The Phoenix Files

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Recovering from New Year's Eve

No Hugs Allowed

I’ve decided to attempt to cooperate with Matt and shoot videos (occasionally, at least) and so I had a great idea for a video on Christmas Eve. I’m sure that it was more about me than about getting the video, but, nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to go to the KoP and give out hugs to shoppers who were stressed out about the quickly fading hours they had to finish their shopping for the next day.

Well, we decided to be responsible and ask if we could film. The guy in the office there was terribly rude to us, saying “Well, if they didn’t call back, then they didn’t call,” which effectively ended the conversation.

So, I guess this means there’s no hugging in the KoP mall. I think you should go down there and show them that hugging can be all right and can brighten someone’s day. Hug each other, hug a stranger, hug a guard (and then probably bolt, but you get the idea). Let’s change this “no hugs allowed.” Let the love commence.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Friday, December 28, 2007


The Winged Lions, coached by Joe Masleh, captured five straight District 1 Class AA titles between 2002 and 2007.
Their records during that span were 17-11 in 2002-03, 21-7 in 2003-04, 21-7 in 2004-05, 18-11 in 2005-06 and 14-14 in 2006-07. The combined record during that span stands at 91-50 for a winning percentage of .645.
The Winged Lions captured the Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC-10) title in 2004-05.
During the first three years of the run, St. Pius X fell in the second round of the PIAA State Playoffs to eventual state champion Delone Catholic from the Lancaster area. In 2005-06, Pius X fell to Schuylkill Valley in the second round of the state playoffs. Last year the Winged Lions were beaten by Bodine of Philadelphia in the second round of the state tournament.
The leaders during the outstanding stretch were guards Rayne Reber, the daughter of current St. Pius X boys basketball coach Randy Reber; and Ryan Mooney, both of whom are playing collegiate basketball. Reber is a sophomore at Widener University in Chester and was chosen as Freshman of the Year in her conference last winter. Mooney is staring at the University of Scranton.
Rayne Reber and Ryan Mooney both started as freshmen and played four years of varsity basketball for the Winged Lions.
Reber’s final game came against Schuylkill Valley and she ended her career with 1,371 points for second place on the all-time list at St. Pius X, which is located in Lower Pottsgrove Township. Mooney finished her career with 1,317 markers for third place in the career rankings for the Winged Lions.
St. Pius X’s all-time leader is former star forward Carol Glutz, who totaled more than 1,600 points while playing for former coach Bernadette Travers, a Phoenixville resident, during the old years in the former Ches-Mont League before graduating in 1980. Glutz went on to play at Division I Rutgers University.
Masleh also had a strong supporting cast during the Winged Lions’ success. Kristin Bone is a sophomore at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown and Lauren Magill is a junior at Cabrini. Kim Brady is a senior volleyball player at Widener University. Brianna Slizofski is a junior player at Washington College in Maryland.
The lone senior in the group was Keri McEachern, whose leadership helped guide the younger Winged Lions when Rayne Reber and Ryan Mooney were freshmen. McEachern went on to Lock Haven University but left the basketball team.
Masleh began his long coaching career at St. Pius X many years ago as an assistant and junior varsity coach under Randy Reber. He switched to Lansdale Catholic for one season under former Crusaders head coach Maggie deMarteliere, one of the daughters of longtime Crusaders head football coach Jim Algeo who is now coaching girls basketball at North Penn high School. From there, Masleh coached at Pottstown before returning to St. Pius X.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Thursday, December 27, 2007

It’s time to reach out to immigrants

I hope you all had a great Christmas (if you celebrate it) and that you were able to give and receive to your heart’s content.

Phoenixville has been gearing up for this day for quite some time now, with many organizations chipping in to try to make the holidays happy for everyone.

I have had the pleasure of interviewing these folks, and more recently, taking pictures for them.

One donation has stood out in my mind though, mostly because it has kept me thinking the past few days.

The “1:30 Golf Gang,” who play at the Phoenixville Country Club, donated to the Phoenixville Library.

“If you donate food, you feed a person for a day. If you donate books, you feed a mind for life,” is the rationale I heard, and it stands quite strong.

This year, this donation will go to help Operation Open Door, which is the library’s new program to bring more Latinos (as well as African Americans) to the library.

While I was speaking with Dorian Wells, Director of Development and Volunteer Services at the library, he said that some of the Hispanic population may be afraid of coming to the library because they think the library works in conjunction with the government.

If they go to the library, they might be found out as illegal immigrants and get in a world of trouble.

The goal of the new program is to reach out to these people and inform them about the library so that they can use it to feed their minds.

Okay, so this long-winded explanation has gotten me to the point of my column today: what to do about immigration.

Well, I’m no expert on immigration and how to deal with illegal immigrants (though, with as many as are said to be in Reading, I guess I should start learning).

What I do know is that the library is handling this situation the right way.

Whether or not we have more immigrants coming in, at least some of those we have in America are going to stay here (legal or otherwise).

And while I have heard quite often “They’re stealing American jobs,” I also see on TV the show “Dirty Jobs.” I see those awful jobs that no one else wants and who’s working there?

That’s right — Hispanics are picking up dead chickens and spending all day crammed in mushroom farm houses (and I know those are smelly because just driving by them makes me gag). And this is just the little exposure I see on television.

At Weaver’s Orchard near my home, Hispanics are the ones who are out in the sun working on the farm all day, picking fruit or pruning trees.

I have no way of knowing whether these workers are illegal or not, but it is pretty obvious to me that they are working hard at their jobs and helping society function.

So, instead of shouting “Let’s send them back where they came from,” let’s find a way to make them a part of our society.

At the library, they can learn to read and write and hopefully bring themselves up out of the dirt.

I’ve taken enough history classes to know that most people who came over to America during my great-grandparents generation were very, very poor.

They worked hard at manual labor jobs and hoped that their children would be better off than they were.

This seems quite similar to what is going on currently.

Children of the current immigrants are learning English and if they have access to the library, they can learn to integrate themselves into society.

Their parents are taking these dirty jobs to give their children a chance to do better and I think it’s great that the library wants to be a part of this undertaking.

I understand that there are many factors that I haven’t touched on. I know that the Reading Hospital is losing a lot of money because many of the Hispanics in Reading do not have health insurance. Not to mention taxes (no, really, I’m not going into that).

I’m not saying that this is a perfect situation. I simply think that it is a situation that will not go away as easily as blocking off all of our borders and being isolated as a country.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we very much live in a global world and instead of wishing ourselves back to “simpler times” we should start playing with the hand we’ve been dealt.

Posted by

Laurie Perini

Editor's Note:

This article was republished from the paper earlier this week to give the reader an opportunity to post their thoughts and comments.

