A look back at some of the people and events that inspired us this year
● By Steven Hoffman
Soon, the calendar will flip to January 2017, and we'll all be making plans, setting goals, and looking forward to the exciting year ahead. But this week, with Christmas upon us, we thought it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the people and events that inspired us during 2016.
The start of the new year brought a lot of new faces to the local borough councils and township boards. Kennett Township welcomed Whitney Hoffman as a new supervisor, while Christine Kimmel was sworn in as a new supervisor in East Marlborough. In Kennett Square Borough, no fewer than five new council members—Wayne Braffman, Doug Doerfler, Jamie Mallon, LaToya Myers, and Ethan Cramer—were sworn in at the start of the year. As community journalists, we have a front row seat to see the contributions that local officials make as they dedicate their time and talents to the communities that they call home.
Also in January, we reported about how hundreds of local students honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on his birthday by volunteering for a day of service that included everything from collecting toys for youngsters to cleaning up the community to feeding the hungry.
During the course of 2016, we had the opportunity to shine a spotlight on many other people in the community who are making a difference in big ways and small.
We wrote about how The Grateful Alive brings nostalgic music to nursing homes and senior centers throughout the county, and about how the Constellation Network brought together 14 different churches to serve the communities in southern Chester County.
We met Morgan Palmer, who went on a mission trip to the Boys and Girls Christian Home in Amraviti, India, and we discussed the dangers of the heroin epidemic much closer to home with Andy Rumford, who founded Kacie's Cause and started parent support groups to help families cope when a child is struggling with addiction.
We profiled Dave Haradon, the recipient of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year Award for 2015 for his many volunteer activities.
We once again featured the good work of Good Neighbors Home Repair, which has helped for than 250 homeowners in southern Chester County since 1992 by doing much-needed repairs on their homes. We also highlighted the work of Camp Dreamcatcher, which has been helping children whose lives are affected by HIV or AIDS.
We were often inspired by the people we met. We updated readers this year about the progress that Corey Beattie has made using an innovative therapy to recover from a terrible traffic accident more than five years ago. We also wrote about Grayson Savery, a first-grader at New Garden Elementary who has battled pediatric brain cancer since the age of two, when he was named the honorary captain of the Kennett football team during an early-season game against Chichester. More recently, we wrote about Landenberg fifth-grader Lily Tomeo, who has been designing and hand-sewing hats for children at the Nemours A.I. Du Pont Hospital for Children.
We were there when Kennett Square Borough honored Police Chief Edward Zunino for his 40 years of service to the community. Zunino announced his retirement later in 2016, capping his distinguished career. We also covered the formation of the Southern Chester County Regional Police Department that combines the policing services of New Garden Township and West Grove Borough.
We wrote about how the Kennett Township supervisors voted to purchase the Fussell House, a 190-year-old home that was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, so that it could be preserved.
We met many new business owners in 2016, including Bob Strehlau, a fifth-generation jeweler who became the new owner of Bove Jewelers—a store with a long history in Kennett Square. In Oxford, Sue Cole opened the Candy Case, while we also covered the openings of numerous other businesses including Lola's, The Maroon Hornet, RARE Technologies, and more. We also had the opportunity to write about Tara Dugan, who opened the worKS, a new retail destination in Kennett Square.
We saw State Sen. Andy Dinniman take the lead in addressing the phorid fly infestation problems being experienced by Harrogate residents, and we also saw State Rep. John Lawrence assist Oxford Borough in its efforts to construct a new parking garage in the business district. Oxford Borough officials worked tirelessly on plans to construct a parking garage in the center of town, and by the year's end they were beginning to see the fruits of their labor after the borough secured two grants, one from the state and one from the county, totaling more than $1 million.
We followed the remarkable achievements of Maggie Balint, a pitcher for the Avon Grove softball team, as she and her teammates made a run to the AAAA Pennsylvania State Championships. We saw nine Avon Grove seniors sign letters of intent to compete in their respective sports at the collegiate level. Oxford's Morgan Curl, one of the top swimmers in school history, signed to compete at the University of Pennsylvania, while field hockey standout Sarah Johnson realized a dream by signing to play for Stanford University.
Several local athletes, including Katelyn Falgowski, Phillip Dutton, and Boyd Martin made it to the Olympics.
Like so many others in the area, we enjoyed popular annual events like the Kennett Run, the Oxford Car Show, the Chester County Balloon Festival, and the Mushroom Festival.
We'd like to thank all the newsmakers in southern Chester County for their hard work and dedication to the community, and we look forward to reporting about what they do in 2017.
And to all our readers, we would like to wish you the merriest of holiday seasons, and a happy and healthy 2017.