A Letter from Mayor Janet Hoven

Mayor Hoven addresses the community on issues such as the recent storms, brush collection, solid waste collection, budget, spring and summer happenings, and openings on commissions. Please take a few minutes to read about the storm recovery and other topics. Click here to access the newsletter. (Must open up this post to access link.)

Chester Borough Names Property at 50 North Road

The Chester Borough Council Has unanimously voted to name the Open Space property at 50 North Road, the Seward Hill Preserve. The Preserve, purchased by the Borough in 2009 from Alcatel-Lucent, consists of 64 acres, which are restricted to passive recreation. There are an additional 22 acres on the parcel which are owned by the municipality and the buildings house the municipal offices and department of public works in addition to the Chester Board of Education.

The prominent feature of the property is Seward Hill.  The Seward Family dates back to the 1700s in Chester.  According to Chester, New Jersey A Scrapbook of History by Frances Greenidge (1974), Obiadiah Seward was a “Black River Patriot” in the Revolutionary War. The Seward Farm was passed down in the Seward family until it was sold to the pastor of the Chester Congregational Church, sometime around 1801.  A portion of an old “Seward” house can still be seen on Seward Place in Chester Borough.  The original Seward Farm was known as the “Welcome Home Farm.”

In 1928, Bell Telephone Laboratories purchased what by then was referred to as Seward’s Hill, as an outdoor testing site.  According to Mrs. Greenidge, the spot was chosen “for its altitude of over a thousand feet, and for its ‘particularly good wind exposure on open wires.’’’ In 1929, the original “telephone pole forest” was installed.

At some point, John and Willard Apgar, decedents of early settlers of Chester, decided to erect a Christmas Star on the Hill, which remains a tradition to this day.  Mrs. Greenidge also mentioned that the Bell Lab employees enjoyed working on the property and one of them brought in a high powered telescope and placed it on the Hill.  It is said that on a clear day, the men could count 33 stories of the Empire State Building.

Today, the Seward Hill Preserve is home to a trails system which winds its way through Chester Township and Borough.  Native plantings dot the landscape and wildlife freely roam its environs.

Storm Update, March 7th

5:00pm

Heaviest snow this afternoon
From Chester Police: Please stay off roads until further notice. Conditions rapidly deteriorating. Shelter in place.
JCP&L late afternoon report: “For the safety of our workers, we have ceased work until the weather is more favorable except for life and limb emergencies.
We are getting more outages from today’s snow storm. Again, we will work to restore customers from the first storm before today’s except where safety dictates.
Our current outage counts do not necessarily reflect the work done today and also reflect ongoing current outages.
JCP&L has restored power to more than 242,000 of the nearly 272,000 customers in New Jersey affected by the recent storm that inflicted widespread damage on its facilities. More than 4,100 employees and contractors – including about 1,500 line workers – are now involved in the massive effort and will continue working until full restoration is achieved. An additional 200 line workers are arriving in New Jersey today from Virginia. Approximately 29,000 customers remain out of service, primarily in Hunterdon, Morris, Warren and Sussex counties.
As part of its storm restoration process, JCP&L has taken the following steps:
• Ramped up storm updates on social media and on the company website. Follow JCP&L on Twitter @JCP_L, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JCPandL or online at www.jcp-l.com
• Aired radio ads telling customers how to prepare for storms
• Initiated update calls with officials
• Activated its Emergency Command Center
• Activated its Incident Command System
• Communicated with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators, and local officials about storm restoration efforts
• Staffed additional dispatchers and analysts at regional dispatch officesAfter local power lines are repaired and put back in service, damage to individual
customer service wires may become apparent. Customers are reminded that if their neighbor’s power is on and theirs is not, the problem may be isolated to their individual service, and service to the neighbor could be fed from a different circuit. Customers are encouraged to report such problems, even at this latter stage in the restoration process.
JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report downed wires to their utility at 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877)”
Trash pickup:
Blue Diamond Disposal will pick up garbage tomorrow (Thursday 3/8) in Chester Township.  Recycling collection has not yet been modified; assume Friday pickup until we hear otherwise.
Chester Borough Recycling collection has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 8th.  Recycling cans must be curbside by 7 am.

