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Law Firm to Aid CMCo in Wind Turbine Matter; Board Honors 4 Residents

Wildwood Fire Department Capt. Matt Johnson accepts a resolution from County Commissioner Vice-Director and Public Safety Director Leonard Desiderio Aug. 24 for being one of 80 from New Jersey

By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – Board of County Commissioners Aug. 24 hired a law firm to act on its behalf in the proposed offshore wind turbine farm matter. It also honored four exemplary county residents.
Aid Enlisted in Ocean Wind Turbine Matter
The county commissioners enlisted Cultural Heritage Partners (CHP), a law firm with offices in New York City, Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, to advise it in matters regarding the Ocean Windenergy project offshore that would impact areas of Cape May County.
Orsted, the Danish multinational power company, and Public Service Electric and Gas are developing the utility-scale wind farm about 15 miles off the county’s coast. 
The resolution states that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management “has shown an inability to comply with (two actsregarding regulatory oversight) consultation requirements in prior offshorewind projects, which may lead to a lack of consideration of cultural,environmental and related economic harms to Cape May County…”
The resolution further added that CHP has “depth of understanding of relevant federal law to compel agencies and developers to address community concerns and have experience presenting parties inoffshore wind projects in the U.S.) …”
The firm’s website states, “Cultural Heritage Partners provides world-class legal, policy advocacy, and business strategy services to clients who seek to strengthen or de-risk their actions related to cultural heritage, which includes art, artifacts, architecture, landscapes, and traditional practices.”
The board earlier this year went on record opposing the wind turbine project, after hearing concerns about its impact on the local commercial fishing industry and tourism.
Capt. Matt Johnson
Capt. Matt Johnson, of the Wildwood Fire Department, was the county’s lone representative of 80 from the state to assist in the rescue-and-recovery operation in June of the collapsed Champlain TowersSouth in Surfside, Florida, that claimed 97 lives and injured 11.
Johnson, the county’s leader for its Urban Search-and-Rescue Team, accepted the resolution from board Vice-Director Leonard Desiderio and other commissioners, as co-workers lined the meeting room.
A group photo was later taken with the group by the urban search and rescue engine from Wildwood that the county assisted in securing.
Alyssa Sullivan and AugostinaMallous
Miss New Jersey Alyssa Sullivan and second runner-up AugostinaMallous, wearing tiaras and sashes, accepted resolutions from the board. Both are Middle Township residents and graduates of Middle Township High School.
Sullivan  graduated summa cum laude from Rowan University, in 2021, with a major in journalism. She aspires to be a television reporter and anchor. She did internships at WPVI, Fox 29 and Fox andFriends, and WPHL 17, as a production reporter and fill-in reporter.
Mallous is an undergraduate at Hofstra University, where she is studying journalism and dance. Her initiative is to eradicate human trafficking. She believes that “hard work ethic” stems from growing up in her family’s diner.
“Her Greek culture has taught her everything about life itself,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson, “but especially about food.”
Director Gerald Thornton told both women, “I just want you to know how proud we are of you two, and the significance you have made for Cape May County, and especially Middle Township.”
Luke Sooy
Luke Sooy, 13, of Upper Township, was honored for winning the U.S. national championship in Irish dancing.
Accompanied by his parents, Bill and Lynn Sooy, the teen accepted a resolution attesting to his achievement.
Sooy has been a dancer since age 5. He has performed internationally and aspires to become a professional Irish dancer. He plans to attend Charter Tech Performing Arts High School, in Somers Point.
911 Funds Sought, Again, from State
The board supported the passage of companion bills in the Legislature (S-4051 and A-5962) regarding the funding of 911 systems. The resolution is the latest passed by commissioners who believe that the $120 million collected annually from phone users by the state ought to fund 911 emergency services equipment. 
Instead, the resolution states that New Jersey has, since 2006, collected $1.4 billion, and that only 11% of that funded 911 services. Since 2009, it states, the state failed to provide funding for eligible expenses for counties and municipalities, instead of funding the Department of Law and Public Safety.
The resolution also reads the state “should comply with federal recommendations and restore critical fund monies to counties and municipal 911 centers to operate, maintain, and construct…” those call centers.
The primary sponsor is Sen. Kristin M. Corrado (R-40th) and Assemblyman William Spearman (D-5th).
Windfall Discussed
How best to spend $650,000? The board received that sum from the federal government, as part of the American Rescue Plan.
Tourism Director Diane Wieland presented a proposal to attract tourists from nearby regions using various media advertising that would take about $253,400. She said the concept would be to target fall and winter tourists, thus extending the season.
Wieland’s figures showed the impact Covid had on the local tourism business. The decline in tourism direct spending in 2020 was a loss of 21.1% compared to 2019, or $1.457 billion. 
Other impacts included:
Retail lost 37%, or $367.5 million
Food and Beverage lost 25.6%, or $335.8 million
Recreation lost 29%, or $213.2 million
Also discussed was broadband coverage in the county (about $250,000), and Covid-related reimbursement (about $150,000). 
No decision was made on how those funds will be spent.
Transportation lost 33%, or $157.1 million
Lodging lost 14%, or $383.1 million

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