Visiting another of Bucks County’s scenic wineries to conduct a business meeting, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners traveled down Rte. 202 to Solebury Township’s New Hope Winery for their July 30 session. The winery, which produces over 20 different wines, is a popular destination for weddings, and its converted warehouse serves as a concert hall for a variety of acts that fill a busy and diverse entertainment schedule.
In their ongoing effort to move business meetings to different venues around Bucks County, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW previously conducted business at Sand Castle Winery, Crossing Vineyards (twice) and Rose Bank Winery. At the outset of the July 30 meeting, New Hope Winery General Manager Michael Conti welcomed the board and other county officials/administrators who traveled out of the Courthouse on a cool summer morning.
The meeting featured the approval of 28 contract resolutions involving 13 County departments. One of the first approvals was a one-year, $700,000 amendment to the sub-sublease for operation of the Lower Bucks Public Safety Training Center. The Training Center, which opened its doors during the fall of 2011, is operated by the Bucks County Community College and features state-of-the-art fire training programs for first responders. The agreement will provide a quarterly appropriation to the Community College rather than a reimbursement agreement.
The County’s Emergency Communications “Narrowbanding” project continued to progress with the approval of a 12-year lease agreement for a tower site in Holland Township, NJ with Industrial Communications Co. of Easton, PA. The contract, which totals $600,760.89 plus utilities, will enhance tower communication in the upper portions of Bucks County for emergency communicators.
The General Services portion of the agenda featured four General Contracting change orders for the new Bucks County Justice Center with Ernest Bocks and Sons, Inc. of Philadelphia. All four contracts were approved by a 2-1 margin, with Commissioner Marseglia dissenting. They included a $13,506 contract increase for blackout paint behind the interior terracotta joints, a $2,198 contract increase for minor drywall repairs necessitate by code changes involving the facility’s doors, a $17,270 contract increase for terrazzo (floor) application on level 2 of the building, and a $27,233 contract increase for terrazzo application on level 3 of the facility. County Director of Operations Jerry Anderson noted that the latest change orders place the project at 3.3 percent over original contract costs.
The commissioners approved $144,305 of grant funding revenue to provide the Women, Infant & Children (WIC) program through the Health Department. The WIC program is funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
At the request of the County Open Space Preservation Board, the commissioners approved a $17,000 Municipal Open Space Program grant for a 17.84-acre parcel on the Casey property in Richland Township. The parcel, located on Union Rd., is an active equine facility that features a portion of the Tohickon Creek. The County will pay 11 percent of the appraised value for the easement.
Commissioner Marseglia also voted against a pair of Finance contracts, the first a one-year, $259,725 contract renewal with Admiral Insurance Company of Cherry Hill, NJ for annual Miscellaneous Professional Liability Insurance, the other a one-year, $25,042 renewal of the annual Flood Insurance Policy for several properties.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler extended congratulations to County Clerk of Courts Mary Smithson for her unanimous election as president of the Pennsylvania Association of Prothonotaries and Clerks of Court. He also officially welcomed former Bucks County Opportunity Council Executive Director Roger Collins to his new role as director of the County Housing and Community Development department. Mr. Collins assumed his new duties on Monday, July 28.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush provided an update on transportation funding plans in Bucks County following last week’s meeting of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). She noted some highlights that will benefit residents such as U.S. Rte. 1 improvements and the upcoming Pennsylvania Turnpike/I-95 connector that has been in the works for years.
Commissioner Marseglia called on her colleagues to support a letter to Bucks County state senators and representatives to support federal HR 3717, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act.” Commissioners Loughery and Martin agreed to sign the letter, part of which reads, “The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act recognizes the needs of persons with serious mental illnesses, such as chronic and persistent schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major clinical depression.”
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 13, 2014, at the Middletown Grange Fair No. 684, 576 Penns Park Rd., Wrightstown. For a complete audio account of the July 30 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.