Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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April Recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Board of County Commissioners declared April 2024 National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month at a meeting last week, when Commissioners Director Christine Myers presented a framed proclamation to members of Atlantic Health System’s Behavioral Health Team for their work to provide outreach and support to victims through the Morris County Sexual Assault Center. 

“More than half of all women and nearly one-third of all men in America have experienced sexual violence according to statistics released this year by the White House,” said Myers. “And let’s not forget about the children who are victimized and who many times are nameless. It can happen anywhere, to anyone, and the trauma is life-changing for victims. National Sexual Assault Awareness Month serves as a critical reminder that sexual assault is a serious societal issue that requires collective action and commitment to create a safer world where everyone can feel protected.”

Kerri Bossardet-West, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Manager of Atlantic Behavioral Health, and Sherry Aitchinson, Licensed Professional Counselor of the Morris County Sexual Assault Center at Atlantic Behavioral Health, accepted the proclamation.

“We want to thank the Commissioners for once again acknowledging Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Month,” said Aitchinson. “And to let people know that we are here, and we are available. Our hotline is open 24/7; we don’t want victims to suffer in silence. This is a free service in Morris County, and we want everyone to spread the word.” 

Sexual abuse can happen almost anywhere, whether at work, home, school, or other public places—or even online—to virtually anyone, regardless of geography, race, age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or economic and social background. The trauma of sexual abuse is life-changing for victims and can lead to depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among other physical and emotional impacts.

“We have seen an increase in sexual violence after the pandemic, so your support for the Morris County Sexual Assault Center under Atlantic Health System is very important,” said Bossardet-West. “Thank you for getting the word out that we are here to serve the victims of sexual assault.”

Sherry Aitchinson, Kerri Bossardet-West and Commissioner Directory Myers.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, please call the Atlantic Behavioral Health Sexual Assault Program Hotline: (973) 829-0587. Confidential support and crisis counseling provided by a professional therapist are available around the clock, every day.

Advocates, certified forensic nurses, and specially trained law enforcement investigators of Atlantic Health’s Sexual Assault Response Team are available to address the medical, emotional, and legal needs of survivors 13 years of age and up who are in acute crisis and have been sexually assaulted within five days.

Please visit the Atlantic Behavioral Health website by clicking here for more information on the Morris County Sexual Assault Center.

N.J. Assembly Quietly Votes to End 2% Property Tax Cap for Schools

MORRIS COUNTY — On April 15, the state Assembly passed bill A4161, which assists schools in offsetting their reduced state aid by raising property taxes. The Assembly passed the bill with a 52-20 vote allowing certain school districts, which faced reduced state aid in the past five years (226 districts, around 40% of all districts), to hike property taxes by up to 9.9% without prior voter consent.

The situation worsens as the increase becomes part of the new base, perpetuating the elevated levy. Moreover, schools are prohibited from staff reductions except in cases of enrollment decline and with pre-approval from the Department of Education Commissioner.

In essence, it’s not just a repeal; it’s a dismantling of the 2% cap, alarming residents of New Jersey.

Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26) condemned Democrats for treating the detrimental consequences of their flawed school funding formula as if facing a natural disaster, rather than addressing the issue head-on. He explained how their temporary fix eviscerates a 2010 state law that limited property tax increases to 2% and circumvents the requirement for public approval on significant property tax hikes.

Employers Association of New Jersey Welcomes Christine Myers as New President

MORRIS COUNTY — Employers Association of New Jersey (EANJ) proudly announces the appointment of Christine Myers as its new President, effective March 11, 2024. With a distinguished background in public service, corporate leadership, and community engagement, Myers brings a wealth of experience and a dynamic vision to her role as the fourth president in EANJ’s 108-year history and its first woman president.

Myers’ remarkable career spans various sectors, showcasing her commitment to excellence and innovation. An experienced corporate executive, successful small business owner, presidential appointee, non-profit board member, and elected official, Myers’ extensive experience and proven track record make her an invaluable asset to EANJ and its members.

