Commissioners Visit Ivyland Borough June 5 to Commemorate the Borough's 140th Anniversary
During a two-hour, 20-minute business meeting on June 5, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners paid a visit to one of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's smallest boroughs, the quaint and charming Borough of Ivyland. In advance of the Borough's 140th anniversary celebration, which will take place from noon-8 p.m. on Saturday, June 22, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, issued a proclamation honoring the municipality inside Borough Hall. It was entirely fitting, as Commissioner Martin grew up in Ivyland.
The board also approved 56 contract resolutions involving 17 county departments, while unanimously tabling three other items. Prominent approvals included $27.663 million projected revenue from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare for the second year of the Human Services Block Grant Plan, three change orders with Justice Center General Contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. of Philadelphia ($107,642 for steel modifications, $46,167 for window system support, and $72,654 for removal of temporary heating units and winter protection), and a $310,204 Municipal Open Space Improvement Grant for Doylestown Township to construct a multi-use trail which will connect to the Rte. 202 Parkway Trail. Commissioner Marseglia voted against all three Justice Center change orders - which bring the general contracting total of contract amendments to 23. According to County Director of Operations Jerry Anderson, the Justice Center construction is 53 percent complete, and the structural steel has all been placed. One of the next prominent developments will be the installation of the first windows.
The commissioners unanimously voted to abolish the office of Jury Commissioner, effective December 31, 2013. They also received an update on the County Open Space referendum of 2007, which has produced 58 grants to date totaling $10 million and involving 10 municipalities. Of that total, reported County Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, $7.9 million has gone for land acquisition, with $2 million dedicated to improvements. Commissioner Martin pointed out that he feels the spirit of the program is the acquisition of previously unpreserved land. He asked Ms. Kern to relay that message to the County Open Space Review Board.
In the Children & Youth Social Services realm, the board unanimously tabled a 13-month, $175,000 contract with K/S Consultants, Inc. of Warrington for a "transition to foster care" program. For Courts, it unanimously tabled a five-year, $319,500 expenditure for lease and real estate taxes for District Court 07-1-02 in Bristol in order to scrutinize the agreement more closely. The board also voted 3-0 to table a $165,000 plus settlement charges to buyout a flood-prone property in Bensalem Township.
Commissioner Marseglia also voted against two Children & Youth contracts, and Commissioner Martin opposed a Behavioral Health contract for the Youth Mental Health First Aid Program to individuals in the Neshaminy School District.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler deferred the bulk of his bi-monthly report to County Director of Human Resources Meredith Dolan, who provided an update on the County's recently completed Dependent Eligibility Audit. According to Mrs. Dolan, the audit revealed that the County has 1,728 employees with dependents, for a total number of 3,798 dependents. The audit produced a 99.19 percent participation rate, which was one of the highest the coordinating company, HMS, has seen. Of the 192 total benefit terminations, 74 involved spouses and 118 involved children. A total of 27 of those 192 terminations have been re-verified over the last five weeks. The audit produced an annual projected savings of $610,611 starting in 2014, or a balance of approximately $370,000 for the remainder of 2013 (the audit concluded in April). The commissioners thanked the Human Resources staff for coordinating the audit.
The meeting opened with an array of proclamations and commendations. Chairman Loughery opened by saluting the 2013 County High School Poet Laureate, Meghan Jusczak of Central Bucks East High School, who was selected out of more than 145 Bucks County high school students who submitted entries to the judging panel. Ms. Jusczak, who will attend the University of Delaware following her graduation, read one of her poems for the standing-room only audience.
The commissioners presented three of the Bucks County Conservation District's annual awards. Mr Donald West of Bristol was selected the recipient of the 2013 Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD) "Individual Conservation Award." His service as a volunteer at the Silver Lake Nature Center (SLNC) includes 11 years - nine of which he earned Century Club (100 or more hours in a year) distinction and two in which he earned Millennium Club (1,000 or more hours in a year) honors. Mr. West is known affectionately around Silver Lake Nature Center as "Three T-Man" - which stands for trees, trails and trash.
The Conservation Organization of the Year Award went to Heritage Conservancy, which collaborated in 2011 with a group of concerned residents to establish the Quakertown Swamp Amphibian Crossings, a project aimed to help provide safe passage for amphibians during breeding season.
The commissioners presented the George M. Bush Farmland Preservation Award to Mrs. Gloria Hall, who during the 1980's started the Friends of the Farmstead to preserve Newtown Township's Peter Taylor Farmstead. The 113-acre farmstead, located on Wrights Rd., is considered the first wave of the 156 farms preserved by the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program since 1989. Nominations for the BCCD annual awards are available every fall, through the organization's website, www.bucksccd.org.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Visitor's Center Conference Room, 654 Ferry Rd, Doylestown, PA 18902. For a complete audio account of the June 5 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.