Tuesday, March 31, 2015

MERYL STREEP SURPRISE VISIT TO MAPLEWOOD

Photo: Joy Yagid
Maplewood turned Hollywood Monday night when Oscar winner and film legend Meryl Streep paid a visit to the Maplewood library to hear her friend, costume designer Ann Roth, speak.

Roth, whose credits include The English Patient, Working Girl and Silkwood, appeared as part of the library's great Ideas Festival.

See more on the Festival HERE.

NEW SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS

The recent announcement that Dr. John Ramos, a veteran of  Connecticut schools and currently head of the Middle East International School in Qatar, was chosen to be the new South Orange Maplewood superintendent has sparked mixed reactions and more questions.

Ramos, who will begin Aug. 1 and pay us a visit April 7, has decades of experience in district administration. But he also had a troubled history at the Bridgeport, CT., district, where he was eventually fired after tangling with some school board members and seeing the poor district taken over briefly by the state.

A good layout of what happened was posted by the Connecticut Post a few years back. See it HERE.

Our school board has been criticized by some for announcing his hiring, which still must be formally approved at the next school board meeting, without any prior warning or input about his selection. He is set to take a five-year deal at $175,000 per year.

His hiring comes at a time when the state salary cap for superintendents is a major factor. It is unknown who else applied for the job, or who did not because of the salary limits.

We spoke with a Bridgeport reporter at the Post who said the district's problems were less a result of Ramos than of poor funding for a very urban district and school board infighting.

Still, his past involvement in such a troubled district and its past need for state oversight raises concerns.

Ramos also runs a consulting firm on education issues. It is not known how much time is spent on it, but some believe that is at least a concern, and a possible conflict of interest. We reached out to the district to ask if this would be allowed in his new contract, that has not been addressed.

Finally, it appears Ramos' letter to the district posted at the district website HERE, is almost verbatim the same letter he put out to residents in Groton, Ct. two years ago when he took a job there. Does that matter? Perhaps not. But it is interesting to think he would not even write up an original version for a new job.

Clearly, this is an appointment that needs more answers before it is completed. The next school board meeting is not until April 27, but a special meet and greet with Ramos is set for April 7.

GETTING READY FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL

If you missed the Getting Ready for Middle School program last week, check out all the information HERE.

The event was for incoming 6th graders and their parents.

See the curriculum below:




MIDDLE SCHOOL CURRICULUM





Students in grades six through eight take classes in mathematics, social studies, language arts, science, physical education, visual arts, music, library skills, technology and health. In addition, most students study Spanish in grades six, seven and eight. 



The comprehensive instructional program seeks to meet students’ academic, social and emotional needs. The curriculum is richly diverse, multifaceted and challenging with a wide range of courses aligned with the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards and the Common Core State Standards. 



Our language arts program is a literature-based model that involves teaching the traditional disciplines of writing, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and reading through the creative use of faculty-recommended literature. Reading and writing are integrated across the curriculum as a cornerstone of all learning.  Students completing Grade 7 Language Arts demonstrating a high degree of proficiency are eligible to accelerate to a Grade 9 English during their 8th grade year.



The instructional approach to mathematics has students acquiring math skills by using them to solve every day, real-world problems that involve numbers. Students are encouraged to use their creativity to explore math problems and develop solutions by asking questions. Pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry are some of the high school level math courses that are introduced during the middle school math program. Students are required to do a great deal of reading and analysis in our math classes. Exceptionally talented math students enter an accelerated program, which gives them the opportunity to take geometry at Columbia High School in their eighth-grade year. 



Science and Social Studies curricula are aligned with the NJCCCS, and provide students with the bridge between elementary school exposure and the challenges of the high school curriculum.  Science is taught using inquiry-based methods, allowing students to expand their understanding of the world around them.  Students are introduced to the use of Data-Based Questions (DbQs) in Social Studies and begin to deepen their understanding of history from a global perspective.



World language, technology, health, music, and visual arts instruction follow a hands-on approach, where students continually build, create, and analyze as they pursue higher levels of knowledge.  Students gain a greater understanding of what they have learned through collaborative educational experiences with other students in group settings.



Students will take Art 2D, Art 3D, Health and Technology during the course of the three years of middle school. In addition, students elect areas of specialization in their related arts program, selecting from semester long electives ranging from world drumming, to Robotics, to Creative Computing and Design.  Band, Orchestra and Chorus are available to all students all three years of middle school. 



Core subject teachers are assigned to teams in each grade and work together to maximize learning and achievement through interdisciplinary planning, led by an experienced team leader teacher, and working closely with the school's administration.  

