Press Releases


Tips for Morris County Residents to Reduce Encounters with Black Bears

Monday, July 6, 2015

With summer outdoor season in full bloom, with residents hiking and biking through Morris County’s abundant natural areas, and many residents grilling and picnicking on a regular basis, it’s a good time to remember some key rules about dealing with the county’s population of black bears, which are sharing the woods and trails, and are more than happy to share a burger or hot dog from your outdoor grill at this time of year.
 
Photo Credit: NJ DEP

Black bears, which are the largest land mammal in New Jersey, are commonly found in many areas of northern and western Morris County, which is considered part of “bear country’’ by the state Department of Environmental Protection. 

Bears are attracted by odors from potential food sources created by people. Carefully controlling these sources of food and associated odors can help prevent black bears from being attracted to people's property and teaching them to associate people with food. 

The most common bear problem county residents experience is black bears getting into their garbage. Bears are attracted to neighborhoods by garbage odors, so properly securing your garbage is one of the best ways to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance in your community, according to the DEP. 

Residents are encouraged to work within their community to make sure all garbage is secured and kept away from bears. For tips on proper garbage management and coexisting with bears, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts_avoid.htm. That site offer tips for homeowners, farmers, municipalities and outdoor enthusiasts. 

The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife offers some common sense tips to minimize conflicts with bears this summer, especially if you live in areas of Morris County that are regularly frequented by bears:
 
  • Secure your trash and eliminate obvious sources of food, such as pet food on decks, easy-to-reach bird feeders, or food residues left in barbecue grills.
  • Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers if possible. Otherwise, store all garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and place them along the inside walls of your garage, or in the basement, a sturdy shed or other secure area.
  • Wash garbage containers frequently with a disinfectant solution to remove odors. Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.
  •  Avoid feeding birds when bears are active. If you choose to feed birds, do so during daylight hours only and bring feeders indoors at night. Suspend birdfeeders from a free-hanging wire, making sure they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
  • Immediately remove all uneaten food and food bowls used by pets fed outdoors.
  • Clean outdoor grills and utensils to remove food and grease residue. Store grills securely.
  • Do not place meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
  • Remove fruit or nuts that fall from trees in your yard.
  • Install electric fencing as an effective way to protect crops, beehives and livestock.
If you encounter a bear that is standing its ground, remain calm and do not run. Make sure the bear has an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak with a low, assertive voice.
 
Report bear damage, nuisance behavior or aggressive bears to the Wildlife Control Unit of the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908) 735-8793. During evenings and weekends, residents should call their local police department or the DEP Hotline at 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337).


Freeholders Authorize New Assessment of Operations at Morris View Healthcare Center

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Morris County Freeholders have authorized a new assessment of operations at the county owned Morris View Healthcare Center, to look for potential costs savings for taxpayers while also seeking to  continued quality care for patients.

The county administration will issue a Request for Proposals in July for a health care consultant to undertake the latest review of the healthcare center, which is located in Morris Township. The consultant will be chosen later this summer, with a review expected to take about two months.

Morris County Administrator John Bonanni and Morris County Human Services Director Jennifer Carpinteri have briefed the Morris View Advisory Council and patients’ family members on the planned review. An explanatory letter also has been sent to all family members

Expected reductions in future Medicaid reimbursements and a possible 2016 loss of state “peer grouping’’ funding (established by the state to help county nursing homes offset costs that private facilities don’t face, such as pensions for their public workers), combined with federal and state government policies that have led to a move away from placing patients in more costly long-term nursing care, have made it essential for the county to take a thorough look at Morris View.

As a result, the freeholders have decided to undertake an operations and options analysis at the 283-bed facility, to ensure that the current high quality of care is maintained and/or improved for residents while providing the county with options aimed at meeting current and future budget requirements.

“We need to be fully educated to allow us to make the best, most informed decisions when it comes to the future of Morris View, which has long been a valuable asset to our community,’’ said Freeholder Hank Lyon, who is the county governing board’s liaison to Morris View. “We aren’t going into this review with any preconceived notions but, in order to have a meaningful review, we have to put every possibility on the table.’’  

“We certainly are not going to do anything that should alarm patients and their families, nor the very dedicated staff at Morris View,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “But there is a definite need for a thorough information update, especially as we face some important changes in Medicaid funding that could affect future revenues at Morris View.

Since 2005, Morris County has commissioned independent consultants and experts to perform various analyses of the facility and make recommendations, the last one being done in 2010. They have resulted in improved and more efficient and cost-effective operations at Morris View. 