“The Board of Directors is delighted to welcome Christine Myers as the leader of EANJ,” said Richard Balka, Chair of the EANJ Board.  “With a deep understanding of the needs of New Jersey employers, she resonates with our core mission to help all New Jersey employers to strengthen the relationship between employer and employees while navigating the ever-changing legal and compliance landscape.”

Currently serving as Commissioner Director for 2024 on the Morris County Board of County Commissioners, Myers has spearheaded the implementation of a County Strategic Plan and debt reserve policy, ensuring the long-term prosperity of Morris County. The Board of County Commissioners, with broad powers granted by the state legislature, regulates county property, finances, and affairs.

In 2017, Myers was appointed Regional Advocate at the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration, where she addressed regulatory challenges faced by thousands of business owners, earning widespread recognition for her dedication to the success of small businesses.

Myers’ corporate career began at AT&T, managing critical technology and communication programs for entities such as the U.S. Dept. of State, the White House, and U.S. presidential candidates. She later held executive positions at Lucent Technologies, Avaya and Siemens Enterprise Networks, designing and leading global alliance organizations and delivering innovative solutions for public and private sector clients.

As the co-founder of Madison Park Foods, an award-winning seasoning and spice rub manufacturer, Myers has demonstrated entrepreneurial acumen and a commitment to quality.

“We are thrilled that Christine Myers has agreed to lead us into our next chapter,” said Doreen Anthony, head of the search committee and EANJ board member.  “We were fortunate to have found her thanks to the efforts of DCM Associates.  DCM presented us with several excellent candidates and guided us through each step of the process.  We could not be happier with the outcome”.

In her new role as President of the Employers Association of New Jersey, Myers is committed to advancing the mission of EANJ, driving innovation and growth, and fostering collaboration among members.

“New Jersey’s prosperity hinges on our employers’ success. EANJ provides crucial resources, training, and guidance necessary for employers to thrive in today’s business climate,” said Myers.  “EANJ’s commitment to providing individual guidance to their members is truly amazing. I am excited and honored to lead EANJ and collaborate with the talented staff and dedicated board to expand and extend services to even more employers in New Jersey.”

Employers Association of New Jersey is a non-profit trade association dedicated to helping employers make sound and responsible employment decisions through education, informed discussion, training, and access to benefits plans. With a 108-year history, EANJ continues to drive innovation and growth while fostering collaboration among its members. For more information click here.

Morris County’s K9 Kaboom Takes the Crown in Bark Madness Showdown

MORRIS COUNTY — K9 Kaboom, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office 2024 Bark Madness winner received his reward from Sheriff James M. Gannon at Arthur’s Tavern in Morris Plains.   

K9 Kaboom is a male Labrador Retriever Mix, born on January 2, 2017. He was adopted by the Morris County Sheriff’s Office after his third surrender to the Parsippany Animal Shelter. He is a certified explosives detection canine and a certified search and rescue canine. K9 Kaboom is trained to locate numerous explosive odors and search for missing people.   

In an incredible run through this year’s bracket, K9 Kaboom beat the number one seed and gallantly advanced to the finals.

This true underdog has prevailed to become the regal champion of the people. 

Kaboom’s achievement was capped by lunch with the Sheriff and his handler Det. Christopher Murarik, was able to attend despite being on active orders with the New Jersey National Guard. 

Fame and notoriety seem to come easy to this champion as K9 Kaboom sat patiently and minded his manners during the steak lunch. Special thanks to Arthur’s Tavern for hosting this celebratory event and donating the reward. 

The restaurant was closed at the time of the event, and all health and sanitary conditions were addressed by their staff.  

Important Announcement: Parsippany Board of Education Meeting on April 25

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Board of Education’s next meeting to be held on Thursday, April 25, will be held at Parsippany Hills High School, 20 Rita Drive.

Closed session begins at 5:00 p.m., with regular session beginning at 6:00 p.m.

For the purpose of Public Hearing & Adoption, Student/Staff Awards, Personnel, Award of Bids, Payment of Bills, Transfer of Funds, and General Business Items.

Superintendent’s Bulletin can be found by clicking here.

Action may be taken on these and such other matters that become known following the publication of this notice and included on the agenda.

