Mayor Burrell’s September 28, 2020 Council Comments
Posted: September 29, 2020
Let’s Work Together
My life experiences have taught me to never assume that I am always right about every issue; my life experiences have also taught me to, at least, listen to and objectively evaluate the point of view of those who disagree with me.
I never forget these life lessons, and have applied them to all of my decision making concerning the issue of where to locate the municipal bicycle pump track.
All indications are that my enthusiasm for a municipal bicycle pump track is shared not only by the council, but also the overwhelming majority of Vernon residents.
However, there has been some disagreement that has come in the form of a few individuals who have been quite upfront with their intent to ensure that the pump track is located in a place other than the location that I have chosen.
As part of what most Vernon residents view as an effort to pressure the mayor and council into changing our minds and agreeing to build the pump track at a location, or locations, that one resident has chosen, this resident has gone so far as to claiming in internet posts, and in an official complaint to the New Jersey DEP, that:
The proposed pump track site is a toxic waste dump;
Our town is using the proposed pump track site as “a solid waste dump”;
Our town is “burying asphalt, street sweepings, and construction lumber” on the proposed pump track site; and…
This resident “has photos and drone footage” supporting these claims.
As my life experiences have taught me to do, I have listened closely to these claims; and, as part of my effort to objectively evaluate these claims, I have:
Walked the proposed pump track site three separate times searching for evidence of the conditions that have been made in these claims; and…
I have joined with the council in obtaining the services of one of New Jersey’s preeminent environmental consulting and engineering firms, Excel Environmental Resources, to investigate the proposed pump track site for any signs of the claims made by this resident.
Excel Environmental Resources tested 16 different samples taken from the small portion of the 11.3 acres site that we plan to use to build our town’s bicycle pump track. Not one of these samples, nor any of Excel Environmental Resources physical examination of the site, reveal any indication that this site was in any way toxic.
In addition, as part of the mayor’s and council’s effort to be totally transparent about this matter, the results of the Excel Environmental Resources report were reviewed in detail by the municipal engineer at the August 24 council meeting.
And finally, on September 9, the DEP advised the mayor’s office that in response to the complaint filed by a town’s resident, the DEP had recently visited the site on which we plan to build our town’s bicycle pump track. The DEP’s communication did not mention finding any indication of a toxic waste site, but did state that the DEP inspector noticed that there seemed to be significantly less material on the site than there was when the DEP visited this site in 2018.
There is in fact significantly less material on this site, because it is not a “dump site”; it is a site where a portion of the 11.3 acres of land is used as a temporary storage site for materials that our DPW generates in the process of doing their job. By necessity, all municipal DPW organizations have such a site.
We have receipts that document that the town has routinely moved unusable, temporally stored DPW materials from this site.
I invite those who have seemly made it their mission to delay or stifle our community’s efforts to build our town’s bicycle pump track in the area that’s parallel to state Route 94, where the town center bike and walking trail is planned, and where the town already has sewer service lines and capability—
I invite them to join with us, in our efforts to build our town’s bicycle pump track in this safe, appropriate area, which will be a positive factor that will contribute to the achievement of our objective of attracting more paying MUA customers, which is essential if we are to reduce our municipality’s significant MUA related deficit.
It’s time that we put our personal grudges aside, and all came together, to work towards Moving Vernon Forward!
Thank A Police Officer Day
Saturday, September 19, 2020 was national “THANK A POLICE OFFICER DAY.”
When we reflect on the strain and the lack of trust that exist between the citizens and their police departments in many communities across our nation, and compare those relationship situations to the relationships that the residents of Vernon Township have with their outstanding police department, we can’t help but to realize that we do indeed have very good police officers that are worthy of our thanks.
And it is for this reason that I want the public to know, that my THANK YOU comments tonight are not simply comments that are made in order to be politically correct; they are not comments that are made as a reflection of me taking a stand, on one side or the other, of some “hot button” political issue—they are made for one reason, and one reason only; and that’s because I truly mean them.
I am indeed fortunate to be one of our nation’s mayors who can say with creditability and comfort, that my town has a police department with a core of officers that have earned all of the thanks that we can give them.
I take this opportunity to also thank our police department for their quick, effective and efficient response to the recent illegal and shameful environmental dumping assault that was inflicted on our beautiful Maple Grange Park.
During the morning hours of September 14, the Vernon Police responded to a report of illegal dumping at Maple Grange Park; the illegal and shameful environmental dumping assault had occurred in the evening hours of September 13.
A large pile of miscellaneous junk, including an old couch, window shutters, wooden trunks of clothing, masonry items, cans of wood stain, as well as several other items, had been dumped in a visible portion of the park.
The investigation that followed resulted in the successful identification of a 23-year old suspect, a Mike Lopez of Englewood, NJ, who was issued summons for violating our local dumping ordinances.
