Labor Day, a tribute to the American Worker

I found a short history of the origin of Labor Day at the U.S. Department of Labor website. There seems to be some question about who actually proposed the tradition, but it seems pretty clear that it was first put into practice in 1882 in New York City. Check out the story here.

From the DOL… “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”

Wishing all those who work, a satisfying day of rest.

County’s Small Business Assistance Fund seeks to retain/expand jobs

Mr. Ken Klothen, Director of Economic Development for Montgomery County will be meeting tomorrow with members of the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce and facilitating a seminar on the County’s Small Business Assistance Fund (SBAF). Downtown business owners have also been invited to attend.

The Small Business Assistance Fund is intended to help businesses retain jobs, expand jobs or begin operations, especially in central business districts. The program will provide low-interest financing for a portion of the costs of land, building, capital equipment, and working capital to businesses unable to fully finance these costs through non-public, commercial sources.

For more information, see the County webpage here and contact: 

Ken Klothen, Director of Economic Development
kklothen@montcopa.org
610-278-3020
 

Summer Food Program offered by Seventh-Day Adventist Church

The Seventh-Day Adventist Church of Pottstown is sponsoring a Summer Food Service Program as part of their community outreach. They are providing lunch for children ages 18 and younger on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through August 27th. 

The lunches are served at the Chestnut Street Park, at the corner of Chestnut and N. Washington Streets from noon until 1:00 pm, each Tuesday, Thursday, and SaturdayAny young person who lives in Pottstown Borough is eligible; there’s no need to sign up! Just show up at the park! This program is run through the PA Department of Education and is funded by the USDA

“I am very grateful to have a couple of area businesses assist our church in keeping within the budget allowed for the program,” said Carolyn D. Hetrick, MSHN. She is the Health and Wellness Coordinator for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which is located at 1134 N. Charlotte Street in the North End.

Specifically, Mickey Barron, manager for the Pizza Hut in the Upland Square Shopping Center, is generously donating pizzas  for the Thursday lunches. Also, Christopher Longeway and Sam Rhame of the Milkman Lunch Co. and Cake Shoppe on N. Charlotte Street are graciously discounting the cost of their service to help with the Saturday lunches.

For more information regarding this program, check out the USDA website at: www.summerfood.usda.gov. 

Rutgers Urban Design Studio to present waterfront ideas to Borough Council tonight

River View, off Keystone Blvd.

  The first item under New Business on Borough Council’s agenda tonight is a presentation of some waterfront design ideas generated by an online continuing education class of planning and design professionals. 

Rutgers University’s Professional Development Institute (PDI) offers a range of courses to urban planners and other land use professionals from all over the United States and the world. This past spring some of them studied Pottstown’s waterfront, led by instructor Matt Wanamaker, a principal of the Philadelphia urban design and place-making firm Brown & KeenerMatt will be doing tonight’s presentation, along with Chris Huff of Pottstown’s Planning Commission. 

As many of you know, the Urban Land Institute’s 2009 report urged the Borough to create “a place of magic” on the riverfront. The Borough should get a better idea of the constraints and possibilities, thanks to the expertise and innovative thinking that comes from directing fresh eyes and minds to an urban challenge. If you’re interested in Pottstown’s revitalization conversation, come on out to tonight’s meeting, listen and join in. The meeting starts at 6:30 pm in the 3rd floor Council Meeting Room.

U.S. Army Reserve’s 78th Army Band to play at Sanatoga Park this Wednesday night

This Wednesday, July 13th, at 7pm, the 78th Army Band out of Fort Dix, New Jersey will make an appearance at the band shell at Sanatoga Park. They are appearing as part of the Lower Pottsgrove’s summer concert series, sponsored by Exelon Nuclear. Check out Joe Zlomek’s story in the Sanatoga Post.

Joe also wrote via email: “To my knowledge, this is the first time in many years a military band unit has played an outdoor concert anywhere near Pottstown, and the first time in several years a unit has played in the greater Pottstown area at all.” They will be playing in much larger cities and towns this week, including Baltimore and Philadelphia, so this is a fantastic opportunity, so close to home, to hear our service men and women perform and to acknowledge their musical talent and commitment.

We featured Sanatoga Park in our Parks & Rec Series last fall for the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation; you can see photos here. The band shell and lawn overlooking the water provide a scenic setting for the community to come together and share a musical experience.  So, gather up the family, throw a blanket or some lawn chairs into the trunk, and head over to Sanatoga Park this Wednesday night!

 

 

Tri-County for A Cure Video Project

The weekend is finally almost here for Yoga on the Steps, which benefits the amazing organization: Living Beyond Breast Cancer.  In case you weren’t able to attend our last Positively!Pottstown Happy Hour and you haven’t seen this video circulating around the internet (especially on facebook), here’s the culmination of some fun ideas, a lot of great participation by local business owners and leaders, and the talent of a certain photographer, Melia Rios-Lazo of Priceless Moments

Owner of High Street Yoga and the creative force behind the video, Barbara Kosciewicz offered her thoughts today about the video.  She writes of the project:

Throughout the long winter, during each class someone would comment or giggle about a certain pose we could do in a location in Pottstown.  We dreamed for spring to come and decided it would be our spring project.   Before long, the idea began to grow and evolve into raising awareness and funds for our Yoga team Tri-County for a Cure that is attending Yoga on the Steps on Sunday May 15th. Suddenly the project became much  greater than ourselves and became something both fun and meaningful

You can read the rest of her thoughts on her blog, Yoga Wisdom for Everyday, which is also a Mercury Town Square Blog. 

