Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Leslie Koller To Remain As Mt. Ephraim School Superintendent

Leslie Koller will remain as the superintendent for the Mt. Ephraim School District for the next three years. As for her contract, it automatically rolls over and terms will still need to be worked out and agreed upon.

Ms. Koller was absent from the Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Monday night. SJO asked Board Solicitor, Michael Pattanite, Jr. for a status of the superintendent’s contract after the meeting was over. He said: “Statutorily, the superintendent’s contract rolls over until her new contract is negotiated and agreed upon. Her previous contract will roll over and she will be the superintendent for the next three years.”

The superintendent’s contract did not receive the required five votes needed to either approve it or reject it when the matter was voted on at either the June 6 during the Committee of the Whole meeting or during the June 20 Regular Meeting.

In other matters, Board member Rocco Vespe gave a brief update about the status of the teachers’ contract because Carl Ingram was absent. Vespe said that another meeting will be scheduled to continue negotiations.

Board President, Pat Blaylock, asked about two board members [Mario Alibrando and Diane Vilardo] who are no longer conflicted and can now vote and participate in negotiations. “We have two board members whose spouses are no longer in the union and no longer work in district, so can they now vote because they are no longer conflicted?” she asked.

Solicitor Pattanite responded: “They will be able to vote on the teachers’ contract and also be involved in negotiations once the clause that creates the conflict is eliminated.”

Agenda Items Approved:

In other matters, all business on the meeting agenda was approved, with the exception of approving the establishment of a petty cash food service account. That item was tabled.

July 11 Regular Meeting Public Agenda

Other approvals included:

Payment of the July bill list in the amount of $47,685.58

An agreement with the Bancroft School for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 on an as-needed basis. Fees are outlined in the contract.

A contract with Bancroft School for the period of July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017 for one student at an estimated cost of $67,502.92, with the final rate being determined after the completion of the 2016-17 N.J. Department of Education Cost Report.

Fiscal Year 2017 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title I A Improving Basic Skills Grant in the amount of $78,708 for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

Fiscal Year 2017 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Title II A Class Size Reduction in the amount of $21,349 for the period of July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the New Jersey State Police, Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM).

Next Meetings:

The Mt. Ephraim BOE will meet as a Committee of the Whole on Monday, August 1 at 7:00 p.m. and again on Monday, August 8 for its Regular Meeting at 7:30 p.m. The meetings will be held in the Mary Bray Media Center.

Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Bellmawr Walgreens Targeted for Royal Farms Store

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.

Source - New Jersey Press Association (
Screenshot Source: New Jersey Press Association (

Dine In

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.

1.5 – 2.0 acre 5,371 square foot prototype by Royal Farms

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.

Site Plan Standard Layout Provided by Royal Farms

Second Location

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.

FullSizeRender (5)
The site of the old Walgreens on Browning Road & the Black Horse Pike looks to be Royal Farms’ second location in the area. The other site in Gloucester City is currently undergoing renovations.


*Special thanks to Mark Matthews of 42 Freeway for his help with this story.

Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Resurrection of Resurrection of Christ Catholic Cemetery

Bellmawr’s Resurrection of Christ Cemetery on Anderson Avenue is in the midst of beautification efforts and will remain a Catholic cemetery, according to Louis Cicalese, who is the president of Harleigh Cemetery.

Because of the obvious, large-scale tree cutting and clearing work that recently took place on the property, several readers reached out to SJO with concerns about toppled headstones and markers. There were also questions asking if the burial ground would remain a Catholic cemetery. Cicalese responded to SJO via email and confirmed that Harleigh Cemetery will maintain the cemetery and will also be providing burial services.

He wrote: “I am happy to address your questions regarding the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery. The community will shortly witness the resurrection of Resurrection of Christ Catholic Cemetery. As you can see, trees are being removed so we can begin the clean up process of improving paths and driveways. In addition, all the existing headstones will be preserved.”

