Greensburg City Council Resolves To Seek Grant Applications For Projects

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

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

Greensburg City Council on Monday unanimously approved resolutions seeking grant applications to fund two projects.

The city will seek a Multimodal Transportation Fund grant for a proposed health care district for the Fifth and Sixth wards.

The written resolution seeks a $2 million grant application through the state Department of Community and Economic Development and PennDOT.

Consultant Urban Design Associates of Pittsburgh and others put together the plan with the intent to enhance the two wards and spark development.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/westmoreland/6252872-74/council-grant-project#ixzz34I3PAQtR
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PPL Announces Merger

PPL Corporation, which owns the Susquehanna Steam nuclear power plant in Salem Township, is merging its electric generation business with that of another company to form a new stand-alone, independent power producer.

PPL Corporation and energy investment firm Riverstone Holdings LLC are combining and spinning off their power generation operations to form the separate company, Talen Energy Corporation, which will be publicly traded. PPL Corporation won’t have any ownership interest in the new company, but its shareholders will own 65 percent of it and Riverstone’s will own 35 percent, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

Read more: http://citizensvoice.com/news/ppl-announces-merger-1.1700744

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Wilkes-Barre Area Expands Study Of Buildings, Approves New Administrator Compensation Plan

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

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

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Proposals from companies willing to do a feasibility study of Wilkes-Barre Area’s three high schools haven’t even been submitted yet, but the School Board voted Monday to expand the study to cover all district buildings.

The board also approved a new agreement granting most administrators annual raises between $800 and $1,400 through the 2015-16 school year, an offer Board Member Christine Katsock criticized. She noted the preliminary budget, sure to change before final passage later this month, had a $3.7 million shortfall despite a proposed 2.9 percent property tax increase.

Fear of falling debris from loose facades prompted emergency fencing and entrance closures at Coughlin and Meyers high schools last month, and the board voted to put out requests for proposals for a feasibility study on either repairs of those buildings and GAR High School, or construction of a new high school.

A “pre-proposal meeting” with prospective contractors is scheduled for this morning.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news-news/1453620/W-B-Area-expands-study-of-buildings

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Century 21 Store Owner Pledges To ‘Alter The Retail Landscape’ In Center City

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Philadelphia ...

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

Eddie Gindi met the family Tuesday. No one who ever pledged to a loved one could have been more solicitous.

Executive vice president and co-owner of Century 21, the latest and, arguably, most exotic retailer to commit to Philadelphia, Gindi promised success, devotion and a boundless future.

“We are honored to be part of Philadelphia,” he told an enthusiastic crowd at the Union League. “We want to alter the retail landscape here.”

And more.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140611_Store_owner_pledges_to__alter_the_retail_landscape__in_Center_City.html#8bM5ZjttKxmE5Gsc.99

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45 Graduates Complete MCCC’s Accelerated GED Program

Pottstown, Pa.— Forty-five students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s annual graduation ceremony on June 5 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

The graduates were part of MCCC’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state. According to GED Program Coordinator/Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 860 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006–an 84 percent graduation rate.

The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents. The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.

John Vestri, vice president of operations and finance for Video Ray in Pottstown, provided the keynote address. He commended graduates for taking ownership of their education, and encouraged them to take advantage of all future educational opportunities that arise.

“Every single you chance you have to improve yourself through education, please take advantage of it. It will pay off in some way in the long run,” said Vestri. He added that there is “no such thing as a traditional education,” sharing “we all pursue what works for us; everyone is on some non-traditional path.”

Providing the student address, graduate Jamie Gehman, Lower Pottsgrove, said the program “allowed me to focus on my problem area—math—and pass the GED with flying colors.”

Gehman described how it became more and more difficult to return to school as time passed. However, as her youngest of four children started kindergarten this year, she realized it was time to continue her own education as well.

“It’s never too late to give yourself or your loved ones a brighter future through education,” she shared.

Gehman recently completed her first semester at the College, during which she earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average (GPA). She ultimately hopes to work with children who have learning challenges and brain trauma.

