Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Ryan Costello

Rumor or Fact – Is Republican Representative Ryan Costello Considering Retirement From the 6th Congressional District?

Related imageRumor has it is that Republican Rep. Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District is considering retirement. At least 38 U.S. House Republicans have announced they are retiring, running for another office or resigning outright — will Costello add his name to the list?

If Costello were not to seek re-election this could be a game-changer for the Democrats. But Costello doesn’t have much time to decide – he is up against a fast-approaching deadline –his petition and required signatures to run is March 20.

When you look at the map of Pennsylvania’s 6th District, gerrymandering is particularly glaring. With the recent redrawing of the congressional map by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Costello’s district was greatly affected. The new map has the boundaries of the 6th District to include all of Chester County and the city of Reading.

State Republicans want to keep the old lines and are challenging the proposed redistricting map in court but no final legal decision has been made.

There could be an interesting twist in the 6th Congressional District race, which no doubt is being discussed in the backrooms. If Costello does decide to retire, who becomes the replacement Republican candidate for the 6th Congressional District? Republican Michelle Kichline is the current chair of the Chester County’s Board of Commissioners. In 2014, Michelle replaced Ryan Costello as County Commissioner; would she now run for his seat in the 6th District?

The clock is ticking down – March 20 is less than a week away and if Costello bows out, it would give a new candidate less than a week to gather the necessary signatures to run.

This week saw Democrat Conor Lamb win the PA 18th Congressional District in a special election, in a district previously held by a Republican. Knowing that Trump carried the 18th District by 20 points, this swing from Republican to Democrat was national news and may well be the reason for the Costello retirement rumor. And the Democrat victory in the special election could also cause pause to any potential Republican replacement candidate in the 6th District.

If the incumbent Republican Representative Ryan Costello were not to seek re-election, Democrat challenger for the 6th District, Chrissy Houlahan, could find herself in an enviable position.

Votes counted and Tom Wolf (D), Ryan Costello (R) & Warren Kampf (R) win

Don’t know if it was efforts of the political parties and their volunteers, the candidates themselves, the issues or the perfect voting weather of 70-plus degrees but it appeared there was record attendance at many of the polls. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many voters come out in a non-presidential election!

Looks like the dust has begun to settle from Election Day 2014. After one term in office, Republican Governor Tom Corbett will be replaced by challenger Democrat Tom Wolf. The debate boiled down to what many believe was massive cuts to education by Corbett versus the speculation of increased taxes to the middle class by Wolf. In the end, preservation of Pennsylvania’s education system outweighed the fear some have of a higher tax bill.

Locally, the battle for the PA State House 157 seat between incumbent Warren Kampf (R) and his Democratic opponent Marian Moskowitz raged right up until the polls closed at 8 PM. In the end, Kampf prevailed and will serve a third third in Harrisburg. Kampf received 11,689 votes (55.09 percent) with Moskowitz receiving 9,530 votes or 44.91 percent of the votes.

Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello (R) won the 6th Congressional District seat vacated by retiring Jim Gerlach (R-PA), beating challenger Manan Trivedi (R). Costello received 118.450 votes which represented 56.23 percent to Trivedi’s 92,193 votes which represented 43.77 percent of the votes.

Look past the negative campaigning and vote tomorrow!

Republicans-vs-DemocratsElection Day 2014 is tomorrow and it cannot come soon enough. The barrage of negative campaign ads and political mailers has come at a furious pace this year.

The constant drumbeat of blame-game messages has reached an overwhelming proportion with last-minute attempts to scare and/or persuade voters. Instances of negative campaigning among candidates are so widespread that to single out any in particular would serve no useful purpose. This general attack-style politics has infected our local campaigns.

Rather than articulating positive platforms, too many of the campaign messages are instead warnings about the evils of the opposition. We’ve all seen the campaign lawn signs and received the daily doses of campaign mailers and phone calls, many containing aggressive, offensive messages against their opponent. The negative campaigning polarizes people around their reaction to the negativity rather than around the important issues. I know that we should not expect a campaign season of only polite, hands-off discourse from candidates seeking to send each other to defeat. However, knocking the opposition, though, has become the easy, fast-lane method of campaigning – a thinly veiled scare tactic to earn credit by discrediting the other side.

Opposition research is a natural part of any political campaign, which is only compounded by people constantly giving us the “inside scoop” on an opponent. There is pressure on all sides to let voters know “the truth” about their opponent, especially if that person has already gone negative in the campaign. Call me naïve and foolish, but for every minute a candidate spends attacking his/her opponent, that’s one less minute that can be spent talking about legitimate differences on policy issues that actually affect us, the voters.

