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It’s Friday, July 8. Hello, West Chester, I hope you had a happy 4th – and I hope it didn’t end at Saucey’s pizza. Restaurant Inspection reports are out for June and there are some concerning findings at a couple of borough locations. Plus, West Chester’s new $180,000 rain garden project and a doggie ice cream parlor is coming to town. Time to start planning that “Gotcha Day” party. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
Pretty, pricey rain gardens for Greenfield park
Last month West Chester Borough Council approved a new stormwater management project. This one, slated for the fields and parking facilities at Greenfield Park, has been a target of the Stream Protection Program since it started five years ago.
The original idea had been to dig infiltration trenches along Greenview Alley to divert runoff from the Willows apartments to S. Franklin Street. However, over the years the thinking has changed and now the borough is proposing adding two rain gardens to the parking lot area instead. While the gardens, which use hardy plants to soak up excess water, will not eliminate flooding in the area they will help and they do offer a couple of benefits over the current situation.
- Moderate flood relief. Improvements should be seen as long as rainfall stays under 2.5.”
- Cleaner runoff into Goose creek. The plants not only help absorb excess water but they serve as a filter to help remove salt, dirt, and other grime from the water.
- The park will look prettier. “I think there is also a beautification if this is done right,” said Borough Council President Michael Stefano.
“We know we have flooding in that area. We know it is complex problem but we thought this was a better option,” Mr. Metrick told Borough Council. You can see the full plan here.
By the numbers: The total cost for the rain gardens is $181,547. The borough secured a grant from the Chester County Conservation District for $127,270. This will cover the bulk of the current project leaving the borough to pay the remaining $61,000. A second component of the project, which was not approved at the June meeting, calls for repaving both the Greenfield parking lot and Greenview Alley with a pervious alternate at an additional cost of $170,000.
Stay out of the Saucey
It is once again that time when we look at the Chester County Health Department Inspection reports and this month the reports are worth a read and a mental note – and in two cases, a plan B – at least for now.
Let’s start with Saucey’s on E. Market Street which was hit with 11 quite disturbing violations. The inspector started with a pretty strong chiding about the cleanliness of the facility – “Within 48 hours the following must be THOROUGHLY Cleaned AND Sanitized” the report read and then proceeded to list the majority of the basement prep and kitchen areas from the floor to “all walls top to bottom” and even the “inside and outside of the hand sink.” You know your cleaning is slipping when the sink is no longer clean. Then the report nosedives from there.
There is the unauthorized use of “‘Insect Fogger’ in the basement.” No mention of what insect they were fogging. Which was my initial question until I read – are you ready for this? “A dead rat was observed inside a box on the shelf” in the basement. At which time I forgot about those foggers because – it gets worse. “Observed several rat droppings on the shelf next to the pizza ovens and more under the front counter.” Ewe. Perhaps this report is best summed up by one of the later violations – “The Person in Charge does not have adequate knowledge of food safety.” To say the least.
Also, in trouble this month Michi Sushi in the West Goshen Shopping Center with five violations. Which included not only several cleaning directives but dead roaches found on the floor of the dry storage area. The sushi restaurant is now under the following directive: “A PA Certified pest control operator must service facility 1-2 times each week” and submit the reports to the Health Department.
Finally, Rolling Stars and Smoothie King were also out of compliance this month although their violations pale by comparison – deli meats and cheeses without date labels (Rolling Stars, seven violations); ice cream chest, ice machines, and ice bins in need of cleaning (Smoothie King); table-mounted can opener – really in need of cleaning (both.)
If you would like to peruse the Restaurant Inspection reports for yourself, you can find them here. Just use Chester County Health Department as your jurisdiction and search for the restaurant you are interested in.
Raising beds for the good of the community
If you drive down Rosedale Ave. across the street and a few yards down from the Calvary Lutheran Church you will see the green bushy heads of produce. The plants are part of an 8-bed community garden project the church installed earlier this year.
“We just couldn’t believe how fast it came together,” said Betsy Hancock, project co-chair. The garden started this winter as a committee meeting idea, a way the church could better serve the community. By spring the beds – with the help of the Calvary builders, a group of volunteers with construction skills – were built and the seeds were planted. And their thinking couldn’t have been more fortuitous with food costs up 12.6 percent over last year there has been an increased need for support this year.
“A lot of our partner sites have been reporting increased demand lately,” said Klielle Glanzberg-Kranin, Garden Program Manager for the Chester County Food Bank who partnered with Calvary on the project as part of their Raised Bed program.
The Chester County Food Bank strives to distribute a 50/50 balance between fresh and canned/shelf-stable items. This meant distributing 1.7 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables last year and Klielle guesses that number could be even higher this year. To reach that goal they use several outlets. One is a food purchase program, another is through the running and maintaining its own small farm partnerships and greenhouses and a third through its raised bed garden program.
