Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
Mt. Olive Online Publication December 28 2020
MO Superintendent Presents Reentry Plan On NJ Gov. Briefing
By Cheryl Conway
Mt. Olive Middle School eighth graders and their families made the most of graduation last week by decorating their vehicles, beeping horns, flying balloons, blowing bubbles and waving to their teachers in their farewell to middle school.
A drive by celebration was held at MOMS between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, followed by picture taking at photo booths at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake and a video emailed to all families at 7:30 p.m. Graduates and their families parked their decorated vehicles in the rear lot and then walked around taking pictures and catching up with friends.
Dressed in their red graduation gowns, many students and their family members wore masks and tried to maintain social distancing in their last hurrah before entering high school in the fall. Details of the measures that will be enforced in Mt. Olive, after the New Jersey State Department of Education shared their reopening guidelines with school districts last Friday, will be shared on Aug. 1, according to Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki.
Proactive compared to other school districts -such as its preparedness plan before the schools’ shut down for virtual learning- and more recently with its reentry plan- Zywicki was spotlighted on Friday’s daily briefing with N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy.
Murphy says Mt. Olive’s plan is a “real live example on what you all should expect out there in your own respective districts.”
Zywicki details the district’s reentry plan with all listeners.
In early May the Mt. Olive learning community came together to examine guidelines from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, Zywicki tells all listeners.
He formulated a 50-member stakeholder committee consisting of Mt. Olive Board Of Education members, teachers, nurses, counselors, principals, school administrators, custodians, bus drivers and administrative assistants.
The committee examined guidelines of the CDC, explored international models from countries who have already returned to school and dove into plans released by other states, he says.
“The notion the return to school is ultimately a health care decision that is out of our hands but we have to design educational solutions in response to those healthcare realities,” he says during the briefing.
Zywicki discusses the four options for return to school in September.
First option, he calls, September 2019- traditional school day, school year with no major adjustments or school distancing. “We now know the state health reality will not allow this option,” he says.
Option two: Physical return to buildings with stringent social distancing…facial coverings, redesign of lunch, physical education and bus transportation
Option three: Hybrid schedule split a.m./p.m. sessions or alternating days with some in school and some virtually.
Option four: Continue with Virtual learning but with enhancements.
He tells how five subgroups were established under each option to look at each through lenses that include: Operations & Governance, Personnel, Finance, Physical & Mental Health and Personalized Learning.
The committee then shared plans with members of the BOE, parents, Mt. Olive’s Dept of Health, mayor, council, EMS, police dept. and then outside the district. Each gave feedback.
“What we accomplished in Mt. Olive can be viewed as an experiment, as to how a reentry plan can be produced by engaging frontline education professionals, parents and community members,” says Zywicki.
After reviewing the minimal standards required by the DOE, Zywicki says the plan is “reasonable and achievable."
After looking at the state's restart and reentry plan, Zywicki realizes the Mt. Olive School District and the State Dept. of Education reached similar conclusions on how to keep students and staff safe in the fall.
“We are confident on how we will make final determinations and what our district needs and how we will move forward in the fall,” says Zywicki. “Together we can safely restart our schools safely this September.”
Car Parade Winners
The Mt. Olive Middle School Parents Teacher Organization selected three vehicles as winners of the Graduation Parade Best Decorated Vehicle. Cars were decked out in spray paint, balloons, signs, pictures, stickers, streamers.
Students voted as having the best decorated vehicles include Erin Perrault - white truck; Hava Kurt - black truck; Hannah DeGroot - silver truck.
Burger King Gift Cards were presented to each winner.
To view the 55 minute video, go to the MOMSPTO page on Facebook. Photos of each student in their gowns were featured along with special speakers such at the MOMS Principal James Kramer, Olympian Lori Susan Jones and NY Jets Corner Back Lamar Jackson.
Congratulations to all MOMS 8th grade graduates! Best of luck in high school!!
By Cheryl Conway
It was business as usual during the last Mt. Olive Twp. Council meeting, passing resolutions, issuing a proclamation, tabling an ordinance… until the public portion was bombarded by hateful, racist remarks against people of color by at least four callers.
During the Tuesday night, June 23, Mt. Olive Township Council meeting via Zoom, four different callers spewed hate messages. Several other callers’ hands were raised, but officials did not take their calls as the names were suspicious.
These so-called Zoom bombers are being investigated by the Mt. Olive Township Police Department for their hateful threats against a group of people.
“I have heard about what happened at last night’s council meeting and the Mt. Olive Police Department is investigating the matter,” Mt. Olive Police Chief Stephen Beecher tells "Mt. Olive Online."
“The township has taken security precautions to prevent a repeat of the incident,” says Beecher. “B.A Tatarenko can speak to the efforts on the township’s behalf.”
According to Mt. Olive Township Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko, “Additional security measures are being looked into and will be in place for the next meeting.
Since COVID 19 cancelled all public meetings, the Mt. Olive Township Council has been holding its meetings via Zoom. There are currently no plans to hold in-person meetings.
“Township Council meetings will continue to be done via Zoom,” says Tatarenko. “Once we open the building to the public, I would anticipate that in-person meetings can resume. I do not have a date for that.”