Reaction to Bhutto Assassination

Thursday morning I was listening to NPR on my way to work, when the host mentioned that former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

I was stunned. We all know that Pakistan has been leading international headlines recently due to its troubles with elections and the nation's current PM, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

I won't lie, I haven't followed Pakistani news/politics long enough to fully appreciate Bhutto's legacy, but from what I know, Bhutto, as both a female and pro-west political leader in a country best described as "third world," this is not only a terrible tragedy but an egregious blow to relations between the Middle East and the West. Let's not forget the 22 other people killed in the bomb blast. Frankly, it's disgusting stuff like this still happens in today's world. But it's a sad truth.

Bhutto, through news reports and interviews I've seen, seemed to be a voice of reason during the political turmoil of the elections fiasco and martial law of Pakistan several months ago.

What are your reactions to this news? Will this cause irreparable damage, is there any hope for Pakistan recovering, or--not to sound flippant--do you think this even matters for Americans?

No matter where you stand on this issue, I think we can agree that this is a terrible tragedy, yet another in a year of news, both national and international, that has been overwhelmingly negative.


Posted by
Brian McCarthy


Nypaver coached the Rams to consecutive titles in the first two years of the Pioneer Athletic Conference -8 during the 1986 and 1987 seasons. The previous year the Rams finished in second place behind Downingtown in the old Ches-Mont League. There were eight teams in the former PAC-10 before Owen J. Roberts and Great Valley joined the circuit to make it known as the PAC-10 in 1988.
Nypaver’s Rams defeated Phoenixville on Thanksgiving Day to win both titles before he resigned in 1987. Spring-Ford and Phoenixville began the tradition known as the Turkey Day Schuylkill Bowl, an annual football regular season finale that still continues today, 22 years later. Nypaver’s Rams defeated the Phantoms, coached by former Upper Merion High School offensive line coach Andy Toto, in the inaugural Schuylkill Bowl in Royersford back in 1986.
Nypaver came to the Spring-Ford area in 1984. He is originally from Uniontown, Pa., which is located below Pittsburgh. It is an area that is known as a hotbed for athletes, including former football stars George Blanda and Johnny Lujack.
Nypaver first coached at Connellsville High School, which was then known as Dunbar.
In his first season at Spring-Ford, Nypaver suffered a serious ulcer while on the sidelines during the early part of the season and Ray Kodish served as interim head coach. Kodish later became an assistant principal at Spring-Ford High School.
After leaving Spring-Ford, Nypaver joined the late Ben Crisi on the football staff at Great Valley High School in East Whiteland Township in 1988. He then was an assistant coach to Pat Nugent at Reading Central Catholic High school for one year during the 1991-92 term. Nugent now serves as principal of Spring-Ford High School and previously turned Spring-Ford wrestling into its own dynasty during the late 1980s and 1990s.
Nypaver also coached track and middle school boys basketball while at Spring-Ford before retiring from his teaching post in 1997. He coached track from 1985 until 1996 and maintained the middle school basketball job until his retirement.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Foot Traffic

I was looking at the new businesses that have moved into Phoenixville in the last two years; Artisans Café, Iron Hill Brewery, Molly Maguire’s, La Creperie, Black Lab, Brown Cow, and it’s fairly obvious that many of Phoenixville’s new establishments are food or alcohol related. The fear of having limited shopping variety is that eateries and such do not provide foot traffic in town needed to further Phoenixville’s revitalization. Speaking of foot traffic, I also noticed the other week that they have placed a sign on the corner of Main St. and Bridge informing people that there are businesses located on Main St.
So I raise the question to you, “Is this a problem? Should the leaders and the town itself try to focus on attracting other types of businesses to the area?” And if so, how could this be accomplished?
Additionally, how to do we attract more foot traffic and general awareness to the businesses that are located on Main St?

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Life Imitating Art?

I know movies can influence real-life behavior, but this is a tad ridiculous.
In "The Shawshank Redemption," the protagonist (Tim Robbins) escapes from prison by hiding a hole he dug in his cell wall by covering it with a Rita Hayworth poster.

Apparently, two prisoners in New Jersey saw the film, as they used the same method to escape from their cells by removing cement blocks from the walls and covering the holes with magazine photos of scantily clad women in bikinis. Their escape pretty much strays from the movie's storyline there, as the squeezed through the openings to jump to the rooftop below and clambered over a 25-foot-tall fence in what was supposedly the prison's most secure sector. Robbins, meanwhile, escaped through the hole he dug and then crawled through sewage for several miles to freedom. Yeah, I wouldn't have gone for that either.

You'd think by this point that prisons would simply ban posters/photos all together. Or maybe I'm just being my usual movie-nerd self and the two prisoners came up with the idea all on their own. In any case, I think this story is not only amusing, but a pretty sad depiction of the state of our prison system.

Later on,

Posted by
Brian McCarthy

Taste Testing Jones Soda's Holiday Flavors

Monday, December 24, 2007

A brief history of the canal

Shopping Troubles

It's that time again. You know the one, the one where most Americans are running around getting their last-minute gifts and figuring out what they will be doing on Tuesday.

For me, this isn't any exception. With the number of hours I work between my two jobs, I have scarcely found the time to finish my Christmas shopping. Don't tell my mother and sister this, but I have yet to find something for them. At least, working my second job at a large, local department store affords me a small shopping discount.

This weekend will be an interesting one because I have to work all weekend long, go out with a friend and her brothers tomorrow night. And most of all, on Christmas Eve I have to get myself ready for my 9 a.m. flight on Christmas Day to Chicago. Keep in mind,this will be with a minimal amount of preparation.

Posted by
John Rossomando

But it will be nice seeing my sister and my future brother-in-law, not to mention it will be the first Christmas that I will have spent in Chicago since I was 10 years old. I was born there, having only moved to this area when I was 11. (That was at Christmastime too. Here's a word of advice NEVER, NEVER move at Christmas because it can be a real headache, especially for your kids if you have them.)

Mack at the Movies: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language.
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Starring John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer

Recently, anything with Judd Apatow's name attached to it has been comedy gold. Whether he directs it ("40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up") or produces it ("Superbad"), Apatow's films are almost guaranteed to offer plenty of laughs.
"Walk Hard," produced and co-written by Apatow, is no different, though it ranks below all of the films I mentioned above.
deliberately obvious parody of musical biopics, especially "Walk the Line" and "Ray," "Walk Hard" Chronicles the rise and fall, and rise again, and fall again, etc. of fictitious rock musician Dewey Cox. Modeled after Johnny Cash, Cox starts out as a naive country boy who, following a tragic yet simultaneously hysterical incident, sets off on his own to become a famous musician. Cox's journey mirrors the phases of Cash and other artists from that period, including early rock from the 50s, drug-use fueled stardom during the 60s, and his attempt to reconcile his fame with his personal life.

John C. Reilly is awesome as Cox, both in terms of comedy and his singing. All of the original songs from the film are performed by Reilly himself, and while many are raucously funny, others are simply legitimate good music. However, Cox doesn't ever feel like a character you can relate to, but rather just a string of phases. This is no fault of Reilly's, but the script, written by Apatow and Kasdan.

