SPARTA, N.J.- One of the highlights of the Tuesday, November 27 Sparta Township Council meeting, was when they handed out the Sparta Patriot Awards, recognizing philanthropic and community minded citizens.  

 “We want to recognize them for all of the work they do,” said Councilman Gilbert Gibbs.

 The Sparta Patriot Award recipients were: Dr. Christian Canzoniero, Vikki Szabo, Janine Cerra, Maureen Dykstra, Jennifer Morelle, Julie Killen, Melissa Fagersten, Deb Siipola, Gary Kolakowski, John Durkot, Bishop Dustin Townsend, Anthony Alfonso and Bill Gervens.  

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Five items were discussed during the Manager’s Report, given by Township Manager David Troast.

The first item discussed was the shared service agreements, where Troast explained that he is working with Franklin Borough for gathering information for dispatching. He added that, regarding an animal control contract with the Town of Newton, he is unsure of if Newton is interested in a shared service agreement, but will be meeting with the animal control contact again.

The second item was the Employee Policy Manual, which was updated, is ready for the first reading, and awaiting action.

An update on Hurricane Sandy damage was item three; cleaning up after the hurricane has been a monumental task, and the town is still cleaning up. The council also added that citizens can recoup money from their insurance company if they need to buy a permit from the town for damages to their houses or property.

Item four scheduled the next committee meeting, as well as an additional meeting on December 27, where there will be a discussion of payment of bills, and allotment of money.

The final item was that the Sparta Fire Department appointed a new fireman, Terrence W. O’ Brien.  

The introduction of an ordinance to revise township personnel and policies manual was approved, as well as the hearing of ordinances to revise acceptance of the dedication of Town Center Drive as a public street, and of authorizing emergency appropriations to revise tax maps. Expenditures were also approved.

The following eleven resolutions were also approved: a raffle application amendment for Sussex Tech PTA; a refund of tax overpayments, of state tax appeal credits and of tax overpayments for veteran’s deduction; a solid waste account credit; a cancellation of tax overpayments or delinquencies; a resolution to increase current change fund; an authorization contract award for land services for the towns tax map certification project; a resolution authorizing a dispatch service agreement between Sparta and the Borough of Ogdensburg, and between Sparta and the Borough of Stanhope; and a resolution authorizing a shared services agreement with the Hardyston Township Board of Education for the position of “Treasurer of School Monies.”

Updates on "Unfinished Business" from prior meetings included the following: Attorney Thomas Ryan has heard from the lawyers for Homer’s Restaurant, but has not yet received their contract; the parking ordinance will be followed up on with the Fire Marshal; Deputy Mayor John Schon will have something for the council to look at during the next meeting, regarding the evaluation policy for the township manager and township clerk; the transfer of titles for ambulance vehicles were withdrawn, and everything will stay the way it is currently; and for grant writing services, multiple avenues have been looked into, and they would like to go out and send out request proposals as the next step of the process.

“[I’m] tired of hearing that Sparta is not business friendly. I think we need to look into that,” said Gibbs, during the "New Business" session of the meeting.

Gibbs said he would like to look into getting a committee together to evaluate the construction department, and see how the town feels about finding a way to streamline the process of applying; they would like to switch to a single page application that is online.

Also discussed during the New Business portion was the visit of Santa Claus for all of the town children on Sunday, December 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. There was also a request from a Rabbi to have a small ceremony at the Sparta Town Hall, but due to issues of separation of church and state, was passed over.

“I truly thank you guys for going above and beyond,” said citizen Rick Sullivan during the public sessions, specifically addressing the township manager and council members regarding the work they did during Hurricane Sandy.

Also during the public session, citizen Mike Spekhardt questioned Mayor Jerry Murphy and his position on the letter he wrote to the editor of a local paper. Spekhardt questioned if whether or not the public votes by council for modifying agreements, and if the entire council felt similar to the mayor regarding his letter to the editor. The mayor and the council members explained their positions, saying that those were the Mayor’s words and views.

The next township council meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m.

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