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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Christ Church Newton Offers Evensong in Anticipation of Epiphany

NEWTON, N.J. – In anticipation of the Feast of the Epiphany, Christ Episcopal Church in Newton will offer Choral Evensong on Twelfth Night, the Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany, Thursday, Jan. 5, 7 p.m. 

Evensong, the choral version of the evening prayer liturgy used in the Anglican tradition, will be sung by the Christ Church Newton Senior Choir under the direction of music director Joe Mello. The choir will chant the evening service by Merbecke and offer the anthem “Arise, Shine, for thy Light is Come” by Healey Willan. Christ Church Interim Rector Tim Mulder will preach. 

The event is free and open to the public, although a free-will offering will be taken. Christ Church is located at 62 Main Street in Newton. For more information about Christ Episcopal Church call 973-383-2245 or visit www.christchurchnewton.org.

FREE Kayak Rentals Offered at White Lake  

Warren County and the NJ Youth Corps are pleased to continue the Kayaking Program at White Lake.  The popular program runs from May 4th through September.  Kayaks will be available for use on Tuesdays from 4-7pm and rentals are free to the public. 

All participants must bring a completed Release and Liability Waiver before the kayak trip. Please download and print the form, fill it out, and bring it with you. Copies of these forms will also be available on site.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there will be a limited number of kayaks available by RESERVATION ONLY to ensure adequate social distancing.

To make a reservation, contact Aaron Rosado, Preserve Manager of White Lake. Rosado runs this program and is responsible for the care and maintenance of White Lake.

“I am the eyes and ears of White Lake”. Rosado explains.  

About Rosado, after completing AmeriCorps, Rosado discovered what he wanted to do. “I want to help others by maintaining and showcasing our public lands. I believe the outdoors are therapeutic and can change one’s perspective entirely.” Rosado said.

For more Information, https://warrenparks.com/kayak-rentals-2/ OR call 973 937-8748, Monday-Friday from the hours of 9am-3pm.

Some rules for White Lake

White Lake Fun Fact: 

The name “White Lake” comes from the white chalky material that lines the bottom of the lake. This is called “marl”. Marl is composed of freshwater shells and clay and long ago was processed for use in fertilizer and cement. The water takes on a tropical coloring on account of the sunlight hitting the white shells on the lake bottom.

White Lake is deep and covers 69 acres. It is part of the 469-acre White Lake Natural Resource Area, a gem within the Warren County Park System. Ample parking is located in Hardwick Township, off Route 521 (Stillwater Road), about three miles from Blairstown. The property has a dock, hiking trails and fields of beautiful wildflowers. Motorized boats are not allowed.

More can be learned about White Lake by visiting the website warrenparks.com

Kayak Fun Facts: 

Kayaks have been used for 4,000 years. In Munich, Germany, you can see the world’s most seasoned, enduring kayaks. These kayaks are from the year 1577.

Kayaking helps control the heart rate and it is scientifically proven that this sport is very beneficial.

Kayaking elevates endorphins, which improves the mood of the paddlers.

Moonlight Paddle Program 

Soil Contamination Issues Persist in Blairstown

In early 2020, over 200 tandem dump trucks arrived at 50 Mt. Vernon Road carrying loads of dirty fill to be left on the residential property. 

Blairstown Tax Map / Photo by A. Tironi, June 2022

Containing pieces of glass, asphalt, seashells and solid waste, the dumped material was originally tested in 2021 by LSRP Brockerhoff Environmental Services. 

The 2021 report found mercury, chlordane and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon contaminants above Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) standards in its sample collections. Due to these contaminants, Brockerhoff classified the dumping as a hazardous waste spill

Since those original testings, another LSRP has been assigned to the property. Peak Environmental visited the site early this year to collect additional fill samples from 26 test pits that were dug deeper and ranged over a larger portion of the property. 

Mike Suk, 50 Mt. Vernon neighbor and homeowner, came before the Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) to provide updates on these soil contamination issues at a meeting on June 8.  

Suk informed the BTC that contamination results from the 26 test pits, most recently inspected, are in and he is currently waiting on the finished report.

According to Suk and his communications with Brockerhoff, the original LSRP planned to remove all contaminated soil and test the aquifer— if affected it could contaminate all wells in the surrounding area. 

However, under the supervision of Peak Environmental, an aquifer contamination test may not be recommended. It is routine for LSRP’s to create specific Mitigration to Ground Water standards depending on site conditions, that may not be skewed by DEP standards. 

At the BTC meeting, Suk read an excerpt from an email sent to him by the DEP.

“While [the DEP] cannot predict an LSRP’s actions, for your planning purposes you should be aware that it is common for an LSRP not to recommend aquifer testing if residual soil contaminants do not exceed site specific Migration to Ground Water remediation standards.”

Suk told the BTC there’s no guarantee these contaminants haven’t reached water sources. “I don’t want to come back here 20 years from now and find that people in our township came down with some type of cancer or ailment due to us not doing our jobs. 

Suk stated that he and other concerned Blairstown residents are “dead set on having every bit of that soil removed from that property.” 

The Blairstown Land Use Board’s Soil and Fill Ordinance states, “unregulated and uncontrolled placement and movement of soil and other mineral deposits can result in conditions detrimental to the public safety, health and general welfare.” 

All soil movement and filling operations must be approved by the Township Zoning Officer or Township Engineer. With this in mind, Suk requested the township engineer and environmental engineer assist in overseeing Peak Environmental’s report and its remediation plan. 

Mayor Robert Moorhead assured Suk, “that report will be looked over carefully.”

Poor Air Quality from Planned Warehouse Traffic Through Knowlton?

It’s difficult to measure the distance a home run covered if you know where it landed but not where it started. For the same reason officials in Knowlton want establish a baseline for air quality on Route 46 before the influx of trucks expected with the planned warehouses in White Township and Mount Bethel, Pa.

Mayor Adele Starrs said the township has requested that an air quality monitor already in place from the state Department of Environmental Protection be adapted to measure small particles associated with highway exhaust.

The monitor was originally put in place to measure air quality while coal-fired power plants in just across the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side were operating. The plants have since been decommissioned but in an ironic twist, could become the site of future warehouses that would generate their own air-quality issues.

“Having that data is really important,” Starrs said, of the measurements that would be taken before the traffic patterns change. “We will need that as a baseline for comparison.”

While the full scope and timetable of the warehouse construction has not yet been determined, Starrs said state and county officials have estimated the projects could add as many as 15,000 vehicles to Route 46 through portions of Warren County. The same roadways currently see a daily traffic volume of between 11,000 and 14,000 vehicles, according to the Warren County Transportation Master Plan.

The microscopic particles generated by vehicle exhaust, frequently referred to as PM 2.5 because of their size, indicating the size, include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen monoxide. The particles, which measure 2.5 microns or less, can also include water vapor, mercury and unburned fuel. For comparison, there are 25,000 microns in an inch.

The monitors being requested by the township would need adjusted to be able to detect particles of that size.

Once a baseline has been established, officials would then be able to determine any changes in the amount of pollutants after highway traffic increases.

Live Music Revival Kicks Off at the Ramsayburg Homestead in Knowlton

Dancers enjoying the good vibes from the band, Yarn, at the Kickoff Concert at the Ramsayburg Homestead, June 15th, / Photo Credit: J. Phalon, June 2022

The Ramsayburg Homestead Summer Concert Series continues with blues guitarist Toby Walker July 25, at 3 p.m.

On the banks of the Delaware River, the Ramsayburg Homestead Amphitheater is celebrating the return of live music following the pandemic. Organizer Jeff Rusch said 2022 is his first year at the helm of the series, and that he was pleased to be a part of the revival of live music on the Delaware.

Several hundred people attended the opening show, featuring the band, Yarn, at Ramsayburg Homestead on June 15th / Photo Credit: J. Phalon, June 2022

“It’s really great to see the turnout,” Rusch said, of the several hundred people who attended the opening show on May 15, with the band Yarn and their Highways of Americana show.

Yarn played at Ramsayburg Homestead to appreciative onlookers. / Photo Credit: J. Phalon, June 2022

A veteran D.J. and music guy, Rusch said the contacts he has made over the years have helped him attract talent to the Knowlton Township venue.

Jeff Rusch, a veteran ‘music guy’ from radio, in charge @ Ramsayburg Homestead at the Yarn concert, May 15th. / Photo courtesy of S. Rusch, June 2022

Walker’s solo show on June 25 will be preceded by a guitar workshop at 1 p.m. More information on the workshop can be found at his website, LittleTobyWalker.com.

Through stories and songs, Walker brings listeners along on his journey through the Deep South, where he learned the roots of the Blues. He counts Blues guitar legends Etta James and James “Son” Thomas among his mentors.

Walker uses a variety of instruments during his show, including Toby uses a variety of instruments, including a one-string diddley bow, National Steel guitars, harmonicas and even a cigar box guitar.

A donation of $10 is suggested for the show, and concertgoers are welcome to bring lawn chairs and even arrive up to an hour early and bring a picnic to the natural amphitheater at Ramsayburg.

Located on Route 46, just south of the Delaware Water Gap, the Ramsayburg Homestead and its structures are all that remains of the 55-acre tract originally settled in 1795 by Irish immigrants James and Adam Ramsay. There, the brothers found a tavern that they continued operating, and added a store followed by a post office, lumberyard, sawmill and blacksmith shop.

The buildings still standing on the remaining 12 acres of the estate were built between 1800 and 1870 and include the tavern building, cottages, barn and other outbuildings.

The New Jersey Green Acres program took possession of the property in 2000 and included it in the Beaver Brook Wildlife Management area, the state Department of Environmental Protection lacked the resources to maintain the structures on the land. The Knowlton Township Historic Commission stepped in and arranged a lease of the property to preserve the buildings

with multiple state, federal and private grants. The hamlet is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The layout of the property offers access to the Delaware River for canoes and kayaks and also offers pristine location for outdoor music.

Other artists scheduled for the concert series this summer and fall include the jazz of the Karl Latham Quartet on July 16, the Alex Radus Band on Aug. 28 and Don Elliker with his band, Me and My Big Ideas, on Oct. 1.

Blairstown Honored Those Who Sacrificed All at the Memorial Day Parade on May 30th

After skipping 2020 for the pandemic and a saturated day last year, the Blairstown Memorial Day parade kicked off under bright blue skies and sunshine the afternoon of May 30. Sponsored by the Givens-Belet Post 258 American Legion since 1945, the events began with veteran memorial services at Cedar Ridge Cemetery with the parade then winding north on Route 94 to Footbridge Park.

Live Entertainment Venues

1. CENTENARY STAGE COMPANY @ The Lackland Performing Arts Center 

http://www.centenarystageco.org/ 

LOCATION: 715 Grand Ave, Hackettstown, NJ 07840
PHONE: 908-979-0900

Centenary Stage Company produces full-scale productions with its mainstage Equity Company and with the Young Performers Workshop, as well as offering concerts and special events in the new state-of-the-art Lackland Center featuring a 485-seat theatre and a 120-seat Black Box space for smaller productions.

2. DuBOIS THEATRE @ Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the ArtsBlair Academy

https://www.blair.edu/

LOCATION: 2 Park Place, Blairstown NJ, 07825
PHONE: 908-362-6126

Blair’s lively arts scene features student concerts and theatrical productions, professional art exhibits in the Romano Gallery, annual Bartow Series performances and workshops, and more. Our community celebrates the arts, and we encourage everyone to experience and participate in our many on-campus arts events.

3. HOPEWELL THEATER

https://hopewelltheater.com/

LOCATION: 5 S. Greenwood Ave, Hopewell, NJ 08525
PHONE: 609-466-1964

The Hopewell Theater is a 180-seat theater featuring independent films, live music, comedy and performances. With flexible seating options, from intimate banquette table seating to traditional fixed theater seats and a balcony.

4. NEWTON THEATRE “The Newt”

skypac.org

LOCATION: 234 Spring Street, Newton NJ, 07860
PHONE: 973-940-NEWT (6398)

The Newton Theatre is a beautifully restored 600-seat performing arts center in the heart of Sussex County, presenting diverse programming, including world-renowned music acts, comedians, family shows and much more, in an intimate setting.  Iconic performers such as Judy Collins, Lyle Lovett, Kansas, Arlo Guthrie, Jon Anderson, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra have all graced the stage.

5. PAX AMICUS CASTLE THEATRE

http://www.paxamicus.com/about.htm 

LOCATION: 23 Lake Shore RoadBud Lake, NJ 07828
PHONE: 973-691-2100

Pax Amicus is a first-rate community theatre specializing in contemporary comedies, dramas, and musicals for the public with cast-calls open to all adults over the age of 16.

6. ROY’S HALL

https://royshall.org

LOCATION: 30 Main Street, Blairstown, NJ 07825
PHONE: 908-362-1399

Roy’s Hall is a forum for artists who best exemplify world traditions, reflect contemporary trends and explore artistic frontiers, and by nurturing the artistic and cultural life of its own community in and around the Skylands region of New Jersey.

7. RUTHERFURD HALL

https://rutherfurdhall.org/event/spring-arts-festival/

LOCATION: 1686 Country Road 517Hackettstown, NJ 0784
PHONE: 908-280-3654

Rutherfurd Hall is a cultural center and museum owned and managed by the Allamuchy Township Board of Education. For ten years it has provided educational and enrichment programs to the public. Information regarding Rutherfurd Hall consort series and theatrical performances please see our calendar.

8. SHAWNEE PLAYHOUSE

https://www.shawneeplayhouse.org

LOCATION: 552 River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA, 18356
PHONE: 570-421-5093

The Shawnee Players, consisting mainly of local actors and actresses, performed here to enthusiastic audiences from 1904 to World War II.  In 1943, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians began to broadcast their famous radio programs from the Hall.

9. THE SHERMAN THEATER

https://shermantheater.com/

LOCATION: 524 Main Street, Stroudsburg, PA, 18360
PHONE: 570-420-2808

The Sherman Theater first debuted on January 7th, 1929; exposing the Stroudsburg area to newfound cultural beginnings on opening night with Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. Through the decades, the theater became the central point of the community. The Sherman Theater is proud to have served our community by featuring demanded artists, assisting in the betterment of the community, and always having our doors open for the public!

