Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, along with the Ocean County Workforce Development Board and the Toms River Elks Lodge #1875 will be hosting a job fair for veterans and their families.
The job fair is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Elks Lodge, 600 Washington St., here.
“With Ocean County being home to over 60,000 veterans, this is a great opportunity for veterans and their families to come out and see what kind of jobs are available to them,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Veterans Services Bureau.
Little noted that as a result of their training and time spent in the military veterans make outstanding employees.
“They are self-reliant self-starters, who as a result of their time in the military are disciplined and understand a mission and will carry it out,” he said. “Our veterans are known to display characteristics of loyalty and reliability. They would bring all of these positive aspects to a job.”
Employers from both private and public sectors are scheduled to be available at the job fair. Those looking for a job should come with resumes ready and dressed appropriately for interviews.
“This event is an important cooperative effort involving the state and county governments and local organizations all coming together to help veterans get back in the community work place,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “We take great pride in our veterans here in Ocean County. They have made great sacrifices and it’s a privilege to give back to them.”
Veterans can pre-register online at http://lwd.state.nj.us/formsapp/form/94 (preferred) or at the registration desk on the day of the event.
Employers looking to get involved can pre-register online at http://lwd.state.nj.us/formsapp/form/76. Those who complete the form should print out the confirmation to bring to the event.
For additional information call 732-286-5616.
“We are very happy to receive these incentives from the BPU,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the county’s Department of Buildings and Grounds. “This is an important step in the work Ocean County has been doing to create more energy efficient facilities.”
The BPU noted the County submitted an application under the New Jerseys’ Clean Energy Program’s Combined Heat and Power & Fuel Cell Program requesting $1.1 million in incentives for the installation of a new Combined Heat and Power system at the Ocean County Justice Complex in downtown Toms River.
The Justice Complex is a multi-use facility housing courtrooms, some of the divisions of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, jail facilities and other government functions.
The new 600 kW CHP system generates electricity to power the facility, while capturing and using the waste heat for space heating, cooling, and water heating.
According to Vicari and the BPU, the energy efficiency measures will provide both energy and cost savings.
“The estimated annual energy cost savings is expected to be $383,000,” Vicari said. “That is substantial savings for the county taxpayers.”
Ocean County has closely been working with the BPU on energy upgrades at County facilities.
In November, the County was notified by the state Board of Public Utilities that it accepted and approved the county’s plan for energy upgrades.
“With that approval we began to move forward with the upgrades,” Vicari said.
Ocean County completed the energy audit in May submitting the information to the BPU for approval.
“This audit is very important to us as we look at ways to reduce costs and improve our energy efficiency,” Vicari said. “The audit comes with a number of beneficial suggestions that we will be considering for implementation.”
Under the program, Vicari said, costs for the improvements would be offset by incentives from the state.
And, he said, the money saved on energy could be reallocated to pay for additional energy upgrades. The audit’s recommendations could reap a self-funding potential of $19.3 million which is more than $1.3 million more than the amount appropriated for the upgrades.
“The energy audit was the result of an exhaustive examination of six facilities that receive a lot of traffic both from the public and with our employees,” Vicari said. “That is why they were chosen for this initial review.”
In addition to the Justice Complex the other facilities included the Ocean County Courthouse, the Ocean County Administration Building, the Ocean County Jail, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the parking garage all in downtown Toms River.
“These facilities total 1,022,775 square feet,” Vicari said. “They produce an annual energy bill of $2.3 million.”
Ocean County is looking at other improvements including upgrades to the lighting systems, automated controls for lighting, upgrades to existing heating and air conditioning systems and some building improvements.
The BPU’s Clean Energy Program promotes increased energy efficiency and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy. The County began the process in late 2014 to participate in the Local Government Energy Audit to identify cost-justified efficiency measures. This audit results provided the Board of Freeholders with various energy alternatives that can be implemented.
Over the course of several months, representatives from DCO Energy, Lawrenceville, visited each county location noted in the audit and did a complete review of the buildings.
“They looked at electric and natural gas usage, building architectural and engineering drawings, lighting systems, heating and air conditioning equipment and controls, roofs, windows, doorways, occupancy schedules and maintenance practices,” Vicari said.
Sometimes when U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur walks home from work at night, it hits him. He has a place six blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and at times he turns around and looks back at the dome as he leaves.
“I’ll realize there’s only been 12,000 people in the history of our nation who’ve served in Congress,” MacArthur said. “And here I am among them.”
MacArthur, R-3rd, is the area’s newest congressman. While he still gets caught up in the history of his position, five months in he seems to be settling in. He’s found a niche issue in Hurricane Sandy relief problems. He’s introduced bills and has served on committees and subcommittees. He’s even called for someone’s resignation: Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator W. Craig Fugate.
“There’s certainly been a learning curve,” MacArthur said after a May 26 press conference. “But I’ve found myself pretty quickly acclimating to Congress and understanding how to get things done. It’s a very human business, and the humanity is no different in Congress than it is in any other sector of society.”
That humanity was on display at a gathering inside the Bellinato residence, in Bayville, Ocean County, where MacArthur — whose district covers parts of southern Ocean and Burlington counties — listened to one post-Sandy horror story after another.
More than two years after the storm, the Bellinatos had finally moved into this newly built house in April. Now the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation program was saying the Bellinatos might have to pay back grant money because they’d also taken out a Small Business Administration mortgage. That was considered a duplication of benefits.
As he heard this story, MacArthur quickly filled both sides of a piece of paper with notes. He asked the occasional question. But he mostly listened to his constituents. He didn’t tout the bill he was about to announce. He waited 30 minutes, for the press conference, to do that.
The bill, his second to help ease the financial burden for Sandy victims, would amend existing law to ensure that getting a loan from the SBA doesn’t prohibit a family from getting other kinds of financial assistance after a disaster.
MacArthur announces bill to help Sandy victims
“He’s a good listener. He’s a problem solver,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, who’s been in Congress since 1995. “A lot of new members get here, and I sort of internally shake my head. Not MacArthur.”
In a light-hearted moment, MacArthur said to a man with a shaved head that he could tell how stressed he was over RREM asking for funds back.
“You pulled your hair out,” he told the man.
MacArthur’s head, too, is shaved and occasionally reflects light depending on where he’s standing. He’s a relatively short man and maintains a well-trimmed goatee. He wore a colorful tie that day, with orange, blue and pink stripes.
MacArthur, 54, grew up in Hebron, Connecticut, which has produced two other prominent politicians in U.S. Sen. and Vermont Gov. William A. Palmer and Connecticut Gov. John Samuel Peters. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra University and worked 28 years in the insurance industry, including 11 as chairman and CEO of York Risk Services Group. He served on Randolph Township Council, in Mercer County, from 2011 through 2013.
He’s been married to his wife, Debbie, for 32 years. He has two children: David, 25, and Isabella, 17. Another daughter, Gracie, died when he was 11.
New Jersey’s 12 U.S. Reps call for hearings on FEMA fraud
Following the press conference (between hellos and handshakes, leaving the event took almost as long as the event itself), MacArthur explained what it’s like to be a congressman. He talked about the opportunity to serve his neighbors. Reading lengthy bills before voting. Traveling through a system of byzantine tunnels underneath the Capitol.
In describing a day-in-the-life, he used “busy” four times and “intense” three times.
“There’s three concentric circles of activity,” he said, explaining the balancing act of representing a district, working on committees and subcommittees, and dealing with the daily business of the House of Representatives. “It’s all happening at the same time. There’s constant revising of schedules and re-evaluating what I’m doing.”
“It’s busy. It’s intense,” he added.
LoBiondo said he still remembers being a freshman congressman. He compared those days to trying to take a sip of water from a firehose.
“My recollection is that it’s so overwhelming,” LoBiondo said. “I think Tom has mastered that because he’s surrounded himself with people. He’s asking a lot of questions. He’s doing a lot of listening. And he’s using the resources available so he can make the best decisions possible for the people he represents.”
MacArthur earned his seat after a nasty and expensive election last November. His district was widely considered the most competitive in the state. The outgoing two-term incumbent, Jon Runyan, was a Republican, but President Barack Obama carried the district twice in presidential elections.
