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Bellmawr News Recent News

Bellmawr Agrees to Settle Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

The Borough of Bellmawr agreed to pay $32,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by Eric Heidrich, who had been working as an EMT and was terminated on February 26, 2013.

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Screenshot from Bellmawr Council’s September 24, 2015 meeting minutes.

Council Minutes 9-24-15

In the Complaint filed in Camden County Superior Court, Heidrich, claimed that he was retaliated against and wrongfully terminated. He sued for compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, costs, and attorney fees.

The settlement was paid by the borough’s insurance company.

As part of the settlement agreement and general release that were received in response to an Open Public Records Request (OPRA), Heidrich agreed to the terms of the settlement, which state that he agrees to refrain from applying for a job with the Borough of Bellmawr.

The settlement agreement also states that the Borough of Bellmawr did not admit liability and wanted to avoid further litigation.

Heidrich’s attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses were included as part of the settlement.

The case was captioned Eric Heidrich vs. Borough of Bellmawr, Docket Number L-4438-14. Heidrich was represented by Anthony DiMento of Elkind, Cohen & DiMento of Cherry Hill, N.J.

 

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Bellmawr News Recent News

Bellmawr May Expand Coolidge Ave. to Six Lanes

The Borough of Bellmawr ordered a traffic study that would make Coolidge Avenue six lanes going into the landfill, Mayor Frank Filipek said during the August, 2015 Council meeting.

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All photos by South Jersey Observer. Looking South on Coolidge Avenue from Creek Road

The traffic study was brought up in response to a resident who asked the mayor for a status of the landfill on Creek Road.

According to the August 27, 2015 minutes (below) a 20-year resident of Bellmawr asked: “[I] would like to know what is going on with the mountain of dirt on Creek Road as it is getting higher and higher.”

Minutes 8-27-2015

Mayor Filipek responded by saying:

We are fighting with the State, filing for State approval of roads and there is no contamination. I will tell you that I am here as Mayor to see the first building go up as I have been fighting this for the past 7 years. There are 7 businesses that would like to come to Bellmawr that you will be very happy with. It is proposed that Coolidge Avenue will be made into a 6 lane highway into the landfill. We did hire a Traffic Engineer to do a study for this project. (Page 2)

Bellmawr Landfill

During the September, 2015 Council meeting, Filipek commented about access roads into the landfill and also the dirt on Essex Avenue. From the September 24, 2015 meeting minutes:

Council Meeting Minutes 9-24-2015

Mayor Filipek remarked about the pile of dirt on Essex Avenue, how much higher can it get? Stated he has called numerous times to the NJDOT about this problem. NJDOT stated this project on Essex Avenue will be completed by June 2016. Mayor stated he has met with Congressman Norcross and NJDOT regarding the access roads to the landfill, hopefully they will be moving on with this project shortly. (Page 3)

Bellmawr Landfill

South Jersey Observer submitted an Open Public Records Act Request (OPRA) to the Borough of Bellmawr to obtain copies of all of the traffic engineer’s bills, reports, studies, and proposals for turning Coolidge Avenue into six lanes.

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At the intersection of Leaf & Coolidge

Borough Clerk, Chuck Sauter, responded to the OPRA request and provided copies of a proposal from McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners along with monthly invoices and purchase orders for the study.

The proposal from McMahon Transportation Engineers & Planners is dated May 29, 2015 and is in letter form. The proposal reads that McMahon will provide engineering consulting services to the Borough of Bellmawr for traffic analysis review and evaluation of the local road access alternatives being developed by NJDOT consultants as part of the Missing Moves Project in the Bellmawr area.

The specific services that McMahon will provide to the Borough includes “a review of the traffic count data, future traffic predictions, existing and future conditions analysis, lane configurations, and local road access alternatives being presented by NJDOT’s traffic and design consultant. Additional alternatives could be developed as a result of our review and evaluations.”

McMahon’s proposed fee for services totals “a not-to-exceed amount of $14,900, inclusive of all reimbursable expenses,” which would include reproduction, graphics, overnight mail packages, and other incidental expenses.” The proposal states that McMahon will advise the Borough when they have reached 80% of the not-to-exceed budget.

McMahon has submitted invoices to the Borough for traffic engineering consulting services related to the evaluation of the local access roadways and roundabout design for Bellmawr. The invoices also show a “percent complete” figure for their project.

The most recent statement received in response to the OPRA request was dated October, 2015 and the percent complete was listed as 52.5%. The total amount paid as of October 15, 2015 was $7,822.50.

There are several businesses located on Coolidge Avenue, including the entrance to Compassionate Services, Air Gas, Tom Seas Towing, and the Bellmawr Police impound lot. Nordt Precision Metal Manufacturing is located on Creek Road and Coolidge. There is also one home located on Leaf Avenue.

The proposal doesn’t mention the home or businesses. Chuck Sauter confirmed via email that no reports have been received, but once they are completed, copies would be provided.

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Air Gas is one of the businesses located on Coolidge Ave.

 

*(Article updated on February 12, 2017 to include screenshots of the quoted parts of the August 27, 2015 and September 24, 2015 Bellmawr Council meeting minutes.)