10. THE STANHOPE HOUSE

https://stanhopehousenj.com/

LOCATION: 45 Main St, Stanhope, NJ, 07874
PHONE: 973-347-7777

The Stanhope House is a small venue located in a quiet New Jersey town. In the past, it focused on blues music, but now shows range from rap to pop punk and folk. Be sure to check out the beer garden during the warmer months!

Sophomores Help Pope John Baseball Secure 7-6 Win on Senior Night, May 17th

Anyone that has seen the movie ‘Miracle on Ice’ has heard the famous question – “Do you believe in miracles?” That’s what the fans were saying on May 17th as the Pope John Lions defeated the Roxbury Gaels 7-6 on a two-run walk-off single from Sophomore Brandon Weir.

Two other Sophomores would be the key to win as Sophomore pitcher Parker Rutowski held the Gaels to only one earned run. To set up Weir’s walk off single, Sophomore Marco Bonfiglio walked after a stellar 8-pitch at bat. The Lions were able to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning with a sacrifice flyout by Senior Frank Ciccone, scoring Senior Gabe Weir.

Gabe Weir scoring the tying run in the First inning / Photo Credit: A. Nowel, May 2022

The score stayed tied at 1 until the Gaels added two runs in the third inning and another two runs in the fourth inning. With the Gaels leading 5-1, the Lions faced a tough predicament. The situation would get worse as the Gaels would add another run in the top of the sixth inning, but Rutowski would work his way out of the inning to limit the damage.

Pope John Sophomore Pitcher Parker Rutowski dominating on the mound / Photo Credit: A. Nowel, May 2022

“Pitching well felt good since this one of the first times I came out and dominated,” said Rutowski. “I was a little nervous to pitch the top of the seventh, but I knew that we could hit and trusted my teammates to finish the job after I did my job.”

The Lions’ offense finally came alive when Gaels Junior pitcher Justin Ford couldn’t find the strike zone. Sophomore Mac Tufts was able to get on base to get the inning started and came around to score when Freshman Jack Portman stayed patient at the plate, drawing a RBI walk. Junior Brian McKenna would also be patient and win the battle at the plate with a RBI walk.

Pope John Sophomore Mac Tufts at bat in the sixth inning / Photo Credit: A. Nowel, May 2022

The Gaels would get out of the inning with only this damage done, but the Lions’ weren’t done. Going into the top of the inning, Lions Head Coach Sean Bierman thought about taking out Rutowski, but decided to keep him in. Rutowski shut down the Gaels one final time, giving the Lions an opportunity to complete the comeback.

Tufts, again, got on base to start the inning followed by Senior Nolan Niziol hitting the ball into the right-center gap for a RBI triple. McKenna came to the plate and doubled Niziol in and suddenly it was a 1-run game.

With two outs and a runner on second, Bonfiglio came to the plate. He had struck out both times in the game, but he worked the count to 3-2. Bonfiglio fouled off the next three pitches and stayed patient, walking to bring up Brandon Weir.

Pope John Sophomore Brandon Weir after the win / Photo Credit: A. Nowel, May 2022

“I felt a lot of anticipation, waiting during Marco’s [Bonfiglio] at bat,” said Weir. “I’ve known Marco for a long time, and I know he could get the job done in stressful situations and that’s what he did.”

All nerves would be settled as Weir hit a hard ground ball off of the glove of the shortstop and into the outfield. McKenna scored easily, but Junior pinch-runner Ayden Alexander would be waved home by Coach Bierman in a close play. The throw was too late and the Lions ran onto the field in celebration.

The Seniors were exceedingly grateful to Weir for winning the game, but also felt happy to have won this big game at home and on Senior Night.

“It felt great, I was honestly excited to be out there,” said Senior outfielder Steve Mesaros. “I’m really glad we were able to battle and win.”

Gaels Head Coach Ryan Roumes was upset about the loss, but felt his team still played well even though they didn’t pull out the win.

“We hadn’t been playing too well lately, but we came and played well for a while in this game,” said Coach Roumes. “Pope John [the Lions] gets all the credit, they battled and they came back hard.”

Deadline Extended for Applications to the Warren County Community College Trustee Board

PRESS RELEASE: Warren County, NJ (June 1, 2022) – The Warren County Community College Trustee Search Committee has extended its application deadline to June 30, 2022, seeking persons interested in serving as Trustees of the Warren County Community College.

Applicants shall have been residents of Warren County for at least four years, and cannot currently hold any elected public office or be employed by Warren County or Warren County Community College.

College trustees must be available approximately 20 hours per month. Trustee duties include: fiscal and operational oversight of the institution; setting policies and procedures to be implemented by the college administration; evaluation of the college president and appointment of other staff; determination of the educational curriculum and programs consistent with the institution’s mission; development and approval of master planning concepts; and preparation of reports to New Jersey Higher Education, the Warren County Board of County Commissioners and the community in general.

Interested applicants are required to submit resumes, a letter outlining their interest and ability to fulfill the role of WCCC trustee, and any other pertinent material by Thursday, June 30, 2022.  Please send applications to Chairperson, Warren County Community College Trustee Search Committee, c/o Board of County Commissioners Office, 165 County Route 519 South, Belvidere, NJ  07823.

Jersey Shore and Lakeshores Declared Ready for Summer

PRESS RELEASE: NJ DEP (May 24. 2022) – Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette says New Jersey is ready for a stellar summer season following review of water quality monitoring and visits to both the Jersey Shore and North Jersey lakeshores ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of the outdoor summer season.

Coastal monitoring flights and preseason sampling confirmed that beaches and water quality are in great shape, Commissioner LaTourette announced during the annual State of the Shore event in Asbury Park, which followed the Commissioner’s visits to Greenwood Lake, Lake Musconetcong and Lake Hopatcong Tuesday, May 24th.

During the event, Commissioner LaTourette noted that Governor Murphy announced that entrance to all state parks, forests and recreation areas will be free this summer for all visitors, regardless of state residency.  Anyone who already purchased a 2022 annual State Park Pass will automatically receive a full refund. Other individual park fees remain in place, including but not limited to camping, interpretive programs, and mobile sport fishing permits.

The State of the Shore address is held every year heading into Memorial Day weekend to update the public on the status of beach readiness and water quality monitoring. The annual event is sponsored by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, which is made up of academic institutions and organizations dedicated to coastal and marine research, education and outreach. State of the Shore has taken on even more importance as New Jersey grapples with the adverse impacts of climate change, including coastal erosion and increasingly hot summers.

Overall, New Jersey’s beaches are healthy due to a combination of relatively mild winter storm seasons the past four years and continued efforts by federal, state and local governments to bolster state beaches through beach renourishment projects, according to findings by the Sea Grant Consortium.

“New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium is honored to release the State of the Shore report once again,” said Dr. Peter Rowe, Executive Director. “Our beaches are what defines our beautiful coastal state and this report is integral in examining their condition. As you will read in the report, New Jersey’s sandy shores are in good shape and ready for the 2022 summer season.”

“In spite of two back-to-back late season Nor’easters, state and federal investments in beach nourishment in the decade since Superstorm Sandy, along with a mild winter have left the majority of New Jersey’s beaches in good condition heading into the Memorial Day weekend,” said Dr. Jon K. Miller, the Coastal Processes Specialist for New Jersey Sea Grant Consortiumand a Research Associate Professor, as well as Director of the Coastal Engineering Research Group at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, Hudson County.

The Murphy Administration has also made support for New Jersey’s inland lake communities a priority, and Commissioner LaTourette kicked off the summer season along New Jersey’s lakeshores with a visit to Greenwood Lake, Lake Musconetcong and Lake Hopatcong. These lake communities are go-to destinations for summer recreation and key drivers of local economies.

“We were extremely pleased to welcome Commissioner LaTourette back to Lake Hopatcong,” said Martin ‘Marty’ Kane, Chairman of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.  

“It is wonderful that the Commissioner visited three of our public lakes to see for himself the many challenges they are confronting. Through collaboration with the DEP staff and our local officials, we are starting to see real progress with many important projects to ensure Lake Hopatcong remains one of the state’s real treasures.”   

“The Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board, the municipal representatives, Assembly members and state Senators are extremely pleased with the genuine concern and interest shown by the Commissioner,” said Earl Riley, Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board Chairman.

“We all look forward to a growing positive relationship between the local lake communities and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.”

About Coastal Monitoring

The Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program is one aspect of the comprehensive New Jersey Beach Monitoring Program which evaluates water quality; conducts aerial visual assessments of coastal waters and shoreline conditions; tracks chronic water quality problems in partnership with DEP’s Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring and local health authorities; and uses prison inmates to remove floatables and other debris from tidal shorelines.

Debris removal enhances the beauty of natural resources, protects wildlife habitats and provides safer navigation in state waterways. Last year, the Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program collected and analyzed 3,753 ocean, bay and river water quality samples. New Jersey in the last three years has had zero ocean beach closures as a result of exceedances of the primary recreation bacterial standard. Several ocean closures last summer stemmed from heavy rains that led to Combined Sewer Overflows from the New York / New Jersey Harbor. A combination of wind direction, surface currents and tides pushed floatable materials onto New Jersey beaches after the heavy storms.

Advisories and closures are rare, generally occurring after heavy rainstorms that can carry nutrients and bacteria in runoff from pet waste and wildlife such as gulls, geese and other warm-blooded animals into recreational waters. Bay and river beaches that do not have good natural circulation are more likely to experience closures.

The most significant impact on water quality at recreational bathing beaches continues to be nonpoint source pollution transported by stormwater and discharging through outfalls to waterways which can increase bacteria concentrations near stormwater outfall pipes. The Beach Monitoring Program will continue Source Tracking Projects to find and eliminate nonpoint source pollution impacting recreational bathing beaches.

In addition, the DEP’s efforts to combat non-point source pollution include the state rules and guidance for stormwater management, development and implementation of Long-Term Control Plans to address CSOs, and 319(h) Water Quality Restoration Grants to mitigate Nonpoint Source Pollution.

Visitors can get up-to-date information on all water sampling results and beach notifications by visiting https://njbeaches.org/. The public can use this website to get beach status information (open, under advisory or closed), reports, and fact sheets, as well as a link to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission website to purchase a Shore to Please license plate.  Proceeds from the sale of these plates fund the work of the New Jersey Beach Monitoring Program.

Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep 

Local Candidates for the 2022 Primary Elections, Tuesday, June 7th:

A. Blairstown Township Committee – (Vote for one)

  • Republican G. Eric Lohman G. – Eric.Lohman@gmail.com
  • Republican Karen Lance – kbartlettlance@yahoo.com

B. Frelinghuysen Township Committee – (Vote for two)

  • Republican Robert H. Stock – rhstockftc@gmail.com
  • Republican Keith C. Ramos – kramosftc@gmail.com

C. Hardwick Township Committee – (Vote for one)

  • Republican Nichole L. Meuse – nichole.meuse@gmail.com

D. Knowlton Township Committee – (Vote for one)

  • Republican Frank C. Van Horn – Fmvanhorn@earthlink.net

Countywide, Democratic candidates are only running in the municipalities of Alpha and Washington Boro.

E. Warren County Clerk – (Vote for 1)

  • REPUBLICAN(S): Holly Mackey hollymackey519@gmail.com
  • DEMOCRAT(S): No Petition Filed
  • Warren County Sheriff – (Vote for 1)
    REPUBLICAN(S): James J. McDonald Sr. macj7601@hotmail.com
    Todd W. Pantuso toddpanz@gmail.com
    DEMOCRAT(S): No Petition Filed
    Warren County Commissioner – (Vote for 1)
    REPUBLICAN(S): Jason J. Sarnoski sarnoski@hotmail.com
    DEMOCRAT(S): Theresa Bender Chapman tbc4commissioner@gmail.co

Check your sample ballots for the voting place and options. Visit https://www.warrencountyvotes.com/elections/ for more information or contact the Warren County Clerk’s office:

ADDRESS

Warren County Clerk
Warren County Courthouse
413 Second St.
Belvidere, New Jersey 07823

CALL

908-475-6211

EMAIL

Warren County Clerk

Blairstown Tax Hike Approved in 2022 Municipal Budget 

On May 11th the Blairstown Township Committee voted with a 3-2 majority to approve the 2022 municipal budget, which brings a $450 tax increase to the average property owner.  The vote took place following an animated public hearing where Blairstown taxpayers raised questions and concerns regarding this year’s tax bill. 

The first resident to speak, Joe Rich, asked the Township Committee for a budget break down. “The public deserves an explanation”, stated Rich. 

Blairstown Auditor John Mooney reiterated the township’s financial situation. He described that after years of balancing the budget off of the NJ Energy Receipts Tax afforded to the township by Yard’s Creek, the stagnant State Aid is no longer the financial savior it used to be. When the township’s savings began to run dry, a municipal tax was introduced. 

Mooney explained, “We have started addressing the capital needs of the town which kind of have been put off…going out taking care of the roads, taking care of a bridge, taking care of vehicles, equipment and maintenance items.” 

Under the 2022 Municiple Tax Budget, $767,375 is devoted to Capital Projects. “We are finally being fiscally responsible with our spending,” stated Mayor Robert Moorhead. 

Resident Wayne Dixon asked the Township to take a closer look at its Capital Fund allotment. 

Dixon pointed out, “I noticed that every single year, we’re spending $76,000 to buy a new police car. We have eight vehicles lined up back there— some old, some new. Is that totally necessary? Can we buy one every other year?” 

According to Committee member Charles Makatura, the short answer is no. 

“When you take a patrol car out…that car runs for the entire shift, you don’t shut them off. There’s so much electronics in them now you can’t shut them off, they’ll overheat. They don’t have the lifespan that an ordinary automobile may have,” said Makatura. 

Dixon then moved on to question open space and historic farmland preservation. In 2022, nearly $170,000 will go towards the acquisition and protection of undeveloped land. 

“We take tax dollars, and we go out, buy a piece of land…And the first thing that happens with our property is that it comes off the tax rolls. So, the taxpayer has put tax dollars up front, and they lose the tax revenue on the back end. That doesn’t sound like a really good idea,” said Dixon. 

