Saturday, November 18, 2006

Burnside Plantation Crafter Green Sale

Sip hot cider of cocoa while shopping for hand-made holiday wreathes, gifts, and decorations to bring natural beauty to your home. Bunched greens and evergreen roping for sale.

When: Saturday, Dec. 2

Where: Burnside Plantation, Bethlehem

Cost: FREE!!

Ein Alte Christag: A Pennsylvania Dutch Yulefest

In the lantern-lit house, you can help Steckel family members from the year 1842 prepare for Christmas as they enjoy games, carols, baking, decoration and an old-fashioned taffy-pull. The Belsnickel (aka St. Nicholas), a Pennsylvania German gift bringer, will stop by regularly to give candy and nuts to those who have been well-behaved.

When: Sat. Dec. 2, 3-6:15 p.m.

Where: Troxell-Steckel House, 4229 Reliance St., Egypt

Old Fashion Christmas in Emmaus

This annual event in Emmaus this year will feature: storefront decorations, downtown merchants' open house, free trolley rides, carriage rides on Main St., a tree lighting ceremony and more.

When: Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2

Where: Downtown Emmaus

Cost: FREE!!

Sponsored by the Emmaus Main Street Program.

Alburtis Holiday House Tour

There is nothing like a wonderfully decorated home for the holidays. Alburtis is full of charming homes that will be on display and decorated in all of their holiday glory. Stay until 5:30 PM for the tree lighting event at the corner of Main and Franklin Streets.

: Saturday, Dec. 2, 2 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Where: Alburtis

Cost: $10 in advance, $12 day of and can be purchased at Frey’s Country Store, First Star Savings Bank and Borough Hall in Alburtis, Buzzy Lil’ Bee and the Stone House Salon in Macungie and C. Leslie Smith at Cedar Crest and Tilghman in Allentown

Friday, November 17, 2006

Holiday Beer Dinner

Kick-off the holidays by tasting the beers of this season at the Farmhouse. The Malt Advocate editor, John Hansell pairs beers of the season and shares his brew knowledge as guests savor a celebratory five-course dinner by Chef Michael Adams.

When: Dec. 1 & 2

Where: The Farmhouse, Emmaus

Reservations required.

Financial Planning 101: Motivate yourself to save and invest

Attitude can go a long way toward spending money smarter. And a defeatist attitude will almost certainly mean you end up underachieving with money.

Advertisers reinforce easy-but-insidious ideas to get you to spend your money now. It seems to be working, considering consumers' credit card debt levels — averaging nearly $9,200 per household with credit cards last year, according to — and pitiful savings rates.

Below are excuses people use every day for doing dumb things with their money and suggestions for an attitude adjustment:

  • ''I could die tomorrow, so I'll live for today.'' This the primary excuse for not saving money. The solution is to develop a few financial goals. ''It's very hard to get yourself to not spend money on something today, unless you've thought about what you might want more tomorrow,'' says Jean Chatzky, author of the new book ''Make Money, Not Excuses: Wake Up, Take Charge, and Overcome Your Financial Fears Forever. Only then will you have the willpower to reject spending temptations you face daily.

  • ''I work hard, I deserve it.'' Yes, you have to treat yourself occasionally. After all, enjoying money is one of the few things you can do with it. "You have to realize you can't just be treating yourself well today; you have to be treating yourself well when you're 70,'' Chatzky says, referring to having adequate retirement savings.

  • ''I'm not good at math.'' Chatzky believes anxiety about numbers is real for some people, but managing money doesn't require complicated mathematics. ''We have so many online tools these days to help you, that you really can get a grip on what you've got coming in and going out,'' she says. ''Sometimes, just slowing down and paying attention to where your money is going is enough to get you to change.'' A slew of financial calculators is available at .

  • ''I'm too busy to compare prices or manage money.'' How many people who claim they have no time to manage money know which television housewife is most desperate, who's ''Lost'' on the island and which beau is studying ''Grey's Anatomy'' this week? With easy-to-use personal finance software, the Internet to compare prices, and automatic savings and bill paying, it takes less time than ever to manage money. ''You've got these tools,'' Chatzky said. ''Set them up so it doesn't take you so much time.''

  • ''It's an investment.'' Most consumer purchases are not investments. Investments are supposed to have a chance at being worth more in the future than they are today. Most consumer purchases go down in value, a guaranteed loser of an investment. So you don't ''invest'' in a car, a plasma TV or a new pair of shoes unless somehow they'll make you money. Pacifying your spending guilt by calling them an investment is self-delusion.

