Mt. Olive Online Publication September 18, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication September 18, 2020
By Cheryl Conway
Visits from Chinese students at Mt. Olive High School have been suspended until further notice as a precautionary measure in response to the deadly virus outbreak in China.
Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki decided last week to halt all visits as part of the Edu-Link program within the district. Zywicki made the brief announcement during the last Mt. Olive Board of Education meeting held Monday, Jan. 27.
While concern over the Coronavirus outbreak is increasing as the death toll in that country rises, local parents have spread their opinion on social media sites. More students from China were expected to visit MOHS in February and in March, as groups continuously spend time in the district as part of the Edu-Link program. But those visits have been suspended for now, confirms Zywicki.
“There are no students coming,” Zywicki announces during the meeting after former BOE President Liz Ouimet questions the matter.
Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larrie Reynolds introduced the Edu-Link program within the district in 2017-2018, when he partnered with the Paramus based consulting firm that connects U.S. schools with international schools for exchange purposes. Through Edu-Link, senior English-speaking students from China have been invited to MOHS as part of a student exchange database program.
While MOHS has continuously had students from China visit, Zywicki is being cautious during this time, even though all those traveling are being screened for the disease.
On Saturday, March 7, the 3rd Annual Marauder Maker Fest is planned at MOHS, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Dome Complex. All ages are invited to join in for a day centered around exhibits, vendors, S.T.E.A.M, activities, workshops, food trucks, music, competitions, animals and more.
The Regional MORT Competition will also be held at that time along with a new event called the Hackathon. Through grant money received from Rutgers University, MOHS will be hosting this 12- hour computer science competition for grades 9-12 along with Hackettstown, Randolph and Sparta, explains Zywicki.
A hackathon is a design event in which computer programmers and others working with software development collaborate in software products.
Zywicki’s goal is to get more students involved in coding and computer science. He wants to make sure students in grades kindergarten through eighth “are exposed to computer science” and he plans to have a hackathon for elementary grades in the future.
A demographic study of Mt. Olive Twp., focusing on a five-year period for the years 2021-2025, was presented at the last BOE meeting. The study shows a stable enrollment during the past eight years, with the enrollment reaching 4,640 students at Mt. Olive schools on Oct. 15, 2019.
According to the demographic’s expert, births in Mt. Olive have been declining. There were 374 births recorded by Mt. Olive Twp. residents in 2005. In 2018, births dropped to 248.
At the same time, there has been an inward migration with more people moving into the area than those moving out, the expert reports.
With two new housing site plans in the forecast in Mt. Olive, the expert says enrollment should be stable during the next five years but after that, student population in Mt. Olive may rise.
One development- Mountain Ridge- has received the approval for 46 townhouses. Another development, located east of the International Trade Center, has not yet been approved but proposes 712 new housing units. That site plan still needs to be submitted so looking ahead, local student enrollment can increase in five to eight years, he reports.
Zywicki says the board intends to use the demographic study as part of its long range planning for the district.
“The population will hold tight for four years,” says Zywicki, “but there will be a spike in five years.”
As a result, school leaders will have to decide on changes such as adding on to a building.
“We have time to plan for that,” says Zywicki, since the new developments still need to be built and then sold. “We do have time” for conversation; “will have to hold steady.”
The board approved the addition of two more lacrosse coaches for the boys’ and girls’ lacrosse teams at MOHS. Cost would be an additional $10,000 with each getting paid $5,000.
Zywicki explains that currently there are three lacrosse coaches on the boys’ and girls’ teams, while other sports such as field hockey and soccer, have four. Since there are the same number of kids participating, varsity teams need at least two coaches, which leaves one coach for junior varsity and the fourth coach for the freshmen team.
School Starts Earlier/ Ends Earlier Next Year
The board also approved the school calendars for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023.
Since Labor Day is later in September, Sept. 7, 2021; and Sept. 6, 2022- Zywicki says school needs to start earlier. Students and teachers will have half days in the beginning of the school year to get teachers acclimated and integrated.
For the next school year, the first day of school will be Sept. 2, but will be a half day along with half days on Sept. 3 and Sept. 4. Kids will be off Monday, Sept. 7, and then full days start Sept. 8. The last day of school will be June 22.
Then for the following school year- 2022/2023, school will start Sept. 1, with also a half day, and half days Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, followed with days off on Monday, Sept. 6 and Sept. 7 for Labor Day. The last day of school will be June 21.
Although the board approved the changes to the calendars, BOE Member William Robinson questions all of the half days.
“We are losing instructional days for our students,” says Robinson. “We don’t have the same unit of time to work on our coursework. It’s great we get it, but in same respect it’s half days.”
Zywicki explains that there will still be instruction going on in the classrooms on those half days.
Another change is the students will have off from school on Martin Luther King Day.
Shorter Middle School Graduation Planned
A request has been made to shorten the Mt. Olive Middle School graduation as some have complained of the extended ceremony due to numerous awards announced and granted at the annual commemoration.
