Mt. Olive Online Publication May 30, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication May 30, 2020
By Cheryl Conway
The in-person crowd was missing but surely not the pomp and circumstance displayed at the local annual Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony this past Monday, May 25.
Sponsored by the All Veterans Memorial and All Veterans Alliance, the 2020 Memorial Day Ceremony was held at 11 a.m. at the AVM in Budd Lake with the permitted 25 guests on the ceremonial grounds, and several other limited spectators watching from the parking lot and the area surrounding the site. The other thousands of viewers watched virtually via the mayor’s Facebook page.
Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum’s Facebook page, as of Monday, showed that the livestream was up to 2.7 thousand views. In order to adhere to the New Jersey Governor’s executive order that permits outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people due to COVID-19, the mayor allowed for the ceremony to be held at the AVM and provided livestream on his page.
Despite its limitations, the ceremony paid tribute “to remember the sacrifices of America’s fallen from the Revolutionary War to present,” as spoken by ceremony’s narrator, retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rob Bedell, who also recognized front-line medical workers battling in the ongoing war against COVID-19.
“As you can see this year’s ceremony is much different from years’ past,” says Bedell. “Instead of in-person on the grounds of the All Veteran’s Memorial,” people are “watching from the safety of your homes. Instead of procession of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and cadets, flags and uniforms are on static display.
“Although this time-honored ceremony might be different in its presentation, what has not changed is our community’s heart to honor our nation’s fallen soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and coast guardsmen,” says Bedell.
“We would also be remiss to not acknowledge and thank our medical workers and first responders who have been battling the ongoing war with the COVID-19 virus,” he adds. “We have lost many Americans these past few months, some of which have been our comrades at arms who’ve survived the battlefield but have succumbed to this deadly virus. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those family and friends of these brave people.”
In his welcoming remarks, Bedell also thanked the mayor “who recognized the importance and essential need for a community to publicly honor Americans fallen especially on this day of Remembrance.”
He also thanked the local Boy Scout Troop Post 249 “for setting up period uniform displays and the American flags,” and the AVA “who tirelessly serve the veterans of this community and abroad through outreach programs and annual remembrance ceremonies in the creation and upkeep of this magnificent All Veterans Memorial located in the heart of our community.”
Following the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance, Rabbi Yaacov Shusterman, spiritual leader and co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Northwest New Jersey in Flanders, gave the invocation.
“We come to pay humble tribute to our fallen comrades from all conflicts, to ensure that the stewards of freedom protected us from the harm of ignorance and tyrannical people,” says Shusterman. We may not be gathered in large masses today but our love and gratitude is not lost to the sentiment of a crowd.
“We are eternally indebted for every soldier, sailor, marine, and airman who have and will sacrifice their lives to protect others selflessly, even through a pandemic of this magnitude.”
AVM and AVA Founder Charlie Uhrmann gave the keynote speech and spoke about “The Cost of Liberty.”
She states, “I stand today amid these venerated stones not to mourn the late American heroes they commemorate, but rather to thank those heroes wholeheartedly for their brave commitment to preserving liberty in this great country. Samuel Adams once postured that “all might be free if they valued freedom and defended it as they ought.” While that simple sentiment holds a powerful truth, it fails to convey the exorbitant cost of defending freedom: Precious human life.”
Uhrmann went on to share the statics of those American soldiers who have died over the years since the first casualty of the American Revolution that occurred “one quarter of a millennium” ago when “proud dockworker Crispus Attucks and four other American colonists were shot and killed during a brawl with British redcoats who were sent to enforce the Townshend Acts,” in the Boston Massacre.
“I have to imagine that he understood the value of liberty deep in his bones, perhaps better than anyone,” says Uhrmann, about Attucks who escaped the bonds of slavery as a young adult. “Men like Attucks are an eternal reminder that liberty is not given; it is taken and protected by any means necessary. Nearly every one of us personally knows and loves at least one veteran who has followed the example set by Attucks, and placed his or her ‘precious human life’ as an obstacle between our American liberties and those who would seek to corrode them.
“In the 250 years since the Boston Massacre, 1.2 million American soldiers have died in service of our country,” says Uhrmann. “That puts the cost of liberty at about 13 ‘precious human lives’ per day on average, dating all the way back to the dawn of our one nation under God.”
Uhrmann speaks how American patriotism continues and points to recent protests to safeguard individual liberties.
“Our voices are as loud now as ever,” she says. “Consider that the five largest protests in United States history have all taken place across the past few years. Notice that nearly every day these past few weeks, footage of a protest in some state or another was aired on national television. Samuel Adams would be proud, having once preached that, “For true patriots to be silent, is dangerous.”
She says the underlying message is that “the American people do not cower in the face of perceived oppression, but instead rise to meet it head-on, as our predecessor Crispus Attucks did so long ago.” She also calls for the need to act as one nation, despite the political divide.
“We cannot let that push us to forfeit our civility towards one another,” she says. “Each one us is acting with the common intent to safeguard the liberty deep within the soul of American patriotism. Perhaps if we approached our differences with that understanding, the chorus of our voices in renewed unity would deafen our foes and buttress our troops to a degree that defies our very imagination.”
Following Uhrmann’s speech, the setting of a service paver took place to honor U.S. Army Captain Herman Rosenberg who fought in the WWII Battle of Luzon. The other designated pavers were set privately following the ceremony.
