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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, February 15, 2013

VA Director Backs Stoffa

Steps to Wolf Building cordoned off
The historic Governor Wolf Building, located at 45 N 2d St in Easton, is a 52,171 sq ft schoolhouse, built in 1893. Purchased by the County in 1986 for $912,000, it is currently home to 173 human services workers. The Agency on Aging, Children and Youth, and Veterans Affairs work from this stately, but aging, building. Executive John Stoffa has stated it needs $3.3 million in capital repairs and improvements over the next 5-10 years. Mold, lead paint, asbestos and general deterioration are major concerns. In addition, he is concerned about access by 25-35 veterans, some of them disabled, who visit every week. But is Stoffa right? Based on my own visit, it appears that he is.

In my visit to the building yesterday, the first thing I noticed is that the steps to the front of the building are cordoned off because they appear to be unsafe. I am unsure whether this is the result of Winter weather or if the steps themselves need repairs. I entered through a side door.

My first stop was the Area Agency on Aging, run by John Mahler. It exists to help old farts like me, who are over 60, to remain active in their communities. This could mean emergency financial assistance, protective services, meals on wheels or adult day care, to name just a few.

I wonder if they could help me with my blog.

Mahler conformed that the ceiling was caving in at three different areas in his offices. Two of the sites have been recently repaired. He also described mold and lead paint problems. Due to privacy concerns, I was unable to photograph these area or the conditions inside his offices.

My next stop was Veterans Affairs, administered by Freddie Ramirez. He corroborated every word that Executive Stoffa reported to Council at last week's meeting. This includes Stoffa's contention that veterans in wheel chairs and suffering from other disabilities are often forced to come up a steep hill to get inside the building.

Freddie Ramirez
What does Ramirez do? His office helps veterans file claims for service-connected disabilities, veterans' pensions, widow's pensions and emergency assistance.

I asked Ramirez about moving to the Bechtel Building, as suggested by some anonymous commenters on this blog. He called it a bad idea because many veterans also use the services of the Area Agency on the Aging, and would be forced to make multiple trips.

Ramirez, incidentally is a former Deputy Sheriff and himself a veteran.


Anonymous said...

You went above and beyond in your reporting Bernie. The veterans than you,

Mark Baker said...

every effort should be undertaken to support our veterans. Keep up the good work BO.

I suggest the norco gang quit playing the blame game and try the results game. Results always wins over blame.

Anonymous said...

Good job tracking this story down, BO. Just try to imagine getting to the veterans office or AAA in a wheelchair. Start in that tiny lot. Try to get through the public entrance. Push your wheelchair up a ramp that is not ADA complaint into an elevator that has been broken down on several occasions. Then down a long hallway to get to an office. A new building would be fully accessible from the ground level and meet all ADA requirements. It would be far easier for a person with a disability to get in and out of, and to meet with DHS staff. Wounded warriors and others with mobility impairments, including most seniors, would be better served in a modern building designed with their needs in mind. Another important reason to support the project.

Bill Coker said...

Freddie Ramirez is extremely knowlegable concerning all VA issues, rules, and regulations on top of being pleasant and extremely helpful to all vets. If all government officials were as educated and helpful as Freddie, things would run much more efficiently, smoothly, and pleasant. As a vet, I'm proud to have him represent me.

Peter J.Cochran, Ret.Inf.U.S.Army said...

FYI, Mr.Remirez,gets out of the office to see veterans AFTER HOURS,after court house is closed and make himself known and available.Example is our Legion post meetings at the Brown and Lynch post 9 Palmer Twp.We had about 50 people at one time and we see him at Veterans Day and Memorial Day also. So, he is in contact with more than what can make it up to the door.Ray Green is still helping people also with his advice, service and participates as hard as it is for him to get around. Ray is retired. You have to love that man's spirit,and Mr.Remirez see's this .

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, Ask some of the vets to come on Thursday night and let Council know that things have to change, and not by shuffling them off to Bechtel.

Anonymous said...

Things have to change by simply unlocking the back door, turning on the elevator and reassigning a security guard to that rear entrance. Last I knew such a process did not take more than ten million dollars. Do it today! Stop using this cheap argument that veterans are parked in their wheelchairs on the Church Street hill unable to go anywhere It's an insult to their fine service in behalf of our county.

Anonymous said...

This is actually a good strategy. Use Veterans in wheelchairs to get your new building. Then again, Stoffa has shown us nothing is beneath him when it comes to poitical strategy. Bring some cold babies and a few seniors as well.

Once the new building is built all your troubles will dissappear. Word is Jesus Christ will make a comeback tour and his first stop will be the new Stoffa building.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If a good strategy is telling the truth, then Stoffa has a good strategy. You should try it some time.

During the Gracedale debate, the only reason Stoffa wanted the home privatized was bc he thought it would improve the care. He cares about people. This is his life's work. People like you lied to voters and claimed that their loved ones would be sent several counties away and that we shouldn't hurt the "widows" and "orphans," even though Gracedale is not an orphanage. People like you inflamed the public with lies. And now, you are very upset that Stoffa is simply telling the truth.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Things have to change by simply unlocking the back door, turning on the elevator and reassigning a security guard to that rear entrance. "

So now you're a security expert, too.

Peter J. Cochran said...

Bernie, 11;32 may not be far off from a resolve to handicap easement!I do not know myself how the East end works ,but some body does.Should not be a big deal.You take a look and I will go with you.

Anonymous said...

I am a Veteran, and I am voting YES for the new building.

Anonymous said...

Good for you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a shock..Stoffas appointment supports Stoffa..Geez

Noticed you didn't take any trips to Bechtel..You or council..Go and talk to most employees there or the maintenance guy and see what they think about leaving the
Building. one is Beth Miller from D&a. her husband is a contractor. See what he thinks..Ask her also about the cuts in her department. ask those in Mh about the cuts in their departments..We are building a building for departments that are being cut. Who will be in this new building? The folks at Bechtel are waiting..Try not to speak to only Stoffas direct underlings and speak to the workers..Report accurately on that if you will.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Noticed you didn't take any trips to Bechtel..You or council..Go and talk to most employees there or the maintenance guy and see what they think about leaving the

So is this is what this is about? Jim Gregory and one or two of his pals are willing to let fellow workers, and worse county residents, flail around in a pit because they don't want to add five minutes to their drive time? Thanks for clearing that up.

Anonymous said...

You nailed that one, square on the head Bernie. It made me laugh out loud, thanks