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The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


From the Editor You are holding the very first issue of The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST monthly magazine! I am truly thankful for your valued readership – whether you have been following us for the past two years online or have just joined as a new reader by picking up this publication.

February 2019 www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com Founder, President, and Editor-in-Chief: Kevin L. Pattky, Jr. kevin.pattky@TheJeffersonChronicle.com

Deputy Editor: Lise Greene Senior Contributing Editor: Maria Weiskott Editor-at-Large: Sue Toth Contributing Writers: April Leaver, Jane Primerano, Billie Burke, Tyler Delp, Tony Haryn, Carol Punturieri Design and Production: CRK Advertising, Inc. www.CRKadvertising.com

Advertising Sales Representatives: Carene Kratzel 973-663-6766

We have worked hard to “chronicle” important issues around town and create a “digest” of those efforts throughout the pages ahead. Keep reading for an exclusive sit-down with Jefferson Township’s first new mayor in 20 years, an update on the much-debated Route 15/Berkshire Valley Road intersection problem, and much more. We welcome your input. Send story ideas and submissions to newsroom@TheJeffersonChronicle.com. Let us know what you think of this magazine by writing to feedback@TheJeffersonChronicle.com. Showcase your business or service to “local eyes” and learn more about how we can assist in reaching your target audience by contacting an advertising sales representative (on this page, at left). Thank you to our readers, advertisers, and The Chronicle team for bringing this magazine to life. We look forward to providing the local content that matters to our residents every month in the DIGEST pages ... and daily online at www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com.

Kevin L.

Pattky, Jr.

Kevin L. Pattky, Jr. Founder, President, and Editor-in-Chief

ConTEnTS Articles: Route 15/Berkshire Valley Road Traffic Delays: Solution in View? ......................................4

ckratzel@CRKadvertising.com

Meet Your New Mayor: Eric Wilsusen ............................6

Elisa DeYoung

New Year, New Mayor, New Council Member ........................................................10

elisa.deyoung@TheJeffersonChronicle.com

Contact Information: newsroom@TheJeffersonChronicle.com feedback@TheJeffersonChronicle.com advertising@TheJeffersonChronicle.com The Jefferson Chronicle 973-384-1799

About the DIGEST: The Jefferson Chronicle was founded by lifelong resident Kevin L. Pattky, Jr. after Aim Jefferson folded in 2016. The Chronicle is Jefferson Township's only dedicated newsroom, publishing local news and information "from the community, for the community." The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST is published monthly by The Jefferson Chronicle, LLC 7 Osage Trail, Oak Ridge, NJ 07438 ©2019 by The Jefferson Chronicle, LLC. All Rights Reserved. All contents of this magazine are copyrighted. No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law.

Academy Provides Educational Climate for Adapting to Environmental Change ........................12 Wawa and Medical Center: Cure for Former Pathmark Site........................................15 For What It’s Worth ..................................................................9 J-Town Tidbits ..........................................................................10 Event Calendar ..........................................................................11 In Brief (short articles)..............................................................18 Police Blotter, The Wooden Spoon, Obituaries ... coming soon!

www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com

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Short-Term Solution May Be in Sight for Route 15/Berkshire Valley Road Traffic Delays

is to widen the section of Berkshire Valley Road between Route 15 North and South, creating two left turn lanes onto 15 South and a through lane to lower Berkshire Valley Road.

By April Leaver

In addition, the exit from Route 15 North onto upper BVR by Lindeken Farms will be redesigned to prevent the traffic backup that occurs for people traveling across to lower Berkshire Valley Road and those turning left onto Route 15 South.

Residents frustrated by long delays at the traffic light by the intersection of Route 15 and Berkshire Valley Road (BVR) may have to wait a few years for a long-term solution. However, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is investigating a short-term solution. At the invitation of former mayor Russ Felter’s administration, Anthony Sytko, regional manager for the DOT, met with the Town Council on January 16 to discuss concerns regarding the intersection. Sytko is the DOT’s community liaison for Morris, Sussex, Bergen, Passaic, and Warren counties. A Lake Hopatcong resident complained that he recently had to wait 12 minutes at the intersection, which he deemed unacceptable. He asserted that Espanong Road, previously a viable alternate route, is now used more frequently by commuters from other towns as a detour around traffic jams on Route 15 South. In his opinion, the change in the timing of the light made matters worse, not better. What’s the Plan? Sytko explained that the Route 15/BVR project is in the preliminary engineering stage (middle phase). The plan

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The project will go to the final design phase by the end of 2019 and will be bid out for construction by 2021. Sytko told the council, “Final design phase is when the right of way acquisition takes place, and that is the longest part of any given project. We allow for 18-24 months because of the negotiations that have to take place.” The right of way land access is essential to the project plan, but details of the required acquisition have not yet been released. Council Spoke Up for Residents Council member Melissa Senatore explained that the most significant problem currently facing residents is the timing of the traffic light. She questioned whether there are different timings depending on the time of the day, noting that there are occasions when the light does not change despite the presence of a car waiting to turn from BVR onto Route 15 South. Although Sytko did not know how the detection is set up, he can investigate it.

