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It’s Friday, March 4. On January 26 a deadline passed for the state’s municipalities to sign on to receive funds from the $1 billion opioid settlement. 241 municipalities were on the list, but West Chester was not one of them. Why the borough decided to wait and what the delay will cost. Plus, the area’s most influential people, 5 local restaurants out-of-compliance with the Health Inspector and a borough fixture for the last 89 years is shutting its doors. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
The end of an era
I read a story that the first Jane Chalfant sat on the steps of the First National Bank until she secured a loan for her store. That would have been in 1933. Since then the women’s clothing store bearing her name has occupied the storefront of 123 N. High Street. Now that store is closing.
The store features a unique selection of, as they describe them, “new classics, wearable fashions and contemporary fun clothing.” As well as perks of earlier days like validated parking, non-commission sales associates and expert alterations. Current owners Patrick and Kiki Comerford who have run the store since the 1990s, have decided it is time to retire. The sale of the building that houses the West Chester staple with its signature bold red detailing only served to secure the decision.
“It is so sad,” an associate who has worked at the store for the past 30 years told me . If you are out tonight for First Friday, stop in take one last look around, (snag a deal or two) and wish them the best of luck.
I am waiting on a call back from the store’s owners and will update this story as I have more details.
Settling on settling on the opioid settlement
This summer Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, along with 46 states and Washington D.C., announced a $26 billion opioid agreement with the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors – Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – and Johnson & Johnson over the companies’ role in creating and fueling the opioid crisis. PA counties then had until January 26, to sign on to receive a portion of the $1.07 billion earmarked for Pennsylvania.
At the passing of the deadline, AG Shapiro’s office issued a statement saying all 67 counties and 241 local governments with a population of 10,000 or more, had joined the historic settlement. West Chester however, was not one of them – at least not at that time.
Borough Council has since decided to join the settlement by a vote of 5 to 2 at last month’s Borough Council meeting. So why didn’t the borough just go along with the rest of the state and signal their willingness to participate by the deadline?
I reached out to Borough Council President Michael Stefano for some background on the situation. He explained that Council had learned about the settlement late in 2021 but decided to wait until its new members were seated at the beginning of the year before taking a formal vote. The only public hearing Borough Council held in January was a Reorganization meeting held on January 3. During this meeting new members were sworn in, officers set and committee assignments dished out. There were a few items of town business, HARB certificates of appropriateness, a hearing to schedule, but it was not a typical Council Meeting.
“We didn’t have much time to decide [after the new members were sworn in], and there were a lot of questions. Many on Council felt rushed and were not comfortable making that decision with questions still in the air,” he said – so Council decided to wait.
“We were aware of the deadline,” Mr. Stefano continued, “but we were also told we could opt-in late. We were told there may be a slight penalty for this, but that it would not be sizable. How much or if we will be penalized is not clear to me at this point.”
Well, good news there. I reached out to the Attorney General’s office and they said, “There should not be a penalty if you are signed on now.” Let’s hope that holds.
What the borough will use the funds for is still being decided but there is interest in expanding the Naloxone (or Narcan) access for emergency responders. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose.
West Chester’s Most Influential
They say it’s all about who you know and if you are looking for influence in the region, three West Chester-names top that list – at least according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. The local business publication recently released its “Power 100 for 2022” and these West Chester connections are on it.
Who: Christopher Fiorentino, President West Chester University
Where to find him: Hanging out in his new Science and Engineering Center or elsewhere on the West Chester campus.
Reach out for: A ready-made talent market. WCU is the only school in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education that is growing. Or that advanced degree. West Chester University is growing not only in number of students but in the number of advanced degrees it offers. So much so the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education recently promoted the Golden Rams from Master’s Colleges & Universities – Larger Programs (M1) to Doctoral Universities – High Research Activity (R2). The reclassification recognizes the university’s increase in research activity and doctoral degree offerings. It joins Duquesne, Lehigh and Villanova, as the only PA universities carrying this distinction.
