Dana Grubb entering the mayoral race

Latest in a series of posts on candidates for election

Lifelong City Resident and Former City Worker

To Announce Candidacy for Bethlehem Mayor


For Immediate Release

Lifelong Bethlehem resident and former City administrator Dana Grubb will announce his candidacy for the 2021 Mayoral Election on Wednesday, January 27. The announcement will be made at 11 am at the Steel Ice Center, 320 East First Street on the South Side. All persons at the event must be masked; social distancing will be required.

Grubb, who served as the city’s Grants Administrator and the Deputy Director of Community Development among other offices, will lay out the key tenets of his candidacy and reveal some of the principles by which he intends to govern. Not a career politician, and known for a principled work ethic, Grubb brings to his candidacy not only solid experience with the City’s governance but also a background as a small business owner and a journalist. Most of all, he brings his deep and abiding love of the city, and a genuine desire to make it a better place.

Press Contact: Deb Courville 570-996-7534 (SMS & voice)/debcourville@gmail.com

Gadfly gadabouts

“The sky’s the limit”
Councilman Reynolds

Gadfly was steppin’ out last night.

There he is in full COVID beard and fresh t-shirt in the company of (with 40-some others) the likes of Mayor Donchez, President Grigsby, Superintendent Roy, and Representative Samuelson.

Heavy hitters.

What do you suppose the occasion was?

“The sky’s the limit,” Councilman Reynolds said, “especially with the enthusiasm and passion we have here.”

What do you suppose he was talking about?

Gadfly loves to tease.

to be continued . . .

My Bethlehem App Introduced

My Bethlehem PA App

Mayor Bob Donchez announced today the availability of the new My Bethlehem PA App. “The My Bethlehem PA App provides access to information regarding COVID-19, Lehigh County and Northampton County Crisis Intervention, Parking, the Bethlehem Service Center to register or report a problem and information for those visiting our wonderful City, to name a few,” Donchez said. All you need to do to download the app on your Apple or Android phone is go to the App Store, type in My Bethlehem PA, and download it. There is no fee to download the App.

Senator Boscola: funding for some City projects

“ArtsQuest cultural center, other Lehigh Valley redevelopment projects get big financial boost.” WFMZ, December 24, 2020

  • ArtsQuest Community Cultural Center II ($3.5 million): Project consists of the construction of a new 80,000-square-foot arts and cultural center at the site of the current Banana Factory Arts Center in Bethlehem
  • Goodman Building ($1 million): Alloy5 Architecture will be redeveloping the former Goodman Furniture building into a mix used project
  • Boyd Theater Redevelopment II ($250,000): A mixed use redevelopment of the former movie theater into ground floor retail and 120 one and two-bedroom apartments in Bethlehem’s central business district

My peace . . .

My peace I give to you.

Merry Christmas!

My Peace
Words by Woody Guthrie, Music by Arlo Guthrie

My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you
My peace is all I’ve ever had it’s all I ever knew
I give my peace to green and black to red and white and blue
My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you

My peace my peace is all I’ve got it’s all I’ve ever known
My peace is worth a thousand times more than anything I own
I pass my peace around and around ‘cross hands of every hue
My peace my peace is all I’ve got that I can give to you

After a night of kumbaya, “My Peace” has been the ol’ hippie’s signature closing.

Christmas with Touchstone

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem


Touchstone Theatre

Christmas City Follies XXI

Directed by: Jp Jordan

Performed by: the Touchstone Ensemble and friends

Premiering via YouTube watch party December 20 @7p
and available through January 2, 2021

Touchstone Theatre’s high-spirited, homegrown sendup of the Christmas season in the Christmas City goes online for 2020! For the last 20 years Christmas City Follies has been singing, dancing, laughing, and cartwheeling its way into the hearts of its audiences. This year, a streamed video edition of Follies – starring Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new material – will premiere on December 20th at 7p via a YouTube watch party and be available to watch, as many times as you want, in the comfort of your home through January 2nd.


$5/Reduced ticket**

**Touchstone typically offers a Pay-What-You-Will ticket at the door and instead will offer a reduced $5 ticket this year.

This is a little confusing and different! We know, so much is this year. Basically, choose your adventure. Two people in your household? You could buy two Individual tickets or, if you want to support more, buy a Household ticket. Struggling this year? Get the Reduced ticket. We kindly ask people to refrain from sharing the link with folks who haven’t purchased. The best way to show your appreciation and keep Follies coming another year is by purchasing tickets.


