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An Publication

Print Edition • Fall 2020 • Volume 2, Issue 4

LAST DANCE PLUS: MOMS & DADS Candlelight Walk • New Police Chief Suicide Prevention • Face Masks Retired, but not Retiring

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From the Community, For the Community




It’s the fall after one of the strangest springs and summers we’ve ever seen. After students were suddenly forced to learn from home last spring after Covid hit our country, they are still learning from home, working virtually to get an education. Teachers, parents, and students are faced with situations that they didn’t bargain for.


Print Edition • Fall 2020 Co-Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

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Co-Chief Executive Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, and Co-Founder

Christopher Bean


Chief Content Officer and Executive Editor

Sue Toth


Here’s the thing…this is difficult to navigate for students, their parents, their teachers, and school administration. None of these decisions are easy. Parents have to work, students have a tough time learning online, and teachers need to learn a whole new way of educating. The thing we all have to strive for is to do our best to support each other during these difficult times. In the meantime, check out our latest issue. You’ll also learn how the Jefferson Township Moms and Dads Facebook group came to be. This group is near and dear to our hearts here at The Chronicle, since it helped us out so much during our formation. You’ll also get to know our new police chief, Paul Castimore, and Carol Punturieri, a recently retired Jefferson employee (and Chronicle writer).

In the face of the pandemic and all the mental anguish it can cause, we also have two articles discussing suicide and how it can be prevented. Happy fall, everyone!

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Contributors to This Issue Jane Primerano, Carol Punturieri, Geoff Magliochetti, Maria Weiskott,


Kalen Luciano, Jim Dougherty,

A Community Mourns the Loss of a Little Boy . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Ulla Vinkman, Tony Haryn,

New Chief Aboard, New Building Coming . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Janet Pfeiffer, Melissa Kiritsis, Jimmy Seretis

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Jefferson Hopes ‘The Last Dance’ Is Just the Beginning . . . . 14  The Fight Against Suicide: A Youth Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Together at a Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Face Masks Adversely Affect the Hearing-Impaired and Deaf Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Retired But Not Retiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Here’s the Thing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 In Brief . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 For What It’s Worth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

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TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition Cover Photo: Celebrating another run. (photo by Ulla Vinkman)

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etting property back on the tax rolls is a priority for the township, Administrator Debra Millikin said after the Wednesday, August 12 council meeting. The township has a number of lots, most of them substandard and unbuildable, that were acquired through foreclosure over the years. Millikin received permission from council to pursue selling the properties. “It’s a pretty long list,” she said. To sell a substandard lot, the township must offer it to the adjoining property owners to merge with their lots. Often the adjoining owners split the lot between them, each acquiring more land. A few of the lots are theoretically buildable, but some are landlocked so would also only be of value to adjoining owners. Some may actually have buildable value, Millikin said.



ast September, five mothers of students with special needs met at the Jefferson Township Library to learn about SPAN, a parent advocacy network in New Jersey. SPAN works heavily in areas around Camden, Trenton and Newark, but the organization has recently been getting involved with the northwestern part of the state as well.

Working with the department of special services at Jefferson Township public schools, SPAN came to the town to help create a Special Education Parent Advisory Group, or SEPAG. Under New Jersey administrative code, every district in the state is supposed to have a SEPAG or another form of a parent advisory group.

To get involved with this work, residents can join SEPAG at its monthly meetings during the school year and follow SEPAG on Facebook. The group is open to all residents interested in supporting children with special needs, not just for parents with students with special needs. In the past, aides have come to previous meetings to learn how to improve their quality of support. Anyone with questions can message the group on Facebook or send an email at jtsepag@gmail.com.



he Jefferson Township council had been concerned about signing a new garbage contract, fearing the costs would double or triple. In a survey the council asked residents to complete, they said they didn’t want anything to change about their collection.

The only bid was from Blue Diamond Disposal, Inc., of Succasunna, the contractor that has been collecting township garbage. The company presented four alternatives. Council accepted the one that kept services closest to the same as they are now. Single-stream recycling will not continue under the new contract, which is the only change. The increase in the five-year contract will be 1.4% the first year and 3% in subsequent years. The average household that pays $269.93 annually now will pay $297.89 next year.


TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020

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CAPP Beach president and event organizer April Leaver welcoming and thanking the community for attending.

Luciano’s mother, Lynsi, thanked the community for all the love and support.

Photo by Bridget Rosario

Pastor Amanda leading those gathered in prayer.

Mayor Eric Wilsusen and Council President Kim Finnegan were present for the community.

A COMMUNITY REMEMBERS THE LOSS OF A LITTLE BOY By Ulla Vinkman (article and photos, except as noted)


ne week after the tragic loss of Luciano Carmine Franco, members of the Jefferson community gathered to encircle the family and community in love and light. The event started at the Community Association of Prospect Point (CAPP) Beach. Over 200 family members, community members, Jefferson Township fire, police, and rescue all gathered on the beach with candles in hand to remember and mourn the loss of three-year-old Luciano. Jefferson Township Mayor Eric Wilsusen and council members Jay Dunham and Kim Finnegan were also in attendance. CAPP beach President April Leaver began the program with opening remarks. Leaver said, “We gather here tonight in memory of Luciano, but also to show our community support of the family. Not just today, but in the weeks and months to follow and as long as we are needed. We hope tonight we can take a step towards healing.” Leaver then welcomed Luciano’s mother, Lynsi DeFalco, to address the community. DeFalco thanked everyone for their outpouring of love and support as they are coping with their unimaginable loss. Luciano’s father, John Franco, and many members of the extended family were in attendance to support one another. 8

Next, Pastor Amanda Rohrs-Dodge of the Hurdtown and Lake Hopatcong United Methodist Church led those gathered in prayer to help console and comfort. “We gather together as friends, neighbors, family, as community, to remember the life of one of our little ones, a child that brought joy, laughter, love, and light to all who met him. A child whose very name meant light: Luciano.” RohrsDodge remarked that there are no words that can make this tragedy go away and answered the unspoken question of what to do now. “We turn to one another with compassion and gentleness. We make space for grief, and anger, and more grief. We point to glimmers of light, beacons of hope, when all seems lost. We sigh with sighs too deep for words... and we pray.” Once the program had concluded, members began the candlelight walk around the community. The Jefferson Township Police led the walk, and the Jefferson Township Fire Company #2 followed the participants. They walked with their candles up New Jersey Avenue, turned onto Illinois Street, and then went down Schwartz Blvd. to end at the beach club. Dawn Thomas, LCSW, a local grief counselor, was available for the crowd at the event’s conclusion.

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020


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ng gue t has a h abit of oc ide]; but sts. He wrote in casion 1 it will be as a goo 843, “I really beli ally pinching the d spirit, th ev d Irving’s h at no on e that when I die errières of ome app e need b , I shall h arently h who tidy e aunt it a o fr up after uses a fe aid of.” th w more g seen by both Irvin e museum is clo h o s ts as well, sed at nig g himself includ ht. and touri sts within Other female g ing his five niec In 2010, es ho a 14-yea the hous r-old girl e and aro sts have also be writing a tou e t Ir und the apple orc n house. T ving’s desk by th ring the Dutch m hard. hey say he show e bedroom wind ansion took a pic ow, whic ed himse ture of a h lf to her Could W as a favo was his favorite ghostly figure as s r to an a after dea hington Irving ha spiring y pot in the th v oung wri Hallowee ? Was he writing e loved his life so ter. n and se the next much tha e for you chapter of a new t he wanted to c rself. o book? G Trick or o visit his ntinue it even treat? home th is [Sunnys




f you think back to when you were a child, probably the first scary story you heard was about the Headless Horseman in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. If you didn’t read the story, you might have watched Disney’s animated version or the 1999 Johnny Depp movie.

