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31 Jul
0

Legislation sponsored by Connors, Rumpf & Gove to help more veterans qualify for the disabled veteran’s property tax exemption was passed by the New Jersey Senate

Legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove which would extend the current disabled veteran’s property tax exemption to disabled veteran shareholders and their surviving spouses residing in a cooperative or mutual housing corporation was passed by the State Senate on July 30 of this year.

The 9th District legislators issued the following statement regarding the advancement of their veterans’ initiative (S-956):

“This legislative proposal was introduced to correct a discrepancy in State whereby disabled veterans could not receive the veteran’s property tax exemption as cooperative or mutual housing corporations. To receive the exemption under current State law, a disabled veteran’s permanent residence must be a condominium, one-family, or multifamily home.

“Disabled veterans living in the state should not be excluded from receiving property tax relief, which they rightly deserve in view of their sacrifice to our nation, based on a technicality defining housing. This can and should be fixed, which is why we are extremely proud that our legislative proposal passed the Senate with bipartisan sponsorship and support. Hopefully, the vote will lead to action in the Assembly where the companion legislation is awaiting consideration by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.”

For several consecutive legislative sessions, members of the 9th Legislative District delegation have served, respectively, on the Senate and Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs committees.

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31 Jul
0

OCEAN COUNTY IS READY TO DEAL WITH ANY HURRICANE THAT APPROACHES OUR COAST, EVEN DURING THESE COVID-19 TIMES

FIRST A GLOBAL PANDEMIC and now hurricanes. Seems Mother Nature is having a bit of a tantrum.

However, with a record eight named storms already born in the Atlantic and a ninth expected to form, Ocean County emergency officials are ready if a major tropical system approaches our coast.

“We already had a close call with Tropical Storm Fay, which came ashore just south of us earlier in July,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “With so many more months to go in hurricane season and looking at the number of named storms we have already seen, we have to remain vigilant.”

And preparation this time around means also dealing with the ever-present threat of COVID-19.

“There’s no question that COVID-19 will make storm preparations more challenging,” Kelly said. “However, our Office of Emergency Management has already made plans on how to deal with pandemic safeguards during any evacuations.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued guidelines for how local agencies should prepare for a storm-related disaster.

“We understand that things would be different if a hurricane strikes during the pandemic,” said Ocean County Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy.

The sheriff asked all residents to prepare in advance, before a major storm approaches the county.

“If you can safely evacuate to a friend or family’s home, that’s the thing to do,” Mastronardy said.

Social distancing may be difficult in public shelters and the CDC has updated its rules on how to stay safe at a shelter, which include the usual guidelines for social distancing and wearing masks.

“Also be aware that shelter locations could change because of the need to protect residents from COVID-19,” he said.

Mastronardy recommended residents keep an extra stockpile of nonperishable food items in their home.

“Also make sure your prescriptions are filled and up to date,” he said.

As usual, residents and visitors should also pay close attention to local weather reports.

“Forecasts usually give us at least five days warning of a dangerous storm,” Kelly said. “Pay attention and be ready to act.”

If you are evacuated to a shelter, it is recommended to bring blankets/sleeping bags/pillows, change of clothes, cash/credit card/checkbook, family documents, birth certificates, insurance policies, stock certificates, medicine and prescription drugs, infant formula/food, special dietary foods and diapers.

In addition to having a household Disaster Supplies Kit, it is important to have Animal Supply Kits and Take-Along Bags for service animals and pets. Pet kits should include: a two-week supply of water and food, non-spill food and water dishes, cage/carrier labeled with contact information, favorite toys and treats, leash, collar and harness, litter, litter pan, paper towels and plastic baggies, and pet medication.

It is also advised to make sure that your pets and service animals have current ID tags, and that their vaccinations are current.

