Berlin 2019 Year in Review: Day Three

Berlin Borough, and Camden County, addressed recycling and sustainability issues in 2019

After another quick 12 months, yet another year has come to a close. Berlin Borough residents have plenty to look back on, from municipal and school events to community events. Meanwhile, numerous organizations — with the help of borough officials — are transforming downtown Berlin.

In recapping the top moments from the past year, The Sun is taking a three-day look back at the key moments that shaped 2019 in Berlin Borough:

Berlin Borough affected by recycling costs

The borough is currently in a co-op contract with Camden County and Republic Services, and in discussing the matter with both Chief Financial Officer Debbie DiMattia and Superintendent of the Department of Public Works John Allsebrook, Borough of Berlin Councilman Mike Buchanan says the borough pays $5 per ton for recyclable material.

The borough’s current contract is set to expire during the 2021 calendar year. As the process currently goes, recyclable material that is collected within the borough is brought by the collection trucks to Republic Services locations. Buchanan says he has been made aware that Republic Services has stated it is losing $1 million per month, due to failures in the single-stream recycling process.

“As it’s been explained to me, when our recycling is brought to Republic, they inspect this, and if there is a certain percentage of contamination … they will reject the load and will attempt to charge $150 per ton for contamination,” said Buchanan.

According to Buchanan, although Republic is attempting to charge the borough, it has not yet gone through due to pending litigation because such a circumstance was not agreed upon in the county co-op contract.

Regardless of how the issue is resolved, Buchanan says residents need to take a step away from what he’s heard labeled as “wishful recycling,” the disposal of aluminum, plastic and other items thought to be universally recyclable, when in actuality they are not, thus contaminating a load and creating additional violations for the borough.

McGroarty named Gatorade Player of the Year

After yet another successful season at Eastern — culminating in the school’s first Group 4 State Championship since 2006 with Kelli McGroarty setting a new single-season goal record — the 2018 Sun Newspapers Girls Soccer Player of the Year continues to rack up achievements after the final whistle.

In early June, McGroarty was named the 2018-2019 Gatorade New Jersey Girls Soccer Player of the Year, the first to be chosen from Eastern in the company’s 34 years of honoring some of the best athletes across the country.

The most recent honor came with a meaningful added bonus, a $1,000 grant to a nonprofit of her choosing. Having been named a state Player of the Year for a sport through Gatorade, McGroarty was then eligible to submit an essay to win one of 12 $10,000 spotlight grants, again for an organization of her choice.  She won the award,  donating all the money to Smiles From Kara, a Voorhees non-profit established in honor of Kara Lemanowicz.

County approves single-use plastics ban

It was announced at the October freeholder board meeting that the county will ban all single-use plastics at county facilities and all county-sponsored events beginning Jan. 1.

According to a county release, such a ban includes all single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, stirrers and utensils, as well as Styrofoam and bottled water that comes in containers of one liter in volume or less.

Freeholder Jonathan Young, liaison to the office of sustainability, said the ban is an additional step toward what is already a growing culture of sustainability across the county.

“What really prompted us to do this is that we always say that we are number one in sustainability and it was really the time for us to step up and take the forefront and be the leader in the state about it,” Young said in an interview with The Sun.

He added that the Freeholder Board had discussed the topic over the past year and has continued to iron out the logistics of how such a ban on plastics and Styrofoam would work. One way is to speak with current and potential vendors about alternatives that could be used to ensure events can  be held that are sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

County extends Project SAVE for three years

The Camden County Board of Freeholders and Camden County Addiction Awareness Task Force announced a three-year extension of the Project SAVE (Substance Abuse Visionary Effort) pilot program Oct. 30 at Camden County College in Blackwood.

Originally started in Gloucester Township in 2014, the program pairs licensed social service professionals with low-level offenders in municipal court systems across 34 of the 37 municipalities in the county, in an effort to get residents treatment resources regardless of the ability to pay.

“The basic concept of Project SAVE is to become an early intervener for somebody who has been charged with a crime as related to a substance abuse disorder,” Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. said. “The goal is to introduce that person to somebody who can provide treatment.”

During the first 12 months of the pilot program, 467 low-level offenders were successfully referred for treatment to end their substance dependence, according to figures provided by Camden County.

Berlin 2019 election results

According to results by the Camden County Board of Elections, Rick Miller won the uncontested election for mayor of Berlin Borough after receiving 97.5 percent of the vote.

In the uncontested race for the two open seats on council, Jim Pearce received 49.35 percent of the vote while Andy Simone received 49.03 percent. All three election winners are members of the Berlin First party.

In the race for the three open seats with the Berlin Borough School District Board of Education, Kristen Simone, Rebecca Holland and Lisa Kehoe won the uncontested race. Incumbents Holland and Kehoe received 33.03 percent and 32.70 percent, respectively. Simone, new to the board, received 33.51 percent of the vote.

For the Eastern Camden County Regional School District Board of Education election, incumbent Robert De Cicco received 98.93 percent of the vote.