The Phoenix Files

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Friday, May 30, 2008

A Good Way to Waste Time

This week’s website waste-o-time is a follow-up to a previous entry.
If you recall, I had written about how awesome is and how if you don’t check it out you're un-American. Of particular interest was Harry Shearer (of "The Simpsons" and "Spinal Tap" fame) video blog, titled “Found Treasures."
As it turns out, Mr. Shearer had been keeping busy recording a song and video dubbed “935 Lies”. The song and the video are indictments of the Bush administration, in which Harry projects varies quotes from the president, vice president and other members of the presidential staff.
If you are supporter of the current administration (cricket, cricket) you will find the song irritating to say the least, with out-of context-quotes and half sentences. On the other hand, if you agree with the assessment, the song will be entertaining enough to keep your attention, not to mention flare your feelings of anger and betrayal.
My only real assessment of the piece or of Mr. Shearer is, with amount of money this man has, you would think he could afford some fluoride treatments or something. It looks like he’s been filtering coffee through his teeth.

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer Music

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Council Overview

Among items taken up by Borough Council Committees last evening were the following. All Committee actions, however, are subject to formal vote of the full Council at a regular business session. The next such session is June 10.

• Recommended that Council approve the allocation of $5,000 toward the cost of transporting the last remaining Phoenix Steel Ferris Wheel from Asbury Park, NJ, to Kimberton for temporary storage and refurbishing. PAEDCO has agreed to cover half of the $50,000 purchase price; the remaining funds for purchase will be covered by a private fundraising effort, according to project initiator Barbara Cohen. A permanent location for the wheel on the steel site is contemplated.

• Considered a request from Robb Frees on behalf of the Main Street-Community Development Corporation for an extension of the current CDC contract with the Borough, for an additional five years at $125,000 per year.

• Recommended that Council approve the timeline extension of Phoenixville Hospital’s Phase II renovation and construction project.

• Considered a request from Brandywine Financial for support of its development of the final, third elderly housing facility on the western portion of the steel site. The preliminary proposal is for a 60-unit building, with 52 one-bedroom and 8 two-bedroom units.

• Recommended funding a study of the feasibility of establishing a Business Improvement District for the Downtown area.

• Recommended an extension of the steel site Master Plan for an additional fifteen years. The proposal has been referred to the Borough and County Planning Commissions before Council considers on June 10 advertising the proposal for public hearing.

• Considered in executive session the parameters for a contract for a new borough manager. The Manager Search Committee will be interviewing three candidates Thursday.

• Directed staff to present on June 10 its considerations surrounding a bond issue for water infrastructure renovation, reconstruction and replacement.

• Considered authorization of a bid package for renovations to those portions of Friendship Field purchased by the Borough from Friendship Fire Company at settlement May 20.

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Can't Keep a Good Man Down

On Tuesday, May 27 Guy Ciarrocchi announced the appointment of a full-time campaign manager to aid Guy with his campaign for state representative for the 157th district of the Pennsylvania State House.

Guy selected Brian McCarthy to fill the role. Graduating from Loyola College in Maryland with a B.A. in journalism, Brian worked as a reporter with the Phoenixville Phoenix from August of 2007 to April of 2008.

During that time Brian covered local politics and events in the Phoenixville region, including borough council and Schuylkill Township on a regular basis. Brian also recorded online podcast interviews with local dignitaries and wrote a weekly opinion column on matters both local and national.

Guy chose Brian, a registered Democrat, as his campaign manager for "his strong work ethic and obvious deep commitment to the community."

"Above all, Brian has shown not only his commitment to our region, but also a true focus on finding ways to solve problems," Guy continued. " Brian and I share the goal of finding people and organizations that are making a difference and helping them to do what they do, with the support and recognition that they deserve."

Prior to leaving for college, Brian grew up in the 157th district, living with his family at their home in Berwyn until graduating from Devon Preparatory School, located in the heart of the district. Brian is excited and honored to assist in Guy's campaign for state representative.

