20 Pennsylvania Counties Could Receive Human Service Block Grants

HARRISBURG, PA As many as 20 counties could receive human service funding in block grants under a proposal that cleared the Senate Friday, delivering a portion of a change pushed by the Corbett administration.

Counties participating in the pilot program would have more discretion in how they spend state money for programs including child welfare, drug treatment and homeless assistance. The welfare legislation resolved another subject of budgetary dispute by postponing the end of the state-funded cash assistance program for one month.

Gov. Tom Corbett had championed the use of block grants for county welfare programs, saying that combining the payments would give counties more flexibility to target local needs. In February, he proposed replacing seven budget lines with block grants for all counties.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/20-counties-could-receive-human-service-block-grants-642601/#ixzz1zHgQ1yut

Pittsburgh Port Authority Bus, Rail Fare Increases Take Effect Sunday

The cost of a bus or rail ride will increase Sunday.

Increases approved by the Port Authority board include 25 cents in the Zone 1 fare, to $2.50; 50 cents in the Zone 2 fare, to $3.75; and commensurate rises in the cost of weekly and monthly passes and 10-ticket strips. Riders can use old tickets but must pay the difference in cash.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/port-authority-bus-rail-fare-increases-take-effect-today-642668/#ixzz1zHf99Wi6

Extra Money For Distressed Schools Proposed In Bill

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sixteen financially distressed school districts across Pennsylvania, including the Reading School District, could soon be getting a bit of extra help.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a school funding bill Friday that includes extra money for school districts facing financial disasters.

The bill was expected to be considered by the full Senate today. If approved, it would mean an extra $3.7 million for Reading.

Reading is the only Berks County school that would qualify for extra funds.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396446

$59 Million Pottsgrove School District Budget Brings 2.8% Tax Hike

 

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montg...

Location of Lower Pottsgrove Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIPProperty taxes will rise by 2.8 percent in the Pottsgrove School District next year as the result of a 8-1 vote Tuesday by the Pottsgrove School Board.

The vote was the final word on the $58.9 million budget for the 2012-13 school year.

The board also voted to set a millage rate of 35.979 mills for the new fiscal year, an increase of .98 mills.

It will raise taxes by $35.98 for every $1,000 of assessed value, or about $118 for a home valued at $120,000, the district’s median assessment, Nester told The Sanatoga Post.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120629/NEWS01/120629285/-59-million-pottsgrove-budget-brings-2-8-tax-hike

MOSAIC Gallery Art Show Opens July 4th In Pottstown

Primary Colors_by_Sharon_Merkel

Pottstown, Pa - Are you an art enthusiast who is interested in supporting local artists?  Do you want to take part in Pottstown’s growing arts scene while helping to boost the local economy?  Then come and check out Pottstown’s very own MOSAIC Gallery.

Opening this 4th of July, MOSAIC presents Nurturing Hope, a show featuring area artists Sharon Merkel and Sharon McGinley.  You may know MOSAIC Community Land  Trust for bringing Pottstown its first community garden at 423 Chestnut Street, but MOSAIC also utilizes its office space at 10 S. Hanover Street as an art gallery.  This show highlights the beauty in nature and in urban spaces, much like a community garden.

Like a garden nestled into a congested city block, the spiritual paintings of Sharon McGinley contrast with the graphic urban photos of Sharon Merkel to embody the hope and vitality of an urban garden.

In her artist’s statement, photographer Sharon Merkel says of her work, “The images explore the place where man and nature meet.  I am fascinated with this intersection, the place where each affects the other.”  Her photos of urban buildings and barns often feature intersections with a brilliant sky or a lone tree.

Sharon McGinley’s paintings include bright colors, whimsy, and nature on a biblical or essential level.  “I explore the inner-connectedness of all things, the impermanence of earthly life and the joys and sorrows we experience on our journeys,” she says.

MOSAIC receives a standard 30% commission on all art sales, so a purchase not only supports these local artists, but also the community garden, arts, and affordable housing mission of MOSAIC Community Land Trust.

