Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bus Tickets Available to Stop The Frack Attack in Washington DC

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, along with the Sierra Club of Lehigh Valley, Occupy Easton and others, is organizing a bus trip from Easton to the Stop The Frack Attack rally and march in Washington, DC on Saturday, July 28.

The trip will depart from the Park & Ride, Route 33 and William Penn Highway in Palmer Township.

Attendees are asked to arrive at 8:30 a.m. to sign in. Bus boarding is at 8:45 a.m., and the trip will depart promptly at 9 a.m.

A limited number of tickets are available. The cost is $29 per person.

For more information or to buy tickets, please click here.

Easton Teen Event Aims to Inspire Hope, Provide Alternatives

By Christina Georgiou

Mario Figueroa knows what it's like for young people who have few resources.

Growing up on the streets in New York City, he says he got into plenty of trouble and having nothing better to do, he got involved in the violent subculture of the illegal drug trade, which led to a two-year stint in a New York prison on weapons charges.

But in the four years since he's come to Easton, he said, he's turned his life around. Inspired by a sermon at the city's Southside Greater Shiloh Church to "take the message of God to the streets," he's been doing just that.

Figueroa spends some time every day, he said, talking with teens he finds just hanging around with nothing better to do.

"I was raised by the streets myself," he said. "It was my home, you know? I want to give something back."

He was so inspired by the sermon, he recently approached Easton Mayor Sal Panto to ask him to back an event aimed at the city's teens that would have a positive influence on their lives.

Accompanied by his "chief advisor", Darren Brown of Wilson
Borough (right), Mario Figueroa (center), of Easton shakes the
hand of city Mayor Sal Panto last Wednesday evening after
announcing his plan to city council to hold an event for
troubled teens in Centennial Park on July 14.
"So he says to me, 'How much money do you need?'" Figueroa said. "And I said, 'Sir, you could give me all the money in the world, and it wouldn't matter. What I need is a date, a place where I can hold this event.'"

Figueroa's request was granted, and, assisted by his friend and "chief advisor" Darren Brown of Wilson Borough, he will be hosting that event in Centennial Park for youth ages 14 to 21 on Saturday, July 14, beginning at 2 p.m. 

The day is planned to include music, a dance competition, a basketball tournament, a Scrabble tournament, chess and checkers, and other games. Prizes, including gift cards donated by local businesses, along with refreshments, are hoped to entice troubled local youth to see there are alternatives to violence and drugs.

And, it's not just a one-time thing, Figueroa says.

"The day after my event is accomplished, I'm back out of the street, talking with troubled youth," he said, adding that he hopes to have similar get-togethers on a monthly basis.

For more information, or to donate resources to the day or future events, call Mario Figueroa at 347-241-4343.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Weekend Guide, June 29 to July 1

Easton's most comprehensive guide to what's happening in the city, and beyond, over the weekend. Published every Friday!

Friday, June 29

Blood Drive: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Miller-Keystone Blood Center will be holding a blood drive at Genesis Bicycles, 126 Bushkill St. or contact Robert McVeigh, 610-253-1140

Tunes at Noon - Carter Lansing: Noon. Sponsored by the Easton Main Street Initiative. Centre Square.

Indie/Alternative Easton School of Rock Summer Camp Show: 6:30 p.m. 19 South Bank St. 610-923-7625 or

Friday Night Dancing on the Odds: Fox Trot lesson with Con Gallagher, 7 to 8 p.m.; dancing with music by DJ Carol Coffinger, 8 to 10 p.m. $10. Third Street Alliance, 41 N. Third St. 610-433-7804 or

Live in the Square - Trouble City All-Stars: 7:30 p.m. Lehigh Valley roots reggae. Sponsored by the Easton Main Street Initiative. Centre Square.

Lelica & B.D. Lenz: An acoustic duo show, 8 to 11 p.m. Valenca, 64-66 Centre Square. 610-923-5142 or

Surrender the Booty, Citizen Addiction and open mic: Begins 9 p.m. Every Friday--Citizen Addiction is a new addition. Riverside Barr & Grill, Route 611, six miles north of Easton. 610-258-1008

Karaoke with Nort: 9 p.m. Rip Van Winkle's Pub, 3700 Nicholas St., Palmer Township. 610-258-8873

Space Station Beyond with Dave Johnsen: 10 p.m. Porters' Pub, 700 Northampton St. 610-250-6561 or

Primate Zoo: 10 p.m. Pearly Baker's Alehouse, 11 Centre Square

Saturday, June 30

"The Art of Journaling - A Personal Journey": 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A workshop for adults led by Diane White Husic, a biology professor at Moravian College, that focuses of using experience and creativity to keep a journal of daily observations. Registration required, $10 materials fee. Nurture Nature Center, 518 Northampton St. For more information or to register, call or email Gabby Salazar, 610-253-4432.

Pocono Greyhound Adoption meet and greet: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Receiving appointments. Sam's Club, 3796 Easton-Nazareth Highway (Route 248), Easton (Lower Nazareth Township). 570-856-0377 or

Texas Hold'em: 7 and 9 p.m. Free. La Pazza Bar, 1251 Ferry St. 610-515-0888 or

Movies in the Park - Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: 8 p.m. Movie starts at dark. The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name. Scott Park, Larry Holmes Drive.

