The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, May 26: Porchfest celebrates a successful second year with a record turnout. We recap with enough amazing photos you’ll want to go back. Spot anyone you know? I found more than a few. Plus, teacher goodbyes and what the next generation is doing about climate change. Spoiler: it’s not that much. Who’s ready for a long weekend? I know I am. Take this outside and let’s catch up!
The Porchfest Challenge
Last weekend the West Chester Green Team held their second annual West Chester Porchfest shutting down streets and lining up roughly 70 bands on 50 porches throughout the Borough’s southwest quadrant. The day started with a slight drizzle but it was not enough to deter residents from coming out in droves to hang out, grab a bite, partake in some complimentary face painting and, of course, listen to the music.
There were multi-piece bands that rocked out on large porches to crowds pooling on streets and sidewalks and acoustic soloists who gave intimate performances for fans clustered close or passersby who paused to catch a few bars en route to another destination. There were members of WCU’s Wells School of Music and a Ukulele troupe. From large to small, the music selection this year was exceptional. Many happy homeowners are already locking their bands in for next year.
A group of enterprising kids set up a lemonade and snack stand – then donated all the proceeds to support the event. (Good too, because the Borough’s fees for police and public works – are well, quite hefty but we’ll get into that another time.)
The signage was great this year as was the music flow. Bands were nicely spaced and schedules respected. Music flowed rhythmically down the blocks as one performance time ended and another began. Trash collection was good and drinking (pretty) much contained.
However, as in any event this size, not everyone was thrilled. There were reports of lines at the bathrooms and parking was (shocker) a challenge. There were some that felt hosting Porchfest and Studio Art Tour on the same day put unnecessary strain on cross streets and kept some from attending. Some porch hosts were disappointed by last-minute cancellations and unexpected lineup changes – but in the end, the complaints were small in comparison to the fun.
A participant satisfaction survey went out to hosts, performers, sponsors and attendees this week as plans for Porchfest 3 are already underway. It will again be the third Saturday in May – if you would like to mark your calendars. (Sorry, Studio Art Tour participants, there are reasons this date works and it has much to do with when students are in session.)
Um, thanks for the recap – but why did you call this write-up “The Porchfest Challenge?”
Yes, that. When Porchfest was originally discussed the West Chester Green Team had proposed rotating the event through the borough’s quadrants. Which has merits. It would make it easier to involve more residents and give each neighborhood an opportunity to highlight its distinctive charm. It also wouldn’t be easy.
Porchfest has grown rapidly in just two years. It takes a lot of volunteer time, effort, and coordination to pull off. Organizers are just now beginning to feel like they have an understanding of what is needed and the core group in place with the skills to pull it off. Moving the whole endeavor to a new team with new streets and new constraints would be a heavy lift.
So, instead, I would like to propose a challenge. What if each quadrant came up with its own version of Porchfest? A unique way to invite the community to their neck of the woods and show off their little slice of the Borough. The mini-festivals could rotate through the calendar year giving us multiple opportunities to celebrate together. Perhaps the northeast quadrant could build on Marshall Square Park’s Santa in the Square by adding a neighborhood holiday lights tour or a caroling festival. Or the Southeast could partner with the university to make homecoming something more than a football game?
I am sure you can come up with better ideas than mine but coming out of another successful Porchfest – I just wanted to throw out the idea for more. And if you do it, please take pictures.
WCU Sustainability Census
Last month West Chester University presented the results of its first-ever Sustainability Census. The goal of which was to measure sustainable knowledge, behaviors, and sociodemographic variation on campus in order to help guide the work of West Chester’s Sustainability Council.
“Ideally, results from the Sustainability Census may be used to better educate our campus community and foster a culture of sustainability at WCU,” said Professor Aliza Richman, the survey’s lead researcher and Chair of West Chester University’s Sustainability Council.
To do this researchers collected 2228 responses from students, faculty, staff, and administrators representing roughly 11 percent of the campus population.
So what did they learn? Among the key takeaways was action does not match stated desire.
