• VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners introduced an ordinance Thursday, Nov. 20 that would offer tax exemptions for certain property owners who make improvements or build anew.

    Officials are hoping a tax incentive would spur new construction that complies with new flood elevation standards and help the city improve its FEMA flood insurance rating, which would equate to discounts for residents on the cost of flood insurance.

  • CAMDEN – A federal court today issued a temporary restraining order to stop the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers shore protection project in Margate.

    The order came after Margate filed a legal suit in U.S. District Court to stop the state and Army Corps from building sand dunes on the city’s beach.

  • TRENTON – Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced Nov. 20 that Ventnor City would receive a $501,000 grant to restore historic City Hall. The building was one of four in Atlantic County selected for Sandy Disaster Relief Grants for Historic Properties to fund the preservation, stabilization, rehabilitation and repair of New Jersey historic structures that were damaged by the storm.

    Other Atlantic County structures awarded grants include Fire Station 3 in Atlantic City, which received $338,289, Fire Station 2 in Atlantic City $205,649 and Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point $102,400.

  • MARGATE – Local firefighters and EMS workers who routinely arrive at drug overdose calls are now carrying the life-saving antidote, naloxone.

    Chief Anthony Tabasso made the announcement at the Nov. 6 Board of Commissioners work session meeting.

  • MARGATE – City Clerk and Tax Collector Tom Hiltner will resign from both positions Jan. 1 and receive $260,000 payable in installments over the next two years as part of a settlement reached in his whistleblower lawsuit against the city.

    Under the agreement, the city will also give Hiltner $12,000 a year for the next eight years for health insurance, and pay $50,000 in attorney fees to Jacobs & Barbone, his attorneys.

  • MARGATE – Despite differences of opinion regarding the dunes issue, the Board of Commissioners Nov. 6 agreed to uphold the wishes of the voters and proceed with an effort to stop the state and Army Corps of Engineers from building sand dunes on the beach.

    Congratulating the advocacy group Margate Citizens Questioning the Beach Project, which lobbied to fight the dunes project, Commissioner Brenda Taube said she would join Commissioner Maury Blumberg and Mayor Michael Becker in support of voters who passed a nonbinding referendum Nov. 4 that asked if they wanted the city to spend up to $200,000 in legal fees to try to stop the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps from proceeding with the project. The unofficial vote count was 1,140 yes, 1,091 no. Provisional ballots are still being counted. Certification by the Atlantic County Clerk is expected Monday afternoon.

  • VENTNOR – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has awarded $230,000 in Post-Sandy Planning Assistance grants to help the city become more resilient to storms.

    Mayor Michael Bagnell said the grants will help the city plan for the future after several years of struggling with the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, which flooded the city in October 2012.

Reassurance is just a phone call away

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  Contact Cape-Atlantic volunteers standing from left are Patti Smith of Marmora, Alice Cranston of Ocean City and Jackie Caplan of Northfield; sitting are event chairperson Diane Conover of Linwood and volunteer Sharon O'Neill of Margate. Contact Cape-Atlantic volunteers standing from left are Patti Smith of Marmora, Alice Cranston of Ocean City and Jackie Caplan of Northfield; sitting are event chairperson Diane Conover of Linwood and volunteer Sharon O'Neill of Margate.
Contact Cape-Atlantic to celebrate 40th anniversary Sept. 22

MARGATE – After 40 years of making personal connections over the telephone, Contact Cape-Atlantic will be celebrating a milestone anniversary with its volunteers and community that have benefited from the service.

Based in Margate, Contact Cape-Atlantic provides a telephone reassurance program and gatekeeper program to more than 200 elderly and disabled individuals between 32 and 100 years old in both counties.

To celebrate its 40 years of service to the community, Contact Cape-Atlantic will hold a celebration 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22 at Sofia Restaurant, 9314 Amherst Ave., Margate.

Executive Director Ann Magee said the event will give volunteers and the community a rare chance to connect in person, rather than over the phone.

“We just want to celebrate with our volunteers and our board and hopefully get people from the community to come to the event. It’s an unusual volunteer situation because they are one-on-one on the phone; they don’t really get to see the other volunteers unless they’re changing shifts,” Magee said Thursday, Sept. 5. “They know the voices but they don’t always know the faces.”

The agency, which is part of Contact USA, began in 1973 as a crisis intervention hotline and in 2005 that aspect was discontinued and emphasis was placed on the Telephone Reassurance Program that began in 1987, Magee said. Contact also provides the Gatekeeper Program as a way to connect senior citizens with local services that can help them keep their independence.

“It’s just a phone call but it makes a big difference to someone who is home bound,” Magee said. “We talk to them and offer a friendly hello.”

She said if a person tells a volunteer about a need, Contact can refer or contact another agency on their behalf. The Gatekeeper Program provides a mechanism for public service employees and ordinary citizens to learn about and then report the signs that an elderly person may be in need of assistance.

“We’re trying to keep them independent and living at home,” Magee said.

It takes more than 150 volunteers to call all the clients enrolled in Contact’s reassurance program 365 days a year. Most of the calls are made from the Margate office but there is also an office in Cape May Courthouse, and some volunteers make calls from home.

“We’re a small, little agency and we’re doing a big job every day of the year; Christmas, Fourth of July, every day - and we’re free,” Magee said. “Just to let them know that someone cares about them; to make a call and speak to them once a day; we become a constant in their life. It’s something just that simple. We don’t visit, it’s just a phone call.”

If there is no answer at the primary number, Magee said volunteers will call the local hospital and the emergency contact provided by the client.

“We never just call and leave a message,” Magee said. “At the end of the day we have found all 200 clients.”

Magee said Contact receives funding from the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Older Americans Act through the Atlantic County Division of Intergenerational Services. She said various fundraisers and donations from individuals and businesses also help maintain the service. There is no fee or direct cost to the users of the service.

Like all of Absecon Island, Contact was affected by Hurricane Sandy but it didn’t let two-and-a-half feet of floodwater interrupt operations.

“We did 80,000 calls even with being displaced,” Magee said. “We were out of our office until March 21 but were still able to continue our service, mainly because we are over the phone.”

She said the volunteers care deeply about what they do.  

“We have volunteers that have been with us 25 years and some 10 and 15 years,” Magee said. “That’s a testimony to the service and that they like it so much.”

She said the agency is always open to accepting volunteers and clients.

“There’s always room for one more,” Magee said. “Even if you’re only available Sunday mornings, we can give you 10 calls. We understand that everybody is busy but we can always fit contact into your life and we can always use more clients.”

Tickets to the 40th anniversary celebration are $50 and include a dinner buffet, cash bar and photo booth. There will be a silent auction and a grand prize raffle drawing for a ruby and diamond necklace valued at $1,950. Raffle chances are $5. Sponsorships are also available. Call (609) 823-1850 or see www.contactcapeatlantic.org.

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