The Jefferson Township Council passed the 2017 municipal budget at its April 19 meeting. Some highlights from the budget are various capital improvements such as providing more equipment for the fire department and public works officials, improvements to the police management desk, and paving Milton Road. Click here for a detailed budget.
Other items covered at the meeting included presentations for National Autism Awareness Month, Parents Who Host Lose the Most and Alcohol Awareness Month, and the Jefferson Township Municipal Alliance Committee.
In honor of National Autism Awareness Month, a proclamation was read, recognizing that one in 68 people in the US are somewhere on the autism spectrum, but with early detection and treatment, anyone with autism can lead great lives. The town dedicated itself to educating the public on the effects of autism for the month of April as well as year round.
Peter Fifoot, a junior at the Jefferson Township High School, accepted this proclamation on behalf of all people with autism. He considered this a great honor and thanked the town for its support for those with autism. He explained how autism was once seen as something bad and those who had it were sent to insane asylums, but society’s reaction to the condition and those who have it is one of understanding. It is now seen as a roadblock for development, but with enough help and support, it can be overcome.
In addition to National Autism Awareness Month, Parents Who Host Lose the Most and Alcohol Awareness Month was established for the month of April as well. In honor of this proclamation, the Council recognized the Jefferson Township Municipal Alliance Committee. This committee was organized by adult leaders and led by respectable students. The committee reaches out to the students’ peers and talks to them about the effects of alcohol and how it could lead to drugs and other promiscuous behavior. They warn parents who provide drinks for minors that it is not only dangerous but illegal.
The Lake Hopatcong Foundation made a presentation to the Council to update them on their initiatives. They first addressed the community’s complaints regarding weeds and safety. To address the weed problem, the foundation is looking into different techniques to pull the weeds out and keep them out for longer periods of time. They are currently looking into hydro raking, which would pull out the weeds from their root, and they’re starting trials at Brights Cove for eight work days, starting on April 24th.
Addressing safety issues, they discussed their dock numbering program to make it easier for boats to be located in an emergency. About one third of houses on the lake participated in this voluntary program. The foundation invested money into police patrols on the lake on Friday and Saturday nights.
Other programs the foundation is working on include the water scout program, which is a completely volunteer-based group that keeps a lookout for invasive species. They run educational programs for middle and high school students as well to teach them about invasive species. The foundation is also working on a Lake Hopatcong trail that will run about 40 miles in total around the lake in every town. They are working on expanding their floating classroom program to students from first through eighth grade as well. The program is currently only open to fourth grade students from Stanlick School to teach them about the lake.
It came to the Council’s attention that there is an increasing issue with air hub rentals, particularly near lake communities. Not only did a member of the Lake Hopatcong community speak out about the danger of these rentals, but it has become a parking issue as well due to limited space around the lake community. The Council looked into possible solutions to the problem and plan on addressing this issue as quickly as possible.
Before the meeting ended, Council Vice President Michael Sanchelli read his letter of resignation. He explained that he was forced to resign after retiring from the County of Morris and the Public Employee retirement system. In accordance with State and Internal Revenue laws, he has to give up his seat for 180 days, but he made it clear that he plans to run for reelection in 2018 because he loves his position on the Council. Each of the council members and Mayor Russell Felter thanked him for his service and his amazing work ethic.
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