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ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — Some teachers and district employees are concerned about the district's decision to reopen schools with in-person learning on Tuesday, Sept. 8, amid the COVID pandemic. Their union representatives said the district is taking risks with students and staff that surrounding districts have decided to avoid.Chief among the concerns is lunchtime, when students will be taking off their masks to eat in areas with poor air flow and little time for cleaning, said officials with the Rockaway Township Educ...
ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP — Some teachers and district employees are concerned about the district's decision to reopen schools with in-person learning on Tuesday, Sept. 8, amid the COVID pandemic. Their union representatives said the district is taking risks with students and staff that surrounding districts have decided to avoid.
Chief among the concerns is lunchtime, when students will be taking off their masks to eat in areas with poor air flow and little time for cleaning, said officials with the Rockaway Township Education Association.
Some other districts opted for half-day schedules because of the risks that lunch presents.
The Rockaway Township decision to have students eat lunch in the school buildings "requires students to take off their masks for a period of time, which increases the transmission rate,” education association Co-president Tara VanOrden said at the Aug. 26 Board of Education meeting.
Of 263 members who responded to a survey, 88% said they were concerned about the reopening of the schools in person, said Brian Adams, the education association's co-president, whose group is a local affiliate of the National Education Association. It includes 470 district employees.
The employees, who include teachers, assistants and custodians, see masks taken off during lunch as a weakness in the district’s back-to-school plan. It’s a problem compounded by a lack of cleaning staff, a lack of time to clean, and poor air circulation and filtration, among other concerns, Adams and VanOrden said at the recent board meeting.
Superintendent Peter Turnamian said the district's HVAC systems are fully functional and “far ahead of many other districts in being able to ensure proper humidity and temperature levels as well as air flow,” including in cafeteria spaces, “thereby addressing the concerns that were raised" by the union.
“To further address the concerns raised we adjusted duty assignments to increase the level of supervision during all lunch periods which will further ensure proper social distancing is maintained," Turnamian said in an email. "Furthermore, working in partnership with the RTEA the district doubled the amount of custodial staff in each school building during lunch periods to ensure proper sanitation will be maintained throughout the school day.”
So far, the state has approved reopening plans for 545 school districts, charter schools and private schools, Gov. Phil Murphy said at a press briefing on Wednesday. Of those, 328 were hybrid plans with some online and some in-person learning, 150 were completely remote learning until a designated time later to go to in-person, 50 were completely in-person, and 17 were some combination of those options across schools within a district.
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Rockaway Township union officials have said there’s still not enough time or personnel to clean the district’s five elementary schools and one middle school after meals. They also argued that being able to adjust temperature, humidity levels and air flow doesn’t eliminate the risk. The district’s systems are unable to accommodate higher filter efficiency — the kind of filters recommended by the CDC with respect to coronavirus, the union officials said.
“Ultimately, our district’s ventilation system is not able to provide the necessary filtration according to the CDC to protect students and staff from the virus," Adams said. "Is this inadequacy really a risk that we are willing to take?”
Other Morris County school districts have decided to forgo full days in order to avoid lunch periods. By the Rockaway Township union’s count, 75% of Morris County districts deemed lunchtime “an unnecessary risk,” VanOrden said, noting that Morris Hills Regional, Denville and Rockaway Borough have implemented half-day schedules.
Each of the Rockaway Township district schools will present its own challenges, union leaders said. For instance, Copeland Middle School students will be eating in the cafeteria broken up into two cohorts, which will reduce the student population by 50% for the sake of social distancing. Students will be spread out, according to guidelines. But there are no windows in the space. These students will be changing classes every 30 to 50 minutes, and the district will rely on custodial staff to clean after lunches, and teachers and assistants to clean between classes while also supervising the students to ensure that social distancing occurs in the halls, VanOrden said.
Elementary school students will eat in their classrooms, where they will spend most of the day. Teachers and assistants will be responsible for cleaning these spaces, Adams said.
Turnamian would not answer direct questions about custodial staff.
Resident Rick Sedivec said he is keeping an open mind, but watching cautiously.
“Indoor dining was approved as of Friday in New Jersey, but outdoor activity is considered lower risk of exposure," Sedivec said. "In school I expect a safe place for our children — teachers, too — to eat. It is too early to know if the indoor eating guidelines are effective.”
Gene Myers is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
ROCKAWAY BOROUGH — Years of planning and $2 million later, borough officials are celebrating the completion of the Parks Lake project.The lake, also known as Fox Pond, is used by residents of Rockaway Borough and Rockway Township, but the renovations were completed only on the borough side, as the municipalities didn't see eye to eye on how to pay for the dredging portion of the project, the removal of sediment and debris from the bottom of the lake"For the past seven years we've been trying to sock aw...
ROCKAWAY BOROUGH — Years of planning and $2 million later, borough officials are celebrating the completion of the Parks Lake project.
The lake, also known as Fox Pond, is used by residents of Rockaway Borough and Rockway Township, but the renovations were completed only on the borough side, as the municipalities didn't see eye to eye on how to pay for the dredging portion of the project, the removal of sediment and debris from the bottom of the lake
"For the past seven years we've been trying to sock away money for this project," said borough Mayor Tom Mulligan. "At this time, Rockaway Township had other prioritization, so they didn't participate in the dredging of the lake."
Borough officials closed out the project last Friday with an estimated cost of $2 million. Work included replacement of the dam, dredging the Rockaway Borough side of the lake and extending the beach area. The walking path by the dam and the beach was also repaved.
Rockaway Township Mayor Mike Puzio said they expect renovations and improvements on their side of the lake to happen by next year. They are currently drafting up plans with township engineers.
" I had to make some tough choices in terms of what the residents were going to get the most use out of," Puzio said. "We are planning on doing our section [of Park Lake], our gazebo side and improving the landscape."
Residents in the area use Parks Lake for swimming and fishing, and it includes a 0.7-mile walkway around the lake. More than 10 years ago, the state's Department of Environmental Protection informed the municipality that the dam needed to be replaced, Mulligan said.
"So we've had over 10 years of planning, reengineering, property acquisition," Mulligan added. "We were putting money in our budget every year to cover, pretty much, the cost of this project."
The Rockaway Township side of the lake includes a gazebo and needs renovations, according to the DEP. In February 2020, borough officials asked the neighboring township to financially contribute to the dredging. Township officials told them they had other financial priorities, officials said.
"We were hoping to have the opportunity to dredge with them, since we had all the permits in place," Mulligan said.
DEP permits were obtained and they were “a considerable expense” for the borough. The permit to lower the lake's water was valid between Aug. 31 and Sept. 31.
The two municipalities split costs for other shared services, including garbage and snow removal and portable toilet rentals for the lake. Officials from both municipalities have been meeting since 2018 to discuss the project. The renovation portion of the project lasted almost a year. Mulligan said there was a lot of frustration from residents and households along the area who were not able to use it.
"But since we're done, they're all smiles," Mulligan added.
With the Parks Lake project completed, the borough will focus on residential and business construction, including a 72-unit senior housing project on West Main Street.
Jessie Gomez is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com and NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Location: Rockaway Borough Fireman’s FieldAddress: 144 Beach Street, Rockaway, 07866Event Date: 07/29/2023Event Time: 11:00 am - 7:00 pmEvent Description:The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival takes place on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at Firemans Field in Rockaway. The event is from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm. Admission is $5, but kids under 5 can attend for free. ...
Location: Rockaway Borough Fireman’s Field
Address: 144 Beach Street, Rockaway, 07866
Event Date: 07/29/2023
Event Time: 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival takes place on Saturday, July 29, 2023 at Firemans Field in Rockaway. The event is from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm. Admission is $5, but kids under 5 can attend for free. Visit the Just Jersey Fest website to learn more about this event.
The Rockaway Borough Food Truck & Music Festival offers up to 15 food trucks and music all day. Dogs are welcome at this event. Tickets for the festival are available on-site. Follow Just Jersey Fest on Facebook for event updates and more details.
Every Just Jersey Fest festival is guaranteed to feature over 20 gourmet food trucks per event. In addition, all festivals are kid friendly and many events are dog friendly as well. (It’s best to check with each event for more info about rules regarding pets.) Other benefits of Just Just Fest Events include craft beer, sangria, and margarita bars. Plus, all events feature either a live band performance or a DJ.
Just Jersey Fest does ask guests to bring their own blankets or chairs, as they do not provide seating. Likewise, they do not permit outside food, drinks, or coolers. (Food and refreshments are available for sale at every event.) Finally, Just Jersey Fest asks all attendees to consider bringing a non-perishable canned or boxed item for donation. These donations are provided to local food pantrys.
Allison Kohler is the president of both Just Jersey Fest and JMK Shows. With over 35 years of experience in event promotion, she is the premier event organizer for food truck festivals. She also organizes the Big Brew Beer Festival, Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown, Taco Palooza, and many other local festivals.
Upcoming Events at Rockaway Borough Fireman’s Field:
ROCKAWAY TWP. — A Rockaway Borough man was convicted Thursday on multiple charges related to two incidents involving children at a mall in the neighboring township more than six years ago, according to a release issued Monday by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.Kyriakos Serghides, 41, was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, attempted kidnapping, and luring, along with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, in connection with the two encounters that took place in August and Sept...
ROCKAWAY TWP. — A Rockaway Borough man was convicted Thursday on multiple charges related to two incidents involving children at a mall in the neighboring township more than six years ago, according to a release issued Monday by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.
Kyriakos Serghides, 41, was found guilty of second-degree sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, attempted kidnapping, and luring, along with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, in connection with the two encounters that took place in August and September 2015 at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, the MCPO said.
Serghides was arrested on Sept. 11, 2015, a day after the second incident.
