STANHOPE Councils from Stanhope Borough and Mount Olive Township have decided to connect the trails between the two towns and increase opportunities for ecotourism. John Rogalo and Janice Hunts from Stanhope’s Environmental Commission, and Kathy Murphy of Mount Olive’s Environmental Commission, presented the opportunity to the council at their meeting on Jan. 24. The two groups hope to secure a $31,000 National Recreation and Trails Grant from the NJ DEP to carry out the project. Each municipality would be responsible for matching 10 percent of the grant or providing in-kind services. “The Morris Canal is a beautiful spot and local heritage site and people don’t know what it is,” said Murphy. Plans are being drawn up for a pedestrian bridge at one of the spots with handicap access and a fishing platform. Murphy said the goal is to link their trails to the Sussex Branch Trail. “This is a regional approach with several towns and the state,” Murphy said. Borough attorney Richard Stein drafted up a resolution adopting the plan on the spot, a necessary move because of the imminent deadline on the grant. All members of the Stanhope Council voted in favor of it. In other business Administrator Brian McNeilly reported that an inspection of the plaster mill showed it is in danger of collapse. “The danger of collapse is very real, and we need additional signage outside of the fence,” said McNeilly. At the Jan. 10 council meeting, members discussed possible solutions to safely preserve the mill, including bringing the walls down to a safe level. Councilman George Graham said, “If we’re going to start doing something, we’re going to need to do something. It’s been a start stop for 40 years.” The room once occupied by the court clerk in the borough hall will be transformed into a detective’s or evidence room for the police department. “The working conditions [of the room] are far from ideal,” said mayor Rosemarie Maio. Maio said the room in its current condition would need commercial grade racks, for example, to increase its efficiency. Benjamin and Zachary Ellicott were appointed as active members of the Stanhope Fire Department. The two had previously been part of the department’s junior firefighter program. “We’re delighted to see them progress from that group,” said Maio.