Union County Week in Review

Union County Freeholders pull the plug on MusicFest, saving at least 42 county employees from being laid off. From police reports to council decisions, here's a look at the top news for the last week

"A consensus was reached by the Freeholder Board (March 8) following numerous fiscal committee meetings, union negotiations and departmental meetings," the press release stated. The Board also canceled the Union County Rhythm and Blues by the Brook. County officials say the cuts will save approximately $1.2 million. 

In other news around the county:


On Saturday, March 11, Berkeley Heights Police Officers responded Ralph Pl., Branko Rd. and Ridge Dr. to investigate three separate residential burglaries. Investigations revealed all three residences were forcibly entered through the homes and were ransacked.  . All three burglaries took place shortly after dusk and none of the homes had any interior lighting turned on. The burglaries are currently being investigated by Detectives. The asks residents to keep lights turned on in their residences when going out in the evening and to also be vigilant in reporting any suspicious events or individuals immediately to the Department.

It’s that time of year again when many claim to be “Irish for a day,” while some celebrate their Irish roots. Regardless, countless residents devoured pounds of corned beef and cabbage, maybe a Reuben or two, and even some green beer on Saturday. While you can’t grab a green beer at Goodman’s Restaurant & Deliin Berkeley Heights, some brought their own to wash down a corned-beef-and-cabbage platter, which owner Don Parkin boasts is the best around. And if his 540 customers on March 17 last year is any indication, his customers agree. The platter, which includes corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes, is still being sold today. To read on about Goodman's Restaurant & Deli, 



 More than 100 students auditioned for the play this year and all who tried out participated, according to play co-director Laura Venezio. Check out of the show. 


During a public Township Committee Meeting Tuesday night, Police Chief Eric Mason read a statement voicing his disappointment over the fact that someone released a tape of an eight-year-old phone call with his son, in which Mason jokes that his day was going well because he "didn't have to kill any white people." Mason, who returned from a week-long vacation this week, was out of the country when the controversy erupted, just hours after he announced his plans to retire as police chief and take on the full-time role as township administrator. "The comments depicted in a personal telephone conversation between me and my son over eight years ago are not indicative of the career I have had or the person that I am," Mason said. "I regret if anyone was offended and I am disappointed that someone

The Kilkenny House Restaurant & Pub, a bustling bar and eatery, located at 112 South Ave. East in downtown Cranford, was voted "best Irish pub in Union County" according to a recent Reader's Choice poll on Patch. "It just goes to show you that out of tragedy comes triumph," owner Barry O'Donovan said.

A large brush fire covering about one acre of wooded area adjacent to Nomahegan Park in Cranford was brough under control by local and county firefighters at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. The fire was reported at about 1:45 p.m. and quickly spread through the dry brush about 300 yards into the woods on the Cranford side of Kenilworth Boulevard. The captain said that because the blaze was so far into the wooded area, Cranford firefighters requested the assistance of the Union County Office of Emergency Management and the Scotch Plains Fire Department. The mutual aid units responded with a brush truck, that is equipped to go deeper into the wooded area to help douse the flames.


 "The bottom line is that we are maintaining all Garwood services, while staying within the governor's two-percent cap," said Todisco. This year's budget also includes increased funding for recreation and seniors. The total tax increase is 3.8 percent over last year, 10.51 tax points, which equates to an increase of $105 per 100,000 in residents' assessed home value. 

"We're paying $22,000 a year," Councilman Louis Petruzzelli told Patch. "They work 180 days a year and then collect a third of their annual pay in unemployment." Councilmembers discussed several alternatives to paying the benefit, including outsourcing the process by using an outside company or hiring the guards full-time and distributing pay over the entire year (the way many teachers are paid), so they still receive a check during the summer months. In our poll, 39 people voted that the crossing guards should not receive benefits because they are seasonal workers and 25 people believed that they should be entitled to the benefit.


A few hundred moms from the Mountainside School District flooded  on Route 22 for the district’s annual Spring fundraiser, where the most cunning caught the best of 250 prizes. But between bargain shopping for Steve Madden handbags or trips to the spa, the mothers were cruising the prizes for a good cause. Robin Fox, the “mother of all comedians,” took the stage later in the evening for an alternative to the usual fashion show presentation for the event. More than $30K was raised and will go to benefit Enrichment programs at the Mountainside School District. To read on, 


The tenth anniversary of the New Providence Centennial Park dedication is coming up on June 15 and in observance, the borough plans to host a celebration in conjunction with the  The series, which takes place every summer at Centennial Park, opens on July 5. Councilman Bob Robinson said he and several other community members are working to bring the celebration together for that day. Plans include securing talent for the event, which may be the country-western band, Tom Gillis Band.   to read more.

Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of The Port Authority of NY & NJ, sent a letter to council, thanking them for their commitment to , which was erected in Centennial Park just before the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and was . Foye said the Port Authority is putting together a compilation of all the steel that was erected around the country and is asking for the borough's participation, which the council agreed to do. Click here  to read more.

