Thousands came to downtown West Chester last Friday to witness (and record) the annual tree lighting ceremony.

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, December 10. West Chester finally looks to get some movement on a couple of long delayed projects – fixing the lights and fixing the traffic flow. Plus, vague threats targeting two West Chester schools lead some parents to pull students in a panic, a new borough holiday tradition and the pizza place that has everyone talking. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

Lights, cameras, action.

After more than a year, West Chester is finally ready to fix the street lights.

This week Public Works Director Alberto Vennettilli went to the Borough Council Public Works Committee with some asks. The requests, whose costs total nearly $650,000, will hopefully set some long awaited projects into motion. 

  1. Fix the street lights – Cost: $133,803.67. For over a year, West Chester has been experiencing issues with its street lights flickering, changing intensity and turning on when they are not supposed to, off when they shouldn’t. The cause of the problems was identified as a software issue affecting individual light poles. Earlier this year, the Borough agreed to contract with Verizon on the parts for an intelligent lighting solution. Then, a week and a half ago the Public Works department took possession of the Verizon light nodes and are now looking for approval to pay the workers who will install the parts on the borough’s nearly 1000 street lights. If the budget is approved next week as expected, installation could begin as early as January. The project is expected to take roughly four months to complete. Let there be light.
  2. Revamp the traffic light system – cost $508,839. Another project that has long been on the borough radar is the upgrading of traffic signals and video detection systems at 18 downtown intersections. The project, which is being supported in large part by a grant from PennDot’s Green Light Go, will help correct the timing on the Borough street lights so that hopefully it’s nothing green lights ahead. “We’ve been talking about this for a longtime,” said Councilman Don Braceland. 

Both items left committee with a 3-0 recommendation and will move to the full Council next week for final approval. 

A new holiday tradition

Santa’s elves. Image: Marshall Square Park via Facebook.

Last weekend Friends of Marshall Square Park and West Chester Park and Rec held their first ever Santa in the Park event to line-zagging success. Dozens (and dozens) of kids and dogs patiently waited to share their Christmas secrets with a very convincing Santa under a twinkle-lighted gazebo. There were also vendors with food for sale and hundreds of luminaries lined the paths leading to a very merry atmosphere. The event was free for the most part with admission to Santa, the cost of a box of cereal for the food bank.

While no promises have been made there is already talk of doing it again next year. “Wonderful evening, thank you for doing this for the community,” one resident wrote on Facebook.

The warnings

A bench outside of East High School.

Keep an eye out for each other. A series of disturbing social media threats haunted West Chester schools this week. First an East High School student posted to SnapChat declaring themselves “a legal threat to the school.” Authorities were alerted to the messages on Tuesday evening. 

A screen shot of the message.

“I want to thank the students and parents who sent emails and made phone calls last night and early this morning. Your actions helped us provide a prompt response to the situation,” East principal Stephan Brown wrote in an email that went out to East families Wednesday morning.

The individual was not in school on Wednesday but many students were kept home or left in what was described as a sometimes fraught situation outside the school. 

Also this week, Pierce families were notified of a “safety concern.” After a threatening message was found scrawled on the wall of the girls’ bathroom. Later “concerning” comments were made via social media. Both incidents were investigated by the West Goshen Police Department and the individual was determined not to be a student at the school and no imminent threat existed. However, additional police were onsite at the school on Thursday just in case. After a quiet couple of years, sadly it seems like threats of violence at schools are once again in vogue.     

West Chester police are looking for assistance identifying a New Jersey man wanted in connection with an armed robbery late last month which ended in the resident being left bound and gagged in his apartment. The three suspects stole an estimated $5000 worth of items. Police are now looking to get in contact with one of those suspects Patrick Wells, 21, from Audubon, NJ. Need a visual clue? Check out Mr. Wells snazzy Wanted poster. Then contact the West Chester police at 610-457-5874.  

Also last month Pizza Peddler had a little run in with Food Inspector and it didn’t go in the way of the Peddler. The Wilmington Pike pizza place left the encounter with 9 violations and an out of compliance designation. Violations included leaving prepared food products such as coleslaw and tuna without date markers, a deli slicer with visible food residue and the staff’s personal belongings and refreshments left in the food prep area. Staff also received a long list of eight things to “thoroughly clean and maintain in clean condition with daily, thorough cleaning.” Yikes.

