Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Business of the Month criteria

Hello hello - it's been far too long, time to make this blog great start blogging again!

Lansdale's Economic Development Committee had an interesting discussion last night, Monday July 18, about the borough's Business of the Month award.

Each month since late 2013, members of that committee have chosen a local business to be recognized, and the honoree receives recognition at a borough council meeting, a certificate, and a short video showing photos of who they are and what they do.

EDC member Richard Strahm announced Monday he'll be giving this month's award to Stove and Tap restaurant, which is located at Main and Wood Streets and opened in March.
Have they been in town long enough to win the award? Should others that have been in town longer be considered ahead of newer businesses?
Last year the EDC discussed creating a set of formal criteria for the award, to provide more structure if committee members were unsure of how to proceed.
Those criteria included that they must have been in business for at least two years, in good standing with code and police departments, be owned locally and not a chain, and "play an active role in both the Lansdale business community and the community at large."
Staff also started compiling a list of businesses suggested by other committee members, and by the public, and resisdents can submit their own ideas, or businesses can submit themselves for nomination if they're interested.
Should those criteria be updated or made official? That discussion continued Monday, and looks likely to resume when EDC next meets on August 15.
Strahm said he nominated Stove and Tap because "it really has been transformative to the borough," and shows that a new destination with a quality product can draw traffic to town.
"I don't think there's a better example right now than Stove and Tap, that is making people really sit up and say 'Wow, look at what they did in Lansdale. If only I could be half that successful - let me give Lansdale a try,'" he said.
EDC member Bruce Schwartz said while all of that may be true of Stove and Tap, do others elsewhere in the borough deserve the same recognition?
"If I were a business owner in Lansdale of ten, 15, 20 years' standing, and I had never gotten a second look....Stove and Tap is very visible. I'm kind of a fan of trying to find the less visible," he said.
Ray Liberto, who was chairman of EDC last year when talks started on revising the criteria, said his vision of the award included giving a publicity boost to businesses that might need it, and he had heard certain businesses see dozens of new customers after receiving the award.
"If you pick a steel manufacturer on Cannon Avenue, when it gets in the paper and on our website, and goes out in the Electric Wire, people aren't going to go purchase steel there," he said.
Resident Bill Allen pointed out that several of the positive comments made about Stove and Tap Monday could have also applied to other businesses that have come and gone in recent years.
"Four years ago, we would've nominated Molly Maguire's, and we all know how that went. Tabora was another one. I think we can get too carried away in the excitement, the emotion, of these new things that come into town," Allen said, referring to others that drew crowds initially, then closed once interest tailed off.
But, Strahm replied, should the award represent a moment in time, a long-term contribution, or both?
"If you ask a person on the street who the winner of the May 2014 Business of the Month award is, most people would be hard pressed to come up with the answer," he said.
"We're celebrating people for a slice of time, and it's a shame if something down the road happens to them and they're no longer with us. We certainly don't wish that on anybody, but unfortunately, in the business world, it does happen," Strahm said.

What do you think? Which rules, if any, should be put in place for the Business of the Month award?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Recognize these two?

Lansdale borough council honored several local residents with formal ceremonies during their Jan. 20 meeting, including retired police Officer Pat McKernan as the department's Officer of the Year, and Lansdale Montessori School as their Business of the Month.
These two more than earned their own recognition: our former photographers Geoff Patton, center, and Mark Psoras each received proclamations from Mayor Andy Szekely for their decades of work for The Reporter until early January.
"It's a bit of a bittersweet recognition today, as we thank Reporter photographers Geoff Patton and Mark Psoras for their artistic and journalistic work here in Lansdale, and wish them the best of luck in the future," Szekely said.
Geoff worked for The Reporter for more than 30 years, off and on (ask him sometime about the side jobs he held in between) and Mark for 15, and Mayor Andy read bios on each prepared by our former Executive Editor Nona Breaux.
"Both are award-winning photographers, of course, but their tireless efforts, creativity, and talents are hard to describe. Geoff has devoted countless hours to covering every situation imaginable, from young pupils on their first day at school, to tragic accidents, from sports teams celebrating to communities mourning the loss of officials.
His artistic eye was amazing. Through it all, he was a calm presence, a true gentleman, an artist, a visual storyteller, and a quiet leader. He rose to the digital challenge as well, adding the title of Online Editor to his long list of accomplishments. He is known well in the community, and told so many stories through his lenses, that conveyed so much more than the written word. He's a talented and dedicated professional, with a true sense of empathy.

