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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, May 15, 2008

If You Were King, How Would You Solve Allentown Crime?

Oh, for Pete's Sake, one of the many interesting people who comment here, has a suggestion.
Allentown needs solutions, not more analysis. This past April, Lehigh Valley Somebody ran a great post asking readers for idea for the Americus Hotel building, and there were some interesting, well-thought-out comments. Perhaps you could ask similarly for ideas from your readers as to how to constructively tackle Allentown's crime issues? You will probably have to remove a few useless, offensive comments, but I think some pretty good ideas will come through, too. Everyday citizens who actually live and work with this issue can be a valuable source on information, but all too often their voices are drowned out by community leaders who aren't really in touch, although their intentions are good.
Any ideas? More police? If so, how does Allentown pay for them without increasing taxes? Getting kids more involved in youth activities like basketball or boxing?

In March, super blogger Pam Varkony attended a crime watch meeting, and distilled Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski's approach to public safety.

** The APD will be back up to "full compliment of 211 by September. It's not like Mayberry. We can't stick a badge on someone and send them out there."

** 100 sophisticated wireless cameras will be distributed throughout the city by the end of the summer. The activity seen by these cameras shows on 12 screens at the Communications Center. Additional dispatchers are being hired.

** New "shot recognition" technology will cover an approx. 2 mile radius in the "bad areas" of the city. The technology is being paid for in great part by the city's 20% cut of $1.2 million confiscated in a drug bust.

** "Engaging the community" is a key piece to fighting crime. Using the city's churches and faith based initiatives, citizen patrols will be trained to monitor their neighborhoods.

** The administration and APD have developed a strategy of focusing on "hot spots"; places that are frequent sources of 911 calls. There were 512 calls from the Hotel Traylor in an 18 month period. Since the "hot spot" program has been in place, there have been "almost no calls at this location".

** "Almost 1/3 of the APD is made up of new officers. We are training a new breed of police officer to get back out on the street."

** The administration will be holding a public meeting at the end of May to unveil their new Community Policing program.

How can he do better? How can we do better?


Anonymous said...

It sounds as though Pawlowski is just getting started now. Where has he been the past two years? Instead of building restaurants, this should have been his top priority. My "constructive" suggestion is to get rid of pawlowski, who has spent two years calling crime a misperception.

Anonymous said...

Giuliani's draconian crackdown, beginning with "quality of life" offenses, largely rescued NYC, which is now the safest major city in the US. Do we have the stomach for it? Bet not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Giuliani approach is effective but risky. Enforcing laws is an option so long as it does not result in arbitrary enforcement, i.e enforcement targeted at Hispanics and blacks. If someone who throws a cigarette butt out of a window is getting a ticket, it better be everyone who is seen doing that. Giuliani pulled it off in NYC. Some Philly suburbs have tried that approach, but the cops used it as an excuse to target minorities to the exclusion of others who violate the same laws.

I agree it should be tried.

Anonymous said...

"""The Giuliani approach is effective but risky. Enforcing laws is an option so long as it does not result in arbitrary enforcement, i.e enforcement targeted at Hispanics and blacks. If someone who throws a cigarette butt out of a window is getting a ticket, it better be everyone who is seen doing that. Giuliani pulled it off in NYC."""" I agree bernie, However if Atown isn't going to enforce laws they may as well just pack it in because it is only going to get worse. Thanks Henry Schaadt

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

I read an article in the Morning Call a couple of years ago about a man who lived in downtown Allentown who had a warehouse job in Upper Macungie. He couldn't afford a car, so he had to rely on public buses to get to and from work. It took something like 90 minutes or more each way and if he missed a bus he had to wait an eternity for the next one. Inclement weather made the journey difficult, too.

I'm no economic development expert by any means, but I believe access to good jobs can deter crime. With so few blue color jobs available in the City right now, I think providing the best possible public transportation to where the jobs actually are would help many people unable to afford cars into the workforce. A better public transit system that is focused around shift cycles and employment areas isn't just helping the poor, either. It helps business in the Valley in need of labor, too. Maybe some of these businesses just outside of the City could be consulted as to what would make commuting better for their current and prospective employees from Allentown.

Developing employment opportunities within Allentown is still very important, but for the here and now it seems practical to promote access to jobs nearby to get as many people as possible off public assistance, and perhaps deter them from criminal activity. LANTA already exists, so it's not like starting a program from scratch. And with gas prices rising so much recently, the need for good public transit for lower income families becomes even more important.

Maybe we should be considering the inner city area a "commuter town" in its own unique way, especially if it can help get young people right out of school into paying jobs with benefits. This is not in place of better law enforcement or other anti-crime measures, but rather something to do in conjunction with them.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Bottom line, for me, Allentown needs MORE police officers! Many more.

We need to first admit, then consider how far Allentown has fallen and will keep falling without overt action.

Any time we think of adding 5-6 more officers, we forget the department works 3 shifts. An officer or two added per shift does little to help.

The Allentown I see, is a city that should be at about 300 officers. To get there, Allentown needs to eliminate a high percentage of non-law enforcement personnel, some of whom earn about the amount one officer earns.

Additionally, a tax increase is required, but I'm thinking most Allentown residents would gladly pay $150 per year, per residence, to believe they and the residence are safe.

With the added number of enforcement people, Allentown can ratchet-up its attack on quality of life issues and, yes, hassle a significant size element to move on to the next unprepared community, maybe even help them decide not to come here in the first place.

When a potato chip bag hits the ground,a car double parked,a stereo too loud, the person connected needs to be detained at the spot, checked for warrants, and searced for drugs and weapons. I think we will all be surprised by the results.

Anonymous said...

Drug dealers can make $1000 a night selling drugs in their gang turf. They don't want Lanta, jobs or police... they have it made right now, and you cannot talk them out of that big profit with out more police and more arrests. BOTTOM LINE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bill Villa said...

"Allentown needs MORE police officers!"

... and the number I hear consistently from the cops I know is > 50. We need 50 more Allentown Police Officers than we have right now. This probably adds up to more than 211 (?) I dunno how many cops are on the force right now ...

Anonymous said...

I agree with each suggestion posted, MORE police and BETTER transportation; this is all well and good but we are missing the most important element itself, the PEOPLE. As of right now, the attitude in A-town is US against THEM and this has to stop or we go NOWHERE. I am not talking about police against criminals either. If you DO the crime, then you should do the time no matter what race you are, but I mean the community as a whole.
I propose that we use money already designated for community improvement and advertise for street cleaners, property improvers, and the like. It would not matter if they were felons or have criminal backgrounds because they would be trained in IMPROVING their community and given "monitored" responsibility that they could use to EARN a livable wage. They would be SEPERATE from City employees because they would be holding up the slack with projects the City is unable to get to immediately or maybe that may not be on their priority list. (Old boarded up and abandoned homes and buildings can be refurbished and maintained until a buyer is found; old fields and unused parking lots can be cleaned and maintained and this would keep the value of the neighborhoods up; constant inspections of neglected areas that could be improved)This in turn, would create a sense of pride for the community as well as the workers themselves, who easily could be doing the destroying of a neighborhood instead of the opposite.
Many people forget that, as much as I hate to say this, Allentown does NOT have any natural resources and we don't have huge tourism dollars, but we do have a MILLION dollar facility in the middle of the city called LCP (Lehigh County Prison) which seems to be doing quite well. So, if the raw materials (people) go in, what do we do with the products that come out ? THIS is where alot of the crime from A-town starts. Many don't want to go back to the streets but what is the alternative with a record and family and a city with little to no programs for the convicted? I say we teach them ENTREPENEURSHIP. This is NOT a welfare program or hand-out. We show these men and women how to earn money legally by using the skills they have obtained from the streets. Salesmanship, financing, management, and accounting. People laugh, but if many of these men and women were perhaps born into different situations, instead of being called criminal-minded and hard-headed, they would be labeled leaders and risk takers. If we want to eleminate crime, go to the source and offer an alternative lifestyle. Many don't see the reality of going to college, or ever having the white collar job, but they know they are tired of seeing their families and themselves struggle day to day; and when you feel your options are limited or you have none, THEN the criminal element begins to take form. Again, this program would be paid by money ALREADY earmarked for community programs and it could be made MANDATORY for ALL offenders.
In 2008, gangs and thugs are in "the game" for the same purpose as they were in 1808, quick money and riches. WE need to show them how to use their talents legally. Most, believe it or not, do NOT want to go back and sell drugs or steal, so if we can do a preventive action, why not ?


Bernie O'Hare said...

Just hours before I wrote this post, someone broke into my step-daughter's car. It's an older car, not worth much. She has an older radio, not worth much either. Before 3:30 AM near the A-town/Whitehall border in a nice area of Allentown, someone smashed her car window to steal that lousy radio.

My grandson was totally shocked, and kept asking why someone would do that.

Joe Hilliard said...

For those who argue about more public transportation and "living wages".... please. Criminals aren't criminals because they don't want to ride a bus.

Nor do we need a tax increase. We already gave the Mayor $2.5 million in additional taxes (EMS Tax) which was quickly squandered with increased spending in other areas and debt service costs.

What do we do?:

1) Eliminate at least half, if not all, of the more than 40 new bureaucratic positions created by Democratic Administrations since 2001. Replace each with a police officer.

2) Begin a zero tolerance enforcement policy. Guiliani did apply it with 100% consistency which is why it was deemed constitutional. If you are a white, wealthy businesswoman or a 17 year gang clothes wearing minority, you are treated the same. Minor infraction = full investigation 'on the scene' and appropriate citations, arrests, etc.

3) Housing is the root cause of many problems that directly or indirectly cause crime. Go block by block and crack down on every single illegally converted row home in the city.

4) Sweep neighborhoods with every means available - sheriff warrant service, code enforcement for buildings, health code checks, fire safety checks, etc. And do them simultaneously.

These four efforts will drastically reduce crime and improve Allentown's neighborhoods within 6 months.

And we don't need expensive consultant studies by "experts". We don't need to raise taxes. We don't need grants or money from neighboring suburbs. All it takes is leadership and will.

Look, the Democrat administration and City Council last year decided to add over $60 million in debt because we couldn't cut spending by $250,000 a year (LESS than 1% in cuts!). Do you really think these rubber stamping incompetents have any leadership abilities or the will to take charge of the city again?

nlvlogic said...

Hey, I answered that one back in January, even before DC asked for County $$. I wrote for better coordination of Allentown City Police with State Police, County Sheriff and municipal law enforcement, creating a Congress Against Crime akin to what Don Cunningham has done convening local municipal governments and put outstanding warrant information available online, for all fugitives, including domestics.

michael molovinsky said...

as i know, and have often said, most of the problematic in allentown are very transient and would just as soon be somewhere else. eliminate the programs funded by the community development grants, put that money into infrastructure, then take that saved money and use it for a few more police, and many of allentown's problems would disappear. if allentown persists on fighting problems it can avoid, it has no future.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Just another observation.

Allentown is underseige by thugs. Mutants who prosper so long as they can FORCE what they want. They have been bullying their way to success, much like we see in the animal kingdom. They are operating BECAUSE THEY CAN.

Experience has proven the only thing that gains the respect of a bully is a BIGGER bully.

Allentown needs to become that bigger bully. More cops, more grief, the bully moves on.

Anonymous said...

Being an American:

Rule Number One

We kill kings.

Rule Number Two
"If you become a king."

Don't Forget Rule Number One.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:24, You should be the blogger. ROLF!

Anonymous said...

Want save what's salvagable of Allentown? Create the Borough of West Allentown, which would participate in the Parkland School District. The overall quality of life in W. Allentown would be the highest of any community in the Lehigh Valley. Parkland would gain massive tax revenues from an area that sends relatively few children to public schools. For once, residents in the West End would get something for all the taxes they pay.

Bernie O'Hare said...

But you are not King of West End. You are King of all of Allentown. Assuming that the Americans don't kill you, how do you solve Allentown's crime problem?

Anonymous said...

