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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Saturday, April 05, 2014

NorCo's New Human Services Building: "We Care"

Executives John Brown and John Stoffa cut the ribbon and make it official
Despite April showers, over 100 faces were smiling in April 4 when Northampton County dedicated its centralized human services building, located at 2801 Emrick Boulevard in Bethlehem Township. Former Executive John Stoffa, who lobbied hard for this project over eight years, had called it a commitment to 18,000 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."

Builder Jim Gentile, flanked by John Stoffa (L) and Ken Kraft (R)
His successor, John Brown, put it even more simply than the laconic Stoffa. "We care." He also credited Stoffa, who became teary-eyed before he left, calling the building the "capstone of a career dedicated to the service of others."

It's a 3-story, 66,375 sq ft building on 5.36 acres, with 256 parking places, being leased at a cost of about a million dollars a year in rent. After five years, the County can purchase the property.

Human services in Northampton County were previously performed at Easton's Governor Wolf Building and Bethlehem's Martin J. Bechtel Building. Both needed about $4.3 million in capital repairs over the next five years. The Wolf Building was plagued by caving ceiling, lead paint, asbestos and even guano. The Bechtel building lacked security.

Visitation can take place in safer conditions
Both of these buildings have since been sold for nearly $3.5 million, about $700,000 more than had been projected by consultant Ken Mohr. Sale proceeds have been dedicated to improvements at the new facility.

In addition to housing human services, the building will serve as a satellite revenue office and will house the juvenile probation department.

Stoffa reminded everyone of Hubert Humphrey's moral test of government - "how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped." He believes Northampton County can now say it passes that test calling the state-of-the-art facility the finest in the state and perhaps, the finest in the country. "It's not just a building. It's a re-dedication of our services to the people of Northampton County."

Council President Peg Ferraro surrounded by men
Construction was finished in just ten months. "Under budget and ahead of schedule," Council President Peg Ferraro reminded everyone.

"After eight years, we did it!" said builder Jim Gentile.

"Like giving birth to an elephant," joked Stoffa.

Gentile also thanked Council for "vetting me and waterboarding me."

Children Youth and Family Caseworker Kathy Dilts called it "simplicity in an otherwise confusing system." She stated that morale among workers has greatly improved, a fact that seemed to be borne out by a subsequent tour.

"I love it," Drug and Alcohol's Jane Roma said. "Everything is so new."

Mary Lou Figueroa (L) and Jane Roma (R) say Hi

Kevin Dolan works his staff to the bone, literally
Bethlehem Tp Manager Melissa Shafer and Comm'r Tom Nolan

You can see many more pictures at Google Plus .


Anonymous said...


Go, go, go! Go, Johnny, go, go go! Go, Johnny, go, go, go...

Johnny B...Douche!

Who didn't get theirs in this deal, besides those who don't demand to be taken care of while still finding money for Marlboros, Coors Light Friday Nights, weed and meth, while never missing a chance for insemination knowing full well they are in no position to handle the consequences. Knowing full well there is a big new pretty building where their responsibilities will be washed away, now the burden of those who better goddamn realize it is their responsibility to fill the trough, build the buildings, make everybody comfy and fund this photo op nonsense and the continuing failure that is the nanny-state.

Oh aren't we wonderful?! Let's cut a ribbon, have some cake and coffee, praise ourselves as we flail in futility thinking we can fix the problems that we ourselves have exacerbated one thousand fold, and take some pictures!

Brother can you spare a...bureaucracy?


Anonymous said...

Nice $20+ million plaque. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

"Love how all the little piggy's got their names on that plaque. Could it be any bigger?

It is truly inspiring to see how your public servants will rob you blind to see their names enshrined on a plaque.

They even made sure old Ross Marcus and the uber consultant Ken Mohr got on there.

A true dedication to self-promotion.

Thanks to the new conservative son county council. Who need convictions when you have your name on a building."

All true!

Anonymous said...

Ah, how the egos are served at breathtaking cost. The plaque is a disgusting affront. Have these whores no shame? The plaque should be removed and replaced with separate bullseye shaped plaques affixed to each urinal and shitter. What a disgraceful stunt.

Anonymous said...

There you go employees a super multi-million dollar box with the biggest plaque in the county. Oh by the way no pay raises for four years to pay for the building, hope you like it!

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comments posted anonymously here obviously come from people with an ax to grind. Now I suppose we could have kept Wolf and Bechtel, and allow kids to have visitation in lead paint and bat shit. We could have spent $5 million on capital repairs on building that costs tons to heat and cool. We could have left the employees at Bechtel exposed to people who can be dangerous with no security precautions, or maybe, we could spend about a million per year there to provide security.

