Archive for category Bethlehem

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School holding parent meeting

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The school is updating the parents of seventh- and eighth-grade students, who are now on a modified schedule.

Lehigh Valley Dual Language Charter School is holding a meeting for seventh- and eighth-grade parents Wednesday night to update them on school plans now that its expansion dispute won’t be resolved by month’s end.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of the school at 551 Thomas Street in Bethlehem.

The kindergarten-through-eighth-grade charter school wants to open a second middle school building in the former Seton Academy in West Bethlehem.

But its chartering district – Bethlehem Area -- has blocked its efforts saying state law only allows Philadelphia charter schools to operate multiple locations.

Meanwhile, the school has run out of room in its South Side Bethlehem building so seventh- and eighth-graders are on a modified schedule. They arrive by bus between 3 p.m. and 3:15 and eat in the cafeteria before attending class from 3:30 until 6:30.

When charter officials notified parents earlier this summer, they promised it would be temporary. They expected the state Charter Appeals Board to rehear the case by the end of September.

But the school was left off the September agenda as its legal battles continue to play out in the courts system. Bethlehem rejected the expansion bid in August of 2013 and the appeals board sided with the district, but the decision was overturned by a three-judge Commonwealth Court panel.

The school district’s appeal to re-argue its case before the full panel of all 11 Commonwealth Court judges was rejected last week. Bethlehem is considering appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Charter school Principal Lisa Pluchinsky said she doesn’t expect the appeal board to rehear their case until the legal issues are resolved. The school continues to ask Bethlehem Area to do what is best for the education of the students and approve the new building, said Brian Leinhauser, charter school attorney.

The charter school expected for the state Charter Appeals Board to rehear its case by the end of the month, where the school’s officials hoped to win approval. Meanwhile, the school has been urging Bethlehem to sign off on its second location.

The school district has scheduled a Sept. 29 hearing on the matter but then must allow for 20 days of public comment. Superintendent Joseph Roy has said that means the earliest the school board would vote is Nov. 17.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem raid nabs nearly $7,000 worth of heroin and cocaine, police say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Joel Fantauzzi tried to flush evidence down the toilet Friday morning as police raided a home on Dover Lane.

Bethlehem police say they caught a 32-year-old man with nearly $7,000 worth of cocaine and heroin Friday morning as he tried to flush evidence down the toilet.

As part of an ongoing investigation into drug dealing in the Marvine-Pembroke public housing complex, police served a search warrant at 1138 Dover Lane 7 o’clock Friday, according to a news release.

When police arrived, they found Joel Fantauzzi, 32, in the home’s bathroom trying to flush drugs, according to the release. A search of the home uncovered 93 packets of heroin, 60 grams of cocaine, 28 grams of marijuana, a scale, packaging material for controlled substances, and more than $500, according to the release.

The cocaine had a street market value of $6,000, and the heroin was valued at $930, according to police.

Fantauzzi was arraigned before District Judge Patricia Romig-Passaro and sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $100,000 bail. He is charged with tampering with evidence, criminal use of a communication facility, resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia,  and three counts each of possession with the intent to deliver and possession of a controlled substance.

Police said the raid was the result of citizen cooperation with a police investigation. Resident can report information regarding criminal activity by calling the Bethlehem Police Department Tip Line at 610-691-6660.

Lehigh University hosting Trayvon Martin’s mother for local talk on minority youth criminalization

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The program is called 'America's Most Wanted: Hip-hop, the Media & the Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth.'

Trayvon Martin’s mother will be part of a panel discussion on the criminalization of minority youth at Lehigh University on Tuesday.

Lehigh’s MLK Committee last year expanded its scope to offer programming year-round instead of just around Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. The committee worked for more than a year to bring the panel including Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton to Bethlehem, committee co-chairman Tyrone Russell said.

The program, called “America’s Most Wanted: Hip-hop, the Media & the Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth,” also is very well timed with the recent police killing of 17-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, said James Peterson, another MLK committee member and Lehigh’s director of Africana Studies.

Many were clamoring for the university to hold an event to address the situation in Ferguson, and Tuesday’s panel discussion will well answer those calls, Peterson said.

In addition to Fulton, the panel includes NAACP National Director of Criminal Justice Niaz Kazravi, Global Grind editor-in-chief Michael Skolnik and Carlito Rodriguez, producer of the BET documentary “50 Shots on Police Brutality and Sean Bell.”

Hosting such panel discussions year-round allows Lehigh to produce timely programs on current issues, Peterson said.

“Seeing all the stuff happening in Ferguson, as well as the Trayvon Martin incident last year … we often feel those issues don’t affect this area,” said Russell, director of Lehigh’s Office of Multicultural Affairs. “We thought it was perfect to bring Trayvon Martin’s mother to this area.”

Martin, a black 17-year-old, was fatally shot in Florida in February 2012 by a volunteer neighborhood watch coordinator.

Peterson said he hopes Fulton on Tuesday will share the letter she sent to Brown’s mother.