The duo clearly had a set objective in mind when they conceived of Cox and his life, but many times they take the easy jokes when they could've been more creative. This doesn't mean the jokes aren't funny; seeing Reilly portray Cox as a fourteen-year-old is hilarious. But some of the humor simply seems too obvious and too awkward to even elicit a chuckle. The plot, too, drags on for quite some time in the middle of the film, and takes away from the frantically funny pace of the first hour or so.

Still, the soundtrack and Reilly's songs alone are worth the price of admission. Jenna Fischer is more than just a pretty face as Cox's duet-partner and love interest, Darlene Madison. In some of the raunchier scenes it's hard to take her seriously (well, the whole movie isn't meant to take seriously, I guess). In these moments I was tempted to shout "Hey Pam! Does Jim know about this?"; for the majority of the movie, though, she is a pleasure to watch.

The celebrity cameos are simply brilliant. I won't go into detail; let's just say that the four actors who portray the Beatles during their Magical Mystery Tour phase are great. Also, see if you can recognize who plays Elvis.
As a final disclaimer, the R rating is well deserved. There is a ton of drug use, sure, but also, dare I say, a vulgar amount of nudity and even gore in two or three particular scenes. This is definitely not one for the kids.
Predictable? Oh yeah. Boring in parts? Unfortunately so. But funny? You better believe it. This may not be a platinum or even a gold hit, but "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" won't only have you laughing, but maybe even singing along.
Score: 6.5/10

Posted by
Brian McCarthy

Friday, December 21, 2007


The Phantoms have won four consecutive Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC-10) championships under coaches Jack Kraynak and Talen Singer.
Kraynak is a 30-year veteran of the coaching wars in cross country, winter track and spring track for the Phantoms after running at Phoenixville and Millersville University. Kraynak also served as an assistant coach to Singer, a former Phantom pole vaulter, before he elected to take an assistant coaching job at Division I Villanova University, focusing on the pole vault.
Kraynak is a social studies teacher at Phoenixville Area High School. His son, John, played football as a running back and defensive back and also ran track for the Phantoms.
Kraynak also guided the Phantoms during their years in the old Ches-Mont League, whenboys’ track was dominated by Coatesville. Throughout his career, Kraynak has boasted a number of individual standouts such as 800-meter state champion Andy Tiefenthaler, a transfer from Houston, Texas, who claimed his crown in 1986; and Harry Favinger, who captured the Class AA 110-meter high hurdles state title in 1981.
Favinger, who later joined the United States Air Force, also managed to keep a part-time sports writing job at The Phoenix daily newspaper during his senior year of high school. The newspaper was known as The Evening Phoenix back then and was formerly known as The Daily Republican when it was established back on Oct. 3, 1888.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Good Way to Kill Time

Apparently I was able to convince the good people at The Phoenix that I know a lot about the internet (I am not exactly sure how, since my degree is in political science, but that’s besides the point). So since I am such an expert on the subject I would like give our fine readers some periodic suggestions on interesting websites in this “information super highway”)*.
One of my absolute favorite websites is Now some of you maybe familiar with Liam’s work, whether it’s his work on the MTV show Sifl & Ollie, his song “The United States of Whatever” or his work with people like Sarah Silverman or Tenacious D, but in his spare time Liam also does a podcast, that you can see at his website
I truly believe that if television were completely wiped out of existence tomorrow, I would be happy entertaining my simple mind with web base material. Liam’s podcast is more entertaining then virtually every show on television; even the Adult Swim lineup has been lackluster as of late (stupid japanamiation). Liam’s podcast is kind of like an online variety show, feature his living action sketches, 3D animation, and Sifl & Ollie make an appearance from time to time. In addition, Liam is also a classically trained musician, and will make music video for songs he records at his in home studio.
Liam is what you could call a master at video production, doing a large major of the live action sketches in front of a green screen in his home. Admirably Liam does this podcast for free, giving him total creative freedom.
For most people the is a good way to pass some time, but for those who spend a majority of our time in the dark, with only the eerie light of a monitor screen to keep warm while we video edit, they might find the site… inspiring? (that’s not the right word but nothing the thersus is giving me works.)

*quote taken from 1997

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Scrape it off!

From The Associated Press Thursday:
"BETHLEHEM — An ambulance driver says ice blew off a tractor trailer, smashed her windshield, struck her on the head and showered the inside of the ambulance with ice and broken glass...
The truck driver, Earl Seese II, was stopped after motorists followed him and called police. State police say he won't be charged because no one was killed or seriously injured."

I know the PA courts are overloaded, but I think this guy ought to have been charged anyway. Flying ice does kill people most winters. It is Pennsylvania law that drivers have to clean snow and ice from their vehicles, to prevent exactly this kind of accident. The fact that no one here was hurt was sheer luck.

If the state only charges the drivers who actually seriously injure people, very few people will change their habits. But if the state charges everyone who causes such accidents, more people will then be reminded to act responsibly.

Posted by
Patricia Matson

Spiderman for Charity

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Phoenixville Area High School dominated Ches-Mont League wrestling by winning five consecutive championships from 1976-80. The Phantoms and Spring-Ford Rams tied for the league title in 1980. Phoenixville was coached during those years by Lonny Moore.
That Spring-Ford team was coached by Bill Racich, currently the coach of the Ursinus College Bears. After retiring from coaching at Phoenixville, Moore served as an assistant to Racich at Ursinus.
Moore, who lived in Upper Providence Township during his teaching years with his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Mandee, later moved to Bethany Beach, Delaware, and is currently living in Gainesville, Florida. Mandee (Moore) O’Leary starred at Spring-Ford High School in field hockey, lacrose and basketball. She later became an All-American women’s lacrosse and field hockey coach at Division I Temple University in Philadelphia.O’Leary became a head women’s lacrosse coach at Yale University and has now joined the Florida Gators staff in Gainesville.
Lonny Moore also served for many years as chairman of the District 1 Steering Committee in wrestling before retiring last year. The Phantoms also captured the District 1 Southeastern Pennsylvania championship during the winter of 1982-83.
Among Lonny Moore’s standout wrestlers at Phoenixville were state champion Jeff Below, Steve McGovern, Mark Cagle, Kurt Anderson, current Great Valley High School field hockey/wrestling/girls lacrosse coach Joe Tornetta, current Phoenixville field hockey/wrestling/track coach John Tornetta, Joe’s younger brother; Joe Holland, Tom Bearden, Joe Parry, Steve Vodantis, Nick Vodantis, Dean Trevelino, Dave Trevelino, Dan Trevelino and John Giannopoulos.
Racich remains a health and physical education teacher at the Spring-Ford Area Middle School. Moore started his teaching and coaching career at Spring-Ford High School before switching to Phoenixville in the mid-1960s. He coached Phoenixville wrestling for 16 years and also acted as an assistant football coach and track and field coach with the Phantoms during his tenure with the Purple and White.
In football, Lonny Moore served as defensive coordinator and produced numerous outstanding linebackers, including former National Football League (NFL) professional players Neal Olkewicz and Rick Kraynak.
Olkewicz was a starting middle linebacker for the Washington Redskins, who won two Super Bowls in the 1980s under coach Joe Gibbs. The Redskins also appeared in a third Super Bowl during their reign. Olkewicz starred in college at the University of Maryland where he was a leading tackler. Olkewicz starred at Phoenixville under the late head coach, Paul Tomko, and enjoyed an 11-year career in the NFL. Olkewicz graduated from Phoenixville in 1975 and from Maryland in 1979.
Kraynak played the linebacker position for the Philadelphia Eagles under former coach Marion Campbell. He also played for the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts. Kraynak starred at Phoenixville before graduating in 1979. He played fullback and was named a first-team All-State linebacker for head coach Marty Moore’s Phantoms, who finished undefeated while capturing the Ches-Mont League championship during the fall of 1978. Kraynak later played for head coach Jackie Sherrill and the Pitt Panthers and was a leading tackler for the Pitt team that was ranked No. 1 in the country during much of the 1982 season. Kraynak played on a star-studded Pitt team that included Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, who starred for the Miami Dolphins and is currently a television broadcaster. Kraynak is the son of Rich and Marilyn Kraynak of Phoenixville.
Both Olkewicz and Kraynak wore the jersey number 52 during their professional careers.
Lonny Moore coached other Division I college linebackers like Tony Romano of Syracuse University and the late Dan Reighn and the late John Neher of Temple University. Romano was also a first team All-State selection. Moore also coached standout defensive back Dave Rocco, the younger of two sons of former boys basketball coach George Rocco. Dave Rocco played at Divsiion I-AA Georgia Southern University after starring for the Phantoms under head coach Bill Shirk.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

