Saturday, October 28, 2006

Free wifi across the Lehigh Valley

All this talk of wifi has us here at The After Work Chronicles wondering... Where is there free wifi in the Lehigh Valley? We all need to break free of the office every once in a while and grab a cup of coffee or bite to eat. Asterisks (*) indicate Affiliate Partners who currently offer NET members discounts.


Allentown Public Library
1210 Hamilton St.

Bacio Italian Restaurant
1259 South Cedar Crest Blvd.

Damon's Grill
1731 Airport Rd.

Dan's Camera City
1439 W. Fairmont St.

Panera Bread
3100 West Tilghman St.

SW Coffee Blends*
4128 W. Tilghman St.

Wingate Inn
4325 Hamilton Blvd.


Bethlehem Public Library
11 West Church St.

Hotel Bethlehem
437 Main St.

Jazzman's Cafe
4 Campus Square

Lehigh University Library
27 Memorial Dr. West

Moravian Book Shop
428 Main St.

Panera Bread
3301 Bath Pike

Wired Gallery & Cafe
520 Main St.

Wise Bean Coffee and Espresso Bar
634 North New St.


Quizno's Subs
7001 N. Rt. 309


Cosmic Cup Coffee Co.
520 March St.

Easton Coffee Exchange
321 Northampton St.

Stiltskins Coffee House
117 North Third St.


Cappuccino Cafe
1301 Chestnut St.


Lower Macungie Library
3450 Brookside Rd.


Cyber Station Cafe
756 Main St.

Missing your favorites? Add them to the list!

Business Brainstorming and Networking

Discussion Topic: Creating a hype-Getting More Out of Consumer Promotions. The Lehigh Valley Idea Web is an informal brainstorming group for business owners and start-ups. Focus is on establishing and accomplishing goals as a means to success. Open to all. No membership required.

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 10 a.m.

Where: Whitehall Public Library's Community Room, 3700 Merchanicsville Road, Whitehall

Cost: $10

Sponsored by Lehigh Valley Idea Web, Rita Guthrie, 610-437-4732

Friday, October 27, 2006

Art of Fashion Show

Clothing and accessories, including the latest fashions for the holidays, highlight the Nov. 11 “Art of Fashion” show presented by The Crossings Premium Outlets of Tannersville and ArtsQuest. The event is set for 1-3 p.m. in the Banana Factory’s Binney & Smith Gallery.

Highlighting the show will be the showcasing of fall fashions from a selection of popular designer brand outlets. The event includes strolling models presenting seasonal apparel and accessories from more than 20 outlet stores, as well as displays of merchandise from select tabletop outlets at the center. The afternoon will also consist of light refreshments, prizes and more.

When: Sat. Nov. 11, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.

: Binney & Smith Gallery, Banana Factory, Bethlehem

Cost: $25

Sponsored by the Banana Factory’s Special Events Committee.

Tickets are available until Nov. 5 at 610-332-1300.

Financial Planning 101: Do you know what your credit score is?

Unlocking the mystery of credit scores

Q : I just applied for a mortgage and found out that my credit score is much lower than I thought. What makes up a credit score?

A: One of the worst times to find out that your credit score is lower than you'd estimated is when you're sitting across from a mortgage lender. But you're not alone in guessing wrong.

In a recent survey from, an educational Web site, more than three-fourths of people surveyed reported not knowing their credit scores within a 200-point range. Nearly half of them had never checked their own credit report and score, while 17 percent hadn't checked in several years.

Knowing your credit score is the first step in improving your credit standing. But unlocking the mystery behind credit score calculations is somewhat more elusive.

The most commonly used credit score is the Fair Isaac Corp. score, or the FICO score. The score runs from 300 to 850. A score above 750 is generally considered good and a score below 620 is considered risky. The range between the two depends on the lender looking at the score.

FICO uses information from your credit report, which is compiled by three major credit reporting agencies, to calculate your credit score.

FICO looks at five categories, each weighed differently, to determine your score.

Payment history: This category is the most crucial and accounts for 35 percent of your total credit score.

FICO monitors both revolving loans like credit cards as well as installment loans like student loans or mortgages. Making consistent, timely payments is one of the best ways to improve your credit score overall.

Debt amounts: This category makes up 30 percent of your score and deals with your total outstanding debt.

In this category, revolving accounts weigh more. Unlike installment loans where the debt amount is already determined, revolving accounts allow a person to borrow as much or as little as she wants up to a limit.

