WSSD Board Invokes Act 1 Exception

Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
By Katie Crawford

The Wallingford Swarthmore Board of School Directors officially adopted the 2017-2018 preliminary general fund budget of $79,394,571 at the Monday, February 13, meeting, with five board members voting yes and Dr. Robert Reiger abstaining. In addition, the board authorized the administration to apply for the Act 1 Exception given the enormous burden of retirement contributions.

The Act 1 Index, which determines the maximum rate at which a district can tax, allows for a 2.5% increase this year. Applying for the Act 1 Exception allows the district to tax above this rate for specific circumstances such as the burden of pension contributions. This exception allows for an additional .5% increase, bringing the overall tax increase to 3%.

Martha Kew provided a summary of the budget and updated the board on what has happened since her initial presentation in January. In his budget address, Governor Tom Wolf stated that there should be “no greater priority” than educating Pennsylvania school children. The impact on public schools of the selection of Betsy DeVos as the United States Secretary of Education in a historic tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence has yet to be determined. And WSSD is closely watching to see if indeed property tax “elimination” legislation will be introduced at the state level.

On April 17th, the proposed final budget will be introduced and on May 22 the budget is slated for adoption. This budget requires drawing anywhere from $1.5 million to $2.3 million from the fund balance. When questioned by Dr. Reiger, Ms. Kew stated that if Pennsylvania does not tackle pension reform, the district will deplete its fund balance in three to six years.

The lack of a fund balance at this point would mean that the district would have to cut $2.5 million from its budget. A cut this drastic “would be devastating to the people sitting at that table,” stated Kew, indicating the board. Forced budget reductions of this order would force the district to drastically alter programming as well as potentially increase class size.

State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky with NPE 5th grader Jolene Hsu at the WSSD board meeting Monday night.

State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky with NPE 5th grader Jolene Hsu at the WSSD board meeting Monday night.

Special guest State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky was on hand to present a special citation to Jolene Hsu, a 5th grade student at Nether Providence Elementary School whose artwork was selected from among all submissions by 5th graders in Pennsylvania to appear in the Office of the Attorney General’s 20th annual Drug Free calendar. (February is Jolene’s month.) A copy of the calendar was presented to each board member. Ms. Krueger-Braneky also acknowledged the difficulty and uncertainty facing districts across Pennsylvania. Her office has received at least 100 messages concerning school funding and the property tax “elimination” bill from citizens in the Wallingford-Swarthmore community.

‘One Haven’

Launched During audience recognition, the board heard from Strath Haven Middle School teacher and SHHS alumna Caitlyn Locke about an organization, One Haven, which she and other Strath Haven alumni have created as a way to honor the memory of Robert Allen Payne, SHHS class of 2003, who was murdered this summer.

Mr. Payne was known as “everyone’s friend.” The organization seeks to provide a scholarship, “annually awarded to a student-athlete who is committed to their community and striving for excellence, both in and out of the classroom. This scholarship will help that student in pursuing a college education at an accredited institution.”

One Haven has planned a basketball tournament on Saturday, March 18, at Strath Haven High School. More information can be found at onehavenunite.com.

The meeting concluded with a message from Jonathan Wilkerson, a 2010 graduate of Strath Haven High School who had joined the Army Reserve just that day. He chose the occasion of enlisting to come and speak to the board about the policy of denying military recruiters access to students.

Wilkerson believes that he would have benefitted greatly from joining the Army at an earlier opportunity, noting that the experience would have provided leadership opportunities in his chosen field of security as well as scholarship options. He asked the board to reconsider its position on open recruitment. Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag stated that, “a discussion of this would be welcome.”

Building Boom Helps Swarthmore College Keep an Edge

New residence hall adjacent to Pittinger, Palmer, and Roberts Halls. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

New residence hall adjacent to Pittinger, Palmer, and Roberts Halls. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

The Swarthmorean recently spoke with Greg Brown, Swarthmore College’s vice president of Finance and Development, to come up to speed on the surge of construction activity at the college. Excerpts of our interview follow.

The Swarthmorean: What’s going on at 101 S. Chester Road?
Greg Brown: We purchased 101 S. Chester a couple of years ago. Our development office moved in three years ago on the third and fourth floors, and in order to create more space on campus for core academic mission, we’re moving more administrative offices to 101 at the end of March or early April. Payroll, human relations, business, investment, and communications offices will be occupying the first and second floors of the building. The exterior work is probably the most important part — we’re putting in a new elevator shaft for the building [on the end facing the roundabout]. The elevator had never gone to the basement before, so the new elevator will be up to code and we will also be able to use the basement for conference rooms. It will be a major enhancement.

TS: Across Chester Road, how is the dorm project going? Is that going to be ready for next fall?
GB: The intent is to be open in August. They’re working pretty feverishly to get that done, and they’re on schedule. That facility will house about 120 students, and units are suite-style so five or six people will be sharing an apartment with a kitchen. Our redesign of the meal plans means that students who have kitchens will be able to buy most of their groceries, hopefully at the Co-op.

TS: Is that 120 beds in addition to current dorms or will some rooms be decommissioned?
GB: We have crowding in some of our current dorms: spaces that used to be doubles are triples; that sort of thing. And some dorms need to go offline to be refurbished. So it’s really going to net us about 60 new beds, and upgrades our housing stock.

TS: Is this increase in capacity part of a strategic drive toward a larger student body and more robust facilities?
GB: We’ve been growing the student body, and there are about 100 more students now than there were six years ago. From our analysis, we wouldn’t want to get bigger than 1,700, and we’re around 1,600 right now. Any growth will be incremental and over the next five years. We’re kind of at a good size now, so we want to be very careful about how we do that.

But we’ve been chipping away at elements of the campus master plan on our website, which from my perspective is a good space/needs analysis but not a full detailed master plan. [For instance] the biggest single thing we needed to do was the Biology, Engineering and Psychology (BEP) building, which the master plan has in the parking lot of DuPont Circle. And for various reasons that project got moved onto campus, which is going to involve the demolition of some buildings. [These buildings] Hicks and Papazian Halls have outlived their usefulness… and the cost of refurbishing and repurposing got to be too much. And there was a really strong argument about moving this major new building (BEP) more to the center of campus and not on the periphery, so those were the main drivers.

TS: How does the new building off Whittier fit into the plan?
GB: That is “swing space” which we are calling the Whittier Academic building. For the next three years, while BEP is under construction, it’s going to house psychology faculty [formerly in Papazian] as well as engineering shops [now in Hicks]. Ultimately it will become space for the art department, and so we’re building it to be very much a flexible shell. It’s going to have terrific light so it’s really going to lend itself to art studio space as well as engineering shops. That building is on a faster track even than the residence halls; we expect to take occupancy in late Spring.

TS: That will coincide with the beginning of work on BEP?
GB: So, BEP: The plan is to demolish Papazian this summer to get us started on the 3-year construction of BEP. All of that is through the north entrance to the campus. There are some challenges, we’ve been working with Friends Meetinghouse [to minimize impact upon the nursery day school and other uses]. There will be a sidewalk on other side of Whittier, which will cut into the front yard of some houses which the college owns. We’re working with the arboretum [to optimize the streetscape].

We have preliminary approvals from the borough, and we’re still gathering cost estimates. We have a large lead gift for the biology building, but pretty much everything else we’re working on is funded through bonds which we issue through the borough.

Whittier Academic Building. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

Whittier Academic Building. Photo by Laurence Kesterson

TS: Does all this activity set the College apart?
GB: To a large degree we’re catching up to what our competitors have already done. Our activity level is fairly high, but our peers have been [upgrading] science buildings for last several years. Demand for better dorm space is something we’re all dealing with. Generally speaking, we’re not that different from most of our peers right now.

One more important project, though: we have a generous donation from two alumni, Jim Hormel and Michael Nguyen, to repurpose the Sproul Observatory for cultural and religious life. That will be a renovation project that’s going to start this summer. The intercultural center is now crowded into space near Clothier, adjacent to the observatory, which has been used sporadically for various offices. This is a really exciting move for us, and an important new gathering place for students.

Final Testimony in Sober Living House Hearing

Testimony is complete in the long-running appeal by the owner of the “sober living” facility at 224 N. Providence Road to the Nether Providence Township Zoning Hearing Board.

Nether Providence cited the owner, Dung “Gabe” Lau, in 2015 for a nonconforming use of the property, which is zoned residential, as the location of a business which provides a temporary residence for recovering addicts. Lau has continued to operate the facility during the appeal, which will likely be resolved in April.

