Saturday, May 29, 2010

Decoration Day

Puzzled by the title?  Does Memorial Day ring a bell?  Decoration Day is what Memorial Day started out as to commemorate those who had died in the Civil War, later on it included all service members from all conflicts.  It was first officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 and was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Civil War soldiers at Arlington Cemetery.  It wasn't until after WWI that it recognized all soldiers who had given their lives.  Unfortunately too many people have forgotten the reason for the day.  It's not to have a long weekend or the "unofficial start of summer", but to remember the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform.  So when you are firing up the grill to cook the burgers and the dogs, or walking from your condo to the beach for some sun, take a moment and look around at all you have, because without the soldier and what they gave, there would be nothing to celebrate.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Clean It Up

Last Saturday, the Johnsontown Community Group had our second neighborhood clean up.  Several residents along with the Mayor of Downingtown joined in our efforts.  It appeared that the streets and alley ways were not as trash laden as they had been.  We had staged a clean up in November right after Halloween and it is possible that that along with our presence in the neighborhood others are not as tempted to throw their trash in unacceptable places.  We did discover though that there is a need to concetrate on Johnsontown Park as that seems to be the place that people feel that their refuse will not be discovered.  A Ford pick up truck bed liner was found, washing machine parts, bed springs and maybe an old mattress, car parts and all sorts of other blech was uncovered during our time out and about.  We are planning another day in the fall so come join us if you can and we hope to see everyone at our next meeting in June on the 8th @7:30PM.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Listen Up

An unfortunate experience has driven me to a new opinion about some of the elected officials not only nationally, but also locally.  Maybe all the problems have stemmed from a society that has taught children that EVERYONE gets a trophy no matter how much effort you put into winning or your work.  Or maybe it came from the "I'm OK, You're OK" thought process, but honestly I am a bit tired of the lackadaisical, martyr approach of those whom we have voted to represent our interests.  I guess I am wondering why it is that not one official that I have seen recently has the chutzpah to handle things when a heated discussion ensues or their constituents are displeased and just want a straight answer.  Understandably plenty of people can become rude and even belligerent when asking a question of a senator, mayor or council member, but there comes a time when it is earned.  It is time for these officials to understand that if I wanted to waltz I would have taken dancing lessons not come to an open forum to discover what is going on within the realm of which I live.  Listen up bureaucrats, all you have to do is answer the question simply and succinctly.  Don't dance around the issue, don't sidestep a direct request and for goodness sakes do not underestimate my intelligence.  If you chose to do the aforementioned then expect to have your lunch handed to you because those of us who feel the same way are about done with doing the Watusi just to hear "I don't know."  And by the way if you happen to encounter a constituent who pushes just a little too hard, don't go whining to your friends complaining that it was not fair.....suck it up and grow a pair!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We have been computerized

What a meeting is was last night!  The Daily Local News came and with not much more than an IPhone, a tripod and a great photographer, our meeting was streamed onto the web.  We had two great speakers:Jack Law-Public Works and Councilman Bob Smith.  Mr. Law gave us some great insight as to what to do to get things done in our little part of town and when we can schedule others.  He has been a good friend to Johnsontown and I am sure we will experience a long and prosperous time together.  Bob Smith was gracious and patient with us even when it became a little heated about the bridge project for Johnsontown Park.  Josh Maxwell was also there and he helped calrify some points on the project, but it's a hot button topic and I am sure that we will see and hear more about it.  I, myself do have to apologize to Mr. Smith, as I was the one who brought up the bridge project not realizing that it would put him in the kind of spot that it did and not intending it to become that heated.

I think as a group we did learn that we need to start attending council meetings on a more consistant basis, that our executive board needs to hone the skills that we do have, and that we do have a voice, we just have to learn to channel that sound to the apropriate places.  Can we up the quality of life in our neighborhood and maybe even "fight City Hall"?   Time will tell.  I have every confidence that together we can.

Johnsontown Community Group

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Big Happenings Tonight

Just a brief little note for tonight.  This evening we have the pleasure of being the first group to have their meeting streamed live on the net on the Daily Local News Website.  This is a new venture for the paper and for our group as it gets the word out about both.  I will let you know how it goes and you can let me know what you thought Johnsontown Community Group Goes Live.

Hope everyone can find some time to drop in!!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Educating the Instructors

The March issue of Philadelphia Magazine gave the distinction to Downingtown "The Grower".  The article, "10 Awesome Neighborhoods To Call Home" took a look at several places around Philadelphia and the suburbs to find some diamonds in the rough.  Having lived in Downingtown for 16 years now I would say for the most part it is a great place to live, but some of the drawbacks tend to make my temper flare at various times and lately the school district is stoking the fire.  DASD just released a statement saying that the budget will fall short approximately 5.6 million dollars and there will be some serious cuts in programs.  The board has looked at outsourcing jobs, done a transportation study, going paperless, not hiring as many new staff members and "streamlining" where they can.  In fact the next few years do not look good and even more cuts might be needed.  Normally this would not bother me, but enrollment numbers have not increased since the 2008-09 school year, yet a new middle school along with a STEM Academy are being built within the district.  In fact there was talk about raising taxes above what can normally be done within a district;special permission at one time was being sought.

When my children were in sixth grade, about two years ago, DASD teachers went on strike for more money and lower insurance premiums.  One of the only reasons the teachers returned to work was that their salaries were published in the newspaper, otherwise they most likely would have been out a lot longer.  When published the lowest paid teacher in DASD made almost $20,000 more than the median income in Downingtown and most certainly for working less hours.  DASD teachers race for the door once their "contract time" is up.  In fact they are in arbitration right now because they worked 10 minutes more than they were supposed to on "Back to School Night."

So here we are the residents of Downingtown, looking at paying more taxes for what in the long run has become a lackadaisical education on the part of some of the educators in DASD, a brand new middle school and a STEM Academy when those monies could most certainly be used in a more responsible way.  Those of us who live in Chester County know that our taxes are high for a reason, but when the reason is not viable nor visible why should we pay through the nose?  It's time to educate the educators on basic don't buy a boat if the lake has dried up.