TOMS RIVER – Surrounded by family and friends, Ocean County Freeholders John P. Kelly and Virginia E. Haines were sworn to new three-year terms on the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders during the Board’s annual Organization Meeting Jan. 4.
And, Freeholders Joseph H. Vicari and Gerry P. Little were named Director and Deputy Director of the Board respectively for 2017 during the meeting.
“As we look ahead to 2017, I can once again promise our residents that there will be no surprises when we announce the county budget in a few months,” said Director Vicari as he gave his vision for 2017. “Under the financial direction of Freeholder (John C.) Bartlett Jr. this board will again present a budget that combines affordability with outstanding core services.
“This board take’s its financial responsibilities very seriously and we can ensure you that we will not mortgage our children’s future or our grandchildren’s future,” Vicari said.
Following his swearing in, Freeholder Kelly talked about the challenges facing the Board in 2017.
“We have many challenges ahead of us and I know that together we will successfully meet them,” said Kelly. “Our work here is far from complete.”
He noted that working with Prosecutor Joseph Coronato and Sheriff Michael G. Mastronardy the County will continue the fight against “the drugs that have entered homes, neighborhoods and communities causing immense and sometimes irreversible harm.
“We will continue our work to help those who are suffering with addictions and making certain those who push drugs on our citizens go to jail,” said Kelly, who serves as Director of Law and Public Safety.
He added the Board will address the growth in the county as it affects the County road network.
“I look forward to ongoing discussions with municipalities to make certain we are addressing those needs so our roads are safe and up to date,” said Kelly, who also serves as liaison to engineering.
Both Kelly, who is starting his ninth three-year term on the Board and Haines were administered the oath of office by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Kelly was surrounded by his wife and two of his children and Haines was joined by three long-time friends assisting in holding the Bible during her swearing in.
“I have said it many times, Ocean County is the premiere County,” said Haines who was sworn into her first three-year term on the Board. “We have the best county park system, library system, educational opportunities at Ocean County College and the list goes on and on.
“I look forward to working in 2017 with the other freeholders in making certain Ocean County continues to provide the best services and is the best county,” she said.
Deputy Director Little noted county government works together as a family.
“It’s important to acknowledge the work of Ocean County department heads and staff members,” Little said. “They carry out the programs and services of the board with professionalism and dedication.”
He noted that as liaison to the Veterans Services Bureau, he will continue to provide the best services possible for the more than 60,000 veterans calling Ocean County home.
Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr., who is entering his 38th consecutive year as a Freeholder, said he looked forward to the work progressing on the rebuilding of Berkeley Island County Park, Berkeley Township, and also to the grand opening of the removed environmental center at Cattus Island County Park.
“Ocean County’s park system is second to none,” said Bartlett, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. “I am very proud of the facilities we have built. Parks make a special difference in the lives of our residents. They provide a place to go for all of our citizens free of charge to enjoy nature and participate in a host of recreational opportunities.”
Vicari noted there is a number of priorities for 2017 that will be addressed include providing the best programs possible for the county’s growing senior population, lobbying for important transportation projects and improvements and promoting more business development and tourism for Ocean County.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Board to provide quality services and programs to our residents, in keeping the County affordable and to make certain Ocean County continues to be the great place it is to live, work, visit, raise a family and retire,” Vicari said.