Mark followed in the footsteps of his father, and also proved to be a talented photographer, whose passion for his work was evident in his photos. School and community sports seemed to be a special focus for him, and it's hard to fathom the hours he spent on every type of playing field imaginable.
The same could be said about other school and community coverage, whether graduations, special events, crime scenes or weather shots. Working the later shift meant he knew many community leaders well through meeting coverage, but he could also be counted on to shift gears quickly for breaking news. He has enjoyed his share of awards, but his love for sports and meeting coverage was far more important than the plaques on the wall.

I can't imagine The Reporter without them, and the news industry and the community are certainly the poorer for losing these two photojournalists."

Szekely added a note from Dick Shearer, another former editor here and now President of the Lansdale Historical Society, who said our photographer Willard Kriebel "considered them both great talents." Willard hired Geoff back in the mid-1970s, and photos shot by Mark's father Sam Psoras for various Philadelphia newspapers inspired Willard to go into the same field.
The Mayoral proclamations Szekely read thanked both for their countless hours of artwork representing Lansdale and the surrounding area.
"Through your artistry, you have left a profound and lasting mark on all of us, chronicling the news and events in town, from the Christmas tree lighting, to school sports, to borough council meetings, to the mundane which you made interesting, such as rainy days, sunny days, heat waves - and of course, snowstorms."
"Looking at The Reporter in the morning and seeing what you saw through your camera offered a different, thoughtful perspective on our community. Thank you for your contributions."
Councilman Jack Hansen thanked both "for all that you've done for the community, and how you've made me look good over the years," which Geoff joked was "no easy task."
Councilwoman Mary Fuller, who had worked with both as a paginator for The Reporter, recalled fighting with Mark over deadlines and laying out countless photos the two had taken on our pages over the years.
"Best of luck in everything moving forward. This is richly deserved, and hopefully we'll still see you around at events around town," she said.
Thanks for everything, Geoff and Mark.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Behind the scenes in Hatfield

Last week Hatfield Township's police department earned a high honor - accreditation from the PA Chiefs of Police Association - and their board had plenty of praise for the police department.

They also took plenty of photos, and here's one that did not make the cut for my story: board President Tom Zipfel, standing at center left, trying to learn how to use the camera as township Manager Aaron Bibro, at left in the group of four, posed with police Chief Bill Tierney, Lt. Jane Robertson, and  PACPA program coordinator Dick Hammon who made the presentation. In case you've ever wondered what you don't see when those same old posed photos are taken, here's a glimpse!
Hatfield's commissioners approved several action items Jan. 27, including purchases of two new pickup trucks for the township Public Works department. Bibro and Zipfel both thanked Public Works Director John Wolff and his crews for their efforts in clearing local roads after snowstorms this past weekend. 12 public works employees plowed a total of 122 lane-miles and applied 132 tons of salt to local roads, according to Zipfel, who said he heard only minor complaints about damaged mailboxes after the storm.
“They worked pretty much nonstop from Friday to Sunday, and that’s a dedication that not a lot of people see today when they look at their workplace,” Zipfel said.
Our former photographer Geoff Patton was able to ride along with Hatfield's plow trucks during snowstorms in early 2014 - click here to see the view from inside one of those trucks.
Also approved by the board was a settlement appeal between a developer looking to build on a parcel near Welsh Road and their neighbors, which the township was party to during the appeal process. The settlement resulted in a slight shift in location of the new house to be built on the lot, and preservation of trees currently on the property, according to Bibro and planning and zoning officer Ken Amey.
The board also approved a financing application by Salus University through the North Penn Health, Hospital and Education Authortiy, which provides lending opportunities at tax-free, low interest rates. Approving the lending carries no cost to the township, according to Bibro, and fees generated by the financing could come back to Hatfield via grants awarded by the authority board.
Hatfield’s commissioners next meet at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the township administration building, 1950 School Road; for more information or meeting agendas and materials visit www.HatfieldTownship.org or follow @HatfieldPA on Twitter.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Calling all volunteers!

