Study Finds Bethlehem Not As Good As It Thinks It Is

By Fenwick Jolsen

Published December 8th, 2014

BETHLEHEM — Attention Bethlehem residents: Turns out that you aren’t ‘all that and a bag of chips,’ after all.

A two-year study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has determined that Bethlehem’s perception of itself is actually distorted by its geographic location.

“The truth is, the high opinion Bethlehem people have of themselves simply isn’t justified,” said Hemlich Norstrum, lead researcher of the U-Penn study. “In fact, people there — and I know this might unnerve some residents— are… well… common. They’re just common.”

It seems Bethlehem’s huge ego is the result of its location in southern Albany County, said Derf Schmiegel, Norstrum’s research partner.

“Our research over the last two years showed time and again that there is really nothing extraordinary about Bethlehem,” Schmiegel explained. “The perception to the contrary is completely skewed, based solely on the fact that Bethlehem borders Selkirk and Clarksville. Hell, even Fort Edward looks good next to Selkirk.”

Rena Corson, a Delmar resident whose children are on the honor roll at Bethlehem High School, disputed the study’s findings.

“I’d like to see the methodology,” Corson said. “It seems pretty suspect to me. I was just having coffee with two other Bethlehem moms this morning and we all agreed we were the envy of the rest of Albany County.”

Norstrum said the study weighed not only residents’ incomes – which averaged slightly higher than other Capital region towns — but also culture, happiness, recreation, environment and education.

“In the end, Bethlehem’s cumulative score didn’t rate any higher really than Guilderland, Loudonville or Niskayuna,” said Norstrum. “And again, this may send some residents there into convulsions, but Bethlehem didn’t even rate that much higher than South Colonie.”


• Bethlehem Ponders Tighter Security After Visit By Watervliet Man
• “Super Food” to Blame for Divorce of Fit Bethlehem Power Couple
•  SPECIAL REPORT: Bethlehem Parents Decry ‘Average-Child’ Crisis
• Bethlehem to Remove “Welcome” Signs