Mayor Moorhead disagreed with Dixon on the value of these types of investments. 

“You will always get pushback from me if you’re gonna question open space…the most valuable thing we can do for generations to come is to preserve what we have. And that is our open space,” said Moorhead.

Blairstown resident Rita Gross stood up and stated, “But we have so much property in Blairstown, but we still have no place to walk.” 

She continued, “We have Sycamore Park, we have Footbridge Park – which is underwater half the time, and we have no walking trail.” 

The Mayor assured Gross that two new pieces of open space – the property across the street from North Warren Regional High School and the stretch of farmland between First Hope Bank and the Blairstown Dairy, would both host a one mile walking trail. 

At the conclusion of the public hearing, a vote was taken. Mayor Moorhead, Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt and Committee member Makatura voted in favor of adopting the budget. Committee members Joanne Van Valkenburg and Debra Waldron voted against it.

Grand Opening Day of the “Blairstown Farmers Market” – Saturday, June 4th

Tis the Season to buy fresh local produce plus so much more at the Blairstown Farmers Market on Saturdays, from 9:30 to 1 PM, starting June 4th.

The Blairstown famers Market has been a successful Market providing locally grown and produced food to our community for the past 15 years. Most vendors at the market are 25 miles of Blairstown.

The vendors offer everything from abundant produce, meats, local honey, artisan deserts and breads, fruit and eggs plus pickled and prepared foods. Special market events will take place throughout the market season. Every market day features live music and children’s activities.

The farmers market will be having its Grand Opening Saturday, June 4th, 9:30 AM to 1 PM. The market season runs from June to October 29. Remember BYOB, bring your own bag please. 

The Market is located at 5 Stillwater Road (Route 521) across from the Blairstown Elementary School and next to the Blairstown Firehouse. Except for handicapped visitors, parking for non-vendors is at the school.  

In 2007, a group of people got together and decided Blairstown needed a farmers’ market. The first Market was at the Givens Bellet. It grew organically into the thriving market we all look forward to today. After a couple of years, the Market outgrew the space at Givens Bellet. It was moved to its present location in town.

 

Kendrya Close, executive director of The Foodshed Alliance said, “When we started the market, we only had eight farmers.”

“From our first Market Day, our community supported the Market,” She elaborated. “The Farmers’ Market is successful because of the vibe. It is a gathering place, a community event where you can have friendly conversations with your neighbors and help support your local farming community.  This makes for an ideal family friendly experience! I like to think of our Market as “The little market that could.” 

The Blairstown Farmers’ Market will again accept EBT/SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) participants this year. Simply bring the EBT card to the Foodshed Alliance table. The Market Manager will swipe the card for the amount that is needed and give Tokens that can be used to buy groceries from participating fresh food vendors at the Market.

This year, SNAP participants will receive $20 extra in free “Good Food Bucks” each Market Day to spend on fresh produce. This benefit is made possible thanks to a grant from the Garden State Good Food Program, administered by City Green, a nonprofit working to improve access to fresh, locally grown foods.

Close works with Lisa Kelly, Development and Communications Director. They have been working together from the start. The dynamic duo has seen The Foodshed Alliance evolve into a 501C3 food and farm organization. The goals of the organization are to create sustainability in this beautiful region.  

L-R: Lisa Kelly and Kendrya Close outside their office at 326 High Street in Hope / Photo Credit: MB Journe
  • Another successful endeavor, the Foodshed Alliance now owns preserved farmland in Sussex County where it leases 66 acres to nine new sustainable farm businesses. 
  • Did you know The Foodshed Alliance has a “Gleaning” program? This program was created so volunteers may harvest the extra produce from the farms. Foodshed works with Local Share. 

Local Share, is an organization that connects food pantries, also known as Food Banks, with local farms so that crops left after the harvest don’t go to waste. If you are interested in volunteering to help with gleaning (aka harvesting) and/or delivering food to our pantries, please see the foodshedalliance.org/ website.

Throughout the market season the following vendors may be found at Blairstown Farmers Market: 

  • Apple Ridge Farm
  • Dove Education
  • ESTROG
  • Godlewsky Farm
  • Seeds to Sew International
  • Heaven’s Gate Llama Farm
  • Hope Cress Farm
  • Imperfectphil
  • Jersey Pickles
  • LovelyLou Mama Crochet
  • Jimmy’s Mushrooms
  • Kaleidoscope Learning
  • Kimball Farm
  • Manskirt Brewery
  • Miner’s Daughter
  • Orlando’s Bakery
  • Paulinskill River Photography
  • Rosie’s Empanadas
  • Top of the Mountain
  • Valley Fall Farm
  • Mike’s Pasta
  • Untamed Ferments
  • Breadlock Botanical

The Market is the creation of The Foodshed Alliance. “The Foodshed Alliance grew out of a dream of a self-sustaining rural economy,” states their website.

Venomous Snakes – Things We Should All Know Now

A Message from Blairstown’s Animal Control Officer, Scott Hendricks:

There are a number of different types of snakes in our area. The two that are venomous to humans are the Timber Rattler and the Copperhead. In the spring the snakes emerge from their dens. They like rocky areas for their dens, so the Kittatinny Ridge is a prime habitat for snakes. 

We are nearing the start of the snake’s emergence phase. The emergence phase can start in early April and continue through May. Both gravid (pregnant/with eggs) females and males and non-gravis females begin to move, shed, and forage for food beginning in the May timeframe.  

Looking at the two charts, the months of June – August (are when) the snakes are active, and this is the time to be vigilant. The following charts show the seasonal cycles. 

As they begin to forage for food and to mate, they move into areas that are inhabited by humans. It is  important to be aware of your surroundings and alert for any snakes in the area. This is especially true if  you are hiking in the woods. 

All snakes are beneficial to our environment since they are an important player in the population control of mice, voles, insects, etc.

It is illegal to kill, harm, harass, handle or collect ANY of New Jersey’s snakes  (and their parts) under the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act. 

Contact Info:

Hardwick, Frelinghuysen and Knowlton are served by Animal Control Officer Alan DeCarolis

He can be reached @ 908-377- 0808

Tragic Accident at Blairstown Airport Results in Death of Bergen County Pilot

Around 2:30 p.m., Sunday, May 15th, a glider in final landing approach at Blairstown Airport, crashed short of the runway. Despite the efforts of the Blairstown police, fire and EMT responders, soon on the scene, the pilot could not be resuscitated.

The deceased was a 70-year-old resident of Ho-Ho-Kus and student of Jersey Ridge Soaring on his second solo flight of the day. 

Observers of the accident reported that a wing of the plane seemed to clip a prominent tree on approach causing it to rotate and drop nose-first to the ground. The glider crashed inside the township owned, fenced storage area across Lambert Road opposite the airport runway.

In an email reporting the tragic event, Kevin Martin, owner of the glider operation said the student had begun learning to soar with them in 2021 and first soloed in November. He was well known and liked around the airport, and drew great joy from his flying, learning, and interactions with his fellow pilots. 

Martin said he was a conscientious student who took his aeronautical education very seriously and often participated in the winter online ground school and glider simulator training.  

The causal details of this incident are unclear. The NTSB is investigating.

Tranquility & Culture Planned for Blairstown’s Farm Meadows Community Park in 2023

Blairstown farmland to become a public garden in 2023.

Farm Meadows Community Park, a hub for tranquility and culture, will be established in Blairstown within the following year. The park will be governed by the Farm Meadows Park Advisory Committee, which will operate under the Town’s Open Space Committee.

Soon to be located in the stretch of farmland between First Hope Bank and the Blairstown Dairy, this piece of protected open space will host walking paths, extensive horticulture and opportunities for artistic exhibition.

Stretch of farmland designated for passive recreation in 2023 / Photo Credit: A. Tironi. May 2022

Spearheaded by Rosalie Murray and Monika Hamburger, local residents with an affinity for gardens and design, plans for the new park envision a large walking path that would edge the 62 acres with intimate lanes branching from the main path.

These smaller adjoining paths would be lined with flowering trees and lead to attractions such as a children’s garden, a decorated pergola or a water feature. The entire park would be a botanical garden containing native plants of all varieties. 

Murray and Hamburger imagine a space dedicated to lifetime sports: tennis, badminton and handball. Blueprints for the Park feature open areas for kite flying, Tai Chi, and family picnics. They plan for stone tables and chairs to be scattered around the property for card games, chess and checkers.

The two ladies are looking for local contributions—  local artists to display their work and musicians to play throughout the day. 

“The park will be a celebration of our community,” explained Hamburger. 

Murray added, “There’s a lot of very talented people in our community and we want to enlist them.”

The Farm Meadows Park Advisory Committee identifies four major sources of funding for this project. The first would be from community members – people who can lend expertise regarding architecture and construction. 

The second would be the township Department of Public Works for the creation of a walking path. 

The third is through grants such as the New Jersey Recreational Trails Grant or  Arbor Foundation Grant. 

And finally, utilizing allocated open space funds, Blairstown’s 2022 Municipal Tax Budget sets aside over $169,000 for the preservation of open space and historic farmland. 

“It is time to spend some [money] on a community park. Our Citizens need and deserve a reward which they can enjoy for the support they have given through the Open Space tax,” stated Murray. 

Proposed Blairstown Budget to Move Tax Rate Higher

The Blairstown Township Committee and Auditor John Mooney introduced the 2022 Tax Budget in a meeting Wednesday that calls for increasing the tax rate from 9.9 to 25 cents this year.

Ordinance 2022-02 proposes an exceedance of the municipal budget appropriation limits by 3.5% instead of the 2.5% allocated by the state. To the average local taxpayer assessed at $250,000 to $300,000 property value, the tax bill would estimate $741 in 2022. Last year taxpayers in this bracket owed only $292.

Up until 2018, Blairstown residents paid no local or municipal taxes. This tax break was possible because the township hosted Yard’s Creek and therefore earned an Energy Receipt Tax which could fund Blairstown’s budget in its entirety.

The Energy Receipt Tax allocated by the State has remained the same despite inflation. In an effort to protect the local tax rate, the BTC began to utilize surplus or fund balance, but it wasn’t enough.

Three years ago, a five-cent local tax rate was created which rose to 9.9 cents in 2021.

This year’s budget is looking at a 15.2 to 25 cent tax rate. If the BTC moves forward with a tax rate over 10 cents next year, the township will be subject to a 2% cap on an increase in the tax levy as sanctioned by the state of New Jersey.

By raising the local tax rate and taking advantage of historically low interest rates in bonds, Blairstown township can now begin to fund Capital Projects such as fixing roads, buying equipment and building up the municipal coffers.

Committeemember Joanne VanValkenburg acknowledged the financial severity of the situation. “My concern is (Public Notice about the increase.) This is going to be a nightmare come August and September when people get their tax bill.”

To this, Mayor Robert Moorhead stated, “In all fairness, it’s less than the cost of DIRECTV…it’s less than they pay for satellite TV.”

VanValkenburg responded, “You know, to us up here, maybe $10 a month, $50 a month, $100 a month is peanuts. But to many in the public, that is not peanuts.”

The Blairstown Township Committee will hold a Public Meeting on May 11 so Blairstown residents can ask questions and raise concerns on the 2022 budget and potential tax increases.

Nick Morro: A Lion that Never Quits


Nick Morro is a Senior at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey.
Commuting every day from his home in Blairstown to the school can be challenging. The
addition of a knee injury that has inhibited his ability to make this commute alone would make most people give up.

Playing on Pope John’s baseball team has given Morro an outlet and being taught by his coaches to never quit when the going gets tough, helps Morro to never quit.

“Morro takes ball 4 during a game on a drizzly Saturday morning” / Photo Credit: A. Nowell 2022

From the time he stepped on the field, Morro fell in love with the game. Pope John’s baseball program was Morro’s next step after 8th grade, and he was ready to play for Coach Vincent Bello. “Three years with Coach Bello really helped me improve my baseball game,” said Morro. “We have a new head coach, Sean Bierman. He played at big level schools, so he knows what it takes to play at the next level.”

Coach Bierman played baseball at Vanderbilt University, one of the most prestigious baseball schools in the country. He joined Coach Bello’s staff as an assistant coach last season and was promoted to head coach when Coach Bello left for a high school job in Florida.

The coach that has had the greatest impact on Morro was Coach Benny Perez. Coach Perez played independent baseball in Puerto Rico after graduating from Marist High School in Bayonne, New Jersey, and playing one season at New Jersey City University (NJCU).

“Coach Benny has coached me since 6th grade, and he’s always putting [the things he’s talking about] toward life too,” said Morro. “He and the other coaches always give me good life lessons.”

“Nick has been a 3-year starter for our Varsity team,” said Coach Perez. “Nick has contributed tremendously, regarding teamwork and leadership, not only on the field, but off the field as well.”

Morro is moving on from Pope John baseball after this season and attending Fairleigh Dickinson University where he’ll continue to play ball for their team.

“Morro sets for a pitch against High Point” Photo Credit: A. Nowell 2022

Morro’s teammates have seen a kid that works hard and is successful, carry it with him in social interactions. Nick Buchman, a Senior pitcher in his 4th season playing for the Lions alongside Morro, has grown close as a teammate and friend to Morro said, “Nick [Morro] and I have been friends since 8th grade/Freshman year, and my Senior year wouldn’t be the same if he wasn’t there,” said Buchman. “I wish he was still on the field with us, it’s a shame he got injured. I think, personally, Nick’s a great kid. He has a great work ethic, and I think he’ll come back from this injury even better.”


Morro is sidelined due to an injury to his knee but hopes to return to the field soon and roam the outfield with the same dominance that he left on the field. A keystone in the Lions’ offense and defense, Morro is ready to finish his high school career with the success that the Lions are hoping to acquire this season

NJDOT to Look into Possible “Sudden Failure” of Route 80 Retaining Wall

As reported by Bruce A. Scruton in the New Jersey Herald –

A state Department of Transportation internal committee met this week to advance a project to study damage to a retaining wall that supports a raised section of Route 80 near the Delaware Water Gap, which may be “subject to sudden failure,” according to the meeting’s agenda.

The committee received approval for its request for $5.5 million in state funds to inspect the wall and come up with solutions to address the problem, which includes the deterioration of the wall and a minimum 12-inch-deep crack.

