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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Sunday, September 30, 2018

At Least Three Dead Men From Car Bomb

Law enforcement officials conducted a news conference late this afternoon at the scene of last night’s Allentown explosion. Here’s what can be said:

- At least three are dead. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim will release identities tomorrow if he can. The three dead are all male.

- There is no further threat to public security. Unanimously, federal and state officials agree that there is no “ongoing threat.” It was an “isolated “ incident. 

- Any suspects? Lehigh County DA Jim Martin said he has a “high degree of confidence the perpetrator was probably killed in the incident.” 

- Authorities seek witnesses. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 1-888-ATF-BOMB.

- ESYC will shelter those in need. East Side Youth Center will open 9 pm.

(This report based on live video. I was not physically present.)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Car Bombing Rocks Downtown Allentown

A friend who lives in downtown Allentown just sent me this: "There was just an explosion on the corner of N hall and chew Streets. Witnesses are describing it as a car bomb. It shook our house on [redacted]. One lady said there were body parts everywhere. I did not get close enough to confirm that. But the total annihilation of the car would suggest one or more fatalities. Picture attached."

A video sent to me separately reveals a severed human hand at the scene. I decline to post that video.

There is some speculation that the explosion could have been the result of improperly installed nitrous tanks. I have no idea whether that is so. That seems more likely than an intentional bombing, but that car definitely became a bomb.

A police officer at the scene expressed doubt that the explosion was caused by a nitrous tank.

Update 8:10am, 9/30: It appears the explosion was at W Turner (not Chew) and N Hall St.

Friday, September 28, 2018

McClure to Release Next Year's Budget on Wednesday

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure plans to release next year's budget on Wednesday, 1 pm, at the Human Services Building on Emrick Avenue. I'm told it contains a few surprises but have to wait until it's released.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pinsley Predicts Double Digit Win

State senatorial candidate Mark Pinsley, who is running against incumbent Pat Browne, is predicting a double digit victory. His basis for this boast is a push poll conducted by SEA.

Pinsley's campaign manager, Hillary Kleinz, claims the poll is proof "[v]oters want a Senator who reflects their values and will hold extremists in Harrisburg accountable. Pinsley is ready to take on the special interests and has refused to accept corporate PAC funding. Legislators like Pat Browne have pushed an agenda that only benefits lobbyists and special interests, raising taxes on the rest of us to pay for it.”

Pat Browne chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee and is widely known as a moderate.

My experience with polling is that they are proprietary. Candidates are reluctant to share them. Push polls are used for political purposes, as Pinsley has done.

The Lehigh Valley's Three Congressional Candidates Discuss Poverty

A few weeks ago, CACLV's Alan Jennings hosted what may very well be the best Congressional forum I've ever heard on WDIY. The program is archived, and I would strongly recommend that you give it a listen, especially if you are undecided. What I liked is that, instead of sound bites, each candidate was able to answer well-researched question in detail. Each candidate shined. But what happened yesterday might have been better.

All three candidates were guests at CACLV's annual luncheon, attended by 175 people at the Renaissance Hotel in Allentown. Jennings gave each of them ten minutes "to tell us whether and how they will address the fact 13% of our neighbors in Lehigh County and 9% of our Northampton County neighbors (that's more than 75,000 people) have incomes below the poverty level, which is just $24,600 for a family of four. $24,600! Tens of thousands are just barely above that."

Instead of summarizing the speakers, as Nicole Radzievech has already ably done for The Morning Call, I have videos of each ten-minute speech so you can see and hear the candidates yourself, in the order they appeared at the luncheon.

We are approaching that time of year - silly season - when partisans on both sides come out and bash other candidates. I will allow this under the following conditions: (1) I want you to refer to one thing about the candidate you support that you like, aside from party affiliation. (2) I want to quote at least one sentence from the speech of the candidate you oppose.

Libertarian Tim Silfies:

Republican Marty Nothstein:

Democrat Sue Wild:

(Blogger's Note: I will have separate stories about CACLV's lunch, but those are going to The Bethlehem Press first.)

The Same Ten People

Dana Grubb is a talented photographer, writer and speaker. He also takes an active interest in Bethlehem government, and certainly is one of  "the same ten people" who comments frequently at City Council meetings. The Bethlehem Press just published his editorial on the people who speak to power at municipal meetings. He learned recently that some members of City Council refer to them, pejoratively, as "STP," and then heard Council member Adam Waldron actually use the phrase. Dana describes these people.
Despite being met with blank stares, frowns and often dismissive attitudes, these residents return meeting after meeting to play a role and state their viewpoints, in an effort to get their points across to elected officials in the city.

“The they same 10 people?” Bethlehem is fortunate to have them, and so is council. They should be commended, not mocked, for the way they care about Bethlehem.
I cover lots of municipal meetings and many local governments do have "the same ten people." In most cases, elected officials will listen to and interact with citizens. Bethlehem City Council some years ago deluded itself into thinking that "courtesy of the floor" is something it must endure. Members do sit there, stone-faced, while citizens speak. I have said before that these elected officials should be able to interact with someone after his or her time is up. I believe the president could simply ask his colleagues if any member has any response or question.

Under the Pa. Sunshine Act, citizens have a statutory right "to comment on matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before the board or council prior to taking official action. The board or council has the option to accept all public comment at the beginning of the meeting.."

Here's what I would suggest.

First, No questions. Many people approach a Council or Commission with questions and expect immediate answers. They get angry if there is no answer or of it is one they dislike. There is no statutory right to ask questions and expect answers. Courtesy of the floor exists for comment, not to put elected officials on the spot.

Second, less is more. People resent being time-limited, but if you're unable to say what you need to say in a three-minute time limit, work on it and cut out the bullshit.

Third, try not to speak unless you really have something that adds to the conversation. When "the same ten people" weigh in all the time and on every topic, they are far less effective. Too many people are in love with the sound of their voice. 

Fourth, be prepared. Nothing bothers me more than when a person who knows nothing about a topic begins a rant.

Finally, every right has a corollary duty. The right to speak includes a corollary duty to listen. Yet I often see speakers who come in late and miss everyone else, or who leave after they have gifted us with their pearls of wisdom. It's rude to expect people to listen to you when you refuse to listen to them. (I do understand some older people need to leave and that's understandable.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Queen of the Court

Allentown's fall "Queen of the Court" basketball program is ready to tip off. It's a free seven week basketball fundamentals program for girls in fifth through eighth grade who attend school in Allentown.

It's an opportunity to learn basketball skills in a relaxed, fun and friendly environment.

The program is offered free of charge in the South Mountain Middle School gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30pm to 8:00pm from October 2 through November 15. Pre-registration is not required.

The program is in its eighth year thanks to the help of coaches and unsung heroes John Venus, Brittni Kholi, and Brandon Lister. It introduces the game to beginners and helps refine the efforts of more skilled players.

Queen of the Court features guest speakers consisting of former high school and college players, coaches and other community members that are sure to make a lasting impact on the girls.

