Township council honors retired Fire Chief Gary Smith, approves application for a $10,000 police grant

Mayor David Mayer, along with Council President Orlando Mercado presented a proclamation to Gary Smith, retired fire chief of Blenheim Volunteer Fire Company.

During Gloucester Township’s latest council meeting, Mayor David Mayer, along with council President Orlando Mercado, presented a proclamation to Gary Smith, retired fire chief of Blenheim Volunteer Fire Company. He started volunteering in 1987. 

Members of the council also approved a resolution authorizing an application for more than $10,000 to the U.S. Department of Justice for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for the fiscal year 2019. 

The Edward Byrne Memorial program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to states and units of local government, according to its website. The grant is made available by the U.S. Department of Justice for the purpose of “carrying out activities to prevent and control crime,” according to the township’s description of the resolution. 

The township was invited to apply for the funds in conjunction with five other municipalities, including Camden, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold and Pennsauken, for a $208,291 grant. The resolution states the town is required to enter into a Shared Services/Inter-Local Services Agreement with the Camden County Police Department, designating it as the lead agency. 

Gloucester Township is allocated to receive approximately $10,693 of the grant. 

According to Gloucester County Chief of Police Harry Earle, the decision is made by the U.S. Department of Justice on how much the municipality will receive based on crime rates and population. 

Gloucester Township resident Sam Sweet addressed his concerns during the public hearing over the grant’s deciding factors, stating that Cherry Hill has around the same population.  

“I know our amount did decrease, and we presume it’s because our crime rates decreased,” said Earle in a response to the comment made by Sweet.

Funding has decreased since the last time the township received the grant, according to Earle. A few years ago, the township was receiving about $23,000 in funding, according to Earle. 

“There is no choice for us to ask for more,” said Earle.

In other news:

  • Council approved a bond ordinance of $1.7 million to temporarily finance various improvements to the stormwater drainage system within the township. The ordinance was approved on first reading. Residents will have the opportunity for a public hearing on the ordinance during upcoming meetings.
  • Resolutions were approved to advertise bids for the Cherrywood Road Improvement Program Phase 8, the NJDOT Trust Fund Reconstruction of Kelly Driver Road and the Redwood Street Municipal Culvert Replacement.