Archive for category Bethlehem

Suspicious package to blame for closing of Bethlehem’s Main Street, authorities say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The closure of the stretch created some traffic backups in the area, which is in the heart of Center City Bethlehem's business district.

A suspicious package was to blame for the closure of a stretch of Main Street in Bethlehem on Wednesday night, city police said. 

Vehicular traffic and pedestrians were blocked from accessing the street between West Broad and Market streets about 7 p.m.

The closure of the stretch created some traffic backups in the area, which is in the heart of Center City Bethlehem’s business district. 

Scanner reports indicated police reopened the stretch at 8:26 p.m.

Additional information on the package and its exact location was not immediately available on Wednesday night. 

Digital operations chief Alyssa Passeggio contributed to this report. 

Stretch of Bethlehem’s Main Street closed to traffic, pedestrians; police on scene

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Officials not commenting on situation in the heart of Center City Bethlehem's business district.

UPDATE: Suspicious package to blame for closing of Bethlehem’s Main Street, authorities say

A stretch of Main Street in Bethlehem is closed to both vehicular traffic and pedestrians, but the reason for the closure was not immediately clear.

About 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, police officers were diverting people away from the closed stretch between West Broad and Market streets. The block is in the heart of Center City Bethlehem’s business district. 

At least two fire engines were in the area. A representative with the Bethlehem Fire Department, reached Wednesday night, declined to comment on the situation. The Bethlehem Police Department did not immediately respond to a media inquiry.

Reports of gas odors in the same area on Jan. 21 prompted the closure of a stretch of Main Street and an hour-long evacuation of several businesses. 

Digital operations chief Alyssa Passeggio contributed to this report. 

Bethlehem Area School District’s STEM curriculum gets $32,355 donation

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. donated $32,355 towards expanding the district's high school science, technology, engineering and math initiatives.

The Bethlehem Area School District’s Project Lead the Way curriculum got another outside funding boost this week.

Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. donated $32,355 towards expanding the district’s high school science, technology, engineering and math initiatives. The company donated $30,000 to get the program off the ground this school year. A check was presented to the district Tuesday.

“Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.’s support of our ambitious Project Lead the Way program provides Bethlehem Area School District students with unique learning opportunities that prepare them to move into high demand STEM careers,” Superintendent Joseph Roy said in a statement.

Project Lead the Way is a series of four-year high school courses that build upon each other and introduce students to the fields of engineering and medicine prior to college. The STEM curriculum costs about $500,000 over four years to get it up and running.

Bethlehem is adding a biomedical Project Lead the Way curriculum next school year.

The company’s contribution comes through its EdAhead initiative, an education savings program with a multiple match. First the company matches employees’ annual contributions to 529 college savings plans up to a set threshold. Employee-matched contributions trigger a second match and the aggregate of each office is donated to the local public schools.

“We created EdAhead to fuel the next generation of business leaders and the program’s curriculum provides students in the Bethlehem area a fantastic educational foundation,” Jeff Stibel, Chairman and CEO of Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., said in a news release. “We look forward to what’s to come for these students.” 

Since 2013, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility has donated $530,000 to public schools across the country country.

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

Bethlehem Councilwoman Cathy Reuscher not running in 2015 election

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Reuscher, who was appointed to council in February 2014, said not serving on council would give her more time to support the growing membership of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, of which she is a founder.

Bethlehem Councilwoman Cathy Reuscher will not run in the 2015 council election.

Reuscher, who was appointed to council in February 2014, said not serving on council would give her more time to support the growing membership of the Bethlehem Food Co-Op, of which she is a founder.

“I have enjoyed serving the city and I’m choosing not to run,” she said. “I know there are other capable folks to fill the vacant positions.”

Reuscher, a Democrat who replaced Mayor Bob Donchez on council, will serve through the end of 2015.

Councilmen Michael Recchiuti and J. William Reynolds along with newcomers Michael Colon and Shawn Martell have declared for the three four-year seats up for election this year. Olga Negron plans to announce for the two-year seat currently held by appointed Councilman Louis Stellato, who has said he doesn’t plan to run for a full term.