MacArthur resigned from Randolph Township Council and moved to Toms River, where he had a house, to run for the seat. During the campaign, MacArthur was called a carpetbagger and was accused in an ad of denying injury claims from firefighters when he owned York Risk Services. MacArthur planned to sue (he had sold the company prior to the claims mentioned in the ad), but the ad was pulled.
MacArthur said representing a competitive district “certainly comes into play” when voting on issues, but he said he’s never had to vote against his own beliefs. Despite representing a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans, MacArthur is very much a Republican. He has conservative stances on same-sex marriage, abortion and the Affordable Care Act.
“It’s not always been easy. I voted against my party on a number of key issues, and I’ve been beat up on a few of them, too,” MacArthur said. “Honestly, I don’t care. I look past it. I’m there to do a job. I’m there to represent my people, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
MacArthur has received some tips from colleagues as he enters his sixth month in Congress. One piece of advice, which he wouldn’t attribute, stood out to the freshman congressman.
“He said he spent the first six months trying to figure out how he got there,” MacArthur said. “He spent the last 19 and a half years trying to figure out how everyone else got there.”
Ocean County Freeholders Gerry Little and Joe Vicari wade into international diplomacy, urging U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to reject the multi-nation agreement that would curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions while easing its economic sanctions.
His colleague, Robert Menendez, is already a vocal opponent of the deal for which President Obama continues to campaign strenuously. Menendez has also parted ways with the President on normalization of relations with Cuba. Booker’s relations with the White House, by all overt indications, seem nowhere near as strained as the senior Senator’s.
It’s also drawn scorn from shore Congressman Tom MacArthur (R-3) and high ranking Senate Democrats including Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Pro-Israel groups, among many others, view the agreement as a threat to their homeland. And, as noted in a commentary published by nj.com, pro-Israel groups constituted some of Booker’s strongest financial supporters during his 2014 election. The Senator reportedly has met with advocates on both sides of the issue.
Each house would be required to achieve ‘nay’ votes by two-thirds of its members to reject it outright. In addition to Congress, the terms need approval in all participating countries, including Iran, where divisions about it are said to be as pronounced as they are in the US.
Spurred by what Little said were concerns brought to him by “many county residents,” he and Vicari characterized the pact as a “hollow document” in a message to Booker.
“The proposed treaty not only includes weak safeguards regarding Iran’s agreement not to develop nuclear weapons, but actually rewards its leaders with a $150 billion payoff for simply signing the accord,” the Freeholders said. This colossal amount of money will no doubt be used to fuel Iran’s continued aggression towards the United States and its allies in the Middle East.”
They suggest that the hundreds of billions that would reach Iran through relaxation of longstanding economic sanctions would be better spent in the United States.
Vicari criticized the idea that the agreement presents any hope for peaceful coexistence. “The safeguards are not strong enough and the 150 billion dollar reward to a nation that sponsors terrorism around the globe is nothing short of absurd.”
Read More: Freeholders urge Booker to reject Iran nuclear deal | http://wobm.com/freeholders-urge-booker-to-reject-iran-nuclear-deal/?trackback=tsmclip
TOMS RIVER – A stable financial outlook and a reaffirmation of the highest credit rating possible is helping Ocean County save almost $5 million.
“With our bond rating reaffirmed at AAA, and because of conservative financial planning by this Board of Freeholders we will save about $5 million on the recent refunding of bonds totaling about $77.4 million,” said Freeholder Director John C. Bartlett Jr., who serves as liaison to the county’s Finance Department. “The ongoing efforts of this Board of Freeholders to budget conservatively while providing the funds for our core services has resulted in us maintaining this credit rating resulting in this savings.”
Ocean County first received a AAA bond rating in 2010 with the rating agencies increasing it to a AAA with a stable outlook last year.
“That’s the best rating you can get,” Bartlett said. “This is our financial report card. We have a solid financial plan in this County, we follow it and this bond rating validates it.”
Ocean County recently refunded or refinanced $77,460,000 in bonds in order to reduce the interest rate and payment by the County.
