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All the news that doesn't fit in print
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    Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
    The Pottstown High School Jazz Band performed at the 47th Annual Jazz in B-town Jazz Festival at Boyertown Area Senior High School on Saturday.


    Hello faithful readers, and welcome to another season of Pottstown High School Jazz Band coverage in The Digital Notebook -- a little bit later than it should be, and a little bit lamer than it used to be.

    But we'll get to that later.

    Thanks to the Twitter account of the Middle School's 7-8 Jazz Band, I learned late Sunday that our junior jazzers not only earned a "Superior" ranking at the 47th annual Jazz in B-town jazz festival Saturday at Boyertown Area Senior High School, but also Best Rhythm Section and a solo award for Alto Saxophonist Kishan Patel.

    Good going. Unfortunately, the videos posted of the 7-8 Band on the Pottstown "Band Peeps" Facebook page could not be captured for inclusion here.
    Photo by Evan Brandt
    Jazz band representatives Eddie Butler and Casey Mest
    are congratulated on their ranking by Boyertown Band
    Director Brian Landgon, a former Pottstown music
    teacher and friend to our program.

    Later in the evening, the Pottstown High School Jazz Band received a rank of "Outstanding," which, for the uninitiated, is above "Excellent" but below "Superior," in the world of jazz band rankings.

    They were up against some stiff competition Saturday, particularly from the Quakertown and North Penn Navy Jazz bands, each of which were ranked superior and captured most of the section and solo awards.

    "I hate them, they are so good," one envious Pottstown Jazz Band member was overheard to say of North Penn.

    The three pieces played by Pottstown were, "Things Ain't What they Used to Be,""Summer Never Ends," which is a feature piece for senior trombonist Kyle Kratzer (who I have known since I coached him in soccer, many, many, many years ago) and ending with "Hit the Bricks.")

    And this is where technology failed me as it did last week in Phoenixville.

    Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
    Pottstown senior Kyle Kratzer, who intends to
    attend Millersville University to become a music
    teacher, performs "Summer Never Ends."
    In Phoenixville, I tried an experiment.

    For those new to our Jazz Band coverage, know that I live-stream videos of the performances on a Twitter-related program called Periscope, for those who may not find the blog or only follow me on Twitter, and might not be able to make it to the performances.

    So in Phoenixville, the first festival of the season, I tried live-streaming Pottstown's entire performance, instead of stopping between songs like I usually do.

    It broadcast but did not save to my iPhone as it is supposed to, I'm not sure why.

    You see the problem with Periscope video is it expires after 24 hours, so I usually upload it from my phone into my YouTube account so the videos can be watched any time after the 24 hours are up.

    The visual quality ain't hot, but hey, you go a jazz performance for the sound right?

    So that's why I did not post about the Phoenixville performance, where the band received a "Excellent" rating. That and the fact that Pottstown was on about 5:30 p.m. and the event did not end until 10 or later. A guy's gotta sleep you know.

    I often try to record or at least broadcast some of the other area schools The Mercury covers because I'm nice like that.

    Photo Courtesy  of Missy Weber

    The rhythm section of the Pottstown High School Jazz Band.
    So when it came time for Boyertown, I resumed my old ways and broadcast three different songs individually but the last one, "Hit the Bricks" was not saved on my phone for reasons I won't pretend to understand.


    So I did some Internet searching and found a program called "webrecorder" which allowed me to preserve the Periscope video of "Hit the Bricks." Like the other YouTube videos, it is embedded in the Storify of my Tweets down below, but I warn you the sound quality is poor.
    Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
    Some of Pottstown's brass and sax players at work in Boyertown.

    I also recorded all three performances by Boyertown, even though, as the hosts, they were not graded as part of the competition.

    Also because director Brian Langdon, who cut his musical educator teeth as a Pottstown music teacher, always has so much fun and elicits great performances from his students.

    It may also have something to do with a great feeder program, like the one Langdon initiated for Pottstown. The Boyertown Elementary Jazz Band played between some of the high School performances and they were pretty darn good for little kids!
    Photo by Evan Brandt
    The Boyertown Elementary Jazz Band played a few tunes between high school performances.

    Of course, because technology likes to taunt me, all three of Boyertown's performances saved to the iPhone and are posted the usual way below.

    Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
    She was even kind enough to shoot a picture of my son,
    senior Dylan Brandt, during one of his solos. Thanks!
    And, as an extra treat, I also recorded (and posted below) one of the three pieces played by Pottstown's own Sunnybrook Dance Band, of which Langdon is a member, and which has closed out ever Boyertown jazz festival performance that I've ever attended.

    As an additional note, perhaps you've noticed that some of the photos here were taken by Missy Weber, whose son Julian has gamely moved from the trombone to the keyboard and whose daughter Emily is the bass player for the band.

    She posted it on Pottstown's "Band Peeps" Facebook page and graciously allowed me to grab them for this post.

    I urge others who take photo or video to contact me and make it available to help promote and celebrate the jazz band. The email that is attached to this blog is evanbrandt01@gmail.com

    As you might imagine, it's hard to take photos and shoot video at the same time, as things move along at a pretty good clip at these jazz events. So if you have photos or video that you think are good, I would be happy to use them.

    Chances are if you've shot full video, it's better than mine and I would just as soon preserve yours as mine. I just like to get them as quickly as possible so the coverage can be immediate.

    And, you'll get the same pay I do ... that would be the satisfaction of throwing a spotlight on our school's musicians in something remotely reminiscent of the way we so breathlessly cover high school sports.

    So without further ado, here are the Tweets and video below from Jazz in B-town.


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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    The scouts of Den 73 were lucky. They received their commendations for building a free library box and the collection of 400 books early on in last night's three-hour meeting.



    When you only have one meeting a month, it can go long. Last night, the New Hanover Supervisors meeting went on for almost exactly three hours.

    But it didn't take all that long for a little news to leak out.

    It seems that the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board's feasibility study calling for a multi-use sports complex -- that would generate $100 million in economic impact in the first five years -- was interested in property in New Hanover.

    The Wassamer tract, located behind the township building on Route 663 and purchased with public open space money to prevent a housing development, might a location to consider, according to the tourism board.

    They were perhaps drawn to the location by the two-year-old master recreation plan which shows something like that.

    So they called the township and a few officials went down to talk to them.

    But that didn't sit well with Supervisor Charles D. Garner Jr., who wanted to know why the meeting happened, what was discussed, and why something like that would even be considered in New Hanover Township.

