unhoused community growing along schuylkill valley trail

Homeless encampment from some area of Pottstown. Photos from #WEBELONG Community Page on Facebook

A lot of times I ignore the posts which appear on the social media app NextDoor. But recently one kind of stopped me in my tracks because it was talking about a growing homeless encampment along the Schuylkill Valley Trail which so many people in our area use.

This post was from someone who am I guessing is a cyclist or a runner who uses the Schuylkill Valley Trail. And then I wondered where did this encampment come from? I have been aware of the ones that come and go in the Pottstown area along the river.

So I called up a friend of mine who runs a food bank in Montgomery County and asked her what was going on. And she said things have gotten so bad that even her food bank on the Main Line has waiting lists to take new people. Between average every day Americans having the ability to get decent jobs and landlords who jack the rents whenever possible and then just evict people, she said there’s a growing crisis for the unhoused everywhere. And in Montgomery County it’s a real crisis and it’s pretty damn big.

My friend told me a story of a homeless person at a Main Line train station. He actually had a job, but he was trying to save enough money so he could find a permanent place to live and insure his car. Thanks to my friend finding out about this guy from another mutual friend, a very nice pastor from a church nearby was able to give this man a hand up and get him off the street.

But that’s just one person helped. And in areas like densely populated urban areas, homelessness is at such a crisis point that it’s overflowing into everyone’s communities. And then in our suburban communities, including Chester County to a degree, homelessness exists and food banks and food pantries are being stretched unbelievably hard. There are a lot of people in need right now. My own personal belief is people were barely getting by before Covid hit, and Covid has quite simply decimated so many peoples’ lives in some way or another.

Back to this encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail on the Montgomery County side. It has been caused by the city of Norristown and Montgomery County.

An activist named Bill England said in June:

With the closing of the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center – CHOC – Montgomery County no longer has a year-round shelter for single adults. A new facility could take up to 2 years until opening. A temporary shelter needs to be opened now to provide a safe place for those in need of housing.

The Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center was on the grounds of Norristown State Hospital. Their lease there ended at the end of July.

According to The Reporter Online:

A land transfer agreement for the 68 acres was initially reached back in 2017, according to Norristown Municipal Administrator Crandall Jones. An agreement of sale was unanimously approved by council members five years later during a work session in February.

While the land is slated to be conveyed to the municipality, the actual agreement was listed between the state and Montgomery County‘s Redevelopment Authority.

~ Rachel Ravina, The Reporter online 6/2/22

So this is quite literally Montgomery County and Norristown‘s fault. So where is Val Arkoosh the great bungler of things COVID in Montgomery County and Chair of the Montgomery County Commissioners?

Where is Congresswoman Madeline Dean who has a district office in Norristown at 101 E. Main Street? The Congresswoman literally has a rather large homeless population that’s outside her office within a stones throw pretty much all the time now. And I know for a fact that people have gone to that office trying to ask them would they please do something to help the homeless that are right in front of them. It’s kind of political crickets all the way around.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page. Photo dated 8/3/22

And then there is this other thing that literally happened a couple of days ago. Norristown as in the borough of (because it’s a city but it’s actually a borough) passed some ordinance keeping people out of borough parks and other places from Dusk until Dawn. This means they’re further abdicating responsibility for their homeless population, and basically pushing them out to other communities and even the Schuylkill Valley Trail because they have no housing, and they seek no solutions. Norristown probably won’t like that opinion but I’m entitled to have it.

Very few media outlets talk about this homeless crisis in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. And there’s not only Norristown, there’s the Montgomery County side of Pottstown. There have been homeless encampments along the river off and on for years.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page. Photo dated 6/20/22

WHYY is one media outlet which put out a rather in depth article recently:

Advocates say there’s ‘no place’ for unhoused people in Norristown, where it may soon be illegal to stay in parks past dusk

By Emily Rizzo Aug. 9, 2022 11:19 am

Each time Tony Morano and Anne Douglass find a new place to pitch their tents, they face the threat of being forced to pack up their homes — and leave.

Recently, they say, a borough officer told them to get out of Riverfront Park, in Norristown, Montgomery County. When they moved to a spot along the Norristown bike path in late July, a park ranger ordered them to vacate.

Without vehicles, each removal — which they say feels like an eviction — means hauling their belongings by foot, and if they don’t, they risk getting their things thrown out.

Now, Norristown Borough, one of the poorest municipalities in Montgomery County, is considering a new “dawn-to-dusk” ordinance, which would make it officially illegal to sleep overnight in the borough’s parks. The ordinance comes during an affordable housing crisis in the county, and homelessness is 118% higher in Norristown than this time last year.

