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Union County to Hold First Portuguese Flag Raising in County History on May 30

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that for the first time, the County will raise the Portuguese Flag in commemoration of the Day of Portugal, Camões and the Communities. The event will take place on Thursday, May 30 at 6:30pm in front of the Union County Court House, located at 2 Broad Street in Elizabeth. The event is free and all residents are invited to attend.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States (PALCUS). PALCUS is a national non-profit based in the Washington D.C. area with a defined mission to be the national voice that advocates for and promotes the advancement of the Portuguese-American community economically, professionally, culturally and politically.

“Union County is home to over 18,000 Portuguese-Americans,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “The Freeholder Board is proud to acknowledge the contributions of this very active and hard-working community to our county over the years, by flying the Portuguese Flag over the County Seat for the first time.”

The Portuguese-American Community will be celebrating what has come to be known as “Portugal Day” throughout the month of June with various celebrations in several municipalities. Festivities include parades, outdoor festivals with food and ethnic dance, bike tours, golf tournaments and fishing derbies.

“Our County is made stronger by its diversity and inclusion. I invite all residents from the County of Union to participate in, and support this first ever Union County Portuguese Flag Raising,” said Freeholder Sergio Granados.  “As a Freeholder of Portuguese descent, I am especially proud of the accomplishments of the Portuguese-American community across the country and especially within Union County. This flag raising brings together the Portuguese Community across the County to showcase our pride and unity.”

The flag-raising will include ethnic dance, and the singing of both “The Star Spangled Banner” as well as “A Portuguesa,” the national anthem of Portugal.

“PALCUS is grateful to have been given the opportunity to co-sponsor the first Portuguese Flag raising in Union County,” said PALCUS Vice-Chair Katherine Soares. “We strive to give a voice to the 1.34 million Portuguese-Americans in the United States. Events such as these are yet another form of allowing them to be heard.”

For more information, please contact Katherine Soares from the Union County Office of Communications and Public Information at katherine.soares@ucnj.org.

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Union County Awards 13 History Grants Totaling $24,000

Merchants & Drovers Tavern – Rahway, NJ

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Union County History Grant Program. These grants are made possible through funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission. Funds are then awarded locally, to historical groups by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs through the Re-Grant Program.

“The Union County History Grant Program is an excellent opportunity to obtain funding that assists County historical groups with operating expenses and other costs,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “The Freeholder Board is proud to afford community groups the opportunity to better position themselves and their projects for continued success.”

The 2019 Union County History Grant Program Awardees are:

  • Cranford Historical Society $2,200, for General Operating Support.
  • duCret School of Art: $1,000, historical preservation of donations to be cleaned, catalogued and displayed.
  • Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Frazee House, Inc.: $2,500, for design, development and production of marketing materials.
  • Historic Midtown Elizabeth SID: $750, annual historic American Revolutionary War reenactment held during Four Centuries in a Weekend.
  • Historical Society of Plainfield: $3,500, for General Operating Support.
  • Historical Society of Elizabeth: $3,000, for General Operating Support.
  • Linden Public Library: $1750, phase 2 of the digitization of Linden’s historic newspapers.
  • Merchants & Drovers Tavern Museum Association: $2,000, for General Operating Support.
  • Reeves-Reed Arboretum: $2,300, third year in a series of the Time Capsule Garden, featuring the year 1925.
  • Springfield Free Public Library: $1,000, continuation of cataloging and accessioning of the collection in the library museum.
  • Springfield Historical Society: $1,000, for General Operating Support.
  • Union Township Historical Society: $2,000, for partial restoration and conservation of four historic documents.
  • Visual Arts Center of New Jersey: $1,000, for continuation of Exhibitions Archives Project.

The two types of grants available through the History Re-Grant Program are:

  • General Operating Support grants: These grants provide assistance for the basic costs of operation, including but not limited to programming, preservation of collections, salaries and marketing. These grants are for Union County based historical societies, house museums or historic sites only. The maximum grant request is $5000.00.
  • Special Project grants: These grants support history organizations, museums, schools, libraries and similar organizations with collections or programming relating to Union County and New Jersey state history. The maximum grant request is $3500.00.

For more information on the Union County History Grant receive more information, call the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 908-436-2912 or email John Prescott, jprescott@ucnj.org.

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Union County Freeholders Offer Free Measles Vaccinations for Children

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders informs residents that children who are at least 12 months old and under age 19 and who are Medicaid eligible, uninsured or underinsured are eligible to receive free vaccines to prevent measles. This free service is available at the County’s Immunization Clinic operated by the Union County Department of Human Services, Division of Social Services.

