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Commissioner Barnhardt News

Efforts underway to draw more visitors to Reading's Pagoda

From the Reading Eagle (8/1/17): 

When Wendy Hiester-Gilbert recalls childhood memories of nights spent at her grandparents' home in Reading, the image of the Pagoda comes to mind.

She can still picture the red glare from atop Mount Penn filtering through the bedroom window and acting as a night light.

"I was so fascinated by the Japanese culture when I would look out the window at night at my grandmother's house and see the red Pagoda," she recalled recently.

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Fleetwood teen leads effort for new ramps at Gring's Mill Recreation Area

From the Reading Eagle (7/15/17):

More times than she would like to remember, Michelle Hnath found herself balancing on a rock along the Tulpehocken Creek at Gring's Mill Recreation Area in Spring Township trying to haul her 50-pound kayak out of the water.

Carrying it on her shoulder, it was a short walk downstream to get past the dam that blocks the waterway.

Then, it was a precarious few steps down a steep slope rife with poison ivy, holding onto a tree to prevent tumbling into the creek.

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Ashley Furniture breaks ground on distribution center in Berks County

From the Reading Eagle (Evan Jones) 7/11/17:

Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. broke ground on a 465,000 square-foot e-commerce and distribution center in Ontelaunee Township Tuesday morning. Officials say the project will add 200 jobs.

The facility is an expansion to Ashley's existing facility along Ashley Way, just off Route 61, and will make its total footprint 1.7 million square feet. 

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Art installation 'This Is Reading' tells the story of the city's transformation

From the Reading Eagle (7/9/17):

Build it, and they will come.

That line, paraphrased from the film "Field of Dreams," was ultimately about healing.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, whose acclaimed play "Sweat" was inspired by and set in Reading, was drawn here in 2011 following an article in The New York Times that described Reading as the poorest city of its size in the nation.

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Council on Chemical Abuse reaches end of era

From the Reading Eagle (7/7/17): 

The linchpin in Berks County's fight against the drug overdose crisis - a private organization that spends millions of dollars in taxpayer funds but has shielded itself from formal public inquiries - has reached the end of an era.

The Reading-based Council on Chemical Abuse last week announced the planned retirement of George J. Vogel Jr., who has been executive director for 39 years.


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Reading-inspired art and theater project closer to fruition

From the Reading Eagle 7/6/17:

Santo Marabella has been envisioning the art and theater project currently taking shape at the Franklin Street Station in downtown Reading for more than five years.

Serving as one of the producers of "This Is Reading," the film commissioner of ReadingFilm is helping to spearhead some of the local components of the multimedia installation conceived by Lynn Nottage, the award-winning playwright of the Reading-based drama "Sweat."

TODAY'S SPONSOR: googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1432905682301-0'); And Wednesday night, "This Is Reading" came one step closer to fruition in anticipation of the official opening July 14 as giant video portraits of local residents were projected on the north and south sides of the restored railroad station for the first time. The portraits will be projected each night from 8 p.m. until midnight throughout the month of July.


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West Reading woman urges commissioners to be wary of privatizing Berks County Prison

From the Reading Eagle 6/30/17:

Reading, PA - To the surprise of his colleagues last week, Berks County Commissioner Mark C. Scott revealed that he had reached out to a private prison operator to see if it could offer any benefits as the board contemplates the construction and future operation of the county jail.

A concerned citizen showed up at the commissioners meeting Thursday to let Scott know that people are watching him carefully.

Shannon Kozik of West Reading suggested that Scott, a Republican, examine the full economic and social impact privatizing the prison would have on the people housed there and those who work there before making any decisions.

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Director of drug abuse agency in Berks to retire

From the Reading Eagle 06/30/17:

The Council on Chemical Abuse announced Thursday that its executive director of 39 years, George J. Vogel Jr., plans to retire.

COCA is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as Berks County's clearinghouse agency for the expenditure of public money on drug abuse treatment, prevention and related services.

“It has been an honor to work with George over the years,” COCA board President Jeff Auman said in a press release issued by COCA. “His visionary leadership and passion have paved the way for continued growth and expansion of necessary services to address the disease of addiction. He has established a strong foundation and history of success at COCA.”

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Pennsylvania attorney general joins investigation into opioid crisis

From the Reading Eagle 06/16/17:

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro has joined with attorneys general from across the nation to investigate whether pharmaceutical companies used unlawful practices to market and sell opioid medicines.

Shapiro revealed Pennsylvania's role in a news release issued Thursday.

The abuse of opioid painkillers has fueled a national crisis of drug deaths. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced last week that 4,642 people died of drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2016, an increase of 37 percent from the previous year.

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Vote tally finished, but controversy unresolved

From the Reading Eagle (06/09/17):

Berks County has completed the tally of votes in the primary election.

Officials with Berks County Board of Elections said Thursday that no major problems were reported to have taken place at the polls before certifying the results. And now that the outcome of the contests are finalized, there is a clear picture of which Republican and Democratic candidates will be on the ballot for municipal, school and judicial races in November.

Independent and third-party candidates still have a chance to petition to get on the fall ballot.

There is, however, controversy that remains unresolved.

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Commissioners' Workshop Meeting

Watch the Berks County Commissioners' Workshop Meeting on BCTV.

Live Thursdays at 10:00 AM.

Check the schedule for replays or watch online.