Friday, May 29, 2015

Free Concert, Jobs, Coffee With A Cop, and More

Sorry the Diary was quiet this week. I had a bunch of early appointments that ended up lasting half the day and I never did get caught up. But here's this week's events. Get out and enjoy the nice weather.

Tonight starting at 6:30 pm, the Kimberton Arts Alliance presents Le Jazz Hot, Jazz Vocal Series at Theatre Horizon (401 Dekalb). Featuring Alita Moses with the Kevin MacConnell Trio. Reception at 6:30 pm, concert at 8 pm. $45 per person includes wine, beer and hors-d'oeuvre. Tickets at

Tomorrow (Saturday) is Free Community Shred Day from 9 am to 1 pm at Matt Bradford's Office, 1846 Markley. Bring your sensitive information for shredding and disposal in a secure, environmentally safe manner. For more info call 610-270-1150.

Sunday at 7 pm, the FREE Sunday Concert Series continues with Dean Garofolo, Elvis Impersonator, at the Elmwood Park Bandshell. Bring a lawn chair or blanket. Refreshments available for purchase.
Monday from 6-7 pm at the Carver Center (Jacoby and Arch), a FREE information session about CADCOM's 2015 Career Development, Training and Entrepreneurial Opportunities. Space is limited. Call 610-277-6363 x110 to reserve a space.

Tuesday at 7:30 pm is the Council meeting in Municipal Hall. No agenda yet.

Wednesday from 8-10 am you can have Coffee With A Cop at Dunkin' Donuts, 151 West Main. Join your neighbors and police officers for coffee and conversation. No agendas or speeches, just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know officers in your neighborhood. For more information, contact Gina Davies at 610-270-0490 or

Next Saturday (June 6) from 10-11:30 am at Municipal Hall is registration for the Norristown Department of Recreation Summer Playground Program. The program will begin June 22 and continue for 6 weeks. The summer programs will be held at the Elmwood Park (Bandshell) and at Hancock School. Fee: $250 per child and this includes a required summer T-shirt. A $25 late fee will be charged after June 21. Trips and swimming (if applicable) are additional. Amounts for the trips vary, the specific amounts will be distributed before trips. The program is for children ages 5-13 and runs from 9 am to 2:45 pm, Monday thru Friday. Further info, call Bill Plichta 610-270-0467.

Reminder, CADCOM is still soliciting vendors for their Community Day to be held at Oak St (Simmons) Park on June 27 (rain date June 28). Vendors from both for profit and non-profit businesses and service providers can set up tables that day. To keep providing this event free to the community, they'd like financial, in-kind, and human (volunteers) donations in addition to the low, low for-profit vendor fee of $15. No charge for non-profit vendors. For info, contact Heather Lewis at 610-277-6363 x166.

Norristown Recreation is offering discount tickets to attractions in the Delaware Valley area (like Dorney Park and Adventure Aquarium). Cash only. For information and to purchase tickets, call 610-270-0467.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Zoning Board Hearing Agenda

1541 Powell St 
I'M posting this Monday night because I'll be out early Tuesday morning for the Norristown Business Association meeting.

Tuesday night, May 26, at 7 pm is the Zoning Board Hearing in Municipal Hall. Here's details on the properties to be discussed.

1541 Powell Street, owned by 50 West Brown Associates, LLC. They want a Special  Exception from Section  320-291A.3.a.iii to allow for a child care facility servicing approximately 100 children. This building was originally the Norristown Jewish Community Center at Brown and Powell, then it became the Cancer Center. It's been empty since the Cancer Center moved out to Mercy Hospital.

803 Noble Street, owned by Steve & Bobbette Detwiler, who want a variance to allow for the conversion of the second floor storage area into an apartment. Generally I'm against splitting single family houses into apartments, but at least this lot is a large corner property with lots of parking spots and the property has been very well kept by the Detweiler family to this point. However, this would be the FIRST duplex on that block. According to the new zoning laws, granting this variance would set a precedent for more duplexes on that block. If say, someone bought a pair of the twin houses on that block, they'd then be able to knock them down and build 2 duplexes instead. Moreover, on this block, the houses are almost all homeowner owned. We wouldn't want to see those homeowners move out of Norristown because too many multi-family houses start appearing on that street. So the request could have more ramifications than is first apparent.

310 W Johnson Hwy is part of Logan Square. This building was, I think, last an Italian Restaurant and before that, and Auto Service Center. It's been empty for decades. Forman Sign Company is seeking a variance to allow for 6’1” x 18’ ¼” illuminated wall sign. No mention of whether the store has finally been rented. I hope it has, because all boarded up, it looks awful. Right now there's a Plymouth Produce sign on the front of the building, so perhaps they're simply swapping out that sign for one that lights up. Or perhaps the sign is more for the entrance to the lot than for the building. I'll be interested to hear the real story.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day, Fourth Friday, Calling All Landlords, and More

Today is FOURTH FRIDAY. Start your Memorial Day Weekend Downtown. Come to the Public Square for lunch between noon and 2 pm (food trucks and vendors--Diva's Kitchen will be on hand), then come after 5 pm to enjoy international cuisine, live music or Salsa Dancing on Cherry St. Free parking on the streets after 6 pm. No cover charges. The evening schedule is listed above.

Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm, the Historical Society of Montgomery County will hold a public Memorial Day Ceremony at Montgomery Cemetery, One Hartranft Ave. (turn onto Hartranft from West Main and follow it 3 blocks to the end). Opening remarks by County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. President of the Norristown Municipal Council Linda Christian will lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Wreath laying will be conducted at several monuments and a Rose Petal Ceremony will take place at the Zook GAR Post site. All children are invited to take place in the Rose Petal Ceremony. Light refreshment will follow at the Gatehouse. Questions, call Karen Wolfe at 610-272-0297 or email

Allen Reynolds Band

Sunday from 7 to 9 pm -- The Summer Concert Series at the bandshell in Elmwood Park kicks off with the Allen Reynolds band. FREE concert. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Refreshments will be sold.

Monday from noon to 1 pm at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the Public Square (Main and Swede), the Hancock Society will hold a Memorial Day Ceremony and present their 2015 W.S. Hancock Award.

Tuesday at 8:30 am, the Norristown Business Association hosts their monthly breakfast meeting at the Stony Creek Office Center, Building #2, upstairs (enter by the side door). This month's speaker is from Citizens' Bank and the topic is banking services for businesses. CADCOM will also be featured. RSVP to

Tuesday at 7 pm in Municipal Hall, Zoning Board Hearing. The agenda is posted at this link

Wednesday at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit's Valley Forge Room (2 W Lafayette, 1st Floor), the New Horizons Collaborative will hold 2 sessions (9 am to noon and 1-4 pm) for Norristown Landords. Topics include the Revised Rental Application Process, What Triggers an Inspection, How to Avoid Citations, the ABCs of Zoning and more. Landlords will have an opportunity to voice their concerns as well. RSVP to 610-270-0470 or  (Note: I'll be curious to hear how many of our landlords actually attend. I would love to see this kind of thing be mandatory.)

Thursday at 5:30 pm at Camp Xtreme will hold an Open House at MontCo OIC (1101 Arch Street #2). Come learn about their full day, 8-week STEAM program. Parents may also complete registration paperwork as well as pay your deposit at the open house. For more information, call 610-279-9700. To learn more about our program, please visit

Thursday from 5-7:30 pm at the Norristown Public Library (Swede and Powell), Dr. Umar Johnson presents "Pennsylvania Black Parents Meeting: Know Your Rights." Information at 267-225-5238 or

Next Friday (May 29), the Kimberton Arts Alliance presents Le Jazz Hot, Jazz Vocal Series at Theatre Horizon (401 Dekalb). Featuring Alita Moses with the Kevin MacConnell Trio. Reception at 6:30 pm, concert at 8 pm. $45 per person includes wine, beer and hors-d'oeuvre. Tickets at the door or

Next Saturday (May 30th) is Free Community Shred Day from 9 am to 1 pm at Matt Bradford's Office, 1846 Markley. Bring your sensitive information for shredding and disposal in a secure, environmentally safe manner. More info call 610-270-1150.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Council Agenda for Tonight

Because of the election yesterday, Council's usual Tuesday meeting is tonight instead. You can view the agenda at this link. Here's most of it summarized. Note, there IS a public hearing. However, there's not enough info posted to actually tell us what the hearing is about. Council will vote on the issue directly following the hearing.

Proposed Ordinance 15‑05 – amending the Norristown Zoning Ordinance to provide new provisions governing telecommunications facilities in Norristown.

Planning/Municipal Development
VOTE: Approve or disapprove Ordinance 15‑05 amending the Norristown Zoning Ordinance governing telecommunications facilities in Norristown.

Public Safety
VOTE: Approve or disapprove Resolution 15‑123 regarding the amendments to the Civil Service Rules & Regulations as recommended by the Norristown Civil Service Commission.

VOTE: Approve or disapprove the certified lists for Police Promotions to  Lieutenant, Sergeant and Corporal and entry level Firefighter as provided by the Norristown Civil Service Commission.

Public Works
VOTE: Approve or disapprove Resolution 15‑120 authorizing an Agility Agreement, for the provision of road repair in exchange for street sweeping, with PennDot (pending legal review). (Not sure quite what this means, but on the surface it looks like a long-range plan to finally fix our streets by swapping out street cleaning services. I'd be okay with keeping my one little parking spot in front of my house clean if, say, Swede Street could finally be fixed.)

VOTE: Approve or disapprove Resolution 15‑122 regarding the disposition of fleet vehicles by public online auction for fleet vehicles past their useful life.

Items for discussion

April Monthly Executive Reports.

So that's it. If you're going, the meeting is at 6:30 pm in Municipal Hall.

Monday, May 18, 2015

School Board Director Candidates

The problem I have writing a blog about School Board Candidates is that none of them ever put up a website or Facebook page stating their positions. So every time we vote for school board, I have to wait for a candidates' forum to try to get some answers. I have to believe if none of them use technology for their campaigns, then maybe none of them have a good grasp of it, and that worries me about people who want to be in charge our children's education, which OUGHT to, especially, include technology.

The forum last Thursday night at the Human Resources Center DIDN'T answer most of my questions. In fact, the representative of the Democratic Committee who hosted the event cut off all questions to the school board candidates part way through simply because there was a heckler in the audience. The heckler should have been asked to leave so the rest of us could hear what the school board candidates had to say. So all I can do is report on the candidates opening remarks and the 3 candidates who answered questions before they were all silenced. Some spoke quickly, so I might have missed something. I apologize. Did the best I could.

First, though, I want to mention one thing that greatly disturbed me at the beginning of the forum. Two candidates for Common Pleas Court judge were present--Natasha Taylor Smith and Todd Eisenburg. When they were introduced, they both stood and said that people should vote for them because they're Democrats. No other reason given. For the record, I'M a Democrat, and I lean toward the more liberal side of the party, but I, for one, want my judges--especially in the Common Pleas Court--to be fair and impartial to EVERYONE. A judicial candidate saying vote for me because I'm a Democrat is no different in my mind than judicial candidates saying vote for me because they're white, or because they're Christian, or because they represent any other segment of the population. It's entirely inappropriate to make a statement like that, and I'm not voting for anyone who believes that kind of thinking is okay for a judge. So Natasha and Todd, you lost my vote.

courtesy Times Herald
But back to the School Board. There are 6 candidates. All but one are listed on both Republican and Democratic ballots. You can choose up to five of them, or write-in up to 5 candidates. I present them in the order that they gave their opening remarks.

George Kennedy - Lives in East Norriton. Only listed on the Democratic ballot. Retired teacher who has years of experience in elementary up through college level teaching. Worked for Conrail before teaching and feels that gives him experience in keeping within a budget.

Louis W. Mason - From Conshohocken, now living in West Norriton. Retired teacher, 36 years in education. Taught all levels and also was a principal in Chester Schools.

Michael Melnyck - Currently on School Board. Lives in East Norriton. Parent of NASD student. Works as Service Manager.

Janice Pearce - Currently on School Board. Has been on the board for 12 years. Lives in Norristown. Retired school librarian. Worked in NASD schools for 34 years, 27 of which were at the high school. Specialty in Special Ed. She's also a grant writer.

Sandra White - Lives in West Norriton. Has worked 35 years in the insurance industry. Did not mention education experience.

Tiffani Hendley - Lives in Norristown. Parent of NASD student. Currently enrolled as education major at Harkum College.

The first question asked about NASD test scores as compared to surroundings districts.

Janice Pearce answered that comparing us to surrounding districts is like comparing apples to oranges. She thought it better to compare ourselves to ourselves each year--in other words, have we improved and how much have we improved? (Note: see my Diary entry of November 2014, "NASD SCHOOLS PUMPED UP THEIR TEST SCORES" for facts and figures.)

The rest of the candidates declined to answer that question.

The second question asked the candidates thoughts on Charter Schools versus Public Schools.

Janice Pearce was again the first to jump in with an answer. She said she supported "choice" (which I suppose means parents' choice of which type of school to send their children to, as opposed to the taxpayers' choice of which type of school they want their money to support). Pearce did say that everyone had to realize that charter schools weren't  free--that they did cost the district a good amount of money. She also mentioned that the board had declined the last charter school proposal and mentioned that the district supports a virtual charter school (ie, the students attend it online).

Sandra White said she also supports "choice." She said "Look at the quality of our schools," but did not give specifics.

Louis Mason said he also supported "choice" but that we had to remember that charter schools often do not offer the same programs as the public schools.

The other candidates declined to answer this question.

A note of my own here: none of them mentioned that charter schools don't have to be accountable for the tax dollars they spend and public schools do. Charter schools also don't have to educate any child they don't want to. Public schools have to educate every child and take back the children frequently rejected by charters. In this way, charters can manipulate their test scores upward.

The next question asked if the candidates were aware of current legislation in Harrisburg to reduce property taxes. None of the candidates seemed to know about it. The heckler in the audience at this point demanded that all candidates answer yes or no. That's when the host interrupted the moderator and cut off all discussion. I don't believe the question was relevant anyway, because our school board has no power over legislators in Harrisburg. But, the fact is that the state house passed a bill 4 days ago designed to reduce property taxes by raising the income tax and possibly the sales tax. It also seems to allow districts to add an earned income tax of their own. This bill goes on to the state senate next and must pass there before becoming law, so it may never happen. At this early stage, you can't blame anyone for not knowing about it.  I didn't until I looked it up after the forum. If you want to read the wording for yourself, it's at this link.

