Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Sean Moir

Tredyffrin Township At-Large supervisor candidates Elva Bankins, Louis Horvath, Trip Lukens & Sean Moir respond

Supervisor Candidates for Tredyffrin Township, At-Large
Elva Bankins (D)
Louis Horvath (D)
Trip Lukens (R)
Sean Moir (R)

The Tredyffrin Township Supervisor candidates were asked to answer the following question in 500 words or less.

Please identify a specific character trait that makes you an effective leader. Give an example(s) of how you have utilized that personal characteristic in previous leadership position and, if elected, how residents will benefit from that particular trait. Be specific.

The four candidate responses follow below in alphabetical order according to last name. If your question and/or comment is for a specific candidate, please refer to that individual by name so as not to confuse the reader. Voters will select two of these candidates on November 3 for the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Elva Bankins (D)
At-Large

Communication & Active Listener

With 20+ years of experience in corporate management, technology start-ups and non-profit board leadership, I bring an ability to communicate by actively listening and understanding the needs of others. A small business owner and certified leadership coach, I am a communicator who believes in an open and transparent approach to decision-making and resolving issues.

One example of how I utilized my communication and active listening skills within several disparate groups was in my leadership role with a career services firm. The firm’s purpose was to assist employees who were downsized or “laid off” with their job search. As the general manager, I served several different constituencies with varied and conflicting interests. For example, there were two types of customers; one was my corporate customer who paid for their employee’s services and the other was the effected employee who utilized the services. Additionally, there were many full-time, part-time and contractors who worked for the firm. My responsibilities were extensive. I managed the budget process (P&L), facilities, operations, sales and customer satisfaction. My communications and listening skills while working with multiple constituents were critical to the success of this multi-site operation.

At the request of our corporate customers, the firm opened an office location in the Westlake’s Office Complex in Berwyn, PA. I had continuous meetings with the realtors, our firm’s controller, telecommunications reps, movers, etc., and our employees to ensure a smooth and successful new office opening. While communicating and listening to many constituents, I held costs under budget for the move, ensured customer satisfaction and maintained open and transparent communications throughout the process.

How will this trait benefit Tredyffrin Residents?

If I am elected to the Board of Supervisors, Tredyffrin residents will benefit by getting a communicator who is an active listener. A 22+ year resident of this township, the Board will gain a business professional who can listen to multiple constituents and who will work tirelessly for successfully outcomes. If elected, my vision is to foster closer relationships with our residents and companies that conduct business in Tredyffrin to build a closer sense of community. As a communicator, I bring compassion and a responsible and prudent approach to decision-making while seeking new ways to ensure that we are focused on building a foundation that solidifies the future of Tredyffrin Township and our residents.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Louis Horvath (D)
At-Large

Character traits that best describe me are my lifelong determination to achieve competency, serve others and be a person of the highest integrity.

I am from a humble background. I grew up in the coal region of Western Pennsylvania as the son of a coal miner and a cleaning lady who were not able to attend high school. My roots have provided me with the values of humility, respect and service to all people.

I began my devotion to service at the age of 15 when I entered the Catholic seminary to study for the priesthood. My original intention was to serve others as a missionary in South America. But after graduating from college, I decided to seek a different vocational direction. I completed my graduate studies in Community Health at Temple University and embarked on a rewarding career in health care and education.

My professional career started as a clinician counseling people with alcohol addiction and their families. As I grew in my understanding of the disease, I developed a comprehensive program that improved successful outcomes in meeting patient needs.

My career grew in senior management by enhancing medical services in hospital settings; coordinating mental health services at three organizations; and serving the elderly and special needs children through care management and home care services.

With over 25 years of successful leadership experience in managing health services, addressing and responding to the special needs of the community and listening to their concerns, my journey as a health care administrator and university educator has equipped me with the knowledge, skills and competency to serve the community as a Township Supervisor. They include:

  • Managing employees and benefit administration
  • Monitoring large budgets and capital improvements
  • Improving information system;
  • Leading growth and change in multiple organizations

For three years now I have been fully committed to motivating and guiding students at St. Joseph’s University to become future leaders. I tell my students they will achieve as leaders through determination and by remaining true to themselves and their highest values.

I am an individual committed to the ethical principles of autonomy, which entails respect for others, social justice, and having the courage to do the right thing in the right way. A person of high expectations of self and others, I would like to serve in the best interest of the community. I do my research and homework and base decisions on facts and truth. My interest in service is rooted in my family background, my career in health services and in higher education.

Finally, my strength lies in my spirituality and integrity.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Trip Lukens (R)
At-Large

Consensus Builder

I am a proven consensus builder. For the last eight years, I have served Tredyffrin Township as a member of the Planning Commission. For four of those years, I was elected by a bipartisan group of my peers to serve as either the Vice Chairman or Chairman.

During my eight years of service, I have worked with individuals with competing interest to craft compromises that have worked well for the township. I have been active in advocating for our communities. I was involved in drafting the Township’s Comprehensive and Historic Preservation plans. I have worked to modernize the Township’s zoning ordinances. Those efforts continue as I work to address problems that remain within the Zoning Code which have allowed for excessive density in some of the Township’s Zoning Districts. I have worked diligently to reduce the impact of Storm Water throughout the Township.