Who: David Rawlinson II, CEO of QVC and parent company the Qurate Retail Group
Where to find him: Searching real estate listings in the area. According to his contract with Qurate Retail, Inc. the South Carolina native is expected to “maintain a residence within 50 miles” of QVC’s headquarters.
Reach out for: Publicity for your next big idea. Mr. Rawlinson has been tasked with evolving the QVC business to better align with changing consumer habits.
Who: Jason Wingard, President of Temple University
Where to find him: LinkedIn, or your old yearbook. Wingard is a 1991 graduate of Henderson.
Reach out for: New ideas for building town-gown relations. Improving relations between Temple and its notoriously at odds North Philadelphia neighbors is one of his goals as president.
Last month, when reviewing the Chester County Restaurant Inspection reports I found what seemed to be an abnormally high number of institutions out of compliance with the Health Department. Well, first the good news. None of those establishments are out of compliance this month. As for the not so good news, they have been replaced with five new locations.
Wasabi II, Dilworthtown Crossing, out of compliance, 10 violations. Violations included prepared foods and sauces not marked with the date prepared and sushi chefs using sushi rice prepared the previous day. While I couldn’t find a definitive answer on how long sushi rice should be stored in a professional setting, according to the internet it seems between 8 and 12 hours. “The sushi rice was discarded on-site. Manager arrived at facility and review done.” So I am guessing, next day was the wrong answer.
West Chester Diner, West Chester Pike, out of compliance, 9 violations. Citations at West Chester Diner included food left stored in the walk in refrigerator in open cans and/or uncovered containers. And numerous cleaning requests such as “floors throughout the kitchen”, “walls in the main kitchen”, “interior of refrigerators” and “exterior of all food service equipment” – so basically the whole kitchen. During its last 7 inspections, the WC Diner was found out of compliance 5 times.
West Chester Pizza Cafe, W. Nields Street, out of compliance, 10 violations. Open beverage containers were found in the food prep area, American cheese was found stored above required temperature and the bulk detergent container supplying the mechanical dishwasher was empty. Hard to clean a dish with no soap.
Bagel Bistro, West Chester Pike, out of compliance, 6 violations. I am not familiar with this place on West Chester Pike, near the Giant, but if I am reading the Inspector’s report correctly it’s kind of dirty. “An overall cleaning of the facility must be performed,” he wrote. Also, “Thoroughly clean the employee toilet room including all surfaces and fixtures.” Note this is a follow up visit from a November inspection where many of the same criticisms were noted.
And don’t hate me for this one, but Greystone Oyster Bar, Church Street, was also found to be out of compliance, with 15 violations. These include multiple hand wash sinks without functioning hot water taps and another hand wash sink without soap or paper towels. There were also several directives to clean items in the kitchen including the note: “The following must be cleaned and sanitized today: 1. The wall potato slicer 2. The blade and components of the slicer.” Also found a seafood mix stored above the required temperature of 41 degrees. Although, the noted temperature was between 47 – 49 degrees so not while not “food safe”, not exactly a summer day either.
Slow down… Move over… Pay attention. Pulling this one straight from the West Chester Police Department’s social post. You may have seen the officers set up Tuesday on Gay Street with lights on in a situation that looked like they had pulled someone over yet when you looked there was no driver in the car. Well, that was all part of an effort to raise awareness around PA’s Move Over Law. The Move Over Law requires drivers approaching an emergency response area to merge into a lane farther away from the response area and if that is not possible pass at a speed at least 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. Or 10 mph in a standard 30 mph zone.
Finally, have you seen these guys? West Chester police are looking for help identifying two men wanted for theft from Giant. The incidents may have been separate but forgive me, they look like frat brothers. If you have any information, notify the police at 610-696-2700.
Apologies to the East Boys basketball team whom I inadvertently wrote off last week. Apparently the Pennsylvania high school playoff system has a playback option where even when you lose, you get a second chance. I am from Indiana, the home of Hoosiers. We do not believe in second chances. It wasn’t until well after I graduated that they stopped forcing county schools of 75 kids to go up against inner-city schools of 5000 plus in hopes of another cinematic worthy moment. Anyway, East had a second chance on Saturday and they made the most of it. They beat Council Rock North then followed that up with a win against Downingtown West on Tuesday. The Vikings are now back in action tonight at home versus Penn Wood.
Now onto track and field where we put our hands together for Rustin’s Ava Alexander who had a monster meet at the 2022 PTFCA Indoor State Championship last weekend. She came home with three medals including gold in the triple jump with a new personal-best jump of 40’ 11.” This is only her second recorded jump over 40’ (the first came same meet, earlier round). Not only was she best in this state, she was best in multiple states. Her triple leap is the 7th longest recorded high school jump in the country this year. And if that wasn’t enough she also grabbed, 3rd in the 400 and 2nd in the long jump. Nicely done. See how all the qualifying West Chester athletes did here.
Wrestling also had a big weekend which ended with Henderson Wrestling, already ChesMont Champs, District 1- 3A West Team Champions with a tournament-high 9 regional qualifiers. While there was great wrestling all around, highlights include; Henderson’s Carmen Cortese and Billy Wilson who took first at 120 and 132, respectively and Rustin’s Marek Seaman who took first at 172. Good luck to everyone heading to Regionals on Saturday!
Also the hockey regular season wrapped up this week with Rustin taking on East in an all West Chester Ches-Mont championship Thursday night. However, the lead in was more exciting than the game itself, which East took 10-0. Congratulations to the Vikings!
And finally into the pool for the 2022 District One Swimming Championships where Henderson’s Krista Marlin took first in the 200 free, grabbed second in the 500 free, then joined her teammates to also bring home gold in the 200 Free relay. Henderson placed fourth at the meet.
And while we are talking swimming, I would be remiss not to give a round of applause to West Chester University swimmer Logan Brockway who used his lifeguard training to perform the heimlich maneuver on a woman choking at the food court where the team was grabbing lunch before a meet. He then went on to that meet to grab gold in both the 200-free relay and the 400-individual medley. Now, that’s a story.
Join the students (and faculty) at Greystone elementary school in celebrating their new playground. Students got their first chance to test out the equipment on Tuesday after a grade-by-grade ribbon cutting.
“We had the most exciting Tuesday at Greystone Elementary,” PTO parent Selene Lacayo shared. “Each grade got their own ribbon cutting ceremony before enjoying recess in the brand new playground.”
If you have not been following the story of the Greystone playground, it is a great example of the community coming together for the kids.
Don’t groan but, it’s time to say hello to a new election cycle. Already spotted around town once, Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz was back in town on Thursday hosting a town hall meeting for a reported 200 attendees. Now this weekend we get an opportunity to say hello to a potential Gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain. Mr. McSwain, is a former Federal prosecutor perhaps best known for successfully halting the opening of the state’s first supervised injection site for intravenous drug users. He will be at Barnaby’s tonight from 4 to 7 p.m. seeking signatures and buying beers, if you have questions about what a McSwain-led Pennsylvania would look like.
Finally, say see you soon, to the Spicy Pig Cafe. Fans of the returning Asian-American cafe keep your eye out for an open sign – they just passed their opening restaurant inspection.
Say goodbye to masks in schools – for now. As of Monday, West Chester Area School District, West Chester Catholic schools and West Chester University all went to mask optional. However, they all reserve the right to bring back the masks if case loads increase. “It is important to note that we are intentionally declaring our University as mask optional, as current conditions allow us to empower each individual to make their own decisions regarding mask usage,” West Chester University wrote in a statement.
If the COVID impact in the community once again reaches high under the new CDC guidance, masks would go back to being recommended.
