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|Sussex County, New Jersey|
Location in the state of New Jersey
New Jersey's location in the U.S.
|Founded||June 8, 1753|
|Largest city||Vernon Township (pop. 23,493)|
535.74 sq mi (1,388 km²)
519.01 sq mi (1,344 km²)
16.73 sq mi (43 km²), 3.12%
286.4/sq mi (110.6/km²)
|Sussex County, New Jersey|
Location in the state of New Jersey
New Jersey's location in the U.S.
|Founded||June 8, 1753|
|Largest city||Vernon Township (pop. 23,493)|
535.74 sq mi (1,388 km²)
519.01 sq mi (1,344 km²)
16.73 sq mi (43 km²), 3.12%
286.4/sq mi (110.6/km²)
Sussex County is the northernmost county in the State of New Jersey. It is part of the New York City Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the county had 149,265 residents, an increase of 5,099 (3.5%) from the 144,166 persons enumerated in the 2000 Census, making it the 17th-most populous county among the state's 21 counties. As of 2010[update] The Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the county as having the 131st-highest per capita income ($49,207) of all 3,113 counties in the United States (and the ninth-highest in New Jersey).
Because of its topography, Sussex County has remained relatively rural and forested area. The county is part of the Skylands Region—a term promoted by the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth, & Tourism Commission to encourage tourism. In the western half of the county, several state and federal parks have kept the large tracts of land undeveloped and in their natural state. The eastern half of the county has had more suburban development because of its closeness to more populated areas and commercial development zones.
Most of Sussex County's economy was based on agriculture (chiefly dairy farming) and the mining industry. With the decline of these industries in the 1960s, Sussex County was transformed into a bedroom community that absorbed population shifts from New Jersey's urban areas. Recent studies estimate that 60% of Sussex County residents work outside of the county—many seeking or maintaining employment in New York City or New Jersey's more suburban and urban areas.
According to the 2010 census, the county has a total area of 535.74 square miles (1,387.6 km2), of which 519.01 square miles (1,344.2 km2) (or 96.88%) is land and 16.73 square miles (43.3 km2) (or 3.12%) is water. This area converts to approximately 343,000 acres. It is the fourth-largest of the state's 21 counties in terms of area.
High Point, located at the northernmost tip of New Jersey in Montague Township, is the highest natural elevation in the state at 1,803 feet (549.5 m) above sea level. Nearby, Sunrise Mountain in Stokes State Forest has an elevation of 1,653 feet (504 m). Many mountains in the Highlands region are between 1250–1500 feet (375–450 m). Officially, the county's lowest elevation is approximately 300 feet (90 m) above sea level along the Delaware River near Flatbrookville. However, local authorities claim that the mine adit descending 2,675 feet (815 m) at the Sterling Hill Mine in Ogdensburg is unofficially the lowest elevation in New Jersey.
The features of the Ridge and Valley province were created approximately 300–400 million years ago during the Ordovician period and Appalachian orogeny—a period of tremendous pressure and rock thrusting that caused the creation of the Appalachian Mountains. This physiographic province occupies approximately two-thirds of the county's area—the county's western and central sections. Its contour is characterized by long, even ridges with long, continuous valleys in between that generally run parallel from southwest to northeast. This region is largely formed by sedimentary rock.
The New York - New Jersey Highlands, or Highlands region, in the county's eastern section is older. An extension of the Reading Prong formation, the Highlands were created from geological forces applied towards Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock approximately 500 million to 1.15 billion years ago. The watersheds within the Highlands provide fresh water resources for millions of residents in New Jersey and the New York City Metropolitan Area. Because of this, the region was protected by the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Jim McGreevey under the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act enacted in 2004 that sought to preserve water resources, to promote open space and farmland preservation, to create new recreational parks, and to regulate land use planning to achieve these goals. 
The valley of the Delaware River in this region is often referred to as either the Upper Delaware Valley or as the Minisink Valley. Elevations in this region range from 300 to 500 feet.
Kittatinny Mountain is the dominant geological feature in the western section of the county. It is part of the Appalachian Mountains, and part of a ridge that continues as the Blue Ridge or Blue Mountain in Eastern Pennsylvania, and as Shawangunk Ridge in New York. It begins in New Jersey as the eastern half of the Delaware Water Gap, and runs northeast to southwest along the Delaware River. Elevations range from 1,200 to 1,800 feet and attains a maximum elevation of 1,803 feet at High Point, in Montague Township. Between Kittatinny Mountain and the Delaware River is the Walpack Ridge, with elevations of 500 to 800 feet. It is a smaller ridge that parallels Kittatinny Mountain between the Walpack Bend and Port Jervis, New York, and encloses the watershed of the Flat Brook.
The Kittatinny Valley lies to the east of Kittatinny Mountain and ends with the Highlands in the east. It is largely a region of rolling hills and flat valley floors. Elevations in this valley range from 400 to 1,000 feet. It is part of the Great Appalachian Valley running from eastern Canada to northern Alabama. This valley is shared by three major watersheds—the Wallkill River, with its tributaries Pochuck Creek and Papakating Creek flowing north; and the Paulins Kill watershed and Pequest River watershed flowing southwest. This valley floor is part of the Ordovician Martinsburg Formation (shale and slate) which make up most of the valley—and the Jacksonburg Formation (mostly limestone). Several sources have compared the Martinsburg shale to the Marcellus Shale formations to the West in Pennsylvania and New York and cited that there is the possibility of natural gas extraction in this region. Of special interest is Rutan Hill, a 440-million-year-old patch of igneous rock known as nepheline syenite. This site, north of Beemerville in Wantage Township, was once an ancient volcano.
