Six Municipal Courts To Receive Substance Abuse Help; 9-Year-Old Lanternfly Slayer

Sources: North; NewJerseyHills Caldwell

Paterson is one of six cities in New Jersey that will get substance abuse intervention pilot programs for its municipal court, state officials announced on Tuesday.

The program, known as Opt for Help and Hope, will be designed to match the recovery court program that currently operates in New Jersey Superior Court, officials said.

Officials said Opt for Help and Hope will assist people with substance use problems before their drug-related conduct escalates to the kind of more serious crimes that are prosecuted in Superior Court.

Besides Paterson, the other pilot programs will be in Pemberton, East Orange, Hamilton Township, Franklin Township in Somerset County and Central Municipal Court of Atlantic County.

Each program will receive a $333,333 grant from a New Jersey Attorney General settlement with a company allegedly involved in the false advertisement of opioid products.

The participating county prosecutors must set up a program that screens potential participants at the time of arrest or at any point in the court process. Participants are given a peer recovery coach who will arrange for the person to be assessed for services, including treatment at a community-based treatment provider and recovery support, and transportation to appointments.

The funding for the pilot program is for a 24-month period from March 1, 2023 through Feb. 28, 2025, officials said.

When Bobbi Wilson, 9, sees a bug when she is helping in her garden, she usually runs away.

But since she learned about the danger that the spotted lanternfly poses to trees in her Caldwell neighborhood this summer, she has been on a mission: To slay as many of the invasive species as she can.

Her weapons are a big plastic bottle, which she uses to trap them, and a smaller bottle with a spray that she mixes herself.

Bobbi said she learned about the problem of the spotted lanternfly on TikTok. “They suck the life out of the trees,” she said. She also learned the recipe for the spray from a TikTok video.

Her mother, Monique Joseph, said Bobbi usually spends 30 to 45 minutes every afternoon after school slaying spotted lanternflies. She has found many on trees in the nearby Prospect Hill Cemetery.

Her efforts have inspired neighbors to join the battle, with the encouragement of her teachers at Jefferson School, Joseph said.

Bobbi’s technique consists of holding a big plastic bottle over an insect on a tree and it falls inside. She also sprays a mixture of water, vinegar and dish-washing soap directly on the spotted lanternflies, which then jump to the ground, where she steps on them. Then she drags her foot along the ground to make sure both the lanternfly and the sac of eggs it is carrying is destroyed.

She plans to continue her campaign against the spotted lanternfly until the weather turns cold.

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