holiday home crop
The countdown has begun,, less than 20 shopping days to Christmas.

With so much going on around town. Catch up on what you may have missed. 

It’s Friday, December 6.  New, frankly startling, details on the financial implications to changing school start times, mouse droppings found in a school cafeteria, and is West Chester finally ready to do something about climate change? Plus, updates on 44 West, the Christmas parade reaches a milestone and who will win the holiday window decorating contest? It’s December. Grab some eggnog and let’s get started.    

“We do take all safety concerns very seriously.”

-Sara Missett, Director of Elementary and Gifted Education 

Hillsdale Elementary: Concerns were raised after a student brought a BB gun on the bus.

You’re going to get suspended, kid. Just before the Thanksgiving break a student at Hillsdale elementary was found to have a pellet gun in his or her backpack on the bus. The gun was not loaded and the student willingly turned it over to the bus driver when requested, but the presence of any type of weapon can understandably be quite alarming especially in a school environment. Parents were contacted, as were the police, and hopefully, the student will not make that choice again. 

It’s complicated. The School Start Time Task Force held another community meeting this week. Proposed class schedule options were presented and are similar to what we’ve seen before, all of which move start times for high school students by 30 minutes to an hour. However, we now have our first look at the cost to make these changes – which is frankly startling. Scheduling (and financing) alternate bus accommodations to meet the new schedules will range from a high of $6,867,000 to a low of (still high) $3,277,554 – and could cost taxpayers a one-time tax payment of between $78 and $163.    

The sheer cost of the project has left even those in the know surprised. This latest report also includes a section titled Puzzling Questions – first among which is – “Why have other districts been able to change school starting times without significant transportation costs?” The next meeting of the task force is scheduled for January 8.

Can you scoot over please? Speaking of things giving the school district headaches, last month the board approved a revised capital plan to address overcrowding in the southern part of the district. The plan eliminates the two-classroom addition at Penn Wood Elementary School, and increases the classroom addition at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School from two to six classrooms. 

“Mouse droppings observed on the floor under the shelving and in the corners.”

-Chester County Health Inspector

Check, please. Chester County Health reports are out for November. It was another rough month for Mercato which was once again out of compliance; poor Wasabi was hit with a hefty 9 violations, among which was handling sushi station food without gloves; and students of St. Maximilian Kolbe School may want to bring their lunch for the next couple weeks as mouse droppings were found in the kitchen area.  

West Chester newcomer Meatball U.

However, there were also quite a few winners among them several local casual dining establishments. Miss Winnies sailed through without a single violation as did China King on High Street. Timothy’s and Ram’s Diner incurred only one infraction each and newcomer Meatball U passed its opening health department exam with only two minor infractions. 

It’s a team effort. In 2018, West Chester signed a pledge to source clean energy for community-wide electricity by 2035 and heat and transportation by 2050. There were some high-fives for the environment but very little idea of how to actually make it happen. What quickly became clear was that it would be a lot easier as a team effort. So West Chester, East Bradford, East Goshen, West Goshen, West Whiteland and Westtown Townships, all members of the West Chester Area Council of Governments, pooled resources to hire Massachusetts-based consultant Cadmus. The consultants have since been tasked with coming up with a transition plan. According to a recent report in the Daily Local the plan will be presented at a community meeting in January. Stay tuned for details.

The best early view of Santa occurs on West Market Street.”

-Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce

market street christmas
Views from Market Street

Time to break out the “Look Who’s 40” banner. The QVC West Chester Christmas Parade is celebrating 40 years delighting kids and keeping parents anxiously hoping Santa will come before bedtime. The parade is tonight at 7:15 p.m., with a Jingle Elf Run and Santa’s Village both happening before.

New this year: more ride options! Avoid downtown parking by scoring a ride with Free Ride West Chester (inside the borough only) or take the train.

“Take the train?” you ask. Yes. The West Chester Train station is running a special parade-day train from Cheyney Station to its Market Street location. Tickets are $5/person and must be purchased from the Township Building.   

malenas_holiday window2019
Will Malena’s repeat as the holiday window winner?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I like this one. Downtown West Chester has brought back it’s holiday storefront decorating contest for a second year. Last year they had more than 75 businesses participate. Will Malena’s Vintage Boutique hang onto the crown for a second year? We’ll have to wait and see. Winners will be announced next week. 

Staying downtown for a minute, we also have an update this week on the new 44 West building at the corner of Church and Gay Streets. If you’ve been downtown recently you may have noticed that much of the new brick exterior is now in place. According to a recent report in the Daily Local, construction plans are still on schedule for a spring 2020 occupancy. Up next, windows. 

Brick is being installed as you read this. Windows are up next.

No more free rides. Apparently not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit, West Chester has announced, effective immediately, all Borough-owned EV charging stations will cost $.50 per hour plus any relevant parking fees. The “revenue-neutral” fee is being implemented to cover the growing costs of the Borough’s EV charging infrastructure, including a new dual-port charger that is being installed at Bicentennial Garage. 

When vacation requests are due in by the end of the year. The final draft of the 2020-21 school calendar has been approved by the School Board. The first day of school next year will be Monday August 24, 2020; the last day will be Wednesday June 16, 2021. The calendar includes four built in snow days. If no snow days are used, the last day of school for students will be June 10. 