The new MOMS Principal James Kramer had agreed to host a separate awards ceremony on another night at MOMS, Zywicki says during the BOE meeting.
He says the “general consensus” agrees that they do not favor the MOMS gradation that lasts “well over two hours.”
This request still needs approval by the BOE, confirms Zywicki.
Full Day Kindergarten
The board is still considering offering full day kindergarten in the district.
It is “trying to fit it into the budget,” says Zywicki. He says it does not need to build another school building.
Based on a study done by an architect, “We have enough room,” says Zywicki, adding that the district just needs extra teachers.
Since the district has been offering K-Excel “for so long,” it would just be a matter of converting three computer labs to classrooms. He says the district no longer needs the computer labs because students now use Chromebooks and mobile devices instead of the computers in those labs.
BOE Member Anthony Strillaci says he is happy that the district is moving along with full-day kindergarten.
“I know we are all excited about full day kindergarten,” says Strillaci. “I’m excited but I want to make sure we do that right.”
Adds BOE Member John Kehmna, “Have faith, be patient.”
Board members complimented the new mural that is being displayed inside the Administration Building BOE Office.
Designed by a company that provides all of the signage for the district, Zywicki describes the mural as a wallpaper banner featuring digital images to promote the district.
The mural has been placed inside the BOE office in hopes to be used as a visitor center to be staffed by students. The visitor center will be open to families, new people moving into the area and businesses to get a glimpse of students’ work and highlights within the district.
Dr. Antoine Gayles requests that a study be conducted on the diversity within the district to examine the demographics of the township based on its hiring practices.
“Where are we in our demographics compared to our hiring practices?” says Gayles.
Robinson has requested that a new policy be implemented in electing BOE presidents and vice presidents.
“I was hoping to change that so it’s a singular vote so you don’t have to say ‘no’ to an individual.
The school board attorney suggests changing it by nomination for presidency then a vote is taken. He calls it a “race to nominate.”
By Cheryl Conway
Shuffling of positions continue at Mt. Olive School District with current administrators starting their new roles as principals at three schools yesterday.
Mt. Olive High School welcomes Kevin Moore as its new principal Monday, Feb. 3. He was currently serving as principal at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School, where he has been since he replaced long-time CMS Principal Gayle Dierks in 2014.
Jennifer Curry, who formerly served as the Instructional Supervisor at CMS since 2013, has been moved over to Sandshore Elementary School to serve as its principal. Working in the district for the past two decades, Curry started out in the district as a CMS teacher before becoming an administrator.
Curry’s salary will be jumping to $135,579.
CMS welcomes Nicole Musarra, former principal of Sandshore School since 2014. When she went on maternity leave, Curry was moved over from CMS to act as interim principal at Sandshore. Serving in the district for a decade, Musarra had served as the Instructional Supervisor at Tinc Rd. School. Families are invited to meet Musarra on Feb. 10 at 8 p.m., at CMS.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki explains the reason for the switch of Musarra to CMS. He says, “Nicole is a fantastic principal,” and as the most senior of the elementary school principals within the district, he wanted to move her over to lead the largest elementary school in Mt. Olive.
Moore received approval for his new role by the Mt. Olive Board of Education at its last board meeting held Monday, Jan. 27. Out of about 36 candidates who applied, Zywicki says Moore was “head and shoulders above all the other candidates.”
His salary will be jumping to $165,842.
Serving in the Mt. Olive School district for the past decade, Moore was the vice principal at Mt. Olive Middle School for four years before moving over to CMS. He started out in the district as the MOHS Boys’ Varsity Basketball Coach. A meet and greet was held earlier this evening for parents to meet Moore.
He has had a “decade of successful experiences in the district,” says Zywicki. He understands pre-K, elementary school, middle school, as a teacher, principal and coach.
“He’s a guy who holds teachers to high standards,” says Zywicki. “He loves being a Mt. Olive Marauder. He’s the total package.”
Moore, who is going back for his doctorate, replaces Kevin Stansberry, who served as MOHS principal for the past 17 years. Stansberry was promoted to serve as the director for Secondary Schools and Global Education.
School board members congratulated Moore at the last BOE meeting.
“Much success to you at the high school,’ says Dr. Antoine Gayles.
BOE Member Anthony Strillaci says he is pleased that “We are able to promote within the district. We have exceptional staff.”
The new athletic director, Mark Grilo, also started in his new role last week as former AD Dave Falleni got promoted to serve as MOHS vice principal. Falleni had replaced former MOHS VP James Kramer who had been moved to Mt. Olive Middle School to serve as principal there. Kramer replaced Matthew Robinson, who was moved into an administrative role as director within the board office.
Check back in the next issue of Mt. Olive Online for a full feature on Grilo.
By Cheryl Conway
It is almost a wrap for an Amazon Delivery Station to receive approval to establish itself in Mt. Olive.
