Mt. Olive Online Publication September 18, 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication September 18, 2020
By Cheryl Conway
Patriotism thrives in Mt. Olive and will ring true on Monday, May 25, at the annual Memorial Day ceremony still set to take place at the All Veterans Memorial in Budd Lake.
While New Jersey’s executive orders for social distancing and group gatherings of less than ten people resumes, the local ceremony will be virtual to the public via live-stream on different social media outlets. No one, other than those invited to participate in the ceremony, will be allowed to attend.
The All Veterans Memorial / All Veterans Alliance in Budd Lake has received approval from Mt. Olive Mayor Robert Greenbaum to hold a Memorial Day Ceremony at the AVM on May 25, at 11 a.m. The ‘2020’ Memorial Remembrance Day Ceremony is being organized and sponsored by the AVM and AVA.
While many other organizations in surrounding areas are cancelling their Memorial Day events this year because of the governor’s orders, AVM and AVA Founder Charlie Uhrmann is planning her traditional annual event. Now, more than any other time is to stand united under one nation.
“We can figure out a way to adhere to the governor’s orders, do it safely, common sense precaution,” says Uhrmann.
As this year’s keynote speaker, Uhrmann will pay tribute to fallen warriors, and will also “address the period we are in right now,” during a time of crisis and uncertainty, as “One Nation Under God; our need to be one nation under God, under these circumstances.”
While she accepts that she will not have her usual 200 plus people in attendance along with groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Junior ROTC and color guard, she says holding a ceremony, “that’s essential to us.”
She says, “I started rallying the troops and they’re all available,” all nine of them to be exact as she knows she needs to adhere to the governor’s orders.
She contacted the mayor with her idea to keep him informed and seek approval.
“We discussed and both agreed that the ceremony should not be open to the public and that the participants should be restricted to no more than ten people present at one time,” says Uhrmann. “We should also try to limit the number of participants on the main complex to only three during the ceremony.
“This will be the first year we will not have the participation of a full Color Guard, Boys and Girl Scouts, period military displays and a live National Anthem performance,” she says. Since the flags remain at half-staff for those who have died due to COVID-19, Uhrmann says she won’t need to use the color guard.
“Instead, we are hoping that Mark Noyes [U.S. Navy] will open the ceremony by playing each military homely in front of the specific branch of service flag,” she says. Frank Mezle of the U.S. Coast Guard will raise each service flag as each song is played, as noted on the itinerary.
Live Stream Suggested
The mayor had suggested to her, “why don’t you stream it on the township website and his website?” says Uhrmann.
Grateful for the cooperation, “the ceremony will be available to the public in real time via FB Streaming and through other internet sites that have voiced interest,” says Uhrmann. “We would like to respectfully ask that you do not invite any family or friends to the AVM, as we have made a commitment to control the attendance at the park; only those with exceptional circumstances will be allowed. “Mt. Olive Township has offered to assist us in this year’s Spring Clean-up efforts, as the pending mandate prohibits group gatherings,” she says. “I will be working alone on various projects that warrant attention Monday through Friday. Displays will be set up on Friday and will remain at the park until Tuesday.”
During the last Mt. Olive Twp. Council meeting, Greenbaum applauded Uhrmann for coordinating this year’s upcoming ceremony. He requested township officials jump on board, whether that is helping her prepare the sight, video-taping the event, live-streaming and watching virtually.
“I thought it was pretty impressive what she was able to put together,” says Greenbaum.
Mt. Olive Twp. Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko says “The township is currently trying to work out the logistics with videotaping/livestreaming, the details have not been worked out. At a minimum it will be broadcasted via our social media platforms, most likely the Mayor’s Page, but we are also trying to get it on our website. Our Public Works Department assists by prepping the grounds, provides cones, etc.”
Uhrmann reached out to nine selected people that she figured “were not committed to anything else” that day and she got a “100 percent response,” she says. “People felt the same as I did. I feel it’s essential. You don’t forget this day.”
She says, “it’s amazing how many people want to participate, but they can’t” because of the mandate. “Our whole goal is the stream it; don’t come to the AVM, she stresses.
