Hopatcong Mayor Michael Francis: Provides 2021 Departmental Reports & Recognition

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Start of Mayor’s Comments:

Welcome to Dignitaries, Residents, and Friends……

RobertsSmith Boroughg Council 2021I would like to congratulate, Ryan Smith and Dawn Roberts on their election to Council. They share a love and pride in Hopatcong and have been actively involved in this Borough for many years. I look forward to serving with both of you.

Now I would like to take a few minutes to thank the many people who dedicate themselves to serving the residents of Hopatcong throughout the year.

Covid Recap for 2021:

But how can we talk about 2021 without mentioning Covid. In 2021 we had a total of 2,013 positive cases, and our death toll is up to 23 people. This last year was challenging to say the least. Our town has been hit hard by Covid. The effect on our community has been dramatic. But through it all, we manage to deliver services to our residents because of the dedication and willingness of our entire staff to be there for you.

Borough Teamwork:

Our Business Administrator, Ron Tappan, our Borough Clerk, Valerie Egan, our CFO, Lorraine Rosetti, and all of our employees. Their commitment and unwavering dedication to the residents of our Borough is exceptional. Thank you!

Our professionals who guide us and give sound advice throughout the year. Greatly appreciated!

Our Police Acting Chief Meghan Mcclusky, for her strong leadership, and performance of the Police Department, our supervisors, and officers for their professionalism and integrity, our dispatchers for the outstanding work they perform during emergencies, and the day to day assisting of our residents. Our police department continues to collaborate with many neighboring police departments to fight the war on drugs and they have been very successful. Their efforts truly make a difference.  

Acting Police Chief Meghan McClusky’s Report

Patch no backgroundThe year 2021 was a unique year for Law Enforcement. In addition to navigating through the Covid 19 pandemic, staying healthy, and striving to provide our residents with excellent police service, we adjusted to 14 new Attorney General Directives and 7 updated guidelines.  Certain directives and guidelines had more of an impact than others. These include the decriminalization of marijuana, juvenile justice reform, body-worn camera policy, Internal Affair Policy and Procedures, and Use of Force and Pursuit Policy.  As always, we change and adapt to the times.  As a department, we have spent many hours training and implementing procedures to successfully meet these standards.

                I’m proud to announce that our department has begun the accreditation process.  The goals of accreditation are to formalize essential management procedures, establish fair and non-discriminatory personnel practices, improve the delivery of service to the community, solidify interagency cooperation and coordination, and boost public and staff confidence in the agency. Many accredited agencies report a decline in legal action against them and have greater accountability within the agency. Accreditation standards provide the Chief of Police with a proven management system of written directives, effective training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine processes that support decision-making and resource allocation. Accreditation is a most coveted award that symbolizes professionalism, excellence, and competence. It requires written directives and training to inform employees about policies and practices, facilities, and equipment to ensure employees’ safety, and processes to safeguard employees’ rights. Both the community and agency can take pride in our department, knowing that it represents the very best in policing.

The year 2021 brought the police department three new officers: Officer Timothy Sullivan, Officer Courtney Macaluso, and Officer Erik Macarico.  These officers graduated from the Morris County Police Academy in May of 2021 and have been serving the community since. 

At the end of 2020, we assigned an officer full-time to our Community Policing program.  In 2021 this program shined bright in the community.  This year alone the police department took part in the following: Merry Meals Christmas Dinner Giveaway, Thanksgiving Food Giveaway, Toys for Tots collection point for Cub Scout Pack 88, Coffee with a Cop twice a month, Lake Hopatcong Block Party, Bike Rodeo with Cub Scout Pack 88, maintained and expanded the Sussex County Police Explorers Post 234, monthly OEM meeting with ID cards made for all 1st responders, and food bank collection point for West Side Methodist Church and Kiwanis of Greater Roxbury.  There were also numerous tours and seminars conducted throughout the year with our Girl and Boy Scout packs.

Trust with the community is fundamental to effective policing.  It improves community interactions, enhances communication, and promotes shared responsibility for addressing crime. With that being said my number one goal for 2022 is to build on the trust and relationship we already have with our community.  Our department will continue to build on the Community Policing Program we put into place a little more than a year ago.  The community will get to know all members of this department as we will be at all community events.  And for the first time ever we will be hosting National Night Out in the summer of 2022.  National Night Out is done throughout the nation to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. 

Other goals I will accomplish this year include:

  • Putting the finishing touches on our police firing range. This will include increasing the size of the berms and soundproofing panels around the range to minimize sound.
  • Completion of the Accreditation process
  • Filling the three vacancies due to retirements and making well-deserved promotions of members of our department.

Our fire department for their volunteerism and concern for public safety. I appreciate the time and sacrifices that our volunteers and their families make in order to train, respond and meet all the duties required.