Some loose ends remain, but after conditions are met, the Mt. Olive Planning Board hopes to vote on the applicant’s resolution to memorialize the details this month. By the end of February, the latest, the board hopes to have the application signed, sealed and delivered…the Amazon way!
The Mt. Olive Planning Board spent about three hours at its last Planning Board meeting held Thursday, Jan. 16, to hear preliminary and final site plans for Amazon, to be located at 81 International Drive South in Budd Lake, where Sam’s Club was once located. The meeting ended close to 11 p.m. after hearing from Amazon’s attorney, civil engineer, architect and other experts about the plan’s details.
“The planning board approved their application with the conditions imposed,” explains Mt. Olive Planning Board Chair Howie Weiss. “In about 30 days, we will vote on the resolution which memorializes the details. Once signed, it’s official and they can apply for permits.
“They do not need to return,” he explains. “There are a bunch of conditions but no need to come back for. The resolution, and eventual developer’s agreement, will include the conditions. They can start the project after the resolution is approved by the planning board and signed by me.”
Weiss says “the resolution should appear on the agenda by the second meeting in February. That date is February 20, but it’s not impossible to think it may be ready on the 13...... unlikely though!”
Once the resolution is signed, Amazon can move forward with its plans and be open as a new business in town later this year, as planned.
“There will be pre-construction meetings and developer’s agreement...performance bonds will be posted,” says Weiss. “Realistically, end of the second quarter to start. I’m sure that by the holidays in Q4, it will be completely operational. They will hire and work the staffing situation along the way.
Experts Present Details
Experts who testified at the planning board meeting regarding the Amazon application spoke about the cosmetic and interior changes as well as site improvement plans of the parking lot.
Amazon.com is an American multinational e-commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Wash. It is the world’s largest online retailer that was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and began as an online bookstore. The company expanded selling other items in 1995, going online as amazon.com.
The site being proposed in Budd Lake is 132,054 sq. ft., according to experts. As a New Jersey Delivery Station for Amazon Logistics, the new facility will power Amazon’s last-mile delivery capabilities to speed up deliveries for customers in the Morris County area.
The center will operate as the “last mile station,” typically located in a greater distribution area. Customers’ orders get routed to a center then to a delivery station.
Then packages go to customers; not much different than a post office, explains Richard Diedrich, vice president for Amazon. Packages come in on trucks in the evening, then get sorted and delivered to customers.
Diedrich speaks about the forecast for non-peak operations at the proposed facility. Non-peak meaning anytime not including December 26 holiday season.
He testifies to 15 Lionel trucks to be making deliveries at the NJ Delivery Station between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. To cover the late-night shift, to begin around midnight or 1 p.m., 110 employees will be working 10-hour shifts, sorting packages to be queued up in vans.
Vans will then leave the station between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. to make their deliveries. Diedrich says this includes about 241 daily routes to surrounding areas with vans returning to the station after 7 p.m.
He says the goal is to “avoid traffic times.” Drivers show up in their personal vehicles and park in 50 to 60 spots, and then get in the vans to make deliveries. Every 20 minutes, 30 vans will be dispatched.
“Then the next round of drivers come in and leave,” says Diedrich. Vans will pull into the building then load, and leave.
Drivers can help load their vans; it is estimated that it will take 20 minutes to load 220 packages.
Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum asks if the drivers come in waves? Diedrich says “yes,” they park their vehicles, then leave in vans.
Onsite personnel will consist of 14 to 16 delivery service managers who will be handling the number of routes, says Diedrich.
The company is also looking into whether they will allow customers to come into the station to pick up their packages rather than await deliveries.
“We may do this or we may not do this,” says Diedrich. “Instead of choosing to have it delivered, I can choose to pick it up.” Customers would receive a code to pick up their packages on site. This would give customers the option to not have their packages left on their doorsteps to be snatched by thieves, he explains.
They may also have access to return packages on site, with designated parking spots to do so.
In regards to vehicle maintenance, Diedrich says vehicles will be serviced at a central location off the premises.
Bryan Ehnes of Bohler Engineering spoke about parking spaces, circulation pattern for trucks and overall site plan.
The lot will be designed to accommodate 14 parallel spaces, 161 passenger vehicle spaces, 30 spaces inside the building and 308 spaces for other shoppers at the surrounding businesses.
Ehnes testifies to how vans will enter the facility, park in designated van parking and then make a right out of the facility onto International Drive. Passenger vehicles will enter through a signalized intersection and then be routed out to Rt. 46 rather than Rt. 206.
He discusses the truck turning plan, updated on Jan. 16, in which tractor trailers entering for deliveries will use five loading docks, with two more on the eastern side of the facility. They will circle behind the shopping center
All trucks will be instructed to go one way along the back of Amazon and make a right onto International Drive, says Ehnes. “That’s how Sam’s Club operated,” says Ehnes. Trucks will be permitted to enter from routes 206 and 46.
