Just a reminder to mark your calendar for Sunday, August 26th for the Pawlowski Family Fun Picnic at the UAW Grove on Mack Boulevard from 1 to 5 p.m. This FREE event will have food, drinks, music by the Memory Lane Band, and games and activities for the kids. Come out and enjoy the day with your friends and neighbors, and take the opportunity to make new friends from all parts of the city as you join my family in celebrating our diverse community here in Allentown. The UAW Grove is located at 2012 Mack Blvd., across the street from the former Mack Truck Headquarters, now the Lehigh Valley Hospital Office Building. Please respond to Mike@allentownmayor.com or call (610) 841-3133 by August 21st.
The City of Allentown is upgrading all water meters not currently equipped with a radio transmitter. This mandatory program will affect approximately 27,000 customers over the next year and a half. Approximately 6,000 meters are already equipped with the technology.
These meter replacements are required to improve the accuracy of the city’s meter reading process. The installation of a radio transmitter will also eliminate the need for city personnel to enter private property to obtain meter readings, while providing enhanced leak detection features.
“We desperately need to upgrade our meters to improve efficiency, accuracy, and leak detection, and this automated system will do that as well as increase revenue for the city,” said Mayor Pawlowski.
The city secured an $8 million Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST) loan at 1% interest to pay for the project. PennVEST provides low-interest loans for design, engineering and construction of publicly and privately owned drinking water distribution and treatment facilities, storm water conveyance and wastewater treatment and collection systems.
Mayor Pawlowski administered the oath of office to officers Stephen Madison of Macungie and Jason Hillis of Easton. Madison is attending the latest Allentown Police Academy class as well as Northampton Community College, and served in the Army National Guard. Hillis is already Act 120 certified and will be undergoing in-house training. He attended Coastal Carolina Community College and studied Basic Law Enforcement.
“Being a police officer is a formidable job, but it is also very rewarding,” said the Mayor. “The people of this city know that you have a difficult job to do and you have their support. Be mindful of the fact that we as a city appreciate your efforts every single day.”
“I would like to extend a warm welcome to you,” said Assistant Police Chief Joe Hanna. “You are now members of one of the finest police departments in the commonwealth. To the family and friends, I assure you that these officers will be provided with the highest level of training and the most advanced tools so that they may perform their duties in the safest and most efficient manner.”
The two additions increase the department compliment to 209 officers. Retirements at the end of 2005 had reduced the police force to 164 officers. Over the next few months the city plans to hire seven additional officers thanks to two federal COPS Program grants.
Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Police Chief Roger MacLean presided as badges were pinned on officers Elene Poliseno, Ismael Segarra, John Perez, Anthony Bowland, Victor Diaz-Gonzalez and Jason Hillis.
“I am honored to tell the members of the audience, including family and friends of these officers, how impressed I am by the day to day dedication of the men and women of our police department,” said Pawlowski. “They perform a stressful job. Recent events in Colorado and Wisconsin remind us that we live in a dangerous world, but we are able to breathe somewhat easier knowing that police officers are doing their best to protect the rest of us from harm. It is important that we take the time at ceremonies like these to acknowledge their efforts.”
“These officers are now beginning the field portion of their training,” said MacLean. “They will face new challenges over the next four months, but when they are done they will be ready to be top flight Allentown police officers.”
Poliseno, Segarra, Perez, Bowland and Diaz-Gonzalez graduated from the 20 week course at the Allentown Police Academy and underwent three more weeks at the academy on advanced training techniques and department policies and procedures specific to the Allentown Police Department. Hillis was already Act 120 certified. These six police officers have recently begun their platoon assignments, and will be working with a Field Training Officer. The instruction period with the Field Training Officer will last at least 16 weeks before the officers will begin patrolling on their own.
On Friday, August 10th, the first boring was drilled at the new arena site marking the beginning of the construction of the structure of the arena. “I’m excited that we have finally reached this exciting point in Allentown’s history as we all will watch this fantastic facility rise to completion,” said Pawlowski. “Seeing the construction begin brings us all to the reality that soon we will have a first rate facility for events, concerts, and celebrating wins by our Phantoms Hockey Team!
The switch from an analog system was made this morning. It means that criminals can no longer listen to Allentown Police Department radio traffic on commercially available scanners or by using Smartphone apps. With the new system the voice signal goes over the air as a stream of bits and then reassembles it into high-quality audio. Communications are only heard by listeners with the proper encryption key.
“Our top priority is the safety of our officers out on the street,” said Pawlowski. “This new system will not allow the average criminal to listen to police communications and know about response plans and the position of our officers. The current system is just simply out of date.”
The city purchased 244 portable radios and 60 mobile radios for the department. Selected fire department radios have been upgraded and 25 handsets for the EMS Bureau were purchased to maintain interoperability. The consoles at the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center were also upgraded for the encrypted system. The 911 Center can patch-in the city’s mutual aid partners to maintain interoperability with the Allentown Police Department.
The 15th Street Bridge closed on Monday, August 6 for some much needed repairs. The bridge will be closed until the project is completed. Message boards announcing the closing are scheduled to be activated today.
The 15th Street Bridge was built in 1957, and handles an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day. The heavy use has resulted in deteriorated areas of the structure. The two current structures that make up the bridge are both steel and concrete, and will both be replaced by a new concrete bridge.
Crews have installed a temporary traffic signal at 15th and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to help traffic being detoured off of 15th street turn onto MLK Drive. Detour signs have also been posted.
J.D. Eckman Inc. of Atglen, Pennsylvania is the general contractor for the $8.4 million project. Funding for the project is 80% Federal, 15% State, and 5% City. It is expected to take up to 18 months to complete.