With so much going on around town, catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, April 24. Borough financials take another hit, West Chester Area School District finally gets some good news (and some money) and the town pulls together to do some serious fundraising for local food banks. While, coronavirus deaths in the Borough increase five fold, reminding us all we are still very much in this.
Staying the course on the stay-at-home orders. Someone said this is day 38, can that possibly be right? This week the state announced an extension of the stay-at-home order until May 8. The state also introduced a color-coded, three-phase approach to relaxing stay-at-home guidelines.
The phases include:
Red or severe lockdown;
Yellow or a lifting of some restrictions including – stay-at-home orders, although gatherings would be limited to 25 people, retail stores may reopen with curbside pickup, however, restaurants would still be limited to carry out or delivery and gyms and theaters would remain closed, daycares however, could begin to reopen (thank god); and finally,
Green, which is being referred to as the new normal.
Currently the entire state is in red, but some areas could move to yellow as soon as May 8. Unfortunately, we will not be one of them. Thanks a lot, Philly.
“This has been the worst week in the coroner’s office since I have been in office.”
-Dr. Christina VandePol, Chester County Coroner
While Chester County is doing better than its neighbors, the number of cases and deaths attributed to the coronavirus continue to rise. West Chester had a particularly bad week, we are now at 34 cases and five deaths.
Somehow this seems like a natural segue… This week Pennsylvania reopened 176 state stores for curbside pickup including, locally at the Bradford Plaza Shopping Center and on Paoli Pike. Under the new curbside pickup system the stores will take phone orders Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or until they reach the maximum number of orders they can fulfill in a day. Orders are limited to one order per person per day no more than six bottles per order. Early reports are the stores have been slammed, so I would call early, if you are in need of a wine or spirits fix.
You look like you could use a little support. The Patch is reporting, West Chester Area School District is expecting a huge influx of cash, $493,000 to be exact, as part of the federal coronavirus relief legislation. The money is being provided to help school districts cover unexpected costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic including remote learning costs and improving educational opportunities for low income and at-risk students.
Also, set to receive a giant check, West Chester University which picked up nearly 12 million in federal aid and grants under similar relief programs, including six million for student financial aid.
Who turned out the lights? Well, it wasn’t PECO. Our regional electrical provider announced this week it will be extending its pandemic support policies through June 1. During this time PECO will suspend service disconnections, waive new late fees, and reconnect customers who were previously disconnected. “We recognize the impact of COVID-19 on our customers and communities has been greater than anyone could have imagined,” PECO CEO Mike Innocenzo said in a statement.
And the hits just keep on coming. After leasing the building at 313 West Market Street for 11 years, Chester County is now looking to purchase the property outright. While a sound financial move for the County, it is another hit for Borough finances as government property is exempt from taxes. According to the Daily Local, the move will cost the borough $88,000, WCASD $273,000 and the BID $38,000. If things go to plan, the County could take possession of the building as early as March 2021.
In honor of Arbor Day, I am proud to introduce West Chester’s Tree Team. I am not sure if this will surprise anyone but, West Chester Borough now has a Tree Team. This is a group of citizens who, as they walk around, observe our street trees and report any that need attention or areas that could use a good tree or two. The feedback is then shared with Urban Forester Mike Dunn, in an attempt to help preserve West Chester’s beautiful urban tree canopy. The team is looking for new members, so if you like to walk your neighborhood and look at the trees, this might be just the job for you. Contact the West Chester Green Team to get involved.
This Week in Good News
Need a little good news for a change? Check out all these cool ways people are giving back.
The numbers are in for the Bar Avalon fundraiser. I don’t know how people felt about the wait, but wow, West Chester. I think you deserve a round of applause. Not sure what I’m talking about, I’ll John Brand-Lee of Avalon explain.
Know someone that could use a little pick-me up? Maybe they are putting in long hours helping the rest of us stay healthy (cough) nurses, doctors, lab technicians, pharmacists, cleaning professionals, cooks, grocery store workers (cough) or maybe they are just cool people? Levante is handing out Hoppy Vibes. Send their name, email, social handle, shipping address and why they would benefit from some Hoppy Vibes (aka beer) to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Sending Hoppy Vibes nomination. Each week three winners will be selected to receive a Levante care package. Nominees must live in PA.
The Classic Diner continues to quietly surprise local heros with free meals. This week they stopped by the Chester County Hospital with a delivery of boxed lunches for the staff. Also, helping to keep hospital workers fed, Philly Pretzel Factory of West Chester delivered 300 individually soft-pretzels to hospital workers this week.
A local resident has sought to begin a nightly round of applause for front line workers. They are asking that every night at 7 p.m. residents step onto their porches or into their yards, open a window or a door, and clap, cheer, or otherwise hoot and holler in support of all the dedicated men and women who head to work everyday to make sure we are safe, healthy and fed. Please share with your neighbors and listen for the clapping.
West Chester Area School District art teacher, Geena Teodecki, joined the fight to keep each other safe, sewing up a slew of stylish masks for West Chester first responders.
And lest we forget our local businesses, which of course we never would, the Greater West Chester Area Chamber of Commerce has launched “Closed but still Awesome!” Take note of the bright yellow signs amidst all the hearts next time you are downtown. If you are a local business owner and would like to participate, the signs are free and available for pickup from Market Street Print, Shoprite or the Chamber office.
Finally in honor of Earth Day, Monkey Fish Toys announced it will donate 10 cents to the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation for every bag you don’t use, once they reopen.
“It’s just a number. I’m very healthy. I’m very fortunate.”
Accolades. First a shout out to Mary Atkins who celebrated 100 years this week with a special police salute. Happy birthday, Mary. I keep telling myself that every day.
Some more good news for the West Chester Area School District this week. The District was once again recognized for its commitment to music education receiving a 2020 Best Communities for Music Education Award from The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. This marks the fourth consecutive year the District has received the award.
Also out this week, the U.S. News and World Report rankings of top U.S. high schools. All West Chester high schools did well with two of three ranked among the top 50 schools in the state. Rustin did particularly well placing in the top 25 at 24. Henderson snuck in the top 50 at number 50 and East just out at 54.
Last year the schools ranked West Chester East (36), Bayard Rustin (41), and B. Reed Henderson (46). So I guess the news is better for some than others, but still applause all around.
Hello. To some COVID-19 essentials with your Friday pizza order. Pick-up a pie and some TP or a 100 count box of vinyl gloves for a limited time at Brother’s Pizza.
And, hello again to Gryphon Cafe. After being forced to close after curbside pick up was mandated, the Gay Street cafe is open again, much to the relief of many of the Borough’s stretched thin masses.
“Sometimes it doesn’t matter what level you are playing at, if you are good, you’re good.”
-Damien Blair, West Chester University basketball coach
Goodbye. To Robbie Heath. The West Chester University shooting guard averaged a record setting 24.6 points per game for the Golden Rams. Robbie will not be returning next year. Instead he is headed to Pepperdine, and D1 play, for his senior season.
The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? Assuming the weather holds up, we are going to start our garden. I have expansion plans in mind. I want to seperate my pesky vine vegetables (squash, cucumbers, pumpkins,) from my pretty rows. I also found this webinar shared by the West Chester Green team that will hopefully give me some tips.
Oh, and this delicious looking chicken seems perfect for Sunday dinner.
Hope you have a safe and distanced weekend. Let’s all stay strong, as I really need this to be over soon.
Here’s last week’s Round Up, if you missed it, and if you’ve been using this alone time to get back into your running game, one of West Chester’s favorite races is going virtual this year. See you next week!*
*If you are new here, follow along. We’d love to have you join us.