Technology


The southeast corner of the expanded Western Center, seen during construction last year.

LIMERICK PA – The construction is complete (well, most of it, anyway). The place shines from top to bottom. Students and instructors are ready, and tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010) from 5-8:30 p.m., they’ll welcome the public for tours and inspection of the newly renovated Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center, 77 Graterford Rd., Limerick PA.

The open house is intended for eighth- and ninth-grade students considering a technical career. But it’s also a grand occasion for dozens of students in 10th through 12th grades at the Spring-Ford Area School District, who already attend the center daily for half-day sessions in specialized career training. Many of them will be on hand, too, to help show off the building.

The center recently finished a multi-million dollar renovation project that includes several large classroom additions, upgraded equipment, a new dining room for culinary studies, a greenhouse for environmental design studies, and state-of the-art spray booths, hydraulic lifts and alignment machines for automotive and vehicle studies.

New programs – graphic design, dental occupations and diesel technology, among them – also have been added.

In addition to Spring-Ford, the center serves students in the Pottsgrove and Upper Perkiomen school districts.

For more information about tonight’s activities, call 610-489-7272.

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Technology makes tracking a child easier.

PHOENIXVILLE PA – A free workshop intended to help parents track their young children using the global positioning satellite (GPS) capabilities of cellular phones, will be held Oct. 28 (2010; Thursday) beginning at 7 p.m. in the Phoenixville Public Library, 183 Second Ave., Phoenixville PA.

 

Such services are available from cell phone carriers without the need for additional equipment. Parents can track their kids between school and home, and verify their whereabouts at the home of a friend.

The seminar is sponsored by the TriCounty Community Network, a Pottstown-based organization of health care providers and health-related groups. For more information on the session, or to make a reservation, call Mark Pinto at 610-933-3013 Ext. 32.

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Listen for the sirens but remember, it's only a test.

LIMERICK PA – Exelon Nuclear is scheduled to conduct its routine test Monday (Oct. 4, 2010) at 2 p.m. of emergency siren systems surrounding the Limerick Generating Station. Residents near the plant may hear a steady tone for a period of 3 minutes.

The test is performed on the first Monday of each month as part of Exelon’s emergency preparedness program.

The sirens are one of several methods emergency management authorities use to notify the public of emergencies such as fires, floods, tornadoes, hazardous material releases, or nuclear energy plant events.

Additional information on emergency preparedness can be found at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency web site.

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KING OF PRUSSIA PA – A 7-hour fair intended to introduce PECO energy customers – including most Limerick PA area residents – to new and existing electric generation suppliers will be held Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2010) from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Radisson Valley Forge Hotel, 1160 First Ave., King of Prussia PA.

The fair is free, open to the public, and is designed to familiarize consumers with their options in choosing electrical energy suppliers after Jan. 1 (2011) when utility deregulation takes effect in Pennsylvania. Visitors can meet supplier representatives, review their energy needs, and learn about competitive offers. Those attending may find it helpful to bring a copy of a recent utility bill for use during discussions with suppliers.

In addition, two presentations will be offered to explain the basics of electric choice. An explanation of “PECO Default Service Options” will be held at 8:30 a.m., followed at 9 a.m. by “Customer Experience Choosing A Competitive Supplier.”

Advance registration is not necessary but would be appreciated, PECO said. Registration can be for any one of three time frames: 7-9 a.m,9-11 a.m., or 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration can be entered online here.

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COLLEGEVILLE PA – To observe its 20th anniversary, the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, Main Street, Collegeville PA, is giving the public a literally wide-open view of its permanent collection. It has constructed a new, visible storage wing on the campus grounds, complete with a distinctive glass facade and a rooftop sculpture terrace.

The Berman museum (background) and its new wing (foreground).

The idea behind the addition, according to museum Director Lisa Hanover, is to foster renewed interaction between art and the community, and allow immediate access to the Berman’s permanently held works.

The 4,200-square-foot wing caps a $4 million expansion and renovation project designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Towers & Miller. The addition provides storage and lecture space, a works-on-paper study area, and new galleries including the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation Sculpture Terrace.