"I met with Guy on several occasions while working as a reporter," Brian said. "So I was already familiar with his strength of character and his great deal of experience in government."

"I, along with the many other dedicated coordinators and volunteers working on this campaign, will strive to ensure that Guy is elected this November," Brian continued. "He will bring not only experience but responsible government to the district, continuing the work accomplished by state representative Carole Rubley."

"Brian has only been working on the campaign for a week, and already I have been impressed with his organizational skills and attention to detail," Wendy DiRico, campaign chair for Guy Ciarrocchi, said. "We're glad to have him on board as we move ever closer to November!"

The 157th district consists of Tredyffrin and Schuylkill Townships, as well as the borough of Phoenixville, in Chester County and Lower Providence and portions of West Norriton Townships in Montgomery County. Guy has over 20 years of experience working in the realm of public service, most recently serving as U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach's chief of staff. For more information on Guy Ciarrocchi visit, call the campaign phone line referenced above or email

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sounds Like Fun

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Water main ruptures on Taylor Alley

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Meet Creep Industries

A Good Way to Waste Time

Sorry I haven’t posted one of these in a while, I fried my laptop drive, and I can never find time to write them in the office.
With that out of the way, I would like to thank “Skip” Lawrence for introducing me to this week’s website recommendation,
The exciting thing about working in an “online” field is that as a new media the old rules don’t apply. Much like television in the ‘50s, there are thousands of artist, writers, and merry-makers of all shapes and sizes taking advantage of the free-for-all, and some of their creations have truly been remarkable. is a great example of the new opportunities that never existed with old forms of medias. Their “about” page states “A three minute daily videoblog based in New York. We cover and create a wide range of information and commentary from top news stores to quirky Internet culture.”
The videoblog is produced with one camera, a laptop and a very large audience. This site shows that the power to decide what information is dispensed is no longer in the hands of a few corporations (we really opened the Pandora’s Box on this one folks). Enjoy.

Posted by
Matthew Byrd

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Dogwood Parade 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

WMGK visits The Phoenix

Beyond The Mat 05/03

Disclaimer - Dennis J. Wright is a reporter for The Phoenix, and is also involved in the pro wrestling business. Dennis is a ring announcer/manager under the name of "Heavy D." This new blog will speak of his latest journeys throughout Pennsylvania.

Last Saturday I made my debut at the Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling Alliance (PCWA) in Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania. The journey to Mt. Carmel is approximately 3 hours away from Phoenixville. What made the ride enjoyable was that I picked up female wrestler Rebecca Payne around 3 p.m. after an hour on the road.

Traveling with other wrestlers definitely made the road trips easier. While I do the majority of the driving, the passenger is supposed to keep an eye on the map and make sure we get to the show hopefully on time. Also the conversation should flow as well.

The directions we had to Mt. Carmel were a bit off, but Rebecca and I were able to get to the show just as the crowd was lining up outside. I found out upon arrival that I'd be managing The Dark Patriot against former WWE wrestler The Patriot. Rebecca was scheduled to face Autumn Breeze in a hardcore woman's match.

So Dark Patriot, his sidekick Russian No. 1, and I make our way through the curtain. I'm carrying the Union Jack flag and waving it in the faces of the fans. Oh yeah, we're the bad guys here, to which the fans love to boo and jeer. It is so much fun being a bad guy, because I get to yell at the fans and get them all riled up. It's better to have them yell back at you instead of sitting there being bored.

Of course, The Patriot comes out, hands little American flags to the kids, and revels in the cheers of "USA USA." Despite the fact that it was three on one, The Patriot was able to overcome the odds and gain the victory.

He was able to withstand me choking him several times against the ropes, and although he couldn't catch me, The Patriot abused Russian No. 1 instead. After the match, The Patriot held the ropes open and challenged me to enter the ring. I chose the higher road and told him that I'll find another wrestler that'll defeat him. The three of us made our way to the back, following by the sounds of boos and jeers. The promoter liked my enthusiasm and how I worked the crowd and so I'm invited to come back in June.

Rebecca sustained a hand injury during her match with Autumn Breeze, along with a cut to her forehead. So on our way home from Mt. Carmel, it was a side trip to Lehigh Valley Hospital to get her hand looked at. We dealt with two hours of rain to get to the hospital.

Okay, this is a prime example that despite what people think about pro wrestling, wrestlers do get legitimately hurt. Every precaution can be made prior to a match, but injuries do occur. That is why pro wrestling should be left to the professionals and none of the stuff you see on TV shold be tried at home.

With that being said, we entered the hospital and both the registration nurse and security guard began giving me dirty looks. Picture this, a big guy walking into a hospital with a 5'4" girl with a bandage on her forehead and swollen hand. First impression they had was that she was a victim of abuse.

We explained that we are in the wrestling business and I had nothing to do with her injuries. Think about it - would I be there if I was the cause of those injuries? So as we were walking back to a treatment room, the dirty looks continued my way until we got to her room.

Rebecca thanked me for being there with her, and I told her about the dirty looks I got. We shared a good laugh at that, and after an x-ray and meds, we found out her hand wasn't broken, but it would be swollen and sore for a few more days.

I dropped Rebecca off at her home and made my way back to Phoenixville by 3 a.m. Sunday morning.

NEXT TIME: My debut at Real Pro Wrestling Federation in East Stroudsburg.

Posted by
Dennis J. Wright

Barry Cassidy with his report to council

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Phoenixville Celtic Festival '08

Professionalism and journalism

One response to the posting of the “Wagner: Martynick should go” story from May 12 says that “the sending of the request from Wagner to the ‘newspaper’ is uncalled for and unprofessional. Furthermore, it is also unprofessional for the ‘newspaper’ to publish excerpts from personal correspondence...”
Council President Henry Wagner certainly had the right to notify our reporter that he had requested George Martynick to quit the planning commission. In fact, such openness could be viewed as a good “professional” tendency for a public servant.
There is no way to argue that the request for a resignation didn’t merit a story. Would keeping that action secret have been preferable? The fact that e-mail was used to notify the reporter instead of a telephone does not change that.
As for publishing excerpts from personal correspondence, how personal can an e-mail message be when it already has been copied previously to so many people, including other council members and planning commission members? Is there really any expectation of privacy?
It is certainly a very public matter being discussed, not confined just to personal issues or even personnel issues, but with public policy implications, since it includes matters of ethics, accuracy, council/planners relations and deference vs. due deliberation by each body.
Given the amount of comment that this article has generated, most of it pretty deliberative and issue-oriented rather than just personal attacks, readers seem to agree that it was an important story to publish.

Posted by
Patricia Matson
Editor, The Phoenix

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Guitar Sam Blues Band live at The Colonial Theatre

Monday, May 12, 2008

Resignation Ping Pong

Council President Henry Wagner pressed again late Sunday evening for George Martynick’s resignation from the Planning Commission, accusing Martynick of a strategy of delay at last Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting.

Martynick presided at that meeting, in the absence of PC chair Deb Johnston. The Commission by a 4-0-1 vote reversed a 7-0 Commission vote in March to support changes to Downtown Commercial district zoning provisions.

In an e-mail to Martynick, Wagner wrote: “What you did at the meeting was very clear to me…. [Borogh Planner] Ray Ott wrote and supports the D-COMM ordinance changes. [Acting Borough Manager] Brian Watson supports these common sense changes. Your PC solicitor advised you that there was no harm in following the will of Council and recommending these common sense changes.

“You’re creating delay for developers,” Wagner continued, “for what the zoning hearing board has said they will grant relief on every time. I understand that you expressed the sentiment at the meeting that you didn’t care if delay was caused.

“You are not serving the direction of Council which is what the Planning Commission is to do. In this way you do embarrass Council,” he continued.

“Between the inappropriate and unprofessional manner in which you openly question a member’s [father James Evans’s] ethical behavior, attacking him on the floor of the Planning Commission, and now your methods whereby you have misled other Planning Commission members, I find you behavior unacceptable and intolerable. I ask you once again to step down, resign from the Planning Commission,” Wagner concluded.