    He also pointed out that given that the tract was purchased with tax money raised specifically for the preservation of open space, turning it into a mega-sports complex might not even be legal, much less advisable.

    Commissioners Chairman Phil Agliano and Commissioner Andrew Kelly said it was just a conversation, no commitments had been made and Agliano apologized for not informing the board ahead of time.

    In other news, the supervisors agreed to guarantee a $2 million loan for the sewer authority to replace the west branch sewer interceptor, adopted a hiring policy and fired an employee and suspended another.

    You'll find it all in the Tweets below.


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    The Pottsgrove Falcons football team stopped by the Pottsgrove School Board Tuesday night to thank the board for the team jackets purchased after their championship season in District One of division AAAA.




    A two-hour school board meeting Tuesday night touched upon many newsworthy subjects, not the least of which was congratulating this year's football Falcons.
    Falcons Coach Rick Pennypacker addresses the board.

    The team stopped by Tuesday to thank the board for the jackets, awards and monetary support in terms of equipment and uniforms, and to be congratulated on their season.

    Also on the docket was a report on enrollment projections for the district, made more urgent in the past year by the approval of one 178-unit development and the consideration of another -- this one with more than 500 housing units -- in Lower Pottsgrove.

    The report, delivered at a fast pace by Tracy Healy, owner and president of Ohio-based FutureThink, essentially said that Pottsgrove could expect as few as 25 new students in the next couple of years, 262 or "somewhere in the vicinity of 3,700," which, if I may say so, is quite a range.

    Healy said her projections for the students generated by the two  projects, are larger than those made by the developer, based on a number of factors, including their estimates.

    The board immediate agreed to authorize Business Manager David Nester to attend the next township commissioners' meeting and share this information with the board.

    The district administration figures it has about three years to see how things begin to shake out and hopes to come up with a plan for dealing with possible scenarios -- including new construction or re-districting -- by the start of the next school year, said Nester.

    The board also spent some time discussing the perennial shortage of substitute teachers and debated how to address the problem after Superintendent William Shirk provided some further information on the matter as a follow up to a discussion earlier in the month.

    Oh, and former technology director Michael Wagman's replacement, Anthony Bickert, was hired at an annual salary of $102,285.

    Here are the Tweets:


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    How much township business can you conduct in 40 minutes?

    As it turns out, a fair amount if you are the West Pottsgrove Township Commissioners.

    Perhaps the most fruitful thing to occur in that short period of time was an agreement to settle with Rettew Assoc. engineers for the under-engineering of the Grosstown Road sewer pump station.
    The Grosstown Road pump station is located adjacent to
    the parking lot at the township building which is, obviously,
    on Grosstown Road.

    The board agreed to a settlement amount of $212,500 with the firm that designed upgrades to the sewer pump station that were, evidently, inadequate to the flow of sewage.

    At least three years of problems, including sewer back-ups into the basements of two or three unfortunate households, led to the litigation.

    During heavy flows, and heavy rains, the township has to bring in auxiliary equipment to push the sewage through the system to the treatment plant in Pottstown at a fast enough rate to avoid those back-ups.

    The fix to the station is estimated to cost $168,000 and the difference between the two figures would cover legal and engineering fees for the fix. But no mention was made of covering the cost of bringing in extra pumping equipment.

    In other business, the commissioners voted to extend for three months the five-year-old trash collection contract with Waste Management Inc. to allow for more time to prepare bids for the next contract.

    The board also voted to double the rental fee for the pavilion at the township building from $25 to $50 to help defray the costs of clean-up incurred by township staff.

    Also, a new Community Day Committee was formed and community members and businesses are being asked to join to help improve the annual celebration. Those interested should contact the township manager's office at 610-323-7717.

    And here are the Tweets.


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    This map shows the first quarry proposal on the left, which has already received zoning approval, and the second, called GR-IV, on the right, which is the subject of the current zoning hearings in New Hanover. Hoffmansville Road splits the two sites. The road at the bottom of the maps is Church and Coleflesh Road is at the right.



    The seemingly endless zoning hearings on the 18 acres that Gibraltar Rock would like to open as a second quarry site continued Thursday night with an expert paid by the quarry company disputing testimony from an expert paid by the township.

    By strange coincidence, they disagree on several key points.

    Currently at issue is the proximity of the site, called GR-IV, to the former Good's Oil site off Route 663, north north of Big Road, the source of significant groundwater contamination in the area.

    For months, the two sides have been arguing about whether a quarry operation would have an effect on the contamination or not.
    This map, created by the quarry company's consultant, 
    EarthRes, shows the area of groundwater draw-down
    for each 50-foot level quarry digs.

    The quarry expert insists the flow of the contamination "plume" is flowing southwest, under Route 663.

    The township expert says the action of pumping groundwater out of the deepening hole in the ground may well draw the chemical contamination into the pit and thus discharged into a tributary of Swamp Creek, which empties into Perkiomen Creek, a source of public drinking water.

    Thursday night was scheduled for Lou Vittorio, the quarry's expert from the firm EarthRes, to rebut testimony from the township's witness, Toby Kessler, from Gilmore Associates.

    At the next hearing, on April 6, at 6:30 p.m., Vittorio will be cross-examined by the township's special attorney on the case, Robert Brant.

    Among the more notable things Vittorio said are that the state recently asked the company to update the chemicals it will test for in its monitoring wells around the proposed quarry site.

    This request, which Vittorio said the company has agreed to, comes on the heels of the discovery in July of a concrete vault on the Good's Oil property containing many of the chemicals which polluted neighbors wells as well as some new ones -- primarily pesticides and petroleum products.

    He also said that not only does the quarry's discharge permit from the
    Gibraltar Rock witness Lou Vittorino, in the foreground,
    testifies Thursday to the New Hanover Zoning Hearing Board.
    Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection need to be renewed every five years -- when the state can make changes to the monitoring and treatment requirements with which the quarry must comply -- but also every time the quarry opens a new "lift," which is another 50 feet down.

    His point is that "in the unlikely event" that contamination reaches the quarry pit, there are many opportunities for the state to react and impose new restrictions or a treatment regimen.

    Kessler has already testified that the company's treatment regiment is inadequate for the chemicals in question, particularly a suspected carcinogen called 1,4 dioxane.

    The hearing ended with Ross Snook, a relatively new arrival in the 17-year quarry saga, who was earlier this week appointed as chairman of the township's newly reinvigorated Environmental Advisory County.