After enduring a heavy season of negative campaign advertising, the need for us to participate in Election Day has never been greater. The politicians have not been very good at policing themselves, so it’s up to us, the voters, to do it for them. Your vote does matter; but only if you use it. I’d encourage everyone to do their own homework about the candidates and the issues. Look past the negative campaigning and the party politics – make an informed decision when you vote tomorrow.

Personally, I’m looking forward to post-Election Day … no more campaign mailers or invasive robo calls at dinner time and the removal of yard signs littering the local landscape (at least for the remainder of 2014!)

Election Day is November 4 – Who will be the next Pennsylvania Governor, 6th District Congressman and State House 157 Representative?

The countdown is on. Like everyone else in this country, the residents of Tredyffrin are looking for solutions. In three short weeks, on Tuesday, November 4, is midterm Election Day.

There are obvious signs throughout the township that its campaign season … political lawn signs seemingly reproduce nightly, candidate mailers arrive daily at our doors and in our mailboxes, along with invitations to political fundraisers. For those of us in the ‘Independent’ registration category, our mailbox runneth over, as does the land of campaign ‘robocalls’. The Republican and Democratic candidates both lay claim to the independents; with each side believing that their views on issues more representative of these voters.

On the Governor’s race, most polls have Democratic challenger Tom Wolf poised to unseat Republican incumbent Tom Corbett. A virtual unknown at the beginning of the year, businessman Tom Wolf early on used a boy next-door charm in his commercials while underwriting most of his political campaign with his own personal wealth. Some of Wolf’s gaining in the polls may be explained by voters’ dissatisfaction with Governor Corbett. Wolf campaign ads state that Corbett cut state education funding by $1 billion whereas Corbett counters the argument stating he has increased funding for our public schools by $1 billion since taking office. Although Corbett and his supporters argue that he has restored school funding lost to the end of the federal stimulus money, widespread public perception is that he has cut educational spending. Corbett’s opposition to a severance tax on shale gas drillers has also hampered his reelection bid.

From a local election standpoint, I am of the opinion that the November 4 election is going to see people splitting votes at the polls. Sure, there will always be the straight party voters, whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats. However, for those voters that go the polls, educated on the issues and the candidates, this election may see a greater number crossing party lines to vote for the candidate that best represent their own personal views.

For Tredyffrin residents, in addition to choosing a governor, Election Day 2014 also offers us the opportunity to select a new Congressional 6th District member. The unexpected retirement of Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) after 12 years has given way to a battleground between Democratic House candidate Manan Trivedi and Republican Ryan Costello for the 6th Congressional District seat. An Iraq War veteran and Berks County physician, the upcoming election marks Trivedi’s third Congressional attempt. Attorney and chair of the Chester County Board of Commissioners, Costello at age 37, would be the youngest member of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation should he win.

Will Corbett’s gubernatorial race be problematic for Costello, as Wolf gains in the polls? As a County Commissioner, Costello has built his own fan base – will those loyal supporters be enough to counter any anti-Corbett voting or conversely, will the get-out-to-vote efforts of Wolf’s campaign help Trivedi pull off a win? The 6th District covers a large part of Chester County, and portions of Berks, Montgomery and Lebanon counties.

The other election that local voters will decide on November 4 is the PA State House 157 race. Newcomer to the political campaign world, first time political candidate, Great Valley resident and businesswoman, Democrat Marian Moskowitz is challenging incumbent Warren Kampf (R) in his re-election bid for a third term in Harrisburg. With the exception of Paul Drucker (D) who served as 157th State House District Representative in 2009 and 2010, a Republican has held the seat for forty some years. As the war of words wages daily in campaign literature and press releases between the Moskowitz and Kampf camps, an unfortunate and recently discovered issue has complicated the race for these two candidates.

The 157th District includes all of Tredyffrin Township, all of Schuylkill Township, part of Upper Providence and most of Phoenixville. As part of last year’s statewide redistricting, a section of the 157th District, West 1, in the Phoenixville Borough was moved to the 155th District. However, using an old map, Chester County Voter Services incorrectly left this section in the 157th District for the May primary. People in this section of Phoenixville Borough cast votes for Kampf and Moskowitz in the primary election when they should have been voting for candidates in the 155th District. Troubling that the West 1 mapping error was only discovered last week and the candidates then notified. Obviously, this last minute correction on the election ballot is causing voter confusion – a group of people who voted for Kampf and Moskowitz as their State Representative in the 157th District in the primary election will not have that same option on November 4.

