Reading Royals To Be Sold To Berks Businessman

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

The Reading Royals will be sold to Berks County businessman Jack D. Gulati, officials involved in the deal announced today.

Gulati said he plans to keep the Kelly Cup winners in Reading and based out of the Santander Arena.

He has agreed to buy 100 percent of the team shares. Ownership had been split between the Berks County Convention Center Authority and SMG, the company that operates the arena.

The sale is contingent on EHCL, formerly East Coast Hockey League, approval.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/news/article/reading-royals-to-be-sold-to-berks-businessman#.Uv-jHPRDsxI

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Storm Topples Trees Throughout Berks, Causing Power Outages

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

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

The heaviest precipitation that will hit Berks County today is over, but the storm has toppled numerous trees in the area, blocking roadways and causing power outages.

Nearly 9,000 customers are without power in the Met-Ed and PPL service areas in Berks.

As of 10 a.m., Met-Ed reported there were 5,500 outages in Reading and eastern and northern Berks, while PPL reported 3,200 customers were without power in Wyomissing, western Berks and the Morgantown area in southern Berks.

PPL reported 60,679 of its customers in a 16-county area of the state were affected by outages, while Met-Ed’s parent company, FirstEnergy, said there were 78,000 Pennsylvania customers affected.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/news/article/storm-topples-trees-throughout-berks-causing-power-outages#.UvKMBWOPKM8

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Auditor General: Reading School District’s Efforts To Fix Problems ‘Ridiculous’

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

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

Eight months ago, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale lambasted the Reading School District.

In an audit report that he called the worst ever of a school district in Pennsylvania, he derided the district’s leadership, financial management and ability to provide students with a quality education. He said if things didn’t change quickly, there would be a more than strong chance the state would take the district over.

On Friday, DePasquale was back in town to provide an update. The story wasn’t much better.

“It is, again, not a pretty picture,” he said during a press conference at the Reading State Office Building.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140118/NEWS/301189948#.Utqg8PQo6c8

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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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Spencer, City Council To Discuss Reading Water System Options

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

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

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer and City Council will explore a more-lucrative lease or the possible sale of the water system to help Reading avoid its looming fiscal cliff.

Those two options are among several that could help close a $15 million budget gap that will open each year beginning in 2015.

In a three-page memo given to council at an executive session Monday, Spencer requested both sides jointly begin what he called a comprehensive and objective assessment of all the city’s options.

“These are things we can’t do without the support of council; they have to be part of it,” Spencer said later.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140117/NEWS/301179948/1052#.UtltFfQo6c8

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Spate Of Taxi And Food-Delivery Robberies Leads To Caution And Anxiety In Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

You can forgive taxi drivers and food-delivery drivers if they’re a bit jumpy of late.

Five drivers, including two cabbies and three food-delivery workers, have been robbed in the city over a one-week span through Thursday night, according to Reading police.

They were all approached after they pulled up to a specific address to pick up a fare or deliver food at night, police said.

Both cab drivers and a food delivery driver were robbed in the 1200 block of Moss Street.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20140111/NEWS/301119955#.UtFqZPRDsxI

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Spotlight’s Off, But Reading’s Challenges Remain

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

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

The journey to tell a television Christmas story in poverty-stricken Reading began two summers ago in holiday-decorated Hope Lutheran Church on North Front Street.

A national TV audience, estimated at more than 1.4 million homes, observed the 2012 Christmas Eve broadcast of “One Christmas Story: People Rich in Spirit,” a production of Odyssey Networks, a New York-based multifaith media coalition.

It was a story designed to depict Reading’s hope and faith amid economic challenges. At the time, it sparked energy and excitement.

But, one year later, at Christmas 2013, many of the city’s social challenges remain unchanged.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131222/NEWS/312229955/1052#.UrbPPPRDsxI

After Brief Uncertainty, Reading Pagoda Fireworks Will Happen On New Year’s Eve

Picture 511A little more than a week after City Council finalized a deal with the Pagoda Foundation to run the Reading landmark, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer on Thursday afternoon vetoed the agreement.

His move involves money transfers to the foundation, and the move temporarily put the Pagoda’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show into question over liability issues. But after a meeting of foundation members Thursday evening, Chairman Lee C. Olsen said the fireworks will go on.

The foundation has been running the programs at the Pagoda the last two years without an agreement. The group had been asking the city to approve the pact before the New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration, in which the foundation has a part.