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


Mayor Eric Wilsusen also expressed his concern regarding the bottleneck of traffic that occurs at northbound Route 15 and BVR where three lanes merge into two. He questioned why the road does not have three lanes all the way up to the QuickChek instead of the three-to-two pattern that alternates from Wharton through Lake Shawnee. Sytko stated that adding a lane is not under consideration by the DOT at this time. Council member Robert Birmingham observed that there are only two major thoroughfares out of Jefferson: Route 23 and Route 15. Several years ago, a similar traffic backup regularly occurred at the upper end of BVR because there was only one turn lane onto Route 23 South, and the light allowed only a few cars through at each change. The town argued with the DOT for years to create two turn lanes, and was told that it could not be done. After many years of debate, the second turn lane was added and the backup problem was resolved. Birmingham asked why the same could not be done at Route 15 and BVR. The intersection of Route 15 and Berkshire Valley Road. (Screenshot/Courtesy of Google Maps)

Council member Jay Dunham voiced frustration with the construction project delay, echoing residents’ concern for a solution. He asserted that the same plan was presented to the town five years ago and asked whether the lack of money in the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), which finances new highway and transit projects, contributed to the delay of this project.

Sytko explained that there is rarely a simple solution. A delicate balance is required to focus on safety and traffic flow while adhering to state and federal guidelines. He told the council that he will investigate the timing of the light and traffic interrupters with his team and report back. In the meantime, residents’ commuting challenges will continue.

When the TTF’s coffers ran dry, former Governor Chris Christie signed a bill in October 2016 raising the gas tax 23 cents a gallon along with other fuel tax increases. The state’s constitution was also amended by voter approval in November 2016 to stipulate that all revenue from motor fuel taxes be used for transportation projects. The proceeds of these taxes infused funds into the TTF budget. The TTF Act was then amended and approved to issue up to $12 billion in transportation program bonds between 2017 and 2024, which may explain why this project has regained traction. Sytko has been with the DOT for seven years, but in his current role for only 18 months. He could not address why the project was delayed in the past. Dunham and council vice president Kim Finnegan pointed out that the Route 15/BVR intersection is a major site of traffic accidents. Finnegan stated that changing the timing of the light only changed where the accidents happen. Ed Mangold, deputy coordinator of Jefferson’s Office of Emergency Management, inquired why previously requested traffic interrupters have not been received. (Traffic interrupters control the light and the traffic flow to allow emergency vehicles to pass safely.) Sytko promised to investigate the status of traffic interrupters with his team.

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Meet Your New Mayor: Eric Wilsusen Wilsusen Sworn in as First New Mayor in 20 Years By April Leaver

When Lake Shawnee resident Eric Wilsusen took the oath of office at the January 2 Town Council meeting, he became Jefferson’s first new mayor in 20 years. Winning the June primary, he ran unopposed in the November general election. The Jefferson Chronicle sat down with Wilsusen to discuss his background and plans for the township.

Is Key, alternate on the Lake Hopatcong Commission, and past chief and life member of Jefferson Fire Company Number 2. He is currently president of the Lake Shawnee Club, president of the high school PTA, and trustee at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church. When asked if he would maintain his volunteer positions during his term as mayor, Wilsusen told The Chronicle that he planned to continue serving Star of the Sea and the Lake Shawnee Club. He acknowledged the great help provided at the club by his sister, Lisa, and a fantastic board of volunteers. His PTA obligation ends with the graduation of his younger child from high school this year.

How He Got Here

Wilsusen served on Jefferson’s police force for more than 30 years, most The mayor does have a part-time recently as deputy chief. He was also position as director of child and Jefferson’s first new mayor in 20 years. (Photo: April Leaver) the community services officer for youth protection for the Diocese of nine years and the department’s first Drug Abuse Paterson. He expects to be in the municipal building on Resistance Education (DARE) officer, affectionately known Fridays, his day off. It would be more difficult to maintain as Officer Eric. both his volunteerism and visibility as mayor if his salaried However, Wilsusen’s contributions did not stop at the municipal building. He has been president of the high school Girls Soccer Booster Club, vice president of Jefferson Youth Soccer, board member for Morris County Prevention

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job were full-time, he admitted. Wilsusen expressed deep appreciation for outgoing mayor Russ Felter as well as outgoing administrator James Leach for their respective 24 and 52 years of public service.

