• Joseph F. Berenato

Council OKs salaries for town employees


Several personnel matters were addressed at the April 25 meeting of town council, held in town hall. (THG/Kristin Guglietti)

HAMMONTON—Several personnel matters were addressed at the April 25 meeting of town council, held in town hall.


Among them was the public hearing of Ordinance No. 010-2022 – Fixing Salaries for Certain Employees, which adopted salary ranges for specified job titles.


“It’s basically all the positions in town hall,” Mayor Stephen DiDonato said.


After the ordinance had been adopted and published, council passed Resolution No. 059-2022, Setting Salaries of Certain Employees. (See below for the complete salary list.)


January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022


Police Records: Angelica Fontanez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $30,420; Danielle Noto, Keyboard Clerk 3, $60,449.


Construction: Anthony Berenato, Fire/Const Official, $59,766; Kim Maclane, Technical Asst., $35,420; Frank Sacco, Code Enforcement Officer, $41,574.


Administration: Kelly Vitalo, Clerk 1 Confidential, $30,420.


Municipal Court: Genine Agnew, Deputy Court Admin. $45,155; Mariela Mondragon, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $30,420; Jacqueline Martinez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk Part Time, $15.50 per hour.


Tax Assessor: Mary Joan Wyatt, Tax Assessor, $91,115; Robin Ripa, Keyboard Clerk 1, $31,670.


Tax Collections: Deborah Fitchett, Tax Collector, $60.575; Catherine Andreini, Account Clerk, $30,420; Gabrielle Rodriquez, Account Clerk, $15.50 per hour.


Radio Dept.: Helen Bell, Senior Public Telecom., $40,380; Jim Czerwinski, Senior Public Telecom., $37,780; Sierra Scola, Public Telecom., $33,280; All PT Public Safety Telecom., Part Time Telecom., $17.50 per hour.


Highway: Juan Alvarez, Laborer, $59,684; Andrew Arena, Truck Driver, $33,280; Bobby Bradbury, Equip. Operator, $63,421; Santo Cannistra, Truck Driver, $46,880; Alex DeSilvio, Asst. Supervisor, $58,405; Charles Graziano, Truck Driver, $33,280; Douglas Horton, Truck Driver Heavy, $39,180; Michael Kerbowski, Truck Driver, $36,780; William Martinez, Laborer, $59,684; Orlando Medina, Truck Driver, $34,280; Scott Rivera, Department Head, $97,882; Robert Thornewell, Truck Driver Heavy, $40,480; Robert Vettese, Public Works Mgr., $99,073.


Utility: Isaias Aquilar, Truck Driver, $33,280; Gabe Divello, Truck Driver, $33,280.


January 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023


Police Records: Angelica Fontanez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $31,181; Danielle Noto, Keyboard Clerk 3, $61,923.


Construction: Anthony Berenato, Fire/Const Official, $61,260; Kim Maclane, Technical Asst., $36,306; Frank Sacco, Code Enforcement Officer, $42,613.


Administration: Kelly Vitalo, Clerk 1 Confidential, $31,181.


Municipal Court: Genine Agnew, Deputy Court Admin, $46,381; Mariela Mondragon, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $31,181; Jacqueline Martinez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk Part Time, $16 per hour.


Tax Assessor: Mary Joan Wyatt, Tax Assessor, $93,295; Robin Ripa, Keyboard Clerk 1, $32,559.


Tax Collections: Deborah Fitchett, Tax Collector, $62.187; Catherine Andreini, Account Clerk, $31,181; Gabrielle Rodriquez, Account Clerk, $16 per hour.


Radio Dept.: Helen Bell, Senior Public Telecom., $41,580; Jim Czerwinski, Senior Public Telecom., $38,980; Sierra Scola, Public Telecom., $34,380; All PT Public Safety Telecom., Part Time Telecom., $18 per hour.