Council members, who were taken by surprise by these hate remarks, were apologetic to listeners.
“You can’t help when people get on,” says Council President Joe Nicastro during the meeting. “I apologize for that; we don’t know what’s going to happen when you are on these types of calls.”
The council attempted to take more calls during the public portion but acted cautiously.
“Someone also did raise a hand but now I’m cautious to let him speak,” says Tatarenko during the meeting.
“If they don’t give their name and address when they start they are not to be permitted to speak,” says Mt. Olive Township Attorney Fred Semrau.
It is a “shame these people have to come on and make a disgrace of things,” says Nicastro. It’s really horrible, horrible.”
Councilman Greg Stewart questions Tatarenko if they could address the callers privately before taking their call but Tatarenko responds saying the chat feature is off.
Resident Shelly Morningstar chimes in suggesting that the callers email the clerk on any concerns during the public portion to end the hate remarks from being spewed.
Four callers did come through and they each threatened the lives of black people. Since the matter is being investigated, “Mt. Olive Online” did not include the names of the individuals who allegedly placed these threat calls during the meeting.
The video was also edited to omit these hateful calls before being posted on the township website.
Semrau did remind all that the meeting is being recorded and that the matter will be sent to the police to handle.
“This meeting is being recorded,” warns Semrau. “Anyone who comes on the meeting, we have the ability to investigate and track down the origins of these calls and turn it over to the police for further investigation.”
At the end of the meeting, Nicastro apologizes further.
“I would like to start…On behalf of the Administration and the Council, apologize. Not that we have any control. We’re in a new world right now experiencing all these things with online and we have people that come on, they are basically cowards and . . . make statements and hide behind things that can’t be seen or found. It’s appalling, what they said and what they do and we denounce all of that, obviously. On just behalf of everyone, I’d just like to apologize again for these interruptions that we had.”
Council Vice President Alex Roman ends the meeting by saying:
“Mt. Olive is an inclusive and tolerant community. We are so tolerant that unfortunately we do allow free speech and allow people to abuse as evidenced by the number of people who thought it was humorous to use hateful language.”
Echoing Nicastro’s sentiments, Roman apologizes “to the community that heard those comments but unfortunately those are some of the side effects of having a free society; once again demonstrates how some people find they are keyboard warriors that would rather say something anonymously then do it in person.”
Other Township News
Roman raised the issue as to whether body cameras can be worn by Mt. Olive Twp. Police officers. He says he hopes this can be included in next year’s budget. He supports the wearing of cameras since it is not only important to protect citizens but it is also important to protect police officers on false reporting.
Tatarenko responds by saying he would check with Beecher on the status of that request.
Councilwoman Colleen Labow says wearing body cameras could be an infringement on privacy issues such as domestic violence calls that police handle, especially if it involves minors.
The council also unanimously voted in favor to withdraw ordinance #13-2020 amending Chapter 169 that involves Dog and Other Animals, “because as written it would have condemned impounded animals to death simply for being older, feral, very scared, or otherwise not behaving well in the stressful pound setting,” according to the Mt. Olive Trap-Neuter-Return (MOTNR) group.
MOTNR had lobbied for 497 signatures in a petition to place a no kill ordinance on the November ballot. While they did receive enough signatures, the council has agreed to work with the MOTNR experts to come up with language that will protect these cats’ lives.
A newly revised ordinance is in the works for anticipated introduction at the next council meeting set for July 21.
Tatarenko announces that the municipal pool will tentatively open on July 3 with discounted memberships offered due to the late opening. There will also be restrictions on how many can use the pool; more details to come.
Sports groups are back on the fields with social measures being enforced in compliance with COVID 19.
He is also hoping to open the Splash Pad and Mt. Playmore once he gets further direction from the governor.
Brush On Roads
Labow brought up an issue regarding the pickup of brush during the summer months.
“This is the time of year people are piling up bushes,” says Labow.
Tatarenko responds saying the town picks up brush and clippings in spring and fall.
“It’s a staffing issue,” he says. If someone has a pile, the homeowner can call public works for pick up. Large brush, however, will not be picked up during the summer.
June Pride Month Raises Support Of All Genders In MO
By Cheryl Conway
June is coming to an end, but a proclamation passed just this week ushers in awareness, support and advocacy for all individuals regardless of sexual preference.
The Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor and Council passed a proclamation at its last board meeting, Tuesday, June 23, to proclaim the month of June 2020 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Awareness Month. On Friday, June 26, a flag raising of the LGBTQ+ flag went up at the Mt. Olive Township Municipal Building.
Mt. Olive is one of the first towns in Morris County to raise awareness and the LGBTQ+ flag and show this type of support that includes all people regardless of race, religion and sexual preference.
The flag raising and proclamation “represents, I hope, a feeling of the majority or all of the residents of Mt. Olive Twp. where we respect everyone’s rights and believe in equality regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other factor which distinguishes an individual from any other individual,” says Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum.
“We are very, very proud to be, I hope, one of the first communities in Morris County to actually raise the flag proudly on behalf of all the residents of our township in the state of New Jersey,” says Greenbaum.
Laurie Litt of Mt. Olive, CEO of Edge N.J. and Edge Pride Center in Morris Plains, presented Mt. Olive with the rainbow flag to hang on the municipal building. Established in January 2019, the Edge Pride Center is the only LGBTQ+ center in Morris County.
At the flag raising ceremony, Litt says, she is “extremely proud” of the town for “recognizing June as Pride Month and supporting the rights of the LGBTQ+ Community.”
Litt adds that she is “very excited” that Mt. Olive is “one of the first in Morris County to show this type of support” as shown by flying the rainbow flag and passing a proclamation.
Greenbaum says township officials agreed to signing the proclamation after several residents raised the issue.
“It is my understanding that June as Pride Month was established nationally by those who are looking to further educate the general population on issues involving LGBTQ matters and to foster equality under the law,” explains Greenbaum. “Several people brought this to our attention and we jumped at the opportunity to participate and support the cause.
“The township gladly signed on as we believe in all people being treated equally, sexual preference included.”
The municipal building has been lit up in rainbow colors since the flag went up. Drive by at night to check it out.
Read the Proclamation below designating June Pride Month:
Proclaiming the Month of June 2020 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning and Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Awareness Month
WHEREAS, Mount Olive Township recognizes that the pursuit of equality, respect and inclusion for all individuals is an attainable goal; and
WHEREAS, all human beings should be equal in dignity and rights and no one should live in fear or face persecution and violence due to sexual orientation or gender identity; and
WHEREAS, Mount Olive Township celebrates and encourages diversity and inclusion within our community and supports the self-affirmation, equality and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; and
WHEREAS, LGBTQ+ individuals make vital contributions to our country, including cultural, political, civic, educational and economic, among many fields; and
WHEREAS, it is essential to acknowledge that the need for education and awareness remains vital to end discrimination, biases and prejudice;
WHEREAS, Mount Olive Township calls upon residents of our community to embrace this principle and work together to foster a warm and hospitable place for all to live; and
WHEREAS, celebrating Pride Month influences awareness and provides support and advocacy for Mount Olive Township LGBTQ+ community and fosters dialogue to build understanding and acceptance and advance equal rights for all Mount Olive residents.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, I, Robert Greenbaum, Mayor of Mount Olive Township do hereby proclaim June 2020 be proclaimed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Plus (LGBTQ+) Pride Month throughout Mount Olive Township.
By Cheryl Conway
A second march this month went way past the borders of Turkey Brook Park toward a movement that calls for education, allyship and tackling “a long-standing problem.”
Temi A. of Hackettstown, organizer of last Saturday’s march, is calling for an all-encompassing school course on race; a youth community center; a site memorializing black individuals killed by police; and a town hall meeting to address race issues in Mt. Olive. The 23-year old, 2015 graduate of Mt. Olive High School led the three-hour protest on Saturday, June 20, with more than 50 attendees.
Ignited by the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year old black man arrested and killed in Minneapolis on May 25 by white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who stepped on his neck until he could not breathe, the local protests have started a movement for change in Mt. Olive.
“My ultimate goal is to turn this into an area minorities don't want to run from,” says Temi, former Budd Lake resident. “I want courses in schools, not just about slavery and racism, but about fully understanding the way race impacts marginalized people in this county. I want a community center because young people have nothing to do around here to promote bonding and unity as well.”
Temi attended the first protest earlier this month and decided a second protest was needed.
For the protest held Sunday, June 7, Temi says “I helped the girls lead chants for a large portion of it.” She says, “the turnout for people who still showed up amidst the confusion and backlash surrounding it,” gave her “the confidence to organize this one.
“I decided to hold the protest the same day I went to the first one on 6/7,” she says. “Seeing the young girls I went to school with lead and seeing all the people that were determined to have their voices heard made me hopeful but also disappointed that the lack of proper leadership affected attendance so much. I wanted to do it again and give people the platform they deserve.
“I'm hosting a second one because I feel like it deserved better and more cohesive leadership,” she explains. “It was canceled then uncanceled then canceled again. It felt like no one could stand firm behind the protest. So, I decided I would.”
Plans For Protest #2
Like the first protest, Temi chose Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake to meet.
“The march will take to the streets surrounding the park and end at the highway,” she explains prior to the event. “Turkey Brook is a park where almost everyone goes so there will be a lot of visibility there to start and test the waters of how things can go.”
She also turned to social media to spread the news about the protest.
“I've been taking to social media as it’s the easiest way to get the word out,” she says. “Facebook is the base of operations for the group, but I've also been on Twitter for younger people.”
The event was also not tied to any organizations such as Black Lives Matter. It is “Just members of the community banding together to make a difference,” she says.
She turned to Trinity, who organized the first protest, for help and others for suggestions.
“I've been taking help and suggestions from people in the group so it's been really nice,” she says, admitting “This will be my first protest on my own. I've helped organize other events and protests when I was younger, so I was able to call on assistance from other activists in N.J. and across the country.”
Regarding social distancing, which remains in affect in N.J., Temi says “My three main rules are masks or face coverings, do not bring anything that can be viewed as a weapon, and do not take any pictures or videos of protesters without their permission. I’ve seen people be put in danger for being at a protest and want to protect people's identity.”
“Regretfully, I won't be able to do much about social distancing with such a large group,” she adds. “I will ask that people use their common sense. If you feel sick, do not come. And I ask everyone get tested after.”