Greylines, The Wait, The Music Business, Sparrows & Defeated: Show starts at 8 p.m. Mothers' Bar & Grille, 3 Lehn's Court (just off Centre Square). 610-559-1700

DJ Realion: 10 p.m. Pearly Baker's Alehouse, 11 Centre Square
610-253-9949 or

Saturday Night: 10 p.m. Porters' Pub, 700 Northampton St. 610-250-6561 or

BC Combo: Leaf Restaurant Cigar Bar Lounge, 90 Mort Drive, Easton (Forks Township). 610-559-1336 or

Sunday, July 1

Center for Animal Health and Welfare cat meet and greet: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Meet some feline friends! Pet Supply Plus, 4403 Southmont Way, Suite 4, Palmer Township. 610-252-7722 or

Center for Animal Health and Welfare Operation Freedom Adoption Days Begin: Noon to 4 p.m. Cat and kitten adoptions for $5 with approved application. Runs daily through Sunday, July 8 (except July 4) during regular center hours. 1165 Island Park Road, Easton (Williams Township). 610-252-7722 or

"Hands" exhibit opening reception: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Exhibit open every Sunday through August 26. The Gallery at St. John's, 330 Ferry St. 610-258-6119 or

Quoit Tournament: 2 p.m. random partners, point system. Riverside Barr & Grill, Route 611, six miles north of Easton. 610-258-1008

BAM String Trio in Concert: 4 to 6 p.m. Three Temple alumni band together to perform works of Bach, Mozart and Handel. Madeline Bell, violin, Shane Barker, viola and Ezgi Yargici, cello. $10 suggested donation at the door. Trinity Episcopal Church, 234 Spring Garden St. 610-253-0792 or

Band Concert at Meuser Park - 78th Army Band: 7 to 9 p.m. Come out to hear these musical ambassadors for the 99th RSC, United States Army Reserve from Fort Dix, NJ. Free. In the event of rain, check the park for a possible rain location. Meuser Park, Northampton and 23rd streets, Wilson Borough.

Save the date!

The city's premier event of the year, the 35th Annual Easton Heritage Day is next weekend, Sunday, July 8! Declaration of Independence to be read on Centre Square at noon, fireworks on the riverfront at 9:30 p.m. Various events and activities in Downtown Easton all day. Free. Full schedule of events in next Friday's Weekend Guide. See you there!

Are you planning an event? Did we miss something? Let us know! Email us.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Easton Community Bill of Rights Brought Back to City Council with Changes

By Christina Georgiou

Members of the community who are pushing for the City of Easton to pass a Community Bill of Rights intended to curb the power of corporations within the city and elevate the rights of living people above those of corporate entities, considered to be “persons” under current state and federal law, returned to city council Wednesday evening with a revised proposal, entitled “Easton's Community Rights and Protection from Natural Gas Production Ordinance.”

The new proposal specifically targets fracking for natural gas, and would make the practice and related practices illegal within city limits and calls for any corporation engaging in gas production practices in neighboring municipalities to be held liable for potential damages to citizens of Easton or its ecosystem.

It additionally declares the right of city residents to enjoy the “right to clean air,” the “right to pure water,” the “right to peaceful enjoyment of home,” the “right to be free from trespass” with regard to “the integrity of their bodies,” and a “right to sustainable energy future.”

City solicitor Joel Scheer said he believes the new proposal would be unenforceable by the city and would likely lead to costly litigation, but that a “learned opinion” of the proposal would take time to produce.

“I personally want to know how we can overturn Citizens United, which is the greatest threat to democracy I can think of,” Scheer said. “I just don't think this governing body can do it.”

Mayor Sal Panto, who said at a discussion of the former proposal of the Community Bill of Rights that he agrees with it in theory, but worries the law would jeopardize the city's state and federal aid, agreed.

“I'm not content (with the current government rules.) I'm not content,” he said. “I believe in what this document says. I just don't think we can do it.”

College Hill resident and co-owner of Porters' Pub in Easton's West Ward Larry Porter said he feels that if Easton were to adopt such an ordinance, it's likely other local municipalities would follow suit.

He added that he thinks the current political climate warrants people and municipalities engaging in civil disobediences because laws that are unfair and injurious to people are not only being made, but being upheld.

“Do we have to wait until an injection well is drilled in our city?” Porter asked. “There are plenty of unscrupulous absentee landlords who would sell their mineral rights for this purpose...I don't think we'd incur legal fees. I think there are lawyers around the country that would jump to defend this.”

Easton resident Dennis Lieb, who is a strong proponent of the Community Bill of Rights' adoption, cited the history of corporations being granted the same rights as living persons and called for the practice to end.

“Living with and depending on decisions made by activist judges 150 or more years ago and not willing to resist this 'well settled law' in our own communities (is) where it does the most harm,” Lieb said.

Though Scheer said city solicitors won't be able to properly frame a proper legal opinion in time, city council members agreed to discuss the matter with the public at the council's next workshop meeting, set for Tuesday, July 10, in city council chambers at 6 p.m. They plan to tape the discussion for public record.

A copy of the revised proposal is available for public view in the city clerk's office, on the sixth floor of city hall, located at 1 South Third Street.

Easton “Commuter Tax” Formally Introduced

By Christina Georgiou

A proposal to impose Earned Income Tax on those who work but do not live in the City of Easton was officially introduced at the regular city council meeting Wednesday evening.

The 0.75 percent tax, if approved by council members, is earmarked to help the city pay a shortfall in its pension plan for city workers and will be implemented beginning in 2013 if council members approve the measure, slated to be voted on in four weeks, after the city properly advertises the potential change in law as legally required.

City resident currently pay 1.75 percent EIT.