Martynick had a one-line response: “This politicization of the planning process is pretty dangerous.”

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Wagner: Martynick should go

Story has been posted to The Phoenix Files for your thoughts and comments:

Phoenixville Borough Council president requests resignation of planners’ vice-chair

By G.E. Lawrence

Special to The Phoenix

PHOENIXVILLE — Council President Henry Wagner has requested the resignation of the Planning Commission’s Vice-Chair, George Martynick, from that body.

The request followed Wagner’s assessment of Martynick’s role in the Commission’s reversal of its support of the pending Downtown Commercial (D-COMM) zoning district ordinance revisions, and was made in an e-mail to Martynick Saturday morning.

In remarks at the Commission’s Thursday evening session, Martynick, presiding in the absence of chair Deb Johnston, said that “the extension of the D-COMM district out to Nutt Road is under active consideration” by Council’s Ordinance Subcommittee, according to conversations he had held with Kendrick Buckwalter (R-West), the Subcommittee’s chair, and Subcommittee member Michael Hott.

“My argument,” Martynick said, “is that with the expansion, let’s send it [the current ordinance] back [to Council] and do it right.”

When Martynick’s remarks appeared in a report on the meeting in The Phoenix’s Saturday edition, Buckwalter sent an early-morning e-mail to Martynick. “I don’t recall a conversa

tion where I said the D-COMM Ordinance was under active consideration in the Ordinance Subcommittee,” Buckwalter wrote.

“We have had only one meeting with me as chair (April 16) at which time it had already been presented to Council and returned back to [the] Planning Commission,” Buckwalter continued. He sent copies of the e-mail to Hott and Wagner, attached copies of the April 16 meeting minutes, and noted that both Hott and Wagner had attended that Subcommittee meeting.

Reached for comment, Buckwalter said, “I’m on record as opposing [aspects of the ordinance], and maybe George misunderstood what I was saying in another conversation. But we [the Subcommittee] certainly didn’t discuss it.”

“For you to put forward a misrepresentation in order to garner support for a reversal on your original opinion,” Wagner wrote to Martynick, “demonstrates to me that you are not qualified to participate in the Planning Commission….

“In this, yet another incident, I cannot help but once again express my profound disappointment in your lack of professionalism,” Wagner told Martynick. “There is no room for those that use misrepresentation and their senior position and what is apparent political posturing in attempt to embarrass Council.

The “other incident” to which Wagner referred was Martynick’s public charges against colleague Commission member Father James Evans of a conflict of interest in discussions of the ordinance and in the Commission’s March vote. Wagner said then, “I am embarrassed that a body like the Commission” would have such charges discussed “on the Planning Commission floor. If a member has a concern about a question of ethics, file it with the state.”

Wagner concluded his Saturday e-mail to Martynick: “I am formally asking you to tender your resignation from the Planning Commission.”

“If I had misinterpreted my previous conversations with Ken and Mike,” Martynick wrote to Wagner, “I am truly sorry but the nature of that information was relegated to the background in light of the overwhelming need for a complete rewrite of the ordinance.

“I am not sure I fully understand the reasoning for your request,” he said. “There is no ‘embarrassing Council’ since no decision has been made yet by Council. We [the Commission] reconsidered our vote of which I was just one vote,” he wrote.

“Our original vote was taken 2 days after receiving the ordinance and with extended consideration (and studying), I came to the conclusion that we could really come up with a comprehensive and progressive ordinance… instead of patching some of the problems.

“Don’t denounce my actions because they appear to be unprofessional as written in the paper,” Martynick wrote.

Late Saturday Martynick said, “I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know if Henry’s request is a request from the full Council or not. But if eight [Council members] feel that we shouldn’t come up with more progressive, incentive-based zoning [alternatives], so be it.”

Friday, May 9, 2008

D-COMM Ping Pong

The proposed amended Downtown Commercial (D-COMM) zoning district ordinance, sent from Council back to the Planning Commission following a scuttled public hearing, was returned again to Council last night by the Planning Commission.

