Each year during March, organizations around Bucks County host a food drive known as Operation Helping Hand. This one-day event helps to stock the cupboards of food banks around the very diverse communities that comprise Bucks. This year’s event, to be conducted on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, is coordinated by the United Way of Bucks County and the Bucks County Opportunity Council.
During their March 2 meeting, Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW issued a proclamation in support of Operation Helping Hand. Non-perishable goods such as peanut butter, soup, canned fruit and vegetables, rice, beans and pasta can be dropped off at a variety of locations – including the Bucks County Justice Center (100 N. Main St., Doylestown) and the Bucks County Administration Building (55 E. Court St., Doylestown). According to Danielle Bush of the United Way, this year’s ambitious goal is 65,000 pounds of food through participation in schools, businesses and other offices.
After Commissioner Martin issued the Operation Helping Hand proclamation, Chairman Loughery declared March, 2016 Hunger and Nutrition Awareness Month throughout the county. The Hunger Nutrition Coalition (HNC) of Bucks County was created in July, 2001 after the League of Women voters convened a Nutrition Task Force, consisting of fourteen (14) county social service agencies. HNC will report its 2015 survey findings of nearly 1,500 individuals in need and strategies for food collaborative results at its Hunger Forum, to be held on March 9, 2016 at Delaware Valley University. Entitled “Planting the Seeds of Partnership” the forum will feature information sharing, facilitated discussions, and keynote presentations.
The brief resolution portion of the meeting featured the unanimous approval of 16 contracts involving 11 County departments. For the Children & Youth Social Services Agency, the board approved a one-year, $569,227 contract renewal with Access Services of Fort Washington, PA for specialized foster care services for children with special needs. For Corrections, the commissioners agreed to a one-year, $69,818 contract with Doylestown’s VITA Education Services to provide various workshops and programs at the correctional facilities.
The board approved a pair of one-year Finance insurance contracts relating to General Liability, Professional Liability and Mcare Assessment ($143,786 with PELICAN Insurance of Harrisburg, PA) for nearly 500 employees at the Neshaminy Manor long-term care facility and coverage for Public Officials & Employment Practices Liability ($123,016 with Western World Insurance Co. of Franklin Lakes, NJ).
The commissioners also agreed to terminate a roof replacement contract for work at 30 and 55 E. Court St. locations with Milestone Construction Management of Philadelphia. The County will be credited $591,996 of the original $763,000 contract originally awarded on July 22, 2015.
In addition to a one-year, $59,408 agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) for a Hazardous Material Response fund grant, the board approved three contracts for Neshaminy Manor services and products and a $5,000 revenue item with Plumstead Township to have the Bucks County Planning Commission prepare a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant application.
Commissioner Marseglia read a third proclamation, declaring March, 2016 as Intellectual Disability Awareness Month. According to statistics, between one and three percent of the population has an intellectual disability, which is characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills, typically originating before age 18.
During the bi-weekly chief operating officer’s report, COO Brian Hessenthaler noted that PEMA has forwarded its damage claims from the January, 2016 blizzard to federal authorities for reimbursement. He added that the county government stands to recoup about $70,000 from that event. Mr. Hessenthaler reminded residents of two upcoming events as well – the March 28, 2016 “last day to register” to vote in the April 26, 2016 General Primary election and the April 30, 2016 Medication Take Back event.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush announced the County’s first-ever Farm Summit, which will take place at the Perkasie campus of the Bucks County Community College on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 3-7 p.m. “This is part of our overall economic development program,” Ms. Bush said. Chairman Loughery also touted the Farm Summit, adding, “Agriculture (and agritourism and agribusiness) is still a very big driver of the Bucks County economy.” The chairman noted that nearly 10,000 Bucks Countians are involved in 4H programs – the most in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Bush also reported on the Planning Commission’s annual report of activity, which show growth in both proposed residential and non-residential projects for 2015 over 2014. In fact, residential development proposals more than doubled.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 16 in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room (first floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA. For a complete audio account of the March 2, 2016 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.