Most of the people who attended that last protest were from Mt. Olive and a couple from outside towns, she says.
“There were majority white marchers and the rest were Black or Latinx,” she adds. “A good age range as well, from families who brought their kids, to seniors, who walked around the park with us.”
About three hours long, she describes “We left from the park and headed towards Perishing. where we took a detour through that neighborhood. Then we walked down Woodsege and ended on the grass clearing next to the CVS so we could be seen on the highway; we stayed there for a bit before heading back to the park.”
Attendees wore t-shirts and held signs that carried powerful messages.
“Most of the signs said, ‘Black Lives Matter;’ ‘Silence is Violence.” She says she saw “a lot of people wearing shirts that said ‘Hands Up Don't Shoot.’ Some great drawings of the Black power fist as well.
“The atmosphere was wonderfully positive and high energy,” says Temi, who works in a fertility clinic. “It had started raining slightly during our route and morale never dropped. Extremely productive day.”
While she did not contact police nor any township officials, authorities were on site.
“Police were there to help with traffic,” says Temi. “I think there were about four to five cars keeping an eye on things. They had a very hands-off approach.”
In truth, they were not needed as the protest went smoothly.
“Most people showed support or didn't bother us,” says Temi. “There was a Trump Supporter antagonizing us at the end of the march, but we did a good job of drawing attention away from him and back to the route.”
Like the first march, there were “No politicians” in attendance, she says. “There was someone running for city council and a BOE member there however.”
March In Right Direction
The two protests so far in Mt. Olive are just the beginning of what the activists have in mind in their quest for change when it comes to race relations in Mt. Olive.
“I think it shows that the people of Mt. Olive are willing to put their voices out there,” says Temi. “Many of us feel silenced or uncomfortable in the community and the marchers were really happy to have a platform to be heard on. It was a good introduction of our movement here in town.”
They also had a moment of silence.
“After the march we will hold a moment of silence, one second for every person who has lost their life to police so far this year,” she says. “I decided on 88 seconds, one1 second for every person who has lost their life to police so far this year.” says Temi.
Following that, she gave her speech about “my blackness, our demands for the community, and allyship.
“I gave an overall speech about allyship and how it feels to be Black in MO and then opened up the floor for people of the community to speak,” she says, “because I want the words that come from people who live here and are impacted.
Many people echoed my concerns for the curriculum in the schools surrounding race.”
Other items on her platform are to create a memorial and to address township officials on concerns.
“We actually have a project in the works to address the mayor directly so that will be coming soon,” says Temi.
She explains: “I would also like to take the mayor to task about his comments towards the protests and lack of public condemnation regarding the threats the original organizers received for the first protest.
“To assume that a protest equals riots and looting is ignorant behavior that should be above a mayor,” says Temi. “People are not rioting because it's Tuesday. It's because a long-standing problem has gone on unaddressed and bubbled to a head. If your people are rioting, it is because you failed to hear them. This protest was framed as peaceful since the beginning and he let outside factors cloud that. I want him to address that and hold a town meeting where POC can bring their issues to him directly so he can no longer deny that it's happening.”
Remembering Black Lives
“Next I want to create a physical memorial for the Black lives lost to police violence somewhere in town,” she adds. “The memorial would be for Black lives across the U.S. I’ve seen people set memorials and paint murals across the country. It'll stand as a symbol for MO's willingness to work towards change.”
Temi has planned additional marches and projects.
“I have a couple more marches planned as well as our project to address the mayor and town council.”
As far as the project, she says, “it's to be kept low key for now but we've been gathering letters from minority students who went through the MO school system about their experiences to present a wider problem to the mayor and board of ed.”
Temi was very appreciative for all of those who came out to stand with her to stand up against these issues.
“I appreciate everyone who came out and entrusted me to lead this,” says Temi. “I lived in MO for seven years and it never felt like home. To be able to work on changing that for the generations after me means the world.”
She explains: “I hope to highlight the flaws with race in this community. The minorities talk and discuss amongst each other and simply make plans to leave and not look back, myself included. I want people to know how it feels to be a different color here. To not be fooled by the nice scenery and surface level friendliness. I want people to know that there is a problem.”
She concludes, “This will be the first of many projects I plan to hold so keep an eye out for what comes next!”
By Cheryl Conway
Individuals from diverse backgrounds who gathered for a vigil earlier this week have taken a step toward healing and unity amidst the pain of racism.
Organized by the Mt. Olive Clergy Association, the "Vigil for Healing through Confession and Commitment, was held at 7 p.m., Monday, June 22, at Flanders Park. About 45 people, elementary aged to senior citizens, attended, including clergy and members from eight faith communities as well as other members of the Greater Mt. Olive Community.
While protests continue throughout the country as a cry to end racism, people of different religions gathered peacefully for 45 minutes to share stories and the sting felt by racism.
“The purpose of the event as a whole was a call for healing that acknowledges the realities of racism and the hurt it causes, so that we can learn from them and move forward in greater care and unity,” explains Pastor Serena Rice of Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Budd Lake, MOCA member who spoke at the vigil.
