Five Bethlehem Stories to Watch in 2013

In 2013, a new mayor will be elected, the municipal garbage debate will resume and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks will again make national sports news.


  • Bethlehem will elect a new mayor. John Callahan closes out the second of two full terms, the maximum allowed under the city’s home rule charter. Robert Donchez, currently serving his fifth term as a city councilman, is expected to run. Who else will toss their hat into the race? Nomination petitions can start circulating Feb. 19.
  • Voters will also pick a majority (four members) of City Council. The terms of Jean Belinski, David DiGiacinto, Karen Dolan and Council President Eric Evans expire this year. None of them has announced whether they plan to run for re-election. There will also be a school board election, with terms expiring for Board President Mike Faccinetto, Irene Follweiler, Aurea Ortiz and Shannon Patrick.
  • City Council did reject Mayor Callahan’s plan to include municipal garbage collection in the 2013 city budget. But the issue will rear its head again when the city accepts new bids on its municipal recycling collection contract, which expires at the end of September. The city is seeking bids from solid waste haulers that include recycling and garbage collection together and separately. And City Council members have said they will look at the issue again when it has those bids to view.
  • With the largest brownfield redevelopment site in U.S. history, there is likely to be more news this year about new projects coming to the old Bethlehem Steel complex. The Bethlehem Redevelopment Authority is commissioning a feasibility study on the potential for building a massive convention center near the Sands Casino Resort. Last year, Callahan said that the repurposing of the old Bethlehem Steel General Office building on E. Third Street was one of his top economic development priorities.
  • Lehigh University men’s basketball will make national news again this year. Still having most of the key players that led the team to its historic NCAA Tournament victory over Duke in March, the Mountain Hawks might be poised to make an even deeper tournament run this year. But whether or not that happens, pre-season All-American C.J. McCollum is currently leading the nation in scoring and will probably be a lottery pick in the June NBA draft.


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