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Bellmawr News Recent News

2016 List of Appointments for the Borough of Bellmawr

 

SJO recently filed an Open Public Records Act Request (OPRA) with the Borough of Bellmawr for a list of the 2016 appointments effective January 1, 2016.

This is the list of appointments that were provided in response to my OPRA can be viewed below:

List of Boro of Bellmawr Appointments for 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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Gloucester News Recent News

Gloucester City School Board Changes Principal Assignments

 

The Gloucester City Board of Education (BOE) voted to change principal responsibilities, effective July 1, 2016. These changes will be required for the opening of the new middle school, for planning purposes, and also for the smooth transition of students and staff, said School Superintendent, Joe Rafferty, during the February 9 BOE meeting.

Karen Kessler will be the principal for pre-school through third grade. William O’Kane will be the principal for grades four through eight. Sean Gorman will be the principal for grades nine through twelve. As for the assistant principals, Rafferty said they will be re-adjusted or moved as the district transitions to its new configuration.

During the meeting, Director of the Early Childhood Center, Norell Gurcsik, reported the period one data, from September 1-December 31, 2015, for Harassment Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) and Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS).

Gurcsik said: “We only had HIB investigations occur at the high school for the report period. We had six investigations and four of them were affirmed HIBs.”

As for the EVVRS report for the report period, Gurcsik stated that there were three incidences of violence, one for vandalism, one for weapons, and one for substance abuse.

As for action taken, the police were notified three times with no complaints filed and the police were notified three times with complaints filed, Gurcsik said.

The district’s 2014-15 School Grade Report from the New Jersey Department of Education can be found here.

During the business portion of the meeting, the BOE voted to approve all items on its agenda. Approvals included:

  • Payment of bills for a grant total of $3,895,100.59
  • The date for the 2016-17 Budget Hearing, which will be May 5, 2016. Caucus will immediately follow. Click here for the district’s 2015-16 Budget.
  • The 2016-17 Academic Calendar, subject to change based on the opening of the new middle school.
  • Permission to introduce Project Lead the Way Engineering Pathway beginning with the 2016-17 school year. Amount to be determined. Project Lead the Way is a pre-engineering pathway that engages students in open-ended problem solving and how-to-apply engineering design processes by using the same industry leading technology that are used in the nation’s top companies. This will be funded by NCLB Title 2016-2017.

In other matters, the superintendent spoke of the possibility of creating an educational foundation. Rafferty said that fact finding is being done to see if it can be a possibility.

Following an Executive Session, the BOE took the following action:

  • To allow two students to return to school.
  • To affirm the January and February HIBs (Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying) as presented.

The Board will meet next on March 3 for its caucus meeting and on March 8 for its regular meeting. All meetings are held at 7:00 p.m. in the GHS Media Center.

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Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Mt. Ephraim School Board Votes to Renew Superintendent’s Contract

*Article was updated on February 13, 2016 to include the Corrective Action Plan recommendations.

During a Special Meeting on February 4, the Mt. Ephraim Board of Education (BOE) approved a motion concerning the contract renewal for School Superintendent, Leslie Koller, subject to agreement on a contract that must be approved by the Executive County Superintendent.

See related article: Ethics Complaint Dismissed Against Mt. Ephraim School Board President.

Voting yes to renew Koller’s contract were board members Joan Greenwood, Lewis Greenwood, Sr., Carl Ingram, Robbin Malinowski, and Rocco Vespe.

Diane Vilardo voted no. Nicholas Salamone was absent. Mario Alibrando and Patricia Blaylock are conflicted and could not vote.

During the Special Meeting, the BOE also voted to approve business on its agenda. The approvals included recommendations for:

  • Phoenix Advisors as continuing disclosure agent and municipal advisor of record for bond finance.
  • The corrective action plan from the year end audit 2015 presented by Holman, Frenia & Allison, P.C. (The corrective action report has been requested and article will be updated to include this information when it is received.)
  • A contract with Comcast Business Service for ethernet network services under the statewide program with Middlesex Educational Services Commission.

When the Board reorganized, Patricia Blaylock was president and Carl Ingram was named vice president.

At its regular meeting on February 8 meeting, the BOE recognized student representatives from Mary Bray School and Raymond Kershaw School.

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Student Representatives from back left: Gabe Crothers, Jonathan Lapp, Olivia Malinowski, and Ryan Small. Front front left: Daniel Manning, Briana Cavallaro, Joseph Wolfe, and Ryan Wolfe. Not pictured: Jayson Beck-Gruff

The BOE voted to approve the February, 2016 bill list in the amount of $510,520.52, all field trips, the 2016-17 school calendar, and a Learning Through Gardening Proposal.

The next Board of Education meeting will take place on Monday, March 14, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mary Bray Media Center.

*Update: There were six corrective actions:

  1. The treasurer should reconcile their cash records with the reconciled bank statements of the Board Secretary.
  2. The district implements internal controls to ensure timely deposit of student funds.
  3. The district implements internal controls to ensure disbursements for student awards follows controls set forth by the district.
  4. The district implements internal controls to ensure student enrollment is reconciled to the final report.
  5. The district implements internal controls to ensure Capital Assets additions, deletions, and depreciation is recorded correctly in their system.
  6. The district implements standard operating systems.