“Recently, over a dozen new cases of measles have been reported in our area,” stated Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “The Freeholder Board takes this outbreak very seriously and we want to make residents aware that there are resources available to prevent the spread of measles. Vaccination measures in turn, help to protect all our children and residents.”

In 2000, measles was considered eliminated in the United States.  According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2019 has the second highest number of measles cases in the United States in 25 years. Complications include pneumonia, ear infections, swelling on the brain, and negative impacts on pregnancy. The safe and effective MMR shot (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, also known as German or three-day measles) is the best way to protect against infection.

Measles, a virus that become airborne when an infected person coughs or sneezes, can live in the air and on exposed surfaces for up to two hours.  Measles in considered highly contagious with 90% of those who are unvaccinated contracting the disease when exposed.

The CDC continues to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated on schedule with the MMR vaccine. People 6 months and older should be protected with the vaccine, especially before leaving on international trips.

Union County’s Immunization Clinic, in operation since 1995, is part of the federal Center for Disease Control’s VFC (Vaccines For Children) program and is part of each state’s Medicaid plan. The clinic offers a series of vaccines suggested by the CDC as well as required vaccines for public school admission. Appointments are required and residents may call 908-965-3627 or 908-965-3868 to schedule. The county’s clinic is located at 40 Parker Road, Elizabeth, and is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For additional information and resources on measles please visit the New Jersey Department of Health’s measles website (https://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/topics/measles.shtml), the NPHIC (https://www.nphic.org/members-area/measles-resources/#20190416-nh)  or CDC’s measles website (https://www.cdc.gov/measles/index.html).

For personal assistance with any service provided by the Union County Department of Human Services, call the UCDHS Action Line at 888-845-3434 or 908-558-2288.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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Save the Dates for Union County’s 59th Annual Summer Arts Outdoor Music Festival and Rhythm & Blues by the Brook

UPDATE: DUE TO SATURATED CONDITIONS AT ECHO LAKE PARK, THE JUNE 21 PERFORMANCE OF THE NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA HAS BEEN MOVED TO THE SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD HIGH SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, at 667 WESTFIELD ROAD IN SCOTCH PLAINS. THE CONCERT BEGINS AT 7:30 PM AND IS FREE OF CHARGE. NO RESERVATIONS NECESSARY.

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that the acclaimed New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, conducted by José Luis Domínguez, will lead off Union County’s 59th annual Summer Arts Festival series of free outdoor entertainment sponsored by the Freeholder Board, with a performance on Friday June 21 at 7:30 p.m., at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

Concertgoers will be treated to a musical tour of the Americas with works by Leonard Bernstein, José Pablo Moncayo, Astor Piazzolla, Florence Price, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. Rounding out the program are Arturo Márquez’s Conga del Fuego Nuevo, Aaron Copland’s classic “Hoe Down” from Rodeo, hits from West Side Story and Porgy and Bess, and more.

“Outdoor concerts are a beloved Union County tradition,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “We look forward to another eventful summer, and NJSO’s choice of popular hits from the heritage of the Americas is a reminder of the cultural ties we enjoy sharing with family, friends and neighbors.”

Attendees are also invited to bring a mat or beach towel and join in a free Union County Get Fit Yoga program beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Union County’s free summer entertainment schedule begins this year on Saturday, June 1 with the annual Rhythm and Blues by the Brook festival, an afternoon of nonstop music and family fun at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield from noon to 6:00 p.m.

The Union County Summer Arts Festival series with Get Fit Yoga will be held at Echo Lake Park on Wednesday nights, July 10, 17, 24, and 31.

In August the series moves to Oak Ridge Park in Clark on Wednesday nights, August 7, 14, 21, and 28.

All Summer Arts shows begin at 7:30 p.m. and include free Union County Get Fit Yoga programs beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Artists for Rhythm and Blues by the Book and the Summer Arts series will be announced shortly.

For more details on the Summer Arts series, the Family Flix free outdoor movie series, and more summer activities in Union County Parks visit ucnj.org/calendar or call the Parks Department at 908-527-4900.

For more information about the New Jersey Symphony orchestra visit njsymphony.org.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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Distracted Driving Enforcement and Education Campaign UDrive. UText. UPay. To Be Carried Out In Union County April 1 – April 21, 2019

Union County, NJ – The Union County Police Department is cracking down on distracted drivers during April as part of the new statewide UDrive. UText. UPay. campaign.