According to survey results, 44 percent of respondents reported that their participation in sustainable activities did not change or grew only a little since being at WCU. This is in contrast to the nearly 84 percent of participants that agreed with the statement, “The climate crisis is urgent and I must take action now.”
The results point to an opportunity and a need for the university to do more to convert desires into action. “This is an indicator we have some room for improvement to make behaviors easier and more attainable,” Dr. Richman told WCU students and other campus sustainability leaders.
Among the sustainability actions the WCU community is taking, reducing energy usage topped the list with nearly 80% participation followed by recycling/composting and reducing air travel.
Among the actions of most interest to researchers, only “reducing air travel” ranked among the most performed actions. Other actions, “Making dietary choices for sustainability reasons” and “eat less meat or follow a plant-based diet” ranked far lower. Ninth and 10th, respectively, out of the 12 provided actions.
“We will continue to follow 3 and 9, 10 because research has shown that these are the ways individuals can make the biggest impact,” said Dr. Richman, a sociologist and demographer.
This is only the beginning. “The Sustainability Census is planned to be a longitudinal study,” Dr. Richman shared via email. A second survey to a student subsample will begin in 2024 and a full campus check in is planned during the 2026-27 academic year.
Stop the chase. This week yet another stolen vehicle plowed into Gay Street. This time it was Country Bagel and the Gay and Matlack Street traffic light that bore the brunt of the collision. The chase and subsequent crash took place just before midnight on Thursday night. Fortunately, no one was hurt – this time.
Your money’s no good here. A Delaware man is facing charges of identity theft and unlawful use of a computer after illegally trying to withdraw $34,000 from Truist Bank on High Street in March.
The one with ick factor concluded. A jury reached a decision in the trial of a former West Goshen drama teacher who had sexual relations with several of his students. After deliberating for seven hours the jury found Seth Reich guilty of sexual assault, corruption of minors, indecent assault, and furnishing liquor to minors after having sex with an unconscious 19-year-old student. She was reportedly passed out from overconsuming the tequila he provided. He was, however, acquitted of charges brought by an even younger student after inconsistencies in the provided timeline led the jury to question which facts to believe.
This story does not have a happy ending. Missing West Chester man Javier Camacho was found fatally stabbed in a Philadelphia apartment earlier this month. The motive for the crime is unknown. If you have any information about this, please contact the Philly homicide unit at 215-686-3354.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for children. The American Red Cross has free water safety tips and courses available in both English and Spanish. If you plan to be around water this summer with your kids consider taking a moment to refresh your knowledge.
Warning: You’re going to get muddy. Congratulations to members of the West Goshen Police Force on completing the Tough Mudder, a 15K obstacle challenge. You can see them in all their dirty glory here.
As summer approaches its unofficial start, Spring sports teams prepare for the postseason. Here’s a round-up of whom to keep an eye on.
- Congratulations to the Rustin Girls Track & Field team on winning Districts on Saturday. This makes back-to-back championships for the Lady Golden Knights who took first place in three events and second in four more. First place wins went to Ava Alexander, who took home first in the triple jump with a meet record leap of 41’ 10”, Keturah Darwon who took first in the 300-meter hurdles and runners Ava, Keturah, Maddie Miller, and Julia Snelling who combined to take home first place in the 4 x 400 relay. In total, Rustin has ten athletes headed to states.
- Henderson Boys Track and Field will also be sending two athletes to the state meet.
- Baseball District playoffs began this week with all three area schools qualifying for their respective tournaments and all three winning their first-round matchups. Unfortunately, after Wednesday’s second round, only one area team remains. Cheers to the Rustin boy:, after defeating #2 seed Chichester in Wednesday’s matchup the fourth-seeded Golden Knights will take on Strath Haven tonight for a chance to play for the District Championship on Tuesday.
- Not to be left out, the Rustin Girls Softball team has also made serious progress in their District tournament. The fifth-seeded Golden Knights won their first two matches to advance to tonight’s semi-final. They will face #1 seeded Upper Dublin, but after Wednesday’s 17-1 shellacking of fourth-ranked Mount St. Joseph’s, they’ve got to be feeling anything’s possible. A shoutout to Rustin’s Kelly Fricker who broke the school career hits record with 130 hits in just 3 years!
