Archive for category Bethlehem

‘Clip Clops’ holiday chocolates created to benefit Bethlehem Mounted Unit police horses

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

A special holiday chocolate box has been created to benefit the Bethlehem Mounted Unit, which relies mostly on community donations for its operations.

bethlehem mounted unitView full sizeTwo of the Bethlehem Mounted Unit officers on patrol near City Hall. 

Even Bethlehem’s police horses are catching the Christmas City spirit.

A special holiday chocolate box has been created to benefit the Bethlehem Mounted Unit, which relies mostly on community donations for its operations.

The chocolate-covered pecan-and-caramel treats are called Clip Clops and feature a photograph of the city’s original mounted unit from the early 1900s.

The new chocolate debuted in late November and the $10 boxes will be on sale at least through Christmas, said Jason Holschwander, one of the mounted officers. If the sale is successful, the Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Unit plans to turn the chocolates into an annual holiday collector item with a new photo each year, said Shelley Brown, a board member.

Brown dreamed up the idea of the chocolates because she’s friends with fellow Center City Bethlehem resident Rocco Damato, who owns Bazzini, a confection and nut company in Allentown.

“I was thinking of what could be fun to do – like Girl Scout cookies, where each year it could be a fundraiser,” said Brown, who also is president and CEO of the State Theatre in Easton.

Bazzini this year also created a special Christmas candy tin for the Hotel Bethlehem. Those tins feature a painting of a snow-covered Main Street, are filled with peppermint bark and sell for $16.95.

The Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Unit started in May 2013 to help raise money for the city’s police horses, which were re-launched in 2009 after at least a 65-year hiatus. The city fully funded the unit for three years until 2012, when a major sponsorship effort was launched.

Bethlehem currently contributes $6,000 annually to the unit, but the friends group has to raise another $15,000 to $20,000 every year for costs including veterinary care, training and equipment, said Tom Tenges, president of the Friends of the Bethlehem Mounted Unit board of directors.

The group has been successful in obtaining three $3,000 annual sponsors for the three horses – George, Pharoah and Raven – but has to come up with other efforts such as the chocolates for the additional funds, Tenges said.

“Our primary goal is to make enough money each year to meet the budget needs for the unit,” said Tenges, a retired executive director of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges.

The mounted unit also has logo shirts, hats and mugs it sells online and at events including Celtic Classic and Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites’ Blueberry Festival.

To help boost the sales of both the apparel and chocolate, a friends’ group board member, Herman Rij, has offered the use of a storefront he owns at 515 N. New St. The store will be open for sales 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 21, Holschwander said.

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem pursuing federal funds for wireless upgrades

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The board discussed the E-Rate application process Monday night.

The Bethlehem Area School Board is moving forward with plans to seek federal funding for $2 million of needed Wi-fi upgrades.

The federal E-Rate program has gotten infused with more money but it has meant a delay in the issuing of applications, said Rick Wilson, the district’s interim chief information officer.

The federal government taxes landlines and cell phones and then distributes the money to schools and libraries to use for technology improvements.

Applications became available at the end of November. Bethlehem is hopeful that much of the estimated $2 million in needed wireless infrastructure upgrades will be covered by E-Rate dollars. The program this year has a focus on wireless technology, Wilson said.

The district plans to go forward with seeking bids for the work and hopes to award them by the end of January, Wilson said. He hopes this quick timeline will get the district’s application in for review ahead of other districts. Bethlehem should learn if its been awarded money by May, he said.

If Bethlehem waits until February, Wilson fears the district won’t get any news on its application until August, losing the chance to complete work over the summer.

Superintendent Joseph Roy explained any bid awards will be contingent on Bethlehem Area obtaining the E-Rate funding.

District officials are coming up with an alternative funding plan just in case Bethlehem is not awarded E-Rate money, Roy said.

Bethlehem lacks enough wireless access points — similar to wireless routers — for multiple classrooms to get online.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem Aea School Board re-elects president, vice president

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The board held its annual reorganization meeting Monday night.

The Bethlehem Area School Board re-elected its president and vice-president to another term Monday night.

The board held its annual reorganization meeting ahead of its monthly committee meetings.

President Michael Faccinetto and Vice President Shannon L. Patrick were each tapped to continue in their positions for another year.

Faccinetto was first named president in December of 2011.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Victims in South Side Bethlehem gunbattle sue convicted shooter, co-defendant

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Angel Figueroa, Orialis Figueroa and Luis Rivera have filed a premises liability lawsuit against the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society, Rene Figueroa and Javier Rivera-Alvarado, according to court documents.

Three men wounded in the deadly South Side Bethlehem gunbattle have filed a lawsuit against a convicted killer, his former co-defendant and the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society.

Nearly two years after being shot on the 200 block of East Third Street, Angel FigueroaOrialis Figueroa and Luis Rivera filed a lawsuit in Northampton County Court against Rene Figueroa, Javier Rivera-Alvarado, the social club and two unknown men. Plaintiffs generally have a two-year window to file a lawsuit, and Monday’s paperwork only included a notice of intent to sue.

A call seeking comment to attorney Phil Lauer, who represents Rivera and brothers Angel and Orialis Figueroa, was not returned Monday afternoon. The case was marked as a premises liability lawsuit on court documents.

After a month-long trial in October, a Northampton County jury convicted Rene Figueroa of aggravated assault against Angel Figueroa and the involuntary manslaughter of Yolanda Morales. Prosecutors alleged Rene Figueroa and Rivera-Alvarado ambushed Orialis Figueroa following a confrontation inside the club Dec. 2, 2012.

Angel Figueroa testified Rene Figueroa shot him in the back and paralyzed him from the waste down. Orialis Figueroa testified he was wounded in the legs after exchanging gunfire with Rivera-Alvarado and Rene Figueroa. Rivera testified he was drunk and only remembered being shot in the knee, but First Assistant District Attorney Terry Houck suggested Rivera-Alvarado shot him.

The jury, however, cleared Rivera-Alvarado of all charges and found Rene Figeuroa not guilty of the most serious charges, including attempted homicide and murder. Defense attorneys for the two men argued at trial Orialis Figueroa and his family attacked Rivera-Alvarado in a case of mistaken identity and that Rene Figueroa fired his gun to defend his friend.

Rene Figueroa is in Northampton County Prison awaiting sentencing on his convictions and faces additional charges in connection with a murder-for-hire plot. Federal and local prosecutors claim Rene Figueroa and his wife Sonia Panell tried to kill witnesses, including Angel and Orialis Figueroa.

Rivera-Alvarado did not have a listed phone number and could not be immediately reached for comment. It is unclear if he has a civil attorney. He was released from prison following the not guilty verdicts.

A call to the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society was not answered. The two unknown men had the club listed as their address.

Bethlehem attempted homicide suspect must be allowed to confront witnesses, defense argues

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Nicholas Bossons has a right to confront two witnesses who told police they saw him covered in blood, defense attorney Tony Rybak argued.

An attempted homicide trial full of allegedly overwhelming evidence against a 24-year-old Bethlehem man hit a roadblock in Northampton County Court Monday afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Kulick said in her opening argument Nicholas Bossons robbed and nearly killed Jeffrey Jamos at his East Morton Street apartment Jan. 11. In the next few days of trial, she’ll present eyewitness testimony, DNA evidence and a confession to prove it, she said. Police were also prepared to testify Bossons assaulted a Bethlehem police officer and admitted to escaping from Northampton County Prison, she said.

“Justice will demand one possible verdict, and that is a verdict of guilty,” Kulick said.

But Judge Michael Koury said he would need to review case law to determine if Kulick will be allowed to question Officer David Horvath about how he linked Jamos’ brush with death to a domestic call just a few blocks away.

Horvath testified he responded to a 911 call and found Jamos lying on his bloodstained concrete steps crying out for help. A man named Chad whom he’d met at Good Times Bar & Grill that night had stabbed him inside the house, Horvath testified. There was no sign of the attacker inside, Horvath said, but police photographs showed a trail of blood from the living room out Jamos’ front door.

Soon after, another call came in and Horvath responded to East Fourth Street, he said. Officers there were taking Bossons into custody, but he kicked at an officer and the inside of a squad car, Horvath said. Horvath then went to Bossons’ apartment to speak with his girlfriend and her teenage daughter, but he found blood running down the side of the door, he testified.

