The Week In Union County
Here's a look at some of the stories that made headlines throughout Union County for the week of Dec. 23 to 29.
Kara Alongi Investigation Ongoing, State Police Release Her 911 Call
There are still more questions than answers when it comes to Kara Alongi, the 16-year-old Arthur L. Johnson junior who tweeted "There is somone in my hour ecall 911" before leaving her home voluntarily on Sept 30. Alongi was found two days later when she called 911 from a rest stop near exit 1 on the Turpike. In that call (which Patch recently obtained from State Police), Alongi maintains she had been abducted, stating a black man forced her from her home. Clark Police are still investigating where Alongi went and why and have yet to close the case. Regardless of Alongi's claims, Clark Police Chief Alan Scherb says the department stands by its assertion that Alongi was not abducted.
Marine Sgt. Michael Brattole Honored at ALJ Hockey Alumni Game
On the ice again Wednesday night, Michael Brattole lifted his #28 jersey up proudly. Things for Brattole were much different in November of 2010, when the 22-year-old Marine was hit with a grenade that tore through his chest while he was leading a patrol in Afghanistan. After many surgeries, the shrapnel from the grenade was removed from his legs, heart and arms. At Warinanco Skate Rink in Roselle, Brattole and other players, spectators and Arthur L. Johnson high school alums gathered for the 20th annual Alumni hockey game. Brattole was honored as part of this year's event, and his #28 jersey officially retired.
Around 11 a.m. on Dec. 24, Clark Police and Volunteer Fire departments responded to a fire at Veteran's Memorial Park. The playground equipment at the Lupine Way park, better known as "the Pit," was fully ablaze. The fire department extinguished the fire and no one was injured. A suspicious fire previously destroyed the playground equipment at the Pit on July 4, 2011. The equipment had since been replaced before Monday's fire. Police Chief Alan Scherb encourages any residents with information on how the fire may have begun to contact the Clark Police Department at 732-388-3434.
The Cranford-based American Atheists group has never shied away from challenging religious symbols. The group's Times Square banner (see photos in this Huffington Post article) calls for millions to "Dump the Myth" about Jesus during the Christmas season. This week a smaller banner donated by the group to a resident of West Milford Township, in Passaic County, carrying a simiar message was reportedly vandalized.
At least one person was injured Thursday night in an accident involving two vehicles near an intersection inside the Cranford Business Park. The accident, reported around 6:30p.m. involved an SUV and another vehicle near Commerce Drive and Jackson Drive. A woman reported that her arm was injured in the accident. No other injuries were reported.
Looking back at the most read stories during 2012 on Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch. Readers used Patch as a source of information during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in both towns. The opening of Ponderosa Park in Scotch Plains was a summer favorite. The recent homicide/suicide of a mother and child in a Church Avenue fire was also among the top read stories for 2012.
Several residents have reported thefts out of their vehicles overnight. Criminal mischief and thefts continue to happen throughout the township, although scarce. The Scotch Plains Police Department also made several warrant arrests after pulling over drivers for motor vehicle violations.
Bigg Playdate in Scotch Plains Holds Indoor Farmer's Market
Bringing the traditional spring and summer idea of a farmer's market to Scotch Plains, Bigg owner Lisa Schiller has opened her doors to food and gift vendors this winter. Some of the vendors include, Paolo's Italian Kitchen, Gourmet Nuts and Dried Fruit, Dessert Lady, Krakos Polish Deli, Pickle Licious, Pappy’s Kettle Corn and more. The market is held at Bigg Playdate located at 1730 East Second Street at the corner of Willow Avenue. Hours are Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 8a.m. to 2p.m.
After debate from members of the public and officials, the Springfield township committee voted to have weekly garbage and recycling pickups. Residents were split on the proposal to reduce garbage pickup from a twice weekly to a weekly schedule. While some thought the change would be a painless way to encourage more recycling, others worried that less frequent garbage collection would cause smells and attract rodents, particularly in warmer months.
Alleging issues with absentee ballots, electronic voting and former residents voting illegally, Springfield Republicans have filed an official contest of election with Superior Court. Most of the alleged voting irregularities stem from the extraordinary circumstances caused by Tropical Storm Sandy. The party's attorney said that three mail-in ballots were not counted and that residents who attempted to vote electronically were not able to do so due to the technical problems with the county clerk’s office.
Springfield firefighters were able to quickly contain a car fire that spread to an attached garage and prevent serious injuries.
An improved insurance rating obtained by the Summit Fire Department could mean lower insurance premiums for some local businesses and homeowners. The Summit Fire Department has received a Level 2 rating by the Insurance Services Office through their Public Protections Classification.
Summit Patch took a look back at some of the city's top sports highlights.
Oak Knoll fifth-grader Andrew Pulver performed “Ave Maria” at Carnegie Hall in New York City earlier this month winning third place out of 10 finalists in the Audray Competition for Young Singers. Pulver, 11, was awarded a full scholarship at the Audray School for his performance in the Audray Competition. Pulver will study operetta/musical theatre every Saturday for an entire year at the Audray School in New York City at Lincoln Center
Resident Questions Source of Anonymous 'Secure Westfield' Letter
A Westfield resident contacted Patch about a letter emailed on Friday afternoon from a group identifying itself only as 'Parents of Westfield.' The email stated "Our intention is to develop a committee which will review the Emergency & Crisis Management plans that have been implemented for all Westfield schools."
Board of Education President Richard Mattessich said he does not know who is behind the letter but said, "A few people have sent this to me asking the same question. I can’t for the life of me understand why any group would undertake an anonymous security campaign. I know that both the Town and the BOE are happy to consider all suggestions. But we won’t be discussing security with an anonymous source."
Patch contacted the group but did not receive any response.
Picture This: Westfield Photographer Documents Day
A commercial featuring the 21-year-old communication studies major and the 23-year-old singer/songwriter has been airing since November but for Tebbetts the excitement began in September when a friend from Westfield suggested she enter the Internet-based contest.
Tebbetts looks forward to returning to Westfield this spring to pursue professional opportunities while completing her degree. She will be available for family and individual photo shoots while in town.
Westfield Patch also asked readers what improvements they'd like to see made in Westfield in 2013. Storm preparedness and pedestrian safety topped the list of things residents would like made better in the new year.
Former Union County Freeholder Chester Holmes, 81, passed away Friday, county officials announced. Holmes, a popular Rahway resident, served four terms as a member of the freeholder board. He was first elected to the board in 1997 and retired at the end of 2009 to devote more time to his private security business, Holmes Security and Investigations Inc.