Northampton County Council took action this week to expand broadband access in the county. The council designated part of a COVID-19 relief grant to help school districts, nursing homes, seniors and veterans with their WiFi and equipment needs. The county received more than $27 million of CARES Act money from the state, and will devote $825,000 to expand broadband access. The lion’s share will go to schools districts, to help them with virtual classes. $175,000 will be used to buy WiFi and equipment for underserved senior citizens and veterans.
The city of Bethlehem’s health bureau and the Boys & Girls Club of Bethlehem have set up a safe summer recreation program for kids. The Fun and Fitness program runs from 10 a.m. to noon Monday at Clearview Park and switches to L.G. Stewart, Yosko and Elmwood parks during the week. City employees remind kids to keep a safe distance from each other. “We need to get kids physically active. We don’t want them socially isolated,” said Sherri Penchishen, the health bureau’s director of chronic disease programs. The free program is open to all ages; children 9 and under must be accompanied by someone 14 or older from their household. Participants must register at the city Recreation Bureau’s webpage.
Five Easton Area High Schools students made a splash at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Experience. Among those who competed in the online event were Makenna Swartz, Dan Simboli and Adil Ansari, who took first place in mobile app development in the FBLA National Awards Program. It was the second straight year an Easton team won the mobile app category. Karolina Kotlarz placed second in the database design and application category. Justin Tran took seventh in computer applications.
Preservationists working to save the historic Meadows Road Bridge in Lower Saucon Township were elated when state officials accepted its nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The state Historic Preservation Board approved the recommendation in June and sent it to the National Park Service. The 168-year-old, four-arch stone bridge on the Saucon Creek had been scheduled for replacement by Northampton County, which owns it. The National Register designation doesn’t prevent the owner from demolishing it, but backers are hoping it will rally public support for its preservation.
Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, a transgendered woman, has had to endure hate messages and ridicule as she has guided the state’s efforts to contain COVID-19. This week Gov. Tom Wolf came to her defense when a mocking transphobic image showed up on the Facebook page of the Bloomsburg Fair Association. Photos were posted of a man at a dunk tank wearing a dress and wig, impersonating Levine at a fundraiser at the fair. “Dr. Levine? Thank you, you were a hit and raised a lot of money for the local fire companies. Wonder why so many were trying to dunk you,” said the Fair Association’s post. Wolf condemned “hate and transphobia” that has been directed at Levine. The Fair Association removed the post and apologized, calling it “a serious lapse in judgment.”