STANHOPE BOROUGH, NJ - Reverend Hugh Matlack of the First Presbyterian Church was the first to introduce the crowd of guests at Stanhope Borough’s annual reorganization meeting on January 1, 2013.
“We are a great community and I am proud of all we have done this past year,” said Matlack, who then continued to read a excerpt from the Bible.
Municipal Clerk Ellen Horak then read the November 2012 Election Results with Statement of Determination.
Borough attorney, Richard Stein, swore in councilmen George Graham, and Bill Thornton each for another three-year term.
Mayor Rosemarie Maio read from her opening speech to the public, “Good Afternoon, and Happy New Year. Thank you all for joining us this afternoon. I know it’s a day when you’d like to be with family or at home rewriting your New Year’s resolutions, so we won’t keep you too long. Before we get started, I want to take a minute to acknowledge a number of special guests who are here today. First, my thanks to Rev. Hugh Matlack of the First Presbyterian Church for his blessings and good wishes. Now, with help from Administrator Brian McNeilly, who I hope was able to spot everyone.”
Maio then proceeded to thank the Sussex County Administrative Center Board of Chosen Freeholders, Mayor Sylvia Petillo, Marie Galate, and John Hathaway of Hopatcong Borough, Nisha Kash and Marie Raffay of Byram Township, officers and members of the Stanhope Fire Department and Stanhope-Netcong Ambulance Corps, Raymond Sarinelli of Nisivoccia & Company, Dave Hoyt and Steve Ratner of Musconetcong Sewerage Authority, Stanhope Borough Attorney Richard Stein, Paula Murphy the President of the Chamber of Commerce, members of the Land Use Board, Board of Health, Netcong Council, and Lake Board.
“Special thanks, too, to the members of the American Legion who graciously allow us to use this facility as our unofficial borough civic center, and to the members of the Stanhope Senior Citizens Club for decorating and preparing refreshments for today’s Reorganization meeting," Maio continued.
Maio said, “I spent much of this morning on the phone with various family members including my three aunts, ages 89, 96, and 102. They are all that are left of my Mom’s siblings and, as you might expect, they are held very dear by the rest of the family. The two younger ones wished me a Happy New Year, and told me to take care of myself since, as they pointed out, I wasn’t getting any younger. The oldest, not a shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination, asked if I had spoken to her sisters. When I assured her that I had she said, ‘I suppose they told you to take care of yourself.’ They did, I said, and she responded, ‘Well, that’s ok, but it’s not enough to just take care of yourself. We all have to take care of one another.’ That’s pretty good advice, and I think it’s what we do here in Stanhope. Time and again, our residents, our volunteers from the Fire Department and Ambulance Squad to those who serve on our Boards and Commissions take care of each other. They proved that once again this year as we suffered through the pain of Superstorm Sandy.”
Maio concluding her opening speech with, “As a governing body, we applaud and appreciate the efforts and concerns of all of our citizens and our employees and we know that their contribution to Stanhope is as important as anything we do to ensure the quality of life we enjoy here. 2013 will no doubt bring us new challenges, new problems, and new opportunities to prove once more that we always take care of each other. I look forward to another year of service as your Mayor and on behalf of the members of the council, I wish you and your loved ones a healthy and prosperous new year filled with joy. May God bless us all."
During the reorganization, councilwoman Diana Kuncken was elected as council president, and councilman Michael Depew was elected as the Council Representative to the Land Use Board.
Fire Chief Gary Card, and Officers of Stanhope Hose Company No. 1, took their oaths of office as well.
A “Life Saving Award” was presented to Stanhope Police Officers Robert Popelka and Ryan Hickman, by Stanhope Police Chief Steven Pittigher, for their response to a 9-1-1 call. They saved a woman’s life, and she is well today.
Maio read 2012 highlights of the year to the public.
