NEWTON – Sussex County’s Board of Chosen Freeholders went on record Wednesday urging the New Jersey Senate to probe the state’s actions, inactions and other issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The entire resolution was read into the record by Freeholder Herb Yardley.
The statement is in support of what the Senate has called a “Review and Recovery Committee,” with the intent to identify both government and social problems “cause, exposed or made worse” by the pandemic and to make recommendation to “address immediate problems, prevent them from reoccurring and to develop long-range improvements.”
Some critics of state government’s handling of the pandemic center on how much power is in the hands of the governor, in this case Democrat Phil Murphy, to govern by executive order with no oversight by the Legislature. Defenders of that power note that often quick action must be taken.
The resolution notes that state Sen. Steve Oroho, whose district includes Sussex County where he is a former freeholder, had called for hearings on many of the governor’s orders. The resolution also points out that a majority of the county’s 195 deaths occurred at long-term care and nursing homes, one of the targets of the special committee’s investigation.
Also part of the committee’s charge is deaths at the state’s own facilities, including prisons, the “disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minorities,” and the fiscal impact on state and local governments.
The committee is also being asked to look at the “breakdown of the state’s unemployment system.”
The pandemic has also affected this year’s efforts in the battle with water quality in Lake Hopatcong. Marty Kane and Colleen Lyons spoke about efforts made this year by the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Lake Hopatcong Foundation.
Because of the pandemic, and a fatal accident involving a weed harvester earlier this summer, there will be little to no use of the big harvesters, they said, although there may be an effort to use some of the state grant money to hire private contractors to work in critical areas.
Kane said there is to be a meeting this week to discuss the idea of introducing sterile grass carp into parts of the lake. The fish feed on the lakes weeds, but have been sterilized so they will not be able to breed.
They also talked about the possibility of finding an area to “de-water” the weeds when they are harvested. Because a large percentage of the plants are water, drying them out will decrease the weight so it will be economically feasible to dispose of the dried material at either the Morris or Sussex county landfills.
In other news, the Newton Council at its meeting earlier this month, said it wanted to discuss the responsibility of providing security at the Newton Green, the county-owned park which has been covered by the town’s police department.
However, with a surge in rallies and demonstrations in the park – which has seen such gatherings since colonial times…