Monday, March 23, 2020

KPN FaceBook Posts to the Community March 21 and March 23, 2020

March 21, 2020 8:43 PM

Hey Everyone: I am sure most of you have received word regarding our Governor's recent directive to stay home...with certain exceptions. I do not want to attempt to summarize his Order (Executive Order 107), but rather I do offer you the link so that you can read the entire statement to better inform yourselves regarding our new normal. It is here: https://covid19.nj.gov/

As we all try to process the impact this pandemic is having on our lives, and will have for some time, it is absolutely critical that we collectively, as a community, become caretakers for one another. Whether it is simply following the restrictions set forth in the Order from our Governor (being a responsible citizen), or doing more by thoughtfully and consistently checking in on neighbors and friends to make sure they are okay (being a responsible human). We have to remain "together" (though remaining a safe physical distance from each other🙃). Some employees will be rolling their eyes now because they know this next line is coming..."TOGETHER IS BETTER." It has been my mantra since I began this job, and it is full throttle right now.

I ask all of you to create a list of people that you know that may need some assistance in some way. Some extra attention you can offer that you may normally not provide. Maybe an elderly neighbor who lives alone that you never spoke to before. Or a relative or friend that are home alone and in need of a funny story or food or supplies. This is our opportunity to be the best we can be and take care of our own.

This took many of us a while to realize that this health crisis is real, and that it will get worse before it gets better. This is new to everyone. It is important to remain calm, and to be a source of strength and confidence for the important people in your life that look to you for guidance.
Continue to practice physical distancing (I like this term better than social distancing), keep your hands clean and away from your face and mouth as much possible, and support our local businesses even if you don't have the "need." They need us. A bigger tip if you are in a position to do so. A kind smile always. Tap into your "empathy" chip and act upon it.

If you have any questions or concerns and you think that I may be able to help in some way, don't hesitate to contact me. Cell 609.508.4871. Email Knerwinski@lawrencetwp.com. If I don't have the answer for you, I will work to find one. If you were able to see your municipal employees and how they are responding to this crisis, you would be proud.....I promise you. Police, Fire, EMT, Health, Public Works and all of our other departments are doing all they can to give us the ability to provide the services you expect from us. We will be working short staffed, and we ask you understand if some services are stopped or delayed in some way. All we can do is our best, and I know our people are committed to do just that. Stay safe. Stay Smart. Stay Responsible. #LawrenceNJStrong!!! 👊👊✌️

Caveat: "Together is Better" is a book by Simon Sinek. It really had a positive impact on me. It is a perfect book for a young person in your life. I have given out 20 books already as a gift. It provides the reader with important life lessons to face challenges in a meaningful and positive way. And yes, that is a Raiders bug in the background!!!



March 23, 2020  11:50 AM

Hey Everyone: Please be informed that all of our Municipal Buildings will be closed to the public until further notice. Importantly, the Police building remains open to all as a "safe harbor" for anyone in an emergent situation that needs police assistance.

Though our municipal buildings are closed to the public, we remain staffed to continue with our operations and deliver services. This is a new normal. Instead of dropping by to do business with one of our departments, please call in advance and "game plan" with our staff member to determine a means to accomplish what you need to accomplish.

We have a drop box positioned at our North Entrance, and there is also a desk with envelopes and markers to use (if needed) to properly address your item to the staff member or department that you want it to go to. There is a list of phone numbers for each department displayed️ should you need "more" than just a quick drop-off. All of our staff have been asked to think "outside the box" to meet the needs of our public but always being mindful of physical distancing. We can do this. I ask for everyone's patience and understanding.

NOTE: If you look closely at the picture, you will see Officer Robert Wagner who successfully photo bombed it! Nicely played Sir! 👊👊✌️



Tuesday, March 17, 2020

KPN Memorandum to Mayor and Council Members 2020 March 17


                                 Lawrence Township - Interoffice Memorandum



To:

Mayor and Council Members

From:

Kevin P. Nerwinski, Esq., Municipal Manager

Subject:

Township Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

Date:

March 17, 2020

cc:

Kathy Norcia, Municipal Clerk and David Roskos, Municipal Attorney

 

 


Please accept this memorandum as an update on the Township’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic as of March 17, 2020 at 12:15 PM.[1]  I provide the date and time to this report since this is a very fluid situation which requires flexibility and modifications to decisions already made.


1.    Municipal operations will be suspended on Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks (except for essential personnel).  As a result, the Municipal Building will be closed to the public and employees will not be allowed entry on these days.  Department heads are working with their staff for at home-work assignments, if possible.   Three days on and two days off may continue until such time as the health crisis dissipates to better provide for the safety of our employees and the visitors they interact with.  This decision was made to reduce the movement and interaction of people within the buildings for an extended period of time, but also provide enough time for us to maintain operations.  Closing down completely is simply not an option at this time. 


