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Highlight an Exceptional Woman in Your Life

Union County, NJ – Every year, the Women of Excellence awards celebrate the diverse contributions that women make to life in Union County. If there is an exceptional woman in your business, school, or volunteer organization, you still have time to nominate her for this wonderful community recognition.

The nomination process is simple, and there is no fee. All women age 21 or older who live or work in Union County are eligible. Nominees can work or volunteer in many different fields.

Awardees will receive a certificate and will be celebrated at the 23rd annual Women of Excellence gala awards dinner, to be held on March 20, 2015 at Galloping Hill Caterers in Union Township.

For more information about submitting a nomination, or to download a nomination form, Questions about the nomination process can be emailed

All nominations should be mailed to Jane O’Hara at 708 Newark Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090 and postmarked no later than December 1, 2014.

The annual Women of Excellence award is sponsored by the Freeholder Board and the Union County Commission on Human Relations.


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Echo Lake Park Gets Cold Weather TLC from Student Volunteers

Adopt a Park Union County, NJ
Echo Lake Park Gets Cold-Weather TLC from Student Volunteers (Union County, NJ)

Union County, NJ — A large group of students from the Kean University Center For Leadership & Service braved frigid temperatures to contribute to Union County’s Adopt-A-Park program last Sunday, November 16. They removed old fencing and posts, cut back invasive plants, pruned native trees, and picked up trash and leaves in Echo Lake Park. The Center for Leadership has been a regular partner with the Adopt-a-Park Program and the students will face the elements again for another project in December. Most Adopt-a-Park projects are conducted in milder weather, so a special thanks goes out to this group. To find out how your company, organization, or school can join, visit, call 908-789-3683 or email (Photo: Betty Ann Kelly/County of Union)

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Union High School Key Club Volunteers Join in the Fun at the Annual Halloween Party at Runnells Specialized Hospital

Union High School at Runnells, Union County NJ

Union County, NJ — More than 100 residents, staff and volunteers – including more than a dozen student volunteers from Union High School – took part recently in the annual Halloween Party at Runnells Specialized Hospital.

All those in attendance were entertained by the musical duo of “Two for the Road,” featuring singer/guitarist John Adisano and singer Jennifer Rachele.  The musicians played a wide range of songs, including a few just for Halloween, and were joined in by many of those at the party.

More than a dozen student volunteers from The Key Club of Union High School spent the entire evening dancing, singing and helping residents enjoy the festivities, which also included refreshments and a costume judging contest.

The event was arranged by Runnells Activities Coordinator Patricia Scott and Assistant Coordinator Jamie Hawkins.

Union County Freeholder Vernell Wright, who also volunteers at the hospital, said, “The staff at Runnells always does a wonderful job with activities, especially for the holidays, and I want to send a special thanks out to the Key Club members from Union High School who volunteered their time and enthusiasm for the Halloween Party.”

Runnells Specialized Hospital is a unique, state-of-the-art hospital that has served the residents of Union County and surrounding areas for more than a century.


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Another Job Well Done for Adopt-a-Park

Adopt-a-Park Union County, NJ
Volunteers from Merck rest after trail reconstruction.

Union County, NJ – Union County Adopt-a-Park volunteers and Merck employees Jihong Yang, Jameson Bothe, Peter Zafian and Dan Xie (back row, l-r) and Jiafang He and Danielle Schultz (front row, l-r) take a well deserved break after repairing a storm-damaged section of trail in the Michael S. Bezega Wetland Observation Area of Rahway River Parkway, in Rahway. Merck volunteers have pitched in since 2003, when new berms, basins, and thousands of native plantings transformed a flood-prone neighborhood into a “green infrastructure” nature  conservation site. It is named for United States Army Staff Sgt. Michael S. Bezega, a lifelong Rahway resident who was killed in combat in Vietnam in 1970. Merck is one of many local companies that encourage employees to help preserve and beautify our County parks. For more information on Adopt-a-Park visit, call 908-789-3683, or

Photo Credit: Betty Ann Kelly/County of Union.


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Fanwood Mayor to Recap One-Seat Ride Milestones at Nov. 17 RV Rail Coalition Meeting

PLAINFIELD – Elected officials, transportation professionals and the public are invited to the final 2014 meeting of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC) onMonday, Nov. 17.

Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, head of the One-Seat Ride Mayors Coalition, along with RVRC Chairman and Somerset County Freeholder Peter Palmer and other Coalition trustees, will recap the 2014 milestones and accomplishments in launching weekday off-peak one-seat ride service earlier this year on the Raritan Valley Rail line.

A PowerPoint presentation will review the events leading up to the March 2014 launch of one-seat ride service as well as the projected January 2015 launch of weekday evening off-peak direct service to Manhattan. The presentation also will highlight the quarterly briefings the Coalition continues to have with NJ Transit, the Oct. 27 Cranford commuter meeting and future efforts that will be needed to secure weekend and weekday peak-hour direct service in the near future.

The Rail Coalition trustees also will provide an update on the initiative’s website ( and social-media campaign.