At this point, defense attorney Tony Rybak objected. Horvath was prepared to testify the mother and daughter saw Bossons covered in blood, Kulick said, but Rybak argued that would violate his client’s Constitutional rights. The two witnesses needed to take the stand so the defense could confront them about what they saw that night, he argued. Kulick said she hadn’t planned to call either to the stand.

Koury did not rule on the matter but appeared ready to side with Rybak. If convicted of all charges, Bossons would likely remain in prison for the rest of his life, Koury said. Unless the defense could discredit their testimony, it would likely shore up any doubts among the jury. Bossons had a right to confront them, he said.

“They are the only two witnesses who saw (Bossons) with bloody hands,” Koury said. “They would serve to be crucial witnesses.”

Kulick argued Horvath used the information from Bosson’s girlfriend and her daughter to link the two cases. Her intent was not to prove Bossons was seen nearby covered in blood but why police focused on the defendant in Jamos’ case.

Prosecutors said Bossons stabbed Jamos in the shoulder and leg and beat him with a metal detector inside Jamos’ home. The knife wound to his leg severed his femoral artery, and Jamos nearly bled to death, police said. Before leaving, Bossons stole a video game console from Jamos, police said.

Rybak claimed in his opening arguments that Jamos was drunk and high during his attack. While there is no question that Jamos suffered serious injuries, jurors should not take his testimony at face value, he said.

“I’m not certain what Mr. Jamos is going to say when he gets up there (on the stand), but I’m fairly certain it won’t be the truth,” Rybak said.

Bossons pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Jamos earlier this year but revoked his plea at the last minute, saying he did not rob Jamos. Police claim they found the stolen goods in a bloody pillow case inside Bossons’ apartment.

Bossons is charged with attempted homicide, recklessly endangering another person, robbery, possession of the instrument of a crime and four counts of aggravated assault.

Bethlehem man’s death in Whitehall Township crash ruled an accident

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Luis R. Navarro-Natal, of the 300 block of Monroe Street, died Sunday at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township.

A 49-year-old Bethlehem man’s death following a car crash early Sunday in Whitehall Township has been ruled an accident, Lehigh County coroner said.

Luis R. Navarro-Natal, of the 300 block of Monroe Street, died Sunday at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said Navarro-Natal died from multiple blunt force injuries and ruled the death an accident.

Navarro-Natal was involved in a crash shortly after 2 a.m. at MacArthur Road and Schadt Avenue in Whitehall Township, and was pronounced dead at 2:55 a.m.

Grim said Navarro-Natal and another individual were both thrown from the vehicle following a collision with another vehicle.

Whitehall Township police have not returned messages seeking details of the crash. The department and the coroner’s office are investigating the crash.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Bethlehem couple face ethnic intimidation charges for threatening white women, police say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Michael Layton is accused of aiming an airgun at one of the victim's heads.

Handcuffs.jpgView full sizeA Bethlehem couple is accused of threatening two women during an altercation Sunday night in Macungie. 

Bethlehem couple face ethnic intimidation and related charges after threatening two women and calling them “white (expletives)” during a confrontation Sunday night in Macungie, borough police said.

Michael David Layton is also accused of loading an airgun and aiming it at one of the victim’s heads, police said.

Layton, who is black, is being held in Lehigh County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail and and his wife, Alexandra Carter, is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail after being arraigned Monday morning. Both live in the 1700 block of Barrett Drive, according to court records.

Ethnic intimidation is when a person is accused of committing a crime while acting with malicious intent toward the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation or mental or physical disability, according to the state law.

Macungie police said they were called to an apartment in the first block of Lehigh Street for a report of a man pointing a gun.

Lauren Kerchner was hysterical when officers arrived, police said, and told officers she got into an argument with a man who brandished a gun and pointed it at her. Kerchner said the man, later identified as Layton, left in a Cadillac, followed by his wife driving a black Jetta; police stopped both cars in the 3400 block of Brookside Road.

Layton repeatedly told police “It was a cellphone, not a gun,” police said. Officers found an empty package for a Colt commander CO2 BB gun under a spare tire in the trunk, and then found the BB gun in the glove box, police said.

Police said Layton and Carter were visiting a friend, Kristina Velasco, in the apartment building and Velasco got into an argument with an upstairs neighbor over noise.