Those nine who are attending will be sitting 20 feet apart, she says. The Boy Scouts will provide a display prior to the event, and the AVM will allow the set-up of displays by other groups or organizations, which will be left up through Tuesday for any visitors who visit.
The person, who was originally planned to serve as the keynote speaker, had to cancel for unfortunate circumstances. This person would have been Uhrmann’s first female keynote speaker for this event.
“I had hoped to have a female speaker, however and sadly, she had recently lost both her parents to COVID-19,” says Uhrmann. “Since we are now fighting a different war that is affecting all of America’s citizens, to which is now being fought by civilians in the front line, and in respect to the governor’s social distancing mandates, we had decided it would be appropriate to allow me to be this year’s keynote speaker.
Uhrmann plans to deliver a bipartisan message: “I will deliver the Keynote Message that will address our nation’s loss of brave warriors and our most recent civilian warriors battling the war on COVID-19. The message will be about unity and oneness. A belief long held by the All Veterans Memorial board members.
The keynote message will not only address our fallen warriors; but the recent COVID-19 losses as well. Our focus this year is to cultivate a oneness between our service members and civilians. It is the perfect time to integrate the two; One Nation Under God.”
She says they “will have a moment of silence” for those who have passed way, including military and those who died from COVID-19.
Participants of The Morristown Chapter – Daughters of the American Revolution will be laying the memorial wreaths during the ceremony. Participants include: Corresponding Secretary Katherine Newcomber who will represent the U.S. Army and lay a wreath at the Global War On Terror Memorial Bridge; Chapter Regent Carrie Efinger, who will represent the U.S. Navy and lay a wreath at the War Dog Memorial; First Vice Regent Peg Shultz who will represent the U.S. Air Force and lay a wreath at the Spiritual Cenotaph; Registrar Becky Wilder who will represent the U.S. Coast Guard and lay a wreath at the Warrior Obelisk; and Past Chapter Regent Patricia Sanftner, who will represent the U.S. Marine Corps and lay a wreath at the POW/MIA/PTSD Remembrance Wall.
Rob Bedell of the U.S. Air Force- who will also serve as the narrator of the event, lead the “Pledge of Allegiance,” as well as the Introductory Remarks/Presidential Proclamation- will call each participant of the NSDAR while Mark Noyes of the U.S. Navy will play “Amazing Grace” at the Bill of Rights Wall.
“Rob will call for a moment of silence after the last wreath has been laid,” says Uhrmann. “TAPS,” will be played by Christine Emmett of the U.S. Marine Corps after 15 seconds of silence.
Chaplain Amber Charman of the U.S. Army will provide the Invocation and the Benediction.
See the detailed itinerary included on this page for more information.
A private ceremony will be held at this year’s ceremony for the laying of the pavers.
The setting of a memorial paver during the ceremony is pending for the latest N.J. fallen warrior, U.S. Army Sgt. Michael James Goble.
“We are also setting a service paver for Andrew Kacmarcik – a WWII Veteran who lost his life at Iwo Jima,” says Uhrmann. Kacmarcik was with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Those who have been asked to participate in the event are honored to comply.
“The members of the Morristown Chapter, NSDAR are honored to have been asked by the AVM organization to be a participant in the Memorial Day ceremonies this year,” says First Vice Regent Peg Shultz of the Morristown Chapter of the NSDAR.
“As a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, the daughter of a career USAF Veteran, and a member of Post 91 American Legion Auxiliary, I feel it is my patriotic duty to participate in any way I can,” says Shultz of Andover. “I am particularly honored to place the USAF memorial wreath.
“As the word "Memorial" tells us, it's a day for remembering and honoring those who sacrificed their lives in battle,” explains Shultz. “It is their ultimate sacrifice that allows all Americans to enjoy the freedoms outlined by the founding fathers in our national documents.
“While this year will be a little different due to Covid-19 and social distancing, we should pause to reflect and remember the brave men and women who answered the call of the nation and made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom all Americans enjoy,” Shultz concludes.