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at lolanoff@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem Councilman Michael Recchiuti running for re-election

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Recchiuti, a 38-year-old attorney, has been serving on council since 2011. The Democrat is running for one of three four-year terms up this year.

Bethlehem Councilman Michael Recchiuti is running for re-election, he announced Wednesday.

Recchiuti, a 38-year-old attorney, has been serving on council since 2011. The Democrat is running for one of three four-year terms up this year.

Recchiuti, a married father of one, said he wants to make Bethlehem a better place to live, work and raise a family.

“In my first term on council, I have been a tireless advocate for fiscal responsibility, job-creating economic development, transparency in government and public safety,” he said in a statement. “But my work is not done – putting Bethlehem first by making it a better place is what drives me.”

Recchiuti said his first-term accomplishments include:

  • Writing the law that makes city contracts subject to council approval.
  • Supporting and working to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the city’s zoning law, the first in more than 30 years.
  • Working with the city administration to reduce a $6 million budget deficit by refinancing and restructuring debt, reducing city spending and instituting a council-mandated hiring freeze.
  • Strongly supporting Bethlehem’s application for a City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, which will continue to help Bethlehem build on the over $2 billion dollars of economic development in recent years.
  • Voting for the resolution to support the region’s first Rail Transit Authority.
  • Fighting successfully to strengthen Bethlehem’s first Campaign Finance Reporting Law.
  • Voting for the the Landmarks and Historic Resources Ordinance.

Recchiuti, a 1995 graduate of Freedom High School, owns a Center Street law practice and also works as an adjunct professor at Northampton Community College. His campaign website is mikeforcouncil.com.

Other candidates include Councilman J. William Reynolds and newcomers Michael Colon and Shawn Martell. Olga Negron plans to announce for the open two-year seat later this month.

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at lolanoff@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Fergus McCarthy Competing at Westminster!

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

Fergus McCarthy is one smart little Glen of Imaal Terrier. Not only does he provide security at Bethlehem’s Donegal Square, but like most Irishmen, he’s very good at smelling out a rat. So good that he’s won several competitions and is one of very few terriers from this side of the Atlantic who has been selected to compete at Westminster.

Like most Irishmen, he likes to talk, too, and this is what he has to say about his upcoming trip.

So, I am in Westmnster!!!! My dad, a/k/a Neville Gardner, is my handler! I’m sure every chick interested in me will be trying to look up his kilt first! OMG! Can u imagine? They won’t be paying attention to me in the ring but will be screaming “Whats worn under the kilt?” So my dad, instead of making sure my private parts are lined up on the table, will be doing the Queen’s wave to the spectators! Lehighvalleylive didn’t interview us yet, but I’m here, in Bethlehem, and here is my Public Relations pre-Westminster event.”

Join me at Donegal Square, 534 Main Street, Bethlehem PA from 2-4 PM on Feb 14 and mention me and get 30% off any one knitwear item, blanket, wool accessory item or ask me and I’ll fill u in on what’s covered! I’ll be there , and I’m hoping my sister AOIFE ( a champion going to Westminster too!) Will be there too!

We will do Paw Prints, but real autographs may be difficult! Poor CORMAC and FINN will be staying home this time! CORMAC is a bt ADHD and FINN really wanted to go, but The Woman Betsy can only handle one at a time!

See you Saturday 2-4 PM at Donegal Square, 534 Main, Bethlehem and again-on the USA Network Tuesday night! Check it out!

Bethlehem meter usage down, but garages up since rates doubled

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Parking meter usage in Bethlehem dropped significantly after meter rates were doubled in 2012, but many more people have been using the parking garages in recent months.

Parking meter usage in Bethlehem dropped significantly after meter rates were doubled in 2012, but many more people have been using the parking garages in recent months.

Bethlehem Walnut Street Parking GarageView full sizeThe Bethlehem Parking Authority’s Walnut Street Parking Garage is seen in November 2012.  

Paid meter parking in 2011 totaled 1.65 million hours, according to a lehighvalleylive.com analysis. Usage dropped to 1.38 million hours in 2012, when rates were doubled from 50 cent to $1 an hour.

Usage was still down — again about 1.38 million hours — in 2013, but increased some last year to 1.43 million hours.

