West Chester Weekly News Roundup: Nov. 12, 2021

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, November 12.  Happy Friday. Borough Council discusses changes to bulk trash pickup. Under the proposal large items would cost you, smaller items not so much. Also, a look at COVID numbers in the County as the last demographic braves their vaccination shots, a slew of break ins this week left a multitude of cars damaged and the perfect late fall cocktail. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

COVID Kids

Masks at school will be required as long as transmission rates remain in the moderate to high ranges.

With some potential movement in the stalled vaccination game, cases surging again in Europe and the winter months approaching, I thought it was time to check in on our old friend, coronavirus disease 2019. According to the latest data from the Chester County Health Department, transmissions level in the county have fallen since summer peaks but are still considered substantial. Incident rates in the school district were also falling but ticked back up last week. That said, they remain better than most surrounding districts. 

Chester County Incident rate: 89.72/100,000

West Chester Area School District Incident rate: 74.55/100,000 

The increase in positives in schools seems to be coming out of the often dismissed elementary set. Throughout the pandemic kids ages 0-9 have made up less than 6% of all COVID cases, but over the last month that number jumped to 15% and in the last seven days this group accounted for 85 of the 471 new cases reported in the county. The highest percentage of any age group. 

Vaccines 

Of course until last week this was also the only segment of the population not eligible for vaccines. That has now changed. Vaccine clinics offering shots to kids 5-12 have opened and filled. Two shared by the WCASD were full within days. Pediatricians across the area will also be administering shots although, at least at our office, they are still working to coordinate these efforts. So far reported side effects have been minimal with most parents reporting a sore arm for about a day. 

Although the early rush was to be expected from a group that has long awaited a chance to get back to normal, it will be interesting to see where these numbers net out – 15 to 19 year olds remain one of the lowest vaccinated demographic blocks in the county and only 30% of 10-14 year olds have been vaccinated to date – although to be fair, half of that group just opened up this week.

Mask update: Masks are still required in school. Despite a ruling this week invalidating a mask mandate that ordered all schools in the commonwealth to require face coverings while indoors, West Chester students will remain masked as long as transmission levels are above low. This is according to the Health and Safety plan approved by the school board. 

COVID-19 resources for parents:

“People very much enjoy that first pickup of the month. This is a significant change.” 

Lisa Dorsey, West Chester Borough Council

Bulk trash changes

The West Chester Public Works building. Additional Public Works crews are needed on bulk trash pickup days.

This week the Public Works Committee discussed a proposal that would require residents to pay a $50 fee for the removal of large bulk trash items. While there is no definitive list of items yet, mattresses, dressers and other larger furniture were used as examples during the discussion. 

Public Works Director Alberto Vennettilli proposed the fee to offset some of the charges to the borough that occur as part of these pickups. This includes extra staff to pick up and load the items and dump fees.

“We actually get charged when we take to the dump,” Alberto said about the larger items, $25 for a mattress, for example.   

The issue becomes amplified in May when West Chester University students move out, often leaving unwanted dressers and other furniture on the curb for Public Works to collect. It was proposed that in the future, collection of these items would have to be pre-arranged with the borough and landlords would be responsible for the $50 fee in their tenants’ absence. 

“I do think clearly define what it is,” said Councilwoman Lisa Dorsey. “People very much enjoy that first pickup of the month. This is a significant change.” 

The proposal passed committee 3 – 0 and will go to full Council next week for discussion, where it was promised a list of “large” items would be available.

The warnings

Update: The Police have identified a person of interest in the Monday morning crime spree. The individual is seen above using stolen credit cards to purchase items at a Philadelphia Home Depot. If you have any information about the suspect or the break ins, please contact the West Chester Police Department.

Don’t leave your purse (or wallet) in your car. A slew of cars were reported broken into early Monday morning as well as a home and one vehicle reported stolen in a crazy evening on the west end of town. Note a locked door was not a deterrent with several vehicles reportedly having smashed windows. West Chester Police are asking for any residents in the following locations with security cameras to notify them so they can review the footage.  

  • 50 and 100 blocks of S. Brandywine
  • 50 and 100 blocks of N. Wayne Street
  • 100 blocks of North and South Brandywine Street 
  • 300 block of Hannum Avenue
  • And the 400 blocks of W. Bernard, W. Chestnut, W. Gay, W. Market and W. Miner Streets

They are looking for video capturing the hours between 3:45 a.m. and 6 a.m. If you are able to help contact Detective Corporal O’Neill.

This is test. This is only a test. This morning West Chester University will be conducting a test of the components of the Emergency Alert System. The emergency system helps the University communicate critical information as quickly as possible. If you would like to receive alerts, you can sign up here.    

The Accolades.

Having a “don’t I know her?” moment. Same. In addition to being a talented actress Madeline was quite active while in West Chester. You may have seen her at the YMCA, ACAC, Avante Salon or the Saint-Agnes Choir – or her parents home, who still live here.

A round of applause to former West Chester resident Madeline Raube who is appearing in the Broadway National tour of “Anastasia.” Madeline will be playing “Countess Lily.” A performance in which she’ll get to show audiences her comedic abilities. If you would like to cheer on Madeline in person, the show is making a run through Philly the week of Thanksgiving. 

Also, congratulations to Chester County Hospital. Which recently received an “A” in safety from the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit committed to quality, safety and transparency in healthcare. If you are a regular reader this will come as no surprise to you, Chester County received the same mark last year. What might surprise you is Chester County along with Paoli, are the only hospitals in Chester County to receive an “A”. The other three hospitals received a “C” or below. 

