HOPATCONG, NJ - The aftermath of Superstorm Sandy is still being felt in the Hopatcong Borough council chambers.
At the Wednesday, Feb. 6, council meeting, Mayor Sylvia Petillo honored the borough CERT team for its contribution during the storm, and the days following, as well as earlier contributions to the borough.
CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. The first CERT team was started in Los Angeles in 1985. Hopatcong’s CERT team started immediately after the Sussex County CERT. They are still the only two CERT's in the county.
The Hopatcong team has as many volunteers as the county team, Petillo said.
The 50 members of the Hopatcong team hold meetings and drills once a month, Petillo said. CERT members are trained over 10 or 12 weeks or three weekends. They learn basic fire and police procedures, search and rescue, emergency medical operations, CERT organization, disaster preparedness, disaster psychology, terrorism, shelter operations, chain of command and animal rescue.
“Our CERT team has also been involved in search for evidence and search for missing persons locally and throughout the county," Petillo said in her proclamation.
They were really put to the test when a shelter was set up after the storm. Volunteers from CERT manned the shelter at the high school for two weeks. “Without complaining,” team leader Steve Millian said.
“You are more than a group that handles traffic,” Petillo said. “We depend on you so much.”
The council also honored Butch Mendyk for his 35 years of active service on the Hopatcong Ambulance Squad.
Mendyk has been a basic and advanced first aid instructor, a CPR instructor, and an EMT instructor for 27 years. He has held every office on the squad.
The council meeting served as a lesson for Bobby Winegar, a sixth grader at St. Michael’s School in Netcong, who was taking notes on the meeting for a class project. Petillo and members of council took time to explain certain votes to Bobby.
Petillo had two sad announcements. She announced the death of Bob Faarz, husband of dispatcher Liz Faarz, who died early the morning of the meeting at the Dover General building of St. Clare’s Hospital.
The mayor also announced the passing of Josie Harman, who had just turned 99-years-old, and was the oldest resident of the borough.
Borough Administrator Robert Elia announced the another set of bid specifications is ready under the borough’s water service improvement grant. This project is the reconstruction of the Bayview Avenue wellhouse.
He also explained council’s vote on a new emergency communication system. During the storm, the borough lost internet service, and had problems communicating with residents. The Honeywell system works out of two locations, making it less likely to go down.
Council voted unanimously to contract with Honeywell. Elia explained the first year would cost the borough $11,950. The second and third year would cost $8,950 each. After that there will be approximately a three percent increase.
An ordinance adopted by council sets a minimum and maximum salary for food service workers of $7.50 to $12.00 an hour. The borough must now provide workers for the senior nutrition program since Catholic Charities no longer administers the program. It is funded through the county.
Introduced was an ordinance appropriating $35,000 from the municipal open space recreation trust for rehabilitation of the Modick Park basketball courts.
“Maybe we can bring back clinics and tournaments we used to hold there,” Petillo said.
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