Friday, March 23, 2018

Bullet-Proof Vests for EMS in Lower Pottsgrove

Photos by Evan Brandt
Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Mike Foltz, second from right, explains why bullet proof vests are not being issued to emergency medical technicians like Erik Loshnowsky, right, from Goodwill Ambulance. Township Manager Ed Wagner, left, and Township Commissioner and Emergency Management Coordinator Ray Lopez, second from left, hold a $3,000 check from the township which will go toward purchasing vests for Goodwill. Newly appointed Township Commissioner Mike McGroarty is at center.
It's been almost 19 years since the horrific shooting at Columbine High School that left 15 people dead.
Goodwill Ambulance EMT Erik Loshnowsky shows
off one of the new bullet-proof vests now being used by EMTs

Some of those victims died as police and SWAT teams ran past them, still alive but "bleeding out," Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Mike Foltz said Thursday.

The police could not stop to help because the scene was not secure and active shooters were still on the loose, and they could not protect emergency medical personnel who might have saved some of those victims.

"It's no longer practical to let victims bleed until scene is secure, so whether they are trying to help, or coming with us, medics need some protection," said Foltz.
"We want you to know we appreciate what you do, and that we want to help keep you safe," said Lower Pottsgrove Township Commissioner Ray Lopez, who is also a member of Ringing Hill Fire Company and the township's Emergency Management Coordinator.

"The way the world is now, they're in the 'hot zone,'" Commissioners Chairman Bruce Foltz said of emergency medical technicians like Erik Loshnowsky, who was on hand Thursday night, complete with bullet-proof vests.

Last year, while putting their budget together, the township commissioners decided that EMTS need as much protection in shooting situations as police.

"Up until now, we had bee giving them our used vests which, after a few years of use, don't smell so good," said Chief Foltz.

So with the ever-present giant check, the commissioners began what they hope will become a trend among surrounding municipalities served by Goodwill Ambulance and others, providing money to help buy them new bullet-proof vests.

The other item of significance at the commissioners' meeting Thursday was to authorize the execution of documents to finalize the purchase of 2270 and 2272 E. High St. in Sanatoga.

The price for each property is $100,000 and collectively make up .57 acres.  The property at 2270 is a duplex and the property at 2272 is a single family home.

When combined with three other adjacent parcels --  2238 E. High St., 2258 E. High St. and 2255 Brown St. -- on which the township is also taking action, the township will have a site of more than two acres at the corner of East High Street and South Pleasantview Road.

And although Chairman Foltz went to some length to say "no decisions have been made yet" and that the "infrastructure committee" has only gone so far as to make "wish lists," he, Chief Foltz and Lopez also went to great lengths to outline why the current township building on Buchert Road is too small for current needs.

Chairman Foltz bristled at "the heat" he said the commissioners have been taking from those who say the efforts are "wasting money," saying "those people don't know what they're talking about."

He said township employees would be happy to give anyone who does not believe that the current facility -- both the police headquarters in the basement and administrative offices above, are too small.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Thursday, March 22, 2018

'I am not fearful of punishment,' writes suspended Boyertown student, 'I am fearful of being silenced'

Blogger's Note: The following is an essay written by Boyertown Area High School student Abigail Slater. She was required to write an essay about "what she did wrong" while she served her one-day in-school in-school suspension for walking out of school on March 14 as part of the National Walk Out Day. If you would like to submit a guest post to this blog, send it to

On March 14th, 2018, I, Abigail Slater, walked out of the building in protest of gun violence and security in schools. 

This was an act of civil disobedience and I am proud to say I was part of this movement. I feel ashamed to be part of a school that punishes students for protesting, but it helped me in the long run. 

After receiving my suspension, I interviewed with the newspaper. Not only was I able to get more attention to the cause, but since I received a punishment it got people’s attention. 

The actions taken by the school against the students’ protest has sent a wave of anger and tension throughout the student body. I am optimistic that this will spark a movement towards change. 

I would like to see more people walk out and protest. 

Rosa Parks said, “You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.” 

The school tried to scare us by implementing punishments on students who walked out. For most students, the fear of being punished caused them to be silent. 

I am not fearful of punishment. I am fearful of being silenced. 
There are many of different types of people in this school, we usually just talk to people who are the most similar to ourselves. 

Yesterday, I walked out with people who I usually wouldn’t talk to otherwise. It shows a common goal. 

The walk out symbolized the unity of the student body. We all don’t talk to each other but when we all want change we come together. 

This school is supposed to be about preparing us for our futures, but when we want to spark change to shape our futures, we are punished. 

I hope this event proves to be a catalyst that triggers students to take a stand against authority to do what they believe is right. 

I am proud of myself and the others who walked with me. I will encourage others to join me next time. 

Our voices will be heard. We are the future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Read Across America Week at West Pottsgrove

Photos submitted by West Pottsgrove Elementary School.
Children's author Kenneth McCloskey talks to West Pottsgrove students about reading.

