Northampton Press

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lehigh Twp. day care owner pleads guilty in 2016 infant death

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Police Log

Sharon’s Day Care owner and operator Sharon Ballek, 61, has pleaded guilty to charges filed in connection with the April 1, 2016, death of a 3-month-old baby who had been entrusted to Ballek’s care. McKenna Rose Felmly died on her first day at the now-closed Lehigh Township facility, located at 4538 Third St.

Ballek entered her guilty plea before Northampton County Judge Paula Roscioli July 31. She admitted to both endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment.

Graf files court papers alleging lawyer ‘ineffective’

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

DA calls claim ‘frivolous,’ says action is prompted by pending civil actions

Gregory Graf, 56, of Northampton — convicted of and serving a life sentence on charges that he lured his stepdaughter, Jessica Padgett, to his home in November 2014, so he could kill her and then film himself having sexual relations with her dead body — has filed papers with the court blaming his lawyer for his predicament.

That lawyer is prominent Philadelphia Defense Attorney Jack McMahon, who is currently representing Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski on federal political corruption charges.

County judge discusses problem-solving courts

Wednesday, August 9, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Pennsylvania’s incarceration rate was the highest among northeast states in 2014. But housing someone in a county jail costs money.

It costs $40,000 a year in a county jail, according to the County Commissioner Association. Statewide, 65 percent of these inmates are there for a substance abuse disorder. Another 10 to 30 percent suffer from mental illness. For these people, there are community-based alternatives to incarceration that cost less than half of the cost to jail someone. And that, in turn, has led to the creation of problem-solving courts.

Day care owner charged in 2016 death of baby

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Northampton County’s investigating grand jury has recommended criminal charges in the day care death of McKenna Rose Felmly, a 3-month old who died at a Lehigh Township day care April 1, 2016.

Sharon Ballek, owner and operator of Sharon’s Day Care at 4538 Third St., will be charged with recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children. She will be spared prosecution for involuntary manslaughter.

No tax hike for the county

Thursday, December 29, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

After months of budget hearings, followed by numerous amendments, Northampton County Council voted unanimously Dec. 1 to approve Executive John Brown’s $379 million spending plan for 2017.

Council also proposed an ordinance setting the millage rate for next year at 11.8 mills, which means there will be no tax hike. A home assessed at $75,000 will have an $885 tax bill. The millage rate ordinance was scheduled for adoption Dec. 15, the last meeting of the year.

Padgett sues Graf for mental, financial damages endured

Thursday, October 27, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

Michael B. Padgett has sued Gregory Graf, formerly of Covered Bridge Road, Allen Township, in a seven-count complaint that was filed in Northampton County Court last week for the wrongful death of Jessica L. Padgett, his late wife. Graf is accused of battery, a civil term for violent acts, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

In November 2014, Graf lured Jessica Padgett to his home and killed her. He filmed himself having sexual relations with her dead body.

County council remote meetings begin tonight

Thursday, October 6, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

By an 8-0 vote, Northampton County Council decided at its Sept. 1 meeting to take the show on the road. The first stop, on Oct. 6, will be at ArtsQuest SteelStacks.

If all goes well, council will consider meetings in all four corners of the county.

In county business, council voted 8-0 to adopt a resolution opposing state legislation that will prohibit county recorders from charging fees when condominium association amendments are indexed against individual owners.

Proposed car registration fee hike gets the ax

Thursday, August 4, 2016 by BERNIE O’HARE in Local News

In Pennsylvania, it costs $36 to register your car every year. An effort to raise that fee to $41 in Northampton County failed at council’s July 21 meeting.

For the measure to pass, five votes were needed. There were only three. Bob Werner, one of two sponsors for this rate hike, was “all for it.” But he was absent. Mat Benol, who originally called it a “good idea,” changed his mind.