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Council Remembers Firefighters and Children Who Died in 2002 House Fire

By Sara Martino

NEWS Correspondent

Gloucester City Council remembered, with a moment of silence, the three firefighters and three children who lost their lives in a July Fourth house fire in 2002.

Many members of the City’s protectors -- the fire, police and EMT personnel -- were in attendance at last week’s Council meeting, and stood in honor of the deceased.

They were Mt. Ephraim Fire Chief James Sylvester, Deputy Chief John West, Gloucester City Firefighter Thomas Stewart III, and the three Slack girls.

Oaths of office were administered by Councilman William Hagan to seven firefighter/EMTs: Philip Koran, David Engle, Shaun Dannenfelser, Robert Glassman, Kurt Dillon, Nicholas Schulz and Daniel Harkins.

The Lady Lion’s Softball team (Gloucester City High) received certificates of commendations for becoming the NJSIAA Group 1 State Champions.

Councilmen Bruce Parry and Nicholas Marchese presented the certificates to the team members and their coaches.

“Overall they had 29 wins and one loss this season,” Marchese said.

In other business, “The price seems right,” was a comment made by Mayor William James and reported by Marchese during the council meeting.

Council chose Marchese to be Mayor Pro Tempore in the absence of James, and echoed the mayor’s previous comment concerning the free donations of trees to the city from the Cool Cities program.

Bob Booth, representing the Broadway Redevelopment Committee, told the governing body that extra trees are stored in the Cool Cities building in Somerset, NJ, and the trees can be given to the City at no cost.

“We understand that the squares for the trees will be cut out. If the public works employees could pick the trees up, they can be stored until ready for planting,” Booth said.

The tree plantings would be a part of the Broadway streetscape project.

“I would like to find out the species of trees that are available, and the ages of the trees also,” Marchese said.

During the public forum, a resident asked if a rumor that was going around was true regarding City employees who may have to pay part of their own benefits.

City Solicitor John Kearney said there may be a possibility of some adjustments due to the financial difficulties experienced by the City.

“Insurance benefits cost over $2.1 million, and negotiations with the unions will be held before any final decisions,” he said.

Marchese responded to a question regarding proposed stimulus money.

“We don’t know how much, or for what, the monies could be used for. We are waiting to hear from Trenton. The City engineers are putting project proposals together that will be presented to the state for their approval,” Marchese said.

Louisa Lllewellyn, president of the Gloucester City Board of Education, asked if deeds required by the state were available.

“Some clarification regarding open space near the new (middle) school has to be made before construction can begin,” she explained.

Kearney told her that his office has been in touch with the state authorities and the deeds have been available.

“We have some new architects, and they have been great to meet with and go over some changes to the building,” Llewellyn said.

Marchese said a committee will review any proposals regarding the light rail train line through the City.

“Nothing is happening immediately,” he answered to a resident who inquired if plans for the train line included tracks down King Street.

An ordinance was read and approved on first reading regarding Article 1 of Chapter 15 of the Gloucester City Code entitled alcoholic beverages pertaining to “dry-opening.”

The amendment is intended to allow certain hours of sale and also for the consumption of alcohol on premises when there is an open kitchen.

The Independence Day Parade will be Friday, July 3, starting at 6:30 pm along Broadway. Fireworks will follow at the Johnson Boulevard sports complex.

On July Fourth, the celebration will continue, including activities at Marthin’s Lake and boat rides on the City’s ship the “North Wind” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The Amspec and Pro Build companies have generously donated money for the fireworks,” Marchese said.

On Friday, after the Council meeting, Administrator Jack Lipsett said Gloucester City is talking to developers concerning changing the Chatham Square Apartments into homes that would be owner occupied.

The next meeting of City Council will be Thursday, July 24, at 8 p.m. in City Hall.

reprinted from the Gloucester City News

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