Warren Kampf has focused much of his first two terms on public pension reform. Kampf believes that the current state pension system is not sustainable, and that escalating pension obligations will mean rising taxes or significant cuts to service. Other initiatives he supports include privatization of the state liquor store system and property tax relief, specifically switching property tax system to a gross receipts tax.

The Democratic challenger for District 157, Marian Moskowitz has made her business background a hallmark of her campaign, pointing to Franklin Commons, a successful redevelopment project with her husband in Phoenixville, as an example. An advocate for women and small businesses, Moskowitz is interested in using her entrepreneurial and business background in Harrisburg. Moskowitz supports transportation and infrastructure improvements – according to her campaign website, one of her “primary reasons for running was her opponent’s no vote on Act 89, which brings funding to our aging infrastructure.” Kampf received his share of criticism for his vote not to support the state’s transportation bill. However, he maintains his support for infrastructure improvements, including the Paoli Transportation Center, and that his vote was against the high impact of the gas tax increase included in the transportation bill.

Will there be a trickle-down effect from the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race on the PA State District 157 race? Unlike the open seat in the 6th Congressional District, the State House 157 race has Democratic challenger Marian Moskowitz up against two-term State Representative Warren Kampf (R).

As the political campaigns of Wolf vs Corbett, Costello vs Trivedi and Moskowitz vs Kampf wind down over the next three weeks, take the time to understand the important issues and know the candidates. On November 4th, your vote will matter – make it count.

PA State House 157 Democratic Candidate Jed Grobstein withdraws, Marian Moskowitz (D) to challenge incumbent Warren Kampf (R) in November

The Chester County Democratic Nominating Committee held their convention this past Saturday. Prior to the election, Democrat Jed Grobstein withdrew his name from the PA State House 157 race and Democrat candidate Marian Moskowitz was endorsed by acclamation. Grobstein provided the following press release explaining his withdrawal from the race:

Jed Grobstein stepped back in the interests of party unity today to throw his support behind long-time Tredyffrin Township resident and Phoenixville developer Marian Moskowitz in the race for the Pennsylvania State House, 157th district. In a statement posted on his campaign facebook page and website, Jed said,

“I regret to announce that I am withdrawing my name from contention for the State House in the PA 157th. Over the last several weeks it has become clear that the Democratic Party has rallied around the campaign of Marian Moskowitz. With her endorsement at the County Convention she deserves all of our support. I believe that Marian’s achievements as an entrepreneur and as a prime architect in Phoenixville’s redevelopment make her exactly the sort of leader we need in Harrisburg.”

Further, he urged his supporters to focus on November, saying, “I look forward to supporting [Marian] as we all focus on defeating Warren Kampf, Tom Corbett and their ‘governance by crisis’ in November.”

Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello (R) is seeking the vacated seat of Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in Pennsylvania’s sixth district. The Chester County Republican Committee endorsed Costello at their nominating convention last week. The Chester County Democratic Committee endorsed candidate Manan Trivedi on Saturday at their convention This marks Trivedi’s third run for Congress and is hopeful that Gerlach’s retirement will provide him the opening he needs. However, it is my understanding that Democrat Mike Parrish, a successful businessman from Malvern, plans to stay in the race, making for a contested May primary.

The Chester County Republican Committee endorsed current State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) for another term and with the withdrawal of Grobstein, he will face challenger Marian Moskowitz (D) in November.

I was very surprised to see that former T/E School Board member Anne Crowley has quickly stepped back into politics. Not seeking a second term on the school board when her term ended in 2013, Crowley is the endorsed Democratic candidate for the PA State House 167 seat, currently held by Dwayne Milne (R). By a very narrow margin of votes, Milne defeated Crowley for the 167th District seat in 2006. As a personal note, Crowley’s presence is missed on the T/E School Board!

Chester Valley Trail Phase II section through Tredyffrin Township opens … Think Spring!


snowy trail

Looks like Mother Nature has dug her heels in this winter … with 8 or 9 inches of snow on the ground and the weather forecasters claiming there is more on the way tonight, it’s hard to ‘Think Spring’. Further bad news came on Sunday with Goundhog Punxsutawney Phil forecasting six more weeks of what already has felt like a brutally long and cold winter.

