Minutes: October 14, 2021

YouTube video of the October 14, 2021 council meeting »

The regular meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was convened at 7:00 p.m. on October 14, 2021 via Zoom Webinar and in the Vernon Municipal Center, 21 Church Street, Vernon, New Jersey with Council President Harry Shortway presiding.

STATEMENT OF COMPLIANCE

Adequate notice of this meeting has been provided to the public and the press on January 6, 2021 and on October 7, 2021 and was posted on the bulletin board in the Municipal Building in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

ROLL CALL

Present were Council Members John Auberger, Andrew Pitsker and Council President Harry Shortway. Also present were Mayor Howard Burrell, Business Administrator Charles Voelker, Municipal Clerk Marcy Gianattasio and Township Attorney Josh Zielinski.

SALUTE TO THE FLAG

Council President Shortway led the assemblage in the salute to the flag.

Council Present Shortway announced that Council Member Weller has resigned on October 1, 2021. He said it was amazing she lasted as long a she did with the year that she had. She did a great job on the Council and she will be missed.

PUBLIC COMMENTS (For Current Agenda Items Only, Limited to 3 minutes per person)

Council President Shortway announce the according to the town code, please give us your name and where you live for the record and address the Council as a whole.

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open the meeting to public comments.
MOVED: John Auberger
SECOND: Andrew Pitsker
All members present voted in favor.

Jessi Paladini - refused to give her address saying it is not required, questions if Council President Shortway was exposed to Covid isn't he required to quarantine for 14 days.

Council President Shortway answered saying not according to CDC guidelines because he has been vaccinated.

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
MOTION: Andrew Pitsker
SECOND: John Auberger
All members present were in favor.

MINUTES

September 14, 2021 - Regular Meeting
September 27, 2021 - Regular Meeting
September 27, 2021 - Executive Session

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve the above meeting minutes.
MOVED: John Auberger
SECOND: Andrew Pitsker
All members present voted in favor.
Motion passed to approve the above meeting minutes.

RESOLUTIONS

Resolution #21-221: Resolution of Temporary Appointment to the Vernon Township Council Until the Next General Election Held on November 8, 2022

Council President Shortway asked if there were any nominations to the appointment to the Vernon Township Council.

Vice President Auberger said after reading the letters of interest he nominates Michael Furrey.

Seconded by Council Member Pitsker.

Council Member Pitsker explained that he had the honor of interviewing four candidates for this position and he was impressed by the quality and character of each of the candidates. These four people would bring new energy and perspective and he wishes he could give all of them the seat. Council Member Pitsker said he has to look at the current needs and chose who would move Vernon forward in the next year and who understands most of these issues concerning the town. What Council Member Pitsker has said to the candidates who have not been nominated or not chosen at this time, he encourages them to get involved in the town, volunteer on one of the committees and continue to engage in your local town's government. He also mentioned to all of the candidates during their dialogue that they are on his radar and he hopes they stay engaged. He would be happy to mentor them or find them a mentor to do so. He would be honored in the future to help seek positions in our government because we need new energy. Thank you all for taking the time and interest but we can only choose one candidate. Council Member Pitsker was impresses by their commitment, energy and enthusiasm.

Council Member Cilli sent an email that was read by the Municipal Clerk:

I apologize for not being at our first back in person meeting. I am very happy we are back and think having hybrid meetings are the best compromise for our community.

I am sorry I am not there in person tonight to vote for Kelly Weller's replacement but I wanted to add my comments. This may sound extremely hypocritical to some because of how I filled Jean Murphy's seat, but sitting in this seat for nine months you learn and try to do better.

I do think there needs to be more transparency when voting for a Council Person's replacement. After speaking with my husband who was on the Board of Ed for Vernon, I believe the Council should have had public interviews where all candidates are asked the same questions by Council Members then scored as the BOE has done. This way it is transparent and fair.

I spoke to all four candidates as I believe councilman Pitsker did. They all have great qualities which I truly believe would be beneficial to this council, one is on the Economic Development Committee and Vernon Coalition, one volunteered many hours to our ambulance squad, one has been an active volunteer in town for many years and serves on the MUA, and one has a young family in town and has experience with grant writing and receiving funding.

