Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of presenting two outstanding Sussex County seniors with certificates of achievement for their public service to their neighbors in the seniors community and throughout Sussex: Carol Jean Steffy of Hamburg and Ann Zeek of Sparta.
Jean is a lifelong resident of Hamburg and an invaluable part of that community. She helped to found the Hamburg Seniors and serves as its treasurer. She works with the County TRIAD group, Senior Services' Earth Angel project, and the Hamburg Historical Society. Her reputation for personal generosity is as widespread as her acts of neighborly compassion. Jean was awarded the Board of Chosen Freeholders Edna O'Connor Senior of the Year Award.
Ann received the Senior Quality of Life Foundation Senior of the Year Award for her spirit of selflessness, friendship, and community at Knoll Heights Village in Sparta. She is a volunteer driver for her neighbors, taking them to doctors' appointments, church, and anywhere else they need to go. It is said that she turns the stress of a trip to the doctor into a pleasant social visit by her easy and friendly manner.
The awards ceremony was also an opportunity for me to again thank Mary Lou McCutcheon for her tremendous service to Sussex's seniors as she retires from her 15 years of work at the County Office on Aging and then at the Division of Senior Services. In addition to her service within Sussex County, Mary Lou was also recognized for her dedication to seniors when she was appointed by the Governor to be part of the New Jersey delegation to attend the White House Conference on Aging last year. She will be dearly missed by the seniors she has been serving for so long.
It is always a privilege to recognize people like Mary Lou, Jean, and Ann for their public service. It is people like these women who make our townships and boroughs and cities real communities, not just geography.
Member of Congress
ISSUE OF THE WEEK: PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT IN NEW JERSEY'S FIFTH DISTRICT
Last week, I had the honor of presenting nearly $300,000 in U.S. EPA funds to the Greenwood Lake Commission in West Milford in Passaic County. I had secured the funds in the Fiscal Year 2006 appropriations bill for the EPA to aid in efforts to clean up the Lake and restore it to its formerly pristine state.
Greenwood Lake, which straddles the New Jersey-New York state line, is not only one of New Jersey's great treasures, but it has also long been a magnet for regional tourists who come to the Lake to participate in water sports, camping, fishing, and more. But in recent years, the Lake has become choked by a weed typically indigenous to North Africa, Asia, and Europe. The overgrowth of weeds has reduced tourist use of the Lake, which impacts the 300 or so employees whose marinas, restaurants, and lakeside businesses rely directly on the Lake as well as the multitude of local businesses that benefit indirectly. The overgrowth also threatens this marine habitat.
The funds I secured will be used to advance efforts by the Greenwood Lake Commission, Township of West Milford, and Passaic County to clean up the Lake
I also hosted a very informative briefing last week with the U.S. EPA in Warren County to discuss progress in the clean-up of the Pohatcong Valley Superfund site. This groundwater and soil contamination site was first discovered in the late 1970s and was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. It covers nearly nine miles of rural, industrial, commercial, municipal, farm, and residential land in Washington Township and Borough and Franklin Township.
On Monday, the EPA announced the remedy choice for a portion of the site. The plan is to pump out contaminated water and use air stripping to remove the chemical contaminants. Approximately 12,000 used public and private wells within three miles of the site. The EPA has connected most to public water systems, and continues to connect people at their request. But, much work remains to be done to complete the clean-up.
I was pleased to work with local elected leaders, such as Warren County Freeholder Director Everett Chamberlain, Franklin Township Mayor Larry Adams, and Washington Township Mayor Dave Dempski, as well as members of the Warren County Environmental Commission to set up this briefing with the Superfund experts at EPA's Region II office. And, I look forward to continuing to work with them on the continued clean up efforts at the Pohatcong Valley Superfund site.
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