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Fresh food center opens downtown, Chester gets first co-op grocery

By JessicaBautista Business owners along the Avenue of the States all agreed that retail traffic is routinely low, but with the grand opening of Chester’s first “community-owned grocery” store over the weekend, many are optimistic that Chester’s Central Business District is one step closer to revitalization and Chester’s Co-op may be the catalyst needed in generating more foot traffic. Chester, recently called a “food desert” in one press account, now has its first community-owned grocery store, providing low-cost, locally-grown produce, vegetables, meat, herbs and many other items carried by big-name supermarkets outside the city. In being community-owned, the market is run by the members who shop there and the shelves are often stocked with items requested by shoppers. Members pay $50 to join, a $200 refundable investment, and agree to work three hours a month. Non-members will be able to shop there for the first two weeks. The market, significantly capitalized with a $150,000 grant from The Reinvestment Fund on the fourth request for funding, the co-op was the brainchild of Tina Johnson, a Chester-resident and community activist who said she realized long ago the market could benefit people on several levels, aside from the demand for access to quality food. “I live in the city and I know unemployment has been a big issue,” Johnson said. Johnson said the co-op idea dates back to 2005 and in...

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Neighborhood design plan unveiled

By LorettaRodgers Spirit staff / The lack of residents attending last Thursday night did not dampen the enthusiasm of Chester’s Planning Department while presenting a new design plan for the Union Square neighborhood. Representatives of CH Planning, Ltd., a Chester-based urban planning and design firm, using large display boards, chronicled the planning process from conception to a final working draft. The plan focuses on the revitalization of West 2nd through 5th streets and recommends improved streetscapes, new commercial opportunities and enhanced access to waterfront amenities. It also addresses blight conditions, including vacant lots and buildings, the lack of community-serving goods and businesses, increased traffic and the demand for parking, resulting from the construction of PPL Park. For more than a year, city planners have worked closely with residents to establish a realistic vision that is implementable, focusing on physical improvements which include the installation of green landscaping, medians, lighting, traffic signals and building renovations and redevelopment. “Please remember that nothing here is set in stone,” said Chester City Planner William Payne. “This is a work-in-progress. We know we can’t do this all at once. The first phase will be taking control of the ground by cleaning the area up and addressing the vacant lots and buildings.” Chester Director of Economic Development James Turner said the plan’s primary focus is to determine, with residential input, what is necessary to...

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Old boss welcomes new Marines at Cocco’s Aston homecoming

By LorettaRodgers Spirit staff / Twins Daniel and Mark Asebedo returned from 13 weeks of basic training at the Marine Corps training Center at Parris Island, South Carolina with a few things in mind. They wanted to visit their family and especially see their former boss, Bruce Bley, and their fellow workers at Cocco’s Pizza in Aston. “They said they really missed our pizza, cheese steaks and mozzarella bacon fries,” laughed Bley. “I know one thing for sure, and that is we really missed them.” The Asebedo brothers live in Brookhaven with their grandmother, Carole Watson, and are 2009 graduates of Sun Valley High School. While at Sun Valley, they were members of the Marine Corps Jr. ROTC program. They worked at Cocco’s before enlisting in the Marines and are happy with the choice they have made. “Boot camp was tough, but we know the U.S. Marine Corps is for us,” said Daniel. “It is an honor to serve this country.” Bley and the staff of Cocco’s Aston collected funds to send Watson to Parris Island to witness her grandsons’ graduation ceremony. She said without the help, she would not have been able to attend. Bley speaks very highly of the newly-minted Marines, calling them, “two of the best employees I ever had. These are just really great kids,” said Bley, “They are responsible, respectful and have an...

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First time pregnant? Relax, some things are okay

ByThomasBader, M.D. OB/GYN chairman at Crozer-Chester Medical Center At one time or another during their pregnancies, nearly all moms-to-be have questions about their pregnancies. Coupled with the hordes of (sometimes conflicting) answers thrown their way, it’s enough to overwhelm even the most well-read woman. Expecting mothers may be leery of certain activities like getting a flu shot, dying their hair, taking a bath or cleaning their house. Here is some advice. Not only can you get a flu shot, but if you’re pregnant at a certain time of year, it’s recommended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that women who will be pregnant during flu season (November through March) get the flu shot, unless they have certain allergies or chronic illnesses. If you get the flu while you’re pregnant, you are at greater risk for certain complications that could put you and your baby at risk, such as pneumonia. The risks of the flu are much, much higher than any risks posed by the flu shot, which is now made from a virus that is not active. While a flu shot is okay, the CDC advises against pregnant women receiving the nasal-spray vaccine, which contains live viruses. In addition, women who are allergic to eggs or who have a rare condition known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome should not receive either form of the vaccination. Getting pregnant doesn’t...

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Honors for the speedy nurses

Crozer-Chester Medical Center nurses Joy Oakey, RN and Gina Lanier, RN were recently honored at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Association Track and Field luncheon.  Oakey (center) won Co-MVP Track and Field Athlete of the Year (female; long and middle distances) and Lanier (right) won an award for Excellence in Track and Field (throws).  Both women have won several national championships in track and field. Kyle Lanier (left), a nationally certified personal trainer at the Chester Senior Center, also picked up an award for Excellence in Track and Field along with his many national titles in middle and long distances.  These athletes are members of the TNT (Today NOT Tomorrow) International Racing Club that is sponsored, in large part, by the Chester Senior Center that helped TNT become the 2010 Outstanding Club of Year, triumphing over 300 track clubs in four states (PA, NJ, DE and MD) for youth and adults. TNT Club President Kyle Lanier said, “If it wasn’t for the encouraging words from our communities we live and work in, TNT International Racing Club wouldn’t have been Number One.” The next big event is the Master’s Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Albuquerque, NM, March...

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