Blogger's Note: The following post is a guest blog from West Pottsgrove Elementary Principal Terri Koehler. If you would like to submit a guest post, email it to

Heidi Mottin reads her book "Rescuing Reed,"
about a 
dog who just happens to be listening...
March 2, has become a very special day in schools across America as a celebration of reading.

This is all because March 2 is the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. 

The day has become known as Read Across America day across the country.

At West Pottsgrove Elementary, we used the entire week of Feb. 26 to March 2 to celebrate Dr. Seuss and reading across the building. 

We had daily spirit days such as Cat in the Hat Day, Crazy Sock Day and Oh the Places You Have Been to name a few. 

The cafeteria even served green eggs and ham one day. 

This was also in conjunction with our PTA Book Fair. 

On Thursday March 1, we welcomed children’s author Kenneth McCloskey to share some of his writing with the students. 

Mr. McCloskey read his book We Dig Worms and as a finale we had an earthworm race. 

Mr. McCloskey also shared his process of writing a nonfiction story. Students had the chance to pre-purchase his books and he autographed each and every one for the students. 

Mr. McCloskey also generously donated $2.00 per book purchased back to our PTA.

Also on March 1, we welcomed another author to our family reading night. This was an opportunity for families to celebrate literacy and to shop the book fair. 

We welcomed Heidi Mottin and Reed, her certified therapy dog. Heidi read her book Rescuing Reed to the students and their families and the children had an opportunity to meet Reed in person. 

The story Rescuing Reed is a great story for children reminding them that everyone has great potential to do great things.

We closed out our week on Friday March 2, with a celebration of Dr. Seuss and reading. 

We had many guest readers throughout the building and our second grade students all partnered with a kindergarten class to share favorite Dr. Seuss books.

We did not let Mother Nature deter our excitement about reading and the students had a wonderful time and had the chance to meet two authors up close and personal.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A $11M Yes Vote for Spring-Ford High Expansion

The Spring-Ford Area School Board recognized the high school wrestling team Monday nights for its many achievements during the season.
Years of debate, study, analysis and meetings -- so many meetings -- all came to an anti-climactic head Monday night when the Spring-Ford Area School Board voted 7-1 to accept the bids for the $11 million expansion of Spring-Ford Area High School.

The proposed project includes three additions: a 10,700-square-foot performing arts expansion, a 17,200-square-foot physical education expansion, and a 6,900-square-foot corridor expansion.

The bids were opened last week and although estimates last year had ranged from $10.5 to $12.1  million, the total came in at $10.9 million.

School Board member Mark Dehnert cast the only vote against the project and told me afterward he believes it is unnecessary.

"That's a lot of money to spend for a facility that already provides most of these things" Dehnert said. "We can get by with the weight room we already have and we didn't even know we needed a band room until a consultant said so," he said.

"We have security concerns now and we could use the money on that instead of on things that are not important educationally," said Dehnert, although he conceded that the widening of a pinch-point corridor is probably warranted for safety reasons.

But Dehnert was in the minority both on the board and from the public comments that preceded the vote.

Clint Fetterman told the board the marching band had just returned from Disney World with lots of awards and "no place to put them," adding that the new expanded music facilities would have a place for them.

Former board member Joe Cerisi said ti had taken six years to get to this point for a vote, calling it "One of the greatest steps we've seen this district take in a long time."

Gail Wellington, who owns three commercial properties in the district, said the project would improve quality of life, improve the school district's reputation and increase property values.

School Board President Tom DiBello said the vote "has been a long-time coming."

He said the low-bid contractors have all been notified, so they can start ordering steel and other supplies, and that work is scheduled to begin shortly after the last day of school, currently scheduled for June 14.

Overall, the project will taker about two years, but because most of the work is new construction, there should not be much disturbance for students. The corridor re-construction and expansion will be undertaken first so as to minimize disturbance to students.

The budget for debt payments for the district is fixed at about about 14.9 million, but currently payments are only $14.1 million. leaving $700,000 to cover additional borrowing costs for expansion, DiBello says. 

Even though the district could borrow the entire cost of the project without exceeding its debt budget, the board decided it would be wise to use $3.4 million from capital reserve, he said, which will still leave "$10 million to $11 million in the capital reserve fund," he said.

"After about five years, we'll see a huge drop-off in debt, down to about $9 million, and another three years after that, we'll drop off again so our payments will be about $3 million," said DiBello.

DiBello said Spring-Ford has a good year financially and did not have to raise taxes last year, and used some of the excess funds to help fund the project.

Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pottstown Middle School Inducts 53 More Students Into Junior National Honor Society in Ceremony

53 students were inducted into the Junior National Honor Society recently at Pottstown Middle School.

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

Pottstown Middle School recognized outstanding student achievement at the Jr. National Honor Society candle lighting ceremony held in the school auditorium. 

Fifty Three new members were inducted as parents and friends looked on.
Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez addresses the inductees.
Students Michelle Castillo and Rylie Gaspar gave the welcome and induction. 

