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The year in review



Four Democrats made history when they were sworn in as row officers in a packed courtroom in Bucks County. Bucks County government welcomed new Prothonotary Judi Reiss, new Controller Neale Dougherty, new Recorder of Deeds Robin Robinson, new Sheriff Milt Warrell and District Attorney Matt Weintraub, the only Republican. It is the first time in more than 50 years that multiple Democrats have held county row offices.

Supervisor Helen Tai has succeeded Kevin Morrissey as the Solebury Township Board of Supervisors chair for 2018. Mark Baum Baicker was elected 2018 vice chair, replacing Tai in that position. Dennis Carney is township manager, Michele Blood treasurer, Robert Carr deputy tax collector, and Catherine Cataldi as secretary.

Cruel winter days greeted 2018 as hurricane-force winds blew and temperatures dipped to zero and below in local areas. Lakes and ponds froze over and the Delaware River gathered more ice every day. It was 17 degrees when Kathy Peoples photographed the river in Bensalem. “You could almost walk across it,” she said of the river, which at that spot, was frozen from Pennsylvania across to New Jersey.

The Palisades School District building use committee considers declining district enrollment at a meeting in the high school auditorium. The meeting was advertised as focuses on presentation of alternative enrollment projections, and development of a community survey.

Plans are announced to renovate the “trolley barn” and some surrounding buildings on East Broad and Front streets, into an indoor public vendor market to Quakertown’s downtown.

The project is known as the Rail Area Redevelopment Project. Developers Chris LaBonge and Ian Jeffrey have plans to redevelop buildings over the next 12 to 18 months along Route 313 (East Broad Street) the borough’s busiest throughway.

Tinicum Township adopts an ordinance that provides regulations for increasingly common transient residential uses, typically in the form of short-term rentals.

The action was taken following complaints from residents in the riverfront area about disturbing weekend rentals by property owners who were not on the premises at the time.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a statewide disaster declaration to enhance state response, increase access to treatment and save lives in the fight against heroin and opioid addiction. The declaration is the first of its kind for a public health emergency in Pennsylvania. “We are still losing far too many Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the controversial PennEast Pipeline, but critics say they will continue the fight and that there are still hurdles for the pipeline company to overcome.

“Approval of the PennEast Pipeline is a major victory for New Jersey and Pennsylvania families and businesses,” Dat Tran, chair of the PennEast Pipeline Company LLC Board of Managers, said.

“It’s just the beginning. New Jersey doesn’t need or want this damaging pipeline, and has the power to stop it when it faces a more stringent state review,” said Tom Gilbert, campaign director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation.

The Doylestown Borough Council chamber is packed with residents from both the borough and township who came to object or to support putting a Wawa at the location of TD Bank. The majority of the crowd was against the proposed move. Provco Pineville Doylestown LP wants the borough to change the zoning for the site located just north of the Route 202 on- and off-ramps, from high-density residential to freestanding commercial. It was noted that since being zoned in 1972, the property has only been used commercially. It also requests a special exception to the zoning ordinance so it can sell gasoline at the site.

In an ever-changing political environment, the state Supreme Court rules against gerrymandered districts and state legislators have announced they will not run in 2018.

Senators Chuck McIlhinney and Stewart Greenleaf and Rep. Kathy Watson have pulled out of the race.


Doylestown Township turns 200 in 2018, a significant anniversary worth of celebration. After a kickoff gala on Jan. 6, the Bicentennial Committee is gearing up for a March 13 event at Delaware Valley University, an evening about Dr. William Edgar Geil (1865-1925) who made his home in Doylestown Township and was a world famous explorer, evangelist, author, photograph and orator.

Attorneys, judges, politicians, business leaders, journalists, historians and family were among those who packed the Bucks County Bar Association Friday evening to honor the career and legacy of the Hon. Clyde W. Waite, Bucks County’s first African-American judge. Organized by the African American Museum of Bucks County in conjunction with the Doylestown Historical Society, the evening’s centerpiece event included the unveiling of a portrait of Waite by artist Barbara Lewis.

Getting no response from New Hope Borough on paying its fair share for use of Solebury’s sports fields, the township imposes an immediate fee on use of its facilities by its neighbor.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously to charge non-Solebury residents a $50 fee per child to use township recreation fields. The maximum fee per household will be $150. The fee applies to Lambertville, Doylestown and other non-residents. Supervisor Mark Baum Baicker, who proposed the fees, said Solebury remains open to resuming negotiations with New Hope on paying its share of the costs.

Designer, restaurateur, artist and community activist Jim Hamilton traveled the world, learning to cook in France and Italy and skiing on some of the world’s finest slopes. He worked as a set designer on Broadway and became friends with some of the theater’s most well-known stars. But he always came back home to Lambertville, N.J., where he lived until his death at the Actors Fund Home in Englewood, N.J.

A ladder truck that served the Ottsville Volunteer Fire company for 17 years is now on its way to new service in Canada, with its selling price helping to pay for the department’s new truck.

At a Tinicum Township supervisors’ meeting, Chief Bill Shick noted that the departed vehicle “was not obsolete just dry.”

For many Doylestown area senior citizens, university students and others, the Doylestown DART is a positive difference maker, helping them easily get from place to place. In 2017, ridership increased to 27,297 – up from 9,709 in 2012. Senior citizens constituted the majority of the ridership. Nearly 1,500 students from Delaware Valley University rode the DART, which provides service to stops that include Doylestown area shopping centers, cultural institutions like the Mercer Museum, SEPTA rail and bus service, senior residential locations, and more.

County commissioners approve three items totaling just over $2.836 million for the interior demolition project of the Bucks County Administration Building. That work will take place on the first, fourth, sixth and seventh floors of the seven-floor facility, the former courthouse.


The Borough Council of New Hope views sketch plans for a new development along the canal towpath just north of the Mechanic Street bridge, but decided further revisions were needed. Architect Ralph Fey presented the plans for the phased project at 18-20 Mechanic Street along with builder Rich Calabrese. Council member Dan Dougherty expressed having a “hard time squaring” minutes from the Historic Architecture Review Board (HARB) with historical guidelines.

A proposal to build a “Super Wawa” with gas pumps and a fast food restaurant in Hilltown was the subject of concern for the township’s board of supervisors.The topic came up when Solicitor Stephen Harris asked supervisors if they would like him to attend an upcoming zoning hearing board meeting on their behalf.

Springfield’s Park and Recreation board is awarded an additional grant to cover the cost of fully restoring a limekiln in time for the township’s 275th anniversary. SupervisorChairman Dave Long announced a donation of $5,000 from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation.

Resumed activity at a long-dormant quarry in East Rockhill is impacting quality of life, causing road hazards, and threatening everything from property values to local water supply and streams, residents tell the board of supervisors. Residents pack the supervisors’ evening meeting to voice their concerns about the Rockhill Quarry, which was not active since the early 1980s until operations recommenced in recent months. The activity came as a shock to many residents who live near the quarry.

The March for Our Lives Doylestown, a student-led, peaceful demonstration to unite the community to reduce gun violence and to center student voices for safety in schools and communities. Local students join together as youth and allies in a symbolic march led by students, from public high schools to the seat of county government. The March for Our Lives Doylestown is organized by Bucks Students Demand Action, a newly formed, student-centered group of students from across Bucks County.

Doylestown Township officials and local dignitaries, gathered on March 6 at the site of the new municipal building for a groundbreaking ceremony. Tthe construction project that is expected to take between 16 and 18 months to complete. The new building at 425 Wells Road in Doylestown Township will house township administrative offices, the codes office and the township police.

Curious and irate residents converged on the Solebury Municipal Building to hear Wawa’s second presentation on why locating a 24-hour, six-fuel pump Super Wawa across from the Eagle Fire Company would be good for the township. The 5,585-square-foot site straddles New Hope Borough and the township at Sugan and Lower York roads.

The Newtown Township supervisors vote unanimously to apply for a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant that would help pay half the $1 million expected costs associated with construction of a new trail, planned for a stretch along Lower Dolington Road. Approximately 10 feet wide and paved with asphalt, the trail would connect Roberts Ridge Park at Frost Lane with a portion of Upper Silver Lake Road.

