Sacred Heart Church
Celebrates Girl Scouting
Approximately 50 Girl Scouts from several troops in South Plainfield celebrated Girl Scout Sunday at Sacred Heart Church on March 2. The celebration began with a procession of Girl Scouts carrying the flags and colors of the United States and Girl Scouting. Girl Scouts from Daisies to Cadettes participated throughout the Mass as student lectors, choir members and leaders of song. Father John Alvarado invited the girls to come forward during the Homily to ask them about their experience in scouting. Many thanks to Father John for helping the girls celebrate their faith and Girl Scouting.
One Dad’s Pain Inspires Atonement for Others
The students at South Plainfield Middle School were awash in tears on February 26 as John Halligan led an anti-bullying assembly to top all others. He spoke about his son Ryan’s suicide at age 13, after he was teased and bullied by classmates both in person and online for years. After Ryan’s death in 2003, Halligan spearheaded a bullying prevention bill in Vermont that was signed into law in 2004. He also led the passage of a law pertaining to mandatory suicide prevention education in public schools in 2006. Halligan started sharing his story with school groups and it became so in demand that he left his job at IBM five years ago to lecture full-time. He visits schools nearly 200 times a year, “almost as many school days as there are,” he said. He talks about the bullies, and how they torment and mock others because they have an audience for it. He believes the kids who laugh along with the bullies–he calls them bystanders–are as big a problem, and those kids need to find a way to tell the bully to give it a rest. “I’m not asking people to snitch,” he said. “I’m a realist, but they can find a private moment to let their friend know they don’t think it’s right. If a friend of the bully or the girl had done that, I wouldn’t be standing here right now.” To read the entire story, pick up the March 7 Observer.
Dems Seek Mayor, Council Candiates
The South Plainfield Democratic Organization is in the process of screening candidates for this year’s election for mayor and two members of the Borough Council. Democratic Committee Chair Vincent Buttiglieri commented, “The United States of America has become the greatest nation on Earth because of our founding fathers commitment to participatory democracy. It is important that various points of view and different approaches to solving problems are represented on the local governing body. This is a particularly important election since both the mayor and council majority will be decided on Election Day.” Anyone interested in running for office or becoming involved in the organization can call Buttiglieri at (908) 875-7522, email firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail: P.O. Box 422, South Plainfield, N.J. 07080.
Library Celebrates Seuss
The South Plainfield Senior Center hosted the library’s annual “Read Across America” celebration of Dr. Seuss. More than 200 attended to celebrate with stories, songs and birthday cake in recognition of Theodor Geisel’s 110th birthday. Children and parents were read to by current and former borough council members and public figures. Mayor Matt Anesh (The Cat in the Hat) and Councilman Derryck White (The Lorax) joined Borough CFO Glenn Cullen, Library Director Linda Hansen (The Grinch), Library Board of Trustees President Darlene Cullen and Trustee Melissa Katsingris (Thing One and Thing Two), Former Borough Council President Linda Dashuta and board attorney Eric Aronowitz in reading some of Seuss’s most beloved stories.
BOE Accepts Matching Grants for Capital Projects
The Board of Education officially accepted $870,400 in state Regular Operating District (ROD) grants for building improvements at the February 1 meeting. The grants are 40/60 matching grants, and the district’s obligation will be $1,305,600. Before applying for the grants, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Stephen Genco structured the school budget to use $1M from Capital Reserves to upgrade school facilities. Last September, the district applied for 14 ROD grants; 13 were approved. The grants will be used to update security in each of the schools through the addition of main entrance door security to prevent direct entry into the school, the replacement of fire alarms at three elementary schools and boiler replacements at Kennedy School and the Roosevelt Administration Building. The largest sum allocated was $504,000 to be used for a partial roof replacement of the oldest section of Grant School. The district’s 60% share for the replacement will be $756,000. The work will be done during the summer months.
