Thursday, November 15, 2018

West-Mont Staging 'Pride and Prejudice' Nov. 16, 17

Submitted photo
The cast of the West-Mont Christian Academy's production of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice."


Blogger's Note: The following was provided by West-Mont Christian Academy. 

West-Mont students will present "Pride and Prejudice" on Nov. 16 and 17.

Based on Jane Austen’s novel, "Pride and Prejudice" takes place in 19th Century England.

It is a romantic comedy in which Elizabeth Bennet (Kara Newton) and the mysterious Mr. Darcy (Jacob Hallman) become an unlikely couple.

Performances will be on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. as well as on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 and 7 p.m.. Tickets can be purchased for $10.00 at west-mont.org/tickets or at the door.

A Character Tea will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday before the show. 

Admission to this event includes tea, refreshments, meet and greet, photo opportunities with the characters, and admission to the 2 p.m. show. 

The Character Tea is an excellent opportunity to learn about the culture of 19th Century England. 

Tickets for the Character Tea are only available online as the $15 option for Saturday’s 2 p.m. show.

This is a community event that is open to the public. 

West-Mont is located at 873 South Hanover St. in North Coventry.

"Pride and Prejudice" is adapted by Jon Jory and produced by special arrangement with Playscripts, Inc. (www.playscripts.com)

For more information about West-Mont and how to get a tour of the campus, call 610-326-7690 or visit www.west-mont.org.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Route 100 to be Closed Again This Weekend

Photo by Evan Brandt
It's probably a good thing PennDOT left the detour signs up at the intersection of State and Manatawny streets since it announced Monday track work on Route 100 was not completed last weekend and all lanes of Route 100 will again be closed this weekend between Shoemaker and Upland Square roads.


For those of you who missed the fun and convenience of having all lanes of Route 100 between Upland Square and Shoemaker roads closed last weekend, it looks like you're going to get a second chance.

During Tuesday night's borough council meeting, Borough Manager Justin Keller said he had been contacted by PennDOT the day before and informed all the work on the Colebrookdale Railroad track crossing of Route 100 was not completed over the weekend while the road was closed.

Keller said once again, traffic in both directions will be detoured from Route 100 along King Street, Manatawny Street and State Street, "just like last weekend."

He said his office received no complaints from Pottstown residents about the increased traffic in the borough and neither did Councilman Donald Lebedynsky, who represents the Third Ward through which most of the detoured traffic traveled.

Keller said he was told that PennDOT wants to replace the Colebrookdale's rails with "weldless rails," meaning there would be no seam anywhere the rail crosses Route 100, but they would instead be a single pieces of metal.

As a result, the rails would better withstand the constant impact of the heavy traffic that travels Route 100 through Pottstown. Keller said.

The closure will begin, as it did last weekend, at 9 p.m. Friday and last through Monday morning.

And if you were hoping to drive on Industrial Highway this week, don't. Keller said it will be closed through Friday to complete work where the newly installed Schuylkill River Trail segment crosses the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks near the intersection with South Washington Street.

In nearly as upsetting news, council unanimously and nearly without comment voted unanimously to advertise the budget for 2019, which now stands at $49,143,543, along with a millage rate of 12.869, down from the proposed millage of 12.679.

Keller said some savings had been identified in using a different health insurance, bringing the proposed tax hike down from 12 percent to 11 percent. Council President Dan Weand said the staff is still looking for ways to lower the tax hike, including challenging some lowered assessments as being too low.

As a result of council's vote, the tax rate can continue to be lowered before final adoption in December, but cannot be raised.

Council also voted unanimously to renew the ordinance authorizing the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority for one year. Previous it has re-authorized it for four years. No explanation was offered for the shorter term.

Council also appointed Steve Everett and Jennifer Keller Ryan to the PDIDA board of directors.

While there was little discussion about the budget, there was quite a bit about a proposal to build a parking lot in the rear yard of 728 High St.
Photo from Screen Shot.
The rear yard of this High Street Victorian, now used as
a dentist's office, will be converted to parking under
a plan approved by council Tuesday night.


