Council Honors Sgt. Stufflet; Considers the Environment

Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford

The August 14th work and legislative session of Swarthmore Borough Council began by honoring Officer Ray Stufflet for his 25 years of service to the borough. In his remarks Mayor Tim Kearney stated that Stufflet, “exemplified community policing at its best,” and stressed how lucky the borough was to have an officer of his caliber.

Officer Ray Stufflet. Photo by Katie Crawford

With the Police Department one officer short of the ideal staffing level, Chief Brian Craig has reported that he wants to begin looking for new officer candidates under the old requirements in which applicants need to have 60 credits of post-high school qualifying education in order to be eligible. The discussion about whether or not to eliminate this requirement is ongoing, but Chief Craig does not want it to delay his search for candidates.

Council approved a Pollutant Reduction Plan that was created in order to renew a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Protection which allows for the borough to have storm waste discharged into the sewer systems. The plan is required to show a ten percent reduction in sediment runoff in the next five years. The borough has targeted three projects which should reduce the sediment load sufficiently: creating a wetlands area behind the picnic grove at the Swarthmore Swim Club, constructing a retention basin on Henderson Field, and repairing and adding to the riparian buffer (vegetation near stream bed) of the stream located behind the Rutgers Avenue CADES playing fields. The engineer’s estimated cost of these three projects is $710,000, but borough manager Jane Billings stressed that all three projects might not be necessary, or as costly. The source of funding has yet to be determined but could come from grants or a possible taxpayer fee.

Council member Lauren McKinney began a discussion about whether or not the Environmental Committee was becoming redundant since the creation of the Environmental Advisory Committee, and suggested redefining the goal of the Environment Committee if it were to continue to exist.

Council adopted Resolution 2017-07, which urges the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join the Climate Alliance. In wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, many states have opted to join the United States Climate Alliance. The borough’s resolution is intended to encourage Pennsylvania to do so as well.

Ross Schmucki, reporting for the General Government Committee, praised the benefits of having an intern help with coordination of borough services for seniors and encouraged council to consider funding interns in the future as well for this purpose. Current intern Alex Maillet created a brochure for seniors, listing local services and programs. The brochure will be available on the borough’s website as well as in paper form at the library.

Something in the Air … BnB

After much discussion at last month’s regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Committee, council decided not to change the ordinance regulating Air BnBs and other home-sharing arrangements in the borough. However, the property on Riverview Road which inspired much of the debate is now seeking to become a bed and breakfast. Its owners are asking for a variance which would allow them to rent additional rooms. As part of standard procedure, Council President David Grove asked for the Planning and Zoning Committee to make a recommendation to Council regarding whether they should take a stand for or against the application. The Planning and Zoning Committee will meet in a public session at Borough Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 24.

In other Riverview Road news, the de Botton family, owners of Springfield Square which borders the borough, at last provided solicitor Bob Scott with a planting plan to replace greenery that had been removed this year. The plan will be shared with Vincent Mancini, lawyer for the Riverview residents, who have protested the removal of the border.

New Talent on Boards

Elizabeth Jenkins. Photo by Katie Crawford

Elizabeth Jenkins, a Swarthmore College alumna and relatively recent arrival to the borough, was appointed both to the Environment Committee and to the Planning Commission as an alternate. In both instances she will be filling the vacancy left open by outgoing Planning chair Jon Penders, who is moving out of the borough. Ms. Jenkins is a former Senior Standards Analyst at B Lab. James Levine, a relatively new resident of the borough as well, and a litigator for Pepper Hamilton, was also appointed to serve on the Planning Commission.

John Cordo, also a fairly new resident of the borough, was appointed to the Pension Committee. Cordo works for Brandywine Global Asset Management and oversees pension management as well.

Outdoor Life in the Borough

Council member David Murphy, reporting for Parks and Recreation, informed council that the fireplace in Little Crum Creek Park is beginning to lean and will probably be removed. The fireplace originally was created for use by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Sea Scouts who came to the park to gather in a hut that formerly stood at that location as well. (The hut itself had apparently been moved from under the Route 320 overpass where it had served as an office for PennDOT.)