Parsippany Board of Ed President Criticizes Mayor Barberio’s Impact on School District

PARSIPPANY — At the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, April 11, a unified front voiced dismay and frustration at Mayor Barberio’s reluctance to engage with the governing body regarding district challenges stemming from approved PILOT projects. PILOT, or payment-in-lieu-of-tax incentives, aims to attract developers to Parsippany.

Member Tim Berrios raised the issue during the ‘Unfinished Business’ segment, querying President Andy Choffo on any updates from the Mayor regarding PILOTs. Choffo disclosed no communication, despite public gestures from the Mayor. He recounted the Mayor’s stance on awaiting the town’s state allocation and discussions with Council President Carifi before engaging the Board. Berrios lamented the lack of response, highlighting the absence of PILOT funding in the ‘Simple’ budget presented at the recent Council meeting.

Concerns deepened over the projects’ thirty-year terms, contrasting with other towns’ ten-year agreements. Berrios emphasized the long-term burden on future boards and advocated for alternate dialogue avenues, referencing former Board member Frank Neglia’s unmet promises.

Vice President Susy Golderer emphasized the absence of PILOT funding in the proposed budget, underscoring the strain on Township departments and the looming population surge’s impact on education resources. Alison Cogan stressed the imminent repercussions on schools, advocating for proactive involvement in discussions.

Wendy Wright expressed confidence in staff but questioned resource allocation amidst financial constraints. President Choffo concluded with a final plea for dialogue, warning of Mayor Barberio’s legacy if the issues persist, signaling a resolve to safeguard the district’s interests.

Parsippany-Troy Hills Council Meeting Scheduled for April 16

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, April 16, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will occur in the Council Chambers at 1001 Parsippany Boulevard within the Parsippany Municipal Building.

Formal action may or may not be taken.

Any individual who is a qualified disabled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act may request auxiliary aids such as a sign interpreter or a tape recorder to be used for the meeting. Auxiliary aids must be requested at least 72 hours before the meeting date. Please call (973) 263-4351 to request an auxiliary aid.

Click here for a copy of the agenda.

Click here for the 2024 calendar.

Mayor James Barberio
Council President Paul Carifi, Jr.
Council Vice President Frank Neglia
Councilman Justin Musella
Councilman Matt McGrath
Councilwoman Judy Hernandez

Driver Trapped After Vehicle Rolls Over on Brooklawn Drive and Glencove Road

PARSIPPANY — On Monday, April 8, at approximately 4:50 p.m. Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Officer Caccavale arrived at the scene of an accident on Brooklawn Drive and Glencove Road. It was reported the vehicle rolled over and the driver was trapped.

The Mountain Tabor Volunteer Fire Department, Parsippany Rescue and Recovery Unit, and Par-Troy EMS responded to the scene and the driver was quickly removed and the vehicle was secured.

The driver a 17-year-old Parsippany resident was behind the wheel of a 2013 Toyota Corolla, endeavoring to execute a left turn onto Route 202. However, her path intersected with that of a 2012 Honda Civic, operated by Ms. Dianne Sirignano, 81, resulting in a collision.

Ms. Sirignano stated she was driving on Brooklawn Drive when the other vehicle pulled out and struck her vehicle, causing her to overturn. 

Officer Caccavale’s investigation revealed the teenage driver was traveling west on Brooklawn Drive. Ms. Sirignano was at the stop sign on Glencove Road and Brooklawn Drive when she attempted to make a left turn to travel East on Brooklawn Drive. The front bumper of Ms. Sirignano struck the rear passenger side of the Toyota Corolla. As a result of the impact, the Toyota Corolla spun 180 degrees and left the roadway to the left side. The Toyota Corolla then struck the curb which resulted in the rear tires being suspended off the ground. The Toyota Corolla then struck a utility pole approximately one foot above ground level. The result of this impact caused the vehicle to overturn onto its roof. After impact, Ms. Sirignano continued forward and left the roadway to the left side. Ms. Sirignano then ran over the curb with the front two tires. Ms. Sirignano remained partially off the roadway until the Officer’s arrival.