  • ''I don't earn enough to save money.'' Saving is not about what you earn, it's about what you keep. Pay yourself first by setting aside a little money, preferably automatically with a paycheck or bank account withdrawal, before you start paying your bills. "In the first month, you'll miss it badly, but by the third month, you'll start to forget about it,'' says Dan Peel, an Itasca, Ill., middle-school teacher and author of ''Greenstuff: The Money Book.", adding that starting with just 5 percent savings is fine, until you can work your way toward 10 percent and higher. ''The bottom line is to put something away, even if it's a tiny bit.''

  • ''People who think about money are greedy.'' Outrageous college costs, and sole responsibility for managing retirement savings is a huge money-management burden. You had better be thinking about money — a lot. ''We have a responsibility to pay for our futures the way no previous generation ever has,'' Chatzky said. ''I don't agree it's greedy. I think it's self-caring and responsible. If we weren't thinking about money and trying to accumulate more of it so that we could handle all of these things, we're being irresponsible.''
More here.

The Afterwork Chronicles is in the News

The Afterwork Chronicles is featured today in an article in the Allentown Times about blogs and their role in getting information to the masses.

Bethlehem City scores grant for Elm Street District revitalization

Bethlehem announced the receipt of a state grant worth $150,000 on Thursday that will enable the city to hire a full-time manager to lead redevelopment in the mostly residential neighborhoods north and west of the downtown historic district.

The grant denotes the official recognition of a state-designated Elm Street district in Bethlehem, something city officials and neighborhood volunteers have been working toward for more than two years.

The grant was announced by Kenneth Klothen, deputy director of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, at a news conference at Ambre Studio, 310 W. Broad St. The new art gallery's director, Evelyn Beckman, was recently awarded the grand prize by Bethlehem Properties of Merit, for the successful restoration of the 120-plus-year-old building that was originally a pharmacy and home.

''This renovated gallery is the kind of place that bridges business districts and residential areas,'' Klothen said. ''We want the neighborhoods adjacent to downtowns to become the kind of places that people want to live in.''

The Elm Street program was launched by the state to help small cities and large boroughs revitalize mixed use neighborhoods adjacent to commercial downtowns.

The state had already committed a $250,000 transportation enhancement grant that will be used to improve the appearance of W. Broad Street from Main Street west to Third Avenue, the gateway to downtown from Route 378.

The city has also committed $100,000 of its federal Community Development Block Grant money to the project, which will include trees, landscaping, new street lights, new widened sidewalks and patterned cement crosswalks.

The state made an initial investment in 2004 of $25,000, which paid for the development of an Elm Street plan. A group of neighborhood volunteers was assembled to watch over the plan's evolution. City Council adopted the 100-page plan in December.

The plan specifically targets Fairview and Friendship parks — now large, unattractive macadam lots — for improvements such as trees, lighting, benches and decorative signs.

The city also could add police substations, organize a farmers market on the north side, print maps with tourist destinations and hang ''Welcome to Bethlehem'' signs.

Mayor John Callahan, who presided at the news conference, said he hopes to establish a facade loan program for homeowners in the district.

The district's boundaries are Fairview and Spruce streets on the north; Prospect Avenue and Broad and Raspberry streets on the south; Pulaski Street on the east; and Sixth Avenue on the west.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Betcha didn't know...

That Easton and Phillipsburg high schools have one of the longest running Thanksgiving Day Football rivalries in the country. They celebrate 100 years this year!

Miracle on 3rd & 4th Streets unveiling this weekend

Bethlehem's Southside Shopping District will be unveiling their tribute to music windows this Saturday. Participating businesses include:
All of these businesses will be having extended hours until 9 p.m. through the holiday season. There will be an open house accompanying the unveiling on Saturday at 7 p.m. And as always, there is free parking nights and weekends on the Southside.

This unveiling coincides with the Northside vendors unveiling of their window display, the 12 days of Christmas.

For more information see our previous post.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Come socialize virtually with NET

In order to give members and non-members another avenue to network, the NET has groups on both myspace and facebook. Check it out. Make sure to invite all your friends!

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For those of you who are a bit overwhelmed by all this technology, you can subscribe to the NET's blog via e-mail here. Just plop your e-mail in the subscription box.

