Pottstown Needs Cooperation And Coordination To Be Successful

While Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manger, was talking about PAID and the future of Pottstown he mentioned two words - cooperation and coordination.  I have pondered the importance of these two words in relationship to Pottstown since Thursday’s meeting.  If I am being honest, we need to work harder at cooperation and coordination if we want Pottstown to “be all it can be’.  It is a big job and will need the hard work of many people to make sure it happens.

No one group can successfully turn Pottstown around.  It will take coordination and cooperation from elected leaders, citizens, the Pottstown School District, Montgomery County, business, industry, bloggers, print and online media and entities like PAID.  We can not expect the new Executive Director to come in and wave his or her magic wand and fix 40 years worth of problems (unless we hire Merlin).  

The new structure of PAID should be the model we use moving forward. We need a good cross-section of people, possessing a variety of skill sets and talents, working together for the betterment of our community.  The coordination of efforts, a unified voice, mutual respect/cooperation, a positive attitude and the sincere belief that Pottstown can be transformed into something even better than it was during its industrial heyday are essential if we expect to be successful.

I leave you with the definition of cooperation and coordination for your consideration.  Going forward, we should ask ourselves if our efforts are coordinated with the efforts of others and if we are working in the spirit of cooperation for Pottstown’s greater good.

co·op·er·a·tion

1.  an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action.

2.  more or less active assistance from a person, organization, etc.: We sought the cooperation of various civic leaders.

3.  willingness to cooperate: to indicate cooperation.

4.  Economics.   the combination of persons for purposes of production, purchase, or distribution for their joint benefit: producers’ cooperation; consumers’ cooperation.

5.  Sociology.   activity shared for mutual benefit.

co·or·di·na·tion

1.  the act or state of coordinating or of being coordinated.

2.  proper order or relationship.  

3.  harmonious combination or interaction, as of functions or parts.

Definitions from: Dictionary.com

First Copper Thieves, Now Bronze Thieves!

When will it end?  Two Pottstown borough men are in the Montgomery County jail after being arrested Wednesday for stealing 200 bronze flower vases from Highland Memorial Cemetery.  You read that correctly, a cemetery!  These two upstanding citizens were stealing from the dead.  They were taking their ill-gotten gain to a Philadelphia scrap yard to sell.  The vases were valued at more than $20,000.  The thefts took place during March of 2011.

In the not too distant past borough churches were stripped of copper gutters and spouting by thieves.  It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to in trying to make a fast buck.

Two Roy’s Rants thumbs down to these alleged criminals.  Thrown the book at them!

Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc.’s (PAID) Public Meeting

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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Tonight, in the Hill School library, PAID’s new governing body was introduced to the public.  Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager and PAID’s first President ran the meeting.

Basically, most of the meeting was taken up with revisiting what has gone on in the past and talking about where we find ourselves today.  Dr. Lindley introduced each board member and gave bullet points about their resume.  There are familiar faces and new faces on the 13 member board.  The skill sets of the new board are very impressive and should lend themselves to the task at hand; making sure Pottstown has a bright future and realizes its potential.

The big news was about the new Executive Director search.  This person will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of PAID and will become the central point of contact for economic development in Pottstown. 

I was relieved to learn that an extensive national search is being conducted.  I had heard rumors that we might be recycling to fill this position.  At this juncture we need the most qualified person possible.  It would in fact be better if this person was not from “around here” and would come to Pottstown with a clean slate and fresh ideas.  It sounds like the board might feel this way also.  Jason told us the job has been posted and we are accepting resumes.

Once a “short list” of candidates emerges, there will be another public part where residents may have the opportunity to hear candidates speak about themselves and the task at hand.  I hope so!

Jason said there will be four committees within PAID that will be working on specific tasks.  It will be easier to get the smaller committees together than all 13 board members.  The committees are marketing/visioning, infrastructure, business and grants/funding.  PAID will also be looking for a long-term funding source to make sure the organization is self-sufficient.

We currently have a consultant who is working with PAID until the new Director is hired.  We are not fiddling while Rome burns. 