I would love all who put their names in for this opening, please consider running next November, if you do not get voted in tonight.

If what I am being told by Council President Shortway and Councilman Pitsker regarding the state of the MUA and it being the biggest issue Vernon faces right now, then I believe Mike Furrey is the best person to fill Kelly Weller's seat. His experience on the MUA and knowledge is critical to get our "Main Street" up and running. Mike has been a volunteer for many years, he served on the GAAC, MUA and has donated his time and knowledge to help the community test their water for free. Mike is a good person and I am confident he will do his best for Vernon and Vernon residents in the 12 months he has on the Council.

Council President Shortway said that he supports Mike Furrey's nomination to the Council to continue our move forward at a time when the SCMUA bonds will increase to $1.5 M, we begin the third phase of the Town Center Water Project, increase the sewer service area, litigation against SCMUA, and finally the replacement of Pump House II. Mr. Furrey has been a catalyst to bring these challenges forward based on his water, wastewater, and business and chemistry expertise.

Once Mr. Furrey became chairman, he and the other commissioners restructured the MUA resulting in a decrease of
45.2% in professional and legal fees
41.7% in engineering
11.3% in office expenses.
Total administration fees decreased by 36.6%

Resulting in an estimated savings of approximately $300,000 in 2020 alone. An estimated $600,000 in the last two years.

These changes resulted in no rate increases over the last 18 months and connection fees were cut in half.

In addition; Mr. Furrey has served the residents of our community for over twenty years on the Environmental Commission, Greenway Action Advisory Committee, MUA and other community volunteer groups.

Mr. Furrey performed analyticals on runoff from the illegal seven story landfill on Silver Spruce. These tests were undertaken at Mr. Furrey's own expense at his certified lab and found chemicals linked to cancer and other toxicants. The DEP was finally forced to take action when Mr. Furrey's findings were confirmed. The trucks finally were stopped from delivering their toxic cargo onto Silver Spruce.

The other candidates' letters of intent and resumes are remarkable, however, Mr. Furrey's municipal and experience coupled with his record of successes make him the clear choice to fill the seat vacated by Ms. Weller.

MOVED: John Auberger
SECOND: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Auberger, Pitsker, Shortway
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT: Cilli
Motion carried to approve resolution #21-221.

Township Attorney Josh Zielinski swore Michael Furrey in and administered the Oath of Office.

Mayor Burrell commented saying, first, I want to thank former Council Member Kelly Weller for the great job she did at representing the people of Vernon, and for her contributions to our collective efforts to make Vernon an even better place to live. She was a very good governing partner, and I will miss her.

Second, I want to thank those individuals who formally expressed their interest in filling the Council seat that was vacated by Ms. Weller. As Mayor, it's gratifying to me to know that there are those who want to join the town's governing body in our efforts to MOVE VERNON FORWARD.

And third, I want to thank the Council for their selection of an outstanding individual to replace Ms. Weller on the Council.

The candidate selected, Mr. Michael Furrey, has the kind of experiences, credentials, demonstrated sound logical thinking, and demonstrated concern for the present and future of our town, that will make him an asset to an already strong, positive, forward thinking, and productive Council.

Mr. Furrey's detailed knowledge of our town's MUA operation will be a major benefit to the residents of Vernon in his position as a Council Member.

His record as the Chair of the Vernon MUA is especially noteworthy. Under his leadership, the Vernon MUA worked close with the town's governing body:

1. To establish a more cost effective and efficient MUA management structure;

2. To reduce overall MUA expenses by nearly 600K$;

3. To lower the cost of MUA connection fees to Vernon residents and commercial enterprises by a significant 50%;

4. To complete a desperately needed MUA asset management plan; and ...

5. To move forward the New Jersey DEP's approval of the town's requested and a needed increase in our town's sewer service area; These accomplishments contributed significantly to enabling our town to avoid costly MUA service rate increases, for two consecutive years, to those resident users of our town's MUA managed sewer system.

Of the many positives that Mr. Furrey will bring to the Council, to me, none are more important than the facts that:

1. He joins the Council with "no axe to grind", or "no score to settle";

2. He joins the Council with the attitude of an individual who understands that grandstanding, or constantly labeling the actions and efforts of others as being "bad" or "wrong", without any logical or reasonable recommended solutions - - he comes to the Council with the understanding that this kind of behavior does not reflect good leadership; but instead, it reflects a recipe for bad, unproductive and stagnated government; and ...

