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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, May 20, 2013

NorCo Centralized Human Service Construction Begins

Raymond Greene, former VA Director
On May 17, before a crowd of about seventy people, Northampton County officially broke ground on a new centralized human services building at 2801 Emrick Boulevard in Bethlehem Township. This project was approved by a 8-1 County Council vote in February, as a 15-year lease for a 3-story, 66,375 sq ft building on 5.36 acres, with 256 parking places, at a cost of about a million dollars a year in rent. After five years, the County will have an option to buy the property.

Polaris Properties, which owns the tract, expects to have the steel by July, and to complete construction by next March. Polaris has agreed to pay prevailing wages for the construction, which means this would be a union job.

CYF caseworkers ready to build it themselves
Stoffa has previously called a centralized human services building a "golden opportunity to do something terrific" for the 18,000 people who use the County's human services at two different buildings

The 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 home to 173 human services workers. It needs $3.3 million in capital repairs and improvements over the next 5-10 years. Employees who work there complained about caving ceilings and lead paint exposure.

Ken Kraft looks for a union shovel
The Martin J. Bechtel Building, located at 520 E Broad Street in Bethlehem, is a 28,000 sq ft facility, built in 1962. Purchased by the County in 1993 for $763,000, it houses 70 human services workers. It needs $1 million in capital improvements and repairs over the next 5-10 years.

These building are now on the market, with an anticipated $2.8 million in proceeds, which will be used for improvements at the new Bethlehem Township facility.

Kathleen Dilts, a CYF caseworker who felt strongly about the project, picked Stoffa up when he despaired that it would ever happen. On her own, she and another CYF caseworker prepared a slide presentation that depicted the grisly conditions at the Governor Wolf Building, where one of the worries was making sure that children on supervised visitation were not exposed to lead paint chips. When they presented their findings to Council, most of the opposition vanished.

Sheriff's Honor Guard handles the colors
At Friday's groundbreaking, Dilts spoke for the caseworkers. (See video here). "We're so excited that we're finally going to get this new building where, not only the caseworkers can come and feel safe, but all of our clients can get all of the services they so desperately need, in location; which I think is key, for most of our clients have a number of difficulties."

Stoffa (see video here) called the building a commitment to 18,000 Northampton County residents "who did not choose to get a mental illness; citizens who did not plan on being born with an intellectual disability; persons who never expected to become addicted to drugs or alcohol; children who did not ask to be sexually abused or physically harmed by their caretakers; and all of us who are aging, one day at a time, to the point that someday we will need someone to help us dress or eat.

Despite a bad cold, Peg Ferraro grabbed a shovel
"It will be a new place for our veterans, without having to labor up a hill, to get into a building.

"To me, this building was always about clients and families. It should never be named after a person. It belongs to the people of Northampton County - a decent building where people are accepted, valued and helped in their path through life.

"So often in the past, the places in the country where the services are provided in this building, have been provided in places that are shabby, old and neglected. I'm so glad that today we dedicate a brand new building to these services where one phone call and one building will get you the services that you need."

Critics of the project predicted that Bethlehem Township officials would throw up all kinds of roadblocks. But Township Manager Howard Kutzler, along with Commissioners Paul Weiss and Marty Zawarski, attended the groundbreaking. Weiss (see video here) pledged to make the process "as smooth and seamless as possible. ... I think we're all looking forward to you'all being our neighbors. We look forward to that."
Peg Ferraro, Ken Kraft and Barb Theirry, who voted to sue Stoffa the night before, have suddenly disappeared. 

Sheriff Randy Miller and Corrections Director Arnie Matos have a friendly rivalry  about their respective color guards. Matos notes that Miller has no bagpipe or singer. "What we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality," insists the Sheriff. 


Anonymous said...

Those women in CYF are hot. I hope to get a job there because of them.

Anonymous said...

Waste of money!

Anonymous said...

Most 0f the criticism was about the cost and the benefit to actual Human Services. That's is still true.

Bernie O'Hare said...

When all the facts were presented, there was 1 No vote and 8 Yes votes.

Anonymous said...

Please refresh my memory, who was the one "no" vote?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bob Werner.

fact checker said...

Well the, why were Ferraro, Kraft, and McClure missing in action? Were they supporters or not, lol. Maybe they aren't so sure that their votes
were actually based on the "facts" as you call them...Sometimes :facts" are just perceived "facts" Ask Werner!

Anonymous said...

6:56. Ferraro and Kraft are at the event. Look at the pictures again, everyone knows you can't read Jim 8

Bernie O'Hare said...

Three Council member were there. My photo of the hats over shovels was a joke.

Anonymous said...

When the money isn't there for services due to the lease expenses. Will the employees understand why series will be cut again, or will they want more money.

Feel bad for the next administration.

Anonymous said...

Based on what facts? Do you just make this shit up as you go? Please publish your data to back up your false claims mr Gregory. 8

Anonymous said...

Nice speech by Stoffa. So why have services and staff been cut since he took office?

Bernie O'Hare said...

You know why. State cutbacks.

Anonymous said...

State has cut back at different times over the years and services were maintained. Stoffa cut across the board both staff and services..

Sto9p defending bad behavior. he wanted a building, he got it. It will never bear his name. The building is not a service just a building.