Dividing the Kittatinny Valley (and the Ridge and Valley Province) from the Highlands region is a narrow fault of Hardyston Quartzite. The Mountains here are not part of a solid, linear ridge and tend to randomly rise from the surrounding land as the result of folds, faults and intrusions. Elevations in the Highlands region range from 1,000 to 1,500 feet. Notable Mountains in this area are Hamburg Mountain (elevation: 1495 ft.), Wawayanda Mountain (elevation: 1448 ft.), Sparta Mountain (elevation: 1232 ft.), Pochuck Mountain (elevation: 1194 ft.)
Sussex County's rivers and watersheds flow in three directions—North to the Hudson River, West and South to the Delaware River, and East toward Newark Bay.
Historically, these rivers and streams were used to power various types of mills (i.e. grist mills, fulling mills, etc.), transport goods to market, and later to generate electric power (after 1880). Today, these rivers are chiefly used in local recreational activities—including canoeing and fishing. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife stock these waterways each year with various species of trout. Some, such as the Flat Brook, Paulins Kill and Pequest, have become well known as trout streams and for their suitability for fly-fishing.
Sussex County is located in Northwestern New Jersey which has a humid continental climate (microthermal)—a cooler climate due to its higher elevations. This differs from the rest of the state which is generally a humid mesothermal climate.
During winter and early spring, New Jersey in some years is subject to "nor'easters"—significant storm systems that have proven capable of causing blizzards or flooding throughout the northeastern United States. Hurricanes and tropical storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes are relatively rare.
|Newton, New Jersey|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Newton have ranged from a low of 17 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 84 °F (29 °C) in July. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.86 inches (73 mm) in February to 4.76 inches (121 mm) in June.
According to the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service soil survey, the area receives sunshine approximately 62% of the time in summer and 48% in winter. Prevailing winds are typically from the southwest for most of year; but in late winter and early spring come from the northwest. The lowest recorded temperature was −26 °F on January 21, 1994. The highest recorded temperature was 104 °F (40 °C) on September 3, 1953. The heaviest one-day snowfall was 24 inches recorded on January 8, 1996 (on the next day, total snowfall was 40 inches). The heaviest one-day rainfall—6.70 inches— was recorded on August 19, 1955.
|Climate data for Sussex Borough, Sussex County, New Jersey: NOAA-SUSSEX 2 NW (288644)|
|Average high °F (°C)||31.3|
|Average low °F (°C)||12.6|
|Precipitation inches (mm)||1.94|
|Snowfall inches (cm)||18.0|
According the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Sussex County soils are derived from parent materials that are largely till and glaciofluvial deposits, alluvium, and organic matter deposits. Till is the rock of soil material transported or deposited by glacial ice. In this case, the most recent glaciation (i.e. the last ice age), the Wisconsinian continental glacier, deposited a till plain composed of ground and recessional moraines. This glaciation reached its maximum extent roughly 22,000 years ago (20,000 B.C.E.). Glaciofluvial deposits (or "outwash") are rock and soil materials that melting glaciers deposit as the glacier recedes. Alluvium is materials that are deposited by floodwaters from engorged bodies of water—chiefly streams and rivers. Organic deposits are largely the result of decomposing plant material.
With its location at the top of New Jersey, Sussex County is bordered by counties in New Jersey, and neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. Because it is shaped roughly like a diamond or rhombus with its point matching the cardinal points of the compass, its boundary lines are roughly oriented along the ordinal or intercardinal directions.
The following counties are adjacent and contiguous to Sussex County (in order starting with the northernmost and rotating clockwise):
A large percentage of Sussex County is undeveloped because it has been reserved as one of eleven federal or state parks or as part of several wildlife management areas.
Under the National Park Service
Under the New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry
This area was occupied for thousands of years by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, the historic Lenape ( // or //), a Native American people, also called Delaware Indians after their historic territory along the Delaware River, inhabited the mid-Atlantic coastal areas and inland along the Hudson and Delaware rivers. As a result of disruption following the French and Indian War (1756–1763) the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and later Indian removals from the eastern United States, the main groups now live in Ontario (Canada), and Wisconsin and Oklahoma in the United States. In Canada, they are enrolled in the Munsee-Delaware Nation, the Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and the Delaware of Six Nations. In the United States, they are enrolled in three federally recognized tribes, the Delaware Nation and the Delaware Tribe of Indians located in Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, located in Wisconsin. The Ramapough Mountain Indians and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape, recognized as tribes by the state of New Jersey, identify as Lenape descendants.
Several amateur histories refer to a "company of Dutch miners" building the Old Mine Road and establishing a copper mine near the Delaware Water Gap circa 1640, citing it as the first European settlement in Sussex County. But, these stories are not supported by documentary or archaeological evidence. At this time, many adventurers (or coureurs des bois) from Sir Edmund Plowden's failed New Albion Colony and Dutch New Netherlands are reputed to have sought mineral deposits (especially precious metals) and animal furs in the undefined wilderness and journeyed to trade with inland Indian tribes, but little or no evidence of their efforts remain.
As early as 1690, Dutch and French Huguenot colonists from New York began permanently settling in the Upper Delaware Valley (known as the "Minisink"). At this time, the county was populated by bands of Munsee-speaking Lenape; people who inhabited Northwestern New Jersey and Southern New York, including Long Island. They had also been in western Connecticut, but migrated into New Jersey by the early eighteenth century. Speakers of other dialects of Lenape inhabited areas further south into Delaware. Following Indian Trails from Esopus (now Kingston, New York), these Dutch and Huguenot families established settlements along the Rondout Creek, Neversink River and Mamakating Valley in Orange County, New York, and along the Delaware River in northwestern New Jersey and northeastern Pennsylvania. This Indian Trail led to the council fire of the Lenape tribes at Minisink, an island in the Delaware in present-day Montague Township. It would later become the route of the Old Mine Road and stretches of present-date U.S. Route 209.
