Mar 192015
 
Erin Kiefer, a naturalist at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ, gives a family-friendly presentation on Raptors of New Jersey, which include this barred owl.
John Rokita, principal lab technician at Stockton University, presents “Birding at Stockton.”

John Rokita, principal lab technician at Stockton University, presents “Birding at Stockton.”

About 500 people – including more children than ever before – attended the 26th annual Pinelands Short Course at Stockton University to explore the region’s unique history, ecology, culture and music.

Finn Duffey, 8, learned how to make a headache remedy by grinding up pine needles, smearing the poultice on an animal skin and tying it to his head during a presentation on Lenni Lenape Living in the Pines by Ginette Day of Burlington County College.

Finn attended with his grandmother, Bonnie Mullock of Cape May, while his mother, Mariah Duffey of Stockton’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, helped oversee the event.

The Short Course is sponsored by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission and was hosted by Stockton for the second straight year.

Day, of BCC’s Pinelands Institute for Natural and Environmental Studies, conducted a hands-on session in which attendees ground corn into flour using a hollowed-out tree stump and a branch as mortar and pestle.

She invited the group to travel back 600 years in time to experience how the Lenni Lenape lived, including preparing food, making herbal medicines and playing games with pieces made from stones, deer antlers, pine needles, clam shells and tree bark.

“The Lenni Lenape were probably the first people to hang out at the Jersey Shore. They were nomadic and relied on the natural world for resources,” Day said, explaining why they would move from the Delaware River shore, through the Pinelands and to the seashore, depending on the season.

“The Pinelands were an important place where they could find plants for food and medicine, and animals that provided food, clothing and bones to be made into tools,” Day said.

Many of those attending had been coming to the Pinelands Short Course for years, while others were first-timers.

The Connor family of Sweetwater, NJ represented both kinds of participants.

“We’ve come seven or eight times and we learn something new every time,” said Barbara Connor, referring to herself and husband Kyran. It was a first visit for their son, Eamonn, of Philadelphia.

She said she liked learning about “what’s in your backyard,” or in the case of one course she took, “Fishes of the Mullica River/Great Bay Estuary,” it was learning about “what we are swimming with.”

Eamonn Connor said he thought the Lenni Lenape course he attended was “a great way to expose kids to the Pinelands and their history.”

The new family-friendly track of courses was designed to attract more students from middle school and up, to instill a sense of Pinelands stewardship in new generations.

First-time courses this year included presentations on the Pinelands Jetport,  the Jersey Devil and the Origins of New Jersey, Lost Towns of the Pines, Wetlands and Hydrologic Gradients, From the Lens: Learning to Appreciate the Pinelands through Photography, Wilderness Survival Fundamentals, Waste Management/Recycling in the Pinelands, Birding the Pinelands at Stockton, and family-friendly programs on Sea Creatures with Amazing Features, Birding 101: Learning the Basics of Birdwatching and the Lenni Lenape course.

Popular presentations from the past were reprised, including: Pinelands Frogs and Toads, Raptors of New Jersey (with live raptors, another family friendly course), Know the Bear Facts: Black Bears in New Jersey (also family friendly), Dragonflies and Damselflies of the Pinelands, Batsto through the Years, Atlantic White Cedar: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Pinelands Stream-water Quality and Aquatic Communities, Lure of the Pine Barrens, Estell Manor Park, New Jersey’s Biodiversity: North & South and A Photographic Journey through the Pinelands National Reserve.

Live music was provided by the Thomas Wesley Stern Band and Tunes & Tales.

Photo credit:  Paul Leakan/New Jersey Pinelands Commission


 

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Mar 192015
 
Galloway Twp. Library Lego club March 2015
Galloway Twp. Library Lego club March 2015

Galloway Twp. Library Lego club March 2015

The Lego Club meets at the library from 4pm until 5pm. A fun filled hour of amazing Lego building creations.  The library provides all the Legos the children provide the imagination.   Miss Dana is there to help the children with their construction if needed. Gather with other LEGO lovers to build something & show the rest of the group.  Appropriate for ages 6 and older to find out more visit www.atlanticlibrary.org/galloway_township_branch or call 609-652-2352.


