FREE for Members of the Arts Council & Grant Recipients
$10 Nonmembers & Guests
Refreshments & fellowship provided
Arts advocacy requires an ongoing conversation with both our elected and appointed government officials. Since negotiations for the state budget have stalled, it’s time for citizens to help to set priorities. Let the Commonwealth’s current budget impasse prompt you to contact them and remind them with a personal story of how much the arts mean to you and your family.
A father wrote to me about the sensory-friendly performance of a children’s play attended by his child with autism. They thanked Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre for their effort to understand the daily challenges faced by families like theirs. “Our son may not have the chance to do so many things in life that others do,” they said. “It was a very special day.”
A thriving arts community does not exist in isolation. While engagement in the arts affects people in deeply quiet ways, the arts experience can unite us around shared values:
- We believe that everyone in the Lehigh Valley deserves access to our rich diverse arts culture.
- We take pride in locally produced arts experiences; they are integral to the region’s cultural infrastructure.
- We realize that the arts are essential to our economic vitality and quality of life.
The Lehigh Valley is the third largest region in the state; it deserves recognition and its equal share of reallocated state tax dollars. An individual story sends a powerful message. Many stories command attention.
Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Arts Council
Tuesday, September 15th
10am to 1pm
Stay Tuned for More Details
GE Transportation recently signed a deal to build 100 locomotives in Erie — including engines made in Grove City — and sell them in Angola for $350 million.
GE used financing through the Export-Import Bank, which provides loans, loan guarantees and insurance to U.S. companies selling overseas. The bank, supporters say, helps U.S. companies compete more effectively for foreign business.
“If we hadn’t had that financing, the order would have gone to China,” said Richard Simpson, global head of supply chain for the company, who said Thursday that GE Transportation financed $720 million in sales to three other countries last year.
Such deals are in jeopardy, advocates for the 80-year-old bank say. Its charter expires June 30 and observers say it might not come up for a vote in Congress before then.
Lancaster County will receive a little over half a million dollars as its 2014 share of the so-called drilling Impact Fee, meant to help municipalities offset impacts associated with natural gas drilling.
The Impact Fee, or Act 13, was signed into effect in 2012 by Governor Tom Corbett. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is responsible for collecting a fee from drillers and then disbursing it to counties across the state to facilitate improvement programs and various repairs or infrastructure upgrades.
Lancaster county’s 2014 share is $507,694.29 from the state’s total of $223.5 million. The amount is marginally higher than what the county received in 2013. State-wide collection was marginally less than what it got in 2013.
Maintaining Scranton’s five parking garages would cost $26 million over 40 years, while demolishing one or two of the older structures that need significant repairs could drop that figure substantially, according to a new analysis.
A June 3 report by Chicago-based consultant Desman Design Management titled “Parking System Due Diligence Market and Revenue Analysis” is the latest step in Mayor Bill Courtright’s plan to unload the Scranton Parking Authority’s five parking garages — Medallion, Casey, Connell, Electric City and Linden.
The aim is to “monetize” through privatization, either leasing or selling, the authority’s underused, high-debt parking garages that have 2,659 spaces, as well as the 1,479 city-owned parking meters. The goal is to reduce the amount of SPA debt the city guarantees and covers in annual bailouts.
The authority retained Desman to assemble various elements of the parking system for evaluation by potential bidders on a lease or sale.
Wilkes-Barre will become owner of the long-troubled Hotel Sterling site today, which is expected to provide the stability needed to attract a significant project at the landmark site.
CityVest, the nonprofit group that unsuccessfully tried to redevelop the hotel that once stood there, also has formally dissolved, its attorney said.
The Sterling’s unresolved ownership ended up before Luzerne County Senior Judge Joseph Augello this morning because CityVest filed a brief asking the court to oversee disbursement of its assets.
CityVest had obtained state approval to dissolve because it is out of funds and not pursuing more projects, said CityVest attorney George A. Reihner.
A grand jury in Harrisburg declared 17 months ago that school administrators are singularly unqualified to investigate alleged sexual abuse, but the practice continues.
“School district administrators lack training needed to conduct a meaningful investigation into whether or not physical or sexual abuse has occurred,” according to a Dauphin County grand jury’s investigation of Susquehanna Township School District in January 2014.
