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Union County Week in Review

From Whitney Houston's burial to school-sid figures and other news, here's a glimpse at the past week in local news.

Clark

 According to Township Attorney Joseph Triarsi, in 2005 the NJ Department of Environmental Protection filed a suit alleging that three companies involved inNewark’s Diamond Shamrock plant were responsible for polluting Newark Bay with cancer-causing dioxins and other chemicals. Triarsi says three years ago the defendants decided to broaden the scope of the litigation and claim that all the agencies, communities, corporations and businesses that discharge their sewerage into the Passaic River Basin are also responsible for cleanup. Affected municipalities in Union County formed a mutual defense fund and have asked that the judge processing the case reconsider the allocation of costs in continuing it. "Why should we, small municipalities, have to share an equal responsibility to the state than entity that is larger and better financed than we are?” asked Triarsi. “It’s something that’s going to cripple all of us unless someone steps in at some point in time and takes a hand at federal or state level, because municipalities cannot swing this. Even collectively we can’t do it.” The mayor is also reaching out to citizens in Clark to e-mail the Governor about this matter.

According to Clark Police Cpt. Al Scherb, the pursuit began after three 18-year-old Rahway teens driving a stolen Honda Accord from Newark refused to pull over when a Clark officer attempted to stop them. The chase ended when the driver struck a box truck near the intersection of Westfield and Jefferson avenues in Rahway. 

Cranford

Eric Rubinson is training to compete in the Boston Marathon. He's no novice to the sport, but crossing the finish line in the most famous 26.2-mile race will end a journey that even the most obsessive long-distance runners could never imagine. When Rubinson makes his last stride across Boylston Street on April 16, he will have run at least one marathon in all 50 states. An incredible accomplishment, to be sure, especially when he makes one startling revelation. "I never really saw myself as a runner. It was just something to do," he said with a grin.

Life will return to normal for students, parents and educators of  when the elementary school opens its doors on Monday. Superintendent of Schools Gayle Carrick announced that the finishing touches are being completed and that the school will reopen next week. The school has been closed since floodwaters from  ripped through the building in late August, causing extensive damage. School officials were forced to  and send students to other schools in the district, as well as Washington Elementary School in Garwood.

Garwood

 joining the movement that is transforming Super Bowl weekend into the nation’s largest youth-led weekend of giving and serving. “Souper Bowl of Caring” equips and mobilizes schools to positively impact their communities by collecting money or food on or near Super Bowl weekend. The collected and donated 250 items of food to a local food pantry in partnership with the Garwood Knights of Columbus.

New Providence

Gov. Chris Christie released aid figures for New Jersey school districts today and  , up from the $645,220 aid received last year. At the Board of Education meeting on Feb. 9, Adam Smith, the Finance committee chairman, outlined the $33 million proposed budget, which included a 1.87 tax increase from last year that would result in an estimated $106 tax increase per household. But with the additional state aid, Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Miceli said that number could change as the board will be adjusting the budget with the additional state aid. The proposed budget will presented at the meeting on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the High School/Middle School Media Center and the board will take action to approve it and send it down to the County Superintendent for review. The board expects to receive approval of the proposed budget from the County on or before March 22, Miceli said. From there, the public hearing on the proposed school budget will take place on March 22.

You might think you'll be able to grab a cocktail at a borough restaurant in the next few months, but borough administrator Doug Marvin says  . Ten days ago, council reviewed the proposed ordinance for the third time, made a few amendments to it, and borough attorney Carl Woodward sent it to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control for review. The ABC, however, could make recommendations that would force the borough to amend it again before the ordinance is introduced and a public hearing is scheduled. Marvin said the public hearing on the ordinance would be advertised and the public hearing would take place at the following council meeting. But the earliest a public auction for the first liquor license would likely not take place until June or July. Marvin said the ordinance that’s being reviewed now by the ABC talks about what would be required within the restaurant. "Assuming that [the license holder] would be building the restaurant in a zone that permits restaurants, that shortens the review process,” Marvin explained. “If they wanted to seek a variance to build a restaurant outside of the zones that they are currently permitted, then it would take longer. If an existing restaurant wanted to simply expand to accommodate a bar or lounge area in accordance with this liquor license ordinance, that probably wouldn’t take that long.”