 

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Mar 192015
 
"Chopped" Chef at Galloway Twp Library March 2015
"Chopped" Chef at Galloway Twp Library March 2015

“Chopped” Chef at Galloway Twp Library March 2015

The Galloway Library Hosted a Dessert “Chopped” on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.   Eleven Chefs called on their culinary skills as they faced off against one another to prepare a spectacular dessert for the three judges.  Each of the Chefs was given a basket to fill with ingredients in which they were to use to prepare their desserts.  They must use all things in the basket within the period given; this is what they came up with. Chef Nick prepared Sundae Supreme. Chef Abby prepared Abby’s Surprise. Chef Lauren prepared S’mores Galore. Chef Brandon prepared Gummy Bear Surprise. Chef Zoe prepared S’more and Cookie Kick. Chef Chloe prepared Chocolate Graham Cracker Cake Pop. Chef Isabella prepared The Gooey Surprise. Chef Kendra prepared Extreme S’more. Chef April prepared Graham Cracker Rainbow Surprise. Chef Anaisa prepared Chocolate Volcano. Chef Amber prepared S’mores with red hots and candy with whip cream and graham cracker.  Chef Chloe was the winner. She received a gift card from Dairy Queen.  Miss Dana has provided time after time great events for children of all ages.  For more information go to www.atlanticlibrary.org/galloway_township_branch or call 609-652-2352.


 

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Mar 152015
 
Weddings in Galloway Twp. NJ. Galloway Twp. has the best wedding facilities in NJ.
Weddings in Galloway Twp. NJ. Galloway Twp. has the best wedding facilities in NJ.

Weddings in Galloway Twp. NJ. Galloway Twp. has the best wedding facilities in NJ.

The Spring Smithville Inn Bridal Show was a huge success. On Wednesday, March 11 from 6 to 9pm, The Smithville Inn held their annual bridal show.  Brides to be along with ladies from all over South Jersey came out to get information from DJs, photographers, bridal shops, hair and make up salons, plus, see sample table settings with food and deserts.  Many businesses from Galloway were there; Tangles Beauty Studio provided not only a great table display but did all the models hair for the bridal dress show.  Escape Beauty Boutique, Fred and Ethels, and many more were also at the show.  The Smithville Inn knows how to put together an exceptional event.

Galloway is a popular wedding destination as it is home to some of the North East’s best wedding locations.  Galloway Township wedding halls / locations include the Historic Smithville Inn, the Rams Head, the Stockton Seaview Resort, Renault Winery and the Carriage House.  Those are 5 of the most desirable wedding locations anywhere.  It’s nice to know that a family community like a Galloway takes the lead in helping to start families.


 

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Mar 082015
 
Voting is this Tuesday on more than 52 million dollars in improvements to local high schools
Absegami High School in Galloway Twp. NJ

Absegami High School in Galloway Twp. NJ

Does anyone even know what they are voting for this Tuesday?

Galloway residents are being asked to approve an additional fifty four million dollars plus, on top of the existing  high school’s budget, for “various improvements”.  None of the money would go to any of the elementary schools or middle school.

On March 7th 2015 (Friday), Galloway township residents received an “Official Special School Election Sample Ballot” in the mail to advise them of public questions to be voted upon on March 10th 2015 (Tuesday).  The “questions” to be voted upon are very confusing and make absolutely no sense.  Additionally, why are residents receiving this now?

Not too long ago, a law was passed in New Jersey allowing school districts to stop holding “special elections” in the spring and make them part of the general elections in the fall (November).  This was done simply to save money, as school districts must rent machines, move them, conduct voting and manage the process.

Virtually every district in New Jersey has taken advantage of this money saving opportunity.  Obviously, the next question is, why has Galloway not?

The explanation is simple and complex at the same time. Many Galloway residents are quite angry and frustrated about property taxes.  In the entire state there seems to be little control over the continuing increase in these taxes.

As many are aware the largest portion of property taxes goes to the school budget.  There is no question that it should.  Schools are certainly the most important function of a community.  That being said, are they effective administrators of their budgets?

I hope that if you are reading this, you don’t think this is about partisan politics or anti-union rhetoric.  Our schools are the single most important effort in our community, any community.  Our teachers have a job that is critical to the advancement and success of society.