“Our goal was to gather folks from multiple perspectives and lean into hope together, and I believe that happened,” says Rice.
Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker of Temple Hatikvah in Flanders, 2020 MOCA president, said the vigil was organized by MOCA in response to calls for action by local youth early in June.
“Our choice was to steer the vigil in the direction of moderation and reconciliation, and to go through all the proper channels to clear the event and get permission from the township,” says Zucker. “We held several planning meetings in order to cross all of our "T"s and dot all of the "I"s. The original idea came from Pastor Serena Rice, but the final program was worked out by the group with a lot of advice and input from Pastor Matt Jones.”
Zucker welcomed the attendees and Pastor Matt Jones of Mountain Top Church in Hackettstown provided an introduction.
Testimonies were then provided by Lee Rousan, former running back of the N.Y. Giants “and we each shared our own personal stories,” adds Rice, who shared a Prayer of Confession.
Rouson’s story focused on an experience of facing clear racism in childhood on a Pop Warner football team, and the way he faced it and pushed for change,” explains Rice. “I shared a more recent story of encountering my own white fragility in a professional context where I was in the minority, and the lessons I learned about the lessons I have learned from society about being encouraged to put my feelings and experiences at the center of the conversation, and the healing that comes from confessing this error and leaning into learning instead.”
Followed was a Moment of Silence in Memory of the Lives Lost; a Call to Commitment for the Healing of our Community & Nation led by Rev. Meekyung Kim, “and all in attendance raised their hands as a way to affirm their commitment to the pledge,” describes Rice.
Kim read the following pledge:
“We believe that God is the creator of all people and all are God’s children in one family;
That racism is a rejection of the teachings about the value of human lives embraced by all major religions; That racism robs all human beings of their wholeness and is used as a justification for social, economic and political exploitation;
That we must declare before God and before one another that we have sinned against our siblings of other races in thought, word and deed;
That in our common humanity, all people have equal and intrinsic value;
That our strength lies in our racial and cultural diversity and that we must work toward a world in which each person’s value is respected and nurtured;
That we must commit to building each other up, rather than tearing each other down;
And that our struggle for justice must be based on new attitudes, new understandings and new relationships and must be reflected in the laws, policies, structures and practices of both church and state.
As members of the human family, we commit ourselves as individuals and as a community, to struggle for the rights and the self-determination of every person and group persons in a spirit of confession, healing, and unity.”
Following the pledge, Zucker provided a scriptural passage (Amos 5: 14-15, 23-24; BT Sanhedrin 37a); followed by a message from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which included excerpts from "I Have a Dream" speech; and closing prayer by Imam Jawad Ahmed.
Organizers were hopeful that the vigil is a step toward healing, but agree this is the first of many steps that need to follow.
“I hope that the stories and prayers shared will encourage our community to move beyond the standard partisan positioning in response to the very real problems of racism in our society and model a different way of engaging: A way that rejects shame and defensiveness and trusts that we can talk about hard things in ways that promote healing and progress,” says Rice.
“No single event, or even multiple events will solve these deep-rooted challenges, but engaging them in a new way is an important first step,” she adds.
“The vigil is only the beginning of a very long process that needs to take place locally and around and throughout our nation,” agrees Zucker.
All in attendance, and anyone else interested, is invited to engage in the interfaith Brave Space project that has spun-off from MOCA.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mt. Olive High School students can dip their minds and hands into horticulture and agriculture next school year in a newly built geodome on school grounds.
The Mt. Olive High School Board of Education approved the construction of the Mt. Olive High School Geodome at the March 9 BOE meeting, as one of the district’s capital projects. The geodome was listed on the MOHS 2020-2012 budget under new projects, wish list, with an original estimated cost of $300K.
That estimated cost “came in way under,” says Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Zywicki. The dome will cost $130K and will be paid out of surplus. The Mt. Olive BOE is not seeking any state funding for this project.
The geodome will be made of glass and is a greenhouse, explains Zywicki. It will contain hydrochloric plants and will be used for academics “for students to practice horticulture and agriculture.”
It is an indoor dome that will be utilized year-round, he adds. The dome will be 3,200 sq. ft. and will allow 20 to 25 students inside at one time. It will be fully handicapped accessible and will be offered in the dual enrollment program, special education offerings under science, environment and horticulture.
Zywicki says 500 students should be able to use the dome daily with alternating schedules and classes.
An engineer on the project, Anthony Gianforcaro, presented the plans to the Mt. Olive Township Planning Board at its virtual meeting held June 18 via Zoom. He told board members the school district is proposing a geodesic structure that looks like a greenhouse.
The geodome will be used to grow plants and vegetables and will not only educate students on the process but can also feed the students at the school, says Gianforcaro.
When things are grown and ready, they’ll bring them in to share some of the vegetables they grow inside the school, he says.
The dome will also include an aquaponics set up to raise fish and plants at the same time. It will allow for the growth of 1,350 to 2,000 heads of lettuce and 1,500 pound of fish each year.
Dimensions are 42 ft. in diameter, 60 ft. from the edge of the high school building, 115 ft. back from the sidewalk and 16 ft. off the ground, explains Gianforcaro.
“It’s a pre-manufactured building,” explains Gianforcaro, who anticipated that it will be installed before school begins in September. The dome will be assembled on site; comes with a big puzzle with everything prenumbered.
