Hazleton PA and Pottstown PA By The Numbers

Reading the City of Hazleton’s 2015 Proposed Budget got me thinking about spending and waste.  These two towns are a good comparison because of population, ethnic diversity, demographics and even physical size.  Pottstown’s budget is more than 4 times are large as Hazleton’s, so here are some numbers to ponder courtesy of http://www.CityData.com:

 

Population:

Hazleton (2012) 25,224

Pottstown (2012) 22,480

 

Races:

Hazleton -

  • White alone – 14,580 (57.9%)
  • Hispanic – 9,717 (38.6%)
  • Black alone – 422 (1.7%)

Pottstown -

  • White alone – 15,377 (68.7%)
  • Black alone – 4,147 (18.5%)
  • Hispanic – 1,785 (8.0%)

 

Physical size (land area):

Hazleton is 5.97 square miles

Pottstown is 4.83 square miles

 

Crime rate – U.S. average = 296.6:

Hazleton (2012) 306.3

Pottstown (2012) 434

 

Police Department size:

Hazleton – 38 officers, hiring 10 new police officers built in the $9.3 million proposed budget (they think they have a crime problem).

Pottstown -46 officers, (they don’t think they have a crime problem)

 

Unemployment:

Hazleton – July 2013, 12.8%

Pottstown – July 2013, 6.7%

 

Population density:

Hazleton – 4,222 people per square mile

Pottstown – 4,655 people per square mile

 

Municipal Budget:

Hazleton – $9.3 million (2015 Proposed budget)

Pottstown – $44.8 million (2015 Proposed budget)

 

Cost of living index:

Hazleton – 95.3 (near average, U.S. average is 100)

Pottstown – 103.7 (near average, U.S. average is 100)

 

Average home value:

Hazleton – $93,389 (2012)

Pottstown – $134,796 (2012)

 

Average rent:

Hazleton – Median gross rent in 2012: $631

Pottstown – Median gross rent in 2012: $762

 

Estimated median household income:

Hazleton – $30,492 (2012)

Pottstown – $41,864 (2012)

 

Registered sex offenders:

Hazleton – there were 10 registered sex offenders living in Hazleton, Pennsylvania as of November 10, 2014

Pottstown – there were 49 registered sex offenders living in Pottstown, Pennsylvania as of November 10, 2014

Tourism District Proposed For Pottstown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA – Officials are hoping that as the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, a collective effort of the borough’s revitalization efforts will result in greater sums of grant money and tourist dollars.

Steve Bamford, executive director of Pottstown Area Industrial Development, Inc. outlined a plan to borough council Tuesday that would see the many attractions clustered near Pottstown’s western gateway joining together in pursuit of funding and marketing.

The joint undertaking as part of a “tourism and recreation district” includes: Pottsgrove Manor, the Carousel at Pottstown, theColebrookdale Railroad, Manatawny Green miniature golf, Memorial Park with the splash park and Trilogy Park BMX track, Montgomery County Community College’s art gallery, the Schuylkill River Trail,Riverfront Park and the Schuylkill Heritage Area’s River of Revolutions interpretive center.

“There are some in place, some underway and some nearly ready,” Bamford told The Mercury Friday, referring to the state of the various sites.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141014/tourism-district-proposed-for-pottstown

Sustainability: Pottstown Eyes Environmental Balance

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA – As any farmer can tell you, use any resource faster than it can be replaced — be it wood, water, money or patience — and eventually it will run out.

To put it simply, it’s not sustainable.

And where does that leave those who come after you?

Recognizing a responsibility to maintain a sustainable balance and to ensure resources are available to future generations, Pottstown may soon become the third municipality in Montgomery County to adopt a “sustainability plan.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20141012/sustainability-pottstown-eyes-environmental-balance

Tourism Touted As Means To Rejuvenate Pottstown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — “Tourism” might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you say “Pottstown,” but as far as Bill Fitzgerald is concerned, that won’t be true for long.

Fitzgerald is the president of the newly reconstituted Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board and he was in town last week to talk to Pottstown Borough Council about how his organization can help promote what Pottstown has to offer.

