Mid-Summer Musings: Thoughts on Local Chester County News Items in July 2020
By Steven Hoffman
Here are a few musings on a hot summer day…
We would like to wish Christianna Hannum all the best as she takes the helm of Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI). Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community, and small businesses will certainly need a lot of support on the road to economic recovery from the health crisis. OMI has played a vital role in Oxford’s revitalization efforts during the last 20 years by working to encourage economic development in the downtown. Oxford has weathered other economic downturns, and it can weather the current crisis, too. It will take a team effort, it will take the community coming together, and OMI is positioned to help lead during this difficult time.
Speaking of difficult times, there is no getting around the challenges facing schools as education officials work to determine when and how to safely reopen school buildings amid a pandemic. This has certainly been a source of anguish and uncertainty for parents, students and school district officials. Avon Grove School Board president Bill Wood described the challenges of developing a plan to safely reopen schools by saying, “We’ve been asked to build the plane while we’re flying it.” Flexibility is obviously going to be a key when it comes to navigating through the first few months of a new school year. A lot of decisions about how and when to reopen schools will be left to local school boards, and with many school districts offering both in-person and remote education options, it’s very likely going to be up to parents to make a final determination as to when they send their children into schools. While this is obviously a less-than-ideal scenario, these are less-than-ideal circumstances.
Kudos to the American Battlefield Trust and the North American Land Trust for their efforts to save the Brandywine Battlefield. Together, they are working on a fundraising campaign to protect a 72-acre Brinton Run Preserve property. The Continental Army, under General George Washington, may not have won this particular battle that took place in this area, but it did go on to win the Revolutionary War. In terms of duration, land covered, and troops engaged, Brandywine was the largest battle of the Revolutionary War. The property being preserved played a role in the battle’s final stages.
Efforts to reduce homelessness in Chester County are paying off. The county conducted the 2020 Point in Time Report earlier this year, and the results showed that there was a 23 percent decline in the number of homeless people over the last five years. The Decade to Doorways partnership that was established to help reduce homelessness in the county appears to be producing results. The Point in Time Count is a national effort mandated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness. Of the 522 individuals who were identified as experiencing homelessness during this year’s Point in Time Count, there were 203 veterans who were being housed at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus. Despite numerous efforts across the country to help reduce the number of military veterans who struggle to maintain their own homes, there is still a too-high percentage of veterans who are struggling. More needs to be done to help veterans.