New Providence Borough Council is in support of a $30K  project proposal from the borough’s Community Activities Department. Councilman Alan Lesnewich, the department liaison, said that money is already available in the department’s budget, which would cover the costs to replace the deteriorating canopy, a new 45-foot-by-14-foot concrete slab, 40 ft. of new sidewalk, and improve drainage along the sidewalk. What there now is dilapidated plywood, which is a major safety issue, Lesnewich said. Read on .


This week, Scotch Plains officials spoke out in support of moving ahead with police merger. Deputy Mayor Mary DePaola and Bo Vastine released the first statement, expressing adamant support for pushing ahead with either a joint meeting or contractual shared services agreement. Mayor Malool, who was unaware that Vastine and DePaoloa had released a statement, responded saying that while she supports a police merger, she does not believe a joint meeting would be fair for Scotch Plains residents. 

After 24 years in the same tank, local icon and Pet Shanty mascot, "Steve the Coral" made the move to a bigger home this week. Steve, a 40 pound leather coral has been a loyal friend to owner, Charles Frank since he opened the store with his late father in 1987. Click  of Steve's move and learn more about this local celebrity. 

Scotch Plains Township Manager, Christopher Marion to the Scotch Plains Town Council on Thursday night. Minimal changes were made to the line item distribution of last year's budget.The town will be working with a $22,262,564.58 budget, divided between legal costs, engineering, capital and insurance costs, public safety and expenditures. The average Scotch Plains home will see an increase of $46.28 in taxes. The completed budget will be presented for vote at the next council meeting on April 17. 

The SPFHS Boys Varsity Swim Team and wrestling champion, Anthony Tufaro by the Board of Education for their exceptional seasons. The swim team made it to the State Semifinals two years in a row and broke 4 Union County records and 10 school records during this season. Anthony Tufaro, was the first SPFHS wrestler in five years to make it to the State Championships in Atlantic City. After winning the Region 3 tournament, Tufaro went on to place eighth in the state at the State Finals.


Springfield officials are considering the future of two municipal properties and a number of township seniors are worried. Members of the Springfield Township’s Recreation Committee  The Sarah Bailey Center currently serves as a meeting center and activity center for Springfield senior Citizens. Several seniors said they were comfortable at Sarah Bailey and questioned the need for the proposed change. The Chisholm Center has been vacant since the YMCA declined to renew its lease on the property last year. It continues to host a number of activities and several potential tenants have been considered. But a plan for the town to take over the entire facility as a recreation center has gained momentum in recent months.

In front of a town hall meeting room overflowing with family members, fellow police officers and fire fighters from Springfield and surrounding towns, . With the promotions, the force has two Captains, three Lieutenants and nine Sergeants. The recent rising in ranks follows a 2010 wave of promotions where nine officers got new titles, including John Cook, who became Captain and officer in charge of the department. Pat Mclaughlin and James Fine were sworn in as the force’s new captains. Mike McNany became a Lieutenant and Judd Levenson, previously a Detective Sergeant, became a Detective Lieutenant. Jim Morton, Marty Costello, Detective Matthew Lynch and Kevin GilChrist were all promoted to Sergeant.

Last week, the website Union County Watchdog reported that Bergen would be "appointed" a Freeholder following the retirement of Deborah Scanlon. There has not yet been an official announcement about Bergen's candidacy. When contacted at his Cranford law office, Bergen declined to comment. .


 Instead, the extra day necessary due to days lost in the October snowstorm will move to June. The board also started a Twitter account this week to keep parents informed. Follow the school board and Dr. Nathan Parker @SummitSupt for updates on school board activities.
 According to his campaign literature his interests are to limit spending and taxes, maintain top-notch schools without overspending, and building teamwork and consensus with the Mayor and Council. He visions a plan that improves our downtown and mass transit hub with adequate parking, public safety, preservation of green areas, and programs and housing that retain our valued residents.
Firefighters and rescue workers had to extricate the unidentified man from the cab of the truck. He suffered only minor injuries. The crash occured at approximately 8:48 a.m. when the concrete truck driver was attempting to turn right onto Springfield Avenue, according to an eye witness report.

Political leaders from Summit joined other Republican politicians from Westfield and Kenilworth who came out to support Lance.

Mayor Ellen Dickson was on hand as well as Senator Tom Kean, the chairman of the Lance for Congress campaign, Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, both campaign co-chairs.

WILLIAN CARUSO March 24, 2013 at 08:50 PM
what a good idear
Dorothy Aliverto April 11, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Mr Caruso, I'm interested in putting my name on the list for the Senior Housing, please email me all information. My Mom had her name on the list when you first started taking names years ago. I'd like to have my name grandfathered in her place, she was waiting patiently. Please contact at butte6@aol.com


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