More grim news from Barclay Friends fire: Human remains found

Heron's Nest - Wed, 2017-11-22 06:21
The grim news announced by Chester County D.A. Tom Hogan Monday afternoon concerning the inferno at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center just got worse.

Everyone knew it was coming. That doesn't make it any easier to comprehend.

ATF agents who have been scouring the site of Thursday night's massive fire have indicated that human remains have been found in the rubble. The identities of the remains have not yet been released.

At his Monday briefing, Hogan said four people were unaccounted for, an elderly man and his wife, and two other elderly women. All were residents at Barclay Friends.

ATF issued the following statement late Tuesday night:

Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team, Pennsylvania State Police, and Chester County Fire Marshal’s office have located the remains of two individuals inside the Barclay Friends Senior Center at 700 North Franklin Street in West Chester. Investigators initially located the remains of the first victim in the late morning hours and then the second victim later in the afternoon on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. The remains were transported from the scene by the Chester County Coroner and the families of the four missing residents were notified.

Investigators are still in the process of conducting an origin and cause investigation of the fire and it is expected to continue throughout the Thanksgiving holiday. A large crane and other excavating equipment has been brought to the scene and begun removing large sections of fire debris early this morning. Efforts to locate the two remaining missing residents will continue tomorrow morning.

“The thoughts and prayers of the men and women of ATF are with the families of the victims during this difficult time. Their losses only strengthen our resolve to provide answers to them as a result of our investigation of this tragedy” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson.

ATF’s NRT, along with Special Agents from the ATF Philadelphia Field Division, were activated to respond to the five-alarm fire at the Barclay Friends Senior Assisted Living Center located at 700 N. Franklin Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The fire occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m., Nov. 16, 2017. First responders from West Chester and surrounding fire departments in the area arrived on scene shortly after the first call was made to 911 assisting with the evacuation of approximately 160 residents and staff members. The NRT arrived on scene Saturday morning to start processing the fire scene and determine the origin and cause once the building was secured and hot spots extinguished. The fire investigation is being worked in coordination with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, Chester County Fire Marshal’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, West Chester Police Department, Chester County Sheriff’s Office and Chester County Department of Emergency Services.
Categories: Pennsylvania

It's back! Time for Homes for the Holidays

Heron's Nest - Wed, 2017-11-22 06:10
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

And once again we’d like to share some of that holiday spirit with our readers.

To that end, we once again will be rolling out one of our holiday favorites - Homes for the Holidays - in our feature Page Two photo spot. And we’d like you, our readers, to once again get involved.

If you spend hours on your holiday decorations and would like to see them featured in the paper, send us some photos and we’ll share the spirit.

Email your photos to

There are a few ground rules.

One - and the most important - there are no guarantees.

We will run a photo each day from this Sunday, Nov. 26 through Monday, Jan. 1. A quick use of our questionable math skills tells us that we likely will not be able to get every house in the county into the paper.

What we will try to do is at least cover every section of the county.

Join us in sharing the holiday spirit.

‘Tis the season.
Categories: Pennsylvania

A community shows its best when things appear worst

Heron's Nest - Tue, 2017-11-21 07:49
Yes, there was grim news from West Chester yesterday on the investigation into the inferno that consumed the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center Thursday night.

Four residents are still unaccounted for and feared lost in the fire.

But amid this dire news, amid the heartache that started with the first glance of those towering flames licking the sky over the senior center, we were reminded of what is good.

The community came together in the face of heartache to help those displaced by the fire.

Neighbors descended on the Barclay to help rescue residents. They brought blankets and hot drinks to comfort those routed from their homes, now sitting outside in 40-degree chill.

Then on Sunday an overwhelming show of support formed in the long line of cars cued up at the Good Will Fire Co. to drop off donations to help those displaced. These were critical items such as toiletries, clothes, even wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

It showed the essence of what we are: a community.

We talk about it on today's editorial page.
Categories: Pennsylvania

The grim news from West Chester

Heron's Nest - Tue, 2017-11-21 07:38
It was the news everyone had been fearing since late Thursday night, when an inferno roared through the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center in West Chester.

The first thing officials had to do was try to account for all the residents.

More than 130 residents and 15 staff were heroically evacuated as the blaze raged through the structure.

But not all the residents.

Yesterday Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan gave the news we feared: Four residents remain unaccounted for. Officials are not expecting a miracle.

ATF teams will now be brought in to sift through the rubble.

