OUR 110th YEAR – ISSUE NO. 22110 FIFTY CENTS (908) 2324407 Thursday, February 3, 2000 USPS 680020 Periodical – Postage Paid at Westfield, N. J. Published Every Thursday
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Ad Populos, Non Aditus, Pervenimus
A& E............... Page 22 Business ........ Page 17 Classifieds ..... Page 20
Editorial ........ Page 4 Education....... Page 8, 9 Obituary ........ Page 10
Religious ....... Page 11 Social ............ Page 6 Sports ............ Page 13
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Scotch Plains Freshman Rescues Fellow Student in Seton Hall Blaze
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USS New Jersey Battleship Becomes Permanently Housed in Camden Waterfront Instead of Bayonne; Local Supporters Hope for Best By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Navy Secretary Richard Danzig announced on January 20 that the
USS New Jersey, the most decorated warship in U. S. naval history, will be permanently berthed at the waterfront of Camden, rather than on the Hudson waterfront at the Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne as proposed by the state’s Battleship New Jersey Commission.
Gordon Bishop, Media Director for the Battleship New Jersey Foundation, called the judgment a “political decision.”
“It wasn’t based on the fact that the Battleship Commission had 75 to 85 percent support statewide . . . in the public and private sector,” added Mr. Bishop. “They (Home Port Alliance) can brag about their outofstate support. Look what they have in New Jersey.”
He spoke to the influence of Ed Rendell, a former twoterm Mayor of Philadelphia and present Chairman of the National Democratic Party. “If Philadelphia hadn’t
partnered with Camden, they never would have gotten it.”
The Navy, however, praised the contents of the 1,700page site application from the Board of Trustees of the Home Port Alliance. The 12member board was cofounded by Senator John J. Matheussen (R4th), Camden County Freeholder Patricia Jones and Camden Mayor Milton Milan.
In its coverage of the Navy decision, the Camden Courier Post portrayed the decision as a victory for south Jersey that goes beyond the battleship to the opportunity to thumb its nose at the north.
For the people behind the scenes, however, those who have worked passionately for years to bring home the Battleship New Jersey, it was never about location.
It was about preserving a piece of history and returning a namesake to its home state. It was about patriotism and taking ownership of a symbol of freedom and service to country. It was never about north versus south. It was never about politics.
That is why some of the comments reported in the Courier stung people like retired Navy serviceman William W. Sheppard and his wife, Carol.
“After some of the real good, even super, things we did, we’re wondering, do we have a place in its future?”, wondered Mrs. Sheppard.
The Sheppards, along with hundreds of members of the Elks, Masons, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America, sponsored or participated in 180 events over the past three years to raise awareness and money to bring the battleship home as members of the Battleship New Jersey Foundation.
From their Fanwood home, the Sheppards spearheaded the battleship Commemorative Sales program. They supported the Flags Across America program that flies 24 speciallymade American flags (manufactured and donated by Annin Flag Company) at events around the country to promote awareness of the battleship.
They credit veterans, students, schools, women’s clubs, libraries and Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) members for responding to the call to action wherever they went.
Guidelines Explained For BOE Candidacies
By MELISSA A. BETKOWSKI
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Monday, February 28 is this year’s deadline to apply to be a school board candidate in the state of New Jersey.
According to Mike Yaple, spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA), school boards “chart the educational path for your community.”
Potential candidates must be able to read and write, must be U. S. citizens with at least one year of residence in the district where the individual wants to be considered a candidate for the board. Also, Mr. Yaple said, the individual must have “no contract with or claim against the board. He or she must not be the mayor or a member of another municipal governing body.” Finally, the individual must be a registered voter.
The NJSBA, Mr. Yaple said, holds candidate briefings throughout the state before elections. These briefings help prepare the candidates for the task of being a school board
member. One will be held on Monday, March 13, at 7: 15 p. m. at North Brunswick High School on Raider Road in North Brunswick.
Mr. Yaple said that most candidates think that they will be working with the students and performing tasks like choosing books, “when in reality they spend their time on the big picture, setting goals for the district.” He said there are three main areas of involvement for the board of education — budget, contract negotiations and superintendent evaluations, which are all required by law.
“It is the board of education’s job to provide the goals for the district and the superintendent’s job to carry out the day to day workings of the district,” he said.
The board of education, Mr. Yaple said, is the “what, not the how.”
“They provide parameters and goals and approve the budget and curriculum,” he added.
Candidates, he said, are not expected to be educational experts.
Man Attempts to Lure Two Students Into Car
CONTINUED ON PAGE 12
Courtesy of the US Navy
FINDING A HOME… The USS New Jersey Battleship, known as the most decorated warship in U. S. naval history, recently found its permanent home in the Camden waterfront. The state’s Battleship New Jersey Commission had also proposed the waterfronts of Hudson and Bayonne as possible home bases for the battleship.
Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader TO SWIM OR NOT TO SWIM… The ducks at Mindowaskin Park in Westfield take a short swim in the pond’s brisk waters, while others decide to enjoy a skate with their orange webbed feet. These winter activities will be short lived as temperatures in the mid40’s are in the forecast for this coming weekend.
Residents Oppose Broad Subdivision; Concern Over Sprinkler Delays Parcel Sale
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
The subdivision of an East Broad Street lot occupied by an 18thcentury singlefamily home into three
buildable Karen Terrace lots has continued to draw the ire of some neighbors on the street. A developer had said he plans to move an existing 200yearold home
on the Broad Street property to one of the new Karen Terrace lots.
Lori Zivny of 3 Karen Terrace told the council that she “can’t understand how one East Broad address can turn into three Karen Terrace addresses.” Karen, located off East Broad, currently has five homes.
The Planning Board on January 3 approved the subdivision of 1049 East Broad Street, a oneacre parcel of land purchased by private developer Michael Mahoney.
Mrs. Zivny told the council she is continuing to investigate and has requested the complete history of the rezoning of the East Broad lot, including the names of those who served on the Planning Board and Town Council at the time.
She also said her offer to fund $10,000 for the town to buy back the property has “fallen on deaf ears.”
Town Attorney William S. Jeremiah, 2nd noted that the rezoning of that section of town was done in 1995 when Westfield’s Master Plan was redrafted. A second analysis was done by the town’s professional planner two years ago.
Mr. Jeremiah explained that the Planning Board conducted a complete townwide study to determine if there were lots in the town that were zoned inappropriately. The East Broad lot, he said, was determined to be correctly zoned.
He said the three lots that will be created from 1049 East Broad Street, the lot in question, will be “very consistent in size and shape with lots that are in the immediate vicinity
which would indicate that it (1049 East Broad) is in the proper zone.”
The Westfield Leader has reported that the three lots would be roughly 80 feet wide by 150 feet deep.
Mr. Jeremiah explained that if the town required the East Broad lot to remain the size it was, in his legal judgment, this action would be considered “reverse spot zoning,” resulting in the placement of more zoning burdens on the lot.
“This lot is appropriately zoned based upon the size and the configuration of the zone in which it is located,” he said, noting the existing lot and the three new lots which will be created by the approved subdivision all conform to town zoning laws.
“So it was my opinion that there was no mistake made. It was looked at carefully. It was in the right zone,” Mr. Jeremiah explained.
The attorney said the Master Plan was redrafted to address a high number of nonconforming lots for which homeowners had sought variances
David B. Corbin for The Westfield Leader HEADING TO THE SOUTHLAND… Westfield High School football quarterback Chris Giacone, seated, prepares to sign his letter of intent to Mississippi State University. Standing, left to right, are: Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Ed Tranchina, Chris’ brother Mario and Mario Giacone. Chris received a full scholarship.
By DEBORAH MADISON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
When the fire alarms sounded at Seton Hall University’s Boland Dormitory at 4: 30 a. m. on the morning of January 19, Scotch Plains native and Seton Hall freshman, Marissa Lorenz, and her friend assumed it was just another false alarm.
Since the beginning of the school year, more than 18 false alarms had been erroneously set off as pranks by students, according to various news reports.
“Many students had learned to just ignore them,” Marissa stated.
However, Marissa and Justin Fox, who were in her dormitory room at the time, became aware that something was terribly wrong when they heard screams coming from the outer hallway. Marissa’s dormitory room, which she shared with two other roommates, led into a common room, which in turn led into the residence hall’s outer hallway.
When Marissa, a lifelong Scotch Plains resident and 1999 Scotch PlainsFanwood High School graduate, opened the door of her dormitory room, she and Justin saw thick billows of black smoke pouring in through the top of the common room door from the hallway.
The two then rushed to open the common room door to discover thick black smoke filling the hallway from floor to ceiling.
“People were screaming and running in every direction,” Marissa recalled during a recent interview with The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
“Everyone was in a panic and it was total chaos.”
“We quickly shut the door to prevent the black smoke from pouring into the common room,” Marissa related.
As she rushed back into her dorm room to awaken her two sleeping
roommates, Justin said that he heard someone moaning and yelling for help in the outer hallway. The two grabbed sweaters to cover their noses and they opened the common room door to the hallway. On her hands
By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Police and school authorities remained on the alert this week following a report that an unidentified man attempted to lure two youngsters into his car as they were walking home from Roosevelt Intermediate School last Friday.
Lieutenant John M. Parizeau of the Westfield Police Department said the suspect approached the two female students shortly before 3 p. m. as they were walking along Clark Street near Dudley Avenue.
The man was described as white, between 40 and 50 years old, with slicked back gray hair and wearing a blue hat. He was said to be operating a light blue, fourdoor Ford, according to the lieutenant. The stranger lowered the rear passenger
window of his car and asked the youngsters if they wanted a ride, Lieutenant Parizeau revealed. When they ignored him, the man tried twice more to coax them into the car, saying “want a ride? Get in,” the lieutenant added.
The girls kept walking to the intersection of Clark and Dudley, where a crossing guard waved the vehicle through. According to Lieutenant Parizeau, the guard had seen the suspect talking to the girls but did not know at the time what the man had said to them. The girls reported the incident to
HAVE YOU SEEN HIM?… This is a composite sketch prepared by the New Jersey State Police based on the description of a man who attempted to lure two Roosevelt Intermediate School students into his car on Clark Street last Friday.
Page 12 Thursday, February 3, 2000 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 According to Mr. Sheppard, part of the charge to members of the Battleship New Jersey Foundation was to remain “siteneutral” regarding a permanent berth for the USS New Jersey.
Originally, there were several sites under consideration. The preferred location, a berth at Liberty State Park, was so cost prohibitive that the Battleship New Jersey Commission ultimately recommended the Military Ocean Terminal site in Bayonne across from New York City as the most viable, if temporary, alternative. The door was left ajar for a future move to Liberty State Park.
Remaining siteneutral, the grassroots movement of the Foundation focused its message on the importance of bringing the ship home and preserving it as an educational museum — a lasting tribute to every branch of the armed services.
Despite these efforts, there has been little, if any, mention of the little people from the north in the media coverage that followed the Navy Secretary’s decision.
In fact, Mr. Sheppard said he contacted the office of Congressman Bob Andrews (D1st) as soon as he heard the news about Camden, knowing that those who supported the Hudson waterfront site would be grossly disappointed.
“Please get something positive out for the people of north Jersey,” he asked.
Despite this, Mrs. Sheppard said, “We think they’ll (Home Port Alliance) do a good job. It’s a topofthemark application, and sounds like a really glorious plan. It’s just personally disappointing... we were so convinced that (Hudson waterfront) was the right place for it to be.”
Mr. Sheppard is amazed by the number of phone calls he has received since the Navy’s announcement.
“They’re calling us and we’re nobody,” he said. They want to know, “What’s next?” He is disappointed that “the personal end of the Battleship New Jersey effort has been a low priority. (It became) a fight between two sides and it left the people out.”
As if to counter those kinds of concerns, Senator Matheussen emphasized the Battleship New Jersey was really awarded to the state, “to all the people of New Jersey.”
He added, “The tremendous grassroots support (for our plan) in south Jersey encompassed the whole state when it came to supporting the ship.”
“The New Jersey Battleship Foundation has been a very neutral group of folks who worked very hard in creating awareness and generating funds,” he emphasized. “We want to include and invite everyone to participate as they have before and in new ways as the Home Port Alliance
takes over care of the ship. We hope to keep everyone involved.”
The Alliance plans a $13 million to $15 million project to transform the USS New Jersey into a floating memorial museum. Once the ship actually opens to the public, it will cost nearly $4 million to operate the museum during the first year.
In addition to restoring the ship itself, the Alliance must build a 650foot pier and 400foot walkway that connects the pier to the shore.
According to retired United States Navy Capt. David McGuigan, President of the Alliance and one of the authors of the application, the walkway will trace the history of the battleship in keeping with the Alliance’s catchphrase, “birthplace to berthplace.”
After its December 7, 1942, launch from Philadelphia, the USS New Jersey
served in the Pacific during World War II and, later, in Korea, Vietnam and Beirut.
The decision represents a huge victory for the Home Port Alliance, whose general membership includes government, civic and business interests who expect the battleship to play a major role in the revitalization of Camden.
Too, there is emotional attachment in the region to the ship as it was built and launched directly across the river. Some of the individuals or families of the men and women who built her still reside in the area.
USS New Jersey Battleship Becomes Camden Resident
“They will be surrounded by educational experts.” “It can be a tough job, but very rewarding,” Mr. Yaple said. “It takes a serious commitment, especially of time. It’s more than just attending meetings twice a month.”
He said that all board of education members are required to attend a training weekend, sponsored by the NJSBA within the first year of being elected to the board.
Mr. Yaple noted that board of education members are elected officials, “They must take a position and defend it.” He also noted that boards should be representative of their communities.
Interested parties should contact their local school board or district office and obtain an NJSBA Candidate’s Kit. The kit contains information about things from the legal requirements to campaign contributions. It also contains information about the School Ethics Act and a sample nominating petition.
More information is available by contacting the NJSBA at (609) 2785202 or (888) 88NJSBA.
Freeholders Applying to State For Grant for Lighted Crosswalk
By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
WESTFIELD — The Union County Freeholder Board is applying for a grant to fund a lighted crosswalk at Temple EmanuEl on East Broad Street in Westfield.
As reported in The Westfield Leader last May, the lights are a relatively new technology called InPavement Flashing Lights Crosswalks Warning System. A row of intense amber flashing lights is automatically displayed when pedestrians walk between the crosswalk lines.
The system is to be installed in the crosswalk on East Broad Street near Jefferson Avenue and will cost a total of $17,300.
The Freeholder board approved an application during its January 27 meeting seeking a $12,500 Highway Project Grant from the New Jersey Division of Highway and Traffic Safety. The Town of Westfield has been asked to match the additional $4,800 needed to fund the project.
Westfield Mayor Thomas C. Jardim said some details of the grant and how much Westfield will actually match are still being worked out.
He credited the Freeholders, however, with doing “a very good job” of working on plans to improve that intersection.
“We are very grateful,” he said. The intersection was the site of a fatal accident in the spring of 1999 when a 23yearold woman was killed while trying to cross East Broad Street from Jefferson Avenue, opposite the temple. Authorities later said the woman, a nanny employed by a Westfield couple, was on her way to pick up a child at a program at the temple, but did not use the crosswalk.
The idea for the lighted crosswalk was first discussed last spring when The RBA Group, a consulting firm hired to conduct a traffic calming study for the town, revealed some of the devices it was
considering. The system, which is in use in only one other municipality in New Jersey, would warn motorists that a pedestrian had stepped into the intersection. It uses extremely thin lights embedded into the surface of the roadway on both sides of the crosswalk.
Flight Light, Inc., of Sacramento, Calif., developed the system. It is currently in use in a pilot project in the Burlington County municipality of Pemberton.
A button mounted on a signpost or stanchion on the corner activates the lights. When a pedestrian wants to cross the road, he or she presses the button and activates the blinking lights to warn motorists driving east and west on East Broad Street that someone is in the crosswalk, a freeholder spokesperson explained.
The lights, which flash for 30 to 45 seconds, are thin and sturdy enough that snow plows, street sweepers, salt and sand will not dislodge them. Passing traffic also will not damage them, the spokesperson said.
“This is a pilot program, and we’re pleased to have gotten permission from the State of New Jersey to begin using it here in Westfield,” said Freeholder Mary P. Ruotolo, who lives in Westfield. “By initiating this innovative system, we can prevent accidents and injuries on this busy roadway.”
County officials hope that the project can be completed by the fall. If state funds are not approved for the project, however, officials say that they will set aside money in the county’s year 2000 budget to pay for the lights.
Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan added, “If this system is effective, it is something we would consider installing at other busy intersections throughout the county.”
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School Bd. Candidacy
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Residents Oppose Proposed Broad Street Subdivision
Ingrid McKinley for The Westfield Leader BREAKING THE ICE… Lifelong Westfield resident, Charlie Matino, 82, takes an ice pick to the streets to try and clear his driveway from the mounds of ice that accumulated from the recent cold weather and snow storms.
from the Board of Adjustment. He said the Planning Board’s goal was to make all lots in town consistent within their respective zones.
In response to a question from Second Ward Councilman Matthew P. Albano, a member of the Planning Board, Mr. Jeremiah said the jurisdiction for granting subdivisions lies completely with the Planning Board.
He said neighbors have the legal right to appeal the board’s decision to approve the application. That appeal would be made to the Superior Court in Elizabeth.
He said the board’s decision could be overturned if a judge determines the board acted “arbitrarily, capriciously or unreasonably.”
Leo Sobell of Woodland Avenue, a resident since 1953, said he “strongly supports” Mrs. Zivny’s opposition to the East Broad subdivision.
“I think it is a miscarriage of justice,” Mr. Sobell remarked, adding that to allow the subdivision to go through would “destroy the character” of the town.
He said the “only motivation” by Mr. Mahoney is “to make money, not to do anything to help our town.”
Charles Woodward of Woodland Avenue said he believes it is a “big mistake to allow a 1785 home to be moved around.”
“I worry about the character of the town being destroyed by a 1785 house being allowed to be moved onto a 50foot lot on Karen Terrace,” he told the council. “I think it is a mistake for the Town Council to allow that to happen.”
Town Engineer Kenneth B. Marsh said now that the Planning Board has approved the subdivision, the next action is for the developer to obtain the proper building permits from the Building Department. The Planning Board will vote to memorialize last month’s action this Monday, February 7, at 8 p. m. in the Town Council Chambers of the Municipal Building.
Per an inquiry from Councilman Albano, he said the council’s only action will be on a request for a permit to demolish an existing detached garage on the property.
Michael Karp of 5 Karen Terrace, who moved to town from Colorado last summer, said he liked the trees in the neighborhood, which he described as a “lovely, small culdesac.”
Mr. Karp said he was “strongly concerned” about plans to remove trees. Mr. Marsh said the developer must submit a “tree preservation plan” as part of the building permit application process.
In addition, Mr. Karp said he was concerned about the addition of three more driveways on top of the five already situated on Karen Terrace.
Mayor Jardim said he is opposed to the type of subdivisions whereby additional homes are placed on property formerly occupied by one home.
“We are quite powerless, as a matter of law, to do anything on this particular subdivision,” he told Mr. Karp.
However, Mayor Jardim vowed that, “we will not let this particular issue (subdivisions) die.”
On another matter, the council postponed action on a request for a vacation of the town rightofway on Breeze Knoll Drive, which would enable two contiguous property owners to purchase the parcel.
Westfield attorney James B. Flynn, representing Dr. Albert B. Thrower of 18 Breeze Knoll Drive, said his client was concerned that if the vacation goes through, his neighbor, Dr. David Lichtenstein of 14 Breeze Knoll, will move his driveway onto his portion of the parcel being vacated by the town.
Mr. Flynn said Dr. Thrower installed an underground sprinkler system with the town’s permission on the townowned parcel 10 years ago and therefore is concerned that major improvements being done to his neighbor’s property will force relocation of the sprinkler. Dr. Thrower, Mr. Flynn said, also wants trees on the parcel to remain.
Mr. Jeremiah said it was his understanding that Dr. Lichtenstein’s reason for requesting acquisition of the parcel was to reconfigure the driveway. When a vacation is approved, the parcel is split evenly between surrounding property owners.
Mr. Flynn suggested that the ordi nance approving the transfer of land be
clarified so that there would be no structure in the portion of land in the easement area and that no trees would be removed.
In addition to a new driveway, Dr. Lichtenstein’s plans call for a new garage and landscaping.
The two residents and their attorneys agreed to the postponement of the vacation of the land until Mr. Jeremiah and the council’s Building and Town Property Committee has reviewed the latest information and discussed how the governing body should proceed in the matter.
Charles Winecsky of Linden, Dr. Lichtenstein’s attorney, said Dr. Thrower’s house is located in Mountainside and that the Town of Westfield approved the driveway from Breeze Knoll through town property to give Dr. Thrower better access to his home.
Dr. Lichtenstein noted that the prior owner of his property also had installed a sprinkler.
On another matter, officials announced that the town’s grant request from the state for a $200,000 traffic calming program for Rahway Avenue has been approved.
Also, Craig Stock of Oak Avenue, a landscape architect in Westfield, was named by Mayor Jardim to fill a vacancy on the Board of Architectural Review.
