First Fridays coming back to Oxford05/25/2021 10:40AM ● By Steven Hoffman
There is a light at the end of the COVID tunnel. Oxford Borough Council approved two Special Event permits for Oxford Mainstreet Inc. (OMI) at their recent meeting that will allow First Friday events to return to downtown Oxford. Council approved a Special Event permit for the First Friday in July and the First Friday in August, in accordance with the guidelines of the CDC and the Pennsylvania Health Department.
Both Christy Hannum, executive director, and Brian Dix, Mainstreet manager of OMI, were very enthusiastic about the revival of the First Fridays.
July‘s First Friday will be a summer block party, while August’s First Friday will include music. And, of course, September’s First Friday, which has been approved, will be the always-popular Car Show.
Dix said since restrictions have eased, local merchants are anxious to bring back First Fridays. Dix also thanked Mary Barringer for her continued efforts as a volunteer and for recently planting beautiful flowers throughout the town.
Although First Fridays were put on hold due to the pandemic, OMI continued moving on other projects. One of those projects is the Shoebox Theatre. Tragically, Dennis Melton, the spark and driving force behind the theatre project, passed away. His loss will be felt by many in this community and other surrounding areas.
The project was also put on hold due to issues with their HVAC and electrical system. The owner of the property, Wilson King, will be moving forward with those renovations which will keep the Shoebox Theatre project advancing and saving OMI a lot of money. That work should take 90 days to complete.
Council president Peggy Russell thanked Wilson King for his support.
Another popular event coming up in the borough this year is Wreaths Across America. Clarissa Sherrow, continues her third year as the coordinator for the event.
The event will be held December 18. Currently the group has raised enough in donations for 846 wreaths. They are still taking donations for another 454 wreaths that are needed. For more information on donating to the organization you can visit their Facebook page at: Wreaths Across America – Southern Chester County, Pa. or you can call Clarissa at 484-645-4513.
“We are still in the planning stage and are hoping COVID doesn’t change our plans,” Sherrow explained.
Wreaths Across America is a national event and was started locally in Oxford in 2008 by David Hamilton, with help from the Boy Scouts. The first year there were 60 wreaths placed. Now they are usually able to get over 1,000 wreaths placed, and they are also adding a Mobile Education Exhibit.
The goal of the Wreaths Across America Mobile Education Exhibit (MEE) is to bring communities together and teach patriotism while remembering the service and sacrifice of the nation’s heroes.
The MEE plans to achieve this goal by bringing the local community, veterans, active-duty military and their families together through interactive exhibits, short films, and shared stories. The exhibit serves as a mobile museum, educating visitors about the service and sacrifice of the nation’s heroes as well as serving as an official ‘welcome home’ station for the nation’s Vietnam Veterans.
The 48’ exhibit is equipped with a 24-person screening room that showcases the aspects of the Wreaths Across America mission through video. To the front of the exhibit there are three interactive computers to showcase locations, trucking supporters and general sponsorship questions. Also, in the front is an education wall of information explaining the different areas of Wreaths Across America and where the mission will be going in the future.
The MEE will be stationed at Jeff D’Ambrosio Chevrolet at 2158 Baltimore Pike, Oxford, on June 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
John Meisel, the manager of transportation operations and planning for Transportation Management Association of Chester County (TMACC) also spoke to council, explaining the routes of the SCCOOT bus from Oxford to other parts of the county. Meisel said the Oxford Transportation Center is a great addition to the system.
Meisel explained that even though the pandemic cut the number of persons using their service, he is happy to report that they were able to continue their service.
The bus service has been running for over 10 years. He also said that they are constantly evaluating their ridership and how they can better serve the community.
In a cost-saving move, council approved changing the health care carrier for borough employees. They approved a resolution authorizing the Borough to enter into an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement and participate in the Delaware Valley Health Trust. The transition is expected to start in August.
Council also approved motions for both the Oxford Police Association and the Oxford Employee Association to approve a Memorandum of Understanding specific to the provision of healthcare coverage.
It is anticipated that the borough will save $29,000 for this year by changing health care coverage.
In other business, council approved the adoption of Ordinance #943-2021 regarding anti-discrimination.
Council member Amanda Birdwell said, “it is difficult to be conscious of issues of inequality if you are not the one being discriminated against. This is a good beginning.”
Council approved a motion to direct the solicitor to participate in the Zoning Hearing Board on the application of Carl Hemphill for the property at 57 N. Sixth Street, the former Oxford Corporation site. This is a 10-acre parcel which is to be used for a tree mulching business. The intent is to erect a building on this property for the manufacture of wood and paper products. The request from the Zoning Hearing Board is for a height variance, but not for the building—the request is for the height of the mulch pile.
Brick walls that will support the mulch will be erected. Solicitor Stacey Fuller told council that mulch may be considered as a nuisance due to sounds from processing and because of the odor. Council will be following up on the process as it goes forward.
In other business, Nicholas Thorburn was approved by council as a part-time police officer. He replaced another part-time officer who recently filled a full-time position.
Council approved the resignation of Rich Herbert from the Oxford Planning Commission. They also approved two appointments to that commission: Robert Glisson and Randy Teel.
Council also approved a motion to have the Traffic Calming Policy reviewed by both the engineer and solicitor.
At the last council meeting, an application for a Greenways Trails and Recreation Program Grant was discussed. The scope of work for the grant was to include connecting the borough with the OARA Park. Borough manager Carey Vargo told council he would recommend deferring this at the moment. Council concurred.
“We need to get the trail set and then work with the other adjoining municipality,” Vargo said.
Council also agreed to table the discussion of the accreditation of the Oxford Police Department.