad.

    His community work spans local government and a variety of non-profit involvements. Frank serves on the Development Committee of the Bethany Children’s Home, Advisory Board of Olivet Boys and Girls Club (Pottstown location), and the Events Committee of the Reading Symphony.

    “Frank brings a wealth of experience in sales and building relationships” according to Guest.

    Frank’s appointment signals another milestone of the development for the railroad. Charged with developing new partnerships with area businesses and securing new ridership, Buttaro will interface with business and community groups to build continuing support for economic growth.

    In the coming months, 118,000 paving bricks manufactured in the early 1900s, salvaged from a scrap pile in Western Pennsylvania, will be installed as walkways that will provide paths from Philadelphia Avenue into the railyard at third and Washington Street in Boyertown. 

    In Pottstown, plans are progressing to build a station in Memorial Park where the railroad crosses King Street.

    According to Building a Better Boyertown (BBB) more than 12 new businesses have located to Boyertown as a result of the railroad’s development.

    Serving Montgomery and Berks County, the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust is a 503(c)(3) dedicated to restoring rail service to Eastern Berks County and developing the Civil War-era Colebrookdale Railroad into a tourist destination which will drive economic development in the Tri-County Area. 

    Since carrying its first passengers in 2014, the railroad has carried over 50,000 passengers from 48 states and five foreign countries through the Secret Valley where iron helped forge a nation.

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    If you're interested in backyard fires, large murals or new bridges, Pottstown Borough Council was the place to be Monday night.

    PennDOT held a public hearing on the $3.5 million plan to replace the King Street bridge over Manatawny Creek.

    The bridge, built in 1957 carries about 9,000 vehicles per day and its structurally deficient.

    Work is slated to begin after July 4, 2019.

    Yes, you read that right, it's still two years away.

    As for the backyard fire pits and such, council approved that ordinance change unanimously, despite the objection of Michelle Chasin, who said the smoke is dangerous and she has had problems with her neighbor's fire pit.

    Two other residents spoke out in favor of it.

    The vote on the new mural ordinance was not unanimous. Councilman Dennis Arms remained opposed, saying the requirements that a maintenance agreement be secured before a permit is issued is needless.

    It was a pretty quick meeting overall, as the Tweets below will show.

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    No matter if its red, blue or green, the streets colored on this map are on the schedule to be paved. The colors simply indicate whether the paving is in concert with a water project, sewer project or straight out of the liquid fuels fund.

    Pottstown has 70 miles of streets and 15 miles of alleys. Ten miles of those roads are state roads.

    And between now and Oct. 30, about four miles of them are going to be paved.

    At least that's what I Tweeted from Monday's council meeting.

    The borough has since posted this map on its web site, indicating all the streets that will be re-paved, either as the result of a water line project, a sewer line project, or just straight paving (hence the different colors).

    It looks like more than 3.95 miles to me, which is what I saw at the bottom of a list of the streets to be paved, so maybe I was looking at the wrong list.

    Some of the re-paving will follow water or sewer line
    like this one on High Street last year.
    Anyhoo, people complain on The Mercury's Facebook page all the time about the condition of the roads in town, so it occurred to me you might be interested in the fact that some of them are going to get better.

    I also Tweeted to check the borough web site for a list, but I couldn't find one, so, my bad.

    If you can't make out whether your street is getting paved from the map above, you can check it out on the borough web site by clicking here, where it can be enlarged.

    The bid for the overlay paving was awarded to  Joseph E. Sucher and Sons, Inc., of Eddystone, in the amount of $742,446 according to the bid, which is now linked to the on-line agenda for the council meeting (a feature I am LOVING by the way).

    Then there is the $83,650 bid that council awarded to Trenchless Line Co. of Bridgeport for manhole rehabilitation,

    And don't forget the $63,193 bid they awarded to Cleaver Cable Construction Inc. of Glenolden for clean and televise sewer lines and you've got a grand total of $897,489 being spent to improve the streets (above and below) in this humble borough.

    If you're still having trouble figuring out if the paver is coming your way, contact the borough council member in your ward. They LOVE answering questions like this.

