Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Job Opening - Administrative Assistant, Nazareth PA

If you know of someone that would be a good fit for this position, please share this blog post with them. 

We have an excellent opportunity to join a local financial services company (Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.) in Nazareth, PA.

We hire talented, enthusiastic and pleasant people who possess impeccable attention to detail and who take initiative to get the job done.  The job candidate must possess strong communication skills and excellent computer and internet skills as Administrative Assistant to the Financial Advisor.  Primary responsibilities of this position include overseeing compliance and legal office requirements, reviewing and responding to daily and monthly reports, responding to customer inquiries, scheduling appointments, processing deposits into customer accounts, processing client paperwork, marketing customer events and workshops, bookkeeping and general office duties as needed.

Required Skills and Traits:
·                    Proficient in MS Word & Excel
·                    Knowledge of working in Quickbooks
·                    Familiar with navigating social networking sites
·                    Ability to obtain additional information as necessary from a variety of sources
·                    Excellent organizational skills
·                    Ability to anticipate next steps and act proactively
·                    Polished email and telephone etiquette
·                    Focus and dedication to tasks
·                    Ability to work independently

Key functions of this job include:
·                    Maintaining compliance files
·                    Utilization and promotion of social media networking
·                    Ability to navigate financial planning software
·                    Customer relationships of utmost priortiy
·                    Provide support in all areas to the Financial Advisor

Two (2) to three (3) years related experience helpful but not required.  In addition, you should have the ability to resolve complex issues with minimum supervision and coordinate activities in order to meet deadlines.  You should have the ability to take corrective actions or escalate issues to the Financial Advisor, as well as the ability to prioritize incoming requests based on deadlines and customer needs.

If you feel you are a candidate for this job, send your resume and salary requirements to Mr. Engleby at

Thank you for your interest.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Growing Your Business in 2013 - Smile You’re on Candid Camera

Today's guest blog from Carol Ritter of focuses on the importance of first impressions and smiling when you're behind the counter.

How many of you remember Candid Camera?  That was such a hit show and families couldn’t wait to gather to watch it together as host Alan Funt played innocent tricks on people.  It was FUNNY!  Oh, the good old days!

I was shopping over the weekend and noticed that more than 5 times I ran into customer service folks who didn’t smile when I asked a question or interacted with them.  We all know that smiling boosts your immune system and psychologists say can even improve your mood.  But what if you just can’t smile?  We all come to work with issues, but can your employer insist that you smile?  On the same day I see these non-smilers (who work in customer service) SMILE when a baby arrived.

I’m wondering, why you can’t smile when serving your customers but you can smile when a baby arrives.  Experts might say that smiling comes easier for some than others. I understand that, but what if you are in customer service?

Here are some things we know: courtesy of (

1. Smilers have a better chance of getting promoted
2. Women smile more than men
3. Smiling is natural for newborns
4. People are more attracted to smilers
5. Smiling is the universal sign for happiness and smiles relieve stress
Even if you don’t feel like smiling, as you can see, it can personally benefit you in your career.  In the meantime, check out some old Candid Camera clips on You Tube. Look for the Rookie Dental Assistant with Betsy Palmer or the Lady with Monkey on Her Head with Fannie Flagg.  I can’t stop laughing; they are so funny I can hardly finish this article!

If you want to smile more at work, watch Candid Camera before you leave in the morning!

Smile, You’re on Candid Camera
or maybe you’re on the Security Camera

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog.
Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  
Like me on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!
Carol S. Ritter, Immediate Past President, National Speakers Association Philadelphia

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Pennsylvania Lottery proposal shouldn't surprise anyone

What's with this sudden burst of surprise and indignation over the Corbett administration's move to hire a private management firm for the Pennsylvania Lottery?

The effort has been going on for almost a full year, right out in the open, with meetings, announcements and press releases explaining how a private management contract will increase benefits to senior citizens by billions of dollars.

Just because the media wasn't listening doesn't mean we weren't talking. Last year, on April 2 to be exact, the Department of Revenue issued a news release saying that it would seek qualified bidders for a contract to operate the lottery. Gov. Tom Corbett himself was quoted: "This initiative is simply part of my administration's efforts to tap private sector innovation to make state government work more efficiently and effectively, which is precisely what taxpayers expect."

