Monday, September 1, 2014

Pedaling Through the Parks

Last Year's bike tour focused on historic cemeteries along the Schuylkill River Trail. This year's ride will feature stops at three National Parks; Hopewell Furnace, Valley Forge and Independence parks.

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by my friend Laura Catalano at the Schuylkill River National Heritage Area.

Did you know that there are three national park sites located near the Schuylkill River Trail?

On Sept. 20 and 21, participants in the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s Pedaling through Our National Parks Ride will visit those sites by bike.

Although bike trailers are prohibited on the ride, 

tandem bikes are not.
The third ride in the Heritage Area’s Schuylkill River Bike Tour Series, it will feature about 30 miles of cycling per day, with visits to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Valley Forge National Historical Park and Independence National Historical Park.

Registrants can choose to ride on either or both days. 

The first day will include guided programs at Hopewell Furnace and Valley Forge, with a stop for lunch at the Schuylkill River Heritage Area headquarters in Pottstown. 

The second day will take cyclists from Valley Forge to Independence and will include a tour of Independence and a lunch program on the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. Lunch will be along the Schuylkill Banks in Philadelphia.

Each day, a bike/passenger shuttle will take riders back to their cars. 

Lunch, a light breakfast, tours and ride support are included. While most of the ride takes place along the Schuylkill River Trail, there are some on-road pieces. 

On the first day, about half is on road, primarily on back roads.

The Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour Series is a series of annual rides that was introduced by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area in 2012. 

Last year's ride featured players of historic music.
Each fall, a different section of trail is featured. All the rides are intended to raise awareness of the connections that can be made from the Schuylkill River Trail to regional historic sites.

“Our goal in establishing the Schuylkill River Trail Bike Tour Series is to show people that they can travel along the trail to connect to visitor sites and regional history,” said Kurt Zwikl, executive director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. 

“Cyclists who participate will not only experience an enjoyable ride, but they will discover how to access three national parks by bike,” he said.

Cost for the Pedaling through our National Parks ride is $50 per person per day and $95 for both days. 

After Sept. 5, cost is $55 and $100 for both days. 

Registration closes Sept. 18. There will be no day of registration. 

Riders will be shuttled back to their cars on both days.
Event is rain or shine. Ride limited to 200 riders per day.

Price includes bike/passenger shuttle, light breakfast, catered lunch, well-marked route, guided tours and programs and refreshments. 

Free t-shirts are included for all who register by Sept. 5. 

All proceeds benefit the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.

Ride support and complimentary pre-ride bicycle safety checks will be provided by TriCounty Bicycles, of Pottstown. 

Due to the width of the trail, no bicycle trailers will be permitted. To learn more visit

The Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area, managed by the non-profit Schuylkill River Greenway Association, uses conservation, education, recreation, historic preservation and tourism as tools for community revitalization and economic development.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lincoln and Franklin Confidential

Photo by Evan Brandt
Although the rest of Franklin Elementary School is scheduled to be open for first day of classes Tuesday, there is still a lot of work to be done in the all-purpose room and students will eat lunch in their classrooms for the next few weeks.

With the cooperation of the Pottstown School District, Mercury Photographer Extraordinaire John Strickler and I were given a guided tour Friday of the two renovated and expanded elementary schools that are to open  Tuesday -- Lincoln and Franklin.

Photo by Evan Brandt
It wouldn't be a visit to Lincoln without stopping to talk
with 'Mr. Bob,' quite probably Pottstown's nicest man.
Bob Kripplebauer, supervisor of buildings and grounds, was visibly excited by the prospect of new classrooms, new facilities and air conditioning in the two buildings.

Similar renovations at Barth were completed last year and work at Rupert has proven to be too much to complete on time.

Students and staff there will begin the school year where the last one ended for Rupert, in the former Edgewood School on Morris Street.

Although the professional photographer took better photos than I, some of which should be available soon in a slide show on The Mercury web site, if they're not there already, I figured Pottstownians' curiosity of what awaits them Tuesday would still be appreciated, no matter how poor the photography.

I've also embedded a short Tout video I made of the tour for those who prefer moving pictures.

So here they are, photos Tweeted as they happened in another pulse-pounding example of 'live Tweeting.'

And remember to click the blue "Read Next Page" bar to ensure full and complete reader satisfaction.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Recreation and Comprehensive Planning

Justin Keller
So this is why we employ professional photographers at The Mercury.

This photo at right was the best I could do, apparently, with my iPhone.

My apologies to Justin Keller.

Anyway, this fine fellow is the person who will be working to coordinate recreation activities for six of the eight towns who bought in to match the state grant that will fund his activities.

East Coventry and New Hanover pinched their pennies and decided against participating in the program.

(This despite the fact that New Hanover just purchased a huge new building as a recreation center this year, but hey, leaders know best.)

He is housed at the offices of the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and I'm sure we'll be hearing more from him.

Wednesday night, he was introduced to the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee, through which the grant to pay is salary was obtained.

Here are the Tweets from that meeting.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vote Early, Vote Often

Candace Benson, on screen, is done with judges. Now it's time for America to judge.

Pottstown High School graduate Candace Benson is poised to become a gospel singing star on national TV, but she needs your help to do it.
Candace, left, and Geoffrey after being named
the two finalists on 'Sunday Best.'

Benson, who graduated from Pottstown in 2010 and is now a student at Montgomery County
Community College, is one of the two finalists on BET's program "Sunday Best."

What started out with thousands of auditions is now down to two finalists, Benson and Georffrey Golden who, it should be pointed out, has NO connection to Pottstown whatsoever, although I'm sure he's very nice and all.

You can vote online by logging on to Voting is now open and you can vote on-line or with the BET Now mobile app as many times as you would like.

For those of you who like to wait for the last minute, you can vote the night of the final program, Sunday, Aug. 31, by telephone.

To vote for Benson, call 1-888-5-BEST-01 or 888-523-7801, but you are limited to 15 votes via this method.

Candace being coached on 'Sunday Best'
If you want to know more about her, click here to read the story I wrote when she became one of the final four.

You can read about her reaction to being named one of the two finalists here.

So why not start early, and start voting now?

If you want to see Candace on the program, you can watch her on this link, where, I hasten to point out, you can vote for her as well.

Have I mentioned that on-line voting is unlimited? Well it is, so go vote.

If you would like to hear Benson sing, here is a video of her singing in The Mercury's Media Lab:

Now, doesn't she seem like she deserves to win?

Remember, you can vote RIGHT NOW! AND AGAIN....ANd again....and again.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Salaries, Exams and Construction, Another School Year Begins

Tuesday night, the Pottsgrove School Board dealt with a number of issues related to the start of the school year, including new, presumably higher, salaries for administrators; as well as high school construction issues, Keystone Exam issues, how to fill board vacancies and even school lunches.

Read all about it through the live-Tweeting of Mercury Reporter Evan Brandt, who has a very sore thumb.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A New Vice President

So I'll spare you the suspense.

Last night, the Pottstown School Board elected Andrew Kefer as its new vice president.

He succeeds Dennis Wausnock, who was laid to rest earlier that day.

But it wasn't pretty. Read on.

So here it is, your BONUS VIDEO because you, brave reader, read all the way to the bottom.

If, by any chance, you had wanted a preview of what the Pottstown High School Marching Band show might contain this year, this is YOUR VIDEO!