From today’s Mayors’ Call with JCP&L:

  • JCP&L repeatedly assured us that the customers who have been without power the longest are their top priority, even through today’s snowstorm.
  • Despite JCP&L’s automated system constantly giving bad info, residents without power should continue to call every day to report the outage.
  • Providing accurate estimates of when power will come back on is fluid and is often altered based on differences between what was expected when the initial damage assessment was done and the extent of the damage that is actually discovered once the work crews arrive.  They have discovered more broken poles and more complex damage once they arrive on the scene than what was initially reported in the early hours and days after the storm hit.
  • JCP&L has been using helicopters to help assess damage, but in areas with heavy tree canopies, like Chester Township,  they’ve been using drones. Drones have been reported on Cromwell Avenue off Pleasant Hill Road. The drones are not being used to verify outages. They are not being operated from miles away but are being used within the line of sight of the operators.
During these daily conference calls with JCP&L, NJ mayors do not receive updates on individual towns or streets, even when we ask for such information. The mayors are as frustrated as the residents as to the lack of information.
Our Police Chief is working tirelessly in the name of public safety to get the roads open and power restored. The Mayors and Police Chief are in constant contact. Even though the information we put out may not be what you are looking for, it’s all we have.
We wish to thank everyone for the feedback you’ve been sending our way. We’ll be working with JCP&L and other elected county and state officials, as well as our own Borough and Township staff  to determine how we could improve procedures and information in the event of another serious weather event.
We thank you for your patience and kindness both to each other and to the workers who are on the ground.
Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township
Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough

JCP&L Storm Update – March 7, 2018

Afternoon briefing:
JCP&L Continuing Massive Restoration Effort  as New, Powerful Storm Impacts New Jersey Customers Without Power the Longest Remain Top Priority 
Morristown, N.J. – More than 4,100 utility workers continue their efforts around the clock to restore customers of Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) as a new snowstorm creates hazardous conditions and the potential for additional outages in northern New Jersey.
Last night, the Governor of New Jersey declared a State of Emergency for the entire state. Heavy wet snow, falling at rates as much as two inches an hour, may cause more tree damage, block roads that were previously cleared, damage additional poles and wires, and make driving difficult for utility crews. JCP&L remains focused on restoring customers who have been out the longest, and will address any new outages based on its priority system that deals with the largest outages first.
JCP&L has restored power to more than 242,000 of the nearly 272,000 customers in New Jersey affected by the recent storm that inflicted widespread damage on its facilities. More than 4,100 employees and contractors – including about 1,500 line workers – are now involved in the massive effort and will continue working until full restoration is achieved. An additional 200 line workers are arriving in New Jersey today from Virginia. Approximately 29,000 customers remain out of service, primarily in Hunterdon, Morris, Warren and Sussex counties. Until the full impact of today’s storm is known, it is difficult to predict an overall restoration time, but local estimates will continue to be posted at www.firstenergycorp.com/outages.
“We’re entering the most time-consuming phase of this effort – restoring individual homes to service – and inclement weather and bad roads could create more challenges,” said Jim Fakult, president of JCP&L. “But we have a massive contingent of crews on the ground who are up to the challenge of working safely in snowy conditions so we can get our impacted customers back up and running again.”
As part of its storm restoration process, JCP&L has taken the following steps:
• Ramped up storm updates on social media and on the company website. Follow JCP&L on Twitter @JCP_L, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JCPandL or online at www.jcp-l.com
• Aired radio ads telling customers how to prepare for storms
• Initiated update calls with officials
• Activated its Emergency Command Center
• Activated its Incident Command System
• Communicated with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators, and local officials about storm restoration efforts
• Staffed additional dispatchers and analysts at regional dispatch officesAfter local power lines are repaired and put back in service, damage to individual
customer service wires may become apparent. Customers are reminded that if their
neighbor’s power is on and theirs is not, the problem may be isolated to their individual
service, and service to the neighbor could be fed from a different circuit. Customers are
encouraged to report such problems, even at this latter stage in the restoration process.
JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report downed wires to their utility at 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877), or to their local police or fire department. Customers should never go near a downed wire even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity. Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris.

