By Jay Cook |
Bridge To Be Dedicated to Longtime Senator
After representing Monmouth County residents in Trenton for 30 years, Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos Jr. will have a bridge in his hometown dedicated to him later this summer, county officials announced last week.
The recently redesigned bridge over the Swimming River, known locally as Hubbard’s Bridge, connects Middletown and Red Bank along West Front Street and will be renamed the Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos Bridge.
“I’m deeply humbled and honored beyond words for this recognition from Freeholder Director Arnone and his colleagues on the Freeholder board,” Kyrillos told The Two River Times Monday afternoon. “It’s enormously meaningful to me.”
Kyrillos, a career Republican and Middletown resident, first served in the New Jersey Assembly from 1988 to 1992. He was elected as a state senator in the 13th legislative district that year and served through 2018 when he retired from public service.
Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone said the decision came from Kyrillos’ efforts to secure about $7 million in additional funding to complete the bridge replacement in 2015.
“Joe has always been an outstanding supporter of county infrastructure projects and we cannot thank him enough for his service and commitment to Monmouth County residents,” Arnone said in a statement.
The 340-foot-long bridge, known officially as S-17, underwent a $12.9 million renovation and was completed in 2016. It now handles about 21,000 cars daily, county officials said.
Kyrillos said a ceremony is tentatively set for July 27.
County Curious About Where 911 Fees Are
Monmouth County wants to know where the 911 money is.
New Jersey residents have paid a 90-cent monthly fee from their phone bills into the state 911 System and Emergency Response Trust Fund since its creation in 2005. But since 2010, no revenues have been returned to Monmouth County, officials said. The money is intended to support improvements to 192 different 911 call centers around the state. Monmouth County’s is operated in Freehold by the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office.
County officials are unhappy that the money is instead being diverted to cover other state budget shortfalls yearly.
“It’s important to protect Monmouth County residents and ensure the money they pay in taxes and surcharges, such as the one we’re talking about today, is spent wisely,” said Lillian G. Burry Monmouth County Freeholder deputy director.
The state is expected to generate $134 million from those phone bill fees this year. The last payment to Monmouth County was in 2010 for only $1.14 million, said Tom Arnone, Monmouth County Freeholder director. By comparison, county residents pay an estimated $5 million into the trust fund annually, he added.
“The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Communications Division has done a remarkable job keeping current with the latest technology in order to keep our residents and visitors safe,” Arnone said in a statement. “However, there is always room for improvement and upgrades to their infrastructure should be funded by the fees collected through the trust fund.”
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said the lack of state funding has hindered call centers like the one in Freehold from utilizing state-of-the-art technology.
“We’re using technology for 911 like the old dial-up modems to try and figure out people’s locations, meanwhile you can find your son, daughter or family member on ‘Find my iPhone’ instantly,” Golden said. “This is unacceptable, particularly for public safety.”
Burry said the state Assembly is considering raising the monthly phone bill surcharge by 10 percent to 99 cents. The bill would help fund other improvements to 911 service, but Burry said she’s skeptical about the state’s track record in providing those monies.
The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center answers 911 calls for 50 agencies, which includes 47 municipalities, Brookdale Community College, Monmouth University and Naval Weapons Station Earle. Dispatch services are also provided to 22 police departments, 69 fire companies and 37 first aid squads.
About 750,000 calls are processed there annually.
“New Jersey leads the way in a lot of things,” said Golden. “911 systems are not one of those. You can’t possibly lead the way when you divert (funds).”
11th District Lawmakers Remind You to Move Over
Even though New Jersey motorists already must adhere to the state Move Over Law, 11th District Assembly members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey are reminding drivers to follow the law strictly.
Drivers already must either change lanes or significantly slow down when approaching stopped emergency responders, tow trucks or highway maintenance or other vehicles utilizing emergency lights on roadways.
Houghtaling and Downey, however, want to strengthen the law by issuing motor vehicle penalty points for not following the law. Violators now can be fined between $100 and $500, but the new bill increases the penalty to two penalty points on a driver’s record.
“We all know how busy our highways are during the summer months,” Downey said in a statement. “With traffic comes accidents, car troubles and road maintenance. We are asking drivers to be mindful of their surroundings for their safety, and the safety of others.”
Houghtaling said the law is “really that simple,” and is designed to protect roadside workers.
“We want people to get to their destinations safely,” he said. “We want the same for our roadside emergency workers.”
Their bill, A3890, was introduced and pushed to the Assembly’s Law and Public Safety Committee on May 7.
This article first appeared in the June 21 – 28, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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