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No Fooling: Commissioners Visit Quakertown’s “Re-Purposed” Synergis Technologies for April 1 Meeting

April 1, 2015

The April 1 business meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners had a special theme, one tied to economic development and job creation. Venturing out of the Bucks County Administration Building for the first time since December, 2014, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW conducted a public meeting in the training room of the Quakertown Borough headquarters of Synergis Technologies.

Synergis is based in the former Best Made building, which was a silk mill for many years dating back to 1933. The re-purposing of the building was the first project completed by the Bucks2Invest program the commissioners instituted under Chairman Loughery. “This is an example of precisely what we wanted to do,” the chairman stated. “The (former) EDAB (Economic Development Advisory Board) recommended changes, investments in our downtown. This project checked every box. It was just a great project.”

The Quakertown business employs 80 at the site, according to Synergis Vice President Kristen Tomasic. “This building had a lot of help along the way from the Bucks County Commissioners through Bucks2Invest,” she told a packed room. Following the meeting, Synergis officials conducted a tour of the refurbished facility, which is located on South 5th Street.

Given that Commissioner Marseglia read a proclamation designating April as “National Child Abuse Prevention Month,” it was appropriate that the contract resolution part of the meeting was dominated by Children & Youth Social Services items. A total of 30 contracts were considered; 29 of them met approval. Commissioner Marseglia motioned to table the first one, a one-year, $50,000 agreement with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 to operate the Family Friends/Kids in Care program. That item was tabled unanimously.

The board approved multiple contracts for the Langhorne-based Family Service Association of Bucks County, including a one-year, $253,360 renewal to provide shelter operations, a one-year, $236,500 renewal to provide support services and a $121,820 contract to provide the Nurturing Parent program. Under Housing and Community Development, the board signed off on a two-year, $70,000 agreement for FSA to provide shelter operations.

Other highlights of the extended Children & Youth discussion included approval of four one-year contracts totaling almost $700,000 with K/S Consultants, Inc. of Warrington, a one-year, $600,000 renewal with New Life Youth and Family Services of Schwenksville to provide community residential, emergency shelter and transitional living services, a one-year, $910,000 renewal with Tabor Children’s Services to provide life skills and transitional support to facilitate the transition out of the foster care system, and a one-year, $1.075 million agreement with Allentown’s Valley Youth House for emergency shelter, independent living program, and group home services for dependent and delinquent youth. Commissioner Martin voted against one C&Y item, a one-year, $255,595 contract renewal with K/S Consultants to provide truancy prevention/diversion to youth.

The spotlight continued to shine on economic development as the commissioners unanimously approved a request from Sellersville Borough to participate in a five year Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) program. Chairman Loughery attended a recent meeting of the Pennridge School District that addressed the LERTA. He cited the move as an effort “to repopulate the area, create jobs and expand the tax base.”

On behalf of the District Attorney, the commissioners approved a two-year, $132,885 grant application through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – Rights and Services Act Grant – to support crime victim services. The board also approved a one-year, $6,174 Health Department supplemental grant funding agreement to provide the WIC (Women, Infant & Children) program.

The meeting featured several moments of levity, among them the unanimous approval of a $31,419 Parks & Recreation contract with Creative Concepts of Jackson, NJ to install heavy-duty netting between the Oxford Valley Golf Course and the Falls Township Senior Center parking lot. “Charley (Commissioner Martin) has a bad slice,” Chairman Loughery quipped. Responded the veteran commissioner: “I do, but it’s not that bad.” The final item approved was a $113,953 agreement with Honeywell Building Solutions of Fort Washington to install a camera upgrade and expansion of the electronic security system for the Bucks County Youth Center.

In addition to the National Child Abuse Prevention Month proclamation, Commissioner Martin declared April “Oral Health Month” throughout the county on behalf of the HealthLink Dental Clinic. More information is available on the organization’s website, www.healthlinkdental.org, or by calling (215) 364-4247. Its mission is “to provide preventative and restorative dental services, along with oral health education, to contribute to the overall health of low wage-earning adults in Bucks and Montgomery counties.”

During the miscellaneous portion of commissioners’ comments, Chairman Loughery provided an update on another Bucks2Invest/Bucks County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) project, the Keystone NAP data center in Falls Township. He thanked IDA Board Chair (and County Clerk of Courts) Mary Smithson and Economic Development officer Margie McKevitt. Commissioner Martin thanked the FDR Middle School in Bristol Township and the organizers/workers who handled last Saturday’s electronic waste event. “It’s hard to get rid of big TVs,” he added.

Both Commissioner Marseglia and Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler congratulated the Bucks County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) for a successful 10th anniversary celebration last Saturday at the Oxford Valley Mall. Mr. Hessenthaler also reminded residents that Saturday, April 25 will be another Medication Take Back Day at locations throughout the County. Chief Clerk Lynn Bush noted that the 2015 Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) schedule is now available on www.BucksCounty.org.

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, at the Bucks County Community College Lower Bucks Campus, 1304 Veterans Highway, Bristol, PA 19007. For a complete audio account of the April 1, 2015 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.