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Notes on newspaper articles about
West Chester (Pennsylvania) in 1970

by Jim Jones

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This file contains notes on articles that appeared in various newspapers (mostly the Daily Local News) in 1970. They have been edited for punctuation, spelling and grammar by Jim Jones of the History Department.

Disclaimer: These notes were collected for specific research projects. They do not include all of the articles in any issue, nor do they contain all of the information in any particular article. While every reasonable effort was made to insure its accuracy, the information on this website is presented AS IS without warranty, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. It is intended as a resource for historians, and nothing more. To report an error, make a comment, or submit notes on additional articles, please contact Dr. Jim Jones.


"Smasher to crush trash buildup here" in Daily Local News (Wednesday, January 19, 1972), page 1. [scanned]

BY BETH PYLE (Of The Local News Staff)

Do you have recurring nightmares of ever-mounting piles of trash slowly smothering the world? Do you fear that the disposable bottle and beer can will take over their disposers?

Take heart. A new concept in the trash-conquering business is coming to the West Chester area.

It's ruthless weapons against waste will include a trash smashing machine that will compact rubbish with a wallop of 90,000 pounds pressure, and, eventually, a pulverizing machine that will grind everything to bits.

(Picture appears on page 2)

The new warrior against trash is the Chester County Solid Waste Transfer Station.

Construction of the 8,000 square foot, gray concrete building which will house the machinery is nearly completed. Owner-builder Alex Barry expects the station to open for business on or before Feb. 15.

Haulers, homeowners, contractors and businesses will be able to bring their trash to the station on Fern Hill road in West Goshen Township.

For $2 a cubic yard, or about $4 for a trash track load, anyone can drive into the giant front door for the station, dump their refuse -- Including furniture and appliances -- into the open mouth of the hopper which feeds the hungry compacting machine, and drive back out the side door.

This whole process will take about five minutes.

Meanwhile, back in the station, the powerful strokes of the compacting machine will be condensing the load to about one-sixth its original sixe.

The compacted trash will be loaded on a tractor trailer with a 70 cubic yard capacity and transferred to Barry's Mountain Top Sanitary Landfill, located above Honey Brook, 17 miles away. At the beginning the tractor will make about four trips a day to the landfill.

Although the $1,00 per cubic yard cost ia higher than the 70 cent cost at nearby landfills, Barry feels that people -- especially the boroughs -- will want to use his transfer station because he says it will be quicker, more convenient, and there will be no problems getting stuck in a landfill's ever-present mud.

In addition, Barry feels that the transfer station is the answer to the filling landfill situation. With compacted trash taking-up one-sixth of the space of lose trash, landfill space would be conserved.

After the first year or two of operation, Barry plans to install a pulverising machine which will grind the trash into an even smaller volume.

He will be recycling all newspaper and corrugated cardboard, hauling it to the papermills in Downingtown.

"Youth Honored by Service Club" in Daily Local News (February 3, 1970), page 3. [scanned]

David Bortner, the son of Ross P. Bortner of 6 Rhodes Avenue, West Chester, was honored by the Exchange Club as "Youth of the Month." Recently, Bortner received the James E. O'Neill Awad from the Chamber of Commerce of Greater West Chester Area.

Bortner is the president of the the Henderson High School Student Council. He won the Waner D. Webster speaking contest. He is a morning radio announcer at Henderson's radio station.

Bortner plans to study political science at either Princeton or Dickinson.

"Another probe sought in college firing" in Daily Local News (February 10, 1970), page 1. [scanned]

A 25-member faculty group at West Chester State College has requested an investigation of the college's board of trustees and administration as a result of the dismissal of a member of the history department.

The Ad Hoc Committee of Concerned Faculty, headed by Dr. Frank Fox, of the history department, made the investigation request to Gov. Raymond Shafer and the Department of Public Instruction in telegrams sent Friday. As of yesterday afternoon, no reply had been received.

Center of the controversy is Dr Michael Kay, associate professor of history, whose contract has not been renewed by the college.

Dr. Kay was an outspoken critic of the college administration during a hearing on campus of the House Educatlon Committee on Oct. 30.

Charges were subsequently made that the professor was fired because of testimony he gave at that hearing. However, at a bearing in Harrisburg on Dec. 17, the committee cleared the college of this charge, finding that the decision not to renew Dr. Kay's contract was made before the campus hearing on Oct. 30.

Dr. Kay has been teaching at the college less than three years and has no tenure.

In its request for an investigation, the ad hoc committee Friday charged that the dismissal of Dr. Kay "was in violation of procedures established by the college and by the American Association of University Professors."

