Recently I unplugged and took time for myself. I wanted to try something artistic I had not done before, so I took a stained glass class. It was so much fun!
I had learned about the class from a stained glass artist who has studio space in Gallery 222 in Malvern. Her name is Jill Huentelman and her business is Huentelglas. I actually know her a bit and one of her stained glass Christmas ornaments has hung on my Christmas tree a few years.
I love stained glass. I have since I was in elementary school and we took a field trip to a glass blowing and stained glass place. I wish I could remember where it was. I bought a pear stained glass light catcher that I still have today. I have light catchers all over. A bunch from my childhood that my mother gave me, some I found, and a bluebird that belonged to a mother of a friend once upon a time.
Before we started to work on what I was going to create, I learned about a bit of the history of stained glass. Then in with the history came to safety aspects of how to behave in the studio, and how to act around the glass for lack of a better description. Jill is a wonderful instructor and I loved every minute of my time in her studio.
So in the end, I decided I wanted to make a bird instead of a pear. Jill will choose a pear with people to make because that way it is a simple design and not extraordinarily complicated for the first time working with glass like this.
I drew my pattern. Next came choosing the glass.
Jill has so much glass and it’s so cool. There’s plain glass and glass that has pattern and almost texture to the top of it. The glass I chose was reminiscent to me of slag glass I have seen in church windows in Chester County.
Wow, I was learning to cut glass for stained glass! First, I learned how to cut straight lines. Then I learned how to cut curves, and then I was ready to cut out my pattern. It was fun! (And nerve wracking because I didn’t want to make a mistake!)
After I cut out my glass, we did the grinding to smooth any sharp edges and make the design look more like what I wanted. After it was cut out and ground, it got a quick wash off.
Next comes this copper foil. Wound and worked around the edges and rubbed smooth with a special stick which has a name- I think it’s a burnisher, but I think it also has other names.
Next comes the soldering. And soldering involves this stuff that looks like dark Vaseline called “flux.” It makes the soldering stick.
After the soldering and the gluing of the bird’s little eye came another bath and rubbing it down and shining it up with a finishing compound. It keeps the soldering silver and made the glass shine more. It’s a shine and buff.
My class was actually a few hours long and it flew by so quickly it seemed like it was half an hour.
The classes are reasonably priced. You can find everything on her website. The price of the class includes all your materials and there is also a waiver to sign before you enter the studio. Another thing that I should’ve mentioned before is that at various times during this creative process, you rinse your hands off with a special soap that pulls metal and things out of your skin because we’re touching things that contain metals like lead.
It was SO much fun and I think my bird turned out great! So far the classes are just a one off, but if Jill did a series, I would totally sign up! If I took another class, I would like to learn how to make those cool stakes that you can put in your flower pots.
Also, while I was there, I got to see what was hanging on the walls of Gallery 222 in Malvern, which is such an awesome place.
Having art in your life, and the ability for creative outlet is something I’ve always found to be important. Much like gardening, it’s just good for your head and soul.
Kevin Riordan of The Philadelphia Inquirer has this brand new article out. About development in Swarthmore. Swarthmore one of the last places with beautiful trees and not overtaken by ugly development…until now. And the players include the guy who went from zoning and planning dude in West Goshen Township to Swarthmore Borough Manager (William Webb) and the former Borough Mayor of Swarthmore and developer/builder, Bill Cumby.
I will start with not a big fan of West Goshen and West Goshen employee refugees because West Goshen just always has issues. And then there is this once a politician always a politician former mayor of Swarthmore and how can he really want to build something so out of character and out of scale in a small main street oriented community that is also home to lovely homes with terrific gardens and street trees, Swarthmore College, and Scott Arboretum? Political/personal gain? I mean you don’t want to think that, but this plan? It’s like all the bad plans for Ardmore, PA mated with Eastside Flats in Malvern Borough and The Elm in Narberth, and had an alien love child.
This proposed plan? One word: HIDEOUS.
No Swarthmore is not in Chester County. It’s in Delaware County. And Swarthmore and Media are two of my favorite Main Street small town feel towns. So yes, I am expressing my dismay. Honest, heart-felt dismay.
A local developer’s proposed condominium complex in Swarthmore would offer ready access to a SEPTA Regional Rail station as well as to shops, restaurants, and cultural amenities in the heart of the Delaware County borough.
