The klieg lights shone brightly on Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW on the morning of May 21, 2014. In their ongoing effort to share county business with the residents of Bucks County, the board staged what one audience member termed “political theater” on the stage of the converted 1767 barn that is home to the Town & Country Players. The intimate Buckingham Township facility provided the backdrop for the approval of 18 contract resolutions involving 13 county departments.
The agenda featured several highlights, including the preservation of the 164th farm in the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. The J. Philip and Joy N. Johnson Farm is a 34.28-acre crop farm located on Stoney Hill Rd. in Solebury Township. The county’s portion of the conservation easement is $215,964 plus settlement charges and adjustments (70 percent of the total cost, of which 30 percent will be paid by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). According to county Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey, the Johnson Farm grows hay and wheat and is located within a mile of 1,000 previously preserved acres. The Agricultural Preservation total stands at 13,860 acres, with a goal of 17,000 by the end of 2017.
For the Planning Commission, the board unanimously approved submission and acceptance of a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) grant application through the Transportation and Community Development Initiative program for the Cross Keys area. The contract is a $100,000 revenue item. According to county Chief Clerk/Executive Planning Commission Director, the grant will help fund a collaborative effort that involves four municipalities – Doylestown Borough, Doylestown Township, Buckingham Township and Plumstead Township. The project will study ways to alleviate traffic problems in the area of Old Easton Rd. (Rte. 611) and Swamp Rd. (Rte. 313).
Phase II of the $3.74 million Churchville Nature Center expansion project continues in Northampton Township. The board revised a $117,963,56 contract with Phillips & Donovan Architects, LLC of Bedminster to complete the final phase of the project, which is on target for completion during the facility’s 50th anniversary later this year.
For the recently renamed Housing & Community Development department, the commissioners approved submission of the annual action plan to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $2.67 million for the annual CDBG, HOME and ESG program funding.
The board also approved the purchase of 40 new computers for the Prothonotary office, 16 laptop computers for detectives in the District Attorney’s office, and 36 tablet personal computers for case workers in the Area Agency on Aging (AAA). The county AAA also was recognized during the proclamation phase of the meeting, as Chairman Loughery deemed May, 2014 “Older Americans Month” throughout the County of Bucks. Accepting the proclamation were AAA Director Najja Orr and the AAA Advisory Council’s Frances Reaman. Mr. Orr thanked the commissioners for their “tremendous, tremendous support” of the agency’s 57 employees and the work they do on a daily basis on behalf of the senior community.
The board unanimously approved a one-year, $210,927.12 Emergency Communications annual service agreement with Motorola Solutions for technical support and repair of the county’s radio system.
Only one contract resolution did not pass by a 3-0 margin. Commissioner Martin questioned a $100,000 Mental Health/Developmental Programs contract increase for residential services with Horizon House, Inc. of Philadelphia “to provide additional staffing for individuals needing supervision.”
The meeting also featured the annual recognition of the Bucks County High School Poet Laureate. The 2014 honoree is Devin Kawailani Barricklow, a junior at Pennsbury High School. She recited her poem, “Drywall.”
During his bi-weekly report, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler thanked county employees and poll workers involved in Tuesday’s General Primary election. According to Ms. Bush, turnout reports show that 11.25 percent of registered Republican voters participated, and 19.17 percent of Democrat voters exercised their right to vote. Mr. Hessenthaler also reminded residents that the best source for polling place locations throughout the county is the official website, www.BucksCounty.org, which listed all 304 sites for the May 20 election. He concluded his report by congratulating the Bucks County Youth Center and director Ted Rice for becoming the first juvenile detention facility in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to earn Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) compliance.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, at the Quakertown branch of the Bucks County Free Library (James A. Michener Room, Mark Schweiker Room, 401 Mill St., Quakertown). For a complete audio account of the May 21 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.