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Spending Extra to Light Middle School Field; Local Contractors Fined; Body Cams for Cops; Et Cetera

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MAYBE A LIGHTED ATHLETIC FIELD AT NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL—The Gloucester City Board of Education, by a vote of 8-1 authorized a design change for the new Middle School to 6a00d8341bf7d953ef0176176315f9970c-800wiinclude an athletic field lighting proposal. The additional cost would be$125,000 just to install the conduit. Stadium lights and poles would be extra. The money would come from the district’s capital improvements fund. The state would have to approve the change and the district would have to comply with contract laws and bidding requirements.

Voting to approve the change were Board members: Robert Bennett, Stephanie Cohan, Richard Dolson,  Edward Hubbs, William Johnson, Bruce Marks and Tracy Farrow. Board vice-president Jackie Borger was the lone nay vote. Absent from the meeting were Linda Bittman and Patrick Hagan.

We asked Board member William Johnson Jr., why students at the new Middle School would need a lighted athletic field, especially since there is one already at the high school. Besides the high school, there are also lighted fields at the Johnson Blvd. sports complex.

Johnson, who said he was speaking on behalf of himself, not the Board replied, “I believe it will benefit the Middle School, the youth of this City, our community groups, and the businesses in town. Having lights on the field will allow the school sports, marching band, and even local youth sports to host night events. These events will bring visitors to our town and maybe they will stay afterward to support our restaurants in the area. I also believe that having lights will totally complete the turf, all-purpose (soccer, football, field hockey, track) athletic field. This field will be the best athletic field in this area, adding lights will allow us to get full use out of it.”

“As I understand it, the funds come out of the Capital Improvement Account and can only be used for improvement purposes.  We cannot use that money to offset other costs like personnel, which was specifically asked by another member.”

“The reason we are doing this now and not until after completion of the school is because they haven't started to build the field. It is wide open to install the necessary infrastructure including conduit, wiring, and the bases for the light standards.  If we decided to wait, the company would have to dig up parts of the field, concrete, and landscaping only to then reinstall what they dug up possibly doubling the cost.  Waiting would also affect the operation of the school during the installation if it were open.”

“In response to the rumor that we are having the school construction contractors install the lighting at a higher rate, that is totally false. As is the suggestion that we are not bidding the job out for a better price.  All we did at Tuesday’s meeting was approve the change in the plans for the Middle School to include lighting on the athletic field and approve the expenditure to do the job, if possible. Once an acceptable bid is agreed to, the Board would then have to approve the actual contract, which could still be defeated.”

We also asked newly elected board member, John Driscoll, who was at the meeting as a resident. He doesn’t take office until January. 

“I’m not  in favor of spending any unnecessary money with the school district being in the financial situation it is in; but, unfortunately, I do not have enough information (yet) to make a clear, concise and informed decision. As you know I don’t actually take office until next year. In general, I would like to see our students education needs met before anything else and one of the key ingredients to that is a great staff. I believe that the funds they are talking about using cannot be used for staff, but I am not clear on whether the money can be earmarked for other items or if the money will expire with the current budget if not used soon. “

At the same meeting, the Board approved the architectural agreement with Regan Youth England Butera Architects for the Cold Spring School HVAC project phase 2 at a cost of $89,850. The scope of services consists of a field survey, design/documentation, bidding, and construction administration for replacement of 10 vertical fan coil units, associated ductwork modification, and new controls.  In January, the Board spent  $416,000 to install a new cooling tower at the Cold Spring School. Falasca Mechanical was the successful bidder for that job.

The Board approved the payment of November bills which totaled $3,862,033. Of that amount $2,114,795 was for employee payroll,  $621,613 was for employee health benefits and $93,441 was for the employees unemployment fund. 

STATE FINES LOCAL CONTRACTORS- The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has continued its crackdown on noncompliant home improvement contractors with the issuance of Notices of Violation to 62 contractors, seeking $1,046,078 in consumer restitution and civil penalties. Those cited from the immediate area include: Fredrick E. Holman d/b/a FEH Global Construction, LLC Camden City, Robert Douglass Crawford d/b/a Crawfords Concrete LLC Camden City, Papaneri & Sons Concrete LLC Cherry Hill, Registered David Snyder d/b/a Mt. Laurel Flooring Cinnaminson, Phillip E. Collins Jr. t/a Affordable Repairs & Remodeling, and d/b/a Collins Builders Gibbstown,Timothy Cooper Gloucester City and RJM Construction Services, Inc. Gloucester City. 

All 62 contractors cited were the subject of consumer complaints. The Division has ordered them to pay a total of $803,677 in restitution to consumers for alleged slip-shod or uncompleted work. The Division has also ordered them to pay a total of $214,750 in civil penalties ranging from $1,500 to $5,750.

For the full list go here 

BODY CAMERAS FOR GLOUCESTER CITY POLICE—The Gloucester City Police Department announced it will be implementing body worn cameras for all officers on November 30, 2015.  The department has selected and will deploy Taser Axon body cameras, which will be utilized by all officers and ranks during a patrol as well as interactions with the public.  With the implementation of the Taser Axon body camera system, all incidents and interactions with Gloucester City Police will be recorded in accordance with department policy.  For more information or questions, please contact Deputy Chief Michael Morrell at (856) 456-0901 or mmorrell@gloucesterpolice.com.

MUSTANGS JACKET PROBLEM TELEVISED-The CNB article about D2 Athletics Apparel reneging on their contract to provide jackets to the Gloucester City Mustangs Football team was picked up by NBC 10  Philadelphia TV . SEE VIDEO

  

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