Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bertha Wittkamp Alley

The new sign and post are in place at the alley that runs parallel to Winthrop and Seaview, named in honor of Bertha Wittkamp. Bertha was the first baby born in Strathmere and lived here year round for her entire life. A request was made to the township last year to name the alley in honor of her. Bertha's family owned a hotel and annex on Winthrop for over 80 years. Bertha was born there and she lived in the cottage at the back of the property - along the alley -during the last years of her life.

The story that appeared in the press last year

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SIA Newsletter 2 23 2012 - Fire Commission Elections on Saturday - Please Vote!

To All Strathmere and Whale Beach Homeowners and Visitors,

This Saturday, from 2 pm to 9 pm, there will be Fire Commission Elections held... so what is a Fire Commission?

In New Jersey, in any municipality not having a paid fire department and force, the "governing body" may, upon petition by the residents, consider the designation of one or more fire districts. If it decides the designation of a fire district is appropriate, then, by ordinance, the territory for such fire district is established and elections for five residents to act as fire commissioners is held. The initial terms are staggered, so that in the future all terms are three years with one or two commissioners' terms expiring each year. Our District, as the first in Upper Township, is designated as Fire District #1.

In Strathmere, we have five fire commissioners: Ted Bamford (Chairman), Donna Diefenderfer (Secretary), Ted Kingston, Steve Nickelsberg and Ken Weaver.
The terms of Donna and Steve are expiring this year and they are running unopposed for re-election.

The purpose of the fire commission is to have taxing authority to raise money to support the volunteer fire company. It is the responsibility of the commissioners to be good stewards of those tax revenues, balancing the needs of the taxpayers with the need for the safety both of the residents and the firefighters.

With fire commission elections being held statewide this Saturday, the Press of Atlantic City ran this article on fire commissions last Saturday. The article discusses, among other things, the relative lack of information provided to voters regarding the budget, the plans by a number of commissions to propose bonds for equipment purchases or firehouse construction, and also a new law.

When the bill discussed in the article was proposed (it was signed into law at the end of the year), our Commission agreed that making more information available is a good thing, and has discussed the best way to provide a website by next February to meet the law's requirements. In the meantime, attached is an "unofficial" summary of the Commission's budget and actual expenditures for the last three years, and the budget for 2012. This budget has been approved by the commissioners and reviewed by the State, and is now being proposed on the ballot this Saturday (the form is "unofficial" because the form itself has not been audited, but all the numbers are the same as what's been provided to the State). While the Commission was permitted to propose an increase of 2%, the commissioners voted to hold the increase to 1.5%. Note that the increase applies to the taxpayers for the year before, and there is also an allowance ($384) for new ratables, so the budget figure to be voted on is $74,869. The attachment shows where that money is proposed to go. Two line items, "repairs and maintenance" and "small operating equipment" are somewhat volatile, so the Commission has agreed to manage them as a subgroup, and that's why they are "boxed in" with a subtotal shown.

With regard to bonds, Strathmere is very fortunate that over the years the Commission and the Volunteer Fire Company have managed funds such that, not only are our firehouse and equipment in good shape, but we also have no outstanding indebtedness and have no plans to propose additional funding through bonds. One of the line items in the budget is $10,000 for a "truck fund", the idea being that we save money in advance of the need to buy new equipment rather than having to borrow money when new equipment is needed. Hopefully this fund will be sufficient to accomplish that.

In order to raise the $74,869 in the proposed budget, it must be divided by the total assessment in Strathmere (and Whale Beach) to arrive at a tax rate. The Township provides the Commission with the assessed value in time to go through the budget process and submit the budget to the State in the November timeframe. The total assessment at that time, as shown in the attachment, was $353,365,043, which would result in a tax rate of 0.021 per $100 valuation of your property, or $210 on a $1 million property. We must caution you, however, that people in Strathmere continue to appeal their assessments, and the total valuation therefore keeps declining, and it is likely that when the official evaluation is calculated at the end of June, the rate may go up to .022. The commission, like other taxing authorities, only has control of the budget amount. The tax rate is then a function of the total assessed value.

Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about fire commissions!
If you are a registered Strathmere voter, please come out and vote on Saturday.


Regarding the total valuation for Strathmere and Whale Beach, the annual "Audit of Financial Statements" of the Fire Commission contains a page showing the valuations for the last ten years, which is quite interesting. Again, the figure is for the October or November timeframe in each year:

2011 - $353,365,043
2010 - 361,567,493
2009 - 382,208,912
2008 - 394,197,303
2007 - 394,680,518
2006 - 417,726,670
2005 - 88,439,365
2004 - 86,392,900
2003 - 86,594,687
2002 - 85,060,555

While we all remember the change due to the revaluation in 2006 (at the peak of the housing boom), what's very interesting is the decrease in the total since then - all due to property owners appealing their assessments (and offset slightly by new construction). The total has dropped by over 15% since the peak, and since that's as a result of some percentage of property owners who appealed, obviously the average reduction of those who did appeal is a much larger reduction.

Moral: if you have not appealed your assessment since 2006, it is probably worthwhile to do so. You can obtain the forms and instructions by calling the County Board of Taxation at (609) 465-1030. You can also get the form, instructions and the "comparable sales" figures you will need (at least for the last two years) at  You must have the completed form to the County by April 2 of this year. Good luck!


The work on the bridge railings has been completed on the southwest side and they are now working on the northeast side. The County informs us they are on track to complete the work before Memorial Day.

Monday is the Presidents' Day Holiday, so no trash or recycling will be collected.
Trash will be collected on Tuesday, February 21, but recycling must be held until Monday, February 27.

Thanks once again for your continuing support of the Strathmere Improvement Association!
Linda Bateman
Elaine Holsomback
Donna Diefenderfer
Dorothy Addario
Ken Weaver

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

SIA Newsletter 2 7 2012 - Obituary for Doris "Ruth" Welker

To All Strathmere and Whale Beach Homeowners and Visitors,

Doris "Ruth" Welker, resident of Cinnaminson, N.J. and Bayview Drive, Strathmere, passed away on Sunday, February 5 at the age of 87.
George Welker writes, "...she had suffered a stroke, a few days before, that left her in a semi-comatose state and she just slept away. Up until the day of that last stroke, she was her usual alert self. She'd even had visitors that day and had laughed and chatted with them over lunch.
"She was a wonderful, loving woman and we all know she's in a better place now, where she can finally walk again and has been reunited with her husband and son among many other departed loved ones.
"Please join us on Wednesday morning for a celebration of her life at Bethany Lutheran Church (617 Morgan Ave) in Palmyra, NJ. The family will be having visitations at 9am and the service will be at 10am with a luncheon to follow at the church."

Here is the obituary:

Doris Ruth Welker (nee Grossman), 87, peacefully met her Lord and Savior on February 5, 2012. Resident of Cinnaminson and Strathmere for over 60 years. Beloved wife of the late George W. Devoted mother of Ruthellen B. Cheney (Jim), George C. (Mary), and the late Carl F. Grandmother of Garwood Jr. (Lori), Christine, Lauren (Dan), Emily (Scott), Ben, Mary Elizabeth, Ellen, and Alison. Great grandmother of Penelope and Garwood III.
Ruth loved cooking and taking care of her family and friends. She was an avid reader, and enjoyed traveling the world. She opened her heart and home to all. She was a long time member of Bethany Lutheran Church of Palmyra, NJ.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend Ruth's Life Celebration on Wednesday, February 8th from the hour of 9-10 am at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, Broad Street and Morgan Ave., Palmyra, NJ. Her service will follow at 10 am. Interment at Oakland Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ruth's name.

More information and memory book here.

Linda Bateman
Elaine Holsomback
Donna Diefenderfer
Dorothy Addario
Ken Weaver

Friday, February 03, 2012

Schiavo Library: February 2012 Newsletter

Schiavo Library:  February 2012 Newsletter      

Food Bank Collection:
We’ll continue collecting donations for the local food bank during the month of February. Stop in and help!