But today is one of those sunny days- where the air is crisp and you can feel the promise of spring hidden somewhere away in the barren branches of the trees. In the midst of the cold temperatures, snow and ice, you may have missed last week’s announcement that the Phase II section of the Chester Valley Trail opened in Tredyffrin.

Phase I which opened in 2010, is a 4-mile section from Exton Park to Route 29 at Wegmans in Malvern. The Phase II section extends the trail an additional 5.8 miles from Uptown Worthington to Old Eagle School Road for a total of 9.8 miles. I contacted Tim Lander, president of the Friends of Chester Valley Trail, for a comment about the opening and about resident parking in Tredyffrin.

According to Tim, there is no county-owned parking in Tredyffrin for trail use but offered a couple of suggestions. Penn Medicine has agreed to allow weekend-only parking at their lot on Chesterbrook Boulevard and you can park at Cedar Hollow Park. Cedar Hollow Park is a small township park on Cedar Hollow Road close to the Vanguard campus. Many people use the parking at Uptown Worthington for Phase I and since Wegmans is the pick-up point for Phase II, that’s another option. Tim mentioned that the County is speaking to various commercial landlords in Tredyffrin, hoping to establish additional parking facilities close to the trail.

Tim’s reaction to the recent opening of Phase II …

It’s very exciting to have the Chester Valley Trail open in Tredyffrin. Having watched years of discussion, planning, and construction it’s great to be able to use the trail at last. I’ve spoken with many local residents who feel the same way, some of whom took advantage of the favorable weather on the first weekend in February to get out for a walk or bike ride. There were walkers, joggers, and cyclists of all ages; a great cross-section of our community. I have also heard from several people who plan to commute via the trail, and are encouraged to know that the County will keep the trail plowed during winter months.

The Friends of the Chester Valley Trail expects to work closely with County staff to plan volunteer activities that encourage community involvement with the trail. In addition, the Friends will hold a public meeting at the Tredyffrin Township Building in March. All are welcome to attend. Keep an eye on our website – – for details as they unfold.

Tim Lander, President, Friends of the Chester Valley Trail

The Friends of Chester Valley Trail is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to assist the Chester County Parks and Recreation Department promote trail activities, plan for future programs, facilities and improvements, alert staff to trail conditions, assist in reducing maintenance costs, and provide other assistance to the public as may be requested.

With the opening of the Tredyffrin section of the Chester Valley Trail, let’s support the Friends of Chester Valley Trail with a 2014 membership. Membership — $15 Individual, $25 Family and $100 Sponsor. To download the membership form, click here.

To the Board of Friends of Chester Valley Trail – Tim Lander, Steve Warren, Mike Broennle, Bob Cochlin, Phil Hoke, Bob O’Leary and Gail Lipstein , Chester County employees and County Commissioners Ryan Costello, Kathi Cozzone and Terence Farrell – thank you for your dedication and hard work to make the trail a reality in Tredyffrin! To read Chester County press release, click here.

From Friends of Chester County Trail website

ROVER isn’t just for trips to the doctor or to the grocery store…

Have you ever wondered about the Rover buses that you see on the roads of Chester County? Who operates the Rovers . . . who are the riders? Where do the buses go, is there a schedule?

I often see a Rover driver dropping off passengers at the Paoli Acme or at the Paoli Hospital, but who are the passengers, did the riders pay for the service or is it a government-sponsored program? I asked several friends but no one seemed to know much about the Rover or its operation.

In my search to find out details about the Rover service, Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello was especially helpful, as was the Director of Chester County Dept of Community Development Patrick Bokovitz and staff members Kathryn Ercole and Gene Suski, who showed an unbelievable degree of patience with my tedium of questions! With their help, I soon discovered that Rover isn’t just for trips to the doctor or to the grocery store!

As a strong supporter of the Rover Community Transportation program, Commissioner Costello offered, “One of the many things that I’ve come to learn and appreciate about county government is the paratransit services that are provided across the county, for a number of important purposes – all of which provide public transportation to those in need .”

Started on July 1, 1984, the Rover Community Transportation is a paratransit flexible passenger service in Chester County that operates outside of the standard public transportation system. Rover is available to specific populations based on eligibility.

