sometimes….it takes a really BIG and extended village

Ebenezer AME on Bacton Hill Road has been my passion project the past few years as most of my friends and family  and readers know. 

 If my sweet man hadn’t stopped that winter’s day so I could take photos, I wouldn’t have found my USCT soldier Joshua.
I wrote about this  for three years straight  here until things started to click. I am grateful for the help of so many, especially Al Terrell and those amazing Willistown Troop 78 scouts.

We went from a crazy overgrown site that no one loved to today at Ebenezer in Frazer! 
Look at this and be happy – this is what it means to be an American. This is what it means to honor your history and the dead. This is what it means to honor some of our older veterans – as in from the Civil War.

A shout out to today’s guest star volunteers: WCU Student Veterans Group, WCU Men’s Rugby Club, and two WCU Fraternities, Sigma Epsilon (I don’t know if this should be Sigma Phi Epsilon?)  and FIJI. About 50 students total. Kelby Hershey is apparently the super hero at WCU who brought these folks together today for us—and a new grave was discovered!

It’s a shame that The Daily Local News hasn’t covered this yet. And once again, I have to say thanks to the Philadelphia Inquirer for giving us not one but two articles in 2016.

If any media out there can find it in their hearts to cover Ebenezer, kindly contact me. If there are those out there who want to volunteer, connect with Al Terrell. 

Thank you everyone for your interest. This is 184 years of history, amazing vibrant and important history, and we are all so thankful that so many are starting to realize it. 

Enjoy the photos!

I am closing with a quote that is a favorite of my friend Sara:

”Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Walk humbly with your God .”[Micah 6:8]

mr. west chester has died

dick yoder


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.

Former West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder Dies at 79

by Carla J. Zambelli

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:

Citizen of the Year-Yoder from The Media Message on Vimeo.

unacceptable behavior

west chesterThe West Chester University students involved in what erupted into a near riot this past weekend and included terrifying innocent people and destroying private property should be expelled.  Period.

The behavior exhibited this past weekend is quite simply put: unacceptable. Who wants that kind of behavior and activity occurring in our county seat only blocks from the Chester County Courthouse? No one.

And if this whole debacle can indeed be tracked back to those “I’m Shmacked” people, here’s hoping the District Attorney is a little bit  proactive and finds a way legally to deal with this and hold all accountable who should be held accountable.

In February 2012 I ironically wrote a post about this whole shmacked stupidity. At that point in time the organization “I’m Shmacked” came up in connection with a startling series of events at Lower Merion High School. I had said (at the time) that this was germane to folks in Chester County because basically this nonsense could occur anywhere. I wasn’t trying to be psychic, it is just common sense and here we are.

This Shmacked Movement is this project by Arya Toufanian, 20 (?), of Potomac, Md and  Jeffrie “Yofray” Ray, a 2011 graduate of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA .  In a nutshell it is like girls gone wild for the college party scene.

So if “I’m Shmacked” is behind this, enough is enough.  What happened over the weekend in the Borough of West Chester could have resulted in serious injuries and even someone getting seriously hurt or killed.

West Chester University needs to do more here than  say they will hold students accountable under their honor code or whatever.  Those students who are responsible need to be ejected.  West Chester Borough has worked too hard to fix up that town and make it attractive to more than those searching for a good kegger. It is admirable that the University is cooperating with police, but they need to do as much as possible to see that nothing like this ever happens again.  And quite frankly, unless students responsible get permanently booted from the University who is to say it won’t happen again?

I hate to sound like a Purtian, but this is why no one ever wants off campus college students as neighbors.  Let’s get real, no one wants college students to NOT have fun, but fun should not include destroying property and possibly harming others.  And parties like this one which turned into essentially a riot in West Chester will follow these kids for a long, long time.  And I have to ask at the end of the day is one kegger worth possibly ruining your immediate future over? Is the behavior at this party the same kind of behavior these kids would exhibit in their parents’ homes? I sure hope not.