Nelson Lauver, the owner of the former Pepper Spray Store, which first merged with Girlfriends Boutique and then closed in the fall, blamed the meter increase for a decline in business for him and other Bethlehem merchants. His first year in business — 2011 — was great, but business started to decline after rates were increased, he said.

“They changed the dichotomy of who’s coming Main Street,” he said. “The seniors are not coming.”

Since meter rates were increased, however, parking lot and especially parking garage usage has increased. They’re both cheaper alternatives at 75 cents an hour.

Transient garage use — or those who pay by the hour instead of monthly — has increased so much that it’s almost made up the drop in parking meter usage. In 2014, visitors paid for 2.19 million hours at Bethlehem parking meters, garages and lots. That’s almost up to 2010 levels of 2.2 million hours but not quite to 2011 levels of 2.27 million hours.

In 2012, hourly parkers at Bethlehem’s meters, garages and lots only totaled 2.05 million hours. In 2013, it was 2.1 million hours.

Lauver contests fewer parking hours means fewer shoppers, but Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Kevin Livingston said that’s not necessarily the case. Bethlehem’s $1 an hour rate is comparable to both Allentown and Easton, he said.

“I don’t think the increase in the meter rate is driving people away from Bethlehem,” he said. “It’s in the market value of other third-class cities.”

Livingston agreed there was decline in paid meter hours when rates increased in 2012, but he questions if everyone who used the meters paid for them. Many more parking tickets were issued in 2012 versus 2011, an increase of $200,000 worth.

“I think it’s a combination of a decrease in compliance and an increase in people using the garages,” he said.

Getting more people to use the Walnut and North street garages was one of the authority’s goals when meter rates increased and garages rates decreased in 2012. Hourly use in the two garages has increased significantly since then, with hours almost doubling from 2011 to 2014, 268,181 hours versus 480,015 hours.

The Moravian Book Shop’s general manager, Dana DeVito, said she hasn’t necessarily seen an increase in customers using the parking garages but hopes it means visitors are staying longer in Bethlehem.

“I’m hoping that means people aren’t just running in and out of one place,” she said. “I’m hoping the Park & Shop is helping.”

Many Downtown Bethlehem Association merchants will offer their customers an hour or two of free garage parking through the program, she said.

“Getting more people to park in the garages was the goal,” said Neville Gardner, owner of Donegal Square and McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar.

BETHLEHEM PARKING USAGE

In 2012, Bethlehem parking meters increased from 50 cents to $1 an hour, parking lot rates increased from 50 to 75 cents an hour and garage rates dropped from $1 to 75 cents an hour. Garage hours count the hourly transient use at the Walnut and North street garages.

2009

Meters

1,299,334 hours

Garages

240,792 hours

Parking lots

338,418 hours

Total

1,878,544 hours

2010

Meters

1,577,808 hours

Garages

284,049 hours

Parking lots

335,314 hours

Total

2,197,171 hours

2011

Meters

1,652,732 hours

Garages

268,181 hours

Parking lots

351,664 hours

Total

2,272,577 hours

2012

Meters

1,380,116 hours

Garages

422,797 hours

Parking lots

246,977 hours

Total

2,049,970 hours

2013

Meters

1,380,196 hours

Garages

465,666 hours

Parking lots

249,496 hours

Total

2,095,358 hours

2014

Meters

1,433,061 hours

Garages

480,015 hours

Parking lots

281,361 hours

Total

2,194,437 hours

Source: lehighvalleylive.com analysis of Bethlehem Parking Authority records

Lynn Olanoff can be reached at lolanoff@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @LynnOlanoff. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Bethlehem Area to keep graduation at Lehigh’s Stabler Arena

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Liberty's graduation is scheduled for June 3 and Freedom is the following day.

The Bethlehem Area School District plans to keep its high schools’ graduation ceremonies at Lehigh University’s Stabler Arena in Bethlehem.

The school board Monday night reviewed an agreement with Lehigh to host Liberty High School’s graduation on June 3 and Freedom High School’s ceremony on June 4. Liberty’s ceremony will cost $10,000 while Freedom will cost $8,500.

