2021 saw Jackson return to normal
JACKSON – Problems with the COVID-19 pandemic have been postponed until 2021, but many familiar public events have returned to live activities. During the year, officials have expressed their views on state mandates, and parents have raised their voices loud and clear on the same issues at Education Council meetings.
The year began with a controversial reorganization of the Board of Education. When the dust cleared, Tara Rivera became president and Michael Walsh became vice-president of the board. Long-time board member Thomas Colucci resigned in January. Amid a number of candidates, his seat was finally taken by John Spalthoff in March.
The pandemic may have caused a “life of shock” for the cast and crew in 2020, but they were able to put on two performances of “Annie Jr.” on stage. The summer program lasted three weeks and allowed students to learn about aspects of musical theater production, including vocal coaching, costumes, painting and set design.
In September, Amvets Post # 2 members cooked a lot of food at their annual pork roast which also served as a remembrance of the 20e anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks. That same month, Knights of Columbus members hosted their annual family picnic which included lots of activities for the kids and delicious food for everyone.
The Eagle First Responder 5-kilometer race returned in September to Johnson Park. The event was created in 2020 as Gavin Kohute’s Eagle Scout project. He returned to coordinate the second which benefited several organizations, including Scout Troops 204 and 402, Jackson Mills Volunteer Fire Company Station 54, and Jackson Police Benevolent Association 168.
Enforcement of the code was a persistent problem in the township, which had also continued in previous years. Residents expressed their view that stronger action needed to be taken. Some homes appeared to have crews working indoors without a permit while stop-work orders were ignored. Some houses were not used as homes at all, but neighbors said they were only used as places of worship.
Members of the Webb family received the honors at a board meeting noting the accomplishments of 12-year-old William Webb, a champion wrestler and his father William Sr. who had recently retired as 1 Sergeantst Class in the US Army.
Meanwhile, the students of Lucy N. Holman Elementary School have been recognized for demonstrating their positive character by being one of 325 schools honored by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona as part of the National Blue program. Ribbon Schools.
The Jackson Liberty Marching Band continued to win awards. They took first place and were crowned Best Overall Group in their first competition of the year. It wasn’t the last tournament they would win – it led them to join their counterparts at Jackson Memorial High School to perform at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Jackson Liberty High School group principal Scott Katona called the occasion a day when “a city had a sound.” Performers from the two schools would also join forces at the last Education Council meeting of the year held at Jackson Memorial High School.
Jackson Township still remembers its veterans, and the annual Wounded Warrior Escorts Parade was held in October and started outside the Jackson Police Department headquarters.
Jackson Day was also a big event in the community that month. He returned after a year of absence due to the coronavirus health crisis. It has presented several musical performances, a number of food vendors and organizations that have showcased their services.
Numerous city education council meetings featured discussions and debates on quarantine protocols and masking by students and staff. Parents as well as Mayor Michael Reina and members of city council were quick to criticize Gov. Phil Murphy for calling his orders and warrants excessive.
During the fall months, Jackson Township observed the 75e anniversary of the Jackson Police Department which coincided with the hiring of 10 new officers marking the first time the department had more than 100 members.
Old photos, patches, badges and other items from the police department were on display at the Jackson branch of the Ocean County Library to commemorate the police department’s milestone anniversary.
The Police Department’s PBA once again hosted the annual Pork Roast at Pine Park in Lakewood. The event was very well attended and was attended by members of the Police Explorers organization made up of young people interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or just wanting to learn more about police work.
In December, Jackson saw the departure of several familiar faces from the Board of Education. Twelve candidates ran for office on the board in November. The newcomers beat incumbents Tzvi Herman, Gus Acevedo and Spalthoff. Incumbent John Burnetsky has chosen not to run for another term. Herman resigned on December 2 before his term expired on December 31.
The new members are Erica Osmond, Tina Kas, Giuseppe Palmeri and Alison Barocas.
Longtime township employee Janice Kisty bid farewell to the mayor, council and the public at Jackson’s last council meeting. Kisty retired after serving as Deputy Township Clerk for many years and as Township Clerk for the past three years.