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Latest News in Rockaway Township, NJ

Morris County voters face long delays due to machine shortages, printer problems

Morris County spent nearly $5 million this year to replace its 20-year-old voting machines. But some of those machines rolled out to local precincts for Election Day are malfunctioning, poll workers say, while another town is struggling to accommodate a large voter turnout with half the complement of v...

Morris County spent nearly $5 million this year to replace its 20-year-old voting machines. But some of those machines rolled out to local precincts for Election Day are malfunctioning, poll workers say, while another town is struggling to accommodate a large voter turnout with half the complement of voting machines they have received in the past.

Chester Township Council President Michael Inganamort, on the ballot this year for mayor, said he was "concerned" about waiting times of more than 90 minutes for District 2 and 3 voting this morning at Town Hall.

He blamed the delays on the township receiving only one machine for each of its five voting districts instead of the usual two. The lines eased after lunch, he said, but he worried the lines would return "after the whistle blows at 5 p.m."

Elsewhere in Morris County, printer problems appeared persistent on three of five voting machines at Dennis O’Brien School in Rockaway Township. The staff was seen banging on the printers to get the long ballot receipts out and said they were hearing "it was happening all over the county."

The Morris County Board of Elections did not respond to multiple calls inquiring if any other towns reported printer problems or machine shortages.

Boonton voters experienced similar printer issues with the new machines but they appeared resolved before 9 a.m. One person who couldn’t wait said she was able to cast a provisional ballot.

The Morris County Commissioner Board in late 2021 authorized the purchase of 134 ES&S machines at a cost of $4.9 million. But a delay in authorizing the funds resulted in only partial delivery before the June primary, forcing some of the old Dominion machines back into use.

Hanover Deputy Mayor Thomas "Ace" Gallagher, running unopposed for reelection to the Township Committee, said Hanover districts also had some problems related to paper jams during the day, but "the county was very responsive" and had technicians on site to help resolve the problems.

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.

Seventy-five acres preserved along Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury

A 75-acre wooded property along the Rockaway Creek that had been considered for both office and residential development since the 1980s has been permanently preserved.On Feb. 15, the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation purchased the property on the southwest corner of the intersection of Route 523 and Interstate 78 for $750,000.New Jersey Conservation immediately transferred the land to Hunterdon County, to be kept in its natural state to protect water resources, safeguard wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for...

A 75-acre wooded property along the Rockaway Creek that had been considered for both office and residential development since the 1980s has been permanently preserved.

On Feb. 15, the nonprofit New Jersey Conservation Foundation purchased the property on the southwest corner of the intersection of Route 523 and Interstate 78 for $750,000.

New Jersey Conservation immediately transferred the land to Hunterdon County, to be kept in its natural state to protect water resources, safeguard wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for passive recreation like hiking and bird watching. It is now part of the Hunterdon County Park System and is known as the Rockaway Creek Preserve.

Funding for the acquisition was provided by the New Jersey Highlands Council, with the New Jersey Green Acres Program and New Jersey Water Supply Authority contributing toward surveys, title work and closing costs.

“We’re thrilled to permanently protect this property along the Rockaway Creek,” said Jay Watson, co-executive director of New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “New Jersey Conservation Foundation has preserved land along the Rockaway Creek upstream of this property for the Hill & Dale Preserve, as well as farmland downstream. We’re grateful to our partners for making this acquisition possible.”

The newly-preserved property is bounded on the south and west by the Rockaway Creek, designated a “Category 1″ stream because it supports trout, which require clean, cool water. It also includes a pond with a small stream flowing into the Rockaway Creek.

“The New Jersey Highlands Council is very pleased to be a part of the preservation of this property,” said Lisa J. Plevin, executive director. “New Jersey Conservation Foundation did a tremendous job of working with the property owner and other partners to help ensure permanent protection of the abundant natural resources on this site, and future access for the public. We were very glad to bring federal Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) funds to this project.”

The Highlands Council leveraged HCA funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to secure a conservation easement on the property from New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The easement will help ensure permanent protection of the important natural resources on the site.

“Hunterdon County is proud of the work New Jersey Conservation Foundation has done to preserve this important property along the Rockaway Creek in Tewksbury Township,” said Zach Rich, deputy director of the Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners and the board’s liaison for planning and land use. “Being 75 forested acres and fronting on almost a half-mile of the Rockaway Creek, a C1 stream, seeing this land preserved thanks to the sourcing of grant dollars and funding by NJCF is a win for both environmental protection and Hunterdon County residents. Hunterdon County is grateful to include the new Rockaway Creek Preserve into the County Park System.”

Because the property will remain in its natural state, a need no longer exists for a sewage treatment plant that would have discharged into the Rockaway Creek farther downstream.

A private nonprofit based in Far Hills, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s mission is to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. In addition to protecting over 125,000 acres of open space, farmland and parks, New Jersey Conservation promotes strong land conservation policies at the local, county, state and federal levels, and provides support and technical assistance to hundreds of partner groups.

For more information about New Jersey Conservation Foundation and its programs and preserves, visit www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LANDSAVE (1-888-526-3728).

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.

'The baby's coming now!' Morris mom delivers surprise with New Year's birth at home

2 minute readGalaxy 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 pr...

2 minute read

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.

New Year's babies:North Jersey's first babies of 2023 are the 'perfect addition' for loving parents

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.

Picatinny worker answers commander's call to service, as Army battles recruitment gap

Amidst a tough environment for military recruiting, the U.S. Army leaders at Picatinny Arsenal and across the nation launched a no...

