The Phoenix Files

The comments and posts on The Phoenix Files do not necessarily represent the thoughts or feelings of The Phoenix and/or ownership or management. The Phoenix and also reserve the right to delete any post. Any post which contains obscene language will be removed. Any questions or comments on this policy can be e-mailed to

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Skip talks with State Senator Andy Dinniman

Momma Danna Didn't Raise No Fool

For those of us who work in the newspaper business, election season can be a tricky time.
Yes, we all know the common perception that all of us journalism-types are liberal. That is true in some cases. It’s not true in others. What am I? Hopefully, if I do my job the way it should be done, you’ll never be able to tell.
Our goal as a media outlet is to present (I even hate to write it because it sounds so cliché) a balanced look at election happenings. The Phoenix, like every newspaper in the country, has an editorial page, and the opinions expressed on that page sometimes reflect the opinions of the people in the newsroom. Sometimes they don’t. We try very hard to be objective in our actual news coverage, and when it comes election time those of us at the grassroots of media coverage have a difficult time with that time-honored tradition of newspapers – the political endorsement.
The Phoenix will not be issuing political endorsements this year, for a couple of very good reasons.
First, political endorsements provide no service to our readers, other than to clue them in to who the staff is likely to vote for. We have followed the state and local races that will be on our readers’ ballots very closely. We have interviewed the candidates at length. We’ve covered their endorsements and policy speeches, etc., and all of that information is right here on Our readers are smart enough to make up their own minds. The pertinent information on all local candidates has been presented, and they don’t need us telling them who we think they ought to vote for.
Second, endorsements provide no service to The Phoenix, or any other newspaper for that matter, as an institution. If a candidate is truly a great guy or gal with policy aims that are in everyone’s best interest, then it’s more that likely that the electorate knows it and is going to elect him or her anyway. It doesn’t help anyone for a newspaper to cheerlead. Neither does it help a newspaper if they endorse someone who presents themselves as a potentially great public servant, but later turns out to be a dirtbag.
This is not to say that The Phoenix has not or will not publish letters or guest columns that support or oppose certain candidates. We believe fully in the idea that every view deserves to be aired on our opinion page. In fact, I encourage everyone to read this to tell me who you’re voting for (in any race) in the comments section of this blog. We’re just not convinced that putting our personal views on any given candidate does anyone any real good.
Posted by Nick Danna

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Matt talks with Eric Reinhart about Chaplin's Storyteller Series

Barry Cassidy's Council Report 10.27.08

Friday, October 24, 2008

Your Chance to Win Your Own Fathead

State and Local Educators Endorse Paul Drucker

Democratic candidate for the 157th State House District Paul Drucker yesterday received endorsements from Education Voters Pennsylvania and the Phoenixville Area Education Association

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Peters Judgment

Proposed redevelopment of the Barto Tract has been a lightening rod of an issue, attracting, focusing the energy of a larger storm: a debate over the fundamental character of the Phoenixville community.

There’s the density of development there. Some months ago, learning of the proposed 450 residential units in the mixed-use retail-residential project on 5.6 acres, Regional Planning Committee member Lee Ledbetter joked that the Committee had far under-rated the Borough’s ability to accept the density of regional growth.

There’s the project’s probable height. Behind streetside retail-residential development are two 14-story mixed-use residential-commercial towers, ten stories over four of parking.

Those facts appeared to split the community into two camps: one, seeing in the proposal the death of a quaint, low-density village; another, seeing in the project Phoenixville’s necessary future.

But at the conclusion of the last Borough Planning Commission session on zoning amendments for the project, Commissioner Teena Peters said this:

“When this [project] first came in, I was not happy with the idea,” Peters said. “Manny has a valid vision. It may not be my own but I won’t oppose it. Phoenixville can stay village-like or go in a different, more progressive direction.”

An extraordinary statement. It’s not often that a public judgment arising from deeply-held convictions treats competing judgment with such equanimity, and even less often that public judgment is willing to stand aside for its opposite to have its day.

