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2015 News

Commissioners Celebrate 67th Annual Middletown Grange Fair by Cresting 15,000 Preserved Farm Acres Milestone

August 14, 2015

For the last two-and-a-half decades, agricultural land preservation has been a priority for the Board of Bucks County Commissioners. Members of the board have come and gone during that period, but the totals of preserved farmland have continued to grow by an average of 500-1,000 acres per year. On Wednesday, August 12, 2015, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW added three properties totaling more than 130 acres to the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program – nudging the program’s preserved land base to 182 farms comprised of 15,060 acres.

Unveiling of the Agricultural Preservation Banner, marking over 15,000 acres“This is a special day,” said County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey, who has coordinated the program and the County Agricultural Land Preservation Board since its inception in 1989. After the commissioners voted unanimously to spend just over $525,000 to preserve the 24.91-acre Jacklin farm in Springfield Township and the 71.89- and 33.84-acre Crouse farms in Durham Township, they posed with former Commissioner Jim Cawley,Mr. Harvey and longtime Agricultural Preservation Board Chairman Manfred Marschewski for a photo opportunity with a banner trumpeting the 15,060-acre achievement.

Prior to the 90-minute business meeting, the commissioners joined 4-H members, dignitaries, fair officials and fairgoers to open the five-day event with the traditional raising of the American Flag. Once back in the Entertainment Tent, they helped 2014 Grange Fair Queen Danielle Sherman crown the 2015 queen, Rachel Burmeister. Representatives of the Penn State Cooperative Extension office also presented the three board members with fresh produce baskets filled with items from Bucks County farms.

Fred Groshens Farmer of the Year PresentationCommissioner Martin, who attended his 21st Grange Fair as a Bucks County commissioner, presented the 2015 Bucks County Conservation District (BCCD) “Fred Groshens Farmer of the Year Award” to representatives of the Peace Valley Equestrian Center. The trio of Bill and John Steinhauser along with MariaTaylor were commended for their implementation of several conservation measures and completion of a Forestry Stewardship Plan. In the future, they plan to plant trees to enhance the riparian area of an unnamed tributary of Lake Galena. According to BCCD Director Gretchen Schatschneider, the Peace Valley Equestrian Center is the first equine facility to win the Fred Groshens Award.

In addition to the aforementioned Agricultural Preservation items, the contract resolution portion of the agenda featured the approval of 58 agreements involving 20 County departments. Many of them involved Human Services departments, including 12 Area Agency on Aging (AAA) agreements to provide senior center services, eight agreements for Children & Youth Social Services, and six contracts with Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) that featured a one-year, $328,603 renewal with Child & Family Focus, Inc. to providerespite services to youth with mental health diagnoses.

At the Grange Fair Entertainment tent, decorated with baskets from local farmersUnder the commissioners’ aegis, there was a unanimous approval of a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program for the Mill Run property in Bristol Borough. That agreement was previously approved at the municipal level.

The commissioners unanimously approved a three-year, $2.866 million contract with National Medical Services, Inc. of Willow Grove to operate the Bucks County Forensic Crime Lab in Warminster. District Attorney David Heckler thanked the County staff that has manned the crime lab during past years, labeling it “the little crime lab that could.”

For the County Planning Commission, the commissioners accepted just over $160,000 from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission to provide transportation planning, public transit planning and GIS services for the period July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016.

Commissioner Marseglia cast a dissenting vote on two Finance renewals of insurance contracts, including $251,875 for annual Miscellaneous Professional Liability and annual Flood Insurance.

Crowning of the Grange Fair 2015 Queen by the 2014 QueenAs always, the meeting had an agrarian feel and theme. Officials from the local 4-H noted that membership in the organization has risen dramatically to 9,300 youth involved in its various programs. Chairman Loughery’s youngest daughter, Amelia, earned honors in the Goat Show for her handling of the goat Spencer.

In addition, staff of the Bucks County Community Corrections Facility presented a basket of produce that was grown at the minimum-security facility to officials from the Bucks County Opportunity Council. Superintendent Kevin Rousset noted it as a “way to give back to those less fortunate.” BCOC representatives noted their organizational belief that “it takes a community to feed our friends and neighbors in need.”

Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler offered four items in his bi-weekly report. He announced Saturday, Oct. 10 as the date for the County’s 9th Pandemic Flu Drill, which will offer free seasonal flu shots at three locations (Pennridge North Middle School, Neshaminy High and Central Bucks South) from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Mr. Hessenthaler also spoke of the ongoing Pennsylvania state budget impasse, which will require $7-9 million per month from Bucks County’s budget to fill the gap. “It’s a frustrating situation all around,” Mr. Hessenthaler stated. He also touted the rollout of the County’s text-to-9-1-1 system for the carriers Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. He noted that it is “still better to call” in the event of an emergency. Finally, Mr. Hessenthaler told attendees that that County’s old mainframe computer system was decommissioned on Friday, August 7.

The Grange Flags flying after opening ceremoniesChief Clerk Lynn Bush reported on the upcoming designation of the Butler Ave. corridor in central Bucks as Business Route 202, which will join Business Route 1 as Bucks County roads with that distinction.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, at The Barn at Tinicum Park, River Rd. (Rte. 32), Erwinna, PA. For a complete audio account of the August 12, 2015 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.