No Diary tomorrow. I'm getting up super-early to go clerk at the 3-3 polling place. If you vote at Eisenhower, stop by and say hello. Get out and vote.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Candidates for State Supreme Court Justice

The State Supreme Court is the highest judicial tribunal in Pennsylvania. They exclusively hear appeals. Basically, if you lose a case in the Common Pleas Court, you can usually appeal it all the way up the ladder through the Commonwealth or Superior Court to the State Supreme Court, assuming you can afford to do so. The thing about this office is that if a candidate has been a judge in one of the other 2 appellate courts, it's a given that they already have the training and experience to do this job. What you should decide is if other candidates like Common Pleas Judges or other attorneys would be able to jump past the intermediary courts to hold the highest state position.

On next Tuesday's ballot, there are 12 individuals running for the office--6 on the Republican ballot and 6 on the Democratic ballot. Of the 6 on your ballot, you'll be asked to choose 3. The 3 who win on each side will appear in on the ballot in the fall election. I've included a link for each candidate's bio, their current position and where they're from. If you want to know anymore, use the link yourself. Please don't contact me to do your research for you.

On the REPUBLICAN ballot:

Coreale Stevens - He's the incumbent, running for reelection. State Supreme Court Judge since 2013. He has no website that I could find. Lives in Northeastern PA.

Anne Covey - Currently a judge on the Commonwealth Court. Office is in Doylestown.

Rebecca Warren - District Attorney in Montour County (near Wilkes-Barre).

Mike George - Currently the President Judge of the Adams County Court of Common Pleas. Lives near Gettysburg.

Cheryl Allen - Superior Court Judge since 2007. From Pittsburgh.

Judy Olson - Superior Court Judge since 2009. From Pittsburgh area.

On the DEMOCRATIC ballot:

David Wecht - Superior Court Judge since 2012. Court of Common Pleas before that since 2003. From Pittsburgh.

Christine Donahue - Superior Court Judge since 2007. From Pittsburgh.

Kevin Dougherty - Currently Administrative Judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

John Henry Foradora - President Judge of Common Pleas, Jefferson County (western PA, near Clarion).

Anne Lazarus - Superior Court Judge since 2009. Lives in Philadelphia.

Dwayne D. Woodruff - Judge of Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County. His website talks more about his career as a Pittsburgh football player than his judicial qualifications.

Friday, May 15, 2015


The most important event this week is PRIMARY ELECTION DAY! Don't forget to vote. Come and choose the candidates who'll be on the ballot in the November election. Don't let your neighbors decide for you. Voting gives you the power to change things. If you vote at Eisenhower, I'll be clerking at the 3-3 table. Stop by and say hello.

Saturday is the Norristown Men of Excellence 2nd Annual Excellence Ball, 8 pm-midnight at Theatre Horizon (410 Dekalb). Tickets $50 per person, $90 per couple. All proceeds benefit the NMOE Scholarship Fund. Contact or call 484-601-2828. Info at

Sunday afternoon at Jus' Java (317 Swede), Acoustic Open Mic. For info call 610-277-5282. Or just drop by after noon to listen.

Tuesday is PRIMARY ELECTION DAY. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. You can view a sample ballot at this link. I'll post more candidate info tomorrow and Monday, but help yourself by googling the candidates' names and reading their bios. It's easy.

Tuesday from 7-9 pm - A four-week workshop on Beginning Genealogy presented by Genealogist Rose Brown at the Historical Society of Montgomery County, 1654 Dekalb St. $15 non-members, $10 members. This workshop is set up for those wishing to learn the basic techniques of genealogy research. Continues May 26th, June 2nd and 9th. 610-272-0297,

Wednesday, at 6:30 pm, Council meeting (Wednesday due to the election on Tuesday). Municipal Hall. No agenda yet.

Wednesday, 8 pm at Jus' Java (317 Swede), Open Words. All artists welcome. $10 at door, $5 online at

Next Friday (May 22nd), kick off your Memorial Day Weekend at FOURTH FRIDAY Downtown. Come to the Public Square for lunch between noon and 2 pm (food trucks and vendors--Diva's Kitchen will be on hand), then come back after 5 pm to enjoy international cuisine and live music at your choice of FIVE venues, or Salsa Dancing on Cherry St. Free parking on the streets after 6 pm. Here's the FOURTH FRIDAY evening schedule so far:

5-7 pm – Sessano’s Café & Deli (500 Swede) – Award-winning Italian sandwiches and live music.
5-9 pm – Banh Mi Bar & Bistro (31 W. Main) – Vietnamese cuisine and live acoustic music.
7-9 pm – Salsa on Cherry Street (216 Cherry, 2nd floor)– Salsa lessons 7-8 pm ($7 per person) followed by free dancing.
8-10 pm – Las Palmas Del Sur (10 W. Main) - Mexican cuisine and live Mexican music.
8-10 pm – Jus’ Java (317 Swede) – Open Mic Night. Gourmet coffee, tea and café food.
10-midnight – Almaz Café (24 W Main) – Ethiopean/American cuisine and live music.

A heads up for May 30 -- Community paper shredding event at the office of Matt Bradford, Logan Square. More details next week but start gathering your old bank statements and tax papers to recycle.

