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MANAGER'S BLOG

From the desk of Thomas S. Russo, Jr.

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:
covid19.nj.gov
cdc.gov/coronavirus
sussex.nj.us/covid19
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,
Tom




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.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW
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,
TSRJR
Mar 05

March 5, 2020

Posted on March 5, 2020 at 2:08 PM by Kat Walker

There is a volunteer interview scheduled for this Monday, March 9, 2020 beginning at 6:45pm and our regular Town Council meeting will immediately follow at 7:00pm.  The volunteer application has been shared on the Google Drive. 

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Lorraine’s office has prepared the minutes from the February 24th Special and Regular meetings for your consideration and approval.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

This is for those that wish to address the Town Council but do not plan on staying for the whole meeting.  There is a note to the public on the agenda to please keep their comments to a maximum of 5 minutes and they are limited to one turn at the microphone.  This allows ample time for all whom wish to speak and keeps the meeting moving forward.  The public can speak on any matter. Council may or may not choose to comment after the entire public portion has concluded.

COUNCIL & MANAGER REPORTS

Each Councilmember can give an update on various items or Board/Commission actions that have taken place recently.

ORDINANCES

There are three ordinances for public hearing and adoption:

Ordinance 2020-3 will authorize the renewal of SECTV’s non-exclusive franchise agreement to provide cable services to the Town of Newton.

Ordinance 2020-4 will establish a CAP Bank.  This is an annual procedure.

Ordinance 2020-5 will authorize the vacation of a small portion of Spring Street. 

OLD BUSINESS

Resolution #73-2020 will approve Change Orders No. 14 and 22 for Firehouse No. 2.  Tom Kosten of FKA, Project Architect, will be in attendance to answer any questions.

CONSENT AGENDA

Resolution #80-2020* will appoint Jarrod C. Cofrancesco, Esq., as the Town’s Alternate Prosecutor for calendar year 2020.  

Resolution #81-2020* will approve the introduction of the 2020 Municipal and Water Sewer Utility Budgets.

Resolution #82-2020* will authorize the credit to several utility accounts due to a glitch in our new computer system and the re-issuance of new utility bills.

Resolution #83-2020* will authorize credits due to water sewer utility accounts.

Resolution #84-2020* will authorize a refund to Jean Pierson due to an inaccurate meter reading on usage from a computer glitch prior to the sale of her property at 173 Spring Street.  

Resolution #85-2020* will authorize the refund of monies to an outside lien holder for Block 17.01, Lot 42, also known as 45 Mason Ave.

Resolution #86-2020* will approve bills and vouchers for payment.

DISCUSSION

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

COUNCIL & MANAGER COMMENTS

EXECUTIVE SESSION

THE WEEK IN REVIEW

Morris Lake is 1 inch above the top of the spillway as of March 2, 2020.  

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

I had a productive quarterly meeting with Dr. Greene this week.  He will attend our first meeting in April to review the proposed 2020 School Board Budget.

Several of us are attending the annual NJ Redevelopment Conference on Friday in New Brunswick, NJ.  Looking forward to learning about best practices throughout our State.

The design work for the G&H Redevelopment Plan continued this week.

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

Work continues on the 1st Annual Newton St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Hope to see everyone there on Saturday, March 21st at 11:00am.

Enjoy your weekend!

Yours in Service,

TSRJR