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Highlands Economic Development and Tourism Corp.

WEST MILFORD – Calling all hikers. Get your boots and join us on a fun hike for a great cause.

The second annual “Gromit Hike” to benefit the West Milford Animal Shelter Society (WMASS) is scheduled for Nov.

7, at 10 a.m. Starting point for the rocky two-mile hike will be on Otter Hole Road, just south of Weaver Road. The guided out-

and-back route will go to, and slightly beyond, the Stone Living Room, a manmade grouping of rocks, shaped into sofas and

chairs, set atop a flat overlook. The trail will follow the blue-blazed Hewitt-Butler Trail up a short, steep hill to the “living room”,

continue to additional viewpoints, and return by the same route to the starting point.

Numerous overlooks along the route offer lengthy views to the surrounding towns of Kinnelon and Butler, as well as

longer vistas all the way to New York City. We will stop briefly at several spots to enjoy the views and to eat a snack.

All proceeds from the hike, which is sponsored by the West Milford Recreation Department in conjunction with

Highlands Economic Development and Tourism Corp. (HEAT), will once again benefit the township’s award-winning local animal

shelter. The 2014 hike provided a $500 donation; the 2015 goal is $1,000.

For additional information, visit the HEAT website, www.NJHEAT.org. To register for the hike, or to donate to WMASS,

email info@NJHEAT.org. Meeting and donation instructions will be provided by return email. Suggested donation for each

participant is $25, but each hiker is encouraged to seek additional donations from family and friends.

Each hiker is advised to wear sturdy shoes, and carry a backpack with snacks, water, and clothing appropriate to the

conditions. Several guides will make sure no one gets too far ahead, nor falls behind. Though the hike length is short, the

rewarding views require going out and back on a steep hill. All participants should be in sufficient physical condition.

WMASS has been honored with the distinction of being listed as a "Must-See Shelter" in an ASPCA nationally

distributed animal shelter handbook. West Milford’s shelter is one of only two in New Jersey to receive that distinction. The

shelter is a 100% volunteer organization and IRS-recognized 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

The West Milford-based HEAT, also a 501(c)3 non-profit, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of New Jersey residents

affected by the state’s highly restrictive 2004 Highlands Act, which protects the source of water for more than half of the

Garden State’s residents by creating severe limitations on building and growth for the 88 towns within the Highlands Zone.

West Milford is the largest municipality within the zone, and all of the township lies within the stricter of the two Highlands Act

Preservation Zones.

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West Milford group hoping to change hearts and minds on town hall displays - NorthJersey.com

 

A local group is spearheading supplementary celebrations at town hall this year with a view to making them permanent in 2014.

Highlands Economic Development and Tourism Corp. member Jon Sherwood climbs a tree in West Milford’s Veterans Park to string holiday lights. The local action group donated $1,000 in lights to spur its efforts to make the area around town hall more festive this holiday season.Earlier this year, West Milford’s governing body chose to limit the local government’s holiday displays and celebrations to a tree-lighting ceremony and sing-along event, effectively restoring its pre-2012 policy. The Highlands Economic Development and Tourism Corp., or HEAT, however, has been adamant about continuing the expansion of one year ago.

Tonight, HEAT will join Rabbi Mendy Gurkov of the Chabad Jewish Center in Ringwood for his second annual menorah lighting on town hall property at 5:15 p.m. Although last year’s policy, which allowed locals to take out permits to place faith-based holiday displays in front of town hall during the season, is no more, Gurkov was able to secure a permit for the temporary erection of a menorah on site.

Then, on Dec. 24, HEAT plans to team up with Our Lady of Queen of Peace Church and the local Knights of Columbus to hold a prayer service and temporarily place a crèche outside town hall.

It is not ideal, according to HEAT Chairman Tim Wagner. However, it is something to sustain the spirit of community built last year, he said.

The last several months have featured much debate from residents regarding the brief existence of the policy, and HEAT has been at the center of it. Last month, HEAT proposed its own policy that added a few restrictions to the 2012 policy, which proved controversial after an atheist banner sparked outrage among some local Christians before it was destroyed.

During the council’s public meetings, however, there has been no discussion regarding changes to the policy on the dais. Most township representatives have remained mum, as per the town attorney’s advice.

Council President Lou Signorino, who is not one of them, recently appealed to the council for the development of a referendum that would allow the voters to decide whether to expand the holiday display policy once again. His request, however, was met with more silence from his fellow representatives.

Township Attorney Fred Semrau noted that any decision made this year would not be binding, as the 2014 council would have to approve any referendum placed on a ballot next year.

Still, Wagner said HEAT will not sit idle and wait for that to happen.

"If necessary, HEAT and its affiliates will start a petition to get a referendum on the ballot," Wagner said.

To do that, HEAT would need a conforming petition signed by 10 percent of the registered voters from the previous general election in an odd year. Consequently, HEAT would need nearly 800 voters to get a proposed ordinance on a special or general election ballot –if the governing body does not approve it first.

Wagner said the residents’ reactions to the celebrations should help to make HEAT’s case. The upgraded decorations, he said, are just extra.

With the approval of local government officials, HEAT helped brighten up Veterans Park with $1,000 in white lights for the holiday last week. In total, it draped 16 trees in roughly half a day with the help of a few ladders, poles, and friends.

In addition to Knights of Columbus from Our Lady of Queen of Peace Church and members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars council and American Legion, West Milford Chamber of Commerce Vice President Stu Feldman, Councilwoman Vivienne Erk, and former Councilman Paul Bailey lent a hand.

Email: zimmer@northjersey.com

 


North Jersey Media Group Inc.

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Kids learn safety at the Bicycle Safety Rodeo  

http://westmilfordmessenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130516/NEWS01/130519962/0/SEARCH

Great Entertainment Draw Large Crowd to West Milford Air Show  http://www.strausnews.com/articles/2011/11/03/new_jersey/arts_and_entertainment/14.txt

Tourist events planned for airport and Greenwood Lake in West Milford     http://www.northjersey.com/community/133672183_Tourist_events_planned_for_airport_and_Greenwood_Lake.html

Planning for West Milford's 2012 Autumn Lights Festival to begin in January                 http://www.northjersey.com/community/133673833_Planning_for_2012_Autumn_Lights_Festival_to_begin_in_January.html

New group in West Milford dedicated to improving local economy -Thursday, April 25, 2013