THE WAITING ROOM: Three-by-five cards
Apparently you no longer just "wait" for your car to be serviced. I was at a dealership this morning and was asked, "Will you be hanging with us today?"
Yes, thank you, I would be. I had brought a hardcopy proofreading project with me, so I took a seat in the "hanging" room, inserted my earbuds and got to work while the mechanics replaced my faulty Takata airbags.
After a while, I noticed that the man sitting next to me was poring over a stack of index cards, jotting occasional numbers in pen.
I grew so curious that I formulated a neutral opening remark: "Looks like this corner of the room is a paper-and-pencil zone," I said brightly. If he was doing something sinister, I figured, he'd simply glare at me.
In fact, he was eager to chat. It seems that he works for a medical device company and uses the index cards to keep track of each surgeon's preferences and what spinal implants he or she will need to have on hand for upcoming cases. He explained that his coworkers input all their data into their computers or phones, but he prefers to keep his notes the old-fashioned way.
WEST MARLBOROUGH: Tax increase for emergency services and library
West Marlborough Township taxpayers will see their property taxes increase from 1.7 mills to 2 mills in 2020 to help pay for emergency services and for construction of the proposed Kennett Library. The supervisors unanimously approved the tax increase at a contentious meeting the morning of Dec. 13.
The half-dozen residents who attended told the supervisors loud and clear that although they support funding emergency services, they don't think West Marlborough should help to fund construction of a new library. The supervisors are proposing to contribute $15,000 a year for five years to fund the library construction, or $18.42 per resident. The township currently contributes $1,500 a year ($1.84 per resident) to fund library programs.
In comparison, the budget calls for a $65,000 contribution to the emergency services that serve West Marlborough, or $79.85 per resident.
The supervisors responded that they heard what the upset residents were saying, but they need to balance those objections against the support for the library project that they've heard from many other residents.
The supervisors are also proposing to raise the township's earned income tax from 0.50% to 0.75%. They will vote on that increase and on the overall budget at a meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 30.
The property tax and earned income tax increases will also allow the township to start a $10,000 rainy-day fund.
KENNETT TOWNSHIP: Pork and sauerkraut to welcome 2020
Wow, here's a hearty way to welcome the new decade!
The Hamorton United Methodist Church will be serving a traditional pork and sauerkraut dinner -- pulled pork, home-made sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and home-made desserts -- from noon until 5 p.m. on New Year's Day. You can eat it there or take it home; the cost is $12.
Hamorton United Methodist is on Route 1 at Route 52 South; the driveway is on the northbound side of Route 1.
Thank you to church member and "Unionville in the News" reader Linda Young for letting me know about this tradition!
NEW GARDEN: Peebles will become Gordmans
Back in August I wrote that the Peebles department store in the New Garden shopping center is closing but will re-open under a different name. It's now official: as of Feb. 18, 2020, it's going to be a Gordmans. Slogan: "Brands you expect. Prices you don't." Like Peebles, Gordmans is owned by Stage Stores, based in Houston.
WEST MARLBOROUGH: An Irish soldier visits Primitive hall
Usually the history lectures at Primitive Hall are pretty tame: a slide show about colonial botanist Humphrey Marshall; an illustrated lecture about Philadelphia silhouettes; an analysis of the Pennock family's connections with London Grove Friends Meeting.
Not so on Thursday, Dec. 5.
The evening started out normally, as the guests gathered in the candlelit center hall of the 1738 house museum. Matthew Skic, an associate curator at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, gave a lecture about Richard St. George, an Irish soldier and artist who is the subject of the museum's new exhibit, "The Cost of Revolution."
Then things got exciting.
Actor Seth Reichgott, dressed as St. George, swept into the center hall from a side parlour, shouting at the "ruffians" who were threatening him (the peasants in the Irish Rebellion). He then told us about his military adventures and the uprisings that were occurring around the world. He talked about being shot in the head at the Battle of Germantown in the American Revolution and how he suffered physical after-effects ever since, as well as what we would today call PTSD.
Seth's amazing performance, sometimes delivered while he was standing atop a Windsor chair, was electrifying. We hung on every word of the monologue, written by Philadelphia playwright Chris Braak.
If you missed the lecture, Seth and another actor perform it twice a day at the museum, which is at 101 South Third Street. "The Cost of Revolution" exhibit is open through March 17, 2020.
GIANT: It was jammed -- until it wasn't
On Sunday morning we were at the Jennersville Giant, and it was packed. You had to watch where you were going before leaving an aisle so as not to crash into another cart. The pet food aisle was partly blocked by a restocker, so I entered from the other end to get Clarence and Tina’s provisions.
But once we had navigated the store, picked out our groceries (except for molasses, which they were out of) and selected a BBQ chicken for supper, we were the only shoppers in the check-out area. We commented on this disparity to the self-service clerk, who was enjoying some idle time.
"Oh," she said knowingly, "they'll all show up at once. Happens every time."
WAWA: There's a secret menu
We had dinner the other evening at Mikimoto's in Wilmington with a delightful young couple. They are big sushi fans, as am I, and Dearest Partner was very happy with his (cooked) scallops.
The female half of this couple is employed by an ad agency that does work for Wawa (she contributes to the Hoagiefest promotion each year). She told us that there's a "secret menu" on Wawa's touchscreens, which you can access by pressing on the goose when it's animated (she said its wings flap).
What's on the menu? Birthday-cake-flavored milkshakes and smoothies!
KENNETT TOWNSHIP: That's a lot of taxpayers' money
It was the lead story on the Philadelphia TV news programs. It was on KYW Newsradio every 20 minutes. It seems everyone is talking about former Kennett Township manager Lisa Moore and how she managed to embezzle $3.2 million of taxpayers' money from under the noses of the township supervisors over a six-year period. And that was on top of her six-figure yearly salary!
The investigation has been going on since April, but Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan and the Kennett Township supervisors just released the full story this past week. Money earmarked for employee benefits, the police department, land preservation and other township services was diverted to "extravagant personal expenses such as clothes from Gucci and Chanel, jewelry, and travel" to places like Italy, Las Vegas and France," according to Hogan's press release. "Part of her scheme even involved pretending to be married" so that the fraudulent spouse could obtain medical benefits.
I'm the treasurer for a nonprofit organization, and early in my tenure I attended a county seminar about preventing and spotting fraud. The major "tell," they explained to us, was someone who was living beyond his or her means. In our wealthy community, though, that's not always easy to spot.
A friend asked if I was going to write anything in this column about the sad situation, and I said I didn't think I had a lot to add. I liked what he said, though: he wonders if someone in Hollywood has gotten wind of this story and is bidding for the movie rights. There are certainly several juicy roles!
TOWN HALL: Meet with Rep. Sappey
State Rep. Christina Sappey will be holding a "town hall" meeting to discuss local and state issues from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 16, at the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District office, on the south side of the high school. To register: email email@example.com or call 484-200-8264.