“I’m tired of us feeling like we’re at the bottom of the food chain, that we don’t exist and we don’t have feelings,” said Morano, who has been in Norristown for 10 years. He has a disability and has struggled to find stable, affordable housing. Douglass has lived in Norristown for two years with her daughter, who has a job in the area that she commutes to via public transportation…..When asked about the lack of shelter in Norristown for unhoused people, Lepera said, “There’s 53 municipalities, townships, and boroughs in Montgomery County. Why does it have to be in Norristown?”

“There is no place to be…They’re going to be outside for the foreseeable future. That’s the reality in Montgomery County,” said Boorse.

And unhoused people tend to “stay close to their roots,” Boorse and other housing advocates said. Many people have been in Norristown long enough to have a network of support that they rely on, are connected to necessary services, and basic needs like transportation.

~ WHYY 8/9/22

My research has indicated that most assistance to these homeless people is coming from churches and other bon-government organizations. My research also indicates that most elected officials are just literally looking the other way. Especially in Montgomery County.

Why am I writing a post? Because when I saw the thing about a homeless encampment on the Schuylkill Valley Trail I just wondered where this all came from. And now that I know I figure I’ll put a post out there because PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor and he’s from Montgomery County and he is a former Montgomery County Commissioner. He needs to give a damn about this and now not at some vague point in the future. He and Leslie Richards used Montgomery County as a steppingstone to State careers and other opportunities. She went from PennDOT to SEPTA. He became Attorney General and is running for governor.

The homeless population within the City of Philadelphia is off the hook too, but I can’t even begin to cover that because the City of Philadelphia is so corrupt that nothing is going to happen there anyway unless there is some sort of crisis Jim Kenny can’t wiggle his way out of before he lame ducks his way out of office.

I remember years ago they would bus homeless people from the city out to Bryn Mawr and they would let them off right by the A+ gas station across from Ludington Library in Lower Merion. I am told it still happens? I don’t know if it’s by bus or by train but it still happens as per my sources.

But now, suburbia has its own homeless crisis. And at present Montgomery County is abdicating its responsibility for its homeless crisis and sooner or later they’re going to start moving into other counties as well. We are seeing that as the homeless start to move into the Schuylkill Valley Trail.

I am not saying any of this to be some NIMBY person, but we’ve had issues in Chester County and I remember when I first moved to Chester County there was a shell of an old restaurant on route 30 in East Whiteland that was eventually demolished that used to have homeless people that would break into it and live there. These people need a place to go. These people need some sort of government assistance no matter how you feel about that.

If you look at this in other ways, there’s also not very much affordable housing in a lot of places. You can count Chester County among those places. There’s lots of development, however. But that development pushes up real estate prices and rental prices and it pushes people out of their communities, sometimes making them homeless.

And then there is just the lovely economy. Superbly painful amounts of inflation, and a global pandemic have put us in a pickle. And nobody wants to say recession but as it may be worse than a recession at this point? And this did not start with the current administration, either. It is simply a big, nasty can kicked down the road.

I don’t have the answers, I wish I did. But friends in Montgomery County when I spoke to them about this asked me if I would write a post because Montgomery County and the various municipalities like Norristown dealing with homelessness are very petty towards people who speak out. And apparently Congresswoman Madeline Dean doesn’t want to deal with it either although her office literally looks at the Norristown homeless/unhoused pretty much every day? Nice job, Madeline.

So here I am, just putting out a curtain raiser. I really wish the rest of the media would look at this and I thank WHYY for looking at this. And Josh Shapiro? Tag you are it, you really shouldn’t ignore this.

And one last thing. Republicans and Democrats alike like to espouse they look after all of their constituents, only they don’t seem to see certain sectors of the population. Montgomery County and Norristown with their burgeoning in homeless/unhoused issue are a glaring example of this. Also the Pottstown area, where there are also significant homeless issues, and there is social media chatter about the Borough of Pottstown (Montgomery County) fining churches etc for feeding the homeless? And the borough council won’t allow discussion at meetings?

To readers of this post if you have photos of the Schuylkill Valley Trail unhoused encampment or the various ones that pop up around Pottstown, please message them through the blog’s Facebook page. I will publish them and you will have to tell me if you want any kind of attribution. Otherwise I will just say “submitted photo.”

Montgomery County, it’s time for you to stop abdicating responsibility.

Please consider a donation to your local food bank or similar organization.

Found on Facebook #WEBELONG Community Page

chester county ghost town of fricks locks

DSC_7305Imagine it as the tour guides knew it growing up: a little village of charming gardens and close knit neighbors.  Children running on summer days from house to house, picking fruit where they knew it to be growing (berries, black cherries, apples, peaches).

A bull in a fenced in orchard named “bossy”.’

