|Human Services Building|
At 2 pm yesterday, Northampton County became the owner of its Human Services building, located at 2801 Emrick Boulevard in Bethlehem Township. The county had been leasing the building for $1.05 million per year.It was also paying $190,000 per year in taxes. It purchased the building for $14.5 million, exercising an option that became available this year. For years, former Executive John Stoffa had argued for a single centralized building for 80,000 clients who often need services from several departments. His vision has become reality.
Ironically, Stoffa was unable to see the realization of his dream yesterday. He's been sidelined by a disease affecting his mobility. Though absent, he was the first person who Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure thanked.
|From left to right: Ken Kraft, Jim Gentile, Lamont McClure, Ken Mohr and Tom Harp|
Before this acquisition, Human Services were split up at locations in Easton and Bethlehem. This meant that people who needed servoces from several departments would have to visit both locations.
Like everything else in Northampton County, this no-brainer was controversial. The Governor Wolf building,located in Easton, was plagued with all kinds of problems, including asbestos. Caseworkers complained that children who came for supervised visitation were exposed to lead-based paint and even guano. Stoffa was accused of just wanting a building named after him.
As you can see (above), the building is simply called Northampton County Human Services Building Ken Kraft joked it should be named after him. If I were King, the building would be named after Grace Packer, the little girl who was murdered by a former NorCo caseworker and her boyfriend. She is a reminder of how the system we set up to protect our most vulnerable people can end up hurting them.
|Closing, from left to right: Att'y Veronica DeAngelo Johnson,Att'y Michael Corriere, |
Jim Gentile, Lamont McClure and Council President Ron Heckman