BIRDSBORO, PA — Two new bridges carrying Route 345 over the Schuylkill River and the Norfolk Southern railroad are now open to traffic.
According to a press release from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s District 5, traffic was directed over the two new bridges for the first time on Thursday. There is no weight restriction on the new bridges, which daily carry 6,189 vehicles, PennDOT said.
HARRISBURG, PA — A joint investigation between state and local officials uncovered a large-scale drug ring that spanned three counties.
The results of the year-long “Operation Tourniquet” lead to the arrests of “48 mid- and street-level drug dealers,” a press release from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office said.
The dealers, the release said, “were part of two organizations, who were loosely tied and responsible for distributing drugs throughout at least three counties including Berks, Lancaster, and Schuylkill.”
Three Birdsboro residents where among the alleged “street-level” dealers who were arrested.
NORRISTOWN, PA — Calling it a “significant” crackdown against child exploitation, authorities have charged six men, including two from Birdsboro and another from Upper Providence, with having inappropriate contact with a teenage boy from Limerick.
Mark David “Wilco” Wilczopolski, 22, of the 500 block of East Second Street, Birdsboro, was indicted by federal authorities on Thursday for allegedly using the Internet to entice a teenage boy to engage in sexual conduct and receiving and possessing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger.
Montgomery County authorities previously charged Wilczopolski with unlawful contact or communications with a minor and related offenses in connection with incidents that occurred between May and October 2013 with the 14-year-old Limerick boy, according to court documents. Wilczopolski is already awaiting trial on those charges in county court.
The federal indictment against Wilczopolski was announced by Memeger at a joint news conference Friday with county District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Limerick Police Chief William Albany and other federal officials. Wilczopolski was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon.
AMITY TOWNSHIP, PA — Daniel Boone Area School Board members responded to the voices of a community, canceling the hearing to close the Birdsboro Elementary Center and unanimously tabling a vote to realign students.
It also tabled the vote to replace two failing boilers at Birdsboro Elementary School.
Concerned residents, many of whom brought their children to the meeting — some with signs to “save our school” — filled the auditorium of the Daniel Boone Area Middle School and described to the board the love they have for their community’s school.
The crowd’s applause was deafening at times as residents said Birdsboro Elementary School has been a pivotal part of their upbringing, and one they want for their children and their small town’s future.
When Birdsboro Market closed more than two years ago, Mayor Robert M. Myers knew it was a huge loss for the community.
“I was distraught,” Myers said. “A community of our size absolutely needs a food market of its own.”
Myers tried to drum up interest from other grocery stores and last winter began a petition, collecting nearly 2,000 signatures of residents interested in the project. Now after months of hard work, the borough presented a plan at Monday’s council meeting to build a full-service Boyer’s Food Market as the centerpiece of a small strip mall in the center of the community.
“Now the residents of Birdsboro will have a place to shop and they don’t need to drive to Douglassville or Exeter,” Myers said.
Birdsboro will be getting a new shopping center, and perhaps a grocery store.
M.B. Investments, a J.P. Mascaro & Sons business, signed an agreement of sale with St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Birdsboro, to acquire 5 of the church’s 9 acres to build a small strip mall. The purchase price was not disclosed.
The cornerstone of the site at 5 Brooke Manor would be a 25,000-square-foot grocery and space for additional shops, according to Steve Lusky, Birdsboro borough councilman.
Lusky said he has worked with borough officials for several years to bring a small neighborhood center with a high-quality grocery to the community of about 5,100 people.
BIRDSBORO, PA — Kindergarten, sports and other large expenditure items will likely be recommended once again for cuts in the Daniel Boone Area School District, the school board president warns.
Board President Andrew Basile, who also serves as chairman of the board’s finance committee, said reduction or elimination of those programs would be one option for the board to reduce an anticipated $3.6 million budget deficit for the 2014-15 school year.
The district avoided steep cuts in programs and activities this year by dipping into its budget reserves.
Dennis Younkin, the district’s interim business manager, provided the finance committee with an updated Act 1 Timeline for 2014-15, a five-year budget analysis, and a 2014-15 proposed budget.
Reading police obtained arrest warrants for two men in the shooting death of a Birdsboro man whose body was found in an alley last month.
Police identified Johnnie L. Nelson, 26, of the 800 block of North Fifth Street, and Eric Harding, 23, of the first block of Gouglersville Road, Cumru Township, as suspects in the death of Darryl A. Jones, 26.
Both are already in Berks County Prison for parole violations.
BIRDSBORO — Convicted water thief Frank McLaughlin won a victory in court last week when a judge agreed with his claim that the water bills he was paying to the Birdsboro Water Authority for two apartment buildings he owns could not be justified.
On July 1, District Judge David E. Glass ruled in favor of McLaughlin in two claims he filed in March, writing in both decisions that “it appears that the authority has arbitrarily assigned rates to apartment complexes that are neither reasonable nor fair.”
Noting that he never received a report explaining how the authority calculates those rates, he wrote “trying to understand the published Birdsboro Water and Sewer Authority rate structure is like trying to find a snapper turtle in a muddy pond.”