Palatine German immigrants, refugees from religious wars and harsh winters, arrived in Philadelphia and New York City in 1709 and 1710, but generally had to work for several years in English camps to pay off their passage to the colonies. Some began settling river valleys in Northwestern New Jersey and Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley in the 1720s, with more settlers added by additional German immigrants after 1740. In the 1740s and 1750s, Scottish settlers from Elizabethtown and Perth Amboy, and English settlers from these cities, Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts, came to New Jersey and moved up the tributaries of the Passaic and Raritan rivers. Some settled in the eastern sections of present-day Sussex and Warren counties.
By the 1750s, residents of this area began to petition colonial authorities for a new county to be formed; they complained of the inconvenience of long travel to conduct business with the government and the courts. By this time, four large townships had been created in this sparsely populated Northwestern region: Walpack Township (before 1731), Greenwich Township (before 1738), Hardwick Township (1750) and Newtown Township (1751). On June 8, 1753, Sussex County was created from these four municipalities, which were a large portion of Morris County. Sussex County at this time encompassed present-day Sussex and Warren Counties with the following legal boundaries:
That all and singular, the lands and upper parts of said Morris County northwest of Muskonetkong river, BEGINNING at the mouth of said river, where it empties itself into Delaware river, and running up said Muskonetkong river, to the head of the great pond; from thence to the line that divides the province of New-York and said New-Jersey; thence along the said line to Delaware river aforesaid; thence down the same to the mouth of Muskonetkong...
The county purportedly was named by Royal Governor Jonathan Belcher after the family seat of Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle (1693–1768), who at the time was the Secretary of State for the Northern Department, and later the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1754–1756, 1757–1762). The Duke of Newcastle and his brother Henry Pelham were both prominent political figures in England from 1710 to 1762, and their family's ancestral seat was in the County of Sussex in England.
In the early 19th century, southern residents sought to gain some court sessions in their part of the county, suggesting alternating locations—in Newton in the north and in either Oxford or Belvidere in the south. The state legislature eventually voted to divide Sussex County in two, using a line drawn from the juncture of the Flat Brook and Delaware River in a southeasterly direction to the Musconetcong River running through Yellow Frame in present-day Fredon Township (then part of Hardwick). On November 20, 1824, Warren County was created from the southern territory of the Sussex County..
Shortly after the county was created, hostilities between the British and the French began to spill over from the European continent into the colonies in the New World. French colonists in Canada armed several Native American tribes to attack British colonial settlements in North America. During the French and Indian War (as the Seven Years War's hostilities in North America were called), Sussex County was often raided by bands of Native Americans, among them members of the Lenape, Shawnee, and Iroquois who fought against white settlers. In response to these aggressions, Royal Governor Jonathan Belcher approved a plan for 8 forts to be constructed along the Delaware River to defend the New Jersey frontier from such incursions, and authorized the New Jersey Frontier Guard to man them. Several of these forts were little more than blockhouses, others were personal homes that were fortified. Most of the hostilities were ended with the signing of the Treaty of Easton in 1758 brokered a peace between the colonial government and the Lenape and created the first American Indian Reservation, Brotherton, in present-day Evesham Township, New Jersey.
During the American Revolution, loyalist Lieutenant James Moody lead a daring raid against the county's court house (which housed the county jail in its basement). In 1780, Moody led several men to free eight Loyalist prisoners held in the Sussex County Courthouse. Moody freed the men and fled with them. Despite a pursuit lasting several days, Revolutionary forces failed to capture them.
Early settlers established farms whose operations were chiefly focused towards subsistence agriculture. Because of geological constraints, Sussex County's agricultural production was centered around dairy farming. A few farms had orchards—typically apples and peaches. A typical farmer produced enough food to feed their families and perhaps sell or exchange the remaining food and products with their neighbors. This was the economic model until the mid-19th century when advances in food preservation and the introduction of railroads into the area allowed Sussex County to transport farm products throughout the region.
In 1914, Montclair stockbroker James Turner invested $500,000 to develop Lusscroft Farm in a 578-acre property in Wantage Township. He sought to create a perfect model for dairy farming and to promote scientific research to improve production and efficiency within the industry. In 1931, Turner donated the farm property (then 1,050 acres in total), cattle and operations to the State of New Jersey to be used as an agricultural research station. Cook College, the agriculture and environmental science residential college at Rutgers University used the property for active research in animal husbandry, horticulture and forestry until 1970 and Rutgers finally closed the facility in 1996. Research conducted at Lusscroft Farm led to the development of new techniques in grassland farming, ensilage, livestock breeding (the creation of artificial insemination techniques for dairy cows) and production testing for a safe milk supply. Today, the property is part of High Point State Park and operated by the Sussex County Heritage and Agriculture Association, a local non-profit organization, under a memorandum of understanding with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. It is open to the public as an agricultural heritage center focused on agricultural education, outdoor recreation, and historical interpretation.
The Highlands Region of Northwestern New Jersey has proven to possess rich deposits of iron ore. In the mid 18th century, several entrepreneurial colonists began mining iron in present-day Sussex County and establishing forges and furnaces to create pig iron and bar iron. By the end of the 18th century, almost all of the trees in Sussex County were cut to provide charcoal to fuel the forges and furnaces in iron production.
In 1749, William Allen and Joseph Turner of Philadelphia acquired 21,363 acres (8,645 ha; 33.380 sq mi) of land in northwestern New Jersey for 3,000 British pounds, which included “well known Andover mine and the village of Andover with its forges and furnaces”. This forge, known as "Old Andover," was located at present-day Waterloo in Byram Township. In 1760, Allen and Turner built a blast furnace and forge on a branch of the Pequest River in present-day Andover Borough. Both owners remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution.