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Morning briefing:
“JCP&L continues to work the restoration process from last week’s storm, even as a new storm has arrived in the area. As of 9:30 this morning, we have 29,000 customers out, with minimal new outages from today’s storm right now. We remain committed to restoring service to customers who were impacted by the storm Friday, and are prioritizing those outages in our system.
 
We now have more than 4,000 people on the ground working, and we will be holding those crews until all customers from both storms are restored. We also plan to work through today’s storm, addressing public safety hazards as they arise.
 
We have three staging areas set up, one each in Sussex, Morris and Hunterdon counties to provide more immediate response and concentrate our efforts.
 
JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report any downed wires to the company, or their local police and fire department. Customers should never go near a downed power line and extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris.
 
Customers are reminded to report outages by calling 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) or by clicking the “Report Outage link at www.firstenergycorp.com.”

March 6th – Prepare for new storm; recovery continues

From the Morris County Office of Emergency Management:
The Morris County Office of Emergency Management has activated its Emergency Operations Center, and is monitoring the pending storm.
We have serious concerns with regards to the current forecast data due to our current Morris County electrical outage issues, and our many Morris County residents that still remain without power. At the time of this communication, we currently have 14,183 JCP&L customers without power. We spoke with members of the JCP&L team earlier this morning, and it does not appear that we will see resolve prior to the arrival of this next storm. The current restoration time estimate provided by the JCP&L team is Thursday, March 8th at 11:30PM, however, we expect this estimate will likely change depending on the magnitude of the incoming storm.
With each forecast update, we see increased confidence that we will be dealing with a major storm, as snowfall totals have significantly increased since yesterday. We have reviewed models predicting approximately 1ft. of snow, with increased totals of up to 20″ in the higher elevation areas. We have also reviewed other models showing snowfall totals between 7-10″ with a worst case scenario of 10-15″. At the height of the storm, we anticipate seeing snowfall rates of 1-3″ per hour. Regardless of which model we review at this time, we recognize that we are in for a major storm, and we are planning accordingly. The snow is expected to begin late this evening and will continue through Wednesday. Due to the heavy and wet nature of the snow, trees and power lines will once again be at a higher risk to come down, especially those that suffered damage from the last storm. Although the winds will not be as significant as the last storm, we anticipate seeing gusts between 25-35mph.

Prepare at Home: Stock up! 

  • Food that doesn’t require heating or refrigeration
  • Water (1 gallon per person per day)
  • Flashlights and batteries
  • Battery powered or hand-crank radio
  • Battery powered clock
  • First Aid Kit
  • Medications and Medical Items (if necessary)
  • Cellphones with chargers
  • Pet food, water, and additional supplies
  • Baby supplies (formula, bottles, diapers, etc.)
  • Alternate heating methods (wood, coal burning stoves, etc.)
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, boots, and extra blankets
  •  Keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  •  Check tires for proper inflation
  •  Check antifreeze
  •  Pack emergency supplies in a backpack for a kit on-the-go:
    • Ice scraper
    • Jumper cables
    • Tire chains
    • Small shovel
    • First Aid Kit
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • Warning Flares or reflective triangle

On the Road: Winterize your vehicle. Have a Plan. Be Prepared.

From Chester Office of Emergency Management:
Be advised that a significant weather event will be starting at 9 p.m. tonight that is expected to extend through midnight Wednesday.  If you feel you can’t shelter in place for this time period due to a power outage or other circumstances, it is recommended that you leave today before the storm begins.  Consider staying with relatives, friends, or checking into a hotel.
We anticipate that Morris County OEM will be establishing countywide shelters.  More information on these shelters will be forthcoming later today.   We will post updates as they become available.
Wednesday trash pickup: 

Chester Borough trash will be picked up very early Wednesday morning, March 7th.  Trash cans must be curbside by 4:45 am. Wherever possible the crews will attempt to pick up trash around road closures.

Recycling collection has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 8th.  Recycling cans must be curbside by 7 am.
From JCP&L: 
Crews are currently working on State Park Road, South Road, Hillside Road and Pleasant Hill Road.  Once these jobs are complete, crews will move on to the other outages in town.  JCP&L will continue working through the snow storm tomorrow.

JCP&L continues to adhere to the priority list as follows:

  • 911 calls
  • Critical facilities
  • Road openings
  • Schools
  • Largest customers
  • Smaller groups
  • Single customers
We know that neighbors are helping neighbors and are appreciative of how supportive Chester Township residents are to one another.  Please continue to check on each other and offer assistance as needed.
Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough
Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township

Storm Recovery Update – March 5th

STORM RECOVERY UPDATE

Good evening,

A few notes from the Mayors’ call with JCP&L this afternoon (March 5th):

• The majority of customers will be restored by the end of business on Tuesday.  JCP&L believes, at this time, that only single home outages will completed by the end of business Wednesday or Thursday.  

• JCP&L now has a staging site near County College of Morris in Randolph, which brings resources closer to Chester.  Additional crews are arriving today. (Initially they were only staging up at Sussex County Fairgrounds.) 

• There are 2900 workers on the job now, representing JCP&L employees, mutual aid companies and PSE&G employees who have been loaned to JCP&L.

• The tree on Hillside Road was cleared today.  

• Crews are in town clearing the remaining roads in the Borough and Township.

• JCP&L is hyper-aware of impending snow on Wednesday and the ability of our towns’ DPW trucks to plow where there are still wires and trees across the roads. JCP&L crews can and will work through snow, although the bucket trucks will be shut down if winds reach 35-40 mph. 

• They are working with the county OEMs to prioritize road openings. Chester Police provides input on those priorities.

• JCP&L continues to adhere to the priority list as follows:

911 calls

Critical facilities

Road openings

Schools

Largest customers 

Smaller groups

Single customers 

• JCP&L is providing free water and ice to residents who have lost power. Shop Rite of Chester is one of the distribution sites, as is Kings in Mendham. Stop by the Customer Service desk to find out how to redeem this offer. 

When this storm has passed and things get back to normal, the Mayors will arrange a public meeting with the JCP&L Municipal Liaison. We ask that residents compile a list of concerns and suggestions in preparation for that time, while they are fresh in your mind.

DPW Update

Parts or all of these roads still have closures today:

  • Hillside Rd.
  • Cora Lane
  • Fox Chase Rd.
  • Ironia Rd.
  • Melrose Dr.
  • Pleasant Hill Rd.
  • Pottersville Rd.
  • Benjamin/Frederick
  • Rogers Rd.
  • Furnace Rd.

Chester Township and Borough DPW crews are preparing for the impending storm expected to arrive on Tuesday evening.  These late winter snows are usually very heavy snows which can result in more trees down, and more mailboxes being knocked over from the weight of the snow.  

If your mailbox has been damaged by plows:

Borough residents- notify Scott Beam at sbeam@chesterborough.org or 908-879-3660 ext. 2118

In anticipation of Wednesday’s snow, electronics waste collection is being rescheduled to Saturday, March 10th from 8:00am-12:00pm. There will be no collection on Wednesday, March 7th.

Brush pick-up in the Borough will likely be the first two weeks of April.

Offices/Schools Reopening

Chester Borough offices will reopen on Tuesday, March 6 at 8:00 am. 

The Chester School District has announced that school will reopen this Tuesday, March 6th. West Morris Mendham HS will be open. West Morris Central HS is still without power, and will announce tomorrow’s schedule when it’s clear whether or not power will be restored.