CADCOM is currently soliciting vendors from both for-profit and nonprofit businesses and service providers for their June 27th Community Day at Oak Street Park (Oak and Arch Sts) from noon to 5 pm (rain date June 28). Vendors can set up tables to sell items and promote their organizations. For-profit vendor fee is $15 per space. CADCOM would also apreciate financial or in-kind donations and volunteers. Contact Heather Lewis, 610-277-6363 x166 for more info and a vendor form.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Candidates for Judge of Common Pleas Court

Here's more ballot information. For Common Pleas Court judges, all candidates are attorneys. I looked on their websites for specific trial experience, especially experience in Montco's Common Pleas Court. I also put where they're from if I could find it, not that it should really matter for this post. I included a link to their websites if you want to learn more. Just click on their names. Again, you can see your sample ballot at this link.

All candidates for this position are listed on both Republican and Democratic ballots. You'll choose three out of a field of six.

Rise Vetri Ferman - Montgomery County District Attorney since 2008. Born in Philadelphia. Grew up in Abington and still lives there. Worked as a prosecutor the last 22 years.

Dan Clifford - Trial lawyer. Family law litigator for more than 30 years. Appeared before Common Pleas judges in 13 counties (including each of the 20 judges on the Montgomery County bench) and on appeals before the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Couldn't find where he lives.

Stephen Heckman - Chief Public Defender of Montgomery County for 4 years until 2012, Assistant Public Defender for 13 years before that. Currently a litigator in his own law firm. Lives in Upper Dublin.

Natasha Taylor-Smith - Trial attorney for almost 20 years. Currently representing the county in contract and real estate issues. Philadelphia native. Resident of Cheltenham.

Todd Eisenberg - Lives in Lower Moreland. Instructor of trial advocacy for Temple and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. Works in a voluntary capacity for the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project, representing children in PFA hearings, dependency matters and as a witness in criminal cases.

Gregory Cirillo - From Lower Merion. A lot of sentences on his Facebook bio, but "litigator of complex legal cases" and "court of Common Pleas arbitrator" were as specific as I could find. His website is one page saying he was working at launching a full website and nothing more so the link is for his Facebook page.

As with all other offices, you can write-in candidates. For this office, you can write-in up to three names.

UPDATE: About 15 minutes after I posted this, someone tried to pressure me to list each candidates personal party affiliation. If you want to know that or anything else about the candidates, feel free to click on the links to their websites and find it for yourselves if it's listed. However, it seems clear to me that I need to explain what a Common Pleas Court judge does. They are the first level of trial in criminal and civil cases (Magisterial Judges do hearings, not trials). They first and foremost work with lawyers and their clients to reach a settlement out of court. If cases go to trial, their job is to interpret the law at that level and explain it to the jurors who will decide the cases. Or some cases can be put before the judge without a jury. But their decisions can be reviewed in an appeal if they seem unfair to either side. These judges do NOT deal with changes to the constitution. They are NOT part of a voting body like Congress where party matters. What  you should be more concerned with is whether each candidate will be tougher or more lenient in their decisions (based on their past experience--ie, were they prosecutors or defenders), and which of those options you'd prefer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Candidates for Magisterial District Judge

I've started checking out the ballots for next Tuesday's primary election. You can view a sample at this link--just choose Norristown from the list and click "submit," then choose where you vote. But I warn you, you'll have to zoom in to read it. It's huge this time around.

Today, I'm going to take a look at the Magisterial District Judge Candidates for the new district court opening in Norristown. These candidates ONLY appear on the ballots for all of ward 3 and 2-2. If you're in ward 1 or 2-1, you'll see the incumbent, Fran Lawrence, running unopposed on your ballot (though, remember, you can always write in a candidate if you want. Instructions in the second to last paragraph below). For ward 4 and 2-3, you won't see the office on your ballots at all.

I checked the candidates' websites and Facebook pages, looking specifically for this information: relationship to Norristown, college degrees, experience directly related to law, courts, criminals, etc. Here's what I found.

Valerie Scott Cooper is listed on the Democratic Primary Ballot only.
- Born and raised in Norristown. Graduated from Norristown High School.
- B.A. in Organizational Management.
- MBA with concentration in HR Management.
- Member Norristown Town Watch.
- On her list of positions and volunteer posts (on her Facebook page), I could find no direct law or judge-related experience

Bernard Murray is listed on both the Republican and Democratic Primary Ballot.
- Has made Norristown his home for the last 23 years.
- No college degrees listed on his website or Facebook page that I could find.
- Received his certification from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for the position of Magisterial District Judge (I assume this means he took the Board Class and Exam, though he didn't say so).
- Attended the Jurist Academy at Widener University Law School. Jurist Academy is a 2 week, tuition-free law-school prep seminar. (The way it was worded on Murray's website, it sounded as if he'd attended Widener Law School. He didn't as far as I could tell--Just the Jurist Academy.)