The live-stream is so far set to be hosted on the Mayor’s Facebook page and the All Veterans Memorial’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/AllVeteransMemorialMountOlive/
By Cheryl Conway
Sweet 16 birthday parties are the icing to many girls’ teenage years, and one Flanders sophomore made sure COVID-19 would not sour her day.
Ashley Koch of Mt. Olive Road rang in her 16th birthday on May 7 with a Drive- By Birthday Celebration with family, friends, balloons and decorations. The sweetest part was her request for food donations to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry in lieu of birthday gifts.
“Ashley asked to have A Drive-by Food Fundraiser Donation Party on the day of her birthday,” says her mom Jennifer Koch. “Wayne and I were planning a Drive By Birthday for Ashley. When we told Ashley, she said she would like to help the Mount Olive Food Pantry by having friends and family bring food instead of gifts.”
As residents of Flanders for the past 15 years, the Koches were planning a Sweet 16 Party for Ashley at the Hanover Manor. With the executive order by the New Jersey governor to disallow social gatherings and public celebrations, the Koches had to change their birthday plans.
“When Ashley told us her thoughts on making her birthday a food pantry donation party we were touched,” says Jennifer Koch. “Ashley amazes us every day. She is always thinking of others. She truly has a heart of gold and we are so very proud of the young woman she is.”
The birthday girl was part of organizing and coordinating the food collection.
“We notified friends and family through text messaging,” says her mom. “Her friends helped spread the word.
“We had set up balloons and decorations with a table at the top of the driveway,” says Jennifer Koch. “Ashley also donated her Sweet 16 party favors to the Mt. Olive Police Department and the fire department.
“The party favors were individual mason jars filled with candy that Ashley filled with red, white and blue M&M’s,” she explains. “She made labels that read ‘Thank you for being here for us!’ Ashley made 125 favors.”
Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Ashley Koch greeted friends and family who drove by with canned foods.
“We are not sure of the amount,” says her mom. “Maybe 30 cars with multiple people in each.”
Many food items, such as cans of vegetables, sauce, soup, beans, tuna fish, peanut butter, pastas, cereal, rice and paper goods, were dropped off.
In the end, eight large boxes were filled and donated to the Mt. Olive Food Pantry, they say.
“Myself, Ashley and her brother Zachary delivered the donation,” says Jennifer Koch. “We delivered the items on Friday, May 8, at 1:30.”
Ashley Koch was so pleased with the turnout and grateful that she was able to find that “happy” in her special birthday this year.
“It was a good time to help my community,” says Ashley Koch. “I was very overwhelmed with the turnout. I was not sure what to expect. It was very heartwarming.”
Despite her request for no gifts she shares, “I did receive some flowers and balloons.”
Another year wiser, she offers her advice to others: “Stay positive and know this is the time to help others,” she says.
“Thank you to all that participated and made my birthday so special,” concludes Ashley Koch. “I am truly blessed.”
As the country slowly starts to open, such as beaches, state and county parks and non-essential stores with curb-side services only, schools remain closed with end-of-year details still in question.
Mt. Olive Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Zywicki has been holding separate Parent Universities this week for different grades to focus on the various issues and respond to numerous questions. Whether it is graduation, award ceremonies, clap outs, school trips reimbursements, cleaning out lockers, returning books and Chromebooks and Kindergarten registration, Zywicki has been providing detailed answers.
His main message was for parents to remain patient.
Mt. Olive School District is “in a holding pattern waiting for the governor,” says Zywicki. “Chill out a little bit. Please be patient.” With five weeks left, 20 days to be exact, things can change. These are “unchartered waters.”
Zywicki says distance learning in the MOSD has “been successful because we’ve been communicating. We are here for you. We want to help.”
He reiterated to parents to contact their school principal, guidance counselor and even him with any issues.
“We are here to serve you,” Zywicki told the parents during the session Wednesday, May 20, for parents of students in grades one through five. “Feel free to reach out to us.”
Zywicki says school leaders are working on a pre-plan of what the fall will look like regarding going back to school for in-person learning. Like his actions before the shut-down, he says Mt. Olive wants to be “proactive” with a plan so he is looking at what other schools, like in Maryland, Kansas and in Europe, are doing as well as recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Direction in the end will come from the state, he says. The pre-plan will also be presented to the Mt. Olive Board of Education for their input and guidance.
