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West Chester Weekly News Roundup: June 10, 2022

Paving projects are underway around the borough. Get the schedule below.

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It’s Friday, June 10. Holy, disappointment, Batman! We finally got word on what is coming to the corner of Gay and High Streets. And well, it’s not great. Plus, the borough introduces a proposal to create a plan to make the Gay Street Open Air Market an annual thing. A look at what’s going to be included. Plus, how West Chester plans to use its American Rescue money and two new businesses open downtown. Looks like another gorgeous weekend. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.

Protection at block ends is one of the items to be considered as part of the new Gay Street Open Air Market proposal.

One week after the chaotic process came to an end and Gay Street (a week late) was officially closed, the borough has made one thing clear. They don’t want to do this again. This week Borough Manager Sean Metrick and his team unveiled their proposal for a long-term solution to the now perennial question: how best to close Gay Street? 

And their best answer: bring in help. Officially titled “Gay Street Open-Air Market 2023” the proposal calls for partnering with borough engineers Traffic Planning and Design (they are also working on the High Street improvement project) to research and present a working plan for a long-term closure. The consultants have 6-months to complete the work considering two scenarios: one where the road is closed part-time (Friday-Monday, as it is now) and full-time (7-days a week during a set period – as it was, and IMHO, should be).

They’ve also been asked to consider and plan for: 

To do this they will be convening three ad hoc meetings with borough staff, public works, EMS, police, Business Improvement District, and elected officials; and two community workshops. 

The $33,700 proposal breezed through committee this week with a 3-0 recommendation and nary a comment from council members. Next, it goes to the full council next week for final approval. If the plan is approved next week – and I would be surprised if it wasn’t, the first date to note is a community listening session planned for July.

These updates are brought to you by the Federal Government

Park upgrades are part of the plans for the American Rescue Plan funds.

As you may recall last year President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law. A massive $1.9 trillion aid package that, among other things, provided much-needed relief to local municipalities hit hard by the pandemic. Under the package guidelines, West Chester is set to receive two $1.048 million dollar payments. The first was received last Halloween. The second is expected by the start of next year. As part of her role as West Chester Borough Finance Director Barb Lionti has been providing Borough Council with quarterly summaries of where the money is going. 

Here is what that report looks like through Q1.

New this month, the borough is exploring adding a new stormwater management plan for Greenfield Park (the baseball park). The project, which received committee support this week, would include regrading the property and adding rain gardens. While, I am not in the area often it is reported that university students have been known to bring rafts, even a canoe, to the field when the park, which is downriver from Goose Creek, floods. Something the borough is hoping to avoid in the future.

Did you say, bubble tea?

Kung Fu Tea coming soon to the corner of High and Gay Streets. Wah.

After two years, we finally know what is going into the old Starbucks on Gay Street and I don’t think you’re going to like it. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. I was warned. I just chose not to believe it. Bubble tea. Bubble tea? Kung Fu Tea, America’s largest bubble tea brand, is moving in one door down from Tsaocaa, America’s not quite as big bubble tea brand. Now to be fair, I don’t know any more about Kung Fu Tea than it’s a bubble tea shop and it is located right next to another bubble tea shop. Which frankly, is all I think I need to know, but perhaps, maybe, I am missing something here? If not, I have a feeling in six months we are going to be asking, does anyone know what’s going in on Gay Street?  

***Sponsored***

Things to do: Highland Orchard Strawberry Festival

Now, something I am excited about. It is strawberry picking season at Highland Orchards and they are celebrating with a full-on festival this Saturday. Not only can you hop a ride to the fields for buckets of farm-fresh, sun-ripened strawberries you can make an afternoon of it with live music,  craft vendors, food trucks, and a relaxing beverage in the Locust Lane Craft Beer Garden.

“Kick off picking season with a shuttle ride to the strawberry fields. Pick at your leisure and ride back to enjoy some time in the Locust Lane Beer Garden featuring local draft beer, food trucks, local crafters, wine and spirits, a kids’ playground and picnic area, feed the goats, and shop the Highland market for great local produce, fresh-baked donuts and pies and Highland’s own jellies, jams, and sauces,” suggests ​Steph Eby, Locust Lane Brewery Communications Manager.

Highland Orchards Strawberry Festival

Clear the afternoon and bring the whole family (fido’s welcome too, in the Beer Garden and picnic area, not the orchards) for a fun day on the farm. Can’t make it out Saturday? Don’t worry, strawberry picking continues through June and Locust Lane Craft Brewery will be pouring refreshing pints every Saturday and Sunday through October. Reservations are required for picking and can be made here. All other activities are open to all. Private party options are also available. Visit Locust Lane to learn more and stay up-to-date on Beer Garden events.

Thank you, Locust Lane Craft Brewery for your support of Hello, West Chester!

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“Our officers are trained to go in by themselves and stop the killing.”

West Chester Police Chief James Morehead on the department’s active shooter training

The warnings.

