Hopewell Township Committee declares State of Emergency in response to coronavirus

Mayor Kristin McLaughlin signs Declaration of State of Emergency Monday night (Photo by Michael Ruger)

Amidst the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the Hopewell Township Committee meeting took place Monday night. Committee members Kevin Kuchinski and Courtney Peters-Manning, as well as Township Attorney Steven Goodell, were not physically present, but instead contributed to the meeting by phone. 

COVID-19 was the prevalent topic of the meeting as Mayor McLaughlin officially declared a state of emergency in Hopewell Township. If needed, the Committee will adjust how meetings are held in the future.

“Things are changing hour by hour,” said Committee member Julie Blake, who is the Committee liaison to the Public Health department.

“If we end up physically separated for a period of time, we cannot put everything on hold. We will figure this out,” said Mayor McLaughlin, regarding possibly going digital. 

All Township meetings from March 16 through March 27 are canceled, with the exception of regular Planning Board, Zoning Board, Board of Health and Township Committee meetings. 

Hopewell Township Police Lieutenant William Springer elaborated on the declaration of a state of emergency and explained what emergency management is like in Hopewell Township. According to Springer, emergency management ensures all resources are working together during this emergency.

This state of emergency is unique. Because it is a health emergency and not a natural disaster, Health Officer Stephanie Carey will be making first decisions, according to Committee member Blake.

A resolution adopting modifications to the Township of Hopewell operating procedures in response to COVID-19 was passed unanimously. 

The Committee discussed a total of $125,000 being allotted in case it is needed during the state of emergency; Blake referred to it as “the spare tire.” Kuchinski expressed that the total should be $120,000 to avoid over-taxing the residents of Hopewell Township.

Ultimately, the Committee agreed to split the difference and allot $123,500 for emergency funds. With the emergency declarations that have been made, the Township can expect most, if not all of those funds, to be reimbursed by the State or Federal government.

For more information regarding COVID-19, go to hopewelltwp.org, nj.gov/health, or call 1-800-962-1253 or 1-800-222-1222.

The next meeting is scheduled for March 23. 

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