Highway: Juan Alvarez, Laborer, $61,129; Andrew Arena, Truck Driver, $34,380; Bobby Bradbury, Equip. Operator, $64,949; Santo Cannistra, Truck Driver, $48,080; Alex DeSilvio, Asst. Supervisor, $59,938; Charles Graziano, Truck Driver, $34,380; Douglas Horton, Truck Driver Heavy, $40,380; Michael Kerbowski, Truck Driver, $37,980; William Martinez, Laborer, $61,129; Orlando Medina, Truck Driver, $35,380; Scott Rivera, Department Head, $100,292; Robert Thornewell, Truck Driver Heavy, $41,680; Robert Vettese, Public Works Mgr., $101,650.


Utility: Isaias Aquilar, Truck Driver, $34,112; Gabe Divello, Truck Driver, $34,112.


January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024


Police Records: Angelica Fontanez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $31,961; Danielle Noto, Keyboard Clerk 3, $63,434.


Construction: Anthony Berenato, Fire/Const Official, $62,792; Kim Maclane, Technical Asst., $37,214; Frank Sacco, Code Enforcement Officer, $43,678.


Administration: Kelly Vitalo, Clerk 1 Confidential, $32,061.


Municipal Court: Genine Agnew, Deputy Court Admin, $47,636; Mariela Mondragon, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $32,061; Jacqueline Martinez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk Part Time, $16.50 per hour.


Tax Assessor: Mary Joan Wyatt, Tax Assessor, $95,530; Robin Ripa, Keyboard Clerk 1, $33,468.


Tax Collections: Deborah Fitchett, Tax Collector, $63,837; Catherine Andreini, Account Clerk, $32,061; Gabrielle Rodriquez, Account Clerk, $16.50 per hour.


Radio Dept.: Helen Bell, Senior Public Telecom., $42,780; Jim Czerwinski, Senior Public Telecom., $40,180; Sierra Scola, Public Telecom., $35,480; All PT Public Safety Telecom., Part Time Telecom., $18.50 per hour.


Highway: Juan Alvarez, Laborer, $62,610; Andrew Arena, Truck Driver, $35,480; Bobby Bradbury, Equip. Operator, $66,515; Santo Cannistra, Truck Driver, $49,280; Alex DeSilvio, Asst. Supervisor, $61,506; Charles Graziano, Truck Driver, $35,480; Douglas Horton, Truck Driver Heavy, $41,580; Michael Kerbowski, Truck Driver, $39,180; William Martinez, Laborer, $62,610; Orlando Medina, Truck Driver, $36,580; Scott Rivera, Department Head, $102,762; Robert Thornewell, Truck Driver Heavy, $42,880; Robert Vettese, Public Works Mgr., $104,289.


Utility: Isaias Aquilar, Truck Driver, $34,965; Gabe Divello, Truck Driver, $34,965.


January 1, 2025 to December 31, 2025


Police Records: Angelica Fontanez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $32,860; Danielle Noto, Keyboard Clerk 3, $64,982.


Construction: Anthony Berenato, Fire/Const Official, $64,462; Kim Maclane, Technical Asst.; $38,144; Frank Sacco, Code Enforcement Officer, $44,770.


Administration: Kelly Vitalo, Clerk 1 Confidential, $32,860.


Municipal Court: Genine Agnew, Deputy Court Admin, $48,919; Mariela Mondragon, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk, $32,960; Jacqueline Martinez, Bilingual Keyboard Clerk Part Time, $17 per hour.


Tax Assessor: Mary Joan Wyatt, Tax Assessor, $97,821; Robin Ripa, Keyboard Clerk 1, $34,397.


Tax Collections: Deborah Fitchett, Tax Collector, $65,525; Catherine Andreini, Account Clerk, $32,960; Gabrielle Rodriquez, Account Clerk, $17 per hour.


Radio Dept.: Helen Bell, Senior Public Telecom., $43,880; Jim Czerwinski, Senior Public Telecom., $41,380; Sierra Scola, Public Telecom., $36,580; All PT Public Safety Telecom., Part Time Telecom., $19.50 per hour.