He is getting another survey to make sure there is enough clearance for the trucks.
“It’s a good circulation pattern for trucks,” says Dr. Michael Vreeland, board engineer for the Mt. Olive Planning Board. He likes that the trucks will not be circulating in the parking lot.
The majority of the trucks entering the facility are Amazon owned or leased, says Diedrich, adding that there are several thousand tractors.
There will also be a cross easement that will restrict access and parking between the vehicles and the shoppers, confirms Joseph Paparo, attorney representing Amazon.
Access will be restricted,” says Paparo. “We are close to having the document finalized.”
Greenbaum adds that the easement needs to be a condition of approval.
Ehnes also testifies that there will be Do Not Enter signs so customers will not be inconvenienced in driving in areas that are restricted.
The suggestion was made to have an emergency access driveway just for Amazon.
“We will have to have a sign that says ‘Amazon Only,’” says Ehnes.
Ehnes then presents the overall site plan, including the entire layout of the property, landscaping, restrictions with signage.
Landscaping includes more trees and shrubs. The property meets all storm water management requirements; trash/recycling will be inside of a fenced enclosure.
The applicant is asking for excess lighting especially for evening hours since employees will be working overnight shifts.
Weiss suggests that lights be shut off to the north in the evening so homeowners in vicinity will not be affected.
Michael Krawiec, expert architect for Amazon, provides a breakdown to the building’s operations within the proposed facility. Areas include delivery, loading, warehouse, sorting and administrative.
The mayor questions Krawiec about the exhaust system with multiple vehicles that will be entering and exiting the building for loading and unloading packages.
“You’re talking about 30 vehicles every 20 minutes; that’s a lot of vehicles,” says Greenbaum.
Krawiec explains the co-monitoring system and the exhaust system in the roof that evacuates and causes air changes in the building.
Chuck McGroarty, Mt. Olive Twp. board planner, questions the noise involved with doors opening to let vehicles in and out.
Krawiec says once the vehicles get in the building, there are no sounds, as well as the machinery used inside. “It’s all passive,” says Krawiec. “There’s no heavy machinery.” Small motors are used with a conveyor on rollers to put packages on.
He also describes the exterior of the building which will be blue and dove gray with the Amazon logo, and canopies over the loading dock area. “Soft colors with tinted glass,” he says.
John McDonough, expert planner for the applicant, presents the parcel map which consists of a five acre zone on a 12 acre site; physical condition of the property without any additional need to build or disturb the property; land use; and district designated at as Commerce Oriented Zone District.
He mentions the request for 1.6 ft. candles in regards to lighting and need for nine signs- five signs at 6 sq. ft. and four being at 20 sq. ft. Signs are for navigation, drop-off, directions for customers and “visual cues to move people through the site,” says McDonough.
The larger signs are needed to go over rules; another has the address and company logo. He says the signs are informational rather than for advertising.
Traffic Expert Reports
Dr. Gordon Meth, traffic expert for the applicant, speaks about his traffic study of the area during peak hours. He says during morning peak hours, 165 trips are proposed, and 138 in the evening peak hour.
He suspects a slight increase in the morning, but says it will be quite comparable as to when the Sam’s Club was open.
“I’d say there’s not going to be a traffic issue,” says Meth.
Greenbaum’s main concern is the potential for increased traffic off of Route 80 onto Route 46 west during rush hour.
He says during evening rush hour, when a driver is turning off of Rt. 80 onto Rt. 46, traffic now backs onto the ramp onto Rt. 80. Greenbaum questions how it will affect going west bound on Rt. 46 to turning left on International Drive.
Walter Lublanecki, board traffic consultant, chimes in and says that the drivers making and picking up deliveries for Amazon will be coming from different directions so traffic may not be as backed up as it may seem.
He says, I “don’t think they’ll all be coming back off Rt. 80. They are kind of coming back randomly. Yeah, they’ll be taking up a little more space like everyone else.”
Asks Weiss, “We’re sending them all out on 46; are they coming in on 46?”
Says Greenbaum: “Once you change one traffic pattern, you create a problem in other areas. Night rush hour on 46 is horrible.”
Understanding that “there will be randomness of when they [delivery vans] come back,” he says there will still be 160 vehicles coming back in a two-hour time frame.
“I’m sure Amazon will work with us,” says Greenbaum in regards to added traffic issues. “We’re going to come up with a circulation plan of how to reroute the drivers to go alternate route. If you’re going to add to that problem, we’re going to need to fix it.”
Although fixing the traffic issue will not be a conditional approval for the applicant, Greenbaum says “it’s a safety hazard.”
Lublanecki says it is a “matter of educating the driver and taking the path of least resistance” when it comes to dealing with traffic and safety. He suggests using the Rt. 206 exit from Rt. 80 instead of Rt. 46 during peak hours.
