SPARTA, NJ- The Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market had a special visitor on Sunday afternoon. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill joined Mayor Molly Whilesmith, council members Dan Chiariello and Dave Smith, Susan Egan and John Stanley of the Lake Mohawk Country Club to walk on the boardwalk taking in the atmosphere of the largest German Christmas market in the state.
Whilesmith had spoken with Sherrill’s office and the governor’s office in the aftermath of the ice and snow storm. The conversation covered the impact of the storm on residents including extensive power outages and downed trees.
“We were delighted that the congresswoman took time out of her Sunday to visit the Lake Mohawk German Christmas Market and discuss the significant damage that occurred during the recent storm,” Whilesmith said. “The congresswoman was instrumental in advocating for our residents and lobbied JCP&L to expedite power restoration.”
On the call with Sherrill’s office Whilesmith had mentioned the market was going to be running the following weekend. Sherrill’s office contacted the Sparta Mayor on Saturday to set up a visit. The congresswoman was going to be in Ogdensburg on Sunday afternoon and wanted to come see the storm impact to the township and visit the market.
With most of the power restored and roadways reopened, Whilesmith said she asked Sparta Police Chief Neil Spidaletto to share photos of the damage to give visual context to the reports of storm damage.
At the peak more than 70% of Sparta households were without power. Many were also without internet, phone and mobile service. School was closed for four days because of the power outage and closed roads. By Thursday, power had been restored to most of the town, phone and internet services began to return as well.
“[Sherrill] was impressed by the beauty of our community and the speed in which our amazing employees and emergency responders restored Sparta to normalcy,” Whilesmith said. “Mikie Sherrill promised to return next year, as her schedule permits.”
Sparta Department of Public Works employees not only cleared roads of snow and ice, they cleared trees and branches. In addition to township roads, Sparta crews helped out in Lake Mohawk County Club and on state and county roads, according to Spidaletto, to get the job done as quickly as possible.
There was no declaration of emergency by Governor Murphy, despite more than a third of the county having lost power for several days; some towns had more than 90% of the residents in the dark. Such a declaration would reimburse communities for the costs incurred because of the event.