    Some of Lee Hallman's samples.
    He submitted evidence from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry which he was prevented from submitted two months ago on the grounds of a technicality.

    The evidence had to do with the health effects of groundwater contamination at Camp Lejune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, and the health effects linked to that contamination. Snook's point is that the Lejune chemicals are similar to the chemicals at issue at the Good's Oil site, such as volatile organic compounds like TriChlorEthylene, or TCE.

    He also brought along a man named Lee Hallman, who briefly outlined some of the pre-historic Native American artifacts found on the site of both the first and second quarry proposal sites.

    He also brought along samples which he said could be as old as 9,000 years, adding "the site is crucial to Pennsylvania pre-history, which we know so little about."

    However his testimony was undermined when he admitted he did not know that the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission has already declared that the quarry operation will not cause any harm to the state's archaeological resources.


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    Photo Courtesy of Pottstown Schools

    Nicole Valenti's third grade class at Rupert Elementary School.








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

    The students and staff at Rupert Elementary School understand the importance of helping others and the value of every penny counts.

    They participated in The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Pennies for Patients fundraising campaign, to help patients with blood cancers and fund research for blood cancers. 

    During three weeks in February students brought in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and even dollars to school to help the L.L.S. mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin disease, and myeloma and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. 

    They can be very proud of themselves for raising $1,612.29. Three classes raised over $100 each and earned a bronze pennant for their class room. 

    Molly Callaghan's class earned $100.66; Nicole Leh's class collected $109.16 and Susan Paravis's class collected $179.06. 

    Nicole Valenti's class raised the most, $335.80 and earned a gold pennant, a $50 gift card from Office Depot for the class room, and a pizza party for her students. 

    "I am very proud of our students and staff for caring for those in need," said Principal Matthew Moyer. "They are learning valuable life lessons and given us another reason to say Proud to be from Pottstown."

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    Photos Courtesy of West Pottsgrove Elementary School
    Children's author Kathy Miller brought along her friend Chippy the Chipmunk for a visit to West Pottsgrove Elementary School on Read Across America Day.

    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by West Pottsgrove Elementary Principal Terri Koehler

    March 2 has become a big deal at West Pottsgrove Elementary School. 

    March 2 is the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss and is now celebrated in many schools as Read Across America. 
    Green Eggs and Ham was on both the
    reading menu and eating menu.

    This year we were pleased to have award-winning author, Kathy Miller, join us for our celebration. 

    Ms. Miller uses nature photography as the basis for her children’s stories about Chippy the Chipmunk. During her presentation Ms. Miller showed the children how she takes the photos, what makes a good photo and shared how the children could use a photo to “find their stories.” 

    Ms. Miller also talked about wild birds and showed an example of how chipmunks build their burrows underground. Chippy the Chipmunk even made an appearance and greeted the children as they exited the assembly. 

    Following the assembly, we hosted a lunch with Ms. Miller for the top readers in each classroom. 

    During the lunch the children got to learn more about the work Ms. Miller does to build her stories. Following the lunch, Ms. Miller then spent the afternoon meeting with the students that had purchased her books and took time to autograph each and every one!

    In addition to Ms. Miller’s visit, there were many more things going on in the building to celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss, including a choice of green eggs and ham for lunch! 
    Students, teachers and parents all Read Across America on March 2.

    There were classroom activities, special mystery readers and our second grade students read to our kindergarten students. 

    It was capped off in the evening during our family night at the book fair. This was more than an opportunity for families to shop the book fair, West Pottsgrove believes in using this an opportunity to foster our love of reading and literacy with our families. 

    Adopting a camping theme, West staff, volunteers, Terri. Minotto, Julie. Farris and Breanna Flora gathered children around a “campfire” and shared stories about camping. 

    Following the stories, there were camping inspired crafts led by Christine Reisner, Jean Randall, Leah Quigley and Mrs. Tomaselli. Mrs. Harrison, building reading specialist, planned and organized all of the activities and events for the day. 

     The author visit and special lunch were made possible through the generosity of the West Pottsgrove PTA.

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    A collier's work was lonely and took place in the woods.










    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site.

    Who were the Colliers? What did they do? Where and how did they live?

    These and other questions will be explored as the Friends of Hopewell Furnace host local historian Spencer Claypoole’s presentation on the lifestyles of these famous charcoal making men and women. 

    The free program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Hopewell Furnace Conference Center on Sunday, March 12.

    Three hundred years ago iron was first produced along the Manatawny Creek in Pennsylvania. 

    Charcoal is a key ingredient. Colliers created that charcoal in the Pennsylvania wilderness of today’s Berks and Chester counties. 

    For most of the year, Colliers lived in remote areas of the woods. The rest of the time they lived in houses some of which stand today in North Coventry.

    Claypoole will help provide insight into what that life was like.

    A member of the North Coventry Township Historical Commission for over 25 years and chairman since 2000, Claypoole is also a member of the Board of Supervisors. 

    In 2012 the Owen J. Roberts Education Foundation gave Claypoole its Community Service Award. 

    And in 2016 The Chester County Historical Preservation Network, of which Spencer was a past member, awarded him the Jane L.S. Davidson Award for historical preservation. 

    Spencer holds a Masters degree in social work and has worked for close to 40 years with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during which time he wrote and gave talks on the importance of local history to the growth of our nation.

    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. For more information visit the Friends web site at www.friendsofhopewellfurn.org.

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

    Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, the park 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 www.nps.gov/hofu, or contact the park by e-mail at hofu_superintendent@nps.gov.




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    Photo by Evan Brandt

    State Rep. Marcy Toepel, R-147th Dist., addresses the Douglass (Mont.) Township Supervisors meeting Monday night, but she had nothing to report.


    In a meeting reminiscent of the "Seinfeld" episode where George and Jerry pitch a TV show about nothing, the Douglass (Mont.) Supervisors had little to discuss Monday night.

    State Rep. Marcy Toepel, R-147th Dist., was home from Harrisburg and stopped in, but what did she have to report?

    Nothing.

    Township Solicitor Bob Brant?

    Nothing, (although one wag in the audience asked aloud how much that will cost us.)

    Public Works Director Michael Heydt?

    Nothing.

    Boy was this going to be a short meeting, and it was.

    There was something of consequence, however.

    Josh Hagadorn, the engineer from Gilmore Assoc., announced that bids for the new public works building are out on the street.

