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Komen NEPA Race For the Cure

Highway Closure May Cause Traffic Delays

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP –Officials closed a busy stretch of highway in Monroe County.

PennDOT said Route 33 north is closed at Snydersville after a hole opened up in the bridge that takes the road over Pocono Creek Monday night.

Traffic is being detoured onto Route 209 north.

The bridge is expected to be closed until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in Monroe County.

mon bridge

Ryan’s Run 5 Kick Off Concert: Showtime

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More than a thousand people packed Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs for the official “WNEP-TV’s Ryan’s Run 5″ kick off concert.  The show featured a “Bee Gees” tribute band.  Check out the clip to see the evening highlights.  To get involved in “Ryan’s Run,” click here.

Woman Pinned Under Car, Killed

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JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — One person is dead after an early morning crash in Lackawanna County, according to officials.

Authorities said that Melissa Davis, 37, of Moscow was pinned under her car after it hit a utility pole on Mount Cobb Road in Mount Cobb around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Investigators said she was not wearing a seat belt.

State police have not said what caused the deadly crash in Lackawanna County.

Busing woes mar East Penn’s first day of school, superintendent says

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Changes have been implemented to ensure problems from Monday don't continue today, the superintendent says.

Transportation problems marred what was otherwise a good first day of school for East Penn students, Superintendent J. Michael Schilder said.

Speaking at Monday’s school board meeting, Schilder said approximately 20 children were not picked up Monday morning at their bus stops. Also, buses were late getting children to school and back home, he said.

“There were some students who weren’t returned home this afternoon until very late,” Schilder said. Most of them are in the full-day kindergarten program at Alburtis Elementary School, he said.

This is the first year of East Penn’s five-year contract with Student Transportation of America, or STA. The board approved the agreement in March, ending a 45-year relationship with First Student, another busing company.

The district’s busing routes were reworked this summer, in part because of a new elementary school schedule associated with the elimination of half-day Wednesdays. The board in June voted to end weekly early dismissals which were, for the most part, unpopular with East Penn parents.

Schilder, who was hired in March prior to the former superintendent’s July retirement, attributed the problems to a combination of driver error and miscommunication between the school district and parents. In some cases, drivers went to the wrong addresses and in others, students were registered for school late and there was confusion about whether they required busing, he said.

District staff and STA employees worked together to address the mix-ups quickly, the superintendent said.

In one instance, a third-grader waited at a bus stop intended for middle school students, Schilder said. Once she arrived at the middle school, staff there sorted out the problem and calmed the girl, who was quickly dispatched to her elementary school, he said.

At one point, it was feared that a student had gone missing after school, the superintendent said. It turned out that there had been a miscommunication between the child’s parents. “The child was always safe, always with his father from the get-go,” he explained.

Schilder said East Penn and STA officials know what caused Monday’s transportation problems, particularly those at Alburtis Elementary, and have taken steps to make sure they aren’t repeated today. Busing should run smoothly for the remainder of the week, but the superintendent said he can’t promise perfection.

Of the 9,077 students who rely on busing in East Penn, most got to school and back home without incident, Schilder said.

STA employees over the last four or five days have been inundated with phone calls from parents requesting everything from the name of their child’s bus driver to a bus stop or route changes, the superintendent said. The company underestimated the call volume and struggled to keep up, he said, explaining that “hundreds and hundreds of calls” poured in.

“We need to get back to parents, even if the answer is, ‘No, we cannot change the bus stop’ or ‘No, we cannot change the bus route,’” the superintendent said. “It’s very important that we establish human contact right away.”

Schilder asked that STA immediately increase the number of employees and phone lines available to receive incoming calls. More busing company employees will be available today, he said, but adding the extra phone lines could take longer, he said.

“I think that STA has been responsive” to East Penn’s concerns about busing, Schilder said. “I think they’re giving it their all.”

Aside from the busing issues, it was a first day of school filled with “good vibes” for the district’s students and teachers, the superintendent said, addding that he visited Lincoln and Jefferson elementary, Lower Macungie Middle and Emmaus High schools on Monday.

Contact Lehigh County suburbs reporter Precious Petty at 484-894-3854 or

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Forks Township man arrested after stealing vacuum cleaner from Wal-Mart, police say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The 48-year-old runs off but is tracked down, police say.

A 48-year-old Forks Township man faces charges after stealing a vacuum cleaner from the Wal-Mart in Lower Nazareth Township, Colonial Regional police report this morning in a news release.

Daniel Floyd Matlock, of the 400 block of Kesslersville Road, took a $379 Dyson from the store in the 3700 block of Easton Nazareth Highway, police said.

Matlock ran off but was taken into custody not far away, police said. The vacuum cleaner was recovered, police said.

Matlock was arraigned before District Judge Joseph Barner on charges of retail theft and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said. He was released on $3,500 unsecured bail, police said.

A preliminary hearing is initially scheduled 10:45 a.m. Sept. 4, court records say.

