16 Arrested On Drug Charges After Raid On Reading House, Undercover Operation

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

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

Sixteen people were arrested on drug-related charges Wednesday after a search warrant was executed and, in another operation, undercover officers posed as drug dealers.

According to authorities:

City officers obtained the warrant for a house in the 800 block of Muhlenberg Street after receiving complaints about drug sales.

Officers searched the house about 1 p.m. and recovered drug paraphernalia, an electronic surveillance system, money, a personnel schedule and a drug ledger.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140117/NEWS/301179933#.UtlvdfQo6c8

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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

Officials Announce Plans To Apply For Redevelopment Runding For Reading

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

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

The city’s plans to apply for a major revitalization zone went public this morning, as the effort won approval from local business and community groups, county officials and even colleges and state legislators that will collaborate on the effort.

“We’re a team,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat.

“We’re totally committed to work on a united effort to get a proposal in place,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said.

Council and the local businesses clearly are in on the effort, Council President Francis G. Acosta said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515531

Street Signs To Identify Reading’s Centre Park Historic District

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

You may drive through Reading’s Centre Park Historic District and not even know it; no signs mark its boundaries.

That will soon change, thanks to district residents and others who are paying for the signs, and the city, which has agreed to chip in $8,000 in community development money to mount them.

“Centre Park Historic District a great place to call home” say the 18-square-inch signs with an arched top.

“We’ve been talking about it in some form or another for years, but the actual push to get something done began about three months ago,” said Michael Lauter, the district’s executive director.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=513703

Miffed Laureldale Mayor Tells Cops To Stop Writing Tickets

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

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

Laureldale Mayor Fred Feltenberger said he’s angry that borough police officers are ignoring his order to collect more information from people they encounter on patrol.

As punishment, Feltenberger said, he ordered police to stop issuing parking or traffic citations during September.

“If they don’t do the work, they don’t get the reward,” Feltenberger said of the four full-time and four part-time officers.

That work, Feltenberger explained, was his order to stop people on the street, ask their identity and what they are doing in the borough, then fill out contact cards on the people they question.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=510934

Ex-Reading Fire Chief Says Hostile Environment Sparked Resignation

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

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

Former city Fire Chief David W. Hollinger resigned because of what he called a hostile work environment and a pattern of “intimidation, stalking behavior, harassment and threats” from the firefighters union and his own first deputies, according to his resignation letter.

“I now regard this position untenable and must consider the health and safety of my family and resign my position,” Hollinger said in the letter delivered Monday to Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer.  A copy was obtained by the Reading Eagle.

Reached Thursday afternoon, Hollinger said he has hired an attorney.

“A fire chief, like a police chief, takes a hit, but it should never spill over to one’s family,” Hollinger said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=492902

Economic Development Coalition Begins Long Journey To Revive Greater Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

What should Berks County’s economy look like in 10 or 20 years?

That’s what eight economic-development and workforce groups explored when they collaborated on the Ride to Prosperity report three years ago. The group wanted to create a greater Reading where residents are more prosperous and happy to live here, where businesses are more innovative and there’s more opportunities.

To start the work, the group filled the report with specific action items that could be done in three to five years.

Three years later, the group has checked some big items off the weighty to-do list.  Berks Park 78 became shovel-ready and attracted three tenants.  A fast-track development program has moved several projects through an express-lane approval process.  Key players stress the importance of eight economic and municipal groups working together for a common goal: a stronger and prosperous economy.

Read more:  http://businessweekly.readingeagle.com/economic-development-coalition-begins-long-journey-to-revive-greater-reading/

Reading Taking Aim At The Drug Trade

Editor’s note:  Dear Attorney General Kane.  Please zero in on Pottstown (18 miles from Reading).  It is overrun with drug dealers, Section 8 slumlords and has a very high crime rate.  The police force is overwhelmed.

Reading is one of the portals through which much of Pennsylvania is receiving illegal drugs, and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has proposed a plan that she says could help stanch the flow.

“The major source of supply into Harrisburg and Lancaster and York is coming from Reading,” Kane said during an interview with the Reading Eagle at her office in Harrisburg.

