Friday, January 16, 2009

"Dear Dingbat ..."

Among the more interesting letters that crossed my desk this week was one from a reader that began:
"An open letter to His Excellency B. Hussein Obama and also to the editors of the once noble and honorable newspaper the Pottstown Mercury which by its violations of the First Amendment of the Constitution under dingbat Nancy has regulated this once honorable paper to trash status akin to the Communist Manifest."
I guess this person thinks I'm a dreaded Liberal. And, I guess he has a low opinion of the president-elect as well.
Dingbat Nancy ...hmmm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Brains are buzzing

The stars are aligned for a news week bar none. Our headline writers' brains are buzzing, as we plan an incredible week of news and sports coverage.
On Tuesday, Barack Obama will be inaugurated the 44th President of the United States, the first African-American. There are endless parallels being drawn to Dr. Martin Luther King, whose birthday will be celebrated Monday, and to Abraham Lincoln, whose call for a new birth of freedom is being echoed.
On Saturday, President-elect Obama will leave by train from Philadelphia, following the route taken by President Lincoln to his inauguration in Washington. On Sunday, more than a dozen local churches will come together in a communitywide celebration of the life of Dr. King.
Every day this week and continuing through the weekend, The Mercury is featuring local involvement in the buildup to history in the making. Staff writer Carl Hessler will be in Washington for coverage of the supercharged atmosphere in the nation's capital. Watch for live coverage from D.C. every day beginning Monday.
Tuesday's paper will include a 16-page special inauguration day section for use in schools. This Newspapers in Education feature will include background on the road President-elect Obama has followed to the White House.
Wednesday's Mercury will be a special commemorative edition of inauguration coverage. Staff writer Evan Brandt and photographer John Strickler will be on a bus of Pottstonians headed to the capital, recounting their reaction to this milestone marking the start of an era of hope and change.
And speaking of hope and change ... how 'bout those Eagles?
The Birds are in an NFC championship game Sunday, and The Mercury will feature a 12-page special Game Day section previewing the matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. Monday's paper will feature complete game coverage.
The coming week has so much news, it may be more than we can print. So, check out this Web site too for online extras. The Mercury -- in print and online for you.

Singing the recycling bin blues

The invasion of Pottstown has begun.
Residents are being wrestled to the ground, overcome by the invaders’ weight. Homeowners are being held hostage on their properties, as the strange beings block gates and clog alleyways.
The creatures, propelled by wheels, race out of control on inclines. They line borough sidewalks in a show of solidarity, displaying their bold colors and proud insignias.
An army of aliens? Urban gangs -- gasp! -- come to wreak havoc on quiet suburban streets?
No, just a new line of recyling bins to hold down costs and reduce the universal waste stream.
The 65-gallon recycling bins -- 7,776 of them -- were purchased by the borough with a grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the proceeds of a contract with Waste Management for Pottstown Landfill leachate treatment.
Council approved the enhanced recycling program to reduce trash disposal costs and give residents an opportunity to recycle more goods with ease.
The large toters on wheels allow borough residents to put all recycling -- cardboard, paper, newspapers, seven types of plastic, bottles and cans -- into one container. Technology utilized by J.P.Mascaro, the borough’s trash collection vendor, does the separating after the haul has been picked up and compacted.
The recycling initiative is one of the most forward-thinking and beneficial programs this borough council has approved.
If more of the 10,000 tons of trash the borough throws away each year is diverted to recycling or composting, the tipping fee Pottstown pays will go down. That in turn can lower the trash bills sent quarterly to borough property owners.
The bins are user-friendly with pictures of recyclable dos and don’t for the homeowner, and are large enough and mobile enough to accommodate household recycling without carrying overflowing bins to the curb.
What’s not to like?
Well, this is indeed Pottstown, where giving residents $100 bills might prompt some to complain there’s no place to spend them. The fuss over the blue bins last week came to council, where council President David Garner engaged in some trash talk of his own, “ ... if people can’t follow this, it’s a sad statement on the people we have in this community. I just shake my head.”
Councilman Steve Toroney noted that the recycling bins are a solution to rising trash pickup costs. The more people recycle, the less money will have to be spent on landfilling trash.
“With trash, you pay for the pick-up and the disposal,” he said. “This year, the price went up by $5 ... it will keep going up and the only way we can control our own destiny is to recycle more.”
The blue bins are the borough’s bid to make that happen.
The borough has indeed been invaded.
The culprit? Common sense.