Friday, November 24, 2017

Coventry Singers to Perform 'Songs of the Season'

The Coventry Singers

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by The Coventry Singers

The Coventry Singers are performing their Christmas Concert “Songs of the Season” Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 in Pottstown and Birdsboro. 

The concert is a musical program of sacred and secular works to welcome the holiday and features traditional carols and contemporary Christmas songs. Selections include arrangements of Silent Night, Carol of the Bells, Breath of Heaven and White Christmas.

This concert welcomes a new director to the stand. Dan Kershetsky assumed the role of director in September of this year. Dan, a 1981 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education, and a 1993 graduate of West Chester University, with a Master of Music Degree in Music Education, has spent 33 years in public education, most recently teaching in the Boyertown Area School District for 26 years. 

Choral groups under his direction were involved in competitive situations and consistently achieved highest ratings at various adjudicated festivals. His ensembles have also traveled internationally with performances in England, France, Italy, Austria, Prague, and the Czech Republic. He retired from Boyertown in 2014. 

Nadine Lydic returns as piano accompanist. Nadine holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her master’s degree in music is from West Chester University. She also is a retired teacher from the Boyertown School District.

The Coventry Singers, a choir of about 40 voices, have been performing in the Pottstown area since 1972. They have performed with the Pottstown Symphony, the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, and at Longwood Gardens Christmas Concert Series. 

More recently they have performed Handel’s Messiah with the Reading Choral Society, the National Anthem at the Reading Royals hockey games and participated in the Pottstown Relay for Life luminaria lighting ceremony.

Performances take place Saturday Dec. 2 at 3 p.m at Cedarville United Methodist Church, 1092 Laurelwood Road, Pottstown, and Sunday Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 5 Brooke Manor, Birdsboro. 

 The concerts are free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be accepted. 

For more information about the Coventry Singers, visit their website or find them on Facebook at Coventry Singers-Pottstown, Pa.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Donna Cuthbert, the Unexpected Environmentalist

Donna Cuthbert, center, with blog post author Susan Burke, right
and physicist Ernest Sternglass.
Blogger's Note: I was out of town on Sept. 14 when I learned that Donna Cuthbert, the lion behind the Alliance for a Clean Environment, had passed away. 

I was able to attend her memorial service and had meant to write a column appreciating her drive and her passion for reducing environmental risks, but the clock got away from me. 

Luckily, Susan Burke, a friend of ours, contacted me and asked if she could write one. 

Here it is:

When I first met Donna Cuthbert, it was at her house. We went downstairs into the Alliance for a Clean Environment office, filled with notebooks labelled and organized like a library.

Donna and I sat and spoke at her desk. Her granddaughter came in briefly, and Donna took the time to talk with her too.

Then we walked into the next room. I saw it. Hanging on the wall, actually encompassing the entire wall, was a map. A HUGE MAP! This map was of the Greater Pottstown area and was covered in colored dots. Each dot represented a person – a person (adult or child) who had cancer.

This was Donna’s cancer map.

I was in shock. The dots formed circles and lines and there were too many of them to fully comprehend the gravity of the disease’s impact on the community. Our friendship began there, and never stopped.

We shared a passion for clothing, and we each appreciated the other’s style. We shared a love of children and family and hard work. We shared the determination to get to the truth. Truth was key. 

Many go about their lives ignoring truth, because of the pain that may accompany understanding it.

There was no stopping now. I sat back down with Donna, and I asked her what her dream was – what SHE hoped to accomplish most. Without skipping a breath, she said “closing the Landfill.”

The Pottstown Landfill in West Pottsgrove represented a massive reservoir of contamination. The smell could be noticed traveling down Route 100. Facts from official documents showed dumping of waste from other countries, and even radioactive waste. Then Donna said “but this will never happen.”

But Donna proved her own words wrong. It did happen, and I know that she is at the heart of the Landfill closure.