If you've ever wanted to help out your local town, our local municipalities are looking for residents to step up.
The following towns are looking for locals willing to serve on various boards and commissions - will update this as we learn of more:

NORTH WALES - One seat on borough council from Ward 1 is currently open, due to the resignation of former council member Christine Hart to become borough Manager. Any resident 18 years old or older who lives in Ward 1 can apply by Jan. 8 for consideration by council at a future meeting.
Several other volunteer boards and bodies are also in need of volunteers:
Historical Architectural Review Board: needed are an architect, broker and inspector
North Wales Historic Commission
Nor-Gwyn Pool Commission
North Wales Water Authority
Parks and Recreation Board
Pension Committee
Planning commission
Shade Tree commission
Vacancy Board chairman
Zoning hearing board

Anyone interested in any of those positions is asked to send a letter of interest and an overview of their qualifications to Hart or attention of Borough Council, mailing address 300 School Street, North Wales PA 19454, or contact Hart at (215) 699-4424 extension 111 or by emailing CHart@northwalesborough.org.

2016 calendars - UPDATED 1/12

It's that time of year again - more precisely, the end of one and the start of another. As we're right on the brink of 2016, our local municipalities are starting to line up their schedules of local meeting dates and times throughout the year. Most of our munis will pass 2016 calendars during their reorganization meetings on Jan. 4 and I'll update as we get those, but here are the ones we know so far:

Council will keep a similar schedule as in 2015, with committee meetings starting at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month and reporting back to council at 9 p.m., and a business meeting two weeks later on the third Wednesday.
Committees at 7 p.m., work sessions at 9 p.m.: February 3, March 2, April 6, May 4, June 1, July 6, August 3, September 7, October 5, November 2, December 7.
Business meeting at 7 p.m.: January 20, February 17, March 16, April 20, May 18, June 15, July 20, August 17, September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21.
Other Lansdale meetings:
- Planning Commission at 7:30 p.m. on third Monday of each month except in February (22nd instead of 15th)
- Economic Development Committee at 6:30 p.m. on third Monday of each month, except Feb. 22 instead of 15th
- Zoning hearing board at 7:30 p.m. on third Tuesday of each month
- Parking Authority at 7 p.m. on second Wednesday of each month
- Communication Commission on second Tuesday of the month, once per quarter - January 12, April 12, July 12, October 11.
All Lansdale meetings will be held at the borough municipal complex, 1 Vine Street; for details or agendas visit www.Lansdale.org or follow @LansdalePA on Twitter for more.

Hatfield's commissioners held their reorganization meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4, and have approved the following calendar of 2016 meeting dates and times.
All board meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. on the following dates, at the township administration building, 1950 School Road:
Workshop meetings - Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 2, Dec. 7.
Business meetings: Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 23, April 27, May 25, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 16, Dec. 21.
The following boards and commissions will also meet at these dates and times:
Planning Commission - third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.
Parks and Recreation board - first Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Pool Advisory Board - second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Shade Tree Commission - third Monday of each month at 7 p.m.
Planning and Zoning committee - fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m.
Environmental Advisory Committee - third Monday of even-numbered months at 6 p.m.
Hatfield's board and staff have also held a special meeting on Jan. 6 to discuss the plans to extend the Frick's Trail from a house near Line Lexington Road, west across Orvilla Road to connect with School Road Park. Hatfield's staff discussed the trail project during budget meetings over the past two months, and showed a video of what the current trail route looks like walking through the wilderness - start at 35 minutes in on the Nov. 18 video for details, and visit www.HatfieldTownship.org or follow @HatfieldPA on Twitter for more.