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Last day to sign-up for the Dine Out on Friday!

Today is the last day to sign-up for the NET progressive dine-out on Friday. Sign up soon, as it is filling up fast. Twenty people are signed up already!

Join the NET for a new kind of Dine-Out this November. Wondering what a progressive Dine-out is?

It's a dinner party with a difference - the difference being that individual courses of a meal are held at different locations. What a great way to check out some of the fabulous restaurants in Downtown Bethlehem!

Appetizers and drinks will be enjoyed at Edge Restaurant from 6p.m. - 7p.m., then the NET will move on to The Bethlehem Brew Works for dinner from 7p.m. - 9p.m. Lastly, but certainly not least, the NET will head over to Apollo Grill for some tasty desserts from 10p.m. - 11p.m.

We hope you can make if out for the entire progressive dinner, but if you can only make it for one or two stops, please come anyway! As always, the more the merrier. All members and non-members welcome.

When: Friday, Nov. 17, 6p.m. - 11 p.m.

Where: Edge, Bethlehem Brew Works, Apollo Grill all in Bethlehem

Cost: Pay only for what you eat or drink.

You MUST RSVP to attend this event. Please contact Wendy Gerlach on the NET events website by Nov. 15th if you wish to attend.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

Holiday performances throughout the Lehigh Valley

Nov. 29 - Dec. 23 Christmas City Follies at Touchstone Theater

December 1-16 A Christmas Carol at the Civic Theatre of Allentown

December 7-8 The Nutcracker at Allentown Symphony Hall

December 7-10 Emerald Star: Celtic Holiday Traditions at Scottish Rite Cathedral

December 9-11 Bach Choir of Bethlehem Christmas Concert at the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown

New innovation district sponsored by state

A former AT&T research center in Breinigsville will be part of a state-sponsored innovation district that seeks to foster collaboration between universities, entrepreneurs and communities.

Tek Park is in one of five separate nodes in the Greater Reading Keystone Innovation Zone, the second such district in the state to include portions of the Lehigh Valley. The zone's sub-areas will be concentrated around five educational institutions, including Kutztown University and Albright College in Reading. The Lehigh Valley's first KIZ is in south Bethlehem and includes Lehigh University.

The Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce, which will manage the KIZ, will receive $235,000 in seed money. Most of the money will be used to pay a coordinator a salary and benefits.

The KIZ in the Reading area will focus on several industries, including advanced materials and diversified manufacturing, and food processing. Horan of the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce said the KIZ designation will be ''an attraction tool in and of itself,'' for companies in those fields and others. Companies located the zones receive some tax benefits, and are encouraged to hire area students.

Tek Park is already geared to create some of the dynamics the state wants to encourage. The facility, opened by AT&T as a Bell Labs research center in 1987 and now owned by a private investor, is home to several small tech companies. Kutztown University will open an Innovation Center there, and plans to hold some of its masters of business administration courses there. University officials foresee collaboration with tenant companies on applications for research grants. The companies share common space, and some work in similar industries.

The new bi-county KIZ differs somewhat from the one in south Bethlehem, which is more compact. The one announced Tuesday, by contrast, has five separate zones that stretch from Reading to Breinigsville.

The Bethlehem district was one of the first two announced in the state. It recently unveiled a wireless computer network that includes more than 50 signal access points scattered around the Third and Fourth street business district. The wireless computing system allows students, business owners and visitors to roam around south Bethlehem with laptop computers and handheld devices while maintaining a high-speed Internet connection.

More here.

Lehigh Township increases taxes to help pay for park improvements

Lehigh Township homeowners face a 63 percent property tax increase in 2007 to help pay for parks improvements and badly needed maintenance buildings, supervisors decided Tuesday.

Part of the tax hike would cover debt payments on two projects that total roughly $4 million: creating Delps Road Park, and replacing the township's nearly 50-year-old public works building and its 20-year-old shed for road salt, Township Manager Jeff Bartlett said.

The wooden salt shed has all but collapsed, and the public works building isn't in much better shape. Its garage bays are so small that trucks with snowplows won't fit inside, Bartlett said. Replacing both buildings will cost roughly $2.25 million.

With all supervisors agreeing on that project, the question was whether to also begin work on the 47-acre Delps Road Park.

Creating the park will cost roughly $1.8 million, Bartlett said.

