Thursday, January 28, 2016

Emergency Management Briefing - Public Meeting

NOTICE: Tonight from 6:30-8 pm, there will be a meeting at Municipal Hall. Council and staff will be briefed on the status of this week's emergency management and discuss the situation.  This is a public meeting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stop Whining and Do The Math

UPDATE, Thursday, January 28 -- From what I'm hearing around town every street, or nearly so, has been cleared by now. If your street still hasn't been touched, or needs salt, contact Also, from what I'm hearing from the majority of people, thought it took a few days, the end result is that streets were cleaned better than in past snowstorms (see some of my blogs from past winters). My immediate neighborhood certainly looks much better. In the past, if it was touched at all, Astor St. usually only got a quick pass with the plow and wasn't even salted, and it would stay snow or ice covered sometimes for weeks. Yesterday it looked great. I think the municipality did a much better job than in the past and I hope it continues.

One further note, if you're encountering unshoveled sidewalks, that's the responsibility of the homeowners not the borough. Half our properties are landlord owned. Sometimes the tenants will clear walks, but it's ultimately the landlord's responsibility.

Tuesday, Jan 26th: Yesterday morning I logged onto Facebook and was surprised to learn that one of our councilman, Mr. Millner, had apparently talked to NBC10 less than 24 hours after the end of the blizzard to say that Norristown had failed at snow removal. Mr. Millner's a minister. It occurred to me that he of all people ought to understand the concept of "act of God."

Or if you're not so religiously inclined, call it an act of nature. Or a result of climate change. But what you SHOULDN'T call it, or imply that it was (as Mr. Millner and a lot of other whining residents are doing) is a normal snowstorm. It wasn't anywhere near normal.

The National Weather Service says Norristown got 30 inches of snow. That's the 2nd most in my lifetime, beat out only by the Blizzard of 1996. We had a 2-foot snowfall in the mid-sixties and close to that in 1978, but this kind of storm only comes around about once every 20 years (though, it could become more frequent with climate change).

In the Blizzard of 1996, Norristown was at a standstill for a week. No one went anywhere. Our family had to go downtown after 5 days for a viewing and funeral. The streets were deserted, which was just as well, because parking was impossible. Every intersection was marked by a 13 foot pile of snow because nobody knew where else to put it.

So, this time, in less than 24 hours, you folks think all that snow should have miraculously disappeared? Do you think we have a magic snow fairy who takes it away in the middle of the night?

Here's the math. Norristown is 4 square miles. That's 111,513,600 square feet. Two and a half feet of snow fell on it. That's 278 MILLION, 784 THOUSAND cubic feet of the white stuff. That's about 200 million more cubic feet than we're used to receiving in on of our usual bad snowfalls. Sure, some of it's on lawns and roofs, but the rest is someplace where it needs to be moved. It takes time to move that much snow. It takes a little strategy, too, to figure out where to put the snow and how to clear a narrow street without blocking the cars in or dumping snow back onto cleaned walks.

Norristown has more miles of streets than any of the surrounding townships. My best friend in King of Prussia only had her street plowed yesterday. Why are me supposed to be more superhuman than Upper Merion, who doesn't have the same volume of snow to move?  We have narrow streets filled with parked cars. Much more of a challenge than spread out suburban developments. They have lots of room to pile snow, we don't.

Someone on was saying how stupid Council and Public Works was to get rid of small plows because they now had nothing to do the narrow streets with. I don't know where she got her info. It seems to be wrong. I do know that there were front end loaders out doing small streets yesterday--a much better idea than a plow in those spots. The small plow that tried to do my alley ended up leaving a huge mountain of snow partially blocking my drive. Small plows don't work in this kind of situation. The front end loaders are slower but a much better solution.

I think it's too soon to say if Norristown is or isn't doing a good job with snow removal. We're only 3 days away from the blizzard. This is a special situation. I think our Public Works workers have been doing as excellent a job as they can. They were out all during the blizzard, working long shifts, getting emergency vehicles unstuck, getting doctors and nurses to area hospitals, and still managing to make plow passes on our major arteries. The plow crew that went down Fornance Street Sunday morning looked absolutely exhausted. They're human, they're doing the best they can, and I thank them for it. Give them the recognition they deserve instead of grief. They're heroes.

I'm going to point out another hero, Buck Jones, and his friends who, instead of whining have been out around town helping people dig out. That should be everyone's response. Help your neighbors. Make sure the elderly are dug out enough so they can at least have someone pick them up or get deliveries of food and medicine. I know the majority of N-town residents are all doing the right thing and riding this out with common sense.