A new spirit of cooperation and coordination will hopefully develop from this venture.  Pottstown is looking to work with regional and state entities for economic development purposes and marketing.  It is hoped that all the factions in Pottstown can finally come together with a unity of vision and purpose.

Jason said one thing Pottstown needs to improve upon is showcasing its successes.  I totally agree with that statement.  We tend to be our own worst enemy when it comes to civic pride.  We need to market, market, market this town, put our best foot forward and smile the whole time!  We might have better luck attracting people and business if were positive about POTTSTOWN!  What a radical idea.

The meeting was opened up to questions. 

Tom Carroll (Schuylkill River Heritage Trail) stated he was concerned there was no representation from MCCC on the board.  Tom pointed out the importance of the West Campus to Pottstown and that we should leverage our relationship with MCCC to help achieve mutually beneficial successes.  It was pointed out that while MCCC is not now represented on the board, there is room to add representation from MCCC down the road.  I hope this happens!

Erika Hornburg-Cooper (Galley School) brought up the arts component in revitalization.  The board is definitely aware how important arts and culture are to revitalization, quality of life issues and attracting residents.

Another member of the audience asked about the involvement of the Pottsgroves and Coventries.  The answer is we are concentrating on the borough first and then a more regional focus will naturally evolve.  I am glad we are concentrating on Pottstown first, for once!

I realize this has taken longer to carry out than many of us were hoping, however it does sound like a great deal of planning and thought have gone into assembling a board and getting a good cross-section of community representation.  At last, the Executive Director position is being advertised.  It would seem we are now on our way.  We wish PAID much success with the task at hand.  We will be watching and reporting.

PAID will be using the 2008 Pottstown Economic Development Strategic Plan and the 2009 ULI report to set priorities.

2008 Pottstown Economic Development Strategic Plan:  http://www.pottstown.org/PDF/EconomicDevelopmentStrategicPlan.pdf

2009 ULI Report:

http://www.uli.org/CommunityBuilding/AdvisoryService/~/media/CommunityBuilding/AdvisoryServices/PowerPoints/Pottstown%20%20PA%20October%202009.ashx

Here is the job description for the Executive Director:

http://www.pottstown.org/PDF/employment/job-executive-director-2011-04-27.pdf

Casey Abrams Sent Packing On American Idol Results Night

I think the eccentricities and the “growling” were a distraction for viewers and failed to bring Casey the support he needed to go further in the competition.  I cannot say I am surprised by this as Casey is not mainstream enough to be the next American Idol.

Song choice is always important.  Casey tended to pick obscure songs that viewers could not relate to.  Of all the material from Carol King week to choose from; case in point.

Farewell Casey.  You are a talented musician and hopefully will find your niche in jazz.

American Idol Top Six Performances

Last night, the top six American Idol hopefuls pulled out all the stops.  While some performances were better than others, all were very good.  I loved the Carol King night theme!

Randy said James was “in it to win it” and went as far as saying he thinks James might be the next American Idol.  James’ performance was excellent as always.  Jennifer praised James for his consistency, week after week.  Consistency is the name of the game.  James also has a great knack for song selection.  He always picks songs that emphasis his considerable talent.  It was the stand out performance of the night.

Sadly, someone will go home this evening.  However, it will not be for lack of effort on anyone’s part.  We congratulate all six contestants for an evening of great performances.

Let’s Talk – Pottstown Community Meeting On April 28th

Genesis Housing Corporation, a 501(c)3  non-profit corporation, will hold a Community Meeting on Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. at the Ricketts Center, 640 Beech Street, Pottstown, PA 19464.  Community members will be asked for their ideas for a new mural at the Chestnut Street Park and to help to set priorities and develop future projects.  An update on Washington Street neighborhood projects including the new community garden will be discussed.  Information on the Science in the Park event and other upcoming events will be provided.  Community concerns about this area and other sections of the Pottstown will be explored with the hope of setting priorities for future projects.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the proposed mural in the Washington St. neighborhood will speak volumes on the tenacity and determination driving the revitalization of Pottstown.  Genesis Housing Corporation, The Gallery on High and Citizens for Pottstown’s Revitalization are in collaboration to develop a mural at the park located at Washington and Chestnut Streets.  The artistic coordinators, Cathy Paretti and Erika Hornburg-Cooper of the Gallery on High have selected Robert Louis Williams, an accomplished local artist to design and create the proposed park mural.  Let’s talk about the different types of murals and what this mural should look like – this is the chance for your input.

Judith Memberg, Executive Director of Genesis Housing Corporation, will provide an update on their Washington Street neighborhood housing developments including the rehabilitation of vacant properties for new home buyers and the homeowner rehab programs.  Information about the Pottstown Homeowner Rehab Program will be provided.

Genesis Housing Corporation serves Montgomery County as a non-profit community development organization and is dedicated to the development of affordable housing and to the education of consumers on housing and financial issues.  Genesis Housing Corporation has worked with government agencies, other non-profit agencies and private housing developers to create affordable housing.  Genesis Housing Corporation is certified for counseling for FannieMae, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), PA Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and many banks and local government programs.

For more information, visit our website at http://www.genesishousing.org or call 610-275-4357.

Exxon Reaps Record Setting Profits For First Quarter

Container of Gasoline

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This is a big part of the problem with the economy.  Companies like Exxon are profiting on the backs of our economic recovery.  High gas prices have increased the cost of most items and taken a huge chunk out of the average American’s discretionary income.  Discretionary income is what American’s have to spend after paying taxes and bills.  Less discretionary income means people shop less, eat out less, take fewer trips, and cut back overall to close the ever-widening gap caused by rising gasoline prices.

So Exxon comes along and announces they made almost $11 billion dollars in profits for the first quarter after we just learned that economic growth was stunted, in part, from high gas prices.  I am not advocating a departure from capitalism, however in light of the recent economic downturn; maybe these behemoth companies might make a little less profit so the economy can recover!

What I find hysterical is that Exxon officials know this news will “P-O” the public and are wondering how to “spin” the negative effects of their greed.  You deserve all the negative publicity you get!

Economic Growth Slowed In First Quarter

Container of Gasoline

Image via Wikipedia

High gas prices, bad weather, the housing slump and a myriad of other problems kept economic growth at bay for the first quarter of 2011.  The U.S. economy only grew by 1.8% during the first quarter of 2011 as opposed to a growth rate around 3% for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Experts say this is “temporary” and we should expect to see economic growth at 3% for the rest of the year.  Experts are also saying gas prices should stabilize, but gas prices have gone up .30 cents since the end of the first quarter.  The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.88 as of today.

What can we do?  Cut back unnecessary spending and hope for the best.

I can say from personal experience, at least around Pottstown, that people were out in force shopping for Easter.  Shopping centers, malls, grocery stores and restaurants benefitted from the spring holiday.  One local store said their sales were at Christmas levels over the Easter weekend.

Pottstown Area Industrial Development (PAID) Meeting, Thursday, April 28th

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

If you have followed the transition of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development  (PAID) organization into the borough’s economic development engine then you should attend a public meeting at the Hill School Library, Thursday, April 28th at 6 p.m.  The new board of directors will be introduced.

This is an important vehicle that will hopefully enable Pottstown to speak with a unified voice when presenting economic development goals and strategies.  Having a consensus will help the borough receive grant money for projects.

Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager, will be the first President of the Board of Directors.  The office of president will rotate every year between the borough, the school district and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.

The first year is crucial because the new Executive Director will be hired.  This person will be the point of contact and run the day-to-day operations of PAID.

The ULI recommendations will be used as a blue print for economic development by PAID’s Executive Director and the Board of Directors.

Harrisburg’s Cultural Enrichment Fund (CEF) Exceeds Fundraising Goal

Recreation of the flag of the city of Harrisbu...

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The Cultural Enrichment Fund (CEF) gives money to many worthy Central Pennsylvania arts and cultural groups.  This year the CEF saw an increase in fundraising donations to the tune of $15,000.  The group exceeded its $500,000 goal.  This was the first time in several years that the CEF was able to exceed their fundraising goal.

The top recipients are:

Harrisburg Symphony – $77,008

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet – $45,903

Whitaker Center- $29,252

Open Stage of Harrisburg- $19,647

Theatre of Harrisburg – $19,609

Susquehanna Art Museum- $18,760

Thirteen groups will receive funding this year.