I have offered to put on a clinic but my email was likely misplaced. Someone complained that last time I jumped there, I cracked the floor. That was somebody else.

Some 60-70 girls were regularly in attendance at the spring program.

South Mountain Middle School is located at 709 W. Emmaus Ave. Allentown, PA 18103. The entrance to the gymnasium is on Church St.

For more information, please contact the City of Allentown Department of Parks & Recreation at (610)437-7750 or visit us at www.facebook.com/AllentownParkandRec.

Tom Nolan Passes Away

Nolan in May, just before his illness
Commissioner Tom Nolan, 76, a fixture in Bethlehem Township government for the past three decades, passed away on Tuesday. He suffered from an aggressive form of leukemia and had been absent from the past several meetings.

"He was dedicated and always had Bethlehem Township's best interests at heart," said Hanover Township Manager Jay Finnigan, who served with Nolan on the county gaming board. "We will remember him well," added John Diacogiannis, who chairs Hanover's Board of Supervisors. He started Tuesday night's meeting with a moment of silence in remembrance of Nolan.

Nolan served as a Commissioner for 21 years and Planning Commissioner for 26 years. In his long career of public service, he was a member of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, NorCo Gaming Board, Two Rivers Council of Governments and Bethlehem Area Public Library Board of Trustees.

He graduated from the University of Scranton in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, and worked for the Bethlehem Steel. After retiring, he worked for Lehigh Heavy Forge as a project engineer.

He is survived by wife Diane, daughters Erin and Bethany and at least one grandchild.

Nolan was first appointed Commissioner in 1985 and elected in 1987. But he lost by a few votes against Republican Robert Birk in 1991. He switched from Democrat to Republican and toppled Birk in 2003 by 13 votes. He was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2015.

During his years as a Commissioner, Nolan was an advocate of the Bethlehem Area Public Library, Community Center and the townships youth sports organization, known as the Bulldogs. He supported Housenick Park, restoration of the Archibald Johnston mansion and opposed the dissolution of a committee that brainstormed different uses. He opposed the development of an active senior community next to Green Pond Marsh, which has been designated by the Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. He was also a strong advocate of stormwater management, and consistently backed proposals to study ways to mitigate flash flooding.

He tangled frequently with President Michael Hudak, who was often the yin to Nolan's yang. Though they argued, they seemed to have a grudging respect for each other.

Aside from Hudak, the only Commissioner on Bethlehem Township's Board with any institutional knowledge, was Nolan.

They have 30 days to appoint someone to succeed Nolan in Ward #1.

(Blogger's note: This is updated from a previous version published Sep 25 at 7:05 pm.)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh Stuck His Peeper Up My Nose!

I've kept this to myself for decades. No more. I see no reason why Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez should be the only ones who get rich. So here goes.

In 1983 (It could have been 1982 or 1985 or 1977 or it might have been last week), I was at a party at Yale. It could have been Moravian College or St. Charles Borneo Seminary. I'm no longer sure. I do know I was totally plastered. Come to think of it, I may have been sober. Anyway, someone pulled out a fake penis, and next thing you know, Brett Kavanaugh was sticking his sausage right up my nostrils. Hokie Joe was laughing the whole time, too. It's a good thing I have a big schnozz and Brett has a tiny peeper.

Seven people were with me, and each has sworn he won't back me up.

My book will be out in November.

Updated 9 am: What is happening to Kavanaugh is Sexual McCarthyism!

Like many things, it began on college campuses. The weaponization of sexual assault allegations is made possible because the far left has deemed due process of law to be inconvenient when it comes to sexual assault. This, coupled with the mantra "the victim should always be believed," (and yes, that is an actual standard being pushed), and you can see how this "victim's" allegations make perfect sense to some folks.

Both the far left and the far right want to take some of our rights away. They just differ on which ones.

NorCo Gets $3 M to Help Inmates With Mental Illness

Laura Savenelli
Over the weekend, an inmate at Northampton County's jail named Donnell "Donnie" Davis suffered a cardiac event. He unfortunately passed away. Davis was serving time for acting as an escort to a drug sale. he had been in trouble before.  But Judge Leonard Zito recognized that Davis was suffering from mental illness when he sentenced him in late August. Judge Zito not only ordered a mental evaluation, but even went so far as to agree to Davis' release if that became the ultimate recommendation of Mental Health.

Since posting my story, I've heard from several people in the Easton community who knew and liked Davis. "Poor guy never knew better," said one. "He was a good guy," added another. 

Davis had been concerned that, upon his release, he'd have no place to go. But his story is by no means unusual. Laura Savenelli, Northampton County's re-entry coordinator, outlined the problem to Northampton County Council on Aug 20.

According to Savenelli, 4,200 people were in the jail during 2017. Of that number, 1,268 (30.2%) of them acknowledged that they suffer from mental illness. In the public at large, only 4% will admit to mental health issues.

This year, PrimeCare began doing its own assessment of the mental health of inmates during the second quarter. According to their records, 72% of them either are or were suffering from mental illness. A whopping 23% of them suffer from serious mental illness with current and acute symptoms.

Are we paying to house people who should have been placed at Allentown State Hospital, which closed its doors in 2010?

"The answer to this question is an emphatic yes," says Executive Lamont McClure. Brian Watson, a county Mental Health administrator, adds that "the elimination of State Hospital beds has created a difficult void for individuals in need of a higher level of care." He notes this trend on a state and national level as well.

In 2017, Northampton County joined 425 other counties nationwide in The Stepping Up Initiative, a national program designed to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses who are in jail. At this point, the county is screening and assessing 71% of the inmates.

Savenelli is about to get help. On Aug 21, the day after she addressed County Council, the state Human Services advised the County that it will be getting a little over $3 million to help inmates with mental illness. With this money, the County plans to develop an eight-bed residence for inmates with severe mental illness. No location has been identified, but Watson said he'd like it to be close to both the jail and courthouse. There will also be housing for inmates with less severe mental illness, and a re-entry program to help inmates secure housing. Finally, a Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator will reach out to police and first responders to avoid unnecessary arrests and increase safe interactions with people suffering from mental illness.

Allentown, S Whitehall, Declare War on Mosquitoes

It's been so rainy this summer that public officials throughout the Lehigh Valley are concerned about West Nile virus (WNV).

WNV was first detected in the U.S. in 1999 and affects birds, humans, horses and other mammals. There were nationwide epidemics of the virus in 2003 and 2012, and the key months for WNV transmission run from August into October. In humans, 80% of the cases are asymptomatic and 20% develop flu-like symptoms. Less than 1% of cases result in conditions such as encephalitis which can cause paralysis and even death.

There is no known vaccine.

I have previously told you about spraying efforts in Northampton County. Yesterday, a news release from Allentown reported a truck- mounted spray application operation between 7:00pm and 11:00pm last night in the city will focus at Union and West End Cemetery as well as Sumner Avenue and the Industrial neighborhood adjacent to Coca Cola Park.

