def # 221 12/05/11
DIRECTOR VICARI LOOKS BACK ON THE YEAR THAT WAS
TOMS RIVER - When Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari is appointed by his peers to serve as the Director of the Board
of Freeholders, you can be sure that some light ribbing goes along with the vote.
"It never seems to fail that when I serve as Director of the Board of Freeholders, the weather always takes a turn for
the worse," said Vicari, who will end his directorship when the board organizes on Jan. 4. "From some of the worst
snowstorms, to the first hurricane to make landfall in Ocean County in decades to even an earthquake that caused lots of
rattled nerves, this term as director certainly has had its moments."
Vicari, who has served as Director of the Board nine times and is preparing to begin his 11th three year term on the
Board, took a recent look back at 2011.
"Every year comes with its own unique set of challenges," Vicari said. "In 2011 we were especially mindful of the
troubled economy and its effects on our citizens.
"With so many people out of work, and so many finding it difficult to keep a roof over their heads, this Board made it a
priority to continue to run county government as efficiently and cost effectively as possible providing the core services
to our citizens," Vicari said. "As we approach the end of the year, we have a leaner county government work force, we
have provided more opportunities to share services and we continue to make certain that a conservative approach to
budgeting remains our top priority."
Vicari said that while the state and the nation were seeing a rapid decline in their respective bond ratings Ocean County
maintained a AAA status allowing it to secure better interest rates when borrowing and when refinancing its debt.
"That bond rating has helped us secure the best interest rates so we can continue to keep our infrastructure maintained,
and provide for our citizens," Vicari said.
Vicari noted that the county also was able to expand some of its programs while narrowing the county work force.
"In May we opened the Ocean County Southern Service Center in Stafford Township, which is allowing us to provide some
essential services like senior and veterans programs, and the services of the Ocean County Clerk and Ocean County
Surrogate to our citizens living in the southern part of the county," Vicari said. "We know that this continues to be a
growth area of the County and accessing government services should be convenient. We were able accomplish the opening of
this center by working with some outside agencies and being efficient within our own County departments."
Other steps taken by the county in 2011 included the completion of one major alternative energy project with the
installation of solar panels atop of the government offices at 119 Hooper Avenue, here. In addition, the county began a
study to determine if a similar project should be done on the top level of the Ocean County government-parking garage in
downtown Toms River at Hadley and Madison avenues.
"All of these projects are being done with an eye toward saving money," Vicari said. "Cutting costs allows us to
continue to provide the programs and services our citizens have come to expect."
Ocean County also continues its efforts to protect and preserve Barnegat Bay.
"We are closely working with Gov. Christie on his 10-point plan to protect the bay," Vicari said. "We are also continuing
our efforts to preserve the bay whether it be through our pumpout boat program or extensive renovations to our storm
drains. We have always worked to protect the bay and will continue to do so."
Ground also was broken for the long awaited Connector Road in the Pleasant Plains section of Toms River in 2011.
"When completed this road will substantially help to alleviate traffic in the area of Route 571," Vicari said. "In
addition, itís part of the state project that will improve the Garden State Parkway in the area."
Also, a 140,000 square foot addition to the Ocean County Jail was opened providing room for an increased inmate
population and a safer and more secure environment for visitors, inmates and prison staff and, a new terminal building
at the Ocean County Airpark in Berkeley Township was completed.
Vicari said that while getting needed capital projects underway or completed were all part of his term as Director, it
is often some of the simpler programs that have a big and more direct impact on the citizens of the county.
"Now more than ever we want people to Buy in Ocean County," Vicari said. "This is a campaign I created many years ago
with the local chambers of commerce. And in this difficult economy I feel it is helping us do our part to promote local
businesses and all the wonderful services and items they offer.
"Buying in Ocean County is our way to help stimulate the economy," Vicari said. "This helps our neighbors and friends,
provides employment opportunities and helps local charities. Small businesses are an essential part of the fabric of our
Vicari said the Buy in Ocean County program combined with the countyís continuing support of the tourism industry
provides an economic stimulus that offers benefits to all the citizens of Ocean County.
"We are working in concert to help businesses, and that helps our economy and in turn helps our citizens," Vicari said.
Vicari noted that even Hurricane Irene did bring about needed improvements in communications with utility companies in
particular Jersey Central Power and Light Co.
"We have pledges from the power company that they will work with us in providing the best information possible during
storms and power outages," Vicari said. "This will be a big help to our residents and businesses."
Vicari, who also serves as Chairman of Senior Services, added that continuing critical programs and services for Ocean
Countyís aging population will remain a priority for him in the New Year.
"Programs like home delivered meals, our congregate sites where seniors can gather for lunch, all of this serves as a
lifeline for people who may have no one else," Vicari said. "It is a privilege to be able to give back to our seniors in
Vicari said he expected the New Year would be just as challenging with little change in the economy expected. He pledged
again to work with his colleagues on the Board to produce a county budget with no surprises.
And while he gave assurances that Ocean County would continue to be a great place to live, work, raise a family and
retire, he couldnít be quite as certain about the weather.
"I have a few more weeks to go as director of the board," Vicari said. "Mother Nature dictates the weather, I am
confident Ocean County is prepared for it."