Most of us in Chester County woke up to those devastating news. Barclay Friends in the Borough of West Chester went up in flames as many of us, myself included, were sleeping. I have a friend whose mom was there, thank goodness she is now home and safe with her family. There are many, many displaced seniors as a result.
It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I think we must be grateful for the absolutely amazing first responders we have in Chester County. Firefighters, EMTs, police, and so on. I am not one to toss around the word blessed lightly, but we are so blessed with these heroic individuals because this could have been so much worse without their expertise and valor.
Prayers go to the families with displaced seniors and the staff of Barclay Friends . I am happy to post legitimate fundraising efforts one Barclay Friends gets this sorted out to where they can do that. I am also happy to post efforts of groups who will be collecting clothing and other basics for these seniors. And if someone is planning to get Thanksgiving dinner to these displaced seniors.
These senior citizens could be anyone’s family members, and at least one is a family member of a friend.
I will admit I am so terrified at how fast Barclay Friends went up in flames. All media reports this morning indicate fire investigation is already beginning.
Also, and VERY important: you will note my photos come from social media. I am not going anywhere near that scene and neither should any curiosity seeker. Let the professionals do their jobs and stay out of the area in the Borough of West Chester.
How do you write about a man that everyone described as amazing, kind , giving and generous just for starters?
Suffice it to say that it was really difficult and so wonderful all at the same time to dig into the life of the amazing Dick Yoder, former Mayor of West Chester and institution at West Chester University who passed away a few days ago.
To take this journey, I was guided not only by my editor Lance at Vista.Today but by many present and former West Chester notables like current Mayor Carolyn Comitta (and Tom Comitta!) and former Mayor Tom Chambers and Chairman of the Chester County GOP Val DiGiorgio,, Gneneral Manager Bill Mason of WCHE 1520 AM, and former West Chester Borough Manager Ernie McNeely.
What a guy Dick Yoder was! I wish I had met him. I hope my words do him justice. I am only featuring an excerpt of my article here – please visit Vista.Today to read it in its entirety.
Richard “Dick” Yoder, a native West Chester son and two-term Mayor of West Chester, passed away last Sunday, May 1. He was 79 years old.
….Yoder ran for West Chester Mayor in 2001 and again in 2005. He was elected both times. After reaching the eight-year term limit, Yoder he was succeeded by Carolyn Comitta in 2010.
Mayor Comitta, who served on Borough Council during Yoder’s tenure as mayor, credited Yoder as her inspiration to seek higher public office.
“When I was thinking of running for mayor I met with him regularly at Gramm’s Kitchen. We would have lunch and I would ask what it was like to be mayor; what makes a good mayor. He was always generous with his time,” Comitta said. “After I was elected, I continued to have lunch with him regularly. I continued to learn.”
…..Former West Chester Mayor Tom Chambers issued a brief statement about the loss of his dear friend Dick Yoder:
“Dick and I were both born and raised in West Chester and I have known his family practically all my life. We were personal friends. We were also fellow former members of the U.S. Marine Corps……I have lost a good friend and comrade. My condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to his wife, Jean, and his great family. It was my privilege to have known him and I am grateful that he counted me as one of his many good friends.”
Ernie McNeely, Borough Manager during most of Yoder’s tenure and current Township Manager of Lower Merion, described Yoder as a true gentleman.
“Dick Yoder was a dedicated public servant. He transcended any political label as Mayor of West Chester and had broad support from all parts of the community,” said Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Republican Party of Chester County, echoing McNeely’s comments…..WCHE General Manager Bill Mason described Dick Yoder as Mr. West Chester. “It was literally god, country, family, and West Chester,” Mason said. “To meet him was to become a friend. He was beloved by everyone he came in contact with.”
Also check out this video tribute done in 2015 when he received Citizen of the Year from The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce:
Meet State Rep. Sue Helm. The architect of the disaster bill known as PA HB 809. Quite simply stated, this bill would render any local municipal government useless in the ability to control off-campus student housing.
Basically, if you live near animal house, your local municipality would not be able to do one thing about it and well you could get tons of these group rentals where you live and have no say. It is kind of ironic that a Pennsylvania a Republican State Representative seems to think private property rights are so subjective, but hey this is the very nature of politics, right?
Now I was polite, after all she has broadcast all over she is fighting breast cancer. I really wish to be respectful of that as I am a breast cancer survivor. But when I and others take the time to comment on HER legislation PA HB 809 and every comment seems to disappear, what’s to respect ?
I was polite. I asked her if she had ever lived with problem student rentals where she lived? Asked her if she had ever woken up to 20 cars on a neighboring lawn and beer cans and bottles everywhere? (I did)
Had she ever been unable to park on her street because the off campus student rentals always took all the parking?
Or ever had watched as a friend of mine once did as a college student late at night urinated on her porch and her young child’s toys just because they felt like it.
I asked her if she had ever been unable to sell great houses for a long time like friends of mine experienced in a Chester County community because their township turned a blind eye and they lived next to animal house. I know people who had similar issues in Radnor and Lower Merion and Haverford Townships and those are townships which regulate student housing.