My ability to build consensus and to be a bipartisan leader is illustrated by the fact that three former Democratic candidates for Supervisor chose to contribute financially to my campaign to become a Tredyffrin Township Supervisor.

The makeup of the next Board of Supervisors will have members of both parties. The Township will be best served by having a Supervisor with a history of working with people of differing points of view. Given my eight years of service on the Planning Commission and my professional experience in real estate and finance, I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve as a member of the Board of Supervisors.

As a father of three young children, I know how important it is for the Township to provide and support top notch police and fire departments, great municipal parks, and excellent libraries. Tredyffrin Township is a wonderful place to live and I consider myself blessed to be able to raise a family here. Departing Supervisors Mike Heaberg, Kristen Mayock, and J.D. DiBuonaventuro have provided a history of delivering an excellent level of service from the Township with a proven history of excellent fiscal management. I intend to continue this legacy.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Sean Moir (R)
At-Large

Consensus Builder

As a member of Tredyffrin’s Park Board for the last ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of projects that directly affect the daily lives of township residents. Sometimes these involve virtually unquestionable community improvements – like the new scoreboard at Wilson Park – but sometimes the projects also require community buy-in. In these latter cases it’s important to have the ability to act as a consensus builder.

Over the last year I’ve been working on an initiative to establish a safe and convenient access to the Chester Valley Trail from D’Ambrosia Park. This has required working closely with neighboring residents, Supervisors, Park Board members, Public Works, township staff, the Friends of the Chester Valley Trail, Chester County Parks and Facilities, and the adjacent landowner, to develop a mutually agreeable solution for trail access.

When I first approached the Supervisors about this idea in early 2014 there was some concern about neighborhood reaction, so I was asked to contact the residents to discuss the idea. I invited a group of neighbors to attend a Park Board meeting where I presented a possible plan for the D’Ambrosia trail access. There were about a dozen residents in attendance and they expressed their concerns primarily about increased traffic and privacy issues. After demonstrating how we could address these issues, we called for a vote and the neighbors unanimously and enthusiastically agreed to support the project.

After various follow-up meetings on and off site with residents and township staff to discuss possible trail alignments, we developed a plan that was approved by the Supervisors. I also met with representatives from the Friends of the Chester Valley Trail, as well as Chester County Parks and Facilities to formalize a connection agreement. Since this access requires crossing a small section of private property, I contacted the property owner, and managed to foster an agreement between his attorney and the township solicitor.

The project is now in the construction phase, and should be open to the public next spring.

This particular example demonstrates that even the most seemingly simple of public projects can require buy-in from a vast array of stakeholders, any of whom could cause an initiative to stall out. It is critical in these cases to always respect the wishes of all parties involved, especially residents who don’t necessarily have an official role in municipal projects. Only then, through thoughtful consensus building and perseverance, can a public project succeed.

As a Park Board member, I have demonstrated the ability to bring people together to accomplish many objectives. Not only with trail access, but I did it with the Conestoga Road sidewalk project in 2009, the scoreboard at Wilson Park last year, and I’m currently working with the Audubon Society’s Tredyffrin Bird Town chapter to create a bird sanctuary at Westover Park in Devon.

As Supervisor I would apply the same consensus building approach to bigger projects whether they involve the parks, libraries, infrastructure, stormwater, planning, or public safety.

What one specific character trait makes an effective leader? Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates respond

democrats-republicans

In August, the TE School Board candidates were asked to answer the following question in 500 words or less:

Although there are many important issues facing the TE School District, what one issue will you focus on should you be elected? As a school board director, what in your background, experience or education prepares you to help with this specific issue.

All ten TE School Board candidates replied and their responses appeared on Community Matters in August.

Earlier this month, I sent the following email to the Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates:

On November 3, voters in Tredyffrin Township will go to the polls to select four supervisors — two At Large, one 1st District (Eastern) and one 3rd District (West) seats are available. To assist voters in the decision-making process, it is important for the public to know ‘you’, the candidate.

People bring varied backgrounds and qualifications to the job of township supervisor; and as voters, we need help in making the right choices on Election Day. As a result, I am asking each of you to respond to the following statement:

Please identify a specific character trait that makes you an effective leader. Give an example(s) of how you have utilized that personal characteristic in previous leadership position and, if elected, how residents will benefit from that particular trait. Be specific.

Your response should not be a political campaign plug or a laundry list of your accomplishments. Your response needs to (1) focus on a specific personal character trait and (2) an explanation of how that trait will benefit the residents.

All Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates are invited to send a response. Your statement (word doc format) should NOT exceed 500 words and is due no later than October 15, 2015. Your responses will not be edited and will be provided to the public via Community Matters. Your participation is completely voluntary and all candidate responses will appear on Community Matters during the week of October 19.