Thanks to the quick, effective and efficient work of the Vernon Police Department, Mr. Lopez now has a pending municipal court appearance, and the pile of illegally dumped material was immediately removed by the Vernon Township DPW, the organization that does such a great job of maintaining and caring for our parks. The investigating officer was Ofc. Nick Gonzalez. THANK YOU Officer Gonzalez, and THANK YOU to our Vernon Police Department!
Howard L. Burrell, Mayor
Posted: September 22, 2020
Due to the current pandemic, we are going to change our annual trunk or treat event to adhere to state and CDC guidelines.
The Vernon PAL, Vernon Police Department and Vernon Recreation Department will be hosting a Halloween Trick or Trail!
Where: Maple Grange Park When: Friday, October 30, 2020 Time: 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.
In order to pull this event off safely for everyone, it will be mandatory that you physically register your family through the Vernon PAL online registration system. No one will be permitted to participate unless they have registered prior to the event.
In Community Pass, under 2020 Fall Programs, you can pick a time slot and how many people are in your party…it’s that easy!!!
Now for the details:
You pick time slot when you register of either 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m.
When you arrive at your requested time, please give your name to the attendant—they will give you trick or treat bags and ask that you park in the designated lot and wait in your car! Please do not get out of your car until someone comes to tell you. We will have families go together as a group and you must always stay 6 feet apart from other groups.
The walk will go from the playground around the back along the short loop.
There will be some tables decorated along the path and they will be passing out candy that the police department and PAL have purchased.
At the end of the walk, please return to your car and prepare to leave—there will be no congregating in the parking lot.
Masks are mandatory!
Mayor’s Comments at 9/11 Ceremony
Posted: September 11, 2020
For various reason, since that deadly attack on our country on September 11, 2001, at 8:45 a.m., our town has not had its own formal ceremony of observance to honor the memory of those who we lost on that day.
When I discovered this, I decided to change that. And so today, I welcome you to Vernon Township’s first ever 9/11 Observance Ceremony.
We remember, and will never forget, the nearly 3,000 lives that were taken so cruelly on that day. Not only do we remember those nearly 3,000 that were murdered on 9/11, we also honor the courage of those men and women, those first responders, who put themselves in harm’s way in an attempt to save people who they never knew.
A staggering approximately 35K plus of those first responders who put themselves in harm’s way in an attempt to save people who they never knew are currently suffering with 9/11 related illness. Some have died from these illness and others continue to die each month. So I also consider them to be victims of the 9/11 attacks.
The 19 years since the 9/11 attacks occurred may seem like a long time to some of us; but for those families who on 9/11 lost a loved one; for those who lost a piece of their hearts, I imagine that the day of 9/11 can seem like it was just yesterday.
Perhaps to them it’s the memory of a last kiss given to a spouse; or an unresolved or silly argument with someone else who was dear; or the last goodbye to a mother, a father, a sister, a brother, or a child.
Sometimes I wonder just how some of those lost lives might have unfolded if they had not been murdered; just how some of their dreams might have taken shape.
As I ponder these and other disturbing mental and emotional things that come to my mind about this day, I am also mindful of the fact that there are no words that I or anyone else could offer here today, that could ever truly erase the pain of the lost that’s felt by the individuals who loved those whose lives were taken away from them on that dreadful day.
So as I think about what should at least be a consideration; what should at least be a key question that we should ask ourselves today, is how can we honor the legacy of those who were lost on 9/11, as well as those that we continue to lose as a direct result of 9/11?
We have seen one part of the answer to this important question in the actions and efforts of almost two generations of American men and women in uniform who have risked, and some who are still risking, their lives to help keep us safe. It was through them that we as a nation were able to deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, the individual who gloated about successfully planning, organizing, and directing the 9/11 attacks.
We have also seen part of the answer to this question in the actions and efforts / of almost two generations of professional American diplomats, intelligence professionals, and homeland security and law enforcement professionals—all who have stepped forward to serve and risk their lives to help keep us safe.
And it’s in part because of the fact these and other Americans have stepped forward, that those followers and sympathizers of Osama bin Laden, and others in countries who wish our nation harm, know that at this time in our country’s history, they are not able to militarily defeat a nation as great and as strong as the United States of America.
However, they have put into effect a sinister and diabolic strategy, aimed at mutilating our emotions and our thinking, to turn us as Americans against each other as a way of defeating us from within.
This sinister and diabolic strategy uses fear, negative social media tactics, and untruths masquerading as facts, to divide us along lines of religion, race, gender, color, ethnic origin, and political affiliation.
And it is with great, great regret that I say, that at this point in time, their strategy seems to be working.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that a record high of 80 percent of Americans perceive our nation as being dangerously divided. And a great majority of historians say that today America is more divided than at any point in time since the great Civil War, which resulted in at least 620K of the approximate 4M men who enlisted on both sides in that tragic war being killed.
So today, I suggest to you that a key part of the answer to this important question of how do we honor the legacy of those who were lost on 9/11, as well as those that we continue to lose as a direct result of 9/11?—a question that I believe is clearly before us as a nation today—
I suggest to you that a key part of the answer to this important question lies in our willingness to use the free will that the Creator has given us, to opening up our hearts and our minds.
