Thursday, July 30, 2015

Changing the Borough's Rental Rules

Photo by Evan Brandt
Say what you want about Pottstown, but the folks who take care of the landscaping around borough hall are doing one hell of a job. This was my view as I walked to the meeting and I have to say it was very pleasant.

About a dozen landlords attending a meeting held Wednesday night in Pottstown Borough Hall to brief them about the changes underway in the borough's rental ordinances.

Chief among these is the switch to a new inspection schedule of every two years for rental properties.

But it will take 30 months for the borough to shift to this system, so until 2018, the borough will also (within reason, depending on the last inspection) conduct inspections when tenants change, as is currently done.

The landlords had a lot of questions, but generally seemed pleased at the effort by Licensing and Inspections Director Keith Place to reach out and explain the changes, and listen to their concerns.

Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Political Kabuki and Property Tax Reform

Photo by Evan Brandt

Gov. Tom Wolf, speaking at Phoenixville Area Middle School, stands between placards prepared by his staff espousing the benefits of his budget proposal, left, and the deficiencies of the Republican proposal, at right.

Yesterday was the second time I have covered an event featuring Pennsylvania's new governor, Tom Wolf, and I must say I continue to be impressed with his priorities.

Helping small older cities like Pottstown and his native York; funding public education at a level that gives us something less that the worst rating for the gap between rich and poor districts, and property tax reform.

He's also fairly personable and at ease with people, something his predecessor never seemed to master in the several times that I met him.

Here is some video from the beginning of his remarks:

But he is in for a tough fight on this budget.

The Republicans, who never resolved pensions, property taxes or state liquor store issues when they controlled the House, Senate and Governor's mansion for four years, now insist all those things must be dealt with in four weeks before a budget can be adopted.

I also just realized, pardon me, I'm slow, that at the same time the Republicans are slamming Wolf for a property tax proposal that hikes personal income and sales taxes this year for property tax relief next year -- their own proposal does the EXACT SAME THING.

If that isn't "political Kabuki," a phrase I heard for the first time yesterday and immediately adopted, then I don't know what is.

But there may be some light to inject into this.

After Wolf's press conference, I participated in a conference call with the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center about an analysis which suggests that there may be a path toward agreement on property tax reform, if both sides can do away with the posturing and theatrics.

You can read more about it in Sunday's Mercury .... once I write it.

In the meantime, here are the Tweets from today's event, Kabuki and all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Going to (Geo-Hydrology) School in New Hanover

First of all, allow me to wax on a bit about what a charming locale was chosen for a municipal meeting, the old historic schoolhouse in New Hanover.

It had the two things I most appreciate in a historic site -- authenticity and air conditioning.

(During a recent visit to FDR's historic home in New Hyde Park, we entered the mansion only to be told the air conditioning had broken down. It was hard to appreciate history when your glasses kept fogging up.)

Secondly, bravo to the township supervisors for saying they don't know enough about the science of  potential contamination being released by Gibraltar Rock';s quarrying. (It's not often you hear a politician say they don't know enough.)

Thirdly, a second bravo for saying they need to learn more, and then inviting someone who knows more to teach them. (They just moved from "politicians" to "concerned public officials" in my playbook.)

And fourthly, congrats to them for voting Monday night to have solicitor Paul Bauer write to the DEP and essentially ask "why aren't you doing more about this."

During last night's meeting, Bauer opined that the DEP should have stepped in when Gibraltar Rock bought 18 acres of land from the owner of the contaminated former oil site in December.

We'll see where it goes from here people.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Living History Sundays Coming to Pottsgrove Manor

Gunsmithing will be among the activities at Pottsgrove Manor during Living History Sundays in August.
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Pottsgrove Manor

Come spend a casual summer Sunday afternoon at historic Pottsgrove Manor and enjoy the 18th century surroundings as volunteers demonstrate colonial trades and pastimes.

Horn-smithing was another colonial craft that will be demonstrated.
On August 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Pottsgrove Manor’s living history volunteers, dressed in colonial period clothing, will be living life the 18th century way.

Activities may include needlework, spinning, tape weaving, gunsmithing, hornsmithing, cooking, and more.

Visitors can watch, learn, and even join in! Activities will vary from week to week, so call ahead or check the site’s webpage at PottsgroveManor to find out what will be offered that day.

A donation of $2 per person is suggested for this program. Guests can also tour the manor house, see the museum’s current exhibit, “Pride of Place: The Local Legacy of the Potts Family,” and shop in the museum store on their visit.