Mayor Tim Kearney celebrated the abundant use of Central Park Swarthmore this summer, highlighting the Thursday Night Live concert series which brings families out for picnic suppers.

Borough manager Jane Billings reminded council of the 2018 budget schedule, which will begin with all of the organizations who received monies last year being asked to propose their funding needs for the coming year. The Swarthmore Senior Citizens Association, which did not receive funding last year, will also be asked to submit its funding request.

The Serendipitous Return of Meghan Meloy Ness

Meghan Meloy Ness, ready to play a major role are Swarthmore Presbyterian Church.

This Sunday, August 21, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church will welcome its new Minister of Music, who though young, is not really so new.

A Swarthmore native and 2006 alumna of Strath Haven High School, Meghan grew up visiting the church and fondly remembers worshipping and experiencing music in its warm wooden and stucco sanctuary. However, it was serendipity rather than sentimentality that drew her back to Swarthmore. “I wasn’t considering a move, but when I became aware of the opening, Joyce’s vision pulled me here. When the committee chose me, it was a surprise, but it felt natural.”

The “vision” of SPC Pastor Joyce Shin was to build up a comprehensive music ministry that is aligned with and furthers the mission of the church. To that end, earlier this year a search committee was charged with finding candidates to serve a new function in the church, directing and integrating all the musical ministries of the church, which currently include musical opportunities for people of all ages. In addition to its adult Chancel choir, SPC has youth and children’s choirs, and a Chancel hand bell choir.

In one major component of the position, Meghan will succeed interim organist Andrew Hauze of Swarthmore, who has manned the console since the spring departure of longtime SPC organist Jeffrey DeVault. The prospect of playing SPC’s glorious new organ is thrilling to Meghan, a highly accomplished liturgical organist and recitalist. “The instrument is so much fun. It’s a chameleon — it can take on different colors to suit the music,” she said, explaining that German, Italian, French, English compositions each have a distinctive sonic palette. “Each organ has its own sound makeup and space,” she said. “You have to learn how the instrument likes to be played.”

Meghan earned undergraduate degrees in both music education and environmental studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory, though she says, “I think I knew music was my calling.” Though she played other instruments in her childhood and clarinet during her Strath Haven career, she now concentrates on piano and organ. She took a Masters in Sacred Music from the University of Michigan, and has lived in Ann Arbor since. Meghan has taught music in public schools, private and studio settings, directed choral groups, played concerts and recitals, and accompanied signers as a keyboardist. Most recently, she has been music director of Cherry Hill Presbyterian Church in Dearborn, Michigan.

SPC has long been a church that puts a high priority on music, as exemplified by its recent installation of a new pipe organ and redesign of its sanctuary to optimize acoustics as well as comfort. Meghan emphasizes that the contributions of her predecessors as musician and teachers form a great platform on which to build a comprehensive music ministry. “I’m excited to develop a curriculum that expands our SPC music program and reaches people in the wider community.”

Meghan’s parents Lisé and Michael Meloy still live in Swarthmore, and will welcome back Meghan and her husband Scott Ness, another fine musician who leaves a job as a piano technician at the University of Michigan. All in our community are invited to meet the Nesses and experience lovely music at 10:15 this Sunday morning at Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, 727 Harvard Avenue.

School in Rose Valley Campers Support Two Charities

Summer fun for a cause at The School in Rose Valley.

Children at The School in Rose Valley’s Summer Camp voted on two charities to support during “SRV for a Cause” week. They selected the Brandywine Valley SPCA and A Million Thanks! During the week they made dog treats and toys, collected coins, brought in linens, paper towels, and dog and cat food for the SPCA.

One lucky United States military person will receive this heartfelt card made especially for him or her by this SRV camper.

The children also wrote cards and notes, drew pictures and made friendship bracelets for A Million Thanks, a charity that sends messages of encouragement to active, reserve and retired military in the United States and abroad.

The School in Rose Valley, a progressive elementary school, has run a day camp for boys and girls, ages 3 to 14, since the 1950s. Located on nine and a half acres, surrounded by woods and Ridley Creek, the camp has two on-site swimming pools, a woodshop, an archery range, and also offers art, music, dance, drama, sports & games, and nature exploration.