Planning Commission Member Andrew Monastra opposed the project and asked council to vote against it, even though it meets all of the borough's land development ordinances.

Attorney Robert Brant, representing the developer, said his client had spent $10,000 to $12,000 to come up with a plan that had less of an impact, but he said the result makes the parking lot unsafe.

The current parking lot "is a disaster," said Brant, who said it will be expanded from 13 to 36 spaces.

Council members Lebedynsky and Ryan Procsal voted against approving the plan.

And with that, here are the Tweets from the meeting, Tweets replete with typos ....

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Ringing Rocks Elementary Principal Earns Doctorate

Ringing Rocks Principal Lisa Jones.
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.

The Pottsgrove School District is pleased to announce that Lisa Jones, Principal at Ringing Rocks Elementary School, recently completed her Doctorate Program at Immaculata University.

On Nov. 7, Dr. Jones successfully defended her Dissertation entitled Teachers’ and Administrators’ Perceptions Regarding the Impact of Fostering and Developing Teacher Leadership.

Dr. Lisa Jones originally started as a teacher at Pottsgrove Middle School. 

After leaving to work as the Assistant Principal at Owen J. Roberts Middle School, she rejoined Pottsgrove in 2013 as the Principal at Ringing Rocks Elementary School.

Congratulations Dr. Jones!

Monday, November 12, 2018

New Hill Scholarship is for Pottstown Postgraduates















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

Hobart’s Run and The Hill School are pleased to announce creation of The Hobart’s Run Scholarship Fund. This gift will provide substantial student aid to a student from the immediate Pottstown area who wishes to attend The Hill for a post-graduate year.

The Fund’s generous donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have stated that the ideal Hobart’s Run Scholar will demonstrate interest and participation in civic and social responsibility and/or community service and, in particular, in the mission and work of the Hobart’s Run neighborhood and Pottstown improvement initiative.

Hill’s post-graduate program is designed for candidates seeking to strengthen their academic preparation before entering college. Post-graduate participants are required to live on campus and therefore benefit from living away from home, with more freedoms and responsibilities, before joining a college community. 

This opportunity allows young men and young women to pursue higher level courses and improve
The Hill School.
upon athletic, artistic, and other endeavors while enjoying our diverse community and growing in terms of maturity. Each year Hill enrolls 14 to 16 post-graduates from across the country and around the world.

The Hobart’s Run Scholar will be selected by Hill’s Admission Office in consultation with the Headmaster.

Interested candidates must submit a completed application by Jan. 31 and schedule an interview with a Hill admission officer. 

Additional information is available on The Hill’s website, which also includes direction regarding the required admission test options.

“We are so grateful to the donors and excited to be able to offer this scholarship to a highly motivated, talented student from the Pottstown area,” said Thomas Eccleston IV, Hill ’87, assistant headmaster for enrollment management, who noted that substantial financial aid is given each year to local students enrolled in the third form (freshman) through sixth form (senior) years. 

Interested families may contact Eccleston at teccleston@thehill.org.

A 501(c)(3), Hobart's Run works with its residents and property owners to revitalize the neighborhood through projects that create a clean, safe, and inclusive community; provide incentives for home ownership and home improvements; and generate positive, sustainable commercial and retail development. While initially addressing an area of approximately 600 parcels in Pottstown (Queen Street in the south, North Adams on the west, Beech, Grant, and Jackson on the north,
and Keim Street on the east), Hobart’s Run strives to use successes in this focus area to spark and support revitalization throughout the Borough. 

For more information about Hobart’s Run, please find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @hobartsrun.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Pottstown High School DECA Inducts New Members

Submitted Photos
Pottstown High School's DECA organization recently inducted 20 new members.








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

Recently, the Pottstown High School DECA organization, an association of marketing students, elected a new slate of officers and inducted 20 new members at a program held in the Pottstown High School cafeteria. 

The evening’s ceremonies were conducted by DECA Advisors Lyndsay Hashem and Kevin Pascal.