The rest of you need to calm yourselves. Be patient. Slow down. We've been hit by a tremendous act of nature. Municipal Hall didn't cause it. Council didn't cause it. You need to adapt for a week instead of stamping your feet. If your street still isn't cleared by, say Feburary 1, fine, then rant all you want.
Fornance St, Wednesday morning Jan 27. See comment and reply below.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Events (But Stay Home Instead)

Once again, hardly anything going on this week in town, which is a good thing, because of the snowstorm.  Hopefully most of us will be out and about by Monday (though alleys don't get plowed, so those of us who must park behind our houses will see you in the spring). As for the events below, I'd call ahead to make sure they haven't been cancelled or postponed.

Need a snow day activity? Go to this link and vote for the Montco Happenings you liked best this past year.  Selma Ghost Tours, Riverfest, and Winter Wonderland were all nominated again (weirdly, Winter Wonderland says Worcester. It should be Norristown.) Check out the other categories, too. You can add favorite places or events. Let's put Norristown on the Happenings map.

If you were planning to go to Salsa on Cherry Street Saturday, it's been cancelled due to weather.

Monday from 7-9 pm at Montgomery County Human Services (1430 Dekalb), Free Home Buying Basics class sponsored by Genesis Housing. Learn about realtors, agreements of sale, mortgages, inspections and more. Learn about grant and loan programs for homebuyers.

Tuesday, noon at Casa Bonita, the Norristown Schuylkill Rivertown Action Committee is meeting to discuss art on the trail. If you'd like to be involved, RSVP to Lizzie Hessek at The Rivertown Committee is under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

Tuesday, 6:30-8:30 pm, The nurses of Mercy Suburban are once again offering a free laundry event at the laundromat in the 800 Block of Dekalb. Free use of washers and dryers for those who need it. Join them for some laundry and conversation.

Tuesday at 7 pm, Zoning Board Hearing at Municipal Hall. Agenda this link. Interestingly, 1529 Dekalb is NOT listed, though I thought they were supposed to take a vote on that (that's the historic Tennis Club building and lot).

ACPPA's Summer Camp Registration is open. This summer's theme is Animal Planet and will encourage campers (ages 3-12) to consider the many ways in which we share this world with other living things and how they inspire us. In addition to intensive creative explorations of visual arts, dance, music, and drama, students will enjoy weekly swimming trips, zoo and aquarium field trips, and visits from special guests. For more information or to register for Animal Planet, visit this link or call the office at 610-277-2270.

Stay home. Enjoy the blizzard from indoors.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Council Agenda - Lafayette Street Extension Presentation

For those willing to brave the cold tonight, there's going to be a presentation about the Lafayette Street Extension Project by Montco Planning at the Council Workshop, 6:30 pm at Municipal Hall. The whole agenda can be read at this link.

Here are some other highlights:

1. The developers of 1 West Main (the old bank building at Main and Swede) are seeking approval for modifications to their original conditional use agreement. The proposed modifications are of course NOT listed on the agenda because that might actually inform the public prior to the meeting. This will be voted on.

2. Council will vote on authorization to execute the Cooperation Agreement for the Redevelopment Authority of Montgomery County. The RACP aids in the provision of affordable housing through applications to state and federal sources.

3. Discussion and possible action regarding bid to repair the Public Works roof. (I assume this is where our PW vehicles are stored.)

4. Discussion on a policy for the use of Municipal Hall facility. I hope this will finally exclude use by one political party or the other to use our hall for partisan purposes. I don't think this has happened lately, but not too long ago certain candidates were having campaign meetings there.

Our Public Square
5. Discussion on the Montgomery County Main Street Campus Project. This sounds as if Montco Community College is moving to N-town, which would be awesome, but I think it refers instead to the courthouse redevelopment. My only concern here is that the public square doesn't shrink or lose what greenness it has left. One of the worse things previous courthouse developments did was to create all those cold concrete spaces that no one wants to use. I hope the remaining trees and grass can stay. And that anything built along Main Street is pedestrian friendly and welcoming, eliminating the no-man zone there now.

Friday, January 15, 2016

MLK Day and Other Events

Again, not much happening in town this week. If it weren't for Martin Luther King Day, I might have skipped posting the events this week altogether. As always, the library has ongoing programs. Check their calendar link in the right column. It's also worth noting that they have a special MLK Day of Service this week--Valentines For Vets. Details below.

Sunday, 12:30 pm at the office of Seiler and Drury (corner of Dekalb and Airy), Norristown Preservation Society will have their first meeting of 2016. Discussion will include restoration plans for Selma, events for the coming year at the mansion, and historic preservation issues around Norristown (like the Tennis Club). New members welcome. If you become a member by January 31, the cost of dues is only $10 per person. Send your check payable to the "Norristown Preservation Society" to Norristown Preservation Society, PO Box 2097, Norristown, 19404 and include your name, address and email so you can receive the newsletter. If you'd like to attend the meeting, please RSVP to Russell Rubert at

Monday from 9 am-noon at Norristown High School Cafeteria. Young Scholars present MLK Day of Diversity. This seems to be for students and their parents. Breakfast, forums, seminar, student performances and art (NAHS Jazz Band, spoken word, artwork). Bus leaves from Eisenhower Middle School at 8:30 am to transport families to the high school.