It seems extremely likely the bill will be passed based on past comments from city council members and Mayor Sal Panto, who said the city will fall short by $1.7 million if it does not raise the EIT. The tax will raise the majority of the needed amount, he said.

“The number is about $1.35 (million), of which we have a $1.7 (million) need,” Panto said.

The measure is allowed by state law for cities that fall into the “distressed” category. Easton is considered to be “moderately distressed” and the law allows for it to raise the EIT to pay for it's pension shortfall.

The money raised by the tax increase can only be used for that purpose, city officials said, and if the city's finances improve the tax may be lowered or dropped altogether, though Easton is under no obligation to do so.

Councilman Roger Ruggles questioned how the city will enforce collections.

Easton City Finance Director Chris Heagele said collection costs, estimated at $20,000, will be taken from the city's general fund.

“It's really just an accounting issue,” Heagele said. “The law ia unclear, and some (municipalities) do it one way, and others do it another way...It would only matter if we collect more than we projected. Which would be terrific, but if that were the case, we wouldn't be distressed.”

If the law is passed, commuters will begin paying Earned Income Tax (EIT) to the city beginning next year, starting on January 1.

The money will be withheld by employers, who will take the highest amount the employee is likely to owe between the City of Easton and their home municipality's taxing rate, with a maximum possible rate of 1.75 percent. So if a worker's community of residence has an EIT rate of say, 1.4 percent, 1.75 percent will be withheld, but Easton will only get 0.3 percent, or the difference.

City of Easton workers will also pay 1.75 percent EIT if the law is passed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Easton City Council, Citizens Agree on Intent--But Not Wording--of Proposed Bill of Rights

By Christina Georgiou

In a nearly four-hour public discussion of a proposed Community Bill of Rights for the City of Easton, city council and citizens more or less agreed on the intent of the law, but not its scope or wording Monday evening.

Debate became heated at times, with no final agreement ultimately reached, though the matter is expected to be revisited Wednesday evening at the council's regular meeting, after citizens have had a chance to re-meet and discuss whether they would be willing to reword the proposed law or will attempt to submit it in its current form before voters for referendum.

If the matter were to be put before Easton voters, it's unclear whether the Community Bill of Rights might be voted on by citizen electors in November's election, or next year in May.

Having been submitted to the city for consideration, elected officials have 60 days to review the matter, but if the governing body takes the full allowed length of time and the citizens committee were to wait that long, the deadline for initiative and referendum issues to be placed on the fall ballot would be past.

If the resident group refuses to compromise on the wording of the bill and clarify its limits and scope, city council has made it clear it will likely vote it down.

In that case, the group's only alternative is to collect enough signatures by petition to have the initiative placed on the ballot for voters to decide its fate. But that would take time, and the bill must be on the ballot for referendum 60 days in advance of the election, a deadline that is fast approaching.

Introduced by Councilwoman Elinor Warner, the bill is the product of some Easton citizens attending Democracy School sponsored by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CEDLF), said Esther Guzman, director of the West Ward Neighborhood Partnership (WWNP).

While a number of other cities and communities in Pennsylvania have enacted similar legislation, most notably Pittsburgh, the majority have focused on fracking methods of extracting natural gas, but the proposed law in Easton is more encompassing, specifically stating that, “Corporations are not natural persons and corporate powers shall be subordinate to people’s rights. Corporations and other business entities which violate the rights secured by this Ordinance and by other laws shall not enjoy the constitutional protections afforded to 'persons'...”

Additional provisions state that the bill may in some cases supersede state and federal laws regarding corporate interests, with neighborhoods having the right to dictate their own affairs without interference from larger entities.

The expanded nature of the bill is due to the fact that Easton also has other considerations in addition to the issues that surround natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, though this is more than a little unlikely to occur in the city, since it does not lie on the Marcellus shale rich in those natural resources, said Guzman. She said the open-ended nature of the bill's wording is more in response to specific concerns she sees, such as “slumlords,” especially in her home in the West Ward section of the city, which is also the focus of the WWNP's efforts.

But city officials said that the city's legal counsel has warned that some of the wording in the proposed Bill of Rights is too vague and could be in violation of state and federal mandates.

Additionally, others worried that the wording might override city council's authority, give people authority over their neighbors in ways the proposed legislation doesn't intend, and/or discourage wanted revitalization and economic development interests in the City.

Members of city council repeatedly said they agreed with the intent of the proposed ordinance, but worried that the specific language in the bill was overly vague and might overstep what is currently legal for them to legislate.

“I really do think it has some positives to it,” said Vice Mayor Ken Brown. “I just don't want to rush it.”

Brown added that he worried too about some provisions of the proposed law that he felt might usurp the powers of city government, saying that residents have opportunity at every turn for input, particularly when it comes to city finances at budget season but often don't exercise that right.

“Any more than that, we're giving away our positions as city officials,” Brown said.

The most critical comments came from Councilman Mike Fleck, who wanted at first to know why the bill wasn't being discussed at a regular city council meeting, as is usually the case, and said the proposed legislation would potentially cause many unintended problems for the city, likely doing more harm than good, despite its call for more citizen involvement.

“We don't live in a democracy. We live in a representational republic,” Fleck said. “A lot of things here, I agree with. But where they should come from, I'm not sure I agree with...You've got a big, big overreach here on what city council can do either by their home rule charter or the third-class city code.”

Fleck added the law as written would force even small, well-meaning corporations to sue the city to get things done if someone doesn't like them or their plans.