Jobless Rate Continues To Fall

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has released the jobless rate for March 2011.  There is good news all around.

York County‘s unemployment rate fell to 7.2%, down from 7.6% in February.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8%, down from 8.0% in February

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.8% , down from 8.9% in February.

Pennsylvania’s jobless rate is an entire point below the national average and York County is .6% less than the state average.

Lansdale Slated For Entertainment Centers

Era Hotel Bahau's bowling alley

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Lansdale Borough may be the new home of two proposed bowling alley/entertainment centers in the near future, if all goes well.  Lansdale Borough had a bowling alley as recently as four years ago but now there are none.  At one point in time the borough had two bowling alleys.

The Super Foodtown grocery store closed Saturday after trying for two years to build a sufficient customer base in Lansdale.  Now the empty store may become an entertainment center.  The 35,000 square foot space will hopefully be under renovation in few weeks, with a tentative opening date in September.  The entertainment center will feature a bar, restaurant, bowling alley and party rooms.  Customers can expect a family oriented establishment with affordable entertainment.  Super Foodtown was located in the Pavilion Shopping Center on South Broad Street.

The former Super Fresh grocery store, in the Hilltown Shopping Center on Main Street, will also be turned into a bowling alley/entertainment center.  The center will feature a bar, restaurant, VIP alleys and big screen televisions.  The tentative title for this new business is King Pinz Family Entertainment Center.

Cinco de Mayo Networking Event

Thursday, May 5, 2011 from 7pm to 9pm

Atria Woodbridge Place, 1191 Rapps Dam Rd., Kimberton

Join TCN for drinks, hors d’oeuvres and networking at a fundraising event

Sponsored by Atria Woodbridge Place and ManorCare Health Services.

Music provided by High Street Music Company.

$25 for TCN Members*

$35 for Non-Members

*$20 for TCN Members who pay by April 29th.

Payment must be received by April 29th for discount.

For more information or to purchase tickets call 610-705-3301, Ext. 2. 

Partnering to improve health, social and environmental conditions.

TriCounty Community Network

260 High Street, Pottstown, PA  19464
www.TCNetwork.org

Community Summit to Reduce Youth Substance Abuse‏

Announcement from the Greater North Penn Collaborative . . . 

6th Annual Community Summit, “Unleashing the Power of Community to Reduce Youth Substance Abuse.”

The Summit will be held on May 3 at Branch Creek Community Church, 100 Main St.,  Harleysville, PA  19438, from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm.

We have an exciting line-up of speakers from the national stage to our local experts.

You can register online at http://www.npcollab.org/content/99-Registration.php.

TriCounty Community Network Supports Drug Enforcement Administration National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The seal of the United States Drug Enforcement...

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Pottstown, Pa. (April 26, 2011) – TriCounty Community Network (TCN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health, social and environmental conditions in Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, today announced its support of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative on April 30 to help protect youth and the environment from the negative potential impacts of unused prescription drugs.

Casey Jones, a member of TCN’s Education & Advocacy Team and the C.A.R.E. committee, said the organization is promoting to its members and their communities participation in this important program, which provides the opportunity for free, safe disposal of unused prescription drugs that often are found in home medicine cabinets.

No-questions-asked Take Back Day collection sites will be open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at several area community locations, including designated supermarkets, under jurisdiction of participating police departments.

        Collection sites within the Greater Pottstown area include:

Pottstown – Giant Markets, 86 Glocker Way, Pottstown (North CoventryPolice) and Lower Pottsgrove Police Department,2199 Buchert Road.

Douglassville -Amity Township Police, 2004 Weavertown Road.

Gilbertsville - Giant Markets, 173 Holly Road(Douglass Township Police).

Phoenixville – Police Department, 140 Church Street, and Giant Markets at 700 Nutt Road.

Schwenksville -Pennsylvania State Police – Skippack Barracks, 2047-C Bridge Road.

Zieglerville -Lower Frederick Township Police, 53 Spring Mount Road.

Oaks -Upper Providence Township Police, 286 Black Rock Road.

