In Lehigh County, tonight is the annual state of the county address. Officials take a look back at the successes of 2019 while highlighting new ventures coming in 20-20.
News 13s Dominic Barone got to speak with the county executive this morning to preview some key points.
County Executive Phillips Armstrong sat down with us this morning to talk about the county at large as well as the northern tier we cover such as Heidelburg township, Washington township, and Slatington.. He said much of the success the county is seeing is because commissioners put the people first.
"We started looking at issues in the county not as party issues. And I think that was a big hurdle" said armstrong
The latest budget was balanced due to commissioners making compromises with one another which really launched the county forward.
As for new things to come, Armstrong is very proud to announce the county will be adding a drug court this year like the one Carbon County has.
"A lot of people are going to jail that should be going to rehab." Armstrong said, "We're researching other counties, how they do it, we're applying for grants. We're hoping to have this in full swing by September."
In Northern Lehigh, the county budgeted in an economic driver for Slatington. There are plans to build an amphitheater for performing arts at Victory Park, and the county is pitching in about 20 percent of the cost. Construction is expected to start this summer.
"In this past year, we put in our budget 35,000 dollars for the amphitheater up there. So we're just waiting for all of that to get going." said Armstrong.
And to keep places like Heidelburg, Lynn and Washington Townships beautiful, Armstrong said they are truly excited about the millions of dollars they've invested in farmland preservation. They expect to add their 300th farm to the list this summer, securing 25,000 acres and putting the Lehigh in the top 5 state wide.
"In the rural areas, they don't want to see warehouses." Armstrong said, "To do that, we're trying to get as many farms as we can put aside that they will stay farms."
Executive Armstrong cannot stress enough the importance of filling out your 2020 census form - especially in rural areas. In the last census, 30 percent of rural residents in Lehigh did not fill out their forms. Anyone not counted this year will lose their communities $2,100 for things like their schools, libraries, and infrastructure.