thereporteronline Lansdale, PA News, Breaking News, Sports, Weather, Things to Do Tue, 02 Jan 2024 01:29:27 +0000 en-US hourly 30 thereporteronline 32 32 192793213 Grotz: Time is now for Jalen Hurts to commit to taking charge of Eagles Tue, 02 Jan 2024 01:28:34 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Clearly the Eagles aren’t listening to Nick Sirianni. Would anybody be surprised if Bill Belichick succeeded him, assuming it’s time for him to move on from the Patriots?

The Eagles aren’t tuned in to their coordinators, the veteran captains, and certainly not their critics. The proof is a gruesome 1-4 December to remember highlighted by a last-minute 35-31 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, who arrived here Sunday with a lot of questions and a 3-12 record.

Leadership is needed, and there is at least one Eagles player who can supply it. In fact, he tried in Seattle and a few days later put himself back in his place. The Eagles have been regretting that.

Obviously, the guy we’re talking about is quarterback Jalen Hurts, wise and respectful beyond his years, yet when he steps up to the podium, duller than a waiting-room conversation about the weather.

Hurts surprised himself when in the wake of a pathetic loss to the Seahawks, the team’s third straight setback, he remarked that the Eagles weren’t “committed enough.”

Faster than you could say, “seriously?,” the debates began. While Hurts was 100 percent correct, he walked the phrase back days later. Too many players weren’t doing everything they could, and they deserved to be put on notice that more was required if they wanted to be here.

Since the “committed” quote, the Eagles have had two more opportunities to show they were all in. The first was a one-possession victory over the lowly New York Giants in which we had to await the resolution of a Hail Mary from Tyrod Taylor, who came out of the bullpen at halftime.

The other was Sunday’s four-point loss to the Cardinals, who marched up and down Lincoln Financial Field the way the Eagles did when they were committed.

Last year, the Eagles leaned on Hurts and the offense to control the football and keep the defense fresh to rush the passer. This year, the symbiotic relationship between those units has been a train wreck.

Changing defensive coordinators hasn’t helped, though don’t blame newbie Matt Patricia. The lack of experienced healthy players in the back end of the defense is ridiculous. Receivers have been open all season. If Mac Jones could throw, the New England Patriots would have prevailed in the opener.

The Eagles at least are trying to get better long-term by breaking in rookie defensive backs Sydney Brown, Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks. They can run, though the tackling leaves much to be desired. The bottom line is there are only so many productive snaps you can get out of DB old heads like Bradley Roby (scratched last week) and Kevin Byard (should be scratched).

But back to Hurts. The quarterback noticed something about his team when he was fighting an illness leading up to the Seattle trip. When Hurts said something about the lack of commitment, his apologists defended him by spinning his remarks as a team thing.

What’s wrong with transparency in a three-game skid? Hurts should have named names, positions and coaches in Seattle. Maybe then the people around him would have done something before it was too late.

While it is basically too late to get back to the Super Bowl this season, it’s not too early to set a committed tone for 2024.

Let’s be honest, this is Hurts’ team. He’s not going anywhere. It’s not too late for Hurts to assert himself. He doesn’t have to rip teammates or coaches, but he needs to be heard instead of silenced. Communication is key. The face of the franchise should not under any circumstances have to spend time explaining what he really meant to say.

In a football city like Philly, there is no way to walk back what you say without regretting it. So, don’t. Football fans here are a lot more sophisticated than what some players would like to believe. They can smell a coverup from the cheap seats.

Sirianni, for all his energy and focus, has been lost this season without last year’s coordinators, now Cardinals head coach Jonanthan Gannon and Colts head coach Shane Steichen. Gannon out-strategized Sirianni Sunday by turning that onside kick with the ultra-low success rate into a chance to get the ball back and go for the win. Steichen is fighting for a division pennant with Gardner Minshew as his quarterback, and he found a way to get the most out of Hurts, who looked like he was ready to take a next-level step at training camp.

Hurts’ numbers are a lot like last season. The Eagles again boast two 1,000-yard receivers in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith and a 1,000-yard rusher in D’Andre Swift. But going from 10-1 to 11-5 once the schedule got tough? Struggling down the homestretch against pitiful teams with little to play for?

Belichick would make a difference if say, Jeffrey Lurie wanted to go that way. Bill loves Hurts.

But Hurts was right, the Eagles aren’t committed enough. And right now it’s up to him to make the non-commits accountable.

To contact Bob Grotz, email

1024535 2024-01-01T20:28:34+00:00 2024-01-01T20:29:27+00:00
Eagles Notebook: With no control of destiny, Nick Sirianni weighs rest, recapturing winning form Tue, 02 Jan 2024 00:27:36 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles are all but locked into the NFC’s fifth playoff slot and a wild card game at Tampa Bay due to a late-season slide featuring four losses in five games.