Amidst a tough environment for military recruiting, the U.S. Army leaders at Picatinny Arsenal and across the nation launched a novel initiative in September to inspire its civilian workforce to answer a "call to service" in the nation's largest military branch.

But it surprised even her commander when Sarah Worthy, a management analyst at the Rockaway Township base, stepped forward.

The 27-year-old from Chatham Township will report to recruiter training this week after enlisting last month in the Army Reserves. An employee at Picatinny's Network Enterprise Center, she will also undergo Airborne training, followed by a 10-day psychological assessment and operations training.

"I feel conviction as well as an opportunity," said Worthy, who grew up in North Carolina. "I've been working at the Arsenal for three years and it's fine, but not the only thing I wanted to do."

Army leaders in Washington announced last year that they had fallen short of recruitment goals for fiscal year 2022 by 25%, or about 15,000 soldiers. In July, the service cut its projection for the overall size of its force for this fiscal year by 10,000 and predicted another decline in 2023.

As a result of the shortfall, the branch has ramped up recruiting efforts, including at Picatinny, which develops and tests weapons for the military. The Arsenal's senior commander, Brig. Gen. John T. Reim, sent an email in September to the mostly civilian workforce at Picatinny with the subject line, “Call to Service.”

"We are engaged in a war for talent, and failure is clearly a threat to national security," Reim wrote. "Coming out of COVID and facing the same tight labor market that has left many employers struggling to find talent, the Army’s recruitment has hit its lowest rate in the five decades of our all-volunteer Army, 60% below its FY22 requirement."

Worthy, who holds a Juris master's degree from Liberty University, is one of about 6,000 civilians, contractors and military personnel staffing Picatinny Arsenal, also known as the Joint Center of Excellence for Guns and Ammunition. The base provides products and services to all branches of the U.S. military.

As the daughter of an Army chaplain, Worthy had frequently expressed an interest in military service, "but I never went through with it," she said in an interview.

Reim's email changed all that.

"I'm a woman of faith and I prayed for guidance," she said. "When I saw the email I thought, 'well, if that isn't a sign, then what is?'"

For subscribers:Morris mom released from Greystone 'prematurely' before daughter's killing, dad claims

“I wasn’t expecting one of our own to step up and answer the call,” said Reim, who swore Worthy into service on Dec. 22.

Her father, Army Lt. Col. Shay Worthy, currently garrison chaplain at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, said his daughter had often spoken of entering the military or FBI, so he wasn't surprised about the decision.

"It was more like 'It's about time!' " he said with a laugh, adding "I'm proud of what she has already done."

The call of duty comes with tangible benefits including a $13,000 signing bonus and a $50,000 student loan repayment option as enlistment incentives.

“We are looking for motivated men and women like Sarah to join the Army team,” said Capt. Brian Fydenkevez, commander of the Army's North Jersey Recruiting Company. Still, he said, “only one in three people is eligible to join the Army based on our demanding academic, physical, and moral standards."

Worthy's full-time position with the NEC is legally protected while she’s away at training for the Army Reserves and if she ever gets called up to active duty. "That's how it works for everyone, not just at Picatinny," she said.

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.

At Pop’s Place, a free Thanksgiving meal keeps a legacy alive

When Erion Lenas was a child, he watched his uncle Spyros Lenas, known as Pop, serve free Thanksgiving meals every year at his restaurant, Pop’s Place.Pop passed away four years ago, but in April of last year, his nephew opened another restaurant with the same name in Morris County.The name is not the only way Lenas is paying tribute to his uncle. On Thursday, Lenas offered free meals to anyone who wants to come to the Rockaway Township restaurant and eat an official Thanksgiving dinner.“This community has be...

When Erion Lenas was a child, he watched his uncle Spyros Lenas, known as Pop, serve free Thanksgiving meals every year at his restaurant, Pop’s Place.

Pop passed away four years ago, but in April of last year, his nephew opened another restaurant with the same name in Morris County.

The name is not the only way Lenas is paying tribute to his uncle. On Thursday, Lenas offered free meals to anyone who wants to come to the Rockaway Township restaurant and eat an official Thanksgiving dinner.

“This community has been so good to us,” Lena told NJ Advance Media. “And the least we can do is pay them back with a free Thanksgiving meal.

“My uncle, Pop, did this every year, and we are just continuing his legacy.”

Lenas will never forget the memory of his uncle and how he fed the hungry and those who did not have family every Thanksgiving.

“Pop did a lot for this the community,” Lenas said. “He was self-made immigrant from Greece and did not have family around the holidays. That’s why he had a soft spot in his heart for those like him.”

This year’s Thanksgiving meal at Pop’s Place included all the fixings, according to the general manager at Pop’s Place, TJ Gray.

“We’re preparing around 300 meals,” Gray said before the festivities. “It will be the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and apple pie a la mode with vanilla ice cream.”

Pop’s place is known a round Dover and Rockaway for delicious food served quickly.

“Our customers love to pick their meal up and sit outside under the umbrellas,” Gray said. “Our food is simple, and hopefully, it will create a little nostalgia for when things were a little simple. We serve the food we grew up eating.”

Lenas will never forget his uncle and the lessons he learned from him.

“Pop taught me to stay humble and always do the right thing,” he said. “Simple to say but hard to do. We’re so humbled to serve free meals this Thanksgiving. It means a lot that people of this community spend their money with us, and we wanted to give back today.”

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