By Larry Barszewski
More than two years after the coronavirus first surfaced and after more than a year of vaccinations, the virus can still disrupt the workings of local governments.
The Town Commission in Manalapan canceled its May 24 monthly meeting because there weren’t going to be enough commissioners on hand. At least one commissioner had COVID-19 and several others had been exposed to the virus, Vice Mayor Stewart Satter said.
“There would not have been a quorum at [the] meeting due to this,” Town Manager Linda Stumpf said.
The Manalapan cancellation follows a similar situation in Lantana, where an April 25 Town Council meeting had to be canceled after council members were exposed to the virus.
In Manalapan, where commission meetings typically last an hour or less, the cancellation didn’t have major consequences. The only items on the agenda were reports from staff and a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that would give people receiving a town-approved variance or special exception more time to complete their work.
The canceled meeting was a first due to the pandemic for the Town Commission. The town continues to take precautions, strongly requesting that people attending commission meetings and other Town Hall visitors wear masks inside the building. Stumpf said May 23 she was aware of only one current COVID-19 case among town employees.
Of note in Manalapan in May:
• Town officials had to revise trash collection schedules for several days as the town lost two sanitation workers and a supervisor was taken ill, Stumpf said. Three new employees have been hired, she said. Residents are asked to have their trash out on pickup days by 5 a.m. or the night before.
• The Police Department had four vacancies as of May 13, with one officer accepting a job with school police and a sergeant going into the private sector, Police Chief Carmen Mattox wrote in his report for commissioners. Those were in addition to two existing openings.
Mattox said he was processing applications from a retired Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office deputy and two officers with out-of-state experience. Another applicant is to attend police academy training in June and be available for employment in July, he said.
“We are staffing as manpower allows. Due to staffing shortages, vacation requests are not always approved,” Mattox wrote to commissioners.