The three Chester County Commissioners with Dolly Weidman Scott, Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC), presenting a proclamation about Domestic Violence Awareness Month on October 9, 2012.
September 7, 2012
Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone had a few seconds of screen time while attending the Democratic National Convention.
Chester County viewers of President Barack Obama’s Thursday night speech at the Democratic National Convention might have noticed a familiar face.
During PBS NewsHour’s coverage of the speech, Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone as well as former West Chester Borough Council President Bill Scott were featured in one of the crowd reaction shots.
Ex-movie set a crowd-pleaser for pet-lovers
June 11, 2012
Chester County SPCA’s Forget-Me-Not gala brings hundreds to Unionville
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, UnionvilleTimes.comA passion for pets pervaded the Chester County SPCA’s elegant 25th annual Forget-Me-Not Gala in Unionville on Sunday.
Held at the residence of Katie and Cuyler Walker – a horse farm featured in two films by M. Night Shyamalan – the event attracted a crowd eager to support the efforts of the Chester County SPCA, a nonprofit dependent on donations for its mission of animal-advocacy.
The Walkers not only opened their property for the fund-raiser, they also more than quadrupled their normal animal population – five dogs and nine horses. In addition, they invited more than 200 visitors to tour their stately, mid-1800s home, which will be showcased again on this year’s Chester County Day, a benefit for Chester County Hospital.
“We had no hesitation,” said Katie Walker, describing the privilege of sharing what makes the Unionville area special with a worthy cause.
For Cuyler Walker, who chairs the East Marlborough Township supervisors’ board, a commitment to animals is likely part of his DNA. The family’s five Labradors are the 19th generation of Peggy of Shipman, one of the first labs brought to the U.S. from England by his great uncle.The Walkers’ home features a treasured collection of dog photographs, books and memorabilia. For example, in 1938, one of the family dogs’ ancestors made the cover of Life magazine for being a three-time champion.
And to complement their impressive lineage, the Walker dogs can even boast Ivy League exposure. Cuyler Walker recalled the time he came home from college on vacation to find a litter of puppies, one of which had to go back to Yale with him. Simba was a hit – both on and off the campus, he said.
The fact that he was no longer living in a dorm made the arrangement possible. He said he started taking the puppy to class, and no one ever complained. “I was discreet,” he said. “I usually sat in the back, and she would sleep.”
The gala’s activities included scheduled canine demonstrations by U.S. Customs officials and Search & Rescue Dogs of Pennsylvania as well as impromptu obedience-training sessions by Cuyler Walker. The program was emceed by NBC10 anchor Dawn Timmeney, another unabashed dog enthusiast.“No arm-twisting needed,” she said of her participation in the event. Timmeney, who owns two Golden Retrievers, said she has been impressed with the work of the Chester County SPCA, which has been featured on her show, “Dawn’s Pet Project.”
No Forget-Me-Not would be complete without its traditional carriage parade, and Sunday’s sunny skies enhanced the photo opportunities. More than 15 carriages with occupants in period finery traveled up the Walker’s long driveway as cameras clicked. Among the passengers: Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and her family.
“We wouldn’t miss this,” she said. “It’s a very special event.”
State Sen. Andy Dinniman also made an appearance, joined by his dog, Henry. He urged the audience to voice support for a bill he sponsored to make Pennsylvania the 20th state in the country to ban the gasing of dogs. He said he hoped the bill, which passed in the Senate, would be approved by the House in the fall.
The gala also received support from a variety of local businesses that donated culinary offerings, such as The Gables at Chadds Ford, Brandywine Prime, and Victory Brewing Company, as well as a potpourri of items for the silent auction.Conrad E. Muhley, board president of the Chester County SPCA, extended thanks to the many people who made the gala possible, especially the Walkers and Frank Sobyak, a longtime board member and contributor.
Rich Britton, a spokesman for the Chester County SPCA, said it was great to see people reach out to the agency, which has had a challenging year. In addition to orchestrating a much-needed expansion of its West Goshen facility, the Chester County SPCA investigates an average of 450 complaints a year of animal abuse.
