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FEDERAL STIMULUS PROGRAM PUMPS $23 MILLION INTO UNION COUNTY ECONOMY, CREATES JOBS AND IMPROVES INFRASTRUCTURE

Union County, NJ – New federal grants totaling $23 million have poured into Union County this year, creating new jobs and enabling the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders to approve more roadway resurfacing projects and other vital infrastructure upgrades, along with other programs.  The new funds come from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“Union County’s transportation infrastructure supports a global hub that provides a vital economic pathway for New Jersey and the nation. It is hard to imagine a scenario under which the system could keep going with our local revenues alone,” said Union County Freeholder Daniel P. Sullivan. “The work we have been able to do through ARRA clearly demonstrates the value of putting federal tax dollars to work on projects that serve the public welfare.”

In all, Union County has received $23 million in ARRA funding for infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements, public safety programs, and human services including meals for seniors, job training, foreclosure guidance and housing assistance. Of the total, $11.3 million is available for road resurfacing and improvements to key intersections.

Union County has just completed the road resurfacing projects funded by ARRA. They add up to 12 miles of new surface including sections of:

* Lamberts Mill Road and Martine Avenue in Scotch Plains
* East Hazelwood Avenue, West Inman Avenue and Woodbridge Road in Rahway
* Bonnie Burn Road in Watchung
* Mountain Avenue and Constantine Avenue in Summit
* Kenilworth Boulevard in Kenilworth
* Stiles Street in Linden
* Salem Road in Union
* Galloping Hill Road in Elizabeth
* Plainfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights
* Mountainside Avenue in Mountainside
* Springfield Avenue and Mountainside Avenue in Springfield
* Springfield Avenue in Westfield

ARRA funding for upgraded intersections will be used to install new signals, road markings and signage for improved traffic flow and pedestrian safety. The new signals use high efficiency LED technology that reduces energy costs. Where needed, the work also involves upgrading curb cuts and other features to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many of the projects are located in Elizabeth.

“If you look at a map of Union County, you will see that many County roads converge on Elizabeth, along with major bus routes and rail lines,” said Sullivan. “By upgrading key intersections there, we make life easier and safer for everyone, whether you drive a passenger or commercial vehicle, use mass transit, walk, or ride a bike.”

The intersection improvements include:

Hillside

* North Broad Street and King Street

Elizabeth

* North Broad Street and at Lower Road
* Summer Street, South Street and South Broad Street
* Pearl Street at Washington Avenue
* West Jersey Street, West Grand Street, Orchard Street and Chilton Street
* Orchard Street and Cherry Street
* North Broad Street at Wilder Street
* West Grand Street at Grove Street
* Maggie Avenue at Monmouth Avenue

Plainfield (Park Avenue Corridor)

* 8th Street, 9th Street, Randolph Road, Thornton Avenue and South End/Parkway Drive

Cranford

* Orange Avenue, Union Avenue and Springfield Avenue

Scotch Plains (Terrill Road Corridor)

* Terrill Road and Raritan Road, East Front Street, East Second Street, East Third Street/Midway Avenue, South Avenue, East Seventh Street/LaGrande Avenue, and Cooper Road
* Raritan Road and Martine Avenue

Sullivan noted that the Terrill Road Corridor intersections will be upgraded to include a dedicated left turn lane and improved sightlines, which is expected to reduce traffic accidents on the roadway.

In addition to ARRA-funded projects, Union County has also just embarked on another round of road resurfacing projects funded through the County budget, totaling 12 miles on the following roads:

* Summit Avenue in Summit
* South Springfield Avenue and Mountain Avenue in Springfield
* Mountain Avenue in Westfield
* Green Brook road in Plainfield
* West Chestnut Street and Morris Avenue in Union
* Terrill Road in Scotch Plains
* Brant Avenue, Oak Ridge Road and Valley Road in Clark
* North Street and Orchard Street in Elizabeth
* Warinanco Park Road in Roselle
* West Milton Avenue and New Brunswick Avenue in Rahway

“It bears repeating that these are vital infrastructure projects that help improve road safety in Union County, while upgrading the efficiency of our transportation system,” said Sullivan. “In addition, every time we put a shovel in a ground that means more people are going to work in Union County.”

