Western New Jersey

Phillipsburg Council approves background checks for youth coaches

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Phillipsburg Town Council approved an ordinance that puts in place background checks of any youth coaches who educate or supervise children on town ground or sponsored programs during Tuesday night's meeting.

"We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive when it involves our children," said President Bernie Fey Jr.

The ordinance authorizes the town administrator or chief of police the power to obtain a criminal history background check for any coaches, assistants, or officials involved in youth sports who are "involved in educating, directing or supervising youth." The ordinance also requires coaches and officials to submit to being fingerprinted. Refusal on the part of any coach to do this will result from their exclusion or dismissal of them from any town-sponsored activity.

The ordinance also states that any current volunteer or applicant whose check does reveal a conviction "need not be automatically disqualified" from serving as a volunteer if they have "demonstrated to the administrator clear and convincing evidence of his or her rehabilitation."

In that case other factors would also be considered, according to the ordinance. For example, the nature and responsibility of the convicted person would be considered, the nature and seriousness of the offense, circumstances surrounding the offense and the date of offense, among other criteria.

The ordinance adds that all fire and squad volunteers who were active prior to the enactment of the ordinance are exempt from the background check.

In other business, council voted to approve an amendment to adjust the salary of Victoria Kleiner as the town's acting municipal clerk to the rate of $75,222 annually. Kleiner replaced longtime clerk Michele Broubalow upon her unexpected death in May 2012.

And in another matter, Councilmen Todd Tersigni and Randy Piazza both said they would support a proposal made by Nick Piperata of the Piperta Group at the June 18th meeting to place a distillery in Union Square.

"This is the type of thing I think we need," said Tersigni on Tuesday night.

About two months ago a brewery operating in Phillipsburg relocated to Whitehouse Station, leaving a distillery-ready building vacant in Union Square.

No action was taken on the matter during the meeting.

Councilman James Stettner was absent from Tuesday night's meeting.

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