Even Kathleen McGinty, Pennsylvania chief environmental officer, came to a Pottstown press conference at Donna’s request to better understand this danger, and enlighten the press and local people about the hazards of the Landfill. 

Not long afterward, the word came: the Pottstown Landfill would be closing. Donna’s years of hard research had paid off. 

One toxic site closed down, and many future cancers would be prevented.

Donna also knew of the heavily toxic chemicals that were across town at the OxyChem plant. At times, people reported a yellow film that covered their cars, and they would call ACE for information about this toxic film. Donna’s research continued. 

They asked Donna about various cancers they felt were attributable to the chemical plant. In time, OxyChem closed as well.

Donna’s wish of a healthier Pottstown was progressing. However, these toxins linger and remain in food, water, and people for decades. No one knows the true impact of these polluters.

I recall Donna collecting children’s teeth for the baby tooth study. The teeth were tested for Strontium-90, a chemical produced only in atomic bomb tests and nuclear reactors. Teeth from the tri-county area had the highest average Strontium-90 concentration of any of the six nuclear plant areas studied, a precursor of cancer later in life.

I remember when renowned physicist Dr. Ernest Sternglass came to Pottstown to help with the tooth project. He stayed with the Cuthberts, and Donna and he became good friends. They spent long hours discussing the implications of radiation, and their hope for a better future.

Donna had calls flooding in from people near the Limerick nuclear plant. Not only were there multiple cancers reported around the plant, but other strange events, which Donna documented in Letters of the Editor, and on ACE’s show. 

People reported trains traveling through the power plant property – a red flag considering the enormous security risk posed by nuclear plants. It was documented (and still exists) that the cooling tower lights remain out, still unlit even though the Limerick airport is just a mile away. 

This raises the risk of a plane crashing into one of the towers. People wanted to know more, and Donna was the one who would open up her library to all in need.

She lived a healthy life, using essential oils and natural remedies in her own home. Just this past summer, for my birthday, Donna made me my own essential oil kit. Every time I smell my oils, I think of Donna. 

We always enjoyed breakfast at Arlene’s on Asbury Avenue, when she and her husband Buzz were here at the shore.

Many may remember her from her family clothing shop, Madaras, in Stowe, and many may remember her from school board meetings in Pottsgrove. Words do not describe fully what Donna contributed to her family and the Pottstown area, but here are just a few: dedicated, honest, courageous, relentless, energetic, passionate, and humanitarian.

Even when Donna herself was not well, she never turned away a phone call from a person with questions about health or environment. She was always thinking about other people and their well-being. I miss her, and will never forget the enormous impact she made on the lives of many, including me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner Provided for 200 Area Families

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the YWCA Tri-County Area.
Two hundred Pottstown-area families will have a full Thanksgiving meal this year, thanks to YWCA Tri-County Area and Exelon Generating Station.

Exelon donated funds to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for families whose children attend YWCA’s Early Education Center. 

Each family receives a turkey, fresh green beans and potatoes, canned corn and cranberry sauce, a box of stuffing mix, and a pie.

Exelon also contributed to Operation Warm, which provides warm winter coats to children at the Early Education Center. Children received their new coats earlier this week.

YWCA Tri-County Area is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YW3CA is a leader in advocacy for women and girls, works to eliminate racism, and empowers women through quality affordable childcare, adult literacy, and a host of programs to support the health and vitality of women, girls, and families.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Polishing a Township Jewel in Upper Pottsgrove

Photos by Evan Brandt

A graph on the wall of the township meeting room shows where most of your tax dollars go.

At this time of year, I am obligated to reported first on the township's proposed $4 million budget, which calls for no tax increase over the current millage.

Adding to that good news, is the fact that the township is creating an "operational reserve" to the tune of $600,000 funded entirely with contributions from developers from projects dating all the way back to 2003.

The biggest is $390,000 that is available thanks to an agreement that ended a challenge to the township's zoning ordinance and ultimately involved the school board for a project once called "Crossroads."

