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Friends of Ambler Church of the Brethren Coffeehouse

March 6th, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010
7:30pm Piano Music by David Himmer in the Sanctuary
7:55pm Break, Go Downstairs to Fellowship Hall, Time for Conversation around Tables
8:15pm Speaker Bud Wahl, Mayor of Ambler “What’s New in Ambler”
8:45pm Break, Time for Conversation around Tables
9:00pm Ambler Symphony Chamber Players “A Little Night Music” Mozart

We will have popcorn, refreshments and maybe even some jokes in Fellowship Hall. A $5 donation is suggested to help the youth with their summer trip to Colorado called National Youth Conference.

Swimmer Breaks American Paralympic Record

March 3rd, 2010

Abington, PA — “My son graduated Abington high School in 2008. He swam on the high school swim team and just beat an American Record.”

Swarthmore College swimmer Travis Pollen broke the American paralympic record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 54.80 seconds. He was competing for the Swarthmore Garnet at the Centennial Conference Championships at Franklin And Marshall College. Travis is from Elkins Park and Abington, PA. He is an above-knee amputee.

After breaking the six-year old record, Pollen will now set his sights on the U.S. spring nationals in San Antonio on March 25-27.

New Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund

March 1st, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA — A well-established financial management firm with a successful track record of investing in green technologies and sustainable forms of energy has been chosen to manage Pennsylvania’s new Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund, according to Governor Edward G. Rendell.

The Reinvestment Fund—known as TRF—will manage the loan program and provide much needed financial capital to support cost-effective, energy conservation and renewable energy projects in existing, non-residential buildings.

The new revolving loan fund is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

In announcing TRF’s selection, the Governor said the firm’s track record and its pledge to providing double the federally required match for the new program is evidence of its commitment to building a green economy in Pennsylvania.

“President Obama and Congress had the foresight to make renewable energy and energy conservation a key part of the federal Recovery Act because these are areas that are critically important to the nation’s future,” said Governor Rendell. “This new revolving loan fund is the latest opportunity to be born of that wise decision and, under TRF’s management, the program will put hundreds of people to work incorporating green technologies into buildings that ultimately, will save consumers millions of dollars each year.”

The federal Recovery Act will provide $12 million to the state for the Green Energy Revolving Loan Fund, but it required any firm applying to manage to provide a minimum match of $18 million in private funds. TRF committed to investing $36 million, which will allow for a $48 million pool of funds in the loan program.

That level of investment is expected to help support 500 jobs on projects that will reduce energy consumption by nearly 800 billion British Thermal Units of energy, or enough to power more than 23,000 average homes in Pennsylvania for one year.

The new revolving loan fund will supply necessary capital for developing cost effective, energy-saving and renewable energy projects in existing, non-residential buildings throughout Pennsylvania. The projects create and retain jobs, and must cut an entire facility’s energy consumption by at least 25 percent or develop and install technologies on-site that produce electricity from renewable resources.

The Department of Environmental Protection and TRF are finalizing the loan fund’s guidelines. More information, as well as a form for non-residential building owners who may be interested in learning more, is available at www.PaGreenEnergyLoanFund.com.

Single-family dwellings are not eligible for financing under the new Green Energy Loan Fund. Homeowners interested in obtaining low-interest loans to help finance home-energy efficiency projects should seek assistance through the Keystone HELP program by visiting www.keystonehelp.com.

TRF has extensive experience in with the green energy industry and in integrating high-performance energy measures into its community development portfolio. Its Collaborative Lending Initiative, a regional loan consortium comprised of 13 banks, has provided energy efficiency and renewable energy construction financing for numerous affordable housing and charter school projects.

The firm has also provided advice since 1993 to its customers on energy efficiency and the sustainability of their capital improvements and equipment purchases. In the last five years, TRF has focused its expertise on developing clean energy projects and technologies in a way that brings affordable and financially viable options such as solar, wind and quality energy efficiency projects to market.

TRF is also responsible for administering the Sustainable Development Fund, a $32 million energy fund created by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in its final order in the PECO Energy electric utility restructuring proceeding.

All told, TRF has financed more than 2,526 projects, delivering $939 million in capital to projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

For more information on how the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is creating jobs and making green energy projects a reality, visit www.recovery.pa.gov.