Glass further noted in his decision that “the water and sewer authority’s appeal process is flawed” advising both McLaughlin and the authority that “it would serve both sides across the aisle to remember more is accomplished with honey than vinegar.”
It took three separate votes, but the Daniel Boone School Board was able to pass the final version of its 2013-14 budget that reinstates the elementary basic skills program.
Moments after the budget was passed, long-term board member Kevin F. McCullough announced his resignation.
“Now that the budget has passed, speaking for personal reasons, I hereby resign from my position on the board, effective immediately,” he said. “Thank you and good night.”
McCullough then stood up, packed his bag, took a deep sigh and walked out of the meeting without further comment. He was in his 14th year as a board member, the longest of any current members.
READING — The Berks County man accused of shooting a Limerick fire official in the head, sexually assaulting a minor and attempting to hire a hit man from jail to eliminate witnesses plead guilty to all charges against him on Wednesday.
Christopher Yingling, 43, of Birdsboro, received no special agreements in exchange for his guilty pleas and will spend the next 27 to 70 years in jail for his crimes, according to the Berks County District Attorney’s office.
“Given the brazenness of his crimes and the harm that he caused his victims, we are pleased with what is effectively a life sentence for the defendant,” said Berks County Assstant District Attorney Jesse Leisawitz in a statement late Wednesday night.
Berks County Common Pleas Court Judge Stephen B. Lieberman was scheduled to preside over Yingling’s trial.
BIRDSBORO – Mayor Robert M. Myers is very serious about getting a grocery store back in this community of 5,200 residents.
And while there is still a long way to go, Myers has gotten some results – with the help of more than 1,300 residents who have signed a petition.
So far, representatives from what Myers called a “full service, regional chain” have made three separate site visits to the borough to look at the property on Chestnut Street, the site of the former Birdsboro Market, which closed in 2011. The most recent visit was just this week.
And while the name of the chain is not being shared at this point, Myers said he remains optimistic about the project.
The Daniel Boone School Board didn’t waste time in deciding Monday to shutter Amity Primary Center, but spent more than an hour discussing other budget-related moves with little progress.
Several residents expressed frustration about the slow-moving budget discussion, noting that the same cuts have been on the table since December.
“It just seems like we don’t make decisions,” resident Rich Martino said. “We push it off meeting after meeting and now we’re up against a deadline and I don’t know if we’re going to make the right decision.”
The board will vote on a tentative $52.45 million budget next week.
Birdsboro will have plenty to celebrate on Saturday during its annual Duck Race and Spring Festival.
In addition to a pet expo, food, games, music and the signature rubber duck race, the community event will celebrate the highly anticipated reopening of the new Hay Creek Bridge. The span, which crosses the Hay Creek along Main Street (Route 724), was deemed structurally unsound and closed in September for repairs.
The bridge reopened on May 2 and Borough Manager Aaron J. Durso said the impact was immediate.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It frees up traffic on East and West First Street and opens up the main artery for emergency vehicles and fire police.”
BIRDSBORO — Over the past year, residents of Birdsboro have been forced to use detours and circuitous routes to get around the borough due to two bridges under construction.
But that’s about to get easier. Well, for some people.
For their neighbors in Union and Amity townships, it might get harder.
Construction on the Hay Creek Bridge and a new bridge over the Schuylkill River on Route 345 both started in August 2012.
The 46-year-old man and his girlfriend came out of the house in the 900 block of Denise Drive shortly before 10 p.m. after police contacted them by phone, borough Police Chief Theodore R. Roth said.
They were taken to the police station but not arrested, Roth said. Police planned to transport the man, whose identity they did not release, to Reading Hospital for a mental health evaluation.
The Daniel Boone School Board is moving forward with a preliminary 2013-14 budget that includes drastic cuts.
The board voted 6-2 Monday to pass a preliminary $54.9 million budget that closes a nearly $5 million gap by raising taxes the maximum amount, furloughing nearly 40 employees and eliminating kindergarten and all extracurricular activities, including sports.
Board members Connor J. Kurtz and Kevin F. McCullough voted no and Robert D. McLaughlin was absent.
More than 100 residents attended the meeting, with many speaking out against the cuts outlined in the preliminary budget.
Now that the former Armorcast factory in Birdsboro is demolished, the property owner and developers are hoping to also clear the unpaid real estate taxes.
Steve Marshall, a lawyer for Meco Demolition Inc. of Bensalem, Bucks County, asked the Daniel Boone School Board this week to waive or reduce real estate taxes from 2007 to 2011 for the 91-acre property. Unpaid taxes owed to the district total about $86,000.
Owner Gregory Flynn of Armorcast LP hired Meco to demolish the dilapidated factory, which produced steel for tanks during World War II.
BIRDSBORO — For the first time in the recent history of the Daniel Boone School District, the following year’s budget is balanced in December.
District administration achieved that zero deficit with the maximum tax increase allowed with the use of two exceptions through Act 1 of 2006, eliminating kindergarten and all student activities including sports and band, and furloughing 40 professional staff.
The board hasn’t approved the budget, though, nor any of those revenue and expenditure measures.
Board President Andrew Basile said in a budget meeting last night that it won’t do that until next June unless concessions can be reached through its contractual partners, or unless there would be additional state revenue.