During the ceremony, the four pillars of National Honor Society were described by students: Scholarship,Service, Character, and Leadership as candles were lit. 

In his remarks Superintendent Mr. Stephen Rodriguez congratulated the students on their academic success and reminded them to be equally successful in social and emotional preparedness and development. 

The Middle School Jazz Band under the direction of Katie German provided entertainment. 

Inductees signed the roll book as sponsor Diane Halpine announced their names. 

Student Xavier Francis Williams led the group in the Honor Society Pledge. 

A closing poem was read by student Gabriel Roseo.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tribute to Exceptional Women Set for March 29

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the YWCA Tri-County Area.

The achievements, leadership, and service of women in the Tri-County Area are in the spotlight this month as the YWCA Tri County Area presents its 23rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at the RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve in Phoenixville.

Marjorie Margolies, a longtime activist for women’s empowerment, is the keynote speaker. Ms. Margolies is the founder and president of Women’s Campaign International, an organization working worldwide to help women in developing nations transform communities through political and civic leadership and economic empowerment. She represented Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-95, where she served on the House committees on energy and commerce, on small business, and on government operations. She served as director of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. She is a former broadcast journalist, winning five Emmy awards as a reporter with NBC.

Tickets to this annual event are available online by visiting:

The 23rd annual Tribute to Exceptional Women recognizes women for their ability to lead by example, embrace community responsibility, and excel in their careers. YWCA Tri-County Area has been proud to provide this opportunity for the community to recognize and celebrate the exceptional contributions made by women in the Tri-County and surrounding areas.

Community members nominate women for their achievements in leadership, service, and career in the following categories: Arts, Business, Education, Health, Racial Justice, Non-Profit, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the Rising Star Award for women 18-30, the Coretta Scott King Award for an agent of change, and Sally Lee Lifetime Achievement Award.

The evening will begin with cocktails and bidding on silent auction items from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., with dinner, the keynote speaker, and presentation of awards to follow. The evening will end with the announcement of the silent auction winners at 9 p.m.

Proceeds from Tribute to Exceptional Women will support YWCA Tri-County Area’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. YW3CA educates children, youth, families, and communities through programming that empowers individuals to learn and grow throughout the lifespan, providing the foundation for a healthy and thriving community; and advocates for racial and social justice, empowerment and economic advancement and women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls.

Nominees for the 2018 Tribute to Exceptional Women are:
  • Erica Batdorf, Township Manager, West Vincent Township
  • Jannie Brant, retired pastor, Church of the Living God
  • Alicia Alexander Cadogan, Ph.D, Director of Medical Information, Pfizer
  • Carmen Davenport-Bright, Director of Teen Programs, Delta Community Supports
  • Bonny Susanne Davis , Treasurer, Springfield Township
  • Deesha Dyer, Executive Director,
  • Lacee Ecker, Assistant General Counsel, American Eagle Outfitters 
  • Lizette Epps, Senior Corporate Buyer, Carpenter Technology Corp. 
  • Linda Fields, Candidate, Pa. State Senate 
  • Elaine Gonzalez-Johnson, Executive Director, Latinas in Motion 
  • Tracy Heebner, Owner, Salon Twenty-Two and Spa
  • Joni Helton, Executive Director, Next Level Sports 
  • Keriann Herdelin, Executive Director, Greater Pottstown Tennis and Learning
  • Kerry Krieger, Director of Family Services, Delta Community Supports 
  • Marissa LoCascio, Senior Vice President and Director of Operations, 1031 Corp. 
  • Dr. Lori Lorant-Tobias, Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Pottstown Hospital 
  • Catherine Oskowiak, Executive Director, Foster Angels on Earth
  • Ashley Pierce, Vice President, East Coventry PTA
  • Eunice Rome, Receptionist/Assistant, YWCA Tri-County Area 
  • Amanda Snyder, Co-Owner, Virtual Essense Hair Design
  • Stephanie Steigerwalt, Co-Owner, Virtual Essense Hair Design
  • Shelly Stockmal, Victory Community Leader, Victory Bank 
  • Adrean Turner, Owner, Turner Coaching Training and Consulting 
  • Jennifer Van Ingen, Operations Manager, Family Caregivers Network 
  • Elise Weinstein, teacher, Newtown Elementary School/Council Rock School District
  • Elisabeth Yoder, art teacher, Pottstown High School

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Library Hosting Bridges Out of Poverty Program

Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottstown Regional Public Library 

The Pottstown Regional Public Library will host Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities on March 20, 2018 at 6pm.  

The Cluster’s Program Bridges Out of Poverty will provide community leaders and residents with training to enable a better understanding for individuals living in economic poverty.  

The program features discussion about Getting Ahead in a Just-Getting-by World, a mentored program for building a better life.   

Refreshments will be served. 

To sign-up contact Ryli Meyer, Pottstown Cluster at 610-970-5995 or Michelle Kehoe, Pottstown Library at 610-970-6551.