With so much going on around town, catch up on what you may have missed.
It’s Friday, April 16. Over a hundred people gathered at the courthouse in the rain this week to show trans kids they are not in this alone. Plus, we look at who’s running for School Board from West Chester. Two new restaurants open and the Borough gets ready for a block-by-block clean up. Have you reserved your spot yet? Here’s your latest West Chester news update.
All Kids Belong
“The nearly 100 anti-trans bills introduced across the country, including our very own here in PA, represent the latest in a long history of attempts to exploit a misunderstood population.”Dianne Herrin, PA State Representative
This week leaders, students and community members gathered at the steps of the Chester County Courthouse to show their support for the local transgender student community. The rally was organized as word of local support for PA House Bill 972 materialized. PA House Bill 972 is recently introduced legislation that would make it so only those assigned female at birth could participate in girl’s sports at high school and collegiate levels.
Can you tell me more, like how we got dragged into this debate?
The “All Kids Belong” rally was originally scheduled as a counterpoint to a Common Sense Coalition PAC fundraising event that was scheduled for Wednesday at Teca. The Common Sense Coalition is a PAC supported by several high profile local and county business and community leaders and while the stated goal of the fundraiser was to garner support for two proposed constitutional amendments that would limit Governor Wolf’s ability to declare a disaster, special guest Martina White gave the evening another angle. Rep. White is a primary sponsor of PA House Bill 972.
So who was in attendance?
More than 100 people gathered in the rain at the “All Kids Belong” rally to show support for the LGBTQA+ community and listen to speakers such as Representative Dianne Herrin and State Senator Carolyn Comitta. The event was also attended by West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley, who stated, “We do not tolerate intolerance,” as well as mayoral candidates Kyle Hudson and Lillian DeBaptiste, and West Chester Area School Board member Daryl Durnell as well as several other elected county officials.
What was said?
Speakers at the rally called for unity, support and understanding for the transgender community. Calls to squash PA House Bill 972 (which has little chance of becoming law) were also made. Many speakers suggested that this was simply a wedge issue designed to divide communities.
Why is this important?
Well, that is the big question. The argument for the bill is, woman athletes, if they have to compete against transgender athletes, will be at a disadvantage. This bill, if enacted, would eliminate that presumed disadvantage.
However, there is little evidence this is the case and the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee both have policies regarding transgender participation in sports. So the question was raised, is another policy really needed at this time?
Then there is the question of who exactly is being affected? To help understand the scope of this issue, this stat was presented at the rally: In the 15 states and DC that allow transgender athletes to participate in school sports, transgender athletes represent less than 1 out of every 100 athletes. (Note: I couldn’t find that statistic anywhere. The numbers that I found show that it’s actually probably much lower, with few lawmakers even able to offer examples of the athletes they are introducing bills to protect against.)
I did find this though, UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy calculates Pennsylvania is home to roughly 12,000 transgender people between the ages of 13 and 24. To put that number in context, Pennsylvania has 1,597,072 people living here between the ages of 15 and 24, if you do the math we are talking about less than one percent of these youth are transgender and presumably far fewer have any interest in athletics.
On the other hand, at last month’s school board meeting it was shared that over 15 percent of the West Chester Area School District population was eligible for the free school lunch program. Meal distribution for 2020-2021 rose to 284,780 meals – and 124 students are currently facing homelessness. That is a 75 percent increase over the previous year.
The More You Know
Staying with the future of our young people for a minute, let’s take a quick look at the upcoming West Chester Area School Board elections. The school board has several members up for election this year, including one representing the Borough of West Chester.
Two term West Chester representative Joyce Chester is up for re-election. She is running against Ada Nestor. Both women are listed as both Republican and Democrat by voter services so you should have an opportunity to vote for either as long as you are registered with a party. However, if you are registered as an Independent you’ll need to choose a party if you want to vote in the primary. The deadline to register for the primary is May 3.
Joyce Chester – Key issues
- Joyce is very much taking a cautious approach to COVID-19. In February, she voted against the return to school for all students. You can read her stated reason for that decision here.
- She is a proponent of maintaining COVID safety guidelines including masking and distancing until a time when they are not deemed necessary by the CDC and Chester County Department of Health.
- Supports fiscal responsibility
- Prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion
- Supports investments in technology
Joyce is President and CEO of Chester County Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), Inc., a local non-profit entity that provides adult literacy and employment training to disadvantaged Chester County residents and a mother of two WCASD graduates. She has served on the West Chester Area School Board since 2013. You can find more about Joyce here.
