between the lines (2)

To the Editor: April Is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem affecting every segment of our community, and finding solutions requires input and action from everyone. While this is vital in any year, it is even more important in these challenging times when a family’s way of life is upended because of the Covid pandemic. Child abuse can have long‐term psychological, emotional, and physical effects that have lasting consequences for its victims.

It is essential that communities increase access to programs and activities that create strong and thriving children and families. Effective child abuse prevention activities succeed because of the partnerships created between child welfare professionals, education, health, community‐ and faith‐based organizations, businesses, law enforcement agencies, and families.

April has been declared as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The volunteers and staff at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties strive to ensure the emotional, physical and educational well-being of these children while they reside in foster homes or residential facilities. The ultimate goal of our volunteers is to help establish a safe, stable and permanent home for each child we serve.

Laura Wall

Executive Director, CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties

www.casamb.org

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

The list of people in New Jersey currently eligible to receive one of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the United States is rapidly expanding.

As of April 5, a number of new groups became eligible, including:

• Individuals ages 55-64

• Individuals 16 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities

• Higher education educators and staff

• Librarians and library staff

• Communications, IT and press

• Real estate, building and home service workers

• Retail financial institution workers

• Sanitation workers

• Laundry service workers

• Utility workers

Additionally, Governor Phil Murphy announced on April 5 that as of Monday, April 19, everyone ages 16 and older and New Jersey will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in teenagers ages 16 and 17; the vaccines produced by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are approved for adults ages 18 and up.

As of April 5 state Department of Health data indicated that 119,514 Mercer County residents have received at least one dose and 68,079 Mercer residents have been fully vaccinated. More than 4.7 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide.

Updates from the Wrecking Ball Saga

Stakeholders Allied for the Core of Trenton, the group behind the efforts to prevent the demolition of the architecturally and historically significant state Department of Health and Agriculture Building in Trenton (U.S. 1, March 24), is inviting supporters to sign a petition for the cause.

On their website, www.stakeholders-act.org, the group has posted the following statement beneath its request for people to sign the petition:

WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?

Two state-owned buildings in downtown Trenton previously used by the Health and Agriculture Departments are facing demolition. These historically significant buildings designed by renowned architects Jane West Clauss and her spouse, Alfred Clauss, are prime opportunities for redevelopment in our Capital City, that is badly in need of a growing tax base. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s CEO Tim Sullivan, executing plans ordered by former Governor Chris Christie, intends to tear down the buildings and replace them with even more surface parking spaces.

WE HAVE A FEW SIMPLE, YET All-TOO-OBVIOUS-QUESTIONS:

• Why has the state failed to offer these two structures to the real-estate community for reinvention and reuse?

• Why, in a capital city so desperately in need of development and tax ratables, would important, large-scale buildings be demolished?​

IF THAT WASN’T BAD ENOUGH…

Trenton has an effective tax rate that is 93 percent HIGHER than the average rate of the 20 largest municipalities. And that’s not all.

By population, Trenton ranks No. 11 among all municipalities in the state. But when it comes to taxes, it’s No. 1.

While the average effective tax rates in the top 20 municipalities has steadily decreased from 2018 to 2020, Trenton’s has risen each year.

• 2018: Trenton 84 percent higher than the average rate.

• 2019: Trenton 88 percent higher.

• 2020: Trenton 93 percent higher.