The state Department of Transportation reports that plans are proceeding to demolish and then rebuild the heavily used bridge on Route 82 at Clifton Mill, which has been closed due to structural problems since June. In their lingo:

"PennDOT is finalizing the engineering plans for the rehabilitation of the Route 82 bridge. The general contractor, who will repair the bridge, is investigating lead times for the fabrication of the new, galvanized steel beams and steel grating for the deck. The timeline for the fabrication and delivery of the steel beams and steel grating will be the critical path, schedule-wise, on this project."

Demolition is expected to start this winter, depending on how soon the beams and decking can be obtained. As demolition approaches, the department says they'll provide firmer dates for the project.

KENNETT SQUARE: The falling fungus

The other day someone on Facebook, obviously a newcomer, was asking whether there were any local New Year's Eve festivities. Folks were quick to point out that Kennett Square has a unique way of ringing in the New Year: the Mushroom Drop!

The sixth annual "Midnight on the Square" celebration in the middle of town starts at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, with a laser light show. At 6:30 The Garage Youth Center on South Union Street opens for children's entertainment with Dan & Galla (you know them from the Unionville Community Fair). Performances by dancers and musicians on the street also start at 6:30, and the lighted mushroom is raised via crane at 8:45 p.m. The Funsters will perform from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on South Union Street. And the fungus, of course, descends at the stroke of midnight.

Remote parking with shuttle buses (from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.) is available at Exelon and at Kennett High School.

CAP WEIL: A life well lived

Services are set for Saturday, Jan. 12, for Carlos "Cap" Weil, Jr., who died on Dec. 1 at age 78.

Cap was an enthusiastic, tireless and gregarious advocate for whatever group he was involved with. He was active with the Chadds Ford Historical Society and Tick-Tock Early Learning Center, and I had the pleasure of working with him on the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library board for a few years. At one point a couple of trustees weren't on board with one of his ideas (I forget what), and he was determined to bring them round to his point of view.

"What we need is a 'come-to-Jesus' meeting!" he declared, excited at the prospect

My condolences to his dear wife, Sally, and his family. He will be missed.

Cap's memorial service will be held at Unionville Presbyterian Church at 11:30 a.m., with time to greet the family beforehand starting at 11 a.m.

WILMINGTON: Dinner at Ubon

On Saturday four of us got together for dinner at Ubon, a Thai restaurant along the waterfront in Wilmington. Our dinner companions, a delightful young couple, live within walking distance but decided to drive because it was raining. Unfortunately they hit a pothole, blew a tire, put on the spare and arrived at the restaurant a little late.

We had fun catching up and hearing about their recent day trip to a dozen trendy art galleries in the Chelsea section of Manhattan (the female half of the couple is a graphic artist). One piece that stuck in their heads was a statue of a man, toppled over and broken, with human beard hair Scotch-taped to it in appropriate places. Price tags were routinely in the high five figures.

"I can't figure out their business model," said the male partner of the couple (he is in the IT field). "The employees are sitting there, immaculately dressed, and I felt like going up to them and saying, `How do you pay the rent?!"

After dinner, they checked on their puppy via a monitoring app: "Aww! He's listening to David Bowie!" We followed them back to their apartment to make sure their car was okay and nothing else had been damaged.

Dearest Partner checked the dinner receipt the next day and was amused to find that Ubon indicated our requested "heat levels" as Peppercorn (1 on a 1-to-5 scale), Tabasco (2), and Jalapeno (3). "One wonders what 4 and 5 are called," he mused. "Cinders and ashes?"

2019: Calendars and Friends

Winter officially started on Friday, Dec. 21, the Winter Solstice. Putting a positive spin on that news, the hours of daylight have already started expanding, if only by a few minutes a day.

As a guide at a historical house in West Marlborough built by a prominent early Quaker, I'm sometimes asked why Friends traditionally used numbers instead of names for the months of the year and days of the week.

The Tract Association of Friends, which publishes a calendar each year, provides a good explanation. Names like March and Friday were derived from "non-Christian sources" (for example, March from the Roman god Mars; Friday from Frigg, Saxon queen of the gods). Thus, using them is "inconsistent with the tenets of the Christian faith."

"Although general custom can, in the long run, determine the correctness of language and vocabulary," the group declares solemnly, "it cannot pass upon right and wrong."

HOCKESSIN: New hours

Customers of Harvest Market Natural Foods in Hockessin will be pleased to learn that the health-food store is now open on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. That's in addition to its Monday through Saturday hours, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Founder and owner Bob Kleszics always has new products in the store to try, including many from local farms, and friends who follow special diets love the selection.

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