Saturday, April 07, 2007

Free Fly Fish Casting Clinic

Always wanted to try fly fishing but didn't know how? Want to perfect your casting? Join Trout Unlimited for this free clinic. Please bring your own rod, otherwise equipment can be provided.

Sponsored by Trout Unlimited - Hokendauqua Chapter

When: Saturday, April 21st, 9:30 a.m.

Where: Lake Muhlenburg, Cedar Creek Parkway, Allentown

Cost: FREE!!

Contact: Art Williams at

Friday, April 06, 2007

Join the NET Team for the American Lung Association Asthma Walk for Life

Join NET's team "Network of Walkers" and Blow the Whistle on Asthma. Take a short walk to support the over 24 million Americans who suffer from Asthma. Together we can make a difference. Please contact Jaclyn to sign-up. Team page.

When: Sunday, April 22, 9 a.m.

Where: Bob Rodale Fitness Park, Mosser Road, Trexlertown

Cost: FREE

Contact: Jaclyn Treichler at

Seminar: The Impact of Gender on Leadership Style and Effectiveness

The one-day leadership seminar where you can learn the characteristics of the valley's most successful leaders —from the leaders themselves. More.

When: Monday, April 16, 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Where: Mountaintop Campus, Lehigh University, Bethlehem

Cost: $595, discount for NET members. Not a member? Join now.

NET April Dine-Out at Pearly Baker's Alehouse

Join the NET for its monthly Dine-Out at Pearly Baker's Alehouse in Easton. Pearly's taproom boasts a gleaming 40-foot Vermont marble/mahogany bar.

In the center of the vibrant blush and chartreuse dining room, the original 1940's crystal chandelier casts a warm glow for intimate casual dining. American food served up with style.

Please RSVP to by Wednesday, April 18.

When: Friday, April 20, 7 p.m.

Where: Pearly Baker's Alehouse, 11 Centre Square, Easton, PA

Cost: $15-35 depending on how much you order. NET members receive a 10% discount.

Contact: Wendy Gerlach at

Beginner Wine Tasting Class

Learn more about wine in a fun and casual atmosphere. Join Clover Hill Winery and learn tips and techniques on how to taste and purchase wine.

When: Saturday, April 21, 3-4:30 p.m.

Where: Clover Hill Winery, Breinigsville

Cost: $20

Reservations required. Please call 610-395-2468.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ricketts Glen Hike POSTPONED - Now at Lehigh Gap Wildllife Refuge

Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge hike with AMC's Young Members

NET members join the Appalachian Mountain Club's Young Members (self describe as 21-39ish) for a hike at the Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge. The LNE Trail provides beautiful views of the Lehigh River below, along with the vistas to the east and north across the river. It also provides wonderful views of the warm season grass re-vegetation test plots all along the mountainside. As you progress on the trail towards the western end of the refuge you move into the hardwood forest area that was undisturbed by the zinc smelting pollution that degraded the area of the test plots. The steepness of the mountainside in this area affords tree top observation on the river side of the trail, a real plus during the spring and fall bird migration.

For further information and copy of trail map visit:

When: Saturday, April 7th, 10 a.m.

Where: Lehigh Gap Nature Center HQ (Osprey House) at Lehigh Gap Wildlife Refuge

Cost: FREE

Contact: Jay Min at

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 event will be held at Ocean, a trendy, tapas restaurant in Easton.

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

Light appetizers and refreshments will be provided.

Sponsored by Atlantic Home Loans and The Network of Young Professionals.

When: Thursday, April 19, 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Where: Ocean, 235 Ferry St., Easton

Admission: FREE

Contact: Abraham Nemitz at

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Quakertown dog park proposed

Quakertown dogs soon may be free to cast off their leashes and run around sniffing whatever they want -- at least within boundaries.

Borough leaders in the coming months will look into setting aside parkland specifically for pooches and the people who love them.

Councilman David Zaiser, who raised the idea this week, said having such a dog park could be an important social outlet.

''It's a good idea for dog owners to be able to get to know dog owners and have a fenced-in area for dogs to be able to run free,'' he said.

The idea isn't all about appeasing dog lovers, either.

Zaiser -- a confirmed cat person -- said dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets leave the worst kind of deposit in local parks.

''It's hard to walk around some of the parks because of dog waste,'' he said. ''A dog park encourages someone to pick up after the dogs.''

Quakertown leaders plan to let a new park planning committee examine the idea. That committee, which is being formed primarily to determine how to fold the old Krupp foundry property into the borough's park system, isn't expected to start meeting until next month.