Called 110 Park, the $30 million, five-story building would increase the town center’s population and provide Swarthmore empty-nesters an opportunity to downsize in their community. The proposal also includes 1,250 square feet of retail space and preservation of the facade and front section of the Celia Building, a Park Avenue landmark….a significant number of Swarthmore residents, including architects, preservationists, and businesspeople, say 110 Park would dwarf its low-rise surroundings, cast a literal and figurative shadow over the town center, and erode the borough’s distinctive character.
They also oppose the pending demolition of two vintage buildings and see the proposed 40-space parking garage at the complex as a potential threat to pedestrian and vehicular traffic safety….Ever since the developer, 110 Park LLC, submitted the first iteration of the proposal for review in 2021, public concerns have focused on the impact of replacing a small-town expanse of Park Avenue streetscape that includes green space with a residential building more appropriate for a city block…..The council is expected to vote on the measure on March 13.
Melanie Rodbart, one of the founders of a nonprofit called Save Our Swarthmore….is not opposed to town center development, including on Park Avenue.
“There’s a way to develop that site without razing everything on it,” said Rodbart, a structural engineer and owner of a company that specializes in historic preservation….
Incorporated in 1893 and best known as the home of Swarthmore College, the borough is an inner-ring commuter suburb of Philadelphia. It has about 6,500 residents in its 1.4 square miles and features comfortable homes on tree-lined streets named after universities.
The Cumby family has been a part of Swarthmore for generations, and Bill Cumby, a former borough mayor who owns W.S. Cumby, a Delaware County construction firm, is a partner in developing 110 Park….Prices would range from $600,000 for some one-bedrooms to $1 million and above for three-bedroom units….The controversy has alerted Swarthmore residents to what some describe as shortcomings in the borough’s development regulations. Although none of the buildings to be demolished or altered as part of the 110 Park project are on registries of historic places, the 100 block of Park Avenue is eligible to be declared a historic district but has not been proposed as such.
So Bill, Will, Willy, whatever you go by Webb are you actually LISTENING to your Swarthmore residents, the people whose taxes pay your salary? Because if you were listening you would know what the temperature is on this project.
Now Swarthmore has a big old page on their website devoted to this hideous project: CLICK HERE.
Some company called Bernardon has design plan things on their website: CLICK HERE.
Developer and former mayor guy has a website for his proposed project: CLICK HERE. He is heavy on the hype to get monster Lego land approved in my humble opinion.
Residents have banded together. Their group is SOS or Save Our Swarthmore. They seemed to have one of my favorite land use lawyers and former Lower Merion Commissioners assisting them. Phillip Rosenzweig, Esq. (Now for those of you reading, yes indeed this is indeed one of the land use lawyers I talk about as being AMAZING. He is also the guy that wrote that piece of fabulousness that ended eminent domain for private gain in Ardmore, PA when he first became a commissioner. And no, he is not a commissioner now, which is a shame for Lower Merion.) Here’s something off the SOS site he penned regarding this hot mess of a proposal for Swarthmore:
Swarthmorians fight for your town. Human scale matters. Fitting the existing landscape matters. You have an old school main street oriented town. It should be a historic district. Learn from the mistakes of other towns. Preserve what you have. I find it completely appalling that someone who once was an elected official and lives in Swarthmore thinks this is right for the character of your town. I am allowed to have that opinion. I feel for you guys. I applaud your efforts.
On Tuesday, I’ve been put on this lady’s front page (swipe left) to see page. Surprise , I’m either the last one or never heard before . Batching my name and my character for something that could have a civil matter with parties involved. Instead, they made it criminal. Where there are some much far worst things in this neighborhood that are being kept (under the radar)”ushhh”
But I became their pray. NO ONE I mean NO ONE cares to ask me what’s my side of the story.
This story will go much farther I promise you. I will get many people involved with (Facts, receipts, emails, texts, etc..)
Stay tuned to hear my side of the story very soon!
I am astounded. This is so ugly. A second day of she was wronged, but no explanation as to how that happened or did I miss something?
Where did Savvy Main Line go wrong? By reporting what happened? Public court dockets? Court dockets of a person who made themselves a PUBLIC FIGURE vis à vis somewhat shameless self promotion? Oh and that’s opinion, covered under the First Amendment, much like Caroline O’ Halloran as a journalist.
What did the article get wrong? Or is it more like the article got it right and this is a diversion so the public doesn’t peek behind the wizard’s curtain and see that it’s not all glam and designer?