Double daring each other to be on top of the bridge when the locomotive went under.

Walking to school in the snow.

Hoboes arriving each summer via the freight train cars and their mother would set up a card table, feed them, and tell them about God.

The old lady across the street who gave them birthday cards and made them sweet treats.

DSC_7139This was Fricks Locks.

And then…they were all told to leave. Progress was at their door.

A little history courtesy of Preservation PA circa 2009:

The Girard Reach of Schuylkill Canal was constructed circa carry coal from the Anthracitic region to markets in Reading and Philadelphia. The two Locks 54 and 55 were constructed in the village to provide a lift of 18 feet. To guide traffic, a canal right-of-way,towpath, canal basin and aqueduct were constructed. A lock tender’s residence was also built on site. The small village— comprised of vernacular Federal style residential properties,agricultural properties, and retail structures—expanded to support
the booming transportation route. The extant Canal features and many of the associated properties contribute to the Fricks Lock National Register Historic District.

Today a friend of mine and I made the pilgrimage to the other side of the county from us, to East Coventry to go on a Fricks Locks tour. The tours run in pleasant weather months and will be open Saturdays in early fall — September 8th and 22nd, October 13th and 27th.  The tour times are 10 am, 11:15 am, 12:30 pm.  If they have to cancel, it is posted on the East Coventry website after 12 noon on the Friday prior to the scheduled tour.

Today we were joined by a little fawn I hope doesn’t get locked in the village without it’s mama:


Lee Ann Embrey photo

The volunteer tour guides are a bit strict, and slightly inflexible at times. And although you ‘may take photographs’ you aren’t allowed to stop and are instructed to keep moving. I mean REALLY instructed to keep moving. You also may not deviate from the path or go on the grass except where they expressly tell you to. And if you aren’t keeping up and are trying to get that perfect photo, be warned, you will be scolded.  One of the guides in particular reminded me of an old fashioned school librarian watching her watch, and tour takers for infractions.  The hideous and destructive spotted lantern flies were allowed wherever they pleased, however.

Although I see Fricks Locks videos all over You Tube, you are not allowed to take videos.  That was a real bummer because the history of the village we learned on the tour was super interesting and it would have helped to have been able to record it.

DSC_7151The Limerick Power Plant looms in the background the entire tour it is that close.  However, we were told repeatedly that it and the old train station which is now some grungy warehouse property was not part of the tour.  I beg to differ for the simple fact that they are very much part of the history.

It is this crazy feeling as you drive down Fricks Locks Road off of Sanatoga Road.  All of a sudden, while following the signs to Fricks Locks, there you are facing an abandoned village frozen in time.

As you stare at the houses and structures, in your mind’s eye (or maybe just my vivid imagination) I could swear as the tour guides spoke, I could hear the distant sounds of life as it once was in this sleepy little village.

While some buildings date from the American Revolutionary War era, the village name was a result of the “Schuylkill Navigation” canal. The canal required construction, in the early 1820s, of a set of locks at that point along the Schuylkill River.

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Locks #54 and #55 were built on farmland acquired from John Frick and the village became known as Frick’s Locks/Fricks Locks. The village thrived due to the economic stimulus of the canal. Eventually the commercial canal traffic declined toward the turn of the century and gave way to the railroad.

Fricks Locks had become the singular Frick’s Lock after the Pennsylvania Schuylkill Valley Railroad arrived and built a station with the latter name. The canal was filled in starting in 1942. While the railroad eventually declined after Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976, the village remained inhabited until near the end of the 20th century.

In the 1960s, the then Philadelphia Electric Company began Limerick Nuclear Power Station immediately across the river from Frick’s Lock. The station went on line in 1985.

PECO acquired all the land around the station site, which included Fricks Locks. There are possibly conflicting stories as to how the residents were bought out and relocated.  All of the buildings were vacated and simply boarded up.

Fricks Locks was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 2003. In February 2011, East Coventry Township partnered with Exelon Corporation to preserve and protect the historic site.  A lot of this preservation occurred because of a gentleman named Paul S. Frick who died in 2014. I will also note that State Senator Andy Dinniman has been instrumental in getting the preservation of this very cool place this far.

Here is the history compiled by East Coventry:

Before European settlement, the lands of Fricks Locks Village were rolling hills covered primarily with mature woodlands of white and black oak, hickory and chestnut trees. The level lands were mainly floodplain areas extending along the Schuylkill River. The Schuylkill River was reported as having an abundant supply of herring, sturgeon and shad. The Lenni Lenape Indians of the Delaware tribe inhabited the region and trapped beaver along the river for their pelts as a valuable trading product. The advent of change in land use can be attributed to King Charles II of England awarding the lands of the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to William Penn in 1682.

