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

Wilkes-Barre Area Expands Study Of Buildings, Approves New Administrator Compensation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Proposals from companies willing to do a feasibility study of Wilkes-Barre Area’s three high schools haven’t even been submitted yet, but the School Board voted Monday to expand the study to cover all district buildings.

The board also approved a new agreement granting most administrators annual raises between $800 and $1,400 through the 2015-16 school year, an offer Board Member Christine Katsock criticized. She noted the preliminary budget, sure to change before final passage later this month, had a $3.7 million shortfall despite a proposed 2.9 percent property tax increase.

Fear of falling debris from loose facades prompted emergency fencing and entrance closures at Coughlin and Meyers high schools last month, and the board voted to put out requests for proposals for a feasibility study on either repairs of those buildings and GAR High School, or construction of a new high school.

A “pre-proposal meeting” with prospective contractors is scheduled for this morning.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1453620/W-B-Area-expands-study-of-buildings

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Reading School Board Meeting Devolves Into Shouting Match

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

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

It didn’t take long for the newest incarnation of the Reading School Board to spectacularly explode.

There were accusations and gavel banging. There were angrily mumbled threats. And there was a whole lot of screaming and yelling.

What started as a welcoming of the board’s newest members Monday night quickly devolved into a heated shouting match, pitting newly elected board president Rebecca Acosta versus long-time board member Karen H. McCree.

The tinder was set early during the board’s annual re-organizational meeting, with McCree questioning the two presidential candidates – Acosta and incumbent president Pierre V. Cooper – about their leadership experience and plans for the future.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131203/NEWS/312039892#.Up5IVLB3uM8

Lancaster Transit Agency Taking Driver’s Seat For BARTA

Picture 565Lancaster County‘s transit organization will manage BARTA for at least the next six months, officials with both groups said Monday.

The agencies will continue to operate separately but Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority will share its executive leadership with BARTA.

David W. Kilmer, Red Rose executive director, will lead both organizations, dividing his time between Reading and Lancaster.

The move comes as BARTA works to restructure its leadership following the death last month of Dennis D. Louwerse, its longtime executive director. Managers have been keeping projects and operations moving with oversight from the agency’s board of directors.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=517063

OJR School Board Settles Lawsuit By Ex-Superintendent Myra Forrest

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

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

SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA—The Owen J. Roberts School Board has closed a lengthy legal chapter by approving a settlement agreement with former Superintendent Myra Forrest.

The agreement puts an end to a legal battle that spanned four years, following Forrest’s 2009 termination.  Forrest had filed a suit with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking damages, although an amount was never made public.  Defendants in the case were the Owen J. Roberts School District, the school board and five former board members.

The matter had been scheduled to go to trial several times, but was postponed each time.  A settlement agreement was reached in June and the case was formally dismissed by the court last month.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement and release, Forrest was given $315,000, to be paid by the district’s insurance company.  That money is intended to cover losses and damages “related to the lawsuit, the superintendent’s contract and/or the employment relationship, or (Forrest’s) separation from her employment and affiliation with defendants,” the language of the agreement states.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20130917/ojr-school-board-settles-lawsuit-by-ex-superintendent-myra-forrest

Sovereign Center To Receive Larger Share Of Parking Funds

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

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

The Sovereign Center will get an extra $45,000 a year, thanks to the Reading Parking Authority’s agreement Wednesday to change the split of parking revenue coming from civic center events.

Since 2006, the authority has taken 75 percent of the revenue after expenses, giving the civic center 25 percent.

However, P. Michael Ehlerman, chairman of the Berks County Convention Center Authority that oversees the civic center, has asked that the parking board go back to the original split – the two sides each get 50 percent of the revenue after expenses.

The request came during a meeting of the authorities requested by Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer, said parking board member Lawrence P. Murin, who also is a special assistant to Spencer.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=505048

Lenfest Foundation Maps Out A Path To Its End

The Lenfest Foundation, one of the region’s last remaining powerhouse philanthropies, has undertaken a series of changes that will dramatically alter its leadership and mission, and effectively maps out a path to its end.

H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest has long said the foundation he and his wife, Marguerite, founded would spend itself down and cease to exist within 10 years of their deaths.  But Lenfest, 82, has decided to step down now as chairman. Philadelphia entrepreneur Keith Leaphart, 38, will complete Lenfest’s term as chairman through June 2015, heading a new eight-member board on which the Lenfests will remain members.

“We’ve decided to put the foundation into an independent board of directors, which I no longer control,” Lenfest said.  “I’m not in ill health.  I don’t believe in perpetual foundations.  We’ve given away the bulk of our wealth already, and I will have a diminished role in the future.  My success in business was finding people who were better at doing things than I was.  It’s a logical evolution.”