Are the police lying? Is she saying Radnor Township Police got it all wrong?
How was the Savvy article or what has been said racist exactly? The answer is this has NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE AND NEVER HAS. This is about right and wrong. Doing the right thing. Paying your rent, paying your suppliers, paying others who did work for you? HOW IS THIS REMOTELY RACIAL IN NATURE? It kind of begs the question of if this person herself is behaving in a racist manner because the person who wrote the story she doesn’t like is a different race than she is?
Is this just a cancel culture attempt?
Do you know who Caroline O’Halloran is to me? She is a woman who bore witness to me ringing the bell after breast cancer treatment. That is who she is. And she is a gifted writer who was all fine and dandy to this person when they were giving a nice positive review of the now closed store when it opened, right?
*Also Note* The post at opening of this post keeps changing. It was recently edited again and will show version that opened post and edited version. What is up with editing? Is what happened supposedly one person’s fault as in OTHER than the boutique owner?
Yet another version she corrected because of the fact she used a certain word:
Below is the link to the Savvy Main Line Article. Read it for yourselves. I am sorry if anyone is disappointed that I think calling the race card here is out of bounds. Racism is a terrible, horrible thing. But to weaponize it, just is not right.
Hillary White Jean wafted into Wayne on a cloud of luxury perfume, designer heels, extravagant cars and personal charm.
Sixteen months later, her splashy store, JWH Boutique, departed in the December darkness, leaving a string of angry landlords, fashion vendors and small business owners in her wake.
Court and police records show that Jean:
has declared bankruptcy five times in three states since 2011, most recently on Jan. 30 of this year.
has been repeatedly sued for alleged nonpayment of bills and has had at least four court judgments entered against her since 2021.
has been arrested three times since arriving in Wayne: twice last summer for passing fraudulent checks and once three weeks ago for witness intimidation, harassment and other charges at her preliminary criminal hearing before Radnor District Judge Leon Hunter. The Delaware County DA and Radnor and Newtown police have all confirmed ongoing investigations of Jean.
To the public, she was a smart businesswoman, a former hairdresser from Haiti with a sharp eye for style and a winning personality who worked hard for the designer clothes she wore and the Range Rover she drove.
Jean marketed herself as both “the first black business owner in Wayne” and a fashion pioneer who was upping the Main Line’s style game. “We’re bringing Rodeo Drive to the Main Line,” she once told SAVVY with a 100-watt smile.
Everyone and everything in Jean’s orbit looked the part. Her clothes were chic, her stores were sleek, her website polished.
And the media lapped it up.
She ran prominent ads for a year in Philadelphia Style, including a pricey full-page spotlight as a “Dynamic Woman” of 2022.
She made the rounds of TV news shows and newsmagazines.
And she threw showy shindigs, most notably last fall’s “Cocktails and Fabulosity” party to celebrate the opening of her second Wayne location. The e-vite asked guests to “dress to impress;” she hired a “Real Housewife of NYC” to up the glam factor….But court and police records and our interviews with multiple sources reveal a woman who repeatedly changed names, addresses and businesses and stiffed people and companies whose fashions she sold, whose space she rented, and whose services she engaged.
In the last two years, Hillary White Jean has opened and closed three stores: Lady M Boutique (M was for millionaire) in Glen Mills, HJ Boutique at 106 E. Lancaster Ave. in Wayne (now the home of Wheelhouse Cards) and JWH Boutique at 209 E. Lancaster Ave. at the former Mattress Factory/Tehrani Rug Co. building, also in Wayne….according to her Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy filing on January 30, 2023, she owes nearly $476,280.42 to her first Wayne landlord, School Lane Holdings Co., with whom she signed a five-year lease with a personal guarantee, and $67,103.42 to her second Wayne landlords, Reuben, Benjamin and Youda Tehrani….Perhaps Jean’s most high-profile alleged victim is the Philadelphia-based fashion designer, Nancy Volpe Beringer, a 2022 Fashion Group International “Rising Star” who made history as a finalist on Bravo TV’s “Project Runway” at age 64.
So the very active social media accounts, especially Instagram are disappearing faster than a politician under indictment. I will note that the next stop for this designing woman, or this woman that have designs on OPM based on the Savvy Spectacular. So I will post all of those. But first here’s a screenshot from somebody who really must not like this person very much:
Yes, Hillary Jean Crook is a Facebook page. Not much to it other than that screenshot above.