Ada Nestor – Key issues
- Provide parents with both a five-day in person school option as well as five-day cyber option.
- Proponent of removing mask requirements and returning to a traditional full-day
- Supports fiscal responsibility. Wants to reduce the $8 million dollar overage we saw over the last two years.
- While Ada has not come out for or against PA Bill 972, she is in favor of not allowing trans students to participate in women’s sports.
- Believes the 1619 Project is “fictionalized” curriculum and calls for its exclusion.
- Wants to protect teachers salaries, rights and pensions.
Ada is a mother with two kids in the district. You can see her full profile here.
As a friend recently pointed out, since candidates can register as both Republican and Democrat you can’t rely on party as a fall back, you need to actually research the candidates.
This won’t hurt one bit. This week Chester County, along with the rest of the country, paused administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine out of what can only be called an abundance of caution that the vaccine could cause blood clots in women ages 18-48. According to Gateway Internal Medicine of West Chester, to date there have been six cases of blood clots documented in the U.S. out of the 6.8 million vaccines documented. However slight the risk, if you develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within 3 weeks of receiving the vaccine, contact your doctor immediately and make sure to let them know you received the J&J vaccine.
The behind the wheel is no place to sleep it off. West Chester police were called to the corner of S. Church and Dean streets last week after a woman was found slumped over the steering wheel of her car at 6:35 p.m.. The woman was awoken by a passerby and proceeded to drive her vehicle into a tree. Fortunately no one was hurt and the woman, Brittany Kennedy of West Chester, was arrested and charged with DUI among other things.
This is a test. This is only a test. If you heard an ear-splitting tone emitting through the air (and all of your devices) yesterday, no need to panic. That was just West Chester University testing its emergency notification system. The University conducts tests of its system quarterly.
Congratulations to everyone over 16 – you can now get a vaccine in Chester County! And better yet, they even have vaccines to administer. If you have yet to get your vaccine, you’ll first need to register with the Chester County Health Department. If you have already registered, login now to schedule your appointment. Both Pfizer and Moderna options are available.
Also a round of applause to the 2021 Spellman Humanitarian Award winners. Each year, the West Chester Area District and the West Chester Area Education Association award ten deserving seniors from each high school with the Spellman Humanitarian Award. The award honors former West Chester School Board President Elwood Spellman and is given to WCASD seniors who exhibit the spirit of volunteerism and citizenship that was a centerpiece in Dr. Spellman’s life.
Here are your winners:
From East High School – Rohen Arya, Joshua Cuozzo Jr, Matthew Dakin, Claudia Frankfurth, Elizabeth Guan, Hannah Guan, Sreekar Kunaparaju, Anna McNaull, Fatema Mun, Alice Tran
From Henderson High School -Samuel Bender, Robert Colson, Sakina Farooq, Gabrielle Fernandes, Althea Hutchinson, Archana Kulkarni, Abheya Nair, Catharine Startup, Alicia Tai, Santiago Ventura
From Rustin High School – Samuel Bender, Robert Colson, Sakina Farooq, Gabrielle Fernandes, Althea Hutchinson, Archana Kulkarni, Abheya Nair, Catharine Startup, Alicia Tai, Santiago Ventura
Congratulations to all students selected. What admirable qualities to exhibit at such a young age!
And speaking of local success stories, high fives to Rustin senior Karisma Jaini on becoming a published author! Her moving essay, “To You, Women, I am Eternally Grateful” is included in A Teenagers Guide To Feminism available on Amazon, and also, cheers to Henderson alumni Chas McCormick who has landed a spot on the Houston Astros 2021 roster.
Say goodbye to blanks walls. That’s right the West Chester Borough Public Arts Commission in conjunction with the Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children is hoping to paint another empty wall in the Borough. After the success of the Vote mural created for Chester County Fund for Women and Girls last fall, they are on the hunt for another mural idea. This time they are proposing and ode to social justice particularly how it relates to housing equity. If approved, this commission would serve to help commemorate the Friends Association upcoming 200th year anniversary.
Also say farewell to waiting on your books to be returned. Thanks to new information from the CDC on how COVID can and cannot be transmitted, the West Chester Public Library is waving its quarantine period for returns. Give them a few days to catch, then once again expect prompt updates to your account.
