Every week, Patch takes a look back at what made headlines around Union County. From the Verizon strike to Tea Party town hall meetings and the fourth guidance director to quit in four years in Westfield, see below for the region's biggest stories of the past week.
Hundreds of Cranford residents have now joined the fight to prevent construction of 360 residential units in a flood-prone area of Birchwood Avenue. At least two petitions being circulated for this purpose has gathered about 300 signatures thus far, and counting. One of the petitions, which was started by Mayor Daniel Aschenbach, opposes the construction that a judge two weeks ago. The other petition, which residents Andis Kalnins and Lisa Adubato Nesi began circulating on Saturday outside the Cranford Post Office, objects to builder's remedy lawsuits.
carried signs in front of the Verizon building on Orange Avenue Monday as they began a strike, saying they don't want anything new, they only want to retain the salary levels, benefits and vacation days they already have. Verizon says it is seeking health care givebacks to account for the changing face of the telecommunications industry as more consumers go wireless. But union officials say Verizon has plenty of money and are only attacking middle class jobs.
The is planning to begin the re-implementation of the Nixle Alert System. The Nixle Alert System allows the police department to send important community information directly to residents using technology such as email and texting. The Nixle Service also allows police to create and publish messages to be delivered to subscribed residents instantly via cellular phone text message and/or e-mail. Notifications can also be accessed online at Nixle’s web site.
Borough council between Summit, Chatham and Millburn to purchase and share a brine maker to help all four communities get through the frigid winter months. New Providence council members agreed the brine maker would save the borough a great deal of money on salt, having spent $80,000 on salt last winter, and would help alleviate the need for plow workers to work overtime if there is heavy snowfall. The purchase of the maker will cost each town $30,000.
Members of recently travelled to Tijuana, Mexico to build houses for the needy alongside Amor Ministries. Megan Crotty, of Summit, and Sam Duran, of Chatham, were two student leaders on the . Both agreed the best part of their time in Mexico was helping others in need. Because no power tools are involved, due to lack of electricity, children were welcome and eager to participate. The cost of the trip was $1,200 per student, of which half is paid for by a year's worth of fund-raising efforts. The entire trip costs close to a quarter of a million dollars, said Yet each year, that amount is always raised by those going on the trip.
New Providence detectives are investigating a at a local borough business that occurred Aug. 2. A business manager reported an unknown woman stole cosmetics and had previously shoplifted twice from the Livingston location. Anyone with information or who may be able to identify this suspect is asked to contact the detective bureau at 908-665-1111.
Fresh off a bipartisan agreement on the debt crisis, U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon County) spoke at a town hall-style meeting at the on Wednesday night before an often raucous crowd of political activists from across central New Jersey. Billed as a Tea Party Town Hall hosted by the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Tea Party, half of the gathering of about 100 people was also comprised of liberal activist group MoveOn.org's members and supporters. The Tea Party and MoveOn.org are often at philosophical odds on ways to handle political issues in as much as they are reflective of the Republican and Democratic parties to which they align themselves. With members from both the Tea Party and MoveOn.org sandwiched into a single, hot room, the event often proved contentious, marked by regular interruptions as attendees asked questions and Lance attempted to answer.
replacing the Provident Bank that moved to Raritan Road. The 7-Eleven, located at the corner of Westfield Avenue and Lincoln Boulevard, will open in the existing structure, with an addition built on the Lincoln Boulevard side of the building.
Prior to joining the Clark School District, Allmendinger worked in the capacity of kindergarten, second grade, third grade, and special education teacher. For the past nine years, she has been employed by the Morris Plains School District.
Council approved a resolution to jointly purchase a brine machine to help combat snow removal costs. The brine machine would be housed at the Summit Department of Public Works depot and other New Providence, Chatham and Millburn will store and spread the brine at their own facilities and with their own equipment. Superintendent of Public Works Paul Cascais says some have estimated brine could save 25 percent on snow removal costs over three years.
The town council meeting in Berkeley Heights had residents quite concerned on Tuesday night, as residents turned out to challenge the council on budget expenditures and what they perceived was a lack of fiscal responsibility.
The residents' frustration had apparently been brewing since the issuance of the latest tax bill, which amounted to an 8 percent overall annual increase, or nearly $1,000.
Through their collective comments, about 15 residents said that the council had not done enough to find ways to cut costs that could have potentially hastened as much of a tax increase.
The resident was referring to a two-page outline featuring major budget sections and their year-on-year increases that the council put together in anticipation of resident uproar.
"I did hear of scathing comments from the administration office because people have been coming in," said council president Kevin Hall, who was running the meeting for an absent Mayor Joe Bruno. "As soon as we were aware that there was heightened sensitivity, business administrator Amey Upchurch got together with Rachele SanFilippo and Elaine (Perna) to get ready to talk about it. Everyone is justified to be alarmed when they get a big tax bill. It's our responsibility as a council to discuss it openly."
Budget line item sections included tax increases related to county specific, county open space, school, library and municipal. When the collective increases were totaled, the budget reflected an 8 percent tax increase, or $10,931.20 on the average assessed home in 2011, up from $10,116.85 in 2010, a difference of $814.00 per household.
Hall told the residents that they were always invited to participate in the budget hearings. The budget hearings that led to the current increases were conducted in January, February and March of this year.
It was unclear if any of the residents who showed up to complain had been a part of those meetings, but many asked for specific line item clarification of the budget section increases, which would have been discussed in budget meetings.
Hall explained that the municipality did not have control over many of the "fixed" costs that comprise a municipal budget, which include pensions, insurance, debt service and the library.
The budget areas that it does control, he said, are wages and operating expenses, which were within the 2 percent cap mandated by Governor Chris Christie. "We did not violate the 2 percent cap," Hall said.
The residents remained unhappy with the explanations that they were provided.
Richard Charwin has become the. Charwin announced he will accept a post running pupil personnel services for Hunterdon Central Regional High School. The Board of Education had said in 2010 that Charwin would be in Westfield for "the long haul."
Westfield Police announced that has been arrested in connection with a series of graffiti incidents around the community in recent months. The town is also offering a for information leading to the arrest and capture of those committing graffiti.
Downtown Westfield Corporation officials disclosed that this summer's pizza race brought in with the final bills due to be tallied soon.
With this week’s swearing in of John Cook, Springfield’s police department has a . The appointment ends years of uncertainty for the force following the divisive reign of unpopular chief William Chisholm and a power vacuum in the force that saw the Union County Prosecutor’s office assume responsibility for the force. Cook is a .
Also this week, ‘60s pop star Gary Lewis and the Playboys stormed Springfield with his Playboys for a free show at Jonathan Dayton High School. Patch was on hand to catch and .