Warner said she felt the bill had a lot of positives and that the other council members might be perceiving a threat to their authority where none was intended.

“I think a lot of members of council are taking this like it takes away from council, when it's really about the state and federal government,” she said. “I think when you talk about corporations, if they want to pollute or do things that hurt people, then let them go to Bethlehem or Allentown.”

Stephen White, a West Ward resident and owner of Delaware River Books in the city's Downtown, as well as a committee member for the WWNP, said he doesn't feel the bill pits residents against city council authority.

“What I think it is doing is giving you additional leverage,” he told council members. “I would like to see (the power over what corporations can and cannot do) be more local.”

Mayor Sal Panto said while he supports most of the proposed legislation's aims, he is uncomfortable with the wording and its potential ramifications for the city, especially its relationship with the state. He particularly worried that if passed, it could jeopardize future grant opportunities and other state revenue sources for the city, such as liquid fuel reimbursements, which the city heavily relies on.

“If you want total local control, make the West Ward a historic district and make everyone go through a historic district commission before they can do anything,” Panto said. “I've been calling for more local autonomy, but there's a process to it, and I don't think this is it.”

“I'm suggesting another avenue...If the people of Easton don't like this, they don't have to accept it,” White said. “Corporations are not the enemy any more than government is the enemy...but it's not unreasonable to ask that...the people that have to live with these things have some say in it.”

Resident Dennis Lieb was more confrontational, saying of Fleck, “He's not my representative in the West Ward.”

Lieb said a recent city decision to change the zoning ordinances to allow some areas for billboards to be erected, though not in residential neighborhoods in response to a lawsuit from Adams Outdoor Advertising, along with PennDOT control of some local roadways and the state's allowance for timber harvesting are all examples of corporate or larger interests superseding local interests and laws.

“The truth is, the People don't govern anything any more,” Lieb said. “Isn't it time Easton takes a stand?...When government doesn't represent us? Should we change, or should we change the government?”

“I see this (law) as adding a lot of cost to the city if we want to defend this,” Panto said, adding that he feels the current wording would eliminate $800,000 worth of street surveillance cameras meant to assist police in catching drug dealers and violent criminals, as well as prevent mentally ill people from being treated when threatening to commit suicide.

“At least in this case, if we get sued for something the citizens want then that's something worth being sued for,” Lieb said, adding that he planned to have the bill notarized and sent by affidavit to the city on Tuesday morning.

“This defines who real people are, that's all it does,” Lieb continued. “A hundred and fifty years ago, people took oaths to uphold the runaway slave act. Was that the right thing to do? I think it was the wrong thing to do.”

Brown, who represents the city's Southside neighborhood, said he particularly wants to make sure all the citizens want the law before he makes a final decision about it.

“My question would be, we're not reaching the rest of the city,” he said. “That's where I'm troubled at. I want to make sure if I go with this law, that I'm representing the people that elected me. It should go by the people.”

Community director for the CEDLF Ben Price said that fracking laws enacted by the state are a good example of how corporations' rights are superseding those of local people in Pennsylvania, and the bill of rights is one response and defense to such actions.

“I really sympathize with local officials because you're really between a rock and a hard place,” Price said. “You faithfully swear to execute the obligations of your office...and that's to look out for the health, safety and welfare of your citizens...The problem is when you ask for legal advice, you're going to be told what state law is, that corporations are persons and that you must allow for every legalized use of land...Where there's a disconnect between you and the law department is that they're hired to protect the corporation of Easton, not the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Easton. That's not their job.”

“Once I don't follow the lawyers' opinion, I'm now personally liable,” Panto said. “Are you going to cover my legal expenses?”

“What we do offer is legal services, not funds,” Price said of the CEDLF's mission. “It doesn't cover costs, but it includes services. We're working for the citizens. If you want to talk about (our services), we can do that.”

Price said that similar Bills of Rights have been enacted in about 140 municipalities nationally, and only five have been challenged in court. Of those, he added, “We've never had a judgment against the wording.”

“I'm agreeing with what you're saying,” Panto said. “What I don't agree with is the vagueness.”

“It's a statement of a right. It's not a statement of policy,” Price said, adding that policy would come later, “fleshed out through engagement.”

“If fear is the deciding factor, nothing ever changes,” he added, also saying that the needed coalition to change state law or the constitution in Harrisburg could be started with the city, eventually joining forces with other like-minded municipalities.

“My problem is, is it a violation of my oath? I don't want to give up my house for the cause,” Panto said. “The fact that I can't use radar on our city streets to keep the speed down is ridiculous. They think I'm trying to use it to make money. I'm not going to use it to make money—I want to use it to save lives.”

West Ward resident and Neighbors of Easton blogger Noel Jones, who also serves on a WWNP committee, said she very much supports the bill's passage.

“We're asking for your help to empower you,” she said. “We're trying to help you protect the citizens of Easton.”

While she said she'd like to take more time for the bill to be more thoroughly discussed, Jones said the legislation needs to be passed quickly.

“It's true, no one is going to come to Easton to drill for natural gas,” Jones said. “But (they can drill injection wells), and if the state says they can do it, they will.”

Downtown resident Matt Munsey said a bad interpretation of the state constitution is allowing for corporations to gain more rights than real people have, and the bill would protect Easton from that.

“The way this happens is because we have accepted this interpretation,” Munsey said. “Maybe we need to stand up for these rights. We have a local system that mostly works.

“People know what goes on in their neighborhoods," he said. "The important point is, there's a process (in the proposed legislation) for neighborhood involvement, though that hasn't been defined yet.”