So something else worth mentioning is the next stop for this woman was supposed to be a store in the Hamptons. Now the baby Instagram page disappeared – this is what I snapped before it disappeared:
So, without further ado, here are the screenshots I grabbed. Accounts and related accounts. this whole thing just blows my mind.
Well it really and truly IS a bring the popcorn week in Chester County, PA. Yesterday a friend texted me and said they just saw a teaser on 6 ABC about am interior design firm in East Whiteland. I though to myself, “could it be?” and sure enough it was! M. Kaplan Interiors right on Lancaster Ave in Frazer. They call it Malvern, but it’s Frazer.
MALVERN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — Criminal charges have been filed against the owner of an interior design and furniture company on the Main Line.
This comes after an Action News Troubleshooters investigation led by our Nydia Han who talked to consumers and East Whiteland Township police.
The Troubleshooters began investigating after multiple consumers reached out to us about M. Kaplan Interiors, a husband and wife team with a storefront on Lancaster Avenue in Malvern, Chester County.
On Thursday, Matt Kaplan was charged with crimes that include theft by deception as well as fraudulent business practices, and a warrant was issued for his arrest….The criminal complaint filed Thursday is on behalf of Kerr and three other customers whose allegations are very similar.
The East Whiteland Township police detective wrote in the arrest warrant, “Matthew Kaplan knew he was unable to honor the sales agreements he entered into with the above four victims yet he took their money.”
Remember it is best to pay for big purchases with a credit card and not to pay in full, upfront.
I went in there ONCE. It was to look for a sofa for our then new house. The woman inside was rude. I left. I found an antique sofa at then Resellers which I liked better and they were nice enough to do a local delivery. I found out later that was wife of husband and wife who run the joint. I reupholstered the sofa and it sits in my living room today.
I am not an interior designer or interior design showroom person by nature. Occasionally I have visited these places over the years, but except for Sheffield right in Malvern Borough, I have never found the people who work in these places well particularly friendly. Friendly at furniture stores, but showrooms? Meh.
A couple of years ago, a friend had a bad experience. She had to persist and persist and finally visit with her spouse to get a refund. Other friends had similar tales of no credit cards, only cash or check and husband was pleasant, wife who is the “designer” not so much.
I had actually wondered if they were actually still open recently. Every time I drove by there were no cars except for the occasional car parked crookedly that I figured belonged to an employee or owner.
I went and perused reviews today:
I also perused court dockets. It makes you wonder how they have stayed open so long? Here is the current docket mentioned on the news:
Thursday was also a bad day for Matt Kaplan, owner of M. Kaplan Interiors, a furniture store and interior design company in Malvern. The 15-second version is that the store took thousands of dollars from customers for pricey furniture that never materialized. According to 6ABC investigative reporter Nydia Han, Kaplan claims he didn’t do anything wrong and blamed the whole thing on supply chain issues. The Chester County District Attorney’s office would seem to disagree, since the office charged Kaplan on Thursday with 16 felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property, and deceptive business practices.
Oh, I also think they go by a second business name or it is related somehow? See screen shots below.
If you are someone who had unpleasant dealings with this company and they owe you goods/services/money, please contact East Whiteland Township Police Department. Email is email@example.com or call 610-897-4262. This is an active criminal investigation.
It was weird in a way going back now as a veritable stranger to a place I spent so much time in for so many years. So much has changed and I don’t necessarily feel it has changed for the better.
Ardmore needs more….love. And positive municipal attention.
In my prior post, I wrote about the condition of the sidewalks and streets in Ardmore, and the roads in general throughout Lower Merion Township. The roads are in deplorable condition. It’s like they are growing orange highway cones as a cash crop in places, and in other places, holes and what not are just waiting to trip people up. And when I asked a couple of people about it, they all say the same thing that they report these things to the township but nothing happens. It makes you wonder what former West Chester Borough Manager and current Lower Merion Township Manager Ernie McNeely does besides fall asleep at meetings, where they are talking about the police, right?
And when it comes to managers, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of the manager who proceeded Ernie McNeely, but somehow Lower Merion seems worse than when I moved? I remember when my friends from West Chester heard that McNeely was going to Lower Merion and they just laughed and laughed and laughed and said “good luck to them!”
