Today, Bellmawr Girl Scout Troops #30215 and #30082 hosted an appreciation luncheon to honor Bellmawr Police, Fire, and EMS for their dedicated service to the community.
Troop leader Debbie Allen said that the business community and the families of the Girl Scouts were “very generous” with their food donations for the luncheon. Because of the amount of donations, the Girl Scouts were able to serve a full lunch that featured a large assortment of entrees and desserts.
The luncheon was held in the Bellmawr Ballroom. Among the offerings were ziti, meatballs, salads, hoagies, wings, stromboli, rice, hot dogs, cookies, brownies, candy bars, tiramisu, and water ice.
The members of the departments took time to meet and talk with all of the Girl Scouts.
Alexis Blackson, 13, has been a Girl Scout for five years says being a part of the luncheon today was “important.” She said: “I want to show my appreciation. They risk their lives for us so we wanted to do something special for them.”
Megan Gordon, 13, has been a Girl Scout for six years said: “I don’t think people today realize how much Police, Fire, and EMS do for us. I took today to appreciate the sacrifice they make for us.”
Pastor Vincent Kovlak of Bellmawr Baptist Church came to the luncheon to offer a prayer of gratitude and safety.
Pastor Kovlak prayed:
Our Heavenly Father, how grateful we are for these civil servants whom you refer to as ministers of God, who daily jeopardize their lives to preserve and protect our lives. We honor them today. We pray that as they keep us safe, so you will keep them safe – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Especially at a time when so many of them are targets of those who have no fear God or the law. May they accept our thanks for the tremendous job that they do for our good. Grace this luncheon with Your presence and bless this food. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
The Bellmawr Zoning Board unanimously voted to approve, with conditions, the site plan for the new Royal Farms that will take shape at the old Walgreens on the corner of Browning Road and Black Horse Pike.
Tuesday night’s meeting lasted for over two hours and the Board heard testimony from several witnesses.
Highlights from the testimony:
Royal Farms will be looking to add 40-50 jobs, with benefits, and hiring preference will be given to local residents.
Royal Farms will be open 24/7 and will offer its guests both indoor and outdoor seating, with 14 tables inside and 8 outside.
With the exception of the fuel trucks, deliveries to the store will be from box trucks during non-peak hours.
Several residents expressed concerns about a proposed driveway that will be added on Walnut Avenue. Primary concerns involved headlights shining in windows and additional traffic, trash, and noise. Regarding the driveway, Royal Farms will look into relocating the driveway closer to the Black Horse Pike.
There was a question about Royal Farms signage potentially blocking Cundiff Oil’s sign on the Black Horse Pike. Royal Farms will reach out to Cundiff Oil regarding sign placement and size.
SJO will provide additional updates on the progress of the new Royal Farms as information becomes available.
Gloucester City’s teachers have reached an impasse in their contract negotiations, Board Solicitor, Frank Cavallo, Jr., said at the school board meeting on Tuesday night. Cavallo stated that that the Board of Education and the Teachers’ Association met in June. “At the end of that meeting, it was decided that the Board of Education would declare an impasse and file what is called a ‘Notice of Impasse’ with the Public Employment Relations Commission. I received a letter on July 11 informing me that they are investigating our filing and that a mediator would be assigned shortly,” he said.
HIB & EVVRS Reports
Director of the Early Childhood Center, Norell Gurcik, gave the Harassment Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Report and the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Report (EVVR) for report period January 1-June 30, which is report period two.
Gurcik said: “At the Gloucester City Junior-Senior High School, we had eight HIB investigations and six were confirmed HIB. We had two at Mary Ethel, zero confirmed HIB. That makes a total of ten HIB investigations and six were confirmed a HIB.”
She gave a summary of the HIB report and outlined the nature of the HIB incidences: “There were two that were sexual orientation related and four under ‘other distinguishing characteristics.’ For the effects of the HIB incidences, there were six where the offender knew the actions would physically or emotionally cause harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property. We had six insult or demean a student or a group of students. Five interfered with victims’ education and one created a hostile educational environment by severely or basically causing physical or emotional harm to a student.”
For the mode of HIB incidences, Gurcik said: “One was a gesture, one written, four verbal, two physical, and one electronic communication.”
Regarding disciplinary actions, she said: “We had two in-school suspensions, five out-of-school suspensions, and two detentions. For the offender remedial actions, there were seven individual counseling, six student conferences, and six parent conferences. For the victim remedial actions, we had eight counseling and two parent conferences and one out-of-school mental health services.”