During our days of operation at the Municipal Building, we have closed the front entrance and the South entrance from public access.  Access to the building is ONLY through the North Entrance.  We have hired a temporary receptionist and positioned him at a desk so that each person entering the building registers (providing name and contact information). We are doing this to provide us with a record of all persons in our building at any given time should the need arise to contact them if a positive Covid-19 person has been confirmed to be in our building.   We also are making available information on preventative actions to take during this health crisis.  Employee parking is in the South parking lot, and the public parks in the North lot.  The Municipal Building will be locked by 5:00 pm Monday through Wednesday. 


2. The Senior Center is closed except that we will be continuing the Nutrition Program with designated times for meal pick-up.  The information will be posted prominently on the exterior of the building and on all social media outlets and in our Senior Connect that we will make available for pick up and distribution.


3.   Recreational programs have been suspended until further notice.  All fields used by the various sports clubs will be closed until April 14 (with the potential for further delay if required).


4.    Our Health Officer and her staff have been working non-stop during this crisis.  As you know we have two confirmed Covid-19 cases at this time.  These patients will be monitored by our Health department, and I am told they are extremely cooperative with all set protocol.  At this point, there is no need to increase the staffing in this department, but we are prepared to do so if necessary.


5.    Our Chief of Police reports to me throughout the day.  His department and operations are all running normally.  Yesterday, the State of New Jersey acted to designate all Class III Officers to Class II status if the municipality needs additional police presence or is experiencing a more than normal decrease in manpower.  Class II officers have very much all the same power and authority as a police officer.  Funding for engaging Class II officers to serve in our department is available.


6.    Our Director of Emergency Management reports to me throughout the day.  Although there have been some staffing issues, they have been addressed and we are in good shape right now.  The EMTs are performing exceedingly well and our career and volunteer fire fighting departments are ready to provide responses to issues as they arise. 


7.     Our CFO keeps me updated on our municipality’s financial situation.  At this time, there is no immediate adverse impact to our finances due to this crisis.  With the market tanking, we should, however, expect less income on our investments which will affect future budget decisions. 


We received approval from the State of New Jersey to access funding from our Storm Recovery Reserve (formally known as snow removal) to apply to additional costs associated with this crisis.  In addition, we have modified our 2020 budget, and increased the tax from 1.7 cents to 2.0 cents.  This additional monies are designated for use if and when necessary for Coronavirus response.  Should we not use this additional funding, it will be returned to surplus with the ability to use it at as a credit for future budgets.  Introduction of the 2020 Budget will be tonight.

All Coronavirus expenditures will be designated with the Covid-19 coding.  As a result, we will have a record that will form the basis for any application for federal or state relief if and when that opportunity arises.


8.   We have suspended all committee meetings at this time.  We did have a Planning Board meeting last night and there will be a brief Zoning Board meeting tomorrow night.  But my sense is that future meetings will be canceled until further notice.  We must have our council meeting tonight.  The introduction of the 2020 Budget must be done tonight due to the deadline.  I do imagine that State action will cause a rescheduling of the budget process but we are proceeding in compliance with the present regulations.  Although we have a plan to get through this meeting tonight, I will be exploring other options for our next meeting.   The obvious hurdle is ensuring adequate public participation in compliance with OPMA (Open Public Meetings Act).  But we will work through it.
  

9.   Public Works will be closed on Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks except for essential personnel (i.e., mechanics…to keep all municipal vehicles operational).  Greg W. is working on a plan to meet the services expected by the community, but I believe the services we do provide will be subject to modification for a new normal until the crisis dissipates.


10. The Court is closed for the next 2 weeks as ordered by AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts).  The staff, however, will work as scheduled like other municipal employees.
  

11.  Tax and Sewer collections.  We are working with our credit card company to temporarily eliminate the service fee for those paying by credit card and, when we receive confirmation of this, we will take the steps necessary to inform the tax payers and promote the use of the credit card option to reduce visits to the office.  The Tax Collector is also looking into extending deadlines for payments to promote people to mail in their payments should the credit card payment not be an option. Authorization for any extension must come from the State. Additionally, we are on the last step of having the bank approve our ACH module to allow tax payers another option to pay without mail or on site payment.
  

12. Tax Assessors office is modifying its work by working directly with residents and business owners to perform assessment via “virtual assessment” (i.e., pics of areas to be assessed and measurements being provided by the tax payer, etc.) eliminating on site visitation temporarily.
    

