Local Groups and Artists Awarded HEART Grants
The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has announced the first round of organizations and individual artists to receive funding under the 1998 HEART Grant Program. Successful applicants were awarded a total of $24,700.
“This innovative program supports projects related to history, the arts and the humanities,” stated Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan, “and demonstrates our commitment to the organizations and artists of Union County.
“Their contribution to the vitality of our communities is immeasurable,” he added.
The HEART Grant Program, the acronym for which stands for History, Education, Arts — Reaching Thousands, was established by the Freeholder Board to serve as a catalyst in strengthening the county’s community of non-profit organizations, artists and scholars, enhancing their capacity to provide projects relating to history, the arts and the humanities, according to spokeswoman Susan P. Coen.
The Freeholder Board gives paramount consideration to projects that involve children or intergenerational audiences, projects which showcase Union County-based artists or historical resources, projects which complement the educational system, and projects that are collaborative in
nature. “The response to the HEART Grant Program is exciting. The recipients are a wonderful mix of visual artists, a composer of orchestral music, cultural organizations and civic entities,” noted Freeholder Mary P. Ruotolo, who serves as Liaison to the Union County Cultural and Heritage Programs Advisory Board.
“The services provided by these artists and organizations directly benefit the residents of our county and increase appreciation for the arts, our history, and the humanities,” she continued.
“These cultural assets are a vital part of community life, economic development and cultural tourism in Union County,” Freeholder Ruotolo added.
Among the current recipients of HEART Grant funding is TV Cable Channel 35 of Fanwood, which received $1,000 to produce a video of vintage railroad footage.
Organizations or individuals wishing to receive a HEART Grant application may contact the Union County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, Department of Economic Development, 633 Pearl Street, Elizabeth, 07202, or call (908) 558-2550. The fax number is (908) 352-3513. New Jersey Relay users may call (800) 852-7899.
Rahway Sewerage Authority Upgrading Data Processing
In response to increasing technological demands, the Rahway Valley Sewerage Authority Commissioners voted unanimously at a recent board meeting to implement a $185,000 data processing upgrade.
After much discussion, the Authority approved the upgrade which is provided for in its 1998 Capital Project Budget.
“The package is designed to suit immediate and long-term needs,” Frank Mazzarella, Municipal Representative of Clark, said.
“The system is designed to establish a network system that will allow administrative and operational personnel to have shared access to data related to their respective areas as computer technology expands,” said Executive Director, Richard Tokarski.
The system is expected to be integrated within daily plant operations by the beginning of next year.
“The computer network system will enhance data collection and reporting in all phases of the Authority’s operations,” Authority Treasurer Bob Materna said.
The new system also addresses the “Millenium issue.” New equipment will interface within the network, allowing for the exchange of information in a timely and accurate manner, according to Mr. Materna.
Additionally, project installation and integration will be conducted in one phase allowing the Authority to swiftly implement the new system. Once in place, the new system will be ready to accept technological innovations as software programs are modified or made available.
“Implementation of a comprehensive laboratory information management system is one major component during the upgrade,” Mr. Tokarski said.
The system includes several options that will enhance both overall performance and coordinate projects within plant operations and industrial preteatment, according to Deborah Killeen, Laboratory Supervisor.
“The advantages are numerous; most importantly the system will decrease clerical workloads and allow lab analysts to concentrate on technical responsibilities.”
“The lab is an integral part of our operation; therefore, technological analysis tools are an important element of this process,” according to Ms. Killeen.
“This will allow the Authority to provide better service for our 10 municipalities,” Mr. Tokarski commented.
The Authority’s project team has already allotted time for training sessions, initial setup and for personnel familiarity.
Authority Commissioners approved Atlantic Business Products of Trenton, to install the equipment. The Authority’s present computer system will be converted to a local area network or LAN, interface.
Mr. Materna said that the Authority will continue to use its present accounting system for financial reporting because it has “served the Authority well over the years.”
However, this system requires some upgrading which is included in the overall cost of the project.
The plan also includes upgrading the word processing system to a Microsoft Windows environment.
“The Authority has the second lowest household sewer rate in New Jersey and in order to maintain the best possible service, we must implement technological upgrades,” Mr. Mazzarella said.
County to Provide Outreach Services for Senior Citizens
Union County’s Division on Aging in the Department of Human Services has announced its Outreach Services Program schedule for elderly county residents.
“The Union County Freeholders encourage elderly, isolated individuals who meet eligibility requirements to apply for vital services through our outreach program,” said Freeholder Lewis Mingo, Jr., Liaison to the Union County Advisory Council on Aging.
County representatives will be on hand to provide assistance in completing the necessary applications for Gas and Electric Support (LIFE LINE); Pharmaceutical Assistance (PAAD); Home Energy Assistance (HEAP); Supplementary Security Income (SSI); Counseling on Health
Insurance for Medical Enrollees (CHIME), and the SHARE Food Program.
“These services can supplement the basic needs of the isolated elderly and sustain or improve their lives,” Freeholder Mingo added. “Our senior staff members will conduct private interviews on request.”
The Outreach Services Program is open to all seniors of Union County.
Applications will be available on Thursday, August 20, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Roselle Borough Hall, 210 Chestnut Street, Second Floor Conference Room, in Roselle.
For further information on the Outreach Program and other programs offered by the Division on Aging, please call the division’s toll-free number at (888) 280-8226.