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, presented the graduates with their diplomas, and Peggy Schmidt, chair, WIB Youth Council, provided closing remarks.

“I’m sure, as you have gone through this journey, people told you that you couldn’t do it. But your hard work paid off,”  she said, just before asking attendees to join her in reciting the lyrics to “High Hopes.”

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit http://www.mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

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Our Thoughts On Last Night’s Pottstown Borough Council Meeting

Editor’s comments:  Below I have reprinted the text from Katy Jackson’s heartfelt speech with my thoughts.  Love her or hate her, Katy cannot be accused of taking the path of least resistance.  The time Katy has put into trying to make Pottstown a better place is enormous.  There are plenty of other things she could be doing with her time.  Katy gets no pay, Mr. Toroney yet she puts in countless hours working toward the betterment of Pottstown and has plenty to show for her efforts, it in terms of accomplishments. Yes, I know you work full-time.

It angered me that Katy was interrupted and told to “wrap it up” at only 4 minutes.  It showed a complete lack of respect and civility.  Mrs. Jackson is WELL AWARE of the time limit for citizen comments.  She was reading a prepared text, which she timed.  That fact that she was the ONLY person interrupted tells me her words hit too close to home.  The truth hurts. 

All this blustering and obfuscation needs to stop, along with blaming the taxpayers.  It pisses them off as you were told last night.  I hope you heard that loud and clear. 

Mr. Toroney, you know being a Councilor is time-consuming, yet you keep running for re-election.  You know it pays virtually nothing, yet you keep running for re-election.  Either the job is your joy and sacred duty or a time-sucking pain in the ass, it cannot be both.

After introducing herself as a representative of the Citizens Action Committee of Pottstown, Katy said:

Mr. Toroney, you’ve taken the path of least resistance in your lengthy term (15 ½ years) on council.  Art Markman, PhD, a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas and Director of the Program in the Human Dimensions of Organizations, writes ‘the path of least resistance’ asThe psychologist Tom Ward points out that when we think about anything, we follow the path of least resistance.  Without realizing it, we instantly and automatically categorize every situation we see based on our previous experience.  So, despite our best efforts to do something bold and new, our memory drives us back to things tried and true.  Our efforts at creativity are thwarted before they get on track.

Several years ago, you made a comment to a council person that “you don’t get paid enough”.   Yet, you have vied to retain your seat and you’ve accepted the position of Council President, more than once.  Have you failed to understand that serving as an elected official is not about the money?  Or is it…?  Mr. Toroney, if being on council is your “sacred duty” as you professed last night, then may I suggest you actually do something.  Last night would have been the perfect opportunity for a list of accomplishments that you, as Council President, achieved which propelled Pottstown forward.

Given that the process was in place and, taxpayers covered the costs to seek a qualified outside borough manager, you took the path of least resistance.  This is the $120,000 question.  If Pottstown Borough government operated in the real world, a more experienced person would be Borough Manager and making a more reasonable salary considering the size of the local government.  Also, a more experienced person would have realized if you spend more money than you bring in, you create a deficit.  There is no “extra” money in the budget to reward our friends with promotions and raises, to buy a new car, to hand out iPads, or spend money on consultants that we planned on ignoring all along.  Taxpayers are smarter than you think.

When it was time to select a new Police Chief for Pottstown, you made no pretense about choosing the path of least resistance.  Again, in the real world, people are held to metrics and performance goals.  I supervised people for over 20 years and wrote countless performance appraisals.  Employees were ranked according to their achievements.  If you failed to meet goals such as quantity and quality, your performance review reflected this.  Your raise, or lack of a raise was dependent upon your results.  Your customer service skills, ability to work and play well with others, your attendance, punctuality etc… were all measured.  When my people missed their goals, I heard about it from my boss.  Had I told my V.P. that my goal was to increase productivity by 1% I would have most likely been demoted, once he stopped laughing.

