A CITY OF TRANSFORMATION: MAYOR DELIVERS STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

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Mayor Ed Pawlowski delivers the "State of the City" address to the Rotary Club.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski delivers the “State of the City” address to the Rotary Club.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski delivered his 2013 State of The City address on Friday, January 25th during the Allentown Rotary Club luncheon at the Holiday Inn Center City.  “The state of our city is one of transformation,” said the Mayor.  “The city is seeing over a billion dollars in new investment and thousands of new jobs are now coming to a city once considered a lost cause.”

Pawlowski told the crowd of 85 Rotary Club members and guests that the city continues to leverage promise into success during a 25 minute speech.  He said the hockey arena and 11-story office building across the street, as well as the expansion of the Alvin H. Butz Inc. headquarters will create more than 900 construction jobs and 1400 permanent jobs.

Pawlowski proudly reminded the receptive audience that the city has had eight consecutive years with no property tax increase and maintains its lowest staffing level in almost 20 years.

According to Pawlowski, the city has obtained $75.9 million in state and federal grants since he took office in 2006.

“Public safety is the first and most important obligation of government,” said Pawlowski, pointing out that the police department currently has 214 sworn officers, the highest number in over a decade.

The Mayor continued to promote the proposed 50 year lease of the city’s water and sewer system to solve the city’s unfunded pension liability problem.  Pawlowski warned that the city’s minimal municipal obligation will rise to $24 million by 2015 which is up to 30 percent of the general fund budget.   “This lease concession will put the City on solid fiscal ground for decades to come,” he stated.   “The alternative is to tax our residents into oblivion with an increase of 75-to-100 percent.”

MAYOR PAWLOWSKI FORMS NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON PIPELINE SAFETY

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Mayor Pawlowski speaks at press conference about the February 2011 gas explosion.

Mayor Pawlowski speaks at press conference about the February 2011 gas explosion.

On January 16th, the City of Allentown was awarded a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for technical and other assistance relating to pipeline safety issues. The money comes from the Technical Assistance Grants program authorized under the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act of 2006.

The grant will allow for research and development of a “National Mayor’s Task Force on Pipeline Safety” (MCPS) which was initiated by Mayor Pawlowski in order to collaborate with other Mayors around the country about pipeline safety initiatives and concerns specific to cities like Allentown.  Pawlowski spoke about the task force before the US Conference of Mayor’s Transportation Committee at the US Conference of Mayors 81st Winter Meeting on January 17 in Washington, DC.

His first contact was with Mayor Jim Ruane, the Mayor of San Bruno, California through the US Conference of Mayors.  A September 2010 pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno killed eight people, destroyed 38 homes, and badly damaged 70 more.  A February 2011 natural gas explosion in Allentown killed five people and destroyed eight homes.

“The foundation of a task force is the assurance of open communications with cities throughout the country,” said Pawlowski.  “Implicit is the desire to bring local officials, pipeline operators and utility companies to the table for the united purpose of enhancing safety and shared resources.”

The grant will also be used to purchase four multi-gas surveyors for the Allentown Fire Department which can detect gas and oil leaks when responding to fires and other emergencies.

“The gas surveyors give us the best possible detection capabilities to enable first responders to get a quick reading and possible location of a leak,” said Allentown Fire Chief Bob Scheirer.  “The faster we locate a leak, the faster we can evacuate citizens to a safe area, the faster we locate a leak, the faster we can mitigate the risk of an explosion.”

A portion of the grant will also be used to promote public participation in official proceedings regarding pipeline safety issues.

“We are creating this project to form a union of cities and to thereby facilitate shared education, ideas, conceptualizations and technology,” concluded the Mayor.

YES WE DID! MAYOR ATTENDS SECOND OBAMA INAUGURATION

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Maypr Pawlowski watching President Obama's nauguration.

Maypr Pawlowski watching President Obama’s nauguration.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his wife Lisa were invited guests at President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Monday, January 21st in Washington, D.C.  The inauguration was held on Martin Luther King Day, which added special significance to the full day of events.

“What a historical day to be in Washington,” said Mayor Pawlowski.   “I’m honored to be here again for the President.  To be in the audience to hear such an inspiring speech is special.  It fired up everyone here to the point where we forgot how cold it was.  I’m fortunate to be able to have witnessed this in person.  What a great day to be an American.”

The Pawlowski’s attended several events including the Pennsylvania Society Ball on Sunday night before attending the inauguration and parade on Monday.  Allentown ‘s first couple acknowledged the work of Allentown native Thom Browne, brother of State Representative Pat Browne, who designed first lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration dress.   “It’s a beautiful dress, of course it was designed by an Allentown native,” joked the Mayor.

The Mayor noticed how energized the crowd was now that the President has four more years to continue the progress the country has made under his leadership.  “We need to keep this momentum going,” said Pawlowski.  “You can help by contributing money so we can keep Allentown on the same forward path as the country is moving.  We’ve made a great deal of progress, but we still have a lot to accomplish in Allentown.”