2013 Player of the Year
Signs to Play Field Hockey
During her senior year playing field hockey at South Plainfield High School, Shannon Hughes scored 28 goals, made 23 assists and was named 2013 Middlesex County Player of the Year. She even tied 2003 graduate Meghan Schweers’ record for scoring the most points in the school’s history, which is 79. Shannon will take her skills to Rider University in the fall, where she will play field hockey with the Broncs, just as Schweers did when she left SPHS. “Meghan was such a great player,” Shannon said. “To tie her record is an extreme privilege.” Read more of Shannon's story in the March 7 Observer.
Women's Leadership Comm. Seeks Women of Distinction
In honor of Women’s History Month in March, the South Plainfield’s Women’s Leadership Committee is seeking nominations for its Women of Distinction Awards. There are countless women in South Plainfield who dedicate so much of their time to the advancement of women, girls and our community. We are asking you to join us in recognizing their efforts by nominating a woman (any age) who contributes to the betterment of South Plainfield so they may be recognized for their service to the community. The theme of this years’ Women’s History Month, Celebrating Women of Character, Courage and Commitment, honors the extraordinary and often unrecognized determination and tenacity of women. Against social convention and often legal restraints, women have created a legacy that expands the frontiers of possibility for generations to come. They have demonstrated their character, courage and commitment as mothers, educators, institution builders, business, labor, political and community leaders, relief workers, religious leaders and CEOs. Their lives and their work inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential and encourage boys and men to respect the diversity and depth of women’s experience. Submit your nomination and a letter outlining your nominee’s contributions to the Borough of South Plainfield to: Chrissy Buteas, 434 Lucy Court, South Plainfield, N.J. 07080 or email email@example.com. The deadline for submissions is March 30. Award recipients will be recognized by the committee.
Planet Fitness Opening on Hadley Road
Planet Fitness, the health club franchise known for its Judgement Free Zone® and friendly prices, is opening a location in South Plainfield at 6761 Hadley Road. The gym will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prices at Planet Fitness are extremely low–just $10 a month. Planet
Fitness stands apart from other health clubs by providing a relaxed, hassle-free atmosphere and unlimited fitness instruction with all memberships. For information or to join online, visit www.planetfitness.com or follow us on www.facebook.com/Planet Fitness and Twitter www.twitter.com/PlanetFitness.
Borough Snow Removal Costs Soar
To date, the cost of this year's snow removal for the borough has nearly tripled over last year's, and the winter isn’t over yet. In 2013, the borough spent $126,845 on snow removal versus $313,846 this year. Overtime costs have more than doubled. The borough has also utilized 2,500 tons of road salt and employed five outside contractors to provide 16 additional snow plowing trucks. Including salt, the borough has spent approximately $140,000 annually on snow removal since 2010. A total of $127,000 was spent during all of last year. This year, $313,846 has already been spent (as of February 18). To get the detailed numbers, pick up the February 28 issue.
Mayor Proclaims March 3
Read Across America Day
Mayor Matt Anesh presents a proclamation to Library Board of Trustees Vice President Christine Faustini declaring March 3 Read Across America Day. Read Across America celebrates the 110th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Borough officials and special guests will visit elementary schools to read to students. The library will host a special Storytime program on March 1 at 10:30 a.m. at the Senior Center, with special guests and a birthday cake.
Hall of Fame Nominees Sought
The South Plainfield High School Hall of Fame Committee is again holding their search for candidates for induction into the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was established at South Plainfield High School to recognize outstanding graduates as leaders in their fields who could serve as role models for current and future students. To be eligible, Hall of Fame candidates must have graduated from South Plainfield High School at least 15 years prior to nomination, and they must have achieved a prominent position in their careers or made a significant contribution to the world/community. Community members interested in obtaining a Hall of Fame nomination form can visit www.spboe.org and go to the High School home page. The application will be listed under “News/Headlines”. If you have any questions, call Dr. Pedersen at (908)754-4620, Ext. 248 or 249. Application deadline is April 11, 2014.
