The sounds of teenage excitement filled the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room on the morning of Wednesday, December 4, as Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, proclaimed the occasion “Neshaminy Girls Soccer State Champions Day” throughout the county. The members of the undefeated Lady ‘Skins team (25-0 record this fall) wore their gold state championship medals, and head coach Rachel Clemens cradled the team trophy and its silver soccer ball hardware.
“We are thrilled to come here,” the fourth-year head coach Clemens told the commissioners, who were missing board member Charles H. Martin. “These are Neshaminy’s finest female athletes. I like to call them ‘my perfect girls.’ “ En route to a state final, 2-1 overtime victory against Spring-Ford on November 16 in Hershey, the Lady ‘Skins posted 19 shutouts, won their second consecutive Suburban One National championship and the school’s first girls soccer District 1 crown. Chairman Loughery praised the team for its many laurels, noting that his three daughters play soccer. The Neshaminy girls concluded their appearance with a brief rendition of five original verses set to “The 12 Days of Christmas,” ending each one with a reference to their recent state championship.
After the team filed out of the Community Room, Commissioners Loughery and Marseglia unanimously approved a slate of 24 contract resolutions involving 13 county departments. The meeting lasted less than 45 minutes, but included several significant business items. For the Human Resources department, the commissioners agreed to a $34.409 million contract renewal with Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia to provide medical, prescription and vision coverage to county employees for the 2014 fiscal year. According to Chairman Loughery, the contract represents a $2.3 million (or 7.13 percent) increase over 2013.
The Emergency Communications department narrowbanding project continued with the approval of three contracts: a $1.290 million, 20-year lease agreement with Crown Atlantic Company, LLC of Canonsburg, PA for a tower site in Upper Saucon Township to deploy and install emergency radio equipment; another lease agreement with Crown Atlantic Company, LLC for a tower site in Haycock Township, and a $36,000/per 24 months, 15-year amendment with SpectraSite of Charlotte, NC for an existing tower site in New Hope Borough.
As fiscal year 2013 winds down (one more Commissioners’ Business Meeting is scheduled, on Wednesday, December 18), the county Municipal Open Space and Natural Areas programs met deadlines with three approvals. For Durham Township, the commissioners signed off on the county portion of a $286,122 Municipal Open Space Program grant for a 44.36-acre easement on the Hoffman property. According to county Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson, the Hoffman property is located near a cluster of previously preserved tracts and offers “significant scenic value.”
Partnering with the Tinicium Conservancy, the commissioners approved a $214,970 Natural Areas Program grant for 50 percent of the cost of preserving the 57.135-acre McCandless property in Nockamixon Township, as well as $183,717 for 50 percent of a 27-acre easement on the McNeill property on Tammany Rd. in Tinicum Township.
For the Parks & Recreation department, Commissioners Loughery and Marseglia approved the $26,468 purchase of a gas fired kiln for the historic Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown. The kiln will be provided by Bailey Pottery Equipment Corp. of Kingston, NY. Bucks County government is unique in that it owns and operates the only county government tile works in the United States.
In addition to the Neshaminy girls’ soccer proclamation, the commissioners recognized the annual Tree of Hope as the official symbol of recovery in the county. The 18-foot tree will be placed in the first floor atrium of the Courthouse and decorated with ornaments honoring those who have struggled with substance abuse addictions. Commissioner Marseglia read the proclamation, noting that she lost her brother during June of this year. The Tree of Hope ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18. “I try to go every year,” Commissioner Marseglia added.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reminded meeting attendees that the commissioners released the county’s preliminary 2014 budget on November 27. It is available on the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org. At 6 p.m. on Monday, December 9, the commissioners and Director of Finance & Administration David Boscola will conduct a public hearing on the preliminary budget in the Courthouse Community Room (1st Floor).
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush reported that she joined the commissioners and COO Hessenthaler last month at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) Fall Conference. During that event, she presented information of the revision of the Bucks County Comprehensive Plan.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 in the auditorium of the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, 3207 Street Rd., Bensalem. For a complete audio account of the December 4 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.