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MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF HEALTH of the Township of Mahwah held on October 7, 2004.

Meeting was called to order by First Vice President Spiech at 8:00 PM. Mrs. Spiech read the opening statement, advising that pursuant to the Open Public Meetings Act, adequate notice of this meeting was provided by mail to the Record on December 12, 2003.


Present: Mr. Ackerman, Mr. Harris, Mr. La Montagne, Mrs. Spiech, Mrs. Tracey, Mr.

Absent: Mrs. De Silva

Also Present: Mr. Hopper and Mrs. Homler


Moved by Mr. Harris and seconded by Mr. La Montagne that the minutes of the regular meeting held on September 2, 2004 be approved.

Motion was approved.


Mr. Hopper stated that due to a staffing shortage and a very heavy workload, the Health Activities Report was unable to be completed in time for the Board to review and approve it. He apologized to the members, and stated that it will be available for review at our November meeting.


Moved by Mr. Wasson and seconded by Mr. Ackerman that the Health Officer’s Report for September 2004 be approved.

Mr. Harris asked for an update on the issue of indoor air quality at Ramapo Ridge Middle School. Mr. Hopper reviewed the report from the Board of Education’s environmental consultant, RK Occupational and Environmental Analysis, Inc., including soil testing, water testing, mold testing, and microbiological sampling. Some of the water samples taken from drinking fountains indicated lead results at or near the action level. Those fountains were disconnected and filters were installed. They will not be put back into use until resamples are collected and are found to be satisfactory. The RK report summarized the testing results, indicating that the indoor environment does not present any significant risk to occupants with respect to the presence of unusual microbiological conditions or levels of microorganisms seen. Mr. Hopper reported on a meeting of parents and staff held on September 7th to review activities to be conducted to ensure a continuing safe
Minutes October 7, 2004 Page 2
environment at the school. He also reported on a meeting Mrs. Homler held with Buildings and Grounds personnel to review cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
Mr. Hopper also conducted a meeting with the school nurse and health education staff to implement a hand washing education program in the school, with the objective of preventing person-to-person disease transmission. An inspection of the building was conducted by representatives of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, PEOSH division, on September 30th. The inspectors conducted monitoring for carbon dioxide, relative humidity and temperature throughout the facility, and found no unsatisfactory levels. Two minor paperwork violations were noted, which were failure to institute a written hazard communication program, and failure to maintain records of maintenance of unit ventilators. A meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 12th to review testing results with parents. Representatives of NJDHSS will be present, as well as the school physician. Mr. Ackerman asked about costs incurred by the Board of Education with regard to this matter. Mr. Hopper stated that he was told that costs thus far were roughly $100,000. Mrs. Spiech asked about continued indoor air quality monitoring. Mr. Hopper stated that the Board of Education will be implementing the EPA Tools for Schools program, which is a practical plan of action to improve indoor air quality in schools. Mr. Ackerman asked about our activities with regard to this matter in the future. Mr. Hopper stated that we will continue to be in close contact with the school nurse, the principal and other officials at the Board of Education to ensure an ongoing safe environment at Ramapo Ridge. Mr. Romans asked about the lead testing results, whether the school is flushing the fountains daily. Mr. Hopper stated that this is still being conducted.

Mrs. Spiech asked about the meningitis case. Mr. Hopper stated that it was a counselor at a camp in Mahwah. He stated that it was viral meningitis, which is less serious than bacterial meningitis. The patient recovered quickly, and follow up revealed no additional cases.

Mr. Wasson asked about the flu immunization program. Mr. Hopper stated that we have, regretfully, had to cancel our clinic due to a lack of delivery of our supply of vaccine. He explained the problem of the manufacturer, Chiron Corporation, which caused half of the nation’s flu vaccine supply not to be distributed. The existing supply of vaccine will need to be prioritized to serve only the high-risk population. Residents are being referred to their physicians or local pharmacy and supermarket clinics for immunization. Healthy children and adults are advised to forgo vaccination this year, and to practice universal respiratory precautions to prevent illness.

Mr. Ackerman asked about the problem of delivery of rabies vaccine. Mr. Hopper explained that the State will no longer deliver rabies vaccine to the County Animal Shelter. The County has made arrangements to pick up the vaccine from the State.

Mrs. Spiech asked about the complaint about a rooster. Mr. Hopper explained that a resident was issued a notice of violation regarding keeping a rooster, which is contrary to our ordinance.

Minutes October 7, 2004 Page 3

Mr. Harris asked about a court case that Mr. Ostrow was subpoenaed to testify in. Mr. Romans explained that it is a dispute regarding a piece of property on Stag Hill. A neighbor is taking action, as there is a stream on the property. The neighbor does not feel that a septic system should be approved on the land.

Mr. Hopper reported that Mr. Ostrow spoke with the DEP, which indicated that the pump and treat system at Shorco was turned on today.

Mr. Hopper recommended that the Board approve extended sick leave for Geraldine Hallissey. There is a resolution under new business to approve this request.

There being no further discussion or questions, the Health Officer’s Report for September was approved by all present.




Moved by Mr. Wasson and seconded by Mr. Harris to approve the payment of bills for September.

Motion was approved.




Mr. Romans stated that he corresponded with the DEP with regard to their lack of issuance of a check to Northwest Bergen Sewer Authority regarding the Shorco matter. The DEP phoned him to advise that the check would be issued. As Mr. Hopper reported, the check was received by Northwest Bergen and the system was turned on. Mr. Ostrow will monitor its progress.


1. Copy of a letter to Scot Vandemark, Board of Education, from RK Occupational and Environmental Analysis, Inc. regarding environmental testing at Ramapo Ridge Middle School.

Minutes October 7, 2004 Page 4



Moved by: Mr. Ackerman

Seconded by: Mr. Wasson

Roll Call Vote: 6 ayes, 1 absent

Resolution No. 04-15 – Extension of Sick Leave – Geraldine Hallissey

Moved by: Mr. La Montagne

Seconded by: Mr. Wasson

Roll Call Vote: 6 ayes, 1 absent


Mr. Hopper introduced Ms. Joan Valas. Ms. Valas is with Columbia University, where she is doing doctoral research on the changes in roles of local Boards of Health in New Jersey since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. She was formerly employed by the Bergen County Department of Health Services, is an officer with the NJ Local Boards of Health Association, and is the President of the Park Ridge Board of Health. Ms. Valas asked for information with regard to discussions the Board has had with regard to emergency preparedness, both pre 9/11 and post 9/11. Mr. Hopper discussed the local emergency operations plan that is updated yearly, and mandated 40 hour bioterrorism training, which all staff is in the process of completing. He stated that much of the planning for issues of bioterrorism is taking place at the State and County levels. There is a need for better communication from those levels to municipalities. Mr. Wasson spoke about the first attack on the World Trade Center, and the Sarin attacks in Japan, which took place in the early 1990’s, whether those events precipitated increased emergency preparedness activities. Mr. Hopper stated that there was some activity, but not the level that took place after September 11th.

Minutes October 7, 2004 Page 5

Ms. Valas asked about the Board’s awareness of the State Public Health Practice Standards, whether the Board has considered the relationship between the Practice Standards with emergency preparedness and bioterrorism preparedness. Mr. Hopper discussed the goal of the Practice Standards, which is to build a better public health system in New Jersey and increase capacity, through provision of the ten essential services of public health. This process is just beginning, and over time, will result in improved communication and preparedness activities. Mr. Harris asked about the timeline for compliance with the Practice Standards. Mr. Hopper stated that the standards became effective in February of 2003, and reviewed what has taken place thus far, and what is planned for the upcoming months. The APEX-PH assessment has been completed, and the Governance assessment, which the Board is responsible for completing, will be rolled out this fall by the State. Mr. La Montagne asked about participation by hospitals in the planning process. Mr. Hopper stated that hospitals are directly involved through participation in County planning activities. Mr. Romans asked Ms. Valas about the findings of her research. She stated that she has found that various crises, such as September 11th and the anthrax attacks, have influenced the necessity to develop a better system of public health in New Jersey. Mr. Hopper discussed the statutory authority of local Boards of Health, of which there are more than 500 in New Jersey. The new system may result in the diminution of the powers of local Boards, in favor of creation of power at a higher level to better serve the larger public health needs of our State. Home rule is still an issue, and is very important in New Jersey. Mr. Ackerman stated that there is a need for stronger policy making at higher levels, the Federal, State and County governments. It is very difficult to make policy that has an effect on a large population when power is vested in over 500 different entities. Mr. Hopper discussed a proposal that has been made that power be vested in a County Board of Health, with local Boards of Health becoming advisory to them. There are pros and cons to this type of system. Mr. Romans spoke about home rule, and the great responsibility that members of local Boards of Health have to represent the health needs of their constituents. Mr. Hopper stated that there needs to be a better system with policy making at a higher level to address public health needs and outcomes. Mr. La Montagne discussed local accomplishments our Board has made, and questioned whether those things could have been accomplished if legislative authority was placed at a higher level. Mr. Hopper stated that perhaps there needs to be a middle ground where some issues can be legislated locally, while some others can be overseen by a higher authority. He discussed the visioning process currently underway by the New Jersey Health Officers’ Association to develop a document to propose what the public health system in our State should look like in ten years.


There being no other business to be brought before the Board, upon motion by Mr. La Montagne, seconded by Mr. Ackerman and carried unanimously, the meeting was adjourned at 9:05 PM.

Minutes October 7, 2004 Page 6

The next meeting is scheduled for November 4, 2004.

Respectfully submitted,

John Hopper, Health Officer
For Geraldine Hallissey, Board Secretary

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