Memorial wreaths were then placed by five members of the Morris Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution. They included: Corresponding Secretary Katherine Newcomber, representing the U.S. Army, laying a wreath at the Global War On Terror Memorial Bridge; Chapter Regent Carrie Efinger, U.S. Navy, laying a wreath at the War Dog Memorial; First Vice Regent Peg Shultz, U.S. Air Force, laying a wreath at the Spiritual Cenotaph; Registrar Becky Wilder, U.S. Coast Guard, laying a wreath at the Warrior Obelisk; and Past Chapter Regent Patricia Sanftner, U.S. Marine Corps, laying a wreath at the POW/MIA/PTSD Remembrance Wall.
Toward the close of the ceremony, a moment of silence was held, followed by the playing of "Taps" by Christine Emmet of the U.S. Marine Corps., and benediction by Shusterman.
“As we have paid homage to their lives given to our freedom;
seen and heard stories of great sacrifices, honor, and selfless service to all our fellow mankind; we are humbled,” says Shusterman.
“Be with us and guide us forward to love and support each other no matter the race, color, creed or abstract of our views of or faiths,” he says. Let us be the world community of love and harmony. Let no problem be great enough to conquer that loving spirit.
“We should be so proud and hearts filled with warmth to know and have shared our lives with so many generous and amazing people,” he continues. “We make this world absolutely wonderful.
“Bless everyone who has made our country run during this time and all the essential workers everywhere for all they are doing we will heal united we will rebound stronger than before,” he concludes. “Until then, bless all of those who serve and sacrifice in the name of the greater good and God bless America.”
For a full view of the livestream, visit https://www.facebook.com/148566751876210/videos/272075647320102/
By Cheryl Conway
The restricted number of attendees at the local Memorial Day Ceremony did not rid the parade for local Boy Scouts who still made their presence known with their flags, displays and tents.
Boy Scout Troop 249 of Budd Lake, out of St. Jude’s Church, participates every year in the Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony held at the All Veterans Memorial in Budd Lake but for this year’s event it had to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The governor’s executive order did not infringe on the scout’s important role.
Out of the 15 members of the local Boy Scout troop, ages 12-17, eight were involved in setting up 200 American flags at the AVM, four WWII Tents and uniform displays representing each war, according Robert Brauman of Budd Lake, Troop committee-member and treasurer of Boy Scout Troop 249.
On Sunday, May 24, the day before the ceremony, the Boy Scouts set up the displays. From 2 p.m. to about 5:30 p.m., they set up the flags, tents and uniforms, says Brauman.
For the past few years, this troop has dedicated itself to attending the annual ceremony to teach others about the meaning behind the day as it’s their “civic responsibility and patriotism,” says Brauman.
“This year,” the Boy Scouts had “less opportunity to set up at cemeteries because of the virus,” says Brauman. Some members of Boy Scout Troop 249 are members of the ROTC at Mt. Olive High School which organizes a display at local cemeteries, says Brauman, adding that the effort is not a Boy Scout event. He says he “didn’t see any opportunity or email to set that up this year” by the ROTC.
Following guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the state, Brauman led his troop in setting up the display at the AVM. The boys wore masks and kept their distance. Since Sunday was the first day for the governor’s increase to 25 people at outdoor gatherings, the Boy Scouts were allowed to show up as a larger group.
Whether they were allowed to attend or not, Brauman says it “comes down to the day. They were glad to be involved; not being a public event but to set up the day before. They like putting up the tents.”
Some of the boys, who are involved with the Adventure Troop, have served as reenactors at the AVM ceremony. This year, they did show others the tents when they set them up.
“They didn’t dress up but we will be back to it next year,” says Brauman.
AVM and AVA Founder Charlie Uhrmann provided the Boy Scout Troop with the flags, tents and uniforms. The boys then built the stands, painted the posts and then dressed them in uniforms, he says.
The boys who were involved this year included: Robbie Brauman, Shane Suralik, Shawn Leyson, Cole Vogt, Matthew Reiner, Oliver Huynh. Representing Cub Scouts, Pack 249 included: Owen Vogt and Sean Dwyer.
Food Drive Tomorrow, May 31
By Cheryl Conway
The seeds have been planted, literally in his front-yard garden, as well as in his mind to help as many people as he can during this pandemic.
Clover Hill resident Bobby Varua of Flanders has been collecting food for the Mt. Olive Food Pantry for the past several weeks by hosting weekly food drives in his neighborhood. The famous chef now cooks up the idea to collect food for a neighboring town in need.
“This amazing town of Clover Hill/ Mt. Olive will be collecting on May 31st to assist another neighboring town in need... Dover, N.J.,” he states.
Varua posted his next food drive on the Facebook Clover Hill Community Forum Page.
On Sunday May 31, he writes, “My wife Jennifer and I will drive around between 2 -4 p.m., like we’ve done before, to collect donations. Please mark the bag or box with “DOVER.”
He also says he will be leaving his small trailer in front of his house for donations. “If you’re out and about, please feel free to drop off,” he writes. “I will most likely be outside tending my mini farm of vegetables in the front.”
Varua’s food collections have been driven by his calling to help those who are struggling with feeding their families due to job loss as a result of COVID-19. Not estranged from the aftermath of the pandemic, Varua has also been laid off as a chef along with his wife, Jennifer who worked in hospitality.
