During their first business session of 2017, Bucks County Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW, reorganized following their approval of 27 contract resolutions involving 19 County departments. After five years as board chair, Commissioner Loughery stepped down and made a motion to appoint Commissioner Martin as the 2017 chairman. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Marseglia and unanimously approved. For the 11th time in his 22 years as commissioner, Mr. Martin will chair the three-member board.
In addition, Commissioner Loughery will serve as vice-chair during 2017, and Commissioner Marseglia will chair the Board of Elections.
“I’ve had the great privilege to serve as chairman five years consecutively,” Commissioner Loughery said. “I’ve enjoyed working with everybody in this role – the departments, the courts and the row offices.”
After accepting the gavel, Chairman Martin praised Commissioner Loughery for his leadership between 2012 and 2016. “We have some issues we look forward to working on: filling up the (former) Courthouse (through renovation and centralization of County services); getting our Open Space program finalized; addressing drug issues; economic development; and keeping an eye on the budget,” Chairman Martin said.
The 49-minute meeting featured the unanimous approval of three Open Space proposals – all of which “obligate the remaining (2007 bond) funds” for New Hope Borough, Newtown Township and Nockamixon Township. County Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson explained all three agreements to the board. The commissioners then agreed to a $240,728 deal with New Hope Borough for improvements to enhance access to the Delaware Canal at multiple junctures within the Borough. Commissioner Loughery said the project brings to fruition a number of long-term goals.
For Newtown Township, the board will allocate $395,368 for construction of a multi-use trail along Wrights Rd. The 10-foot wide trail would link the area around Newtown Elementary and St. Andrew’s School to the neighboring communities.
Finally, for Nockamixon Township, the commissioners approved a $165,031 Municipal Open Space grant for the 37.8-acre Diamond property. The site, which is significantly wooded, also was on the County’s Agricultural Land Preservation list, according to Mr. Johnson. It borders Tinicum Township and features a pair of residences that are excluded from the easement. Mr. Johnson also told the board that the Dec. 30, 2016 deadline for Municipal Open Space proposals under the 2007 Open Space referendum netted 16 new applications which are under consideration by the County Open Space Board.
In addition to the Open Space items, the board signed off on a three-year, $146,906 Emergency Communications contract with Aviat U.S. Inc. of Milpitas, CA to install a dedicated microwave connection to support the new 911 telephone system. District Attorney Matt Weintraub was on hand to applaud the approval of a one-year, $66,500 agreement with Crime Watch Technologies, Inc. of Carlisle, PA to provide a police intelligence network. Mr. Weintraub thanked County Emergency Services Director Scott Forster and his team for their work on obtaining a grant for the program, which will allow law enforcement officials to share data with the public. The web-based network will provide crime and other information in a collaborative way that has been effective in nearby Lancaster and Dauphin counties.
The board also approved four General Services’ items, as well as two involving Human Services and a $198,854 purchase of electric beds for Neshaminy Manor residents over the next three years. Under Voting Machines, the commissioners agreed to a one-year, $69,902 extended warranty with Electec, Inc. of Mt. Holly, NJ for 765 machines and a one-year, $72,675 contract with Electec for software license and support fees.
The meeting opened with one proclamation, as Commissioner Loughery designated January 4, 2017 “Human Trafficking Awareness Day” throughout the county. DA Weintraub and Deirdre Blackburn of the Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) thanked the board for its support of the issues, which impacts more than 20 million individuals worldwide. The DA said he had a current case involving human trafficking and labeled it a “scourge” in the community.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler mentioned in his report that the County Emergency Management Agency and Health Department have called a “Code Blue” cold weather alert that will be in effect from 9 p.m. Friday, January 6 until 7 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, January 18, 2017, in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room (1st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901. For a complete audio account of the January 4, 2017 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.