The estimated cost of the repairs to the wall’s crack and deterioration stands at $51 million.

The “failure” warning was included in the project description from the meeting’s agenda,  which also stated the retaining wall “does not meet current serviceability requirements due to its minimal reinforcement,” and that a failure “is a risk to the traveling public and could result in a closure of I-80.”

The retaining wall stretches for more than a quarter-mile around the base of Mount Tammany, an area known as the S-curves that was built in the 1950s.

This file photo from March 2022 shows the "erosion cave" repairs made to the retaining wall on I80 in the Delaware Water Gap. The photo also shows water stains of a leak (left of repair) through the wall and evidence of water coming from weep holes (right of repair) installed as part of the project.

The engineering study will take a look at the retaining wall issues that were discovered by crews making repairs to a nearby section of the wall that had been scoured or eroded by water coming down from Mount Tammany. The mountain is located on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap and is maintained by the NJDOT.

The scour, known by locals as the “erosion cave,” is at milepost 1.4 of the wall, which is 1,470 feet long, 13 to 18 feet tall and consists of 49 individual panels.

According to an NJDOT memo, “upon clearing vegetation west of this wall repair, additional wall deterioration, with a minimum 12-inch-deep crack adjacent to the wall shear key, was observed.” The memo also stated the wall “does not meet current serviceability requirements due to its minimal reinforcement. Due to the tied-back construction of the existing wall, it could be subject to sudden failure, which is a risk to the traveling public and could result in a closure of I-80.”

A video taken in 2020 by local residents as part of their effort to draw attention to the “erosion cave” and other problems with the 75-year-old road and wall, shows the crack existed at that time. 

When the wall was constructed, a drainage system was included that would collect and control the water flowing off the mountain to channel it into the river.

However, breaks and cracks in that system of mostly concrete pipes allowed water to get into the fill. The water, seeking a path to the river, pushed down to the bottom of the wall and eroded parts of it away.

Over the years, other breaks and cracks in the drainage system allowed water to get into the fill behind the wall that holds up the highway.   

A retired civil engineer who worked for public entities looked at the information that the engineering study will include and said he thinks the water has built up behind the wall, creating more pressure on the structure.

The S-curve on Route 80 west at the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area.

The engineer, who asked that his name not be published, said the concrete, like a piece of chalk, can take a lot of pressure, but is also “brittle” and can break without warning.

As part of the repair project, the contractor drilled a series of “weep holes” in the retaining wall. Those holes are attached to perforated piping and provide a route for water trapped behind the wall to flow through the wall to reduce the pressure.

“However, that’s just a temporary measure,” the engineer said. “It’s a sign that there’s water back there.”

The engineer also said he thinks there was minimal steel used in building the wall and in anchoring it to the base of the mountain. 

While there are strict federal laws on how often inspections need to be conducted on bridge structures, there is no similar law on how often retaining walls need to be inspected.

The study is needed since the structure is likely nearing the end of its useful life and was built to standards of the 1950s, not modern standards, the engineer said. He added he does not think there is immediate danger, but a full inspection needs to be done.

Additional photos provided to the Ridge View Echo by Tara Mezzanotte. Follow up interviews will be conducted with State & County Officials on this matter.

Blairstown Committee Offers No Solutions for Maple Lane Residents’ Flooding Problems

At the April 20th regular town meeting, Donna Holsterman and Mark Scialla came before the Blairstown Township Committee (BTC) for a second time to discuss flooding on Maple Lane.

A 30+ year resident of Maple Lane, Holsterman described how the next-door property used to be a depression where rainwater would collect. When developers came to build Scialla’s house, the land was filled in without any accommodating drains.

Both residents described how several days of heavy rain will cause Scialla’s basement to fill with water that must be pumped out. This water, sometimes four feet deep, then deposits onto Holsterman’s front lawn. According to the Warren County Board of Health, this creates an issue that can lead to leach field failure.

They’ve asked the Blairstown Township Committee to place a pipe at the end of their property lines which would deposit the water to a wooded area owned by residents across the road.

Mayor Robert Moorhead and Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt are against the installation of a pipe.

“You can’t let water run onto someone else’s property just because it’s on your own,” stated Moorhead.

However, on Maple Lane, there are several drains that deposit water from one side of the road to the other through a connecting pipe. And, when the fire department is called to pump the standing water, it’s pumped onto the road and drains into that same wooded area.

Orcutt asserted that installing a pipe where the water collects will not alleviate the problem as the pipe would be too low to pitch water across the road.

“I couldn’t disagree with you more,” Scialla replied.

Moorhead claimed Maple Lane flooding occurs only during the winter months when the ground is frozen.

Holstterman, living on the property year-round. insists this is not a seasonal issue. He asserted that Maple Lane was repaired a few years ago and because of those township repairs, the road sits higher than the property low point, trapping the water Scialla pumps onto Holsterman’s front lawn.

A representative of French & Parello Associates, an engineering consultant company, met Scialla on his property to evaluate the issue and spoke with the BTC on his findings.

At the township committee meeting, Orcutt claimed the Engineer agreed that a pipe would be insufficient. Scialla countered saying the Engineer agreed the position of the township road exacerbates the issue. French & Parello did not write up a report on this particular site visit.

The Blairstown Township Committee left Scialla and Holsterman with no solutions.

Moorhead stated, “I have no suggestion to mitigate the water in your basement.” Apparently in agreement, Orcutt said, “We can’t get in the business of worrying about when your basement is flooding.”

Developers Denied a 40-Cabin Retreat in Frelinghuysen. Crowded Meeting went ’till Midnight

Brag Farm Retreat was denied a use variance, April 4th, to develop a retreat on the former 178-acre Sugarbarb property off Silver Lake Road, in Frelinghuysen.

Russ and Natalia Brag of Columbia proposed building 40 A-frame cabins, a 2-story, 7,500 square foot Clubhouse and a 6,000 square foot dwelling on a separate 27-acre flag lot. According to their use variance plan by Finelli Consulting Engineers, all were shown surrounding the existing 5-acre lake on the property and/or scattered along new drives throughout the heavily forested lot and pastures.

The Sugarbarb Farm property currently has three dwellings, a barn, 10-stall horse stable and several outbuildings. The property is zoned AR-6, Agricultural Residential 6-acre minimum lot size.

The Land Use Board meeting was held in the Frelinghuysen School Auditorium, April 4th, because a large crowd was anticipated since the Brag Farm Retreat application attracted an overflow crowd to the Town Hall last month. Indeed, a large crowd showed up and the meeting went nearly to Midnight.

Application documents also showed that Brag Farm Retreat wanted to host artists’ retreats, a small art gallery, painting classes and various art installations throughout the property.

Because it was a “d”, or use variance, the applicant needed at least five (5) affirmative votes from the seven members comprising the Board’s Zoning representatives. They failed to get that with four voting against the proposal.

Prior to the determination against the application, opponents to the development questioned how the shared septic systems for each structure would protect fragile ecosystems known to be onsite, as well as traffic.

Because they were seeking use variance approval to be followed up with the more in-depth testimony for their hoped-for Site Plan review, Brag Farm didn’t present an Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Letter of Interpretation (LOI) or Traffic Study.

INTERESTING FOLKS: Karin White, a Renaissance woman

“Karin White sees the beauty in the discarded.” / Photo Credit: MB Journe 2022

Karin White is a Renaissance woman who transforms the old into new by combining a love of art with a passion for recycling old things. As defined by Merriam-Webster, a Renaissance woman “is interested in and knows a lot about many things.” Indeed, she has managed to combine her successes in art with a successful business to enrich her family and friends. 

White is a jewelry artist, working with semi-precious metals, gemstones and a variety of discarded items. She incorporates found objects, natural gemstones, silver and silverware, copper and bronze. When inspiration strikes, she gathers some items at garage sales and creates beautiful, one-of-a-kind jewelry using recycled and natural materials. Her work can be seen at Gallery 23 in Blairstown. They have an online store at www.Gallery23.net.

She said she’s met many people selling her art at music festivals and street fairs. Her work has been sold at stores, home parties and she has taught jewelry making.

White is also well known for selling real estate. She currently works for Burgdorf Real Estate ERA in Hope, New Jersey.  She was the secretary for the Warren County Board of Realtors for many years. White has won the NJAR Circle of Excellence Award for the past five years. This prestigious award recognizes realtors who are experts in their field.   

“I have real estate customers who have bought jewelry from me in the past” said White.  “I have sold my jewelry at music festivals. This was ideal, enjoying the music while working and dancing to my favorite bands. I have met so many people with this career. The same people who bought a spoon bracelet from me, trusted me and wanted me to help them buy or sell their home.” 

In 2020, White’s love of antiques spurred her to buy a neglected historic home in Hardwick. Known to be constructed by a Wheelwright, named Wildrick, over 200 years ago, she’s been dutifully restoring its quaint charm and structural integrity of the three-story barn.

A stay-at-home mom for 15 years, White has three children – Daniel, Michael and Grace; each of whom she’s raised to be creative and compassionate. Her daughter Grace has her mother’s artistic talent, making stunning illustrations of animals. White’s involvement in the lives of her children and our community is extensive. She was the president of her PTA for many years. 

A philanthropic woman, she was asked to design spoon bracelets for a church organization to raise money to aid refugees in Africa. Several hundred spoon bracelets were created and sold to support the people in need.

White is always willing to lend a hand. She volunteered at her children’s school and is a longtime member of the Blairstown Historic Preservation Communitee. Many have been enriched by her willingness to serve.

White grew up in an artistic family. Her childhood home was filled with paintings, sculptures and photography reflecting generations of family artists. White’s mom and grandmother inspired her to paint. Her great grandfather worked in copper and metal. Her father repurposed and built beautiful furniture and household items.   

“I grew up going to estate sales and flea markets. My mom would pick things off the side of the road,” White giggled. “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. This was before garbage picking was cool.”

“I decided to take my mom to a bead store for a jewelry making class for Mother’s Day. This outing jump started my jewelry business,” she reminisced. 

Together they learned the technique of metal clay jewelry. The process involves metal clay that is stamped with a design from an antique button collection. The clay is fired in a kiln which transforms the clay into a silver pendant. The pendants are high quality – 999 silver. Each participant went home with a completed necklace. 

White was hooked. She started making gifts for family and friends. Soon many of her acquaintances wanted to buy her work.  

She is a graduate of Montclair State University with a major in art and photography. Her formal training in the arts and her family background transformed her life as a Renaissance woman of today.   

White recalls fondly, “Being a stay-at-home mom, I had the time to make presents for friends. It was very encouraging that my hobby was appreciated. This built my confidence.” 

“I love making jewelry and it was fun selling my line. My spoon bracelets were my signature piece, it was fun buying heirloom spoons and repurposing them into bracelets,” said White. 

Her father passed away after a long illness.  At the same time, her marriage of many years was coming to an end. She credits her art with helping her heal in these trying times.   

White is truly a Renaissance woman, dovetailing all her gifts and talents into a phenomenal artistic lifestyle thus adding rich color and texture to the local environment and providing a valuable service to others. 

White’s unique creations / Photo Credit: MB Journe 4/2022

“Please Do Not Hurt Me or My Mom.”

“We just temporarily moved to the neighborhood so we can be safe,” conveyed the harmless baby fox kit / Photo Credit: Antler Ridge 2022

If you have suddenly seen a fox in the yard near your home, there is a good reason for this. It is denning season.

Between the end of March and early April, a mother fox will give birth to between 4 and 5 kits. A coyote will often find a fox den, dig out the babies, and kill them. A mother fox knows this and will frequently choose a den site close to people, away from where coyotes generally go. It is not unusual for a fox to den under a porch, shed, garage, barn, or side of a hill, trying to keep her family safe.

Please allow these short-term accommodations because this is not a permanent situation. If you are lucky enough to see how beautiful an adult fox is or witness the kits playing (at a distance of course) you will be glad you did!

It is not uncommon for Red Foxes to change dens several times during the season, so you may not see them for long. Kits do not leave the den until they are about a month old. Foxes do not live in a den year-round, only when a mother has babies. During the summer as the kits grow older, you will see less and less of them, and by September everyone will have packed up and moved on.

If you see a fox during the day, it does not mean she is rabid. A mother fox works tirelessly to feed her kits and will often be out during daylight hours foraging for food. Foxes are omnivores, generally feeding on berries, grasses, and small rodents.

They are solitary and prefer to be left alone. They do not want to hunt and eat your children or mate with your dog. A fox simply wants a safe place to raise her family. Please allow her to do that.

Adult red fox / Photo Credit: Antler Ridge 2022

The Paulins Kill Flooded Footbridge Park, April 9th weekend.

The National Weather Service reported that at 6:15AM, Sunday, the flood stage of the Paulins Kill was at 5.04 feet. The flood stage is 5 feet. One local resident reported waking up to 55 inches of rainwater in her basement from groundwater, flooding important utilities.

Footbridge Park was flooded. Seen here on April 9th / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn
Lonely park benches / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn, 4-9-2022
High water engulfs Footbridge Park, April 9th weekend / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn
Turbulant waters @ Footbridge Park, Saturday, April 9th / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn 2022
This young teen from Hardwick couldn’t resist / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn, 4-9-22
Playground underwater @ Footbridge Park, April 9th / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn 2022

Opening Day of Fishing Season in Blairstown

Many fisher folk could be seen throughtout the area Saturday, April 9th for Opening Day of Fishing, luring fish despite turbulant water from heavy rainfall.

Young Grayson of Blairstown hoped to catch Trout or Bass on Saturday, for the First Day of Fishing in New Jersey / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn 4-9-22
Stephen and his son, Grayson, brought their gear to Footbridge Park / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn, 4-9-22
Stephen & Grayson took their chances fishing in the very turbulant Paulins Kill, on Saturday, April 9th. / Photo Credit: D.L. Dunn, 2022

2022 Brings Some Changes to Township Governments

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As is customary in New Jersey, weather permitting, Township Governing bodies meet on or soon after January 1st their annual Reorganization Meetings to swear in new members to their respective Township Committees, give public notice of the names / contact information for municipal officials and the forthcoming Committee meeting times and dates.