Bangor Area School Board discusses stadium feasibility; project could cost up to $8.8 million

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Problems such as safety concerns on the baseball fields, the poor current condition of the fields and financial and logistical problems of the trainers working between two locations are addressed as well.

The Bangor Area School Board on Monday night discussed the findings of a stadium feasibility study the district did last month.

The study came back with two proposals, one that could cost the district up to $8.8 million.

The first plan included upgrading the current fields and adding a stadium, which would cost just less than $7 million.

The second plan included adding seven fields to the already existing fields, one of which would be a stadium, as well as upgrades to the older fields, which comes in at a little more than $8.8 million.

The second plan would also include building on the Ott farm property the district owns.

The study was done in anticipation of the district’s lease with Bangor ending in seven years, and the board wanting to know all its options. 

Athletic Director Bron Holland said it’s not a stadium project, but a shortage of fields.

One cause is attributed to girls soccer moving from the spring to the fall, he said.

Holland told board and 20 residents that the boys were supposed to practice on one of the fields at the high school, but the field is no longer usable for soccer because the team was sharing it with the band.

Now, the boy’s soccer team is being bused to Bangor Memorial Park Stadium.

Holland also addressed problems such as safety concerns on the baseball fields, the poor current condition of the fields and financial and logistical problems of the trainers working between two locations.

School board President Pam Colton said the results were just a preliminary step and acknowledgement of the shortage of fields and safety issues.

She said there is a little urgency in the matter because a bog turtle study would have to be done on the Ott property.

Colton added that financing options would also have to be weighed.

Superintendent Frank DeFelice said it has been an area of concern for a long time.

“We are in dire needs of fields,” he said. “It started before this, but we just don’t have the field space.”

School director Steve Bussenger said the board should definitely consider the options.

“I know it’s a lot of money,” he said. “Half of our high school students will use it every day and it will give our coaches a way to raise money having tournaments.”

Bussinger added that a lot of work hasn’t been done in years to the athletic fields.

School director Craig Berger said a similar study should’ve been done 20 years ago. He said if the district goes with a bigger plan it would get two times the fields for just 30 percent more money.

However, other board members had their reservations on the plans.

Director Ken Brewer Jr. said while he would support newer athletic fields, the district needs to find a way to not burden taxpayers with the cost for building and maintaining the fields.

Board member Bob Cartwright agreed.

“I think we need to take a look at a lot of things,” he said. “We’re sitting in a building that doesn’t have Internet … the kids don’t have iPads or computers like all the other districts around. We need to take a step back and ask ‘where are we going.’ It’s real easy to spend everyone else’s money.”

He added that the district is almost $43 million in debt and adding the project could put the district in the hole another $10 million.

School director Mike Goffredo cited problems with the parking and traffic proposals and said the district could be looking at $20 million to do the project.

He said the district could look into making the current fields a little more durable instead.

Board member Kevin Pruett also asked for the business manager to look at the numbers again.

No action was taken on the meeting and more discussion is expected the September meeting, Colton said. 

Bethlehem high-schoolers take first steps into engineering labs with STEM program

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The programs launched today.

Five years ago, Beth Guarriello and Mark Hoffman came to the Bethlehem Area School Board and pleaded for funding for a hands-on STEM curriculum.

The board agreed Project Lead the Way’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics-themed high school curriculum would challenge students. But it balked at the $500,000 start-up costs over four years.

Guarriello and Hoffman never gave up the idea and Monday students walked into new engineering labs at Liberty and Freedom high schools.

“It is a dream come true,” Hoffman said standing in his classroom before school began last week. “It’s an awesome program. This is going to be the highlight of my career.”

In June, the school board passed a budget that hiked taxes by almost 5 percent and included funding to launch the STEM curriculum in the district’s two high schools.

Bethlehem joins neighboring Saucon Valley School District along with the Parkland School District in offering the engineering program.

Next year, Bethlehem will become the first in the Valley to launch the biomedical sciences program, said Guarriello, now an assistant principal at Liberty.

Project Lead the Way is recognized by both employers and colleges as a stellar preparatory program, Guarriello said. It educates students for the jobs of the future, Hoffman said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates jobs in STEM are expected to grow by 17 percent by 2018, nearly double the growth for non-STEM fields, according to Project Lead the Way. By 2018, the U.S. will have more than 1.2 million unfilled STEM jobs due to a lack of qualified workers.

“In 10 years there will be a critical shortage,” Hoffman said.

The programs tie into Bethlehem’s implementation of career pathways in the high schools. Freshmen will select from four pathways: health and social services; science, technology, engineering and math; arts, humanities and communications; and business, finance and law. Then they can find suggested courses, community service and career opportunities for their pathway.

The Project Lead the Way courses build upon each other, culminating in a

project lead the way labPhysics Teacher Mark Hoffman, works on the software August 18, 2014 in the engineering labs at Liberty High School. 

capstone course. Bethlehem can eventually pursue accreditation, as Parkland did, that will allow students to earn college credits.

About 160 Bethlehem students have signed up for the introduction to engineering design course this semester, although currently it’s just an elective, not an honors course.

