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2015 News

Commissioners Approve Agricultural Land Preservation and Open Space Resolutions during Jan. 21 Business Meeting

January 21, 2015

Bucks County maintains one of the most aggressive land preservation programs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. During their January 21 Business Meeting in the Bucks County Administration Building Community Room, 2015 Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia approved four contract resolutions to continue that momentum. 

The board unanimously agreed to pass 21 items, including the County’s $2.5 million annual allocation to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Farmland Preservation for matching funds. Now in its 26
th year, the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation program includes 175 farms comprised of 14,607 acres with the Jan. 21 addition of the 36.29-acre Mohr Farm in Springfield Township. A hay farm located on Passer Rd., the Mohr property is at the very top of the county, adjacent to previously preserved farm. The County will pay $25,403 plus settlement charges and adjustment, or 10 percent of its appraised value. The State will fund the other 90 percent.

County Agricultural Land Preservation Director Rich Harvey thanked the commissioners for their “commitment to farm preservation,” adding that the farm preservation applicant list stands at 40. The program’s stated goal is to reach 17,000 acres by the end of the 2017 preservation cycle.

The board also approved a pair of Municipal Open Space Program grants, one a $57,369 allocation for trail improvements at Covered Bridge Park in New Britain Borough. According to County Open Space Coordinator Dave Johnson, that project should be completed by spring of this year. In addition, the board signed off on a $180,000 agreement for improvements within Veterans Park in Newtown Township. That park will be a special needs facility called “Noah’s Playground.” It is situated adjacent to several ball fields near Rte. 413 (Durham Rd.).

Commissioner Present the Poet Laureate ProclamationFor the Adult Probation department, the board approved a one-year, $103,970 contract with Redwood Toxicology Laboratory of Santa Rosa, CA for various drug screenings. For Children & Youth Social Services, the commissioners gave the okay to a one-year, $165,000 contract renewal with Glen Mills of Concordville, PA for residential institutional care and aftercare for boys. Five approved Finance contracts included a one-year, $467,070 renewal for Property insurance (including the new Justice Center at 100 N. Main St., Doylestown) with Travelers Insurance Company and a one-year, $279,870 renewal for Excess Workers Compensation policy with Safety National Casualty Corp.

The commissioners voted to table an Act 195 reopener Arbitration Award for employees at the Correctional Facility (Chairman Loughery made the motion and Commissioner Marseglia seconded it) and Collective Bargaining Agreement approval until the County Solicitor receives a signed agreement.

For the Information Technology department, the board approved a pair of cell phone service contracts 
totaling $453,000. One is a $31,000 agreement with AT&T, the other a $422,000 deal with Verizon Wireless that provides service to the majority of County employees with work-issued phones.

The commissioners continued an annual tradition by awarding a $180,000 contract to B&B Turf Management, LP of Fallsington PA to manage the County-owned Oxford Valley Golf Course. The nine-hole course is a popular destination within the Bucks County Parks & Recreation system.

The board also untabled and unanimously approved a $34,345 contract increase with Justice Center general contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. for resizing of attorney tables.

During the miscellaneous portion of the business agenda, the commissioners agreed that the financing and refinancing of bonds that relate to certain St. Mary Medical Center projects is approved and the Commissioner Chairman is authorized to sign all documents to this effect.

The meeting opened with Commissioner Martin honoring 2014 Bucks County Poet Laureate Sandy Becker for her distinction as the County’s 38
th “poet laureate.” Ms. Becker accepted a proclamation and recited one of her award-winning works, “A City Girl Feeds Country Cows.”

Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reminded meeting attendees that County officials will conduct the annual Homeless and Unsheltered Individuals “Point in Time” Count on Thursday, Jan. 29. Mr. Hessenthaler also “thanked and commended first responders” involved in the ice storm of Sunday, January 18. He noted that more than 50 accidents occurred within the first hour of the event, creating an increased call volume for the County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications staff. “That was a great effort by all involved,” Mr. Hessenthaler added.

In his commissioners’ remarks, Commissioner Martin encouraged residents to take part in a rally to support local police on Saturday, January 31 at the County’s Core Creek Park in Middletown Township. Commissioner Marseglia expressed a desire to address concerns about Sheriff’s security protocols in the new Justice Center. Chairman Loughery echoed Commissioner Martin’s thanks to General Services for coordinating last weekend’s first portion of the Justice Center move, adding that any change of address is “not exactly smooth sailing all the time.”

The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, in the Bucks County Administration Building Community Room (1
st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901. For a complete audio account of the January 21, 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.