MORE MONEY IN YOUR POCKET: NO TAX INCREASE FOR 10th STRAIGHT YEAR IN 2015 BUDGET

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City LogoMayor Pawlowski recently submitted his 2015 budget to City Council for approval.  The highlights include no property tax increase for the tenth straight year, and a decrease in the Earned Income Tax for non-residents who work in Allentown.

The Mayor started his budget presentation by summarizing how far Allentown has moved forward in the last few years.

“We’ve truly captured lightning in a bottle,” said the Mayor about the revitalization that has occurred in the downtown area.  “We are probably one of the only Cities in the state to achieve 10 straight years of a budget with no tax increase.  We have been adding police officers and cameras to increase the safety of our residents.   This year we are going increase our public safety technology by purchasing cameras for all police cars and body cameras for our officers, which will improve efficiency and lower our liability.  We now have more cameras on the street than Pittsburgh has.” Pawlowski noted that Allentown was again successful in securing a federal grant which will allow the City to hire five additional police officers by the end of the year.

The Mayor has also included infrastructure upgrades in the budget, including $3 million to upgrade all the city streetlights with new LED technology, which will save $200,000 to $300,000 a year in energy costs.  Other improvements include $3 million to improve several City pools, including Cedar Beach and Mack, and $2.5 million for street repairs.

ELECTION DAY 2014: BIG WINS FOR PA AND LOCAL DEMS

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Schweyer election nightElection Day provided a big win for Democrats in Pennsylvania as Tom Wolf easily beat Tom Corbett, who became the first incumbent Governor in decades not to win re-election.

“If we’re going to fund a world-class public education system, create family sustaining jobs, bring about fairness and equality under the law, provide access to affordable health care, build safe communities, and keep Pennsylvania beautiful, it’s going to take all of us doing our part,” Wolf said in his victory speech.  “Democracy requires healthy debates, but our duty to Pennsylvania requires that we listen, that we roll up our sleeves, and that we come together to do what is right.”

Local Democrats won big as well and will give Allentown more representation in Harrisburg starting in January.  Peter Schweyer easily won the 22nd District House seat, a brand new seat that was moved from Lancaster thanks to redistricting.  Mike Schlossberg was re-elected in the 132nd District, while the other Democrats in the Lehigh Valley, Dan McNeill, Matt Cartwright, Lisa Boscola, Bob Freeman and Steve Samuelson were also victorious.

Statewide, Tom Wolf defeated Republican Tom Corbett, providing strong, Democratic leadership in the Governor’s Office.

Mayor Pawlowski attended the Lehigh County Victory Party at Chickie’s and Pete’s in the PPL Arena.  “We had a great day here in the Lehigh Valley,” said the Mayor.  “We put a lot of effort into this race, and it paid off.  Starting in January, we will have a leader in Harrisburg who can put Pennsylvania back on the path to prosperity, and that’s when the work will really begin, to fix the damage that has been done over the past four years.”

AN EASIER WAY TO FIND A JOB: PAWLOWSKI LAUNCHES ALLENTOWN TWEETMYJOBS

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Tweet_Jobs1Finding a job is difficult enough, but now the City of Allentown has made it easier for job seekers by launching a service that combines mobil technology and social media.  Mayor Pawlowski recently announced Allentown TweeMyJobs, a new online jobs platform that revolutionizes job recruitment by offering an easy and user-friendly online tool to find employment.

The TweetMyJobs platform is a cutting-edge job matching process which helps users learn about available jobs faster and helps employers reach qualified, local candidates fast and at no cost.  The service provides job seekers with information on thousands of jobs in multiple industries at all levels of employment.

“We have enough jobs available right now to significantly cut our unemployment rate,” said Pawlowski. “By adopting new technology and leveraging social media to drive local employment solutions, Allentown TweetMyJobs presents a unique opportunity to connect those dots and create a stronger foundation for future job growth throughout the region.”

The Mayor made the announcement at a news conference at Lehigh Carbon Community College’s Donley Center.  He was joined by Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. Executive Director Nancy Dischinat, Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority board member Nelson Diaz, TweetMyJobs Vice President/Client Services Bo Kemp, Lehigh Carbon Community College President Dr. Ann Bieber and community employers.

Individuals who register at http://allentown.tweetmyjobs.com will receive relevant job matches instantaneously by e-mail, text message, or from social networks like Twitter and Facebook.  Allentown TweetMyJobs also offers people the opportunity to tap into their Facebook network to get introductions from their friends who are connected to hiring companies, which provides them with a great competitive edge.  In addition, employers in the Allentown and the Lehigh Valley area who are seeking to fill open positions can use Allentown TweetMyJobs to advertise their jobs at no cost.  The Allentown TweetMyJobs service also enables job seekers to view available jobs in their neighborhood through an incredible smartphone application.  At the request of The White House, TweetMyJobs recently launched a site designed to help veterans and returning military personnel find jobs.

