Cold Winter, Cool Spring Bring Mixed Results For Lehigh Valley, N.J. Farmers

English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Рус...

English: Apples on an apple-tree. Ukraine. Русский: Яблоня со спелыми плодами. Украина. Latina: Malus domestica (Borkh., 1803) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This winter’s cold temperatures that stuck around until late spring have curbed apple production at one local orchard, although local vineyards say the grapes are some of the best they’ve ever seen.

Tianna DuPont, an educator for sustainable agriculture at the Penn State Cooperative Extension, said the growing season started out about three weeks late, although recent warm weather is helping plants catch up.

Matty Matarazzo, the owner of Four Sisters Winery in White Township, expects a smaller than usual yield of apples this year. He said they’ll grow enough for the winery’s apple wine but not an abundant amount.

Bob Best, of Bests Fruit Farm in Independence Township, said the cool spring threatened his crops initially, but once the weather warmed up the produce started to grow.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2014/07/despite_cool_start_growing_sea.html

Pottstown’s Juan Carlos Restaurant Leading The Way In PHL17 ‘Hot List’ Competition

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN – Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine has been holding a steady lead in the online phl17 Hot List competition for two weeks, displacing a bigger corporate restaurant along the way,

The phl17 Hot List is in its eighth year and features 164 categories of hot spots to go in the area – everything from arts and entertainment, to fitness and restaurants.

It’s in this last category that Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine is making its stand; currently in first place for “Best Mexican Restaurant” and second place for “Best BYOB Restaurant.”

“The first day I was number one in both categories. I was shocked but pleasantly surprised,” chef/owner Ron R. Garza said in an interview with The Mercury. “Then I look two weeks later and we’re still solid.”

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/the-mercury/story/pottstowns-juan-carlos-restaurant-leading-the-way-phl17-hot-list-competition/1?utm_source=ubnreadmore&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ubnreadmore

New Solar-Powered Car-Charging Stations Unveiled In Robinson

The Mall at Robinson

The Mall at Robinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  When we were on assignment in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, we stayed across the street from the Mall at Robinson and walked right by these very charging stations.  Should have taken a picture….drat!  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20 but if you read the whole article the Post Gazette took a nice picture for your viewing pleasure.

In the parking lot outside the food court at the Mall at Robinson, a silver Chevy Volt sat in a space painted with a green and white electric vehicle decal, waiting for a jolt. Inside, representatives from Eaton and Wesco gathered by a gray kiosk that monitors the amount of energy being generated by the new 8 kilowatt solar panels on top of the mall.

By 11 a.m. the panels had generated 4.11 kw of energy, enough to power 46 laptops. They also generated enough power to give an electric car a full charge in two hours. That’s a perk for hybrid drivers because the mall’s newest car charging stations are connected to the panels.

The charging stations were officially unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, but they have been operational since June. Beth Edwards, the mall’s general manager, said she has been surprised by the response.

“I’ve seen several cars using it. We actually had a mall walker who went out and bought an electric car so they could charge it when they’re walking in the mall,” she said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/07/25/Mall-at-Robinson-unveils-new-solar-powered-car-charging-stations/stories/201407250036#ixzz38VRlqzoC

Big Spring Distillery Soft Opening Helps Prepare For Grander Version In Bellefonte

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  The distillery movement is really starting to take off in Pennsylvania.  I keep running across these popping up around our great state.

Vana Dainty sat down with Kevin Lloyd to help him coordinate the final details of the grand opening for his Bellefonte distillery in two weeks.

Dainty, the borough’s Keystone Community development coordinator, said the Match Factory distillery, named Big Spring Spirits, will be good for the borough.

“Kevin has been a delight to work with, and this should really be a great part of Bellefonte that brings in new tourists and a part of the turning point for our economy,” Dainty said. “It’s different than anything else in Centre County.”

Lloyd said he has seen the value of a helping hand not only from Dainty, but from dozens of others as he opens his new business.

Weis To Open Its First Beer Cafe In York County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Jennie Conboy is looking forward to the day when she can buy groceries and beer at the same time.

“It can’t come soon enough,” said the loyal Weis shopper from West York.

Her grocery store of choice is at 1800 Roosevelt Ave. in West Manchester Township, and that Weis location is soon adding a beer cafe.

