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Monday, June 17, 2024

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Freeholders to Form Business Recovery Task Force

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By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – Cape May County freeholders convened a caucus April 7 by telephone from remote, various locations throughout the county.
Two items stemmed from the hour-and-a-half session: 
A resolution prohibiting all hotels, motels, guest houses, and other transient, seasonal and short-term rental businesses from lodging any new transient guests or seasonal tenants. It also requested municipalities to impose additional restrictions on beaches and boardwalks.
Agreement to form a Business Recovery Task Force. 
The task force, to consist of from seven to nine members, has yet to be formed. Freeholder Vice-Director Leonard Desiderio and Freeholder Will Morey will be members. 
Freeholder Director Gerald Thornton recommended that Vicki Clark, president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce be a member. He asked the board to submit names for consideration to join the body. 
He noted that many businesses, in the wake of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, “need direction and help as far as the SBA (Small Business Administration), federal and state (governments) and dealing with banks.”
Thornton added, “Everything I am seeing from the federal and state governments is somewhat confusing.”
Further, Thornton voiced his displeasure that the county was not one of the counties to be considered initially for recovery money. “That is disturbing to me,” he added. 
A consultant was to be named to lead the task force. 
Director Martin Pagliughi of the Office of Emergency Management told the board that the county received 7,595 face masks and 50 cartons of latex and non-latex gloves. A second shipment was due later last week.
He said that it was not at the critical stage yet for supplies. He added the department had been working with municipalities distributing resources they needed.
County Administrator Elizabeth Bozzelli reported what other various departments were doing to maintain operations as many employees were working remotely to stem the spread of the coronavirus. 
She cited one or two press releases that the county had been distributing daily to media updating the actions being taken by the county. 
Bozzelli, who has joined daily conference calls with state officials getting updates during the virus crisis, learned that Cape May was not one of the counties receiving larger sums of money to aid in the virus situation. 
She noted that a county had to have a full-time population over 200,000 or municipalities with 50,000. 
“We did not fall into that with testing sites,” Bozzelli said. 
Some departmental highlights:
Police Training Academy is operating with a very limited staff. Class II police officer training continues “virtually” so that officers can be trained by summer. 
Meals on Wheels continued to homebound delivered by Fare-Free drivers. 
The Information Technology Department has no cameras or microphones for departments to make conference calls. There is no need to acquire them since the freeholder meeting room can be used by a department if needed, Bozzelli said. 
The Social Services Building in Rio Grande was cleaned three times the prior week by BioBlast.
Bozzelli said that Social Services reported a “very heavy increase in requests for assistance” in the wake of the virus crisis.
Jennifer Hess, Crest Haven Nursing and Rehabilitation center director reported all personnel there were masked at all times to protect residents.
The Animal Shelter, under the direction of Judith Davies-Dunhour, is “struggling with ways to continue the adoption process because you can’t have people coming in to visit the animals,” said Bozzelli. 
She added Davies-Dunhour had been working with state and national shelters to learn how to use videos and Facebook.
County Clerk Rita Fulginiti, whose office must mail primary election ballots will likely see the ballot process go from 5,000-8,000 to possibly 70,000, said Bozzelli. To mail them, her department will need assistance from other departments, she added. 
County Library reported that its staff had received a “large response from students” who are out of school, utilizing internet learning. Bozzelli said librarians had been helping with classes online.
The County Park and Zoo, closed to the public, is still being maintained by crews, and animals are being tended. While working, the zoo staff is maintaining safe distances from co-workers.
Drug Court continues to be held and remains operational, Bozzelli said. 

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