Friday, June 23, 2017

RESTESTED SETH BOYDEN FOUNTAIN FOUND TO BE SAFE, BUT WHY?

The Seth Boyden School drinking fountain that had been found to have lead levels nearly 30 times the acceptable limit during recent testing was tested again and found to be well within safe levels.

But the school district still has no information on why.

Superintendent John Ramos issued an update Friday that indicated the fountain, initially found to have a lead level of 444ppb (parts per billion), during tests in May was tested again last week and found to be at less than 1ppb. 

State health officials consider a level of 15ppb or lower to be safe.

Ramos issued the findings in a note to parents Friday, but with no explanation for why the levels might have been so different on the different tests.

See that note below:

Dear SOMSD Community,

SOMSD has received the results of retesting the water fountain at Seth Boyden that had a finding of 444 parts per billion in the sample taken in May.  Lew Corp, our testing company, took 2 samples from this water fountain last week, and followed the same State-mandated testing protocols.  Both of the new samples had results of less than 1 part per billion of lead.  The report is posted on the District’s website.

The other 8 water sources which had results above the action level of 15 parts per billion were retested this week, as were the 3 sources from SOMS whose original samples were lost and not included in the original report.  We expect the results of these tests next week.

This summer, we are planning to replace all of the water fountains and/or faucets which had elevated lead levels in the initial testing, and we are installing filtration systems on all of our drinking fountains which provide drinking water or are used for food preparation, as a preventative measure.  Although the replacement of the drinking fountains and/or faucets and the installation of filtration systems are not required by the State, we will undertake these measures to provide additional safety to our drinking water. 

Notes from SOMSD’s June 17th Community Question and Answer Session on Lead in Drinking Water are attached.

We will keep the community informed of the status of our lead testing and remediation, as we continue to work to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

Sincerely,

Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr.
Superintendent


The school district revealed on June 12 that nine drinking water sources at five schools had lead levels above the 15ppb acceptable level, with the Seth Boyden fountain the highest. They held a forum on the issue last Saturday.

But then, as today, there was no explanation for why such levels were found.

Now as the district contends that the most toxic fountain is well within the safe levels, such information is raising more questions that it is answering.

SPRINGFIELD AVENUE GAZEBO MUSIC TONIGHT

                         From Maplewood Cultural Affairs:

Celebrate the rhythms of Brazil and New Orleans

RAIN OR SHINE !

Tonight at 7 p.m.
at the
Springfield Avenue Gazebo
with
Scott Kettner's Carnival Caravan

SO THAT'S WHAT THOSE CAT EARS ARE ALL ABOUT

From Channel 7 and NJ.com this week:


SCHOOL VIOLENCE, VANDALISM AND BULLYING ARE DOWN: SO WHY DOESN'T THE DISTRICT WANT TO COMMENT?

A recent statewide report on violence in schools finds that the South Orange Maplewood School District has seen a decrease in the past few years.

The report, issued earlier this year and just recently posted online, finds that the SO-MA district had 141 incidents of violence and vandalism in the 2015-2016 school year, down from 208 in 2014-2015 and 233 a year earlier.

Among those reports, the number of violent acts dropped from 105 in 2013-2014, to 95 in 2014-2015, and further to 82 last year.

Vandalism also decreased, from 67 incidents three years ago to 34 two years ago and just 20 last year.

Weapons were on the decline as well with 12 found on campuses in 2013-2014, 17 in 2014-2015, and only 11 last year.

These decreases also occurred as enrollment jumped by 120, from 6,752 in 2013-2014 to 6,872 in 2015-2016.

We then chose to look at reports of harassment, intimidation and bullying, or HIB, cases, which have been under scrutiny in recent years. The school board even had a lengthy training session on the topic several weeks ago.

Data supplied by the district found that HIB complaints were on the decline as well, with 95 HIB complaints filed in 2013-14, 70 in 2014-2015, and 37 in 2015-2016. As of May 3, 2017, there had been only 29 filed for this past school year.

We sought comment from the district on both issues on several occasions but they do not seem to want to give a reaction or a reason. Maybe they don't know why.