The Montco Shuffle

I had to laugh when I read about Bruce Castor blaming the latest Montgomery County power shuffle on his fellow commissioner-elect, Joe Hoeffel. Incumbent Jim Matthews, a Republican, has allied with Hoeffel, a Democrat, leaving Republican Castor out in the cold. So Matthews will be the chairman and Hoeffel will be the vice chair -- the first time a Democrat has held that post in GOP-run county government in more than a century.
Castor, who got the most votes in the recent election and wanted the chairmanship himself, did not blame his fellow Republican for this latest black eye on their party. Instead, he said, “This is just shenanigans by Joe, designed to make us look bad...”
To the contrary, Hoeffel is perfectly right to do the best he can for himself and the Democrats, negotiating to get as big a voice as possible for himself and his party.
Whether there’s any blame for Matthews is more debatable. The situation is definitely bad for his party, and his motivation may be personal, but he says it’s important that the official with the most experience in governing holds the chairmanship, and there’s some justification for that...
It’s certainly entertaining those of us on the sidelines, but even if it doesn’t last, this shake-up has some broader, positive ramifications. Moving Montco more toward two-party power will probably also help decrease arrogance and increase accountability.

Posted by
Patricia Matson

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tennis Dynasty

I am going to start reflecting on the many dynasties area high school sports teams have established during Ches-Mont League and then Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC-10) history. The PAC-10 was established during the 1986-87 scholastic year and is progressing through its 22nd season of existence.

The first dynasty that comes to mind is that of the Phoenixville Area High School boys tennis team, coached by Leo Scoda.
Scoda has coached the Phantoms’ boys tennis team since the squad’s inception in 1964. Scoda has remained the boys’ net coach since that time for 44 years and will be entering his 45th year in 2008. He is also the current mayor of the borough of Phoenixville.
Scoda is a retired biology teacher at Phoenixville Area High School and formerly served as a borough councilman. He is originally from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area and is a graduate of Penn State University.
He is a longtime fan of Penn State football and is a former season ticket holder for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League (NHL) team.
Scoda’s Phantoms have never lost a PAC-10 match. Their amazing winning streak currently stands at 186-0.
On top of that, last year’s Phoenixville senior doubles tandem of Kyle MacLelland and Tom McAvoy captured the PIAA Class AA state championship at the Hershey Racquet Club. McAvoy’s father, Tim McAvoy, and Rob Vance captured the Phantoms’ only other previous state championship in tennis doubles as sophomores in the 1970s.
MacLelland, who is the son of Phoenixville graduates Bruce and Buffy MacLelland, is attending Lafayette College in Easton for tennis while McAvoy, the son of Tim and Nancy McAvoy, is a student-athlete at Philadelphia University.
Kyle MacLelland was also a starting forward for coach Bill Detweiler’s undefeated PAC-10 champion boys basketball team during 2006-07. Those Phantoms finished 13-0 during the regular season and then won two Final Four playoff games to close at 15-0 with victories over Owen J. Roberts and then Boyertown in the title game.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

The Firebird Festival Part 1

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

All Star Baseball Academy

All Star Baseball Academy has re-opened its doors to a new training facility in Downingtown.
Former major leaguer Creighton Gubanich, a 1990 graduate of Phoenixville Area High School, will serve as director of the operation.
Gubanich, a catcher who was drafted out of high school by the Oakland Athletics, played professional baseball for 13 years, including a short stint with the American League's Boston Red Sox.
Gubanich turned down a scholarship to attend Texas A&M Univeraity for college and chose to enter the professional ranks instead. Gubanich is currently an assistant coach at Downingtown East High School in Lionville.

Gubanich, the son of Larry and Sharon Gubanich, played baseball at Phoenixville under coach John "Doc" Kennedy, who guided the Phantoms in high school and American Legion baseball before retiring to enter the Division I collegiate ranks as an assistant coach at Villanova University.

Creighton also starred in football for the Phantoms under head coach Bill Shirk. His defensive coach was longtime mentor Lonny Moore.

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Nick Leyva has joined Gubanich's staff in Downingtown.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

The Best and The Worst

Oh shucks folks, I didn’t mean to be such a curmudgeon, with my “negative,” “trying to be witty” blog posts. So, to show I have a nice side in this post I would like to tell you about the worst and best teachers I had in school.
The worst teacher I had was my fifth grade Reading teacher. In this class, the students had to read a certain amount of pages in a semester, but had freedom to choose what book they would like to read. I picked an enormously thick book, titled “Ye Men of Iron,” for my reading. My teacher informed me that I could not read that book because it was outside of my reading ability. So, rather than encourage me to do my best, this teacher reinforced a defeatist attitude that plagues many students. Even if I failed in the end, at least I would have learned to attempt the impossible. I remember how crushed I was and discouraged by being told I couldn’t do it.
Fortunately, the next year, my Reading teacher was the best teacher I ever had. She was supportive without mollycoddling her students. It was the same situation as the previous year, we had to read a certain amount of pages to read but could whatever tickled our fancy. So wanting a challenge, I picked the “Count of Monte Cristo.” My teacher warned me the difficulty of the book, but encouraged me to meet the challenge.
It took me the entire semester, and constantly discussing the book with my teacher as I read it, but in the end I finished reading all sixteen hundred some odd pages, and understood it. So I would like to say thank you Mrs. Frankel, you were by far the best.