There will be two doors for entry and exit to the dome. Five lights will be on the inside and will be lit only when students are inside. There will be running water and two circuits of electricity, using less than 10 amps, and will have solar fans to cool the unit in summer months.
On the inside will be a tub of water. When the sun comes in, the water will get heated, for a controlled climate. In the spring and fall, the dome will maintain some temperature so plenty of fish can grow.
Regarding security, Zywicki says the geodome will be secured the same way as the athletic dome is secured, with a locking door system, as well as video surveillance.
Residents Urged To Retire Old Glory With Respect
As Independence Day approaches, when the American flag will be widely displayed across the county, it's a good time to think about what to with old and tattered flags, and how to properly dispose of or retire them.
According to veterans' organizations, when an American flag becomes worn, faded, torn or soiled, it should be retired and replaced with a new flag. It is illegal to throw away the American Flag and the Flag Codes state that it should be destroyed with “with dignity, preferably by burning.”
There are several ways to respectfully dispose of an American flag. The most common method is burning the torn or tattered flag in a special ceremony.
This is best done by taking your old flag to one of Morris County’s many American Legion or VFW posts, where veterans and members may then hold a ceremony as they properly retire/dispose of it.
“The Freeholder Board is appreciative of this process for honorably retiring American flags,'' said Freeholder John Krickus. "As a Marine veteran, like all veterans, we served and sacrificed for our fellow Americans, and some gave their lives for their country so that we can enjoy the freedoms which the flag represents.”
Morris County residents have the option of bringing worn out flags to four collection boxes created by Chatham Township Eagle Scout Collin Goldbach and maintained by the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority.
The goal is to make it more convenient to dispose of old and worn flags. The red boxes are located at:
Morristown: Morris County Administration and Records Building, 10 Court Street, Morristown (inside the main lobby).
Mount Olive: MCMUA Mt. Olive Transfer Station, 168 Gold Mine Road, Flanders.
Parsippany: MCMUA Parsippany-Troy Hills Transfer Station, 1100 Edwards Road, Parsippany.
Dover: MCMUA Curbside Recycling Building (Dover Armory Garage), 479 West Clinton Street (Route 15), Dover.
In 2018, Goldbach, in coordination with the Morris County MUA, designed and built the bright red American Flag disposal boxes to call attention to proper methods of discarding worn Stars n’ Stripes. The program is managed by MCMUA Assistant Operations Manager Michael Nunn, a U.S. Marine and former Morris County Sheriff’s Officer.
For more information on flag disposal, check out the following sites:
Library Goes Virtual For Kids
Virtual Storytime: Do your kids miss Storytime and coming to the library? Tune in Monday through Friday to see all of the Children's Room Librarians reading stories on Facebook and Instagram.
Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge: Are your kids looking for a fun challenge, that could also brighten up your home? Take part in Buzz's Spring Reading Challenge and help Buzz grow flowers all over Mt. Olive. Printable reading logs and flower coloring pages can be found online at www.mopl.org/youth.
Library 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
Library fines remain suspended through July 31. Also due dates will be spread out throughout August to prevent everything being due back at one time.
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: email@example.com; call 973-691-8686 ext.106.
County Library Starts Curbside Pick-Up
The Morris County Library began curbside pick-up service for books, music and other library materials starting on Tuesday, June 23, as permitted by the state's relaxation of COVID-19 rules for all libraries in New Jersey.
Patrons will not be allowed to enter the County Library, as the state is allowing only pick/drop-off services at this time via contactless curbside delivery at a library.
Patrons are asked to wear face coverings and employ social distancing when visiting the library, where employees also will greet you with face coverings.
Important: The county library will not offer inter-library loans or services at this time. That state delivery service is not currently operating and may not be back in service for some months. Therefore, patrons can only pick-up and drop-off materials from the County Library located in Hanover Township at this time.
Municipal Libraries: Municipal libraries across Morris County have differing circumstance and rules regarding the re-start of library services. Visit the websites of municipal or local libraries to find out if and how they are operating curbside services.
"We are very excited to offer curbside service at the Morris County Library starting on Tuesday,'' said Morris County Library Director Darren O'Neill. "As this is a new process for all of us – staff and patrons – please let us know how we’re doing. Our goal is to provide the best possible service to you given the circumstances,’’ added O'Neill, who offered some instructions to guide you through the process.
Select Morris County Library as the pickup location. Due to the lack of statewide delivery service until further notice, no items may be shipped to other libraries; nor will another library’s material shipped to the county branch.
At any time the library is open, call the Circulation Desk at 973-285-6930 to request that an item be placed on hold.
Starting Tuesday, June 23, the library hours will be adjusted to the following:
Tuesday and Wednesday - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday - 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday and Monday -- Closed
Basic Rules of Curbside library operation:
Requested materials will be placed on hold for one week, and then returned back into circulation.
When requests are processed, patrons will get automatic notification via phone, email or text. Library staff will call to provide a phone number for the Circulation Desk and basic information about curbside pickup.
Patrons are asked to call the Circulation Desk at least 30 minutes prior to arriving to give staff adequate time to get prepare items for contactless pickup, placed in the car trunk.
