President’s Message: December 2023 Another Year is Over…..But The Work Never Ends

by Bob Duthaler

Hard to believe that yet another year is coming to a close.  It’s been a busy year for JAG on both the legislative and operational ends.  For me it also signifies the fact that my 15th year as JAG President is also coming to an end.  However, I choose to look at all this as a new beginning.  The beginning of a new year for JAG, the beginning of the twenty-fourth year of JAG’s existence and the beginning of the reorganization of the JAG board at the upcoming Trustee Meeting in January.

JAG as an organization is in perpetual motion.  This constant motion is the very strength of this organization.  The ability to grow, adjust, re-evaluate and change are the core strengths of this organization.  JAG is no different from any other organization that goes through ebbs and tides.  Complacency at some point attacks all organizations.  But it’s our ability to get through these patches that makes JAG different from other organizations.

For some time, I have noticed that attendance at our monthly meetings has not increased.  One of the things JAG does and does well is to host monthly membership meetings, typically on the last Wednesday of each month.  These meetings are one way in which the Board reports back to the membership on the operation of the organization.  These meetings also are a networking event in which members can see each other, discuss items of interest, and get to know each other on both a professional and personal level.  Finally, these meetings also act as an ongoing educational event.  JAG is in a unique position to bring in experts and vendors to introduce us to new technology and legislative updates.  For these very reasons the JAG Board and External Relations Committee works hard to bring in a series of experts and information sessions during our meetings.  To that end it is imperative that members support these initiatives and make every effort to attend the monthly meetings.

I believe that JAG is also turning the corner on membership participation in committees.  Several new members and some of our regulars are now taking an interest in serving on committees.  Their participation helps to breathe new life into the committees, which extends to the organization as a whole.  I am happy to report that some of our committees now have both new and veteran members working together.  The Membership Committee received a lot of good leads from our time at the NJ League of Municipalities Conference. They will work to expand the organization and draw in new municipal members.  Please consider joining this committee and helping to grow the organization.

The JAG Awards Committee has reorganized and formatted the JAG Awards.   The committee will be working very hard to get the awards program up and going for the new year and to have an awards show at the upcoming conference in Edison in May 16, 2024.  The committee is working on finding new and inventive ways to allow all members access to the JAG Awards and help level the playing field for operations of varied budgets, sizes, staff and volunteers.  The awards will open on January 1, 2024. So, I urge you to start preparing your entries and look for new announcements in upcoming emails, newsletters and social media.

The Legislative Committee is one of the most fluid committees in JAG, and for a very good reason.  The political landscape is always changing and with those changes there are always new polices, laws or FCC orders that effectively impact our very existence.  The committee is always working very hard on keeping on top of these changes.  They continue working closely with both NATOA and the ACM, two national organizations, in getting both information and direction.  The committee is also taking that information and relaying it to both our membership and our legislators on the local, state, and federal level with their monthly legislative newsletter.  The committee continues with their partnerships and commitment to work with the NJLM Organization as an affiliate member.  This committee has also seen a revived interest from new members and is actively seeking others to join the committee as well.

The JAG Conference Committee is already full steam ahead and working on creating what we believe will be the best conference in a long time.  It is through the evaluation of our successes and failures, and measuring these against the future, that the committee will present a refreshed conference, bring in new interest and present an exciting and informative event to our members.  The committee has also welcomed new members and is already starting an active new social media campaign.  I would urge you to follow their progress on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Come mid-January look for an updated conference website ( and be on the lookout for informational newsletters.  It’s not too early to mark your calendar for the 2024 JAG Conference, which will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, May 16, 2024.  Feel free to reach out to the committee to share your thoughts and ideas for the upcoming conference sessions. Finally, I want to wrap up this month’s update by telling you that the JAG Board of Trustees and Executive Board will be holding reorganization meetings in January 2024.  During these meetings the board will look at the outcome of the JAG Executive Board Retreat back in August, look at the upcoming landscape for the industry and, just like franchise renewals, plan for the future of the organization.  It is the board’s commitment to this organization that helps mold the future of JAG.  As the Chairman of the Board and current President it is very important to me that I am in tune with the pulse of the members.  I would urge you during the next couple of weeks to reach out to me via email or phone and express your thoughts, interests and concerns about the organization.  I will then take your thoughts and share them with the board so they may be discussed and acted upon.  It is only through your participation that the future and success of JAG can be possible.  I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.  And may the Jersey Access Group be equally as blessed and successful in the upcoming year.