BOE Names Business Administrator
Alexandre Ferreira was appointed to the position of Business Administrator for the South Plainfield School District at the Board of Education’s Committee of the Whole meeting on February 12. Ferreira will also serve as board secretary, Affirmative Action officer for Equity in Employment Practices, qualified purchasing agent, public agency compliance officer, custodian of school records, food service representative, asbestos management officer, air quality designee, AHERA coordinator and special education Medicaid initiative coordinator. Ferreira, who is one of two assistant business administrators for the Freehold Regional High School District in Monmouth County, will begin on May 1. Until then, Arlene Biesiada will continue as business administrator, the position she has held since James Olobari left the district in November 2013. Ferreira graduated from Rutgers University in 2002 and received a master’s in public administration from Kean University in 2012. Since 2008, he taught and coached soccer at Team Academy, a charter school in Newark, an experience that gave him an administrative perspective emphasizing outreach and the willingness “to be called about anything.”
SPHS Senior Signs Letter of Intent
Despite missing her entire senior year on the soccer field due to an injury, Carlee Gonzalez has been recruited to play for the St. Peter’s University Peacocks in Jersey City come fall. “I’m so excited she is going to be able to follow her dream,” said her mother, Jennifer Gonzalez. Carlee, 17, tore her ACL in June and had to sit on the sidelines during her final high school season. But after months of physical therapy, Carlee has been cleared by her doctor and will have a definite spot on the Division 1 team as a freshman. “It’s been a hard year with a lot of struggles and questions,” said Jennifer Gonzalez. “This is the comeback we had hoped and prayed for. All Carlee wants to do is play soccer.” Read more about Carlee's story in the February 21 issue.
Got Talent? SPCAC Wants You!
The South Plainfield Cultural Arts Commission sixth annual Talent Showcase tryouts will be held on Saturday, March 1 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church on Plainfield Avenue. Singers, dancers, musicians, etc. are welcome to audition for a spot in the show. All ages are welcome. If you have any questions regarding the tryouts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The showcase will be held on Sunday, March 23 at 2 p.m.
Students Attend Model UN Conference
Among the numerous clubs offered at South Plainfield High School, there are few that offer the intricate preparation and dynamic execution of the Model United Nations Club. Students who consider themselves up to the task weathered what seemed like countless hours of research on various topics, including reproductive health services, small arms and light weapons, nuclear terrorism, and even 12th Century Japanese warfare. The level of competition was fierce, as the students squared off head to head with the finest delegates our nation and other countries had to offer. The Johns Hopkins Model United Nations Conference is one of the most prestigious gatherings within the Model United Nations world–more than 2,000 delegates converged on the scenic streets of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore to compete for honor and recognition. “It was a great conference,” said delegate and executive member Christopher McNeil. “It really helped to distinguish the cream of the crop and I personally was very confident because my preparation was ‘off the hook.’ ” To read the entire story, pick up the February 21 issue or subscribe for home delivery.
McDonald's Coming to Durham Avenue
The Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously voted to approve an application from McDonald’s to erect a building with a drive-through on Durham Avenue. The application includes a loading waiver, which permits using seven or eight parking lot spaces instead of a permanent loading dock on the premises. The proposed building, which will be located on the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Helen Street and across the street from the Quick Chek on Durham Avenue, will occupy 4,500 sq. ft., have 68 seats and 36 parking spaces. To facilitate take-outs, two side-by-side driveways, similar to those utilized by banks, will allow for the stacking of 13 cars. McDonald’s will be open 24/7 and employ between 35 to 45 people during varying shifts. Read more in the February 14 Observer.
Hometown Heros Welcomes
Volunteers to ‘Be Our Guest’
Hometown Heros has announced the start of a new program designed to recognize and reward volunteerism in South Plainfield. The popular local eatery will honor volunteer firemen, EMTs, Little League coaches, Girl Scout leaders, clean-up volunteers, and anybody who gives of their free time to make South Plainfield a better place to live and raise a family. Charlie Kurland, owner of Hometown Heros said, “We are planning on inviting eight to 10 volunteers and their families for a sit down dinner at our restaurant. We will have a special menu dedicated for just that evening. That night, we will be serving them as a ‘thank you’ for their efforts. We are planning on doing an event like this several times a year." Watch the Observer for upcoming dates and details.