The Accolades.

Now onto another pizza place. A tip of the hat to Pizza West Chester, the new love it or leave it pizza joint on Market Street. Not open for two months, with limited hours and only two options to choose from – although I recently saw something about eggplant?? – and owner Speer Madanat has his first write up in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The article however, is less focused on the pizza (which is already building a devoted fan base:  “If you haven’t tried it.. You are seriously missing out. It’s worth the hype.” “After 15 years of living in WC, finally there is good pizza.”) and more on how to score yourself a slice because while Pizza West Chester may have some of the best pizza around it also has some of the most restrictive and unpredictable hours. Want to try it? Your best bet is to join their 4600 other followers on Instagram where they post daily hours and specials to their stories. Otherwise just walk up and hope for the best because there is no website, no phone and no set hours – although weekday afternoons are a pretty safe bet. And be prepared to wait in line, there is no pre-ordering either. Don’t worry you can kill the time watching the process. “I hand over every pie with eye contact,” Speer told the Inquirer. “I want [the customer] to have this pizza. I worked very hard to get it where it’s at.”

Also, shout out to Chester County Hospital which was recently recognized by Fortune/IBM as one of the nation’s top 50 cardiovascular hospitals. The study looked at 951 U.S. hospitals with cardiovascular service lines and found that if all hospitals performed at the levels of the best, 6,400 lives and an additional $1.4 billion could be saved. It’s a shame Tower Health, (former) owner of Brandywine and Jennersville hospital didn’t take note.   

And finally high fives to West Chester Green Team leaders Margaret Hudgings and Nathanial Smith, the duo were presented this week with keys to the borough for their efforts advancing local sustainability efforts. The award presentation happened in advance of a panel discussion in which local leaders shared their vision for a green future. You can read more about the discussion here.   

“I requested Chester stop texting before my husband becomes jealous.” 

WCASD parent on Facebook

Hello. 

Say hello to Chester, the West Chester Area School District’s chatty new chatbot. The district started rolling out the text service over the last few weeks to all secondary students – sorry, it’s not available at the elementary schools yet. The goal of the service, which operates similarly to Siri or Alexa “is to foster engagement and attendance,” District Communication Manager Molly Schwemier shared in an email.

According to Chester himself, parents can text his number with any school related questions they have – and he can provide that answer in three different languages but don’t worry if Chester can’t answer, help is still on the way. All unanswered texts are reviewed and answered by a human with 24 hours. However, while the end goal may have promise their have been reports of some early glitches related to the eagerness of which Chester has been responding with some parents receiving upwards of 40 texts a day from the chatty bot. “Make it stop!!” one parent wrote on Facebook. IT has been notifying and they are reportedly working on it.  

Also, say hello again to D’ascenzo’s, West Chester’s seasonal gelateria is coming back for its annual holiday re-opening. Stop by between December 16 and 18 for your favorites or sample seasonal flavors such as chocolate peppermint bark, spiked eggnog and peppermint stick. Just note preorders are due by December 12.

Finally, say hello to some celebrity sightings. Spotted around the borough this week were Eagle alumnus Brent Celek and Todd Herremans and celebrity doctor turned PA-Senate candidate Dr. Oz. Let’s just say some sightings are more welcome than others

Goodbye. 

Henderson football finished the season 4 and 7.

Say goodbye to Henderson football head coach John Lunardi. Citing family obligations and a new one on the way, Coach Lundari announced last week he was stepping down after three years in the top spot. He took the position at the start of the 2018 after former coach Stefan Adams resigned mere weeks before the start of the season. 

“John stepped in at a tough time when Stefan left and did a great job for us. He got the program pointed in the right direction and we will miss him,” said Ken McCormick, Henderson Athletic Director.

John and team finished the season, finished the season 4-7 and lost in first round of District 1 5A playoffs to Upper Dublin but sometimes, especially in high school sports, we forget its not always about the Ws. “John Lunardi was one of the good guys in the profession. He was all about the kids,” Daily Local report Pete Digiovanni wrote on Twitter.  

Pay it forward.