All you can be is prepared. In his first report since the devastating mass shooting in Uvalde, TX that has raised a lot of questions about the police response, Chief James Morehead took a moment to respond at this week’s Public Safety Committee meeting. He assured members and the public that the West Chester police force, and the whole of Chester County law enforcement, have been trained in what to do in an active shooting situation. All officers throughout the county follow a single officer response approach, he shared. “Our officers are trained to go in by themselves and stop the killing,” Chief Morehead told the committee.

You can run, but it’s not advised. The West Chester Police apprehended Anthony James Robert, of Philadelphia, after a car and foot chase last Thursday. He was found in possession of methamphetamines, a prohibited weapon, and a stolen vehicle. Anthony was charged and arraigned at Chester County Prison. West Chester Police were also involved in the peaceful arrest of Mamadou Kallie, 23, of Coatesville, wanted for the murder of two women and an unborn child. West Chester Police pursued Mamadou after being notified of a carjacking. They were able to end the chase without injury and when the suspect exited the vehicle holding a gun to his head, they de-escalated the situation and made the arrest.  

25% of female undergrads will experience rape or sexual assault through force.* West Chester police arrested West Chester University Sophmore Dylan Michael Strunk on Tuesday on two counts each of rape by forcible compulsion, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse by forcible compulsion, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, unlawful restraint, and false imprisonment, as well as four counts of indecent assault. 

He was released on $200,000 bail which was quickly posted by bond  – but told to avoid the victim. A preliminary hearing is set for Tuesday. The arrest stems from an incident that allegedly took place at multiple locations on and around the campus. You can read the full story here

*RAINN

Avoid the slide at Kathy McBratnie park. The double slide has been removed from the playground at Kathy McBratnie park on W. Nields Street after the slide was found split in a suspected incident of vandalism. A new slide has been ordered and is expected sometime in July.

The Accolades

We know it’s not all about the test scores but never-the-less it is a good feeling when you ace that exam and West Chester students did well this year. According to a ranking of students’ scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and the Keystone Exams compiled by the Pittsburgh Business Times, West Chester ranked 43 among the state’s nearly 500 districts. Not quite as good as nearby Tredyffrin-Eastown, which ranked #2 in the state, or Downingtown which came in 13, but still pretty good. 

Also high fives to the West Chester University’s Baseball team who ended an exciting season this week. The Golden Rams came out victorious in four (count them four) elimination match-ups to earn a national tournament birth. The Golden Rams then lost its first-round match forcing themselves into another elimination situation which they took to the semifinal game before losing to No. 1 North Greenville. While we are here, a round of applause to Rustin’s girl’s softball and Henderson’s boys’ baseball team on a couple of great seasons. Unfortunately, both lost teams their state playoff games this week.  

Golf more your game? We’re also winning there

Hello. 

Upstairs at Turks Head Cafe.

Say hello to the newly opened Turks Head Cafe opening on 111 N. Church Street. 

Freshly renovated, the space is light and airy. The walls are clean and white walls except for an original map of West Chester hanging adjacent to the coffee bar. The coffee is rich and satisfying. Outside open-air dining space is available in the borough’s first driveway. It’s original resident horses, not cars. Upstairs there are beautifully refinished wood floors and complimentary wood-topped cafe tables. The space is updated and ready for a future as a possible live music venue, an art-house movie theater – a pull-down projector has been mounted above the front windows, or maybe, a classroom? Where lessons on how to “pull a perfect shot” of espresso could be taught. 

Also, opening this week after months and months (and months) of coming soon signs, FIRE – Nashville Hot Chicken on 126 E. Gay Street. Visit them for “mind-blowing Southern-style chicken and homemade sides.” 

Speaking of flavors of the south, also, a nice to see you again to Miss Winnie’s. The Jamaican Jerk restaurant has been closed since mid-April after a back injury sidelined Chef Bertie. The injury took longer to recover from than was originally thought and a week soon grew to a month and more. Fortunately, Chef is feeling better and the kitchen is now back open

If your road has not been repaved yet, it should be soon.

Say hello, to street paving season in the borough – as many of us were made painfully aware this week. The borough is planning to repair and repave 19 streets and 1 alley in June alone. By the end of today, all targeted roads should be milled. If repaving hasn’t begun on your road yet, it should by next week. Public Works is hoping to have everyone smooth sailing by June 17. When it is likely a new batch of roads will begin. Below is a street-by-street look at what is planned for the remainder of this month.   

Also, while we are checking in on Public Works, say hello, to new Director Donald Edwards. He started on May 23 and replaces outgoing director Alberto Vennettilli.

Good news pickleball converts say hello, to your outdoor game. Hoopes Park now has converted one of its tennis courts to pickleball courts. Nets are provided. “They have been in use and expect more usage as it becomes widely known,” Friends of Hoopes Park reports. 

And finally, say hello to a new traffic light at the corner of S. New and W. Nields Street. Not sure why a stop sign was not good enough, but apparently it wasn’t.

Goodbye.

