The Week in Union County
The news you might have missed from the past week.
In the first week of 2012, we take a look at the region's top stories from the past week.
Westfielders mourned the death of Westfield High School graduate Margaret Kritsch Anderson. A park ranger, Anderson was shot and killed New Year's Day while on duty at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Anderson's father Paul Kritsch is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Westfield. More than 200 people gathered for a prayer service at the church Wednesday evening.
The Westfield High School Choir and Bella Cora are preparing for their spring trip to Europe by hosting a series of fundraisers.
The Westfield Board of Education interviewed the candidates who have applied for the vacant seat. An announcement will be made at the public meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
The Town Council had its first meeting of the new year. Taking their oaths of office were Council members Frank Arena, JoAnn Neylan, James Foerst and Mark LoGrippo.
Katie Sullivan, 17, will compete at the USA 2012 Junior National Curling Championships in Madison, Wis. later this month. Sullivan and her teammates are accepting contributions to help defray the cost of their trip.
Mayor Calls Mountainside 'Fiscally Strong & Thriving' into the New Year
Beaming with pride and a light-hearted sense of humor, Mayor Paul Mirabelli compared Mountainside to a genuine family. "Like a real family, we don't often get along every moment on a day to day basis, but when faced with difficult and challenging situations, we are there for one another," said Mirabelli at the Mountainside reorgnanization meeting held Tues., Jan. 3, 2011 at the municipal building.
Dozens of residents crammed into the meeting room to officially welcome in the new year with the mayor and council and support members of the Mountainside police department who received special praise for their accomplishments in a formal presentation by Administrator James J. Debbie, Jr. and Captain Richard Osieja.
GL Girls Fencing Topples Columbia in Dramatic Finish
Over the years the Governor Livingston and Columbia fencing squads have squared off in some memorable meets. The Highlanders girls knocked off the Cougars in 2009-10 on their way to a state championship.
Last year, the Cougars bested their rival in the state consolation match for the bronze medal. On the boys side, Columbia entered last night’s match boasting a 2010-11 state championship.
The Lady Highlanders won 14-13 in impressive fashion.
"That is what makes this stuff great," said Governor Livingston head coach Vince Paragano. "The Yankees-Red Sox or the Giants-Cowboys feel that it has."
The squads split the first two bouts in the final round, setting up the winner-take-all bout between the Highlanders’ Alaina Jennings and Nicole Mee.
“When we won the first round of the last epée bout, I knew we weren’t losing,” said Coach Paragano.
Columbia, who entered the meet as the state’s number two team, had never trailed an opponent in a meet throughout the season.
Ziad Shehady returned to the Township Committee and to his former role as mayor at Springfield's annual reorganization meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3. Committee member Jerry Fernandez was named Deputy Mayor at that meeting, and Jeffrey Lehrer, Township Attorney for 2010, was again named Township Attorney. While the meeting lacked the high profile of the 2010 reorganization where Shehady became the youngest mayor in New Jersey, State Assembly members Jon Bramnick and Nancy Munoz attended the post-swearing in celebration at Springfield restaurant Sofia's.
In his remarks, Shehady emphasized improved communications in government as well as several infrastructure improvements including flood mitigation, electric grid maintenance and the ongoing turf field project.
Fanwood Borough Hall was packed with residents and supporters as Mayor Colleen Mahr - who won the recent election with 70 percent of the vote - addressed her constituents. Mahr was sworn in by former Governor of New Jersey Brendan Byrne. Councilman Russell Huegel was also sworn in as was first time Councilman Kevin Boris.
Mahr predicted that Fanwood would continue to see economic growth, emphasizing the redevelopment of downtown Fanwood. Mahr also spoke out against outside critics stating that Fanwood is "on the right path and no one outside of town will tell us what to do." Mahr promised constituents that she would continue to push for merger of the Scotch Plains and Fanwood Police Departments and promote the use of shared services and fiscal responsibility.
In her reorganization address, Mayor Nancy Malool expressed her frustration with the lack of progression regarding shared services between Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Advocating for the study of a possible consolidation, Malool urged her “colleagues in Fanwood to put aside their political and personal interests and move forward” with a consolidation study.
The Scotch Plains Town Council will vote on a resolution to encourage Fanwood to participate in such a study at the Jan. 17 meeting. To learn more about that discussion, click here for the full report.
