Diana Nelson Jones’ Walkabout: Pittsburgh Is Tops Again As A Great Home For Big Crop Of Trees

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the flurry of national press Pittsburgh has been getting, we’d better step up the pace of hotel construction, get our spare bedrooms advertised on AirB&B and send a buzz through the network of couch surfers. We’re sure to get more company in the coming years.

Our little gem of a city has been at or near the top of lists of places to invest in and raise a family and that have the most public art, best housing prices, best cost of living, best view, most breathtaking entry point and best (and maybe most) neighborhoods.

But of all the lists I’ve seen, Pittsburgh’s status in a recent report by National Geographic makes me the proudest.

Of the cities featured in an article headlined “Nine Cities That Love Their Trees,” Pittsburgh was cited as having the greatest canopy among New York, Philadelphia, Austin, Detroit, Washington, Baltimore, Portland and Tampa.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/diana-nelson-jones/2014/04/29/City-is-tops-again-as-a-great-home-for-big-crop-of-trees/stories/201404290060#ixzz30KFQnaue

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Anne Beiler (Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Founder) Is A ‘Secret Millionaire’

She called herself a country girl.  Growing up Amish is about as country as it gets.

Anne Beiler said she never lived in a city, but in August 2011 she spent five days in one of the poorest sections of Baltimore.

“Five days is not long, but it is long enough to get a feel for city life,” said Beiler, who will be featured on Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC’s “Secret Millionaire.”

In a unique twist, Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, lived on Washington Street in East Baltimore —one of the most unsafe areas in the city — and worked with people and organizations in need of her help.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/878087_Anne-Beiler-is-a–Secret-Millionaire-.html#ixzz2akO1mPV6

Baltimore Co. Hopes To Attract Thousands Of Jobs To Sparrows Point


BETHLEHEM STEEL PLANT AT SPARROWS POINT – NARA – 546808 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new marine terminal could bring 9,000 jobs to the Sparrows Point peninsula, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Friday as he laid out the county’s vision for remaking the land around its closed steel mill.

A terminal in the peninsula’s Coke Point area could take 10 to 12 years to become a reality, he said, and plans depend on the Maryland Port Administration‘s negotiations with the land’s private owners, among other factors.  The area has complicated environmental problems, but county leaders say the peninsula offers an exceptional location and the infrastructure to attract new investment.

Kamenetz formed the Sparrows Point Partnership last spring to study how the area’s 3,300 acres could be redeveloped if the steel mill closed, and the group’s recommendations were released Friday.  The mill, once the world’s largest and an employer of tens of thousands, laid off the roughly 2,000 workers remaining last year after owner RG Steel declared bankruptcy.

“Even though things looked bleak, we’ve remained optimistic in this county,” Kamenetz said.  “We were determined to overcome this obstacle in order to bring thousands of good jobs back to Sparrows Point.”

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/dundalk/bs-md-co-sparrows-point-future-20130503,0,3115241.story#ixzz2SN1zCjTX

Baltimore City Council Approves Tax Break For New Apartments

Developers converting older office buildings into apartments or building new complexes could get a significant tax break under a measure the Baltimore City Council approved Monday.

The legislation is aimed at addressing a glut of vacancies in office buildings downtown, encouraging new or converted apartments in six other neighborhoods, and drawing new residents to the city.

The list of requirements to qualify for the tax break is short: The development must be in one of the seven areas, must be a project involving at least 50 apartment units, and must have an environmentally friendly certification.  Supporters said this tax break would be more “predictable” for developers, who typically have to lobby City Hall for individual incentives.

“It can open up the development market to outside developers,” said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, which lobbied for the credit.  “Before, developers had to know the system in order to access some [tax] credits. It will create more predictability and transparency.”

Read more:  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-apartment-tax-incentive-20130408,0,332010.story

Snow: Lots In D.C., Less For Philly

The storm dubbed Saturn by the Weather Channel and Snowquester by the Washington Post is shaping up as a major event for D.C. and Baltimore, less so in the Philadelphia area.

West Virginia and western Virginia could see a foot-and-a-half of snow and areas closer to I-95 in Virginia and Maryland could see 10 inches of heavy wet snow that “will lead to power outages,” according to the National Weather Service.  Snow is expected there thoughout the day into the evening.  Federal offices in Washington closed this morning.

This morning’s revised forecast for most of the Philadelphia area, though, is calling for rain today that will start turning to snow in the early evening, producing an accumulation of perhaps two to four inches by Thursday morning.

Chester and Lancaster Counties, though, could see snow all day, with slushy conditions at first, as temperatures will be above freezing. But the snow could be heavy at times and accumulate more overnight, perhaps up to four inches.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Snow_Lots_in_DC_less_for_Philly.html

A Super Bowl Victory That Was Baltimore To The Bone


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a parade on Tuesday, the city will celebrate a world championship that was Baltimore to the bone — perfectly imperfect, an overachievement by an underdog and a surprise to sneering outsiders.

