West Chester Weekly News Roundup

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

A gorgeous day in the Borough.

It’s Friday, September 4. And we are starting to lose it, people. What’s going on in the Borough? Let’s just call this the law and order issue. Plus, updates on a shaky start to the school year – including some pretty disturbing Zoom calls; a closer look at the Borough (over) budget and we say goodbye to a regular presence downtown. On the bright side, the year’s almost half over. Grab some sustenance and let’s get going.

“Patience and Positivity.”

-The West Chester Area School District staff theme for the year.
A Child’s Place learning center at Fern Hill.

Who’s ready for a long weekend? The West Chester Area School District launched remote learning 2.0 this week and it was pretty much everything everyone thought it would be. Teachers and schools tried to radiate positivity while, parents reported anxious kids and connectivity issues. Schoology schedules couldn’t be loaded until first thing Monday morning leaving parents and students scrambling to familiarize themselves with the new year. 

Students were repeatedly kicked off Zoom calls, iPad keyboards for 3rd graders were backordered,

While technology problems seemed to subside as the week went on, A Child’s Place’s learning center program, the District promised pod learning solution, was bashed by participating parents claiming the promised benefits were not being seen. Instead of individual “pods” of kids, students of similar ages were grouped in one large area while ACP staff reportedly offered little help and struggled to get students to Zoom calls on time and off of their devices. 

One parent who’s child is participating in the program reported being shaken after receiving a call at work Monday from the her son’s school reporting that he never showed up to class after he failed to log into his Zoom call.

“It is a complete disappointment to say the least, and just added stress to a situation that is already stressful.” said another parent whose child is participating in the program on Facebook. 

Dr. Sara Missett the director of elementary education stated in an email she and Dr. Scanlon had both visited the program, which is being held in several elementary schools across the district, on Monday “checking in” on students and staff. She further stated she would be meeting with ACP to review parents concerns “and see if changes can be made to the program.” 

It should be noted experiences seem to vary between locations.

Is that all? Sadly, no. There has also been several reports of students sharing Zoom access codes with unauthorized attendees. In one incident that reportedly occurred during a Rustin American History class, an individual joined the class under another students name and began shouting the “N” word and calling for lynchings before the teacher was able to shut the call down. Similar incidents were reported during another Rustin class and at Henderson.  

The Facebook group WCASD Families for Brick & Mortar has capitalized on the chaos more than doubling its membership in the last week to 462 members. 

Even with classes online, social distancing has been a problem for returning students.

Remind me why we’re here again? On team COVID-19 is still a threat, 11 West Chester University students tested positive for the coronavirus during the first week of school (despite being almost completely virtual). It should be noted all those testing positive live off-campus. There are currently around 600 students living on campus at the University and many, many more living off. 

If you are interested in following how COVID-19 cases are tracking at PA schools that are open for full time instruction, the NEA has created this handy spreadsheet. It’s not easy to do a quick analysis, there are no totals for example, but the data is there and sourced. 

Show me your work.  Last month the Borough Department heads met to make their initial 2021 budget presentations to the Borough’s Finance and Revenue committee and the general takeaway is, if nothing changes, the Borough is facing a near $1.7 million dollar deficit to its general fund next year. Last week we looked at what the tax hike would like for residents if nothing changes. This week we dig into the projects on the wish list.

I am assuming we will get more details on these as someone is forced to defend their place on the list but until then, here is a high level overview of what has been requested. 

2021 Capital/Equipment Projects as requested by Borough Department 

The West Chester police department is requesting $189,000 in capital projects including for two new police vehicles.

