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'Our Town: Bethlehem' broadcast approaches

Premiere screening seats nearly gone

Last November, producers from WMHT came to Bethlehem to ask its denizens just one question: What does Bethlehem mean to you?

That seemingly simple query returned so many responses the television station has extended what was planned to be an hour-long television show into 90 minutes. Our Town: Bethlehem will air on WMHT (PBS) stations on Thursday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m.

"There has been a great amount of interest. From the very beginning a lot of people turned out to our organizational meeting. There were over 30 stories submitted," said WMHT Senior Vice President Scott Sauer.

Station staff turned residents loose after a short training session late last year, and for a few weeks Bethlehemites used their own times and resources to provide footage to the station. From there, producers pared the footage down into the program that will be aired.

Bethlehem will be the second area featured in the revival of the "Our Town" series. A show on Amsterdam aired in November, and two other locations will be announced in the future.

The people and organizations submitting material reads like a who's who of Bethlehem. Stories will be told from the Fiver Rivers Center, the Jericho Drive-In, the Bethlehem Historical Association and Bethlehem Garden Club. Area children will do features on the schools and playgrounds in the area.

Sauer said he was particularly moved by Supervisor Sam Messina's submission, which was a salute to the town's veterans.

"It was talking about everything from the Memorial Day parade, to the service people have given the country to the Vietnam wall replica that came a few years ago," Sauer said.

Like in the Amsterdam project, residents will be welcomed to submit their own stories on the WMHT website following the broadcast, where they'll form an even greater compendium of all things Bethlehem.

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