Monday, March 9, 2015

Fire Merger Deadline Unanimously Extended

Monday night's meeting saw another chapter in the fire company merger saga with the focus of public comments now turned toward borough council.

Two speakers, former Borough Council President David Garner and Charles Hermansky Sr., talked about what they called the flawed process by which the merger is being approached.

"I've heard the 2009 merger study touted as the reason for this merger," said Garner. "Did any of you actually read the study?" he asked.

He pointed out that the study calls for several steps to be taken for the merger to be pursued, none of which are evident in the current process.

Garner said council should be driving the process, not "those with a vested interest in controlling things."

Similarly, Hermansky said he has noted a noticeable lack of detail and analysis coming from the borough side of the equation.

"A position paper is not enough," Hermansky said.

Council also approved, unanimously, the plan for rental inspections to occur every two years.

Councilwoman Sheryl Miller, who said she was shocked to find out how many unregistered rentals there are in Pottstown, said the lengthy lead-in time will give the borough's Licensing & Inspections department  time to make headway on that issue.

On a lighter note, Mayor Sharon Valentine Thomas and Councilwoman Carol Kulp chided The Mercury for not presenting enough positive news about the borough.

In the mayor's case, she said "Grease," Pottstown High School's first musical in six years, was a "landmark" event which was an opportunity to present a positive image of Pottstown, was missed by The Mercury.

"Instead, we got a big headline questioning Pottstwn's safety," she said in apparent reference to The Mercury's "Criminal Elements" series which began Sunday.

We're presuming that the fact that as mayor, Valentine is responsible for oversight of the police department, and the fact that her son Seth had a major part in the play, which she failed to mention to the crowd, are irrelevant to her bringing the subject up.

(She is right, as she indicated to a Digital Notebook staffer after Saturday's performance, Seth was among the very best in the show. Sadly, video of numbers from the show, surreptitiously shot by said staffer, could not be posted here as intended due to stern warnings in the program about the illegality of that sort of thing. Also, in the interest of fairness, the mayor had heard that some publicity for "Grease" did appear "on social media, but not in print.")

Not one to lose out on an opportunity to settle an old score, Kulp said that when her son's wrestling team went to the state championships, "we had to beg The Mercury" to cover it.)

That was 25 years ago, she conceded. "It's a shame nothing has changed since then," Kulp said.

Anyway, here are the Tweets from the meeting.

(We apologize in advance for any perceived absence of positivity.)


  1. I have to agree with some of the comments about the Mercury. As a former member of Pottstown PTA, and the Pottstown Music Association from 2001 to 2007, we also begged for coverage from the Mercury for some of our events. It was not until a Mercury Reporter's family member entered the band did we see any coverage og the Cavalcades and such.

  2. This is true, and I have made no attempt to hide the fact that I cover the events in which my son participates. This is because in most cases, I am doing on my own time and not being paid.

    Not sure how much of your job you do for free, but I do quite a bit.

    This also means that when he is finished with school, I will most likely stop. I do not feature him in coverage, but while I'm there, I figure I might as well give them some press.

    We cover sports because there is a readership and advertising support. I have often argued we could do the same for other extra-curricular activities, such as music, but until my newspaper, which is struggling to survive financially, sees a way to make a profit from that, it's not going to happen.

    That is a fact.

    I don't know if you are familiar with a lot of other local newspapers, but they it is not common for them to give as extensive coverage to things like music events, as it is in sports.

    If you have a suggestion about how this could happen, I would appreciate hearing it.

    Question: Scwhenksville Elementary School rules our community pages by sending us a constant stream of photos and news releases about their activities.

    Did you or anyone in your organization ever offer to take photos and do a short write-up?

    My guess is the paper would have been happy to run those, just could not afford to send a staffer there.

    (For what it's worth, my wife and I also volunteer with the PSMA.)