Highway: Juan Alvarez, Laborer, $64,128; Andrew Arena, Truck Driver, $36,580; Bobby Bradbury, Equip. Operator, $68,120; Santo Cannistra, Truck Driver, $50,380; Alex DeSilvio, Asst. Supervisor, $63,111; Charles Graziano, Truck Driver, $36,580; Douglas Horton, Truck Driver Heavy, $42,780; Michael Kerbowski, Truck Driver, $40,380; William Martinez, Laborer, $64,128; Orlando Medina, Truck Driver, $37.780; Scott Rivera, Department Head, $105,294; Robert Thornewell, Truck Driver Heavy, $44,080; Robert Vettese, Public Works Mgr., $106,991.


Utility: Isaias Aquilar, Truck Driver, $35,839; Gabe Divello, Truck Driver, $35,839.


Council also held the public hearing of Ordinance No. 001-2022 – Amending Chapter 48 Health Benefits.


According to the ordinance, the town of Hammonton will continue to “provide retiree health insurance benefits to non-union employees hired by the town as a full-time employee prior to January 1, 2014, who retire with 25 years or more of full-time service with the town, including premiums on their dependents, if any, subject to contributions by employees.”


“The town will provide retiree health insurance benefits to employees who retire at age 62 or older who have worked for the town for at least 15 years, provided the retiree pays a portion of the premium for such health insurance coverage,” the ordinance states.


The ordinance was adopted and published.


In other business, while presenting the report from the Administration Committee, Councilman Thomas Gribbin said that one of the front windows on the third floor of town hall was scheduled to be temporarily removed to allow for the delivery of “metal framing and sheet rock, which is going towards the renovation for Access Hammonton’s studio.”


“This is a phased renovation of this previously unfinished portion of town hall. As we all know, Access Hammonton provides residents with vital public safety and emergency notifications for our residents. As such, we’ll be seeking grant dollars to fund up to all associated costs with this project,” Gribbin said.


Under the Business and Industry Committee report, Councilman William Olivo gave updates on several local businesses.


“Exit 28 Boutique at 210 Bellevue Ave.—next to Casciano’s—is opening a women’s boutique, and plans to be open by May 1. That’s April Carnesale; she was originally involved in SaDee’s boutique, so we’re excited to have her back in town,” Olivo said.


Olivo also noted the arrival of Hand Me Gowns at 251 Bellevue Ave.


“This is a new business, handling second-hand wedding dresses, and it’s in the Ockap Building. They had their ribbon cutting on April 21, and they’re planning on opening on May 7. When we did that ribbon cutting on April 21, there was also Four K Nutrition, which is on Third Street, and Perhaps, in their new location on Bellevue Avenue,” Olivo said.


Olivo said two more ribbon-cutting ceremonies were scheduled for May.


“National Credit Systems, which is 245 Bellevue, and NB Advisors will be at 251 Bellevue—which is the Ockap building as well,” Olivo said.


Under the Quality of Life Committee report, Councilman Jonathan Oliva noted that the statewide ban on single-use plastics effective May 4.


“In New Jersey, retail stores, grocery stores and food services businesses will no longer be able to provide or sell single-use plastic carryout bags,” Oliva said.


Oliva said that ban also applies to polystyrene foam food service products or containers.


“Single-use paper carryout bags will be allowed, and will be able to be provided or sold by certain establishments. Most establishments will not be able to provide those types of bags, as well,” Oliva said.


Also during that report, Oliva said that he and Construction Department Head Anthony Berenato have been in discussions regarding a potential move from a submission process to a digital one for Hammonton Planning Board and construction matters.


“There certainly are some technical challenges to making that jump, and there’s also some things we would have to identify to see what taking that next step and that leap would look like,” Oliva said.


Oliva sought the mayor’s permission to assemble a team to investigate the various aspects of the project.