That is according to the probability tables of the always accurate website. The Eagles have an 83 percent probability of finishing fifth, the Buccaneers a 75 percent chance of settling in with the No. 4 seed.

The Buccaneers (8-8) must defeat the Carolina Panthers (2-14) to win the NFC South division and the fourth sport, and the road-awful Dallas Cowboys (11-5) must prevail at Washington (4-12) to lock up the NFC East pennant.

The dilemma for the Eagles (11-5) is how to approach the regular season finale at the New York Giants (5-11).

The Eagles and Cowboys games Sunday both start at 4:25 p.m., so as not to allow either team an easy choice on resting regulars. Nonetheless, with nothing to gain if the Cowboys roll as expected, the Eagles haven’t ruled out resting players.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to win this game,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Monday. “But still, that’s a consideration. We understand we are at the mercy of another team to win the division, all those different things. So, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to win this game. We’ve also got to get out of the rut that we’re in, and so I’m not saying to you yes, I’m not saying to you no. I’m saying to you that everything is discussed but there are some unknowns about the game, Dallas and Washington. And we’ve got to … play and coach good football, too. So, everything is on the table.”

The Eagles are 6.5-point favorites over the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Cowboys, just 3-5 on the road, are 13.5-point favorites over the Commanders.

• • •

Don’t expect wide receiver DeVonta Smith to play against the Giants due to a sprained ankle.

While Sirianni wouldn’t rule Smith out, the coach said his guy was on crutches Monday with a boot on the ankle.

“He’s tough as anybody we have on this team,” Sirianni said. “This guy, he’s a warrior. He’ll do everything he possibly can to get himself back on that field as fast as he possibly can. And what he means to this football team is not only the play-making ability that he has to change the game with the ball in his hands, but also just his toughness is contagious. I think his toughness is super contagious.”

Elsewhere in the injury department, cornerback Darius Slay still is working his way back from arthroscopic knee surgery. Nickel back Avonte Maddox may have re-injured a pectoral muscle that cost him 13 games this year.

• • •

If you’re keeping count, Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown again blew off reporters seeking comment Sunday, explaining that it wasn’t personal.

The previous week, following a win over the Giants, he declined comment saying he didn’t have anything nice to say, so he wouldn’t say anything.

Clearly Brown is frustrated over his role. Late in the 35-31 loss to the Cardinals, the Eagles took their foot off the accelerator to angle for the go-ahead field goal. Kyler Murray promptly marched the Cardinals 70 yards for the triumphant touchdown.

Rest assured, Brown wanted the Eagles to be aggressive and go for the end zone rather than play it safe and take three points.

“I don’t want to speak for him,” Sirianni said. “But you know, obviously when you have a dynamic playmaker like A.J., he’s going to want to change the game at all times and he’s capable of doing that at all times. We’re all frustrated right now, especially coming off that loss yesterday.

“I know this, and I said this to you guys on the record, off the record, everything. There’s nobody that is as good of a teammate. There is nobody that’s as good of a person as A.J. and shoot, he’s one of our very best players and one of our best players since I’ve been here in the past three years. I can’t say enough good things about him. We’re all frustrated, I think.”

• • •

Speaking of frustrated, Eagles edge rusher Haason Reddick is in a sacks drought that began when Matt Patricia began calling the defensive plays.

Reddick has lately dropped into coverage more, which is not his forte. Reddick had 2.0 sacks against Dallas, giving him 11.0 on the season, when Sean Desai last called the defensive signals. In the last three games, he has zero sacks, one tackle for loss and four quarterback hits.

“We know he gets paid to rush the passer, and he’s really good at it,” Sirianni said. “But again, it’s the predictability. The quarterback is going to get it out even quicker if he knows exactly what’s happening. So, again, there’s some games, he’s going to drop a little more than other games. But make no mistake about it. You know what, I think he dropped six times maybe.”

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TATUM: Fewer pheasants in PGC’s Christmas stockings Mon, 01 Jan 2024 17:22:13 +0000 Wingshooters and bird dog enthusiasts alike always look forward to Pennsylvania’s generous late season on ring-necked pheasants which this year runs from Dec. 26 through Feb, 29, 2024. To accommodate pheasant hunters, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) generally schedules several statewide post-Christmas stockings of the long-tailed bird throughout the winter season.

Unfortunately, the recent detection of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) at a private Northumberland County game farm has prompted the PGC to adjust and somewhat curtail its late season pheasant stockings in order to help safeguard the agency’s pheasant program and better ensure it will continue next year in the 2024-25 hunting seasons.

