Bethlehem Press

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Northampton County, VA to offer new discount ID cards

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Northampton County’s Director of Veterans Affairs, Freddie Ramirez, has teamed up with the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce to start a new discount ID program with various participating merchants. This is a benefit that will extend to all former members of the military, including those who served in the Reserves or National Guard.

Any county resident who was discharged honorably or under honorable conditions can ask for a Veterans Affairs Photo Identification Card. This can then be used for discounts or special offers from participating merchants.

Northampton County--Updating Gracedale’s financial health

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

A few short years ago, Northampton County officials voted to sell Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home. They were stopped by the citizens in a 2011 referendum.

Reforms were implemented to make the nursing home more solvent. A private administrator was hired. Unions surrendered $2.5millionin benefits every year. The census began to climb.

The Morning Call recently reported that Gracedale has finally turned the corner, and is projected to net between $1.6 and 2.4 million this year. But at a November 2 budget hearing, county officials were decidedly more cautious.

Atkins convicted

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Hit-and-run driver’s explanation fails to sway jury

Following a four-day trial in a crowded Northampton County courtroom, Royce Atkins, age 23, was convicted Nov. 3 in a hit-and-run accident that ended the life of 9-year-old Darious Condash, a fourth grade student at Sheckler ES in Catasaqua.

Condash was killed by a car driven by Atkins on Schoenersville Road when he stopped to pick up a piece of candy in the company of an older cousin and friend.

The jury reached its verdict after just two hours of deliberation, spending only slightly more time than defense attorney Jack McMahon took in his closing argument.

Hit-run verdict proves the system still works

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Opinion

Following a four-day trial, a Northampton County jury found Royce Atkins, 23, guilty yesterday in a fatal hit-and-run that killed nine-year old Darius Condash. The accident itself occurred almost exactly one year ago when Condash, accompanied by an older friend and cousin, crossed busy Schoenersville Road - a five lane highway - at night. But this case was about much more than the actual verdict. The question to me was whether money buys justice. In this case, the answer is No.

Ninth no-tax-hike budget in a row

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

When Hanover Township supervisors met Oct. 25, a brightly lit firetruck was parked nearby. There were no emergencies, but a volunteer firefighter was running tests on the township’s new 100-foot ladder truck. “We just put it into service last night,” he beamed. That truck came with a $1.2 million price tag.

Hanover Township just wrote a check. There was no line of credit or bond with accompanying debt service. In fact, the township has been debt-free for over a year.

Norco backs redistricting fairness

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Following every census, Pennsylvania’s top legislative leaders huddle to slice up state and Congressional districts. This is called redistricting and reapportionment. But instead of drawing up compact boundaries that preserve communities as much as possible, our legislators have drawn up districts that make little sense unless the goal is to protect an incumbent in office.

Law clerk salaries raise questions

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

A recent investigation into the salaries paid to Northampton County’s nine law clerks reveals that they are being paid 32 percent above the annual mean salary for law clerks in Pennsylvania. This is leading them to make careers out of what traditionally is a one or two year job. Since 2010, they have been paid $110,225 on top of their salaries to process no-fault divorce decrees, even though that is already a part of their job description. Some are also moonlighting for attorneys who practice before Northampton County judges.

What is a law clerk?

Gracedale loses rating over resident suicide

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

For years, Gracedale has been trying to sell the licenses for its 37 excess beds. It finally sealed a deal with Wyndmoore Care Center for $700,000. Payment is to be received on or before Oct. 30. In addition to the revenue, this sale paves the way to higher Medicaid reimbursement rates when 90 percent or more of the licensed beds are filled. Gracedale is now at 98 percent capacity.

Commuters may lose N.J. tax benefit

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

While Bethlehem Township is pondering a no-tax-hike budget next year, hold off on the celebrations. Manager Melissa Shafer warned commissioners at their Oct. 17 meeting about something that could have a very negative impact on the township’s New Jersey commuters. It could also delay the flow of tax revenue next year. Shafer is referring to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s proposed termination of a Pa.-NJ reciprocal tax deal.

Election 2016: The voter fraud myth

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Without offering specifics, GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that the Nov. 8 election “is going to be rigged.” On the campaign trail, he has said the only way he can lose Pennsylvania is if there is “cheating,” so “[w]e have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.”