“Distracted driving is the cause of thousands of motor vehicle accidents and deaths nationwide. The statewide UDrive. UText. UPay. campaign should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks they are immune from the life-and-death consequences of driving while texting,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

Driver inattention was listed as a contributing circumstance in 52 percent of automobile accidents in New Jersey during 2015. It was a contributing factor in crashes at a rate nine times higher than the next highest contributing factor, speed.

The Union County Police Department is participating in UDrive. UText. UPay. through a Special Traffic Enforcement Program grant from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Beginning April 1 and running through April 21, the high visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who use hand held phones, send text messages while driving, and engage in other dangerous distracted driving behaviors.

The National Safety Council has designated the month of April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The New Jersey campaign is modeled after similar successful high visibility enforcement programs such as Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.                    

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Freeholder Board Presents “Home is a Human Right: 6 Stories of Immigration”

Union County, NJ – Union County residents and visitors are invited to attend a free screening of the documentary Home is a Human Right: 6 Stories of Immigration on Tuesday April 23 at 7:00 p.m., at the North Avenue Academic Building of Kean University, 1075 Morris Avenue in Union Township. The free event is presented by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Office of Community Engagement and Diversity in partnership with the YWCA of Union County through its Stand Against Racism campaign (https://standagainstracism.org/).

Agencies that offer services in support of undocumented refugees and immigrants will also be on-site before and after the screening to offer resources and guidance.

Home is a Human Right focuses a sharp lens on the threats that refugees and immigrants face in their home countries and here in the U.S.,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “It also provides informed, effective guidance for people who want to take action in support of human rights and protection for undocumented neighbors in our community.”

Home is a Human Right is seeks to highlight the human story of immigrants pursuing better lives in the middle of conflict by exploring the growing complexities of immigration in the United States. The series touches upon topics like DACA, refugees, sanctuary cities, medical care for undocumented immigrants and the plight of immigrant students. Details on the 6 short films can be found at https://www.bravenewfilms.org/home_is_human.

Stand Against Racism is a signature campaign of YWCA USA to build community among those who work for racial justice and raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in America. The screening of Home is a Human Right supports the 2019 Stand Against Racism campaign theme, “Immigrant Justice: No Hate. No Fear.”

The movie screening will be followed by two speakers and a discussion. The featured speakers are:

  • Victor Salama – Executive Director of First Friends of NJ & NY
  • Sara Cullinane, Esq. – State Director of Make the Road NJ

The event is co-sponsored by Community Access Unlimited, Union County Interfaith Coordinating Council, Family Promise Union County, The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, and St. Joseph Social Service Center

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Nathalie Hernandez, Coordinator, Union County Office of Community Engagement & Diversity by email at nahernandez@ucnj.org or by phone at 908-527-4880.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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Union County Remembers Virginia Apgar for Women’s History Month

Union County, NJ – In recognition of Women’s History Month, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is proud to sponsor “Virginia Apgar, Newborn Babies and the March of Dimes” at the Westfield Memorial Library on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 7:00 pm. David Rose, the National Archivist of the March of Dimes, will be the presenter at this free event.

“Dr. Apgar was a pioneer in her field, and her findings and work are still used by physicians today when welcoming a newborn into the world. She provides us with a powerful reminder of the impact that women have on our quality of life, through their contributions to science and medicine,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski.

Born in Westfield, NJ, Virginia Apgar was an anesthesiologist. She was best known for creating the Apgar Score, a clinical system for evaluating the physical condition of newborns at birth by measuring their pulse, skin color, reflex, muscle tone and respiration to determine medical needs.

Dr. Apgar assisted in the delivery of over 17,000 infants and was the first woman to hold a full professorship at Columbia University. At the March of Dimes, she directed programs of research in the causes, prevention, and treatment of birth defects.

The presentation by David Rose celebrates Women’s History Month and will focus on the life of Dr. Apgar and her lifelong quest to improve the health of babies.

The 2019 Women’s History Month Celebration is sponsored by the Freeholder Board through the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs in the Department of Parks and Recreation, and is funded in part by a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a Division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State.

For more information on all Cultural and Heritage programs visit ucnj.org, email jprescott@ucnj.org or call 908-436-2912.

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Union County Celebrates Arbor Day with Poetry Contest for County Students

Union County, NJ – In recognition of Arbor Day 2019, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is once again partnering with the Shade Tree Advisory Board to sponsor the 2019 Union County Arbor Day Poetry Contest.

“The Freeholder Board is proud of our teachers and students who participate in Arbor Day, a national celebration of stewardship,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “Trees are a key resource in our densely developed area and we take the preservation of this community asset very seriously. We are pleased to once again support this annual poetry contest as part of Union County’s Green Initiatives for 2019.”