The committee further charged that the dismissal was ordered because Dr. Kay's political views "are not In harmony with the views held by most members of the board of trustees, President Paul W. Rossey" and other members of the administration.

It also said the dismissal would "probably result in the college being censured again by the AAUP."

It was also announced at the college yesterday that the committee and the Intracollegiate Government Association are sponsoring a meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Philips Memorial Auditorium to discuss the Dr. Kay dismissal and academic freedom on campus.

Letter to the editor, "Wants amendment to S. Bill 934 defeated" in Daily Local News (February 10, 1970), page 4. [scanned]

Editor News: All taxpayers should know that the Legislature in Harrisburg is currently considering an amendment to this year's general budget bill -- Senate Bill 934 -- which would add an additional million and one-half dollars for further frills on the Marsh Creek Dam Project in Chester County.

This project is not only bad economics and will be tremendously costly to our taxpayers, and to a large degree benefit out of state industry, but is bad conservation. The Sierra Club is currently fighting against a similar proposed dam in Chester County on the White Clay Creek above Wilmington.

If you want to save tax dollars, write now to your legislators asking them to vote against the proposed amendment and further requesting a reconsideration and reevaluation of the entire project.

SAMUEL W. MORRIS, Pottstown R.D.2

Letter to the editor, "'Crisis' is seen at West Chester State" in Daily Local News (February 11, 1970), page 4. [scanned]

Editor News: The future of West Chester State College as an educational institution is at a stage of crisis. The academic freedom of the faculty is being systematically eliminated by the administration and the Board of Trustees. Because of this, a distinct possibility of academic censure now hangs over the college.

The concerned students and faculty are conducting a moratorium on February 12 to discuss and evaluate the circumstances which have arisen. The focal point of this controversy involves an eminent professor, Dr. Michael Kay. This, however, has now expanded to involve a much larger question, the academic nature of a university and what the relationships of students, faculty and administrators within this framework should be.

West Chester as a community is identified with this College and should concern itself with the practices and policies which could endanger any future that this school might have as a university. With this in mind we ask the people of the community who care about academic freedom and believe that there should exist the ability to express one's own opinion without fear of recrimination to attend the discussions Thursday at 10 a.m. in Philips Memorial Auditorium to learn about the situation which has settled upon our campus.

WILLIAMS. KEILBAUGH 903 Sheridan dr.


(Members of the junior class at the college)

Letter to the editor, "Mailbag: A child and TV" in Daily Local News (February 14, 1970), page 4. [scanned]

Editor News: The day before my TV debut my newspaper boy yelled to me, "Congratulations Rev. Porter, I understand you will be on 'Face The Nation' tomorrow."

The day of my debut a three-year-old fan of mine watched me on TV until the program ended. Then she turned to her mother and said, "Rev. Porter doesn't know where we live does he?"

"What makes you say that." replied the surprised mother.

"Well, when the program was over he didn't step out of the TV and walk into our living room."

Until the mother is able to explain things, in the mind of one three-year-old is the sneaky suspicion that I may be a rat fink.

ANDERSON E PORTER 114 N. Wayne St. West Chester

Note: The appearance was the "Input" program on WCAU channel 10, Sunday, February 8th.

"Want to end steam heat. Residents protest PE petition" in Daily Local News (February 17, 1970), page 1. [scanned]

By PAT MURDOCH (Of The Local News Staff)

It was the day for protestants yesterday at the third round of the Public Utiliie Commission's ... S. Church st., West Chester, who stated her opposition to replacing her heating system because it could be both expensive and inconvenient was ... county and borough taxpayers as well as church goers and also cited increased pollution problems.

Other homeowners protesting the steam heat plight were Theodore O. Rogers for the Church of the Holy Trinity and Dan Facciolli for the Baptist Church. ... during their testimony, cited expenses to their steam-served properties.

Never Told

William J. McGrogan, plant engineer of Denney-Reyburn, and William A. Cosgriff, president of the Dime Savings Bank, also protested conversion expenses. Cosgriff also told PUC examiner Meyer L. Casman that PE had never told bank officials that they should make provision for systems other than steam when the bank built its new structure five years ago at the northeast corner of Market and High streets.

The probable rise in tenants' rents, to account for conversion expense by landlords, was noted bv Ralph Easter of West Chester RD 4 while Richard Hall, an officer in Francis Hall Inc., 39 S. High st., mentioned the depreciation in price of properties now receiving steam heat.

Costs also were cited by Marriott Cooper for conversion at the IOOF hall and by Harold C. Fitzsimmons for the Chester County Historical Society. Fitzsimmons also noted his concern for safety of the group's documents and objects should another type of heating system be installed.

