Hightstown declares state of emergency

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Hightstown Borough has joined the list of Mercer County towns that have declared a state of emergency in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Mayor Lawrence Quattrone issued a declaration of a state of emergency March 17. Princeton, Trenton, East Windsor Township and Hopewell Borough are among the towns that have declared a state of emergency, along with Mercer County.

The declaration by Quattrone outlines the steps the town is taking, from closing public access to Hightstown Borough Hall to canceling meetings.

Council meetings have been canceled until the state of emergency has been lifted, Quattrone said. The council may hold special meetings to pay bills and claims.

The Highstown Planning Board and the Hightstown Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings have been canceled, as well as the meetings of the town’s advisory boards, committees and commissions.

All municipally-sponsored events and any event that were to be held on municipal property have been canceled.

In a March 21 letter to residents, Quattrone assured them that the town is doing everything possible to protect them from COVID-19. The town is following all precautions and preventative measures recommended by county, state and federal officials.

“Measures are being taken to provide as many services as possible while reducing the risk of illness and quarantine of our officials and staff, and doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus,” Quattrone wrote.

All Hightstown Borough municipal offices are closed on Monday. Minimal staff will be available Tuesday through Friday. If residents need help or have questions, they can call the Borough Clerk’s Office at 609-490-5100, or contact officials by email at www.hightstownborough.com.

Quattrone encouraged residents to make property tax and water/sewer payments online at www.hightstownborough.com. They may mail the payments or drop them off in the dropbox at the municipal offices at 156 Bank St.

The Hightstown Borough Department of Public Works staff has been reduced to a minimum to provide only essential services, Quattrone wrote.

The Department of Public Works will continue to collect garbage on a regular basis, and emergency repairs will be made, he wrote. All other Department of Public Works functions have been suspended.

James Sidelinger, the coordinator of the Hightstown Office of Emergency Management, reminded residents in a companion letter March 21 of the executive order issued by Gov. Phil Murphy that restricts residents’ travel to “essential purposes.”

This means residents can drive to the essential businesses that are allowed to remain open, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks, hardware and home improvement stores, laundromat and dry cleaning stores, and restaurants, bars and liquor stores that provide take-out services.

“It is the intent of this ‘essential purpose’ travel restriction that we all ‘protect in place and by doing so, we can prevent the spread of the virus,” Sidelinger wrote.

“Please only go outside if you have to. Let’s all work together to knock this out,” he wrote.