Union County also received ARRA funding for energy efficiency improvements in County buildings, totaling $2.8 million. These projects are designed to cut utility costs in addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  They include digital control systems that provide temperature resets as well as the installation of programmable thermostats, high efficiency air conditioning units, and high efficiency condensing boilers.

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COUNTY OF UNION HOLDS SECOND ANNUAL COLUMBUS DAY FLAG RAISING EVENT

Friday , October 8th, 1:30 p.m.
at steps of County Courthouse

Speakers include former Governor Don DiFrancesco,
UNICO National President Chris DiMattio, Freeholder Chairman Dan Sullivan
and County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi among others

Elizabeth, NJ-Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan today announced the County’s second Annual Columbus Day Flag Raising event set for Friday, October 8th, at 1:30 p.m. on the steps of the historic Union County Courthouse.

The event features speeches from former New Jersey Acting Governor and former State Senator Don DiFrancesco, who helped create the New Jersey Italian and Italian-American Heritage Commission, Michael Genevrino, Director of the New Jersey Italian American Heritage Commission, Dr. Thomas Bistocchi, Superintendent of the Union County Vocational Technical Schools system and Carmen Centuolo, Union County Schools Superintendent. Others expected to participate include Andrea Barbaria, the Consulate of Italy in Newark, and UNICO National President Chris DiMattio, and Andre’ DiMino, UNICO Past National President and current Italian American One Voice Coalition President.

Freeholder Sullivan will host and emcee the event, and Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi will also participate. Freeholder Alexander Mirabella is expected to attend and participate in ceremonies.

The Courthouse is located at 2 Broad Street in Elizabeth at the corner of Rahway Avenue. In the event of rain, the program will be moved in doors to the County Courthouse Rotunda.

“Italians and Italian-Americans continue to make extraordinary contributions to every facet of American life,” said Sullivan, who is of Italian and Irish descent. “Their influence is not only felt on a national level but on a global level, as Italians continue to distinguish themselves in so many fields. It’s also a day to mark the contributions of our Italian ancestors who helped to discover and build this Country.”

UNICO District X, through the efforts of its Governor William Hearon and Deputy District Governor Robert Bengivenga, worked with Plainfields’ UNICO President Anthony Bengivenga and Renato Biribin, a past National President of UNICO, to co-host the flag raising.

Italian-style refreshments will be served after the event in the recently restored rotunda of the historic Union County Courthouse.

Parking (pay) is available in the Midtown area at Elizabeth’s Parking Deck #6 on Jefferson Avenue and Dickinson Street-the entrance is on Dickinson Street. A second deck is also close by at the Midtown Train Station entrance on W. Grand Street. The entrance to the train station. All visitors are urged to arrive early due to road construction projects ongoing in the area.
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Harvestfest Build a Scarecrow Contest Winners

Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan (R) and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski (L) and Mohamed Jalloh join Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi in congratulating Christina Chen of Scotch Plains on winning the most creative category in the “Build a Scarecrow” contest at the 29th annual Union County Harvest Festival at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The event was hosted by Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks & Community Renewal. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

 

Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan (R) and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski (L) and Mohamed Jalloh join Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi in congratulating Marazul, Marleni and Pablo Chavana of Hillside on winning in the best dressed category in the “Build a Scarecrow” contest at the 29th annual Union County Harvest Festival at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The event was hosted by Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks & Community Renewal. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan (R) and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski (L) and Mohamed Jalloh join Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi in congratulating Aleida, Yamileth and Natalie Quijano of Elizabeth on winning in the classic category in the “Build a Scarecrow” contest at the 29th annual Union County Harvest Festival at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The event was hosted by Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks & Community Renewal. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

Union County Freeholder Chairman Daniel Sullivan (2nd R) and Freeholders Bette Jane Kowalski (L) and Mohamed Jalloh (3rd L) join Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (2nd L) in congratulating Mark, Anne, Bernadette, Mark and Jude Yamakaitis of Clark on winning in the classic category in the “Build a Scarecrow” contest at the 29th annual Union County Harvest Festival at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The event was hosted by Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks & Community Renewal. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

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Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Recognition Luncheon, Honoring Seniors

Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski (R) congratulates senior citizen volunteers (from left) Elizabeth Royster of East Orange, Paul Centonze of Roselle Park, June Atkins of Plainfield and Rosalind Turner of Plainfield as they are honored for their outstanding service throughout Union County at the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Recognition Luncheon on September 24 in Mountainside. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

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Union County Offers a Helping Hand with Medical Costs

by Bette Jane Kowalski
Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

September 2010

A new resource is available for Union County residents who are struggling with the high cost of health care. It’s called the Union County Wellness Program. It can help you save money on prescription drugs, along with other health care savings.

