West Chester Weekly News Roundup

N. Matlack st
Not everything came to a stop this week. Spring, for one, kept right on keeping on.

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

Note: the Roundup was updated at 9 p.m. Monday to reflect the latest COVID-19 (coronavirus) information. Play it safe out there.  

It’s Friday, March 13. COVID-19 hits home – West Chester University is closed. By Monday, so too likely will be the entire West Chester Area School District, and the Borough plans to issue a state of emergency. On a lighter note, the Public Arts Commission is planning to stencil chalk mouths around all the gum on the sidewalks. It’s about balance, people. Grab your favorite hand sanitizer and let’s get started.  

“I am therefore preparing to issue a state of emergency.”

-Dianne Herrin, Mayor, Borough of West Chester

Give me some space. This is your COVID-19 news update. 

The Borough: Update: on Saturday Governor Wolf ordered all non-essential businesses closed. See below for details. The Borough Building has been closed for two weeks and Tuesday’s Borough Council’s Working Session, and both public hearings scheduled for this week have been cancelled. As of today, Wednesday’s Borough Council meeting is still happening. No word on yet, on what restrictions will be in place for this meeting outside the “social distancing” seating arrangement seen above. On Friday, Mayor Herrin declared a state of emergency. Social distancing and occupancy limits have been issued for all bars, restaurants and dance floors. I’m looking at you, Kildare’s. On Thursday morning Mayor Dianne Herrin announced she was preparing to declare a state of emergency to allow Borough Council to pass temporary community-wide social distancing regulations in an effort to reduce viral spread of the virus.

Wednesday night Borough Council followed its own advice and announced it would be instituting social distancing, aka moving the chairs six-feet apart, in council chambers. Keep this in mind if you are planning to attend next week’s Borough Council meeting, assuming it’s still held. They are also closing meeting rooms to all outside groups and not accepting visits from outside vendors at this time.

If you have questions about the Borough’s response to the virus you can reach out to Mayor Herrin directly.

West Chester Business District: Update: Chester County is holding a telephone town hall, Tuesday 10 a.m. for all business owners and managers. Saturday night Governor Wolf ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses in Chester County this includes community centers, gyms, salons, theaters, bars, and non-essentials retail facilities. Borough business owners were informed by letter sent to all on Saturday night.

Still open: grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and drive-through banks. Also, open restaurants but for carry-out or delivery only. 

Don’t panic, but state stores are also ordered closed. However, deep breath, beer and wine sales will still be available through grocery stores.

Reader tip: Toilet paper and other paper products are still available through Office Depot/Office Max – and they will deliver next day!

The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce has closed its offices until March 30. Staff however, is still working and is available by email. You can reach them at info@gwcc.org or mjohnstone@wcbid.com.

West Chester Area School District (WCASC): Update: Parents and/or students experiencing technical difficulties accessing any school accounts or assignments during this closure – can call 484-266-1050 for assistance. All PA schools have been closed for a two-week period as the state works to manage the COVID-19 outbreak.  SAT testing tomorrow at East High School has also been canceled. WCASD has told teachers to plan for a lengthy closure. The Superintendent participated in a call this morning with the PA Secretary of Education after which he is expecting to have more direction and details to share with parents on how the school is moving forward. 

Note – the District is being inundated with calls and emails about the evolving situation. Please refer to their website for the latest information.

Earlier this week, Henderson High School was closed for deep cleaning after it was learned that a student had been to a healthcare office in King of Prussia where a coronavirus patient had been seen. The student remains under a 14-day quarantine. The district has also released a list of Frequently Asked Questions including updates to policies around absences (they will allow 15 days for absences with just a parent’s note to return); their plan for closing, online learning and the policy for making up days should the school need to close. 

Also, note next week’s scheduled safety media presentation is no longer being held in person instead it will, appropriately, be given via Zoom webinar. 

West Chester University: This week West Chester University announced it was cancelling all in person classes for the remainder of the semester. According to a letter from President Fiorentino, all online courses will continue on their regular schedule, internships, teaching assignments, etc. will continue as long as the institution is open, and all other courses will resume by remote means by March 30.  

Surprisingly, as far as I can tell, athletic events, concerts, and other extracurricular events have not been cancelled. 

Chester County Hospital: On Friday, Chester County Hospital announced an update to its visitor policy. Patients of the hospital will not be permitted guests except in a few special circumstances such as the end of a life or a parent with a child. Visitors for out-patient procedures are also being curtailed. See complete details here. Also, note to free up staff time and protect patients and staff, Penn Medicine will begin looking to reschedule standing appointments. Chester County Hospital announced this week they will be cancelling all community health and wellness events through April. However, all Penn Medicine facilities are reminding patients they are operating as usual and recommending patients keep standing appointments and scheduled checkups. However, if you have respiratory or flu symptoms call your doctor before heading to the office.    

West Chester Police Department: Update: Please do not call 911 for information regarding COVID-19 closures. This ties up the line for a true emergency. Post them to social or email Mayor Herrin directly. The police department has announced it is implementing new measures to protect officers from viral contamination and keep the force at full capacity. They are however, postponing a scheduled test of applicants for the open officer position. 

QVC: One of the area’s larger employers, announced today they were sending all non-essential employees home to work for the next two weeks.

library2
Update: the West Chester Public Library will be closed beginning Saturday.

West Chester Public Library: Update: the West Chester Public Library will be closed beginning tomorrow! That means you need to stock up on your reading materials today. Note: Fines will be waived during this time.

West Chester YMCA – ACAC – Mitch’s Gym: Update: YMCA has been ordered closed, as have all other gyms, yoga studios, spin-classes, and dojos in the area. This week the YMCA cancelled the remaining games in its winter sport leagues – youth and adult. On March 11 an letter was distributed indicating events would continue but with a limited number of spectators, but by Thursday notification was sent out that leagues were cancelled. 

Chester County: Chester County cancelled its meeting to address residents concerns about COVID-19. I guess, like everyone else, they will be taking these questions remotely

Update: Chester County has its fourth confirmed case of the virus. One in North Coventry, one in West Pikeland and two from East Goshen. All you number people, check out this cool dashboard from the County for all the latest information on the outbreak. 

wcu4
A new zoning designation, Planned University Campus, aims to give greater definition to university expansion.

There’s a new zone in town. This week the Smart Growth committee reviewed the proposal to introduce a new designation into the Borough zoning code: Planned University Campus (PUC). The idea is to “recognize the unique character and interrelated complexities of appropriately regulating the campus,” and encourage long range planning by the University (cough) make Borough aware of your plans (cough), introduce uniform standards for campus buildings, and set defined University boundaries. If passed by Borough Council, this new designation would apply to the area of the University campus bounded by S. High Street, University Avenue, Reynolds Alley, Sharpless Street, S. New Street. and W. Rosedale Avenue. 

cashisking2
Public art installation by semi-anonymous street artist Cassius King.

As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows… West Chester’s Public Art Committee in partnership with the Mayor’s Clean and Green initiative announced a new pilot program this week. To help raise awareness around the amount of gum on the Borough’s sidewalks the group will be out stenciling mouths over the discarded gum with a sidewalk-safe chalk paint. This temporary public art display is planned for April 25 as part of the town’s now annual downtown cleanup. The painted mouths will be visible for a few days before they are washed away. The project is being modeled after a similar initiative undertaken on the streets of London.  

7 n church street
See those cones? Envision a nice outdoor patio right there.

Parking or al fresco dining? As part of their renovation of 7-9 N. Church Street and in preparation for summer dining, the designers behind Greystone Oyster Bar have submitted to have a sidewalk extension built in front of the new restaurant. The plan will offer dining for 20 or so patrons but will cost the Borough another two seasonal parking spots. The plan was reviewed by the Smart Growth Committee this week. If approved, it will go before Borough Council next week.     

 

The warnings. Don’t let your belongings out of your sight. Apparently we’ve gone a little klepto as a community. West Chester Police are seeking your help in identifying yet another porch bandit (see above) and there were also reports of more car break ins this week, including smashed windows in the fairly busy parking lot of the YMCA on Airport Road. 

Keep your hands and feet and faces where I can see them. Pierce Middle School was put briefly on lockdown last Friday as police settled a domestic issue in the neighborhood. After a little persuasion, the suspect surrendered to the police without incident and the school reopened. 

Also, watch your speed… because Rockwell was right – somebody is watching you

The accolades. Congratulations to West Chester Henderson defensive end Jordan Laudato, whose hard work has caught the attention of lead scouts and local press, including those as Penn State, Florida and the Harrisburg-Patriot News. We wish you luck, Brian!

Also, high fives to West Chester University Senior Georgia Wright who opened the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship by breaking her own record on Wednesday. Way to go, Georgia!  

daffodils
Daffodils ready to pop at Everhart Park.

Pay it forward. Grab your waders and prepare to get dirty. The CRC Watershed Association is looking for volunteers to help cleanup Goose Creek. The annual event takes place April 4 as part of the larger CRC (Chester-Ridely-Crum) Stream Cleanup. If you are interested in joining, please register online as soon as possible. Kids four and up welcome. (Select Site 112 for West Chester Borough). The cleanup crew will meet at the Public Works Department at 9:00 for coffee and a safety review. P.S. Don’t forget your gloves! 

Support local businesses where you can – it was raised this week that several local businesses especially restaurants and those in the food service are beginning to feel the effects of coronavirus as more people opt to avoid crowded spaces. Just remember many offer carryout service next time you are staring at an empty fridge. 

Update: Meatball U and Limoncello are offering new delivery and take out options. 

Note: The Chef’s Best Competition mentioned in last week’s Roundup has been postponed. No makeup date is scheduled at this time. 

Hello. To Color Theory Cosmetic Tattoo who has recently joined our little community. Stop by 123 E. Market Street and say “hi” to owner and artist Colleen Rogenmuser.

To face masks and cleaning products. Visit Ace if you are in need. 

Goodbye. To toilet paper… Why, people? 

Also, Thrifty Vintage. The eclectic haven for all things vintage is closing its doors at the end of the month. In the meantime, stop in, wish them well, and grab a year’s worth of hostess gifts at a discount.  

And Catherine Friedman, who is stepping down as Executive Director of Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center. Catherine has served the theater company as Executive Director since 2018. If you know anyone in the theater management business, tell them to get that resume ready. Uptown is now actively hiring for a replacement. 

gryphon_cafe_art
I love these paintings by local artist Kendra Beitzel. Stop by Gryphon Cafe and check them out for yourself.

The freakin’ weekend. So, our weekend suddenly freed up. Instead it looks like we’ll be preparing for some extended together time, and I’ll be making a trip to Giant. Wish me luck. What are you up to?  

Because everything in the near future seems to be cancelled here are some fun things to look forward to –

  • Highland Orchards is bringing its weekly beer garden back starting May 1
  • A new three day craft brew weekend is coming to West Chester April 24-26
  • Highland Orchards is welcoming Rufus Wainwright Aug. 18
  • West Chester Brewfest is on the calendar for June 27 at the Melton Center.

Mark your calendars (but double-check all events before leaving the house): 

  • Cancelled: Literacy Links Family Fun Round, West Chester Public Library, Mar. 14
  • The Royal Family – a conversation with Jeff Groff, Chester County Historical Society, Mar. 15
  • Move to online forum: Social Media Safety Night, Zoom webinar, Mar. 16
  • Jazz Fest, Wells School of Music, Mar. 18-21
  • Cancelled: Kennett Symphony “Compose Yourself” children’s concert, Rustin High School, Mar. 22
  • Levante Beer Dinner, Side Bar, Mar. 23

That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a safe week. Here is last week’s Roundup, if you need it. As updates are coming from everywhere, I will continue to update the COVID-19 section at the beginning of the Roundup, so feel free to check back in to see if you missed anything – and if I missed anything, let me know.

Until next week – keep washing those hands and practicing social distancing but please, don’t hoard the toilet paper.

If you’re new here, follow the blog for the latest news and temporarily halted events from West Chester.    

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