The lands of Fricks Locks Village were additions to the neighboring Grumbacher farm in land grant parcels and land purchases of 1749 and 1764. The original 117 acres of the Grumbacher farm consisted of a long narrow parcel, located to the southeast of the two parcels that contained the village area. The lands were primarily agricultural served by the river and the wagon road (theorized as the Old Schuylkill Road alignments). Historical records indicated that farmsteads usually kept a portion of their property as woodlot. Historic tax records indicate the extent of lands, buildings and livestock of the property.

The first known building in the Frick Locks Village district was the 1757 farmhouse built by the Grumbacher-Engel household on the 119-acre parcel, purchased in 1749. Presumably a barn and outbuildings were also constructed at this time. Access to this residence was presumably from the Old Schuylkill Road via a primitive dirt road eventually becoming the alignment of Fricks Locks Road.

John Frick married Catherine Grumbacher in 1781. And shortly thereafter they moved to the Gruambacher property. Through marriage and bequethment upon the death of Catharina Grumbacher-Engel, John Frick acquired the lands of the future Village. John Frick died in 1822, three years before the canal system was completed and open to travel.

The Schuylkill Navigation Company was chartered in 1815 following the March 8th authorization by the Pennsylvania Legislature to “incorporate a company to make a lock navigation on the river Schuylkill”. Roads were rough and primitive during this era and open river navigation was plagued by falls, shallow areas, and fishermen’s weirs. The Schuylkill River navigation canal was originally intended to bring anthracite coal from the deposits above Pottsville into Philadelphia.

After a ten-year construction period, the navigation system was completed for approximately 110 miles and at a cost of about three million dollars. The entire system was composed of 63 miles of canals with 34 dams and 109 locks. The section of canal through Fricks Locks Village was located about 100 feet north of the 1757 farmhouse. The double lock was located about 250 feet west of the farmhouse. The canal contributed to the growth of Fricks Locks Village as it did with all its stopover points and trading locations.

John Frick’s heirs chose to see his lands at a public auction in the spring of 1826. Jacob Frick, the eldest son purchased a portion of those lands that contained the village district. Upon his death in 1852, the village district was divided among different heirs. Over the next hundred years, the immediate area of the Village had minor “improvements” added, mostly associated with the owner’s farming operations.

In 1832, the depth and width of the canals were increased to accommodate larger boats. (The original canal dimensions had not been followed per specifications.) The new supply of coal enabled more industrial operations along the river. The coal cost seven dollars a ton and was the cheapest fuel available. Canal boats could carry up to 80 tons of coals. The locks in Fricks Locks were an important stopping place in the areas. The village hosted a “convenience” store that stayed open 24 hours a day to supply the needs of the boatmen. Passengers on packet boats stopped in Fricks Locks to go ashore for dinner or stay overnight for a stagecoach connection. The Village became an important trade center. In 1849, a covered toll bridge, the Lawrenceville Bridge, was the area’s first dry crossing of the river. This improved connection (competing with the ferry service) to Montgomery County increased the trading opportunities and growth associated with the canal and the Village.

In the 1880s, the Pennsylvania Railroad located a station in Fricks Locks and the US government established a Fricks Locks post office in the 1890s.

The canal was drained and closed permanently sometime in the mid 1920s. Improved railroad service, better roadways and trolley systems contributed to the demise of the canal by providing faster, smoother and more efficient transportation services. Without the vitality of the canal stopover/trading function, the importance of Fricks Locks Village changed to isolated farming activities.

In 1969 and 1970, PECO obtained the separate parcels that encompassed the current Fricks Locks Village area as part of their property acquisition under federal regulations for nuclear generating stations. At the time of property acquisition, most of the buildings were boarded up and vacated. The federal regulations governing the operations of a nuclear generating station exclude certain uses (including residential) within a 2,500 foot radius of the nuclear facility. The recombination of parcels under single ownership along with restrictions on possible residential use and desirable land use has contributed significantly to preserving the integrity of the Fricks Locks historic area. Its isolation from major roadway and new development affords the potential to present a highly unique example of an extant canal-ear village in context with the agricultural activities of the Schuylkill River corridors’ past history.

Here are some old Fricks Locks photos I found mostly on Pinterest:

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Here is a video from You Tube of  a 1941 train accident  at Fricks Locks:

I had heard about this place but today was my first time visiting. A recent Philadelphia Inquirer article brought the village to life and made me want to visit.

