VERNON TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Today, July 3, 2018, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) joined Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway and 85-year-old Sussex County resident Ann McGivney to tour improvements made to her home through a $7,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development. The grant was used to repair Ann’s front steps and walkway, put in new overhead lights in her kitchen, replace outdated plumbing in her bathroom, and clean off moss and repair her roof.
Back in 2015, Ann began the application process for a USDA grant that helps remove health and safety hazards to help seniors stay and retire in their homes. However, she ran into a number of roadblocks, in part due to issues with her eyesight. In September 2017, Ann came to Gottheimer’s office hours in Vernon to get help with the grant process. Gottheimer’s office immediately got to work. They contacted the USDA to determine what was stalling the process, sent over staff to Ann’s home to help finish paperwork, worked with local contractors to secure quotes for the home repairs, and stayed in touch with contractors to ensure the construction process was completed on schedule.
Earlier this year, Gottheimer had nominated Ann’s grandson Thomas for the U.S. Service Academies. Thomas will be completing the Navy ROTC program at Norfolk State University on a full scholarship. Gottheimer had also honored Thomas and his brother Jesse with Congressional Certificates of Recognition for earning the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program.
Gottheimer is focused on lowering taxes by clawing federal tax dollars back from Washington to New Jersey. Earlier this year, Gottheimer announced that, by working together to get a better return on investment, the Fifth District clawed back from the federal government $290 per household -- a 16% increase from recent years, through programs like the USDA’s Home Repair Program, the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) excess equipment program, the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), and the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant program.
Just last week, Gottheimer was thrilled to announce a $1.42 million loan from the USDA Rural Development Program to Camp Louemma, a 152-acre nonprofit sleepaway camp ground for children in Vernon. The campground had been operating for more than 77 years, serving 200 children per year and employing 41 full-time workers. If it were not for the USDA investment, the property would have been sold to developers. Instead, the camp will be growing and adding 14 new jobs, saving and creating a total of 55 jobs in the area, and maintaining a critical community organization. In addition, the Wantage Fire Department recently received $102,000 in federal funds for safety and operations as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grants, which allows fire departments to purchase or upgrade equipment. Finally, since Gottheimer’s been in office, Vernon and Franklin Borough have become the first towns to enroll in the LESO excess equipment program, and the Sussex County Economic Development Partnership was awarded $35,000 to help local businesses access the resources they need to succeed and create jobs.
“I was so thrilled to be able to help 85-year-old Sussex County resident Ann McGivney get the home repairs she needed to retire safely in her home, while also clawing back our federal tax dollars back to New Jersey. Ann has worked her entire life--up until she was 76 years old--and she deserves a happy and safe retirement close to her many children and grandchildren,” said Congressman Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I want to thank Ann for helping claw back dollars to the District, and for reaching out to my office so I can be of help. That’s why I’m here. I want anyone having trouble dealing with a federal agency or obtaining a grant to contact me.”
“This is another example of the local and federal government working together to get things done for the citizens. This was just absolutely awesome. You just saw the smile on that eighty-five-year-old’s woman face. That’s what this job is all about,” said Vernon Mayor Harry Shortway.
“It was wonderful to meet Josh and Mayor Shortway. I’m so grateful for their help in fixing up my house and getting the USDA grant. This grant will allow me to stay in my house and stay close to my family and my nine grandkids. Before, my daughter didn’t want me to use my front door because of the crumbling steps. I’m legally blind and I couldn’t see well in my kitchen. Now I have a new walkway and bright lights that help me see,” said Sussex County resident Ann McGivney.