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Monday, December 17, 2007

Driving in Winter Weather

This is my first year driving during the winter (I mentioned this in my column), so I'm still figuring things out.

I didn't use my car all weekend and we had the ice storm. Needless to say, my car got coated with ice about a quarter inch thick.

This morning, I had to get into my car through the back passenger door (the passenger side was slightly melted because the sun was shining on it). Then I had to blast the defrost and wait about ten minutes before I could start scraping the front windshield.

So, I learned that I should try to clear my car off regularly - at least if I want to get in it and drive to work, instead of walk. The driver's side is still covered with ice.

I bet you're all a lot more experienced than me, so what other things should I keep in mind as winter weather continues? What are some of the tricks of the trade too?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Top PAC 10 Coaches

Top Area Ches-Mont League and Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC-10) Coaches

Henry “Hank” Bernat, Owen J. Roberts football
Leo Scoda, Phoenixville boys tennis
Lonny Moore, Phoenixville wrestling
Marty Moore, Phoenixville football, Spring-Ford football
John “Doc” Kennedy, Phoenixville baseball
Pat Nugent, Spring-Ford wrestling
Bill Shirk, Phoenixville football (Spring-Ford administrator)
Jack Kraynak, Phoenixville track and cross country
Ken DeAngelo, Spring-Ford track and cross country
Paul Gring, Great Valley cross country
Randy Reber, St. Pius X boys basketball
Jim Mich Sr., St. Pius X football
Joe Tornetta, Great Valley wrestling, field hockey, girls lacrosse
Judy Jarrett, Phoenixville girls basketball
Joann Judge, Spring-Ford girls lacrosse, field hockey
George Rocco, Phoenixville boys basketball
Mike Kelly, Great Valley track
Meg Zarfos, Great Valley girls tennis
Jack Sturgeon, Phoenixville baseball
Paul Hadzor, Great Valley track, golf
Joe Margusity, Owen J. Roberts girls soccer (won Class AAA state championship)
Bernadette Travers, St. Pius X girls basektball
Charlie Kramer, Perkiomen Valley wrestling (Phoenixville administrator)
Hal Honig, Great Valley softball, football
Howie Sage, Owen J. Roberts wrestling
Kevin Bott, Owen J. Roberts swimming
Ted Nypaver, Spring-Ford football, track
Bob Kulp, Great Valley boys soccer (won state title in Class AAA and Class AA)
Mary Lozier, Phoenixville girls lacrosse (won District 1/state title in Class AAA)
Jen Foresta, Phoenixville girls lacrosse, field hockey
John Tornetta, Phoenixville field hockey, wrestling
Dave Jarvie, Owen J. Roberts tennis
Dave Caldwell, Spring-Ford boys basketball
Dave Michael, Owen J. Roberts cross country
Kent Hallman, Spring-Ford baseball
Matt Royer, Spring-Ford baseball
Ron Steckel, Great Valley girls soccer
Dave Rhen, Owen J. Roberts boys soccer
Tom Barr, Owen J. Roberts football, track
Rick Eckel, Great Valley golf
Jeff Mast, Spring-Ford golf
Rosemarie (Gentile) Trumbo, Great Valley field hockey (won Class AAA state title)
Tom McGee, St. Pius X boys basketball (won Class A state title)
Ed Dobry, St. Pius X track
Steve Ruby, Phoenixville track, boys basketball
Carl Stoltz, Great Valley track
Gary Agostini, Great Valley golf, track

Floyd “Shorty” Hitchcock, Spring-Ford wrestling
Ben Crisi, Great Valley football

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Friday, December 14, 2007

Den Around Town: End of an Era

Barry Sankey's Reaction to The Mitchell Report

Following the release of Sen. George Mitchell's report of widespread steroid use in Major League Baseball, I do not feel that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should enter the Hall of Fame despite their monumental achievements on the playing field.

Their use of performance-enhancing drugs allowed them to overachieve illegally.

This goes against what I felt about Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball in the 1980s for gambling. I said he should enter the Hall of Fame for his record number of hits.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Jason's Reaction to The Mitchell Report

OK, so the Major League Baseball sanctioned Mitchell Steroid Report was released Thursday afternoon and some high-profile names were on the list.

Take a moment and think about that for a second.

Alright, now take a moment and think what good will now come from this report albeit 3-4 years too late.

Barry Bonds has already broken Hank Aaron's home run record. Roger Clemens (I don't believe one bit, although that whole throwing the bat thing during the World Series at Mike Piazza could be misconstrued as a form of "roid rage") is FINALLY retired. And, of the 89 names listed in the report, several are players that are no longer in the game.

Moreover, 85% of those names are of players who weren't that good to begin with. How many of you had Bobby Estalella on your fantasy team as a starting catcher, or maybe Larry Bigbie, Jack Cust, Tim Laker, Josias Manzanillo, F.P. Santangelo, Chris Donnels, Phil Hiatt, etc., etc., etc.

Point is this report was an attempt by Bud Selig to save his hide. This whole “steroid era” happened on his watch. Once thought of records were broken.

Back when McGwire and Sosa were breaking the late-great Yankees slugger Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, did anybody care that those two were “juicing?”

Simple answer … No!

The fact is that the owners, general managers and baseball executives in New York didn’t care that their players were cheating. All they cared about was the fans were flocking to the ballparks and lining their pockets with money. They needed a jolt for attendance after the collective group of jackasses canceled a season because of greed.

That same greed led them to turn a blind eye on the cheaters, and in return they were rewarded with the almighty dollar. If those players wanted to really take the HGH, anabolic steroids, or whatever other substance to help them gain an edge, why should they have cared. Major League Baseball, like every other professional sport, is entertainment and run like a business. They treat their players like temporary entities. Once they get old or cannot produce any longer, they just kick them to the curb (i.e. cut them, trade them, buy them out).

This Mitchell Report is based solely on hearsay. I have a copy of the report, and plan to read all 400-plus pages of it. From a quick glance, they have some physical evidences, but for the really big players named in the report there are not any physical evidences to substantiate the implications.

I look forward to hearing what you think … email me at

Posted by
Jason Feather

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What's New At

Den Around Town: The Strong Man

Unconventional Holiday Spirit

I was driving home on Tuesday evening when I was witness to something pretty cool that I want to share with all of you.

Traffic moves relatively fast on 422, but all of the sudden, we had to come to a complete stop. Right in front of me, a Boscov's truck was stuck in the middle of the road. The truck was taking up all of the right lane and half of the left lane, so there was no way to get around it. Traffic quickly piled up.

The truck was coming down a very steep driveway and got stuck at the bottom. It had come off the driveway and the rear tire got stuck in the mud. The drivers were frantically trying to get the truck out, but they were digging themselves deeper into the mud. They tried putting a box under the tire and a blanket.