Testimony from two boiler engineers from insurance companies opened the session. Both said they had found the PE boilers to be in "satisfactory condition" last year during inspections for the state. Under cross examination by PE lawyers, they stated that the boilers were built in 1925, 1917 and 1909.

A number of PE officials apparently had been subpoenaed by Higgins and Ronald Nagle but when their absence was noted, PE attorneys said it was because the subpoenas had not been "properly served." The statement sparked an angry spate of words from Higgins who called it "autocratic behavior on PE's part.

Two are quizzed

Two officials were present, however, and were quizzed by Higgins and Nagle. Under questioning, Donald McCallin, plant foreman for PE in West Chester, said that he had never reported that the boilers might be unsafe and none had ever been evaluated as needing cleaning from scale. He also noted many "minor" leaks in steam mains.

Under Higgins' questioning, William DeMauriac of Chester Springs RD 2, manager of station operations, said his job was to see that steam "is there when customers demand it." He said there had been no discussions for putting in new boilers since 1956 and that sales simply could not support a new steam plant.

A wholesale replacement of equipment should be made in West Chester because of the equipment's age, he said, but admitted that he had never told his superiors that such replacement was necessary.

Higgins had told the examiner that the reason he had subpoenaed the missing PE officials was because he had hoped to show a planned obsolesence at the plant on PE's part since 1953 so it could close down the plant.

"Pot confiscated from students" in Daily Local News (February 17, 1970), page 2. [scanned]

Reported incidents involving drugs at East School led to removal of two students from the school on Friday. West Goshen " Township police revealed today.

Police said a quantity of marijuana -- about enough to fill five to seven bank deposit envelopes -- was confiscated.

Police withheld the names of the students who were apprehended, and said a continuing investigation is under way under direction of Detective Sgt. Thomas Flick.

Philadelphia Sunday Bulletin (August 2, 1970), in CCHS clippings file, "West Chester Public Works, Sewers, 1970 (2)." [scanned by Jim Jones]

West Chester, a magazine writer observed seven years ago, is "every man's idea of an old-fashioned American country town. In some ways, this remains true. Nestled in rolling farmland 25 miles west of Philadelphia, the Chester County seat, with its splendid court house, its tree-shaded red-brick buildings, its historical society, its churches and its big state college exemplifies a Norman Rockwell vision of the national heritage.

Its downtown streets are jammed with traffic now, but West Chester's pace still seems leisurely.

It's the kind of town where, as you're talking to Police Chief Thomas G. Frame, 40, in the High st. station house, Mayor J. Herbert Chambers, 65, may stroll in, take out his pipe and sit yarning with "Tommy" for half an hour.

Beneath the surface, though, things have never been as serene in West Chester as appearances suggested.

And last week it became clear that West Chester is currently afflicted with many of the woes of bigger cities. The (sic) The last eight days have seen:

-- Some of its policemen pelted with rocks and some of its citizens routed with teargas.
-- A curfew set and then lifted.
-- State troopers summoned to quell disorders.
-- Windows smashed in 20 downtown stores.

The trouble began about 2 A. M. last Saturday when Ramon Torres, 43, of 8 N. New St., in West Chester's growing Spanish-speaking community, was beaten in a taproom.

Three nights of disorders followed. Crowds of Puerto Ricans exploded in wrath over reports that Torres had died (he is alive but his condition is serious) and that his beating grew from anti-Puerto Rican discriminations.

Bartender Jailed

Twenty-three persons arrested on Saturday for curfew violations were released the next day and resumed riotous demonstrations on discovering that the accused assailant, Howard Brunner, 51, the bartender, was out on bail. (Brunner's bail was subsequently raised from $5,000 to $20,000 and he is in jail.)

Through the use of outside police, tear gas and a sectional curfew, Chief Frame, who is widely respected, and his men quieted these disturbances with no injuries reported and without drawing guns or night sticks.

But while the curfew was still in effect in the Puerto Rican sector, trouble erupted Monday night in the nearby business district. More than 100 youths broke store windows in what appeared to be a random spree.

Police said the window smashers were Negroes led by Chalmers Johnson, 22. Negroes say the spree was set off when a white man threw a rock at Johnson's sister; police said they found no evidence to substantiate this.

Bail Protested

Johnson was first held on $10,000 bail. The fact that his bail -- for breaking windows and allegedly inciting a riot -- was double that of the white bartender in Torres' beating brought protests.

On Tuesday night, more than 300 blacks and Puerto Ricans, making common cause for the first time, went to the police station to protest Johnson's bail. It was subsequently reduced to $1,000 and he was released.

Since then, West Chester has been quiet. But nobody thinks the borough of close to 20,000 has solved its problems.

