April 19, 2012
Commissioners Visit Lower Bucks Public Safety Training Center for Bi-Monthly Meeting: Lower Bucks Fire School Committee Honored
Last weekend, the $8.5 million Lower Bucks Public Safety Training Center hosted the first live burn exercises in the facility’s state-of-the-art tower. On Wednesday, April 18, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners conducted its bi-monthly business inside the spacious bay of the facility’s Administrative Building.
Back in October, 2003, at the Falls Township Fire Company in Fallsington, then-Bucks County Commissioners Charles H. Martin, chairman, Michael G. Fitzpatrick, and Sandra A. Miller appointed a group of veteran firefighters to the Lower Bucks Fire School Committee. The committee’s objective was to conduct a “Needs Assessment” of the Lower Bucks fire companies and select an appropriate site. At that time, the Commissioners appointed to the Lower Bucks Fire School Committee Chief Robert Hedden of Falls Township, chairman, Chief Richard W. Gerhard of Newtown Township, Chief Kevin Reed of Middletown Township and Chief Robert C. Jones of Tullytown Borough.
During the April 18, 2012 meeting, Chief Hedden joined Commissioners Martin, Robert G. Loughery, now chairman, and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, to thank the lower Bucks County public safety community for its patience with the completion. The facility’s ribbon was cut last October, during a ceremony that included Commissioners Martin, Loughery and Marseglia, Bucks County Community College President Dr. James Linksz, former county commissioner and Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor James F. Cawley, Esq., Pennsylvania Senator Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson, and Dr. Dennis Onieal, superintendent of the U.S. National Fire Academy. During that ceremony, Dr. Onieal told Chief Hedden that he considers the Lower Bucks Public Safety Training Center “one of the finest in the United States.”
Representing Bucks County Community College, Vice President of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Barbara Miller pledged that the college will “use this facility to help the community. These firefighters are not getting paid to run into burning buildings. I hope residents will see this as a resource and a good use of tax dollars.
With a 1985 Seagrave fire engine in the background, the commissioners approved 16 contract resolutions involving 10 county departments. They also tabled (by a 2-1 vote, Commissioner Martin dissenting) a $21,395, three-year insurance premium for an Employee Dishonesty Policy that expired on April 7, 2012. Highlighting the agenda was a $223,803 Municipal Open Space Improvement Grant for outdoor recreation facilities in Dublin Borough. The tiny 320-acre borough will use the funding to make improvements to 5.45-acre Supplee Park. According to Borough Manager Bill Wert, these upgrades will involve playground features and drainage issues.
For General Services, the commissioners untabled and approved a $181,000 decrease to the Bucks County Justice Center general construction contract with Ernest Bock and Sons, Inc. Commissioner Marseglia abstained from the Justice Center change order vote.
The commissioners also approved a $145,811.51 Information Technology upgrade/replacement of 19 Ethernet switches. The contract is part of maintaining the county’s “central nervous system,” according to Information Technology Director Don Jacobs.
During his chief operating officer’s report, Brian Hessenthaler noted that the county has filed a one-year extension request for the communications narrowbanding project. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations called for a January 1, 2013 completion date, but county officials are seeking to move that to January 1, 2014. Mr. Hessenthaler also reported that the county’s preliminary budget reports show increased tax collections in the first quarter. He shared the news that the Bucks County Youth Center recently received a100-percent compliance report for a required inspection. He also reminded residents with school age children that the county Health Department will conduct free immunization clinics on Saturday, April 21 (in Doylestown) and Saturday, April 28 (at the Levittown Government Services Center). Information about those clinics is available on the county website, www.BucksCounty.org.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush introduced Dennis Livrone and Mike Bannon, co-chairs of the Bucks Employees Green Initiative (BEGIN) Committee. During 2011, county facilities recycled 225 tons of plastic – a seven percent increase over the previous year. Commissioner Martin thanked the BEGIN Committee for its continued service, noting that the committee was formed six years ago to advise the Board of Commissioners on policies the county government can implement to help our environment.
The final hour of the meeting was devoted to public comment about the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law that will take effect in November, 2012. The commissioners entertained ideas about public education and outreach in advance of that state mandated change.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 2, 2012, at the Lockheed Martin Corp. Patriot Center Conference Room, 100 Campus Dr., Newtown, PA 18940. For a complete audio account of the April 18 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.