At its Monday night meeting the Zoning Hearing board heard testimony from neighbors of 224. Attorneys Vincent Mancini of Media and Jack Rule of Collegeville questioned Bradley Lambertsen, co-owner of a property bordering 224 on the north side, who described his observations of property use inconsistent with a residence, including surges of traffic and activity on certain days, commercial vehicles making deliveries of food and supplies, and overflowing parking areas.

Neighbors spoke during the public comment period after the township and the property owner rested their cases.

Daphne Bogert of Sherwood Lane emphasized that the house is not a typical residence, in that its tenants are locked out for most of the day and that it hosts regular meetings and meals for nonresidents. Further, she said, this group home operates in an unregulated environment and is likely to house residents who are not suited to the facility. Alexander Sapega of N. Providence Rd., a physician, suggested that many of those residents admitted under the owner’s stated criteria are not ready for the level of supervision provided at the facility, and are thus at great risk of relapse.

Ani Diakotos of Dogwood Lane, a commercial insurance agent, noted that Pennsylvania does not certify or license group recovery homes, and that she “has seen too many claims” to support this use. Diakotos and a half-dozen other neighbors expressed their belief that the owner of the house was intentionally deceitful in purporting to have purchased 224 as a private home, then establishing an unlicensed business there.

Testimony will be transcribed for the use of counsel; counsel will summarize their cases in briefs and the Board will meet again April 17, hoping to render a decision on that date.

Singer/Songwriter Session at waR3house3 Next Saturday

Pictures from left to right: Jahiti, Will Paynter and Brian Kors.

Pictures from left to right: Jahiti, Will Paynter and Brian Kors.

Three times one equals a triple header of talent in the Singer/Songwriter Sessions, coming up next Saturday, February 25, at waR3house3 in Swarthmore.

Swarthmorean Will Paynter plays on his home stage, weaving diverse influences like blues and country, Latin and world rhythms into a tapestry he calls Sonoma Sound. His experiences as a traveler, a soldier, a family man and a musician infuse his songs and his performance.

Brian Kors of Media is both a songwriter and a soulful interpreter of other writers like Ray Charles, Percy Mayfield, Dr. John and Willie Nelson. In this gig, as in his duo work with The Midnighters, Brian plays tasty guitar and handles vocals with aplomb.

Now based in Wilmington, Del, Jahiti has been both a solo performer and a member of the Baltimore band BrownFISH. His music fuses reggae, roots and soul in a unique brand he has taken throughout North America as a touring musician over the past 15 years.

Tickets are available for $10 in advance ($15 at the door on show night) at waR3house3, 100 Park Avenue, Suite WH3. The event is BYOB, and light fare will be served. More information is at waR3house3.com.

The U.S. Army at Mary Lyon

Miller-Crist at upper left, and motor pool at top center. Photo courtesy of the Bill Thomas Collection

Miller-Crist at upper left, and motor pool at top center. Photo courtesy of the Bill Thomas Collection

The 1950s were years of an intensifying Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, with both sides threatening each other with nuclear weapons. Atomic bombs of ever-increasing destructiveness were test-detonated in the atmosphere, underground, and at sea, and fearful citizens built bomb shelters in their basements. In the years before the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, North America’s first line of defense against Soviet strategic bombers attacking from over the North Pole was the Distant Early Warning System. DEWS was a chain of radar sites that stretched across Canada and Alaska, searching for any intrusions of enemy aircraft. Warnings were sent by vacuum tube radios and landline telephones to the U.S. Army’s Antiaircraft Artillery Command.

The Command’s artillery consisted of radar-controlled 90mm guns, and the newly perfected Nike 1 supersonic surface-to-air missile, America’s first generation of guided defensive missiles. One of the units within the Command was the 35th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade, headquartered at Fort Meade in Maryland, that, together with Eastern Air Defense Force, was tasked with protection of the Washington-Norfolk-Baltimore-Philadelphia region. The 35th was comprised of four Groups providing defense of the four cities, and Philadelphia was defended by the 24th Antiaircraft Artillery Group, commanded by Colonel Clarence A. Langford.

In 1953, after the departure of Penn State, Swarthmore College leased the former Mary Lyon buildings to the Army, and the 24th AAA Group established its Headquarters and non-fire Headquarters Battery there, with about 12 officers and 35 enlisted men. Every unit within the 24th Group was racially integrated in the 1950s, but had no women soldiers. Guarded offices were in the Miller-Crist building, and the motor pool was on the low ground between Yale Avenue and Crum Creek, where the Penn State students had parked.

