An undisclosed number of workers at Walmart’s distribution center on Commerce Center Blvd. in south Bethlehem have been told they have 90 days to find new jobs at other company locations. Walmart told workers they will have the option to transfer to another warehouse, to a store or leave the company and that the company will pay them for up to 90 days during that time. The layoffs come as Walmart continues to utilize robotics and automation to help speed deliveries and cut the number of steps taken by employees to process orders.
A 32-year-old Bethlehem man has died several days after a crash. Joseph Rodriguez died Wednesday night at St. Luke's University Hospital in Bethlehem, four days after being losing control of his vehicle, leaving the roadway and striking several trees in the area of Route 412 and Commerce Center Boulevard in Bethlehem.
A local candidate for district attorney agrees with Gov. Josh Shapiro's decision to not sign any death warrants while in office and his call for the state to do away with the death penalty entirely. In a statement, Northampton County DA candidate and ex-judge Stephen Baratta says, "Given the inequalities and disparities that plague our justice system, a death sentence causes grave concern to many in our community." Baratta also criticizes current DA Terry Houck for supporting the death penalty and for what Baratta says is his use of the threat of a death sentence as a cruel political weapon to appear to be tough on crime.
A group says the local population is going to expand quite a bit over the next 25 years or so. The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission projects that the Lehigh Valley will have a population of 786,751 by 2050, an increase of 100,000 from now. LVPC says the Lehigh Valley's location and quality of life will continue drawing people and jobs and that many of those new residents will end up living in apartments.
Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong says the state of Lehigh County "is damn good." In his State of Lehigh County Address Thursday, he praised local leaders and government workers for preserving the area's quality of life. Armstrong credited COVID funds for improving the lives of residents, announced a proposal for 150-dollar tax rebate for volunteer firefighters, talked about preserving farmland and finishing long-overdue upgrades at the county-owned nursing home. He also touted the efforts of Lehigh County leaders to make sure the IronPigs baseball team stayed in the area.
Bethlehem Police Chief Michelle Kott says the city will be using money from a federal grant to improve camera surveillance. Bethlehem received 200-thousand-dollars from the Gun Violence Investigation and Prosecution Grant Program, which was signed into law last year using American Rescue Plan Act funds. She says the upgrades will be made to areas where gun-related crimes are reported. Kott says the new cameras are needed because some of the current ones are too outdated to work with the city's updated surveillance network.
Children in the Lehigh Valley have a chance to see a dentist for free this weekend. The "Give Kids a Smile" event will take place rom 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 25th. The event is taking place at the Neighborhood Health Centers on Northampton Street in Easton. The free dental clinic is offered for kids ages one through 17 and offers cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatments. No insurance is needed, but an appointment is recommended.
The Crossing Premium Outlets in Tannersville is now called Pocono Premium Outlets. That's far from the only change coming though. "We will be touching every square foot of the building's facade. Refreshing, refinishing, repairing the facade and creating a more contemporary color palette for the property," says Peter Poruczynski, of Simon Property Group. He says the outlets will remain open to customers throughout the renovation, which is set to begin next month and will be completed in late fall.
A Carbon County man will undergo medical and psychological treatment following a police standoff. The incident happened yesterday morning at the Saint Matthew's Cemetery located along Quakake Road in Packer Township. Police responded to a call about an armed man wanting to harm himself. Police say the man did shoot himself in the abdomen before they were able to detain him and transport him to the Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Hazleton.
The Shapiro administration says the governor did not violate his own gift ban when he and top staff went to Arizona for the Super Bowl courtesy of a nonprofit that has received millions of dollars in state money. Under a policy instituted last month, Gov. Josh Shapiro and executive branch employees are not allowed to accept tickets to recreational events such as football games. However, a Shapiro spokesman says the tickets paid for by Team Pennsylvania, didn't violate that rule because that organization is "completely incomparable to a private sector." Team Pennsylvania, which describes itself as a public-private partnership that works to improve the state's economic prosperity, paid for Shapiro and his staff's transportation, lodging and tickets to the game. Its president says her organization isn't covered by the gift ban because it does not recommend policy.
Loved ones will gather today to remember the life of Christopher Fitzgerald. He's the Temple University officer who was shot to death last weekend while trying to arrest a robbery suspect. Today's services will begin at 11:30 at The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter-and-Paul on Race Street. People are welcomed to come as early as 8 o'clock for the viewing. Fitzgerald will be buried at the Forest Hills Cemetery. Temple University is continuing to provide support to the family of Officer Christopher Fitzgerald. The community has been raising money since the date of his tragic death. More than 450-thousand-dollars have been collected to help cover the costs of his funeral today. You can contribute by visiting the university's social media account.
Two Pennsylvania lawmakers want to make sure small farmers and agricultural ventures get in on the growing medical cannabis business. A new proposed measure would establish a permit that would allow small farmers and other agricultural businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis on a limited basis. It's sponsored by Representatives Melissa Shusterman and Ismail Smith-Wade-El. The legislators say farmers and smaller companies are restricted from sharing in the nearly two-billion-dollars generated by the industry to date. The lawmakers say because of the restrictions, state residents have been denied more affordable options for using medical marijuana.
New Jersey is considering whether to grant students excused mental health days. The state's Education Committee is meeting today to talk about a bill that would allow these kinds of absences with the intention of bolstering student mental health. If approved, public schools would be required to grant students five excused absences for mental health or behavioral reasons. After two mental health days, a student can also receive further guidance from appropriate school staff. At least a dozen other states have passed similar measures.
New Jersey is working to modify longstanding laws and expand access to liquor licenses. Gov. Phil Murphy held a hearing in Clinton to outline a slew of changes, which would gradually phase out the ratio of liquor licenses to the population without impacting local oversight. New measures would also make liquor licenses more affordable, allow breweries or wineries to serve food, and require unused licenses to be returned to municipalities. Murphy says new rules could bring 10,000 jobs annually and generate $1 billion in tax revenue.
There's a new report on recent whale deaths along the Jersey Shore. The federal agency, The Marine Mammal Commission, says the deaths have not been caused by offshore wind farms, but it's part of an unusual Humpback mortality event that started back in 2016. Governor Murphy agrees. Since December 1st, at least 23 whales have washed up on the Atlantic Coast, including Queens and Long Island. The report comes the same day that 30 New Jersey mayors called for a moratorium on offshore wind farms until there's more information.