I guess now I know why, because Lower Merion looks like crap in their business districts. There might be tons of new places to eat, but nobody leaves their lights on much anymore except for stores that have been there long enough to know it makes a difference, the streets are dirty and broken up. There’s a lot of trash. Especially in Ardmore.
Ardmore used to be different and you could feel an energy. And most importantly, people knew one another. You would hear people saying hello to each other going past each other on the street. last night for the first time on a Saturday night, I didn’t hear that. And I also noticed that in spite of all the dining choices it’s like people go early to eat, and they just leave. By like 9 o’clock-ish when we left the restaurant, it was a ghost town.
We met at my friend Sherry’s store, Past*Present*Future. As well as being one of my most favorite and cherished friends, her store is always one of my favorite places to visit. And more people should discover the wonderful treasures inside. (hint to my lovely Savvy lady- have you ever interviewed her and visited?)
Past*Present*Future was one of the few non-food establishments with good lighting. The other was the Junior League Thrift Shop, which had some wonderful window displays as well. There was a salon that had some lights on with one guy sitting there inside. But these places being lit made an enormous difference, especially since the township has broken sidewalks and stuff in front of some of these places and bricks all up out of where the street trees are….and as much as anything else, keeping the stores lit, reduces the chance of somebody tripping and possibly falling.
The other thing about these two stores with lights is when we first got to Ardmore, these were the stores where people were actually looking in the windows of. And that’s the thing, people used to look in the windows more. You don’t have the people that stroll. Now it was cold last night, but it wasn’t unpleasant walking.
SEPTA also has moved a train platform to behind Past*Present*Future and Merion Art and Repro since I lived there. I guess it’s part of the station makeover? You can see a little SEPTA sign in my photos. So what I wonder is why haven’t they (SEPTA) paid to light that alley and parking lot people have to cross to get to platform better when it’s dark? And the configuration they created in the back for the platform affects the limited parking that a lot of Ardmore merchants desperately need on that side of Lancaster. It’s kind of surprising that SEPTA can’t do a better job around there, right? And after all Leslie Richards head of SEPTA is very familiar with Ardmore because she spent enough time campaigning during events when she wanted to be county commissioner, didn’t she?
And the trash. Can I talk about the trash on the sidewalks again? Or the trash cans that needed to be emptied that are Township trash cans? Does no one get that people notice these things? And I think one of the things about the trash is people in general have gotten worse since COVID. It started with all the disposable masks and even disposable gloves just chucked on the ground. I think people in general are just littering more and it doesn’t help when trashcans aren’t emptied enough in business districts and shopping centers. Gateway Shopping Center has trash issues too in Tredyffrin. (but I digress.)
Which brings me to the Ardmore Initiative. It’s a marvel they were renewed. They are supposed to be all about the business district and even their own front stoop looks like crap. If their job is to make Ardmore look good and help the business district why isn’t there attention paid to the little things that help businesses? I was thinking of Borough, and even West Chester Borough when I was in Ardmore last night. All of these main street oriented municipalities are struggling through the same economic uncertainties, yet Malvern and West Chester just seem so much more alive and Malvern doesn’t even have the number of stores or restaurants that Ardmore does!
Quite literally the Ardmore which the Ardmore Initiative features on their website doesn’t look like what I saw last night and it makes me sad.
It was like the lights under the bridge tunnel entering Ardmore? The tunnel was dark last night, so what happened to those expensive lights?
So if there’s this business district authority, and it costs people to belong to it whether they want to or not because it’s kind of like a tax /assessment thing, what are they doing for the businesses and people in Ardmore? The last Executive Director who took over when the one which preceded her who got sick, literally worked her ass off and no matter what you thought of the Ardmore Initiative, it showed. Not the same now at all.
I just looked up the Ardmore Initiative website today and they have MORE people working and what do they do? Ardmore has enough in the dining arena that it should have more vibrancy at night and it does not. And there also aren’t as many stores where you can look in the windows, which is pretty basic for a main street business district to make people want to stay and poke around.
But then again, people always said Ardmore’s biggest problem was that Lower Merion Township was headquartered in it. Also what ails Ardmore will not be solved by more infill development. You can’t artificially manufacture energy. Elbow grease and a certain mindset goes into that. Ardmore still deserves better.
Now where we went and where we ate, which was terrific, and why I think Ardmore deserves better once again. We started out at Matatawny Still Works Ardmore tasting room. We buy their whiskeys sometimes now, but I had never been to one of their tasting rooms. It is a really cool space and a fun vibe and they had great music on so a couple of people did a whiskey tasting and I had this amazing spiked apple cider, which was just the thing to warm you up on a chilly night. And the fun thing about this place is you can bring takeout dinners into there and eat while you do a whiskey tasting.
