Camden County and state officials gathered at the county boathouse in Pennsauken on Jan. 17 for the first town hall of the year.
The meeting began with an honor for Air Force veteran Michael Scully, who was deployed eight times in his 27-year service to war zones that included Iraq and Afghanistan. He has received 37 ribbons and medals of accomplishments, including the Global War on Terrorism service medal and the Naval commendation medal.
Congressman Donald Norcross also presented a $475,000 check for construction of the Nutrition Hub at the county’s Lakeland Campus, near the health department. The project is currently in design. When the county took over Home Delivered Meals and the Congregate Nutrition Program in 2016, it initially used the campus for its Senior Social Wellness Center, Commissioner Virginia Betteridge explained.
“When we revamped the program, we brought in our health experts to ensure we had the proper equipment for food safety and distribution,” she added. “Therefore, we needed to upgrade our equipment and space started to become an issue.”
Due to the increased number of meals served per year during COVID, there is an increased need to restructure and create a space to handle operations, according to the county’s Office of Public Affairs. The facility’s main purpose will be meal distribution, and funding will be used as a “proactive approach to the future of food vulnerability.”
State Sen. Nilsa Cruz-Perez raised awareness during the town hall of programs happening at the state level, such as the Anchor Program, which is accepting applicants until Feb. 28. It provides some relief for homeowners and renters who meet income limits and the senator encouraged people to apply. More information can be found at https://bit.ly/3Wsk7qK.
Cruz-Perez also drew attention to the Winter Termination Program, which helps people who have trouble paying electrical, sewer or water bills.
“We passed legislation to include sewer and (water), so you cannot be terminated during the winter season starting Nov. 15 and ending March 15,” she pointed out.
More information can be found at https://bit.ly/3HeN4lM. Cruz-Perez also encouraged veterans to look into and apply for tax exemptions and deductions through the Office of Veterans Affairs.
County Commissioner Jonathan Young offered an overview of county achievements in 2022 and listed some things to look forward to this year at the town hall.
“The county has recently passed a budget that reduces the county tax levy by $5 million,’’ he advised attendees. “We still preserve our core mission of providing essential public safety, public works, educational, health services to residents, children and families of the region.
“That’s a true savings that is going into the consumer’s pocket.”
Young also said the county will invest $40 million into road construction during 2023.
“We continued to see growth in Camden County during the pandemic,” he noted, highlighting residential development under construction in Collingswood, Clementon, Cherry Hill and Winslow.
The county will also work on significant investments in stormwater infrastructure to create climate resiliency and resolve flooding issues.
As for other achievements, Young reflected on the Cramer Hill Waterfront Park, a $48-million project sponsored by the Department of Environmental Protection to turn the Harrison landfill into a 62-acre destination.
The full town hall can be viewed on the county Facebook page.