Each month when the expenditures for the borough are approved by council do you read the line items and scrutinize the spending or…do you take the path of least resistance?  I will say Pottstown’s finances improved greatly due to Jason Bobst, Janice Lee and Dan Weand.  However, if we allow the borough manager spend money we don’t have, whose fault would that be?  In the real world, his supervisor.  In Pottstown’s case, that would be borough council, headed up by El Presidente, Steve Toroney.  The borough manager needs supervision, sorry.  Inaction makes you complicit when overspending occurs.  Just say no.

Do you believe that upper management requires exorbitant salaries, top of the line new vehicles, iPads for officials, costly analysis of the codes department, bullet proof surround for upper management while taxpayers and residents of Pottstown watch in disbelief as our community deteriorates before our eyes. Diligent public employees struggle to do their best with chaos but others could care less about their jobs.  You have taken the path of least resistance, Mr. Toroney.  See above commentary…this also falls under reigning in your employees.

You appointed an ad hoc committee to vet prospective engineer firms who ultimately chose Remington, Veronica and Beach, in March 2012. It is evidenced that you were aware of impropriety in that process yet, you did not speak up.  You went on to support a hasty, questionable expenditure of unbudgeted tax payer money of around $33,000 for an analysis of the codes department by Remington, Veronica and Beach.  Again, I ask, was this the path of least resistance?   This debacle is just unbelievable.  No words.

I believe this poor, struggling community cannot afford you, Mr. Toroney. Your selective interest and support of worthy organizations in Pottstown appears to be based on your personal approval or disapproval of the individuals that comprise their groups.  Despite your disdain, these organizations forge ahead in the challenging roles they have accepted to make Pottstown a better place for all residents.   Why has it been difficult for you to offer encouragement and take an interest in your community?  In this, you have again chosen a path that may have been easy for you but you have made it difficult for many others.   Mr. Toroney’s irrational fear of a certain non-profit organization in Pottstown is just maddening.  This organization can actually list substantial accomplishments that have made Pottstown a better place.  This mentality is very junior high school.  Stop the madness and grow up.

You have failed to advocate for the taxpayers and good citizens of Pottstown and in doing so, you condone the rising crime and disintegration of our community.  Rather than using your position, as Council President, to communicate with Montgomery County and State officials, to keep the concerns of this community in the forefront of their decision-making, you have engaged in conspiracy theories about the Counties intentions toward Pottstown.  And we have been further isolated in our efforts to revitalize.  Pottstown’s potential is enormous.  As I drove down High Street last night from McDonald’s to borough hall I remembered what drew me to live in Pottstown all those years ago.  I like towns better than “burbs”.  I like the hustle and bustle, the diversity, the architecture, the history etc…  When I first moved to Pottstown in 1983 I lived in Valley View Apartments in North Coventry Township.  Less than two years later I moved into the borough and lived on the 200 block of Walnut Street, followed by the 100 block of King Street, the 1400 block of Queen Street and the 900 block of Hale Street.  I CHOSE to live in Pottstown.  Sadly, in 2012 I CHOSE to move out of Pottstown because of crime, blight and the cost of living. 

We’re asking you tonight to step down from service to this community so that an “individual” among you, that council deems qualified, can pick up the pieces, and lead. We desperately need real leaders in Pottstown.   Lead or get out-of-the-way, Mr. Toroney.

Mr. Toroney are you proud of what Pottstown has become?  John Potts is rolling over in his grave on a daily basis over what has been done to his town. 

It’s not too late to save Pottstown but the residents need to start driving the bus and stop being taken for a ride.  Power to the Pottstown People!

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Toroney Touts Tenure On Pottstown Council, Accomplishments – Reads From Prepared Statement

POTTSTOWN, PA – Several dozen people stood in front of Pottstown Borough Hall, before tonight’s council meeting, to protest the rash of violence, including a homicide, that has gripped the borough in the last few weeks.  NBC 10, the Reading Eagle and ace Mercury Reporter, Evan Brandt were all on hand (sorry if I missed anyone).  Motorists honked and shouted encouragement from time to time as the protesters held up signs asking Pottstown Borough Council President Steve Toroney to resign.

Despite the threatening weather, the demonstration went on.  Around 6:30 pm, Mr. Toroney arrived and entered the building by the front door.  He appeared indifferent to the demonstrators.

The meeting started at 7:00 pm with the Call to Order.  For the Invocation, President Toroney briefly spoke about former Pottstown Mayor Anne Jones, who passed away a few days ago.  A moment of silence was then observed for Anne and her family.

The agenda then moved through the Pledge of Allegiance, Roll Call, Approval of Minutes and then Comments from Citizens Present.

The first commenter was well-known Pottstown civic activist, Katy Jackson.  Speaking on behalf of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee, Mrs. Jackson read with emotion from her prepared statement, which outlined in less than five minutes the flawed leadership of President Toroney.  She was interrupted at 4 minutes to tell her she had one minute left and to “wrap it up”.  No other speaker was interrupted.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.

Dianne Krumm, another member of the Pottstown Citizens Action Committee echoed much of Mrs. Jackson’s concerns.  She also cited Pottstown Police Chief Richard Drumheller’s goal to reduce crime in Pottstown by 1% when he took office.  She suggested Pottstown ask for help from the state to aid the beleaguered police department.

Cindy Conard, former challenger for the 7th Ward Council seat, stressed the need for conversation and communication between the residents and the borough.  She also mentioned the lack of vision and direction as contributing factors to the frustration of taxpayers.

David Garner, Esquire addressed the 7th Ward Councilor for ignoring his emails (not the first person with this issue).  He again offered his help to the borough, even after being told his help “was not needed and not wanted”.

Several others addressed council with comments like “come live in my neighborhood for a day or a week”, “my property value has dropped $40,000 in 5 years” and “the borough manager rejected my request for an appointment”.

A young woman told a horror story of being abused by an extractive property investor.  His property was inspected by the Pottstown Codes Department, there were major violations yet nothing ever happened to her landlord.  She had no heat for two months and duct tape over the windows and doors to keep the air out, “you could see outside”.  She called the Pottstown Police Department because she was being terrorized, nothing happened.  They were more interested in running her information to see if she had outstanding warrants than they were to protect her from defiant trespass.  She had to go to Norristown to get help and moved before her lease was up.  She rightly wonders why her landlord was not held accountable for the ordinances she found on the borough website and why the police department was not interested in helping her.  Great questions.

The last person who spoke expressed his frustration with being told he, as a taxpayer, is not doing enough to help fight crime in Pottstown.  He is a life-long resident of the borough, an upstanding citizen who does call the police and tries to do the right thing.  Being told he is not doing enough “pisses him off”.  He lives within a block of the recent murder (and a previous murder).  He also mentioned shootings, arson and cars being vandalized in his neighborhood.  Blaming the people who pay your salary is never the way to go.

So after all these taxpayers poured out their hearts to borough council, a red-faced Steve Toroney read a prepared statement touting his 15 ½ years on Council.  Normally politicians can rattle off a list of their accomplishments at the drop of a hat.  Steve is proud of what he has accomplished but did not offer one illustration of any accomplishment in his statement.  Interesting.  See my Roy’s Rants Facebook page to view video.   Mr. Toroney got a “jab” in at former Sixth Ward Councilor, Jody Rhoads in his remarks about not resigning.

The next item was the Mayor’s Report.  The mayor had three talking points.  First she talked about Anne Jones.  That was very nice.  Then she talked about Edgewood Cemetery, at some length.  Basically, it’s abandoned and the borough does not own the property.  The cemetery needs to be maintained… the problem.  Lastly, Sharon addressed crime.  She talked so long the video card filled up and my camera stopped recording.  Sharon did mention the last citizen’s comments in her remarks about crime.

The Borough Manager’s Report was short.  He mentioned the upcoming Pottstown Rumble volleyball tournament and that the hours are changing at borough hall. He did not acknowledge any of the citizens comments.

I left after his remarks.

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