From the desk of Thomas S. Russo, Jr.

Apr 06

April 6, 2020

Posted on April 6, 2020 at 12:12 PM by Thomas Russo, Jr.

Good afternoon,

I hope this blog post founds you all safe and well.  I am heartened to see the love and support demonstrated by Newton residents as they pull together to get through this international pandemic.  Although times are difficult and we are not physically connected as normal, we are still able to support one another remotely with communication, prayer, and thoughts and visions of a better tomorrow.

Your local government team members continue to work diligently to provide necessary services as much as possible.  The Continuity of Government plan I implemented several weeks ago remains in effect; staggered schedules here at Town Hall enable us to perform most tasks; remote access for administrative personnel allows us to perform certain duties from remote locations; and emergency services personnel are continuing to provide critical support to our residents and businesses.  My thanks and gratitude go out to all Newton staff members and volunteers who are stepping up during this pandemic to support our community.  Though it is not easy, it is certainly appreciated.

I find times like this really stretch our comfort and sensibilities, but through resiliency and adaptability, we will all persevere.  Please contact us here at Town Hall via email or phone if we can be of assistance during this difficult time.  If we can not assist you directly, we will try to find resources to help.  And as always, please stay Newton strong and do your part with proper social distancing, hand washing, etc.

Finally, please remember to call, email, video chat, or text family members, friends, and work colleagues during this time.  We are all managing this crisis to the best of our abilities, but it is important to check in on one another to ensure no one is left behind.


PS - remember to patronize the local businesses that remain open - thank them and their staff members for doing the work they are doing so we can all still function as a community.

Be safe and well...I will be on Facebook Live on Thursday at 2pm for additional updates...
Mar 28

March 28, 2020

Posted on March 28, 2020 at 9:27 AM by Thomas Russo, Jr.

Good morning,

I hope this blog post finds you all safe and well.  It has been some time since I posted some thoughts here and a rainy Saturday morning seemed to offer the perfect time to do so.

I want to thank Newton residents for taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously in so far as following local, county, state, and national guidelines.  It is not easy for normally social people to now retrench into their homes while a virus ravages our nation but we are resilient and will come through this.

I was saddened, as all of you were, to learn about the first fatality from COVID-19 in Newton and Sussex County last evening.  We pray for her soul and the family members who now deal with this terrible loss.

Please, I beg of all of you, take this seriously.  Vigilance and diligence are required at this time.  Although sometimes it feels surreal - like out of a Twilight Zone episode - this virus is changing our way of life, but more directly, it is impacting families, loved ones, neighbors, and people of all ages, races, income levels, etc.  This virus does not discriminate - it is deadly and could impact any one of us.

Your local government has been prepared from the beginning as I believed early on that we needed to be on top of things locally in spite of what might occur at the state or national levels.  We implemented a written continuity of government plan; staggered DPW work schedules; implemented various safety protocols for emergency services personnel; closed the municipal building to the public while allowing administrative team members to work from home on a staggered scheduled basis.  We miss seeing our customers in person but remain available via telephone and email to service your needs to the very best of our ability.

If you are looking for resources regarding this pandemic, may I respectfully recommend the following:
Call: 2-1-1
Text: NJCOVID to 898-211
Text: your ZIP Code to 898-211 for live text assistance

As the days progress, we will see the number of cases in Newton and Sussex County most likely rise, including more fatalities.  Pray for the first responders and healthcare professionals who are working day and night to keep us safe and healthy.  Their work is not easy but has never been more important.

Last night and this morning were tearful for me.  This is getting more real as the hours and days progress.  But if we remain united (even from 6-feet apart), we will get through this.  Take care of yourselves, your families, and loved ones, and don't hesitate to reach out if you need advice or assistance.

God bless,

Mar 13

March 12, 2020

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 11:10 AM by Thomas Russo, Jr.

Information will continue to be disseminated both to staff and public regarding COVID-19. Please be alert and safe.

Several events have been canceled or postponed thus far including: Census Meeting, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Senior Luncheon, Easter Egg Decorating Event, and Easter Egg Hunt.

Jim Holmes has installed additional remote access capabilities for several staff members.

We are researching various remote group meeting applications.

The Senior Bus continues to operate but may be discontinued.

I am currently reviewing all conferences, training, meetings, seminars, and educational classes, to see what commitments need to be canceled.

I am in frequent contact with Newton OEM, Sussex County Health Department, NJ Health Department, CDC, Newton Medical Center, Newton School District, SC Chamber of Commerce, NJMMA, NJSLOM, and NJ DCA.

The Newton Public Schools will operate on an early dismissal schedule on Friday, March 13th and Monday, March 16th to provide teaching staff the opportunity to plan for up to two (2) weeks of guided learning experiences in case a health-related school closure should become necessary.

AOC is suspending new jury trials and any non-essential education. We may consider closing the building to future court dates in Newton starting Tuesday, March 24th.

OEM Meeting scheduled for today at 1:30pm.

Memo going out to Prime Time Seniors restricting use of Firehouse No. 1 for activities until further notice.

Waiting for price quotes from Chelbus Cleaning to see about additional cleaning days or surfaces; also inquiring about cleaning Morris Lake, Sewer Plant, and DPW facilities which are currently done in-house.

The following website links have been placed on social media and Town website: Sussex County, NJ Department of Health, CDC.

The next regular Town Council meeting is Monday, March 23rd at 7:00pm.

Morris Lake is 1 inch above the top of the spillway as of March 9, 2020.

Several of us attended the Purchasing Seminar in Harding, NJ done by The Canning Group.

Routine business discussed this week at our quarterly Safety Committee meeting.

A draft agreement with the Newton Swim Team has been created and disseminated.

A draft fee ordinance is being created by the Town Attorney for review.

Work has commenced on the bi-annual revisions to the Newton Employee Handbook.

Job ads are up on the Town website for summer interns, pool lifeguards, and pool recreation aides.

Enjoy your weekend. Stay Informed. Remain Educated. Be Prepared.

Yours in Service,