Mastronardy also encouraged residents with disabilities to sign up for Register Ready, New Jersey’s Special Needs registry for disasters. The program provides information to emergency responders so they can better meet specific needs of disabled residents in the event of a disaster or other emergency. “This registry not only helps our senior and special-needs residents, but it also provides information so that residents can be checked on during weather emergencies,” Mastronardy said.

To register online, go to www.registerready.nj.gov and click on the Register Ready icon at the bottom of the page.

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30 Jul
0

CENSUS DEADLINE IS NEARING – OC FREEHOLDER DIRECTOR JOSEPH H. VICARI URGING EVERYONE TO COMPLETE CENSUS QUESTIONNAIRE

THE 2020 CENSUS is entering the home stretch and Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari reminded everyone to please complete their census questionnaire.

“An accurate Census count is incredibly important to Ocean County and will help determine the amount of federal and state aid that we receive for the next decade,” Vicari said. “There are less than 100 days left and we ask that anyone who has not yet completed their Census forms to please do so.”

The Census Bureau declared the week of July 27 thru August 2 as “Push Week,” in an effort to persuade Americans to complete the forms.

“We’re making a big push to remind residents to fill out their forms before Census workers begin visiting homes later in August,” Vicari said. “You can also submit your Census online at 2020CENSUS.GOV, by phone (844-330-2020), or by mail.”

On or about August 11, Census workers will begin visiting the homes of residents who have not submitted their forms.

“There’s still time to complete the questions and ensure that a Census official will not knock on your door,” Vicari said.

If you do not have internet access or need assistance, Ocean County Library branches have laptops dedicated to the public for use in completing the Census. Trained staff is also available for assistance, Vicari said.

“Please contact your local branch library for more information,” Vicari said.

Generally, Ocean County residents have done a good job in returning their Census forms.

Most Ocean County towns are close to or have exceeded their 2010 final self-response rates. Ocean County overall has a 62.4% response rate as of July 22, which is slightly higher than the national response rate of 62.3%.

“There’s still a lot of room for improvement,” Vicari said. “We could lose millions of dollars in federal money if we don’t provide an accurate count.”

Vicari said the recent $106 million CARE Act for COVID-19 relief and Superstorm Sandy aid are examples of federal outlays that are least partially based on Census numbers.

Statewide, Census data is used for the allocation of more than $45 billion in annual federal funding for services relating to health, education, housing infrastructure and other programs.

Vicari said these programs are critical for the most vulnerable members of our communities, including young children, aging adults and people with disabilities and illnesses.

“We are talking about $5,000 per New Jersey resident per year,” he said.

If statewide numbers are not accurate, there’s also the chance New Jersey could lose a Congressional seat, he added.

Vicari also asked that residents who may spend the colder months in Florida or other southern states to please fill out the New Jersey Census form.

“For our snowbirds I would ask them to fill out the forms for the state in which they spend the most time, which in most cases is New Jersey,” he said.

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24 Jul
0

From the Desk of Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari

OCEAN COUNTY UPDATE ON COVID 19 PANDEMICOC SENIOR SERVICES-VETERAN SERVICES-CONSUMER AFFAIRS

AS OCEAN COUNTY moves into month five of the COVID-19 Pandemic, county offices and staff remain on the job helping our must vulnerable residents, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said.

“Our routine has changed but our elderly and vulnerable residents can rest assured that we will continue to meet their needs,” Vicari said.

While most county offices are closed to in-person visits, staff is working in every department, including the Office of Senior Services, Veterans Service Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs.

In the Office of Senior Services, Director Maria La Face said the volume of calls is increasing as people address concerns both related and unrelated to COVID-19.

“We’re seeing a lot of calls about normal issues, such as Medicare questions,” she said.

Concerns are also mounting from caregivers, usually the adult children of older seniors.

“After months of isolation many of our caregivers are realizing that their parents are perhaps not doing as well as they thought and may not be able to care for themselves,” La Face said. “Combined with a shortage of home health aides, this is becoming a real challenge.”

Vicari, who is also liaison to the Office of Senior Services, said many caregivers are in fact senior citizens themselves taking care of their older parents.