Council to Borrow $1 Million
To Pay for Tax Appeals
A bond ordinance totaling $1,010,000 for tax appeals was unanimously introduced at Monday’s Borough Council meeting. The amount covers tax appeals for 2013 as well as the appeals listed on the February 4 meeting agenda. According to CFO Glenn Cullen, South Plainfield experienced a huge increase in tax appeal judgments in 2013, and some of appeals were for substantial amounts. “Tax appeals have been an ongoing problem for the borough as the real estate market has declined,” said Cullen. “I expect the borough’s assessment base to increase in 2014 and the appeal situation to improve in the upcoming year.” The council is starting to work on the 2014 budget, so a figure is not yet available in respect to 2014 tax appeals. Cullen estimated that the figure most likely will be $300,000, the same amount as in 2013. The council will vote on the bond ordinance at their February 18 meeting. Read more int he February 7 issue.
Middle School Wrestlers Win
Dual Meet Championship!
The South Plainfield Middle School wrestling team completed its dual meet season on Saturday by winning the New Jersey Grade School League Dual Meet Championship. The Tigers scored big victories over Randolph and Washington Y (Warren Hills) before beating a tough Watchung Hills team in the finals, 44-31. The Tiger wrestlers finished their regular season, 36-2. Over the past two seasons, the young Tigers are 38-1 in league dual meets and 71-2 overall. The team consists of Noah Lynch, Connor Adams, Tyler Vronka, Colby Huber, Zach DelVecchio, Brenden Hedden, Mike Marrero, Joe Sacco, Luke Niemeyer, Alejandro Garcia, Volunteer Assistant Randy Jakubik, Divon Pender, Joe Heilmann, Bao Pham, Nick Loniewski, Anthony White, Tommy Fierro, David Loniewski, Alex Amato, Brad Guerrero and Sebastian Santos. The staff consists of Head Coach Mike Jakubik, Volunteer Assistant Coach Bill Ashnault, Hamilton Uzoma and statisticians Skylar Davisson and Dania Mohtadi.
BOE Recognizes Perfect NJASK Scores
Forty-four borough students in grades three through eight were recognized by the BOE for achievement of perfect scores in either English, math or science portion of the 2012/2013 New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJASK). Assistant Superintendent Nicole Pormilli reported the South Plainfield School District scored slightly above state standards on the (NJASK) for grades three through eight aligned to the Common Core. Students answered 300 questions in one of the three areas. For a listing of all the students, read the February 7 issue.
Volunteers Needed For Litter Clean-Up
The Clean Communities Advisory Board will sponsor a borough-wide cleanup the last week in April. The main clean-up event will be on Saturday, April 19. For more information, call Alice Tempel, Clean Communities coordinator, at (908) 226-7621 or email email@example.com.
Jazikoff Retires from SPPD
After 26 years with the South Plainfield Police Department, Lt. Raymond Jazikoff retired effective January 1. He now faces the challenge of deciding what to do with his free time.“I used to fish a lot, so I’d like to start doing that again,” he said. “I enjoy hunting, doing yard work and going to my beach house. But most of my hobbies have had to do with my kids–being involved in their sports and traveling to their games.” He plans to spend the next few months concentrating on Ray Jr.’s wrestling as his son finishes his senior year and decides on a college. Like his son, Jazikoff, a 1983 SPHS graduate, played sports in high school, including wrestling, baseball and football. He studied business at Georgia College for a year before deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement. “I always thought about being a police officer, and my friends were taking the police exam,” he said. “I wanted to be a police officer in my own town. It’s a good town, and I wanted to help the community.” Read full story in the January 31 issue.