But this volley came with yet another new twist, a brand new spin: the Commission fully reversed its earlier recommendation that Council approve the ordinance.

The motion, passed by four “yea” votes of five Commission members present, read this way: “That the Planning Commission send a memo advising Council that the Commission has discussed its prior recommendation to approve the proposed D-COMM ordinance but was unable to continue to support that recommendation. The Planning Commission recommends that Council not approve the ordinance.”

Commissioner James Evans listed himself as “not voting.” Chair Deb Johnston and Commissioner David Saneck were absent.

One could be tempted to say, on the face of it, that “the Commission unaccountably reversed itself,” but the fact is that it was very accountably.

There were four quite distinct sets of substantive and procedural reasons for each of the four votes, but the fundamental pressure to reconsider came from Vice Chair George Martynick, in the chair for the evening in Johnston’s absence.

Martynick contended that the terms of the ordinance were just a “fix” to more serious underlying issues; that those deeper issues should be addressed now, not later; and that, with the Council Ordinance Subcommittee’s consideration of a D-COMM district extension out to Nutt Road, the ordinance’s terms were simply inappropriate. “My argument,” Martynick said, “is that with the expansion, let’s send it back and do it right.”

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Interview with Steve Forbes

Monday, May 5, 2008

Barry Cassidy gives an overview of his report to council

Your Thoughts

Friday, May 2, 2008

What is a Podcast?

Guitar Sam


Forget Fahrvergnügen.

That word was about “the pleasure of driving.” It spoke to that part of our hearts where one American dream met another, the one about the freedom of the road.

Well, Fahrvergnügen fell out of common parlance around here just about the same time that the freedom of Route 29 came to mean forty minutes to claim, oh, maybe four-point-five miles of roadway real estate, at seven-fifty-five in the morning and five-fifty-five in the evening. A twice-daily exercise now brought to us at $3.63 an idling gallon.

The word for us now, here, as we learned it last night at the Columbia Bar and Grill, is Gelenktriebwagen.

That’s “articulated railcar” to you and me, and, abbreviated as “GTW,” it’s part of the model name of the only piece of self-propelled light-rail diesel rolling stock that can make the grade (so to speak) for any feasible north-south passenger rail line from Phoenixville to Paoli. It’s listed as the Stadler Rail AG GTW 2/6, and it’s manufactured in Bussnang, Switzerland.

So reported Tom Hickey, national transit planning manager for Gannett Fleming, the engineering and planning consultants hired by the Main Street-Community Development Corporation to explore the line’s feasibility. He so said at last night’s session of Citizens for the Train at the Columbia.

What will connect the residential population center that is Phoenixville with employment centers that are in Great Valley and south, thence east and west, a connector that that is not Rt. 29? Gelenktriebwagen! What will, at the same time, connect Phoenixville once again to Oaks by rail and thence, perhaps, to biomedical research and pharma production to the north? Gelenktriebwagen!

There are big issues to face, everyone connected with Hickey's study was quick to note. CDC board member Manny DeMutis called the twelve-week feasibility study only the project's first "baby-step." There are negotiations with Norfolk Southern for acquisition of its discontinued Phoenixville Line. There’s figuring out the detailed engineering of a topographically challenging route from Devault to Paoli. There’s a market study to undertake, some $250-275,000 worth, to see what ridership might really look like. There is a new right-of-way to piece together through commercial areas at the route's southern end. There’s how to handle design, construction and rolling stock costs totaling an estimated $140,000,000, or $15,000,000 a mile.

At the vote by Citizens for the Train to proceed with the project, Barry Cassidy asked for yeas and nays. The 'yeas' amounted to a vote by near acclamation, but Mary Foote's vote was misheard. "You're a 'no'?" Cassidy asked. "No," Foote said. "I said GO!" Gelenktriebwagen!

The word is a five-syllable statement of faith.