Hogan said that with high winds whipping the flames quickly through the structure, it's conceivable in a fire of this sort that the toll could have been much worse, that maybe as many as 40 to 50 people could have been lost.

You can get all the latest details on this tragedy here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

a new tale of ebenezer a.m.e. – an oral history

Chester County Ramblings - Mon, 2017-11-20 22:57

I have not written about the ruins of Ebenezer AME in a long time. But here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving and I have a wonderful story to share. It was sent to me by a former Chester County artist named Claude Bernardin who now lives in Bloomington, Indiana. He also knows my dear friend Catherine Quillman, the historian and artist who has helped me fill in the historical blanks on many an occasion.

Ebenezer AME in 1976 – photo was sent to me by Claude Bernardin who took it. This was from the side of Ebenezer that faces the mobile home park today.  None of us had seen this side until Al Terrell cleaned up the graveyard last fall.  

What I am about to post are the words of Mr. Bernardin, and the lovely green bottle and the photo of Ebenezer in 1976 are photos he sent to me. Oral histories like his are priceless. I wish my friend Al Terrell was alive to talk to Claude Bernardin!

From Claude Bernardin, his words (bold and italics):

Hiram Woodyard:

Died 12/20/1900 I believe. But certificate of death says 1/04/01.


He lived on an odd L shaped acre of land he was willed by Thomas Quay just below the corner of Conestoga Road and Bacton Hill Road. His parcel of land consisted ( I personally now believe… ) of a driveway easement that ran across Conestoga Road and up into the Church from the. Church rear.

His parcel of land would have been on the left side of Conestoga Road, after you turned right on Conestoga Road, heading downhill off Bacton Hill. You would first pass the old Peter Manning-smith Property ( pine trees ) a drive way and bridge on left.

Set of small woods separating the next larger Estate ( what we knew in the 1960’s and 1970’s as The Merith’s ).

That small stretch of woods used to be a long cart path heading up into the higher hills and woods between both Larger farms in the 1890’s.

Directly behind the white and green Meridith Victorian stucco farm house, back in the woods maybe 50 feet, along a little creek, on a hillside, over looking the Meriths, sits the stone foundation of an old One Room cabin. It had a small porch at one time over looking the stream and a circular well.

I grew up a stones throw away from it.

Today I think it belongs to whoever owns the Manning-Smith property and it is labeled a wild bird sanctuary.

Bobcat on Daniel P. Mannix farm, June 1971 – Claude Bernardin photo

My research suggests that this was the property of Hiram Woodyard. I dug antique bottles behind the foundation, by the big tree up stream, and even out in front of the ruins and down in that stream. That property clearly dates to 1880 – 1900.

About a decade ago an old high school friend of mine sent me some newspaper article that may have appeared in the daily local news about that region, and it mentioned some information that led me to believe that that was his property. I have since lost that information. However while working for an auctioneer I was able to get my hands on in the old 1800s map book of Chester County. Within it it showed the land parcels of that particular area and it clearly showed that property with a Cabin and I think an out house. I also own the Catherine Quillman book on the history of the Conestoga Pike, and I believe there is more information pertainingto that property within it. Putting all this information together, I have now come to the conclusion that that must be his property, and that the bottles that I dug belonged to him.

Elwood’s greenhouse and tool shed. 1970s?
Claude Bernardin photo

The last time I attempted to dig in that area I tried to dig out the cabin foundation from inside. It was just too much work for my friend and I. But I believe that there are bottles and other things down inside there. One of the things that we found was an old bedframe. The problem is that the foundation walls are collapsing into itself.

The hill beyond the cabin and down to the stream is some of the hardest clay soil I have ever dug!! If anyone was to try to do any digging in the future I would suggest using pitchforks. There are glass bottles on that hillside under the dirt, there is all kinds of barbed wire in the old wire as well.

Directly behind the cabin and in the woods further up the hill is an odd formation of land man made. I have never been able to quite figure out what it is. It is perhaps either the foundations of an old barn, or it was a man made ice pond.

Elwood’s two room shack. Claude Bernardin submitted photo. All of these old photos in this post are from his personal collection.

 In other words a deliberate formation to collect rainwater and to collect blocks of ice in the winter, a common practice back in those early days. If you are standing between the cabin and that formation, off to your far left is the Manning Smith pond, where there used to be a stone Spring house. Off to your right back in the woods further up the hill there is the ruins of an old Spring house as well.