MAYOR DELUCA OFFERS UPDATED MIDTOWN DIRECT HOBOKEN DIVERSION PLANS

Mayor Vic Deluca this week offered another update on contingency plans for the planned Midtown Direct train diversions to Hoboken during July and August, including jitney expansion, earlier rides and even library business meeting spaces.

During Tuesday night's Township Committee meeting, Deluca stated that:

* The Township would seek to begin jitney service earlier, perhaps 4:45 a.m., to allow residents to make the three direct trains that will be running before 7 a.m. "Our plan is to get people as early to the train as possible," he said.

* New York and Hoboken monthly passes for July and August will be $91, about half the usual price, and will allow for free transfers to the PATH and ferries.

* Plans are being discussed to add a jitney for commuters who want to travel to South Orange for the direct buses being planned there by NJ Transit to New York.

* Police will allow commuter street parking to begin earlier, likely 4:45 a.m.

* The Maplewood Library will be making plans for work and meeting space via reservation and may open earlier to allow such use.

See his entire update below:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

TOWNSHIP ISSUES A "NOTE FROM HOME" TO EXPLAIN YOUR NJ TRANSIT DELAY TO EMPLOYERS

As part of its ongoing efforts to ease the impact of the upcoming NJ Transit Midtown Direct diversion plans that will send most NYC-bound trains to Hoboken, the Township has drawn up what amounts to a "parental letter" to employers that residents can use to explain their lateness or absences.

But if the dog eats your homework, you're still on your own.

See the note, signed by all five Township Committee members, below:

NJ Transit
You can print out your own copy HERE.

WHEN CHS PRINCIPAL AARON WAS A GRADUATE

To help celebrate today's Columbia High School graduation, and the recent tenure of CHS principal Elizabeth Aaron, we reached back to Aaron's high school days to show you what a successful graduate she was in her own right.

An alum of Summit High School (Class of 1988) the former Elizabeth Meola left a great mark at SHS, having been voted Most Likely to Succeed and Done the Most for SHS.

 


Way to go Ms. Aaron, and CHS 2017 grads!

ANOTHER VILLAGE TRAFFIC DISRUPTION TODAY DUE TO POST OFFICE PROJECT

From Maplewood Police:

Northbound traffic on Maplewood Avenue will be closed today between Inwood Place and Durand Road.  Please enter and exit the Ricalton Square parking lot at the north end (Valley National Bank).  There will be two police officers stationed to assist the detour.  This closure is to facilitate connections of the sewer upgrade to the main line.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

POLICE REPORT FIGHT OUTSIDE CHS

From Maplewood Police:

Today, 6/21/17, at approximately 11:35 AM, Officers responded to Columbia High School on a reported fight.  Upon officers’ arrival, no one was observed actively fighting, but there was a large group of students outside of the school.  The group of students was waiting to go back into the school because of the modified schedule today and not because they were involved in a fight.  It was learned that a fight had occurred between two juvenile females in front of the school just prior to officer’s arrival. The individuals involved have been identified and at this time the matter is being handled internally by the school.

TOWNSHIP HIRES OUTSIDE FIRM TO REVIEW JULY 5 POLICE ABUSE CLAIMS

The Township plans to hire an outside investigative firm to review the July 5, 2016, incident in which some Maplewood police were accused of improper behavior.

The Township Committee on Tuesday night voted, 5-0, on a resolution that will retain HillardHeintz of Chicago at a rate of $29,000 to review the incident and policies related to it. The agreement also includes up to $5,850 in expenses for a total of $34,850. No deadline for the review to be completed has been set.

Mayor Vic Deluca referred to it as an "independent assessment" of the incident, "looking at what happened, what policies there were in place at the time, what polices were adhered to, what policies were not adhered to and what we could do better. What we could do so that this would not occur again."

You may recall that police were accused of abusive behavior when dealing with a group of juveniles who had gathered near the corner of Valley Street and Parker Avenue after the Independence Day fireworks that night, July 5, 2016.

The July 4 fireworks were delayed a day due to rain. But after they were held on July 5, many youths gathered at the corner near Columbia High School and the 7-11, sparking police efforts to disperse the crowd. 