The story is set in Tarrytown, New York, and follows the life of a superstitious and very shy school teacher named Ichabod Crane. It is part love story and part ghost story, including a headless Hessian soldier who rides a black stallion while holding a fiery pumpkin and looking for his head.

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This story and others made Washington Irving the rock star of his era. To this day, people visit Sunnyside, a public museum in Tarrytown that was the home of America’s ghost writer in the early to mid-1800s. But perhaps Irving, after more than 150 years, has not yet left the premises! It seems that the author’s ghost has a habit of occasionally pinching the derrières of female touring guests. He wrote in 1843, “I really believe that when I die, I shall haunt it [Sunnyside]; but it will be as a good spirit, that no one need be afraid of.” Irving’s home apparently houses a few more ghosts as well, including his five nieces who tidy up after the museum is closed at night. Other female ghosts have also been seen by both Irving himself and tourists within the house and around the apple orchard.




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In 2010, a 14-year-old girl touring the Dutch mansion took a picture of a ghostly figure writing at Irving’s desk by the bedroom window, which was his favorite spot in the house. They say he showed himself to her as a favor to an aspiring young writer. Could Washington Irving have loved his life so much that he wanted to continue it even after death? Was he writing the next chapter of a new book? Go visit his home this Halloween and see for yourself.

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TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020


NEW CHIEF ABOARD, NEW BUILDING COMING By Jane Primerano (story and photo)


olice Chief Paul Castimore promises he’s not going anywhere. That’s an important statement, considering the last three chiefs of the department haven’t remained in the job very long. Castimore, a 26-year veteran of the department, is planning on serving several more years. Besides stability, Castimore also promises to bring the department its long-awaited building addition. An addition to the building has been discussed for 20 years, about half the time the department has shared the Weldon Road facility with the municipal offices. Increased personnel and equipment as well as updated technology have resulted in a shortage of space. The addition will include a procedure room which will bring the fingerprint and breathalyzer stations out of a hallway. It will also include lockers that are big enough to hold all the equipment officers need, including bullet proof vests, which are now stored separately. The new locker room will fit 46 lockers, which Castimore believes will be plenty for 25 more years. It will also move his locker out of his office and into the locker room, he noted. The department had 30 officers around the time the building was built and increased during the late 1980s and early 1990s to its current total of 37. Also included will be a 12’x12’ meeting room so the department doesn’t have to present training in the council chambers.

THE TOWER The communications tower will be removed to make room for the addition, Castimore said. “That part is critical,” he said. “We can’t turn it off.” He said a new tower will be constructed and turned on before the existing tower is taken down. All emergency communications in the township go through that tower. Council has approved the budget for the addition, which the chief hopes can be started in March 2021. That depends on the availability of construction material. Lumber has been in short supply during the Covid-19 crisis. Besides the locker, the chief ’s office is a little bare because Castimore has been too busy for decorating since taking the oath on June 24. Meeting with council and finalizing addition plans took time and energy and then the township encountered Tropical Storm Isaias. Downed trees promptly cut off power to several sections of the township. Significantly, all traffic signals were out in the Route 15 corridor, which sees 33,000 cars a day in each direction. In addition the Chincopee area and the “state” streets in Prospect Point were without power, as was Jefferson Chase with its many senior

citizens. Officers checked on vulnerable people when they could, but the chief said he really hopes more people will sign up for RAVE, the township’s emergency notification system. Of course, the department is still dealing with the repercussions of Covid-19. Domestic violence calls were actually lower in March 2020 than in March 2019 and have been only slightly higher in the ensuing months, Castimore said, with July topping out at 14 calls. Police departments of every size were ready for steeper increases in domestic violence during the quarantine. What has increased are noise complaints, as people have house parties in lieu of going out, Castimore said. Like many departments, Jefferson has also found an increase in speeding, which the police are combating with patrols and speed signs. The chief is happy with the installation of vehicle cameras and with the fact the department’s second female officer is now at the police academy. He is working on a 10-year plan for the department that takes into account the realities of today’s policing in areas from equipment to training and beyond, while making sure the department “lives within our means.” The department’s gas masks will need replacing because the rubber seals deteriorate with age, he noted, estimating about $10,000 will be needed for that.

TRAINING He’s also anticipating the state Attorney General will mandate some new training for officers, especially use of force training. He explains the department hasn’t had any use of force complaints and citizen complaints in general are way down. He said during the recent “teach-in” at the municipal building, residents said, “you guys treat us very well.” Castimore is a proponent of letting the public know what the department is doing, not just arrests, but services the officers perform. The new chief came up through the community service side of the department: DARE officer, school resource officer, services sergeant, and administrative lieutenant before his promotion to captain and he believes in stressing that aspect of police work. A Sparta native, Castimore has lived in Jefferson for 25 years. “We made Jefferson home,” he said of himself, his wife, and two children. He made the department home as well, starting as a part-time dispatcher, moving to full-time and then attending the police academy. “I worked under great leaders with great direction,” he said, noting he got into community services through Mayor Eric Wilsusen, with whom he has a good working relationship.

From the Community, For the Community


J-TOWN TIDBITS By Carol Punturieri



ou can save someone’s life by becoming an organ or tissue donor. Across the United States alone, there are 110,000 people who are waiting for transplants to save their life; and nearly 4,000 are residents of New Jersey. Every 10 minutes, another person is added to a transplant waiting list; and each day, 22 people on the transplant waiting list die. If you donated an organ, you could save up to 8 lives.  If you donated your corneas, you could restore sight to 2 people. If you donated your tissue, you could heal the lives of 75 people.  People of all ages and medical histories can be potential organ and tissue donors (anyone under the age of 18 would need parental consent). Your medical condition at the time of death determines what organs and tissues can be donated. A national system matches an organ donation registry to a transplant waiting list based on body size, blood type, severity of illness, donor distance, tissue type, and time on the list and never on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, race, income, celebrity or social status. According to DonateLife.net, “...all major religions in the United States support organ, eye, and tissue donation as an act of compassion and generosity.”  Organ donation does not transgress the beliefs of Catholicism, Islam, or most branches of Judaism and Protestantism. However, a potential donor who may be conflicted should talk to his religious counselor. Being an organ donor does not change a patient’s care, and medical professionals are required by law to do everything possible to save a patient’s life. Only after all life-saving efforts have failed, donation is an option when a patient is declared both clinically and legally dead. The Mayo Clinic explains that “...people who are organ donors undergo more tests to confirm their death than non-organ donors.” A donor’s family or estate is not responsible for any of the costs associated with the organ donation, and the donor family pays only the medical costs associated with the donor’s death and funeral costs. An open casket funeral viewing is still possible after organs are donated because the body is treated with care and respect throughout the entire procedure. To give the gift of life is a very personal decision requiring thought and inner reflection. If it is your ultimate decision to change the course of someone’s life upon your death as a final act of kindness, register now at www.DonateLifeNJ. org - a partnership between the Gift of Life Donor Program


