Big Turnout for Farmers’ Market Happy Hour

Farmers' Market, High & Charlotte
This past Friday night we had an awesome turnout of about 75 people for the Happy Hour at the Farmers’ Market. The new owners, Ben Moscia and Elise LeBoutillier, were our gracious hosts. They’ve already done a lot of work to spruce up the Market and will be putting things in motion over the coming weeks and months to do even more work on the building and the exterior and get new tenants in. Please, please support their efforts and the businesses that are already there by BUYING LOCAL.

Sheila and Gene Dugan of Grumpy’s provided a really nice spread, including scrumptious chocolate cake and carrot cake by Company Cakes at 26 N. Charlotte Street.

We heard inspirational words and updates from Mayor Heath, Superintendent Dr. Reed Lindley, Borough Manager Jason Bobst and WPAZ station manager Ross Landy.

Mayor Heath

There were a lot of new faces at this event, and I hope we can keep bringing people together to make connections and forge partnerships that will create a better Pottstown.

The next Happy Hour will be on Friday, March 18 from 5-7:30 pm at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center at 245 E. High Street. Tri-PAC will be putting on The Crucible that night, and I encourage you to purchase your ticket to the show in advance, then come out to the Happy Hour for a good time before the show. My BUY LOCAL pitch includes supporting the local arts scene! I’ll get the invite out on Monday, but anyone can rsvp for the next Happy Hour by sending an email to Hope to see you downtown!

Pottstown’s Annual FamilyFest on March 17

Pottstown’s Annual FamilyFest will take place on Thursday March 17, 2011 from  5 – 7 p.m. at Pottstown High School. The theme for this year is “Participate in Your Community: Pottstown Families Play, Work, & Serve Together.”
Families accompany their elementary age children to this event, which is sponsored by the Pottstown Family Center, Pottstown Parks & Recreation & PEAK – Pottstown School District.

All kinds of community organizations and agencies each have a table with information and a child-friendly activity, so that families can walk around and learn more about what’s available while the kids are engaged for a few minutes. Last year more than 500 people attended. At $15/table, this is very good exposure for any organization or business.

This year’s theme of “Participate in Your Community: Pottstown Families Play, Work, & Serve Together” expands the focus to encourage Pottstown residents to learn more about an organization or activity that interests them and find out how to get involved. There are many ways that even young children can be involved with their parents, whether it’s cleaning up a park in the spring or attending a First Saturday event downtown.

This theme of “participation” goes hand-in-hand with the idea of “buying local.” Area businesses are invited to have a table in the “Buy Local Zone” to let the community know what they offer and what they’re all about.

I’ll be there at a Positively!Pottstown table to talk up Pottstown’s arts, restaurants, historical walking tours, recreational opportunities, Heritage Action Planning process, and the monthly happy hours. I’ll also be glad to point people to other resources in the community, like the new Community Land Trust & the Community Garden project. Kids will be able to work on puzzles of local buildings while the adults chat.

Puzzlers at "Open Doors," 9/11/10

Forms can be downloaded below if you would like to have a table at FamilyFest or purchase an ad for the booklet. There’s also a list of ideas for kid-friendly activities. The registration deadline is Friday, March 4, 2011. I especially encourage local businesses to get a table so people can learn exactly where you are, what you do, and how they can support you.

Fam Fest-letter invite _2011
Family Fest Booth Info sheet _2011
FamilyFest Financial Support_2011
FamilyFest Ideas_2011

Any questions? Contact:
Jenn Brown, M.Ed.
Director, Pottstown Family Center
Family Services of Montgomery County
1976 E. High St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
(610)326-1610 X247
(610)326-3104 fax

Marketing Pottstown as a Trail Town: We need you!

On February 9, I first blogged about the Heritage Action Planning process getting underway in Pottstown with a grant from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. As a consultant working with Pottstown resident Tom Carroll on implementing the grant for the Borough, I also sent out emails & a questionnaire to a list of potential “Partners” in the process.

The overall intent of creating a Heritage Action Plan (HAP) is to improve the connections between the Trail and downtown Pottstown and to identify and leverage existing arts, cultural, historical and recreational resources to spur economic activity.

Based on a few recent conversations, I’d like to give a pared down explanation of what this process is all about and why it needs strong participation from arts & cultural organizations, educational institutions, government, businesses and restaurants – all of whom are known as “Partners.”

1. When we finish the Heritage Acton Plan or HAP by the end of April, we’re going to immediately turn around and apply for $25,000 from the SRHA to enact the plan by May 2012. This isn’t going to be just another planning study that sits on a shelf; we’re going to get something done.

2. The HAP will include marketing strategies, branding, and physical enhancements to make people aware of what’s downtown.

3. We want to create a Trail Town identity for Pottstown. More and more it’s looking like High Street will become a permanent leg on the Schuylkill River Trail. As the Trail connections are completed between Philly and Pottsville, more and more people are going to be coming through Pottstown. We want them to know that they can stop in Pottstown and find something to do and something to eat. (Pottstown needs to simultaneously look at its zoning and create a package of economic development incentives for new & existing businesses downtown, too, but that’s not part of the HAP process.)

4. Visitors coming off the Trail might not be in a position to go to a nice restaurant or the Tri-PAC that day. But once we get them downtown, we want them to know EVERYTHING that’s available so they want to come back again to experience something else.

5. One of the main outcomes of this plan will likely be VISIBLE & ATTRACTIVE KIOSKS at the Riverfront Park Trailhead, at a possible new trailhead in Pollock Park in south Pottstown, and in the downtown. The trailhead kiosks will make it clear how to get to High Street. All of them will have maps and show what’s available downtown by categories like: The Arts, Historical Attractions, Casual Dining, Fine Dining, Recreation.

6. These kiosks will essentially be “telling a story” that informs and entices EVERYONE to walk around, enjoy local history & architecture, see an art show or the performing arts, and stop in at a restaurant. The marketing of Pottstown as a Trail Town is meant to touch a wider audience of visitors, not just Trail users.

7. The Schuylkill River Heritage Area wants to help the towns along the river use the Trail as an economic engine. This Heritage Action Planning process is the first step.

Anyone interested in being a Partner is invited to meet other Partners and participate in a workshop with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area’s consultants, Peter Johnston & Associates, on Friday, March 4 from 1:30-5 p.m. at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce, 152 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464. Please RSVP to Sue Repko at or 609-658-9043.

Next Happy Hour at Farmers’ Market, Feb. 25

Come out and meet the new owners of The Farmers’ Market

– Ben Moscia & Elise LeBoutillier –
and hear their plans for reinvigorating this crucial corner of High Street!

Friday, Feb. 25 from 5-7 pm
300 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464

Your $5 cover gets you food by Grumpy’s
and complimentary beverages!
Would your business or organization like to host a
Positively!Pottstown Happy Hour?
We want to promote Pottstown businesses and organizations
and get people into your space.
Email Sue Repko at

Neighborhood Watch: Find out what it’s all about & take back your streets

This just in from Citizens for Pottstown’s Revitalization:

There’s no time like the present to take back our neighborhood! The message must be loud and clear that VIOLENCE, CRIME and DRUGS will not be tolerated in our community. Please join us at the PAL Bldg. (146 King St.) @ 7PM on Friday-2/18/2011 to discuss the following topics on the agenda:
1. Pottstown Crime Statistics
2. Organizing a Pottstown Court Watch
3. Collaborating with the Pottstown Guardian Angel Chapter

All are welcome and participation is not required, you get credit for just showing up! So, tell your friends and we hope to see you there..

Please respond if you plan on attending…

Anna Johnson

Tentative Neighborhood Watch and Events Schedule 2011
Link to Neighborhood Watch Calendar

Friday, February 18, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Sunday, February 20, 2011
1:00pm – 2:00pm
Patrol Training by Guardian Angels (1h) | 21 N. Hanover (Pottstown Karate Club)

Friday, March 18, 2011
7:00pm – 8:00pm
Witness Training by Pottstown Police (1h) | Borough Hall (3rd Floor Council Chambers)

Friday, April 15, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011
12:00pm – 4:00pm
Science in the Park (4h) | Washington/Chestnut St. Park

Friday, June 17, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhoo d Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, August 19, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, October 21, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Friday, December 16, 2011
7:00pm – 7:45pm
Neighborhood Watch Meeting (45m) | PAL Bldg (146 King St.)

Volunteer, Intern & Job Fair at Tri-PAC today & Saturday

Job Fair at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center
Volunteer & Paid Positions!
Interview Dates: 2/15 & 2/19 (9:00 am – 2:00 pm)

Seeking adults of all ages and high school students for a variety of volunteer, intern, stipend, and paid positions.

Areas include Concessions, Retail, Facilities, Instructors, Administrative Assistants, Accompanists and other Musicians, Music Assistants, Production, Costumes, Props, Sets, Lighting, Sound, Stage Managers, Scene Shop Manager, Grant writing, Box Office, House Management, Marketing, Event Planning, and Fundraising.

Download details here.
Location: Tri-PAC, 245 E. High St., Pottstown, PA 19464

Appointments appreciated; walk-ins welcome

Tri-PAC Celebrates Sondheim this weekend

Perfect for Valentine’s Weekend ~ Head over to Tri-PAC for CELEBRATING SONDHEIM Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11-13.

