West Chester Weekly News Roundup

Tulips on Walnut Street.

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

It’s Friday, May 7. Seriously, people, we have to slow down. I just can’t keep up. This week the latest updates on the Gay Street closure – like realistically when we can expect things to shut down, a look at Ada Nestor, the controversial local candidate for school board – and some pretty disturbing health department violations for a local restaurant. Plus, a big announcement from QVC and West Chester gets into the coffee roasting business. Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers. Still need a gift some ideas below. Let’s get started.

So, What’s Up with Gay Street? 

Gay Street on a recent Saturday morning. May 1 has passed. So, when will Gay Street be closing to through traffic?

With COVID still in the air and last year’s open air market a success, West Chester was hoping to once a again close Gay Street to through traffic through the spring and summer months. According to paperwork the Borough submitted to PennDot ,the ask was to close Gay Street to traffic from May 1 through August 31. Similar to last year, the closure will run from Matlack to Darlington Streets and traffic will be detoured down Chestnut Street.  

However, that initially planned May 1 date has come and passed, and Gay Street is still open. So you wonder, what is happening? Well, people, what’s happening is PennDot and PECO — a dangerous combination if you are hoping to get something up and running at a specific time. 

The Borough is still waiting on approval of its application from the state and it’s also waiting on PECO to finish up work it began in March. PECO has been working its way up Gay Street for several weeks now as part of a project to replace 1.3 miles of underground cable and conduit to improve the local electric distribution in the area. The work, which was originally thought to last for three weeks, is still not complete.

“They are making progress,” says downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director John O’Brian, “and I am hopeful that they are going to be wrapping up the Gay Street portion of the project by early June.”

Without word from the state we can’t know for sure, but for now it looks like early June is our best case scenario for the Gay Street open air market to return. 

Who is Ada Nestor? 

After a tumultuous and stressful year of in-and-out instruction, tensions are high in the race for the open West Chester Area School Board seats. Unfortunately for us, one candidate in particular’s past history is distracting from the bigger picture of how to best educate our children. Ada Nestor, a candidate for a seat on the board in Region 1 (that’s our Region), running on a platform or returning children to school fulltime has already dealt with a slew accusations including storming the Capital as part of the insurrection to being a supporter of Qanon conspiracies. Now, new revelations are being shared from a new local group calling themselves Concerned WCASD Constituents has us begging the question, who is Ada Nestor?

For weeks rumors and accusations have been swirling around Ms. Nestor then this week the newly formed Concerned WCASD Constituents brought them forward issuing a press release arguing the potential school board member is the author of AnonymousAda a Twitter handle associated with a series of extremists posts including tweeting support for #SaveTheChildren, a reference to the unfounded child sex trafficking ring allegedly tied to Hollywood elite, and suggesting the Black Live Movement has satanic ties as well as a variety of other bizarre accusations.

The group which describes itself as “a non-partisan group of WCASD constituents concerned about the threat of QAnon extremism in local elections,” currently has 435 members on Facebook and the number is growing as rumors swirl.

Ms. Nestor, on the other hand, has been publicly endorsed by the West Chester Borough Republican Committee, the West Goshen Township Republican Committee, and the Keeping Kids in School PAC. She is pro-return to in person instruction, supports lifting mask requirements in schools. She supports protecting teacher’s salaries and pensions and keeping transgender athletes from participating in women’s sports. She does not support the New York Time’s 1619 Project and its attempt to reframe history by reexploring the impacts and contributions of slavery, calling it “fictionalized,” but it’s been her non-education viewpoints she’s been answering for lately.  

In a new article she has penned for Broad + Liberty, Philadelphia-based nonprofit media enterprise and public policy think tank, Ada explains that she was in Washington on the day of the insurrection but not near the Capital and did not participate in riots. She has also taken to her campaign website in a post titled “Setting the Record Straight” to officially deny ownership of her alleged Twitter alter ego.

“The Twitter handle in question is not a privately used page, and it is not my personal page. I do not own the page,” she wrote in the post. She also states for the record she is not a member of Qanon and encourages voters to reach out to her directly if they have questions about any of it.

“I do not think that either my or my opponent’s personal opinions on national politics have a place in the school system,” she states in her Broad + Liberty article. 

I suppose whether or not that is true, will ultimately be the decision of the voters.

Dine at Your Own Risk 

During a year of pandemic measures and fixation on health, it seemed there was no need to put local restaurants under additional scrutiny by publishing Chester County restaurant inspection reports. Now with restrictions lessening I thought it was time we start taking another look. Last month saw three West Chester establishments out of compliance with the PA Department of Agriculture (the agency in charge of food safety), but one in particular, is concerning. 

Saucey’s Pizza led the way with 10 violations which ran the gamut from food storage concerns to site cleanliness to employee safety. 