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In the first, prosecutors said, he was alleged to have touched the private area of a then-5-year-old boy inside the mall's food court restroom. And in the second, he was accused of luring another then-5-year-old, and attempting to leave the Target store at the mall with him.
The release said that Serghides was acquitted of third-degree terroristic threats and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 25, although the MCPO did not give any indication as to what his maximum sentence might be given the combination of charges.
So what's a "brew pub"?
According to Thompson Island's Article on the differences between a craft brewery, microbrewery, brewpub & gastropub, it says:
"A brewpub is a hybrid between a restaurant and a brewery. It sells at least 25% of its beer on-site in combination with significant food services. At a brewpub, the beer is primarily brewed for sale inside the restaurant or bar. Where it's legally allowed, brewpubs may sell beer to go or distribute it to some offsite destinations."
New Jersey has tons of Brewpubs, some of which have been around for years and some that have just opened in the past year.
Here is a full list of the 21 brewpubs in New Jersey according to New Jersey Craft Beer:
Gallery Credit: Jordan Jansson
Avalon Brew Pub Google Maps
Harvest Moon Brewery and Café Google Maps
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant Google Maps
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant Google Maps
Descendants Brewing Company Google Maps
Trap Rock Restaurant and Brewery Google Maps
Artisan's Restaurant & Brewery Google Maps
Ark Brewery, Restaurant & Pub Google Maps
The Whitechapel Projects Google Maps
Buck Hill Brewery Google Maps
Birravino Google Maps
Beach Haus Brewery Google Maps
Village Brewing Company Google Maps
Long Valley Brew Pub at Restaurant Village Facebook
Triumph Brewing Company Google Maps
Krogh’s Restaurant & Brew Pub Google Maps
Mudhen Brewing Co Google Maps
J.J. Bitting Brewing Company Facebook
Gaslight Brewery Google Maps
Galaxy Veronica Mave Skolsky was not the first baby of 2023 to be born in Morris County. But her unscheduled and expedited arrival early Sunday morning certainly started the new year with a bang for her stunned family in Rockaway Township.Jennifer Skolsky went to bed early on New Year's Eve, feeling the discomfort of a pregnancy that was expec...
Galaxy Veronica Mave Skolsky was not the first baby of 2023 to be born in Morris County. But her unscheduled and expedited arrival early Sunday morning certainly started the new year with a bang for her stunned family in Rockaway Township.
Jennifer Skolsky went to bed early on New Year's Eve, feeling the discomfort of a pregnancy that was expected to conclude on Jan. 10. Waking the next morning to contractions at 6:50 a.m., she realized she would soon give birth.
Less than an hour later, while in the bathroom, "I stepped away from the toilet and reached down and held her head as my body expelled her into my hands," Skolsky said. "It was easy and painless. I pulled her up to me as Kyle [her husband] rushed over to wrap us in a towel."
The plan had been for Skolsky to deliver her third child at the Mount Olive birthing center of Midwives of Morris County, which had also delivered her daughter. But as her water broke and contractions intensified, Skolsky knew they would not make it in time from their home in the White Meadow Lake neighborhood.
"She hardly cried, but whimpered enough to let me know she was breathing clearly," Skolsky said. "She was a beautiful pink color and latched easily."
Rockaway EMTs arrived to check on the mother and her 7-pound, 15-ounce, 19.5-inch child. They stayed with them until the midwife arrived.
Her husband, Kyle, summed up his response in one word: "Panic."
"I was in full panic mode," he continued. "Jen was yelling from the other room, 'The baby's coming now!' I literally opened the door and the baby was delivered. The baby flew out of her and she caught her in the air literally as I opened the door to the bathroom. It was crazy."
He finally relaxed when he saw that the baby was moving and eventually made a little whimper.
"She opened her eyes and was moving around, and started nursing right away, so I figured she was OK," he said.
His wife was OK, too.
"The adrenaline made me feel like I could run a marathon right after," Jennifer Skolsky said. "I still feel great."
The family, including Jennifer's son, Anikan, 10, and daughter Journie, 7, remained home for the remainder of the holiday weekend. By Tuesday, the couple were back to work as a real estate sales team for Century 21 Christel Realty in Rockaway.
"Because we are partners and work together, we never really stop," Jennifer Skolsky said. "I can do most of my work from home, and my husband can go out on appointments."
Galaxy Veronica Mave, quick to arrive, has already gained a nickname as well.
"A book we were reading had a name, 'Galaxy,' which was unique but had a more common nickname, 'Alex,' which we thought was cool," Kyle Skolsky said. "We came up with the nickname Lexi, which we like a lot."
For the record, at least one new baby beat Lexi into the new year in Morris County: a girl born at 12:31 a.m. on New Year's Day at Morristown Medical Center. Mother Vinoschandrika Gnanasekaran and father Sri Harsha Bokka of Budd Lake have not yet named their new child.
Saint Clare's Hospital in Denville did not immediately respond to an inquiry about its first baby of 2023.
William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.