Venturing to one of Bucks County's most treasured landmarks, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners conducted its second June business meeting at Our Lady of Czestochowa in New Britain Township on the morning of June 19. Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, joined county division leaders and department heads as well as members of the public to receive greetings from Father Jan Michalak. He spoke of the Shrine's historic significance, which includes a 1969 visit from the Cardinal who later became Pope John Paul II. "This Shrine is open for everybody," Father Jan told the assemblage.
The business portion of the agenda featured the unanimous approval of 33 contract resolutions for 14 different county departments. Commissioner Martin was particularly pleased to vote for a 71-acre Municipal Open Space grant in Plumstead Township. According to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, the two properties in question are located on Silo Hill Rd., near Rte. 611. They are situated close to previously preserved land, as well as Groveland Elementary. Plumstead Township Supervisor Stacey Mulholland thanked the commissioners for their ongoing commitment to municipal land preservation, adding that the two tracks previously were targeted for single-home and townhouse/condominium development.
The board signed off on three contracts to provide senior center services (in Warminster, Fairless Hills and Middletown), approved a $436,594 revenue item from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development for the Emergency Solutions Grant to provide funding for shelter and re-housing programs over the next two years, and agreed to a $538,005 federal grant for the county Department of Health's Public Health Preparedness Program. The board also agreed to reallocate funding to seven Mental Health/Developmental Programs service providers.
For the Planning Commission, the board approved a one-year, $143,911 contract to provide funding for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). It also approved a $56,422 revenue item with the DVRPC to provide public transit planning services.
Following Father Jan's warm greeting, Chairman Loughery issued a proclamation designating July 21-27, 2013 as "Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week" throughout the County of Bucks. He added that "Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week is a time to recognize and celebrate the dedicated individuals in our community who work tirelessly to make our neighborhoods safer," thanking Chief Probation Officer Sean Ryan and his staff for their daily public safety efforts.
The commissioners also enjoyed a presentation about the annual "Fresh from Bucks County Farms" booklet that is produced by the Penn State Cooperative Extension office. It features information on 72 different Bucks County farms that offer the best in local produce, wines, Christmas trees and other items.
According to Scott Guiser of the Cooperative Extension, this is the 17th year the Fresh from Bucks County Farms booklet has been produced. It is available to view on the official county website,www.BucksCounty.org, and copies can be acquired at the Commissioners' Office of Public Information window (5th floor, Courthouse). Mr. Guiser noted that June is strawberry season, prompting Commissioner Martin to comment that he should have brought some with him. Moments later, Mr. Guiser returned with a fresh bushel of strawberries for each of the commissioners.
The bulk of public comment focused on the county's Dependent Eligibility Audit, which will conclude its final grace period for employees at the end of this month. Chairman Loughery offered a detailed explanation of the process, which revealed that approximately four (4) percent of the county's dependents did not qualify for coverage (which, as a result, has been terminated). Commissioner Marseglia added that the verification of qualified dependents "had to start somewhere. I'm glad that we at least started it."
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 6 p.m. (night meeting) on Wednesday, July 17, 2013, at Peace Valley Park's Lakeview North Pavilion No. 5
New Galena Rd., Doylestown. For a complete audio account of the June 19 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.