West Chester Weekly News Roundup

Sunday mornings. Mark your calendar Gay Street reopens September 24.

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, September 10. Welcome to a week of hyperbole – “worst,” “best,” “historic.” West Chester rescue crews recap harrowing tales from last Wednesday’s storm which flooded downtown, huge announcement on the planned 317-home Crebilly Farm development planned for the south end of town. Plus, events are back – including a very special run this weekend you are not going to want to miss. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

One harrowing night

“I’ve been a member of Good Fellowship since 1994 and I can tell you Wednesday night I was actually scared. Probably the first time in my career.”

Good Fellowship Executive Director Kim Holman
West Chester Fire Department leading a water rescue during last week’s storm. Photo credit: WCFD

There’s no denying that last week’s storm brought a lot of rain but unless you were on the front lines I think we might have missed just how dire it was at times, even in this area. In this week’s Public Safety Meeting we got a first hand look into the heroics that were seen that night. 

“I’ve been a member of Good Fellowship since 1994 and I can tell you Wednesday night I was actually scared. Probably the first time in my career,” Good Fellowship Executive Director Kim Holman told the committee. She was driving an ambulance on the night of the storm. “I can’t stress enough how crazy and heroic the things we do are.”

She shared stories of daring water rescues, fast acting leaders, and sympathetic police officers who waited with rescued individuals as they tried to figure out just how to get home via impassable roads. At one point they lost a trooper for 30 minutes after his car became submerged in a flash flood. They finally located the sunken car and make the rescue.

“Hearing some of the stories, it was nothing short of a miracle we didn’t have any injuries,” said Chief James Moorehead. “It was a good day for emergency services in the West Chester area.” 

Friday night lights on 

America’s most loved sport is also the sport that causes the most injuries in children and teens ages 12 to 17.

Last year the Henderson Booster club set a goal. Replace the football team’s helmets with a safer model by the 2023 season. While both the current Riddle Speed and the new Riddle Speedflex helmets receive a five star rating in independent performance reviews conducted by Virginia Tech, one clearly scores higher.   

“To me it’s the most important piece of equipment the kids wear,” said Booster President Rob Schellhammer, who is helping spearhead this initiative. 

Thanks to the hard work of the Henderson community – school, parents, Booster Club and students – all members of the varsity squad started the season in the new high-performance helmets. Of course, the mission won’t be completed until all players are in the new helmets.

“We want to support the players on and off the field, but our priority is to provide the safest equipment they can be in,” said Rob. 

A quick look at the numbers behind the helmet upgrade project: 

  • 100: total number of helmets that need to be replaced.
  • $300: Cost difference between the current and new helmets 
  • 5: number of stars both helmets receive on the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings
  • 12: the place of the new Riddell SpeedFlex on the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings; the current helmet, the Riddell Speed comes in at no. 20. 
  • 50+: the number of helmets replaced to date. 

If you would like to help, the Booster Club is accepting donations through their webpage. If you would like to see the helmets in action, the Warriors take on crosstown rival Rustin at Rustin on tonight in what should to be an exiting game. 

Praise for the status quo

A row home in West Chester’s historic district.

When it comes to buildings and architectural design, newer is not always better. This fall the West Chester Downtown Foundation will hold its tenth Annual Preservation Awards where it celebrates those in town working to “preserve West Chester’s historic character.” 

This year the celebration will take place on October 21 at the Chester County History Center. There will be two categories of projects recognized – one celebrating those persevering the past through new construction and one celebrating those preserving the past by, well, preserving the past. 

“On October 21, for the tenth time, the West Chester Downtown Foundation will recognize the efforts of dedicated stewards who appreciate the architectural gift we have been given while supporting local organizations that serve people in need,” said Allen Burke, Chair of the West Chester Architectural Awards Committee. 

“Each time we learn from these passionate people why West Chester Borough is so beloved.”

If you would like a first hand look at these amazing preservation projects, grab your tickets now

The warnings

Don’t waste that water. As the region continues to recover from last week’s storms Aqua is encouraging customers to save water. The warning goes beyond avoiding watering the lawn to also include shorter showers, fuller loads of laundry and turning off the water while brushing your teeth. If you aren’t already getting the 400 messages from Aqua on this topic, you can sign up for them here

Secure your belongings, rough waters ahead. Last week the West Chester Police Department found an HP Laptop and printer on Downingtown Pike in East Bradford Township. They believe the items were lost in last week’s storm. If you are missing some hardware, stop by the Borough Police Department with proof of ID to claim. 

Take care of each other. This week Good Fellowship Ambulance reported calls involving drug and alcohol rose 20 percent last month. If you know of someone struggling with a drug or alcohol problem you can call 1-800-662-4357 or there is a substance support group that meets regularly in Everhart Park that might be able to help you out.  

The Accolades.

West Chester University is not only among the state’s most affordable colleges, it’s among its most successful.

Congratulations to West Chester University which secured some serious praise in the Philadelphia Inquirer this week when it proclaimed it, “the state system’s best.” 

The university was applauded for its quality, its success and its value. WCU is the least expensive university of the 14 in the PA State System of Higher Education. It is also the largest, continuing to gain enrollment, where the others have lost – 22% on average. It also leads in student performance.

