A new nonprofit, the Emergency Fund, has been created by the mayor and Town Council to provide emergency “final step” financial assistance to the needy and individuals that face economic challenges.
The Emergency Fund, announced at the April 24 Town Council meeting, is governed by a board that includes residents Judy Preinfalk, Jane Kelly, and Sheila Witrock, and will be headed by Lisa Snedeker, director of Senior and Social Services. Councilman Robert Costantino will also sit on the board to oversee accounting matters.
“Without any sort of enforcement on this Styrofoam issue we are making a hole in the water.” – Stephen Badalamenti
“Every circumstance is going to be different,” said Snedeker, adding that the Senior and Social Services department will make its determination based on each case.
Fund raisers on May 12 and 19 will help finance the Emergency Fund.
Help paying bills
Snedeker said that the Emergency Fund will help individuals who don’t qualify for existing programs. All individuals that apply for funding will have to provide justification and financial records. They will first be referred to existing social services groups like the North Hudson Community Action Corporation (NHCAC) before being considered for the Emergency Fund.
Councilwoman Susan Pirro said of the 1,662 Secaucus residents the NHCAC served throughout 2011, 600 received health screenings, 130 received pediatric services, 72 were provided with family planning, and 439 were provided with Women, Infants, and Children’s assistance.
“Every month [NHCAC] comes to us,” said Snedeker. She noted that NHCAC goes to all of the senior buildings to provide services. “They really do an outstanding job.”
Support for veterans
The mayor and Town Council passed a resolution supporting the Employment Initiative Program of the New Jersey Employer Guard and Reserves, which provides veterans with employment assistance. Councilman William McKeever said he fully supports the resolution “especially today, when vets are doing multiple deployments.”
Gonnelli said veterans who want to become police officers get five additional points on their police exam, giving them a higher ranking and increased preference. The town has an Afghanistan veteran in training to become a police officer.
New appointments, hires, and contracts
Richard Fairman was appointed to serve on the Shade Tree Committee, which meets every three months and oversees the program to plant more trees curbside. He fills an opening left vacant by Paul Hugerich, who recently resigned.
Adam Reeves was hired as a part-time animal shelter assistant for an hourly rate of $10. He has been training Henry, the pot-bellied pig, who serves as the town mascot, and he also works training the dogs.
Frank Walters was appointed as part-time fire sub-code inspector in the construction office for an hourly rate of $13.98. Joseph Rizzolo was appointed as a part-time Secaucus Police Department dispatcher at an hourly rate of $15.65.
The company 4 Clean-Up was awarded a $251,557 contract to make improvements to Paterson Plank Road.
The Town Council awarded a two-year contract to Ramas Climate and Refrigeration for HVAC emergency repair services.
The town has renewed the contract not to exceed $37,500 for Sol’s Interpreting Services for court interpretive services. The town has also awarded a two-year contract to Penn Credit for services as a private collection agency to pursue court debt pending approval by the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Push to enforce Styrofoam ban
Environmental Committee Chairwoman Amanda Nesheiwat spoke during the public comments section about the group’s initiatives to promote sustainability. She said the town will soon open a community garden that she hopes will cultivate a sense of community and bring people together.
“We can’t achieve sustainability with just one person,” said Nesheiwat.
She stressed the importance of the Styrofoam ban requiring local businesses to stop using Styrofoam products like take out containers, cups, and plates.
“We want to set an example for the rest of the state, the country, and the world,” said Nesheiwat. Reducing consumption and waste are the goals of the ban, she said, and reducing Styrofoam that ends up in the oceans. She encouraged residents to ask for paper cups or for foil instead of Styrofoam at places like Dunkin’ Donuts, for example.
“Without any sort of enforcement on this Styrofoam issue we are making a hole in the water,” said Recycling Coordinator Stephen Badalamenti, also a member of the Environmental Committee. The town doesn’t want to chase businesses out of town, he said, but he doesn’t think they will comply unless there is “some sort of price to pay.”
Gonnelli said the town is allowing a grace period so businesses can deplete their Styrofoam supplies, and said the town has had success with restaurants like Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse.
“This is a pretty big deal,” said Gonnelli. “We try to tackle the ones we can tackle. But believe me, through Amanda, we are going to have to start enforcement.”
“I know it is a big deal but I also feel it is a waste of time to make an ordinance and for everyone to sit here and not enforce it,” said Badalamenti. “The only way it is going to be enforced is if there is a price to pay.”
Gonnelli said the town will continue to do outreach, especially to the larger chains, but eventually there will be enforcement and fines to pay for those that do not make the switch.
Pantry expansion to include thrift shop
In other developments, Hartz has donated a new building for the local food pantry at 77 Metro Way. The food pantry will increase from 2,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet. Gonnelli said that the administration plans to include a thrift shop in the new space in addition to the food-related and household items maintained by the pantry. Money raised from the thrift shop will go to the Emergency Fund.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.