3. He joins the Council with the attitude of an individual who understands the value to the people of Vernon of having a Council Member who is an independent thinker, but whose decisions are guided by wisely choosing the best available options that will allow the Town's governing body to MOVE VERNON FORWARD.

Thank you again Council for this wise decision; and welcome to the team, new Council Member Furrey!

Resolution #21-221: Resolution of Temporary Appointment to the Vernon Township Council Until the Next general Election Held on November 8, 2022

WHEREAS, Councilwomen Kelly Weller was elected to the Council of the Township of Vernon and sworn into office on January 1, 2020 for a four-year term; and

WHEREAS, on October 1, 2021 Councilwomen Kelly Weller resigned from the Council of the Township of Vernon; and

WHEREAS, the resignation of Councilwomen Kelly Weller has created a vacancy on the Council of the Township of Vernon ("Vacancy"); and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:16-5(b), the Vacancy shall be filed for its unexpired term at the next general election, which will be held on November 8, 2022; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:16-5(b) and N.J.S.A. 40A:16-12, the Council of the Township of Vernon may make a temporary appointment within thirty days of October 1, 2021 to fill the Vacancy until the next general election; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:16-7, the temporary appointment filling the Vacancy shall be by a majority vote of the remaining members of the Council;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Township of Vernon that:

1. Michael Furrey is hereby temporarily appointed as a Council Member to fill the vacancy on the Council of the Township of Vernon created by the resignation of Kelly Weller and shall serve until the general election held on November 8, 2022.

2. This Resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption according to law.

Council President Shortway official resigned from the MUA as a Commissioner effective immediately. He handed his letter of resignation to the Municipal Clerk to deliver to the appropriate people.

Resolution #21-208: Renewal of Pocket Liquor License (JD Vernon Lodge and Inn LLC) Requiring Special Ruling in the Township of Vernon for the 2021-2022 Licensing Term

Resolution #21-222: Resolution Appointing Fund Commissioner

Resolution #21-223: Resolution Appointing Risk Management Consultant

Resolution #21-224: Resolution Authorizing an Increase in the Change Fund for the Municipal Clerk of the Township of Vernon

Resolution #21-225: Authorizing a Date for Municipal Tax Sale

Resolution #21-226: Authorizing Electronic Tax Sale

Resolution #21-227: Approving Active Volunteer Firefighter for Membership in the New Jersey State Fireman's Association (Krystofik)

Resolution #21-228: Resolution Approving and Adopting a Township Policies and Procedures Manual

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to approve resolutions #21-208, #21-222, #21-223, #21-224, #21-225, #21-226, #21-227 and #21-228.

Council Member Pitsker asked when the new policy is going to be reviewed with the employees.

Township Administrator Voelker responded as soon as it is approved by the Council. Every employee will get a hard copy and we will be asking for a signature that they received it and they will be required to review it.

MOVED: Andrew Pitsker
SECOND: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Auberger, Pitsker, Furrey, Shortway
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT: Cilli
Motion carried to approve resolutions #21-208, #21-222, #21-223, #21-224, #21-225, #21-226, #21-227 and #21-228.

Resolution #21-208: Renewal of Pocket Liquor License (JD Vernon Lodge and Inn LLC) Requiring Special Ruling in the Township of Vernon for the 2021-2022 Licensing Term

WHEREAS, all licenses to disperse alcoholic beverages must be renewed and reissued annually; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.39 the following license required a Special Ruling by the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages as the license is currently in the pocket prior to its renewal; and

WHEREAS, the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages on August 30, 201 issued said special ruling for the 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 license terms; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-12.18 the following license required a Special Ruling by the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages as the license's failure to timely renew its license; and

WHEREAS, the State Division of Alcoholic Beverages on August 30, 201 issued said special ruling for the 2020-2021 license term; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 33:1-1 et. seq., the Vernon Township Police Department has made the necessary review of the license and reported same to the Township Clerk; and

WHEREAS, the licensee have complied with all of the regulations as set forth by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission of the State of New Jersey.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon that the following license shall be renewed as a pocket license for the 2021-2022 licensing period effective as of July 1, 2021.