Guarded entrance to the Miller-Crist building. Photo courtesy of the Bill Thomas Collection

Guarded entrance to the Miller-Crist building. Photo courtesy of the Bill Thomas Collection

The 24th Group included the 513th AAA Operations Detachment and 56th Signal Detachment, both based at Mary Lyon, and four outlying combat battalions, each with four fire batteries. Those units were the 19th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion; the 51st AAA Battalion, headquartered at Fort Dix, New Jersey; the 506th AAA Battalion at Logan Station in Philadelphia; and the 738th AAA Battalion at Pennsauken.

For practice firing, the 35th Brigade’s gun battalions with their trailer-mounted generators and radars would periodically deploy from their positions to Bethany Beach in Delaware, where the spent shells would land in the Atlantic Ocean. The Army’s 90mm antiaircraft guns were somewhat similar to Germany’s renowned 88mm Fliegerabwehrkanone of the Second World War, flak guns that shot down at least one Swarthmorean. However, even with radar ranging and direction, the guns were of limited effectiveness against high-flying turboprop and jet bombers. The early model liquid-fueled Nike missiles, in addition to their greater range and altitude capabilities, were maneuverable in flight to counter evasive action by incoming aircraft.

Philadelphia was thought to be worthy of greater last-ditch protection against Soviet bombers that got past Air Force interceptors, and in July 1954 the 24th Group’s 738th Battalion was upgraded from guns to missiles. One of the 738th Missile Battalion’s four Nike batteries was located off Delchester Road in Edgmont Township, and like the other units of the 24th Group, it was commanded, for a short time, from the Mary Lyon campus in Swarthmore.

What to do? What to know!

James Freeman conducts student rehearsal for John Cage concert in Lang Music Hall at Swarthmore College on Sunday, September 23, 2012.  (Josh Peck '13)

James Freeman conducts student rehearsal for John Cage concert in Lang Music Hall at Swarthmore College on Sunday, September 23, 2012. (Josh Peck ’13)

Orchestra 2001 Brings ‘Love and Madness’ Tonight

Orchestra 2001 will present music of the twisted heart and mind in its program Friday night entitled “Love and Madness.”

Conductor Jayce Ogren leads the new music ensemble and baritone soloist Randall Scarlata in three works, featuring “Murder Ballades” by Bryce Dessner of the rock band The National.

The concert opens with “cheating, lying, stealing” by David Lang, and concludes with “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by Peter Maxwell Davies, a tour de force by Scarlata as the mad King George III.

The program begins at 8 p.m. at Lang Concert Hall at Swarthmore College, and will be preceded by a pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m. Admission to both is free and open to the public.

Spring into Gardening
at Schoolhouse Center Session

Eager to scratch the gardening itch as the days get longer? Penn State Master Gardener Brenda Troutman will lead a free gardening workshop to let you get your hands dirty at Schoolhouse Center next Tuesday, February 21, at 1 p.m. The workshop is on seed sowing, so bring clear plastic containers for planting.

Schoolhouse Center’s Garden Committee welcomes new members who are looking to talk and learn more about gardening; outdoor garden work is an optional activity when the warmer weather comes.

Reserve your spot in the planting workshop by calling (610) 237-8100. The Center is at 600 Swarthmore Avenue in Folsom.

College Actors to Revolt. Again.

With humor and subversion, Alice Birch’s play Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. explores how 21st century women are stereotyped by words, labels, and cultural representation.

This acting capstone project is directed by Alex Torra with Swarthmore College undergraduates Sarah Branch, Rex Chang, Citlali Pizzaro, and Emily Uhlmann, with costume design by Laila Swanson and lighting design by Amanda Jensen.

Performances at the Frear Ensemble Theater at Lang Performing Arts Center on the weekend of February 24-26 are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Vocal Extravaganza With Roomful of Teeth

2-17 roomful of teeth copy

The Grammy award winning vocal project Roomful of Teeth brings Swarthmore’s Lang Concert Hall an “exploration of the expressive potential of the human voice,” on Sunday, February 26, at 7:30 p.m.

The artists from Roomful will exhibit their chops in classical singing, throat singing, and yodeling in this free performance that is open to the community. Reservations are recommended through http://bit.ly/2klsZBv.

Conducting Music, and Interpreting Gestures

Linguist Penny Boyes Braem and conductor Thuring Braem share the dais at Lang Concert Hall for their presentation “Interpreting the Gestures of Orchestral Conductors” on Thursday, February 23, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. This is the annual Peter Gram Swing Lecture at Swarthmore College.

