On a morning featuring gentle breezes and characterized by Bucks County Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery as one for which "we couldn't ask for a better day weather wise," the Board of Bucks County Commissioners paid its annual visit to the Middletown Grange Fair. The bi-monthly business meeting featured the crowning of the 2013 Grange Fair Queen, Madison Ochoco, recognition of more than 9,000 Bucks County 4-H participants, and a proclamation to the first responders and community organizers who have been part of the July 26 fire catastrophe at the Racquet Club Apartments in Middletown Township.
The business portion of the meeting featured the approval of 98 contract resolutions involving 22 county departments, including the 159th and 160th farm preservations for the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program and 39 Mental Health/Developmental Programs agreements totaling approximately $25 million.
At 10 a.m., the commissioners joined Grange Fair officials, the Guardians of the Washington Crossing National Cemetery and 4-H members to open the fair with the traditional flag raising and Star-Spangled Banner. The start of the business meeting also featured the annual presentation of farm baskets filled with Bucks County produce to the commissioners by the Penn State Cooperative Extension. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the fair, which has been celebrated annually at its current Wrightstown Township location since 1967.
State Rep. Frank Farry and members of the William Penn Fire Company accepted a proclamation on behalf of the community in the aftermath of last month's apartment fire, which affected 42 occupied apartments. "I am so proud of the community outpouring," Rep. Farry stated, adding efforts to help those displaced by the fire represented "Bucks County pride at its best."
County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey presented the two farms for consideration - the 56.14-acre Scheetz farm on Durham Rd. in Nockamixon Township, and the 97.23-acre Shull farm on Groveland Rd. in Plumstead Township. The Scheetz farm is a county/state funded preservation that marks the program's fifth farm in Nockamixon Twp., and the county's portion of the easement cost is $202,014 plus settlement charges and adjustments. The farm contains headwaters of the Rapp Creek. The Shull farm is a dairy farm that ranked 8th of 55 farm applications in 2012. It is also noteworthy because the land was purchased by proceeds from a previous county farm preservation. The family plans to purchase additional land for future preservation. The two farms bring the county agricultural land preservation total to 160 farms encompassing 13,668 acres (seeking to reach 17,000 acres by 2017).
The board approved 11 service contracts for the Area Agency on Aging, each of them pertaining to home services for residents. It unanimously tabled a contract for inmate telecommunication services at the county correctional facilities for more information about the agreement. For the Emergency Management department, the board approved updates to the Bucks County Emergency Operations Plan.
Discussion of General Services' contracts included seven change orders with general contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. According to Chairman Loughery, the original $58 million contract with Bock & Sons includes allowances and contingencies. He also noted that the project is between 50-60 percent complete and "still on budget." Commissioner Marseglia voted against six of the General Services items, including a $52,000 per month contract extension to provide construction management for up to 14 months with Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc. of Lawrenceville, NJ. The commissioners also approved listing the sale of County property located at 108 N. Main St. in Doylestown with Green Street Commercial Real Estate of Doylestown.
Commissioner Marseglia also voted against renewal of the county annual Flood Insurance policy ($34,892). Commissioner Martin opposed a one-year, $808,647 contract renewal with Horizon House, Inc. of Philadelphia to provide residential services for individuals with mental health diagnoses. Both contracts passed by a 2-1 margin.
The board also approved a $45,000 Municipal Open Space Grant for Morrisville Borough, and signed off on a $250,536 Municipal Open Space Program grant for a 38.55-acre easement in Warwick Township on behalf of Ellen and Edward Atkinson. For the Treasurer's office, the board approved a contract with American Heritage Federal Credit Union to provide surcharge free ATM services in the 2nd floor (Court St.) entrance to the Courthouse.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reminded residents that the county's 8th Annual Pandemic Flu Drill will take place on Saturday, September 28 at four walk-in locations around the county (link flyer). According to county Health Director Dr. David Damsker, the drill will offer free seasonal flu shots for residents ages 3 and up from 11 a.m-2 p.m. To simulate emergency preparedness, the county will ask that no bags be brought into any of the four sites. Mr. Hessenthaler also noted that the county will conduct another prescription drug take back event on Saturday, October 26 at locations throughout Bucks. The county Sheriff's department is also collecting unwanted prescription drugs at its table in the Grange Fair tent.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 4, 2013, at Pennswood Village, 1382 Newtown-Langhorne Road, Langhorne. For a complete audio account of the August 14 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the "Audio from Last Mtg" link on the home page.