Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pottstown is a Town that CARES

Photo by Evan Brandt

Pottstown stalwart Bill Krause, and his infamous blue hat, manned the World War II Swing Dance table at Saturday's Community Day Event.

The people who came out for Saturday's Pottstown CARES community day had their choice of registering to vote, donating blood, getting a flu shot, recycling electronics or getting information about roughly 40 organizations that are all working to make Pottstown a better place to live.

Gathered under the shelter of the old ice rink at The Hill School, information on just about anything you would ever want to know about Pottstown was available.

From the Pottstown Area Rapid Transit public bus system, to the Steel River Playhouse to Sunnybook Ballroom, to ArtFusion 19464, to the Carousel at Pottstown fo the Mosaic Community Land Trust to the Secret Valley/Colebrookdale Railroad line, there was no shortage of information about what makes Pottstown a great place.

Photo by Evan Brandt
Pottstown School Board member Ron Williams brought
a truckload of electronics for recycling.
"Part of the message is that wonderful things happen when organizations get together in Pottstown," said Hill School spokesperson Cathy Skitko.

In case you were wondering, CARES, stands for Community, Awareness, Responsibility, Empowerment, and Sustainability.

The joint endeavor was conceived last spring during conversations between Borough Manager Mark Flanders, Pottstown School Superintendent Jeff Sparagana, and Hill School Headmaster Zachary Lehman.

"We are collaborating, we have a lot to offer, as you can see from all the organizations here today," said Assistant Borough Manager Erica Weekley.

She said she spent much of the first hour of the event answering questions about the Schuylkill River Trailhead planned for South Street and College Drive, and the new mini-golf course now under construction adjacent to the carousel building.

"People are really positive about what's going on in Pottstown," she said.

The event grew out of an effort by Pottstown's three biggest players -- the borough, the school district and The Hill School -- to work together more cooperatively and encourage other organizations to do the same.

"What we've tried to do over the last few years is create a relationship between, not just the community, obviously the Hill School is a big part of that community, but to get the message out that we can rebuild this community," said Pottstown School Board member Ron Williams. "We can rebuild it to something that is successful and and meaningful."

Photo by Evan Brandt

Angelle Levan, 8, of Pottstown gets her face painted by a Hill student.
The surprising diversity of the Pottstown community was evident simply in the example of the food offered Saturday.

In addition to the always popular Dallas Fries was Ash Khalil, proprietor of the unique iCreate Cafe, located at 130 King St., which in addition to being a vegetarian restaurant is also a computer training center.

"We offer classes in graphic design, web design, mechanical design, architectural design; we do Microsoft Office and many other things," Khalil said.

In addition to learning how to have a say in the computer age, people also had the opportunity to help themselves have a say in their local government.

"People absolutely need to vote, especially now, they need to make their voice heard," said Karen Weil, a former Pottstown Borough Council president and member of the planning commission who also works at the Hill School.

She and Marlene Armato were manning a booth registering people to vote.

The work portion of this joint undertaking will be more evident this Friday, Oct. 25 when more than 700 people, including students from The Hill and Pottstown School District, as well as staff from both and the borough take to the streets.

The project they will undertake will be a clean-up day on Friday, Oct. 25 (raindate, Monday, Oct. 28)  in a targeted area of Pottstown, from High Street north to Beech Street, and Hanover Street east to Edgewood Street.

Photo by Evan Brandt

Also on hand were displays for the Carousel at Pottstown
All 505 Hill School students as well as Hill faculty and staff; 50 Pottstown High School students and numerous faculty members; and many Borough workers and officials will be dispersed to weed, pick up trash, and complete other “spruce up” tasks in public spaces in the core downtown area during this day of service that precedes National Make a Difference Day (Oct. 26).

A team of volunteers also will work to beautify Edgewood Cemetery.

The massive volunteer crew will assemble under Hill’s former hockey rink roof at 8:30 a.m. to receive instructions. Pre-organized teams then will disperse to their designated project areas until about 12:30 p.m., when they will return to Hill for a picnic lunch prepared by Sodexo, Hill’s food service provider. Sodexo is generously donating the meals for all school district and borough volunteers as well as Hill students and personnel.

After lunch, a celebratory group photo of all participants will be taken on Hill’s campus.

In addition, as part of the Oct. 25 clean-up day, the Pottstown School District is running a blood drive from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the high school.

Individuals interested in making a donation at the Pottstown High School on Oct. 25 may send an email to Pottstown faculty member Mark Agnew at or call him at 610-970-6707.

“Hill was happy to provide the space for the community education event and to serve as the rallying point for the clean-up project,” Headmaster Zach Lehman said. “I see these CARES initiatives as the first of many cooperative projects."

“Pottstown CARES provides community stakeholders with the opportunity to send the clear and inspirational message that, when working together, we are more effective in our actions,” said Pottstown Schools Superintendent Jeff Sparagana.

“Together, we are Pottstown,” Sparagana said.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Evan for all your efforts in reporting about Pottstown ..