The Ridge View Echo hereby offers this useful information to keep everyone informed about who is running their towns. This information and more data is available via the Towns’ websites and is required by law to have been posted in their respective municipal buildings and Official newspapers.

Blairstown Township

The Township of Blairstown is governed by the Township form of government, registered voters directly elect members of the five-member Township Committee. The Committee selects the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, from amongst themselves, annually at the reorganization meeting held annually on January first. It is at the reorganization meeting when newly elected members of the Committee are sworn-in, committee assignments are delegated, and members of Board/Committee are appointed.

The Mayor, and the Deputy Mayor (in the absence of the Mayor), serve as the presiding officers at Township Committee meetings, administers oaths of office and execute contracts/agreements along with the Township Clerk, who serves as the Governing Body’s representative/liaison to the various departments of the Township.

The Township Committee governs through the adoption of policy ordinances (municipal legislation) and resolutions (codified actions) of the municipality.  In the Township form of government, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor do get the opportunity to vote.  In the Borough form of municipal government, the most prevalent form in the state, the Mayor can only vote in the event of a tie.   

TOWNSHIP CLERK
Kristin Shipps, RMC, CMR
(908) 362-6663 x 230clerk@blairstowntwp-nj.com

HOURS
Monday – Friday
8AM – 4PM

MUNICIPAL BUILDING
106 Route 94, Blairstown, N.J.  07825
(908) 362-6663 (OFFICE)

Committee Members

ROB MOORHEADMayor
Committee Term Expires December 31, 2024
Contact: rmoorhead@blairstowntwp-nj.com
Committee Assignments:

Deputy Police Commissioner

Water Utility (primary)
Personnel (primary)
Emergency Management (primary)
Blair Academy (primary)
Intermunicipal, County, State & Federal Liaison (primary)
Fire Department (primary)
DPW (alternate)
Finance (alternate)
Open Space (alternate)
Municipal Court (alternate)
Rescue Squad (alternate)
Blairstown Elementary (alternate)

CHARLES MAKATURA
Committee Term Expires December 31, 2024
Contact: cmakatura@blairstowntwp-nj.com
Committee Assignments

Police Commissioner
Animal Control Officer (primary)
Municipal Court (primary)
Rescue Squad (primary)
Class III Land Use Board member
Buildings & Grounds (alternate)
Water Utility (alternate)
Emergency Management (alternate)


WALTER ORCUTT- Deputy Mayor 
Committee Term Expires December 31, 2023
Contact: worcutt@blairstowntwp-nj.com

Committee Assignments: 
DPW (primary)
Finance (primary)
Open Space (primary)
Buildings & Grounds (primary)
Class I Land Use Board member
Personnel (alternate)
Blair Academy (alternate)
Intermunicipal, County, State & Federal Liaison (alternate)

Fire Department (alternate)
Paulina Dam liaison (alternate)

GIOVANNA “JOANNE” VAN VALKENBURG –
Committee Term Expires December 31, 2022
Contact: jvanvalkenburg@blairstowntwp-nj.com

Committee Assignments: 

Recreation (primary)
COAH (primary)
Main Street (primary)
North Warren Regional (primary)
Paulina Dam Liaison (primary)
Senior Citizens (alternate)
BEC (alternate)
Blairstown Historical (alternate)

DEBRA WALDRON-
Committee Term Expires December 31, 2023
Contact: dwaldron@blairstowntwp-nj.com

Committee Assignments:

Blairstown Elementary (primary)
Senior Citizens (primary)
BEC (primary)
Blairstown Historical (primary)
Recreation (alternate)
COAH (alternate)
Main Street (alternate)
North Warren Regional (alternate)

2022 Township Committee Meetings will meet on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month and will begin at 7:30 PM:

January 12, 2022
January 26, 2022- Cancelled
February 9, 2022
February 23, 2022
March 9, 2022
March 23, 2022
April 13, 2022
April 27, 2022
May 11, 2022
May 25, 2022
June 8, 2022
June 22, 2022
July 13, 2022
July 27, 2022
August 10, 2022
August 24, 2022
September 14, 2022
September 28, 2022October 12, 2022
October 26, 2022
November 9, 2022
November 30, 2022 (5th Wednesday due to holiday)


Frelinghuysen Township

Frelinghuysen Town Hall

Frelinghuysen Town Hall in Johnsonburg” Photo Credit: B. Barbour, 2022

Township Clerk

Donna Zilberfarb, RMC

Phone: (908) 852-4121
Fax: (908) 852-7621
Email: clerk@frelinghuysen-nj.us

Committtee Members:

Business Hours
Monday – Friday
7:30-3:30
Closed for lunch
12:00-12:30

Mayor – Keith Ramos
email: kramosftc@gmail.com

Deputy Mayor – Chris Stracco
email: cstracco@daypitney.com

Committeeman – Todd Mcpeek
email: tjmcpeek50@gmail.com

Committeeman – David Boynton
email: dcboynton@hotmail.com

Committeeman – Robert Stock
email: rhstockfc@dldunnllcgmail-com

#2022-01 SETTING MEETING DATES FOR FRELINGHUYSEN TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE WHEREAS, Section 12 of the Open Public Meetings Act, Chapter 231, P.L. 1975, requires that at least once a year, not later than January 10th of such year, every public body shall post and mail to newspapers designated by said body, a schedule of the location, time and date of each meeting of said body during the succeeding year. 

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, by the Frelinghuysen Township Committee that the regular public meetings of the Frelinghuysen Township Committee will be held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 210 Main Street, Johnsonburg, New Jersey. The full regular meeting schedule is as follows: 

Regular Meeting Dates for 2022:

January 19, 2022
February 16, 2022
March 16, 2022
April 20, 2022
May 18, 2022
June 15, 2022
July 20, 2022
August 17, 2022
September 21, 2022
October 19, 2022
*November 9, 2022
December 21, 2022

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the following dates during the calendar year of 2022 are hereby designated as the workshop meetings of the Mayor and Committee of the Township of Frelinghuysen, to be held on an as needed basis. 

Workshop Meeting Dates for 2022:

January 12, 2022
February 9, 2022
March 9, 2022
April 13, 2022
May 11, 2022
June 8, 2022
July 13, 2022
August 10, 2022
September 14, 2022
October 12, 2022
*November 21, 2022
December 14, 2022

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that unless otherwise specified, all workshop meetings will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 210 Main Street, Johnsonburg, New Jersey. Work meetings may be subject to cancellation. Formal action may be taken at any regular or workshop meeting. Executive sessions may be conducted by the governing body at these meetings. *Denotes change in meeting dates due to the League of Municipalities Conference.

Hardwick Township

*Kristin Shipps, Township Clerk, RMC

Email:  clerk@hardwick-nj.us
General Information:  908-362-6528 X 8
Office Hours: 

Hardwick Office Hours: Thursday 10:00 am to 2 pm

Blairstown Office Hours: Monday – Wednesday and Friday 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Hardwick Township Commitee

"Hardwick Township Mayor Chris Jacksic being sworn in by NJ State Senator Steven V. Oroho at the Reorganization Meeting." Photo Credit: C. Jacksic, 2022
“Hardwick Township Mayor Chris Jacksic being sworn in by NJ State Senator Steven V. Oroho at the Reorganization Meeting.”  Photo Credit: C. Jacksic, 2022

The Township Committee is comprised of three Committee members who are elected at large for staggered terms of office. Each year voters elect one of the members to a three (3) year term on the Township Committee. In January, the Committee reorganizes selecting one of its members to serve as the Mayor and a second member to serve as the Deputy Mayor. The title of Mayor is a largely ceremonial position responsible for chairing meetings, acting as the Committee president and representing Hardwick’s interests at regional and state functions. The Township Committee adopts an annual budget, approves contracts and authorizes the payment of bills. The Committee further appoints the professional staff, consultants and members of various advisory committees and boards. The Township Committee is responsible for the adoption of local ordinances governing such diverse issues as land use and general nuisances.

Committee Members:

CHRIS JACKSIC – 2022 Mayor
Mayor’s Term expires December 31, 2022 (Committee Term expires December 31, 2024)

cjacksic@hardwick-nj.us

908 362-6018  
973 477-9111 Cell

Committee and Department Liaison Assignments: Mayor, Municipal Attorney, Municipal Clerk, Animal Control & Licensing Clerk, Public Safety/Court, Emergency Management, 9-1-1, Police, Fire, EMS, Board of Health 

JOHN LOVELL – 2021 Deputy Mayor (Committee Term expires December 31, 2023)

jlovell@hardwick-nj.us

908 362-1485
201 230-4005 Cell

Committee and Department Liaison Assignments: Deputy Mayor, Engineering Department, Insurance, Public Works, Road Department, Building/Grounds, Finance Department, Auditor & CFO, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor, Open Space Committee 

KEVIN DUFFY – Committee Member (Committee Term expires December 31, 2022

kduffy@hardwick-nj.u 

#908 625-7450 Cell

Committee and Department Liaison Assignments: Committee Member, Agriculture Comm., Zoning Code, Enforcement, Land Use Board, Environmental Comm., Affordable Housing, Hardwick Seniors

Knowlton Township

Paulins Kill Viaduct

“Paulins Kill Viaduct – Knowlton’s spectacular landmark”

Photo Credit: P. St. Andre

Info @ a glance:

Municipal Building
628 Route 94
Columbia, NJ 07832
908-496-4816, FAX: 908-496-8144

www.knowlton-nj.com

MAYOR – Adele Starrs,
908-496-0055

Email: adelestarrs@gmail.com

Knowlton Township Committee Members & Meeting Dates:

Name

Phone #

Email

Term Exp

Adele Starrs, Mayor

908-496-0055

12/2022

Debra Shipps , Deputy Mayor

908-217-0836

12/2023

Kathy Cuntala

908-496-4193

12/2021

James Mazza

570-396-8043

12/2023

Frank Van Horn

908-475-5664

12/2022

Meeting: 2nd Monday of each month and 4th Thursday of each month at 7 p.m.

* (Meetings, unless otherwise noted, are held at the Municipal Building.)

Municipal Clerk – 

908-496-4816 ext. 6

clerk@knowlton-nj.com

Footbridge Skate and Arts Summerfest Is Sunday

A skate and arts park in Footbridge Park is grinding closer to reality, and the crew looking to make it happen will be on hand at the first Summerfest this Sunday, a daylong event to support the project. 

Summerfest at Footbridge Park will start at 11 a.m. and shred until 4 p.m. There will be food trucks, a beer tent, a silent auction and live local bands including Exit 12, Bad Answer and the Cellar Dwellers. DJ Deep Creep will be playing all-vinyl sets throughout the day. 

Evie Tinley, co-chair of the Footbridge Skate and Arts Park organizing committee, said there has been a lot of enthusiasm for the project and she hopes the Summerfest will help get even more.  

“This will be a fundraiser for the Footbridge Skate and Arts Park project,” Tinley said. “The idea is to get the word out and create awareness with people who may not know much about it.”

The vision for the park includes the skate park portion, but there will also be places not necessarily skate-centric. There will be gathering spaces and an outdoor venue for music, particularly since the lay of the land forms a natural amphitheater. Spontaneous music sessions will be encouraged. 

“It’s going to have two different uses,” Tinley said. “There will be places that are skateable like a traditional skate park. And we are going to have a lot of outdoor gallery space.” 

Murals are already appearing along the remains of the concrete coal bins. Footbridge Park is located on what was once a bustling railroad yard, the legacy of which will be reflected in the project, Tinley said. 

Summerfest will be the skatepark committee’s first major fundraiser. Visitors to the event will be asked for a $10/person donation but kids are free. Tinley said the committee has already made substantial progress raising money for the project from small donations. 

Donations are especially important as the skatepark committee plans to raise all the money to fund the project through private donations, sponsorships and grants.

If you are interested in sharing your skills and talents with the skateboard committee, more information can be found at blairstownbec.com/footbridge. If you’d like to make a donation, click the Footbridge Skate and Arts Park GoFundMe page

NJDOH, NJDEP and NJDA: Protect Yourself Against Vector-borne Diseases This Summer and Prevent Tick, Mosquito Bites

TRENTON – Each year, the start of warmer weather brings the emergence of ticks and mosquitoes and the threat of related diseases, such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. The New Jersey Departments of Health (NJDOH), Environmental Protection (NJDEP), and Agriculture (NJDA) urge residents to protect themselves from these bugs for a safe and healthy summer season.

When infected blood-sucking pests (such as mosquitoes and ticks) bite someone, they can spread vector-borne illnesses.

“June 16 through 22 is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness about infected mosquitoes that can spread West Nile and other diseases. Warming weather also increases exposure to ticks, which can result in illnesses such as Lyme disease,” said Health Commissioner Kaitlan Baston, M.D. “The best defense is to take precautions to avoid being bitten, like using effective bug spray and protective clothing, and to do regular tick checks after time in nature. Ticks should be removed as soon as possible.”

While the most commonly reported mosquito-borne disease in New Jersey is West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and Jamestown Canyon virus are also causes for concern.

People over age 50 years and those with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing severe illness from mosquito-borne illnesses. Mild symptoms are flu-like and may include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes a rash. Severe symptoms can include high fever, stiff neck, and swelling of the brain. There are no specific treatments or vaccines for West Nile virus. Early symptoms may be confused with COVID-19 or several other common viral illnesses, and blood tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis. The best way to prevent the disease is to take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Steps to control mosquitoes include using insect repellent and treating clothing and gear; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants; emptying or changing outdoor standing water weekly to stop mosquito breeding, and using window and door screens.

“Summer rainstorms and warm weather create the ideal conditions for mosquitos to breed, increasing the potential for disease transmission,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “DEP staff works with the State Mosquito Control Commission and local mosquito control agencies to protect public health through a suite of strategies that include monitoring, management and education. It is extremely important that residents do their part to get rid of standing water in their yards to eliminate suitable habitat in which mosquito larvae can develop.”

Residents, business owners and contractors are urged to take steps to reduce mosquito populations on their properties by emptying or changing outdoor standing water at least weekly to stop mosquito breeding. Areas that may need attention include flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, clogged rain gutters, plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows, and any containers or trash that may be difficult to see such as under bushes, under homes or around building exteriors. Contact with mosquitoes can also be reduced by using air conditioning when possible, instead of keeping the windows open and ensuring window screens are in good repair. Refer to tips for Mosquito-Proofing your Yard for more information. Residents are also encouraged to report mosquito concerns to their county mosquito control agency.

