respect for old glory?

I remember when I was young flags would not be flown in inclement weather like today in the rain.

Flags would be lowered at dusk and they would be flown again at dawn.

I get that most flags today are made of nylon or weatherproof material, but what I don’t get is Old Glory respected the same?

This photo represents but one flag I saw today when my husband and I were driving around. I saw lots of flags flying in the rain. And I think even if flags are made of more all weather material these days the respect for the flag should still mean something.

I guess it’s just one of those things I’ve noticed where it used to be once in a while in bad weather you would still see a flag flying. Today if it’s bad weather? They’re all still flying for the most part.

I guess I simply feel that our flag is a symbol of our country and what it means to be American. The flag is a symbol worth respecting and revering, so I guess I’m asking if people are going to fly the flag can’t you bring it in when you know it’s going to rain? Can’t you bring it in at dusk?

I presume that like many other things in this world, flag etiquette has changed. I think that’s kind of sad.

Stay safe and dry today.

“roundabout” we go in east whiteland and east goshen looking for answers…that don’t add up to eminent domain….

aerial

Roundabouts. That is PennDOT new speak for traffic circles.   I know, I know I have been writing about this a lot on this blog. Most recently at the beginning of this month (October, 2019) That is when East Whiteland and East Goshen released a letter they received from PennDOT September 30:

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At that time I said  September 30th was Monday, so why has it taken this long for the people to be notified and have they even notified the potentially affected residents? I marvel that PennDOT dated the letter September 23rd and it took until September 30th to be received? DO they not also send an electronic copy?

PennDOT needs to define “minor construction” and does that mean any eminent domain land takings?

PennDOT will do this project when exactly and how long will it take?

And if PennDOT was offering to meet with both townships, I suggested that when that occured the most directly affected homeowners should be present with whatever representation they so chose to be with them.

Well guess what? According to residents I know (directly affected in fact) the meeting DID take place. And East Whiteland Towsnhip verified this on October 15 when they said on their websiteOn September 30, East Whiteland and East Goshen Townships received a letter from PennDOT regarding its recommendations for the Route 352 and King Road intersection.

The Townships recently met with PennDOT to discuss those recommendations. No decisions as to road improvements have been made, but the Townships agreed to update traffic counts along the roads and expect to continue discussions with PennDOT when those studies are completed.

Please note who was missing at said meeting with PennDOT. Yup, you’ve got it, the potentially affected residents.

When they received the news these residents (my extended neighbors) replied to East Whiteland very politely but firmly:

Thanks for keeping us in the loop and for pushing back on PennDOT’s recommendations.

That said, while we appreciate that you may be hesitant to proceed with the only two options PennDOT is permitting (a roundabout or making the roads perpendicular), we still have much to talk about. Will you share why the townships are willing to pay for new traffic counts, what the townships think are the existing problems that must be fixed and what is your goal?

It is my understanding that the various justifications the township has presented have been adequately debunked. It started with cut through traffic, then law breaking cut through traffic, then rush hour delays, then unjustified future traffic predictions, and eventually it morphed to safety. Now, it seems like rush hour delays may be the leading reason again. Or, is this all just a means to mask future plans for over-development? Whatever the reason, it is concerning and very disappointing that the township hasn’t ruled out eminent domain given the community feedback as well as an overwhelming evidence contradicting those justifications.

If the township still feels adequate justification exists and cares about the affected residents, you will help us to understand those justifications. We don’t need to wait for new counts.

If people were dying in the intersection, bad accidents were above “normal” or traffic was backed up frequently enough that it was unpleasant for those of us who actually live here, we would understand (or move). However, these conditions absolutely do not exist. We live here because we want to. If you plan to take our land, destroy our properties, reduce our quality of life, eliminate our privacy and reduce our safety by making the traffic move faster and closer to our homes, we need to understand and accept your justifications or we will fight you to the bitter end.

Finally, can we audit the new counting process when it occurs? Or can we be involved in hiring the firm to perform the counts? Given the conflicts of interest identified with McMahon and the weakness of their presentation, the legitimacy of any further data they present will be called into question.

