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A Message From Mountain Lakes Chief of Police

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MOUNTAIN LAKES — It has come to my attention that a posting on a political candidate’s social media page includes a quote by a member of the Mountain Lakes Police Department stating that the Mountain Lakes Police Department is supporting a specific candidate for office.

While the Mountain Lakes Police Department wishes all candidates at every level the best of luck in their endeavors, we do not, nor have we ever, endorsed any particular political candidate or party.

Only the Chief of Police or their designee is authorized to make any official statements on behalf of the Mountain Lakes Police Department.

Sincerely,
Chief Shawn Bennett

Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce Endorses Rosemary Becchi For Congress

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Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and Rosemary Becchi

MORRIS COUNTY — Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (District 26) endorsed Rosemary Becchi for the 11th District Congressional seat, issuing a statement that said there is “no one better suited for the job in these troubled times.

“Our economy and job market are being destroyed by the pandemic, but instead of working on meaningful solutions to get our nation on its feet again, the hyper-partisan politicians in Congress are focusing only on appeasing the radicals destroying our cities and saving their own political skins. It’s time to get serious people in Washington. It’s time to elect Rosemary Becchi.

“I’ve been working with Rosemary since she launched Jersey First to take on the mounting taxes and government regulations making New Jersey unaffordable for hardworking families. This is the woman responsible for creating tax-free college funds that help American families afford the crushing cost of higher education. Rosemary has the intellect, savvy, and no-nonsense approach to problem-solving that is completely lacking in government these days.

“We cannot afford to keep sending people to Congress who only pay lip-service to the needs of New Jersey families, but just follow the partisan marching orders of their rabid political leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, when it comes to taking action in Washington.

“While we lose out on education funding in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District, we are being targeted for increased annual taxes. While our tax dollars are funneled to urban corners of the state, our suburban neighborhoods are ignored when it comes to aiding and even punished for being fiscally responsible.

“We need a Congressional representative who knows what she is doing, who knows how to work across partisan lines to get things done and who fully understands the daily challenges faced by working families in New Jersey.

“We need to send Rosemary Becchi to Congress. There is no one better suited for the job in these troubled times.”

Laker Sensibility for Mountain Lakes Borough Council

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Dear Editor,

Breaking with longstanding tradition, the Mountain Lakes Republican candidates for Borough Council recently declined an invitation to participate in a League of Women Voters of Mountain Lakes (LWVML) candidate forum. As a former mayor, past League President for 4 years, and 25+-year member of LWVML I can say confidently – they have made the right call and we should all applaud their decision.

The League of Women Voters of Mountain Lakes has sadly lost their way and is no longer a non-partisan group promoting engagement in government.

The local chapter I recall cherished political diversity and participation from across the political spectrum.  We jealously guarded our responsibility to promote civics-awareness in a non-partisan manner and were rewarded with an active membership and robust growth. The LWVML was known for producing fair and balanced candidate forums.  I moderated dozens of forums for nearly twenty years. We were trained to read the following statement before every forum: “The LWV is a nonpartisan organization that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate. The League’s purpose is to promote political responsibility through informed participation of citizens in government.”

We were a respected and valued group within our community. The LWVML has lost this important focus and is now a remnant of the efforts of many dedicated Lakers over many years. Predictably, as the League focus shifted away from voter service toward activism the participation and influence have dwindled.

Last year, Laker Republican Club (LRC) sent an email to members of the Mountain Lakes community announcing their formation – a nonprofit political group focused on transparent and accountable local government, fiscal responsibility, and environmental stewardship. A response was received from an LWVML Executive Board Member that accused Republicans of being racist, misogynist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigration, anti-environment, morally corrupt, and unethical.

Several of the leaders of Laker Republican Club, including me, contacted LWVML hoping the matter could be addressed. We asked the League leadership to confirm their non-partisan mission and stand against intolerance toward differing political viewpoints. The LWVML made the decision not to do so.

I am disheartened LWVML leaders would not stand against this intolerance. I understand the political acrimony consuming our nation at the moment, but did not expect the tone, anger, and bias toward Republican neighbors from an Executive Board Member of LWVML.

The Republican candidates for Borough Council have wisely decided to stay away from the entire mess.

When civility breaks down and the leadership of a group like LWVML is reduced to bigoted and hateful comments toward members of their community, we must stand together and unite in favor of diversity and inclusion. A worthy example will not come from our national political parties as they currently exist.  Rather, progress will emerge from communities working together to solve local issues in a sensible, productive, and civil manner.