Money is also a growing concern among the county’s older population. “Everything costs more, from food to toilet paper,” Vicari said. “Every dollar that is cut or spent elsewhere is a dollar less to spend on food.”

Vicari said he is continuing his effort to combat the elimination of the state’s Property Tax Relief and Homestead Credit Programs.

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has already unanimously passed a resolution calling on Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Legislature to restore both the senior tax freeze and the Homestead Rebate.

While constituent services continue to be handled over the phone, La Face said her office does have an in-person outreach scheduled for early August.

“On August 4th my staff will travel to the Original Leisure Village in Lakewood for an outdoor event to meet with senior citizens and address their concerns,” she said. “Everyone will be masked and if the event is successful we would like to expand it.”


As plans move forward to re-open county buildings to the public, La Face said she would like to see her office bring more services to senior communities rather than asking seniors to come into the department’s Toms River office.


“Our new service delivery system will include mobile events like the one scheduled in August, virtual platforms and social media,” she said.

The Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau has also been handling its clients via telephone and computers. Director John P. Dorrity said initial claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs are handled over the phone.

“Appeals are handled through a system known as the Virtual VA,” he said. “It requires only an email address.”

Dorrity said that despite the continued county lockdown, his staff, like other county offices, has been working through the crisis.

“The workload has been intense and heavy but our folks are getting the job done,” he said.
Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Veterans Service Bureau, said Ocean County never forgets its veterans.

“These brave men and women were there when we needed them and Ocean County will always be there for them, no matter what the circumstances,” Little said.

Steve Scaturro, director of the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs, said his office remains busy investigating consumer fraud complaints.

“We remain staffed as usual, accepting calls and correspondence from the public,” Scaturro said. “We respond immediately and investigate price gouging, and all other complaints filed by the public.”

Price-gouging complaints were more common at the start of the Pandemic, he added.

More frequent Pandemic-related complaints include cancellation of contracts for cruises, theme parks and motels due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“We take each on a case-by-case basis,” Scaturro said “We have had good results in assisting consumers with these issues.”

At the same time, the department is dealing with more routine complaints, with home improvement, auto sales and computer-related scams topping the list.

Weights and Measures inspectors also continue to perform inspections at gas stations, marinas and retail establishments to ensure compliance with state regulations designed to protect the public.

“When we have to prosecute a complaint it is done through a virtual court session,” Scaturro said.

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23 Jul
0

OCEAN COUNTY CONNECTION HAS RE-OPENED

“We welcome back our residents and visitors to the County Connection,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, who is liaison to the County Connection. “We will be doing things a little differently in order to meet the requirements of Gov. Murphy’s executive orders and also to assure the safety of our staff and our citizens that are accessing services at the County Connection.”

The County Connection will be open the same hours as the Mall, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Many of the services provided at the storefront including Senior Services and Ocean County Clerk services will be done by appointment while other services like accessing information on government programs will be available by walk-ins.

Appointments currently can be made by calling the County Connection at 732-288-7777 or send an email to CountyConnection@co.ocean.nj.us. For senior services, residents can call 732-929-2091 for an appointment.

The County Connection closed in March when Gov. Murphy ordered indoor malls to be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning Monday, August 3, Ocean County Clerk staff will once again offer assistance to the public in processing U.S. Passport applications at the County Connection, located at the Ocean County Mall, by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling the County Connection at 732-288-7777 or sending an email to CountyConnection@co.ocean.nj.us.

Visitors to the County Connection are required to wear a facemask and have their temperatures taken. In addition, the number of people allowed in at a time are limited due to Gov. Murphy’s executive orders.

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17 Jul
0

Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission Reminder For Residents To Protect Themselves From Mosquitoes

AS MORE people spend time outdoors and hang out in backyards this summer, the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission is reminding residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes.

