Monday, December 10, 2007

Nominate your favorite home light displays

From very modest beginnings, Bill White's Christmas display tours posted every year in the Morning Call has blossomed into a multimedia production that raises thousands of dollars every year for charity. For many, the tours have become part of an annual holiday tradition - it certainly has in my household.

Bill is again looking for nominations. When possible, include directions. Armed with this information the end result will be a series of mini-tours and photos that are scheduled to run Dec. 21, the last Friday before Christmas.

A few reminders:

Don't hesitate to nominate your own display. This is very common, and in many cases it has kept the best houses from falling through the cracks.

Don't assume a return to a house because it was on the tour last time. New nominations are required every year.

Don't assume a house isn't worth nominating if it wasn't included in the past. The routes change every year, and in many cases inclusion depends on what other displays are nearby and the tastes of that group of judges. What's more, all the nominees run on the Web site.

If there's an interesting story behind the display, tell Bill. He usually writes features on one or two houses over the course of December.

Bill can be reached:

A local and a tourist take on Bethlehem

A friend of mine came into town on Friday to take in the sights and sounds of Christmas City USA. I often take for granted what a beautiful city I work in. I work right downtown at Spark, a full-service advertising, marketing and public relations firm.

For weeks shop owners have been decorating and preparing for the busy holiday shopping season. Beautiful window displays went up, and sprigs of greens were hung from the old streetlights. A few weeks ago, the holiday music began pumping through the street. Slowly foot traffic has increased downtown.

My friend and I started our day with a tasty bite to eat at the Bethlehem BrewWorks. Then we strolled down Main Street stopping here and there along the way, making sure to of course stop at the Moravian Book Shop.

Next we headed into Chriskindlmarkt. We both picked up a few gift items, and I grabbed a couple nice photographs. Then back up the hill to the Christmas Putz at Central Moravian Church. Most of the figurines we were told were made in the 1800s.

With the snow slowly falling, it was a picture-perfect afternoon. I hope you all have time to make it to downtown Bethlehem this holiday season. Most of the shops are open late all week during the season.

Happy Holidays,

Vanessa Williams

NorCo agrees to join regional health department

In a major victory for regional collaboration, the Northampton County Council voted last week to join with Lehigh County in creating a health department serving the entire bi-county area.

The ordinance passed by Northampton County Council authorizes the creation of the Lehigh Valley Board of Health, which will work over the next year to establish a comprehensive plan-also to be approved by County Council--for establishing a Lehigh Valley Health Department.

Now, the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners this coming week takes up its own regional health ordinance, by which it will join in creating a Lehigh Valley Board of Health.

Please consider attending the upcoming meeting of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners: Wednesday, December 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Lehigh County Government Center (Public Hearing Room, First Floor), 17 South Seventh Street in Allentown. The ordinance on regional health is expected to pass easily-all nine Commissioners are co-sponsors-and your attendance not only shows your support for this critical initiative, but also acknowledges the leadership being shown by county officials across the region.

Meeting tonight concerning the fate of Salisbury's Southbury Park

The Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Sierra Club has some deep concerns about the proposed Southbury Park residential subdivision. It's located on 100 acres on South Mountain that has been identified as worthy of conservation by Federal and State Agencies. A Lehigh County judge has already overruled a Salibury Township Commisioners' decision to grant a variance for this development, calling it an "abuse of discretion."

Tonight, at 7 PM, the state DEP will consider a developer request to divert construction activity stormwater right into Trout Creek and Black River. The purpose of tonight's meeting is to solicit public comment and concerns. This meeting will take place at Salisbury Twp. High School Auditorium, 500 E Montgomery St, Salisbury, PA.

Why should you care?

1) Because the highlands of South Mountain are a natural resource that Federal and State Agencies have named as worthy of conservation

2) Because you feel a responsibility toward the inheritance we leave future generations, not just today's privileged interests.

3) Because you're concerned about the potential for more flooding in the area and the degradation of Trout Creek, one of the state's few remaining high quality streams

Luminaria Night This Saturday

New Bethany Ministries will be holding its annual Luminaria Night Saturday, December 15. Thousands of families decorate their walkways and properties with votive candles in Bethlehem and the surrounding communities.

First organized in 1997, the event has grown each year and has now become a fundraiser for New Bethany Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit. Last year 1,600 homes participated, with the lighting of 31,500 luminaries. In 2007 the committee hopes to light 55,000 candles. All proceeds from luminaria kits benefit New Bethany Ministries.

Kits may be purchased at a Bethlehem Municipal Building right by the skating rink. Kits are available today and tomorrow from 4 to 6 p.m. One kit is $10, and every kit thereafter is $5.