Murder Trial Opens
4/6/99 The Koskovich murder trial opened yesterday, with prosecutors portraying Franklin twp. resident Thomas Koskovich as a stone killer and defense attorneys depicting him as stoned out of his mind on April 19, 1997, the night he and Jayson Vreeland (19, Vernon twp.) shot Giorgio Gallara and Jeremy Giordano to death. Prosecutors said Koskovich and Vreeland hugged one another after comitting the murder of the two pizza delivery men, whom they had lured to a deserted location in Franklin.
Aug.'98 Joyriding Thieves Collared
On April 2, 1999, two Vernon men were arrested and charged in connection with the Aug.22,1998 theft and trashing of a minivan in Highland Lakes. Besides stealing the vehicle, the joyriding thieves had ripped off over $1000. worth of stuff they found in it. Hikers discovered the wrecked minivan in the woods off Rt. 638 on Aug.23. (see Past News, Lock It and Pocket The Key)
Christopher Wilson, 21, was charged with unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, criminal mischief , theft and leaving the scene of an accident; bail was set at $20,000. He is currently in the county jail on charges related to another crime.
Jeffrey Fleece, 19, was charged with theft and riding in a motor vehicle taken without the owner's consent. He was released on his own recognizance.
An unidentified 18- yr.-old was similarly charged and arrested on April 1, also released pending court appearance.
NJ & Y2K - See For Yourself
4/3/99 Click over to CIO Magazine's state-by-state comparison of Y2K remediation progress. See how The Garden State stacks up.
(Not too well)
"Melissa" Programmer Busted in NJ
4/2/99 David L. Smith,30, of Aberdeen NJ, was arrested today and faces up to 40 years in jail for creating the now-infamous "Melissa " virus, which spammed the nation's email inboxes this week .
Folks who opened the "file.doc" email attachment unwittingly transmitted "Melissa" to the first fifty names in their address books. The contagion spread so rapidly that many email servers across the U.S. were jammed/forced to shut down, network security companies reported.
Early accounts of the arrest identified Smith as a programmer for AT&T. Police said they backtracked to Smith through his AOL account. Other programming analysts speculated that the document-tracing "fingerprint" code hidden in Microsoft word processing software might have helped authorities to identify Smith as Melissa's source. Meanwhile, one Internet industry newsletter, ICONOCAST, had already noted that the Melissa macro worm epidemic might conceivably be a prototype of "viral marketing," i.e. using "v-mail" to easily deliver commercial messages exponentially.
Government concern about the Melissa macro virus centered on its ability to grab word processing documents from infected computers and send the docs out as emails. It is believed that the Microsoft platform is most vulnerable to Melissa (and about 700,000 other macro viruses). In programming circles, this prompted a renewal of the discussion re: whether or not Microsoft's "convenient" features meant less security for computer users. Very few computer users have occasion to use the macro feature in Microsoft word processing programs, and those who do are often tempted to disable the constant pop-up window reminder of possible macro-borne viruses.
Fingerprints, AOL backtracking, "viral marketing" - all food for thought, web users...
A Day Of Fires
3/31/99 At about 10:00AM a "controlled burn" got out of control on Canistear Road near Cliffwood Lake and threatened to become a serious forest fire, VWeb correspondents report. Official PD reports re: the incident, which evidently engaged at least four firefighting companies, were not available as of c.o.b. today.
Later in the day a fire broke out in the science wing of Vernon Twp. High School, reportedly resulting from the reaction of a mix of chemicals thrown together in a trash receptacle.
Student correspondents told VWeb that, although the hallway filled with smoke, no fire alarms went off.
Storm Brewing Over Sea Captain's (Ralph's) House
3/29/99 Against the wishes of its owner, Ralph Carnissecchi, the Sea Captain's House on Rt. 515 has been designated as an historic landmark by the township's Planning Board. This means the owner of the property can't do any work on it without the Historic Preservation Commission's approval.
No good, said Vernon's ex-mayor Carnissecchi, who vowed to defend his property rights in court.
DON'T Open It
3/27/99 Just a reminder: if you receive an email with an attachment, Don't Open That Attachment EVEN IF you recognize the name of the addie it came from. There's just too much destructive stuff out there these days. Opening a message alone will not activate a virus or "worm" but don't open any attachment files. Take no chances. NEVER execute (click open) any executable-file attachment (EXE, SHS, MS Word or MS Excel file) that comes from an email or a newsgroup article from an untrusted source.
For instance, a recent email-carried virus called "Melissa" works this way: the subject line says "Important Message From" and the sender might even be the name of someone the recipent knows. The actual message says, "here's that document you asked for." When the recipient opens the attachment (in this case called "list.doc") the "Melissa" virus automatically searches for an email address book. It then sends the same message, pretending to be from the recipient, to the names in the recipient's address book. It sends itself out. Evil! In this way the spread of "Melissa" is exponential.
It caused several large corporations to shut down their email servers last Friday. Now might be a good time to update your anti-virus software. "Melissa" and another trojan horse called Happy99 (even worse) are among the fastest spreading email att. virus/worms rampaging across the Internet at present.
People to Vernon Bd. Of Ed.: Forget That XL K Proposal
3/27/99 A $192,000. school budget line item to fund extended kindergarten hours/6 new Kteachers got a thumbs-down from residents at Thursday's Bd. Of Ed. school budget presentation. An estimated 100 members of the public showed up for the presentation.
The KPlan was part of the proposed extra-added $3.3 mil budget which will appear on the April 20 ballot along with the proposed base $21.6 mil budget. The Kplan item will be removed and the budget will be recalculated accordingly .
Two other motions for budget adjustments were defeated, namely an energy expense reduction of $245,334. and a motion to fold stringed instruments instruction back into the base budget (as opposed to making it part of the extra-added separate budget).
What A Difference A Day Makes...
3/25/99 In less than 36 hours, say surprised downtown Vernon folks, the property at the corner of Church St. and Omega Drive was completely cleared, trees cut down, topsoil removed, and the footings/foundation of a building constructed.
The virtually overnight transformation took place about three weeks ago. At the time, workmen told inquiring owners of nearby /adjoining properties that the foundation of an office building was underway .
According to the township buildings dept., the property is owned by Bruce Zaretsky . A permit for foundation/footings is on file but the structure to be built on them is still unknown, a twp. buildings dept. employee said.
Watch Out For Gypsies
(3/24/99) Yes, gypsies. Roaming from town to town in their late-model pick-up trucks, peddling suspiciously cheap "quality merchandise," offering home improvement services (especially "paving" of residential driveways) and running the various ancient scams which the nation's lawbooks, police bunco squads and consumer affairs inspectors call "theft by deception."
An incident here in Sussex County is worth mentioning: Last Friday, a machine tools salesman was peddling his wares to a group of workers at Custom Docks on Rt. 206 in Sandyston. He suddenly took off in his 1998 red Ford pickup when he spotted the business owner writing down its license plate number.
State troopers identified the (unapprehended) "salesman" as Barney Sherlock, of the Travellers clan. The Travellers are gypsies whose most recent specialty is peddling machine tool knock-offs -cheap tools, but with fake expensive-brand-name stickers to fool the "marks." The Travelers clan has been around for a long time in the U.S. Unlike most gypsy clans, the Travellers in the U.S. have permanent residential enclaves down south where they pass the winter months in millionaire style.