Mosquito-borne diseases can also cause severe illness and death in horses and other livestock species. WNV and EEE affect a horse’s neurological system, which is why preventive care is encouraged.

“As the summer season fast approaches, we like to remind horse owners to have their animals vaccinated for West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis,” said Ed Wengryn, Secretary of Agriculture for New Jersey. “Vaccines offer the best protection for animals from these deadly diseases.”

Lyme disease, which can spread to people, including children, by the bite of an infected tick, can cause a variety of symptoms and can be severe if left untreated. In general, ticks must be attached for more than 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Symptoms can include a rash that looks like a bullseye, tiredness, fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, and joint pain. If left untreated, infected individuals may develop arthritis and problems with the nervous system and heart. Antibiotic therapy is generally effective with early treatment, which is why residents are encouraged to check themselves, and children in their care, carefully for ticks after spending time outdoors and be on the lookout for symptoms – especially if they recently spent time outdoors or found a tick on themselves – and consult a health care provider if they have symptoms. Learn more about tickborne diseases.

Other common tick-borne diseases found in New Jersey are Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan and Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. To help prevent disease, individuals should avoid wooded areas with dense shrubs and leaf litter, wear protective clothing, use EPA-registered insect repellents, perform tick checks, and keep lawns and shrubs trimmed.

For information on vector-borne disease cases, visit the Vector-borne Disease Data Dashboard.

For more information on vector-borne diseases, visit fightthebite.nj.gov, NJDOH’s West Nile Virus webpage, NJDEP’s mosquito control webpage, and the NJDA’s Animal Health webpage


The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is dedicated to protecting New Jersey’s environment and public health. The agency prioritizes addressing climate change, protecting New Jersey’s water, revitalizing its communities and managing and promoting its natural and historic resources.

For the most recent information about the DEP, follow its Twitter feed at @NewJerseyDEP or visit www.nj.gov/dep.

The Blairstown Farmers’ Market Experience

Once again, the Blairstown Farmers’ Market season has begun.

The market, in its 17th year, provides locally grown, farm-fresh produce, and is open every Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. throughout the summer and into the fall. Opening day was June 1 and it concludes on November 23. The market is located next to the fire hall at 5 Stillwater Road, Blairstown.

Shoppers can enjoy an old-world market with local honey, eggs, fruit, veggies, meats, baked goods and much more. Strollers can be found stopping in for lunch or purchasing a six-pack of dark roasted chocolate cream beer from Man Skirt Brewery of Hackettstown. Shoppers peruse the tents and enjoy the atmosphere as a live acoustic performances lift the spirits.

3 rubber ducks on a raffle ticket
The Rotary Club of Blairstown raffle ticket. Photo by MB Journe.

At a recent market day, the Rotary Club of Blairstown sold 50/50 raffle tickets for $5 each for a drawing that will take place at the 4th of July celebration at Footbridge Park.

New to the market is Krakus Polish Deli. With a restaurant in Phillipsburg featuring authentic Polish cuisine, Krakus has expanded its business by selling homemade kielbasa, pierogis and other Polish delights.

Joe Dunn holding sign at Farmers Market
Joseph P. Dunn from Consulting Forestry Services. Photo by MB Journe.

Another new vendor for only the month of June is Joseph P. Dunn of Consulting Forestry Services and former mayor of Hardwick. He is one of the few New Jersey licensed tree experts and has also been an approved forester for nearly 40 years, assisting landowners with their farmland assessment.

His presence this month is due to the ash tree decimation from the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestations. More information on this can be found in the Ridge View Echo archived article “Beloved Ash Trees Under Attack.”

Dunn is ready to assist with various strategies. He is selling seedlings of native trees in hopes of a greener tomorrow. One shopper bought 20 seedlings for her neighbor who lost many trees recently.

“Reforestation is needed at this time,” Dunn said. “I am here to help.”

Artist Lydia Chiappini in her van.
Artist Lydia Chiappini. Photo by MB Journe.

Lydia Chiappini, who can be found at the market every other week, is a multi-talented artist. She is a painter, sculptor, quilt maker and fiber artist and owns a llama farm in Blairstown. Her love for her wooly pets inspires her creative talent and she vends from a pretty vardo (gypsy wagon) that she built herself, adding carpentry to her many talents.

Chiappini shears her llamas once a year and processes the wool herself using a small wooden machine, providing her materials for her creations. She weaves, spins, felts, knits and crochets the fibers creating beautiful clothing. Chiappini sells her fibers to other artists and enjoys producing custom works.

Stop by the Blairstown Farmers Market on Saturdays to enjoy the many talented vendors. 

Fraudsters Spoofing Familiar Voices in Scams

Anyone asking you to make a financial transaction over the phone using gift cards should be a red flag, said Blairstown Police Chief Scott Johnsen.

Convincing impersonations

Johnsen said several instances of telephone and text scams have been reported in the past couple of weeks. The scammers have impersonated people the intended victims know. The callers have mimicked people’s bosses and even church pastors.

“They’re very convincing,” Johnsen said. “With just a small sample, the scammers can use a computer to impersonate the voice of somebody you know.”

The caller or the person texting, while claiming to be an acquaintance, will ask the mark to go to a store and purchases gift cards that will help the spoofed voices get out of some sort of jam.

Not new, but more sophisticated

The warning sign is when they ask you to send them photos of the front and back of the gift cards. This allows the scammer to empty the amount the victim just spent on the cards into their own accounts, leaving the victim without the funds.

Johnsen said the scam itself is nothing new. But they have grown in sophistication.

“They can copy just a few words of somebody’s voice from Facebook or Instagram and create a conversation in that voice,” Johnsen said.

In addition, the scammers have improved their abilities to mimic the email signatures of friends and relatives of potential victims as well as spoof the phone numbers that the mark would see on caller ID.

Johnsen emphasized that anything that begins with a suspect phone call is likely a scam but he also said he understands that people can become vulnerable targets when they believe a friend or relative could be in distress and needs help. Victims often don’t report the thefts out of embarrassment.

A frequent misconception that sometimes leads to people not reporting a fraud, Johnsen said, is that the scammers operate overseas and are out of the reach of law enforcement. While that is true in some cases, many frauds are perpetuated right here in the United States.

Last February, the Blairstown police were able to intervene in a scam that almost cost a local resident tens of thousands of dollars. He had sent a check and then had second thoughts and contacted police. Blairstown officers, working with their counterparts in California, were able to track down the check and get it back before in landed in the hands of the scammers.

Don’t hesitate to call the authorities

Johnsen said people should never, ever, be reluctant to call the police. No person or business acting legitimately would ever warn someone to not call the police. Johnsen emphasized that there is no concern or suspicion too small to call the police about. And you should never feel hesitant or embarrassed to call the police. Anybody can fall for a scam under the right circumstances.

Earlier this year, a financial advice columnist went public to offer such a warning and how she was persuaded to hand over a box containing $50,000 in cash to a stranger in a car.

Journalist Charlotte Cowles described in detail in The New Yorker magazine how she was taken in by an elaborate scam that used fear, technology and her own personal information—including the name of her child—to convince her it was real. It can happen to anyone.

Rudy and Mr. Cicada

I was enjoying a quiet afternoon here at Stately Phalon Manor when the doorbell rang. I looked at my doorbell camera and saw it was Mr. Cicada! But kind of early. I opened the door.

“Mr. Cicada! Good to see you again but aren’t you a little early? You were just here in 2021,” I said.

“Oh, that was my cousin from Brood 10,” he said. “I’m from Brood 13. We’ve been hibernating since 2007.”

“OK, I understand,” I said.

“Apparently my trashy relatives from Brood 19 are going to be here this year, too,” Mr. C. lamented. “But let’s catch up. Who became president after Rudy Giuliani?”

“Rudy Giuliani? President? Where have you been since 2007, under a rock?”

“Uh, yeah,” responded Mr. Cicada.

“Oh, yes. Of course. My bad.”

“Last I heard, George W. Bush’s second term was coming to an end with a great economy, record stock market and the strongest banking system in the world,” Mr. C. said. “The Republicans were cruising to a win in 2008, and Rudy was leading in the polls for the GOP nomination. Rudy the shoo-in.”

“We need to talk,” I said.

“What’s there to talk about? Giuliani is ‘America’s Mayor,’ with all sorts of successful business ventures happening. He’s worth north of $100 million, last I checked. How could he not become president? It was all set to be a Rudy-Hillary race.”

“Well, he kinda fizzled right out of the box in 2008,” I said. “Hillary was a big dud, too. Then the economy crashed followed by the Great Recession.”

“So, who got elected?”

“Barack Hussein Obama.”

“Yeah, right,” said my little friend. “Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that Donald Trump got elected next.”

I explained the next four presidential elections to him and told him how Rudy got a little wackier recently, even more than he usually is.

“Well, he got totally plastered on election night and told President Trump he should go out and claim he won, despite all the evidence to the contrary,” I said. “Then things got weird. He had an unhinged press conference to claim Trump won. You know the Four Seasons in Philadelphia?”

“Oh, yeah, luxury hotel. I buzzed by there one night about 17 years ago. Nice place,” Mr. Cicada said.

“No, Four Seasons Landscaping, next to the funeral home and across the street from the adult bookstore. They got their venues a little mixed up.”

I told Mr. C. how Rudy kind of went crazy with wacky theories on how the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

“Rudy said, ‘We have lots of theories. Now we just need some evidence.’ He actually said that with a straight face.”

Next, I told him how America’s Mayor falsely accused two election workers of trying to steal the election in Georgia. They sued him and now he owes them $148 million. And he’s been indicted in Georgia for trying to steal the election. And Arizona, too. And, also, that he declared bankruptcy.

“Didn’t you used know Rudy?” Mr. C. asked.

“Yes, a little, when he was U.S. attorney for Manhattan before he was mayor, when I was a journalist covering New York City courts and legal issues.”

“What was he like then?”

“He was a little crazy then, too,” I answered. “People forget that on September 10, 2001, he was about to be ridden out of New York on a rail. He second wife was about to clean him out, and he was literally sleeping on a friend’s couch in those final days of his term.”

“Wow, that’s sad,” said Mr. Cicada. “I missed that part. I must have been under a rock.”

“Yeah, it is sad,” I said. “He didn’t just recently get crazy. This has always been him. His ‘America’s Mayor’ years were the anomaly.”

“Sadly, I’m going to have to wait 17 years to find out what happens this November,” my friend chirped. “But I must be moving on. I want to check out the new Pontiacs, and I have a tape I forgot to return to Blockbuster last time I was in town. I probably own a fortune.”

“I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”

Knowlton Taxes to Rise $39 for Average Home

A $1.6 million municipal budget was adopted by the Knowlton township committee at its June 10 meeting.

The budget for the 2024 fiscal year will result in an increase of 1.98 cents per $100 of valuation. An average home valued at $205,000 would see an increase of about $39 per year, or $3.25 per month, said John Mooney, township auditor.

Taxpayers will pay $1.2 million assessed locally.

The 2024 spending plan is part of a total $2.6 million budget including school appropriations.

Knowlton Township Chief Financial Officer Christine Rolef said the budget includes an anticipated surplus of $520,000.

Mooney described Knowlton’s spending plan as “a very good budget.”

He said the anticipated budget surplus of $520,000, compared to the surplus of $488,000 in the 2023 budget is particularly important this year with the unpredictability of inflations.

“Unfortunately, inflation is affecting everybody, and municipalities are not immune to that,” Mooney said. “You are seeing the costs go up.”

Despite increased costs all around, Rolef said the township has continued to increase its collection rate. In 2023, the rate was 97.21% of billed taxes collected, compared to 96.53% the previous year. Municipal governments in New Jersey expect a certain level of uncollectable taxes each year, and includes that cost in the budgets.

The budget also includes $90,000 for capital improvements.

The North Warren Class of 2024 Is Off and Running

Watch out, world. North Warren Regional High School has loosed more than 100 graduates into the firmament.

Amy Tirado and Gabriella Walaszczyk sang the National Anthem. Photo by Joe Phalon.
Amy Tirado and Gabriella Walaszczyk sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Photo by Joe Phalon.

Under sunny skies on the grounds of pastural Ehrgood Memorial Field June 13, the Class of 2024 was released into cities and towns, large and small; to colleges, trade schools, the military, businesses and family farms.

Or, as class president Tanner Cook told the assembled classmates, families, friends, faculty and underclassmen, “We got this.”

North Warren has something for everybody

Graduating seniors Amy Tirado and Gabriella Walaszczyk opened the ceremonies with their rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Some graduates are pondering the future. Others are thinking about lunch. Photo by Joe Phalon.
Some graduates are pondering the future, others are thinking about lunch. Photo by Joe Phalon.

Richard Pilny, the Class of 2024 salutatorian, related his adventures on the marching band field.

“I recalled the hot and sweaty days not too dissimilar from today I spent with the marching band practicing tirelessly to perfect our music and marching technique,” Pilny said, practices that were punctuated occasionally by, as he put it, “Doing something pretty stupid.”

Though he did not go into great detail, he said those kinds of days only added to the memories.

Valedictorian Geoffrey Tillisch extolled the virtues of procrastination. Despite a staggering GPA, he explained how school assignments, personal tasks and even the speech he was reading at that moment, were usually put off until the last possible minute.

Valedictorian Geoffrey Tillisch. Photo by Joe Phalon.
Valedictorian Geoffrey Tillisch. Photo by Joe Phalon.

But he will be leaving a special legacy to North Warren, he said.

“I procrastinated so much over the past four years that even some of the English teachers have named a special rule after me,” Tillisch said. “The Geoffrey Tillisch Clause.”

It means, roughly, that as long as you are technically still “working” on an assignment even after it’s due, it will still be accepted. You hope.

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Ramsaysburg

Concert series at Historic Ramsaysburg Homestead

Located at 140 Route 46 East, Delaware, this historic park of 12 wooded acres is a local treasure of history and future adventure. For the public, it offers a place to engage with the Delaware River, have a picnic or see an outdoor concert with a cooler and a blanket.