Upon arrival, call the Circulation Desk at 973.285.6930.
Follow signs directing to the area where materials can be delivered. Governor's Office specified patrons must remain in vehicles.
If call is not in advance, there will be delays in getting materials. Calling will definitely expedite the process.
For returns, use the book drops only. Materials are pulled from the book drops daily and quarantined for 72 hours before discharging and re-shelving to ensure safe handling.
The Morris County Library is located in Hanover Township.
Cat Itsy Needs A Home
Itsy's a young adult as mysterious as she is beautiful. She showed up at a feral colony already spayed and ear tipped but isn't feral and can't live outside because her fur mats without grooming. She prefers four-feet on the ground and allows petting only while engaged in her favorite activity- eating treats. If you have treats, Itsy's there! And when the treats are gone, so's Itsy! She's good with other cats and might be willing to forgo human company entirely if other cats could open her treat bags, but alas she needs someone with opposable thumbs. If you're experienced with cats, have a cat who needs a friend, and would like a socializing project to get you through COVID (and you order cat treats in bulk!), Itsy would like to join you in isolation.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Morris County will close its COVID-19 drive-thru testing center at County College of Morris in Randolph at the end of next week, with the last scheduled day of free testing set for Friday, June 26.
The center, which was operated in coordination with Atlantic Health Systems, is closing because many other test providers are now available, including numerous urgent care facilities and pharmacies across the county offering nasal swab and saliva tests.
"We are indebted to all of the agencies and volunteers that came together to operate this testing center during the height of the COVID-19 crisis in our county,'' said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.
"They acted with incredible professionalism, treating our residents with great care during a very trying time for all of us. On behalf of all county residents, we thank them,'' she said.
“The skills and organizational powers of the partners in this effort made creation of the testing site a successful response to help residents who were affected by the devastating virus,” said Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon.
“Its ultimate success hinged on all the partners communicating seamlessly, rapidly resolving any issues, and caring about the physical and emotional toll on clients who used the site.”
The county testing site opened on March 30 to help deal with a crush of people who needed COVID tests and who had flooded hospitals and medical facilities to get testing.
Those facilities, at that time, were overwhelmed with treating COVID cases, and also had a severe shortage of testing supplies and personal protective equipment. The county stepped in to help deal with the health emergency situation.
In the nearly three months of operation, the CCM site provided nasal swab tests to more than 7,000 people.
When testing started, there was a 43 percent positive rate among residents with symptoms and prescriptions who were tested at the county center. Those positive numbers have now dropped dramatically, with positive results for the past few weeks at less than 1 percent of those tested.
County residents now can get tested at a variety of sites in Morris County that are providing the Swab Test (SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR), which is the “gold standard” test to determine if some has COVID-19. There also are other locations in the county now offering the swab and/or saliva test.
Residents are strongly encouraged to first speak with their primary healthcare provider prior to being tested.
The following agencies have been integral to the CCM test center operation: Morris County Office of Health Management, Atlantic Health Systems, Morris County Medical Reserve Corps (all volunteers), Morris County Office of Emergency Management, Morris County Public Safety Academy staff, Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Morris County Park Police, and County College of Morris.
In 2019, the “Project Yellowstone” team at County College of Morris (CCM), from left, Dr. Michelle Iden, Professor Samantha Gigliotti, Dr. Maria Isaza, and Professor John Soltes traveled to Yellowstone National Park for an exploratory and education trip. Photo by Project Yellowstone at County College of Morris.
“Project Yellowstone,” an academic interdisciplinary program at County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph was one of 82 organizations statewide to receive a New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) COVID-19 Response Grant.
The award-winning “Project Yellowstone” is part of a CCM Community and Civic Engagement initiative that offers high-impact, interdisciplinary programs.
“Project Yellowstone” brings together the academic disciplines of history, journalism, and biology to enhance student learning and community engagement. Programs offered on and off campus focus on environmental history and conservation via the lens of the National Park system and has served over 500 students each year.
“This NJCH grant means ‘Project Yellowstone’ will be able to continue with programming that allows for student and community engagement of the public humanities at a critical time,” said Dr. Michelle Iden, History and Political Science Department and “Project Yellowstone” faculty member at CCM.
Three years ago Iden, Professor Samantha Gigliotti, biology and chemistry, Dr. Maria Isaza, biology and chemistry, and Professor John Soltes, communication, developed and implemented “Project Yellowstone.” For the past two years, they have traveled to Yellowstone National Park to create greater awareness about conservation and protected lands and to share their experiences with CCM students and the public. In October 2020, the team had scheduled an experience of a lifetime for six CCM students for an educational and exploratory trip to Yellowstone National Park. Due to COVID-19, the educational trip was indefinitely postponed. They are hoping to travel to the National Park in May 2021.
"This award is a testament to the quality of the program and the hard work of a very creative group of faculty,” said John Marlin, vice president of Academic Affairs at CCM.
“Students are learning about the natural environment from several perspectives and coming to understand how different academic disciplines work together.”
