I would like to take the time to reflect upon and recognize the 19th anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks our nation endured on September 11th, 2001. Though the years have passed, we will never forget the lives and legacies of those who lost their lives or the first responders who bravely did their jobs.
It is our duty to always remember the horrific events that took place on that day, as well as, to never forget those we lost and how that day changed our lives forever. However, in order to never forget, our youth must be taught about 9/11 and the events that transpired that day and how it changed the course of American history forever.
The current generation of high school students were almost all born after this defining moment, so while the attacks may seem like yesterday to those old enough to remember, to most of our students, it’s part of history. In order to teach them, we must first talk about the events that took place that day and how the repercussions are still felt today.
In honor of the promise to never forget, I spent Friday, September 11th throughout the County at memorial services to remember, commemorate, and reflect on the lives of our fellow Americans, especially the 147 Monmouth County residents who tragically lost their lives that day.
In the morning, Monmouth County held a 9/11 Memorial Service at the Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook in Atlantic Highlands. Following our memorial, my fellow Freeholders and I, along with Sheriff Shaun Golden and Clerk Christine Hanlon sponsored a “Tribute in Lights” at our county park, Mount Mitchell, for three nights that began on Friday, Sept. 11, to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the tragic attacks that occurred on 9/11.
On the last night of the tribute lights, we decided to honor all of our first responders and military for their courageous efforts and sacrifice, not only on that solemn day, but every day. The tribute lights lit four different colors, rotating every 15 minutes for four hours; red for our firefighters, blue for our police officers, white for our EMS and hospital workers and green for our military. As we remember all those who perished on that dreadful day, it is important for us to also remember and thank those heroes who risked their lives to help save and protect others.
On another note, last week I had the honor of speaking about the importance of open space in Monmouth County at a Press Conference held by Middletown Mayor Tony Perry and the Township Committee at Poricy Park. It is vital that we preserve our open space, not only in Middletown, but throughout the entire County. Open space serves many essential purposes for our residents and community and we must continue to do whatever we can to preserve it. I am urging all Middletown residents to vote yes for open space on November 3rd!
Additionally, I attended the dedication for the Count Basie Center’s East Side Campus. It is always great to support Count Basie and our arts community, especially during these difficult times. This expansion will be an amazing addition to the Basie once we are fully back open.
I also I want to update you of the Monmouth County CARES Act Small Business Grants. I am pleased to announce that as of today, Monmouth County has processed 1,562 of the 2172 grant applications that have been received and dispersed almost $12 million since August.
My fellow Freeholders and I stand strong in our decision to control and operate the program with the assistance of an outside consulting firm and will continue to support and assist our small business community.
For specific questions or concerns pertaining to the grant and the application process, please visit monnmouthcountycares.com or call 732-375-2196, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Speaking of small businesses, I want to commend all of our small business owners for the great job they are doing in complying with the State mandates. Reopening our businesses indoors at 25% capacity has proven to be successful and our business owners have proven that they can safely open and operate their businesses. I am hoping that the State will, at the very least, give a time line of when these businesses can open at 50% capacity.
I see no reason for our restaurant and small businesses to not be able to open indoors at 50% capacity. While 25% capacity is a start, it is an extremely low number that for most of our small businesses will not bring enough revenue to pay the bills.
As I am sure everyone is aware, I have been extremely vocal in calling on our State to allow increased indoor capacity weeks now and will continue to be vocal on this issue until all our businesses are allowed to reopen at normal capacities. I have always had the utmost faith in our restaurant owners – and all business owners – that they would do the right thing, follow all social-distancing policies and do everything else required and more to keep their customers and employees safe.
I hope the State will continue in the right path in allowing these businesses, and others, to reopen to their normal capacities in the coming weeks and get more people back to work.
Lastly, as you may be aware, we have decided to turn our annual Pound the Pavement for Pancreatic Cancer run into a virtual race this year. We know our friends and loved ones fighting this disease need us now more than ever so we have decided to go virtual instead of cancelling.
For more detail and to register online visit https://runsignup.com/Race/NJ/Neptune/PoundthePavementforPurple.
Please join in helping us continue to raise awareness of and raise funds for research of pancreatic cancer!
As always, it is an honor to serve as your Freeholder Director.
Freeholder Director, Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders