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Heacock public works director will pursue his longtime dream – farming


What started out for Bedminster Township Public Works Director Jeffrey Heacock as a five-year plan as an interim job, until he began life as a farmer, turned into 31 years of service to the township.

Now, he has resigned the position to pursue the original dream, on a farm he has purchased.

The announcement was made by Township Manager Rich Schilling at the Nov. 13 public board of su-pervisors meeting. Schilling noted Heacock’s exemplary service, and appreciation for his offer to assist the township during its transition in the public works department, while receiving a severance package from the township.

At the outset of the meeting, Police Chief Mark Ofner presented Patrolman Nick Virnelson with the township’s Life Saving Award. Ofner told how Virnelson saved the life of a resident heroin overdose victim, by first reviving him via Narcan and CPR, and then having to again administer CPR, while coping with a violent response from the victim. Ofner praised the actions as life-saving.

Later in the meeting, supervisors approved the 2020 budget for advertising, keeping the tax rate at 4 mills for the general fund, 2.5 mills for the open space fund, and 1 mill for the fire protection fund.

Schilling noted planned new purchases include a license plate reader for the police department, and new revenue expected from re-assessment of the property now occupied by the new Weis Supermarket at the intersection of Routes 113 (Bedminster Road) and 313 (Swamp Road), which opened Nov. 6.

In addition to the advertising, the proposed budget is to be posted on the township website, and is scheduled for adoption at the Dec. 11 board of supervisors meeting.

Supervisors also authorized advertising for the long-discussed ordinance amending the zoning ordinance to allow for a new winery/brewery/distillery use, and a new agritourism accessory use, as well as advertising for a new ordinance adopting rules and regulations for township parks and parkland.

The new uses amendment is to get one more review by the township and county planning commissions before it is advertised. Supervisors, staff, and residents have worked extensively on allowing for the new uses while preserving the rights of nearby residents.

“I was not aware the chemical was a neonicotinoid, there was no mention of that word; otherwise, I would not have voted for it,” Supervisor Karen Bedics told the meeting. Supervisor James Nilsen apologized for not informing the EAC in advance of the township’s actions. He went on to say that any spraying would be targeted, and said the target tree, the ailanthus, “was not prevalent at Peppermint Park.”

Although many municipalities have approved the spraying program, concerns have been raised about the effect of the chemical treatments

However, Abbey Powell, a spokeswoman for the USDA, said in an email last week that any treatments would be applied by properly licensed pesticide applicators who have the necessary state-issued credentials to perform these treatment activities.

She added that the program “takes every precaution, from delivery method to application timing, to minimize potential impacts to all beneficial insects, including pollinators.”

Still, members of the EAC and the Park and Land Preservation Committee will be present during any assessments of township properties prior to spraying.