Nearing the midway point of her first year in elective office, she said she viewed illegal drugs as the top issue for her in Berks County.  Other pressing issues include child sex predators and consumer protection.  Kane previously worked as a Lackawanna County prosecutor and as an attorney.

Supplies of crack, PCP, heroin or marijuana come to Reading from places such as Arizona, Illinois and New York, with the original major source being Mexico, Kane said.  In Reading, the drugs are repackaged into street-sale quantities and sent out to other parts of Pennsylvania.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=485005

TV Program On Reading’s Future Takes First Place

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

A program produced by WFMZ-TV and Reading Eagle Company took first place in the public affairs category over the weekend at the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association awards banquet for 2012 in Harrisburg.

It was previously announced that “From Poverty to Prosperity: Reading Looks to the Future” finished in the top three in the category for medium-market TV stations, but its exact finish was not announced until the banquet.

The program was a joint effort between print and television media, sponsored by M&T Bank in collaboration with United Way of Berks County and hosted by Reading Area Community College.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=479294

Reading Teen Lied About Fight Details, Police Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

A 17-year-old Reading boy who told police he was attacked by a crowd of youths and nearly hit with a hammer during an after-school melee last week lied about the incident, according to city detectives.

The youth was at least truthful about one part of his story: He was surrounded in City Park by a large group of youths, some of whom carried wooden boards. A video that someone posted to YouTube, however, clearly showed that the crowd was actually cheering on him and another youth as they squared off and then fought, said Sgt. John M. Solecki of the criminal investigations division.

The boy had told officers who arrived and found him bloodied on the ground with an injured left shoulder that he entered the crowd to find his cousin, only to be pulled down, punched and kicked.

“As city police investigated, video footage was found that showed he and another youth were the initial combatants in a mutually agreed-upon fistfight, and during the fistfight he injured his shoulder,” Solecki said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=465325

Nonprofit Group Forming To Reduce Crime In Reading Area

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Editor’s note:  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up to Berks County and the City of Reading for tackling crime head on!

A Reading law firm has begun paperwork to form a new nonprofit group to focus on crime initiatives in much the same way that a private group did in the Altoona area.

The move comes after a January crime summit in which Gov. Tom Corbett urged local leaders to study a Blair County program called Operation Our Town, which was started by business leaders to help fund law enforcement and community efforts to stop young people from becoming criminals.

Daniel B. Huyett, a partner in the Reading law firm Stevens & Lee, said Wednesday that the group will be incorporated as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

That decision was made at a meeting this week among Berks County business leaders with Michael A. Fiore, owner of an Altoona construction company who started Operation Our Town in Blair County after a series of shootings there.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=465771

Reading Eagle Named Top Newspaper In State For Its Size

The Reading Eagle was named the top newspaper of its size in the state, and the newsroom won 20 awards in the Pennsylvania News Media Association’s annual Keystone Press Awards for work published in 2012.

The Eagle was the sweepstakes winner in Division 2, which is for daily newspapers with circulation between 40,000 and 74,999. Each newspaper is awarded sweepstakes points based on the number of awards its staffers won in the contest.

The awards will be presented during a program May 18 in Harrisburg.

Ten of the Eagle’s awards were for first place. Winners were reporters Dave Mekeel, Jamie Klein and Bruce Posten; sportswriter Mike Drago, Assistant Photo Editor Ben Hasty; graphic designers Tad Ronnie and Craig Schaffer, Assistant Metro Editor Bill Reber and the staff of Voices, which is edited by Stacie Jones.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=463196

Fired West Reading Police Chief Seeks To Return To Work

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

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

West Reading‘s fired police chief could be returning to the streets as a patrolman under terms being negotiated, borough officials have confirmed.

Ex-Chief Edward C. Fabriziani was slated to appear before the borough’s Civil Service Commission tonight for a hearing seeking reinstatement and back pay.

That hearing, however, has been postponed to allow for further negotiations, Fabriziani’s attorney, Kevin A. Moore, has confirmed.