East High School graduation

Goodbye, school days. Goodbye, seniors. Goodbye, school buses blocking your morning drive. Yep, the 2021-2022 school year is now in the books and for me, it will forever be remembered simply for happening. After two years of virtual and hybrid instruction, this year marked the true return to normal. The year started with masks, distancing, and handwashing breaks but by the time the bell rings today most of those have disappeared or settled into “as needed” territory. A place I can live with. 

The end of the school year also means it’s time to say goodbye to the teachers and educators who have graced us with their wisdom, energy, and most importantly, patience over the years. Here are this year’s retirees – responsible for a whopping 611 years of service. See if any of them taught (or survived) you. Then send them your best wishes.

Rustin High School graduation

Henderson: Elizabeth Bender, School Counselor, 28 years; Janet Boosz, Latin Teacher, 19 years; Christina McCormick, Math Teacher, 32 years; Stuart O’Connor, English Teacher, 20 years; Dean Donley, Health/P.E Teacher, 18 years;

East: Susan Cornelius, Athletic Director, 36 years; Dr. Robert King, Science Teacher, 15 years.

Rustin: Dr. Christopher Lunardi, Assistant Principal, 20 years; Charlene DiRocco, Certified School Nurse, 20 years. 

Fugett: William McCauley, Social Studies Teacher, 33 years; Douglas McGillivray, Social Studies Teacher, 20 years; Sandra Murawski, Special Education Teacher, 17 years; Betsey McLaughlin, English Teacher, 25 years.

Stetson: Dr. Una Martin, English Teacher, 23 years; Gregory Jewitt, Special Education Teacher, 22 years; David Kelly, Technology Education Teacher, 25 years. 

Elementary: East Goshen: Dennis Brown, Principal, 20 years; Mary Belczyk, Music Teacher at Fern Hill and Mary C. Howse ES, 23 years; Also at MCH: Mary Litzenberg, Music Teacher, 20 years and Cheryl Chaborek, Librarian, 31 years; East Bradford: Karen Cook, School Counselor, 18 years; Starkweather: Janet Doyle, Certified School Nurse, 20 years; Exton: Victoria Grant, Certified School Nurse, 12 years; and Penn Wood: Linda Mangold, Music Teacher, 19 years. 

Administration: Dr. Tammi Florio, Director of Teaching and Learning at Spellman Education Center, 20 years; Dr. Paul Joyce, Supervisor of Science, Technology Education, Family Consumer Sciences and Health/Physical Education, 30 years; Dr. Leigh Ann Ranieri, Director of Pupil Services as Spellman Education Center, 13 years; Lisa Phifer, Supervisor of Special Education, East Feeder, at Spellman Education Center, 12 years.

Pay it forward.

Cat and Zoe are at it again.

You remember Cat and Zoe, the amazing and ambitious fifth-graders from Greystone elementary that didn’t expect to be organizing and hosting a town-wide fundraising effort and rally until they were at least 20, right? Well, they are still at it and adding t-shirt designers to their ever-growing resumes. The duo has just introduced the Kids4Ukraine t-shirt. The design features clasping hands inside a vibrant sunflower in the Ukrainian (and coincidently West Chester) colors of blue and yellow. T-shirts are on sale now for $15. All proceeds will be forwarded directly to vetted organizations whose focus is on both the physical and mental health of Ukrainian children.

Looking for something to do this weekend? The Friends Association is celebrating its 200th (!) Anniversary with a Friends Family Reunion this Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are still available.

Also, musically inclined? The Downtown Business Improvement District has put out a last call for musicians to play at the June 21 Fete de la Musique. As part of the event, performers will take to the streets throughout the downtown area from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you would like to be one of those performers, contact Rebecca Schmidt at rschmidt@wcbid.com

Finally, are you an incoming sophomore, junior or senior girl who feels the adults have gotten it all wrong? (You may not be wrong.) Well, here is your chance to have your say. The Fund for Women and Girls has a couple of amazing opportunities open for the 2022-2023 school year. They are now accepting applications for their: 

Girls Advisory Board, a nationally recognized girls’ grantmaking program open to girls entering 10th of 11th grade. Learn first hand about the needs of the community and decide how best to address them, and 

GirlGov Chester County is a civic engagement program that gives high school girls a firsthand look at civics, advocacy, policy, and leadership. Open to those entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade.

The freakin’ weekend. 

What are you up to this weekend?

What are you up to this weekend? We will be heading over to Barclay Park for the library’s summer reading kickoff celebration. And celebrating the lifting of COVID-19 test requirements for international travel!

If you are around town this weekend, grab a sneak peek at Turk’s Head Cafe, pretty summer wedding guest dress ideas from Blink, a lobster roll for lunch, and of course, the Strawberry Festival.

Mark your calendars:

One final housekeeping note. I apologize for anyone that recieves a duplicate email this week. I will be removing all my email subscribers from WordPress and transferring them to MailChimp this week. If you did not recieve the MailChimp version of the newsletter, you are not subscribed and won’t get the newsletter next week. Fix that here. That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week. 

Oh, one more thing, if you think one or more of your friends would like Hello, West Chester, too, please forward this newsletter and tell them to come join us. 

And hey, if you’re that friend? So nice to see you! You can subscribe here.

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