Thuring Braem puts into practice the theories expressed in the lecture as he conducts the Swarthmore College Orchestra in a rehearsal at 1 p.m. on Saturday, February 25, at Lang Concert Hall, with a discussion to follow. Admission to events is free and open to all.

In between on Friday, February 24, at 6:30 p.m., Penny Boyes Braem and Katja Tissi of the Center for Sign Language Research lecture and answer questions at Science Center 101 on “Coining New Signs: Why? How? Who?”

Swarthmore Public Library Meeting Notice

The Annual Board Meeting of the Friends of the Swarthmore Public Library will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. in the Council Room at Borough Hall. The meeting is free and open to the public. Electing a new board and discussing fundraising plans are on the agenda. For further information contact Carol Kennedy at carol.kennedy@comcast.net.

Harriet Tubman In Media?

Dr. Daisy Nelson Century as Harriet Tubman.

Dr. Daisy Nelson Century as Harriet Tubman.

Reading about Harriet Tubman’s life is one thing; seeing and hearing it interpreted is something else again.

On Saturday, February 25, in Media, you’ll have a chance to experience the tales of the great abolitionist and Underground Railroad “conductor,” as performed in her character by Dr. Daisy Nelson Century.

Dr. Century’s hour-long performance will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Media Fellowship House, 302 S. Jackson Street.

Families are encouraged to bring all but the smallest toddlers to this free, interactive program, which will conclude with refreshments. Please reserve your places by e-mailing jerry@mediafellowshiphouse.org.

Making Sense of Current Events at HKF

An important scholar takes on an important topic in a presentation Tuesday, February 28, at 7:15 p.m., entitled, “Assessing the Threat of Islamic-Related Terrorism.” This politically charged topic begs for calm and reasoned conversation that enables a realistic analysis of risks and the extent of dangers we face domestically.

David L. Johnston, visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania’s department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, provides an overview of research into the phenomenon of Islamic-linked violence, in the context of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and more recent mass shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The session will be held in the Chadwick Room of the Helen Kate Furness Free Library, 100 N. Providence Road in Wallingford. Admission is free and open to all. For advance registration (requested) or information, call (610) 566-9331.

Chips Falling Into Place
for SPC Game On Fundraiser

The “Game On” fundraiser for Swarthmore Presbyterian Church is open to all Swarthmoreans and neighbors looking for a swanky evening out without going to Monte Carlo or Las Vegas.

The Old Mill in Rose Valley is the venue for the event on Friday, February 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., for a full evening featuring a three-course meal, open bar, casino-style games, silent auction of gifts, great vacations and experiences, and raffles.

Tickets are $85 per person, available at http://bit.ly/2lfDt4. Deadline is Sunday, February 19. Other event information is at swarthmorepres.org.

The Sydney Dance Company Plays a Triple Bill

Contemporary dance legend the Sydney Dance Company comes to Swarthmore College next week for two days of showing and telling about its remarkable and uniquely Australian style of expression.

Artistic director Rafael Bonachela directs an ensemble of 16 dancers in a performance on Friday, February 24, at the Pearson Hall Theater at Lang Performing Arts Center, beginning at 8 p.m.

The performance will be preceded on Thursday, February 23, by a lecture and discussion from noon to 1 p.m., and a master class from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., also at LPAC. All events are free and open.

Maple Sugaring and Pancake Breakfast at Tyler

Attention gourmands and locavores: Tyler Arboretum in Media invites you to its annual maple sugaring event and all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast on Saturday, Februay 25.

Dig in to unlimited breakfast and brunch favorites, then drop by Tyler’s maple sugaring stations and try your hand (of any size) at drilling and tapping a maple tree, and learning how the sap becomes delicious maple syrup. The arboretum abounds with hidden blooms and surprises during this season.

Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the loft of Tyler’s newly-renovated barn. Snow date is Saturday, March 4. Info and tickets ($12 adults; $8 children aged 3-12) are online at tylerarboretum.org.

Succulent Squash?

In a hands-on evening workshop on Thursday, February 23, Jen Pfluger and Helen Nadel will share a world of ways to prepare delicious dishes with winter squash to warm your family this season.

In the kitchen at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, the duo will work with you on recipes like butternut squash salad with herbs, hazelnuts, spiced chickpeas and lemon tahini; kabocha squash soup with apple, onion, and garam masala; and jammy onion and acorn squash on toast.

