West Chester Weekly News Roundup

Thursday night.

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

It’s Friday, February 19.  The snow may still be coming, but West Chester Park and Rec is planning again. See which popular borough events we can once again look forward to. I finally figured out where at least some of the Stream Protection money is going, a local kid gets called up to the majors and oh yea, West Chester has a new mayor. Grab yourself something hot (and possibly spiked) and let’s do this.

Deja Vu

Who will lead West Chester through the end of the pandemic?

“Jordan [Norley] is a management expert. He knows how to get people to go along with him even when you don’t want to go along with them.”

Bernie Flynn, West Chester Borough Council

This week West Chester Borough Council was tasked with appointing an interim mayor after accepting the resignation of current mayor Dianne Herrin on Wednesday night. After hearing from seven engaging and mostly qualified candidates, the proceedings ended in a familiar place.

Who were the candidates: 

  • David Baldino, the former Henderson swimming star, wanted to focus on bringing the borough through the end of the pandemic and fighting the opioid crisis.
  • Kyle Hudson, the former mayoral candidate, came prepared with a complete presentation and a multi-prong platform
  • Diane LeBold, the former Borough Council president, wanted to improve community outreach creating a community advisory board and focusing police attention on areas with high student housing population.
  • Eric Lorgus, a former member of Borough Council, wanted to improve the police candidate pipeline and was running on his knowledge of the borough. 
  • Jordan Norley, former Borough interim Mayor, pledged to once again serve only for the short term but set out an aggressive agenda for his 10 month stint. This included setting up an advisory ad hoc committee to look at improving racial and gender diversity in the borough’s hiring practices, finalizing the police department’s five year strategic plan and improving transparency in the budgeting process. 
  • Beth Ann Rosica, an education professional and longtime borough resident, also wanted to shine a spotlight on the budget process adding transparency and investigating alternative funding avenues. In addition she’d improve the relationship between the police and minority and low income kids and forge a better relationship with West Chester University. It was a strong performance until it was noted she was suing the Borough. Not a good look for its mayor. 
  • Bonita Tyes, a graduate of West Chester University’s master in psychology program, wanted to improve accessibility to area grocery stores, especially for those without access to a car.

It was a crowded and mostly highly qualified field but in the end the councilmen and woman went back to what they know, naming Jordan Norley interim Mayor by a vote of 5-2. It was made clear the night before (at least some members of) Council would prefer to nominate someone who was resolved to serving only for the short term as to not put their thumb on the scales of the upcoming election. With those conditions in mind, Jordan was the logical choice having served a similar role when Carolyn Comitta resigned making the learning curve minimal. 

“It’s important to remember a vote in favor of Jordan is not a vote against anyone else,” Borough Council President Michael Galey said before the vote. He also noted the Borough was privileged to have such a deep pool of candidates to choose from. All of whom we’ll hopefully get to know more about ahead of May’s primary election. 

Want to see what an alternative race for mayor could look like? This was a fun discussion.

Maybe 2021 really will be different.

“With that in mind, we have been given the “go ahead” to start planning events for 2021 that come after July 1.”

West Chester Park and Rec Department
turks head music festival west chester pa
Turk’s Head, West Chester’s music festival 2019

Last week it became official the West Chester Park and Rec started planning again. While the first half of the year is still on hold, dates have been set for the Turks Head Music Festival, Restaurant Festival and the Halloween Parade among others. 

Here are the events, that for now, are on for 2021: 

  • 38th Annual Turks Head Music Festival – July 18, 2021 (rain date July 25) at Everhart Park
  • Touch A Truck Day – Aug. 8, 2021 at Chester County Government Services Complex on Westtown Road. 
  • 41 Annual Chester County Restaurant Festival – Sept. 19, 2021 (rain date Sept. 25) in downtown West Chester
  • Annual West Chester Halloween Parade – Oct. 27, 2021 (rain date Oct. 28) in downtown West Chester

Also new this year, West Chester Park and Rec is introducing westchesterrec.com. This is a recreation software program that is supposed to make it easier to apply to be a vendor or register for an event, say a class or a bus trip, for example. Use of the program is still in launch phase so for now all you can do now is sign up for a family account but look for it to be populated with events and programs shortly.  

