Ron Downie Reflects On 20 Years In Pottstown Public Service

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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

Editor’s note:  Very nice article by Evan Brandt on Ron Downie’s public service to Pottstown.

POTTSTOWN — When Ron Downie first came to the Pottstown area as an infant, his family for a time got water from a hand-pumped well and used an outhouse at a home outside Harmonyville.

Now, he composes poetry on a hand-held electronic device thinner than most books of poetry and shares his words with the mere touch of a button.

All of which is to say he has seen times change.  And he has changed with them.

One of four children of Scottish immigrants, Downie has alternately been a landscaper, a Firestone plant worker, a bartender, a ski-slope operator, a school board member, the president of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and the AMBUCS and the Building and Industries Exchange.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121231/NEWS01/121239979/ron-downie-reflects-on-20-years-in-pottstown-public-service-#full_story

Progress Seen In Last-Minute ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks

English: President Barack Obama addresses a jo...

English: President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of the United States Congress in the chamber of the House of Representatives at the United States Capitol on 24 February 2009. Español: Presidente Barack Obama dando un discurose por una sesión conjunta del Congreso de los Estados Unidos en la cámara de la Cámara de Representantes en el Capitolio de los Estados Unidos, 24 de febrero de 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — Working against a midnight deadline, negotiators for the White House and congressional Republicans in Congress narrowed their differences today on legislation to avert across-the-board tax increases.

Congressional officials familiar with talks between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said one major remaining sticking point was whether to postpone spending cuts that are scheduled to begin on Jan 1.

Republicans want to replace across-the-board reductions with targeted cuts elsewhere in the budget, and the White House and Democrats were resisting.

At the same time, Democrats said the two sides were closing in on an agreement over taxes.  They said the White House had proposed blocking an increase for most Americans, while letting rates rise for individuals with incomes of $400,000 a year and $450,000 for couples, a concession from President Barack Obama’s campaign call to set the levels at $200,000 and $250,000.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=439707

Philadelphia Eagles Fire Andy Reid

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles' coach, after t...

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles’ coach, after the Eagles’ training camp in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PHILADELPHIA — Andy Reid‘s worst coaching season with the Philadelphia Eagles ended today after 14 years when he was fired by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who said it was time “to move in a new direction.”

The dismissal came one day after Reid and the Eagles were humiliated 42-7 by the New York Giants and ended their season at 4-12.

“Andy leaves us with a winning tradition that we can build upon.  And we are very excited about the future,” Lurie said in a statement released by the team.

The team pushed back a scheduled noon EST news conference to 1 p.m.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=439812

Nolde Forest Thins Ranks To Make Way For Growth

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

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

The Boulevard Trail is Carl Knutsen’s favorite path to walk at Nolde Forest State Park in Cumru Township.  The steep hike gives him the best workout.

But when Knutsen arrived at the trail a few weeks ago, he was shocked to find a muddy path covered with downed trees due to a logging project.

“Boy, it was quite a sight,” Knutsen, 68, a Cumru resident, said recently. “I just hope it’s being done for the right reasons.”

Linda Ingram, manager of Nolde’s Environmental Education Center, said other visitors to the park along Route 625 have had similar reactions after seeing the messy trail.  But when Ingram looks at the path, she sees progress.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=439722

Peep Chick Drop And Fireworks To Ring In New Year At SteelStacks

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

New York City may have Carly Rae Jepsen and its huge crystal ball, but Bethlehem has music from the indie rock band for kids Starfish and will drop a 75-pound light-up Peep to ring in the New Year.

“We’re really trying to create a Dick Clark of Bethlehem event,” Matt Pye, vice president of corporate affairs at Just Born, said Sunday, the first day of the city’s annual Peeps Fest.

Now in its fourth year, the annual family-friendly festival is put on by ArtsQuest and candy-maker Just Born. More than 8,000 people attended the festival last year.

This year, Peeps Fest has more interactive activities and the duration of the festival has been condensed from four to two days.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-peeps-fest-20121230,0,7670122.story

Report: Eagles Coach Andy Reid Will Be Fired

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles' coach, after t...

Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles’ coach, after the Eagles’ training camp in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Andy Reid is out after 14 years coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press following today’s 42-7 season-ending loss to the New York Giants.

Reid is scheduled to meet with owner Jeffrey Lurie on Monday to discuss his future and an official announcement will come afterward, according to one person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a final agreement hasn’t been reached.  That person says there’s a chance Reid might remain with the team in some capacity.

Reid is due to make $6 million in 2013 in the final year of his contract.  He said he wants to coach next year, but it’s possible Lurie could persuade him to take a season off and perhaps help out in the front office in an “advisory” role.

Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko denied several reports that Lurie has already fired Reid, saying it’s “absolutely, 100 percent” untrue.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=439706

Sprawling Memphis Aims To Be A Friendlier Place For Cyclists

English: Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the a...

English: Memphis, Tennessee skyline from the air. A photograph by myself while in Memphis] (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MEMPHIS — John Jordan, a 64-year-old condo appraiser here, has been pedaling his cruiser bicycle around town nearly every day, tooling about at lunchtime or zipping to downtown appointments.

“It’s my cholesterol-lowering device,” said Mr. Jordan, clad in a leather vest and wearing a bright white beard. “The problem is, the city needs to educate motorists to not run over” the bicyclists.

Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has long been among the country’s most perilous places for cyclists.  In recent years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting.

Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor.  But Mr. Wharton spied an opportunity.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/us/memphis-aims-to-be-a-friendlier-place-for-cyclists.html?ref=us

A Record Worth Wilting For: Death Valley Is Hotter Than …

USA-CALIFORNIA/DEATH VALLEY STS073-E-5119 UNIT...

USA-CALIFORNIA/DEATH VALLEY STS073-E-5119 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, CALIFORNIA/DEATH VALLEY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

FURNACE CREEK, CALIFORNIA — For Death Valley, a place that embraces its extremes, this has long been an affront: As furnace-hot as it gets here, it could not lay claim to being the hottest place on earth.  That honor, as it were, has gone since 1922 to a city on the northwestern tip of Libya.

Until now. After a yearlong investigation by a team of climate scientists, the World Meteorological Organization, the climate agency of the United Nations, announced this fall that it was throwing out a reading of 136.4 degrees claimed by the city of Al Aziziyah on Sept. 13, 1922.  It made official what anyone who has soldiered through a Death Valley summer afternoon here could attest to.  There is no place hotter in the world.  A 134-degree reading registered on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch here is now the official world record.

And while people were not quite jumping up and down at the honor, the 134-degree reading has inspired the kind of civic pride that for most communities might come with having a winning Little League baseball team.

“For those of us who survive here in the summer, it was no surprise that it’s the hottest place on the world,” said Charlie Callaghan, a Death Valley National Park ranger who personally recorded a 129-degree day here a few years back.

Read more:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/science/earth/death-valley-temperature-record-is-restored.html?hp&_r=0

Pottstown New Year’s Day Polar Plunge Could Be Coldest Ever

POTTSTOWN — To celebrate the 5th annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge in Riverfront Park, swimmers will brave what will likely be the coldest water yet in the event’s history.

“If the weathermen are right, this will be the coldest polar bear dive we’ve had in the series,” said Bill Krause, who organizes the event with his wife, Sue.

The swim will commence at 10:30 a.m. when the participants, who will all have to sign a waiver beforehand, will line up and dash into the Schuylkill River.

Running into the freezing river won’t be the only thing going on, however.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20121228/NEWS01/121229427/pottstown-new-year-s-day-polar-plunge-could-be-coldest-ever#full_story

Senate Leaders To Make Last-Ditch ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders agreed on Friday to make a final effort to prevent the United States from going over the “fiscal cliff,” setting off intense bargaining over Americans’ tax rates as a New Year’s Eve deadline looms.

