‘Chester in Spring’ photo contest now underway

The ‘Chester In Spring’ photo contest is now underway! Snap any photo taken in Chester this springtime and e-mail it to recreation@chesterborough to enter. The photo with the most combined likes on Chester Township Borough Facebook pages will win $25. One photo entry per person; open to all ages who are residents of Chester. Contest runs March 1 – May 31. Submit your photo early for the most likes. Voting open to all. All photos become the property of Chester Recreation.

Information about Prescribed Burns in NJ

From the NJ DEP

The New Jersey State Forest Fire Service advises residents that its seasonal prescribed burning program – which reduces wildfire risks by burning away the buildup of undergrowth, fallen trees and branches, leaves, pine needles and other debris on forest floors – is underway. Residents are advised that they may see large plumes of smoke in areas where these controlled burns are being conducted.

Prescribed burns will take place through the end of March, conditions permitting. These burns are generally conducted during the winter – especially toward the late-winter months – to minimize the amount of smoke produced, and when weather conditions tend to be safer for controlled fires.

“Prescribed burning is an important tool in keeping our forests and other wildlands safe and healthy,” said Bill Edwards, Chief of the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. “These burns are conducted only under exacting conditions by highly trained personnel. By burning them away now, we can reduce the risk of these materials serving as tinder for wildfires later in the year. This practice also improves the overall ecological health of our forests and grasslands.”

The New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry will provide as much notice as possible of prescribed burns through its Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/newjerseyforests. The public may also contact the State Forest Fire Service at (609) 292-2977 about the prescribed burning program and where burns are expected to be conducted. When in doubt about the source of smoke or fire, call 9-1-1 or 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337).

The peak wildfire season in New Jersey typically begins in middle to late March and runs through late spring, when the weather tends to be dry, windy and warmer. This also is the time of year when forest canopies and undergrowth have yet to leaf out, making forest debris more susceptible to the drying effects of wind and sunshine.

Because of the types of trees and shrubs it supports, the sprawling Pinelands region of southern New Jersey is particularly susceptible to wildfires and is typically the focus of much of the prescribed burning activity conducted by the Forest Fire Service.

During prescribed burns, Forest Fire Service personnel use hand-held torches to set smaller fires to burn away fallen leaves, pine needles, fallen branches and other debris on the forest floor. The personnel take into account wind, moisture and other conditions. These prescribed fires do not reach the forest canopy or cause significant loss of mature trees as wildfires do.

While the annual burning program began late last year, the Forest Fire Service is entering peak season for controlled burns. The Forest Fire Service expects to burn between 10,000 and 20,000 acres of forests and grasslands this season, depending on weather conditions. Most burns take place on state-owned property, such as state forests, parks and wildlife management areas.

“Prescribed burning has been a successful wildland fire mitigation tool used by the Forest Fire Service since the 1920s, protecting property, lives and infrastructure by creating defensible space around developed areas and strategic fire breaks that help the Forest Fire Service quickly contain wildfires,” said Richard Boornazian, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources.

In 2016, the Forest Fire Service responded to 1,065 wildfires, 75 percent of which were a quarter-acre or smaller. The largest was a 464-acre fire in Bass River State Forest in Burlington County.

Roads in areas where burns are taking place are clearly marked. Motorists traveling through these areas are advised to observe posted reduced speed limits and to be alert to the presence of trucks and Forest Fire Service personnel. During the burns, firefighters employ best management practices to control smoke impacts, but nearby residents and forest visitors should expect temporary smoke.

For more information on wildfires in New Jersey, steps you can take to protect your property and other resources, visit: www.njwildfire.org. For more information on New Jersey’s Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategies, visit: www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/forest/docs/NJFSassessment.pdf.

Storm info from JCP&L

From JCP&L:

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.

At JCP&L we’re providing more ways for our customers to report outages and check the progress of our efforts to restore service. We’re the first electric utility in New Jersey to offer outage reporting on our Facebook page. Now JCP&L customers have four easy options:
* Visit facebook.com/JCPandL and click the “Report an Outage” tab
* Sign up for text messaging with us and text “OUT” from your mobile phone
* Visit our 24/7 Power Center on www.jcp-l.com using a smartphone, tablet or laptop
* Call 1-888-LIGHTSS
To learn more visit www.jcp-l.com/connect

Meeting Feb. 9th on Master Plan Amendment for Highlands Conformance

On Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 pm, the Chester Borough Land Use Board will be meeting to discuss the Master Plan Amendment for Highlands Plan Conformance. The meeting will take place at the Chester Borough Municipal Building, 50 North Rd., Chester NJ. 
The public is invited to attend. The meeting agenda and associated documents can be found at the following link:

Taxes due February 1st

Taxes are due February 1st with a grace period until February 10th. Please have payment to the Tax Collector’s Office by that date as we don’t accept postmarks. If you have already paid your taxes, thank you.

For your convenience, we have installed a secured lock box at the front entrance for after hours payments.

Wood available for pick up

Provided the wood can be safely removed without impeding traffic, residents are welcome to take the wood on the side of the following streets.  Budd Avenue, Seminary Avenue, Ridge Road, Oak  and Orange Streets.

Radon Detection Canisters Available

The Bernards Township Health Department has radon detection canisters available for Chester Borough residents in single-family homes who would like to test their homes for radon gas. The kits are $10 each, and must be picked up at their office at 262 South Finley Avenue, Basking Ridge, NJ.

Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that comes from the breakdown of naturally occurring uranium in soil and rock. Radon gas moves up through the soil and finds its way into homes through cracks in the foundation and openings through pumps, pipes, and drains. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to radon may cause lung tissue damage in a way that can eventually lead to lung cancer. Any home might have elevated levels of radon even if neighboring homes do not. Testing your home is an easy method of detecting high radon levels, and homes with high levels can be mitigated. Winter is the best time of year for testing radon since it is heating season and all windows and doors are closed.

For more information, contact: ckomline@bernards.org or call (908) 204-3069 or click here.

Christmas tree pick up

Christmas Trees will be picked up on garbage day through the month of January by Mt. Olive.

Trees for removal should be curbside Tuesday night for early Wednesday morning pickup.

Any trees not out in time for morning collection will be picked up the following Wednesday.