Montgomery County Household Hazardous Waste Recycling

February 22nd, 2010

2010 Montgomery County
Household Hazardous Waste
& Electronics Collection Program
OR VISIT (www.montgomerycountyrecycles.org)

Indian Valley Middle School
Saturday, April 24, 2010
130 Maple Ave.
Harleysville, PA 19438
Lower Salford Township
9AM – 3PM

Temple Univ. – Ambler Campus
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Butler Pike Entrance ONLY
Student Parking Lot
Upper Dublin Township
9AM – 3PM

Mont. Co. Community College
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Enter near 473 Cathcart Rd.
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Whitpain Township
9AM – 3PM

Abington Junior High School
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Rear Faculty Parking Lot
970 Highland Ave.
Abington, PA 19001
9AM – 3PM

Spring-Ford Flex School
Saturday, August 21, 2010
833 South Lewis Rd.
Royersford, PA 19468
Upper Providence Township
9AM – 3PM

Lower Merion Twp Public Works
Saturday, October 23, 2010
1300 N.Woodbine Ave.
Penn Valley, PA 19072
Lower Merion Township
9AM – 3PM

• This program is a community service to the residents of Montgomery County and the 4 Southeastern Pennsylvania County Region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Philadelphia) ONLY and is NOT open to businesses, institutions or industry.
• All collection events will accept HHW (Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics.
• All collection events will be held from 9:00AM – 3:00PM.

Contact your township or trash/recycling hauler to schedule a pick up or call 610-278-3618 for more information.

Paint Products
Oil-based Paint
Paint Thinner
Stains & Varnish
Furniture Stripper & Finisher
Wallpaper Cement
Outdoor Products
Swimming Pool Chemicals
Weed Killers
Septic Tank Degreasers
Asphalt Sealers
Caulking Compounds
Joint Compound
Roof Cements
Rodent Poison
Automotive Products
Grease & Rust Solvents
Fuel Additives
Motor Oil
Carburetor Cleaners
Transmission/Brake Fluid
Lead Acid Batteries
Household Products
Drain/Oven Cleaners
Rug Cleaners
Toilet Bowl Cleaners
Spot Removers
Dry Cleaning Fluid
Wood & Metal Cleaners
Acids, Caustics, Solvents
Organic Peroxide
Mercury Bearing Items
Propane Cylinders (20lb or less)
Rechargeable Batteries
Electronic Equipment
CRT Monitors
Cell Phones
Fax Machines
TV (30” and smaller)
Computer Peripherals

NOT Acceptable Items
Latex Paint – NOT Hazardous (Throw in trash after it is dried out completely.)
Alkaline Batteries – NOT Hazardous (Throw in trash if made after 1996.)
Appliances/White Goods – Contact your township or trash/recycling hauler to schedule a pick up.
Explosives & Ammunition – Contact your local police department or the Montgomery County Bomb Squad.
Tires – Bring to a County Tire Collection event or call 610-278-3618 for additional options.
Infectious or Medical Waste
Radioactive Waste
Air Conditioners
Smoke Detectors – Send back to the manufacturer. Check the back of the item for more information.

How to Package Household Hazardous Waste for Transportation
The guidelines for safely transporting Household Hazardous Waste to collection sites are as follows:
1. Keep all products in original containers with labels intact.
2. Wrap leaking containers in newspaper and place in a plastic bag or garbage container.
3. Make sure all lids and caps are tight.
4. Place items securely in a box for transport. Use newspaper or cardboard as filler.
5. Place chemicals, which will react with one another, in separate parts of the vehicle.
6. DO NOT leave materials in hot, unventilated area for long periods of time.

Lower Merion School District Laptop Scandal

February 21st, 2010

A law suit has been filed against the Lower Merion School District accusing them of spying on students through laptop webcams.

In response, the school has issued a statement:

Yesterday I reported to you on the early phases of the school district’s response to questions raised about the security-tracking software feature that was installed on student laptop computers. While we were able to address many of your initial questions and concerns, I regret we were not immediately in a position to answer all of your questions. Our goal is to be as open as possible, while preserving student privacy, and ensure that over time we have answered to your satisfaction every question about this situation and the broader issue of technology and privacy.

We are a school district that embraces the use of leading-edge technology in our instructional program, encourages all forms of free expression, and must do everything possible to safeguard individual privacy. For these and other reasons, this matter is of the highest importance. In this regard, we have retained the services of Henry E. Hockeimer, Jr., Esq., a local attorney and former federal prosecutor, to assist in our comprehensive review of relevant policies and past practices, as well as assist us in implementing appropriate improvements.

Despite some reports to the contrary, be assured that the security-tracking software has been completely disabled. As I noted yesterday, this feature was limited to taking a still image of the computer user and an image of the desktop in order to help locate the reported missing, lost, or stolen computer (this includes tracking down a loaner computer that, against regulations, might be taken off campus). While we understand the concerns, in every one of the fewer than 50 instances in which the tracking software was used this school year, its sole purpose was to try to track down and locate a student’s computer. Before answering additional questions below, it is important to clear up the matter of notice to students and parents of the existence of the security software. While certain rules for laptop use were spelled out – such as prohibitive uses on and off school property – there was no explicit notification that the laptop contained the security software. This notice should have been given and we regret that was not done.

