Author: Michel Lee

Community activist jailed for sex charges

By MichelLee Last Friday, according to county court records, longtime community-figure and ousted Yeadon Borough Councilman Terry Allen McGirth, 63, was arrested for inappropriate behavior with a minor; a minor who, anonymous sources familiar with the borough, said is McGirth’s 12 year-old granddaughter. Leslie Lewis-McGirth, Terry’s wife and co-vice chair of the Yeadon Democratic Committee and also founder of the Fresh Start Program Inc., a nonprofit youth organization where Terry also worked, did not respond to calls for comment, but sources said it was Leslie who notified authorities of the incident with the child. Florence “Penny” McDonald, chairperson of the Yeadon Democratic Committee, said Leslie McGirth resigned her position recently but failed to provide an effective date for the resignation as promised. In addition to working at his wife’s organization, McGirth also worked as a borough crossing guard in the days leading up to his arrest. Yeadon Mayor Rohan Hepkins reluctantly addressed the situation when called for comment. “It’s a personal family tragedy and the family needs a little space to bring their lives back together,” he said, continuing, “It’s an arduous situation for all those involved because we have a close-knit community. It’s a difficult time for everybody so we want to rally around the family.” Hepkins said, “There are so many facets to these charges and that’s what makes this so difficult.” Hepkins, also a Baptist minister,...

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Miracle in Sharon Hill: Mystery gift pays off $4.5 million-dollar mortgage loan

By MichelLee mlee@myspiritnews.com @MichelTheSpirit In Sharon Hill, the ministry and congregants at the First African Baptist Church render their morning greetings with a simple exclamation: “Joy!” and a warm, expressive smile to match as they filter about the church during Sunday service. But last week’s Sunday service was especially joyous with the celebration of the church’s 114th anniversary and the buzz surrounding the mysterious payoff of a $4.5 million commercial loan. Nearly 100 congregants, spanning across all generations wearing their Sunday best stylish church attire, were seated throughout the spacious church, in pews on the floor and in the...

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Former Upland mayor demands answers about current controversies

By MichelLee mlee@myspiritnews.com @MichelTheSpirit Last month, at Upland Borough’s Council meeting, Council President Christine Peterson gave a tearful response to the surge of recent reports on the controversies surrounding the borough. The Valentine’s Day meeting went smoothly, with Paul Michalkiewicz being sworn-in as an Upland fire police officer, followed by the usual order of business. It wasn’t until the final public comment portion that the Council meeting became tense with longtime resident and former Mayor Jesse Richardson questioning Council on the string of events that have made recent headlines. At the podium before Council, Richardson went through a folder that held a compilation of newspaper articles reporting on recent happenings in the borough; many of the clippings were from The Spirit. Using the clipped articles as reference, Richardson asked, “Who authorized payment?” for the police evaluation report conducted in 2015 by Capt. Gregory A. Warren, Ed.D, and the Strategic Management Research Center, LLC (SMRC). The former mayor also inquired about the report being withheld from the public. “Yes, the borough paid for it,” current Upland Mayor Michael Ciach said, adding that the evaluation cost roughly $6,000. “A Right-to-Know request was denied and very few people have it. That report has sensitive personnel information and should not have been released.” In the 2015 evaluation, among the areas of improvement recommended in the Upland Borough Police Department, Warren wrote that Peterson’s...

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Broke city spends big money on mayor’s office

Chester remains a financially-struggling city that recently raised wage taxes on residents who are employed. But a snapshot review of city expenditures dated Feb. 5, 2016, shows the city spent more than $20,000 renovating Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland’s office just weeks after he assumed the job. The city remains under Act 47, the state’s program for financially-distressed municipalities, and its May 2016 Financial Recovery Plan shows its cumulative deficit for this year is projected to be $20,364,991. City employees recently lost their Independence Blue Cross health insurance because the city owes the region’s largest healthcare insurer a reported $7 million...

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Combat vehicle sits idle in Upland warehouse

The parking lot at the James W. Reese Center in Upland Borough has served as a storage post for  a five-ton M900 series military truck for over a year, but how the vehicle arrived there remains a mystery to some Uplanders. Sources close to borough government, who wished to remain anonymous, said they are still unsure how the truck arrived there, suspecting Joe Bail, who was Chester’s police commissioner at the time, left it there. The same sources also said they “blocked-in the truck” with a civilian car as a precautionary measure to ensure the vehicle isn’t started-up and...

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