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Chester County Press

Oxford Chamber President outlines ongoing support for fire victims

04/04/2024 01:30PM ● By Betsy Brewer Brantner

Six months after a tragic fire in downtown Oxford destroyed buildings and displaced nearly 100 people, support continues to flow to the victims. Multiple agencies continue to report to Oxford Borough Council about how donations continue to come in, and at a recent council meeting Dennis McCartney, the Oxford Chamber of Commerce board president, told council about the organization’s ongoing efforts to help.

“The fire on September 13 started a chain of donations,” McCartney said. “Chris Grove, our executive director, was on the job at 5:45 a.m. the next day. The Chamber was in a unique position to provide support. From the beginning, they worked with directing fire victims to the Oxford Presbyterian Church. The Chamber set up a donation link on their website immediately providing a central location for donations. In the days that followed they, along with other agencies in the Borough, reached out to find housing for those that had lost everything.”

McCartney added, “Chris Grove coordinated efforts pouring in from outside of the Borough, witnessing a young boy bringing his piggy bank to the Chamber office and working with the Solanco Football team that donated items.”

McCartney noted how so many people in the borough, including Oxford Mayor Phil Harris, spearheaded the effort to centralize the donations by working with Oxford Area Neighborhood Services Center, under the direction of the county.

“The Chamber worked with every business in the BID,” McCartney said, referring to the business Improvement District. “They were a conduit for donations and even absorbed the cost of credit card fees. The total collected by the Chamber online was $113,271.75.” 

Donations of clothing, household items, and other items were quickly moved on to Neighborhood Services Center.

McCartney said, “Our goal was always to protect each individual and family.”

Though a hole, both literally and figuratively, still remains within Oxford Borough, the fire illuminated how close-knit and caring the community is. Support hasn’t faded for the victims, individuals, families and businesses.

Oxford Borough Council members applauded the Chamber for all they did to help the fire victims.

In other business at the meeting, longtime resident Chauncey Boyd spoke before council on a subject that has continued to trouble him over the years.

“I am a resident of Oxford and I live on the corner of Wedgewood and Locust streets,” he said “First, I’d like to express my appreciation of the Oxford Police Department and the Public Works Department through the years as I continue to deal with the destruction of my property by trucks that continue to drive on my property as they turn from Locust on to Wedgewood.”

Boyd, who runs a trucking company, has tried to find a number of solutions to keep trucks off of his property, which included locating huge rocks to keep out vehicles. His home, which was built in 1926, features a long stone walkway made from stones that match his house. The home has also been damaged.

Boyd’s biggest concern of late is the fact that vehicles destroying his property are also running over gas and water mains.

“Many of the trucks are going to the nursery behind me. I have a trucking company and I know there is no reason for them not to make the turn safely, while keeping out of my yard. It is a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “Vehicles are coming into my yard six feet from the curb line.”

The PennDOT road has also been the site of numerous accidents, including one that killed almost an entire family years ago. Currently, vehicles greatly exceed the speed limits posted in the area. A proposed development, which is located in both East Nottingham Township and Oxford Borough, will greatly increase the number of vehicles along that stretch, adding to safety concerns.

In another issue discussed at the meeting, Oxford Police Chief Sam Iacono said that the Oxford Police Department is edging closer to receiving accreditation. They will be meeting in Harrisburg on April 28 to hopefully get final approval.

Iacono also reported that Sgt. Coverly and Officer Greet attended an all-day meeting with Lincoln University to discuss the possibility of a partnership. Discussions will continue.

Mayor Phil Harris continues to work on his concerns regarding vaping shops. He will be holding  a public meeting on vaping in the near future.

Oxford Borough Manager Pauline Garcia-Allen reported that the borough received a $500,000 grant through the Pennsylvania H20 program to support system-wide meter upgrades. Through this project, the borough will transition to an AMI or cellular water meter system. The new technology will be more accurate, and the operation will function more efficiently and improve the customer experience. A request for proposals for the new meters will go out this spring.

Garcia-Allen also informed the public and council that the new Oxford Borough website is up and running. The website: will now be available in Spanish.

The following motions were approved by Oxford Borough Council:

  • Denny Electric Supply Generator contract for Well #8 in the amount of $17,605.75.
  • Baer Electric LLC contracts in the amounts of $2,975 for water plant generator test and wiring changes and $4,900 for hook up of the new generator for Well #8.
  • Authorization to advertise ordinances accepting dedication of improvements in Phases 1, 2 and 4 of Sycamore Crossing, subject to receipt of final documents from developer. 
  • Approval of the proposed 9/11 Memorial in Oxford Memorial Park. Will Fasick from Boy Scout Troop 13 is still collecting funds for this project. Those wishing  to donate can send checks to 25 N 3rd Street, Oxford, PA, 19363. Checks need to be made payable to Troop 13. Donations can also be made by using the Venmo @WillFasick. 
  • A HARB Certificate of Appropriateness for 709-711 Market Street, Oxford.
  • A HARB Certificate of Appropriateness for 439 Market Street, Oxford. 
  • Oxford Borough Council President Kathryn Cloyd thanked the Green Thumb Garden Club for their recent help with the plants outside the borough’s parking garage.
  • Council member Peggy Ann Russell thanked the police and ambulance crew for incredible service and patience for the residents in the community.