The contest offers students of Union County, currently enrolled in grades 4 through 8, an opportunity to obtain a greater understanding of Arbor Day by allowing them to portray the importance of trees to our natural environment and man-made landscapes, by focusing on the benefits, beauty, and contributions of trees to our communities.

All poems received will be categorized by grade and judged.  One winner will be chosen for first, second, and third place at each grade level.  The winners will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at the Union County Administration Building in Elizabeth at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, 2019.  At the ceremony the students will be publicly recognized by Union County and presented with a monetary reward and a certificate. 

Schools interested in participating in the contest, should return completed student entry forms and poems no later than March 1, 2019. Any poem received after March 1, 2019 will not be accepted.

“Studies have shown that trees improve property values and provide many other civic benefits,” said Freeholder Andrea Staten. “We are happy to sponsor this opportunity for county students to become involved in environmental efforts while also promoting their creativity.”

Arbor Day has been a national observance since 1872, encouraging the public to plant and care for trees. This year it will be celebrated on Friday, April 26.

For further information regarding this contest please contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, Chairman of the Union County Shade Tree Advisory Board, James Nichnadowicz at (908) 654-9854 or email Jnichnadowicz@ucnj.org.

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27th Annual Union County Women of Excellence Awardees Announced

Union County, NJ – The Union County Commission on the Status of Women is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Women of Excellence Awards. Eleven Union County women were cited for their outstanding contributions at the January 24th meeting of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

“For 27 years, the Freeholder Board has recognized women among us who lead, serve, and inspire. Today it is more important than ever to raise awareness about the influence of women in every sphere of the Union County community, from business and legal affairs to public service and education,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “These awards recognize the contributions made by women who make a positive difference in the quality of life for everyone in the County.”

The Union County women being recognized for their accomplishments by the Commission on the Status of Women are:

Amy Cairns of Summit, Government Service

Antonietta LaVecchia of Summit, Business/Community Activist

Clea Carchia of Rahway, Arts/Graphic Design

Dawn McDonald of Scotch Plains, Education

Dr. Julia Grimes of Westfield, Medicine/Health & Wellness

Iliana Chevres of Elizabeth, Special Needs Advocacy

Kay Coats Macrae of Springfield, Theater Arts

Marlene Olson Hamm of Rahway, Environmental Advocacy

Mary Zimmermann of Summit, Lifetime Achievement

Michele Dabal of New Providence, Humanitarian Activities

Sandra Jackson of Linden, Youth Advocacy

The awardees will be honored at the annual Women of Excellence Gala Awards Dinner, to be held on March 29, 2019 at the Gran Centurions in Clark.

Each awardee will be presented with an engraved Women of Excellence plaque and a Freeholder Resolution in their honor recognizing their impact on the Union County community.

The Women of Excellence awards are sponsored by the Freeholder Board and the Union County Commission on the Status of Women, with the Union County Office on Women. 

For any questions or to get more information about the Women of Excellence awards program, contact Elizabeth Sebring, Union County Department of Human Services, at 908-527-4890 or esebring@ucnj.org or Jen Erdos, Secretary to the Commission on the Status of Women, at 908-527-4216 or jerdos@ucnj.org.

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Volunteers Are Needed for March 14-15 For Union County Teen Arts Festival

Union County, NJ – The Union County Teen Arts Festival is looking for volunteers who enjoy working with middle and high school students in and an exciting and dynamic setting.

“The Teen Arts Festival is a high-energy event that showcases the creativity of thousands of our local students. We depend on the public to volunteer and help foster their talents through a variety of artistic disciplines,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “Whether you are an amateur or professional artist, or simply enjoy working with young people, volunteering at Teen Arts is a great way to help encourage youth through the arts.”

The Union County Teen Arts Festival is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, March 14 and March 15. The festival is sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs in the Department of Parks and Recreation.

For over 30 years, the Union County Teen Arts Festival has provided a high-visibility forum for the artistic talents of County students. With nearly 3,50

0 participants, the event offers performances, critiquing seminars, master classes and workshops with a staff of 55 professional artists in every discipline – visual art, music, creative writing, theater and dance, the festival is a great experience for participants as well as volunteers.

Volunteers are needed to assist artists with workshops, manage performance sites and staff information stations. Volunteers must be over 18 and not currently enrolled in high school.

The two-day festival is held annually at Union County College in Cranford. The event is open to all students from public, charter, private and parochial middle and high schools in Union County.

For more information about the Union County Teen Arts Festival or to sign up as a volunteer, contact the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs at 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey 07202. Telephone: 908-558-2550; NJ Relay Users call 711. Or e-mail us at: culturalinfo@ucnj.org.

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For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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