Subsequent email letters went to PennDOT (three times) from directly affected residents and as they can be obtained on a Right To Know Request, I am publishing them now.

Here is the first letter:

From: Tom Stuart
Sent: Wednesday, October 2, 2019 11:28 AM
To: ASHPATEL@pa.gov
Cc: Sue Drummond <sdrummond@eastwhiteland.org>; Rich Orlow <rorlow@eastwhiteland.org>; ‘slambert@eastwhiteland.org‘ <slambert@eastwhiteland.org>; 
Subject: Eminent Domain Taking @ King & 352

Dear Mr. Patel:

I read your September 23, 2019 response to East Whiteland and East Goshen Townships regarding the intersection of Sproul (S.R. 0352) and King Road (S.R. 2022).

In your first paragraph you cite an increase in traffic volumes as the justification for a solution requiring eminent domain taking.  A solution that “must be advanced for eventual implementation within a reasonable timeframe.”

Given your solution will destroy homes, privacy, safety and home values (for which payment alone will not cure), are you basing your recommendation on the two traffic reports prepared by McMahon & Assoc in 2005 and 2016?  Or, do you have some other traffic volume data that you can share?

It is my understanding that both McMahon studies were performed for just (2) one-hour periods during peak traffic periods in 2005 and 2016, respectively.  Further, while I am not currently able to locate the 2005 report to confirm, I was informed by an EG township official that there was very little traffic volume increase measured at the intersection between 2005 and 2016.  If this is true, then what “increase in traffic volumes” are your referring to?  Is it based on only future predictions?  Please quantify.

My wife and I have lived at the intersection for over 20 years. (I purchased the home on December 31, 1996.) Our home literally faces the center of the intersection.  Based on my extensive experience, I vehemently disagree with the premise that there is a volume problem that must be resolved.  You may consider my opinion biased because the widening and tree/brush removal will eliminate all of the privacy I have spent 10s of thousands of dollars (and a couple decades) to build up, it will dramatically reduce my safety (I can provide more details), and moving me closer to the intersection will destroy my property value.

That said, don’t take it from me.  At the June 5, 2019 meeting at Immaculata, I surveyed an audience full of 100+ township residents by asking, “Who thinks delays are the primary problem at the intersection?” Exactly zero people raised their hands.  (https://bit.ly/2oueoGQ:  Time Stamp: 1:50:10)  

So, while your recommendations may be suitable if there were a traffic delay problem at the intersection, the township residents do not agree with the premise under which you have proposed a solution.

So, if PennDOT will not support a permanent, signal-only solution to help address the left turn issues from 352, does PennDOT support a “do nothing” approach?  It was not entirely clear whether you were recommending or requiring your “comprehensive” eminent domain taking solution.  This is an important detail.  Please clarify.

Best Regards,

Tom Stuart

Here is the second letter:

From: Tom Stuart
Sent: Thursday, October 3, 2019 3:37 PM
To: ASHPATEL@pa.gov
Cc: Sue Drummond <sdrummond@eastwhiteland.org>; Rich Orlow <rorlow@eastwhiteland.org>; ‘slambert@eastwhiteland.org’ <slambert@eastwhiteland.org>; ‘rsmith@eastgoshen.org’ <rsmith@eastgoshen.org>; John Nagel <jnagel@eastwhiteland.org>
Subject: RE: Eminent Domain Taking @ King & 352 – *** Major Safety Concern ***

Dear Mr. Patel,

I have a critical safety concern regarding your suggestion to enable King Rd traffic to drive head on through the 352 intersection at the same time (“in exchange” for split phasing on 352.)

First, do you have a sketch or diagram of the revised intersection layout you are proposing?

I have driven up and down King Rd through the intersection a few times since I read your letter—including in the pitch dark last night. I wanted to get a feel for and imagine the shifted sight lines you are proposing (if the township proceeds with a 2-phased approach.) I imagined it with the westbound King Rd lane being re-located southward by about 1 lane width.

