January 5, 2013 at 12:40 AM
ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ - Audience members overflowed into the lobby of the Andover Township Municipal Building on Friday night, for the swearing in ceremony of two newly elected committee members, a new mayor, a new deputy mayor, and police lieutenant.
Incumbent Michael Lensak, who was the township's mayor for 2012, was sworn in, along with newcomer, Janis McGovern.
The two were elected for a term from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2015.
There has been a shift with the Andover Township Committee this year, first, with the resignation of committee member Bob Smith, who departed due to his retirement outside of the United States. Gail Phoebus, another longtime committee member, who like Smith, served as mayor and deputy mayor, has transitioned into a new role, as one of the newest members to Sussex County's Board of Chosen Freeholders.
Where Smith and Phoebus would have previously sat, committee member Dolores Blackburn, and McGovern, have taken their seats.
"I've handed out the ballots," said Andover Township Clerk/Administrator Vita Thompson, for the next step in the process, which was choosing the next mayor.
"And, the vote is for Tom Walsh to serve as next mayor," said Thompson.
After Walsh was sworn in,he took his seat in the middle, and his first order of business, was to announce the results of next deputy mayor choice. The winner was Lensak, who rose for a second swearing in, as the township's new deputy mayor.
Following the appointments of the mayor, and deputy mayor, Eric Danielson officially took his oath as Andover Township Police Lieutenant. His wife, Debbie, pinned on Danielson's new badge.
Following a short recess to allow for the exit of the crowd there for the swearing in of Danielson, the committee was slated to approve the consent agenda. However, there were a few items pulled for question before approval.
Citizen Diane Gillespie questioned R2012-25, "To Authorize The Contract With Weather Works For Weather Forecast And Consultation Service."
"Could you explain why we have to contract to find out what the weather is?" Gillespie asked.
Walsh said the service is used to help the DPW take care of the ball fields and roads, as some of the benefits the township reaps for its usage.
"They are so spot on with their forecasts," said Walsh, who further explained that the township has used the service over the last four years.
For example, this weekend, he said where many weather outlets are predicting flurries, the Weather Works service has forecasted snow squalls, to deliver about an inch of snow.
For that reason, Walsh said, the roads have already been doused with salt brine.
He said each committee member, the police department, and the administrator, receive forecast notifications.
"The National Weather Service isn't as accurate as they [Weather Works] are," said Walsh, who indicated the annual cost for the service is $1,600.
Committee member Phil Boyce asked to discuss R2013-31, and R2013-32, appointment of labor counsel, David Corrigan, Esq., and Matthew J. Giacobbe, Esq., for the public's information as to why the township chose the attorneys. He said some candidates were disqualified due to "pay to play."
"If a candidate wants to work with us, and they have donated $300 or more to a political campaign a year prior, they're not eligible to work with us," Boyce explained.
The committee then allotted time for the regular appointments by the mayor. For the land use board, and environmental commission; township committee liaison appointments; and the township committee appointments including open space, board of health, recreation, and economic development advisory committee.
Thompson said there are changes with the board of health, and, township committee members will fill the appointments. Meetings will take place about 10 minutes before regular committee meetings, which are open to the public.
"We looked at the code, and it was a cost-saving measure," said Semrau.
Thompson he said, will also be the clerk for it.
One more order of new business, was the request by the Andover Youth Basketball League to be on the township's insurance policy. Semrau said the program is open to boys and girls from about third to eighth grades, and is comprised of 100 percent Andover Township residents, from both the Florence M. Burd and Long Pond Schools.
Walsh said the board of education was approached by the league, but did not want the exposure within their policy.
The township would receive all the fees for endorsing the league, and, it would precipitate no additonal cost on the township's insurance policy, according to Semrau.
The program, he said, runs through March 15.
Regarding why the board of education did not want to cover it, Walsh said, "I don't want to get into the politics right now."
Walsh did indicate there was a member, who is no longer on the board, who was especially against the board taking the league onto its insurance policy. He however, commended interim superintendent Peter Merluzzi, for his desire to take on the program.
"He [Merluzzi] was excellent, he was supportive," Walsh said.
"I'm very disappointed the board of education would not support this," said Boyce.
McGovern, who is the committee's new liaison for the board of education, said she will inquire at the next meeting for justification.
Lensak commended Walsh for "putting it together at the last minute," in terms of the township taking on the program.
Walsh concluded the meeting with a message for the committee.
"I just want to thank the committee for your support, and Mike for your great job as mayor," said Walsh, noting especially the challenges for Lensak in 2012, most notably the complications after Hurricane Sandy.
"We lost two very good committee members, I think we have extremely capable and good people in their positions," Walsh continued.
"I'm very excited, it's going to be a good year," he concluded.
The next meeting for the Andover Township Committee is Monday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.
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