I thought "Oh no, we're never getting out of here. They are going to have to call a tow truck, which will take time to get here and then to get it out." And I was right in the front, so it's not like I could turn around and go anywhere. I turned off my car to wait.

And then something cool happened: a few cars drove up the shoulder and the drivers ran out of their vehicles. They started helping the truckers by pushing and jumping on the truck. It seemed futile at first, but then, it worked and the truck pulled free.

At that moment, for some odd reason, I thought about Christmas and what it meant. I drove away, not upset, but grateful for the help those men gave to all of us.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We have a budget

As expected, at its regular business meeting last night borough council approved for public comment, and for final adoption December 20, the 2008 budget approved by finance committee last Thursday.

It posts a 14.87% overall property tax rate increase; a 3.5 percent rise in water and sewer rates; and a trash fee of $69 per month, payable quarterly.

Those rates have yielded a base budget for “2007 services at 2008 prices,” as borough manager Anthony DiGirolomo put it, plus these items, added by council: a new drug enforcement officer and an additional patrolman in the police department, and increased hours in a rental inspector’s position in the code enforcement department, which moves from three-quarter time to full time.

The hotly-debated position of borough purchasing agent remains. So does the borough’s third and last payment under the terms of its 2006 professional services contract with the Main Street-Community Development Corporation.

But about the latter, there was a hitch….

HEAD = Threat to CDC contract turned back

Late, indeed. At the very end of the meeting, finance committee chair and former CDC liaison Rich Kirkner made a lengthy motion to give the CDC 90 days to renegotiate the contract or face its termination.

Kirkner said that the CDC’s contractual role in Streetscapes is now at an end, that the contract’s other terms are “vague.” He viewed with some alarm the borough manager’s report that the CDC director had met with him only once during 2007. “This would force communications,” Kirkner said.

“While I understand what concerns you,” said Henry Wagner (D-Middle), Council should not “take this up at 10:00, in the eleventh hour with so many outgoing [council] members, without the CDC having input. We can direct the CDC. We’re their employers, and they’ve said the understand that. [The motion] is unhealthy for our relationship [to the CDC].”

After extended, sometimes heated debate, the motion was defeated 2-6, with Kirkner and Tish Jones (D-East) the motion’s lone supporters.

Posted by
Skip Lawrence

PHS Boy's Tennis Dynasty

The Phoenixville Area High School boys' tennis dynasty goes back 44 years to the arrival of head coach Leo Scoda, who still remains leader of the Phantoms as of now. Scoda, who is now mayor of the borough of Phoenixville, guided Phoenixville to titles in the old Ches-Mont League despite strong opposition from much larger enrollment schools like Downingtown and West Chester.

Since the inception of the Pioneer Athletic Conference (PAC-10) in 1986-87, the Phantoms have a perfect 186-0 record in league matches after 21 seasons on the courts.

Scoda is originally from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. He graduated from Penn State University and taught biology at Phoenixville Area High School until his retirement several years ago.

He also coached the girls tennis team at Phoenixville for a number of years and never had a losing record with them either.

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

SCA Luminaria


Photos by
Barry Taglieber

Den Around Town: Stupid Sign

Bad Post

You know, I so wish that I didn’t have to write this post. I was hoping that the people of Phoenixville wouldn’t have to be told that swearing in the responses to the blog posts is inappropriate, but here we go -


Comments with inappropriate language or content will be deleted.
Just on a side note, we here at the Phoenix realize that these comments are a result of a small part of the population, which has mysteriously escaped the icy cold grip of natural selection (man I’m witty). We appreciate all the feedback, both positive and negative, that’s why we have a comment section, and hope that in the long run it will help us serve the community better. That being said, the negative comments must met the standards of a “family friendly” newspaper and website, both in language and in content.
Well that’s all for now, check back soon.

P.S. I never said in a previous post they did not have any talent, it was a critique of how they use that talent.

Posted by
Matt Byrd

For the record: reader objects, reporter responds

It's just not always possible to anticipate what will draw a reader's objections to something that made print.

A borough official wrote to me to register his serious objections to a sidebar article on council president John Messina ["Messina wants to join planners," The Phoenix, December 6]. He said that it was "classless and...unprofessional," and that I had become "a very accomplished one-sided reporter."

His first objection was centered on a quote from Messina, who had said that when he had served on the commission previously, "We wound up making it one of the most respected commissions, perhaps the best, in Chester County. We worked to make the plans of applicants [who come before the commission] better. We can do that again.” My correspondent was irate that Messina's characterization of the planning commission's work was allowed to go unchallenged in the article.

His second objection was that Messina's intention to return to the commission, announced with a hint that he might try to persuade outgoing councilman Tim Daly to do likewise, did not immediately send me to the phone to get comments from the two incumbent commission members whose terms expire in 2008.

These are not unreasonable points. The article that would have resulted had I done what he thought I should, however, would not have been the one I thought fit to print December 6.

The purpose of the article was to follow up on what was by any measure a major political event: the stunning electoral upset of a sitting council president and long-prominent political figure. The headline over a pre-election summary of the race Messina lost read "David vs. Goliath in North Ward?" It was a headline my then-friendly correspondent liked. Well, Goliath he was and Goliath was out -- but what does Goliath do now?

I thought that my correspondent would have let Goliath groan, and let me report the groans. The public got to know of a recount considered (a live question around town: will he?) but dismissed, and of Messina's plans now that, for the first time in seven years, he doesn't have an appointment with that public every first-Tuesday-after-the-second-Monday. End of story.

When the incoming council anticipates commission appointments, and outgoing council president Messina's name is indeed under consideration, then I've got a story to write that will look like the one my correnspondent wants to see.

He had a third objection, though, and it was this: that, in the absence of a phone call from me to them, two planning commission members "woke in the morning to find that John intends kicking them off the PC." Whether or not that's an accurate description of what's going on here, it is nonetheless true that two incumbent public officials learned of an outgoing public official's intentions along with everybody else in town, over morning coffee.

Yup. That's right. They did.

Posted by
G.E. "Skip" Lawrence

The Movie Review: The Golden Compass

New Line Cinema’s “The Golden Compass” found its way to the top spot at the box office this weekend.

Based upon Northern Lights, the first novel in Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials, the film earned $26.1 million over the last three days.

In one of many parallel universes, 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) is an orphan-ward of Jordan College in Oxford. She, along with others, have their soul reside outside of their bodies in the form of a daemon, usually in the form of an animal.

She and her daemon Pan (voice of Freddie Highmore) save her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) from being poisoned by a representative of the Magisterium. The attempted murder was to keep Asriel from presenting evidence that elementary particles called Dust were flowing from another parallel universe into the far North.

However, the Magisterium insists that Dust doesn’t exist, but are working on how to inoculate the children against its effects.

So while Asriel is heading North to investigate, Lyra’s friends Roger (Ben Walker) and Billy (Charlie Rowe) are taken by Gobblers to the North. Lyra always promised Roger that she’d be there for him, and to look for him if anything ever happened to him.

When Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) visits the college and offers Lyra a trip to the North, Lyra jumps at the opportunity. Before she leaves, the Master of the college gives her a Golden Compass, a device able to reveal the answer to any question asked it.

Lyra soon discovers that Coulter is the head of the General Oblation Board (Gobblers), she flees and is rescued by the Gyptians, a group of nomadic boat people. One of the Gyptians happens to be Billy’s mother.

While flying over the boat, Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green), the queen of the witches, befriends Lyra and helps her understand how to use the Golden Compass.

Lyra meets Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott), an aeronaut who advises her to hire him and Iorek Byrnison (voice of Sir Ian McKellen), an armored polar bear.

During her visit with Iorek, she discovers he is an exiled prince of the bears. He pledges to serve her after she helps him find his armor.

Lyra uses the Golden Compass to find Billy, without his daemon, and returns him to the Gyptians. She also uses some treachery to assist Iorek.

Iorek goes with Lyra to Bolvangar, where she discovers the building where the abducted children are held.

Lyra is met by the staff of the building, and is confronted by Coulter, who reveals a major secret concerning her and Lyra’s uncle.

“The Golden Compass” has been compared to being half-Harry Potter and half-Lord of the Rings. That left me feeling trepidatious going in to see this film. While I’ve become more comfortable watching the Harry Potter films, I wasn’t a big fan of the Lord of the Rings movies.

There are more Harry Potter-like qualities to this film, with the magic and youthful exuburience. The special effects are spectacular, with all of the talking animals and panoramic views.

The acting goes from great to fair, with young Richards stealing every scene she’s in. Displaying a lot of spunk, she doesn’t back down from anyone.

It’s always cool to see Sam Elliott in any role, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Kidman is effective as she goes from interesting female to treacherous predator. Craig is here in brief appearances, and doesn’t do much, in my opinion.

While there has been some controversy attached to this film regarding religious connotations, I didn’t find this film offensive whatsoever. What I found was an interesting, enjoyable film that could’ve used five more minutes to dumb it down for those who haven’t read the books.

I don’t recommend this film for those under 13 because of two fight scenes, and although they aren’t overly graphic, the bear fight scene may be a bit too much for youngsters.

So in this parallel universe, I found “The Golden Compass” worth following at three and a half out of four stars.

“The Golden Compass” is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence. Running time is 1 hour, 53 minutes.

Last week’s No. 1, Buena Vista’s “Enchanted” fell from grace to No. 2 with $10.7 million — it’s three-week total closing in on $84 million.

Warner Bros. “Beowulf” remains in the top five, falling from No. 2 to No. 5, with $4.4 million. The English epic poem turned animated film has brought in $76 million over the past month.

The Weinstein Company’s “Awake” is barely conscious in the top ten, as it’s dozed from No. 5 to No. 9 with $3.3 million. The Jessica Alba thriller has earned close to $11 million in 10 days.

For more information and show times, contact Regal Cinemas Marketplace 24, 180 Mill Road, Oaks, at 610-666-6697.

Dennis J. Wright can be reached at

Monday, December 10, 2007

Video Diary: Making of Maguires 20 Ep.3

Topic: Community Gardening vs. Public Housing

Topic: Community Gardening vs. Public Housing

This past Friday, I reported on St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden and Labyrinth (412 Fairview Street, behind Bethel Baptist Church), whose members plan to request an extension on their lease from the Housing Authority of Chester County.

The lease expires on September 1, 2009, and the HACC is working on plans for affordable public housing in the Fairview Area. These plans could possibly involve building some of the housing on the garden's .84 acre site, which is owned by the HACC.

According to Vince Donahue, the HACC's solicitor, there is a dire need for affordable public housing in Chester County. Conversely, St. John's garden supplies fresh produce to local non-profits such as PACS and Cornerstone Clubhouse.

This Sunday I asked several locals what their thoughts were on the issue, and the response was almost overwhelmingly in support of the garden. One person commented that the HACC and the garden should work together, to share the space between the housing and the garden.

This seems in theory to be a no-brainer, and I definitely support that standpoint as well.

However, if it comes down to a choice and the two sides are unable to work out their differences, what do you support? Community gardening to help those in need? Or public housing for those who would otherwise be unable to afford a new home?

Also, Rev. Linda Gruber, Pastor of St. John's UCC, and Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator of the garden, encourage members of the community to show their support for the garden on December 18 at 4:30 p.m. at King Terrace at 300 High Street at the HACC's Board of Directors meeting. Gruber will present a proposal to the board to either extend the lease for the long-term, or donate the garden to the Borough or County for use as a public park. Members of the public can then each voice their opinion on the issue for one minute during public participation.

Interested to see your opinions on this issue, there were a lot of good ones on last week's story on the proposed passenger rail.

Later on,

Posted by
Brian Mccarthy

The Red Campaign

I'm a big fan of the (Product) RED campaign ( and I think that a cool way to give a little back this holiday season would be sending out the Hallmark (Product) RED holiday cards:|10001|10051|/HallmarkSite/HallmarkRED/RED_CARDS_HBC

They come in packs of 18 cards and they are very beautiful. They are also printed on recycled paper.

8% of Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED net wholesale sales will go to the Global Fund, according to the Hallmark website.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was established in 2002 with the support of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the world's leaders, to dramatically increase resources to fight three of the world's most devastating diseases. Since its creation, the Global Fund has become the dominant financer of programs to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, with $8.4 billion invested in 136 countries, according to the (PRODUCT) RED website.

It's a great way to get something that you value, while being able to help out others. Think about it. Get inspi(red).

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Friday, December 7, 2007

Another Stress Reliever

I suggested some ways to relieve stress and take a time out from the craziness of the holidays so you can better appreciate what they're really all about in a recent column.

I got a response from a local Phoenixville resident and I wanted to pass that on to you.

He said that hypnotism can also be used to relieve stress. He is a certified hypnotist with the National Guild of Hypnotists and he has a local practice here in Phoenixville.

If you think this form of stress relief (and it can also help with other things like changing unwanted habits, building confidence or getting over fears, for example) is right for you, please contact Tony at

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Barry's List: Underclassman athletes to watch in coming years

Kelly Foedinger, Phoenixville, sophomore, girls tennis/softball
Molly Ferguson, Phoenixville, sophomore, softball
Rachel Yacovett, Phoenixville, sophomore, field hockey
Anthony Nattle, Phoenixville, junior, football
Abdul Kelly, Phoenixville, junior, football
John Bilo, Phoenixville, junior, golf
Kat Babinchak, Phoenixville, freshman, cross country
Jimmy Wolfe, Owen J. Roberts, freshman, golf
Chris Fuga, St. Pius X, sophomore, golf
Paul Luchon, Spring-Ford, sophomore, golf
Trevor Sasek, Spring-Ford, junior, football
David Tyler, Spring-Ford, sophomore, football
Myles Tornetta, Great Valley, junior, football/wrestling
Casey Haines, Great Valley, sophomore, football/wrestling
John Nurthen, Great Valley, junior, football
Richard Zazo, Owen J. Roberts, sophomore, football
Ryan Brumfield, Owen J. Roberts, freshman, football
David Tyler, Spring- Ford, Sophomore, football

Posted by
Barry Sankey

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Clearing The Sidewalks

When I came into work today, at around 11 a.m., I was worried about how the sidewalks would be because of yesterday's snow. As I was walking up Bank Street (from the municipal parking lot), there were some icy patches but I thought, "Well, it's downhill, maybe that has something to do with it."

Unfortunately, to the left side of the front of our building (left if you're coming out of the building), it's still super icy.

Plus, when I was walking downtown around noon, there were still areas that had not been touched and were covered in snow. Now, I know I wasn't wearing the most practical shoes, but it was still a gamble to get down to Ocean Earth Wind Fire.

When I came out to walk back to the office around 1 p.m., I did see a municipal worker salting parts of the sidewalk. So I guess things are turning around (especially on the sunny side of the street).

But I only experienced Bridge Street. What about the other sidewalks in and around town? Did any of you have trouble navigating the sidewalks, or do you think they were all cleared well? Does the borough do a good job of keeping up on this all winter (this being my first winter here, I don't know what to expect)? Let me know - maybe I'll be buying winter boots with crazy tread if this keeps up.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Den Around Town: Sugar Pudd'n

Brian Wants His Brain Back

This review is for the Sci-fi channel Original Miniseries "Tin Man", which ran in three two-hour segments from Sunday until Tuesday evening, and will undoubtedly be repeated several more times.

The miniseries, which is a "unique" take on the classic The Wizard of Oz, stars Zooey Deschanel as DG (Dorothy), Alan Cumming as Glitch (the Scarecrow), and Richard Dreyfuss as The Mystic Man (the Wizard of Oz). Neal McDonagh,Raoul Trujillo and Kathleen Robertson also star as the spinoffs of the tin man, the cowardly lion and the wicked witch, respectively.

I could barely get through the first installment, and watched only as much of the second and third parts my brain could tolerate. After watching this, I envision a cramped office where a bunch of writers are sitting down with two dartboards. One has the names of the Wizard of Oz characters and basic story elements, and another has every Science Fiction and fantasy cliche ever used. The writers must have thrown darts at one and then the other, probably after some drinking and with a blindfold on, to reach their decisions for what they did with the story.

Here's the basic gist: DG-yes, DG, she is never called Dorothy- is a rebel without a cause living with her parents in Kansas. She then escapes a band of shotgun-toting bad guys (and you KNOW they're bad because they're wearing leather jackets) through a tornado, meets up with her companions, and embarks on a journey through the OZ (standing for the Outer Zone) to combat the evil Azkadelia and discover the predictable truth about her past.

My eyes bled watching this mess, not only because of the deplorable CGI but because of the shear outlandishness of it. The list of ridiculousness is too long to detail here, but here's just some of the silly changes the writers seemingly made to the original story for change's sake.

First off, the cowardly lion is a telepathic creature who can show the future in mirrors. Toto, the beloved pet dog of Dorothy, is in this miniseries an elderly African American gentleman named Tudor, who can then change into a dog at will. Oh, and the horrific flying monkeys that terrified you when you were a kid? Yeah, here they're called Mo-Bats, and fly out of tattoos on Azkadelia's bosom. If I were speaking this, I would repeat that, as it bears repeating. But you can just go back and read it.

A lot of Sci-fi miniseries are cool, like the Dune and Children of Dune miniseries from several years ago, and Battlestar Galactica, which is now a critically acclaimed series.

This however, is most definitely a failure. It's simply too silly and of too poor of quality to take seriously. The performances are the only good part of it, but the talent here is wasted.

Score: 1/10

Later on,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winter Weather Update

A Open Letter to the Guy/ Girl at The Open Mic With a Acoustic Guitar

Dear Guy/ Girl at the open mic with a acoustic guitar,
I understand your dilemma: that drive within all creative people that makes them have to get in front of some gathering of people and demand said people’s attention and demonstrate your “art” for them. I understand this curse, because I share it as well. Okay, so maybe it’s the fact that we are attention-starved Jezebels (not the word I wanted to here, but this is a “family website” – don’t know what I really mean? It’s in The Bible). But what it really comes down to is the fact that you are never going to write a better folk song than Dylan or Woody Guthurie, and the G-D-Em cord progress has been used more than once. So find a different tuning or, even better, a completely different instrument, a new song structure or a unique subject, and do something different. I not sure how much longer I can take the song in the key of G about your dead cat or how the girl broke your heart or the dead girl who broke your heart; whatever it was you were singing about.


Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Petrucci's Christmas Trees

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Charity This Season

I just wanted to shoot you all a quick blog about charity this season. I was talking to Brian and I said I thought that it seemed like we were covering charity events almost every day now that the holiday season has rolled in. I think this is great and I can't think of another town I've been to that gives so much of itself (through volunteerism and through donations). Groups are giving toys and meals and time and it really is awesome to see.

Of course, now we just have to get this dedication throughout the year (not that we don't have people who volunteer all year long). Don't forget, giving shouldn't be a seasonal thing. Let's stop using the holidays as an excuse for charity and try to make it happen all the time. The organizations you give to are open all year round. And don't forget that Relay will continue it's campaign after the new year.

Thanks again though, for all of you who are helping out and going that extra mile to benefit those in need.

Posted by
Laurie Perini

Phoenixville Holiday Parade

Monday, December 3, 2007

Your thoughts on Phoenixville to Great Valley Train

In a story I reported on in Monday's edition of The Phoenix, I mention a proposed to plan to utilize existing rails extending from Phoenixville to Great Valley to serve a potential passenger rail service. The line was previously used for freight trains, but has since been discontinued by Norfolk Southern Corporation, the company that owns the rails. Barry Cassidy, Executive Director of Main Street CDC, is working on the project with Borough Councilman Carlos Ciruelos, D-East, and a reputable engineering firm, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

Cassidy and the consultants are currently working on the scope of the project to determine whether a passenger rail line from here to Great Valley would be feasible and successful. This seems to be not simply another "what if" project that constantly changes depending on who you talk to, such as the Schuylkill Valley Metro. Rather, Cassidy and the consultants have a detailed nine-week schedule for the plan, by the end of which they will have a fully detailed description and layout ready to present to local governments.

What are your thoughts on this issue? The benefits seem obvious; both bringing in new jobs and taking people here to their jobs in Great Valley. Do you believe it is feasible? Or is this another project that is simply a wash, destined for failure?

Interested to see your thoughts on this issue.

Later on,

Update to accident with the Valley Forge Sign

Update to fatal accident on Pothouse Road

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