Philadelphia Inquirer PENNSYLVANIA NEWS
A Chester County village was vacated for a nuclear power plant. Today, it’s a ghost town.
by Katie Park, Updated: August 3, 2018

Also on the topic:

Daily Local News: The abandoned town of Frick’s Lock tells story
Gene Pisasale Jan 1, 2012

Exelon honored for renovations to Frick’s Locks
The energy company has spent $2.3 million to preserve and restore the village.WRITTEN BY HOLLY HERMAN

Tour of Frick’s Lock Village showcases history
By Stephen Harris sharris@pottsmerc.com Jul 22, 2014

I will note that a problem here has been trespassing and vandalism over the years.  The local police can and will arrest you. (Read about one account here.)  People, there are tours. It is being preserved.  Take a tour. Don’t be a tool and trespass. Respect the efforts of the folks trying to preserve this place.

We loved our time in this historic village today. It was fascinating. It was also so oddly almost unnaturally still.  I wonder what all of the people who once called this place home over the course of time would think now?

I hope that the restoration continues.  I hope they will bring school tours in.  It is not suitable for small children in my opinion, but older kids should be fine.

Fricks Locks is also featured on the Iron & Steel Heritage website.

I wonder. I wonder if where some of us call home today, will end up like Fricks Locks tomorrow abandoned and all but forgotten for whatever reason?

If you go…bring bug spray. Wear a hat. Bring water. Wear closed toe shoes. I saw flip flops today even on some of the guides and this is definitely a closed-toe tour.

Enjoy my photos.

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human shaming in phoenixville

This is August. So cars heat up fast, don’t they? Especially in parking lots open to the sun, right?  And as you see that is a dog in a hot SUV earlier today. It was taken by a friend at the Redner’s parking lot in Phoenixville.  These people who own this Ford SUV should be ashamed of themselves!!!

 I wish the people who sent me the photos had taken photos with the license plate showing! This photo and the one below came with the following message:

We went shopping at Phoenixville Redner’s today. I waited in the car while the wife got a few things.

Some jerk left a poodle in a parked car. Driver window was open a couple inches, but the dog was frantic at first, then just laying on the seat panting like hell. 

A local cop came through, and I got his attention. He looked, and said “the window is open a little, and it’s a white car, it won’t get hot, besides this is private property, I have no jurisdiction”. The windows were heavily tinted, and too hot to put your hand on. 

I was about to break the glass when a young couple (about 6 people gathered by now) said they would go inside and have the manager put the vehicle, license plate, and business name on the P.A. system that their window was about to be broken. A volunteer firefighter had a rescue tool, and said he would give them 5 minutes. A girl with a water bottle squirted water through the cracked window on the dog, and it got up, and got a little. 

 Don’t know the final outcome. Even through the heavily tinted glass you can see the dog with it’s mouth wide open. 

So Redner’s in Phoenixville is in which township?  I would like to commend their officer who stopped for showing such caring and concern, wouldn’t you? Do you sense my sarcasm ? If  the officer was loath to break a window why couldn’t said officer have gone into the store to check for the irresponsible owner? Wow.

Kudos goes to the volunteer firefighter and others who sprang into action to try to help the dog.

Dogs give us unconditional love and devotion so it is really upsetting when you see stupid human tricks in action. 

There is a law being proposed in PA regarding keeping pets out of hot cars. Contact your legislators in PA ASAP about getting it passed!

New bill focused on keeping pets out of hot cars

Carolyn Blackburne 08/05/2015 06:54 PM08/05/2015 07:29 PM

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A new bill proposed in the Pennsylvania legislature is focused on keeping animals out of hot cars. 

Farm manager at Greener Pasture’s Animal Shelter, Ryan Jacobs, said leaving a pet inside a car on a hot day can be a matter of life and death. Cats and dogs that are left in cars can die within five to ten minutes on days above 110 degrees.

“We already have laws like this for children, so I think it is important you take your dog out of the car when you go somewhere,” Jacobs said.

If an animal is left unattended in a car for more than five minutes, it can go into heat stroke.


UPDATE: the power of the Internet. Another person sent me a partial plate (missing one letter or digit) and told me that this shopping center is on the edge of Phoenixville Borough and apparently it was an unmarked police car and three police departments can be found on patrol around here (Phoenixville Borough, East Pikeland, and Schulkill Twp). And the static decal in the window is for a company called Unlimited Restoration which has an office in Pottstown.


justice for argus & fiona: gabe pilotti goes to court


Outside District Court in Pottstown 3.27.13. Photo credit AFD

All the confusion over whether or not Gabe Pilotti would go to court in Pottstown and when is over.  He did.  And NBC10 Philadelphia, The Daily Local, The Pottstown Mercury, and others were there. Many thanks to all of them for caring enough to cover. (Links to media coverage will be posted when available).  Thanks to Tom Hickey from Dog PAC for being there too.

