B radford County Commissioners met on Thursday, March 25, at the Troy Sale Barn to honor Bonnie Bell Hilfiger.
Hilfiger passed away unexpectedly last fall. Growing up in Wyalusing, Hilfiger attended Mansfield University, graduating with a B.S. in Art Education. Hilfiger would later move to Troy with her husband Gary. Hilfiger spent several years teaching art and would volunteer for community activities such as teaching art camp.
Flanking the commissioners on either side were murals, and paintings done by local artist Bonnie Bell Hilfiger, as well as a memorial to her.
Nicole Harris talked fondly about their time working together at Mt. Pisgah state park leading children on nature hikes and in art camps.
John Seeley approached with a paper Bonnie had written when she was 19, that Gary had recently discovered while going through her things.
Titled “Identity,” the treatise begins with “To me who I want to be is who I am” as Bonnie talks of her love of nature and art and looks inward to who she saw herself as. Bonnie reflected on the impact the death of her brother Timmy at a young age had affected her saying “I wished that I had always been kind to him, as I really never meant not to be… Timmy’s death has, in a cruel way, brought me to an understanding that I must share the true impressions and feelings I have with others.”
Several audience members including her fellows at the Troy Fine Arts Council spoke to her character and how much of an impact she had on the community. Physical evidence of such could be found on the mural in the Troy Sale Barn and the famed South Main Street Mural in Towanda, projects Bonnie had spearheaded.
One of her most interesting achievements was sending a Christmas ornament to the White House and receiving, to her surprise, a handwritten thank you card from then-Vice President Al and second lady Tipper Gore.
The commissioners formally recognized Hilfiger’s contribution to Bradford County and noted that she will be greatly missed.
Commissioners proclaimed April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Awareness Month in Bradford County.
A special service for National Child Abuse Awareness Month will take place April 1st in front of the County Courthouse from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A rally in support of Sexual Assault survivors will be held on the front steps of the courthouse the following day April 2, from 11 a.m. to noon.
County commissioners also approved a letter of support for the Endless Mountains Heritage Foundation as they request funding from DCNR.
Also approved was a Management Services Agreement between Bradford County and Complete Health Care Resources to managed the Bradford County Manor. Complete Health Care Resources has managed the Manor for a number of years.
In light of the recent events surrounding District Attorney Chad Salsman, the commissioners approved an agreement with Laura Wolfe Esq. to provide legal services to the office of the District Attorney at a rate of $75/hour. The agreement will last from March 25th through December 31st 2021.
Questions were raised regarding the acceptance of an agreement with SAM Inc. to assume management of Bradford County Children and Youth Services. When asked as to the motivations behind the commissioner’s decision, Commissioner McLinko stated that the hope was SAM Inc. could more effectively recruit new employees and retain them in the high-turnover profession. McLinko said the Civil Service Test potential caseworkers must take could prove to be a barrier to potential hires; calling it “old and antiquated”. To clarify, SAM is taking control of the Ongoing portion of the department, CYS Intake caseworkers must still be county employees. When a citizen asked what SAM’s plan was to address the case workload, which due to recent retirements, transfers, and resignations is rapidly rising to state-regulated maximums, the commissioners assured those gathered that SAM will start working immediately to address the chronic overburden. When asked the value of the contract signed with SAM, the commissioners responded saying the contract is worth $2.1 million a year for the next three years plus $400,000 to finish out this fiscal year. It is the hope that the move will be “revenue neutral”.
The commissioners went on to approve an agreement with Building Outreach Opportunities to lease the old Wysox Creamery Building for five years pending Solicitor approval.
When open for public comments, Bob Raimo addressed the crowd and commissioners. Raimo, owner of Shooter’s Gauntlet in Monroeton, was representing a new group he founded along with other local business owners called the Bradford County Special Projects Group. The members of the Special Projects Group, Raimo explained, were concerned about the negative economic effects of COVID-19 and related shutdowns and occupancy restrictions on local business. Raimo announced that the group had arranged for Prince Law Firm of Lebanon to come to the Ulster fire hall on Monday, March 29th at 6:30. Prince has worked with business owners to legally expand their occupancy and remain open during COVID restrictions and will be offering free legal advice at the meeting to any business owners who attended. Raimo also said the group will plan to hold a 4th of July event and hold “Dining With Old Glory” events. The events would involve going to different communities in the county and shutting down a street to allow outdoor dining and potentially other activities to boost revenue for struggling businesses.