Police later reported that four juveniles were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction of the administration of law, resisting arrest, and assault of a police officer.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Police Chief Robert Cimino announced that an internal investigation had been launched into claims that police had
acted improperly during the July 5 events. Cimino and Mayor Vic Deluca said last month that the investigation was continuing, but offered no details or any estimation of when it will be completed.

The ongoing investigation had also blocked release of all police reports related to the incident. Public information requests for copies of such reports have been denied.

In September 2016, Maplewoodian.com reported that the Essex County Prosecutor's Office had launched its own investigation into police conduct. That probe ended in April, according to Township Administrator Joseph Manning, who cited a letter from the prosecutor's office that said, in part, "there is insufficient credible evidence to warrant a prosecution in this matter."

But it failed to exonerate the officers, stating only that the investigation "failed to disclose sufficient evidence to clearly prove or disprove the allegation."

Since then, the police department internal investigation has continued with no word on when it might end or any findings.

See the update on the hiring from Township Attorney Roger Desiderio and the TC vote and discussion below:


HILTON NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION ANNIVERSARY CONCERT TONIGHT

From the Hilton Neighborhood Association:

The Hilton Neighborhood Association 
will celebrate its 22nd Anniversary 
tonight at the gazebo on Springfield 
Avenue near the Hilton Branch Library at 7:30 PM. 
Music will be provided by the SWING TOWN Dance Band, conducted by Ben 
Williams. 

Delicious Annniversary cake and drinks will be served to all. This
celebration is open to everyone. Enjoy the big band music, bring a chair or
blanket, and wear your dancing shoes. 
 
Please note: the event will be held on Wednesday, June 21st, not on Thursday 
which is the HNA's usual meeting date. In case of rain, the event will be held 
at DeHart Center, 120 Burnett Avenue. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

OVER 30 MENS BASKETBALL STARTS TONIGHT

From Maplewood Recreation:

Where: Memorial Park Basketball Courts
When: Tuesdays and Thursdays Beginning Tuesday June 20, through August 31
(no programming on Tuesday July 4)

Time: 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Who: Open to all Maplewood & South Orange Residents over the age of 30
Cost: $100 payable to Maplewood Recreation Department
On site registration: our staff will be at the Memorial Park basketball courts the first two sessions to register participants. 
Program Description:
With the newly installed lights at the Memorial Park basketball courts, this program will give an opportunity for the gym rats and ballers alike who are looking for a place to “run” during the summer. The Memorial Park Courts will be shut down, and everyone that is registered will have the opportunity to use the courts.
Rules:
  •          All games are played to SEVEN by ones, unless otherwise agreed upon prior to the game starting.
  •          Players must call their own fouls.
  •          Out of bounds is determined by the lines of the court, NOT the fence.
  •          Winning team always stays on the court.
  •          In the event that there are players waiting, someone must call “Next”
  •          No fighting allowed. Anyone who is fighting will be removed from the program without refund.

  •          A MINIMUM of 15 participants will be required for this program to run.

TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE MEETS TONIGHT

The Township Committee meets tonight for their regular bi-weekly meeting with a light agenda that includes proposed new parking limits for a portion of Tuscan Road and discussion of the upcoming NJ Transit Midtown Direct diversion plan.

See the entire agenda HERE.

The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Maplewood Police and Courts building, 1618 Springfield Ave., where they will take place through the summer months.

As always there are also two public comment portions where you can ask a question, give them a piece of your mind or just a pat on the back. Remember, they work for you!

SINGER BEA MILLER IN HER CHS PROM ATTIRE

Bea and date Lucas
We told you last night that singer and Maplewoodian Bea Miller was attending the Columbia High School prom.

Her mom, Kim, was nice enough to share some pics of Bea and her date, CHS senior Lucas Peterson, and the other pals they went to the big dance with at Westmount Country Club.

Sadly she has to rush out of town back to the tour circuit. But we hope she comes home again soon.

