Crayola Moving Distribution To Majestic Bethlehem Center

Crayola will shift its distribution operations to the Majestic Bethlehem Center next year, becoming the first tenant for the undeveloped property on former Bethlehem Steel land.

The crayon maker will shutter its distribution centers in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, Bethlehem Township and Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, next year and move into the 800,000-square-foot Majestic facility straddling Lower Saucon Township and Bethlehem, Crayola officials announced Wednesday.

The company plans to employ 60 to 80 workers at the distribution hub, including workers from existing facilities, Crayola spokesman Eric Zebley said.

Mike Perry, Crayola’s CEO and president, labeled the move in part a way to save money and boost efficiency.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-bethlehem-crayola-majestic-bethlehem-center-20120328,0,5754477.story

Budget Crisis In Reading School District

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Reading School District‘s financial picture for next year was painted for the public Monday night – and it’s not pretty.

The district is facing a nearly $53.2 million hole in its proposed budget for the 2012-13 school year, which the district administration presented for the first time to the Reading School Board.

“It is ugly,” said Roger Brubaker, acting district business manager.

It’s so bad that the district might have to consider taking drastic steps – from closing schools, to laying off teachers, to freezing wages, to cutting kindergarten to half-day.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=375711

Daughtry’s Musikfest Show Is Official; ‘American Idol’ Alum To Play Aug. 11

Musikfest announced Thursday what Daughtry‘s fan club had already leaked: The chart-topping, platinum-selling “American Idol” finalist will be one of the headline performers at the festival.

Daughtry will play the main SteelStage at SteelStacks in south Bethlehem at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 11. The festival runs Aug. 3-12.

Tickets, at $34 to $49, go on sale to ArtsQuest members at 10 a.m. Tuesday and at 10 a.m. March 30 to the public at http://www.artsquest.com and 610-332-1300.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/entertainment/music/mc-daughtry-musikfest-announcement-bethlehem-20120322,0,7801843.story

T-Mobile Closing Lehigh Valley Call Center

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lehigh County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This news sucks!

More than 600 people will lose their jobs at the end of June — unless they relocate to other states — when wireless communications company T-Mobile closes its Lehigh Valley call center as part of a company-wide cost-cutting maneuver.

The Bellevue, Wash., company announced Thursday it is closing seven of its 24 call centers in the country, including one on Roble Road in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. T-Mobile also is closing call centers in Florida, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Oregon.

“Concentrating call centers is an important step to achieve competitive cost structures to successfully compete … in the wireless market,” Philipp Humm, CEO and president of T-Mobile, said in a news release. “These are not easy steps to take, but they are necessary to realize efficiency in order to invest for growth.”

The fate of T-Mobile’s Valley call center came in question last year when the company’s bigger competitor AT&T proposed buying T-Mobile for $39 billion. AT&T dropped its T-Mobile bid in December, citing objections from federal regulators who were concerned the deal would limit competition in the wireless industry and potentially increase prices for consumers.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-t-mobile-call-center-closing-20120322,0,5402783.story

Amelia’s To Open Two Stores In Cumru And Muhlenberg Townships

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amelia’s Grocery Outlet plans to open two stores in the Reading area and close its Blandon store.

Michael L. Mitchell, president and chief executive officer, said the New Holland, Lancaster County, company, announced that it expects to open a 20,000-square-foot store in Muhlenberg Plaza, previously occupied by Pet Supply Warehouse, 3260 Fifth Street Highway, Muhlenberg Township, prior to Memorial Day weekend.

At that time, Amelia’s will close its 11,000-square-foot store at 8472 Allentown Pike, Blandon.

Amelia’s also will open a 20,000-square-foot store in subdivided space of the former Weis Markets in Parkside Plaza, Cumru Township, Mitchell said.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=374928

Lancaster County Jobless Rate Drops To 6.3 Percent

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lancaster County unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent in January, a three-year low, the state said Thursday.

The drop from December’s 6.7 percent marked the fourth time in the past five months that the jobless rate here has dipped.

January’s figure is the best here since January 2009′s rate of 6 percent, according to the state Department of Labor & Industry.

Bill Sholly, an industry and business analyst with the department, said he was encouraged to see more county residents with jobs.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/605844_Jobless-rate-in-Lancaster-County-drops-to-6-3-.html#ixzz1pmp8SUos

After Early Bumps, Reading Mayor And City Council Say They’re InTune

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The relationship between Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer and City Council got off to a rocky start, he and council members admitted Tuesday at a Berks County League of Women Voters breakfast.

But now they’re ready to move on to implementing Spencer’s agenda of making the city safer and cleaner, encouraging economic development and getting the finances in order, they said.

“The impression that the president of council and the mayor hate each other is not true,” Council President Francis G. Acosta said. “All of us on council would like to see the mayor succeed and attain his goals.”