13.  Our Bureau of Vital Statistics (i.e., marriage licensing, etc.) will be engaging in a shared service agreement with another township for continuity of operations should staff be unable to perform duties to the virus.  We are fortunate to have a full time staff member performing this work and a certified back up already, but the State is mandating this shared services plan and, of course, we will comply.
  

14.  Social media posting continues throughout the day providing important information and updates.  I am continuing to keep residents informed by engaging them on the various community FaceBook pages and through my blog.


15.  I have asked our Municipal Attorney to look into the necessity for our municipality to declare a state of emergency on the local level.  At this point, I do not see a need or justification for it.  Heath, Finance, Public Safety are all in a good state at this time.  He will report back to me on this issue.
  

16.  I have met with all of the Department Heads on multiple occasions throughout the past week to game plan on expected issues and problems, and to ensure the continuity of operations within their departments.  I have made each Department Head a stakeholder in our municipality’s response to this health crisis, and they have responded with professionalism and commitment.  I also went from department to department to personally address our employees to keep them informed as to our plans, the importance of the work that we do for our community, and our commitment to keep them as safe as we can.  All have responded favorably.  I know this dialogue must continue because this crisis will continue for an extended period of time.  


     I will work from this memo for future updates by highlighting additions to the text. 





[1] Presently implemented actions not prior actions taken.

FaceBook Posts to Community Pages on Coronavirus


FaceBook Posts to the Community sites:


March 17, 2020 at 10:30 AM:  A copy of an email sent to me by our Health Officer:

From: Carol Chamberlain
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2020 11:21 AM
To: Kevin Nerwinski
Subject: RE: coronavirus cases


Kevin,

Just to review, upon receipt of a positive case form the NJDOH, the following steps are taken:

  1. The case is confirmed through  review of laboratory results in the NJDOH Communicable Disease Reporting System (CDRSS)
  2. The individual is contacted and the NJDOH COVID -19 Confirmed Case Interview Form is completed which asks the patient about where they have been, who they were in close contact with and how they moved through the community (transportation). This form is submitted to the NJDOH to be reviewed by the Communicable Disease Service staff and if additional  information or instruction is needed, it will be provided to the local health department.
  3. Close contacts are notified and provided the following information:

-          Self- Isolation Agreement is forwarded to them to sign via email. Self isolation is for 14 days from the date of their last known exposure to the positive case

-          Monitoring log for temperatures and other symptoms is sent to them with understanding the health department will be in contact to review temps and symptoms.

-          Instructed if they become symptomatic to contact the health department (me) and they are provided daytime and nighttime contact information and they must contact their own healthcare provider.

-          Maintain log for contact person  - with exception if contacts are associated with a health care worker, the healthcare facility will monitor their own employees.

  1. The confirmed case is to stay isolated for three days after temperature and symptoms are no longer present OR a minimum of 7 days  from the date symptoms started. Please note these criteria are fluid and have changed as the outbreak progresses therefore this could change at  any time.

Please remind people that COVID 19 is in the community at this time and there may be people who have COVID 19 who do not express significant symptoms, therefore everyone is asked to protect themselves by  practicing social distancing and handwashing .

I hope this is helpful.

Carol



March 17, 2020 at 9:40 AM


Hey Everyone! With the announcement that our community has confirmed two members of the same household have tested positive for the Coronavirus, has come a renewed and heightened cause for concern and a demand for more information on these two cases. Please know the following: These two individuals were under self quarantine for a period of time prior to when they were confirmed positive AND under self quarantine for more than 3 days prior to having any symptoms.

Each positive case is reported to the NJ DOH (Department of Health) and our Health Department. We then perform an extensive interview of the person(s) to obtain all information regarding their whereabouts and close contact encounters. All persons in the "close contact" category (within 6 ft for 10 minutes or more) are contacted and informed of potential exposure to the virus. The recommendation from NJDOH is a look back period of 3 days before the person started to feel sick. These persons were under self quarantine BEFORE that look back period since they already had been informed of a potential exposure during a gathering. Additionally, the persons who have tested positive maintain consistent communication with our health officer to report on their condition.

It is extremely important for everyone to remain calm. To be smart. To take the recommended precautions of social distancing, limiting public interactions, keep your hands clean at all times. If you feel sick, immediately self isolate and contact your health provider and follow recommendations.