“Residents need to be aware of locations that may serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes in their yards,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gary Quinn, who is liaison to the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission. “With over 40 different species of mosquitoes found in Ocean County, it is imperative to do what you can to limit the chance of mosquitoes.”

Since 1913, the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission has been helping residents curb the mosquito population across the County by using a balance of a variety of different treatment plans in many different types of ecosystems. Focusing on biological control and water management practices, the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission inspects and treats areas including swamps, wood pools, roadside ditches, retention/detention basins, catch basins, and saltmarshes. Ground crews track rainfall and are dispatched to areas that need the most attention, and the helicopters check approximately 80 spots at least twice a week, doing treatments on saltmarsh areas and any inland areas that are too big to treat from the ground.

In addition, the adult mosquito population is monitored five days a week by taking landing rate counts in 60 spots throughout the county and a collection is taken from 28 New Jersey light traps. Rainfall information is collected daily from 19 sites as well. Mosquitoes are also trapped each week and are sent to be tested for West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, and Jamestown Canyon Virus.


“Controlling the mosquito population has come a long way over the years,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “These methods are conducted in ways that allow for the highest level of safety to protect humans, non-target species, and the environment.”

While yard audits are unavailable due to COVID-19, residents are being asked to take the time and inspect their own properties for any source of standing water that could breed mosquitoes. Common places to look for larvae are open buckets, open trashcans, clogged gutters, tarps, saucers under planter pots, corrugated drains, kids’ toys, tires, pool covers, unused pools, and birdbaths.

“If an object can hold water for four to five days, it can be a problem,” said Quinn. “These mosquitoes can often be found in water amounts as small as a bottle cap, which makes dumping standing water simple and the most effective way for controlling mosquitoes.

“Furthermore, horse owners are being urged to properly vaccinate their horses for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

“It is important that everyone does their part in the battle we wage annually against mosquitoes,” said Quinn. “Residents need to take the proper precautions just as we do at the county-level. No program is fool-proof which is why we need to work together.”

For more information on the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission, call 609-698-8271 or visit www.oceancountymosquito.org.

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17 Jul
0

FROM THE DESK OF OCEAN COUNTY CLERK SCOTT M. COLABELLA

NOMINATING PETITIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD SEATS DEADLINE JULY 27, 2020 4:00 PM

CANDIDATES seeking school board seats have until 4 p.m., Monday, July 27 to file their nominating petitions at the Ocean County Clerk’s Office in order to have their name placed on the Nov. 3 General Election Ballot, according to Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella.

“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in changes to the filing of nominating petitions,” said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, liaison to the Ocean County Clerk. “Potential candidates are encouraged to contact the Ocean County Clerk election staff at (732) 929-2153 with regard to petition filing.”

Petition packets for school board candidates can be mailed to candidates from the election staff. In addition, recently signed state legislation allows for an electronic process for the collection of petition signatures and submission. Electronic petitions along with information on obtaining signatures electronically for an individual or joint school board nominating petition can be accessed at the State of New Jersey Division of Elections website at https://nj.gov/state/elections/candidate-information.shtml

Completed petitions can also be submitted via U.S. mail or hand delivered to the Ocean County Courthouse at 118 Washington Street in Toms River.

“While the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in changes to how we do things to prepare for upcoming elections, the Ocean County Clerk’s Office is continuing to make every effort to inform potential candidates of approaching filing deadlines and about the process to file,” Quinn said. “Through the office’s website, social media, and other avenues, County Clerk Colabella provides the information needed by both candidates and voters.”

Colabella said all Ocean County school districts hold their Board of Education elections in November. “A law signed in 2014 moved the petition filing deadline for school board candidates from June to the last Monday in July to provide candidates with more time to submit their petitions,” Colabella said. Colabella said candidates can file jointly for the same office, title and term.

“Simply, more than one candidate can appear and circulate the same petition for the same office and term,” he said. “In the past, petitions had to be filed separately, even if all the candidates were running on one slate.”
In addition, candidates have the option of selecting a slogan of no more than three words to appear on the ballot under their name. The slogan selection is part of the petition.

Colabella said all candidates, even if filing electronically, are required to file a Disclosure Statement with their petition. The statement declares a candidate is not a disqualified voter and has not been convicted of a disqualifying crime. Candidates are requested to provide an email address on their nominating petitions.

In addition, it is important for all candidates filing electronic signatures to know that the Affidavit of Person who circulates the petition and witnesses signatures, and the Oath of Allegiance/Certificate of Acceptance by candidate all must still be filed with their petition.

“It’s important potential candidates know the requirements in order to help the petition filing process go smoothly,” he said. “It’s also important that candidates get their paperwork in on time.”

A total of 66 school board seats will appear on the November ballot in various school districts throughout Ocean County.

A complete listing of all candidates who file petitions for school board will be available shortly after the July 27 deadline at www.oceancountyclerk.com or www.facebook.com/oceancountyclerk.

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16 Jul
0

UPDATE – NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS – CDBG-CV FUNDS APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JULY 17, 2020

OCEAN COUNTY non-profits responding to the current coronavirus health crisis now have until July 17 to apply for grants to fund activities that prevent, prepare for and/or respond to Covid 19.

“There are a number of non-profit organizations in Ocean County that can help our citizens through this difficult time with these funds,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gary Quinn, who is liaison to the Ocean County Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. “We have extended the application deadline to 4 p.m., Friday, July 17 in order to make certain non-profits in Ocean County have the opportunity to tap into this program.

“I encourage our non-profits to take advantage of this opportunity,” Quinn said. “With so many of them doing great work already, I am sure this financial help will assist tremendously their ongoing efforts.”

Under the federal government CARES Act, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has allocated $820,810 in CDBG-CV funds to Ocean County to be used to prevent, prepare for and/or respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis. The County requested a waiver to use the funds specifically for grants to non-profits.

The funding guidelines and application can be found on the Ocean County Planning Department’s website at http://www.planning.co.ocean.nj.us/frmCECommDev.

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09 Jul
0

OCEAN COUNTY’S NEW RECYCLING GUIDE FOR BOAT OWNERS IS NOW AVAILABLE.

Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, liaison to Ocean County’s recycling program, said the new guide was developed by the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management along with the Planning Department as part of the ongoing educational outreach to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and its subsequent benefits to the environment.

“We are creating educational materials that target the unique characteristics of the County,” Quinn said. “This brochure provides information that will help the boating community to dispose of the waste created in a more environmentally conscious way in order to protect the Barnegat Bay and reduce landfill space.”

For example, the guide includes information on where to conveniently drop off antifreeze, boat batteries, paint cans, boat paint, oil and filters and shrink wrap.

“This new guide includes important contact information so boaters can schedule a free pumpout,” Ocean County Freeholder Director Vicari, liaison to the Ocean County pumpout boat program, said. “This new guide provides important information to boaters so they can assist in protecting our environment.” “This season has been a busy one for our captains as more people seem to have returned to boating.”

The guide is available by emailing ocrecycles@co.ocean.nj.us, calling 732-506-5047 or visiting the Ocean County Department of Solid Waste Management at www.co.ocean.nj.us.

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09 Jul
0

OCEAN COUNTY PARKS AND RECREATION NATURE AND VISITOR CENTERS TO RE-OPEN JULY 9TH.

Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the OC Department of Parks and Recreation is pleased with reopening these centers to the public. “However as we continue to work with the threat of the coronavirus we must put restrictions in place for the protection of our visitors and staff”.

“It’s essential our visitors follow the rules that have been developed for everyone’s safety,” she said.

Haines noted that the first hour that centers are open will be exclusively for senior citizens and the vulnerable population.

“Face masks will be mandatory inside the nature and visitor centers and capacity at each site will be limited to 25 percent,” she said.

Please visit the county website for further details of hours and days of operation for the nature and visitors centers at www.ocean.nj.us/home.

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