In an interview with Knowlton resident Dennis Melillo, the passion of the site’s musical capacity is revealed. Melillo helped form what today is a musical scene at Ramsaysburg. He said he was reading the paper 12 years ago and saw an ad for folks to come to a meeting at the site.

“My wife went to the meeting, and she came back with three jobs,” he said.

“We had a couple of Christmas parties in the barn and it always struck me how the inside of that barn was like the box of a guitar. And the sound was beautiful in there,” Melillo said of the uniqueness of the historic barn, the vast space, cathedral ceiling and upper attic openings. “So, I spoke to Tom Drake, Bill Suggs and Carl Schuster. The four of us went in there and started cleaning the barn. There were old shingles all over the walls and when we took them down, behind it was beautiful, pickled wood.”

They cleaned it up, hung lights, created a stage and the space evolved through several different configurations. They accounted for stage placement and traffic noise, and then they tried it outside. This is now the third year that they’ve held it outside.

“We had a combination of jazz and classical because that is the kind of music that you don’t hear up here a lot. We thought about bluegrass. We did pretty well, especially with the North American premiere of a string quartet,” Melillo said, referring to the August 2019 Jorgenson String Trio.

An interesting musical background

Melillo reflects behind the uniquely modern, poly-clear spectacles of a man with a well-rounded experience.

“I have been a musician since I was a kid. I studied but never trained,” he explained. “I was a chiropractor for 40 years. We lived here since 1988. My office was in Montclair. I retired after the pandemic. I make music in nursing homes now. And work on my property.”

Melillo plays jazz guitar. He describes it as a big jazz box, electrified with a particular jazz sound.

“This is quite an oasis,” he said, looking around at the picnic tables near the huge, red barn and toward the tree-lined river. “We come down here just to go down to the river, let the dogs splash, or our grandson play. Or come down to have dinner. I wish to have more folks to come from the community.”

Ramsaysburg is a special place

When asked what makes Ramsaysburg so special, Melillo replied, “The sound in the barn.”

“We had a harpist in the barn. We couldn’t have people come in 2020. So, I told the performers we’re going to tape them. We had Walt Bibinger with Nancy Coletti and broke that down and had the harpist with a violin player,” Melillo said, referring to the August 2020 COVID Concert at the Ramsaysburg Barn, which featured the Walt Bibinger Trio, Nancy Coletti and classical harpist Andrea Witchen.

“They all helped me and called me the ‘Fearless Leader’ and we did good work and everyone was enthusiastic,” Melillo said, regarding the involvement of the Friends of Ramsaysburg, the committee and volunteer involvement. “Getting a grant from the county and after reports about every three months like having a term paper, I resigned and then a month later found Jeff (Rusch), who had done concerts at his house.”

White Township residents and Friends of Ramsaysburg volunteers: Jeff and Sandi Rusch. Photo by L. Ward
White Township residents and Friends of Ramsaysburg volunteers: Jeff and Sandi Rusch. Photo by L. Ward

About four years ago, White Township resident Jeff Rusch was asked by Melillo to take over the music event management and responsibilities at Ramsaysburg due to his Knowlton Riverfest involvement and work at WNTI.

“Writing the grant is a lot of paperwork as a government program, with lots of facts and figures, justifying what you are asking for and how money is spent,” Rusch explained. “The county grant is administered by Warren County Cultural and Heritage Division of the Department of Land Preservation and the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. So, there is a lot of ‘cross your T’s and dot the I’s.’”

“First, there is submitting the form to get the answer, which can take up to four months for a response,” Rusch said, explaining that his wife Sandi helps him with everything from mental strength to administrative support: “I would not be doing this without my wife’s support. When I just can’t anymore, she reels me in, calms me and then everything is hunky-dory.”

Sandi said she does all the typing and paperwork for Jeff.

Rusch feels the same way as Melillo about Ramsaysburg musically.

“Perfect for an outside concert,” Rusch said. “They built this beautiful outdoor amphitheater. Rick (Clarkson, Knowlton resident) and all the help, putting the wall up in the back of the barn to create more sound buffer. And the Eagle Scouts donated the permanent stage, teenagers with shovels and rocks built it for Ramsaysburg as volunteers.”

Upcoming shows and happenings

There will be a show on June 29.

“The AJ Croix band and the Joe Cirotti Trio are two bands that played together before and that I have known for 25 years on the local music scene. You meet one band and that turns into another band.”

What drew him to music? Rusch responded like a tidal wave of reflection and exuberance.

“Oh, it was having a sister 10 years older than me. When she was 16 listening to popular music in 1962, 63, 64. Music changed, and she was on the cusp. And we were close, my room next door. The Frankie Avalons, Del Shannons, Four Seasons, pre-Beatle, and then all the rock and roll; Beatles, of course, Stones, Zeppelin, Southern rock, a little bit of everything.”

For upcoming events at Ramsaysburg, visit https://www.ramsaysburg.org/aj-croix-band-and-joe-cirotti-trio/.

The Essence of Summer in Rural Areas: Comfort, Practicality and Style

Summer in rural areas is a time of vibrant activity, with long days spent outdoors and a lifestyle that seamlessly blends comfort, practicality and style. Unlike the fast-paced, often fashion-forward urban centers, rural summer fashion is deeply rooted in the rhythms of the natural environment and local traditions. Here’s a closer look at how these elements shape the essence of summer styling in rural settings.

Comfort is Key

In rural areas, summer means embracing the heat and sunshine, while staying as comfortable as possible. Breathable, lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen and chambray are staples in the rural summer wardrobe. These materials allow for maximum airflow, helping to keep cool during hot days. Loose-fitting clothing such as flowy dresses, wide-legged or cropped denim pants and oversized shirts are popular choices, providing ease of movement and a relaxed vibe that is perfect for outdoor activities.

Photo by Fantasia Strickland.

Practicality Above All

Rural living often involves a variety of physical activities, from tending to gardens and farms to hiking/biking and exploring nature trails. This lifestyle demands clothing that is not only stylish but also functional. Durable fabrics, practical footwear and protective accessories are essential. For instance, sturdy sandals or breathable sneakers are preferred for their ability to handle rugged terrain while keeping feet comfortable. Additionally, sun protection is a major consideration, making wide-brimmed hats, bandanas and lightweight long sleeves common in rural summer fashion.

Style with a Local Touch

While comfort and practicality are paramount, style is far from neglected in rural summer fashion. Local traditions and the natural environment significantly influence the aesthetic. Floral prints, inspired by the blooming countryside, are a favorite, as are earthy tones that reflect the surrounding landscape. Handcrafted accessories, often made by local artisans, add a unique touch to outfits. Items like woven hats, beaded jewelry, and leather belts not only enhance the style quotient but also support local craftsmanship.

Photo by Fantasia Strickland.

Influence of Local Traditions

Rural fashion often incorporates elements of local culture and heritage. Traditional garments or motifs are adapted into modern designs, creating a fusion of old and new. For example, a classic gingham shirt, once a staple for farm workers, might be updated with a contemporary cut or paired with trendy accessories. Similarly, patterns and fabrics specific to the region can be seen in everyday wear, celebrating local identity and craftsmanship.

Photo by Fantasia Strickland.

The Natural Environment’s Role

The natural surroundings of rural areas play a crucial role in shaping summer fashion. The colors of the fields, forests and skies can be mirrored in the clothing choices. Greens, browns and blues dominate the palette, creating a harmonious connection between what people wear and their environment. Additionally, the need for sun protection in open fields and the cooler temperatures in shaded woods dictate the layering and accessorizing strategies.

Summer fashion in rural areas is about embracing the season with clothing that feels good to wear, functions well for daily activities and looks effortlessly stylish. By honoring these elements, rural summer fashion not only meets the demands of the lifestyle but also celebrates the unique charm and beauty of rural living.

Special Turtles With a Long Life

Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina)

Box turtle in grass
Photo by Jennifer Correa-Kruegel.

While most turtles can get deep within their shells, box turtles have a high dome-like carapace (top shell) and a hinge on their plastron (bottom of their shell) that allows the turtle to enclose itself completely to evade predators. Hence the name: box turtle.

Male box turtles tend to have red eyes and their plastron is concave. Females have more yellowish eyes and have a flat plastron. The pattern can vary greatly throughout populations but it is meant to make them camouflaged.

Many of the predators of box turtles are those that would consume them before they have even hatched. Raccoons, fox, skunks and crows will dig up the nests while other animals like snakes, hawks, otters, herons and fish will eat the recently hatched turtles.

Unfortunately, these turtles have more trouble with predators of the human kind. Due to habitat fragmentation, many of these turtles meet their demise along roads where their once care-free path to mating and nesting grounds is now impeded by cars speeding by.

stacked box turtles held gently in two hands
Photo by Jennifer Correa-Kruegel.

If they do make it across, they have another problem to deal with, people finding them and taking them in as pets. Every box turtle that is taken from its habitat is one less animal that will reproduce. Additionally, it can take several years before a box turtle has reached reproductive age.

If box turtles survive, they can live to be over 75 years old. So to take one of these animals in is a huge commitment. Some individual box turtles must be released exactly where they were originally found because they tend to have such a small home range. Otherwise, they will spend more of their time searching for their original habitat than eating or mating.

That is why this species of turtle is listed as a species of special concern. If you see a turtle crossing the road, please simply guide it across in the direction it was traveling and off the road.

From Cha Cha’s in Clifton to the Washington BID, the Musically Inspired Mel Thiel

June 12th Winner of the Mt. Olive Chamber 2024 Business Person of the Year Award

Mel Thiel photographed at a project of the BID: a lot where a building had burned down, was turned into Veterans Park. Photo by L. Ward.
Mel Thiel photographed at a project of the BID: a lot where a building had burned down which was then turned into Veterans Park. Photo by L. Ward.

Mel Thiel, per the chamber, “has significantly contributed to the growth and vitality of local businesses in Washington, and has also helped many of the local chamber businesses as well. Through offering essential resources and grants, Mel has played a pivotal role in enabling businesses to flourish. Her constant dedication to the business community by coordinating and running about 15 events annually, aimed at raising awareness and drawing attention to the businesses she helps in Washington.”

Asking Thiel about her involvement in the Blairstown Enhancement Committee she responds, “The thing that I like about Blairstown is that their business community is young, whereas our business community is on the older side. I like seeing how they do things. They get a lot of volunteers from their business community and they’re forward-thinking. The younger business owners’ motto is if we all work together, we will all succeed.”

Thiel graduated from Centenary University’s radio and television program and has a bachelor’s degree in communications with a concentration in radio and television.

“My career started out in radio,” she said. “I was a DJ at Centenary. I was the development director for the radio station WNTI, and I worked my way up to being part of management. I was very happy there. I would have stayed at Centenary, but they sold the license to the radio station to the University of Pennsylvania.”

“My family is all musical,” she said, explaining why she wanted to go into radio since childhood. “My father was a weekend drummer for over 40 years. All my aunts and uncles played in bands. My mother was a dance teacher. So, it was kind of like in my blood you could say.”

“The music business was always there. I took it for granted, I think,” Thiel continued. “My father would have a band job and my mother and I would always go. As far back as I can remember, I mean really young, I was going to bars and hearing the bands. It was just always there. And we also had a music studio in our house. We had a finished basement, and we never locked the back door of the house because someone was always coming in and out to teach. It was a school. We had little studios, little rooms for guitar lessons, and next door to drum lessons. So, there were always musicians coming in and out of the house, we were always surrounded by music.”

“My family business is my father, my aunt and my uncle’s Cha Cha Helens School of Music in Clifton,” explained Thiel.

Thiel’s High School Playlist

“The Moody Blues, big fan, Elvis Costello. I loved anything alternative,” she said. “I loved Patti Smith. I liked all the punk rock stuff, Ramones and Blondie. Blondie went to Centenary. Debbie Harry graduated when it was it was Centenary School for Women in 1965.”

“I like to see the businesses be happy and succeed,” Thiel said about what inspires her daily. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure a business doesn’t go out of business. Our best days are when there is an event in town.”

The Return of Riverfest

“I used to be involved in an event in Knowlton Township called Knowlton Riverfest,” Thiel said. “That event was always so well run and I was involved in that almost from the beginning. I volunteered every year. I think seven years.”

Riverfest stopped for a few years, so Thiel decided it would be her quest to bring back Riverfest.

“I went to everybody else’s festivals, whether it be a one-day event or two-day event or a three-day, and I always had a notebook with me and I wrote down what worked and what didn’t work,” she explained. “I kept track of all that for a full year. And I learned a lot. How easy was it to check in? Park. How was the seating? Was there a tent? And then I compiled it all and I said, you know what, we can do this. So, we brought back Riverfest under the blanket of WNTI and we called it WNTI Stage, and we did that for five years. We had a three-day music fest inside Knowlton, but instead of Hunters Lodge field, we partnered with the Knowlton Lions Club pavilion behind Smitty’s Liquors. And it worked out great.”

The most memorable Riverfest band for Thiel was the Slambovian Circus of Dreams.

“They’re kind of psychedelic, kind of hillbilly. They do all originals. And they have a great stage presence,” said Thiel. “You have to experience them. We’ve ended up becoming great friends. I’ve booked them here for Washington a few times. And they still play once a year, their Christmas show at Roy’s Hall in Blairstown. They are favorites for this area.”

Thiel hails from Clifton and moved to Belvidere in 1980. For the past 29 years, she has lived in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania, just three miles from the bridge to Belvidere.

When asked what she has learned from the Washington BID and the Blairstown Enhancement Committee, Thiel said, “It is that a small group of people can have a very large impact on an area.”

For upcoming events in Washington visit https://www.washingtonbid.org/events.

Wild and Non-Invasive With Warren County Pollinator Protectors

Native plant pollinators are insects, birds and small mammals that generate plant reproduction via pollen moving from one flower to another. Pollinators get nourishment from the plant’s nectar.

Warren County Pollinator Protectors Michelle St. Andre of Columbia, NJ and Rick Clarkson of Knowlton, NJ. Photo by L. Ward
Warren County Pollinator Protectors Michelle St. Andre of Columbia and Rick Clarkson of Knowlton. Photo by L. Ward.