Posse Foundation Selects Local Veteran for Scholarship
Darryl Stevenson of South Plainfield was among 20 military veterans from across the country that have been selected to attend Vassar and Wesleyan colleges next year as part of The Posse Foundation’s Veterans Initiative. Launched in 2012 in an effort to increase the college-going and graduation rates of veterans at selective colleges and universities across the country, Posse Scholars will attend college tuition-free and receive support through to graduation. “The men and women who have served our country in the military deserve the opportunity of a top-rate education, and at the same time colleges benefit from having students with this type of diverse experience and background,” says Posse President and Founder Deborah Bial. Using its unique recruitment method, The Posse Foundation each year identifies, recruits and trains multicultural teams–Posses–of 10 veterans and sends them to selective four-year institutions of higher education. The Posse Scholarships complement scholarships through the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon funding. Stevenson, who served in the United States Air Force, will attend Wesleyan University. To read the rest of this Milestone, pick up the January 31 issue of the Observer.
Mosca Family Expresses Gratitude
"I will never know why God chose to take Bill from me and our family," writes Maryann Mosca, pictured at left with Bill and their children. "I am devastated and heartbroken by it. What I do know is that my family has been blessed with the love and support from everyone Bill has come in contact with his last 39 years in South Plainfield and throughout his 64 years of life...." The Mosca Family expresses their gratitude to the community for their support. in this week's Letters to the Editor column. Read the full letter in the January 24 issue.
American Legion Seeks Boys’ State Candidates
American Legion Post #243, in honor of their 80th anniversary, will sponsor four candidates to attend the annual Boys State program, which offers male high school juniors the opportunity to learn how our democratic form of government works. Two candidates will be selected from South Plainfield High School, as well as one South Plainfield resident who attends Bishop George Ahr High School and one who attends St. Joseph High School. Non-U.S. citizens may attend Boys’ State. Attendees will be taught by current and past government leaders and will elect their peers to positions in the ‘Boys’ State’ governing body. This is an excellent opportunity to help strengthen leadership skills. Candidates must be no older than 17, have at least a “B” average, be involved in extracurricular activities, and have some interest in politics and current events. Candidates and their parents or guardians can find more information at www.aljbs.org. The 69th annual session of the American Legion Boys’ State will take place at Rider University from June 22-27.
Students Sought For County Youth Conservation Corps
Applications are now being accepted for the Middlesex County Youth Conservation Corps, whose mission is to protect and preserve natural areas from misuse, polluters and the forces of nature at the more than 7,000 acres of open space owned and maintained by Middlesex County. Conservation Corps crew members earn $8.50 per hour and will work Saturdays from April 5 through June 14. Work will primarily take place at county open spaces in Old Bridge, Monroe and South Brunswick. Students age 16 and over are encouraged to apply. A complete job description can be found at the Middlesex County Office of Parks and Recreation website, www.co.middlesex.nj.us/parksrecreation/index.asp. To read full story, see the January 31 issue.
Target Customers Urged To Take Advantage of Free Credit Monitoring
Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs urges all who shop at Target stores to take advantage of one year of free credit monitoring being offered by the retail company in the wake of the massive data breach. Any Target customers who have not already done so should change their PIN numbers and passwords as a proactive measure. Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all Target customers. Consumers can register for free credit monitoring at creditmonitoring.target.com. The free credit monitoring will be offered through Experian’s ProtectMyID, and the service provides a copy of a credit report, daily credit monitoring, identity theft insurance (except where prohibited by law) and access to personalized assistance from a fraud resolution agent. Consumers with questions are encouraged to visit target.com/databreach or to contact Target directly at (866) 852-8680.
Support the Local Food Pantry!
The South Plainfield Food Pantry is dangerously low, and the Observer is asking the residents of South Plainfield to donate canned goods and/or food gift cards. Most needed are prepared meals in cans, ex. tuna fish, Beef-a Roni, beef stew, etc. For specific questions, contact Social Services Director Marge Ackerman at (908) 226-7625.