The Brick House Versus The Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority

It never ceases to amaze me how The Fishwrap inserts itself into Pottstown’s affairs.  There is a fine line between reporting the news and “creating” the news.

The most recent article about the dispute between PDIDA and Brick House owner Dave Walsh is a sterling example of taking a bad situation and making it worse, under the guise of “the public has a right to know”.  The article is slanted in favor of PDIDA and against one of the most successful merchants downtown.  It paints an unflattering picture of Dave Walsh.

I have read the study on the use of opera and classical music to remove vagrants from business districts.  I agree it was worth a try.  I also understand business owners have a right to their opinion, even if that opinion disagrees with PDIDA.  Without business owners there would be no PDIDA.  Frankly, downtown Pottstown is in the worst shape I have ever seen it; since moving here in 1983.  Antagonizing and bad-mouthing Dave Walsh is spitting in the face of one of the few reasons to even go downtown.

I interviewed Dave Walsh a while back and found him to be one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met.  He answered all my questions, he was forthright, polite, genuine in his desire to help Pottstown and was a pleasure to talk with.  It was the first conversation I ever had with him.  He was a wealth of information.  Instead of pissing him off, maybe PDIDA should pick his brain and find out why and how he is so successful!  He readily shared that information with me.

As for Bonnie trying to mediate this “crisis” I LOL!  Bonnie is firmly on the side of PDIDA, or should I say her agenda. 

Andrew Monastra had the only sensible comments that were reported.  And trust me Andrew, you are right on when you say Dave has valid points which are not personally driven.  Dave Walsh could be a great asset to PDIDA.  He is already a great asset to Pottstown.

As for the loitering problem downtown…we do have a police department, don’t we???  We have laws on the books.  As usual we don’t use our existing tools to solve problems.  The only way to turn Pottstown around is to clean it up.  The police department is a key part of the equation.  Playing opera only keeps undesirables away while the music is playing.  We need to send a clear message that we will not tolerate this behavior on our streets and that can only be done by enforcing the law.  Private citizens can not do that.

I really do applaud PDIDA for trying something.  Sometimes things do not work, for a variety of reasons, and we need to regroup and move on.  Demonizing Dave Walsh is neither productive nor proper.  Dave is not the problem here.  You should extend an olive branch and tap into what Dave knows.

Corbett Signs Legislation To Allow Harrisburg Financial Takeover

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has signed legislation that will allow a state takeover of Harrisburg’s financial affairs. The capital of Pennsylvania is drowning in debt from a failed retrofit of the city’s incinerator.  Harrisburg is over $300 million in debt. 

Harrisburg was accepted into the Act 47 Program for financially distressed municipalities but City Council failed to authorize the recommendations made by the Act 47 team.  Neither was the city able to come up their own plan to emerge from certain bankruptcy.  

Disgusted with the inability of city leadership to move forward, Pennsylvania State Senator Jeff Piccola introduced legistion to allow the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to take control of Harrisburg’s finances.  This legislation was signed by the governor this morning.

Manufacturing Activity In Metropolitan Philadelphia Rebounding

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Manufacturing grew in the Philadelphia region in October after contracting for two straight months, a sign factories are recovering after a sluggish summer.

An index of regional manufacturing activity jumped to 8.7 from -17.5 in September, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said Thursday. It marked the best reading in six months. A positive reading suggests growth…

Deposed Lybian Despot, Moammar Kadafi Reported Killed

REPORTING FROM BEIRUT — Libya’s provisional prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said Thursday that ousted leader Moammar Kadafi has been killed.

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Jibril told a news conference in the capital, Tripoli, according to the Associated Press. “Moammar Kadafi has been killed.”…

Read the entire article: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/10/libya-prime-minister-says-moammar-kadafi-is-dead.html

Sondheim’s “Merrily” At Muhlenberg‏

Merrily We Roll Along‘ takes audiences backwards through a life in the arts

Wistful and innovative, Sondheim musical opens Oct. 28 at Muhlenberg College Theatre & Dance

Allentown, Pa. (Oct. 17, 2011) — When “Merrily We Roll Along,” the wistful 1981 musical by Stephen Sondheim, opens Oct. 28 at Muhlenberg College, it will take audiences on a journey through time, as many musicals do. The difference is that “Merrily’s” audiences will be journeying backwards, following a group of artists from the end of their long friendship, at the beginning off the show, to their first moments together, at the show’s end.

