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Commissioners Conduct May 3 Business Meeting At Award-Winning Neshaminy Manor Long-Term Care Facility

For the first time in its 17-year history, Warrington’s Bucks County-operated, 360-bed Neshaminy Manor hosted a bi-monthly business meeting for the Board of Bucks County Commissioners. The May 3 session featured the unanimous approval of 30 contract resolutions involving 14 County departments, the issuance of four proclamations and some very good financial news involving last week’s bond refinancing.

Neshaminy Manor Administrator Marjorie Ziegler welcomed Commissioners Charles H. Martin, chairman, Robert G. Loughery and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW on behalf of the residents and staff. “We are very proud of what we do,” she said, noting that the facility boasts over 500 employees (making it the largest County department). Resident Don Crohe, the “self-appointed” mayor of Neshaminy Manor, also offered welcoming and closing remarks.

Chairman Martin proclaimed May as “Older Americans Month,” a fitting theme given the setting. The County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) was represented by Director Najja Orr, who thanked the commissioners for their ongoing efforts to provide over 20 service programs to elderly residents.

Commissioner Marseglia proclaimed May as “Mental Health Awareness Month,” urging County residents “to understand that mental illness can affect anyone regardless of age, race or gender and to become more educated about the many forms of mental illness and by doing so offer acceptance, full inclusion and opportunities for all persons living with a mental illness.”

The third proclamation was read by Commissioner Loughery in recognition of “Conservation District Week.” Pennsylvania has 66 conservation districts, which grew out of the United States “Dust Bowl” conditions of the 1930’s. Commissioner Loughery serves as a member of the Bucks County Conservation District, which works to preserve environmental safety for present and future generations and even, as he noted, helps to repair gravel roads in the county.

The final proclamation, read by Chairman Martin, designated May 7-13 as “National Travel and Tourism Week” throughout the county. On hand to accept were Visit Bucks Executive Director Jerry Lepping and Vice President Paul Bencivengo. Each year in Bucks County, visitor spending generates nearly $1 billion for the local economy on an annual basis while supporting nearly 12,000 jobs. Mr. Lepping said that hotel occupancy rates have consistently improved during the past several years.

Following the extended proclamation time, the board moved on to approval of contract resolutions. Those included a three-year, $9.5 million per year Behavioral Health amendment to the HealthChoices Agreement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Human Services. Also in the Human Services realm, the board agreed to six Children & Youth Social Services contracts, including a one-year, $1.957 million renewal with Pipersville-based Community Service Foundation to provide various services for children.

The clear highlight of the agenda was a $562,444 Municipal Open Space grant with Solebury Township for a 32.26-acre conservation easement on a portion of the Sauls property. According to County Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson, “this is an extremely desirable property” and one of the prime examples of the success of the County Open Space Program. “It is surrounded by preserved properties,” he added. “I cannot put enough superlatives on it.” According to Mr. Johnson, the easement saves it from any potential development despite its high appraised value of $23,500 per acre.

Commissioner Marseglia thanked the public for its support of the April 30 #HoldOnYouMatter Suicide Prevention Walk that took place at Bucks County Technical High School. More than 500 walkers raised approximately $50,000 that will go directly to the Bucks County Suicide Prevention Task Force for community outreach. It was the second annual event.

Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler had several significant items to report, including the results of the April 29 Medication Take Back event, which collected almost five tons (or nearly 10,000 pounds) of unwanted medication. He also mentioned that the County Human Services Division will host three Block Grant Public Hearings in upcoming weeks (Monday, May 8, 4 p.m., at the Bensalem Library; Friday, May 12, 1 p.m., in the Bucks County Administration Building Community Room; and Wednesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Quakertown Library).

Mr. Hessenthaler also shared the news that the County saved $1.7 million during last week’s bond refinancing, a much larger than expected number. According to the County’s bond team, Bucks has managed debt, maintained Triple-A bond ratings and saved approximately $15 million through refinancings over the last five years. “These things just don’t happen luckily,” said Brad Remig of Harrisburg-based PFM.

Chief Clerk Lynn Bush reminded residents that the Municipal Primary Election will take place at 306 County voting districts on Tuesday, May 16 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at the Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe St., Bristol, PA 19007. For a complete audio account of the May 3, 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.