NBC10 Philadelphia: Owner of Murdered Dogs Still Waiting for Apology From Alleged Killer

There were also lots and lots of police. Apparently they were there due to death threats received by Pilotti. As an aside,  no matter what he has done, that kind of eye for an eye vigilante justice has no place in civilized society.  That behavior is not condoned, and the Bocks are quite clear in their desire for the courts to be able to do their job and for laws being able to be created and changed to protect PA dogs. Vigilantism like that makes him the victim, when he is the one who shot defenseless puppies so why do that stuff?

Daily Local: Hearing waived in West Vincent dog killings

SOUTH COVENTRY — A 72-year-old man who shot and killed a neighbor’s two family dogs in February appeared in district court Wednesday as about 15 police officers stood guard outside.

Gabriel Pilotti, of the Chester Springs section of West Vincent Township, waived a preliminary hearing on charges of animal cruelty and recklessly endangering another person…Pilotti, who appeared in court with his attorney Thomas H. Ramsay of West Chester, did not speak as Magisterial District Judge James V. DeAngelo quickly moved through the procedures of waiving the preliminary hearing….About 15 law enforcement officers from various county and state agencies stood guard in and outside…

What no one seems to know is if Gabe Pilotti’s guns were confiscated pending outcome of case? Shouldn’t they be? (owning guns is a responsibility and did he behave responsibly?)  Also interesting to note that no one from district attorney’s office was present.  Don’t misunderstand me, they don’t have to be present at this stage but given the public outcry over this it seems they might have made an appearance.

So we all are on the same page, these are the charges at this point:

docket 1

Now this will head to county court at some point in West Chester. As per the docket (which is sort of updated) next up is a visit to Chester County Court in West Chester for a formal arraignment (if Pilotti and attorney don’t waive it ):


Now I wonder if we can get the media to go to a hearing at Judge Cabry’s in Honeybrook next week on April 2nd for a little civil manner involving a horse rescue gal who isn’t always civil?  Will this hearing mean more problems for the owner of Off The Track Thoroughbred Rescue?

And as a wee post script, Mary Bock had this to say with regard to the “apology” that Pilotti’s attorney referred to on NBC10:

….As soon as I got home I asked the DA’s office if such a letter came to them, they said they have seen no such letter.

funky lil’ cross promotion

On one hand people should be glad this is way out in Pottstown.  On the other hand, given what nearly occurred at Christmas 2011 in Ludwig’s Corner, people should be saddened perhaps that a small business like Funky Lil’ Kitchen in Pottstown would not be more selective in their choice of farms.

I would never suggest this small business be boycotted because they are fabulous.  They just need to be educated.

Funky Lil’ Kitchen sent the following shout out to their fans and gastronomical followers:

From: Funky Lil Kitchen [mailto:funkylilkitchen@email.com] Sent: Monday, August 06, 2012 5:15 PM Subject: Birchrun Hills Farm Dinner with Sue Miller 8/16/12

Hello Friends,

We have set up a special night with our friend, local cheesemaker and farmer Sue Miller from Birchrun Hills Farm in Chester County on Thursday august 16th from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m..

Sue is best known for her cheeses but some people do not know she also produces veal and pork.

So we have teamed up with Sue for a special 4 course Prix Fixe Dinner for $35.00 per person(plus tax and gratuity).

Sue will be on hand to talk to you about her cheeses, cheese making and her veal and pork products.

We will be taking normal reservations this evening and you will need to call FLK to reserve your spot as we have blocked open table this night since it will be the only menu available on the 16th.

The Menu is as follows:

1st course- Roasted Chorizo, Griddled Cornbread, Grilled Corn and Charred Tomato Compote

2nd course- Pork & Beans: Braised Pork, Stewed White Beans, Summer Greens

3rd course- Veal Brisket, Summer Vegetable Ragout, Herb Veloute

4th course- Assorted Cheeses, FLK Apricot & Peach Jam, Toast

*(planned menu is subject to product availability and could be altered accordingly)

We hope you can join Sue and us on the 16th for this fun summer dinner event,

Michael & Tonda

Funky Lil Kitchen is located at:
232 King Street Pottstown, PA 19464 Phone: 610.326.7400 Fax: 610.326.0746
Get more information about Funky Lil Kitchen Make a reservation at Funky Lil Kitchen

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Wow.  It’s like West Vincent Supervisor-Farmer in the Dell Ken Miller doesn’t exist, huh?  Talk about reinvention PR.  And if this event is sold out, it means a nice chunk of change going into the farmers’ pockets, yes? I mean Birchrun Hills Farm has had issues, right? And the farmers (Ken and Sur Miller) have had issues, right? But this is all in the fevered imagination of Chickenman, right?  None of these issues exist and public documents, right?