This of course would be where they would need the ice.

This is a brief listing of the bottles that were found at this site:

Kickapoo Indian Sagwa

Dr. Chamberlain’s diarrhea cure

Ball and patent fruit mason jars

Ka-tonka, the Great Indian Remedy.

Note: both katonka and kickapoo came from a local traveling Penna. snake oil salesman wagon show.

Beer bottles: hollmans of Phoenixville, pa.

J. Harley of West Chester, Pa. and an apple green Chas. Jolly Blob beer from Philadelphia.

Numerous unmarked clear whisky’ and medicines

Horlock malted milk

Heinz ketchup

Food product jars varying sizes

The Church:

First of all, my name is Claude Bernardin

I used to live at 425 Conestoga Road, east white land township.

My father: Charles, my mother : Elizabeth ( Betty )

They had 9 children.

We are all still alive.

In the 1960s I was between 5 to 12 years old. That neighborhood had a tremendous group of children of similar age. In fact at times we had little gangs.

We were quite adventurous, inventive, and curious. Many of us got to know every single character, and adult at that corner on a personal basis. We would do chores for them, many of us even took care of them in their old age. A specific legendary character that lived right at the crossroads in a two room hand built shack, was L with Michael. Mr. Michael was kind of a hobo subsistence farmer of legendary status in the community.

As I recall, the inside of the church was lined in cherry wood paneling the pews we’re still in it and what color cherry wood so was the podium.

He used to drive up and down Bacton Hill Road and Conestoga Road at all hours of the day but mostly at sunrise and the sunset on his silver gray Ford tractor to doing his bugle for all the kids to come running to say hello. He often left families with the gifts from the fields.

He was a welcome guest at our house, and in his very old age we took care of him and would bring dinner to him at his bedside. To us he was like our quirky uncle. I knew Elwood so closely that I can still hear the singsong high-pitched slangy twang of his voice. He actually talked in some sort of meter. He was a lovely man, who cared for his community.

As far as I know he never graduated from high school, and yet was one of the most intelligent man I ever knew. He read books all the time. He could recite hundreds of poems from memory, and often did while sitting on the edges of our beds to wake us up to come down and join him for breakfast.

He used to give us a ride up and down Conestoga Road and Bacton Hill.

To repay his kindness, we did our chores for him around his property, including chopping wood for his woodstove. We rode with him to the old Kane form across from the trailer court, and would help fix up his hay wagons and the old barn.

To him I was always “Claudey”.

My brother is Richard, and Peter were the mechanics and engineers in our family, also sometimes brother guy. They would help Elwood and others in the region with all kinds of mechanical needs.

Back in the mid-1960s the church was abandoned. Two children that stood out in the neighborhood from the trailer park, Doug Buettner, and George Berry.

Slightly up the street towards the corner was Bruce McNaughton. Bruce was my brother Peter is my brothers closest childhood friend, also a character.

The old church was a wonderful place. Back then it still had a roof , a wooden floor, and altar, a podium, and even church pews.

The windows were huge, with deep inset windowsills and very large wooden shutters. The floor was beginning to show signs of wear, and rot.

If my memory serves me correctly there wasn’t one broken glass window. However the roof did have holes in it.

When you walked in the front door off BactonHill Road, to your far right against the wall in the corner, was a ladder that ran to the top of the wall, it was quite rickety back then. I climbed it on several occasions trying to reach the attic, but I was afraid of heights and so I never made it. But the church must have had in the attic that ran the entire ceiling.

I can actually remember one of the older children standing at the podium to court order to our meeting, a little bit like the dead-end gang in those James Cagney movies I think.

Categories: Pennsylvania

deluxe pumpkin bread

Chester County Ramblings - Mon, 2017-11-20 19:16

Let the madness begin! Almost time for Thanksgiving! This morning I made the cranberry orange relish and this afternoon, pumpkin bread.

I somehow managed to pinch a nerve in my neck/shoulder so it has been slowwww going.

Here is the recipe for the pumpkin bread:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, cloves, cardamon

3 eggs

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 cup canola oil

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar – I prefer light

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup diced dried apricots

1/2 cup dark raisins

1/4 cup minced candied ginger

In one mixing bowl combine all the dried ingredients

In a second mixing bowl combine all the wet ingredients with the sugars.

When the wet ingredients and sugars are mixed, stir in the dry ingredients. Then fold in the nuts and dried fruit and candied ginger.

Pour into two greased and floured 8″ x 4″ loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes (or more- today my oven took 1 hour and 5 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.


Categories: Pennsylvania

This Eagles team is ready for prime time - even if I'm not

Heron's Nest - Mon, 2017-11-20 06:33
That will teach me to drift off to sleep at halftime.

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate these night, prime time games?

When you work my schedule, they are a killer.

Which kind of describes what the Eagles did to the Cowboys in the second half last night, literally imposing their will on Jerry Jones' 'Boys and pulling away to a 37-9 victory.

Remember, this one was 9-7 at halftime, when I slipped off to La-La land.

That means the Eagles ran off 30 points in the second half while holding Dallas scoreless. The Cowboys did not score a touchdown. The first half was nothing to write home about.

The Eagles looked like they were still on their bye week. Doug Pederson's play calling seemed off. After a dazzling first drive that saw Carson Wentz march the Birds down the field to erase a Dallas 3-0 lead, the Birds spun their wheels the rest of the half. Passes were dropped. Wentz missed receivers. The ground game was stalled.

And adding to the mix was an injury to kicker Jake Elliott, suffered on a big Cowboys return on the opening kickoff. Elliott suffered a head injury and missed the entire second half.

That jolting news must have woke up the Eagles.

At halftime, Pederson informed his troops that the Eagles would not be doing a lot of kicking in the second half. They would go for it on every fourth down when they were not punting and would got for two after every score.

Then they went out and rammed the ball down the Cowboys' throats in the second half.

The offense simply imposed their will on Dallas, while the defense harassed Dak Prescott into a slew of turnovers.

Three field goals is all the Cowboys mustered - and nothing in the second half.

Too bad I didn't see any of it.

9-1. Best team in the NFL.


All the game details are here.

Check out beat writer Bob Grotz's observations on the game here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

From the worst, proof of the best of our community

Heron's Nest - Mon, 2017-11-20 06:10
There is still much about the horrific fire that destroyed the Barclay Friends Senior Living Center in West Chester Thursday night.

We don't know the cause.

We don't yet know if there were any fatalities.

But what we do know is that when faced with the absolute worst, it somehow managed to bring out the absolute best.

As flames consumed the structure, neighbors already were converging on the site to see what they could do to help.

They brought blankets. They brought hot coffee. They brought soothing words to their elderly neighbors, many of them still in their beds and wheelchairs, who had been evacated from their homes and now were huddling outside in chilly 40-degree temperatures.

The neighbors joined the more than 400 first responders who battled the blaze.

The help continued Friday. West Chester University opened its gym as a temporary shelter for those displaced by the fire. A row of wheelchairs was neatly lined up outside the facility.

Then Sunday, the outpouring of support in the community continued. Hundreds of residents descended on Good Will Fire Co. to donate needed items such as toiletries, clothes, blankets, even canes and walkers.

Today we may learn more about preliminary findings, as well as whether any residents remain unaccounted for.

What we know now is that, once again, when the very worst strikes, this region is capable of uniting and showing its very best.

I wrote about it in my weekly Letter From the Editor.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Taming the 'gerrymandering' beast

Heron's Nest - Mon, 2017-11-20 05:52
We have become known for something other than the Eagles.

We have been saddled as the poster boy for the evils of what is called 'gerrymandering.'

Every time the issue comes up, the 7th District, home of U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, goes front and center.

It was not that long ago that the 7th pretty much covered Delaware County.

It still does. But it has been twisted and turned to cover a few more areas.

Meehan now represents constituents in four other suburban Philadelphia counties.

That was the handiwork of the the last time the boundaries were redrawn via the magic of 'redistricting.'

The danger in all this is that in the process of this blatant political calculation - one which by the way is practiced by both parties - is that your vote can be made meaningless. The party in power stacks the deck even before a vote is cast, recarving political boundaries to include those who back them, and cut out those who might vote another way.

Now the matter is headed into the courts.

That might be the best bet in correcting this problem.

You can read our Sunday editorial on the issue here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

sunday sky in november

Chester County Ramblings - Sun, 2017-11-19 17:42

Categories: Pennsylvania

The Dreaded Saturday Eagles Pick

Heron's Nest - Sat, 2017-11-18 06:37
They are the two most important words in Eagles land.

Dallas Week.