Individuals may also drop off prescription drugs at other locations found at the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back website at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.

Jones, who undertakes community outreach as a Transformation Initiative for Building Healthy Communities Through Healthy Families, said the national collection program complements a significant number of TCN’s own collaborative initiatives in the areas of health, education, environmental awareness, youth and family development, assistance to caregivers and homelessness.

“Prescription drugs are becoming a new drug of choice for youth,” he said, noting that national survey results from the DEA found one in seven teens admitting to abusing prescription drugs to get high during the past year, with 60 percent of teens who have abused prescription pain relievers having done so before the age of 15.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned that unused prescriptions, poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet, may enter streams and rivers and, ultimately, end up in municipal water supplies.

In addition to promoting proper disposal of unused prescription drugs, TCN is seeking to educate the public, including children, about the dangers associated with un-prescribed use of medicines.  It will be providing posters and other materials to its members and others for distribution to and education of individuals, employees and clients.

Members of the public that also would like to promote this activity with posters or handbills, that also can be used as church bulletin inserts, may obtain them from TCN at info@tcnetwork.org.

Additional information about the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day initiative, along with the searchable database of collection sites in neighboring areas, is available at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.

About TriCounty Community Network                 

TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, S.A.F.E. (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, call 610-705-3301 or visit www.tcnetwork.org.

Ciao Stefano…American Idol Results

Katy Perry at The Warped Tour '08

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52 million Americans voted and Stefano went home tonight, but not without singing his heart out!

I think James Durban will temporarily lose his best friend.  However, Stefano will be on tour this summer and if he plays his cards right could have a music career. 

David Cook and Katy Perry provided musical entertainment tonight.  Katy Perry’s number was a huge production of her new song ET with Kanye West.  David Cook is looking well and sang the first single off his new album.

Next week the top six sing Carol King songs!!!  Can’t wait for that!

Jacob and Haley were also in the bottom three.  I am guessing one of them will go home next week.

Lancaster Mayor’s Office Of Special Events (MOOSE) Addresses Lansdale Economic Development Committee

The Lancaster Mayor’s office has a Special Events division.  Their mission is to “host, create and produce special events for the City of Lancaster, promote and market them, and act as a resource to others planning special events”.  MOOSE exists to create excitement and enthusiasm about Lancaster City.

Lancaster hosts seven yearly events for its citizens and visitors, which are a joint effort between MOOSE and the James Street Improvement District.  Lancaster successfully turned around their downtown by identifying an Improvement District and then expanding it.  Lansdale’s goal was to learn from Lancaster’s successes and adapt them to fit Lansdale.

(HINT) Since these people take their show on the road, Pottstown should invite them here and see what they have to say.  Lancaster’s vibrant downtown is the envy of most cities and towns in this state!

MOOSE’s staff:

Jennifer Baker, Director, jbaker@cityoflancasterpa.com
Valerie Paige, Special Events Manager, vpaige@cityoflancasterpa.com

Mayor’s Office of Special Events

120 North Duke Street

Lancaster, PA 17608-1599

(717) 291-4758

MOOSE website:  http://www.lancastercityevents.com/index.html

Lansdale Mayor Blasts Council/Manager Over Reprimand

Location of Lansdale in Montgomery County

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The Mayor of Lansdale, Andy Szekely, has published a lengthy letter in today’s Lansdale Reporter outlining what he is claiming to be an improper reprimand given to him by Lansdale Borough Council and Lansdale’s Borough Manager.

The crux of the disagreement is over the Lansdale Performing Arts Center which the mayor feels should be funded privately and the Council is funding with taxpayer money.  The mayor made public some details about coding for the performing arts center that were discussed in Executive Session.  According to the mayor, this discussion violated the Sunshine Law plus there is no code on the borough books authorizing Lansdale Borough Council to reprimand the mayor.

When presented with the written reprimand, the mayor was told there would be “consequences” if he failed to sign the document.  Whoo! 

You can read the mayor’s letter here:

http://thereporteronline.com/articles/2011/04/21/opinion/doc4daf56ae668da460052550.txt?viewmode=fullstory