Ideas on the return plan from schools vary and include traditional method; keeping schools closed with distance learning intact; or hybrid in which kids report to the school in the a.m. and others in the p.m. “For working parents, that looks terrible,” says Zywicki. More information will be coming in June, he says.
Regarding caps and gowns, Zywicki says it is still mid-May, but they will probably have a drive-thru process for distribution.
Sports, he says, “I have no answers for what fall sports will look like. As soon as we hear, will put that out to you.”
This past Monday, attendance returned requiring all students to check in by noon that they are present. If they do not check in by that time, they get marked absent for the day.
Regarding the retrieval of belongings, Zywicki says he will have more answers to specifics on that next week so students can get their “moldy bologna sandwiches in lockers of some of our high school students.” For those who do have medicine, or need their eyeglasses, he says accommodations can be made to retrieve from the school nurses.
Zywicki spoke to the senior parents on Monday, May 18.
For all families, the “COVID closure has been an extremely challenging time,” says Zywicki. “For the seniors and for their families it’s been possibly the most challenging. We send our kids to school in Kindergarten with the thought of them graduating and walking across that stage, the thought of being there to celebrate that momentous occasion, one of the biggest occasions in the developmental milestones in our kids’ lives.
“What it’s like to be a senior during this time period is really challenging for our kids and our families,” he says.
The main challenge is graduation.
“We are going to go ahead and plan a virtual graduation,” says Zywicki. “There’s a good number of days ahead before graduation,” however, so if anything, maybe there can be “some kind of event later.”
All depends on the governor and state police, he says.
A week ago, the governor said no graduations, then changed it to permitting graduations in cars.
“I am very hopeful that something will change,” says Zywicki, especially with the warmer weather ahead.
“I want to have traditional graduation in Marauder Stadium like we did last year,” says Zywicki. But based on directives from the governor, “We should plan alternatives for graduation.
He says the district can do “a wave parade,” but cannot get out of the car. “Let’s take a deep breath,” says Zywicki.
“We’re planning all this out,” he says, adding that he has “a feeling” that the district will have more options come the first week of June.
Five ideas are being considered: Traditional graduation; in-person graduation with two parents; in-person graduation with just students, principal and superintendent; Drive-in with students remaining in cars; or virtual ceremony.
For a virtual graduation, Zywicki says many schools are showing pictures from the yearbook, but he is thinking more about having the seniors be given appointments to walk across the stage wearing their cap and gown, one by one, to get there diploma before the graduation date. With usage of the Mt. Olive in-house Television Studio (MOTV), each walk would be videotaped and then edited and made into one video streamed-lined virtually to the school community.
“I’m going to make every effort that each high school student gets to walk across the stage,” he says.
But sadly, “I’m not committing to anything right now,” he says. “Please be patient with me,” as he needs to take direction from the governor and listen to the mandates.
“It’s not something I can change, or interpret or fight,” says Zywicki. “I have an obligation to listen to it. I have to listen to his directives.”
For caps and gowns, the MOHS principal will be organizing a drive-thru process for pick up. Students will be notified after Memorial Day weekend, says Zywicki.
Other Topics For Seniors
Prom is the other big topic, which was originally set for today, May 23. The senior class will be getting their deposit back that they put down at Meadowbrook in Randolph where the prom was set to be held.
If the class of 2020 is permitted to have a prom later in the summer, after June 26, or even over Thanksgiving weekend, it will have to be held without chaperones by the school administration, he says.
All money raised by the senior class will go into a trust account that can be used later, like if it were a reunion.
For yearbooks, Jostens will be mailing them directly to the students during the third week in June, says Zywicki.
Students may be entitled to get money back from their parking fees but more information will be forthcoming, says Zywicki.
Senior Banner Signs are being purchased by the school district and will be displayed around the loop at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake with permission by the Mt. Olive Township Council. Families will be invited to drive around the park to see pictures of the graduating seniors.