Also high fives to Henderson seniors Ella Tunnell and Sophia Ming who placed fourth in the PIAA 3A Girls’ doubles tennis championships held this last weekend at Hershey’s Chocolate World. That’s one sweet showing, girls. 

And finally, another pat on the back to yourself for settling in such a “charming” place (and getting in before real estate prices skyrocketed). West Chester has earned a spot on another Best Places to Live list.  This one brought to you by Livability. (If you are curious, you can see their scoring criteria here.)  

Hello. 

Say hola, to Sandra Bradley, West Chester Area School District’s new Community Engagement Specialist. Sandra’s primary responsibility will be to engage non-English speaking parents in their child’s education. Prior to being offered the position, Sandra served as the volunteer leader of Padres Latinos del distrito escolar del área de West Chester (Latino Parents of the West Chester Area School District.) A group that gained real traction over the pandemic in some cases drawing over 100 parents to a meeting. “Through the pandemic, we recognized that a portion of our community wasn’t able to access their child’s education as readily as other parents,” said WCASD Director of Pupil Services Leigh Ann Ranieri. Hopefully the creation of a dedicated resources will help better serve the nearly 600 District students in the English as a second language community.

Also, say hello to another West Chester Sustainable Storefront. Charlie & Co. Barbershop has committed to reducing its plastic waste by using recyclable paper bags for retail items. 

Great, but didn’t West Chester ban single-use plastic bags, you wonder? They did. Enforcement of the new ordinance begins January 1 – at which time shops are going to have to try harder if they want that sustainable shoutout. 

Goodbye. 

Mark your calendars. The annual tree lighting will take place on Dec. 3.

One more time, there will be no Christmas parade this year. “Folks have a lot of questions this year because of the lack of parade,” said Kristen Stewart, media relations for the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce.  

Well, don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to see Santa (on firetrucks, at parks, over breakfast…) As well as opportunities to catch carolers, twinkling lights, hot cocoa, gingerbread houses, and just about anything else you can think of that says, the “holidays are here.”  

See the full list of events here

Also, gone way too soon but not forgotten, Rustin graduate Bianca Roberson. Her murder and the subsequent prosecution of the killer was the subject of a new documentary that premiered this week. You can watch the entire heartbreaking story, part of the “See No Evil” series, on the Investigation Discovery channel. 

Pay it forward. 

High fives to Penn Wood Elementary students for collecting (or probably more accurately parting with) 468 lbs of candy. Not an easy ask for a six year old! All that candy will be donated to the Troops including a Penn Wood Elementary parent that was recently deployed. Thank you kids and thank you sir, for your service. 

As we get ready for holiday festivities, don’t forget holiday giving. The West Chester Police Department is once again collecting Toys for Tots. There will be a box in the main lobby of the police station. All new, unwrapped toys, welcome. 

And finally, in honor of daylight saving time, I suggest we take a minute to remember a time when the sun does shine and look at what we can do with that sunshine. Chester County Clean Energy Tour is a virtual tour of clean energy destinations across the country including several stops in Chester County and two specifically in West Chester. Each stop is approximately three minutes long. If you are interested learning something new about energy start right here at home with the Chestnut Street Garage Solar Canopy and West Chester University’s Geoexchange System.

The freakin’ weekend. 

Prepare yourself WCU, the unicorn is coming back.

What are you up to this weekend? We will be heading over to West Chester University’s Hollinger Fieldhouse to cheer on Lady Ram’s and our cousin who’s in town for a basketball tournament at the University. So excited to see an in person college basketball game again!

Also, tonight Uptown is hosting a Best of Fest event, where they are replaying 11 of the best entries of this year’s West Chester Film Festival. Check out a mix of comedies, dramas, documentary, animation, even experimental. Perfect if you are in an indecisive mood.

Also, Bar Avalon’s new Buffalo Trace Mules, look like the kind of thing you want in your hand while you’re check out Christmas lights, too bad they killed that cocktail-to-go law, Love Again Local has their own take on the turkey stuffed sandwich – and how adorable are these hair bows?

Mark your calendars:

Nov. 12-13 – Clue on Stage, East High School, 7 p.m. There is also a matinee performance at 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

Nov. 12 – Best of the Fest from the West Chester Film Festival, Uptown! 7 p.m., Tickets $15

Nov. 13 – New music alert! The Flying Komorowski Brothers, Uptown! Theater, 7:30 p.m. A band with a little something for everyone. Tickets $30; $35 at the door. 

Nov. 13 – Elks Art & Antique Show, Elks Lodge, 401 W. Washington Street, Open to members and nonmembers. Tables available for artisans and merchants. Contact the Elks for details. 

Nov. 14 – 2021 Fall Wedding Showcase, Chester County History Center, 1-4 p.m., Admission $5. 

Nov. 15 – Last Black Man in San Francisco, Uptown Theater, 7 p.m., tickets are $5, popcorn is on the house.

Nov. 20 – Max Weinburg’s Jukebox, Uptown Theater, 8 p.m.; tickets are $59.50. Uber fans can upgrade to add in a meet and greet with Max and a personal signing session. 

Nov. 27 – Small Business Saturday, Downtown, free metered parking

Nov. 27 – Shave Off for Charity, The Shop on Market Street, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cheer on as West Chester PD goes back to their clean cut ways. Food, drinks and fun for the whole family. 

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

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