The question this week is whether Andy Reid protege Doug Pederson will be able to mimic his old boss' excellence in coming off the bye week, or if the Birds' will be rusty from the week off as they invade Dallas for a prime time Sunday night matchup with the hated Cowboys. So far this season Pederson has displayed the kind of magic touch that Jon Dorenbos could appreciate.

The Eagles roll into Dallas with the best record in the NFL at 8-1. The Cowboys are fighting for their lives at 5-4 and coming off a spanking by the Falcons.

They will be without their offensive stud, running back Ezekiel Elliott. Offensive left tackle Tyron Smith, whose absence last week almost got QB Dak Prescott killed, is questionable. On defense, Eagles killer Sean Lee is out.

For the Eagles, only receiver Alshon Jeffery is banged up, with a sore ankle, but he's expected to play. Cornerback Ronald Darby is expected to get back on the field.

Everything points to an Eagles' win.

So why am I a bit antsy? A loss here could just about doom the Cowboys' post-season hopes. Desperate teams are often dangerous teams. It will be up to Carson Wentz and the Eagles' offense to set the tone early, hog the ball, step on the Cowboys' necks and not let up. The biggest challenge the Eagles face this week is regaining the precision they displayed in sprinting out to a 8-1 start.

This one could come down to a duel between two young stud QBs, Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott. Last year Prescott was everyone's darling. But without Elliott, and with his offensive line ailing, this year has been a struggle. Wentz has better weapons this year, and the Eagles should be able to move the ball on the ground and exploit the Cowboys with tight end Zach Ertz without Sean Lee to defend him.

I think they get the win, but I don't think it will be easy.

THE PICK: Make it Eagles 29, Cowboys 17. A late Eagles TD will make this one look easier than it actually will be. It won't be pretty. But right now the Eagles are just a better team than the Cowboys. A loss would have all kinds of negative repercussions for the Birds. While they will remain comfortably ahead in the NFC East, they are in a duel with several teams with best record in the NFC and possible home field advantage in the playoffs. That should be their motivation.

LAST WEEK: Actually you have to go back two weeks. I expected the Eagles to beat Denver in large part because it was the Broncos third straight road game and came on a short week after they had to go to Kansas City on a Monday night, back to Denver, and then across the country to face the Eagles. But I never saw the offensive explosion the Birds dropped on the Broncos highly rated defense, and the total domination of the Birds on defense. The win has the rest of the NFL looking up at Doug Pederson's Birds, sitting pretty at 8-1 mark. I was on board with another win and raised my personal mark on the year to 7-2.

GAME BY GAME: Chiefs 27, Eagles 20. (My Pick: Chiefs 33, Eagles 17)

Eagles 30, Redskins 17. (My Pick: Eagles 26, Redskins 13)

Eagles 27, Giants 24. (My Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 17)

Eagles 26, Chargers 24. (My Pick: Chargers 27, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Cardinals 7. (My Pick: Eagles 29, Cardinals 24)

Eagles 28, Panthers 23. (My Pick: Panthers 26, Eagles 17)

Eagles 34, Redskins 24. (My Pick: Eagles 31, Redskins 19)

Eagles 33, 49ers 10. (My Pick: Eagles 24, 49ers 10)

Eagles 51, Broncos 23 (My Pick: Eagles 23- Broncos 19)
Categories: Pennsylvania

barclay friends neighbors sent me photos

Chester County Ramblings - Fri, 2017-11-17 19:44

I was visiting a friend in Chester County Hospital today and remarkably, you can smell the smoke from the fire inside the hospital. It’s crazy. It was like someone had a fire in their fireplace.

I have friends who live in that part of West Chester and they have smoke infiltration in their homes. I am only publishing a couple of photos, but there but for the grace of God go all of us.

Other friends of ours (as in a couple of different families) had family members evacuated from Barclay Friends last night. Their family members are safe and sound elsewhere.

Another friend who has been on the scene texted that the fire was not completely out.

Neighbors of Barclay Friends are among the scores of unsung heroes who helped residents to safety. Some media outlets are saying not all are accounted for? (See this report from ABC News ):

Authorities struggled on Friday to account for the whereabouts of all the residents of a Pennsylvania senior living community after a massive blaze tore through their complex during the middle of the night, injuring nearly 30 and leading to a chaotic evacuation.

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley said Friday afternoon that a few of the more than 130 residents of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community, located west of Philadelphia, were unaccounted for following the huge fire.

“We’re hoping for the best obviously here,” said Norley, who put the number taken to area hospitals at 29.

Officials said fewer than 20 remained hospitalized and all were in good condition.