The truth is, typically, there is oversight.  A township normally has an elected board of community members to oversee the schools budget.

Galloway Township does not have an autonomous board of education that directly oversees Absegami high school’s budget or operation.  This is very important for residents to know.  Years ago under the concept of combining services with other townships to save money, Galloway school’s board of education gave up direct positive control over its own high school.  It sounded like a reasonable idea then but time has proven the concept is seriously flawed.

The Galloway Patriot has printed a few news stories that explain how the “district” works but ultimately, it is very complex and seems to be dysfunctional.

The fact that Galloway as a community has little to no control over its own high school is disturbing.  It is even more disturbing that there is such a lack of oversight.  While many of the “district’s” indiscretions have gone largely unnoticed, some are glaring.  First, let’s take “robo-calls”.  Many residents have received robo-calls from the high school asking for their vote in favor of the upcoming budget vote.  Many people are not aware that these calls are a direct violation of the federal voting laws.  Many residents also received a letter asking for their vote.

The district is using the robo-calls less now as they have discovered it’s just easier to hold a special election resulting in a very low turn-out.  In the “Special Spring Election”, historically, very few voters go to the polls.  In addition, if a “sample ballot” which says, “Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District”, is sent, Galloway residents think it doesn’t apply to them.  The Galloway Patriot asked a few people if they received this sample ballot.  Of the ones that did, they simply threw it out as they believed it had nothing to do with them as Galloway residents.

What is even worse, if you do open it and read it, the questions (budget) to be voted upon, are very vague and difficult to understand.  The “Interpretive Statement” at the bottom is no less frustrating and unclear.

The high school district has scheduled a “special election” that, win or lose, will cost Galloway taxpayers money.  They sent out a warning at the last minute right before the weekend that is both impossible to understand and misleading.

If, this is an effort to manipulate the vote, it will be easy.  It is likely few will show up to vote on Tuesday, March 10th 2015.  All that is needed are a few supporters to vote “yes” and on Wednesday you get the bill.

Rejecting the budget proposal on Tuesday by voting “No” will not impede Galloway schools or hurt teachers. It would serve to protect our ability to maintain control over how taxpayer money is used, so that top quality education may be sustained into the future.  In addition, taxpayers must demand clarity in the questions upon which they are asked to vote: Is it for books, a roof or teachers?  Please explain in detail, “debt service”, “bond proposals” and what are the “various improvements”.  Why are there hundreds of thousands of dollars for “various improvements” going to the newly built “Cedar Creek High School”?

Galloway residents must know more before they can make an informed decision.  The schools must start by showing taxpayers that they intend to operate efficiently and not needlessly spend money.  Holding a special election in the spring which costs the taxpayers a considerable amount for no justifiable reason is certainly evidence that they waste money.

The schools must also very plainly give taxpayers the reason more money is needed.  The questions must specifically list what the money is for and what the terms are if the township is borrowing it.

The Galloway Patriot welcomes the high school’s position on this matter.  The Galloway Patriot wants to provide an opportunity to the high school to makes its case to the residents of Galloway as to why more than fifty two million dollars is needed. As stated they should specifically outline, in understandable terms what the funds are needed for. They should also offer details regarding any necessary loans, along with the terms associated with them.

The Galloway Patriot will print as much as possible, space allowing, in the print edition mailed to approximately 14,000 Galloway homes.  Any portion that does not fit in the print edition will be posted on GallowayPatriot.com.

The schools are pushing hard to win this time as they lost last year on these issues.  In addition to letters sent to parents they have also set up a website, “forthegreatergood2015.org“, to plead their case.  The Galloway Patriot has no way of verifying the accuracy of statements made on the site.  Why are the questions on the ballot so ambiguous and vague if they could be presented in a clear official capacity?  Both sides can make arguments for and against this budget increase.  Ultimately, all that matters is what is written on the ballot when you vote.  To that point, the questions should be understandable to all voters.

For additional information on how the school district works.  Please see the previous article containing an interview with Senator Chris Connors explaining its operation.

Please also vote in the GallowayPatriot.com poll, “Should Galloway take back control of its high school?”


 

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