‘Freckleface Strawberry’ Completes Children’s Theater Series at PCS

Cast members rehearse Freckleface Strawberry at the Players Club of Swarthmore.

Summer must end, and with it the Children’s Theater Series at the Players Club of Swarthmore — but not before PCS finishes the run of Freckleface Strawberry, now on the Raymond W. Smith Stage of the playhouse.

The production, directed by Alexandra Greene, stars Springfield High School senior Amelia SanFilippo as the unusual looking title character. She said, “Kids can be extremely mean by making fun of the way you look … like things you weren’t even insecure about until they teased you about it.” This is the situation for Freckleface, Amelia says, but the play conveys the wisdom that, “You are you, and your people will love you no matter what.”

Based on books by the actor Julianne Moore (who has reddish hair and faint freckles — hmm…), Freckleface Strawberry appeals to school age children and their parents. Tickets are $8 for children and $10 for adults. The show runs 50 minutes and is followed by a meet-the-actors session with juice and cookies.

Remaining performances are at 7 p.m. next Tuesday through Thursday, August 22-24, PCS is at 614 Fairview Road in Swarthmore. Tickets and information are at pcstheater.org.

CCSA to Dedicate New Building August 25

The Chester Charter School for the Arts building in Chester.

School begins anew in a few weeks, and for the 600 students at the Chester Charter School for the Arts, it will begin anew in a new school.

Since groundbreaking last summer, CCSA’s new building at 1500 Highland Avenue in Chester has risen and been completed with vibrant red exterior panels, playing fields are smooth and green, and the flagpole flies the red, white and blue. Inside, lab equipment, art facilities, and dance barres are installed; gym floors, classroom furniture, and learning technologies are ready for joyful use by the talented and promising students who represent the hope and the future of Chester.

At 1 p.m. on Friday, August 25, Head of School Akousa Watts and CCSA leaders will welcome hundreds of the school’s donors and supporters to tour and celebrate the opening of its new building. A capital campaign has raised $5.8 million of the $7 million required to cover construction costs, and with the continued generosity of longtime backers and the fresh energy surrounding the opening of the school and the arrival of its students, CCSA leaders hope and expect to realize their fundraising goal this year.

To RSVP for the dedication ceremony, reach Amy Komarnicki at akpmarnicki@thechesterfund.org, or (610) 859-2988. More information on the project and its support is at thechesterfund.org/buildingbrightfutures.

Briefly Noted…

As of Sunday afternoon, August 13, the winners of the Swarthmore Swim Club 2017 1,000-lap shirt are: 78.) Autumn Mansor, 79.) Sue Dyson, 80.) Mike Karpyn, 81.) Ellen Si, 82.) Griffin Barrett, 83.) Elizabeth Churche McErlean, and 84.) Beatrice Dickinson.

Phil Ann Dixon (far right on the diving board) of Rose Valley won all six Suburban League diving meets in which she competed this season, including the SSL Championship meet at Martins Dam. For the second year, she took home the Suburban Diving Cup, awarded to a senior diver who wins all his or her interclub meets and the championship meet. At the meet, she also won the Van Blunk award for the top open female diver for the second consecutive year. At the Elite meet, held at Hidden Hollow on July 31, she repeated as senior girls champion on both the one meter and three meter boards. Phil Ann, a senior at Strath Haven High School, swims and dives for the Rose Valley Swim & Tennis Club, where she coaches the diving team.

Summer Travel: College Visits with My Uncles

Greg Brown, Damian Brown, and Linton Stables, looking forward to another tour, on the campus of Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

Dear Admissions Director,

Seriously? You’re giving me 650 words for an essay that conveys the full breadth and depth of my life? All 17 years of it? Instead, I’ll tell you about one week I spent with my uncles looking at colleges throughout New England, including yours. My uncle Greg Brown, his husband, Linton Stables, and I drove 1,400 miles visiting schools in New York, Connecticut, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

So, like, here’s the thing about college tours: They are SO MUCH a reflection of life! Really! First, there’s the information session. That’s where you learn important stuff about each college, and how to get in and all. Then there’s the tour, when you actually get to experience the campus. Isn’t life like that? Constantly toggling back and forth between learning (the info session) and experiencing the world (the tour)? For a week my uncles and I toggled: Info session — tour — info session — tour — etc.

Our visits started with an informal walk around each campus before our scheduled tour. Linton called these “self-guided explorations” while Greg seemed to think they were closer to “breaking-and-entering.” Don’t worry, we didn’t break into anything. But your security guard Maria was super nice to us at the athletics department as she escorted us to the exit. She even gave me the baseball coach’s name and e-mail address. Maria probably deserves a raise as an important element of your recruiting strategy!

Greg is a college Vice President of something-or-other. He tried to stay undercover all week, hoping not to run into some other VP-types or (more important) not to embarrass me. The sunglasses and straw hat seemed to do the trick. He was not detected, at least not until we got to Swarthmore. Greg’s thing on each campus was to comment on how much things cost. Who cares? (Kudos to your college, by the way, for the new student recreation center, no matter what Greg says. Does it really matter that it cost $225 million, which Greg calculated to be about a quarter of your endowment? Well worth it, I think!)

Linton is an architect. He’s retired now, so it’s amusing that he still mostly thinks about buildings. He was always guessing when the buildings were built, and who the architect was. OK, do I have to ask again: Who cares? All I need to know about architecture I’ll learn on the campus tours: Where will I sleep? Where will I eat? Where will I learn and study? Where will I spend all my spare time after I’m done with those other three?

The typical info session starts with a little poll: Who here is a senior? A junior? A sibling being dragged along on the tour? This last bit was cute until the second time we heard it. Anyway, info sessions are a combination of sales pitch and data dump. The best ones paint a picture of life at the college and what kind of students come there. The others repeat stuff you could easily find on their websites. After the info session we divide into smaller groups for a campus tour.

IMHO, the best tour guides walk backwards, a skill most campus guides have perfected. Facing the prospective students, they are able to do a major data transfer while being super perky and answering questions, mostly from parents. Maybe you think my generation revels in the attention and eye contact, but it is our collective responsibility for the tour guide’s safety that truly distinguishes us. Watch out for that garden hose! Bicyclist speeding in on your left! We are bonding as we walk. At one college, however, the tour guide announced that he would NOT be walking backward because his was a Forward Thinking Institution. If only they had provided further evidence.

In life, my focus will be on experiencing the world, and trying to change it. First, though, I am super psyched about my upcoming four-year info session!

Yours with gratitude and hope,

Damian Brown

[Note to actual college admissions officers: The author of this partially fictionalized recounting is, in fact, one of the uncles, not the prospective student. Damian Brown is not nearly as snarky as his uncle, and he writes much better than this.]

Calling Summer Travelers

Where are your summer travels taking you? What are you doing and seeing there? Whether you’re doing a grand tour overseas, spending a week unwinding at a favorite destination, popping off for a spontaneous weekend away, or making a day trip nearby, we’d like to hear about it.

Let your fellow Swarthmorean readers (and staff!) vacation vicariously through your travel stories and photos, which you can send to us at editor@swarthmorean.com. We’ll select and publish submissions through the rest of the summer. Make sure to include a phone number where we can reach you. And don’t forget the sunblock.

Scott Arboretum Landscapes the Roundabout

Swarthmore College horticulture coordinator Jeff Jabco, center, and gardeners Mike Rolli and Linda Garrity recently installed perennials near Swarthmore’s roundabout.

By Kit Raven

The plantings at the Swarthmore roundabout are already morphing from scraggly trees and weedy-looking little plants into specimens that are beginning to fill out, flower and spread.

Jeff Jabco, Scott Arboretum’s director of Grounds and coordinator of Horticulture, took some time away from the many plantings he is now overseeing to explain how the design came about, the new concepts evident at the roundabout, and how, soon enough, we’ll be seeing an interesting, gorgeous and frequently changing landscape.

Jabco pointed out that all gardens and landscape plantings need a few years to grow, to develop from promising to actually looking great. However, some long-blooming perennials are already in flower, including Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb,’ with tiny, canary yellow flowers; Salvia nemorosa ‘Blauhugel’ (‘Blue Hill’), with blue spires; Ruellia humilis, a wild petunia with sprinklings of small lilac-blue flowers; Eragrostis spectabilis, purple love grass topped with clouds of rosy purple panicles; and Pycnanthemum flexuosum, mountain mint, with frizzy balls of white flowers.