Given that the westbound approach rises slightly to the intersection and the eastbound approach rises significantly, you are inviting a full-speed, head on collision by letting that traffic flow at the same time and at full speed with such limited visibility.

Even if your plan includes destroying a half dozen or so properties by removing all of our privacy and safety providing trees and shrubs, safe sight lines simply do not exist with the current (or the slightly modified) geometry.

As you may or may not be aware, the left turns from 352 are not a major safety hazard now. They are more of an inefficiency and annoyance. The resulting accidents from those turns tend to be low speed fender benders… not head on and certainly not at full speed. The worst symptoms are frustrated drivers honking and cursing.

For this reason, I believe that switching the split phasing from King Rd to 352 as you propose (in part 1 of your 2-phased approach) will make the intersection considerably less safe.

Incidentally, there is a similarly shaped intersection geometry where Paoli Pike meets route 30 in Paoli. The sight lines are MUCH better there because it’s more level. However, in the mid to late 1980s (before the lights were changed to include a protected left turn phase from 30) there was a head on collision that occurred with so much force the driver’s heart detached from all of her arteries. So, unless you and the township want to be directly responsible for introducing fatalities to the intersection, I suggest you withdraw or amend that portion of your recommendation.

If you have any feedback defending what you proposed, I’d be interested to hear it—especially because the townships will likely heed your input more than mine.

I urge the townships to respond to this concern as well.

Best Regards,
Tom Stuart

And here is the third letter:

Tom Stuart 
Thu, Oct 17, 8:21 PM (12 hours ago)
to ASHPATEL@pa.gov, Sue, Rich, slambert@eastwhiteland.org, rsmith@eastgoshen.org, John, Christie, benpoe4@juno.com, TINA, Timothy, Christine, Zeek747, me, Ted

Dear Mr. Patel,

I gather from your lack of response to my previous emails (and because the residents were not invited to recent closed-door meeting) that you do not intend to respond to me. The important part is that I have raised my safety concern, you saw it, the townships saw it and it’s now part of the public record.

I would like to draw your attention to a few more critical issues I have identified in your letter of Sept 23 to the townships:

Your suggestion (2e) indicates that signal upgrades could better detect traffic. Obviously, this means reducing delays without any negative impact on safety or otherwise. If PennDOT thinks traffic delays are a problem, why would this not be your recommended solution as a first and immediate phase? Why wasn’t this recommended and implemented years ago? You go on to state that this improvement would not be approved by PennDOT unless the township also agree to take land from local residents in “a reasonable timeframe”. This is outrageous and extremely upsetting. Is this how PennDOT operates– with a complete and total disregard for residents’ homes and properties not to mention a disregard for common sense and unnecessary expenditures?
One of your suggestions is to clear the vegetation through the intersection along King Rd to improve visibility (2c). When it comes to the goal of improving safety, this applies not only to the drivers but also to pedestrians and residents, I assume. As Senior Manager of Traffic Engineering and Safety Division, you must be aware that trees and shrubs create a safety barrier between the traffic and the residents when they must co-exist in close proximity. Tearing them down, as you propose, reduces safety for residents (and pedestrians).
You state that that safety is the department’s primary goal. Yet, you directly contradict this statement with your proposed solutions. If safety is the primary goal, a safety improvement like enhanced traffic detection and painted lines (as you suggest in 2f) could be implemented now. (Or, years ago.) In fact, if safety were the primary goal, a safety improvement such as signal phasing on 352 could be delivered even if it came at the expense of added delays. Your proposals not only fail to make safety the primary consideration, you go so far as to suggest that signal-only safety improvements to 352 traffic can only be delivered if the township agrees to reduce safety on King Rd by letting it drive head on, simultaneously. Local residents would likely agree with me that this could be a net reduction in safety. The reality is that the goal of your proposal appears to be: reduce delays and, if possible, improve safety and do so at the highest possible expense. I find it disappointing that neither you nor the townships ever acknowledge this glaring falsehood being perpetuated. This is not and has never been about improving safety.
Each time I read your proposal and consider what has transpired to date, I become more and more disappointed by what appears to be a complete lack of competence, integrity, honesty, transparency and common sense by all parties carrying some sort of responsibility here. If you disagree with anything I have said and do not wish to have a dialogue with me directly, I understand. I hope you will communicate your feedback to the townships so they can pass it along to me. Or, if the townships care about the affected residents, they can prove it.