“Councilman Nicastro coordinated the Townships response by allowing the signs to be placed around the loop road at Turkey Brook Park,” explains Mt. Olive Twp. Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko. “Turkey Brook Park is the most visible landmark in Mt. Olive. The township historically has a good working relationship with the school board; this year was even more important as we wanted to help and show our support to the seniors who are not allowed to have a traditional graduation.”
For virtual awards: Renaissance is set for June 2 at 6:30 p.m.; Senior Awards Night is set for June 9 at 6 p.m.
Mt. Olive Lights: Every Friday night, at 8:20, MOHS is lit up in honor of the seniors. Last Friday, the Mt. Olive Police Department was there because students were getting out of their vehicles, which is prohibited, says Zywicki.
“We cannot have masses of cars,” says Zywicki, adding that the lights will be displayed again this Friday. “Can’t have people running through the field. Don’t park by the dome and walk up. You can drive thru.”
Zywicki also mentioned that he had been in touch with the president at County College of Morris in Randolph and more students may want to consider attending CCM in the fall as an affordable and local contingency plan if COVID 19 has affected their enrollment at their first school of choice.
For graduation, Zywicki says he is planning on a virtual ceremony as well, or a car parade through Turkey Brook. The date for graduation will remain on June 25.
“That’s something we can at least count on,” says Zywicki. “At least they are getting something in June.”
Maybe an in-person ceremony can be planned in July, he says. At the very least, 8th graders will get a “beefed up” welcome when they hopefully enter high school in the fall.
The MOMS principal will be contacting 8th grade parents possibly next week for information on cap and gown distribution.
Another hot topic has been refunds for the eighth grade Washington, D.C. Trip. The BOE approved an amended contract at its last meeting which approves the refund.
“I’m really happy we were able to make that happen,” says Zywicki regarding refunds that should be received by June 30.
Parents who paid the trip insurance in advance will get a refund; parents who did not pay the insurance will get a full refund minus the $29 trip insurance fee.
There is talk that perhaps the 8th graders can attend the D.C. trip in the fall of their 9th grade, he adds.
On June 19, tentatively, students will be invited to visit the middle school to pick up their yearbook, cap and gown and tassel, and clean out lockers. They will be given a time slot according to the alphabet.
Students will be allowed to keep their Chromebooks over the summer to use the next school year.
Grades One Through 5
By June 15, Zywicki says he is hoping to allow parents to get their students’ stuff from school by way of a drive-thru to get belonging and drop off books.
Right now, no one can go into the buildings, he says, not even volunteers. He also reminds everyone that all school fields are closed.
At the end of next week, he is hoping to have more information regarding awards.
One parent asked about keeping her child at home for virtual learning in the fall. Zywicki says that may be an option to be considered for students who may be immune compromised.
There will be no “Clap-Out,” he says as “we cannot physically do that,” but instead is planning a Clap-In for those incoming sixth graders come the fall.
Zywicki says the district is tentatively looking at June 23 as the last day of school, since three snow days were remaining, but the BOE will have to make that decision at the next board meeting set for June 8 at 6:30 p.m.
For the other Parent Universities held this week and upcoming, as well as school news, visit the Mt. Olive School District Facebook page or Zywicki’s daily memo found at http://www.mtoliveboe.org/ or follow on Instagram @MountOliveSD
Freeholders Urge All Residents To Fill Out 2020 Census
The Morris County Board of Freeholders and community representatives from across the county are urging all county residents, from all communities, nationalities, religions, races, and ethnic groups, to complete the 2020 Census this spring.
Getting an accurate count is vital to ensuring that Morris County gets its fair share of federal aid over the next decade for a host of programs and services, including federal aid for disasters such as Superstorm Sandy and the current COVID-19 crisis.
Currently, the county is missing out on about $85 million in direct federal to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic because it is below a Census-based federal population calculation by just 8,000 people.
"We have to be sure we are fully counted, and that means all residents from all of our communities, so that Morris County is not shortchanged in getting federal dollars for county programs over the next decade,'' said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
“Not being fully counted has long-term negative ramifications on federal aid we will get for housing, childcare, education, senior and disabled programs, and for transportation, and county road and bridge projects, among many others, added Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, who is a member of the Morris County Complete Count Committee.