Greg Scott is listed on both the Republican and Democratic Primary Ballot.
- Norristown homeowner and lifelong resident.
- Bachelors degree in Business Communications.
- Masters of Science in Psychology.
- Served on various commissions and committees with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
- Intern in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
- Clerk with the Magisterial District Judge.
- Took the Minor Judiciary Education Board Class and Examination, and received his certification from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for the position of Magisterial District Judge.

It should be pointed out that anyone elected to the position MUST take the above mentioned exam before they can serve as district judge. Only two of the candidates seem to have done that so far. Should the third candidate win, she'll have to take the exam and pass before being allowed to serve.

WRITE-IN INSTRUCTIONS:  You can, of course, add a write-in of your own by clicking the box next to WRITE-IN and typing the name on the keyboard at the bottom. The person must live within the district and be a voter in good standing. Spell the name correctly or it may not count. (This procedure goes for any office on the ballot.) If you're still not sure how to do it, you can ask the machine operator how.

To meet these and candidates for Municipal Council and NASD School Board, come to the Human Services Building (Dekalb and Fornance) on Thursday from 6-7:30 pm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Free Skin Cancer Screenings

This Friday, Mercy Cancer Center (2701 Dekalb Pike--Mercy Hospital in East Norriton) will offer FREE skin cancer screenings from 8:30 to 11:30 am.

Pre-registration is REQUIRED. You can call 610-278-2504 to make an appointment.

The screenings will be done by Dr. Harold Milstein, who is a board-certified dermatologist, in partnership with the American Academy of Dermatology..

Monday, May 11, 2015

Recycle and Earn Discounts

I think everyone's received their trash and recycling bins by now. What at least half of you probably didn't receive was a mailing from Mascaro with the new instructions for trash and recycling collection.

They're addressed to the homeowner, which is great if you own and live in your home, but 59% of Norristown residents rent. My brother's one of them and he didn't get a mailing. His likely went to his landlord. Even if you rent and your landlord is living nearby, and conscientious enough to pass on the mailing to you, well, if you have more than one apartment in the house you live in, your landlord will need to be extra conscientious and make copies for all of his tenants. I don't see that happening in most cases. So Mascaro get's a "D-minus" in disseminating information.

If you didn't get a mailing, call 1-800-432-1616 and request one be delivered to you.

Now, let me take a moment to report on the one thing I LIKE about the new program--the recycling part.

The mailing lists all the things we should be recycling, and it's a much longer list than before. Besides, the usual glass, aluminum and tin cans, plastic bottles, cardboard, etc., they're now taking all plastics #1-7, phonebooks, aluminum pie plates,  trays and foil, plastic plant pots, paper bags, paper and plastic cups, newspaper, junk mail, magazines, over-the-counter pill bottles, loose plastic lids over 3 inches wide, milk and juice cartons, plastic takeout containers, and bagged plastic bags.

By "bagged bags" they mean don't put them in the recycling container loose. They'll just blow around town on collection days. Stuff your plastic bags into one bag. When it's full, tie the handles together and throw it in the bin that way. But DON'T bag anything else (such as soda cans, paper, etc.). They get sorted at the facility and they want them loose and separate to make that easier. They won't take recycles in bags.

You still have to flatten cardboard cartons. Smaller boxes like cereal boxes are shown whole, so I guess it's okay to put them in that way. Loose lids need to be wider than 3 inches, but I think smaller lids are okay if they're attached to bottles and jars.

Also, be careful of personal information that's on any papers you recycle. Things like bank statements should be put aside for shredding (assuming Montgomery County ever has another shredding event near Norristown. They have plenty out in the 'burbs, but none near us for years). UPDATE: This just in--Representative Bradford is having a shredding event at his office on May 30th. I'll post more next week.

The items listed on the mailing and those on Mascaro's website aren't the same, so who knows if they'll really recycle everything they say they will. I'm putting it all out anyway.

The thing I like best is that Mascaro has an incentive program to encourage residents to recycle. Residents can sign up at their website ( and earn points which can be redeemed at local businesses listed at this link.

Points are determined by community-wide recycling. That is, they weigh the TOTAL amount Norristown recycles, then somehow determine how many points to give participating households. I suspect they'll divide the total amount by number of residences, so I doubt we'll get more than 5 points a week unless most of N-town really meets the challenge and starts filling those recycling bins.

To get your share of the points, go to and sign up. You need to use a valid email address for a username. Then step up your recycling and encourage your neighbors to do the same.

I have to say, I think our Council reps need to take a hand in telling their constituents about the recycling program. Or maybe people working outside at the polls next Tuesday could hand out copies of Mascaro's mailing along with all their election literature (which hopefully will end up in our recycling bins instead of our trash).

Please do your part and share this blog with your Norristown friends. Thanks.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Entertain Mom, then Get To Know Your Candidates

It really feels like summer out there now, and there's lots to do in town. Take Mom out this weekend to Theatre Horizon, or the Zoo Brunch or Carnival, or for jazz at August Moon.

