Part One of Two
Like every year, 2017 had it’s highs and lows, it’s share of happiness and sorrow, and sterling examples of the best and worst of humanity.
The year began with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. The election of the New York businessman was unexpected as former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was predicted to win in a landslide.
The first year of Trump’s presidency was overshadowed by a continuing investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as well as the persistent, and sometimes violent, #resist movement. In addition to other achievements, the final month of Trump’s first year in office did bring a major piece of legislation in the form of tax reform; the first of its kind in more than 30 years.
Other major stories included sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood celebrities, politicians, and others, prompting the #metoo movement; ongoing tensions with a nuclear weaponized North Korea; and declining attendance and television audience for NFL football games in protest of some of the players kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.
Gun violence captured headlines locally and nationally almost daily but massacres at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas that resulted in the deaths of 59 people and injury of more than 500, and the shooting at a Texas church which resulted in 29 deaths and 19 injuries were the worst.
Terrorist attacks continued in England, Spain, New York City and other places around the world; the opioid crisis that has devastated Delaware County turned out to be a national deadly phenomenon linked to big pharmaceutical companies.
Natural wonders like devastating hurricanes in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas; and hundreds of thousands of acres of forest fires throughout California that claimed an estimated $1 billion in property loss, gripped our attention along with a total solar eclipse.
Other issues included the removal of historical statues around the nation based on racial insensitivity and a Women’s March on Washington.
2017 will also be remembered as a year where we lost a number of celebrities and sports and political figures.
They include entertainers: David Cassidy, Tom Petty, High Hefner, Harry Dean Stanton,
Glen Campbell, Jerry Lewis, Adam West, Roger Moore, Chris Cornell, Rose Marie, Jonathan Demme, Erin Moran, Don Rickles, Judge Joseph Wapner, Bill Paxton, Al Jarreau, Richard Hatch, “Professor” Irwin Corey, John Hurt, Barbara Hale, Mike Conners, Mary Tyler Moore, Robert Guilllaume, Fats Domino, Robert Knight, Jim Nabors, Della Reese, Chuck Barris, Gregg Allman, Joni Sledge, Cuba Gooding Sr., Malcolm Young, Mobb Deep, Heather Menzies, Mel Tillis, Liz Smith, Charles Manson, Lil Peep, Ralphie May, John Heard, Joseph Bologna, Sam Shepherd, Barbara Sinatra, Chester Bennington, Martin Landau, Dick Gregory, Powers Booth and Chuck Berry.
The sports world lost: Jake LaMotta, Dallas Green, Dick Engberg, Roy Halladay, Jana Novotna, Johnny Bower, Terry Glenn, Connie Hawkins, Rollie Massamino, Don Baylor, Darren Daulton, Ara Parseghian, Anthony Young, Frank DeFord, Jim Bunning, Aaron Hernandez, Dan Rooney, Fab Melo, Yordano Ventura, and others.
And, in politics: Sen. Pete Domenici, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The sudden contract rescission of Southeast Delco Superintendent Dr. Stephen Butz by the school board in a 7-2 vote in November, brought dozens of residents, former and current teachers, and students out to multiple board meetings to voice their opposition. The action also prompted the resignation of board member Don Young, who voted in favor of keeping Butz.
Chichester High School senior Melanie Dempsey was given a framed certificate by school board President Ruth Ann Baiocco for having an essay published in the Johns Hopkins magazine, “IMAGINE. “
Ridley School Board President Michael Capozzoli was honored by the PA School Boards Association for 40 years of service as a school director. Plaques were also presented to board members Stephen Ferzetti and Andrew Hamilton for 12 and 20 years of service, respectively.
Delaware County Community College celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special day filled with activities, campus tours, music, games and refreshments. It also saw the installation of a historic new president. Dr. L. Joy Gates Black is the school’s first female and first African-American president.
Neumann University welcomed its sixth new president, Chris Domes.