This show is being curated by MOSAIC summer interns Amanda Hoffman and Blake Wrigley, who spent their early years in Pottstown and graduated from Boyertown High School.  Blake is a recent graduate of Messiah College and Amanda is a senior art major there.

Nurturing Hope will run from July 4 – July 28.  All are welcome to an opening reception on Friday, July 6 from 7-9pm; food and drinks are sponsored by Lointer HOME.  The MOSAIC gallery, located at 10 S. Hanover Street in Pottstown, will be open from 10am -1 pm on July 4th during the Pottstown Homecoming Parade.  (Rain date is July 5th.) Regular gallery hours are Thursday – Saturday from 4 – 7 pm.

Chaos_by_Sharon_Merkel

McGinley_1

Sharon McGinley – 2

Pa. Senate Approves $27.7 Billion Spending Plan And Sends It To Gov. Tom Corbett

With one day left in the fiscal year, the state Senate passed by a 32-17 vote the nearly $27.7 billion state spending plan that the House passed on Thursday.

It now goes to Gov. Tom Corbett for enactment.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/06/pa_senate_approves_277_billion.html

Scranton Mayor’s Lawsuit Hearing Not Set Until August 3rd

SCRANTON, PA – The Lackawanna County Court set a hearing date more than a month away on Mayor Chris Doherty’s lawsuit to get his financial recovery plan implemented, effectively increasing pressure on the mayor and city council to resolve the issue through negotiations.

The Aug. 3 court date allows council solicitor Boyd Hughes the legally required time to respond to the city’s lawsuit, a court official said. The suit asks the court to order the mayor’s recovery plan implemented or to order a council vote on it.

But with the city running out of money, facing increasingly impatient creditors and the mayor unilaterally slashing 398 employees’ pay to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to save money, the far-off court hearing date at least temporarily dashed hopes for a quick resolution.

“It can’t wait until August,” city Councilman Bob McGoff said by telephone after the hearing. “I think what it means is that the mayor and the council president need to get together before Aug. 3.”

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/doherty-lawsuit-hearing-not-set-until-aug-3-1.1336275

Allentown School Taxes To Rise 2.6 Percent

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Questions. Motions. Votes.

Then silence swallowed the room as the audience counted and realized the Allentown School Board had rejected Russ Mayo’s first budget as superintendent in a stunning 5-4 vote Thursday.

“OK,” board President Robert E. Smith Jr. said. “Now what do we do? We need a budget. We need to do something.”

When another idea failed, the directors voted again on Mayo’s spending plan, which raises taxes 2.6 percent, or 1.3 mills, to 49.3 mills for the next school year. This time they passed it.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-schools-budget-627-20120628,0,4984180.story

Pottstown Borough Council Picks Political Newcomer For 6th Ward Seat

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:   We wish Travis Gery good luck!  You have some big shoes to fill!  We are hoping for some leadership!

POTTSTOWN, PA — Council chose new blood over previous experience Thursday night, unanimously selecting High Street resident Travis Gery to fill the sixth ward seat vacated by Jody Rhoads, who resigned just six months after running unopposed for a new four-year term.

Gery, a lawyer who has lived in town since 2003, and former council president James Smale were the only two applicants to apply for the post.

“I’m kind of disappointed that in a ward of 4,000 people, only two came forward willing to help us,” said Councilman Dan Weand, who made the motion to appoint Gery.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120629/NEWS01/120629338/pottstown-borough-council-picks-political-newcomer-for-6th-ward-seat

Tom Cruise And Katie Holmes To Divorce

Editor’s note:  Because nobody saw this coming…  Hey Katie, I think Dawson is still available!

It seems like only yesterday that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were enjoying Pittsburgh in autumn with daughter Suri, the very picture of a happy family unit while Cruise was here to film “Jack Reacher” last year.

