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Authentic: Jim Jones
JIM JONES SPENT his early years roaming—living and working across Africa, Europe, and several states in the U.S. He hitchhiked across the Sahara three times. But when he landed here to teach history at West Chester University in 1992, he put down roots.
He settled into a neighborhood just east of the University. After hearing a few old-timers call it Riggtown, he started digging into official records and talking to his new neighbors. He got to know the history of neighborhood and the borough, publishing two books about West Chester’s history and a detailed history of the neighborhood online. The outsider quickly became an insider.
He became active in committees, the library, the Friends of Everhart Park, and the Bicentennial celebration, among others. “If there’s a job to be done, I’ll do it,” he says. He got involved in politics, leading to a run for borough council, where he served from 2008-2011, and started a second term in 2016. Serving on the council means he’s planning for West Chester’s future too—studying and voting on everything from a new business sign to new developments in business and housing.
Jim guesses he’s knocked on every door in the borough at least three times. He’s counted every parking space as part of his duties on the parking committee. Between teaching, study of West Chester’s history, and civic involvement, “I probably know more about the history of West Chester than anyone else,” he says, “although that’s mostly because I’ve outlived everyone who knew more than me.”
He retired from teaching last May, but he has no plan to slow down. More books are in the works, and his current council term runs to 2020. He looks forward to more time for travel, but he’ll always come home to West Chester. “It was always a great place to live, but it keeps growing and getting better.”