NORTHAMPTON, Pa. - A new sheriff came to town Thursday night with Northampton County Council approving the selection of a Phillipsburg native who retired last year from the New Jersey state police after rising through the ranks from trooper of the year to the head of the Official Corruption Bureau, among other posts.
One of the cases David J. Dalrymple supervised was the arrest of former Middlesex County Sheriff Joseph C. Spicuzzo, who was charged with demanding bribes of up to $25,000 from people looking for a job or a promotion in the sheriff's office.
Dalrymple, who retired at age 49 after 26 years with the state police, will replace Chief Deputy Sheriff Christopher Ziegler.
Ziegler had been acting sheriff, since County Executive John Brown, in one of his first moves after taking office in January, fired former Sheriff Randall Miller.
Miller is suing to get his job back along with back pay.
Dalrymple's selection was praised by several members of local law enforcement, including Wilson Police Chief Steven Parkansky.
Parkansky said "you could not have picked a better man for the position."
Council also approved two other high-level cabinet posts Brown wanted filled: Luis E. Campos as director of administration, and James W. Hunter Jr. as director of fiscal affairs.
Campos and Hunter will each receive $87,838 annually, and Dalrymple will be paid $91,422.
In other action, council agreed to increase its contract with Kennedy Law Offices for payments of up to $225,000 for its legal work collecting unpaid patient accounts at Gracedale, the county's nursing home, where about $2,4 million in accounts remain open.
In a related development, council received some good news on Gracedale, which reported it had received a four-star rating in quality measures tracked by government statistics under the Medicare program.
The nursing home also reported there were 688 people at Gracedale compared with about 580 a year ago.
"Things are looking better," said council member Seth Vaughn. "The census is as high as it's ever been."
Peg Ferrario, the council president, agreed, saying Gracedale's report card "was very positive …."
Council also approved funding for several projects, including one for a $21,336 "bog turtle survey" involving a bridge replacement project in Plainfield Township, a requirement that sparked a few jokes and an explanation from council man Robert Werner who said, "if we don't do this, the bridge does not get replaced."
"Actually, we have no choice in the matter," Ferraro added.
Funding for a series of other projects drew criticism and a warning from council member Hayden Phillips, who predicted the county is heading for a tax increase when it begins putting together next year's budget in the fall.
Phillips, who ran for office as a fiscal conservative, said the county should be taking steps now to lessen the tax hike later.
Other council members endorsed the projects as fundamental to improving the area's quality of life and attracting business.
The projects include: a pathway and fitness trail at Delps Park in Lehigh Township, a $176,767 improvement plan with a $105,616 grant from the county.
The Water Street Park in Hellertown, between Saucon Creek and Rail Trail, where rain gardens, native plantings, a parking lot and other improvements are planned, with the country providing a $49,040 grant, which will pay for half the proposed $99,047 project.
The county agreed to provide another $50,500 grant to Forks Township for resurfacing the playground with rubber at the community park on Zucksville Road, and another grant for $12,500 for drilling a 300- foot well, and installing a pump to water the fields at the community park.
Another $68,750 county grant was approved to help pay for the cost of installing lighting at three additional fields at the community park.
Another $6,050 county grant was awarded paying in part for resurfacing two basketball courts at the Penn's Ridge Park basketball court on Penn's Ridge Boulevard in Forks.
Council also approved a $35,250 grant request from the borough of Northampton for the installation of a gazebo/pavilion, pathways, fencing and landscaping at 1922 Main St.
Another $35,000 grant was awarded for the construction of a concession stand, restrooms, installation of a well and utilities at the Raubsville Park on Young Street.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Chad Blimline/69 News