ANYONE ENTERING THE COURTHOUSE TO ATTEND A COUNTY COUNCIL MEETING WILL BE SUBJECT TO A TEMPERATURE CHECK, BE REQURED TO WEAR A MASK,  AND ADHERE TO SOCIAL DISTANCING.

***************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

On Friday, October 23, 2020, several Council Members along with other local luminaries were on hand for the dedication and ribbon cutting of the new Forensic Center. Approved in November of 2018, ground breaking was in September of 2019, and the project is now complete at a cost of $11 million (which is under budget). The new Center will allow our Coroner ample facilities rather than have he and his staff travel to local hospitals to conduct their important work. The new facility includes autopsy rooms with viewing areas for law enforcement as well as medical students, a digital forensic lab, and offices for the staff. Significantly, it now includes a private reception room for family members to meet to view their loved ones. The roof is outfitted with solar panels. The project was only delayed a few days during the pandemic, until construction could be reviewed and allowed to continue.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the October 15, 2020 meeting, County Council Introduced two ordinances, one regarding a donation of land, the other about a land purchase. In the former, Ned and Linda Heindel generously agreed to donate 76.76 acres of land to be preserved as Hexenkopf Ridge Preserve under the Northampton County Parks and Recreation department. This gift includes land containing the famous "Hexenkopf Hill," known the world around for its mysterious nature and appearance. Embedded with flakes of mica, the rock mirrors the glow of the moon, causing it to appear otherworldly. The rock risesup is on an outcropping of South Mountain, and the surrounding parcels will now be preserved for generations to come. Council additionally agreed to buy over 91 acres to preserve as farmland and open space. Both public hearings will occur at the November 5, 2020 meeting. Additionally, Council voted to allow the land acquisition for the larger parcel to move forward without added appraisals on the land; allowed a request from Williams Township to accept their withdrawal from the Nehoda Conservation Easement; and approved the court-ordered 2021 Court Cost fee schedule. Additionally, the Council approved the consideration of a General Purpose Authority/Lehigh Valley Health Network agreement; accepted donations of cash for Gracedale Christmas presents and apples for Gracedale Employees, as well as riparian buffer trees from the Penn State Extension and Monocacy Creek Watershed Association; and approved Article XIII Administrative Code Contracts from Vision Technologies (new software interface for virtual meetings), Grace Industries (Phase II Nor-Bath Trail), and Reinvestment Fund (employee health benefits).

Council will meet next on November 5, 2020. The next Budget Hearings are on October 21 (Court Systems, Court Administration, Corrections) and October 28 (Human Services and DCED), both of which will start at 4:30 p.m. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the October 1, 2020 meeting, County Council untabled the ordinance related to easements over Louise Moore Park. Council voted to repeal the original ordinance granting that access, in order to control any construction or damage to the park. Council also considered another round of COVID-19 relief grants, this time a second round to municipalities, funding to assist with eviction mediation, to higher education institutions in the County, and to more small businesses. All of the grant recipients had to demonstrate need and a connection to losses from the pandemic to the County and our Department of Community and Economic Development. Additionally, hazard pay has been reintroduced for our front line medical personnel. Council continues to support our local businesses and community groups, and will continue to move to expediently give the assistance that is so desperately needed right now.

Council will meet next on October 15, 2020 for the regular meeting. The first Budget Hearing will be on October 7, 2020 at 4:30 p.m.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the September 17, 2020 meeting, County Council held public hearings and adopted two ordinances dealing with property leases for Magisterial Districts in Wind Gap and Bethlehem. Council also approved temporary workers to assist the elections office, who are readying for an unprecedented desire for voting by mail or in person prior to election day. Council also accepted a gift from CONCEPTSAD of three custom logo facemasks per employee in the Department of Corrections. After receiving prior presentations and discussing the use of CARES Act fund to help the community recover from the pandemic, County Council voted unanimously to approve funding to the Small Business Development Center at Lehigh University, the Entrepreneurship Program with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and a risk management and business recovery awareness training through Northampton Community College. All of these grants will go further to help small businesses in the County make it through these difficult times, and also to plan now for unforseen events, such as a second wave of COVID-19.  Council also voted to utilize grant money from the CARES Act to offset the costs incurred while the County paid Hazard Pay to the employees on the front lines, who worked every day knowing they would be potentially exposed to this deadly virus. It will also help recoup expenses incurred by Information Services, who within a matter of days had set up hundreds of workers in at-home settings to help slow the growth of the pandemic in the spring. Finally, Council heard from BSI Corporate Partners, who broker health care services, and were able to go into deep detail on their bargaining process and how they bring the best possible value to the County in our health care plans.