From there, since we already had a parking spot, we headed to Cricket Avenue for dinner. We passed Buena Vista which we go to in Lincoln Court Shopping Center which was packed in Ardmore and Maido the Japanese grocery store which is so cool.
Crossing Lancaster Ave there at Anderson Avenue in Ardmore has not improved since people still don’t pay attention to pedestrians crossing correctly at the lights. Oh, and people still blow that light headed east on Lancaster which begs the question of the police station is right there, so you would think traffic would be better, right? Especially if Lower Merion wants to persist in their pedestrian walkability fantasy?
So on Cricket Avenue I still miss MilkBoy Coffee on the corner. Sorry but pucciManuli doesn’t do it for me and I had a friend tell me recently that they wanted to go in there for a gift and had to be buzzed in, the door wasn’t just open during business hours. I tried to patronize them a bunch of years ago, even before they were at that location and I just found them overpriced. And I love handmade and better quality things, but their prices? Meh.
I will admit that I still think that 1 Ardmore Place is super ugly. For those of you who grew up around Ardmore, these apartments are on the parking lot that used to exist for the old movie theater, which also does not exist anymore . I still hate the design aesthetic of this building, and it totally doesn’t fit in with the area.
We had dinner at Nam Phuong Bistro on Cricket Avenue. They have really wonderful Vietnamese cuisine. It was a terrific meal and I would go back again. I will caution people they don’t have much staff so you have to be prepared to be patient but the people who work there couldn’t be nicer. Their spring rolls were awesome and they also do softshell crabs which is one of my favorite things and they were fabulous. The prices were good and it’s one of those places that I had such a good meal. I forgot to take pictures of the food!
That was the end of my Ardmore re-entry adventure and we headed our way back home to Chester County. Walking back up Cricket. I was glad to see McCloskey’s had a good crowd, and looked as cheerful as ever. One thing that bummed me out, though is there is no more Marjorie Schneider Antiquary. I loved that store and used to love looking in the windows from the time I was young. She had wonderful antiques!
Before we went home, we drove around Ardmore a little bit, and I hadn’t been down some of the streets I used to walk on regularly for years. I came to the conclusion, however, that as much as I miss a lot of my friends down there, I do not miss Lower Merion at all. I think it is probably because the area I grew up in still exists because a lot of the buildings and people are still there, but it has lost so much of what made it very special. It has lost a feeling.
And seeing Ardmore with finally new restaurant destinations but no foot traffic and vibrancy on a Saturday night made me just shake my head. As I said earlier, Ardmore was one of those places where people would say hello to each other on the street as they passed by. Now there is this more transient nature, and a lot of that I think has to do with the infill development. The rental price points, like many other places, are off the charts, so people come, but they don’t stay.
I know this is kind of a mixed review of a visit to a place that I just loved so much once upon a time, but it just really disappoints me that Lower Merion Township just doesn’t really seem to give a crap about the Ardmore Historic Business District, even worse than before. What did we save Ardmore from when we stopped eminent domain for private gain years ago?
Small businesses need a lot of local love. If you are from outside Lower Merion, show Ardmore some love.
If we don’t support small businesses, they cease to exist and we are stuck with homogeneous box stores and chains. And if you live in Lower Merion Township still, I encourage people to stand up and not only demand a better police department but better township management and elected officials. What I saw last night wasn’t “first class” it was “We don’t care, just shut up and pay your taxes.”
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it starts with baby steps and standing up and caring. Use social media to show why Lower Merion needs to do better on so many fronts. It’s also time to question why the Ardmore Initiative exists. They obviously aren’t living up to their mission statement which of course also begs the question of do they deserve their non-profit status?
Discover something new in Main Street towns like Ardmore, and even West Chester and Malvern Borough. Discover what makes them tick. And if you don’t like something a municipality would be responsible for, hold local government accountable, don’t take it out on the small businesses.
I was in Ardmore again for the first time in a very long time. There are lots of dining options and other things to look at, but the streets are broken and filthy.
The roadways themselves are broken and rutted and it’s hard to imagine a township with so much money and bravado can’t seem to see the ruts and potholes.
