West Chester Weekly News Roundup

Roughly 6″ of snow was laid across the Borough in two seperate storms this week.

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

It’s Friday, February 12. Work in hospitality or retail? Chester County wants to get you back to work. Plus, candidates begin to come forth to be the next week West Chester Mayor – see what they’ll be doing – and Stove and Tap’s much anticipated grand opening. It’s February 12 – snow is on the ground. Love is in the air. Let’s get started.

Will the next West Chester Mayor please stand up?  

Mayor Herrin championed Main Street Strong and the closing of Gay Street last summer. What will the new mayor prioritize?

“West Chester Borough Council is seeking interested Borough residents to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Herrin.”

Announcement posted to the Borough website

Editor’s note: This item has been updated with the official list of interim mayoral candidates.

In case you haven’t been following the headlines, Dianne Herrin is set to resign her position as mayor of West Chester on February 18 to focus on her new duties as the area’s PA State Representative. So next week… drum roll please…, Borough Council will appoint an interim mayor. 

The interim mayor will be named at a special Borough Council meeting that has been scheduled for Thursday, February 18 at 7 p.m. However in order to have a candidate to put forth, Borough Council will be interviewing interested parties at their February 17, Borough Council meeting. 

The interim mayor will hold the position starting immediately after being announced on February 18 to January 3, 2022 at which time the elected mayor will assume duties. At this time no stipulations have been set to state that the interim mayor can’t run for the open seat whose election cycle will begin with the primary in May. 

The elected mayor will begin in January 2022 with full four-year term.

Remind me, what exactly does the mayor do?

In West Chester political power is divided between Borough Council and the mayor and, in my opinion, Borough Council has much more of it. The mayor’s primary duty is to supervise the administration of the Police Department. He or she also serves as the ceremonial head of the West Chester government, acts as the tie-breaking vote on matters of council, as we all learned this fall, can declare a state of emergency and often serves as a champion of projects important to him or her – Mayor Herrin, for one, was integral in the closing of Gay Street last summer.

Do we have any candidates yet? 

We do. Interest in the position is starting to spread. Three candidates have already formally announced their intention to run, and several others are rumored to do so. 

Who we know so far:   

Here are the interim candidates:

  • David Baldino, former Henderson swimming star
  • Kyle Hudson, see above
  • Diane LeBold, former Borough Council president
  • Eric Lorgus, former member Borough Council
  • Jordan Norley, former Borough interim Mayor. Jordan Norley served as mayor during that transition period from Mayor Carolyn Comitta to Mayor Herrin.
  • Beth Ann Rosica, back-to-school advocate
  • Bonita Tyes, former West Chester University graduate student

Editor’s note: Neither Don nor Lillian were listed among the interim candidates being considered tonight by Borough Council.

I’ve been feeling a little civic lately – is there still time to add my name to the list?

Yes, but you better hurry. Applications are due by end of business today (February 12). Here’s what you need to know, per the homepage of West-Chester.com:

“West Chester Borough Council is seeking interested Borough residents to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Herrin. In accordance with Section 404 of the West Chester Borough Home Rule Charter, the requirements to be a “Qualified Person” for the office of Mayor are as follows:

  • shall be a qualified voter of the Borough; and
  • shall have been a resident continuously in the Borough for at least one (1) year preceding his or her election or appointment; and
  • shall remain a continuous resident of the Borough during his or her term of office.”

Anyone interested in applying needs to submit a resume with a cover letter to Borough Manager Mike Perrone no later than the end of day today (February 12). Send both to:  MayorVacancy@west-chester.com

No end in sight. 

This week the West Chester Area School District held informational sessions with parents of elementary and secondary students. You can find both sessions on the district’s YouTube channel.

This week the West Chester Area School District met with parents via a live YouTube presentation to discuss the rest of the school year. Which, to be honest, doesn’t sound much different than now.

With the vaccination of teachers looking highly unlikely at least in the mid-to-near future the sum take away of the evening landed in a familiar space: how far is far enough apart to keep teachers, staff and students safe while COVID-19 is still present?

And at least for now the the answer remains six feet and as long as the County Health Department (with backing of the PA teachers union) sticks with this guidance, kids will remain in a hybrid environment. There was some indication from Health Director Jeanne Franklin this guidance could be relaxed if community transmission rates were to drop low enough. However, exactly how low is low enough was not defined. 