That means in the next two weeks the PGC will release fewer pheasants statewide than initially planned. And here in our eastern part of the state, pheasant releases will occur only this week and not next, with properties that receive birds essentially seeing their final two releases of the year combined as one.

These relatively minor adjustments, however, could significantly reduce the risk of an HPAI outbreak with potentially devastating impacts for pheasant hunters. Here’s how.

Last week, the state Department of Agriculture announced the recent detection of HPAI at Martz’s Game Farm in Northumberland County. While the pheasants released by the Game Commission originate from a different facility, Mahantongo Game Farm, where HPAI has not been detected nor suspected, that facility also is in Northumberland County.

The proximity of HPAI to the facility represents a concern. If there was an HPAI outbreak there, agricultural regulations would require euthanasia of many or all of the breeding pheasants that provide stock for the Game Commission’s program, jeopardizing the program’s future.

In response the PGC is taking some precautionary measures. First, the agency will hold onto all of the hen pheasants, and about 5% of the roosters, that had been slated for release in the final two pheasant releases of 2023-24. Then, if HPAI remains undetected through continued testing of birds at Mahantongo Game Farm, pheasants there will be temporarily transferred to the Game Commission’s Loyalsock Game Farm. That’s why the counties served by Loyalsock will get their final two releases all at once this week. The pheasants to be released need to be cleared out to make room for those coming in.

Loyalsock Game Farm serves the following counties to be stocked this week: Adams, Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Centre, Columbia, Cumberland, Franklin (State Game Lands 235 only), Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Montgomery, Northumberland, Perry, Pike, Schuylkill, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Union, Wayne, Wyoming and York.

The remaining counties are served by the Southwest Game Farm, and rooster-only pheasant releases in those counties will continue as scheduled in each of the next two weeks.

“This wasn’t a decision the Game Commission took lightly, because we know that pheasant hunters have been looking forward to the late small game season pheasant releases and will be inconvenienced by our making these adjustments on short notice,” said Ian Gregg, Wildlife Operations Division Chief. “However, we believe this precautionary approach is the right thing to do because it will significantly reduce the risk of disease impacts that would be far more devastating to pheasant hunting in the long run.”

For pheasant fans here in the southeast corner of the state, the PGC’s planned winter stockings of pheasants consisted of 6,900 cockbirds and 1,340 hens. Unaffected stocking sites here in our neck of Penn’s Woods include the Chester Water Authority, Struble Lake, French Creek State Park, and State Game Lands 43. The only nearby stocking sites restricted to a single stocking is State Game Lands 234 outside of Pottstown and Blue Marsh Lake in Berks County.

A list of properties scheduled to be stocked with pheasants in the next two weeks can be found on the 2023 Pheasant Allocation page at


While the 2023-24 Pennsylvania hunting licenses remain valid until July 1, 2024, our Pennsylvania fishing licenses run concurrent with the calendar year. If you have plans to do any fishing here in the Commonwealth anytime soon, you’ll need to purchase a brand new 2024 PA fishing license. Here’s wishing all of our readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tom Tatum is the outdoors columnist for the MediaNews Group. You can reach him at

1024515 2024-01-01T12:22:13+00:00 2024-01-01T12:22:33+00:00
Editorial: Let’s make the most of 2024 Mon, 01 Jan 2024 12:00:09 +0000 We’ve arrived at 2024. Every new year elicits a combination of anticipation and dread, especially in these turbulent times. That’s especially true in presidential election years.

We’re still dealing with the fallout of the tumultuous election of 2020 and the conflicts that followed it.

It looks quite likely that we’ll be seeing a rematch between President Joe Biden and his predecessor in the White House, former President Donald Trump.

The 45th president is facing several criminal and civil trials, including charges related to what happened in the aftermath of the 2020 election. The prospect of an active candidate for president being on trial during the campaign poses yet another test for our nation. His status on the ballot is in question in some states. Meanwhile House Republicans are moving toward impeaching Biden on allegations related to his son Hunter Biden’s business practices involving foreign countries.

Throw in always contentious congressional campaigns and a race for U.S. Senate, and there’s a lot to keep us arguing.

It does feel as if we’re sitting on a powder keg, but it’s not as if Americans have had a break from tension during the years in between presidential elections. In today’s world political rhetoric always seems to be pitched at maximum volume no matter the date. And while it largely goes unspoken these days, the trauma caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on so many aspects of our lives remains a significant factor. It will take a very long time, if ever, for those wounds to heal.

For the next 10 months or so the situation is only going to get more fraught, with people on both sides of the political divide trying to convince the rest of us that the future survival of our republic depends on their candidate winning.

