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Archive for February, 2008

CLARK—Mayor Sal Bonaccorso and Freeholders Angel G. Estrada and Nancy Ward announced that Clark Township has formally transferred ownership of the Clark Reservoir to Union County on Feb. 20.

Totaling 150 acres of rare undeveloped open space in one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey, the Clark Reservoir and its surrounding shore will become part of the 6,600-acre Union County Parks System.

“The residents of Clark have much to celebrate,” said Bonaccorso. “We took the initiative to save the reservoir from development, and we are looking forward to working with the county to improve and enhance its use by the public. We want to thank the county for their continued interest in all Clark Township projects.”

 “Union County has been a leader in land preservation, and I am very grateful that we have the opportunity to continue this tradition,” said Estrada. “The Clark Reservoir is a significant addition to our public parks.”

“We are truly fortunate that Union County residents recognized a unique treasure in the midst of our highly urbanized area,” said Ward, who is also chairwoman of the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. “This beautiful natural resource, which was once destined to be developed, has been preserved for all the public to enjoy.”

The Clark Reservoir was built in 1907 along the Robinson’s Branch of the Rahway River. It fell into disuse by the early 1990s. To prevent the property from being drained and sold, Clark Township took ownership of the reservoir. A conservation easement was established to protect the surrounding shoreline from development forever.

The decision to transfer the property from Clark Township to Union County was based on the need to ensure maintenance and upkeep of the large parcel of land.

The county’s acquisition of the Clark Reservoir was made possible by the Union County Open Space, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Approved by referendum in 2000, the Trust Fund has far exceeded its initial ten-year goal of preserving 100 acres of open space. Including the Clark Reservoir, well over 300 acres have been acquired so far.

The newly preserved acreage includes the St. Agnes property on Madison Hill Road in Clark and the former Schwarz Farm on Old Raritan Road straddling Clark and Westfield.

With these, the county has assembled a continuous greenway that links the Clark Reservoir with other parks and newly preserved land, including the Esposito Farm Park in Clark, the Hazelwood Cemetery in Clark, and Milton Lake in Rahway.

Greenways were a fundamental part of the original design of the Union County parks system, dating back to the 1920s. The Olmstead Brothers, the same firm that designed New York’s Central Park, envisioned continuous natural pathways along the county’s streams and rivers.

In addition to their public recreation and conservation roles, the greenways also serve as natural, low-cost storm drainage systems.

Union County purchases Clark Reservoir

Transfer of Ownership—Union County Freeholder Chairman Angel G. Estrada (5th R) and Freeholders (from 4th left to right) Deborah Scanlon, Nancy Ward, Chester Holmes and Bette Jane Kowalski present Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso (center) and (from left) Clark Councilman Richard Kazanowski, Councilman Al Barr, Councilman Pat O’Connor, Council President Brian Toal and Councilwoman Sheila Whiting with a symbolic dollar during a ceremony marking the formal transfer of ownership of the Clark Reservoir to Union County from Clark Township. Totaling 150 acres of rare undeveloped open space in one of the most densely populated counties in New Jersey, the Clark Reservoir and its surrounding shore will become part of the 6,600-acre Union County Parks System.  (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)

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CLARK—St. Agnes School in Clark is still buzzing from the most watched Super Bowl in television history.  Watching the school’s favorite player Michael Strahan, number 92, has kept the thunderous cheering to an all-time high.

Giants’ player Michael Strahan made lifetime memories for everyone at St. Agnes when he spent an entire morning with the students and staff on Nov. 13, after 8th grader Michael Villegas entered a drawing and won the “Take a Player to School” contest sponsored by the NFL and J.C. Penney’s.

The entire school was decorated in red and blue Giants paraphernalia waiting for the arrival of Strahan.  Students and faculty crammed the front sidewalk and cheered madly.  Strahan emerged from the limousine, with the Villegas family, to a roaring ovation.

Strahan answered questions in the eighth grade classroom for the smitten students and spoke about exercise, the importance of education, and “stepping away from the TV”.  He thrilled the kids when they caught passes from him, gave them hugs, had their photos taken with him, and were able to hear real life Strahan stories. His ever-present smile made everyone feel like a star.

Villegas was more than delighted to share his prized 6 foot 5 inches, 255 pound show-and-tell guest, and as the students from St. Agnes learned, Strahan is a great role model and everyone’s favorite member of the Giants for many years to come.

St. Agnes students meet New York Giant Michael Strahan

The eighth grade students at St. Agnes School take great pleasure having their class photo taken with NY Giant player, Michael Strahan.

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TRENTON – Last week, Assemblymen Neil M. Cohen and Joseph Cryan announced the introduction of legislation that would statutorily designate each October as “Hispanic Heritage Month” in New Jersey.

Senator Raymond J. Lesniak announced he will sponsor an identical version of the legislation in the Senate.

“It is important to recognize the richness of culture that the New Jersey’s Hispanic communities bring to the state,” said Cohen (D-Union).  “Their contributions to our communities and our country deserve to be permanently commemorated.”

The bill (AJR-76) would codify October of each year in New Jersey as Hispanic Heritage Month.  Activities during the month would serve to commemorate the contributions Hispanic and Hispanic-American residents have made to the state and the nation.

The sponsors said they introduced legislation to create the permanent designation to avoid the chaos of scrambling to submit a bill each year to maintain the designation. Similar laws have been enacted to designate commemorations that include Black History Month, Women’s History Week, and Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.

“New Jersey’s Hispanic and Hispanic-American communities deserve to be honored,” said Cryan (D-Union).  “Their efforts and cultural impact have made enormous positive contributions to our state that need to be recognized.”

“The Latino community in New Jersey has a rich heritage and has contributed so much to the tapestry of New Jersey culture,” said Lesniak (D-Union).  “It’s only fitting that we designate a month in each year to recognize the contributions, culture, and history of Hispanic New Jersey.  This is an honor whose time is long overdue in the Garden State.”

The Assembly version of the bill has been referred to the Assembly State Government Committee.  Upon its introduction, the Senate version will be referred to the Senate State Government Committee.

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Students Of The Month

Benedictine Academy Students of the Month (January 2008)

Students Of The Month—Four young women from at Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth have earned recognition for their academic and all-around achievements at the all-female, Catholic college-prep high school. Selected as “Students of the Month” for January are sophomore Vanessa Devia (standing, left) and freshman Tracy Estelus (standing, right), both of Elizabeth; senior Ulrielle Souffrant of Roselle (seated, left) and junior Erika Yang of Hillside (seated, right.)

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ELIZABETH – The city of Elizabeth has been named one of the 50 greenest cities in America by Popular Science magazine. The environmentally friendly designation placed Elizabeth 45th among cities with a population of more than 100,000 residents.

“This honor is a direct result of coordinating and implementing green initiatives throughout our city,” said Mayor Chris Bollwage. “In collaboration with dedicated environmental organizations, the city has incorporated numerous green programs and projects that are improving our environment and the quality of life for generations to come.”

To determine the greenest cities, Popular Science used raw data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Geographic Society’s Green Guide, which collected survey data and government statistics for American cities of over 100,000 people in more than 30 categories. Statistics were condensed and compiled into four broad categories including: electricity, transportation, green living, and recycling/green prospective. Popular Science developed a scoring system in each category to decide a city’s place in the rankings. Elizabeth was the only city in New Jersey to make the list.

City officials attribute the national ranking to the implementation of diverse programs and strategies that have set the stage for a greener, more environmentally friendly community. Eco-friendly partners have also helped improve the city’s environment.

Groundwork Elizabeth is one such partner which has helped bring about sustained regeneration, improvement and management of the city’s physical environment. Since their establishment in October 2003, Groundwork Elizabeth has restored recreational parks, landscaped blighted areas, planted more than 1,000 new trees and created the first-ever Elizabeth “Nature Guide” with students from their Green Team program. Projects such as the Elizabeth River Trail will connect Midtown to the city’s waterfront and offer a safe, environmentally friendly, recreational path for families to enjoy.

Future City Inc. is another eco-partner located within the bustling Midtown area of Elizabeth. The community-based organization educates and assists residents in policy formation in order to ensure positive growth within the environment and community. Ongoing projects include the “Our Spaces and Places Project,” “Elizabeth River/Arthur Kill Watershed Association Project” and the “Healthy Neighborhood/Healthy Home Project.”

The Department of Public Works has also been busy keeping the city “Clean and Green.” The department has restructured its extensive recycling program, providing residents weekly pickups of newspapers, plastics and glass objects. They participate in numerous neighborhood cleanups year-round and plant hundreds of trees at no cost to residents. One of the department’s successful programs also helps eliminate water pollution. The program, “Solutions to Storm Water Pollution,” adopts ordinances and regulations that prohibit various activities that contribute to storm water pollution.

In addition, last year the city became the home to Fuel:Bio, the largest commercial producer of bio diesel in the northeast. Fuel:Bio Holdings is a state-of-the-art, fully-automated facility that can produce up to 50 million gallons of bio diesel per year. Bio diesel has gained popularity because it burns cleaner than regular oil.

“We are proud of the tremendous strides and improvements achieved to date, but we also recognize that more has to be done to ensure future generations have a healthy environment to enjoy,” said Councilman-at-Large Frank Cuesta. “As the only city in New Jersey to make the top 50 list, I hope we can inspire others to start green programs and help keep our environment strong.”

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Linden Seeks Outstanding Seniors

LINDEN—The Department of Recreation and Community Services is currently accepting applications for nominations for this year’s Annual Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year.  The purpose of the award is to recognize the Linden senior citizen who has displayed exceptional service to the community.

A permanent plaque inscribed with the purpose of the award is displayed at the John T. Gregorio Recreation Center and is engraved with the name of each year’s Outstanding Senior Citizen.  A similar plaque will be awarded to the person selected.

The Department of Recreation and Community Services has appointed a committee, composed of the Mayor’s Senior Citizen Advisory Committee, Recreation Committee and local civic organizations to make the final selection.

The outstanding senior citizen award will be limited to one recipient.  If the committee determines that no applicants meet the awards criteria, no outstanding senior will be designated. The Department of Recreation and Community Services has contacted all Linden organizations to acquaint them with the project and to invite them to submit nominations on official entry forms.

Nominations from the organizations, naming the candidates and listing detailed reasons for their nomination must be received by the Department of Recreation and Community Services by March 20.  All nominees must have attained a minimum age of 65 by Jan. 1, 2007, and must be Linden residents. The candidate’s signature must be affixed to the letter of nomination.  The award is presented each year at the Annual Senior Citizens Day Celebration in May.

Any organization wishing to submit a nomination may do so by contacting the Department of Recreation and Community Services at (908)474-8627 for additional information.

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Fun and games at the 21st Century Community Learning Center

Fun & Games—The 21st Century Community Learning Center of Joseph E. Soehl Middle School coordinated a family game night on Feb. 15. Over 50 participants attended this fun-filled evening in the Soehl cafeteria. Students and their families had an opportunity to play a variety of board games such as Scrabble, Mancala, chess and Uno. They also participated in other games such as Nok Hockey, bowling, miniature golf and Twister. Pictured left to right, Steven Cardenas, Jan Molina, Ursulany Gonzalez and Ashley Molina play Nok Hockey.

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