In 1777, the Quartermaster Department of the Continental Army complained to Congress of difficulties in acquiring iron to support the war effort. After trying to procure iron from Allen and Turner and being rebuffed, the Continental Congress's ordered Colonel Benjamin Flower and Colonel Thomas Maybury to take possession of the Iron Works in order to equip General Washington's army.
This mine lay idle from 1800 to 1848, when the firm Cooper & Hewitt acquired the works for $2,500. It went on to produce 50,000 tons of iron ore each year. The firm manufactured railroad rails and the country's first structural steel, which and led to the building of railroads and commercial development in the county.
Iron from the Andover mines was fashioned into cable wire for the bridge built at Niagara Falls and for the beams used to rebuild Princeton University's Nassau Hall in Princeton, New Jersey after a fire undermined the structure in 1855. During the American Civil War, Andover iron found its way into rifle barrels and cannonballs just as it had during the Revolution years before. According to local tradition, Andover Forge forged the The Great Chain used at West Point to keep British naval vessels from coming up the Hudson River during the Revolution, but other sources say the chains were forged in Orange County, New York.
In the 1870s, the prolific American inventor Thomas Edison began to explore the commercial opportunities of processing poor-quality low-grade iron ore to combat the growing scarcity of iron deposits in the United States. He developed a process of crushing and milling iron-bearing minerals and separating iron ore from the material through large electromagnets. After experimenting at a plant in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania, Edison built one of the world's largest ore-crushing mills near Ogdensburg, New Jersey. Completed in 1889, the factory contained three giant electromagnets and was intended to process up to 1200 tons of iron ore every day. However, technical difficulties repeatedly thwarted production. At the outset, Edison had high hopes that he would "do something now so different and so much bigger than anything I've ever done before people will forget that my name ever was connected with anything electrical." However, in the 1890s, richer soft-grade iron ore deposits located in Minnesota rendered Edison's Ogdensburg operation unprofitable and he closed the works in 1900. Edison adapted the process and machinery for the cement industry and invested in producing Portland Cement.
After completing medical school in Philadelphia, Samuel Fowler (1779–1844) settled in Franklin, New Jersey to open up a medical practice, but is largely known for his interest in mineralogy which led to his developing commercial uses for zinc and for discovery of several rare minerals (chiefly various ores of zinc) that are known for fluorescing in vivid colors when exposed to ultraviolet light. Franklin is known as the "Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World." Fowler, who later served in the New Jersey State Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, purchased and operated an iron works in the village (which he named Franklin Furnace) and bought several abandoned zinc and iron mines in the area.
Shortly after his death, two companies were created to exploit the iron and zinc deposits in this region; they acquired the rights to Fowler's holdings in Franklin and nearby Sterling Hill. The Sussex Zinc and Copper Mining and Manufacturing Corporation was incorporated in 1848 for the purpose of mining zinc, and the New Jersey Exploration and Mining Company was incorporated in 1849 to extract iron. With the same founding partners, in 1852 the companies merged to form the New Jersey Zinc Corporation (today known as Horsehead Industries). Because of ambiguous deeds, overlapping claims, and misunderstanding over the nature of the ores at Franklin and Sterling Hill, mining companies in the district were in constant litigation. From 1868 to 1880, the New Jersey Zinc Company fought a legal battle with Moses Taylor's Franklin Iron Company, a dispute that was finally resolved in 1880 by merging the two companies into the New Jersey Zinc and Iron Company. In 1897, the remaining Franklin District companies were consolidated under the umbrella of the New Jersey Zinc Company, and managed by Stephen S. Palmer. At this time, Russian, British, Irish, Hungarian and Polish immigrants came to Franklin to work in the mines, and the population of Franklin swelled from 500 (in 1897) to over 3,000 (in 1913).
The Palmer family controlled the company for 46 years until the death of Stephen's son, Edgar Palmer, in 1943. In order to pay inheritance taxes, his estate was forced to sell its controlling interest in the company. Declining deposits in the Franklin area, the expense of pumping groundwater from mine shafts, and misdirected investments by the company led to the abandonment of the mines by the 1970s. Today, both the Franklin and Sterling Hill mines are operated as museums.
As of 2012[update], a freight line running in Hardyston and Sparta townships is the only railroad operating in Sussex County. However, in the past, several railroad companies operated lines in the county when the county's dairy and mining industries relied on trains in their commerce. With the decline of those industries, the end of transporting the mail by train, refrigeration in trucks, lower freight and fuel costs by trucking, the railroads began to lose business; they ceased operating in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, many of the abandoned railbeds have been transformed into recreational trails. With New Jersey Transit's reconstruction and scheduled 2014 reopening of the Lackawanna Cut-Off, passenger rail service will return to Sussex County for the first time in almost fifty years.
With the reopening of the Andover iron mines, the Sussex Railroad was chartered in 1848 to transport iron ore and products to the Morris Canal. Construction of the line began in 1853 and the connection was completed to Newton at the end of the following year. The line was extended to Branchville and Lafayette (1866–1869), Franklin in 1871 (to provide service to the zinc mines). This was the first railroad company to establish service in Sussex County and it played a role in the economic development of the dairy and mining industry in the area. The Sussex Railroad operated until 1945 when the line merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad system. The last train travelled the route on October 2, 1966 and the tracks were soon removed. Today, the right-of-way has been converted into a recreational rail trail called the Sussex Branch Trail.
