Tuesday, October 13, 2015
5:30pm – 7:30pm

Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts
321 E. Third Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015

Together, let’s ACT

FREE for Members of the Arts Council & Grant Recipients
$10 Nonmembers & Guests
Refreshments & fellowship provided

To purchase your tickets online, click here!


Premiere Sponsors: PPL & Gross McGinley, LLP

How Would You Like To See Your State Tax Dollars Spent?

Randall ForteArts advocacy requires an ongoing conversation with both our elected and appointed government officials. Since negotiations for the state budget have stalled, it’s time for citizens to help to set priorities. Let the Commonwealth’s current budget impasse prompt you to contact them and remind them with a personal story of how much the arts mean to you and your family.

A father wrote to me about the sensory-friendly performance of a children’s play attended by his child with autism. They thanked Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre for their effort to understand the daily challenges faced by families like theirs. “Our son may not have the chance to do so many things in life that others do,” they said. “It was a very special day.”

A thriving arts community does not exist in isolation. While engagement in the arts affects people in deeply quiet ways, the arts experience can unite us around shared values:

  • We believe that everyone in the Lehigh Valley deserves access to our rich diverse arts culture.
  • We take pride in locally produced arts experiences; they are integral to the region’s cultural infrastructure.
  • We realize that the arts are essential to our economic vitality and quality of life.

The Lehigh Valley is the third largest region in the state; it deserves recognition and its equal share of reallocated state tax dollars. An individual story sends a powerful message. Many stories command attention.

Randall Forte
Executive Director, Lehigh Valley Arts Council

As Scranton Parking Garage Costs Soar, Demolition An Option

Maintaining Scranton’s five parking garages would cost $26 million over 40 years, while demolishing one or two of the older structures that need significant repairs could drop that figure substantially, according to a new analysis.

A June 3 report by Chicago-based consultant Desman Design Management titled “Parking System Due Diligence Market and Revenue Analysis” is the latest step in Mayor Bill Courtright’s plan to unload the Scranton Parking Authority’s five parking garages — Medallion, Casey, Connell, Electric City and Linden.

The aim is to “monetize” through privatization, either leasing or selling, the authority’s underused, high-debt parking garages that have 2,659 spaces, as well as the 1,479 city-owned parking meters. The goal is to reduce the amount of SPA debt the city guarantees and covers in annual bailouts.

The authority retained Desman to assemble various elements of the parking system for evaluation by potential bidders on a lease or sale.

Read more:

Wilkes-Barre To Become Owner Of Hotel Sterling Site Today

Wilkes-Barre will become owner of the long-troubled Hotel Sterling site today, which is expected to provide the stability needed to attract a significant project at the landmark site.

CityVest, the nonprofit group that unsuccessfully tried to redevelop the hotel that once stood there, also has formally dissolved, its attorney said.

The Sterling’s unresolved ownership ended up before Luzerne County Senior Judge Joseph Augello this morning because CityVest filed a brief asking the court to oversee disbursement of its assets.

CityVest had obtained state approval to dissolve because it is out of funds and not pursuing more projects, said CityVest attorney George A. Reihner.

Read more:

Leighton Asks Wilkes-Barre City Council To Approve Hiring Of Four Full-Time Police Officers

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Fifteen officers have been added to the Wilkes-Barre Police Department since Mayor Tom Leighton took office in 2004.

At Tuesday’s work session, Leighton asked Wilkes-Barre City Council to consider four more.

Leighton requested authorization to apply for a grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program to hire four full-time officers. If the resolution and grant request are approved, the hires would bump the number of officers in the city’s ranks from 83 to 87.

The Wilkes-Barre Police Department had 68 officers when Leighton was elected in 2004.

Read more:

Comparing Towns: Norristown Police Tactics Focus On Community

Editor’s note:  The difference is that when Norristown searches for new employees, they actually hire the best qualified people instead of just moving people up and perpetuating the same bad policies like Pottstown (under the guise that Pottstown is so complicated nobody could come in and “figure it out” in less than a couple years).  Sorry, new ideas are needed.  Congrats to Norristown for being proactive and embracing change. Apparently, it’s working!

Pottstown and Norristown are the two largest urban areas in Montgomery County and share many of the same challenges, particularly when it comes to crime.

In the wake of the wave of violence in Pottstown which culminated in last month’s arrests of more than 30 people involved in an apparent gang war, a community meeting about crime was held recently in Norristown that focused on what police and authorities are doing now, and how citizens can help.

Norristown Police Chief Mark Talbot Sr. has been asking that question since he took over leadership of that department two years ago, and he’s starting to see answers get results.

In the last two years, major crimes in Norristown have dropped by 20 percent.

Read more:

Council, Mayor Agree On Rules To Make Philly Developer-Friendly

A City Council committee on Friday moved forward a bill that would make Philadelphia more developer-friendly, and another to force earlier disclosure of money spent by super PACs during elections.