The application will also take place in and around Cedar Creek Park in South Whitehall.

Since it's getting colder, is this really necessary? From what I've read, some species will lay eggs and die once cold weather hits. Others hibernate. There are even "snow mosquitoes" who will come out on warm winter days. But his time of year, many of them become vegans. Instead of sucking blood, they go after rotting fruit and double in weight.

Mosquitoes kill more humans than any other animal. Even other humans! I've always considered them proof that God is a prick. But I have a remedy, and I'll let you in on my little secret.

Patchouli. Otherwise known as "hippie perfume."

For over a year, I've been applying a drop every day. This July, when I started walking again after a sabbatical of about 500 years, I noticed that mosquitoes and even houseflies kept their distance.  When I learned that some people hate the smell, I'd apply an extra drop around them.

The stuff is amazing! It does nothing to deter black flies, but works like a charm on most pests, be they six-legged or two-legged.

Controller Wants NorCo to Tighten Eligibility List For Vision Benefits

Northampton County Controller Richard Szulborski and his staff recently completed an audit of the county's vision benefits. The good news is that no evidence of duplicate claims or claims paid for individuals who are ineligible. The bad news is that 72 people are listed on the eligibility list who don't belong there.

Though this is a problem, it's a big improvement over the last audit, when it was determined that 466 ineligible people were on the eligibility list.

Human Resources Director Elizabeth Kelly said she will strive to remove ineligible individuals with periodic reviews.

In 2017, Northampton County paid $39,000 for vision claims and an additional $7,500 in administrative fees. It also reimbursed AFSCME an estimated $36,000 for individuals covered a separate union plan.

Szulborski's lead auditor on vision benefits is Anthony Sabino. His audit manager is Paul Albert.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Pinsley-Brown Senate Race

John Micek, who is with the Patriot News of late, has listed the race between incumbent Pat Browne and challenger Mark Pinsley as one of eight state senate contests to which we need to pay attention. Browne has been either a State Representative or State Senator since 1994, and has been a State Senator since 2005. He chairs the Appropriations Committee, making him one of the most powerful persons in the state. Browne is both an attorney and a CPA. Pinsley, a South Whitehall Township Commissioner who was just elected last year, has an MBA from Indiana University and is involved in several businesses.

Though he concedes that Pinsley will have the hardest time of any of the Democratic challengers, Micek points out that Hillary Clinton won Brown's district in 2016 with 50.68% of the vote, and that the Democratic edge is 45-37 per cent.
You can expect Browne, who's had a hand in nearly every major economic development project in the Valley for the last decade, to run heavily on his record and his experience.

He's emerged as a forceful advocate for early childhood education funding; the co-sponsor of an LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill, and the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. The latter gives him a serious say in the annual debate over the state budget.

On his website, Pinsley describes himself as an advocate "for the people, not the powerful." He supports "healthcare for all;" a $15 minimum wage; "100 percent clean energy," and a proposal he calls "the Anti-Corruption Act."
I expect Browne to kick Pinsley's ass. First, nobody knows who the hell Pinsley is. Second, those who do are turned off by him. This is a guy who announced his challenge before he was even sworn into office. Pinsley also did himself no favors when he attempted to make political hay over the unfortunate shooting death of Joseph Santos by a South Whitehall police officer.

NCP Inmate Stricken By Cardiac Event, Passes Away

Easton resident Donnell Davis, 49, who was serving a sentence at Northampton County jail, was stricken by what has been described as a "cardiac event" on Saturday. He has passed away.

Davis was one of five people snagged in a drug sweep by Easton police in April. He was accused of escorting a police source to a drug dealer, and then witnessing a sale of crack cocaine. At his prelimhavinary arraignment before Magisterial District Judge Antonia Grifo, he denied making any sales. He claimed to have mental health issues and to be on medication, though he had no doctor. He also had trouble reading.

He would later waive his preliminary hearing and plead guilty to one felony count for his role. Judge Leonard Zito imposed an 11 month, 29 day sentence on August 31. This spared Davis state prison. Judge Zito gave Davis credit for time already served and waived court costs because Davis was disabled. He also ordered that Davis undergo psychiatric evaluation, and even agreed to parole Davis for mental health treatment if that was the ultimate recommendation.

It is unknown whether Davis had been evaluated, and if he was, whether a recommendation had yet been made.

Davis was a graduate of Easton Area High School. Originally from Reading, he was adopted. Those who know him describe "Donnie" as an affable person who was a bit gullible and perhaps a bit slow. Throughout his short life, he made mistakes. But his Facebook page shows a man who loved his son and daughters.

On Friday, the day before Davis passed away, the County was advised that it is receiving over $3 million from state Human Services to help expand the treatment options for inmates with mental illness. “By expanding available beds and treatment options, we’ll be able to keep people from languishing in the County prison system,” said Executive Lamont McClure. One of the chief features of this program is a re-entry housing program.

It's impossible to say whether Davis would have done better had he known this, but his biggest  worry on the day of his arrest was housing.

On Tuesday, I will have more to say about the efforts Northampton County is making to help inmates with mental illness. The county's re-entry coordinator talked about what is being done on Thursday night. 

Weekly LV Police Blotter

Below is a weekly LV police blotter compiled from police department Facebook pages. If I missed something, please provide a link. If you have a comment that contributes, please share. I remind you that this thread is no place for pious condemnations of either police or the persons charged. I was surprised to see that someone stole a ball washer

Moore Tp Police report ball washer theft. - On September 17, 2018, Moore Township Police received a theft report of a ball washer stand and shoe brush console stolen from the Whitetail Golf Club on September 16, 2018. The item is valued at $355.00. If you have any information about this crime, please contact the non-emergency number (610) 317-0808. Golfers do love to wash their balls.

Lower Saucon Police report a Sep 19 a terroristic threat by 14 yo Lower Saucon juvenile who threatened "shooting up a school" on SnapChat. He is detained at juvenille detention.

Lower Saucon Police on Sep 20 conducted a vehicle stop of Jose Diaz Rosado, 25, and detected the odor of marijuana. He had no valid driver's license. A search of the vehicle revealed a small amount of marijuana. Diaz Rosado has been charged with driving without a license and possession of a small amount if marijuana.

Lower Saucon Police have iPhoneS, including Mophie battery pack, found Sep. 21 on Skibo Rd.

Hellertown Police seek bank robber, depicted above, who on Sep 17 allegedly handed a BBandT Bank (at 741 Main St) teller a note demanding money. He displayed a stainless finish revolver. The male left the bank and through investigation it was determined he changed his clothes on Fehr Street in Hellertown. The male was then seen walking West on Depot Street wearing a white t-shirt, blue in color shorts, black sneakers, and holding sunglasses. Anyone who may know this person or has any information relating to the robbery is asked to contact Detective Mike Dattilio at (610) 759-2200. Note: The alleged bank robber is Kurt M. Laudenslager, 47. H was arrested Friday night and is in Northampton County jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.

