Pottstown School District Preliminary Budget Has 4.2 Percent Tax Increase

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The problem with this PSD budget number is that it is above the 2.4 percent increase allowed by the state.  If Mrs. Adams can’t “whittle” down that figure any further, the board will need to ask permission from the state to make an exception and allow a larger tax increase.

The big picture here is that Pottstown Borough Council just passed a budget with a 1.68 percent tax increase.  Pottstown Borough and Pottstown School District occupy the same geographical area and the residents of Pottstown are not just getting one increase, but TWO.  Even if Mrs. Adams can get to the state mandated 2.4 percent increase, taxpayers are on the hook for a 4.08 percent increase.  I am guessing possibly higher.

As Councilor Rhoads has pointed out time and again, most people have a finite amount of money to work with each year.  With the current state of the U.S. economy, finding extra money is very difficult.  Pottstown has a large percentage of senior citizens on fixed incomes.  We also have a large percentage of low-income residents and residents below the poverty level.

People are having to make choices between food, heat, housing and taxes.  This is flat-out wrong.  This spending addiction pissing contest between the Borough of Pottstown and the Pottstown School District is killing the average Pottstown resident.  We are on the edge of the cliff staring down at the bottom of the ravine.  There is no where left to go except down in flames or move out of Pottstown, if that option is even available.  Many people are too financially strapped to even escape.

We do not need four fire companies nor do we need five elementary schools and two annex buildings.  Are we looking at job performance?  If we are not getting enough bang for the buck would outsourcing services make more sense?  We cannot afford all these salaries, benefits and pensions, which make up the lion’s share of both organization’s budgets.  We haven’t even felt the pain of the upcoming pension crisis with the school district. 

The economy is not going to improve fast enough to save the day.  We need long-term financial solutions for both taxing entities in this town.  Frankly, I am not seeing enough effort being made to address these very serious problems that impact 22,377 people by either entity.

Pennsylvania Jobless Rate Falls In December

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According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, the commonwealth’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in December, down from 7.9 percent in November.

Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was below the U.S. rate of 8.5 percent, and has been below the U.S. rate for 62 consecutive months.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/articles/2012/01/21/news/srv0000016915587.txt

Killer Greist Wants Case Shifted To Federal Court

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Killer Richard Greist has for many years wanted a change of scenery — a release from his involuntary commitment to Norristown State Hospital for mental health treatment. Now, he wants a change of venue.

In December, Greist filed a petition to remove his civil commitment case from the Common Pleas Court in Chester County to U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. He said, acting as his own attorney, that his confinement at Norristown violated his constitutional rights, as well as the American with Disabilities Act.

He contends that his case should be moved to federal court because authorities have altered his commitment status from civil to criminal; have refused to order his annual commitment hearings closed to the public; have not considered a “trial release plan” for him into the community; and have failed to consider what the “least restrictive setting” for him would be.

In response, the county District Attorney’s Office, acting as an intervener in the commitment proceedings, asked the court to dismiss Greist’s petition, calling his assertions “patently false,” “nonsensical,” and delusional.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/articles/2012/01/23/news/srv0000016988163.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Yet Another Copper Thief – Caught Stealing From Amtrak

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WEST CHESTER, PA — A father of four who struggles with a heroin addiction told a Common Pleas Court judge that he planned to pay back thousands of dollars he owes Amtrak for stealing copper wire from the railroad’s Philadelphia to Harrisburg line, but he did not say how.

William James Stauffer, 29, of Honey Brook pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges of theft by unlawful taking and criminal mischief for the December 2010 theft about 800 pounds of copper electrical wire. In addition to a prison term of six to 23 months in Chester County prison and three years of probation, he was ordered to pay $28,650 to the railroad for the cost of the wire and the considerable disruption its loss caused operations along the line.

“As soon as I get back home, I’d like to get back to work,” Stauffer told Jude William Mahon, who accepted the plea agreement between the prosecution and Stauffer’s attorney. “I want to give it 100 percent to pay my restitution, and to keep my nose clean.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/articles/2012/01/23/news/srv0000016938238.txt?viewmode=fullstory

Lower Pottsgrove Underage Drinking Party Lands Pottstown Man In Trouble

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTHOUSE— A Pottstown man will be under court supervision for four years for his involvement in an underage drinking party in a township hotel room.

Aaron Marcus Andrews, 19, of the 400 block of King Street, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to four years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of corruption of a minor, specifically a 14-year-old girl, in connection with a May 14, 2011, incident at the Days Inn on Industrial Highway in Lower Pottsgrove.

Other charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor and conspiracy were dismissed against Andrews as part of the plea agreement accepted by Senior Judge S. Gerald Corso.

