Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY FIFTH ANNIVERSARY MAPLEWOODIAN.COM

Today marks five years since Maplewoodian.com was born.

Those who have been with us that long, you may remember we launched the site after former Mayor Ken Pettis resigned in a rather surprise announcement, a move that was barely covered by the other press in town.

Since we came in to being, The Local -- The New York Times short-lived web site -- has come and gone, as have several editors at PATCH, which now appears may be dying itself.

Maplewoodonline, our sometimes rival, remains and will always be the king of Maplewood websites.

Still, I hope we have brought something to the information needs, opinion discussion and breaking news updates in town.

In the past year, we broke news about the NBC news reporter who illegally entered Tuscan School, the troubles at St. Joseph's Church and its mistreatment of the employee who was beaten there, and the first look at plans for the Post Office redevelopment. Not to mention our special report on the two tenured school teachers the school district wanted to fire but could not due to this outdated, troublesome policy.

Maplewood is a wonderful community and has a great array of people, officials and issues.

Maplewoodian.com is glad to be a part of it and hopes to be for the foreseeable future.

Please continue to offer us tips, ideas and news, as well as comments.

And Happy New Year to all!.

TOWN HALL HALF DAY TODAY

If you need any town business done today, you'd better get to Town Hall before 12:30 p.m. as town employees have a half day.

They are also off tomorrow, New Year's Day.

Regular hours return on Thursday.

LEVENTHAL EDGES DE LUCA IN MAYORAL SURVEY

Our survey of residents finds more of them chose Township Committee member Kathy Leventhal to be mayor than the other four TC members, including incumbent Mayor Vic De Luca.

As we reported earlier this month, the TC plans to appointed De Luca to his fifth straight year as mayor tomorrow.

But it appears not all are supportive of the idea.

See the results below:

Kathy Leventhal...............................42.31%
Vic De Luca.......................................34.62%
Marlon Brownlee..............................19.23%
Jerry Ryan.........................................3.85%
India Larrier.......................................0%

While our survey is hardly statistically accurate since it includes fewer than 100 respondents, it is an interesting look at how some people feel.

We have always supported De Luca, even when we disagree with him. He has proven an involved, smart, hard-working mayor for our town. But it is likely any of the five TC members would do well.

The TC reorganization meeting is set for Noon on Wednesday, January, 1, 2014.









Monday, December 30, 2013

SCHOOLS SUPE ISSUES NEW SECURITY MEASURES IN WAKE OF TUSCAN BREACH

The recent Tuscan School security breach prompted many parents and students to call for tighter security, even a security guard at the front door.

Superintendent Brian Osborne issued this notice late Monday, which does not include a security guard being added, but does call for tighter restrictions including all visitations to be planned ahead of time, usually with a phone call. It also says guards may be added down the road, but must be discussed as part of the upcoming budget planning first:


