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.
Bethlehem Sands has been warned that if it persists in its refusal to pay the $10 million annual host fee, as other casinos have pledged, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli just might exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and direct the gaming house to pursue civil remedies for petty crimes like bad checks. Sands has bristled at Morganelli’s threat, pointing to a $1 billion investment in Bethlehem, including the creation of 2,500 jobs.
What has happened?
When Olga Negrón-Dipini and Michael Colón were elected to Bethlehem City Council a little over a year ago, neither had any monetary support from the usual gaggle of developers, lawyers and engineers who have business dealings with the city. That’s a claim few other council members or Mayor Bob Donchez can make.
Negrón-Dipini and Colón would like that to change, and have introduced a 31-page good government ordinance that takes aim at the pay-to-play practices so common in government. It was introduced Jan. 3.
On Christmas Day 2016, a huge crowd of about 10,000, brought out by mild weather, left their homes to watch or participate in a re-enactment of what is known as Washington’s Crossing, a daring raid on a Hessian encampment at Trenton. This event took place at Washington Crossing Park, located on both sides of the Delaware River, less than an hour’s drive from Bethlehem.
Gen. George Washington, whose army of 20,000 had disintegrated to a scant 2,400, gambled everything on the success of this attack. “Victory or Death!” was the password.