Rueful and nostalgic, the show explores the lure of show business and the price of success, says director James Peck, chair of the college’s Theatre & Dance Department. Also, he says, the importance of having a network of friends to remaining grounded and connected to what matters.

“It’s a cautionary tale about how not to screw up your life in the arts,” Peck says. “It’s inspiring and heartbreaking, and it contains some of Sondheim’s most irresistible songs.”

The second production in the department’s 2011-12 mainstage season, “Merrily We Roll Along” plays Oct. 28 through Nov. 6 in the college’s Baker Center for the Arts. Because of the college’s Family Weekend programs, tickets will be scarce for Oct. 28-30.

“Merrily” features music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by George Furth, Sondheim’s collaborator on the earlier hit musical “Company.” The show’s musical score received rave reviews, and features the Broadway standards “Good Thing Going,” “Not a Day Goes By” and “Our Time.”

The show tells the story of composer and film producer Franklin Shepard and his two closest friends, playwright Charley Kringas, Shepard’s lifelong collaborator, and novelist Mary Flynn. The trio begin their careers full of idealism and ambition–and they find success, but not necessarily fulfillment. The play moves backwards through their personal and professional milestones–starting with a disastrous opening-night party for Shepard’s uninspired new movie, and journeying back to a rooftop at dawn, at the start of a friendship and a career.

“The play is about being a middle-aged person, and the struggles of staying true to your vision,” Peck says. “It’s also about being a very young person, just starting out in the world, with a certain vision of yourself and of the kind of artist you’ll turn out to be.

“I’m in one stage of that journey, and I remember the other,” he says. “And my cast are still very much at the beginning of that journey, looking forward to their careers. And that’s the heartbreak, in a way. Some young artists will of course go on to have splendid careers, and some will be disappointed, but certainly none will have exactly the careers they envision for themselves. That vision can be hard to let go of, and looking back, can be hard to come to terms with.”

Choreographer Jeremy Arnold, a senior dance major at Muhlenberg, says that the play resonates especially strongly for him as a young artist.

“It’s very much about the choices we make in our lives,” Arnold says. “And it’s very applicable to where we are as students. I can identify with the characters as an artist about to start my career.”

Senior Andrew Clark concurs. In his portrayal of Charley Kringas, he says he has found himself thinking about his own decisions, and wondering what effects they might have down the road.

“Every decision we make resonates out like ripples in a pond,” Clark says. “We are shown how things resonate with and affect others without our being aware of it. This show is very sad, but there is an inherent sense of hope in our production because, like our characters at the end, we’re all so young.”

“Merrily’s” backwards-running structure is also reflected in its musical score, according to musical director Ken Butler. Shepard composes a musical theme early in his life that becomes the basis for several later compositions, and Butler says that sharp-eared patrons will hear that theme develop backwards as the play progresses.

“The glory of the reversal is when the audiences has those ‘a-ha’ moments,” Butler says. “It’s a process of excavation, and it’s always a jolt.”

The Sunday, Nov. 6 performance at 2 p.m. will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing and Audio Description for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. Tickets are available at a reduced rate to patrons who require these services. To purchase tickets for OC or AD services at the Nov. 6 performance, contact Jess Bien at boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu or 484-664-3087.

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department is the top-rated college performance program in the country, according to the Princeton Review‘s 2012 survey report. Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa, offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance.

“Merrily We Roll Along” runs Oct. 28 to Nov. 6. Opening-weekend performances are: Friday, Oct. 28, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 29, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.  The second week of performances are Wednesday through Saturday, Nov. 2-5, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Nov. 6, at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20; patrons 17 and under, $8; students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges, $7. For groups of 15 or more, tickets are $15. Performances are in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew Street, Allentown.