(in southern NJ) and the Sharing Network (in northern and central NJ). You can also sign up to be an organ donor by checking the appropriate box on your driver’s license renewal paperwork or fill out a form at https://www.organdonor. gov/register.html.



he Lake Hopatcong Foundation (LHF) is seeking volunteers to become water scouts in an effort to fight the spread of invasive aquatic species that threaten Lake Hopatcong. Interested individuals would learn how to identify invasive plants and animals, take a photograph, note and mark the location, save a specimen, and report it to info@lakehopatcongfoundation.org immediately. Invasive, non-native plants and animals can cause significant environmental and economic damage and are oftentimes referred to as “aquatic hitchhikers” attaching themselves to boats, trailers, fishing gear, etc. as they travel between water bodies. Water chestnuts, zebra mussels, fanworth, and spiny water fleas are examples. While native plants are important to the health of the lake, these invasive aquatic species can easily overtake the native plants, affect the population of fish in the lake, and affect recreational lake activities.  For information about volunteer opportunities, contact the Lake Hopatcong Foundation at volunteer@ lakehopatcongfoundation.org. According to www.ProtectYourWaters.net, those who boat and enjoy recreational opportunities  on Lake Hopatcong as well as other bodies of water should educate themselves on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! has become a national campaign to help recreational water users become part of the solution in helping to prevent and slow the spread of invasive species.  Recreational boating, angling, waterfowl hunting, and diving may spread these species by attaching to boats while others can become tangled on propellers, anchor lines, or boat trailers. It has been found that many species can survive in bilge water, ballast tanks, and motors or hide in dirt or sand that clings to nets, buckets, anchors, and waders. Through education, recreational water users can follow some simple steps to prevent unintentionally transporting aquatic invasive species by implementing general Clean, Drain, Dry procedures in every body of water they travel in. Visit https://stopaquatichitchhikers.org/prevention/ for details.

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020

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#1 Johnny Knox safe as he slides into second.

JEFFERSON HOPES ‘THE LAST DANCE’ IS JUST THE BEGINNING By Geoff Magliochetti (photos by Ulla Vinkman)


t. Peter’s Prep. Delbarton. Bergen Catholic. Don Bosco Prep. Jefferson Township High School.

play in the Upper Morris Regional saw Jefferson top Randolph in a pitcher’s duel (1-0) and an offensive onslaught (11-0).

It’s not often you see the local Falcons in the same group as the aforementioned private school powerhouses, but the Last Dance World Series was a welcome exception. JTHS was among the final eight teams in the statewide baseball tournament’s North Jersey portion of the bracket.

“No one expected us to be here. We (were) the underdog in every single game,” head coach Jason Kalish said after the final game. “Randolph, we were supposed to lose. Roxbury, we were supposed to lose. Bridgewater-Raritan, everybody thought we were going to lose.”

“You look at some of those names, being in that kind of a crowd, it’s flattering, to be frank,” Johnny Knox said. “We knew going into this season that we could make some noise in the conference that we were in. We were still able to make an impact on this entire year through this tournament and play with some of the big dogs and prove that we can hang around with teams like Bosco or beat a team like (BridgewaterRaritan). I feel like that really just showed what Jefferson is all about.”

“It was a different guy each game. We rolled with what we had, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Jefferson went 3-1 in their Last Dance showing, the lone blemish being their 3-1 North Region quarterfinal defeat at Yogi Berra Stadium against Don Bosco (labeled the Diamondbacks during their own tournament run). A trio of victories at Skylands Stadium preceded the surprising showing against the Diamonds, including a 5-3 thriller against BridgewaterRaritan that allowed the Falcons to advance to Little Falls. Pool


The idea behind the Last Dance was stored in its title, providing New Jersey seniors a chance to don their school’s colors one final time after circumstances beyond their control. Jefferson’s seniors gave the town lasting memories in uncertain times, energized by a climactic opportunity four months in the making. Destined for Nichols College in Massachusetts, Johnny Knox accounted for a majority of the Falcons’ box score tallies in the original victory over Randolph by earning both of the Falcon hits and scoring their only run before earning the last five outs on the pitcher’s mound in the win over Randolph. Zach Roskowsky, bound for the County College of Morris, threw 5⅓ innings of one-hit baseball beforehand to earn the narrow win. CJ White, Justin Cece, Kris Mankin, and John Liaci also

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020

donned the interlocking JT for summer proceedings. Their time in Jefferson may be over, but this senior class’ impact will be felt for a long time. “It’s a special group. When you have talented kids who are also great kids on and off the field, it makes it a lot more sweet. That’s what we had in the senior class,” Kalish remarked. “Our kids weren’t intimidated. They got the ball in play, they got some nice hits. “I’m happy for my kids to have the opportunity to put the program on the map against these bigger programs and show that we didn’t just get here and get steamrolled (by the Diamondbacks). We showed that we can hang with these programs. For the younger guys, that’s something to build on.” The Jefferson community also got a decent glimpse of the future in what was anything but a Last Dance for a team packed to the brim with underclassmen. Juniors Jack Urbano, Jason Taylor, Mike Novak, Austin Jack, and Tyler Ruban were all there in essential supporting roles that helped Jefferson capitalize on a new opportunity.

#23 CJ White and #21 Justin Cece running in after catching the ball to finish the inning.

Urbano, for example, threw a shortened complete-game shutout against Roxbury before holding the mighty Don Bosco lineup to four hits in the final. Big run-scoring hits from Taylor and Ruban helped Jefferson respectively tie and take the lead in the back-and-forth dramatics against BridgewaterRaritan. Cece would later provide an insurance run for the senior throwers Roskowsky and Knox by stealing second base in the penultimate inning then escaping a rundown to create the final margin. Kalish hopes that his underclassmen will have a full season to look forward to next year. He’s confident that they can carry on the success established in the Last Dance to create a memorable final soiree of their own. “We had 10 juniors in our program who are all great kids and love the game. We’ve got some talented freshmen and sophomores who are going to be sophomores and juniors. So, we’ll see what they do in the offseason, how hard they work, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited going into next season with what I’ve seen so far.”

#6 Zach Roskowsky ready to pitch.

“(The senior class) taught me to be humble,” Urbano said. “My class, my seniors, they were the most humble people I ever met in my life. They taught me a lot of life lessons.” The ongoing medical crisis long delayed Jefferson’s first opportunity to take the field against another team. It almost ended their reunion tour early when their potential opponent to advance to the knockout round, Sussex Red (a union of student-athletes from High Point and Wallkill), had a player come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. That came after their original matchup on July 16 was put off due to the threats of storms. Once the matchup with Sussex Red was rendered null and void, Jefferson prepared itself for a Monday morning matchup

The Jefferson Township Falcons dugout in the age of Covid-19.

