Bethlehem Press

Sunday, June 25, 2017

DA says no to courthouse time clocks

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Many Northampton County employees who work at the jail and at Gracedale already punch timeclocks. But John Brown wants to use them countywide, including at the courthouse and at the Human Services building. HR Director Amy Trapp has argued they will reduce paperwork, save time and even be beneficial for employees in the long run. But employees resent them. They find the practice degrading, and feel that being compelled to supply their fingerprint for a biometric device is an infringement of their privacy.

Judge Koury sentences Atkins -- ‘A heartless human being who lacks social conscience’

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Following a four-day trial, a Northampton County jury found Royce Atkins, 23, guilty in November in a fatal hit-and-run that killed 9-year old Darius Condash. The accident itself occurred almost exactly one year before when Condash, accompanied by an older friend and cousin, crossed busy Schoenersville Road - a five-lane highway - at night. Atkins hit and killed Condash, but failed to stop. He said nothing, waiting for police to find him. But in phone conversations from jail to his father and girlfriend, he said too much.

Gracedale profit less than first stated

Monday, February 13, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

On Jan. 19, Executive John Brown told Northampton County Council that he expected Gracedale, the county-owned nursing home, to finish 2016 about $800,000 in the black. But at council’s Feb. 3 meeting, as the picture becomes clearer, Brown now says the net profit will only be about $200,000. This would still be the first time since 2007 that the facility turned a profit.

Commissioners unable to find right words for public library referendum

Monday, February 6, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

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.

Norco Gaming Board is patient about host fees

Monday, February 6, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

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.

Homeowner’s solar panel plan rejected

Monday, January 30, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

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.