“While we’ve all been admonished at one time or another not to wish time away, thanks to Superstorm Sandy I can honestly say I’m glad the year is over. It was a horrific time for all of us, but a time when the best of our human nature rose to the surface. Neighbors shared the warm of their generators, their meals, their homes and their company with each other. Volunteers and Borough employees did an outstanding job of keeping our residents safe and as comfortable as could be given circumstances most of us had never before experienced," Maio said.
Maio added, "And while we suffered as a community with the total destruction of three homes, partial damage to a number of others, the loss of dozens of cars and an as yet uncounted number of beautiful old trees, we can be thankful that we suffered no serious injuries anywhere in the borough."
After reviewing the downside of the year, Maio said, "Sandy was the borough's bad news for 2012. The good news is that we accomplished a great deal, finished up a number of projects that had been planned or started in previous years and took a giant a leap forward on some exciting new programs."
Maio informed the public of the accomplishments.
"We completed the replacement of new water mains and pipes along Sparta Road.
The upgraded chlorination system for our wells was completed and we now treat all of our wells with a much safer system utilizing chlorine tablets rather than gas.
We introduced an ACH debit program which allows those residents who so choose to pay their property taxes and/or water and sewer bills through automatic withdrawal from their savings or checking accounts. It’s no less painful, but certainly more convenient.
We milled and paved Church Street and Linden Avenue and oiled and chipped 10 additional roads, some of which we had planned to repair in 2011 but were delayed due to Hurricane Irene and the October (2011) snowstorm.
We entered into a shared services agreement with Sussex County to utilize the County’s Fire Marshall for fire inspections, a move that cost us nothing and which we believe will improve fire safety among our commercial properties.
We underwent a borough-wide property reassessment to ensure that residential and commercial properties were fairly assessed according to current property values.
We established smoke-free zones in our parks and on all borough-owned properties.
We contracted the services of Millennium Strategies for grant writing, and with their help and that of our borough engineer, we applied for three major grants, including one to extend sidewalks along Route 183, and another for long overdue road and water line improvements on the lower end of Maple Terrace.
Through the efforts of our recreation department, we joined with Netcong and Byram in an expanded Summer Camp program for borough youngsters.
We acquired the property adjacent to the Municipal Building, and will determine this year whether to sell it for commercial development or maintain it for future use by the borough.
Working with fire chief Card, and the members of the fire department, we investigated options for updating our fire emergency notification system, and decided to purchase high band radio equipment for the department. We are waiting the approval of our FCC license, and expect to be able to retire our 1950’s air raid sirens, and replace them with modern, up-to-date equipment this year.
We completed our first full year of a shared court with the Borough of Hopatcong, a move that has saved us a bit of money and allowed us to provide the police department with better security, much needed additional space and a major, and much needed face lift.
Utilizing funds which were allocated as far back as 2001, we have begun a renovation project at the municipal building, beginning with renovations to the Council Chambers, a project which will continue through 2013, to provide more efficient use of our available office space, and a much more welcoming environment for both residents and employees.
We proudly joined with the Borough of Netcong in providing funds for the Stanhope-Netcong American Legion Ambulance Corps to purchase a new ambulance to be delivered sometime this spring. The new ambulance will replace a 13-year-old rig, and enable our dedicated volunteers on the squad to continue to provide outstanding service to the members of our two communities.
And, finally, we have begun the long anticipated upgrading of our borough-wide water system, a multi-year project which will be funded through a low-cost loan from the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust.”
Maio concluded her speech, "And so, despite the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, 2012 was a pretty good year in the borough. Much was accomplished. Many projects were completed and many more were begun. The bar has been set pretty high for 2013 and the members of your governing body have never been more dedicated to doing whatever it takes to maintain our quality of life here and to do so in an efficient and fiscally responsible matter.We thank our employees, our professional staff, and our volunteers for their on-going efforts and contributions and we encourage you all to continue to challenge us and to work with us to keep Stanhope a community in which we can all be proud."
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