Weis hopes to begin construction on the beer cafe in the coming weeks, according to company spokesman Dennis Curtin.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26215034/weis-open-its-first-beer-cafe-york-county

Arby’s Closings Leave Employees Jobless

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ashley Douglas was depending on her next paycheck from her job at Arby’s to catch up with her rent.

But the single mother of three children will have to find another way to pay her bills. Douglas, 29, of Wilkes-Barre, who worked at the Wyoming Valley Mall Arby’s, was among dozens of employees at six Arby’s restaurants in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania who lost their jobs when the businesses closed on Friday.

That was the same day the franchise owner’s Chapter 7 liquidation was approved in federal court.

“That was the only job I was working at for right now,” said Douglas, who is separated and raising her children, ages 7, 4 and 3. “I’m depending on that. I’m trying to find something else. I still owe my landlord the rest of the rent for this month … If I don’t get something to pay for my rent, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/302844/Arbys-closings-leave-employees-jobless

If 4 Atlantic City Casinos Close In September, Then What?

English: Atlantic City (NJ) - The boardwalk in...

English: Atlantic City (NJ) – The boardwalk in a rainy day (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – This resort faces the prospect of having four major vacancies on its famed Boardwalk come mid-September.

The grim reality sank in July 14 when Trump Plaza issued layoff notices and targeted Sept. 16 as the date to cease operating as a casino.

Perception is reality in tourism, experts say, and the Boardwalk is synonymous with Atlantic City. How will four hulking, empty buildings sit with visitors – especially at night – and will they impede tourism when Atlantic City needs it the most?

“When an area goes dark, and there are increased vacancies, it generally sends out more than a subtle message that things are not promising on the horizon,” said Don Moliver, dean of the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140722_Atlantic_City_lights_dimmer_in_September.html#LRbj1JvhlyPXrwkJ.99

Pittsburgh Planners See Potential In A Revamped Mellon Square

DSC01808Could Mellon Square become the next Market Square?

While it’s no European-style piazza, some believe the area around the newly restored park could be primed to become one of Downtown’s next hot spots for restaurants and retail.

“I see it becoming the next great Downtown destination,” said Herky Pollock, executive vice president of the CBRE real estate firm.

Only a few years ago, the Smithfield Street corridor between Fifth and Liberty avenues that includes Mellon Square appeared to be ready for last rites.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/07/21/Planners-developers/stories/201407200210#ixzz3892O45lx

Kids Dice Vegetables For Healthy Pizzas And Learn About Nutrition

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — Kid chefs learned that a healthy twist on a traditionally baked dish was surprisingly tasty.

Children of the Oliviet Boys and Girls Club made no-bake pizzas with garden fresh vegetables last week at the Ricketts Community Center.

The youth cooking class is part of a summer nutritional program at the club.

Kristin Robinson, nutrition major at the University of Pittsburgh, is working alongside MOSAIC garden manager Laura Washington this summer to teach the kids about healthy eating.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/20140721/kids-dice-vegetables-for-healthy-pizzas-and-learn-about-nutrition

York County Peaches Survive Winter

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

Janet Grossman says here’s nothing like a fresh local peach.

The 46-year-old York Township resident bought a bushel Wednesday morning at Brown’s Orchards & Farm Market.

“I might make a pie, but really I’m happy just to have them as a snack,” Grossman said.

Brown’s, at 8892 Susquehanna Trail South in Loganville, has been selling some of its 25 varieties for more than a week.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26172231/york-county-peaches-survive-winter

Red Alert For A Green Thumb: Volunteer Needed To Help Maintain State College Community Garden

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 — The community garden on East College Avenue at University Drive has gone untouched this summer as the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy struggles to find a volunteer for its upkeep.

With only seven staff members and 132 gardens to monitor, the conservancy relies on volunteers to make the gardens possible.

“Our office is in Pittsburgh, and we have some gardens that are far away in Erie, North Huntingdon, Altoona, State College and even farther away in Harrisburg,” said Lynne McGuire-Olzack, the conservancy’s volunteer coordinator. “This is the first time we don’t have a volunteer in State College.”