With only days left to avoid steep tax hikes and spending cuts that could cause a recession, two Senate veterans will try to forge a deal that has eluded the White House and Congress for months.

Obama said he was “modestly optimistic” an agreement could be found.  But neither side appeared to give much ground at a White House meeting of congressional leaders on Friday.

What they did agree on was to task Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, who heads the chamber’s Republican minority, with reaching a budget agreement by Sunday at the latest.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscalbre8a80wv-20121109,0,6642146.story

Flu Cases In Pennsylvania Spike

The holidays offer a chance to gather with faraway family and snuggle by the tree.  But according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Health, many of us have been sharing a lot more than gifts.

The number of reported flu cases soared the week before Christmas to 2,196, more than double the 933 reported one week earlier. Before Dec. 8, there had been a total of 848 cases statewide.  One influenza-related death has been reported as well.

The trend in Pennsylvania is consistent with the numbers nationwide.

“It’s certainly a bigger flu season than we had during the past two years,” said Dr. Luther V. Rhodes, an infectious disease specialist at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-early-flu-season-pa-20121228,0,5869559.story

Upper Macungie Swears In 28 New Officers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

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

Upper Macungie Township began a new era Friday when 28 officers were sworn in to become the first members of the township’s new police department.

Police Chief Edgardo Colon said the ceremony was more meaningful because the township planned the police department from the ground up. Formerly, the Berks-Lehigh Regional Police Department serviced the township, but Upper Macungie elected to break away and form its own department.

“Everybody is eager and ready and prepared to move forward and start going to work,” Colon said.

Nicklaus Morris, one of the officers sworn in on Friday, echoed Colon’s sentiments.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/parkland/mc-upper-macunge-new-police-department-20121228,0,2751181.story

Milk Might Hit $8 A Gallon, Absent Federal Action

Picture 487Consumers soon could be defying the adage of not crying over spilled milk.

If Congress doesn’t pass a new farm bill or extend the one in place by Monday, the price of a gallon of milk in grocery stores could go as high as $8, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. said Friday during a media conference call.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said lack of action would mean milk prices would be based on permanent law enacted in 1949.

The department would be forced to provide substantial financial support to dairy farmers based on their production costs and start buying up surplus milk, he said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=439496

Lackawanna County Eliminates Four More Jobs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Lackawanna County is eliminating four more positions, bringing to 28 the number of county jobs slashed over the past two months to help balance the 2013 budget.

Cutting the four positions will save $184,837 in salaries and benefits next year, according to figures provided by the commissioners’ office.

Chief of staff Maria Elkins said Thursday the latest cuts include the elimination of a secretary’s position in the Department of Human Resources, which will result in a layoff.

Two vacant positions will also be cut, effective at the end of the year, she said. They are an accountant position in the treasurer’s office and a clerk position in the clerk of judicial records office.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/lackawanna-county-eliminates-four-more-jobs-1.1422148

Scranton School Board Passes Budget With No Tax Increase

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton residents will see one tax bill stay the same for 2013.

The Scranton School Board on Thursday night unanimously approved a $120.4 million budget that calls for no tax increase.

With a city tax increase of about 25 percent and a 4 percent increase in Lackawanna County taxes, Scranton school directors said they wanted to give residents a break.

Directors had been looking at a tax increase of 1.35 percent, but with interest rates for tax anticipation notes coming in lower than expected, finding additional health care savings and using $1.18 million in capital improvement money to pay down debt, officials balanced the budget.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-school-board-passes-budget-with-no-tax-increase-1.1422154

New Year’s Eve Celebrations Abound In Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

If you’re planning to ring in 2013 on New Year’s Eve Monday, Lancaster County has got you covered:

On tap at the third annual 3…2…1! Lancaster celebration are more than 20 different family-friendly festivities and activities at Clipper Magazine Stadium, 650 N. Prince St., and the Lancaster YMCA, 256 Harrisburg Ave.

The entertainment, which starts at 5 p.m., includes live stage acts, musicians, balloon artists, ice skating, hands-on activities and kids’ crafts.  There will be an early fireworks display for kids of all ages who can’t stay up until midnight.