Munsey added that he feels if the city council doesn't vote on the matter, they shouldn't make negative comments about the proposal, or say the voters should decide the issue.

But Brown said the council has a duty to inform residents of their reasons for doing what they do.

“If there's a citizen's group going door to door for it, then there should be an opposing group educating them,” Fleck said. “Because they have a right to know what it's going to cost them.”

Only one resident spoke against the bill's passage.

“I am not against this. I'm against how it's written,” said College Hill resident John Freeman. “I don't like lawyers getting rich. And I don't like it when they do it on my dime.

“If you've fired up a barbecue grill, you've poisoned someone,” Freeman added, turning to the bill's provision to people's rights in regard to their bodies. “I think the board of Dow should be tried for murder, and if they go to India, they would...This as written is a bomb that will go off in our faces...I think Tom Corbett's a jerk. (But) this isn't the tool. This won't get us there.”

Panto agreed.

“If you were to change this tonight to fracking only, I'd enact it tonight. But when it's this broad, you're exposing the city,” he said.

Whether the proposed Community Bill of Rights will be reworded and resubmitted to city council is still up in the air.

Warner suggested that council members, either as a group or individually at the option of the citizens' committee, sit down  together and discuss what mutually agreeable changes to the proposed law might be made.

“We'll get together, and we'll get back to you,” said Jones.

Monday, June 25, 2012

This Week in Easton, June 25 to 28

"This Week in Easton" lists what's happening during the weekdays, from special events to who's playing to government meetings, all in one handy place. Not just in the City of Easton, but for the entire greater Easton area...Published every Monday morning!

Monday, June 25

Easton Community Bill of Rights public discussion: The full text of the bill is viewable here. (Scroll past Bill 23.) 6 p.m. City Council Chambers, sixth floor of City Hall, 1 South Third St.

Forks Township Historical Society Meeting: 7 p.m. Former Forks Supervisor Don Miller presents photos and details of the moving and restoration of the Forks Log Cabin. Faith Lutheran Church, 2012 Sullivan Trail, Forks Township. 610-253-1035

Tuesday, June 26

Butterfly Walk: 9 a.m. to noon. Learn some of the local butterflies.  Bring binoculars. Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary, 240 Sunnyside Road, Williams Township. 610-258-6574 or

Jazz and Rock Jam: 6 to 8 p.m. Bring your guitar, sticks or bass and join the fun. With Curt Alvin-Green and Jay Jay, members of Larry Holmes and Marmalade Band.Champ's Corner, 228 West Canal St. 610-253-6905 or

Easton City Council Workshop meeting: 6 p.m. City Council Chambers, sixth floor of City Hall, 1 South Third St.

Easton Area School Board Meeting: 7 p.m. Easton Area School District Education Center, 1801 Bushkill Drive, Easton.

Palmer Township Board of Supervisors meeting: 7 p.m., Palmer Library Meeting Room, Weller Place, Palmer Township.

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: 8 p.m., movie begins at dark. Easton Area Neighborhood Center, 902 Philadelphia Road  Easton.

Wednesday, June 27

Brown Bag Lunch: Noon. Updates from Greater Easton Development Partnership, including Main Street Initiative, the Easton Farmers' Market, and the Easton Ambassadors. Nurture Nature Center, 518 Northampton St. 610-253-4432

Make Your Own Weather Dial: 1 to 2:30 p.m.Kids will learn about different types of weather through a variety of activities and will have the opportunity to color and create their own weather dial. Appropriate for ages 4 to 12. $5 per child. Pre-registration requested. 610-253-4432 or email Gabby Salazar. Nurture Nature Center, 518 Northampton St. 610-253-4432

Easton City Council regular meeting: 6 p.m. City Council Chambers, sixth floor of City Hall, 1 South Third St.

Sounds of Summer Concert Series: She Said Sunday (rock and roll covers). 6:30 to 9 p.m. Free. Rain date is Thursday. Forks Township Amphitheater, Community Park,  500 Zucksville Road (just off Sullivan Trail), Forks Township. 610-250-2260

Free Texas Hold'em: 7 and 9 p.m. La Pazza, 1251 Ferry St. 610-515-0888 or

Toy Story 3: 8 p.m., movie begins at dark. Nevin Park, between Taylor Avenue and East Lafayette streets, Easton.

Thursday, June 28

Summer in the Square - Starlight Players : Noon to 1 p.m. SW quadrant of Centre Square (continuing Thursdays through August 23rd)

Live For Tomorrow: Suicide, depression and self-harm awareness and prevention support group. 6 to 7 p.m. First meeting, meetings planned weekly. Where: Beginning Over Foundation, 708 A East St., Wilson Borough. For more information, contact Alyssa Fitzgerald or visit the support group's Facebook page.
Easton Area School Board Special Meeting: 7 p.m. Easton Area School District Education Center, 1801 Bushkill Drive, Easton.

June Homebrew meetup with Nikki: This month's theme, "Big Beers". Black & Blue, 683 Walnut Street. 610-438-3604,

Karaoke with DJ Dave: 7 to 10 p.m. Champ's Corner, 228 West Canal St. 610-253-6905 or

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World: 8 p.m., movie begins at dark. 9th and Washington streets, Easton.

BD Lenz Jazz: 8 to 11 p.m. Porters' Pub, 700 Northampton St. 610-250-6561 or

Is there a community or entertainment event you'd like to see here? Are you organizing something you'd like to have posted? Email us!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

777 Thank Yous...and counting

A note from the author/editor/publisher

It's been just three and a half weeks since The Easton Eccentric launched, and in that time, this site has been visited more than 777 times.

While the vast majority of readers are local, we've also gotten hits from across the country, and outside the U.S too. What's going on in Easton and the greater Easton area is has been read by people as far away as Russia, Germany, the Phillipines and Australia.

While I miss The Easton News and hear constantly that others do too, even though it's been more than five years since its parent corporation declared bankruptcy, clearly there are some advantages to going digital. Though it was a well-loved weekly newspaper, by going electronic, a lot of trees are saved, the fuel-consumption needed for distribution is eliminated, and all the money that would have gone into those things, if indeed I could have even raised the capital--$5,000 plus per week to come close to the Easton News' 17,000 copy circulation at it's demise!--all the resources now go directly into producing the actual news people want to read.

And from the tremendous growth we've seen in the last few weeks, without a single cent spent on advertising other than a few cards left at cafes and handing them out as I see people, there is definitely a news niche that needs filling in Easton. We plan on fulfilling that gap, and more.

We are so happy to be here, and we can't wait to do more. So tell your friends, in person or on Facebook or via Twitter about this blog site. It's part of a larger news publishing project that is yet to come, and the more people that visit, the faster that will become a reality.

If you own a business, we wouldn't mind fulfilling your advertising needs as well. Rate sheets are about to become available, and not only will rates be very affordable, we expect there are few better ways to directly reach your customers than in a local forum such as this one.

But The Easton Eccentric and the future "Everything in Easton" is not about us--it's about everyone in Easton, and that means you!

Do you have something you'd like to say? Email us. From letters to the editor to the occasional or regular guest post, we want to hear and share it all. Got photos, video or a podcast? We want them too, and that's one more thing web news can provide that the print edition of a newspaper can't.

Not to mention, if you like what you're reading, please say so. And if you disagree, that's welcome too.

If you'd like to be informed of new posts as they're published, sign up for email alerts, near the top of the page on the right. We promise, we will NEVER share or sell your email, and we don't engage in spam. Or, follow me on Twitter, @Eastonwordsmith for posting alerts plus the occasional personal observation.

To those visitors overseas: danke schön! spasibo! salamat! and thanks, mates! We hope you'll be able to visit one day to see what a wonderful community Easton, Pennsylvania is personally.

And, to the people of Easton and the greater Easton area, for who this blog was created:  Thanks so much for reading! --times 777...and counting.

Christina Georgiou

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hare Salon Is More Than Just Another Art Gallery

By Christina Georgiou

Timothy Hare shows a visitor around his
new salon on Spring Garden Street.
Local architect and artist Timothy Hare's new gallery is a bit different from most--he doesn't expect to sell much art.

Now retired after a long, successful career, he instead hopes his new Downtown space will be host to thoughtful exchange of ideas and conversation, in addition to his books and art.

Originally a surrealist and pen-and-ink artist, in addition to his architectural work, Hare's most recent works are bold abstracts, and grace the back room of the gallery space.

Two of the books containing Hare's
pen-and-ink illustrations of Easton
The front room greets visitors with the artifacts of Easton's struggle with urban renewal in the 1960s and 70s and Hare's past work, including two books of his pen-and-ink illustrations of Easton.

In the 1970s, jet-lagged and just back from Australia, Hare landed in Easton by chance, he said, just as wrecking balls were about to destroy what is now the city's historic district. Their work had already begun years earlier, and whole blocks of the city's unique antique architecture had already been removed.

The citizens of Easton had protested vigorously against their eviction and the destruction of their homes, to no avail. When Hare arrived, a demolition crane was set up next to the building that houses the Quadrant Coffee House and Book Mart, slated to be the next victim of elimination two weeks hence.

The front room greets visitors with the artifacts of
Easton's struggle with urban renewal in the 1960s and 70s,
along with a collection of hares.
 By that point, though he didn't know it, whole chunks of the city were already lost to the federal government's plan to "renew" urban areas by replacing them with parking and squat light industrial buildings, forcing the relocation of residents to the suburbs. No new residential housing was allowed as part of the plan.

Although Easton was still thriving and bustling with commerce, despite what had already been lost, most of Downtown was being declared "blighted" which paved the way for the ill-conceived destruction of heart of the city.

Despite his fatigue, Hare went to that evening's city council meeting to ask what was going on and why, he said. Not receiving satisfactory answers, he refused to leave until city officials showed him the plans and explained what was going on.

A map of Easton's Downtown
district, showing in black what
buildings had been razed
between 1945 and 1960.

This map shows Easton's Downtown,
with black areas depicting buildings
demolished between 1945 and 1993.
Most were razed in the
1960s and1970s.

Deeply disturbed by the ultimate answer, that Downtown Easton was being flattened and residents forcibly removed from their homes, despite ownership, he decided to do something about it. Having worked in Australia on historic preservation and in America with government contracts, he knew what to do.

Not owning a car, Hare decided to take a bus to Washington DC the next day to attempt to get an injuction against the construction project, of which the demolition was the first phase. He believed from seeing the plans the night before that the city officials had not crossed T's and dotted I's when it came to federal permissions to enact the construction plan, which they were in charge of having been enticed by the millions of federal dollars the city was granted for agreeing to it.

He knew if he was successful the demolitions would be halted, and the city not only would be forced to return the unspent portion of the funding, but wouldn't be granted more, due to their failure to spend it on the project in time.
Three paintings done by Timothy Hare
that depict Easton's various
City Halls through time.

Hare never made it to the bus station, he said. Before he could leave his house, which he had just rented, a woman who had heard about his "making trouble" at the previous evening's meeting knocked on the door and offered her help. She was incidentally the relative of a person of some importance in the federal capitol, who she called upon to help find a skillful presentation lawyer, which sped up the process of Hare getting through the proper doors to file the right paperwork for the injunction.

His efforts were successful, where the protests of 12,000 City of Easton residents had failed, though not before more than half the city's Downtown buildings were gone.

Up until fairly recently, the reasons behind the federal push for urban renewal projects across the nation were a classified secret of the Department of Defense, which had pushed for cities being vacated after World War II, ostensibly to protect them from becoming targets in the event of nuclear war.

Hare's master thesis based
on research into the
reasons for Easton's
ill-conceived urban renewal
attempt, the effects of which
the city still suffers from today.
Hare did his master's thesis on that subject, and a copy of the thesis also resides in his new gallery, housed in a graceful Federal-period building on Spring Garden Street--one of the ones saved by his efforts now nearly four decades ago.
"When I think about it now, if I'd known what I was really up against, I don't think I would have done it," Hare said. "But I'm very glad I did."
Already, it seems, despite officially opening only earlier this week, the salon is a success, not only for being the home to Hare's art, much of which reflects the struggle Easton faced, but for already fulfilling the mission of thoughtful exchange of ideas and historical information, too.

Hare Salon, located at 229 Spring Garden St., is generally open Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m., with other times by chance or by appointment.

To contact the salon, email Or just stop by some time.

Update, July 2, 2012: Summer hours for Hare Salon are by chance or by appointment.

Weekend Guide, June 22 to 24

This is the place to come to find out what's happening on the weekend. All Easton and greater Easton area. Published every Friday!

Friday, June 22

Betty's Off-Road  Bicycle Ride: 8 a.m. to noon. Explores the plentiful bike paths in our surrounding area. Ride destination varies weekly. Frequent destinations are Bethlehem via the tow path along the Lehigh, on occassion this ride will follow path further to Allentown; and the Canal path along the Deleware to Upper Black Eddy. For more info regarding this ride, and to receive weekly e-mail with destination, email Betty Kelly. Or call 610-253-1140 or click here for more information and other upcoming rides.

Tunes at Noon: So What? Noon to 1 p.m. Centre Square, Third and Northampton streets, Easton.

The Great White Caps/Get Thee to the Chopper/Horse: 8 p.m. Mother's Bar & Grille, 3 Lehn's Court (just off Centre Square). 610-559-1700

Open Mic: 8 p.m. Riverside Barr & Grill, 5801 N. Delaware Drive, (six miles north of) Easton. 610-258-1008,

Karaoke with Nort:  9 p.m. Rip Van Winkle's Pub, 3700 Nicholas St., Palmer Township. 610-258-8873

Soofy & The Walrus: 10 p.m. Pearly Baker's Alehouse, 11 Centre Square. 610-253-9949 or

Modern Romance: 10 p.m. Porters' Pub, 700 Northampton St. 610-250-6561 or

Saturday, June 23

Baseball Tournament: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. At the Williams Township Municipal Park, 655 Cider Press Road, Williams Township. 610-258-6788

Bike Rides: Road Ride w/ Peter, 8 to 11 a.m. Formerly known as 'Century Club' this on-road ride isdesigned to get you ready for your first, second...or fifth century. Ride varies from 30 to 65 miles
and ride typically averages 12 to 14 mph. 10/10/10, 10 a.m. to noon. Beginner ride - No more than 10 miles, at 10 mph, and leaves at 10:10 a.m. Mountain or hybrid, 24-inch wheel size or larger, bikes preferred. Genesis Bicycles parking lot, 126 Bushkill St. 610-253-1140 or click here for more information and other upcoming rides.

Annual Butterfly Census: 9 a.m. to noon. Bring your binoculars and help us count the butterflies in the meadows. Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary, 240 Sunnyside Road, Williams Township. 610-258-6574 or or visit santuary's website at

Electronic Recycling Event: 9 a.m. to noon. Sponsored by the Northampton County Department of Community and Economic Development. 6701 Weaversville Road, Forks Township.

Easton Farmers' Market "June Bug Jamboree": 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Come celebrate ladybugs, butterflies, honeybees and more. Ladybug Tea Party at 10 a.m. The Philadelphia Insectarium will present its traveling bug show at 11:15 a.m. Bug Parade at noon. The Billies, live music 10 a.m. to noon. All events are free. Centre Square.

Live Styling Demos at Artists in the Alley: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hot hair tips and tricks used behind the scenes by the renowned J. Morgan Salon team. From perfecting a 10-minute 'no fuss' style to achieving the latest celebrity updos, the team at J. Morgan Salon will show you how to save time and transform your hair like a pro! At Just Around the Corner Gallery, 5 North Bank Street. Call  610-438-0634 to make an appointment.

Lewis Ogioba Outreach Concert: 5 to 9 p.m. Features live gospel hip-hop artists and singers, including Righteouz Knight, Apimael El Guerrero, Hassan, Swinn D Example, Sanctified, Redeemed, J Sky Walker and DJ Prophetic, along with spoken word artists and dancers. Open mic, free food and giveaways. Forks Community Center, 500 Zucksville Road, just off Sullivan Trail, Forks Township. For more information about the concert, visit the event's Facebook page or call 610-252-0785.