Bring a knife and cutting board and learn new ways to cut, prepare and grow these vegetables, and what makes them so good for us. The class begins at 7:15 p.m. and concludes at 9 p.m.

The session is sponsored by the Swarthmore Co-op; visit swarthmore.coop for more information and tickets ($25 for members; $30 for nonmembers).

Thursday Lecture: ‘Black Sexual Lives Matter’

Free and open on Thursday is “#Black Sexual Lives Matter,” a lecture by Dr. James Wadley, associate professor and director of the Masters of Human Services program at Lincoln University.

In the talk from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Scheuer Room of Kohlberg Hall, Dr. Wadley will discuss the evolution and movement of the sexual lives of persons of African descent.

Wedding

2-17 wedding troutman

Andy Mallon and Jill Troutman

Jill Troutman and Andy Mallon were married October 1, 2016 in Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Kara Troutman and Elizabeth Walk, both of Swarthmore, were bridesmaids.

Jill is the daughter of Rich Troutman and Ginger Smith of Swarthmore and a 2012 graduate of Strath Haven High School. She graduated from Messiah College in 2015 and is employed as an RS.com specialist at Clark Associates in Camp Hill, Pa.

Andy is the son of Kelley and Wayne Mallon of Mechanicsburg. He is a graduate of Mechanicsburg High School and Messiah College, and is a CPA at KPMG in Harrisburg.

The couple spent their honeymoon in Cancun, Mexico, and currently reside in Mechanicsburg.

Briefly Noted…

2-17 chili cookoff

It was a sweep for Swarthmore chefs in the 2017 Chili Cook-Off at Swarthmore United Methodist Church last weekend. Winners in all categories were Swarthmore residents (from left to right): Katie Gonder (tied for 2nd place meat), Jim Smith (“People’s Choice” and tied for 2nd place meat), Tom Morton (2nd place vegetarian), Sheila Bell (1st place meat), J. R. Goldberg (1st place vegetarian), Rich Cresson (standing in for son Johnathan, “under 18” winner). Photo by Janice Ciampa

2-17 Val - 2nd grade

For Valentine’s Day, Ms. Benson’s second grade class at Swarthmore-Rutledge School shared their love by making healthy “Breakfast in a Bag” for the Media Food Bank during their class party. Students decorated bags with messages of love and filled them with oatmeal, granola bars, applesauce, fruit snacks, raisins, and juice. The Media Food Bank serves 75 to 100 families per week and depends on the local community for support. Photo by Antoinette Barrett

From the Swarthmore Firehouse

From January 29 through February 11, the Swarthmore Fire & Protective Association responded to the following alarms:

EMS: Our ambulance responded to 39 calls for medical assistance, from Swarthmore, Morton, Rutledge, Springfield and other communities. The calls were for a variety of emergencies including respiratory difficulty, suicide attempt, fall, seizures, assault victim, head injury, semi-conscious person, intentional overdose, pediatric emergency, extremity pain, and a non-specified sick person.

Automatic fire alarm: Among five responses, two were to Mount Holyoke Place in Springfield Township. The others were to the 200 block of Elm Avenue, Oberlin Avenue, the 300 block of S. Chester Road. There was one call to assist Nether Providence Township for an automatic fire alarm.

Gas leak: One call to College & Princeton avenues.

Cover alarm: One call to the City of Chester.

Automobile accidents: Three calls included two two-vehicle accidents, one at Fairview Road and Michigan Avenue, and one at Baltimore Pike and Riverview Road. The third accident involved an assist to Morton Rutledge Fire Dept. for a vehicle into a building on Baltimore Pike & Leamy Avenue.

Vehicles that have collided with buildings present several complexities. The first is to rescue the subject who in many cases is trapped. The second involves protecting the emergency personnel from potential building collapse while stabilizing the structure. The third is containment of an automobile fire, battery acid leakage or other hazardous material that may have been on board and in transit, or stored in the structure.

Vehicles span the spectrum from passenger cars, commercial vehicles and pickup trucks to tractor-trailers. A further complication of the latter is that the variety of hazardous materials carried are not always evident and/or listed in the travel documents.

Letters to the Editor

What’s the matter with boys today?

