Northampton County’s founding document, often called its Constitution, is a Home Rule Rule Charter that was written and approved by the voters in 1977. That was long before there were laptops, tablets and iPhones At its March 3 meeting, Northampton County Council unanimously approved a measure designed to both save money and take advantage of the changes brought about by the Internet.
But because it is a change to the Home Rule Charter, it will also have to be approved by the voters during this Spring’s primary.
Bethlehem’s NAACP, founded in 1945, calls itself the “eyes and ears” of social justice in the Christmas City and the Lehigh Valley. President Esther Lee, with her spirited style and church lady hats, is known for contentious town halls and frequent demonstrations on equal rights, education, suffrage, fair housing and other issues affecting us all.
But on Feb. 28, the raised fists of the NAACP were holding forks and spoons as over 250 well-wishers of all races celebrated “the pursuit of liberty and justice for all” at the 71st annual Freedom Fund Banquet held at the Meadows.
At its March 3 meeting, Northampton County Council voted unanimously to take aim at one of the county’s biggest concerns – its 119 bridges. What they passed is a bridge bundling program – first proposed by council member Bob Werner over two years ago – that employs common designs with fewer contracts to improve our infrastructure more efficiently and at less cost.
The legislation passed will bundle 33 bridges and convey them to the county’s General Purpose Authority, which will administer what is called a P3 (Public Private Partnership) program.
You might not think much of any restaurant that includes the words “Coke Works” in its name, but Nick Coke Works Restaurant was at one time a thriving eatery for the breakfast and lunch crowd driving between Hellertown and Bethlehem. It was located just off Main Street, and people had easy access to the parking lot.
Imagine a time when Bethlehem Township police officers had no cell phones, no two-way radios, and in some cases, only parts of a uniform. A time when police officers had to buy their own weapons. Or when officers on patrol had to swing by the municipal building periodically to see if a light was blinking at a nearby pole. If it was, that meant there was a call. There was no 911. No dispatch.
One of the very first things John Cusick did after being elected president of Northampton County Council was urge fellow council members to adopt a resolution authorizing a nonprofit study of Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home. The report is in, but was greeted with skepticism at council’s Feb. 18 meeting.
A 501c3 nonprofit is one that is exempt from federal income tax. Persons who make donations are able to deduct their contributions. It is barred from involvement in political campaigns.
Mother Nature has intervened, albeit temporarily, in the controversy over a proposed active senior golf course community located next to Bethlehem Township’s Green Pond Marsh. An ice storm has delayed the meeting at which commissioners were scheduled to decide on waivers and deferrals sought at what is now a 229-home development. The planning commission, at their Jan. 25 meeting, recommended approval, but commissioners have final say. They will now make their call at the March 7 meeting.
Deed restrictions prohibiting commercial or industrial use have stymied FedEx’s efforts to build a $335 million megahub for its delivery service in Allen Township for the past two years. This legal monkey wrench has also prevented Lehigh-Northampton Airport Authority from making its final, $7.1 million payment, on a $26 million award entered against the authority when it condemned the land in the ‘90s. But instead of walking away from the Lehigh Valley, Fed Ex is being lured by come hither looks being cast in its direction by Bethlehem.
Obviously, $2.1 million is a lot of money. So when Northampton County Executive John Brown told County Council at its Feb. 4 meeting that it only took $2.1 million to keep its nursing home Gracedale afloat last year, that’s still a lot of money. But the good news is that the county had budgeted $7.7 million. So Gracedale beat the budget forecast by $5.6 million.
According to Brown, the nursing home is moving in the right direction.
Pay-to-play and old fashioned political corruptions have been big stories in recent months, especially in Allentown and Reading. A bit of extortion here. A bit of bid-rigging there. In Reading, an honest-to-goodness bribe. Given this climate, few noticed what was going on in Lower Saucon Township. That’s where one corporation attempted to buy an election, and very nearly succeeded.