Friday, February 02, 2007

NET February Progressive Dine-Out at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley

Join the NET for its Progressive Dine-Out for appetizers, dinner and drinks at Melt, Red Robin and Level3 respectively.

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 the new Promenade Shops!

You MUST RSVP to attend! Please RSVP to by Wednesday, February 14th.

When: Friday, February 16, 7 p.m.

Where: Melt, Red Robin and Level3 at The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley

Cost: $25-35 depending on how much you order.

State awards grants to local businesses who are improving energy efficiency

The grants, awarded under the Small Business Advantage Grant Program, provide a 50-percent match of up to $7,500 for equipment or processes that reduce energy consumption, promote pollution prevention and increase profitability. Since Governor Rendell launched the program in July 2004, more than $2.8 million has been awarded to more than 500 businesses across the state. “Smart energy use is good for business and a key to cleaner air,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said. “Environmental protection can drive economic growth, and the rewards can be especially significant for small businesses.”

The Small Business Advantage grant program is open to small business owners whose business or facility is located in Pennsylvania. An eligible applicant must be a for-profit business enterprise that is a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, sole proprietorship or other legal entity that has no more than 100 employees and is a separate legal business entity at the time the application is submitted.

Lehigh County

Valley Cleaners - $7,500 for upgraded dry cleaning equipment to reduce hazardous waste generation.

Northampton County

6th Street Laundromat Plus - $7,500 for high-efficiency washing machines to conserve energy and water and to decrease wastewater generation.

Panda Dry Cleaners - $7,500 for upgraded dry cleaning equipment to reduce hazardous waste generation.

More here.

Rendell Unveils New Green Energy Policy Not Only Good for the Environment, But Will Save Consumers $10 Billion Over 10 Years

Yesterday, Gov. Rendell released his Energy Independence Strategy. The plan will push Pennsylvania into the top tier of states taking steps to cut consumer energy costs, and significantly expand the alternative fuel, clean energy and conservation sectors.

“This plan will cut Pennsylvanians’ energy bills by $10 billion over the next 10 years,” said Governor Rendell. “It will give us the ability to produce enough homegrown fuel to replace every gallon Pennsylvania currently imports from the Persian Gulf.

The first priority for this new energy initiative is to cut energy costs for Pennsylvania consumers. Electric generation rates can swing wildly during the course of the day and at different times of year. A recent study by PJM, the independent electricity grid operator that covers Pennsylvania, showed that cutting power consumption by just 3-5 percent during peak rate periods saves consumers across the state up to $230 million annually.

  • The creation of a “Pennsylvania Sunshine” program will help residents pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of installing solar panels on their home or small business. At current electricity rates, the average household could save about $600 a year with a 5 kW system, or solar panels that generate about two-thirds of the electricity consumed in the home.
  • Rebates would be provided for customers turning in old, inefficient air conditioners and refrigerators—two of the biggest energy-using appliances in the home—for new models that use at least 15 percent less energy.

Power generators and distributors also are required to invest in conservation first—initiatives that help customers cut energy consumption—rather than in costlier options like building new generation or buying power at peaking rates.

“Investing in conservation is critically important and the alternative is unacceptable,” said Governor Rendell. “Without this initiative, Pennsylvanians will need to build the equivalent of five large nuclear or coal-fired power plants at a cost of over $10 billion to meet our growing demand for electricity over the next 15 years.”

“Every year, Pennsylvanians send some $30 billion out of our state just to buy gas and liquid fuels,” the Governor said. “We need to keep those dollars at home and put our own people to work building our state’s energy independent future.

“I have made a priority of investing in farm land and open space preservation, and I am proud to say Pennsylvania now has the biggest program in the country. But even with this effort, we still lose three acres of farmland for every acre we save. If we give our farmers a chance to grow our energy, we can turn that around and help our farming families while we bolster our energy security.”

The commonwealth is already a leader in the production of renewable fuels, and was named again as the top state use of clean energy on the EPA's Top 25 list. One of the largest ethanol plants in the east will be built in the state, and approximately 340 million additional gallons of ethanol production are planned.

The Energy Independence Strategy will codify the “PennSecurity Fuels Initiative” by requiring that we grow and use one billion gallons of clean and renewable fuels. One billion gallons of biofuel represents about 12.5 percent of all fuel consumption in the state, and by 2017, would equal approximately the amount of fuel Pennsylvanians buy from the Persian Gulf. Instead of spending $30 billion to pay for foreign sources of fuel, more of these funds will be spent purchasing fuel from Pennsylvania’s companies and farmers.

Specifically, the Governor’s initiative would mean that every gallon of gasoline sold in Pennsylvania would include 10 percent ethanol, and every gallon of diesel would include an increasing amount (up to 20 percent) of soy or other renewable oil.

Fighting Global Warming

“I think everyone now understands that you cannot deal with energy policy without addressing global warming,” said Governor Rendell. “It is the largest environmental problem we face and Pennsylvania needs to do something about it.

“The efforts I am announcing today to save energy and produce more clean energy are a good first step, but they are only a first step. In the next 90 days I will present a comprehensive strategy to make Pennsylvania a leader in addressing climate change.”

The Energy Independence Fund

The Energy Independence Fund will be used to support the following clean energy activities:

· $244 million – Household appliance rebates and PA Sunshine Grants

· $106 million - Venture capital, grants and loans for expansion of energy companies

· $500 million - Clean energy projects and development or equipment costs for specific energy economic development projects

The Energy Independence Fund will be capitalized by a systems benefits charge on electric power consumers. Charges of this kind are already in place in 15 states and the District of Columbia. At the rate proposed, Pennsylvania’s charge would be lower than all but two of these jurisdictions.

The systems benefits charge is proposed at $0.0005 per kWh of electricity used (five-hundredths-of-a-cent or .5 mills). This charge would cost the average residential customer 45 cents per month. However, the Energy Independence Strategy as a whole is expected to save consumers nearly 15 times more than the cost of this fee. The average residential customer is expected to save $73 per year.

More here.

Another great turnout for First Thursday

The NET had another great turnout last night at Starter's Riverport. Around 70 people showed up to mingle and unwind with their peers. There was even some starpower, as Mayor John Callahan of Bethlehem made an appearance to show his support for young professionals in the area. His presence goes to show that officials in the area are sitting up and taking notice of the NET and young professionals in the area. Our opinion matters as the Lehigh Valley continues to rapidly develop in our cities and surrounding areas.

In addition, a significant amount of attendees elected to become new dues-paying members of the NET as more and more young professionals realize the value of becoming a NET member. Dues paying members are privy to over one hundred discounts they can use throughout the year, as well as a free subscription to Lehigh Valley Style. Plus they get discounts on great NET events like First Thursday, which is free to all dues paying members.

Don't be a square and miss out on the rest of February's events. Check out the events page for more.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Ethnic Eats: The Olive Branch

The Olive Branch
Broadway, just east of the five points
Southside Bethlehem

Food type: Middle Eastern

From Beyond Scrapple:
"Delicious food, reasonable prices, friendly service and the Turkish coffee make this a staple."

Chocolate Lovers Soiree

An Evening of Sinfully Delicious Chocolate Desserts and Sultry Jazz at the Eastonian Condominiums. Attendees will sample desserts created by local restaurants, bakeries, chocolatiers and caterers. Basic admission price is $10.00 per person, but if attendee presents an Easton restaurant receipt (dated February 10th) or a ticket stub from the State Theatre’s ‘07 Michael Amante show they’ll be admitted for half price.

When: Saturday, February 10th 8:00-11:00pm

Where: Eastonian Condominiums, 140 Northampton St, Easton

Cost: $10

NET Connect: Business Card Exchange

Think a business card exchange sounds to flat and outdated for your business needs? Then you haven't been to the NET's Connect: Business Card Exchange. This isn't the pale, male and stale crowd, this event is your peers, your co-workers, your demographic.

This month's business card exchange will be held at Sette Luna, a traditional Italian restaurant in downtown Easton.

Our Business Card Exchanges are always a great success, with lots of connections made with people from many different industries and professions.

Be sure to bring plenty of business cards! Come alone, bring your friends, introduce someone new to the NET, introduce yourself to someone new. Expand your network...Connect.

Refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by Atlantic Homeloans and The Network of Young Professionals.

When: Thursday, Feb. 15, 7 p.m.

Where: Sette Luna, 219 Ferry St., Easton

Admission: FREE!!

Hey young professionals, where's your favorite date restaurant?

You know the type of place.