Let’s Talk Local Episode 3 featured Michelle Shapiro Abraham, co-founder of Scotch Plains and Fanwood’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Abraham gives viewers an inside look at this massive movement of local volunteers as Patch delves into what drives her passion for volunteering.
A resident of Cranford - one of the hardest-hit towns during Hurricane Irene - has been charged by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office with operating allegedly as an unregistered home improvement contractor, and trying to capitalize on the August disaster that flooded hundreds of township homes and left deperate homeowners in search of builders. Maria Somma, advertising her business as “Chester & Maria” of Cranford, was one of eight individuals criminally charged in a recent multi-agency, four-day undercover operation in Bergen County.
Most people know the basics of fire safety; stop, drop and roll and install fire alarms in their homes. In November, Cranford middle school students and their parents started to learn that there is much more they can do, when they began the fire prevention and safety program, “Fire is.” The New Jersey State Firefighter’s Mutual Benevolent Association started the program a year and a half ago in middle schools across New Jersey thanks to a grant from the NJ Department of Homeland Security. New Jersey is now the first state to have a fire prevention program in its educational system. “We’re trying to put New Jersey on the forefront," Lt. Andy Stratton of the Cranford Fire Department said.
New Providence Borough Council had its Reorganization Meeting Tuesday night. Mayor J. Brooke Hern administered the oath of office to incumbent Councilman Alan Lesnewich, incumbent Councilman Armand Galluccio and Dr. Bob Robinson as they were sworn into their elected offices.
After a year that included Hurricane Irene, an earthquake and an October snowstorm, Hern made a point to acknowledge and thank public employees and volunteers for their hard work in his annual message. Economically, Hern spoke of confidence that New Providence has weathered the storm, though the county and state may still be struggling. He also pointed out two, powerful tools given by voters to Borough Council to transform New Providence. First, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters approved a public question to expand the permitted use of the Open Space Trust Fund. Second, voters also gave overwhelming support to allow the sale of Liquor Consumption Licenses in New Providence. Hern said as the council moves carefully and prudently to regulate the types of businesses that can operate with these licenses, the bidding process will begin.
The Rescue Squad honored four members with the Life Saving Award and put out a call for more volunteers.
Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso gave his annual State of the Township address at Clark Council’s reorganization meeting on Monday. Now entering his 12th year as mayor, Bonaccorso stressed fiscal discipline and teamwork as the keys to Clark’s success. In his address, Bonaccorso also acknowledged the controversy surrounding the application to build 39 townhomes on the Miele’s Greenhouse property on Lake Avenue. “This past year signs appeared in the First Ward claiming that Clark is an overdeveloped community. I disagree,” said Bonaccorso. “Our master plan confirms that 1/3 of our township is open space. I believe the neighbors in the area of the Miele’s property have an issue with a proposed development of that property, and that is their right. And I respect that right. However, please folks, we understand what one project means to you – don’t cloud the rest of this community.”
Mayor Sal Bonaccorso swore in four new hires for the Clark Police Department and promoted two current officers to detective at Monday night's council meeting. Three other officers were also added to the department in September. Mayor Bonaccorso also stated that he hopes to promote Captain Al Scherb – the current Officer-in-Charge of the department since former Chief Denis Connell and the two captains below him retired – the chief of the department after Scherb passes his Captain's test. Bonaccorso previously had intended to hire a Director of Police.
Ellen Dickson Becomes New Mayor of Summit
Ellen K. Dickson officially assumed her role as mayor of Summit to a standing-room only council chamber on Tuesday night. She succeeded two-term mayor Jordan Glatt and returned the post to its Republican roots.
In her State of the City address, Dickson touched on social media, security, commercial development and openness of government in Summit. “As mayor I will focus on maintaining a strong sense of community by reaching out to all groups,” she said. She invited every citizens to get involved. “I truly do want to hear from all of you.”
First New Year's Baby at Overlook Medical Center
He was not meant to arrive until two weeks hence, but Jeremiah Sadeeq Williams expedited his arrival to 4:49 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Baby Jeremiah Sadeeq Williams was the first baby to be born at Overlook Medical Center in 2012.
“It’s exciting,” mother Taisha Edwin said. “We are surprised that he came on the first.”
2 Minors Injured in School Bus Accident
Three people were injured after a school bus they were on overturned on Route 24 Monday afternoon. The accident happened on the bridge over River Road in Summit. Emergency responders from Millburn, Summit and the Chathams, along with fire and police personnel responded to the scene.