The Rover Community Transportation’s three primary modes of paratransit service in Chester County are:

  • Senior Shared Ride: Any Chester County resident aged 65 or older, is eligible to use the Senior Shared Ride Program. Based on the price of gas these days, a Rover fare of only 75 cents for ‘essential’ trips is a real bargain! The remainder of the cost is covered by the Chester County Department of Aging and State Lottery proceeds that are administered by the PA Department of Transportation.
  • Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP): Residents who have active Medicaid benefits in Chester County are eligible to use MATP for non-emergency medical transportation to and from Medicaid billable medical services and treatment providers. Medicaid billable providers include both physical health services (doctor and dentist appointments and trips to and from the pharmacy) and behavioral health services (mental health and drug and alcohol treatment and counseling). The MATP program is funded by through the state Medicare budget.
  • Persons with Disabilities Program (PwD): Any Chester County resident with a disability that is not already eligible for Senior Shared Ride or MATP may be eligible for PwD. An eligible person with a disability pays a fare of two dollars ($2.00) or 15% of the total cost of the ride (which ever is higher) each way with the remaining balance covered by the PA Department of Transportation.

How many Chester County residents utilize the Rover system on a regular basis? I was told that the paratransit program is averaging just over 30,400 rides a month. In the Tredyffrin/Easttown area, the program has 157 registered riders. According to the Department of Community Development, ridership has slowly increased and the January 2012 numbers indicate an increase in usage. Although there is no data indicating why the increase, clearly the economic situation and gas prices are contributing factors. Statistics indicate that Rover had 2,450 more rides from July to December of 2011 then the same period in 2010.

Delaware and Montgomery counties have similar paratransit programs and Chester County Rover works with both counties when possible to coordinate rides for people who live on the county borders. Community Transit, provides service in Delaware County and TransNet, provides the service in Montgomery County.

With the exception of holidays, the Rover program operates Monday through Friday, with limited hours for specialized services only on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations for travel within Chester County must be made before 11 AM on the business day prior to the requested trip.

To determine eligibility and/or to sign up for any of the county’s paratransit programs, you just need to contact Rover Community Transportation at 484-696-3854 or toll-free 877-873-8415. You can also get more information from their website, To use any of the Rover Community Transportation services, residents must register – and registration is free.

One of the tag lines used in advertising Rover is “It’s Your Ticket to Independence!” If you are a Chester County resident and are 65 or older but still drive, you might want to take advantage of a ride with Rover, particularly when you need to go somewhere during the challenging winter months. Beyond the grocery store or the doctor, Rover can provide transportation throughout Chester County — to the shopping mall, club meetings, and the local train station or even a ride to visit a friend.

If you are a registered Senior Shared Ride participant using Rover for ‘essential’ rides within Chester County, the fare is 75 cents each way. Essential trips include:

  • Visits to the doctor or other medical appointments
  • Visits to the Social Security office
  • Visits to the Chester County Department of Aging
  • Attendance at Adult Day Centers and Area Senior Centers
  • Visits to the grocery store

However, what if your doctor’s appointment is outside of Chester County? For medical appointments beyond the county boundaries, Rover will provide travel to Philadelphia and neighboring counties. And the ride is still a bargain at only 75 cents each way – but that fare is only applicable for medical appointments outside of Chester County. All out of county rides must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance of medical appointment.

But what if you a registered Rover rider and want to go the shopping mall, to the theater or maybe the movies, can you use the county’s paratransit services for these types of “non-essential” trips? Yes, and the full fare cost is 15% of the ride. The Department of Transportation (through the PA Lottery Fund) pays for the remaining 85% of the ride. The rate is calculated on the distance of the ride – the longer the ride, the more expensive it is – however, the fare can also be reduced for group rides.

Here’s an example, say an individual senior wants to go the movies four miles away, the cost would be 15% of the total cost or $1.75 each way. However, if three or more seniors were picked up from the same location and were going to the same location, say the movies four miles away, that fare would be reduced to $1.15 each way, based on the total cost of the trip. To determine the exact cost of a non-essential trip for a Senior Shared Ride, call Rover Community Transportation at 484-696-3854.

For Chester County seniors who are interested in gambling, I was curious if there were plans for Rover to take riders to the Valley Forge Casino Resort (set to open this spring). The casino is located in Montgomery County (versus Chester County), so I was curious if Rover would cross the county line. For Chester County seniors interested in gambling inKing of Prussia, I have good news – if you are registered with the Senior Shared Ride program, Rover will provide rides to the casino.

