There was a buzz in the Board of Bucks County Commissioners’ Meeting Room on the morning of Wednesday, April 5, 2017. “April is a popular month,” Commissioner Chairman Charles H. Martin told an unusually large crowd before he joined commissioner colleagues Robert G. Loughery and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW to present four proclamation and approve a large list of contract resolutions for 19 various County departments.
“We have gone three weeks between meetings, so the agenda is a big larger than it might be,” the chairman explained. Nonetheless, the one-hour, eight-minute session honored several groups that do great work in the community to help others, ensure public safety and protect victims of crime.
A highlight of the meeting was the proclamation of April 9-15, 2017 as “National Dispatchers Week” in honor of the Bucks County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications department. Last year, County staff handled approximately 900,000 phone calls and dispatched more than 500,000 calls. One of the 62 approved contract resolutions was an $88,250 contract with WEST Safety Solutions Corporation of Longmont, CO to integrate text messaging into the new Emergency Communications phone system. This contract represents a significant upgrade from the current web-browser text system that has been in use by dispatchers.
Commissioner Loughery issued a proclamation to the Bucks County Symphony Orchestra and its maestro, Gary Fagin. The Orchestra, which has been entertaining audiences five times annually, was founded in 1953.
Commissioner Marseglia issued a very poignant proclamation in honor of National Donate Life Month, recognizing 7-year-old liver donor recipient Josie Crawn and the parents of her donor, Ron and Linda Moyer. While Josie smiled for attendees, representatives of the Gift of Life Program stressed the significance of organ donation. Mrs. Moyer noted that her son, Ethan, was killed by a drunk driver and nine of his organs were donated to matching individuals.
The contract resolutions featured a wide variety of items, including 11 Children & Youth Socials Services approvals. Among those were a one-year, $2.025 million renewal with Adelphoi Village, Inc. to provide various placement services for children. The board also approved one-year, $450,000 renewals with Devereaux Advanced Behavioral Health of King of Prussia, PA and KidsPeace National Centers, Inc. of Schnecksville, PA to provide various foster, residential, and shelter services. During commissioners’ comments, Commissioner Loughery praised Commissioner Marseglia for her recent participation on a County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania meeting panel that discussed Children & Youth caseworker retention challenges. “We are turning into a County that makes recommendations to other counties (about that topic),” Commissioner Loughery said.
The County’s work with labor bargaining units continued with the approval of four more contracts involving 175 employees, including two new agreements with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, District Council 88 and one with the Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU), Local 668. Those agreements run through the end of 2020. According to Human Resources Director Travis Monroe, 16 of the County’s 18 union contracts currently are “locked in.”
For General Services, the commissioners approved the purchase of multiple vehicles through state contracting. Among them were transit vans, utility trucks, various sedans, and several police interceptor vehicles. During discussion of those items, Commissioner Loughery suggested the County could attempt to work with non-profits to repurpose some of the vehicles that are being replaced to provide ride sharing or car sharing services.
Another significant portion of the agenda included a pair of trail-related Open Space projects for Bensalem Township. The first involves a $136,922 Municipal Open Space Project Improvement Grant for construction of trails in Central Park. The second Bensalem contract was a $229,425 Municipal Open Space Project Improvement Grant for construction of trails along State Rd. For Bristol Borough the board approved a $343,782 Municipal Open Space Project Improvement Grant for reconstruction of the Maple Beach Rd. Bridge. The funding will allow for the bridge to be retrofitted for pedestrians.
Also in the Open Space realm, the commissioners approve a $101,200 Natural Areas Program Grant for approximately 20.24 acres of the Quinby property in Tinicum Township. That project is in conjunction with the Tinicum Conservancy. The Quinby’s also have a preserved Bucks County farm.
Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler reminded residents that the next scheduled Medication Take Back Event will be Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. He also praised County Park Rangers for their recent response to the report of a suicide attempt at Core Creek Park. Chief Ranger Steve Long earned special mention for his work in locating the individual’s cell phone location. Ultimately, a tragedy was averted. Commissioner Marseglia also heaped praise on Chief Long, adding, “We’ve come a long way. That wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago.”
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush reminded residents that the County’s five Household Hazardous Waste Collection events (non-electronics) have been scheduled. They can be accessed on the Recycling page of the County's website. The first event is scheduled for May 27 in Bristol.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room (1st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901. For a complete audio account of the April 5, 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.