The county's initial effort to encourage Census response has been successful in general, but there are some pockets of the county where the count has been lacking, including Harding, far eastern and western sections of Florham Park, and parts of Morristown and Parsippany.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders, with the backing of a bipartisan group of state and federal legislators, recently asked the state and federal governments not to penalize the county to the tune of $80 million to $90 million in direct federal COVID-19 aid because the county is slightly short of a 500,000 county population cutoff figure.
Some $3.4 billion has been allocated to New Jersey from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, established by the CARES Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27.
The Fund provided a $2.4 billion direct payment to the State of New Jersey, as well as more than $1 billion of direct payments to New Jersey counties with populations greater than 500,000. Morris County, however, has 491,845 people, which narrowly misses that threshold.
Sister counties, such as Passaic and Camden counties, with populations of 501,826 and 506,343 respectively are each getting $88 million in direct federal aid, while Morris County received no direct aid and will have to seek a share of the state’s allotment.
"This shows just how vitally important it is to get every Morris County resident counted. It makes a real difference, '' said Freeholder Tayfun Selen, who also is a member of the Morris County Complete Count Committee.
Morris County Counts 2020
The county kicked off the “Morris County Counts 2020’’ campaign in mid-March, stressing that competition for federal dollars is fierce and the population count is key to bringing back county tax dollars that are sent each year to federal coffers.
Officials in Morris County, which has an estimated population of nearly 492,000 per the most recent Census estimate, stressed three key points about the Census: Filling out the Census is Safe, Easy and Important.
Safety: Census data will be secure. Your data will not be shared. There is no citizenship question on the Census. You will not be asked for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, or other very personal data;
Ease: You can fill out the Census online this year for the first time. You also can easily respond by mail. Also, the Census is available in many languages.
Importance: The Census count determines how much money the federal government allocates for programs in our state and county, and our representation in Congress
More than 300 federal spending programs rely on data derived from the Census to guide the geographic distribution of funds to states, counties, cities, and households.
Programs that are vital to Morris County, such as Medicare, assistance to older residents and children, transportation and housing programs, community health and environmental programs, and bridge repairs and replacements, among others, are dependent on federal aid.
Business and industry use Census data to help determine where to locate their stores and franchises, bringing in new and important jobs.
Our state’s representation in Congress also is determined by the Census, with 435 seats in the House of Representatives determined by the Census.
Morris MUA Urges Safety In Trash/Medical Waste Disposal
The Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority, following the guidance of the state, is advising families of residents with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and those under cautionary quarantine to take extra precautions when disposing of household trash.
According to state Department of Environmental Protection recommendations, trash from these households should be double bagged using regular trash bags, properly closed, and tightly tied to avoid leakage.
Bags should be placed in rigid trash disposal containers while outdoors prior to pickup to avoid human or animal contact with the refuse.
These measures are designed for the safety of residents and disposal crews.
MUA Solid Waste Coordinator James Deacon also urged institutions, such as health care facilities and hospitals, to also be guided by NJDEP’s COVID-19 waste management rules.
Red medical waste bags or biohazard bags generated by institutions and/or county residents must not be disposed of in curbside trash cans that are collected by municipal waste haulers.
Only licensed medical waste contractors are allowed to collect and dispose of filled red medical waste bags.
“The MCMUA’s garbage transfer station inspectors have seen an uptick in the number of red medical waste bags coming to us through regular trash disposal,'' said Deacon. "When these bags show up at the transfer stations, the facilities must be shut down to guarantee the safety of employees and to ensure that regulated medical waste is not being improperly disposed.”
In addition, county residents are asked to refrain from traveling to the county's two garbage transfer stations located in Mt. Olive and Parsippany during the COVID-19 crisis. Because of social distancing requirements, it is difficult for the scale masters to safely interact with residents who show up at the transfer stations.
Unless it is essential that the household trash be disposed of immediately, residents should utilize curbside pickup by their waste hauler or wait until towns are again collecting bulky waste collections.
For information about proper disposal of medical waste, household garbage, or details about municipal recycling, go to www.MCMUA.com for details.
