Easton State Theatre's Shelly Brown was at Northampton County Council last night to thank them and numerous other public and private sponsors who have helped them stay afloat since the pandemic first hit. The facility has been closed since March. Brown is hopeful that shows can resume in June. She explained the theatre is essentially a "road house" for touring artists, who generally need months to prepare. She indicated it was necessary to furlough staff members, which for her was a first.
Council also heard from Easton resident Linda Smith, who lives near the jail on South 6th Street. She complained she received no notice when the county recently demolished two vacant homes for a parking lot near the jail. She expressed concern that the county is looking to expand.
Executive Lamont McClure responded that the jail is at half capacity and there are no plans to expand. He explained that no notifications are needed when no zoning changes are sought , but apologized and vowed to do a better job communicating with the jail's neighbors.
In his report, McClure noted that the county just acquired the land for its 20th park, and now has 3.451 acres in parks and open space. He indicated his focus is on parks acquisition, as opposed to develop. He reasons this is the best way the county can combat warehouse proliferation.
In other good news, he noted the county just received $9.1 million from the federal government to help struggling homeowners and tenants. In addition, it is distributing tablets to senior centers for 90-day loans.
In bad news, he noted there are now 477 Covid-related deaths in Northampton County. a"Our worst days are ahead of us," he predicts. His estimation is based on the 20.3% positivity rate at the county's testing center, compared to 3% when it first opened.
Hopefully, McClure is wrong. According to numbers cruncher Steve Thode,the 7-Day New COVID Case Rate in the Lehigh Valley has dropped to its lowest level since December 3. Moreover, after a slow sart, the number of people receiving vaccines is steadily increasing.