Kerchner, who was not involved in the altercation, came outside to smoke and saw a black Jetta parked close to her vehicle, police said. Kerchner walked over to inspect the car when Layton came outside, began yelling and asked Kerchner if she had a problem with his wife’s car, police said.

Kerchner began walking to her apartment when Carter came outside, began yelling and said “I’m gonna beat your (expletive) you white (expletive),” police said. Carter then swung at Kerchner several times while screaming, “You white (expletive),” police said.

Layton held his wife back and pulled her away from Kerchner when the upstairs neighbor and a friend heard the commotion and came outside, police said.

Layton confronted the friend, Sarah Schmeltze, threatening to beat her “white (expletive) (expletive),” and then chest bumping her twice, police said.

Layton then looked at Kerchner, said “I’ve got something special” for you, walked around the building and came back with what looked like a handgun, police said. Layton racked the slide and pointed it at Kerchner’s head; Kerchner’s 2-year-old son was standing in the doorway and witnessed the event, police said.

Layton, 21, and Carter, 22, are each charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy, ethnic intimidation, making terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and harassment. Layton is also charged with possession of an instrument of a crime and driving with a suspended license.

Carter is also charged with public drunkeness and police said a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol is awaiting the results of a blood test.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Retired federal judge Arnold C. Rapoport of Allentown dies

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The former judge died Saturday in Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, according to his obituary.

Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold C. Rapoport died Saturday, according to his obituary posted on the Elias Funeral Home website.

According to the obituary:

Rapoport, 83, died at Kirkland Village in Bethlehem. He was born in Allentown, graduated from Muhlenberg College and Temple University Law School. He retired his federal judgeship in 2006. He was a longtime member of Congregation Keneseth Israel, Allentown.

The judge was an avid collector of antique cars, one of the original Das Awkscht Fescht organizing committee members and a founding board member of the America on Wheels Museum.

He’s survived by a son, Jed Rapoport of Macungie; a daughter, Dana Rapoport of Chandler, Arizona; and a longtime companion, Marcia Cohen. He was predeceased by his wife, Sheva, in 2002.

Services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday in the synagogue, 2227 Chew Street, Allentown, followed by interment at K.I. Cemetery, South Whitehall Township.

Arrangements are by the Nicos C. Elias Funeral Home in Allentown.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the America on Wheels Museum, 5 N. Front St., Allentown, Pa. 18102 or to the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, 6825-31 Norwitch Dr., Philadelphia, Pa. 19153.

German Weihnachtsmarkt attracts shoppers in Bethlehem: PHOTOS

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The market is on Main Street in Bethlehem.

Shoppers came to Main Street in Bethlehem on Sunday during the second weekend of the city’s German Weihnachtsmarkt.

The shopping area includes 35 wooden huts filled with Christmas gifts. You can eat bratwurst with sauerkraut and warm up with hot mulled wine from Germany, according to the Downtown Bethlehem Association.

A portion of the village is at 556 Main Street at the Sun Inn Courtyard and Patio and another portion is at the south end of Main Street, between the Hotel Bethlehem and the Moravian Book Shop.

If you missed it this weekend, it’s open Dec. 5,6,7;12,13,14;19, 20, 21, 22 and 23.

The market is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Bethlehem man, 49, dies following Whitehall Township car accident

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Luis R. Navarro-Natal, of Bethlehem, died following an accident at MacArthur Road and Schadt Avenue in Whitehall Township, authorities said.

A 49-year-old Bethlehem man has died following injuries from an auto accident early Sunday in Whitehall Township, according to the Lehigh County coroner.

Luis R. Navarro-Natal, of the 300 block of Monroe Street, died Sunday at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Salisbury Township, said Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim.

Navarro-Natal was involved in a crash shortly after 2 a.m. at MacArthur Road and Schadt Avenue in Whitehall Township, according to Grim.

Grim said Navarro-Natal and another individual were both thrown from the vehicle following a collision with another vehicle. But it’s unclear who was the driver and who was the passenger, Grim said.

An autopsy is scheduled Monday to determine the exact cause of death.

Whitehall Township police and the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office continue to investigate the crash. Police did not immediately return a call seeking additional details on the crash.

Attempts to reach the family of Navarro-Natal also were unsuccessful.