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


The new mayor benefited from several months of preparation before assuming his office. During that time, he was able to work on the municipal budget and meet with department heads. Wilsusen credited Felter’s assistance for the successful transition. The new mayor agrees with his predecessor’s claim that the town is in good financial condition. He will continue solid long-range planning to ensure Jefferson’s fiscal health and will keep Felter’s long-held motto. “One town, one future,” he said, “is still applicable today.” During his first mayoral speech, Wilsusen choked up when thanking his wife, Kristine – “my rainbows and unicorn girl” – for her support. He presented flowers to her, his daughters, Karly and Katelyn, and his mother, Joan. He also thanked his other family members, running mates, and colleagues who had supported his campaign. Special appreciation was expressed for his father, a former Jefferson deputy police chief, who had encouraged him to enter public service 33 years ago and passed away in 2011. “He certainly shaped me into what I am today. I know he is smiling upon me.” Where He’s Going: Wilsusen Plans to Fulfill Campaign Promises Wilsusen’s goal to increase Jefferson’s communication with residents begins by redesigning the municipal website and expanding the town’s social media presence. Funding has been requested in the 2019 budget for website development as well as a college intern. The student would assist with social media and a local newsletter, such as those printed by neighboring Dover and Rockaway Township. The Chronicle was acknowledged in Wilsusen’s first speech for its online news platform and the introduction of a monthly print issue. When The Chronicle asked about Facebook, Wilsusen replied that on the new mayor’s page, unlike the former page, residents’ comments will require approval prior to posting in order to prevent the occasional inappropriate comments that occurred previously. However, residents will be able to message the mayor directly. Economic development was a priority topic during Wilsusen’s campaign. Some of the hurdles that must be overcome to attract new ratables include the economy and the Highlands Act, which restricts sewers and limits growth in order to encourage environmental preservation.

The entire family came out to support Wilsusen at the induction ceremony. (Photo: April Leaver)

Jefferson’s economic development advisory board is on the books, though currently inactive. Wilsusen intends to work with the council to activate the board, hear from experts in the community, and share ideas with neighboring towns to stimulate growth. Wilsusen Has an Ambitious To-Do List During the transition time between his primary win and taking office, Wilsusen created a list of tasks in addition to the changes promised during the campaign – joking that his notes are now seven pages long. He spoke with The Chronicle about some of those projects and his goals. Municipal management software is a priority, needed to “bring the town into the 21st century.” The mayor stated that the software is not expensive and would make municipal employees more effective. The fire bureau, billing department, code enforcement, and health department are still using paper files, although some documents are being scanned in an effort to modernize. New software could track requests, permits, and the status of paperwork. The Department of Public Works could create work orders and residents could report issues such as potholes through a phone app. Software would assist the clerk with Open Public Records Act request fulfillment. Prospective vendors are currently under review. Previous retirement and termination separation agreements that fall outside contract terms or policy guidelines have been a hot topic around town. Wilsusen stated during his first mayoral address, “Beginning today, I will not present to the council nor will I sign any agreement that does not comply with current laws, rules, and policies.” Questioned on whether he believes such separation agreements significantly affect residents’ taxes, Wilsusen told The Chronicle,

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“No – 60% of taxes are due to the Board of Education; only 27% are controlled by the municipal government. However, the town often takes the heat because the town collects the taxes.” Nevertheless, he understands residents’ concerns and does not want separation agreements outside of the provided guidelines. Wilsusen mentioned the need to investigate recycling plans. Because China is no longer accepting plastics, costs have increased. According to a June 2018 National Geographic article, China handled nearly half of all recyclable plastics from the U.S. and other countries. In early 2018, China announced it would no longer accept plastics, citing local environmental concerns. Costs have skyrocketed and left communities scrambling for alternatives. As stated in National Geographic, “China’s new policy could displace as much as 111 million metric tons of plastic waste by 2030.” Wilsusen wants to research alternative recycling measures to mitigate the town’s expenses. Who Are the Key Contacts for the New Mayor? The role of business administrator is critical for the new mayor. That person oversees the day-to-day tasks, acting as an extension of the mayor by doing the “heavy lifting” to ensure that his priorities are investigated, scheduled, and implemented. The search is in process with the assistance of an executive search firm, The Canning Group LLC. With the application deadline now passed, the firm is screening applicants and will narrow the pool to approximately five