Tourism is on the upswing in Montgomery County, Fitzgerald said, and Pottstown is well-positioned to benefit from that trend, Fitzgerald said.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140908/tourism-touted-as-means-to-rejuvenate-pottstown

Pottstown School Board Vice President Dennis Wausnock Dies At 77

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN — The word most spoken by those reflecting on Tuesday’s death of longtime public official Dennis Wausnock, who served in public offices in the borough for more than 20 years, was “dedicated.”

Wausnock, 77, died Tuesday at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center after a long battle with congestive heart failure.

A U.S. Air Force veteran of the Korean War, Wausnock’s public service included 16 years on the Pottstown Borough Council, where he served as both vice president and president.

He was three years into his second four-year term on the Pottstown School Board, also serving as vice president, when he passed away.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140820/pottstown-school-board-vice-president-dennis-wausnock-dies-at-77

(Updated) Potential Pottstown Airport Operator Works From Limerick

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — Two proposals for becoming the next fixed base operator of the Pottstown Municipal Airport came in last week and borough council will likely approve the one from the company that already operates out of a nearby airport in Limerick.

Both Fare Share Ltd. of Limerick and Weston Inc. of Barto submitted proposals to succeed TNT Air Inc. as the Pottstown airport’s operator, council learned Wednesday at its committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Fare Share, which runs a pilot school and a charter company at Heritage Field in Limerick, received the borough staff’s recommendation to take over duties at the Pottstown Municipal Airport.

“They put together a pretty strong proposal,” Assistant Borough Manager Erica Weekley told council. “We ranked them first.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140806/limerick-airport-operator-likely-to-add-duties-at-pottstown-municipal

Clock Is Ticking On Consolidating 4 Pottstown Fire Companies

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

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

POTTSTOWN, PA — For more than three years, borough government has been urging Pottstown’s four independent fire companies to come up with some plan for consolidating.

Earlier this month, the clock started ticking for real when the borough issued a letter to all four companies notifying them that the fire service agreement between them and the borough would be terminated at the end of the year and starting in 2015, the borough will only sign one fire services agreement with a single, consolidated fire company.

Unlike the police department, fire protection in Pottstown is not under the direction of borough government, but instead is provided by four independent volunteer fire companies over which Pottstown Fire Chief Richard Lengel has operational control during a fire.

But in matters of their own affairs, such as finances, the election of officers and the like, the fire companies are independent.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140722/clock-is-ticking-on-consolidating-4-pottstown-fire-companies

A Must See Video About A Rental Unit In Pottstown – Contains Adult Language

Sly Fox Planning To Move Goat Races To Pottstown

POTTSTOWN, PA — If Jixxer hopes to repeat as Sly Fox Goat Race champion or Spartacus wins legitimately, it appears that it will have to be done in Pottstown, not East Pikeland, next year.

Sly Fox has let borough officials in Pottstown know of plans to move the annual spring Bockfest to Pottstown’s Circle of Progress from its traditional location at the brew pub along Route 113.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140709/sly-fox-planning-to-move-goat-races-to-pottstown

Our Thoughts On Last Night’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting

Editor’s comments:  Below I have reprinted the text from Katy Jackson’s heartfelt speech with my thoughts.  Love her or hate her, Katy cannot be accused of taking the path of least resistance.  The time Katy has put into trying to make Pottstown a better place is enormous.  There are plenty of other things she could be doing with her time.  Katy gets no pay, Mr. Toroney yet she puts in countless hours working toward the betterment of Pottstown and has plenty to show for her efforts, it in terms of accomplishments. Yes, I know you work full-time.

It angered me that Katy was interrupted and told to “wrap it up” at only 4 minutes.  It showed a complete lack of respect and civility.  Mrs. Jackson is WELL AWARE of the time limit for citizen comments.  She was reading a prepared text, which she timed.  That fact that she was the ONLY person interrupted tells me her words hit too close to home.  The truth hurts. 