During the investigation, “it was learned that Andrews had taken a collection of money from persons in the hotel room” and went with others to a Pottstown pizza restaurant to purchase the alcohol that was discovered in the room. One of the teenage girls encountered by police was getting sick from the alcohol, court papers alleged.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/article/20120122/NEWS01/120129876

Joe Pa Near Death

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Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is near death, a source close to the Paterno family told The Citizens’ Voice.

On Saturday afternoon, Paterno’s wife, Sue, called close friends of the former coach to the State College hospital where Paterno has been undergoing treatment since Jan. 13 for complications from his fight against cancer.
 
Paterno, 85, wanted to say a final goodbye, Sue said, according to the source.
 
Those close friends included his longtime secretary. Members of Paterno’s extended family were also summoned to the hospital.
 
His son, former assistant coach Jay Paterno, cancelled an appearance in Reading, Pa., telling organizers 15 minutes before the scheduled start that he would not be able to make it because “his wife” was sick.
 

AirTran Discontinuing Service At Lehigh Valley International Airport

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AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines confirmed plans to combine operations at 22 airports and will discontinue service at Lehigh Valley International Airport and five other operations, LVIA officials announced in a news release.

The service will be discontinued at LVIA effective Aug. 12, 2012. LVIA officials said all ticketed passengers, passengers holding reservations, or passengers wanting to make reservations for flights to or from LVIA have no need to alter their travel plans.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-lehigh-valley-air-tran-20120120,0,7458520.story

Hollywood’s War Of The Wages

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The second season of a Simon Cowell-free “American Idol” started this week. Cowell ditched the popular talent show last year to launch a U.S. version of his British music competition “The X Factor,” which he vowed would attract 20 million viewers. It fell short, topping out at 12 million. Now there’s word that the new “American Idol” judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, had been joking backstage that they would be “devastated” if they didn’t get 20 million viewers. (They did for the season premiere, but just barely.)

Lopez may be winning the ratings war, but Cowell is winning the war of the wages. The music executive earned $90 million last year thanks to “The X Factor,” which he owns a share of, and his record label, Syco. Lopez earned $25 million. Most of that came from “Idol” but she also has several movies coming out and a new clothing line.

Read more: http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=697139

Poe Fans Call An End To ‘Toaster’ Tradition

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BALTIMOREEdgar Allan Poe fans waited long past a midnight dreary, but it appears annual visits to the writer’s grave in Baltimore by a mysterious figure called the “Poe Toaster” shall occur nevermore.

Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff Jerome said early Thursday that die-hard fans waited hours past when the tribute bearer normally arrives. But the “Poe Toaster” was a no-show for a third year in a row, leaving another unanswered question in a mystery worthy of the writer’s legacy. Poe fans had said they would hold one last vigil this year before calling an end to the tradition.

“It’s over with,” Jerome said wearily. “It will probably hit me later, but I’m too tired now to feel anything else.”

It is thought that the tributes of an anonymous man wearing black clothes with a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, who leaves three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe’s original grave on the writer’s birthday, date to at least the 1940s. Late Wednesday, a crowd gathered outside the gates of the burial ground surrounding Westminster Hall to watch for the mysterious visitor, yet only three impersonators appeared, Jerome said.

Read more: http://dailyitem.com/0300_entertainment/x431304607/Poe-fans-call-an-end-to-Toaster-tradition

Tamaqua Borough Council Makes Tough Decisions Rather Than Raise Taxes

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Tamaqua, PA Borough Council decided it did not want to raise taxes to offset a $200,000 deficit in the 2012 budget.  (Imagine that idea Pottstown Borough Council)

And so, the cuts began.

Council eliminated random drug tests for borough police officers, dropped the DARE anti-drug program in schools for a year, laid off a police officer and deciding not to fill a vacancy in the streets department.

Council also hopes selling what one official called an underutilized community center will help balance the budget.

Read more: http://standardspeaker.com/news/mayor-center-s-sale-would-be-loss-1.1260511#ixzz1k872u0SE

Reading Fire Department Gets Grant Of Nearly $1 Million

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The Reading Fire Department has won a grant of nearly $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer announced Thursday at his third-in-three-days public meeting about reopening the 2012 budget.

The office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called him late in the afternoon to announce the city had been approved for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant of $999,781, Spencer told about 50 people at the Historical Society of Berks County, 940 Centre Ave.

He said he was told it was by far the largest of 10 grants totaling $1.56 million awarded to fire departments in the state. Casey is a Scranton Democrat.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=360291

Company Unveils Reading Outlet Center Building Plans

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The company that bought the huge No. 1 building at the Reading Outlet Center gave the city a first glimpse Thursday of its plans.

Those include business and commercial space on the first floor, about 150 market-rate apartments on the second through fourth floors and penthouse office space on the top floor of the building at Ninth and Douglas streets.

They also include razing the northwest corner of the block-sized building to erect an attached parking garage with more than 250 spaces, an interior courtyard with playground equipment, lighting and fountains, and security guards monitoring the entire complex.

“Our plan was well received and we are excited to move forward,” said Bill Hynes, a Nazareth, Northampton County-based real estate developer who’s part of Think Loud Development.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/

Organ Concert At Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Pottstown – Matthew Lewis

MUSIC AT EMMANUEL

Presents:

Matthew Lewis, organist

FREE ADMISSION

MEET DR. LEWIS AT A POST-CONCERT RECEPTION

Emmanuel Lutheran Church

150 N. Hanover Street    Pottstown, PA  19464

Facebook.com/music.at.emmanuel

Andrew Meade – Minister of Music

www.emmanuelpottstown.org

610-323-4312

PIPE DREAMS: Matthew Lewis

Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012          4:00pm

 Dr. Matthew Lewis maintains an active career as an organist, choral conductor and educator. As Organist and Director of Music at the Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan, he directs a select group of professional singers in a variety of liturgical choral music. Dr. Lewis has served as Organist and Choir Director at Temple Israel in Lawrence, NY, since 1993. Artistic Director and Conductor of St. George’s Choral Society since 2005, he directs the 80-voice chorus in major works of the repertoire. He studied choral conducting privately with Robert Page.

 Dr. Lewis has been a member of the Organ Faculty of the Juilliard School Pre-College division since 1993, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College since 2006. His students range in age from teenagers to graduate students. He has presented solo organ recitals in the United States,Canada and France, has been a featured artist on WNYC, New York, and has performed the complete organ works of César Franck several times, including at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.

 At The Juilliard School, Matthew Lewis completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree as a student of Jon Gillock. While earning the Master of Music degree, also at Juilliard, he was the winner of the organ competition, resulting in a performance of Barber’s Toccata Festiva with the Juilliard Symphony in Alice Tully Hall. Dr. Lewis is the former recipient of a Fulbright Grant and the Annette Kade Fellowship from the Council of International Education for study in Paris where he was a student of organ-virtuoso Marie-Madeleine Duruflé.

 The 2011-2012 MUSIC AT EMMANUEL season is full of variety, excitement, youth, passion and above all – musical excellence.  We are thrilled to present artists that range from our finest regional talent to a pianist from the other side of the world!  Our season will include an organist who studied and teaches at the world-famous Julliard School in New York City, an exciting young singer, one of America’s oldest musical ensembles, a choir from the renowned Westminster Choir College, and a Ukrainian pianist who was a stand-out at the Moscow ConservatoryMUSIC AT EMMANUEL is dedicated to bringing the live music of the highest calibre to the Pottstown community.  We are also dedicated to supporting young artists from our region as they develop their performing careers.  All concerts on our 2011-12 season are offered free of charge to the public, and are funded by the generous support of individuals in our church and community who believe that great music has an essential place in our culture and community.    For additional information about the concert series please follow the music link on the church’s website: www.emmanuelpottstown.org or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/music.at.emmanuel

10 Company Founders Who Got the Boot

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BOSTON (MainStreet) — On Tuesday, Yahoo!(YHOO) announced that Jerry Yang, a co-founder of the company in 1995, had resigned from its board.

Did Yang step down by his own choice or was he pushed? That’s the story yet to be fully told.

The timing of the announcement will of course lead to speculation, as it comes two weeks after Yahoo named Scott Thompson, a former PayPal executive, as CEO. While Thompson pledges a return to profitability, Yang has been seen by many investors as letting his personal vision and attachment to the company stall necessary restructuring moves. As such, news of his resignation sent shares upward.

In addition to departing Yahoo’s board, Yang surrenders a similar post at Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group, setting the stage that those assets may be sold. Yang’s exit could open the door for a broader restructuring of the parent company and attract otherwise gun-shy investors.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/daily-local-news/story/10-company-founders-who-got-the-boot/11379198

Five Reading School District Administrators Will Stay On Till The End Of The School Year

Five interim Reading School District administrators have changed their minds about leaving their posts before the end of the school year.

After a two-hour executive session on Wednesday, the school board announced that the temporary administrators, including Acting Superintendent J. Drue Miles, will complete the school year as initially planned.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=360003

Allentown Wins National Award For Fighting Childhood Obesity

The future of the city’s fruit-and-vegetable green cart is no longer followed by a question mark.

Allentown took home a first-place national award — and a $120,000 grant — for the program, securing its immediate future fighting childhood obesity.

Six cities were honored nationally. Allentown was the only city in Pennsylvania to win recognition for the award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Beverage Association.

“More than 40 percent of our kids are either overweight or obese,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said. “We are tackling that problem head-on.”

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/allentown/mc-allentown-obesity-prevention-award-20120118,0,2108514.story

Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre Auditions

Auditions for MSMT 2012 season, including ‘H.M.S. Pinafore,’ Lehigh Valley premiere of ‘Hairspray,’ will be held Feb. 19 and 21 Technical positions and high school internships also available

Allentown, Pa. (Jan. 17, 2012) — Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre will hold open auditions for performers ages 16 and up on Feb. 19 and 21. Performers will be cast for the season’s mainstage productions: the Lehigh Valley premiere of “Hairspray,” performing June 13 – July 1, and Gilbert and Sullivan‘s “H.M.S. Pinafore,” performing July 11-29.

The following audition details can also be found online, at www.muhlenberg.edu/summermusictheatre.

Vocal auditions will be held Sunday, Feb. 19, from 2 to 6 and 7 to 11 p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 11 p.m. Auditions will be held in the Empie Theatre, Baker Center for the Arts, on the Muhlenberg College campus. Vocal audition appointments are three minutes.

Dance auditions will be held Sunday, Feb. 19, from 6 to 10 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Dance Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance. Dance auditions will take about half an hour. Auditioners will be taught a short dance sequence, which they will then perform. No preparation is required.

All auditioners must register in advance and schedule an audition. All auditioners must sign up for both vocal and dance auditions. Auditioners should send an e-mail to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu before Friday, Feb. 17, indicating available dates and times within the scheduled audition, and providing a mobile phone number where the auditioner can be reached with questions.

Those without access to e-mail should call the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance office at 484-664-3087, during regular office hours before Thursday, Feb. 16. Voice messages should contain all of the above information.

All auditioners will be assigned a time for both a dance audition and a vocal audition, and should plan to dance and sing, even if they concentrate in just one area. It is possible for a performer to be cast based on a strong audition in just singing or just dance; however all performers in both shows will sing and dance.

The directors are looking for an ethnically diverse cast, including a wide range of ages and types, and community members are strongly encouraged to audition.

Performers may audition for either show, or for both shows, but will not be cast in more than one.

Auditioners for both shows should prepare a memorized vocal selection of 16 to 32 bars. Those wishing to be considered for a lead role in “Hairspray” should sing an up-tempo song that shows off belt voice (for women) or upper register (for men). Those wishing to be considered for a lead in “H.M.S. Pinafore” should sing any song that shows off range, size of voice, projection, and character.

To be considered for lead roles in both shows, auditioners should prepare two audition selections. To be considered for just the chorus of either or both shows, auditioners may prepare just one selection.

An accompanist will be provided for the vocal audition. You must bring sheet music in the key in which you would like to sing, with your 16- to 32-bar selection indicated and any cuts clearly noted. Please no accompaniment tapes or a cappella auditions.

Callback auditions will be held March 15-18, and will include acting auditions, reading from the script. Details will be provided as necessary, but auditioners should hold the dates if possible.

Non-performing opportunities are available for technicians and costumers. Carpenters, electricians, props technicians, light board and sound board operators, and stage crew are needed for productions. Costumers, first hand, stitchers, and wardrobe running crew are needed in the costume shop.

High school stage management internships are available for those who will be at least 16 years old by the time they begin working for MSMT. Interns work alongside college students and professionals from the College, and guest artists from New York, learning valuable skills that they can take back to their high school programs. Interns receive a $400 stipend for the summer.

The application deadline for technicians, costumers, and administrative personnel is March 1. Applications can be found online at www.muhlenberg.edu/summermusictheatre. Completed applications can be sent to boxoffice@muhlenberg.edu.

Muhlenberg Seeks Rebirth Of Fifth Street Corridor

Muhlenberg Township very badly wants to fill its empty lots and storefronts.

But there’s a holdup: The township’s major commercial stretch, Fifth Street Highway, needs updating before it will be an attractive place for businesses to set up shop.

The road is a hodgepodge of shopping centers, some empty and some filled, as well as offices, homes and a vacant industrial site. Entrances, driveways and side roads introduce traffic at every step.

“It’s a nightmare right now and people avoid it,” said Michael S. Malinowski, Muhlenberg commissioners president. “The last thing you want as an official of any community is to have your major corridor avoided by people.”

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=359587