We also learned:

  • There is not only a priority but a preference for returning elementary students. Currently only 27 percent of elementary are planning to stay entirely remote. This is compared to 39 percent of middle schoolers and 56 percent of high school students.
  • 92 percent of WCASD staff is willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine; however that is not likely anytime soon as PA is ranked 49th in the country for distribution.
  • Summer is the District’s sweet spot for getting kids back on track. Summer programs will be offered at no charge to all students. In person and asynchronous learning options will be available. Learn more here.

The countdown to 2050

Chestnut Street parking garage.

“Thanks to energy benchmarking completed in 2019 and
updated on a monthly basis many opportunities to save
energy and dollars were identified.”

Sustainability Director Will Williams

With an energy goal of 100 percent renewable by 2050, West Chester has much yet to do to green its energy supply but you can’t account for what you don’t count. In 2019, the Sustainability Department completed an energy benchmarking initiative of Borough operations. With this data in hand, in 2020 the Borough led by Sustainability Director Will Williams was able to tackle several energy reduction projects including: 

  • 21% reduction in energy usage at Chestnut Street Garage by creating a “deadband” between facility-wide heating and ventilation setpoints 
  • 6% increase in production by the Borough’s solar PV array on Chestnut Street Garage achieved by identifying and correcting inverter faults following power outages 
  • Retrocommissioning of Borough Hall HVAC controls, setpoints, and scheduling with the Borough’s new HVAC contractor and building management system 

Bonus: The monitoring also helped identify a large billing error on the PECO bill for the Goose Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. A faulty meter reading was doubling the facilities’ energy expenses. 

Reducing energy usage is the first step in any energy transition plan. Hopefully this is the beginning of more efficiencies to come. 

We also learned that the Borough’s Stream Protection Fee program was moved under the Sustainability Department. The change has apparently been good for the program’s budget. According the the Department’s year end report collections rose by 58 percent in 2020 compared with the three years prior, “providing an additional $518,000 for stormwater management in 2021.” Less clear is exactly what this budget is being used for.  

You can read more about what the Sustainability Department has been up to in their 2020 Sustainability report.

The warnings. 

Finding a parking spot can be a challenge in a snow storm.

Snow emergency: you don’t have to go to a garage, but you can’t stay here. Lots of confusion this week about what to do with your car during a snow emergency. 

If you live on a snow emergency route you need to move your car before the storm, or you will get ticketed. If you live on one of these streets you will also need to move your car if accumulation exceeds four inches even if an emergency was not called, or again you will get ticketed.  This is to allow Public Works to completely plow these routes. Chestnut and Bicentennial parking garages are free during snow emergencies so residents are encouraged to leave your car there. Admittedly, not ideal if you live on the outer edges of some of these routes but thems are the rules. 

You will also need to continue to obey posted parking signs, that means alternate side of the street parking. Per the borough website:

“Residents are reminded to pay close attention to all parking restrictions which may exist on your street. On the days following a snow storm, the Public Works Department follows along the Street Sweeper Routes, either 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on selected days, or 2 a.m. – 5 a.m. on other days.”

Again, the garages are free to use during these times.

However, note while garages are available during the snow emergency – your vehicles will need to be moved when the snow emergency ends – or you guessed it, you will be ticketed. 

Watch out for exploding plants. This week West Chester police were called out to Locust Alley to investigate an explosion. Upon arrival the police found a potted plant blown up by a small explosive. It was not clear what kind of explosive was used, but neighbors say this was not the first incident. If you have any information about this or any of the explosions, contact West Chester Police at 610-696-2700.

Accolades.

We should soon be seeing new performances on this stage! Photo: Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.

Bravo to Uptown! Knauer. The performing arts center on High Street recently announced a record breaking New Year’s Eve livestream event. As you may recall Uptown’s annual gala was forced to go virtual this year. Which it turns out was a good thing. The event raised more than $80,000 and propelled the theater well on its way toward reaching the goal of its “Raise Up the Curtain” fundraising campaign. 

According to Molly Morrison, board secretary, the money raised will “allow Uptown! to reopen with all new performances for our loyal patrons, as well as allow for the installation of safety features to enhance the onsite experience.” Now, that’s some good news for us all.

And while we are here, we must also extend our congratulations to April Evans. Uptown’s interim director was recently extended the official position and she has accepted. I can’t wait to see what April and Uptown have planned for us this year!

And finally, high-fives to The Shop On Market St for joining West Chester Sustainable Storefronts effort. The Shop will be using recyclable paper bags for its retail items to reduce single-use waste in our community.  

Goodbye. 