They are descendants of the Irish Travellers, sometimes called "The Walking People" or Tinkers, who were not Romany gypsies but who had the same itinerant lifestyle. Modern technology led the Travellers to abandon their ancient specialties: metalcraft, knife-sharpening and knife-making.
When spring comes, the Travellers head north, their caravan of pickup trucks led by a tractor-trailer loaded with rip-off hardware. Some families of Travellers insist they are NOT thieves, but most share the one-day-at-a-time "beg, borrrow or steal" gypsy mentality. Like all gypsies, they have no allegiance to any country.
They are non-violent, seldom apprehended, and their ability to evade the processes of the law is legendary. They almost always get away clean.
(3/23/99) Batten down the trashcans. Black bear hibernation season is over, and human newcomers to town are hereby notified that the bears do not respect your property rights. They'll eat just about anything, wreck even your sturdiest , most ornate cast-iron-pole birdfeeders to get at the seeds inside, disport themselves in your swimming pool, walk down the road with no regard for oncoming vehicles, and feast on any refuse that presents itself anywhere. Folks who put out their garbage overnight, or in flimsy containers, are in for a world of trouble.
When bears appear , stay away from them and enjoy observing them from a safe distance. If you spot a bear ripping your garbage cans open , don't run out there to take close-up snapshots. Stay indoors until the bear goes away.
Not that you ever would, but don't leave young children or household pets unsupervised in the yard .
And do not feed the bears.
Not Registered To Vote? How Come?
It costs you nothing. You can even register by mail. Call the town clerk (973) 764-4055 or the county clerk (973) 579-0900 and they'll mail you the registration form. Take a minute to fill it out and mail it back.
In return you'll get a card entitling you to cast your own personal vote on everything from local school budgets
to U.S Presidents.
Alternatively you can shrug it off and let the next guy decide what's best for you, your children, your town, the nation, etc.
You can register at any time prior to the 29th day before any election.
Here are the 1999 election dates:Vernon School Board Election April 20,1999
Primary Election June 8, 1999
General Election November 2, 1999
You can also register in person at the town clerk's office, the county's Board of Elections office, or at any Motor Vehicle Office or Welfare Office.
June '99 Primary Ballot : Deadline April 15 for GOP, Dem Hopefuls
On June 8, Vernon's registered GOP and Dem voters will choose their candidates for, among other things, this November's Town Council election.
Wanna be a contender for your party's nod of approval? Here's how it works:
By the time of the June 8 primary,you have to be a U.S. citizen, a registered Republican or Democrat, 18 yrs. old and a resident of Vernon Twp. for at least 30 days.
You have to go down to the town clerk's office and get a petition form. Republicans need signatures of fifty registered Vernon resident/ Republicans on their petition to get on the June 8 ballot, Democrats need signatures of five registered Vernon resident/Dems.
GOP and Dem petitions to get on the June 8 ballot have to be handed in to the town clerk by April 15.
Petitions for independents (due June 8) can only be submitted to the County Clerk.
Vernon Schools, Township Need MO' MONEY
(3/21/99) Here are some of the reasons why Vernon homeowners will be asked to pay mo' taxes:
BigBiz taxpayers like Legends (owe $235,000.) haven't paid up their '98 taxes, a lack of town revenue which leaves residential taxpayers holding the bag.
The Town needs money for road improvements, new hiring, raises, new vehicles, computer upgrades, etc.
The Town needs money to pay consultants for Town Center studies and Sewer studies.
The Schools need money for sports programs and salary increases and to make up for state funding cuts.
The $14.22 million town budget was adopted by the Town Council on Monday 3/22.
The complexities of the $21.56 million school budget will be explained at a public hearing on 3/25 and the school budget will be submitted to voters as part of the Bd. Of Ed. election on 4/20.
Vernon Earth Day Celebration
(3/18/99) There will be an Earth Day celebration in Vernon on April 24. Plans for the event, to be held at IntraWest's Mountain Creek South Lodge, were set in motion by members of the township's Environmental Commission awhile back. Vernon Schools have since been enlisted in the effort.
Besides IntraWest, the corporate sponsors of the event presently include: Burger King, Public Service Electric & Gas, General Public Utilities, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative. Some of the corporations are sponsoring contests in Vernon public schools, prizes (bonds in various amounts) to be awarded at the April 24 event. There will be entertainment, school project exhibits, pony rides, face painting and many other activities throughout the day.
Chair lifts will be made available to take folks up the mountain for nature walks.
Hey, Remember Earth Day?
Earth Day was the idea of Iowa-born (3/22/15) John McConnell who convinced the City of San Francisco CA to proclaim the first Earth Day : March 20, 1969 (McConnell said that Earth Day should be observed on March 20 (Vernal Equinox) or 21, first day of spring).
In the following decade, world leaders from U.S. presidents to U.N. secretaries general issued similar proclamations for March 20 . Earth Flag/Tree of Life images and Earth Day events were a rite of spring throughout the 1970s to mid-1980s.
People convened at Earth Day tree planting events, environmental teach-ins, environmental legislation group workshops, etc. Recycling, global warming, rainforest destruction, toxic waste dumping, acid rain/industrial air and water pollution were still fairly new issues back then.
Earth Day celebrations and proclamations occurred much less frequently during the 80s and 90s.
Excerpts from Earth Day founder John McConnell's "77 Theses"
Mcconnell included these among "the Principles and Policies that will foster the peaceful nurture and care of the Planet Earth."
58. That there is a right and wrong size for everything. Finding the right size is essential to the lasting success of any product, system, arrangement, institution or endeavor;
59. That everything should be as small as possible, unless there is a good reason for it to be larger. In many cases communities and businesses should be smaller - providing more intimate, humane services to smaller groups of people;
60. That constant growth of a city or a business will eventually lead to disaster. Exponential factors decree this. Cities and towns can avoid this by providing laws that only allow new construction which replaces old structures. New Earth communities using interactive technologies can relieve congestion;
61. That once a community or business reaches an optimum size, progress should be sought, not through an increase in size or profits, but through improved quality of services and products. In a small business where the employees are close to owners with a personal interest in each employee, a shared understanding of the operation and its purpose brings better give and take, the pursuit of excellence and efficiency. Given a level playing field of competition, when a business gets too big, its smaller competitors will be the ones to increase sales. Also, cooperatives will be given a better chance to prove their worth.
If you were wondering why Earth Day fell into disfavor during the 80s, the above excerpts are a tip-off.
Census 2000 Jobs - Good Pay! But No Exam Sites In Sussex County
Much higher wages will be paid to census workers this time out, and thousands of Jerseyans are signing up to take the test for jobs which, in northern counties, will be paying $14. to $17. per hour (managers up to $26. per hour).
The testing is currently being scheduled for March and April at public locations all over the state.
But a U.S. Dept. of Commerce Bureau of the Census representative said that , as of March 12, "Sussex County hasn't let the Bureau of Census know of any testing sites" for the convenience of test-takers in this neck of the woods.
When contacted by Vweb on 3/12, Sussex County Clerk's Office and Sussex County Planning Office representatives said they had no clue re: census job information/testing , and generally conveyed a high level of disinterest in the matter.
The county's Div. Of Welfare staffers, however, readily supplied helpful info & the phone number of the Census 200 Job Line (1-888-325-7733).