I heard back from all eight supervisor candidates and their responses will appear on Community Matters in alphabetical order (by last name) on the following schedule:

Tuesday, October 20:
District 1 East: Paul Olson (R) (incumbent)
District 1 East: Tory Snyder (D)

Wednesday, October 21:
District 3 West: Heather Greenberg (R)
District 3 West: Yolanda Van de Krol (D

Thursday, October 22:
Supervisor at Large: Elva Bankins (D)
Supervisor at Large: Lou Horvath (D)
Supervisor at Large: Sean Moir (R)
Supervisor at Large: Trip Lukens (R)

This exercise should be viewed as another tool in the supervisor candidate selection process by us, the voters. In the next few days, please review the candidate responses and you decide if they understood the question and answered appropriately. Who will you support on Election Day?

Primary Election 2015 Results for Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors and School Board Races: Amidst Low Turnout, Results Indicate Interest in Change

Your vote mattersPrimary Election 2015 was yesterday and Chester County Voter Services has now calculated the results. Tredyffrin Township has 9,003 registered Republicans and 8,146 registered Democrats. For Primary Day, it was nearly a dead heat of Republicans and Democrats showing up to vote. Approximately 17.8% of the registered Democrats voted (1,447 voters) and 17.7% of the registered Republicans voted (1,596 voters) yesterday. If you want your vote to matter, you have to vote!

I received some early inaccurate results however the following information is verified from the County website. In reviewing the cumulative results, the total vote count for the Board of Supervisor races are as follows:

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor: At-Large
Sean Moir(R) 1,378
Trip Lukens(R) 1,316
Elva Bankins(D) 1,264
Lou Horvath(D) 1,253

Two at-large seats are available on the Board of Supervisors and no incumbents are in the race. Republicans Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock are current at-large supervisors and are not seeking re-election. Both having previously run unsuccessfully for the Board of Supervisors, Moir and Lukens received the highest number of votes in yesterday’s Primary Election. Political newcomers, Democrats Bankins and Horvath followed closely behind Moir and Lukens in total votes.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor: District 3: West
Yolanda Van de Krol(D) 444
Heather Greenberg (R) 416

Currently serving Western District supervisor John DiBuonaventuro is not seeking reelection. Both newcomers to the municipal supervisor races, Van de Krol received the highest number of votes in the Primary Election.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor: District 1: East
Paul Olson(R) 466
Tory Snyder(D) 464

The District 1 supervisor race has a re-match between Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner chair Tory Snyder(D) and Paul Olson(R), the longest-serving supervisor in the history of the township. If you recall, in 2011, this particular supervisor race was extremely close with only 13 votes separating them in the General Election. For Primary Election 2015, Olson received only two more votes than Snyder. It doesn’t get much closer, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next 6 months.

For many people, the Board of Supervisor races have taken a backseat to the TE School Board races.

Five of the nine seats on the school board are available. Four Board members, Karen Cruickshank (D), Pete Motel(R), Jim Bruce(R) and Liz Mercogliano(R) are not seeking reelection. The fifth available school board seat is held currently by Board President Kris Graham(R) who is seeking reelection.

The unresolved school fencing issues, the very expensive $4 million + maintenance building and the outsourcing of the aides and paraeducators are just three school district issues that recently have had some of us questioning the decisions of the current school board. The Primary Election results indicate an interest from the community in ‘change’, particularly the numbers in Tredyffrin, Region 2.

TE School Board: Tredyffrin West, Region 2
Michele Burger(D) 1138
Ed Sweeney(R) 922
Kris Graham(R) 764
Alan Yockey(D) 691*
(*Not cross-filed)

In the only school board race with an incumbent, Democrat Michele Burger has a commanding lead, with more than 200 votes separating her and Republican Ed Sweeney, with incumbent Kris Graham(R) in third place. With only two seats available in Region 2, if the General Election were held today it would mean that incumbent Kris Graham would no longer be sitting on the school board.

TE School Board: Tredyffrin East, Region 1
Roberta Hotinski(D) 604
Todd Kantorczyk (D) 572
Neal Colligan(R) 495
George Anderson(R) 398*
(*Not cross-filed)

Two positions on the school board are available in Region 1. All political newcomers, the Democratic candidates Roberta Hotinski and Todd Kantorczyk received the two highest vote totals in the Primary Election.

In addition to the Region 1 and Region 2 seats in Tredyffrin Township, Region 3 in Easttown Township has one seat available. Currently serving school board director Dr. Pete Motel(R) is not seeking reelection.

The Primary Election results for Easttown, Region 3 have Republican Kate Murphy receiving 610 votes and Democratic Fran Reardon receiving 268 votes. Reardon did not cross-file. Although both Murphy and Reardon themselves are newcomers to the school board races, Murphy is the daughter of a well-known local political family, Steve and Carol Aichele. Steve Aichele served as the Chief of Staff for former PA Governor Tom Corbett. Carol Aichele served as Secretary of the Commonwealth under Corbett and previously served as a Chester County Commissioner and TE School Board member.