The main feature of the Wellness Program is a discount plan that helps to lower the cost of prescription drugs. It’s ideal for Union County residents who have no insurance coverage, including students and the self-employed. If you have an insurance policy that provides drug coverage, the Wellness Program can help close gaps and reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

The Freeholder Board started the Wellness Program after hearing of its success in Bergen County. When we learned the details of the plan, we knew it was a good choice. There are no restrictions, and the program is open to all Union County residents regardless of age, pre-existing conditions, or other factors.

The Wellness Program discounts can range from 10 percent to 50 percent, for an average of about 30 percent. On some medications, the savings can be as high as 75 percent.

The Wellness Program is free and easy to use. It is not an insurance policy. It is simply a discount plan supported by participating medical companies, so there are no forms, fees, or hidden costs. A membership card is provided free of charge. When you purchase your prescription drugs, your pharmacist or cashier scans your card and searches a database for the best available discounts.

You can download free membership cards and get more information by visiting the County website at www.ucnj.org/wellnessdiscount. Discounts are also available for hearing aids, vision care, dental care, diabetes supplies, and certain pet medications.

If you don’t have Internet access, you can leave a voice message with your name and address at the Union County Wellness Program hotline, 908-527-4750, and we will mail a free card and brochure to you.

The Wellness Program is a step in the right direction. We also expect Union County residents to benefit from President Obama’s new health care reforms. Independent analysis has confirmed that the new reforms help to reduce the federal budget deficit while making affordable insurance available to more households. They also help small businesses with new tax credits, they provide important new consumer protections against arbitrary denial of coverage, and they prevent insurers from dropping you when you get sick.

There is still work to be done, but step by step we are progressing toward a more efficient, reasonable and fair health care system that will benefit Union County residents.

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Autumn Hay Rides & Family Fun around the Campfire Are Popular at Trailside Nature & Science Center

Marc Muller leads the sing-alongs as marshmallows are toasted by the fire

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Autumn evenings are a time for hay rides and family fun around the campfire at Trailside Nature & Science Center in Mountainside. Sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the fun-filled evenings include hay rides, songs around a campfire led by singer Marc Muller, hot chocolate and marshmallows toasted over the fire.

Tickets for these popular outings must be purchased in advance – so don’t wait until it’s too late! Seating for the hay rides is limited. Rides begin at 6:30 p.m. on the evenings of Oct. 1, 8, 9, 15, and 29.

No tickets will be sold at the hay rides, so please register early. The cost is $5 for Union County residents and $10 for out-of-county participants.

Marc Muller is a talented New Jersey musician, producer and arranger. He has worked on PBS-TV, Food Network and Disney Channel productions, and has performed with Van Zant, Shania Twain, Dr. John, Carly Simon, Branford Marsalis, Elton John, Nickelback, and many other popular performers.

Tickets can be purchased every day from noon to 5:00 p.m. at Trailside Nature and Science Center, 452 New Providence Road, Mountainside; or weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. at the Union County Administration Building, Department of Parks & Community Renewal, 2nd Floor, Elizabethtown Plaza at Rahway Avenue in Elizabeth.

For further information, call Trailside Nature and Science Center at 908-789-3670; or the Union County Department of Parks & Community Renewal at 908-527-4900; or visit the Union County website at www.ucnj.org.

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“Trooper of the Year” – Phoebe Weiman of Cranford

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Phoebe Weiman of Cranford was awarded the “Trooper of the Year” trophy and medal for accumulating the most points during the 2009 Watchung Mounted Troop season. Fourteen-year-old Phoebe, who has been riding horses for five years, received her trophy in May from stable manager Rachel Baris during the Watchung Stable 77th Annual Spring Troop Horse Show in Mountainside. Watchung Stable, a facility of the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, is administered by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders. For more information regarding equestrian programs call Watchung Stable at (908) 789-3665, or e-mail questions to stablequestions@ucnj.org.

