Newest Pottstown School Board Member Is Homegrown

POTTSTOWN — To say that the Pottstown School Board’s newest member is a hometown booster would be a bit of an understatement.

Chosen from among four other candidates last week, Katina Bearden took the oath of office Thursday night and will complete the year left in the term of former board vice president Dennis Wausnock who died last month.

Born in Pottstown, educated in Pottstown, living in Pottstown and raising her family in Pottstown, you might say Bearden is fond of the place.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140919/katina-bearden-becomes-newest-pottstown-school-board-member

Range Resources To Pay $4.15M Fine, Close Old Gas Drilling Impoundments

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

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

Range Resources Corp. will pay the largest state fine levied against a Pennsylvania shale gas driller and close five drilling wastewater impoundments in Washington County because of leaks into soil and groundwater, officials said on Thursday.

The Fort Worth-based company signed an agreement with the state Department of Environmental Protection that requires paying a $4.15 million fine, closing the troubled facilities and rebuilding two impoundments using what regulators call “next generation” technology.

“There are two messages we are sending today. One is we take these kinds of situations very seriously and there are going to be consequences even when a company is a good corporate neighbor,” department Secretary E. Christopher Abruzzo told the Tribune-Review. “And to the citizens, the message is we’re going to handle these matters.”

Davitt Woodwell, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council said, “I commend Range for coming forward. And it appears DEP has taken this as an opportunity to leverage better standards.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6819985-74/range-impoundments-department#ixzz3DmCmQVOQ
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Merger Discussions Advance With Cornell And Moon School Districts

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

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

Exploration of a possible merger between neighboring school districts Cornell and Moon Area will continue as long as both sides show interest in doing so.

Cornell Superintendent Aaron Thomas updated his school board Thursday night as to the direction of recent talks between the adjacent districts. He said he met last week with Curt Baker, Moon Area’s superintendent, for a “half strategic and half brainstorming” session as to how a merger could occur.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/09/19/Merger-discussions-advance-with-Cornell-and-Moon-school-districts/stories/201409190166

Changes Coming To Lancaster And Berks Transit, But A Combined New Authority Won’t Look Different To Bus Riders

Picture 565Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority board took its first formal step toward a merger with Berks County’s BARTA system on Wednesday.

But the combined South Central Transit Authority will be indistinguishable from the present RRTA and BARTA.

“We’ll form a new authority and nobody will know the difference,” RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer said.

The single authority will operate RRTA and BARTA buses in their respective counties. The names on the buses will not change, nor will their colors.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/changes-coming-to-lancaster-and-berks-transit-but-a-combined/article_090e5798-3ec5-11e4-a7b4-001a4bcf6878.html

Allentown Police Hire New Officers, Implement New Training

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) i...

The PPL Building (seen here in the distance) is the tallest building in Allentown, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Allentown Police Department added four new officers on Wednesday, as the police chief described for city officials new training and equipment the force has been implementing.

In the last few months the department has appointed its first liaison for the gay and lesbian community, and added training in Spanish language, emergency vehicle usage and riot policing.

The department has also received a $68,000 grant for the installation of audio and video equipment in 10 police cars, something Chief Joel Fitzgerald hopes will be implemented in all the city’s marked police cars.

“It’s a tremendous benefit for both the community, as well as cops because it insulates them from claims that might not be true,” he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_police_hire_new_offi.html#incart_river

Steps Taken To Address Building Blight, But Lancaster May Still Move To Take Problem Property

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

Annville developer Kenneth Wenger has paid back taxes, ensured the grounds of the former G.E. Richards building are clean and the grass cut.

He has resolved nearly all the issues that led city inspectors to declare the 502-506 W. Walnut St. property blighted.

But that didn’t stop city Redevelopment Authority board members on Tuesday from voting to begin the process of taking the property by eminent domain.

