West Chester Weekly News Roundup

Signs of spring emerging throughout the borough.

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

It’s Friday, March 19. Show me the money. Local governments are finally getting some pandemic assistance from the Federal government and West Chester has $1.9 million of it coming its way. Plus, nearly a quarter of West Chester’s population is non-white, yet local institutions continue to struggle with how to best serve these populations. Now there will be a few select folks designated to figure out how. And we say goodbye to a West Chester icon. It may have only been six years, but their presence on Gay Street will be sorely missed. Spring starts tomorrow and not a minute too soon. Let’s get started.

Show me the money

A quiet Ryan’s Pub on Saint Patrick’s Day morning.

This week we learned the Borough of West Chester will be receiving 1.9 million dollars in financial aid as part of the recent Federal stimulus package. While there is sure to be stipulations on how the funds can be spent, the money will be a welcome addition to Borough coffers which continue to suffer from a loss in parking revenue. 

According to a press release put out by the Borough this week, West Chester can expect to receive the funds in two allotments; roughly half this year, and the rest sometime next year. 

The Borough was also notified of a new potential grant opportunity open to municipalities. While there is a tight filing deadline, the Borough management team is already making arrangements to apply for a grant in conjunction with West Goshen to fund a Goose Creek flooding study. 

Grant applications are due March 26, but if you have any more ideas I am sure the borough team would love to hear them.

Minority report

Two West Chester police officers confer with a black resident outside the Superior Suds Laundromat.

Despite being a stated goal, the West Chester Police Department has struggled to attract a diverse pool of candidates for its open positions. During the last recruitment period which resulted in the hiring of four new officers, the hiring board reported receiving no qualified minority candidates.

Now the West Chester Mayor’s office is forming a Police Department Diversity task force to review current processes and make recommendations to improve recruitment and support diversity candidates throughout their careers. The task force is made up of seven people including representatives from the Mayor’s office, the police department, borough council and three residents.  

The task force idea is not without its detractors. Borough Council member Don Braceland stated in a recent Public Safety meeting about the situation, “I don’t think it needs that level of complexity.” Preferring that the Police Department instead work with an outside recruiting agency that specializes in diversity. However, as a mayoral initiative it does not need Council support and the initiative moves forward with at least six of the seven members having already been formerly invited to participate.

By one count, the West Chester police department would need to add nine ethnic minority officers to reach an adequate facsimile of the West Chester population.

Also, struggling to answer the question of equity, West Chester Area School District. In one recent ranking by Niche.com, all three high schools received their lowest marks on diversity. However, this is issue is not new. The District has had an equity mission in place since 2004 but as the superintendent James Scanlon said, “The work is hard and after 17 years, we are barely above the waterline of the iceberg. There is much more work to do, and we will continue to do.” 

That is in part why, earlier this year the district announced it had hired its first ever Director of Equity and Assessment, Dawn Mader, a 20-year educator who last served as an assistant principal at Rustin.  

However the original announcement included little more than a name – now we have more details on the role she will play. In a statement from the district said: 

“Under this new role, Mrs. Mader will support a culturally balanced curriculum for all district students and manage the district’s equity teams. She will also be responsible for analyzing all assessment data to identify equity gaps and propose and guide strategies for closing these gaps.” 

The warnings. 

You’re going to feel that in the morning. West Chester Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association was chastised by the PA Auditor’s office this week for spending over $5500 on alcohol for a firefighter recruitment dinner in 2019. “While I understand recruiting and retaining firefighters is a challenge,” the Auditor told The Daily Local, “Picking up the tab for drinks is not something state taxpayers should be asked to do.” 

While the West Chester Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association supports West Chester’s three firehouses it is a separate legal entity. According to the report in The Daily Local, the auditors are recommending the fire departments reimburse the association for the unauthorized expenses. A night out that sounds like it’s been responsible for more than a few headaches.

Better to take the walk. Last month a West Chester man was arrested on assault charges after threatening to settle an argument with a baseball bat. Fortunately no contact was made but the victim did injure himself while trying to get out of the strike zone. The incident took place on the 200 block of Bolmar Street. The man has since been arrested and is currently being held on $10,000 bail. 

Accolades.

West Chester University in the spring.

Congratulations to West Chester University 2020 freshman class who are finally getting an opportunity to see campus as students! Beginning this week, West Chester University freshmen will get a chance to move into campus residence halls, meet classmates, attend departmental open houses and learn what it means to be a Golden Ram (I am assuming this does not include the beer pong portion of the experience). Students have the option to participate for just this weekend or through the remainder of the semester. Classes will remain virtual and a negative COVID-19 test is required before students will be allowed on campus.   

Also, high-fives to Chester County hospital who announced the preparations for its first ever residency program last week. The residents who will be part of the Pharmacy program will interact with the hospital’s doctors, nurses, and physician assistants as well as its pharmacists hopefully coming together to deliver the “complete training experience.” The one-year program is expected to enroll its first two residents this summer. 

Goodbye.

“Writing this with a major heavy heart and tears coming down my face.”

Krissy Flynn, owner of The Classic Diner
Until they are not. We will miss this sight.

To The Classic Diner. After six and half years on Gay Street, The Classic Diner closed its doors this week. COVID-19 coupled with the unexpected sale of their building proved too much for the made-fresh-to-order diner. Breakfasts in the Borough will not be the same. Their brioche French toast still ranks among my favorite West Chester meals.

Not all hope is lost, their catering company at 827 Lincoln Ave and their Malvern location will continue to serve up mouth-water meals while they search for a new location downtown.  

Hello. 