“By selling these bonds on the market floor, we saw a percentage of savings of 5.1 percent on interest costs,” Bartlett said. “That yields a $4.7 million savings.”
Bartlett noted that refunding bonds is similar to an individual refinancing a mortgage.
“You refinance at a lower rate to save money,” Bartlett said. “That is what we do at the County but it’s on money we have borrowed for large, capital projects.”
Included in the $77.4 million was funding for upgrades to the county radio communications system, construction of the Ocean County Vocational Technical Schools Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, reconstruction of Brick Boulevard, the new terminal at the Ocean County Airport, Jakes Branch County Park, Beachwood and a host of engineering projects throughout the County.
“These bonds were issued in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008,” Bartlett said. “The refunding does not extend the life of the bonds.
“These projects are the bricks and mortar projects, they will be used for a very long time,” Bartlett said.
Bond rating houses Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings have both given Ocean County a AAA bond rating. Bond ratings range from Baa, the lowest, to AAA, the highest possible.
In 2014 Ocean County’s bond rating reached the highest rating possible – AAA stable outlook – with the revision from a negative outlook in 2013 by Moody’s Investor Services.
OCEAN COUNTY Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy recently completed his participation in the 106th session of the National Sheriff’s Institute held in Aurora, Colorado.
“This was a great opportunity to network with other sheriffs from across the country,” said Mastronardy, who was sworn in as Ocean County Sheriff in January. “You learn a lot from other people who are facing similar challenges.
“Everyone brings something to the table,” he said. “Everyone has experiences to share.”
Mastronardy joined with 25 other sheriffs from across the country exploring the role of the local sheriff in providing effective leadership for the public good in such areas as public safety, criminal justice system policy, community relations, and organization effectiveness and efficiency.
“Sheriff Mastronardy has taken a proactive approach in heading up the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department,” said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. “He shows great leadership skills and he is empowering the officers and staff to do the best possible job for Ocean County’s residents.”
The National Sheriff’s Institute is a no cost program co-sponsored by the National Institute of Corrections and the National Sheriff’s Association.
“Sheriff Mastronardy is a leader with vision for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office,” said Fred G. Wilson, NSA Director of Operations. “It is an honor to have Sheriff Mastronardy join the more than 2,500 graduates of the NSI since 1973.”
The NSA is a non-profit professional association located in Alexandria, Va. It represents nearly 3,100 elected sheriffs across the nation and has more than 20,000 members including law enforcement professionals, state and federal government employees, concerned citizens and students.
Since 1940 the NSA has served as an information clearinghouse for law enforcement professionals.
“Information is one of the most powerful tools we have in order to do the best job possible,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “Our Sheriff is in charge of public safety, from the courts to emergency management and a host of other areas. Staying up to date by participating in programs like the National Sheriff’s Institute will provide benefits to all our residents.”
BERKELEY TOWNSHIP – Ocean County officials today joined with representatives from the FAA, the state and local organizations in marking the completion of the Crosswind Runway at the Ocean County Airport, here.
“This is the first runway constructed in New Jersey since 1983,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the airport. “This runway provides a safer landing alternative for smaller aircraft during adverse wind and weather conditions.
“It is a project that we have worked on for many years and I am happy to be here today to highlight its completion and to extend my appreciation to the great partnerships that came together to make this happen,” Vicari said.
A Crosswind Runway had been planned at the airpark since it opened in 1968. With the help of substantial Federal Aviation Administration grants, and funding from the state, the County was able to construct the new runway providing for a safer airport.
“The safety of the pilots using the airpark is of the utmost importance to the County,” Vicari said. “The airpark is used for more than just private planes. It serves an important role when it comes to public safety, and housing aircraft that are used by public safety agencies.”
While the Crosswind runway is about 3,400 feet, far shorter than the existing 6,000-foot runway, it was not an easy project to do and Ocean County faced many obstacles.
“Ocean County Airport is located in the Pinelands Preservation Area, which has some of the strictest environmental standards anywhere,” Vicari noted. “After seven years, we worked out an agreement with the New Jersey Pinelands Commission that allowed us to move forward.”