Some newspapers even editorialized in favor of the idea, saying that if private operators can guarantee more money for the state, at a lower cost to taxpayers, everybody wins.

Between March 27 of last year and Jan. 14 of this, the administration met, conversed or otherwise communicated with legislators of both parties about the lottery privatization effort. Three Cabinet secretaries testified before the House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services in April of last year. In fact, our outreach data show how public an effort this was:

• "A printed report issued in April, detailing the plan and its timeline.
• "Meetings or phone conversations with at least 127 legislators.
• "Ten 'milestone updates' to either the entire General Assembly or its staff.
• "Twenty-three letters responding to inquiries.
• "Public testimony at two legislative hearings."

On Friday of last week, the administration announced that it had issued a statement of intent to award the contract to Camelot Global Services LLC , a procedural move that freed the Department of Revenue of confidentiality clauses in the bid so it could discuss the proposal in detail before the state Senate Finance Committee.

Cue the opponents, led by leaders of the union representing state lottery employees. They screamed that the proposal was a last-minute rush, done under cover of darkness. One called an email issued at 4:23 p.m., "a midnight raid."

It sounds exciting, makes for zesty reading, but it simply isn't true. Camelot's contractual pledge to generate $34 billion in profits over a 20-year period, backed by $150 million in cash collateral and a $50 million letter of credit, puts the lie to claims that Pennsylvania's seniors would lose out under this proposal. In truth, the private management contract takes the sale of a product to a venue where selling is done best: the free market.

Lottery employees affected by this change have received assurances from Camelot that it will seek to hire as many of them as possible. Gov. Corbett, too, has pledged to do his best to find places for those who do not make the shift to Camelot.

No lottery employee need end up jobless under this proposal. Those who are not hired by Camelot are assured that the administration will make the best effort to find another position for them within the commonwealth.

By 2030, one in four Pennsylvanians will be over 60. In other words, 25 percent of our population will need the very services the lottery underwrites. As it now stands, the lottery is not equipped to meet that demand. Camelot's offer provides that assurance.

No, the Pennsylvania Lottery is not broken. But it's headed toward some very rutted road and it's time to install a stronger set of springs.

Now we finally have everybody's attention about why we need to act. We should have had it sooner and would have if the current alarmists had paid attention to what was happening around them.
Daniel P. Meuser is Pennsylvania secretary of revenue.
First Published January 17, 2013 12:00 am

Read more:

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/25/13

Good morning, Lehigh Valley. Happy Friday!

Thanks to all who came out to the Lehigh Valley Easy Pages Annual Distribution Party and Chamber Signature Networking Mixer last night. The Miller Symphony Hall was full of all kinds of businesspersons networking and having a great time. Also, welcome to all of the new Chamber members that made it out to our New Member Orientation!

The Pennsylvania Covered Device Recycling Act became law beginning yesterday, requiring outdated electronics to be recycled instead of thrown away. In addition to reducing waste in landfills, the law will ensure that precious metals found in the electronics can be reused and not go to waste. Pennsylvania is the 25th state to enact such a ban. Make sure you don't throw away your outdated computers, keyboards and similar items! For a list of electronics recycling facilities nearest you, follow this link.

The Pennsylvania House committee also passed a bill recently that would eliminate the inheritance tax on family-owned businesses. The bill will now go to the full house for consideration.

Downtown Bethlehem's Winter Restaurant Week begins this Sunday, January 27.

Thirty-Two Restaurants in Bethlehem will offer fixed menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast price points: $5, $10
Lunch price points: $5, $10, $15
Dinner price points: $10, $20, $25, $30, $35
Here's the best part: You have an opportunity to win $2000 worth of Restaurant Week Participant gift certificates! Each time you dine out from a Restaurant Week menu (max 3 times daily), fill out the contest slip given to you by your server. Hand that slip back to the waiter and you are automatically entered into the contest. Find out more here.