Bea and her prom pals ready to hit the dance

Bea and mom, Kim Miller

BIG LIBRARY DAY: FROM BABY LIT TO PAJAMA STORYTIME

Baby Lit

10:30 am – 11:00 am

Main Library * Ages birth – 2 ½ *Drop In
Tuesdays @ 10:30-11 am, 6/20 and 6/27
All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Hilton Computer Explorations

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Hilton Branch – Computer beginners and intermediate users can get help with:
  • Using a mouse
  • Creating basic documents
  • Managing an email account
  • Searching the Internet
  • Viewing photos online
The instructor will help with your specific needs. No registration needed.

Subject Tutoring for Grades 6-12

3:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Main Library ● Grades 6-12  ● Drop In
Trained volunteer tutors from the Achieve Foundation of South Orange Maplewood Achieve tutors will be available to assist middle school and CHS students on a variety of subjects. Sessions will be held in the TEEN ZONE.

Create Space – Maplewood Library’s Makerspace is Open!

5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Hilton Branch – Every Tuesday 5:00-8:00 pm, Thursday 5:00-8:00 pm, and Saturday 10-1 pm. Patrons can use Rhino 3D software to build a model, print an object on our 3D printer or use our new color printer or laminator.  There are also Snap Circuits, Squishy Circuits, littleBits and SparkFun kits for the kids. Raspberry Pi single board computers are also available to learn more about computer science.  More information about the Create Space…

Digital Device Clinic

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Get free one-on-one support for using your e-reader, tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device.  The clinics will take place during the Create Space drop-in hours. Open to adults, teens and children. 

Hilton Math Tutoring for Grades K– 7

6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Hilton Branch ● Grades K-7 ● Drop In
Have questions about your math homework? Come work with Danielle Perrotta, who has years of experience working with the school district’s math system, specializing in working with students in grades K-7.

Hilton Pajama Storytime

7:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Hilton Branch  All Ages Drop In  
Put on your comfiest pajamas and join us for stories, rhymes, and songs!

Hilton Computer Explorations

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Hilton Branch – Computer beginners and intermediate users can get help with:
  • Using a mouse
  • Creating basic documents
  • Managing an email account
  • Searching the Internet
  • Viewing photos online
The instructor will help with your specific needs. No registration needed.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"GRASS IS GAYER OUT IN THE SUBURBS" TONIGHT AT MAIN LIBRARY

 7:00 pm
Main Library
Featuring readings and musings by local writers Peggy Hannis, Doreen C. Jones and Robert Shaffron. The women's a cappella group Olympia's Daughters will provide musical entertainment, singing songs of liberation. Co-sponsored by North Jersey Pride. Refreshments will be served. Free -- and open to everyone!

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH UNTIL 8 P.M.

From the National Weather Service:

....THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 354 IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING FOR THE FOLLOWING AREAS ... IN NEW JERSEY THIS WATCH INCLUDES 5 COUNTIES IN NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY BERGEN ESSEX HUDSON PASSAIC UNION...

SINGER BEA MILLER AT CHS PROM TONIGHT

Tonight's Columbia High School prom is set for 7 p.m. at Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, where it has been held for the past few years.

But there will be a little hometown star power with singer Bea Miller, a former Maplewood Middle Schooler, in attendance. While she does not attend Columbia, she is coming as the guest of a CHS senior and some other friends.

Miller, who came to national prominence back in 2013 with her success on The X Factor, has been out promoting her recent collection of EP's and working on music in Europe, according to her mother, Kim, who remains a local resident and activist.

"Bea is taking off right now from a gig in Toronto," Kim said today via email. "She should be landing soon. She spent a few weeks in Sweden at a music conference and writing songs with well-known Swedish writers."

FARMER'S MARKET IS ON TODAY

The Farmer's Market is open again today at the new location, 1848-1852 Springfield Avenue near Yale Street.

Stop by from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. for some eats and treats and fresh produce as always.


APPARENT ASSAULT NEAR CHS

Police responded to a location near Columbia High School this morning on an apparent report of an assault near the corner of Valley Street and Parker Avenue.

Cops on the scene had no details, but at least one ambulance was on location. District officials indicate that the incident had nothing to do with CHS students or personnel.