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strong candidates. The interim business administrator, John Eskilson, began his term in Jefferson on January 7 after serving in similar positions for Hopatcong, Hardyston, and Sussex County. He can be reached at jeskilson@jeffersontownship.net or 973-208-6102. Also integral to the mayor’s success is his administrative assistant, Joanne Meyer, who planned the induction ceremony along with township clerk Michele Reilly. Both received Wilsusen’s high praise. Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@jeffersontownship.net or 973-208-6102. Wilsusen can be contacted directly via email at mayor@jeffersontownship.net. Other Appointments to Be Determined Appointments for positions such as township attorney, labor attorney, and township engineer are in process. Appointments to volunteer groups such as the municipal alliance and recreation board are also needed. Multiple organizations have openings, and Wilsusen encourages all interested residents to submit a letter of application. Moving Forward Mayor Wilsusen looks forward to exciting changes that will come through teamwork. He knows that one person cannot do it alone; with the help of a strong staff, he is confident of a positive outcome.

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


For What It’s Worth

Yippee-Ki-Yay By Tony Haryn

Looking back at your life, you probably met a few characters who stayed with you: a mean boss, crazy girlfriend, or person you would have liked to forget after a one-moment encounter. I have been lucky enough to meet quite a few characters, and have written about them in my column. Rich Perry was our town fire chief with a heart of gold and a funny bone to match. Because of him, I am not still on my roof, where I discovered my fear of heights. Rich laughed at me over the loudspeaker of his fire truck while saying things like, “What goes up must come down, Tony!” Rich pushed me down that roof onto his ladder from embarrassment alone. Another character was Bill Jacobs, an auxiliary policeman and the Spanish interpreter for Passaic County. Bill and I worked at an office supply company, but he was a cop 24/7. One time we were making a delivery when Bill spotted two young thugs who had robbed an old lady of her purse. He drove with one hand and waved a gun out the window with the other. I was in the passenger seat wondering – not if I was going to die, but if I could make it to a bathroom before having an accident on the seat of the truck! Bill got the two kids, and I found an alleyway in time. The other day, watching a spaghetti western, I came to the conclusion that I could never be a cowboy. Horses have no power windows, so the Wild West days were out for me. Then I remembered that I had once known a true cowboy. Willard Squire was a real character. When we met, I was 10 years old and he was a bit of a recluse in his 80s. He lived next to my aunt and uncle in upstate New York in a large house about a quarter of a mile off the main road behind a hundred trees, so it could not be seen. This was in the early 1960s, but he drove a 1946 Dodge that he kept in a carriage house along with his horse and buggy. A little over five feet tall, he weighed 94 pounds soaking wet. Willard’s wife had passed, and he spoke to no one but my aunt – who could make a tree talk. He had a large-scale train set outdoors, and would get on the steam engine to ride the train (with flat and box cars) around the house. He built his own train sets that ran in a room inside the house. With a complete collection of National Geographic, he educated himself about the world. Willard took a liking to me because I always listened and never spoke out of turn. One day, he told me about his cowboy days in the late 1890s. After reading dime store western novels about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson, the young man decided to go west himself. He ended up in the Montana/Wyoming territories, where his experience on the New York farm helped him get jobs as a ranch hand. He went the full route with blue jeans, cowboy boots, spurs, Stetson hat, chaps, and finally a pair of Colt .45 revolvers. One day Willard was in town at the local saloon, playing cards and drinking with a few cowboys. One of them accused him of cheating. Words started to fly, tempers flared, and Willard shot and killed the other cowboy. He packed up the next day and went home to upstate New York; his cowboy days were over. He told me he buried the two Colts on his property so they would never hurt anyone again. My aunt took care of Willard until he passed away in his mid to late 90s. He left her his house and all that was in it, but never revealed where he had buried the guns. When you kill a man, you take away everything that he was or would become. I think it also took a little bit of Willard. www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com

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New Year, New Mayor, New Council Member By April Leaver

