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Union County to hold emergency Holiday Food Distribution on November 19

The Union County Board of County Commissioners informs residents of an upcoming emergency food distribution event for Union County residents on Saturday, November 19th.

Details are as follows:

  • Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 8:00 a.m.
  • KEAN University in Union Township, located at 1000 Morris Avenue
  • Drive-Thru

The food distribution is open to all Union County residents. Food will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and no registration is required. The events will take place rain or shine.

“Union County recognizes that with recent inflation and residual effects of the pandemic, many residents continue to experience food insecurity,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “Tens of thousands of households within Union County have benefitted from our food distribution programs over the past two and a half years.”

Residents wishing to pick up food at the drive-up distribution event at Kean University must arrive in a vehicle. Walk-ups will not be accommodated.

“The Commissioner Board is holding this food distribution as we recognize that the holiday season is upon us and food distributions are a continuous lifeline for many who are still struggling financially. This helps ease some of the costs associated with the holiday season for our residents,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados who also serves as Liaison to the Human Services Advisory Board. “We thank Village Super Market, Gargiulo Produce and all volunteers for their continued collaboration.”

All drive-up recipients must remain in their cars. Food boxes will be placed in the trunk or truck bed of the vehicle by volunteers.

Upon arrival, proof of New Jersey residency and indication of how many people reside in their household will have to be provided. Recipients will receive a special holiday food box and produce with all the trimmings. Please note that only one box of food will be provided per recipient.

To learn more about Village Super Market, visit: https://www.myvillagesupermarket.com. To learn more about Gargiulo Produce, visit: http://www.gargiuloproduce.com.

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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. Connect with Union County on social media.

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Union County Begins Code Blue Emergency Shelter Initiative 2022-2023 Season

The Union County Department of Human Services will again institute the Countywide Code Blue (CB) Initiative in an effort to prevent death and injury among homeless and housing insecure persons during periods of extreme weather conditions with temperatures at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit with precipitation.

“Last winter, over 5,000 placements were made in safe and secure shelter during a total of 91 Code Blue nights,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “Union County is proud to once again provide emergency shelter assistance to individuals and families in need during the coldest nights of winter.”

When extreme weather conditions are predicted, Union County Department of Human Services will implement a Countywide Code Blue.  During the Code Blue period, emergency shelters will be asked to increase their bed capacity.  Once shelters are filled to capacity, alternate arrangements will be coordinated by the Division of Human Services within the Department of Human Services and the State of New Jersey’s Homeless Hotline (NJ 211) outside of Division of Social Services business hours.

“The purpose of the Code Blue initiative is to keep our most vulnerable individuals out of harsh environments for their own health and safety,” said Commissioner Sergio Granados, Liaison to the Human Services Advisory. “It is so important to keep people off the streets, but it becomes even more imperative in the brutal winter months. Our top priority is the safety of our residents and this service helps those most at-risk stay safe and warm.”

“Due to the adverse living situations experienced by homeless persons, the U.S. Census and other broad counts of the homeless are often underestimated,” said Director of Human Services, Debbie-Ann Anderson. “The support of community organizations, local police and social service providers is necessary to ensure that our most vulnerable residents seeking shelter are afforded an opportunity to come in from the cold during dangerous and severe weather conditions.”

Notification will be provided to municipal police departments via the County Police hotline by 10:00 a.m., when a Code Blue is called. Code Blue referrals will be accepted during daytime hours only between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. During these hours, homeless individuals and families should be referred to the Union County Division of Social Services, located at 342 Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth or 200 West 2nd Street in Plainfield.

For outside of the Division of Social Services business hours (8:30 am – 3:00 pm) and overnight assistance, the State of New Jersey’s Homeless Hotline (NJ 211) is available and can be reached by dialing 211 or 877-746-5211.  Municipalities are asked to accommodate homeless individuals locally overnight whenever possible.

All Code Blue alerts will be sent via the Union County First Alert system. For those wishing to register to receive First Alerts, should email codeblue@ucnj.org with the following information: first & last name, email address, and a request to be added to the distribution list. An email response containing a registration link allowing modification to account information will be sent.

For more details about the Countywide Code Blue Initiative, contact Agnes Oboz at (908) 527-4842 or via email at codeblue@ucnj.org.

To contact the Union County Department of Human Services, residents can use the online contact form at ucnj.org/dhs, email the DHS Action Line at DHSaction@ucnj.org, or call 908-527-4847.

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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.

Connect with Union County on social media.

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Union County Offers a New Way to Help Stem the Tide of Plastic Waste

Union County residents have a new opportunity to help conserve resources and keep plastic out of the waste stream. The Union County Board of County Commissioners has launched a new drop-off plastic film recycling program, in partnership with participating municipalities. The service is free of charge.

The new plastic film recycling program is the first countywide plastic film recycling effort to launch in New Jersey.

“We are all very proud to bring this new recycling program to Union County. It will enable our residents to help conserve valuable resources and hold back the tide of plastic waste. We encourage everyone in the participating municipalities to join in,” said Union County Commissioner Chair Rebecca L. Williams.

The Commissioner Board is partnering with the firm Trex Company, Inc., to bring the new recycling program to Union County. Trex is the world’s largest manufacturer of high-performance, low-maintenance composite decking and other outdoor living products made from recycled materials.

The program launched with an initial cohort of 12 municipalities: Berkeley Heights, Fanwood, Cranford, Elizabeth, Hillside, New Providence, Roselle Park, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Summit, Westfield and Union.

Information about locations and scheduling is available on the Union County website at ucnj.org/recycling/plastic-film and on the free Recycle Coach app for mobile devices.

Most of the participating municipalities will accept clean, dry plastic film from any Union County resident, regardless of their home town. Please note that the drop-off locations in Fanwood and Summit are not accessible to non-residents at this time.

In order to protect the recycling stream from contamination, only the following items are accepted:

From the store: produce bags, store bags, and ice bags

From the pantry: Ziploc and other re-closable bags, cereal box liners, case overwrap (for example a case of bottled water), and bread bags

From the front door: newspaper sleeves, bubble wrap, and plastic e-commerce mailers

As a reminder, only flexible plastic film may be recycled through this program. No clamshells, casings, containers or other hard plastic items are accepted.

The company Direct Waste will accept the recyclable film material from the program and consolidate it for shipping to Trex. The County is also providing municipalities with oversized bags for storing and transporting the film.

For information about the Recycle Coach app and all recycling programs hosted by Union County, visit ucnj.org/recycling.

Quick links to all environmental programs and activities hosted or supported by the Commissioner Board are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing, emergency food distribution and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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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.

Connect with Union County on social media.

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Santa Claus is Coming to Union County –
Celebrate the Season at Warinanco

The Union County Board of County Commissioners and the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation are happy to announce a kickoff to the holiday season in Warinanco Park at the Warinanco Sports Center, with skating with Santa and more.

“This is one of my favorite times of the year, where all of the annual holiday events begin. It’s a chance to bring everyone from family, friends and neighbors together to kick off a great season,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “I look forward to seeing everyone there!”

The event will take place on Sunday, December 4, 2022 from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will feature skating with Santa and a visit from his elves, holiday carols and more. Tickets go on sale for purchase for $5.00 on Saturday, November 5, 2022. Tickets include 2-hour entry, skate rentals, hot chocolate and a cookie. Tickets must be purchased in advance online at warinancopark.com.

Children under 2 are FREE of charge. Everyone entering the building will need a ticket, whether or not they will skate. Tickets will NOT be available at the event, so residents should ensure everyone in their group is accounted for when purchasing tickets, including spectators. Space limited to 250 people per session.

The Warinanco Ice Skating Center is conveniently located in Warinanco Park, off St. Georges Avenue on the Roselle/Elizabeth border.

For more information, please visit the Union County website, www.ucnj.org or call 908-298-7850.

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Union County closes on Purchase of the Roselle Park EMS Building

The Union County Board of County Commissioners are pleased to announce that the County of Union has officially closed on the purchase of the Emergency Medical Services Building (EMS) in Roselle Park.

“We have been using the Roselle Park EMS building for a number of years as a base for one of our ambulances,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “However, we are now purchasing the building for our permanent use, which will continue to strengthen the services provided by our Union County EMS team.”

Union County EMS was created in 2011 to provide mutual aid in pre-hospital care throughout the county.  The program, was then staffed by thirteen (13) part time EMTs, operating Monday through Friday, however, this quickly evolved into a full time organization with multiple ambulances on duty 24/7. 

On August 1, 2015, Union County EMS entered into an Agreement to cover daytime medical calls in in Roselle Park.  That agreement expanded in August 2017, when Union County became the exclusive provider of Roselle Park’s Emergency Medical Services. It was the first town to become a part of the Union County EMS program.

Union County EMS now employees sixty (60) EMTs, using a combination of per diem and full time employees.  To date, Union County EMS has responded to over 58,000 calls spanning all 21 municipalities.  From August 1, 2015 through October 31, 2022, the UC EMS have been dispatched to 5,678 calls in Roselle Park. 

“We’re thrilled to deepen our ties to the County of Union with this sale. Small municipalities are reliant on county services, and this ensures the residents of Roselle Park will be supported for generations to come and allows the County to make much-needed improvements to the building to serve all of Union County,” said Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello.

The Laurel Avenue property, was purchased for $750,000 and is Union County’s second operating EMS Center. The other locations is in Westfield, where it is headquartered. 

For more information, please call Union County Emergency Services at 908-654-9881.

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Union County Announces Shared Services Agreement with Union College

The Union County Board of County Commissioners announced that it has entered into a Shared Services Agreement with Union College of Union County for Health and Prescription Benefits Administration.

The resolution was presented at the most recent Agenda Setting Meeting of the Board of County Commissioners on October 20th.

“The establishment of this shared services agreement is mutually beneficial and the Commissioner Board is proud to work collaboratively with Union College of Union County,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca L. Williams.

The County of Union partnered in a Shared Services Agreement, offering Union College the opportunity to participate in the County’s benefits plan as a subgroup, with the College paying the County a fully-insured premium equivalent on the first of each month.

“The ongoing partnership between the County and Union College has existed on multiple levels over the years, benefitting all County residents in different ways,” said County Manager Ed Oatman. “Participation with the County’s Health and Prescription Benefits plan is projected to save Union College approximately $500,000 in 2023.”

The Shared Services Agreement will represent an 8% savings for Union College through 2023 and encourage a reduction in expenses. The agreement will commence on January 1, 2023 and will run for 24 month with an option to renew for another 24 months.

“We appreciate the County partnering with us to provide health insurance to our College employees at a time when those costs are continuing to climb. By entering into this shared services agreement, we are able to save costs while maintaining a comparable level of service,” said Union College of Union County, NJ President Dr. Margaret M. McMenamin

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Union County Clerk Provides How-To Videos for Voters

Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi is providing voters with two new videos that explain voting procedures for the 2022 midterm elections. Election Day 2022 is Tuesday, November 8.

“Voters have the ability to choose between different ways to cast their ballot. These videos are designed as a supplement to the written instructions provided on their ballot, in order to help voters understand the different processes and choose the one that works best for them,” said Ms. Rajoppi.

The two videos now available on the County Clerk’s website, unioncountyvotes.com and on the Union County Votes mobile app:

  • Three Ways to Vote: Early voting, returning a Vote-by-Mail ballot, and voting on Election Day. 
  • How to Vote by Mail: The correct procedure for filling out a Vote-by-Mail ballot.

For more information about the County Clerk’s election services visit unioncountyvotes.com or contact the Elections Division at 908-527-4996 or ucvote@ucnj.org.

For more information about all County Clerk programs and services, visit online at ucnj.org/county-clerk or call 908-527-4787.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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Union County working with Local Officials to Explore Funding to Improve Mobility of County Corridors

The Union County Board of County Commissioners announced that the County of Union, in collaboration with local Senators, Mayors and other stakeholders, are exploring all available funding opportunities to best address the impact on County roads from end-to-end.

“Improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods is our top priority and having everyone on board will make all corners of Union County safer for our residents and more attractive and viable for investment and opportunity,” said Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams.

The Route 28 corridor, specifically, crosses into Plainfield from Middlesex County and travels through several municipalities in Union County, ending in Elizabeth. The County of Union, with the help of several local dignitaries, will be working to address the current and projected future congestion, mobility and safety issues. 