Council will meet again on October 1, 2020.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the September 3, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council adopted three ordinances and tabled a fourth. The first ordinance was an amendment to Ordinance 648-2018, dealing with the procedures and requirements for contractors and subcontractors in order to ensure the County's contractors and subcontractors are reliable to provide the best service and product. The second was a budget amendment. The third approved the lease with Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, in order to ensure Minsi Lake is freely accessible for residents of Northampton County for decades to come. The ordinance to repeal Ordinance 617-2017 was tabled. Two ordinances were introduced, each dealing with a lease of real property on behalf of District Magistrates, one in Wind Gap and one in Bethlehem. A discussion was held regarding Northampton County Council's desire to make a firm statement that discrimination in any form is not tolerated, and a resolution was passed reflecting the official policy of the County and County Council, that the human rights and equal rights due to all in the County are respected and inviolate. Further Resolutions were passed, both dealing with CARES Act (dealing with negative impact of COVID-19) grant money; one for the distribution of grants to municipalities, and a second round of grants for small businesses in the County. 

Council will meet again on September 17, 2020.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the August 20, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council adopted two ordinances. One would put a question on the May 2021 primary ballot adding language to the Job Discrimination section of the Home Rule Charter to be aligned with recent Supreme Court decisions. The other focused on a land taking in an Agricultural Conservation Easement. Counicl introduced four ordinances for public hearing to be held on September 3, 2020. Those ordinances include a budget amendment, extending the lease with PA Fish and Boat Commission for Minsi Lake, repealing ordinance 617-2017 (dealing with the conveyance of easements for use of Easton Suburban Water Authority), and the amendment of ordinance 648-2018 (procedures related to solicitation and award of public contracts). Additionally, Council passed resolutions regarding additional caseworkers and staff for Children Youth and Families; waived the appraisal for the Minsi Lake lease; updated the Coroner's fee schedule; passed a resoluition aimed at forming an advisory board to study ways to combat the difficulties of living with karst geology, such as sinkholes and creek dewatering; and a resolution paving the way for the Area Agency on Aging to accept donated meals for seniors.

Council will meet again on September 3, 2020 at 6:30pm.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the July 16, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council introduced two ordinances. One would amend the Home Rule Charter to change the title of Council Member to Commissioner; the other covered a Budget Amendment to allow the County to receive and utilize the grant opportunities offered in response to COVID-19. Additionally, grant money was approved to extend broadband and wireless access for students at all County School Districts, as well as to aid seniors and veterans. Council also voted to provide grant money to sustain a continuing COVID-19 testing site for all Northampton County residents with symptoms, as well as to fund aggressive testing to ensure COVID-19 is kept out of Northampton County Prison. Council made another financial decision to accept additional grant money, working with HUD in order to assist with housing needs of the thousands of County residents impacted by COVID-19. Another resolution allowed the County to obtain grant money in order to remediate the Glendon Hotel property. Seven different Livable Landscape projects were given funds that will be matched to conserve land, construct parks, and improve trails and parks throughout Northampton County, including Albert Ponds in Bushkill Township, the Two Rivers Trailway Trail in the City of Easton, Dimmick Park in Hellertown, Surrey Glen Park in Lower Nazareth Township, the D&L Trail in Northampton and North Catasaqua, and Penn Pump Park in Palmer Township.

Council will meet again on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the July 2, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council voted to adopt an ordinance to correct a line item in the Amended Budget. Additionally, an ordinance was introduced to edit the Home Rule Charter, Section 807, regarding job discrimination. Additionally, a resolution reaffirming the County's dedication to equality and equal rights was passed. Grants from the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant were awarded to multiple bi-county organizations, including Discover Lehigh Valley ($500,000), Lehigh and Northampton Airport Authority ($250,000), ArtsQuest ($500,000), Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation ($175,000) and the State Theatre ($100,000). Council will select three members to serve on a committee, to work with the Department of Fiscal Affairs and the Department of Economic Development, among others, to ensure the remainder of CARES Act funding is properly distributed in a timely manner.

Council will meet again on July 16, 2020, to hold a public hearing on the introduced ordinance, as well as any other business pending.

                                               _______________________________________________________________________________________

At the June 18, 2020 meeting, Northampton County Council introduced an ordinance to correct a line item in the Amended Budget. They approved appointments to the Children, Youth and Families Advisory Board, the Farmland Preservation Board, the Industrial Development Authority, the Mental Health, Early Intervention and Developmental Programs Advisory Board, and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley. Two resolutions were unanimously passed to seek and secure funding in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Resolution 50--2020 to apply for rent relief programs under the CARES Act, and 51-2020, to seek funding through the COVID-19 Relief County Relief Block Grant. Council further approved additions to Article XIII contract applicants working to finish the Forensic Center, and to begin work on the Minsi Lake Corridor Greenway Stewardship Plan.

Council will meet again on July 2, 2020, to hold a public hearing on the introduced ordinance, as well as any other business pending.

           ________________________________________________________________________

Notice is hereby given that the following Northampton County Council Committees will be meeting in the County Council meeting room, room No. 3116, third floor, Northampton County Government Center, 669 Washington Street, Easton, PA, on the dates and times indicated below:

          ~~  On June 4, 2020, commencing at 3:30 p.m., the Human Services Committee will convene a meeting to receive a report from the Director of Human Services, as well as to consider any other pending business. 

         ~~    On June 4, 2020, commencing at 5:00 p.m., the Governance Committee will convene a meeting to discuss the Declaration of Disaster Emergency, as well as to consider any other pending business. 

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************