Rover rides to the casino will be treated just as any other non-essential Senior Shared Ride group trip where groups of seniors go to a social activity such as a play, shopping mall, the movies, etc. A ride to the Valley Forge casino would need to be scheduled prior to 11 AM the day before and must leave from one central location, such as a senior center, retirement community, or one person’s home. Riders would have to pay full fare (15% of the total cost of the ride) since a casino trip is not considered an “essential” ride and therefore not sponsored by the Department of Aging. Riders will be given the exact cost of the ride upfront when scheduling the trip.

No need for Chester County seniors to go to Atlantic City to gamble – once the Valley Forge Casino Resort opens, Rover can provide transportation to the local casino.

I now know that the Rover isn’t just for trips to the doctor or to the grocery store. However, you cannot participate in the Aging Shared Ride Program if you are not registered. Call Rover now to get registered, even if you have other means of transportation available to you. You never know when you may need to go somewhere and your regular transportation is not available.

And as Commissioner Costello told me, “The Rover program can become even more successful in terms of helping County residents if we can continue to raise awareness and increase ridership.”


This article would not have been possible without the help of Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello and the kind folks of Chester County Department of Community Development and Rover Community Transportation.

Santa Arrives Early for Paoli Blues Fest … Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau Awards Festival $10,000 Marketing Grant!

Christmas came early this year for the Paoli Blues Fest!

Paoli Blues Fest, Inc. was notified on Friday that we are a 2012 grant recipient from the Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau Foundation. The Chester County Commissioners approved the CCCVB recommendations for grant recipients and Commissioner Ryan Costello confirmed the $10,000 award with a personal note of congratulations.

Thank you CCCVB for choosing the Paoli Blues Fest to receive one of the top 2012 marketing awards and thank you to our county commissioners for approving the recommendations.

This matching fund award for event marketing will guarantee that the fourth annual blues festival and street fair on Saturday, October 6, 2012 will be even bigger and better than previous years! Below is the press release for the award:

Paoli Blues Fest and Street Fair is Awarded $10,000 as 2012 Grant Recipient from Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation

Just in time for the holidays, the Chester County Commissioners approved the grant recommendations of the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation and the Paoli Blues Fest and Street Fair is a 2012 grant recipient.

Co-chairing the annual blues festival and street fair with Marie Thibault, owner of Partners Advertising, the organization is always looking for funding opportunities. Costs for the annual event are approximately $50K and the country’s economic climate has caused challenges for fund-raising. In addition to funding challenges, the event marketing and marketing costs continue to increase each year, as John Fattibene, partner in Harvest Financial and treasurer of Paoli Blues Fest, Inc. will attest. Generous support for the Paoli Blues Fest is received from individuals and local company and corporate sponsorships, including Paoli Hospital, Paoli Village Shoppes, Malvern Federal Bank, PECO and WXPN, to name a few. Additionally, Paoli Blues Fest receives generous advertising from many sources including Main Line Today Magazine, Main Line Neighbors, Main Line Suburban, the Philadelphia Inquirer and County Life Magazine.

Taking on the role of grant writer for Paoli Blues Fest, Inc., I was thrilled when our non-profit organization was awarded a grant in September from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. This prestigious 2012 Philadelphia Arts Alliance award of $2,000 puts the blues festival among the best arts programs and events in the tri-county region. After only three years, the Paoli Blues Fest has grown to be the largest annual blues festival in the greater Philadelphia region with approximately 15,000 people attending in the festival in 2011.

Encouraged by the grant award from the PA Council of the Arts, I applied for a marketing grant from the Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau Foundation for the 2012 annual blues festival. The CCCVB contributes half of the collected hotel occupancy tax to the Foundation and this provides the major source of funding for the grant program. In addition, individuals and corporations also make tax-deductible contributions to the Foundation.

The Chester County Commissioners approved the 2012 grant recommendations of the CCCVB and I received the notice and a personal note of congratulations for the Paoli Blues Fest from County Commissioner Ryan Costello on Friday, December 17. The CCCVB awarded a total of $163,300 for 2012 capital grants and marketing and event awards to 21 non-profit organizations. The grants awarded ranged from $800 for the Brandywine Singers to a capital grant of $20,000 to the Schuylkill River Heritage Center for its visitors center. In the marketing and event category, the Paoli Blues Fest was awarded one of the top honors with a $10,000 grant.

As anyone who has written a grant application knows, the process can be tedious and time-consuming, especially given our current economic climate. Because of funding challenges, the competition for grant money has become more competitive and the grant requirements more rigorous. The Paoli Blues Fest Board of Directors and committee are overwhelmed by the generous CCCVB award and honored to be chosen as a 2012 recipient.

