John Crowe is the top North American executive for Saint-Gobain, the $55 billion- a-year French construction- materials maker that traces its roots to the group that built Versailles for King Louis XIV. Crowe has been looking for a place to build another palace – in Pennsylvania – as Saint-Gobain’s U.S. base and showroom.
To replace the company’s aging U.S. headquarters near Valley Forge, Crowe scouted sites for “an absolutely spectacular building that will incorporate all aspects of what we know as a building-materials company in terms of energy efficiency and a sustainable, open, collaborative workplace,” he tells me. Plus, a research and development center to replace the old labs in Blue Bell.
The search, extended by the recession, took Saint- Gobain six years. The company plans to announce this week that it has picked a potentially spectacular fixer-upper, an $80 million-plus expansion of the once-innovative but now-rusted and vacant complex built in 1969 by the former National Liberty Life Insurance Co. on 65 acres north of Malvern, close to the new State Route 29 ramp from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, PA – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.
According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.
The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners.
The pump station would be constructed over existing pipelines that Sunoco previously shipped distilled petroleum through. The pipelines would be re-purposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware.
LOWER POTTSGROVE TOWNSHIP, PA — Not that she needed a reminder that all politics are local, but Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards still remembers one of the first calls she got on the historic night she and Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro made history by being the first Democrats to take the majority in 100 years.
“I’ll never forget one of the first calls I got on election night,” she said March 24 as she, Shapiro and Commissioner Bruce Castor conducted the last of their roundtable meetings around the county, this one at the Lower Pottsgrove Township Building.
“I said ‘hello’ and the voice on the other end said ‘so when is the new Keim Street Bridge going to be finished?’”
The answer, she gave Monday, is that the project is “moving forward.”
WESTTOWN TOWNSHIP, PA— Abruptly and without explanation, township supervisors have replaced Township Manager Bob Layman.
“We don’t discuss personnel matters,” said Carol DeWolf, chairwoman of the board of supervisors. “We have handled all of this in executive session as we are allowed to.”
Supervisors declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding Layman’s departure.
According to the township code “the Manager shall be appointed for an indefinite term by a majority of all the members of the Board, shall serve at the pleasure of the Board, and shall be subject to removal by the Board by majority vote. At least 15 days before such removal, the Board shall furnish the Manager with a written statement setting forth its intention to remove the Manager.”
Layman served the township for 11 years.
Philadelphia’s population rose again last year, albeit at a slower rate than the city’s growth over the past few years, according to Census data released today.
The city’s population as of July 1, 2013, stood at an estimated 1,553,165 people, an increase of 4,518 residents, or 0.29 percent from the previous year. It marks the seventh consecutive year of growth for the city, according to the Census Bureau’s population estimates. So the turnaround continues, but not as dramatically.
Philadelphia saw steep declines in the latter part of the 20th century as it continued to struggle with the loss of its industrial base. That trend continued into the new millennium. Indeed, the city’s population declined every year between 2000 and 2006, losing nearly 26,000 residents during the span. But since 2006, the city has added more than 64,000 people.
The new census numbers, however, suggest that the population rise has slowed. Philadelphia added only about half as many residents in 2013 as it gained in 2011 and 2012. Between 2010 and 2012, the city’s population grew by more than 1.3 percent.
WEST CHESTER, PA – A 23-year-old man addicted to heroin told a Common Pleas Court judge he wants to make a change in his life when the time comes for him to walk out of prison.
Instead of robbing banks to fund his addiction, as Michael Brown pleaded guilty to before Judge Anne Marie Wheatcraft on Tuesday, he would rather find a job that allows him to speak to people dealing with the same problem.
Brown, a high school dropout who had been addicted to heroin for three years, told the judge he would appreciate the chance to tell others just starting on the road to drug addiction about how he had made the same mistake, only to see his life ruined by having to feed his habit, court observers said.
Wheatcraft appeared impressed with Brown’s determination, and in a recommendation to the state Department of Corrections, suggested that he be allowed to serve his prison sentence at SCI Chester, which has an advanced drug rehabilitation program for inmates.