To the Tuscan School Community,
As you are aware, on December 5th, 2013, an NBC reporter entered Tuscan School as part of a news report on security measures in public schools.  His ability to enter Tuscan School disturbed us all and made it clear that the protocols that were put into place for the safety of our students and staff were not being followed.  Upon further investigation, and from comments from community members, it was evident that this breach of protocol was not an isolated instance, but has happened before at Tuscan School, and at other schools in the District.
The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority.   Lax security is not acceptable. The following measures are being put into place immediately to tighten security measures and ensure that protocols in place are followed without exception.
  1. Enhancing protocols and retraining.  Protocols for authorizing a visitor to enter a school building have been rewritten in detail.  The protocols now include written scripts for a variety of situations.  All relevant personnel in all schools will be retrained in the use of the protocols during the month of January, with repeated periodic training throughout the year.  The protocols will be reviewed at each of the regular monthly Emergency Management Meetings and updated as needed.  The training will include emphasis on a “no exceptions” approach, and the consequences for not following the established protocols.
  1. Limiting visitation to school buildings to prescheduled appointments. Tighter restrictions are being added to the protocol scripts to further limit access to the buildings.  No visitors will be allowed into the buildings without prior notification.  Therefore, parent meetings, early pick-up of children, even dropping off of a forgotten lunch, should be called in and arranged ahead of time so that office staff knows to expect the visit.  Visitors should expect to experience a degree of screening and visitors without prior appointments should expect to be turned away.  In addition to the prior notice, the office staff is being instructed to verify information of the visitor against accessible databases, such as guardian information matched against student name and other information. We therefore ask the PTAs to use discretion regarding the means of distribution of information in school directories to limit access to the type of information that may be used for verification.  In addition, during times of peak activity like drop-off and pick-up or when parents are visiting the building for events and activities there will be adult supervision of students at each of the doors used for entry and exit of the building. 
  1. Continuing to upgrade and enhance security equipment.  In response to the incident at Sandy Hook last year, the South Orange Maplewood District implemented a number of measures to increase security responses as well as reduce building access.  Various construction projects have been scheduled throughout the District including adding a second set of locked doors with buzzers and security cameras to several of the buildings to provide an additional checkpoint, to guard against inadvertent entrance, and to prevent an additional unauthorized person from gaining access when an authorized person is buzzed in.  This had been planned for Tuscan School and the project has now been given a higher priority in response to the recent occurrence.  Security cameras have been added and upgraded throughout the District and lighting upgrades have increased security in isolated areas.  Live monitoring of additional cameras has been implemented in the past few weeks. Exterior notifications have been added to be used in the case of a lockdown both to notify outdoor classes as well as to notify the community for quicker communication with law enforcement.  New security measures have been implemented in individual classrooms as well, enhancing both preventive and responsive mechanisms.
  1. Continuing emergency drills and ongoing collaboration with law enforcement.  We will continue our monthly emergency drills and will continue to work with local law enforcement to improve emergency responses and communication.   These drills include drills for lockdowns, active shooters, lock outs, bomb scares, evacuations, and extreme storms.  Law enforcement officials and emergency planning experts from the two towns and the county will continue to advise us on our efforts and monitor our progress.
  1. Consideration of additional measures is ongoing.  Several additional security measures suggested by the Tuscan PTA and other concerned parents include security guards, greeters, independent security audits, and more extensive capital projects to change the layout of the building.  All suggested security measures including the external security audit and those regarding specific security personnel will be addressed as part of the upcoming 2014-15 budget discussions.
Should anyone witness a suspected breach of security or suspicious behavior, please immediately notify the Tuscan office and please send an additional notification via email to schoolsafety@somsd.k12.nj.us
The feedback and suggestions that we have received from the Tuscan School community are very much appreciated and will be taken into consideration as we work to improve our school security.  We welcome your continued input as we work as a community to enhance the security of our school buildings.
Sincerely,

Brian Osborne

TWO GREAT LIBRARY EVENTS TODAY

Read Play Learn
11:00 am - 11:30 am
Main Library * Ages 2-6 years * Drop In
Come hear some stories and then be creative with Duplos

Family Legos
Main Library * All ages * Drop in
7 p.m.

Families are welcome to drop by Main Library and make their own Lego® creation.  A fun way to relax and spend time together.  Children must be with an adult.

MAPLEWOOD JUVENILE ARRESTED IN SOUTH ORANGE

From South Orange Police:
 
 A juvenile from Maplewood and juvenile from Newark were arrested on Thursday 12-26-13 at approximately 9:30pm after they were observed fleeing the area of the bicycle rack located at the main train station on a bicycle that didn't belong to them. The two juveniles were taken into custody and processed accordingly.

TAKE OUR SURVEY - WHO SHOULD BE MAYOR IN 2014?

The Township Committee will soon meet to choose the mayor for 2014. As our system works, we do not directly elect the mayor, allowing the five-person governing body to do it each year.

Mayor Vic De Luca has done a great job by all accounts since he re-took the post five years ago.

Democratic Central Committee chair Ian Grodman said a meeting has not even been scheduled to choose the next mayor, which means the TC likely will approve De Luca for another year at the Jan. 1 reorganization meeting.

Should he continue?

Take the survey below and let us and the TC know. We will collect votes until Dec. 31, 2013, and post results then, the night before the TC meets to make its selection.


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

STAR-LEDGER PUSHES ANTI-DEVELOPMENT GROUP, AND OTHER POST OFFICE PLAN UPDATES

The Star-Ledger today offers a late and somewhat slanted view of the proposed Post Office project.

We wrote about the plan that is being considered first after it was revealed last Monday and offered the first glimpse of the plan from L&M Development to have a 10,000-square-foot retail space - perhaps for Kings - in the three-story project, with 25 housing units.

The Star-Ledger story seems to rely a lot on Engage Maplewood, an aggressive group which includes one of the developers whose plan was rejected.