Persons interested in taking the easy 28 question (multiple choice - reading, arithmetic, map-reading) test for census jobs can call that number for full details and can arrange to take the test at various locations in nearby counties. For instance, throughout Morris County, testing sessions are scheduled to be given at any number of town senior centers, public libraries etc.
PD Radio Tower, Finally
The Town Council has at last selected a Lake Panorama location for a 104 ft. radio tower which will make the VPD's communication system upgrade possible. The tower will be erected at 10-12 Summit Circle, for which property the town will pay $17K.
He was cooking WHAT? AAAUGHH!
On 3/ 5/99, the NJ State Police arrested a 36 yr. old man when they walked into his McAfee residence and found him boiling a housemate's pet cat for dinner.
The unidentified housemate had called social services, who notified the police.
Paul Whritenour, who told arresting officers that he had dined on cats and dogs at least six times in the past, was taken to Graystone psychiatric facility and will face charges of animal cruelty.
No Miss Vernon
There was no Miss Vernon contest at the Winter Carnival because no contestants registered, sources said.
A separate Miss V contest may be held later this year.
Schools Get More State Money, May Need More Local Money
Vernon schools will receive another $242,649.00 in state aid for a total of $25,160,868.00, a somewhat higher amount than the figure originally announced last month.
The Vernon Schools budget may require an additional infusion of local funds.
Budget forecasters predict that the April 20 Bd. of Ed. election/budget referendum will ask voters to approve a municipal funding hike.
Utilities Y2K Test - Weird Science?
Take a look at the buzz re: the upcoming Y2K preparedness test scheduled by the utilities. Here's an excerpt from Y2KNEWSWIRE.COM:
"A scheduled Y2K drill by the electric industry on April 9 appears to have been rigged to deceive the public and produce 100%-certain positive results. The plan is apparently designed to engineer a 'success story' to "instill public confidence." Electric utility companies are encouraged to run through the drill ahead of time, to avoid scheduling maintenance during the drill, and to only test those systems they are confident will result in no problems. This, revealed by a document posted on the web site of the North American Electric Reliability Council's (NERC) named, 'Y2K drill preparation strategies.'"
The public deserves honest testing and honest disclosure in order to prepare for whatever might happen in Y2k - unfortunately, the public is getting just the opposite.
This dangerous trend is discussed in an article on TechWeb's Information Week.
Is The 'Pizza Murders' Jury Pool Contaminated?
2/26/99 Yesterday a prospective Sussex County juror in the case of Thomas Koskovich, first of the two defendants to be tried for the April '97 murder of Jeremy Giordano and Giorgio Gallara, admitted discussing the case with her fellow jury candidates and was excused from the panel by Superior Court Justice Reginald Stanton.
The juror's statements, whether a ploy to get off jury duty or a true and accurate report of juror conversations in the courthouse, implied that many in the existing pool of jurors had been discussing the highly publicized case. According to the juror's statement, many of her fellow jurors had also discussed the strategy of asking the court to excuse them because they could not be fair and impartial.
Yesterday was the first day the summoned jury candidates, from among whom the court hopes to select a pool of about 50 potential jurors, were brought into the courtroom.
Attorneys for Koskovich characterized the excused juror's statements as "problematic" and predicted that the selection of an impartial jury would take at least two months.
A trial of the second defendant, Jason Vreeland, will not be scheduled until the Koskovich trial is concluded.
Tax Rise Foreseen
Looks like taxes wil go up in Vernon, mainly because of cutbacks in state aid.
The town's preliminary budget ($14.2 mil) was introduced at the TC meeting on 2/22/99 and the final budget will be presented on March 22.
ATTN all residents who own the average house, valued at $116,900: both of you can expect to pay about $35. more. That is, if you paid only $558.78 in taxes last year, it will go up to $593.82 this year.
Recycling Center Doomed? Residents Urge Vernon Council To Think Twice
2/22/99 VWeb correspondent MS contributed this report re: tonight's Town Council meeting, specifically public feedback as to whether or not funding for the recycling center should be eliminated from the town budget.
"A petition was started by Vince Schneider to keep the recycling center open and within a matter of hours had over 200 signatures.
Also a representative of the Highland Lakes Ecological Committee expressed concern over the loss of the center, believing that garbage will be left on the side of the roads and bears will get into recycling trash left out to be picked up causing more of a mess.
Ira Weinburg raised the possibility of having trees and screening to improve the appearance of the center.
Also a council member mentioned that he believes that having the center keeps the cost of garbage hauling down, and that before we had the recycling the cost was very much on the rise."
2/23/99  Recycling Center funding restored to the town budget
Wanna Recycle? TC Says Go Pay For It Yourself
2/19/98 In a 3-2 vote, the Vernon Town Council has decided that the town's recycling center will no longer be funded because it is a blight on the landscape and a waste of public money.
Councilman Howard Burrell, citing the Church St. facility's unaesthetic appearance, launched the discussion.
TC members John O'Connor and Myrtle Hanke agreed that the location and condition of the center had become a problem. The spectre of out-of-towners sneaking in to use the Vernon facility was raised. The three council members then voted to cut off the municipal funds ($65K)previously budgeted for the public recycling center.
The vote reflects a belief that most Vernon residents have no use for the public recycling center. As evidence, John O'Connor pointed out that he pays a private carter for curbside pickup of recyclable trash.
TC members Dan Kadish and Jim Kilby cast the dissenting votes. Both said they were not at all persuaded that eliminating the recycling center was responsive to taxpayer concerns. Fatal Ski Accident at Mountain Creek
2/15/99 A 12-yr-old Connecticut girl died earlier today of injuries incurred when she accidentally skied off a Mountain Creek trail and into the trees and rocks.
Police identified the victim as Laura Cournoyer, a resident of Seymour, Conn. She suffered head and chest trauma when she crashed into the rocks after sliding off Great Northern Square, an advanced slope on Vernon Peak. The ski patrol found her at appx. 3:15 PM and she was airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital in Paterson, NJ where she was pronounced dead at 4:55 PM.
Mountain Creek Development Plan Taking Shape
2/10/99 At a meeting yesterday, IntraWest/Mountain Creek gave members of the Vernon Environmental Committee a further glimpse of appx. 2,000 townhouses/condos/duplexes/shops planned for the resort's Hamburg Mountain property. Plans include a golf course, the lowering of Rt.94 to accomodate a bridge and crosswalk, and the construction of Intrawest's specialty - a European Village.
IntraWestVernon - How It All Began
Those who have just arrived in Vernon may be interested in these past news items:Intrawest Acquires N.J. Ski Resort
Abstracted from Toronto Globe & Mail, 02/10/98
Intrawest Corp. (Vancouver) is acquiring a year-round ski and recreation business in Vernon Valley/Great Gorge, NJ, from unidentified sellers for undisclosed terms. The Vernon Valley/Great Gorge ski area measures 445 hectares and includes the Vernon Valley, Great Gorge South and Great Gorge North peaks. The area had an average of 300,000 skiers visits annually between 1992 and 1996. Intrawest will expand the ski facilities, add a 27-hole golf course and likely build one of its trademark villages. The land covered by the deal has the potential for more than 1,000 resort homes and approvals to develop 300 rental cabins. Intrawest's portfolio include resorts such as Blackcomb and Whistler in British Columbia and Mont Tremblant in Quebec. It also own resorts in Colorado, West Virginia, Vermont and California. The New Jersey deal is part of Intrawest's strategy of acquiring so-called "feeder resorts," which are smaller properties near densely-populated urban centers..