In April, the board gave Wenger until Sept. 30 to address blighted conditions. The taking could occur in as little as 90 days unless Wenger takes action.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/steps-taken-to-address-building-blight-but-city-may-still/article_479f45ec-3e09-11e4-bf1e-0017a43b2370.html

Hughes Named Acting Wilkes-Barre Police Chief

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

Robert Hughes is the acting chief of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department after being appointed Monday by Mayor Tom Leighton.

Hughes, the department’s commander of operations, has been with the department for 25 years, according to a press release from the city.

Hughes replaces Gerard Dessoye, who retired Friday after 33 years to take a security job with King’s College.

Norristown Code Enforcement Manager Resigns After Investigation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

NORRISTOWN — Code Enforcement Manager Joseph Januzelli was forced to resign Monday after Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones concluded an investigation into a Norristown resident’s complaint that a district justice allegedly rented an apartment to her without securing the required, annual rental license from the code enforcement department.

Eileen Schwartz complained at the Sept. 2 council meeting that her roof collapsed into her apartment earlier this year. Schwartz said she had rented the apartment in the 400 block of West Fornance Street from Norristown District Justice Francis Lawrence for more than nine years and that Lawrence had never obtained a rental license for the apartment.

Council members ordered Jones to investigate whether Lawrence had obtained a rental license.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/general-news/20140908/norristown-code-enforcement-manager-resigns-after-investigation

Pottstown Resident Miffed By Lack Of ‘Mercury’ Front Page Coverage For Pottstown High School Football Team’s Win

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s Note:  We saw this on Facebook and feel it needs to be shared with the wider community.  We understand and share this parent’s concern about the promotion of Pottstown and the Pottstown School District.  In our humble opinion, Pottstown and Pottstown School District news should always take priority in the local paper.  Far more disturbing is the son’s comment that “nobody cares about Pottstown”.  How sad is this and what does it say about the prevailing attitude of Pottstonians if this despair has crept all the way down the ladder to school age children?  At times this appears to be the prevailing attitude of the leadership, both paid and elected.  This issue needs some serious discussion by the “powers that be” and this cycle of “nobody cares” needs to end.  How will Pottstown ever recover with a defeatist attitude! Apparently, this attitude has been picked up on by “the rest of the world” and might be why articles like the recent one in the Philadelphia Inquirer get published.

I found myself very annoyed this morning.  I went and bought my local HOMETOWN newspaper which is operated and ran in Pottstown.  I looked on the front page and to my surprise and anger there is nothing about the Pottstown High School football team winning yesterday, but yet we put the Perk Valley vs. Methacton score on the front page.  Now please don’t think that I am putting down the other schools, but to not have the school that resides where your paper is published on the front page was to be quite frank, appalling.  My son, who happens to play for the Trojans, told me “what is the big deal Dad, no one cares about Pottstown”.  News Alert: I care and there are people out there that do care.  I’m sure there are people that agree with him but I am not one of them.  I am a former grad who still supports his local team.  How do we expect to move forward in this school district when our students have the mentality of no one cares about us, no big deal?  Our town needs help and I just think that a putting some good news about the LOCAL KIDS would go a long way in changing people ‘s attitude.   Rob Bertoti

Allentown Residents Benefiting From Hockey Arena Area Job Growth

English: City of Allentown from east side

English: City of Allentown from east side (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Oliver Velasquez arrived for a job fair earlier this summer at the new Allentown hockey arena, he was shocked by the number of attendees.

“I didn’t expect to see that many people; there must have been thousands,” the 26-year-old Allentown resident said. “The line actually wrapped around the block a couple of times.”

Velasquez waited in that line, and it paid off for him. He is now the PPL Center’s new suites and catering manager, providing banquets for catered events and overseeing food in the arena’s private suites.