Holiday Peak Season
Ed Buzak, board attorney, raises the traffic concerns and overflow of parking during holiday time, as the applicant excluded projections during that peak time time of year when volume of packages increase.
“What happens during that peak of business?” asks Buzak.
“We need to know if they’ll be bringing in more vans,” says Greenbaum “What happens during Christmas season?”
According to Diedrich, the station will have to run more sorting shifts earlier from 4 p.m. to midnight, during holiday season. It will have to bring in more employees for additional sorting. It may have to bring in additional vans to be parked at a different site. Amazon will have to go through a zoning application at that time.
Shifts may have to go from 10 hour routes to 12 hour routes, adds Diedrich, during holiday peak time.
Greenbaum’s response was of concern in regards to site circulation, van parking, grid-lock situations and the effect on other businesses at that shopping center.
Such a significant increase “Can cause issues,” says the mayor. “There will have to be some approval plan during those four weeks to make sure our concerns are addressed.”
Buzak suggests that the applicant will have to present to the planner a proposal for conditional use for the holiday season.
“I’m not sure I want to bring them back if we don’t have to,” says Buzak.
“If they’re going to intensify use of the site, they need to bring it to the planner to approve it himself or back to the planning board,” says Greenbaum.
Diedrich agrees that he will have to meet with the board planner and police for solutions to those issues.
Parking Lot & Snow Removal
Greenbaum is also concerned about the number of cars in the parking lot at one time.
“In the afternoon it’s going to be a sh.t show,” says Greenbaum. “I understand it in the morning,” says Greenbaum. “The confusion is what happens at the end of the day,” when people come to return their vans. Don’t get me wrong, I want it to work.
Vreeland raises the issue of snow removal of the parking lot when vehicles are parked their overnight.
The mayor agrees, “When we have a major snowstorm, it’s very difficult to clear their facility, especially when cars fill the lot. “From an operation standpoint,” he says the town is going “to require” that Amazon get the vehicles out of the spots for snow removal.
Weiss questions the applicant if it intends to hire mostly local people to staff the new station.
“How do you fill these slots?” he asks.
“Ideally, they will be local people,” says Diedrich. The goal is to hire managers who know the process, and then hire those from Budd Lake and Flanders to work in various roles withing the facility.
“That’s our preference,” says Diedrich, adding that he hopes that 95% of the employees will be local. It will be “helpful if drivers are local too,” since they know the area.
“This will be a very nice opportunity to prioritize that,” says Weiss.
Greenbaum agrees saying “that would be ideal. The best we could do is provide an opportunity to residents,” and also reach out to residents in local surrounding towns.
According to Amazon Public Relations spokesperson, Shone Jemmott,
Delivery Stations “create hundreds of part-time and full-time jobs, starting at $15 per hour.”
At the end of the meeting, the mayor moved the applicant’s preliminary and final site plan for approval as long as all of the conditions are met.
After unanimous approval, Weiss concludes, “I think you see the planning board wants it to work.”
By Cheryl Conway
Next year is a big year for Mt. Olive as the township will be ringing in 150 years since its incorporation.
To prepare for this milestone, township officials are seeking residents and local business owners to join a committee to help plan activities and volunteer at the celebrations to commemorate the big day, March 22, 2021.
March 22, 1871 is the day that Mt. Olive became incorporated as a municipality, says Mt. Olive Township Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko.
The idea to create this Sesquicentennial Committee was brought up at the last council meeting on Dec. 17, 2019, says Tatarenko. Councilmembers Alex Roman and Joe Nicastro came up with the idea, he adds.
“The township council wants input from businesses and residents of Mt. Olive to work with the recreation department to develop and plan events for 2021,” says Tatarenko.
So far four people have submitted applications, he says. “Four residents, one of which is also a business owner,” says Tatarenko. “Several members from the council will also serve on the committee.”
The last day to sign up was set for Jan. 31, “but we would keep the door open for any volunteers who want to join,” he says.
It has been 50 years since the last committee was established to celebrate the township’s milestone, when the town was 100 years old.
“A Centennial Committee was established back in 1971,” says Tatarenko. “William G. Porphy was the Centennial chairman.”
Tatarenko is not sure what type of events will be planned; that will all be decided by the Sesquicentennial Committee. He says, he “Will have more information once the committee meets, however the plan is to incorporate the 150th celebration during all the usual planned recreation activities. We’ll also be designing a logo, t-shirts, etc.”
He says he anticipates the committee meeting in February at Town Hall.
As far as funding for these events, Tatarenko says, “There is a small amount of money set aside for this year for some of the pre-planning work. All of the activities will be funded in the 2021 budget and we will look for sponsors, donations and sell commemorative items to help offset the cost.”
Volunteers may be both business owners and residents of Mt. Olive. If interested in joining the committee, contact email@example.com.
Income Tax Assistance
NORWESCAP will once again offer free income tax assistance to senior citizens, disabled, and income eligible New Jersey residents at Mt. Olive Public Library.