I can walk to three hospitals, four senior care facilities, a college, and countless roofing, plumbing, electrical, painting… contractors. Most of these entities are looking for workers 24/7. There is no shortage of jobs in Allentown. The will to work may be the resource that is lacking.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

"Additionally, a tax increase is required, but I'm thinking most Allentown residents would gladly pay $150 per year, per residence, to believe they and the residence are safe."
Why give this administration additional money to mismanage? Allentown’s problems are derived from fundamental mismanagement. That I the root of this city’s problem, until one addresses this problem there can be no real solution.

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...


You have to come to one of those Unity in Diversity Workshops. Let's say you're the typical black or Hispanic A-town youth. Chances are you'll be recruiterd to join a gang. Chancves are that you';ll be exposed to drugs and the easy money. If you succumb, as many do, you are likely to be stupid enough to get caught. Once caught, you have a record. After that, you may have a very strong will to work a regular job, but there are few people that will hire you.

I know a young lady who got involved with a gangbanger. She was a good girl, but she was in love. She was once in a car with this guy when he was stopped by the police. They found a gun, and the gangbanger said it belonged to this young lady. She weas arreested and charged with a felony. Now the only job she can get is as a waitress.

There are many folks out there who fdon't want to wrk a legit job, but there are many who do but who will never get hired for a half decent job because they made mistakes when they were young.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

Mr. Armstrong,

Where is your constructive idea? You point out mismanagement, but don't give more than a veiled "Democrats bad, Republicans good" statement.

I've read many of your posts here and on other blogs and know you can be quite insightful when you choose to be. I'd really like to hear you elaborate thoughtfully on this issue. Let's say the candidates of your choice win the next mayoral and up-for-election city council seats. What do you specifically think they should do to fix Allentown's crime problem? Seriously.

This is not meant as some sort of put down. This issue is important to me, and I am very interested in hearing ideas from you and others. We've all pointed fingers long enough.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Pete,

My name is Scott Armstrong, I live at 1516 Turner Street, I have two sons in what are by all accounts distressed and dangerous schools, Allen the Raub. My wife, a college professor, walks down the middle of the street from her parked car to our home for safety reasons. What I have witnessed from my windows and what we live with on a day to day basis make me somewhat of an expert on crime/life in Allentown.
You see I bother to put my name on posts; I have spent thousands of hours in volunteer efforts here in the city, I have bothered to go to many city council meetings and speak up. I have worked hard to get solid, qualified people elected to city offices only to see them swept aside because it was more important to “send George Bush a message”. That sort of irresponsibility is inexcusable and the city is suffering as a result. Twinkling things here and there or holding more meetings or former more committees won’t resolve the basic dynamic that the city is being run by people who were elected because of their political affiliations rather than their qualifications.
Furthermore, the attitude you have exhibited of ignorantly blaming or attacking those who bother to speak the truth are the main reason so many of us have stepped back from the fray.
Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...


I won't speak for Pete but honestly don't think he was "blaming or attacking" you. I understand that you fell marginalized by Pawlowski because that is very much a part of his moudus operandi. But I think Pete was interested in what you would do to stop A-town's crime. Assume you are King and Pawlowski is long gone. You're in control. What would you do? You are a bright guy who cares passionately about A-town. I would very much like to read your answer.

Anonymous said...

No more police.

Suggesting we
need more is just silly.

It's time to curve the lust
for this industry! Now!

First, it's easy money for
those in the industry to sock
it to the tax payer on and on and on!

The rich would never stand for it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 9:09, Nice rant, but you haven't answered the question.

Oh, for Pete's sake! said...

Mr. Armstrong,

I was not trying to attack you or anyone and apologize if that is how you felt. I was only seeking specific ideas about how to turn Allentown's crime problems around and wanted to hear especially from people like you who live and breathe the good and bad of Allentown everyday.

It is because you have been very involved in the City on many levels, have attended City Council meetings and have clearly pointed out what the City's biggest problems are (from what I have gathered from your past comments) that I was hoping to hear what you thought was the best means of fixing the high crime problem. I wanted to hear more, not less. I'm sorry if that wasn't clearer in my previous comment.