    The board rejected the first set of bids at the Feb. 21 meeting. The new bids will be opened on March 27.

    The board also voted to hire Bob Dries, the part-time zoning and inspections supervisor to be the township's construction supervisor at a rate of $45 per hour.

    Supervisors Chairman Anthony Kuklinski said the township has budget $900,000 for the project and "we will pay for it out of general funds and it will not cause a tax increase."

    Dries said the project will take between four to five months to complete. It will be built at the same location as the current facility, 108 Municipal Dr., which will be demolished.

    Here are the Tweets from the meeting:


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

    Warmer weather is coming soon and there has never been a better time to “Spring Clean” your credit.

    Learn the best ways to reduce your debts. Learn how to improve your credit scores. Make good decisions with your money. Learn what they never covered when you were in high school!

    Genesis Housing Corporation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit community development corporation, will hold FREE classes covering those subjects on Wednesday evenings, March 15th, March 22nd and March 29th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the YWCA Tri-County building, 300 King Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.

    Register for free classes at www.genesishousing.org.

    The classes are designed to help to:
    • Understand Credit -- Information on credit scores, improving your scores, re-establishing credit and dealing with debt. (Wednesday, March 15, 2017).
    • Money Management– Information on preparing realistic budgets that are more than just monthly bills, prioritizing spending in tough times and understanding how current spending impacts your future financial options (Wednesday, March 22, 2017).
    • Home Buying Basics -- Understand the home buying process – what lenders require, types of mortgages, selecting good lenders and realtors, Agreements of Sale, home inspections and first- time homebuyer grant programs (Wednesday, March 29, 2017).
    Nikki Holcroft, an award winning and certified housing counselor, will teach the classes. 

    Holcroft has more than twenty-five years experience working as a housing counselor, mortgage banker and community lender. 

    Holcroft has worked with Genesis Housing Corporation since 2001 and teaches monthly classes on credit, money management and the home buying process. Holcroft also provides individual housing counseling sessions to help clients achieve their financial goals. 

    Holcroft has worked with families to restructure their mortgages, avoid foreclosures and reduce their debts.

    Registration can be made online at www.genesishousing.org or by calling Genesis Housing Corporation at 610-275- 4357. 

    The Pottstown classes are funded, in part, by BB and T Bank through the PA Neighborhood Tax Credit Program. Additional funding was provided by Montgomery County.

    Genesis Housing Corporation’s housing counseling programs provide free classes and individual counseling helping over 10,000 clients. 

    Monthly classes focus on topics not taught in regular school including understanding credit, credit repair, money management, saving plans, grant programs and understanding the home buying process including selecting a realtor and finding the best mortgage.

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

    Genesis Housing Corporation is approved by PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for housing counseling. 

    Genesis Housing Corporation is an approved agency for many programs including the Montgomery County First-time Home Buyers Program and the Norristown First-time Home Buyers Program. 

    In addition, Genesis Housing Corporation has developed affordable housing by rehabilitating vacant homes, developing apartments and by building new housing for income eligible families. Genesis Housing Corporation also renovates existing owner-occupied homes for eligible households for the Montgomery County Homeowner Rehab Program.

    For more information on Genesis Housing Corporation programs, call 610-275- 4357 or visit www.genesishousing.org or on Facebook (www.facebook/GenesisHousing).

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    I would be lying to pretend that the big story from last night's borough council meeting was NOT a proposal to establish a medical marijuana growing facility in the 700 block of Queen Street.

    It was.

    And chances are, you already read all about it my story in The Mercury here, so I won't be repetitive here in the blog. (I mostly wanted to use that headline...).

    But there were a few other things of interest that happened, so let's talk about those.

    First, Council President Dan Weand finally got his numbers about new jobs in the borough.

    Some of you will recall that his goal for 2016 was 100 new "living wage jobs" in the borough. And it looks like at least part of that goal was accomplished.

    Using tax figures from Portnoff Associates -- figures that were evidently not easy to get -- Weand reported that in 2015, the borough had 10,440 jobs and 2,777 of them were held by borough residents.

    In 2016, Pottstown had 11,716 jobs, of which, 2,846 of were held by borough residents.

    That means the year-over-year increase was 1,276 additional jobs, 69 of them held by borough residents. Now how many of them were "living wage jobs?" Well that, apparently is a mystery for the ages.

    But given that Weand is running for reelection this year, you won't be surprised to know he took a victory lap anyway. "I think that's pretty impressive. I had not realized we had grown so much," he said.

    Also of interest is Council Vice President Sheryl Miller's crusade to lower the 10 percent late fee for late water and sewer bills -- something which she has announced she has personal experience resenting.

    Arguing that the fee is over the top -- most utilities charge a 1 or 2 percent late fee, she said -- Miller wants it lowered and some people on council, Dennis Arms and Joe Kirkland, seem inclined to agree. More on that next month, apparently.

    During his report, Borough Manager Mark Flanders announced that police and codes officers will team up through September, visiting borough residents systematically, finding out what their problems are, identifying some, then returning for follow up.

    That means if your house has code violations, and they get spotted during these walks, you will get a grace period of about two weeks to take care of them before a citation gets issued.

    Flanders said this will be an ongoing enterprise.

    And finally, as the meeting wound down, Arms, recalling past glories of The Digital Notebook, asked a question the notebook asked in 2015 -- Why Do We Need Wards?

    That post, written when both Ross Belovich and Arms were running for the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Ward seat, noted that if everyone ran at large, both could have been candidates for council.

    Arms said with petitions circulating and local elections coming up, its a good time to talk about it. "I know I get calls from people in other wards," he said.

    Anyway, on to the Tweets:


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

    Did you know that children have a better chance of success in and out of school when they have healthy social and emotional relationships with others?

    Did you know that it takes just one healthy relationship to make a difference in a child’s life? 

    Well, the good news is that all of this is true and much more. The Pottstown School District recognizes the benefits of these facts and is doing something to make a difference.

    A 2017 Spring Let’s Talk Community Conversation Series has been planned in each of the four elementary schools to address parents’ concerns on “Helping Our Children Grow Socially and Emotionally.” 

    This year, the Pottstown School District introduced a Social and Emotional Learning Curriculum in volunteer classrooms. The plan is for all class rooms to participate during the 2017-2018 school year for grades Pre-K to 9th. 

    The conversations will begin to share how the social and emotional program will benefit ALL students and allow parents the opportunity to learn what is happening in the schools and how they can use parts of the program at home while providing their own input.