Violations included: 

  • Potentially hazardous ready-to-eat food held for more than 24 hours without proper refrigeration.
  • Potentially hazardous foods – including ricotta cheese and chicken were found stored at unsafe temperatures. The cheese was found on the prep table at 70 degrees and while meats were in a refrigerator with an internal temperature of 53 degrees – 41 degrees or less is considered safe.
  • A large spill on the basement floor from either the grease trap or sewer line had not been cleaned up. (Particularly concerning since there is a prep area in the basement.) 
  • Temperature inside the restaurant was 99 degrees on the day of the inspection. 

There was also a fairly significant list of cleaning requests. This is not the first time Saucey’s has been in trouble with the Health Department. The pizza spot has been out of compliance in three of its last four reports, including in March, with many of the same concerns noted in this report. Until things are cleaned up, I would dine at your own risk.  

Also, at out of compliance Primo Hoagies on West Chester Pike with 9 state health violations and Rai Rai Ramen at 124 E. Market Street with four.

The warnings. 

Yes, they saw you. West Chester police are seeking help identifying the suspect in a hit and run that took place Saturday evening on 50 block of Price Street. The suspect is described as a white female and she was driving a black Hyundai. If you have any information about this incident please contact officer Ferriola at 610-696-2700.

Look both ways before you cross the street. As the weather gets warmer and more people head outside, the West Chester PD would like to remind residents big and small to mind traffic signs, pay attention to your surroundings and never chase a ball into the road. Sage advice, especially with Ms. Hyundai above on the roads. 

Keep a foot and an eye on those mats. A Wollerton Street resident recently reported an individual stealing their doormat and attempting to take that of their neighbors as well. The West Chester Police have been notified of the theft but note, this individual is likely still at large.  

Now is the time to take care of those lantern flies. If we stop them now, perhaps we won’t have to resort to taping our trees later? 

And while we’re out there let’s just take care of all of our trees. Seriously, who harms a tree?

Accolades.

“Congratulations – from the lunch lady Michele.”

Michele Minnitti, on the WCASD Facebook page

You know you’ve done something special when you catch the attention of the whole school. Congratulations to the West Chester East High School Boys Hockey team which capped an undefeated season off last month by winning the state championship! This is not the first state championship for the Vikings. They also won in 2013 and 2008. 

“I could name every player as having contributed to our victory today. It was a 20-man effort,” East head coach Eric Wolf said after the win.  

Staying in the realm of sports for a minute, also a shout out to the West Chester University Women’s Lacrosse team which also finished its season undefeated. The fourth-ranked Lady Rams now have their eyes on a National Championship. They entered the PSAC Tournament as the top seed and won their first match against East Stroudsburg this week. 

Also, high fives to Morgan Jackson. The Henderson Freshman recently won the People’s Choice Award in the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County’s annual art contest for her timely piece titled “Equality.” 

Finally congratulations to East on taking the local lead in the high school ranking game. This year’s U.S. News and World Report ranking of the top 50 high schools in Pennsylvania is out and two of West Chester’s three high schools made the list this year. According to the publishers which look at six criteria across high schools including college readiness, underserved student performance and graduation rates, East ranked 36 in the state and Rustin, 50. Henderson landed just out of the top 50 at 59.

Last year East placed 54 so a nice jump up for them.  Rustin on the other hand dropped some positions after ranking 24 in the state last year.   

Goodbye.

To in person classes the week before prom.  Last week Henderson Principal Jason Sherlock sent a letter to upper classman letting them know they could opt out of in-person instruction for the week prior to the Junior and Senior proms. By learning remotely, students could limit exposure and potentially avoid being forced to quarantine through the big dance. It’s still baby steps back to normal.

To Karen Cavin, owner of The 5 Senses. While Karen is stepping down after 16 years she will be leaving the artisan boutique in good hands that of her partner of the last three years, Michelle Guida. “I plan to continue the store’s tradition of being a showplace for local and North American functional art,” Michelle told the Patch.

Finally say farewell, to QVC’s Founder’s Park. The Philadelphia Business Journal is reporting the tv-retailer is selling their inaugural building to the tune of $17.5 million. The company will adopt a more generous work-from-home policy and squeeze remaining operations into the Studio Park building.

Hello. 

To a freshly brewed and roasted cup of coffee. While, QVC seems to be shrinking operations, Lavazza North America is growing theirs. It was announced this week the Italian coffee company will be expanding it’s North American operations with a new roasting and packing plant. It’s first such plant in U.S. The new operations will be added to the existing facility on Wilson Drive in West Chester.  