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

    Do you have what it takes to be a “Jack of All Trades” at Pottsgrove Manor? 

    There will be cooking in our reproduction 18th century kitchen where you can learn the skills needed to make a Georgian meal in a hearth fireplace. 

    Weavers will be working on tape looms and turning wool into yarn and thread. 

    The mason, or brick/stone layer, will be illustrating the steps in stone carving by hand. 

    Discover what a seamstress will be piecing together to create and hand-sew colonial garments. 

    Explore what a book binder, colonial shoe maker, and broom maker are showcasing, teaching about their craft, and showing off their wares. 

    Hands-on activities allow everyone to experience the noises, sights, and smells of the different 18th century careers and skills that crafted both everyday and luxury items. 

    It will be held Saturday, July 22, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Colonial ironmaster John Potts’ 1752 manor house will be open for tours during the day. 

    Trades were a necessary part of colonial life as friends and neighbors worked to sell and share their wares and services.  Visitors will also be able to shop at the manor’s museum shop for colonial games, books, and unique gifts.

    This program welcomes all ages; suggested donation $2 per person for the event. The event will be held rain or shine.

    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 Potttown and Manatawny Green Miniature Golf Course, in Pottsown. 

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

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

    Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at

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

    YWCA Tri-County Area approved two members to its board of directors at its Annual Meeting in June.

    Frankie Casanas of Douglassville and Karen McDougal of Pottstown were approved to join the board of directors for three-year terms. 

    Casanas, a shift manager at the John Middleton Co., is a member of National Women in Manufacturing. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Safety and Health, and currently is pursuing an MBA. 

    Karen McDougal
    She served in the U.S. Navy for 12 years, where she was a board member for the Aviation Boatswains Mate Association. At YWCA Tri-County Area, she has served on the Governance and Special Events committees.

    McDougal has more than a decade of experience in public accounting and auditing, and two decades teaching university accounting and finance, currently at Penn State Brandywine. 

    She operates a private accounting and tax practice for individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations, and delivers workshops and presentations in financial planning, accounting, and taxation. She works with the Pottstown chapter of SCORE to assist local businesses. 

    MdDougal is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, and holds a BBA in Accounting from Temple University, an MBA in Taxation from Widener University, and a PhD in Accounting from Temple University. She serves on YWCA Tri-County Area’s Development Committee.

    YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA Tri-County Area 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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    One of the nice things about those long summer nights, combined with Douglass supervisors meetings that rarely last more than an hour, is that you can run out after the meeting and get photos of some of the objects of discussion.
    Bingo also continues to be held at the social hall on Route 73.

    Chief among these last night was the fall-out from the closure of the Gilbertsville Fire Co. social hall, which came up during the solicitor's report.

    The gist of it seems to be that games of chance operating at the social hall may have been a violation of the liquor license, and since the township was the de-facto property owner, that made the township liable for the violations.

    The social hall was closed, except for charitable fund-raising events like Bike Night on Aug. 19 and the two-day craft show after Thanksgiving.

    We'll have a little more on that in subsequent reports in The Mercury when we have a bit more information.

    Also of interest was not only the pending expansion of Gilbertsville animal Hospital, which won preliminary support from the supervisors, but also a proposed use for the intersection of Route 100 and Jackson Road.

    The property owners received a positive reception for their zoning variance requests from the supervisors in exchange for committing to working with them on the design of the building.
    Proposed Mooney self-storage facility.

    Chairman Anthony Kuklinski described the Wawa near that intersection as "rural, but not," and said "the township does not want any big yellow boxes."

    Not the bury the lead or anything, but the supervisors also voted unanimously to borrow just under $1.2 to pay for the new township public works building now taking shape on Municipal drive.

    The new public works building is taking shape.
    Bob Dries, who is overseeing the construction, said the floor slab has been poured and walls are going up on the new facility.

    He said the roof joists should be in position shortly and that some utilities have already been put in position.

    The township broke ground on the new building on a rainy day in May and Dries said work is progressing quickly enough that "we should have everything under roof by winter."

    That's about it for last night's meeting. Here are the Tweets.

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    One could be forgiven for believing most matters of discussion at a water and sewer authority have to do with matters of water and sewage.

