2021 Saw Jackson Returning To Normal

Photo by Bob Vosseller

  JACKSON – Issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic carried over to 2021 but many familiar public events returned to live activities. During the year, public officials spoke their mind on state mandates and parents made their voices heard loud and clear about the same issues during Board of Education meetings.

  The year began with a contentious Board of Education reorganization. When the dust cleared Tara Rivera became president and Michael Walsh became board vice council president. Long time Board member Thomas Colucci resigned in January. Amid a number of applicants, his seat was ultimately filled by John Spalthoff in March.

  The pandemic may have caused a “hard knock life” for the cast and crew in 2020 but they were able to present two performances of “Annie Jr.” on stage. The summer program ran for three weeks and provided students the chance to learn about aspects of musical theater production including vocal coaching, costuming, painting and set design.

  In September, members of Amvets Post #2 cooked up a lot of food during their annual Pig Roast which also served to remember the 20th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001. That same month members of the Knights of Columbus held their yearly family picnic which featured many activities for children and delicious food for everyone.

Members of the Jackson Kiwanis Club could be found cooking up some burgers and hot dogs. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  The Eagle First Responder 5 Kilometer Run returned in September in Johnson Park. The event was created in 2020 as Gavin Kohute’s Eagle Scout project. He returned to coordinate the second one which benefitted several organizations including Scout Troops 204 and 402, the Jackson Mills Volunteer Fire Company Station 54 and Jackson Police Benevolent Association 168.

  An ongoing issue in the township which also carried on from previous years was code enforcement. Residents were vocal about their view that stronger actions needed to be taken. Some homes appeared to have crews working inside without permits while stop work orders were being ignored. Some houses weren’t being used as homes at all, but neighbors said they were only being used as houses of worship.

  Members of the Webb family received honors during a council meeting noting the accomplishments of 12-year-old William Webb, a champion wrestler and his father William Sr. who had recently retired as a sergeant 1st Class in the U.S. Army.

  Meanwhile students of the Lucy N. Holman Elementary School were recognized for demonstrating their positive character being one of 325 schools honored by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona through the National Blue Ribbon Schools program.

  The Jackson Liberty Marching Band continued winning awards. They took first place and was crowned Best Overall Band at their first competition of the year. It wasn’t the last tournament they would win – it led to their joining their counterparts at Jackson Memorial High School in performing at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Both the Jackson Liberty High School and Jackson Memorial High School bands marched in the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade. (Photo courtesy Jackson Schools)

   Jackson Liberty High School Band Director Scott Katona called that occasion a day when “one town had one sound.” Performers of the two schools would also join forces during the last Board of Education meeting of the year held at Jackson Memorial High School.

  Jackson Township always remembers its veterans and the annual Wounded Warrior Escort parade was held in October starting off in front of the headquarters of the Jackson Police Department.

  Jackson Day was also a big event in the community that month. It returned after a year’s absence due to the coronavirus health crisis. It featured several musical performances, a number of food vendors and organizations that showcased their services.

  Many township Board of Education meetings featured discussion and debate about quarantine protocols and masking by students and staff. Parents as well as Mayor Michael Reina and members of Township Council haven’t been shy in their criticism of Governor Phil Murphy calling his executive orders and mandates an act of overreach.

  During the months of autumn Jackson Township observed the 75th anniversary of the Jackson Police Department which coincided with the hiring of 10 new police officers marking the first time that the department numbered above 100 members.

  Old photos, patches, badges and other artifacts of the police department were on display at the Jackson branch of the Ocean County Library commemorating the milestone anniversary of the police department.

A display depicting historical items of the Jackson Police Department are seen at the Jackson branch of the Ocean County Library. The department is celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  The police department’s PBA hosted the annual Pig Roast at Pine Park in Lakewood once again. The event was well attended and was assisted by members of the Police Explorers organization made up of young people who are interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement or simply wish to learn more about police work.

  In December, Jackson saw the departure of several familiar faces on the Board of Education. Twelve candidates ran for terms on the board in November. Newcomers defeated incumbents Tzvi Herman, Gus Acevedo and Spalthoff. Incumbent John Burnetsky chose not to run for another term. Herman resigned on December 2 prior to the expiration of his term on December 31.

  The new members are Erica Osmond, Tina Kas, Giuseppe Palmeri and Alison Barocas.

  Long time township employee Janice Kisty bid goodbye to the mayor, council and public during the last meeting of the Jackson Council. Kisty retired having served as deputy township clerk for many years and as township clerk for the last three years.