East Penn Press

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PRESS PHOTOS BY DANIEL MINGUEZ Robert Duld and the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley receive a certificate of appreciation from Commissioner Brad Osborne at the Sept. 26 meeting of the board of commissioners. PRESS PHOTOS BY DANIEL MINGUEZ Robert Duld and the American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley receive a certificate of appreciation from Commissioner Brad Osborne at the Sept. 26 meeting of the board of commissioners.
Commissioner Michael Schware rails against what he called Commissioner Michael Schware rails against what he called "cronyism" in a discussion of a bill to create a Keystone Opportunity Zone on South Tenth Street in Allentown.

LEHIGH COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS Red Cross receives appreciation for their service to the LV

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by DANIEL MINGUEZ Special to The Press in Local News

September is National Preparedness Month and the board of commissioners passed a resolution at their Sept. 26 meeting to honor the American Red Cross for their service to Lehigh County.

"Part of the Red Cross' mission is to help people prepare for emergencies," Commissioner Brad Osborne said. "On average the American Red Cross of Greater Lehigh Valley responds to an emergency every three days, the majority of which are residential fires."

Chief Administrative Officer of the American Red Cross Northeast Pennsylvania Region Robert Duld received a certificate of appreciation from the board saying, "I truly want to offer and extend my sincere thanks on behalf of all the people that are out there in the middle of the night responding to emergencies every two days."

In other business, Lehigh County Commissioners shut down a bill to create a Keystone Opportunity Zone in Allentown.

The bill would have given the owner of a large industrial property on South Tenth Street a 10-year tax exemption meant to lure development to the now defunct property. Proponents of the bill argued chances for development of the property were slim without the KOZ. Opponents cited multiple offers on the property as evidence to the contrary.

Commissioner Michael Schware led the charge against creating the KOZ saying "in general, I'm opposed on a fairness level to this sort of designation because I think they come across more as a favor to the politically connected than as an actual benefit to the community at large. The perception of cronyism is only worsened when a proposal like this comes forward with as little information as we've been given about it."

Though the sponsor of the bill, Commissioner Daniel McCarthy, did not discuss the original impetus for the bill, it was made clear the current owner had made no appearance before the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners or any formal request to have the KOZ granted.

Osborne also voted against the bill saying, "This process has raised several irritating if not substantial points which could cause a questioning mind to sour and reject this opportunity."

He went on to list the assets of the property that made it viable in the open market. The final vote on the bill was 2 in favor, 6 opposed with only Commissioners Percy Dougherty and McCarthy supporting.