Toms River Township has received a $232,912.00 grant to pay for litter clean-ups as part of New Jersey’s Clean Communities program.

The municipal grant the township received is reported as the third highest in the state, behind Jersey City and Newark.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has awarded $21.5-million overall in Clean Communities grants with $19.1-million to eligible municipalities and $2.4-million to the state’s 21 counties.

This is a $2.2-million increase from last year, as the result of an increase in revenues.

The program is funded by a legislated user-fee on manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors that produce litter-generating products.

“The residents of Toms River take a tremendous amount of pride in preserving and protecting our open space," Mayor Tom Kelaher said. "We are grateful for this grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and proud of the work we have done to remove litter from our streets and waterways, making Toms River a more beautiful place to live and work.”

The grants help fund activities including cleanups of storm-water systems that can disperse trash into waterways, volunteer cleanups of public properties; beach cleanups; public information and education programs, and purchases of litter collection equipment, litter receptacles, recycling bins, anti-litter signs and supplies to remove graffiti.

Toms River officials say the money will be used to pay the salaries of three Clean Communities employees (two full-time and one part-time) as well as equipment, educational programs and litter removal projects throughout the year.

This includes coordinating group cleanups of public lands within the Township.

The department will also use a portion of the grant to expand on its educational outreach and safety training programs.

The Public Works Department conducts tours at the Township facility and provides educational programs with a focus on litter abatement featuring “Tom the Duck” who performs a puppet show for over 1,500 1st and 2nd grade students in Toms River.

“We have had a great relationship with the NJ Clean Communities over the years. Toms River Clean Communities has received 6 awards in the past 5 years ranging from clean streets to excellence in education," Lou Amoroso, director of Public Works, said. "Our Township crew and volunteers have cleaned up over 55 tons of trash this past year from roads and public lands. This very much has improved our town’s quality of life."

In recognition for their work, the Department was recognized by the New Jersey Clean Communities Council at a banquet in May, where they received the 2019 Public Works Award.

The Township also promotes “Adopt-a-Highway” and “Adopt-a-Spot” programs, which encourage volunteers to register with the Department of Public Works to adopt a specific area to keep litter free, clean and beautiful.

Volunteers cleaned up over 30 cubic yards of debris from the Township’s public lands, roadsides and beaches.

There are also nearly 200 Adopt-a-Highway participants who have received safety training in a joint effort involving Toms River Township and the New Jersey Clean Communities Council.

“Simple initiatives such as litter control go a long way to making our town healthier and more sustainable," Kelaher said. "By taking care of the environment around us, we encourage others to do the same in their own communities and build pride across the state."

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