Facade Program Spruces Up Wilkes-Barre’s Main Arteries

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA  — Angela Marsicano and her daughter, Gina, know first-hand the benefits of the city’s Gateway Facade Improvement Program.

The two women live next door to each other and they took advantage of the program to improve the appearance of their Blackman Street homes. Angela lives at 246 Blackman St. and Gina is at 250 Blackman.

Gina had new stonework, front window, front door, porch rail, porch roof installed and aluminum siding painted.

Her mother had new windows installed, shutters, aconcrete foundation and porch steps put in.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/50139841/Facade-program-spruces-up-W-Bs-main-arteries#.U_I5tPRDsxI

Scranton OKs Surveillance Camera Network

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lackawanna County

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

Scranton City Council on Thursday unanimously approved having the city create a community video-camera surveillance network at police headquarters.

Council voted 5-0, with President Bob McGoff and Councilmen Joe Wechsler, Pat Rogan, Jack Loscombe and Bill Gaughan all in favor, to adopt a resolution to apply for and execute a $146,390 grant for a “community surveillance network system” at the police station on South Washington Avenue.

Council also unanimously advanced on second reading an ordinance to create an account to process the grant.

The surveillance network would allow private surveillance cameras in the city, such as those at banks, businesses or colleges, to link to the police station. There, a wall of 32 video monitors will show live feeds from privately owned and operated surveillance cameras that already exist in public areas.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/scranton-oks-camera-network-1.1695262

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Wrightsville Is Part Of New Lights Project On Veterans Memorial Bridge

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

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

A Veterans Memorial Bridge project involving Lancaster County has been an enlightening experience for Wrightsville Mayor Neil Habecker.

“It’s like changing the front door on your house,” he said. “This should raise the property value of the community.”

Habecker said he is excited about the bridge lighting project to install 65 new cast-iron lights with 1930s-style lantern design and LED bulbs.

For the project, Wrightsville entered into a bridge maintenance partnership with Columbia Borough and West Hempfield Township, both in Lancaster County. The three municipalities have been discussing the project for about five years to replace the current old, rusting cobra head light fixtures, Habecker said.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25783506/wrightsville-is-part-new-lights-project-veterans-memorial

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New Partnership Between Revs, York City Gives Employees Incentive To Live Downtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

In Eric Menzer’s 27 years of living in York City, he said there’s never been a better time to have a downtown business.

As the York Revolution’s president and general manager, Menzer said he and the 7-year-old baseball team aren’t going anywhere.

And he wants the same for his employees.

That’s why the team partnered with the city to offer its employees incentives for buying homes downtown.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/breaking/ci_25775906/new-partnership-between-revs-york-city-gives-employees

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Northampton County Grant Will Buy Trolley For Downtown Easton

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette ...

English: Skyline of Easton, PA from Lafayette College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easton officials hope to ease the city’s rising parking problems by introducing a trolley to the Downtown area purchased through a Northampton County grant.

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said today that the city plans to buy a used trolley sometime this month and have it up and running through the Downtown area this summer. With the city’s new parking garage not due for completion until autumn, the city will rely on the trolley to connect distant parking lots to popular tourist spots, Panto said.

“We can’t invent parking, so I think it’s the next best idea,” Panto said.

County Executive John Brown said the $42,000 grant from the Northampton County Gaming and Economic Redevelopment Authority is part of the county’s outreach to regional partners. The county will also allow the city to use the Northampton County Courthouse’s parking lots for the Easton Farmers’ Market and other large events, he said.

Read more: http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/easton/index.ssf/2014/05/northampton_county_grant_will.html

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MCCC Builds Financial Literacy Model With ‘Next Generation Learning Challenges’ Grant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

Blue Bell/Pottstown, Pa.— Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) has received a $100,000 grant to build on the success of a financial literacy prototype, developed as part of the inaugural Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) Breakthrough Models Incubator (BMI) cohort.

Last May, MCCC was one of seven institutions selected for the inaugural cohort. Each institution received $50,000 to design and launch a technology-based support program, specifically created to improve completion rates, the quality of student learning and the time it takes for degree completion. Last week, each of the seven institutions from the initial cohort received the next phase of funding, $100,000, made possible by a grant from EDUCAUSE through Next Generation Learning Challenges.

After participating in NGLC’s three-day workshop in July, MCCC’s team of eight faculty and staff was given three months to develop a prototype based on the College’s initial proposal to improve first-time students’ understanding of financial, civic, and digital literacies through the creation of a “New Literacy” Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

“Students cite ‘financial concerns’ as the top reason for dropping out of courses, especially during the first two weeks of a semester. Therefore, in order to make significant gains in student retention and completion, we must first improve our students’ understanding of financial literacy,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president, MCCC.  “Our team has done outstanding work in building a pilot that has already helped hundreds of students strengthen their understand the financial aid process.”

After engaging students through focus groups and surveys, MCCC developed “Montco Money Matters,” a module that introduces students to the concept of paying for college. By working with content, media, technology and design experts from across MCCC, the team produced a multi-channel module that includes video displays, social media and face-to-face engagement, along with an online course-like experience.

The 30-minute, self-guided program introduces students to concepts of financial aid, loans and grants; highlights the long-term implications of loans and future debt; and makes them aware of other resources, like scholarships, to help pay for college. The program incorporates open-source and original content, including a computer-generated tour guide, short video clips featuring actual MCCC students, and links to off-campus resources that allow students to delve further into topics of interest.

A total of 425 students actively engaged in the pilot program during a seven-week period during the fall 2013 semester. Of those, 95 percent of students who provided feedback indicated they will recommend the online resources to others, and 80 percent said the course will influence future academic decisions. In addition, feedback revealed that student loans and scholarship information were the most valuable topics covered, and money management is a topic on which many students would like more information.

With the prototype completed and funding secured, MCCC’s next step is to build out additional modules under the umbrella of financial literacy. These modules could address topics such as cash management, budgeting, shopping for textbooks, transportation, loans and debt, among others. The College also hopes to make “Montco Money Matters” accessible to school districts within Montgomery County and to the general population at large.

In addition to Montgomery, six other selected schools are part of the inaugural NGLC BMI cohort, including Austin Peay State University, Ball State University, Charter Oak State College, SUNY-Empire State College, Harper College and the University of Maryland-University College.

About Montgomery County Community College

Since its founding in 1964, Montgomery County Community College has grown with the community to meet the evolving educational and workforce development needs of Montgomery County. The College’s comprehensive curriculum includes 100+ associate degree/certificate programs, as well as specialized workforce development training and certifications. Students enjoy the flexibility of learning at the College’s thriving campuses in Blue Bell and Pottstown, online through an extensive array of e-Learning options, or at the new Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale. The College also offers first-responder training programs at the Public Safety Training Campus in Conshohocken. Supporting its mission to offer high-quality, affordable and accessible educational opportunities, the College is funded by the County, the State, student tuition and private contributions. Governed by a 15-person Board of Trustees appointed by the Montgomery County Commissioners, the College is fully accredited by the Commission of Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.

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Race Street Connector Project Back On Track With $1.1 Million Grant

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Walking or biking from Old City to Race Street Pier will become twice as nice later this year, as improvements to the north side of Race Street are set to begin this fall with a new $1.1 million state grant.

The Central Delaware Waterfront Corporation, the quasi-city agency that oversees both the city’s long-range plans for the waterfront and the development of the publicly owned parcels there, opened the south side of the Race Street Connector project more than two years ago.

Improved lighting, landscaping and hardscaping are designed to make traveling from neighborhood to waterfront more obvious and pleasant. The Race Street Connector was the first of a list of connector projects up and down the Central Delaware, all called for in the city’s long-range waterfront vision.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Race_Street_Connector_project_back_on_track_with_1_million_grant.html#fpfCMS41IBdxleUq.99

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$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...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Image via Wikipedia

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.