From the Community, For the Community

Continued on page 16




#19 Mike Novak arriving safely to first base.

with Deptford on the campus of St. Joseph High School (Metuchen). Tournament officials allowed all of them to move onto to the North Jersey knockout. It was a cause for Falcon celebration, but the caveat was that Jefferson would have nearly a week off between their mastery over Roxbury and their showdown with Bridgewater-Raritan. Jefferson conquered the layover problem in familiar fashion: together. “That was definitely an interesting period. It was like every couple of hours something would change,” said Taylor. “We kind of all communicated with each other, we got six or seven guys to meet at the field on each of the two days before the game.” “A pre-game day routine for us is that we all hit and then we all go to a pool and just chill in a pool. So we had to keep doing that,” Knox added. “Since we had a whole weekend off, we probably hit four or five of the six days off. We were hitting, we were getting ready. Our pitchers were staying loose and we were ready.” Even in defeat, Kalish and his proteges managed to find victory. Facing an opponent that sent a starting pitcher bound for Virginia out, Jefferson managed to outhit the Diamondbacks by a 6-5 margin. They landed on the wrong side of things in the run column, but the common theme amongst the team was that the final game in Little Falls wasn’t the end…but rather the potential start of something bigger, beyond Morris County. “I’m definitely excited to see what we can do next year,” Taylor said. “We have a lot of juniors that I think are going to step up and have really big years. Also, we have really good sophomores and a freshmen class that will take on some pretty big roles next year. I think we’re going to be pretty good. We’re going to have a chance to make a big run next year.” “We didn’t give up any time. We just always wanted to win. We fell short, but next year’s our year. We’re going to come up bigger,” Urbano remarked while looking back on the experience. “Next year we’re just going to try to do our best and win every game we can. We’re not going to give up.”


lthough many view suicide as a rare occurence, it occurs more often than you might think. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between 10 and 24. Why is it so common for a young person to take his or her own life? There are many factors that play into such tragedy, the most common of which is mental illness. As teens, we want to be independent and mask our struggles. Unfortunately, the stigma of having a mental health issue has caused a fear of seeking help. This negative perception of mental illness is very dangerous. Instead of seeking help, teens face the fear of rejection and choose to struggle in isolation. Mental illness is not an issue that one can control. One cannot simply choose to be happy while struggling with severe depression. Teens struggling with mental health issues need help. They need resources. They need professionals. They need support. They need to know that they will be supported rather than being looked down upon because of their illness. It is the responsibility of everyone to promote mental health, both young and old. Mental health awareness has been prevalent thing, especially among youth, due to the high rates of suicide. When there’s an issue that involves youth, there should be youth working to solve the issue. We are passionate about creating change and raising awareness about mental health.  My passion to raise awareness for mental health led me to founding Healthy Right, a youth-led nonprofit organization.  Our organization focuses on raising awareness for the need to make mental health resources available and accessible to the youth population. There are many resources available to help youth in crisis, yet many remain unaware that they exist. Similarly, there are bills that, if passed, would enhance how mental health is handled in schools. However, many are not aware of these bills and how to advocate for them. Healthy Right strives to elevate the youth voice in an effort to support and prevent crises. When the youth use their voice to uplift the community, you’ll be surprised at how much they can accomplish.  So what are you waiting for? For too long, issues with mental health have been neglected. For too long, people have lost loved ones to suicide. Now, it’s time that we all work together to reduce stigma, share resources, and promote positive mental health. Preventing suicide is not just promoting crisis hotlines. It’s also not judging others, reassuring loved ones, and being kind. It’s accepting depression as a real illness rather than dismissing it as a “sadness” or “phase”. Although these actions seem small, they can go a long way. Every person deserves to live his or her life to its full potential. No one should ever feel that suicide is the only option. It never is. In a community without stigma, those suffering with mental illness will know that they are not alone. Every person needs to play a role in creating a supportive community. Together, we can fight against the mental illness that plagues our community and has taken the lives of our youth too soon.

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020


SUICIDE IS PREVENTABLE By Melissa Kiritsis, JTConnect


uicide can be an uncomfortable topic for many people, but in recent years there has been more research and education surrounding the issue that has led to more understanding and less stigma surrounding it. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide, and there were an estimated 1.4 million attempts. On average, there are 132 suicides per day and 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. There is no single reason someone takes their life. It is usually a combination of risk factors that could include both biological and environmental components. Some risk factors include family history of suicide and/or mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, serious physical health conditions including pain, prolonged periods of stress or isolation, and the inability to access mental health treatment, among others. Most people who die by suicide will show warning signs. They may talk about feeling hopeless and that they have no reason to live or feel like they are a burden to others. There is often a change in their mood or behavior, such as increased use of drugs or alcohol, withdrawing from activities, isolating from friends and family, saying goodbye to loved ones, or giving things away. They may even show signs of a sudden improvement or relief, knowing they have made the decision to end their life.

Suicide is related to brain functions that affect decision making and behavioral control. It makes it difficult for people to find positive solutions, but suicidal thoughts are just a symptom, like any other. There are treatments available and people can improve over time. Certain medications used to treat depression or stabilize mood have been proven to help reduce suicidal thoughts and behavior. Specific therapy treatments like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (“CBT”) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (“DBT”) are used help people manage their suicidal ideation and behavior. DBT is often used to treat those who attempt suicide or have recurrent suicidal ideation and behaviors. These short-term interactive therapies have been proven to make a difference. Suicide is preventable and should not be the outcome for a mental illness when there is treatment available. There is help and there is hope. Together we can. IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS or know someone who is, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Some people may find it difficult to talk to a family member or friend who they suspect could be suicidal. It’s important to not argue, judge, or debate whether suicide is right or wrong, but instead show support and concern for the person and be patient. When talking to someone, it’s best to be open and honest and don’t be afraid to ask direct questions like “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?” Asking someone if they are thinking about suicide will not put the idea in their head. You can ask them if you can call someone like their psychiatrist or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you believe someone is at immediate risk, do not leave them alone and call 9-1-1 or take them to the nearest emergency room. If someone can get through the intense, and short, moment of active suicidal crisis, chances are they will not die by suicide. From the Community, For the Community




ooking for a last-minute babysitter on a Friday night? Wondering if the rhubarb topping at the ice cream shop is worth trying? New in town and just experienced your first window-shaking explosion? Ask around, and before long someone is bound to reference “Moms and Dads.” This phrase is local shorthand for the Facebook page “Jefferson Township Moms and Dads.” The page has become something of an online epicenter for community activity in a time when we are otherwise isolated from one another like never before. As with many great ideas, it rose to prominence not by plan or design, but through a combination of circumstances, necessity, and hard work.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN Melissa Valdes-Henderson is a working woman and mother of two energetic children. She had a feeling there were resources here in town, but had no idea where to look. In a stroke of American ingenuity, she formed a Facebook group and invited all the parents in her local circle; they began sharing information, tips, gossip, and solutions to the situations they faced daily. The group’s variety and usefulness grew with its membership. There was little sense in the beginning that the page might have implications outside the internet – until the “high school basketball incident.” (If you don’t know about that, ask someone on Moms and Dads.) The ensuing online conversation had Valdes-Henderson worried that her page might need to be moderated somehow lest it spark outrage or litigation, or strain the already high tensions around town. She reached out to then private citizen Eric Wilsusen, who helped establish the basic guidelines that moderate the page to this day.

