Union County Week In Review

Patch's weekly wrap-up of news from around the county captures what your friends and neighbors are talking about.


On a routine patrol through the Watchung Reservation on Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., truck parked near Surprise Lake in the Watchung Reservation. The truck was open, with the driver's personal belongings in full view. Almost three hours later, when the driver had not returned, three officers and the Canine Unit of the Union County Sheriff's department began a search for the driver, who emerged from the woods at 9:30 p.m. stating that he had gone for a walk and got lost in the dark. False alarm.

, an 18-year veteran with the Berkeley Heights Police Department, was officially promoted to the rank of Sergeant at the Berkeley Heights Township Council meeting on Tues., Dec. 20, 2011. Accompanied by his wife, Christine, and their three children, Ammerlaan basked in the praise of Mayor Joseph Bruno and Police Chief Michael Mathis, both of whom recommended that Ammerlaan be promoted. 

After months of controversy over the plans to install a 51,000-square-foot facility for swim meets in Warren Township on the border of Berkeley Heights, on Tues., Dec. 20, the Township Council voted 5-to-1 against allowing any alteration to the original contract with Warren Township, effectively ending BAC's plans. 

The five members of the Berkeley Heights Township Council who voted against altering the original agreement between the two towns, said that if they changed the agreement, it would ultimately not be in the best interest of Berkeley Heights residents because it would limit the township's own plans for commercial expansion.

After nine years of serving on the Berkeley Heights Township Council, known by many as just 'Elaine' is stepping down from her position. 

Perna said when she looks back at some of the initiatives that the council tackled over the last nine years, she is proud of the reorganization of the police department, the development of new companies such as Life Time Fitness, L'Oreal, and Summit Medical Group which helped residential taxes, and the installation of Stanford Drive Park which began as a site that was designated for 350 high density multiple dwellings that was turned into a park with playground facilities. 


Firefighters from Clark, Westfield, Springfield and Berkeley Heights responded to help out the Elizabeth Fire Department that broke out Wednesday afternoon. The fire grew out of control and firefighters were unable to reach the center of the flame due to smoke. Firefighters are waiting for the building to collapse before making their next move. Officials say firefighters will be on the scene until Christmas.

The Clark Recreation Department awarded four families This year logged in a record number of votes as most outrageous went to 458 Madison Hill Rd – the Kosmoski’s, Most traditional was a tie – so two winners were presented – 8 Gloria St – the Maloney’s and 44 Runnymede – the Perez’s. The third prize for All Around Favorite went to 17 Runnymede – the Scipioni’s.

Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso urged residents to because the Department of Public Works will not pick them up, and it becomes a safety hazard when snow begins to fall. Pick ups will begin again in March. He also told residents to be careful where they blow snow, saying that residents that are caught blowing snow into plowed streets may be issued a fine.



 presented a musical performance featuring the CHS orchestra, the Noteworthy Gentlemen chorus, the Women's Ensemble chorus, the Madrigal Choir and the Concert Choir.

The Orchestra opened the show with Handel's Overture and Bouree, and finished with 'Silent Night," which featured Alexander Nelson on the cello. The Women's Chorus performed a medley that included a moving version of John Lennon's "Imagine" and Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." The Noteworthy Gentleman crooned Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are," and of course, there was plenty of traditional holiday music for everyone.

The orchestra is directed by Lynn Berry. The choral director was Anthony Rafaniello. Piano accompanist for the choir was MaryBeth McFall.

Outgoing Mayor Aschenbach and township officials traveled to the State House in Trenton on Thursday to present state officials with a letter and a petition signed by more than 750 residents opposing the proposed Birchwood Avenue redevelopment project. Officials also met with engineers and mayors from several other Union and Essex County towns at the DEP headquarters in Trenton to discuss regional flood control plans.


Last week, Patch brought local residents a four-part series, which focused on the recently approved   and how it will affect New Providence. We explored the   makes the decision to spike the punch, learned what   to come, found out who, among our local restaurateurs, are  , and heard from local residents,   coming to the borough.

In order for the New Providence girls’ basketball team to have a chance against a quality opponent, the Pioneers are going to need to play a more cohesive game for 32 minutes. That means taking better control of the ball and keeping fouls to a minimum. The Pioneers were not able to execute those fundamentals Tuesday afternoon and it cost them. In a battle of 1-0 Union County Conference-Mountain Division squads,  at Cranford High School’s Martin Gymnasium. New Providence, with three returning starters and two budding first-year performers among its top five, is the defending Mountain Division champion. Cranford, with all five starters back, is out to capture the Mountain Division crown – among other things – this year.


Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch launched    a weekly web series about the people, places, and personalities of Scotch Plains and Fanwood. Each episode, Patch Editor, Emily Everson discovers the local culture, icons, and flavors through one on one interviews. Video by John Leustek. The first episode revolved around Steve Olsen, owner of Little Shop of Comics in Scotch Plains. 

RDC Golf of the Shackamaxon Golf and Country Club, Scotch Plains' largest piece of property, had been finalized. Mayor Nancy Malool and Councilman Bo Vastine took the opportunity to reflect on the heated debate, controversy and litigation that surrounded decision making last year. Defending a controversial move to declare the property an "area of in need of rehabilitation," Malool stated the litigation and other costs that resulted was "worth every penny" because the land was protected from a massive housing development that could have occurred. As a result of a settlement, RDC can build up to 60 luxury, age-restricted condos on 12 acres of the property. 

This week's Scotch Plains  was marked by the promotion of Lieutenant Brian Donnelly to Captain, and a visit from Miss New Jersey. Township Manager Christopher Marion announced that due to safety concerns, parking on Cedar Brook Rd. will now be eliminated from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on school days. Concerned resident, Marion Roberts explained that she was "shocked" to learn that there would be no live Nativity scene in downtown Scotch Plains this year, offering to pay up to $1,000 on the spot to put it together. Manager Marion explained that shift in priorities and coordination issues prevented the town from continuing the 50-year-old tradition.


An early morning crash between a  sent a driver to the hospital last Wednesday. responding to the crash found a driver trapped inside the car and opened the driver’s side door and extracted the victim. Springfield First Aid Squad members transported the victim to Morristown hospital.

With his new role with the Springfield Police Department, . Like his , the 22-year-old Springfield resident volunteers as a member of the Springfield Auxiliary Squad. But as of this week, Sidar is taking on a new role. Surrounded by his family, Sidar was sworn in as a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class 2 by Springfield Police Chief John Cook at the Springfield Township Committee meeting. As a Special Law Enforcement Officer Class 2, Sidar will have all the same responsibilities as a part time police officer.


 Cynthia Pelham-Webb had to be pulled from underneath an SUV after it struck her. Police have identified the driver as 56-year-old Owen Flannery of Chatham. According to police, Pelham-Webb was rushed to Morristown Medical Center by the Summit Volunteer EMS squad sometime after 6:20p.m. on Wednesday night and died a few hours.

. There are seven people from the community chosen as "Community-at-large" members  who will serve two-year terms. "Clearly over the past year there was a lot of discussion about certain issues having to do with parking, which is an issue that always evokes more passion in this city," said councilwoman Nouris Portuondo at this week's council meeting.

 "The police department as well as the city's residents, want everyone, especially our children and young adults, to feel safe and secure as they walk around Summit," said Police Chief Robert Weck about releasing the sketch to the public. "We have and will continue to do everything in our power, both proactively and reactively, to ensure that."

Summit Police say the attempted luring of an 11-year-old boy occured on Friday, Dec. 16 at around 3:30p.m., near Broad Street and North Street. The after-school incident was also reported by Summit Schools, which forwarded the police announcement to parents.

 . Summit Common Council supported an ordinance that gives the Summit Police Department a new chain of command and eliminates the role of deputy police chief. Beginning Dec 29, the department will have two captains. The department also will be able to hire an additional police officer.

. Developers for a 16-unit condominium complex—on the site of the former Infiniti dealership that burned down in 2004—presented their plan for the commuter friendly development at Franklin Place. Developer Peter Biber, of The Biber Partnership, was on hand to present the drafts for the Village Courtyard at Franklin Place, a complex which would include a water wall, glass partitions multi-story parking lot with an elevator, and a unique staggered line of housing with one- and two-story units side by side. Biber called it a project that lends itself well to a transit village. "Young people can live close to the train station. It's a terrific plus for the neighborhood," he said.


Westfield High School class of 2011 graduate Kyle MacKechnie, a freshman at the University of Connecticut, was killed last Tuesday in a car accident in upstate New York. More than 200 mourners attended his memorial service at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield on Friday.

Dan Kagan, who graduated from Westfield High School in 2002, received the work in cancer research. Kagan will receive $35,000, which he plans to use to explore possible ideas for a start-up company after he graduates from the University of California San Diego in spring 2012.

Westfield resident  founded Cause 4 Paws in 1999 and has rescued about 200 cats per year by placing them in foster care while they await permanent homes.

Award-winning make-up artist  has opened her Magic Hands Skin & Body spa inside the Imagine Salon South. Condon specializes in eyelash extensions but also does facials and is a Reiki master.



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