Dimmed lights, candles on the small table fit for two, a great menu that's low on the garlic aftertaste, quiet music that adds to the mood and allows you to talk and actually hear your date.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, these places are of utmost importance.

NET suggests these affiliate partners who offer discounts to NET members:
Not a member? Join now.

What are your favorite date restaurants in the Lehigh Valley?

Financial Planning 101: Yet another analyst reminds you to save now for retirement

Carrie Schwab Pomerantz, chief strategist for consumer education at Charles Schwab, offers the following reasons for saving for retirement starting with your first full-time job:

The tax benefits are great. Most grads will fall into the 25 percent tax bracket (roughly $30,000 to $60,000 in annual taxable income). If that's you and you make a $1,000 contribution to 401(k) account, you're only sacrificing $750 of take-home pay. And you won't pay taxes on the money you invest until you withdraw it 30 to 40 years from now.

Many employers offer ''free money.'' They'll match anywhere from 25 percent to 100 percent of your investment into a 401(k) account. That means you can turn each dollar you invest into up to $2. Never turn down free cash.

Time is on your side. Even if you invest a small amount now, it can become a substantial asset with the passage of 30 or 40 years. As Schwab puts it, ''The power of compounding puts a premium on starting young.''

So hop to it!

Average Joe can use renewable energy too says Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association

Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (MAREA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to informing and educating the public on renewable energy production, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through meetings, workshops, educational materials, and energy fairs.

Fellow blogger LVDem reports on Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association Meeting:

"MAREA is a remarkable organization because they really do see themselves as educators. One member remarked after the lecture that the goal was to demonstrate that renewable energy is something that the average joe can do. MAREA furthers this mission every fall when it hosts its annual Renewable Energy Fest, which is now entering its 3rd year. The first year, as predicted, was small. Last year’s raised a significant amount of cash for the organization. Year three promises to be a big time affair."

Highlights from the Top 25 Partners in Green Energy as listed by the EPA

The EPA just released Top 25 Partners in the Green Power Partnership whose annual green power purchase is the largest nationwide for this quarter. Their actions are helping drive the development of new renewable energy sources for electricity generation. Combined, these purchases amount to almost 4.4 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, which is approximately 60 percent of the green power commitments made by all Partners. These Top 25 Partners provide an example to their peers, customers, and community.

Highlights include in order of kWh:

  • Wells Fargo & Company, 42% green energy
  • Whole Foods Market, 100% green energy
  • Starbucks, 25% green energy
  • Staples, 20% green energy
  • University of Pennsylvania, 29% green energy
  • Safeway Inc., 2% green energy
  • Pennsylvania State University, 20% green energy
  • Kohl's Department Store, 8% green energy
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 8% green energy
More here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Betcha didn't know...

Allen Organs, in Macungie, is the largest builder of church organs in the world.

NET Organizational Meeting

This is when we discuss the business side of the NET. Have a good idea? Want
to volunteer? Have questions? Please attend to discuss.

All Members and non-members welcome.


When: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Wired Cafe, 520 Main Street, Bethlehem 18018

Admission: FREE!!

New financial aid available to graduate students

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA for the 2007-08 academic year became available this month, and students may apply for aid until June 30, 2008.

But some colleges require a FAFSA be submitted by early spring in order to be considered for a school's in-house pool of grants and loans. States that dole out rewards may have deadlines as early as March 1.

this year graduate students will be eligible for even more federal aid. The cap on Stafford loans, the most common federal loan, originated on July 1 or later will rise to $20,500 per academic year from $18,500. If that amount doesn't cover the bill, students can take out a Graduate PLUS loan, once available only to parents.

You can borrow up to the full cost of your education, minus other aid received, as long as you're not 90 days late on any other debt obligation and you haven't discharged a student loan through bankruptcy in the last five years.

The U.S. Department of Education, which administers the FAFSA, said it generally takes less than an hour to complete an application online. And applications received electronically are processed as much as two weeks quicker than paper versions sent by mail.

Gather tax data. To fill out the FAFSA, you'll need information about your 2006 personal income tax obligation. So it's easier to complete the form if you've already done your tax return.

If you're coming up on a school or state deadline, you can make do with your 2006 Form W-2 or Form 1099, which you receive this time of year from employers (the W-2) or jobs where you worked as a freelancer or contractor (the 1099).

More here.