To the Editor:

For several years, Swarthmore Rotary has been giving two scholarships (each worth $5,000 last year) to Strath Haven High School seniors. I have been surprised that girls have submitted about ten times as many scholarship applications as boys. The quality of the girls’ applications, which include a short essay, has been much superior to the boys. This has troubled me for a number of reasons. Although the donors of some of the scholarship fund expressed a preference that one scholarship each go to a boy and a girl, the scholarship committee decided last year that approach would be unfair to the girl applicants. Both scholarships went to girls. This year we are trying to encourage more boys to apply, which is the reason for this letter.

Several decades ago, I was an unmotivated teenage boy. I didn’t think about going to college until the spring of my senior year, when my mother said, “You should go to college.” I went to college and eventually I became more self-motivated. It appears, however, that what is happening now is different than my story.

I was surprised to discover that the Swarthmore library has three books on the topic of unmotivated boys. Having had only daughters, I was unaware of problems with boys. The books by Leonard Sax, Michael Gurian, and Peg Tyre present a bleak picture of unmotivated boys who grow up to become unmotivated men. I would recommend parents of boys read these books — the earlier in the boy’s life the better.

According to the books, these men do not go to college or they drop out. Because of the mismatch that has been developing between the career paths of the genders, women do not want to marry under-performing men. Therefore, men who don’t have a college degree are much less likely to marry, or if they do marry, they are more likely to have failed marriages.

The books mostly blame changes in school curricula over the last few decades, starting in kindergarten. They claim schools are more demanding academically at a younger age, and less tolerant of boys’ behavior. The authors also blame factors over which parents have more control. These include increased use of electronic devices such as video games and overuse of ADHD medication. They recommend that parents should make demands on their sons.

This gets us back to the point of this letter. Parents, perhaps like me, your son just needs some prodding to motivate him. If your son needs to take out loans to help pay for college (as I did), he will eventually be glad that he got a $5,000 scholarship along the way. Encourage your son to apply for the Swarthmore Rotary scholarship, using an application from the SHHS guidance department or from the Swarthmore Rotary website at rcswarthmore.org.

Richard Shimko
Swarthmore

Flint, Michigan, times ten

To the Editor:

The “Stream Protection Rule,” an environmental regulation that took numerous years to put into place, was hastily overturned by a GOP majority Congress during a meeting spanning mere hours. This law requires mining industries to monitor the quality of nearby fresh water streams, in effort to prevent waste contamination. Afraid that such regulations may delay his campaign promise of resurrecting the dirty coal industry, Trump has once again chosen his personal interests over the public health of Americans. Food and water safety should not be a partisan issue.

Implicit in overturning this regulation, as well as regulations limiting methane flaring on public land, was Republican Senator Patrick Toomey. Democrats Bob Casey and Bob Brady voted against this rollback, but were unfortunately outnumbered.

Politicians are elected to protect their constituents, not to choose financial or political interests over public safety, and failure to do so is a betrayal of their authority. Over 6,000 miles of national streams are now at risk. Water contamination from coal is linked to increases in cancer, neurological disorders and heavy metal poisoning.

As long as elected public officials continue to place partisan objectives over the health of their constituents, we can expect to see situations like Flint, Michigan, occurring repeatedly throughout the country. The effects of overturning the Stream Protection Rule are expected to be long-lasting if not permanent, due to the “Congressional Review Act,” which prevents federal or local governments from putting in place any regulation, “substantially similar” to the ones overturned.

We can, however, fight back against future environmental rollbacks that may suffer a similar fate, by calling Senator Toomey and telling him that his self-serving anti-environmental policies are unwelcome in Pennsylvania. In the meantime, I would recommend having your drinking water tested regularly.

Allison Sevillano
Wallingford

Were you born to run?

To the Editor:

Terms of four of the Swarthmore Borough Council members and of the Mayor will be expiring in January, 2018.

In the primary elections over the last few years, there has only been one Democratic candidate running per Borough Council seat.

This means that they are chosen by the Swarthmore Democratic Party and not by the voters. The Democratic primary victors have then won in November, as there has not been any opposition in the general election.

In order to be placed on the November ballot, Democratic and Republican candidates need to have their names on the May 16th primary ballot. Any registered voter can circulate a petition for their own candidacy, with or without their party’s approval. In order to do that, the dates to circulate petitions begin on February 14 and end on March 7.

For anyone interested in running as a Democrat or Republican, forms can be downloaded at www.co.delaware.pa.us.

Robert Small
Pennyslvania Ballot Access Coalition