The fourth annual blues festival and street fair may not be until October 6, 2012 but the planning will begin in January. The committee is a core group of dedicated individuals who meet throughout the year, planning every detail for the one-day event. The annual blues festival and street fair is a great way to get involved in the community and we are always looking for new volunteers to join us. Whether it is serving on the festival committee or helping out in the beer and wine garden on the day of the blues festival, there is plenty to do and something for everyone.

If you are interested in helping with the 2012 Paoli Blues Fest and street fair, email Pattye Benson at or call 610.644.6759.

Why Does Downingtown Need a ‘New’ Train Station . . . Current station is less than 20 years old! What about Assistance for Train Station Projects already started . . . Ardmore? Paoli?

I was surprised by this headline in the Daily Local, ‘State to consider new Downingtown train station’ – What? How about helping the Ardmore Transit Center project or our own Paoli Transportation Center?

According to the article, Bob Garrett, representative from the PA Dept of Transportation presented information to the Downingtown Borough Council that a state-funded study ($200K) will get underway shortly to look for a new site for their train station. What’s wrong with their current train station?

This makes no sense to me for several reasons. First off, how is it possible that less than 2 weeks since passing the state budget, (with major cuts to education and human services) there is money to move the location of Downingtown train station? I researched the current train station in Downingtown and discovered the station is less than 20 years old! The 19th century train station in Downingtown burned down in the early 1990s and was rebuilt sometime prior to 2000. So why does the state think that Downingtown needs a new station and a new location? Apparently, the current station needs more parking and the renovation of the present platform will not allow for sufficient handicap accessibility.

I checked and the Downingtown train station has 213 parking spaces. I believe that like Paoli, Downingtown serves as both a SEPTA and Amtrak station. However, unlike Paoli, only select trains on the Paoli/Thorndale (R5) actually go to the Downingtown train station. The daily passenger traffic at Paoli train station is almost 3 times that of the Downingtown train station. According to a FY2010 Amtrak fact sheet, Paoli daily traffic is 155,000 passengers versus 59,000 passengers at Downingtown train station. Based on the level of passenger traffic, additional parking needs, building improvement, etc. why is the focus not on the Paoli Transportation Center but on moving the location of the Downingtown train station. The redevelopment plans for the Paoli Transportation Center have been in the works for years, whereas the Downingtown train station project appears to be the new kid on the block.

According to Garrett, the state wants to improve the train stations from Philadelphia to Harrisburg in hopes of increasing ridership. This expensive study is to decide where in Downingtown to put the new train station. As an aside, I found it interesting that the Dept of Transportation is without a ‘plan’ of what to do with the old Downingtown train station property once they move the location and build a new station.

My question to the Dept of Transportation is why not finish the train station projects already underway before starting a new one . . . like the Ardmore Transit Center and our own Paoli Transportation Center? When asked how much this project would cost, Garrett was not sure but a renovation at the Elizabethtown train station was $12.5 million. Garrett offered that the state would help with the funding of the train station project in Downingtown.

Online I found a ‘Transportation Funding Crisis’ document which lists the public transportation projects for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District-6 which includes Philadelphia, Chester, Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties. The comprehensive list of transportation projects includes Ardmore and Paoli transportation centers, but no listing whatsoever for the Downingtown train station project. To be fair, there is no date on the Dept. of Transportation document so it may be a year or two old. We know that the state has a finite amount of money for transportation projects, so why add a new project when there is an established list of train station projects already approved? Should there not be a priority to state funding for existing projects?

I would like an update on the Paoli Transportation Center . . . it seems as if the project is in limbo. Where exactly does the project stand? If the answer is, there is ‘no money’, than I think we need to contact Bob Garrett at the PA Department of Transportation office. Obviously if the state is willing to fund the purchase of property and the building of a new train station in Downingtown, that has one-third the level of daily traffic as the Paoli train station, this community is missing out!

What about Paoli Transportation Center — why can’t we get help? Who to contact — Township supervisors . . . State Rep Kampf . . . Senator Dinniman?


I want to mention an op-ed article written by Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello titled, ‘We Must Address Transportation Needs’. As Costello says, “We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the inevitable and ignore the fact that our aging infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and enhancements . . . “

Federal assistance is no longer available for the state’s critical infrastructure needs; help needs to come from Harrisburg.

Political Shortcuts Around Tredyffrin . . .

