• MARGATE – New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin is planning to meet with local officials early next month to discuss alternatives to the pending dunes construction project.

    Mayor Michael Becker said he received a call from Martin last week to arrange a meeting or two to discuss “unresolved issues with the specification of the plan, including drainage.”

    Becker said the 15-minute conversation was cordial and that Martin suggested a second meeting in mid-November to meet with the city’s technical consultant about the project.

    “I think it is a big step forward for the commissioner to call us,” Becker said. “He is aware of our issues and will set the time and place for the meetings.”

  • VENTNOR – The Board of Education agreed Wednesday, Oct. 22 to partner with Atlantic City in its effort to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize national competition, which carries a $5 million prize for the community that most effectively reduces its per-capita energy consumption over a two-year period starting Jan. 1, 2015.

    Action taken at the meeting will pave the way for other Downbeach communities to join Atlantic City in an interlocal agreement that benefits residents and helps the environment.

    Atlantic City is one of 52 municipalities nationwide that made it to the quarter-finals of the competition, which is designed to create a more energy efficient America. The prize challenges communities to incorporate innovative ideas to reduce energy consumption.

  • VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners Thursday, Oct. 15 introduced an amendment to the city’s salary ordinance to set into motion an intergovernmental transfer that would allow the city to hire an Atlantic City employee as its next emergency management coordinator.

    Longtime Emergency Management Coordinator William Melfi will retire in two weeks, Mayor Michael Bagnell said. He is currently using up his sick days and his last day of employment will be Nov. 1.

  • Margate engages DEP and Army Corps to discuss options to building dunes

    MARGATE – The Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Thursday, Oct. 16 that preserves the city’s rights in fighting the dunes project. The commission entered a “tolling and standstill” agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which will allow the municipality to negotiate alternatives to building sand dunes on Margate’s beach.

    Assistant Attorney General David C. Apy filed with the Atlantic County Clerk three administrative orders to effectuate a taking of partial easements not voluntarily granted by shorefront property owners, including the City of Margate, to build the dunes. The state will use its powers of eminent domain to negotiate good faith compensation due to 10 shorefront property owners and 16 riparian grant owners.

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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