As we prepare to start a new week, Union County Week in Review lets you take a look around at other towns in the county. And while Governor Christie's budget news (slight drop in spending, more money to our school districts) dominated the discussion, get the 4-1-1 on the week that was!
From the outset of the season, the Gov. Livingston girls' basketball team has had one goal in the mind -- to win a county championship.
Thanks to their impressive 21-6 fourth-quarter run, GL ran away to a 47-37 victory in Thursday night's quarterfinal match-up versus New Providence. The Lady Highlanders are one victory away from the Union County Tournament championship.
This is the first UCT Final for the Girls Basketball Team since 1991, when the Highlanders lost to Union Catholic.
The championship game will take place at 5 p.m. Sunday at Kean University.
Mountainside Board of Education began the public 2011-2012 budget presentations at the February 24th meeting. School Business Administrator. Board Secretary W. Daniel Saragnese presented the budget proposal and outlined the major changes from previous years, which include subscription busing, pay-to-play sports, turning before-school, after-school and summer camp programs over to the Westfield Area Y and the elimination of six positions. The proposed budget requires a $.09 increase in the tax rate, going from $2.63 to $2.72, which equates to $4,503 for the average home valued at $165,537, in the 2011 tax year.
“This is in no way a final vote on the budget,” said Saragnese, explaining that the version of the budget presented already needs to be adjusted to reflect changes made after the draft was completed. “It was an exciting day,” said Saragnese, as the district’s bonds were sold and refinanced the morning of the presentation and the amount of state aid the district would receive was announced. The refinancing will result in a 6.77 percent savings equating to $21,803 per year in interest reductions. While the board only anticipated receiving $32 thousand in state aid, the district stands to receive approximately $202,000 in aid.
The budget includes an increase in revenue sought by eliminating courtesy bussing, which is responsible for 83 percent of transportation costs and used by 519 of the 624 current students. Instead, subscription busing will be offered at a fee of $650 to $720 per student. The $195,000 in anticipated revenue is based on assumption that half the students that use courtesy bussing will not use the subscription service.
In an attempt to maintain all co-curricular activities currently offered, the board is planning to adopt a pay-to-play program. The fee schedule has yet to be developed, but will be reflected in future budget presentations. In another attempt to maintain programs, the board has elected to give up running costly before-school, after-school and summer camp programs, and instead allow the Westfield Area Y to run similar programs out of the schools, resulting in the collection of rent and the elimination of a deficit. “This takes a huge variable off our plate,” said Board President Mary Beth Schaumberg.
The New Providence girls’ varsity basketball team faced off against rival Governor Livingston in the semifinal game of the UCIAC tournament Thursday night. After forward Laura Gregory went to the bench with foul trouble late in the third, the Lady Pioneers went from rolling to reeling in a hurry. New Providence led by six at the time, but without its forward, the Lady Pioneers were helpless to stop Governor Livingston from ending the game on a 21-8 run to seize a 47-37 victory. The semifinal loss eliminates No. 2 seed New Providence from the UCIAC girls’ varsity basketball tournament. It is the Lady Pioneers’ third loss to No. 3 seed Governor Livingston this season. New Providence is now preparing to defend its state championship. The Lady Pioneers will host Newark Arts at home in the first round of the state tournament on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Under Gov. Chris Christie’s budget proposal, New Providence District Schools will receive $322,610 in state aid for Special Education for the 2011-2012 school year. In his budget address on Tuesday, Christie promised that every district in the state would see an aid increase, which is a part of a $250 million boost to education aid overall. The governor either reduced or eliminated aid in several districts in Union County last year, even in New Providence. At the time, many districts had been making plans for their budgets based on suggestions of more modest cuts by the state Department of Education. The New Providence Board of Education's proposed 2011/2012 school budget includes a tax levy increase of less than 1 percent. Final budget numbers are expected to be in by the Board's meeting at 8 p.m. Monday in the high school/middle school media center.
