North Jersey News Roundup for March 9, 2021

Teachers and childcare providers COVID-19 vaccine eligibility was moved up by 10 days in New Jersey. Originally scheduled to be eligible on March 15, educators became eligible immediately on March 5 in order to fulfill the mandate made by President Joe Biden, stated Gov. Phil Murphy. The move falls in line with President Biden’s call on March 2 for educators to be vaccinated with his goal of getting at least the first shot to all teachers by the end of March. 

High Point Regional High School suspended all in-person instruction and student activities until March 22. High Point Regional High School, serving Wantage, Branchville, Frankford, Lafayette, Montague and Sussex Borough, switched to online schooling after officials were informed by the Sussex County Department of Health to close due to the recent increase in coronavirus positive cases within the High Point community.

A survey is being circulated in Mountain Lakes to chart the course of public school students for the rest of the school year. The district is  asking families to choose their preference for online schooling, in-person instruction or a hybrid model of instruction to guide the district’s decisions about the transition to Phase 2 of its Restart and Reentry Plan. New Jersey Herald

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for vaccinated people, saying those who have received their COVID-19 shot can socialize with other fully vaccinated individuals indoors without wearing masks or social distancing. The CDC said vaccinated people should continue to adhere to public health restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing while in public, particularly while visiting unvaccinated individuals. The New York Times

The gloves are off in the battle to be the GOP nominee to replace the late State Sen. Gerald Cardinale in the 39th Legislative District. Assembly colleagues Robert Auth and Holly Schepisi traded barbs last week after Auth announced his intentions to remain in the race after a deal to back Schepisi for the seat fell through. “Assemblywoman Schepisi never goes to county committee meetings, never goes to town council meetings and never campaigns for fellow Republicans,” Auth said. “It’s all about Holly.” Schepisi shot back that Auth’s waffling “shows such a lack of leadership. It shows such a lack of honesty. It shows a lack of ability to make a decision. He put out this negative letter claiming that he had been pressured and it was some sort of ambush. (That is) the furthest thing from the truth.” 

Gov. Phil Murphy said he is supportive of legislators’ efforts pushing to change a new law preventing police from notifying juveniles’ parents the first time they are caught with marijuana or alcohol. The law signed in February removed all criminal penalties and fines for such offenses, replacing them with escalating warnings. The law currently allows the first warning going to the juvenile only, the second to a parent and the third as a referral to drug education or treatment programs.

Paterson city officials collected their first medical marijuana tax payment from the cannabis dispensary operating on Route 20. The check, totalling $50,514 issued, covered the 2% transfer tax on medical marijuana sales at the business for November and December in 2020. The Record

New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Jaynee LaVecchia announced she will retire Aug. 31. LaVecchia, appointed by Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman,  is the court’s sole independent voter, though she is viewed as a conservative justice. Should Gov. Phil Murphy nominate a liberal justice and win confirmation from the State Senate, the appointment would give liberals a 4-3 majority on the court. PoliticoNJ

Saddle Brook Police Chief Robert Kugler was charged with official misconduct for allegedly ordering officers under his command to provide escorts while on-duty for the funeral home he owns, Kugler Funeral Home. Kugler, was charged with conspiracy and corruption of public resources, as the attorney general’s office found between January 2019 and August 2020 subordinate police officers were ordered to perform police escorts for funerals from Kugler’s funeral home using police vehicles, violating a town ordinance banning the use of police vehicles for escorts unless for the local government or non-profit organizations. News12 New Jersey

A federal judge dismissed a civil rights lawsuit filed by a city resident against a Paterson police sergeant who has been indicted on criminal charges in an unrelated FBI probe. The case involved an August 2018 incident in which Sgt. Michael Cheff, responded to a Governor Street shooting scene where bullets struck parked vehicles and shell casings were strewn on the ground, but no one was injured. David Legriere claimed in his lawsuit that Cheff falsely arrested him and then used excessive force on him when Legriere tried to go to his home, which was within the crime scene. The Record

The Amtrak Inspector General is auditing the Gateway Tunnel project in advance of what could be federal approval for the long-awaited construction job this year. The government watchdog said the project had “reached a phase where they are appropriate to audit to help ensure the company is positioning itself for successful implementation.” Amtrak and the New Jersey and New York transportation agencies plan to build two new tracks under the Hudson River and then close the existing tubes to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation has spent more than $120 million on winter operations to keep state highways safe for motorists, almost three times what was needed for the same purpose during the 2019-2020 winter season. To cover the increase in spending this winter on items including rock salt and brine, the Murphy administration is planning to add $95 million onto what was originally earmarked for winter operations. NJ Spotlight News

Rep. Mikie Sherrill recently introduced a package of bipartisan legislation to address flooding problems in the U.S., the most common and widespread of all weather-related disasters. The Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support (FLOODS) Act would create a National Integrated Flood Information System designed to coordinate and integrate research on top of what is provided at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation (PRECIP) Act would update out-of-date data in the U.S. by providing NOAA with funding to collect and conduct data studies. 

New Jersey’s smallest businesses, childcare centers, restaurants and nonprofits suffering from a year of business disruptions could receive $100 million in aid, under a bill package that cleared a state Assembly committee March 8. The suite of five bills would set aside federal funds for employers in these sectors, including $25 million for microbusinesses, $35 million for bars and restaurants, $10 million for daycares, $15 million for arts and culture organizations and $15 million to other businesses and nonprofits.

Morristown’s planning board failed to review a court-ordered development application, claims a lawsuit filed by the developer. Real estate developer Silverman Group filed a second lawsuit against the town’s Planning Board for failure to review its application to build new office space 120 days after the court ordered it to do so last September. The developer filed the initial lawsuit against the town in April 2020 claiming officials made “disparaging remarks” and stopped plans to build office space downtown for multinational professional services company Deloitte. The Daily Record

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District Board of Education voted 5-4 to approve the new mascots at both schools. Pascack Valley will change its name from Indians to Panthers and Pascack Hills from Cowboys to Broncos. In June 2020, the board voted to retire the Indians mascot at Pascack Valley, due to concern about the offensive connotations of the name and Cowboys at Pascack Hills for not being gender inclusive.The Record

Bergen County is teaming up with EZ Ride to help seniors rides to their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. The rides will be arranged through companies such as Lyft and Uber, under a program known as Ryde4Life, which is part of the EZ Ride network. The program will be coordinated through the Bergen County Division of Community Transportation and the Division of Senior Services. News12 New Jersey

And finally…Teaneck Road Hot Bagels was recently listed as of the 50 best bagel shops in the United States by Food and Wine Magazine.

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