From 1886 to 1962, the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway and Blairstown Railway operated a branch that followed the valley of the Paulins Kill. This railway's principal business was in the transport of coal from Northeastern Pennsylvania to New York City. In the late 1980s, the State of New Jersey purchased the abandoned railbed and transformed into a recreational trail. The Paulinskill Valley Trail is a 27-mile scenic trail system that is used for hiking, cycling, jogging and horseback riding. Motor vehicles and all-terrain vehicles are not permitted.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad opened a 400-mile (645 km) mainline that ran from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Buffalo, New York. A segment of this line called the Lackawanna Cut-Off (also known as the New Jersey Cut-Off, the Hopatcong-Slateford Cut-Off, the Lackawanna Highline, or simply the Cut-Off) was built across the southern portion of Sussex County from 1908 to 1911. It was in operation until 1979 and abandoned four years later. This route is being rebuilt and is scheduled to begin operating in 2014 under the management of New Jersey Transit. The Cut-Off ran west from Port Morris Junction—near the southern tip of Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey, about 45 miles (72.4 km) west-northwest of New York City – to Slateford Junction near the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania, a total of 28.45 miles (45.9 km). The Lackawanna Cut-Off is an example of early 20th-century right-of-way construction, which minimized grades and curves and was built without vehicular crossings. It was one of the first railroad projects to use reinforced concrete on a large scale.
Sussex County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders who are elected at-large to serve three-year terms. This board serves both as a small legislative body and as an administrative body with broad powers over the county's budget, government services, and infrastructure. Seats on the five-member board are elected on a staggered basis over three years, with two seats available in the first year, two seats the following, and then one seat. All terms of office begin on January 1 and end on December 31.
As of 2012[update], the five elected members of the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders are:
The freeholders appoint a County Administrator to oversee the day-to-day management of the county by both "implementing the policy directives set forth by the Board of Chosen Freeholders" and "directing, managing, or guiding the County's administrative departments, divisions and agencies." The current Administrator is John Eskilson. Many services overseen by the county government overlap with those provided at the municipal level. However, the County government oversees and administers the following areas of responsibility:
Before 1911, two freeholders from each township were elected annually to serve on the board. However, as this became unwieldy during the era of Boroughitis and the creation of hundreds of municipalities, the State Legislature chose to reorganize the size of county freeholder boards to an odd number between three and nine members. The size of the board was a reflection of the county's population. As Sussex County was rural and among the least populated counties in the state, for the next 80 years, Sussex County's Board of Chosen Freeholders consisted of three elected members. The board increased from three to five members in 1992.
Pursuant to Article VII Section II of New Jersey's Constitution, each county in New Jersey is required to have three elected administrative officials known as "constitutional officers." These officers are the County Clerk (elected for a five-year term), the County Surrogate (elected for a five-year term), and the County Sheriff (elected for a three-year term).
The County Clerk is responsible for certifying notaries; processing and recording deeds, mortgages, and real estate documents; business trade names, processing petitions from candidate for elective office, drawing up ballots, overseeing elections and counting ballots, and many other tasks. The current County Clerk is Jeffrey M. Parrott (Republican).
The County Surrogate is both a constitutional officer and judge with jurisdiction over estate and probate matters (wills, guardianships, trusteeships), and in processing adoptions. The current County Surrogate is Nancy D. Fitzgibbons (Republican).
The County Sheriff is responsible for law enforcement, protection of the courts, administering the county jail, and the delivery and service of court documents. The current County Sheriff is Michael F. Strada (Republican). His term began January 1, 2011.
Sussex County is part of two congressional districts.
Sussex County is in the The 24th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Steve Oroho (R, Franklin) and in the General Assembly by Gary R. Chiusano (R, Frankford Township) and Alison Littell McHose (R, Franklin)..
The following are Sussex County's 24 incorporated municipalities:
Sussex County is a predominantly Republican area, as among registered voters, affiliations with the Republican Party outpace those of the Democratic Party by a ratio of three to one. All five members of the county board of Chosen Freeholders, all three county-wide constitutional officers, and all except a few of the 108 municipal offices among the county's 24 municipalities are held by Republicans. In the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, George W. Bush carried the county by a 29.6% margin over John Kerry, the largest margin for Bush in any county in New Jersey, with Kerry carrying the state by 6.7% over Bush. In 2008, John McCain carried Sussex County by a 20.6% margin over Barack Obama, McCain's best showing in New Jersey, with Obama winning statewide by 15.5% over McCain. In the 2009 Gubernatorial Election, Republican Chris Christie received 63% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jon Corzine, who received around 26%. Also, Sussex County is the home county of Scott Garrett, who is by far the most conservative congressman from New Jersey. He represents almost all of Sussex County along with Warren County, northern Passaic County, and northern Bergen County. The southeast corner of Sussex County is represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen.
Early industry and commerce chiefly centered on agriculture, milling, and iron mining. As iron deposits were exhausted, mining shifted toward zinc deposits near Franklin and Ogdensburg during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The local economy expanded due to the introduction of railroads and shortly after the Civil War, the town centers hosted factories. However, the factories, railroads and mining declined by the late 1960s. Today, Sussex County features a mix of rural farmland, forests and suburban development. Because agriculture (chiefly dairy farming) has decreased and that the county hosts little industry, Sussex County is considered a "bedroom community" as most residents commute to neighboring counties (Bergen, Essex and Morris Counties) or to New York City for work.
|* lost territory|
historical census data source:
As of the census of 2000, there were 144,166 people, 50,831 households, and 38,784 families residing in the county. The population density was 277 people per square mile (107/km²). There were 56,528 housing units at an average density of 108 per square mile (42/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 95.70% White, 1.0% Black or African American, 0.11% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.74% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. 3.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.4% were of Italian, 18.1% Irish, 16.0% German, 7.2% English, 5.9% Polish and 5.2% American ancestry according to Census 2000.