Goodbye to Janet Reed’s mural at Wiley’s Garage on N. Church Street – but this is a happy goodbye. As you may recall developer Adam Loew, who is currently renovating the N. Church location, was looking for a new home for the painting. Well, I am happy to report it has been rescued! The artwork can be found at least for now at 103 S. High Street. This is the current office of Eric Lorgus, Vice Chair of the West Chester Historical Commission, and once home of Marie Cassatt, the impressionist painter, so an appropriate stopover. 

“The painting’s eventual home will be one of WCASD’s elementary schools, per Janet’s wishes,” Eric shared via email. The painting was rescued just two days before construction started.

Hello. 

To Stove and Tap. After months of waiting the Landsdale eatery has seated the first table at their new West Chester location. Doors opened Monday at the corner of Gay and Darlington Streets with the Grand Opening planned for yesterday. This marks the third location for the namesake operation opening their second location in Malvern last year. Temporary hours are 4 p.m – 9 p.m.; 4 p.m. -10 p.m. on weekends. Hop onto Open Table for a reservation, if you’d like to check them out. 

And if you think West Chester nightlife hasn’t been the same since the Underground Bar below Landmark shut down, I have some more good news for you. Philly Bite is reporting that Stove and Tap owners Joseph Monnich and Justin Weathers have started work on a new drink-focused concept (cough) club (cough) set to open later this year under Stove and Tap West Chester with an entrance on Darlington Street.   

To red and white bagels from Rolling Stars bakery. In honor of Valentine’s Day Rolling Stars is making a limited batch of chewy bagels in the holiday’s signature red and white color scheme. As a graduate of Indiana University, this bagel has double meaning for me. Pick them up from now until February 14 – and go Hoosiers! 

Finally, get ready to welcome back in person drinking at Levante Brewing’s West Chester Taproom. The West Chester brewery recently shared they are staffing up in anticipation of reopening their Carter Street location. No official date yet, but keep an eye on their social feeds for details. 

Pay it forward. 

Know a hospitality or retail work that lost his or her job during the pandemic? Well, help is here and with no time to waste. A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows retail and hospitality industries continue to struggle. The Hospitality industry lost nearly 600,000 jobs over the last two months. While the retail industry gave back some of its holiday gains, losing 38,000 jobs in January. 

The Chester County Workforce Development Board wants to change the narrative and help these workers get back on their feet by preparing them for high-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry. To do this the County is offering a free three week, half-day manufacturing boot camp for Chester County residents.  

Only cavat applications are due TODAY and camp starts Monday. Interested? Call 610-280-1062 or email rspatichia@edsisolutions.com now! 

Want to stay in the hospitality industry? Nudy’s is hiring

The freakin’ weekend. 

What are you up to this weekend? I am going to cheer on the boys at their basketball game. They have been participating in the Y’s winter four-on-four basketball league, but we have been judicial in sending spectators. This is my weekend to route them on from the track above the court. Should be interesting.

Also, we’ll be making and delivering a few select Valentines.

 Speaking of Valentine’s Day –

Uptown is hosting “An Evening Of Love Songs” on Sunday at 7 p.m., Spence Cafe has planned a four-course dinner for two and Dia Doce has created a cupcake of the month club for a year of love. Follow #wclovelocal on Instagram for some more ideas.  

Mark your calendars:

Fat Tuesday is February 16 and Yori’s has you covered. They have been busy whipping up Fastnachts and king cakes. Order yours now so you have them for Tuesday.

Have an idea for a new business venture? Here’s your chance to win a little start up cash. West Chester University is holding its 9th Annual Business Idea Competition this spring. Get your business plans together. Submissions are due February 23 and the live pitch event will take place on April 14th. Get started here

If you are a fan of the anonymous street artist Cassius King, you can now get your own sticker swag from the master with the Stickeraffiti vending machine. Eight classic designs will be dispensed at random for the low, low price of $1.25. Art for the masses. You can check it out now at: The Beer Mill on Hannum Ave.

Learn yourself a little something with a pay as you wish presentation from the Chester County History Center. On Wed. February 17, Dr. Robert Kodosky will be leading an exploration of the Tuskegee Airmen during wartime. The virtual event will be held via Zoom.   

Also, Chester County Hospital is offering a variety of free wellness classes throughout the month of February on topics from heart health to cooking with color to hands only CPR training. See if something interests you here

Prefer to stay in this weekend? Here are 8 West Chester Instagram accounts well worth your time.

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

New to the blog? Follow along for the latest from West Chester.

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