Freeholders Urge Governor To Safely Reopen N.J.
The Morris County Board of Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution last week calling for the safe, phased reopening of New Jersey, allowing a re-start of the state's economy while protecting the public health from the continuing presence of COVID-19.
The resolution, which has been sent to Gov. Phil Murphy, state legislators, the New Jersey Association of Counties, and mayors in all 39 Morris County municipalities, was a recommendation of the new Morris Recovery Taskforce, which has been created by the freeholders.
"We have reached a point where continued closure of business in New Jersey may actually be causing harm to overall public health,'' said Freeholder John Krickus, who is chair of the Task Force.
"More deaths are likely resulting as outreach and treatment for opioid addiction are hampered, as people avoid emergency room visits neglecting symptoms that lead to heart attacks and strokes, and as medical procedures and screenings are continuously postponed.
"We need to reopen Morris County business in a safe, phased manner, while protecting public health, providing citizens with income and hope, saving both lives and livelihoods,'' he added.
The resolution noted that there have been significant declines in new reported COVID-19 cases in Morris County, dropping from a peak of 204 to a recent daily average of 52. COVID testing demand at the county drive-thru testing center at County College of Morris CCM has declined from 320 daily to 85 per day, with positive results from those tests dropping from 43 percent to 15 percent.
In particular, the freeholders' resolution targeted the county's hospital and healthcare industries. As a result of a declining number of COVID-19 cases, the stress on hospitals and medical facilities is decreasing, providing the ability for them to return to dealing more aggressively with non-COVID-19 cases.
Reopening medical services will have three major impacts:
Saving lives and improving public health by providing delayed medical procedures and preventative screening.
Ensure that our "medical heroes'' jobs are secure.
Ensure that health services providers have the financial strength to maintain robust staffing and capabilities.
"Unneeded deaths may be occurring as hospitals have seen a significant decline in heart and stroke cases as people avoid medical facilities, including a reported drop of more than half in emergency room visits,'' the freeholder stated in the resolution.
However, with reopening comes a need to remain vigilant in dealing with the novel coronavirus, the board stated. The resolution asks all county residents to continue maintaining social distancing practices to help contain the spread of the virus.
To prepare for recovery and continue to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Freeholder Board, in coordination with county and local health officials, has initiated a countywide Contact Tracing program.
Towards that end, the freeholders approved hiring a part-time public health nurse and up to five disease control field representatives to bolster the Morris County Office of Health Management staff. Also, volunteers from the Morris County Medical Reserve Corps have signed up for the program, which reaches out to people with COVID-19 and tries to determine who have been in contact with them.
Morris County Recovery Task Force
The key objective of the Morris County Recovery Task Force is to anticipate and prepare Morris County to reopen in the most effective manner, both in terms of protecting public health and renewing business, social and religious activities.
Leaders from government, health, education, labor, social services, tourism and arts, and others will participate in an effort to gather information, share ideas and develop strategies for the post-COVD-19 world in Morris County, in conjunction with state and federal governments.
County Annual 4-H Fair Cancelled Due To Covid-19
As some may have heard Rutgers University has decided, due to the COVID-19 situation, to restrict all in-person activities into the summer months.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension, which governs all 4-H programs throughout the state falls and which falls under the directive of Rutgers University, as well as all of in-person programs AT Morris County 4-H have been suspended through Aug. 31.
Unfortunately, this means the annual Morris County 4-H Fair in Chubb Park (in Chester Township) this summer will not be held.
“The Morris County 4-H Association values your support and commitment that have made our Fair a success for so many years,” says CJ Sinko, president of the Morris County 4-H Board of Directors.
“We recognize the importance of the Fair, as a place for our 4-H members to showcase their work, build community connections, and serve as a fun, family event for our members, volunteers, and Morris County families,” he said.
“Together with the 4-H program officials, who are collaborating with other 4-H county offices and the state, we are working on innovative ways to move many aspects of the Fair to a virtual platform this year.”
Additionally, there are plans for in-person Morris County 4-H Fairs when possible in the future. Stay tuned for more details.
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.
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.”
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 shit 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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