Say ciao to gelato options – because really one is just not enough. D’Ascenzo’s gelato reopens tonight with old favorites like stracciatella and mocha espresso and limited edition Girl Scout cookie inspired creations, all piled high like delicious whipped cream clouds. Yum.

Also, say hi to eastern medicine options within walking distance. Oriental Medicine of West Chester (formerly Chester County Herbs and Acupuncture) is relocating its practice to 239 E. Market Street – suite 101. In addition, to new digs the three member team of licensed practitioners is now able to offer expanded services including community acupuncture and Qi gong classes.   

And finally, say hello watching athletics live again. Well, sort of. West Chester University announced this week it is updating its spectator policy to allow a few fans at spring sporting events but few is the operative word there. West Chester University student athletes and team personnel will be allowed to invite two fans to their events. However, no visiting spectators will be allowed and the names of guests must be submitted to the athletic department no later than 24 hours before the start of the event. The new normal. 

Pay it forward. 

“We have literally hundreds of hours of community service that can be used in ways to directly benefit the community.” 

Jordan Norley, West Chester Mayor
Parks without “Friends of” support, like Kathy McBratnie park on W. Nields Street, will be the focus of a newly resumed community service project.

After being shut down last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the community service program run through Judge Marian Vito’s court is ready to restart with a few modifications. Under the revised guidelines, the court-mandated community service program will resume with outdoor service hours. To protect the health and safety of participants the program is being limited to just three local government or nonprofit entities rather than the 15 that participated previously, 

For the now, community service hours will be equally split between three locations:

  • Business Improvement District
  • Borough of West Chester including the 12 borough parks
  • Melton Center

The additional manpower will be used to clean up trash around the borough and beautify parks that don’t have “Friends of” associations to support them. 

Note: You don’t need court mandated community service hours to help out the Borough. Community-wide clean ups have been scheduled at Everhart Park on April 17; and a Borough-wide for April 23 and April 24. Look for registration details on the Borough homepage. 

Feeling civic minded and want first dibs on the latest West Chester developments? The Planning Commission is looking for a new member. If you are interested in being considered for the position, submit your resume and cover letter to Dana DiMonenico no later than April 2 and if you get the position, remember who tipped you off to this vacancy in the first place.

Finally, if Tuesday’s shootings in Atlanta have feeling like you need to do something. The Facebook group West Chester Alliance for Social Justice is a great resource. It is private group but is open to anyone who wants to work on social justice issues the West Chester area.

The freakin’ weekend. 

It’s that time of year when old parks seem new again.

What are you up to this weekend? I’ve taken a winter break from the West Chester’s Growers Market, but I think it’s time to stop by again. If not only for some cut flowers to brighten the dining room. Plus, mark your calendar for March 24 – $1 cannoli day is coming back to Gemelli!

Also, if by this point in the pandemic you feel like you’re in a viewing rut, here are a couple of options that lean to the bizarre that just might get you excited again: 

First, schedule some time at the “Carnival of Ruin.” The West Chester University art exhibit showcases costumes, sets, and props made entirely from post-consumer waste. The exhibit will be open for public viewing next week – Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Appointments required. Contact Laurie Moran in the Department of Art + Design for details.

Then check out Ordinary Poisons. Billed as the “different historical ways everyday objects could kill you” this Zoom presentation from the West Chester Library and the Chester County History Center is not suitable for children which means, graphic enough for adults. Arsenic wallpaper, anyone? If you’re interested, presentation will be on Zoom, March 25 from 7 – 8 p.m. Registration required

Mark your calendars:

  • March 20: CRC Watershed Association is holding its 23rd annual streams clean up. 
  • March 25: Virtual presentation: Ordinary Poisons – Quack Medicine, Fashion Victims, and Good Intentions Gone Wrong. Register here
  • March 22-26: Carnival of Ruin, John H. Baker Gallery, E.O Bull Center for the Arts, 2 E. Rosedale Ave
  • March 24 – March 27: 31st Annual WCU Jazz Festival (Virtual). See the line up here
  • The Borough wide + All Parks Cleanup is scheduled for 4/24 and 4/25

Stay safe. Stay healthy and no Roundup next week but I will be deconstructing the new zoning code – which may help to explain the influx of breweries on Hannum Avenue. See you then!

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

3 thoughts on “West Chester Weekly News Roundup

  1. https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-antibody-testing-fiasco-prompts-chester-county-overhaul-procurement-systems-20210121.html
    So let me get this straight, county commissioners squander $11 Million on an unproven antibody testing firm and we are now supposed to say “great, we are getting $1.9 million in federal funds for West Chester”. All three commissioners should be held to account. We are sending free money to everyone. Assistance should be targeted to those that have been displaced and severely impacted by the pandemic, but we are just dropping money out of the sky. Lose $11 Million for the county, don’t worry about it. The Govt will just print up some more and send it your way. A day of reckoning is coming economically. Help those that need it, but don’t just drop money from a helicopter. There was a loss of parking revenue because the clueless Mayor declared a state of emergency and put the wood to any downtown businesses. (How’d Florida handle it?) The best part is the clueless Mayor got a promotion to state representative. Is is any wonder the world is so messed up when you have state reps and county commissioners that are stone cold morons (both parties).

    C E SPEED (is back)

    Like

  2. Thank you for your weekly efforts. I enjoy your blog.
    A diner that closes after six years is hardly iconic. West Chester has been around a long time. Six years is nothing. Sad to see them go, but not everything is “iconic”, “historic” or “legendary”.

    Like

    1. Yes, a little bit of lazy writing on my part, but I did look it up and got synonyms of symbol, model, and star – so I decided it was passable. While, it was not around forever it did feel like it was part of the West Chester landscape. Some places don’t take as long to make an impact as others.

      Like

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