Bethlehem Press

Thursday, December 13, 2018

BETHLEHEM COUNCIL-2 West Market; 4-3 vote seen as failure of council members to protect city’s integrity

Monday, December 10, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

After a long evening of testimony on both sides of the issue Dec. 4, Bethlehem City Council voted 4-3 to approve a revision of the zoning code that approves the existing office and residence complex at 2 West Market St. to allow the owners – Quadrant Private Wealth owned by the Herman Rij family – to continue using the property for commercial purposes. They converted a residential home to an office space after receiving previous approval from the city – approval that had since been challenged by neighbors and in court.

LEHIGH COUNTY-Russell named new warden

Monday, December 10, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh County Jail has a new prospective warden. Lehigh County Commissioner setting in committee recommended Kyle Russell’s appointment Nov. 28. A final vote will confirm the position at the next regular meeting of the commissioners on Dec. 12.

Russell, already a long-time Northampton resident, is currently a Deputy Warden in Berks County. He has 17 years’ experience in corrections management.

“He is the right man for the job,” said Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong in remarks to the Commissioners.

Valley’s Festival of Lights begins in Bethlehem

Monday, December 10, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Local Jewish leaders and congregants gathered Dec. 4 in Bethlehem for the 10th annual Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremony.

Rabbi Yaakov Halperin and Rabbi Michael Singer joined Bethlehem Business Manager Eric Evans on the third day of Hanukkah for a lighting of the huge Menorah that has been temporarily erected on Payrow Plaza. Evans represented Mayor Robert Donchez.

While standing beside the nine-armed hanukkiah, Rabbi Halperin re-told the story of how one day’s worth of olive oil had lasted seven more days while more oil could be brought from outside Jerusalem.

What is Hanukkah?

Monday, December 10, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by lighting the candles of a candelabrum with nine branches, called a menorah or hanukkiah. One branch is typically placed above or below the others and its candle is used to light the other eight candles. This unique candle is called the shamash or attendant.

LEHIGH COUNTY: Tax rate decrease approved

Tuesday, November 27, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

In a party-line 6–3 vote Lehigh County Commissioners overturned the administration’s Oct. 31 veto of the Lehigh County 2019 budget Nov. 14. Democrats Dan Hartzell, Amy Zanelli and Geoff Brace voted against the amendment, which reduces the tax rate for Lehigh County citizens for 2019.

The action effectively put to rest the disagreement about what the millage rate will be for 2019. The commissioners approved a 3.64 millage rate marked down from 3.79 mils that County Executive Phillips Armstrong had wanted.

Exec vetoes budget amendments

Thursday, November 15, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Making good on a promise, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong vetoed the budget for 2019 Oct. 31 because an amendment passed by County Commissioners rolled back the millage rate from the proposed 3.79 mils to 3.64 mils.

He made the announcement in a special news conference at the Lehigh Administration building attended by the press, members of the Armstrong administration, a couple of aspiring commissioners and one Lehigh County Commissioner, Democrat Amy Zanelli.

He warned against letting the Commissioner’s amended budget harm the County’s bond rating.

Article By: Douglas Graves

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

………………………….Side bar………………

Comparison of selected results of the two proposed millage rates in the proposed 2019 budget. (3.64 mils vs. 3.79 mils).

@ 3.64 [Millage rate proposed by the Board of Commissioners] @ 3.79 [Millage rate proposed by County Executive Phillips Armstrong]

Taxes $107,958,523 $112,407,363

Total Expenditures $122,579,495 $122,579,495

Beginning Stabilization Fund Balance $30,000,000 $30,000,000

Ending Stabilization Fund Balance $21,661,546 $26,110,386

Source: Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong’s published documents

GOP commissioners force tax cut

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Republican County Commissioners banded together to force a tax cut that Democratic Lehigh County Commissioners and the Lehigh County Executive did not want and warned against. The vote will keep real estate taxes at last year’s millage rate of 3.64, opposing the administration’s plan to raise the rate to 3.79 mills.

“It will be vetoed…as soon as it gets to my desk,” said County Executive Phillips Armstrong in a post-meeting interview last week.

However, the vote seems to be veto-proof, since Republicans control the board of commissioners.

FACES OF LITERACY Gala offers success stories

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

“This evening represents what America has always stood for,” said Dr. Nichola Gutgold as she opened the Faces of Literacy at Muhlenberg College program. “A nation built on the strength of immigrants, slaves, seekers, adventurers, hard workers and those willing to do what needs to be done to support their families, get ahead and to realize the American dream. Tonight, we will eat, drink and also take in the remarkable stories of three Literacy Center alumni and we celebrate Allentown as a place that welcomes and supports everyone! Isn’t that a great way to spend an evening?”

Executive Armstrong vetoes budget amendments

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Making good on a promise, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong on Wed. vetoed the budget for 2019 because an amendment passed by County Commissioners rolled back the millage rate from the proposed 3.79 mils to 3.64 mils.

He made the announcement Wed. in a special news conference at the Lehigh Administration building attended by the press, members of the Armstrong administration, a couple of aspiring commissioners and one Lehigh County Commissioner, Democrat Amy Zanelli.

He warned against letting the Commissioner’s amended budget harm the County’s bond rating.