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The ‘Wrap’ is a feature from the Herald editorial team that offers our take on the news of the week. Get ‘The Wrap’ in your inbox every Monday by signing up at https://bit.ly/HeraldWrapLearn more about J. Byrne Insurance.   

Feb. 15-21 

Vaccine Program Progresses 

This past week was the most positive in three months concerning Covid indicators. With 213 new cases reported and one new Covid-related fatality, the week rivals those from before the second wave began in earnest around the second week of November 2020.  

In the last week, the county’s active case count dropped 16%, standing at 213, its lowest since Nov. 12, 2020. Ninety-two percent of resident cases are off quarantine. 

The vaccination program continues to frustrate many who cannot find a way to turn their eligibility into an appointment for a dose. Yet, the program is making progress, with 23,418 doses, counting first and second shots, administered in the county since the first needle punctured a county arm in December 2020.  

Efficiency also improved across the state, with 90% of the doses allocated to New Jersey, outside the federal Pharmacy Program, administered. 

The number of vaccine sites is increasing again, and the state Health Department is running an outreach campaign to help dispel fears about the vaccination process in the Black and Latino communities. 

State officials continue to expect higher allocations of the vaccine in the coming weeks. The hope is that added dose availability will help offset the problems with the vaccine appointment scheduling process. 

One statistic of particular importance is the fact that the county reports eight active cases in long-term care facilities, locations that account for over half of the county’s fatalities, many during the early months of the pandemic. 

The state announced a plan for confronting the problem of learning loss during the pandemic. 

With the health emergency still in force, the state extended child care assistance programs. Also extended were protections against foreclosures and evictions

Municipal, County Happenings 

Middle Township Committee introduced an ordinance aimed at eliminating the special Sunday hours for the sale of alcoholic beverages. If adopted, the ordinance makes Sunday hours the same as any other day of the week.  

The governing body began discussions of recommended changes in the master plan reexamination report, including nine proposed areas for zoning changes.  

Noting it will soon be one year since the virus first appeared in the county, the municipality announced plans to honor the lives lost during the pandemic

Recent storms increased the erosion of Avalon’s north-end beaches. The borough announced a back passing project for spring. The borough is also stepping up its effort to get out to bid on its water meter replacement program.   

Gov. Phil Murphy and Wildwood Mayor Peter Byron held a Zoom discussion concerning possible state funding for the replacement of the Wildwood Boardwalk. Wildwood pump station construction continues to progress, intending to alleviate flooding in the city’s Pacific Avenue business district. 

Meanwhile, one Wildwood establishment may lose its liquor license over repeated violations of the governor’s executive orders.  

Wildwood officials are installing technology for continued virtual access to public meetings, even after the pandemic is over.  

Some business owners expressed opposition to beach tags on Wildwoods' beaches

Cape May’s Interim City Manager Michael Voll presented his proposed 2021 budget to Cape May City Council. Voll is suggesting an increase of almost a penny in the local purpose tax rate.  

The city also approved a $5 million bond ordinance aimed at financing a new fire station.   

In Woodbine, the borough made awards in its water project, which included water main extensions and water treatment plant upgrades.  

The Pine Barrens Byway, which runs through Woodbine, was designated a National Scenic Byway by the U.S. Transportation Department. 

Stone Harbor Borough Council set a budget and timeframe for a new beach patrol building to be constructed at 95th Street and the beach. The building is to be ready for summer 2022.  

The council is also looking at the possible relocation of a weather emergency siren to Chelsea Park.  

After a long discussion, Stone Harbor is set to introduce a new lot grading ordinance in March. The ordinance is part of the borough flood mitigation efforts.  

The borough is also bringing its affordable housing regulations up to date, with an ordinance that repeals and replaces that portion of the municipal code. 

In a split vote, Wildwood Crest is allocating $1.6 million in capital funds for the rehabilitation of the borough’s former library building. The Crest is also moving forward on repairs and upgrades to its Little League field. 

After 24 years on the governing body, 22 as Mayor, Richard Palombo announced he will not stand for reelection in Upper Township. 

Former West Wildwood Mayor Herbert Frederick saw his suit against the borough and several other defendants dismissed in Superior Court. 

Crime Takes No Holiday 

A Wildwood carjacking investigation led to a drug bust involving over 1,200 bags of heroin valued at $10,000. The investigation continued, resulting in yet another arrest

Police are seeking information related to a shooting incident in Whitesboro. 

Officers responding to a call in Wildwood were confronted by a woman with a gun. After securing the area and gaining control of the weapon, the officers determined the weapon was a BB gun. 

The grand jury continues to meet and handed up 15 indictments this week

The state announced measures to increase the availability of Naloxone. Meanwhile, the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office is sponsoring a virtual discussion of “The History of Law Enforcement in the Black Community (Use of Force Revisited)” as part of its observance of Black History Month. 

And… 

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry is, once again, welcoming foot passengers

The state Department of Education postponed the start of spring standardized testing. 

A foodservice bill is making its way through Congress. If passed, the bill promises grants for small food industry establishments, like bars and restaurants, to help with pandemic-related expenses and losses. 

The latest census figures show the same pattern the county has experienced since its peak population point, in 2000. The county continues to shrink and age

Himani, the snow leopard mother who gave birth to seven healthy cubs, passed away at the age of 17. Her contributions to the Species Survival Program brought national attention to the Cape May County Zoo. 

Spout Off of the Week 

Court House - It amazes me that our local government continues to pass resolutions on completing Route 55. It’s never going to happen. They should concentrate on widening Route 47 and 347 from Route 83 to the current merge with Route 55 in Maurice River Twp. It makes the most sense, requires a minimum acquisition of land, and uses an existing highway. It would also allow an evacuation Route which is really needed. Alternately, widen Route 49 and Route 50 from the merge from 49 down to the parkway. Please! Look for alternatives and stop worrying about Route 55 completion.