On the morning of Monday, January 4, 2016, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW passed the county government baton – to themselves. During a 50-minute ceremony moderated by President Judge Jeffrey L. Finley, the Board of Commissioners joined elected row officers Dr. Joseph Campbell, coroner, Mary Smithson, Clerk of Courts, Don Petrille, Esq., Register of Wills, and Thomas Panzer, newly elected treasurer, to take the oath of office in the spacious new Commissioners’ Meeting Room (former Courtroom 1 of the Bucks County Courthouse). All three of the commissioners earned re-election during the Nov. 3, 2015 Municipal Election.
“It was a little surprising walking into what was formerly Courtroom 1,” President Judge Finley said, referring to the 15-by-10-foot video projection screen that now adorns the back wall of the space and can be controlled by adjustable cameras on both walls. “It makes me a little nervous to be on camera for a close up. But I welcome you, and wish you a happy, healthy prosperous New Year. It’s great to see the support of so many of you.”
The ceremony included a superb rendition of the National Anthem by the Central Bucks High School East choir, which was noteworthy because both Chairman Loughery and President Judge Finley are graduates of the Buckingham Township secondary school. The Anthem was followed by an invocation by Jeff Supp, Senior Pastor of Calvary Church.
Traditional commissioners’ remarks included Chairman Loughery’s expression of faith and commitment to “give all thanks to God, and to acknowledge that before all of you.” The chairman, who has served the last four years in that role, reflected on the 2012 Inauguration ceremony and Facebook memory pictures of his family, which includes wife Kathy and daughters Grace, Evelyn and Amelia. “Time flies. It’s in the blink of an eye,” he said. “What an honor and privilege it is to serve in this position. I really need to cherish the time.” His oath of office was administered by the Hon. Rea B. Boylan.
Chairman Loughery referenced a letter “to the new commissioner” he received back in January, 2012 from former commissioner and former Pennsylvania Lieutenant Gov. Jim Cawley, who was in attendance for the ceremony. In the letter, Lt. Gov. Cawley deemed the commissioners’ office “a rare and awesome responsibility and honor.”Current Chairman Loughery expressed his feeling that being a commissioner is “incredible, only because of the many things we get to be a part of.” He specifically mentioned preserving farms, helping children and elderly, court functions, Corrections, maintaining bridges, mental health and drug and alcohol services, economic development initiatives, and the current Code Blue cold weather declaration.
Commissioner Marseglia, noting that Bucks County is in her blood for eight generations, opened her third term as commissioner by “pledging to you that I am going to work on my agenda.” That ongoing effort includes significant work on issues like child welfare, reducing and eliminating the tragedies of addiction, increased access to mental health care, and reduction of the Corrections population. She also has served as chair of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and was instrumental in founding the Bucks County Suicide Prevention Task Force.
She described her approach as “leather and lace,” adding that as an elected official you “can’t always be tough, but you can’t always be easy.” She spoke of the need to connect the dots in serving the residents of Bucks County, particularly those whose lives have suffered “missteps and intercepts.”
Commissioner Marseglia also referred to the “fighting in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. In Bucks County, we are able to govern together. We have learned to compromise.” Her oath of office was administered for the third consecutive time by District Justice Daniel Baranoski.
Commissioner Martin, the longest serving commissioner in Bucks County annals (since May 22, 1995), began his sixth full term by recognizing outgoing Treasurer William Snyder, who is leaving office after 36 years of service in that role. The veteran commissioner reflected on the 2000 Inauguration, at which time the Y2K computer scare had just been quelled. He recalled initiatives such as the new Neshaminy Manor long-term care facility, the proposed new morgue and crime lab, the Neshaminy Creek flood study, the reuse of Johnsville Naval Air Station, and of course the Justice Center complex project that was completed during January, 2015.
He broke down County government into three distinct segments: constituents who receive services; employees who provide those services; and the taxpayers who pay for the services. He concluded with a quote from late baseball great Yogi Berra, who opined: “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else.”
Dr. Campbell, who has served as coroner since 2000 and is beginning his fifth term in that role, recited his oath of office with family members and President Judge Finley. Dr. Campbell was recently elected vice president for the Pennsylvania State Coroner Association.
Register of Wills Petrille begins his second term in that capacity, having focused on modernization efforts in his busy office. His oath also was administered by President Judge Finley. During his first term, the office launched a new, modern case management system and created a system to initiate marriage applications online. A resident of Bedminster Township, he is a practicing attorney.
Clerk of Courts Smithson has served in that role since 1996, overseeing the operations of the one of the County’s busiest offices. The Hon. Brian McGuffin administered her oath of office, as she held her family Bible. Mrs. Smithson has served as president of the PA State Association of Clerk of Courts and Prothonotaries, as well as chair of both the Bucks County Industrial Development Authority and the County Records Improvement Committee.
The newest row officer, Mr. Panzer replaces 36-year office holder Bill Snyder as County treasurer. A former Warminster Township supervisor, he is a practicing attorney and managing partner of McNamara, Bolla and Panzer, a Bucks County small business.
Click the images on the page for larger views, or watch the Inauguration Photo Gallery Video