    Here's a video the school district produced to tell you a little more.


    The Let’s Talk series will not only allow parents a time to talk with other parents but will allow families to enjoy a FREE meal and have opportunity to win FREE prizes while their children participate in an entertaining show. 

    FREE childcare and Spanish interpreters will be available at each school for these fun filled and informative events. The Let’s Talk conversations are FREE and available to families in the Pottstown School District and will be held at:
    • Elizabeth B. Barth Elementary March 16, 2017 5:30 to 7:30
    • Lincoln Elementary March 27, 2017 5:30 to 7:30
    • Rupert Elementary March 28, 2017 5:50 to 7:30
    • Franklin Elementary March 30, 2017 5:30 to 7:30
    The Our kids...Their Future or Let’s Talk conversations are supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania Penn Project for Civic Engagement. 

    The grant has enabled the school district to work with the community-particularly families, as well as the local agencies and community leaders who serve them to determine how the home school partnership can be strengthened, to find out what can be done to increase family participation and to improve support for ALL children’s growth and development from birth through elementary school.

    For more information and to learn more, please contact Valerie Jackson, PEAK Community Engagement Coordinator at 610-256-6370, vjackson@potstownsd.org or visit www.pottstownschools.org.

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

    "Shrek: The Musical," will be performed at Pottsgrove Middle School starting on March 16.

    Shows are Thursday, March 16, Friday, March 17 and Saturday, March 18.

    All shows begin at 7 p.m. and tickets are $8.

    For more information, call 610-326-8243.





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    Photos courtesy of Pottstown High School
    High school student Natalie James, right, gives blood during the Miller-Keystone Blood Center's Winter Blood Drive.








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

    Pottstown High School students and staff showed their willingness to give to others to help build a strong community. 

    During the annual Winter Blood Donation Drive, students and staff donated 52 units of blood which will be used in local hospitals to help save over 150 lives.

    Carol Graves, Donor Resource Representative of the Miller-Keystone Blood Center, said, “This is one of the most successful winter blood drives that the high
    High School student Emanuel Touissant signs up to
    give blood during the Miller-Keystone Winter Blood Drive
    school has conducted. High school students are responsible for contributing over 20 percent of the community’s blood supply. As our nation ages, there is an increased demand for blood. These young people have demonstrated that they are willing to take their place in our community as future leaders.”

    The drive is organized by the Pottstown High School HOSA (Health and Occupations Students of America) students, under the leadership of Michaela Johnson. 

     She said, “I am very proud of our students and staff for their willingness to give of themselves and make a donation that truly helps save the lives of many people. Our donors include students who have distinguished themselves in the classroom and co-curricular activities. They are now demonstrating their leadership and willingness to help our community. They truly are a reason for us to all say Proud to be from Pottstown.”

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    From left, the Rev. John Houghton, Anneliese Schlick,
    Angelina Patrinosto and Kim Dent, Cluster staff.
    Blogger s Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities.

    The Hill School’s annual fundraising International Food Fair was held on Jan. 26.

    This year, the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities was the beneficiary of the proceeds raised during the fair. 

    Groups of students and faculty got together and, with some seed money, prepared a table of goodies from various world culture’s represented by the student body and students paid $5 to get in, and the proceeds went to a community nonprofit—this year, the Cluster. 

    Hill School Student President, Angelina Patrinostro, and Vice President, Anneliese Schlick, were responsible for coordinating the fair and they plan to make it even bigger next year, by inviting the community.

    The students raised $564 and Reverend Dr. John Houghton provided a match gift and a check for $1,128.00 was presented to PCRC. 

    PCRC, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the basic needs of Pottstown area residents living in economic poverty, is proud to partner with The Hill School in our efforts to reduce food insecurity in the Pottstown Area.

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    If you want to get appointed to the Human Relations Commission, or the planning commission, or you want to try to make some changes to bike lanes going down your street, it's all in the timing.

    As Council Dennis Arms rightly pointed out to borough council Monday night, "we say all the time we want people to apply to boards and commissions, and then they do and we ignore them."

    He was talking about two last-minute applications for two vacant positions on the planning commission. Arms noted that although the applications were last minute, that the borough has never set a procedure or deadline for those appointments.

    "It's all just willy nilly," he said.

    Ultimately, he was halfway successful.

    Council did to adopt a new policy last night of an application needing to be made within 30 days of it being announced.

    But they did not apply this spiffy new policy to the two open positions they filled last night, one of which was to re-appoint Borough Council President Dan Weand to another four-year term on the planning commission. The other seat was filled by a man whose full name I did not catch.

    A similar conversation unfolded when two people were appointed to the Human Relations Commission -- Marcia Levengood and Samantha Miller.

    Council vice President Sheryl Miller wanted a one month delay because she did not think the Human Relations Commission had a quorum when it recommended those two.

    But they did. One of the commission's five members resigned the day after they voted on the recommendation. It's really get hard to keep track.

    Finally, council spent a great deal of time on the subject of proposed bike lanes for Roland Avenue that are part of the $2 million Safe Routes to Schools project.

    At least two residents have come to council in recent months and said the lanes, and the pylons that will designate the bike lanes, are ugly and will lower the value of their property.

    Assistant Borough Manager Justin Keller said he did know about these concerns until December of 2016, but residents had voiced concerns earlier. The problem is that they were voiced to a different assistant borough manager.

    Staff and Councilman Joe Kirkland, who represents the Seventh Ward, met with the residents and they discussed changes. What no one seemed to know until Keller explained it to them Monday, is that all those changes were dependent on an OK from PennDOT.

    And PennDOT said no.

    Keller said the changes could not be made within the time frame of the grant that will help to pay for the project and, if the project were abandoned, that the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation would want the borough to return the $600,000 it paid for the design and engineering of the whole project.

    The project will affect more than just Roland Street.

    It will install bike lanes and change some roads to one-way all over the borough.

    In the end, council voted 6-3 to approve the traffic ordinance which will make the changes to the road, as well as to appoint Traffic Planning and Design as the Construction Inspection Consultant for the project -- both PennDOT requirements.

    Timing truly is everything.

    Otherwise, here are the Tweets.


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    Photo Courtesy of the Pottstown School District
    From left, Bernie Gallager, Darius Smallwood and Middle School Football and Basketball coach Levert Hughes.
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.

