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2017 News

"A Beautiful Sight." Commissioners Preserve 200th and 201st County Farms During July 12 Evening Meeting

July 14, 2017
A panoramic view of the 200th farm and various owners of the first 199.

With a panoramic backdrop that featured a barn, a silo, cows, corn and acres of pristine farmland, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners met on the evening of July 12, 2017 to reach a significant milestone. Chairman Charles H. Martin, Robert G. Loughery and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia joined dozens of Bucks County farm owners who have previously preserved their properties through the County Agricultural Land Preservation program. Following a picnic and a wide-angle photo opportunity, the board unanimously agreed to pay $121,000 for a conservation easement on the 60.50-acre Litzenberger farm (the site of the meeting on a hill in Nockamixon Township) and $141,108 for a similar easement on the 64.14-acre Arner farm in Haycock Township. They are the 200th and 201st farms preserved by the County since 1990. Those 201 farms total more than 16,200 acres and have leveraged approximately $153 million of County, state and local funding.

The 200th Preserved Farm BannerBoth easements represent 20 percent of the easement value, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will fund the other 80 percent. “I don’t need any (PowerPoint) slides,” County Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey told the commissioners, gesturing to the picturesque scenery behind the meeting tent. “This is a snapshot of the beauty that makes up Bucks County. It’s a beautiful sight.”

Chairman Martin thanked the members of the farming community who attended a pre-meeting picnic, as well as the members of the County Agricultural Land Preservation Board. Mr. Harvey noted the program still thrives, with 45 properties currently on the waiting list. It’s been an honor and a privilege to work with all of you,” Mr. Harvey added. “I’d like to thank our board members. They only need a cup of coffee and a cookie (to attend regular meetings).”

In addition to the Agricultural Land Preservation milestone properties, the commissioners unanimously approved 55 contract resolutions involving 20 County departments. Several of them were grant revenue items, including a three-year, $615,000 Children & Youth Social Services renewal for the Time Limited Family Reunification program, a one-year, $281,302 Emergency Health Services extension for the County emergency medical system, a one-year, $2.656 million Housing and Community Development grant award for the CDBG, HOME and ESG funding program, and a one-year, $184,954 Police Training grant renewal for the Police Traffic Services Grant program.

Najja Orr, retiring Director of Area Agency on Aging receives a commendation for his work at the county level and beyond.The board approved four Behavioral Health contracts, four Commissioners’ items including a cooperation agreement for a Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant with the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Bucks for construction of the St. Mary Lower Bucks County Primary/Urgent Care Practice Project, and three Finance department items.

In the General Services realm, the commissioners agreed to expend $765,172 for repairs on County Bridge No. 263 in Quakertown Borough (North Fourth St.) and County Bridge No. 352 in East Rockhill Township (Hill Rd.) for repairs performed by Eastern Highway Specialists, Inc. of Wilmington, DE. Commissioner Loughery said the board received a recent bridge update, and he commended the General Services department “on the work being done.” Bridge work on Nos. 263 and 352 will be funded by the $5 state vehicle registration fee enacted during December, 2015.

A proclamation recognizing Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week.The meeting opened with a proclamation recognizing July 16 - 22, 2017 as “Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week”, throughout the County. Pretrial, Probation and Parole Supervision Week is a time to honor and celebrate the dedicated individuals in the community who work tirelessly to make our neighborhoods safer.

The commissioners also bid a fond farewell commendation to outgoing Area Agency on Aging Director Najja Orr, who is leaving County service after 15 years of progressive responsibility. They joined Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler in thanking Mr. Orr for his work on behalf of elderly Bucks County residents.

Jen Massaro of the Penn State Cooperative Extension presented the commissioners with the annual Farm Fresh booklet and personalized baskets of fresh Bucks County produce. The Farm Fresh publication features information about farm markets and other produce/grocery outlets throughout Bucks.

Baskets presented to the Commissioners from the Penn State Cooperative Extension while presenting the Fresh from Bucks County Farm BookletsDuring his COO/Acting Chief Clerk report, Mr. Hessenthaler congratulated Chris Pirolli on his appointment as the new County Director of Corrections. Mr. Pirolli has served for several months as the acting director prior to his promotion. “I’d like to thank him for stepping in,” Mr. Hessenthaler added.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, in the . That meeting will feature the 200th farm preserved by the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation Program. For a complete audio account of the June 21, 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.