Upper Gwynedd's commissioners held their reorganization meetingon Jan. 4, and approved during their final meeting of 2015 the following schedule of meetings:
Workshop meetings at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20, Oct. 18, Nov. 15, Dec. 13.
Business meetings at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 28, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 21, Dec. 19.
The township's planning commission is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 5, Feb. 1, March 7, April 4, May 2, June 13, July 11, Aug. 1, Sept. 7, Oct. 5, Nov. 2, and Dec. 5.
The zoning hearing board meets at 7 p.m. on Jan. 26, Feb. 23, March 22, April 18, May 24, June 28, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 27, Oct, 25, Nov. 22 and Dec. 20.
Upper Gwynedd's Parks and Recreation board is slated to meet at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11, March 14, M ay 9, Aug. 8 (to plan to township summer carnival), Sept. 12, and Nov. 14.
The Police pension board meets at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, May 18, Aug. 17 and Nov. 16.
The Nor-Gwyn Pool Commission is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month: Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 17, April 21, May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18, Sept. 15, Oct. 20, Nov. 17, and Dec. 15.
All meetings will be held at the township administration building, 1 Parkside Place. For more information or meeting agendas and details visit www.UpperGwynedd.org.

Montgomery Township's supervisors will hold their reorganization meeting starting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 4, and on the agenda for that meeting is approval of a 2016 meeting schedule. Meetings will be held at 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month, with no Jan. 11 meeting due to Jan. 4 also serving as an action meeting night.
Subsequent board meetings will be held at 8 p.m. on: Jan. 25,  Feb. 8 and 22, March 14 and 18, April 11 and 25, May 9 and 23, June 13 and 27, July 11 and 25, August 8 and 22, September 12 and 26, October 11 and 24, November 14 and 28, and Dec. 12. All meetings will be held at the township administration building, 1001 Stump Road, except for the Jan. 4 reorganization meeting at the new township community and recreation center just across the street at 1030 Horsham Road. For more information or meeting agendas and materials visit www.MontgomeryTwp.org or follow @MontTwp on Twitter.

Towamencin's supervisors have approved the following 2016 meeting schedule, with all meetings to be held at 7:30 p.m. at the township administration building, 1090 Troxel Road:
Work sessions - Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, Aug. 10, Sept. 14, Oct. 12, Nov. 9, Dec. 14.
Business meetings: Jan. 27, Feb. 24, March 23, April 27, May 25, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26, Nov. 22 *Tuesday due to Thanksgiving holiday* and Dec. 28.

Borough council has approved a 2016 meeting schedule with council meetings held at 7 p.m. at the borough municipal building, 300 School Street, on the following dates:
Jan. 12 and 26, Feb. 9 and 23, March 8 and 22, April 12 and 19 *moved due to primary election*; May 10 and 24, June 14 and 28, July 12 and 26, Aug. 9 and 23, Sept. 13 and 27, Oct. 11 and 25, Nov. 1 *moved due to general election* and 22, and Dec. 6 and 13.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Stricker stories

This week Lansdale lost an iconic figure, with the passing at age 84 of former councilman and longtime Lansdale Cemetery caretaker Dick Stricker.