    Congratulations to Pottstown Middle School student, Darius Smallwood on being named this year's recipient of the 2017 PCTV Career Shadow Award.

    PCTV Sports broadcaster, Bernie Gallagher explained the criteria for the award.

    "The primary focus of the award is to introduce a young student to the arena of sports broadcasting. They must display a positive attitude, have good grades and be involved in the community."

    Darius was an integral member of The Pottstown Middle School 8th grade Football and Basketball teams and he shadowed Gallagher as he prepared for the Pioneeer Athletic Conference basketball playoffs.

    He was very helpful in preparing and analyzing statistics used on the pregame shows. Gallagher further explained "Darius is a terrific young man who always has a smile on his face, is humble and is always willing to help others." Another reason to say Proud to be from Pottstown.

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    You may soon be able to buy beer and wine at the Giant Supermarket in Upland Square.

    Last night the West Pottsgrove Township Commissioners were informed that the application has been made and that a public hearing will be held at the start of the April 5 commissioner's meeting.

    Township Solicitor Joseph Bresnan Giant "has been very aggressive" in pursuing liquor licenses since it was legalized last year.

    Last month, Giant received permission to sell beer and wine at a store in Phoenixville.

    He said the company plans to have a restaurant inside the supermarket that will serve beer, and to sell beer and wine for take-out.

    "Basically, they're trying to copy Wegman's," he said of the large supermarket in Upper Providence off Route 29.

    Because the state has control over liquor licenses and parcels them out, they often can only be transferred from one entity to another, although ones that fall dormant are called "zombie licenses."

    It is not clear which kind Giant is pursuing for Upland Square, but I will try to find out.

    Also of interest last night was some clarity on the situation with the West End Fire Co.

    Fire Company President Lori Eckman, who is also a lieutenant in the fire police, said the bar room at the firehouse closed last August because it was no longer profitable.

    The fire company's operating budget is about $62,000 a year and that money will now have to be collected through fundraisers, said Township Manager Craig Lloyd.

    There are between 30 and 35 active members currently and the finances of the company are currently being sorted out and consolidated.

    Lloyd said several years ago, the township helped with the purchase of a new fire truck, and so scaled back on its annual contribution to the fire company.

    Lloyd says the township also helps by paying for the fire company's worker compensation and liability insurance.

    West Pottsgrove has no designated fire tax and so the amount and level with which the township gets involved in the fire company's finances is at the discretion of the township commissioners each year, Lloyd said.

    More recently, it paid for the purchase of about $12,000 worth of hose and is involved in the purchase of new air-pacs which will ultimately cost as much as $125,000.

    The township has offered to make the first year's payments, although that amount is not yet settled because the length of the payment plan has not been decided and the payments are related to the length of the plan.

    That is why "discuss fire company payments" continues to appear on the commissioners agenda in the past few months.

    The commissioners agree to consult with the fire company leadership about which payments they would prefer to take on before making a decision.


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

    The Pottstown Historical Society will host a presentation on "The History of Political Parties in the U.S.," presented by Patricia Norred Derr, PhD, associate professor of history at Kutztown University, on Monday, March 20 at 7 p.m.

    The historical society is located at 568 High St. in Pottstown and the program is free and open to the public.

    According to a press release sent by the society, Derr "is a highly-regarded instructor in courses on American colonial history, religion, American popular culture, African American history, and historical methodology."
    Pottstown Historical Society
    568 E. High St., Pottstown.

    A transplanted Texan, Derr received her BA from the University of Texas at Austin, her MA in European History from the University of North Texas, and her PhD in American History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She was the recipient of a Fulbright Research Award, and has participated in numerous public panels and programs.

    Derr is the newest member of the Board of Directors of the Pottstown Historical Society, and also serves on the Pottstown Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB).

    As political rhetoric continues to blow white hot in the United States, "it’s a perfect time to look back on the historical origins of political parties in the United States. Where do political parties come from? When did we get them? Why do we even have them? What is the difference between a party and a faction? And what’s with those names?" the release noted. 

    Parties covered will include: Federalists, Jeffersonians, Jacksonians, Freedmen, Republicans, Democrats, Whigs, Libertarians, Free Soilers, Know-Nothings, Bourbons, Redeemers, Copperheads, Progressives, Populists, Reformists, Socialists, Communists, Liberals, Conservatives, Left, Right, Blue-Dogs, Green Party and Constitution Party.

    Non-partisan, light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the program. 

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    The newly formed chapter of the Pottstown NAACP will hold an inaugural luncheon on Saturday, April 1 at SunnyBrook Ballroom in Lower Pottsgrove.

    The Hon. Garret D. Page, will be the keynote speakers.

    The luncheon has several purposes, one of which is to introduce the new officers of Unit 2288.

    Another is to announce upcoming Pottstown NAACP initiatives.

    Another is to honor the perseverance of people of color in history with an emphasis on "Black History Celebration Continued; until the accomplishments and contributions of people of color are achknowledged every day, history is complete."

    The luncheon will take place from 12 to 3 p.m. and the cost of tickets is $25. Sponsorships or advertisements can be obtained for $10, $50 or $100. For information on that, email pottstownnnaacp.2288@gmail.com or call 610-724-7584 or 610-220-1067.

    The local chapter of the NAACP is "continuing to work towards ensuring the political, educational, social and economic equality of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination," according to the release.  "Every day, we are reminded that the mission and work of the NAACP is more relevant than ever."

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    The Pottstown Human Relations Commission and Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos will conduct a forum on immigration issues on Wednesday, March 22 at First Baptist Church, 391 King St.

    CCLU has offices in the basement of the church, located on the northeast corner of King and Charlotte streets.

    Borough Councilwoman Rita Paez announced the forum at the last council meeting.

    She said it will address the impact changes in immigration policies proposed by President Donald Trump will have on local immigrants.




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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    The Pottstown High School Wrestling Team is congratulated by the school board for being the champions of the frontier division of the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
    Monday night's school board meeting, clock in at 32 minutes, may have set a record.

    After congratulating those Pottstown High School Trojan wrestlers for winning the Frontier Division championship of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, things moved along at a quick pace.

    A presentation by the guidance office revealed that already by March, 6, 65 percent of the Class of 2017 has been accepted into a two-year, four-year or technical post graduate institution, or the military.

    "Sixty-five percent accepted in March is an awesome number," said Acting
    Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez.

    He said it is a sign that "the culture in this school is shifting and it's obvious students in this school are getting excited by continuing their education." 

