Nearly every year, Bethlehem Township Commissioners grumble about funding the Bethlehem Area Public Library. Its operations are financed by Bethlehem, Bethlehem Township, Hanover Township and Fountain Hill Borough. Bethlehem Township has 9,749 cardholders, including 528 new cardholders in 2015. That translates to 41 percent of the township’s population.
Late last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the host fee that casinos must pay each year, concluding that it violates the state constitution’s uniformity clause. Though the state legislature was given until Jan. 26 to enact a legislative fix, it has thus far been unable to do so.
Three state senators sought and were granted an extension until May 26. But Justice David Wecht dissented. “This court should not, and I daresay properly cannot, ease the burdens of democracy by suspending the Pennsylvania Constitution at the first sign of political gridlock,” he wrote.
Pawel Zelinski, a proponent of “free energy” and “being green,” is willing to pay $23,000 for solar panels on his Ninth Avenue home. But at the Jan. 24 meeting, Bethlehem’s Zoning Hearing Board decided that being safe trumps being green. They unanimously rejected plans that would permit Zelinski to install solar panels as close as two feet away from the edge of the roof.
During Freemansburg’s popular National Night Out in early August, you’ll find Mayor Gerald Yob behind the grill. Instead of surrounding himself with fawning sycophants, he grills hamburgers and hot dogs, and at no charge, for hungry people.
You’ll see him at every parade and borough event. On Northampton County’s Gaming Authority, with his quiet but very effective voice for his borough’s 2,600 residents, he managed to persuaded his much larger neighbors to fund a grant for a modern police station.
Sara Packer, an ex-adoption supervisor in Northampton County and foster mother to at least 30 children, has been charged in the brutal rape, murder and dismemberment of her 15 year-old adopted daughter, Grace. This situation has raised all kinds of questions about how Packer was hired and promoted, and why she was fired.
Though final numbers are still pending, Executive John Brown reported to Northampton County Council Jan. 19 that he expects Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home, to finish 2016 about $800,000 in the black. If those numbers hold, it will be the first time since 2007 that the facility turned a profit.
A fellow at the losing end of a custody battle used to stand outside the NorCo courthouse every morning. He carried handwritten signs lambasting several county judges, as well as Children, Youth and Families (CYF) Division. From time to time, child abuse awareness groups also protest on the courthouse steps. All are regarded with healthy skepticism.
John Cusick was easily re-elected as president in a brief council meeting Jan. 3.
It was a 7-1-1 vote. Democrat Ken Kraft voted to install fellow Democrat Bob Werner as president, but Werner abstained. The seven Republicans supported Cusick, who was nominated by Matt Dietz.
Cusick said he’d like to see the county move forward this year with a new jail, 911 merger with Bethlehem and an overdue but politically unpopular re-assessment. He added that an overhaul of the Administrative Code is needed.
As recently as last year, you could get a dog license at any number of locations aside from the courthouse in Easton or Centralized Human Services Building on Emrick Boulevard in Bethlehem Township.
You could also get one at The Center For Animal Health and Welfare (Williams Township), Sandy King’s Pet Supplies (Easton), Affordable Pet Center (Northampton), AVH Veterinary Group (Pen Argyl), Neighbors Home and Garden Center (Hellertown), Super Petz and Canine Grooming Shoppe (both in Bethlehem), and Mike’s Bait and Sport Shop (Nazareth).
At their Jan. 5 meeting, Northampton County commissioners discovered that an innovative bridge-bundling project, under which 33 of the county’s 119 bridges will be repaired or replaced, will be about $1.5 million more expensive than originally thought. It will also take at least a year longer to complete, thanks to litigation pending in Commonwealth Court. But Executive John Brown told council it is still the way to go.