Meanwhile, City Council President Francis C. Acosta said he has called for a special meeting of council early next week to override the mayor’s veto.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131220/NEWS/312209955/1052#.UrR4KfRDsxI

Groundbreaking Set For Reading Hotel And Convention Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Albert R. Boscov was excitedly making and receiving countless phone calls in his Exeter Township office Monday after getting word that the last of the financing for a downtown hotel and convention center was finally in place.

He immediately began making plans to break ground Friday at 11:30 a.m. in the 700 block of Penn Street across from the Santander Arena.

“It’s been a long wait but we got it,” Boscov said.

The renowned retailer has been working on the block-long, four-star hotel, which will cost at least $56 million, since 2007.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131217/NEWS/312169896/1052#.UrDeuPRDsxI

Local Chef Signs On At The Abraham Lincoln Hotel In Reading

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay most likely had bigger challenges for chef Andrea J. Heinly on Season 5 of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” but serving 160 French tourists carved top round in her new job as banquet chef at the Abraham Lincoln hotel definitely was top of the list of her new challenges.

“I didn’t know a lick of French,” Heinly said.

The French tour group is just the beginning of what’s in store for the 37-year-old Reading resident.

Heinly’s goal, she said, is to make the Abe the best place in Reading, the top banquet facility.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131214/MONEY/312149985#.UqyRsfRDsxI

Conference Generates Ideas For Tackling Poverty In Reading

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present)

, U.S. Congressman (R-Pennsylvania, 1997-present) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fatherless families, a lack of jobs and school dropout rates contribute to poverty and local economic conditions, U.S. Rep. Joseph R. Pitts said Monday.

“Families with fathers and mothers are the best anti-poverty program,” said the Chester County Republican, whose district includes Reading. “Saying these simple things can land you in all kinds of trouble.”

He was speaking at a conference on economic inequality that he organized at Reading Area Community College.

In an interview afterward, Pitts listed some points raised during the four-hour event that he will pursue.

“We will come up with some projects,” Pitts said.

While some of the 75 political, business and nonprofit leaders who participated agreed with Pitts’ points, several made their own arguments for improving the economy in Reading, where the 2012 poverty rate of 40.5 percent made it the second most impoverished city in the country behind Detroit.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131210/NEWS/312109974/1052#.UqeN0fRDsxI

Reading School Board Member Karen McCree Says She’ll Resign

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

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

Following a tumultuous reorganization meeting earlier in the week, longtime Reading School Board member Karen H. McCree has resigned from her position.
McCree said she submitted her resignation to board president Rebecca Acosta Wednesday. The school board released a statement about McCree’s resignation Friday.

Acosta and McCree have butted heads at recent public meetings. The tussle escalated to a heated shouting match at Monday’s reorganization meeting, when Acosta was named president.

McCree just began her 15th year as a member of the school board. Her last board meeting will be Dec. 18 and her resignation will take effect Jan. 3.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and there have been some other reasons that I’ve decided that now is the time,” McCree said of her decision Friday.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131207/NEWS/312079964/1052#.UqNbcPSgnuI

Centre Park Rolls Out Welcome Mats For Christmas House Tour

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Reading, PA - Doug and Dia Fell were decorating their home for the holidays last week. Some lights and garlands to highlight the staircase, a few of the long-used holiday ornaments from years past here and there and, of course, the festooned tree in the living room.

“It’s the usual stuff, nothing special,” Dia said, sounding calm and collected even though she’s expecting a throng of visitors this weekend.
She’s going to let the house speak for itself.

The Fell’s home in the 300 block of Douglass Street is one of the many scheduled stops on the self-guided tour of private residences and other buildings in the Centre Park Historic District.

The 29th Christmas House Tour and Champagne Brunch, to be held Sunday, is a major annual fundraiser for the preservation group in the city neighborhood of homes, many of which are more than a century old, surrounding the park in the 700 block of Centre Avenue.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131205/WEEKEND/312059991#.UqC1w7B3uM8

18 From Berks Arrested, 8 More Sought On Drug Trafficking Charges

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Eighteen mid- to low-level drug dealers were arrested Wednesday during a roundup by detectives from the district attorney’s drug task force, Reading police and the sheriff’s department.  In addition to those arrested, detectives have arrest warrants for eight others.

The arrests culminated a nearly yearlong investigation that began with complaints from residents and tips from informants, authorities said.