Ms. Sirignano’s vehicle sustained front-end damage to the front bumper as a result of the impact and damage to the wheels, tires, and undercarriage as a result of the curb impact. The vehicle also had front airbag deployment. 

The Toyota Corolla vehicle sustained damage to the rear passenger side from the impact with Ms. Sirignano’s vehicle. The Toyota Corolla additionally sustained major damage to the roof as a result of being overturned. 

Ms. Dianne Sirignano was transported to Morristown Memorial Hospital with complaints of chest pain.

Both vehicles were towed from the scene by Powdermill Towing.

Ms. Sirignano was issued a summons for failure to yield the right of way (39:4-90).

Parsippany Seminar Tackles Fall Prevention for Seniors

PARSIPPANY — Meera Bajaj, PT, Clinical Director, Professional Physical Therapy, recently delivered a fall prevention seminar to a gathering of senior citizens at the Parsippany Community Center. During the session, Ms. Bajaj covered topics such as identifying fall risk factors, preventative measures, fall screening and assessment, effective strategies for prevention, and the role of Physical Therapy in mitigating falls.

Professional Physical Therapy is located at 333 Littleton Road. For more information click here.

Ms. Bajaj covered topics such as identifying fall risk factors, preventative measures, fall screening and assessment, effective strategies for prevention

Seven Years Strong: Celebrating the Impact of Morris County Sheriff’s Hope One

MORRIS COUNTY — Law enforcement officers and community partners from throughout New Jersey joined Morris County Sheriff James Gannon at Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown Friday for the seventh anniversary of Hope One, the sheriff’s renowned outreach program that has been combating the nation’s opioid crisis.

Click here for more photos.

In his opening remarks, Sheriff Gannon presented a disconcerting question to the audience of more than 200 attendees: “Is there anyone in here who doesn’t know someone who has died from addiction? If so, please raise your hand.”

The crowd remained motionless and silent.

Later, Det. Sgt. First Class Brian Kruzell of the New Jersey State Police Drug Monitoring Initiative (DMI) revealed that more than 100,000 people per year die due to overdose, which equates to approximately 300 people per day nationwide. The relatively positive news shared at the event is the rate has been declining in New Jersey.

With 2,564 deaths in 2023 compared to 2,893 deaths in 2022, the state currently averages a little less than six deaths per day, and Kruzell noted it would be worse in New Jersey if not for programs like Hope One.

Hope One is a mobile outreach unit that travels throughout Morris County offering critical support for persons and families struggling with addiction and mental health.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with the Morris County Department of Human Services, the Mental Health Association, and the Center for Addiction Recovery Education & Success (CARES), staffs the unit with a plainclothes sheriff’s officer, a certified peer recovery specialist and a mental health professional. The team also provides Naloxone (Narcan) education, training, and kits free of charge to family members and friends of those suffering from substance use disorder.

Hope One marks its 7th anniversary with over 46,000 community contacts and over 8,900 people trained in the use of lifesaving Narcan. To date, 151 Narcan kits have been used to save a life.

“There is no secret that across America and beyond, this opioid epidemic was happening, and we wanted to make a difference. So, what do we need to do? We need to focus on the at-risk population, and the second and final piece is bringing services to them. That’s it; it’s not complicated,” said Gannon.

Symposium participants celebrated Hope One’s successes while sharing best practices, ideas, and information about how programs to address the opioid epidemic should be tailored to the communities they serve.

Program speakers included Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director Stephen Shaw and Commissioner Tayfun Selen, Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll, Dr. Sandy Gibson of The College of New Jersey, Det. Sgt. First Class Brian Kruzell of the N.J. State Police DMI, Ret. Captain Felix Pacheco, III, of NJCARES (Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies) and officers from the Hope One and Hope Hub programs. Awards were presented to community support partners from CARES and the Market Street Mission.

The simple model of bringing services to the client has been so effective that the program has been replicated throughout New Jersey. Other Hope One programs have been launched in Atlantic County, Burlington County, Cape May County, Hunterdon County, Monmouth County, Passaic County, and Warren County, as well as the City of Newark.

Through its mobile outreach addiction services, Hope One regularly finds people homeless or on the verge of becoming homeless, or people needing food, medical care, legal advice, and other types of assistance. To address those issues, the Hope Hub program was established in 2021.

