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County exec urges census support

Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong, in his version of the former county Government on the Go program, attended the Catasauqua Borough Council meeting Feb. 3.

The Government on the Go program was a Lehigh County Board of Commissioners initiative a decade ago. Over time, the commissioners would hold meetings at Lehigh County municipal buildings. Armstrong said he tries to attend every local municipality’s council or supervisors meetings during a year.

Addressing council, Armstrong urged members to engage in the census.

“We lose over $2,000-plus per resident not counted in Lehigh County,” Armstrong said.

What is needed is a local effort urging residents to complete the census postcard that will be mailed to each resident’s home in March. An accurate count is the goal. Residents who complete the postcard will not get a visit from a census worker at their home.

Armstrong also relayed the new voting law passed recently in Harrisburg allows for voting by mail. It is not an absentee ballot. It is the voter’s choice. The expectation is 30 to 40 percent of the ballots in the 2020 elections may be cast by mail.

Councilman Brian McKittrick asked Armstrong about the $5 fee the county considered adding to car registrations to raise money for road and bridge repair. Armstrong explained the idea was abandoned after the state vacated the incentive dollars planned to contribute toward the fund.

Representatives of Catasauqua Main Streets, the borough’s business owners association, and Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce announced a partnership between the two groups to further business development in the municipalities.

Mayor Barbara Schlegel thanked the George Taylor House Committee members present at the meeting for their dedication and hard work to improve the historic mansion. Progress is being made organizationally. The process to attain a 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit is yet to be completed.

In borough Manager Steven Travers’ report, he requested council approve the website redesign using the Word Press program at a cost of $7,000. The redesign was approved by council.

Borough Treasurer Sandra Gyeseck recommended an auditing firm to complete the 2019 borough audit. The recommended firm was approved unanimously.

Brent Shriver, engineer, said the Front Street project is moving forward. Council members expressed frustration about the slow progress of Pennsylvania Department of Transportation completing the Race Street project.

Councilman Paul Cmil asked if it was possible to have a PennDOT representative attend a council meeting to explain why the project is taking so long to complete. Travers said he could ask PennDOT to attend but was unsure if someone would.

McKittrick moved to purchase a $1,000,000-plus ladder firetruck. After much discussion, the firetruck purchase motion passed unanimously.

Shawn O’Boyle was nominated, approved and sworn in by Schlegel as a new member of the borough’s Civil Service Commission.

Travers noted an Eagle Scout approached council wanting to complete a project restoring the garden at the George Taylor House. The Scout plans to submit the project to the Scout leaders to gain permission to move forward. The last time the spacious vegetable garden plot was refurbished was in the 1960s.

Councilwoman Debra Mellish moved to allow Taylor House Brewing Company, 76 Lehigh St., to partner with the George Taylor House Committee to hold an event titled Women in Industry. The event is planned for 2-10 p.m. April 25 on the George Taylor House grounds. The motion passed unanimously.

Council President Vincent Smith requested a policy be developed to better manage a Facebook page for the borough. The borough solicitor suggested the policy is needed to minimize potential legal and other issues. The General Government Committee, chaired by Councilman Cameron Smith, was asked by Vincent Smith to develop a Facebook policy.

Press photo by Bill Leiner Jr.Catasauqua Borough Mayor Barbara Schlegel swears in Shawn O'Boyle, who was named to the borough's Civil Service Commission, during the Feb. 3 council meeting.