For Ski Resorts, Gold in Them Thar Hills Is Real Estate
Abstracted from The Wall Street Journal, 07/29/98
Ski resort firms like American Skiing Co (Bethel, ME) and Intrawest Corp (Vancouver, Canada) are increasing their revenues by selling real estate. In 1997, Intrawest earned $121.3 mil from its real-estate operations. In 3/98, its Cooper Mountain (Colorado) sold 108 mountainside homes for $33 mil. It plans to build up to 1,100 additional dwellings over the next ten years.
Vernon TC Stands Up To SCMUA "Investment Charge" Hustle
On Feb. 8, the Vernon TC unanimously voted to oppose a new county plan to raid the municipal tills.
The plan calls for Vernon and the county's 24 other towns to pay off the Sussex County Municipal Authority's $45 million debt. If this countywide charge is imposed, Vernon will have to fork over $615,537.00, which translates into higher property taxes.
Last November, the voters of NJ approved a state taxpayer-funded bailout of the "stranded debts" (total appx. $2.6 Billion) accumulated by NJ's county-run landfills/incinerators, all of whom lost big when their state-mandated monopolistic control of the garbage disposal biz was ruled unconstitutional.
More accurately, taxpayers bailed out Wall St. investors who gambled on county-run landfill operations and lost. Among these ill-starred ventures was the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCMUA), whose debt was in the neighborhood of $47 million at the time.
Now SCMUA has proposed a municipal "environmental investment charge" to be levied by the County, and it appears that taxpayers in Sussex County's municipalities may be expected to pay off SCMUA's debt regardless of state bailout funding.
COURT NIXES WOLF PAW APPEAL
Are Mulvihill And Partners Victims Of A "TAKING?"
2/5/99 The NJ State Courts Appellate Division upheld the NJ Dept. Of Environmental Protection's 1995 decision to nix the development of an 18-hole golf course (Wolf Paw) off Route 94/DeKay Road in Vernon.
Wolf Paw Joint Venture, headed by developer Eugene Mulvihill, sued the NJDEP in 1995 for not exempting the development from state and federal wetlands regulations.
Lawyers for the Mulvihill group noted that the golf course plan had been approved in 1987 before the enviro-laws took effect, and that the developers had been yo-yo'd by the DEP - which, they said, gave Wolf Paw the exemptions in 1993 but rescinded them in 1995.
Wolf Paw's attorney Alfred Porro Jr. warned that he would advise his clients (Mulvihill et.al.) to sue the state for "taking" the land without compensation, presumably a reference to the TAKING clause of the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment (... "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation").
This expanded use of the taking clause is based on an interpretation, favored by the "property rights movement," that all property owners have a sovereign right to do as they like with their property, and that the imposition of gov't regulations to protect the environment, public health, etc. constitute an arbitrary and unjust appropriation by the gov't - a taking - for which the owner must be compensated from the public treasury.
Opponents of this interpretation contend that no landowner is a sovereign state, immune from public regulations, and that no U.S. landowner has ever had a constitutional right to harm his neighbors' property or persons, or to ignore laws created in the public interest.Mayor To VPD: WHATZUP?
Property owners, planners, environmentalists and folks generally interested in the "takings" issue might want to get this book:
Takings : Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain by Richard A. Epstein. This book provided much of the impetus for the "property rights movement" which began in the 1980's.
2/4/99 Vernon Mayor Jim Kilby wants the town's Police Department to keep the public more informed re: "what's going on" with reported crimes/arrests etc. The mayor's statements were prompted by lack of police reports concerning an underage drinking incident at Legends Resort last month. Vernon PD officials said that they had recently received public disclosure guidelines from Sussex County Prosecutor Dolores Blackburn and were setting up procedures accordingly.
There have been no arrests in connection with the Legends Hotel drinking incident, which took place on Jan 17 or 18 and allegedly involved 10 or 12 VTHS students.
And the public might like the mayor to disclose what's going on with the proposed Lake Panorama location of that police radio tower. After a year of indecision, the town council now discusses this issue behind closed doors in "executive sessions" - whatzup with that?
3% Increase in NJSchoolBucks for Vernon
For the '98-99 school year, Vernon got $24,186,178.00 in state aid.
This school year ('99-'00)Vernon is slated to get $24,918,219.00 in state aid, a mere 3% increase.
Nobody knows how the NJ Dept. of Education decides how much each school district will get.
Many NJ school administrators are muttering about their own districts' paltry increases while others, whose districts got huge hikes in aid, are dancing in the streets.
One Vernon school administrator said the 3% increase wasn't enough to cover salary hikes in this district.
Downtown Water Contamination CleanUpdate
1/22 Measures to control the plume of chemical fuel additive MTBE, released into the downtown Vernon water supply ten years ago (underground Mobil station tank leak), now include the use of an "air flusher" meant to move the MTBE out of the aquifer and into the air. Vernon Health Dept. sources said that carbon filtration systems on wells in the contaminated zone were still required, and that the Burger King well is to be tested once it goes online to determine what kind of filtration, if any, will be in order.
NJ Energy De-Reg Law Hits A Snag: Details, Details...
1/13/98 Back in Nov. of last year, the Vernon T C was briefed by an outside consultant re: the expected deregulation of electricity and natural gas companies, bill pending in Trenton. No doubt there were similar consultant pitches in many towns all across the Garden State.
Among other things, the proposed energy deregulation would make it possible for NJ municipalities to act as "utilities without investment," even combining with other towns to buy energy wholesale from power suppliers.
Gov. Whitman wanted the energy deregulation bill to become law by the end of 1998. So far, no dice.
This very complex NJ law is being promoted as a gateway to cheap energy, rate cuts and consumer benefits. But problems have surfaced in the NJ Legislature this week re: details of the plan, specifically the part that sets up municipal pols to become utility-buying wheelerdealers.
The Senate version of the bill allows towns to pass ordinances whereby residents automatically get whatever power suppliers the municipality selects on their behalf.
The Assembly version requires towns to put the issue to residents for a vote (referendum).
Meanwhile, some legislators were heard to say that the bill gave blue-chip utility companies too much control over NJ consumers. These companies would be able to refinance billions of dollars in long-term debt because the bill evidently sets NJ consumers up (whether it's their own power supplier or not) to pay off the newly refinanced loans. That way, the big utilities won't suffer.
After much legislative dithering this week, the original Senate bill was thrown back in the hopper for the Jan.28 voting session of the Assembly.
Smart money is on the passage of this law. Like they say on Wall St., "Privatize the Gains,Socialize the Losses."
Bill passed 1/28/99.
TC Votes Up '99 Board Appointees : O'Connor, Burrell Irked
Town Council members John O'Connor and Howard Burrell, who complain that they don't get any respect from their fellow pols on the TC, were evidently sore about the way appointments were made to the town boards this month. Both said they were left out of the process. Not so, said the majority.