Warren County Pollinator Protectors is a new group and mission, forming thanks to the passionate and educated drive of Columbia resident Michelle St. Andre.

St. Andre, who had a health food store for just under 30 years in Blairstown called Nature’s Harvest, is now involved with her husband in land preservation and volunteering with a focus on protecting the environment.

St. Andre’s recent mission to save the native plant pollinators began at the Rutgers Environmental Stewardship Certification Program, a 17-week course.

“The final requirement for the certification process is that you need to formulate a community project and work on this project for at least 60 hours,” St. Andre explained. “Some of us are working on bringing back and reenergizing some already existing pollinator gardens and then also starting new pollinator gardens. In so doing, getting rid of the major invasives like mugwort, multiflora roses, and celandines, so it is an ongoing project.”

“One of the big problems with starting pollinator gardens is that they take maintenance, the invasive always peeking through and you always have to keep them weeded, otherwise they will just die and disappear,” she said. “So, my thought was we need an established group of volunteers to do this.”

“The three of us who are taking this certification program said all right, let’s see how we can tie all this together,” Thiel continued. “Rick Clarkson and Allison Bickhardt at Knowlton Township Elementary School are not part of the certification program, but they have got these amazing projects going. So, what we have decided to do is pull many of us together and it actually turns out to be a full circle together to form a formal group.”

Warren County Commissioner James R. Kern, III has initiated a project called the Commissioners Conservation Challenge with a goal to be the first national wildlife certified county in New Jersey. Part of this is having certified wildlife areas on properties such as historic places, schools, residences, churches, parks, public properties and more.

“We’re called the Warren County Pollinator Protectors, and the short-term goal is to create a growing group of formal volunteers to meet at each of our properties once a month.”

“In other words, one month will be designated to Ramsaysburg Homestead, next month will be designated to the elementary school,” St. Andre said. “Six projects are going on. And so, once a month, we then know that each of these properties will have at least two hours of maintenance.”

Warren County Pollinator Protectors had their first meeting in May and will continue to meet on the first Monday of each month through October. The idea is to grow the group of volunteers by each person bringing one or two more volunteers. Items that are usually brought by members to the meetings include trowels, loppers, clippers and gloves.

Raising community awareness is key

“What we are hoping to do is grow this group to not only raise awareness in the community of the necessity of having these kinds of gardens but to raise the awareness that you don’t need a meadow of native pollinators,” she said. “You can use the size of this picnic table and you will attract pollinators. It’s the educational component that is important.”

Raising awareness of community members and showing the impact these small gardens can have is key in native pollination projects like these.

Words of inspiration from the wildflower advocate who is spearheading this mission:

“Pollinator gardens often take a while to get established and they are not the showy, big kind, but very free, and not sculpted. It’s a very freeform look, but once established, it is absolutely beautiful.”

Joyce Diane Yetter

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Joyce Diane Yetter (nee. Dayson) 79, long time resident of Columbia passed away Friday, June 14, 2024, after a brief illness.

Born on, August 21, 1944, to the late Albert and Helen (Allen) Dayson in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. As a young girl she moved to Columbia where she married her beloved Andy marking the beginning of a shared life filled with love and devotion. Joyce raised her children in a beautiful home next to her beloved mother Helen making lifelong memories with their Gram. Joyce moved to White Township in 2022.

Joyce graduated from Belvidere High School in 1962, became a homemaker and went on to work for the State of New Jersey as a senior court clerk at the Warren County Courthouse in Belvidere for 25 years before her retirement. She made many life-long friends while employed at the courthouse.

She was a very talented artist, and enjoyed all types of mediums, including acrylic and water colors. She loved dining out, traveling to Lancaster and Florida and shopping. She loved exploring new places and taking day trips.

Joyce was predeceased by her beloved husband Andrew Yetter (P. 2020). Joyce was blessed with three children, Stacey Trone (P. 2022), David Trone and Aaron Yetter. She was also blessed with her grandchildren, Kristin, Natalie, Mikayla, Aaron Jr., Christian and Megan (P. 2014), seven great-grandchildren and her beloved pet Lacy.

Joyce is also survived by her sisters Nancy Read and Anita Sency and brother Thomas Dayson. She was predeceased by sisters Donna, Lillian and Martha and most recently her brother Albert.

Relatives and friends may visit on Friday June 21, 2024, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday June 2, 2024, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown. A service will be held at 11 a.m. at the funeral home on, Saturday, June 22, 2024, interment will follow at Hainesburg Cemetery.

Our pets give us unconditional love and enrich our lives. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in Joyce’s name to Father John’s Animal House, 50 Father John’s Lane, Lafayette, NJ 07848.

David C. Boynton

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It is with profound sadness that we announce the sudden passing of David C. Boynton, 77, a longtime member of the Frelinghuysen Township community. He passed away on June 12, 2024 at his home in Brant Lake, New York with his wife, Patti, by his side.

David was born on October 18, 1946, in Providence, Rhode Island to Harold and Ruth (Cary) Boynton.

He was the proprietor of David C. Boynton Painting for over 56 years and a well-known and respected member of the community. He was passionate about boating and farming but his first love was always his family and many friends. He was an avid card player and a master at Hi-Low-Jack, Cribbage and Oh Hell. He was a multi-year champion of the Backwoods Pool League, having just successfully defended his title this past year.

Since he was a child, he spent his summers in the Adirondacks, and as he grew older, he could often be found on his front porch enjoying the views of Brant Lake with a tall Tanqueray and tonic.

He was a sailor who loved his catamaran, Courageous Couple, and enjoyed many years sailing the coast of New England. The OAR at Block Island made his favorite mudslides.

David was a true patriot. He served his country as a corporal in the U.S. Marines with an active tour of duty during the Vietnam War. He also served his local community in various political positions, including proudly being the mayor of Frelinghuysen as well as serving on the township committee for 27 years.

He is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Patti; two sons, David Boynton, Zachary Boynton (Danielle); his daughter Jessica Mabunay (Nicholas); two grandchildren, Grace and Connor Mabunay; two sisters, Nancy Clark and Sue Glowacki; his brother Charles Boynton and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Dave’s name to the Brant Lake Association to help preserve the beauty and control the milfoil (brantlakeassoc.org) or to your local VFW.

Michael A. Mascia

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Michael A. Mascia, 37 years of age, a resident of Hardwick, passed away suddenly on June 12, 2024, in Columbia.

He was a graduate of North Warren Regional High School, class of 2005. He worked in various positions in his life from Cockadoodle doo, McDonalds, Dale’s Market, and he also worked at Happiness’s Camping, Hardwick.

Since 2013, Michael was lovingly known as “The Walker” who averaged at least 24 miles a day, his longest being 52 miles. He has been seen walking down Route 94, on back roads around North Warren, and has been spotted as far away as Hope, Hackettstown, Belvidere, Columbia and Washington, weather permitting but more often than not, rain or shine.

A very happy soul, he enjoyed writing, drawing and painting and was an expert Lego builder. He was a history buff and a member of NAMI of Warren County.

Michael is survived by his parents, Alan and Carole Mascia; two brothers, Christopher Mascia and significant other Tina Murphy; Alexander Mascia and fiancé Alyssa Murphy; two aunts, Diane Stabile (Jack Martin) and Donna Giubbini; two uncles, Steven Mascia (Cinde) and Jerry Stabile (Marianne) and many cousins.

A period of visitation will be held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown. A mass at 11 a.m., Thursday, June 20, 2024, St. Jude RC Church, 7 Eisenhower Road, Columbia.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to NAMI of Warren County, www.nami.org.

Larry Steven Hayter, Sr.

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Larry Steven Hayter, Sr., born on January 23, 1956, in Norfolk, Virginia, passed away peacefully at his home in Blairstown surrounded by his loving family on June 12, 2024.

Larry was the cherished son of Roscoe and Daisy (Chappell) Hayter. He grew up with his beloved siblings, Cheryl (husband Rick and children Keri and Karla), and Jerry (his children Devin and Mercedez). He is also survived by his sister-in-law Alice (her child Chrissy and grandnephews Dylan and Cole), and brother-in-law Manny.

Larry was the devoted husband of Mary Anne, with whom he shared almost 40 wonderful years of marriage. Together, they built a loving family that includes Larry Jr. (wife Suely), Kimberly, Alexsandra (husband Derek), Justin and Becky (soon to be wife Leah). He was a proud granddad to Failen, Kyla, Eric and Piper whom he loved beyond words.

A veteran, Larry served his country with honor in the Marines for four years. In his personal life, he was known for his deep love for his family, his passion for dancing and music and his fondness for ice cream and gummy bears. Larry had a special affection for animals, always expressing his admiration with the words, “You’re so pretty,” even when he didn’t have many words left. He leaves behind his beloved dog Millie and two cats, Smokey and Pumpkin.

Larry was a quiet man, but his storytelling skills were unparalleled. His smile could light up any room, always accompanied by his signature Crocs and a hairy fuzzy navel. He lived a life filled with love and joy, creating lasting memories with everyone he met.

Larry’s last week was spent in the warm embrace of his family, in a home filled with love. His wife, Mary Anne, provided him with unwavering care and affection until the very end.

There will be an open celebration of life for Larry at Buck Hill Brewery in Blairstown on June 30 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Please join us in celebrating the life of a remarkable man who touched so many hearts.

Larry’s legacy of love, joy and kindness will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. He will be deeply missed but never forgotten.

Sophie A. Allen

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Sophie A. Allen, 85, a longtime resident of Blairstown, a well-loved and respected member of the community, passed away on June 11, 2024 at her home with her husband by her side.

She was born on February 9, 1939 to the late Michael and Caroline (Rzosa) Czerniecki. She was a loving homemaker, wife, grandmother and great grandmother and good friend. Her volunteerism speaks for itself, including president of Hope Ladies Auxiliary of Hope Fire Department, president of Buzzie Reutimann (race car driver) Fan Club, secretary of United Methodist Church of Hope and secretary of 55 Plus Club of Hope. Her particular passions included going to NASCAR races and collecting Longaberger baskets.

She is survived by her loving husband of 63 years, Richard; two sons, Michael (Donna Whiteman); John (fiancé Cynthia Berry); grandchildren, Danielle Beck and family; Dalton (fiancé Stella Howie); great-grandchildren, Benjamin, Lylian, Renly. She was predeceased by her sister, Veronica Billows, and brothers, Joseph and Eugene.

In lieu of flowers, it is Sophie’s wish to have donations to St. John’s UMC in Hope.

Judith I. Copelton

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Judith I. Copelton (O’Hern) 77, of Hammondsport, New York, passed away peacefully Sunday evening, June 9, 2024 at her home.

Born on December 31, 1946 in Morristown, she was the only daughter to the late William and Norma (Cornine) O’Hern. A graduate from Hanover Park High School, she was a resident of both New Jersey and Pennsylvania before relocating to New York in 2022.

Judy was known for her love of the beach, flowers and her generosity towards others. She was very caring and always made time for the ones she loved. Her passing has left a great void in the lives of her family and friends.

She is survived by her loving husband of 32 years, Thomas Copelton; three sons, Edward Guerrini of Buckeye, Arizona; Craig Guerrini of Andover; and Eric Copelton of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania; five grandchildren and one great-grandson; two brothers, Daniel O’Hern of Blairstown and Darren O’Hern of Long Pond, Pennsylvania; as well as many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

She was preceded in death by a brother, William (Billy) O’Hern of Long Valley.

Visitation will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, July 1, 2024, at the Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94 Blairstown, followed by a memorial service at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to help with final expenses at https://gofund.me/30920068.

Kim A. Johnson

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Kim A. Johnson, 57 years of age, a Parsippany resident, passed away suddenly on June 6, 2024, in Dover.

Kim was born on December 9, 1966, to Henry William and Mary (Hodaraski) Johnson, Sr.

She is remembered as a happy “people” person. Kim loved the Jersey shore, animals, especially dogs, and walking in the park.

She is survived by and will be greatly missed by her brother, Henry William Johnson, Jr. (Lorraine), Lewisville, Texas. They were best friends and talked on the phone every day. She is also survived by her sister, Justine Horvath.

There are no services at this time. Kim has been entrusted into the care of Newbaker Funeral Home, 200 Route 94, Blairstown.

Centenary Stage Company Announces Cast for Summer Musical Series

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. – This summer, Centenary Stage Company (CSC) presents their summer musical series featuring “Grease” and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Performances for “Grease” will run July 11 to 21 and “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” will run August 1 to 11 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center of the Centenary University campus at 715 Grand Avenue, Hackettstown.

Tickets for “Grease “range from $29.50 to $35 and tickets for “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” range from $27.50 to $29.50 for adults with discounts available for seniors, students and children under 12 for select performances. The summer musicals will also feature family night on Thursday evening performances, with a buy one, get one ticket special beginning at 5:30 p.m. in person at the box office. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit centenarystageco.org or call the CSC box office at 908-979-0900.

The cast of “Grease” will include Centenary University students, alumni, CSC veterans and a few brand-new faces The cast includes: Raymond Ocasio IV, Mackenzey Reilly, Nicole Boscarino, Megan Schmiedhauser, Stacie Michelle, Lauren Noack, Dan F. Sims, Ryan Griffin, Josh Crowley, Billy Mills, Cody Jackson, Griffin Gartlgruber, Deirdre Bryant, Erin Clark, Arianna Cacioppo, Najee Tariq, Jeremy Ashton, Maximus Klevence, Kyle Hendricks, Saquan Williams, Sophie Belkin, Cherise Graham, Sam Lewis, Hope Keil and Pamela Welsch. Directing this production of “Grease” is Michael Restaino.

The cast of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” include Centenary University alumni and CSC veterans The cast includes: George Xavier, Aycka Lima, Cassandra Lindeblad, Kevin Whernahan, James Gerard Russo, Kayla Chirip, and Cody Jackson. Co-directing and choreographing this production is Lea Antolini-Lid. Jillian Petrie will also serve as co-director and choreographer.

The CSC box office is open Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and two hours prior to performances. The box office is located in the Lackland Performing Arts Center on the campus of Centenary University at 715 Grand Avenue, Hackettstown.