Ticket prices are $10 in advance and $12 on event day.  Children 3 and under are admitted free.

Night owls can attend a midnight fireworks display and lowering of the Red Rose in Binns Park, 100 N. Queen St.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/797158_New-Year-s-Eve-celebrations-abound-in-county.html#ixzz2GMZsMe5X

LancasterHistory.Org Is Set To Move Its Expanded Lancaster County Collection Into Its New $8.6 Million Building

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Lancaster County‘s attic” has a new home.

That includes the ostrich egg from the Colonial-era Juliana library, the Oscar statuette awarded to RCA for making the first color picture tube, leather buckets from Lancaster’s Union Fire Company No. 1 and donated pewter, handmade cradles and racks of paintings.

Those items, 2,750 in all from the Heritage Center collection, have formally joined the 15,000 artifacts from LancasterHistory.org in a newly renovated and expanded facility.

The $8.6 million “Campus of History,” at Marietta and President avenues in Lancaster Township, will open to the public Feb. 1.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/797224_LancasterHistory-org-is-set-to-move-its-expanded-Lancaster-County-collection-into-its-new–8-6-million-building.html#ixzz2GMWo3rqN

Retirement Of 100-Watt Light Bulbs Causing Consternation

Diagram showing the major parts of a modern in...

Diagram showing the major parts of a modern incandescent light bulb. Glass bulb Inert gas Tungsten filament Contact wire (goes to foot) Contact wire (goes to base) Support wires Glass mount/support Base contact wire Screw threads Insulation Electrical foot contact (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sight and sound play a major role in the human experience, to be sure, so it’s always difficult when somebody suggests we’re getting too much of either.

The brightness of light bulbs and the loudness of internal combustion toys are under scrutiny, and it appears certain that changes are in the works.

I have deep passions when it comes to motorcycles and I understand why others may feel that way about other often noisy recreational motor vehicles. I have especially fond memories of things that go vroom in the dirt, which interest me more than light bulbs, but I’ll try to contain myself until we get the latter out of the way.

On Wednesday, The Morning Call’s front page divulged that Lehigh Valley light bulb lovers are hoarding 100-watters as the federal government pushes a scheme to force everybody to buy light-emitting diodes or compact fluorescent lights.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/carpenter/mc-pc-light-bulb-100-watts-20121227,0,2323522.column

2012′s Most Annoying Words Are ‘Whatever,’ ‘Like’

NEW YORK— “You know,” “whatever” is a really annoying term — “like” “you know.  ” We’re “just sayin’.”

When it comes to the most annoying words or phrases used in conversation, those four top the list in 2012, according to the annual Marist Poll.

“Whatever” headed the list, cited by 32 percent of adults, and next came “like,” which 21 percent didn’t like.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/pennsylvania/mc-whatever-like-2012-annoying-words-20121227,0,3660199.story

First Night Pittsburgh Brings Downtown Alive With More Than 100 Events In 45 Venues

English: Downtown Pittsburgh

English: Downtown Pittsburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can ring in the new year at home with Ryan Seacrest — sadly, we lost Dick Clark this year — or you can join the crowd at one of the city’s most festive celebrations, Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.

As Stefon would say on “Saturday Night Live,” it has everything: Bollywood dancers, Japanese sword dancers, rockers, hip-hoppers, puppet paraders, treasure mappers, unicycling jugglers, human pinatas — no, not really pinatas, but that’s about all it doesn’t have.

It begins at 6 p.m. Monday with a Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks Display and a performance by Adam Brock & The Soul Band on the Dollar Bank Stage at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue.

The evening concludes with a performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a New Orleans jazz/R&B institution since 1977, and then the Countdown to Midnight and Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale atop Penn Avenue Place and Fifth Avenue Place.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/life/lifestyle/first-night-pittsburgh-brings-downtown-alive-with-more-than-100-events-in-45-venues-667932/#ixzz2GIiKJiQF