Hope Hub is a multidisciplinary panel made up of law enforcement, social services, mental health services, healthcare providers, treatment providers and recovery specialists who support individuals and families struggling in the community. Each week, the Hope Hub panel meets to determine if an individual or family would benefit from various service sectors. Applicable agencies then work together to execute a door knock or intervention.

To date, the Hope Hub program has assisted in more than 500 situations in which individuals or families were at an acutely elevated risk of falling into a crisis. Sheriff’s Officer Chelsea Whiting and Social Case Worker Casey Miller are working with 69 providers to help individuals and families who are struggling in Morris County.

“We have grown used to seeing the Hope One vehicle in our communities, but it was truly a groundbreaking concept and service that is now being adopted across the nation. As public servants, you can’t do any of this without forming partnerships and that is exactly what we have here. Not just the great working relationship among the Sheriff’s Office, the County Commissioner Board, and the Prosecutor’s Office, but the community partnerships that make Hope One a reality,” said Shaw.

Hope One and its members have also been distinguished with various honors and awards. In 2023, Hope One Coordinator Corporal Erica Valvano received the PAARI Leadership Award for her efforts to create and expand non-arrest programs for individuals with substance use disorders.

The Hope One team was also awarded the International Association of Chiefs of Police Michael Shanahan Cooperation in Public and Private Partnership Award in 2019.

To learn more about the Hope One Program, click here.

Operation Take Back: Morris County Steps Up in the Battle Against Drug Abuse

MORRIS COUNTY — “Operation Take Back” is set to occur at various Morris County locations on Saturday, April 27th. This semi-annual event is part of a nationwide effort led by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), where law enforcement agencies collaborate at all levels to facilitate Operation Take Back.

The primary aim of Operation Take Back is to encourage the public to anonymously surrender any unused, unwanted, or expired prescription medications for proper disposal. After the event, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Morris County Sheriff’s Office will gather the collected prescription drugs and dispose of them safely and responsibly.

During the event, satellite collection sites will be operational from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the following Morris County locations:

  • ACME Supermarket, 690 Millbrook Avenue, Randolph
  • Budd Lake Fire Department, 378 Route 46, Budd Lake
  • Flanders Fire Department, 27 Main Street Flanders
  • Shoprite of Greater Morristown, 178 East Hanover Avenue, Cedar Knolls
  • Stop and Shop Supermarket, 245 Littleton Road/US 202, Morris Plains
  • Wegmans, 34 Sylvan Way, Hanover Township

Residents who cannot drop off their medication at these locations can use any other permanent drop box locations nearby, accessible by clicking here.

Fire Lane Pit Stop Results in DUI Arrest for Paterson Man

PARSIPPANY — On Monday, April 1st, around 3:00 p.m., Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Officer Ryan Taylor responded to a call at 200 Baldwin Road regarding a male inside a white Cadillac. Upon arrival, Officer Taylor spotted the vehicle parked in a fire lane.

The driver, later identified as Mr. Adrian Parker, aged 51 from Paterson, was found asleep in the driver’s seat with the keys in hand. Despite efforts to rouse him, Mr. Parker was unresponsive at first and seemed disoriented when he eventually woke. Officer Taylor noted signs of intoxication such as bloodshot eyes, sluggish movements, flushed face, and the smell of alcohol.

After repeated requests, Mr. Parker exited the vehicle, displaying difficulty in maintaining balance and a strong smell of alcohol as he approached Officer Taylor. Field sobriety tests were administered, which Mr. Parker struggled to perform.

Subsequently, Mr. Parker was handcuffed, searched, and placed in the patrol vehicle. Three attempts were made to obtain breath samples for testing, but Mr. Parker failed to produce the required volume each time.

Mr. Parker was charged with several offenses including improper parking in a fire zone, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and refusal to submit to chemical breath tests. He was assigned a court date of May 14th and released to the custody of an adult who completed the necessary paperwork.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, this Defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Special Town Council Budget Meeting – April 10, 2024

PARSIPPANY — The Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council Budget Hearing Meeting was held on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The 2024 Township of Parsippany–Troy Hills Municipal Budget was introduced to the public at the April 16, 2024, Township Council meeting and will be voted on for adoption after the public hearing at the May 21, 2024, Township Council meeting.