“Working together allows us to take a proactive approach in managing and improving our most heavily trafficked corridor,” said Senate President Nicholas Scutari. “The Route 28 corridor is a critical network of roads which run through multiple towns across the center of the County. I look forward to working with the County of Union in a multi-modal approach to evaluate and mitigate the impacts of congestion.”

“Union County is thriving with the amount of housing and new businesses that are being constructed across our municipalities. However, we are aware that with these projects, there comes challenges with creating a safe, sustainable transportation corridor,” said Commissioner Bette Jane Kowalski, Union County Transportation Representative and Board Member of the NJTPA. “We plan to study and address issues with mobility, safety, and congestion countywide with particular attention being paid to the Route 28 corridor.”

“I would like to thank the County of Union for their willingness to hear our concerns and identify solutions to our traffic concerns,” said Cranford Mayor Kathleen Miller Prunty. “Easy to navigate and vibrant corridors are the cornerstone in making our towns a safe place to travel through, visit and live and we need to make sure that we are doing our part as leaders to ensure our roads continue to remain operational and well-managed.”

“New commerce and redevelopment is great for our towns. However, we know with added infrastructure, expansion and growth there will be concerns for traffic and the safety of our residents,” said Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello, III. “And looking into additional funding to improve our roadways is a great step in ensuring our residents and visitors driving through Union County can continue to experience a safe and efficient travel system.”

For more information, please contact Transportation Planning Manager for Union County, Liza Betz, AICP PP, at ebetz@ucnj.org.

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Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program Returns in November

Residents can recycle their pumpkins for green energy.

Union County residents can put their Jack o’ Lanterns to good use after Halloween by participating in Union County’s Pumpkin Recycling Program, which returns this November after being a smash hit last year.

The program is coordinated by Union County and municipal partners. The pumpkins will be sent to an organic waste recycling facility and transformed into green energy.

“The pumpkin recycling program is an easy, convenient way for Union County residents to support the renewable energy industry in our community,” said County Commissioner Chair Rebecca Williams. “The program also raises awareness about new opportunities to recycle food waste, instead of disposing it in landfills or incinerators.”

Three locations will be available for residents to drop off their pumpkins. Residents from any municipality in Union County can use any of these locations, regardless of their home town.

Residents can bring their program to any of three designated recycling locations between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., beginning on Tuesday, November 1.

The program will run every weekday, Monday through Friday except for holidays, until the end of November. The last day to drop off pumpkins will be Monday, November 28.

 The drop-off locations are:

  • 101 Berkeley Avenue in Berkeley Heights (the Berkeley Heights Department of Public Works, next to the new Municipal Complex)
  • 523 Trenton Avenue in Elizabeth (the Elizabeth Municipal Recycling Yard)
  • 1300 Lamberts Mill Road in Westfield (the Westfield Conservation Center)

Only pumpkins will be accepted at these locations. Other food waste is not accepted. Candles and decorations must be removed.

The Pumpkin Recycling Program will send pumpkins to a processing facility in Elizabeth operated by the firm Waste Management. The company’s proprietary recycling system converts food waste into organic slurry, which is used to increase the output of biogas and other renewable products at municipal wastewater treatment plants.

Food waste is a global problem that contributes to excess greenhouse gas emissions while burdening local governments with waste disposal costs. In the U.S. alone, more than 52 million tons of food is displaced in the U.S. each year according to some estimates.

Traditionally, food waste is sent to landfills or burned in waste-to-energy facilities. New organic recycling systems provide a more sustainable way to manage food waste.

Union County residents can also help reduce food waste by using up leftovers, donating unused shelf items to food banks before their sell-by date expires, and starting a compost pile for vegetable scraps.

For more information about all Union County recycling programs and locations, visit the Bureau of Recycling and Planning website at ucnj.org/recycle or call the Union County Recycling Hotline at 908-654-9889.

To receive schedule alerts, and to stay up to date with both countywide and Union local recycling programs in Union County, download the free Recycle Coach mobile app.

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities, including guidance on composting at home, are available at The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For information and updates on all Union County services during the COVID-19 outbreak, including free vaccination, free testing and other support services, visit ucnj.org/covid19. General information about COVID-19 is available through the New Jersey Department of Health at nj.gov/health.

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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.

Connect with Union County on social media.