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.