Earlier this week, we highlighted New Providence retiree Geoff Selby, who has been collecting newspapers that chronicle the biggest news in U.S. history since he was a teenager. But Selby didn’t just collect newspapers from his lifetime. He also scoured through estate and garage sales throughout the years, looking for lost treasures. Selby’s collection features nearly 200 newspapers, dating from 1865 to present day, that include the day the Statute of Liberty was erected, Oct. 28, 1886; the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing; the Nov. 22, 1963 John F. Kennedy Assassination; the Nov. 25, 1963 assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald; President Clinton’s impeachment in Dec., 1998; the Giants Superbowl victories in 1987 and 2008. Read on .

Scotch Plains

Just in time for Lent, John's Meat Market opened a brand new fish market, becoming the only business in town to sell fresh fish. Watchand learn all about the new fish market and town here. To learn more about the history of John's Meat Market, true landmark founded in 1939, be sure to watch Episode 4 of Let's Talk Local.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School Junior and Spanish Honor Society scholar,  students across the country to win the Bertie Green Travel Award. Petridis will travel to Mexico this summer for an all expenses paid educational voyage. Traveling to Mexico will give Petridis the opportunity to expand his knowledge and practice Spanish outside of a classroom setting. Petridis described his passion for connecting with another culture, and his determination to never sever the ties he has with the Hispanic Community, that he gained through learning the language and volunteering for organizations like El Centro Hispano Americano.  


This week, Scotch Plains-Fanwood Patch asked readers who makes the best pizza in SPF. The votes are in with Nunzio's Pizza and Pasta taking 23 percent of the vote!

Springfield

Springfield Patch fact-checked our previous claim that  could rock. As this video in our , the minor-age musicians are "metal gods" in waiting. The hard hitting trio, whose members include Dayton student Austin Blau on drums, wailed through a six-minute-plus epic original song. 

In other Dayton-student related news, we recognized the high school’s , whose achievements in class and on the sports field have landed her in Harvard!

Springfield parents were also in the spotlight this week, with  for her work in a project designed to help students with their keyboard skills.  

Summit

The Board of Education approved an $8,500 study by Haber Associates to “balance enrollment in elementary schools”. One of the pieces of data among several that are being looked at includes sending students to other elementary schools to balance out the overcrowding, but the board emphasized that it was not seeking this as a solution, but brainstorming many options. “Our space issues at Franklin have to do with the fact the building wasn’t made for so many students,” said Franklin’s principal, Dr. Sheila Cole. Cole said that when she arrived at the school over 10 years ago there were about 250 students. Now, the enrollment at the school is well over 350.  

 City Administrator Chris Cotter handled the presentation for the council, warning that Summit faces challenges controlling property taxes to keep them within the 2 percent cap. Cotter said that a limit on raising revenue for the city “puts more stress on local budgets,” particularly affecting the city budget while residents' demands for services increase.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nathan Parker led the presentation and outlined challenges faced by the BOE. Parker said the BOE is particularly concerned about overcrowding at the Franklin School, which had to convert a computer lab into a classroom to make room for students and the high-school auditorium remodeling project which is coming in over budget. Parker said that for the Summit school system to be on par with other exceptional public school system’s such as neighboring Millburn’s the issue of all-day kindergarten would have to be examined.

In October, Kohl Angelo's right eye had some broken blood vessels. A month and several specialists later he was diagnosed with DiffusePontine Glioma, a disease that has forced the 11-year-old to deal with doublevision, no movement in his right eye, decreased strength on his left side,slurred speech, loss of balance, and two bouts with kidney stones. Esperanza Salon and Spa will hold a fundraiser on Monday and will offer $50 haircuts (shampoo, cut, styling) with all proceeds going to a fund to help the Angelos.

Westfield

Fairview Cemetery remained closed to the public this week following Whitney Houston's private burial on Sunday.

Dan Duffy, president of Westfield Baseball, said the three Gumpert ballfields, currently receiving a $100,000 facelift, are expected to be ready for opening day on April 14. 

was filled with students, faculty, staff, and guests Thursday morning for the fifth annual Black History Assembly featuring guest speaker ABC News anchor Lori Stokes and The Newark Boys Chorus

The NJ Department of Education announced its state aid numbers Thursday afternoon. The Westfield School District will receive an increase of $693,074, a 32.4 percent increase over last year.

In Patch's "Best Of" feature, voters cast their ballots in our unscientific poll and crowned Elm Street's Casa di Pizza as having the best slice in town.

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