Perhaps we should be used to this by now. American politics has been growing more rancorous with each passing election cycle going back decades. Much of the problem has roots in the cultural upheaval of the 1960s. Anyone who ever watched an episode of the 1970s sitcom “All in the Family” knows that our nation didn’t just discover bitter political discourse. The recent death of that show’s creator, Norman Lear, offered a reminder of just how nasty things could get a half-century ago. And of course sharp divisions have been part of American life from the beginning of our history.

Today we have the added fuel of social media leading people to flock to one side or the other and tune out views that differ from theirs.

Once again we urge readers to keep their cool and encourage those around them to do the same. It’s not going to be easy. There are a lot of strong feelings around these days, and plenty of people eager to capitalize on political passions to suit their own needs. But no one has to give in to this. Certainly people should follow the news. But constant attention to national headlines throughout one’s waking hours is not healthy.

When you do communicate with others regarding politics, particularly those with conflicting views, aim to persuade rather than score points. Of all the challenges in today’s political discourse, one of the worst is the tendency to talk past people rather than have an honest, open conversation.

Remember that it’s impossible to achieve absolute victory, and when the race is over we’re still going to need to live with one another and get things accomplished.

It’s also important to avoid focusing too much on Washington. Remember to keep an eye on what’s going on closer to home, where the national red vs. blue feud isn’t as keenly felt.

Pennsylvania’s leaders have some important issues to explore in the coming year, including ongoing debates over public school funding and the idea of providing government financial support for private education.

We just concluded the state’s first year of divided legislative leadership after a long stretch of full Republican control in the Capitol. It’s been a bit of a rocky ride so far. We urge Gov. Josh Shapiro and the House and Senate leaders of both parties to make the most of the next few months even with the inevitable distraction of a campaign year.

There will be plenty of challenges in the coming year from the national level on down to the local. On this first day of 2024, we call on everyone to do their part to deal with them in a constructive manner. That’s the first step toward making this a truly happy new year.

1024511 2024-01-01T07:00:09+00:00 2024-01-01T07:00:22+00:00
Bucks County approves budget that includes tax increase Mon, 01 Jan 2024 11:15:11 +0000 Bucks County homeowners on average will pay an additional $60 in property taxes in 2024 under a new $486.8 million budget that retains all departments and services like Courts and Row Offices, while erasing the county’s long-running structural deficit.

County property taxes last rose in 2020 under the previous Administration, according to James O’Malley, county spokesperson, who indicated the new two-mill tax increase is expected to raise nearly $17 million annually and enable elimination of the long-running deficit.

“The hike in 2020 wasn’t enough to erase the deficit,” he said. “The new increase is in line with findings from the county’s 2020 bipartisan Transition Team Report, which recommended a two-mill increase as a way to stabilize the county’s finances.”

The new budget was adopted in a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie and Vice Chair Diane Ellis-Marseglia voting in favor of the full budget package, as recommended to the commissioners by Chief Financial Officer Dave Boscola.

Commissioner Secretary Gene DiGirolamo voted against the budget as well as the tax, millage, and fee schedules. He voted in favor of appropriations to County agencies and authorities.

The modest tax increase that was approved, coupled with the county’s decreasing debt obligations, should remove the need for more tax hikes and stabilize finances at least through the end of the decade, said Marseglia.

“We tried for a couple years to not deal with the deficit during COVID, because we knew people were stretched and they couldn’t afford to have a tax increase,” she said. “Everybody knows we have a structural deficit. Everybody knows where it came from. We have the lowest debt ratio in the collar counties, and I believe we have done a really good job to keep this under $1.20 per week.”

The new budget is a 6.2 percent increase over 2023. In keeping with previous years, the bulk of the new allotments – about 75 percent – are earmarked for departments providing public safety, public health services, mental health services and social services programs.

Harvie said the previous Administration patched budget gaps using the reserve fund – a practice the current Administration ended in the “interest of fiscal responsibility,” said O’Malley – and that today, the fund is as low as it can go without risking a credit rating downgrade.

1023795 2024-01-01T06:15:11+00:00 2023-12-28T18:30:15+00:00
YEAR IN REVIEW: Tourism in Montgomery County continues to rebound Mon, 01 Jan 2024 11:00:54 +0000 UPPER MERION — 2023 was a good year for tourism in Montgomery County — a year that saw tourism rebound — coming very close to pre-pandemic levels.

At the end of fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30, the county’s hospitality industry had reached 98.9% of pre-pandemic levels. Visitor spending in the county topped $1.6 billion — up 14.4% over the previous year.

The agency that leads the promotion of Montgomery County as a destination is the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. A private, nonprofit membership-based sales and marketing organization, the board actively promotes the Valley Forge Area and Montgomery County and its member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services.

It works to fill the county’s more than 9,400 hotel rooms by attracting meetings, sports, tourism and leisure businesses.

Mike Bowman is the president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. He recently sat down with MediaNews Group to talk about the recovery and how the industry, visitors and his agency have changed in this post-COVID era.

How Bad Did Things Get During the Pandemic?

When COVID-19 struck early in 2020, there was an immediate impact on the hospitality industry. Restaurants shut down, attractions closed, hotel occupancy plummeted, and weddings and meetings were canceled.

“We were coming off a great 2019. We were having a great first quarter (of 2020). We went from 60% occupancy to 2% overnight. We hit bottom quick,” Bowman said.

From there it was a gradual recovery as some of the restrictions began to ease.

“We got into 2022 and got a surge that carried us forward. Then we started seeing families getting together again, and the weekends started to click. I’m very encouraged,” he added.

Mike Bowman (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)
Mike Bowman (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)

The Recovery

“I would say the business is back and it was a very, very good year for Montgomery County. But the business is different,” Bowman said. “For example, our mid-week corporate business is still rebounding. We’re not where we were in 2019, because of work from home for many companies.”

Over the last four or five months, he said, there has been an uptick in the corporate business on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“I think Thursday has become Friday for people. Monday is ‘let’s get ready for the week,’” he said, adding there is also an uptick at Philadelphia International Airport on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Bowman added that leadership of the county’s hotels is also seeing that mid-week increase.

Bowman said it’s taking a while for that segment to rebound fully because work from home is still part of the business climate.

One area that came roaring back in fiscal year 2023 was the youth sports segment — setting a record this summer.

The county hosted 35 sporting events with record-high attendance, generating more than 85,000 total room nights, resulting in $23 million in economic impact, up 19% over last year, the tourism board said.

The U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern President’s Cup, held June 16-20, was the single largest sporting event to ever come to Montgomery County, according to the agency’s annual report. The tournament generated 5,000 room nights and $5 million in economic impact.

In 2024, the county will play host to the YMCA Gymnastics Nationals — an event Bowman said should be an event larger than the soccer tournament.

Sports contributes more than 70% of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s total group business. Six years ago, Bowman said, youth sports-related bookings were 28% of the agency’s group business.

Also performing well is weekend leisure.

“The weekend business has been incredible. We had a really strong summer, softened up in August, then bam, we had a good September and October,” Bowman said. “The wedding industry, reunions and family gatherings are really strong.”

This photo was taken during filming of a commercial that is part of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board's most recent marketing campaign. In this photo, the actors, portraying a family visiting the county, do some shopping at King of Prussia Mall. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)
This photo was taken during filming of a commercial that is part of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s most recent marketing campaign. In this photo, the actors, portraying a family visiting the county, do some shopping at King of Prussia Mall. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)

Occupancy at the county’s 83 hotels, Bowman said, is still down a point or two from 2019 levels, but rates were up, with a daily rate of $133. He said the hotels’ margins were down during fiscal year 2023 because of the cost of goods.

The properties are producing more than $200 million in hotel room revenue, a 9% increase over 2022, according to the VFTCB’s annual report. In June, hotel revenue was the highest ever, reaching $29.3 million and an average daily rate of $147.

Bowman said there was a time, maybe seven or eight years ago when it was harder to sell weekends than weekdays.

“The weekend business all year from 2022 into 2023 has been unbelievable for most of the hotels,” he said. “When you look at our indicators for the region we’re outperforming — with momentum — most of the suburban counties.”

What Has Changed?

When it comes to visitors, Bowman said there has been a shift in their behavior. He said there has been an increase in businesses located on “main streets” in the county, as more visitors look for that experience.

“They (visitors) want to sit on a bench and have an ice cream cone. … We’re seeing a large uptick on Thursdays on social media and the website — especially from women looking for things to do for families for the weekend. They are going out,” he said, adding visitors are also looking for value.

Mike Bowman, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board president & CEO speaks during the tourism agency's annual luncheon Oct. 26. The tourism board has released its annual report - presenting a picture of continuing recovery of the industry in Montgomery County. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)
Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board speaks during the agency’s annual lunch, Oct. 26. Bowman is optimistic about 2024, following a good year for tourism in Montgomery County. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)

For the venues — the hotels, restaurants and attractions — Bowman said things got “pretty rough” for them during the pandemic, but they are doing better now than even six to 12 months ago. He said adding technology has helped — things like visitors settling checks at the table, or checking into a hotel via their phones.

“There has also been a lot of learning on how do we find and retain our people. A lot of hotels are investing in helping with tuition reimbursement and other things to keep people — because turnover costs a lot of money,” Bowman added.

The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board has shifted to meet the new “norm” for the hospitality industry.

Since the pandemic, the agency’s staff has gone from 31 to 22. The youth sports team added two positions, as did marketing, according to Bowman, who said the agency shifted focus to “quality from quantity, to bring in the right, smart people.”

He added that the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board has refreshed its marketing, with its social media strategy and digital marketing efforts making emotional connections and focusing on things to do.

“Our TV campaigns are pretty funny, we’ve added humor to them,” Bowman said. “They have a great message — we’re using a lot of fun and humor in what we do, saying ‘hey, come on out.’ And people are responding.”

A new marketing campaign from the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board promotes Montgomery County as a family-friendly destination. In this photo, actors film part of the campaign at King of Prussia Mall. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)
A new marketing campaign from the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board promotes Montgomery County as a family-friendly destination. In this photo, actors film part of the campaign at King of Prussia Mall. (Photo Courtesy Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board)

What About the Future?

“I’m very optimistic for Montgomery County — I feel really good,” Bowman said, adding that he expects the hospitality industry will still be a different business.

Bowman expects that in fiscal year 2024, the economic impact of the hospitality will surpass 2019’s $1.7 billion.

“I am excited about the business,” Bowman said.

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Sticking to those New Year’s resolutions with counseling help Mon, 01 Jan 2024 10:00:18 +0000 WEST CHESTER — It’s New Year’s Day. Football is blaring from the TV. You’ve just consumed enough calories to keep going for three days.

And then you remember those New Year’s resolutions you made last night at the party.

Pat Brown can help. He is a licensed clinical social worker at ETHOS Treatment LLC, which assists people with substance abuse, gambling and other addictive behaviors, and behavioral health issues.

“You need to be vulnerable and transparent, open to solutions,” Brown said about changing, “and try new ways to change the same old problems and new ways to find new solutions.”

Brown said that when making changes we need to be curious and seek answers.

“Change takes time, patience and perseverance,” he said. “If I’m going to change my life, it’s going to take time.”

Samantha Osterlos is director of marketing and is a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor at ETHOS.

She said New Year’s is the perfect time to change those sometimes “grandiose” resolutions since it falls at the end of the year and the beginning of the next year.

At this time, when spending more time around our families, we are exposed to those who know us well and can “pick up on the nuances,” she said.

Osterlos said that the first step is to ask for help.

“We complicate the situation, it’s as simple as picking up the phone,” she said.

Osterlos suggested that those seeking change with addictions call ETHOS, a local drug and alcohol facility or a primary care physician.

“Call somebody who knows a bit more than you do,” she said.

Osterlos talked about all those who join a gym at the start of the year to get healthy.

“We should start putting some emphasis on physical health as well as mental health,” she said. “We all should do work every day to be better versions of ourselves and seek therapy.”

Brown said that New Year’s resolutions often don’t work and are inconsistent at best. He is a proponent of group therapy.

“If you’re trying to change something, and trying real hard for days and weeks, you can come to the realization that if you could have done it on your own, you already would have done it,” he said. “Building a new habit takes time.

“To win the game of life you have to ask for help. If I’m going to change a life, it’s going to take time.”

Brown said that we are all individuals.

“What might work for you might not work for someone else,” he said. “Change takes time, patience and perseverance.

“Give ourselves grace, it’s not always smooth and not always linear.”

ETHOS has seven locations in southeastern Pennsylvania. For more information go to

1024497 2024-01-01T05:00:18+00:00 2024-01-01T05:00:52+00:00
Eagles Notebook: Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon claims onside kick part of winning game plan Mon, 01 Jan 2024 00:49:42 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Eagles fans will never forget the Super Bowl LVII loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, one in which their team begged Jerrick McKinnon to cruise into the end zone, only to watch the enemy running back take a knee at the 2-yard line with 1:36 left.

The game was tied, and the Eagles wanted the Chiefs to score to give Jalen Hurts and the offense a shot at winning it. Instead, the Chiefs ran down the clock and kicked the field goal for a 38-35 win. Guess what? The Eagles were victimized by the same strategy in a stunning 35-31 loss to the Cardinals Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

First-year Cardinals head coach and former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who presided over the Philly D in the Super Bowl ordered an onside kick immediately after his squad tied the game at 28 with 5:26 remaining. Heavily criticized by many for being too bold of a move, the strategy turned out to be a stroke of brilliance.

The Eagles recovered but could get only a 43-yard field goal from Jake Elliott to take a 31-28 lead with 2:33 remaining.

Kyler Murray then marched the Cardinals 70 yards for the winning points, James Conner capping a 128-yard rushing effort with a two-yard run with 32 ticks left. The Eagles then couldn’t get past their 49-yard line, the game ending when Joey Blount intercepted Hurts in the end zone.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, a close friend of Gannon’s, echoed to boos. Gannon was left to describe why he rolled with the onside kick.