I am not sure why you felt that I had exhibited an attitude "of ignorantly blaming or attacking those who bother to speak the truth." I never said your criticisms were unfounded or untrue. I, in fact, share some of your exact frustrations with local government, and I didn't dispute any of your points about who screwed up and how badly. I merely wanted to hear how you think things can get turned around under a different administration.

I am not as comfortable as you are in giving my personal information out on this blog. It's up to you to believe me or not when I say that I'm not with any administration, political organization or public office. I am not someone out to pick fights either. I've learned a lot already from these comments, including the ones critical of my own ideas. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be a better informed voter in the future for having explored the issues this way.

Anonymous said...


Can we all agree that the majority of Allentown’s elected officials lack the necessary skills for the offices they have been elected to? That being said, can we all agree that any entity that is failing due to poor management cannot be salvaged without the problem of inadequate/incompetent leadership being remedied?
Those who desire to see a turn around in Allentown’s fortunes should presently be working on finding capable candidates to run as Democrats for all city offices. They should also be meeting with those whose terms expire next year and tell them they should not under any circumstance seek re-election.
To reverse its precipitous downward slide Allentown needs good government, the kind that comes from capable leadership and solid management. Will anyone make the case that this will come from the city’s current elected officials?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

My use of the word “ignorantly” was to imply a lack of understanding or real insight. Too often people pontificate on Allentown issue from afar and with only anecdotal information. I apologize for suspecting your motives.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I'm tried of paying for this crap!

They want to make the tax cuts for the super rich permanent. So the middle class and working poor need to get smarter.

So, I invested a little time in giving everyone here a free lesson!

Talking to the Police

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 10:41 (or is ir Drake?)

Answer the question. The crown is on your head. How would you stop crime.


I undertand you consider the basic issue to be a poorlu managed city. But you're in charge. How do you stop crime?

gsbrace said...

I'll give this a try Bernie, though it's certainly not well thought out or well organizationed, just a gut reaction:
-continue to increase the number of police. This is already happening and will continue to happen with police completing the academy, what I think is the highest source of new officers in the city.
-When the contract for police expire, alter the pension benefits to remove the generous incentives to encourage early retirement.
-Implement community policing strategies. I will attend the final community session at the jewish community center to learn more about this myself, but I would venture to guess that the implementation strategies are attainable. This will likely require shuffling police resources around.
-while respecting civil liberties, conduct intense blitzes across the city, stopping litter-bugs, stero-thumping cars, jaywalkers, double parked cars, speeders... if it is a violation, target all who commit the crimes, look them up in databases for outstanding warrants/probation and parole violations. Do this epidsodically in different parts of the city, repeating occasionally. Make the sweeps themselves unpredictable in timing and location to make those who are likely to get caught think twice (this is different from arbitrary targetting, which leads to profiling).
-support community initiated efforts. The lifeblood of revitalizing a community is the neighbors who bind together to tackle problems. Support those people at every possible turn. Mini-grants to neighborhood groups to hold block parties, etc. $500 goes a long way for these groups.
-hold city council meetings at different locations in the city, even holding hearings on Saturdays in schools and churches. Mayor, council and department heads need to be there. Is it a pain in the butt: yes, but hearing directly from people, in their communities, is what matters the most
-neighborhood walks-council and mayor walking the streets with a police officer, citizens and business owners. When you see graffiti, write it down and have it cleaned up in a day or two. Look at building conditions. Send the codes people around from time to time. Hit each neighborhood a year.
-continue investment in economic and community development initiatives. This should happen at the same time as all of the above.

Just as I am a firm believer in grassroots citizen activism being the most powerful catalyst for change, I am convinced that grassroots government is the most powerful way for gov't to function. It requires time, effort, energy and late nights, but the graditude of the community will be well worth it.

Now, if only we could put somebody in charge of the really problem (the pennsylvnia school system) and allow them to shake things without question.

Have a great weekend.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am deleting a comment posted anonymously that is pretty much gibberish.

Anonymous said...