He is one of more than 300 city residents to find employment as part of an effort by community activists and city officials to ensure people living in Allentown get a fair shot at the jobs being created by downtown redevelopment.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/index.ssf/2014/09/allentown_residents_benefittin.html

Bethlehem Distillery Gets OK For State’s First New Economic Development Incentive

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

A Bethlehem-based distillery to be opened by the owner of Franklin Hill Vineyards received approval today to be the first business in the state to use a new economic development incentive.

The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority gave its unanimous approval to grant the distillery — which will be called Social Still — funding through the state’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone. The designation allows state and local nonproperty taxes from new businesses in the zone to help finance new development within it.

Authority members debated today over how much of those taxes the business should get. The authority’s guidelines say the authority “strives” to give the developer 80 percent of the funding, an amount board member Ann McHale said is too low for such a unique project.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/bethlehem/index.ssf/2014/09/distillery_gets_ok_for_bethleh.html

York City Commuter Tax ‘A Very Real Possibility’

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

A majority of York City Council members said they are willing to consider authorizing a new tax in 2015 that would reach into the pockets of many more people.

The distressed pension earned income tax — more commonly known as the commuter tax — has been on the city’s menu of revenue-generating options for the past several years.

But, so far, city officials have been able to balance York’s budgets without wading into the controversial waters of taxing commuters’ earnings.

That might change next year.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_26465818/york-city-commuter-tax-very-real-possibility

Dessoye Stepping Down As Wilkes-Barre Police Chief

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — So much for listening to his older brother about career choices.

City Police Chief Gerard Dessoye announced his long-rumored retirement Wednesday after 33 years on the force, rising to lead the more than 90-member department from patrolman.

Dessoye, 57, will leave his $91,305-a-year position later this month to take over as executive director of campus safety and security at King’s College, where he graduated in 1979 with a degree in criminal justice.

A decorated officer — Dessoye has been shot, and himself shot and killed a man — the outgoing chief acknowledged his brother Michael, chief detective with the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, discouraged him from following in his footsteps as a policeman.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50249743/Dessoye-stepping-down-as-chief#.VAiPH_RDsxI

Nazareth Council Wants Harrisburg To Study Police Department; Petition Calls For Chief’s Job

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

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

Editor’s Note:  There are ways to get the state involved when outside intervention is needed.  This should have been done years ago in Pottstown because of the out of control crime rate, that apparently isn’t a concern to the leadership.

Political blogger Bernie O’Hare criticized Nazareth Council tonight for seeking a contractor to study the police force rather than take steps to fix it.

In a shouting exchange with solicitor Al Pierce, O’Hare claimed council had a similar study performed and didn’t like the results so the group is hoping for a better result this time.

“You don’t like what he’s telling you,” O’Hare told the mayor of the private investigator and his report.

Mayor Carl Strye Jr. said the previous study was internal. Pierce called O’Hare’s claims not “factually accurate.”

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/nazareth/index.ssf/2014/09/nazareth_council_wants_harrisb.html

Town By Town: In Pottstown, Plenty Of Sellers, Few Buyers

Pottstown Borough Hall

Pottstown Borough Hall

Editor’s note:  It’s pretty freakin’ sad when the Philadelphia Inquirer has to write up something like this about Pottstown.  Everybody knows why this situation exists, except for the do nothing Borough Council who are off in Lala Land taking a group cruise down the river Denial! What an embarrassing write up and very damning because of the enormous readership of this MAJOR MARKET publication!!!!!  Now that a big city newspaper has pointed out the same issues we bloggers have been harping on for years, maybe you all will be shamed into doing something. 

Trends in local housing supply and demand aren’t working in Pottstown’s favor right now. In a word, the market is troubled.

Andrew Himes, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors in Collegeville, said the borough “is one of the few places that hasn’t made any kind of a comeback.”

Though just about every market in the eight-county Philadelphia region has a shortage of supply, Pottstown’s problem is it has 300 houses for sale and very little demand, Himes says.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/real_estate/town-by-town/20140831_Town_By_Town_.html#0CJjWTr05jzmHLlJ.99

Residents Facing Evictions At Jenkintown High Rise

Map of Abington Township, Montgomery County, P...