We could do that or give both the employees and people they serve a building that tells them they matter - that they are just as important as a president judge. We could insure that the children have decent visitation rooms, that the employees and public are protected, that those who need help can get it by just hopping onto a bus.

We could actually save money so that it is no linger necessary for workers to travel between Wolf and Bechtel.

So who opposes this fiscally conservative and socially responsible concept?

Let me tell you. They won't sign their names but i know enough from the insanity thy have posted here and elsewhere.

One of the anonymous haters, perhaps the biggest, is Ron Shegda. He's a perennial candidate who hates the Department bc they took his sister from him. Naturally, it has nothing to do with him, and it is everyone else.

Another hater has been the Fake Rev, who has been a conduit for a disgruntled worker in Human Services.

Then there is jailed Jim Gregory moll Tricia Mezzacappa, who has trashed this place bc Gregory trashed it.

The notion that people did this to get their name on a plaque is simply nonsense.

Lighthouse said...

Clem, I think the only stereotype you left out was the queen sitting at home eating bonbons while several kids from several fathers run rampant through the neighborhood.

I do occasionally agree with some of your comments (being somewhat centrist, I listen to all sides whether I agree in the end). And, I grant that you are consistent. However, while I had my own initial questions about this when first floated, and agree that there are welfare abusers (both social and corporate)that stereotype many more undeservedly, your rant proves that the Kool-Aid can come in both left and right flavors.

Anonymous said...

Just like west Easton 450,000 a year rent for a building that's not even filled to capacity,how much does it cost to house an inmate down there per day.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank your lucky stars it is not filled to capacity. If it were it would mean the jail is overcrowded and we'd be in big trouble financially. You don't get it, do you? Facilities like West Esston are there to reduce recidivism, which ends up saving us money. And West Easton has nothing to do with this.

Anonymous said...

Did that [plaque have any room left to thank the taxpayers who are picking up the tab for this monument to waste and ego?

gruntled said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the haters, Bernie. Of course the fake rev and mezzawhackjob were on the list, but Shegda is a wake-up call. I slapped my forehead and said DUH....of course for stories like this.

Anonymous said...

Actually I understand why Rin Shegda, crazy Trish, and Jumping Jimmy Greggy are on the list, but the Fake Rev is a miff for me. I really don't understand his link to the county employees and why he can be claimed to be a conduit. Who in their right mind would have him to be a spokesperson for anything but mustache wax? Please explain. I can offer some cookies that Ron Shegda gave me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The Fake Rev, aka Mario Martinez, was involved with one of the Bechtel workers and was beating the drums against Human Services, from Ross Marcus to several others I won't mention. He got himself mixed up with Shegda, too.

Anonymous said...

Not all Human Services employees are as impressed with the new building as you are. Why were employees not allowed to participate in the celebration, not allowed to attend at all, and were even encouraged by a Children and Youth administrator to not be in the building on Friday? Caseworkers even had to cancel visits between children and their parents that take place in those nice visit rooms so they didn't disrupt the gala. Would the judges in attendance have liked that the visits they court ordered were cancelled so they could listen to a program by some braggarts? All about appearances. Not at all about helping anyone.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

I spoke to 15 workers total and asked every one of them what they thought. By 14-1, the people love the new site.

Anonymous said...

You didn't speak to the workers who were not allowed to attend. There are many who are not happy. Only hand picked staff were permitted at the ceremony. Don't look too hard to find other opinions because you like this whole new building and waste of taxpayer dollars as much as John Stoffa does. The majority of employees do not.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You are full of shit. I went thru the building from the third floor down, on a tour, and spoke to many of the employees who were there working. I am not referring to people at the ceremony or department heads. This is a popular move.

Anonymous said...

This is all a lie an done day hopefully people will learn that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I toured all three floors and spoke to people who were working. The one person who did not like it has allergies. Every single other person liked it. Now I am sure there are some malcontents like you, who snuck away. That will be harder now that everything is under one roof. And that's your real beef. It will be harder to screw off. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

People learned the scoop about you during the Gracedale disaster. The word is to never say anything to you that questions anything Stoffa or Angle ever did or do. You were terrible to staff who did.

Most people know to just agree with you and smile. If you only knew the truth. Problem is you don't want to and never will accept it.

We did not like Wolf at all but we all know why it was left to fall apart. We also know the true cost to real services as a result of this building.


Bernie O'Hare said...


My guess is you don't even work for the county.

Anonymous said...

Pretend as you might, there are actually real people that find this nonsense shameful. In government all these people have plaque envy". They all get their name on an expensive new toy and all political principle goes out the window.

Real conservatives aplenty are well aware of this., Although you love to paint this with the helping people nonsense. It is just another example of government by and for egos.

Now that Brown has his name on a big plaque, will we at least be spared form him and this new "conservative" county council wanting their own pyramid?

Anonymous said...

4:36. What is your problem, the county needs to provide services mandated by law, should they provide them out of the back of their cars?

I can't wait till you need the Pyramid

Anonymous said...

The mandated laws are drafted upon and then mandated by stupid politicians and so called government officials who at most times, are simply clueless!

Anonymous said...

I never commented before but I must now. I work at the building and was there all day Friday and no one ever asked me if I like the building. I don't know who you talked to, but I think there was too much money spent on this new building and not enough left to take care of people we should take care of. Services have been cut due to budget problems and yet we have a nice new building. Does this make sense to you as fair?

Anonymous said...

What about all the Human Service program cuts and jobs being frozen. Also if you know anything about what we do you would realize much of it is out of a car, since we visit most of our consumers for services.

The building is nice but stop equating it with better services. The fact is jobs have been left unfilled for years and services have been cutbacks. Want to celebrate that.

Anonymous said...

What about all the Human Service program cuts and jobs being frozen?

Most of those cuts were the result of a reduction in state funding. However, had Gracedale been sold additional local funding would have been available to fill the gap and maintain those programs. Instead it continues to drain 6 million a year from the general fund.

Anonymous said...

"What about all the Human Service program cuts and jobs being frozen?"

In the past the county would make up for inevitable cuts with county money, not blame it on Gracedale. It is truly sad that some would trade one vulnerable group for another to further a political agenda.

No real social workers advocate throwing Gracedale out to used the blood money to fund other services. that was a game played by Stoffa and Angle;.

The sad fact that some ignorant people have bought into that false argument is sad. Almost as sad as the fact that programs will suffer due to the 30year ever escalating cost of this pyramid to ego. What is Human Services anyway, in comparison to your name on a really big plaque.

The loss of revenue from the sate will grow but any extra money will have to go into the ever increasing cost of this sweetheart deal lease.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think the plaque argument is getting old.

Anonymous said...

The truth never gets old.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Yeah, but you're not telling the truth. You would have us believe that two County Execs and two Councils would build a new human services center so that they could have a plaque that is never seen. That is just nonsense. The truth is that this is an excellent and efficient use of limited tax dollars to ensure human services are delivered efficiently. You decry cuts in human services but don 't point out that they come from the state, and dishonestly blame the county for cuts they never wanted. So no, you don't tell the truth and don't accept responsibility for what you write.

Anonymous said...

Now that the building is done and dedicated, hopefully Brown will jettison Harp and get his own Director of Admisntration.

Other wise he will always have a less than loyal person on the inside leaking information.

Anonymous said...

How many ways can u spell boondogle? Ken Mohr present at the creation of the largest tax increases in Lehigh County history and his human service director pal cum Norco executive Stoffa. Great job boys...not

Anonymous said...

Never heard of a consultant having their name on a public building plaque. Old Stoffa takes very good care of his pals. Even old Gentile got his name on the plaque to self-promotion.

A building for the people, that's a laugh.

Anonymous said...


We care because even though we have only been in office a couple months, we got our names on that big plaque!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Really worked up about a plaque, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Nut job readers fixated on plaques. Get a life!

Bernie O'Hare said...


Anonymous said...

I hope people are not hurt by this trading of real services for a building.

Anonymous said...

The "building" is a facility that will provide a clean, safe environment to deliver quality human services. Malcontents like you would rather have the public go to a dilapidated, filthy, unsafe facility that is nearly impossible for an elderly person, disabled vet, or person with a disability to even enter. Now THAT'S real caring for our clients. Employee safety and morale has never been better, thanks to this wonderful new county facility. For the first time in decades human services divisions can collaborate in one setting for the benefit of our clients. The trolls who have tried to used Bernie's uplifting blog report throw a wet blanket on this marvelous accomplishment should crawl back under the rock they have been hiding under. Or better yet, back to the disgusting buildings they used to work in.

Anonymous said...

malcontents would be the taxpayers paying for this excessive, duplicative boondogle

Anonymous said...

Horrible waste of money. The price for "conservative" Republicans to close their eyes? Their name on a plaque dedicated to the waste of public tax dollars.

The more things change the more they stay the same!