To insure a higher credit score, keep credit card balances low. The amount you owe shouldn't exceed 30 percent of your credit limits, recommended Robert Anderson, co-founder of Focus Inc., which runs

Length of credit history: FICO looks at the amount of time each account has been open and the amount of time since the account's last action. This makes up 15 percent of your total score. More credit history paints a more accurate picture of long-term financial behavior.

New credit and credit mix: Each of these make up 10 percent of your score.

Even if you're new to credit, don't open too many accounts at once. Doing so could indicate that you're in financial straits and need access to a lot of credit. Only take on new credit when you absolutely need it or when it makes financial sense.

To avoid unpleasant surprises when applying for a loan, check your credit report and your credit score at least once a year.

Every person is entitled to a free credit report annually from one of the three credit reporting agencies, although it costs a minimal amount to receive a credit score.

Summary of an article taken from

Steppin' Out on the Home Front

Get into the swing of things at the Allentown Art Museum as they salute the music and dance of the 1940s in honor of the special exhibition Wearing Propaganda. Billye Kersey Kubiak—dancer, choreographer and Anytime Annie from the original production of Broadway’s 42nd Street—will kick things up while the jazz recording artists of the Mary Hawkins Band will have you be-bopping to songs influenced by the era. Take a swing dancing lesson with The Allentown Area Swing Dance Society or catch a mini-talk about the special exhibitions. Break out your vintage clothing and dancing shoes for this not-to-be-missed evening!

When: Thursday, Nov. 9th, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Allentown Art Museum

Cost: $15, or free if you an Allentown Art Museum member

Candidates to debate in south Bethlehem

Candidates for both the 18th state Senate district and the 133rd state House District are scheduled to appear at a League of Women Voters-sponsored debate Monday night in south Bethlehem.

State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton, is seeking her third term. She is opposed by Bonnie Dodge, a Republican from Northampton.

The state House race is open because of the retirement of Rep. T.J. Rooney, D-Lehigh, after seven terms. The candidates in that race are former Northampton County Councilman Joseph F. Brennan, a Democrat from Fountain Hill; Catasauqua Area School Board member Dawn M. Berrigan, a Republican; and Green Party candidate Guy M. Gray of Bethlehem.

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Sayre Hall at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Betcha didn't know...

that the Lehigh Valley has its very own dog park. The Illicks Mill dog park in Bethlehem is large and has both small and large dog areas.

Location: Behind Memorial Pool off of Illick's Mill road.

Directions: The park is located off of Illick's Mill Road. You should look for signs for Memorial pool. Park in the memorial pool lot and the park is located behind the pool. You can get to Illick's Mill Road by exiting route 22 at Shoenersville road south. Illick's Mill road will be on your right in about 2 miles.

"Betcha didn't know..." will be a weekly series on Thursdays featuring little known Lehigh Valley amenities and other interesting facts.

Starbucks are here, there and everywhere in the Valley

In the Lehigh Valley region, Starbucks has stores planned or open in the South Mall, which straddles Allentown and Salisbury Township; on Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem; on Airport Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County; in the Shoppes at Caramoor Village in Lower Macungie; in Northampton Crossings in Lower Nazareth Township; Richland Township; and in the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley in Upper Saucon Township.

More about the Starbucks invasion in the Valley here.

Corporate Social Responsibilities

Speaker: Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland and current President of the Ethical Globalizaiton Intiative, as part of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Community Arts & Culture Series. Her topic will be "Corporate Social Responsibilities." She will address the social responsibilities of business people and companies inour global society. And question-and-answer period will follow her lecture. She is a superb example of a woman politician who puts her humanity at the forefront of her politics. She has always sought to use law as an instrument for social change.

When: Thursday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 W. Hamilton St., Allentown

Cost: $25 general admission; $10 students with valid ID

Sponsored by Penn State Lehigh Valley, 610-285-5018.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bear Creek Fall Festival

Activities include chair lift rides, hay rides, craft show, wine tasting, children's activities and more!

When: Saturday, Oct. 28 and Sunday, Oct. 29

Where: Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Macungie

Admission: FREE!!

Rejoice young professionals! South Side Bethlehem to get pay-as-you-go wireless internet

South Bethlehem is about to join a handful of places in the state to be wired for high-speed wireless Internet access.

Lehigh Valley leaders today will announce that the South Side's recovery from the loss of Bethlehem Steel takes another giant step with a 2.5-square-mile wireless ''hot zone'' that covers virtually every piece of the city south of the Lehigh River, said Lehigh University's director of technology management services, Roy Gruver, who has been helping PPL Telecom fine-tune the system for the past year.

