Pittsburgh’s Larimer Revival Concerns Residents

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)

Plans to revamp Pittsburgh’s Larimer section promise the creation of a new kind of neighborhood, where low-income residents are no longer clustered in housing projects or crumbling apartments, where subsidized housing units are scattered among market-rate ones.

But some are worried that the blueprints for the $100 million housing development would push residents in two places slated for demolition — East Liberty Gardens and a Pittsburgh Housing Authority-owned project — farther from transit lines and business districts.

“[The housing authority] is talking about moving me somewhere else,” said Robert Morton, who lives in one of 27 units in the Auburn/Hamilton-Larimer complex, which is owned by the housing authority. Mr. Morton, 64, uses a wheelchair.  “I can’t just uproot and go somewhere else.”

The city is currently preparing an application for a highly competitive $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with hopes of building some 350 units of mixed-income housing in the struggling neighborhood, to support jobs, parks and businesses similar to those in neighboring East Liberty.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburghs-larimer-revival-concerns-residents-697299/#ixzz2aRwXiz1o

Phoenixville Residents Voice Opposition To Housing Plan

PHOENIXVILLE — The council meeting room at Borough Hall was filled to the brim while residents strained to listen from the building’s lobby as council heard public comments against a planned development at Friendship Field Tuesday night.

“I think you can pretty much sense the temperament of the community in this council room,” Council President Rich Kirkner told a lawyer representing the development group, Michael B. Murray Jr.

After almost a dozen people got up to voice their opposition to the project set for the corner of Franklin and Fillmore streets, council unanimously voted to strike the project from its agenda amid cheers and applause from those in the audience.

The proposed plan, by Housing Development Corporation MidAtlantic, which focuses on providing affordable housing, called for four-story-tall apartment buildings called Parkview Heights.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130710/NEWS01/130719984/phoenixville-residents-voice-opposition-to-housing-plan#full_story

Pottstown Police Find 932 Bags Of Heroin In Apartment Of Parolee

1044756_392391437532570_1638549602_nEditor’s note:  Earth to borough council. You better get a grip on the pervasive drug problem in town!

POTTSTOWN —Police arrested a man on parole after they found a gun and more than 900 bags of heroin in his apartment.

Dashawn Smith, 22, of Pottstown was charged with one count of felony intent to manufacture or deliver and one count of felony possession of a firearm after Pennsylvania State Parole agents searched his Elm Street apartment on June 19.

During the search of Smith’s apartment, officers found a large yellow plastic bag under the kitchen sink that contained “numerous bundles” of red wax bags, and white rice, police said.

Read more:   http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130627/NEWS01/130629368/police-find-932-bags-of-heroin-in-apartment-of-parolee

Reading Looks To Rewrite The Rules To Help Business

Contractors, developers and even city officials have complained for years that getting approvals and permits from City Hall is too complicated and takes too long.

Developer Alan Shuman, prodded recently by City Council, said it often takes him four weeks and longer to get permits in hand for many of his projects.

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer had campaigned on building a more business-friendly City Hall and told a business group in April that it often takes four to six weeks to issue a permit.

“Businesses jump down my throat for that,” he said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=484891

Pottstown Cleanup Effort Brings Out Volunteers

Editor’s note:  Evan Brandt did a nice job of promoting a positive event that happened in Pottstown recently which demonstrated some civic pride and community spirit.  Both are in short supply.  We enjoyed reading Evan’s article until this statement caught our eye:

During Monday’s council meeting, Flanders agreed and added, “There are a lot of special interest groups in town who come to borough council asking for fees and permits to be waived.  I didn’t see any of those groups represented and I share that with you as food for thought.”

We have a problem with BM Flander’s comment.  As Borough Manager, you should be trying to unite factions, bring people together and be the biggest promoter of Pottstown.  Instead, we get the above “finger-pointing” comment.  A total “us and them” statement with a negative connotation.

So Mark, do you think making snide comments will encourage any of these groups to pitch in next time there is a community event like this?  There could be any number of reasons why people did not attend.  Every organization can’t take part in every borough activity.  Many of the organizations you are throwing out as “food for thought” are already doing something for the community.  

It’s time to put away the “tough guy” shtick and start acting like a leader who brings people together.   Maybe try to smile more.  You look angry all the time.  It’s hard to feel the love.

POTTSTOWN — A group of about 50 dedicated volunteers braved the heat recently to help spruce up the borough for the summer.

Unlike some previous efforts, efforts which once had Councilman Mark Gibson declare he would no longer help organize such efforts, this most recent clean-up was “a great success and I want to thank the community for doing an excellent job,” he told council at the June 5 meeting.

“Even during the heat, they showed up and they picked up,” Gibson said.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130611/NEWS01/130619784#full_story

Reading Water Authority Bills Include $95 Whammy

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With little advance notice to customers, the Reading Area Water Authority’s regular water and sewer bills mailed last week contained an extra $95 charge for city trash and recycling, and a demand that the charge be paid by month’s end lest penalties be imposed.

The move left Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer’s administration and the authority doing damage control, answering complaints by people who say they can’t pay the unexpected bill on time.