The results of the Region 2 School Board race should be a message not just to incumbent Kris Graham but to the entire school board. More and more people are ‘tuning in’ as to what is going on and do not necessarily support some of this Board’s decisions. Whether it is the increasing taxes, school fencing, outsourcing of District employees, an over-priced maintenance building, lack of transparency, etc. – these votes reflect a desire for change. The Board needs to accept that this is no longer a ‘few discontents’ but that more and more residents are paying attention and are troubled by some of their decisions.

It will be interesting to see if the Primary Election proves to be an indicator for what we will see in November. It is six months until the General Election and much can happen between now and then, particularly with the addition of the Independent voters. Pennsylvania does not allow Independent voters a voice in the Primary Election but come November, our votes will count! I am sure that the local political analysts will have more to say on the Primary Election results and I welcome the discussion.

In closing, I have to include this photo from Primary Day. I ran into the Democrat and Republican chairs (Kathleen Keohane and Neill Kling) at Our Lady of the Assumption, one of the voting locations yesterday and they generously posed for this photo. Although I’m delighted to include it here on Community Matters, I challenged each of them to include it on the respective websites!

Kathleen Keohane and Neill Kling

Kathleen Keohane, Tredyffrin Democratic Party Chair with Neill Kling, Chair of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee on Primary Election Day, Our Lady of the Assumption.

Slate of Candidates Final for Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors and TE School District Races

If you are a candidate for the TE School Board or the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, March 10 marked the last day to circulate and file nomination petitions at Chester County Voter Services for Pennsylvania’s May 19, 2015 Primary Election.

TE School Board candidates must file a petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district for the political party with which the petition will be filed. Generally, school board candidates cross-file. To cross-file in a primary election (that is, to run on both parties), a registered Democrat or Republican must circulate a proper petition for the other party. The petition must contain signatures as previously mentioned. If elected on both party ballots in the May primary, a candidate will appear on both party ballots in the general election in November.

Between the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and the TE School Board, there are a total of nine seats available and of those nine seats there are only two incumbents seeking reelection. In addition, the current Tredyffrin Township Auditor Bryan Humbarger (R) is not seeking reelection. The candidates for Tredyffrin Township Auditor are Mary McCracken (D) and Lynn Shine (R).

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

• District 1 East: Paul Olson *
• Supervisor at Large: Sean Moir
• Supervisor at Large: Trip Lukens
• District 3 West: Heather Greenberg
* Incumbent

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

• District 1 East: Tory Snyder
• Supervisor at Large: Elva Bankins
• Supervisor at Large: Lou Horvath
• District 3 West: Yolanda Van de Krol

In a review of the slate of supervisor candidates, there are some familiar names and some not so familiar names among the list. The District 1 East supervisor race has a re-match between Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner Chair Tory Snyder (D) and long-serving Republican supervisor Paul Olson, president of ANA Laboratories, Inc. If you recall in 2011, this particular Tredyffrin supervisor race was extremely close with Olson (R) receiving 1,331 votes and Snyder (D) receiving 1,318 votes. Only 13 votes separated the two candidates four years ago, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2015.

Besides Snyder, there are two other Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioners seeking elected office – At-Large supervisor candidate Trip Lukens (R) and TE School Board candidate Ed Sweeney (R). Lukens, a principal at Lukens & Wolf, a real estate appraisal and consulting company ran with current Chester County Commissioner Michele Kichline (R) as at-large supervisor candidates two years ago but lost the election to Democrats Mark Freed and Murph Wysocki.

Another interesting twist in the 2015 supervisor candidate race is at-large candidate Sean Moir (R). Owner of Western Heritage Mapping, a historical mapping service, Moir isn’t new to the local campaign circuit. Moir previously ran as a Tredyffrin at-large supervisor candidate six years ago but as a Democratic candidate. I was on the Democratic ballot as an at-large supervisor candidate with Sean but following our defeat in 2009, I changed my political party status back to Independent whereas Sean’s path took him to the Republican Party.

New names to the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisor races includes candidates Heather Greenberg (R), Elva Bankins (D), Lou Horvath (D) and Yolanda Van de Krol (D). A quick Google search indicates that Greenberg is a CPA working as Director of Finance and Administration at ModSolar; Bankins is management consultant and leadership development coach and speaker; Horvath is Director of graduate online health services at St. Joseph’s University and Van de Krol is Vice President, Relationship Manager at Customers Bank.

Looking at the TE School Board, there are five open seats available this election cycle – two for Tredyffrin Region 1, two for Tredyffrin Region 2 and one for Easttown Region 3.

The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Neal Colligan
• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: George Anderson
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Kris Graham*
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Edward Sweeney
*Incumbent

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Roberta Hotinski
• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Todd Kantorczyk
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Michele Burger
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Alan Yockey

In addition to the Region 1 and Region 2 seats in Tredyffrin Township, Region 3 in Easttown Township has one seat available. Currently serving school board director Dr. Pete Motel (R) is not seeking reelection. Republican candidate for Region 3 is Kate Murphy and the Democratic candidate is Francis Reardon, owner of a local construction company.