Dozens of access points have already been installed on utility poles, and a partnership that includes the city, the university, the Ben Franklin Partnership and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. is ready to provide access — for a fee — to anyone with a laptop computer.

"This is a significant advancement in the development of south Bethlehem,'' Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan said. ''This will help grow what I'd call a knowledge neighborhood throughout the South Side. It's pretty exciting.''

Full story here.

UPDATE: The 2.5-square-mile network covers virtually all of south Bethlehem and gives high-speed Internet access to anyone willing to part with $20 per month, carrying the South Side a step closer to becoming the ''knowledge neighborhood'' city officials envision.

In fact, even as the news conference to announce the network broke up at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan was talking about expanding the new wireless district into the north-side business district.

''Live, work and play, right here,'' Callahan said. ''That's what it is all about. That is what we are building.''

And if you live in north Bethlehem, wireless access may soon be coming to a utility pole near you.

''When people on the north side see this, they're going ask, ''What about me?'' Callahan said. ''Well, we're already talking about that. Why not them, too?''

More here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bethlehem City Council committee to discuss tax program

Bethlehem City Council's community development committee will review a proposed renewal of the city's tax-abatement program during its meeting at 7 tonight in Town Hall. The 20-year-old LERTA, or Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, program would apply to new properties under changes pending approval from the city, Bethlehem Area School District, and Lehigh and Northampton counties. Approval would continue the program for two years.

LERTA has two components: for new development and for rehabilitation projects. Both eliminate property taxes for the first year on the amount the property's assessment increases over the pre-improvement assessment.

Murals fight crime across the Lehigh Valley

A handful of walls in Allentown are being transformed into large, colorful murals, gaining attention as artistic works of hope in neighborhoods in the midst of a comeback. This is part of the Lehigh Valley Community Mural Projects.

In Bethlehem, a mural is planned for the side of the Wildflower Cafe and Gallery, 316 S. New St., and four are planned throughout Easton. Last month, the Arts Community of Easton completed a mural on the side of a meatpacking warehouse in the 1200 block of Northampton Street that had been the target of graffiti.

In Philadelphia, which has one of the most established mural programs in the country, murals have not only helped beautify empty lots in beleaguered neighborhoods, but also helped spur recovery in areas and create tourist destinations.

"What happens with a mural is it's the 'broken window theory' in reverse,'' said Brian Campbell, assistant to the director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Project.

''Good things can lead to good things. Especially when the community has a voice in the mural process. They have a hand in it being created and they embrace it,'' he said.

Using the Philadelphia Mural Arts Project as a template, artist Norberto Dominguez created the nonprofit Lehigh Valley Community Mural Project in 2004, cobbling together funding and partnerships with numerous nonprofit agencies and civic-minded foundations.

''The goal was to bring a mural project that would truly involve the community from the inception, but the work that would be created would have to be of the highest standard,'' Dominguez said.

Although Allentown's Weed & Seed program gave a small amount of money, the city's tight financial situation makes it unlikely it can fund mural projects anytime soon, said Betsy Levin, director of community development.

But, she added, it's one of the top 10 items on her department's budget ''wish list,'' Levin said.

''I think they're fantastic. They transform a space,'' said Levin, who can see the Symphony Hall mural from her office. ''I love to see grass-roots action. It's wonderful when everything isn't initiated by the city.''

This is a summary of an article that can be found at

Oct. 28th is Make a Difference Day

Saturday, Oct. 28th is national Make a Difference Day. In honor of America's largest day of doing good, the NET encourages its members to volunteer. Suggested organizations include:
  • Coalition for Appropriate Transportation - An educational charity which works to improve mobility for everyone. Improved walking, bicycling and transit mean a stronger economy, a higher quality of life. More transportation choices mean less congestion, reduced pollution, fewer auto crash deaths and life changing injuries, too. Curbing our use of the automobile fights suburban sprawl, obesity and increasingly high medical costs.
  • Emmaus Main Street Program - The basic premise of Main Street Program is that traditional downtowns are the "heart" of a community that from malls, superstores, and strip malls, traditionally downtown retail centers began to decline in the 1970's and 1980's. Typically, as blighted downtown storefronts began to empty, crime, vandalism rose and property values declined not only in the downtown district, but in the surrounding residential neighborhoods as well. Main Street Programs incorporate historic preservation, community consensus building, and volunteer effort to attain community and economic development.
  • Wildlands Conservancy - Since 1973, Wildlands Conservancy has been working to protect and enhance the quality of place that we all enjoy here in the Lehigh River watershed. Its mission is to preserve, protect and enhance the land, water, ecological and recreational resources of the region.