Tax assistance is offered beginning Thursday, Feb. 13 and runs every Thursday through April 9 from 10 a.m.-3:15 p.m.
There will also be appointments available on the following Saturdays: Feb. 22; March 7; and March 28 from 9:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m.
Tax assistance is offered by appointment only! Appointments this year will NOT be made through the library! To make an appointment, call NORWESCAP at: (973) 784-4900 Ext. 3502 or visit website at: https://tinyurl.com/VITAMtOlive.
The library will still provide access to tax forms and instructions, reference materials to help demystify the tax filing process, and online access for e-filing.
NORWESCAP is a private, non-profit corporation established to serve the low-income population of northwest New Jersey. The agency employs about 300 persons, both full and part time, dedicated to housing development, energy conservation, childcare, Head Start, volunteerism, and much more. Community Action remains an important local resource for families with NORWESCAP and other agencies across the state demonstrating their cost- effective service delivery method which creates thriving communities.
Italy Returns To Mt Olive Library
Join in at the Gathering Room on Thursday, March 5, from 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. for Italian Movie Night 13, featuring the movie “Ieri, Oggi, Domani” (“Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”) presented by Domenico Tancredi.
“Ieri, Oggi, Domani” is a 1964 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film. It is a three-story comedy by Vittorio De Sica, starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in all three stories. In Italian with English subtitles.
Registration requested. Call 973-691-8686 ext. 106 or go to www.mopl.org to register.
County Replacing Local Bridge
Work was scheduled to start the week of Feb. 3 to replace the bi-county Waterloo Road bridge, which spans Netcong and Mt. Olive in Morris County and connects with Stanhope in Sussex County.
The bridge replacement will require a 2.5-mile detour for about nine months. The detour will utilize Continental Drive, Route 46, Ledgewood Avenue, Main Street, and Kelly Place.
Replacement is needed because the bridge is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
The superstructure is in poor condition due to severe rust and there has been some loss of the bottom cord of the truss as well as in the floor beams and interior stringers.
Currently, the bridge has a posted four-ton weight limit.
The contractor on the $2.3 million bid project is Marbro Inc. of Long Branch. This project is state funded.
Waterloo Road bridge, or county bridge number 1401-038, is a single span steel truss originally built in 1894. It carries about 1,100 vehicles per day. Currently, it is 18-feet wide and 43-feet long and carries two lanes of traffic –one in each direction.
There is a steel open-grid sidewalk on the north fascia of the bridge, with an ornamental pedestrian railing.
The project will require careful removal and storage of the existing trusses and pedestrian railing, followed by the removal of the remaining bridge.
The new structure then will be installed – pre-stressed concrete box beams supported on stone faced concrete abutments and wing walls, with a concrete deck, curbs, and bridge railings -- and approach roadway work also will be done.
To maintain some of the historic character of the original bridge, the original trusses will be restored and re-installed. The new 37-foot wide by 40-foot long span also will get a new and wider and new ornamental pedestrian rail on the south side of the bridge.
Advance warning signs about the project have been installed on roads near the bridge to warn motorists about the closure and pending detour.
Freeholder boards in Morris and Sussex counties have agreed to allocate a total of $50,000 in matching funds to support an application by the Lake Hopatcong Commission for a potential $500,000 state grant to study and reduce harmful algal blooms (HABs), which severely limited recreational use of Lake Hopatcong during most of the 2019 recreational season.
Combined with a $50,000 match from the Lake Hopatcong Commission and $150,000 of expected in-kind donations by lake towns -- Hopatcong, Jefferson, Mount Arlington, and Roxbury -- there is a potential $750,000 infusion of funds for projects to commence this spring to deal with the troubling issue.
Morris and Sussex counties, which share the shoreline of Lake Hopatcong, also have written letters this week to the state Department of Environmental Protection in support of the Lake Hopatcong Commission’s application for a state Water Quality Restoration Grant.
“Given our lake’s high ecological, recreational and economic value, efforts need to continue to restore and protect Lake Hopatcong and its associated natural resources,’’ the freeholder boards stated in their letters to the DEP.
In addition, the Morris County Freeholders, in a December letter to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, strongly supported a request by the Lake Hopatcong Foundation for an additional federal grant to develop approaches to reduce the flow of algal-feeding nutrients into the lake.
“We are committed to working with the Lake Hopatcong community to deal with the devastating effect of algal blooms,’’ said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith. “It is crucial that we understand the causes and take action to prevent a reoccurrence of what happened last summer.’’
“The recreational and economic significance of Lake Hopatcong is important not only to the region but to the state,” said Sussex County Freeholder Director Sylvia Petillo. “This cooperative effort underscores our commitment to the on-going health and stewardship of the lake.”
The Lake Hopatcong Foundation is partnering with the Commission on lake projects dealing with algal bloom. The DEP grant, if approved, could finance the trials of numerous technologies to find the best solution or combination of treatments for state’s largest lake.