Tickets and information: 484-664-3333 or http://www.muhlenberg.edu/theatre

Beer Brewing Demonstration At Pottsgrove Manor

Pottstown, Pennsylvania—On Saturday, November 5th from 11:00am to 3:00pm, visitors to Pottsgrove Manor will learn how beer was made in the colonial era with the program “…the common Family Way of Brewing.”

Brewing beers of various strengths was often part of the colonial housewife’s responsibilities. Her aim was to produce healthful, palatable drinks to suit the size and needs of her family. In this program, food historian Dr. Clarissa F. Dillon will demonstrate historical home-brewing using authentic 18th-century beer recipes.

There is a $2 per person suggested donation for the program. This program is being held in conjunction with Pottsgrove Manor’s current exhibit, “Spirituous Liquors and Healthful Distillations: Alcohol in Colonial America.” Guided tours of the exhibit will be offered on the hour during the program.

The exhibit can also be viewed during a guided tour of Pottsgrove Manor during regular museum hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. & Sunday, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Tours are given on the hour; last tour of the day begins as 3:00 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Groups of 10 or more should pre-register by calling 610.326.4014.

Pottsgrove Manor, home of John Potts, colonial ironmaster and founder of Pottstown, is located at100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422, in Pottstown,Pennsylvania.  Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery County under the direction of the Parks and Heritage Services Department. 

For more information and a full calendar of events, visit us on the web at http://historicsites.montcopa.org/pottsgrovemanor.

Pottstown’s Newest Breakfast Spot – Ice House!

Ice House recently started serving breakfast.  This morning I made a spur of the moment visit and must confess that it was excellent!  I have eaten at Ice House for years and have always enjoyed their food, so I was expecting big things from breakfast and was not disappointed.

Ice House hired a new breakfast chef and came up with a pretty comprehensive breakfast menu.  My friend and I both ordered the same thing but with variations.  One of the best deals on the menu is their combination platter.  Two eggs (any style), two pancakes or pieces of French toast, two strips of bacon or sausage patties and toast (white, wheat or rye).  There was so much food we each had two plates!  I had scrambled eggs, sausage patties, rye toast and French toast.  My friend had eggs over easy, bacon, French toast and either white or wheat toast.

The French toast is made with two thick slices of brioche.  The sausage patties are huge, made fresh and the bacon is thick sliced.  You also get your choice of homemade jam for your toast (strawberry, blueberry or raspberry).  I had strawberry and my friend had blueberry…OMG!  A breakfast fit for a king or queen, for only $7.99!

In addition to what we ordered, there are breakfast sandwiches, omelets, breakfast scrambles, eggs Benedict, creamed chipped beef and the list goes on and on.  Another homemade delight on the menu is donuts.  My friend had one with breakfast and took six home.  $2.49 for a half-dozen and $4.99 a dozen.  She said the donut was excellent!

Between adding breakfast and the new remodel, Ice House is poised to be around for another 20 years.  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up for price, quality and quantity.  If you have not already tried Ice House for breakfast I hope you will give them a try.  I do not think you will be disappointed.

Ice House Steaks & Pizza

Corner of King and Manatawny Streets

Pottstown, PA  19464

Voice (610) 326-9999

Internet  http://icehousedelivers.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82:breakfast-ice-house&catid=30:themenu&Itemid=78

Pippin Opens At Pottstown’s Tri-County Performing Arts Center

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PIPPIN (musical)
Oct 13 – 30, 2011

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; Book by Roger O. Hirson  
Presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International
Stage Director, John Moletress; Music Director, Deborah Stimson-Snow

Parental Guidance Suggested*
PLEASE NOTE: there is no performance Saturday, Oct 15. Instead, there is an additional matinée on Saturday, Oct 19.

PIPPIN is the tongue-in-cheek, anachronistic fairy tale that captivated Broadway audiences and continues to appeal to the young at heart everywhere. Pippin is a young prince who longs to discover the secret of true happiness and fulfillment. He seeks it in the glories of the battlefield, the temptations of the flesh and the intrigues of political power. In the end, he finds it in the simple pleasures of home and family. The energetic pop-influenced score bursts with one show-stopping number after another, from soaring ballads to infectious dance numbers. PIPPIN is by three-time Oscar®-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz, the creator of the Broadway hits WICKED and GODSPELL, and the animated films POCAHONTAS, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, among many other musicals!

