A capital project that was almost a decade in the making came to fruition on the morning of April 20, 2016, when the Bucks County Board of Commissioners joined County colleagues and friends of the Churchville Nature Center to cut the ribbon on the facility’s “green” expansion. Meeting in the spacious community room that will host events of all types over the ensuing decades, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW considered the visit a perfect lead up to the annual worldwide celebration of Earth Day.
After snipping the red, white and blue ribbon with oversized scissors, the board unanimously approved 32 contract resolutions involving 12 County departments – including a five-year, $28.95 million cooperative grant agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Dept. of Aging to provide federal and state funding for services through June 30, 2021.
“Churchville is the County’s oldest nature center (including Silver Lake and Peace Valley),” and we are pleased to cut the ribbon on this long-running project,” Chairman Loughery said. “But it’s a great project, and we have perfect weather for this.” The ribbon cutting closed the loop on a construction process that included a September, 2010 groundbreaking with Commissioners Martin and Ells-Marseglia and former Commissioner James F. Cawley, Esq.
Churchville Nature Center Naturalist Chris Stieber welcomed the elected officials from Doylestown, noting that the new facility allows his staff to take a “sky’s the limit” approach to programming for all ages. “I applaud the commissioners for supporting this project,” he added. “It is very substantial. This building is created in an ecological, sustainable way that might not be visible.” The green expansion includes many features that provide geothermal heat and cooling, offer recycled materials, and diminish water run off to the facility’s footprint.
In addition to four items the commissioners approved for the Area Agency on Aging, they voted to approve a one-year, $900,000 Children & Youth Social Services contract renewal with Tabor Children’s Services to provide life skills and support to facilitate the transition from foster care. C&Y Executive Director Lynne Rainey explained the program tailored for adolescents up to age 21 following questioning from Commissioner Martin.
The commissioners also approved 13 resolutions for the General Services department – among them nine engineering agreements to provide consultation services as needed. Those five-year contracts are capped at $35,000 per project. The board also agreed to rental agreements for a pair of County owned residential properties, as well as a $129,578 contract increase with TE Construction Services, LLC of Warminster for additional work due to moisture damage at 30 E. Court St. in Doylestown. That building will house County offices now in the Administration Building, 55 E. Court St.
County Director of Housing and Community Development Roger Collins was on hand for the approval of a one-year, $98,482 contract with Bucks County Community College that will provide federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for a highly successful metal product manufacturing job training program. Chairman Loughery praised the program, which has offered five separate graduating classes to date. The annual combined income of those graduates is almost $1.3 million. “These are careers, not jobs,” Mr. Collins added, noting that metal manufacturers pump tens of millions of dollars into the Bucks County economy each year.
For Neshmainy Manor, the commissioners approved a one-year, $3.927 million Intergovernmental Transfer Agreement to provide the non-federal share of medical assistance payments to Neshaminy Manor. According to Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler, this contract is an attempt to work with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to leverage and maximize funding.
Another item of interest was a $100,000 submission and acceptance of a grant application through the Transportation and Community Development Initiative program for the Interstate-95 Turnpike Connection area. This agreement with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) will explore the economic impact and opportunities that could arise from the connection.
The commissioners issued two proclamations – one recognizing April as Oral Health Month and the other designating this month as Child Abuse Awareness Month. Oral Health Month was presented to Southampton-based HealthLink, which opened its doors in 2001. Compassionate care at HealthLink combines the expertise of dedicated professionals, supplemented by volunteers, to provide a fiscally responsible and streamlined approach to providing preventative and restorative dental care. Through continued advocacy for children, alarming statistics of child abuse and neglect, and dedicated individuals in congress, the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month was declared in April 1983.
During commissioners’ comments, Commissioner Martin noted that he was very impressed by a recent visit to the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center. He also extended his congratulations to recently retired Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) Executive Director Barbara Clark.
Mr. Hessenthaler’s bi-weekly COO report included mention of the County’s ongoing efforts to partner with the United Way of Bucks County to enhance the Volunteers Active in Disaster (VOAD) collaboration. He reminded residents that the next installment of the County’s Medication Take Back Program will be Saturday, April 30 at multiple locations around the county. Since its inception in 2010, that bi-annual program has taken almost 60 tons of medicine out of circulation for disposal. Finally, Mr. Hessenthaler reminded voters that the General Primary election is next Tuesday, April 26.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush commemorated this week’s Earth Day by sharing a top 10 list of ways County government works with taxpayers to protect our environment. A snapshot of those efforts includes County employee recycling, watershed protection along the Neshaminy Creek, support of public transit, the annual Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) events, ongoing work to create and link hiking and biking trails, and preservation of open space.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 4 at the Lower Southampton Township Building, 1500 Desire Ave., Feasterville, PA 19053. For a complete audio account of the April 20, 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.