The column that says thanks to somebody paid for our dinner at DiLisi’s tonight and we will name them — Dean Dellaquila — because he did it without telling us and we want to tell him we added a $12 tip just to help the economy for a waitress who had to give up high school tennis to get a job to pay for a car her father had to spend $500 to fix up — and know that we eat there often.
By Jack Hummel
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Sal DiLisi says he has known Dean Dellaquila, head of Bridgeton’s public works division, since he was this high.
We’ve known him as the man who once needed a bus to transport all of the workers under him and now can get them there in a Volkswagen.
He is the reason we will go back to attending city council work sessions because he is the only who speaks loud enough for everyone to hear, like business is some big secret.
A little history.
July 2, 2009
It’s been about a year now since the city lost three 10-man inmate labor details from South Woods State Prison to the state’s budget crunch.
“I would love to have the inmate details back. They helped us out tremendously,” Dean Dellaquila, director of public works, said on Wednesday.
The state Department of Corrections (DOC) claimed it would save $1.7 million in fiscal year 2009 by eliminating the statewide details and keeping the officers who oversaw the inmates working within its prisons.
It apparently plans to keep on saving.
A DOC spokeswoman said on Wednesday there are no plans to reinstate the inmate labor details — not in Bridgeton, not anywhere.
Business Administrator Arch Liston, who has become accustomed to working with tight budgets in his three years on the job here, appreciates the difficult fiscal situation the state is facing.
He also recognizes the significant impact the loss of the DOC inmate laborers has had on the struggling city, which can’t afford to hire more help for public works.
“It’s killed us,” he said.
The city Department of Public Works was pretty much able to keep up with its regular workload throughout 2008, according to Dellaquila, who took over for Roy Burlew as public works director in January.
Dellaquila admits his department has fallen behind on what it regularly accomplished over the past 20-some years in recent months.
Then again, the public works department had 36 full-time employees when Dellaquila was hired in the mid-1980s. It now has just 18 full-time employees working under Dellaquila, and three of the 18 are mechanics who spend their days tending to the city’s vehicle fleet.
Up until last July, the increasingly smaller public works department was greatly aided by the 30 South Woods inmates’ work, which included painting, litter pick-ups and lawn-cutting, for the better part of 10 years.
“We’re really now starting to feel the impact of having 30 laborers taken out of our fleet,” Dellaquila said.
The three inmate crews were available to the city five days a week, for the most part, and usually worked six to eight hours a day, Dellaquila said.
“They really got familiar with the city. They knew all our lots and what we needed done,” he said.
In an effort to continue to provide ” the most efficient, effective services” to city taxpayers, Dellaquila has reluctantly adjusted how public works goes about its business.
For instance, streets are now being swept only once every two weeks, allowing him to put the two street-sweeper operators on other jobs.
Grass at city-owned properties is now being cut only around the edges.
“Believe me, I do understand some of the residents’ frustrations, because some things that used to get done just aren’t getting done, but we simply do not have enough bodies to go around,” Dellaquila said.
“We’ve had to change the way that we plan and manage based on our workforce, to first focus on the priorities that we have at hand, which would be the gateways into the city, the downtown, the Riverfront area, and then work down a list of priority-based things that need to be done,” he continued.
Fortunately, volunteers with the city’s various sports leagues have stepped up and taken on the burden of marking fields for games, Dellaquila said.
The public works department has been bolstered recently by the addition of eight summer workers — high school and college students — Dellaquila said.
“I was extremely happy to see these employees come on this summer, because I knew I was going to be able to get more work done. I’ve really had to rely on them to do a lot of the stuff that I wasn’t able to get done with my regular rank and file,” he said.
The question now facing Dellaquila, Liston and other city officials: What do they do to keep up on the work when the kids go back to school in September?
— Sean McCullen
Councilman Mike Zapolski can also be heard. And Councilman Bill Spence when he gets angry.
There were at least five of his workers with Dellaquilla tonight and he was the only whose money was good at DiLisi’s.
Wonder when the Cumberland County freeholder board is going to push through its pay hike?
We are the only one who has gone longer without a pay hike.
We got a $1,000 raise at work the last year to cover a ridiculous health-care hike, but we were already on Medicare, so it wound up a real raise.
How do poor people afford dental care in a countryside where you can tell where somebody comes from by the look of their teeth from drinking intreated water?
How do poor people afford eye care?
Isn’t it great that people who can’t afford to have their health monitored have to be taken care of by law when they suffer a heart attack or stroke? And you wonder why so many people have to wait in the emergency room so long because no beds are available?
Hey, everybody, 4 items at the fast food place for $4.