Peters may take heat for that equanimity, from those whose politics is populated by “winners” and “losers,” those who are “right” and those who are “wrong” on any given issue. From this source, though, Peters gets admiration.

Posted by
G.E. “Skip” Lawrence

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nick's First Blog Post as Editor of The Phoenix

It’s been around one full week since I took the helm of the editorial department here at The Phoenix and it’s already been something of an education.
There were certain things that I’d already known about Phoenixville, having worked here off and on over the course of the last year in my role as editor of The Phoenix’s sister paper, the Tri County Record.
That the town is intensely interested in local and state politics seemed a given, but became even more apparent on my first official day covering the whirlwind of maneuvers surrounding the arrival of the senior senator from Pennsylvania in our fair borough. This blog really isn’t about that. What happened on that day is a story for another day, and a certain event which is sure to happen really needs to happen before I can put that day’s events into context for our readers. Needless to say, the presence of both esteemed candidates for the 157th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives made the event politically charged, which is just what Phoenixville likes, as Mayor Leo Scoda pointed out to me on that overcast morning.
I know: get to the point. Our online editor envisioned this blog post as something of an introduction of me. If you’re looking for that, I would point you to a fine piece written by Dennis J. Wright introducing me that was published on this site a week ago. Instead, I want to make this blog post about you, specifically what you want to read.
These are difficult times for the newspaper industry in general, and newspapers as a medium of information will cease to exist if we don’t pay close attention to what our readers are saying and thinking. That’s why I want to know exactly what you think about the issues that are close to your heart.
If politics are what sustain you, and you’re not seeing enough coverage within the pages of The Phoenix, let me know. If there’s a great story out there that’s dying to be told, let me know. If we got something wrong (as human beings are known to do, from time to time), let me know. We’re here to serve Phoenixville and the surrounding area in all aspects of our coverage and we want to know from you whether we’re doing our jobs in a way that’s useful to you as readers.
And if anybody knows a place to get some good barbecue, let me know.

Contact editor Nick Danna at

Hightlights from between Dinniman and Kantrowitz at Franklin Commons

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Views about parking issues in Phoenixville

The Authority’s Board


Phoenixville’s Parking Authority is governed by a five-member Board, appointed by Borough Council President, with five-year staggered terms. Those members are:
• Chair: Adam Deveney, who comes to the Board with experience in municipal planning and service too Phoenixville service groups over many years. Deveney, a Schuylkill Township resident, holds a five-year term on the Board.
• Vice-chair: Jeffrey Abbott, Phoenixville Middle Ward and Bridge Street resident. Abbott holds a one-year term on the Board.
• Secretary: David Friday, a Phoenixville North Ward resident and co-owner of Hipster Home, 237 Bridge Street. Friday holds a three-year term.
• Treasurer: Connor Cummins, a Chester Springs resident and co-founder, Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant & Pub at Bridge and Main. Cummins holds a two-year term.
• Member: James Lolli, Phoenixville East Ward resident and former Council member and Council president. Lolli holds a four-year term.
The Director of the Main Street-Community Development Corporation, Barry Cassidy, serves as Recording Secretary. Borough Manager E. Jean Krak has been asked to serve as an advisor to the Board.
The Authority meets every second and fourth Wednesday of each month, at 5:00 p.m. in Borough Hall. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fans watch the Phillies victory at P.J. Ryan's

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Matt sits down with The Danger-O's