PLENARY RETAIL CONSUMPTION
JD Vernon Lodge and Inn LLC (POCKET LICENSE) 1922-33-009-004

Resolution #21-222: Resolution Appointing Fund Commissioner

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon (hereinafter "Local Unit") is a member of the Statewide Insurance Fund (hereinafter "Fund"), a joint insurance fund as defined in N.J.S.A. 40A:10-36 et seq.; and

WHEREAS, the Fund's Bylaws require participating members to appoint a Fund Commissioner;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the governing body of the Township of Vernon, that Charles G. Voelker, is hereby appointed as the Fund Commissioner for the Local Unit for the Fund year 2022; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Donelle B. DeCouto, is hereby appointed as the Alternate Fund Commissioner for the Local Unit for the Fund Year 2022; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Local Unit's Fund Commissioner is authorized and directed to execute all such documents as required by the Fund.

Resolution #21-223: Resolution Appointing Risk Management Consultant

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon (hereinafter "Local Unit") has joined the Statewide Insurance Fund (hereinafter "Fund"), a joint insurance fund as defined in N.J.S.A. 40A:10-36 et seq.; and

WHEREAS, the Bylaws require participating members to appoint a Risk Management Consultant, as those positions are defined in the Bylaws, if requested to do so by the "Fund"; and

WHEREAS, the Local Unit has complied with relevant law with regard to the appointment of a Risk Management Consultant; and

WHEREAS, the "Fund" has requested its members to appoint individuals or entities to that position.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the governing body of "Local Unit", in the County of Sussex and State of New Jersey, as follows:

1. The Township of Vernon hereby appoints Frank Covelli of Professional Insurance Associates as its local Risk Management Consultant.

2. The Mayor of the Township of Vernon and Risk Management Consultant are hereby authorized to execute the Risk Management Consultant's Agreement for the year 2022.

Resolution #21-224: Resolution Authorizing an Increase in the Change Fund for the Municipal Clerk of the Township of Vernon

WHEREAS, N.J.S.A. 40A:5-21 Authorizes the establishment of a change fund in any county or municipality by resolution, and;

WHEREAS, Vernon Township has already established a change fund in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40A:5-21; and

WHEREAS, from time to time the Municipal Clerk is required to make change for cash payments received; and

WHEREAS, New Jersey State regulations allow change funds to be increased via governing body action;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon in the County of Sussex in the State of New Jersey, that the Municipal Clerk Offices increase the change fund to an amount not to exceed one-hundred dollars ($100.00) for the purpose of making change to ensure the proper exact payment due is paid.

BE IT FURTHER RESOVLED that the Vernon Township Chief Financial Officer is hereby authorized to issue the increase to the change fund in the amount of one-hundred dollars ($100.00) for use as set forth in this resolution.

Resolution #21-225: Authorizing a Date for Municipal Tax Sale

WHEREAS, the governing body of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, desires to collect all taxes, assessments and other municipal charges that are now delinquent; and

WHEREAS, The Tax Collector is directed to sell all municipal delinquencies through December 31, 2020 in a manner prescribed by N.J.S.A. 54:5-19, and as amended by Chapter 99, Public Laws of 1997.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, that the Tax Collector is hereby authorized and directed to sell all municipal liens in accordance with New Jersey law, both as stated above, on Monday, December 13, 2021 via Electronic Tax Sale.

Resolution #21-226: Authorizing Electronic Tax Sale

WHEREAS, NJSA 54:5-19.1 authorizes electronic tax sales pursuant to rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Director of the Division of Government Services, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has promulgated rules and regulations for electronic tax sales, and

WHEREAS, the Director of the Division of Local Government Services has approved NJ Tax Lien Investors/RealAuction.com to conduct electronic tax sales, and

WHEREAS, an electronic tax sale is innovative and provides a greater pool of potential lien buyers, thus creating the environment for a more complete tax sale process, and WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon wishes to participate in an electronic tax sale.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Council of the Township of Vernon, that the Tax Collector is hereby authorized to participate in an electronic tax sale and submit same to the Director of the Division of Local Government Services if necessary.