The most recent case involved the burning death of a 15-pound terrier in Coatesville last week. A necropsy is expected to be performed at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center today, Britton said.
Residents voice nearly unanimous plea not to privatize
May 15, 2012
More than 200 attend county commissioners’ 2nd information session
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Special to UnionvilleTimes.com
DOWNINGTOWN — The venue was larger and the crowd a bit smaller, but the message to the Chester County commissioners remained virtually the same: Don’t privatize the Pocopson Home.
The input occurred during the second in a series of public meetings to discuss the findings of a strategic plan for the county-owned Pocopson Home, a 275-bed long-term, health-care facility. About 230 people attended the forum, which was held in the auditorium of Downingtown High School East.
But unlike the May 2 meeting, the sentiments to keep the facility county-owned and operated were not unanimous. Although more than 20 speakers urged the commissioners to find ways to fund the ballooning costs, a couple of residents suggested the county would be better served to sell the facility.
The commissioners have explained that declining state and federal reimbursements and skyrocketing operating costs prompted them several months ago to contract Premier Healthcare Resources, a King of Prussia firm, to prepare a strategic plan and financial analysis. The results of that study were released at the first meeting, prompting an hour of heartfelt testimony about the Pocopson Home’s incomparable quality of care from the crowd of approximately 250.
At last night’s meeting, speakers were encouraged not to repeat the impassioned testimonials that echoed throughout the first meeting, but some could not contain themselves. Diane Graham, who spoke with difficulty, drew the loudest applause after she lovingly described her home of 21 years.
Helen Weber of East Goshen elicited some gasps when she opined that she didn’t believe taxpayers should foot the bill. “I don’t know why the county should be in this business,” she said.
As before, the commissioners stressed that no decision on the home’s fate has been made, no residents would be displaced no matter what the outcome, and at least one more hearing will be scheduled to review the options.
“We can’t make a decision without taking the temperature of Chester County,” said Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell, explaining the need for the meetings, which will be publicized on the county’s web site.
“We’re still evaluating everything,” said Commissioner Ryan Costello. “I am not interested in being a part of anything that would involve any one of you moving out of your home …We are all sensitive to the quality-of-care issues.”
Costello said that because the Pocopson Home requires subsidies, the commissioners “owe it to you as taxpayers” to evaluate the facility. “We don’t have to be in this business,” he said.. “This is just us doing our best to be transparent and accountable.”
Without making a recommendation, the report focused on three changes that would enable the county to save money on the facility: converting it to a nonprofit 501c3, leasing it to a private operator, or selling it. The springboard for last night’s discussion was an hourlong presentation by Joann Jones, Premier Healthcare’s president, which featured projections on future operating losses at the home, ranging from a possible $1.4 million in 2012 to $3.1 million in 2016. She also identified two possible income-producing additions to the home – dialysis treatment and short-term rehabilitation.
Some of the numbers raised questions.
For example, Costello wanted to know why the consultants predicted a 1 percent increase for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements in 2013. After learning that the projection was based on historical patterns, he paused. “If it rains for a while, it has to get sunny?” he asked.
Patricia Barry, a nurse from West Brandywine Township, wanted more information on what she viewed as the disproportionately high “indirect costs” assigned to Pocopson, such as allocations for the county’s human resources and accounting services. Cozzone said the commissioners would research the formula used. Costello said “a good portion” of the financial losses stemming from those costs – about $1.4 million – would continue even if the county sold the facility.
Despite the red ink, many speakers said they believed the county should continue to fund the facility. And, like the first meeting, several had suggestions, which ran the gamut from raising taxes to saving energy.
Donald G. Kane, a West Vincent Township resident and retired Air Force colonel, wondered if the county could partner with the Veterans’ Administration to enhance revenue through some services. He also urged the commissioners to explore environmental options such as geo-wells – and government grants to fund them. “People like Andy Dinniman can go get you some money,” he said.