Here's who the TC appointed to various town boards:Zoning Board: Chris Fuehrer, Jack Smith, Michael Redmond
Planning Board: Helen Carew, Arlene Holbert, George Chintala
Environmental Commission: Diane Suter, Elaine Rettig, Suzanne Ginhart
Historic Preservation committee: Rick Paterson, Judith Good, Chris Hanke, Emily Dupont, Peter Martin
Cable TV Oversight committee: John Bryant, Meredith Stengel
Lawyers On The Move
Donald Ross, who has been the township's attorney for the Vernon Planning Board for 8 years, has been hired by Mountain Creek as Vice President of Real Estate Development.
Ex- town attorney William Fitzgibbons has filed an appeal of the state judge's decision that the town erred in granting a hotel liquor license to The Spa.
ECO-REPORT, CONSULTANTS DISSED BY MOUNTAIN CREEK BOSS
12/27/98 Mountain Creek president Robin Smith gave bad marks to theHamburg Mountain report done by Wander Ecological Consultants, a Newton company hired to study the effects of resort development/new ski trails upon the mountain's forest environment.
In particular Smith disagreed with the Wanders' finding of many soil erosion /sedimentation control deficiencies. He pointed out that, since day one, MC's methods of controlling these elements had been approved, regularly inspected and rubber stamped to the max by all gov't authorities on the case.
Smith said he was also dubious re: the Wanders' expertise in soil erosion control planning because they are botanists and biologists, not engineers.
The Wanders were chosen on the recommendation of the town's Environmental Committee, and with Intrawest's assent, to conduct the independent study. Their report was discussed at the EC meeting on Dec.24.
It would appear that, whatever the Environmental Committee thinks of the report, MC's own experts do not share the Wanders' views and find no legitimate reason to alter the resort's existing plans.
Is there anyone in Vernon who didn't see this coming?
12/22/98 First Snow Flurries
At around noon today a soft rain briefly turned into - dare we say it - snow, in Vernon Twp.'s higher elevations.
JUDGE SAYS ARLENE HOLBERT WAS RIGHT
12/16/98 Back in 1996 the Vernon Township Committee granted a hotel liquor license to The Spa at Great Gorge.
Former committee member Arlene Holbert said the committee had to conduct public hearings re: the Spa license, which they didn't, whereupon the case of Arlene Holbert vs. Stonehill Recreation Corp (owners of the Spa) and the Vernon Township Committee was set in motion. Holbert was not a member of the township committee at the time.
NJ Administrative Law Judge Irene Jones has now ruled that Arlene Holbert was right about the mandate to conduct public hearings on the matter. According to Vernon Township Attorney Brian Laddey , it is likely that the Spa's hotel liquor license application will now be sent back to the TC for consideration.
Factual issues still hanging fire: (a) possible conflict of interest on the part of then-Township Committee member Ralph Carnissecchi, who voted in favor of the hotel liquor license for the Spa and who owned a Stonehill condo at the time , and (b) whether or not the Spa technically qualifies as a hotel . BTW Ralph Carnissecchi said the twp.attorneys assured him that his voting on the Spa license application was kosher.
The judge threw out: (a) Holbert's argument that Township Committee member Howard Burrell may also have had a Stonehill-related (political campaign stuff) conflict of interest , and (b) Holbert's argument that the licensing was questionable given the bankruptcy of Great American Recreation, Stonehill's parent company, at the time.
12/14/98 Snow-blowing at Vernon's ski centers commenced tonight.
Mtn. Creek Soil Erosion Control Plan: Vernon EnviroCom Urges Closer Look
A fed/state approved and monitored soil erosion control plan has been in place during Mtn. Creek ski slope construction but, before snowmaking and actual skiing begins, the town Environmental Committee is asking the Planning Board to require a more thorough Mtn. Creek soil erosion control plan. The EC is concerned re: possible enviro-consequences of torrential post-season washouts (melted snow) down the ski trails.
Mountain Creek Property To Be EcoScrutinized
12/2/98 It is expected that Intrawest will foot the bill for a full-scale natural resources inventory of its Mountain Creek property, 1200 acres on Hamburg Mtn. At the request of Intrawest engineer John Lehman, Wade and Sharon Wander (Wander Ecological Consultants) have submitted a proposal to conduct the study - endangered species, wetlands, headwaters, rare habitats, etc. - at an estimated cost of $30-40,000. The Wanders, whose work is esteemed by the town's Environmental Committee, conducted a less intensive study earlier this year. That study was also funded by Intrawest, whose own consultants did environmental studies relative to the new ski trails.
Environmental Committee misgivings persist re: control of soil erosion stemming from this year's new ski trail construction. U.S. and township engineers are monitoring the resort's compliance with an approved soil erosion/sedimentation control plan.
KINDER, GENTLER DEVELOPERS
At the IntrawestVernon meeting on 11/25/98 , those in attendance were again reassured that the resort's planned 2000+ housing units (condos, vacation homes and mountain cabins) will not be residential dwellings. The resort also foresees building 100 stores and restaurants and an ice-skating rink. Studies will be undertaken re: water use, environmental impact, changing the course of Rt. 94, etc. It is anticipated that the makeover will span 15 years, but some construction may begin in about a year.
Vernon residents are trying to imagine how this enormous transformation will affect their lives. What's your opinion, VWeb subscribers? Read your neighbors' views on eVoice.
…MEANWHILE, AT THE HOTEL…
11/25/98 Legends Resort and Country Club on Rt. 517 in McAfee, now owned by Metairie Corp., has proposed an initial plan to combine appx. 50 existing hotel rooms into suites, which will be more attractive to its time-share buyers. The hotel contains 615 hotel-room condo units. The Vernon zoning Board is studying the time share proposal in general. Meanwhile, town officials expressed some uneasiness re: the possibility of eventual year-round residential housing , but the hotel's owners say No Worries, it'll only be for time shares.
SEWER SWEEPSTAKES BEGIN IN EARNEST
11/25/98 Six firms have thrown their hats in the ring to become Vernon's sewer consultants, and the winner may be announced at the Dec. 14 Town Council meeting. The TC has hired Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority engineers to do an analysis of the town's wastewater needs. Both Mountain Creek and the A&P have indicated willingness to defray costs of the study.
Intrawest Imparts Its Vision to Vernon
11/10/98 About 150 people showed up at the Municipal bldg. last night to hear Intrawest, owners of Mountain Creek, give a public presentation of various future improvements contemplated by the ski center. Possible developments might include the building of a village - townhouses on top of stores and restaurants - and might also include remapping /diverting a stretch of Rt. 94 where it cuts through Intrawest property, an idea the resort owners have already made known to the NJDOT.
11/22/98 Creation of an underground tunnel to run Rt. 94 beneath that main stretch of resort-owned land, perhaps? Potential for appx. 2000 resort housing units? Next Intrawest Vernon meeting will be Nov. 24, 7:30 PM, Municipal Bldg.
At their Monday Nov. 16 work session, the Vernon T C got a first briefing (courtesy Onsite Sycom consultants) re: the expected deregulation of electricity and natural gas companies, bill pending in Trenton.
Among other things, the proposed NJ energy deregulation will make it possible for municipalities to act as "utilities without investment," possibly combining with other towns to buy energy wholesale from power suppliers. Gov. Whitman wants the energy deregulation bill to become law by the end of this year.
Further discussion, which will presumably examine the possible impact on individual consumers, is slated for later this month. The TC will decide whether or not to hire a consultant to advise the town in this matter.