The Nov. 17 meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. in Room 119 at the Union County Community College Plainfield Campus, located 232 E. Second St.

Attendees should park in Parking Lot 2.  Go east on East Second Street; make a right turn onto Richmond Street, traveling one block south; and then make a right turn onto East Third Street.  Take the second entrance on the left side of East Third Street.  Walk across East Third Street from Parking Lot 2, through the walkway entrance for Lot 1, and then straight ahead to the main campus building.  There will be signs to follow to the meeting room in the main building.

For a building map go to UCCPlainfield For a map of the parking area go toUCCParking For more information call (908) 412-3599.

The building is a short walk from NJ Transit rail service from the Plainfield train station and the 114 NJ Transit bus route.  For NJ Transit bus and rail schedule and fare information, call (973) 275-5555 or

For questions, driving directions or more information, contact the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition at (908) 231-7021, by fax at (908) 707-1749 or by e-mail at

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Union County Clerk Offers Veterans ID Cards & Peddler’s Licenses at Offices in Westfield and Elizabeth

WESTFIELD, NJ – In honor of Veterans Month, Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi reminds any honorably discharged veteran living in Union County that they can receive a free identification card at the County Clerk’s offices in Westfield and Elizabeth. The wallet-size photo ID card is honored as proof of service in the United States Armed Forces.

“We encourage all of our veterans to bring their original discharge papers to the County Clerk’s Office in either Westfield or Elizabeth and take advantage of this free program,” Rajoppi said. “This ID card service is just one way to say thank you and make veterans’ lives a little easier.”

The Veterans ID Card Act was signed into law in 2012. The card is available to veterans whose original Certificate of Honorable Discharge and/or DD-214 forms are recorded at the Union County Clerk’s office. It can assist veterans in receiving educational benefits, death benefits, licenses, local property tax rebates and discounts at big retailer box stores when presented with other identification.

If a veteran’s discharge papers have never been recorded, the original documents must be presented at either one the Union County Clerk’s offices. Documents will be recorded in the Union County Veterans’ Index, assigned a book and page number and the original documents will be returned to the veteran together with a free certified copy for their records. Photocopies of Honorable Discharge or DD-214 documents cannot be accepted for recording.

If the original discharge documents are lost, veterans can write to the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63138. Those who have already recorded their documents with the Union County Clerk can call her office at 908-659-7403 for additional information.

“Veterans can be assured that access to their discharge papers is available only to the veteran or immediate family with proof of relationship,” Rajoppi said. “Veterans’ documents are archived in a secure area and they are not accessible to the public.”

Further, for veterans interested in applying for a peddler’s license, which enables the veteran to peddle or vend merchandise in New Jersey, our offices in Elizabeth and Westfield can assist in the application process.

To apply for a veteran’s Peddler’s License, the veteran shall bring his or her Original DD-214 or Honorable Discharge Certificate to the Clerk’s Office and complete an application which must be signed before authorized personnel in the Clerk’s Office. The application will be transmitted to the State for approval. The veteran shall call the office within two weeks for the State’s determination. Then, upon approval, the photo identification card will be issued at the Clerk’s Office. Veterans shall then also contact the municipalities in which they wish to vend to see if there are additional municipal requirements.

The County Clerk’s Office in Westfield, located in the Colleen Fraser Building at 300 North Avenue East, is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. The County Clerk’s Office in Elizabeth, located in the Union County Courthouse at 2 Broad Street, Room 114, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. If additional information is needed, please call 908-659-7403.

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Usher in the Holidays at the Nature Craft Show, Dec. 7

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – Usher in the holidays with the sights and sounds of the season at the 31st Annual Holiday Nature Craft Show at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside. The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Recreation are pleased to present this seasonal craft show and charity drive at Trailside on Sunday, December 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The price of admission is an item of dry or canned food or a new, unwrapped toy to be distributed through local charities.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to find unique gifts for friends and family while enjoying a festive afternoon of activities, including greetings from Santa and Mrs. Claus,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak. “The Nature Craft Show provides a holiday atmosphere that encourages visitors to sing along with carolers as they mingle among the decorated trees on display.”

Staff from various Union County departments and community organizations will decorate trees in the Trailside Visitor Center. All the trees, ornaments, and gift cards collected will be distributed to Union County families in need. Visitors are encouraged to stop by each holiday tree and vote on their favorite decoration theme for this year.

With a large selection of handcrafted items available at the show, you will certainly be able to check some names off your gift list. More than 40 vendors will be selling nature-themed items such as ornaments, home décor, jewelry, pottery, stained glass, recycled items, and much more. Light refreshments will be available for purchase throughout the day.

Children will be able to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus from noon to 4:30 p.m., and free children’s face-painting will be offered to keep the little ones entertained. The day’s activities in Trailside’s auditorium will include illuminating seasonal lights of the Union County tree and menorah at 4:30 p.m.

For additional information about the Holiday Nature Craft Show please call Trailside at 908-789-3670, or go to Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road (at Coles Avenue) in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.


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The following message is presented on behalf of the Union County Commission on Human Relations, which is hosting a public information session on dealing with foreclosure as a property owner or tenant.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014,  6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Church of the Assumption, 113 Chiego Place, Roselle Park.