See their story HERE. The Township Committee plans to vote on the plan Jan. 7.

We asked Kings weeks ago if they would be interested in moving to the new space, given that they recently made improvement to the existing store. They said they could not commit, but would comsider it.

The current Maplewood Village post office is set to close in March and relocate to a Springfield ave. location, different from the current Springfield Avenue location.

Mayor Vic De Luca told us via email that the township is looking for a possible Maplewood Village space for at least a storefront post office location.
 
This Star-Ledger story follows the recent Wall Street Journal story that properly praised Maplewood's improvements, but glossed over the past controversies regarding the Women's Club sale.

ONE OPEN HOUSE TODAY

Since there is just one open house today, we give them some extra attention:


61 Highland Ave, Maplewood, NJ 07040

For Sale: $519,000

61 Highland Place

Est. Mortgage:
$2,080/mo 
  • Bedrooms:4 beds
  • Bathrooms:3.5 baths
  • Single Family:3,876 sq ft
  • Lot:8,494 sqft
  • Year Built:1958
  • Last Sold:Aug 2000 for $260,000
  • Heating Type:Forced air
  • Open House:12/29 2pm-4pm
  • View virtual tour


Saturday, December 28, 2013

WHAT DOES TODAY'S UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CUTBACK MEAN FOR MAPLEWOOD?

So the federal emergency unemployment insurance extensions will end today.

See the background HERE.

What does this mean for Maplewood?

According to recent government statistics, our unemployment rate stands at about 10%, just above the national average of  7% to 8%.

Many of us have either needed this unemployment insurance or know others who have. And if it is reduced, that means less money for our neighbors and our local businesses.
 

SETH BOYDEN SCHOOL TURNS 100

Seth Boyden School as it looked in 1913  


See the history of Seth Boyden School, which is 100 years old this year. 

For instance, who was Seth Boyden and why did we name a school after him?

Check it out HERE.

NEWSPAPER DETAILS MURDER ALL AROUND US

The Star-Ledger reports:


A violent holiday season in Essex County has grown even bloodier with the Christmas Day killings of a 15-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl, who was struck by a stray bullet as she threw out the trash in front of her Newark home.
The shooting on Schley Street, in the city’s South Ward, killed Zainee Hailey, a seventh-grader at a nearby elementary school and a singer in her church choir, and Kasson Morman, who attended Central High School.
Kasson’s close friend — 14-year-old Abdul "Scooter" Frazier, a freshman at Weequahic High School — was shot in the neck and seriously injured.
Authorities released no motive for the attack, but two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation said it appeared one of the boys had been targeted as the pair stood on the porch of a three-story home in the 100 block of Schley Street. Abdul lived on the home’s first floor, a relative said.
Zainee, who lived on the third floor, simply stumbled into the gunfire as she and her 7-year-old brother carried trash to the street that night, police said. The brother was not injured.
The shooting pushed Newark’s 2013 homicide total to 102 — the highest since 2007 — and marked the latest in a series of high-profile slayings that have rocked communities around Essex County over the past two weeks.
The spasm of violence includes the shooting death of Hoboken lawyer Dustin Friedland, 30, during a carjacking at the upscale Mall at Short Hills; the killing of college freshman Reginald Terry, 18, at a party in Newark; and the spray of gunfire that left three people dead and two others injured outside an Irvington go-go bar shortly after midnight on Christmas Day.

Read more HERE.

Friday, December 27, 2013

PSE&G MAPLEWOOD WORK SCHEDULED

From The Alternative Press:

WEST ORANGE, NJ -    Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSE&G), has announced that upgrades and replacement of an underground electrical transmission circuit in West Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Springfield and Union are now beginning.  The work is part of the North Central Reliability Project. The circuits currently in place have not been able to keep up with the demand and the infrastructure upgrade will provide safer, more reliable utility service for residents and business owners.
The circuit runs from PSE&G’s West Orange Switching Station through West Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Springfield, through Union and into the Springfield Road Substation.  Construction is expected to be completed between January and June of 2013. PSEG says service to customers will not be affected during construction.
As per PSE&G, expect construction to occur in the following areas:

In West Orange: Mt. Pleasant Avenue near Westminster Terrace, Pleasant Valley Way near Rand Drive, Cornell St, and Underwood Dr, and Cherry Lane near Northfield Ave on or about December 26, 2013 – approximately June 6, 2014.