- Finally, high fives to the Rustin Boys Lacrosse team (I am seeing a theme here) on their first semi-final victory in school history. After downing Bishop Shanahan 11-3, the second-ranked Golden Knights will take on #1 seed Marple in the District finals on Wednesday. With this win, Rustin has secured its place in the state tournament. However, seeing Marple was the team that ended their season last year, I am sure they’ll be there for the win.
(And, hello? Where are my other high schools? Maybe I can get Rustin to start sponsoring this section…)
Speaking of lacrosse runs, high fives, and good games to West Chester University’s women’s lacrosse team which fell one game short of an undefeated season and its third national championship. After winning their semi-final match against Grand Valley State on Friday, the Golden Rams seemed caught off guard by the fast start of challenger Pace University. The Setters scored eight goals before West Chester could even take a shot. The Golden Rams would even it out after that, but they would never make up the deficit, losing the game 19-9.
It wasn’t all bad news though. Even with the loss the women took home some impressive records. This marked the 11th time they have played in the championship game – a record for most championship appearances. They had 22 wins in a season, tying the record for most wins in a season. And, three WCU players Hannah Stanislawczyk, Lindsay Monigle and Gillian Peters were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Moving on. Congratulations to Chester County Hospital on again being named one of the top hospitals in the nation for heart attack care. This year’s accolades came courtesy of the American College of Cardiology which awarded the West Chester-based hospital a Gold Performance in NCDR Chest Pain MI Registry. It was one of only 56 hospitals in the country to receive the organization’s highest distinction. Read more about the award here.
Finally, big high fives to Fugett Middle School which took first in Regional and second in State in the PA Middle School Media and Design Competition for their minimalist logo design of the competition’s logo. Hey, kids, if you have any design tips, let me know.
This spring, Hoopes Park said hello to a like-new Pavilion area after the deteriorating roof was replaced and the site’s structure buttressed. According to Friends of Hoopes Park’s Craig Steiner, “quite a bit of work” was completed on the pavilion including “shingle removal, repair of wooden structure, new roof, improvement of the support posts, and new flashing.” “Be sure to thank [Public Works] if you see them while around town,” he told members.
Speaking of, the FOHP now has its own sign. If you are a neighbor or just a fan of the park, why not consider joining them? You can sign up here.
Fun fact: Hoopes Park pavilion is rented every weekend from April through September.
Not a park per se, but in Westtown they said hello last weekend to a new monument and historical marker honoring five fallen Revolutionary War heroes who were denied church burial by Quaker pacificists. “The Taylor militiamen were disavowed by the pacifist Quakers for taking up arms against the British Crown and barred from burial in the local Quaker cemetery,” the placard reads. The soldiers were instead buried on the family farm in what has become known as the Taylor Family Burial Ground. Both the monument and historical marker are located at 1147 S. Concord Road if you would like to take a look for yourself.
Also, this week the West Chester Area School Board said hello to a new budget. The 2023-2024 Fiscal Year Budget was approved unanimously and includes no tax increase for Chester County residents and a slight 0.1 percent increase for Delaware County residents. Despite the seemingly good news, board members urged administrators to remain vigilant toward ongoing increases. “We must continue to be good stewards of the resources we have. We can not turn a blind eye to the staggering rise in the cost to live in our district even with some of the lowest tax rates,” Board member Stacey Whomsley read in a statement.
Finally, Taps is back. Starting on Wednesday, Downtown West Chester is returning its popular mid-week Happy Hour event. Every Wednesday from 5 – 7 p.m. Enjoy $4 beers, $5 wines, and $6 cocktails plus a variety of appetizer specials. There are reportedly 18 bars and restaurants participating this year including all the ones you would think plus, Artillery, which I believe is new, and the Marquee, which is Hotel Warner’s bar. You can find more details and the complete list of participating restaurants here.
As the school year nears its end, there will be a little over two weeks left when school resumes on Tuesday, let’s take a moment to say a goodbye and good luck to all of West Chester’s retiring teachers and principals.