If you or someone you can assist is worried about, facing or has lost their residence to FORECLOSURE, this FREE educational program will identify:

  • positive actions that can be taken…
  • options that are available, and…
  • free resources that are offered…

…on a state and county level.

Join us to hear firsthand from key players who will answer your questions and give you  hands-on program information that you can put directly to use including funding, legal assistance, housing assistance, and mediation.

Presented by the Union County Human Relations Commission (UCHRC) and Union County Foreclosure Task Force

In cooperation with the New Jersey Public Defender’s Office of Dispute Settlement and the Union County Superior Court

You do NOT have to pre-register!

For more information, please call the UCHRC at 908.889.9028.

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PLAINFIELD, NJ —The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders today announced a $784,490 grant award from North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority that will fully fund intersection improvements along West Seventh Street, one of the County’s busiest sections of roadway in Plainfield.

The three intersections slated for an overhaul include West Seventh Street at Grant, Plainfield and Central Avenues. Construction is expected to begin by the summer of 2015. The upgrades are aimed at improving driver and pedestrian safety, alleviating accidents, and improving traffic flow. The grant is part of the NJTPA’s local safety program.

Union County Freeholder Angel G. Estrada, who also serves as the second Vice Chairman of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, thanked the County’s Engineering Division for putting together the award-winning grant submission and noted the improvements are “much needed” to ensure a productive and safe flow of traffic in the westward Plainfield region of Union County.

“This roadway services important institutions such as the Muhlenberg Campus of the JFK Medical Center, the Plainfield Boys Club, numerous businesses, churches and residences,” Estrada said. “It’s a heavily traveled area with plenty of pedestrians and drivers that will benefit from these safety improvements.”

Assemblyman Gerald Green (D-22), who also supported and urged the improvements, agreed.

“Besides protecting our residents, this investment will also improve the flow of commerce and commuter traffic in an area that is economically important for jobs and health services,” Green said. “This is a win-win situation for Plainfield and Union County as a whole.”

Freeholder Linda Carter, a resident of Plainfield, joined Green and Estrada in hailing the news of funding for the project.

“Providing safer intersections has a positive effect that will also impact a number of  economic and quality of life factors,   as pedestrians will be able to get to work, visit their church, get home quicker or to the business they may be shopping or using,” Carter said. “

The improvements will include new traffic signal equipment consisting of 12” LED signals; vehicle image detection, traffic signal controllers and cabinets, battery back-up power, traffic signal poles and mast arms with mounted street name signs, LED pedestrian countdown signals and push buttons.

Also included will be new pavement markings, regulatory and warning signs, high visibility crosswalks, construction of ADA compliant handicapped ramps including detectable warning surfaces and NJDEP compliant storm water management upgrades.


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Photographs by Sheilia R. Lenga of Union on Exhibit at Pearl Street Gallery

Photography exhibit, Union County NJ
“Cape Gannet” by Sheilia R. Lenga.

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to present an exhibit of photographs by Sheilia R. Lenga of Union in the gallery space at the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, located in the historic St. John’s Parsonage at 633 Pearl Street in Elizabeth. A selection of her work entitled “Photos from South Africa by Sheilia R. Lenga” is on display at the Pearl Street Gallery through December 31. The public is invited to enjoy theexhibit during gallery hours, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

“The talent and diversity of our county artists assure an inspiring variety of exhibitions at the Pearl Street Gallery,” said Freeholder Bette Jane Kowalski, liaison to the Union County Cultural and Heritage Advisory Board. “We are pleased to display Ms. Lenga’s intriguing photographs.”

Sheilia R. Lenga has enjoyed photography since her childhood, chronicling events while growing up in an artistic family in Westport, Connecticut. She studied classical piano and won a scholarship to Juilliard School of Music in New York. Her artist father and her mother eventually moved to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Sheilia often visited them with her camera. After marriage and raising three children, she developed a love of jazz and joined the New Jersey Jazz Society. She has served on the Board for over 12 years and is Vice President of Publicity.

Ms. Lenga became involved with the Cranford Camera Club in New Jersey, and served as its president, eventually merging it with the Millburn Camera Club. She joined the Board of the Westfield Art Association and also was the founding President of the Contemporary Art Group ( For 10 years she curated art exhibits at the Spanish Tavern Restaurant in Mountainside.

Sheilia has exhibited her work in many solo and multi-artist shows and galleries, including the Watchung Art Center, the Les Malamut Gallery in Union, the Arts Guild of Rahway, Overlook Hospital, NJ Workshop for the Arts, Salem Roadhouse Café, the Plainfield Arts Festival and many others. Her photographs are in private collections in Arizona, Mexico, Canada, Boston, St. Maarten, New York and New Jersey.

Union County artists (whose works can be hung on a wall) interested in exhibiting in the gallery space are welcome to apply. For more information about the Pearl Street Gallery or other programs, please contact the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth NJ 07202. Free on-site parking is available. Telephone 908-558-2550. NJ Relay users can dial 711. Send E-mail

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