The addition is named the “Henry W. and June Pfeiffer Wing,” for long-time college trustee and museum supporter Henry ‘Hank’ Pfeiffer, Ursinus Class of 1948, and his late wife, June.

The collection’s visibility is enhanced by state-of-the-art open storage vitrines. Before the wing was built, more than 3,000 of the Berman’s paintings, drawings, sculpture and cultural artifacts had to be housed in basement storage.

“The new Pfeiffer Wing – an imaginative, welcoming space that is open, transparent, dynamic and light – echoes the philosophical foundation of the museum’s mission to capture and engage a diverse audience,” Hanover said. “The magnificent wing, inside and out, truly makes the (Berman) a national model for academic art museums,” she said.

The museum was dedicated in 1989, when business leaders and philanthropists the late Philip and Muriel Berman, found a home for their collections inside a historic stone building originally constructed on campus in 1921 as the Alumni Memorial Library.

The Berman pieces consisted of contemporary sculpture, American paintings, and works on paper and folk art. They were joined with an existing collection of 18th and 19th Century American and European paintings. Twenty years later, the museum houses more than 4,000 notable works of art, and attracts more than 35,000 visitors annually.

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ROYERSFORD PA – Limerick (PA) Township may soon be the latest local example of how solar power can shine as an alternative energy source, as the Kohl’s Department Store, 989 S. Township Line Rd., Royersford PA, prepares to outfit its roof with an array of solar panels to generate electricity for its own use.

The Lakeview Shopping Center, South Township Line Road, Royersford is shown in a Google satellite image, with an inset photo of the Kohl's there.

Township Manager Daniel Kerr told members of the Board of Supervisors, during their meeting Tuesday (July 20, 2010) in the municipal building, 646 W. Ridge Pike, that representatives of Kohl’s last week had applied for a building permit to install equipment that will gather and convert the sun’s energy into usable power intended to reduce the retailer’s energy costs.

Moving away from traditional energy sources, and increasing reliance on alternatives, as been a Kohl’s corporate mission for several years. Just five days earlier, on July 15, the Wisconsin-based company announced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy had awarded a 500th Kohl’s location with an Energy Star designation. The label is granted under specific standards to acknowledge a commitment to energy management and efficiency.

In its press release, Kohl’s estimated it has already saved almost $50 million in energy efficiencies wrung from its stores during the past four years.

If the Limerick permit is granted and the work at the Royersford store completed, it would join other Kohl’s locations in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, California and Oregon using solar-generated energy from its rooftop and other sources. Kohl’s claims it is the largest retail host of solar power, and that its distributed solar program is the largest in the world among retailers.

A Kohl’s executive vice president, in a Business Week magazine interview regarding the company’s earlier solar installations, said an array like that planned for the Royersford rooftop in the Lakeview Shopping Center may not earn an immediate return on its investment. As the cost of oil rises and utility prices increase, however, the retailer should continue to enjoy significant savings over 20 years, he noted.

Although Kerr did not disclose the specifics of the Royersford Kohl’s building permit application, similar installations on a typical Kohl’s store of 88,000 square feet reportedly have involved more than 2,300 solar panels. A 2008 Kohl’s estimate said its average solar panel installation provided “30 percent of a store’s annual energy, or enough to power 54 homes annually.”

Kohl’s also last week announced that beginning in Spring 2011 all its newly constructed stores will be designed to qualify for Energy Star designation.

Related (to the Limerick Township Board of Supervisors’ July 20 meeting):

Satellite map image from Panoramio; Kohl’s store inset from LoopNet

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LIMERICK PA – Imagine yourself suspended a hundred or more feet in the air – cruising high above trees, fields, homes, and shopping centers – with the wind whipping at your bare legs and the steady hum of an engine in your ears.

You’re flying from airport to airport, from Perkiomen Valley to Limerick PA, not in a traditional airplane but in one of those one-person, open-cockpit ultra-light models that looks like a go-kart fitted with wings. Would you be having fun?

YouTube account holder MySport2S sure did, in a 7-minute video he posted Sunday (July 11, 2010). He took his footage using a Flip-brand Ultra video camera fastened to the frame of his plane. It was mounted vertically, though, not horizontally, so the images consequently show more of a black border then you may be accustomed to.

The flight itself is thrilling. Go take a ride!

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