June 6, 2012
Commissioners Visit Bucks County Community College Upper Bucks Campus for Bi-Monthly Business Meeting
136 Acres of Farmland and Open Space Preserved
Phase 2 of the Bucks County Community College Upper Bucks Campus expansion includes the scenic classroom/meeting space, Classroom 120. With the 120-foot Mood’s Covered Bridge visible in the distance, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW unanimously approved 39 contract resolutions involving 15 county departments during their June 6, 2012 business meeting in that collegial setting.
Among those resolutions was a 62.79-acre agricultural conservation easement on the Bates Farm, which is located at 2940 Cooks Creek Rd. in Springfield Township. According to county Agricultural Preservation Director Rich Harvey, the Bates Farm ranked 3rd of 63 preservation applications during 2011. It contains over 40 acres of active crops, and is located within one mile of six previously preserved farms. The county will pay 60 percent of the average appraised total, or $339,066 plus settlement charges and adjustments. The farm, which lies in an area that has been a major focus of the county Agricultural Preservation program, is the 151st farm preserved since 1989 – representing a growing total of 12,807 acres.
In addition, the board also signed off on a pair of Natural Areas Program Grants totaling 73.5 acres in Haycock Township. The 36.1-acre Long property and the 37.3-acre Reichenbach property lie within a growing band of protect parcels, according to county Open Space Coordinator Kris Kern. Both properties were part of the Kramer Farm, a family tract which was divided between a son and two daughters.
For Community and Business Development, the board approved contracts with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for Fiscal Year 2012 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME ($763,111) and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funding. Noting that “every penny counts,” Chairman Loughery observed that those federal programs have been reduced during recent years, and the board would like to carefully analyze the recommendations of the county’s Community Development Advisory Board before acting each year. According to county Community and Business Development Director Vitor Vicente, the next step following the June 6 commissioners’ approval is to enter into agreements with the individual funding recipients, many of which are municipalities.
For Emergency Communications, the board approved a $19,240 purchase of a Computer-Aided Dispatch System software upgrade through Northrup Grumman Systems. This state-funded upgrade will give automated premise history information to dispatchers prior to dispatch. The premise history function allows for the documentation of unusual situations or hazards at a specific location.
The meeting began with a presentation of the county’s annual Fresh from Bucks County Farms booklet, which features information about 74 Bucks County outlets. According to Scott Guiser of the Penn State Cooperative Extension, the book includes 44 vegetable farms, 17 fruit farms and 16 egg farms. “It is a real win-win situation,” Guiser noted. The Cooperative Extension printed 10,000 copies of the book this year, half of which were funded by the Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau. Copies of the book are available at the Bucks County Commissioners’ Office of Public Information, and it is linked to the official county website.
Chairman Loughery read a proclamation honoring Fonthill’s 100th anniversary, presenting the document to Doug Dolan of the Bucks County Historical Society. “Fonthill is not your typical Bucks County stone farmhouse,” Mr. Dolan said of Henry Chapman Mercer’s National Historic Landmark, which features 44 rooms and 18 fireplaces and stands as an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic and Byzantine architectural styles. He thanked the commissioners for their ongoing efforts to support Bucks County’s historic and cultural assets by promoting, preserving and protecting them.
Chairman Loughery reminded attendees that the first meeting of the 11-member Voter ID Education Advisory Group will take place on Thursday, June 7, at 2 p.m. in the Bucks County Planning Commission Conference Room (4th Floor, 1260 Almshouse Rd.). The group will be chaired by Dr. Richard Coe of Kids Voting and will provide recommendations to the commissioners about compliance with the new state ID law during July. The meetings will be open to the public.
Commissioner Martin noted the continuing success of the Bucks County Veterans ID Discount Card Program, which recently passed 4,000 cards issued through the Recorder of Deeds office. He asked General Services Director Jerry Anderson and Executive Director of Parks and Recreation Bill Mitchell to create a discount plan for the use of county facilities that would be available to cardholders.
During his chief operating officer’s report, Brian Hessenthaler touched on three items, including a state award the county Department of Correction will accept on Monday, June 11 regarding best practices and the Forensic Re-Entry Enhancement Program, the county’s recognition of June 15 as world Elder Abuse Awareness Day (an information table will be set up in the Bucks County Courthouse), and an update on the county budget versus benchmarks. Mr. Hessenthaler noted that, through April, 2012, the county was running $2.3 million better than budget, but the majority of that variance relates directly to taxes that were paid during the early discount period.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush reported on several grants that will assist the county, including a $60,000 award to continue exploring the feasibility of a trail along the Neshaminy Creek.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, at Crossing Vineyards, 1853 Wrightstown Rd., Washington Crossing, PA 18977. For a complete audio account of the June 6 meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.