I am not going to go into the whole hazards of binge drinking, violent drunken behavior in some, or drunk driving. We all watch the news and we know the reality there.  Besides, everyone knows when you are the age of most of these college students you feel invincible and untouchable by reality.   Well, they felt untouched by reality…I daresay some of them involved were wishing life was a little less real right now.

Sign me tired of exceedingly stupid and destructive behavior related to alcohol.  I know I am not the only one – read this post on “From The Editor’s Chair”

Here is selected coverage on this – there is so much I can’t capture it all:

The Daily Local:  Motorist describes Walnut Street chaos 


Posted: Tuesday, 05/07/13 12:01 am

WEST CHESTER — A 1993 graduate of West Chester University who asked to remain anonymous said he may stop donating to the university after witnessing Saturday’s wild party on Walnut Street.

“I used to give on occasion to WCU, but I doubt I will anymore,” he said. “There may be a lot of great students, but I didn’t see much care from the hundreds that were around me on what was happening.”scary

He said he saw the events unravel in the early afternoon as he turned his car into the 400 block of Walnut Street on his way home to East Goshen.

He said he stopped his car and was unable to drive forward with the mass of people in the street. Unsure of what was happening, he said, he was boxed in by all the people surrounding his car.

“It seemed like we (the drivers) might just be there for a bit while the drunk students were milling about,” he said. “It lasted a while with no movement, and then the crowd started to get nasty.”…He said he had heard someone in the crowd say the pole was used to smash a car window. And when he later drove past, he saw a parked car’s window had been broken….In between calls to the 911 dispatcher, he took a photograph. At that point, people were standing on parked cars. While in the center of the crowd, he said, he was “worried if my car was next.”

His 14-year-old daughter was in the car with him, he said, and she was scared, too.


Main Line Media News: Police bust up huge beer party near West Chester University; Villanova resident faces charges


Published: Sunday, May 05, 2013

WEST CHESTER — Frustrated party guests flipped a car onto its side Saturday afternoon after police broke up a beer blast that organizers were warned not to start.  Witnesses said the party was based on a YouTube video called “I’m Shmacked”.

“Booze and education don’t mix,” said West Chester police Lt. William Morris.

Two people were arrested in what Police Chief Scott Bohn described as a “mass disturbance.” In a news release issued Saturday, police classified the incident as a “riot.”….Police said Zachary Geanotes, 19, of Villanova, was charged with riot, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, furnishing alcohol to minors and underage drinking.

Police said Andrew Derr, 19, of Willow Grove, was charged for failure of disorderly persons to disperse, forgery, underage drinking and carrying a false identification card….The West Chester police were assisted by Westtown East Goshen, West Goshen and West Chester University police as the crowd was dispersed.

‘I’m Shmacked’ Behind Chaos in West Chester, Partygoers Say

The production company, co-founded by a Lower Merion graduate, documents wild parties and posts the video online.

ByTom Sunnergren  Email the author 5:22 am

I’m Shmacked,” a production company that specializes in video of teens and college students having wild parties, is being implicated in the near riot that led to a flipped car on S. Walnut Street in West Chester this weekend, Action News reported.

According to, “I’m Shmacked” was co-founded by 2011 Lower Merion High School graduate Jeffrie Ray.

NBC10:Caught on Cam: Police Bust Party, Partygoers Flip Over Car

By  Danielle Johnson and  David Chang

|  Monday, May 6, 2013  |  Updated 6:53 PM EDT

Police have arrested three people in connection to a wild West Chester party in which guests flipped a car onto its side.

Police were called to a home in the 400 block of South Walnut Street around 12:42 p.m. Saturday after neighbors complained of loud noise. Police say several college students were among the hundreds of people in attendance.

“We saw a cop come maybe a half hour after it started,” said Andrea Lavish, a West Chester student. “I asked, ‘are you going to shut it down?’ She said, ‘I’m not sure yet,’ and she let it continue. Then about 45 minutes later more cops came and shut it down.”