By Monmouth County Freeholder Tom Arnone
The Monmouth County “Made in Monmouth” Expo is rapidly approaching. It is an annual event showcasing products exclusively produced in Monmouth County. “Made in Monmouth” is a free event for both vendors and visitors; its purpose is to encourage people to shop local. To date 142 vendors are confirmed registered. The products sold at this event, made right here in the county are creative and nothing less than amazing. I am also happy to report that we are partnering with the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties this year to conduct a food drive at the event. We are asking our vendors as well as people that are attending to bring a donation of canned or dried food for the Food Bank. The third annual “Made in Monmouth” is Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the MAC Building at Monmouth University in West Long Branch. For more information, please call 732-431-7470.
On March 27, 2014, Verizon recognized the student team from Biotechnology High School, Freehold, one of Monmouth County’s premier high schools, for their achievement of Best in State, Best in Region and National Best Educational Application Concept status in the 2013 Verizon Application Challenge. It was an honor for me to be present at the recent ceremony as the student team received this recognition. The Board of Chosen Freeholders is extremely proud of the students at Biotechnology H.S. on this accomplishment and commends their efforts in achieving such high accolades.
On behalf of The Board of Chosen Freeholders and as liaison to the Department of Shared Services, I recently hosted and participated in a meeting at the Monmouth County Connection in Neptune to assist Middletown in their exploration of creating an animal shelter to service Monmouth County municipalities. Many municipalities are facing serious capacity and public health issues in this area as well as heavy annual increases in service costs which are greatly reducing their ability to meet other service needs in the community. Middletown contacted the county to assist in bringing together as many towns as possible to discuss this issue, engage the towns for their ideas and input and strategize on how to address these common issues together. The meeting went extremely well and the towns that attended were very appreciative of both Middletown’s and the County’s efforts. There was very high interest in moving forward and approximately 30 towns expressed interest in our initial outreach.
We are continuing to work with Middletown on a survey of our municipalities to better determine actual costs at the local level so we can do a cost comparison to determine potential savings. We will continue to work with them on the logistics of regionalizing animal control and shelter services if they and the municipalities choose to continue to move forward. This is just the beginning of a very in depth process, but we have identified a few good business models across the state and look forward to providing our ongoing support.
Lastly, I am honored to announce the Board of Directors of the Monmouth Ocean Foundation for Children has made me a newly appointed member of the Board. I am very much looking forward to joining the existing members as they continue to support the development of enrichment programs and services not financed with tax dollars. Most recently, the Foundation has identified the Shore Center for Students with Autism program as its primary focus for fund raising. The Shore Center for Students with Autism provides programs for students with Autism in grades Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12. The Shore Center is a Bayshore Jointure Commission program administered by Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission (MOESC) and receives no state, local or federal funds to support its operation. The Foundation’s most recent goal is to raise funds to build a playground for these deserving students.