The preliminary $89 million budget for 2024 includes a 2.86 percent increase in the municipal tax rate. With the county and school taxes factored in, this would be a 2.78 percent increase. That represents an increase of $6.00 monthly/$72.00 annually for a home assessed at the township average of $313,513.

Click here to download 2024 User Friendly Budget – DRAFT 

5:30 – 5:45 – 2024 Budget Summary – Administration & Finance

5:45 – 6:30 – Police Department

6:30 – 7:15 – Public Works, Parks and Engineering Departments

7:15 – 8:00 – Planning, Zoning and Building Departments

8:00 – 8:30 – Water Department

8:30 – 9:00 – Sewer Department

9:00 – 9:30 – Knoll Utility

Click here to download the agenda.

Mayor James Barberio
Council President Paul Carifi, Jr.
Council Vice President Frank Neglia
Councilman Justin Musella
Councilman Matt McGrath
Councilwoman Judy Hernandez

Memorial Arrangements for Sonia Diaz, Victim of Fatal Accident on Route 46

PARSIPPANY — Sonia Diaz (nee Florian) passed away suddenly on Monday, April 8, 2024, in Parsippany. She was 75.

Born in Santa Marta, Colombia to the late Heriberto Florian and Filadelfa Urango, Sonia immigrated to the United States in 1979, settling in Hudson County. She had lived in West New York, and Florida before returning to New Jersey several years ago to live with her daughters in Bayonne and Parsippany.

A homemaker, Ms. Diaz was a loving mother and grandmother.

She was a member of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bayonne.

Sonia is survived by her four loving children, Endrina Sullivan and her husband, Mark of Redding, CT, Amabilis Dario Fergusson and his wife, Monica of Panama City, Panama, Ninoska Fergusson and her husband, Marcos Zipitria of Parsippany, and Sonia Brown of Bayonne; seven dear siblings, Saul Florian of Englewood, Jorge Florian of Colombia, Marcial Florian of Venezuela, Lady Florian of Colombia, Ledy Florian of Colombia, Heriberto Florian, Jr. of Colombia, and Ligia Lucia Florian of Colombia; and her eight beloved grandchildren, Endora McNeary, Frankie McNeary, Mina Rakel Perez, Nino Fergusson, Lani Brown, Zachary Brown, Brittany Fergusson, and Junior Fergusson.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend the visitation on Saturday, April 13, 2024, 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at S.J. Priola Parsippany Funeral Service, 60 North Beverwyck Road, Lake Hiawatha. Private cremation will follow as per Sonia’s wishes.

Following the visitation, all are welcome to join the family at their home, 540 Vail Road, Parsippany, for food, and refreshments, and to celebrate Sonia’s life.

Morris County Celebrates 31st Annual Partners in Economic Development Awards

MORRIS COUNTY — Morris County’s vibrant economic landscape took center stage once again to honor its champions of growth and innovation at the 31st Annual Partners in Economic Development Awards. Set against the backdrop of Morris County’s thriving business ecosystem, this prestigious event recognizes outstanding efforts and achievements that propel the county’s economic vitality forward.

The Partners in Economic Development Awards, now in its 31st year, served as a testament to the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial drive that define Morris County. Presented by the Morris County Economic Development Corp. in partnership with the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and the Morris County Economic Development Alliance, alongside its Tourism Division, this annual celebration showcases the power of synergy in fostering economic prosperity.

“We are immensely grateful for the steadfast support and visionary leadership of our county commissioners and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce board of directors,” remarked Meghan Hunscher, CEO & President of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corp., “Their unwavering commitment has enabled us to cultivate a thriving ecosystem, driving innovation and creating new opportunities for economic growth throughout Morris County.”

