Happy March! Spring is just around the corner, and I am excited to see the weather starting to warm up! Over the last few weeks, I have been keeping busy between ongoing projects and initiatives.
Last week, I hosted a new segment of Monmouth in Focus where I had the honor to sit down with Elaine R. Bodine, Executive Director/Co-Founder of the Alayna Jayne Foundation to discuss the incredible work being done by the Foundation. They provide financial assistance and support for adolescent and young adult patients wishing to use the cold cap during chemo, and to bring awareness to the general public and medical field about scalp cooling benefits in the reduction of hair loss.
Additionally, in honor of Read Across America, I visited and read to one of the 4th grade classes at the Dr. Martin Luther King Upper Elementary School in Asbury Park. Reading plays an integral role in shaping us into who we are. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, it is more essential than ever to motivate children to read. It is always great to visit with students during this week and encourage them to take some time to read their favorite book and/or read to someone else.
In addition, I spoke with the members of SCORE Monmouth, a group of experienced business professionals who guide those desiring to start up a new small business or assist existing small businesses in improving their profitability. I was honored to share the many programs and initiatives that Monmouth County offers to assist, promote, and support our small businesses. I was also able to answer their questions and concerns and get feedback on other ways the County can help. I look forward to continuing to work with SCORE and our other non-profits to support our small businesses, who are the backbone of our community.
I also had the honor to join my fellow Commissioners Sue Kiley, Ross Licitra and Nick DiRocco and Clerk Christine Hanlon in attending the swearing in of eight sheriff’s officers by Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, who were formerly Brookdale Community College police officers, as the Sheriff’s Office moves to enhance law enforcement and public safety functions at Brookdale Community College. This is another example of the shared services Monmouth County provides and is a great public safety partnership. I want to thank Sheriff Shaun Golden and his office, as well as Brookdale Community College and the Board of Trustees for their support.
Switching gears, my fellow Commissioners and I would like to announce the construction of intersection improvements along County Route 57 (Ocean Avenue-Ocean Boulevard) between West End Court and West End Avenue will begin on or about March 6.
We are pleased to begin construction on this important project which will improve safety for pedestrian and move traffic more efficiently. Construction will occur in six stages to avoid unnecessary delays and disruptions to the area. We appreciate residents’ and visitors’ patience as this project begins and remind all vehicular traffic to expect some delays due to lane reductions. For more information, please visit www.visitmonmouth.com.
Lastly, my fellow Commissioners and I would like to remind small businesses, microenterprises, and nonprofits located in or provide services to low-moderate income (LMI) areas in accordance with U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rules and requirements that they may still be eligible for COVID recovery assistance through the County’s Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) grant program.
The CDBG-CV program provides up to $20,000 per business or organization for the reimbursement of eligible expenses associated with preparing, preventing, and/or responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the pandemic may be over, many of our small businesses and nonprofits are still struggling through the recovery process. There is still CDBG-CV grant funding available, and we are pleased to say the County has been able to expand the program to include Asbury Park, Long Branch, and portions of Middletown, places that were previously ineligible for funding through the County due to HUD restrictions.
For more information, visit www.monmouthcountynj-cdbgcv.org or call 732-624-6570 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or 8:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
As always, it’s a privilege to serve as your Commissioner Director.