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Two prominent residents remembered

Sept. 13 proved to be an emotional evening as Lehigh County Commissioners paid homage to two key figures of the community who recently died: John Kalynych and Jim Kelly.

Holding back tears, Chair Geoff Brace spoke of Kalynych’s legacy and “the many hats he wore.”

“John consistently demonstrated his ability, knowledge, talent and teamwork while promoting safety,” Brace said.

Before asking for a moment of silence, Brace added, “John has the respect of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, Lehigh County Emergency Agency, 911 Center Communication staff, as well as the entire Lehigh County First Responder community. And John will lovingly be remembered by his peers, family and friends.”

Former Lehigh County Commissioner and The Morning Call reporter Jim Kelly was also remembered.

Commissioner Dan Hartzell spoke to Kelly’s years at The Morning Call, making the point, “he may be the only one (editor) you never heard an ill word spoken of.”

Hartzell said Kelly made those hard decisions, rewriting, giving out tough assignments but his writers respected him for his integrity.

Former Commissioner Marc Grammes spoke of his former board colleague.

“He always cared about others,” an emotional Grammes said.

“I lost not only a friend, I lost a mentor. And Lehigh County lost one of its most effective commissioners. If not, the most effective commissioner,” Grames continued.

A moment of silence for Kelly followed.

At the previous meeting, commissioners heard testimonies of individuals affected by alleged medical misdiagnoses. Many spoke of their experiences with employees of Child and Youth Services.

Brace explained to his colleagues checking with legal services for clarifications on the mandate of Child and Youth Services and the role of the board in that respect.

Reading an email to the employees of the Child and Youth Services, on behalf of the board, Brace told them, “Through your work, the county fulfills its legal and moral obligations to protect children, strengthen families.”

Operation Green Light will take place Nov. 6-11. Operation Green Light shows support for veterans by lighting buildings green Nov. 6-12. By shining a green light, county governments and residents let veterans know they are seen, appreciated and supported.

September is Suicide Awareness Month and Sept. 10 was Suicide Awareness Day. County Coroner Daniel Buglio addressed the board, highlighting the hard facts of an issue which still has much stigma in society.

According to Buglio, as of Sept. 13, his office has investigated 34 suicides in the county thus far for 2023.

“Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. It’s the second cause of death in the world for those aged between 15 and 24 years old. On average, one person commits suicide every 11 minutes. Two-thirds of those who commit suicide suffer from depression,” Buglio said.

Commissioner Zach Cole-Borghi, who has been personally affected by suicide, spoke to the issue, saying “it costs zero dollars to be nice to somebody. You never know what somebody is dealing with or what somebody is going through.

“So, if you have a chance to treat somebody with kindness and compassion, even though you can see they are going through a rough time, you never know what that will do to them to do this.”

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO John Kalynych's family receives a proclamation from Lehigh County Commissioners honoring his work and legacy.