The development bill progressed after months of wrangling. If approved by Council and later by voters, it would create a cabinet-level department to take over functions now handled by a host of bodies that include the Planning Commission, Historical Commission, Housing Authority, Art Commission, and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who introduced the legislation in September, said the new Department of Planning and Development would create efficiencies. During Friday’s hearing, he called the long revision process well worth it.

“It gave us an opportunity to not only come up with what I believe is personally a pretty good conclusion, but it gave us the ability to understand that this is going to be a working document,” he said.


It’s Official: Wilkes-Barre City Council Approves Agreement To Revitalize Public Square

WILKES-BARRE, PA — The first hurdle is cleared.

Wilkes-Barre City Council on Thursday unanimously voted to enter into an agreement for the rehabilitation of Public Square. Once the deal is signed, the National Resource Network — a federal organization that aids cities facing economic hardship — will begin the process of securing a capital funding plan for the project.

The agreement was approved 4-0. Councilman Bill Barrett was excused from the meeting.

The National Resource Network will not fund the construction but will assist city officials in securing the project’s funding through both private and public revenue sources. The $66,000 agreement will require a 25 percent match, or $16,500.

Mayor Tom Leighton said the agreement will be signed Friday.

Read more:

York City Council Moves Forward On Plans To Hold City-FOP Informational Hearing

York City Council will hold an executive session with the city’s solicitor during the next few weeks to determine whether to push forward with an informational hearing about the issues between the city and the local police union that almost resulted in the firing of two officers.

Council president Carol Hill-Evans said Wednesday night that she expects the session to be held within the next couple of weeks, at which point the members will decide what direction to take.

At the end of last month, city officials publicly acknowledged their intentions to fire officers Michael Davis and Jeremy Mayer, both local police union officials, for what the city characterized as their poor handling of another officer’s accusations of a criminal enterprise within the police department.

The city and the police union reached a settlement that ultimately allowed both officers to stay on the force, but many questions about the allegations made against the department, its investigation of itself, why the city sought action against the two officers and the settlement the city and union came to have been unanswered, council members said Wednesday.

Read more:

Pottsville Residents Complain About Demolition Waste In Alley

When residents complained Tuesday about more than a ton of concrete refuse, which a city contractor dumped at the far end of a Pottsville alley more than a year ago, officials promised action.

“A contractor dumped those there about a year and a half ago. There’s a wall here that borders my yard. And the weight of those, with the snow and the rain, is pushing that wall toward my yard,” Sue Rich, 422 Harrison St., Pottsville, said.

Mark Santai, 426 Harrison St., and Betty Guy, 432 Harrison St., also complained about the load of concrete dropped behind their properties.

“We already talked to that contractor and he said he was going to come out and move that stuff. We’ll contact him again and if he doesn’t get to it in a couple of days, we might have to issue a citation,” Justin D. Trefsger, the city’s code enforcement officer, said Monday.

On Tuesday, City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar identified that contractor as Penn Earthworks, Hazleton.

Read more:

Philadelphia Wants To Buy Former Scott Plaza Site As Part Of Airport-Expansion Plan

Philadelphia wants to buy the 27-acre property known as International Plaza on Route 291 in Tinicum Township, Delaware County, as part of a long-range expansion of Philadelphia International Airport.

An ordinance was introduced in City Council on Thursday, paving the way for the city-owned airport to purchase the complex, which has two office buildings that were once the corporate headquarters of Scott Paper Co.

The former Scott Plaza site is owned by a joint venture of affiliates of New York-based private equity firm Angelo Gordon & Co. and Amerimar Enterprises Inc., a commercial real estate development and management company.

“We are in the loop on this,” said Gerald Marshall, president and CEO of New York-based Amerimar Enterprises. “Yes, we are willing to sell it.”


Kennett Square Gets New, Refined Historic District

KENNETT SQUARE, PA – By a 4-3 vote, council Monday night adopted an ordinance that creates a new, expanded historic district, disbands the borough’s historic commission, and creates a unified Historic Architectural Review Board. The measure will affect every structure in the new and refined historic district.

“This is probably the toughest decision that we have made as a council,” said Leon Spencer, council president.

Councilors Geoff Bosley, Chip Plumley and Patrick Taylor dissented.

The ordinance is the result of a compromise from a previous proposed historic district ordinance that was more stringent and had two separate historic zones. That proposal was defeated last year.

Read more:

Columbia Hopes To Land Downsized State Call Center, With 129 Jobs

A year after tabling a plan for a call center here, the state Department of Human Services now says it wants to put a smaller version of the call center somewhere in Lancaster County.

And even though the proposed call center has been shrunk by more than half, Columbia Borough is in hot pursuit of the venture, which would create 129 jobs.

Its Borough Council voted this week to spend $835,000 to support the effort of developer Bill Roberts to put the call center in a fire station at 137 S. Front St.

“Every now and then, when a municipality embarks on an economic development project, they need to be willing to put some skin in game,” said Mayor Leo Lutz.

Read more:

George Secures Dem Nod For Wilkes-Barre Mayor

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Tony George won the Democratic nomination for mayor in Tuesday’s primary election.

The four-candidate Democratic primary included George, 63, former Wilkes-Barre police chief and current city councilman; George Brown, 64, who retired from a career in business management for international companies and is a current councilman; Darlene Duggins-Magdalinski, 46, a community activist who founded the advocacy group “United We Stand Divided We Fall;” and Brian Kelly, 67, who retired from IBM Corporation as a senior systems engineer and currently works as an information technology consultant.

George will face off against Frank Sorick, 42, Republican, realtor and president of the Wilkes-Barre City Taxpayers Association, in the Nov. 3 general election. Independent nominees/candidates could also still join the general election race.

Democratic Mayor Tom Leighton is not seeking a fourth term for the city’s top position, which currently pays $84,779 per year.

Read more:

Wilkes University Student Wins Democratic Nod For Wilkes-Barre City Council

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Beth Gilbert, a 20-year-old Wilkes University student, easily won the Democratic nomination for City Council in District C, saying voters wanted youth and change in city government.

And change will come, as three of the five council members will be new come 2016, along with a new mayor and a new controller, according to unofficial results.

Gilbert, who will be a senior next year studying political science and international studies, said she felt it was her time to seek political office.

“I didn’t want to wait four more years to run,” Gilbert said Tuesday night. “I’m young and I think voters wanted younger people, new faces, to serve on City Council.”

Read more:

Kenney Stayed Confident As Williams Floundered And Flailed In Philadelphia Mayoral Race

Jim Kenney started 2015 eager to run for mayor but uneasy about leaving the at-large City Council seat he held for six terms.

Then the city’s political landscape shifted swiftly and sharply in his favor.

Kenney, who handily won the Democratic primary election Tuesday night, became a candidate at the end of January, due largely to factors over which he had no control.

First, City Council President Darrell Clarke – the first choice for most of the city’s labor unions – ruled out a run on Jan. 12. That labor support soon migrated to Kenney’s campaign.


Lancaster City Zoners Grant Variances For Lancaster General Hospital $60M Expansion

Lancaster General Health has received variances from city regulations that will enable its planned $60 million expansion of Lancaster General Hospital to move ahead.

With little discussion and no public opposition, the Lancaster Zoning Hearing Board on Monday approved variances to building height and setback requirements.

The county’s largest health care provider wants to expand the Stauffer building on the northeast corner of the hospital at Lime and Frederick streets to eight floors, putting in 66 private rooms.

Joseph Puskar, an LGH senior vice president, said the hospital is responding to changes in the health care industry.

Read more:

Lancaster Businesses Find CRIZ Paperwork Cumbersome, Time-Consuming

Downtown business people say they support Lancaster’s City Revitalization & Improvement Zone, or CRIZ.

But boy, they sure wish the paperwork were less of a hassle.

“The process is very painful,” said David Leaman, senior manager of finance for the Isaac’s restaurant chain, which has its headquarters and one of its restaurants in the CRIZ.

Moirajeanne FitzGerald, who owns Here to Timbuktu on North Prince Street, says, “The CRIZ paperwork is cumbersome. The directions are difficult to understand.”

Read more:

New Memorial Hospital Of York Plan Prompts Traffic, Noise Concerns

Related: Memorial to break ground on replacement hospital.

Memorial Hospital held a public forum at the West Manchester Township building that allowed community members to view the plans for the replacement hospital.

Here are some of their concerns:


Deb Kauffman, CEO of White Rose Credit Union attended because her business is located near the new hospital. She is concerned about traffic but hopes the new hospital will bring in some more business.

Will there be speed bumps? Traffic lights? Reduced speed? These are all questions Doreen Lehr had after seeing the photos of the plan because she lives right at the entrance on Roosevelt Road. She says during rush hour it takes her five to 10 minutes to get out of her driveway as it is and people speed. They’ll have to expand the road, her husband, Joseph Lehr suggested.

Read more:

Hazleton Moves Airport Project Forward

HAZLETON, PA — The City Council accepted a $1.3 million Aviation Grant Tuesday night to fund a Runway Safety Area at the City Airport.

As part of the agreement, 5 percent of the project, or $70,000, must be paid for with funds from airport revenues.

A contract for the project was awarded to the only bidder, Hazleton Site Contractors, a member of the H&K Group.

When questioned by several members of council in regard to the airport’s ability to pay for its portion of the project, city engineer Dominic Yannuzzi said the airport had a $56,000 surplus and fuel valued at $60,000, which would be sold for revenue.

Read more: