The Board of Bucks County Commissioners’ Meeting Room resembled a kennel of canine kindness during its June 1 business session, as more than a dozen therapy dogs joined the Hon. Robert J. Mellon and their volunteer handlers for the celebration of a unique program. Roxy’s Reading Therapy Dogs is an organization that brings comfort to court visitors of all ages through four-legged companionship. To thank the members of the program for their efforts, the commissioners proclaimed June 1, 2016 “Roxy’s Comfort Dog Days” throughout the County of Bucks. As Commissioner Charles H. Martin read the proclamation, multi-breed furry friends named Roxy, Bud, Chloe and Bentley (to name just four guests) stood nearby for a round of “a-paws.”
“This is the fifth anniversary of the program,” Judge Mellon said. “Bucks was the first county in Pennsylvania to have comfort dogs. Now 37 of 67 counties have them. It is a completely volunteer program. It doesn’t cost the County anything.” Seeking to explain the impact of the dogs on court visitors who are often under some of the greatest stress of their lives, he added: “It’s hard to translate into words the effect these dogs have on children, parents and grandparents. This morning, did you see the smiles on faces?”
As the well-behaved dogs exited the meeting room, Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery observed that the Roxy’s program is just “another example of Bucks County leading the way.”
Following the dog show, the commissioners unanimously approved 33 contract resolutions involving 15 County departments. A clear highlight of that list was the addition of two Agricultural Land Preservation easements – the 189th and 190th of the highly popular program. Commissioners Loughery, Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW approved preservation of the 69.3-acre Garton farm on New Hope Rd. in Buckingham Township and the 23.3-acre Myer farm on Ebert Rd. in Springfield Township. Those two additions lifted the preserved farm total to 15,600 acres since 1989, according to County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey.
The Garton farm is a hay farm that ranked 8th during the 2015 round of applications to the program. It is the 25th County farm preserved in Buckingham Township, and it features a “stunning fieldstone farmhouse” on the property. The Myer farm is a field corn operation that previously grew tomatoes that were used to make Campbell’s soup at their production facility in New Jersey. It ranked 9th during the 2015 round of applications. The County paid $346,615 plus settlement charges and adjustments for the Garton easement and $34,874.70 plus settlement charges and adjustments for the Myer easement.
For Children & Youth Social Services, the board approved a combined $875,000 for one-year service contract with Devereux Foundation, Inc. of Villanova, PA and Families United Network, Inc. of Muncy, PA. Those contracts provide highly specialized foster and residential care, foster and emergency shelter care, diagnostics services and community based residential services for dependent youth.
The Quakertown Branch of the Bucks County Free Library will be getting new carpet following the approval of a $93,505 contract with Wright Flooring of Silverdale, and the Community Corrections facility will be the site of a $150,000 pilot recovery program through the Bucks County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Inc. of Warminster.
The commissioners agreed to almost $2 million dedicated to three Mental Health/Developmental Programs (MH/DP) contracts, including a one-year, $1.730 agreement with Woods Services of Langhorne to provide residential and day program services. The board also approved a one-year, $125,000 contract increase with Pediatric Therapeutics, Inc. of Newtown to provide various early intervention services.
For the Open Space program, the commissioners approved a $45,000 expenditure with the Heritage Conservancy for approximately 43.5 acres in Richland Township. That acquisition features a portion of the Morgan Creek, which slices through the property. According to County Open Space Program Coordinator Dave Johnson, the land also includes a prominent heron rookery.
The three-member board also accepted a pair of grants, including a $48,914 Planning Commission agreement with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Authority to participate in the Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance program and an $86,973 Police Training agreement to provide a one-year, comprehensive plan for the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Enforcement program.
In addition, the meeting included the annual presentation of the Penn State Cooperative Extension’s “Fresh from Bucks County Farms” booklet that provides information about 65 local farms that operate markets. Kathy Salisbury of the Cooperative Extension touted the book as a one-stop shop for fresh produce, meats, and other natural products that are native to our area. She also thanked the Chairman Loughery thanked her for bringing a sample of fresh basil, tomatoes and strawberries – and mentioned that the County is planning to work with a developer to create a phone/tablet application that will be a “Bucks Local Fresh” app.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler provided an update on last week’s County leadership forum, noting that one of the hallmarks of the current administration is a commitment to listen to residents and their concerns – such as the recent Core Creek Cat Collaboration. Chief Clerk Lynn T. Bush reported that last Saturday’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection event in Bristol attracted 812 participating vehicles and the wait time never exceeded 20 minutes at any point during the six-hour operating period. Participants also were provided with informational handouts about local electronic recycling options.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at the Morrisville Borough Municipal Building, 35 Union St., Morrisville, PA 19067. For a complete audio account of the June 1, 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.