Times have changed, and today it was announced by People magazine and other media outlets that Cruise and Holmes are getting a divorce.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/celebrities/people-tom-cruise-and-katie-holmes-to-divorce-savannah-guthrie-in-at-today-642558/#ixzz1zDD5rvQJ

Activist Invites Pottstown Council To See Poor Living Conditions In Permitted Rental

 

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We can not stress enough the importance of Mr. Toroney and his fellow Councilors taking an hour out of their day to see this in person.  This is the tip of the iceberg and we think it is HIGH TIME that Pottstown Borough Council starts walking the talk and demonstrating in a tangible way that they have some inkling of interest in the citizens they respresent!  You all could use some street cred!

Thank you to Katy Jackson for continuing to stand vigilant and taking on a job that nobody else is willing to tackle!

POTTSTOWN — It’s supposed to be a warm Saturday afternoon, how about taking in a nice open house?

Well you might find it interesting, but it seems unlikely anyone would use the word “nice” to describe it.

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, activist Katy Jackson is inviting anyone interested — and the members of borough council specifically — to come and see the conditions in which a resident of Pottstown has been living at 501 King St.

“Monday I was invited to see the living conditions that a couple have endured for several months,” Jackson wrote in her invitation to council members, which was copied to The Mercury.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120629/NEWS01/120629312/activist-invites-pottstown-council-to-see-poor-living-conditions-in-permitted-rental

Proposed 772-Unit Project Hits Washington Township Snag

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A residential development proposed for Washington Township has hit a snag because of recent changes to the water and sewer plans.

Developer Richard Mingey wants to build a 772-unit community on 225 acres just outside of Bally on the southeast side of the Route 100 and Kutztown Road intersection, extending to the west side of Schwenkfelder Road.

The problem arose at a planned residential development hearing before the township supervisors Tuesday. Attorney Amy Good objected that the plans before the board do not reflect the sewer and water service change: from municipal to on-site.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396254

Reading School Board Passes Budget 5-4

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Board closes 5 schools, lays off 231 employees, raises taxes for first time in nearly a decade!

 
By the slimmest of margins, the Reading SchoolBoard passed a 2012-13 budget Wednesday night that includes more than 200 layoffs, the closing of five schools and the district’s first tax increase in nearly a decade.The $220.5 million spending plan, as well as a 2.8 percent property tax increase, passed by a vote of 5-4.

The vote brought to an end an extremely difficult budget process, which saw the board and administrators try to close a more than $40 million gap in the budget. In the end, the gap was closed to just over $14 million, which will be filled with a large portion of the district’s reserve funds.

 
 

Pottstown Resident Stabbed In Home Invastion

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — Pottstown police released details of Tuesday night’s stabbing on Queen Street that left a Pottstown woman hospitalized, including confirmation that the woman was found lying in the street where she apparently collapsed after being stabbed, police said.

Lissette Lopez, 42, was inside her residence at 685 Queen St., watching television in her bedroom when she was assaulted shortly before 11 p.m., according to investigators.

Pottstown Detective Cpl. Barry Grimm said a police officer was in the area at the time the stabbing was reported to police and was able to make it to the scene very soon after the call came in. The incident was initially dispatched as a “possible domestic,” and responding officers found Lopez in the street having suffered from stab wounds. Grimm said Lopez’s juvenile daughter and a third party, her daughter’s friend, were outside with her.

Grimm said the woman was conscious at the scene and transported by Goodwill Ambulance to Reading Hospital and Medical Center.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120628/NEWS01/120629484/updated-more-details-of-stabbing-incident-released-%28video%29

Lancaster County’s Jobless Rate Edges Up To 6.2 Percent

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lancaster County unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.2 percent in May, the state Department of Labor & Industry reported Monday.

The increase from April’s 6.1 percent was the first uptick in the local jobless rate since August.

Despite edging higher, the Lancaster County jobless rate remained among the best in Pennsylvania.

Of the 14 metropolitan areas in the state, only State College (5.5 percent) and Lebanon (6.1 percent) fared better.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/676707_Lancaster-County-s-jobless-rate-edges-up-to-6-2-percent.html#ixzz1z2IHzaBK

Pink Slips For 18 More Reading School District Workers

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The ax has fallen on the final two groups of Reading School District employees facing layoffs as a result of the district’s budget crunch.

