Top stories of 2013

By FRAN MAYE

fmaye@21st-centurymedia.com

From Victory Brewing Co. announcing they will be coming to Kennett Square, to the New Year’s Eve mushroom drop that made national headlines, here are the top 10 stories in the Kennett and Unionville area in 2013.

1. Victory Brewing Co. to be located in Kennett Square.

In August, officials at Victory Brewing Co. announced they signed a lease with Kennett Square Realty to develop an upscale brew pub with on-site brewing and take put beer. Victory Brewing plans to add more than 100 employees and plans to open late in the spring of 2014. It will occupy all 8,234 square feet of the bottom floor of a four–story, luxury apartment building located near West Cypress Street and Mill road in Kennett Square.

2. The Market at Liberty Place

In the spring, Larry Bosley, a former superintendent at Kennett Consolidated School District, began construction of a market reminiscent of a mini Reading Terminal Market. The latest vendor, Punk’d Pineapple, whose specialty is soft ice cream, opened in December. Other vendors at the market include Rick’s Steaks, State Street Pizza and Grill, George and Son Seafood, Nourish Juice Bar and Café, Paradocx Vineyard, Yo’r So Sweet, and Terra Foods. The Market features live music most Friday nights, and Bosley is hoping to attract a couple of new vendors in 2014.

3. KAU Kings get to Little League World Series

The KAU Kennett Kings captured the hearts of sports fans in southern Chester County when the team captured the national senior circuit Little League title. It meant that no other Little League team in the United States was better than the Kennett Team. The team traveled to Bangor Maine to compete in Little League World Series play. The Kings started well, winning the first two games of the Little League senior division with victories over Texas and Africa. A team from Chitre, Panama, defeated KAU in the championship game, 21, despite a late seventh-inning rally that put runners on second and third with only one out.

4. Mabel Thompson dies.

Mabel Thompson, a historian, educator and political activist, died at the age of 82 on July 16 of kidney failure in Newton, Mass, where she lived with her son, Phillip and daughter-in-law, Dayna Cunningham. She was the founder of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. CommUNITY breakfast in Kennett Square, as well as a member of the founding committee of the Kennett Area YMCA facility. She also served on the boards of the Chester County Hospital, the Kennett Area Senior, La Comunidad Hispana, the Kennett Square Revitalization Task force and the Southeastern Chester County Historical Society.

5. Mushroom drop – Midnight in the Square

A stainless-steel mushroom, measuring 8 feet high by 8 feet wide, was dropped from about 100 feet in the air from a crane at State and Union streets on New Year’s Eve just before the stroke of midnight. When the event was announced late in the year, it spread like wildfire, and was picked up by national news organizations. A segment even ran on Good Morning America. It was just the latest in events that helped to attract people to the historic town. The drop will now be an annual event, with organizers refining it to see what worked and what didn’t. The best part is that Kennett Square taxpayers didn’t foot a dime for the event. The stainless-steel mushroom was donated by To-Jo Mushroom Co. and the local merchants held a fund-raiser for a quick infusion of cash.

6. Kennett High School sports complex gets lights

In August, light poles and rigging for lights arrived at Kennett High School, marking a new era for high school sports. It took four years, two carnivals and dozens of fundraisers for the Demon Lights committee to raise funds for the lights. And despite the objection of two nearby homeowners who took the plan to court, the school administration won in the end, supported by Kennett Square borough council. The lights benefit more than the Blue Demons football team. There’s the boys soccer, girl soccer, lacrosse, and field hockey teams who will benefit from the lights as well. In the end, more than 200,000 was raised for the lights project, and taxpayers didn’t have to pay at all.

7. Unionville graduate get Miss Delaware crown

Rebecca Jackson, a 2010 graduate of Unionville High School, got a dream come true when she was crowned Miss Delaware in July. Jackson, 21, a student at the University of Delaware, took an educational leave of absence for a year to perform her responsibilities associated with her new title. Her first duty was to represent Delaware at the Dover Fourth of July Parade. She fell short of winning the Miss USA crown, however.

8. New Garden gets full-time police coverage.

The announcement that New Garden police would employ 24-7 coverage came in June, but it wasn’t until December that borough officials made it official. The supervisors approved the program that provides round-the-clock police coverage in the township. Before the action, state police covered calls between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. for the hours of the day township police are off duty. The pilot program allows for the hiring of three new part-time officers who will be used to pad out the existing force and provide full-day coverage. “This community deserves this,” said Gerald Simpson, New Garden police chief.

9. Unionville gets a new community park

The first phase of a new community park in Unionville is already under construction. In June, East Marlborough Township supervisors approved a land purchase for Unoinville Park, the first phase of which will be completed in the coming months. The 4.5-acredtract that currently includes the post office and other buildings in the area cost $225,000. The purchase spares the township the expense of building a parking lot for the park. The money for the park purchase came from funds designated for open space and recreational programs.

10. Holly Manzone resigns from Unionville school board

When Unionville School Director Holly Manzone resigned in October, it was a shock to many. But when her resignations came with accusations that there was a lack of transparency among school directors, it was especially shocking. And she inferred that the superintendent of schools, John Sanville, made a secret agreement with an out-of-district homeowner to send their children to Unionville schools, which are consistently ranked among the best schools not only in the county, but in the nation.” The final straw for me has been a recent situation in which the district administration failed to adequately investigate and pursue a clear violation of our residency requirements, confirmed by investigative reports,” Manzone said in her resignation letter to the board. Shortly after, school directors held a meeting to specifically rebuff Manzone’s comments. The board is well on its way to healing with the election of three new members, Carolyn Daniels, Steven Simonson and Michael Rock. Vic Dupuis will preside of the board in 2014, and Gregg Lindner is vice president.

Honorable Mention: Michael Walker honored

In July, state and local officials honored the man largely responsible for Kennett Square’s resurgence – Michael R. Walker. The Genesis Health Care Building at Union and State streets was named the Michael R. Walker Building in honor of the man who brought prosperity to town a couple of decades ago. “Mike Walker is a visionary, with the proven ability to carry out his vision through superb management, persuasive advocacy and sheer heart work,” said Earl Baker, government relations consultant for Genesis and a former county commissioner and state senator.

The rest:

Rep. Chris Ross announces he won’t seek re-election, and 2014 will be his last year as a public servant; Hood’s Barbecue in Unionville gets the approval to expand; Wegman’s announces plans to build a new megastore off Route 1 in Chadds Ford; 10 people were arrested in a heroin crackdown in New Garden Township in April; the Bayard Taylor Library in Kennett Square confirms it will not move out of the borough; the Unionville girls cross country team is ranked as tops in the nation.