“What would be the technological lift, the financial lift, the training and resource lift to making that next step—not saying that we would, ultimately, take it, but at least identify what would the next steps be, and what would it mean for the town to move forward in that direction?” Oliva said.


DiDonato added another aspect.


“Also, staff would have to be able to handle that,” he said.


DiDonato asked Oliva if he wished to put that request in the form of a motion.


“This way, it’s just not one man’s approval; it’s approval from council to proceed?” DiDonato said.


Oliva agreed, and made the motion, which Gribbin seconded.


“I think the Admin committee should mesh in with that, and we should put an ad hoc committee together: Deputy Mayor Gribbin, yourself, and I’m going to volunteer Councilman Olivo—he’s on Admin also—and look into it and see what our capabilities are,” DiDonato told Oliva.


The motion passed.


While discussing the report from the Public Works and Transportation Committee, Councilman Sam Rodio said that crews have been working on Cedar Brook Stream.


“They’re doing a heck of a job. They’re in there; all they’re doing is pulling dead trees. They’re not touching any part of the stream itself, but we’re opening it up. We’ve been asking for some help,” Rodio said.


Rodio said that he was going to ask town Business Administrator Frank Zuber to send a letter to New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT), Atlantic County Mosquito Control, County Administrator Gerald DelRosso and “whoever else—maybe our county exec—wherever you want to send it.”


“We need some help. We’ve asked them over and over, and I’m tired of it. I think I asked them 10 years ago; there’s somebody sitting in the office that we asked 15 years ago,” Rodio said.


Councilman Steven Furgione suggested adding Atlantic County Fifth District Commissioner James Bertino to the list.


“We should also copy King—whatever he is—Torrissi over there, too,” Furgione said, referring to former Councilman Michael Torrissi.


Zuber offered clarification.


“Assemblyman,” Zuber said.


Furgione expressed his gratitude.


“Thank you. Assemblyman Torrissi. Everybody should be on the letter,” Furgione said.


Gribbin said that the maintenance of the stream is the responsibility of Atlantic County, and DiDonato explained further.


“The responsibility falls on three entities: it falls on the town of Hammonton, the county and the state. We should all be out there working hand-in-hand, in all honesty,” DiDonato said.


Public Works Manager Robert Vettese said that there was a fourth entity bearing responsibility: the property owners along the stream.


“There’s a lot of people that are dumping grass or branches and stuff like that. They could put the branches out on the dedicated day, so there’s no reason that they should be discharging any kind of waste near the stream corridors. Once everybody cooperates and does their part, it’ll go a long way to making that condition a lot better,” Vettese said.


Rodio noted that cooperation from the state was vital.


“Or, everything that we’ve done has meant nothing if they’re not going to help us north of the Pike,” Rodio said.


During the Law and Order Committee report, Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel said that, as of late, there are “less and less people driving courteously, abiding the signs, signals and rules of the road.”


“I would like to stress to our community members: please—please—heed the rules, because you won’t like what’s going to happen afterwards. I don’t want to make people unhappy by receiving motor vehicle summonses, but the more that we have people disregarding the rules which keep our community safe, the more we’re going to have to make sure that they’re being enforced,” Friel said.


Friel said that be believed that New Jersey ranks number two in fatalities.


“I want to see that definitely decrease, so we want to make sure that our community is safe and that our streets our safe,” Friel said.


During discussion, DiDonato commented on the matter, noting that he has been “begging people for the last couple of years to slow down.”


“Folks, we’re going to help you out now. You have a problem with your wallet; there’s too much money in it. We’re going to help you out with that. We’re going to write tickets. We’re going to make you pay more for your insurance. We’re going to do all the things you want to do. We’re going to help you out. We’re going to aggressively help you out. That’s good news, because it’s only going to cost you money. The better news is, we just saved your life,” DiDonato said.