GROWING PAINS Controversy averted, the Moms and Dads page continued to grow in popularity, but increasingly became more demanding of administrative involvement. The issue came to a head when some long-forgotten controversy sent personal attacks to Valdes-Henderson’s inbox: accusations, insults, and so much vitriol that the busy working mom was ready to shut the page down entirely. Instead, as a last-ditch effort, she reached out ... on Jefferson Township Moms and Dads! Expressing her frustration and fatigue, she wrote that without


Lauren and Melissa wit h their children in a mo ment of calm.

help, the page would fail. Enter Lauren Scerbak, another local working mom with about as much free time as a beaver in a flood. Unwilling to let such a valuable resource fail for lack of assistance, Scerbak offered what help she could. Since then, the two women have become a dynamic team, working in synchronized harmony to facilitate and moderate the page. They mindfully keep their personal politics and opinions out of the mix so the page can serve the community in a way that is bigger than either of them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stop some members from leveling accusations and insults at the two. Scerbak speculates that “maybe people forget sometimes that this is our community. Melissa and I are just two busy moms doing our best.” In fact, both women lament the often vividly negative comments of neighbors against neighbors. “I’d hate for kids to see what their parents write online sometimes.” This sentiment speaks to the phenomenon of separation between the real world and the virtual world – in this case, a cruel word leveled against a neighbor becomes suddenly very real when standing behind that person on a checkout line.

PORTAL, BRIDGE, LIFELINE Moms and Dads has become the real-time hub of community buzz. It is the market square, the town well. With more than 4,000 members and growing, this page has become the first choice for many parents seeking information, help, and advice. Here news often breaks first. Mayor Wilsusen uses it as a community sounding board and, to great effect, in updating the town on issues such as storm recovery progress. (The mayor was not contacted for this article; we assume he is busy enough.) Countless local businesses have gained more through word-ofmouth advertising on this page than all their paid ad campaigns combined (actively advertising is discouraged). Lost dogs are found and lost bicycles returned. Wandering bears are tracked

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020

and monitored. Where is the toilet paper – hand sanitizer – best margarita – shortest wait at DMV – best (and worst) pizza? Moms and Dads will give you community feedback and then some. The page is also where people find needed help and support in periods of financial and social uncertainty...where neighbors facing strange and daunting times come together in order to connect, offer what they have, ask for what they need, share information (and rumors) and hope. Here they can discuss their challenges and devise solutions. This is a new way to accomplish what is so often lost in our modern times: bringing together the hands and voices of a community for the benefit of all.

WHO CAN JOIN The short answer: You. You can join. The name of the group remains Jefferson Township Moms and Dads, but not to exclude anyone who is not a parent; it is just how the page started, and Valdes-Henderson and Scerbak see no need to change it now. New members are asked to answer four simple questions: Do you live in town? What street do you live on? Have you read the terms of the page? Do you agree to abide by those terms? This information is not recorded or cataloged; it is simply a good-faith gesture to help curate a healthier and more productive online community. Both women related stories of people new to the area, or considering moving here, who sought permission to comment on the page in order to get a sense of the community. Their answer? Yes, please! The more this page is used, the more useful it becomes. All are welcome provided they come in the spirit of community, camaraderie, support, and kindness. In fact, when asked what they would want to see as our town feels its way to a new and uncertain future, they answered in unison, “Just be more kind to each other!” As page administrators, the pair has a unique insight into our citizens. They see the best and worst of our sentiments both publicly and in private messages. But, in spite of the sometimes aggressive negativity and personal attacks, the women agree that Jefferson is an amazing place full of amazing people. Scerbak says of our neighbors, “Every time – EVERY SINGLE TIME – someone is in need, people come forward to help. Sometimes the most vocal critics and negative voices are also the first to drop everything and help.” At this, she almost tears up. It is clear that through this unlikely platform, the administrators have found an unexpected bond with their community and the community has found a voice it never had before. The two women summed it up: “This is just about being better. Doing what’s best for everyone.” Times change, and surely we will face challenges, some old and some new. But the strength of a community will always depend on the unity of its citizens, and in that we all have something for which to be grateful. Recollecting the countless ways she has seen neighbors come together, Valdes-Henderson, staring off with a smile on her face, says, “Look what we can do together!”


PAIN-FREE LIVING By Janet Pfeiffer


ongenital insensitivity to pain (CIP), aka congenital analgesia, is a rare condition in which a person cannot feel physical pain. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to live without the discomfort caused by a sprained ankle or migraine headache, or never having sore muscles from demanding physical labor? The thought of aging without suffering from arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or other age-related medical issues sounds like utopia. However, while people generally don’t like hurting, pain is actually a blessing in disguise. Physical pain is a necessary warning sign that something is wrong within our bodies. Back pain could indicate a pinched nerve. An aching shoulder might imply a torn rotator cuff. Headaches could suggest a more serious or even life-threatening condition such as a brain tumor. Without the message pain delivers, one would fail to seek the medical treatment that might restore optimum health. While living without physical pain sounds appealing, in reality it is unsafe and could prove fatal in some instances. So it is with emotional pain as well. We’ve all been hurt by unkind words spoken by another, and perhaps struggled with the loss of a loved one. Pain is an uncomfortable feeling that some try to deny. However, like its physical counterpart, emotional pain is a vital messenger for our well-being. In my book, The Secret Side of Anger, I explain some of the messages of hurt. If criticism causes emotional distress, it may be an indication that self-esteem is weak, leading people to rely too heavily on the opinions of others in defining their worth. Learning to value and love ourselves protects us from the harsh comments of others. Intense pain or grief can indicate the depth of how we love. Losing a sibling can prove far more difficult to overcome than the loss of a coworker. Suffering, the prolonged experience of pain, might reveal one’s refusal to accept an unwelcome change – an unfortunate circumstance – thereby denying the opportunity to grow, learn, and ultimately find peace with it. Empaths (those who are highly attuned to the feelings of others) often absorb others’ emotions as well. Their sensitivity to pain, sadness, loss, etc. tend to make them highly compassionate individuals. These traits serve them well in various aspects of relationships. All emotions, even pain, have purpose and value, for each reveals something in ourselves about which we may not be aware. However, we need not be held hostage to distressing feelings when we understand that interpreting the messages within frees us from their control, and in that freedom we discover effortless living. While living pain-free may sound enticing, it is actually unsafe and harmful. Never deny the mind’s or body’s warning signals. Acknowledge them, decipher them, and ultimately heal them – for it is in the deep knowing of ourselves that we find the greatest successes and joys of our lives.

From the Community, For the Community




JACK-O-LANTERN PUDDING & FALL PORK CHOPS By Jimmy Seretis, Co-Owner, Jefferson Diner and J. Towne Tavern


f you think that pork chops and pumpkin pudding will not impact your week for the better, think again! Fall is here, and as house chefs, you have two luscious dish recipes that will complement each other and wow your spouse and family. Let’s begin with a few thick cut pork loin chops that you can purchase from a local butcher or supermarket. Take your pork chops out and leave them at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Season both sides generously with kosher salt, fresh black pepper and extra virgin Greek olive oil. I love the cast iron skillet, so put your stove top and skillet to work, and get that skillet nice and hot. Sear both sides of the chops until you achieve that beautiful brown crust while basting it with butter, garlic, and fresh rosemary along the way, each time you turn them (should be two times in total once you master the searing process). Forgot to let you know, leave the fresh rosemary in the skillet. Now, let’s cheat a bit and take out your thermometer, be a doctor and do not let that temperature go over 140-145 degrees. Take those juicy chips off at about 137-139 because they will continue to cook while sitting, especially if you cover them with aluminum foil.

