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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, November 22, 2013

Northampton County Graduates Its Second Citizens' Academy

Meet Northampton County's 2013 Citizens' Academy
A walk along the Nor-Bath trail. Tennis at Louise Moore Park. A drive over a bridge on your way to work. A call to 911. The Route 33 Interchange exit coming to Tatamy. A District Attorney's news conference about elder abuse. A call about an abused child.  Ensuring that ten gallons are really going into your gas tank. Gracedale. Mosquito control. Open Space. Though barely noticed, these are some of the many services provided by Northampton County government. Twenty-two Northampton County residents now understand what is often called the forgotten government. They were honored at a November 21 Council meeting as the second graduating class of the Northampton county Citizens' Academy.

Dr. Wandalyn Enix will volunteer for Prison Advisory Board
Executive John Stoffa, who called the academy a "terrific idea," credited Bethlehem resident Tom Miller for the I program. "This is the guy who started this problem," Stoffa joked. Miller graduated from Bethlehem's Citizens' Academy in 2009, and urged the County to start one, too.

This year's class went through 20 hours of lectures, listening to 37 speakers over the course of 10 weeks. Among those professors was Council President John Cusick. He said that, for years, the only thing he knew about the County was that it provides the voting machines and gave him a marriage license.

"I vote and I'm still married, so I figured the county must still be working," he quipped.

Graduates Mat Benol and Glenn Geissinger were just elected to Council
Things got off year to a bad start this year. Solicitor Dan Spengler was showing a centuries old patent deed embossed with William Penn's seal when suddenly, the lights went out, shrouding the entire class in darkness.

Was it one of the courthouse ghosts rumored to walk the halls nightly?  The ghost of a person hung at the courthouse during the 1880's?

"We started in the dark, but now we can see," quipped Moore Township's Matt Miles, regarded as the youngest graduate.

Matt Miles is the youngest graduate
This class also included Bethlehem's Dr. Wandalyn Enix, who just retired from Montclair State. She told Council that county government is full of "dedicated people," especially at the 911 Center. She mentioned that one 911 worker told her that he comes to work every day excited. "The way he said it, you could feel it," she remarked.  In addition to sharing some of the history she learned, Dr. Eniz expressed sympathy for the County as it deals with increasing cuts in human services grants from the state.

This year's graduating class also include Glenn Geissinger and Mat Benol, who were elected by the voters on November 5 to a four-year term as County Council members.  Joan Dean, a former president of the Northampton County, is another grad.

But the most important student was Donna Terrio, who with her husband runs the courthouse cafeteria. She brought cake.
Exec John Stoffa credits Bethlehem's Tom Miller for recommending a Citizen's Academy to the County.
The graduates: Joe Baier; Mat Benol; Marie Daud; Joan Dean; Wandalyn Enix; Rodney Freyman; Sharon Garretson; Glenn Geissinger; Rosalind Graddy; Vincent Jairdullo; Louise Kelchner; Wendy Leap; Kristi Malaret; Jennifer Mickolay; Matt Miles; Carole O'Connell; James Picot; Bill Stankewicz; Donna Terrio; Penny Vantassel; Maximo Vasquez; and Jamie Yochum.


Anonymous said...

What is neat about this is the large number of African Americans who participated.

Anonymous said...

Another example of bureaucracy being sure to teach you exactly what they want you to know. This is a city game applied to the county by lifetime bureaucrat John Stoffa.

It figures.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I inadverdently deleted this comment, posted anonymously:

"3:10 you are a miserable bastard. Blow up a story about good citizens. Crawl back under your rock."

A Pig in a Poke said...

What is really nice and special about this, is this is a way for a person to gain political experience. The perso learns about all aspects of County government. Then they have to volunteer some of their time to assist in the County. Some of them are going to work off their volunteering duties on an advisory board level. Then they can put this on their resume and reap the satisfaction of giving back to the community. A winning situation for all.

Anonymous said...

The only thing people learn is what the county bureaucracy wants them to learn. A school for the advancement of bureaucratic lemming's.

PR hokum!

Anonymous said...

Dog and pony show? Contrived and self serving? I have mixed feelings about this county admin. classes thing. Am I jaded? Maybe. It is a glossy overview of county affairs and not much more. I applaud them for taking time out of their own lives to accomplish this but not sure it is the counties job to educate the public about their chosen representatives and the tax payer employees jobs and it's red tape machine. Jail Advisory board appointments come from the council regional representatives thru the Executive. No one from the public can just assume a place at that table. Ask Ed Boscola how he got a seat at the table. Not by attending this class and passing thru.

Bernie O'Hare said...

There are some real assholes in this world, who are so jaded they even condemn volunteerism or those who just want to learn. No wonder they won't sign their names

Matt M. said...

I challenge any of the anonymous commentators to take the course next fall. Maybe you might learn something. Maybe you'll realize that the folks working for the county are actually people and actually care a lot about what they do. Maybe you'll relaize that, yes, a back-up generator is indeed needed at the courthouse when after 30 seconds of complete darkness the lights aren't coming back on. Of course, maybe it's just easier to just fire anonymous attacks because you don't have the stones to put your name to your words and step up and do something about a situation you are so blindly angry about.

Matt M. said...

By the way, thanks for the coverage, Bernie. I hope more of your readers can do this program next year.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Matt, congrats on making it. I tried last year, but Stoffa expelled me.

Anonymous said...

The county's own Karen Dolan academy. A wonderful learning experience.

Matt M. said...

Stoffa told me you knew it all already.

He also had a good zing for a response as to what is retirement years will entail. It had my wife in stitches, for sure.