Eat Fresh At Saturday’s MOSAIC Community Garden Party In Pottstown

teacher-lauraPOTTSTOWN, PA — The local community garden will show how easy vegetable crops can go from the ground to the dining table.

The MOSAIC Land Trust is hosting a garden party at their new 615 Chestnut St. community garden on Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.

The party will include music, resources on healthy living and fresh vegetables from the garden.

“We are going to do a healthy garden to grill event,” said Laura Washington, garden manager.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/20140716/eat-fresh-at-saturdays-community-garden-party-in-pottstown

‘Celebrate Downtown’ Shines Light On Pittsburgh Revitalization

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

Downtown Pittsburgh as seen from PNC Park across the Allegheny River

Downtown should be an exciting place to go or live. It remains an important indicator of any city’s health.

For the past 20 years, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has worked to revitalize Downtown and will call attention to its progress with eight days of activities called “Celebrate Downtown” from July 14 to 21.

New this year to the annual Celebrate Downtown attractions are Dining Around, sampling food and drink at some of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants; All Access Pittsburgh, a series of tours; and Open Streets, which will create space for people to enjoy part of Downtown free of cars, buses and trucks.

The creation of the Cultural District and revitalization of Market Square are only part of the changes Downtown. More than 12,000 people live Downtown now, with more than 2,000 new apartments coming.

Read more: http://triblive.com/aande/moreaande/6418404-74/downtown-july-market#ixzz37GwwnvK9
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

Changing Skyline: Is ‘Over-Success’ In Development Hurting Philadelphia?

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philad...

English: 1616 Walnut Street Building in Philadelphia. On NRHP since October 17, 1983 1616 Walnut Street in Rittenhouse Square East neighborhood of Center City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It wasn’t long ago that Philadelphia’s movers and shakers were lamenting that the city was being ignored by international retailers. Those chains finally discovered the city, and now they’re colonizing the shopping districts around Rittenhouse Square and the West Philadelphia universities at a stunning pace. Sometimes, the only way to be sure you’re not at the King of Prussia Mall is to look up at the sky.

Having gotten what it wished for, the city is starting to feel the first side effects of what New York urbanist Kent Barwick, former head of the Municipal Arts Society, identified as “the over-successful city.”

This may sound like an odd worry in a town that looks over its shoulder and still sees Detroit. It’s certainly great that the chains help draw throngs to Walnut and Chestnut Streets again. They’ve brought their stylish displays and uncovered the dormant charms of many old commercial buildings. Yet, there is a numbing sameness to much of the retail. You’ve seen identical mannequins in identical outfits perched in windows on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Boston’s Newbury Street, and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/inga_saffron/20140711_Is__over-success__in_development_hurting_Phila__.html#OwFqlzCPsHwibjmA.99

Fourth Annual Summer Fundraiser For Artfusion

ArtFusion-color600Pottstown, PA – ArtFusion 19464 will host their fourth annual summer beef and beer fundraiser on Saturday, August 9 from 6-9 pm. This year’s event will be held at the ArtFusion facility at 254 E. High St.

Tickets are $20 purchased in advance. If any are still available, tickets at the door will be $25. Tickets can be bought online at http://artfusion19464.org/event/2014-beef-and-beer/, in person at ArtFusion, or over the phone by calling 610-326-2506. Guests can choose the beef entrée, or a vegetarian sandwich option.

LowResVBCLogoVictory Brewing Company has once again generously donated their amazing beer for this event. Ice House will be making the hot beef sandwiches and Montesano Bros. will again be creating their amazing side salads and veggie sandwiches. There will be soda and water in addition to Victory beer and homemade desserts to finish off the meal.

Along with enjoying great food and great beer, guests will have the chance to win fun door prizes, try their luck at a 50/50 raffle and bid on silent auction items.  Proceeds benefit ArtFusion 19464’s upcoming fall educational exhibit Rainbow Crow and Other Stories. This show will feature artwork inspired by Native American stories.

The non-profit community art center will once again be offering free field trips to local schools in conjunction with this show.  Please email info@artfusion19464.org for more information on scheduling a field trip. The Rainbow Crow field trip program is generously sponsored by the Foundation for Pottstown Education.