Varua worked as an executive chef at Americana Kitchen and Bar in East Windsor up until the week after St. Patty’s Day; Jennifer Varua was the director of sales at the new MC Hotel in Montclair before it closed from COVID-19.
With three kids to provide for, they thankfully have a “nest egg,” but Varua realizes other families do not and they are relying on their local food pantries for food.
The couple has done their part in collecting food for the local pantry; now they are extending their reach to help those in Dover.
“It’s been a couple of weeks since our last food drive pick-up for The Mt. Olive Pantry,” writes Varua. “Jennifer and I have been staying in contact with Susan who manages the pantry. As of two days ago,” he writes earlier this week, “The Mt. Olive Pantry is in pretty good shape according to Susan. She said there has been a couple of new families coming to the pantry, which she expected, as this unprecedented unemployment is slowly affecting some of our fellow Mt. Olive neighbors.
“But altogether, the pantry is doing well,” he says, unlike “the town of Dover,” which “has been severely affected by this outbreak, recording some of the highest positive testing as well as one of the areas recording some of the most significant deaths in N.J.”
Some of those struggling are members of his former culinary team when he worked as the Chef of The Madison Hotel & Rods Steakhouse in Morristown back in 2013.
“Most of these men are from Dover, have lost their jobs and unfortunately cannot claim unemployment and receive aid from our government,” he says. “One of my last chefs has three children, from Dover, and is struggling to put food on the table for his kids.”
Varua is working with Fernando Barrios in Dover and Gustavo Rubio who took over his position as chef when he left.
“Fernando is in charge of the community outreach for Dover and Gustavo has been assisting myself in mediating,” says Varua.
“I am asking for this great community of Clover Hill to assist in donating food and supplies to the following: One of my last employees mentioned who is struggling to feed his three children with no unemployment support; St. John’s Episcopal Church; Trinity Lutheran Church; The United Methodist Church; and lastly, First Memorial Presbyterian Church, all located in Dover.
Varua is also looking for other volunteers throughout Mt. Olive, outside of Clover Hill, to help with the donations.
“I wish I was able to post this on The Mount Olive Forum,” he says, “but I’m afraid I just wouldn’t be able to handle all of Mt. Olive donations by myself. If someone would like to assist... any help would be greatly appreciated.”
Varua thanks everyone in advance for all of their donations.
“Thank you so much Clover Hill for all kind and generous donations!” he writes. “Let’s help a neighboring community and reach out with arms and hands extended.”
Varua’s front yard garden is also taking shape with roots growing. While he admits to not having “the greenest thumb,” he says he hopes to provide fresh vegetables to the food pantry in 45 to 60 days, he says.
“Our pantry will get vegetables,” he says. “The Varua Farm [is] coming along.”
He includes a quote from Matthew 17:20: “For I assure you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."
Photo: By Molly Conway, MOHS Senior
After news that in-person graduations will be allowed in New Jersey, the Mt. Olive School District is looking at options for an outdoor graduation for high school seniors from the class of 2020.
Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki made the announcement during this past Tuesday’s Parent University for all parents and provided another live update via Facebook on Thursday. He is proposing July 8 for graduation day with July 9 as the rain date, and the decision will need approval by the Mt. Olive Board of Education at the next BOE meeting set for June 8 at 6:30 p.m.
The announcement brings hopeful news to hundreds of seniors and their parents wishing upon an in-person graduation after COVID-19 has put the breaks on social gatherings or limits to 25 people outdoors to stop the potential spread of the virus.
“Eight days ago I asked everyone to please, please chill out; that I thought there’d be good news coming,” says Zywicki. “That came today! That’s really, really good news!”
As of now, Zywicki says there are three options on the table for high school graduation: Traditional graduation with all students and their guests at Marauder Stadium; Outdoor graduation at the stadium with social distancing in place with students and two guests; Outdoor graduation with just students and some members of administration and the board.
The result will most likely be option two or three, he says, since the current mandate limits outdoor gatherings to 25 people.
Zywicki says he is awaiting guidance from the N.J. State Department of Education on the details and specific guidelines for these permitted outdoor graduations.
He needs to see “what the parameters will actually be.”
Zywicki gave a quick update on his Facebook page on Thursday, May 28, saying that as of now the limit would be for 25 people at the graduation, based on the outdoor mandate, but he is hopeful that number will increase by July 8. If the limited number still exists, the school district could have multiple sessions for graduates.
Social distancing will be required which means “yes” students will have to wear PPE (masks), he says. Another suggestion is for temperature checks for students to attend.
As far as an in-person graduation for eighth graders, that “will still be virtual,” he says, adding that they may do a car parade. “We can’t do a clap out for fifth graders” neither.
Last Day, Pick Up, Reentry Plans
He is also looking at the last day of school to be June 23 for five schools and a half day for the Mt. Olive Middle School on June 24. The BOE will also need to approve these dates.
The district needs to adhere to the 180-day school year, and with that it “can’t end it early,” he notes.
Zywicki’s live-feed on Facebook froze after these announcements but he was able to resume the session shortly thereafter.
His live-feed freezing is just another testament to “Adaptability and perseverance,” says Zywicki, like the students need to adjust with distance learning.
Details on locker-clean out will be coming next week, he says. He is looking at June 15 for elementary schools to pick up items via drive-thru; June 29 for MOMS; and last week of June for high school students.
“Please be patient with us,” says Zywicki, as the executive order remains that they cannot yet enter the buildings but he is hoping that rule gets lifted.
High school yearbooks will be mailed to those students who ordered one; MOMS students can pick up their yearbooks on June 19.
He met with members of the senior class last Friday to discuss their ideas for prom. They are thinking of organizing one either right before or right after graduation if permitted, he says.
He is also coming up with a reentry plan for the next school year. Zywicki has been discussing ideas with students, PTO’s, BOE and Board of Health for protocols for opening schools in the fall. He has created a committee that includes nurses, teachers, child study team members and members of the special education study team to come up with options.
Zywicki is also looking at what other states are doing including Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, Ohio and Kentucky who have put out plans already.
“New Jersey still lagging a little bit,” Zywicki says, in regard to reopening plans but he is being proactive and intends to share his ideas with the BOE at the next meeting.
He will know in June and decisions will ultimately come from the governor.
“What are the likely options?” he says. His goal is to know by the end of the school year.
Ideas include traditional operations; Severe social distancing with four or five lunch periods at the high school; Split schedule with a.m. and p.m. or A/B days which he says would be a “nightmare” for parents and bussing; Virtual School continued.
For fall sports, Zywicki says he may have to move fall sports to winter.
“Please be patient,” he says.
Zywicki says he hopes to know more details next week so parents can attend Parent University via Facebook at 4 p.m., Monday, June 1, for updated information. They can also check his daily blog.
“Distance learning is an absolute grind,” Zywicki admits, as the district reaches the “end of almost third month of this.” He reminds all to email teachers, guidance counselors, school principals and himself of any issues.
“Please finish out the year strong,” concludes Zywicki.
By Cheryl Conway
Mt. Olive voters may get to vote on an ordinance in the November election that will protect cats’ lives in Mt. Olive and nearby towns.
There is a petition circulating around town to support a No-Kill Ordinance. By July 1, 497 signatures are required to be turned into the municipal clerk’s office in order for the question to placed on the ballot.
Creators of the petition are almost halfway there but are seeking more signatures.
“We have 188 validated right now,” Michelle Lerner, president of the Mt. Olive TNR, says on Friday.
For those registered to vote in Mt. Olive, sign the Mt. Olive TNR Project petition to put a no-kill ordinance on Mt. Olive's November ballot. To sign: Go to https://tinyurl.com/y8u6ulfz
Enter name and email. Enter name and address as listed on voter rolls.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a fact sheet and copy of ordinance and share this information with other Mount Olive voters.
Lerner says signatures are coming in but some are not filling in signatures correctly.
“If people want to sign, they should be careful not to let the computer use autofill to fill in the address field because it does not work and results in the person's name being put in twice instead and invalidating the signature,” explains Lerner. As a result, signatures are being imprinted twice without addresses, she says.
“All of them, if not corrected, are invalid, and it's cost us a lot of signatures because people don't realize they're doing it,” says Lerner. Do not use autofill, she advises.
With stores closed and the stay-at-home mandate, Lerner says it has been difficult to get signatures.
“Because of the pandemic, we have to get signatures electronically, with a digital signature stamp or other kind of electronic signature, or by people printing and scanning the petition. We set up a Docusign website with the petition to make this easier.”
What Is The No-Kill Ordinance?
This ordinance limits the euthanasia of cats impounded by Mt. Olive, as explained on the fact sheet provided by the Mt. Olive TNR non-profit group. “It allows impounded cats to be euthanized only if they are terminally ill and irremediably suffering, This is the definition of no-kill adopted unanimously in a resolution by the NJ Assembly a few years ago, which encouraged the adoption of no-kill policies. Tame cats who do not meet this criteria currently are, and should continue to be, placed with rescues. Feral cats should be Trap-Neuter-Returned or, in the rare circumstances this is not possible, placed at barn homes. These practices are currently followed in Mt. Olive but are not required by law. This ordinance would require that these practices continue to be followed.
According to the fact sheet: “There is no written no-kill policy, and every few years, due to changes in staff and elected officials, the township does something that either leads or is likely to lead to the return of larger scale euthanasia. Most recently, in 2018 and 2019 the township contracted to impound animals for other towns, some of which don’t allow Trap-Neuter-Return and expected Mt. Olive to euthanize their feral cats and, in some cases, their unreclaimed tame animals. Mt. Olive residents convinced the administration to cancel these contracts and stop euthanizing animals for other towns. But there is nothing in place to prevent a new administration or new staff from making such contracts again. This ordinance would prevent that.
No-Kill Ordinance Is Born
The idea for a No-Kill Ordinance came up “about a year and a half ago, when it came to our attention that new staff members with animal control oversight were unaware that the town had become no-kill and started taking actions to threaten that status,” explains Lerner. “The group of primary volunteers in Mt. Olive TNR started discussing the need for a no-kill ordinance. We realized that without formal codification of the no-kill ethic and practices adopted over the last decade, the institutional memory gets lost with political and staffing transitions and people- sometimes inadvertently- can easily return the town to killing impounded animals.”
Lerner originally thought the town was going to support her idea for the ordinance that protects the cats now and later.
“When we were initially talking about passing a no-kill ordinance to clarify and formalize the policies, we had the support of at least one council member and the mayor,” says Lerner. “In fact, the ordinance was drafted in concert with the mayor's administration.”
Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum says, “Those who propose the ordinance have made it too stringent and will force the township to potentially spend significant tax dollars for an animal which has no real chance of meaningful survival.”
He says, “Mt. Olive remains a no kill municipality until all other options have been exhausted. We are in the process of drafting our own ordinance for adoption.”
The township has supported the Mt. Olive TNR group over the years, ever since it allowed the non-profit to do Trap-Neuter-Return with feral cats to stop them from reproducing, explains Lerner. That was 11 years ago.
“The TNR ordinance changed a lot in town,” says Lerner. “The program has been wildly successful, reducing the street cat population by over 80%. That, along with other rescue and spay/neuter work, has reduced cat impoundments in town by about 90%. And feral cats who have already been TNR'd are microchipped to our group so can be reclaimed by us if they get impounded (which is extremely rare).
“The problem is that there are no legal protections for other cats who get impounded, neither tame stray/abandoned cats who aren't reclaimed from the pound, nor for feral cats who are impounded before getting TNR'd,” explains Lerner. “The current administration has worked with our group to ensure good outcomes for the cats who are impounded in our town; tame ones have been removed to rescues (mostly by us, but other rescues also participate) and we've been allowed to TNR the few feral cats who have been impounded from our town. “However, with a change in staffing a couple of years ago, the township decided to contract to provide animal control to a few other towns that do not allow TNR and that expected Mt. Olive to trap and euthanize their feral cats,” Lerner explains.
“Our town made those contracts without considering that they would end up killing animals for the other towns,” continues Lerner. “Our town also made the contracts without any plan for placing unreclaimed tame animals, so that the burden fell on us as volunteers to rescue the cats from those towns as well as the ones from Mt. Olive, which we could not sustain.
“With our advocacy, the town agreed to let those contracts expire,” Lerner applauds. “The administration also agreed to introduce an ordinance to formalize this so that it does not happen again in the future, and so that it's clear to new office holders and staff that the outcome for impounded animals has to be considered in the adoption of new policies or contracts. We worked on the language with the administration, but a few days before they were going to introduce it, the mayor backtracked and said that he's not comfortable doing anything to prevent future mayors from reversing no-kill practices.
“As residents, we don't think that the progress that has been made toward no-kill should depend on who is running the town,” explains Lerner. “We think it should be a consistent policy, and one that is required. So we're trying to get the ordinance, drafted with the administration's input, on the ballot for residents to vote on directly. Even if the mayor doesn't think it's his place to tell future mayors that animal control should be handled in a no-kill manner, it is certainly our place as residents in a democratic society to make that clear.”
Countless Cats’ Lives Saved
Lerner says many cats would have been killed if contracts were not cancelled between Mt. Olive and other towns who do not allow TNR.
“In certain towns that did not allow TNR, like Mt. Arlington, there are feral cats reproducing all over, so the potential was for many feral cats to be killed,” says Lerner.
“Once our town was doing animal control there, we were personally contacted by people caring for colonies in three different areas of that town, and some of the colonies had 10+ cats and many kittens,” she says. “When Mt. Olive euthanized the first feral cat for Mt. Arlington, we sprung into action and helped prevent more deaths. We pulled every other Mt. Arlington cat out of the pound and found placements for them, and we tried to help caregivers in Mt. Arlington directly by finding placements or taking, ourselves, cats in the colonies who could be handled, and all of the kittens that the caregivers could catch. We also helped animal control by taking kittens directly out of a hoarding situation so they wouldn't be impounded, and by placing all the adults from the hoarding situation after they were impounded. At the same time, we lobbied the administration to let the contracts expire, which the mayor ultimately agreed to.
“The mayor allowed five contracts to expire: Mt. Arlington, Wharton, Byram, and Washington expired already, and Mine Hill will expire this year. However, Washington, Byram, and Mine HIll were all amenable to no-kill procedures and did not need to be canceled to prevent Mt. Olive from killing animals. The only two towns that refused to allow no-kill practices were Mt. Arlington and Wharton. Those were the contracts we lobbied the mayor to cancel, but he decided on his own to cancel all of them and simply stop providing shared services animal control. He preferred doing that to attaching conditions regarding how animal control would be performed.”
Trying to save cats’ lives in towns that did not have a TNR program would have been overwhelming for Mt. Olive’s non-profit.
“We were not in a position to keep doing that level of work in Mt. Arlington, so the dam would have broken at some point and more cats would have been killed by our town had the contract not been canceled,” explains Lerner. “It's important to note that the trend in our area, and in N.J., and in the country as a whole is toward TNR and no-kill policies, and towns like Mt. Arlington are outliers in their commitment to anachronistic lethal animal control procedures.”
TNR Project Makes Progress
“Mt. Olive used to kill a lot of cats every year,” according to the fact sheet provided by the non-profit group in which there are anywhere between 15 to 30 active volunteers. “We have far fewer active volunteers than we used to, because we need fewer volunteers and foster homes,” says Lerner.
“In 2008, the township killed 141 impounded cats. After residents got a Trap-Neuter-Return ordinance passed in 2009, the number of impounded cats went down dramatically, and the Mt. Olive TNR Project started placing cats who did get impounded. The town has since operated in a no-kill manner.”
The program has worked in terms of reducing its cat population and saving the town money, she says, adding “we are honestly surprised at the extent to which it has done all those things.”
She says, “There are only 28 known feral cats left in town, and most of those are seniors, some in their teens. There have hardly been any kittens in years, and cat impoundments are down from 181 in 2008 to only 15 last year.
“I think it's fair to say none of us ever thought the levels could get that low, even with the extensive work we put in during the early years,” says Lerner. “We're very happy with the progress. We just don't want to see it slip away and go back to earlier practices, which is why we're supporting the no-kill ordinance to formalize the town's current practices.”
Lerner says other towns have applauded Mt. Olive and the role it has taken in saving cats. Her hope is that it continues its charm of no harm.
“The Mt. Olive TNR Project is agnostic about Mt. Olive providing animal control to other towns through shared services,” says Lerner. “If the town can do it in a no-kill manner, like it did for Washington and Byram and like it says it's currently doing for Mine Hill, and can place the animals itself after their 7 day holds without relying exclusively on our volunteers to place them, we don't have any issue with it. What we don't want to see is our town contracting to kill animals for other towns with less modern approaches to animal control, or contracting to impound their animals without the ability to do the work of placing them at the end of their holds.”
Lerner says, “Animal control does not end with putting animals in the pound, but needs to also ensure their safe delivery out of the pound.”
Mt. Olive is not the only town that has gone no-kill in the area, she notes.
“Many local towns operate in a no-kill manner,” says Lerner. “Parsippany's current mayor was elected on a platform that included reforming their shelter and making it no-kill and introducing a TNR program, and Parsippany is now no-kill. And their mayor cited Mt. Olive as his model for transformation to no-kill practices.”
Another challenge, Lerner mentions, is the killing of cats that appear to act feral but actually are not.
“Further complicating the process of doing impoundments for towns without TNR for feral cats is the fact that even many tame cats act feral in the pound setting, so that a policy of euthanizing feral impounded cats also necessarily includes the euthanasia of stray or lost or abandoned cats who are just scared and act feral while in the pound,” says Lerner. “When TNR is allowed, rescues can take such cats into other settings to see if they calm down, and then adopt them out if they do or TNR them if they don't. When TNR is not an option, rescues can't take the chance of being stuck with feral cats, so even tame cats can get caught up in the euthanasia policy.”
Unemployment is up with many businesses closed, but not for these 8-year old students at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School in Budd Lake.
All jobs are essential for these 115 students in five second grade classes at CMS, who have been working in jobs for a favorite school program called Kidsville. The hands-on-experience that engages students in a realistic community started last week and will continue for the next two weeks.
Through the program, students are working in real-to-life jobs and learning many life lessons.
“There are a ton of lessons throughout the program,” says Ann M. Scotland, second grade teacher. “Students will learn new vocabulary, the management of specific jobs, balancing their money, having clarity of how their academics are meant for living, and possibly even having a new appreciation of their parent’s adult responsibilities.”
Scotland brought back the program to CMS just last year after the school did not offer it for about 12 years. When the Kindness Tour began, it was too much to offer both programs.
Kidsville is a mock community that the students participate in, providing each an opportunity to work at different jobs. Scotland decided to offer it this year, as well, despite the distance learning.
“The 2nd grade social studies curriculum has our students learning about working and sharing in a community,” says Scotland. “The boys and girls learn about jobs that are making goods or providing a service. They learn about having a salary and using their money for needs vs. wants. In addition, they learn about taxes and how the care of the community is shared among its members.
“After last week’s virtual lessons that highlighted all of the above, we felt it was time to offer a hands-on experience that could further their understanding,” says Scotland. “It was a great opportunity to move away from their screens and put some of their learning into action. This realistic community offers clarity to our day-to-day living and the responsibilities that are needed.”
For the Kidsville Launch, students reviewed slides and had to pick their type of employment by reading each job description, earn an income and pay taxes.
“In the slides are a bunch of suggested jobs,” says Scotland. Some jobs include social worker, landscaper, teacher, cook, engineer, housekeeping, reporter, hairdresser, librarian, weather person, musician. They were given job responsibilities and descriptions for each job.
For a landscaper, for example, students are directed to: “Work out in your yard. Help mom and dad pull weeds. Plant flowers. Make signs for your garden. Water plants in your home and outside.”
For a teacher: “Help your younger brother or sister with their schooling. Read to them. Create a Flipgrid and teach a classmate about something that you are good at. Make an anchor chart about something you are good at. Use text and graphic features.”
For a cook: “Help mommy and daddy with meals. Set the table. Make a fun dessert with mom/dad. Create a Flipgrid of how to keep your kitchen healthy as you cook. Share favorite recipes.”
For a hairdresser: “Style a family member’s hair. Brush it and create a new do each day. You could braid it, put it in a ponytail, give it spikes, put a pretty bow or headband in. Take a picture of the final outcome.”
“They could come up with additional “career paths” if their bosses (parents) agree,” says Scotland. “They needed to work at a specific job in their three-day work-week for 30 minutes; we have social studies three days. Workers needed to stay with the same job for the entire week. They could switch career paths (encouraged to because they can experience more than one type of job) the next week. Kidsville will run for three weeks. So our workers will experience three jobs.
“We had Google Meet Launch with students and parents to set everything into motion,” she explains. “We will have a closing of Kidsville with a dialogue that can reflect on the experience. We will also have a “ticket out” that the children will offer a written reflection.”