More than a dozen varieties of perennials will fill in the planting areas and will bloom in overlapping succession, from spring through fall. The effect will be like a meadow, delightfully dense, varied and often changing.

Not only are the currently blooming perennials giving a sneak preview of what’s to come in much greater profusion, but these and the trees and shrubs will also provide food and habitat for beautiful and necessary winged creatures.

The roundabout’s design includes some trees and shrubs, as a traffic-calming measure required by PennDOT. The native trees are Gymnocladus dioicus, Kentucky coffee trees (the roasted seeds are a poor substitute for coffee, so Hobbs won’t be harvesting them) which will eventually provide high shade and evergreen Juniperus virginiana, eastern red cedar or aromatic cedar.

The native shrubs are Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Red,’ with red berries in winter; Diervilla sessifolia ‘Coolsplash,’ variegated bush honeysuckle with yellow flowers and red fall leaves; and Juniperis chinensis ‘Angelica Blue,’ a silver spreading juniper. These structural plants were selected by Jabco and former curator Andrew Bunting.

Some residents have been curious about why the Scott Arboretum used gravel to cover the planting areas and what the little colored flags are for.

The design approach for the plantings is quite unusual. Last October, the German landscape architect Cassian Schmidt gave a Scott lecture on landscape planting that is sustainable and low-maintenance, yet also naturalistic and stunningly beautiful. The low maintenance starts with natural, unfertilized soil, which is then covered with gravel. This creates a lean environment for tough plants, which are only watered their first year and never fertilized. As the desired plants fill in and cover the gravel, weeding will be minimal, only a few times per year.

The Arboretum invited a number of horticultural professionals to participate in a one-day workshop to apply Schmidt’s principles for the roundabout and nearby areas. As a group, they selected perennials in four categories and decided how much of each category to use: 15% structural ones, such as Baptisia ‘Lemon Meringue’; 35% companions, ones that will grow well with the structural plants, such as the salvia above; 50% groundcovers, including the purple love grass; and 10% fillers, such as the coreopsis.

The group came up with a recommended plant list and proportions, which Jabco and garden supervisor Adam Glas revised to consider conditions of all day sun on an open site surrounded by cement, asphalt and constant traffic. Accordingly, a number of selections are natives that thrive in poor soil and adverse conditions.

To get a naturalistic look, Schmidt’s method uses a grid. On the roundabout, the colored flags marked a four square yard grid.

First, the featured or structural plants were placed. Then, in each square, the correct proportion of each type of perennial was randomly placed. The Arboretum intends over time to use this system all along Field House Lane, as the sustainable, low-maintenance method is also easy to plan and vary.

Growing Up Fast

AJ Turner of Swarthmore communes with the piglets at 4H’s Pig Club stall in Newtown Square. It isn’t always this clean. Photo courtesy of Katie Turner.

Like many 10 year olds, AJ Turner is into hockey, soccer, and baseball. Unlike his Swarthmore-Rutledge School classmates, the rising 5th grader is also into pigs. One particular pig, in fact: Mittens, a 130-some pound adolescent whom AJ will accompany in the novice pig showmanship event Saturday at the 4-H Summer Fair this weekend in Newtown Square.

You think your kids are growing up fast? Since AJ and 13 other 4-H pig club members got their 60 pound piglets in April, some of the animals have grown to nearly 300 pounds.

AJ had cared for a guinea pig, but a market pig was a quantum leap. Once a week, he and his mother Katie Turner travel from their Swarthmore home to the 4-H pig club barn in Newtown Square. There they work with other pig club members to muck out a stall shared by 13 hungry pigs, to refresh the stall with straw, and to feed the hungry animals from 50 pound bags.

AJ Turner training with Mittens, the pig.

Katie Turner said, “We wanted an activity that was hard work, and something we can do together without any technology. And we also wanted to look at how other people live.”

Without farm wisdom from her time residing in Swarthmore or Connecticut, the prospect of the 4-H pig club was mysterious. Fortunately, a cousin had raised pigs in Georgia, and closer to home, Katie said, the Penn State Extension office helped the pair understand the porcine world and the demands of the undertaking.