Radon Kills: Check your home now officials warn

In Lehigh and Northampton counties, 40 percent of homes are believed to contain unsafe levels of radon, which, according to the EPA, is 4 or more picocuries per liter of air. The cancer risk from that level is about the same as smoking half a pack of cigarettes every day.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the nation behind smoking, leading to 15,000 to 22,000 deaths each year. As a way of bringing attention to this health concern, the Environmental Protection Agency has named January National Radon Action Month, placing public service ads on billboards, radio and TV.

Home test kits cost $15 to $30 and can be purchased at a hardware store or private laboratory. Typically, a canister is put in the basement or the lowest level of a house for a day or two, and its charcoal filter absorbs the radon. It's then mailed to a lab, and results are sent to the homeowner and the DEP.

Private companies charge about $150.

Some people don't believe radon poses a health risk or prefer to ignore the problem.

'There will always be skeptics,'' Bill Brodhead of WPB Enterprises Inc. said. ''Twenty-five percent of the population still smokes. If you don't 'get it' about smoking, how are you going to 'get it' about radon?''

Pennsylvania doesn't require people selling their homes to conduct a radon test, but if they've had one done, they're required to disclose the results to potential buyers. A buyer also may request a test, and typically the seller pays for any remediation.

More here.

Convenient walk-in clinic trend comes to the Lehigh Valley

At King's Market in Allentown, shoppers can not only pick up a quart of milk and carton of eggs but also park their carts to get a lab test, medical diagnosis or treatment for anything from pink eye to strep throat.

The Geisinger Health System, based in Danville, Montour County, on Thursday opened a Convenient Care Clinic in Aisle 2 of the grocery store for shoppers to get tested and treated for a variety of common illnesses and injuries, such as colds, earaches and minor sprains.

More here.

Easton block watch kicks off new year

The block watch is seeking volunteers to serve as Sector 5 coordinators on College Hill.

About 40 block watch members, plus several police officers and elected officials including Easton District Justice Gay Elwell and Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli attended the meeting.

Police Chief Larry Palmer also reviewed about 15 of the department's major goals for this year, including the installation of mobile data terminals in vehicles and a graffiti removal program.

He said the department is still seeking residents to volunteer as members of the Volunteer In Police Service unit to assist the department with clerical and other duties, such as documenting the locations of graffiti to be removed.

More on block watches and why to participate.

Point person created for Allentown in LV Chamber

The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce has tapped Easton's former director of Community and Economic Development to be its point person in Allentown.

Miriam Huertas, 51, a 17-year Allentown resident who spent nearly three decades with PPL, finishing her career there as economic development director in 2002, will become the Chamber's vice president for Allentown initiatives, coordinating citywide business promotion efforts.

She said she wants to bring more businesses to the city, add members to the Allentown Business Council and revive the Chamber's downtown merchants association. She also said she hopes to do more special events promotions.

''In center city there is certainly the opportunity to add businesses,'' Huertas said.

One of her first jobs probably will be to lead the effort to assess reviving the Downtown Improvement District Authority — which collected a levy on downtown property owners in order to promote, maintain and secure the central business district and was disbanded in 2003.

More here.

New to the Lehigh Valley and started a new job? Tax breaks are in your future.

Were you one of the 25 million tax-paying Americans who changed homes in 2006? If so, you might be due big tax savings. Your household moving expenses can be deducted as an adjustment to gross income.

Deductible expenses include any direct household moving costs, such as hiring a moving van, shipping expenses, moving insurance, and airline, train or bus fare to your new city. If you drive, you can deduct gasoline and oil bills. The cost of lodging en route (but not meals) is also deductible.

To qualify, however, you must have also changed your job location last year. You could have started work with a new employer or even just switched locations for the same employer. If you became self-employed or started your first job, you are also eligible. It must be full-time work.

Your new job site must be at least 50 miles farther away from your old home than was your old job location. So if you lived five miles from your old job in your old home, the new job must be 55 miles (five miles plus the required 50) from your old home.

The other rule requires that you reside in the area of your new job and work full time for at least 39 weeks out of 52 after you change homes. Self-employed? You must have worked in the vicinity of your new job full time for 78 weeks out of 104 after moving.

Once you are sure you're eligible, you can file an amended return on IRS Form 1040X and claim the deduction then.

More here.

The Clock is Ticking: Join NET Now!

Don't miss out, once January ends, you will no longer be able to purchase a NET membership at $27. Join the many new members who have joined NET this month.

