Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

County may do away with cash bail

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh Valley is on the verge of doing away with cash bail, if the enthusiasm level in the Lehigh County Commissioner’s chamber is a predictor. Proponents of the measure spoke Sept. 14 to what seemed to be a very supportive group of commissioners and county administrative officials.

Allentown resident Julie Thomases said, “We are here to make a case for doing away with cash bail for non-violent and low-risk offenders, as has Northampton County, Philadelphia and other counties, cities and states.

Donchez cracks down on rentals

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez responded to criticism of the apparent lack of enforcement of the new ordinance restricting the use of private residences as short-term rentals Sept. 18 at the city council’s meeting.

“Effective this weekend,” said Donchez, “there will be an increase in monitoring and enforcement of short-term lodging facilities throughout the city. We will now have on-call and proactive monitoring of our short-term lodging ordinance on Thursday and Friday evenings, as well as on Saturday and Sunday.”

LEHIGH COUNTY New budget to buy assets, forgo debt

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh County Commissioners, officials and citizens got their first look at the proposed budget for 2019 last week when County Executive Phillips Armstrong presented his first budget since assuming office. After a visual presentation of supporting charts and documents, Armstrong gave the hefty 488-page budget to Commissioner Dr. Percy Dougherty.

To make the proposed $506.1 million budget (themed “Back to the Future”) balance, Armstrong resurrected the 2015 millage rate of 3.79 to meet projected needs. “This is the budget that meets the needs of the future,” said Armstrong.

LEHIGH COUNTY Where do my taxes go?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong answered his own rhetorical question, “What Do My Lehigh County Tax Dollars Pay For?”

•Law and Order: Courts, Jail, District Attorney, Sheriff, Public Defender, Coroner

•Cedarbrook Senior Care and Rehabilitation

•General Services

•County Infrastructure including, parks, trails, the Velodrome and historic sites, Coca-Cola Park, Trexler Nature Preserve, emergency management, the 9-1-1 Center and farmland preservation

City golf course funding approved

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Two new ordinances were scheduled to be voted on by Bethlehem City Council Sept. 4 but one, an amendment to the fireworks ordinance was pulled to allow council to reconcile differences on the permitted hours for fireworks.

The second bill, a $2 million general obligation note for improvement at the Bethlehem Golf Club on Illicks Mill Road, got preliminary or first reading approval from the council, but over the objection of councilwomen Dr. Paige Van Wirt and Olga Negrón.

It’s not working Airbnb law ineffective

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Residents packed the city council’s chambers last week to hear that the recent law passed by Bethlehem’s legislative body to control the phenomenon of private homes being turned into short-term rentals for a constantly shifting population is not working.

Bethlehem City Solicitor William Leeson explained that there is a pending lawsuit against the City of Bethlehem challenging the validity of the ordinance. He said this has effectively put enforcement on hold until that case has been adjudicated – a process that, if appealed, could take years.

BETHLEHEM City asked to regulate strays

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

“A ginger cat called out to me one morning on my walk to work,” said Julie Vitale, tears never far from her eyes.

Vitale, a Bethlehem resident, was speaking Aug. 21 to Bethlehem City Council urging the city to adopt a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) policy. She was describing an incident that happened in Allentown, but was telling her story hoping that it would emphasize the plight of feral cats in Bethlehem.

LEHIGH COUNTY Gaming grantees chosen

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

“This is my 27th year in corrections,” said Warden Janine Donate when asked by Commissioner Nathan Brown to address the board of commissioners Aug 22. She is currently the warden of the Lehigh County Jail.

Donate had just been introduced by Lehigh County Executive Philips Armstrong as someone of whom he is proud; someone who has been “coming up from our own ranks.”

LEHIGH COUNTY: Armstrong favors car register fee

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh County Commissioners approved their 2019–23 Capital Plan Aug. 8. The plan sets the investment in capital projects through 2023. Commissioner Dr. Percy Dougherty sponsored the plan. He said the $129.1 million plan is higher than previous years because it contains about $73 million for the planned Cedarbrook renovation.

In other business, the commissioners reappointed William McQuilken of Lynn Township to the Lehigh County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Board.

LEHIGH COUNTY-Commissioners talk immigration status

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 by DOUGLAS GRAVES in Local News

Lehigh County Commissioners gave preliminary approval for the 2019-20 Capital Plan July 25. In gross numbers, the plan calls for a five-year grand total expenditure of $129,107,334.

The first reading of the plan passed 8–0. Commissioner Brad Osborne was absent.

Some big-ticket expenses being funded in 2019 include replacement of the voting system - $3.5 million; the Coplay to Northampton Bridge - $5 million; courthouse upgrades - $1.06 million.