The top story this week was the tragic death of a four-month-old infant at a private in-home day care in Clark on Tuesday. The boy had been napping when he was found blue and unresponsive by Teresa Caporaso, owner of A Mother's Touch at 110 Hall Drive. According to a close family friend, Caporaso called 9-1-1 while her husband, Michael, performed CPR. Her husband couldn't revive the child and emergency personnel who responded to the scene were also unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the baby. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene. Responders were quick to suggest Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as the probable cause of death.
Also in Clark, the new Marshalls opened, just across the parking lot from the store's previous location. Target will expand its store, which is connected to the old Marshalls space. At the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, Marshalls presented a $ 5,000 check to the Clark Volunteer Emergency Squad. The new store features an expanded shoe department and an in-store boutique.
Last week was a busy one for Clark and Garwood police. In addition to two arrests for CDS (controlled dangerous substances) and a shoplifting incident in Clark, Springfield police arrested two men who were allegedly stealing medical books from the Barnes & Noble stores in Clark and Springfield and selling them from a food cart in front of nursing academies and other places where they would be in demand.
In Johnson sports, county tournament runs came to an end after strong efforts by the ice hockey team and girls basketball team. In the second round of the girls basketball tournament, Johnson's Kristy Pflug scored her second game-high of 25 points. She was also last week's athlete of the week. Johnson wrestler Brandon Santos saw success in thedistrict wrestling finals, winning his weight class and then winning again this Friday in the regional quarterfinals. Santos was defeated by Cranford's J.P. Christiano Cranford in Saturday's semifinals.
A two-month burglary investigation by the Cranford Police Department has resulted in burglary and heroin possession charges being filed against six local men in their teens and early twenties. Most suspects are allegedly part of a heroin distribution ring operating in Cranford Township and many took part in various residential burglaries including one on Redford Avenue where burglars netted $1,500 of property.
While state aid to Cranford remained steady, the township surplus – much less than originally believed – is yet another bump in the road for officials attempting to pare down the township budget beneath the state-mandated 2 percent property tax cap. The estimate was $1 million, but it's now been reduced to about $58,00.
After a month-long investigation in Garwood, police arrested a woman who was an employee of the RWJ Care Center in Garwood and allegedly used several of RWJ's customer credit card accounts to purchase goods for herself. Garwood police also made two DWI arrests during the week. In the first, a woman hit a snow bank, damaging her vehicle, and the woman's insurance company alerted police that the woman may be intoxicated. In the other incident, a woman was parked in the lot in front of police headquarters, honking her horn, and then displayed signs of being under the influence of alcohol.
Springfield fire fighters didn’t have to travel far to combat a blaze on late on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 20. A car parked in a Henshaw Ave. driveway—around the corner from the fire dept.—caught fire for reasons that are still under investigation, and the flames extended to the house. The fire spread to the basement and up the wall of the home to the upper floors. Fire fighters made quick work of the fire nonetheless, and had the blaze under control in about an hour.
Good news for Springfield schools came this week, when the New Jersey Department of Education announced the school district would receive over $320,000 in state aid a year after all state aid to the district was withheld.
The Summit common council heard a presentation from City Administrator Chris Cotter Thursday night detailing a proposed municipal budget which would increase taxes by 1.96 percent. The budget is based on news from Gov. Chris Christie Wednesday that the city's state aid would remain flat at $3,023,257 and on a $209,338 decrease in the statutory minimum funding requirement for the Summit Free Public Library.
Gov. Chris Christie's state budget proposal includes an increase in state aid for education by $250 million and having municipal aid remain flat. The governor included a challenge for the state legislature to implement his pension reform plan by mid-March in return for a payment to the state's pension fund and to pass his public employee health reform package as a way to reduce local property taxes.
Chris Tafelski, the assistant coach of the Westfield High School cross country and track teams, is a co-founder of the new Garden State Track Club, which is hosting it's first race on Sunday.
Students and parents involved in the Roosevelt Intermediate School production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" are planning to donate blankets from one of the show's numbers to a local homeless shelter and dog bowls to the St. Hubert's Animal Shelter.