Northampton County Courthouse

EASTON, Pa. - Northampton County Council approved a final round of grants Thursday to help small businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Executive Lamont McClure said that over four rounds of grants, 766 small businesses received as much as $15,000 each to get through the pandemic. The money came out of the county's $27.6 million share of the federal CARES Act. Towns, non-profit groups such as ArtsQuest, schools including Lehigh University and the county itself also benefited.

About $10.7 million, or 39%, of the CARES funding went to businesses, McClure said at council's meeting Thursday.

"Our small businesses will really need that boost to help them survive," McClure said. The meeting started at 4:35 p.m., just a few minutes after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced a three-week ban on indoor dining at restaurants and other restrictions on businesses in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

One council member said Wolf's rules are the problem.

"I would say the true catastrophe is what we hear out of the governor and the edict he's put forth," John Cusick, a Republican, said. Wolf is a Democrat whose anti-virus measures have been criticized by many Republicans in state government.

Thursday's 93 grants went to various businesses, among them Remington Financial, attorney Ron Creazzo, Mesa Modern Restaurant, the Lafayette Inn and Fly Guy Music Productions, all in Easton; Main Street Gym, Hellertown; Homebase Skateshop and Pat's Pizza & Bistro, Bethlehem; Virgil's Tree Service, Bangor, and JT's Nazareth Diner.

The recipients were chosen by McClure's staff, council and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. Small businesses that had been open in the county for more than a year and were considered "a going concern," that is, likely to keep operating, were eligible. Council approved the grants 8-0. Margaret Ferraro was absent.

Councilman Kevin Lott said that if more money becomes available, more grants might be given to businesses suffering from the pandemic.

When Tara Zrinski asked what aid was available to businesses that opened during 2020 and did not meet the one-year-in-operation standard, Tina Smith, head of the Department of Community and Economic Development, said loans, but not county grants.

In other business, council accepted the donation of a protective vest for Boomer, a K-9 officer. Boomer works with Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tuxhorn to detect explosives. Brady's K9 Fund of Strongsville, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, donated the StreetFighter vest.

Brady Snakovsky, an elementary school student, started the nonprofit group that provides vests for K9 officers, according to Brady's mother Leah Tornabene, wife of a police officer, is the fund's chief operating officer, the website says.

Council also approved grants to the Center for Animal Health and Welfare in Williams Township, $5,000; $10,000 for Habitat for Humanity for housing in south Bethlehem, and $5,000 for the Saucon Valley Community Center in Hellertown.

Council met via Zoom. Its next meeting will be Dec. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

DISCLAIMER FOR COMMENTS: The views expressed by public comments are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the TERMS OF USE and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Your comments may be used on air. Be polite. Inappropriate posts or posts containing offsite links, images, GIFs, inappropriate language, or memes may be removed by the moderator. Job listings and similar posts are likely automated SPAM messages from Facebook and are not placed by WFMZ-TV.