Resolution #21-227: Approving Active Volunteer Firefighter for Membership in the New Jersey State Fireman's Association (Krystofik)

WHEREAS, the Township Council recognizes the extraordinary contributions made by volunteer firefighters to our community and seeks to encourage their full participation in professional organizations; and

WHEREAS, Ronald C. Krystofik an active firefighter and member of the Vernon Volunteer Fire Department, is requesting approval to submit an application for membership to the New Jersey State Firemen's Association.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, Sussex County, New Jersey hereby approves Ronald C. Krystofik for membership in the New Jersey State Firemen's Association.

Resolution #21-228: Resolution Approving and Adopting a Township Policies and Procedures Manual

WHEREAS, the Township of Vernon has a Township of Vernon Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual effective October 1, 2005, and has determined that the adoption of a revised Policies and Procedures Manual is necessary due to changes in law and Township policies and procedures; and

WHEREAS, the Township Administration has prepared a revised Policies and Procedures Manual and has determined that the revised manual more accurately reflects current Township Policies and the adoption of the revised manual would be in the best interests of the Township as a public employer; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Township Council of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex and State of New Jersey as follows:

1. The Township Council adopts and approves the attached Township of Vernon Policies and Procedures Manual, which replaces and supersedes the October 1. 2005 Personnel Policy and Procedure Manual.

2. This resolution shall take effect immediately.

A copy of this Resolution will be placed on file with the Clerk of the Township.

INTRODUCTION/1ST READING OF PROPOSED ORDINANCES

Ordinance #21-33: Ordinance of the Township of Vernon, County of Sussex, State of New Jersey, Amending Chapter 476 of the Municipal Code of the Township of Vernon Entitled "Short-Term Rentals"

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #21-33

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #21-33
MOVED: Andrew Pitsker
SECOND: John Auberger

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Auberger, Pitsker, Furrey, Shortway
NAYS:
ABSTAIN:
ABSENT: Cilli
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #21-33

Ordinance #21-34: Ordinance Extending Lease Agreement between the Vernon Township Board of Education and the Township of Vernon, and Sub-Lease Agreement between the Township of Vernon and the Dog Owners Gathering Society of Vernon Township, Inc., for Certain Unimproved Real Property Identified on the Official Tax Maps of the Township of Vernon as Block 308 Lot 2 (Old Block 133 Lot 2.05)

Council President Shortway read by title Ordinance #21-34

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to introduce Ordinance #21-34
MOVED: John Auberger
SECOND: Andrew Pitsker

A roll call vote was taken:
AYES: Auberger, Pitsker, Shortway
NAYS:
ABSTAIN: Furrey
ABSENT: Cilli
Motion passed to introduce Ordinance #21-34

PUBLIC COMMENTS (Limited to 3 Minutes On Any Topic)

Council President Shortway asked for a motion to open the meeting for public comments.
MOTION: John Auberger
SECOND: Andrew Pitsker
All members were in favor.

Natalie Buccieri - Cedar Ridge, Vernon Township, feels that Mike Furrey will do a great job on the Township Council but wishes the process of nominating a candidate was more transparent.

Ms. Buccieri questioned the mask requirement at the Township Council meetings. She said she has been at public events with the Mayor and some Council Members and masks were not worn. Ms. Buccieri did a survey of some other towns who have in person meetings and masks were not required.

Ms. Buccieri is concerned that locking the door at the Township Council meetings when there are 25 participants is a fire hazard and limiting the in-person participants to 25 would also block peoples access to a government public meeting

Seeing no other members of the public wishing to speak, Council President Shortway asked for a motion to close the meeting for public comments.
MOTION: Andrew Pitsker
SECOND: John Auberger
All members were in favor.

MAYOR COMMENTS

While compared to many locations in New Jersey and the nation, the rate at which Vernon Township and Sussex County are being attacked by this current COVID-19 surge is significantly less.

However, we must not become overconfident; we must continue to be wary of this dangerous virus; especially the current highly contagious Delta variant.

While the rate at which the virus is spreading in our town and county is less than in some other locations, we have never-the less experienced increases in the daily number of COVID-19 cases during the past three months.