And not one of them good for you.
But Wendy’s apple pecan grilled chicken salad comes as close to living without fear of an ambulance ride as you can get while still getting filled up.
Even the dressing is good for you.
Will there ever be a quadruple hamburger held together with bacon?
Is Popeye’s on North Pearl Street really open?
Trish Bailey has changed the name of the group “Trisha’s Custom and Personalized Holiday Decorations in Salem County” to “Trisha’s Custom & Personalized Gifts & Holiday items Salem County.”
“Visited the patient today.
“Fed her treats and gave her a sponge bath. Her bandages were changed and Dr. Ludwig says she can come home Saturday.”
— Courtenay Reece
Nothing better than a librarian/cat lover.
“So I’ve tried to keep a lot of positive stuff on my wall.
“But I’m seeing a lot of ‘get over it posts and quit whining’ types of posts from my white friends. Yeah, I never thought I’d be so glad to see kittens and dinner posts again. I get it.
“But this wasn’t just any election, and a lot of people are struggling.
“I’m passing along one and only one post that addresses this eloquently from another page.
I’m not gonna debate it, I’m just letting you know why people are upset.
“I have a small request for all my friends who are conservatives/Trump supporters and are annoyed by all the terrified liberals or upset by allegations of racism and sexism: PROVE US WRONG.
“Show us that you care about every American. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
“Speak up and take action when you see someone harassing someone for their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Don’t ignore it or stand on the sidelines. Get involved and send a message that that type of behavior isn’t tolerated in your America.
“Teach your children to do the same when their classmates are being targeted. Don’t just fight to protect your individual liberty, fight to protect the individual liberties of every American, even if their values aren’t the same as yours.
“Understand that for a variety of reasons, many Americans don’t feel safe right now.
“Instead of telling us to suck it up and stop whining, show us that we are safe. Protect those who are being targeted. Make sure that every American can feel safe using a bathroom, interacting with the police, practicing their religion, and creating a family with the people they love.
“Offer support and love to those who are hurting and scared right now. Work with us instead of deriding us. Your actions will speak louder than your words.
“Make America great again for everyone, not just people who look, think, and pray like you. Make it great for people of all races, nationalities and religions, for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, for both women and men, for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, for the disabled, and for immigrants and their families.
“Show us through you actions, your words, and the legislation that you support, that America under President Trump will be a strong, vibrant, and inclusive nation where every citizen can feel safe and valued for who they are. I truly hope that someday I can look back on the Trump years as being an era of prosperity, national and individual security, and equality for everyone. I am ready to be optimistic.
“Please don’t let me down.”
— D. Renee Brecht
D, would you call a meeting next week at the DeEdwin Hursey Center in Bridgeton, on the turf of people of color where “the streets” swallow up one of their own way too often, to explain how we can accomplish this, and then the following week at Immaculate Conception Church on North Pearl Street, the poorest two or three blocks in the entire state, where Latinos feel safe to gather, and the third week at Bethany Grace Community Church, where the do-gooders gather 365 days a year to help the less fortunate?
And we’ll all just listen.
You know we love you and have proven that over and over with stories of your selflessness triggered by used sleeping apparel being found one morning on the steps of your office.
A little history.
March 21, 2015
… And with that, (Pastor Dave Ennis) introduced Brecht, who he met with in the library to talk about Code Blue and discovered two people who had been homeless for two years.
She is the Greater Philadelphia Area-Delaware Bayshore Program director at the American Littoral Society who admitted she didn’t know “the players in the social and religious communities” in town when Code Blue started.
Brecht told the group about a new initiative called Love Where You Live, where you take pride in your community.
“Unlock our potential,” she said. “Raise our standards to make sure people want to come here. Pride in ourselves. Recognizing our strengths
“Our sense of place has become all those things that are negative.”
Make sure the pieces of our neighborhood fit together.
1. Get the right information and advice to the right people.
2. Promote and celebrate what our local area has to offer.
“Right now,” she said, “if we put pins on a map where things are happening, it would look like measles. What we need to do is make it look like it’s all shaded in.”
It is a county initiative.
“We’re looking for a steering committee,” she said. From all sectors.
But who will lead it?
Brecht feigned the obvious, “I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes.”
Is she kidding?
The Millville Code Blue springboard who lives in Greenwich and has dealt with the entire county in Littoral Society projects — 30,000 volunteer hours by her own count — is the poster child for what she is looking for.
— Millville Peace In The City meeting
D. RENEE BRECHT AT PEACE IN THE CITY MEETING.
YOU CAN BOOK IT: You don’t have to be evil to form a gang that spreads hope throughout a county, city, community; you just need to lead.