Friday, October 10, 2008

Taking wing from Phoenixville

By Patricia Matson

This is my last day as the editor of The Phoenix.
The six years I have worked here have provided me with a great deal of valuable experience, in technical and journalistic skills, as well as personal development and relationships to cherish. However, for a combination of private and professional reasons, I am making some changes in my life.
Other than moving south to be with some of my relatives, I am not sure what the future holds for me. I still love journalism and its goal of sharing information for the good of the community, and I expect to continue writing and editing, but the form that will take is up in the air.
As I prepare to take wing from The Phoenix and Phoenixville, I am reflecting on my time here. I want to take the opportunity to share what here made some of the biggest impacts on me.
The Power of the Press: On Dec. 12, 2002, The Phoenix’s lead story was “Council Hikes Taxes 43%” — followed the very next day by “Council to reopen budget.” Eventually, a far lower tax hike of 6.8% was implemented. One of the councilmen actually admitted to our reporter that his sight of the big headline in The Phoenix shocked him into pushing to get the tax hike revised. I was really impressed by that.
The Power of the People: In early 2006, the Chamber of Commerce organized a letter-writing campaign to alert county and state officials to the crumbling disrepair of the Gay Street Bridge. A public forum was held that March, attended by local, county and state officials, where citizens and business owners spoke passionately about their worries. Phoenixville continued to voice opinions with calls, letters and e-mails. Meanwhile, The Phoenix covered the campaign, with stories, weekly photos of the stressed structure, photos and columns. Finally, toward the end of April 2006, PennDOT agreed to an “accelerated design schedule” with planning and cost estimates to be completed by April 2007, and construction to begin in September/October 2007. Naturally, there have been a few delays since then, and the reconstruction is still ongoing. Nevertheless, it was an impressive achievement for Phoenixville (with The Phoenix’s help) to push a state bureaucracy like PennDOT into making a public commitment to speed up its schedule.
Winning Awards: I think The Phoenix’s most significant award, because it demonstrated our commitment and close ties to the community, was winning first place for Public Service in the 2007 Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors contest (our circulation division included papers up to five times our size), for the Gay Street Bridge campaign. Also under my tenure, we won first place in Enterprise Reporting in the Pennsylvania APME 2008 contest, plus three awards in 2006, three awards in 2004, and three awards in 2003, for categories ranging from opinion columns to news reporting to sports coverage. Of course, personally, I am very proud of winning a 2006 PAPME award and a 2007 Suburban Newspapers of America award for editorials I had written.
Working on Writing: Before I came to The Phoenix, I was the Copy Desk Chief at the Daily Local News, which involved editing stories and laying out pages. I had never written anything for publication, unless you count my master’s thesis, a copy of which is presumably still in the stacks somewhere at Penn State. I had done a fair amount of creative and descriptive writing on my own, but at The Phoenix, the task of almost daily “Our View” editorials and weekly “Letting My Hair Down” columns really pushed my growth as a writer. Some of my favorite pieces over the years include “Nifty hats and the military mind” and “Police, community must try to build trust” (2002); “‘Gods and Generals,’ and ironies of war” (2003); “A slim majority is not the same as a mandate” (2004); “Affordable housing needed in area,” and a series of editorials about the Ironworks designation, ironmongery colors, and other Streetscapes issues (2005); “Rendell administration mistreats the media,” as part of the Gay Street Bridge campaign (2006); and “Roads shouldn’t be privatized” (2007). Unfortunately, the increasing pace of other duties here has made it impossible for me to keep writing as much as I would have preferred, although I have enjoyed doing a bit of reporting here and there in the last few months. I hope my next career move will allow me to do more in this area.
Fledglings’ Progress: It’s both a strength and a weakness for The Phoenix that people tend to come and go; it’s always painful to lose skilled people to the wider world, but it’s also energizing to have new people bring their talents here. Many of our incoming reporters and editors are already pretty capable when they start here, but I think I’ve helped with their professional growth, and certainly they have had the opportunity to gain plenty of experience. Some of those who departed veered into other career paths, but many have gone on to promotions at larger papers, which is certainly satisfying to see. Speaking of which, I know I am leaving the paper in good hands with Nick Danna, who will be replacing me. He has been the editor of our Morgantown affiliate, the Tri County Record, for a year, and has proven his ability and drive there; he also led The Phoenix’s recent redesign. He’ll take over my e-mail address, too, so you can contact him at
Colleagues: None of the last paragraph means that I take my other co-workers here for granted! From the public faces of The Phoenix, like Taggy, Dennis, Barry, Jason and Alexander, to behind-the-scenes helpers like Shirley, Laurin, Bobbi, Pushpa, Sherry and Teri, everyone has taught me something, with a good amount of fun along the way.
Community: I love the cultural diversity of the Phoenixville community, from summer’s BlobFest to winter’s Firebird Festival, from the blue-collar history of the Foundry to the arts community that fosters the Colonial Theatre, the Forge Theatre, the various art galleries and so much more, as well as the many organizations dedicated to helping others. I admire the people of Phoenixville, who display so much individual kindness and community spirit, and so much passion and, yes, fire. Okay, sometimes it gets pretty crazy, like the great Black/Blue lamppost controversy, and there have certainly been some public decisions that have disappointed me, but at heart, Phoenixville people care.
In summary, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to find so much fulfillment here, and I wish all the best to Phoenixville Newspapers and to everyone in the Phoenixville community. I will miss you.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Album Review -The Iguanas – If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times…