CCFB partners with schools, nonprofits, churches, and some businesses to help them develop and maintain raised bed locations throughout the county. The foodbank provides sites with education, resources, and seeds for the garden. In return, the partner group pledges manpower and to donate a minimum of 70 percent of the produce to a local hunger relief agency. Currently, there are 15 such garden partners in the West Chester borough (85 countywide) – all helping attack that ambitious goal for fresh produce.
“Right now we are donating everything,” says Betsy whose team has been making twice-weekly visits to the West Chester Food Cupboard. So far Calvary has donated over 110 lbs of produce.
The Chester County Food Bank, of course, does all the things you associate with a food bank. There is plenty of shelf-stable can goods to be had (although not as many as they need, more on that below) but they’ve also learned having access to fresh produce and knowledge on how to use it is important – for health reasons, for cultural reasons, and for quality of life reasons.
“Choice is really empowering for people,” said Klielle. “We want to make sure they have options and can make those decisions for themselves.”
How to get involved:
There are plenty of ways to get involved from participating in the raised-bed program, to volunteering to donating your own garden’s excess bounty (there are several locations accepting produce in West Chester including Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, Holcomb Behavioral Health Services, Safe Harbor, St. Agnes Day Room, West Chester Area Day Care Center, West Chester Area Senior Center and the West Chester Food Cupboard – note it is best to call ahead, best practices for donating).
And don’t forget the good old-fashioned canned-food drive. Demand is high this year and donations are “unprecedently low.” So, mark your calendar for July 20 and clean out those pantry shelves.
Name dropping: Calvary’s “Green Thumbs” garden committee is Betsy Hancock, Diane Weiner, Denise Teitsworth, Susan Hurst, and Joan Wagner; Calvary Builders include – Bruce Larison, Charlie Wagner, Len Weiner, Jan Teitsworth, and Brad Krueger. If you see them about, ask them about their garden.
What’s for Lunch? Blazin’ J’s
In response to a request for more restaurant content, I am launching a new summer feature asking some of the borough’s chefs, restaurant owners, and workers what they would order for lunch and why. This week, West Chester-newcomer Blazin’ J’s.
“We are finding it to be a popular lunch spot,” said Blazin’ J’s owner Gary Danehower. Gary thinks there are a couple of reasons for that. First, is the quality. The never-frozen chicken is the best available. “That’s what we do,” says Gary. “So we don’t cut corners.” Second, is the seasonings. Third, the cost. You can get a fresh-made sandwich for under $10.
Whatever the reason, open just over a month, Blazin’ J’s West Chester has already found its fans – so how do you join the growing list?
Start with the J’s Way sandwich. It’s a 6-oz breast of chicken that is floured and fried to perfection while you watch. It is then dipped in their specialty house hot sauce and topped with pepper jack cheese, hot house mayo, and pickles. It’s a truly unique eating experience. You just have to try it, says Gary.
Once you’ve had the signature you are ready to customize – experiment with sauces from mild to face-melting, swap fried chicken for grilled chicken or ditch the bread completely and add the chicken tenders to a salad. Want it uniquely Blazin’ J’s? Choose the Belgian waffle side.
Then wash it all down with lemonade made (fresh) for Instagram. Order the house-made juice with Blazin’ J’s blue raspberry or cherry syrup. The slightly heavier syrup sinks to the bottom – pretty and satisfying. And all ready in 10 minutes. Just like lunch should be.
This is a sponsored post. Thank you to Blazin’ J’s for their support of Hello, West Chester! If you are in town this weekend, stop by and give their lunch menu a try.
“Approaching bison threatens them and they may respond by bluff charging, head bobbing, pawing, bellowing, or snorting. These are warning signs that you are too close and that a charge is imminent.”The National Park Service
Stay 25 yards or more away from the bison. Last month a 71-year-old West Chester resident learned this the hard way when she became the third person in less than a month to be attacked at Yellowstone National Park. She was treated after the attack at West Park Hospital in Cody, WY. Fortunately, her injuries were not life-threatening.
Possession with intent, part 1. Last month West Chester Police with the help of K-9 support arrested Cherron Sharon James after meeting her at the corner of Miner and Penn Streets and learning there was an active warrant out for her arrest. No mention of what led to the initial meeting but subsequent interactions led police to find large amounts of Alprazolam, Oxycodone, and cash as well as a concealed loaded weapon.
Possession with intent, part 2. Last week West Chester police arrested John Mowry, 52 of West Chester, on charges of aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another after Mr. Mowry confronted officers with a gun. Fortunately, the encounter was quickly deescalated, the firearm seized and Mr. Mowry taken into custody without incident.