Savings and Loans deregulation, telephone company deregulation, cable companies' deregulation -
by now, the prospect of any "deregulation" sends icy fingers of fear up and down consumers' spines
Two children die in Highland Lakes fire
(11/5/98) A house fire claimed the lives of Devin Sych, age 4, and Frank Sych, age 3 years, in Highland Lakes last night. Alert neighbors on Pohatcong Road reported the fire at appx. 10:00PM, and area firefighters /ambulance squads /police raced to the scene, where they found that the house was already fully involved. The boys' mother, Eunice Muller, 26,and her boyfriend, John Freda,24, survived the blaze and intense heat, but all heroic efforts to revive the two children were unavailing. Investigators identified a faulty chimney pipe as the cause of the quickly spreading fire. For unknown reasons, the two smoke detectors installed in the house did not go off. The family dog, Midnight, who barked to awaken the household, also perished in the fire.
The family were newcomers to Vernon, having moved here in August of this year.
November 3 NJ Ballot: Bonds ‘R’ Us
See [Past News], Bonds/Bailouts - On this November’s ballot, NJ voters were asked to decide whether or not to bail out ($1.3 Billion debt) county-run garbage dumps/incinerators statewide. More accurately, taxpayers were asked to bail out Wall St. investors who gambled on county-run landfill monopolies (now ruled unconstitutional) and lost. PASSED
Voters were also asked to decide whether or not to invest $1.85 Billion over the next 10 years to preserve open space, historic sites and farmland statewide. PASSED
O BRAVE NEW DMV
New Jersey drivers will have digital (bar coded) licenses if the State Assembly votes up a law proposed last week, but some folks are concerned that a BigBrotherly “smart card” license is still waiting in the weeds. The original driver’s license remake, proposed in July by Assemblyman Guy R. Gregg , featured a microchip which would have contained way too much personal data for comfort. Its critics feared it would lead to a BigTime Invasion of Privacy. As a result of widespread objections to the “smart card” license, Gregg withdrew his original bill in favor of a new measure - the digital license. DMV executive director Dick Kamin supports the digital (including digital photo) license, renewable every ten years, and expects that it will reduce fraud and/or mistakes in transcribing license data. The new licenses will be issued starting Jan. 2000. Forty-two other states already use a similar digital system. Although it is vigorously opposed by conservatives and civil libertarians alike, Gregg said that in the not-too-distant future he hopes NJ lawmakers will revisit the “smart card” license proposal.
Ten-year digital license card bill PASSED 1/28/99
Speaking of Bonds...
10/27 The Vernon TC plans to transfer $3.6 million of the town’s existing bond/debt obligations into newly issued bonds at a lower interest rate, a move which is expected to save the town appx. $200K next year. The re-financed obligations are to include $1.1 million in final payments of tax appeals. This outburst of fiduciary responsibility comes at the urging of Vernon's auditor, Charles Ferraioli (Ferraioli, Wielkotz, Cerullo &Cuva of Pompton Lakes). The proposed bond maneuver will be submitted to the Local Finance Board for approval.
PD Radio Towers In The Home Stretch?
Installation of new towers to correct Vernon PD’s dysfunctional radio communications system may soon come about, provided Town Council members act decisively sometime soon.
Controversy re: proposed tower locations in the Lake Panorama area has forestalled construction of the three-tower system, which cannot proceed until the exact situation of each tower is certain. The matter has been on the TC’s agenda since early summer.
Yet another proposed site, location undisclosed, was to be explored by the TC last month in hopes of finally settling the matter. Informed sources said it was doubtful that this latest site would be Your Race Winner, and that one of the earlier sites would probably be selected after all.
1/25/99 Undisclosed site for tower discussed by TC in executive session
Developers to Vernon: See You In Court
Joyco LLC and Seasons Investment Corp. are suing the township because the Vernon Zoning Board revoked their approvals to contruct 674 dwellings down in the Valley.
The approval to construct the subdivision was originally given in 1989 and has since been extended over and over again, and in May 1998 the ZB dismissed the final site plan application plus all prior approvals in the parcel's file. The developers argue that this wipeout was arbitrary and unlawful on many levels.
Vernon PD : too many bosses, dangerously dysfunctional radios, Black Screen of Death on their computer system never reported to town officials, and now ....
Why Get BulletProof Vests For Free When You Can Pay For Them?
(9/8/98) In NJ, $1.00 from every motor vehicle fine goes into a fund (Body Armor Replacement Fund) which was created to equip municipal police departments with new or replacement vests. To receive the funds, town police and other law enforcement agencies had only to fill out and send in a 2-page application.
NJ Attorney General Peter Verniero said that every eligible town police dept. statewide received the purposely simplified application plus letters and notices about the program. Those who sent in their applications, as did the Sussex County Sheriff's Office, received thousands of dollars last week.
This state fund will spare many officers the considerable cost of buying their own vests, and others will no longer have to depend on donations of vests from local merchants or clubs.
Vernon PD was one of 44 eligible agencies that did not apply for the money.
Next chance to get these funds for police vests, which retail @ appx. $500. each, will be Sept. 1999.
(9/15/98) Vernon MegaManager M. Stengel announced that VernonPD operations
will be reviewed - in January 1999 - by the state's Div. of Criminal Justice.
Downtown Sewer Planning Underway
The Vernon Town Council , evidently persuaded that creation of a multimillion dollar sewer system is possible at no cost to taxpayers, has given its rubber stamp of approval to the concept of a user-financed downtown sewer.
Privately funded initial construction also means there will be little or no chance of a public referendum on the sewer question. It is not clear whether or not the costs of ongoing system maintenance, expansion and future remediation are also expected to be borne 100% by downtown users.
Vernon MegaManager Meredith Stengel will now study the various sewer construction proposals. Besides Ralph Carnissecchi’s plan (see Past News) three plans have been advanced, two centering on SCMUA treatment (effluent dumped into Walkill River) and one based on construction of a new Vernon wastewater treatment plant.
Most favored of the plans appears to be the construction of a Vernon plant which would discharge sewer effluent back into the local earth instead of depleting the town water supply.
Be that as it may, the recently amended township wastewater management plan featuring the SCMUA connection has been submitted to the Freeholders, who are slated to vote on it Oct.14. If approved, the plan will be forwarded to the state for final rubber stamp of approval.
LOCK IT AND POCKET THE KEY
It appears that on Sat. night, Aug.22, half a dozen cars in various sections of the township were stolen.
On Sunday a group of hikers were surprised to come upon a heavily trashed mini-van when they entered a forest road off Route 638 in Highland Lakes. It was learned from responding Vernon police officers that the vehicle had been reported stolen the night before.
According to the hikers, the officers allowed as to how “six or seven” cars had been hijacked and/or wrecked in a similar manner, joyriders suspected.
"Secret Meeting" Case Closed
Sussex Cty. Prosecutor Dolores Blackburn didn't find anything legally wrong with the Vernon TownCouncil's May 27 un-public not-really-a-meeting meeting, and Blackburn's letter to that effect was made public at a TC public meeting on Aug.24.
The "secret meeting" flap arose when someone snitched on the TC's May 27 members-only get-together (100% of the TC in attendance), held presumably for the sole purpose of dumping then-administrator Richard Sheola.
