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Mayor adds some sizzle to his view of Easton's sunny business climate

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Mar 27 2013 10:38:41 PM CDT
EASTON, Pa. -

The sunny business climate in Easton that received glowing praise from Mayor Sal Panto during his annual state of the city address Wednesday night is taking on some added sizzle.

Panto announced to city council he had been told a few hours earlier that Cheeburger Cheeburger, a 1950s-style burger chain founded in Florida in 1986, has signed a lease with developer Mark Mulligan to open a restaurant in the Pomeroy building on Northampton Street near Centre Square.

The restaurant would be the first in the Lehigh Valley for the Cheeburger Cheeburger chain, which is known for its "Pounder" Angus beef burger and having more than a million flavors to make milkshakes to a customer's taste.

Afterward, Panto told WFMZ.com that he did not know the details of the lease, including its length, or when the restaurant might open, although he speculated it might happen by June, when tourist season begins.

The mayor passed out compliments liberally while outlining the state of the city, which he said "is strong and getting stronger."

Panto even found silver linings on two dark clouds -- the number of killings in 2012 and looming pension fund payments.

The mayor became almost grim when he noted that Easton "had a historic six homicides" last year, adding that all of the individuals were "involved in illegal activity surrounding the drug and gang segment of society."

He pointed out that crime fell by 16.3 percent, with violent crime dropping by 14.7 percent.

Panto said that while pension fund payments continue to be a major worry, the city, with the cooperation of its unions, has cut back on pension costs for new hires, which will help the city handle its "legacy" obligations.

The mayor tossed out another bit of news during his 30-minute address -- the person who will become Easton's first manager of information technology has been chosen. After his address, Panto told WFMZ.com that the person's name will not be released "because he hasn't accepted the city's offer yet."

Panto lauded first responders for their handling of superstorm Sandy; the State Theatre, for helping start the city's revitalization; the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and community volunteers who have made a success of things such as the Farmers Market and Heritage Day.

Panto said he was especially proud of how "we also grew businesses," citing numerous big projects -- including the Weyerbacher brewery expansion, the new Two Rivers Brewing Co. at the Mount Vernon Hotel and the rehabbing of the A&D Tile and WEST buildings.

He singled out for praise several neighborhood rehab projects on North 7th, North 8th, Pine, Berwick and Ferry streets, and the open of Neston Heights.

The mayor wrapped up his address by enumerating the efforts of police, fire, planning, code enforcement, public works and economic and community development officials and concluding that Easton is "safer, more beautiful, more successful, proud of our past with a bold vision for the future."