• City Commissioner Maury Blumberg, right, recognizes retiring City Clerk Tom Hiltner with a proclamation naming Dec. 18.MARGATE – Tom Hiltner attended his final government meeting as city clerk Thursday, Dec. 18. He will retire at the end of the year after more than 25 years as the city’s keeper of records. He was also the city tax collector.

    The Board of Commissioners appointed Deputy Clerk Rosie Freed to replace him as city clerk and Linda Morgan as tax collector. Freed was sworn in at the end of the meeting with her family present. Morgan will take the oath of office at the next meeting when her family can be present.

  • ATLANTIC CITY – An activist for open government will be heard in court Monday after the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office denied his request for information about the alleged theft of funds from the Margate Firefighters Benevolent Association Inc. The case is scheduled to be heard 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 15 by Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson.

    According to a complaint filed Nov. 10 in Superior Court, John Paff of Somerset, chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project, the Prosecutor’s Office refused to provide any information about the case. He is asking for the immediate release of all incident and investigative reports related to the case.

  • LONGPORT – The Board of Commissioners is considering a request from the city engineer to be more assertive in its support of the pending Absecon Island Beach Protection project – which its neighbor to the north is trying to stop.

    “We went to great lengths to try and get this money and to protect our infrastructure and properties through the dune system. I really think we ought to look at what proactive activities we can do because of the court case out there,” borough engineer Richard Carter told the commission at its Wednesday, Dec. 11 workshop meeting.

    “If you want this, might have to fight for it.”

  • Board of Commissioners appropriates $50,000 more for legal work

    MARGATE – U.S. District Court Judge Renee M. Bumb issued an order Tuesday, Dec. 9 adjourning a court hearing on the dunes project from Dec. 17 to 10 a.m. Jan. 15 to allow the parties to come up with an “amicable resolution.”

    The order was issued in response to a joint request for adjournment from Margate’s special counsel, Jordan M. Rand of Dilworth Paxson LLP, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

  • CAMDEN – Margate won the second round Thursday in its legal battle to negotiate an alternative to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to build sand dunes on the beach.

    On Dec. 4, U.S. District Court Judge Renee Marie Bumb extended the temporary restraining order she imposed Nov. 24 that barred the DEP from awarding a contract to build the dunes.

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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