Bethlehem Press

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Northampton Co.: New plan floated to save area bridges

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Northampton County owns no public roads, but it does own and maintain 115 bridges. According to a two-year old study by Keystone Crossroads, 25 percent of these county-owned bridges are structurally deficient, meaning they need repairs or replacement. Three have been closed. Bridge repairs are costly. The county budgets about $780,000 a year for bridge maintenance. In 2013, then-Executive John Stoffa persuaded Northampton County Council to float a $7.1 million bond that would only fix nine bridges.

Bethlehem Twp. - Brodhead Road again a priority

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

In August, Bethlehem Township Commissioners tabled the engineering of a $3.9 million re-paving project for Brodhead Road. That’s an 8,500-foot road between Township Line Road, which borders Hanover Township, and Route 191. This road is a major thoroughfare for truck traffic at adjoining industrial parks, and few dispute it is in need of serious repair. But after being shot down on a $2.7 million grant request with the Commonwealth Financing Agency in July, township officials became concerned about cost.

Northampton Co.: Council considers backing Boscola bill

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

The Bethlehem Press recently ran a series about gerrymandering and the bipartisan redistricting reform bills sponsored by State Senator Lisa Boscola and State Rep. David Parker.

One longtime advocate of this kind of reform is NorCo Council member Peg Ferraro, a Republican. She was in the audience at a recent forum concerning the gerrymander at Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethlehem. She and Democrat Ken Kraft agreed to cosponsor a resolution calling on the state legislature to enact changes in the redistricting process that will prevent legislators from picking their voters.

Does Norco need a new jail?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

In 2000, then County Executive Glenn Reibman advised council that a new jail was needed to replace one built in 1871. He proposed a multi-phase plan, and got one $29 million addition.

In 2008, then Executive John Stoffa informed council that a new jail was needed, and proposed moving county offices to Gracedale while building a new jail at a cost ranging between $130 and $160 million. Stoffa got a work release center in West Easton for a maximum of 100 residents.

Now, it’s Executive John Brown’s turn. At a Sept. 14 meeting, Corrections Director Dan Keen pitched a new jail.

Gerrymandering

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Opinion

‘[O]ur current system ... a tainted, corrupt, disingenuous mess’

Whether they love her or hate her, few would dispute that Democrat Lisa Boscola is very popular in her state senatorial district, which includes Bethlehem. Some of her Bethlehem constituents may actually love her. But leaders in the state house and senate? Not so much.

“I swear, if there was a bridge you could build to New Jersey, they’d put me there,” she only half-jokes.

Norco Council to hold remote meetings

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

By an 8-0 vote, Northampton County Council decided at its Sept. 1 meeting to take the show on the road. Believe it or not, their first stop, on Oct. 6, will be at ArtsQuest SteelStacks. If all goes well, council will consider meetings in all four corners of the county. Several membersjokingly suggested Detzi’s Tavern, a popular sports bar in Wind Gap.

In county business, council voted 8-0 to adopt a resolution opposing state legislation that will prohibit county recorders from charging fees when condominium association amendments are indexed against individual owners.

No grounds for dismissal of county employee, state court decides

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. That’s pretty basic stuff, enshrined in our federal and state Constitution. But according to the second highest court in this country, Northampton County violated this basic right, and with one of its own lawyers. A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals decided late Friday that Jill Mancini’s due process rights were violated when the county decided to fire her without giving her any prior notice or opportunity to be heard.

Frank Flisser: Like father, like son

Tuesday, September 20, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

The Rev. Frank Flisser was the pastor at St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church, located on Bethlehem’s Southside, for 35 years. He also served on the zoning hearing board, and for 35 years, with the Bethlehem Housing Authority.

While this community-minded cleric attended meetings, his son Frank started hanging around with a short but determined basketball player named John Morganelli and another kid just down the street named Bob Donchez.

Gerrymandering: How Our Elections Really Are Rigged - Part One

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Opinion

Before the 2014 Pennsylvania state and congressional races, Democrats outnumbered Republicans in voter registration by a 50 to 37 percent margin. But when the election was over, Republicans occupied 60 percent of the seats in the state legislature and controlled 13 of the state’s congressional seats. How can a minority rule in a representative democracy? That can be answered with one word.

Gerrymandering.