Bethlehem Tp Police seek prescription fraud suspect, depicted on the left, alleged to have presented fraudulent prescriptions at the Freemansburg Ave. ShopRite on Aug 11, Aug 20 and Sep 14. Anyone who knows the identity of the male suspect is asked to contact Ptl. Durham at 610-419-9703 email ndurham@bethlehemtwp.com

Nazareth police report that road maintenance begins this week on all roads surrounding my estate, including S Main St. from Belvidere St. north to the Circle; The entire Circle; N Main St. from the Circle to Chestnut St; W Center St. from the Circle to Green St. Roads have apparently sustained heavy damage as a result of my decision to begin walking in July.

Emmaus police charge six people with DUI. Ashlynn Madeira, 25, of Emmaus was stopped Aug 17 in the unit block of S 2nd Street. Michael Wilhide, 45, of Emmaus was stopped Aug 22 in the 600 block of Chestnut Street. Tekeita Nielson, 34, of Bethlehem was charged Aug 30 with Driving Under the Influence, Resisting Arrest, Driving While Under Suspension and Disorderly Conduct in the 300 block of S 2nd Street. Sean Henry, 40, of Emmaus, was stopped Aug 31 in the 400 block of State Avenue. Bonnie Schreiber, 52, of Zionsville was stopped Sep 1at 7th and Broad Streets. Carolynne Eichler, 31, of Sellersville,  was stopped Sep 2 in the 700 block of Chestnut Street. All were transported to the Lehigh County DUI Center and processed.

Emmaus police also charged Haley Edelman, 19, of Macungie, with Simple Assault and Harassment Sep 14 after a physical altercation in the 600 block of Chestnut Street. .

Bradley Blocker, 38, of Walnutport, was charged Sep 17 with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Expired Registration after a traffic stop in the 1100 block of Eagle Drive.

Gabriella Baran, 18, of Macungie, was charged with disorderly conduct on Sep 6 at Emmaus High School.

Jeremy Steigerwalt, 32, of Allentown, was arrested for Criminal Trespass after he allegedly entered an apartment through a window in the 200 block of Powder Mill Lane. He was transported to Lehigh County Booking Center and processed.

Vincent Taylor, 31, of Coatesville, was charged Sep 11 with harassment after a domestic disturbance in the unit block of N 8th Street. A citation was filed at the Magistrate’s office.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

NorCo Deputy Sheriffs Snare Fugitives

Northampton County's Deputy Sheriffs have conducted a recent warrant sweep, and have snared the following fugitives:

Zachery Dugan, 22, was taken into custody without incident in the 1500 block of Butler Street in Easton. He was wanted by Northampton County Adult Probation for violating his conditions of supervision. His original charges are unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, accident involving damage to an unattended vehicle and D.U.I. He is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his case.

Natasha Freed, 32, was taken into custody in the 300 block of South 3rd Street in Coopersburg Lehigh County. She was wanted by Northampton County Adult Probation for violating her conditions of supervision. Her original charges are felony forgery. Marijuana and drug paraphernalia were recovered from her during arrest. A search warrant obtained after her arrest resulted in the discovery of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia and the arrest of three other individuals who were taken into custody by the Drug Task Force. Freed was also wanted by Penn Ridge Regional Police for two counts of identity theft, two counts of access device fraud and receiving stolen property. She is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on her case.

Raekwon Washington, 20, was taken into custody without incident in the 90 Block of Freedom Terrace in Palmer Township. He was wanted by Northampton County Adult Probation for violating his conditions of supervision on the original charges of simple assault. Washington violated his conditions of supervision when Easton Police filed new charges September 3 of felony kidnapping to inflict injury or terror, false imprisonment, simple assault and harassment. That arose from his abduction of a woman who already had obtained a Protection from Abuse Order against him.

He was arraigned before Judge Yetter on the Easton case. Bail was set at $100,000 and he is lodged in NCP awaiting disposition on his case.

Robert Boehm, 37, was taken into custody without incident in the 2500 block of Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem. He was wanted by State Parole for violating his conditions of supervision on original charges of felony robbery. Boehm was transported back to a PA State Correctional Institution by State Parole for disposition.

In 2010, Boehm robbed the Embassy Bank in Lower Saucon Tp, and pointed a gun at a teller. Judge Baratta imposed a three to seven year sentence in 2011.

Resny Colon, 29, was taken into custody without incident in the 600 block of Fawn Street in Allentown. He was wanted by State Parole for violating his conditions of supervision on original charges are possession with intent to deliver and illegal firearms possession. He was transported back to a PA SCI by State Parole for disposition.

Stephanie Porter, 36, was taken into custody in the 1200 block of Minnesota Drive in Whitehall Lehigh County. She was wanted by Lehigh County Adult Probation for violating her conditions of supervision on original charges of possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. She was discovered while attempting to arrest another fugitive. Drugs and drug paraphernalia were found at the scene, leading to a search warrant, discovery of more drug related items and new charges. She is lodged in LCP awaiting disposition on her case.

Friday, September 21, 2018

NorCo Council Approves $33.7 M Contract For Managed IT Services

Northampton County Council voted unanimously on August 20 to approve a new, $33.7 million contract for managed IT services. It's with a new vendor, too. Conduent, a spin off of Xerox, is being replaced by Vision Technologies, located in Glen Burnie, Md.

The $33.7 million contract is for the total payments the county will make for one three-year base term, followed by two renewal options for five years. As council member BobWerner observed, the contract also includes a 30-day termination clause, enabling the County to drop this new vendor if performance is unsatisfactory.

Vision Technologies will retain all Conduent employees currently working for the county.

Vision Technologies was selected as a result of a competitive bidding process in which 116 firms reviewed the county's Request for Proposals. The following three firms submitted proposals: Vision Technologies, and Razor Technology. There may have been a fourth proposal, but it is missing from the procurement notice.

Northampton County relies on its managed IT services provider to acquire both hardware and, in some cases, software, at reduced rates. There has been some grumbling that  Conduent's mark-up was too high.

Administrator Charles Dertinger noted that Vision Technologies agreed to limit its mark-up to four per cent. He also told Council member Tara Zrinski that Vision's proposal was both the best and the cheapest.

Voter Registration Office Moves to Courthouse

Northampton County's elections office began its move to the courthouse yesterday. It should be completely moved in today. The office will be located on the first floor, next to the law library.

Up until today, the office was located at the Milides Building. That building is being demolished to expand parking.

Though it wold make a lot of sense to move the office to the centralized human services building, state law mandates that the elections office must be located at the county seat. 

Meet Gracedale's New Director of Nursing

Dawn Marie TuersFeldman, Gracedale's new Director of Nursing, introduced herself to Northampton County Council last night. She's been there since July, and her goal is to turn Gracedale into a five-star nursing home.

