WRIGHTSTOWN >> Following a flag raising ceremony officially opening the 70th Annual Middletown Grange Fair, the Bucks County Commissioners gaveled to order its August 15 meeting beneath the fair’s entertainment tent.
Surrounded by the sights and sounds of the fair, Commissioners Robert G. Loughery, Chairman, Charles H. Martin and Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia, LCSW conducted a business meeting that included the approval of 60 contract resolutions involving 23 county departments, presented the 2018 Fred Groshens Farmer of the Year Award, crowned the 2018 Grange Fair Queen, accepted 4-H farm baskets brimming with Bucks County natural bounty from Buckingham’s None Such Farm and surpassed a key farmland preservation milestone.
The theme from Star Wars, emanating from the outside fairgrounds, provided an unexpected musical backdrop as Commissioner Charles Martin read a proclamation recognizing the Middletown Grange No. 684 for its work in the community and proclaiming August 15 to 19 as Middletown Grange Fair Week 70th anniversary celebration Throughout Bucks County.
Chairman Loughery, who also serves on the Bucks County Conservation District board of directors, continued the meeting with a letter of commendation recognizing Joel and Rachel Kressman and the Trauger’s Farm Market in Kintnersville, Durham Township, as the winner of this year’s Fred Groshens Farmer of Year Award.
In the letter of commendation, Loughery praised the family for its conservation efforts, including in the area of water conservation, irrigation and increasing the organic content of the farm’s soil.
“We thank them for being such a wonderful example on conservation farming, to their profession and to their community,” said Bucks County Conservation District Manager Gretchen Schatschneider in presenting the family with an aerial photograph of their farm and congratulating them on being named Farmer of the Year by the district.
The fair theme of the meeting continued with the crowning of Jessica Raab of Middletown Township as the 2018 Grange Fair Queen. Sarah Liebel, the 2017 Grange Fair Queen, crowned Raab with a tiara that was custom designed by wedding specialist Andrea Petrille to resemble a vintage antique corn motif.
Raab, a 2018 graduate of Neshaminy High School, has been coming to and showing at the Grange most of her life. She will be attending Millersville University later this month to study Animal Behavior. She is the daughter of Mike and Leanne Raab.
Following the ceremonial portion of the meeting, the board continued its agricultural theme by adding to the county’s growing list of preserved farms.
The commissioners approved four agricultural conservation easements in excess of $1 million including:
- A 131.86 acre easement on the Rossi Farm, one of the larger farms in Springfield Township. The farm on Pullen Road is a crop and livestock farm with 80 acres in hay, 20 acres in pasture with 38 cattle and 100 chickens. The cost is $1.384 million with the county paying $692,265 and the state picking up the balance.
- A 65.55 acre easement on the Hermann Farm located on Rich Hill Road in Richland Township. The crop farm has 36 acres in hay production. The cost is $688,213, which is being split between the county, Richland Township and Heritage Conservancy. The county will be paying $98,316.
- A 19.81 acre easement on the Wolfinger farm located on Church Hill and Nockamixon Roads in Nockamixon Township. The farm is is a crop farm entirely in hay production. The cost is $202,062.
- A 35.99 acre easement on the Simkins farm located on Stump and Silo Hill Roads in Plumstead Township. The crop farm is entirely in hay production. The cost is $431,808 with the county paying $215,940 and the state paying the balance.
With the preservation of the four farms, the county has now saved 215 farms and has preserved more than 17,000 acres.
“The original goal of the county was to preserve 17,000 acres. We’ve reached that today. It’s 26.562 square miles and that’s 20 percent of the remaining farms preserved in the county,” said Richard Harvey, who administers the county’s Agricultural Land Preservation Program. “It’s a substantial milestone. And it represents a lot of work and effort by the county and our farming community.”
Since last year’s Grange Fair, Harvey said the county has preserved more than 834 acres and has added seven farms to its 2018 application list, which now totals 2,031 acres.
In other action, the commissioners:
- Awarded a contract for $141,530 to Nickolaus Construction Company of Vincetown, New Jersey for repair and resurfacing of existing tennis courts at Frosty Hollow and repair of cracks at Core Creek.
- Awarded a $250,000 contract to KOFILE Preservation of Essex, Vermont to restore historic deed books. The request was made by the Recorder of Deeds. Commissioner Charles Martin voted against the motion.
- Approved a contract for $28,783 to Electec Inc. of Mount Holly, NJ, to provide extended warranty for 765 voting machines. Commissioner Marseglia voted against the motion.
- Approved donations in the amount of $1,000 for the Special Equestrians Summer Camp requested by Commissioner Marseglia and $2,400 to the Twilight Wish Foundation and $1600 to the Bucks County Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired requested by Martin.
During his COO report, Brian Hessenthaler reminded residents that the final Household Hazardous Waste event in Bucks County will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 25 at the Bucks County Technical High School, 610 Wistar Road in Fairless Hills. For information, visit buckscounty.org/recycling.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, September 5 in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room of the Bucks County Administration Building (1st Floor), 55 E. Court St., Doylestown 18901. For a complete audio account of the August 15 business meeting, visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.