Northampton Borough’s Hometown Heroes program continues to find ways to recognize and honor Northampton’s men and women who served in the United States Military. The program, which started as banners along the borough’s Main Street highlighting Northampton’s veterans, has now found a home online with the Northampton Hometown Heroes Instagram page. 

This digital program was spearheaded by Mayor Tony Pristash, Junior Councilmember Mason Smolenak and members of the Northampton Area High School Volunteer Committee. Smolenak announced the Instagram page’s first hero during the March 7 Northampton Borough Council meeting: U.S. Army Private First Class Edward Reiter. 

Reiter was only 17 when he enlisted in the Army to serve in the Korean War. He was reported missing in July 1950 and accounted for on June 21, 2022. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, a United Nations Service Medal and even a Republic of Korea War Service Medal. Reiter was buried with military honors in October 2022 at the Our Lady of Hungary Cemetery.

The students of the volunteer committee have been interviewing the loved ones of Northampton’s Hometown Heroes to share their remarkable stories of sacrifice and bravery. There are 30 stories ready to be published online, with Smolenak saying one per week will be published. 

“The volunteer committee has exceeded all expectations,” said Mayor Pristash.

In other news, the borough filled several open positions during the March 7 meeting. Jonathan Kunkle was hired as a public works laborer. He previously worked as a summer employee. Meanwhile, David Strain of Hanover Township was hired as an accountant/bookkeeper for the borough. 

“I’ve always been interested in how local governments operate and serve their community,” he said. 

Finally, Kim Gehris was appointed to the Zoning Hearing Board. 

“I’m a small business owner of a remodeling company…so I just wanted to help out the community,” Gehris said. He has experience in code and permitting. 

The new employees and board members were welcomed warmly by council. 

Finally, Councilwoman Bonnie Almond summarized a report from the fire committee, including the committee’s five-year plan. The fire department continues to look for a training site and is considering applying for an LSA Grant to help purchase Conex fire training containers to keep training in the borough. In addition, the fire department would like to expand the station, including adding new bathrooms, administrative offices, and a lounge. Lastly, the fire department is looking to add 5-inch Storz to all borough fire hydrants, which will make hooking up to the hydrants easier. 

Councilwoman Almond also reported that there are six to seven new Junior Firefighters in the department as a result of last year’s fire camp. 

The next borough council meeting will be on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. 


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