Five years after preliminary and final land development approval, which was done concurrently because the developer was “in a hurry,” residents expect to see some visible progress on the Weis supermarket, at the intersection of Routes 313 and 113 in Bedminster.The estimate followed the township supervisors’ approval of a Memorandum of Development Agreement with Weis Markets Inc. The plan was basically finalized in July of 2013.

Sellersville officials want to ensure that residential and commercial buildings in the Upper Bucks borough are kept in good condition. With that in mind, borough council votes to adopt the International Property Maintenance Code – a model code that regulates the minimum maintenance requirements for existing buildings, establishing standards for things such as ventilation, heating, sanitation, fire safety and more.

Four people are arraigned for what an emergency room trauma nurse called “the worst case of neglect” she had ever seen. Albert Weaver Sr., 84, was in the care of his son and daughter-in-law, and his granddaughter and her boyfriend.

East Rockhill and Pennridge Airport reach a tentative agreement to allow the airport on Ridge Road to build two new airplane hangars. In June 2017, the East Rockhill Board of Supervisors granted the airport approval to construct the hangars, but attached 29 conditions that the aviation center would have to abide by to do so.


Citing overbearing liability and maintenance concerns, the Haycock Township Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against participating in a bike lane proposal for Route 563 (Mountain View Road). The proposal had been presented by the Heritage Conservancy. Haycock’s proposed 4.5-mile section, the largest township piece, was deemed beyond the scope of the township’s staff and budget to maintain. In addition, they said that even though Route 563 is a state road, liability in the event of an accident, such as a pothole crash, would fall to the township, not the state.

ArtYard, receives the variances it needs to build a $10 million gallery and theater in Frenchtown, N.J. The nonprofit arts group would now simultaneously pursue final approval and state Department of Environmental Protection approval. ArtYard already has a temporary gallery and theater, but it is seeking a permanent 20,900-square-foot home at the corner of Front and Lott streets.

The Palisades School District’s Building Use Ad Hoc Committee, which has been considering alternative school closing scenarios for over a year and a half as a response to declining district enrollment, recommends to the school board that all school closing scenarios be tabled.

While Perkasie Borough Council approves roughly $94,000 for new playground equipment at Menlo Park Monday, it’s unclear if the park’s signature antique carousel will be open for business in May. The popular borough attraction, open on set dates each year from May to December, is in working order. The problem is the fire prevention sprinkler system, located within the carousel building, may not be.

Despite a sea of union blue in the audience, a divided Quakertown Community School Board voted to furlough five elementary teachers as well as a guidance counselor, librarian and nurse. But there is a silver lining of sorts for some of those staff members. Chief Operating Officer Zach Schoch confirmed there were at least seven anticipated long-term substitute positions, which would allow some to retain their current benefits for another year, and additional retirements and resignations could occur by June 30.

Conditional use and final land development approvals are granted by Nockamixon Township for a new 11,000-plus-square-foot supermarket in Harrow Station, at the intersection of Routes 611 and 412.The supermarket is to be housed in a single new building with a 4,000-square-foot restaurant. Access is to be from a new entrance along Durham Road (Route 412).


New Hope-Solebury School District and teachers and support staff ratifiy a new, four-year contract after 18 months of negotiations. The contract includes an annual 2.2 percent basic raise.

A double murder rocks the Northampton Township community after the bodies of young married couple Christina Celenza Roy and Tyler Christopher Roy are discovered in their split-level home. The couple’s suspected killer, Daniel Kenneth Mooney, is found dead in Philadelphia.

Quakertown Community School Board member Austin Sedicum resigns.

Pennridge School District names Dr. David Bolton as superintendent.

Upper Makefield hires a new public works foreman, Matthew Gorman.

Doylestown Township supervisors approve a motion authorizing the transfer of a liquor license to a new Giant supermarket at 1661 Easton Road. The store is expected to open in February.

Helen Tai of Solebury Township flips the 178th District GOP seat in a special election.

St. Luke’s University Health Network breaks ground on the new 131,000-square-foot St. Luke’s Quakertown Hospital in Milford Township.

Cosmo DiNardo, the Bensalem man charged in the murders of four young men on his parents’ Solebury property in the summer of 2017, pleads guilty and is sentenced to life in prison. His cousin, Sean Kratz of Philadelphia, accused in three of the four murders, rejects a plea deal and will go to trial.

A mysterious early morning explosion, believed to have originated in the area of Lonely Cottage Road in Nockamixon, rocks Upper Bucks County.

Newtown Township turns down a bid to construct a 2,000-square-foot Starbucks on Eagle Road.

Solebury officials learn the township has received an additional $1 million grant to complete its Route 202 trail in Aquetong Spring Park.

Palisades School District’s Ad Hoc Building use Committee, formed to consider closing one or more schools as a response to declining enrollment, formally ceases operation.

Bucks County files a suit against major manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids in an effort to stanch the flood of addictive medications into the community and recover damages for the “devastating losses” – human and financial – caused by the opioid epidemic.


Stockton Borough Elementary School, the oldest and smallest continuously operating school in New Jersey, closes its doors after 185 years.

Former Solebury Township Supervisor Helen Tai is sworn in as a state representative.

Doylestown Health launches One Vision, a $75 million philanthropic campaign to support, among several initiatives, the construction of the Center for Heart and Vascular Care.

New Hope Borough Council discusses a variance to permit expansion of Cintra, the 1824 mansion inspired by a Portuguese palace that is being converted to condominiums.

Pipeline operator Adelphia Gateway presents plans for a compressor station on an existing site on Rich Hill Road bordering Richland and West Rockhill townships.

Hilltown Township announces its intention to sell the former Blooming Glen High School. It later accepts Marc and Daniela Troilo’s bid of $128,240 for the 34,041-square-foot lot.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown hires Kathleen Jameson, former president and CEO of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, N.C., as its next executive director.

Plans for a 42-lot development on the 408-acre Rolling Hills Farm proceed in Tinicum Township after a conservation conversion is denied.

A PennDot project at the intersection of routes 611 and 212 in Durham Township causes long waits at traffic lights and incites complaints from angry motorists.

Boy Scouts and alumni of the old Treasure Island Boy Scout Camp spend a day cleaning up the 42-acre island, now owned by John and Dave Haubert of Upper Black Eddy.

Richlandtown Borough Council discusses fire safety after a fire shutters the historic Richlandtown Inn and displaces as many as 13 residents.

Nockamixon Township approves plans for Harrow Manor, a 77-acre combined residential-commercial development on Route 611 adjacent to Tabor Road. It will consist of 14 residential lots and an 11-acre commercial part.

Central Bucks School District teachers will get an overall 12.8 percent increase in their salary and benefits package after the district approves a four-year teacher contract.

Doylestown opens pump track for in Chapman Park. The off-road biking path was built with the intention of helping riders build fitness and bike-handling skills.


Suspected in a series of explosions across Upper Bucks County, a Milford chemical company owner, David W. Surman Jr., is charged with making or possessing bombs.

Newtown Township bids farewell to Manager Kurt Ferguson, Police Chief Henry Pasqualini and Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Jen Dix.

Friends of Nockamixon State Park dedicate an ADA Board Safe Adaptive Kayak/Canoe Dock and adaptive area at the Tohickon Boat Launch.

Jack Crust of Urban Renewel LLC signs an agreement to purchase the Union Hotel in Flemington, N.J., from its owner, Steve Romanowski.

A 59-townhouse development at 323 California Road in Richland Township receives preliminary approval.

Supervisors approve two projects in Solebury: the New Hope Oral Surgical Center on Route 179 and a 10-acre banquet facility at the Route 202 spur approaching the toll bridge.

Plumstead Township neighbors of Boy Scout Camp Ockanickon voice concern over well drilling.