"While there are many long-term measures we want to execute to minimize the possibility of HABs impacting Lake Hopatcong, we cannot go through another summer without identifying a means to treat an outbreak should one occur,’’ said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Board Chair Marty Kane.
“Funds sought through the Governor’s initiative will allow us to implement strategies to mitigate or prevent blooms that last year impacted the entire Lake Hopatcong community,’’ said Lake Hopatcong Commission Chair Ronald Smith. “Thanks to the support of the counties, municipalities, local, state, and federal elected officials, and the Lake Hopatcong Foundation we are able to leverage our funding match to request the maximum grant award."
The potential state grant, combined with match dollars and services, could be applied towards projects to prevent, control, or mitigate harmful algal blooms, with implementation to start in the spring.
There is a limit of $500,000 to any one applicant, and grantees must provide a match of 33 percent to any DEP funding.
During the summer of 2019, New Jersey experienced an unprecedented number of harmful algal blooms in freshwater bodies, including Lake Hopatcong, resulting in advisories to limit direct contact with lake water, and closure of a number of freshwater recreational bathing beaches to protect public health.
The advisories had a negative impact on local economies and limited recreational use of these natural resources. Lake Hopatcong suffered an unprecedented season-long harmful algal bloom, which severely hurt lake businesses and the local economy in lake towns.
In response, the DEP issued a request for proposals to seek applications for grants totaling $2.5 million to eligible applicants to fund implementation of methods to mitigate or control freshwater algal blooms. Eligible projects include efforts to prevent, mitigate, or control HABs, focusing on root causes of blooms, short-term bloom reduction techniques, or water quality monitoring
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are naturally present in lakes and streams in low numbers that can form dense blooms under suitable environmental conditions, such as optimal sunlight, elevated nutrients from stormwater and other runoff, warm temperatures and calm water.
These blooms can discolor water and produce floating mats or “scums’’ on the surface. Under the right conditions, these HABs also can produce cyanotoxins, which can be dangerous to the health of humans, pets and wildlife.
The application was solely for Lake Hopatcong, explains Larry Ragonese
Morris County Communications director.
“This only has to do with Lake Hopatcong,” he explains. “As the state’s largest lake a huge resource for both Morris and Sussex counties, and with a major negative impact caused by the bloom in 2019, the two counties joined with the four lake communities and the regional groups to support this application.”
Applicants from other lake communities can request a limit of $500K for a potential state grant, and then with matching dollars of 33 percent from that community, can be used to prevent, control, or mitigate harmful algal blooms.
Mt. Olive hopes to receive its response from the state in about a month regarding its application for funding to improve Budd Lake, according to Mt. Olive Twp. Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko.
“Yes, an application was submitted seeking $365K in grant money,” says Tatarenko. “The township would match $180,000 over a three-year period. The objective of the grant would be to continue treating the lake for three more years with a more aggressive treatment program as recommended by our lake consultant which will include a systemic whole lake treatment approach, harvesting and removing more biomass from the lake, and being proactive by treating at the onset of any algal blooms with Copper Sulfate, in combination with an Aluminum Sulfate application.
Temperatures were in the 20s on Thursday, Jan. 23, outside St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown as officials coordinating Morris County’s Project Homeless Connect said a few words — deliberately in the chilly sunshine before opening the doors.
The short speeches gave advocates for residents in need a chance to stand in the cold, shoulder-to-shoulder with people who experience homelessness or who are at risk of losing their shelter.
Bundled in coats and standing in the snow, for the most part, it was impossible to tell who was an advocate and who was a client.
They were all drawn to the Morristown church by Project Homeless Connect, an annual daylong, consumer focused, one-stop event designed to provide an array of resources and support to those experiencing homelessness in the Morris County community.
More than 40 community-based service providers participated in the event, coordinated by the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris and joined by nonprofit partners and county government.
“Homelessness affects people from every walk of life in our county,” said Morris County Human Services Director Sharon Yoo, who participated in the event. “These people are our neighbors, our children, our veterans and our family members. It is essential to provide a special day when we focus on homelessness and reach out to anyone struggling with homelessness to give them some help and hope.”
Men, women and young children, singles and families of all races and ages, eventually filed into the church’s parish hall to answer four quick questions and then talk to representatives of a range of non-profit organizations.
Medical and mental health services, the Interfaith Food Pantry, Peer Recovery, Employment Horizons and the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs all sought to help clients who came to their tables. Free haircuts started at 10 a.m. A warm meal was offered in the kitchen. Boy Scouts had organized a room full or coats and another of clothing and blankets, all neatly stacked in categories and sizes.
Many “guests” stopped by the tables set up outside of the church by the Sheriff’s Hope One and Morris County’s Navigating Hope programs at the curb for a snack of muffins and donuts, a cup of coffee or just to chat with the staff about social services and/or addictions.