The nor’easter that crippled the region yesterday dumped more than 20 inches in parts of Chester County, according to newly revised figures – and a bit more could be on the way for the entire Philadelphia region.
The official National Weather Service reading at the Philadelphia International Airport was 11.5 inches of snow. But totals varied with Birdsboro, Berks County, recording 20 inches, and Allentown, Lehigh County, with 18.8 inches – good news for skiers on a long President’s Day weekend. Closer to the city, West Caln, Chester County recorded 18.7 inches.
New Jersey saw higher amounts farther north, with Florence, Burlington County, seeing 12.7 inches and Washington Township, Gloucester County, seeing 12.7 inches. The shore was largely spared snow.
Update: At 8:45 a.m. Saturday, about 152,000 were still without electricity, according to Peco, down from 715,000 at the outage’s peak. Sixteen percent of the Pennsylvania suburbs remain without power; including 30% in Chester County.
Nearly 40 percent of Chester County remained powerless late Friday, with several communities entirely dark for a third straight night and officials warning that it might be days before all the lights were back on.
Peco, which had more than 5,000 utility workers – half from out of town – clearing downed trees and repairing wires Friday, continued to make progress restoring power, with more than 60,000 customers brought online during the day. At 10 p.m. Friday, about 182,000 were still without electricity, down from 715,000 at the outage’s peak.
Peco ranked the event as the largest winter power outage in its history, second overall to 2012′s Hurricane Sandy.
Our thanks go out to VVA Chester County Chapter 436 for their donation of $1,000.00 to the Memorial Fund for the Pottstown Chapter. Everyone was very surprised and very grateful. Frank Strunk, Pottstown Chapter president (left) is receiving the check from Ken Schweitzer, Chester County Chapter (right).
The funds will go to help with the upkeep of the memorial and also help with all the services scheduled to start in the spring.
Thanks again guys for the support!!
Snow has been falling at rates of 1-2 inches per hour, with some places, such as northern Chester County counting 7 inches as of 11 a.m., and Horsham and Worcester in Montgomery County and West Rockhill Township in Bucks County, counting 6 inches.
Some places in Lehigh Valley are reporting 6 inches, as well.
Closer to the City of Philadelphia, Brookhaven in Delaware County, near the airport, was reporting 3.5 inches as of 10:30 a.m.
Just across the river, as of 11:15 a.m., the rain-snow line has halted, and actually in Haddonfield has changed back to some rain and sleet as that line oscillates around 10 miles south and east of the city.
WEST CHESTER, PA – Officials have finalized the list of individuals who will serve on the task force that is updating the borough’s comprehensive plan over the next year.
The 11-member committee was formed after council members participated in more than three hours of interviews Wednesday night.
Council Members on the task force are Bill Scott and Cassandra Jones. Other members selected were: Holly Brown, business representative; Diane Herrin, BLUER representative; and John Theilacker of the Brandywine Conservancy.
Residents on the group include Linda Landenberg, Jonathon Long, Mark Thompson, Courtney Finneran, Jeff Beitel, Dennis Harney.
SOUTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA— The Owen J. Roberts School Board unanimously approved a real estate tax appeal settlement with Coventry Retail, LP, that lowers the assessed value of the Coventry Mall from $98 million in 2012 to $23.2 million in 2014.
The reassessment will equate to a loss of about $2 million a year in property tax revenues to the district.
In addition to the revenue loss, the agreement is retroactive to 2012, so the district will have to repay mall owners $1,619,799 of taxes paid in 2012, 2013 and 2014. In accordance with the agreement, $650,000 of that will be paid in cash within 60 days, according to attorney David L. Allebach Jr., who represented the board on this matter. The remaining funds will be credited to the mall against future taxes,
District officials had anticipated that cost and have reserved the full $1.6 million, according to district Chief Financial Officer Jaclin Krumrine. Therefore, the district has the $650,000 on hand to pay back the mall owner. The remaining nearly $1 million will help balance the 2014-15 budget to make up for the tax credit the mall will receive during that fiscal year.
(UPDATED 10:45 a.m.) An Atlantic Clipper snowstorm traveling across the East Coast Tuesday could drop up to 9 inches of snow in some areas, causing some schools to close and others to institute early dismissal.
