Driver in 4-car crash at Rt. 309 may have had medical issue

South Whitehall police say the driver may have suffered a medical emergency, leading to the crash.

South Whitehall Township police say a medical issue may have led a woman to cra…

Brown to Seek Re-Election in NorCo

Calling himself a “proven reformer,” and claiming to have eliminated all deficit spending, Executive John Brown has released a statement indicating he plans to seek re-election in Northampton County. “Working together we have overcome deep financial challenges and I am excited about the positive results accomplished over the past three years,” Brown said. “While we have made great strides, I know our county can do even better. I will work to continue what we started by seeking to strengthen, bolster and reform our county’s services to ensure they are both more effective and cost efficient.” He also claims to have tripled the County’s reserves.

He takes credit for making Gracedale, the county nursing home, profitable once again. It has gone from a $6.7 million taxpayer operating loss to profitability. A month ago, he reported that the facility made a $800,000 profit in 2016. Two weeks ago, he trimmed that down to $200,000.

He also takes credit for improving the quality of care there, noting there have been no deficiencies at the facility found by the PA Department of Health over the past two years. He claims the facility is now rated by Medicare as a four-star nursing home.

In addition, he claims he is doing something about the county’s infrastructure. He is spending $37 million over the next five years on a PennDOT endorsed bridge bundling project that will repair and replace thirty-three (33) of the county’s bridges over the next four years. He said this will save taxpayers 20%-30%.

As for his claim to have eliminated all deficit spending, that’s simply untrue. His most recent budget dipped into reserves to the tune of about $8.2 million to balance the budget. That’s called deficit spending, and it ultimately leads to tax hikes.

As far as returning Gracedale to profitability, he went from a $800,000 profit to a $200,000 profit in the span of two weeks. And he himself acknowledged that the main reason for this reversal was the injection of $2.4 million of federal funds into the facility under a revived program that allows public nursing homes to pool their money and seek matching grants. Without it, Gracedale would be operating at a loss.

Also his claim that Gracedale is now a four-star facility is also untrue. According To Medicare, Gracedale is a three-star facility. And when it comes to “quality measures,” which measures how well the nursing home is doing in caring for resident needs, the nursing home gets just one star, which is “much below average.” In fact, this is one reason why Peter Melan decided to run for NorCo Council.

Brown’s claim about the absence of deficiencies at Gracedale is also untrue. In September, the nursing was cited for failing to act properly when a resident threatened suicide, which resulted in a suicide attempt.

In essence, it appears that his re-election announcement, which he failed to deliver in person to a group that might have questions, is replete with misinformation.

You’ll notice no claim to transparency. This is a guy who posted armed guards outside his office during a news conference,and who crated a new county website that advertised Lehigh County businesses.

Brown graduated from Bangor High School and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife, Tina, live in Northampton County and have a son, Zachary. He fails to describe where he worked in the private sector.

Brown is opposed in this race by Bethlehem Attorney Lamont McClure, who served on NorCo Council for ten years. He issued a statement of his own. “The Brown Admin. is itself a prime example of waste, fraud and abuse. Instead of fighting it, John Brown practiced corruption, cronyism and callousness. Brown’s illegal budgets, misuse of taxpayer money for political purpose and unlawful taking of meals and mileage reimbursement to which he and Ms. Allen were not entitled, is the sad legacy of the Brown Admin.”

John Brown wants to stay on as Northampton Co. executive

The Bangor resident announced he will seeking re-election as the county’s top government official this year.

Northampton County Executive John Brown is running for re-election.

Brown, a Republican who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Pennsylvania auditor general in 2016, ended any speculation about his future in county government Thursday when he announced he would seek a second term.

“Serving as Northampton County executive is a tremendous honor,” he said in a prepared statement. “Working together we have overcome deep financial challenges and I am excited about the positive results accomplished over the past three years.

“While we have made great strides, I know our county can do even better. I will work to continue what we started by seeking to strengthen, bolster and reform our county’s services to ensure they are both more effective and cost efficient.”

Brown is a former Bangor mayor and graduate of Bangor Area High School and Notre Dame University.

The primary election is May 16. Four years ago, he defeated former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, a Democrat, to win the county office.

He was the first Republican elected county executive since 1997.

13 U.S. places named like these Lehigh Valley towns

Brown said he has cut the county budget by $40 million and cut spending at Gracedale, the county nursing home.

Under his leadership, Brown said, Gracedale’s $6.7 million taxpayer-funded operating loss was erased and the facility in Upper Nazareth Township was returned to profitability while improving care.

It has had “zero deficiencies” over the past two years in Pennsylvania Department of Health surveys and earned a four-star rating for the first time, according to his statement.

He also touted the county’s plan to repair and replace 33 bridges over the next four years in a public-private partnership endorsed by the Pennsylvania Department off Transportation as one of the few of its kind.

Brown pledged to “protect taxpayers by aggressively eliminating waster, fraud and abuse in government.” the news release said, citing his “financial and business experience.”

He launched a bid for state office but was defeated last November in the general election by Democratic incumbent Eugene DePasquale.

Brown and wife Tina have a son, Zachary.

He is the first Republican to announce a bid for the county’s top elected office.

In January, former county councilman Lamont McClure, an attorney from Bethlehem Township, announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for county executive in the May primary.

Jim Deegan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jim_deegan. Find lehighvalleylive on Facebook.

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UPDATE: No one hurt, but 4 displaced after Phillipsburg fire

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Watch video

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Two Arrested After Meth Lab Bust in Pittston

PITTSTON — Police busted two people for making drugs in Luzerne County. Officers arrested Nicholas Space, 23, and Samantha Shaw, 21, at an apartment on Main Street in Pittston Wednesday afternoon. Investigators say they found large amounts of drug making materials at that apartment. Both are locked up on charges they were making methamphetamine in Luzerne County.

Cedar Beach Pool GC Worked on Four Pools Simultaneously in 2016

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NorCo: Personnel Appeals Board Back in Action

One of the biggest drawbacks to being a NorCo career service employee (nonunion) is that it takes forever to have a grievance heard. As I’ve documented here, hearings are scheduled and then re-scheduled ad infinitum in what really amounts to a denial …