On June 15, 2015, in the middle of a Bethlehem Township Commissioners’ meeting, between four and five inches of rain fell over the course of just three hours. Entire sections of roadway were washed out as the township ran out of barricades to warn passing motorists. The township spent $140,000 in emergency road repairs.
Could the recent violence between police officers and minority community members occur in Bethlehem?
That was the focus of a recent town hall, attended by over 60 people. “It is basically ripping our country apart,” said Police Chief Mark DiLuzio. “If we’re going to solve this problem, we’re going to have to put our dirty laundry out on the table, every single one of us.”
Kevin Dolan is a long-distance runner. Diagnosed with a weak heart many years ago, he hit the pavement and even began entering local races. He never wins. He understands that the real victory is in the effort. He has applied that same effort for the past 42 years in one of government’s most vital roles - helping children in crisis. He directs Northampton County’s Children, Youth and Families (CYF) division, where he oversees a 125-person staff with a $32 million budget.
Unfortunately, he’s very busy. He provided a glimpse into his world at council’s Aug. 18 meeting.
There will be be no pizza party this year. Gracedale’s two-year run as a deficiency-free nursing home is over. Raymond Soto, the nursing home’s new administrator, informed Northampton County Council at its Aug. 18 meeting that four deficiencies were noted by the State Department of Health in July. All relate to resident care.
Everyone agrees that Bethlehem Township’s nearly two-mile Brodhead Road is in dire need of repairs. Several residents have complained at prior meetings. But how will the township pay the $3.9 million re-paving pricetag?
Township officials had hoped that the state would award a $2.7 million grant for this needed project. But without explanation, the Commonwealth Financing Agency declined on July 1 to fund any more than $200,000.
National Night Out, held on the first Tuesday of August, is a chance for police and other first responders to get together with the local residents they serve and show them that they are here to serve.
Most people in Northampton County politics know Joanne Messenlehner as a Democratic activist, a two-time party chair who has orchestrated numerous campaigns over the years. What many don’t know is that she grew up on Bethlehem’s Southside. A Stofko, she was the first member of her family to go to college. She went on to become a teacher and swim coach in the Bethlehem Area School District, and moved her family out of the projects.
In recent years, Lehigh Valley International Airport (LVIA) has been a source of disappointment. Though it once boasted over 1 million passengers a year, it served under 600,000 in 2013. An unwieldy board of governors was slow to act as a $10.4 million judgment grew to over $26 million.
Sporadic budget shortfalls occurred as management yawned at a $1 million Hooters Air Fuel bill. But in an upbeat presentation to Northampton County Council at its Aug. 4 meeting, airport Executive Director Charles Everett, Jr. said the airport is once again flying high.
Next to the executive, the most important position in Northampton County is the director of administration. The administrator supervises numerous county departments, negotiates union contracts and handles relations with council and other municipalities. The person who now occupies that position is someone with four tax liens. Her home is in foreclosure, too. Her education consists of a high school diploma. Aside from her 18 months of county experience, she worked in a two-man insurance office in which the other person was the boss.
Bethlehem Township fared poorly on grants from the state’s Commonwealth Financing Agency this year.
It was passed over on grant requests for its Athletic Center’s controversial $250,000 bathroom and storage center. It was denied funding for four police cruisers, though several other communities were approved. Funding for a parks master plan and even stormwater planning were ignored.