Available parking spaces and chairs were a rare find at the Town Council meeting held at the municipal building on January 2. The house was packed with well-wishers for Eric Wilsusen, Jefferson’s first new mayor in 20 years. Induction ceremonies were held for Wilsusen (top photo), reelected council members Debi Merz (2nd photo) and Kim Finnegan (3rd photo), and council newcomer Melissa Senatore (bottom photo). Continuing council members are Robert Birmingham and Jay Dunham. The new council elected Merz to continue as president and Finnegan to serve as vice president. During its first meeting of the new year, the Town Council discussed several proposed resolutions. Some were approved while others, requiring additional information or clarification, were postponed to a future meeting. Residents also had an opportunity to raise concerns. Town Council meetings are open to the public. They generally take place on the first and third Wednesday of each month in the municipal building (1033 Weldon Road) at 7 p.m. To see agendas as well as minutes of past meetings, visit the Jefferson Township website and scroll down to Meeting Schedules, Agendas, Minutes. (Photos 1, 2, and 4 by April Leaver; 3rd photo courtesy of Joe O’Donnell)

J-Town Tidbits J-Town Tidbit #1: Jefferson Township was formed in 1804 by an act of the New Jersey Legislature from portions of Roxbury and Pequannock townships and named for then-president Thomas Jefferson. Its 43.108 square miles include almost four square miles of water. Situated in the northernmost section of Morris County, the township borders Mount Arlington, Rockaway, Roxbury, and Wharton in Morris County; West Milford in Passaic County; and Hardyston, Hopatcong, and Sparta in Sussex County. Jefferson is geographically divided by Mahlon Dickerson Reservation and Saffin Pond into two main communities, Milton and Lake Hopatcong, both of which include various unincorporated areas such as those built around small lakes. Part of the Pequannock River Watershed is located in Jefferson and owned by Newark, a city in Essex County. J-Town Tidbit #2: Jefferson Township offers many social opportunities for residents age 55 and over through two very active senior clubs. Members enjoy activities and participate in numerous trips and special events. Note: On holidays and in cases of inclement weather or school cancellation, confirm in advance that a meeting will be held. Golden Age Club: Meets on 2nd and 4th Mondays at 1:00 p.m. at the Senior Center (54 School House Road, Milton). Contact: President Jim Hill, 973-697-1529, jimhill1stof5@gmail.com Lakeland Senior Citizens Club: Meets every other Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. at Camp Jefferson’s Community Lodge (81 Weldon Road, Lake Hopatcong). Contact: President Susan Lee, 973-663-3938, surl449@yahoo.com

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Compiled by Carol Punturieri The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


Event Calendar Events are subject to change or cancellation without prior notice. LH = Lake Hopatcong OR = Oak Ridge

Event

Date/Time

Where

Teen Scene/ Valentines for Vets

Tues., Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. 973-617-7041

81 Weldon Rd., LH

Lakeland Seniors Meeting

Tues., Feb. 19, 12:45 p.m. 973-663-5060

81 Weldon Rd., LH

Policemen’s Benevolent Association #190 Beefsteak Dinner

Sat., Feb. 23, 7 p.m. 204 Espanong Rd., LH Tickets $50 from any PBA member in advance. No tickets at the door.

Saffin Pond Swim Team Winter Meet and Greet

Sun., Feb. 24, 2 p.m. 81 Weldon Rd., LH SaffinPondSwimTeam@gmail.com

Sunday Afternoons in France (Sunday Movie Series)

Sun., Feb. 24, 2 p.m. 1031 Weldon Rd., LH 973-208-6244 jeffersonlibrary.net

Mommy/Daddy and Me Yoga

Mon., Feb. 25, 10:30 a.m. 1031 Weldon Rd., LH 973-208-6244 jeffersonlibrary.net

Chess for All Ages

Tues., Feb. 26, 7 p.m. 1031 Weldon Rd., LH 973-208-6244 jeffersonlibrary.net

Jefferson Democrats Monthly Meeting

Thurs., Feb. 28, 7 p.m. 54 School House Rd., OR www.jeffersonnjdems.com

2nd Annual Pasta Dinner and Tricky Tray

Sat., Mar. 2, 7 p.m. jthsblax@gmail.com

Knee Deep Club Ice Fishing Contest #3

Sun., Mar. 3, 6 a.m. Lake Hopatcong 973-663-3826 www.kneedeepclub.org

Psychic/Medium Fundraiser $40 per Ticket

Sun., Mar. 3, 1 p.m. 81 Weldon Rd., LH SaffinPondSwimTeam@gmail.com

Soccer Referee Event Grade 9 Course

Sat., Mar. 9, 8 a.m. 204 Espanong Rd., LH jbuttenmuller12@gmail.com

St. Patrick's Day Trivia at The Windlass

Tues., Mar. 12, 7 p.m. 45 Nolan's Point Park Rd., LH 973-663-3190 www.thewindlass.com