County emergency officials said there was the possibility someone could have died in the fire, which erupted late Thursday night. But a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was on the scene, told an afternoon news conference that no relatives had reported any family members missing.

Some patients are at Chester County Hospital. These people have lost everything. Especially photos and memories. It’s devastating.

At West Chester nursing home fire, a heroic effort to evacuate residents
by Laura McCrystal, Justine McDaniel, Tricia L. Nadolny & Emerson I. Max, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Flames Rip Through Chester County Senior Living Community Displacing 150 Residents and Staff, Hospitalizing 27-The senior residents of the facility were evacuated into the bitter cold, and while more than 20 people transported to hospitals, officials did not elaborate on any injuries
By NBC10 Staff

The ATF was on scene this afternoon as well, so that should help people get answers, right?

It has been a very long day in the Borough of West Chester. On the eve of Thanksgiving I am grateful for all those neighbors, fire fighters, and EMTs and police who responded to this. I am told by friends that we can always drop off food or snacks to these volunteer fire companies. These men and women do this day in and day out.

Have a good night, all.

Categories: Pennsylvania

prayers for barclay friends

Chester County Ramblings - Fri, 2017-11-17 09:47

Most of us in Chester County woke up to those devastating news. Barclay Friends in the Borough of West Chester went up in flames as many of us, myself included, were sleeping. I have a friend whose mom was there, thank goodness she is now home and safe with her family. There are many, many displaced seniors as a result.

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I think we must be grateful for the absolutely amazing first responders we have in Chester County. Firefighters, EMTs, police, and so on. I am not one to toss around the word blessed lightly, but we are so blessed with these heroic individuals because this could have been so much worse without their expertise and valor.

Daily Local : At least 20 injured, 100 flee into night as fire roars through West Chester senior living center (Photos)

Prayers go to the families with displaced seniors and the staff of Barclay Friends . I am happy to post legitimate fundraising efforts one Barclay Friends gets this sorted out to where they can do that. I am also happy to post efforts of groups who will be collecting clothing and other basics for these seniors. And if someone is planning to get Thanksgiving dinner to these displaced seniors.

These senior citizens could be anyone’s family members, and at least one is a family member of a friend.

I will admit I am so terrified at how fast Barclay Friends went up in flames. All media reports this morning indicate fire investigation is already beginning.

Also, and VERY important: you will note my photos come from social media. I am not going anywhere near that scene and neither should any curiosity seeker. Let the professionals do their jobs and stay out of the area in the Borough of West Chester.

Prayers up on this.

Categories: Pennsylvania

A late-night phone call is never good

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-11-17 08:20
A late-night phone call never brings good news.

Every time the phone goes off at that hour, that softball-size knot that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my stomach gets a little bigger.

That was no different last night, when the phone ran about 20 after 11. It was my ace photographer Pete Bannan, who gave me the news of the devastating fire at the Barclay Friends assisted living center in West Chester.

That started a combination of events that resulted in tearing up a perfectly good front page of the Daily Local News in West Chester to get in news of the fire.

I usually spend a lot of time cursing technology, but I have to admit that when it comes to breaking news, I am glad we're still not operating in this dinosaur days of the newspaper racket.

Of course, that does not mean we ignored print. We had just enough time to get a short story and photos in the print edition. Then we went to work updating the story online in the overnight hours.

The fire was devastating, sending elderly residents out into the cold, many of them still being wheeled out in their beds and wheelchairs.

You can get the update here.

At this point, officials are saying about 20 people were injured. Another 100-plus were evacuated.

One of the great things that happened is how the community rallied.

Neighbors who live in the area where the Barclay is located showed up with blanket, water, and coffee.

These are people they consider neighbors.

We'll be updating the story today and through the weekend.

But as awful as it looked, it also showed a community that rallies together in the worst of circumstances.
Categories: Pennsylvania

What is a hellbender?

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-11-17 07:45
Do you have any idea what a hellbender is?

No it's not some teen tough guy out rampaging around the neighborhood.

It's an amphibian. It's about to become the official state amphibian, if the state Senate gets its way.

Yep, that's what our elected leaders are up to these days.

Compare that to what just went down with the state budget and you get the idea why they call Pennsylvania, Land of Giants.

You can read our editorial here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

It's time for All Christmas music, all the time

Heron's Nest - Fri, 2017-11-17 07:24
And so it begins.

Forget Thanksgiving.