There is still time to get involved with Yoga on the Steps:  you can donate to the Tri-County for a Cure team or even sign up to participate on Sunday.  Just visit www.yogaonthesteps.org to get the details.

First Suburbs meeting: Help make Pottstown’s voice be heard

The Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project is holding a public meeting Thursday, April 14 at 7:30 pm with Housing and Urban Development Region III Administrator Jane Vincent to call for fairness in regional housing policy.

The Statement of Purpose on their website declares:

“The Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project is a regional coalition of community leaders from developed suburbs that have joined together to harness their communities’ power by directly engaging citizens to affect policies and practices that will lead to the stabilization and revitalization of their communities.”

The First Suburbs Project has galvanized communities in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties. Pottstown is a member of this coalition and will be taking a bus to the meeting, which will be held at the JP Mascaro and Sons Building in Audobon. To get on the bus, which will leave Borough Hall at 6:30 pm, call the Borough at 610-970-6511.

To read some prior blog posts about the challenges facing Pottstown and other First Suburbs, check out the following links:

Community Gardens & First Suburbs – the start of a (long) conversation

First Suburbs: Affordable Housing Notes from NJ

First Suburbs – Challenges of Rental Housing

First Suburbs, Keim Street Bridge & Keystone Blvd. Extension

Community Ward Meeting Tonight

Tonight at 7 pm, there’s a Community Ward Meeting where residents are invited to present concerns to the Borough Manager and Department Heads in an informal setting and where Borough reps will give residents an update of what’s happening in the Borough.

The meeting will take place at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 East High Street, Pottstown, PA – Room A – 2nd floor.

I’ll be in town for some other meetings, including the Schuylkill Highlands open house at Morlatton Village in the late afternoon, and will stick around for this all-ward meeting. There are a lot of good things happening at the local government level, including the Heritage Action planning process, a new owner-occupied housing rehab program, and an update to the Borough website, among many others. Bring your questions and ideas — hope to see you there!

Heritage Action Plan needs your input!

Last Friday, about 20 individuals and representatives from many different organizations in the community gathered at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce for a 3.5 hour workshop to really dig into Pottstown’s Heritage Action Plan. Pottstown is creating a Heritage Action Plan or HAP with funds from the Schuylkill River Heritage Area (SRHA). The purpose is to come up with a plan that will help promote and protect Pottstown’s heritage resources, make it a destination location and promote economic development.

On hand were Bob Folwell and Kara Wilson from the SRHA, as well as heritage planning consultants Shane and Peter Johnston from Peter Johnston Associates of Easton, MD. They were there to give an overview of the heritage planning toolkit, which they developed and which is being used to guide Pottstown through the process.

Our first step had been reaching out and trying to find “partners” to participate. A partner can be just about anyone, from an interested citizen to the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, The Hill School, the Pottstown Community Land Trust, or local blogger Roy Keeler. I have gotten back partnership forms from several participants. To anyone else who would like to be an official partner: please get me your forms by this Friday, March 11! The Partnership_Form can be accessed here for anyone reading this for the first time.

After forming useful partnerships, the next step from the toolkit is creating a vision and goals. On Friday, we went around the room and people shared their vision for what the town could look like and feel like in an ideal world, while consultant Shane Johnston typed away. We came up with some common themes, which will be posted here shortly. We will also open up that conversation to the public for more input.

The next major step from the toolkit is to identify and assess a community’s heritage resources. Before we can market Pottstown, we need to catalogue exactly what resources we have and then decide which ones will provide the most immediate, visible return if we spend money to promote them. When this HAP is completed in April, we will apply for $25,000 to the SRHA to implement those top priorities over the course of the next year.

In an effort to bring the wider community into the conversation, we are putting out a request for help in identifying Pottstown’s “heritage resources.” Readers are welcome to respond here or at our Facebook page: Pottstown Heritage Action Plan.

So, what exactly is a “heritage resource”?

Here are a bunch of categories and some examples to get you thinking:

Historic Sites/Structures
– Downtown historic walking tours
– Potts Cemetery
– Edgewood Cemetery
– Various war memorials

Archeological Sites/Structures

Cultural Sites (Churches, Synagogues, etc.)
– Any historic church in town

Educational Institutions and Libraries
– Pottstown Historical Society
– Pottstown Regional Public Library

Museums & Other Interpretive Centers

Arts, Entertainment, and Shopping Areas

Major Highways and Roads

Trails, Greenways, Bikeways, Railroads

Sensitive Environmental Areas, Natural Wonders

Parks and Recreation Areas
– Riverfront Park
– Memorial Park

Tourism Dependent Businesses (hotels, restaurants, bars)

Special Events/Festivals that highlight local history/culture
– Schuylkill River Festival
– Carousel of Flavor
– July 4th
– Volleyball Rumble

Tourist Facilities (public restrooms, parking)

Other Resources

WE NEED YOU TO JOIN THE CONVERSATION
What are some of Pottstown’s resources that you’d like to see on the list? As people respond, I’ll periodically update the list. Because of our short time frame to complete the plan, it would be great if people could get their suggestions in by this Friday, March 11th. If you have any questions, or would like to be involved further, send an email to PtownHAP@gmail.com Thanks for participating!

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