About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NorCo Gaming Board Awards $1.66 Million in Impact Grants

Dave Heintzeleman is a local funeral director who
volunteers his time to NortCounty, like his fellow
Board members
Northampton County's nine-member Gaming Board, which doles out the slots revenue generated by the Sands Casino every year, is basically finished for the year. At their April 27 meeting, they awarded $1.66 million in what are referred to as impact grants to Northampton County, Bethlehem and the five communities surrounding Bethlehem. Since this exhausts all the revenue that will be anticipated this year, there will be no funds available this year for other communities seeking grants.

Bethlehem is getting nearly half of the $1.6 million expected this year. This includes $400,000 for a $1.2 million 95' aerial bucket truck, and $130,000 to rechassis an aging 2007 ambulance. Those grants were approved unanimously, but a $250,000 grant sought for improvements to the South Bethlehem greenway very nearly failed for lack of a second to Joe Kelly's motion for approval. At the last moment, Dave Willard seconded Kelly's motion for the "sake of discussion."

Kelly argued that the greenway is one of the "rare projects" that rewards a positive impact of gaming. It provides a means of access for casino employees who walk to work, as well as patrons. The reason for the high cost, explained Kelly, is that the connection to Hobart Avenue must be ADA accessible. In response to questions from several board members, Bethlehem DCED Director Alicia Karner advised that 15% of the casino workforce live in South Bethlehem, and these improvements will help them walk to work.

That was enough to persuade the Gaming Board, who voted in favor of the grant by a 7-2 vote, with only Tony Pristash and Gerald Yob opposed.

After all grants were awarded, John Dally urged fellow board members to come up with a way to differentiate between impact caused by the casino and impact caused by other things. "If we're here to determine impact by the casino, we have to come up with a way to determine impact of other venues that are there,." he reasoned.

The Board also voted to set limits on grants for commonly requested items, like police interceptors, adjusted to the consumer price index.

There grants awarded are as follows:

Bethlehem Tp. - Two police vehicles ($101,528), 15 new defibrillators ($23,514) and replacement of a 2007 ambulance ($120,200).

Freemansburg. - $102,988 for an enhancement to operational technology.

Hanover Tp. - $50,601 for a Chevy Tahoe to be driven by one of the Township's three emergency management professionals, as well as software for accident reconstruction.

Hellertown.- $207,034 for two police officers.

Lower Saucon. - A police officer ($101,897) and police cruiser ($30,294).

Northampton County. - $143,765 to Northampton County Drug and Alcohol for gambling addiction treatment and support services.

The Gaming Board is made up of nine members:  Joe Kelly (Bethlehem), Tom Nolan (Bethlehem Tp), Gerald Yob (Freemansburg), Jay Finnigan (Hanover, Chair), Dave Heintzelman (Hellertown), Dave Willard (Lower Saucon), Tony Pristash (Northampton), John Dally (Pen Argyl) and James Pennington (Lower Nazareth).


Anonymous said...

Curious as to why Beth Twp. is paying $101,000 for 2 police cruisers and Lower Saucon is paying $30,000 for 1?

Anonymous said...

So Bethlehem taps both county open space and gaming money for the same green-way project?

Anonymous said...

that is correct, so what? they shouldn't apply for grants when they are available? you really need to get a grip and stop all of your negativity, they do have medicine for that these days, maybe you could talk to a doctor and get a Script.