The goal is to have your pork chops white all the way through, juicy and flavorful. Once you finish licking your chops, it’s time for dessert. The next recipe for pumpkin pudding will require 3 cups of whole milk, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 lb. of pumpkin puree, 6 1/2-7 oz of instant vanilla pudding mix (your preference), and approximately 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice mix, keeping in mind the packaging instructions on the pudding or pie mix. Take all of your ingredients and whisk everything together in a bowl. Let the mixture sit until it thickens for 6-8 minutes. Pour the mixture in your serving mason jars or cups, and refrigerate until the dessert is firm enough to serve, approximately an hour and 10 minutes. You can top off your pudding with anything you prefer, whipped cream, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice mix, powdered sugar, or any spice that is full of fall flavors. I hope you will try these recipes and perfect them so every fall you think of pumpkins and pork chops. Remember, it is your kitchen, your rules, and practice makes perfect.

Indoor & Outdoor Dining, Delivery and Pick up!

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TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020




urn on the television one day and totally mute the sound. Wear a very good pair of earplugs or a set of noise canceling headphones and talk to someone perhaps standing six feet away from you. Can you clearly understand what he or she is saying by lipreading and facial gestures?  What if the person speaking is wearing a face mask in the current Covid-19 world?  You would be unable to see the speaker’s lips to even try to lip read, and you wouldn’t be able to see any facial expression except for the eyes. Imagine then what life is like for a hearing impaired or deaf person trying to communicate with someone wearing any type of face mask during this pandemic.   That individual can now be partially or totally shut out from conversations at work, at school, in a restaurant, in a store, in a hospital/clinic environment, or in a doctor’s office, etc. Trying to understand someone wearing a clear plastic face shield or through a plexiglass barrier can help, but most of those individuals would still be wearing some type of a face mask as well for protection. During the pandemic, hearing impaired individuals would most probably be hesitant to ask the person they are trying to have a conversation with to lower or remove their mask in order for them to read lips. Most likely, people would be reluctant to do so as the mask is something protecting them and the people around them. As much as someone may feel sorry for a person in this situation, no one wants to compromise anyone’s health. In today’s world, it is a frustrating dilemma for the hearingimpaired and deaf community to be unable to converse with anyone wearing a mask. Oftentimes, an individual in this situation where face masks are mandatory will just avoid even going out to a public place in the event someone might ask them a question as they don’t wish to be perceived as rude in not acknowledging the other person. Under normal circumstances, if the individual’s family or co-workers are aware of their hearing impairment, they will usually be courteous and always try to remember to speak clearly to them face-to-face so they can read lips. However, that face in a mask changes everything. With all the technology at our fingertips today, the hearingimpaired and deaf community can oftentimes overcome many difficulties using TV closed captioning, efficient hearing aids, email, text messaging, sign language, special closedcaption telephone units (such as CapTel, ClearCaptions, and

CaptionCall), or sign language, while others can benefit from cochlear implants. Face masks have changed the strides that hearing-impaired or deaf people have made more so now than ever before. Out in the world, in-person conversation doesn’t have a closed-captioning option, leaving the hearingimpaired and deaf with no avenue for a face-to-face in-person conversation in an ever-changing masked environment.   An inspirational story recently appeared on MSN about a Best Buy store manager in Pennsylvania who was hearing impaired and was having anxiety as to how he could communicate with this staff because everyone was wearing a face mask. He went to his supervisor to ask what he could do to overcome this hurdle and be able to do his job.   Some employees decided that the solution would be a fabric face mask with a clear insert making a person’s mouth totally visible. Some volunteers got together to sew a new type of face mask for the store manager and the members of his staff. The manager was then not only able to read his employees’ lips and communicate as needed, feeling normal and accepted; but everyone was now able to see each other’s smile while the mask protected them. A segment on News12 NJ recently highlighted the work of the Frontline Sewing Angels who are sewing and selling their Read-My-Lips masks, and ABC News recently presented a story on SeeThru Masks being made by a Seattle woman. As people see other people wearing face masks with clear inserts, curiosity, interest, and a new awareness is being generated. It seems that the idea is catching on and is becoming somewhat of a game changer, not only for the hearing-impaired and deaf community, but for many who rely on facial expressions to fully understand what is being communicated including individuals with autism, aphasia, etc.  Many home sewers are answering the call and making masks with clear inserts; even some companies are professionally manufacturing what they are calling window masks, smile masks, communicator masks, see-thru masks, hello masks, read my lip masks, etc.  Not only appropriate for a work/ office environment, but some educators, especially those who teach the hearing impaired, deaf students, and autistic children, see this as a possible solution to the problems they face with their students not being able to lip read and see their facial expressions.    With some online research, you can find patterns for making your own masks with a clear insert Continued on page 26

From the Community, For the Community



THE GEORGE CHAMBERLAIN HOUSE: A GLIMPSE OF LIFE IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY By Carol Punturieri (article and photos, except as noted)


n the south corner of Milton and Dover Milton Their research also shows that Amos Chamberlain, born in Roads in the Milton section of Jefferson Township, 1818, son of Abraham and Elizabeth, was a carpenter and a there is a unique dollhouse-cut two-story building builder of furniture who married Mary Ann Lyon in 1838; with a fieldstone foundation. Unlike any other structure in and they had seven children residing in Milton Village. One of the community, it has arched their sons, George, born in 1839, dormers on the second floor, went to Milton’s village school a mansard roof (two slopes with his siblings, he worked for on every side) with patterned his father,  and later attended the prestigious Pennington slate shingles, and a central brick chimney.  There’s a small Seminary in NJ. In 1848, Amos scale bracketed cornice, a front built a new home on his own door that has round arched property on Dover-Milton panels; and architecturally, Road,  and “The Homestead” it’s an eclectic second empire has remained in the family, structure. The sign on the lawn currently the home of former identifies it as the  “Jefferson Jefferson Township Mayor Evelyn Ackerson Brown, Township Museum - George daughter of Harmon and Mary Chamberlain House”.  Built Chamberlain Ackerson.  in 1874, it eventually became the Violet Riker Library,   and Amos’  father Abraham was Photo by Christopher Bean today is the Jefferson Township killed in 1852 when a wheel at Museum.   his distillery fell on him, breaking both his legs. Amos and his older brother Horace inherited the grist mill when their The Chamberlains were among one of the early families father died. Eventually, Amos bought out his brother’s share settling in the Milton section of Jefferson. From extensive research by Jefferson Township Historical Society members and later built a saw mill and a gypsum mill and also operated a store in connection with the mills for many years.  In 1852, Nancy Chamberlain and Mary Parr, a timeline traces the Chamberlain family back to Francis Chamberlain who settled Amos purchased a farm and a hotel in nearby Newfoundland, in Virginia in 1621.  Over the years, many family members NJ.  moved to Massachusetts; and in 1725, Benjamin Chamberlain In the spring of 1860, George was teaching school in Russia, was born there.  He, his wife Mary and their son Benjamin, NJ and later at Postville, Stockholm, Newfoundland, Milton, Jr. moved to Sussex, NJ.  Benjamin, Jr. later married Martha and Millbrook, NJ.  He studied in the law office of Senator Byram in 1766 in Sparta, NJ.  Their son Abraham, born in Lyman A. Chandler in Morristown and was admitted to 1783, married Elizabeth Keepers and moved to Petersburg, the bar in 1865 specializing in property transfers and land NJ. surveying in addition to continuing milling and farming.    Abraham was also a farmer and operated a grist mill, a Amos gifted the Victorian house he built on Dover Milton plaster mill, and a saw mill in Milton as well as a saw mill in Road to George upon his marriage in 1874 to Ruth Elizabeth Petersburg.  In 1840, he built a distillery in Petersburg where Speaker of Macopin, NJ.  The house consisted of a parlor off they made applejack (apple whiskey) from apple cider. Parr and the entrance hallway with a dining room on the first floor.  Chamberlain’s research revealed that Abraham Chamberlain There were three bedrooms upstairs, one believed to have been owned over 500 acres of property in the area.  He and his wife a nursery.   Elizabeth often attended the Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church As the small kitchen was downstairs, a dumbwaiter moved which still stands today on Oak Ridge Road. food and other items up to the dining room on a pulley 22

TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020

Left: The dining room is indeed full of history representing family life in the home. Costumed docents will gladly answer visitors’ inquiries during the monthly open house events. Right: Although not original to the home, the Hoosier Cabinet, an early workstation/cupboard, and the kitchen stove (both circa 1920) are now part of the Museum’s kitchen/gift shop reflecting how kitchens have evolved. Both are used to display some of the vintage and unique items that are for sale during the Museum’s open houses with gift shop profits benefiting the Society’s self-funding scholarship.

system. There was a kitchen garden out back where the family grew herbs, and harvested and dried them for cooking and medicinal uses. There was no indoor plumbing, and the neighborhood well house was across the street (which at the time was Main Street) next to the post office and general store. The kitchen pump brought water into a trough, there was a sink and a drain board near the kitchen’s back door, heat was generated from the heating stove in the kitchen and rose through the “registers” in the floors,  and the home was lit with oil lamps and candles. There was a wash house and an outhouse in the back of the property. Homes at the time had an ice box so the family could preserve food all year long.  They placed ice blocks between layers of straw and rugs then stored them in the ice house outside to be used in the warm weather. At the time, the river behind the house was dammed near the bridge to form what was locally known as Chamberlain Pond.  During the summer, it was used for swimming and during the winter for ice harvesting.    The couple’s sons attended school in Milton Village. Raymond went on to become a public school teacher in NJ, a principal in Denville and Totowa, and earned two bachelor degrees and a masters degree. After teaching and becoming a principal at Dover High School, he left to teach in Grammar School #147 in Brooklyn, NY.  In his book “That’s the Way It Was,” Albert R. Riggs said that Raymond eventually became a professor at Columbia University; and when he died, he was building a calculating machine.  Archie graduated from the NJ State

Normal School at Trenton, was a teacher in NJ, and then entered the US Custom House in New York City. George’s third son Clarence was two when he died. When George and Ruth Elizabeth moved from their home in the late 1890s, the house was home to tenants of the family until it was purchased by the Friends of the Library in 1960.  They converted the home to The Violet Riker Library and operated it for 19 years. In 1979, the Township of Jefferson announced it would be building a new library on Weldon Road. When it opened in 1980, the township purchased the George Chamberlain House.  In 2006, the Society embarked on a huge repair project both inside and out working with local contractor L. Schuyler Martin, Jr. Carol Keppel became the restoration researcher and coordinator of the project  with the assistance of Christine Williams, Mary Parr, Marilyn Rietzel, Gloria Mikowski, Lynda MacDonald, Bob Keppel, Bob Headley, Cliff Williams, Larry Parr, the Junior Woman’s Club, the Garden Club of Milton, the Jefferson Township Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, family and friends. Over the years, Bill’s Scenic Landscaping and PNJ Landscaping worked with the Museum Garden Club on the outside gardens. As Martin was finishing the outdoor work, Society members were discussing the renovation of the entryway, the first floor, the stairway, the second floor hallway, and the bedrooms upstairs.

Left: The master bedroom as it is shown today replicates the simple furnishings in the George Chamberlain House. Right: What is believed to have been a nursery on the second floor of the house is now depicted as a sewing room.

From the Community, For the Community

Continued on page 26


Hours of Operation: By Appointment due to Government Regulations During COVID19 Pandemic




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Business Cards Posters Brochures Labels Postcards Flyers Booklets Envelopes, etc.


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T-shirts Hoodies Tote Bags Embroidery Mugs Pens Notepads, etc.



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Banners Yard Signs Vehicle Graphics Trade Show Displays • Vinyl Decals • Magnets, etc.


• Bulk Mailing • EDDM Mailing • Mail List Generation • Warehousing • Distribution, etc.


TheJeffersonChronicle.com Print Edition • Fall 2020



taten Island’s loss was definitely a gain for the township back in 1976. While the nation was celebrating its bicentennial, a young couple was pulling up stakes in the New York City Borough to move across the Hudson River. It was the year the Punturieris – Carol and Frank – moved to Jefferson.

Now, over 40 years later, she is the one being celebrated following a productive and rewarding career of service to the township. Punturieri was recently honored at a retirement dinner, receiving an official proclamation of thanks from Jefferson Mayor Eric Wilsusen. She officially retired on January 31 from her position at the township’s Recreation Program.

When presenting her with the proclamation, Wilsusen noted he has known Punturieri for some 30 years. The mayor recalled meeting her for the first time when she worked for the now defunct AIM publication, “when I was known as ‘Officer Eric,’ and was starting my Community Services Officer position,” he quipped. Wilsusen told dinner guests, “Carol was instrumental in helping to get Camp Jefferson up and running some 16 years ago and has been a dedicated volunteer with the Jefferson Arts Committee organizing Jefferson Days and Jefferson Fest. We wish you well,” he continued, “and know that you will continue to contribute to the community.” It is a statement the honoree enthusiastically affirms, noting retirement from her volunteer work is not on the horizon.

JEFFERSON’S GAIN It was a lucky coincidence the couple settled in the township. Punturieri recalls to The Jefferson Chronicle Digest that she and husband Frank were looking for a home when they visited her childhood friend in town. “We came to this community we had never heard of, fell in love with the area, and decided this is where we could settle down and bought our house,” she says. The rest – to quote an often-repeated expression – “is history.”

While Punturieri spent her earliest years in Jefferson as a homemaker and mom, she did manage to juggle part-time work from home as well as write for local newspapers – a talent that later developed into a full-time position.

She also managed a packed schedule as a volunteer. First joining the Milton Garden Club upon moving to the township, she eventually served as the group’s president.

