“The Essence & Spirit of the Grange Fair"
Commissioners Open Annual County Fair with Business Meeting, Crowning of Grange Fair Queen
Each August, tens of thousands of area residents trek to Wrightstown Township’s spacious greenway for the Middletown Grange Fair No. 684. Part agricultural and animal showcase, part community reunion and part amusement midway, it traditionally opens with a full slate of Bucks County Board of Commissioners business. On August 15, after Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW participated in fair-opening ceremonies, the board approved 65 contact resolutions involving 23 county departments.
At the outset of the meeting, held on the Entertainment Tent stage, Morgan Wasser of Plumstead Township was crowned 2012 Grange Fair Queen. Grange Fair officials presented the annual locally grown products baskets to the commissioners, thanking them for their nurturing support of the next generation of Bucks County farmers. In summing up the opening festivities, which also featured the awarding of the Fred Groshens Conservation Farmer of the Year Award to James Harris of Perkasie, Chairman Loughery noted that the morning “captured the essence and spirit of the Grange Fair.”
Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD) Director Gretchen Schatschneider presented Mr. Harris with an aerial photo of his 174-acre crop and livestock dairy production Holly Brooks Farm. Over the last three years, Mr. Harris has worked diligently to bring another dairy outlet to central Bucks County. His farm features a circular, concrete manure storage tank that holds six months of manure from the farm’s 50-plus cows. Mr. Harris thanked his family and the commissioners for their support of agriculture in Bucks County.
The meeting featured the approval of a $172,935 design contract for Phase I and II of the County Administration Building Rehabilitation Project. The commissioners unanimously awarded the contract to PSA – Dewberry Design PC of Fairfax, VA. According to Chairman Loughery, there were 13 proposals submitted for the project, and the commissioners met with three finalists. Commissioner Martin noted that Dewberry has extensive experience with Courthouses and government buildings, and their price was competitive. The Administration Building will be rehabilitated in conjunction with the construction of the new Justice Center across Main St.
Agricultural land preservation is a Bucks County tradition, and it continued apace during the August 15 meeting with the unanimous approval of a conservation easement on the 69.93-acre Tryciecki Farm in Buckingham Township. The county contributed $314,685 toward the easement, which brings the county’s agricultural preservation total to 12,877 acres encompassing 152 farms. Since the 2011 Grange Fair, the county has preserved eight farms totaling 606 acres, according to county Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey. Buckingham Township has been one of the leading municipalities in the program, with 25 preserved farms that total approximately 4,000 acres.
The commissioners also approved a pair of Open Space program grants for Bensalem Township as part of the Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The grants involve 2.0 acres of riverfront property and also will provide for costs related to public access improvements. Discussion centered on the nature of those public access measures.
For the Health Department, the commissioners approved the $69,194 purchase of influenza vaccine from Sanofi Pasteur for the county’s annual Pandemic Flu Drill. The drill, which doubles as an emergency preparedness exercise, will take place at three drive thru locations from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, September 29. During his report, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler announced the locations for the event: Sellersville Fire Company Station 27 (2 North Main St., Sellersville, PA 18960); Northampton Fire Company Station #83 (283 Hatboro Rd., Churchville, PA 18966); and Levittown Fire Company #2 Station 13 (6 County Way, Levittown, PA 19058).
The board tabled three Information Technology contract proposals for additional consideration, and Commissioner Martin voted against a pair of Solicitor contracts to provide outside counsel in connection with labor, employment and miscellaneous matters. Commissioner Marseglia voted against a pair of Finance insurance policies, a pair of Corrections contracts for the purchase of inmate clothing, and a $733,800 contract for a flooring renovation project at Neshaminy Manor.
Chief Operating Officer Hessenthaler also reported that the county’s highly successful Operation Take Back will conduct another event on Saturday, September 29 at multiple locations around the county. He provided an update on the county’s effort to reduce the footprint of county government through employee attrition. As of August 15, the county was down 188 positions from the beginning of the year. He added that he will meet soon with the commissioners to suggest recommendations of how to proceed and “what we have to do in the interest of the county and the taxpayers. I have a concern that we may not meet our budget for the year unless we take another step. That other step is a layoff.”
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 19, 2012, at the Dublin Fire Company, 194 N. Main St., Dublin, at which time the board will celebrate Dublin Borough’s 100th anniversary. For a complete audio account of the August 15 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.