I will be honest.  I tried to patronize Birchrun Hills Farm when my friends first started the Bryn Mawr Farmers Market ( a Farm to City Market ). I knew nothing at this point about who Ken and Sue Miller were other than farmers participating in a market I wanted to support where I used to live on the Main Line.   That being said, I am not some fluff brained creature.  I cook, I garden, I have a level of intelligence.  I went to purchase some of Birchrun Hills products at one of the very first markets in Bryn Mawr and let me tell you it was hard to do that because Sue Miller had priced for Bryn Mawr and I almost fell over with sticker shock for what it was – to be honest, Birchrun Hills  is not the only farm who prices higher for the Main Line at the Bryn Mawr Farmers Market (and yes, the prices at that market are in some cases higher than farm markets and farm stands I patronize in the Hamptons of all places!).  HOWEVER, when I tried to ask Sue Miller  questions at the time about her products instead of just blindly dumping money in her pocket, she was rude.  Not her staff, but her, the farmer/owner.  I purchased once from her and once only as a result. I mentally crossed her off my list from that point on.  If I was too annoying to her to answer a couple of simple questions without attitude, well then she did not need me as a customer.  And truthfully, the products I purchased from Birchrun Hills Farm weren’t so fabulous, attitude of farmer owner aside.

And that was before eminent domain for private gain was attempted by Sue Miller’s husband and West Vincent Supervisor Ken Miller.  That right there sealed the deal. I would just make a personal choice to boycott their products wherever I saw them. I would never advocate boycotting any small business who buys from Birchrun Hills Farm, but I have told a few of them why I will not knowingly eat anything produced off that place.  When I go to places like White Dog Cafe in Wayne, I choose menu options that do not feature Birchrun Hills Farm products.  Same for when I visit places like Di Bruno Brothers.  Same for the East Goshen Farmers Market. I support the businesses, but I will not purchase products from that farm.

Now the East Goshen Farmers Market is of course something where a couple of personalities aside I still support them overall because it is the right thing to do.  I even featured them in an article I wrote this summer a few weeks ago for The Philadelphia Inquirer.  The women who run the market (and did I mention one of the women runs Shellbark Hollow Farm, a farm whose products I actually buy ?)  act like I have the bubonic plague  because I don’t support Birchrun Hills Farm, but you know what?  They can have their issues.  I don’t come to their market weekly carrying a sign in protest and I have never been anything but pleasant.  But I can’t support a farm where one of the owners supported an attempt at eminent domain for private gain.

So if you go to Funky Lil’ Kitchen in Pottstown, just ask them what products come from Birchrun Hills Farm and eat around that part of the menu.

I don’t know.  It just seems a lil’ funky that they are so prosperous at Birchrun Hills Farm, yet others in West Vincent struggle?  Especially the oddness of what happens to West Vincent residents when  they speak out against the political machine currently running the municipality, right?

Anyway, enough about this.  Funky Lil’ Kitchen is a great place.  But they are a little far afield even for me for dinner.  There are so many other places close by.  But again, don’t boycott the restaurant.  Just ask them how to eat around one particular farm. And if you know of farms who produce similar goods, suggest them as an alternative.

Final note?  If Ken Miller straightens up and flies right for the people of West Vincent (as in ALL the people of West Vincent, not a select set) I will be happy to stop commenting about his farm even if given their ridiculous pricing alone you should consider other farms…..

ignorance is bliss?

Every once in a while I receive a comment that deserves it’s own post.  I am about to quote one back and file it under ignorance is bliss.

I wrote a post about a story I saw in Phoenixville Patch on illegal dumping in Mont Clare.  So I wrote a post .  I write lots of posts, right?  Also in this post I commented on a story in the Pottstown Mercury  about kids who were swimming in the Schuylkill River. So I got this comment:

Jes commented on trails are for illegal dumping ?

I do! There is nothing wrong with them wading in knee high depths of water where they were. Plus it’s none of your concern.

More information about Jes

IP:, pool-96-227-13-249.phlapa.east.verizon.net E-mail: jshlbug@msn.com URL: Whois: http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/

“Jes” , I am guessing, is responding specifically to this comment I made in that post:

So I looked online to see if any other media was covering this and other than something in the Pottstown-Mercury about kids from North Coventry looking for crawfish in the Schuykill and swimming who found guns instead. That was in the area of the Keim Street Bridge.   Ok also bad, and were they decontaminated after being in the river? And who the heck lets their kids swim in the river?

Well, Jes, yes I dared make a comment, and here is how I feel: telling me it is “none of my concern” to comment doesn’t quite cut it.  Every year there are stories in the papers and on the news on a state, local, regional, and national level about kids and adults who don’t know enough about large bodies of water and who drown unnecessarily.