KEEPING OUR STREETS SAFE: NEW ADDITIONS TO THE POLICE FORCE

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Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Police Chief Roger MacLean with new officers in the Allentown Police Department.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Police Chief Roger MacLean with new officers in the Allentown Police Department.

On Thursday, January 31st. the City of Allentown held a ceremony in City Council Chambers which added more officers to the Police Department.  Three recent police academy graduates received their Police Department badges and four other new officers were sworn-in.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Police Chief Roger MacLean pinned badges on December academy graduates officers Richard Seltzer, Maurice Flowers-Williams and Stephen Madison. Pawlowski administered the oath of office to new officers Ryan Alles, Matthew Christman, Michael Lovett and Michael Vernotica.

“I am pleased to tell the members of our audience today how inspired I am by the day to day dedication of the men and women of the Allentown police department, said Pawlowski. “They act under difficult and stressful circumstances. December’s mass shooting in a small town in Connecticut remind us that we live in a world where the unthinkable does happen, but we are able to sleep somewhat easier knowing that police officers are doing their utmost to protect us from harm. It is imperative that we take the time at opportunities like these to acknowledge their performance.”

The new hires bring the count of sworn police officers in the city to 213.

Seltzer, Flowers-Williams and Madison 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. They are currently undergoing field training. Alles, Christman, Lovett and Vernotica had previously obtained their Act 120 certifications and will soon begin field training.

“These officers will be welcome additions to the Allentown Police Department,” said MacLean. “I am happy to have them on board.”

Officer Seltzer holds a BA in Marketing/Management from Siena College.

Officer Flowers-Williams holds a BA in Philosophy from Bloomsburg University and is attending West Chester University for Criminal Justice.

Officer Madison is currently attending Northampton Community College. He has served in the Army National Guard.

Officer Alles has been a Bucks County Corrections Officer and is attending Bucks County Community College, majoring in Criminal Justice.

Officer Christman holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Albright College and has been a member of the Moravian College Police Department.

Officer Lovett holds a B.A. in Mass Communication from Kings College and has been a police officer in the city of Harrisburg.

Officer Vernotica was a Lehigh County Deputy Sheriff and is attending Northampton Community College majoring in Criminal Justice.

PAWLOWSKI APPOINTED TO NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES COMMITTEE

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MAYOR PAWLOWSKIMayor Ed Pawlowski has been appointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2013 Community and Economic Development Policy and Advocacy Committee. This Committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions on issues involving housing, community and economic development, land use, recreation and parks, historic preservation, and international competitiveness. The appointment was announced by NLC President Marie Lopez Rogers, the Mayor of Avondale, Arizona.

“I am very excited to accept this appointment,” said Pawlowski. “I cannot understate the importance of the federal government’s role in these issues, especially the recent reductions in Community Development Block Grant funds and their effect on city programs. I welcome the opportunity to have a voice in developing and articulating the NLC’s positions.”

As a member of the committee, Pawlowski will play a key role in shaping NLC’s policy positions, while advocating on behalf of America’s cities and towns on Capitol Hill, with the Administration and at home.

The chair of this year’s Community and Economic Development Committee is Frank (Tony) Thomas, the council chair from Savannah, Georgia.  Serving as this year’s vice-chairs are Ronald Garcia, the Mayor of Brea, California and Priscilla Tyson a council member from Columbus, Ohio.

The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

For more information on NLC’s other committees and councils, visit http://www.nlc.org/influence-federal-policy/policy-committees.

ALLENTOWN RECYCLES EVEN MORE: PROGRAM EXPANDS TO CARTONS

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Recycling cartons

Expanded recycling program includes cartons.

Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski held a news conference in City Hall on January 31st to announce the expansion of the recycling program to include empty cartons.  He was joined at the news conference by Bureau of Recycling & Solid Waste Manager Ann Saurman, Kris Kaar of the Carton Council and Greenstar General Manager Richard Smith.  Greenstar processes and markets the city’s recycled cartons, cans and bottles.

Residents can now place empty milk, juice, broth, soup and similar cartons and juice boxes in their GREEN curbside recycling bins along with their plastic, metal and glass containers.  Cartons are also being accepted at the Allentown Recycling Drop Off Center at 1400 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

“Our residents and businesses are firmly behind the idea of green living through waste reduction and recycling,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “Our residents recycled 3,600 tons of cans and bottles last year.  The city has been a leader in recycling and now we are proud to add cartons to the mix.”

Residents are asked to remove all drinking straws and plastic screw-top caps and be sure that all liquid is emptied from the container prior to placing the carton in the GREEN curbside bin or dropping them off in the designated container at the MLK Drive Recycling Center.

“The Carton Council is a national organization committed to working with processors, manufacturers and local governments nationwide to coordinate the recycling of cartons,” said Kaar.

The bales of recycled cartons are shipped to paper mills, where cartons are mixed with water in a gigantic blender to extract all the paper fiber.  These recycled carton paper fibers are a valuable resource for making products such as recycled paper products and even building materials.

The city’s curbside recycling program reaches all 36,500 households and 475 businesses in a once-a-week city curbside collection program.