MANCHESTER – The most recent Township Council meeting opened with a proclamation for township student Blake Cortez who was joined by his parents and other family members as Mayor Robert Arace presented a proclamation and congratulated him on his accomplishments.
The Whiting Elementary School student won an academic award for grade 3-5 from the National Association of Gifted Children and is a high achieving student at his school. He has a passion for baseball, travel, studying and learning as much as possible.
Blake has shown excellence in coding and robotics through the gifted and talented program and created a motorized LEGO robot coded to communicate, solve mathematic equations, recognize colors and other functions.
Mayor Arace read his proclamation noting his “bright future in engineering and entrepreneurship and his strong creativity and stellar engineering skills which have been recognized through his academic award from the National Association of Gifted Children.”
In other news, two ordinances were introduced during the session. They included amending the salary ranges and positions of bargaining unit employees and a capital ordinance providing for upgrades to the police locker rooms and showers appropriating $53,000. Both ordinances will have their public hearing at a March 23 Council meeting.
The council voted to apply for the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant for a paid fire unit.
Township Attorney Lauren Staiger explained the second SAFER grant was for “the Manchester Fire Company, for them to put in for a grant and it also recommends them as a volunteer entity within the township so they can move forward with the grant process.”
Councilwoman Michele Zolezi brought up a second state grant (resolution 23-170) as an add-on to the agenda later in the meeting. This resolution was also approved.
Resident Edward Lynch asked what the grants were about.
Council President Roxy Conniff explained that “the grants that we are adding on needs an ordinance that will allow department heads to apply for grants and because the way the grants are structured we have a paid and volunteer fire companies so we are submitting two separate grant applications in for both.”
“We had to add on to let the volunteer company to apply for the grant as well,” she added.
“Didn’t they apply for them before?” Lynch asked.
Business Administrator Carl Block said “this is for this year’s (grant) cycle.”
Lynch said, “I understand the grant process but I thought they all did this themselves, before?”
“That I can’t speak to, and they probably have however for this particular grant we had to recognize them as a volunteer entity in order for them to apply,” Staiger answered.
Resolutions And Contracts
Other resolutions included authorizing a contract between the township and D&M works LLC; authorizing the disbursement between Manchester and FirstEnergy Corporation; authorizing purchase orders for Camp Adventure Trips execution of contracts; and the authorizing purchase orders for Day Camp Trips and execution of contracts.
Also approved were the authorization of required disclosure awards to Fireflow Services for Emergency Response training, awarding a chemical supply contract to Miracle Chemical company and authorizing the sale of obsolete equipment for an auction.
The Council also awarded a contract authorizing the appointment of attorney E. David Millard, for special legal counsel.
Under contracts and agreements, the township also was authorized for several shared service agreements for municipal court facilities and personnel with Lakehurst, an employment agreement addendum with Tracy Barcus, a side letter agreement with Local 32 Supervisory Unit and Local 32 White Collar Unit regarding municipal court shared services.
During a recent council session residents and officials noted a change in the seating arrangement which had the mayor move from the front row of the audience to the table where the township attorney and administrator sat. The mayor replaced the administrator who moved to the outside of the table formerly occupied by the attorney who now sits beside the council president on the dais.
Councilwoman Zolezi voiced strong objection to the new arrangement noting past history of the governing body and that the attorney was not an elected position. She asked for the original seating arrangement to be restored.
Council President Conniff said this was done in line with other Faulkner Act governing bodies and was also more professional.
One resident voiced objection to the shift in seating during the public comment period but another resident voiced from the audience that she liked the new arrangement. The new seating arrangement remains in place.