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Nurses Week

From May 4 to 10 is Nurse's Week, and the Phoenixville Hospital has their fair share of some award-winning and hard working nurses. That is not to say that there aren't other great nurses in the area. However, our focus was on the diversity of nursing at the hospital.

So in honor of these extraordinary individuals, yours truly has met with hospital officials, and after having so many to choose from, we made our selections and I'll be profiling six nurses in the pages of The Phoenix this week.

One story a day for the entire week, featuring these hard-chargers who work long shifts and are on their feet constantly, taking care of numerous patients at one time.

These nurses work in various departments of the hospital, during all hours of the day and night, and assisting both physicians and patients alike. After speaking with all six nurses, I found them each to be loyal to their profession, dedicated to their patients, and extremely pleased to be working at the hospital. Some of the veterans look forward to mentoring the new nurses, and they in turn are taking those lessons to heart and plying them to their trade.

I want to thank Brian Torrence, director of marketing and public relations, Phoenixville Hospital, for accompanying me around the hospital this week and introducing me to these wonderful individuals.

Upon visiting several departments in the hospital that I've never ventured before, I got to see up close and first hand some of the remarkable things these nurses do on a daily basis - things a lot of people aren't aware of.

I have the utmost respect for each and every one of them. Every time nurses would introduce themselves to me while I was a patient, I would thank them for being there, and promised them I would be as low maintenance as possible.

Hopefully you'll read these stories and get to see another side of these nurses. Then you may get a better aspect of how difficult their jobs are, especially the next time you're admitted into the hospital.

Posted by
Dennis J. Wright

Your Thoughts

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CDC Projects Update

Twice each month, the Main Street-Community Development Corporation has been updating Borough Council on the status of issues and projects under the CDC’s wing. The updates from Council’s April 28 meeting are here reported, as they were reported to Council, as elements of larger developing stories:

The Steel Site: After a long drought, it may soon begin to rain. Bruce Moore’s Brandywine Financial, negotiating purchase of the property from our old friends at the Phoenix Property Group, appeared to be at last resolving property judgment debt problems. Brandywine’s choice would then be to develop the property or to resell. CDC director Barry Cassidy reported that he had shopped the property to two potential buyers.

Once I built a railroad: The Green Line rail proposal will be under public discussion tonight at 7:00 at the Columbia Bar and Grill, when the results of the initial consultants’ feasibility study will be released. Meanwhile, the CDC is also working on two other sets of rail rights-of-way: Cassidy reported an upcoming meeting with Valley Forge Railways “to discuss the potential for the [Green Line] train project being extended to Oaks.” Current discussions regarding a SEPTA R-6 extension now currently exclude Phoenixville, he said. In addition, “we will be seeking,” said Cassidy, “to broker a deal with the property owners to purchase the easement for the entire Pickering line, that runs directly behind the stores on [the north side of] Bridge Street.”

Housing: The CDC has been in communication with HUD with a request for review of the “competence” of the Housing Authority of Chester County to administer its properties. “We still contend that the HACC is subject to all laws governing private owners of apartments and that no one should live with a bag of waste over their sink,” Cassidy said, in reference to the conditions in Apartment 413 at Fairview Village. Additionally, reps from the CDC, the police department, the DA’s office and Borough administrators met with the owner of High Street’s Pennsylvania House; official notice was given him, Cassidy said, “that the place has to clean up [regarding drug and other matters] or we will take action.”

Downtown marketing: The long-expected downtown retail market analysis is scheduled for delivery to the CDC today, which will kick off a major business recruitment effort focused on “businesses that are compatible with the arts and entertainment economic development strategy,” Cassidy said. On a related issue, “we will attempt to bring in a nationally-recognized consultant in retail enhancement…to advise the [current downtown] merchants on solid retail practices.”

Flower power: Cassidy reported that the CDC has passed off the responsibility for installation and maintenance of downtown “flower power” to the Phoenixville Area Business Association, and that PABA will be holding a benefit concert June 1 to help fund the project.

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Barry Cassidy tells us what to expect for May's First Friday

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