While we are showering WCU with praise here is some more, high-fives to West Chester University sophomore Sarah Supplee who last week shattered the course record at the Wilmington Cross Country Invitational. Her victory helped the team secure the invitational win.  

Also, best of luck to the West Chester University men’s soccer program which was picked by Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) coaches to win the Eastern Division this year. The Golden Rams opened their season this week with a tie after taking No. 13 Wilmington University to double overtime. The original season opener, scheduled for September 2, was postponed due to Ida hammering the region. Your next chance to watch them play will be Wednesday, September 15 at Rockwell Field against East Stroudsburg. 

Finally a shout out to the West Chester Music Academy which is celebrating its third year instilling kids with a love of music. What started as a one-room and two-student operation has since grown to eight-rooms, 18 teachers and more than 250 students. I feel like I should include some dramatic music here but unfortunately, I am only good in the written arts. Congratulations and thank you for all you add to the community!  

Hello. 

Heavily manicured lawns are losing fashion in favor of the low-maintenance, high-biodiversity of a more natural landscape.

Say hi, to an environmentally friendly, low-maintenance lawn. Curious on how to get that natural “lazy lawn” for yourself? Bestselling author and entomologist Doug Tallamy will be in town next week to share his secrets on how to regenerate backyard biodiversity through native plantings in a free public lecture. The event is scheduled for Monday Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. at Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall.  Registration is required and space is limited. So if you’re interested, I’d sign up today

Also say hello, to a new exhibit at the Antique Ice Tool Museum. West Chester’s unique contribution to culture and history is getting a new railcar to add to its collection. The 40-ton, ice-refrigerated Pacific Fruit Express railcar would have used ice blocks, rather than carbon dioxide like today’s cars, to transport perishables across the country. 

Want to see for yourself? Head over to the museum on Saturday morning – 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. – for your guided tour. 

“Take today to celebrate.” 

PA State Rep. Dianne Herrin

Goodbye.

In huge news that came out this week, you can wave bye-bye to the proposed Toll Brothers development at Crebilly Farm. After years of back and forth, the Westtown Township board voted to deny the application on grounds of lack of standing, since there is no longer an agreement of sale between the developer and the current owner. The development plan which called for 317 new homes to be built on the 320-acre property would have set off a domino effect of service implications. Not the least of, new schools and another redistricting plan for the West Chester Area School District. Plus, are there not already two separate Toll Brothers projects being constructed at this moment in the West Chester-area to choose from? 

Pay it forward. 

Looking for the easiest possible way to make a difference? West Chester’s Business Improvement District has some suggestions. 

  1. Take part in their social media competition. Go to a downtown West Chester store or restaurant. While you’re there, take a picture of yourself downtown, then post that picture to social media, tag the business and @downtownwestchester and add #WCsmallbizContest. All done. You get a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card, your favorite businesses get the love.
  2. Nominate your favorite business for a Daily Local Readers’ Choice Best of Chester County. The form is simple and there are dozens of categories to weigh in on. Just do it this weekend, the ballot closes Sunday at 5 p.m.  

Speaking of showing your support, do you subscribe to the Daily Local? Sure, I have some concerns with the coverage and what exactly is going on with the website lately? At the same time I can’t imagine having no paper in town. They are currently running a Labor Day special for $24/year of unlimited digital access – even if you only find one or two articles a week of interest, that is still a great deal.

The freakin’ weekend. 

A surprise babysitter meant a chance to check out Artillery Brewing. I recommend the The Volley. My husband liked the cake stout.

What are you up to this weekend? In a sure sign fall is here, soccer starts to tomorrow. So we will be spending our morning on the fields then we might head out to Kennett Square to check out this year’s scaled back Mushroom Festival.

Staying around town? Artillery Brewing is introducing its Cannonball Run just in time for the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. The race is a 5K run/1 mile in support of the Wounded Warrior Project. Run time is at 4 p.m. so you’ll finish just in time for happy hour.

Ms. Malena is holding a big showroom sale this weekend. Bonus: bring a gift card to be donated to victims of Hurricane Ida and you’ll be entered to win $100 in store credit.

Its almost sweater weather.  

And Uptown’s big reopening bash happens tonight!

Mark your calendars:

Sept. 10 – Uptown’s Grand Reopening with the Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $42-$49 (plus $3 service fee)

Sept. 12 – Free Barre Class, Outside Tish on Gay Street, 10 -10:45. Call 484-473-8144 to reserve your spot. Free outdoor workout plus, all attendees get 20% off Tish after the class. 

Sept 13 – West Chester Green Team, along with West Chester University’s Sustainability office, have invited Doug Tallamy, New York Times bestselling author and foremost authority of the lawn to native species movement to speak at WCU on Monday, Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. 

Sept. 16- Book Discussion – A Woman of No Importance, Chester County History Center, 10 a.m. 

Sept. 16 – West Chester Co-op Wine Tasting and Art Auction, Galer Estate Winery, 6 – 9 p.m. Tickets are $75/non-member; $65/members and all proceeds go to a fabulous cause.

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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