Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Perils of a magisterial district judge

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Northampton County Council is currently considering six leases for magisterial district judges. Those leases were held by Executive John Brown for eight weeks before the court insisted that Council should review them. Brown wanted to renegotiate terms already established by the courts.

Three Magisterial District Judges - Alicia Zito, Nancy Matos Gonzalez and Dan Corpora - were at a council committee meeting Oct. 18 to discuss the need for offices in which they can feel safe. Matos Gonzalez, who has presided in South Bethlehem for the past 26 years, spoke for them.

NorCo-Ken Kraft under nepotism scrutiny

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Under Northampton County’s career service rules, a job vacancy must first be offered to someone who already works for the county. As positions become open, county staffers often apply. This gives qualified people a chance to move up and prove themselves. But when a department head concludes that no one on the inside is qualified for an open slot, he or she can hire someone from the outside. One such recent outside hire by Human Resources Director Amy Trapp is raising eyebrows.

NorCo’s Brown: No tax hike in balanced budget

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Standing inside Gracedale’s Chapel, Northampton County Executive John Brown answered the prayers of many taxpayers on Oct. 3 when he discussed his budget for next year. That’s because, for the third year in a row, he’s been able to dodge a tax hike. Also, in what may very well be a first in Northampton County, he has avoided dipping into cash reserves to balance his $402 million spending plan. It’s a true balanced budget. Brown thanked his cabinet and the county work force several times. “Employees are the county’s most valuable resource,” is part of his message.

NorCo-Brown says no jail at Gracedale

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Over the past three county election cycles, Gracedale has been a dominant issue. An effort to sell the public nursing home sparked a rare public referendum in 2011 in which voters overwhelmingly voted the keep it. Since that time, county candidates have universally made their own support clear. Now a possible jail at Gracedale has galvanized Nazareth area residents. They have packed into both County Council meetings on October 5 and 22 to oppose any new jail at Gracedale. They have circulated an online petition, gathering over 1,000 signatures.

Board reluctant to gamble with $745k in slots revenue

Thursday, October 19, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

According to its treasurer, Tom Nolan, Northampton County’s Gaming Board is sitting on a $745,128 mountain of cash. That’s how much was in its restricted account, i.e.; the one that pays municipal grants, at the end of August. At their Sept. 25 meeting, board members made clear that they are in no hurry to award grants. That’s because, if they do, the state could ask that the money be refunded.

NORCO: Audit finds questionable use of P-Cards

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Northampton County’s Human Resources Department spent $3,950 on gift cards for county employees in late 2016 without prior approval. It is unable to explain how many of them were actually used by employees. That’s the major finding in an audit of the county’s credit cards, called P-cards. The audit, performed by Controller Steve Barron and Lead Auditor Frank Kedl, was presented to county council and Executive John Brown on Sept. 29. The audit finds P-Card abuse and misuse and is recommending that the county overhaul its staff training and travel policies.

Council votes to allow LERTA in city

Thursday, October 12, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

By a 5-3 vote, Northampton County Council approved a LERTA program in North Bethlehem at its Sept. 21 meeting. Ken Kraft, Seth Vaughn, Mat Benol and Bob Werner voted yes. Hayden Phillips, Matt Dietz and President John Cusick cast no votes. Peg Ferraro, who did support the LERTA, missed the meeting. This left everything in the hands of Glenn Geissinger, the sole council member who has said nothing about this subject.

He voted yes.

LERTA is an acronym for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance.

Man charged in Lehigh Twp. shooting

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Cousin dies; wife hospitalized, dog treated for foot injury

John Michael Hann, 61, was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of homicide and attempted homicide in connection with a shooting in Lehigh Township the night before.

Hann is accused of shooting and killing his cousin, Joseph F. Mullner, 64.

Mullner’s wife Melinda, who called police at 6:26 p.m. on Wednesday to report what had happened, was also shot.

She is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

Lehigh Township police found her husband’s body in the driveway of their Longacre Drive home.

Man charged in Lehigh Township shooting

Friday, October 6, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Cousin dies; wife hospitalized dog treated for foot injury

John Michael Hann, 61, was arraigned Thursday afternoon on charges of homicide and attempted homicide in connection with a shooting in Lehigh Township on Wednesday night.

Hann is accused of shooting and killing his cousin, Joseph F. Mullner, 64.

Mullner’s wife Melinda, who called police at 6:26 p.m. on Wednesday to report what had happened, was also shot.

She is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

Lehigh Township police found her husband’s body in the driveway of their Longacre Drive home.

Anderson campus to double capacity

Monday, October 2, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

At their Sept. 18 meeting, Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve an expansion at St. Luke’s 500-acre Anderson campus that will allow the hospital to double its capacity. “Tower Two,” a four-story hospital building nearly identical to the main site, is what St. Luke’s Vice President Ray Miolam calls the next chapter in the development of the Anderson campus. He anticipates the project will be complete in two and one-half years, with construction starting next spring.

Voting yes were Malissa Davis, Mike Hudak, Howard Kutzler and Tom Nolan. Pat Breslin was absent.