Information Technology Services – total request $20K

  • AC Unit for Server Room (IT) 20,000 

Fire Department – total request $1.925 million

  • 3 Squad Vehicles – 375,000
  • 2020 Carryover- 2 Fire Trucks – 1,550,000 

Police Department – total request $189K

  • AED Replacement – 10,000
  • Firearms – 24,000
  • 2 Police Vehicles 120,000
  • BID Cameras – 35,000

Parks & Recreation – total request $200K

  • Marshall Square Park Playground Upgrade – 45,000
  • Hoopes Park Improvements – 25,000
  • Everhart Park Upgrades – 130,000 

Waste Water – total request $1.145M

  • 2020 Carry OverTaylor Run Filter Project – 550,000
  • 2020 Carryover Goose Creek Electrical Substation Upgrade – 100,000
  • 2020 Carryover Taylor Run Gas Recirculation – 110,000
  • Sewer Relining Project – 385,000 

Parking Services – total request $1.42M

  • Bicentennial Garage Roof Repair – 300,000
  • 70 Kiosks – 600,000
  • Structural Analysis for 2 Garages – 120,000
  • Painting in the Garages – 50,000
  • Chestnut Garage Repairs – 350,000

Public Works – total request $148K

  • Public Works Garage AC Ventilation 18,000
  • Street Lights Node Installation (PW) 130,000

But we want you to stay. West Chester is a great little town but it’s getting harder and harder to get your butt in a house – or keep it there. Plans to improve or preserve low-income housing have appeared with greater urgency. The Melton Center continues to raise funds for their … while earlier this month we learned, the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Lancaster, a  public authority working to promote affordable housing, is looking to purchase and rehabilitate the Denney Reyburn Apartments on West Bernard Street. Now we have word that the Hannum Gardens, a 31-unit apartment community serving families in West Chester, on Downingtown Pike are being preserved by non-profit builders HDC MidAtlantic. Using a grant from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency HDC MidAtlantic plans to purchase the complex from the Housing Authority of Chester County. This transaction will allow residents to stay in their homes at rents below market rate according to an article in Patch.  

The warnings. Don’t jump. This week the West Chester Police Department arrived at the Bicentennial Garage (that’s the one on S. High Street) to find a man standing on the ledge of the top floor threatening to jump. Some officers quickly established a perimeter to protect those on the ground, while two others made contact with the subject in an attempt to de-escalate the situation. The officers were able to make contact and a negotiator was requested, along with a rescue company with a large airbag. 

Fortunately neither was needed, after a half-hour of conversation the officers were able to talk the man back onto the roof where he was taken into custody and turned him over to emergency medical services for mental health counseling. 

Coincidently, September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Remember this time has been especially difficult for many. Don’t forget to take a minute to ask friends, family and colleagues how they are doing.    

Don’t show yourself, please. WCPD is asking for assistance identifying a male reported of indecent exposure (see video above.) The incident took place on August 24, 2020 at approximately 12:30 in the morning on the 100 block of Lacy Street. The male has been described as approximately 5’8 and in his late 20s to early 30s. 

And keep your hands to yourself. Last Saturday night West Chester Police were called to Mechanics Alley to break up a fight. When they got there they found two female victims, one unconscious. Police were pointed to a residence on E. Nields Street where all residents were identified however, the investigation remains open. 

I don’t know you. On August 14, West Chester Police were called to Metropolitan Apartments on E. Marshall Street where a female suspect was reported threatening violence and trying to force her way into an apartment in the North building using an unknown object. Unfortunately, not many details are known about the suspect and the Metropolitan security cameras were not working at the time of the attack. The victim does not know the suspect and worries she may return or terrorize others.

If you have anything you’d like to add about this or any of the above open investigations beyond what is wrong with people, contact the police at 610-696-2700. 

“Business has been booming.”

-Brett Sholder, owner Sky Motor Cars

Accolades. High-fives to former West Chester East basketball coach Eric Anderson on his new coaching position. In a reversal of roles, he will be joining the coaching team at West Chester University under his former assistant and now WCU head coach Damien Blair. Eric coached 21 seasons at East before leaving in 2016 to coach at the collegiate level. TBD if fans of Coach Anderson will get to see him in action this year. Also, fist-bumps to Ashley Ainsworth who was named Rustin’s new head girl’s soccer coach. 

Cheers to Sky Motor Cars in West Chester which is reporting record sales since reopening in May. Good to see COVID has been good for someone’s business. 

Finally, congratulations to West Chester resident David Donohue who logged the top qualifying time in Colorado’s “Race to the Clouds” before a blown tire kept him from finishing the actual race. David was driving a 2019 Porsche GT2 RS Clubsport as he attempted to be the first of the day to the Pikes Peak summit in one of racings more dangerous races. 

