Notebook Worthy: Hello, School Solar Power. Bye, Trees?

The Coatesville Solar Initiative may look something like this, its website indicates

SANATOGA PA – Recent jottings from a reporter’s notebook on solar power, sheep, and a scout’s power:

Solar Power And The “We’re Green!,” “Well, We’re Greener!” Contest

When people talk earnestly about energy conservation and environmental sustainability in southeastern Pennsylvania, the Pottsgrove School District usually figures in the discussion.

District Director of Facilities and Physical Plants Michael Katzenmoyer, over a period of several years, has introduced new equipment and processes that save Pottsgrove tens of thousands of dollars annually on its energy bills. It’s won awards and commendations from the federal government Energy Star program to boot.

Sure, other districts also have become energy-savvy, but few to Pottsgrove’s extent … except, maybe, at the Coatesville Area School District in Chester County. It seems to be taking being green to a whole new level.

Just two weeks ago, Coatesville announced the last regulatory hurdles were cleared to build a new $35 million solar energy farm within Caln Township, Chester County. The district has signed a long-term agreement to buy its electricity from the farm’s owner, the Coatesville Solar Initiative, and crown it as “the largest solar project in Pennsylvania to power a school campus.”

“While the general energy market has become increasingly volatile, solar facilities have a predictable output at a fixed price,” Coatesville Superintendent Richard Como said. “A project of this size will save the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs … allowing funds to go towards more productive uses.”

The district will buy the majority of power the farm will produce, 6 megawatts of its total 7.2-megawatt output.

The farm will occupy 46 acres on a south-facing hillside, with 25 acres of open space and solar panels covering the remainder. Planning and approvals alone for the project took more than 18 months; installation will take longer still.

In an environmental irony, aerial photos show the 20 acres to be occupied by the solar panels are heavily forested. All those trees will be cut down to make room for the project.

No Shortage Of Nativity Sheep

No Shortage Of Nativity SheepWith Christmas now less than two months away, churches and other organizations in western Montgomery County already are planning holiday decorations. In some places, they’ll include live nativity scenes. Area 4-H Club members have got a deal for them.

“Liven up your pre-holiday festivities,” proclaims an e-mail that arrived Monday (Nov. 5) from Penn State Cooperative Extension, which operates 4-H. “Make this a memorable holiday season by inviting 4-H youth and their sheep to your Nativity scene!”

For a suggested tax-deductible donation of $125 for between 2 and 2-1/2 hours, the Delaware County 4-H program will provide two sheep and several members and adult volunteers to supervise them. For multiple nights, the suggested donation is $100 nightly. “Members are willing to travel to most Montgomery County locations,” the DelCo e-mail added.

For more information or to arrange a nativity scene date, call 4-H volunteer Debbie Murphy at 610-793-1577.

Everybody seems to win in this offer. Donations support the 4-H cooperative livestock program. Nativity scene visitors get an animal enhancement they normally wouldn’t expect. And donors get to keep, um, whatever the sheep leave behind. Think of that as an early gardening gift.

Notebook Worthy: Hello, School Solar Power. Bye Bye, Trees?

Henry Spadt, second from right, with his father Jonathan Spadt, right; his brother, and Congressman Jim Gerlach, left.

This Kid’s Got A Future In Salesmanship

With the election now over, it’s safe to tell you about non-candidate Henry Spadt.

Henry’s in the fifth grade at Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, he’s a Boy Scout, and he’s the son of Melissa and Jonathan Spadt. To say his dad is politically connected locally is understatement. Henry doesn’t seem to mind. He’s an enthusiastic, smiling, likable young man who, as recent visitors to the Turkey Hill convenience store in Sanatoga will attest, also is a terrific popcorn salesman.

The younger Spadt was the guest speaker during a mid-October breakfast sponsored by the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America. At it, Congressman (and then candidate for re-election) Jim Gerlach received the council’s Continental Brigade Award.

Gerlach’s opponent in the congressional race, Manan Trivedi, didn’t have a terrific popcorn salesman speaking at his breakfast. In the interest of fairness, The Post held off on reporting Henry’s public speaking talents until the election was decided Tuesday (Nov. 6, 2012).

Henry did not sell Gerlach popcorn. Instead, he figuratively sold himself. He told those at the breakfast all about the neat things he was involved in as a scout, impressing the audience. Then he thanked and congratulated Gerlach for “all you have done for our community.”

And, Henry deadpanned, “I will be looking for a job in about 11 years, so please remember me.”

Editor’s note: Notebook Worthy is a series of occasional articles; find others like it, here.

Photos from top: Coatesville Solar Initiative, Google Images, and Jonathan Spadt