By 2006, 90.3% of the county population was non-Hispanic whites. The percentage of African-Americans was up to 1.7%. Asians were now 1.9% of the population. 5.3% of the population was Latino.
In 2000 there were 50,831 households out of which 39.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.0% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 18.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the county the population was spread out with 27.9% under the age of 18, 6.2% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.
Sussex County is considered an affluent area as many of its residents are college-educated, employed in professional or service jobs, and earn above the state's average per capita income and household income statistics. As of 2010[update], the Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the county as having the 131st-highest per capita income of all 3,113 counties in the United States (and the ninth-highest in New Jersey).
Average per capita income is $49,207 and is 23.2% above the national average. The median income for a household in the county was $67,266, and the median income for a family was $73,335 (these figures had risen to $79,434 and $89,302 respectively as of a 2007 estimate).
As of 2010[update], there were a total of 54,881 households enumerated in the 2010 census, with a reported median household income of $84,115, or mean household income of $96,527. Males had a median income of $50,395 versus $33,750 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,992. About 2.8% of families and 4.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
|Household Income||Number of Households||Percentage of Households|
|Less than $10,000||1,754||3.2%|
|$10,000 to $14,999||1,136||2.1%|
|$15,000 to $24,999||2,771||5.0%|
|$25,000 to $34,999||4,026||7.3%|
|$35,000 to $49,999||5,872||10.7%|
|$50,000 to $74,999||9,365||17.1%|
|$75,000 to $99,999||8,209||15.0%|
|$100,000 to $149,999||12,927||23.6%|
|$150,000 to $199,999||4,714||8.6%|
|$200,000 or more||4,107||7.5%|
In the recent 2006–2010 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 3.6 percent of county residents are living below the poverty line which the government defined as an annual household income under $22,350 for a family of four. However, recent surveys indicate that in the county's town centers, Sussex Borough (15.1%), Newton (12.8%) and Andover Borough (12.7%), poverty levels reach double-digits. Of these poverty level residents, an estimated 44% are employed—many of them underemployed despite working multiple jobs.
As of 2010[update] U.S. Census data, the county's unemployment rate was 11.0%. The Census Bureau reports a population of 118,420 persons (above age 16) available for the labor force of which 82,449 (69.6%) were actively employed in civilian labor, and 35,971 (30.4%) were not in the labor force.
|Category||Persons employed||Percentage of labor force|
|Management, business, science, and arts occupations||29,443||40.1%|
|Sales and office occupations||18,712||25.5%|
|Natural resources, construction and maintenance occupations||6,715||9.2%|
|Production, transportation, and material moving occupations||6,784||9.2%|
|Category||Persons employed||Percentage of labor force|
|Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining||674||0.9%|
|Transportation and warehousing, and utilities||3,791||5.2%|
|Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing||6,642||9.1%|
|Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services||7,963||10.9%|
|Educational services, and health care and social assistance||16,268||22.2%|
|Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services||6,629||9.0%|
|Other services, except public administration||2,033||2.8%|
Although Sussex County's dairy farming industry has declined significantly in the last 50 years it is still the majority of agricultural production in the region. Trucking has replaced railroads in the transportation of milk products to regional production facilities and markets. Rising taxes, regulation and decreasing profitability in dairy farming have forced farmers to adapt by growing other products or converting their farms to other uses. Many farmers have sold their properties to real estate developers who have built residential housing. Many Sussex County farms are nursery farms producing ornamental trees, plants and flowers used in horticulture, floristry or landscaping. Christmas trees and nursery and greenhouse plants contribute to 51% of the county's annual crop revenues but account for 30% of crop production.
Despite the decline of dairy farming, it is still the largest contributor to the county's annual agricultural revenues. According to the Sussex County Comprehensive Farmland Preservation Plan (2008):
dairy production has steadily trended downward since 1971, when the county produced 138 million pounds of milk. By 2005 this quantity had fallen to 38.4 million pounds. The decrease is further reflected in the number of dairy farms and milk cows in 1982 as compared to 2002. In 1982 there were 137 dairy farms; by 2002 the number had decreased to only 30. In 1982 there were 6,406 milk cows; in 2002 the quantity had fallen to 1,943.
According to county agricultural statistics, 17.3% of all crop sales ($1.4 million in 2002) are in hay. Nearly 80% of tilled farmland, or 21,195 acres (8,577 ha), on 43% of the farms in the county is dedicated to hay production. Much of hay is grown for feed on livestock farms—especially dairy farms—and never makes it to market and is therefore not included in federal agricultural census data. In 2002, 4,059 acres (1,643 ha) were dedicated to corn cultivation, the majority of it used for feed on the same farms.
According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Sussex County has 1,060 farms totalling 65,242 acres (26,403 ha; 101.941 sq mi) out of New Jersey's total 10,327 farms managing 773,450 acres (313,000 ha; 1,208.52 sq mi). This is up from 1,029 farms in the 2002 Census. However, acreage dedicated to agriculture declined by 13.6% from 75,496 acres (30,552 ha; 117.962 sq mi) in 2002. Note though that 102,547 acres—roughly 30% of the county's land area—are under farmland assessment for the purpose of calculating property tax levies. This decrease is total acreage is due, in large part, to "suburban sprawl" as farmers capitalized by converting to commercial and residential development. The average size of a farm in 2007 was 62 acres (25 ha) acres, down from 73 acres (30 ha). The 2007 acreage dedicated to agriculture is roughly 19.6% of the county's land area. The decrease in total acreage is County-wide total agricultural product sales in 2007 was $21,242,000, up rom $14,756,000 in 2002. Total county market value of land and buildings in 2007 was $888,955,000, an increase from $520,997,000 in 2002. The average market value per farm was $838,636 (2007), up from $505,823 (2002). This results in a per acre price of $13,625 (2007), up from $7,136 (2002).