A warm welcome to DBP Studio, home of Daniella Bella Photography. Daniella specializes in family and newborn photography in studio and out – now isn’t this the cutest? Stop by 31 W. Miner Street this Friday to introduce yourself and check out all the amazing (adorable images).  

Also, say hello to a new living option. Luxor Lifestyle apartments has opened on 956 S. Matlack Street down past the FedEx Shipping center. These luxury apartments promise plenty of amenities such as a pool, dog park, yoga studio and fitness center. 

And those parents still scrambling for summer camp options, say, thank you, as West Chester University summer camps have returned. Choose from a variety of programs from music and art camp to theater, iCamp academy and a variety of sports camps.

And finally say, “hello again” to the Jack Lowe Memorial Fountain which is back up and running at Marshall Square Park after a winter break. As you’ll recall the fountain spent much of the year out of commission after a branch fell on it during a spring storm. 

Pay it forward. 

Here’s to a nice idea. After a year of no place to go, it’s a hard shift back to all dressed up, especially if the pandemic has left your family short of cash. So this year Henderson counseling and library departments teamed up to make sure little worn Prom and Homecoming dresses got a second life. Staff displayed the donated dresses in a make-shift retail environment and made them available to students in need. 

All the single moms – this one’s for you. Just in time for Mother’s Day, Benchmark Federal Credit Union is back with its 9th annual Chester County Single Mothers’ Conference. The months long event kicks off today with a online happy hour and continues with a variety of workshops tailored to the single parent experience. The event is free but registration is required.

Looking for a good deed to do? Want something with a little bit of a commitment? All three West Chester Fire Departments are currently looking for volunteers at positions from active Firefighter to fundraising. To apply you must be 14 years of age but no prior experience is necessary and the respective fire companies will take care of 100 percent of the training. Sound like it could be for you? You can sign up here.

Want to do something nice but no time for commitment? Then it’s time to roll up those sleeves. The Red Cross is looking to shore up blood supplies with a series of blood drives scheduled over the two and half weeks – and they are all right here in the old DubC.  

The freakin’ weekend. 

Swing by the West Chester Grower’s Market to get a lovely spring bouquet for Mom. Photo: @wcgrowersmarket on Instagram.

What are you up to this weekend? So, we signed up for a last minute family mini-photo session in Everhart Park and I am panicking a little. After a year of nowhere to go I am going to have to try to find a way to make the entire family presentable by tomorrow morning. We may have to go with an athleisure theme. Do Nike sweats without holes pass for dress?  

Also don’t forget: First Friday is back tonight. Stop in and see your favorite retailers many of which will have extended hours tonight and Mother’s Day specials, and yes, the weather doesn’t look great but there is free street parking after 5 p.m.

The Chester County History Center is hosting a “sweet” walking tour on Saturday. It starts at the CCHC with a demonstration on how chocolate is made and includes stops (and tastings) at Eclat and Gemelli. Tickets are $25 and, last I checked, they were still available for the 11 a.m. slot. 

And the West Chester Grower’s Market is back on a weekly basis. Stop by this weekend and pick up flowers for mom. (Seriously. I’ve seen a picture and they are gorgeous.)

Also, speaking of mom, I wouldn’t mind if some of these showed up on a tray on Sunday morning… 

Mark your calendars:

May 7 – First Friday, Downtown West Chester, street parking free after 5 p.m.

May 9 – Mom, this runs for you, Rustin High School, 9 a.m.

May 15 – Chester County Studio Tours, a 2-day event to highlight Chester County artists. 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

May 12 – Lost Mansions of the Main Line, Chester County History, 7 p.m. via Zoom. Event is pay what you want and you can register here

May 20 – Illuminating Bayard x West Chester, free panel discussion of the civil rights leader, Charles A. Melton Arts & Education Center, 8 p.m. 

May 26 – Meeting to discuss changes to the Zoning Code. If you have concerns, this would be the time to speak up. Meeting is 7 p.m via Zoom.

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

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

2 thoughts on “West Chester Weekly News Roundup

  1. So this may be a dumb question but here it is nonetheless – I recently moved to the area and live just south of Exton in what I understand is West Whiteland Township. Yet our mailing address is for West Chester. Interested in the discussion of voting but not clear whether I would be eligible to participate? Moved from New York City so still not entirely clear on townships versus towns…

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    1. Hi Barry, it is totally confusing. I actually just learned I left off a judgeship that at least a portion of West Chester residents will be asked to vote in. Of the races I have been focusing on you probably wouldn’t vote in any. Most only concern West Chester Borough residents and you are most likely in Region 2 for School Board, which includes West Whiteland township. Here is a somewhat confusing map from the district breaking out the various regions. https://www.wcasd.net/cms/lib/PA02203541/Centricity/Domain/2093/WCASD_Voting_Regions_by_Township_IDb.pdf

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