Fair Districts PA seeks support from Pocopson to stop gerrymandering

Historical Committee announces a new virtual tour mobile app

By Karen Cresta, Staff Writer, The Times

POCOPSON – The bulk of Monday night’s township meeting was spent on presentations. The first of two presentations from Fair Districts PA sought support from Supervisors Elaine DiMonte and Ricki Stumpo. (Alice Balsama was not present). The second included a new mobile application providing historical virtual tours presented by the Historical Committee.

Volunteer and resident Eric Newman illustrated how gerrymandering – a term used to describe manipulating voting district boundaries to benefit political parties – affects Pocopson Township. He provided a history and maps during the presentation showing district changes for the township throughout the years.

“Maps are drawn to dilute the votes of one party. Presumably, the party in charge can dilute the votes of the other party,” Newman said.

Newman explained that after each census is conducted every ten years, the districts are redrawn to about the same size and at the national level. Pennsylvania could lose one, or two, congressional seats after the 2020 census.

“Right now, the state government creates the new districts. We want to take it away from the politicians,” Newman added.

Amy Baram, also a volunteer and resident, mentioned that recent support for reform was given by State Rep Steve Samuelson, D-135, and Rep. Eric Roe, R-158. They introduced a joint resolution – House Bill 722 – to establish an Independent Commission in Pennsylvania. A companion bill has also been introduced in the state Senate.

Newman and Baram requested support of the commission and supervisors will vote on a resolution during the May 15 township meeting.

The second presentation of the evening was given by the Historical Committee’s Chair, Don McKay. A status of the on-going renovations to the Locust Grove Schoolhouse was provided. Some renovations include adding cloak rooms indicative of the schoolhouse’s original floor plan, finishing the wood flooring, painting, refurbishing the walkway and purchasing an historical marker. The grand opening to the public is expected for Summer 2018. More information can be found at www.locustschoolhouse.org.

McKay shared plans of a town tour and village walk to commemorate the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Brandywine to be held on June 29, at Trimbleville in West Bradford Township.

The committee informed the board of their efforts for information sharing to the public that includes the Pocopson Township/Chester County Facebook page, the Nextdoor community message board, and a new free mobile application named Pocket Sights. The application focuses on exploring the 18th and 19th century history of the historical Locust Grove area in the township.

Sarah Mims who helped with the content for the cyber walking tour application provided a sample tour. Historical information of the Barnard House was automated and read aloud from her mobile phone’s voice device. The Pocket Sights application can be downloaded on the Apple Store or Google Play. The tours can be completed virtually or during an actual walking tour.

Supervisor Stumpo concluded the presentation by saying, “The supervisors can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done.”

Tom Bierl of the Parks, Recreation and Trails Committee (PRT) provided an update of the Overlook Circle Development’s Phase I of a proposed trail. He focused on the impact the trail may have on the current budget since it obligates the township to support the significant trail with a proposed bridge over the Brandywine Creek. The builder set aside funds and $31,000 was transferred to the township but additional grants for the bridge may need to be obtained according to Bierl.

The next meeting will be held on May 15, at 7:30p.m. This will be the only meeting in May due to the Memorial Day holiday. Visit www.pocopson.org for additional township information.

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