The Board of Bucks County Commissioners conducted a brisk, 70-minute meeting in the Courthouse Community Room on the morning of Wednesday, March 5. The agenda featured three proclamations and the approval of 34 contract resolutions involving 16 County departments. It was highlighted by two significant land preservations (one farm and one open space through a Natural Areas program grant) and four General Services items related to Phase 2 of the Churchville Nature Center Addition.
According to General Services Project Manager Kevin Spencer, Phase 2 of the Churchville project includes replacement of the roof of an existing building, and the addition of a large community lecture hall. The resolutions approved unanimously include a $1.395 million general construction agreement with Boyle Construction II of Allentown, a $9,800 plumbing contract with Chris Wolff Plumbing, Inc. of Perkasie, a $352,000 HVAC contract with Gaudelli Bros., Inc. of Millville, NJ, and a $194,425 electrical contract with Hyde Electric Corporation of Philadelphia. Commissioner Charles H. Martin asked Mr. Spencer if this work will signal the completion of the project, and the answer was, “Yes.”
County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey presented the 60.085-acre Cochrane Farm in Springfield Township as the 163rd farm to receive an agricultural conservation easement since the program’s inception in 1989. Commissioners Martin, Robert G. Loughery (chairman), and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW unanimously approved the County’s $378,535.50 portion of the contract. The Cochrane Farm is located within a one-mile radius of 1,000 previously preserved acres. A working farm, it includes 30 acres of hay, 10 acres of Christmas trees, and 10 acres of nursery stock. Mr. Harvey indicated that the farm waiting list has 46 properties in the queue. To date, the commissioners have preserved a total of 13,860 acres through the program.
The County Open Space program added 54.58 acres with the addition of the Keller property in Richland Township. The board approved $197,853 (or just over $7,000 per acre based on 50 percent of the average appraised value). The property is located on Gross Rd., and it is bisected by the Tohickon Creek, according to County Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson.
The commissioners approved six Children & Youth resolutions, including a one-year, $724,000 contract renewal with the YWCA of Bucks County (Trevose) to provide Life Skills, Camps and Literacy programs and a one-year, $277,865 contract with Network of Victim Assistance, Inc. (Jamison) to provide various types of counseling and services to victims of abuse.
Vehicle purchases also were the order of the day, as the commissioners voted to add 13 different cars, vans and SUVs to the fleet. Those additions include a 2014 Chevrolet pick-up and a 2014 Chevrolet dump truck for General Services, and five vehicles for use by Sheriff’s deputies – two Chevrolet Express 8-passenger vans, one Chevrolet Impala Limited Police sedan, one Chevrolet Express 12-passenger van, and one Chevrolet Express Extended Cargo van. Commissioner Martin expressed eagerness to drive a 2104 Ford Fusion Energi Hybrid that was added to the General Services fleet.
Commissioner Marseglia voted against a pair of change orders relating to the new Bucks County Justice Center. Both agreements –through project general contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. - passed by a 2-1 margin. The first is a $25,456 contract increase for the Armory restoration involving windows and soffit framing; the second is a $20,444 contract increase to support terracotta walls in the lobby of the building. Chairman Loughery noted that the Justice Center project is progressing well, adding that another media tour of the facility will be in the works soon.
The commissioners also approved a $78,176 contract with Family Service Association of Langhorne to cover expenses for the Homeless Hotline system. According to County HMIS Administrator Emma Weisser, that hotline receives almost 400 calls per months. Later in the meeting, Chief Clerk Lynn Bush noted that the County’s January 29 “Point in Time” homeless count identified 524 residents – a figure that is higher than previous counts.
The meeting opened with three proclamations. Commissioner Martin opened by declaring March 2014 “Hunger and Nutrition Awareness Month.” The Bucks County Hunger Nutrition Coalition (HNC) will report its 2013 survey findings and strategies for food collaborative results at its Hunger Forum, to be held on March 21, 2014 at Delaware Valley College. Entitled “In Our Backyard” the forum will feature information sharing, facilitated discussions, and keynote presentations by committed partners in the community.
Commissioner Marseglia recognized March 6 as “Resiliency Awareness Day.” This year’s Resiliency Conference theme is “Finding Hope and Overcoming Barriers.” The conference will be held on March 6 at Spring Mill Manor, and more than 350 residents are registered to participate.
Commissioner Loughery wrapped up the ceremonial portion of the meeting by proclaiming Wednesday, March 12 as “Operation Helping Hand” throughout the County of Bucks. The Bucks County Chapter of the United Way encouraged all residents to participate in the one-day food collections. Drop-off boxes will be located in the 2nd floor lobby of the Courthouse as well as the Lower Bucks (Levittown) and Upper Bucks (Quakertown) Government Services centers. Last year these collections provided more than 149,000 Bucks County residents in emergency need with 30,363 pounds of food through 10 food cupboards and two residential programs.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler offered congratulations to the administration and staff of the County’s Neshaminy Manor Long-Term Care facility, which recently earned acclaim by U.S. News and World Report as one of the country’s top nursing homes.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room, 1st Floor, Doylestown, PA. For a complete audio account of the March 5 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.