“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

Who can you trust anymore?

ref: Councilman Colon: a lot of fear but not a lot of understanding

Jim Friedman was born and raised in Bethlehem but now works in the Philadelphia news media. “I will always be from Bethlehem.”


When local newsrooms can no longer afford to assign journalists to cover public meetings, this is the outcome. Residents read comments filled with a biased agenda on social media, and believe it, then share it.

Some rely on bloggers and citizen journalists, but the trust factor has disappeared.

Who can you trust anymore?

Can I believe you?

What’s your political affiliation, because that matters in your reporting.

Who owns your company?

How much did your corporation give to the GOP?

What’s your race? Religion? Favorite color? Animal?

It all matters when you can’t trust anyone.


An issue at the last City Council meeting and in the last series of posts is what Gadfly called the full-court press put on by the Lehigh Valley Good Neighbors Alliance to stop City Council from defunding the police. The full-court press included radio, social media, a brochure, conversations, etc. The full-court press stirred a lot of panicky activity that turned out to be unnecessary, though LVGNA saw it as a victory. Jim raises the question of where you get your information these days and how reliable it is. He raises a subject always much on Gadfly’s mind. A lot happened in the City recently, but Gadfly isn’t sure any of it was really covered by the Morning Call. He used to be able to feed off an article by Nicole the morning after a Council meeting. But she’s gone. And — he may be wrong — but Christina Tatu, who took her place on our beat, seems to be absent recently, maybe only temporarily, too. I’ve been looking for articles by her on recent doings. Now maybe Sara at lehighvalleylive is covering us, but for some reason I can’t get into the habit of checking there. But the point is that though newspapers might have their slant, Gadfly is used to trusting them for basic info. But with the new economy in journalism, we aren’t getting that much of that kind of coverage, and people are left with social media like LVGNA’s facebook pages and your ol’ Gadfly. “Who can you trust anymore? Can I believe you?” Gadfly has tried to be a responsible citizen journalist, but “the trust factor has disappeared,” and his name has appeared in the same sentence with “bias” and “unbalanced.” So Gadfly would just like to say that he welcomes a slap upside the head and alternate views in a corrective and constructive mode.

Fourth budget meeting Thursday 6PM

Latest in a series of posts on the City Budget

View the Mayor’s 2021 Proposed Budget

Thursday, December 3, 2020

6:00 PM –

Final Budget Meeting

Agenda: This is typically the meeting at which Council entertains amendments to the budget proposed by the Mayor

There are several things cookin’ but nothing to do with the police budget.



REMOTE PUBLIC COMMENT PHONE INSTRUCTIONS. If you would like to speak during the Final Budget Meeting on Thursday, December 3, 2020 Meeting, please sign up per the instructions below or call into the meeting when the Council President announces he will take public comment calls.

If you would like to sign up to speak, email the following information to the Bethlehem City Clerk’s office (cityclerk@bethlehem-pa.gov) no later than 2:00 PM on Thursday, December 3, 2020 (a) name; (b) address; (c) phone number; and (d) topic of comments.

If you are signed up to speak, the City Council President will call you from (610) 997-7963.

After all signed-up speakers talk, the Council President will ask whether anyone else would like to make public comments. If you want to speak at that time, call the Bethlehem City Council public comment phone line at (610) 997-7963.


Calls to the public comment phone number will only be accepted during the designated public comment period with a 5 minute time limit.

If you call and the line is busy, please call back when the current speaker is finished.

As soon as your call begins, please turn off all speakers, computer speakers, televisions, or radios. At the start of your call, please state your name and address. A five minute time limit will apply to any public comments.


You can watch the City Council Meeting on the following YouTube channel: City of Bethlehem Council


“The incident left many of us feeling uneasy, angry, and ashamed”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to  change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 4

n the summer of 2020, several highly publicized cases of police brutality ending in the death of unarmed black citizens led to mass protests around the world. I attended several peaceful protests in the Lehigh Valley. During one of these protests, I witnessed the police attempt to detain a young black male for being disruptive. Representatives from the local chapter of the NAACP stepped in and were able to prevent an arrest from occurring, but the incident left many of us feeling uneasy, angry, and ashamed.

