A CULTURAL CARNIVAL COMES TO DOWNTOWN: LATINOS MOVING FORWARD 2014

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LMF 2014Mayor Pawlowski’s 6th annual Latinos Moving Forward was held earlier in the month at the Holiday Inn, Center City.  Over 600 attended the free event which featured food, entertainment, cultural booths, and leadership awards, all with a Latin flavor.

Ethnic food was donated by 12 local restaurants, with 13 cultural and organizational booths providing information for those in attendance.  Entertainment featured DJ Ricky Vega, and 8 performances including Latin Music sensation Lusito Rosario.  Local radio host Alfa Lopez of WHOL, La Ola Radio, served as Master of Ceremonies.

“The Latino community makes tremendous contributions to the social and economic well-being of the Lehigh Valley and our great state,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “Only by working together, regardless of our cultural backgrounds, have we made this city what it is today, a truly ethnically diverse community.  Our children go to school and play together, we work and pray together, and we will work together as a united city.”

Mayor Pawlowski presented several Latino Leadership Awards to members of the community.  Olga Negron received the Local Government Leader Award; Hogar Crea received the Community Leader Award, while the Mayor presented the Business Leader Award to Dr. Pavel E. Terreros.

“I am proud of my involvement with the Latino Community, and have worked closely with Latino religious and community leaders since I was elected Mayor of Allentown, and will continue to do so to build a better Allentown for everyone,” said the Mayor.

One of the purposes of Latinos Moving Forward is to encourage the Latino Community to register to vote, and utilize the power of voting on Election Day to make positive change for the Latino Community in Allentown.  Over 100 residents registered to vote at the event, while over 300 signed “I pledge to vote” agreements.

GET AMPED TO SHOP DOWNTOWN: INTRODUCING THE AMP GIFT CARDS

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Hamilton District Main Street Program launched the Allentown Merchants Payment (AMP) gift cards which can be used at participating downtown merchants.  The program is designed to encourage Allentown and Lehigh Valley residents to once again shop in downtown Allentown.

Currently, the gift cards are accepted at more than 30 businesses that include restaurants, museums, salons, the Phantoms Hockey Phan Shop and other retail stores.  AMP cards can be purchased from $10 to $500 from the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Allentown Art Museum.

“The AMP program is a great way to support Allentown merchants” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.  “The gift cards offer customers the flexibility of using the card at multiple merchants.  We have great shopping options and restaurants downtown, and I encourage all Lehigh Valley residents to take advantage of the AMP cards and spend a day or night shopping and dining.  I think you’ll be impressed with what you find.”

More information and a full list of participating merchants can be found at http://www.downtownallentown.com.

EXPANDING EQUALITY IN ALLENTOWN: SITE OF NEW LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER ANNOUNCED

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Pennsylvania Diversity Network announced plans to redevelop a blighted property at 1021 W. Turner Street in Allentown into the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.  The center will provide programs and services for the LGBT community, and will be one of only six in the state, and the first in the Lehigh Valley.  Allentown has a long history of welcoming gay and lesbian residents into its borders and supporting the LGBT Community.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski and project organizers announced they are working with the Allentown Redevelopment Authority to acquire the dilapidated 7,000 square foot building for $1.00.

Pawlowski said, “Allentown is a diverse community. Any 21st century city that is active, growing and vibrant is going to be diverse. We celebrate that diversity today with the announcement of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. We’re pleased to be able to assist in the effort to bring services to the people of the community.”

While there are already agencies in the area providing services to segments of the LGBT population, the Community Center will be a catalyst to bring these services to one convenient location.

Adrian Shanker, a leading LGBT activist for the community center and former President of Equality PA, hopes to launch a fundraising campaign to collect the $75,000 needed to show community interest, and says that the group is also pursuing support from foundations and corporate sponsors. Shanker said that organizers are eager to be a part of the Allentown Renaissance, bolstered by the new PPL Center hockey arena and the NIZ tax zone.

Allentown City Councilman Pete Schweyer, who was instrumental in aiding discussions of the project, said, “Any time we have an opportunity to take a blighted property and merge it with a successful nonprofit to turn it into a community project that will benefit the community at large, I think it’s a benefit for everybody.”

A FISCALLY STRONGER ALLENTOW: RESULTS OF THE 2013 AUDIT REPORT

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the City Allentown showed the city is on a better financial footing than previous years due to eliminating all of the city’s crippling unfunded pension liability.  This was accomplished by the Water and Sewer concession lease which brought the City when the city completed a 50-year concession lease agreement of its water and sewer utility system which pumped $211 million into the City’s coffers.

“I’m pleased that in 2013 we were able to see a strengthening of the city’s financial position by realizing such a significant “Net Change in Fund Balance,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “This important improvement is indicative of the extremely hard work and effort put in by all city employees to work towards this goal. This achievement also recognizes the successful efforts of City Council & the City Controller to effectively control spending and to consistently monitor activities on both sides of the ledger.”