Jim Thorpe trail has some roadblocks

The trail would connect the recently repaired Nesquehoning Trestle at the Lehigh Gorge, which is now open to bike and walking traffic, to downtown Jim Thorpe.
The county applied for a $360,000 Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant. The county expected to match 20 percent, or $72,000. Commissioner Chairman William O'Gurek said the county now is expected to match 50 percent of the grant, or $180,000.

Also holding back the trail project is the question of right-of-way. O'Gurek said bikers and hikers who cross the Nesquehoning Trestle are technically trespassing on land owned by Frank Foster. O'Gurek said neither DCNR nor the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, the lead agency behind the project, ever got an easement to cross Foster's property.

O'Gurek said he would not recommend that people use the repaired railroad bridge because of the legal issue.

Commissioners said they don't anticipate work on the trail until 2008.

Tamaqua to get $400,000 Elm Street Grant

Tamaqua's South Ward, a hillside, working-class neighborhood of mostly older homes, two schools and a community college campus, will get $400,000 to build a community center and make residential renovations as part of a state program to strengthen older residential areas near downtowns.

The grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development includes $250,000 for the projects and $150,000 to cover costs of running the program.

The projects include $80,000 to establish the South Ward Neighborhood Center office at the playground, $90,000 to build a pedestrian stairway to connect Spruce and Van Gelder streets, money to demolish a dilapidated home near Spruce and Hunter streets, and $35,000 to start a program to improve residential facades, borough Councilman Micah Gursky said.

Gursky said residents also will be able to get up to $5,000 to improve the facades of their homes.

The South Ward is home to Tamaqua Area High School and Middle School and Lehigh Carbon Community College's Morgan Center campus, which opened in 2004.

The South Ward Neighborhood Committee began working toward getting included in the program in September 2005. Air Products Inc. of Trexlertown gave the committee $25,000 as seed money to develop a plan, and the state Department of Community and Economic Development matched it.

The borough contributed $40,000 in Community Development Block Grants, and local residents chipped in $2,000.

Kathy Kunkel, chairwoman of the neighborhood committee, said the work was filled with ''roadblocks and stumbling blocks,'' but she was optimistic about the future.

''The best is yet to come,'' she said.

State Rep. David Argall, a Republican whose 124th District territory includes Tamaqua, said the Elm Street program complements the state-sponsored Main Street program well. Tamaqua has used the Main Street program to make many improvements to its downtown.

''We need healthy neighborhoods surrounding downtown,'' said Argall, the House majority whip.

State Sen. James Rhoades, R-29th District, who also represents Tamaqua, said the program should improve the quality of life in the neighborhood.

''This funding should provide more residents with the chance to live and raise a family in a safe, pleasant environment,'' he said.

State Rep. Robert Freeman, D-136th District, introduced legislation to create the Elm Street program and attended the ceremony. He said South Ward reminds him of neighborhoods in his hometown of Easton.

''This is the type of neighborhood I had in mind when I thought of the Elm Street program,'' Freeman said.

Elm Street was created as part of a $2.8 billion state economic stimulus package. More than $20 million has been awarded to 111 projects.

Green charter school being explored in Emmaus

The idea came to Pana Columbus one day while envisioning the world her 9-month-old daughter will grow up in.

What's the best thing we as parents can do for our children? asked the Allentown native, who moved to Emmaus with her husband, Scott, a year ago and opened a local theater company.

The answer was all around her.

''The environment kept coming up,'' Columbus said.

It led the couple, along with Rob Aptaker, to form an exploratory committee that will hold a meeting at 7 tonight in hopes of founding the Lehigh Valley's first green charter school in the East Penn School District.

''We just want it open in time for our daughter when she goes to school,'' Scott Columbus said jokingly, though months of work lie ahead before an application would reach the East Penn School Board, which would have to approve the plan.

A green charter school has an environmental focus with a curriculum, faculty and learning atmosphere that reflects understanding and respect for the health of the planet and all living things.

The couple's Circle of Stones Ritual Theater Ensemble of Emmaus has produced plays with environmental and sustainability themes. They have long seen the value of teaching children Earth-friendly lessons that can be carried into adulthood, they said.

With scientists acknowledging the effects of global warming and more attention on solar energy and alternative fuels, the group is sensing a green school would have broad appeal to young families living in and moving to Emmaus.

After tonight's initial meeting, the group plans to visit other green schools such as the Wissahickon Charter School, which opened in 2002 in Philadelphia. The school focuses on active and service learning centered on academic activities.

So far, the vision for the Emmaus school is to have a curriculum that would allow students to learn and practice natural resource management, Earth stewardship, organic gardening, Earth-friendly consumer skills and ways to reduce environmental degradation and global warming.

''They will have an understanding of how nature works and their relationship to it,'' Pana said. There will be an awareness of the principal challenges of the future,'' she said.

Aptaker, an Allentown resident who contracts with the Philadelphia School District to bring American Indian history into classrooms, said he's just beginning the daunting, slow process for starting the charter. He's hoping people will join the committee so he will have the necessary applications and documents filed by the end of the year.

''We want to start following a model of thinking globally and acting locally,'' he said. ''Not by just talking about it, but doing it.''

Charter school applications must be submitted to the district in which the school would be located by Nov. 15. The school district must review the application, hold public hearings within 45 days, and make a decision within 77 days of the hearings. If a charter application is not approved, the applicant may appeal to the state Charter Appeals Board.

Give a socially responsible Easter basket

Heifer International gives livestock to impoverished families around the world. By purchasing an Easter livestock basket, you will provide nourishment and income for families in need to help them create a sustainable future. In this season of new beginnings, help a family in need get a fresh start.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Going Local: Strategies for building a Sustainable Lehigh Valley

An evening with Michael Shuman author of The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition. Refreshments and networking before and after the 7 p.m. presentation. Book signing at 8 p.m.

When: Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Where: Historic Hotel Bethlehem, 437 Main St. Bethlehem

Cost: FREE

Contact: 484-358-1200,

Betcha didn't know...

That Just Born, located in Bethlehem, is known all over the world for their cute marshmellowy Peeps.

Have a carnival or block party in your neighborhood?

NET would like to create a larger presence in the community. Do you have a carnival, block party, or bazaar in your neighborhood? If you would like to man a table at a community event please contact Vanessa at

Details to include are:
  • Date of event
  • Fee for table/space if any
  • Permits needed if any (food etc.)
  • Power capability

We can work together to host a bake sale, children's face painting, or a duck pond game. Or if you have your own idea, we'll make it happen.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Easton South Side Civic Group wants you, young professionals

The Easton South Side Civic Association is looking for new members and new leadership as it begins another rebuilding phase in its more than 60-year history.

The neighborhood organization has launched a publicity campaign to try to attract South Side residents to this month's meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 610 Berwick St.

The meeting will include the election of officers and a brainstorming session to set the association's agenda, according to member Melody Rogers.

''We just want to get everyone's idea on how to make South Side a lot better and how to attract the younger people to want to do things,'' Rogers said.

Michael Plummer has stepped down as president after four years.

''It's time for somebody else to carry the ball,'' said Plummer, who will continue to be a member but has decided to take a break from the leadership role.

Rogers has been rallying residents to re-energize the organization by targeting some of the South Side's new residents.

''We just want new blood in there,'' Rogers said. ''It's been active since the 1940s, but people who just moved into the neighborhoods don't know about the South Side Civic Association.''

Rogers said all residents and elected officials are invited to the meeting, and she can be be contacted at 610-253-5512.

When: Tuesday, April 2, 7 p.m.

Where: St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 610 Berwick St., Easton

Contact: Melody Rogers, 610-253-5512

With new parks director, Allentown begins work on master plan

Damien Brown reports:

Fellow blogger and neighbor Mike Drabenstott sent me a link to The Allentown Parks & Recreation Master Plan after briefly meeting with Allentown's new Parks, Recreation, and Trails Director, Greg Weitzel. It appears Mr. Weitzel is a highly experience mover and shaker who has what it takes to make this plan a reality.

The plan Mr. Weitzel will be using as a guide is very comprehensive and includes a detailed analysis of all of Allentown's parks. Hundreds of details listing each park's assets and opportunities for improvement are included. Suggestions for improvements vary from new lighting and fencing to joint regional ownership and funding opportunities.

One of the most interesting aspects of the plan is a proposal to connect all of the city's larger parks with a network of biking and walking trails. This trail network would allow all sections of the city to be interconnected through Allentown's park system while connecting to the Lehigh/Delaware National Historic Corridor trail providing access to trails for over a hundred miles north and south of Allentown.

Click here to view The Allentown Parks & Recreation Master Plan.

Financial Planning 101: 401(k) vs. Roth 401 (k)

More and more employers are offering workers the option to save for retirement using a Roth 401(k), a hybrid between a regular 401(k) plan and a Roth IRA. Made permanent by Congress in 2006, the Roth 401(k) allows employees to make contributions with after-tax dollars. There's no tax deduction upfront, but the account grows tax-free.

The payoff comes when it's time to use the money: The employee can make withdrawals during retirement tax-free, as long as he or she is 591/2 and has held the account for five years or more. In most cases, the Roth 401(k) gets you a better deal than a traditional 401(k).

What's more, you can put more away with a Roth 401(k) than you can with a Roth IRA. (The 2007 contribution limit for the Roth 401(k) is $15,500, $20,500 for those 50 or older by the end of the year. Compare that with the 2007 Roth IRA limits, which are $4,000 a year or $5,000 for those 50 or older.)