All this blustering and obfuscation needs to stop, along with blaming the taxpayers.  It pisses them off as you were told last night.  I hope you heard that loud and clear. 

Mr. Toroney, you know being a Councilor is time-consuming, yet you keep running for re-election.  You know it pays virtually nothing, yet you keep running for re-election.  Either the job is your joy and sacred duty or a time-sucking pain in the ass, it cannot be both.

After introducing herself as a representative of the Citizens Action Committee of Pottstown, Katy said:

Mr. Toroney, you’ve taken the path of least resistance in your lengthy term (15 ½ years) on council.  Art Markman, PhD, a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas and Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations, writes ‘the path of least resistance’ asThe psychologist Tom Ward points out that when we think about anything, we follow the path of least resistance.  Without realizing it, we instantly and automatically categorize every situation we see based on our previous experience.  So, despite our best efforts to do something bold and new, our memory drives us back to things tried and true.  Our efforts at creativity are thwarted before they get on track.

Several years ago, you made a comment to a council person that “you don’t get paid enough”.   Yet, you have vied to retain your seat and you’ve accepted the position of Council President, more than once.  Have you failed to understand that serving as an elected official is not about the money?  Or is it…?  Mr. Toroney, if being on council is your “sacred duty” as you professed last night, then may I suggest you actually do something.  Last night would have been the perfect opportunity for a list of accomplishments that you, as Council President, achieved which propelled Pottstown forward.

Given that the process was in place and, taxpayers covered the costs to seek a qualified outside borough manager, you took the path of least resistance.  This is the $120,000 question.  If Pottstown Borough government operated in the real world, a more experienced person would be Borough Manager and making a more reasonable salary considering the size of the local government.  Also, a more experienced person would have realized if you spend more money than you bring in, you create a deficit.  There is no “extra” money in the budget to reward our friends with promotions and raises, to buy a new car, to hand out iPads, or spend money on consultants that we planned on ignoring all along.  Taxpayers are smarter than you think.

When it was time to select a new Police Chief for Pottstown, you made no pretense about choosing the path of least resistance.  Again, in the real world, people are held to metrics and performance goals.  I supervised people for over 20 years and wrote countless performance appraisals.  Employees were ranked according to their achievements.  If you failed to meet goals such as quantity and quality, your performance review reflected this.  Your raise, or lack of a raise was dependent upon your results.  Your customer service skills, ability to work and play well with others, your attendance, punctuality etc… were all measured.  When my people missed their goals, I heard about it from my boss.  Had I told my V.P. that my goal was to increase productivity by 1% I would have most likely been demoted, once he stopped laughing.

Each month when the expenditures for the borough are approved by council do you read the line items and scrutinize the spending or…do you take the path of least resistance?  I will say Pottstown’s finances improved greatly due to Jason Bobst, Janice Lee and Dan Weand.  However, if we allow the borough manager spend money we don’t have, whose fault would that be?  In the real world, his supervisor.  In Pottstown’s case, that would be borough council, headed up by El Presidente, Steve Toroney.  The borough manager needs supervision, sorry.  Inaction makes you complicit when overspending occurs.  Just say no.

Do you believe that upper management requires exorbitant salaries, top of the line new vehicles, iPads for officials, costly analysis of the codes department, bullet proof surround for upper management while taxpayers and residents of Pottstown watch in disbelief as our community deteriorates before our eyes. Diligent public employees struggle to do their best with chaos but others could care less about their jobs.  You have taken the path of least resistance, Mr. Toroney.  See above commentary…this also falls under reigning in your employees.

You appointed an ad hoc committee to vet prospective engineer firms who ultimately chose Remington, Veronica and Beach, in March 2012. It is evidenced that you were aware of impropriety in that process yet, you did not speak up.  You went on to support a hasty, questionable expenditure of unbudgeted tax payer money of around $33,000 for an analysis of the codes department by Remington, Veronica and Beach.  Again, I ask, was this the path of least resistance?   This debacle is just unbelievable.  No words.