More here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ethnic Eats: New Asian restaurant opens in Easton

Sogo, an Asian fusion restaurant and sushi bar, opened late last month at 237 Northampton St., formerly the Montague Restaurant and Tavern.

Sogo's menu mixes Thai curries and Chinese food with traditional and creative sushi specialties. The name is a contraction of ''so good,'' according to owner Linda Duong.

Duong, who lives in New Jersey, said she went into business here because she perceived a lack of good Asian food in the Lehigh Valley. She's being helped by her brother and business partner, who has an Asian restaurant in Brooklyn, N.Y., and is working at Sogo a few days a week.

''The people really like it so far,'' she said.

More here.

Ethnic Eats will be a regular, weekly feature here at the Afterwork Chronicles.

Bethlehem City Council Prez says support Light Rail

Bethlehem City Council President Michael Schweder on Monday called for transportation officials to scrap plans for the more than $776 million widening of Route 22 and put the money toward passenger rail service to New Jersey.

Schweder said the Lehigh Valley had to do its part to alleviate congestion while keeping in mind the extra emissions a 19-mile widening of Route 22 could produce.

He suggested four things needed to happen: building a rail line that would run through the three cities; finding ways to encourage commuters to leave their cars for mass transit; expanding public and private bus services to take people to the rail line; and increasing those services as the need grows.

Although business leaders and transportation experts say a rail system would be expensive and do little to relieve congestion, Schweder said it is time regional planners consider that wider roads may not be the answer to the region's future.

''I did not support the widening of Route 22 30 years ago [before Interstate 78 was built], and I do not support it now for the same reasons,'' Schweder said at a news conference on the second floor of the Bethlehem Area Public Library. ''We owe this to our environment. We owe this to our children.''

The proposal conflicts with a 2002 Lehigh Valley Planning Commission study that concluded widening Route 22 was the best way to fix highway congestion in the Valley. While elected leaders such as Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan and state Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, have voiced support for the concept of rail, this is the first time someone other than a passenger train advocate has made a public plea to scrap the widening and enlarge public transit.

Easton City Council President Sandra Vulcano issued a news release in support of Schweder's announcement. Schweder's news release indicated Allentown City Council President David Howells Sr. is supportive; however, Howells did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

Schweder does not have cost estimates for a rail line nor a timeline. His next step, he said, would be to meet with the U.S. senators from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In Washington, D.C., on Monday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he already planned to have a discussion with Democratic Sen.-elect Bob Casey Jr. on a proposed railroad line between Scranton and New York City.

Since regular passenger trains to New York City left the Valley in 1961, there has been talk periodically of resurrecting the service. Freeman wrote a 1981 study advocating regional rail service that would run like trolleys through city streets and on their own through outlying areas.

''Every year a group proposes restoring light rail service to the Lehigh Valley and it never flies because of low usage and high cost,'' said Bruce Davis, an organizer of the Route 22 Coalition who is lobbying for money for the Route 22 project. But Davis also said the figure for the 19-mile Route 22 widening — from Route 33 to I-78 — is now closer to $900 million.

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, an advocate for rail service to New Jersey, said it is good that local officials are coming together, but it will be an uphill battle.

''It is going to take a tremendous political will at the state and federal levels to come up with the resources to make that happen,'' Callahan said. ''That's a big hurdle.''

Michael Kaiser, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, sees passenger rail and Route 22 as separate issues. Light rail was rejected in favor of widening because it would be more expensive — one study pegged it at more than $1.5 billion — and would not take enough cars off the Lehigh Valley's portion of Route 22, which carries a lot of local traffic.

Studies show that passenger rail service would carry 3,000 passengers on a given day. Kaiser said 95,000 vehicles pass between the Route 22 intersections at Seventh Street and Airport Road on an average day.

Kaiser said his organization is working with counterparts in New Jersey about congestion issues on I-78, which is a bigger problem in New Jersey. The solutions include widening the road, park-and-ride lots and extending light rail. However, it is not certain rail will be among the recommendations.

This new public support of a light rail system should be good news to young professionals, who along with Renew Lehigh Valley, have made it one of the highest priority goals, and have identified it as key to the redevelopment of the area.

Click here to sign the petition for a light rail system in the Lehigh Valley.