And it fueled City Council’s anger that Spencer shut it out of the process, then mishandled the planning.

“It’s outrageous,” customer Sandy Burkhart told council Monday.  “The city should think of us poor people who have nothing.”

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=477020

Renovo Citizens Criticize Police, Seek Answers

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Clinton County

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

RENOVO, PA – The Renovo Police Department came under fire at this week’s borough council meeting, with citizens charging that there’s a lack of accountability and job performance among officers.

The Wednesday night session became a sounding board for a group of about 20 mostly long-term Renovo residents who believe the department is not doing its job properly, and council is not providing sufficient oversight.

The complaints also come just months after South Renovo Borough dropped shared police coverage by the Renovo officers, saying they didn’t believe the neighboring borough just across the West Branch of the Susquehanna River was getting its money’s worth.

Read more:  http://www.lockhaven.com/page/content.detail/id/544725/Renovo-citizens-criticize-police–seek-answers.html?nav=5009

Reading Postal Facility To Lose 162 Jobs

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

USPS service delivery truck in a residential area of San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The U.S. Postal Service will close most operations in the Gus Yatron mail processing facility in north Reading by June 1 – and all of them by July 1 – transferring its work to a larger Harrisburg facility as part of a nationwide cost-cutting effort.

The move is expected to save $7.2 million a year, but it means the Yatron facility at 2100 N. 13th St. will lose 162 jobs.

However, the Harrisburg facility will add 87 jobs that many local employees will get.

The retail and bulk operations and their related services – such as post office boxes and counter service – will remain at the Yatron facility, Postal Service spokesman Ray V. Daiutolo Sr. said Thursday.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=464267

Fired West Reading Chief Coming Back As Patrolman, Sources Say

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We think this is a bad idea…just sayin’.

West Reading’s fired Police Chief Edward C. Fabriziani will return to the force as a patrolman in a deal being ironed out by borough officials, borough sources said.

Fabriziani, who was fired in November, is listed on the patrol schedule starting in April to cover other officers’ vacations, according to borough sources.

Borough council is expected to vote on the matter either at its regular March meeting or at a special meeting.

Fabriziani could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=455592

 

Amtrak’s Regulars Treasure The Pennsylvanian

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnsto...

English: An locomotive arriving at the Johnstown train station in Johnstown, . The train is Amtrak’s #42 Pennsylvanian. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ABOARD THE AMTRAK PENNSYLVANIAN — The steady rumble of steel wheels on tracks is punctuated by the wail of a locomotive horn and then, oddly, by the pop of a champagne cork.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and Amanda McCoy and Kim Christen are living it up in the cafe car. On the table are boxes of a Polish pastry called paczki, orange juice and a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly.

It’s mimosa time.

Ms. McCoy, of Indiana Township, and Ms. Christen, of West View, also have bread, garlic bologna, lettuce, tomato and a travel Scrabble set for the long ride. “We’re veterans,” Ms. McCoy says. “We know how to do it.”

Like many others aboard the train, they swear by it, and recoil at the possibility that the one daily Amtrak train serving Pittsburgh and Harrisburg will be eliminated in October.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/amtraks-regulars-treasure-the-pennsylvanian-675749/#ixzz2LDMwXNd9

PennDOT Efficiency Drive Could Free Up Funds For Roadwork

Editor’s note:  Who ever thought we would see PennDOT and efficiency in the same sentence!

Extra taxes and fees aren’t the only tricks PennDOT has up its sleeves to round up more money for road projects.

The agency’s also turning to some less obvious solutions to its funding woes, such as mail-sorting machines and more durable highway paint.

PennDOT’s put together a list of technology investments, policy changes and other tweaks it thinks could save the state $50 million to $75 million a year and, in some cases, make the agency a little more pleasant to deal with.

The anticipated savings are a drop in the bucket compared with the $3.5 billion gap between available funding and the state’s transportation needs.  But it’s something.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=446586

Plan For Takeover Of Reading Pagoda Advances

Picture 511The new nonprofit that plans to take over the city-owned Pagoda says it’s ready to rock, but agrees with the city there are too many outstanding issues, as well as confusion over board membership, to get the 99-year lease it wants.

In the meantime, both sides are considering a temporary agreement allowing the Reading Pagoda Foundation to take over operations while the other issues are resolved.

The first of them: The year-old Foundation for the Reading Public Museum has a board, but none of its members were nominated by Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer nor approved by City Council as required, member Lee C. Olsen told City Council last week.

Rather, they were members of the task force set up by former Mayor Tom McMahon and, when the foundation recommended by the task force was created, sort of morphed into the foundation board, he said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=446240

Conversations With Your Montgomery County Commissioners

Join the Montgomery County Commissioners in a conversation on the administration’s first year in office.  Learn about new initiatives the commissioners will be working on in 2013, and have your questions about county government answered.  Monday, Feb. 11th, 7 pmMontgomery County Community College, West Campus, Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.  For more information please call the Commissioners’ office at 610-278-3062.