A Jan. 15 letter from Moore to West Reading solicitor Daniel C. Becker, obtained by the Reading Eagle and confirmed by two borough officials, outlines terms being discussed.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=444948

Reading Crime Summit Yields Plan

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

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

Editor’s note:  Look what happens when people get together to work on a problem!  Reading needs to be the focus.

The cause of curtailing violent crime in Reading and Berks County got a push forward Friday afternoon as more than 100 public and private leaders conducted a long-awaited crime summit.

Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey were among the participants in the closed-door session held at the Crowne Plaza Reading in Wyomissing.

Lasting two hours and 15 minutes, the summit produced a five-point set of initiatives that county officials pledged to pursue immediately.  Those ranged from strengthening county-city cooperation to a fact-finding trip to learn about a community program in Altoona.

Berks District Attorney John T. Adams and Christian Y. Leinbach, county commissioners chairman, were at the center of preparations for the summit.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=444689

Reading Crime Summit Set For Jan. 18; Corbett Commits

Editor’s note:  This is great news!  We think Mark Flanders needs to be there too since Pottstown’s problems are a result of drugs and crime moving between Reading and Philadelphia.

Months of talk about scheduling a crime summit in Reading culminated Monday afternoon when staffers of Gov. Tom Corbett said he would be available to attend Jan. 18, and local officials immediately set about planning the summit.

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said the inability to pin down a date with Corbett had slowed planning.  The original call for the summit was issued in May in a front-page editorial in the Reading Eagle.

“We finally got a date,” Spencer said.

Invitees will include all federal and state lawmakers who represent Berks, county commissioners, city Police Chief William M. Heim, representatives of federal agencies like the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=434351

Governor Seen As Key To Reading Crime Summit

Editor’s note:  While you are at it, include Pottstown.  The crime rate is just as bad as Reading!

As Berks County residents digest the latest spate of violence in Reading, retailer Albert R. Boscov has taken center stage in the protracted effort to pull together a crime summit.

Boscov said Wednesday that it was crucial for both federal and state officials – preferably Gov. Tom Corbett – to take part in the proposed group discussion of Reading’s crime problems.  He said both U.S. Sens. Bob Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey have agreed to take part and that he was working to secure Corbett’s participation.

“I think he will come,” Boscov said.

A spokeswoman for Corbett said Wednesday night that he had not been invited to a summit but was open to the concept.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=433457

Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer Fined For 5 Illegal Hirings

The city Charter Board has fined Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer $1,000 for illegally hiring five assistants not approved by City Council as the charter requires.

Spencer has appealed the fine to Berks County Court, but at the request of attorneys for both sides, President Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl sealed the ruling and the appeal documents.

The city ordinance governing the Charter Board requires its rulings to be kept confidential until the targets exhaust their appeals.

However, a copy of the board’s ruling was obtained by the Reading Eagle.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432492

Reading School District Lays Off 87 More Employees

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

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

Nearly 90 more furlough notices have been handed out to Reading School District employees.

Karen B. Gokay, director of human resources, Thursday confirmed that 65 teaching assistants and 22 secretaries have been formally told they will not have jobs with the district next school year. It is unclear exactly when the layoffs will take effect.

“It’s such a devastating blow for the people being furloughed,” said Charlene Weiser, president of the teaching assistant union, adding that the cuts will negatively affect students. “That’s 65 less assistants in classrooms.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=393224

Reading Schools Budget Fiasco Blamed On Mismanagement

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

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

It’s easy to see that the Reading School District has some major problems.

A $53 million budget gap. Claims of nepotism and favoritism. Local, state and federal investigations.

But how far does the dysfunction go?

The Reading Eagle has conducted an investigation of the district leadership, looking at issues ranging from finances to contracts to hiring practices. The results show a pattern of behavior that is at best neglectful and wasteful.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=383087

2010 Crime Stats Released For Berks County And Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Image via Wikipedia

The 2010 crime statistics for Berks County and the City of Reading have been released.  The stats show a drop in violent crime but a rise in property crimes (probably due in part to the recession).  The city and county also showed a decrease in the overall number of crimes reported.

The report is a mixed bag of news as violent crime is on the rise in Berks county but decreasing in the City of Reading.  To read the article from the Reading Eagle, click here: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=336977