Colonial stitching methods will also be demonstrated.
The “Pride of Place” exhibit can also be viewed during a guided tour of Pottsgrove Manor during regular museum hours now through November 8th. Regular museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tours are given on the hour.

The last tour of the day begins at 3:00 p.m. The site is closed Mondays and major holidays. Groups of then or more should pre-register by calling 610-326-4014.

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

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, July 26, 2015

Mango Men Tonight at Sanatoga Bandshell

The Barbone Street Band played at the Sanatoga bandshell on July 19.
The Lower Pottsgrove Township Summer Concert Series will present "Mango Men" tonight at the bandshell in Sanatoga Park at 6 p.m.

The show is part of the township parks and recreation department's summer concert series which continues through Aug. 9.

The next show is "Kropp & Friends" on Wednesday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

"Where's Pete" will perform on Sunday, Aug. 2 at 6 p.m.

And on Sunday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m., the Pottsgrove Community Band will close out the series.

If the weather looks nasty, check out Lower Pottsgrove's Facebook page or web site to check on the status of the concerts.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Beef & Victory Beer Benefits ArtFusion 19464

Today is the last day to get a $5 discount on tickets to the Saturday, Aug. 8 fifth annual beef and beer fundraiser for ArtFusion 19464.

This year’s event will again be held at the ArtFusion facility at 254 E. High St. from 6 to 9 p.m.

Advance tickets are $20, if purchased before July 25. 

Tickets purchased after this date are $25. 

If the event has not sold out, tickets will be available at the door. 

Tickets can be bought online at, in person at ArtFusion, or over the phone by calling 610-326-2506

Guests can choose a beef entrée, or a vegetarian sandwich option.

Victory Brewing Company has once again generously donated their amazing beer for this event. 

The Butcher and the BBQ will be making the hot beef sandwiches and Montesano Bros. will again be creating their amazing side salads and veggie sandwiches. 

The Community Gardens in Pottstown will be donating a fresh garden salad for everyone to enjoy. 

There will be soda and water in addition to Victory beer and homemade desserts to finish off the meal.

Along with enjoying great food and great beer, guests will have the chance to win fun door prizes and try their luck at a 50/50 raffle. 

Guests could win a $50 Wegman's gift card, a gift basket from local soapmaker Scentual Gardens, a
Artwork by Barbara Tschantre
gift card from Connections coffee shop, goodies from Milkman Cake Shoppe, a “Shop Local” gift basket donated by Dolan Law Group, a basket of cheer donated by the ArtFusion Board of Directors and featuring a selection of red and white wines, and their choice of original artwork. 

Each guest will receive one door prize chance free with their paid ticket. 

Additional tickets will be one sale throughout the night. 

Proceeds benefit ArtFusion 19464’s upcoming fall educational exhibit Her Story. This show will feature artwork inspired by women’s history.

ArtFusion 19464 is a 501(c)3 non-profit community art center located at 254 E. High St. in downtown Pottstown. 

The school offers day, evening and weekend classes to all ages. The goal of these classes is to help students develop their creative skills through self-expression and independence. ArtFusion’s gallery hosts rotating shows featuring local artists. 

The gallery also sells handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gift items. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The gallery is closed Sunday and Monday.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Resounding Silence

If last night's commissioners meeting is any indication, the taxpayers of Lower Pottsgrove Township don't appear to be all that concerned by the fact that one of their township commissioners has not paid his taxes to the township, or to the school district, or to several other municipalities.

At least judging by last night's township commissioners meeting.

After four days of revelations in The Mercury about Commissioner Shawn Watson and the back taxes he owes to the township, to both Pottsgrove and Pottstown school districts, as well as Pottstown and Norristown boroughs, there had been rumblings that people might attend the meeting and protest.

They did not.

Toward the end of the meeting, one resident, Kelly Breslin, asked when the commissioners would be discussing it and were informed they would not be.

So much for that.

The 7 p.m. meeting began with a small audience that got smaller after Rich Yoder was honored for 39 years of service with the township sewer authority. (Congratulations to Mr. Yoder.)

Police Chief Michael Foltz received the endorsement of a policy to cover the new cameras being installed in police cars. (Look for that story in today's Mercury).

The commissioners were told about a bond re-financing the sewer authority will undertake, and which the commissioners will be asked to guarantee, that will save the authority ratepayers just over $1 million, so that sounds like good news.

And the township is looking at adopting a new animal control audience. We'll try to get more on that soon.

Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting: