Thursday, May 4, 2017

Police/Employee Awards and Historic Renovation

Photos by Evan  Brandt
Police Chief Richard Drumheller, left, and Mayor Sharon  Thomas, right, congratulate canine officer Jeffrey Portock after being announced as the 2016 Police Officer of the Year Wednesday night.

The awards were flying fast and furious Wednesday night, almost as furious as Council Dennis Arms's temper ...

Although you might expect the Police Officer and Borough Employee of the Year awards to be given out in January, or December, in Pottstown the day is May 3.

Dan Weand, left, and Mark Flanders congratulate
Luis Colon, the borough's first-ever Employee of the Year.
Officer Jeffrey Portock, whose exploits in 2016 were outlined in a proclamation read by Mayor
Sharon Thomas, was singled out for his bravery and his competence during the past year.

And while Pottstown has named an officer of the year, well for years, 2017 marks the first time it has also named an Employee of the Year among its non-uniformed personnel.

And that honor went to Luis Colon, a wastewater treatment plant operator who, according to Borough Manager Mark Flanders is always pleasant, helpful and busy.

But they were not done yet.

In addition to an Officer of the Year, and an Employee of the Year, borough leaders also handed out one of its occasional Lifesaving Awards.

This one went to Pottstown Police Sgt. Michael Ponto who, on Oct. 13, stayed with a shooting victim, who had been shot several times in the groin and was found bleeding near the intersection of York and E. High Streets.
Sgt, Michael Ponto's lifesaving actions are applauded during
Wednesday night's Pottstown Borough Council Meeting

The shots were dangerously close to the victim's and he likely would have bled to death before Goodwill Ambulance personnel arrived had Ponto not retrieved his first aid kit and applied pressure to the wounds.

However, the victim survived thanks to his efforts.

When the awards were over and the room thinned out, the yelling began.

Well, perhaps I exaggerate. How about, "the spirited exclamations of the councilman from the fourth ward."

That's Dennis Arms for those of you who don't know.

He first got exercised after Greg Lingo, a developer with Rockwell Development, unveiled plans to convert the old brick shirt factory at Cherry and South Charlotte streets into market-rate condominiums.

It was not the proposal that got Arms worked up. He thinks the idea is a great one.

What got him going was that the first reaction was not relief, or thanks but questions about parking.

The former shirt factory Rockwell Development Group wants  to
$2 million renovating into market-rate condominiums.
"I can't believe we're worried about parking!" he shouted. "That building has been vacant for 40 years and here's a guy who wants to spend $2 million fixing it up, and you're talking about parking!"

Council eventually found its manners and welcomed the developers, who are already familiar with Pottstown, to the borough.

"Thank you for investing in our town," said Arms.

Later, council again discussed a subject Arms and raised at last month's meeting -- the idea of eliminating wards in Pottstown and having all council members be elected "at large."

Solicitor Charles D. Garner Jr. reported that the law prohibits it being brought to referendum, and puts the decision in council's hands. It can either eliminate the wards, or make five wards instead of seven and make two of the seats at-large seats.

When council expressed what might be charitably called its ambivalence to the idea, Arms exploded again.

"Why did we go through this puppet show if you all knew you didn't want to change anything," Arms fumed. "We're wasting Chuck's time and we pay for that time."

"There's nothing wrong with wanting more information," said Mayor Sharon Thomas.

In that vein, Arms raised another point Wednesday which actually got some traction. He suggested that the public be allowed to see the background information that council members get to go along with their agenda before each meeting.

With the obvious exception of things which are not public documents, such as personnel or attorney/client privileged information, council agreed and Flanders said it could be done.

So look for that on the borough web site soon.

But it may not be enough for Arms, who later in the evening posted on Facebook that he wonders if he wants to serve on council for another two years.

Anyway, enough about all that, here are the Tweets!

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