She's been in the healthcare profession for the past 25 years, starting out as a nursing assistant. she worked her way up the ladder, and also obtained several degrees. RN, BSN, MSN and even an MBA. She spent 15 years at Easton Hospital as their Assistant Chief Nursing Officer. She then became a Chief Nursing Officer at Jennersville Regional Hospital for another three years. Gracedale is closer to home for her. Gracedale recently had a Director of Nursing who quit after just one day. It is a demanding job.

McClure Makes Three Outstanding Picks

Marvin Boyer
NorCo Executive Lamont McClure has made three outstanding selections to two county boards  He managed to recruit corporate banker Ronald Donchez and Capital BlueCross Senior Exec Anne Baum to the General Purpose Authority (GPA). He also named  Marvin Boyer, an activist with Easton's NAACP, to the jail's advisory board.

These nominations were confirmed unanimously by County Council on August 20.

Council member Ron Heckman  insisted on calling Baum to the podium. He claimed to have a question, but that was just an excuse so he could bash the GPA.

That war is over. The chief troublemakers are gone. There was no reason at all to call on Baum to answer bizarre questions 

Heckman caused such a distraction that no one bothered to recognize Boyer until after he had been confirmed. 

Boyer told me that  he is anxious to bring NAACP forums on bail, incarceration and re-entry. He is very impressed by Norco's approach to bail for nonviolent offenders. 

Ken Brown Confirmed as NorCo's New Director of Court Services

Ken Brown
Easton City Council member Ken Brown is NorCo's new Director of Court Services. He was confirmed unanimously by County Council at their Sep 20 meeting. He will be paid an annual salary of $77,566. "I cannot tell you enough how much I respect his experience at Shiloh Manor," said Executive Lamont McClure. He also complimented Brown's acumen as a PIAA basketball referee.

I notice Brown has a new pair of glasses, so he may have improved. In previous years, he routinely tossed me out of games for just being handsome.

In addition to serving as Executive Director at Shiloh Manor, Brown has been a member of Easton City Council since 2004.

Council member Bob Werner's sole concern was whether it is legal for an elected municipal official to be employed by the County. solicitor Missy Rudas researched the issue, and concluded it is. She reviewed the provisions of both Northampton County and Easton Home Rule Charters, and saw no prohibition.   

McClure tried to leave this office vacant, and was assigning the duties to Administrator Charles Dertinger. But in order to maintain effective communication with the courts and facilitate many of the new services, such as e-filing, McClure decided he needs to fill this position.

Brown will supervise the Criminal Division, Civil Division, Orphans Court, Register of Wills and Archives. In addition, he will be tasked with enhancing the county's collection of outstanding fines, costs and restitution.

Erratum: I misidentified Bob Werner in my original story, and am correcting that error at 9:10 am.

McClure Talks Mold

Earlier this week, I told you that Historic Courtroom No. 1, located at the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, is closed as a result of mold near the ventilation system.

Executive Lamont McClure told County Council Sep. 20 that mold levels are a bit higher than they should be, but low enough that no one will get sick. He said he's working to have the mold remediated as quickly as possible.

He also explained that his Administrator, Charles Dertinger, has a a good idea what caused it. Dertinger noticed that temperatures inside Courtroom No. 1 are always kept a chilly 55 degrees, which is often well below the outside air temperature. This causes condensation near the vents, and that in turn leads to mold.

McClure also pointed out that the ventilation system inside Courtroom No. 1 is self-contained, meaning there is no danger that it will spread to the rest of the courthouse.

According to the National Institute of Health, mold usually poses no health risks to healthy humans. But some people experience nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, blurred vision, a sore throat, chronic cough or skin rash.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How Dems Screw Themselves

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am highly critical of Authoritarian Donald Trump. He plays to people's darkest fears and their ugly side. I am also deeply concerned that he will refuse to leave office if he loses the next Presidential election, or that that he will suspend the election because he claims it is rigged. But he is a President who was legitimately elected. In that capacity, he has had an opportunity to appoint two Supreme Court justices. Both are arch conservatives who will actively dismantle established individual liberties while pretending to be strict constructionists. Both are impeccably qualified.

If we wanted someone more liberal, we should have worked harder to elect a Democrat as President. Shame on us.

The most recent nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, went through his confirmation hearings unscathed. That's when Diane Feinstein got ugly. She released an accusation that Kavanaugh traumatized a fellow high school student at a party some 36 years ago. She received this accusation in July, but sat on it. She never sought an investigation then. Instead, she unleashing it at the midnight hour in an obvious bad-faith attempt to derail the nomination.

It is logically impossible to prove a negative. So matter what Kavanaugh says or does, Feinstein has permanently stained him. She has also stained the woman who leveled these accusations and obviously has her own issues. She has also permanently stained the #metoo movement and women who have very real complaints.

I Can Never Go to a Baseball Game Again

Though I love to write about basketball, the sport I love most is baseball. It's magic! There's the pop of a 93 mph pitch going into a catcher's mitt. The c-r-r-a-c-c-k-k of a wood bat when it hits a tightly wrapped baseball just right. The cool breeze of a September night. The joy on a child's face when he or she snags a foul ball. It's a game that gives a glimpse into the mystery of life itself, although the baseball gods only let you see so much.

On Sunday and again last night, as the Phillies' season comes to an end, I was fortunate to be able to attend two of their games. After last night, I may never be able to go again.

On Sunday, I had great seats with the "Diamond Club," a few rows behind home plate. Preferred parking, too. It was simply amazing. But last night was even better. We had preferred parking, and our seats were front row, right behind home plate. Not only that. We also had a sit down meal at the stadium in which a waitress came out with menus and we ordered. I had an avocado stuffed with chorizo.

Yes, our party was on television, and some of my Facebook friends asked if that was really me.

It was.

I told them I was there to be signed but want more money.

There is no way I will ever be able to top the seats I had last night. But as one of my friends there observed, they all look pretty good.   

The Bethlehem Gadfly Opens For Business

The Bethlehem Gadfly is a new blog just rolled out by Edward J. Gallagher, a Professor Emeritus from Lehigh University. He has certainly hit the ground running, with several entries divided between "serious issues" and "fun stuff." He uses several authors like Dana Grubb and Kim Carrell-Smith. He also invites readers to submit their own stories.

I am happy to see this new blog. Bethlehem has a host of issues, including a proposed parking meter increase, Airbnb controversy, golf course loan, and Banana Factory expansion. Edwards believes his blog is "several cuts above Facebook." He hopes it will "be a place to respectfully share our questions and answers, our dreams and nightmares. Leaders and led alike. Together. Outside the sometimes stilted formality of Town Hall on Church Street. Here every woman and man a Gadfly."

Gadflies are portrayed positively by Gallagher. He even quotes Plato about their many benefits.

Sometimes, I've been called a gadfly, but resent that pejorative. I'm a frickin' horsefly who's always landing on shit! I have no redeeming value, and my bite really, really hurts.

