A hotly contested mayor’s race came to an end Tuesday night in West Reading, with independent Valentin Rodriguez Jr. trumping two opponents to earn the seat with 290 votes.
Democrat Peter B. Gustis and Republican Kathleen Frymoyer trailed, with 151 and 150 votes, respectively.
Results were complete but unofficial Tuesday night.
Rodriguez will replace Shane J. Keller, who opted not to seek re-election.
It’s seen a century of Reading — the good and the bad, the highs and the lows.
It’s served as the entrance and the exit to the city, the first thing people see when they come and go.
But most of all, the Penn Street Viaduct — the formal name for the 1,337 feet of concrete arches that span the Schuylkill River to connect the main thoroughfares of Reading and West Reading — has become an icon.
The president of West Reading Borough Council said Wednesday that council hopes to decide soon on who will lead the police force.
The statement from Kevin M. Conrad put the kibosh on rumors that council had hired a new chief Tuesday night.
“It’s been long, and I know people are getting very antsy about it, and I fully understand that,” Conrad said by phone. “It’s an important position for the borough. We’re not going to take chances on just hiring the first person. We’re looking for someone that is going to have a future in the borough.”
The West Reading Recreation Commission met at borough hall Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning, rumblings among residents were that council had hired a chief during a secret meeting.
Reading officials are hoping that a visit Wednesday from the state’s community and economic development secretary will result in millions of dollars in grant money to build a thriving business district downtown.
City officials are anticipating that the state has accepted the city’s application to be designated as a Keystone Community, which would provide access to economic development-related funds.
They say they haven’t been given the final word, but city officials said state Community and Economic Development Secretary C. Alan Walker is coming to Reading to make an announcement Wednesday.
“We’re hoping that’s part of the reason why he’s coming,” Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer said Monday.
Reading Health System plans to build a $354 million clinical building on its West Reading campus, a move hospital officials say could keep more Berks County patients in the area for their medical care.
“What we’re really doing is upgrading what we currently have and bringing some of our facilities into the 21st century,” said Mark McNash, vice president of support services for the Reading Health System. “We’re excited to offer state-of-the-art surgical facilities for the community.”
Construction of the eight-story building on Seventh Avenue and Parkside Drive will begin in September. It will take three years to complete, McNash said.
Health system officials say they are undertaking the ambitious and expensive project because the hospital building is outdated in some respects.
Former West Reading Police Officer Ronald E. Ladd has been cleared of a harassment charge stemming from the altercation last August that resulted in his firing.
The ruling, issued Friday by Berks County Judge Timothy J. Rowley, overturned Ladd’s November conviction, which carried a $300 fine and courts costs.
“I’m thankful,” Ladd said Monday of his successful appeal. “Very thankful for the judge to be able to look at this unbiased, and deep in my heart I knew that eventually justice would be served. And I’m just very thankful.”
Despite the good news in court, Ladd remains without a job a week after West Reading’s Civil Service Commission upheld his November firing from the borough force.
It was quick, to the point, and for many in attendance at the West Reading Fire Department, it didn’t come as much of a surprise.
Following a hearing that began in February and concluded in May, a three-member Civil Service Commission ruled Wednesday night to uphold the borough’s November firing of former police Officer Ronald E. Ladd.
“I think the evidence in its totality convinced us,” commission member Stephen F. DeLucas said afterward of the decision.
DeLucas was referring to testimony and other accounts of the Aug. 31 altercation between Ladd and former police Chief Edward C. Fabriziani, whom Ladd is accused of assaulting in the chief’s office that summer day.
The West Reading Police Department could hire a new police chief as early as next week.
Interviews were conducted Tuesday with three final candidates, according to multiple borough officials and department sources.
The finalists were identified by sources as Reading Police Department Capt. Steven Powell, who heads the city’s patrol division; former long-time Wyomissing detective Dan Billings, now director of security at St. Joseph Medical Center; and an unnamed officer from the Philadelphia area.
Reached Wednesday, Powell and Billings confirmed that they had interviewed for the chief’s spot, but declined to comment further.
The search for a new West Reading police chief continues, with borough officials confirming Tuesday that they’re reviewing applicants to fill the position left open by former Chief Edward C. Fabriziani’s move back to patrolman.
“We’re moving forward,” Council President Kevin M. Conrad said of the hiring process, which he refused to put a timeline on.
