April 4, 2012
Commissioners Approve Three Significant Open Space Acquisitions during First April Business Meeting
Michael A. Klimpl Named County Solicitor
A nearly two-hour Board of Bucks County Commissioners business meeting April 4 featured the approval of 25 contract resolutions for 14 county departments. Among them were two Municipal Open Space grants (Lower Makefield Township and Morrisville Borough) and a Natural Areas Program grant (Springfield Township) that will protect more than 81 acres of Bucks County land.
According to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern, the Lower Makefield property is adjacent to Big Oak and West Ferry roads and is a 6.69 acre wooded, vacant tract that was to be part of a subdivision that never occurred. The county’s portion of the open space acquisition is $386,250. The Morrisville Borough tract is 8.7 acres adjacent to Philadelphia and Delaware avenues, which will be used for passive recreation. The county’s portion of this “ecological restoration” is $24,615. The Springfield property of James and Mary McCarthy is 65.63 acres in the Highlands Region, which is in close proximity to 300 acres already preserved. The county’s portion of the purchase price is $267,362.
During the meeting, which took place in the Bucks County Courthouse Community Room, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW also approved a pair of contracts to advance work on phases 2 and 3 of the Churchville Nature Center green expansion. According to county Director of Special Projects Joe Bush, phase 1 of the project is approximately 95 percent complete – pending the installation of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified HVAC equipment. As Commissioner Martin pointed out, the Churchville project initially was put into motion by the Friends of Churchville Nature Center.
The meeting also included the unanimous approval of a 15-month, $75,000 Human Services contract with the Peace Center of Langhorne for a “Resource and Call Center for Bullying Prevention.” An April 9 press conference is planned to provide more details about the landmark program, which includes backing from the Board of Commissioners, with Commissioner Marseglia taking the lead, the county District Attorney’s office, 13 Bucks County school districts and other organizations.
“I have been supportive of this effort,” District Attorney David Heckler told an assemblage that included Peace Center Executive Director Barbara Simmons. “Sometimes bullying and cyber-bullying acts are barely criminal, but the consequences can be devastating.” Commissioner Loughery related a recent incident one of his daughters encountered second-hand while riding the school bus, adding that now is a good time to address the problem of all forms of bullying in our youth.
Although the board passed all 25 resolutions, Commissioner Marseglia voted against two, a $145,000 contract renewal for foster care at Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries of Wyomissing, PA, and a $106,622 insurance premium with National Union Fire Insurance Co. for public officials and employment practices liability.
On the personnel front, Acting Solicitor Michael Klimpl was appointed county solicitor by a unanimous vote. Mr. Klimpl has served the county as counsel under four solicitors and 10 commissioners since 1984. “I am looking forward to working with Mr. Klimpl. He’s done an outstanding job,” Commissioner Martin stated. Added Commissioner Loughery: “I’d like to echo those comments, and note that Mr. Klimpl has been here longer than (Commissioner Martin, whose tenure began in 1995). Mr. Klimpl will earn an annual salary of $118,000. In addition, Donald E. Williams was promoted from assistant solicitor to litigation solicitor (Mr. Klimpl’s former position).
Another personnel move involved the promotion of Acting Deputy Public Information Director Juliet Kelchner to deputy director of public information. Mrs. Kelchner previously served as county web content administrator, and has been with the Public Information office since September, 2004.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler congratulated the Bucks County Corrections department for its honorable mention in the recent County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) Criminal Justice contest. He also reported on a $50,000 dividend Neshaminy Manor recently received through its general liability insurance program.
County Recycling Coordinator Art Feltes reminded the commissioners and Bucks County residents that the first round of the county’s Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and Computer/Electronic Equipment collection. The first Computer/Electronic Equipment collection will take place on Saturday, April 28 at Bucks County Community College’s Newtown campus, and the first HHW collection will be the following weekend, Saturday, May 5, at the Lower Makefield Corporate Complex.
Register of Wills Don Petrille announced that his office will begin to offer probate and marriage license services at the Lower Bucks Government Services Center (7321 New Falls Rd., Levittown, 19055) on the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. That service, part of the Register of Wills “Public Service Program,” will commence May 8, 2012.
The meeting opened with a commendation to Bucks County Men’s Community Corrections Center Lt. Bret Morris and Community Corrections Officers Luke Devlin and Eric Lekich for helping to resuscitate a female racer in the Bucks County Heroes Scholarship 5K Walk on March 17. According to Lt. Morris: “Eric was the main hero here. He did most of the medical work. We just did what any normal good citizen would do.”
Commissioner Loughery proclaimed April the “Month of the Young Child” in recognition of the need for high-quality, affordable, early childhood services within our community. Agencies such as the Bucks County Association for the Education of Young Children and Bucks County Head Start work to improve the quality and availability of such services.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in the Administrative Building Engine Bay of the Lower Bucks Public Safety Training Center, 2912 River Rd., Croydon. For a complete audio account of the April 4 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.