Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pottstown People: Always With the Helping Hand they Often Cannot Afford

One reason I have grown to grudgingly love this frustrating muddle of a town is that just when I think we don't have any more feet to shoot ourselves in, people come out of the woodwork and plug the bullet hole.

The latest example of this redeeming quality is the infamous Halloween Parade.

It is scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. by the way.

As you have in all likelihood read by now, the parade was threatened by a misunderstanding.

Undertaken once and planned twice previously with a waiver of borough fees in hand, this year's organizers had proceeded with planning after being assured by former borough manager Jason Bobst that the borough fees -- more than $5,000 worth for police overtime -- would again be waived.

Unfortunately, Bobst left for greener pastures before the parade and with him left that assurance.

So the parade organizers -- the AMBUCS, the Pottstown Rotary Club and the Parks and Recreation Department -- were brought up short when interim borough manager Mark Flanders informed them the fees could only be waived by council.

And council balked at waiving the fee, saying it was not in the budget.

Making a point about sticking to their budget is understandable in these tough times, particularly seeing as this issue has come up before.

But sympathy for that position evaporated when, moments later, council blithely agreed to pay as much as a whopping $33,000 that was ALSO not in the budget for a consulting firm, now found to be costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of extra dollars on the elementary school construction projects, to deliver a report on ways to makes the codes department more efficient. But that's another story.)

Ultimately, after a story or two in The Mercury and on this blog, council blinked and agreed to waive half the cost.

Although a welcome compromise, that left the parade organizers $2,500 short.

One might be justified in being discouraged at this point in the story.

Here are a group of people raising money and devoting time to stage a major event in the town, and a mere $2,500 could doom it.

And here's where the optimism comes in.

After just one story in The Mercury about the need to raise funds, people started stepping out of the woodwork and stepping up to the plate.

These were not the elected officials, the pontificators or the complainers, who are all too often front and center in Pottstown's public spotlight.

Many a donation walked through these doors.
These were the "doers," the people in this town who believe in that delightful Missouri motto: "Show me, don't tell me."

And show they did.

First the German Club stepped up with $1,000 donation on the first day, followed in no short order by the Masons, who ponied up another $1,000.

Add to these other donations (the fullest list we can muster appears below), ranging from $500 down to $15 and in no time, not only had the required money been raised, but the organizers had a jump start on next year.

Next year, not only will they have to pay the full $5,000-plus to the borough, but also the $2,000 it costs to actually put the parade on.

And its these people, their generosity that is repeatedly displayed when there is a fire, or during The Mercury's Operation Holiday, who once again renew at least a hope that Pottstown can get back on its feet.

It may not be enough financially to really turn things around, but it demonstrates, in a way no speech, or resolution, or election result can, that people in this town have a willingness to support things they care about, things that make their lives better.

And by people I include people in the surrounding towns, many of whom can be found on that donor list.

Alan MacBain's GREAT editorial cartoon on the subject.
Borough Council President Stephen Toroney was right when he said those other towns should help with the cost of regional events like this.

The donor list shows that those residents are willing to help shoulder the cost.

It's one reason why we should keep calling our home the GREATER Pottstown area.

Here are those who made the parade financially possible:
Rotary Club of Pottstown
AMBUCS of Pottstown
Department of Parks and Recreation
Borough of Pottstown
The Mercury
Pottstown German Club — $1,000
Stichter Lodge No. 254 F&AM — $1,000
Lowa Insurance Group — $500
Pottstown Memorial Medical Center — $500
Wheel to the Future — $350
Montgomery County Community College — $300
Pottstown Rumble — $300
Anonymous — $200
Sager & Sager Assoc. — $200
Little Italy Restorante — $150
Ice House Steaks & Pizza — $150
Heartland Abstract — $150
Dr. Lawrence Gribb — $100
Jean Spotts — $100
Donna & Aram Ecker — $100

Vision Painting — $100
David & Gloria Schwab — $100
Scott Palladino — $100
Harry Leister — $100
Reed’s Fuel Oil — $100
Roger Baumann — $100
Frank Smith
J.B. Supply 
Dale & Cynthia Conard
Caitlin Mattingly
Ted & Lori Freese
Ken Schaeffer Family (for Jenny)
Jim Derr
Doris Jean Sweeney
Charles Fischer

Gerald Richards
Michael Sloane
Pamela Rowland, Cynthia O’Neal, Deborah Fine (PHS Band Alumni)
Roy Reifsnyder
Sanatoga Thriftway

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