Once again, we regret this situation has been a source of concern and disruption, and trust that we will soon have stronger privacy policies in place as a result of the lessons learned and our comprehensive review that is now underway. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at info@lmsd.org. Additional information has been posted on our website, www.lmsd.org.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Dr. Christopher W. McGinley?
Superintendent of Schools?
Lower Merion School District

Community Greening Award

February 18th, 2010

Ambler’s Trax Café has been awarded a 2009 Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in recognition of its garden and efforts to develop a green landscape.

“When we got here, the entire place was under vines. It was pretty bad. We pretty much started from scratch. It’s been a work in progress,” said owner and chef Steve Waxman.

Trax is located in the Ambler train station.

Ambler Restores Park With Help Of Neighbors

February 14th, 2010

Ambler, PA — Ambler Borough received two grants to restore and expand the natural forested area along the banks of Rose Valley Creek where it flows through Borough Park. Out of six parks in Ambler, Borough Park is the only natural park. TreeVitalize and Merck & Co. Inc. funds are supplying trees, contractors and engineering, while the community is supplying the majority of the ideas and volunteer labor.

“The first phase of the project is almost completed – removing the invasive species,” said Susan Curry, volunteer coordinator for the project. “Now, we want to gather ideas from people who live near or visit the park about how the park should look, what features it should have, and how it can be used and maintained,” she continued. A meeting for collecting community input is scheduled for Saturday, February 20 at Borough Hall from 9:00 AM to noon. Anyone who cannot make the meeting may phone their input into 215-591-1551.

“They were unstoppable,” said Ms. Curry of the nearly fifty volunteers late last October who removed a third of the invasive plants that were choking parts of a 4-acre area of the park. The most common invasive plant species removed were Japanese knotweed, multi flora rose, Empress tree, Tree of heaven, privet and Norway Maple. Invasive species tend to crowd out native species and do not provide the same amount of food and shelter or habitat for native insects, birds, fish and other animals that native plants provide.

The community effort was organized by the Ambler Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), and involved volunteers from Wissahickon High School Key Club, Ambler Tree Tenders, the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, VolunteerMatch, Briar Bush Nature Center, and neighbors of the park. “Eventually we see a rain garden, new wildflower meadows, benches, and meandering paths on both sides of the creek. This will really expand the area that residents can enjoy,” said Ms. Minich.

Phase three starts April 9, 10 and 11, when over 100 community volunteers will be needed to dig holes, then plant 300 trees and shrubs, apply mulch and water, and erect deer fencing. “Trees are especially important to help hold the soil and slow down storm waters that are flooding the park more frequently,” said Nancy Minich, landscape architect of NAM Design and Planning who is overseeing all phases of the work to be done in Borough Park. Trees will be planted in a pattern that will widen the riparian buffer along the stream. A riparian buffer is a vegetated area between the banks of a stream and the land area back from the banks.

In Borough Park, the existing buffer is often less than 10’ from the banks. This project will expand the buffer to a width of 50’ or more wherever feasible. According to Ms Minich, “Wider riparian buffers help to improve water quality by filtering pollution before it reaches the creek, and also improve flood management by slowing down runoff. Those are the primary benefits in the eyes of our funders. We imagine that the park will be more aesthetic while providing more natural services when the project is finished.”

A parallel initiative of Ambler Environmental Advisory Council is currently encouraging Ambler Borough to adopt four new ordinances that will be more protective of steep slopes, wetlands, floodplains, wood lands and riparian buffers.

Rose Valley Creek begins in Upper Dublin, and flows through Borough Park before it eventually joins the Wissahickon Creek. The recently increased frequency of high volume storms has increased erosion in the park. “We hope to prevent further erosion which causes sediment problems further down stream with our new plantings,” offered Ms. Curry.

A group called the “Friends of Borough Park” is forming to continue the care and stewardship of the park in the future. On-going efforts will be needed to keep the park clear of invasive plants and to continue to improve amenities. If interested in joining “Friends of Borough Park”, contact Susan Curry, 215-591-1551, or suscurry@comcast.net.

Local Live Music

February 13th, 2010

Hippies 4 Haiti: Benefit Concert For Haiti Earthquake Victims
“A concert benefiting Meds and Food for Kids”
Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 3:00pm
End Time: Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 1:25am
Location: 3rd And Walnut Bar-Lounge, Lansdale, PA
Performances by Wynrise, With Pete Kranz +W.E.M.B., Wineskin, Paint It Blue, The Turnips, The Happy Dog, The Hustle and more!