The Coronavirus is in our community just as it is in many others. We need to accept this fact, and act responsibly to ourselves and others. Think twice before taking to social media and ask yourself, "Will my post unnecessarily cause panic among my community?" If the answer is yes, please don't post and call me or our Health Officer with your concern so we can discuss it further. Stay safe everyone.👊👊✌

March 16, 2020 at 9:45 AM


Hey Everyone! I know you have been inundated with all things "Coronavirus" related, but I do want to keep you updated on municipal operations. Today, we made the decision to close municipal buildings and non-essential operations on Thursday and Friday for the next two weeks. The purpose of this is to reduce the movement of people in our buildings for the health and safety of our employees and the public that they interact with. Shutting down completely is not an option for us because we have an obligation to serve our community and continue to provide needed services.

I ask that you all make thoughtful decisions on what is and is not necessary in terms of choices to interact with others in a public setting. If you can call or email us with your inquiry in lieu of coming into the municipal building, that would be appreciated and responsible.

This is a very fluid situation with new information being received hourly. I am thinking in 2-week increments, but also knowing that at any moment I may have to respond to new information that will impact the "two-week" planning. I am confident that for the next 2 weeks we can maintain our services working Mon through Wed. Many employees are coming up with plans on what work they can do at home, and I am proud of the professionalism and commitment they are showing at this time.

Police, Fire, EMT and other essential employees will be required to continue with their responsibilities with much gratitude from me, our elected officials and the community.

Public restrooms at parks will be locked. The Senior Center will be closed except for the nutrition program will continue as modified (go to our website at www.lawrencetwp.com for more information on that and all things relating to our response to this public health crisis). Let's all continue to take the well established and publicized preventative actions to fight the spread of the virus. Stay safe. 👊👊✌


Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Email to Mayor and Council on the status of the Township's response to the Coronavirus


This is the body of an email I have provided to our elected officials to inform them of our actions to date in response to the coronavirus.  Since most of you who read my blog are residents with a vested interest in our community, and deserve to be provided with the latest information, I thought I would share the exact communication I have provided to our Mayor and Council.  Please know this is not an exhaustive report and I continue to update and converse with our elected officials on actions taken or to take.  

Mayor and Council:



(Pardon any grammatical errors….I have had quite a day and I do want to get this information out to you as soon as possible….so I am just getting it out without much editing).



I wanted to give you all a status report on the Township’s efforts in response to the coronavirus health crisis.  First, be informed that we are proceeding to error on the side of caution at this time.  Based upon the information that we have, the crisis is real and its spreading in the U.S. and in N.J.  As a result, we are formulating plans on a 2 week cycle (and this may shorten if necessary) as more information becomes available.  Our Health Officer and our Emergency Management Coordinator are in constant contact with County, State and Federal health officials obtaining the latest information and reacting accordingly.



I met with our Department heads this morning to establish a response plan to implement immediately with regard to Township operations.  My concern, as the Municipal Manager, is to ensure the safety of each and every employee and establish protocol to protect them as they serve our community.  I am concerned equally with the residents who participate in the programs we provide both to our elderly residents and our youth.



The most vulnerable group of residents with regard to this virus are those 60 years and older.  As a result, we have planned the following for our Senior Center (which we will keep open for the time being):



1.       For the next two weeks, we will be cancelling events and programs at the Senior Center that involve gatherings of 10-15 persons or more (but keeping the Nutritional program in place).  We will provide notice to the public regarding cancelled events/programs. 

2.       We are requiring each person entering the Senior Center to sign in and confirm that they are not experiencing any health issues that may be consistent with the Coronavirus (i.e., flu like symptoms and respiratory ailments).  I am told that some residents are annoyed at having to sign in, but we are taking the time to explain why to each resident.  This information is necessary since we are keeping the center open in order to have a record of those in the building and the times that they are there.

3.       There are pre-planned and pre-paid events for some Seniors that will use the Township vans for transport that will not be cancelled.  Each van driver has been educated on the need to disinfect the vehicle completely after each transport.  New “outings” will not be scheduled.

4.       As for all Township employees, the Senior Center staff will be educated on preventative measures to take (i.e., maintain a safe distance from individuals, keep the work area clean, do not share pens, etc.).

5.       The Senior Center will have information posted in all areas about preventive action to take to minimize risk of infection. 

6.       The cleaning staff has been educated on the need to be vigilant in disinfecting work spaces throughout the building.  We may have to hire additional and temporary cleaning staff during this time frame.



The Municipal Building:



1.       We will be limiting the public Access to the building to the North Entrance keeping the Main entrance and South Entrance for employee entrance only (starting Thursday).  We will have a reception desk set up at the North entrance for visitors to check in and to be provided with information for preventative action (and encouraged to not conduct business in the building if they are experiencing flu-like or respiratory symptoms).  Signs will be prominently displayed at all entrances.