Plum Running 

A retaining wall being carved to resemble stone as part of the Plum Run streambank stabilization project. It will later be stained a brown color to match its surroundings.

So good news, I finally figured out where at least part of the Stream Protection fee money is going. I was bored one evening so I decided to tune into the Public Works Committee meeting to learn more about a “Plum Run Streambank Stabilization” program on the agenda. Well, it turns out it is a project being funded by the Stream Protection fee.

First, QQ – what is Plum Run?  Plum Run is a tributary of the Brandywine Creek. There are two main “branches” to Plum Run. The “East Branch” first surfaces just past where S. Church Street ends and the “West Branch,” according to “Plum Run and its Watershed: A Short Course in Stream Ecology” begins “as a network of storm sewer pipes beneath West Chester University, and surfaces next to a university parking lot just west of New Street.” 

The branches then merge and dump into the Brandywine near the former Lenape Picnic Park. It is the banks of the western branch this project is looking to prop up.

The tributary has been experiencing severe erosion leading the Borough to undertake the streambank stabilization program. Erosion causes a widening of the streambank which can encroach on development in the area. To stop erosion in this area, the Borough is constructing three support walls as well as shaping the stream bed.

The project which is well underway at this point should be completed by the mid- to end of March according to West Chester Public Works Director Alberto Vennettilli (name not familiar to you see below.) If you have any questions about this project I would suggest reaching out to Public Works directly

The warnings. 

Careful, you’re about to sink to a new low. This week the West Chester Police Department was called to a burglary at the Good Will Fire Company. Surveillance video shows a white male proceeding through the station to the bunk room where he removes a wallet and leaves the building. Nothing else was reported missing. 

If this upstanding citizen looks familiar, please notify the WCPD at 610-696-2700.

Don’t share those vaccine links. Last week Chester County Health Department sent out emails to residents in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution schedule. The emails included links to an online scheduling system so those individuals could register for vaccine appointments. Unfortunately for the Health Department the links were not unique and were shared via email and on social media allowing anyone who found the link to sign up for vaccine appointments. The County Health Department has now retroactively cancelled the appointments of anyone who did not originally receive a link. They are reportedly looking for a solution to the link sharing (which is good because this apparently not the first time this has happened), but are leaving a lot of frustrated people in their wake. As one Chester County resident put it, “Come on, do better.” 

Lock all your doors. West Chester Police responded to a burglary at a third floor apartment on the 300 block of W. Washington Street. The suspect reportedly climbed to the third floor balcony then forced his way through the slider doors and into the apartment. Police are looking to speak with Eric “Wiggles” Reason in connection with the incident.  

“Our workforce has endured many challenges this year as we opened the largest expansion in our history, moved quickly into fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and administering vaccines, and still sought opportunities to advance the level of care we provide.” 

Michael Duncan, CEO Chester County Hospital

Accolades.

Congratulations to Chester County Hospital on their designation as one of the country’s top 50 hospitals by Healthgrades, a health provider rating organization. In addition to overall performance, Chester County was recognized as one of the U.S.’s top 100 hospitals in cardiac care, critical care, gastrointestinal care and stroke care. It’s always a good feeling knowing top quality care is just down the street – especially in the middle of a health crisis.

Also high five to Henderson graduate Kyle Morton. After four years of playing second-tier professional soccer, Kyle is being called up to the majors. He recently signed a one year contract with Major League Soccer team the Houston Dynamo with club options for 2022 and 2023. “Kyle has worked hard through the last couple of years to earn this opportunity at the MLS level, and we look forward to welcoming him to our club,” said Dynamo general manager Matt Jordan told the Brotherly Game. Good luck, Kyle. We hope to see don cleats at the premier level.  

Finally, bravo to Eclat chocolate which was included as part of Philadelphia Magazine’s round up of the area’s greatest chocolate shops. If you haven’t tried the caramels, savor them with the smallest bites possible. Trust me, you’ll want them to last forever. Eclat was the only Chester County location to make the list

Hello. 

West Chester University.

To Diversity in STEM majors – and graduates. West Chester University was recently awarded nearly $1 million in scholarship funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be used to support “high-achieving STEM students in the region who have financial need and come from groups typically underrepresented in such fields.” The money will be used to sponsor 18 Science – Technology – Engineering and Mathematics majors. Each will receive a $9000 yearly stipend to  cover the cost of room and board, tuition, fees, books, and travel as well as academic support.

According to the grant, “An emerging body of research suggests that retention of academically-talented, low-income students in STEM majors is a complicated challenge that requires a multifaceted, integrated reinvention of the college experience for these students.”   

To 100 new trees (and more on the way.) This past November, approximately 100 trees were planted – 75 in the right of way and 25 in parks – all around West Chester. An additional 200 are expected to be planted this spring thanks to funding in the 2021 budget allocated to tree planting. 

Want to know more? This fun map from the Borough arborist shows where and which types of trees were planted.

Have an affinity for tree-lined streets? West Chester has a team you just may want to join.  

Also say hello to Alberto Vennettilli, West Chester’s new director of public works. Alberto has served as deputy director of the department for the last six months. Prior to that he was the branch office manager for the Chester and Montgomery County offices of Carroll Engineering Corporation. 

Goodbye. 

To COVID-19 (hopefully.) Chester County is finally upping its vaccination game. This Saturday the County in partnership with Chester County Hospital will hold a mass (1500 doses) vaccination clinic at West Chester University. Note: while the numbers may be higher, the clinic is still by appointment only.

Pay it forward. 

West Chester Food Cupboard wants you to know, they are here if you need them. 

“Nearly 20 percent of local kids live at or below the poverty line, and we see it firsthand,” said Josh Lee, Lieutenant, West Chester Borough Police in a press release. Well, that is a scary thought. To help combat this the West Chester Police Department partnered with Operation Warm, a national nonprofit making sure kids have what they need to stay warm this winter. Through this partnership the WCPD was able to deliver nearly 200 coats to Chester County kids in need. 

If you would also like to help the areas littlest, the YMCA is currently running a diaper drive through the end of the month. Apparently diapers fall into a need-based assistance loophole as there are no state or federal programs that cover them specifically. You can help by dropping a pack or box of diapers off at any area YMCA. Share this with the parents of any potty-training toddlers. It’s a good way to get rid of any extra supply of outgrown Pampers tucked in the back of the closet. 

The freakin’ weekend. 

Writing in the snow.

What are you up to this weekend? We are going out to dinner. Yes, I’ll say that again – out – to – dinner. It will be the first time we have been out to a restaurant since this fall and the first time we’ve eaten inside of one since June and the first time we’ve had a babysitter in just about as long. I know it is still risky, but at this point I can’t say I’m not a bit excited.  

If you’ll also be out and about this weekend: Over the ice and snow? Spring has sprung at Kaly and Blink, Dia Dolce has a new Half Baked Cookie Butter blondie that needs trying and Hake and Jarema will be playing at Pietro’s Prime on Saturday. 

Mark your calendars:

Need a reason to laugh? Well, Uptown has you covered. They are bringing back popular improvisational comedy troupe Better Than Bacon for a virtual show on Feb 27, at 8 p.m. Register here

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

And don’t forget  – the West Chester Borough’s Smart Growth Committee will be holding a special meeting on February 25 to discuss revisions to the Zoning Code. 

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

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

3 thoughts on “West Chester Weekly News Roundup

  1. I’d like to spin back to your editorial comment regarding Beth Rosica and her lawsuit against the borough. Did you know that Dianne Herrin initiated legal action against the borough to recoup legal fee’s that she incurred? No lawsuit was actually filed because the council gave her the money to make it go away. There has been a recent RTK request to expose this information of payments to her. With this being acknowledged, would you or your readers say that this would have been reflected favorably towards her? It didn’t prevent her from retaining her seat as mayor so I’m not sure why Beth’s lawsuit would have procluded her from this same seat. Food for thought.

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    1. Hi John, it might not matter in a general election but you have to admit, an awfully hard sell to this week’s audience. I thought there were a lot of good candidates showcased this week and I hope they all come out and we have a spirited election.

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  2. *Addendum-The payments for her legal fees were not paid directly to her, but rather to the law firm that she sought council under. More to come.

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