We will provide more details as they become available.




DELUCA ISSUES UPDATE ON NJ TRANSIT MIDTOWN DIRECT DIVERSION PLAN

Mayor Vic Deluca posted a new update on the coming NJ Transit Midtown Direct diversion of trains to Hoboken for July and August with information on jitney changes, monthly passes and a possible direct bus route to New York.

As we have reported in the past, the transit agency is re-routing all NYC-bound trains to Hoboken between July 10 and September 1, except for three early-morning trains. See information on those HERE.

Deluca's update indicated commuters should buy the monthly Hoboken pass for July to enable cross-honoring with PATH and the ferries; Maplewood jitney schedule may be adjusted to help accommodate the changes to train schedules; and talks are occurring with a private bus company to run direct buses from Maplewood to NYC.

See Deluca's update below:

NJ Transit Update – June 18, 2017

Monthly Rail Passes – If you are purchasing a monthly rail pass for July, buy the reduced Hoboken monthly pass and not the NYC pass.
You will be able to use the Hoboken monthly pass on the NYC trains before July 10th and for the early morning trains to NYC starting on July 10th. The Hoboken monthly pass will be used for cross honoring with PATH, NJ Transit buses and the ferries. You will be able to use the Hoboken monthly pass on weekend trains directly to and from NYC.

Maplewood Jitney
The Township Committee asked municipal administrators to explore starting the jitneys earlier to accommodate commuters riding the very early NYC direct trains (5:04 and 5:49).

The balance of the jitney schedule will be adjusted to meet NJ Transit’s revised morning train schedule. The evening jitney schedule will be adjusted to meet NJ Transit’s revised evening train schedule. 

Direct Buses to NYC
NJ Transit has refused to put buses at the Maplewood Train Station or other Morris and Essex Train Stations other than South Orange and Newark Broad.

We are exploring if we have the capacity to run a jitney bus to take Maplewood commuters to South Orange to board the NYC direct buses.
We also are speaking with a private bus service (Skedaddle) to see if there is a way to get bus service provided from Maplewood. This service will be at a premium price and there will be no cross honoring with a NJ Transit rail ticket. 

PATH Cross Honoring
According to NJ Transit, operational and layout restrictions will allow it to honor Hoboken rail tickets only at Hoboken, 33rd Street and the World Trade Center. NJ Transit rail tickets will not be cross honored at Christopher, 9th, 14th and 23rd street stations.

Parking at the Maplewood Train Station
Commuters with valid Maplewood parking permits will continue to be able to park on the streets surrounding the train station. The Police will issue an operational order allowing commuter parking with a permit earlier than 6am to allow for boarding the earlier trains to NYC and Hoboken.


NJ Transit Ambassadors
We asked and NJ Transit agreed to have ambassadors at the Maplewood Train Station before July 10th and the first week of the Hoboken diversion to answer questions and assist commuters in making the best travel decisions.

We will provide updates as more information becomes available.
Please visit the FAQs NJ Transit has put up on its website

JOB HUNTING HELP AT MAIN LIBRARY TODAY

10:00 am – 12:00 pm
 
Hilton BranchThe Value Proposition: Why Do People Say Yes?
The essence of marketing is the message. The essence of the message is the value proposition. Learn how to articulate a forceful value proposition so that clients, hiring managers or decision-makers can determine how you align with the needs of their organizations. The presentation includes both the conceptual and practical aspects of the value proposition, including its 4-part structure, methods for intensifying the force of the statement, and techniques for deploying a well-crafted value proposition across print, online, and verbal channels.

Presenter Chip Hartman was one of four lead web developers who built AT&T’s first internal news portal, The InfoCenter@AT&T. His business, ChipHartman.com, provides branding and value proposition development services.

Network with other professionals who are currently unemployed or looking for new career opportunities. Meetings alternate between guest speakers and career workshops. Programs are free and open to the public. Subscribe to the group here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

SUMMER CONCERTS ANNOUNCED AT THE GAZEBO


SCHOOL LEAD WATER FORUM RAISES QUESTIONS, CONCERNS; AND WHY IS THE MOST TOXIC FOUNTAIN STILL ON?