“We could’ve run more sections,” Guarriello said.

The four teachers who will be teaching the courses spent two weeks at Bucknell University training during the summer. Teachers completed the entire course over that period, said Walter Marshaleck, a Liberty physics teacher and mechanical engineer.

“It was intense,” he said. “But it was fun. There’s additional training each summer and I’m excited to go back.”

Project Lead the Way’s courses are hands-on, problem-solving courses where much of the learning is student led, Marshaleck said.

“The teacher takes on a role of more of a facilitator,” Hoffman said.

The courses require specialized labs with computers capable of running professional engineering software. The district received a $30,000 grant from Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp.’s Bethlehem office to help outfit the labs.

Students will get to work with 3-D printers and in the next course robotics.

“Theoretically, whatever they draw and model we can build with the printer,” Hoffman, who is an electrical engineer, said.

Students will be working with a variety of complex software, like AutoCAD Inventor, but also standard software like Microsoft office suite.

“Project Lead the Way pushes a lot of literacy,” Guarriello said.

She praised the teachers for their passion for the course and dedication getting the program off the ground and thanked the school board for supporting the program.

“All that training, they’re not getting paid,” she said.

They meet weekly to coordinate the curriculum and plan to allow Liberty and Freedom students to collaborate via Skype.

“We’re learning just a little bit ahead of the students” Marshaleck said.

Bangor?s field of dreams could cost nearly $9 million

Posted by 69News:.

Possible solutions to long-standing problems with the Bangor Area School District’s athletic fields were aired Monday night, including a feasibility study that outlined plans for a new stadium costing up to $8.8 million.

Board member Michael Goffredo said he had serious doubts about the projected costs and the plans, which would include what was referred to as the Ott field.

“This just isn’t going to work,” Goffredo said. “No way, for $9 million … you’re talking seven new fields on Ott field. No way.”

“I can tell you $9 million is not going to get you there, no way,” he said. “It’s going to be $20 million bucks if it’s even viable.”

In an update to the board Bron F. Holland, the director of athletics, said there are not enough practice and game fields.

And those that exist are in rough shape he said, covered with clover and weeds, and pools of water when it rains because there is no drainage.

Conditions are so bad on the baseball field, Holland said, that the district has been warned that if anyone gets hurt the district will be liable.

The shortage of fields has caused disruptions in scheduling soccer, field hockey and other programs, he said.

With only one soccer game field, and no practice field, and with girls soccer moving to the fall, Holland said, “this isn’t enough.”

He told the board teams should not practice on the field they play on because practice sessions tear up the turf.

Scheduling the other teams has become a juggling act.

To gain more space the district spends about $80,000 a year renting fields at Bangor Park, a figure some board members said might be better spent financing the building of new fields that would be owned by the district.

Not everyone was swept up in the dreams of a new, multimillion dollar stadium.

“How can we talk about this?” board member Robert Cartwright said. “How are we going to afford it?”

Cartwright said the district is struggling with its $52 million budget and is “$42 million in the hole.”

Board member Ken Brewer agreed.

“There’s no way we can afford this,” Brewer said.

Even if the district were to approve the plans and spend the money, the project would take at least two years, in part, because there is a “bog turtle issue” on Ott field that would require a bog turtle survey.

First day at East Penn schools a bumpy ride

Posted by 69News:.

While the first day of school in the East Penn School District was hardly a fiasco, by their own account there’s room for improvement.

The area lacking was that of transportation, according to comments made by Superintendent J. Michael Schilder during Monday night’s board of directors meeting.

Thanks to some bus driver mistakes, late registrations and incorrect addresses, about 20 students never made the school bus that was supposed to be their ride to school.

“There’s no question there were some errors on our part,” said Schilder.

There were also delays in the morning and afternoon routes as well, the superintendent noted. As a result, Schilder said he wanted “additional phones” to be manned in the near future.

“We need to make sure we get back to parents,” he said. “…There is nothing more frustrating than calling and hearing endless ringing or a busy signal.”

While the superintendent didn’t have a crystal ball with him, he did assess the district’s prospects for improvement.

“I believe we will have a better day Tuesday,” Schilder said.

In other business Monday night, by a 9-0 vote the board approved the refinancing of $11.2 million worth of outstanding general obligation, Series A of 2005 bonds, following presentations by financial adviser Scott Shearer, managing director at Public Financial Management, and bond counsel Jon Cox, Esq., of Rhoads & Sinon.

Shearer noted the district’s “commendable” credit rating spurred the interest of investors to the 15-minute bond sale, ultimately secured by financial services firm Janney Montgomery Scott, LLC, saving the district money in the process.

During a public comment session at the start of the meeting, resident Chris Donatelli accused the district and board of negotiating the recently approved teachers contract behind closed doors.

“In typical fashion the board failed to provide transparency,” Donatelli said of the negotiations.

Officially approved August 11th, teachers will receive  pay raises of 2.5 percent each year of the four-year pact, which begins July 1st, 2015.

Last year Donatelli ran a failed campaign for board director..