In celebration of the incomparable American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, we invite you to a Valentine’s Weekend performance of favorite songs featuring Sondheim’s unique take on romance and relationships. The composer of Broadway hits such as SWEENEY TODD, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, COMPANY, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, INTO THE WOODS, and A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, and lyricist for GYPSY and WEST SIDE STORY, among many other shows, Sondheim is the winner of multiple Tony and Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a Pulitzer Prize.

Parental guidance suggested due to themes about relationships

Tri-County Performing Arts Center
245 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464

Friday @ 8:00 pm / Saturday @ 8:00 pm / Sunday @ 3:00 pm
ADULT: $17 / STUDENT/SENIOR: $15 / CHILD (12 & under): $13
$2 off per ticket for groups of 10 or more!
Log on to for tickets.

Heritage destination location: Pottstown

The Borough of Pottstown recently received a $2,000 Trail Towns and Tours Grant from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA). Pottstown resident and biking and greenway advocate, Tom Carroll, and I have been retained by the Borough to implement this grant, and this blog post is meant to kick off that process and give some details about how it will work. Along the way, we’ll keep the community informed via this blog. For a good summary of the purpose of the grants, see Evan Brandt’s article from January 29th here.

The Trail Towns and Tours Grant is to be used to create a 30-page Heritage Action Plan (HAP) by the end of April 2011. It’s a deliberately short time frame in order to get results and for the SRHA to meet the William Penn Foundation’s time limits for spending the funds.

The overall intent of creating the HAP and going through a planning and consensus-building process (however quick) is to identify and leverage existing cultural resources, market Pottstown as a heritage destination, and get Schuylkill River Trail users (and other visitors) into the downtown to spur economic activity. Just as important will be the chance to develop and formalize solid working partnerships among individuals, organizations and businesses committed to promoting downtown Pottstown. This is what we’ve all been talking about for quite a while, and this grant gives the community a chance to try it out – working together and presenting a new image to potential visitors, outside governmental agencies and funders, as well as residents themselves.

It should be noted that heritage tourism IS economic development, but that it should be considered just one prong of a multi-pronged economic development strategy for Pottstown. There is still plenty of room to develop and promote Pottstown as an arts community, or one that values and hosts sustainable technology companies, or whatever other approach comes out of other visioning/planning efforts.

So, what is a heritage or cultural resource? I’ll just give a few examples: the River and its trail; historical architecture, markers & walking tours in the downtown; arts organizations; restaurants, including “heritage eateries,” such as The Very Best and the diner; the Historical Society; The Hill School; Pottsgrove Manor; Riverfront & Memorial Parks; a completed Carousel & mini-golf, etc. Visitors want an authentic experience when they decide on a destination and how to spend their money. Pottstown has loads to offer and the point of this grant is to identify and package it all in a way that will appeal to these visitors.

Another key part of this planning process will be looking at what needs to be done to make it very easy for people biking or hiking on the Trail to know what’s available in town and then actually direct them off the trail and safely to High Street. This whole approach is based on the idea of making the Pottstown Business Loop – a stretch of High Street – an official part of the River Trail, since it’s unlikely a right-of-way along the river will be available from Norfolk Southern anytime soon.

We’ll be helped along in this process by using what’s known as the Heritage Towns and Tours Toolkit, provided by the SRHA and created by their consultants, Peter Johnston & Associates of Easton, MD. From a planning perspective, this Toolkit is just amazing, allowing communities (& consultants, I might add) to dive in where they might otherwise be totally intimidated. The Toolkit lays out a step-by-step process to create a HAP with the rationale, forms and examples that make it seem do-able. Even better is that the SRHA grant comes with $5,000 worth of consulting services from Peter Johnston & Associates. They will be in Pottstown at least once for a 3-4 hour workshop to help us work our way through the Toolkit. We’ll also have support from the SRHA staff, who are right around the corner at 140 College Drive.

Basically, we will go through the following 5 steps:

1. Organize & Plan – What do we want for our community as a heritage destination? Form Useful Partnerships; Create a Vision & Goals, and Define Partner Expectations.

2. Identify & Assess – What do we have to offer as a heritage destination? Identify Heritage Resources; Assess Heritage Resources; and Bring People and Ideas Together.

3. Market & Improve – What do we need to market our community and what has already been done? Create an Image; Market Your Community; Improve Effectiveness.

4. Protect & Manage – How do we get there? Build Public Support, Look at Ordinances & Other Regulations, Make Any Recommendations That Will Help Protect Resources.