Monday, 9 am-7:30 pm at the Norristown Library (Powell and Swede) Children's Department. For grades K-6. Drop by the library anytime during the day or evening and make valentines to send to wounded and sick military members in local hospitals. For info, contact 610-278-5100, ext 205 or

Monday, 10 am-3pm, Norristown Project and Montgomery County OIC are teaming up for a MLK Day of Service project. Last I heard, they had all the volunteers they need, however, if you want to be a backup in case someone doesn't show up or cancels out, email They're going to do painting and cleaning at the OIC building (1101 Arch). Besides, I wanted to at least mention the project since The Norristown Project and OIC both deserve recognition for all the great service they do for Norristown.

Monday, 6-9 pm at Municipal Hall (235 E Airy), Martin Luther King Jr. Living the Dream Celebration. Award program with live music. More info call 610-270-0467.

Tuesday at 6:30 pm at Municipal Hall, Council Workshop Meeting. No agenda yet, as usual.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Comedy, Music, Baseball and More

Not too many special events this week but remember, the Library always has something going on. Click on the link in the right column to see those events.

Saturday, January 9 from 8:30-11:30 pm  is Comedy Night at Centre Theater (208 DeKalb). Starving Artist Prevention presenting Jon Koppel in "Wait, Who?" Performances by Brandon Mitchell, Jeff Roser, and Robert Rule. Audience will vote to determine their next headliner. Doors open at 7:30pm, show begins at 8:30pm. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For tickets, call 484-809-4216 or 215-906-0919.

Also Saturday night, 8-11 pm at August Moon, Harry Butch Reed featuring SoulFuego. Doors open at 7 pm. 3 sets on the hour. $10 cover, 2 drink minimum

Monday, 6-8:10 pm in the Eisenhower Middle School Gym,  Norristown Little League Clinic begins. Ages 4-7 (6:15-7 pm), 8-12 (7-8:10 pm) Cost: $25/6 weeks. NLL has partnered with some great local college coaches to work with the kids and run the clinics. For more info contact William Plichta, Recreation Director, 610-270-0467, or go to this link

Also Monday, 7-9 pm, at Montgomery County Human Services (1430 Dekalb), Free class sponsored by Genesis Housing on understanding credit and credit scores. Obtain a Free Credit Report from Major Credit Bureaus with Scores. Learn How to Improve Your Credit Score. Register online at

Tuesday from 5:30-8:30 pm at Montco Intermediate Unit (2 W Lafayette), Introduction to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. A public information session for parents, students, professionals and other community stakeholders. Participants will receive an overview of OVR and the services available. Highlights of the Early Reach Initiative will also be discussed for youth between the ages of 14-21 to engage with OVR at an earlier age. Contact the Early Reach Coordinator: Stephanie Perry at 484-250-4340 ext 161 or

Also Tuesday, 7 pm at Municipal Hall, Planning Commission Meeting. No agenda yet.
Wednesday from 6-7 pm, Norristown Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones is holding a Facebook Live Chat. Go to this link at that time. You need to sign onto Facebook to ask questions, but  you should be able to read along otherwise. I don't think too many people showed up for the chat with Chief Talbot last week (probably too close to the holidays). Here's your second chance to find out what's going on in the borough from the comfort of your own computer.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Council Meeting Monday, Not Tuesday

This week's Council meeting is scheduled for tonight instead of the usual Tuesday meeting. I hope this isn't a permanent change because the agenda usually appears on the calendar on the Monday morning before the meeting. That means we'll be getting less than 24 hours notice of what business will be covered.

The Council Reorganization meeting time has been changed, too. 7 pm instead of 6:30 pm. Oaths of office will be administered to new members. President and Vice President will be elected. Then all the usual extra posts will be appointed: Crandall Jones, Chief Talbot, clerk, secretary, all the directors, attorneys, etc.

The one appointment I find interesting is that Sean Kilkenny is still slated to be Municipal Solicitor. I don't see how he can be Montco Sheriff full-time and still be Norristown's Solicitor. I can see where this might be a conflict of interest in a lot of circumstances. I'd rather have a borough solicitor who doesn't also answer to the county for his regular paycheck. I'd also like to have a sheriff who doesn't have outside distractions.

The regular business is supposed to begin at 7:30. It includes only handicap parking space approvals and HARB ceritificate votes.