Stricker led an effort in the early 1960s to clean up and preserve the cemetery, and served on its board of directors as caretaker and superintendent from 1964 until it was handed over to Lansdale Borough in 2013.
Several borough officials shared their memories about Stricker following a moment of silence during Wednesday night's council meeting, including borough Manager Jake Ziegler, who said Stricker was one of the first councilmen he met when he started working for the borough.
"For some reason, right off the bat he just always kept calling me 'Misterrrr Ziegler' - I don't know why, but that was Dick, and that was the way it was always going to be," Ziegler said.
"Over the years I went on various tours with Dick around the borough. Most, if not all, of those tours wound up either passing through or ending up at the cemetery. It was really close to Dick's heart," he said, calling Stricker "truly a Lansdale borough citizen for life."
Mayor Andy Szekely said Stricker was one of the borough's "most colorful characters...he was my most frequent visitor in the Mayor's office, and certainly the most entertaining."
Szekely posted on his blog his memories of conversations with Stricker, sharing stories of how the longtime Lansdale Historical Society member tore out a large wooden staircase in his home to make room for rental apartments, yet would help those who fell behind on their rent.
" As a single man, to have a gigantic house was not his style; he was practical and made money off of the buildings and provided housing for others. Very utilitarian and very characteristic of Lansdale," Szekely wrote.  Any other Stricker stories can be posted here, on Szekely's blog, or sent to the Historical Society.
Councilman Jack Hansen said during his term as council President in 2009 he'd hold public office hours, and every time Stricker walked in, "he would sit where my back was to the clock."
"Now, my office hours normally ended at 11 (a.m.), and somewhere around 11:15 or 11:30 he would say 'I've taken up enough of your time,' and leave. That was enjoyable," Hansen said.
Those visits continued to Hansen's home after his term as council president ended, and "he always came in with something good for the borough. That was his whole agenda, because Dick loved Lansdale, and Lansdale will miss him."
Council member Mary Fuller took over the leadership of the cemetery board after the borough takeover, and said she and Stricker would share stories about family members buried in the cemetery.
"To know Dick was to love him. At the heart of it, he truly was all about Lansdale. He gave his heart and soul when he served on council," she said.
During cemetery board meetings in recent years, "he would often say 'I'm not gonna be here, I'm not gonna be here,' and as much as he would say that, I just never believed it," Fuller said.
The cemetery board is currently working on plans to put a plaque at the entrance to the cemetery honoring the original board, and Stricker was glad that project was in the works.
"I know that he passed knowing that the cemetery was in good hands, and I guess that's a good thing because that'll be his future home," Fuller said.
Councilman Jason Van Dame said, similar to other stories of how Stricker would corner council members in their homes, something similar happened the first time Stricker visited him.
"My wife answered the door and told him I was at work, so being Dick, he let himself in and sat down and told her everything he was planning to tell me. He was a character, colorful, and he was definitely proud of this town."
Councilman Steve Malagari said Stricker "always had a big, bright smile on his face" and would introduce Malagari to others as "our new councilman," referring to Ward 1. On one particular run-in at the Fairmount Fire Company's firehouse, "he said, 'Did you know my name is on the plaque inside that building? When I was on council, I helped build this.'"
"Dick wasn't doing it to boast, he was doing it to say how proud he was. And every time after that, he said 'Do you know my name is on that plaque?' and every time I said 'No, I didn't.' and he'd show me every time."
"Rest in peace, Dick. I'll see you in the cemetery, and hopefully we can keep his memory eternal," Malagari said.

Friends and relatives can pay respects during services at Huff & Lakjer Funeral Home, 701 Derstine Ave. in Lansdale, from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27 and starting at 9 a.m. on Nov. 28. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., followed by entombment in the mausoleum. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Stricker’s memory to the Lansdale Historical Society, 137 Jenkins Ave., Lansdale, PA 19446.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Election day is finally here!

At long last, the day we've been waiting for!

Once you're done reading this, be sure to minimize this page and go out and vote - and be sure to use #Montcovote to let us know where you did and if it was busy!

If you haven't already cast your vote, here is our rundown of the local races in our area with info from them in their own words:

NORTH WALES - Democrat Sal Amato and Republican Martha Lottes are running for one North Wales Ward 3 seat http://bit.ly/1GJYr1S

HATFIELD TOWNSHIP - Democrat Scott Brown chose not to run again in Ward 1, so Democrat Bob Miller and Republican Laura Thomas are both seeking that seat: http://bit.ly/1Mfsxe0

Over in Ward 5, a very familiar race: Republican Gerry Andris and Democrat Tom Landauer are running against each other for the third time: http://bit.ly/1Q9uf29

UPPER GWYNEDD: Incumbent Republicans Ken Kroberger, Jim Santi and Tom Duffy are opposed by  Democrat challengers Kathryn Carlson, Liz McNaney and Rob Wilkinson: http://bit.ly/1RoY11h

Right here in LANSDALE, control of council is in the balance as four incumbent Democrats face Republican challengers, and Republican incumbent Ray Liberto is on the ballot but not campaigning against Democrat Carrie Hawkins Charlton: http://bit.ly/1Q4gBy7

Ward 1 Democrat Steve Malagari is opposed by Republican Thomas York  http://bit.ly/1Mayk11

Democrat Denton Burnell is opposed by Republican challenger Rebecca Faucette in Ward 3 http://bit.ly/1Pk5VKj

and former councilman Len Schmidt and newcomer Richard Smith are challenging Democrats Jack Hansen and Rich DiGregorio, first elected in 2007, in Ward 2: http://bit.ly/1Pk5WxV

Let me know what you see out at the polls today!