The board will vote on the matter at its regular Feb. 23 board meeting.

Board President Michael Faccinetto noted Liberty’s graduation is more expensive because the graduating class is larger.

Director Shannon L. Patrick questioned if Bethlehem had given any consideration to moving the ceremonies to the PPL Center in Allentown.

Superintendent Joseph Roy said the district did not consider PPL; although, he did read newspaper articles about some high schools making the switch.

Stabler offers plenty of free parking for families and is right in “our backyard,” Roy said.

“Both high schools are happy where they are,” Roy said.

Director Eugene McKeon said he wouldn’t support moving graduation.

The Allentown School District recently voted to move Dieruff and Allen high schools’ June 14 ceremonies from Stabler to the PPL Center. Dieruff students will collect their diplomas at 1:30 p.m. and Allen students will don their cap and gowns at 6:30 p.m.

The school district anticipates about 6,000 people per ceremony. It will cost almost $8,000.

The Parkland School District, in South Whitehall Township, announced in December that it was the first district to move its high school graduation to the PPL Center. Parkland will hold graduation June 9.

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

Bethlehem man allegedly assaults daughter’s boyfriend, breaks his nose

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Basilio A. Bonilla, 44, repeatedly punched the man, then chased him and broke his phone so he couldn't call police, city police say. Bonilla is the father of Bethlehem Area School Board member Basilio Bonilla Jr.

bethlehem police.jpegView full sizeA Bethlehem man is accused of assaulting his daughter’s boyfriend, breaking the man’s nose and causing several facial fractures. 

Bethlehem police say a city man repeatedly punched his daughter’s boyfriend, then broke the victim’s cellphone so he couldn’t call the police.

Basilio A. Bonilla, 44, of the 400 block of Grandview Boulevard, is charged with making terroristic threats, simple assault, three counts of criminal mischief, as well as harassment.

Bonilla is the father of Bethlehem Area School Board Director Basilio Bonilla Jr.

He was arraigned Sunday afternoon and released after posting $30,000 bail. A phone message left at his home was not immediately returned.

City police said they were called Saturday afternoon for a reported assault at an apartment complex in the 2100 block of Florence Avenue.

Roberto Torres Jr., 26, told officers Bonilla, the father of Torres’ girlfriend, punched him as he was getting out of his car, police said. The punch broke Torres’ glasses, and his vision was blurry as Bonilla punched him at least two more times, police said.

Torres began to run away and Bonilla chased him, police said, and when Torres said he was going to call the police, Bonilla said he would kill him. Bonilla was able to get Torres’ cellphone away from him and break it, police said.

Torres ran to his apartment, and was closing the door, when Bonilla forced open the door, breaking the door knob, police said.

Torres sought medical treatment, and was found to have a broken nose and several facial fracture, police said.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Trio guilty in fight following baby shower in Lower Macungie Township

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Pennsylvania State Police say a group fight involving about 20 people erupted following the baby shower at a social hall.

pennsylvania state policeView full sizeA Bethlehem man and two Allentown women were found guilty of summary harassment following a fight after a baby shower last year. 

Three people were found guilty of summary charges for a melee following a baby shower last year at a Lower Macungie Township social hall.

Pennsylvania State Police said about 20 people were involved in the Oct. 25 brawl in the parking lot of Wescosville Fire Co. and Social Hall, 958 Brookside Drive, which also houses the Lower Macungie Township Fire Department.

Three people were charged following the incident: Daniel G. Torres, 28, of Bethlehem, and Jackeline Vasquez, 26, and Solangie Colon Martinez, 29, both of Allentown.

The group was each found guilty of harassment following hearings Monday before District Judge Michael Faulkner, records show.

A hall employee previously said a disagreement in the private party room upstairs spilled out into the parking lot, and troopers as well as officers from surrounding police departments found multiple groups of people fighting and arguing.

Police said the trio struck and kicked a 16-year-old Upper Macungie Township girl and a 34-year-old woman from Brooklyn, New York. The teen had numerous scratches and scrapes on her face and body and the woman had bruises on her lips and mouth, according to police.

Torres tried to drive away and was stopped by police on Brookside Drive, according to a police report.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.