2.       Each employee has been educated on preventative action to take to best protect themselves from exposure to the virus.  Keeping a clean work area.  Wearing gloves when handling mail.  Keeping a safe distance from visitors they conduct business with.  Do not shake hands, but offer a polite explanation when they decline.

3.       The area at the Construction Office will have tables at the counter to provide more distance between employee and the visitor and to allow the visitor a clean area to do the paper work needed to complete their task.

4.       We met with the group of inspectors that enter residential and commercial properties.  They have been instructed to make telephone contact with the resident/business owner prior to the inspection to confirm that those present in the structure are free from flu-like and respiratory ailments.   If the response is affirmative, the inspection will be rescheduled.

5.       The Health Officer will follow up with the entire work force periodically to continue to educate on being vigilant with preventative action.



The Municipal Court:



1.       We met with our Judge and Court Administrator.  They are receiving information and instruction from the AOC and will keep our Health Official and myself apprised of any directives coming from the Presiding Judge.

2.       The municipal court will remain open.  At check in, the staff has been educated to be conscious of visible signs of symptoms (i.e., coughing, etc.) from visitor and, if necessary and justified, to offer or require a rescheduling of the court matter.

3.       Each staff member has been educated on the importance of keeping a clean work area, and to wear gloves when handling mail.   They have also been informed to error on the side of caution if they are not feeling well…to not come into work. 



Public Works:

Our Public Works staff have been advised of the importance of keeping vehicles clean (disinfected) and the work areas clean.  They have also been informed that if they are not feeling well to error on the side of caution and not come into work.

2.       The public areas that are maintained by PW will receive extra attention in terms of disinfection procedures.



Police Department:



1.       The Police Chief has established new protocols for police officers when dealing with the public.  Safety precautions (i.e., masks and gloves will be used when indicated and upon their discretion).

2.       Persons exhibiting health issues consistent with the virus will receive special attention and alternative processing may be done.



Fire Department:



1.       Our career staff, under the direction of our Fire Marshall and our Emergency Management Coordinator, will go to each multi-dwelling residential buildings to post educational and prevention information prominently throughout each building. 



Health Department:



1.       Carol Chamberlain and staff are on the front lines of this issue.  I will look to Carol on issues and necessary responses to new information as it is received.

2.       Each resident in Lawrence Township that is diagnosed with the Coronavirus  or potential infection (by a medical professional) is identified to our Health Department for monitoring.  We will know each and every resident that has been diagnosed and what, if any, level of quarantine is required.  Our office will work with the residents to educate them and keep them compliant with proper protocol.

3.       The Health Department will continue to acquire the latest information on the virus and ensure that it is posted on our website and social media sites.  



Recreational Programs:



1.       At this time, we are fortunate that there are not many programs occurring at this point.  The pool will remain open and adult volley ball will continue.

2.       We will make further decisions on future programs as we progress through this crisis. 



Social Media:



1.       This is exactly the type of event that caused us to invest in and expand our social media presence.  Our FB and Twitter pages will provide continuous health information and important information relating to Township issues. 



Employees will not be required to attend or participate in any public/community events for next couple of weeks.  I have today informed our Health Department, Recreation Department and our Public Works Department that they are not authorized to attend the Green Fest scheduled for Rider University this weekend.  It is my understanding from Rider that this event may be rescheduled but I have not received any confirmation regarding this.

The above is not all inclusive of the steps we are taking, but it should give you a good sense of what we have been planning.  As we receive additional information from the CDC and other health officials, other action may be taken.



We do have the community meeting tomorrow tonight regarding the Brunswick Pike Streetscape.  Will take the opportunity to provide educational materials on the virus to the residents who attend.



Planning Board, Zoning Board and Council Meetings will not be cancelled at this time.



It is important that our actions reflect an acknowledgment that there is a serious public health crisis occurring, but we also do not want to go overboard with our response.  That simply is not justified at this time. This may change, however, in a matter of a day or week.  We will keep on top of this.



Any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.



Carol and Jack:  Please jump in and provide any information that you think I may have missed.



Kevin



Kevin P. Nerwinski, Esq.

Municipal Manager/QPA – Township of Lawrence

2207 Lawrence Road

PO Box 6006

Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Direct – 609.844.7005

Fax – 609.895.1668

www.lawrencetwp.com



NOTE:  I am not authorized to practice law on behalf of the Township of Lawrence.  Communications with me are not protected by the attorney-client privilege.



My Deepest Apologies to Rich and Frankie and their families.

On the front page of the Trentonian newspaper today there was an extremely odd and poorly written article that was intended solely to dispar...