FLEMINGTON, NJ - Keeping residents informed has been and continues to be a priority for Flemington Mayor Betsy Driver.
Friday, as 168 people watched live, she conducted a second briefing on Facebook with OEM Coordinator Brian McNally and Reverend Harry Mazujian of One Voice Hunterdon County.
McNally said that, as of the last briefing, 48 Hunterdon County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and five of them are Flemington residents. Mazujian hypothesized that there would be 10 times as many cases without social distancing.
According to McNally, the Flemington OEM and borough offices have been overwhelmed by callers with questions and those wanting to report illegally opened businesses. Many of these, he said, are third party calls, “somebody else told me that…” In response, the state has set up a website, COVID19.nj.gov/violations, to report violations.
A quick check of that website reveals that it is already overrun with reports of employer violations.
Locally, anyone who sees a group of kids, or even adults, gathering some place, McNally said to call the police so they can respond. The mayor noted they won’t be in trouble and no one will be arrested or ticketed, the police will just ask them to disburse.
To discourage those types of spontaneous gatherings, basketball hoops and swing sets have been taken down until the social gathering ban is over. Open park space is still usable, but pavilions and playground areas have been roped off.
In this second briefing, McNally stated there is still a critical need for blood donations. He suggested contacting the Hunterdon Medical Center at 908-788-6405 for scheduling information.
Shopping, he said, should be a one-family-member outing. McNally also suggested trying to use online ordering and curbside pickup where it is available.
He pleaded with people to have a social conscience.
“Please just shop normally,” McNally said. “Buy only what you need. The grocery stores are not going to close and if everyone just buys what they need there won’t be any shortages.”
The COVID19.NJ.Gov website is still the best place to get accurate information and dispel myths and rumors.
There is still no definitive answer about whether the May 1 property tax payment date will be pushed forward. Driver said that the municipal budget due date has been moved forward 30 days, but she is still waiting for notification from the state on the quarterly tax requirement.
The mayor again requested that anyone with extra PPE (personal protection equipment) donate it to the hospital and for use by first responders.
She also said that, as explained on the website, bulk item trash pickup has been suspended.
“Bulk is anything that doesn’t fit in your garbage can,” she said.
Going forward, Driver will hold online council briefings on the weeks in between scheduled council meetings, which are held the second and fourth Mondays of the month. The briefings can be viewed at GoToMeeting on Tuesdays and Fridays at 4 p.m., and the meeting link can be found on the Flemington homepage.
“These are not formal meetings,” said the mayor, “no action will be taken.”
She said she expects the meetings to last about 10 minutes, as she will just be sharing the latest COVID-19 information.
The briefing closed with insights from the Reverend.
“We need to take our time and step back from time to time during the day,” Mazujian said. “I think we hear a lot of language about fighting this, however I suggest that we take a lesson from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s not so much to fight this as it is to overcome it. We shall overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasis on ‘we.’ Individuals can’t do it by themselves. Republicans and Democrats can’t do it by themselves. We, as Flemington Borough, can’t do it by ourselves. We have to do it with Raritan Township and all the surrounding towns throughout the state, throughout the country.”
One thing we can feel through this, Mazujian said, is a blessing of unity throughout our borough, our surrounding towns, our county, our state, our nation and our world.
Mazujian also encouraged everyone to respond to the census because, especially in light of this crisis, aid will be based on residency numbers. The information will not be shared, even if people don’t have documentation they need to be counted.
Other resources mentioned were the Hunterdon Helpline online or at 908-782-4357 1-800-272-4630 and the new website, Flemington Helping Flemington.