All photos by SJO.  Work to remove and clear trees at the cemetery is underway. In the background are the Bellmawr Hockey rinks.

He continued: “The cemetery has never closed since its inception in the early 1900s, but it was never a very active cemetery because it was so heavily treed. Our plans are to beautifully landscape this very special Catholic cemetery. We will be offering Catholic families options of traditional in-ground graves, family estate lots, niche gardens, cremation graves, and mausoleums. Families can start the pre-planning process with our counselors beginning September 2016, by contacting us at or 856-963-3500.”

The Borough of Bellmawr will be included during the planning process. Cicalese wrote: “We will be working with the Borough of Bellmawr to create new signage and plan our mausoleum buildings while we keep the historic character of the cemetery intact with its ornamental gate on the corner.”

The historic character of the cemetery will be maintained. This includes the ornamental gate on the corner that is currently obscured by overgrowth.

As for any toppled headstones and markers, Cicalese said work will be done to ensure that all existing headstones are protected and set properly during the project.

Because of mandates outlined in the New Jersey Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act, the Camden County Soil Conservation District (CCSCD) is involved.

Craig McGee of CCSCD confirmed that Harleigh Cemetery is in the process of preparing a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (SESC) Plan application to be submitted for approval.

He explained that the CCSCD is charged with implementing the New Jersey Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Act. Chap 251, PL 1975. The Act requires that nearly all land disturbances in excess of 5,000 square feet submit and gain approval of a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control (SESC) Plan.

“We review those plans for compliance with a set of standards and issue a certification. Usually a certified SESC plan is required prior to land disturbance and the issuance of building permits,” McGee said.

He further clarified that the CCSCD does not approve land use or the scope of the project, only that it meets the Standards for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control in N.J. “In general, we look to make sure that soil doesn’t erode from the site during construction activities and that the development of the site doesn’t impact any nearby waterbodies, including streams and wetlands.”

A History of the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery:

To read a history of the Resurrection of Christ Cemetery, check out the article that Mark Matthews wrote for CNBNews titled “Bellmawr’s Forgotten Polish Cemetery.” For his article, Matthews referenced NJDOT’s Historic Architectural Resources Technical Environmental Study from 2006.

Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Bellmawr Fire Chief Explains EMS Arrangement With Brooklawn

Due to underlying issues involving Brooklawn’s volunteer ambulance service, Bellmawr EMS has been providing emergency medical services to its neighboring town since June 6.

Brooklawn’s ambulance issue was the subject of a recent article by

Because Bellmawr’s EMS is involved, SJO contacted the Borough of Bellmawr to find out the specifics of the EMS arrangement and was referred to Chief Jim Burleigh. Chief Burleigh was reached by telephone and he provided clarification about the situation.

Chief Burleigh said that in early June, he received a telephone call from Brooklawn’s Borough Clerk, Ryan Giles, asking if Bellmawr could provide ambulance service on a temporary basis.

“Brooklawn was having underlying issues with their ambulance service. Because of a Mutual Aid Agreement that is already in place through the County, Bellmawr is second due into Brooklawn. That means, if there was ever an emergency in Brooklawn and their ambulance was tied up, Bellmawr always responded,” Burleigh said.

Chief Burleigh was asked why this arrangement wasn’t brought up at any of Bellmawr’s recent council meetings or voted on. He explained that it’s not necessary.

Without going into specifics about Brooklawn’s issues, Chief Burleigh said that in general, an ambulance could be taken out of service for any number of reasons – including a flat tire or a mechanical issue. “If an ambulance is taken out of service for any reason, surrounding towns all cover each other because of that Mutual Aid Agreement. This happens quite frequently, in both fire and EMS.”

Providing additional insight, Chief Burleigh said: “This is common and does happen with fire and EMS. Recently, Westville’s ladder truck was out of service. So Bellmawr’s ladder truck was the first into Westville for two months. We didn’t have to go to council for approval because we were the next ladder in because of the Mutual Aid Agreement.”