About 20 league members attended the event in Calvary United Church of Christ, 640 Centre Ave.

Read more:http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=374259

Enterprising Homeowners Changing The Landscape Of Ailing Neighborhoods Through ‘Blotting

When Buck Harris and his partner, Mike, bought a 145-year-old Italianate house to restore adjacent to Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood two decades ago, the neighborhood ambience included drug shootings and corner prostitutes.

“It was a war zone,” Harris says. “The neighborhood was in dramatic decline at the time. It was known as where you go to get heroin.”

Now, as Harris and other intrepid homeowners have gobbled up the vacant and foreclosed lots surrounding their houses over the years and worked to wipe out drug-related crime, the area has been transformed. Many of the nearly block-long lots, or “blots,” they have created look as if they were lifted from a verdant suburb, with mature trees and a wide expanse of lawn.

Harris’ neighborhood is just one example of how enterprising homeowners are changing the landscape in many depopulated cities, bringing the look of spacious suburbs to abandoned urban neighborhoods.

Read more: http://realestate.msn.com/inner-city-suburbs

Thousands Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Phoenixville

English: Molly Maguires Pub and Restaurant in ...

Editor’s note:  Can you say cha-ching for downtown Phoenixville merchants.  These kinds of regular events are essential for revitalization.  So what happened in downtown Pottstown for St. Patrick’s Day?  Were there hundreds of people celebrating, dozens or just the usual suspects loitering at the clock tower watching the crickets and tumbleweeds roll down High Street?  You say, “But we don’t have an Irish Pub?”  I say, “We could if someone actively recruited more restaurants and stores to fill High Street.”  Marketing, marketing, marketing!

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. — The streets of Phoenixville were filled with the spirit of the Irish Saturday as thousands donned their green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.

The festive mood continued inside of Bridge Street favorite Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant & Pub.

General Manager Neil Bonner said his favorite part of St. Patrick’s Day is being surrounded by good people.

“Everyone comes out just to have a good time and they all get to be just a little bit Irish for a day,” he explained.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120317/NEWS01/120319493/thousands-celebrate-st-patrick-s-day-in-phoenixville&pager=full_story

Harrisburg Leaders Believe Bankruptcy Is Inevitable For City

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Editor’s note:  How very sad that the capital city of this great Commonwealth has deteriorated to this extent!

The Patriot-News Editorial Board met Thursday with City Controller Dan Miller, Council President Wanda Williams and City Treasurer John Campbell.  Below is an excerpt of the conversation.

Q: Where do things stand in the city now?
Dan Miller: We’re going into bankruptcy.  The question is will we have the assets or won’t we have the assets [when we do].  Just because we adopt a plan, that’s not going to solve the problem.  I think [receiver] David Unkovic knows the same thing.

Wanda Williams: I had an opportunity to talk to Jefferson County, Ala., officials last weekend.  They tried to derive a plan there similar to Unkovic’s, but the people were up in arms and they said no, we are not going to allow you to sell our assets.  What you’re going to do is sell our assets and we’re going to be left with nothing, and we’ve been telling Unkovic that.  Where do you derive the revenue from after you sell all our assets?  Now Jefferson County has filed bankruptcy, and the judge is making that determination.  Their assets are safe for the time being. I see this as a ploy — Gov. Corbett has asked [Unkovic] to come in and do a plan, but in the interim, we’re going to be selling assets and filing for bankruptcy.

 Q: How significant was the city’s general obligation default on March 15?
Miller: I suspect we’re not paying any more debt for the rest of the year. I’m not the decision maker, but if you’re not going to pay it now, you’re not going to pay it anymore.  Unkovic is projecting a $9.5 million deficit.  I’m calculating $15 million.  We’re both acknowledging it’s a big deficit for this year.  Our general debt service is about $11 million a year.  Even if you sell the assets, it’s not going to impact the budget. We’re out of money.

Read more:http://www.pennlive.com/editorials/index.ssf/2012/03/harrisburg_leaders_believe_ban.html

Gallery School Of Pottstown Fundraiser Travels To Venice For Carnival

Pottstown, PA - The non-profit Gallery School of Pottstown will hold its signature fundraiser on March 31 from 6 – 9pm at Brookside Country Club in Pottstown.  The theme for Fashion Plates 6 is Carnival in Venice.

This annual fundraiser returns to its roots as an evening, couples-friendly event.  Guests will enjoy amazing food, an unlimited signature cocktail and wonderful entertainment.  Community members will model in a fabulous fashion show, sponsored by Boscov’s Department Stores.  A magician, a harpist and more will entertain guests during the cocktail hour and as they browse the silent auction.  Every guest will also be eligible for fun door prizes.

The food for the evening will begin with an antipasti bar during the cocktail hour.  Guests can enjoy the unlimited signature cocktail, or take advantage of the cash bar.  Dinner will be a deluxe salad bar, a beef station with chef-carved top round of beef, and a pasta station with smoked mozzarella and roasted red pepper ravioli with plum tomato and pesto cream sauce, and penne tossed with sautéed julienne peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and sundried tomatoes in a parmesan marinara sauce.  After dinner, guests can enjoy a variety of delectable desserts.  All proceeds benefit the mission of the non-profit Gallery School: to enrich the lives of the residents in the greater Pottstown area through the visual arts.

This event is generously sponsored by VIST Financial, Unlimited Restoration Specialists, Inc., and Boscov’s Department Stores.  Table sponsors include Boenning & Scattergood, Inc., Independence Planning Group, Heartland Abstract, Inc., Dolan & Mayerson, P.C., Sager & Sager, J.H. White Financial, Creative Health Services and Your Claim to Frame.  Entertainment sponsors include Pete La Rosa Productions; 513 Entertainment; Betsy Chapman, Harpist; and Magical Illusions of Kyle and Kelly.

The Gallery School of Pottstown is a 501c3 non-profit community art school and gallery.  The School offers day, evening and weekend classes to all ages.  The goal of these classes is to help students develop their creative skills through self-expression and independence.  The Gallery on High hosts rotating shows featuring local artists.  The Gallery also sells handcrafted, one-of-a-kind gift items.  The Gallery on High is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am – 4:30pm and Saturday 10am – 3pm.  The Gallery is closed Sunday and Monday.
 
 The Gallery School of Pottstown
@Gallery on High
254 E. High St.
Pottstown, PA 19464
610-326-2506
www.galleryonhigh.org

Game Commission Gives $250,000 To Hawk Mountain For Amphitheater

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The Pennsylvania Game Commission has given Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County $250,000 toward the construction of an amphitheater that will bear the commission’s name.

The 2,500-acre sanctuary in Albany Township welcomes about 70,000 visitors a year and is considered one of the best places in the Northeast to watch the annual autumn raptor migration. It is in the midst of a $10 million capital improvement campaign.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission Amphitheater will replace the current structure, where sanctuary educators present live raptor programs and school and other groups gather.

“The current amphitheater … offers no sheltered stage area and the wooden benches retain moisture,” sanctuary President Jerry Regan said.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-hawk-mountain-ampitheater-20120316,0,1907579.story

Former Rutgers Student Convicted In Webcam Suicide Case

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A former Rutgers University student accused of using a webcam to spy on his gay roommate’s love life was convicted of invasion of privacy and anti-gay intimidation Friday in a case that exploded into the headlines when the victim threw himself to his death off a bridge.

Dharun Ravi, 20, shook his head slightly after hearing the guilty verdicts on all 15 counts against him.

He could get several years in prison — and could be deported to his native India, even though he has lived legally in the U.S. since he was a little boy — for an act that cast a spotlight on teen suicide and anti-gay bullying and illustrated the Internet’s potential for tormenting others.

Prosecutors said Ravi set up a webcam in his dorm room in September 2010 and captured roommate Tyler Clementi kissing another man, then tweeted about it and excitedly tried to catch Clementi in the act again two days later. A half-dozen students were believed to have seen the live video of the kissing.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-rutgers-suicide-verdict-20120316,0,208244.story

The Tavern On Penn Opens In Former Penn Cecil Hotel Location

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From a pizzeria in Rehrersburg to a corner tavern in Spring Township, Michelle Giorgio has made a big leap toward her dream.

Giorgio, who always wanted to own a restaurant along busy Route 422, is the proud owner of The Tavern on Penn, along with her husband, Joseph.

Housed in the former Penn Cecil Hotel in the West Lawn area, The Tavern on Penn opened for business Feb. 17.

The process started, however, in Rehrersburg in March 2011, when the Giorgios decided to sell their pizzeria.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=371745

‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Explores Power And Love, But Also Looks For Fun

Allentown, Pa. (March 12, 2012) — In staging Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” opening March 28 at Muhlenberg College, director Beth Schachter says she is looking for the play’s “critique of power” and its commentary on marriage — but she’s also looking to create a good time.

“This is a play which has a tremendous amount of fun in it,” says Schachter of Shakespeare’s most popular comedy, which was first produced in the 1590s. “The lovers’ plot, and the fairies’ manipulation of the lovers and their affairs, all add up to highly comical miscommunications and misunderstandings. And chase scenes. It’s fun stuff!”

The Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department will present the play, the fifth of its 2011-12 main stage season, March 28 through April 1, in its 100-seat Studio Theatre. Schachter is an associate professor of theater in the department.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” begins with four hopelessly entangled young lovers, adds a royal wedding and some traveling thespians, and then sends everyone off to an enchanted forest, where they get caught in the crossfire between the King and Queen of the Faeries. It’s a story of love, magic, mistaken identity, and Nature gone mad — as well as some of the most enduring poetry the English language has to offer.

Schachter says that much of the spirit of the production comes from the fairies — both their magical qualities and their ethereal dance-like movement.

“The fairies are something that we, in the contemporary world, can be drawn to,” she says. “There’s something still pleasurable, I think, about their ‘hand-made magic,’ and we’re trying to tap back into that pre-modern sense of magic.”

Choreographer Robert J. Wagner, a Muhlenberg alumnus and professional teacher and performer, has worked with the cast to create a vocabulary of movement based on contact improvisation — an approach designed to give the choreography a sense of spontaneity and flight. Schachter has also incorporated contemporary music, to give the audience a more direct association with the characters’ emotions — for example, their discovery of love, and their sense of confusion.

“The songs tap into a sensory experience of the play, which I think that Shakespeare would be after,” Schachter says. “There are hilarious rhymes and even bad rhymes in the fairies’ spells, and Shakespeare obviously enjoyed the clunkiness of off-rhymes. He took pleasure in sound and music.”

On the more serious side, Schachter says she is interested in the play’s critique of power and exploration of freedom. She suggests that power and freedom don’t always correlate as closely as might be expected.

“We go from the highest reaches of power to the lowest reaches, both in romantic relationships and marriage, and in creative pursuits,” she says. “The play explores who has the most freedom, and it turns out that the Mechanicals — the wandering, largely unemployed troupe of part-time performers — have perhaps the most freedom to genuinely create. There is a sense that their imagination does vault them over certain physical limits and power limitations.”

Helping to create the production’s sense of magic will be scenery by set designer Kina Park. Her ambition, she says, is to transport the audience from the present time and place into a timeless realm.

“The set features vibrant colors, oversized flowers and trees, and a hill covered with funky textures to help emphasize the fun and whimsical mood,” Park says. “As in ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ the scale of the object is a key to the magical world. Giant flowers will make the audience feel all of a sudden small, and will help them to be a part of the world of the play.”

Muhlenberg College’s Theatre & Dance Department is the top-rated college performance program in the country, according to the Princeton Review’s 2012 survey report. Muhlenberg is a liberal arts college of more than 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa., offering Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs March 28 to April 1. Performances are Wednesday through Friday, March 28-30, at 8 p.m; Saturday, March 31, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 1, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for patrons 17 and under, $7 for students, faculty and staff of all LVAIC colleges. Performances are in the Studio Theatre, Trexler Pavilion for Theatre and Dance, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown.

Tickets and information: 484-664-3333 or Muhlenberg.edu/theatre

Bethlehem Mayor Announces $56 Million In Development At Former Bethlehem Steel Site

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan on Wednesday announced $56 million of economic development for two projects at the former Bethlehem Steel plant — two buildings that could be used for warehousing or light assembly.

Lehigh Valley Industrial Park VII is negotiating for a 175,000-square-foot facility along Route 412.

Liberty Property Trust has filed plans for an 800,000-square-foot speculative building, one that would be built without a formal commitment from whoever ends up using it.

While Callahan didn’t have any job estimates on that building, he noted that a 1.2 million-square-foot warehouse under way is expected to bring as many as 500 jobs once a tenant is signed.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-bethlehem-state-of-city-callahan-20120314,0,5953407.story

‘American Idol’ Finalist Tweets That He’s Gone

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Editor’s note:  If he wasn’t out, he will be after tweeting that!

Jermaine Jones is apparently out on “American Idol.”

The 25-year-old vocal instructor from Pine Hill, N.J., tweeted Tuesday night that he no longer would be on the Fox singing contest.

He wrote on his official “Idol” Twitter account: “Awww I will no longer b on the show.” The post and Jones’ official “Idol” Twitter account were later deleted.

A Fox spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter or confirm his tweet.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/article/20120314/ENTERTAINMENT03/120319835

Allentown Woman Punches LANTA Bus Driver Over Fare, Police Say

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Editor’s note:  What a class act.  Evidently somebody needs an anger management course.

A LANTA bus driver who challenged a passenger’s claim to a student discount was slugged by the passenger as the vehicle moved from an Allentown bus stop, police said.

Daquasia Kim Ransome, 18, of 513 N. Silk St., Allentown, was arrested Friday after city police used bus surveillance video from the Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority to determine who attacked the driver two weeks ago.

Ransome got on the bus 3:08 p.m. Feb. 27 at Hamilton and Seventh streets, and handed the $1 student rate – half the regular fare – to driver Barbara Rosamilia, police said. An argument began when Rosamilia asked which school Ransome goes to, police said.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-lanta-bus-driver-attacked-in-allentown-20120312,0,2717958.story