Last weekend more than 100 elves of all ages gathered at Pine Street Carpenters in West Chester to assemble bikes for kids in the area. A now annual tradition, the build is the signature event of The 100 Wheel Project. On Saturday alone the volunteers put together more than 100 bikes and wrapped a helmet to go along with each one. The bikes will now be delivered to kids across the region through local partners such as the Friends Association, Family Service of Chester County, the Saint Agnes Day Room among several others. While the build is done for this year, here’s the link to bookmark for next year. 

In the meantime, here’s an easy way to do a little extra good this season. WCU Community Mental Health Services is partnering with the United Way of Chester County on a Holiday Diaper Drive. That’s it – diapers of any size, brand or amount. The only thing they ask is that they not be loose. Collections continuing through December 17.

Drop them off at: 

  • WCU Community Mental Health Services
    Wayne Hall, (125 West Rosedale Avenue) 8th Floor
    *The collection box is located to the right of the check-in desk.
  • WCU Public Safety Peoples Building
    690 South Church Street
    *The collection box is in the lobby of the Campus Parking Services’
  • WCU Alumni & Foundation Center
    202 Carter Drive
    *The collection box is in the lobby.

The freakin’ weekend. 

West Chester Library Door Tour is in full swing. 

What are you up to this weekend? We are having a couple of friends over for a small pre-holiday get together and maybe we’ll check out the Public Library Holiday Door Tour? I love to see the town dressed up for the holidays!

On Saturday West Chester University celebrates its 100th (yes, 1-0-0) annual Holiday Program. This year’s performance will feature a new festival setting of the “Gloria” by San Francisco composer David Conte. Act now! This once in a century opportunity is available for the low, low, price of $12/ticket. 

Also, a fan of West Chester? This is the last weekend to check out the John Suplee show “Paintings of Our West Chester Neighborhood” at the Church Street Gallery. Or how about these cute WC-centric gift ideas from Kaly?

Finally don’t forget to get those orders in for Christmas cinnamon rolls. Yum.

Get the complete list of those events here.

Mark your calendars:

Dec. 10 – Classical guitarist Brad Rau, Taylor’s Music on 116 W. Gay St., 5 p.m. the event is free. 

Dec. 10 – Holidays Around the World, Oscar Lasko YMCA, 6 – 7 p.m. Free, however, registration is required.

Dec. 10 – Trivia Night, West Chester Public Library, 7 p.m. This is virtual event. 

Dec. 10, 11, 12 – West Chester University AIDS Benefit Show, E.O. Bull Center for the Arts, 7:30 p.m. (and 2 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12), Tickets are $12, $10 for WCU students and staff with an ID. 

Dec. 10 – 12 – First Responders and Health Care Heroes weekend, Downtown. Featuring a Touch a Truck event, free hot chocolate and a Holidays Around the World exhibit. In addition 100% of QR code donations will go to local first responders.  

Dec. 10 -12 – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (play), Uptown! Theater, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 adults; $15 kids.

Dec. 11 – West Chester University Annual Holiday Program, 3:00 p.m. Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. Tickets $12. Masks are required of all guests regardless of vaccination status.

Dec. 11 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown West Chester, 3 p.m. 

Dec. 12 – Hot Chocolate Holiday Market, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Melton Center, Selfies with Santa, free hot chocolate, food trucks and of course, crafts. 

Dec. 12 – Touch a Truck!, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. parking lot of Chestnut and Church Streets,

Dec. 12 – Selfies with Santa, 3 – 5 p.m. Align Space, 2 W. Market Street. This is a free event

December 13 – It’s a Wonderful Life, $5 Movie Mondays, Uptown! Theater, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, free popcorn

December 16,18 – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (play), Uptown! Theater, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 adults; $15 kids.

December 17 – A Very Gospel Christmas, Uptown! Theater, 7:30 p.m., tickets $28 advance; $33 at the door

December 18 – Last day of West Chester University fall semester

That’s it. 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: Dec 10, 2021

  1. “Spotted around the borough this week were Eagle alumnus Brent Celek and Todd Herremans and celebrity doctor turned PA-Senate candidate Dr. Oz. Let’s just say some sightings were more welcome than others.”

    I’m confused by this comment. What did you mean?

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