Their tables offered literature on addiction services, NARCAN training, as well as bags of toiletries and hand-knit hats, scarves and blankets. A trained eye could pick out some people suffering from opioid addictions. They offered bags of snacks to those who seemed to need food for later.
Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon summed up the day: “Helping and supporting people who are struggling is a priority in Morris County. Giving people a ‘help up,’ rather than a ‘hand-out,’ is part of the generous Morris County attitude.”
CCM President To Receive Inaugural Educator Of Year Award
Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, president of County College of Morris (CCM), has been selected by Child & Family Resources of Morris County as a recipient of its inaugural S.H.I.N.E. Award recognizing educators whose work and contributions strengthen families and communities.
“Dr. Iacono is deeply committed to the Morris County community and the students of County College of Morris,” noted Rebekka Zydel, executive director of Child & Family Resources. “The college’s commitment to serve the residents and businesses of Morris County and the State of New Jersey and to sustain engaged citizenship within a diverse population of students and community members is reflected in the many partnerships he has formed with the nonprofit community to bring services and resources to students in financial need.”
The S.H.I.N.E. (Serves, Help, Inspires, Nurtures and Excels) Award was created to honor those who have made exceptional contributions to support the development of children and inspire students. The other recipients of the inaugural award are Regina Braham, co-designer of a nationally recognized dating violence education and counseling program; and Samantha Kindberg, who as a certified lifeguard has volunteered her time to teach underprivileged children to swim.
“It’s an honor to have been selected for this inaugural award,” said Iacono. “What this award recognizes is the great work of the entire CCM community to provide pathways for individuals to realize their dreams and develop the partnerships to strengthen our communities. We also are grateful to partner with organizations such as Child & Family Resources that work tirelessly each day to build a better future for others.”
Since becoming CCM’s third president in 2016, Iacono has focused on enhancing the college’s role as a community partner to ensure it is assisting as many people as possible with realizing their dreams for a better future. As he likes to note, “Every individual deserves a great education regardless of the circumstances of their birth.”
A community college graduate himself, he is a strong supporter of higher education and its power to transform lives. He has served as an advisor to the United States Department of Education, various national think tanks and educational reform organizations. Currently, he is a member of New Jersey Presidents’ Council, which represents New Jersey’s public, private colleges and universities. He also is a strong supporter and an active member of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges to advance its mission of strengthening and supporting the state’s network of community colleges.
The S.H.I.N.E. Award will be presented to Iacono at the Child & Family Resources Gala on Thursday, Feb. 6, at The Mansion at Mountain Lakes.
CCM Student Publication Earns Third National Design Award
The 2018-19 edition of the “Promethean,” the student produced literary publication at County College of Morris (CCM), recently was presented with its third award of excellence.
The latest recognition was a Third Place Award in the Best Artwork-Eastern Regional category in the Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) Literary Magazine Competition. That award was for a pencil drawing, titled Sluggish Friends, by Veronica Theobald, of Randolph. This is the first time CCM entered the Promethean in that competition.
Theobald was accepted to and will be attending the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York when she finishes her studies at CCM to earn her bachelor’s degree in graphic design.
“She feels that her coursework at CCM prepared her well for the challenges of the rigorous design program at SVA,” said Professor Kathy McNeil, the faculty advisor for the Promethean.
Last year, the 2018-19 edition also received two awards from Graphic Design USA: an In-House Graphic Design Award presented for materials created by in-house design departments and an American Graphic Design Award for design excellence. That marked the eighth time the Promethean received the In-house Graphic Design Award and the 14th time it earned the American Graphic Design Award in the Graphic Design USA competition.
The Graphic Design USA awards are presented for original work created by professional design firms and individuals. There is no separate category for student-produced work, meaning the Promethean in that competition is judged alongside professionally produced material.
The Promethean student design team for 2018-19 edition consisted of Melissa Ostrander, of Randolph; Kevin Manimbo, of Chester; Joshua Dimatulac, of Hackettstown; Harley Petrocelli, of Morristown; and Marissa Cook, of Oak Ridge.
For additional information on CCM’s Art and Design programs, visit http://bit.ly/CCMdesign.
Centenary Students Visit Shelter On MLK Day
Centenary University students partnered with The Outreach Connection, a Califon-based nonprofit, to volunteer at the Safe Harbor shelter in Easton, Pa., to mark the 25th annual national MLK Day of Service and honor the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The students distributed coats, blankets, and backpacks to visitors of the shelter. Last week, Centenary students worked alongside employees of Enterprise Holdings at The Outreach Connection to prepare the items for distribution. Founded by 2019 Centenary University graduate Rachel Wenrich-Laul, The Outreach Connection helps people and animals struggling in poverty in Warren and Hunterdon counties, connecting them with valuable resources and meeting immediate needs for items such as clothing and living essentials, as well as pet food and supplies.
February is here and so is the time to rhyme. Send in your poems about love. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Any good poet knows that poetry does not have to rhyme so how ever you choose, submissions will be accepted!
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