Page 2 Thursday, June 4, 1998 The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains – Fanwood A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION
STATE TO FUND HALF OF $16.5 MILLION COST
Freeholders Receive Update on Plan For College's Expansion in Elizabeth
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Union County College officials updated their plans last Thursday before the Board of Chosen Freeholders to construct a new three- or four- story building as part of a $16.5 million expansion of the college's Elizabeth campus.
Half of the funding will be returned to the county by the state after Freeholder board approval of the bond issuance for the project.
The building, which will offer state- of- the- art education, training and conferencing centers, will be located just down the street from the existing building on West Jersey Street at Stirling Place.
First unveiled by officials last June, the state has earmarked funds to pay for half of the project under the County College Capital Projects Fund Act.
Serving the county since 1933, Union County College is the oldest two- year school in the state. The college currently has an enrollment of 27,000 students on its four campuses, with 5,000 students attending the Elizabeth campus.
The college, which has had a campus in Elizabeth since 1970, also has sites in Cranford, Scotch Plains and Plainfield.
College President Dr. Thomas Brown told Freeholders that the proposed new structure would be between 75,000 and 80,000 square feet in size, situated near the existing seven- story Lessner Building.
"The building will be constructed to provide an infrastructure to support the advancements in technology that are essential to meeting the increased educational requirements that our society will demand," said Dr. Brown. The new structure will be reconfigured by the Midtown Elizabeth Redevelopment Project.
College officials stated that the current instructional facilities will be enhanced by the addition of several computer laboratories, classrooms and faculty offices to serve existing and new programs at the college.
Among the features of the new building are an information "commons," state- of- the- art conference center and a new home for the
college's Industry Business Institute. The new structure will serve as a "hub" for the county's economic development entities.
The expansion of the Elizabeth campus will also allow the college to increase its outreach programs to the unemployed or under employed by increasing the number of welfare recipients the college presently serves through its Careers Institute. These programs, though expanded in terms of space, will continue to be located in the existing Elizabeth campus building.
Also, with some 1,400 immigrants currently being served, the college will be able to serve more persons through the Institute for Intensive English.
The information commons is planned as a technologically- advanced, computer- based library to support the college's programs in Elizabeth while also serving as a new resource center for countybased businesses and industries.
The new library, Dr. Brown said, will have a "heavy industry basis" which will "appeal to businesses and international trade."
"We believe that the Elizabeth campus can now become a multicampus, urban campus which will support your goals of economic development," Dr. Brown told the Freeholders.
Under questioning from Freeholder Vice Chairman Nicholas P. Scutari, Dr. Brown revealed that the additional building will increase the college staff by 30 to 50 members at a cost of about $400,000 a year.
He said a "good portion" of that cost will be covered through increased college revenues such as contracts from the county and the business community for use of the college's enhanced services and rent charged for space to be occupied by the various economic development entities in the county.
The Elizabeth campus specializes in engineering courses with occupational and physical therapy taught at the Plainfield campus. Liberal arts and business courses are taught at all four campuses.
The first floor of the proposed building is slated to include the lobby, security offices, the library
information commons, an auditorium, a lecture hall, cafeteria which will be used by both Elizabeth campus buildings, a kitchen, maintenance and physical plant and storage facilities.
According to Dr. Brown, the second floor will include the conference center, seven meeting rooms, secretary support services, economic development offices, offices for continuing education for students entering college directly from high school, a dining area and faculty offices.
The third floor will have a "heavy emphasis on technology," Dr. Brown said, with classrooms and technology support services housed on the floor.
The current Elizabeth campus building will continue to be used for support services, student registration offices and a new student commons area as well as the college's engineering and practical nursing programs.
Union County Manager Michael J. Lapolla said in terms of economic development for the county, the expansion of the Elizabeth campus as proposed will be "a definite plus for Union County."
Freeholder Sullivan noted that the additional state revenues "certainly makes the project much more attractive" to the Freeholder board in terms of financing.
The project must still be approved by the college's Board of School Estimate.