For EVVRS, Ms. Gurcik reported: “We had two under violence and they were assault. We had two under substance abuse and they were confirmed use.”
Middle School Update
School superintendent, Joe Rafferty, said that he and several other administrators recently went to Trenton to pick out furniture and different items for the new middle school.
As for the school’s progress, he said: “Right now, things are going well. We have a picture of the field with the turf being put in. We are making an unbelievable amount of progress inside the building and things are moving along.”
Facilities Director, John Kenney, also gave an update: “The field work is progressing. For the goal posts, the supports are about half way in. The track work will probably start in the next two to three weeks.”
He continued: “Painting of the classrooms has started. Most of the concrete around the site is done. Roof work is about 90% done. Fencing work is about half way done on the site. There are about 130 people working down there. Final completion is early December,” he said.”
Kenney also said that because of the issue with the State and the transportation funding, Fifth Street is on hold and that is a major issue for the district.
Agenda Items Approved
On the business side, two items were tabled on the meeting agenda. The BOE tabled the approval of various policy revisions and a professional services contract with Positive Educational Solutions.
There was a discussion among the board about the starting salary for a teacher at the middle school. Jackie Borger asked about the starting salary and said she wasn’t questioning the candidate’s character, but she wondered why he wasn’t started as step 1.
Stephanie Cohan added: “It does seem like a high step.”
School superintendent, Joe Rafferty, responded: “This is a quality individual for the position,” and he asked Bill O’Kane, principal of Mary Ethel Costello, to provide an explanation.
“The position is for a fifth grade teacher. What it came down to is that he is the best candidate for the job for middle school math. He has a coaching background. To me, it’s a smart move. I felt this was smart hire,” O’Kane said.
The Board voted to approve the candidate to be hired.
Other approvals were:
The bill list grand totaling $4,196,782.06.
Contracts with Gloucester County Vocational-Technical School for pool rental for the 2016-17 school year in the amount of $7,675 and with Holcomb Bus Co. to lease two buses for the 2016-17 school year in the amount of $1,600 per bus per month to accommodate athletics and possible school trips.
To authorize the Board Secretary/Business Administrator to award the wall/window system removal reconstruction for the cafeteria at GHS.
Leon Harris Sworn in to the BOE:
Additionally, Leon Harris was sworn in as a board member by the Board Solicitor. Harris replaces Patrick Hagan who resigned his Board position in May. Harris was a former Lions’ football coach. In September, 2014, he retired as the district’s athletic director.
The BOE will meet next on Wednesday, August 3 for its Caucus and its regular meeting will be on Tuesday, August 9, 2016. Both meetings will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the GHS Media Center.
Royal Farms appears to be eyeing Bellmawr for its newest location, this according to a Legal Notice that was recently published in the Courier Post. Mark Bellmawr, LLC is seeking preliminary and final site plan approval from the Bellmawr Zoning Board of Adjustment to replace the Walgreens with a Royal Farms 5,371 square foot convenience store with eight fueling pumps. Royal Farms is based in Baltimore, M.D.
According to its website, Royal Farms touts itself as “your go-to place day or night for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, gasoline and diesel fuel, and all the things you need. Dine in our seating area or take out.”
Royal Farms has been satisfying the mid-Atlantic area’s hunger for real fresh food served real fast since 1959, its website states. The Royal Farms Kitchen serves their “World-Famous Royal Farms chicken” that is always fresh, never frozen, lightly breaded and pressure-cooked in store in using trans fat free cooking oil. Their Western Fries are also cooked in-store and made from hand-cut and breaded from Idaho potatoes.
Other offerings will include custom-built hot and cold sandwiches, wraps and Royal Farms 100% Colombian Coffee. The Royal Farms Good-To-Go case will feature freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps, salads, fruit and veggie cups, all natural juices, and much more.
The Royal Farms website site offers a site plan for a representative 5,371 square foot store, which matches the size of the one being proposed for Bellmawr.
In January, 2016, CNBNews announced that Amit Patel, who owns the Quality Inn on Route 130 & Market Street has leased half of his site to Royal Farms. CNBNews reported that to make room for the new store, half of the rooms at the motel will be demolished. The remaining 64 rooms will be located behind the new convenience store.
*Special thanks to Mark Matthews of 42 Freeway for his help with this story.