Mt. Olive Online Publication November 15, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication November 15, 2020
Supporters of Presidential Candidate Joe Biden were unmasked on Halloween when dozens drove through the streets of Mt. Olive.
Organized by Josh Laudor and promoted by Mt. Olive Democrats, Mt. Olive Ridin’ For Biden was held Saturday afternoon, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We convened in Turkey Brook Park from 11-11:45, and then at noon paraded through the Mt. Olive, including Flanders Crossing, Cloverhill, and River Road,” says Laudor, “the sole organizer for the event, though I received a ton of support in advertising.
“We were 38 vehicles strong including myself,” says Laudor.
The purpose of the event was to show “a warm and friendly show of support for our chosen candidate,” he says. “It was certainly reassuring to be amongst so many like-minded people, especially now in a time where the country feels more divided than ever.”
Laudor decided to rally the Democrat supporters after hundreds of Republican supporters paraded through town days before.
“After a similar-style event took place in town in support of the incumbent president, many community members took to social media to complain that they felt intimidated or disturbed by the event,” says Laudor. “Additionally, Mt. Olive Township tends to lean Republican, despite lying in a state that has not voted for a Republican president since the ‘80s. Though we may be far from a swing state in terms of the general election, voter turnout in towns like ours are crucial for electing local officials.
“The purpose of this parade was not only to provide the opportunity for community members on the opposite side of the political aisle to show support for Joe Biden and to remind them to vote, no matter how insignificant they may feel their voice is in terms of the general election.”
Laudor gives “a huge thank you to Andy Meissner for getting the ball rolling” from the Mt. Olive Democrats. He says the “word spread pretty far on social media platforms and we had a few participants from Long Valley, Hackettstown and other surrounding towns,” participate.
Maintaining order, social distancing and avoiding obnoxious noise were high priority for this Ride for Biden.
“Being an outdoor event, the risk was significantly lower than it would have been if I had hosted some form of town hall or demonstration indoors, however participants were reminded to maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from anybody outside of their party, and while we were outside of our vehicles masks were still required,” explains Laudor about protocol for this event.
“In response to community disapproval of the noise level of the Pro-Trump event, we elected to discourage excessive honking so as not to disturb our neighbors who had decided to stay in while still remaining visible to those who knew we were passing through,” he continues.
“There were additional concerns of a counter protest effort that had circled social media, but thanks to careful coordination with the Mt. Olive Police Department, precautions were taken to separate counter demonstrators from our event and the counter demonstrators who did show were in the single digits,” he says. “I found it ironic as our event was in no way a protest.”
With only week to pull it all together, Laudor was pleased with the event.
“I was thrilled for the positive turnout, even though I had only advertised a week out and the weather was certainly a bit chilly!” says Laudor.
“I owe a huge thank you to the MO Democrats for promoting my event and to all of my friends who shared event details privately with their friends!”
Hundreds of vehicles paraded through Mt. Olive on a rainy Sunday last month in its push for President Donald Trump to be reelected in today’s election.
Despite its criticisms for causing nuisances like traffic and noise, as many criticized on social media sites, Drive for 45! Pro Police, Pro Military, and Pro Trump parade did make sure to support local restaurants, police, military and the local food pantry, according to Beth Figueira, event organizer on behalf of the Mt. Olive Patriots. It was held on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. “but people were coming to Turkey Brook Park in the rain as early as 2:30,” she says.
Along with the honking, decorated vehicles and parade, was entertainment, prayer and speeches.
“We had DJ Shatner from Newton playing patriotic music,” describes Figueira. “Our opening ceremony began at 4 p.m. Gregori Lukas was the vocalist who sang “The National Anthem” and gave the crowd chills with his euphonious voice.
“Raffaele Ruggiero, a U.S. Marines Vet from Flanders, did the prayer invocation,” she continues. “Four young patriots led us in the “Pledge of Allegiance.”
As for the speakers, “Martin Wellzmuller of Budd Lake was our first speaker and discussed the importance of voting by mail in this election,” describes Figueira. “Alex Roman, MO Council VP and president of the MO Republican Club, was our second and final speaker. At 4:35 we returned to our vehicles for the parade through town. We drove through The Crossings, Clover Hill, Bennington Woods, and Morris Chase neighborhoods and ended back at Turkey Brook Park. Due to the high number of vehicles in the procession and the fact that we were only traveling 20-25 mph, it took us about an hour and a half to complete the route.”
Supporting the local restaurants as well as filling the shelves at the Mt. Olive Food Pantry were amplified at the Drive for 45! event.