Plans for a Wawa near the intersection of Easton and Swamp roads get a firm recommendation of “no” from The Buckingham Township Planning Commission.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denies Adelphia’s request to throw out Springfield Township’s motion to intervene in a proposed pipeline project. FERC’s move preserves the townships’ right to appeal any decisions to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The state Department of Environmental Protection provides a five-year update on its work at a chemical contamination site in Nockamixon Township. The DEP has sampled more than 100 private wells and installed 17 monitoring wells of its own. Carbon filtration systems have also been installed at 41 local properties.


Buckingham residents protest development plans for 42 residential units on the McKee Tract.

Central Bucks School District appoints new principals: Lori Gallagher-Landis at Central Bucks East; Christina Adelberger at Paul W. Kutz Elementary School; Brian Caughie at Tamanend Middle School; Kathleen Fantaskey at Doyle Elementary School; Cheryl Leatherbarrow at Warwick Elementary School; Chad Watters at Unami Middle School; Joseph Brereton at John Barclay Elementary School; Karl Funseth at Butler Elementary School.

Accused of sending sexually explicit emails to a local teenager, former Bucks County Playhouse owner Ralph Miller, 71, enters a not guilty plea to charges of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and related offenses.

Colonial Farms Market expansion project receives final approval from the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors. The building will be expanded by 700 square feet and 10 parking spaces will be added.

A heavy-duty tow truck crashes into Galasso’s Pizza at Bridge Street and Trenton Avenue in Frenchtown, N.J., bursting into flames and causing a fire that destroys he pizzeria and part of the building housing the Frenchtown Cafe. Apartment tenants and the driver escaped.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission present plans to create a cul-de-sac that would close Doerr Road in Milford Township.

Firefighters are credited with minimizing the extent of an oil spill that washed into the Delaware River from a demolition site in Frenchtown, N.J.

Richland Township supervisors approve a zoning change to allow for a new 220-home development on Rich Hill Road to proceed to the township and county planning commissions.

Torrential rain causes Cooks Creek to swell and wash out a section of Dogwood Lane in Durham Township.

Months after the Quakertown Community School District Board votes to close Tohickon Valley Elementary School, the building is reopened to Niedig Elementary’s students for the 2018-19 school year as construction projects continue at their school.

Palisades School District approves a new three-year contract with teachers.

After 25 years in Doylestown, Bon-Ton closes its doors. All 256 stores in the Bon-Ton chain are closing, the latest brick-and-mortar retail casualty caused, in part, by competition from online shopping.

Nockamixon Township supervisors propose the use of eminent domain to change Old Schoolhouse Way.

Arcadia Land Development Co. enters its third round of negotiations with Newtown Township supervisors regarding Arcadia Green – a proposal to build a combination of 76 single-family detached homes and townhouses.


Thomas, Heck, a New Britain Borough man convicted twice of possessing child pornography is sentenced to serve eight and one-half to 17 years in state prison.

Jason K. Lutey, a New Britain Borough man, is charged with homicide, after the body of his girlfriend was found in the back of his SUV.

A celebration of the County Theater’s 80th birthday, and its 25th anniversary as a nonprofit, includes a birthday cake, old photographs, commemorative T-shirts and a screening of the 1938 classic, “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Later in the month, the executive director reveals plans for the theater’s expansion into the former Poor Richard’s store, expected to cost approximately $4.2 million.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System and Grand View Health announce a new alliance focused on the development of joint clinical care programs for people in Bucks and Montgomery counties and the surrounding area.

Doylestown Health receives a $1 million state grant for the construction of a state-of-the-art Center for Heart and Vascular Care, currently under construction on the Doylestown Hospital campus. The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant is a Commonwealth grant program administered by the Office of the Budget.

Authorities arrest a woman accused of harboring a fugitive in the Solebury Township home where she worked as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman, and a day later find the fugitive hiding in a closet in a house in Delaware County.

David Allen Hamilton Jr. is arrested by the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force on charges of rape of a child and related charges, for crimes alleged to have occurred during the past five years, after nine days on the run from Lower Southampton police. He also is charged with aggravated assault after police said he tried to steal a weapon from a New Hope police officer who tried to arrest him during his time on the run.

The caregiver, Meredith Custudio, is charged with hindering apprehension and conspiracy.


Sarah Elizabeth Squitieri of Doylestown Township is charged with threats to use weapons of mass destruction in connection with an anonymous tip that led to the one-day closing of Bucks County Community College’s Newtown campus in late September.

Squitieri, who was a student at the college, is accused of sending the tip indicating violence was planned. Authorities said there was no credible threat to the college.

Dublin resident Andrea Lynne DeWolf is charged with arson and related charges for allegedly trying to set fire to a New Hope restaurant and a Solebury church, both of which were open and occupied at the time.

Police said she set a bottle containing gasoline on fire inside a bathroom at Havana Restaurant less than two hours after starting a fire at Thompson Memorial Church during a public clothing drive.

Bucks County corrections officer Carl Wayne Stokes is charged with fraud and theft for working at another job while receiving workers’ compensation assistance from the county.

According to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, he took undercover investigators on a paid, guided fishing trip while receiving workers’ compensation.

President Trump signs the Saracini Aviation Act into law. The legislation is named in memory of pilot Victor J. Saracini of Yardley, who was killed when terrorists hijacked United Flight 175 on Sept. 11, 2001.

Central Bucks Family YMCA, Lower Bucks Family YMCA and Upper Bucks YMCA announce they have merged into one organization: YMCA of Bucks County, effective Jan. 1.

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network files a federal lawsuit in Philadelphia, seeking to block PennDot and the Federal Highway Administration from demolishing the historic Headquarters Bridge in Tinicum Township in order to replace it with a wider, more modern structure.

Four Richland Township residents plead guilty to neglecting an elderly relative, Albert Weaver Sr., found dehydrated, malnourished and suffering from severe infections in late 2016, and three also plead guilty to stealing money from the man, who died.

Albert Weaver Jr., his wife, Virgina, and their daughter’s boyfriend, Anthony James Dorney, all were sentenced to serve time in state prison. Their daughter, Amanda Weaver, requested and received a deferral of sentence to receive a mental health evaluation.

A statue of the late Central Bucks West Football Coach Mike Pettine Sr. is unveiled outside War Memorial Field in Doylestown.


The Bucks County Commissioners join members of Perkasie Borough Council and the local community to celebrate the opening of the reconstructed Walnut Street Bridge, which had been closed since October 2017.

The new $5.1 million bridge is the fourth incarnation of a span that has crossed the East Branch of the Perkiomen Creek since 1867.

Doylestown Borough Council unanimously approves an application for a new 4,700-square-foot Wawa food store with 12 gas pumps on South Main Street, on the site of the former TD Bank. The store will replace the existing smaller location on South Main Street.

Gristie’s, a shop offering three floors of antiques and oddities for 18 years in an 18th century grist mill in Kintnersville, closes when owners Nevin and Ginny Smith retire.


A plan to demolish the Wawa at the intersection of routes 313 and 113 and replace it with a new 5,800-square-foot Super Wawa that would feature eight gas pumps and an adjacent fast-food restaurant receives approval from the Hilltown Township supervisors.

New Britain Borough officials hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for The Gathering at University village, a mixed-use development that will include 141 apartments and 15,000 square feet of shops and restaurants spread across three buildings on 7 acres on West Butler Avenue, also known as Business Route 202.

The development is part of a long-term plan to encourage coordinated development along the corridor from Shady Retreat Road to Iron Hill Road.

U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti rules Penn East Pipeline officials can begin seizing property from public and private landowners in New Jersey, along the proposed 117-mile pipeline route through eminent domain, moving the $1.2 billion project a step closer to completion.

A major heroin packaging operation at a house in Warminster is shuttered, large quantities of heroin are seized and 11 people are arrested following a multi-agency investigation.

Doylestown Township’s year long bicentennial celebration concludes with placement of a time capsule, burying it underneath the site of the new municipal building under construction at 425 Wells Road.

The deadline to raise the funds needed to save Highland Farm, the former home of Broadway lyricist and humanitarian Oscar Hammerstein II, from development, is extended from the end of the year to next November. The Friends of Oscar Hammerstein initiative seeks to create a museum and theater education center on the site.