Each week students get paid a salary with payday every Friday. Students will earn $2 for the week; with 50 cents taken out to pay taxes, mortgage/rent, clothing and groceries. Students will be left with $1.50 to spend on wants with a choice of options offered at the Kidsville General Store in which kids can decide what to spend their money on or whether to save it. Some of these wants include: Snacks, crafts, video-game time, facetime with a friend, dinner choice, game night, staying up later and even movie night.
The parents serve as the bosses, adds Scotland.
“They have to agree on what job will take place for the week,” she says. “They are also the “bankers,” paying their students their $2 weekly salary. “The parent will monitor the balancing of their little workers debit card. The parents will also make sure the worker pays his/her needs for the week.”
Even if this lesson is brought to these students virtually, they are learning so much.
“Whenever you can have the students experience his/her learning, the imprint is huge,” says Scotland. “They have to be responsible and carry out their duties. Students are asked to keep in mind the skills that are required for the job they are doing. The open-ended question of what academics keep showing up as you work is presented to them. Do they see reading, math, writing, technology, collaboration? We want them to make the connection of how their schooling has purpose beyond the school walls.
“In addition, they are learning how to balance their money,” says Scotland. “This entire experience mimics adult decisions of balancing needs vs. wants and the sacrifices that are sometimes required for bills to be paid. The vocabulary comes into focus for them.”
The community has also been quite supportive, notes Scotland.
“As the first week of our community has begun, we have had a variety of professions open their doors,” she says. “We have had students become landscapers, engineers, beauticians, security guards, chefs and meteorologists. In truth, they have embraced this experience full force and have gone way beyond our expectations. I think they enjoy having choice, movement and time to be creative.”
With the effects of COVID-19 surrounding the students, Scotland says there was not a need to make the pandemic a focus to this year’s lesson.
“We haven’t highlighted COVID-19,” says Scotland. “We have talked about the purpose of their jobs and its value but not connecting it to the current event of COVID-19. They recognize the specific jobs that need or require certain types of clothing. Some have dressed the part perfectly.
“The real-life experience of this pandemic surrounds them daily,” says Scotland. “They are living this reality and are becoming experts at how to handle social distancing. The boys and girls have faced the truths of this pandemic by not seeing their friends, missing recreational activities, missing extended family, not being able to attend school physically. Some have parents that are essential workers and see first-hand the toll it can take. During our Virtual Kindness Tour we extended our love to those individuals. Kidsville was a time to offer them some “normalcy,” even if it was the old normal.”
With still one more week of Kidsville to go, students and parents are enjoying their tasks at hand.
“The feedback has been positive,” says Scotland. “The parents were ready to play their role and the students were excited to get to work. During our google meet you could hear the excitement as the kids started to chat about what work force they were going to join. The enthusiasm continued into this week as the jobs started to take form. We have a second grade Kidsville Classroom and the comments, pictures, and Flipgrids have been amazing. It is our hope that the dialogue will continue, and we will hear all that they have learned from the experience.”
The teachers are pleased with the excitement and energy carried out by their little workers.
“We are excited about how motivating this has been for many of our students,” says Scotland. “They are connecting through their participation and enthusiasm for the program. Being able to network as a school family despite being in our homes is a gift.”
Social Distancing: Fields Open
Mt. Olive Township Mayor Rob Greenbaum opened up selective fields in Mt. Olive effective dawn Saturday, May 30. Fields including soccer, football, lacrosse and baseball are open at Turkey Brook Park, Flanders Park, Drakes Brook Park and Dan Jordan Park with social distancing restrictions. No organized or contact sports allowed, the mayor said.
MUA To Collect Household Hazardous Waste
Due to the COVID-19-related cancelation of its May 16 Household Hazardous Waste event, the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority has decided to add an additional drop-off event in June, with disposal days now set for June 13 and June 28, both to be held at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy in Parsippany.
The June 13 event originally was scheduled for County College of Morris in Randolph but has been moved to Parsippany.
SPECIAL COVID-19 REQUIREMENTS:
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, all participants
dropping off household hazardous materials must
wear face coverings, keep their vehicle windows
closed, and stay in their vehicles for the duration of the event.
The MCMUA is requesting that all materials be stored in the trunk, cargo area, or bed of the vehicle for easy access by the MUA's contractor, whose team will remove it from the vehicle. Please plan your visit accordingly.
For residents who are unable to attend either of these June events, the MUA also plans to host fall events, currently set for Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Public Safety Training Academy, and Saturday, Oct. 10, at Chatham High School.
Please visit www.MCMUA.com for additional updates regarding our Household Hazardous Waste and other programs as they are announced at
The list of acceptable hazardous materials include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, oil-based paints, stains, paint thinners and removers, solvents, automotive fluids, lead acid and rechargeable batteries, pool chemicals, and darkroom chemicals.
Also accepted are aerosol cans (not empty), propane and helium cylinders, small
quantities of asbestos (wetted, double bagged and sealed with duct tape-100-pound limit), driveway sealant, roofing tar, fluorescent bulbs, PCB-ballasts, mercury thermometers and switches, household cleaning products, muriatic acid.
Latex paint is not considered hazardous, so it is not accepted.
Explosive or highly reactive materials , such as picric acid or nitro compounds, also will not be accepted.
E-Waste (used consumer electronics) and latex paint will not be accepted.
Click here or call 973.829.8006 for E-Waste disposal
information. Latex paint should be dried out and disposed of in the trash.
These events are for residential household waste. Businesses are not permitted to attend these disposal events. Businesses can visit the
permanent facility in Mount Olive by appointment only.
Library Goes Virtual For Kids
Virtual Storytime: Do your kids miss Storytime and coming to the library? Tune in Monday through Friday to see all of the Children's Room Librarians reading stories on Facebook and Instagram.
Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge: Are your kids looking for a fun challenge, that could also brighten up your home? Take part in Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge and help Buzz grow flowers all over Mt. Olive. Printable reading logs and flower coloring pages can be found online at www.mopl.org/youth.
Library Board To Meet In Person
Please be advised that the Library Board of Trustees will be meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9, in the Gathering Room at Mt. Olive Public Library. It is an open session. Everyone attending is required to wear a mask and social distance.
Morris County Sounds The Alarm for Help
Morris County is putting out an emergency call for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and medical professionals who are available during this COVID-19 health crisis to sign up for paid openings at healthcare facilities across Morris County that are short of qualified medical personnel and looking to hire people immediately.
The County Office of Emergency Management has created Operation Save-a-Life, which will develop a roster of available medical personnel and provide that list to healthcare facilities, or for home health care providers, that are short-staffed due to the virus and in dire need of employment help.
“Nursing homes, assisted living, long-term care, and rehabilitation facilities across Morris County are working hard to take care of their patients and residents,” said Morris County Emergency Management Director Jeff Paul. “But many are desperately in need of qualified people and struggling to fill staff shortages that are making it difficult to maintain a quality level of care for patients in need.
“Now, more than ever, we need to sound the alarm and do our best to support our healthcare facilities who are working hard to keep their patients safe and to help save their lives,” he added.
To sign up for these critical jobs through Operation Save-a-Life, and help some of the most vulnerable people during this pandemic, qualified medical personnel are asked to call the Morris County Office of Emergency Management at (973) 829-8600.
For those who do not speak directly with a call taker and get the OEM voice mail recording, please leave name, contact number and medical certification (i.e. Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, etc.). One of the Office of Emergency Management staff members will return calls within 24-48 hours.
“We are talking about protecting some of our most vulnerable people, our senior citizens and disabled residents, many are older veterans or former police and firemen who long ago served on the front lines protecting us; now they need our help,’’ said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
“Please, we need your help right now,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith. “On behalf of all Morris County residents, we ask you to consider filling this great need.’
County OEM officials have spoken to healthcare providers across Morris County to identify this need, and are reaching out to RNs, LPNs, and others in the medical field to see if they can match the need with available personnel. Those who are hired would be paid directly by the individual facility.
The New Jersey Firemen’s Home, located in Boonton, is one example of a facility that needs help caring for its 62 patients/firefighters, who are in danger of possibly having to be moved from their safe location due to a lack of staff.
“We love our firemen, and we don’t want them to leave our facility, but at the same time, we need to make sure that they are provided with the same level of exceptional care that they are accustomed to here at the New Jersey Firemen’s Home,” said Donna Russo, Director of Nursing for the New Jersey Firemen’s Home. “We welcome healthcare providers, RN’s, LPN’s, to join our team.”
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
In this time when most of us feel a lack of control in our lives and the world, it’s important to remind ourselves what we do have control over and work on those things. I admit I have had some dark days over the COVID 19 quarantine and I’m sure with the uncertainty of what life will look and feel like in the next few months, I will have more bad days. It’s okay to have a bad day. Expect them, go with the flow and lean into it when you feel it. That’s the fear of uncertainty and the feelings of vulnerability coming up. Remind yourself what do you have control over. While you are having the conversation with yourself about what you can control remind yourself that this is temporary.
What we do know for sure is we can only control ourselves; change is a constant in the world and everything is temporary.
11 Things You Can Control
Interested in learning more about the high-quality education provided by the community college, close to home? The County College of Morris (CCM) Admissions Office in Randolph will be holding “Titan Tuesday” online information sessions every week at 7 p.m. through the spring and summer so prospective students and parents and guardians can learn about all CCM has to offer.
Each session, hosted by an Admissions counselor, will provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the college’s academic programs, transfer agreements to earn a bachelor’s degree, student services and co-curricular programs. The admissions and registration process also will be covered and a questions and answers session held during each session. Summer classes at CCM start May 26 with a total of five sessions being offered, with the others starting on June 1, June 29, June 30 and August 3. The Fall Semester begins on September 9. Several mini terms also are offered during the fall.
Preregistration for “Titan Tuesday” is required, which can be done at www.ccm.edu/admissions/visiting-us. Login information to join a session will be emailed following registration.
In several sessions, the Admission staff will be joined by the college’s academic deans to highlight programs in the School of Business, Mathematics, Engineering and Technologies, the School of Health Professions and Natural Sciences and the School of Liberal Arts. A schedule of what schools will be featured during these sessions can be found on the Visiting Us website.
In addition, information will be provided on the Challenger Program that CCM provides so high school students can get a jump start on their college education.
This summer, CCM will be offering all summer classes online. The college also has moved its students support services online for spring and summer, including The Academic Success Center (TASC), which was expanded into TASCPlus, which provides individualized online assistance from updating students on the status of classes to connecting them to a student success specialist or counselor through phone and virtual meetings. Other services the college is offering online are Academic Advisement, Online Tutoring and Live Chats with Librarians.
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Experienced journalist since 1990, living in Flanders for 22 years and covering Mt. Olive Township for the past 12 years.
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