So here I was back in Ardmore, where the actual township building is located, in the Historic Ardmore Business District with a business improvement improvement district called the Ardmore Initiative and let’s talk about the god damn sidewalks in what they like to call “the Main Street” of the Main Line. They are deplorable and dangerous. But hey, they can keep deluding themselves, right?
The sidewalks are badly broken in too many places, so I wonder if this is an odd metaphor for the state of Lower Merion Township itself? And it’s February so why are the holiday snowflakes still up?
Many years ago many of us fought to save the Historic Ardmore Business District. I am not sure what we saved Ardmore for. It’s so wrong.
Wake up media, you have stories unfolding requiring immediate attention. The same can be said for residents in two Chester County school districts and on Delaware County school district.
I actually have mixed emotions at this juncture about charter schools. When our son was in school, it was a God send due to bullying issues that were not being dealt with in public school as well as the fact we had serious issues when he was in an elementary school that was supposed to be one of the best and in some cases, there were NO books for subjects like history. We sent him to Renaissance Academy Charter School in Phoenixville. There were ups and downs as is the case with any school, but it was a good experience, and they placed a high percentage of kids in great schools. IT still is an academic alternative that I think is serving 20 or 21 school districts at this point.
But now I am starting to look at charter schools with different eyes. Because of the new kids coming to the table in 2023. Specifically in WCASD (West Chester Area School District) and RTSD (Radnor Township School District). And the one for RTSD will also involve TESD (Tredyffrin Easttown School District.)
I will start with WCASD because that is where a charter school that is kind of coming on a stealth basis. Valley Forge Classical Academy Charter School. They say they have non-profit status, only it’s a little hard to find anything, not even a website announcing who they are, their board of directors, etc. They do have a Facebook page and please note how they get their jollies, making it quite clear what they are about:
First up? A fundraiser has been established on Give Send GO:
Would you like to be part of a success story? Valley Forge Classical Academy Charter School in Exton, PA will be just that! We will provide a traditional classical liberal education for each and every child.
The liberal arts in particular and liberal education in general are the surest, most time-tested way to direct students toward a life that is truly free. Our rigorous K-12 curriculum is content-rich, balanced, and strong, with an emphasis upon the four core disciplines of math, science, literature, and history, and attention to music, art, physical education, and foreign languages. In addition, we believe that by training students in the moral, intellectual, and civic virtues we are equipping them to live well-ordered lives as human beings and as citizens.
Your donation will provide funds to ensure a successful application and start-up of our LICENSED HILLSDALE COLLEGE K12 school in the Exton, PA area. ALL DONATIONS GO DIRECTLY TOWARDS THE START UP COSTS OF THE SCHOOL. Attorney’s fees, administrative and marketing costs, website design, office rental, postage and other miscellaneous fees will be covered. All board members are VOLUNTEERS. We will open a K-8 program in the Fall of 2024 and add a grade level each year until we have our first graduating class, the Class of 2028.
For more information on the Hillsdale College K12 program, click on this link:
Come and meet members of the board and learn about a classical education. Valley Forge Classical Academy Charter School is slated to open in the Fall of 2024 for K-8 students. Each year we will add one year of our high school program and graduate our first class in 2030!
Seems lot o’ stuff happens at 21 Hagerty Blvd in West Chester in as far as certain political based gatherings? So this would be a charter school in WCASD BUT will it meet the requirements of public schools? This school tried before didn’t they? Or is this another proposed school with some of the same players?
Does West Whiteland know about this since they seem as if they are looking at property in West Whiteland? Get out the #popcorn because the Stepford Mommies for Totalitarianism will want this school and like their behavior in school districts will want the taxpayers paying for this too. I will say honestly, that the lady running the fundraiser? Has a lot of charter school experience, so she is sharp.
Now back to Radnor Township School District. And people in Tredyffrin Easttown School District need to pay attention because this is a charter school being proposed at Valley Forge Military Academy and College’s campus, which straddles a couple of municipalities and counties, doesn’t it? And who exactly recruited this school to Valley Forge’s campus? Was it in fact Valley Forge Military School and College which as we know got rejected on their own application prior to this one?
I first bought you the odd tale of Radnor and Pennsylvania Military Charter School at Valley Forge on December 15th, 2022:
Then the Philadelphia had a whopper of an article on Christmas Eve. My late father always said big news sneaks in on weekends and holidays and not enough people pay attention.
