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Human Interest - Morrisville Borough

Borough Plans to Hire New Manager

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Morrisville Borough has agreed in principle to hire a new Borough Manager several months after the tragic loss of chief  administrator, Scott Mitchell

Lower Bucks Source learned this weekend a decision to offer Judith Danko, who currently is the Community Development Director for Kutztown Borough and has served in that role since October of 2019, was made about two weeks ago.

On Sunday night Councilman Mike Yeager confirmed the choice and said final details are being worked out with an official council vote to possibly come in July to approve the hiring.

Danko has served as Borough Manager for Slatington Borough (2017-2018), Freemansburg on two separate occasions for a total of 15 years and Bath Borough for just over 7 and 1/2 years, according to her Linkdin profile.

Credit: Morrisville Borough

The position opened when  Mitchell passed away due to cancer in February.

Although his illness was kept private, Mitchell shortly after his diagnosis suggested a plan be put into place to streamline a transition because his illness could impact his role as chief borough administrator.

In April council agreed to create the interim position, Micah Heitz now occupies along with his responsibilities as finance director until a new manager is hired.

The borough approved hiring David Woglom of the Robert B & Helen S Meyner Center for the study of state and local government at Lafayette College to conduct search to fill the position for a fee not to exceed $6000.00 plus travel expenses.

The culmination of the search and decision to hire Danko occurred in recent days, Yeager said.

“I really supported the idea of hiring someone from outside of the borough with plenty of municipal experience, and Mrs Danko definitely fits that description,” he said.

Borough officials earlier this month whittled down the candidate list to three, as they were interviewed individually, said Councilman Justin Bowers on his social media page earlier this month. He declined to confirm or deny Danko had been offered the position, saying  he would support a vote to hire the candidate, council recommends.

One candidate dropped out early, which left us with two highly qualified candidates, Yeager said, and then a second removed themselves from the potentials list due to scheduling issues

Asked if council scheduled a vote to hire Danko at Monday’s meeting would he approve, “definitely” the soon to be retiring fourth ward councilman said.

At  last night’s council meeting, Council President Ted Parker said a candidate had been offered the position, but did not mention Danko by name.

Danko who lives in the Lehigh Valley County area, is thought to be considering a move into Bucks County, since traveling to and from Morrisville could eat up a number of  hours driving daily.

Lower Bucks Source contacted Danko on Monday leaving her a message at her current which has not been returned as of publication time.

The soon to be new borough manager has a tough job ahead of her as the cash strapped borough struggles to stay in the black while providing residents with expected services. Her challenge will be creating and developing new ways and means of making the borough viable municipality economically.

Borough officials they hope Danko could start at the beginning of August.

 

 

 

 

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Health - Bensalem Township

THE Giant Co. & Customers Raise More Than $400,000 For Healing Our Planet Initiatives

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Through its Healing Our Planet initiative, The GIANT Company today announced it raised $403,360 in partnership with its customers to support Planet Bee Foundation™ and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful™. During the month of May, customers at GIANT, MARTIN’S and GIANT Heirloom Market stores were invited to round up their grocery purchases to the nearest dollar to support each organization.

“Action inspires action and small changes such as tree plantings and pollinator awareness can make a big difference when it comes to helping our planet, so thank you to our customers who rounded up at the register to support these green initiatives,” said Courtney Hopcraft, manager of charitable giving and community relations, The GIANT Company. “Over the four years of our Healing the Planet campaign, more than $6 million has been raised to grow health and sustainability initiatives centric to creating healthier communities and a more sustainable future.”

Announced earlier this month, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful in partnership with The GIANT Company announced it will award Healing the Planet grants later this summer to local community organizations for tree plantings across Pennsylvania. Additional funding from The GIANT Company will support Pick Up Pennsylvania and local clean up, recycling and greening events.

“Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful is grateful to The GIANT Company for their support of native tree planting in their operating areas in Pennsylvania. Funding will also support our Pick Up Pennsylvania program, so we can continue to meet the needs of families, friends, neighbors, civic groups, nonprofits and municipalities working towards a clean and beautiful Pennsylvania,” said Shannon Reiter, president, Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. “Cleaning and beautifying communities tends to reduce littering and other illegal behaviors, making it a better place for all residents and providing a foundation for community and economic development.”

Credit: Submitted

Planet Bee Foundation drives awareness for pollinators and the importance of bees as a pathway to STEM, conservation, and innovations in agriculture. Funding raised by The GIANT Company will support local beekeepers, research programs, and school and community programs.

“On behalf of Planet Bee Foundation, I wish to extend our deepest gratitude to The GIANT Company for their donation, which has educated and impacted over 109,000 youth. Their generosity has sponsored STEM and Agriculture Education programs in schools, provided supplies to teachers, offered grants to local beekeepers, provided education at public events, and maintained beehives in community gardens, exemplifying their commitment to local communities,” said Debra Tomaszewski, founder and executive director, Planet Bee Foundation. “We are humbled and inspired by The GIANT Company’s commitment to sustainability, the health of our planet, and the well-being of the families they serve.”

For more information on The GIANT Company’s Healing Our Planet initiative, click here please.

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Morrisville Borough

Morrisville Borough Manager, Councilman Resign, Interim Mgr & New Police Chief Hired

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Tuesday night’s Morrisville Borough Council meeting was filled with comings and goings of officials.

Almost three years to the day when Lower Bucks Source reported Morrisville Borough hired a new manager, Judith Danko turned in her resignation Tuesday.

She was hired months after the tragic passing of Scott Mitchell.

Her resignation is effective as of June 22nd.

Judith Darko
Credit: Kutztown Borough

Danko, whose salary was prorated upon hire, according to borough documents obtained through an open records request, was paid $135 K annually with a performance review clause.  If approved by council, that will bring her yearly salary to $140,000.00 annually. When hired,  she declined to answer question related to traveling back and forth from Morrisville to her home in the Bethlehem area.  A Lower Bucks Source 2021 open records request of her contract did not spell out the specifics of a pay-back plan for the cash strapped municipality at the time.

The Bucks County Courier Times, around the time budget discussions were ramping up, reported the borough paid for Danko’s  hotel stays and Pennsylvania Turnpike fees.

She brought with her  has over 20 years of borough management experience serving Slatington Borough (2017-2018), Freemansburg on two separate occasions for a total of 15 years and Bath Borough for just over 7 and 1/2 years when hired. 

Bristol Borough Manager Jim Dillon agreed to temporarily take on an interim role in Morrisville as he maintains his fulltime duties in Bristol Borough.  Both boroughs are similar in population size.

Dillon did not respond to a request for comment Thursday morning.

Morrisville Borough Council President Helen Hlahol, at Tuesday night’s meeting, thanked Bristol for allowing Dillon to help.

Council also approved the hiring of Richard Ciampa as the new Chief of Police.

In recent weeks, then Officer in Charge William Smith, turned down offers from Morrisville to lead the police department sources told this publication.

The borough terminated former Chief George McClay late last year. 

Credit: YouTube Screen Shot

McClay told Patch.com he reached an agreement with Morrisville for $200 K as  part of  a termination settlement, last month.

Councilman John Vitarelli’s submitted his letter of resignation as third ward councilman  effective June 18, 2024.

The borough is currently taking applications to fill the vacancy.

Mayor Gary Wallace did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this story Thursday morning.

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Health - Bensalem Township

“Laughter is the Best Medicine” Says President of Ezra’s Hope

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Cindy Ritter, president of Ezra’s Hope was on her cell phone early Friday morning teaching herself an array of foreign languages. When she answered. which was not expected since it was just past 7 a.m., an approximately hour-long conversation ensued.

The conversation was about the dual sponsored – Laughs for Recovery and Raymour & Flanigan – afternoon sit-down comedy benefit coming up this Saturday, June 22, to support the nonprofit that assists families looking the pain of addiction square in the face.

What better way to raise funds  then with the antidote for pain, which is laughter, right?, she said.

No arguing with that sentiment.

Ezra’s Hope helps families that have been affected by addiction in a variety of ways, including food and clothing donations and financial assistance. In past efforts, the nonprofit has provided care packages and gift cards, food, clothing, furniture, and other necessities, and has helped families pay utility bills. “By helping families pick up the pieces from this terrible disease in a positive light, we hope to prevent the same behavior from continuing,” Ritter said.

According to the CDC, more than 110,000 people across the United States lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2023. Of that number, 4,823 were in Pennsylvania.

Ritter said that a lack of manpower and resources in recent years has prevented the nonprofit from hosting any fundraising events.

Ezra’s Hope is holding their first fundraiser since the pandemic. The small volunteer organization is teaming up with two well-known organizations, Laughs For Recovery and Raymour and Flanigan, to host a three-hour comedy show for charity. The nonprofit hopes the event will bring smiles and laughter to the community while also raising awareness to a topic, that’s no laughing matter, addiction.

“Help has been pretty hard to find. The last time Ezra’s Hope held a fundraiser was in September 2019 before Covid-19 shut the world down. Since then, we have been unable to organize any events to help raise the funds necessary to help families in need,” Ritter said.

 

The sit-down comedy show will take place from 2 p.m.to 5 p.m. pm at Raymour and Flannigan’s Oxford Valley location 9 Cabot Blvd East, Langhorne and will feature performances by a number of local comedians.

Several prominent businesses are also showing their support for Ezra’s Hope. The Iron Pigs. Crayola. Longwood Gardens and Chipotle have all made substantial donations to be used for raffles and giveaways during the event, giving some lucky guests a chance to go home with an unforgettable prize.

Master of Ceremonies and Laughs for Recovery founder Eric Todd of Levittown is hoping the surrounding community comes out in a big way, he said. Todd’s been putting on comedy shows for about three years now.

Laughs for Recovery Outdoor Festival 2023

 

Ezra’s Hope was founded in 2017 as an outlet to offer support and education to families that have experienced the loss of a loved one to addiction. The organization is dedicated to raising awareness through education about addiction and making a difference in the lives of those who have felt the impact of its devastating effects. There is Hope for the future!

Click here to purchase tickets for this event.

For more information about Ezra’s Hope, contact Cindy Ritter ezrashope@gmail.com

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Laughs for Recovery Comic performing Summer of 2023
Credit: Lower Bucks Source

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