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Mirabella becomes Vice Chairman;
Sheriff Froehlich and Three Freeholders Begin New Terms

ELIZABETH, NJ---Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada announced a series of initiatives focusing on environmentally friendly “green” programs, economic development, a community alert service, and youth services after being sworn in to lead the Union County governing body in 2008 at the 151st annual reorganization meeting at the Union County Courthouse.

Estrada, of Elizabeth, is serving his third three-year term on the Board of Chosen Freeholders. He served as Vice Chairman in 2007, and was Chairman in 2004.

Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, of Fanwood, was chosen as vice chairman. Those sworn in were: Sheriff Ralph Froehlich (serving a record 11th term), and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski (serving a second full term), of Cranford; Daniel Sullivan (serving a fifth term), of Elizabeth; and Rayland Van Blake (elected to a first term), of Plainfield.

Members also voted to fill numerous positions on county advisory boards and to adopt the board’s 2008 schedule and procedural rules.

Chairman Estrada announced five initiatives for 2008, including a multi-part green initiative and added a sub-announcement regarding the Kids Recreation Trust Fund, which will be once again offered this New Year.

One of Chairman Estrada’s primary initiatives is dubbed “GO GREEN,” a sweeping set of environmental improvements at the County level.

“As an experienced provider of environmental programs such as open space and the Rutgers Cooperative Extension program, Union County is well- positioned to be a leader and center for information on Green initiatives,” Estrada said. “The scientific consensus on global warming is driving a powerful new wave of environmental programs and emerging green technology. This year as Chairman, I am pleased to announce that Union County will join the growing effort to keep America green—we will GO GREEN.”

Estrada’s five 2008 Freeholder initiatives are:

  1. GO GREEN, which includes six components:
    1. The County is working to make new construction and renovations conform to the highest green standards in five areas: sustainable development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
    2. The School Chemical Reduction program. The County’s Hazmat Bureau will visit each school, remove and transport any old, outdated, rarely used chemicals to ensure the safety of children and school employees.
    3. Environmental grants for schools. This will encourage students and classes to submit proposals for ideas such as composting, recycling and planting gardens.
    4. Outreach. Through a variety of resources, including the County’s Public Information van, its website, publications and more, the County will reach out and spread news to its residents about green initiatives.
    5. The County will offer recycling bins to schools.
    6. The County will purchase more recycled paper for everyday use.
      The print shop will have recycled paper as an option.
  2. Implementation of the third phase of the Workforce Competitiveness project. The County will create focus groups to identify what industries are growing, and where it needs to put money and resources to realize economic growth and employment.
  3. The Union County First Alert Service. The County will work to set up a service that can contact residents by phone, text message, blackberry and email about emergencies, special events, traffic issues and more. The program will be offered as an opt-in service to residents and municipalities.
  4. Youth One Stop. The County will create a one stop center that offers job training, education, health and social services for youth. The first will open in Plainfield, and a second one is scheduled for later in Elizabeth.
  5. Union County Schoolyards Initiative. This will be an Open Space trust fund grant program for the design and construction of outdoor classrooms to provide hands-on learning environments.

In addition to the new initiatives, Estrada announced the Kids Recreation Trust fund would once again be made available to the municipalities. The program, which, is funded through the Open Space trust fund, provide matching dollars to municipalities interested in creating or improving playgrounds in their town, recreation equipment and athletic scholarships.

“In closing, I look forward to joining once again with the many fine employees in our County family in implementing our new initiatives,” Estrada said. “We set our goals high, and it is time now to start the effort needed to achieve them.”

“I am reminded of something the famous basketball star, Michael Jordan, once said: ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.’ Our Freeholder team and County family is looking forward to yet another great year,” Estrada said in conclusion.