If you are a young professional, show your support for the rail system by saying thank you to the officials who are for a light rail system:
  • Contact Bethlehem City Council President Michael Schweder at (610) 865-7130 or
  • Contact Easton City Council President Sandra Vulcano at (610) 250-6730 or 6731 or
  • Contact Bethlehem City Mayor John Callahan at (610) 865-7100 or
  • Contact Rep. Robert Freeman, D-Northampton
More here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

NET Organizational Meeting - CANCELED

Due to officer scheduling conflicts, November's NET Organizational meeting has been canceled. Please join us for our next Organizational Meeting on Wednesday, December 13 at Wired Cafe in Bethlehem. All members and non-members welcome.

NET Progressive Dine-Out this Friday!

Don't forget to sign up by Wednesday for the NET progressive dine-out on Friday. It's an event not to be missed!

Join the NET for a new kind of Dine-Out this November. Wondering what a progressive Dine-out is?

It's a dinner party with a difference - the difference being that individual courses of a meal are held at different locations. What a great way to check out some of the fabulous restaurants in Downtown Bethlehem!

Appetizers and drinks will be enjoyed at Edge Restaurant from 6p.m. - 7p.m., then the NET will move on to The Bethlehem Brew Works for dinner from 7p.m. - 9p.m. Lastly, but certainly not least, the NET will head over to Apollo Grill for some tasty desserts from 10p.m. - 11p.m.

We hope you can make if out for the entire progressive dinner, but if you can only make it for one or two stops, please come anyway! As always, the more the merrier. All members and non-members welcome.

When: Friday, Nov. 17, 6p.m. - 11 p.m.

Where: Edge, Bethlehem Brew Works, Apollo Grill all in Bethlehem

Cost: Pay only for what you eat or drink.

You MUST RSVP to attend this event. Please contact Wendy Gerlach on the NET events website by Nov. 15th if you wish to attend.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

And the AAA-team name is...


After sorting through thousands of entries in a public naming contest, selecting eight finalists, then waiting for results of online polls and focus groups, the Lehigh Valley's new Triple-A baseball team announced Sunday that the team forever will be known as the IronPigs.

And while team officials, were ecstatic with their selection, fans polled at sports bars on Sunday had a different take on the quirky but memorable name.

''They're calling them the what?'' said Eric Wasser of Allentown, who took his eyes off the Eagles' game at the Mezza Luna Sports Bar & Grill off Airport Road to ponder more important baseball issues.

''That has to be one of the most ridiculous names I've ever heard in my life,'' Wasser said. ''Who would name a sports team after a pig?''

Actually, as Wasser and others learned, the ''pig'' in IronPigs doesn't refer to the much maligned, mud-loving animal, but instead is a reference to the region's rich history producing steel, which is manufactured from pig iron.

The history lesson did little to convince Wasser or most fans at Mezza Luna, or at Rookie's Restaurant & Sports Bar off Tilghman Street in Allentown of the appropriateness of the new name.

This reaction is in addition to a hailstorm of letters to editor which appeared nearly daily in the Morning Call calling the name selections 'dismal' at best.

While most fans took issue with the name or said they needed time to digest it, IronPigs co-owner Joe Finley, a minor league veteran, said he has no doubt what the ultimate reaction will be.

''They're gonna love it,'' said Finley, who also owns the Trenton Thunder and Lakewood, N.J., BlueClaws.

''We went through the same exercise with those teams, and people look at you saying 'Where did that name come from?''' Finley said. ''But both franchises are incredibly successful, and I have no doubt that people here will embrace the team right out of the box.''

Though in the minority, there were several fans at Rookie's who seemed to agree with Finley that IronPigs indeed would win fans over.

''It's strong and sensitive and really represents the area,'' said April Marconi of Northampton. ''At least they didn't name the team something dull like the Phillies.''

What do you think of the new name?


UPDATE: The blogger at Politics: Lehigh Valley Style, a self-proclaimed young professional, has this to say in their post entitled "Iron Pigs? What the Hell!":

"I'm one of the people who is stoked about AAA baseball coming to the Lehigh Valley and I'll probably be one of the people who becomes a regular at the game. I'll own a hat, shirt, and probably a penant that I'll have in my office at work. But the merchandise I buy will have Iron Pigs on it. Listen, I have a sense of humor and recognize that with all the Yocco's I eat and beer I consume, the name isn't out of the question, but for a baseball team. Sigh.

Still, I'll go, I'll watch and I'll cry "SUUUUUU-EY!... here pig, pig, pig" for every big play I watch."