Though Bethlehem officials are unsure why the quality of housing stock is beginning to deteriorate in some north Bethlehem neighborhoods, they are hopeful that a real estate tax incentive will lead to a revitalization. Housing and Community Planner Allyson Lehr pitched this program, called a LERTA, to Northampton County Council Aug. 3.
Pennsylvania’s incarceration rate was the highest among Northeast states in 2014. But housing someone in a county jail costs money. It costs $40,000 a year in a county jail, according to the County Commissioner Association. Statewide, 65 percent of these inmates are there for a substance abuse disorder. Another 10-30 percent suffer from mental illness. For these people, there are community-based alternatives to incarceration that cost less than half what it does to jail someone And that in turn has led to the creation of problem-solving courts.
If you’d like to be called commissioner and live in Bethlehem Township’s third ward, now’s your chance. Kim Jenkins, who is only in her second year of elected office, has resigned for personal reasons, effective July 5. At a special meeting on July 31, the four remaining commissioners will choose her successor, but only until the end of the year.
From the July 19 personnel and finance committee meetings:
50,000 - Northampton County parcels identified by aerial maps as having additions and improvements that need to be assessed. “That’s a lot of tax revenue,” said Council member Ken Kraft. “We hope so,” answered assessment manager Cheryl Johnson.
If you’ve been saying that Northampton County Council is in the dark, you’re right! Well, at least they were at their July 20 meeting. A Summer thunderstorm plunged the courthouse into darkness in the middle of the meeting.
“I called it!” said Ken Kraft, who previously had predicted there would be a power outage.
Northampton County is getting the lead out. It just received a $1.5 million grant from Housing and Urban Development to help residents with lead remediation in owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects.
Frank Brooks and Mike Brett of Northampton County’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), under the leadership of Director Tim Herrlinger, deserve the credit for lobbying federal officials for these funds. This money is provided to help the county’s neediest homeowners, and more importantly, their children.
In the wake of a federal investigation of political corruption in Allentown that has already resulted in nine guilty pleas, local governments are taking notice. Bethlehem, Allentown and Lehigh County have all taken at least some steps to improve transparency and impose greater oversight with government contracts.
But Northampton County Council passed at such an opportunity at their July 6 meeting. To be specific, they rejected an ordinance giving them more authority over county contract approvals.
After a rash of complaints about the noise and dust caused by all-terrain vehicles, Bethlehem Township Commissioners are on the brink of strictly regulating their use. A proposed ordinance, debated at JUne 19 meeting, would ban their use between dusk and dawn. They would also be required to stay at least 100 feet away from the property line of any adjacent owner.
In 1771, Northampton County Deputy Sheriff Nathan Ogden was killed while attempting to execute an arrest warrant. He is the first known law enforcement officer to make the ultimate sacrifice for his community in America. Unfortunately, many others have followed. Last year alone, 134 police officers died in the line of duty. In memory of Nathan Ogden and his fallen comrades, the Northampton County Chiefs of Police Association established an annual award in 2002 for a police officer who distinguishes himself and his profession.
After a rash of complaints about the noise and dust caused by all-terrain vehicles, Bethlehem Township Commissioners are on the brink of strictly regulating their use. A proposed ordinance, debated at Monday night’s meeting, would ban their use between dusk and dawn. They would also be required to stay at least 100 feet away from the property line of any adjacent owner.