I believe this poor, struggling community cannot afford you, Mr. Toroney. Your selective interest and support of worthy organizations in Pottstown appears to be based on your personal approval or disapproval of the individuals that comprise their groups.  Despite your disdain, these organizations forge ahead in the challenging roles they have accepted to make Pottstown a better place for all residents.   Why has it been difficult for you to offer encouragement and take an interest in your community?  In this, you have again chosen a path that may have been easy for you but you have made it difficult for many others.   Mr. Toroney’s irrational fear of a certain non-profit organization in Pottstown is just maddening.  This organization can actually list substantial accomplishments that have made Pottstown a better place.  This mentality is very junior high school.  Stop the madness and grow up.

You have failed to advocate for the taxpayers and good citizens of Pottstown and in doing so, you condone the rising crime and disintegration of our community.  Rather than using your position, as Council President, to communicate with Montgomery County and State officials, to keep the concerns of this community in the forefront of their decision-making, you have engaged in conspiracy theories about the Counties intentions toward Pottstown.  And we have been further isolated in our efforts to revitalize.  Pottstown’s potential is enormous.  As I drove down High Street last night from McDonald’s to borough hall I remembered what drew me to live in Pottstown all those years ago.  I like towns better than “burbs”.  I like the hustle and bustle, the diversity, the architecture, the history etc…  When I first moved to Pottstown in 1983 I lived in Valley View Apartments in North Coventry Township.  Less than two years later I moved into the borough and lived on the 200 block of Walnut Street, followed by the 100 block of King Street, the 1400 block of Queen Street and the 900 block of Hale Street.  I CHOSE to live in Pottstown.  Sadly, in 2012 I CHOSE to move out of Pottstown because of crime, blight and the cost of living. 

We’re asking you tonight to step down from service to this community so that an “individual” among you, that council deems qualified, can pick up the pieces, and lead. We desperately need real leaders in Pottstown.   Lead or get out-of-the-way, Mr. Toroney.

Mr. Toroney are you proud of what Pottstown has become?  John Potts is rolling over in his grave on a daily basis over what has been done to his town. 

It’s not too late to save Pottstown but the residents need to start driving the bus and stop being taken for a ride.  Power to the Pottstown People!

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Toroney Touts Tenure On Pottstown Council, Accomplishments – Reads From Prepared Statement

POTTSTOWN, PA – Several dozen people stood in front of Pottstown Borough Hall, before tonight’s council meeting, to protest the rash of violence, including a homicide, that has gripped the borough in the last few weeks.  NBC 10, the Reading Eagle and ace Mercury Reporter, Evan Brandt were all on hand (sorry if I missed anyone).  Motorists honked and shouted encouragement from time to time as the protesters held up signs asking Pottstown Borough Council President Steve Toroney to resign.

Despite the threatening weather, the demonstration went on.  Around 6:30 pm, Mr. Toroney arrived and entered the building by the front door.  He appeared indifferent to the demonstrators.

The meeting started at 7:00 pm with the Call to Order.  For the Invocation, President Toroney briefly spoke about former Pottstown Mayor Anne Jones, who passed away a few days ago.  A moment of silence was then observed for Anne and her family.

The agenda then moved through the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, Approval of Minutes and then Comments from Citizens Present.

The first commenter was well-known Pottstown civic activist, Katy Jackson.  Speaking on behalf of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee, Mrs. Jackson read with emotion from her prepared statement, which outlined in less than five minutes the flawed leadership of President Toroney.  She was interrupted at 4 minutes to tell her she had one minute left and to “wrap it up”.  No other speaker was interrupted.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.

Dianne Krumm, another member of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee echoed much of Mrs. Jackson’s concerns.  She also cited Pottstown Police Chief Richard Drumheller’s goal to reduce crime in Pottstown by 1% when he took office.  She suggested Pottstown ask for help from the state to aid the beleaguered police department.

Cindy Conard, former challenger for the 7th Ward Council seat, stressed the need for conversation and communication between the residents and the borough.  She also mentioned the lack of vision and direction as contributing factors to the frustration of taxpayers.

David Garner, Esquire addressed the 7th Ward Councilor for ignoring his emails (not the first person with this issue).  He again offered his help to the borough, even after being told his help “was not needed and not wanted”.

Several others addressed council with comments like “come live in my neighborhood for a day or a week”, “my property value has dropped $40,000 in 5 years” and “the borough manager rejected my request for an appointment”.

A young woman told a horror story of being abused by an extractive property investor.  His property was inspected by the Pottstown Codes Department, there were major violations yet nothing ever happened to her landlord.  She had no heat for two months and duct tape over the windows and doors to keep the air out, “you could see outside”.  She called the Pottstown Police Department because she was being terrorized, nothing happened.  They were more interested in running her information to see if she had outstanding warrants than they were to protect her from defiant trespass.  She had to go to Norristown to get help and moved before her lease was up.  She rightly wonders why her landlord was not held accountable for the ordinances she found on the borough website and why the police department was not interested in helping her.  Great questions.

The last person who spoke expressed his frustration with being told he, as a taxpayer, is not doing enough to help fight crime in Pottstown.  He is a life-long resident of the borough, an upstanding citizen who does call the police and tries to do the right thing.  Being told he is not doing enough “pisses him off”.  He lives within a block of the recent murder (and a previous murder).  He also mentioned shootings, arson and cars being vandalized in his neighborhood.  Blaming the people who pay your salary is never the way to go.

So after all these taxpayers poured out their hearts to borough council, a red-faced Steve Toroney read a prepared statement touting his 15 ½ years on Council.  Normally politicians can rattle off a list of their accomplishments at the drop of a hat.  Steve is proud of what he has accomplished but did not offer one illustration of any accomplishment in his statement.  Interesting.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.   Mr. Toroney got a “jab” in at former Sixth Ward Councilor, Jody Rhoads in his remarks about not resigning.

The next item was the Mayor’s Report.  The mayor had three talking points.  First she talked about Anne Jones.  That was very nice.  Then she talked about Edgewood Cemetery, at some length.  Basically, it’s abandoned and the borough does not own the property.  The cemetery needs to be maintained… the problem.  Lastly, Sharon addressed crime.  She talked so long the video card filled up and my camera stopped recording.  Sharon did mention the last citizen’s comments in her remarks about crime.

The Borough Manager’s Report was short.  He mentioned the upcoming Pottstown Rumble volleyball tournament and that the hours are changing at borough hall. He did not acknowledge any of the citizens comments.

I left after his remarks.

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Pottstown Residents Speak Up About Recent Violent Crimes

POTTSTOWN, PA — Even before Steven Mitchell was found dead in his car on Jefferson Avenue Thursday night, borough residents were beginning to express concerns about the mini crime wave that has hit Pottstown.

“Pottstown is becoming another Chester, PA,” North Hanover Street resident Dianne Krumm told borough council at its Wednesday night work session.

Since May 30, Pottstown has seen shooting incidents near Brian’s Cafe, a car wash at Wilson and Spruce streets and a man shot in the elbow on Lincoln Avenue, not to mention the attempted robbery of the Wells-Fargo Bank on East High Street.

“I was laying in my bed and I swear I could hear the bullets,” Krumm said. “I want something done about crime.”

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140607/pottstown-residents-speak-up-about-recent-violent-crimes

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The Unfurling Of Cronyism In The Borough Of Pottstown…

Roy:

We feel this post merits re-posting on our site. We feel the time has come for the good people of Pottstown to say ENOUGH ALREADY! Your presence at the demonstration and meeting tomorrow night is essential if the elected leadership is to see people mean business. The only way to send a message is to show up. 10 people at a council meeting sends the signal that the good people of Pottstown are either okie dokie with the way things are run OR that y’all don’t care. We urge you to make the time to attend the meeting tomorrow night. Share your displeasure with the elected leadership. Demand change. You pay very high taxes to live in Pottstown and deserve to feel safe and secure. Power to the Pottstown people!