When her kids were toddling around in the mid- ‘80s, Punturieri and friend Karen Crawford established the ABC (After Baby Comes) Mothers Group at St. Thomas the Apostle RC Church, which still exists. When her kids started school, she assisted in scouting events, became involved in parent-teacher groups, chaired several committees and helped establish the first Project Graduation event. Punturieri also joined the Jefferson Arts Committee serving as publicity chair and then as president, helping organize annual community events like the summer concert series at the gazebo and Jefferson Day.

BEYOND THE ‘CALL OF DUTY’ As Founding Father Benjamin Franklin’s adage states, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” And Punturieri got things done. It’s no wonder, then, that she was named female Citizen of the Year by former Mayor Russ Felter in 2003. By then, she was already working for the township as deputy clerk, moving to the recreation department in 2004, and eventually reaching the position of recreation program coordinator. Township Recreation Director Grace Rhinesmith, who worked with Punturieri for 16 years at the Jefferson Parks and Recreation Commission, says “Carol’s greatest contribution was her dedication whether at work or volunteering. She never, ever left a job undone right down until the last day. She was so thorough and so well organized that she had tasks done before she left that were not even due yet.”

Like the mayor, the recreation director says Punturieri was instrumental in helping to get Camp Jefferson off the ground. In addition to defining in writing the finalized camp policies and procedures, Rhinesmith notes “All of the brochures, sign-up sheets, policies, procedures, and more were written and put together by Carol once we as a group finalized what we wanted. Carol ran the summer office staff and helped enforce the rules and policies of camp registration,” she adds.

And apparently Punturieri often went beyond the “call of duty,” as Rhinesmith remembers. When a tree fell in the road at the camp, “Carol was out there directing traffic and chased a policeman away telling him that she was responsible for everyone,” the recreation director recalls for The Digest.

UP NEXT . . . Punturieri says that “Moving on, I’m looking forward to traveling with my husband as well as with family and friends in the near future.” She adds, “I’m very excited to return to writing again bringing information to the community now as a member of The Jefferson Chronicle team. I look forward to being part of this growing company.” She also looks forward to continuing volunteer involvement in the community, including with the Arts Committee. As for ‘moving on’ further in the future, Punturieri says, “We’ll just see what else might come along.” Hopefully, that ‘moving on’ does not include a trip back across the Hudson to Staten Island; at least not permanently.

From the Community, For the Community


Face Masks continued from page 21 . . .

Snapshots of History continued from page 22 . . .

(such as www.columbusspeech.org/smile-mask-how-to) as well as companies such as Denim & Tailor, Safe’N’Clear, and ClearMask, who are manufacturing these masks for individual and bulk sale. They suggest coating the plastic insert with a drop of oil or liquid soap to help prevent or inhibit fogging.  

According to the Society’s website, “This work became a work of restoration as research on color, finishes, and materials became our guidelines. Scraping, sanding, repairing, painting and refinishing by members and volunteers continued almost daily throughout the summer and into the early fall.” Walls were sandblasted, the chestnut floors were repaired, and a large hole in the front door was fixed. The goal was to maintain authenticity relevant to the era.  

It seems that the LEAF Mask is the world’s first FDAregistered, clear mask to have N99-standard air filtering abilities as well as a self-purifying feature using a builtin UV-C light.  While the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association (ASHA) indicates that many other companies are seeking FDA approval for clear panel masks, there is some concern about the plastic inhibiting breathing, fogging, etc. so the masks should be carefully worn with that in mind. It is imperative to be aware that these fabric masks with a clear insert are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE) when exposure to body fluids is likely. A recent USA Today article reported that a hearing-impaired woman in Ohio was having problems understanding her clients speaking to her through a regular face mask and set out to look for a way to minimize risk but improve communication.  She discovered an Etsy site that was selling buttons that she could pin to her mask, clothing, etc. that read “Please be patient. I’m hard of hearing.” OR “Your mask means I can’t read your lips. Please speak up.” OR “Hard of hearing. Please keep mask on and speak up.” Many hearing impaired people may have been managing their hearing loss using lip reading in addition to hearing aids, etc. until the pandemic recommendations came out for 6-foot social distancing, wearing a mask, and turning away from people in order to avoid potentially contaminated droplets carried on air particles. “For some of us who don’t have a hearing impairment, it can be hard for us to understand what that is like right now,” said Kayla Kirk, an audiologist with the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center quoted in the USA Today article,  “But the mask affects the speech and the social distancing affects the signal.” According to The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders “...approximately 15% of adults (37.5 million) in the U.S. report some trouble hearing, and about 30 million people 12 years or older have hearing loss in both ears.” It is a very personal decision for a hearing-impaired or deaf person to wear a clear face mask out in public and ask their communication partner to do so as well, or to wear a button announcing to the world that they have a hearing problem.  It is a disability that many choose to not broadcast as it is not as physically visible as other disabilities, but they are finding the courage to do so in this Covid-19 world they are trying to survive in. 26

The downstairs kitchen was restored and became the Museum’s gift shop -- Miss Elizabeth’s Shoppe, named after Ruth Elizabeth Chamberlain, the first bride and occupant of the home. During the renovations, the walls were sanded down to reveal that the kitchen was originally painted yellow, and they were repainted with a similar shade of yellow. Research indicates that the original oak plank floors had been covered with linoleum in the early part of the 20th century as they were easier to clean during periods of rampant diseases. During renovations, the linoleum was removed to reveal the original flooring. A new sidewalk, a new landing and steps were designed and installed by local contractor and mason Victor E. Simonelli in September 2007. The railing design on the new front steps and down to the lower property along Russia Brook was designed by the Society and produced in Rolfe Warnke’s Jefferson Township High School woodshop class. The Jefferson Township Parks Department did the installation.    The Jefferson Township Museum is listed on the NJ State Register of Historic Places; and in 2009, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A dedication ceremony was held in May 2009 and a plaque was placed on the building noting these honors. The Museum at 315 Dover-Milton Road, Milton/Oak Ridge has an open house usually on the first Sunday of the month with costumed docents and a special theme. Visit https:// www.jeffersontownship.net/360/Historical-Society or contact Museum Director Altaira “Tara”  Howanice at Museum.jhs@ jeffersontownship.net. Sources: The Jefferson Township Historical Society, Inc.; Chamberlain family timeline by Mary Parr and Nancy Chamberlain;  Wikipedia; Museums USA; Jefferson Patch 2010 “History Museum has a History All its Own”  by Jane Primerano; www.jeffersontownship.net; The Pathways of History 2014; World Chamberlain Genealogical Society; Carol Keppel; https://prabook. com/web/evelyn_ackerson.brown/1077805;  Morris County Cultural Resources Survey 1986; Morris County Tourism Bureau; https://www. jeffersontownship.net/360/Historical-Society;   The Coloradoan (part of the USA Today Network) February 2014;  http://www.jeffersonbicentennial. org/about/about.html; A Genealogical Record of the Descendants of Benjamin Chamberlain of Sussex County, NJ  by A. J. Fretz; “That’s the Way It Was” by Albert R. Riggs; “The Development of Jefferson Township 1700-1900 by the JTHS Class of 1976 (Donald Rutsch, teacher)

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