By Jake Speicher, West Chester Patch, 12/5/11
Councilman Jim Jones will step down from West Chester Borough Council at the end of December.
You’ve probably met Jim Jones. He’s a familiar presence around town. He wears glasses, taller than you’d expect. The man knows everything.
“I’ve knocked on every door in the borough at least three times,” Jones said. “I don’t think there’s a door I haven’t touched.”
One round of knocking came when he ran for mayor. The next round came when Jones took it upon himself to hand count every parking spot in the borough.
He has a mantra: “No one else will do it. I’ll do it.”
It continues: “Somebody’s got to clean the toilet.”
At the end of December, Jones will step down from borough council, and he plans on slowing down.
After he came to West Chester in the fall of 1992 to work at the university no one saw him for the first two years he was here.
“I was getting the handle on a new job,” said Jones, who besides everything else is also a professor of history at West Chester University. “But then I got that all squared away, and I wanted to see what was up with my neighbors.”
That simple “what’s up” quickly spiraled into committee appointments, board nominations and elected offices. In 14 years, Jones has served his neighborhood association, the library board, the planning commission, the zoning hearing board and most recently borough council.
“I’ve always been someone who gets involved,” Jones said. “There’s a job that needed to be done. I did it, and I learned a lot of stuff.”
Dr. Jones is in the knowledge business, both gaining it and dispensing it. He speaks German and French fluently, and at one time he could also speak two native African languages.
“I’m most proud of my education,” Jones said. “Not just all the stuff I’ve learned, but also the way I learned it.”
Jones’ non-government resume reads like something out of some epic American novel.
He was a migrant worker in Europe while he was trying to hitchhike across the world. He was also a bus driver, a motorcycle mechanic, and he also spent time in the Peace Corps in rural villages in Swaziland in Africa.
“My rule of thumb for any job is that I had to do it for two years,” Jones said. “There were a lot of jobs where that last year was really hard to get through.”
Jones has served on borough council for four years, a kind of capstone to everything else he’s done for the borough.
“My first West Chester experience was I went down to this old-timey Woolworth’s where Iron Hill is now to have coffee with a guy whose apartment I wanted to rent. That’s been the biggest change, the whole revitalization. West Chester’s always been a nice place to live, but now it’s become really desirable.”