Town Engineer Mark Herrmann—of Adams, Rehmann and Heggan Associates (ARH)—presented three action items to council during his report:


• Hammonton Bike Path Connector – Phase II (ARH No. P2022-0195): In Progress. The town has been awarded $745,000 from the NJDOT Bikeway Program, to continue the bike path along Veterans Way down Egg Harbor Road, to the Hammonton Lake Park. As part of the first phase, ARH had performed land surveying from 11th Street to the entrance to the Kathedral Event Center. In order to move forward with the design of the bike path, additional survey information is needed. ARH has prepared a proposal for the work for consideration and will submit a separate design proposal at a later date. Action Requested: Authorize ARH to perform the survey work for the Bike Path Connector, in the amount of $3,900.


• 11th Street Sidewalk Improvements (ARH No. P2022-0196): In Progress. The town has been awarded $265,000 from the NJDOT Safe Streets to Transit Program for a sidewalk and pedestrian improvements along 11th Street. The scope of the project is to improve the sidewalk from Egg Harbor Road to the new bike path crossing. In order to move forward with the design, additional survey information is needed. ARH prepared a proposal for this work for consideration and will submit a separate design proposal at a later date. Action Requested: Authorize ARH to perform the survey work for the 11th Street Sidewalk Improvement, in the amount of $5,390.


• 2021/2022 Water Capital Projects (ARH No. 11-30167): In Progress. The design along each roadway has been completed. ARH is coordinating with the Director of Public Works to finalize the scope of the options under consideration: Route 54, from First Road to Second Road; South First Road, from Tenth Street to the dead end in the vicinity of Birch Drive; and a portion of the water main at the White Horse Pike and an extension along Seagrove Avenue. The Director of Public Works has been in contact with the property owners along Rt. 54, to obtain utility easements to allow the proposed water main to be relocated outside of the road. ARH has prepared a proposal to survey the frontage along Rt. 54, from Second Road to First Road, and North Chew Road from Rt. 54 to N. First Road (approximately 1.2 miles). The work includes locating existing features and elevations within the easement area and preparing legal descriptions for each easement along the right-of-way. Once all easements are obtained, they will develop a proposal to revise the design plans. Action Requested: Authorize ARH to perform the survey work for the Rt. 54 Water Main project, in the amount of $43,100.


The action items were approved.


Herrmann’s report also contained the following information items of note:


• Octagon Oil/Vine Street Parking Lot (ARH No. 11-01060): In Progress. The lab results have been received and reviewed by our office. The Remedial Action Permit (RAP) has been submitted to NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection). No additional action is necessary at this time.


• K&K Linens Property / 224 Vine Street (ARH No. 11-01094.01): In Progress. A pre-construction meeting for the building demolition was held during the week of April 26. ARH has submitted the parking lot design plans to NJ Pinelands for Public Development approval. This project will require tight coordination between all involved due to the site conditions and permitting considerations.


• Mazza Muffler Site / 104 S. Egg Harbor Road (ARH No. 11-01102): In Progress. ARH is in the process of completing a proposal to complete the environmental grant work. In the meantime, ARH is working on finalizing the demolition documents so this activity can be publicly bid.


• Skinner Property / 317 N. Egg Harbor Road (ARH No. 11-01074.01): In Progress. ARH has reviewed the latest sampling results are performing additional research and coordination with their LSRP to determine the next best steps forward.


• Celona Site Remediation - 130 Railroad Avenue (ARH No. 11-01054): In Progress. ARH completed the receptor evaluation at the site and completed the remedial investigation report.


• Boyer Avenue Pump Station (ARH No. 11-50144): In progress. ARH has met with the Director of Public Works, and they have made minor design changes to the layout for discussion with the residents.


During his report, Town Solicitor Michael Malinsky said that, on April 10, he “provided counsel for the Board of Education the draft lease that was provided to everyone in closed.”


“This was the most recent red-line version that’s gone back and forth. As of 8:11 this evening, I’ve received no comments. It’s my understanding that the Board of Education wants the town to adopt the lease first,” Malinsky said.