Eighteen more employees have received furlough notices: 12 security guards and six members of the Teamsters union, Karen B. Gokay, director of human resources, confirmed Tuesday.

The cuts are part of an effort to close a more than $40 million shortfall in the district’s $220 million 2012-13 budget.

The district announced that positions would be cut when the school board passed its tentative final budget last month.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=396180

MCCC West Campus Culinary Student Pays It Forward In Pottstown With Meals Program

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is some excellent Pottstown news! 

A culinary student at Montgomery County Community College‘s West Campus in Pottstown is doing something to help the struggling residents of Pottstown by offering a free meal to those in need!

It’s so gratifying to see young people get involved with the community!   They bring such enthusiasm and energy to the table! Many times they think of great solutions to problems because they have the ability to think outside the traditional “box”.

This young woman needs your help and here is her story -

A Pottstown local, Julia Zion, MCCC culinary student, recently reached out to the folks of Occupy Pottstown and offspring groups, to request a little help with a very cool community project she has just started.  It’s called Wednesday Night Community Meals.  This is a pretty simple, yet powerful idea, and it goes like this:

Every Wednesday through August Julia provides a meal at the little park at Washington and Chestnut Streets in Pottstown at 7 PM.  Food and drinks are brought in and served and tables and chairs need to get to and from the playground at Zion Church.  The meal is open to the community, but is intended for those who may not have a lot of food to put on their tables now, etc.  She has had about 18 people attend the meals, but plans for up to 30.  One of Julia’s desires is to give some Pottstown folks a hand-up via a good meal.  Period.  Simple, right?

Julia is looking for some local groups to take this project on with her through the summer.  Julia could really use some volunteers and food to be donated for this Wednesday, June 27th.  But on any Wednesday during the summer, Julia can use all the help she can get!

This would be a great project for churches, scout groups, service organizations, local corporations etc…

If you would like to donate food, money or your time, please contact this amazing young woman at juliazion@ymail.com.  She would LOVE to hear from you!

Pottstown Rumble Crowns Men’s Open Champions

POTTSTOWN, PA — With the second day of the 21st annual Pottstown Rumble came the champions.

The men’s open championship, the marquee event of the sprawling volleyball tournament at Pottstown Memorial Park, was taken by two men from as far away from Pottstown as you can get.

Andrey Belov’s missile-like serves brought he and his partner, Dana Camacho, the top prize of $4,000 in what many consider the premier grass volleyball event on the east coast.

Belov, a tall Russian from St. Petersburg with arms as long as canoe oars, said the Rumble was his first grass tournament in the U.S. His partner, Camacho, a tattooed, laid-back Californian from Venice Beach, recruited Belov to the tournament with the goal of smoking the competition.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120625/NEWS01/120629633/rumble-crowns-men-s-open-champions

Pottstown’s Fourth Of July Event Schedule

This year the 4th of July activities span three days starting Monday evening, July 2nd and culminating with the fireworks display on Wednesday, July 4th at 10:00pm!

Click here to see the entire three day schedule of events:http://pottstown4th.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/july-4th-2012-schedule.pdf

Schools’ Financial Squeeze Gives Rise To Questions About Future Of Early Education In Pennsylvania

Editor’s note:  If you read the rest of the article you’ll see a list of districts who are struggling.

On Wednesday, we’ll know if Harrisburg will become the first school district in the state to eliminate kindergarten.

Maybe the novel idea to privately pay for kindergarten through tax credits for businesses will come through, maybe it won’t. Maybe the state will suddenly increase school funding.

Or maybe, as parents have feared all spring, 5-year-olds will spend this fall at home instead of in a classroom.

Looking at the school district — another annual deficit, another year of cutting programs, owing $471 million on past projects — it’s easy to think Harrisburg is the worst example of a broken system.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/06/schools_financial_squeeze_give.html