Those individuals that join or renew their membership in January will receive a 10% off the current membership dues of $30
. Click here to take advantage of this offer.

Already a dues-paying member? No problem. The current dues-paying member who refers the most individuals to sign up for membership in the month of January, will receive one year of NET membership for free. Just have your friends put your name in the appropriate field.

NET membership is the key to NET’s fantastic social, educational, and cultural events. In the past year, we’ve had political roundtables, professional development seminars, community volunteer opportunities, and recreational outings. And of course, we’ve hosted lots of social events including our regular First Thursdays, which are free for NET members.

In addition, the NET membership card is a gateway to discounts at businesses throughout the Lehigh Valley. We currently have over 100 participating businesses, and with our aggressive new campaign, that number is rapidly growing.

Local merchants, insurance companies, theaters, and restaurants all recognize that suave little card and those who carry it. Click here for the most up-to-date listing. With only a handful of uses, through these discounts the NET membership card easily pays for itself.

Our newest Affiliate Member, Lehigh Valley Style, will be providing a free subscription to all NET members.

As a dues-paying member, you are able to vote in NET elections, run for the NET officer positions, and serve as committee chair. To find out more on how to become further involved in the NET come to our next organizational meeting.

Most importantly, your membership fee helps fund the NET, making all that we do possible.

Global Warming in the news again

A double whammy was issued to the naysayers of global warming today.

Dramatic Global Warming Effects Could Be Seen in as little as 10 Years

A major new report on global warming slated to be released Friday raises new fears that the earth's climate is changing faster than anyone thought possible.

Today, 500 of the world's top scientists are meeting behind closed doors to finish a landmark report on global warming, and the picture they paint is not pretty. They say significant changes in the climate could start happening within the next 10 years.

"We're hoping that it will convince people, you know, that climate change is real," said Kenneth Denman, co-author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Democrats investigate claims the Bush administration suppressed global warming science

Today, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the Democratic congressman who took on big tobacco will confront the Bush administration on allegations that it has suppressed global warming science.

The House Government Reform Committee will hear from government scientists who will testify that their work on global warming was distorted or suppressed by the Bush administration. This morning's hearing on global warming is just one of many investigations and actions that the new Democratic Congress is conducting regarding President Bush and his administration.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Friday Jazz Concert at Connexions

This quartet of New Yorkers plus Jack (right here in Easton) has the traditional instrumentation of a jazz group, and with musicians often associated with jazz, but pushes beyond the limits of that genre. They have been playing in various formations over several years, going back to some duo playing of Jack and Nate when they both lived in Colorado in the late 90's. This will be the first in a series of concerts taking the group also to Phila. and DC.

When: Friday, Feb. 2 at 8 p.m.

Where: Connexions Gallery, 215 Northampton St., Easton

Cost: Donation

How to Build a Net Zero Energy Home Seminar

Jackie O'Neil will share her story of how she built the first two U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Certified Gold homes in the United States using state-of-the-art energy modeling that also employ healthy materials and sustainable use of resources and landscaping. She will share some lessons learned and cost benefit analysis.

When: Thursday, February 1, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Lehigh Cement Office, 7660 Imperial Way, Allentown

Cost: $20 pre-registered, $25 at the door

Register here.

Sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Green Builders Forum and Delaware Valley Green Building Council.

FREE Organization Seminar

Colleen Warmingham, professional organizer from Space Inventors, will provide tips for getting organized in 2007.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Home & Planet, 25 E. Third St., Bethlehem

Cost: FREE!!

Sponsored by the Sustainable Business Network - Lehigh Valley.

FREE First Time Homebuying Seminar Tomorrow Night

At this workshop you'll learn the fundamentals of financing your first home from Wells Fargo home Mortgage consultants and other information from local real estate experts. Receive a free first-time homebuyer guide to help you start home ownership. Based on David Bach's Automatic Millionaire Homebuyer.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Grace Realty, 2299 Brodhead Road, Bethlehem

Cost: FREE!!

Contact Eileen Dunn at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage at 610-997-5602 to attend.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

February 19th Street Film Series

February 5 - 7:30 p.m.
The Aura

February 12 - 7:30 p.m.
Our Daily Bread

Where: 19th St. Theatre

Cost: $7, or $5 any Tuesday night movie for NET members.

Not a member? Join now.