Offering Assistance

Please continue to check on neighbors in need. If you have tried to contact a neighbor in town that you are concerned about, and have not been able to reach them, please call the police non-emergency number and request a ‘welfare check.’ The non-emergency number is (908) 879-5514, option ‘0’.

Area businesses are largely open and ready for visitors. Please call ahead to confirm individual schedules. Nitroflex Fitness Gym is offering use of its showers to area residents. Local gas stations are open, Shop Rite is open, the Chester Library is open, and area restaurants are open. Local churches are offering warmth and refreshments to those in need; please contact them directly for assistance.

Non-potable water is available from a tap outside the Barn at Highlands Ridge Park, 100 North Rd.

Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Hopefully, the storm this week will be the last!

Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township

Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough

ALL RESIDENTS URGED TO SIGN UP FOR EMERGENCY NOTIFICATIONS

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Everbridge Emergency Notification System, NOW would be a good time. Keep informed about emergency conditions. Registration takes about 5-10 minutes. This is a Morris County initiative, and it is used by the Chester Police Department. Please sign up today here.

The Everbridge Emergency Notification System is currently in use county-wide by Morris County, NJ. This is an emergency alert system, similar to the Honeywell system used by the Chester School District, which allows you to sign up to have emergency information sent to you by home phone, cell phone, text, and/or email, according to your specifications. It is so important for our local office of Emergency Management to be able to reach all residents in the event of an emergency, be it weather-related, a natural disaster, chemical spill, or should a lock-down situation be required. Please set up your profile as soon as possible.

Smart 911

Residents of the Chesters can now sign up for Smart 911. With this service, regardless of whether you call from your home phone or your cell phone, first responders will be made aware of any information that might help you in the event of an emergency. This information might include medical needs, emergency contacts, specifics about your home, pets, and/or vehicles.  View a Power Point presentation about what this service offers and how you can sign up here.

Social Media

If you aren’t a Twitter user, you can still receive tweeted alerts. Emergency tweets can show up as texts on your phone. Here’s how: text the message ‘follow @ChesterPoliceNJ’ to the number 40404. You’ll get a confirmation message, and will receive texts whenever the Chester Police Department tweets out emergency information.

The public radio system serving the Chester area is up and running. In the event of an emergency, information is broadcast through this system. Take a moment to set your car radio to 1630AM.  The server for the link can only handle about 100 users at a time, so there may be a wait in accessing. The intention is for users to tune in on a car radio and not via computer during power outages.

Please let neighbors and local contacts know about these methods of receiving emergency information. Help spread the word!

NJ REGISTER READY

This program offers residents with special needs and their families, friends and associates an opportunity to provide information to emergency response agencies, so emergency responders can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency. The information collected here is confidential and will not be available to the public. You can register at:

https://www13.state.nj.us/SpecialNeeds/Signin?ReturnUrl=%2fSpecialNeeds%2f

Any questions please contact Chief Tom Williver at 908-879-5514 x831.

Visit the website for the Chester Township Office of Emergency Management for further information about how to prepare your home for emergencies at

https://chestertownship.org/departments/emergency-info/public-safety-emergency-services/

JCP&L update

March 4th – statement from JCP&L:

JCP&L has experienced extensive infrastructure damage within its transmission and distribution systems; in particular, within northern New Jersey, hundreds of downed trees, approximately 200 broken poles and 1,000 spans of conductor. JCP&L continues its efforts to restore service with public and employee safety at the forefront. Restoration efforts are focused on reducing hazards associated with downed power lines and road closures due to downed power lines.

Public safety is our top priority. JCP&L crews continue to focus on safely clearing downed wires, opening roads for emergency access and restoring service to our customers. Reminder to everyone—stay away from downed wires.

While we anticipate the majority of customers will be restored by late Tuesday night, the anticipated restoration time for customers in the hardest hit areas of northern Morris and Sussex counties is Wednesday, March 7th at 11:30pm. This information will be updated in the FirstEnergy 24/7 Power Center. Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we restore service to our customers.

