Happy March! We are just a few short weeks away from Spring.
I want to start my article this week expressing my fellow Commissioners and my strong opposition to the added components of the legalized marijuana bill that was voted through last week. The majority of New Jersey residents last fall voted in favor to legalize marijuana for use by adults at least 21 years of age. There is no question, nor debate, on the outcome of the ballot question.
However, New Jersey residents were not aware at the time of their vote that this would eventually lead to what we witnessed last week – the New Jersey Legislature voting to make law enforcement officers “guilty of a crime” if they notify parents of children under the age of 18 that their child was caught with marijuana, and also alcohol, on the first offense. I find it truly disturbing and discouraging that legislation with such serious implications for law enforcement officers and families, was passed with little to no discussion.
By passing this new law, the Legislature is sweeping aside the judgment of parents over the lives of their children; and is tying law enforcement’s hands with respect to keeping kids and communities safe. As a result of this law, our law enforcement officers will be “guilty of a crime” if they notify parents an underage child is using or in possession of marijuana or alcohol on their first offense. Only if the child is found again using or in possession can a law enforcement officer notify the parents. This is a matter of right and wrong and my fellow Commissioners and I want to make strong opposition to this is known.
Switching gears, with spring just around the corner I want to update everyone on what our Tourism Department has been up to. As liaison to the Monmouth County Tourism Department, last week I hosted our bi-annual Tourism Advisory Group meeting. We use these meetings to update our local partners on our own marketing efforts and to engage in discussion on how we can all learn from one another’s successes or lessons learned following a tourism season.
While this past year has certainly been unprecedented for everyone, I am proud of how our business community – including the tourism and hospitality industry – has adapted to ever-changing policies and regulations put forth by the State. In my opinion, our tourism industry businesses have done a great job and have gone to great lengths to do everything they can do to ensure their patrons and employees are safe.
Last week’s meeting was, in part, spent discussing the past year, but was mostly focused on the upcoming summer season. I’m proud to announce we will soon be launching a new tourism website and marketing material that I cannot wait to share. More details on the website will be available in the coming weeks. For now, I’d like to say that I’ve always looked forward to the summer because I know how wonderful a time it is in Monmouth County not only for our residents, but also our visitors.
Additionally, I have excited to announce that we have just received the printed copies of the Monmouth County Map. This is the first county map that has been produced in over a decade and was a collaborative effort between our Tourism and Planning departments. These maps will be delivered by the County to our towns, chambers and other groups in the coming weeks. Anyone who wishes to request maps can email me at Thomas.Arnone@co.monmouth.nj.us .
On a separate note, I would like to update everyone on the County’s vaccine distribution. To date, Monmouth County is still receiving 2,500 vaccines a week from the State. The County is vaccinating as many residents as quickly and efficiently as possible, but we can only vaccine what we have and what we have is simply not enough to keep up with the demand. We have been advocating tirelessly for more vaccines for Monmouth County since the beginning and we will continue to seek more vaccines.
Residents who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine can go to the County’s website at www.visitmonmouth.com and use the Monmouth County COVID-19 Vaccine Waitlist to be placed on the waitlist for an appointment for a vaccine. Resident will be contacted for an appointment once on becomes available. Please note that any registration with the State will not be reflected on the County Wait List. They are separate systems and as such, you will need to sign up for the waitlist separately.
Lastly, I am proud to support the new Neptune City Business Connection started by Neptune City Councilwoman Pappas, Councilman Thomas and Mayor Wardell. This initiative not only promotes our small businesses, it also helps them connect with one another and our residents.
I am confident that this organization will help organize and promote all of the small business community members in Neptune City by providing a platform for them to share their daily operations, promotions and specials. Please remember to shop and dine local to support our small business community throughout Monmouth County.
As always, it’s a privilege to serve as your Commissioner Director.
Tom Arnone Commissioner Director, Monmouth County