With the repeal of several prohibition-era alcohol laws in 1981, 43 wineries have become licensed and are presently operating in the state. New Jersey wines have grown in stature due to increased marketing and quality, recent successes and awards in competitions, and appreciation by critics. Sussex County is home to three established and operating wineries and three more are in development.
Sussex County's industrial and manufacturing base is no longer towards heavy industry and mining. Today, companies like Thor Labs, are located here.
Because of its lower population, large amount of land area preserved by state and federal parks and open space preservation programs, and conservative politics, Sussex County has lower spending on education (through regional school districts) and government services and thus has lower taxes than its neighboring counties. Most municipalities do not have police departments or paid firemen—instead relying on the rural service of the New Jersey State Police and volunteer fire departments. In several municipalities, taxes on an acre of land, depending on the condition and size of the house, could be as low as $1,500 a year. Typical property taxes in the county are in the $4,000–$8,000 a year range.
Heroin use has been on the rise and shows no signs of improvement despite efforts of law enforcement and community groups working to fight the problem. This is due to the inexpensive cost of heroin and its highly addictive nature. Yet for the most part, crime is fairly low in Sussex County. Law Enforcements are well organized and the sheriff is elected by the people of Sussex County. This is the only law enforcement position that is elected in the county. The Sheriff's office is located on 39 High Street, in Newton. The current sheriff of Sussex County is Michael Strada.
The State Police are located on Route 206 in Augusta and most townships have local police departments. There is also N.J. Park police in Stokes State Forest and other state parks.
Sussex County has one daily newspaper, The New Jersey Herald, which is published six days each week (Sunday through Friday). Established in 1829 by Grant Fitch, the Herald is one of the oldest continuing newspapers in the state with distribution throughout Sussex County and into neighboring Morris and Warren counties in New Jersey, Orange County, New York and Pike County, Pennsylvania. Its headquarters, printing, and production facilities are located in Newton, New Jersey.
It was for most of its existence published once per week. It's Sunday edition, the New Jersey Sunday Herald, was first published on June 11, 1962 and for the next few years it was published twice weekly. In 1969, after a sale to American Newspapers, Inc., a daily edition was planned which began publication on March 16, 1970. American Newspapers, Inc., sold the New Jersey Herald to Quincy Newspapers (its current owner) in March 1980. Today, its content includes coverage of local news and sporting events (chiefly those in Sussex County) and printing selected articles from the Associated Press covering state, national and international events.
Sussex County is served by Service Electric Cable Television (SECTV) through its affiliate Service Electric Cable Company in Sparta, New Jersey. Service Electric also offers broadband Internet and telephone services through two partner companies, PenTeleData and Ironton Telephone. Service Electric has offered channels for local access programming (channel 10) and for "community bulletin boards". It offers two free Public Service Announcements or event advertisements for free to non-profit organizations in Sussex and Warren Counties.
WMBC-TV an independent television station owned by Mountain Broadcasting Corporation, is licensed to operate in Newton. It is recognized for providing Korean language programming in the New York metropolitan area but also offers English-language programs. Its studios are located in West Caldwell, New Jersey and its transmitter near Lake Hopatcong. Before 2009, it operated an analog transmission on virtual channel 63 (UHF-63) but has converted to broadcasting its signal on digital channel 18.
The New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority maintains the license to operate a low-power translator (W36AZ) in Sussex Borough to broadcast the state's public television station, NJTV. This station, which formerly was the New Jersey Network (NJN), is currently operated by WNET.org, the parent company of New York City's flagship public television stations, WNET and WLIW, through a subsidiary nonprofit organization, Public Media NJ.
Sussex County is served largely by radio stations in the New York City metropolitan area. Stations from Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania; Hudson Valley in New York; and from the Philadelphia metropolitan area can also be heard. Clear Channel Radio owns a cluster of four stations in the county, including: 102.3 FM WSUS in Franklin (Format: Adult Contemporary), 103.7 FM WNNJ in Newton (Format: Classic Rock), 106.3 FM WHCY in Franklin (Format: Hot Adult Contemporary); and 1360 AM WTOC in Newton (Format: Oldies).
Stations nearby include 91.9 FM WNTI broadcast from Centenary College in Hackettstown (Warren County) with a public radio and progressive music format and 1110 AM WTBQ in Warwick, New York with a NewsTalk and Sports format.
Sussex County is served by a number of roads connecting it to the rest of the state and to both Pennsylvania and New York. Interstate 80 passes through the extreme southern tip of Sussex County solely in Byram. Interstate 84 passes just yards north of Sussex County, but never enters New Jersey.
Sussex County has two toll-bridge crossings over the Delaware River. Operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, the Milford-Montague Toll Bridge (also known as the US 206 Toll Bridge) carries U.S. Route 206 over the Delaware connecting Montaguer Township and Milford, Pennsylvania. The current bridge was opened in 1954, replacing a series of bridges located here beginning in 1826.:p.73-85 Route 206 merges with U.S. Route 209 a mile south of the village center. Tolls are collected only from motorists traveling westbound, into Pennsylvania. The Dingman's Ferry Bridge is the last privately owned toll bridge on the Delaware River and one of the last few in the United States.:p.93-102 It is owned and operated by the Dingmans Choice and Delaware Bridge Company which has operated bridges here since 1836.:p.93-102 The bridge connects the village of Dingmans in Delaware Township in Pike County, Pennsylvania and State Route 2019 with County Route 560 and the Old Mine Road in Sandyston Township, New Jersey.