The service is a partnership between the Mayor of Allentown, Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, Inc. and TweetMyJobs.

 

 

ANOTHER GOLD FOR THE MAYOR: PAWLOWSKI AWARDED LET’S MOVE! GOLD MEDAL

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Let's Move LogoMayor Ed Pawlowski was recently recognized by the National League of Cities (NLC) for the completion of several health and wellness goals for Let’s Move!  Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC).  LMCTC is a major component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, which is dedicated to solving the childhood obesity problem in our country.  LMCTC asks local elected officials to adopt sustainable and holistic policies to improve community access to healthy, affordable food as well as offer a five goal program of physical activity.

The City was awarded four medals for its efforts to improve access to healthy, affordable food.  The gold medal was awarded for the city’s achievement of having at least 30% of municipally or county – owned or operated venues that offer or sell food that have implemented a policy for healthy, affordable food and adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The City previously met the standards for the bronze and then the silver benchmarks.

“I am extremely proud to accept these medals on the city’s behalf,” Mayor Ed Pawlowski said.  “The Allentown Health Bureau has worked diligently to achieve the benchmarks set forth by Let’s Move! to win these medals.  We are working hard to reduce childhood obesity in the city and the information campaign is part of our effort.”

Allentown was also honored with a bronze medal for prominently displaying “MyPlate” in at least 51% of municipally or county-owned or operated venues that offer to sell affordable, healthy food and beverages and for registering as a MyPlate Community Partner.  Displaying the MyPlate logo is intended to prompt consumers to think about a healthy plate at meal times, and are encouraged to visit the website at ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information on healthy meals.

“We congratulate and commend Allentown for its efforts to improve the health of the city’s children and families,” said NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor of Saint Paul, Minn.  “Through the leadership and dedication of local elected officials in cities, towns and counties across the country, we are beginning to see a measurable decrease in obesity rates and a cultural shift towards health.”

The City of Allentown had previously been awarded eight medals in 2012 for their achievement in reaching goals I and III; Start Early, Start Smart and Smart Servings for Students.

For more information about LMCTC and Allentown’s accomplishments, please visit www.HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org.

 

IMPROVEMENTS COMING TO HEART OF THE CITY NEIGHBORHOOD

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Heart of the CityThe City of Allentown recently announced that funding is now in place for improvements to the 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street thanks to a combination of money from several sources, including Sacred Heart HealthCare System, which comprises the entire 400 block of Chew Street and is the namesake of the “Heart of the City” neighborhood.  The 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street are a key corridor that connects Sacred Heart Hospital’s campus to Allentown’s Seventh Street Main Street Program.

The State of Pennsylvania is providing $300,000 to Sacred Heart through the Multimodal Transportation Fund.   The City of Allentown is contributing $100,000 in capital funds while Sacred Heart has committed $75,000 to the streetscape project which will increase pedestrian safety to two major intersections.

“Our neighborhoods are the lifeblood of the city,” said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.  “At the core, the services we provide on a daily basis are for the residents of our neighborhoods.  If we are going to continue to grow as a city, then we have to meet the needs of our neighborhoods.”

The streetscape improvements include 34 new pedestrian scale streetlights identical to the ones located throughout the grounds of Sacred Heart Hospital, the replacement of 40 new shade trees to replace the 24 dying or overgrown trees, and the repaving and restriping of the 500 and 600 blocks of Chew Street.

Pedestrian safety improvements include 19 new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) approved handicapped ramps installed at those intersections that do not have the modern ramps, and the installation of high-visibility crosswalks at the 6th and chew and 7th and Chew intersections.  Joining Mayor Pawlowski at a press conference to announce the upgrades were Sacred Heart Healthcare System President and CEO John Nespolit, State Senator and Allentown resident Mike Schlossberg, and Republican State Senator and Allentown native Pat Browne.

“This streetscape improvement plan will increase property values, enhance safety and increase the livability and commerce in the Heart of the City neighborhood,” said Schlossberg.  “It represents yet another major commitment to the area from Mayor Pawlowski, Senator Browne and me.  It also serves as a demonstration of the importance of the transportation plan that I voted for last year.  It’s also worth noting that gas is $.30 cheaper today than it was when we enacted Act 89.  For anyone who questions why we voted for these transportation improvements, here is yet another answer.”