Also, farewell to West Chester’s Bam Margera’s run in the Jackass series. He only makes a small cameo in the latest Jackass installment, Jackass Forever. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the West Chester native was slated to return to the franchise but was fired by Paramount Pictures for breaking a “wellness agreement” in his contract. While Bam claims he was prescribed the drug he tested positive for, he has had a long history with alcohol abuse. His absence and others from the Chester County universe is felt, Inquirer reporter Nick Vadala writes. “It does feel like the series is missing the sort of suburban, Chester County mayhem that was integral to Jackass’ beginnings.” Feeling nostalgic for the old days? So was YouTube.
Pay it forward.
Grab your work boots and gardening gloves, the annual Goose Creek Cleanup is back. It’s been two years since the creek has had a good scrubbing (of trash and plastic) and organizers are looking for all the help they can get. So mark your calendar for March 26 at 9 a.m.
I am told the event is fun. Of course, this is by the organizers so keep that in mind, but you’ll get a t-shirt and a cup of coffee before they send you on your way to make a difference. Registration is required and work boots or waders are highly recommended. See doesn’t sound fun already? This is a regional initiative so various locations are available. It’s site #112 if you are interested in working in the borough.
Also making paying it forward their business, the West Chester Food Cupboard. The West Chester-based nonprofit recently received the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Community Service Award in recognition of their “exemplary service to the greater West Chester community.” If you would like to check out what they have been up to, here’s a video.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? It’s First Friday and the tail end of Restaurant Week. There will be Irish dancers at the 44 West plaza from 5 – 6 p.m., dining specials and no projected ice storms so we are thinking of heading downtown for an early family dinner.
Also this weekend Hop Fidelity is celebrating its second anniversary in the borough. Stop in and say hi and while you’re there grab a complimentary beer and a discount on some vinyl.
Also, this weekend Sleuthound launches its murder mystery scavenger hunt “West Chester Vices” through the borough. Tickets are $15 for your chance to run through West Chester on a fun-filled, murder-inspired scavenger hunt.
And finally, no pressure, but if you haven’t made summer swim plans yet, you might want to hurry. Available options are dropping like flies.
Mark your calendars:
- March 4 – Young Ladies Thriving Program Dinner, Melton Center, 6:30 p.m. Break bread while learning about the program offered to 8th-12th grade young ladies in Chester County.
- March 4 – Johnny Peers & the Muttvill Comix, WCU Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 7 p.m. Tickets $22/adult; $17/student.
- March 5 – Oscar Nominated Short Films 2022 – Live Action/Animation, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $20
- March 6 – Oscar Nominated Short Films 2022 – Documentary, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $20
- March 9: Lecture: Rethinking Consumerism and the Environment. 12 p.m. Weekly sustainability discussion from the WCU Office of Sustainability. Lectures are free and open to the public and can be attended in person at Sykes 255 A/B or via Zoom.
- March 9: Novel Tea with Erik Larson, 7 p.m. This event is virtual. Tickets are $35 that includes admission and a signed copy of Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. When purchasing, choose West Chester Public Library as the library you would like your ticket proceeds to support.
- March 10 – Open Mic Night, AlignSpace, signup at 7 p.m., show begins 8 p.m., must be 16+ to perform. This event is open to the public.
- March 12 – Artrageous, WCU Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 4 p.m. Tickets $22/adult; $17/student.
- March 12 – Future Stars Benefit, Uptown! 1 – 5 p.m. Support the area’s future stars while enjoying a lunch buffet. Performances by the Uptown Singers, among others. Tickets: $35; $20 – kids 12 and under
- March 19 – WCU President’s Speaker Series: Broadway’s Christopher Jackson, WCU Asplundh Concert Hall, 8 – 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $27-32 by location.
- March 24 – The Discovery of a Masterpiece, virtual, 7 p.m. Local curator Mallor Mortillaro shares how she uncovered a masterpiece while cataloging artwork at the Hartley Dodge Memorial. Registration required.
- March 25 – Harlem Wizards, West Chester East, 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $15/each. In addition 40 special VIP tickets will be available for $50 a person. These seats are courtside and include a meet and greet with a couple of the Wizards and “VIP” parking.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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