Democrats on the ballot for Tredyffrin East Region 1 are Dr. Roberta Hotinski, a geoscientist at Princeton Environmental Institute and environmental attorney Todd Kanatorczyk, a partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox. Republicans opposing Hotinski and Kanatorscyk in Tredyffrin East Region 1 are Neal Colligan, a commercial mortgage banker at CKPP & Associates and Dr. George Anderson, Director of International Student Development at Valley Forge Military Academy. I am pleased that my friend Neal Colligan, a mainstay at regular school board meetings and finance committee meetings, is a candidate for the school board. A longstanding supporter of the District’s aides and paras, he has continually offered background and expertise on the District’s finances.

Currently serving as TE School Board President, Republican Kris Graham is seeking reelection to another term. Attorney with Wusinich & Brogan and current Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner Ed Sweeney (R) is running with Graham for Tredyffrin West Region 2. Opposing Graham and Sweeney are Democrats Michele Burger and Alan Yockey. You may recall, Michele Burger was front and center on the Valley Forge tennis court issue, helping to save them from demolition by the school district. Joining Berger for Region 2 is Alan Yockey, a retired IT consultant.

Here’s hoping that the focus of the local 2015 political campaign season is about the issues and the candidates that best represent the vision of the community. It’s important to know the person that you are voting for and whether or not the candidate best represents your views. It’s your school district and your township – make your vote count! Thank you to all of the candidates for stepping up to run for office!

The Revolution in Chester County. . . Technology Helps Shed New Light on Local History

History Buffs . . . Don’t miss this opportunity!

“A Fortnight in Chester County:
The American Revolution in our own Backyard”

~ with Sean Moir, Guest Lecturer

Thursday, February 23

Lecture: 7:00 PM

Tredyffrin Public Library
582 Upper Gulph Road
Strafford, PA 19087

Cost: Free
Info: 610.688.7092, ext. 206

What can technology tell us about the troop movement through Chester County during the Revolutionary War?

Follow the movements of the British and American Armies, hour by hour, through the Battles of 1777 – A unique electronic map brings the battles of Brandywine and Paoli to life!

Sean Moir, Chester County GIS analyst and historic researcher, will present an animated map of Revolutionary War troop movements in Chester County and Tredyffrin Township as part of the Fall Trust lecture series. The lecture will discuss the multi-award winning county project, sponsored by the National Park Service and the American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP), which included the researching, mapping, and animating of the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign conflicts, specifically the Battle of Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre.

A Tredyffrin Township resident, Sean combined his software and GIS skills with his personal interest in history to create groundbreaking animated battle maps which he has presented to audiences across the region. In addition to the military element, the project included heavy emphasis on mapping the cultural landscape of the 18th century upon which the fighting and marching occurred. The research helped to produce an 18th century road map of the region. With the help of countless volunteers, the project is driving the completion of fourteen municipal historic resource surveys for the Chester County Historic Resource Atlas project.

Devon Petitions: Where do we go from here?

I attended the Devon Petitions town hall meeting last night. Organized by Sean Moir and Rich Brake, 34 residents attended, including elected officials — State Rep Warren Kampf, township supervisor Mike Heaberg and school board director Anne Crowley (in addition to school board director Rich Brake).

The basis for the Devon Petitions: Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin was a four question on-line survey. Moir and Brake offered that they received 114 responses to their survey. The four questions were broad in their scope. On the township side, the questions asked responders (1) to list recommendations for stimulating economic growth and (2) what did they consider the greatest challenges for long-term economic growth in the township. On the school district side, the survey asked responders to (1) list recommendations for improving student achievement and (2) the greatest challenge to improving educational quality in T/E.

Moir presented the responses to the township side of the survey and Brake presented the responses for the school district questions.

For the township side of the survey, Moir presented the list of responses to the two questions.

Question: Revitalizing the local economy of Tredyffrin Township in these tough economic times is a top priority for our community. Please list your top two or three concrete recommendations that will stimulate economic growth without busting the township budget. Here are the responses based on the order of popularity:

1. Paoli downtown

  • Paoli transportation center
  • Improved parking

2. Taxes

  • Keep property taxes low
  • Tax breaks for business
  • Implement EIT
  • Don’t implement EIT
  • Chesterbrook
  • Better walkability/sidewalks
  • Community events
  • Reduce regulations

Question: What do you see as the greatest challenge(s) to achieving long-term economic growth in Tredyffrin Township? Here are the responses based on the level of popularity:

1. National economy

2. Maintaining property values

3. Politics get in the way

4. Taxes

  • keep taxes low
  • reluctance to raise taxes
  • reliance on corporate taxes
  • reliance on transfer taxes

5. Improve permit process

6. No downtown

7. Lack of vision

8. Competition from other townships

As reported by Moir and Brake, the majority of those that responded to the survey, considered the Paoli town center and transportation center as most important for stimulating growth in the township. The discussion from the audience quickly turned to the empty storefronts, not just in Paoli but also throughout the township. The general feeling from those in attendance was there needs to be greater support for the community’s small business owners and the suggestion to reducing the ‘red tape’ of regulations and permit issues.