Thursday Movie Matinees:
During February we will feature romantic movies. Here’s the schedule:

Feb. 2: Romeo and Juliet
Feb. 9: Pretty Woman
Feb. 16: Ghost
Feb. 23: Sleepless in Seattle.

Showtime is 1:00-3:00pm Thursday.

Love Your Library Raffle:
This year we will again have a raffle during the month of February. All you have to do is stop in and you could win some library goodies! See you soon.

Highlighting Children’s Books:
Do you have a favorite children’s picture book? I’ve got lots of them. As an elementary school librarian, reading delightfully funny books to the students was the highlight of my day. Whether it was a classic like The Story of Ferdinand or a newer story like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, these stories always got a laugh from my young students! Here are a few more for the young ones:
Bark, George
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

A Note from the Director:
I had a great vacation in Florida. Thanks Jessica, Melissa and Marion for a job well done!

Christine Rohrman, Library Director

Thursday, February 02, 2012

SIA Newsletter 2 2 2012 - Happy 100th, Strathmere!

To All Strathmere and Whale Beach Homeowners and Visitors,

If you are a fan of Carol Baker's Strathmere Website , you know that Corson's Inlet was renamed Strathmere in 1912 - 100 years ago!
We're not sure of the exact circumstances, but we can piece together a good part of the puzzle.

Here is a newspaper ad from Carol's website advertising a special Pennsylvania Railroad excursion train from Philadelphia (via the Market Street ferries to Camden) to where "Corson's Inlet Meets the Combers".

It states that their $1000 prize naming contest closed on March 31, and an excursion is to take place on Sunday, April 10. April 10 fell on a Sunday in 1910.

We don't know who the lucky "namer" winner was, but we are guessing that the name Strathmere was selected in the spring or summer of 1910.
Presumably, once a name was selected, there was some red tape to go through to actually change the name. Since it was not incorporated, we're guessing they had to do three things: (1) get some consensus from the existing inhabitants, (2) get the two railroads running through town to change the names on their schedules and stations and (3) get the Postal Service to deliver mail to the new name, "Strathmere". It seems to have taken until 1912 to accomplish this, and the name was actually changed then.
George and Catharine McCullough were the first postmaster and assistant postmaster of Strathmere. He was commissioned on January 17, 1912, and apparently that's when Strathmere officially became Strathmere - 100 years and sixteen days ago (full disclosure, George and Catharine were my maternal grandparents - KW). Unfortunately, we just learned the actual date.

Here is the first post office - today it is Grace Curran and Family Real Estate:

We don't know why the contest winner picked "Strathmere". Growing up here, we were told that the name came from "Strath", which we were told had the same derivation as "strand", or beach, and mere, which of course relates to the sea or ocean. So we're the beach by the sea. Presumably "Strandmere" wasn't very catchy.
If you pursue the word origin of Strath, you'll find that the Scottish Gaelic word srath means "a wide valley" as in Srath Chluaidh (Strathclyde), and the Irish equivalent is also srath meaning "river valley, low-lying land along a river" as in Srath Bán (Strabane). Perhaps the contest winner thought that by adding "mere" it would change Strath from the land along a river to the land along the sea...

Anyway, the result of the 1910 contest was Corson's Inlet changing its name to Strathmere in 1912.
We're hoping that the people and organizations in Strathmere will choose to celebrate our 100th in multiple ways, perhaps in Fourth of July Parade themes or Nightmare in Strathmere themes...
You might also resolve to spend some time each week reading the history and seeing the pictures on the  website. You'll be glad you did!
We'll have a few more newsletters on "Strathmere" at 100. Next one will be on the railroads that served Strathmere...

Thanks once again to all for your continuing support of the Strathmere Improvement Association!

Linda Bateman
Elaine Holsomback
Donna Diefenderfer
Dorothy Addario
Ken Weaver