3rd Annual Musical Petting Zoo

Sat., Mar. 23, 10 a.m. lkulick@jefftwp.org

JCPTA’s Candyland Tricky Tray

Fri., Mar. 29, 6 p.m. Zeris Inn, 372 Rt. 46 E www.squareup.com/store/jcpta Mountain Lakes

1st Annual Lake Shawnee Superheroes Family-Friendly Run/Walk

Sat., Mar. 30, 7:30 a.m. 4 West Shawnee Tr., LH LakeShawneeSuperHero369@gmail.com www.facebook.com/LakeShawneeSuperHero3.6.9

our Lady Star of the Sea Flea Market/Craft Fair

Sat., Mar. 30, 9 a.m. 204 Espanong Rd., LH olsos.craftfleamarket@gmail.com

Breakfast with Easter Bunny The Windlass

Sun., Apr. 14, 9 a.m. 45 Nolan's Point Park Rd., LH 973-663-3190 www.thewindlass.com

Annual Designer Handbag Bingo/Tricky Tray

Fri., May 10, 5:30 p.m. 1031 Weldon Rd., LH artscommittee@jeffersonarts.org

28 Legion Rd., OR

1000 Weldon Rd., OR

Event Calendar Post your event online* FREE: www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com/events *Selected events will be printed in the DIGEST.

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Academy Provides Students an Educational Climate for Adapting to Environmental Change By Jane Primerano

The first students in the Morris County Technical School Environmental Academy are halfway through their junior year at Jefferson Township High School. Two more cohorts are coming up through the academy, which instructor Dr. Nancy FitzGerald considers a resounding success. Vocational education had to reinvent itself, FitzGerald pointed out, as the needs of high school students changed from an emphasis on skilled trades to an equal emphasis on college-prep technical fields. Part of that reinvention for Morris County Vocational School was to create academies outside its Denville campus. According to Shari Castelli of the tech school, the idea for an environmental academy in Jefferson came from the community. Because of Lake Hopatcong and all the township’s open space, Jefferson is the ideal location, she stated. Juniors are weighing their options for next year, said FitzGerald. They can remain at the high school or earn up to 24 college credits through Kean University, County College of Morris, Centenary University, or Ramapo College of New Jersey. Kean’s Environmental School campus is just

10 minutes away, she noted, although that campus does not offer general education courses. The 43 students in the program, including a number of Jefferson residents, are from Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties. Originally the tech school targeted only Morris County students, as it does for all its academies, and later opened it to a wider audience. Junior Aiden Kelleher from Hope (Belvidere High School) travels the farthest. The academy recruits from the school he attended, Ridge and Valley Charter Aiden Kelleher with the controls for his weather station. (Photo: Jane Primerano) School, where the curriculum is based on sustainability and the environment. Students from other counties may attend if there is no comparable program in their own area, said FitzGerald. Freshmen start the program with an introduction to environmental systems. Sophomores have an intro to ecological design in the fall and environmental research design in the spring. Juniors study human ecology, climate change biology, and environmental engineering. Next year, seniors will do research and field work in environmental science and study global issues in environmental sustainability. The environmental academy lab includes a greenhouse where students learn about hydroponic agriculture. Last year, they grew herbs and sold them, along with spices and teas, at the environmental fair in the high school cafeteria. Lake Hopatcong serves as a laboratory, including a class on Study Hull, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s floating classroom. Academy students receive the results of all water tests done on the boat. They analyze the data, create spreadsheets, and make presentations. They also received data from the foundation’s lake-wide cleanup in the fall, categorizing the discarded material by type and location. FitzGerald noted the huge amount of cigarette filters found in the vicinity of lakeside restaurants. She was not surprised at the number of bottles and cans in Byram Cove, an area well known for partying. “The students suggested an awareness project about the lake,” she said. Such projects are part of the human ecology section of the curriculum. Students learn about how humans relate to the natural world, for good and ill; the sources of pollution; and

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The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


the possibilities for remediation. Individual students pursue their own interests.

“It’s the way the clouds go up and over Sparta Mountain,” he explained. “It brings more precipitation.” Although he would love to be a storm chaser, he conceded that his mother is not thrilled with that career goal.

Morgan Brown of Jefferson, whose interest is environmental health science, is working on a demonstration project on bioluminescence in single-cell organisms. She made a presentation to students and professionals, and is considering a college major in marine biology or emergency services. “We should definitely be concerned about rising temperatures killing different species in the ocean,” she stated. Lillianne O’Connell of Mount Olive developed a project with microplastics in waterways and their effect on fish. “We check their breathing rate and their gills,” she said. Alyssa Sookraj of Wharton is concerned with both sustainability and diet. “The bug girl,” known for her interest in insects and tracing their biomass in the environment, is well-informed about the presence of beneficial and harmful insects. Aiden Kelleher built a weather station for the lab. His interest in meteorology extends to recording weather trends and temperatures. He also answered a common question about Jefferson High School: Why does it snow more there than anyplace else in the county?

Jennifer Wnuk, supervisor of English Language Arts, works with FitzGerald on the curriculum as well as on speaking and listening skills for the students. Although the academy is in the STEM universe (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), presentations can be a large part of the students’ future. Morgan Brown and Lillianne O’Connell in the greenhouse. (Photo: Jane Primerano)

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The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


Wawa and Medical Center: Cure for Former Pathmark Site Plans Closer to Fruition By April Leaver

Redevelopment of the former Pathmark site on Route 15 was a hot discussion topic at the crowded Town Council meeting on January 16. Mayor Eric Wilsusen began his summary of the current status of the project by acknowledging that many residents hoped to have a supermarket back in the area. However, competition from nearby food stores and a new mega ShopRite being built in Sparta hampered Jefferson’s effort to secure one for this prime spot.

from local business owners concerned about possible diversion of customer traffic. Wawa would have a 20-year lease; because the company wishes to allow for future expansion, exclusion of table service would limit such a possibility. The current local ordinance also prohibits the installation of gas pumps within 2,000 feet of another station. However, Wawa does not want any restrictions on the site. According to Benecke, the property is in a C-2 highway commercial zone, which essentially allows any type of business including restaurants and gas stations. According to the Town Council, however, while the current ordinance does permit a convenience store, the prohibition against gas pumps within 2,000 feet applies, and the adjacent BP station is within that distance. A properly drafted redevelopment plan would supersede the current ordinance. Without an amended plan, ARCTRUST would be required to apply for a variance before the Board of Adjustment, further delaying the project. Time Is of the Essence Wilsusen reported that the unnamed owner of the proposed medical facility has a time constraint; Prime added that the owner has options for other locations that are time sensitive. If the project does not move forward, he said, ARCTRUST might demolish the building to lower taxes until the situation is resolved. continued on page 17

Robert Benecke discussed redevelopment plan challenges. (Photo: April Leaver)

Robert Benecke of Benecke and Associates, who was contracted in September 2018 to create a redevelopment plan, presented a proposal to the council. ARCTRUST of Clifton, which currently owns the site, was represented in the audience by Marc Perel and Neil Doornheim. Who Is Interested in the Site? Wawa is the primary prospective tenant, according to Timothy Prime of Prime Law, counsel for ARCTRUST. Prime stated that Wawa is interested in building a combination convenience store and gas station on a portion of the land closest to Route 15 South. In addition, an unnamed medical center is interested in the land area where the former Pathmark building is situated. Prime has been working with the previous township administration since August 2017 to define “convenience store” within the project plan. The possible tenants are not happy with the current restrictions, and the owners are frustrated with the process delay. Prime told the council, “The restrictions included in the ordinance are not acceptable to Wawa. They will not develop based on the proposed plan.” Problems with the Original Plan Benecke explained that the original redevelopment plan excludes restaurants with table service based on feedback www.TheJeffersonChronicle.com

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The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


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The redevelopment plan will override the current ordinance restriction and can now move on to the Planning Board for further consideration, such as traffic issues. The Board of Adjustment does not have to review it because no variance is currently required.

In addition, because new Wawa models typically have a convenience store and a gas station on site, Prime raised concerns that Wawa could walk away from the deal if alterations are not made to the plan. Mixed Reactions from Residents

Council Had a Decision to Make Due to the introductory nature of the redevelopment plan, the council had a choice to amend the plan, walk away from it, or send it back to the Planning Board for revision. The council opted to amend the plan and remove restrictive language. Wilsusen told The Jefferson Chronicle, “The council removed the restrictive definition of convenience store/restaurant because it is a permitted use under the current ordinance.” Language was also changed to allow gas pumps.

Based on past social media posts, some residents are excited about the prospect of a Wawa, but others are disappointed that a food store could not be attracted. In May 2018, American True Value Hardware owner Eric Schaberick said that he looked forward to any tenant that would attract more traffic to the area. (See “Pathmark Rx Hard to Swallow for Some” online.) The Chronicle has followed the progress of the redevelopment project closely and will continue to monitor it through upcoming phases.