From the administration side, Dr. Terri-Lynne Alston is stepping down as Principal of Exton Elementary after more than a decade. In total, she has 24 years with the district. Henderson’s Athletic Director Ken McCormick will retire his clipboard after the last races are run and balls are hit this year. AD McCormick served the district for 26 years and in 2011 was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association District 1 Athletic Director of the Year. Also retiring are Steston’s Assistant Principal James Dewitt, Henderson’s Assistant Principal Crystal Dowdell and the WCASD Director of Technology Michael Wagman.
If you are looking for work in the classroom, Social Studies may be the way to go. West Chester schools will see six social studies teachers retire this year. Also retiring is Starkweather music teacher Mr. Morrison after 38 years with the district and Ms. Trombley, Fugett Middle School’s Technology Education Teacher, after 28 years. Congratulations and good luck to all the retiring teachers and administrators. A full list of teachers by school is below. You can find all WCASD retirements here.
- East Bradford Elementary: Janice Byrne, 5th Grade, 29 years
- Exton Elementary School: Beverly Milowicki, 3rd Grade, 12 years
- Hillsdale Elementary: Donna Burgess, 3rd Grade, 30 years
- Greystone Elementary School: Joseph Niedziejko, 31 years
- Starkweather Elementary School: James Morrison, Music, 38 years
- Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School: James Davis, P.E., 28 years
- Fugett Middle School: Joanne Trombley, Technology Education, 28 years
- Pierce Middle School: Cindy Diffendall, Social Studies, 20 years;
- Stetson Middle School: William Corcoran, P.E., 25 years
- East High School: Bethann Carozza, Social Studies, 29 years; Robert Guihan, Social Studies, 18 years; Mike Monaghan, Social Studies, 29 years; Julie Robertson, Math, 24 years; Ann Vincent, Math, 28 years
- Henderson High School: Steve Mitten, Social Studies, 20 years
- Rustin High School: Pamela Basting, French Teacher, 25 years; Thomas Hoesch, Social Studies, 18 years
Speaking of summer goodbyes, want to say farewell to your high school student for a week this summer? Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week is hosting a week-long summer camp that has students create a business model and learn what it takes to lead an imaginary company to financial success. The program is open to sophomores and juniors and thanks to the West Chester Area Education Foundation the cost per student is just $295 – meals and housing included. Applications are being accepted now.
Pay it forward.
This weekend the Chester County History Center is hosting a native tree giveaway in honor of 18th center Chester County botanist, Humphry Marshall. Participants will be able to select from one of five different native seedlings – Black Birch, Burr Oak, Chinquapin Oak, or Honey Locust.
If you would like a tree you will need to first reserve your sapling by completing this form. You can then pick it up tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Chester County History Center.
Forget to read your newsletter promptly at Friday noon and just saw this now? There’s still hope. Any unclaimed trees will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis when the pickup time ends at 1 p.m.
Speaking of still having time, if you hurry, you can still support Safe Harbor while enjoying a delicious Two Birds Cafe cinnamon bun. The nationally recognized cafe will be donating 10 percent of all proceeds collected through 2 p.m. today to Safe Harbor.
And finally, as we head into Memorial Day weekend, what better way to pay it forward than with a beer whose proceeds go to support Veterans and their families? Levante is one of two Chester County breweries carrying “Adapt and Overcome,” a hazy IPA created by 23 PA Veteran-owned breweries. Money raised from the sale of the beer will go to purchase groceries, household items, clothing, and other essentials for Veterans.
Want to do double duty? Maybe pick up a cold one for your neighbor. The pale ale is set to release today.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We are heading to a Reading Phillies game and celebrating the fact the summer is unofficially here. Can you believe it? My 10-year-old told me this week that the years seem shorter the older you get. If only he knew how true that is. Still, I am excited for the opening of the pool even if I am more likely to watch on the sidelines than brave the cold. Wishing everyone a very happy Memorial Day weekend.