Two of the six members of the township’s Business Development Advisory Council, Stanford Nishikawa and Eric Kleppe attended the meeting and explained their mission was to develop strategies for economic stimulus in the township and to present their recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

It was apparent to me last night, that many residents share my concern and desire to support small businesses in the township. As a small business owner in the township, I find it very troubling that there are no small business owners sitting on the advisory board. Although Nishikawa and Kleppe discussed meeting with Judy Huey and her brother Rob (owners of Paoli Village Shoppes), I was unclear on any further outreach plans by the advisory group to small business owners. Kleppe explained that the group started meeting in December and the project is to take 4-6 months before the public hears their recommendations. Keeping money local and in the community by supporting local small businesses is important and Nishikawa and Kleppe were encouraged to receive genuine input from the small business owners. Here’s hoping that they heard the message and take it back to the other members.

There were suggestions that the economic advisory group should look at successful business areas within the township (Gateway Shopping Center) and communities outside the township (Media,Wayne, Phoenixville,West Chester) that have successful business models and see if it can be duplicated in downtown Paoli.

The survey results indicated the national economy as the greatest challenge for achieving long-term economic growth in Tredyffrin. Because of the economic situation, another challenge then becomes how does the community maintain their property values? Although not intended as a political project by Moir and Brake, it was interesting to note that respondents to the Devon Petition, suggested lack of vision in the community and politics as challenges for long-term economic growth in the township.

For the school district side of the survey, Brake provided a list of the responses to the two questions.

Question: Improving the educational quality of our T/E schools in these tough economic times is a top priority for our community. Please list your top two or three concrete recommendations that will improve student achievement without busting the district budget. Here are the responses/issues to the in order of popularity:

1. Budgetary Recommendations

  • More realistic salaries, benefits & pensions for teachers
  • No more educational program cuts/maintain spending
  • New local revenue sources
  • Greater use of budgetary reserves

2. Curricular Recommendations

  • More focus on core subjects/less on non-academics
  • Reinstate improve foreign language offerings
  • Less standardized testing
  • Better math/science education
  • Maintain small class sizes
  • Better vocational/technical education for real-world jobs

3. Public Private Partnership Recommendations

  • Solicit & secure corporate support for academic programs
  • Establish institutional advancement initiatives (Philanthropy)
  • Volunteer teaching opportunities

4. School Day/Climate Recommendations (tied for 3rd)

  • Start school day later
  • More focus on average student
  • Year-round school
  • All day kindergarten
  • Redesign middle schools
  • Address drug/alcohol problem
  • More parental involvement
  • Less “busy-work” homework

5. Teacher Recommendations

  • Better support of teachers/teaching training
  • Implement merit pay programs
  • Explore alternative teacher certification programs
  • Better guidance counselors

6. IT Recommendations

  • More online courses
  • Better IT infrastructure for e-learning
  • Improved educational web pages

Question: What do you see as the greatest challenge(s) to improving the educational quality of our T/E schools? Here are the responses/issues to the in order of popularity:

1. Pension

2. Taxaphobia (#2 and #3 tied)

2. TEEA salaries/contract

4. Program cuts

5. Sub-par teaching methods

6. State mandates

7. Rising health costs

8. No problems with quality

9. Too much standardized testing (tied)

9. Lack of support for teachers (tied)

11. Keeping small class sizes (tied)

11. High administration costs (tied)

11. Lack of original thinking (tied)

Funding the state pension and the current teacher contract negotiations were discussed as the most important school district issues. Although there is high regard for the T/E schoolteachers, it was the consensus that the next teachers contract needs to include a more reasonable benefit plan, particularly health care.

I have attended many school board meetings and subcommittee meetings and I don’t know of any public/private partnership discussions. The idea of partnering with local corporations and providing volunteer teaching opportunities was innovative and could be explored ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to help with the escalating school district cost.

I asked Moir and Brake their thoughts on last night’s meeting; were they pleased/disappointed. Brake responded,

The results of our survey confirm that our community is fully aware of the budgetary challenges that the school district faces, as the pension crisis and a more sustainable salary and benefits package for our fine teachers were the most mentioned responses to our two education questions. These twin budgetary concerns were tied, not surprisingly, to the public’s desire to maintain our high educational standards and results. Clearly, the community is ready for problem solving in those two areas, and are eager to continue the process of educating the public in order to build community consensus and forward momentum. I walked away encouraged that we have a very smart and realistic community, and they are ready to exercise leadership in these areas.

Moir’s response,

I’ll add that I was happy with the turnout, which was 34 people including the presenters. It was nice to see a mix of state and local officials, various board and commission members, as well as residents who are not the “usual suspects” at board meetings.

Once we get our notes together, I’m hoping that the Tredyffrin Business Development Advisory Council will follow through with some of the citizen suggestions, which included meeting directly with commercial property managers, developers, and small business owners to discuss what it might take to stimulate local business development. That was something that we seemed to have consensus on that cut across party lines – just the kind of common ground we were hoping for.

Moir and Brake hope to have the meeting notes available for distribution next week. In response to my “what’s next”, they think they will know more after they send out the notes and ask for participant feedback. According to Brake, he is “hopeful that some audience members will take up the mantle.”