As of 2012[update], Sussex County's sole currently-operating railroad line is dedicated to freight service in Sparta, Vernon and Hardyston townships. It is operated by the New York, Susquehanna & Western railroad and CSX Transportation. Commuter rail service has not been offered in the county since the 1960s. However, commuter rail service is available from nearby stations along New Jersey Transit's Morris and Essex Lines in Hackettstown, Netcong, and Dover, which are easily accessible to Sussex County residents by driving or through bus services offered through New Jersey Transit. This line was part of the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad system. Service is available directly to Hoboken Terminal or via the Kearny Connection (opened in 1996) to Secaucus Junction and Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. Passengers can transfer at Newark Broad Street or Summit to reach the other destination if necessary.
New Jersey Transit is planning to re-open commuter service through the Lackawanna Cut-Off route which passes through Andover and Green Townships in the southern part of the county. Service from a station in Andover into New York City and Hoboken is scheduled to begin in 2014. The portion of the Cut-Off route west of Andover heading toward Scranton, Pennsylvania has not been funded or scheduled.
NJ Transit runs "Skyland Ride" service Moday - Friday. See here: http://www.sussex.nj.us/Cit-e-Access/webpage.cfm?TID=7&TPID=9168
There are four general aviation public-use airports in Sussex County that cater to recreational pilots. They include:
Sussex County's municipalities are divided into nine local and regional public high school districts. Several municipalities have two or more elementary or grammar schools. Because of its distance from other county high schools and the higher costs of busing students one of those locations, Montague Township sends their students to Port Jervis, New York for schooling. Several of the county's high schools are highly ranked by both state and federal education departments, with two high schools (Kittatinny Regional and High Point Regional) having achieved the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School Award.
The county's Board of Chosen Freeholders oversees the Sussex County Technical School (formerly the Sussex County Vocational-Technical School), a county-wide technical high school in Sparta Township, New Jersey.
Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, New Jersey, operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson, which also operates the K-8 schools Immaculate Conception in Franklin, St. Joseph in Newton and Rev. George A. Brown in Sparta. There are several other private schools in the county. The county also has several other religious and private schools.
These schools compete in interscholastic sports and other athletic activities sanctioned by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). In 2010, the NJSIAA reorganized state-wide athletic leagues into regional conferences. Prior to this reorganization, these ten schools competed under the auspices of the Sussex County Interscholastic League (SCIL). SCIL and other Morris and Warren County high schools now compete under the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference.
Sussex County Community College (SCCC) is a two-year community college located on a 167 acres (68 ha) campus bounded by County Route 519, Swartswood Road (County Route 622) and Plotts Road in Newton. This location was formerly the site of Don Bosco College, a Roman Catholic seminary operated by the Salesian Order from 1928 until it was sold to the county in 1984. SCCC began operations in 1982 and became fully accredited in 1993 by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Today, Sussex County Community College offers 37 associate degree and 11 certificate programs and reports enrollment of over 4,200 students of which 58% attend full-time.
Before it closed in 1995, Upsala College, a Lutheran-affiliated college in East Orange, New Jersey, operated a 245 acres (99 ha) satellite campus in Wantage Township which it named the "Wirth Campus." In 1978, the land had been donated by Wallace "Wally" Wirths (1920–2001), a former Westinghouse Corporation executive, author, local newspaper columnist and radio commentator. The school had considered moving to Sussex County as East Orange's crime problem and social conditions deteriorated in the 1970s. However, declining enrollment and financial difficulties forced the school to close. The Wirths family bought back the farm for $75,000.
Sussex County is part of the Skylands Region—a term promoted by the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth, & Tourism Commission to encourage regional tourism. New Jersey currently ranks fifth in the nation in revenues generated from tourism.
Local dairy farmers have had to adapt to a declining milk and dairy industry and reacclimate to changing economic conditions by seeking new sources of revenue. Combining their agricultural production while promoting tourism, "Agritourism" has created opportunities for farmers. Many Sussex County farms offer corn field mazes, "u-pick" or "pick your own" fruits and vegetables—especially for apples, strawberries, pumpkins and Christmas trees during their respective harvest seasons.
New Jersey's wine industry has benefited from the recent easing of state alcohol licensing laws and from new promotional and marketing programs offered by the state's Department of Agriculture. Of the state's 43 currently licensed wineries, Sussex County is home to three: Westfall Winery in Montague Township, Cava Winery in Hamburg, and Ventimiglia Vineyards in Wantage Township. Three additional wineries are in development—either seeking state and/or federal licensure or securing local zoning approvals.
The Sussex County Farm and Horse Show which has operated since 1918 is now the New Jersey State Fair.
There are nine wildlife management areas located in Sussex County for hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing, covering more than 15,000 acres (6,100 ha). There are also several state forests and state parks.
Skylands Park is located in the Augusta section of Frankford Township near the intersection of U.S. Route 206, New Jersey Route 15, and County Route 565 (New Jersey). While it was home to two minor league baseball teams and one semi-professional football team, As of 2012[update], it is now vacant.
With the rise of professional minor league baseball, Sussex County became the home to the New Jersey Cardinals, a short-season Class-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals franchise in 1994. The Cardinals, previously the Glens Falls Redbirds (1981–1993) from upstate New York, won the New York-Penn League's championship in their 1994 inaugural season. They had one other winning season (in 2002) and in 2005 the owners sold the team—which was then moved to University Park, Pennsylvania and renamed the State College Spikes. They are now affiliated with MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates franchise. In 2006, Skylands Park became the home of the Sussex Skyhawks an affiliate of the Canadian-American Association of Professional Baseball (or Can-Am League). The team were League Champions during the 2008 season. The team ceased operations after the 2010 season.
In 2010, the New Jersey Stags, a semi-professional football team affiliated with the Big North East Football Federation (BNEFF) played their inaugural season in the ballpark. However, the next season they announced that they would use Macerino Stadium at Vernon Township High School. The team folded in August 2011.
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