Commissioners Travel to Woods Services’ E. Sherman Chase Training Center for Bi-Monthly Meeting
As the second-largest private employer in Bucks County (1,800 staff members), Woods Services is a vital part of the county’s economic fabric. In keeping with the Board of Bucks County Commissioners’ 2012 quest to visit businesses throughout the county, the July 25 bi-monthly meeting took place in the Woods Services E. Sherman Chase Training Center. Woods President/Chief Executive Officer Diana Ramsay welcomed Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW to the organization’s 300-acre campus in Middletown Township. “We are thrilled to have you here in our newest building,” Ms. Ramsay told attendees, noting that the training center was built through the efforts of a five-year, $11.6 million capital fundraising campaign. Woods Services will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.
The meeting began with Chairman Loughery requesting a moment of silence in honor of the victims of last week’s movie theater massacre in Aurora, CO and also for the family of late State Representative Tony Melio, who passed away late last week. Current State Representative Frank Farry also spoke on behalf of the emergency response community, expressing his gratitude for the men and women who battled last week’s four-alarm fire at a Middletown Township apartment complex. “They worked very diligently under harsh conditions,” he said, adding that seven firefighters were injured and five were hospitalized. He noted that those most seriously injured from burns are recuperating at home.
The regular business portion of the agenda featured the approval of 25 contract resolutions involving 14 county departments, although Commissioner Martin abstained from a pair of Mental Health/Developmental Programs contract votes. The county’s popular Open Space program continued to protect land for present and future generations, as an approximately 36-acre Nockamixon Township property owned by Julie and Jeffrey Thomas was approved for the Municipal Open Space Program. According to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, the property is actively farmed and includes two tributaries of Gallows Run. It is also located near the Bucks County Horse Park.
For Parks and Recreation, the board approved the $126,629 purchase of a new Showmobile Mobile Stage system. According to Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Bill Mitchell, the new Showmobile will replace one that has been in service for the last 36 years. It will feature better acoustics, an extendable stage, 110/220 electrical outlets and an ADA compliant ramp. The Showmobile is used for multiple community events, and is a revenue maker for the county each year. County General Services Director Jerry Anderson said the old Showmobile will be sold once the county takes delivery on the new one.
The commissioners also approved adoption of the recommendations of the recent Review Committee for the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, which will remain an entity separate from the county. Commissioner Marseglia served on the Review Committee, and she thanked its members for their service during past months.
For the Human Resources department, the board approved an addendum to the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU) – SEIU 668 contract to memorialize the “After Hours” pilot program for the Children & Youth department. C&Y Executive Director Lynne Rainey expressed her gratitude for this vote, which will have a direct impact on her staff.
For the Mailroom, the board signed off on a contract for automated mail pre-sort service for county mail, a $28,000 annual agreement with Pitney Bowes, Inc. that is projected to save the county approximately $55,000 per year.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reported that the county budget is running a couple hundred thousand dollars under budget through the end of June. His update coincided with the start of the county’s 2013 budget cycle, which commences August 1. He noted that the county’s 7th annual Pandemic Flu Drill will take place at three sites – to be announced – on Saturday, Sept. 29. Over the past six years, more than 20,000 free flu shots have been delivered through this event. Finally, he announced that Ms. Paloma Coleman has been appointed executive director of the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc., replacing the retired Marge Hanna.
The latter portion of the meeting was dominated by discussion of the new Pennsylvania Voter ID law and efforts to educate Bucks County residents about its requirements. Dr. Richard Coe, who moderated the Bucks County Voter ID Education Advisory Group through three meetings during June and July, offered a summary of 37 prioritized recommendations that the group forwarded to the commissioners. He stressed the group’s effort to identify initiatives that can complement what the Pennsylvania Department of State is already doing. Dr. Coe’s synopsis included five areas: 1) capitalizing on the existing network of organizations to spread the message about voter ID; 2) maximizing the existing information formats – print, electronic and web-based; 3) piggybacking on existing communications; 4) paying particular attention to vulnerable groups who need to know about the law; 5) appointing a small group to maintain existing relationship and lines of communication with the Department of State as information about the law evolves.
Following public comment on the matter, which included addressing the burden that will be placed on Judges of Election and poll workers in November, Commissioners Marseglia and Martin offered their thoughts about the recommendations. Chairman Loughery then pledged to take a closer look at the recommendations in advance of the August 15 Commissioners’ Meeting “to figure out what makes sense.” He added, “Our biggest goal right now is to collect correct information.” Complete information about the new law is available on the home page of the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and on the state website, www.votespa.com.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at the Middletown Grange Fair #684, 576 Penns Park Rd., Wrightstown. For a complete audio account of the July 25 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.