Thursday, March 5, 2015

Fire Company Merger Defended

Photo by Evan Brandt
It was another packed house at last night's Pottstown Borough Council meeting.

The bulk of Wednesday night's borough council meeting was again devoted to the proposed merger of Pottstown's four companies which one of those companies, the Phillies, are contesting.

Perhaps the most significant new piece of information to come out of the meeting is that John Muir, the attorney aiding the consolidation committee, confirmed what The Mercury reported two weeks ago, that they will not be ready to begin operations on April 1.

Photo by Evan Brandt
James Thees, left, was sworn in as the borough's newest
fire policeman after Wednesday's meeting,
with Jim Smale and Ginny Takach presiding.
Another interesting tidbit was the question raised by Doug Breidenbach, the attorney hired by the Phillies, who wanted to know why North End Fire Company is expected to surrender its Prospect Street real estate to the new merged company, but Goodwill is not.

No answer was provided.

Other items of interest are a proposal to change the proposed rental ordinance amendment to do rental inspections every two years instead of every year.

Also, Montgomery County wanted to know if a new Keim Street Bridge is built, does the borough want to take over the old one to be used as a pedestrian bridge.

After some laughter and a few jokes, the short answer was "no."

To read about all this and more, as it happened, read the Tweets below. Remember to click the blue bar at the bottom to make sure you see it all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Recycle Old Appliances for Free Saturday at Althouse Arboretum

The SAVE Alliance Foundation and local students will hold an Appliance Recycling Program at the Althouse Arboretum on Saturday, March 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The arboretum is located at located at 1794 Gilbertsville Road.

The recycling day is open to everyone and is free of charge. (Donations accepted) 

Properly recycle air conditioners, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, and anything that is considered an “appliance” by dropping them off between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

Students and volunteers will be there to assist you. 

TV’s and electronics are not accepted at this event. 

 If you have any questions, call 267-371-2288 for more information.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Doctor's Note for No-Show Supervisor

Monday's meeting of the Douglass (Mont.) township Supervisors was quick, but had some interesting moments.

Perhaps the most significant of these was the absence of embattled Supervisor Fred Ziegler, a former police chief now charged with theft, forgery, witness intimidation and a host of other charges.

Chairman John Stasik said Ziegler would not be at Monday's meeting and mentioned a note from a neurologist excusing Ziegler from the meeting.

Apparently, it also got him out of a preliminary hearing that was supposed to occur last week.

Click here to read our full story on that development.
Fred Ziegler and Montgomery County DA
Risa Ferman in happier days.

Also interesting was Township Solicitor Paul Bauer indicating that former supervisor Fred Thiel, whom the current supervisors are suing over the Mountain Mulch fiasco, had tendered a settlement offer, which the township has rejected.

Click here to read our last story on that saga.

Speaking of Mountain Mulch, the township is gearing up for another legal fight given that the Sassamansville Road facility is under legal agreement to vacate the site by March 31.

Township inspections seem to indicate that is increasingly unlikely.

Supervisors also announced that negotiations with the township police union are gearing up. The current contract expires in December.

And the board also adopted a new storm water ordinance and a new ordinance that makes it easier for the Gilbertsville Ambulance and fire companies to get reimbursed by insurance companies for the materials they use when responding to emergencies.

For more, read the Tweets below.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Senior Center's Golden Apple Gala Will Be March 14

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown Area Senior Center: 

The second annual Golden Apple Gala is coming up on March 14.

Being held this year at Brookside Country Club, the Pottstown Area Senior Center is expecting another fantastic year of fun. 

The elegant event will have guests dancing the night away to the sounds of the Swing Kings Orchestra.

They will also enjoy, enjoy a gourmet dinner, and raise money for PASC's capital campaign. 

Hors de oeuvre, dinner, dancing and two hours of beer and wine are included in the $125 per person ticket price. 

 The evening is black-tie-optional.

Table and event sponsorships are still available.

To learn more and purchase tickets or sponsorships click on

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Potts Family Legacy

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

Historic Pottsgrove Manor will open a new exhibit, “Pride of Place: The Local Legacy of the Potts Family,” next Saturday, March 7.

This year, the Borough of Pottstown celebrates its 200th anniversary.

By the time of its incorporation in 1815, the town’s namesake, John Potts, was long gone, but the legacy of the Potts family lived on in the region. 

The “Pride of Place” exhibit, which runs through Nov. 8, will highlight the contributions of later generations of the Potts family to local history — and to preserving Pottsgrove Manor itself.

Lectures on the history of the Potts and Rutter families and the local iron industry that they built will help to kick off the exhibit. 
  • On March 7 at 1 p.m:  Pottsgrove Manor’s Site Supervisor will give a presentation on the locations of the early ironworks and other properties integral to the Potts/Rutter dynasty entitled “Putting Down Roots: Mapping the Early Potts Family.” The lecture will be followed by a guided tour of the museum’s new exhibit. 
  • On March 21 at 1 p.m.: Historian Dan Graham will talk about how the early iron works that the Potts and Rutter families founded and built in the Manatawny region paved the way for Pottstown’s later reputation as a powerhouse in the iron and steel industries with “From Bloomery Forges to Steel Mills.” A guided tour of the exhibit will be available after this lecture as well.
The “Pride of Place” exhibit can also be viewed during a guided tour of Pottsgrove Manor during regular museum hours through Nov. 8: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Tours begin on the hour. 

