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Notebook Worthy

SANATOGA  PA – Weekend (May 9-10, 2009) jottings from a reporter’s notebook:

Paying Homage To The Fallen

If you pass a Pennsylvania State Police vehicle this week (May 10-16, 2009), take note of the blue ribbon tied to the handle on its left rear door. Every patrol vehicle in the troopers’ fleet will bear those ribbons to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, according to state Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign, which observes National Police Week, is sponsored by Concerns of Police Survivors Inc. It’s a national organization that represents more than 15,000 surviving families of fallen officers.

Local Expertise In The 422 Debate

A scene that's all too familiar: traffic on Route 422 East snakes its way toward the Trooper PA exit.

Can making U.S. Rt. 422 a toll highway solve this?

Some of the discussion about turning U.S. Route 422, between King of Prussia and Reading, into a toll road focuses on two topics: how the toll will be collected, and how the proceeds will be spent.

Advocates claim the toll could be collected electronically, using a kind of Easy-Pass system or something similar. Well, as an aside, there happens to be an area expert in the “something similar” department.

E-Transit, a company located in the Norristown suburb of Bridgeport PA, on Thursday (May 7, 2009) won a contract from the Gasparilla Island (FL) Bridge Authority to install a new toll system on a bridge between the island and the neighboring city of Boca Grande, according to the Gasparilla Gazette newspaper.

E-Transit beat out four other bidders for the job, which is expected to cost almost $592,000. One of the company’s selling points: in the future, the bridge toll collection system can be modified from one that scans existing bar codes fixed to car windshields, to one that electronically tracks tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) chips inside cars.

Advocates also suggest the collected proceeds must be used to enhance existing, and install new, mass transit projects to serve the 422 corridor. Montgomery County planners favor a rail line that could extend west at least to Pottstown, and possibly farther to Reading. Well, as a second aside, there happens to be an area expert in community rail transit systems.

STV Inc., a Douglassville PA-based engineering firm, last month (April 2009) announced that one of its affiliates, STV/Ralph White Associates in North Carolina, won an award for work in designing and managing the construction of a $462 million, 9.6-mile light rail system in Charlotte NC. The number of riders currently using the system is almost double what was expected.

How do achievements of either company affect the 422 debate? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they shouldn’t. Then again, maybe both firms could be tapped as local resources to help address increasing public questions about the toll road proposal.

Green Innovation In Our Backyard

Western Montgomery County  residents looking for cutting-edge green technology may be pleased to know they need not look far. In nearby Limerick PA, Teleflex Inc. on Tuesday (May 5, 2009) said that one of its divisions, Teleflex Power Systems, had scored a coup by selling a compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel system in Venezuela.

The government of that Latin American country is pushing the use of alternative fuels. It named Teleflex – which markets fuel systems for four-, six- and eight-cylinder light-duty engines – as a preferred supplier. Working hand-in-hand with the government program during the past year “paid dividends,” Power Systems’ President Kam Mofid said.

CNG is a fossil fuel substitute for gasoline that is said to be environmentally cleaner and much safer than other petroleum products in the event of a spill.

Sticking Out In The Rain

The rain Tuesday (May 5, 2009), which followed the rain Monday and which preceded the rain Wednesday, slowed traffic to a crawl on Ridge Pike and U.S. Route 422, as well as many highways that intersect them. The lull in driving action gave motorists a chance to acquaint themselves with bumpers of the cars ahead of them.

Best bumper stickers of the morning:

  • “If you can read this, you’re within Phaser range.”
  • “My car is worth as much as my house. In this economy, my house isn’t worth much.”

All That Glitters For April Fools

Fire hydrant bling-bling.

Fire hydrant bling-bling.

Gotta hand it to the volunteers of the Trappe (PA) Fire Company: they’ve got a sense of political humor. Although this item is more than a month old, it’s still timely to share … given the economic recovery headlines now seen almost daily.

Trappe firefighters and emergency personnel regularly post items on their website that report to the public about activities in which they’re involved. Last week web visitors could find an April 24-dated article about a fire on Stine Drive in Collegeville, to which the company responded. There’s also an April 22 article about a Norristown fire, where the company provided assistance, and an April 2 article about a vehicle accident.

Then there’s this, dated April 1:

“In an unprecedented and unexpected move, Trappe Fire Company today received a windfall $2 million dollar grant from the federal government TARP recovery fund program. Local congressional leaders have been working diligently to secure the funds to ensure the conversion to solid Gold Fire Hydrants could be completed before all the government money was spent on bailouts and other less-than-effective programs.”

The story goes on for three more paragraphs, and is accompanied by a photo of a gold-colored fire hydrant.

Its by-lined author: “Justin Kiddin-Mann.”

Website image from TrappeFire.org

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