Though there is light at the end of the tunnel, New Jersey was and continues to be one of the states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, after ten long months of personal and commercial restrictions, we experienced our highest weekly case totals since the pandemic began, an auspicious start to the New Year.
The response, meanwhile, has been a mix of individual successes and continued delays. Morris County is showing what success looks like, thanks to the leadership of the Morris County Commissioners who, in partnership with Atlantic Health, quickly opened the Morris County Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Center at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall. This mega site – a bright, modern facility staffed by professionals – is a welcome, tangible sign of progress. And it opened just as many more people became eligible for the vaccine. Now, any New Jerseyan over the age of 65 and those with pre-existing medical conditions join healthcare workers, long term care facility staff and residents, and first responders on the list of those who can access the vaccine.
There are, however, still delays in obtaining enough vaccines to administer. While more than 4 million New Jerseyans are now eligible to receive the vaccine, they are competing for fewer than 200,000 available doses – a tremendous disparity that threatens new-found feelings of hope.
The solution over the next few weeks is better integration into the healthcare supply chain. This started last week with the availability of vaccines at CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies, but should expand to other New Jersey pharmacies and major healthcare distributors. I encourage our state officials to lean on this healthcare supply chain and existing infrastructure to get communities their needed vaccine doses. These healthcare experts have experience administering mass vaccinations and supporting our communities in times of need.
We need more shots directly in the arms of people across Morris County, New Jersey, and the country, and the healthcare supply chain can help us do that.
It's a New Year and the start of a new term on the Chester Township Council. Lauren and I are so grateful to Assemblywoman Aura Dunn for not only taking time out of New Years Day to administer the oath, but also for so earnestly speaking with our daughters about leadership and so convincingly reminding them that girls (and boys) can do anything they set their mind to.
Note: this was a small event with only family present. We wore masks the entire time, save for these quick photos.
We have a new ordinance in town that should make the process for securing a zoning permit more cost-efficient. It reads: if any application [...] is denied by the Zoning Officer, the Applicant and Zoning Officer are to confer and discuss the basis of the denial. If the Applicant amends or corrects any application for the same permit being sought, such re-submission to the Zoning Officer shall not result in the payment of another application fee.
The idea here is to foster dialogue and cooperation between residents and the Zoning Office. So give it a try, get your permit applications in, and pursue opportunities to improve your home or property.
Check out this excellent video from Turpin Realtors on what makes the Chesters such a unique community in New Jersey.
Thank you also to Chester Girl Scout Troop 97372 for visiting Town Hall in pursuit of the Democracy badge. It was a lot of fund fielding questions on bears, playgrounds, voting, taxes, hurt feelings if people don’t vote for you, roadkill, the president, and more bears.
Thank you for placing your trust in me to serve another term on the Chester Township Council. To have earned the votes of so many friends and neighbors is truly humbling. I'm committed to using what I've learned over the last three years to deliver even more for Chester Township residents - in cost savings, quality services, and bold thinking.
If you received your mail-in ballot this week, you might have noticed that I am running for re-election to the Chester Township Council without an opponent. What a difference three years makes!
Despite being unopposed, I'm still running hard on behalf of some terrific running mates. And I still think you deserve a few reasons to affirmatively vote for me. Here's why I'm asking for your vote:
Chester Township's financial position is solid. As the Council's liaison to our Finance office for two years, I was proud to:
It was our pleasure to host Senator Tom Kean, Senator Anthony M. Bucco, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn & Freeholder Tayfun Selen for an opportunity to meet and hear from Chester voters. Thanks, everyone, for a fun, safe, and informative evening.
For a campaign season like no other, it was also great to join my Council running-mate Joe DiPaolo, who in his time on the Council has provided extraordinary insights and value.
Earlier this week, Moody's Investor Services assigned an Aa1 rating to Chester Township due to what it describes as our "healthy finances, modest leverage, and well above-average resident wealth and income." Moody's went on to say that: "[Chester Township's] management has a history of conservative budgeting as seen in its recent strong financial performance. They have a formal policy to maintain a minimum fund balance of 10%, which they have comfortably exceeded for years."
Thanks to this Aa1 rating, the cost for Chester Township to go out to bond is quite low (particularly in this low interest rate environment) and we are able to responsibly spread out the cost of major capital projects.
Observer-Tribune: The Township Council approved a new municipal court administrator during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The new court administrator, Ingrid O’Connor, the current deputy court administrator, will take over from Susan Travis who will serve her last day on Thursday, Sept. 17.
O’Connor was approved 5-0 with Mayor Marcia Asdal and Councilmen Tim Drag, Michael Inganamort, Joe Di Paolo and Brian Curley voting in approval. She will earn an annual salary of $75,283. O’Connor was involved in the expansion of the Chester Township court to include Mendham Township a few years back, according to Inganamort who serves as council liaison to the court.
“She was integral to the more recent expansion to include Chester Borough,’’ Inganamort stated. “She also has experience in other parts of the township government, including as an assistant to the township administrator and technical assistant to the township construction official.’’
Since the pandemic erupted in March, the court, which is shared among the three municipalities, has been held virtually. During the last court date on Aug. 20, there were 70 cases heard with 67 resolved virtually and the rest were plea by mail. It is presided by Judge Glenn T. Gavan.