Report a Power Outage 888-544-4877 (888-LIGHTSS)

24/7 Power Center: http://outages.firstenergycorp.com/nj.html

************************************************

Yesterday on the JCP&L elected officials update call, several mayors brought to our attention that their constituents were upset because they had received phone calls or text alerts with erroneous Estimated Times of Restoration (ETRs).  We regret this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.  The problem occurred due to a system error and it has been corrected.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Also, JCP&L will be performing helicopter patrols of our Northern New Jersey transmission lines on Sunday March 4th. Two helicopters will be utilized to facilitate the process. The helicopter information is below.

Company: Haverfield Aviation
Helicopter: N371EE
Description: Black with red tail numbers

Company: Haverfield Aviation
Helicopter N369D
Description: Black with red tail numbers

JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report any downed wires to the company, or their local police and fire department.  Customers should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.  Extra caution should be used in areas where downed lines are tangled in trees or other debris.  To report downed wires or power outages, call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877), or click the “Report Outage” link at www.firstenergycorp.com.

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March 3rd– 5:00pm Update from JCP&L call with Mayors this afternoon:

​This was a difficult storm because​ heavy wet snow was preceded by 12 hours of rain, leading to saturated ground and then damaging high winds. These conditions resulted in many downed trees.

Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties were most heavily affected​.​ There are over ​460 road closures in ​these ​affected counties​.​

It is i​mportant for residents to​ report outages to JCP&L even if you think your neighbors have already done so, or if you think your information isn’t necessary; JCP&L bases their response on the number of customers affected.

1500 workers are being mobilized from other areas and are ​on their way. There are challenges getting crews to affected areas due to closed roads.

​JCP&L is w​orking through ​its ​protocol of priorities, which is safety first, then restoration.
  • 911 calls
  • critical facilities
  • ​r​oad openings
  • then outages

Cut and make safe crews are out now, repair crews will ​follow; priority today is safety.​

Shop Rite in Chester is a water/ice center.  Go to courtesy counter and receive voucher.

Residents should expect outages to last 2-3 days.

Chester Township and Borough residents should report outages and downed wires to JCP&L first, then report downed wires and dangerous conditions to Chester Police ​on its non-emergency line ​at 908-879-5514.

The Mayors have been in contact with Assemblyman Bucco, who is monitoring our storm recovery progress.

The Mayors have also been in frequent contact with our JCP&L area representative who gives us as much specific info as he possibly can.

More updates will be provided as available. We are grateful for your patience and cooperation as we work to recover from this storm.
Please continue to check on neighbors to help keep them informed and safe.
Thank you,
Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township
Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough

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11:00am    JCP&L notified the Mayor that there are 136 outages in the Borough.  Realistically, residents should plan on being without power for at least a couple of days.  Crews are being dispatched to the area.  Updates will be provided as received.  Warming center is open from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the Highlands Ridge Barn on North Road.

Public Invited to Joint Budget Meeting 2/20

The annual joint meeting of the Chester Borough and Township Mayors and Councils will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 PM at the Borough Municipal Building 50 North Road.  The public is invited to attend.

Representatives of the Chester Library, Chester First Aid Squad (CFAS) and the Chester Volunteer Fire Company (CVFC) will present their 2018 respective budgets.
Additionally, using the recent fire on Prides Crossing in the Township as an example, the CVFC, along with the CFAS, will describe the protocol used during a major fire event. Due to the scope of the fire, mutual aid fire companies came to Chester to assist.  Hear how logistically all of these volunteer groups work together and how the CFAS provides medical services to the volunteers fighting the blaze.

Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Opportunity

Mayor Hoven and the NJ State League of Municipalities announce a scholarship opportunity for West Morris Mendham HS juniors and seniors who reside in Chester Borough.  The Louis Bay 2nd Future Municipal Leaders Scholarship Competition offers three $1000 scholarships to students who enter a statewide competition in which they write about about “What my Municipal Government Does Best.”

Full details and an application can be found at this link. Please share this information with interested students.