We're ushering in the Christmas season today.

At least they are over at Today’s 101.1 MORE-FM/WBEB.

That's right. At 9 a.m. they will flip the switch and go to all Christmas music, all the time.

They will be all-Christmas all the time through Christmas Day highlighting favorite holiday songs from Andy Williams, Nat King Cole, Mariah Carey and the rest.

They also once again will be doing their popular Christmas Choir Competition.

Ho, ho, ho!
Categories: Pennsylvania

Missing money mystery in Upper Darby

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2017-11-16 06:43
There is a mystery this morning in Upper Darby.

There is apparently money missing from the tax collector's office.

A lot of money.

No one is saying how much, but it's apparently a couple hundred thousand dollars.

The Delaware County District Attorney's office is investigating. No charges have been filed.

The township called in the D.A.'s office after the situation was first discovered.

“We are aware of the allegations. When these allegations were first brought to our attention, we notified the District Attorney’s Office and asked them to investigate the matter. The township has been fully cooperating with the district attorney’s investigation.”

We'll keep you updated on how the investigation is going.

And a tip of the hat to Joe Holden of CBS3 who was the first to report on the investigation.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Tax vote showdown today in D.C.

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2017-11-16 06:31
Looks like you can count the region's two moderate Republicans as yes votes on the GOP tax plan that is headed for a vote this afternoon in Washington.

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, tells us he's voting yes.

Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7, while not definitive, says the move will help his constituents.

Note there is a very important difference between the House measure and that being developed in the Senate.

Yesterday a last-second addition to the Senate plan would kill off the mandatory participation under Obamacare. The House version does not touch the Affordable Care Act.

Democratic Pa. U.S. Sen. Robert Casey blasted the new language, calling it a double-barrel blow to the middle class, hurting them tax-wise and also endangering their health care. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey supports the language eliminating the Obamacare mandate.

You can get all the details on where Costello and Meehan stand here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Welcome to the Joel Embiid Era

Heron's Nest - Thu, 2017-11-16 06:23
Forget Dallas Week.

Joel Embiid just stole the show from Eagles-Cowboys - even if not many people actually saw it.

Do yourself a favor. Make sure you check out the highlights of last night's Sixers' win over the Lakers. The game did not start until 10:30 so it's a pretty good bet most people did not see it.

Take a gander at Embiid's line from the game:

46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocked shots.

The 46 points is the most by a Sixer in 11 years.

You can get all the details here.
Categories: Pennsylvania

Politics never sleeps; it's on to the next campaigns

Heron's Nest - Wed, 2017-11-15 08:05
Politics does not take time off.

Yes, we just put one election to bed.

But the next is right around the corner.

Lots of interesting scenarios already are popping up.

There is the state lieutenant governor's race, where John Fetterman, the hulking progressive mayor of Braddock, Pa., out near Pittsburgh, is taking aim at Mike Stack. He's not the only one. Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and activist Aryanna Berringer, also are in the race.

House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, made official what most people already know. He wants to be governor. But before he faces off against Tom Wolf, he will need to tangle with York County Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner.

Then there is the 7th District Congressional. It might take less time at this point to list the people who are not seeking the Democratic nod to face U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan.

Here in Delaware County, there also is an interesting situation forming when it comes to the next county district attorney. Remember, current D.A. Jack Whelan was one of the very few GOP winners on Election Day, capturing a seat on the county Court of Common Pleas. That means the county is in the market for a new D.A.

A lot of people seem to think that job will end up going to County Councilman John McBlain.

But there is another Republican who is making it clear he would like the job.

If the name W. Craig Williams is familiar, it should be. He carried the GOP banner in challenging Joe Sestak in the first race after the Democrat stunned Curt Weldon and ending his 20-year stint in D.C.

Williams was not successful.

Right now he's a corporate attorney with Peco.

But he has a dazzling background as a Marine, former federal prosecutor.

Williams is on the record, having sent a letter to county Republican Party leader Andy Reilly indicating he would like to be considered for the job.

The appointment to fill the remainder of Whelan's term will be made by the county's Board of Judges. The post will then be on the 2019 November ballot.

What is tantalizing is what might happen should the nod go to McBlain to fill the interim spot. Presumably, the current County Council member would run for election in 2019. Williams has indicated he also would seek election.

Is it possible that Williams would challenge McBlain in the GOP Primary?

First things first. We'll have to see who gets the appointment from the judges.
Categories: Pennsylvania