And we can open up our hearts and our minds by rising above our taught and inherited negative attitudes and pre-judgments about others who don’t look like us; who don’t worship in the same faith as we do; who don’t speak the same language as we do; who are not in the same political party as we are; or who are different from us in other humanly ways.
And by taking the type of positive actions that will ensure that our nation continues to make progress towards becoming that one nation, under God, that’s indivisible—meaning that can’t be divided or separated—that offers liberty and justice for all!
There were four aircrafts hijacked by terrorists on that fateful day in September—American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93.
Of those hijacked aircrafts, only one, United Airlines Flight 93, did not reach the hijackers’ intended target. The target was believed to be either our nation’s capital building, or our nation’s White House.
That hijacked plane did not reach its target because the 31 Americans aboard this plane had learned through phone conversations that on that same morning, other terrorists had hijacked other planes and had used these planes to destroy the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
These 31 Americans decided to work together to ensure that the terrorists who had hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, would not use this plane to wreak the type of destruction our nation’s capital building or White House as they had on the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
Even though they knew that they were probably going to die, they didn’t view themselves in terms of their religion, their race, their gender, their color, their ethnic origin, or their political affiliation; they viewed themselves as Americans who were determined to ensure that their final act would be on behalf of protecting this great country that the Creator has blessed us with.
And they took the brave and almost inconceivable action of attempting to wrestle control of the plane from the terrorists, with the result being the plane crashing into the ground in Somerset County, PA, near the town of Shanksville.
As individuals; as a nation; we have the opportunity each and every day to behave in a way that honors the legacy of those who were lost on 9/11, as well as those that we continue to lose as a direct result of 9/11. All that we need to do, is to decide to put that opportunity into action.
I end my comments by first asking the Creator to please bless the memory of the 9/11 victims; and second, to be merciful to those who are struggling personally with the memory of those who were lost, and who we are still losing, as a result of the 9/11 attacks; and third, to bless our town of Vernon Township; and fourth, to bless the United States of America!
Howard L. Burrell, Mayor
General Election Information
Posted: September 10, 2020
Notice to Voters of the Township of Vernon
A municipal election will be held in the Township of Vernon on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There is one member of the Vernon Township Council to be elected in the Township of Vernon, for an unexpired term ending December 31, 2021. The voters can vote for one member of the township council whose name appears on the ballot or they may write in another name, up to a total of one name for council. The following shows the name of the candidate as it will appear on the ballot together with his designation:
For Township Council Member (Vote for One)
(Unexpired One Year Term)
Professional, Experienced & Sensible
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, voting in New Jersey’s general election will look different this year. Here’s what voters need to know:
On Friday, August 14, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 177 which mandates that the November 3, 2020 general election be conducted primarily via vote-by-mail ballots.
The Sussex County Clerk will mail ballots at the end of September to all “active” registered voters without the need for an application to receive a vote-by-mail ballot.
If you want to participate in the general election, you are encouraged to vote the ballot that is mailed to you. A limited number of polling places will be available for voters on Election Day where voters may vote only by provisional paper ballots or return their own vote-by-mail ballot. If you have a disability and need an accessible vote-by-mail ballot, contact the county clerk’s Election Division at 973.579.0900, ext. 1507, or you may go to your assigned polling place, which will provide you with access to an in-person accessible voting device on Election Day.
Detailed instructions for voting by mail will be included with your ballot packet.
Your packet will also contain a postage paid envelope for the return of your ballot through the United States Postal Service. You are not required to attach a stamp. You may choose instead to deposit your ballot in a secure ballot drop box located throughout the county or present your ballot to a poll worker at your assigned polling place on Election Day. Drop box locations will be provided in your ballot packet, and a post card listing your assigned polling location will be mailed to you no later than October 23, 2020.
Ballots are being mailed to the address at which a voter is registered to vote. If you plan to be out of town between September 25th and Election Day and will not be home when your mail-in ballot arrives, you should notify the county clerk’s office so that arrangements can be made to mail your ballot to an alternate address.
If you have questions about voting by mail, please call the Sussex County Clerk’s Office at 973.579.0900.
November 3, 2020 General Election Voting Districts & Polling Places
4, 13, 14, 19
Pochuck Valley Firehouse 13 Lake Wallkill Road Sussex, NJ 07461
1, 2, 3, 18
Vernon Township Senior Center 21 Church Street Vernon, NJ 07462
6, 8, 10, 11, 20
St. Francis DeSales Church 614 Route 517 McAfee, NJ 07428
5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16, 17
Highland Lakes Club House 2240 Lakeside Drive West Highland Lakes, NJ 07422
Join us on Friday, September 11, 2020 as Mayor Burrell hosts a remembrance ceremony with members from all Vernon fire departments, EMS, police and VFW attending to pay tribute to those who perished on that unforgettable day.
The ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Vernon Crossing Road and will include guest speakers, a wreath laying ceremony and a 21 gun salute.
For those who wish to attend, please wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.