Malinsky asked for a motion authorizing the mayor to execute the Hammonton Hawks Inc. and Hammonton Board of Education lease agreement commencing on May 1, 2022 for use of William T. Capella Field concession stand and the use of William T. Capella Field by the Hawks.


“It also includes tenant improvements that were previously made, some additional tenant improvements that will be made. It’s subject to the Hammonton Board of Education approval and adoption—and review of any changes provided by the Hammonton Board of Education by mayor and the solicitor, and approval by the mayor of those changes,” Malinsky said.


Councilman Edward Wuillermin made the motion, which Gribbin seconded.


Rodio said that the lease was “a great thing.”


“The Hawks don’t have to play in the outfield of a baseball field anymore. They can actually play on a football field. They’ve been a great addition to the town, to the schools, to the kids playing athletics and football,” Rodio said.


The motion carried.


Malinsky had another action item to present to council.


“[This] is a motion approving the mayor to execute the Cross River Fiber LLC right-of-way use agreement for the installation of fiber optic network and associated equipment in the municipal right-of-ways—an authorization subject to, of course, review of any changes by the mayor and solicitor, and approval of those changes by the mayor,” Malinsky said.


Oliva made the motion; Gribbin seconded the motion, which was carried.


During his report, Vettese gave an update on the Safe Routes to Schools program. He said that town officials met with representatives from Greenman-Pederson Inc. (GPI), who Vettese said was “the contractor that was hired and paid for by the state.”


“They came up with a conceptual plan for the layout of the curb and sidewalk along that stretch. This goes one side of North Street, one side of Fourth Street, one side of Walnut and one side of Old Forks Road. It basically connects the high school with the senior citizens, and all the way back to the elementary school,” Vettese said.


Vettese said that, in 2023, the Safe Routes to Schools program—which previously included kindergarten through eighth grade—will be expand to allow consideration for high schools.


“We’ll have to take a look and see what those standards are and what those requirements are. At one time, we had made an inquiry—maybe three or four years ago—that we could construct a sidewalk along the Road to Excellence from Fourth Street to Old Forks Road, because of the different events that are held at that particular complex—not just sporting events but different blueberry festivals and other things—that occur would allow that to also be used,” Vettese said.


Zuber presented the following items under the town clerk’s report:


• Approve AJ Berenato’s amended contract to include Fire Protection Sub code Official, Construction Official and Department Head.


• Accept retirement of Bob Bradbury from his position as Equipment Operator in the Highway Department effective as of August 1, 2022.


Accept resignation of Lisa Vitullo from her part time position in the Police Dispatch effective April 22, 2022.


The items were approved.


Zuber also gave an update about work being done at Hammonton Municipal Airport.


“They completed the project—the fence out there. They ripped the old one down, then tore out a bunch of bushes; Sam was out there Friday, and it was looking real good. We have some trees that we may take down,” Zuber said.


Rodio commented further.


“Speaking with Councilman Wuillermin and the mayor and Mr. Furgione, I think we’ll wait until the fall until actually the farmer’s done harvesting and all, and then we may come through and take out the last 10 or 15 trees. It wasn’t in the scope of the project. Take a ride; I’ll tell you what. The company that did it done an excellent job,” Rodio said.


Council also heard the introduction of Bond Ordinance No. 011-2022 – Utility Bond Ordinance Boyer Ave Drip Irrigation. This ordinance reappropriates $39,048.42 in excess bond proceeds from Bond Ordinance No. 008-2019.


• According to the ordinance, on the effective date of said bond, the town of Hammonton “issued bonds in the amount of $1,007,000 to fund the improvements or purposes authorized therein.”


“In accordance with the statutory powers set forth in section 39 of the Local Bond Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:2-1 et seq. (the ‘Local Bond Law’), the town council has determined that it is in the best interest of the town to reappropriate the excess proceeds to finance the cost of Boyer Avenue drip irrigation upgrades (the ‘New Purpose’), thereby alleviating the need to issue additional town debt to finance such current capital needs,” the ordinance states.