Ask a few pols.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Should Bethlehem Borrow $1.75 M For a Failing Golf Course?

This is a no-brainer. It is totally irresponsible. It's not really a $1.75 million loan, but it will be about $3 million by the time it is paid off. Bethlehem City Council is made up almost entirely of Council members who already rely on taxes to pay the salaries of their full-time jobs. As a result, they lack business perspective. This is mostly a bow to entrenched cronies in my age bracket, but we're dying off. The golf economy is declining because there are too many of them and the number of golfers has decreased.

Dr. Paige Van Wirt and Olga Negron are the only two Nos. "I feel a short term, structured lease with a well-vetted, proven operator is a much more financially responsible option than sinking more money into an operation that has run at a deficit for the last decade," said Dr. Van Wirt.

The City is also sinking $450,000 in grant money, some of which is from Northampton County, for the sport of rich people and those who pretend they are rich.

Dr. Van Wirt continues:

"Why is the city choosing to put even more money into the golf course? Is this reflective of the priorities of all the citizens of Bethlehem, when only 750 of Bethlehem’s 78,000 citizens even play golf on the municipal course? The feasibility study for the pedestrian bridge project costs $80,000. The merits of this project toward walkability and economic development for our city are clear. There are other priorities for this money as well, such as improving our dismal sidewalks, helping our business districts with grants for facade and streetscape improvements, giving away 2 hours free in the public parking garage to parkers to encourage more shoppers downtown- all much more effective economic development uses for this money than more equipment for the golf course. I’m sure there are many other good ideas out there and I would love to hear them."


Two LV School Districts in Top 50 for Salaries

The Patriot News has complied a listing of the 50 highest-paying school districts in the state during the 2015-6 school year. This includes the entire staff, not just teachers. The Lehigh Valley has two school districts in the top 50.


Average annual staff salary: $80,238
Total student enrollment: 9,170

34. CATASAUQUA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT (Lehigh and Northampton counties)

Average annual staff salary: $82,867
Total student enrollment: 1,487


Average annual staff salary: $97,480
Total student enrollment: 8,388

Updated: LV GDP Hits $40.1 Billion?

From LVEDC: The Lehigh Valley’s gross domestic product has reached a record-high $40.1 billion, with much of the economic growth driven by the region’s thriving manufacturing sector, according to newly-released federal data.

The $40.1 billion regional GDP for 2017 is about a 5 percent increase over the previous year, and growth in manufacturing was responsible for about 36 percent of that year-over-year growth, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

“The Lehigh Valley is unique among major metropolitan areas in the United States in that manufacturing is driving such a large percentage of its growth,” said Don Cunningham, President & CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC). “Manufacturing is clearly alive and well in the Lehigh Valley, and our regional GDP is the largest it’s ever been, far surpassing even the days of Bethlehem Steel.”

Manufacturing the fastest-growing sector

Manufacturing makes up $7.4 billion – or 18.4 percent – of the Lehigh Valley’s overall $40.1 billion GDP. That’s a much higher percentage than its share of the national economy. Manufacturing is 11.6 percent of the U.S. economy, according to the BEA.

Manufacturing was also the fastest-growing economic sector for 2017 in terms of economic output. Its $7.4 billion GDP was an increase of $700 million (10.4 percent) compared to 2016. No other sector had a larger year-over-year percentage increase.

That means manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley grew at a faster pace than transportation and warehousing, which saw the second-largest year-over-year jump. That sector, with a $2.1 billion GDP, grew at a rate of 8.8 percent compared to 2016.

“Contrary to the misnomer that big box warehousing and fulfillment centers are driving growth in the Lehigh Valley economy, manufacturing far surpasses it in economic output and growth,” Cunningham said. “That’s a testament to both the strength of manufacturing in the Lehigh Valley, and the balanced and diversified makeup of the overall economy.”

Manufacturing remains the Lehigh Valley’s second-largest sector. The largest is finance, insurance and real estate, which makes up $7.6 billion of the regional economy. Manufacturing fell only $200 million behind it in 2017, compared to a gap of $900 million the previous year.

Lehigh Valley ranks 64th in the U.S.

Gross domestic product is a measurement of a region’s economic output. The Lehigh Valley’s $40.1 billion figure accounts for private sector industry and does not include government spending. If that were included, the figure would rise to $43.8 billion.

The Lehigh Valley economy now ranks 64th out of the 382 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, which is one spot higher than last year. The BEA released the new data on Sept. 18, and 2017 is the most recent year for which measurable GDP data is available.

“The Lehigh Valley is the nation’s 69th largest major metropolitan area by population but the country’s 64th largest economy, so we continue to swing well above our weight class in economic output," Cunningham said.

The Lehigh Valley private sector GDP remains larger than that of Vermont ($27.4 billion) and Wyoming ($34 billion), as well as 112 other countries in the world. If the Lehigh Valley were a country, it would be the 88th largest economy in the world in terms of economic output.

Economic growth across many sectors

Nearly each of the economic sectors of the Lehigh Valley economy saw year-over-year GDP growth in 2017, with the exception of the information sector, which saw a slight drop from $2 billion to $1.9 billion. The sector-by-sector breakdown can be found below:

· Finance, Insurance and Real Estate ($7.6 billion, +4.26% year-over-year)

· Manufacturing ($7.4 billion, +10.4%)

· Education, Health Care and Social Assistance ($5.5 billion, +4.63%)

· Professional Services ($5.2 billion, +2.52%)

· Retail ($2.4 billion, +1.4%)

· Transportation and Warehousing ($2.1 billion, 8.8%)

· Information ($1.9 billion, -3.73%)

· Arts, Entertainment, Accommodation ($1.7 billion, +1.7 percent)

These GDP figures derive from the BEA and were analyzed and presented by George Lewis, LVEDC Director of Research and Analysis. GDP rankings of other countries come from the World Bank. The BEA adjusts its figures to account for new information and projections, so numbers that have been reported for previous years may have been changed or adjusted over time.


The mission of LVEDC is to market the economic assets of the Lehigh Valley and to serve as a regional shared services and resource center to help businesses to come, grow, and start here. Our vision is of a Lehigh Valley with a diverse economic base in our cities and countries that enable businesses to come here, start here, and flourish here in order to create jobs and opportunities for all of our residents. Our priorities are marketing economic assets, coordinating a prepared workforce, focusing on city and urban development, serving as a shared services center, providing access to capital, and building our resources and engaging stakeholders.

Blogger's Analysis: I'm a little confused. According to this news release, the Lehigh Valley's GDP has jumped five percent over the previous year, and is now $40.1 billion. But when I add the sector-by-sector breakdown, I come up with only $33.8 billion GDP. So either someone's math is wrong, or one or more sectors are missing.

Also, despite the manufacturing boast, it only makes up 22% of the economy.

Retail has only risen 1.4%. That's hardly a sign that consumers have money in their pockets, or that Trump's temporary tax cuts has spurred spending.