District, health and environmental officials at lead forum
About 50 residents and parents attended a lengthy community forum Saturday morning at Seth Boyden School to demand answers and hear new details related to the recent findings of unacceptable levels of lead in several drinking sources at five district schools.

The meeting that included district officials, school board members and health officers from Maplewood and South Orange followed Monday's revelation that nine drinking water sources at five schools had levels above the 15ppb lead limit, including one drinking fountain at Seth Boyden that tested at 444ppb.

The infamous "444" fountain at Seth Boyden was still on
School district officials said that all of the drinking water sources found to be above the limits had been shutdown and were being retested. But when we checked on the Seth Boyden fountain found to have the 444 ppb limit, it was only covered with plastic and was still providing water.

During the meeting, district officials also claimed that setting up lead testing in students was difficult and limited in terms of funding. Maplewood Health Officer Robert Roe, however, said the Township would seek to provide such testing for any family that needed it. A representative of The Lew Corporation of Mountainside, which conducted the recent testing, also spoke.

See those comments below:



Later in the meeting several residents and parents spoke out about the need for more information and asked questions about how and why the testing was done and their fears for children's health. 

See those comments below:


SIX OPEN HOUSES TODAY

Make sure to wish dad a happy Father's Day, then check out your next home.

Or just see what the market is offering.

Full list HERE.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

CHS GRADS RETURN TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Seth Boyden alum back to where it began
Several district elementary schools launched a great new tradition on Thursday for graduating Columbia High School seniors who were invited back to their schools to celebrate their pending graduations.

For many it was the first time
Tuscan alum return to their old school
back since their own fifth grade "clap-out" graduations to middle school seven years ago.


CHS officials helped make the event happen by issuing caps and gowns a week before the June 22 graduation set for next Thursday.  


See one video from Jefferson school where they appeared to re-enact their clap-out from way back below:



SCHOOL DISTRICT FORUM ON HIGH WATER LEAD LEVELS SET FOR TODAY

The Board of Education will hold its much-anticipated community forum today at 10 a.m. on the findings this week that nine drinking water sources at five district schools had unsafe lead levels.

See the background HERE.

The forum is set for Seth Boyden School, 274 Boyden Ave. Experts in lead testing and health officials will be on hand, while free child care is also being provided.

TALK TO THE TOWNSHIP COMMITTEE TODAY AT DEHART PARK

The Township Committee hits a new location for the regular Talk to the Township Committee meet and greet today, setting up their table at DeHart Park, 120 Burnett Ave., from 9 a.m. to Noon.

So stop by, ask a question, give them a piece of your mind, or just a pat on the back.

Remember, they work for you!

Friday, June 16, 2017

SETH BOYDEN PARENT ASKS "WHERE IS THE BLOOD LEAD TESTING"

When Heather Saslovsky saw the email from Superintendent John Ramos that lead had been found in nine drinking water sources from five district schools, she was as concerned as any parent who received the district-wide notice Monday.

But when she saw the most toxic findings -- 10 times higher than any other source --  were from a drinking fountain outside Room 105 at Seth Boyden School, the real fears took hold.

The list of the other eight drinking water sources above the 15ppb (parts per billion) safe lead level included those ranging from 15.3 ppb at Underhill Field to 46.8 ppb in the Maplewood Middle School teacher's lounge.

But the Seth Boyden fountain stood out at a whopping 444 ppb.

Heather was certain that was the fountain for the classroom of her seven-year-old son, Ethan. A quick email to the teacher and it was confirmed.

"I learned the 444 water fountain was outside my child's classroom and used by his class routinely when I contacted school staff," Heather told us this week. "To date no formal communication has gone out about it and, had I not asked, I would not have known my son's room number or that it was right by that fountain. Thus I believe some families remain unaware of the elevated risk posed to some of these specific students."

Ramos did send a special letter to Seth Boyden parents ensuring the that the fountain had been shutdown, but it did not indicate where the fountain was located or which students might be most affected.