Good government reduces crime. Well managed municipalities have lower crime rates than their poorly run counterparts. This is just a fact.
The truth is nefarious elements seek out areas of disorder to operate. Eight straight years of incompetence have made Allentown the perfect place for the bad guys to do business. Doubt me? Then take a drive downtown or, even better, walk. See the disorder, the single family homes with eight mail boxes nails to the front door. Walk across Linden Street and cattycorner to the mayor’s home and observe unsecured apartment buildings, wide open and trashed up.
Only in the third year of his administration has Ed Pawlowski even begun to put together a strategy to deal with the downtown’s housing issues. He then undermined the entire effort by replacing the respected Allentown resident who was for many years the Director of Building Standards and Safety with a completely unqualified person from Hilltown Bucks County. In this same third year we are being treated to even more meetings about what kind of policing the city should have and if that isn’t enough there are “Big Picture” get togethers where we are to invited to “visualize” the new Hamilton Street. This fumbling about, this obvious lack of direction has facilitated the decline of the downtown neighborhoods and led to increased criminal activity. To turn this around we need real leadership from the top. We need a mayor who understand s the power and limits of municipal governance and recognizes that it isn’t rocket science to turn neighborhoods around.
We need a mayor who understands that keeping quality city employees and bureau chiefs happy in their employment improves their job performance. This can be done by losing the arrogance and demonstrating respect for their informed points of view. Bringing in qualified, credentialed professionals to fill important positions would also help bring about good government. It is no secret that the morale of the city work force is very low and that a keep your head down and your mouth shut approach is the rule in city hall. What does all this have to do with reducing crime in the city? Everything, a quality work force that is motivated to do the job at a higher level will produce results--the results necessary to create order from the chaos that now reigns on too many of our city streets.
Having a mayor who respects the residents and their need to have their interests (not his/hers) represented would help restart what was once a productive and flourishing community group movement in the city. These groups could greatly affect public safety in the city.
Having a council that could read and comprehend the three hundred page city budget book would help to insure that budgets, refinancings, fund transfers… were in order and in the city’s best interests. Sound fiscal oversight by council would help steer the city back to a reasonable financial situation. Investment in the city would likely increase one’s confidence that the city had its long and short term fiscal matters in order. New investment would help bring in revenue that could be used for city improvements, more police officers or even lower tax rates. All of these would serve to reduce crime.
The truth is our crime rates are more closely related to the performance of city hall than to the police department itself. The elected officials and their appointees are responsible for the conditions that have created the present environment of disorder. Only when we vote in competent elected officials can we logically expect the criminal activity that is born of this disorder to subside.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Solving the crime problem!

Give everyone a printing press.

We print money out of thin air anyway.

We'll work for the good of it
and how it make us feel.

Those who use these wicked wheels of society will have control no longer.

All of mankind will be free for ounce.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I never met Scott, have no idea what his financial situation is, etc., but do feel I understand his unrest.

I had the same unrest about 15 years ago, when I lived in Allentown. I looked at the future and determined that my neighborhood would no longer work for me several years out.

I saw too many signs. I saw Mayor Daddona allowing actively seeking low income housing choices for his community. I saw Mayor Daddona permitting his pal, John Troxell to run rough-shod over the East Side by building cheap housing units on lots that were much too small, even on the backyards of stupid homeowners. I saw one of Troxell's office/retail abominations requiring vehicles to drive on sidewalks to access.

Luckily, I had the income to run away. I sold both homes, moved to a more sane community.

My advice to Scott would be this, get out now IF you can.

Allentown has developed cancer. The cancer is spreading. This administration is only capable of providing hospice care.

Allentown's westward movement of bad and careless behavior MIGHT create some relief as the "movers and shakers" of the city become directly affected by what happens in their neighborhood, but in the final analysis, Scott, you can never change, nor correct what troubles you about being an Allentown resident. Persons actually in position to provide that kind of change have failed.

Life is too short. The Scott's of Allentown don't need any more stress than what comes with raising their OWN family properly.

Call me a coward for leaving Allentown (and its school district) if you like. I'd rather think of myself as having been smart and prudent.

More important than what anyone might think of me, is what I think of me. I've been happy as H*LL for several years, smile often, and don't worry much about the future of my lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

We are making long term plans to leave. My children want to finish school in the district.

Scott Armstrong