PAJAMA STORYTIME TONIGHT

Hilton Pajama Storytime


7:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Hilton Branch * All ages * Drop In
Come to Hilton – in your pajamas if you’d like – and hear some stories.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Monday, March 30, 2015

THREE DEMOCRATS, ONE REPUBLICAN FILE FOR TC PRIMARY ELECTION

Three candidates have filed to run in the Democratic primary for Township Committee in June, while just one Republican is running in that primary.

With today' deadline for petitions to be submitted for the primary, incumbent Jerry Ryan and challengers Nancy J. Adams and Greg Lembrich submitted their petitions.

Republican Phyllis F. Scalera was the lone GOP candidate to enter the primary.

The candidates are running for two seats on the TC, which are currently held by Ryan and Kathy Leventhal, who has said she is not running again.

The primary is June 2.

Independent candidates can still file petitions to run in the general election. That deadline is June 2.

TOWNSHIP CLAIMS POST OFFICE PROJECT BRINGS IN $678,000 EVEN WITH TAX BREAKS

Just hours after our poll was posted showing a 2 to 1 opposition to the Maplewood Village Post Office redevelopment plan, the Township issued this notice seeking to promote the tax exemption that will be considered by the Township Committee on April 7. 

It contends the redevelopment project, even with tax exemptions starting at 80% the first year, would still bring in $678,730 over 10 years.

From the Township today:

Information from the Maplewood Township Committee on the Maplewood Post Office

On April 7, 2015 at 7:30pm, the Maplewood Township Committee will hold a public hearing and consider on final passage, Ordinance 2778-15, Authorizing the Execution Of A Tax Agreement With Maplewood Redevelopers, LLC And Granting a Tax Exemption:  5 Year Tax Abatement Pursuit To State Statute. This is for the post office site on Maplewood Avenue.
 
The Township of Maplewood is the current property owner and now there are no property taxes collected from the site.
 
Below is a ten year tax payment analysis comparing the current value of the land and building at the post office site with the proposed new development receiving a five-year tax abatement (PILOT).
 
From 2016 through 2025, the total estimated tax payments on the existing land and building are $678,730. The total estimated tax payments on the proposed new development are $1,009,582, which is an increase of $330,852. After 2025, the proposed new development will generate over $85,000 more in taxes per year than the taxes for the existing land and building.
 
The current land value for the post office site is $696,800 and the value of the building (improvement) is $978,500. The 2014 Maplewood tax rate (municipal, library, open space, school and county portions) is $3.524 per $100 of value. The 2015 tax rate has not yet been determined.
 
The comparisons start with the 2016 tax year. The estimated tax rate for 2016 is $3.70 per $100 of value, which is five percent more than the 2014 tax rate.

Existing Land and Building Tax Payments

SHOPLIFTING, AUTO THEFTS LEAD POLICE WEEK

From Maplewood Police today:


March 23, 2015; Shoplifting; At approximately 11 AM, a male entered an eye glass store on Maplewood Ave and stole approximately eight pairs of high-end frames.
 
March 24, 2015; Theft From Auto; Between 9 and 11 PM, a vehicle parked on Woodland Rd near Durand Rd was entered through an open sunroof.  A purse was stolen from the vehicle along with other items.
 
March 24, 2015; Motor Vehicle Theft; A vehicle parked in the driveway of a Durand Rd home was between 11:30 PM on 3/23 and 6:45 AM 3/24.  The vehicle has not been recovered as of this writing.
 
March 26, 2015; Shoplifting; At approximately 2 PM, officers responded to the Extra Supermarket on Irvington Ave on a report of a shoplifter.  Jeannine Deshommes, age 65 of Maplewood was taken into custody after attempting to leave the store without paying for several items she had concealed in her jacket.
 
March 26, 2015; Bicycle Theft; During the daytime hours a bicycle was stolen from the train station.

RESIDENTS OPPOSE POST OFFICE PLAN NEARLY 2 TO 1

Maplewood residents are opposed to the proposed Maplewood Village Post Office redevelopment plan by nearly 2 to 1, according to our online survey.

We posted our survey 10 days ago and asked residents the simple question: Do you approve of the current planned redevelopment project for the former Maplewood Village post office site, also including links to background on the plan.

Although it is not as scientific as many polls, 50 people responded, with 64% opposed to the project and 34% in favor. 

With a population of about 24,000, that is well above the usual sample when you consider nationwide polls for president often have about 1,800 responses.

See the data below:

Do you approve of the current planned redevelopment project for the former Maplewood Village post office site?


