Saturday itinerary: 1) Bethlehem Rose Garden Farmers’ Market 9-1 and 2) The Great Southside Sale 2019 10-3:30

Bethlehem Rose garden Farmers’ Market
Part of the Mt. Airy Neighborhood Association’s “continuing mission to strengthen our local community.”


The Great Southside Sale 2019
JUNE 1, 10 am-3:30 pm
East 4th and Buchanan Streets
South Bethlehem

Last year the sale raised over $20,000 . . . and 100% of the money raised supports youth programs, three nationally-recognized homework clubs, and school field trips for Southside children, all administered by the Community Service Office at Lehigh.

“I’d like to see some of the current decorations re-imagined with the use of newer technology and enhanced lighting”(8)

(8th in a series of posts on Christmas lights)

Dana Grubb is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem who worked 27 years for the City of Bethlehem in the department of community and economic development, as sealer of weights and measures, housing rehabilitation finance specialist, grants administrator, acting director of community and economic development, and deputy director of community development.


I couldn’t attend because I had a concert to photograph last night, so I can only comment on the photos included in today’s news coverage. I agree with Peter that some of it looked gaudy. It seems overkill. I’m very tradition oriented, so I’d like to see some of the current decorations re-imagined with the use of newer technology and enhanced lighting. What I really liked was the use of red and green lighting on the Hill to Hill Bridge, and the truth be told, I wouldn’t mind seeing all 3 bridges lighted architecturally all year round, much like bridges elsewhere in the world. The 3D stars located at certain intersections looked interesting, yet the stars on the end of the Main Street ramp looked overwhelming. I think the use of projection lighting on buildings, such as at Comenius Hall at Moravian College, has some potential as well. Peter’s question about using city money (if it is public money) and staffing time is very valid in my opinion.


The Christmas lights: “they don’t seem very imaginative or creative” (7)

(7th in a series of posts on Christmas lights)


I only saw the images via an article on LehighValleyLive, and while I think some of the proposed designs are somewhat attractive, they don’t seem very imaginative or creative—and I’d describe some of them as almost gaudy.

They might have gotten much better results at a much lower cost by soliciting local ideas—including from students. At the end, I have to ask whether this is an appropriate use of city money & time.


The proposed Christmas lights: “All in all . . . a very nice design” (6)

(6th in a series of posts on Christmas lights)

Judy Parr is a lifelong resident of Bethlehem.


I agree with Barbara — it was very festive and cheery. I particularly liked the proposed placement of oversized Bethlehem stars at Five Points and elsewhere. I was relieved to see that the iconic 4 advent candles were still featured, and I appreciated the designer’s attention to the original Christmas designs from the 20s and 30s.

Across the Fahy bridge, the design shows colored lights leading north and then switching to white lights as the lights cross the bridge. This is unfortunate and, as I said in my notes on the design, does not provide the unity that they planned for.

All in all though, a very nice design, sensitive to Bethlehem and the commercial value of the season to the city.


“We are very much trying to provoke conversation” about the Christmas lights (5)

(5th in a series of posts on Christmas lights)

See this article for a series of pictures of the proposed lighting scheme!

Christmas lights

  • None of the changes are set in stone, and nothing is changing for this coming season. The earliest the new decor may appear would be in Christmas 2020, with a five-year phase-in, said Allyson Lehr, city housing and community development planner. “Major, major fundraising” with community partners will be needed to make the proposals into reality, Lehr said. “This is about feedback,” said Alicia Miller Karner, city director of community and economic development. “We are very much trying to provoke conversation.”
  • The city in January hired New York City-based David Weiner Design for $35,000 to brainstorm ways to freshen up the Christmas City’s holiday look. Weiner said he drew inspiration from the city’s holiday icons, like the Bethlehem star and Moravian candles. Moravians named their settlement that would become Bethlehem after Jesus’ birthplace, on Christmas Eve 1741. And during the Great Depression, city business leaders tried to cash in on that holiday heritage and began marketing Bethlehem as the Christmas City in 1937. “The idea was to create something both unifying from an iconography perspective but could be modulated in a way that could be unique to each neighborhood,” Weiner said Thursday.
  • Lots of questions remain, like whether to go with a singular unifying look using all Bethlehem stars or mix in Moravian stars on the city’s north side; Bethlehem stars have a longer tail, while Moravian stars are more symmetrical. Another unresolved point is whether to go with all white lights, or continue South Side’s tradition of colored lights. The city will be soliciting additional feedback on its website and through its social media channels.
  • One idea shared Thursday is to use projectors to turn building facades, such as Moravian College’s Comenius Hall, into light shows for people to view at scheduled times.
  • John Halleman, Sandra’s husband, said he thought the designs were well presented to residents. “It was nice we had a little bit of voice into it, as citizens,” he said.

Catching up on the Charter School issue (20)

(20th in a series on Education and Charter Schools)

Last time Gadfly weighed in on charter schools was two months ago, reporting on a great meeting with Dr. Roy.

Where o’ where did those last two months go?  Let him try to catch up a bit here.

First, let’s remember what triggered this information gathering: concern about the size of the charter school line in the BASD budget and thus the impact on our taxes. As reported several posts back in this thread: “Approximately 2100 BASD students attend charter schools (12 different ones but 50% at one particular charter school), about 13% of the total student population, at a cost of 29 million in charter tuition this year, which is roughly 10% of the budget.”

The BASD budget

Theresa O’Brien, “District in the black; no tax hike likely.” Bethlehem Press, May 21, 2019.

The good news. The tentative 2019-20 BASD budget “includes no increase in the tax millage for the first time in several years, and uses only $1.6 million from the general fund balance to make up a shortfall.”

Board member Dean Donaher commended those involved in the process for bringing in a zero-tax-increase budget without losing any programs and while “maintaining momentum” on strategic initiatives of achieving grade-level reading proficiency, delivering personalized learning and growth, and meeting students’ social and emotional needs.

Well, relative good news. If the charter school chunk were less, then there would be more money in the system for education needs and maybe no need to draw from the general fund balance. But at least looks like no tax increase. And, if I remember correctly, Dr. Roy said charter school attendance was leveling off.

Lehigh Valley Academy

Lehigh Valley Academy is the charter school to keep an eye on. 50% of the BASD students going to charter schools go to LVA. Several posts back in this series, Gadfly profiled LVA.

Jacqueline Palochko, “Lehigh Valley Academy now looking in Bethlehem Township to put its $50 million school.” Morning Call, May 30, 2019.

Also as reported earlier, LVA is planning on a new building at substantial cost. This morning’s paper indicates that the proposed site of that building has now changed from what Gadfly reported earlier. LVA rents now, and owning its own building would be more economical. LVA will have to seek permission from both the Bethlehem Area and Saucon Valley school boards to change locations because it is a regional charter school.

Other charter schools

There seem to be no especial administrative or educational quality issues with the three Bethlehem charter schools — the kind that characterize many school districts and charter schools. But there are enough such issues in the Lehigh Valley to keep us continually conscious of a nagging bad side to charter schools. These are the kinds of things we don’t want happening here.

Innovative Arts, Catasauqua:

Sarah Wojcik, “Innovative Arts Academy Charter School makes argument to stay open while Catasauqua blasts school’s poor academic scores.” Morning Call, May 22, 2019.

Catasauqua administrators painted the Innovative Arts Academy Charter School as a school that’s habitually failing students academically. Charter school administrators sought to portray the school as one where students in need of extra attention found solace and purpose while staff contended with a demographic of economically disadvantaged students with unexpected challenges.

Allentown School District:

Jacqueline Palochko, “Allentown school board to try again to borrow $10 million to avert financial crisis.” Morning Call, May 1, 2019.

A week after a deadlocked school board left the Allentown School District in budgetary limbo, a new attempt will be made Tuesday to borrow $10 million to avert a financial mess. . . . costs weighing on the district are charter school tuition.”

Ok, there’s a catch-up on some of the factual context. Gadfly will return shortly to catch up on some more substantive issues suggested by followers Dr. Roy, Karen Beck Pooley, and BASD Proud Parents.

High-five to all concerned for tending the budget nicely!