Borough Manager Richard J. Sichler declined to say how many resumes had been received.
However, when reached after the meeting, Sgt. Keith Phillips, acting police chief, said that he had interviewed for the chief’s position.
SAVE THE DATE: SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2013 11:00 AM-6:00 PM (RAIN OR SHINE)
The West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation is proud to present the nineteenth annual Art on the Avenue. The community’s premier family festival features fine arts and crafts made by local juried artists. Each year thousands of people are drawn to Penn Avenue, West Reading as the event continues to grow. Located in the Greater Reading hub for arts, culture, shopping, and dining, this event appeals to both novice buyers and experienced art patrons. Additionally the venue features live music, street performers, local businesses, and specialty foods.
For more information visit www.ArtOnTheAvenue.wrcrf.org
In the literal sense, that could mean a dozen of West Reading baker Ady Abreu’s newest creations, a collaboration with Godiva Chocolatier.
During May, Ady Cakes is selling a dozen cupcakes inspired by and including Godiva truffles.
Abreu said she was excited to team up with a global company that has a strong local presence to create a new product.
She was able to tour the global chocolatier’s facility in Exeter Township, checking out the kitchen and speaking with Global Executive Chef Chocolatier Thierry Muret.
Just off Penn Avenue on West Reading’s South Seventh Avenue, the home of the late James M.K. Waldron sits inconspicuously atop a hill, the onset of rows of residences moving away from the main corridor.
The facade is freshly painted, and a new flight of concrete steps leads to a newly finished porch.
There’s nary a sign of the mysterious past of the home once occupied by Reading Public Museum‘s curator of fine arts.
No indication that until last summer it seemed to be frozen in time: back to 1974, when Waldron, a watercolor artist in his own right, died at age 64.
Motorists worried about finding alternate routes between Reading and West Reading while the Buttonwood Street Bridge is closed for two years can relax for now.
Bridge repairs, which were scheduled to start about now, have been delayed for a year. The work now is slated to begin in April 2014.
The hang-up is due largely to the need to figure out where traffic will go while the bridge is closed and getting all the necessary permits and reviews, said Ryan Hunter, Berks County facilities and operations director.
Various reviews are needed for bridges that cross water, railroad tracks and highways, he said. Buttonwood Street crosses all three.
The West Reading Police Department is back to full force following a firearms certification mix-up that temporarily took six officers off the streets.
Sgt. Keith Phillips, acting officer in charge, confirmed that all of the officers, including himself, had been recertified and returned to regular duty by Friday afternoon.
Editor’s note: They sure are having one problem after another in the department!
Half of the West Reading Police Department, including the acting officer in charge, was placed on temporary administrative leave Thursday after it was discovered that the firearms certification for a department range instructor had lapsed.
Borough sources confirmed that six officers – five full-time and one part-time – were taken off the streets for the day as department officials worked to resolve the issue.
“Yes, I have officers who I have instructed the officer in charge that I do not want working until their firearms certifications have been updated,” West Reading Mayor Shane J. Keller said. “We have them scheduled (to be recertified) at 8 a.m. (today), so this will be taken care of relatively quickly.”
Keller declined to discuss who was at fault for the error.
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.
West Reading‘s fired police chief could be returning to the streets as a patrolman under terms being negotiated, borough officials have confirmed.
Ex-Chief Edward C. Fabriziani was slated to appear before the borough’s Civil Service Commission tonight for a hearing seeking reinstatement and back pay.
That hearing, however, has been postponed to allow for further negotiations, Fabriziani’s attorney, Kevin A. Moore, has confirmed.
A Jan. 15 letter from Moore to West Reading solicitor Daniel C. Becker, obtained by the Reading Eagle and confirmed by two borough officials, outlines terms being discussed.
One day after losing their jobs for fighting in the West Reading police chief’s office, the chief and his adversary squared off again Thursday, only this time in a courtroom.
Edward C. Fabriziani, who had been chief for 16 years, and Ronald E. Ladd, an 18-year veteran of the borough force, gave their versions of the Aug. 31 scuffle that sent Fabriziani to Reading Hospital by ambulance.
After hearing the testimony of both men and a county detective who investigated the incident, Senior District Judge Paul J. Hadzick sided with Fabriziani’s version.
After a one-hour trial, Hadzick found Ladd guilty of a summary count of harassment and ordered Ladd to pay a $300 fine and court costs.