YesNo
0%10%20%30%40%50%60%70%80%90%100%








BUSY PORTION OF MAPLEWOOD AVENUE SHUTDOWN THIS WEEK

A busy stretch of Maplewood Avenue, from Baker Street to Lenox Place, is being shutdown this week for underground pipeline replacement, according to police on the scene.

That stretch happens to include the new post office site, which will remain open.





SPAY AND NEUTER CLINIC TODAY


The Assoc. Humane Society van will return to the Maplewood Town Hall on Monday March 30 and again on Monday April 27. Call AHS at 973-824-7080 x118 or x121 for spay/neuter appointment. Well care such as rabies and distemper vaccination, ear care and microchips will be done on a first come first serve basis in the afternoon

FREE TAX PREP, WOMEN'S HISTORY AND ANN ROTH AT LIBRARIES TODAY

Free Tax Preparation from AARP

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Sponsored by AARP Foundation Tax Aide and IRS.  February 9 through April 15, 2015. Every Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
Call Gail at 973-669-4660 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. for appointment.  Leave clear message for call back.
Documents to bring to your appointment:
  • Government issued photo identification
  • Social Security cards for yourself and all dependents
  • Last year’s (2013) Federal and State tax return
  • W-2 from each employer
  • All 1099 forms, Social Security benefits, Interest, Dividends, Pension, Sale of assets (with basis for gains or losses), Railroad Retirement benefits
  • Unemployment compensation statement (you must download and bring)
  • Proof of any that apply: a. Mortgage interest; b. property tax; c. medical/dental expenses, medical insurance costs, 1095A ACA; d. receipts for contributions to charity; e. records of tax refunds, Dependent care provider information (name, employer ID or SS#); f. Receipts; g. canceled checks or 1098 forms related to continuing education; h. Lottery winnings form.
Bring a blank check for routing informationif you want to do a direct deposit of any refund(s).

Women’s History Month Project

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Main Library * All ages * Drop In
March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate there will be a drop in craft throughout the month where you can color in your own paper dolls of famous women. Stop by the Children’s Room to participate!

Hilton Preschool Storytime

11:00 am – 11:30 am

Hilton Branch Library * Ages 2 1/2 – 5* Valid Maplewood Library card required
No registration required * All children must be accompanied by an adult

Ann Roth visits Maplewood Library

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Broadway and Hollywood Costume Designer Ann Roth will be the featured guest on Monday, March 30 at 7 pm at Main Library. Roth won an Academy Award for The English Patient and a Tony Award for The Nance.
The Maplewood Ideas Festival features authors, architects, innovators, artists and visionaries. Programs are free and open to the public. See the full festival lineup.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

TOWNSHIP EGG HUNT A SUCCESS

The kids and their parents were out in full force Sunday for the annual Township spring egg hunt at Memorial Park.

Kids scampered about and it appeared everyone got some of the many donated eggs.

Also available were cookies and juice for the little ones, as well as a donated Easter toy basket courtesy of Shenanigans Toys, which is now the name of the former Scrivener's in Maplewood Village.

See video of the hunt below:


video
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BOIL WATER ADVISORY LIFTED

From New Jersey American Water:

3/29/2015 2:30 p.m.
Boil Water Advisory LIFTED for Irvington, Maplewood and Millburn

New Jersey American Water has lifted the precautionary boil water advisory for its customers in Irvington, Maplewood and Millburn.

The precautionary boil water advisory was issued on Saturday, March 28 after a loss of water pressure following a 24-inch water main break along Glen Avenue in Millburn.

We are pleased to report that the repairs have been completed and subsequent water quality testing shows the water quality to be safe.

THE BOIL WATER ADVISORY IS LIFTED and it is no longer necessary to boil your water before using.  The following measures are strongly encouraged at this time:
· Run your water faucets for 3-5 minutes to flush your service connection and interior plumbing with water from the service main.

· Empty and clean your automatic ice makers and water chillers.
· Drain and refill your hot water heater if the temperature is set below 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
· Service connections with a water softener/cartridge filters should be run through a regeneration cycle or other procedures recommended by the manufacturer.


New Jersey American Water appreciates its customers’ patience and cooperation while the boil water advisory was in effect. Those with further questions may contact New Jersey American Water at 800-272-1325.

TUSCAN SHOW TEACHERS VIDEO A HIT AGAIN

The great Tuscan School show was a hit this weekend, with all of the kids doing tributes to TV show theme songs.

One of the annual highlights is always the teachers' video.

See it below:



CHALLENGER LEMBRICH MAY MAKE POST OFFICE PLAN A CENTRAL TC CAMPAIGN ISSUE

We first told you Saturday about Greg Lembrich, among the challengers vying for the Township Committee in June's Democratic primary. 