Heather said she reached out to her family doctor on Monday and when she informed the physician of the 444 ppb level, she was advised to have her son's blood tested for lead levels.

And she believes all Seth Boyden students should be tested.

"I have consulted two separate doctors and do not believe anyone in this position should be forced to wait for the necessary testing of their child(ren)," she wrote via email. "I am in the privileged position of not having to wait with regard to my child's health, but not everyone is."

According to emails from the district responding to Heather's concerns and requests for blood testing, Ramos wrote, that "the district is doing everything it is legally responsible to do and then taking extra steps out of concern for the children and the families we serve."

School Board President Elizabeth Baker, meanwhile, showed some hope Tuesday, stating in an email to Heather, "in conjunction with our towns, Dr. Ramos and the administration are mobilizing to make developing testing services available and protocols for assisting families."

As of Friday morning no such protocols or testing plans have been announced, although a forum is set for Saturday morning to discuss the issue. Ramos on Thursday said the district is "researching" possible testing but first urged residents to take students to their family doctors.

But Heather contends that is not enough and she cannot wait with an appointment set to have her son's blood tested for lead today. She also says she plans to send the bill to Ramos and is contemplating legal action.

"Lead is serious and dangerous," Heather said. "Dr. Ramos lacks much more than knowledge about lead, he lacks even basic understanding of the need to express empathy and compassion here. He has no vested interest in our children or even their most basic health."

SCHOOL DISTRICT "RESEARCHING" DISTRICT-WIDE LEAD TESTING OF STUDENTS, BUT SUGGESTS VISITING YOUR OWN DOCTOR

The school district sought to update parents at Thursday night's school board meeting on the findings of high lead levels in nine drinking water sources in five schools this week, but stopped short of announcing district-wide lead testing for students.

In comments to residents who attend the meeting, Superintendent John Ramos said 

Based on the recommendation of our District physician, we 
encourage any families who are concerned to speak to your 
family physician and ask about any lead testing that
he or she may have conducted for your children.

We are also researching the possibility of arranging for free 
lead testing for anyone who, for whatever reason, does not 
want to use their personal or family doctor. As a public school 
district, we are held to very tight guidelines about how we are able 
to spend taxpayer dollars. In addition, we have discovered that labs
have strict guidelines about testing as well. So this is proving to 
be more complicated than expected.

We are holding a community Q&A session this Saturday at 10am at 
Seth Boyden. Local health officers and experts in lead in drinking 
water will be on hand to explain the findings and answer questions 
from parents, guardians, students and staff.  Free childcare will 
be available, so we hope that all concerned community members 
will be able to participate.

See his comments and related views from School Board President Elizabeth Baker below:


The district has taken those nine drinking water sources out of service, along with three other drinking fountains at South Orange Middle School after the results of their testing was lost. 

But the district had no new information on why the nine sources were found to have high lead levels this year, but not last year when similar tests were done.

PSE&G SEEKS FIRST RATE HIKE IN NINE YEARS

From PSE&G:

(NEWARK, N.J. –  Public Service Electric and Gas Co. (PSE&G) today filed for a modest increase in residential gas bills that would take effect this fall. If approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, this would be the first gas supply rate increase in nine years.

 While the proposed gas rates would take effect this fall, bills for PSE&G’s residential electric customers are dropping 2.5 percent today just in time for summer. The lower bills are the result of the Basic Generation Service auction held in February for customers who receive their electric supply from PSE&G. The typical customer who uses 750 kilowatt-hours per summer month and 7,200 kilowatt-hours annually will pay $4 less per summer month, or $32 less per year.

Under the gas supply filing made today, a residential gas heating customer who uses 165 therms in a winter month and 1,010 therms annually would pay about $5 – or 3.6 percent more in a winter month. This same customer would pay about $31 more per year.
“We work hard to keep our bills as stable as possible for customers,” said Jorge Cardenas, vice president of asset management and centralized services. “By efficiently managing our gas supply contracts and purchases, we have kept our increase as small as possible.”  