So, where does this grass roots effort really go from here? Last night’s audience members were engaged and respectful but as contained in the meetings introduction,Tredyffrin Township has a population of 29,000 people living in 11,000 households. Yet only 114 people responded to the Devon Petition survey and only 34 people showed up for the meeting. Yes, it was a holiday weekend and people were away but . . . ?

For change to occur, we need people with a vision and then the willingness and determination to make their vision a reality. The very essence of leadership is vision. As Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

So … where do we go from here?

Devon Petitions: Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin — Citizen forum tonight!

Our first president, George Washington, was born on February 22, 1732. Today, George Washington’s birthday is celebrated as a national event annually on the third Monday of February.

Appropriately choosing President’s Day for tonight’s citizen forum, Sean Moir and Rich Brake, will present their initiative, “The Devon Petitions: Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin” tonight at Saint Luke Lutheran Church, 203 North Valley Forge Road, Devon, 7-9 PM. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Moir and Brake are convinced that “there’s a way to stay true to your principles, sometimes disagree but in the end be able to forge common ground that can move Tredyffrin forward.”

The friends took a two-step approach in designing the program. First, they asked community members to answer a simple four-question survey that asked for ideas on how to improve the local economy and the schools. The second part of their community solutions plan includes tonight’s presentation of the survey results in a town hall-style meeting to exchange ideas and discuss some of the big issues facing our community.

I think that George Washington would have supported the Moir-Brake citizen forum approach to open discussion and debate. As Washington told the officers of the Army on May 15, 1783, “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

I encourage everyone who is reading Community Matters to come out tonight to support this citizen forum for community discussion. In discussing their expectations for the meeting tonight, Moir wrote, “We’re hoping to engage a broad segment of the community in a constructive dialogue about important local issues, and if we’re lucky, it’ll be a conversation that continues and develops over time.”

A good way to celebrate President’s Day, I hope to see many of you at Devon Petitions: Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin.

Occupy Tredyffrin, Populism and a little Tea Party!

Question: In Tredyffrin Township, what do you get if you combine a former Democratic township supervisor candidate with a current Republican school board member and mix in their love of the Phillies, craft beer and American history?

Answer: Occupy Tredyffrin, populism and a little Tea Party, or . . . a couple of friends who love their community and want to help make it better.

In this case, friends Sean Moir and Rich Brake, pooled their interests and love of community and came up with a plan for the people – for all of us. Calling their initiative, “The Devon Petitions: Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin”, they are convinced that “. . . there’s a way to stay to true to your principles, sometimes disagree but in the end be able to forge common ground that can move Tredyffrin forward.”

Theirs is a two-step approach. First, they ask community members to answer a simple four-question on-line survey that asks us to provide ideas on how to improve the economy and the schools. Click here for the survey.

The second part of their Community Solutions plan includes presenting the survey results in a citizen forum on Monday, February 20, 7 – 9 PM at Saint Luke Lutheran Church, 203 North Valley Forge Road, Devon, 19333.

Appropriately choosing President’s Day for their citizen forum, Moir and Brake hope to engage the public in a town hall-style meeting for an exchange of ideas to discuss and deliberate over some of the big issues facing our community.

According to Moir, “. . . we are providing an un-intimidating forum where all citizens are invited to lend their talents to help develop solutions to the current budgetary situation.” Brake offers, “. . . Bottom line – we think that we are performing a public service, and we hope to foster a sense of deliberation and empowerment among the Tredyffrin citizenry.”

Encouraging all of us to participate in the survey and the citizen’s forum, these two friends say, “. . . they believe that this is about small “d” democracy and the virtues of local self-government.” Based on survey results and the citizen’s forum, they plan to forward the recommendations to the Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

I have told Sean and Rich that I completely support their community initiative. I will take the survey and encourage all who are reading this, to do the same and then pass it along. Your voice counts — and the success of the project is tied directly to the number of respondents.

Is ‘Community Solutions for a Better Tredyffrin’ a bit like mixing Occupy Tredyffrin, populism and the Tea Party movement together? Maybe . . . but I say, its two guys that care about our community just trying to make it better!

I know where I will be on President’s Day 2012 and . . . I think that George Washington would have approved!

Sean Moir’s Animated Maps Brings the Battles of Paoli and Brandywine to Life!

At last week’s Trust lecture, Sean Moir, a GIS Analyst with Chester County, presented an animated map of the Revolutionary War troop movements in Chester County and Tredyffrin Township. Sean has worked for the last three years researching, mapping, and animating the conflicts of the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, specifically the Battle of Brandywine and the Paoli Massacre.

His lecture for the Trust drew a standing-room only crowd to the Duportail House and his exciting presentation held the attention of everyone in attendance.

Sean’s award-winning mapping project is amazing and how he managed to bring to life the Revolutionary War battles of Paoli and Brandywine is remarkable. I feel privileged to live in one of the houses on a road that witnessed troop movement during that part of our country’s history.