In Maplewood: Cherry Lane and South Orange Ave in the South Mountain Reservation on or about December 26, 2013 – approximately June 6, 2014.

WOTCHA! GOTCHA! IS BACK

Thursday, December 26, 2013

LIBRARY POLAR EXPRESS VIEWING TODAY


 


Books to Movies
All ages * Drop in 

4-5:30pm - Hilton Branch
It was a book first! Come celebrate the season by watching The Polar Express. Movies and popcorn, what could be better?






TROUBLED ST. JOE'S GETS NEW PASTOR FROM SPRINGFIELD



Rev. Worth. Photo: PATCH

PATCH reports Rev. Jim Worth of Springfield's St. James Church will take the helm in the new year, replacing Rev. Eustace Edomobi.

From PATCH:



 Worth, who will join his new parish on Feb. 1, has been serving at St. James the Apostle Church for more than 12 years.  The priest, known for his love of music, said he has " learned so many valuable skills from my pastors and parishioners and the people of Springfield."

"I will miss them dearly, but I look forward to the new challenges that are before me," Worth said. "This is an exciting time in my priesthood and I hope and pray that I will be a good servant leader of the people of Maplewood."

Worth said his inspiration comes from Pope Francis, whom he said "has taken the world by his love and compassion.


Since he replaced former pastor, Rev. Michael Saporito, many in the parish have been frustrated with Rev. Edomobi's lack of communication and oversight, with some pleading with the Archdiocese of Newark to intervene.

A major incident that added to concerns was the March 2012 assault on a church employee, and later word that the parish had fired her for not being able to return to work after her horrible tragedy.



Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

All of us at Maplewoodian.com wish you a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year.







Peace to all!













MIDDLE SCHOOL SHOW TICKETS AVAILABLE

 

From the Maplewood Middle School this week:


MMS Musical tickets are now available online! Click the link below to purchase your tickets for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Tickets are going fast so make sure to make your purchase ASAP!
http://www.mmshsa.org/content.aspx?page_id=301&club_id=821656

BULLY GOV. CHRISTIE MAKES NY TIMES FRONT PAGE

Great New York Times front-page story today on what a loudmouth vindictive bully our governor is.

In 2010, John F. McKeon, a New Jersey assemblyman, made what he thought was a mild comment on a radio program: Some of the public employees that Gov. Chris Christie was then vilifying had been some of the governor’s biggest supporters.

He was surprised to receive a handwritten note from Mr. Christie, telling him that he had heard the comments, and that he didn’t like them.
“I thought it was a joke,” Mr. McKeon recalled. “What governor would take the time to write a personal note over a relatively innocuous comment?” 

But the gesture would come to seem genteel compared with the fate suffered by others in disagreements with Mr. Christie: a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district. 

In almost every case, Mr. Christie waved off any suggestion that he had meted out retribution. But to many, the incidents have left that impression, and it has been just as powerful in scaring off others who might dare to cross him.

Read the rest HERE.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MISSING CHILD IN MAPLEWOOD VILLAGE?

...Scanner indicates missing 8-year-old child, last seen in front of Village Coffee, red hair with a vest....

WHERE TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS SERVICES

If, like many people, you are not a regular church-goer, but want to celebrate Christmas or Christmas Eve, check out this list of local churches.

Got to the link HERE and click on the church that fits your beliefs.

Either way, Merry Christmas Eve!

A VERY TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE CHRISTMAS

Monday, December 23, 2013

TOWNSHIP OFFICE HOURS THIS WEEK

Township offices are open today, but closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


COVER LETTER WRITING SEMINAR TODAY

 

Cover letters are the "You had me at hello" of job hunting. In this workshop we'll draft effective cover letters applying for specific jobs. Participants will need to have typing skills and are encouraged to bring actual job ads they want to respond to.

11:00 am to noon at Hilton Branch

NEW YORK FIRM CHOSEN FOR POST OFFICE REDEVELOPMENT

The Township announced today that the Township Committee Economic Development Committee has recommended a Larchmont, N.Y. firm to be chosen as the developer for the Maplewood Village post office site.

As the announcement below notes, the development would include a large 10,000 square-foot ground-level retail space, possibly for a Kings relocation, and 25 apartment units. It will also utilize the existing post office parking for tenant and other uses.

The TC will vote on the recommendation January 7th.

Proposed layout below: