Airbnb is a global Internet travel community enabling people to rent out their homes and become hospitability entrepreneurs. There are 140 hosts in Northampton County who welcomed 8,800 guests to share their homes in the past year. In 2017, the typical host took in $3,900 in annual income from sharing a home for approximately three nights per month. Starting this month, Northampton County will be collecting hotel taxes from this online service.
In late April, Bethlehem police responded to what they thought was a burning mannequin at the Parkhurst Apartments complex. What they discovered was a grisly horror. It was a human being, later identified as Tyrell Michael Holmes, age 18. He had been stabbed and set afire while still alive, as determined by the presence of smoke in his lungs.
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli determined that Holmes had been conscious and in extreme pain, and that an accelerant had been used to help burn him alive. No charges have been filed.
Bethlehem’s Zoning Hearing Board is known for marathon meetings, sometimes taking testimony over several nights before deciding whether to grant a variance. But at their July 25 meeting, they heard three separate zoning appeals in less than an hour.
Eugene Takacs was granted a dimensional variance to erect a 15-by-15 foot deck at his property at 1621 East Blvd. He is allowed 25 percent building coverage on his lot, but the deck puts him at 27 percent.
At their Aug 2 meeting, Northampton County Council members voted unanimously to appoint Administrator Charles Dertinger to the county’s beleaguered General Purpose Authority (GPA). He replaces Executive Lamont McClure, who served for exactly eight days. McClure quipped that he now holds the record as the GPA board member with the least amount of service.
McClure resigned in response to a complaint by GPA Chair Shawn Langen, who argued that a 1941 Pa. Supreme Court decision precludes the executive from service. Rather than litigate the matter, McClure bowed out.
You can add Hanover Townshipp (Northampton County) to the list over 270 counties, cities, townships and boroughs fighting for redistricting reform in Harrisburg. At their July 24 meeting, supervisors voted 3-1 in favor of a resolution supporting a constitutional change that will allow an independent and inclusive commission to draw the boundaries for state legislative and congressional races.
Supporting this nonbinding resolution were Susan Lawless, Michael Prendeville and John Diacogiannis. Voting No was Steve Salvesen. Jack Nagle was absent.
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.