Until I see common sense prevail, I will not go away.

Best Regards,

Tom Stuart

“….would not be approved by PennDOT unless the township also agree to take land from local residents in “a reasonable timeframe”.”

There you have it. EMINENT DOMAIN.  They always try to make it sound pretty. How was it one of the East Whiteland Supervisors referred to it? As “slivers” of land or something equally preposterous?

It’s eminent domain. It’s stealing someone’s property and for what? So PennDOT can have their Roundabout Reign Of Terror?

I noticed in September PennDOT was doing the old soft shoe PR on their pet project to ruin where we live. All. Across. The. State.

media1media 3

Here, courtesy of Talk Erie News, is essentially PennDOT’s press release in September about this:

ERIE NEWS
PennDOT Data Shows Pennsylvania Roundabouts Reducing Fatalities, Injuries, and Crashes
By TalkErie News – September 16, 2019

roundabout

erie 1erie 2erie 3

Now whomever heads up PennDOT gets a plum pickings patronage job with taxpayer funded benefits of pure political pork, right? Well it is currently one of the original Wolf girls, Leslie Richards:

leslie

 

If you wonder why our roads are so bad, can it be said look no further than Ms. Richards?  Would you like to contact Leslie Richards? Try:

The Honorable Leslie S. Richards
Secretary, PA Dept. of Transportation
Keystone Building
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA 17120
lsrichards@pa.gov

Leslie also has a Facebook page, but she allows no contact there. Just public adoration. She also has Twitter – Leslie S. Richards (@SecRichards) REALLY making her a Wolf girl.

Here (courtesy of Wikipedia) is the chronology of her ascent to the cushy land of political patronage jobs:

Richards was elected to the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors in 2007, and became chairwoman of the board in 2008. 

Richards was elected to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners in 2011. Her election, along with that of fellow Democrat Josh Shapiro, marked the first time in over a century that Democrats controlled the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. Richards served as Montgomery County’s representative on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.  Richards also serves on the board of SEPTA. 

Pennsylvania political operatives had mentioned Richards as a potential Congressional candidate in Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district. Richards declined to run for the seat after incumbent Congressman Jim Gerlach retired in 2014. 

In 2015, following the election of Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, Richards was nominated to serve as Secretary of Transportation of Pennsylvania. She was subsequently confirmed by the Pennsylvania State Senate in May 2015. 

In 2017, Richards was appointed the first female chair of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission as well as the Public Private Partnership (P3) Board. 

But what does she actually DO? I will note I contacted Ms. Richards when this whole Roundabout Reign of Terror began.  Her response, even an acknowledgement, of the fact that I contacted her must have gotten lost in the mail.

So people always say when it comes to things like road projects to follow the money, right? So what happens when we follow the money to PennDOT with regard to things like Roundabout Reigns of Terror? Who is benefitting? Is it a long list? Is it a short list?

I sent an e-mail overnight to Senator Andy Dinniman since I feel the State Representatives have been quite invisible on this.

What is happening here is terrifying. He needs to act. He actually might have the power to help my neighbors and get the pause button pushed.

NO ONE HAS TRIED BASIC SIGNALIZATION CHANGES! Why the heavy PennDOT push for traffic circles or the more politically new speak term of “roundabouts” ? Whatever happened to trying something less expensive before taking people’s homes?

Again, if the money trail is followed all the way to Harrisburg where will it lead?

The basic intersection changes affected residents asked for would cost a whole lot LESS than a Circle. And it would not involve eminent domain.

But we, as residents and taxpayers, have been told that PennDOT doesn’t want that. Everything they want seems to involve  eminent domain doesn’t it?