According to NJCH, CARES Act funding, allocated through the NEH, allowed NJCH to build a brand new COVID-19 Response Grant program. Funds were made available as operational and programmatic support for nonprofit organizations that provide humanities programming to public audiences and who are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NJCH grant will help “Project Yellowstone” programming scheduled for Fall Semester 2020 and Spring Semester 2021. In September, a guided tour of the Great Swamp in Morristown will be given by Professor Samantha Gigliotti via a video-conferencing tool. A public book discussion of John Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” will occur in October. Dr. Shane Doyle, Native American Scholar and member of the Crow nation will give a public zoom presentation. Rounding out the Fall Semester programming will be a faculty and staff book discussion of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”
Complete details of other “Project Yellowstone” programming will be forthcoming when adjustments are decided upon corresponding to the pandemic.
Centenary University in Hackettstown has announced that it will reopen for the fall semester guided by a flexible plan combining on-ground, online, and blended course options that maximize social distancing and safety.
Centenary’s plan complies with guidelines recently announced by the New Jersey Office of Higher Education. A multidisciplinary team at the University considered every aspect of on-campus and virtual operations to develop a roadmap for the fall semester that prepares for various contingencies that could arise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop.
University President Dr. Bruce Murphy said the team’s top considerations were maintaining academic excellence, safety, and agility to respond to new developments.
“We developed this plan over the past two months, placing a high priority on the safe return of our students to campus for the fall semester,” Murphy explained. “Like all colleges and universities around the nation, Centenary is adjusting to a ‘new normal’ following this spring’s COVID-19 outbreak. As a small university, we are uniquely positioned to respond with agility to developing situations, ensuring that our students continue to receive a superior education.”
The semester will begin as originally planned on campus on Monday, Aug. 31, and will continue in person through Wednesday, Nov. 25, when students leave for Thanksgiving break. The final weeks of the semester will continue online, although exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for students who need access to campus to complete their coursework or for student-athletes who are in season.
While students will return to campus as scheduled, hybrid courses combining in-person and virtual classes will be utilized as much as possible to reduce population density on campus. Students who are not comfortable returning to in-person classes will have the option of taking all courses remotely for the fall semester.
The University’s plan for fall includes new guidelines to promote social distancing on campus, including in classrooms, residence halls, and dining halls, as well as responsible hygiene practices such as proper handwashing. Social distancing will be introduced to student activities as much as possible to enhance student safety. Centenary will continue to follow guidance for intercollegiate athletics from the NCAA and the Colonial States Athletics Conference (CSAC). Competitions will commence when it is deemed safe by these two entities, as well as the governor of New Jersey.
“We anticipate that the COVID-19 situation will continue to evolve, and Centenary University will be prepared for every contingency,” Murphy said. “All decisions will continue to be made for the safety and academic benefit of our students.”
Submitted by Diane Lang, positive living expert, life coach, speaker.
Many of us are struggling to stay focused and get our work done. Working and going to school from home is a big change for most of us. There are many distractions at home, and we need to be more mindful of our time management. The better we use our time, the more productive we will be, less stress, less procrastination, less mistakes, the more goals you will accomplish and the more control you will have in your life.
Here are 5 ways to be more productive:
1. Write your to-do list at night: Get it out of your head so you can sleep. If not, your schedule will ruminate in your head and cause issues falling or staying asleep. I keep a pad and pen next to my bed and write my list out before bed which is also extremely helpful in the morning.
2. Balance: set your time for work and then unplug. If you're working from home, set an alarm to signify the end of the day, lunch and any other breaks. What are you doing with your time off? Are you having fun? Flow? Spending quality time with people who lift you up?
3. Do not try to work longer hours instead work smarter. When I had my first job in healthcare back in the early 2000's, we always had two breaks. One in the morning and one in the afternoon for about 10 minutes which was enough time to refuel and reboot. Work for either 30 mins with a 5-minute break or 60 minutes with a 10-minute break. Know yourself and how long you can work at home before you get distracted or start losing focus and concentration. These quick breaks are a perfect time for a mindfulness activity like stretching, deep breathing, closing your eyes and relaxing, quick meditation, muscle tension relaxation, sitting in nature, etc. Whatever you do, take your eyes off the computer.
4. Prepare/plan for distractions – silence your phone, only check email 2 or 3 times a day at specific times, take social media off your phone, tablet, close the door if family tends to come and visit all the time, etc. This can be harder now working from home. Be mindful of how much time you spend checking emails or scrolling on social media. Delegate tasks you do not like to do or are not your strengths. If your time could be better used at a different task, then it is a sign to delegate or hire out.
5. Procrastination is not a sign of weakness, but it is a sign that something is going on. With the pandemic and all the uncertainty most of us are more stressed than ever before. If you're procrastinating, ask yourself is it: Fear of failure? success? stressed out or feeling overwhelmed? pandemic burnout? family burnout?
Think of consequences of procrastination:
Health – stress, insomnia, lowers immune system
The best way through fear is action.
Break the work into small actionable steps
Ask for help
Think about obstacles
Mindfulness/meditation – helps us to be in the moment and reduce stress
6. With all the changes going on due to the pandemic, we need to check in with ourselves and re-evaluate our goals. Try to check in weekly with these questions:
What is working?
What did I accomplish?
What areas need improvement?
What goals should I commit to for next week?
What am I wasting time on?
What is not working for me?
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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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