5. Prepare & Implement – How to complete the Heritage Action Plan?
Define Projects and Activities, Assign Costs, Manage Resources Over Long-Term

By the end of this process, Pottstown will have:
• A List of Partners and Stakeholders
• A Vision, Goals, and Objectives
• A Summary of Stakeholders and Assigned Jobs, Tasks, and Other Duties for Partners
• An Inventory of Heritage Resources, which have been Evaluated and Assessed for the Heritage Program
• A Marketing Plan Summary including an Image/Brand
• A Listing of Current Government Protections for Heritage Preservation and Tourism
• A Summary of Needed Policy and Regulatory Protections for Heritage Resources
• A Project List, Description of Projects, and Budgets
• A Final List of Recommendations or Strategic Actions including projects; and
• An Organizational Structure for the Long-Term Management and Oversight of the Heritage Program

The HAP will then be used to make another application to the SRHA for $25,000 in implementation funding to carry out the top priorities in the Plan. Those activities must be completed by May 2012.

The next step for Tom and me is to get in touch with folks from an initial list of local “Partners,” inviting them to participate in the process and start filling out a Partnership Form from the Toolkit. Please give me a day or so to get that email out. We invite others who want to participate to get in touch with us at

Obviously, I think there’s a lot of potential here to get some solid forward movement on the economic development front. I appreciate the Borough giving Tom and me the chance to work on the project and rally the community around common goals – an improved local economy, stronger partnerships and more positive exposure and marketing of all that Pottstown has to offer.

On Tap This Weekend

If you’re looking for something entertaining and uplifting to do this weekend, here are some arts and cultural happenings in Pottstown to check out.

Celebrating Sondheim runs this weekend only at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center. In celebration of the incomparable American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, Village Productions invites you to a Valentine’s Weekend performance of favorite songs featuring Sondheim’s unique take on romance and relationships. Shows take place Friday & Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets range from $13-$17 and are available here. (Parental guidance suggested due to themes about relationships.)

The Winter Member Show at The Gallery on High is running now through March 19. The Gallery’s hours are Tuesday-Friday 10am-4:30pm and Saturday 10am-3pm (closed Sunday and Monday.) The Gallery is located at 254 E. High Street in a fully restored Victorian building in the center of Pottstown’s historical district. The Gallery offers contrasting styles of media for even the most discriminating collector and represents local and national artists with established reputations and new and upcoming artists. Please call 610-326-2506 or email info@galleryonhigh for more information.

Saturday night at 7 pm, check out poet Ray Brown in the Otherwise-Poetry series at Churchill Artisan Baker & Chocolatier, 137 E. High Street (484-941-5100). The evening is hosted by Glenn McLaughlin. Ray Brown’s poetry will be followed by an open mic. Get your verse on!

On Sunday, Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m., Emmanuel Lutheran will be the venue for a Valentines-themed concert presented by wonderful professional ensemble called “CANTATICA”. The concert is entitled “Love Songs: A Valentines Celebration”, and will feature choral and vocal works from many different styles including: classical, celtic, latin, opera, folk, and jazz. One of the featured soloists is Toni Marie Palmertree (soprano) who lives right here in Pottstown. Tickets: $14 Adults; $12 seniors; $6 students. Tickets available at the door. Info.; 484-951-5113

And if you want to support Boy Scout Troop 129 before you go out on Saturday night, Feb. 12, they’re holding an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner from 4-7 pm at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Hanover & Walnut Streets. MENU INCLUDES: Spaghetti in Sauce, Meatballs, Salad, Coffee, Tea, Milk and Dessert. Adults – $7.00; Seniors/Kids (7-13) – $5.00; Children 6 and under – FREE; Tickets Sold at Door.

Citizen participation wanted: Schools Task Force & CDBG

Tonight there’s a meeting of the School District’s President’s Task Force on Facilities at the Middle School beginning at 7 pm in the LGI Meeting Room. Go to take a tour and learn more about the building and its operations. This will be the last tour of the schools and then the discussions and analysis will begin. The current meeting schedule into the spring can be found here.

Tomorrow night, the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Development invites local citizens to attend a Citizen Participation Meeting to be held Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 6:00 p.m., at the Montgomery County Community College, West Campus, 101 College Drive, (Conference Room 221), South Hall, Pottstown, PA.

The meeting will allow citizens a time to present and discuss projects for which your municipality may apply for in the FY 2011 Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program, Emergency Shelter Grants, (ESG) Program, and/or Home Investment Partnerships Program, (HOME). Local non-profit organizations are also invited to attend and participate in this meeting.

From the County’s website: “The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program is an entitlement funding from HUD for the purpose of promoting community revitalization throughout the country.

CDBG funds are used for a wide range of community development activities including acquisition, rehabilitation, disposition, relocation, clearance, demolition, removal of architectural barriers, historical restoration, planning activities, public works projects, infrastructure improvements, public services, housing activities, new construction, and economic development.

Eligible activities must meet one of the CDBG’s three national objectives: (1) to benefit low- and moderate-income persons (primary objective); (2) to aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight; and (3) to meet other community development needs that present a serious and immediate threat to the health and welfare of the community. Over a 1-3 year period, at least 70% of the funds spent by a grantee must be used for activities that benefit low- and moderate-income persons.”

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