Lakewood Briefs – February 7, 2021

LAKEWOOD -

Yeshivah Building and Sefer Torah Destroyed in Fire

A fire this past Motzoei Shabbos at Yeshivas Chayei Olam destroyed the institution’s building and one of its sifrei Torah, r”l. There were no injuries.

The blaze broke out at approximately 3:00 a.m. Fire fighters responded, but they were unable to prevent the collapse of the building, which has been entirely destroyed. A sefer Torah was eventually retrieved but suffered heavy damage from the fire and has been rendered unusable. Chayei Olam is located on Faraday Avenue near Eagles Ridge Golf Club.

COVID Cases Trend Down, but Remain High

Reported COVID cases in Lakewood trended down last week at 596, accorded to the Ocean County Health Department. The previous week had 689 reported cases.

While the movement represents a positive trend, the positive case level is still higher than any time since this past September with the exception of the week prior. It will likely take several weeks to see if the movement represents a consistent downward trend. Local medical professionals remain concerned about the potential dangers that emerging strains pose to younger people as well as their suspected higher potential for rapid spread.

Senator Singer Reportedly in the Mix for Senate Minority Leadership

Lakewood’s long-serving state senator Robert Signer is reportedly one of the leading candidates to become the caucus’ next minority leader.

Speculation about who would fill the post began last week after Senator Tom Kean Jr., who has led the party in the upper chamber since 2008 announced that he would not be seeking re-election this coming November. Senator Kean, whose father was New Jersey’s governor for much of the 1980’s, lost a race for a northern Jersey congressional seat to Democratic Representative Tom Malinowski.

Senator Singer, who is in his mid-70s, has occupied his seat in the senate since 1993. From 1986-1993, he served in the state assembly.

Several names have been mentioned for the post, but along with Senator. Singer, the other member actively campaigning for the post is reportedly Senator Joseph Pennacchio who represents the norther Jersey town of Montville.

The shift will also open up leadership of the Assembly GOP, as Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, who presently serves as minority leader, announced he be running for Senator Kean’s senate seat. Several Lakewood area names are reportedly in the mix for that seat as well including Assemblyman Ned Thompson and Greg McGuckin.

County Government Cautions on Recycling Flammable Items

Ocean County’s governing board released a statement drawing attention to the dangers of placing flammable items in recycling bins. The statement comes on the heels of a fire in a recycling center in northern New Jersey operated by Atlantic Coast Fibers, the same company that maintains the Northern Recycling Center in Lakewood.

“While recycling is important because it helps protect the environment and saves money for our towns by not having to dispose solid waste at the landfill, understanding proper recycling habits is a key component in making sure the recycling process goes smoothly,” said Ocean County Board of Commissioners Director Gary Quinn, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County recycling program.

Specific items that can lead to fire and other dangers at recycling facilities include batteries for mobile phones and those that are rechargeable or of the button variety.

Residents can also check with their municipality’s public works department to find other drop-off locations. Other ignitable items including aerosol cans, combustible/flammable liquids like gasoline and kerosene, propane tanks, and household chemicals like bleach, ammonia or pool chemicals. Such materials should be taken directly to recycling centers or during Household Hazardous Waste collection events.

Area Legislators Call on Governor to Implement Unemployment Benefit Extension

State Senator Bob Singer and Assemblymen Sean Kean and Ned Thomson called on Governor Phil Murphy to implement the 11-week extension of unemployment benefits enacted by Congress this past December. The trio of Republican legislators representing parts of Ocean and Monmouth counties said that despite the fact that funds have been appropriated by the federal government, that many unemployed residents have not received increased benefits since last December.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Labor Department has not been able to put a program into place to pay these claimants or tell them when to expect payments,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Our offices are inundated with heartbreaking emails and calls from people who have no money coming in, cannot speak with an agent or have no idea when the funds will be available. If the department needs outside help to manage these programs efficiently and get people their benefits, then let’s make changes.”

Due to the high volume of people left unemployed due to the COVID pandemic, Congress approved another extension for benefits in its most recent financial relief bill. Yet many of New Jersey’s unemployed whose benefits have expired have had their benefits cut off.

“This delay comes on top of the myriad of other issues plaguing unemployment which has left scores of our constituents unable to access their benefits. We urge the governor to take action and improve the department so that more claimants are paid on time, issues can be easily resolved, and people can actually speak to agents who can fix issues.”