The last tour of the day begins at 3 p.m. There is a $2 per person suggested donation for the tour.

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Where No Show Has Gone Before

Leonard Nimoy in the role for which he will always be remembered

By the time I discovered the wonders of Star Trek, it was already off the air.

Luckily for me, the local New York TV station, WPIX channel 11, played re-runs every night at 6 p.m.

Mind you, I am of the generation that grew up with just 13 channels and I had to get up off my keister and turn the clear plastic knob on our black and white Zenith, just to see it (and maybe adjust the antennae a little bit too, to get rid of the "snow.").

But it was always well worth the effort.

The death Friday of Lenoard Nimoy, who played Star Trek's most iconic character, stirred memories of the show and what it meant.

Even as a child, I understood that the show was a little unsophisticated, just like the "Batman" re-runs I also watched and loved on WPIX.

But Star Trek had phasers.

And space ships.

And aliens (even though almost all of them had two arms, two legs and spoke perfect English, due to one of the shows innumerable far-sighted inventions, the "universal translator.")

Did I mention it had space ships, time travel and transporter beams?

What pre-teen boy wouldn't watch?

So I watched.

And on a good day, I would stay over at my friend Marc Scott's house, and I could see it in color! (Until I saw it there, I had never actually known the show was in color. It almost seemed like cheating.)

We built balsa wood hand-phasers and communicators, he and I, and our Lego space-port was a thing to behold.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the wormhole, I began to think about the issues that Star Trek dealt with in their uniquely goofy, but non-threatening way.

Frank Gorshin and Lou Antonio in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield,"
which aired in January, 1969, less than a year after the assassination
of Martin Luther King Jr. sparked race riots across the country.
The first time I was actually conscious of this was in the ham-handed episode which dealt with the long-standing conflict between two aliens with half-black and half-white faces (one of whom was played with the delicious exuberance of Frank Gorshin).

Even as a 9-year-old, I could figure out this was a lesson in racism, a word I did not even know at the time.

And the show spawned a love of science fiction in me not just for the adventure and exotic locales, but because the genre is a much more forgiving stage for the suspension of disbelief.

You approach all science fiction already prepared to accept what would other-wise be unbelievable.

The colorful, multi-ethnic and (mostly) human crew
of the USS Enterprise.
And so, as it turned out, Star Trek slyly allowed you to also accept the other-wise unbelievable circumstances of a Russian, Japanese, African-American woman and an alien, all being on the same crew and having no conflicts other than those created by their personalities.

After all, when you're dealing with a whole galaxy, instead of just a single world, your definition of who is "like me" gets a whole lot broader.

With science fiction, we did not have to deal with the niggling voice in our heads saying "that could never happen," as we might if the show had been a western.

Racial hatred had his world burning in January, 1969...
And so, Star Trek could explore racism, over-population, religion, xenophobia, robotics, or pollution without objections from churches or moralists or nationalists; precisely because we were already trained to consider anything possible in the context of the genre.

Because there was nothing familiar about the settings, other than the perennially cheesy sets, we could watch two men continue to hate each other because one's face was black on the left side and one was black on the right side -- all while their world burned -- and consider the significance of that.
...just it had ours. (Baltimore, April, 1968)

The fact that it was being aired less than a year after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. caused riots in 125 cities across the country because some of us have black faces and some of us have white faces was certainly relevant; but it could dismissed as "science fiction" instead of potentially inflammatory social commentary on current events, even though that is exactly what it was

And while the special effects were definitely better in "Star Wars" (at age 13, I stood in line, again with Marc Scott, outside the theater in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island to be amazed by that one), the Star Wars story was never as compelling.

You did not, either with the original Star Wars, or any of its sequels, leave the theater with any deep thoughts about where we've been and where we're headed.

And while the same was often true of the Star Trek movies -- which always seemed to try a little too hard to recapture the dynamic of a show no one watched until it was cancelled -- the original series had its moments, as outrageous and flamboyant as they so often were.

As the cult aspect of Star Trek grew, the plots and characteristics of the show and its characters transformed from ground-breaking to self-parodying, but I could never quite discard it for that reason.

After all, that was just what other people thought and I knew what it had revealed to me -- that the adult world was in fact not unified, as our parents and teachers would have us believe and, in point of fact, definitely did not have its shit together.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, called Spock "the conscience of Star Trek" and indeed, this was another aspect of science fiction which allowed for more in-your-face exploration of the human condition.
Captain Kirk controls Spock's body as they search for
his brain -- appropriated to operate the systems of an
underground city devoid of men.

As an alien, Spock could stand outside the reactions of his human crew mates and by questioning them, serve as a gentle but unsubtle reminder that we would be a better species if we questioned our motives half as often as he did.

Consider for a moment the matter of the Federation's "prime directive," a central archetype of the show important as much for how often it was ignored as for when it was revered.

Not only did the prime directive ask the country to stop and think about interfering with other cultures at a time we were wading into a war in Southeast Asia, it also explored the idea that absolute adherence to the rules can be as harmful as ignoring them.

Judgement was, and always is, required. Our fondness for absolutes is often our undoing.

The pairing of Spock's detached reserve with the hormone-driven leadership style of William Shatner's Captain Kirk, also provided an -- as always -- unsubtle portrait of the human psyche.

For if Spock was Star Trek's conscience, its Super-Ego in Freudian parlance, then Kirk was its Id; whether sucking face with any biped who walked by in a flimsy shift or grappling with his prejudices about the Klingon warrior race.

The conflict, and strong bond, between the two reminded us that being human is complicated.

In short, Star Trek was a futuristic show about aliens and other worlds, which helped us to better know ourselves; and they never could have pulled it off without Leonard Nimoy.

And for that, I thank him.

Friday, February 27, 2015

'Brigadoon' Free at The Hill This Weekend

The "Brigadoon" cast and crew

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by The Hill School

This weekend, The Hill School’s Ellis Theatre Guild will show three performances of its winter musical, "Brigadoon." 

 The curtain opens at 7:15 p.m. for the Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 shows, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, March 1. 

All performances will be in The Hill’s Center For The Arts Theatre. The musical is free and open to the community.

"Brigadoon" tells the story of two New Yorkers, Tommy Albright and Jeff Douglas, who become lost on a vacation in the Scottish Highlands and stumble into Brigadoon, a mythical village that they learn appears for one day, once every hundred years.

In a production method similar to what has become the norm on Broadway, the pit orchestra for Brigadoon will not be located in the CFTA theatre; rather, the 20 member pit will perform remotely from the Green Room. 

Each instrumentalist is equipped with a microphone and a personal digital mixer that is synched to the master sound booth in the theatre, from which the sound is projected to the audience.

The Hill School is thankful for the generosity of Nathan Powell and his production company, PTCGroup, and Dean Danowitz for supplying the necessary lighting and sound equipment for the production. 

Powell, a Collegeville resident, is father of Hill 2014 graduate Jamie Powell and current Hill freshman Noah Powell, and Danowitz is the father of Hill senior Adam Gross of Marlton, N.J.

Below is a full cast list, including class year and hometown:
  • Fiona MacLaren: Erica Lowry (Sr. - Barto, Pa.)
  • Meg Brockie: AJ Sullivan (Sr. - Bronx, NY)
  • Jean MacLaren: Olivia Zitkus (Jr. - Pottstown, Pa.)
  • Tommy Albright: Berenger Wegman (Sr. - Reading, Pa.)
  • Jeff Douglas: Will McCarter (Soph. - Unionville, Pa.)
  • Charlie Dalrymple: Will Bell (Jr. – Honey Brook, Pa.)
  • Mr. Lundie: Burt Merriam (Hill’s CFTA Director)
  • Harry Beaton: Peter Marsh (Sr. – Omaha, Neb.)
  • Jane Ashton: Crystal Desai (Sr. – St. Petersburg, Fla.)
  • Andrew MacLaren: Jeff Armstrong (Jr. – Glenmoore, Pa.)
  • Angus MacGuffie: Timothy Rutt (Sr. – Prospect, Conn.)
  • Archie Beaton: Zack Daub (Fr. – Douglassville, Pa.)
  • Stuart Dalrymple: Tyler Miles (Jr. – Lower Merion, Pa.)
  • MacGregor: Kushal Modi (Soph. – Sinking Spring, Pa.)
  • Sandy Dean: Crystal Desai
  • Maggie Anderson: Piper Hudspeth Blackburn (Sr. – Burlington, NJ)
  • Kate (friend of Jean’s): Helena Bauer-Mitterlehner (Jr. - Vienna, Austria)
  • Opening solo in Prologue: Burt Merriam
  • Vendors: Anagha Havildar (Soph. – Malvern, Pa.), Carly Lange (Fr. – Collegeville, Pa.), Taylor Lange (Jr. – Collegeville, Pa.), Chau Le (Sr. – Hanoi, Vietnam), Margot Wegman (Jr. – Reading, Pa.), Zack Daub,Tyler Miles, Kushal Modi 
The chorus is: Anagha Havildar, Addy Henderson (Soph. – Sugar Hill, NH), Carly Lange, Chau Le, Merrie Marsh (Fr. – Omaha, Neb.), Celeste Owusu (Fr. – Pottstown, Pa.), Shirley Ye (Soph. – Shanghai, China), Tarik Atlic (Sr. – Tuzla, Bosnia), Timi Solanki (Fr. – Sinking Spring, Pa.), and Rachel Swartz (Soph. – Birdsboro, Pa.)