Chief Burleigh said that Bellmawr will be providing ambulance services to Brooklawn until further notice. “Bellmawr runs about 2,300 EMS calls a year and Brooklawn has about 500. So it is a small percentage of runs.”

As for concerns that should an emergency should arise in Bellmawr while personnel provides EMS to Brooklawn, Chief Burleigh said: “If our ambulance is tied up, there will be no delay in service because of automatic backup from personnel from surrounding towns.”

Based on the Mutual Aid Agreement, any costs incurred to the Borough of Bellmawr for providing EMS services will be recovered through billing for its services, he said.


Bellmawr Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Camden County Library System Receives $59,000 Grant to Promote Food Literacy

VOORHEES, NJ – June 27, 2016 – The Camden County Library System is receiving a $59,000 grant from the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development to promote food literacy in Camden and other communities throughout the county. The money will be used to fund a mobile culinary center designed to help foster literacy skills focused on nutrition, food selection and food preparation in communities around the County with low literacy levels and particularly in those like Camden designated as ‘Food Deserts’ by the US Department of Agriculture.

A centerpiece of the program will be a mobile kitchen complemented by a collection of books about nutrition, healthy eating and consumer literacy with iPads and a mobile hotspot available. The kitchen can be transported to any of the library’s eight branches and other locations to demonstrate cooking techniques and recipes.

The program will help residents at the lowest levels of literacy gain skills in reading, consumer math, converting recipes, interpreting nutrition labels and understanding supermarket signage. Other workshops will focus on healthy eating on a budget and ESL conversation classes centered on international cuisine.

In its proposal for the project, the Camden County Library established a real need by citing sobering statistics about Camden and surrounding counties in South Jersey. According to the USDA over 60 percent of the state’s food deserts are located in South Jersey’s six counties. The Courier-Post reported that Camden, with over 75,000 residents, saw its first new supermarket in 40 years opened in 2014, which is still the only operating grocery store in the city.

The USDA defines a food desert as communities where residents have limited ability to get affordable, nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket or large grocery store and don’t have easy access to transportation.

The lack of access to nutritious food and limited literacy skills, such as being unable to read food labels, supermarket signage or understand the cost of food relative to its nutritional value, are cited by the library as factors contributing to diagnosed cases of high blood pressure, high cholesterol or Type 2 Diabetes among residents living in food deserts like Camden.

The NJ Department of Labor and Work Force development recognizes that such critical health problems interfere with people’s ability to productively join and participate in the local workforce. The library will rely on its partnerships with Literacy Volunteers of Camden County and the Camden County One-Stop Career Center to implement the program and find residents in need of its services.

“As we engage with our communities, we have become conscious of the many external and social factors that contribute to low literacy and unemployment. We are committed to addressing these challenges through innovative library services such as this program,” says Camden County Library Director Linda Devlin.

The Camden County Board of Freeholders fully supports the library’s new program. “Access to important information such as nutrition and proper food preparation is essential to daily meal planning in order to raise a healthy family,” stresses Freeholder Bill Moen, liaison to the Camden County Library System. “The Camden County Library’s mobile kitchen will make this vital information available and help to foster healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”

As director of the library Devlin explains, “People can become literate in many different ways. Food is both a universal language and a universal need that we can use to advance literacy skills across cultures. The versatility of the mobile kitchen will allow us to reach many parts of the county through our branches and off-site through our partners.

My team is excited to take library services in this new direction, and we look forward to working with our partners in making the program a success for the residents of Camden County.”

Camden Price Rite Supermarket Opened in 2014. Considered a food desert, Camden welcomed its first new supermarket in years. (KYW NewsRadio photo/Mike DeNardo)]
Camden Price Rite Supermarket Opened in 2014. Considered a food desert, Camden welcomed its first new supermarket in years. Photo Credit: Mike DeNardo, KYW NewsRadio