Category Archives: From the Meeting Room

Get the scoop on what’s going on at the area’s municipal meetings and after.

Focus: New Year’s Day Fun at Fair Haven Firehouse

It’s a first day of the new year tradition.

Fire and first aid companies reorganize, naming new line officers. And festivities take hold at fire houses all over.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect made it to Fair Haven where there were a lot of familiar faces from all around the area — and a few reunions of RFHers.

Take a look …

And congratulations to the new line officers! They are:

Fire Company

Tim Morrissey, chief; Matt DePonti, deputy chief; Christopher Schrank, first assistant; Matthew Bufano, second assistant.

First Aid

Kim Ambrose, captain; Katy Frissora, first lieutenant; Daniel Kane, second lieutenant.

— Elaine Van Develde

McGovern Named Fair Haven’s New Police Chief

By Elaine Van Develde

“You can call him chief, but he won’t actually be chief until April 25 when he’s sworn in,” Fair Haven Mayor Ben Lucarelli said referring to Acting Police Chief/Captain Joseph McGovern and  the borough’s official move at Monday’s Borough Council meeting to make him the next police chief.

Continue reading McGovern Named Fair Haven’s New Police Chief

Swearing In, Promoting & Retiring at Rumson Reorg 2016

By Elaine Van Develde

Rumson rang in 2016 with tradition and a little change at the New Year’s Day reorganization ceremony.

Officials were sworn in to  additional terms on the Borough Council dais. New emergency response line officers took their oaths for the coming year. Police officers were promoted. And officials said goodbye to a longtime borough employee.

Mayor John Ekdahl was sworn in to his fourth term. Councilmen John J. Conklin III and Mark Rubin were sworn in to additional terms on the dais.

Joseph Hemphill was named council president.

After the swearing in of officials, two police officers were promoted.

Detective Senior Patrolman Christopher Isherwood became a sergeant. Wife holding the bible by his side along with Chief Scott Paterson, Mayor Ekdahl administered the oath to Isherwood and presented him with his sergeant’s badge.

Then Senior Patrolman Anthony Ciambrone was also promoted to the rank of sergeant. With the mayor administering the oath, Chief Paterson also present and Ciambrone’s wife holding the bible, he was sworn in and presented with his new sergeant’s badge.

Then onto the business of saying goodbye …

Longtime assistant to the mayor, Loretta Chebookjian was thanked by the mayor, given a gift and flowers. Chebookjian joked that she was with the borough exactly “11 and three quarters years. I will miss passing you on the road every morning on my way to work (while you were on your way to work),” she told the mayor.

Then there was the business of installing new line officers in the Rumson Fire Department and First Aid Squad.

Outgoing EMS Captain Mary Nichols was thanked for her service  and new Captain Darren McConnell was sworn in.

Then Fire Chief Kevin McCarthy was thanked for his service and the oath of office was administered to the new chief, Ronald Immesberger and Assistant Fire Chief Micheal Trivett. Each was given his new badge as well.

In keeping with true Rumson tradition, the mayor then announced that there would be a small intermission before he gave his annual speech, which, he joked, “will probably again be longer than it probably should be.”

The speech began with, “The Borough Council members have met the year’s challenges with diplomacy and with the dignity that would be expected from such an experienced council. I applaud each of you for the contributions you have made on behalf of the residents of Rumson.

“I extend my heartfelt thanks to every Borough employee, committee member and professional for their support and assistance throughout the past year …”

For the remainder of the full speech, click here.

Happy New Year!

 

Rumson, Fair Haven Reorganizations

It’s status quo for the New Year. Towns reorganize. Newly-elected and/or re-elected officials are sworn in, professionals are appointed and re-appointed, emergency responder line officers are installed and volunteers are named to committees. It’s called reorganization.

It’s also usually status quo for towns to hold their annual reorganization ceremonies on New Year’s Day.

This year, there’s a slight change in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

While Rumson will still hold its annual reorganization at Bingham Hall, on Bingham Avenue, at 11:30 a.m., Fair Haven’s reorganization will be held, instead, on Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. in Borough Hall.

In Rumson, Mayor John Ekdahl will officially be sworn into his fourth four-year term as mayor.  In addition, the emergency response line officers will be named and sworn in. And, Ekdahl will give his classic “looking back on 2015” speech.

In Fair Haven, incumbent councilmen Robert Marchese and Eric Jaeger will be sworn in to additional three-year terms. Fire Department and First Aid line officers will be sworn in. Residents and officials will also be named to various committees.

Click here for the full agenda of appointments.

 

Honoring Fair Haven’s Ray Taylor

By Elaine Van Develde

“It hurts me to say that most of the boys that went out there with me   are no longer here. But I am doing  all I can to keep their names out there for you. Thank you.”

It’s what a tearful Ray Taylor said after receiving a proclamation from the Borough of Fair Haven last week in honor of his service as a World War II and Korean War veteran and 91-year resident of Fair Haven who has consistently served the borough as a veteran who spearheaded the creation of Fair Haven’s Memorial Park that honors veterans from the borough.

Taylor was the “first speaker at borough ceremonies since the time he returned from World War II in 1946,  touching the hearts of many,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said at last week’s Borough Council meeting.

“As long as any of us can remember, Ray has spoken at our Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies,” the mayor said. “He is a very special human being. This year his words were so poignant that I was moved to say this is a  special individual and he should be recognized.”

So, a proclamation and keys to both the borough and the park were given to Taylor.

Taylor and his wife, Elizabeth, raised seven children in Fair Haven. They have 20 grandchildren and “many great grandchildren,” Lucarelli said, reading from the proclamation, which he said was bestowed upon Taylor as an expression of borough residents’ and staff’s “deep appreciation and gratitude to Ray for his many years of selfless public service to his country and his hometown.

“We wish him many more years of health and continued happiness.”

Taylor, 93, was born on June 24, 1922 in Long Branch. Moving to Fair Haven in 1924, he has spent 91 years in the borough. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II from 1942 to 1946 and in the Korean War in the 1950s when he worked his way up to the rank of sergeant first class and received a distinguished service medal and a Korean War commemorative medal.

While serving in World War II, he was stationed in Australia, New Guinea, New Britain, Guam, the Philippenes, Japan and spent 14 months in Alaska.

He was stationed in the Asian Pacific during the Korean War.

Congratulations, Mr. Taylor; and thank you!

Fair Haven: Lt. Bob Townshend’s Hometown Police Promotion

By Elaine Van Develde

You can call him Lieutenant — Fair Haven Police Lt. Bob Townshend.

The lifetime Fair Havenite and longtime policeman in the borough, surrounded by colleagues, forever friends and family, was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant at Monday night’s Borough Council meeting.

Continue reading Fair Haven: Lt. Bob Townshend’s Hometown Police Promotion

Names in Fair Haven News

There are some familiar and new faces and names in Fair Haven borough business.

At last Monday’s Borough Council meeting, a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class I was promoted to Class II in the Fair Haven Police Department, a new full-time laborer was hired for a probationary period in the borough’s Department of  Public Works and part-time seasonal laborer was brought into the same department.

By resolution, Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge recommended that Michael Volker be appointed to Special Law Enforcement Officer Class II.

The recommendation came along with a request, via resolution, to appoint a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class I to fill the spot vacated by Volker in his promotion.

Volker is filling the Special Class II spot left open when Robert Henne Jr., who passed away in March, was posthumously promoted to patrolman in the department.

The appointment of an as of yet unnamed Class I officer will become effective July 15.

Volker, a Fair Haven resident, is a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School graduate. He is also a graduate of the Academy of Law and Public Safety, Long Branch.

His rate of pay for the Class II position is $16.75 per hour.

In Public Works, Matthew Rosenstreich was hired, via resolution, as a full-time laborer.

Rosenstreich, whose hiring is now in the probationary period, will earn an annual salary of $30,043.99.

The position was advertised on the borough’s and League of Municipalities’ website. Rosenstreich, who was deemed to best suit its qualifications, was interviewed by both the borough administrator, Theresa Casagrande and Richard Gardella, director of the borough’s Department of Engineering and Public Works.

Also hired as a part-time seasonal laborer in Public Works was Patrick Anderson, according to the resolution.

Anderson’s hours are not to exceed those of a part-time employee, according to the resolution, and his rate of pay is $11 per hour.

 — Elaine Van Develde

Honor for Nativity’s Father Bob

They call him Father Bob.

His full, formal name is Rev. Robert Schecker. He’s been the pastor at Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven since 2004.

Since he started at the church 11 years ago, everyone, including non-parishioners, got to know him. That’s because he has become, over the years, a highly visible and valued member of the community.

And, since Father Bob announced his retirement from Nativity, effective June 30, the Fair Haven governing body decided it was a good time to thank him for his dedication to the community with a proclamation.

That was Monday night.

The proclamation, in particular, cited that “Father Bob has not only been a spiritual leader of the parish, but an overseer of many projects to improve the church and surrounding property including many upgrades and repairs to the Church Building, Chapel, Cloister, Office and Religious Education classrooms, the Rectory and Parish Hall as well as the outside grounds; and …

“he is a member of the Rumson-Fair Haven Community Alliance which was formed in 2013 to provide prevention education, guidelines when recovery is needed and compassionate, ongoing support for all. He has provided valuable input and support for the program; and …

“Father Bob has always made the church facilities available to the Borough in our time of need which has been the hallmark of his tenure, accommodation for community needs.”

A man of few words, Father Bob accepted the proclamation, listened in on the regular meeting for a bit and made a quiet exit, not without Mayor Ben Lucarelli and council members once again thanking him for his service and wishing him well.

Thanks, Father Bob.

Share your memories of Father Bob.

— Elaine Van Develde

Fair Haven Municipal Budget Adopted

By Elaine Van Develde

Calling the $8.4 million 2015 Fair Haven municipal budget a sound one with no compromising of borough services, the Borough Council unanimously adopted the spending plan at its Monday night meeting.

What it boils down to is roughly a $100 hike in the municipal rate for the average assessed property in the borough.

The average assessed property value in Fair Haven this year is $720,000, up from $688,540 last year. It actually means a slightly lower tax rate per $100 of assessed value, but the rise in average assessed value naturally raises the rate on the average home.

The amount to be raised by taxation is $6.1 million for 2015, calculating an increase of $231,591.

The budget “brings us back to the same spending level as in 2008,” after vacillating from cuts to increases in spending, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said. But, he added, it has never gone past that 2008 point.

The spending plan increased by about 3 percent this year.

Surplus is at $800,000, Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said, adding that she feels the budget is a tight, sound one. leaving a healthy enough surplus.

Another plus for the borough is that its debt is down to about $3 million, after paying down about half, which gives the borough an excellent credit rating, officials said.

For more details, click here for the story on the budget draft and here for the full budget on the borough website.

New Hires in Fair Haven

By Elaine Van Develde

You may have noticed a couple of new faces in Fair Haven Borough Hall and around town.

That’s because in the past month, there have been two permanent new hires in the borough.

Jennifer Johnson has been appointed as the part-time administrative assistant for Engineering, Zoning, Code Enforcement, Public Works and Records Management.

Her pay is $15 an hour; and, she is to be working an average of 25 hours a week, or no more than 100 per month, according to the resolution, which was approved at the May 11 Borough Council meeting. The hiring was effective May 12.

In addition, Director of Engineering and Public Works Richard Gardella recommended Justin Herner be appointed as a part-time borough  seasonal laborer at $11 per hour. The recommendation was approved via resolution at the May 11 council meeting.

His hours for the job are not to exceed part-time limits, according to the resolution.

Fair Haven Faces Proposed Tax Hike

By Elaine Van Develde

It’s not yet set in borough books, or even officially been introduced; but, if there are no cuts from the draft, Fair Haven property owners could be facing an average hike of roughly $102 in municipal taxes in 2015.

Average means what quantifies as the current average assessed property value in the borough of $720,900, up from $688,540 last year, Borough Administrator Theresa Casagrande said at Monday night’s Borough Council meeting. It actually means a lower tax rate per $100 of assessed value, but the rise in average assessed value naturally raises the rate on the average home.

What it boils down to is that “the conceptual average home will pay 101.83 more than it did in 2015,” Casagrande said. “I want to make it clear that this is not 1-2-3 Main Street. I could sit here and tell you that our tax rate is going down, but (the reality is that) as your average assessed value increased what we did was we calculated what an average assessed home paid this year versus what the average assessed property paid in 2014.”

In the grander scheme of budget talk, it means that spending plan in the borough, with its budget rough draft, went from about $8.3 to $8.4 million, or roughly a 3 percent increase.

The amount to be raised by taxation, or “appropriations minus revenue,” has been drafted at $6.1 million for 2015, calculating an increase of $231,591.

The number is arrived at from figuring the “combination of a slight increase in appropriations with a reduction in anticipated revenue,” which Casagrande said is down this year by about $148,000. That loss is largely due to the borough not being able to calculate in the $117,000 it got from FEMA last year for Hurricane Sandy damage.

A portion of the tax hike blame rests with unavoidable standard raises in employee health care costs and pensions, which, this year, will cost the borough $437,696.

“It’s a good budget. We have to maintain a level of affordability with quality municipal services,” Council President Jonathan Peters, liaison to the borough Finance Committee, said. “We don’t want to be a high cost, low service town.”

And while most council members at Monday night’s council meeting called the spending plan, in the works since January, a “good budget,” Councilman Robert Marchese said he “cannot stomach raising taxes. This gives me pause. Period. We need to care about seniors and those living on a fixed income. Taxes just can’t keep going up.”

And all that has been considered, Casagrande said, mentioning that there is a senior tax abatement program via the state dubbed Senior Freeze for which many have already applied. The income limit for the program is $85,553.

And, Mayor Ben Lucarelli said, when considering per capita expenses, or municipal services offered, Fair Haven is beyond the high end, comparatively, at about $1,397 on an average per capita spending of $1,295 to $1,350 in small versus large towns. But, he said, the services provided are much better than those in larger towns with lower taxes.

When that per capita number is lowered, “the level of services drops dramatically,” he said. And, he added, Fair Haven is known for providing a premium of municipal services that most people, in his experience, do not want to do without.

With this budget, officials said, a lot of the debt service in the borough, or $189,00, was wiped out, bringing the total debt down to $3 million.

“We’re now at the same level we were at in 2008,” Lucarelli said. “The budget has been chopped down and creeped up since then, but has never exceeded the 2008 number.”

For six years straight, from 2008 to 2013, Fair Haven boasted holding the line on municipal taxes, which comprises a little more than 20 percent of the tax bill, with no municipal tax hike (and one minuscule decrease) until last year.