More than 400 Penn State Brandywine students celebrated the school’s golden anniversary by volunteering more than 750 hours of community service.
The Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation was given a $5,000 grant from Bernie McHugh, director of Operations at Waste Management, and County Council President Mario Civera.
Dr. Juan Baughn was named superintendent of the Chester Upland School District after serving as interim superintendent. Baughn was selected because of his “deep ties to the community.”
Hundreds of families celebrated the grand opening of the Chester Charter
School for the Arts (CCSA), a $25 million, 90,000-square-foot facility at 1500 Highland Ave. The non-profit K-12 public charter school features a diverse, arts based curriculum.
In May, the Chester Water Authority rejected a $250 million unsolicited offer from Aqua America. The rejection was supported by most of the 19 municipalities served by the CWA, as well as by employees and residents.
Brookhaven bid farewell to longtime Council members John Wilwert, Jr. and Ben Linowski. Both men were recognized for their years of service to the community.
Democrat Jerry Sanders was elected the first African-American sheriff of Delaware County. He was joined in victory by Democrats Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden, who won seats on County Council, ending a four decade Republican stronghold. And Democrat Mary Walk, a Swarthmore Borough councilwoman, was elected register of wills.
Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan, a Republican, won election for a judge seat on Common Pleas Court.
Aldan Council, in October, appointed Councilman Carmen Maniaci borough mayor when Mayor Joseph Blackburn stepped down. Maniaci went on to win election the following month.
Parkside Council recognized longtime Mayor Ardele Gordon, who did not seek re-election. Gordon has served the borough in several capacities for decades.
Chester became the first municipality in Delaware County to officially recognize the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. City offices will be closed.
The Citizen’s Police Academy that got it’s start in Brookhaven, celebrated its 20th anniversary with speakers, awards and a special presentation to its founder, former Brookhaven Police Chief John Eller.
Officer Sean Hannigan, an 18-year member of the Marple Police Department, was promoted to sergeant.
The Broomall Fire Company broke ground for a new fire station at the location of the former Marple Grade School.
PFC Nathaniel Journey was welcomed home after serving nine months in Afghanistan during a coming home party hosted by family and friends at the Trimble Run Condominiums in Brookhaven.
Trainer Borough erected a memorial to its veterans, both living and deceased, at the entrance to Henry Johnson Park.
In Sharon Hill, Robert Ave. was renamed Michael Reagan Way, in honor of the 21 year-old firefighter who lost his life in 2007.
Concord Township welcomed new township Manager Amanda Serock, who succeeds Brenda Lamanna, who retired after serving the township in various capacities for 22 years.
Aston commissioners recognized police Chief Dan Ruggieri for 25 years of service to the township.
Marcus Hook Councilman Joe Flynn organized his seventh annual fishing derby held on Grandparents Day. About 50 children, accompanied by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cast their lines into the waters of the Delaware River. Jayden Cooper was the big winner with a 24-inch catfish.
Upper Chichester Township Manager George Needles outlined plans to increase business along the Rt. 322 corridor. He said township commissioners contracted with the Delaware County Planning Department to develop a revitalization plan which hopefully will increase property values.
The Darby Borough and Collingdale historical societies celebrated the 100th anniversary of the US entering WWI with a “Day of Remembrance.
The construction of the $2.5 billion, 350-mile Sunoco Logistics Mariner East 2 Pipeline was not without controversy. Municipalities held informational forums, meetings and panels that, at times, were highly argumentative.
Chester’s Bethany Baptist Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding in June.
Representatives of the Chester Housing Authority and Fare and Square Market celebrated its collaboration with the Ruth L. Bennett Homes Community Farm, which is supplying the store with fresh produce.
The Aston Township Lioness Club celebrated its 40th anniversary in May.
Members of the Broookhaven Fire Department marked the 15th anniversary of the tragic death of junior firefighter Christopher Kangas.
Rev. Bernice Warren was recognized on her retirement as pastor/executive director of the Chester Eastside Ministries.