Speaking of the 2020 school year, the School Board also approved seven new course options for the 20/21 year. Including: 

  • Two new standard enrollment courses: Family Consumer Science – Child Development and Social Media Marketing
  • Two dual enrollment courses eligible for both high school and college credit: The Cold War – Field Studies and Studio Production and Scoring for Film and Television
  • And three electives -Innovative Coding, Junior Entrepreneur, and Guitar 
That pole came out of nowhere…West Chester police, fire and ambulance responded to an accident and subsequent gas leak in the 50 block of Wayne on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving. Photo: FP Officer Dever

The warnings. Always check at least three references. A West Chester man and owner of Paoli-based Element Kitchen and Bath design is heading to prison after defrauding area homeowners of more than $400,000 in uncompleted or poorly executed renovation work.  

Santa’s sleigh need a lot of room to move. Here is the list of street closings for tonight:

  • High Street between Gay and Market Streets will close at 10:00 a.m.
  • W. Market Street between New Street and Bradford Ave. will be closed 3:00-10:00 p.m.

The following streets will be closed 5:00-9:30 p.m.:

  • Gay Street between Matlack & New Streets
  • Market Street between Matlack & Bradford Ave.
  • Walnut Street to New Street between Chestnut & Miner

The accolades. Congratulations to the national champion West Chester University Field Hockey team! They beat Saint Anselm 2-1 to capture the Division II National title. If you are keeping track, that makes two national championships for WCU sports teams so far this year (Rugby, Field Hockey).

Also, cheers and applause to Eli Armbruster, a fifth-grader at Starkweather Elementary School, for helping improve the well-being of a fellow student and making everyone’s day a little brighter.

christmas parade
Workers build the stage in preparation for tonight Christmas Parade.

Give back. The West Chester Christmas parade is looking for volunteers. Sure, the parade is tonight but its not too late to secure the best seat in the house! 

Hello. To medical marijuana. Beyond / Hello, a national dispensary chain, will officially open its West Chester Pike location on December 18. Curious?  Non-medical marijuana card holders are invited to a special open house tonight where you will be able to tour the facility.  

To junior lacrosse. 1st Start Sports has announced it is adding a West Chester location for its early-start lacrosse program. The league is open to boys and girls ages 3 to 7. Games will be played at the Westtown School. Winter session begins January 12. Register here.

Also, welcome to Meatball U. Now open at 30 S. High Street. Need a hearty midday pick-me-up? Stop in and try one of their 4 signature meatballs (beef, chicken, sausage and veggie). 

Goodbye. To several long-serving members of the West Chester school community including: Lori Monaghan – 3rd Grade teacher at Westtown-Thornbury, 28 years of service; David Moore, Custodian at Hillsdale, 23 years of service; and Eugene Holland, Custodian at East Bradford, 18 years of service. Thank you all for your dedication to the kids!

secret santa
The Friends of Denney Reyburn Senior Apartments (W. Bernard Street) is holding their 10th annual Secret Santa event. Thanks to generous donations the 63 residents wake up to beautifully wrapped packages of essentials at their doors. Drop off is Saturday 10 a.m to 2 p.m. if you are interested in participating. Think socks and candies.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We will be heading downtown tonight for the Christmas parade and are seriously considering grabbing dinner (and a drink) beforehand. We also have a birthday party and basketball is in full swing, but as the available weekends before Christmas are getting slim, we’ll also likely try to squeeze in one of the below.

Speaking of, have you ever been on the Holiday Home tour? I’ve been curious about that one for a while.

Mark your calendars: 

  • The Bullies Christmas Carol & Holiday Cheer Concert, Uptown, Dec. 5-6
  • QVC West Chester Christmas Parade, Downtown, Dec. 6
  • Toddler Gingerbread Contest, Treehouse World, Dec. 6
  • 9th Annual Holiday Home Tour, Ticket through West Chester Library, Saturday, Dec. 7
  • Free event! Kennett Symphony Children’s Chorus, Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, Dec. 7
  • Free event! Polar Express Winter Literacy event, Sykes Student Union, Dec. 7
  • Breakfast with Santa, Park & Rec Department, Dec. 7 (Registration required.)
  • Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Clause, Brandywine Ace Pet & Farm, Dec.7
  • West Chester Green Team fundraiser dinner, Unitarian Congregation, Dec. 7
  • WCU winter break begins, Dec. 9
  • NYC on Your Own, West Chester Park & Rec trip, Dec. 11
  • 2019 WSFS Bank Christmas Toy Drive BREAKFAST, St. Agnes, Dec. 11 (Bring an unwrapped toy!)
  • Pictures with Santa and a Fire Engine, First West Chester Fire Co., Dec. 14
  • The Nutcracker, Brandywine Ballet, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, Dec. 14

That’s it we are done here! Thanks for reading. I took last week off but here is the meaty pre-Thanksgiving issue if you need it – and have you got your tree yet? If you go real, here are some of the best local options. Finally, if you are not following yet, you should be. Sign up on the blog or email me here. See you next week!

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