Type: Music Concert
Start Time: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 9:00pm
Location: Coyles Rox Box
Street: 6080 Ridge Avenue
City/Town: Philadelphia, PA

Chinese New Year’s Eve 2010 Party
Featuring Psychedelphia
Start Time: Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 8:00pm
End Time: Sunday, February 14, 2010 at 1:35am
Location: The Main Street Music Hall
Street: Main Street (behind Garfield’s)
City/Town: Northampton, PA

Relative Matter At Brittingham’s Irish Pub
2/13/2010 9:00 PM
640 Germantown Pike, Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania 19444
Cost: FREE

Montgomery County Insurance Agents Arrested

February 11th, 2010

Montgomery County, PA / Berks County — Two insurance agents from Montgomery County, who are accused of stealing more than $1 million that was supposed to pay for workers’ compensation and liability insurance for six Berks County public school districts, have been arrested by agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Attorney General Tom Corbett identified the defendants as Kevin John Pickell, 52, 1260 Normandy Drive, Blue Bell, and his cousin, Robert Francis Pickell, 43, 2007 Windsor Drive, Collegeville. Both men are partners in KDN Lanchester Corporation (KDN), an insurance brokerage business located in Spring Township, Berks County.

“Over the past two years, Kevin and Robert Pickell and their business were paid more than $1 million, which was supposed to pay for insurance policies for the Conrad Weiser, Daniel Boone, Exeter Township, Fleetwood, Schuylkill Valley and Wyomissing Area School Districts,” Corbett said. “Instead, the Pickells allegedly took the money for their own use – obtaining luxury cars for themselves and their spouses; having expensive wine and other items delivered to their business; writing checks for thousands of dollars in personal items and making large payments to themselves and other family members.”

Corbett said the school districts’ insurance premium payments, which ranged in size from $102,668 to $361,260, were deposited into KDN bank accounts, and were supposed to be forwarded to the School Boards Insurance Company.

Instead of forwarding the premium payments to the insurance company, Kevin Pickell allegedly wrote checks totaling at least $330,000 for various personal items, including payments totaling $215,000 to himself and $53,000 to his wife. Robert Pickell allegedly wrote checks totaling more than $140,000 for personal items and expenses.

“Because the schools are all publicly funded, the true victims in this case are the taxpayers who live in those communities,” Corbett said. “As part of this alleged conspiracy, a total of $839,166 in insurance premium payments were illegally diverted, along with $191,247 in commissions that were improperly paid for insurance policies that did not exist.”

According to the criminal complaint, the investigation also resulted in the discovery and seizure of several vials containing anabolic steroids allegedly belonging to Kevin and Robert Pickell. The steroids, along with a quantity of unused syringes, were located during an October 7, 2009 search of the KDN Lanchester Corporation offices by agents from the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Corbett said that Kevin and Robert Pickell were arrested on Wednesday, January 6th, by agents from the Insurance Fraud Section and preliminarily arraigned before Wernersville Magisterial District Judge Ann L. Young. Both defendants were released on $50,000 unsecured bail with preliminary hearings scheduled for February 9th, at 10 a.m., before Magisterial District Judge Young.

Kevin J. Pickell is charged with two counts of participating in a corrupt organization, both first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines; along with six counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of insurance fraud, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines.

He is also charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Robert F. Pickell is charged with two counts of participating in a corrupt organization, both first-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 fines; along with six counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of insurance fraud, all third-degree felonies which are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 fines. He is also charged with one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

The defendants will be prosecuted in Berks County by Deputy Attorney General John T. Dickinson of the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Section.

Price Gouging Following Massive Winter Storm

February 11th, 2010

HARRISBURG, PA – Attorney General Tom Corbett today cautioned Pennsylvania consumers and businesses about price gouging following a massive weekend winter storm that has many communities still struggling with snow removal and other related issues.

“Our state price-gouging law was designed to protect consumers and businesses from sudden, unwarranted price increases during emergency situations,” Corbett said. “The price gouging restrictions apply to anyone involved in the distribution or sale of consumer goods or services, prohibiting ‘unconscionably excessive’ increases above the average prices observed during the week prior to the emergency.”

Corbett said the Governor’s February 6th declaration of a statewide disaster emergency triggered the price gouging restrictions, which will extend for 30 days after the expiration of the disaster declaration.

“As many Pennsylvania communities continue to dig free from last weekend’s record snowfall, and with another major storm bearing down on the state, it is important for everyone – consumers and businesses alike – to understand exactly what constitutes price gouging,” Corbett said. “Price increases for consumer goods or services that are 20% or more above the average prices before this storm are not allowed, except in some very limited situations.”

Corbett said the price gouging law gives the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection the authority to investigate price gouging complaints and allows for penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

He noted that the emergency price restrictions not only apply to businesses involved in direct consumer sales, but also to manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers and distributors of consumer products and services.

“I encourage any Pennsylvania consumer or business who feels they are the victims of price-gouging to contact our office so we can thoroughly investigate the situation.”

Corbett said consumers can report potential price-gouging by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline, toll-free, at 1-800-441-2555 or by filing an online consumer complaint.