Lembrich, an attorney and eight-year Township resident, was out in force this weekend with some heavy hitter support, former Mayor Fred Profeta and former Township Committeeman David Huemer.

He may also force the former Maplewood Village post office project to become a central issue as he has openly stated he wants to review the current plan for a 20-unit housing/retail mix that has prompted concerns.

Profeta and Huemer have been openly critical of the project.

See more on Lembrich at his Facebook page HERE

The deadline for candidates to file for the primary is end of business on Monday. 

Stay tuned to see who else is running. 

We invite all candidates to send in their information and we are covering the campaign completely.


The Maplewood Democratic Committee has already issued its endorsement for incumbent Jerry Ryan and Challenger Nancy Adams. Incumbent Kathy Leventhal, whose seat is also up this year, has chosen not to run again.


17 OPEN HOUSES TODAY

A long list of open houses today.

Check out your next home or just see what the market is offering.

Full list HERE.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

BOIL WATER ALERT ON UNTIL SUNDAY AFTERNOON

We spoke with a representative of New Jersey American Water who said the water main break in Millburn has been fixed, but the boil water alert remains in effect for Maplewood customers until at least Sunday afternoon.

For more on the restrictions, go HERE.

Will update as soon as we can.


NO PRIMARY CANDIDATES FILED YET, BUT THE RACE IS STILL ON

As Monday's deadline looms for Township Committee primary candidates to file their petitions to run, not one has formally entered the race, according to the Township.

But that does not mean people aren't jockeying for position.

You may recall that the Maplewood Democratic Committee weeks ago had endorsed two candidates in the June primary, incumbent Jerry Ryan and Challenger Nancy Adams. That after eight people had sought the endorsement.

Incumbent Kathy Leventhal is not running for re-election.

Meanwhile, at least one other would-be candidate has set up a Facebook page, one Greg Lembrich, whose page has been endorsed by former Mayor Fred Profeta.

Looks like it's going to be some campaign. The deadline is close of business Monday.

WATER COMPANY ISSUES BOIL WATER ALERT


From N.J. American Water today:



PWSID:New Jersey American Water Issues Boil Water Advisory in Irvington, Maplewood and MillburnIssue Date: 03-28-2015
New Jersey American Water Issues Boil Water Advisory in Irvington, Maplewood and Millburn

As the result of loss of water pressure from 24-inch water main break on Glen Avenue in Millburn, New Jersey American Water has issued a boil water advisory as a precautionary measure only for customers in Irvington, Maplewood and Millburn.
Please note that this is a standard precaution that is taken whenever there is loss of pressure in our water mains. There is no evidence of any contamination.  New Jersey American Water will provide information as to when the boil water advisory is lifted.  

The water main break is being repaired and normal service could be restored to customers by Saturday afternoon. Some New Jersey American Water customers in Irvington, Maplewood, and Millburn may have experienced low water pressure or a disruption of service. As a precaution, New Jersey American has issued this boiled water advisory.
Until further notice, customers should bring their tap water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow cooling before using for consumption; drinking, ice cubes, washing vegetables and fruit, and for brushing teeth. Please continue to boil your water until you are notified that the water quality is acceptable.

New Jersey American Water also recommends the following steps

Throw away uncooked food or beverages or ice cubes if made with tap water during the day of the advisory;
Keep boiled water in the refrigerator for drinking 

Rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in diluted bleach (one tablespoon of household bleach per gallon of tap water) or clean your dishes in a dishwasher using the hot wash cycle and dry cycle.  

Do not swallow water while you are showering or bathing
Provide pets with boiled water after cooling
Do not use home filtering devices in place of boiling or using bottled water; most home water filters will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms; 

Use only boiled water to treat minor injuries.

Please be advised that the company is doing all it can to make sure water is of the highest quality. 

New Jersey American Water will notify customers as soon as the advisory is lifted. If customers have any questions they may call 1-800-652-6987.
Additional information is available on New Jersey American Water’s website at www.newjerseyamwater.com, under the Alerts Notifications section

Friday, March 27, 2015

POST OFFICE REDEVELOPMENT PLAN SURVEY EXTENDED

We have extended the time you can take our Post Office Redevelopment plan survey to Sunday.

So if you have not, cast your view HERE on our anonymous, short and free survey.

Results will be posted Monday and forwarded to the Township Committee.

PORTION OF MAPLEWOOD AVENUE CLOSED

...Scanner indicates Maplewood Avenue is closed between Winthrop and Baker streets, with limited access at Lenox Place....