Catasauqua Press

Thursday, October 19, 2017

County board doles out casino host funds

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Local News

Lehigh County Commissioners had a second reading of the $133,755,495 Lehigh County Capital Plan for 2018-22 and then passed several motions to amend the bill at their July 12 meeting. The capital plan is a policy statement only and is not a budget or an appropriation of funds. A vote on the capital plan will be held at the July 26 meeting.

“The capital plan kind of kicks off the budget season,” said Commissioner Michael Schware in an interview.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument at the intersection of Hamilton and Seventh streets in Allentown will get a granite base and marker with a $9,500 grant awarded by the commissioners to the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council.

Lehigh County police departments will get some new equipment and new training from other funds allocated by the commissioners from the Lehigh Gaming Grant Program.

Coopersburg will get $37,237 for an equipped police cruiser and $5,470.50 for a car-mounted license plate reader.

Upper Macungie Township will get $42,707.50 for two license plate readers.

Fountain Hill police will get $106,084 for a patrol vehicle, for training and outfitting three part-time officers, some imaging face masks, four sets of self-contained breathing apparatus and four sets of turnout gear.

Salisbury police will get $118,363 to support 325 hours of additional police patrols, a patrol vehicle, an LED speed sign, two mobile data terminals and car camera systems and other equipment.

Disbursal of the funds is contingent upon the execution of grant agreements. The money was generated by the Sands casino in South Bethlehem for neighboring communities impacted by the casino.

In other business, the commissioners approved a waiver to the regular bidding process to resolve unspecified issues with the HVAC equipment at the new coroner’s facility in Cetronia, North Whitehall Township. The problems with the HVAC system have held up the permanent certificate of occupancy.

The construction manager for the medico-legal center, Boyle Construction Inc., has agreed, according to explanations in Bill 2017-19, to “provide the necessary construction management and minor carpentry at no charge.” Boyle got quotes for the work from vendors. The Department of General Services wants to expedite the project by using those vendors “rather than putting the jobs out for bid, which will take several months,” according to text in the bill. The approved bill did not include a monetary figure.

Also, Commissioner Geoff Brace announced that homelessness among Lehigh County veterans is now at a “functional zero,” meaning that for at least one day, there were no homeless veterans in Lehigh County. Brace credited the work of the staff of Veteran Affairs Office of Lehigh County, headed by Director Thomas Applebach, and the Lehigh Valley Homeless Veteran Task Force for this accomplishment.

Brace said the commissioners had endorsed a plan brought to them by the task force, which has “essentially eliminated homelessness among veterans in Lehigh Valley.” He said the effort had been initiated by President Barrack Obama’s administration through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.