"We're no better off," said Chief Frame, "than any other community. The problems -- housing, pollution, racil, economic -- are all here.

Bigotry Lives On

"West Chester," said Robert Lentz, a white lawyer, "used to be a sleepy southern-style town in race relations. Outwardly, the signs are pretty good now, but inwardly nothing has changed very much. The age old problems of prejudice and bigotry are still with us."

The borough, which dates its founding from 1799, once was called the "Athens of Pennsylvania" because of its learned judges and lawyers, talented artists and writers. Claude Raines, the late actor, lived nearby and Andrew Wyeth's studio is not far away in Chadds Ford.

For years, West Chester was, as Mayor Chambers says, "an old Quaker town where you couldn't spit on the sidewalk on Sunday."

Like most small towns in Pennsylvania, it was run by and for white Protestants. Chief Frame emembers his father, the late warden of the County's prison, telling of watching the Ku Klux Klan march up Market st.

And 25 or 30 years back, says Frame, in his office with Chambers, "I wouldn't be sitting in this chair and the mayor wouldn't be sitting in his chair -- because of our religion." (Both are Roman Catholics and Mayor Chambers is, in addition, a Democrat, first to be elected in this overwhelmingly Republican borough in at least 75 years.)

Racial and ethnic changes occurred after World War II.

There have been Negroes in West Chester since its earliest days and the borough was one of the last northern links in the Civil War-era "underground railroad" for slaves fleeing the South.

In the 1950s, Puerto Ricans were drawn to the area first as migrant laborers and later as permanent residents. They found jobs in Chester County's famed mushroom houses.

Since 1960, West Chester's Puerto Rican and Negro populations are thought to have increased appreciably. While official figures are unavailable, Spanish-speaking West Chester residents may now make up five percent of the total and Negroes more than 15 percent. West Chester's school enrollment is 20 percent black.

Beaded Youth

During recent years also, West Chester State College has expanded enormously and its character as a sleepy cow college has been altered. Longhaired, barefoot, bearded and beaded college youth are now a fixture in the town.

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King in April, 1968, with resultant racial disorders in many cities, West Chester took steps to provide minority representation in government.

Fred C. Beckett, 32, a real estate man, was appointed to its borough council, the first black to serve on that seven-member body. The Rev. Amos C. Brown became the first Negro member of the West Chester Area Joint School Board. (He recently resigned and has been replaced by another black appointee, Alston Meade, a du- Pont chemist.)

A fair housing ordinance -- "One of the best in the country, on paper," says Beckett -- was enacted. Blacks were added to the police force and a single Negro was taken into one of tne previously all-white volunteer fire companies with hundreds of members.

Officers Quit

Recently, however, there have been signs of retrogession in race relations. There are four Negroes on the 26-man police force but none above the rank of lieutenant. Two Puerto Rican officers quit and the department now has no Spanish-speaking policemen. Frame sees this lack as a grave disadvantage.

The borough council is again all white, Beckett having been defeated by the mayor's son last year. If councilmen were elected by wards, certainly one Negro and possibly two Negroes and one Puerto Rican would win places on the body. But all the elections are boroughwlde and four of the seven councilmen live in the same section. Mayor Chambers says he favors a switch to the ward system but this idea appears to have little support.

Beckett, a third-generation West Chesterite, says the Black Action Committee, probably the borough's most militant black group which he helped found, has concluded that, no progress can be made through cooperation with the "power structure."

Mistrust by Blacks

"The mistrust you see through the country exists here," he said. "The white community has the idea they know what's best for everyone and they're going to do things for us. But they seem incapable of solving human problems."

Devere Ponzo, the Black Action Committee's "prime minister," who is described by an associate as "the most militant cat in West Chester," said:

"Hawaii and Alabama are the only two places worse than Chester County. They don't admit they have problems. The whole atmosphere here is wrong.

"The court system is lousy. The bail system is bad. It's more than just the police. It's the whole damn establishment."

Not All Uptight

To others, West Chester's problems seem of manageable proportions.

"Compared to some parts of Philadelphia," said the Rev. James N. Catagnus, 23, newly arrived assistant pastor at St, Agnes Roman Catholic Church, "even the poorest sections here look good to me. There's a better housing mix. You don't find Spanish ghettos or black ghettos as in Philadelphia,"

There are no organized youth gangs, black or white, in West Chester, says Chief Frame. And Beckett adds: "In West Chester, blacks don't kill blacks." Perhaps most important, West Chesterites. don't seem tense and edgy about race relations as many city people do. Some can even joke about their common problems. One white lawyer refers to last week's events involving Negroes and Puerto Ricnas as "the black-and-tan fantasy." He smiles when he says it.

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