Resultant changes have included outsourcing of housekeeping, laundry, dietary and other services, an increase in census and Medicare A revenues, implementation of management efficiencies, a reduction of overtime, and less reliance on nurses from outside agencies to staff the facility. 

The freeholders voted 6-1 to hire a consultant, with Freeholder John Cesaro dissenting.

As part of the review, the consultant will be asked to examine how other New Jersey counties have handled their nursing homes and take a detailed look at data from previous studies done for Morris County. All steps of the review process, starting at the RFP process, will include participation by the Morris View Advisory Committee, including family members, stressed county officials.

“We are taking a collaborative approach,’’ said Carpinteri. “This will be a true partnership with family members involved in the process. And it’s important to stress that whatever steps are taken will ensure that we maintain or improve our current high quality of care for our patients.’’

Morris View Healthcare Center provides a diverse level of care for those in need of short-term medical, therapeutic and continuous care within the skilled nursing setting

The 2015 budget for Morris View is about $21 million, with $5.8 million paid by taxpayers, who subsidize the facility. The facility has 283 licensed beds and is currently operating near capacity.


Freeholders Approve Buyouts of Flood-Prone Lincoln Park Homes

The Morris County Freeholders have approved a $416,000 grant allocation to buyout four more flood-threatened residential properties in the Lincoln Park under the county’s innovative Flood Mitigation Program, which has previously approved $4.5 million to partially fund purchases of 51 homes in seven towns.


The goal of the program, which currently has more than 40 pending projects in six municipalities, is to help towns secure flood-prone properties from willing sellers and convert the sites to permanently preserved open space, which naturally captures and absorbs flood water. 

Additionally, these acquisitions lower municipal costs. Every project is subject to a detailed benefit-cost analysis based on FEMA computer models. On average, these Morris County projects have yielded a 7:1 benefit cost ratio (for every $1 spent by the county, there are $7 in benefits to the towns and county).

“Most importantly, we are helping to get county residents out of harm’s way in places that are likely to be struck by floods in the future,’’ said Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo.

“It also eases the burdens on first responders, who are called upon to rescue threatened families from flood water, and helps protects other nearby homes and businesses from subsequent flooding,’’ added Freeholder John Cesaro, who is the county governing board’s liaison on open space issues.  

The county program supplements state and federal flood buyouts programs.

The freeholders voted 7-0 to approve the allocation for the Lincoln Park properties at the board’s June 24 meeting. Approval was based on the recommendations of the Morris County Flood Mitigation Committee, which reviewed the applications. With this final approval, Lincoln Park may now proceed to closing on these properties, located on President Street, Midwood Road, Riveredge Road, and Pequannock Avenue

The board established the Flood Mitigation Program in 2012 in response to increased, repetitive flooding in the county, especially the excessive flooding caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011. It is an expansion of the Morris County Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation Trust, and is funded by the county’s open space tax. 

As flood insurance rates rise significantly due to recent federal legislation, more homeowners are considering flood buyouts as an escape from destructive, repetitive flooding and the increasing cost of home ownership in the floodplains. In 2014, the average flood insurance policy nationwide cost $468; in 2015 this cost jumped to $708. As federal subsidies for flood insurance gradually diminish to zero, insurance premiums will continue to rise until they reach their true actuarial risk.

The Morris County Flood Mitigation Program was the first program at the county level in New Jersey dedicated to acquiring flood-prone homes and land. It was honored by the state DEP with a 2014 Governor's Environmental Excellence Award.

According to Jennifer McCulloch, coordinator of the Flood Mitigation Program, the program is structured with two basic funding tracks. The “MATCH Program’’ provides a 25 percent county match for projects already underway with agencies, such as Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or DEP’s Blue Acres Program,

The second funding track, or “CORE Program,” is designed to catch homes that have fallen through other agency’s funding nets, with Morris County providing up to 75 percent of the acquisition cost.   

So far, the county has provided grant funding for buyouts in Boonton, Denville, Lincoln Park, Morristown, Parsippany, Pequannock and Riverdale. Funds have been approved pending acquisitions in Long Hill, as well.

Grant applications are considered from municipalities only for acquisition of flood-affected residences from willing sellers. All county funds go directly to municipalities, which purchase the properties and must maintain the land as public open space in perpetuity, said McCulloch.

Additional information is available at http://www.morrispreservation.com, or by calling 973-829-8120.  


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