Tenor John Carrelli: 6 p.m. Reservations required. Bella Luna Ristorante & Bar, 3417 Sullivan Trail, Forks Township. 610-253-2380 or

The Young Cape Singers: 7 p.m. Free. Trinity Episcopal Church, 234 Spring Garden St. 610-253-0792

Texas Hold'em: 7 and 9 p.m. Free. La Pazza Bar, 1251 Ferry Street. 610-515-0888,

Karaoke with Chuck (former lead singer with Gandolf): 9 p.m. Rip Van Winkle's Pub, 3700 Nicholas St., Palmer Township. 610-258-8873

Post Junction: 10 p.m. Pearly Baker's Alehouse, 11 Centre Square. 610-253-9949 or

Kwesi Kankam of the Peeled Labels and his band: 10 p.m. Porters' Pub, 700 Northampton St. 610-250-6561 or

Sunday, June 24

Bike Rides: Bob's EZ-20, 8 to 11 p.m. Frank's Bagel  Ride, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. - ride along the Delaware River in Jersey to Milford, NJ for a snack, on Genesis! Ride averages 38 miles and 16 to 18 mph. Rides begin in the Genesis Bicycles parking lot, 126 Bushkill St. 610-253-1140 or click here for more information and other upcoming rides.

Po-ke-no: 2 to 4 p.m. La Pazza Bar, 1251 Ferry Street. 610-515-0888,

Quoit Tournament: 2 p.m. random partners, point system. Riverside Barr & Grill, 5801 N. Delaware Drive, (six miles north of) Easton. 610-258-1008,

JR & the Stampede Band: 7 to 9 p.m. Meuser Park, 2300 Northampton St., Wilson Borough. For more information, click here.

Got an upcoming event? Want to be on this page? Email us!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NYC Gospel Hip-Hop Artists Playing for EAHS Student Memorial Concert

EAHS student Lewis Ogioba's memory will be honored on what would have been his 16th birthday with a free concert event on Saturday at the Forks Township Community Center.

Running from 5 to 9 p.m., the "Lewis Ogioba Outreach Concert" will feature live gospel hip-hop artists and singers, including Righteouz Knight, Apimael El Guerrero, Hassan, Swinn D Example, Sanctified, Redeemed, J Sky Walker and DJ Prophetic, along with spoken word artists and dancers, from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.

An open mic, free food and free giveaways are also planned for the event. The concert is being organized and hosted by Angelo Laro Maldonado.

Ogioba died unexpectedly on August 3, 2011 while playing basketball, of an undetected heart ailment.

"We want his death to be a means of life for everyone who cared and loved this young man, and a comfort to the community that is still trying to figure out,'Why?' says an announcement on the event's Facebook page.

The Forks Community Center is located at 500 Zucksville Road, just off Sullivan Trail in Forks Township.

For more information, visit the event's Facebook page or call 610-252-0785.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Easton Community Bill of Rights Meeting Set for Monday

A public meeting to discuss the proposed Community Bill of Rights for the City of Easton is set for Monday, June 25 at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, located on the sixth floor of City Hall, 1 South Third St.

This time and date has been confirmed by city officials and has been advertised in legal notices placed in local newspapers. Any other date, time or location that may be rumored to exist is incorrect, both City Clerk Tom Hess and Mayor Sal Panto have confirmed via email.

All interested citizens are invited to attend.

The proposed legislation would establish by city ordinance that "Corporations are not natural persons and corporate powers shall be subordinate to people’s rights," along with declaring the right of city residents to "exercise governing power in the City of Easton over the behavior of corporations chartered by the state in their name" and calls for changes at the state constitutional level to secure the right of communities to self-governance.

The full text of the bill is viewable here. (Scroll past Bill 23.)

New City Mural Nearly Complete

By Christina Georgiou

Panels were hung Tuesday for the City of Easton's newest outdoor mural and the work is all but complete.

Adorning the west side of Hotel Lafayette, near The Lafayette Bar's entrance at 15 North Fourth St., the art was commissioned by the Easton Main Street Initiative and rendered by Freehand Murals.

Easton artist Kim Hogan works on the   
all-but-finished mural on North
Fourth Street Tuesday afternoon.
 The oversized art depicts silhouettes of jazz musicians, celebrating the city's musical past and is especially relevant to the bar, which has a rich history as a jazz lounge. The bar still regularly hosts performances by jazz artists from as far away as New York City, in addition to well-known local jazz musicians. 

Donna Thatcher, of Easton's College
Hill neighborhood puts finishing
touches on the mural she created with
the other three Freehand Mural
Seen later in the afternoon on Tuesday were Freehand artists Jenny Leggett, of Martin's Creek, Donna Thatcher, of Easton's College Hill neighborhood, Janet Hodick, of Palmer Township, and Kim Hogan, who recently moved to Wilson Borough. All were hard at work putting on the final finishing touches on their art, smoothing out and repainting screw holes necessary to the hanging process and preparing to give the work a final clear coat finish to ensure its longevity and resistance to the elements.
Despite the simple design, the mural has taken a lot of work to complete, the artists said.
Freehand Mural artists Jenny Legget  Janet Hodick work to
complete the new mural, to be formally presented
to the public on Thursday.
"We thought we could bang this out in a weekend, but that turned out not to be the case. More like two or three," Hogan said as she worked. "And here we are again." 

Though the work is already in public view, a formal ceremony to "unveil" and highlight the mural is planned for the city's latest art piece on Thursday, June 21 at 1 p.m.

The public is invited to attend.