The Pennsylvania Department of Education announced March 23 all schools in the commonwealth will remain closed through at least April 6 as a result of the COVID-19 response efforts. The closure order could be extended beyond April 6 if necessary to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19.
When it is determined students can return to school, administrators, teachers and other staff will be given two days to prepare classrooms, set up cafeterias, schedule transportation and arrange other business operations. Students would return on the third day.
Whitehall Township police officers, along with emergency personnel from across the region, converged on Lehigh Valley Mall property after a bomb threat March 20.
The incident, according to the police report, took place approximately 6:30 p.m. when a male reportedly told officers he had placed bombs at the mall, on MacArthur Road in Whitehall, and a location in Allentown.
The area around the mall was cordoned off for safety reasons.
Lehigh County’s Municipal Emergency Response Team, as well as a hostage negotiation team, arrived on the scene.
In the midst of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Service Electric Cable TV & Communications has joined the Keep Americans Connected Pledge to help ensure connectivity to its customers, as first proposed by the Federal Communications Commission.
As part of the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, Service Electric pledges for 60 days to:
• Not terminate service to any residential or small business due to the inability to pay a bill
• Waive late fees residential or small-business customers incur because of their economic circumstance related to the coronavirus pandemic
The Pennsylvania Department of Health, as of March 24, confirmed 851 positive cases of COVID-19 in 40 counties.
Locally, there are 27 cases in Lehigh County and 33 cases in Northampton County.
There are 8,643 patients who have tested negative.
There are also seven deaths — two in Northampton and Allegheny counties and one each in Lackawanna, Monroe and Montgomery counties.
The Woman’s Club of Whitehall Township named Nikki Dietz as Girl of the Month for February.
The daughter of Veronica Dietz of Whitehall, she has earned high honor roll during all high school marking periods.
Dietz is involved in Student Council; SADD, serving as president; Big Brothers/Big Sisters; and peer mentoring. She is also on the Whitehall High School track and field team.
As COVID-19 virus precautions increase across the Lehigh Valley, churches are looking for ways to continue to connect with their congregations that don’t involve in-person gatherings. One local church is capitalizing on the available technology to join its members together for regular worship without violating any safety rules.
First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, 3005 Front St., has been using Facebook livestreaming, Zoom and YouTube to connect with parishioners, a move the pastor calls “unprecedented but successful.”
As the coronavirus pandemic deepens, PPL Electric Utilities issued a statement March 16 saying it wants customers to know it is well prepared to maintain reliable electric service.
“Those we serve in central and eastern Pennsylvania depend on us, and we’ll continue to deliver for them,” PPL Electric Utilities President Greg Dudkin said. “Efforts over the past decade to develop a more reliant, resilient and smarter grid, coupled with effective pandemic planning and emergency management, will help us weather this health crisis. We have the backs of our customers and communities.”
Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong announced March 15 the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown, is now closed to all visitors and walk-ins. This includes anyone without an identification badge issued by the government center.
The decision was made by Armstrong and his administration as the county continues to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A presumptive positive COVID-19 case was confirmed March 15 in Lehigh County.
Local area legislators announced Feb. 26 the state’s School Safety and Security Committee awarded school safety and security grants to school districts in the area.
Whitehall-Coplay School District received $45,000 for equipment; Catasauqua Area School District received $35,000 for equipment; and Northampton Area School District received $450,928 to fully fund four counselors, training, planning and equipment.
Gordon Higgins, of Fellowship Courts, Whitehall, celebrated his 100th birthday Feb. 22 with family and friends in attendance.
He was born in 1920 in Trenton, N.J. His family lived in Robbinsville, N.J., and he graduated from Allentown High School, New Jersey.
He joined the U.S. Army soon after Pearl Harbor, and his anti-aircraft unit saw combat in Africa, Sicily, Sardinia, Southern France and Germany.
He married Olive Dammers in 1951, and they celebrated 69 years of marriage.
Higgins worked for Mercer Rubber Company in Hamilton Square, N.J.