Q: What Early American Colonial Relic MUST BE TORN DOWN as soon as possible?
Carnissecchi Floats Sewer Plan For Vernon
(8/11/98) Vernon’s ex-Mayor , businessman Ralph Carnissecchi, has launched a pre-emptive strike in the downtown commercial sewer competition. He has offered to foot the bill for construction of a sewer pipeline starting at the A&P and connecting to the existing sewer lines which now end at the outskirts of Mountain Creek Park.
Carnissecchi’s plan is roughly as follows: he would undertake the cost of initial pipeline construction, get all the hookup fees and user fees thereafter from local businesses who connect to the sewer line, and Vernon taxpayers would get the pipeline itself and thus responsibility for its maintenance and remediation. The idea is that the town would not have to pay for initial construction.
Many of the plan's details have not been announced. Although the Town Council has agreed to review the plan, TC member and downtown sewer advocate Howard Burrell said "it's by no means a 'done deal'."
Highly placed sources said that Carnissecchi’s plan got the jump on downtown commercial interests who are working up a similar we-build-you-keep scenario, but one which might involve construction of a municipal treatment plant independent of Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority water gallonage allocations.
It is estimated that a sewer for the town center’s businesses will require 50,000gallons perday. Carnissecchi recently purchased a 70,000 gallons per day SCMUA allocation which, according to his plan, would make him the supplier to downtown Vernon sewer users. Evidently they would continue to pay him, not the town, for use of the water once the pipeline was turned over to the municipality. The rest of the SCMUA gallonage per day allocation for Vernon is owned by Great American Recreation.
This or similar privately funded sewer construction plans, if acceptable to the Town Council, would serve to avoid a public referendum on the Sewer Question.
Tax Dollars To Help Pave The Way for Bigger, Better Biz Investment in NJ Towns
(8/7/98) A program using taxpayer $$ to finance gov’t loans for municipal “support services,”
( parking lots, property acquisitions, etc.)to boost commercial expansion was approved by the NJ legislature last week.
If Gov. W signs this legislation, municipalities can arrange for these new &improved loans, provided by the state Economic Development Authority, to support the developmental purposes of existing local businesses & to attract new commercial ratables.
The EDA program has existed for some time but will go into higher gear once this bill , which formally sets up a revolving loan fund, is signed into law.
What’s Up With The Water Downtown?
(7/98) In 1990 it was discovered that the downtown Mobil Station’s gasoline storage tanks were discharging unacceptable levels of several contaminants into central Vernon’s water supply.
The fast-spreading plume of Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE), a chemical fuel additive and suspected human carcinogen, was the worst aspect of the underground leak.
It still is. Last year, dissatisfied at the glacial pace of Mobil Corp.’s “remediation action workplan,” the NJDEP’s Bureau of Underground Storage Tanks (BUST) served notice of an enforcement action which is presently in effect. Meanwhile, drinking water wells in the contaminated area (downgradient of Rte.515/94) continue to rely on carbon filtration and are supposed to be monitored regularly.
New businesses in the contaminated zone, which may encompass areas outside the 515/94 grid to points beyond the Municipal Building, will have to install and maintain similar or more extensive filtration systems and undergo similar monitoring, local health officials said.
Recently identified problems with Mobil’s latest remediation plan may bode ill for any thorough tracking (it is universally agreed that containment of an MTBE plume is out of the question).
MTBE does not degrade over time. It remains as an active soil and water contaminant for 5,000 to 1 million yrs. In California, wells having 35 parts per billion of MTBE in the water have been shut down. In Vernon, some downtown water samples showed 650 parts per billion in 1997.
Paper re: MTBE presented to the American Chemical Society - worth a look.
Where groundwater contamination is concerned, the solution is always compromise.
What do you think, VWeb correspondents? The unacceptable health risk levels(70 ppb) standard is based on a lifetime of constant exposure. If MTBE didn't make water smell & taste bad even at low concentrations, would anybody really care?
Read your neighbors' opinions on eVoice.
State Pols to Vote re:$1B for OpenSpace/Farmland/Historic Preservation
On July 30 the NJ Senate & Assembly are slated to vote on a proposed state constitutional amendment which will dedicate $98 million a year ($1.85 Billion over 10 yrs.) to a farmland/openspace/historical resources trust fund. The bills to be voted on are SCR 66 (in the Senate) and ACR 109 (in the Assembly).
(7/31/98) Both bills voted up, question will be put to voters in November. So will the bailout of county-run utilities.
Disquieting News For NBSC & Patrons?
Vernon2000 has distributed a map of the proposed Loop Road in the center of the proposed Vernon Town Square. Evidently the National Bank of Sussex County has not seen this map. In a town with several banks, NBSC may be at somewhat of a disadvantage if they (and the other businesses in that building on Guthrie Road) are inaccessible from Rte. 515.
Of course we could be missing something - thanks to an irresponsible Vweb staffer who spilled coffee on the map - but it looks like folks coming down to Vernon on Rt 515 will have to drive on past Guthrie Rd. and continue to the traffic light, make a left, go down and make another left onto the Loop Road, and then proceed south to Guthrie Rd. where they can cross over to the NBSC parking lot.
NBSC sources declined to comment until they could look into the matter further.
Police Radios Fail, Criminals "Get Over" on Vernon Patrolmen
(7/12/98) On 7-12-98 Two Vernon Twsp Police officers were attempting to arrest a person at Mountain Creek Park. The two officers frantically called on their police radios for backup, but were never heard.
Finally, surrounded by a hostile and unruly crowd of fifty to sixty persons, the officers were forced to let the subject go.
The Police officers were attempting to make a drug arrest.
Vernon PD’s dysfunctional radio communication system continues to put Vernon’s police officers in danger. Officers in need of assistance at a crime scene should not have to pray that some kindly civilian phones the police station in time. No such help was given in the above incident.
It goes without saying that police officers are not the only ones in danger under these conditions.
As it is, lacking public information & press releases about police activity in the town, Vernon residents can have no idea of the demands placed on the handful of patrol officers per tour in VPD, the most active police dept. in the county.
Borderland Farms Safe From Developers - NJ/NY Taxpayers "Buy The Farm"
The farm owner's development rights, that is.
(7/8/98) This week Borderland Farms, Vernon/Warwick home of Winslow Therapeutic Riding Academy, got a thumbs-up for half a million dollars combined in state & county Farmland Preservation program funds from NJ and NY.
These programs use taxpayer dollars to buy development rights from farmers, who might otherwise sell out to developers.
Governor Whitman gave a check for more than three-quarters of a million dollars to the Sussex County Board of Agricultural Development, the state's share of taxpayer funds which will reportedly be parceled out to preserve three other Sussex County farms besides Borderland.
The NJ legislature is pondering whether or not to include a proposition on the November ballot which, if passed, would set aside $1 Billion over the next ten years for farm/open land preservation purposes.
USDA subsidies & county USDA officials & committees, Farmers Home Administration, Farmland Tax Assessments, Farmland Preservation Programs, who gets the $$, who decides - DON’T GO THERE. The sacred cows are not all in the streets of Calcutta.
TC Budget Hubbub Over Police OT
(7/98) The Vernon Township Council’s knickers are in a twist over the PD’s $130,000. overtime tab last year [comments and observations reportedly uttered by TC members re: this budget item are too scary to quote online]. Vernon PD Chief Johnson has recommended hiring a few more police officers instead of continuing to pay beaucoup OT, but it remains to be seen whether or not professional police administration is any match for political (zero-increase) budget anxiety.