Our friends at Golden Cockroach write:

Originally posted on :

Back in March, 2012 the Patch online news conducted a survey of Pottstown.  They asked:

“What Keeps Pottstown From Success?”

Survey said:

Crime — 31 percent
Drug gangs — 2 percent
A high rental to private homeowner ratio — 16 percent
Section 8 — 6 percent
Government — 33 percent
Negative thinking and apathy — 6 percent
The need for a commuter train — 0 percent

* This is not a scientific poll*  In my experience it is an accurate representation.  However, when asked, Pottstown officials repeatedly say the biggest problem is NEGATIVITY AND APATHY among Pottstown citizens… 

as exemplified in the comments of Borough Manager/former Chief of Police, Mark Flanders, in this 2010 article.  These sentiments are not unique to Flanders, they are etched into the minds of local officials.  They are passed down, as a torch, to all incoming leaders until it has become the mantra, the…

View original 1,046 more words

The Citizens Action Committee For Pottstown Seeks To Topple Toroney – Usher In New Era Of Safety And Prosperity

The most common type of gun confiscated by pol...

The most common type of gun confiscated by police and traced by the ATF are .38 special revolvers, such as this Smith and Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel. LaPierre, Wayne (1994). Guns, Crime, and Freedom . Regnery Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 0895264773. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA – In response to increased and ongoing violent crime in 2014 (more than 5 gun related crimes since May 18th), THE RESIDENTS OF POTTSTOWN REQUEST THAT COUNCIL PRESIDENT, STEVE TORONEY, STEP DOWN FROM OFFICE.

Statistics bear out the increased crime in our community but the real story lies in the individual experiences of loss and hardship.  There is a vanishing sense of well-being and safety as homeowners lose their homes and all that they have worked for.  Those who remain have lost all confidence in local government.

Montgomery County continues to warehouse their social services population in our community, yet they provide little relief from the results of their actions.   A promise made, to this community to address the “quality of life” issues in Pottstown, by Montgomery County District Attorney Risa V. Ferman has not come to fruition.  Local officials have not held the county responsible nor even asked for answers as to why they continue to overwhelm this community with their disenfranchised population.

Our neighborhoods are not safe.  They are in dangerous shambles, riddled with blight, gang members and others who possess weapons, drugs and display anti-social behaviors.  Yet, Montgomery County continues to fund housing programs that enable and pay negligent income property investors to house people that the county declines to care for.  These investors do not conduct background checks, they fail to register their properties or maintain them, they do not pay taxes nor do they monitor their properties once occupied.  This leaves borough residents exposed and vulnerable.

Taxpaying homeowners/residents are often accused of doing too little to support law enforcement.  In reality we’ve done too little to hold our local officials accountable for the fearful, depleted conditions we find in our neighborhoods.  We have not made them responsible for their failure to advocate for us, to interact and communicate with us, or to include us in seeking solutions.  Monday night we will proclaim the tide is turning.  From this point forward we will hold our elected and paid officials accountable for our diminishing quality of life.

-We ask our elected officials to take a hands-on approach in seeking solutions by working with the paid management that they selected and by holding them accountable for their performance and their interactions with the community. In addition, we ask our elected officials to encourage innovation and measure progress on issues that contribute to crime in Pottstown.

-We ask our elected officials to rid local government of underperforming public servants and to reign in management salaries and expenditures including new cars, iPads, extended paid vacations and other luxuries that we can ill afford.

-We ask our elected officials to acknowledge the reality that many residents in our borough are hardworking people who are trying to raise their families and be good citizens.  Yet, they despair as they watch their investments in this community continue to spiral downward year after year.

Despite the viable options put in place to seek and hire qualified, experienced management from outside the borough, President Toroney’s public conviction was that the right choice for Pottstown was to promote the former Police Chief to Borough Manager and promote the former Police Captain to Police Chief.  We were not fooled.  Today, we most assuredly know that Pottstown is in further decline since those decisions were made.

Today, we ask Steve Toroney to step down as Council President and remove himself from Pottstown Borough Council so that his seat is open to capable, fresh and motivated leadership.  We MUST begin to turn the decline around before we find ourselves facing untenable conditions like those of Camden, N.J. and Detroit.

Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown

Email:  cacptown@gmx.com

Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/SavePottstown

The Citizens Action Committee for Pottstown is organizing a peaceful gathering of residents prior to Monday night’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting (to request the resignation of Pottstown Borough Council President, Steve Toroney).  Borough residents are encouraged to come and take a stand to save Pottstown by participating in the gathering before the meeting and/or by attending the meeting and exercising their right as a Pottstonian to address the council during the allotted time for public comments.  This is your opportunity to stand together and make your voice heard.  

Date:                   Monday, June 9, 2014

Time:                   6:15 pm – The gathering in front of Pottstown Borough Hall

                            7:00 pm – Pottstown Borough Council Meeting begins

                            Council Meeting Room on the 3rd Floor.

Where:               Pottstown Borough Hall – 100 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464

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Gun Violence Escalating In Pottstown, Again…

Warm weather does tend to bring out the criminal element in Pottstown.  Since May 18th there have been a number of incidents of gun violence reported by the Pottstown Mercury and WFMZ-TV.

Here is a recap of what’s been going on:

Armed robbery at the Gulf Station on High Street on May 18th: http://m.wfmz.com/pottstown-armed-robber-on-the-loose/26046054

Student arrested at Pottstown High School, allegedly robs another student at gunpoint on May 28th: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140528/updated-student-arrested-at-pottstown-high-school

Shooting near Brian’s Cafe (scene of a murder last year) on May 31st:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140531/updated-late-night-pottstown-shooting-sends-man-to-hospital

Armed robbery at Wells Fargo Bank on High Street (East End) on May 31st: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140531/updated-high-street-bank-robbed-fbi-seeks-armed-suspect

Police investigating gunshots near Wilson and Spruce Streets on June 2nd: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140602/pottstown-police-investigating-gunshots-near-wilson-and-spruce-streets

Police are investigating a shooting in Pottstown on Chestnut Street on June 3rd: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140603/updated-man-injured-after-shooting-in-pottstown-video

UPDATE: Police are investigating a homicide on Jefferson Avenue in Pottstown on June 5th: https://www.facebook.com/CrimeInPottstown and also the Pottstown Mercuryhttp://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140606/man-found-dead-in-car-in-pottstown

I think the examples above should be some kind of RED FLAG that there is a problem with violent crime in the borough.  And frankly, these are just the big incidents that I could find quickly to illustrate this problem.  A town of 22,480 (2012) should not have this much crime.

People are afraid.  People should expect more for their extremely HIGH TAXES.  If the Pottstown Police Department is overwhelmed then by all means call Harrisburg and ask for some help.  HINT:  Kathleen Kane’s Office for starters.  There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance.  Be proactive instead of reactive.  Maybe “keeping a lid on the powder keg” needs to be replaced with a better strategy?????

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Your Pottstown Tax Dollars At Work

Editor’s Note:  Former Sixth Ward Councilor, Jody Rhoads posted this fine example of the Pottstown Public Works Department’s keen eye for detail when constructing a “curb cut” aka handicapped access ramp.  Imagine trying to get your wheelchair around the poles. Apparently, this didn’t seem like a flawed plan to whomever constructed the ramp? Really?

 

Jody writes “Here is another one where Pottstown’s Public Works wasted you’re money.  What is wrong here?  West St between Charlotte and Evans. Go look at it for yourself.  These are the type of things that need to come out so people can see what Pottstown and its leadership is really all about.  And I’ll bet no one will raise hell at a Council meeting about this! Leadership thinks this is doing a GOOD job?  This one should go VIRAL!”

Feast your eyes on this engineering marvel!  No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke…

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Beech Street Factory: Arts-Based Community Revitalization In Pottstown

The Beech Street Factory is a $12.5-million, 30-year investment in Pottstown’s future. With this project, Genesis Housing Corporation and Housing Visions propose not only to rehabilitate a vacant, prominent building in the Borough’s National Register Historic District, but also to spark renewed focus on the arts in Pottstown.