The suspects sold small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana to undercover detectives, authorities said.

Undercover detectives arranged transactions with the dealers for amounts ranging from $50 to $2,870 between January and this week, County Chief Detective Michael J. Gombar said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131205/NEWS/312059917#.UqCzmLB3uM8

Reading Fighting Hard For Redevelopment Designation

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said his staff knew they were in for a fight if they were going to beat out other Pennsylvania cities for two City Revitalization and Improvement Zone designations.

Today, Spencer said an application for the designation had been submitted and it was time to take the gloves off.

“It was a Herculean task from the start,” Spencer told a gathering in the former Citizens Bank building near the corner of Fifth and Penn streets.

Guidelines for the grants were issued Oct. 31, leaving only weeks to select an authority to oversee the CRIZ program; chose the 129 acres comprising 260 parcels; draw up a redevelopment strategy for the zone; and draft an application. The designation will allow the authority to take state and local taxes generated by properties in the zone and reinvest them in properties in the zone.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131203/NEWS/312029867#.Up5KB7B3uM8

Reading School Board Meeting Devolves Into Shouting Match

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

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

It didn’t take long for the newest incarnation of the Reading School Board to spectacularly explode.

There were accusations and gavel banging. There were angrily mumbled threats. And there was a whole lot of screaming and yelling.

What started as a welcoming of the board’s newest members Monday night quickly devolved into a heated shouting match, pitting newly elected board president Rebecca Acosta versus long-time board member Karen H. McCree.

The tinder was set early during the board’s annual re-organizational meeting, with McCree questioning the two presidential candidates – Acosta and incumbent president Pierre V. Cooper – about their leadership experience and plans for the future.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article/20131203/NEWS/312039892#.Up5IVLB3uM8

2 Of 3 Men Charged With Attempted Reading Murder Still At Large

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

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

Two of the three men charged earlier this month with attempted murder and conspiracy in the 2011 ambush shooting of a man in his car in northeast Reading remain at large, authorities said Friday.

Police said they are seeking information on the whereabouts of Luis Jimenez Jr., 31, of the 1200 block of Pike Street and Jonathan Gonzalez, 27, of the 600 block of Bingaman
Street.

Criminal Investigator Eric B. Driesbach on Nov. 8 obtained arrest warrants for them and a third man, Tai-Mare L. Mercado, 24, in the June 22, 2011, shooting at 11th and Spring streets. Investigators said eyewitness accounts and DNA evidence recovered from sweatshirts that the suspects left behind while running from the scene linked the men to the shooting.

Police arrested Mercado on Nov. 12 in his residence of the 500 block of Lancaster Avenue.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520556

Reading School Board Fires Its Superintendent

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

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

Editor’s note:  Who didn’t see this coming?  “Indefinite sick leave…”  What a hot mess.

The short but rocky relationship between the Reading School Board and superintendent Dr. Carlinda Purcell has come to an end.

The board voted Tuesday night to fire Purcell, effective today. Substitute superintendent Karen B. Gokay will take over as acting superintendent.

Purcell is in the second year of a five-year contract. She was paid $175,000 annually.

The board ousted Purcell by a 6-3 vote. Rebecca Acosta, Isamac-Torres Figueroa and Robert Heebner voted no.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520360

Reading City Council Adopts $84 Million Budget; Most Taxes Remain Unchanged

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

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

City Council on Monday approved a 2014 budget of $84.4 million that leaves most tax rates the same, but puts about $1.5 million into a contingency fund that may be needed to pay for its recycling program.

Council also voted 6-1 to turn down Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s request to switch to a land-value tax that he said would spur economic development.

Councilman Jeffrey S. Waltman Sr. voted for the move, which Spencer had called his signature initiative.

The land-value tax would have lowered the tax rate on each property’s buildings by 20 percent a year until it’s entirely eliminated, but make up for that by raising the tax rate on land.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520206

State To Cover Cost Of BARTA, Red Rose Management Pact

English: BARTA bus in downtown Reading, Pennsy...

English: BARTA bus in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania, July 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The state has agreed to cover the cost of the management pact between BARTA and Lancaster’s Red Rose Transit Authority, BARTA directors learned Monday.

That means PennDOT will pick up the $60,000 tab BARTA agreed to pay Red Rose for a six-month management contract approved last month. BARTA only has to put up $1,800 in matching funds to get the grant.

The agencies are testing whether it makes sense to share management.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=520180