On a scorching late spring morning, Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW conducted business June 18 in a converted classroom on the banks of Middletown Township’s Lake Luxembourg. Hosted by local service provider Today Inc., the meeting featured the tip from Today CEO John Howell that a nest of bald eagles lurked just over the water in the background. During his welcoming remarks, Mr. Howell told the commissioners that the organization has been serving the community for the last 43 years. He also thanked the commissioners for their support over the last five decades.
The meeting opened with one presentation, a 30-second public service announcement video on the dangers of opiate drug/heroin use that will be shown in five Bucks County movie theater chains during PG-13 and R rated movies in the month of July. Commissioner Marseglia thanked those involved with the project, including Ron Bernstein of Foundations Community Partnership and Diane Rosati of the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. “The number one abused drug in Bucks County is heroin,” Mrs. Rosati stated. “This is a problem that has taken years to develop.” Mrs. Rosati mentioned four initiatives that are in place to address the problem, including the new public service announcement, the bi-annual Medication Take Back events throughout the county, increased access to opiate treatment, and the confidential District Attorney tip line that has been put in place.
The Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program added 42.58 acres to its rolls with the preservation of the 166th farm, the James L. and Gail J. Crooke Farm in Perkasie (Bedminster Township). A hay farm, it lies adjacent to a previously preserved farm and within one mile of 800 previously preserved acres. According to County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey, the farm supplies hay to mushroom growers in Chester County. Chairman Loughery also noted that he drives by the Crooke farm “almost every day on my way to work.” The farm preservation lifts the County total to 13,936 acres with a goal of 17,000 by the conclusion of 2017.
For the Emergency Communications/Narrowbanding Project, the board unanimously approved a 15-year, $379,417.84 (plus utilities, taxes and road maintenance) contract for a tower site in Buckingham Township to deploy and install emergency radio equipment. The commissioners hailed the contract as a key component of the narrowbanding conversion that is ongoing.
County Emergency Health Director Jeryl DeGideo thanked the board for approving a pair of contract, one a $27,407.75 agreement with Safeware, Inc. of Landover, MD to purchase Gas Alert Clips for emergency medical service vehicles, and the other a $26,565 contract to provide CPR Meters for emergency medical responders. According to Mrs. DeGideo, “These [devices] are going to save lives.”
The General Services portion of the agenda featured 14 items, one of which – a $26,797.50 contract increase for Justice Center construction administration services for April, 2014 – was tabled. The board did approve six change orders for the new Justice Center with project General Contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. of Philadelphia by a 2-1 margin (Commissioner Marseglia dissented on all six items). Also in the General Services realm, the recent purchase of a Ford hybrid electric vehicle was highlighted. The car was parked outside the meeting room for attendees to view.
In the Human Services realm, the board approved $27.768 million of projected revenue from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare. The money is part of the County’s participation in the Human Services Block Grant Program. County Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler stated in his report that county officials are monitoring state budget negotiations over the next several weeks.
Commissioner Marseglia also voted against a pair of Area Agency on Aging (AAA) contracts, one a $10,000 agreement with Lenape Valley Foundation to provide a Senior Empowerment for Life Fulfillment demonstration program and the other a five-year, $750,000 contract renewal through June 30, 2019 for the same program.
For Doylestown Township, the board unanimously signed off on a $310,204 Municipal Open Space grant for a 10.98-acre parcel that lies near Delaware Valley College. Doylestown Township Manager Stephanie Mason thanked the board for the approval, adding, “This will be a wonderful asset to the Open Space program and to Doylestown Township.”
During her bi-weekly report, Chief Clerk Lynn T. Bush reminded residents of upcoming opportunities to recycle household hazardous waste and electronic items. Those dates can be accessed through the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, on the Recycling page.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at Playwicki Park, Maple Ave., Langhorne, PA. For a complete audio account of the June 18 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.