I am 20 years old, and I have just moved out of my father’s house in the suburbs of Macungie and into a townhouse in downtown Bethlehem with my boyfriend and two of his friends. I am awoken in the middle of the night by my boyfriend tossing and turning violently. I shake him awake and ask what’s wrong. He has tears in his eyes as he explains that he was having a nightmare about his time in jail, specifically the week he spent in solitary confinement after a corrections officer found Seroquel in the cell he shared with three other inmates. For a moment, he believed he was back in solitary confinement and that he would never again be free. He explains that he has nightmares like this often and smokes marijuana in order to sleep through the night. As the years pass, I learn more and more about his time in jail and how it has negatively affected his mental and physical health. This man spent several months in jail and an additional year and a half on parole after a police officer searched his vehicle and found half an ounce of marijuana, a few plastic bags, and a scale. This search was conducted because the officer claimed he could smell marijuana.

fourth part in a series . . .

City website wins award!

Latest in a series of posts on City Government

Welcome to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem Receives a 2020 Communicator Distinction Award in the Category of Government Websites

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez announced today that the City of Bethlehem received a 2020 Communicator Distinction Award in the Category of Government Websites. The Communicator Award honors excellence in strategic, effective, and meaningful communication across digital, video, podcasts, marketing, and print. The Award of Distinction is presented for projects that exceed industry standards in quality and achievement.

The City launched its new website last fall, which was designed by KSA&D. Mayor Bob Donchez thanked the firm for their work on the project. “KSA&D was a great partner for this initiative. We found them to be creative, skilled, and responsive to all the needs of our various departments. The application of technology and transparent government are two of my highest priorities, and our new website checks both of those boxes.”

Bob Kraemer and Peter Schurman, Partners at KSA&D, stated, “It was a great collaborative effort on everyone’s part. We were able to bring complex requirements together for an easy-to-navigate, visually pleasing, and functional platform. We are proud to be partners with the City of Bethlehem and appreciate their support and confidence throughout the entire development process.”

In addition to information for City departments, the new website offers news, events, and social media sections that can be easily updated by city staff to supply information efficiently. Quick links offer work schedules, online forms and permits, job postings, and access to City Council meetings. The website pages can be updated and modified internally by departments, which provides the City with the opportunity to quickly adapt the site to changing conditions.

The website can be found at Bethlehem-pa.gov

Headquartered in Allentown, PA, Kraemer Schurman Advertising & Design, Inc. has been the Lehigh Valley’s premier resource for design, web development, and marketing services. For over 20 years, KSA&D has been providing a full line of advertising services, from print to digital; e-commerce to social media; and mobile to web applications.
With powerful messaging coupled with creative delivery, KSA&D enhances your organization’s return on investment. For more information, or to contact KSA&D, please visit ksand.com or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/ksa&d-inc./.

Jim Thorpe’s Mansion Bridge a boon to tourism, heavily used

Latest in a series of posts on the pedestrian bridge

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members by noon today if possible or whenever you can today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

Mansion Bridge, Jim Thorpe
photo credit, Dana Grubb

Dear President Waldron and Members of Council,

I’ve had mixed feelings about this project from the start mainly because I feel both the City and PennDOT missed a huge opportunity to include this feature on the Fahy Bridge when the bridge was refurbished 2-3 years ago. In my view that was a perfect opportunity for an improved pedestrian-biking crossover between the north and south sides of Bethlehem.

That being said, as the City’s former grants administrator I believe that leveraging $40,000 of city funds to gain an additional $100,000 from outside sources is wise. Yes, in total it is all considered public funding, but this is the type of leveraging that is smart business for Bethlehem.

Should Bethlehem build the bridge that this study will address is a question for a future date. However, a number of cities across the country have been able to achieve these kinds of community improvements, so why not examine the possibilities through completion of this study?

I believe City Council should advance this study so that the question can be analyzed and recommendations can be reviewed. Then, and only then, can the heavy lifting of designing and constructing a pedestrian bicycling bridge be the topic for further consideration. As a frequent cyclist on the D&L Trail near the Jim Thorpe area, I will tell you that construction of the Mansion Bridge, for pedestrian and bicycling use across the Lehigh River, has been a major boon for tourism in the Jim Thorpe area and is used heavily. The first anniversary of its completion was recently celebrated and I attended. I would suggest Members of Council make a visit to see how something like this can be benefit a community.

Thank you,
Dana Grubb


Supporting the study:

ref: Interviews with design firms yield new insights into the utility and value of a pedestrian/biking bridge across the Lehigh
ref: Add your name to the many organizations endorsing the pedestrian/biking bridge feasibility study
ref: A pedestrian/biking bridge: “The possible is a big deal”
ref: Gadfly “talks” bridges with Councilman Callahan
ref: One cyclist hurt, one killed
ref: Act Now!

Against public funding:
ref: Let’s fund the study and the bridge privately

Against the study:
ref: A better use for the pedestrian/bike bridge money?

City Council votes on providing funds for a feasibility study of a pedestrian/biking bridge tonight. Gadfly encourages you to back this study before Council votes by emailing Council members by noon today if possible or whenever you can today (Clerks@bethlehem-pa.gov) and/or by calling in to the meeting during public comment (see instructions here).

Bethlehem, City on a Hill

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

The Hidden Seed: Bethlehem’s Forgotten Utopia

Gadfly saw the play The Hidden Seed again last night. Did he “see” any of you there as well?

Here’s a short clip of the play’s –as it were — theme song as the play ended.

Gadfly wishes he had a better recording of it and a recording of the three main characters singing it during the body of the play.

Bethlehem needs a theme song.

Do we have one?

2021 budget proposes cutting firefighters

Latest in a series of posts on the City Budget

Mayor Robert Donchez 2021 Budget Address

View the Mayor’s 2021 Proposed Budget

First meeting on the 2021 budget, November 9

The first hearing on the City’s proposed 2021 budget was held in front of City Council last night. It was 4 1/2 hours.

No doubt going too long for the press to have a handy overview story for us this morning.

On deck for discussion were the Fire Department, the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Police Department.

Budget meetings can be yawners.

Surprising to Gadfly, 30-some YouTube viewers stayed for the full ride. (However, as of this morning there were 200+ views.)

It’s the Year of the Pandemic; remember. revenues are down.

The Fates were not kind to Mayor Donchez as his two terms wind to a close.

And there is also a matter of increased pension obligations, which, frankly, Gadfly is not clear on and needs some schooling about.

But the reality is “Bethlehem’s pension payments will increase by over one million dollars next year.”

Cuts in such a situation of lessened revenue and increased costs are necessary.

The Mayor is proposing a total budget $87.4m (it was $80.2m last year) and a 5% tax increase, which translates into an increase to the average homeowner of $46.

Personnel costs are always the big ticket item in a budget.

Who in last night’s deliberations is the Mayor proposing to cut?

4 firefighters and 2 Service Center positions.

The Fire Department would move from 110 to 106 firefighters, and the Service Center would run on 13 not 15 employees in the Mayor’s plan.

Firefighter Union head Bryan Bokan called in to strongly refute the Fire Chief’s presentation that the cuts would not impair service or safety (see video, beginning min. 3:50). Bokan presented some different facts about staffing, said that morale in the department is “terrible,” said that the Union was denied a sit-down to discuss cost savings without cutting personnel, and said he was told that the cuts will not be restored when the economy turns around.

So here’s one issue for us to think about. Recognizing that budget cuts will have to be made this year, should firefighters be cut? Several Council members probed that, as well they should, for this is a matter of public safety. Councilman Callahan, for instance, said no.

But another, related issue arose.

The Police Department — remember that Police Departments in this post-GeorgeFloyd era are being scrutinized around the country — escaped with its 154 member workforce intact, and its proposed budget remains around 20% of the total city budget.

These were facts not lost on a series of callers at the end of the meeting who favored re-imagining public safety (one used the dreaded because it is misunderstood “d” word: defunding) in ways that have been aired here on the blog.

In effect, the callers were pointing out how protected the police department is. Same-old, same-old.

Gadfly followers can imagine that the portion of the meeting on the police department was the one that most interested him, and he will spend considerable time on it once he gets through his focus on the Walter Wallace incident that is now up to 8 posts.

For now, though, you should be thinking about whether the fire department should eat personnel cuts and the police department not.

There are three more budget hearings, and the final budget will be voted on at City Council December 15.


Selections from Sarah Cassi, “Head of Bethlehem firefighters’ union: Proposed cuts ‘atrocious act’ that must not be tolerated.” leheighvalleylive.com. November 9, 2020.

The Bethlehem firefighters’ union is used to fighting flames and smoke, but its president is now fighting proposed staff cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez last week unveiled his proposed 2021 budget, which includes a 5% tax increase and cutting six city jobs through attrition: four firefighters and two Bethlehem Service Center employees.

On Monday, Bryan Bokan, president of Local 735 Bethlehem Firefighters, posted an open plea on Facebook to Bethlehem residents.

Bokan expressed frustration after meetings with Donchez and Chief Warren Achey, saying the union members offered to make any other cuts so as not to lose personnel.

“We told them right out we understood there would be cuts coming,” Bokan said Monday afternoon. “There’s so much in the budget that we could work with … we asked them to give us a number and we will do everything we can to get to that number.”

But Bokan said they were never given a targeted figure, and they were never given the chance to compromise or even discuss alternative measures with the city.

 “Every firefighter serving the city knows what an impact this pandemic has had on the city, including its families, friends, patients, citizens we serve, and every firefighter is willing to sacrifice and compromise to keep the city as safe as possible,” Bokan posted.

The fire department would have 106 firefighters if the current cuts are approved. Bokan said he asked city officials if the positions would be refilled when the economy rebounds, but was told staffing would stay 106 firefighters.

“This atrocious act must not and will not be tolerated,” he wrote in the open plea on Facebook.

 “We truly need your support in standing up to the Mayor and Fire Chief who have grown further from the realism that Bethlehem needs its first responders and that the Lehigh Valley is one of the only areas in Pennsylvania still growing. They want to make the city less safe, they would like to make the men and women who protect the structures in which they live, less safe,” Bokan wrote.

There are three more budget hearings, and the final budget will be voted on at City Council December 15.

Incident in Philadelphia (6): Lawyer for the Wallace family

Latest in a series of posts about the death of Walter Wallace

The subject’s name was Walter Wallace.

The Wallace family lawyer — a “Swat-trained member of the police department” — makes the case for the inapplicability of the training the officers had for this situation: “They teach you to kill . . . They train you to be an assassin when the time calls for it. You have to use your discernment to figure out what that time is. It was not this time.” (5 mins.)

Selections from MaryClaire Dale, “Wallace family calls for firing of officers, police reforms.” Associated Press, November 6, 2020.

The family of Walter Wallace Jr. called Friday for the officers who fatally shot the young Black man to be fired and asked that some of the city’s more than $700 million police budget be diverted to mental health services.

Lawyer Shaka Johnson spoke for the family at a City Hall news conference a day before Saturday’s planned funeral for Wallace, a 27-year-old father of nine who had been receiving mental health services.

Johnson called for the city to divert some of its police budget to a separate hotline that families could call to get trained professionals, instead of armed officers, to respond to mental health crises.

He also noted that city voters in Tuesday’s election approved a ballot measure to create a citizen oversight panel for the police department.

“We’re all connected . . . You help me and I help you”

logo Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem logo

Gadfly proposes that we think of this song as a kind of anthem for the Lehigh Valley
and that we start every morning with it.

We’re in for a rough week. Divisive election. Rising virus. Falling stocks. On the front page of Friday’s Morning Call we find these headlines: “State prepared for civil unrest” and “Another day with more than 2k cases.” Not a wonderful day in the neighborhood. Let’s hang together, gang.


“Lehigh Valley be Free” is the work of the Lehigh Valley Song Project that premiered at Touchstone Theatre’s “Songs of Hope & Resistance” event on July 24.



DONATE NOW to support the musicians, artists, and producers who made the
Lehigh Valley Song Project possible!


Local news isn’t just dying, maybe something worse is happening

“A Partisan Future for Local News”

ref: “How the decline of local news affects communities?”

Here’s a frightening story.

A week or two ago (see link above) Gadfly wrote about the closing of the Morning Call newsroom and the consequent importance of local newspapers like the Bethlehem Press, as well as blogs like Gadfly and other citizen journalism efforts.

Since 2001, 2000 mostly local newspapers have folded.

But somebody will always find a way to make a buck out of somebody else’s trouble.

As local news collapses, a secretive network has risen to take its place.

This New York Times podcast “A Partisan Future for Local News” focused on an entrepreneur named Brian Timpone.

First, Timpone found a way to market his ability to supply local news to major legacy operations like the Chicago Tribune that were cutting costs. For instance, the Tribune fired its community news staff, and Timpone filled the void by free-lance writers, even from the Philippines, writing under false bylines. The “meat and potatoes” local news of school board meetings, police reports, high school graduations, and etc. was not written locally but supplied by Timpone’s network of writers.

Outsourcing local news. Crazy.

This effort failed when his clients learned how he was doing it.

So, second phase.

Timpone bought up local news outlets and started supplying what looked like local news but was actually content ordered by his clients, often politicians or political campaigns (e.g., Senator Collins and Graham).

The clients would tell what to write, who to interview, what slant to take, etc., etc.

Such as the (Michigan) Thumb Reporter and the Maine Business Daily:

They look legit, but clients are ordering the stories.

The partisanship of the national news is now being injected into local news.

This is coming from both sides but mainly from the right.

A modicum of straight news gives the look of legitimacy and the look of neutrality.

But these are actually propaganda networks.

The ordered stories are not labeled or disclosed as such, and much of this while not illegal is certainly unethical.

Timpone has 1300 clients in the 50 states now, and he plans 15,000.


Somebody pinch me to wake up.

Tip o’ the hat to Barb for calling this to Gadfly’s attention.

CNN uses the Morning Call for report: “How the decline of local news affect communities”

CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Steltzer, October 25, 2020

CNN’s Brian Steltzer’s segment on the Morning Call yesterday (click link above) gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the possibility that Bethlehem will become a news desert.

Thankfully, Christina Tatu seems to have replaced Bethlehem veteran Nicole Radziewicz on the Bethlehem beat. For now, anyway.

But the Morning Call, while it gamely moves on, will likely devote less and less coverage to Bethlehem.

Just yesterday afternoon Gadfly and a follower were talking over his back fence about things we would like see covered and need to be covered that are now not being covered.

We do get coverage from lehighvalleylive.com and WFMZ, but it’s not the same as having media based here.

And godhelpus if we have to depend on Facebook and the social media etceteras.

What to do?

  • More than once in these pages Gadfly has recommended subscribing to the Bethlehem Press in greater numbers and pressing for a wider and deeper coverage, with more in the way of analysis, of Bethlehem political issues. A community newspaper must survive. It’s not very expensive.
  • Make sure that there is a replacement for Gadfly, who plans to retire Election Day +1 next May. Applications now being received. Who will step up?
  • Encourage more blogs, more citizen journalism — providing more comprehensive coverage and especially alternate viewpoints. Who will step up?

Be sure to see the wonderful 50-picture photo gallery at the head of the following article. Great pictorial history of the paper.

Clarification: A follower points out that my wording might imply criticism of Nicole Radzievich. Ouch! Did not intend that. I meant to say that it was good to see that the hole left by the long-standing, respected NR was filled and not left empty.

Selections from Jon Harris and Andrew Wagaman, “The Morning Call to vacate Allentown office building after 100 years in downtown location.” Morning Call, August 12, 2020.

The Morning Call has called Sixth and Linden streets in downtown Allentown home since 1920.

One hundred years later, Tribune Publishing, which owns the newspaper, has decided to permanently vacate The Morning Call’s longtime home at 101 N. Sixth St. The news was announced Wednesday in an internal email from Morning Call interim General Manager Timothy Thomas, a decision made amid a pandemic that kept many employees working at home and had the newspaper’s parent company searching for ways to save money as advertising revenue dwindled.

“This decision was not made lightly or hastily,” said Thomas, who has been interim general manager since early 2019. “Instead, amid a pandemic that prevents us from safely returning to the office for an undetermined period of time, the company has decided to formally close our portion of the Sixth Street facility sometime in the near future. Once we have a firm date, we will update everyone.”

It remains unclear whether The Morning Call will find another office for its roughly 100 employees, though Thomas said the newspaper would look for a cross-docking and distribution center nearby to replace the existing operation. Employees are being asked to retrieve personal items from the office by Sept. 15.

“Out of an abundance of caution we do not anticipate having employees that can work remotely coming back into the office for the remainder of the year and into 2021,” Tribune spokesperson Max Reinsdorf said. “With no clear path forward in terms of returning to work, and as the company evaluates its real estate needs in light of health and economic conditions brought about by the pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close the office.”

History of The Morning Call in downtown Allentown »

The Morning Call’s presence in Allentown dates to 1883 when a Saturday evening newspaper called The Critic was founded. Following a reader contest, the publication was renamed The Morning Call in 1895.

By 1906, growth necessitated more space and equipment, bringing The Morning Call to 27 S. Sixth St. Operations were moved to Sixth and Linden streets in 1920, where the current building was constructed in 1930, though sections were added to it over the years.

The early 1980s, when the paper was still owned by the Miller family, brought plenty of construction.

An 18-month expansion at the Sixth and Linden Street headquarters was completed in 1983, a project that redesigned five major departments to use one of the most sophisticated computer systems in the nation

Two years earlier, on Aug. 31, 1981, the newspaper’s 270-car, three-level parking garage at Sixth and Turner streets was formally opened. Allentown Mayor Frank Fischl termed the new garage “an indication of your dedication to the center-city.”