“It worked,” Gannon said. “That’s what we talked about. That’s what I’m talking about. The reason for that is you don’t want to get bled out. That team is too good. I trust the defense to get a stop right there and make them kick a field goal, which is what they did, but with five minutes left, what they’ve shown is they are not going to give you the ball back. And I wanted to make sure at all costs (that) Kyler had the ball in his hand at the end of the game. So, it’s just funny how it came up, but no, I thought the defense did excellent.”

The defeat damaged the Eagles (11-5), who thus ceded the top seed in the NFC to the San Francisco 49ers, and have their fingers crossed that they beat the Giants next Sunday at the Meadowlands and the Cowboys lose next week in Landover, Md. to the Commanders. That would make the Eagles NFC East champions and guarantee a home game. Otherwise, the Birds start the playoffs on the road.

The Giants, you may recall, pushed the Eagles to the last play of the game before succumbing last week. Something has to change in a hurry for the Eagles to get through the lull in which they finished 1-4 in December, which is supposed to be their money month. Switching the defensive playcalling from coordinator-in-name-only Sean Desai to de facto coordinator Matt Patricia hasn’t seemed to matter.

“We just didn’t play well defensively,” veteran cornerback James Bradberry said. “I feel like we had the game. I think it was 21-6. And we didn’t make stops when we needed to as a defense. I would say it’s frustrating. We knew at the end of the day before they made a (coordinator) change, it was on us as players. We’ve got to go out there and make a difference. And it’s still on us as players. We’ve got to figure this out.”

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Analysis: Eagles’ defense can do nothing to stop a Cardinals comeback Sun, 31 Dec 2023 21:16:08 +0000 PHILADELPHIA — Veteran Julio Jones, who has been around almost as long as red challenge flags, turned back the clock with two touchdowns Sunday.

For much of the game so did the Eagles, who like last season got the lead and made the Arizona Cardinals play catch-up. Then, in the time it takes to say Jets, Seattle and we’re not committed enough, the Eagles came tumbling back to earth in a 35-31 loss to the Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field. The game ended when a Jalen Hurts Hail Mary pass was intercepted in the end zone.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, who wanted to stick it to Jonathan Gannon, the defensive coordinator who ditched him to become head coach of the Cardinals, was left shaking his head as he and his players exited the field to a chorus of boos. The locker room was like a morgue.

“When we’ve got a chance to bury people, we’ve got to bury them,” Eagles veteran Brandon Graham said. “I know it’s going to happen. I know it’s going to start clicking. We’ve got to go finish the season off right. It’s going to be a week to week thing. We’ve got to put everything we’ve got into it.”

With the loss and the San Francisco 49ers’ victory over the Washington Commanders, the Eagles (11-5) are eliminated from a shot at the top seed and the bye in the NFC. Worse, if the Dallas Cowboys (11-5) defeat the Commanders next week they win the NFC East based on a better record against common opponents.

Just like that the Eagles are on the verge of opening the playoffs on the road. Barring major good fortune they could end up playing in Tampa or New Orleans.

“It is what it is,” cornerback James Bradberry said. “We put ourselves in this position. We’ve got to look forward, we can’t look backwards.”

Considering the ineptitude of the Cardinals (4-11), who have difficulty getting out of their own way and are vying for the top pick in the NFL draft, the decision had the odor of a soon-to-be swan song, as oppposed to Swan Lake.

Particularly alarming was the manner in which the Eagles blew several leads, including a 21-6 edge at the intermission, how they were stopped by their old coordinator on a Tush Push and how they had to endure booing for their poor tackling and even for being indecisive and taking a timeout before a third and nine at the 14-yard line of the Cardinals in the fourth quarter. They didn’t convert.

“It’s the NFL. You give them a little inch, and people start running miles,” Graham said. “We should have buried them that first drive coming out. Wedidn’t get it done. They scored again. Those are the moments on defense we’re supposed to live for.”

The Cardinals rushed for 221 yards, outgained the Eagles in total yardage (449-275), in plays (72-47) and first downs (32-17). The momentum turned when running back James Conner, who rushed for 128 yards and a TD, made a one-handed grab of a Kyler Murray throw with 2:01 left in the third quarter. Murray threw a two-point pass to knot the score at 21.

Gannon appeared to be a bit too aggressive as he tried an onside kick that the Eagles recovered with 5:26 left. Then again, the Cardinals hadn’t been able to stop the Eagles and the coach would later say he did it purposely to be sure his smooth operating offense would have time to tie the game, or go ahead.

“You don’t want to get bled out,” Gannon said. “That team’s too good.”

In the first half the Eagles played bend-but-don’t-break defense and finally got a big play, rookie Sydney Jones going 99 yards for a pick-six to produce a 14-3 lead in the second quarter.