    The board also endorsed a suggestion from board member Thomas Hylton that Save Our Lands, Save Our Towns, a non-profit with which he is affiliated be supported in pursuing a grant to turn the large lawn at the former Edgewood Elementary School into a natural meadow, planted with wildflowers, to help support declining bee populations.

    And Rodriguez also offered an interesting piece of news. 

    He said according to information from Drexel University's Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation, the median property price in Pottstown rose from by 16 percent last year from $128,000 in 2015 to $161,000 in 2016.

    Rodriguez also said according to Realtor Matt Green, there has been a 19 percent increase in total home sales in 2017.

    "I think that is evidence that Pottstown is finally turning the corner," said Rodriguez.

    Here are the Tweets from a very short meeting.


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    Photos by Evan Brandt
    The Pottstown Borough Authority decided Tuesday night to replace its current 10-year-old sludge dryer with this new, more efficient system.

    The Pottstown Borough Authority Tuesday night voted unanimously to move forward with a $3.7 million project to replace the maintenance-plagued dryer at the sewer treatment plant and replace it with a new type of dryer.

    The new system, a pressure differential dryer, has fewer moving parts and so is easier to maintain, is more energy efficient and will allow the plant to process 20 percent more sludge than it currently does, Authority Engineer Tom Weld told the board members before the vote.
    W. Tid Griffin, president and CEO of Owensboro,
    Ken.-based Gryphon Environmental LLC,
    holds two jars of processed sludge. In his right
    hand is the powder produced by the current sludge
    dryer at the Pottstown Wastewater Treatment
    Facility. In his left are the pellets left over from
    his pressure differential dryer, which cuts down
    on odor and is preferred by farmers.

    The annual operational savings of nearly $700,000 over the current system means it will pay for itself within six years, he said.

    "The thing practically pays for itself, it's really a no brainer," Utilities
    Administrator Robert Plenderleith said as the presentation wrapped up.

    The current dryer system, manufactured by Komline Sanderson, was purchased in 2007 for $6.7 million and was one of only three options on the market at the time, said Weld.

    Since it was installed it has allowed the plant to produce a high-quality end product that can be used by farmers as fertilizer, or as fill. Most importantly, it does not have to buried in a landfill, a proposition that cost millions.

    But the plant has been plagued with maintenance problems, forcing it to be shut down for days, meaning the plant's end-product had to be landfilled during the colder months when the dryer was off-line.

    Since 2008, maintenance costs have added up to more than $2.5 million, in addition to another $5 million in hauling costs and the addition natural gas costs of $1.7 million, said Weld.
    The current dryer building at the Pottstown Sewer Plant
    will have to be expanded to accommodate the Gryphon dryer.

    According to the average over the last three years, keeping the current dryer would mean an additional $270,000 a year in maintenance costs, compared to Gryphon's estimated $70,000 a year.

    With maintenance estimates adding up to another $4.2 million by 2020 for the current system, Weld said it was time to explore other options.

    The borough team looked at five other types of sludge dryers and settled on the one manufactured by Gryphon for the reasons stated above.

    Overall, the Gryphon system is estimated to save the authority about $670,000 a year, said Weld. The authority also approved a motion to begin seeking the necessary state permits as well as a tentative timeline which has the system coming on-line in October of 2018.

    The current borough dryer produces dust, seen on the left,
    as an end product. The Gryphon product is pellets, right.
    That does not include the increased marketability of the end product which, unlike the dust currently produced, comes in pellet form, which farmers prefer because it is easier to distribute and cuts down on odors. As an added bonus, the new system is also expected to cut down on odor complaints at the sewer plant, said Utilities Manager Brent Wagner.

    In addition to taking out the old dryer, the current building must be expanded to accommodate the Gryphon system and the work timed so that when the current dryer is off-line and being disassembled, the class B product the plant produces without the dryer can be land-applied as fertilizer, which is much cheaper than sending it to a landfill.
    Griffin explains how his system works during
    Tuesday night's Borough Authority Meeting

    The longer timeline also allows the three townships which also send their sewage to the plant -- Lower Pottsgrove, Upper Pottsgrove and West Pottsgrove -- time to plan to pay their share.

    According to a spreadsheet put together by the authority staff, Pottstown ratepayers will pay 59.67 percent of the total cost or $2.2 million.

    Lower Pottsgrove, the next largest user, would pay 26.28 percent or $975,000. West Pottsgrove would cover 10.26 percent of the cost or about $380,000 and Upper Pottsgrove just 3.8 percent, or about $140,000.

    The approval was not the only thing that happened at the meeting last night. Here are the Tweets about the rest.


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    Photo by Evan Brandt
    From left, Audrey L. Allen, head of Audrey L. Allen Immigration Law LLC in Conshohocken, Lance M. Malcolm, an attorney with Prince Law Office in Bechtelsville, and Gonzolo Peralta, also of Allen's law firm, discussed immigration law and the current political climate during a forum organized by Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos in the basement of First Baptist Church in Pottstown Wednesday.


    Rita Paez is talking to a lot of worried people these days.

    A borough councilwoman and member of the Pottstown Human Relations Commission, Paez is also the founder and head of Centro Cultural Latinos Unidos or CCLU as it is more commonly known.

    An Hispanic cultural organization, CCLU is also frequently a voice for Pottstown's Hispanics, who comprise about 18 percent of the borough's population according to 2015 Census estimates.

    But perhaps Paez is best known in Pottstown as a person who helps Spanish speakers in the community connect to the services they need and lately, she has been directing a lot of them to Audrey Allen, whose Conshohocken law firm specializes in immigration law.

    The sign hung outside CCLU's offices in the basement of 
    First Baptist Church.
    "People are coming to me much more worried," said Paez. "One poor lady she had to go to the hospital she was so worried. A lot of people are telling me they want to go to Canada."

    What they are worried about is the emphasis newly elected President Donald Trump has put on stopping illegal immigration, deporting those who are here illegally and the executive orders he has implemented to accomplish those goals.

    So Paez decided it was time to share some expertise and invited Allen, her colleague Gonzolo Peralta and Lance Malcolm, who is an associated with Prince Law Offices in Bechtelsville, to a forum on the latest issues in Immigration.

    Their advice Wednesday night to the approximately 30 people who showed up at the CCLU offices in the basement of First Baptist Church?

    "Keep calm."

    "These are uncertain times that have been made more uncertain by the new administration," said Malcolm. "It's important not to respond in fear. We can't respond to the politics of fear by being fearful ourselves."