Map of Abington Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some 200 Jenkintown residents, many of them elderly, are losing their apartments due to a dispute between local officials and the property owner.

“We’re the pawns in this,” said Marshall Jones, 93. “[The owner] is saying, ‘If you won’t do it our way, we’ll just close it down.’ “

Jones has lived in the Colonade high-rise apartments on Old York Road, in the Jenkintown section of Abington Township, for 16 years. He and other residents have had a string of complaints about leaks, electrical outages, broken elevators, cold water, broken heaters, and other issues, many of which ended up in the courts.

In 2012, the building was cited for more than 200 code violations, and the township’s solicitor was “looking into criminal charges,” according to an Inquirer report.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140904_Residents_facing_evictions_at_Jenkintown_high_rise.html#FfYzbjqVDIYStHix.99

Conshohocken Council Approves $10.5 Million Bid For Borough Hall, Offices

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

CONSHOHOCKEN, PA — Council approved the apparently low bid of $10.5 million to construct the Conshohocken Borough Hall and police station and retail spaces in the former Verizon building Wednesday night, contingent on a favorable review of the contractor’s qualifications by the borough engineer.

Borough Engineer Paul Hughes said he will review TN Ward Co. of Lower Merion, and the contract can be signed after Sept. 15.

Hughes opened the $10,497,600 electronic bid from TN Ward Friday, along with nine alternate bid options to give council leeway to trim the ultimate cost of the project. Allied Construction Services of Philadelphia bid $10,583,439, and Murphy Quigley Co. Inc. of Lower Merion bid $12,976,000 for the general contract.

Hughes recommended authorizing an intent to award the base bid and five alternate bid items with a total cost of $10,709,600 on Wednesday night.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/government-and-politics/20140903/conshohocken-council-approves-105-million-bid-for-borough-hall-offices

Pittsburgh Hires Consultant, Former Wisconsin Police Captain As Chief

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh‘s new police chief is from the Midwest, but has plenty of ties to the community.

Mayor Bill Peduto on Tuesday named Cameron McLay, a consultant and former captain in the Madison, Wis., police department, to lead the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

McLay, whose family is from Squirrel Hill and Wilkinsburg and who spent three years living in Mt. Lebanon as a youth, fills a void left by Nate Harper. Harper is serving 18 months in prison after pleading guilty in October to taking city money and failing to file income tax returns.

He is expected to begin work Sept. 15 and take over for acting Chief Regina McDonald.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/6720931-74/peduto-pittsburgh-police#ixzz3CBhZw2DM
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Blight Poses Challenges For Distressed Cities

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)

Scranton is a city of 76,000 people with a housing stock largely built before 1940 for a population almost twice that number.

It has the blight to prove it.

As the financially strapped city struggles to combat blight and the host of ills it fosters, Scranton finds itself in a position common among many Rust Belt communities: many old buildings, too few people willing or able to keep them up and limited resources to press aggressively for a comprehensive solution.

The region’s other two major cities, Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton, are dealing with similar issues, though their circumstances don’t precisely mirror Scranton’s.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/blight-poses-challenges-for-distressed-cities-1.1744585

Atlantic City Facing Unprecedented Economic Collapse

full-state map

full-state map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Atlantic City region is on the brink of a short-term economic disaster.

Atlantic City made history 36 years ago when it opened the first legal casinos in the United States outside Las Vegas.

Now it’s doing so again as casino employment – which for years exceeded the number of city residents – drops precipitously after a decade of steady decline.

The closing of three casinos, starting with Showboat and Revel this weekend followed by Trump Plaza two weeks later, and the rapid-fire loss of 5,700 jobs, draw historic comparisons to longer-term collapses of U.S. industries such as steel.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140831_Atlantic_City_facing_unprecedented_economic_collapse.html#GmfpHBJZ5OpDgeaJ.99