We learned this week from the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee (TTDEMS) there would be some changes on the November ballot. At-large Democratic supervisor candidate Ernie Falcone’s name appeared on the May primary ballot. However, according to a press release from Dariel Jamieson, chair of the TTDEMS, Falcone has withdrawn from the race, stating ‘personal reasons’. Replacing Falcone as a Democratic at-large supervisor candidate is Murph Wysocki, currently serving as vice chair of the TTDEMS. Wysocki joins Molly Duffy as at-large Democratic candidates. Opposing Wysock and Duffy in November for the 2 at-large supervisor seats will be Republicans Kristen Mayock and Mike Heaberg. At last month’s special election, Heaberg won the special election by 2 votes and now occupies the vacated seat of Warren Kampf. You need a scorecard to keep track of the candidates and the races.

Due to the at-large supervisor candidate switch, I assume that the TTDEMS have to provide the required number of signatures for Wysocki by the August deadline. Falcone must file to officially remove his name from the general election and the TTDEMS will file the necessary paperwork for Wysocki. Also noted in Jamieson’s press release was the announcement that John Cameron, a Democratic committee person from W1 received 979 write-in ballots in the May primary and will run as a candidate for Township Auditor. Cameron will oppose incumbent Bryan Humbarger (R) for the position.

In addition to the two at-large supervisor races, there are two other Tredyffrin supervisor races . . . in the eastern district, incumbent Paul Olson (R) will be challenged by Tory Snyder (D). This is going to be a very interesting race in the township for several reasons. Olson has served on the Board of Supervisors fir 30 years with only a 2-year leave a few years back. Snyder is a first-time supervisor candidate but has served on the township’s Planning Commission for several years and recently chaired the sidewalk subcommittee. If the township supervisors do not resolve the St. Davids sidewalk issue by election time, that issue is apt to play an important role in the Olson-Snyder race . . . Snyder supports the Green Routes network and the township’s plan for sidewalks whereas Olson opposes the sidewalks at St. Davids.

In Tredyffrin’s western region, District 3 has a supervisor position also on the November ballot. Incumbent supervisor John DiBuonaventuro (R) currently holds the seat and has no Democratic opposition. The District 3 supervisor race is the only unopposed Tredyffrin race for the general election. However, there is 5 weeks for that scenario to change! The deadline for a third-party ‘Independent’ candidate to register for the November general election is August 1.

To understand the process and the registration requirements for an Independent candidate, I called Chester County Voter Services. First off, to register as an Independent candidate for November’s general election, you must already be a registered third-party Independent voter (And I believe that you needed to be registered by April 10 as an Independent). Assuming that you meet the initial registration criteria, an Independent candidate must file a ‘Nomination Form’ with required signatures by August 1. How many signatures are required by the Independent candidate? An Independent candidate is required to obtain signatures equal to 2% of the highest vote getter in the last election (November 2010) in the district for which the candidate will register.

According to Michael at voter services, in the 2010 general election District 3, Gerlach received the highest number of votes – 2,538. Calculating 2% of that vote total, and a prospective Independent supervisor will need to obtain 51 signatures for the Nomination Form. Required signatures can come from Republicans, Democrats or Independents as long as the person is a registered voter and is in one of the 4 precincts of District 3. Here’s an interesting aside . . . In doing the precinct calculations for me, Michael discovered an interesting fact . . . in the 2010 State House 157 race, the vote count in District 3 for Warren Kampf and Paul Drucker was exactly the same – 2,239 votes for each.

Back to District 3 discussion, how many registered Independents live in District 3? Assuming that my arithmetic is accurate, the combined total of registered Independents from the 4 precincts in District 3 of the township is 1,240. That means there are 1,240 voters who could collect the required 51 signatures to register as an Independent supervisor candidate and appear on the general election ballot. If you believe that there should be choice in November and you are a registered Independent in District 3, perhaps you will consider challenging JD for his supervisor seat. However, the clock is ticking . . . only 5 weeks for registered Independents in District 3 to make up their mind.

A few more political notes . . . This week I attended the Chester County Preservation Network dinner and reception. An annual event, it highlights the preservation work of the HARBS and Historical Commissions throughout Chester County. I had the pleasure of meeting the newly appointed County Commission Ryan Costello (R). A supporter of historic preservation, Costello was charming and quite personable . . . I could really see him continuing to climb the political ladder. I also received a press release that our former State Rep Paul Drucker (D) will be starting a new job with Kunkle & Sennett, a West Chester law firm specializing in worker’s compensation and employment law.

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