Finally, officially, say goodbye to the April 15 tax deadline. After dragging their decision down to the very last second, on Wednesday, Keystone Collections announced deadlines for local taxes would be extended to May 17 to match federal and state deadlines.
“We’re are excited to join the vibrant downtown West Chester scene.”Dave Trout, owner Sedona Taphouse
Say hello to Sedona Taphouse. After months of anticipation, West Chester’s new upscale steakhouse experience opens on Monday. Expect hand cut steaks, seafood and hundreds of craft beers, fine wines and plenty of room to spread out. At 5,350 square feet, this will have to be one of the Borough’s larger establishments.
All proceeds from Monday’s launch will be donated to the HEADstrong Foundation in support of the Charlotte Grace Fund, which provides financial assistance to families of children that are battling pediatric cancers. So you can try something new and check off your good deed for the day in one foul swoop. Just get there early. Dining is first-come, first-serve for the time being.
Also, say hola to a new taco option. El Limon opened this week on the corner of Wayne and Market with a live D.J. and complimentary margaritas. El Limon is a chain of Mexican taquerias started a little over ten years ago by two business partners from Buena Vista, Michoacan, Mexico. This corner has had trouble keeping a tenant so I am hoping the draw of an established name, and maybe some late night eats from a couple of new breweries, will help this one succeed where others have failed? If not, complimentary margaritas can’t hurt.
And that’s not it. By my count there are six new restaurants reportedly coming to West Chester. Same as yours? See them all here.
Also, a nice to meet you to the new West Chester Police Department Diversity Task which held its first public meeting last week. The task force, which is made up of seven people including the representatives from the Mayor’s office, the police department, borough council and three residents, has been formed to help to attract a diverse pool of candidates for PD open positions. Despite long being a stated goal, during the last recruitment period which resulted in the hiring of four new officers, the hiring board reported receiving no qualified minority candidates.
Pay it forward.
Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere. That’s right, it is that time of year again. Spring clean up time and there are several opportunities over the next couple weeks for you to get out and help clean up the Borough.
Everhart Park Cleanup, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Everhart park cleanup organized by the Friends of Everhart Park is scheduled for this Saturday. Bring your mask and gardening gloves. Raking, weeding, gutter cleaning and trash up among the to dos.
Goose Creek Invasive Species Cleanup, April 17, 9 a.m. The West Chester Tree Team along with the West Chester Green Team is hosting a cleanup of sorts on the banks of Goose Creek this Saturday. The groups are combining to remove invasive species along the stream bank. Then in the fall they will reseed with native plants helping to bring back local pollinators to the region. Volunteers should plan to meet at Greenfield Park at 9 a.m. To join the fun, email WCTreeTeam@gmail.com.
West Chester Community Cleanup, April 24 and April 25. West Chester is looking for volunteers for a Borough wide clean up. Each individual or single household team will claim a 2-3 block clean up perimeter. If you live in the Borough a clean up kit will be delivered to your home with everything you need to make your blocks sparkle. (If you live outside the Borough, you can pick up your kit at Borough Hall.) Register here if you are interested in participating, but hurry, 119 blocks have already been claimed.
Also, if you participated in the Melton Center Night for CommUnity last weekend, give yourself a nice pat on the back. You helped raise $18,000 to support programs, events and community outreach initiatives to West Chester’s east end community! Weren’t able to make it? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to get involved.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We are going to try to head over to Everhart to help clean up the park before tackling some yard clean up of our own. Then, and I am very excited about this, we are going to head over to Sedona Taphouse for their Friends & Family pre-launch dining event. Oh, the benefits of a blogger.
Also this weekend. Patios are open!
And think you’ve seen it all this pandemic – well, how about a virtual chat between West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino and the Fonz? That’s right, this Saturday gather the family around the Zoom feed for an intimate conversation with Henry Winkler. Tickets are required for this event. Proceeds go to the WCU Presidential Scholarship. More details are available here.
And next week move grocery shopping day to Wednesday. That is when West Chester Co-op is opening its doors for its first ever in person shopping experience. Head over to 142 E. Market between 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday to get your first taste of what grocery shopping in downtown West Chester can feel like.
Mark your calendars:
Earth Day Art Stroll and Digital Art Festival, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Healthy Kids Day, West Chester YMCA, East Goshen park, April 24 between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The Borough wide + All Parks Cleanup is scheduled for 4/24 and 4/25
Stay safe. Stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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