RRTA, Berks Transit Merger Complete

It is the state’s largest transit merger, and it is now official.

Lancaster County officials and Red Red Rose Transit Authority leaders took a little trip just over the Berks County line Thursday morning to meet with their Berks counterparts — and celebrate a transit consolidation nearly a year in the making.

They have established the new South Central Transit Authority to oversee both the Lancaster-area RRTA and the Berks Area Regional Transit Authority.

The RRTA name and logo on buses, as with BARTA in Berks, will not change, and the public may not notice much of a difference, transit official David Kilmer said Thursday, “We’re on a good track, and ready to move forward,” said Kilmer, who was named executive director of the new SCTA, which will oversee operations of both RRTA and BARTA.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/rrta-berks-transit-merger-complete/article_dc4c0840-817c-11e4-b535-1b031a28a372.html

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Ring In 2015 At The Abraham Lincoln Hotel, Reading

Ticket and Room Packages for New Year’s Eve
Call 484-416-1223
PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE AND A HOTEL REPRESENTATIVE WILL RETURN YOUR CALL TO CONFIRM PACKAGE.
General Admission Ticket – $20 ( available soon )
Package info: All packages include ticket (tickets) to the show.
Single person for Buffet and Open Bar – $65
Per couple packages :
Couple for Buffet and Open Bar – $100
Classic Room and Buffet / Open Bar- $200
Executive Suite Room and Buffet / Open Bar – $235
2 room Suite and Buffet / Open Bar – $270
Jacuzzi Suite and Buffet / Open Bar – $300

Abraham Lincoln Hotel New Years

 

York Mayor Kim Bracey: 5 Game Changers That Could Save York (Column)

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting York County

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

As the 2015 budget season approaches, it is my duty to talk straight about our city’s fiscal challenges and pension legacy costs that have been growing since before the turn of this century. While laying out the dire conditions, leadership requires us to hold out meaningful hope by advocating for bold measures. Long term fiscal game-changers can stabilize our property taxes while enabling us to continue providing quality public services and infrastructure that our people deserve and demand.

At times, I feel like a night watchman of earlier centuries who witnesses a spreading fire and vigorously shouts and rings the bell to alert citizens of the imminent crisis. During the last two city administrations, we’ve been warning of the growing fiscal crisis for 13 years, and we’ve done as much as we can internally to make our budget process transparent, to seek sound recommendations from outside experts, to cut costs, and to be fiscally responsible. The list is extensive.

• In 2003, under Mayor Brenner, our city initiated its first open budget hearings, an annual tradition that continues to this year.

• In 2006, our city was one of the very first in the state to enter the Department of Economic and Community Development’s Early Intervention Program, which provided an analysis of York’s finances by outside experts. Their analysis concluded that York’s financial controls and management were strong but that systemic constraints beyond its control were leading to out-of-control costs. Recommendations included implementing a parking tax, which was done.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/letters/ci_26165619/kim-bracey-5-game-changers-that-could-save

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