Guns kill people. While we are on the topic, last week marked five years since 18-year-old Bianca Roberson was shot and killed in a road rage incident on Pottstown Pike. Friends and families commemorated the event with a balloon release last Tuesday in purple (Bianca’s favorite color) and orange (to represent gun violence.)
Curious, what the gun laws are in West Chester? They are the same as the rest of the state. This is thanks to the 1995 Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act which maintains firearms can only be regulated at the state level. The act, however, is currently being challenged in court. In the coming weeks, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will review three cases all of which argue cities and municipalities should be able to pass separate gun laws.
Whether they motivate with words of wisdom, tales of glory, or lunch pails – great coaches know how to bring out the best in their players and two local baseball coaches are no exception. Congratulations to Henderson baseball head coach Luke McNichol and WCU head baseball coach Mike LaRosa both of which were recognized for leading their respective teams to two impressive seasons. Coach McNichol was named Daily Local News’ Baseball Coach of the Year. While Coach LaRosa grabbed the title of ABCA/ATEC Division II Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
Speaking of baseball, high fives to Henderson senior Eddie Smink who will join his coach at the banquet table after being named Daily Local News Baseball Player of the Year. The Warriors were 8-0 when Eddie was pitching this year and he was key to the team capturing its second Ches-Mont League National Division championship in two years.
While we are here, also a shoutout to a couple of impressive Rustin sophomores. Maddie Miller was named the Daily Local News’ Girls Track Athlete of the Year. Maddie ended her sophomore season with three – count them, three – state medals including first place in the 4×800 relay. While Kelly Fricker, another Rustin sophomore, was named the Daily Local News’ Softball Player of the Year. The Rustin shortstop helped lead her team to the school’s first District 1, Class 5A softball championship.
They couldn’t do it alone so here’s cheers to a strong support system. Last week Mark Grothmann, Athletic Trainer at East High School was named Preceptor of the Year by the Pennsylvania Athletic Trainer’s Society, And Dr. Neil Curtis, a faculty member and trainer at West Chester University, was inducted into the PA Athletic Trainers Society Hall of Fame.
In non-athletic related praise, a round of applause to:
- Ram’s Head’s for their lamb lollies with a chimichurri and balsamic reduction which took home first in the Chef’s Best culinary competition. The annual fundraiser pitted the Market Street Bar against fellow West Chester establishments Opa Tavern, Split Rail Tavern, and Slow Hand and raised $10,000 for the ACT in Faith nonprofit – so really, everyone’s a winner.
- West Chester grads Elizabeth Prieto (East), Andrew Pruden (Henderson), and Christopher Watson (Rustin). They are $1000 closer to their college dreams after being selected as this year’s winners of the Gawthorp Greenwood Law Prize.
- West Chester’s own Kadine Anckle, who recently won an Emmy for her work on Turning the Tables with Robin Roberts. Kadine moved to West Chester from Panama when she was a teenager – a move she credits with helping her learn “cultural blending” and how to smoke weed. We do what we can.
Say hello to the American flag. In case you missed it (or saw them and were curious), at some point in time on the afternoon of July 3, realtor and Price Street resident Leana Dickerman, and perhaps, a small army of friends, lined select streets of the borough with small American flags. I saw them on Price, Brandywine, and Dean Streets as well as in both Everhart and Marshall Square Parks.
Also, say hello to the pup cup, officially (unofficially, I hear Scoops and Smiles already offers one). Coming soon to Gay Street is Salty Paws, the country’s first doggie ice cream parlor. Originally opened in Rehobeth Beach four years ago, there are now ten locations and several more on the way. The shop is part dog ice cream parlor, part bakery. Look for custom canine treats like peanut butter ice cream with dehydrated liver topping. They even do parties. So, for anyone who feels there are not enough birthday parties in his or her life, there’s a “Gotcha Day” celebration in your future.
Finally, say hello, neighbor. Or at least that’s what West Chester artist Susan Curtin did during the pandemic, capturing in pencil the faces behind the masks in a 145-portrait series she calls “Faces of West Chester.” Read more about her story and the inspiration behind the work, in the Daily Local News. Stop by the Church Street Gallery to see her work – but hurry the last day to view it is Saturday.
Say goodbye to this year’s West Chester Summer Soiree, aka dinner en blanc, aka night in white. The event which started in 2016 and has been held at various usually undisclosed locations in and around West Chester was postponed for the 2022 season.
“The West Chester Summer Soiree planning team has come to the difficult decision to postpone the 2022 event. A variety of insurmountable challenges would not allow us to raise the funds and host the celebration that the community deserves,” the group shared on Instagram.