What was troubling was the Eagles’ abject failure to get off the field against an inferior offense except in the red zone. The Cardinals receivers generally were open and veteran running back Conner was a load in the first half as he rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries, including an 11-yard run on second-and-11. The Eagles’ tackling was hit or miss.

In the two-minute offense late in the half the Eagles got tricky when Kenneth Gainwell completed a 17-yard pass to DeVonta Smith, and Hurts, scrambling out of the pocket, threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Jones. It was the second TD of the afternoon for the 34-year-old Jones, who maintained focus despite the ball getting tipped.

That gave the Eagles a 21-6 lead at the intermission. At that point the Eagles were dominating on the scoreboard but not any of the offensive categories. It was an ominous sign of a second-half to come.

“Offensively we didn’t play good enough,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said. “Defensively we didn’t play good enough. A really, really frustrating loss. I think that we’ve got a lot of things to clean up.”

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Opt-out players are part of a larger college football problem [opinion] Sun, 31 Dec 2023 21:01:25 +0000 ATLANTA — Dvon Ellies sat alone on the Penn State sideline Saturday with his helmet on and his head bowed seemingly trying to make sense of it all.

Ellies was hurting from the 38-25 loss to Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. He was hurting from playing what probably was his final college game.

Guys like him, Theo Johnson, Hunter Nourzad, Caedan Wallace, Adisa Isaac, Curtis Jacobs and Daequan Hardy all sought to finish what they started with their teammates by playing in the bowl game.

“It wouldn’t sit right for me to just leave a team,” Isaac said a couple weeks ago, “leave my brothers like that.”

So he and the others played, even if it was only for a half or so. They opted to play their final college game and not sit out, which was admirable.

The Nittany Lions played short-handed because All-American Olu Fashanu and All-Big Ten picks Chop Robinson, Kalen King and Johnny Dixon opted out of the Peach Bowl to protect themselves from injury.

Their absences might not have decided the outcome, but they surely didn’t help Penn state against a very strong opponent.

Fashanu is rated the best left tackle available in the draft and a projected top-five pick. Robinson is a premier pass rusher, another valuable position, who’s also expected to be taken in the first round.

Maybe you don’t like their decisions, but you can certainly understand them.

King and Dixon, Penn State’s starting cornerbacks, had an opportunity to improve their draft stock against an outstanding Ole Miss passing attack and chose not to play. Hardy decided to play for that very reason.

Neither King or Dixon is expected to be taken in the first round. With them out, the Rebels scorched youngsters Cam Miller, Zion Tracy and Elliot Robinson.

“Since when (do) non-first rounders sit out bowl games?” former Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton asked Saturday on social media.

Opting out is a relatively new phenomenon in college football. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith injured his knee severely in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, which dropped him from a top-five pick to a second-round choice and sparked the opt-out interest. He’s still playing in the NFL, by the way.

When Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette opted out of bowl games the next year, it spread quickly.

If non-playoff bowl games don’t mean that much to an increasing number of players across the country, then why should fans shell out hundreds of dollars to see them.

Add the transfer portal and NIL money to the equation, and now you have players threatening not to play in bowl games or even leave if they don’t get extra money.

“Players are going to opt out for the (bowl) game or they’re going to transfer if they don’t play so many plays or they don’t get this much money,” Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said the day before the Peach Bowl. “You’ve got a system that is not going to get better until it gets fixed.

“Ask the NFL if they would ever put free agency right before the playoffs? And not just players negotiating for the next season, but negotiating whether they’re going to play in the playoffs.”

December has become hellish for college football coaches, what with completing their recruiting classes, the opening of the transfer portal and preparing for a bowl game. Easy access to NIL money has only complicated matters.

“The commissioners of the conferences are the best people to solve these problems,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “Get them all in a room together. You could have representation from the NCAA as well as the NFL. Start from scratch and make a whole new calendar, a whole new model.

“It needs to happen quickly. Right now there are no parameters and no guard rails.”

Players opting out is a symptom not a cause of the larger problem. Maybe there will be fewer when the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams. Maybe there won’t be.

Far be it from me to tell athletes in their early 20s what to do when it comes to their earnings and their future. And they don’t owe universities anything.

But I’ve wondered how opt-out players are viewed by their teammates. Do the guys playing in a bowl game feel let down? Are they resentful? What do the guys who sit out say to their “brothers” with whom they’ve shared so much blood, sweat and tears?

“Of course it was strange playing without Kalen and Johnny,” safety Jaylen Reed said. “They’ve been my teammates for three years. I’ve known Kalen for a long time. They’re my brothers. When you’re not playing with those guys, especially those caliber of players, it’s kind of hard.”

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