The townhomes along Route 100 were first proposed by developer Richard Mingey but ultimately passed into ownership a non-profit building housing for working class incomes.

Part of that agreement requirement "contributions" to the township when permits were finally pulled for the long-delayed project.

Retiring Public Works employee Larry Kuser, left,. receives
a plaque recognizing 27 years of service from Elwood Taylor.
Add to that another $160,000 due to the township as a result of the completion of Coddington View, the townhouse development off Farmington Avenue that for years was tangled up with the bankruptcy of THP Properties.

Also of note at the meeting was the recognition of Larry Kuser, a public works employee who is retiring after 27 years with Upper Pottsgrove. He received a plaque from Commissioners Chairman Elwood Taylor, but declined to make a fuss. "I don't do speeches," he said.

Which brings us to the jewel that got polished Monday night.

As part of its charter, Althouse Arboretum director Ken Hamilton must deliver an annual report to the commissioners on the open space property Commissioner Herb Miller is fond of calling "a jewel in Upper Pottsgrove."

Hamilton delivered some starting and encouraging statistics about the use the 17-acre parcel.

He said the arboretum is run in partnership with an organization called Green Allies and has benefited from the services of nearly 400 volunteers.

Taking an informal census of users brings Hamilton to the conclusion that the property is used by an average of 23 people per day, or 6,343 people who simply walk the trails.

Upper Pottsgrove Commissioner Herb Miller, left,
introduces Ken Hamilton, director of Althouse Arboretum.
Add to that the 3,650 people who participated in the 58 programs sponsored by Green Allies and outside organizations and you're starting to talk real numbers.

In three years, the arboretum has hosted 2,300 elementary students and about 20,000 visitors.

New this year, and already the most-popular is a children's forest trail and a children's wildlife viewing platform is already under constructions.

The arboretum also sports a low-ropes course, which has already been used by 350 people and a Christmas tree recycling program that collected 300 trees last year, all with the help of Pottsgrove High School's Spark the Wave Club volunteers.

The arboretum hosted seven part- and full-day summer camps this year and they were sold out by March.

Miller said Althouse hosted more than 4,000 visitors in 2017 and 2,552 miles logged on township trails. "I think that's significant."

"This is not just open space, this is open space with a purpose," Hamilton said. In 2018, he plans to start a membership program at the site, which will be free at the basic level, to all Upper Pottsgrove residents whose voluntarily increased earned income taxes helped to buy the property.

"Our goal is to get as many people outside, and have a more healthy lifestyle, as possible," Hamilton said.

That all said, here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pottsgrove Manor Sets 12th Night, Candlelight Tours

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor.

Pottsgrove Manor announces the opening of its holiday tour, Twelfth Night, which begins on Nov. 24, and will continue through to Jan. 6 during normal museum hours.

A special tour occurs on Dec. 10, when the annual yuletide event, “Pottsgrove Manor by Candlelight,” is held from 2 to 8 p.m.

Visitors of all ages are invited to tour Pottsgrove Manor during a special holiday event where living history interpreters will bring a celebration of Twelfth Night to life.

Journey through the house to discover how the Potts family, their guests, and the household staff experienced this winter festivity. 

Join in with parlor games, listen to songs and music, and find out what is cooking in our 18th century reproduction kitchen. Marvel at the elaborate dessert displays set up for the party and compare and contrast the seasonal decorations familiar to us today with those used in the 18th century. 

As you head throughout the house, discover the hectic and often cramped behind-the-scenes work that the household servants would need to do to prepare for this special evening. Compare some of the special holiday treats the Potts family purchased to traditional holiday items today. 

Pottsgrove Manor’s staff and volunteers will be answering questions to provide insight into the history of Twelfth Night celebrations.

Children can also make a holly craft they can take home to bring a sense of history and as a reminder of this special night. Refreshments featuring colonial-style treats are also available at the end of the tour. 

Don’t forget to check out the museum shop to find the perfect holiday gift, history book, or unique 18th century reproduction item.

A donation of $2 per person is suggested for this event. 