In her brief summation at the end of the meeting, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone joined her colleagues in thanking the audience for its participation. “I encourage you to continue to come to meetings,” she said. “I certainly understand the value of Pocopson Home in our community.”
Those who are unable to attend the meetings, which are being videotaped, can view them on the county web site, said county spokeswoman Rebecca Brain.
The Pocopson Home, which is located on Route 52 in Pocopson Township, offers care for adults of all ages as well as professional medical, nursing and rehabilitation services. It is certified by both the Medicare and Medicaid programs and also accepts private-paying residents for admission.
Gov. Corbett’s gift resembles a Trojan horse
For many years, the county commissioners have been asking the state for more flexibility in spending state dollars. Counties’ needs vary from one county to another and the commissioners need the authority to direct limited funds to the areas with the most need. Too often we are left with unnecessarily difficult choices when demand for certain services rise beyond projections. Without any flexibility, we can’t shift funds from areas with less demand.
This year, Gov. Tom Corbett has included this new flexibility in his budget proposal – with a catch. He would roll seven different funding streams from the state into one Human Services Development block grant. The problem is that this new block grant would represent a 20 percent cut in the total of those seven line items from the previous budget!
What at first seems like a gracious gift from the governor turns out to resemble the Trojan horse. In Chester County, this gift is estimated to result in a $5 million cut to critical human services, some of which have been cut each year for nearly a decade.
The programs in question cannot absorb these cuts. These programs provide help for people with mental health diagnoses and intellectual disabilities and the families that care for them. They pay for drug and alcohol addiction treatments that keep people out of prison. They provide funding to help the homeless and protect children.
How can we allow a 20 percent cut to funds that help us keep people off the streets and help families who care for intellectually disabled loved ones to keep them out of institutions?
In addition to the block grant, the governor also proposes cuts to reimbursements for seniors in nursing homes and the Medical Assistance Transportation program. It is difficult to fathom how the county will deal with all of these funding cuts if the Legislature does not intervene. My fear is that the Legislature will restore part of the funding but still leave us scrambling to make up for a loss of funds for important programs yet again.
My hope is that we do not see a repeat of last year, where the governor and Legislature touted their ability to avoid state income or sales tax increases, while they cut funding for local schools and county programs, forcing many counties and school districts to raise property taxes instead. Chester County avoided raising taxes last year, but we may not have the ability to do it again without significant cuts to our services.
I urge the governor and our state legislators to fund important county services for our most vulnerable citizens to at least the level of last year’s budget, while keeping the flexibility that a block grant would allow. Chester County can’t afford the current proposal’s cuts, no matter how they’re packaged.
Kathi has earned endorsements this year from a wide variety of groups. Business Leaders, Labor Unions and environmental groups have all thrown their support behind Cozzone, despite the fact that those constituencies disagree on many issues. This illustrates Kathi’s unique ability to bring people together to solve our common problems. In addition, public safety professionals and teachers have also endorsed Cozzone. Highlights of Kathi’s endorsements or recommendations:
· Chester County Fire Chiefs Association
· Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 11
· Chester County Labor Council
· Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry
· The Sierra Club
· Pennsylvania State Education Association
Join Kathi and Sue, our RECEPTION HOSTS, and special guest Dr. Manan Trivedi for an evening of fun, food and refreshments on Thursday, September 22, 2011, from 5:30 to 8:00PM at the Home of Tyler and Tildy Wren.
Dr. Trivedi (pictured with his wife and daughter) is a physician, Iraq War veteran, and is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Sixth Congressional District in 2012. Learn more about Dr. Trivedi on Wikipedia
RECEPTION HOSTS: Mark Banfield, John Hunt, Rob & Chris McNeil, Bob Roggio, Cathie Whitlock, Dan Wofford, Tyler & Tildy Wren and State Senator Andy Dinniman
Posted in Campaign Events