The Supervisor of the Department of Public Works, Pat Mason, for his outstanding leadership and accomplishments. The DPW staff are amazing men who work quietly behind the scenes, building new projects, repairing trucks, and keeping roads clear, plowed, and salted all hours of the day and night. They are the best!

Report from Hopatcong Department of Works (DPW): Pat Mason

                               (L to R): Pat Mason, Mayor Francis, Steve MillianAs another year comes to a close, I am pleased to give you the yearly statement of our department.

We were fortunate in being able to keep a full crew on for the year. 

  • This year we hired a part-time clerk who has been amazing and has become a major asset to the department and the Borough.
  • The Department was called out to either salt or plow 12 times in 2021. We had a total of 49” of snow and we used a little over 3500 tons of salt. Our average per year is about 5,000 tons.  As we can all remember February was a nightmare!!
  • All of our 71 miles of roads were swept at least one time for a total of 828 cubic yards of debris collected. The catch basins were inspected and cleaned out if needed as well as over 50 catch basins were repaired.
  • Our patch season was back in full swing this year and the crew installed 756.06 tons of blacktop. These were potholes and curb repairs.
  • The Ventrac Baseball Field Machine was used on all of our fields this year. We assisted the schools with their fields as well and hopefully will enter into a shared service agreement with them. Our fields have made a big turnaround and are looking a lot better.  One of the fields at Nariticong got rehabbed with a new fence, dugouts, benches, and a wall to hold back the infield.
  • We have ordered a new Ford F-550 Mason Dump Truck with a plow and salt spreader, and a new Western Star Single Axle truck. These will replace 2 of our trucks that have gone beyond their lifetime.

In 2022 we are seeking a new Combination Jet Truck for cleaning clogged drain pipes as well as cleaning the sewer lines.  We have also requested a new Mason Dump with plow and spreader and a new Single Axle Truck.  The Borough does its best to keep our fleet updated.  We take pride in keeping the streets safe in the winter and having solid equipment allows us to do so.

The Sewer main extension project was completed this year.  This will allow approximately 35+ homes along the lakefront to hook up to the sewer system to help control the pollution into the lake.  There were also another 74 grinder pumps turned over due to abuse or sales of a home.

Our Water Department completed 49 water repairs.  They ranged from service line leaks to water main repairs.  They were very active in replacing old and outdated water meters that have increased our billable water usage significantly.  We have a much better account of how much water our Borough uses.

Our paving program continues to stay aggressive. We paved 3 roads on the NJDOT Grant and 15 roads with the Borough funds.  A total of 7,232.93 tons of blacktop was used to pave 4.15 miles of roads.  Our PCI (pavement condition index) has increased over the past few years from a 52 to a 58.  That is a significant increase in a short amount of time.  As long as we continue on this path, we will be able to pave in large numbers and spread the paving to different areas every year.

We did things a little differently this year.  We normally use the Morris County Co-Op to pave.  I wanted to try and be as competitive as we could and we went out to bid.   There were 11 contractors that put bids in.  We were able to beat the Co-Op price and after the project was completed, we came in under the quoted tonnage.  There was another savings.  I give the contractor and our crew credit for the lower tonnage.  We inspect the roads as they are being paved and make sure the curbing is replaced as well as make sure the tonnage stays on track for each street.  The crew is very diligent with this and it shows.

Our Water and Sewer Department for maintaining our water and sewer utilities. During 2021 the Water Department has discovered and repaired a significant amount of leaks improving the efficiency of the system.  This staff works not only during the day but they are on call for all emergencies to assure that our systems are in good working order. The new Carbon filtration units for our wells have been ordered and will be installed when they get here.

Wade Crowley and Kevin Schneider and the Office of Emergency Management are always there in emergencies.

Steve Millian and our CERT Volunteers who make themselves available to assist whenever needed. The list of activities and emergencies that they respond to is quite extensive. They are outstanding volunteers.

The Ambulance Squad for their quick response to calls and their willingness to help whenever we need them.

All of our departments and agencies are united in their efforts to keep our community safe. They are remarkable men and women and again I want to thank all of them for their service and the sacrifices they make to bring Hopatcong through the many challenges we face each day.

We paved 18 roads throughout the borough including part of Durban Ave, Monroe Trail, Broadway, Hilltop Rd., Air Castle Isle, Skyline Dr., Columbia Tr., Temple Tr., Nebraska Tr., Missouri Tr., Toledo Ct., Akron Way, Mountain Tr., Larson Tr., Loyola Ct., Lincoln Tr., Stanford Tr..

Recreation & Senior Center:

img 8697Our Senior Center under the leadership of Cathy Millian and also Anna Reardon continues to grow. The Nutrition Center has exploded with many new senior members enjoying the services and compassion that our staff offers on a daily basis. In 2021 they distributed 11,988 “to-go meals” in a safe and protected environment.

I would like to congratulate Cathy Millian and the staff at the Nutrition Center for becoming the largest Nutrition Center in Sussex County.

The year 2021 brought many challenges to the Borough of Hopatcong, but through it, all the Hopatcong Recreation Department worked diligently to continue programs for our town in a safe and controlled environment. They were able to offer the following events: two Concerts in the Park, Hopatcong Days, Halloween event, Santa in the Park, Memorial Day Service, 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony, and the Veterans Day Observance. They also continued with street hockey and the basketball program. The Recreation Department is looking forward to 2022 along with new opportunities to offer more outstanding events for our community.

Municipal Animal Shelter: Officer Gianna DiMataeo

The Municipal Animal Shelter is doing a wonderful job under the leadership of Animal Cruelty Officer Gianna DiMataeo. In 2021 we adopted out 71 dogs and 70 cats, 3 Guinea pigs totaling 144 animals that found Forever homes. This year we doubled our 2020 adoptions. We sheltered 235 animals in Hopatcong alone, 10 animals from Byram, 6 from Wharton, and 18 from Stanhope bringing our total to 269 animals that came through our Shelter in 2021.

Hopatcong Community Wellness Center:

The Hopatcong Community Wellness Center located in the Walgreens shopping center has been very effective.

HopatcongCommunityWellnessCenterThe mission of the Hopatcong Community Center is to enhance the quality of life of our residents by caring for people, strengthening the bonds of the community, and creating opportunities for renewal, growth, and enrichment. In order to inspire a healthy and active community, we will build partnerships and connect with organizations that offer social programs that empower residents to stay active and improve their health and well-being. In 2021 the Hopatcong Community Center has been the venue for groups to meet in a relaxed, safe environment.

Such as:

  • Project self-sufficiency
  • The Center for Prevention, with educational courses specializing in family support for people struggling with addiction, Narcan training, and coping skills to keep people from turning to substance abuse.
  • The Caregiver Support Group
  • Hope and Serenity Community Center with free counseling for numerous domestic issues and recovery resources for drug & alcohol abuse.
  • Meet the Mayor
  • Municipal Alliance
  • Yemaya Yoga and Wellness.
  • Bonnie's Healing Hands Massage therapy.
  • The Hopatcong Women's Club and Book Club.

Hopatcong Market Place: Jim Puccio

HopatcongMarketplaceTeamA special thanks to our Marketplace team under the leadership of Jim Puccio. Our little Farmers Market with just a few vendors 5 years ago has grown to a venue with over 100 vendors. It fills a valuable need to our residents and also to our small businesses by offering local goods to people in a convenient setting. It is also a good place for our nonprofits to share information with residents.

Challenges in 2021:

The past year has brought many challenges to the people of Hopatcong and we are proud to say that our community center has met many people in their need.

  • We have successfully assisted our youngest residents to escape an atmosphere of abuse and neglect.
  • We were able to bring food, or help families obtain food with our donations, through very trying times following job loss or benefit loss in the wake of the pandemic.
  • We are also happy to share that with many hands coming together to help, a sum total of two hundred + gifts for children were donated to our Christmas Giving Tree to help families in our community that were having trouble making ends meet during the holidays.

Coming in 2022, all established groups will stay on our schedule, but we will also be adding events in Reduction of Self-Harm while partnering with the Center for Prevention, and we will also offer support groups for survivors of sexual abuse. The start dates will be announced very soon.

We appreciate the support, donations, and encouragement from the residents of Hopatcong to keep these very important resources in place for our community.

Wishing everyone a healthy and safe year ahead.

Hopatcong Chamber of Commerce is represented by Councilman Ryan Smith. We will continue to support all of our local businesses.

I would like to thank the sports groups and Scouting troops that give our young people opportunities to grow and learn important lifelong values. They willingly volunteer when help is needed such as Town-wide cleanup, and projects that improve our town.

Moving into 2022:

We are moving into 2022 with a financially stable budget. We will continue to review and evaluate each department in order to enhance the efficiency of services while keeping expenses stable this year.

Our Bond Rating was raised by Standard and Poors Global Rating to an AA+. This is important because it shows just how well our finances and budgets are being managed. It also shows that we have a Very Strong capacity to meet our financial commitments. There are very few towns in New Jersey that have AA+ratings.

It is the people in our community that give so much that make Hopatcong a very special place to live.

I am very proud to serve as Mayor of Hopatcong and what we have accomplished in the last few years together. I look forward to continuing our vision, establishing new goals to improve the entire community, and making Hopatcong all that it can be and a better place to live.

Now let’s move on to the rest of the Roaring Twenties.

God bless Hopatcong and God bless the United States of America.


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