For example:

1. In Sussex County, the COVID-19 virus spread throughout the county at a rate of 6 cases per day in July; it jumped to 26 cases per day in August; and jumped again to 39 cases per day in September.

2. In our town, the COVID-19 virus spread at a rate of less than 1 case per day in July; but jumped to 3 cases per day in August; and jumped again to 5 cases per day in September.

Again, while these numbers are smaller than the increases that are being seen in other locations, they are never-the less still growing.

I ask that you all join with me in taking appropriate safety measures to do all that we can to stop this increase from continuing.

In all aspects of life, having confidence is a good thing; however, being overconfident can at times be a very dangerous thing.

Let's remain ever vigilant, and do the things that we need to do in order to protect ourselves, our families and our fellow human beings.

In response to the governor's declaration of a state wide health emergency, plus recommendations and directions from the State of New Jersey and the County of Sussex Health Department's - - all aimed at reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus - - in March of 2020, Vernon Township joined with the vast majority of other New Jersey municipalities in closing our Municipal Center to fully open access by the public.

In July of 2020, we reopened all but one portion of the Municipal Center to full access by the public.

That portion of the Municipal Center which was not reopened for its normal and primary use was the Vernon Senior Center; let me explain to you why this was the case.

FIRST, the quality of our Senior Center has earned it the status of being designated as a Congregate Nutrition Site. Congregate Nutrition Sites are exclusive sites that promote the health and well-being of older adults through the provision of nutritious meals and creative programs, usually five days a week at convenient locations within the county.

Of the 23 municipalities in Sussex County, only three municipalities' Senior Centers have earned this designation - - that being the Senior Centers of Vernon, Hopatcong, and Franklin.

SECOND, while being selected as a Congregate Nutrition Site is for sure an honor - - and, an honor that comes with some funding benefits from the Sussex County Division of Senior Services - - it's an honor that also comes with some strict rules and guidelines to which we must adhere.

And, the COVID-19 related rules and guidelines from the Sussex County Division of Senior Services, plus the Sussex County Health Department, for reopening our Senior Center for its normal and primary Congregate Nutrition Site uses are quite strict.

For example, the requirements for reopening our Senior Center for its normal and primary Congregate Nutrition Site uses include:

1. Having the sufficient staff to monitor and control restrictions on the communal use of selected items in the Center.

2. Having the sufficient staff to monitor and control the number of individuals who enter the Center's women's and men's bathrooms at any one time;

3. Having the sufficient staff to monitor and control the entry and exit locations to the Center; and ...

4. Having the sufficient staff and resources to fully sanitize the interior of the Center every 30 minutes.

And THIRD, since we do not have, and could not afford, the staff and/or resources to adhere to these strict requirements, over the past 18 months, our Senior Center has not been open as a Congregate Nutrition Site.

However, this Mayor and Council have not forgotten, and will never forget, our seniors.

During these past 18 months that our Senior Center has been closed, we have tried to meet some of our senior's key needs by:

1. Joining in a partnership with the Sussex County Division of Senior Services to offer a "Grab & Go" meal pick up program administered at the front of the Senior Center; and, for those seniors who were restricted from traveling to the Senior Center by COVID-19 conditions, we have worked close with our valued volunteers of the VERNON CARES organization to deliver meals to these seniors at their doorsteps;

2. Getting assistance and donations from community businesses and civic groups to create a covered outdoor seating area that gave our seniors a safe, outdoor place to socialize and enjoy a meal together once again.

This covered outdoor seating area is located in a portion of the municipal parking lot immediately outside of the Senior Center;

3. Hosting entertainment, art classes, and other activities outside under the pavilion in Maple Grange Park; and ...

4. Joining with our indispensable partner, the Vernon PAL, in hosting exercises classes and other activities outside under their pavilion.

The most recent of those activities was the "So Long to Summer Party" where a large group of our senior citizens enjoyed a great meal, danced, sang and generally enjoyed themselves. I was honored to join with them.

The warm weather is coming to an end, and with it comes the winter weather that will put an end to the options that are available to our outstanding Senior Center Supervisor, Ms. Jane Damstra, and our PAL partner to plan outdoor activities for our seniors.