Pottstown has seen a cultural resurgence in recent years. Decades of hard work by organizations such as ArtFusion, Steel River Playhouse, the Pottstown Area Artists’ Guild, Montgomery County Community College, The Hill School Farnsworth Art Museum, and other arts-oriented organizations have highlighted the importance of cultivating visual, performing, and fine arts in Pottstown. More recently, the formation of CreativeMontCo has solidified county-wide interest in the arts. And ongoing investment by Genesis Housing Corporation, Mosaic Community Land Trust, the National Trust Main Street Program, and the Borough of Pottstown have helped to strengthen the overall quality of life in in the Borough by enhancing the public streetscape and laying the groundwork for further investment.

The Beech Street Factory proposes to capitalize on these long-standing efforts and help take them to the next level. Through their development expertise and knowledge of funding programs, Housing Visions and Genesis are planning to convert the old Fecera’s furniture warehouse into a 60,000-square-foot, mixed-use arts center. The ground floor will include 3,000 square feet of energy-efficient, financially sustainable space for ArtFusion, Pottstown’s long-running and much-loved non-profit community arts center.. And the remainder of the building will provide 43 loft, industrial-style apartments to artists and other interested residents. With 14 unique floor plans, exposed brick walls, plenty of natural light, and amenities including a landscaped courtyard, community room, resident computer lab, elevator, and off-street parking, the Beech Street Factory will provide inspiring spaces for Pottstown’s creative community to call home.

The combination of commercial and residential space will ensure a “24-hour” community at the Beech Street Factory, where the busy hum of ArtFusion students during the day gives way to quiet creativity among individual residents at night. The Beech Street Factory will seek to engage with the larger Pottstown community by hosting gallery events at ArtFusion and in the building’s resident community room and open front porch. Residents will be encouraged through Housing Visions scholarships to take classes at ArtFusion, and similarly, members of ArtFusion may wish to apply for residency at the Factory. Additionally, Housing Visions plans to market the residential units to qualified tenants throughout the region by advertising in local arts publications, print and social media, and at local arts events.

The Beech Street Factory provides the catalyst for a renewed conversation about creating a formal Pottstown Arts District. The developers plan to participate on a new Arts Task Force, supporting the Mosaic Community Land Trust in their effort to create an Artist Relocation Program around homeownership in the Beech Street Neighborhood. Through Housing Tax Credit funding, Housing Visions commits its expertise and resources to help improve the quality of life in Pottstown over the next 30 years. By sharing their extensive experience in creative financing and redevelopment of historic properties, Housing Visions and Genesis hope to foster a renewed, stronger emphasis on neighborhood revitalization and quality of life in Pottstown.

By Heather Schroeder, Development Project Manager, Housing Visions

Editor’s thoughts:  This project is gaining supporters. Here is this list, so far:

U.S. Representative Gerlach

Creative MontCo

ArtFusion

Steel River Playhouse

Genesis

Michael Horn, Architect

We feel this project could be the “game changing” catalyst that will finally propel Pottstown’s Arts Revitalization movement forward. Successful completion of a major project in Pottstown would send the signal to funding agencies, investors and developers that Pottstown is now working together toward a common goal. We urge Pottstown Borough Council to get on board with this project.

The biggest thing holding Pottstown back has been the inability of all parties to find common ground and work together. Now that Housing Visions has gotten on board with Pottstown’s desire to be something more than another dumping ground for Montgomery County’s social service ills, and made significant changes to this project, we feel this version is now worthy of our support as well.

We feel the last paragraph regarding the creation of an “arts district” and an artist relocation program is a key component of this project. We have posted about Oil City‘s artist relocation program and how it has helped transform this much smaller and more remote community in Venango County. Pottstown’s excellent location and easy access to Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lancaster only improve the chances for success.

We think you will see support continue to build from other stakeholders in the Tri-County area. A revitalized Pottstown benefits EVERYBODY in the 19464,19465 zip codes, and beyond.

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