The city continues to see new business growth and employment opportunities.  Investments in the NIZ development area will provide a source of tax revenues which will ensure a more stable financial position.

The city is rated A3 with a stable outlook by Moody’s Investors Service and BBB+ with a positive outlook by S&P.

The city will continue efforts for revenue initiatives and also implementing cost control measures in order to keep the momentum of this success moving forward.

The CAFR has been published on the city’s website at http://www.allentownpa.gov.

EXPLORING THE QUEEN CITY: LATEST ADVENTURE ALLENTOWN GUIDE NOW AVAILABLE

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AdventureAllentownFall14The fall and winter edition of Adventure Allentown is now available, and gives information about leisure activities available to the public in Allentown.

The Adventure Allentown guide contains information on special events, youth and adult programs; city parks and golf; music and theater; the library and museums; outdoor adventure and other useful information for city park and recreation services. The guide also includes a list of park amenities, recent and upcoming park improvements, event schedules and a comprehensive list of community agencies dedicated to youth, adults and senior citizens.

“Adventure Allentown is a must read,” said Pawlowski. “It informs residents and visitors about our program offerings that affirm Allentown’s commitment to fitness, healthy lifestyles, the arts, and economic vitality through events that introduce the public to the city’s greatest assets. I am very proud of the awards that Adventure Allentown has garnered since it was first published in 2008.”

Copies of the fall and winter guide are available in free outdoor publication racks located throughout the city.  Residents may also pick-up a copy at the Allentown City Hall, the Parks and Recreation offices on Parkway Boulevard.  For questions, please call 610-437-7750 or email Sara.Shepherd@AllentownPA.gov.

BUILDING A STRONGER COMMUNITY: INAUGURAL COPS MEET BLOCK BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

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Cops Meet Block PicA group of Allentown Police Officers and local youth recently participated in the first official “Cops Meet Block” basketball tournament at Cedar Beach Park.  The event was organized by Reverend Daniel Blount, pastor at Union Baptist Church and a resident of Allentown, to promote a better relationship between law enforcement and youth in the city.

“We’re all here for you to talk to before you make any bad decisions,” said Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, who donned a pair of high tops to play.  “Come talk to us, talk over your situation, and we can help you make better choices.”

Spectators in the audience included Mayor Pawlowski, who provided free t-shirts to all the participants, Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller, and State Representative Mike Schlossberg, who donated 200 hot dogs and buns for the event.

“This is a great chance for you guys to get to know these police officers,” Mayor Pawlowski told the participants before the games began.  “These guys are your friends, not your enemies.  They’re here to help you and keep you safe.  They could be doing anything today, but they took the time to be here with you, and I’d like to thank them for that.”  The Mayor concluded with a remark that made everyone laugh:  “Go easy on our men in blue, they have to work tomorrow.”

 

 

KEEPING ALLENTOWN CLEAN AND GREEN: CITY AWARDED $280,000 RECYCLING GRANT

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The City of Allentown will receive a Recycling Program Performance Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for its exemplary efforts in recycling.

The grant is based on the type and weight of materials recycled from residential, commercial and drop-off recycling programs throughout the city.   Allentown residents and businesses recycled more than 21,500 tons of residential and commercial materials in 2012.

The residents of Allentown and our business community have been enthusiastic participants in the recycling program,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski. “We have recycled an additional 1,500 tons of material over our 2011 total.”

Pennsylvania Act 101 requires that municipalities with populations over 10,000 offer curbside recycling in order to reduce Pennsylvania’s municipal waste generation.  The act seeks to recycle at least 35% of waste generated in the state, and to use recycled and recyclable materials in state government agencies.  Educating the public about the benefits of recycling is also a goal of the act.

“We are able to provide quality services and programs to our residents and businesses as a result of these grants,” said Ann Saurman, Manager of the Bureau of Recycling and Solid Waste. “This particular grant is based 100 percent on performance. I am very grateful to all our residents, businesses and schools for their outstanding participation.”

Allentown offers curbside recycling of newspaper, cardboard, paperboard, magazines, catalogs, mail, phone books and all types of white and colored paper; plastic bottles, jars, tubs and containers marked with numbers #1 through #7; glass bottles and jars (clear, brown and green); aluminum cans, foil and pie plates; steel cans; yard waste; and appliances and large metal items. The city also offers city residents recycling of electronic devices.

Recycling is a billion dollar industry in Pennsylvania, generating significant economic and environmental benefits.

The city’s recycling program has won awards from the Pennsylvania DEP, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Recycling Coalition, the Solid Waste Association of North America, the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania, Keystone Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America and the Pennsylvania Waste Industries Association.

For more information on recycling programs in the city, call the Bureau of Recycling and Solid Waste at 610-437-8729, or visit the bureau website at www.allentownrecycles.org.