….This is probably the last thing you'd feel like listening to. With a title like that, I was surprised to find the Iguanas latest album filled with monotonous, directionless tracks, some of which don't include lyrics and others that even require subtitles. Though instrumentally strong, the Iguanas simply fail to use their talents to create a unique sound that lets them stand out in a very long line of folksy-bluesy-jazz-inspired-roots-ish-americana-esque and otherwise confused bands vying to make a name for themselves in the industry. Though a select few actually fly, "If You Should Ever Fall on Hard Times" comes forth as an "anything-goes" grab bag of tunes, all of which could easily be mistaken for flops by artists such as Shawn Mullins, Los Lonely Boys and even Buena Vista Social Club. Attempts such as "Okemah" and "Morgan City" channel Mullins slow storytelling style, while the title track, the most upbeat song on the album, sounds like Los Lonely Boys suffering from writer's block. Strictly instrumental tracks such as "The Fall" and boring Spanish numbers such as "Celos Con Mezcal" could probably make Desi Arnaz roll over in his grave. Contrary to what the album title suggests, I'm pretty sure that the most fun and excitement this album could ever elicit would be watching your drunken relatives dance to it as a family wedding winds down. Otherwise, I think it's pretty safe to pass this one up next time you're out shopping for new music.

Posted by
Christine Gibboni

The First Episode of WOW Phoenixville with Kim Cooley

Friday, October 3, 2008

Make a purchase, support a great cause

Through Sunday, October 5, through a special “Sprit Week” celebration sponsored by members of the Phoenixville Area Business Association, purchases in downtown businesses can help support an important program of the Phoenixville Area School District.

Participating merchants will donate 5% of any purchases made by customers in support of "Spirit Week" to the Destinations with Direction program at Phoenixville High School, a Phoenixville Community Education Foundation-supported program designed to increase awareness and provide motivation to high-potential, economically-disadvantaged students to pursue opportunities in higher education.

Paul Oliver of Wolfgang Books had this to say about PABA’s program: "With the amount of tax and grant monies being invested in downtown Phoenixville, I felt that we needed to do something to show that we have not forgotten about the needs of the school district and the important job they have in educating our children", said Oliver. "It also emphasizes buying local to support the local economy. For this week, if you buy local there are direct results in the form of a donation back to a deserving school district program."

Look for purple “Spirit Week” ribbons identifying these retailers: Wolfgang Books, Steel City Coffeehouse, Artisan’s Gallery & Café, Romantic Jewelers, Fashionista Salon, Salon Fiber, The Fenix, Molly Maguires, Speedie Bistro, Morning Star Bed & Breakfast, Ellie’s Choice, Phoenixville Art Center, Jaworski’s Music, Scarlet Begonias, and Diving Cat Studios. Customers should identify their purchases as made in support of “Sprit Week.”

Posted by
My Photo
Name: The Phoenix Files
Location: United States

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]