Since 2000, the Lenfests have given away slightly more than $1 billion through the foundation and personally, a foundation official said.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20130325_Lenfest_Foundation_maps_out_a_path_to_its_end.html

Allegheny County Port Authority Board Fires CEO

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

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

Port Authority’s board of directors voted today to fire CEO Steve Bland after efforts broke down to reach a settlement under which he would resign.

The dismissal was engineered by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.  He has not commented on the matter but sources who asked not to be identified have said friction developed between the two over Mr. Fitzgerald’s desire to have greater control of day-to-day operations at the agency.

The vote to dismiss Mr. Bland was 5-3, with four members recently appointed by Mr. Fitzgerald all voting yes, along with board member Jeff Letwin, who was appointed by the prior county executive, Dan Onorato.  The others voting to fire were Joe Brimmeier, Connie Parker, John Tague, Tom Donatelli.

Voting no were Mavis Rainey, Amanda Green Hawkins and Eddie Edwards Jr., all of whom are board veterans.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/transportation/port-authority-board-fires-bland-672980/#ixzz2JfkDbXwW

West Penn Allegheny Cancels Highmark Affiliation Agreement

English: Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pitts...

English: Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, taken 2008 showing the new Highmark branding atop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saying that Highmark Inc. wanted it to restructure through bankruptcy, West Penn Allegheny Health System canceled the $475 million deal under which the insurer planned to acquire WPAHS.

WPAHS board chairman Jack Isherwood said in a written statement this morning that he considers bankruptcy a poor option for the health system’s employees and customers.

“To us, bankruptcy is not the first option, it’s the last option,” he said.

WPAHS is actively looking for new partners and is willing to consider all types of companies — another insurer, nonprofit, for-profit.

Senior management will remain in place, Mr. Isherwood said.

Reading Parking Authority Ousts Executive Director

Within minutes of taking their seats Wednesday, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s two new appointees to the Reading Parking Authority voted with Chairman George Cook to fire longtime Executive Director Lawrence H. Lee.

“He’s not being removed for cause,” Cook said. “We just want somebody else.”

Cook said the authority is moving in a new direction to work more closely with the city, and wanted someone with a different set of skills.

He called for the vote immediately after opening the meeting.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=417192

Superintendent’s Resignation Stuns Pottstown School Board

Editor’s note:  I am unfortunately not surprised by this.  I am guessing this is just another person who is tired of banging his/her head against “the proverbial wall” trying to make things better for Pottstown.  The assembly flap might have been the last straw but there is more to this than just one incident. 

Maybe it’s the constant barrage of criticism being lobbed by the Fishwrap at community leaders that helps push them out of town.  People like Jason Bobst and Reed Lindley always have other options.  After a while, no matter how good someone’s intentions are, people reach a saturation point and “walk away” to save what’s left of their sanity.

It’s a vicious cycle in Pottstown.  My condolences to the new Borough Manager and Superintendent of Schools.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Reed Lindley stunned the school board and the community Thursday night by resigning as superintendent, effective immediately.

Lindley, who was not present for the regular board meeting, submitted his letter of resignation to the board, citing only “personal reasons” for his decision.

Following a 30-minute, closed-door executive session at the opening of the meeting, a somber-faced school board returned to the meeting room and unanimously accepted his resignation.

The resignation comes on the heels of community outrage over a three-hour assembly at Pottstown High School in which a speaker extolling the virtues of entrepreneurship also challenged students to sell coffee to compete for an iPad.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120921/NEWS01/120929898/reed-lindley-resigns-as-pottstown-schools-superintendent&pager=full_story

TriCounty Community Network Names Two New Board Members

Karen Higgins of A & E Communications and Tom Thunstrom of Penn Liberty Bank Join Board

Pottstown, Pa. (July 12, 2012) – TriCounty Community Network(TCN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health, social and environmental conditions in Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, today announced that Karen Higgins, president of A & E Communications, Inc. and Tom Thunstrom, assistant vice president and branch manager of Penn Liberty Bank in Limerick join its board of directors.

“TCN continues to grow both in members and in the programs we are offering the community,” said Jen Doyle, executive director for TCN.  “Karen and Tom have both the business and nonprofit experience to help us continue this upward momentum helping individuals and organizations in our area collaborate to support the needs of the tri-county community.”

Karen Higgins

Mrs. Higgins founded A & E Communications, Inc., a marketing communications firm in 2003.  She works with small and mid-sized organizations helping them to build market awareness and credibility.  Previously, she was vice president of PR at TMP Worldwide, where she provided public relations services to a wide range of clients for 10 years.

Currently, Mrs. Higgins is immediate past president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) where she has held numerous board positions and is the recipient of the 2006 President’s Award, 2009 Board Member of the Year Award and 2010 Special President’s Award.  She is also Marketing Committee chair for the United Way Southeastern Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative Leadership Committee and serves on the Marketing & Membership Committee for TCN.  Mrs. Higgins is a graduate of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa.

Tom Thunstrom

Mr. Thunstrom has nearly nine years of bank management experience, spending three years with a regional bank in Minneapolis before relocating to Montgomery County to join PNC Bank in early 2001.  After several years with PNC, he joined financial education nonprofit Operation HOPE in 2005.  During his time running Philadelphia’s Operation HOPE office, Mr. Thunstrom oversaw year-over-year increases in services provided, an annual increase in dollars raised, and helped to expand financial education programs to numerous schools and community organizations throughout the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys.

Mr. Thunstrom joined Penn Liberty in March of 2011 and is responsible for community and business outreach in Upper Montgomery and Chester Counties, as well as managing the Limerick branch.  He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and has served two years as president of Pennsylvania’s Jump$tart financial education coalition and is presently on the board of directors for Royersford Public Library, the Spring-Ford Chamber of Commerce, and is also chairman of the Park and Recreation Commission in Upper Providence Township (Montgomery County), where he resides.

About TriCounty Community Network                 

TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, S.A.F.E. (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, visitwww.tcnetwork.org.

TriCounty Community Network Announces The Addition Of John Hendrickson To Its Board Of Directors

Pottstown, Pa. (April 27, 2012)TriCounty Community Network (TCN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health, social and environmental conditions in Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, today announced that John Hendrickson has joined its board of directors.  Mr. Hendrickson currently serves as CEO of Frederick Living, a non-profit retirement community located in Frederick, Pa.

“John will be an excellent addition to our board,” said Jen Doyle, executive director for TCN.  “His experience as the CEO of a non-profit organization will prove invaluable in helping us to maximize the collaboration within and beyond the current TCN membership to impact residents of our local communities.” 

Mr. Hendrickson has been CEO of Frederick Living since 2005 and has served as executive director of two other retirement communities.  For 14 years, he served in progressively responsible positions at Nyack College (Nyack, N.Y.) culminating in responsibilities as associate dean/registrar in 1990.

Mr. Hendrickson serves on the board of directors of the Anabaptist Provider Group, and has also served on the LeadingAge PA (formerly PANPHA) board of directors.  He earned his B.A. in social science from Nyack College and an M.S. Ed in counseling and personnel services from Fordham University.  Post graduate work in higher and adult education was at Teachers College, Columbia University and he also attended Alliance Theological Seminary.  Mr. Hendrickson is a licensed nursing home administrator in the State of Pennsylvania. 

About TriCounty Community Network                 

TCN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, membership-based organization that partners with nonprofits, businesses and community members to improve health, social and environmental conditions.  Serving Western Montgomery, Northern Chester and Eastern Berks counties in Pennsylvania, TCN offers seven key programs: Build Up Youth, C.A.R.E. (Caring in Alternative Residential Environments), Environmental Awareness, Family Literacy, Homeless Services, S.A.F.E. (Supporting Abuse Free Environments), and Workforce Development.  For more information on TCN, visit www.tcnetwork.org.

Highmark Fires CEO After Extramarital Scandal Revealed

Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, ta...

Highmark Place from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, taken 2008 showing the new Highmark branding atop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highmark today fired president and CEO Kenneth R. Melani in the wake of a scandal involving an extramarital affair and allegations that he assaulted the husband of his mistress.

The insurance giant’s board of directors announced the firing after a meeting this morning, in a statement that said his termination was “for cause.”

“The board has reviewed this situation thoroughly and has taken decisive action to address the matter,” said board chairman and acting CEO J. Robert Baum.

“For 75 years, Highmark has served this community with integrity and is committed to maintaining the highest standards. We have dedicated, hard-working employees and I know they take great pride in working for Highmark. Our mission of providing quality, affordable health care has never been more important, and I’m looking forward to working with our employees and senior management team in addressing the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” he said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/highmark-fires-ceo-melani-629445/

Pottstown Area Industrial Development (PAID) Meeting, Thursday, April 28th

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Image via Wikipedia

If you have followed the transition of the Pottstown Area Industrial Development  (PAID) organization into the borough’s economic development engine then you should attend a public meeting at the Hill School Library, Thursday, April 28th at 6 p.m.  The new board of directors will be introduced.

This is an important vehicle that will hopefully enable Pottstown to speak with a unified voice when presenting economic development goals and strategies.  Having a consensus will help the borough receive grant money for projects.

Jason Bobst, Pottstown Borough Manager, will be the first President of the Board of Directors.  The office of president will rotate every year between the borough, the school district and the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority.

The first year is crucial because the new Executive Director will be hired.  This person will be the point of contact and run the day-to-day operations of PAID.

The ULI recommendations will be used as a blue print for economic development by PAID’s Executive Director and the Board of Directors.