Bringing it more local the Philadelphia region and being more specific, there are enough stories about kids drowning in the Schuylkill, that so sorry, I can indeed and will comment.

The Schuylkill is a body of water that needs to be respected and is hardly a still pond or pool.  There are currents and drop offs – wading can quickly enough become something else.  So do I think parents shouldn’t let their kids swim in the Schuylkill?  Yes.

And what happens when this no harm/no foul swimming/wading goes bad?

Check these stories  about drownings in  the  Schuylkill (and this is just a random sampling):

Drowned Reading boy pulled from Schuylkill River

Exeter Township fisherman drowns in Schuylkill River

Girl rescued from near drowning on Schuylkill River

Missing Drexel Student from NJ Found Dead in River: Police

Body of 9-year-old found in Schuylkill

Teenage girl drowns in Schuylkill

Body pulled from river identified as missing Trappe boy

Crews search for boys in river

And related to “Crews Search for boys in river” from 2003 is a highly quotable article:

Official says there was no one to rescue in Schuylkill River

“We’ve had no reports of missing persons. No one has made known to us that anyone is missing, and we’ve had no additional information,” North Coventry Police Cpl. Robert Malason said Thursday….”We don’t believe it was a hoax, because they were seen in the water by at least three separate groups,” Malason said. …..  Police theorize that the two teenage boys spotted in the river managed to get out of the fast-flowing waters themselves after jumping into the turbulent river from the Hanover Street bridge, something police say area youths do too often.

The report was that the two boys got into trouble right away, but managed to stop their ride downstream by grabbing onto large branches of a tree that had toppled close to the water, at least one witness told police.

 The witness told police he shouted at the two boys to hang on, jumped on his bike and rode quickly to the borough police station for help. By the time emergency units arrived on the scene, the boys were no longer hanging onto the tree branches.

Police had to treat the incident as though they had been swept away and possibly drowned, and so the search that involved fire companies and other emergency workers up and down the river from Pottstown to Phoenixville began.


First responder activity is expensive to municipalities, and I have been told these water rescue operations and even if they go from rescue to recovery are even more expensive. And there is risk involved for these first responders, you can say it is their job, but if the situation can be avoided through common sense, why not?

People do drown in the Schuylkill River.  And a lot of times the people drowning  are kids.  The Schuylkill River is also not the cleanest body of water.  Check out this thing on PhillyRiverCast:

The Schuylkill River, like all working rivers, is not a pristine body of water and is subject to contamination from many sources and activities that either discharge directly, or enter the river during rain events.

Because rivers are vulnerable to such contamination, recreation in or upon any body of water has with it an inherent risk of illness and infection for the individual involved.

And oh yes, check this out:

‘A polluter’s paradise:’ Report ranks Schuylkill and Delaware rivers poorly on chemical pollution

Published: Saturday, April 07, 2012

Despite the fact that it’s much cleaner than it used to be, the  Schuylkill River may still deserve its reputation for being polluted –  at least according to a report released March 22 that analyzes toxic  chemicals discharged into all the river systems of the United States.

In  Pennsylvania, the Schuylkill ranked as the third most polluted waterway  in the state for cumulative toxic discharges and slipped under the wire  into the 50 most polluted waterways in the nation, coming in at 49,  according to the report releases by the environmental advocacy group  PennEnvironment.

Perhaps more worrisome is that when looking at  entire watersheds, the Schuylkill River and all its tributaries  cumulatively rank 26th in the nation for “discharges of all toxic  chemicals in 2010.”….The report, titled “Wasting our Waterways: Industrial Toxic Pollution and the Unfilled promise of the Clean Water Act,”  examined industrial releases reported to the U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory for 2010, the most recent  data available.

So commenter, pardon me for the disagree, but golly gee whillikers, swimming in the Schuylkill River ain’t what it is cracked up to be.  Yes, for kids, it is a tremendous amount of fun (probably because they know they aren’t supposed to be in the river unless they are in a recreation area that has tubing and boating and similar activities), it is also dangerous.  From currents to contaminants.

Can I see this from my window?  No.  But can I comment? Yes.   Heck kids can even drown or nearly drown in large creeks.  The boy pulled from Ithan Creek in 2011 was in a coma as a result.  He suffered as a result (brain injury), and this boy and his family are fighting every day so he will get back his life. Now obviously if you read about this boy, it’s not like he had uncaring parents who did not care what he did, but accidents happen.

And if accidents like what happened to Logan Schweiter can happen in a creek, and every year you hear stories of drownings and near drownings in the Schuylkill River, why can’t people comment about this topic?

Sorry, but I think it is irresponsible to say wading or swimming in the powerful Schuylkill River outside a designated recreation area is just fine. I think it is an accident waiting to happen.

Thanks for playing chestercountyramblings.