“I tell you what, we don’t make it easy,” said an uncharacteristically eloquent Joe Flacco as the Ravans quarterback held the Lombardi trophy, savored his selection as the Super Bowl’s most valuable player and, in this town, elevation to Johnny Unitas status.  “But that’s the way the city of Baltimore is, that’s the way we are.  We did this for them back home.

Though it started out that way, there was nothing easy about the Ravens’ win in the Big Easy.  Even the lights went out in the Superdome.

Read more:   http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-rodricks-0205-20130204,0,1206003.column

“Hairspray” At The Steel River Playhouse In Pottstown Is Not To Be Missed!

I had the great pleasure of attending today’s matinee performance of Hairspray at Pottstown’s Steel River Playhouse (formerly the TriPAC).  The theater was full for a Sunday afternoon show!

I saw Hairspray on Broadway and wasn’t sure if this would live up to that experience.  As usual the performance was stellar!  I enjoyed Hairspray just as much in Pottstown as I did on Broadway.  That’s saying something.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, this comedic musical takes place in Baltimore, circa 1962.  Overweight teenager, Tracy Turnblad wants to dance on the Corny Collins ShowThe story demonstrates the social injustice of racism in pre-Civil Rights Act America and speaks about society’s disdain for people who are calorically challenged.  This is done mostly through humor and song.   There are some poignant moments as well but you don’t feel “preached at”.  You also realize how much has not changed since 1962!

There are some veteran Steel River actors in this show: Gregory Kasander, Bill Kiesling, Matt Kiesling, Donna Dougherty and Alexa Morefield.  The mostly youthful cast does an outstanding job!    The Director and Choreographer, Zuhairah McGill gets major kudos for another top-notch production!  As always the live orchestra is superb as were all other aspects of the production: costumes, lighting, sound, scenery etc… 

All the main characters are excellent.  Gregory Kasander nails the Corny Collins role with a lounge lizard meets Ted Baxter from the Mary Tyler Moore Show interpretation.  Matt Kiesling is very believable as Link Larkin, teenage heart-throb and love interest of Tracy Turnblad.  Donna Dougherty’s Velma Von Tussel is the character you love to hate!

Nicole Bright gives a standout performance as our heroine, Tracy Turnblad.  She embodies everything her character is supposed to represent.  Tracy’s parents, played by Bob Goretski and Bill Kiesling are hysterical.  Some very famous actors have played Edna Turnblad (Harvey Fierstein and John Travolta to name a few).  A male always plays the Edna Turnblad role.  Bob Goretski may not be famous yet, but he did the role justice.

The other two actors I would like to mention are Willie Garner who plays Seaweed J. Stubs and Britney Leigh Hines who plays Motormouth Maybelle.  Their acting, singing and dancing are exceptional.

This production is well worth the price of admission!  Congratulations and thank you to Marta Kiesling and the entire staff at Steel River Playhouse for bringing quality entertainment to the Greater Pottstown area!  I hope many people take advantage of having this gem in Pottstown!

Hairspray at Steel River runs from June 7 – 24, 2012.  For dates, times, ticket prices and to buy tickets online, click here: http://www.steelriver.org/2012/05/hairspray/ or call the Box Office at 610-970-1199.

Poe Fans Call An End To ‘Toaster’ Tradition

1848 Daguerreotype of Edgar Allan Poe at 39, a...

Image via Wikipedia

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

Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes” Coming To An End

The Food Network‘s popular show “Ace of Cakes” will be airing its final season in 2011.  The show has had a long run and “Ace of Cakes” star Duff Goldman may be continuing his association with the Food Network.

Upper Pottsgrove Township native Geoffrey Manthorne stars on “Ace of Cakes” and also works as Executive Sous Chef at Charm City Cakes in Baltimore which is owned by Goldman.

Edgar Allan Poe Gets Overdue Funeral In Baltimore On Sunday

I am sure most of us were exposed to Edgar Allan Poe in school.  I remember reading his poetry and stories in English class.  I have visited his grave in Baltimore.

This talented but tortured soul had his life cut tragically short at the age of 40.  I often wonder how much more people like Poe would have contributed if they had lived a normal life span. 

After 160 years, Edgar Allan Poe is getting a proper funeral.  Actually two.  Tickets were sold and 350 people are expected to attend each service tomorrow. 

A replica of Edgar was made so there is a body to boot.  It will lie in state for 12 hours prior to the funerals for public viewing. 

Actor John Astin will be the master of ceremonies for the event.  How appropriate!  He was Gomez Addams on the Addams Family if you have forgotten!

RIP Edgar Allan Poe.