Money, money, money. It’s only money and OPM or Other People’s Money at that.  Do you want your taxpayer dollars to go to stealing a neighbor’s home?

Why should my neighbors be forced to this? Why should they fear losing their homes? How would you feel if you were facing eminent domain?

None of us asked for this. And the origins of this current situation is somewhat mind boggling to me. That all came out when we did RTK requests a few months ago.

People have asked State Reps for help and to the best of my knowledge that has kind of gone nowhere.

road1

My neighbors need and deserve help. This affects residents in East Whiteland and East Goshen. Truthfully it affects anyone who travels through this intersection.  Have you watched people use roundabouts? And what about Immaculata and the buses that come through to them and the trucks, big trucks, which travel these roads?

Of course my personal thoughts include that wanton development is also a culprit here- another thing residents didn’t ask for.

I have seen what the threat of eminent domain does to communities as I have been to this movie before. I just didn’t expect it out here as a threat quite as often as I have seen it.

We have done rights to know.  In the spring we learned a lot.  Is that the only way we can ever get answers is to pay to be flooded with paper?

This summer I took photos while a passenger in a car. Of a roundabout no one knows how to drive on in Chester County.  On Route 52. Where it is still kind of rural and no one lost their homes, although undoubtedly someone lost some land as in open space/farm land.

The topography where that circle was placed is radically different from where PennDOT seems hell bent for leather to get one at King and 352.

Putting a traffic circle, roundabout, whatever you wish to new speak it as on King and 352 is like the proverbial square peg in the round hole, or is it round peg in the square hole? (Sorry, traffic circle humor)

Remember this issue when election day rolls around.

Soon it will be Halloween.  Then we will have Thanksgiving and Christmas and Channukah and so on, so what do these poor residents have to look forward to with the evil specter of eminent domain courtesy of PennDOT lurking around seemingly every corner?

Residents asking for traffic improvements on side streets somehow translated to a potential pork project and please stop the roundabout turntable, residents want to get off.

Can anyone help stop this? Does anyone give a crap about residents anymore? Or all we just expendable?

Other posts:

the dance around eminent domain and other tales from the king road/route 352 meeting

no eminent domain. no circle/roundabout. people before politics.

meeting on route 352 and king road set for june 5th at 7pm at immaculata university

east goshen responds to right to know request on 352 and king intersection improvements

dear east whiteland and east goshen: we need a little “sunshine” about shared intersection improvements at king and 352.

penndot responds on king and sproul/352

Image may contain: outdoor

inspirational

San Juan Islands: Food for the Soul // REI Adventures & Tastemade // ( captions & subtitles) from KGB Productions on Vimeo.

I was watching the Today Show while getting dressed this morning and caught this piece on this woman who chucked a Wall Street career to essentially dig in the dirt. Her name is Audra Lawlor.  She lives on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

Every morning now I hear the beep-beep-beep of construction equipment as yet more developments are given birth to in Chester County. I found this woman’s story inspirational because this is about people saving the land, growing on their land, and getting their hands dirty from digging in the dirt.

We need more of that here. CLICK HERE TO SEE HARRY SMITH INTERVIEW AUDRA LAWLOR ON TODAY. This is inspirational.

dirt 3

Read more about Audra and her company in Saveur (excerpt below):

Saveur TRAVEL
This Orcas Island Jam Company Transforms Local Plums into Vibrant Seasonal Preserves
Girl Meets Dirt is on a mission to save the island’s legacy fruit trees and jar their bounty

By Beth Graham
June 12, 2019

If you’re driving the winding roads of Orcas Island in late summer, you can smell the ripening fruit all around. On one such morning last year, I stopped the car at my destination and met Audra Lawlor, owner of Girl Meets Dirt, who was surveying one orchard’s recent Italian plum harvest in tall rubber boots and a denim shirt. As we walked among the rows of trees with their full canopies spilling over onto the trail, Audra picked up a fallen plum from the ground and turned it over in her hand between us. “Before I got here, most of the fruit from these trees would have rotted on the ground,” she says. Lawlor and her team of five mighty women at Girl Meets Dirt harvested more than 2,500 pounds of Italian plums alone last season.