 

SNOW ANGELS TO THE RESCUE THANKS TO STUDENTS AT CCHS

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SnowAngelsSenior Citizens in Allentown will again receive help with snow shoveling this winter thanks to the “Snow Angels” program which is a cooperative effort of SERV Allentown and Central Catholic High School.  Mayor Pawlowski joined some students at Lehigh Valley Active Life to announce the continuation of the program.  About 65 students are volunteering for the program as part of the school’s Central City Project (CCP), where students volunteer for various activities throughout the City.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the boost these students are giving the Snow Angel program,” said Pawlowski. “All the snow that fell last winter put our volunteer force to the test. A lot more senior citizens will be able to benefit as a result of the hard work of these teenagers. I can’t thank them enough.”

Senior citizens that own homes in Allentown will be able to find an application for the “Snow Angel” program on the city website under the SERV Allentown Logo, or may pick-up an application at the senior center. All applicants for snow removal services must turn in their application to Lehigh County Active Life, located at 1633 W. Elm Street, in Allentown.   Once a senior qualifies for the program, their application is kept by the Senior Center and forwarded to a neighborhood group president.

When a snow storm leaves at least 3 inches of snow on the ground, a qualified senior can call their neighborhood group and request snow removal, and a volunteer will be sent to their home to shovel the snow.  All volunteers are required to have an identification card for the safety of the seniors.

According to Central Catholic High School Community Outreach Director Pat Markham, “The Central City Project (CCP) is Allentown Central Catholic High School’s commitment to the City of Allentown. For over 80 years, ACCHS has had a vibrant Christian presence in Center City Allentown. As demographics have changed, a majority of our students no longer hail from the immediate community surrounding the school. The CCP is an opportunity for students from communities outside the city to interact with the local neighborhood’s people, institutions, and events.”

Youth over the age of 12 who are interested in volunteering their time for the program can apply by going on the City of Allentown’s website at www.allentownpa.gov and clicking on the “SERV-Allentown” link.   At the bottom of the information on the program is a link (Click here for the application) to download the application.  All applications must be delivered to the Chief Service Officer, Ismael Arcelay, in City Hall.  All applicants will go a through an approval process, which includes a background check.  Volunteers must provide their own snow shovel to participate.

“This is a great way to give back to the community,” said the Mayor, who himself shovels snow for those residents in need during the winter.  “Our seniors are grateful for the help, and this allows our youth to do something nice for their neighbors.  We are very thankful to every young adult who becomes a snow angel during the winter.  They help to exemplify what Allentown is all about, working together for the good of the community.”

MORE HELP FOR THOSE SEEKING SHELTER: NEW WARMING STATION OPENS

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Alliance HallThe City of Allentown is addressing the need for more space for the homeless seeking shelter from the frigid temperatures by opening a new warming station at Alliance Hall at 6th and Chew Streets.  The hall, which opened on November 1st, will be open every night from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am, regardless of the temperature.  The building is also home to the Allentown Health Bureau.

Alliance Hall is open to men, women and families and will offer cots and blankets to all who stay there.  There is a consistent intake process, so that the staff gets to know people by their name and what their needs are.  Every person is assigned a case manager in order to help develop housing action steps to assist in finding a permanent home.  There are trained supervisory staff and access to the Lehigh Valley Health Network Street Medicine Program.  The facility will remain open every night until April 30th.

The announcement of the new warming station was made at a news conference by Dale W. Smith, Chairman of the Seasonal Sheltering Committee, Allentown Commission to End Chronic Homelessness, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller and Lehigh Conference of Churches Executive Director Jack Felch.  In attendance were some 50 representatives of social service agencies, churches and neighborhood groups.

“Our goal remains not just to provide a place for the homeless to go during the dead of winter, but to get them on the road to finding permanent shelter,” said Mayor Pawlowski.  “As a society, the cost of getting the chronically homeless into housing is far less than the cost of their impact on the health and local law enforcement systems.”

The city is contributing $25,000 of CDBG funds to the winter sheltering program. In addition, the city is also providing Emergency Solutions Grant Program funding in the amounts of almost $34,000 to the Sixth Street Shelter, the Allentown Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army; $18,000 to the Lehigh Conference of Churches for the Linkage Outreach Program and $44,000 to the Lehigh Conference of Churches for the Pathways Rapid Re-housing Program.

Muller said the warming station serves a critical need, adding that the November 1 opening gives organizers a head start on preparing for the harsh winter.

According to Smith, “The 6th & Chew Winter Shelter is the culmination of many collaborative discussions among several community organizations — the city, the county, the Allentown Rescue Mission], the Salvation Army Hospitality House, the Lehigh Conference of Churches, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley and faith-based organizations.  The shelter will be administered by the Lehigh Conference of Churches.

“Last winter, the very harsh weather showed us that the community needed a bigger and better-equipped facility to ensure that our homeless population would not only have a place to sleep out of the inclement weather but also to ensure that they had the services they needed to help them get off the streets into permanent housing,” Smith said.