With Sean’s approval, my husband Jeff videotaped the lecture and uploaded the 1 hr. and 19 min. presentation to You Tube for others to enjoy. Jeff noted that the video is best viewed if you select ‘full screen mode’ in You Tube. Jeff added the following comment when he emailed the link:

I thought that the anecdotal comments by Sean, including relating modern locations to the battlefield was great. I think this could be used as a great tool to teach people this part of history locally and nationwide.

Jeff is right – the mapping project and Sean’s lecture are important and should be included in the local history curriculum.

Here’s the link to the You Tube video of Sean’s lecture. Hope that you will watch it and maybe learn something new about the historic community that we all call home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1qZerx638A

A great presentation Sean — thank you my friend!

 

Tredyffrin: Open for Business . . . and Closed

The economy is taking its toll on businesses across America and unfortunately, locally we are not immune. There is such joy when we see signs of growth and development in the area retail and restaurant market but a sense of sadness when we see the closed signs. It is particularly tough if you know the owner and developed a relationship with one of these entrepreneurs who dared take the journey in spite of the economic warning signs.

Such is the case for me with Jake’s Frozen Custard in the Paoli Village Shoppes and owner Missy Shaw. With enthusiasm and Midwestern charm, Missy opened Jake’s 10 months ago and this week a ‘closed’ sign hangs on the door. Missy’s smile and good humor was contagious . . . her spirit (and her frozen custard) will be missed!

If Jake’s closing has you looking for respite from the summer sun, remember other local favorites Whirled Peace and Rita’s Water Ice in Paoli and Handel’s Ice Cream in Berwyn.

Another Paoli business that opened with fanfare last year but recently closed it doors — Doggie Style, a boutique-type pet supply shop in the Paoli Shopping Center . . . don’t know if it saw it’s first anniversary.

However, there are some openings in Paoli to report – Shoppe Flare, specializing in gifts and monogrammed items, opened on Lancaster Avenue across from the Paoli Village Shoppes. Re-Max Realty on Lancaster Avenue is now sharing space with a new Dunkin’ Donuts store. The newly opened store with a drive-through window is only a couple of blocks from the existing Dunking Donuts. According to the manager of the new store, the same person owns the two locations. Until the lease runs out on the old store across from the train station next year, both locations will be open.

If you have driven down Rt. 252 in Devon lately, you will notice much activity in the Valley Fair shopping center. The construction on the new McKenzie’s microbrewery is well underway. Retrofitting the old Charlie Brown’s restaurant, McKenzie’s is planning a September opening — we’ll have to wait and see if they meet their planned timeline. In the same shopping center, the new Mealey’s furniture store is also moving forward in their construction.

The long empty box store that housed Linens & Things in Devon may have a new tenant. The interior of the store has recently been gutted and new checkout counters installed . . . no more specifics, although a hopeful reader suggested maybe a Bottom Dollar grocery store. Speaking of the Bottom Dollar grocery store chain, remember for a while the Chesterbrook residents thought that Bottom Dollar was headed for the empty Genuardi’s space. Although the Bottom Dollar deal fell through other rumored tenants have surfaced, including a farmer’s market and recently a Movie Tavern. A fun concept with a full bar and food menu (plus movies) this idea for the Genuardi’s space is also ‘dead on arrival’. Apparently, the prospective Movie Tavern developer did not think that Chesterbrook shopping center provided sufficient visibility. (If you are interested, a Movie Tavern recently opened to rave reviews in Collegeville).

There are new rumors swirling for the old Duffy’s catering property in Daylesford. If you recall, a controversial high-density mixed use development plan by developer ARC Wheeler failed to win public support in 2007 and the property has remained vacant and undeveloped. Apparently, there is new discussion for the 13-acre site – nothing firm yet but I have heard assisted living or retirement center development plans.

As of last month, the Whole Foods in Devon is now selling beer for take-out and in their new Mile Post Pub. Looks like a new Starbucks location for Devon . . . Township planning commissioners reviewed a sketch plan for the construction of a Starbucks and drive-thru in the Devon Village Shopping Center at last week’s planning commission meeting.

A different kind of ‘closing’ occurred in Mt. Pleasant on July 21. Ruled accidental by Tredyffrin police, a fire totally destroyed the playground equipment at Mazie Hall Park. An early estimate of $60,000 in damage, the township playground is insured. Looking ahead to a timeline for repairs and a new ‘opening’ for the local residents, a meeting was held last night with township staff, supervisors and Mt. Pleasant representatives. Sean Moir, chair of Parks and Recreation attended the meeting and provided the following update from the meeting:

There was a meeting tonight between township officials and Mt. Pleasant community leaders to discuss the Mazie B. Hall tot lot fire. Paul Olson, Michelle Kichline, Mimi Gleason, Dean Wilkins, and myself were representing the township.

The township has filed an insurance claim . . . The Park Board has been asked to come up with replacement options for the community. Once the options have been compiled, they will be presented to the community and we will try to provide the best affordable solution.

It’s hard to predict the timing since we don’t know when the insurance company will get back to us.

Here’s hoping that the insurance company can move quickly to settle the case and get the playground at Mazie Hall Park ‘open for business’.

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