Other opportunities are available at the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley's website.

Legislative Luncheon

Speakers include: Charlie Dent, Lisa Boscola, Craig Daily, Rich Grucela, and Julie Harhart. Question and answer session to follow. Hot plate lunch served.

When: Monday, Oct. 30, 12 p.m.

Where: Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center, Routes 512 & 22, Bethlehem

Cost: $12 per person

Sponsored by Nazareth, Whitehall and Slate Belt Area chambers of commerce, 610-759-9188.

Home Buyer's Seminar

First-time ownership. Topics include: preparing for home ownership, importnace of good credit, shopping for a home, obtaining a mortgage, the closing process, what to expect as a home owner.

When: Saturday, Oct. 28, 8:15 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Where: Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg, 2545 Schoenersville Road, Bethlehem

Cost: FREE!!

Sponsored by the Community Action Committee of Lehigh Valley, 610-691-5620.

Multi-use transportation center going up in Allentown

Some 3,500 LANTA riders daily are expected to pass through a new multi-use transportation center and parking facility when it is completed late next summer.

The $14 million, five-level facility will include 500 parking spaces, a surface lot, a 16-bay bus terminal and retail stores. It is being built on Sixth Street in Allentown, across from The Morning Call which used to serve as Morning Call parking.

Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski said the new center would be an important link in efforts to revitalize the Allentown dowtown area.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Volunteer Opportunity: Lower Macungie Clean-Up

Due to the success of past clean up efforts the Lower Macungie Township is once again hosting another Spring Creek Cleanup. This semi-annual project of removing debris and large obstructions from in and around the banks of the Little Lehigh helps to improve the waterway's flow and provides a better fish habitat The Township will provide the needed equipment, however, please bring gloves, shovels, chain saws, safety vests etc ... as we have a limited number of these items You may volunteer to work for the whole day or just a few hours. The staging area will be near the intersection of Mill Creek and Spring Creek Roads at the open field, look for the Orange Cones.Whatever you do is greatly appreciated so please be generous with your time.

If you wish to volunteer your time, please register with Donna Fowler @ 610 966 4343 or

When: Saturday, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.

Where: Lower Macungie Township, the intersection of Mill Creek and Spring Creek Roads at the open field

Cost: FREE!!

If you participate in this or any other volunteer activity please notify the NET Marketing Chair, Vanessa Williams at


Enjoy the signature beer festival of the year with a fabulous food and harvest beer pairing at the Farmhouse barn, 1449 Chestnut Street in Emmaus. Chef Michael Adams prepares exquisite autumn fare perfectly paired with fall beers by host John Hansell, editor of The Malt Advocate. Reservations required.

When: Friday, Oct. 27

Where: The Farmhouse, 1449 Chestnut Street, Emmaus

Admission will be charged.

Reducing Crime in Allentown with Video Surveillance

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski plans to redirect $154,000 that was to be used for added police presence to pay for video surveillance cameras in the city's economically distressed zone. Coupled with an anticipated $200,000 grant from the state, via Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, Pawlowski said he hopes to get 25-50 cameras on the street next year.

Pawlowski, who first broached the idea of surveillance cameras in April, said the city is also talking to Muhlenberg College and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation about tapping into their network of cameras to extend its surveillance reach.

''Now we will have this massive network of cameras,'' Pawlowski said.

The first step will be to install eight to 10 cameras in the downtown business district and surrounding blocks in the Weed and Seed area, which stretches from the Lehigh River to Eighth Street and from Hamilton to Tilghman streets.

Pawlowski also has included $250,000 in his capital budget to expand the program in concentric circles.

"If you contact Baltimore and Wilmington, they have seen drastic reductions in the crime rate in the areas where the cameras have gone up,'' said Capt. Daniel Warg, who is heading up the initiative on the law enforcement side for the city.

More on this here at

Best local places for everything Halloween.

Hosting a Halloween party? Need a costume? These local stores should help get you prepared.
  • Drop Me A Line Costume Shop, 1050 Lehigh St., Allentown - 610-435-7481
  • Scaramouche, 201 E. 3rd St., Bethlehem - 610-868-7060
  • The Paper Outlet, 3145 Lehigh St., Allentown - 610-797-1222 - For all your Halloween party needs.
  • Dan Schantz Greenhouse & Cut Flower Outlet - Union Blvd, Bethlehem and Lehigh St., Allentown - Get your pumpkins and mums here.
  • Christmas Barn, 4186 Easton Ave., Bethlehem - 610-861-0477 - Don't let the name deceive you, the Christmas Barn stocks their home decor according to the season.