Some people leave their corporate jobs to rescue animals. Audra left Wall Street to rescue pink pearl apples and Orcas pears. Today, many of the island’s residents see her as the steward of the legacy fruit trees on the island, a 57-square-mile piece of the San Juan Islands, an archipelago that lies in the waters between Seattle and Vancouver, just barely on the U.S. side of the border….By the end of the 19th century, many inhabitants had made their way over to work the plum orchards and operate the prune dryers (barnlike structures where the fruit was set to shrivel up), and the economy was surging. The success allowed the building of docks for steamships, as well as a boon for jobs sorting, grading, and packing fruit for transport. It also led to an island that became far more orchard than anything else. The country lane that runs through the center of Orcas Island’s main village is still named Prune Alley.

Many of the legacy fruit trees—entire orchards of them—fell into disrepair during a period of economic downturn around 1915. It was in part due to the rise of railroads, improved irrigation, and heavy planting in nearby eastern Washington, which became a fierce competitor. Islanders began to ignore the fallen fruit, and tree limbs weakened with overgrowth. Thousands of trees were left to die, and the plum industry collapsed. It wasn’t until decades later, when the island began attracting new residents—those who sought out the area for its bucolic landscape—that the trees gained new stewards. Today, Lawlor and her company are working with fellow islanders to revive and utilize those trees that remain.

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who has seen the wind?

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind? 

Neither I nor you: 

But when the leaves hang trembling, 

The wind is passing through. 


Who has seen the wind? 

Neither you nor I: 

But when the trees bow down their heads, 

The wind is passing by.

kids at risk

important

 

This is something that breaks your heart.  A child in pain. And NO, before everyone goes all FREAKY on me, this note is NOT from our area.  A friend of mine who lives out of state found this while walking her dog this morning.

She did the right thing and reported it, although there was nothing really that could be done as the note was anonymous.

My friend shared this website— National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — in the hopes that people would share it so others would know they are not alone.

Kids face a lot of  new pressures caused by things like cyber harassment and cyber bullying as a result of social media.  Kids also face the same pressures that we did as children, except I think it’s worse today, again because of the social media amplification.

However, a lot of children face pressures because of plain old ordinary bullying because schools and parents do not act.  I have heard tales of situations where parents of kids who bully, are themselves bullies. There ARE a lot of schools in this area with bullying problems.

I also believe the anger and vitriol in this country is also affecting our kids.  It is 2019 and it still feels like, even as an adult, that it is not o.k. to be different.

We can’t wrap our kids in bubble wrap and put them away until they are adults.  We have to let them within reason have their own experiences, and solve their own problems as that is part of growing up.  But sometimes we forget kids don’t have adult coping mechanisms, heck I know plenty of adults who don’t have adult coping mechanisms.

This post I saw today gave me pause.  I do not pretend to be perfect or above reproach. 

So I am paying it forward. Our kids are our future.

 

don’t gild the chili lily

Loved the West Chester Chili Cook Off. I won tickets from County Lines Magazine.

It was a beautiful day and it was a very pleasant crowd. Lots of kids with really amazing face painting from the kids’ activity corner….and although everywhere it said “no pets” there were….pets. Not that I minded because as a dog lover I saw some really beautiful and happy pooches.

About four of the chilis were outstanding, but a lot of the others just weren’t. Some for example, were just sweet. As in sweeter than a sloppy Joe sweet. And one chili would have been amazing if they left out the chocolate.

I cast my votes for three chilis I really liked. I don’t know who won. But as someone who cooks and who has been guilty of adding one ingredient too many to a recipe, I think with chili while you can get creative, you have to stay traditional.

Another ingredient too many in one chili today was kielbasa. The nicest people made it, but I had to throw it out – kielbasa is just the wrong flavor profile.

This was my first time attending this event and I will attend again! A super nice day!