Jen Hainsey was re-elected President, serving a second year term. Other officers include Vice President David Hicks, Management Director Emily Weber, Executive Director Devyn Lopez and Competition Prep Director Angelica Calel

DECA's officers are, from left, Emily Weber - Management Director, 
Jen Hainsey - President, David Hicks - Vice President, 
Angelica Calel - Competition Prep Director, 
Devyn Lopez - Executive Director
Newly elected Vice President David Hicks encouraged the inductees to take full advantage of the opportunities and activities that are a part of the DECA experience.

Kendra Barkaski, a Pottstown High School graduate and former DECA member, made some brief remarks to the students and family members in attendance regarding the application of skills learned while a member of DECA.

Hashem and Pascal welcomed the newly inducted students and praised the efforts of the Officer Team in organizing the event. 

 “Induction is one of those events during the DECA year that is stressful but our officers rose to the occasion and have made this a memorable event for both inductees and their family members.”

At the conclusion of the event, all in attendance enjoyed some delicious desserts provided by PHS Culinary Arts Teacher Chef Irick and his students.

Members inducted included:
Aleen Alexander, Iyesha Belgrave, Christina Butler, Felic Chimbinja, Kennedy Cole, Nada Elgendy, Keyora Frazier, Cyenyla Hall, Abie Krause, Mackenzie Moser, Faith Nichols, Jesseny Redroven, Gabriela Reyes, Destri Roye, Jestyn Snyder, Ryan Sweeney, Jazlyn Watson, Brionna Williams, Sensair Wesley.

DECA is an international association of high school and college students. The organization’s goals are to improve education and provide opportunities for students interested in careers in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality, and marketing sales. DECA helps students to develop skills for successful business careers providing opportunities for students to build self-esteem, experience, leadership, and practice community service.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Pottsgrove Senior Earns Perfect WordWright Score









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

Four students representing Pottsgrove High School recently won high honors in the year’s WordWright Challenge, a competition for American high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.

In this year’s first meet, held in October, senior Molly Neeson was one of only 58 twelfth graders in the entire country to earn a perfect score. 

At the same time, juniors Skylar Glass, Brenna Mayberry and Trinity Sorg all placed among the 196 highest-scoring eleventh graders nationwide. 

More than 70,000 high school students from 48 states entered the meet. The school’s participation was overseen by teacher Todd Kelly.

The premise behind WordWright Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school. The tests students must analyze for the challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Updike to poetry as old as Shakespeare’s or as recent as Margaret Atwood’s, and to essays as classic as E.B. White’s or as current as James Parker’s cultural commentary in The Atlantic. 

Though the texts vary widely in voice, tone, and length, they have one thing in common: style. All use language skillfully to convey layers and shades of meaning not always apparent to students on a first or casual reading. 

Like the questions on the verbal SAT I, the SAT II in English Literature, and the Advanced Placement exams in both English Language and English Literature, the questions posed by the WordWright Challenge ask students both the recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which a writer’s style shapes and shades his meaning. 

Because the WordWright Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience, not just a high hurdle. After completing a challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the tests and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.

The texts for the first WordWright meet this year were a pair of poems by Wilfred Owen and Henry Reed for 9th and 10th graders and a short story by Katherine Anne Porrwe for 11th and 12th graders. 

The students will participate in three more meets over the coming months, and medals and certificates will be awarded in June to those who achieve and/or improve the most in the course of the year.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Can Phoenixville's Success Happen in Pottstown?

Submitted Photo
Successful Phoenixville developer Manny Demutis, at the far head of the table, speaks about his experiences there and what lessons could be applied to Pottstown, during a breakfast meeting Wednesday at Hobart's Run offices.














Blogger's Note: The following was provided by Hobart's Run.

About 25 Pottstown leaders from government, business, and education met over breakfast on Wednesday, to hear insights from Manny DeMutis, president-owner of The DeMutis Group, Phoenixville, a highly successful developer who has helped to lead Phoenixville’s impressive revitalization. 

This event, held at the Hobart’s Run office at 701/703 High St. was one of an ongoing series of informal monthly breakfast meetings hosted by Hobart’s Run and The Hill School to spark collaboration and information-sharing in the borough.

Joining DeMutis was Barry Cassidy, who served as director of Main Street Development Corporation in Phoenixville from 2003-2010 and a planning and development consultant. DeMutis was introduced by his friend, Charles Gulati, owner of Gatsby’s at The Sunnybrook Ballroom, Pottstown, and owner/president at Stokesay Castle and The Knight’s Pub, Reading.

DeMutis says Phoenixville’s renaissance has occurred largely because of the “selfless leadership” of developers and others who have been willing to invest in the once-struggling town and collaborate with one another.

He enthusiastically shared a number of key takeaways for the participants at this gathering. 

Among the points he hammered home for potential Pottstown investors and Borough officials and residents in general are the following seven observations:

1: While Pottstown folks are quick to compare Pottstown to Phoenixville and point to that community’s impressive reinvention and rebirth, Pottstown has more and even better assets than Phoenixville to work with.

“I love Pottstown,” DeMutis said. “You have housing stock to die for. You have a beautiful, wide main street. You have arguably the best prep school in the world, The Hill School, right in your downtown.

“Pottstown has the ability to decide what you want to be when you grow up. You need to go and ‘be’ that vision.”

2: Pottstown’s development needs to start with revisiting and reprioritizing codes enforcement issues. Much of its focus should be on strictly enforcing health, safety, and “life” related codes, particularly in residential areas near the downtown, as the main streets will then begin to “take care of themselves,” DeMutis believes.

The Borough also must be developer-friendly and cut back on nonessential red tape and fees, especially when investors want to restore and utilize buildings that are in great need of care. In addition, the Borough needs to make sure its fee schedule is not higher than it is in neighboring communities, which will make development here far less attractive and competitive.

3. Gaining the commuter train would dramatically increase property values and Pottstown’s tax base, among other benefits. DeMutis has invested heavily in planning for a pilot project that, if successful, will use some of Norfolk Southern’s freight rail tracks to link Phoenixville to the Norristown/Manayunk line.

“Ridership is not an issue,” he notes, adding, “It’s more an issue of ‘Can we afford to do this?’

“But if someone says ‘you can’t do it,’ they’re probably not right,” he declares. He emphasizes that when there is a passenger rail system within a three-mile radius of a house, the average affected homeowner sees an average increase in value of $31,000. The train would bring “instant equity,” DeMutis says.

4. Pottstown needs to aggressively promote its Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program to developers — as well as the value of our architecturally beautiful housing stock and downtown commercial buildings. LERTA is a state law that allows local tax incentives for business property improvements. 

Pottstown’s LERTA provides tax relief to approved properties over seven years. In the first year, after improving a property, the owner receives a 100 percent exemption on the taxable value of the improvements; by the seventh year, the reduction is 10 percent, and after that the LERTA relief ends.

Noting that LERTA programs encourage banks to lend to developers, DeMutis told Pottstown officials they “need to get out on the road and sell your LERTA to developers.”

5. Don’t be afraid of rental properties, as that’s the trend in housing, DeMutis says. However, developers should focus on getting rentals up to market value. Redeveloped Phoenixville apartment and other rental property rates have increased – and, in fact, many of these spaces have been converted back to single family homes.

6. Create and embrace downtown festivals of all shapes and sizes – and don’t let parking and other
concerns get in the way, DeMutis asserts. Phoenixville now offers at least 13 summer festivals, “synergistic, common experiences” that bring people to the downtown and create excitement in and about the community, he says.

7. “People investing in Pottstown should invest a lot more here,” DeMutis states. “You can’t replace the value of these buildings! As a developer, you may have the opportunity to buy a building in the Pottstown downtown for $250,000; you should buy as many as you can. I’m not kidding: When Pottstown takes off – and it will happen – you will be able to sell it, if you want to, for so much more.”