Thursday, April 6, 2017

Honoring 44 Years of Service (And MUCH More)

Photos by Evan Brandt
Pottstown Police Corporal Charles McClincy, in blue, is presented with awards and thanks for his remarkable 44 years of service to the department during a ceremony Wednesday night.

When Rick Drumheller started on the police force 28 years ago, the man who showed him the ropes was Charlie W. McClincy Jr., by then already a 16-year veteran of the force.

Corporal McClincly receives his retirement badge and a
congratulatory handshake from Chief Rick Drumheller.
When Drumheller, now the chief, faced borough council Wednesday night on the occasion of McClincy's retirement, he cracked a joke about how much gas cost per gallon in 1973 when McClincy first started.

But when Drumheller faced the man he had spent his entire career beside, it was his voice that
cracked and his composure that trembled as he faced McClincy and presented him with his retirement badge.

For the first time I've ever seen at a retirement ceremony, the Pottstown Police Honor Guard were on hand to show McClincy the respect that 44 years of service earns. He is the longest-serving tenured employee in the entire department.

A man of few words, McClincy approached the ceremony he had hoped to avoid with a mere salute and "Corporal McClincy reporting sir."

And when he took to the microphone, he said merely that "it has been my honor to serve my community."
McClincy receives a clock from the police union
presented by Officer Chris Zahorchak.

Mayor Sharon Thomas presented McClincy with a "Trailblazer's Award," accommodated to citizens "who have made significant strides or firsts."

As you might expect, 44 years of service provided the opportunity for McClincy to wear a lot of hats. For 26 years he was chairman of the Police Pension Board and for 15 years, the head of the negotiating committee for the Pottstown Police Officers Association for 15 years.

"We applaud his constancy and dedication as a man of family and community," said Thomas.

He also received a commendation and honorable discharge from the police department as well "for 44 years of honest and faithful service."

And the thanks and congratulations just kept coming ans Officer Chris Zahorchak then came to the front of the room to present McClincy with a commemorative mantle clock as thanks from the Pottstown Police Officers Association.

* * *

So that would be blog post enough for most of us (the author included), but Wednesday night was a busy night.

We learned, for example, that when the sewer pumping station was put into Memorial Park in 1990, it violated a deed restriction going back to the 1960s when the park was created with federal funds. It has just taken the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources until now to notice.

Further, the construction of a stop for the Colebrookdale Railroad was also deemed by DCNR to be a transportation use and thus a further loss of recreation land. Failure to resolve the situation could result in a ban on Pottstown receiving any more state grant money for Memorial Park, or any other borough parks.

And given that earlier in the evening, Regional Recreation Coordinator Michael Lane had outlined
Existing conditions at Pollock Park.
improvements for the splash park area that depend on such a grant, it could present a real problem.

But as Assistant Borough Manager Justin Keller explained, Memorial Park's loss is Pollock Park's potential gain. The government allows the dedication of new recreation space to be offered up as a make-good on the intrusion on Memorial Park's recreational potential.

Currently, the borough is in the process of meeting with residents about improvements being planned for Pollock Park and so an offer from the BASF Corporation for a parcel at 860 Cross St., right across from Pollock Park, was particularly timely.

Keller said in the course of the Pollock Park planning they learned the basketball courts there are always in use and more are needed. The property across Cross Street, a formal industrial site where an environmental analysis and recommendation for impermeable cover, is just the right size for two more courts and some parking.

There are still some T's to cross and some I's to dot, but officials are hopeful.

* * *

There was also a lively discussion about eliminating the political wards in Pottstown.

The matter was first raised last month by Councilman Dennis Arms, who generously credited a 2015 post in the The Digital Notebook for the idea.

Borough Manager Mark Flanders asked for direction and, after some back and forth, council agreed that Borough Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. should look into the legality of the matter.

He will find out how (and if) wards can be eliminated, what role, if any, the voters should play in the process and also if, as suggested by Councilman Joseph Kirkland, two at-large council members could be added, bringing council's size to nine.

* * *

Satisfied yet?

Don't be, because there's more.

Remember those plans for park improvements I mentioned above? Well they also include plans for a trail along Manatawny Creek that starts in Memorial Park and, significantly, would follow the creek and make its way under the Route 100 bridge over the creek.
Scene of the accident that killed Donald Purnell.

"Trails are nice, but why is this significant?" you ask. Well, dear reader, it could provide for an alternative, and safer pedestrian crossing of Route 100.

As you may recall, it was just last month that 24-year-old Donald Purnell was killed in a hit-and-run accident while crossing Route 100 while trying to get to his job at Wendy's.

PennDOT and the borough have already made some temporary improvements at the intersection and more are planned, but the trail could provide a safe alternative for those pedestrians who don't want to stake their lives on drivers' obeying traffic signals.

* * *

"Please! No more!" you say?

Well, suck it up because there's still more and it's more trail news to boot.

Keller reports that construction will soon begin on a Schuylkill River Trail extension from Armand Hammer Boulevard to Riverfront Park along Industrial Highway.

For those who don't know, the trail will cross the Schuylkill from Chester County back to Pottstown on the new Route 422 bridge now under construction. And, for the first time, it will allow trail users to head downstream from Pottstown.

Currently, the trail extends upstream toward Reading from Riverfront Park, but there was no way to head toward Philadelphia.

* * *

Nope, still more.

Lenhart also took the opportunity of last night's meeting to brief borough council on efforts to market Pottstown's TREC district, which stands for Tourism and Recreation.

This includes Memorial Park, the Carousel at Pottstown, the Colebrookdale Railroad, Manatawny Green mini-golf, Pottsgrove Manor, the afore-mentioned Schuylkill River Trail and the River of Revolutions exhibit at the Greenway building in Memorial Park as well as the art galleries at Montogmery County Community college's North Hall.

A brochure that highlights these attraction has been produced.

He also pointed to the establishment of a new community activity calendar, "Pottstown Familes," hosted and operated by the Pottstown School District aimed at ensuring people know about all the opportunities in the region.

It includes not only Pottstown, but six of the eight surrounding municipalities that are part of the regional planning group.

* * *

OK, I'm done, I swear.

Those not yet exhausted can check out the Tweets and videos below.

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