Blair Schleicher Wilson 
Volunteer, Laker Republican Club 
25+ year Member, LWVML 
President, LWVML 1990 to 1993 
Former Mayor, Mountain Lakes 

An Open Letter to the Hanover Park Regional High School District Community

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Dear Editor:

As we begin the second week of the 2020-21 school year, the members of the Hanover Park Regional Education Association (HPREA) want to take the opportunity to thank the Hanover Park Regional High School District students and parents for their patience, flexibility, and assistance, which allowed us all to have a successful start to the school year.  Working together, we can do what we do best: provide the best possible educational experience for Hanover Park Regional High School’s students.

However, we also want to clear up some of the misinformation that has been circulating throughout this time. From the start, the HPREA has been clear in its goal:  Ensuring that the health and safety of our campuses’ students and staff are the district’s top priority.  After all, you cannot have a strong school unless you have a safe one. While the district has made many strides towards achieving this, several issues remain outstanding, including but not limited to:

  • Although the district has promised the HPREA a copy, the district has failed to produce the report on the HVAC systems, or provide proof that it has met or exceeded indoor air quality guidelines;
  • The district’s inconsistent use of higher-rated MERV filters to strengthen protections against any airborne virus and its failure to introduce an alternative filtration system that would achieve the same goal;
  • The lack of access to fresh air, as at the beginning of the school year the district acknowledged an inability to open dampers because many are no longer functional
  • Since the beginning of the school year, buildings have been closed as the district works on the ventilation systems, work which could not have been done with students on campus
  • The random spot-checking of classrooms’ air quality to justify a widespread declaration that buildings are safe;
  • The ongoing and egregious disregard for bus safety;
  • The failure to establish an effective screening process for staff and students in the building; and
  • The absence of a clear, consistent cleaning and disinfecting procedure given the increased workload that will be placed on the custodian, maintenance, and grounds staff.

The HPREA is working diligently with the administration to address these issues, but we cannot remain silent any longer as we watch our members shoulder the blame for the remote start to the school year.  Any HPREA members who sought and were awarded the federally-approved workplace accommodations available to all workers—not just school employees—during the COVID-19 pandemic are not the sole reason why our students must engage in virtual learning now.  Simply put, our district buildings are not ready to safely house an increased number of students and staff, as evidenced by the outstanding issues and recent building closures on campus.  We take these issues seriously and only need to look at what has happened in some surrounding districts to understand the impact this virus can have and the disruption it can cause.

To be clear, HPREA members want nothing more than to see our schools fully reopen and get back to the business of maintaining the best public schools in the nation.  We share the community’s desire to move forward, but know that we can only do so when it is safe. To that end, we urge the administration and Board of Education to swiftly address and rectify the remaining health and safety concerns.  Until then, we will continue to work together, care for and protect one another, and, most importantly, lead by example.   We do not want Hanover Park Regional to become another cautionary tale.

Brady Mahar, President
Hanover Park Regional Education Association

Adam Klymko, Former Morris Plains Cop, Pleads Guilty

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Adam J. Klymko, File Photo

MORRIS PLAINS — Adam Klymko, 31, a former Morris Plains police officer pleaded guilty to stealing from his local Policemen’s Benevolent Association while serving as the union’s treasurer.

Morris County Prosecutors Office charged Klymko on Wednesday, June 3, with one count of theft by unlawful taking or disposition, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a, a crime of the third degree.

According to Klymko’s Linkedin Profile, he has been a Morris Plains Police Officer since January 2012.

During an online hearing, Klymko admitted to taking at least $85,000 from Morris Plains PBA Local 254 between January 2018 and March 2020, withdrawing the funds to pay for bills and other personal expenses, according to Daily Record.

Klymko resigned from the Police Department in June, according to the borough clerk’s office. He will be barred from working as a public employee or serving in public office under a plea deal negotiated with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

Prosecutors are recommending that Klymko be sentenced to five years of probation for the crime and that he be required to pay back the PBA. The amount of restitution is still under debate — prosecutors say Klymko stole $91,170, while his attorney, Patrick Caserta, claims the amount is about $6,000 less.

Moravian College Welcomes Larisa Bohensky

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Larisa Bohensky

MADISON — In August 2020, Moravian College welcomed more than 500 new students, including Larisa-Bohensky to their Bethlehem, PA campus for a semester that is unlike anything the college has seen before.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moravian welcomed students to a mix of in-person and online classes.

Moravian College is the nation’s sixth-oldest college, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees that blend liberal arts with professional programs.

For more than 275 years, the Moravian College degree has been preparing students for reflective lives, fulfilling careers, and transformative leadership in a world of change. Moravian College is a member of The New American Colleges and Universities (NAC&U), a national consortium of selective, small to mid-size independent colleges and universities dedicated to the purposeful integration of liberal education, professional studies, and civic engagement. Visit moravian.edu to learn more about how the Moravian College focuses on education for all prepares its students for life-long success.

Virtual Learning Toolkit: Resources for Families and Teachers

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PARSIPPANY — A Message from Kevin Dehmer Interim Commissioner of Education

As the new school year commences, remote instruction will play a large role in districts and homes across the state. To help parents, students and teachers effectively adjust to online instruction, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is pleased to announce the launch of the Virtual Learning Toolkit, a comprehensive set of resources for school communities.

The toolkit contains links to information and supports for families and school districts, as well as pre-recorded professional learning modules to help educators virtually engage, instruct, and assess students. The resources provided focus on six key areas:

1. Devices and Hardware – Help with computers and tablets;

2. Connectivity and Broadband – Information about internet service and wi-fi connectivity;

3. Software and Learning Platforms – Help with videoconferencing and popular learning platforms;

4. Training and Professional Learning – Resources for engaging students through hybrid and remote instruction;

5. Tech Support and Digital Literacy – Help and supports for using technology and troubleshooting information; and

6. Funds and Financial Support – Possible funding resources for districts.

Resources will be added to the toolkit as new information becomes available.

Contact information

Please direct inquiries to Christopher Cox, director of the NJDOE’s Office of STEM, at Christopher.Cox@doe.nj.gov

Italian American, African American & Hispanic Police Officers Collected School Supplies

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MORRIS COUNTY — Due Labor Day weekend, the Italian American Police Society of New Jersey partnered with (BLESC) Blacks in Law Enforcement Serving the Community & Hispanic Law Enforcement Association of Union County to collect another truckload of needed school supplies at area ShopRites.

These three law enforcement organizations are working hard together to build bridges with the community while making sure inner-city children have the supplies they need for the Fall in school.

Thursday Morning Club to Hold Fall Fundraising Celebration

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Anne Lawless and Gerri Meer pulling winning tickets in 2019

MADISON — Despite COVID-19, plans are being made for the Thursday Morning Club (TMC) to hold a fundraising celebration this fall. Join the Club’s efforts while gaining an opportunity to be rewarded with a cash prize.

The Club’s Second Annual “Fabulous Fall Fundraiser” to benefit the Madison Community House (MCH) will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 17, 2020 with a cocktail reception at the MCH on 25 Cook Avenue. Food will be catered by Madison’s own, Chef Loryn, and the TMC’s signature drink, “Raffleberry” will be served along with beer, wine, and soft drinks.

Purchase of a $100.00 ticket (only 300 to be printed) guarantees a reservation for two to the reception and a chance to win one of two prizes worth 25% of the sales. To participate in the “Fabulous Fall Fundraiser,” or for more information, call Anne Lawless (973-822-2517) or Nancy Wallace (973-377-6989).

“As always, the Thursday Morning Club and Madison Community House are grateful for the community’s past and continuing generosity, which enables us to be a vibrant presence in Madison”, Club President Susan Packie said.

CIVIC INSTITUTION
The Madison Community House is widely recognized as a key institution in Madison’s community life. As the owner of the Madison Community House, the TMC works at fundraising efforts for the House in order to continue providing activities and services among which are:

  • A Pre-School for 3 and 4-year-olds
  • The Before and After School Child Care (BASCC) program at all Madison elementary schools
    Summer camps
  • Space is used by a number of civic groups and organizations for meetings and social purposes.
  • “Dress for Success Northern New Jersey’s 10 Counties” which supports disadvantaged women in their quest to rejoin the workforce, also makes its home at the Madison Community House.

Every year, “As many as 50,000 to 55,000 people use the Madison Community House facility in one way or another”, reported President Packie.

The Thursday Morning Club is a not-for-profit, social and philanthropic organization founded in 1896 in Madison. Touchstones of the Club’s mission are providing programs and projects promoting women’s health and social issues, preserving natural resources, promoting literacy and equality, and volunteer service.

The Thursday Morning Club has been a member of the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs (NJSFWC), the largest volunteer women’s organization in the State since 1900. TMC is also a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), a Federation of more than 3,000 women’s clubs in the United States and internationally, which has promoted civic improvements through volunteer service since 1907.

Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement Achieves 8th Prestigious Accreditation Award

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Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville, Detective Captain Denise Thornton, Corporal Laura Bertelli, Investigator Ashley Craig, Officer Kayla Santos

MORRIS COUNTY — The Morris County Board of Freeholders has applauded the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Law Enforcement for achieving national reaccreditation, a demanding process that measures compliance with the most advanced standards on policy, procedures, operations, training, administration, and support services.

The prestigious, advanced reaccreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) is the first accomplished by the administration of Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon, who was sworn in as the 77th Sheriff in January 2017.

The agency first was awarded CALEA accreditation on March 21, 1998, and has now been reaccredited seven consecutive times.

Sheriff James M. Gannon with CALEA Assessors Thomas Clark and Charles Groover

“I and the entire Freeholder board commend Sheriff Gannon and his officers for maintaining these nationally recognized standards of excellence and for being accountable, fair-minded, and community-oriented in how they deal with the citizens of Morris County. This is a very important achievement, particularly in this volatile era when some citizens and law enforcement are clashing in other parts of this nation,” said Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith.

Sheriff Gannon and Sheriff’s Office Detective Captain Denise Thornton were among Sheriff’s Office sworn Officers who were joined at a virtual Freeholder Board work session on Wednesday by CALEA Executive Director Craig Hartley and CALEA Regional Program Director Paul MacMillan, who provides on-going accreditation guidance to the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.

Executive Director Hartley gave the Freeholders a glowing appraisal of the accreditation efforts of the Bureau of Law Enforcement, which met 361 rigorous reaccreditation standards.

“These efforts take strong leadership of course, as well as technical support, but they also require every member of the organization, both sworn and non-sworn, to embrace the concepts of accreditation and consider the implications of their actions in regard to our standards,” Executive Director Hartley said.

Sheriff’s Officer Travis Somerville, Detective Captain Denise Thornton, Corporal Laura Bertelli, Investigator Ashley Craig, Officer Kayla Santos

“Although I don’t think there has been a difference in this in the course of history, now more than ever, it’s critical for law enforcement agencies to commit to doing the right thing, the right way, and having accountability as a part of their organizational make-up.  Again, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office embraces this concept through accreditation and allows CALEA as an independent body to examine its most sensitive and complex operations to confirm its commitment to this important business philosophy,” Executive Director Hartley said.

Sheriff Gannon also commended the agency for maintaining the highest quality standards.

“Achieving reaccreditation is a rigorous process but necessary, I believe, to show the community that the Morris County Sheriff’s Office strives for excellence and transparency. I asked the assessors to kick the tires and look into everything because we welcome the scrutiny. It’s a true credit to everyone in the Bureau of Law Enforcement that its quality has again been affirmed,” Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office is one of just two Sheriff’s Offices in New Jersey to be nationally accredited. Statewide, 17 law enforcement agencies have achieved national accreditation, including the New Jersey State Police.

A voluntary process for law enforcement agencies, CALEA accreditation demonstrates that an agency has a proven management system of written directives, clearly defined lines of authority, sound training, robust service delivery, excellence in leadership, and compliance with best practices related to life, health and safety procedures.

The Sheriff’s Office accreditation team spent the years 2016 through 2019 meeting annual, web-based prongs of the accreditation process that prepared the agency for a climactic, four-day visit in October 2019 by CALEA Assessors, former Law Enforcement professionals Charles Groover of Georgia and Thomas Clark of Virginia.

Public input was welcomed, with 13 individuals, business owners, and representatives from state, federal, and local law enforcement agencies calling the assessment team to offer positive opinions about the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.  They included a member of the LBGTQ community and a woman whose husband is a client of the Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver program.

During the site-based assessment, Sheriff Gannon and his accreditation team took the assessors on a tour of the Morris County Courthouse, which the Bureau of Law Enforcement is constitutionally mandated to protect, and the team showcased the agency’s specialized services and innovative outreach programs.

The CALEA assessors met Sheriff’s Office Detectives from the Bomb Squad, K-9, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), Evidence, and Community Outreach and Planning Sections.

The assessors in October 2019 also conducted 112 interviews with sworn and non-sworn members of the Sheriff’s Office, community members, and Superior Court personnel, including Superior Court Assignment Judge Stuart Minkowitz, who works closely with Sheriff Gannon on all aspects of courthouse security.

Before CALEA ultimately awarded the Sheriff’s Office four-year reaccreditation in March 2020, it delivered a Final Assessment Report that expressed admiration for initiatives launched by Sheriff Gannon. Those programs include the Hope One mobile substance use and mental health outreach program, the RSVP-3 school threat assessment program, and the RSVP-3 mobile app that allows individuals, particularly students, to anonymously report threats to school safety and other concerns.

“The agency has a community outreach component (that is) very active with businesses, neighborhood associations, citizen groups, civic organizations, and on and on. The programs Sheriff Gannon and the agency have introduced since his administration took over three years (ago) is amazing,” states the report, authored by the assessors.

Sheriff Gannon and the accreditation team had anticipated traveling to Florida in March for the 2020 CALEA Conference, where they would have answered any final questions by a panel of CALEA commissioners before reaccreditation was granted. Instead, the Sheriff and accreditation team members had a final session with CALEA commissioners over Zoom in March, when the reaccreditation was awarded.

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