HOPATCONG, NJ – The Hopatcong Borough Council renewed a franchise with Cablevision of Morris, LLC at its Wednesday, Dec. 5 council meeting.
Although only one resident commented from the audience, The Alternative Press received copies of several emails objecting to the renewal.
Michelle Guttenberger commented at the meeting that it is unusual to enter into a 10-year contract.
Council did renew the contract for 10 years.
Mayor Sylvia Petillo acknowledged there have been concerns that no other cable company was coming into the borough, but she pointed out if another company did, “we’d have to build a whole new partnership.”
She said council is “confident with a 10-year contract,” and pointed out the borough does get several perks with the contract, like a 10 percent discount for seniors who meet a financial bracket set by the state, a two percent gratuity for the borough, and a $20,000 grant for technology. The borough also gets free cable in borough buildings and schools.
Councilman Richard Bunce noted, “If you don’t give a franchise, you don’t get anything back.”
Resident Randall Paulenich sent emails to Petillo prior to the meeting, which he forwarded copies to The Alternative Press. He urged council to bring competitors in, and contended Verizon Fios is cheaper than Cablevision, and has battery back up, so it has service even when power is out.
In one email, Paulenich wrote, “I didn’t have power, but my Verizon phone was still working.”
He explained telecommunications companies regulated by the FCC are required to have battery backup (and generators to keep the batteries charges) at all central switching stations.
At the meeting Petillo said Verizon had declined to come into the borough.
In another email on Thursday, Dec. 6, Paulenich asked, “where’s the proof Verizon was even invited to bid on the contract: One of my contacts on my ‘Roll Back Our Tax’ group works for Verizon and will verify your comment” that Verizon said they were not interested.
On another storm-related matter, Petillo announced the borough will be a location for a meeting with Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L).
The meeting will be Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hopatcong Middle School gym. Residents are invited to talk about problems with the company during the storm.
Petillo also announced the borough Menorah and Christmas Tree lightings will be on Sunday, Dec. 9. The menorah will be lighted at 4:30 p.m., and the tree at 6 p.m.
Another announcement at the meeting was made by Bunce, He said the Armed Forces Relief Committee canceled its holiday gala because of the storm, but will hold a winter gala on Feb. 4 at Pavinci’s. For a $30 donation attendees will be entitled to food, entertainment and a silent auction. The money will go to wounded warriors.
The storm also disrupted the borough deer hunt, but council passed a resolution permitting hunting in the Natural Preserve by permit only Monday through Saturday for the 2012-2013 shotgun season. Council also established an application process for the permit.
Council also authorized the mayor and clerk to contract with salt and grits vendors through Sussex County Cooperative Purchasing. Borough Administrator Robert Elia said using the county co-op could save the borough as much as $30 a ton.
Another resolution authorized the fire inspector to collect for smoke detector inspections. Under the current system, the person needing the inspection must go to the municipal building to pay. Under the new system, the inspector will carry pre-numbered receipts and will be able to take checks.
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