An opening weekend review by the Pottstown Mercury – http://www.pottsmerc.com/articles/2011/10/15/entertainment/srv0000014574205.txt?viewmode=default

The Tri-PAC & Village Productions  

PO Box 1325

245 E. High Street

Pottstown, PA 19464

Voice – (610) 970-1199

Internet – http://www.villageproductions.org/index.htm

High Street Bridge Progress In Pottstown

Here are the latest and greatest (haha) pictures of the High Street Bridge construction in Pottstown.  As you can see, the Manatawny has been completed spanned and the deck is being laid.  The project is actually moving ahead well considering the awful weather for the last several months, including flooding! 

CNA Insurance To Move Operations Out Of Reading

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CNA Insurance said Thursday that the company plans to move its operations from its building at 401 Penn St. to another location in Berks County.

Mayor Tom McMahon confirmed that the insurance company officials told him they want to move to smaller quarters because only 25 percent of the building is in use, so it has become difficult for the company to support it financially…

Read the rest of the article here: http://readingeagle.com/Article.aspx?id=339019

Taylor Swift Pays It Forward – Donates Books To Reading Library

Wyomissing native and music superstar Taylor Swift has not forgotten where she came from.  The singer donated 6,000 new books to the Reading Public Library that will hopefully inspire children to read.  The books will be equally divided between the library’s branches.  Two Roy’s Rants thumbs up for giving back to your community!

To read the entire article, click here: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=339089

America’s Disappearing Restaurant Chains

There is a school of thought that says the restaurant business is always a good business because people need to eat. A glance at the sales of many of America’s largest restaurant chains over the past decade quickly dispels that myth.

Using data provided by food industry research firm Technomic, 24/7 Wall St. has looked at the 10 restaurant chains with the greatest decline is sales from 2001 to 2010. In every case, sales have fallen 60% or more…

To find out who the 10 chains are, click here: http://money.msn.com/business-news/latest.aspx?post=3b851ddb-d3b2-4867-92a3-07abc068523b

D&B Eyes Allentown For New Corporate Headquarters

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D&B (formerly Dun & Bradstreet) is looking at options when their lease expires in Short Hills, NJ.  D&B has their corporate headquarters in Short Hills and employs about 600 people there.  Having this company move their headquarters to Allentown would mean bringing $76 million a year in salaries to the Lehigh Valley.  There is some speculation on exactly where they might move, however, one possible site would be the new $60 million office/retail/residential complex planned for downtown Allentown.

Currently D&B has 650 workers in Upper Saucon Township at the Stabler Center.  The move would double the number of D&B employees in the Lehigh Valley.

Former Bethlehem Church Eyed As Arts Redevelopment Project

The City of Bethlehem has figured out that the arts can bring economic development.  Many projects have already sprung up in Bethlehem that are having a major impact on the city.  This project is another example of adaptive re-use and the benefits of involving the arts.

The former St. Stanislaus Church in south Bethlehem could provide a little divine inspiration for artists attracted to the growing SteelStacks campus.

The rectory would be razed to make room for 36 affordable apartments targeting artists as tenants under a proposal by Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic of Lancaster. The church, founded in 1906 to mainly serve Polish Catholics in the neighborhood, would be reused as a gallery and space for performances or other events…

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/bethlehem/mc-bethlehem-stanislaus-church-apartments-20111012,0,2305014.story

Rhetoric Coming From All Sides In Eagles Organzation

There is a LOT of talk coming from the Philadelphia Eagles organization as of late.  Last week’s loss to Buffalo put the Eagles at 1-4.  The inability of the Eagles to hold it together for four quarters is alarming, to say the least.  We can’t catch the ball, hold on to the ball, score or keep the other team from scoring.  Sounds like a serious problem.  So far we are hearing talk, talk and more talk.  Things are progressively going downhill as the season unfolds.

Obviously something has drastically changed from last season.  It appears we have yet to identify the root problem and make a correction.  This week we are being told the Eagles “plan to stay aggressive while working on the turnover problem.”

I think if things don’t turn around this week we may see some major leadership changes.  I say let the chips fall where they may.