By Evan Brandt, The Mercury
POTTSTOWN >> From among more than 70 applications — including one from Borough Council President Dan Weand — Borough Manager Mark Flanders has picked a new assistant.
Justin Keller, who currently works as the regional recreation coordinator for the Pottstown Metropolitan Area Regional Planning Committee, was introduced to borough council Wednesday night.
He will be paid $78,000 a year.
Flanders highlighted Keller’s success obtaining grants for the six of the eight municipalities that are part of the regional planning group as one of the things that made him stand out as a candidate.
New Hanover and East Coventry townships opted out of using — and helping to pay for — Keller’s services, which were initiated in 2014 thanks to funding from the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Keller will replace Erica Batdorf, who last month left to become manager of West Vincent Township.
In the post, Keller will not only oversee the borough’s involvement with the PART bus system and the Pottstown Municipal Airport, but also securing grants for special projects.
“His demonstrated ability to foster regional cooperation in his current role as Regional Recreational Coordinator and his success in grant acquisitions for our region made Justin the frontrunner in our search to fill the position,” Flanders said in a joint news release with the health and wellness foundation and the regional planning committee.
“Add to that his experience with municipal planning, zoning ordinances, land use development and project management, it’s easy to see why we selected Justin for the position,” Flanders said. “This is definitely a plus for the borough and I’m looking forward to working with Justin.”
“In his two short years in the position, he has secured significant grant funding for recreational purposes across the region,” David Kraybill, executive director of the health and wellness foundation said in the prepared release.
“His commitment to collaboration and parks and recreation has been a driving force within the six municipalities he served,” said Kraybill.
“Meeting the needs of six municipal park systems requires a great deal of diverse knowledge,” said Jay Erb, chairman of the North Coventry Parks and Recreation Commission, said in the press release.
“Justin was able to organize a variety of park projects for multiple municipalities to maximize the efficiency of grant funding as well as provide technical assistance when needed,” he said.
In addition to obtaining numerous grants, Keller has helped to coordinate and improve recreation resources in the six towns.
“More so than anything, I have been impressed by his devotion to his work, willingly volunteering to assist with special events on multiple occasions in addition to performing his regular duties, and by his natural leadership abilities,” said Pottstown Parks and Recreation Director Michael Lenhart.
A search for Keller’s replacement is underway and the position opening can be found on the PMRPC website: https://pottstownmetroregion.com/
“I look forward to supporting continuation of this highly valuable program in my new capacity with the Borough of Pottstown,” said Keller.