“We encouraged all participants to eat at or take out from our local restaurants afterwards,” explains Figueira. “That's why I chose the 4-6 p.m. time frame for the event. I, along with several other groups met up at The Market Tavern for dinner.”
The event supported local police as well.
“Online sales of Pro Police, Pro Military, and Pro Trump apparel and flags took place online prior to the event with Global EMA,” says Figueira. “A portion of the proceeds are being donated to the MOPD PBA on behalf of the Mt. Olive Patriots. We will proudly present them with a $250 check in the coming days.”
Figueria says she did adhere to traffic control by authorities as well as mandates on COVID 19 social distancing and safe protocol to prevent the spread of disease.
“MOPD did an excellent job directing traffic along the route,” says Figueira. “MOPD said they stopped counting at 360 vehicles which included cars, trucks, motorcycles, and military vehicles donned with flags, signs, and banners. I would say there was probably 500 vehicles and at least 1,000 people who attended.
“I was very pleased with the turnout and the amazing display of patriotism despite the weather,” she continues. “It was intended to be a local event, but because of social media people from other towns also attended. Members of Gays for Trump and Latinos for Trump were also in attendance proudly displaying their flags. Mask wearing was encouraged at the park due to COVID restrictions.”
Participants were also asked to donate food to the local food pantry.
“Sue Morse from the Food Pantry said they did not weigh the food, but it completely filled their cargo van and they are now fully stocked for Thanksgiving.”
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Leave it to a group of helpful Girl Scouts to clean up some leaves this season.
That is exactly what went down for a couple hours last month when five 12-year-old girls of Flanders Cadette Troop 96124 volunteered to clean up a neighbor’s yard. The seventh graders pitched in on Saturday, Oct. 24, to help rake and pick up leaves and debris scattered on a homeowner’s property in the Cloverhill Community in Flanders.
Helping out others is an annual commitment of Flanders Cadette Troop 96124.
“The beginning of every year the girls come up with ideas to help the community,” explains Kim Martinelli of Flanders, Girl Scout leader along with Allyson Galinis of Flanders Cadette Troop 96124.
“I reached out on a community Facebook page if someone could nominate a person who would need assistance with leaf cleanup,” explains Martinelli. “Allyson and I also helped them rake and pickup leaves.”
For two-and-a-half hours the girls gathered to clean up one yard in the community.
“They picked up leaves and branches, bagged them and brought them to the front of the house,” says Martinelli.
Ten bags of leaves to be exact.
All of the volunteers also pitched in by bringing along necessary tools to get the job done.
“Each girl brought a rake, we purchased leaf bags we brought and both troop leaders brought leaf blowers,” says Martinelli, adding that they purchased leaf bags from Shoprite.
Since this was volunteer work, the girls did not charge any money for their labor nor use of equipment used.
Their reward was their feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of helping a neighbor.
“They felt proud for helping a neighbor and being able to work together to finish,” says Martinelli. “They enjoyed being together since our meetings now are virtual. They would definitely do it again.”
Because of COVID 19, the girls have been restricted in their activities.
“They have many ideas unfortunately with COVID restrictions its difficult, but they would like to do a river or park clean up,” she says.
“They are working on their journey called Breathe which they explore the air all around them; they'll learn a lot of air-clearing strategies and they'll learn to clear their own personal air space,” the leader concludes.
By Cheryl Conway
Help bring some holiday cheer to veterans who live alone in facilities by donating money or items to fill Blessing Boxes.
The mandates and restrictions placed on Americans since COVID 19 has prohibited loved ones from visiting veterans who live in facilities. While the mandates serve the purpose of reducing the spread of the virus, it has had adverse effects on individuals who live alone.
To spread love and caring to the nation’s veterans, an initiative is underway to deliver Blessing Boxes to despondent veterans who live in state veterans’ homes. This effort is being driven by the All Veterans Memorial, All Veterans Alliance, the Morris County American Legion and several American Legion Posts.
In previous years, the AVA and MCAL have delivered thousands of severe weather backpacks, coats and blankets to homeless veterans. This year, that effort has been rechanneled to bring some comfort to veterans living in state veteran facilities.
“As we prepare for another cold winter, these past several months have caused us to reevaluate the added complications and concerns that is associated with the safety of our volunteers and the COVID 19 mandates,” writes Charlie Uhrmann of Hackettstown, founder of the AVM and AVA, in a letter to veteran supporters.
“As a result – we have decided to switch our focus from the homeless, for now, to the despondent veterans currently in VA nursing facilities,” she says.
“We have heard of story after story about families not being able to see their loved ones during this pandemic and the inconceivable depression it has caused those who are living in these facilities,” explains Uhrmann.
“Since mid-March, outsiders, including family members, have been restricted from visiting veterans at VA community living centers,” she says. “The COVID 19 lock-down restrictions have caused an exponential rise in despondency and depression among our elderly veterans. Two years ago, the AVM and MCAL delivered 170 ‘Blessing Boxes’ to our homeless veterans on Christmas Eve; the Blessing Boxes were graciously received as a symbol of our nation’s love and appreciation. This year, we plan to deliver Holiday Blessing Boxes to senior veterans in care facilities, sending a clear message that we continue to be a Grateful Nation.
“We believe the Blessing Boxes are a remarkable way to highlight the holiday and raise the spirits of so many that will not be able to share the holidays with loved ones,” she adds.
To help in this effort, Uhrmann is asking for financial donations as well as supporters to provide the items to complete each Blessing Box, either partially or in full.
“We are currently seeking sponsors and donors to support this effort,” she writes. “In an effort to maintain continuality, we are hoping that each organization could either collect or financially sponsor one of the listed items; we are open to adding additional items we have missed.
“We encourage those who want to sponsor a blessing box to enclose their own special message with their $20 donation,” she writes. “We can assure our supporters that their message will be placed into a box once reviewed by our staff for appropriateness.”
Uhrmann is also calling on volunteers to help assemble the boxes “on either a Saturday or Sunday at one of their American Legion Halls,” she says. “We are asking each sponsor to send one or more representatives participate in the assembly process. Each sponsor will be provided their own distribution station, which should include information about who you are and the items you are sponsoring. We already have acquired several organizations that have offered to assemble and distribute the Holiday Blessing Boxes.”
The Holiday Blessing Boxes will each contain: a book “Yorkie Doodle Dandy;” movie, “Angel in the Fox Hole;” handwritten holiday messages being written by Mt. Olive Middle School Gifted & Talented; face masks sponsored by the AVA; socks; lap blankets; deck of cards; toothbrush; toothpaste; hand sanitizer; small frames; crossword puzzles; stationary with pre-stamped envelopes; and pens.
“Sponsorship can be in full or in part or individual donation,” concludes Uhrmann. “Suggestions for additional items are welcome.” All donations are tax-deductible.
Visit www.allveteransmemorial.org for more information.
MO School District Earns A+ Rating
The Mt. Olive School District is one of the best K-12 school systems in New Jersey according to Niche.com, a website that compiles data to determine the nation's best places to live, work and learn. In the recently released rankings, Mt. Olive earned an "A+" rating, placing the district in the top 3% nationwide and 31st in N.J. – the highest ranking ever for the district.
“Everyone in Mt. Olive should take pride in this high mark,” said Dr. Robert Zywicki, superintendent of schools. “It’s the result of the focus of our entire school community to provide the best PK-12 experience possible for our students. As I enter my third year as superintendent, I can look back and see the systemic changes we’ve made and how hard we’ve worked, particularly in the past year. District personnel have gone above and beyond to meet the challenges caused by COVID-19, particularly our excellent faculty and support staff. This A+ is a big thank-you to everyone.”
Zywicki said Mt. Olive has moved up 30 spots in its ranking since 2018, during his briefing on Facebook.
He credits all of the previous superintendents for this accomplishment.
“Leadership is a relay race,” he said, with a passing of a baton.
He also credited the Mt. Olive Board of Education which he said “has done a tremendous job.”
He thanked the BOE for investing in making the district “a lighthouse district.”
To arrive at the rankings, Niche looked at data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as test scores, college data, and ratings collected from Niche users. Each district received a letter grade for academics, diversity, teachers, college prep, clubs & activities, health & safety, administration, sports, food, and resources & facilities.
Check out the full profile at https://www.niche.com/k12/d/mount-olive-township-school-district-nj/
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.
Library Open For Curbside Pickup
The Mt. Olive Public Library is open for curbside pickup.
Requests can only be made via phone call or email.
There is a limit of six items for adults and eight for kids and young adults.
Patrons will be called once their items are available for pickup.
Bags will be placed outside of the library, marked with the last four digits of the patrons card number
Due to COVID-19, patrons may not enter library.
No books will be left outside the building after curbside hours.
Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Thursday: 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Closed on Sunday.
For questions email: firstname.lastname@example.org; call 973-691-8686 ext.106.
Registration is now open for the Winterim Semesters at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph.
Winterim classes, which are offered online in a condensed format, are a convenient way to earn some extra credit and stay on course to graduate. Two Winterim sessions are offered at CCM, a four-week session that begins Wednesday, December 23, and a two-week session that begins Monday, January 4.
At CCM, students are able to select from more than 100 educational, certificate and training programs taught by a faculty specifically focused on teaching. In addition, the college holds more than 150 transfer agreements to make it easy to apply CCM credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
To get started, review the degree and certificate programs at CCM at www.ccm.edu/academics. Non-credit certificate programs also can be found at www.ccm.edu/workforce. To apply to the college, go to www.ccm.edu/admissions.
Photo caption: Devon Vialva, left, assistant dean of diversity and director of Centenary’s Educational Opportunity Program, and Centenary University President Dr. Bruce Murphy, Ed.D.
Centenary Establishes Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging Advisory Board
Centenary University in Hackettstown has established a new Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging Advisory Board to advise Centenary University President Dr. Bruce Murphy on initiatives that lead to meaningful dialogue and action. Comprised of a cross-section of the university’s leadership, the board will provide input on a broad range of experiences on campus, from instruction and extracurricular activities to decisions regarding admissions, financial assistance, athletics, and more.
Last winter, Centenary embarked on a strategic planning process that defined four imperatives, one of which centers on fostering an inclusive environment on campus and in the surrounding community. Murphy accelerated the effort to establish the advisory board when national events brought issues of race and belonging to the forefront last spring and summer.
“This is a long-term, institutionalized effort to ensure that Centenary moves forward in a very deliberate way that considers the experiences of all members of our campus community,” Murphy explained. “Our goal is to create meaningful, lasting change that enhances the feeling of belonging among all constituents within our campus community.”
Murphy appointed Devon Vialva, assistant dean of diversity and director of Centenary’s Educational Opportunity Program, to chair the new advisory board. A 1997 graduate of Centenary, Vialva earned a master’s in public administration from the university in 2008 and is currently pursuing a doctorate at Centenary. Under his leadership, the advisory board’s first activity was to host a listening session last summer to provide alumni and students of color with the opportunity to share their experiences and offer input on creating lasting change. “Belonging is the key that really brings all of this together,” Vialva said. “Students and alumni need to feel that they belong at Centenary. This process is going to take some time and planning, as well as some very, very tough, but necessary, conversations about racial and cultural identity to make sure that we’re being inclusive.”
A recent $2 million bequest from the late Louise M. Monez Hill, a 1940 Centenary graduate, will help to support the efforts of the advisory board. Hill’s gift will establish The Grace Y. Bissett and Louise Monez Hill Scholarship Fund, a diversity-based scholarship to support the education of students with financial need who intend to pursue a career in teaching, religion, social work, or a similar field, and who are devoted to improving racial relations.
Vialva noted that while the advisory board may suggest some short-term activities, the focus is on creating lasting change: “Everyone on this board is strategically placed throughout the University in crucial roles. We are here to be a part of growth and to assist in starting the conversation. It’s a long road ahead of us and we understand that.”
Murphy added, “I look for great things from this advisory board. We’re sort of in the early stages now, but we have some great hopes for this effort. It’s very necessary and important.”
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
The pandemic has been messing with our mental health since March. It has been a long 7 months but now add in the stress of the winter blue’s and it can feel very overwhelming. For many of us, October starts the beginning of our symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Add in election stress and holidays during the pandemic and we can feel hopeless and depressed.
Here are seven ways to handle the winter blue’s during a pandemic.
Spend as much time as you can outdoors while the weather is good. The mix of fresh air and sunlight/vitamin D is enough to improve our moods.
Maintain a morning routine- keep any of your morning routine that worked pre-pandemic and then add in a few new rituals to your routine. I suggest a mindfulness activity such as: walk, journal writing, prayer, meditation, and deep breathing. Mindfulness will help you start your day on a positive note while helping you de-stress.
Watch your diet – if you are feeling anxious, watch your sugar and caffeine intake. Both sugar and caffeine can cause us to feel restless and anxious. If you are feeling depressed, watch your alcohol consumption, alcohol is a depressant.
Make sure your basic needs are met – are you getting enough sleep? What does your diet look like? Water? Do you exercise daily?
Media – be careful with media and social media, it can cause us to feel stressed, fearful, and anxious. If you can, read your news. When we watch the news, the newscaster can add to the stress by their tone of voice, body language and facial expression. Do not watch the news or go on social media before bed. What we think about before bed affects our sleep.
Have a creative outlet – do something that you love that causes flow. Flow is being completely involved in an activity for its own sake, the ego falls to the side and time flies. Your complete focus is on the activity and activity in rewarding.
Socialization – it is a huge factor of our happiness. Socialization might look different in a pandemic, but it is still possible to be social. Pick up the phone and call a friend, hop on a Skype or Facetime call, take a zoom class, etc.
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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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