Lehigh’s MLK Committee began increasing its programming before a university residence hall dedicated to campus diversity was vandalized last year, but both Peterson and Russell said the incident makes the committee’s programming even more relevant.

“Some of the things that happened on campus last year gave people a reality check that these things do happen on our campus,” Russell said. “These things happen nationally and these things happen locally and they’re conversations we have to have at all levels.”

Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee said while it’s nice that Lehigh has the money to bring national speakers to the city, she said she believes the university should be doing more to support its minority students.

“I think it helps their image,” said Lee, who serves a Lehigh community committee on diversity. “They discuss it, but we need to put some feet into action. I see a lot scripted with Lehigh on relations with their students.”

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The program, “America’s Most Wanted: Hip-hop, the Media & the Criminalization of Black and Brown Youth,” is free and open to the public. It starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Lehigh University’s Baker Hall at Zoellner Arts Center at 420 E. Packer Ave. in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem man accused of growing, packaging marijuana for sale in city home

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Police say they deduced from other items in the home that the 51-year-old suspect was packaging and selling the drugs.

marijuana plantView full sizePolice say a Bethlehem man had five marijuana plants growing in plastic buckets inside his Woodlawn Avenue home.

Bethlehem police say a city man was distributing marijuana using five pot plants he was growing at his property.

Police served a search warrant Wednesday at a home in the 500 block of Woodlawn Avenue, court papers say. Investigators say they found five marijuana plants growing in blue plastic buckets, a bag with loose marijuana, a digital scale, a metal grinder and a box of plastic sandwich bags.

Police say they determined through mail and documents in the home that John Stephen Wuest, 51, lives there. Authorities say the evidence collected at the home led them to believe Wuest was growing, packaging and distributing the drug.

Wuest was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Patricia Romig-Passaro on charges of possession with the intent to deliver marijuana and possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia. He was released after a third party posted 10 percent of his $2,500 bail.

Northampton County judge refuses to lessen sentence for Bethlehem Y embezzler

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

President Judge Stephen Baratta said he gets angry just thinking about how Theresa Leguillow Flores stole money intended to help people living on the fringe of society.

A Northampton County judge refused to back down from the eight-year maximum prison sentence given to an Allentown woman who embezzled from the Bethlehem YMCA.

President Judge Stephen Baratta said Theresa Leguillow Flores preyed upon the destitute. Just thinking about how she stole $94,289 made him angry, the judge said.

“The whole thing, it was cruel. What she did to those people was cruel,” Baratta said in court today as he stood by his state prison sentence ranging from two years and eight months to eight years.

Defense attorney Dwight Danser asked Baratta to reconsider the punishment. Flores had never been convicted of a crime before, and she was a nonviolent offender, he said. Baratta’s sentence was outside the standard range recommended by the state, he said.

“I am asking you to reconsider,” he said.

Baratta refused to budge, however, saying Flores’ crimes merited a harsher sentence. Flores acted as the housing manager at the Bethlehem Y, where she was tasked with tracking tenants’ payments and helping them access social services. Instead of helping people living on the fringe of society, she stole from them and the institutions dedicated to helping them, he said.

In one instance, a resident with Social Security and no legs testified he rented a room with no mattress. Flores told him he would have to pay $400 for a new one, and he scrimped and saved off his limited income to make monthly payments, Baratta said. Flores pocketed the money and bought him a used mattress instead of getting a new one at no charge to him, the judge said.

“To hear those kind of situations, where she took from indigent, needy people and didn’t care, it called for a sentence outside the standard range,” Baratta said.

Bethlehem 9/11 softball game: Police officers trump firefighters (photos)

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The annual game is in memory of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, was played at Saucon Park.

Bethlehem police and firefighters tonight continued their annual 9/11 memorial softball game at Saucon Park.

The Fraternal Order Of Police, 20 Bethlehem Star Lodge, beat Bethlehem Firefighters IAFF Local 735 by a score of 14-10 in extra innings, said police officer Sean Conley, the DARE officer at Nitschmann Middle School.

The unions first started playing the game on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said.

It’s in memory of the firefighters, police and civilians killed that day, Conley said, when terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The firefighters union president, David Saltzer, said the unions have played an annual softball game for about 20 years but that it has taken on much more meaning since the attacks.

“It’s just something to get everybody out and lift the spirits and try to remember everything that happened,” he said.

The 2,977 people killed in the attacks included 343 New York City firefighters and 72 police officers.

Bethlehem NAACP forum participants: Charter schools are a new form of segregation

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Both Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee and Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy said charter schools are causing a new form of school segregation.

Participants in a Bethlehem NAACP forum on charter schools tonight assailed charters for causing a new form of school segregation.

“We could end up with segregation in another form,” Bethlehem NAACP President Esther Lee said of charter schools. “It’s not 1909, but it’s close.”

Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy, who participated as an attendee, also said charter schools are causing segregation.

“People go because they don’t want their kids around kids who speak Spanish or poor kids,” Roy said. “It’s a way to siphon kids out of the school system and make them less diverse.”