Unfortunately, the event has not been held since 2019. Hopefully, it will get its footing and its finances and be back next year.
Also, say bye-bye to Luxey Little Ones, the little kids luxury boutique has closed its doors. However, all you “hip parents and parents-to-be” do not fret because coming soon in its place is Tish Kids. A spin-off of the West Chester women’s boutique staple since 2013, Tish Kids will presumably bring that same sense of classic high-end style to the littler set. For you Tish fans you’ll recognize the address (135 E. Gay Street) as right across the street from their grownup location.
Pay it forward.
Last fall we chatted with Henderson Booster Club President Rob Schellhammer about the group’s goal to upgrade all the players’ helmets to a safer model by 2023. “To me, it’s the most important piece of equipment the kids wear,” Rob said.
The goal is to replace the Riddle Speed helmets with the Riddle Speed Flex. While both are five-star rated for safety, the new helmets have a ratchet chin guard design that allows players to easily loosen and adjust between plays.
“The kids don’t like [the helmets] to be tight, but if they are not that is where the concussions come in,” he said. The adjustable design helps relieve the pressure that can lead to headaches.
Today the Booster Club is a little over halfway to its goal of 100 helmets in four years.
To help boost that number the Henderson Booster Club is hosting its annual golf outing on July 22 at the Downingtown Country Club. Registration is still open for that event. Direct donations are also welcome. Learn more about both at the Booster Club website.
“All the donations we get will go towards the helmets. Our priority is to provide the safest equipment they can be in,” said Rob.
Think you’re environmentally conscious? Westtown Environmental Advisory Council has a quiz for you. If you’re a Westtown resident with stellar sustainability credentials you could win yourselves some prizes. Everyone else you could save yourself some money with pretty easy energy upgrades. We did the PECO energy assessment last year and it was a pretty cost-effective way to upgrade the efficiency of our drafty ol’ home.
Hey book lovers, this one is for you. The West Chester public library needs a new board member. As a member of the board, you will help direct the operation of West Chester’s favorite library. If you are interested, send your resume and letter of interest to Dana DiDomenico. Applications are being accepted through August 1.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We have a pool party tomorrow, which is so very summer. I also learned in researching that raised bed story, I should be pruning my tomato plants, so add that to the list. And tonight we are going to try to get over to Greenfield Park for West Chester’s Movie in the Park. They are showing The Sandlot, which I love.
If you’re around town this weekend, Split Rail Tavern is celebrating seven years in the borough with music from 3 – 10 p.m. on Sunday. Eclat is celebrating World Chocolate Day (technically yesterday but the chocolate’s not going anywhere) and it’s peach season at the Grower’s Market. I got them last weekend and yum.
Mark your calendars:
- July 8 – Yoga Storytime, West Chester Public Library, 10:30 – 11 a.m. Registration opens July 1.
- July 8 – Movie in the Park: the Sandlot, Greenfield Park, movie starts at sunset. Bring chairs, blankets, etc. Top Dog Hot Dog Cart and East Coast Mini Donuts will be on hand for treats.
- July 8 – Trivia Night on the Terrace, West Chester Public Library, 6-8 p.m. $5 entrance fee required. Registration recommended. Trivia begins at 7 p.m.
- July 9 – Underground Railroad in West Chester walking tour, Chester County History Center, 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and are nonrefundable.
- July 10 – Shake it up – West Chester Co-op fundraiser, 142 E. Market Street, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Event includes food, drinks, and dance lessons. Tickets are $40.
- July 10 – Split Rail Tavern Anniversary celebration, SRT, 3 p.m. Live music from Colin McGetrick, Onyx & Honey, Will Gardner Band and more.
- July 11 – Bad News Bears, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m.$5/Monday Night Movie
- July 13 – October Oak Acoustic, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m.; Tickets $25 in advance ($30 at the door).
- July 13 – Underground Railroad in West Chester walking tour, Chester County History Center, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and are nonrefundable.
- July 14 – Concert in the Park, Everhart Park, 6:30 p.m.
- July 15 – Weekend at the Shore in Paintings, West Chester Public Library, this event is for kids ages 4 -7. The event is free but registration is required. Registration opens July 8.
- July 16 – Underground Railroad in West Chester walking tour, Chester County History Center, 11 a.m. -12:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and are nonrefundable.
- July 18 – Parent Trap, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m.$5/Monday Night Movie
- July 19 – Community Naloxone Training, Oscar Lasko YMCA, 2 – 3:30 p.m. Learn how to administer life-saving naloxone.
- July 20 – Underground Railroad in West Chester walking tour, Chester County History Center, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and are nonrefundable.
- July 21 – Stephanie Philips, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25 in advance ($30 at the door).July 21 – WCU Criterions Alumni Reunion Concert, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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