Make sure to check The Morning Call for upcoming business events in the Lehigh Valley.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Growing Your Business in 2013 - It’s Play Time

I spent years working in schools and the phrase, “ready to learn,” was used frequently describing children who showed up every morning at school.  “Ready to Learn” meant that they were prepared, fed, and sometimes emotionally strong when they stepped foot in a teacher’s classroom.  What we knew was that when kids arrived NOT ready to learn it could be an overwhelming task for the teacher.

Well, your employees need to be “Ready to Learn” too.  How do you treat your employees?  Do they experience “Play Time”?  Are they appreciated for their service?  And have you provided them with a company culture which provides for those who may learn differently than others?

Here’s the must treat your employees the same way you treat your biggest and best customer!

1. Your employees are human beings first, not employees first
2. Don’t be afraid to “Play at Work”
3. Keep expectations high.
4. Keep rewards high too; when you have a great year, share it with your staff.

Did you know that the greatest human need is to be heard?  Take time to meet with staff inidvidually just to listen, it’s the best way to build trust.

Play at Work is about finding the gifts and vulnerabilities of each member of your team. Identifing this in each employee helps you to to be a better leader.

Play at Work a novel idea with amazing impact.  Step right up for “PLAY TIME”

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” -Plato

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545

Like my Biz on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/18/13

T.G.I.F., Lehigh Valley! We hope everyone has a great Friday.

Lehigh Valley home sales in 2012 were up 13.1% from 2011 figures. A total of 5,674 homes were sold last year, the highest number of sales seen in the past three years.First-time buyers were motivated by lower interest rates and prices as well as job market stability. The Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors has called 2012 a 'year of recovery,' implying the beginning of a housing market recovery.

Sources have alleged that the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem could be for sale, as Las Vegas Sands Corp. is reportedly asking for up to $1 billion for the property. Sands is the second largest casino in the state in terms of gambling revenue.

Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) will operate differently moving forward, said CEO Don Cunningham. Many of the organizational decisions were previously made by their executive committee during closed-door meetings, but now those decisions will be made by the full LVEDC board. Cunningham said the goal is to make board membership more appealing and to entice more local business leaders to join.

Join us for the Lehigh Valley Easy Pages Annual Distribution Party and Chamber Signature Networking Event on Thursday, January 24 from 5 - 8 p.m. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at Miller Symphony Hall. Enjoy "Business After Five" as you network with fellow Chamber members, enjoy complimentary hors d'oeuvres, and even get a chance to win gift certificate giveaways.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/15/13

Good morning, and happy Tuesday Lehigh Valley. We're halfway through January already, if you can believe that!

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced on January 11 his plan to award the state's $3.5 billion lottery will be awarded to a private company, Camelot Global Services PA, LLC. This is not a binding contract, but will allow for the disclosure of procurement details during the Finance Committee Hearing. State Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser supported the Governor's plan to privatize the lottery, with the goal of increasing profits from the system.

The House will vote on Hurricane Sandy disaster aid in the next few days, as the multi-billion dollar plan will be put in front of lawmakers this morning. New Jersey and New York lawmakers have been especially adamant in regards to making sure the $51 billion package passed the House.

President Obama recently announced that his administration would unveil a "sensible, common sense" proposal to gun violence this week. The plan would include improved background checks, limits on the sale of high-capacity magazines and a meaningful assault weapons ban.

NJ State Senator Michael Dougherty drafted legislation that would redirect revenue generated from red light cameras tickets into New Jersey's Highway Safety Fund. The potential "hundreds of thousands" in revenue is now directed toward municipal budgets, not for driver safety.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Growing Your Business in 2013 - Shhh, Don’t Tell Anyone

Guest blog  post from Carol Ritter of

Did you ever attend a speech and the speaker was a real snoozer? Do you think speakers are born or trained? Well, the answer is a little bit of both; some have a natural gift and others can be trained. Shhh, speaking is a performance and performances take lots of preparation and lots of practice. Speaking on behalf of your business can be a wonderful tool for driving more clients, customers, patients, etc. to learn about you and what you do. When preparing a presentation or a training here are some tips for giving an out of this world performance. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, it’s just for you!