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Mary Close of Summit Honored

Union County Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski (R) presents a resolution to Mary Close of Summit congratulating her on receiving the Agnes N. Badgley Award from SAGE Eldercare during the organization’s 56th Annual Meeting in Summit. The award was created to recognize the invaluable contributions of SAGE Eldercare’s many volunteers. As one of the oldest and most respected senior service agencies in New Jersey, SAGE Eldercare helps thousands of frail, older adults, their families and caregivers each year. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

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Register to Vote by October 12th for General Election in New Jersey

ELIZABETH, NJ – Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi reminds Union County residents that Tuesday, October 12, is the deadline to register to vote and to make address changes within your town or Union County to vote in the upcoming General Election in New Jersey.

“This year’s General Election offers residents an opportunity to vote for their local member of the U.S. House of Representatives as well as County and Municipal officials. But first you must register to vote by October 12,” Ms. Rajoppi said. “I urge all eligible residents to be part of the process and vote on Tuesday, November 2. Your vote does count.”

To register to vote or to register an address change, forms are available in every municipality at the office of the municipal clerk. Forms also may be obtained by calling the office of the Union County Clerk at 908-527-4996, or by visiting the Union County website: www.ucnj.org/ctyclerk/election.html. Voter registration forms and change of address forms must be mailed to the Union County Board of Elections, 271 North Broad Street, Elizabeth NJ 07208 no later than Friday, October 8, in order to be eligible to vote in the General Election on Tuesday, November 2.

To qualify to vote, you must also be a citizen of the United States and at least 18 years old, not serving a sentence, probation, or parole because of a felony conviction, and a resident of New Jersey and Union County for at least 30 days.

Voters are encouraged to Vote by Mail, an easy process that has replaced Absentee Voting. To apply to Vote by Mail, voters can pick up an application from their municipal clerk, download the form at the Union County website, www.ucnj.org/ctyclerk/VoteByMailApplication.pdf or contact the Union County Clerk at 908-527-4996.

For more information about voter registration, please call the Union County Board of Elections at 908-527-4123.

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UNION COUNTY ENTERS INTO CONTRACT WITH BERGEN COUNTY TO PROVIDE 20 BEDS AT JUVENILE DETENTION CENTER IN LINDEN

Contract could provide an additional $800,000 to County

 

Linden, NJ-The County of Union has agreed to enter into a contract with the County of Bergen to provide up to 20 secure detention beds for its juvenile detention population.

The contract could generate $800,000 in annual revenues to County coffers and will run from November 1, 2010 thru October 31, 2011. The agreement is pending formal approval by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission.

“This agreement with Bergen County allows us to reduce the annual detention budget which costs approximately $6 million a year,” said Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan.

No new costs will be incurred by the county and no additional staffing will be needed as a result of the additional juveniles. All transportation including court appearances to and from Bergen County will be provided by the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department.

In March 2008, Union County replaced its thirty-four bed detention facility in Elizabeth with a new state of the art 76 –bed facility in Linden. While the new facility is first and foremost a secure detention center, its overarching theme is to promote the concept of normative justice where secure detention is viewed as an opportunity to change behavior in a way that will benefit the offender, family and the community at-large.

During the 24 month construction period leading up to the March 2008 opening, Union County was also chosen by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the State of New Jersey to become a Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) site. This distinction, along with the County’s own juvenile detention expediting team that provides a case plan and follow up for every juvenile in the County’s system, has brought a systemic change to our Family court system.   These changes helped create alternatives to detention through support and use of community based programs and developed partnerships with child welfare agencies that resulted in a dramatic decrease in the average daily detention census at the detention center.

In June of 2009, the county entered into a contract with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to provide 15 beds for undocumented juveniles needing secure placement pending the disposition of their resident status in Newark federal court. The children held in the detention center under this agreement have been involved in the juvenile justice system and have left their country of origin for multiple reasons such as to rejoin family members already in the U.S., to escape abusive family relationships, fleeing political or religious persecution or to find work to support their families in their country of origin. This agreement was the first of its type in the tri-state area, and one of only five such arrangements in the nation. To date, that contract has generated over $1.2 million in budget offsets.

 

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