Graziano Reviews Scranton Police Department’s Goals For 2013

Editor’s note:  Imagine that.  Goals, leadership, a positive attitude from the top down AND a concern for the quality of life of city residents.  Hmmmmm… is this too good to be true?  Does this actually happen in the real world?   I can think of a borough that could use an infusion of Chief Graziano’s I love my job attitude.  It’s obvious that everybody doesn’t love their job, especially when they make really awful comments about they town they work in.  Just sayin….

Acting Scranton Police Chief Carl Graziano has a plan in mind for the city Police Department in 2013.  Some ideas build upon a foundation laid by previous programs and chiefs; others completely new.

The mentality he is bringing during his first full year as police chief is simple: help his officers do their job by getting them the best community support and equipment possible.

“I believe we have a lot of good quality officers here,” Chief Graziano said.  “One of my main goals is you’ve got to give the people below you the tools to do their jobs.”

The first goal is to continue and improve upon the community partnership by offering more proactive neighborhood policing with two new beat cop positions created solely for patrolling and addressing quality-of-life issues for residents.

Pottstown Borough Departments Reorganized

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN — After several years without one, Pottstown has a new assistant borough manager — although she has a familiar face.

Erica Weekley, who has spent the last several years as Pottstown’s grants administrator, was the person newly-minted Borough Manager Mark Flanders chose for the post.

He made the announcement during the Dec. 10 council meeting.

And those are not the only changes either already implemented or in the works at borough hall.

Read more:  http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130102/NEWS01/130109943/erica-weekley-named-assistant-manager-for-pottstown-#full_story

Motor City Lessons For Reading

City officials were shocked, saddened, thankful and relieved by their three-day bus trip to Detroit that began Nov. 13.

The fast-paced tour, paid for entirely by two local foundations, was to see what progress the Motor City has made in its own painful recovery, and what efforts there might work in Reading.

As Detroit’s Big Three automakers declined, tax revenues dropped and more than half its 1.8 million residents moved out. The city had to cut services such as fire suppression and police from large sections of the city.

But now, with help from foundations and businesses, it’s making numerous coordinated moves to rebuild.

Reasd more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432745

City Of Reading Budget Plan Calls For 15% Property Tax Hike

 

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer, angry at the city’s outside consultants who he said forced an austerity plan on the city at the last minute, on Wednesday presented a $73.4 million proposed 2013 budget that includes a 15 percent property tax hike.

But Spencer said he didn’t support the spending plan.

“This forced austerity plan suggests that we continue on a narrow pathway where our citizens pay more and get less,” he told City Council.

Council members agreed.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=418705

Birdsboro Faces $114,000 Deficit As Tax Revenue Drops

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Police Chief Theodore R. Roth spent most of Monday night’s Birdsboro Borough Council meeting silently staring at a copy of the 2013 budget spreadsheet.

But after more than 90 minutes of listening to council discuss how to balance next year’s $1.85 million budget, Roth could no longer keep quiet about rumors that his department was going to be downsized.

“I hear you’re facing two options, both of which are not very palatable,” he told council. “I’m asking what are those options but it seems like no one is willing to say it in public.”

Roth said his officers had heard that council discussed cutting an officer during recent executive sessions.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=418218

Dozens Apply For Pottstown Borough Manager Post, Background Checks Pending

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We can only hope that whom ever is selected, and paid a very large salary, will be allowed to do their job. We would expect this person to have formidable expertise for the price tag. Why spend this kind of money if you are just going to hire a sock puppet, yes man/woman? It’s a complete waste of taxpayer money! Based on the previous history in Pottstown, certain people try and “run the show” and circumvent the staff.  If this practice will continue, and I have NO DOUBT it will, then this is an exercise in futility.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Tomorrow is the last day for those interested in becoming Pottstown’s next borough manager to apply and anyone who does will find themselves up against 35 to 40 who have already applied.

Borough Council President Stephen Toroney told council Wednesday that the applications have come from all over the country.

“Some are local, some come from all over the United States and there are some very qualified individuals among them,” he said. “So the process is moving forward.”

Wednesday, council agreed in principle that the process will include a background check costing the borough between $2,500 and $3,000.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120907/NEWS01/120909650/dozens-apply-for-pottstown-borough-manager-post-background-checks-pending&pager=full_story

8 States With Deepest Funding Cuts

Editor’s note:  Pennsylvania did NOT make this list….you may be surprised by some of the states that did!

The Great Recession pinched state governments, forcing them to be less generous with local communities which, in turn, had less to spend on students, police and programs for the poor.

For nearly three decades, local governments could count on a steady increase in money from their two biggest funding sources — the states and property taxes.

That changed in 2009 and 2010, when local governments took in less from both sources, according to a report last month from the Pew American Cities Project.  The funding shortfall has forced many cities, towns, counties and school districts to tighten their belts.

24/7 Wall St identified the eight states making the steepest cuts in funding to local governments. The website’s analysis of data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that these states were having their own budget problems as tax receipts shriveled in an anemic economy.

Read more: http://money.msn.com/investing/8-states-with-deepest-funding-cuts