If you’re Northampton County, the answer is nothing.
Thanks to a generous and anonymous donation, the county is acquiring a drug-sniffing Belgian Malinois to add to its corrections staff. The donation will cover both the purchase and training. It will be the first K-9 dog ever used in the county. No word on whether it’s joining the union.
“We’re very excited about the prospect of a trained K-9 working with our Department of Corrections,” said county Executive Lamont McClure. “We see this as an opportunity to lower the costs of drug testing and reduce our man hours.”
Many municipal pensions statewide are underfunded, which leads to tax increases. No such problem exists in Northampton County. At the retirement board’s July 26 meeting, Pension Fund Manager John Spagnola reported that the pension is funded at over 90 precent, with over $415 million. In addition, a separate fund set up for medical benefits has $41 million.
Gracedale, often referred to as the jewel of Northampton County, is home to about 670 senior citizens. They had a special visitor Friday, when U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) stopped by to meet with them and speak with workers. One of them gave him a box filled with tiny Moravian stars, and another provided a Nazareth baseball cap. Casey made sure he greeted every resident he could, and then spoke to the staff from a pavilion on the campus.
He described a strong America in which people help each other.
At its July 19 meeting, Northampton County Council voted 8-0 to confirm Richard H. Johnston as Sheriff. He is also the joint top choice of both Executive Lamont McClure and President Judge Michael Koury Jr.
Johnston’s salary will be $89,235.
Peg Ferraro, who was absent for Johnston’s confirmation hearing the previous day, abstained.
A hit-and-run driver whose car struck and killed a 9-year-old boy in 2015 as he crossed Schonersville Road will stay behind bars for four years.
County solicitor Melissa Rudas, age 55, has been charged with driving under the influence after a July 8 traffic stop in Bethlehem. Her blood alcohol was 0.08, the lowest level BAC under which a person can be presumed to be under the influence. Charges were filed Thursday with Magisterial District Judge Nicolas Englesson. Rudas has been released on $5,000 unsecured bail.
The last 12 months have been very unprofitable for at least some Northampton County drug dealers. For the fiscal year ending June 30, District Attorney John Morganelli’s office has seized $280,907 in U.S. currency – the most money his office has taken out of the hands of local drug lords in the past five years. In addition, his office has sold 10 vehicles.
Eight years ago, Bethlehem Township and St.Luke’s Hospital entered into a three-phase master development agreement for $40 million in improvements to Freemansburg Avenue, which is the main access point to the hospital’s Anderson campus. Two of these phases are substantially completed, and construction on the third phase is imminent. Bethlehem Township Commissioners voted 4-0 at a lightly-attended July 16 meeting on new timetables for the final third phase. What this means is that all road work outside the hospital should be done within the next six years.
It’s seen better days. When Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Co. Engine 1742 was first placed in service in 1995, it was a four-wheel drive behemoth capable of traveling off road to deliver a 500-gallon payload. In addition to extinguishing brush fires, its off road capabilities made it suitable for accidents in which cars are knocked off the highway. But after a 2002 accident that caused significant damage, firefighters can no longer use it as a front line resource.
On June 21, Northampton County Council adopted a strongly-worded resolution calling for the resignations of General Purpose Authority (GPA) Chair Shawn Langen and Solicitor John Lushis. This followed a lengthy meeting the day before, in which Langen suggested once or twice that Council might lack his understanding of high finance. But when Council member Lori Vargo Heffner asked him to explain what he does, he refused to answer. He instead complained that the meeting, which he earlier derided as a “dog and pony show,” was making him late for a dinner party.