The ordinance passed introduction.


Council was scheduled to introduce Ordinance No. 012-2022 – Amend Article III of Chapter 204 Special Events License, but that ordinance was tabled.


Council entertained Resolution No. 053-2022, Authorizing Renewal of Conflict Liquor License. This resolution authorized the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to renew Plenary Retail Consumption License no. 0113 33 006 for DiDonato’s Bowling Center, held by Stephen DiDonato, at 1151 White Horse Pike.


DiDonato recused himself from the vote, over which Gribbin presided. The resolution passed.

Council also entertained the following resolutions:


• Resolution No. 054-2022, Authorize National Night Out on August 5 (with a rain date of August 6).


• Resolution No. 055-2022, Naming Scott Rivera as Certified Recycling Professional.


• Resolution No. 056-2022, Authorizing Tax-Water-Sewer Refunds.


• Resolution No. 057-2022, Various Refunds.


• Resolution No. 058-2022, Approve Expansion of Liquor License for Plenary Retail Consumption Liquor License number 0113-33-018-0009, by GB Liquors LLC for premises located at 104 Fairview.


• Resolution No. 061-2022, Adopting Hazard Mitigation Plan.


• Resolution No. 062-2022, Cancel Outstanding Checks Municipal Court.


• Resolution No. 063-2022, Proclaiming April 29 as Hammonton Arbor Day.


The resolutions were approved en masse.


During the meeting, Hammonton Environmental Commission Chair Dan Bachalis appeared twice before council. At the top of the meeting, Bachalis informed council of Hammonton’s designation as a Tree City USA for the second year in a row.


“The amount of funding that we applied to tree-related activities practically doubled over the past year, which included the planting of over 100 trees in our tree bank—50 trees in our tree bank—50 trees at the Moss Mill recreation complex, and, of course, the much-heralded Salem Oak that we received from the state,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis said that the town recently had a midway inspection from the Community Stewardship Incentive Program (CSIP) grant that provided the trees by two individuals from the NJDEP Forestry Service.


“They looked at all the trees in detail—every single one of them—and we found one tree out of the original 100 had not survived, which they said was a remarkable survival rate,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis said that, by the end of next year, a survival rate of 90 percent would be considered desirable.


“To be at 99 percent at this point in time, and all the other trees are thriving? I want to thank Bob Vettese. I want to thank Scott Rivera and all the folks at the public works department for planting and tending those trees; they take a special pride in the tree bank ... because it’s right in their yard. They do a fantastic job of it,” Bachalis said.


During the second public portion, Bachalis returned to the dais.


“I want to thank you for your positive vote declaring Arbor Day on Friday. The Environmental Commission is going to be getting a whole bunch of plants from the New Jersey Forest Service and distributing them to third-graders in town so we can help increase the canopy and beautify Hammonton as we go along,” Bachalis said.


Former business administrator/public works manager Jerry Barberio also addressed council during the second public portion of the meeting.


“I just wanted to come by and say ‘hello.’ I had some business in Gloucester County. It’s great to see everyone. It’s great to see our very experienced elder statesmen here, the two on the end. It’s very good to see Jonathan get involved as much as he is; that’s awesome, and congratulations,” Barberio said.


Barberio said that several things had changed since he moved from Hammonton to Mamaroneck, N.Y.


“Since I left, plastic bags are now illegal, and marijuana is legal, so that’s a little concerning. Sam always says—and has never changed—’I just have a quick minute,’ and then he goes on forever and ever and ever. But, it really is good to see everyone. I’m really coming by because I’ve never seen a 7-0 board here in this town hall; that’s pretty amazing, actually, so I’m very happy to see that,” Barberio said.


The next meeting of town council is scheduled for May 23 at 7 p.m. in town hall.