Roy called charter schools the greatest financial threat to the Bethlehem Area School District. Charter schools are costing the school district $20 million this year, causing the district to cut programs especially for students in need, Roy said.

“The kids who need it most are the ones who are getting hurt,” he said. “To me, it’s actually a civil rights issue.”

The Bethlehem NAACP hosted state Rep. James Roebuck Jr., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee. Roebuck, who lives in Philadelphia, said he didn’t think it was fair there were so many lax standards for charter schools compared to other public schools. Charter schools are allowed to have up to 25 percent uncertified teachers and their teachers don’t have to adhere to the stringent evaluation process that other public school teachers do, Roebuck said.

“Charter schools have effectively begun to create an education system that’s separate and unequal,” Roebuck said.

About 25 people attended the forum, held at WLVT-TV PBS39 in Bethlehem.

State Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton/Lehigh, was another speaker. He said the House version of the teacher evaluation bill in 2012 included charter schools but the Senate exempted them in the final version.

“Why shouldn’t the same system apply to all teachers?” Samuelson said.

Hearing delayed in National Museum of Industrial History’s $5.5 million trust proposal

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The board for the museum wants to use the money, now earmarked for Lehigh University, for the long-stalled attraction proposed on South Side Bethlehem.

A hearing scheduled Friday has been postponed in the effort by the National Museum of Industrial History to take control of $5.5 million earmarked for Lehigh University.

The hearing is now set for Oct. 10 before Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano at the courthouse in Easton, according to the museum board of directors Chairman L. Charles Marcon.

The money is an indemnification trust set up by the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. in 1986 to protect a group of Steel employees from future legal liabilities, according to a letter to the former Bethlehem Steel officials covered.

Dated June 26, the letter was sent to the members of the trust asking them to indicate whether they would agree to changing the recipient of the money.

Lehigh officials say they corresponded with U.S. Trust, which manages the Steel trust, for years over the money, which they plan to use the money to fund scholarships for Lehigh Valley students attending the Bethlehem school.

The museum proposed for South Side Bethlehem was the focus of a Northampton County grand jury in January that found it had spent $17 million over 17 years without opening the facility in its former Bethlehem Steel electrical repair shop. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether the nonprofit should be dissolved.

The museum’s board is continuing efforts to finally open the museum. Officials earlier this year announced a $3 million anonymous donation to the museum, in addition to the efforts underway to secure the $5.5 million from the trust to fund the project.

Marcon today said the development remains stymied by the state probe.

“I’m still waiting for the attorney general to talk to us,” he said.

Motorcyclist treated at Lower Saucon Township wreck by nurses, police passing by, authorities report

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The 27-year-old is allegedly speeding through a construction zone Aug. 14 when he rear-ends a vehicle on Route 378 North that slowed to make a left turn.

Police and nurses who happened to be near a motorcycle crash in mid-August stopped to render aid to the rider until medics arrived, according to Lower Saucon Township police.

Isaac Reyes, 27, of the 1400 block of East Eighth Street in Bethlehem, was riding a Yamaha motorcycle at 10:20 a.m. Aug. 14 on Route 378 North in the township, police say. Reyes struck the rear of a vehicle that was making a left turn and crashed between Edward and Walter streets, police say.

Officers and two nurses driving by stopped, authorities say, and provided first aid to Reyes. Police say Reyes was not wearing a helmet.

Witnesses who saw Reyes before the wreck told police he was speeding through a construction zone where work was being performed under the Interstate 78 overpass, according to authorities.

Route 378 was closed for approximately one hour, according to police. Authorities say Reyes suffered multiple injuries, but they did not elaborate.

Reyes was cited with careless driving.

Discover Lehigh Valley offering discounts to some local fall attractions

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The tourism organization's 'Autumn Adventures & Frightening Frolics' highlights regional seasonal activities and provides a list of savings on area events and attractions.

Fall is in the air, and Discover Lehigh Valley has put together a list of seasonal attractions — including some with discounts.

The tourism organization’s “Autumn Adventures & Frightening Frolics” highlights regional seasonal activities and provides a list of savings on area events and attractions.

Some of the discounted events are:

  • Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites, Bethlehem: A buy-one-get-one deal on the Death & Dying Tour, the only cemetery tour in Bethlehem to take guests through the 1741 Gemeinhaus, a National Historic Landmark, as well as the oldest standing building in the city.
  • State Theatre, Easton: Receive a free child’s ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket to Haunted Illusions: Magic of David Caserta on Oct. 25.
  • Hotel of Horrors/Altered Nightmares, Saylorsburg: Mention “Frightening Frolics” at the box office and receive a special prize with a combo purchase.
  • Oktoberfest 5K, Bethlehem: Use the code “PROSTRUN” when checking-out to redeem $5 off your registration for the Yuengling Oktoberfest 5k on Oct. 5.

A full list of local seasonal events and printable coupons are available at LehighValleyFall.com.