Carmine Fusco, 55, is the first victim in both Northampton County and the state to be claimed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He died March 18 at St. Luke’s Hospital, Fountain Hill.
Tragically, he is one of four family members who have succumbed to the virus. Fusco’s brother, sister and mother also died recently at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, N.J. Three more family members are infected, with two in critical condition, according to reports.
For the first time since 1991, Northampton County has a new district attorney. John Morganelli, who held office for an unprecedented 28 years, has been succeeded by his first deputy, Terrence Houck, who was sworn into office Jan. 6.
Houck is a career prosecutor who has spent 32 years in the district attorney’s offices of Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton counties. His last 13 years have been spent as Northampton County’s first deputy DA.
Before he became a lawyer, Houck worked as a police officer in Philadelphia and attended Temple Law School at night.
After five hours of meetings, Northampton County Council voted Feb. 6 to approve a $311,150 contract with Florida-based Tenex Software Solutions for 350 electronic pollbooks (epollbooks) for this year’s elections.
Northampton County’s elections commission voted Jan. 30 not to purchase the epollbooks. After that decision, the company that printed the county’s paper pollbooks for the past 24 years reported it cannot print the pollbooks.
Amid pomp and circumstance in historic Courtroom No. 1, John Morganelli was officially sworn into office Jan. 31 as a Northampton County Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
The county prison’s honor guard, in dress blues and accompanied by a bagpiper, presented the colors, and Easton Area High School’s Karissa Kresch sang the national anthem.
The entire bench of the county’s judges attended the ceremony, as did U.S. District Court Judges Ed Smith and Joseph Leeson Jr. and numerous other dignitaries. President Judge Michael Koury Jr. administered the oath.
Northampton County’s five-person elections commission got to work 3:30 p.m. Jan. 23. The meeting lasted two-and-a-half hours.
The only returning member of the commission is Maudenia Hornick. Newcomer Frank L. DeVito joins Hornick to complete the Republican contingent of the commission.
The Democrats — all of them newcomers — consist of Dr. Alan Brau, Daniel Lopresti and Gail W. Preuninger.
Providing legal advice to the board is Rick Santee.
The board unanimously appointed Hornick as chair. Brau was unanimously elected vice chair.
Northampton County property owners will see no county tax hike this year. By an 8-1 vote, county council voted Dec. 5, 2019, to adopt county Executive Lamont McClure’s $445 million spending plan for 2020. The tax rate will remain at 11.8 mills, where it has been for the past five years. A home assessed at $75,000 will receive a tax bill this year for $885.
This is McClure’s second budget as county executive — and the second time he has held the line on taxes.
Provisions of the elections code are strictly followed in every Pennsylvania election. Unfortunately for Northampton County elections officials, another law raised its ugly head during the Nov. 5 municipal election. Murphy’s Law — the epigram that anything that can go wrong will go wrong — was in full force during the county’s roll-out of a brand-new voting system called the Express Vote XL.
Northampton County property owners have been spared a tax hike next year, at least if county Executive Lamont McClure has his way.
On Oct. 3, he unveiled a $445 million spending plan for 2020 at the 911 Center on Gracedale’s campus. His budget keeps the tax rate at 11.8 mills, where it has been for the past five years. A home assessed at $75,000 will receive a tax bill next year for $885.
Under Pennsylvania’s Election Code, 10 or more citizens have the right to challenge the Department of State’s certification of a voting system. That’s exactly what happened to the ExpressVote XL voting system in Northampton County, a hybrid combining a voter-verified paper trail with the simplicity of a touch screen.
This system was certified by both the federal and state governments in November 2018. Eight months later, a challenge was filed. This triggered an automatic re-examination, which was conducted off-site in August.
The preliminary hearing for Lori Ann Mankos, 44, of Walnutport, is scheduled for April 25.
Mankos has been charged by Pennsylvania State Police with driving under the influence, reckless driving, careless driving and 26 counts of endangering the welfare of children after allegedly abandoning the Northampton Area School District students she was driving at a Sunoco in Bath March 1. The First Student bus driver reportedly handed the keys to the gas station employee before walking away.