William A. Burke for The Westfield Leader A SOLEMN OATH… Claire Lazarowitz took the oath of office from Town Clerk Bernard A. Heeney to serve as the Third Ward Councilwoman during Tuesday evening’s Council Meeting. Ms. Lazarowitz’s son, Jake, looks on proudly. Climbing Wall at Y Dedicated
In Memory of William Wilson LOVING TRIBUTE… Family members of the late William Wilson gather at the
Westfield Y January 23 for the dedication of a new climbing wall in his memory. Mr. Wilson was remembered for his many contributions to the community as a Y volunteer. Pictured, left to right, are: back row, Don and Jeanmarie Keenan, Mr. Wilson’s soninlaw and daughter; his wife, Lucy Wilson, and son and daughterinlaw, John and Pat Wilson. Grandsons Donny, left, and Patrick Keenan are pictured in front.
www. goleader. com!
WESTFIELD — Honoring his many years of dedicated service to the community and youth programs, the Westfield Y held a ribboncutting ceremony on January 23 to officially open a new climbing wall named in memory of William Wilson, a Westfield resident.
The wall, called Mount Wilson, was made possible through contributions such as the one made by the Y’s Men’s Club, of which Mr. Wilson was a longtime member.
During a speech given before a crowd which included Mr. Wilson’s family, members of the Men’s Club and current Y members and their families, Stan Kaslusky, Executive Director for the Y, described how
appropriate it was to honor Mr. Wilson in the presence of so many children.
“Bill loved to work to benefit all children,” remarked Mr. Kaslusky, who recalled the many years Mr. Wilson devoted to the annual Y Christmas tree sales and the numerous youth programs which benefited from the holiday fundraiser.
According to Westfield Y records, Mr. Wilson sold Christmas trees during the annual fundraiser for 30 years and received the Golden Volunteer Award from the Y in 1993 for his efforts.
He also served on the Board of Directors for Camp Spears/ Elgibar, a YMCA Camp in the Poconos, for many years.
His son, John Wilson, said his father was also a Deacon and Elder for The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, as well as a Trustee for the Westfield Historical Society. Mr. Wilson was also a board member of the Westfield Neighborhood Council and the Westfield Community Center.
The Westfield Y’s Men’s Club has been serving the Y and other community organizations for more than 50 years. Moneys from past Christmas tree sales have not only funded the climbing wall but have also gone towards renovations at the facility as well as acquisition of new fitness equipment.
The Y’s Men’s Club has also contributed to other facilities and groups such as Children’s Specialized Hospital and CONTACT We Care. The Y is located at 220 Clark Street in Westfield.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
Students Report Attempt By Man To Lure Them in Car
the mother of one who was on her way to pick them up. She then contacted both the Westfield Police Department and Roosevelt School, according to an advisory letter sent home to parents from local school principals on Monday.
A similar incident occurred on December 6, when a man approached a male student from Franklin School who had also been walking on Clark Street. In that case, the suspect had told the child, “Get in the car. Your mother wants me to drive you home because it’s too wet.”
The youngster ignored the man and continued walking home. He reported the incident to his mother, who then called police.
Lieutenant Parizeau said the suspect in the earlier incident was described as a white male in his 40s, with white hair and a white mustache. He was driving a fourdoor white vehicle.
Although the descriptions of the suspect and the car are different, police are continuing to investigate whether the two incidents may be linked. Lieutenant Parizeau urged anyone who is approached in a similar manner to attempt, if possible, to obtain a license plate number.
Yesterday morning, police followed up on a report of a suspicious person driving a van who had approached a girl near Roosevelt School to ask for directions. Authorities tracked the man to Cumberland Street, where he voluntarily came to police headquarters for questioning, Lieutenant Parizeau said. The man was subsequently released after it was determined that he had committed no wrongdoing.
Two other attempts to lure youngsters into cars were reported in Summit during November. In one case, the driver was described as a blonde man in his 20s driving a rusty red sedan. The second incident involved the same type of car but a with a different description of the driver.
Just as they did in December, principals of individual Westfield schools advised parents of the latest incident through a letter and encouraged them to review strategies with their youngsters for coping with “stranger danger,” a spokeswoman for Superintendent of Schools Dr. William J. Foley told The Westfield Leader on Tuesday.
The Westfield Police Department presents safety assemblies each September in the local schools to instruct children on how to protect themselves in dangerous situations. Youngsters are told not to accept rides from strangers and, if they are approached, to quickly move away and report the incident immediately to an adult.
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