    And to be sure, they do.

    In that particular vein, the authority board unanimously (absent David Renn) officially approved the 14 percent hike in water and sewer rates that it tentatively approved in May.

    The average household will pay about $35 more per year for water as the result of the vote.

    The increase will generate additional revenues of $350,000 in 2017 and about $700,000 when the new fees have been in place for a full year by the end of 2018, according to Robert Plenderleith, the borough’s utilities administrator.

    Much of that will go into the authority’s capital budget, which is being used according to a regularly updated five-year plan to repair and replace aging infrastructure in a water and sewer system now nearly 100 years old.

    Repairs to that aging infrastructure -- and in particular the re-paving of the streets once that infrastructure is in place -- was of particular concern during Tuesday's authority board meeting.

    Member Tom Carroll confirmed that when the authority re-paves a borough street after pipe work has been done, it is done "curb to curb."

    Public Works Director Doug Yerger also said that when borough roads are re-paved from the liquid fuels fund simply because it needs it, it too is re-paved from curb to curb.

    But if drivers of High Street were hoping for the same treatment, they will be disappointed. The $4 million water line re-placement that began last year and will continue on Aug. 2, when connections along Washington, Adams and Bailey streets will begin.

    As engineer Tom Weld explained, because High Street is owned by the state, the curb-to-curb rule does not apply, so only the northern side of the street will be re-paved.

    The final paving schedule for High Street will "hopefully" be finalized by the end of the month, according to Yerger.

    As for keeping those streets clean, that's not happening any more.

    Also under Carroll's questioning, Borougth (and authority) Manager Mark Flanders confirmed the last three years of annual street sweeping was paid through a $500,000 settlement with the Pottstown Landfill several years ago in exchange for treating the closed landfill's dwindling leachate run-off.

    But after using some of the money to buy the trademark blue recycling containers, the rest went toward removing the 160 to 212 tons of grit off the streets each year.

    "But that money is now exhausted," said Flanders. To pay for more street sweeping would require something else not being paid for.

    Carroll offered the opinion that dirty streets keep "the kind of people we want to attract" from buying homes in the borough, and instead leads to residents who "don't care."

    "I take pride in the upkeep of my house," said Carroll. "Seeing what's going on in other towns, if I could sell my house and get out of this town I would because I am tired of looking at the filth."

    On that happy note, here are the Tweets from last night's borough authority meeting.

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    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Pottstown's Rollerderby Rockstars

    Pottstown's Roller Derby Rockstars will join leagues across the country to launch a national blood drive series next week called "Make ‘Em Bleed."

    The drive is organized in partnership with The American Red Cross and Brown Paper Tickets and will take place here on Wednesday, July 26 from 2 to 7 p.m. at Ringing Hill Fire Company, 815 White Pine Lane in Lower Pottsgrove. 

    (If you can't make the Pottstown blood drive, another will be held in Philadelphia on Sunday, Aug. 13 when the Philly Roller Derby will be at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, 5800 Ridge Ave., from from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)

    Roller derby athletes will offer autographs, photo opportunities and more to attract donors, like other blood drives in the Make 'em Bleed series which are often the most popular community service events of the year in many of the cities where they are hosted. 

    Make ‘Em Bleed roller derby blood drives have collected more than 900 units of blood over the past 4 years -- enough to have helped to save up to 2,700 lives.

    “The Make ‘Em Bleed blood drives provide a fantastic atmosphere, with roller derby athletes skating in uniform, refreshments, giveaways and an all-around good time,” said Justin Mueller, representative for the American Red Cross.“  The summer is one of the most difficult times for the Red Cross to collect blood, so Make ‘Em Bleed has really made a difference to help ensure blood is available for patients in need.”

    In 2017, the Make ‘Em Bleed roller derby blood drive series is part of World Roller Derby Week, Aug. 13-19, a series of events celebrating the 82nd birthday of the invention of the sport by Leo Seltzer in 1935. 

    Roller derby is one of only three major sports invented in the United State. Currently, almost 2,000 women’s, men’s and junior leagues are skating, competing and giving back to their communities worldwide.