Even with the modest increase, residential gas bills are still 50 percent lower than they were in 2008. Under the proposal, the rate residential customers pay will increase to 37 cents from 34 cents per therm.

“While the cost of natural gas is still historically low when compared to a decade ago, costs for the 2017-2018 period have increased,” Cardenas said. “Overall gas prices are higher due to decreased production levels, as compared to last year. The costs for gas from the Marcellus shale region also are higher due to an increase in demand as a result of several pipeline expansions that are now accessing the Marcellus region as a supply source.”
Cardenas added, “During the past nine years, PSE&G has provided significant savings to our customers as the cost of natural gas has steadily dropped. As a result, even with the proposed modest increase, the typical customer will pay about $824 less per year than they did in 2008 – in addition to monthly bill credits that have been implemented in the last few years.”

PSE&G makes no profit on the sale of natural gas, passing along what it pays to its customers. If the price of natural gas increases, the BPU allows the state’s natural gas utilities, including PSE&G, to recover those costs. Conversely, reductions in the gas supply price may be implemented at any time if market conditions warrant.

NEARLY 300 TRAFFIC TICKETS ISSUED IN MAY

From Maplewood Police:

May Traffic Enforcement Summary
Officers Conducted;
328 Radar/ Speeding Enforcement Details
410 Motor Vehicle Stops
64 General Traffic Details
294 Summons were issued

Thursday, June 15, 2017

ROBERT J. MILLER OYSTERFEST KICK-OFF PARTY A SUCCESS

Organizers of the upcoming third annual Robert J. Miller Oysterfest held their yearly kick-off event Thursday night at St. James Gate.

Volunteers were selling t-shirts and hats and promoting the event, which will be on Sept. 15 this year at The Woodland.

Also in attendance was WABC-TV anchor and Maplewood resident Michelle Charlesworth, serving again as a celebrity bartender, along with Maplewood Mayor Vic Deluca (Below).

See more information HERE on this important fundraiser and skin cancer awareness event in memory of Robert J. Miller, who died from Melanoma several years ago.

FORMER CHS BASEBALL STAR MURPHY PICKED BY ORIOLES IN MLB DRAFT

Jimmy Murphy. Photo:NJ.com
From NJ.com:

SECAUCUS – Jimmy Murphy, a right-hander from South Orange and a Columbia High School graduate, was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the eighth round of the MLB Draft with a 248th pick overall.

Murphy, a recent Fordham University graduate, was 6-7 for the Rams this spring with a 2.59 ERA. He struck out 85 and walked 27 in 93.2 innings.

Murphy, a former Essex County Player of the Year, is a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder. He was a first team All-Atlantic 10 selection.

LOST LEAD TESTING DATA FORCES SOMS FOUNTAINS SHUT DOWN

As the South Orange Maplewood School District continues to deal with the recent revelation that nine drinking water sources in five different schools were found to have unsafe lead levels, it turns out testing data from three other water sources at a sixth school was lost.

Superintendent John Ramos sent a note to South Orange Middle School parents informing them that three water fountains in that school were shutdown after data on their lead levels was misplaced.

See his note below:

Dear SOMS Community,

We have closed off 3 water sources at SOMS as a precaution. We did not receive test results for these 3 sources, since the samples were lost in transit to the testing company. Although the sources did not test positive for lead, we would rather err on the side of caution, so have shut down these sources while we retest them.  

The other water samples at SOMS all tested below the lead action level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency for lead in drinking water (15 µg/l [ppb]).

SOMS is being provided with bottled water for the remaining days of school.

We realize that families and staff will be concerned at the possibility of exposure to elevated lead levels, and we are working to complete the retesting as quickly as possible. We will advise the community of the results for these three water sources as soon as they are available.

Sincerely,
Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr.
Superintendent

This update follows Monday's revelation that recent tests showed some drinking water sources at Maplewood Middle School, Tuscan, Seth Boyden, South Mountain school and annex, and Underhill Field had lead levels above the accepted 15ppm, with one water fountain at Seth Boyden showing a high 444ppm.

As the district seeks to respond to the issue, bottled water has been provided at each school and a community forum to discuss the matter is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Seth Boyden School.