Palmerton, NL chamber officials compare notes
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Representatives from Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce and Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce who met Tuesday at Neff's Hotel OtherSide Restaurant in Neff's included (front row, l-r) Walter Niedermeyer, mayor, Slatington Borough; Janice Bortz, township administrator, Heidelberg Township; Jeff Bartlett, township manager, N. Whitehall Township; Rodger Danielson, borough manager, Palmerton Borough; (back row, l-r) Peter Kern, president, Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce; Matt Newhard, president, Walnutport Borough Council; Gerald Phillips, supervisor, Washington Township; and Kevin Schmidt, president, Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce.
The areas in which they live may differ, but many of the circumstances they face are of a similar nature.
A panel of officials from six municipalities came together on Tuesday to give an update on future projects in their respective communities.
The program was part of a joint luncheon between the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce and Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce held at Neffs Hotel OtherSide Restaurant in Neffs.
Officials from Palmerton, Slatington and Walnutport boroughs, along with Washington, Heidelberg and North Whitehall Townships participated in the municipal update to detail upcoming ventures.
Kevin Schmidt, president of the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, kicked off the program with a welcome to those in attendance.
Schmidt then introduced Peter Kern, president of the Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce, who thanked the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce for the invite.
Kern said the joint luncheon was a "great opportunity for our two chambers to get together."
Janice Bortz, township administrator, Heidelberg Township, was the first to speak.
Bortz said the township has maintained its same tax millage in each of the past two years.
She then explained exactly where the township is situated, and added that it remains pro-agriculture and open space.
"We're looking to keep the same kind of township we have," Bortz said. "But, we want to work on our zoning to bring in more businesses."
Jeff Bartlett, township manager, N. Whitehall Township, said a long-awaited traffic signal is set to be installed at Route 309 and Sand Spring Road.
Once that is in place, Bartlett said another traffic signal upgrade is scheduled for Route 309 by Lehigh Carbon Community College's Schnecksville campus.
Bartlett also spoke of a conditional use hearing regarding the proposed installation of a new sanitary sewer plant on land that would be subdivided from the KidsPeace campus to replace a privately owned facility used by KidsPeace that would allow other users to tap in.
In addition, Bartlett said a paving project is scheduled for Coffeetown Road, while the 29th annual Schnecksville Community Fair is scheduled to be held June 18-23 at the Schnecksville Fire Company.
Rodger Danielson, borough manager of Palmerton, discussed the status of the borough's new wastewater treatment plant, which he said continues to move along.
Danielson noted that while the borough did not qualify for any grants, it was able to lock in some favorable interest rates that allowed it to keep the user rates manageable.
At the end of this month, Danielson said a water line replacement project in the 200-300 blocks of Lehigh Avenue, as well as repaving work in the 200-400 blocks of Lehigh.
Danielson also mentioned that the borough is the home headquarters for Pencor Services Inc, which plans to build a new 3-story professional complex in the 400 block of Delaware Avenue.
"It's nice to see development in our town," Danielson said.
Additionally, Danielson said the borough will honor the Centennial Celebration of the borough on Oct. 14.
Finally, Danielson mentioned the veterans' memorial the Palmerton United Veteran's Organization and the borough plan to build in the borough park as a tribute to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to those who served to preserve our freedom. About $150,000 has been raised for the memorial to date, said Danielson, who added that a groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial will be held Aug. 11.
Walter Niedermeyer, mayor of Slatington, said a new borough councilman, John Rinker, has been appointed to fill a vacant seat on council.
Niedermeyer said a longtime secretary is scheduled to retire next month, which prompted the borough to hire a replacement.
Also of note, Niedermeyer said a new security system has been installed in the borough police department.
Niedermeyer also discussed work being done at the Trailhead, and added that the pool at Victory Park is in use.
Matt Newhard, president of Walnutport Borough Council, said two locks are set to be replaced at the Walnutport Canal that were damaged by Hurricane Irene.
Newhard said the borough was able to secure a Monroe County Gaming Funds, as well as funding from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to do the repairs.
A grant was also received by the borough to upgrade the bathrooms inside its municipal building, said Newhard.
On a dismal note, he said new playground equipment that was installed as part of the Walnutport Playground Improvements Project has been damaged by vandalism.
Newhard said a master plan was purposely created for the project, and added there is no true timetable for its completion.
"It may take another five to 10 years," Newhard said. "It's a work in progress."
Gerald Phillips, supervisor, Washington Township, said taxes stayed the same in the township this year.
Phillips then discussed the Slate Heritage Trail, a three-mile stretch that spans from Slatedale to Slatington.
"It's finished," Phillips said. "It's a widely-used trail."
Renovations to the Northern Lehigh Food Bank have been completed, as well, Phillips said.
Phillips also discussed a plan for 18 townhouses to be located on E. Grant Street in Slatedale.
Lastly, Phillips said a cleanup day is scheduled in the township from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday.
After the panel of municipal officers spoke, Schmidt mentioned several upcoming events.
Future Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce events include an Annual Heritage Day Celebration at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, at the Slatington Baptist Church, 509 Main Street in Slatington; as well as a Summer Picnic from 5:30-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at the Walnutport Canal Park Pavilion in Walnutport.
Upcoming Palmerton Area Chamber of Commerce events include Identity Theft: Corporate & Personal, How to Recognize & Prevent at noon on Tuesday, Aug. 14 at Bert's Steakhouse, 416 Delaware Avenue, Palmerton; as well as the Palmerton Centennial Dinner on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Blue Ridge Country Club in Palmerton.