While the regulatory process was challenging, Ocean County recognized the need to protect this unique area of New Jersey and incorporated many environmental features into the project.
“We kept our commitment to the Pinelands Commission and we believe that the environmental measures we have put into place will permanently enhance the habitat of the surrounding area,” Vicari said.
The Harrisburg Office of the Federal Aviation Administration worked with the County during the ups and downs of the regulatory process and when the Pinelands agreement was executed, the FAA immediately secured the funding necessary to start construction.
“That was a feat unto itself due to the declining federal budget,” Vicari said.
Of the $8.2 million dollar price tag, the FAA secured 90 percent of the funding for it. The New Jersey Department of Transportation was able to offset some of the local match that Ocean County was required to provide.
“We also cannot forget the assistance provided to us by the New York FAA when we started this whole process,” Vicari said. “We appreciate the help they gave us in moving through the environmental assessment process and not giving up on us.
“A big thank you also goes to our consultants and sub-consultants who worked on this project to ensure it would be approved and funding would be received,” Vicari said. “And, to our pilots, thank you for your patience. I know the wait was frustrating and there were doubts from time to time that this project would ever come to reality. But we got here and we are very proud to have worked with you.”
Vicari noted the airport plays an important role in public safety and the new runway will help enhance that.
As an example, Vicari noted that several years ago, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service pulled out of the airport, due to the lack of a crosswind runway.
“Once the runway was nearing completion, we contacted the Fire Service and quickly negotiated their return to the airport,” Vicari said.
“Some of you may remember that a few months ago a major forest fire broke out that threatened several neighborhoods just a few miles from here. The fire grew quickly due to strong winds and the Fire Service responded immediately,” Vicari said. “Personnel from the Fire Service attended a Freeholder meeting afterwards and credited the use of the crosswind runway with helping the fire service in its efforts to save many homes from destruction.”
In addition to the new runway, in recent years, county, state and federal funds have helped pay to widen the existing runway, extend the taxiway, install a stormwater control system, construct new hangars, install a new system of signs and lights and rehabilitate the taxiways and apron.
“This airpark is an important element of the county’s transportation program,” Vicari said. “It’s essential the facilities be kept current and at up-to-date standards.”
The airpark is located on 420 acres in Berkeley Township about five miles west of Toms River. A precision approach facility, it features a 6,000 foot runway and accommodates various aircraft, including private airplanes, small corporate jets, the state Forest Fire Service planes, the Civil Air Patrol and Emergency Services aircraft.
TOMS RIVER – Halfway through the year, Ocean County’s budget will surpass $400 million, with millions of dollars added to help superstorm Sandy victims.
The county Board of Freeholders on Wednesday introduced an amendment that would increase the proposed 2014 budget an additional $35.6 million, bringing it to $435.6 million, the result of last-minute revenue from the state and federal governments, most of which is earmarked for victims of superstorm Sandy.
The spending plan, first introduced in March, finally is expected to be adopted Wednesday.
County Comptroller Julie N. Tarrant said $33.8 million represents federal disaster aid to county residents in the form of the Sandy Homeowner/Renter Assistance Program, also known as SHRAP.
Financial assistance is available to help individuals and families with expenses for housing, current or past due utility payments and for the replacement of essential items such as furniture and appliances. To be eligible, the expense must be a direct result of the disaster, according to the state Department of Human Services.
The program is limited to six months of assistance per household. In order to be eligible for the program, an individual or family must have financial distress directly related to housing, which is a direct result of the Oct. 29, 2012, disaster. They also must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident; currently not receiving Work First New Jersey benefits or eligible for Supplemental Security Income emergency assistance and a blood relative of an affected household, all according to the state department.
The remaining $1.8 million in the budget amendment is earmarked for the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and constitutes revenue generated by the state Superior Court in Toms River owed that law enforcement agency, Tarrant said.
The five-member, all-Republican freeholder board will meet in a special public session at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday to adopt the amendment and the budget in the first floor meeting room of the Ocean County Administration Building at 101 Hooper Ave. in Toms River.
“This amendment today has no effect on the county tax rate or what we raise in taxation or on future county budgets,” said Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who is director of finance on the board.