Supporters are trying again to open a military-themed charter school on the grounds of Valley Forge Military Academy and College, despite a denial from the Radnor school board last year.
Unlike the previous proposal — which was put forward by the military academy and which Radnor rejected as an apparent effort “to subsidize VFMA and make VFMA available to students through the use of public funds” — the latest application is being advanced by backers with no formal ties to the Main Line private school, including a recently retired Republican state senator and a former head of a charter school advocacy group. The chairman of the proposed charter’s board said it would be a “marriage made in heaven.”
In the latest proposal, Pennsylvania Military Charter School would still rent facilities from VFMA — paying $3 million a year, according to its application to Radnor, compared with $500,000 in the proposal rejected in May 2021…..The new charter application is supported by a charter school management company that started in Arizona and now runs schools in states including Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina.
The company, Charter One, initiated the latest application, said Joshua Johnson, the chair of the board for the proposed charter, which is now pending before the Radnor and Tredyffrin/Easttown school boards.
A retired U.S. Army Green Beret who now works for a leadership development firm, Johnson, who lives in Carlisle, said he was contacted by Charter One to serve on the board.
“We think there’s still a need … to have an alternative to a traditional school that’s based on military school principles, but doesn’t fall into that boarding school category,” Johnson said in an interview, adding that some parents “can’t necessarily afford the tuition Valley Forge charges.”
Unlike VFMA — which costs $39,000 for boarding students, and $24,000 for day students — the charter would be free to attend. Charter schools are publicly funded; in Pennsylvania, school districts pay charters based on the number of enrolled students and what the district spends per child.
Pennsylvania Military Charter says it would enroll 975 students from kindergarten through 12th grade — about four times as many students as are currently on the campus. The boys-only academy enrolls about 140 students in grades 7 through 12, while 80 more are enrolled at the military college, according to school officials….The charter’s $17 million budget includes $1 million for an educational service provider fee; that money would go to Charter One for professional services and operational supports, Johnson said.
According to the charter’s application, the fee would also cover an “aggressive” marketing plan to potential students, including paid social media advertisements and direct mail.
Among those who have also agreed to serve on the charter’s board are recently retired State Sen. Bob Mensch, a Republican who didn’t seek reelection, and Lenny McAllister, a senior fellow with the conservative Commonwealth Foundation who previously was CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools.
Following Johnson’s presentation to the Radnor board, the lone public comment came from a woman who questioned why the charter hadn’t included gender identity or sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy; whether gay or lesbian students would be welcome; and what plans the school had to avoid hazing and abuse. (In rejecting the previous charter proposal, the Radnor board had said VFMA failed to adequately address community concerns about abuse allegations at its school.)
“Respect for persons is absolutely one of the things we’re going to drive,” Johnson said. “But when it comes to gender identification, it will be our policy that the gender and name on the birth certificate is how they’re going to be addressed at our school.”
SO….has Tredyffrin Easttown School District (TESD) scheduled their hearing yet? Here is the entirety of the January 17th Radnor School Board Meeting:
Here are 3 smaller videos which pulls out some crucial public comment:
This all gives me pause. Essentially, I have to ask if these people wanting to start charter schools which all supposedly have Pennsylvania non profits but will really be run by entities in other states should even be allowed to open charter schools in Pennsylvania?
And of course, then you have to wonder how they will deal with what public schools are required to have and do have as far as the many complicated issues facing public schools? And will they be fair and equal and non discriminatory in all areas including sexual and gender identity? And why should people have to watch their tax dollars get siphoned off for schools started by people who have so many issues with public schools that haven’t been upheld by the courts over the past few years? Gender/sexual identity, books they don’t like, masking, vaccines, etc.? Why are taxpayers supposed to pay for their peculiarities?
Truly if you have time, watch and listen to the recent Radnor meeting. And remember that is not just a concern to residents in the Radnor Township School District service area in Radnor Township Delaware County but also in Tredyffrin Easttown School District in Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships in Chester County. Interesting things include a website possibly intimating approval – https://www.military.academy/valley-forge when they are far, far from it. They do not seem to have a business plan but they have plans for a course of study called ethical hacking. And as this hearing goes on , the charter presenters seem to become well, combative and uneasy.
With both of these proposed charter schools there seem to be many troubling questions, sadly. Here’s hoping the media steps up and really digs in.
Again, in conclusion, I am not against charter schools in the least. But these two give me pause. Also is there really a need for their brand of charter?