However, because we know that the end of the summer does not mean an end to our seniors' need for activity and companionship, Ms. Damstra and our Director of Recreation and Community Affairs, Ms. Mishelle Downtain, have planned some non-Congregate Nutrition Site activities that we believe can be safely hosted in our Senior Center under some limited capacity and Sussex County Health Department/CDC guidelines - - such as, requiring temperature checks before entering the Senior Center, requiring mask wearing while in the Senior Center, not allowing any games in the Senior Center where pieces must be shared, appropriately sanitizing items and surfaces in the Senior Center throughout the day, etc.

As we planned, discussed and evaluated this plan of action, we concluded that we have every reason to believe that this plan will enable us to safely meet some of our seniors' critical needs; and, we put this plan into action on October 12.

This action to respond to some of our seniors' critical needs is important.

It's my belief that this opportunity that the Creator has given us to care for those who once cared for us - - those being is our seniors - - is one of the most important responsibilities and highest honors that we have been given.

As this Mayor and Council MOVES VERNON FORWARD, we will do everything that we can to ensure that no one is left behind or forgotten, and especially our seniors!

COUNCIL COMMENTS

Vice President Auberger thanked Kelley Weller for serving on the Council and said she will be missed.

He thanked all of the people who put in for filling her seat, it is good to see individuals taking interest because that is what this Council and this Township need, seeing people interested to serve.

Vice President Auberger thanked Mike Furrey for putting in his interest. He feels that because he has served on so many committees and sub-committees with Mike and because of Mike's knowledge of the MUA he feels that Mike was the best choice. Vice President Auberger said if this was up to a vote in a regular election, Mike would still have his vote.

Council Member Pitsker thanked Kelly Weller for her service on the Town Council. He wished her the best of luck as she goes forward in the next part of her life with happiness and peace.

Council Member Pitsker told Mike Furrey that he has had the pleasure of working with him on the MUA. We have worked have diligently on the MUA to get things done and there is still a list that grows. He said Mike has done a great job of guiding the MUA. He thanked Mike and the rest of the Commissioners on the MUA for helping us build a stronger Vernon. Council Member Pitsker looks forward to working with Mike on the Council.

Council Member Pitsker said he appreciated Mr. Shortway's service on the MUA. He feels Harry has been very good with history and helping guide some of the things that have happened in the past and how to resolve issues. He hopes that Harry can be used as an advisor in the future if need be.

Council Member Pitsker recognized McAfee Firehouse for the open house he attended last weekend. He was able to meet the volunteers and their families and the dedication to keeping Vernon safe is commended and the support of their families is really recognized. You get a call in the middle of the night and you get up and go. This goes for all of the fire companies in the Vernon area, you protect us all and thank you for your service.

Council Member Pitsker said that this is the first time on the dais since being elected last November. He feels that it is great to be back in chambers although there is some apprehension as we battle through this Covid-19 crisis. Let's stay health and safe. Council Member Pitsker listened to Natalie Buccieri comments about wearing masks. He said it is always a practice to keep a mask on to protect people around him especially with winter coming and growing numbers, he is trying to do his part as a citizen and a steward of this town. Regarding the locked door, he does agree with Ms. Buccieri that this needs to be reviewed with Mr. Voelker to find a better solution.

Council Member Furrey thanked Kelly Weller for her service and he feels that she was tremendous help to the Council. He thanked everyone for their comments saying he is going to bring a positive energy to the Council and he is going to do his best for the Township of Vernon. He appreciates the opportunity.

Council President Shortway discussed cancelling the October 25, 2021 Township Council meeting due to the amount of time in between meetings and the upcoming election.

Council Member Pitsker made a motion to cancel the October 25, 2021 meeting if there no pressing business.

Seconded by John Auberger.

All members present were in favor.

Motion carries to cancel the October 25, 2021 Township Council meeting.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT COMMENTS

Council President Shortway had no further comments.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further items of business to be conducted on the agenda, a motion for adjournment was made by Council Member Auberger, seconded by Council Member Furrey with all members voting in favor.

The Meeting of the Township Council of the Township of Vernon was adjourned at 7:44 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Marcy Gianattasio, RMC, CMR
Municipal Clerk

Minutes approved: November 15, 2021