Would two more police salaries w/ pensions & benefits torpedo the budget? BTW, Nobody gets excited when consultants soak up tens of thousands of tax dollars, but when a working stiff gets OT there's righteous indignation all over the place.
Vernon TC Adopts '98 MuniBudget
(7/6/98) The Vernon TC voted up a municipal budget of $14 million, no property tax increase required. School and county taxes not included in this no-increase taxpayer forecast.
Our Town Urgently Needs More Firefighting & Ambulance Volunteers
Beware the Purple Loosestrife
(5/98) Recognize this plant? It is Purple Loosestrife, Lythrum salcaria, and where it grows everything else disappears.
It can grow 10 feet high and a single stalk produces 300,000 seeds per stalk. It chokes out all indegenous plant life, impedes water flow, and drives away local waterfowl/spawning fish/butterflies/songbirds etc. by killing off their natural food and cover.
It has no natural predators in North America because no wetlands/woodlands creatures or birds will eat it.
Researchers at Cornell have concluded that there is no effective method of controlling Purple Loosestrife except to rip it out root and all before it spreads its seeds in August, or to unleash European loosestrife-eating bugs.
This plant cost North American agriculture over $40 million (lost cropland/meadowland, remediation) last year . In our area, wetlands and lakeshores are at risk of being completely trashed by this plant.
LOOK OUT FOR THAT SNAKE
(6/98) Yes, on top of everything else in Vernon backyards, the snake population - particularly (click & see) Northern Water Snakes - is booming this year.
Northern Water Snakes are not poisonous, but their bite is very sharp and will cause painful swelling. They will strike if threatened, so keep away. The NJ Poison Control Center advises everyone to go straight to the ER for any snake bite, poisonous or not, because at the very least a Tetanus shot will most likely be in order.
Maybe they should call it LYMErix 1.0 Beta
Read more about Lyme Disease In Our Area
(6/98) The FDA has approved SmithKlineBeecham’s LYMErix vaccine for sale in the U.S.
It appears that a variety of unknowns and glitches in the product will be worked out after its debut in the marketplace. Among these “bugs” are: confusion over the recommended number & frequency of booster shots, serious misgivings about the effect on people who already have Lyme Disease or other chronic illnesses, dissatisfaction over the length of time needed to build immunity to Lyme infection, and a lack of pediatric studies - LYMErix is only for people over 15 years old.
SKB is in a race for top market position with Pasteur Merrieux Connaught’s Immulyme, which has completed phase III trials. SKB conducted a 20-month clinical trial using 10,936 human subjects ages 15 - 70.
Dr. Patricia Ferrieri of the University of Minnesota, who chaired the FDA advisory panel, summarized the committee's sentiment: "It's rare that a vaccine be voted on with such ambivalence and a stack of provisos."
VERNON TOWN GARDEN
THIS JUST IN ... "The Vernon Town Garden is completed, and the project's volunteer organizers are looking for any interested groups or individuals who are interested in land plots to display a garden...anyone (even businesses - good advertising!) can have a garden spot, not just clubs, and it has nothing to do with town politics. The entire project is an Eagle Scout community service to better the town center and show off Vernon's talent at gardens. Once it's completed the project originators have no other involvement in what goes into it, only the people with spots in the garden do.
The site is located within the Town Center near the Police Department. Please Email with any questions or a request for land. Hurry, space is limited."
Sounds like a great opportunity for local gardeners to help beautify the town!
More on the 3 New Police Radio Towers Slated for Vernon
(6/98) The range and clarity of Vernon PD radio communications will improve soon as a result of 3 new towers - one in the Lake Panorama area, one on Canistear Road near the Cherry Ridge Range, and one (replacing an older tower) in Highland Lakes. Officials assure residents that these new towers are not microwave transmitters.
Township officials were sent back to the drawing board by Lake Panorama residents who objected to the proposed location of a 100 ft. tower next to their homes. A new site for the tower will be found.
When you've read the news, go to Dr. E's news (p)articles!
These Bears Are No Picnic
A seige mentality is developing in Wawayanda Mountain territory, with more and more bears rampant amongst the legion of raccoons, skunks and opossums thereabouts. Even folks who are accustomed to the bears are nervous this year. True, bears have never killed anyone in NJ, but in the past decade they HAVE smacked a few people around (23 last year) and killed pet animals .
Besides critter-proofing their backyards and garbage cans, all Vernon residents should make sure their pets have been vaccinated against rabies and should notify the Animal Control officers (764-7751) AT ONCE if they spot any raccoons moving around in broad daylight.
SCMUA Bailout To Soak County?
(5/9/98) The Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority(SCMUA) is in hock to the tune of $47 million and, unless a funding miracle occurs, Sussex County taxpayers will have to foot the debt service bill. County officials are in touch with NJ state legislators in hopes of a solution before the manure hits the air conditioner on Dec.1, 1998, when SCMUA's surplus funds run out.
Wait, It Gets Better... The New Jersey Association of Counties wants the state to pay the "stranded debts" (totalling $1.6 BILLION) accumulated by various county-run garbage operations all over NJ. They suggest taking the money from the state's General Fund/Surplus. This way, state taxpayers would not only pay off their own county's tab, but everyone else's, too.
Home Rule seems to be slipping down a notch or two on the agenda lately
Is Vernon, or Sussex County, Ready for Y2K? Is ANYONE?
Some folks haven't given it a thought, but the US CIA has. Read what the Men in Black reportedto the nation - an item that went out on all the news wires.
Lions and Tigers and Bears and Deer
While the Black Bear continues to get very bad press countywide, deer in abundance have taken to grazing on lawns and gardens throughout the Wawayanda Mountain communities. Meanwhile, reports of cougar and wolf sightings have begun trickling in from various quarters surrounding local parklands. Like the coyotes, but unlike area humans, these creatures hunt deer with expert efficiency.
Coming soon: Jersey Devil sightings. ( Why should The Pineys have all the fun?)
LYME Disease Resurgence in Northeast Expected
Ecosystems analysts report that there are strong indications of an increased tick population this spring & summer. For more information go to LYMENET.
One of the earliest confirmed cases of Lyme Disease(outside Lyme, Connecticut itself) in the U.S. was that of Steven Reitano,a NYC resident who contracted it in 1984 while on vacation in Vernon's Great Gorge .
The Superintendent of Wawayanda State Park and several of the park's employees have suffered from Lyme Disease for years.
Diane Decker, a past director of Vernon's Recreation Commission, believed her Lyme Disease was contracted on township ballfields while watching her children's games.
As late as 1996 many local health authorities still said that the risk of Lyme Disease in our area was not great. In that year Dr. Lance Risley, head of the Biology Dept. at William Patterson College, measured the tick infestation in our area and found it to be great indeed.
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY AGAINST THE TICKS. Guidelines are everywhere - please follow them!
New Signs Clear Up Confusion
Delivery drivers and visitors trying to find addresses in Highland Lakes will no longer have to circle endlessly in search of their destinations, thanks to new road signs which leave no doubt about which way to turn.
There are two rules for ultimate success in life:
1. Never tell everything you know.
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