Tonight, 5-10 pm at Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd, don't miss their Season Kickoff Carnival. Games, food and fun in the zoo's lower parking lot. The carnival continues Saturday, noon-10 pm and Sunday, noon-5 pm. Mother's Day Special: Mom's ride for FREE on Sunday. For more information, contact Guest Services at 610-277-3825 x 222 or email

Only 3 more performances for Theatre Horizon's IN THE BLOOD: Tonight at 8 pm and tomorrow at 2 and 8 pm. Tickets and information at this link.

Saturday from 11 am to about 4 pm, the Norristown Preservation Society will host a cleaning day at Selma Mansion (1301 W Airy) to get the house ready for History Day in the summer. Volunteers are needed and so are donations of cleaning supplies. You don't have to stay the whole day. Come when you can. 

Saturday at 11 am and Sunday at 11 am and 1 pm, Elmwood Park Zoo is hosting a Mother's Day Brunch. Bring the whole family to the Zoo for a delicious all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, complimentary family photos, card making and more!  Tickets - Adult: $30.95, Member Adult: $25.95, Moms: $19.95, Child (age 3 - 12): $19.95, Baby (under 3): FREE. You can purchase tickets and get more information at this link, or contact Guest Services at 610-277-3825 x222 or email

Also Saturday, 8-10 pm at August Moon (300 E Main), Crying Sam presents Pre-Mothers' Day Crooning with Steve Beskrone (Bass), Jim Holton (Piano), Harry Butch Reed (Drums), Kevin L. Valentine (Vocals). Entertainment Fee: $10, 2 Drink Minimum. Info at

Tuesday at 6 pm, Town Watch Meeting at Montgomery Hose Fire Co, West Freedley St. All residents are welcome to attend.

Tuesday at 7 pm, Carver Center Community Meeting at the Center at 249 East Jacoby. On the agenda: Summer aquatics program, finance update, summer science program (my favorite), and the Grand Opening Anniversary Celebration. All community members are urged to attend. For information, call 610-272-7480.

Tuesday at 7 pm, Planning Commission Meeting at Municipal Hall. No agenda yet.

Thursday, 6-7:30 pm, come meet the Norristown candidates for Municipal Council, Magistrate District Judge, NASD School Board at the Human Services Building (Dekalb and Fornance) Receive voter information and be informed before the May Primary (on May 19th).

Thursday, from 5-7:30 pm at Elmwood Park Zoo's Canopy Garden Pavilion. Montogomery County Chamber of Commerce will hold their 10th Annual Zoopendous Business Expo. Food, fun, prizes and plenty of local businesses.

Thursday, 6-8 pm, "Art Saves Me" at Theatre Horizon (401 DeKalb).  An Art showcase featuring Artwork from Norristown Youth. Art, poetry/spoken work, fun. Artwork will be for sale from $5-$30. For more information, please contact Justeix Collins-Cropper at 610-630-2111 ext 218 or Viviann Schorle at 610-630-2111 ext 257.

A symposium on Urban/Suburban Education is being planned for July 11, cosponsored by the Norristown Men of Excellence, One Love Club, and Catalyst Education & Mentoring. The deadline for the call for presenters is next Friday, May 15th (but will most likely be extended through the 29th). Anyone interested should contact Xaras Collins at 610-390-7279. More information at

Next Saturday (May 16) is the Norristown Men of Excellence 2nd Annual Excellence Ball, 8 pm-midnight at Theatre Horizon (410 Dekalb). Tickets $50 per person, $90 per couple. All proceeds benefit the NMOE Scholarship Fund.  Contact or call 484-601-2828. Info at

Have a Happy Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

News About Norristown's Great Food

I just wanted to catch everyone up on the good new things that are happening with Norristown restaurants.

First, Sessano's Cafe & Deli opened at their second location yesterday--downtown at Airy and Swede, where Courthouse Grill used to be. You can still find them in their original location, in Logan Square, on Markley to the right of Impact. I highly recommend their award-winning roast pork sandwiches. They specialize in Italian sandwiches (pork, meatball, sausage and their "special") and also have other hot and cold sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups, etc. In their new location, they'll be participating in Fourth Fridays Downtown this month. Join me in wishing them good luck in the new place. You can view their menu at this link.

Zachary's BBQ, on Markley Street next to Astor Plaza, partnered with Feed The Burbs landscaping company over the winter. They planted an herb garden in front of the restaurant, doing community gardening workshops through the process. The herb garden is now in and Chef Keith Taylor invites everyone to come, check it out and learn a little about how food gets from the garden to the table. Zachary's is also planning an expansion of their shop--stay tuned. They specialize in soul food and barbecue, and even smoke their own meats out back. What do I recommend? Just about everything, but I'm particularly fond of their pulled pork, their baked beans (made with pineapple), and their hoppin' john (black-eyed peas with rice and peppers). See their menu at this link.