Pottstown, Phoenixville, Upper Perkiomen, and the Pottsgrove school districts were all dismissing students early as the snowstorm was expected to worsen in the afternoon.
Collegeville, East Greenville, Spring City Borough, Lower Pottsgrove, and Upper Pottsgrove townships declared snow emergencies Tuesday morning. The snow emergency in Spring City was declared for 9 a.m. and will be in place until noon Wednesday.
PHOENIXVILLE — In a split vote at Tuesday night’s meeting, borough council appointed a current planning commission member to fill the East Ward seat Mike Speck vacated by his election to mayor in November.
Shai Perednik, who also serves on the borough’s historic architecture review board, joined council in a 4-3 vote divided along party lines Tuesday night.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to get involved in the borough,” Perednik said, adding he’d like to see his family grow up alongside the borough.
One of three candidates interviewed, Perednik received approval votes from Council President Jim Kovaleski, Council Vice President Dana Dugan, Jenn Mayo and Jeremy Dalton.
WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, PA — A 25-year-old Phoenixville man is facing stalking and related charges after he allegedly made numerous unwanted sexual advances toward a woman before following her car for more than 21 miles.
During the early morning hours of Jan. 3, a young woman was driving when she noticed another vehicle following closely behind her own vehicle, according to the West Goshen Police Department. When the victim stopped at a Wawa store, the driver of the other vehicle approached her both inside and outside of the store and repeatedly asked for the victim’s telephone number.
Police said the driver of the vehicle, a silver Honda Civic with Pennsylvania tags, was later identified as Scott Andrew Rosenberg.
Investigators said that when the victim refused to give Rosenberg her phone number, he continued to harass her and suggested various sexual encounters he said he would like to have with the victim.
The scramble to become a candidate for U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach‘s seat has already begun and the battle for the post will be a national spectacle, political watchers said Monday.
The Chester County Republican announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.
And while Gerlach said he mainly made the decision to spend more time with his family, he acknowledged that frustration with Washington had to play a role.
“I just get the sense that he was very unhappy with the situation, the gridlock, the partisanship, the inability to get much done,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “Many (politicians) have reached a point where many don’t want to go through this anymore.”
High school students from Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties will showcase their artwork at Montgomery County Community College’s first Tri-County High School Art Exhibition and Competition at its Fine Arts Gallery, North Hall, 16 High Street, Pottstown.
The exhibition opens Monday, Jan. 13, and will continue through Friday, Feb. 21. The artists’ reception will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 5-7 p.m. with the awards presentation at 6 p.m. Both the exhibit and the reception are free and open to the community.
Students from approximately 20 public, parochial and private schools were invited to participate in the exhibition. The artwork features a variety of subjects and styles in an array of media. College art faculty members will be judging the artwork.
COATESVILLE, PA - Coatesville, long considered the hotbed of crime in Chester County, went without a homicide in 2013 after seeing six, including three in 10 days, the previous year.
Law enforcement officials are attributing the drop to an intense targeting of high-risk criminals and to factors outside their control – such as the weather.
“You don’t know which one of those was the silver bullet that really caused this drop,” Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan said Thursday. “So your only real choice for law enforcement is to keep all of them up for as long as you can.”
What happened in Coatesville mirrored trends in much larger cities across the country. Philadelphia had 247 killings last year, a 25 percent drop from 2012. In New York and Chicago, the fewest homicides were recorded since 1963 and 1965, respectively.
PHOENIXVILLE — Moving into 2014, borough council’s dynamics could change with new faces from November’s election, familiar faces taking on new roles, and the appointment of a new council member due by early February.
Four current council members will carry over to 2014. East Ward representative Mike Speck won his bid for mayor and will resign from council Jan. 3. Richard Kirkner, Dave Gautreau and Karl Bucus all decided against running for re-election.
2013’s council had a 5-3 Democrat majority with Democrats Kirkner and Speck serving as president and vice president, respectively.
Of the four returning council members, three — Jenn Mayo, Jim Kovaleski, and Dana Dugan — are registered Democrats and one — Christopher Bauers — is a registered Republican.