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In Brief

in person, by phone, or at the door. For more information, contact Jean or Carol at artscommittee@jeffersonarts.org.

Arts Committee Annual Designer Handbag Bingo/Tricky Tray on May 10

Lake Hopatcong Foundation “Pulls In” to New Home at Historic Lake Hopatcong Train Station

The eighth annual bingo fundraiser and tricky tray will be hosted by the Jefferson Arts Committee on Friday, May 10, in the high school cafeterias (1010 Weldon Road). The door opens at 5:30 and calling begins at 7:00. The popular event features numerous well-known designer handbags including Coach, DKNY, Kate Spade, Vera Bradley, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Fossil, Dooney & Bourke, and Michael Kors. The admission fee of $25 includes three bingo boards for each of the 20 games, providing 60 chances to win a handbag. Extra bingo boards can be pre-ordered; daubers must be used. Other options include a special tricky tray (featuring wallets, wristlets, scarves, gift cards and certificates, jewelry, handbags, fragrances, and surprises); 50/50 raffle; wheel of chance to win additional designer handbags; and tickets for “specials” and “super specials.” Up to eight people can be accommodated at reserved tables. Forms will be available soon at the public library and posted on http://jeffersonarts.org/forms.html and www.facebook.com/JACHandbagBingo. Forms can also be mailed by request. No reservations will be accepted

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The former Lake Hopatcong train station in Landing. (Photo provided by the County of Morris)

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation rang in the new year at its new home in the Lake Hopatcong train station building (125 Landing Road, Landing). Although rehabilitation work is ongoing, the office area on the left side of the building is in full use. An open house will be held in the spring. Other plans for 2019 include hosting a Smithsonian exhibit in the summer and beginning various programming efforts in the new community space: Lake Hopatcong Environmental and Cultural Center.

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST • February 2019


The foundation appreciates all those who made the move possible: the Camp Six family that donated office space for nearly seven years, the volunteers who participated in the building and grounds cleanup in November 2014, the project management team, and everyone who contributed financially. Information will be provided as the next phases of the project are completed.

New President and Vice President for Board of Education By Tyler Delp Matt Millar was chosen by his colleagues to serve as president of the Jefferson Township Board of Education at the annual organizational meeting on January 7. Millar is filling the position formerly held by longtime board member Jill Van Ness. Stacey Poulas was voted vice president. Christopher Natale and Lary Wasserman began their first terms following election in November, and Amy Gould began a new term following reelection. She was appointed delegate to the Morris County Educational Services Commission; Michael Stewart was appointed delegate to the New Jersey School Boards Association and the Morris County School Boards Association. The Board of Education generally meets on the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the high school media center (1010 Weldon Road). Due to holidays, some meeting dates may be changed.

themselves and household members to help OEM identify individuals with special needs during an emergency, such as evacuation or extended power outage. The Police Department is currently installing the equipment needed to send them separate messages. Additional information might include mobility limitations, life-sustaining equipment, health issues, prescription medications, pets and young children, floor plans, property hazards, and the best access routes – all of which can be accessed by the dispatcher when 911 is called from a registered phone number. Note: The phone number must be verified when enrolling; otherwise, the user will receive only Rave Alerts rather than personalized assistance. Police dispatcher Fred Claus, who serves as OEM’s deputy coordinator, noted that the Smart911 phone app can send alerts issued in any location within the past 24 hours. Therefore, users with the app can receive alerts while traveling in other areas. Residents without computers and those with questions may contact Shelley Ebbinghouser in OEM at 973-208-6151 or squenault@jeffersonpolice.com. To sign up for the Rave Alert system, visit http://bit.ly/RaveAlertSystem.

New Rave Emergency Alert System Offers Additional Features By Billie Burke The new Rave Alert system, powered by Smart911, has replaced the Honeywell system in Jefferson Township and throughout Morris County. Rave provides residents with emergency notifications through their preferred channels of communication (landline, cell, SMS, social media, and so on). Residents who were previously enrolled in Honeywell have been automatically transferred to Rave – if they provided a phone number. Otherwise, they must re-register with Rave. Rave Alert is coordinated by the township’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM). To receive alerts, the minimum information requested is name, email address (if available), phone number, and street address. When signing up, residents can add optional information about

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Profile for The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST - Premier February 2019 Issue  

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST is a monthly full color magazine - a "digest" of the prior month's most talked about township news and inform...

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST - Premier February 2019 Issue  

The Jefferson Chronicle DIGEST is a monthly full color magazine - a "digest" of the prior month's most talked about township news and inform...