The event featured distinguished keynote speakers Lauren LaRusso, Co-Host City Manager for the N.Y./N.J. World Cup Host Committee for the FIFA World Cup 2026, and Thomas Abdallah, Vice President of Environmental Services and Chief Environmental Engineer at MTA New York City Transit. Joining them was Jeff Vasser, Executive Director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism (NJTT), offering insights into NJ’s role in the upcoming FIFA 2026 World Cup.

“Innovation, Community, and Growth” are the guiding principles of the 2023 Real Estate Awards and Impact Awards, which highlight outstanding achievements in real estate development and community impact initiatives. The awards recognized exemplary projects such as Deal of the Year: Office, Deal of the Year: Industrial, Business Retention Award, and Business Attraction Award.

Craig Schlosser, CEO & President of the Morris County Economic Development Alliance and Tourism Bureau, emphasized the importance of the awards ceremony in fostering personal and community growth and unity. “This event presented a unique opportunity for stakeholders, businesses, and community members to come together and celebrate our collective achievements,” he stated. “It’s a platform for sharing insights, discovering new opportunities, and forging meaningful connections that will shape the future of our economic landscape.”

This year’s program focused on Downtown Development, featuring a panel discussion on leveraging transit proximity to enhance value in office, multifamily, and retail sectors. Industry experts including Antoinette Quagliata from Dewberry, Robert Donnelly Jr. from Cushman & Wakefield, and Ludivine O’Toole from AvalonBay Communities shared insights and best practices for fostering vibrant downtown communities.

Morris County Adopts 2024 Budget with No Increase in the Tax Rate

MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Board of County Commissioners unanimously adopted a 2024 Budget on Wednesday, April 10, with no increase in the tax rate as funding expanded for public safety, infrastructure, human services, education and training, and economic development.

Click here to view the budget presentation.

“Strong ratable growth and prudent financial planning made this budget possible,” said Commissioner Deborah Smith, Chair of the Commissioners’ Budget Committee. “We can increase services such as public safety and veterans’ affairs while maintaining a flat tax rate. We are very sensitive to the plight of the taxpayer amid inflation, despite increasing costs on the county.”

The $365.3 million 2024 Budget includes the 2024 Capital Spending Plan which puts nearly $35 million towards county infrastructure. This year’s fund balance grew by $2.5 million bringing it to $63.2 million, safeguarding Morris County against economic shifts and ensuring it maintains its triple-A Bond rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

“Morris County has maintained a triple-A rating for 48 years,” Commissioner Director Christine Myers said. “This impeccable rating saves everyone money by allowing our towns, schools, and county to borrow funds for integral community projects at the most competitive finance rates.”

Christine Myers

The county’s robust financial health also helped the budget committee address growing expenses forced by mounting state mandates on operations at the Morris County Clerk’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

The 2024 Budget allocates $38.1 million for Human Services and Health Services, which includes doubling to $300,000 a line item in emergency assistance funding to shelter and support people experiencing homelessness. The budget also commits another $150,000 toward funding allocated to prevent people from becoming homeless.

A combined $77.8 million will go towards public safety, including full dispatch services to 23 municipalities and daily back-up services to local Basic Life Support and Emergency Medical Service units for all 39 Morris County towns. Morris County’s Basic Life Support Emergency Medical Service Unit responded to more than 3,862 Emergency calls in 2023.

Critical Community Investments

The Preservation Trust Fund Tax will stay level for 2024, at 5/8 cent per $100 of total county equalized property valuation. It has financed many county park improvements, preservation programs, and restoration projects through grant programs like Farmland Preservation, Open Space Preservation, Historic Preservation, Flood Mitigation, and Trail Design and Construction.

Among the educational, cultural and economic development incentives included in the 2024 Budget are:

  • $9 million to support the Morris County Park Commission which manages 20,455 acres of parkland, making it the largest county park system in the state.
  • More than $24 million to support education, including career training at the County College of Morris and the Morris County Vocational School District.
  • A record $900,000 for Economic Development and Tourism, including $100,000 for the celebration of America’s 250th Anniversary.

Critical Infrastructure Investments

The county’s 2024 Capital Spending Plan designates approximately $35 million toward enhancing road resurfacing, improving intersections along the 287 miles of county roadways, and replacing bridges and culverts.

Student Organized Clothing Swap to Promote Sustainable Fashion

PARSIPPANY — Fast fashion plays into the idea that your social relevance is incumbent upon staying abreast with the latest runway trends and outfit repetition is a fashion gaffe. Feeding into this Gen Z and alpha frenzy are fashion houses replicating runway trends at breakneck speeds. The Fashion Industry is a $1.2 trillion Industry. There was a time when there used to be 2 fashion cycles in a year, in comparison there are 52 fashion cycles today. We spend $1,700 on clothes every year, each one of which has on average 103 items in the closet of which only 20% are ever worn utmost 7 times before being tossed.

According to earth.org, 1.92 million tons of textile waste is produced each year. Approximately 90 million tons of garments produced end up in landfills each year. The textile industry is responsible for 8-10% of global CO2 emissions greater than aviation & shipping combined. The textile industry uses 79 trillion liters of water and 98 million tons of non-renewable resources annually. 35% of all microplastics and 20% of industrial wastewater come from the clothing industry. Only 1% of garments are recycled back into the industry. It takes up to 80 years for garments to break down in landfills. 

There are many ways to put the brakes on this issue. Becoming conscious consumers is one of them. We can reuse and repurpose by thrifting, renting, and swapping. Clothing swaps divert textiles from landfills. As textiles decompose, they emit harmful greenhouse gases directly contributing to climate change. Keeping textiles out of landfills reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and microplastic pollution in land and water, and significantly curbs energy and water consumption.

Anika Arora, a Junior at Parsippany Hills High School, has undertaken several initiatives to educate and motivate citizens on steps they can take to mitigate the effects of climate change. Anika, under the guidance of Janice McCarthy, Chair of the Parsippany Environmental Advisory Committee, is organizing Parsippany’s first Dress & Accessories Swap in town. While fulfilling her Girl Scout Gold Award requirements, she sincerely hopes to encourage conscious consumerism and swap not just clothes & accessories but also behaviors. To register for the swap please visit Register For Dress & Accessories Swap. To find out more about Anika’s work, please visit https://www.simply-green.org or follow @_simply.green_

Police ID Woman Struck, Killed On Route 46 at Beverwyck Road

PARSIPPANY — A 75-year-old Bayonne woman was fatally struck by a vehicle while crossing Route 46 in Parsippany on Monday, April 8.

At 11:00 a.m., Sonia Diaz was crossing Route 46 West at North Beverwyck Road when she was struck by a Jeep Grand Cherokee, which collided with a second vehicle, a Kia Forte, Megan Knab, a spokeswoman for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said. 

Diaz was pronounced dead at the scene, Knab said. Both drivers remained on the scene. The investigation is ongoing and there have been no summonses issued, Knab said. 

The Parsippany Police Department and Morris County Sheriff’s Office are assisting with the investigation.

County College of Morris to host Second-Annual Diversity Festival

MORRIS COUNTY — Growing from the accomplishment of its first Diversity Festival, County College of Morris (CCM) is all set to organize its second annual Diversity Festival.

The event will take place on Thursday, April 18 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in CCM’s Jack Martin Gymnasium, located in the Health & Physical Education Building.

The event, which is open to the public and free, was planned by CCM’s Diversity Committee. CCM is committed to making its campus a diverse, inclusive community where all feel welcome and appreciated. During the event, the community is invited to celebrate diversity and inclusion with music, dance, song, food, exhibitions, competitions, and other festive activities.

The event is sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, which offers grants to support public humanities projects and is a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The mission of the organization is to explore, cultivate, and champion the public humanities to strengthen New Jersey’s diverse community.

The Health & Physical Education Building is located on the college’s campus at 214 Center Grove Road, in Randolph Township. Parking is available in Lot 8.

Anyone with questions can email diversitycommittee@ccm.edu.

Pedestrian Struck, Killed By Vehicle On Route 46

PARSIPPANY — A pedestrian was fatally struck by a vehicle on Route 46 on Monday, April 8, authorities said.

The incident occurred in Parsippany at Route 46 and North Beverywck Road, the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office said.

The road was closed as the investigation continues but since has reopened.

Parsippany Focus will update as soon as details are available.

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