By Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
This week we are finally experiencing some warmer temperatures and the sun has returned to us! Let’s hope the weather continues to improve as we head towards our “unofficial” start to summer, Memorial Day Weekend.
We’ve been pretty busy at the County the past several weeks. I am extremely pleased to say that despite all the rain we have had, the paving portion of the Ocean Avenue project is finished, with striping and some handicap accessible ramps yet to be completed. We are well paced to finish this project before the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Great job by our Public Works and Engineering staff in overseeing the logistics of the project, as well as the contractor, Stavola Contracting Company based in Tinton Falls.
Myself, along with my fellow Freeholders marked Arbor Day a few weeks ago with tree plantings at four county schools: Frank J. Dugan Elementary School in Marlboro, Holmdel Village Elementary School, Neptune Middle School and Sea Girt Elementary School.
It was impressive to see the students engaged and enthusiastic about Arbor Day, which afforded them an opportunity to express their knowledge and appreciation of planting and caring for trees. Arbor Day is celebrated in all 50 states and is testimony to the importance this country places on the many benefits that trees provide. It is a great opportunity to hear about what they learned and how it can be used to benefit our environment.
At the tree plantings, the freeholders handed out Douglas fir and White pine seedlings to each child. The children were encouraged to take their tree seedlings home, plant them and help with community reforestation.
This is the tenth year in a row that Monmouth County has been designated as a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Receiving this recognition acknowledges the tree workers, managers, volunteers, tree board members and others who work hard to maintain our trees. The County Shade Tree Commission plants between 1,000 and 1,500 trees and shrubs each year. But they do much more than just plant and maintain trees – when storms hit, crews go out to assess the damage to our trees and while removing the broken limbs from County roads.
Each year the County holds Arbor Day celebrations that include tree plantings as part of its community forestry program. The County Shade Tree Commission is responsible for the care and maintenance of all the County’s trees. Monmouth County actively participates in the Tree City USA program that is sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
On Monday, April 25, myself, along with Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, and Freeholders Burry and Curley commemorated the 123rd anniversary of the original reading of the Pledge of Allegiance as the country’s national oath of loyalty. The day was proclaimed “Twin Lights Day” honoring the historical significance of the museum and recitation of the pledge. The gathering also celebrated the grand reopening the refurbished Twin Lights Museum.
In 1893, Twin Lights was selected as the location for the first official reading of the Pledge of Allegiance. The Twin Lights plays an important part of our history that is often overlooked, and historic sites like this tell the story of Monmouth County’s past, demonstrate the importance of the County’s heritage today and provides a foundation for future generations. The County’s significant landmarks inform visitors of our rich history that played an important role in our nation’s growth. Monmouth County has many historic sites, including museums, battle sites and landmarks that are part of the state’s culture and play a vital role as a worldwide symbol of freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
As the weather begins to improve, we know that the summer months bring an increased population within many of our municipalities. Tourism in Monmouth County supports large and small businesses, and it plays a vital role in building and sustaining our economic vibrancy. Monmouth County sees about 5 million visitors each year. The Tourism industry helps to enhance the quality of life throughout Monmouth County as nearly 32,000 people are employed in tourism related jobs. We encourage our visitors and residents to visit our beaches, boardwalks, attractions, parks, historic sites, theaters, restaurants, downtowns and businesses. We are all looking forward to a warm, sunny and successful 2016 tourism season and will have a calendar of upcoming events in the next few weeks.
Thank you as always for your support.
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone can be reached at thomas.arnone @co.monmouth.nj.us