At its January 25 meeting, the Hopewell Township Committee heard follow-up presentations by Township Health Director Dawn Marling and Police Director Robert Karmazin.
Marling shared updates on the sharp increase in the Township’s COVID numbers and on vaccine access. She said that, since the last Committee meeting on January 11, the Township has had an 81 additional reported positive cases and two deaths. To date, there have been a total of 10 deaths and 534 known cases in Hopewell Township.
Infected residents have primarily been teenage adults and working adults. “Often people don’t know they have it and spread it to their families,” said Marling.
Marling attributes the increased numbers to increased testing, possible more contagious variants spreading, and to lack of stringent guidelines. “When restrictions were mandated, we didn’t have to rely on our personal judgment in a lot of ways.”
The take- away message? “Remain vigilant about social distancing and limit contact with those outside of our household right now,” urged Marling
Vaccine information is available on the Township’s Senior Services website. The Health Department urges residents to sign-up on covidvaccine.nj.gov, which identifies your category, sends you updates, and lets you know when you can schedule appointments. The Department is also maintaining a notification list to let residents know of local opportunities when they arise.
Police Director Karmazin presented the Department’s Life Saving Award to Officers Michael Makwinksi and Robert Voorhees for their life saving assistance on November 8, 2020 to a community member in his forties who was the victim of a heart attack.
“We know in this world of COVID that every action you take to save someone has additional costs and I want to thank you for your additional bravery,” said Mayor Julie Blake.
Karmazin then outlined strategic goals for the Department, “kind of like a progressive social contract” and urged the community to collaborate with the Committee and the Department. Karmazin provided a list of potential community engagement: Operation Blue Angels for seniors (55+) who are homebound; a firearms safety course; civilian police academy for adults and senior citizens; CPR refresher course; Director of Police open office call; recruitment plan to continue to attract qualified individuals to the Department; participation in the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance; community policing bicycle program; canine support dog; community ride-along program to learn about a day-in-the-life of a police officer; instituting a selection plan, a new way to go through recruit selection, which involves sponsoring an individual; community outreach directed to children using baseball cards; and marking Pride Month by making LGBTQ+ commemorative patches that will also be available to for purchase to the community as a fundraiser for an organization that helps LGBTQ+; revising award revisions – eg: community policing.
“I like the breadth of ideas and that you’re connecting with every member of the community,” said Committee member Kevin Kuchinski. “We have a great Department and there is so much we can do. We can take a strong Department and make it better.”
The Township passed several resolutions, which can be found attached to the agenda, includingthe approval of a stipend for George Synder, the Township’s Public Works Director, for his additional role as Acting Township Administrator. Also approved was the hiring of a Vulnerable Populations Outreach Coordinator as part of the Health Department.
Budget sessions will resume next week and will address a change to tax collection rates, according to Kuchinski.
The Committee and its attorney, Steve Goodell, discussed whether to amend the current policy regarding the public section portion of the meeting, the opportunity for residents to raise issues and concerns and ask questions. Currently, the Township has two public sections, one in the beginning and one at the end of the meeting. Legally, the Township is not obligated to have two public sections, according to Goodell. Ultimately, the Committee kept both public sections and
continues to be limited to issues on the agenda. EDITOR’S CORRECTION 1/27/2021: The second public section is not limited to the issues on the agenda.
“Many years ago, Hopewell Township created the first public comment [section] so that, before we took action, there was a time to proactively share thoughts as well as later in the meeting,” said Kuchinski.
What’s coming up? The County is soliciting input from the community about the futures of the Mine Road Bridge and the Moores Station Quarry. The Mine Road Bridge public meeting is scheduled for January 27 at 5pm. For the meeting zoom link, click here. For the full story, see this link. And on February 23 from 6-8pm, the County will continue the discussion about the master plan for the Moores Quarry. For coverage about the future park at Trap Rock’s quarry, see this link.
The next Committee meeting will be on Monday, February 1 at 6pm.