In the Cornfield of Morris, You Can Hear More than Just Krickus

MORRISTOWN – It was a night of wit, some movie trivia and a somber observation of growing anti-Semitism across the land.

Call it a wintry-mix, if you like.

This was the annual reorganization meeting of the Morris County Commissioners.

Elections are getting closer here, but on the county level, at least, Republicans have complete control. Even with that, inevitable conflicts within the GOP family have surfaced during past reorg meetings.

But not this year.

As the 2024 board gathered on Friday night, all was upbeat. So upbeat that commissioners could not help getting a bit carried away.

It is common for Morris leaders to speak of their blessed county of about 510,000 people as not only “the best” in the state, but the nation as well. It’s unclear, of course, how one actually measures such a thing.

Nonetheless, it is true that Morris has a ton of attributes that make it a splendid place to live – a great park system, excellent schools, an affluent lifestyle, very little serious crime and, relatively speaking, a low county tax rate.

Fueled by that impressive backdrop, the board on this night went beyond the “best in the nation” routine and reached to – and beyond – the stars.

Morris County, you see, is just like heaven.

Presenting a short film at the beginning of the year is becoming a new board custom. This year’s version referenced the famous scene in “Field of Dreams,” in which the character Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is asked:

“Is this heaven?”

Ray Kinsella replies:

“It’s Iowa.”

In the Morris County version, it is Commissioner John Krickus who is shown striding through a cornfield. And the relevant question about heaven is asked by Joe Jackson. There really is a Morris County Joe Jackson; he’s the mayor of Rockaway Township.

He may not be called “Shoeless,” but you get the point.

And, yes, Krickus replies, “It’s Morris County.”
So there you have the theme of the evening.

More officially, Christine Myers was named board director for 2024.

She was thinking ahead – a few years ahead to the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026.

Besides maintaining what makes the county such a nice place to live, Myers said now is the time to get ready for the Sesquicentennial.

Myers said she hopes to attract tourism to the county’s many historic sites, noting that this is a “unique opportunity” for the county, state and entire nation to join together.

“Let’s invite everyone to come to Morris County,” Myers said, mentioning such locales as Washington’s Headquarters and his Revolutionary War encampment at Jockey Hollow.

Officially sworn to new terms were Ann Grossi, the county clerk, and Commissioner Tayfun Selen.

“Clearly, I have fulfilled your promise to reelect me,” Selen said. His reelection, actually, was not all that cut and dry. He did have to beat back a primary challenge from Paul DeGroot.

Stephen Shaw, who was elected deputy director, was given an envelope by a staffer. He said it was a notification that the county’s film had won an Academy Award.

More chuckles. More applause.

When it became Commissioner Deborah Smith’s turn, she switched gears, speaking of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

“Ukrainians and Jewish people are deeply rooted in the fabric of Morris County,” Smith said.

Now that the war in Ukraine is almost two years old, Smith said it’s “disheartening” to see that some have grown apathetic to it.

“Worse yet,” she said, “is the ignorance demonstrated by some in our community, many of whom are identified as ‘young, educated Americans,’ who are calling for the destruction of Israel – and who are trying to disrupt every national, religious and ethnic celebration in our nation to make their point.

“I pray our nation recognizes this for what it is – deep rooted anti-Semitism that shockingly has been fomented by our institutions of higher learning. And I pray we can change course.”

Amid some of the evening’s light-hearted fare, this was quite the dose of reality.


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