ArtFusion 19464 is a 501(c)3 non-profit community art center located at 254 E. High St. in downtown Pottstown. The school offers day, evening and weekend classes to all ages. The goal of these classes is to help students develop their creative skills through self-expression and independence. ArtFusion’s gallery hosts rotating shows featuring local artists. The gallery also sells handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gift items.  The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am-5pm and Saturday 10am-3pm. The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday.

SteelStacks’ Success With World Cup Parties Raises Curiosity About Future Sporting Events

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Curt Mosel, for good reasons that didn’t initially occur to me, shot down my ideas.

I envisioned a cool fall night sitting on a lawn chair, beer in hand, watching the World Series among fellow baseball fans on the big screens at SteelStacks.

Then came the potential of football fans bundling up on Super Bowl Sunday and heading down to the South Bethlehem venue, where restaurant vendors would compete to serve the best hot chili to warm up the crowd as they watched the big game on the same screens.

The spring would come around, and those screens in the shadows of the Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces would air the NCAA tournament, giving folks in the Lehigh Valley an excuse to leave work a little early and cheer on an underdog while they took in perhaps the first day of pleasant weather after a long winter.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/nick-falsone/index.ssf/2014/07/steelstacks_success_with_world.html

Sly Fox Planning To Move Goat Races To Pottstown

POTTSTOWN, PA — If Jixxer hopes to repeat as Sly Fox Goat Race champion or Spartacus wins legitimately, it appears that it will have to be done in Pottstown, not East Pikeland, next year.

Sly Fox has let borough officials in Pottstown know of plans to move the annual spring Bockfest to Pottstown’s Circle of Progress from its traditional location at the brew pub along Route 113.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140709/sly-fox-planning-to-move-goat-races-to-pottstown

Rep. Mark Painter: Farmers’ Market Vouchers Available For Seniors.

SANATOGA, PA –  State Rep. Mark Painter, D-Montgomery, reminds older residents about a program that provides low-income seniors with vouchers redeemable for fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at local farmers’ markets.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides qualified seniors with four vouchers totaling $20 that they may exchange for Pennsylvania-grown produce. Recipients are given a list of participating farmers and farmers’ markets when they receive their checks.

“This program is immensely beneficial for senior citizens to enhance their daily diet with nutritious produce grown right here in Pennsylvania,” said Painter, a member of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

To qualify, recipients must be 60 or older by Dec. 31, with a total household income before taxes of less than $21,589 for a single person, $29,100 for a couple and $36,611 for a family of three, based on 2013 income.

The vouchers will be distributed at the Pottstown Cluster from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays and Fridays; and at the Pottstown Senior Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The vouchers, made available through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, are distributed on a first-come basis.

Painter said constituents with questions may contact his office at 610-326-9563.

Contact: Tom Andrews, 717-787-7895

PHS Pop-Up Garden To Offer A Summer’s Worth Of Tropical Entertainment

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Once again, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has transformed a vacant space into a lush hangout spot, perfect for leisurely summer afternoons and evenings. This year’s PHS Pop-Up Garden sits at 1438-46 South Street (next to the Jamaican Jerk Hut) and officially opens on Tuesday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. and remains open seven days a week until mid-October.

The garden itself is open to the public starting at 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, 2 p.m. on Saturdays and noon on Sundays while food and drink will be served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 5 p.m. to midnight on Fridays, 2 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Expect tropical cocktails, craft beer, a changing group of food trucks and Caribbean menu items from the Jamaican Jerk Hut.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/PHS-Pop-Up-Garden-to-offer-a-summers-worth-of-tropical-entertainment.html

Festival Prep Kicks Into High Gear

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region ...

Counties constituting the Happy Valley Region of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Setup for large events like the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and Philipsburg Heritage Days can create nail-biting situations.

Heritage Days Chairman Jim Pollock watched several years ago as a trailer traveled down Front Street facing the wrong direction. No damage was done, but it could have ended in disaster.

“He was a new vendor, and when he first pulled in, he would have been serving toward the sidewalk instead of the street,” Pollock said. “We tried to tell him how to pull out and come back, but he came down wrong and could have taken out several trailers.”

That was a challenge, Pollock said, “so we have to be clear in our direction, especially for new vendors each year when everyone wants to hook up at the same time with over 100 trailers. You have to keep your composure.”