Environmentalists Oppose Regional Medical Waste Facility; Hearing Slated for Aug. 27 By Freeholders
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
Environmentalist groups came out last week in opposition to a proposal to build a regional medical waste facility in Linden. Environmentalists have said the regional facility would be the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Although only one person had the opportunity to speak at last week’s Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting, The Westfield Leader and The Times was made aware of identical resolutions from the Arthur Kill Coalition and the Clark Township Environmental Commission, in opposition to what it termed an “infectious medical waste treatment facility.” William T. Fidurski, chairman of the two groups, and members of the Concerned Citizens of Union County indicated they had planned to read the resolutions to Freeholders, but arrived after Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan had closed the meeting to public comments.
The ordinance, if approved, would amend the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan to allow such a facility to operate in the county. The Linden facility would be located at 4700 Tremley Point Road. The proposal met with approval from the Union County Utilities Authority in a 6-0 vote, at its July 15 meeting. The application was first considered by the Authority in January.
According to a resolution approved by the Linden City Council, the facility will receive medical waste between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., as approved by the Linden’s Board of Adjustment and the UCUA. Earth Care Inc., the firm that will operate
the waste facility, has sought to open two hours earlier.
Environmentalist Beatrice Benzott of Linden said the utilities authority and Freeholder board both lack jurisdiction to change the hours of operation. That responsibility lies with the city’s zoning board, she claimed.
As part of a host agreement with Linden, the city would receive free disposal of medical waste in addition to “payment of a host fee in the amount of six cents per pound of processed waste with a minimum payment of $750,000 per year,” according to the Linden City Council resolution.
Ms. Benzott said there is no guarantee the city will receive a host fee because such a fee is not required for medical waste facilities.
The resolution claims that the host fee to be paid by Earth Care “will assist in providing tax relief to city residents.”
Ms. Benzott, a long-time environmental activist from Linden, pleaded with the board not to approve the ordinance, stating that “we’ve never had a regional medical waste facility” in the county. She said such facilities “are not regulated.”
“The impact on the whole county — especially the western end — will be tremendous,” she stated.
She noted a two-page article in a central New Jersey daily newspaper cited the numerous diseases in hospitals which are “running rampant” in the state. She said these illnesses are unidentified in the medical field and thus are considered untreatable.
“That is bi (ological)-hazardous medical waste. This is what they want to bring into our county,” she said.
Ms. Benzott said the regulations on the shipment of medical waste “are not available.”
“And it doesn’t even have any truck route (to avoid residential areas). It doesn’t even need a truck. It doesn’t need a big placard,” she claimed, noting that the vehicles would take the same route in the city used by vehicles headed to the GAF chemical waste facility, in Linden.
Ms. Benzott asked the board to reject the proposal “not for Linden’s sake, but for the county’s sake.” She said the vehicles, which will include vans and other smaller vehicles used to transport materials from doctors offices, will choose the fastest route to the facility, with many coming down Route 22.
“It is up to you (the board) to check into what you’re bringing into your county,” she told the board.
The Clark and Arthur Kill environmentalist groups, through their resolutions, noted the medical waste that would be transported through the county “may serve as a vector for the spread of communicable diseases that may include...AIDS, tuberculosis, meningitis, hepatitis, cholera, typhoid, plague and the Ebola virus.”
They also cited the danger of transporting such waste “into an area of severe motor vehicle traffic congestion.”
“Even minor motor vehicle accidents involving carriers of infectious medical waste could expose vast numbers of transient and resident populations to vectors of communicable disease,” according to the resolutions.
Also, the resolutions state the treatment facility is likely to generate “the release of chlorine products which are also toxic.” After the medical waste products are processed, it would be disposed of at the county solid waste incinerator in Rahway, “thereby creating the potential for the environmental release of dioxins during the incineration process” and other dangerous and even lethal chemicals.
Freeholder Vice Chairman Nicholas P. Scutari, a resident of Linden, told residents that the board has over a month to gather answers to questions before the hearing and adoption vote on the proposed ordinance.
“So far the City of Linden feels that this is something that we should pass but clearly there is plenty of time to gather more information,” Freeholder Scutari said.
“Certainly there will be more research done on this issue before the August 27th vote,” he said.
The eight Freeholders present voted in favor of the first reading and introduction of the medical waste ordinance.
On another matter, the board introduced ordinance on first reading, that amends the county’s administrative code to transfer the duties — currently held by the county’s Regional Environmental Health Commission — to a new Office of Environmental Health within the Department of Public Safety.
The existing Commission said in a written statement that the Freeholders’ plan would “expand the county bureaucracy by assuming control of an autonomous, financially self-sufficient, non-political, membership oriented, NJDEP (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection) certified public agency that has been providing quality services to protect the Union County population and environment for the past 12 years.”
The Commission cited its “long experience” in providing what it deemed “essential services” on a “highly cost efficient” to towns in the county.
“The Commission operates at the pleasure and under the direct control of the municipalities and is subject to local direction and review and has survived only because it has met the needs of the communities,” the commission told the board in its letter.
“Much attention has been given to the concept of integrated services and regionalization as a means towards cost efficiency and accountability. We would contend that this agency has a long history of meeting those goals,” the letter continues.
The Commission also noted that the proposal could result in additional taxes or assessments to towns for manpower and equipment currently provided at no cost.
In other business, County Manager Michael J. Lapolla noted that the entertainment for the county’s first jazz festival, slated for Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13 at Nomahegan Park in Cranford, is expected to be announced shortly. He noted that a stage will be set up for children’s entertainment.
The board approved resolutions sponsored by Freeholder Donald Goncalves which supports an international resolution of the political state of Indonesia and East Timor. The Freeholders approved a different resolution that increases the number of at-large representatives on the county’s Economic Development Task Force from four to eight members.
Also, the board approved a resolution, sponsored by Freeholder Lewis Mingo, which appoints Holly E. Wetscher of Scotch Plains to the Union County Advisory Board of the Disabled.