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

It’s Friday, October 30.  Heading to the polls on Tuesday? Here’s a list of precautions in place to keep you safe including what to do if someone shows up with a gun. Plus, troubles at the Y, Halloween options and one bizarre arrest story. Pour yourself a pumpkin beer and let’s get started.

Typically one of our favorite “Halloween” houses, they opted for a simple sign this year.

Halloween vibes. Saturday may mark the scariest Halloween in a while. Full moon. Pandemic ravaging the nation. Who needs a horror film when you’re living in one? That said, it’s been such a tough year it’s hard to think of taking one more thing away from the kids especially when in theory you can double mask (costume and COVID), social distance and honor the tradition in a relatively safe way. Most parents I’ve talked to are aiming for a scaled back version of the traditional. Hitting up a few close neighbors for the experience without all the risk, but many still appear on the fence. In a poll I posted earlier this month on Instagram about half of the respondents indicated they’d be sitting out this year. If you do head out, remember mask up, distance, wash your hands before and after and respect the light.

Residents seem on the fence about participating in Halloween this year. Although in full scientific disclosure, I have no baseline numbers to compare this against so I can’t tell you for sure if these numbers are high or low. Oops.

Here are some alternative ways to scratch the Trick or Treat itch: 

  • West Chester Golf and Country Club is giving out ghostly goodie bags on Friday. Stop by anytime between 11:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. for a treat.
  • Monkey Fish Toys in Bradford plaza is hosting in-store Trick or Treating on Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Kids wearing a costume will get a special treat (and a jump on their Christmas lists.)
  • Wawa is offering a free kids meal and a twizzler to kids who come to the store in costume on Halloween day.  
  • Thornbury Farms CSA on 926 and New Street is hosting a Family Halloween Day with music, a food truck, pumpkin decorating and a bewitching tale or two. Bwahaha. 
I can not lie. I will not be sorry to see this election season end.

Election Day safety. There has been a lot of chatter around election day, especially in Pennsylvania, with both sides calling for poll watchers to make sure there is no interference in the elections. However for all the passivity applied by the name, poll watchers have been known to try to influence or dissuade voters through intimidation and other methods. To ensure this doesn’t happen in West Chester, members of Borough Council and the Chief of Police reviewed the measures in place on election day. 

Some things you should know: 

  • All poll watchers must be registered by the state and should have a certificate signifying this.
  • Constables, or an officer of the peace – but not of the police, will be monitoring polling places on the day of elections. However, it was not clear if there are enough constables available to have one at each polling place.
  • West Chester Police Department will have extra officers on duty as well. Although, police cannot be within 100 feet of a polling place unless they are called to investigate an incident. 

What should you do if someone shows up at your polling place armed? Use your best judgement says Chief Morehead, but if you get a bad feeling don’t hesitate to call for backup. 

On the ballot. ICYMI Here’s who’s running locally

  • In the 19th District, West Chester resident and former mayor Carolyn Comitta is running for State Senate against Kevin Runey. They are vying for the seat vacated by longtime state senator Andy Dinniman earlier this year.
  • In the 156th District, West Chester resident and current mayor Dianne Herrin is running for State Representative against Len Iacono. This is for the seat vacated by Carolyn Comitta in her bid for the 19th District Senate seat (see above).
  • In the Borough, Lisa Dorsey is running as the Ward 7 representative. She is looking to hold onto the seat she assumed after being appointed by Borough Council this summer. The seat was vacated after Councilwoman Denise Polk stepped down over the closing of Gay Street. Lisa is running unopposed. 

“We are taking every precaution we can to create the safest experience possible—there is no compromising.”

Nic Legere, Executive Director of Safety and Risk Management for the YMCA of Greater Brandywine
Oscar Lasko YMCA on the first day of school 2020.

Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Well, unless of course you are the Y-M-C-A. COVID-19 has not been kind to the YMCA. According to a recent report in the Daily Local, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine has been forced to cut part time staff by 60 percent and full time staff by 33 percent since March – and that’s a pretty big number of unemployed. While the data is a bit old at this point, the Chester County Chamber of Commerce lists the Greater Brandywine YMCA as one of the top 15 employers in Chester County and that includes two branch locations in West Chester. 

Despite the setbacks and closures, the Y continues to push forward. It will soon fully reopen both its workout facilities in West Chester. Oscar Lasko’s gym and fitness centers reopen next week. Fitness classes and sports programs have resumed although with smaller sizes, mandatory masks and no cheering fans. It has also reorganized its childcare options to provide learning center support to students attending virtual or cyber classes. However, even with the pickup of activity they are still forecasting losses of $19 million in revenue for the year. Further complicating problems, the YMCA is not eligible for relief funding under the CARES act since restrictions were placed on businesses and organizations with more than 500 employees.

To help offset the losses the Y has launched a “Here For Good” campaign and is offering membership discounts of 20 percent through the end of the year. Mask up and get a jump on taking off that COVID-15. 

Childcare has remained a real concern for parents throughout the pandemic.

The childcare dilemma. While virtual education is not ideal for students and a massive headache for teachers and administrators, it’s no peach for parents either. According to an email that went out to parents this week many families in Chester County are struggling to find and pay for adequate childcare for their kids during remote and hybrid instruction. To help offset some of these costs the Chester County Board of Commissioners recently approved childcare grants for qualifying parents in Chester County.  

Grants are available to cover the care of children up to 13 years of age (children with disabilities may be eligible through age 21). To qualify a family of four must have household income of under $115,950.

If you are in need of assistance, apply as soon as possible. Funds received must be used by December 30, 2020.

Welcome to West Chester video project.

Look mom, I’m on West Chester’s video project! Well, I’m not but you may be. This week the Borough of West Chester released its welcome to West Chester video project. The project includes videos on eight separate topics such as community services, relocation, downtown business development and attractions. At this moment, the series feels a little out of touch as it was clearly filmed before COVID changed the rules but hopefully all the attractions it touts will be relevant again soon. 

The warnings. Be careful who you invite into your home or you might end up with egg on your walls. In a bizarre arrest report, West Chester Police reported entering the apartment of a temporarily out of town West Chester University student to find three men inside and egg thrown on the walls of the bedroom, a raw chicken in the closet, melted ice cream spread over the walls and a few spent joints on the floor. Police were called to the residence by the West Chester Student who notified them she had received a video from one of the men, Daniel Lucas, in her home taking medicine out of her purse. The student previously knew Daniel and had invited him to her residence earlier in the week. However, when he arrived she was out of town visiting family in Philadelphia. Daniel is currently being held on bail. 

Don’t forget to drop back. Yep, it’s that time of year again. 

Accolades. Last week we applauded  the West Chester Area School District on ranking in the top 50 school districts in the state. Now we are extending props to West Chester’s Westtown School which ranked 16 out of Pennsylvania’s 196 private schools according to the latest rankings from Niche.com. Westtown received an A+ rating overall. It’s lowest mark came in sports where it dipped to A-.  

Speaking of gifted educators, also giving a shout out to Virginia Barbarin, Middle School teacher at Chester County’s Seba Enrichment Academy at St. Paul’s Baptist Church on Hagerty Boulevard. Virginia was one of just 10 teachers from four states recognized by the National Liberty Museum as part of its 14th Annual ‘Teacher as Hero’ Awards.

Also, congratulations to Highland Orchards which was recently featured in Philadelphia Magazine for having some of the best apple cider donuts in the region. If you haven’t tried them already they’re available all year long at their bakery. Want to avoid fall crowds? Preorder for curbside pickup.  

Finally, congratulations to Monalinas Hair Designs on 25 years of putting smiles on faces in the borough. 

Work on the new mural was well underway on Tuesday. The question now is will the rain keep them from finishing by this weekend?

Goodbye. To blank spaces. This weekend artist Kendra Beitzel is completing her ode to voting rights on the side of the building at 119 East Market Street. The massive piece was commissioned by the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. 

Get the backstory on this amazing project here.  

Hey west side: We’ve now got our own brewery!

Hello. Chester County History Center. Starting on Thursday the newly renamed and rebranded history center once again began welcoming visitors to its exhibits. Visitors must reserve tickets online prior to arriving. All tickets are timed to limit the total number of visitors. And, as always, COVID restrictions apply. 

Hola (again) to Imperio Mayo. The Mexican grocery store and taqueria which was located on Market Street has moved to Gay Street and is now open again.

Say hello to your new principal Westtown Thronbury, Dr. Shawn Cruice will step in as the elementary school’s new leader effective November 16, 2020. 

Finally welcome to Wrong Crowd Brewing which is now licensed and brewing at their new Hannum Avenue location.

Pay it forward. Looking for an easy way to do something for someone? 

West Chester Public Library has started a WishList on Amazon. Why not throw a little something extra in the cart next time you’re making a run? Most items are under $10 and would go a long way toward supporting day-to-day operations. 

Bar Avalon, the undisputed champion of pandemic giving, at it again. This time with their Give-Get-Love Pay-it-Forward gift cards. Yes, the name is a mouthful but so is what you get for the money. For every $25 gift card purchased, $20 will be paid forward onto a random Avalon customer’s dinner check, $15 goes towards purchasing PPE for West Chester Area School District and you get a $10 gift card to keep for yourself. Now, I’m pretty good at spotting a deal, and that’s a deal.

Also, got an opinion on the Mariner East Pipeline? West Chester University is working on a research initiative around the environmental and community impacts of the project. If you are local to the pipeline and would like to share your thoughts on the matter, in a constructive manner, send an email to Alyssa Ricci for more details on the project.

The freakin’ weekend. What are you up to this weekend? We are catching the Halloween classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown tonight at the Y and I am still playing tomorrow by ear. We got quite the candy haul from the Park & Rec’s Trunk or Treat event (lines were long but the payout didn’t disappoint.) So now I’m thinking maybe we’ll hit the town earlier in the day and pick up some cupcakes at Yori’s and warm up with hot drinks at Saloon 151 – can I get mine with Crown Royal Salted Caramel, please? It’s been a long week so I’m ready to keep it chill.

Oooh, these look good, too.

Also, getting ready for fall purging? I know I have the itch. Before you do, sign up for the West Chester Buy Nothing Group, if you haven’t already.

Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week. 

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One thought on “West Chester Weekly News Roundup

  1. More accolades go out to Bernie Flynn, Michael Gailey, and Don Braceland for their integrity and non-partisan principled stand against the latest freedom limiting ordinance. Mr. Braceland and I have had our history for sure, but he is honest in his assessment of this particular vote. I for one, appreciate those borough council members who have a check on themselves in the search for a debate instead of falling in line with the heavy handed and “one size fits all approach.” Kudos to you all.

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