Diva's Kitchen is in the process of moving to 9 W. Main Street--into the old McDivitt's Pharmacy building, next to the big bank building at Main and Swede. They were in the North End at Johnson Highway and Pine. They should be in their new place in June (hopefully in time to participate in Fourth Friday), but in the meantime, this month they were serving up their fried chicken, fish and soul food sides at the Public Square last Fourth Friday from noon to two (and hopefully will be doing the same this month on May 22nd). They offer a wide range of entrees--chicken, seafood, pork chops, turkey wings, burgers, etc., as well as salads and a few different soul food sides than you'll find at Zachary's. They also have salads, soups and sandwiches. I especially like their cabbage, but their sweet potatoes are my hands down favorite--best in Norristown. You can check out their menu at this link.

Yesterday I had amazing pineapple ice cream. Where from? Banh Mi Bar & Bistro at 31 W. Main. This month until May 25, they're giving away FREE ice cream in waffle cones when you come in and dine between 6 and 8 pm. The ice cream is fresh and local, from Tanner Bros. Diary in Richboro, PA. Banh Mi has started offering different giveaways and specials almost nightly, which you can find on their Facebook page. Banh Mi specializes in Vietnamese cuisine, particularly in the sandwich that gives the restaurant its name. Banh Mi is the Vietnamese word for bread, specifically the baguette. Wait, that's French, right? The French colonized what is now Vietnam and greatly influenced the cooking. So the Banh Mi is sort of like a hoagie, served on a baguette, with meat or fish, but garnished with fresh vegetables. You can also get the stuffings served as sliders or tacos. Other offerings include pho soup (I LOVE their chicken pho), rice or noodle bowls, and some unique items like quail and waffles, whole prawns, plus banana rolls for dessert. If they do their crawfish festival again this summer, go to it. Last year I got crawfish in cheese and garlic, sort of like a scampi--it was delicious. Banh Mi also participates in Fourth Fridays. Check out their menu at this link.

So there is just some of what's going on with our restaurants. I should mention that they're all family businesses, and they all do catering as well. I just realized, it's Cinco de Mayo and I didn't mention one Mexican restaurant. Okay, I promise I'll try to post about them and other places in the coming weeks. Get out and try some of these great eateries.

But today, maybe go eat a taco.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Council's Short Agenda This Week

Not much of great importance on Council's agenda for tomorrow night. You can read the whole agenda at this link. The meeting is at 7:30 pm, Tuesday, in Municipal Hall.

They're voting on only 4 items:

1. Approval for a temporary construction easement within the Access  easement Area for the purpose of constructing the emergency access lane regarding 900 Sandy Street now known as 900 Luxor Lane. I suppose "Sandy Street" doesn't sound ritzy enough for them.
17 East Airy

2. Approval of the usual requests for handicapped parking signs and to remove ones confirmed as no longer needed.

223 East Oak
3. The most important item: acceptance of the audited financial statement for 2011 and 2012. Now we're only 2 years behind.

527 Stanbridge
4. And approval of the HARB certificates for 17 East Airy, 223 East Oak, 527 Stanbridge, and 501 Astor. The HARB board oversees changes to the facades of buildings in our historic districts to make sure they'll still look historic after renovations. It's great that these properties ARE being renovated (though hopefully not being chopped up into more apartments inside). I always loved the 2nd floor side porch on 501 Astor.
501 Astor

So that's it. Should be a short meeting.

Friday, May 1, 2015

2 Carnivals This Week and Much More

Today from noon to 1 pm, the Montgomery County Police Memorial Service will take place at Main and Swede Streets.

Tonight from 6 to 10 pm and tomorrow from 2-10 pm at St. Francis Church, Marshall and Buttonwood, Annual Carnival. Food, fun, games, rides.

Only NINE more performances for Theatre Horizon's IN THE BLOOD: Tonight and tomorrow at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 and 7:30 pm, Monday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Next Friday at 8 pm and next Saturday at 2 and 8 pm. Tickets and information at this link.

Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm at Elmwood Park Band Shell, the Crying Sam Elmwood Jam 4 The Hill. 7 bands, Times Herald’s presentation of the third annual Montco Idol Contest, Gretz Beer, food vendors. For more information go to this link. If you go, please remember that this isn't downtown, it's a residential area. Please be respectful of the neighbors and their properties.

Saturday from 1-3 pm at Jus' Java (317 Swede), book signing with Author David Child and his book "Santa Visits, Not What You Expect." Bring your children or someone else's. Free parking on weekends. Info about book at Also, don't forget Jus' Java's Sunday Live Music Series. Free live music in the afternoon on Sunday..

Tuesday at 7:30 pm, Council Meeting at Municipal Hall. No agenda yet.

Thursday, 5-10 pm at Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Blvd. Season Kickoff Carnival. Games, food and fun in the zoo's lower parking lot. Thursday is wristband night. The carnival continues next Friday at 5 pm, and next Saturday and Sunday at noon. For more information, contact Guest Services at 610-277-3825 x222 or email

Thursday, at 7 pm at Eisenhower Middle School. Planning meeting for the Ntown Rhythm Youth Marching band. They need adult volunteer music and dance coaches. If you have an interest please attend the meeting. For info, contact Band Director Jocelyn Gooden Hadrick at