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Mayor's Report to City Council 12/08/14

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Executive Office of the Mayor
Vaughn D. Spencer
Administrative Report
December 8, 2014
Public Works
Secondary Digester Rehabilitation Project
An attempt to remove the lid from Digester #4 on 11/25/2014 was stopped due to safety reasons. The tank cover was heavier than anticipated due to the insulation layer of perlite and cement. After removal of the insulation layer, the lid was successfully removed on 12/2/2014. The lid weighed 115,000 lbs and Eastern Environmental did a commendable job in removing the lid and placing it on cribbing.
A 3-week look ahead includes sandblasting the lid to discover whether there is any structural damage and to prepare for an inspection of the lid by Evoqua, who manufactures the new mixer that will be placed in the digester. Sandblasting of the various parts (rim skirting, top of the roof plates and bottom of the ceiling plates) of the tank will occur followed by coatings applied to protect the tank. Demolition of items on the ground floor as well as the basement floor of the control building proceeds as well.
Pagoda Wall Status Report
The work on the Pagoda wall repair project to date consists of the following: Access to the bottom of the wall has been prepared and the swale area along the top inside of the wall has been excavated and graded. A section of the concrete swale has been poured. Preparation for the installation of the concrete cap beam has been partially completed. Some of the reinforcing for the concrete cap beam is in place. The stone mason is starting the wall stone wall repairs this week.
Thanks to Fred Lachat, it’s with great pleasure for me to share with you that Berks County Court of Common Pleas has ruled in favor of the City of Reading in regards to the recycling lawsuit, and the operation will continue to function as normal. This was covered in the Reading Eagle on December 6.
Fire Department
On Wednesday night 11/26 the Department responded to a working fire on the 3rd floor of a 2 ½ story row home at 839 Pear, the fire was contained to that structure with damage to the 2nd and 3rd floors. The fire was under brought under control 41 minutes after the arrival of the companies. There was one firefighter who sustained a minor injury from a fall, and there were no civilian injuries.
On Friday 11/28 the Department did submit an application to FEMA for an Assistance to Firefighters Grant for $996,200.00 to replace the tractor drawn ladder truck stationed at the 3rd and Court station.
On November 25th, three new Reading police officers graduated from the police academy and started their field training. They are Officers Diego Arcinegas, Josiah Fisher, and Bradley Silcox. They join Officer Cornell Deuber, who was also hired in July but had his basic training and went directly into the field training program. The police chief informs me that at least six officers will be retiring in 2015, so we will be looking for additional officer candidates.
There will a written test for police officer candidates administered on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at Bernardine Hall, Alvernia University starting promptly at 9:00 AM. To make this as convenient as possible, interested candidates do not have to apply in advance and there is no fee. Just show up and take the test. You will need a valid picture driver’s license to sit for the test.
We are especially interested in minority candidates as we work toward having a diverse police force. Recent focus has been on hiring more Spanish speaking officers, but we also need more black officers on our department. For more information on what it takes to be a Reading Police Officer, visit the city’s website at or stop by city hall and visit the police department or the human resources department.Community Development
Community Development
Visit From Federal Partners Network
On Friday, December 5th members of the Administration and Council, along with several local partners, met with representatives from the federal departments of HUD, HHS, EPA, CDC, GSA, SBA, and Social Security. We hosted a roundtable luncheon to discuss our efforts to revitalize the city and ways in which the agencies could play a larger role in directly supporting Reading, and took a brief tour through the city to key properties like Penn Square, 212 S. 8th St, and Riverfront Industrial Park to lay out our vision for the redevelopment of the sites.
We look forward to strengthening this relationship and tapping the resources and expertise each agency offers. A special thank you goes out to BARTA for use of a bus to transport the group around town.
Mayor’s Office
  • Clean City Initiative Project – Thanks to the City Lights Ministries and Director, Joe Sclafani, the alleyway in the 900 Block of Weiser St. next to Windsor and Ritter Playground was cleaned up on December 4. The dumpster was delivered around 9AM and the City Lights work crew arrived at 10AM.
  • A committee is being formed to start planning decorations for the playground at 3rd and Spruce for the holidays starting next year. Chris Daubert has agreed to be part of the planning.
  • Members of my staff and I participated in a roundtable discussion in HUD’s Philadelphia Regional Office to discuss strategies for eliminating homelessness within the regions. This is a collaborative effort being led by HUD, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Announced by First Lady Michelle Obama on June 6, 2014, the Challenge is a call to action to get local officials involved in eradicating veterans’ homelessness in their cities by the end of 2015. Raw data from HUD shows that the City of Reading had 23 homeless veterans in 2013 and has 43 homeless veterans in 2014.
Upcoming Community Events
  • The Outlet Neighborhood Group will be meeting on December 11 at 6:30 at St. Mark’s Church.
  • The will be a holiday celebration in the 500 block of Cedar Street the weekend of December 20 and 21.
  • December 11 marks the closing of the Hispanic Catholic Community’s closing of their 9-day devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. There will be a 6:00 mass at the Santander Arena followed by a feast.
  • The Holiday Party for the Northwest Elementary School will be on December 17 in Council Chambers at 9:30. The program normally begins with me greeting the children at 9:30, then police and fire talk to the children till about 10AM, when Santa arrives.
  • Wood to Wonderful is holding their annual Holiday party with Prospectus Berco on December 16.
  • The Hispanic Center’s Holiday Breakfast is at the Crowne Plaza on December 22 at 7:15. The Wyomissing Foundation and Berks County Bar Association will be honored.


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