The grand jury said administrators lack access to investigative resources such as search warrants, court orders, wiretaps or subpoenas and lack training in the questioning of victims, witnesses and suspects.
“Very often, a preliminary investigation will tip off a suspect and foreclose the availability of the investigative resources described above even once the police become involved,” the panel concluded.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — Fifteen officers have been added to the Wilkes-Barre Police Department since Mayor Tom Leighton took office in 2004.
At Tuesday’s work session, Leighton asked Wilkes-Barre City Council to consider four more.
Leighton requested authorization to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program to hire four full-time officers. If the resolution and grant request are approved, the hires would bump the number of officers in the city’s ranks from 83 to 87.
The Wilkes-Barre Police Department had 68 officers when Leighton was elected in 2004.
Northampton and Lehigh counties stand to receive a combined $627,795 in 2014 impact fees from natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale geological formation.
State Rep. Justin Simmons announced the checks will be distributed by July 1 from fees imposed last calendar year on drilling companies under Pennsylvania’s Act 13.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission distributes the Marcellus Legacy Fund money from 40 percent of collected impact fees, said Simmons, a Republican whose 131st District covers parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Pottstown >> Residents in the borough are turning to Pottstown Borough Council for help in addressing some of their concerns about real estate.
Tuesday night’s meeting featured six different residents who each spoke about different concerns ranging from problems on Upland Street, to a new borough ordinance that they fear could penalize homeowners in default on their mortgage.
“We the homeowners of Upland Street are coming here to borough council to express the concerns and pleas for assistance about investor purchases, rentals and subsidized housing here in Pottstown,” said one resident.
Upland Street residents, she said, are seeing a takeover of their street by Spring Hill Realty, which has been buying up properties across Pottstown and beyond.
WILKES-BARRE, PA — The final option proposed for Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s aging three high school system: Build a new school for grades 9-12 where Coughlin now stands, add grades seven and eight to Kistler elementary, and end the use of the venerable Meyers and Coughlin schools. GAR would remain for grades seven through 12.
Board Vice President Joe Caffrey, who also chaired the committee that reviewed the options, announced the proposal to standing-room only crowd in the district administration building’s small conference room, the front row of seats filled with architects, engineers, bankers and other professionals who have provided advice on the decision.
A feasibility study initially looked at five sites for new construction, the complete renovation of Coughlin and Meyers, or building new schools on those existing sites.
As he has increasingly done, Caffrey rejected characterizations that the decision process has been rushed. The board has been told by officials at the state department of education that it must submit initial paperwork for possible construction cost reimbursements by July 1, but Caffrey insisted it was his plan all along to bring a recommendation to the board around this time. The state deadline merely pushed the process ahead by a few weeks.
The Lancaster City Alliance wants to see $1 billion in private investment in the city over the next 15 years.
It’s one of the many goals — both specific and broad — of the economic development strategic plan the alliance put together to foster the city’s growth over the next 10-15 years.
The plan will be released to the public Thursday evening at the Ware Center.
Bob Shoemaker, Alliance president, and Marshall Snively, its executive vice president, talked with LNP’s editorial board about the year-long process on Thursday.
Editor’s note: The difference is that when Norristown searches for new employees, they actually hire the best qualified people instead of just moving people up and perpetuating the same bad policies like Pottstown (under the guise that Pottstown is so complicated nobody could come in and “figure it out” in less than a couple years). Sorry, new ideas are needed. Congrats to Norristown for being proactive and embracing change. Apparently, it’s working!
Pottstown and Norristown are the two largest urban areas in Montgomery County and share many of the same challenges, particularly when it comes to crime.
In the wake of the wave of violence in Pottstown which culminated in last month’s arrests of more than 30 people involved in an apparent gang war, a community meeting about crime was held recently in Norristown that focused on what police and authorities are doing now, and how citizens can help.
Norristown Police Chief Mark Talbot Sr. has been asking that question since he took over leadership of that department two years ago, and he’s starting to see answers get results.
In the last two years, major crimes in Norristown have dropped by 20 percent.
Rain clouds and an ongoing criminal investigation could not dampen the spirits of 309 seniors who graduated from Plum High School on Friday night.
“It’s over,” senior class president Michael Bell said to a gymnasium audience brimming with nervous excitement. “We did it.”
The ceremony marked the end of a school year in which three teachers were charged criminally, two with sex crimes involving students, and other staff members were stuck under the cloud of a grand jury investigation into whether they knew about inappropriate relationships and did nothing.
Editor’s note: Nice positive coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Summer racing in the Philadelphia area is usually limited to two things: 5ks or races that take place near the beach, or both. The Pottstown Half Marathon is bucking that trend with its first year race to be held on July 11.
Chris Bayless, who is the head of the Sly Fox Track Club (which is not affiliated with the brewery of the same name in the same town but often co-hosts events with track club), started thinking about putting on a half marathon because people asked him to.
“July is about half way between the spring marathon season and the fall marathon season,” he said. “That’s half way in their training for fall.” Most runners test their fitness in half marathons mid-way through training, but when Bayless looked at local race calendars, he saw a half-marathon-sized gap.
So he went to Pottstown’s city council to talk about adding one to the local race calendar. Bayless, who started directing races after he retired as head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams at Ursinus College, already puts on 45 a year through the Sly Fox Track Club.
Area congressmen are optimistic that federal funds will be available soon for a full year’s work of upgrading locks and dams on the lower Monongahela River.
John Rizzo, spokesman for Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton, said Wednesday a bill with $52 million for the Lower Mon Project was released May 21 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Matt Dinkel, spokesman for Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, said that $52 million is included in House of Representatives Bill 2028, an appropriations measure passed May 1.
Part of a $1.7 billion project, the $52 million is to be used in fiscal 2015-16 at the Charleroi No. 4 Locks and Dam by the Army Corps of Engineers.
That’s part of a project to upgrade Charleroi No. 4 and Braddock No. 2 locks and dams and eliminate Elizabeth No. 3 Locks and Dam.
If Gov. Tom Wolf wanted to see his campaign promises in action, he came to the right place Thursday morning, said Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.
Jobs that pay? “You’re looking at them,” Hayne said at the grand opening for Urban Outfitters’ massive 1 million square foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Salisbury Township just outside Gap on Route 30.
The site will ramp up from the existing staffing of 150 people to 500 as the year progresses, and could reach 1,000 to 1,500. Standard starting pay is $11.50 per hour, director of fulfillment Carl Carbonell said.
It also exemplifies “schools that teach” and “government that works,” Wolf’s other two priorities, Hayne said.
The Reading Viaduct Spur took another step toward reality Wednesday morning when the Philadelphia Art Commission gave the project the blessing of final approval.
The Spur is a quarter-mile arm of the viaduct that stretches between Broad Street and Callowhill Street.
Wednesday’s presentation described in detail how Phase 1 would incorporate plant material and path surface materials (think chip seal paving) into the project. It also addressed how structural elements (think bridges) would be rehabilitated; how recreational features (benches, swings, lighting) would be strategically placed on the site; how toxins (mostly railroad ballast, very little PCB presence) would be remediated; and how the entire spur would be maintained.
The Center City District is still raising money to complete the planned improvements on the first phase of the project. The group has raised about 65 percent of the $9 million it needs for the “SEPTA spur” and is pursuing a $3.5 million grant from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), according to John Struble, of Friends of the Rail Park. After the improvements are completed, the city would take over ownership of the park.
An auction for the foreclosed and still struggling Mall at Steamtown was postponed three weeks to give potential bidders more time to prepare bids, an agent involved in the upcoming online auction said.
The failure of retired department store chain owner Al Boscov’s past partnership to pay off the loan that led to the foreclosure does not disqualify him from bidding or being part of a bid, said Lynn DeMarco, contact agent for the Shopping Center Group LLC of New York City, which is facilitating the auction along with auction.com.
“This is an open auction, so anybody can bid,” Ms. DeMarco said Tuesday.
The auction, originally scheduled for Monday through today, was postponed to June 22 to 24. Bidding requires proof that bidders are viable and can come up with the money to fulfill their bids. Bidders will submit bids through the auction.com website in a fashion similar to an eBay auction. Bidders can see the highest bid as the auction unfolds. When the deadline for bids passes, the high bidder gets the mall, assuming the bidder has the money, Ms. DeMarco said.