Hello. To a new virtual West Chester public library. According to an announcement from the library, the library as recently introduced a new logo and website redesign. The design refresh has been in the works since last fall and serves to focus on the all of it. While the new website (same URL) continues to put books first it makes it easier to find and do all the other things the Library offers including easily located tabs for services, events and programs for kids.   

To a new digital publication from the Borough. “What’s Happening in West Chester” is a chronicle of Borough events from the Borough of West Chester. The inaugural postings include Councilman Flynn’s tractor donation, the Gay Street public art initiative and a reminder to complete the census. Sign up with Notify me, Borough civic listserv service, if you would like to be the first in the know.   

To a more outdoor seating at Slow Hand. Just another reason to get out and relax this weekend.

“Be assured, we will always remain true to our mission of connecting small businesses with the people who want to support them.”

-Fig
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For nine years, our team at Fig has watched West Chester grow and thrive. We’ve told stories of impactful people and inspiring entrepreneurs. We’ve celebrated milestones and helped overcome challenges. We are a small business who, like most others, have gotten creative and have found new and different ways to continue to fulfill our mission and serve our community. We want to share those changes with you now: The summer edition of Fig West Chester will be our last edition of the quarterly magazine. Moving forward, we will stay true to our mission of lifting up locally-owned businesses in West Chester with a new product. We will continue to share engaging love-local messaging and encouraging the community to support local with our new Fig Love Local kits and updated Fig Welcome Home kits—sent directly to homeowners to educate and encourage them to embrace our beloved West Chester community. Be assured, we will always remain true to our mission of connecting small businesses with the people who want to support them and we are happy to have found a way to continue to do so in a more targeted and sustainable way in West Chester. Thank you for reading, following, and supporting Fig. Please continue to support small businesses in West Chester and continue to follow our social channels as you live your local life. Stay tuned to our social channels over the next month for more information on our Fig Welcome and Love Local kits. Love, Fig 💕

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Goodbye. To Fig West Chester. After nine years serving the Borough, Fig has announced its summer 2020 issue will be its last. The company is not going away for good and in a message to readers says it will, “stay true to its mission of lifting up locally-owned businesses in West Chester.”

To the hearts. In fitting closure, this week Charlie & Co. barbershop took down the hearts that started a movement downtown.

Finally, farewell to Officer Dave Stuart who retired from the West Chester Police Department today after 25 years of service.

Pay it forward. West Chester Grower’s Market is collecting food donations for the last time this Saturday for local residents in need. This Saturday they will again be collecting for the Salvation Army of West Chester’s Manna from Heaven Food Pantry. Pantry staples as well as garden excess are welcome. As are cash donations. Clear out the pantry, gather the last of the cukes, tomatoes and squash and swing by the market to drop off your extras. 

Who caught the double rainbow this week? This picture doesn’t do it justice.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? After a summer filled with highs, lows and lots of stress, we are taking it easy this weekend. Maybe a final trip to the pool? Maybe a return to Longwood? Definitely one of these, with some of these.

Also, this weekend, Church Street Gallery is debuting a solo show with Elise Phillips destress with some gorgeous landscapes. Masks and social distancing required.

If you prefer to escape while curled on the couch – the Chester County Day Virtual House Tour which was to celebrate its 80th tour this year is getting creative – with its execution and its counting. They have decided to postpone the 80th tour until 2021, and will instead hold a 79th (and a half) Virtual Tour in its place, highlighting homes and historical landmarks of tours past. The virtual tour which include highlights from the last 80 years – will be shared via their Facebook page.

Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you in two weeks.

If you are new here, follow along for the latest from West Chester. Got some juicy gossip to share? Send me an email. I promise I won’t tell anyone. 🙂

2 thoughts on “West Chester Weekly News Roundup

  1. Why can’t the police/emergency personnel drive vehicles that “should” be maintained if even older models like we all drive are in good order. 2020 or newer cars/trucks aren’t needed. Save some of that money and help your struggling businesses that bring the tax revenue for the Borough.

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