The increase in transportation and warehousing is a bad sign for our failing infrastructure. The Lehigh Valley knows truck traffic is going to double, yet still has failed to take a regional approach to combat this problem.

Arts and entertainment is only up 1.7? Is this supposed to be a good thing, or a warning sign?

The drop in information is something you see every time you open up a newspaper. The problem is not fake news. the problem is no news at all, a very troubling sign in a democracy.

Updated 1:30 pm: LVEDC Responds!

We listed the eight largest sectors in our story, but there are a few other sectors that make up a smaller portion of the GDP (utilities, construction, wholesale trade) that we did not include.  However, if you’d like to see the specific breakdown, you can visit the BEA.govwebsite, go to the interactive data section, then search for GDP by metro, then pull up the 2017 numbers.


You can see in the screenshot below where the $40.1 billion (for private industry) comes from:



(You may also see some sectors are listed as “(D),” meaning “Did not report.” That means the BEA did not report specific amounts from them, either because of business confidentiality reasons, or because they deemed them too small to specifically report, or for some other reason. We have no control over that, obviously, but GDP from those sectors are still rolled into the $40.1 billion number.)


Manufacturing’s $7.4 billion GDP makes up 18% of the overall $40.1 billion GDP, which may not sound like much on the surface, but is actually quite high compared to most regions. For comparison purposes, manufacturing only makes up 11.6% of the overall U.S. economy.


Additionally, one of the unique factors of the Lehigh Valley economy is how unusually balanced and multifaceted it is. Many regions have one sector that makes up the vast majority of its economy, and then the other sectors are significantly smaller. By comparison, the Lehigh Valley’s top two sectors (finance and manufacturing) are very close to each other ($7.6B and $7.4B), as are its next two (education and professional services, at $5.5 billion and $5.2 billion, respectively). We view this as a strength for our economy, all our eggs are not in one basket; we are not overly dependent on one industry, and so if there is a decline in one sector, it will be partially offset by strength in the others.

Permanent Helipad Approved at St.Luke's Anderson

Bethlehem Tp Commissioners gave their blessing to a permanent helipad at the St. Luke's Hospital Anderson campus on Sep. 17.. By a 4-0 vote, they voted to approve both the helipad and anticipated flight take off and Landing patterns following a hearing attended by about 30 people. Voting Yes were Malissa Davis, John Gallagher, Michael Hudak and John Merhotten. Tom Nolan was absent.

St. Luke's Anderson currently maintains a temporary helipad at the southern terminus of St.Luke's Blvd, near the Lehigh River. When a critical care patient is transported, the hospital must notify 9-1-1, and fire vehicles and ambulances are dispatched to the site with lights and sirens. It also is located some distance away from the hospital tower, necessitating an ambulance transport from the chopper.

Bethlehem Township Volunteer Fire Company Chief Dave Stapinski said a permanent helipad, to be located next to a tower under construction is "so much safer." He noted that helicopters landing now often kick up cinders in the open parking lot. He also noted that some drivers just ignore the fire engines and ambulances there to establish a perimeter. He recounted one instance in which a car drove under a helicopter as it was landing.

Although members of the public had a few questions, only Chetwin Terrace resident Barry Roth was opposed. He initially complained about the flight path until it was demonstrated that he misunderstood it. Then it was the noise. "I hear the chopper leave from Gracedale all the time," he complained. Considering that his Chetwin Terrace residence is located nine miles from Gracedale, he must have remarkable hearing.

Attorney Steven Boell, representing St. Luke's, presented three witnesses in support of the permanent helipad. Ray Midlam, a hospital VP, explained the desire for a permanent helipad next to a tower under construction. This will enable the hospital to transport newborn infants in need of critical care as well as trauma patients. He said the chopper is currently used once a month, and he projected that to increase to about twice a month as a result of transporting newborn infants. He admitted there would be a need to cross the street from the tower to the helipad, but said that security would be on hand to prevent any mishaps.

Scott Pasterski, of Keystone Engineering, is the project manager. He described the permanent helipad as a 70' diameter concrete heated pad that would never need to be plowed. There would also be a 13' wide buffer, free of obstructions,surrounding the helipad. Fire suppression will be located on site, as well as a wind sock. He added that the helicopter will fuel off site.

Adam Maziuk, a former EMT in Bethlehem Township, was the clean-up hitter. He testified he spent 13 years flying with PennStar, and described the noise. He indicated that when a helicopter is 2500' in the sky, the nearest it gets to a residence, it is just ambient noise. He said the chopper gets noisy the closer you get to it, and described the sound in most instances like a bus.

Under Bethlehem Township's zoning law, a helipad requires 15 acres. The St. Luke's Anderson campus is 180 acres. The helipad itself is located 0.40 miles away from the nearest home. The proposal has already been approved by the Pa. Bureau of Aviation.

Fire Chief Stapinski summed up the sentiment of most of the room. "We're blessed to have a hospital in our back yard."

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Courtroom No. 1 Closed For Mold Remediation

Historic Courtroom No. 1, located at the Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, is a majestic ceremonial courtroom. Its massive size and cavernous ceiling adds an aura of dignity during naturalization ceremonies or when elected officials like Executive Lamont McClure take the oath of office. It's also a bit intimidating because all nine judges can and sometimes do take the bench simultaneously. The room is decorated with the scowling portraits of seemingly constipated jurists who have long since ascended into the judicial heavens.

In addition to its ceremonial use, Courtroom No. 1 has been an active, working courtroom. It's where "Calls of the List" are commonly held. That's where which lawyers signal their readiness for a trial or hearing. Judge Leonard Zito routinely arraigns hundreds of criminal defendants monthly. It's where monthly herds of Defendants seeking A.R.D, a special program for first offenders, are corralled. But for the time being, Courtroom No.1 is closed for business.

The doors have been locked because mold has been discovered near the ventilation system.

Executive Lamont McClure said testing reveals that mold levels are a bit higher than they should be, and has decided to remediate it before it gets worse  He said he's working to have the situation addressed as quickly as possible, consistent with the Administrative Code. In the meantime, other courtrooms are being used.

According to the National Institute of Health, mold usually poses no health risks to healthy humans. But some people experience nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, blurred vision, a sore throat, chronic cough or skin rash.

Monday, September 17, 2018

WFMZ-TV69 Business Matters Show on Fake News Tonight - Honest!

This was shortly before Browning lunged at poor Martin Till.
Till claims to be special forces, but Browning is from Ky. 
This time last Monday, I told you that WFMZ-TV69's Business Matters' would be kicking off its new season that very night at 7:30 pm. I told you it would be a show on Fake News, hosted by Tony Iannelli and starring me (and three other completely forgettable guys.) As it happens, my report to you was Fake News. The new season actually starts tonight. WFMZ, which prides itself on being family-oriented, wanted to wait until all the guests were released from the hospital.

One of them, Dean Browning, had his jaw wired shut. I can't remember whether it was I or Tony who did that. He may never speak again.