Raising pigs is hard work, AJ said, but worthwhile and rewarding in a way that a visit to a farm or a zoo can’t deliver. “Seeing them close up, being able to touch them, getting to know them is the best part.”

AJ said Mittens is “Really cute, but hyper.” Part of the 4-H animal experience is showing the animal in conformation judging, during which the pig and not the handler should be closest to the judges. “We have to use a cane to guide them,” he says, and sometimes it takes a firm nudge or a tap to get Mittens going in the right direction. He suggests that perhaps pigs aren’t as smart as popular wisdom says they are.

By the end of the Saturday, Mittens and the others of his herd will be auctioned, with the pig club members sharing in the proceeds of the sale. AJ Turner will get back to school, soccer and hockey, but next spring, he plans to be back on the farm, growing up with another pig.

Young Local Exhibitors Groom
for 4-H Fair This Weekend

The 4-H Fair is a living connection to our country’s agrarian past, when raising and living with animals was part of life for most families. This weekend (beginning Thursday, August 10), this hidden Delaware County treasure is free and open to the public of all ages at the Cooperative 4-H farm at the Garrett Williamson Foundation, 395 Bishop Hollow Road in Newtown Square.

The 4-H Fair offers contests, pony and hay rides, informational displays, and animal showing in which young 4-H members present the animals they’ve helped raise, and the projects they’ve completed during the year. Poultry judging takes place on Thursday evening, and the show is open to the public beginning at 6 p.m. A horse show is featured on Friday evening beginning at 5 p.m., with other live animal shows continuing till 9 p.m.

Farmers rise early, and Saturday’s events begin at 8:30 a.m., running through 4 p.m. Check on progress and features of the show at the show’s Facebook page, facebook.com/delco4h. Admission and parking are free; the show goes on rain or shine. For more information, call youth education coordinator Rebecca McCafferty at (610) 690-2655.

Statistically Significant: Will Fairley Named an ASA Fellow

Will Fairley receives the fellowship award from American Statistical Association President Barry Nussbaum during last week’s ASA convention. Photo courtesy of the American Statistical Association.

It’s a fact: Dr. Will Farley of Swarthmore is one of 52 statisticians among the 18,000 members of the American Statistical Association who were named fellows of the organization at ASA’s Joint Statistical Meetings last week. Fellowship recognizes “contributions to the theory and practice of statistics in law, innovative curricular contributions, leadership in statistical consulting, and service” to the ASA.

Fellowship is permanent; there is no money involved, just the honor of being numbered among the most distinguished members of the ASA. Fellows have been named for more than a century, and are limited to one-third of one per cent (.0033333…) of membership per year.

Will co-founded Analysis & Inference in 1979 in Boston, moving with the company to Swarthmore when he married. The firm, now based in Victoria Mills in Wallingford, consults with law firms, companies, government entities, nonprofits and others, providing data analysis and conclusions based on statistics and probability. Dr. Fairley is joined at Analysis & Inference by director of client services Mares Stellfox, researcher John Livezey, database expert Anteneh Tesfaye, and data scientist consultant Bill Huber.

“Analysis & Inference is a fact finder,” Dr. Fairley said recently. “We ‘work on behalf of’ clients, we don’t work for them. We go in as consultants, not witnesses, and we go where the facts lead us. If you get a reputation for being on one side, you lose credibility.” For instance, he said, the firm consults on behalf of both defense and plaintiffs in the legal matters that make up about half its work.

In a polarized society where propaganda battles increasingly deploy “alternative facts,” such impartiality has become elusive. “It’s a tough environment for facts,” Dr. Fairley said, but no matter the complexity of the data analysis, he said, “We try to present facts as simply as possible.” The essential truths held within data, analyzed honestly, can help bring about agreement and progress rather than discord, with benefits to public policy as well as private citizens and companies.

Dr. Fairley’s contributions to the field include work which has brought about fairer solutions in federal compliance control of state social services, state insurance rate regulations, model criminal procedures, and nuclear power plant safety analysis. His body of work, complementing more than 40 peer reviewed papers and book chapters, made his selection as a Fellow of the ASA highly probable.