I neglected to mention had she ever lived next to a slumlord owners student rental that burned to the ground. I did once upon a time. We watched college students who were seniors lose everything a couple of days before Thanksgiving. And because of wind conditions we were scared for hours the fire would jump to our roofs.
If you live in PA please take the time and post a polite message on this lady’s page or email, phone or tweet at her regarding PA HB 809 which will render local municipalities helpless when dealing with off campus student housing. This bill would hog tie local municipalities and they would be unable to act and help residents and basically it would so bypass any and all local zoning we could get these houses anywhere and everywhere. It would take away our rights.
Imagine West Chester, Tredyffrin, Lower Merion, Haverford Township, Radnor or wherever you lived with off campus student houses that didn’t have to follow any basic community rules and regulations because the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took our rights away? We already experience this right now if we have any special needs (broad term means more than one thing) group houses in neighborhoods. And much like group student rentals sometimes these houses are ok, but just as often they are not.
Our homes are our castles. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania doesn’t protect us from wanton development even on old superfund sites, and now they want us to just say yes please may we have some more on group student rentals ?
Please Contact Rep Sue Helm and tell her to stop the nonsense known as HB 809. But make sure you contact your own State Rep to and tell them whatever you tell her.
PA House Bill 809 sponsored by State Rep Susan Helm of Dauphin and Lebanon Counties will change college rental restrictions if passed.
Helm’s proposed legislation claims that it is discriminatory for municipalities to single out students with rental regulations and would short-circuit any municipal ordinance that prohibits the occupation of a dwelling unity by students or unrelated individuals living together.
The proposed legislation would allow a municipality to enact and enforce ordinances that regulate things like noise levels, parking, and health and safety concerns. House Bill 809 addresses municipal rental restrictions that single out students, suggesting that this is discriminatory, based on an assumption that they will be problem neighbors.
PA House Bill 809 would override any current municipal housing ordinances that restrict the use of single-family homes, as college student rentals. The proposed legislation states that a municipality would not be able to prohibit the occupation of a dwelling based on an individual’s matriculation status (that is, if they are enrolled in college) or on the number of unrelated individuals sharing the property.
In the Mt. Pleasant community of Tredyffrin Township, the conversion of traditionally family-occupied homes to student rental properties has led to ongoing problems among the neighbors. Beyond the late-night noise, increased traffic, liter, illegal parking, the permanent residents of Mt. Pleasant are frustrated with the increasing number of student rentals and what they view as the adverse effects caused by the influx of students.
Because of the ongoing citizen complaints in Mt. Pleasant, Tredyffrin Township passed two ordinances in 2010, which placed zoning restrictions on the student rentals as a way to protect the rights of the permanent residents in the township.
Disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, underage drinking, public urination, Animal House behavior.
Those are perennial complaints in neighborhoods where college students live, local officials say. And with the start of the fall semester just a few weeks away, that’s why they aggressively oppose a bill that would remove their restraints on student housing.
Sponsored by Rep. Sue Helm (R., Dauphin) and backed by landlords, it would prohibit rental discrimination against students and end limits on the numbers of unrelated people allowed to live in a house or apartment.
….In all, more than 50,000 students attend colleges and universities in Philadelphia’s neighboring Pennsylvania counties, and campus housing hardly can accommodate all of them.
Disruptive behavior is inevitable when “you combine youthful exuberance with alcohol,” said Carolyn Comitta, the mayor of West Chester, which hosts West Chester University’s 15,000 students
I purchased some amazing produce at the West Chester Growers Market yesterday. So I decided to share with you some simple summer recipes to turn farm fresh veggies into delicious salads that were inspired by what I purchased and by the herbs growing in my garden.
Before I begin I am going to add a footnote about the parking. Last year, the lot adjacent to the market was open for parking. This year a lot of the spaces are marked off reserved….and are always empty. I don’t know whose parking lot that is adjacent to the public lot which the market sits upon but it would be nice if the Borough of West Chester maybe helped a bit more in the parking cooperativeness on Saturday mornings? After all, this market brings people to town every week.
Anyway, at the market I found the most beautiful red and yellow beets that were small and firm. I also found terrific young onions (sometimes known as spring onions) , and fresh cucumbers.
These ingredients have made two summer salads: old fashioned cucumber salad and mixed beet salad.
Mixed Beet Salad
2 bunches of smaller sized fresh beets
(Trim the tops and root ends off the beets after washing any dirt off the beet. Roast them at 350 degrees in a foil packet on a baking pan. All you do is salt and pepper the whole beets and sprinkle with olive oil. The beets take 30- 40 minutes to roast.)
1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped small
1 clove garlic minced fine
Dill (fresh), salt, pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
After beets are roasted and cooled, peel them. Slice into thin, uniform slices. Add the onion and rest of ingredients and toss and chill.
2 Cucumbers peeled and sliced thin
2 teaspoons of white sugar
Salt, pepper, fresh dill
1 red onion or large red spring onion chopped fine
7 or 8 tablespoons red wine vinegar
After you peel and slice the cucumbers dress with salt to taste and sprinkle the sugar over them. Toss.
Add the onion and dill to taste, add salt only if you think you need more and crack some fresh pepper over everything. Toss and chill.
Both of these recipes can be increased proportionately. Keep refrigerated and these salads are good for a few days.