Everyone is encouraged to dress for the weather as part of the tour does feature being outside. Parking is free. 

Follow the signs for the parking location at Pottstown Memorial Park. There will be free shuttle rides during the event between parking lot and Pottsgrove Manor. Handicapped parking is available in the museum’s parking lot.

For nearly two months, the manor will be decorated with holly and greenery to celebrate the winter season as lavish dessert displays alongside party games and activities will transport visitors back to the 18th century.

See the Holly Man festively adorned to greet the guests of the Potts and learn about colonial parlor games such as Snapdragon. 

Pottsgrove Manor's regular hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. with the last tour of the day beginning at 3 p.m. 

The site is closed Mondays, as well as Dec. 24th and Dec. 31st.

Pottsgrove Manor is located at 100 West King Street near the intersection of King Street and Route 100, just off Route 422. 

Pottsgrove Manor is operated by Montgomery County under the direction of the Parks, Trails, and Historic Sites Division of the Assets and Infrastructure Department. 

For more information, please call 610-326-4014, or visit the website at

Like Pottsgrove Manor on Facebook at

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pottsgrove Toss Your Turkey 5K Set for Nov. 23

Pottsgrove High School Cross Country will present the 7th Annual Toss Your Turkey 5K on Thursday, Nov. 23, starting at 8:30 a.m.

Online Registration: is at

Long-sleeve tech shirts will be provided to the first 500 registrants.

The race, which is chip-timed, offers cash prizes to the first and second male and female.

A one-mile "family run" will be held at 9:10 a.m.

The race begins at  Montgomery County Community College, 101 College Drive, Pottstown, PA.

Day of registration and day of packet pick up starts at 7 a.m.

Yes, you can literally toss a turkey at this race.
GIMMICK ALERT: All entrants will have the opportunity to “toss” a frozen turkey (which will be
provided) from 7 until 8:20.

Male and female who tosses his/her turkey the farthest AND runs the 5k will win Saucony shoes from Chester County Running Store

AWARDS: Overall male/female winner receives $100, second place $50.

The course is very flat, wheel-measured 5K loop (80% of race on Schuylkill River Trail)

ENTRY: $25 postmarked (or on-line) by Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. After this and race day the cost: $30.

Pre-Registered Group/Family Rate: 5 entries for $100 and $20 for each additional runner. Must be mailed in one envelope. Group/Family rates are also available to on-line entries.

Sly Fox Track Club members: special $20 pre-registered.

There is also a Kids 1 mile Fun Run for free.

Make checks payable to “Pottsgrove Cross Country” and mail them to Larry Rechtin, Pottsgrove High School, 1345 Kauffman Rd, Pottstown, PA 19464 or email to:

Top Male and Female Age Groups: (Top 3 12 and under will receive trophies)
All other groups receive awards listed below:
13-15, 16-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70+

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Children Warmed by Generosity of Exelon Employees

Barth Elementary staff and students with some of the winter coats being donated by employees Exelon's Limerick Generating Station through Operation Warm.

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown School District.

Many Pottstown School District students do not have access to necessary winter apparel, but thanks to a local company, they have the winter coats that they need. 

Exelon Limerick Generating Station employees have been donating coats to Pottstown students for the past six years through the Operation Warm program. 

This year, 182 coats will be distributed to students in all four elementary buildings and the middle school.

“I’ve been working with Operation Warm to supply coats to families on behalf of Exelon Limerick Generating Station for the past five years,” said Donna Christman. “It’s a very rewarding experience to see the smiles on the children's faces when they receive their coats for the winter.”

School principals and staff appreciate that their students are equipped with warm enough clothing, and the students show gratitude. 

“A couple students commented that they received jackets last year and demonstrated their appreciation to get a jacket that fits them” said Ryan Oxenford, Barth Elementary School Principal. “I think it’s an incredible example of generosity for an organization to reach out to our community and offer to provide assistance in some basic needs which helps families, especially at this time of year.”