    "I recognize that these are tough times for a lot of people and they may have become disheartened in the last few months," Allen said.

    "The vast majority of immigrants are not being affected right now. Even if you are undocumented, here in America, all human beings have rights," she said. "Keep calm."

    Allen reminded the audience that among those rights, is the right to keep silent.

    "Remember, you do not need to answer questions. You should say clearly that you invoke your right to remain silent and to make your phone call," she said, adding that rather than rely on their phones, a card with the attorney's number should be "carried in your pocket."
    The card Paez handed out has the same text in Spanish
    on the other side.

    In fact, to emphasize the point, Paez handed out cards immigrants should carry in their pockets to hand out, English on one side and Spanish on the other.

    Allen further emphasized "do not sign anything without talking to a lawyer first. Don't sign your rights away."

    She also advised immigrants not to answer the door when the government comes knocking. "Ask them to slip the warrant under the door," she said. "If you open the door and there are undocumented immigrants inside, they can be detained."

    In terms of police involvement, Malcolm informed the group that there is no formal cooperation agreement between any police agency in Pennsylvania and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, often referred to as ICE.

    So without a warrant, local or even state police cannot be compelled to cooperate with an ICE raid or, more importantly, pick up a suspect and detain them for ICE.

    Also at the forum, although he did not intend to be a speaker, was Pottstown Police Sgt. Ed Kropp Jr., who was asked by Paez to say a few words.

    He said the borough department has no written policy regarding immigration enforcement. "It's not our job to go door to door unless there is a warrant," said Kropp, who added that there has been no change in that condition since Trump took office.

    There has also been no perceptible change in the level of cooperation police are receiving from Hispanic residents or in their behavior from a police standpoint, he said.

    "In fact, obviously I watch the news and I know what's going on in the country, but if I lived in a vacuum and just came to work every day and did what I always do, I wouldn't be able to tell anything had changed," Kropp said.

    "The police in the have been very good about this," said Paez, noting that they
    Rita Paez inside the CCLU offices.
    often call her when they need to get into contact with Spanish speaking residents.

    Allen advised undocumented drivers to be particularly careful "and not do anything that will get you pulled over."

    But sometimes, being detained is unavoidable and when it it is, it is best to be prepared, the lawyers said.

    And while Allen said schools are generally considered off-limits as places for ICE agents to conduct raids, Malcolm said it is a good idea to have custody papers drawn up for children as a precaution if parents detained.

    "A lot of people are trying to use power of attorney and that won't work in Pennsylvania," he said.

    He said that immigrants who are a victim of a crime, or who can show they have been abused by a spouse, often have some leverage in immigration matters. "It does not have to be physical, it can be emotional abuse, like a spouse restricting or controlling access to a green card."

    "If you have been here more than 10 years and have children who were born here, there might be a way to get you a green card," said Allen.

    As far as what may change under Trump's executive orders, which Malcolm described as "a parade of horribles," he noted that the impact they will have is unclear.

    "They are so badly written, perhaps intentionally, they give no specific direction and are vague and ambiguous," which may make them difficult to enforce," Malcolm said. "We're just going to have to wait and see. In the meantime, people should continue to live their lives."

    One thing that is recently evident, said Peralta, is the number of phone calls his office is receiving from people asking about detentions.

    "There has been a marked increase," he said, noting that the increase is no larger than some of the raids conducted under the Obama administration.

    "President Obama deported more people than any other president in history, and they came in waves and troughs," he said. "We're just waiting to see if it will be the same under Trump."

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    Nancy March
    Blogger's Note:The following was provided by the Salvation Army of Pottstown.

    The Salvation Army of Pottstown has officially launched Pottstown Works, a program aimed to combat poverty and boost economic development by connecting the unemployed and under-employed with job opportunities. 

    The Salvation Army has appointed Nancy March as Program Director. She will work under the direction of Wendy Egolf in establishing the program to teach job readiness skills to the unemployed and partner with businesses to meet workforce needs. 

    The announcement was made by Major Frederick Clarke, Co-Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army of Pottstown. March is the former editor of The Mercury and also serves as an adjunct instructor at Reading Area Community College. 

    She will direct the Job Readiness Workshop classes and business partnerships of the program, as well as community outreach.

    “We are thrilled to have someone of Nancy’s experience in community leadership take on this program,” said said Wendy Egolf, Director of Housing Programs, The Salvation Army of Pottstown., who has been involved with a team of core volunteers in the startup. “This is an ambitious undertaking, but we’re confident that we are bringing something that is needed in Pottstown. 

    Pottstown Works is now partnering with local businesses and non-profit agencies with a goal of training its first class of participants this summer.

    The program is modeled after Cincinnati Works, which has helped thousands of people find and keep jobs. Its success is being implemented in cities and towns throughout the U.S. with Pottstown as the first project in Pennsylvania, according to Dave Phillips, co-founder of Cincinnati Works. 

    The program model is unique in its partnerships with businesses, providing coaching to members and getting feedback from employers during their first months in a job to reduce conflict and turnover. As a result, Cincinnati Works has achieved an 85-percent job retention rate for its members after one year and a dramatic reduced turnover rate for businesses hiring entry-level employees.

    “Everyone talks about jobs – we’re trying to do something about it, helping people find and keep jobs that will lift up their families and the overall community,” Egolf said.

    Your can read more about Pottstown Works here and here.

    The Salvation Army of Pottstown serves thousands of individuals and families each year through a multitude of programs and services. 

    These include: The Lessig-Booth Family Residence, Transitional Housing Program, Pottstown Works job training, holiday assistance, character building for youth and adults, and Pathway of Hope, a new intensive case-management initiative to help motivated families achieve self-sufficiency.

    The Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware is a faith-based, comprehensive human service organization whose programs help individuals, families and whole communities lead healthier, safer and more productive lives. Since 1879, 

    The Army has held a record of accomplishment stemming from its holistic approach to providing for the needs of the whole individual – physically, emotionally, economically and spiritually. The Army’s programming serves every zip code through 51 community centers and a network of volunteers throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Delaware. Programs and services include: shelter, hot meals, counseling, early childhood development, recreational opportunities, music programs, after-school arts and educational programs, job training, activities for older adults, spiritual development, and drug rehabilitation.

    Mission Statement: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

    For more information, visit www.SalvationArmyPottstown.org or www.SalvationArmyPendel.org