Before you get worked up over my violent actions, I want you to know every guest signed a release in advance. Besides, Dean had it coming. He was kicking Martin Till's bald head like a soccer ball and screaming, "G-0-A-L-L-L-L!."

It's the first time I've ever seen Martin Till's head used for anything.

Till was released from the hospital late last week. It took doctors that long to realize there really is nothing in there.

Some of the show's technical crew were hospitalized as well. During one of the breaks, Ron Angle crashed the studio and did a strip tease Most of them have now decided to take a vow of celibacy.

Police were called in to make arrests, but we're all white. I told them Tony Phillips was at Bucky Boyle Park, so they rushed over there.

Do you think I'm giving you fake news? You'll just have to tune in.

Ben Miller Publishes Second Book

Nazareth, PA – September 15, 2018– Nazareth author, Ben Miller, who’s 2009 bestseller The First Resort: Fun, Sun, Fire and War in Cape May (Exit Zero Publishing) sold its entire first print run in less than six months, has released a new book via Kickstarter, based on his struggles as a disabled veteran and how a weekend in the Poconos forever changed his perspective on life. The book, Dear Billie - Salvation in the Poconos is set at the Bischwind BandB in Bear Creek Township.

Miller, a 1993 graduate of Nazareth High School, veteran of Naval Intelligence, having served as part of America’s NATO contingent during the Bosnian War. He was assigned to an intelligence reconnaissance squadron with a security clearance three compartments above Top Secret, tasked with monitoring and recording the atrocities of the war, and at times, creating targeting intelligence used by NATO bombers.

In his new book, Miller shares intensely personal aspects of his life, like his struggles with mental illness, life-altering personal experiences from childhood to the present, and his steadfast faith in God. Dear Billie is written in the format of a letter to the innkeeper of the B and B, which serves as the present-day setting for a story filled with flashbacks and introspection.

Miller has chosen to self-publish his newest book after being to remove mentions of his religious faith by agents and publishers who felt that God was “not marketable.” Miller refused and is instead, taking his book directly to the public on the crowdfunding side, Kickstarter. The campaign page for Dear Billie can be reached with this link- https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dearbillie/book-dear-billie-salvation-in-the-poconos

Miller is rated 100% disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs and has spent over two decades struggling with Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, GAD, PTSD, and Depression. Miller gained notoriety in the late 2000s as the creator of an international campaign called “Donate My Weight,” which raised food and monetary donations for food backs around the world and ultimately helped to feed millions of hungry men, women, and children across America.

“My story is one of perseverance and triumph, in the face of constant mental anguish and struggling. I went from putting the barrel of a pistol in my mouth at the lowest point in my life, to finding purpose again, becoming a loving husband and father to five great kids. There will always be aspects to our lives we can’t change. We must either accept them and move forward or allow ourselves to become mired in the pain and remain living in the past.”

Blogger's Note - This news release was supplied by the author. I know Ben, and though he and I differ on many subjects, I consider him a man of personal integrity and am only too happy (and a little jealous) that he is publishing his second book.

Weekly LV Police Blotter - Police Nab Starman

Below is a weekly LV police blotter. If I missed something, please provide a link. If you have a comment that contributes, please share. But I remind you that this thread is not the place for pious condemnations.Below is a weekly LV police blotter. If I missed something, please provide a link. If you have a comment that contributes, please share. But I remind you that this thread is not the place for pious condemnations.

Moore Tp Police  and  Colonial Regional Police credit Lehigh and Northampton County Auto Theft Task Force for helping identify star-tattooed man who was breaking into vehicles in both townships. He admitted the break ins to investigators and has the matching tattoo from the photo that was previously shared on Facebook. Starman is Matthew Schaffer, 33, of Allentown. He is currently in Lehigh County Prison after being stopped by the Lehigh/Northampton County Auto Theft Task Force for operating a stolen vehicle on September 13.

Bethlehem Police have arrested Angelo Melendez, 18, of 6th St, and a 15 year-old juvenile for the September 12 armed robbery of Ike’s Shell Station at 1310 Center Street. No one was injured in the robbery. The 15 year old juvenile male is being charged as an adult. Both suspects were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Antonia Grifo. Melendez’s bail was set at $60,000.00 and the 15 year old juvenile’s bail was set at $50,000.00. Both were committed to Northampton County Prison in lieu of bail.

Any individual who has any type of information on these two suspects and the Ike’s Shell Station robbery or the Bethlehem Star Dry Cleaner Shop robbery on September 7, 2018 or who may have seen these suspects fleeing either robbery scene is asked to contact Det. Sgt. Tim Cooper at Bethlehem Police Detectives at 610-865-7187.

Lower Saucon Police investigate September 13 vehicle break-in and theft at Polk Valley Park. Victim reported someone shattered car's passenger side window of their vehicle and stole a purse from front passenger side seat. Suspect is white male, approximately 6', heavy set, middle aged wearing shorts and a grey t-shirt. He drives charcoal grey four door compact sedan at a high rate of speed leaving the park. Anyone with additional information is asked to call Lower Saucon Township Police ((610) 317-6110) or leave a tip. Police caution, "DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN PLAIN VIEW IN YOUR VEHICLE NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU BELIEVE IT WON'T HAPPEN TO YOU."

Upper Macungie Police warn residents of scam in which they are being solicited for donations to the Township. "Upper Macungie Township is not soliciting donations from residents. If you or a family member receives a phone call similar to this, please contact the UMTPD at 484-661-5911 and make a police report. Please advise the officer of the date and time of the call received, as well as the phone number (the number displayed by your caller ID)."

Whitehall police report a Lehigh County Regional DUI Task Force sobriety checkpoint on MacArthur Rd between Mickley Rd and Jordan Parkway from Sep 7, 11 pm until Sep 8, 3 am. In those four hours, citations were issued as follows: DUI Alcohol- 6; DUI Controlled Substance - 5; DUI Underage - 1; Possession of Controlled Substance - 4; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia - 4; Operating with suspended license - 2; Operating without a license - 2; Learners permit violation - 1; and Open Container in vehicle - 1.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

RCN Internet Outage on East Coast

Those of us in the Lehigh Valley have been spared some of the serious flooding that’s come with Hurricane Florence. But we have a problem that’s a little less dramatic. An Internet outage.  RCN customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest have had no Internet service for most of the day. I have no idea whether it is related in some way to the storm.

Unlike most people, the only service I have is Internet service. When I called about the disruption, I learned that I have been paying $110 per month for service for the past few months and never knew it. I thought I was paying about $60. 

I gave the guy hell and he came up with a new plan he said would only be $60. But he also declined to send me a confirmatory email. Then I went and checked my account and learned I am being charged $81. 

I know other ISPs are cheaper, like SECTV.

What is your experience with Internet coverage? How much do you pay? What is the customer service like? Is the coverage consistent?

I am very unhappy with the way RCN responded to my protests concerning price, although it’s partly my fault for automatic payments I never review.