If you are sticking around town, don’t forget Gay Street will be closed through Monday in honor of Memorial Day. West Chester Jazz Orchestra is playing the music of Count Basie at Uptown this evening (FYI, if you purchase your tickets to June shows now, Uptown is waving the fees. No code required.) and pools everywhere are opening their doors.
And a big thank you to PetCare Group, this week’s Community Sponsor. For the last 20 years, PetCare Group has given local pet owners peace of mind knowing their pets are lovingly cared for even when they are away from home. Going on vacation this summer? Can’t take your pet? This is who you call. Check out their website to learn more about what they do.
PetCare Group has an experienced team of care providers for in-home pet sitting, dog walking, and dog training every day of the year – including weekends, holidays, and overnights. Insured, bonded, and in business for twenty years, PetCare Group cares for cats, dogs, reptiles, small animals, donkeys, goats, and chickens. Need a hand? Give them a call today!
View the full list of our amazing Community Sponsors here. Want to get your business out in front of this wonderful community? I don’t blame you. Community Sponsorships are full but limited ad space remains in June and July. Send me an email if you are interested and I’ll get you details.
Enjoy getting these updates each week? Enjoy not having to click through a dozen annoying pop-up ads? Me too. I figure if regular readers contribute just $10 a year we can keep the updates coming and the ads limited. Plus, new subscriber perks coming soon!
Mark your calendars:
- May 26 – West Chester Jazz Orchestra plays Count Basie, Uptown Theater, 6:30 p.m. Tickets: $35 in advance; $40 at the door; $25, students.
- May 27 – Humphry Marshall Native Tree Giveaway, Chester County History Center, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Chester County History Center is hosting a native seedling tree giveaway, sponsored by Bartlett Tree Experts and honoring the life of 18th century Chester County botanist, Humphry Marshall. Reserve your tree now, pick it up Saturday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- May 30 – Saloon 151 Quizzo, 151 W. Gay St., 8 – 10:30 p.m. Every Tuesday night join DJ Romeo at Saloon 151 for quizzo! The top 3 teams win prizes in each round!
- May 30 – Off the Rail Karaoke, Split Rail Tavern, 15 N. Walnut St., 9:30 – 11 p.m. Join Roxanne Rohls and Ophelia Hotass for a night of singing, drinking, and drag every Tuesday night.
- May 31 – Saloon 151 Music Bingo, 151 W. Gay St., 9 – 11:00 p.m. There are 5 rounds, which means 5 chances to win a gift card!
- May 31 – Ryan’s Pub Karaoke Night, 124 W. Gay Street, Includes: wings and drink specials.
- June 1 – Kid Craft Time, Monkey Fish Toys, 10 – 11 a.m. Free craft time. Come in anytime between 10 and 11 a.m. Good for kids 3+.
- June 1 – Forever Everly the Rockumentary, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. A glorious blend of documentary film and live music, Forever Everly is like no other show you’ve seen before. Tickets: $35 in advance, $40 at the door
- June 2 – Kiss the Sky – Jimi Hendrix, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. KISS THE SKY recreates Jimi Hendrix’s most iconic concert moments LIVE from Monterey Pop to Woodstock. Touring nationally since 2016. Tickets: $45/advance; $50/door
- June 3 – West Chester Library Summer Reading Kick-off, Barclay Park, 10am – 1pm
- June 3 – Rustin Senior Prom
- June 3 – Yoga in the Street, Gay Street (near the Post Office), 9 – 10 a.m. No registration required. Just bring a mat and $5 entrance fee (cash only!)
- June 3 – Penn Fusion Cares 5K, Church & Market Streets, 9:30 a.m. 5K registration: $35
- June 3 – Phriends Murder Mystery Dinner, Elks, 401 W. Washington, 6 p.m. Murder Mystery Dinner with your 6 favorite friends. Tickets $60 includes dinner.
- June 4 – Outdoor Yoga at the Orchard, Highland Orchard, 12 p.m. Yoga class led by Triple-Threat Fitness Yoga. Class cost: $15.
- June 4 – Turks Head Music Festival, Everhart Park, 12 – 7 p.m. This is a free Borough event. Rain date: June 11
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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