1.       Design a speech keeping your audience engaged... and wanting more!
2.       Do your homework, research your audience and have your speech reflect the needs of the audience. 
3.       Ask the right questions ahead of time, what is the audience’s age, gender, what do they do for a living, how many will attend
4.       Tell stories, folks learn 45% more if you inject humor
5.       Always send your audience home with hand-outs (maybe even a discount if they visit you business within the next month)
6.       Make sure it’s easy for them to find you after the speech is over, all materials should have your name, phone, email, website etc
7.       When speaking consider the pacing, pausing, volume and the tone of you speech
8.       Always have more material than you need, just in case your timing is off
9.       Think about creating sexy speaking titles (Finding Your Competitive Edge, Extraordinary Sales, Get SOCIAL, Find your Social Media Niche, Sell Yourself First, Sell Your Product Second
10.    Always be prepared to answer your own questions, nothing worse than an audience that doesn't respond

Speaking in public, it’s at the top of the list of the most recognized fears, however, you can do it with the proper prep, lots of content, a clear message and, if you really want to move to the next level, hire a speaking coach. 

Shhh, don’t tell anyone, just ask for Winnie the Pooh’s advice!!

After all, “You can’t stay in the corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you, you have to go to them sometimes.”  Winnie the Pooh

Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog
Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  Like my Biz on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Business and Local News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/10/13

Good morning and happy Thursday, Lehigh Valley! Today is the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground, the world's oldest underground railway, and on this day in 1776 Thomas Paine published the pamphlet "Common Sense."

St. Luke's University Health Network's Anderson Campus of Bethlehem Township is doubling the size of its ER department to meet increasing demand. The addition will add 11,000 sq. feet to the current department and 17 extra exam rooms.

Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest has added an auxiliary tent outside the hospital to treat the rising number of flu cases this season. It may take up to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, but it's still not too late if you're worried about getting the flu. Patients with flu-like symptoms should report to the main emergency department first for triage.

Residents in Easton will see an overhaul in the parking system due to changes soon to be implemented. Roughly 500 parking meters will be replaced with state-of-the-art meters that will allow drivers to pay with their credit cards as well as the traditional method of coins. Enforcement hours will also be extended to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon - 6 p.m. on Sunday.

A 16 year-old Allen High School student attempted to bring a loaded handgun into school on Tuesday, but the gun was found on the student by Allentown police and school security officers as he attempted to re-enter the school without being buzzed in. The boy had just enrolled at Allen and Tuesday was his first day of classes.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced new regulations aimed to loosen the choking loan standards that have prevailed since the housing crash by defining a "qualified mortgage," which is one that a borrower can be expected to pay back.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Growing Your Business in 2012- Emeril’s Trinity

Guest blog post from Carol Ritter of

Do any of you remember the old Emeril Lagasse cooking shows? If not, you might know that his brand just naturally came out of his vibrant personality. ‘BAM!’  Like many other famous chef’s Rachel Ray coined the phrase, ‘EVOO,’ and Cat Cora, the famous Iron Chef, drinks a shot of vodka with her team after every competition. They all have one thing in common, their ‘shtick.’ They have something that launches them way above their competitors...their ‘shtick' married with charisma. 

I remember when Emeril would start to cook, he coined onions, peppers, and celery the Trinity. Just like Emeril starting all his recipes with the trinity all three are a necessary piece of being a successful business.  The Trinity for success is;

1. Onion - or Outstanding Customer Service!
2.  Peppers- or Over the Top Product! or Service
3. Celery - (the sometimes missing link) Charisma!

How do you make sure you have all three of these necessary pieces?  It all begins with who you hire and how you train them. My guess is you began with an idea which grew into a product or service.  I’m going to assume you provide outstanding customer service (modeling this for your staff) but then there is the celery (CHARISMA). You can’t buy it, you can’t invent it and you can’t even train it. It’s either there or not in someone’s personality. Webster describes CHARISMA as someone born with the ability to have influence over large groups of people. The best, most appealing product or service in the world sometimes won’t sell because the Trinity is not in effect. 

Here’s what we know...the customer of the future has more access to information than ever before, they come to you well educated and many times ready and willing to go somewhere else where the customer service is amazing. To stay ahead of the game, when hiring look for people who are trainable or coachable if they don’t have the “magic charisma’. 

WHAT’S COOKIN IN YOUR BUSINESS?  Make sure the onions, the peppers and celery are all in place for 2013!

 Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  Like my Biz on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Phillipsburg Area Chamber of Commerce - January Letter from the President

This article appears in January's issue of Connections, The Chamber's monthly publication. 
Click here to view the Connections archive.

Written by:
Helene Meissner, Norwescap Food Bank
Phillipsburg Area Chamber Chair
908-454-4322 •

Wow! Was it ever exciting and fulfilling to see nearly 400 youngsters have the chance to visit with Santa during Phillipsburg’s Annual Tree Lighting program. This is always a highlight of the year for me, and 2012 was no exception. Every child received a hat and gloves from the Atlantic States CAP, and each of them also received a stocking from The Chamber and the community. As many as 1,000 people joined us for a special night.

Meg Dowd got a new holiday program started this year - “Christmas in Phillipsburg” and our Christmas Mart Tent helped many to enjoy their time in our town.

Now is the time to look forward to a new year. In January we will continue our Phillipsburg/Easton metworking breakfasts. Also, we are looking forward to having a more direct impact on New Jersey Public Policy issues, and will be instituting a series of meetings with our legislators and updates on pertinent issues.

Coming up faster than one can imagine, will be our Annual Mayor’s Lunch starring our own Harry Wyant, and then in April we will schedule the PACC Awards Dinner. This is a major date change for us and brings P’burg programming into a closer match with other GLVCC council celebrations.

This spring, the Toll Bridge Commission will begin work on the Route 22 Bridge, and we will coordinate our efforts on behalf of our members.

Keep your eyes on our schedule...You will be rewarded.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Growing Your Business in 2012 - FACE IT

Guest blog from Carol Ritter of

What’s around the corner for 2013?  Is it the traditional pork and sauerkraut, looking for the good luck charm, or maybe the 2013 diet that will work, or maybe you might consider  “growing ur biz” for sure.  I recently took a “FACEBOOK” class and learned how to utilize this magnificent tool to benefit your business.  You know, they always say if you want to learn about social media ask a young person.  Well, I decided to jump off the non-fiscal cliff and learn how to do it myself.  Some really fascinating tips for the new year:

1.                     Pictures are viewed the most, take pictures of your staff in action, take pictures of your customers, your events, yourself and post with captions
2.                     Thursdays are the best day to post, folks are starting to get in the mind set of the weekend - you know, Thursday is the new Friday!
3.                     There are many changes coming in 2013 to Facebook, especially for small businesses-expect those changes to be especially focused on driving new customers to your business
4.                     Experts say that within 5 years Facebook will be the first place folks look to find your business, service or product
5.                     Don’t forget media - second to looking at pictures your customers are viewing You Tube
6.                     The most important piece of your Facebook business page is the BIG picture at the top, leave it blank and customers will assume you don’t know what you are doing.

Face it, social media is a mystery to some baby boomers.  So you have a choice, keep doing business as usual, cash flow as usual, same old customers as usual or really take on 2013.  Embrace change, challenge yourself and take on the social media and let go of the same old same old.

When someone asks you, “Is your business on FACEBOOK?”  In 2013, how about you say, “I’ve Faced it,  I’m growing my business with social media as we speak.” 

 Carol serves as a featured writer for the Home News and the Lehigh Valley Chamber Blog

Carol is an accomplished professional speaker, coach and educational consultant specializing in innovative leadership, outrageous fundraising, million dollar marketing, and building organizational alliances throughout the country.  Carol’s creative  leadership with bullet proof ideas for recruiting MORE MEMBERS, MORE MONEY AND BETTER LEADERS. 610-442-4545  Like my Biz on  Facebook at Caroltalks and CarolCoaches!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/3/13

Good morning Lehigh Valley. On this day in 1959, President Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union as the 49th state.

A New York City based brewing company, Ruckus Brewing, has won the right to try to convert the run-down Neuweiler Brewing Company in east Allentown into a multipurpose development. Roughly half of the property would be used to brew the company's different beers and would also house a brewpub, and the other half would be re-purposed into various retail and commercial uses.

On Wednesday, Bethlehem City Council unanimously voted in favor of the amusement tax, which would put a 5% tax on event tickets (concerts, sports, etc.) valued at $10 or more, and the tax would have a cap at $1.50/ticket. The money from the tax will go towards the funding of police and emergency services at such events. The tax will not affect events with fewer than 200 people, or tickets for movies or high school sporting events.

Governor Tom Corbett announced Wednesday that the state of Pennsylvania would sue the NCAA for strict sanctions placed against Penn State University in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. Gov. Corbett alleges that NCAA was "overreaching and unlawful" in their punishment against the University. He also went on to say that the sanctions imposed mostly punish the local businesses and citizens of Pennsylvania.

 New Jersey Governor Christie criticized House Speaker Boehner on Wednesday for refusing to allow a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief to the Northeast. It has been 66 days since the hurricane hit the states, and the delay in congress is much longer than following other natural disasters. Within hours of the speech, Boehner and Republican House leadership announced there would be a vote for an initial round of this week, followed by a vote on the remaining amount on January 15.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas in Bethlehem - by Lynn Cunningham

My office is located on the second floor of the Main St. Commons overlooking Main and Broad Streets. Throughout the year, I am filled with pride at what a terrific community it is that I grew up in, live in and work in: when I walk outside to see a slew of Musikfest volunteers, employees and vendors setting up for the upcoming 10 day festival; when I’m working late in September and I can hear the clear sound of a lone bagpiper practicing somewhere in the neighborhood for the Celtic Classic and when I see my staff and the merchants of the downtown helping decorate the streets with hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins to prepare for the Fall shopping season and Harvest Festival.

As the Vice President of Bethlehem for The Chamber my focus is centered on tourism, marketing and the overall financial health of the business community. Much of the work we do in the office revolves around Christmas – the logistics of bringing Christmas to the Christmas City – most of which doesn’t really involve the birth of Christ.  It is the business of Christmas: building, decorating and managing the Christmas City Village, coordinating the 100 details that go into The Community Tree Lighting Ceremony, raising the funds to pay for the 800 trees that go up throughout the town, marketing the many events that occur here during the Christmas season; and finding sponsors and managing The Christmas City Trolley. Much is riding on the success of the Christmas season and in this 75th year of Bethlehem being designated as “Christmas City, USA” it is more so.  The one event that does involve the spiritual aspect of Christmas - the Community Advent Breakfast – must be handled as a business venture; ordering  beeswax candles, Moravian Sugar Cake, booking speakers, and marketing this  47 year old tradition. Year after year since I’ve had this job, the warmth that I should feel during this holy season is delayed because of my role in making sure that Christmas happens in the Christmas City… and is paid for.

That ended this year. The Citizens Christmas City Committee – one of my committees - has been raising funds for the City of Bethlehem’s Christmas decorations since 1964 with the Christmas City Seal. Every year we mail out thousands of envelopes with a sheaf of stamp-like seals and hope that the residents of Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley send us a donation. Every year these donations decrease. The population that donates to the Christmas City Seals is getting older and their income has been fixed for almost two decades. This year, because of staffing changes, I took on the task of opening these envelopes for the first time. What I thought was going to be a drudgery job turned into a joy. Hundreds of names that I have heard from my 53 years of growing up here kept coming before me: Petraglia, Meixel, Uhler, Buzzard, Kessler, Pongratz, Barnett, Ytsma and to my utter delight - my own mother - who has been donating to this committee for most of the last 48 years. There were a few checks for $100 or $25 but most of the checks were for $10 and some envelopes had just one dollar stuffed inside. I cannot begin to tell you the warmth and affection that I felt while opening every single one of these envelopes.

Vernon Melhado, the President of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce in 1937 said “Bethlehem didn’t create Christmas, Christmas created Bethlehem” referring to the Moravian’s christening of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania  in 1741. When “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is sung, it has a double meaning to all of us. With Bethlehem’s many churches, Vesper concerts and Christmas putzes, the spirit of Christmas is prevalent. I now know that this community is also invested in Bethlehem as the Christmas City. Christmas is in the hearts of its residents which is interwoven with their faith, their pride and sense of community.  I want to express my gratitude to everyone who contribute - day in and day out - to make Bethlehem, Pennsylvania a great place to work, live, raise a family…and celebrate this holiday. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Lynn Collins Cunningham, born and raised in Bethlehem, is the Vice President of Bethlehem for the Greater Lehigh Chamber of Commerce
Work Address: 561 Main St, Suite 200, Bethlehem, Pa 18018
Mobile Phone: 610-739-1510

Business News in the Lehigh Valley, 1/2/13

Happy New Year, Lehigh Valley! Now you just have to get used to writing 2013 instead of 2012... that always seems to be tough to get used to!

Last night, the House gave final approval to a bill that would rescind tax increases for the majority of Americans and avoid the much-discussed 'fiscal cliff' that would have taken effect otherwise. Income taxes will be raised on those earning $450,000 and more, and the amount of deductions they can take to lower their tax bill will be reduced. Though most Republicans voted against the measure, local GOP congressmen voted in support of it. Low temporary rates that have been in place for less affluent families for the past 10 years will remain in effect, but the payroll tax cut has expired. Find out with this calculator how much more you can expect to pay.

PPL electric customers can expect a slight increase in their 2013 bills, which will be about a 3% increase for the average residential user. The increase reflects higher maintenance and operating costs, including recovering from the devastating storms Irene and Sandy the region saw in 2011 and 2012.

Have you made any new years resolutions for 2013? Here's a list of 10 of the most popular; see if yours hits the list!

Guest Blog: The “Abandoned Property Bill”: A Landlord’s Obligations Finally Clarified

This is a guest blog written by Steven T. Boell originally posted to, the law firm of Fitzpatrick, Lentz & Bubba.

The question is one often asked by residential landlords:  “My tenant’s gone. What do I do with all the belongings he left behind?”  The controlling law, the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, did not address the issue and no court decision established a clear procedure.  This left a residential landlord in a quandary.  Dispose of the property and risk legal action from the tenant for loss of his possessions or store the property at landlord’s own cost for an undefined time and attempt to locate the tenant.

The Abandoned Property Bill (Act 129 of 2012) became law on August 31, 2012.  The law amends the Landlord and Tenant Act and requires a tenant to remove personal property from the premises at the time the tenant gives up possession.

Once the premises is relinquished, the landlord must notify the tenant of his right to retrieve any personal property left behind.   However, even this notice is not required if the landlord’s rights under the statute are specified in a “writ of possession” from a Magisterial District Judge; this provides significant benefit as a “writ of possession” is the legal vehicle through which eviction is achieved.

If the tenant communicates his intention to retrieve the personal property, the landlord must store the personal property for thirty (30) days to facilitate such retrieval.  During this time, the tenant’s property may be relocated to a reasonable location to allow the premises to be reoccupied.  If the tenant fails to give notice of his intention or, after notice, fails to retrieve the property within thirty (30) days, the landlord will have “no further responsibility to the former tenant” and may dispose of the property however the landlord chooses.

If the landlord decides to sell the personal property, the landlord can keep from the proceeds of the sale an amount sufficient to cover any sums that the tenant owes the landlord under the lease.  The remainder of the proceeds must be sent (by certified mail) to the tenant’s new address. If a tenant fails to provide a new address, the landlord must hold the proceeds for an additional thirty (30) days. After thirty (30) days, the landlord can keep the balance of the proceeds of the sale.

This change to the law finally provides guidance to landlords (and their property managers) of their obligations in dealing with this common problem.  To ensure you strictly comply with the law’s technical requirements, you may wish to consult an attorney for advice.

This article was published in the November/December 2012 edition of Lehigh Valley Marketplace.