$1.4M Grant Will Aid Colebrookdale Railroad Effort

The Colebrookdale Railroad will benefit from $1.4 million in funding made possible by a PennDOT grant aimed at repairing and upgrading the line’s rails, equipment and infrastructure.

The 8.6-mile line between Pottstown and Boyertown recently began carrying freight again and will also be home to The Secret Valley Line historic excursion railroad, opening in the fall.

“Seventy percent of the funding was provided by the state and we had to raise the other 30 percent,” said Nathaniel Guest, president of the non-profit Colebrookdale Railroad Restoration Trust, which oversees the line.

The non-profit group has a for-profit subsidiary, Eastern Berks Gateway Railroad, which oversees the freight traffic and was the recipient of the grant.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140309/14m-grant-will-aid-colebrookdale-railroad-effort

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Schuylkill River Heritage Area Receives $226,000 Grant

POTTSTOWN — On the heels of a $395,000 grant, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area was awarded a $226,000 Community Conservation Partnership Grant from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The money will be used to fund annual events sponsored by the Heritage Area, such as the Schuylkill River Sojourn and the Scenes of the Schuylkill juried art show.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140107/schuylkill-river-heritage-area-receives-226000-grant

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Proposed York City Budget Has No Tax Increase, But Includes New Expenses

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

For the second year in a row, York City is poised to approve a balanced budget that does not hike property taxes.

But there are some new expenses in Mayor Kim Bracey‘s 2014 proposal that the York City Council could target if council members want to trim the budget before approving it next week.

Most significant among them is the $550,000 pricetag on a new financial-management system. The city secured a grant from the state to cover $150,000 of that cost.

Business administrator Michael O’Rourke explained during a marathon budget hearing Wednesday that the city’s current system became obsolete years ago.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_24706975/proposed-york-city-budget-has-no-tax-increase

Greater Reading Chamber Receives Grant For Manufacturing

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The Corbett administration today announced the award of a Discovered in Pennsylvania-Developed in Pennsylvania grant to help launch the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Reignite in Pennsylvania program, created to support the growth of manufacturers.

The Greater Reading Chamber will receive a $286,600 grant to support targeted outreach, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting to an estimated 30 companies in the first year and another 30 companies in the second year.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=519627

Creating A Buzz For 14 Philadelphia Neighborhoods

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighti...

English: Map of Philadelphia County highlighting West Philadelphia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To some, they are former diamonds in the rough, locales that a decade or so of change has polished into something now truly unique.

And many have made the cut as city neighborhoods that the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. will be showcasing in a new, two-year campaign.

The 14 areas, to be unveiled Friday as part of the campaign’s launch, are: Fairmount, Spring Garden, Graduate Hospital, Callowhill, Bella Vista, East Passyunk, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Queen Village, Pennsport, Cedar Park, Spruce Hill, University City, and Powelton Village.

“Philly is a city of neighborhoods. What does that really mean?” GPTMC president and chief executive Meryl Levitz said of the impetus behind the campaign. “We want people to go one block farther. People haven’t felt this good about Philly as they do now.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130405_Philadelphia_s_gems__Its_neighborhoods__that_is.html#ixzz2PbMBcjXg 
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Reading Weighs Accepting Grant For More Firefighters

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We can’t predict the future. Take the money, hire the people and hope for the best!

Spending a $4 million federal grant to the city is not as easy as it seems.

The problem is not what the grant would do – hire 30 new and badly needed firefighters for the next two years, adding more personnel to each truck – but what happens to those firefighters when the grant expires.

Fire Chief David Hollinger and City Council labored over the issues Monday night.

On the positive side, the grant does not require the city to keep the grant-paid firefighters after the grant runs out in March 2015.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=443754

Reading Fire Department Gets Grant Of Nearly $1 Million

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

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The Reading Fire Department has won a grant of nearly $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer announced Thursday at his third-in-three-days public meeting about reopening the 2012 budget.

The office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called him late in the afternoon to announce the city had been approved for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant of $999,781, Spencer told about 50 people at the Historical Society of Berks County, 940 Centre Ave.

He said he was told it was by far the largest of 10 grants totaling $1.56 million awarded to fire departments in the state. Casey is a Scranton Democrat.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=360291

Allentown Wins National Award For Fighting Childhood Obesity

The future of the city’s fruit-and-vegetable green cart is no longer followed by a question mark.

Allentown took home a first-place national award — and a $120,000 grant — for the program, securing its immediate future fighting childhood obesity.

Six cities were honored nationally. Allentown was the only city in Pennsylvania to win recognition for the award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Association.

“More than 40 percent of our kids are either overweight or obese,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “We are tackling that problem head-on.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-obesity-prevention-award-20120118,0,2108514.story

Cathy Paretti Blasts Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath Over Gallerygate

Cathy Paretti, Co-founder of the Gallery on High/Gallery School of Pottstown read a prepared statement during the Comments from Citizens Present part of tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting.  Evidently only Councilors Weand and Rhoads were listening.  Bonnie appeared unphased (probably because she knew four members of council support her bad behavior).

Mrs. Paretti broke down the series of events which lead to Gallerygate.  Mayor Heath meddled in a council decision and caused the Gallery’s request for grant money (to pay off the mortgage on their building and expand their services) to be denied.  Mrs. Paretti also brought some interesting facts to light about an inappropriate release of information, by the mayor’s husband, before it was to be made public.

If Mrs. Paretti would like to have her remarks published on Roy’s Rants, in their entirety, we would be glad to do so!

We applaud Cathy Paretti and Erika Hornburg-Cooper for not allowing the mayor’s highly inappropriate behavior to go unchallenged, and for all they have done to help the Borough of Pottstown and the Greater Pottstown Area.  You ladies ROCK!

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.

Pottstown Borough Council Supports The Arts

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

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One of the agenda items at tonight’s Pottstown Borough Council meeting was:

8.  Motion to approve the submission of an application to the Montgomery County Community Revitalization Board and prioritize from the following projects:

  1. Western Gate
  2. Gallery on High
  3. Pottstown Skyline Lighting Project

Councilor Joe Kirkland made a motion to change the order making the Gallery on High the first priority, the Skyline Project would be second and the Western Gateway would be third. 

After making his motion, Councilor Kirkland spoke in favor of the Gallery on High in downtown Pottstown.  People attending shows, exhibits and classes can then take advantage of their proximity to places like the Brick House, Juan Carlos, Funky Lil’ Kitchen and other downtown bars, restaurants and shops.  In light of the recent budget cuts in Harrisburg, the Gallery School has offered to partner with Pottstown School District in the event arts funding is severely cut or eliminated so students will still have this important educational component.

Councilor Chomnuk disagreed and stated he preferred the Western Gateway be made the number one priority as it would be more beneficial to Pottstown.  Since the Gallery Building was already renovated, Chomnuk did not think the Gallery on High’s project would be approved by the county.

Councilor Allen agreed with Councilor Chomnuk.  She did express her feelings that the Gallery on High does good things but she feels the Western Gateway would be more beneficial.

Councilor Rhoads spoke in favor of the Gallery on High because they are an existing business and contribute to downtown Pottstown.  (If the Gallery could buy their building and make the necessary renovations to the third floor, basement and reconfigure their current layout, the Gallery could contribute even more to downtown Pottstown.)

Councilor Weand spoke in favor of the Gallery on High for many of the same reasons listed above.  He sees the benefit of having a thriving business on High Street that brings people into downtown Pottstown “our mall”.

President Toroney spoke in favor of the Gallery on High. The arts are listed in the Urban Land Institute Report as a way to revitalize downtown Pottstown and we should follow the suggestions of this study.  He also recognizes the contribution the Gallery and TriPAC make to our downtown.  President Toroney and his wife attended “The Crucible” production at the TriPAC and he stated he only recognized about three people.  People are coming into Pottstown from outside the borough to attend these productions.

Councilor Gibson did not speak as he was not present at tonight’s meeting

After much discussion, a roll call vote was taken:

Allen – NO

Chomnuk – NO

Kirkland – Yes

Rhoads – Yes

Weand – Yes

Toroney – Yes

Gibson – absent

Mr. Kirkland’s motion passed making the Gallery on High proposal the borough’s number one priority when applying for these county funds.

Cathy Paretti, Co-Founder and Director of the Gallery addressed Council during the comments from citizen’s present, before the vote.  Mrs. Paretti asked Council to please make this project a priority.  She explained that if the Gallery could buy their building they could make the necessary renovations to expand their presence downtown and services to residents.  Cathy also mentioned that the Gallery has a great relationship with the Pottstown School District and if arts education gets cut from the budget, due to decreased funding from Harrisburg, the Gallery would be there to pick up the slack.  Also present in a show of support was Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Gallery School, Erika Hornburg-Cooper.

Roy’s Rants gives Pottstown Council two thumbs up for supporting an existing downtown business, supporting the arts and paying attention to the ULI Report’s recommendations to move Pottstown forward. 

We hope the county sees the wisdom of this decision.  Jason Bobst, Borough Manager and Erica Weekly, Assistant to the Borough Manager will be presenting this proposal to the county so I feel we are in good hands as they are excellent public speakers who can effectively articulate our needs.