Literacy Volunteers To Hold Workshops
The Union County Affiliate of Literacy Volunteers of American has announced its new 1998 Summer Workshop Programs for the training of tutors.
The first is a English as a Second Language Workshop at the Elmora branch of the Elizabeth Library. Registration will be held Saturday, June 6, at 9 a. m. with classes to be held Saturdays, June 6, 13, 27, and July 11, 18, and 25, from 9 a. m. to noon.
There will be another English as a Second Language Workshop at the main branch of the Elizabeth Library. Registration will take place Tuesday, June 16, at 6 p. m., with classes slated for Tuesdays, June 16, 23, 30, and July 7, 14, and 21, from 5: 30 to 8: 30 p. m.
The last English as a Second Language Workshop of the summer will begin at the main branch on Saturday, July 25. Registration will be held that day at 11: 30 a. m. Classes will continue on Saturdays, August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, from 12: 30 p. m. to 3: 30 p. m.
There also will be a Basic Literacy Workshop at the Elmora branch. Registration for that program will be held Wednesday, July 1, at 10 a. m., with classes to be held Wednesdays, July 1, 8, 22, 29; Thursday, July 16; Wednesday, August 5 and 12, from 10 a. m. to 1 p. m.
County Receives $5 Million Grant Under Welfare- to- Work Program
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader
Union County officials learned last week that the county has been awarded a $5 million grant to reduce welfare rolls. Union County has the fifth highest number of welfare cases in New Jersey, primarily in the Elizabeth and Plainfield areas.
The $5 million grant was one of 49 grants awarded nationally through the Department of Labor as part of the Federal government's $3 billion Welfare- to- Work program. The grant will be administered over a three- year period.
The $186 million in federal grants awarded, announced by President Bill Clinton on May 27, are aimed at moving long- term welfare recipients into permanent, unsubsidized jobs.
Under 1996 Federal welfare reform legislation called Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the block grants program created a system referred to as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Welfare- to- Work grants work in tandem with the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Union County received one of only two grants awarded to the Garden State. Hudson County received the other grant of $4,914,297.
During a press conference last Thursday, Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan said he was "extremely pleased with the effort that was put forth by the administration as well as by the Department of Human Resources — Frank Guzzo and his staff," who filed the grant application in December.
Union County's version of the work program, Department of Human Services Director Frank Guzzo explained, will focus on the 500 most difficult to employ welfare recipients. These individuals may face significant obstacles that prevent them from getting off public assistance and into permanent jobs.
The county program, called Jobs Plus, has been designed to address client barriers which include inadequate education or job skills, substance abuse, child care and transportation needs. Participants may have poor work histories, literacy and language barriers or mental illness.
Multi- disciplinary teams will be a part of the program. These teams will be comprised of a project coordinator, social workers, job coaches, job developers and support system service providers from the community.
The county program will also include post- employment services aimed at keeping participants in their new jobs. He referred to welfare recipients as an "untapped labor pool."
While noting that he was "gratified" the county was chosen for the federal program, he said the county will be under a "microscope" as part of a national study to judge participants' performance in job training as well as on the job.
"I guess the best thing about it is that (the county) has the opportu nity to impact public policy," he
said, explaining the county will have the opportunity to prove to the Federal government that longterm welfare recipients can be effectively trained to enter the work
Paul J. Peyton for The Westfield Leader and The Times WELFARE TO WORK.... Frank Guzzo, far right, Director of the Department of Human Services for Union County, makes a point on the county's successful application for a $5 million grant. The funds are part of the Federal government's Welfare- To- Work program. Also pictured, left to right, are: Ernest Bell, Vice President of Human Resources for Wakefern Corporation, Freeholder Chairman Daniel O. Sullivan, Freeholder Chester Holmes, Freeholder Donald Goncalves and Mr. Guzzo.
force. Of those persons who will receive assistance from the county program, most are females in the mid- 20s to mid- 40s age group, who have not completed high school and have elementary school reading level skills.
Thus, according to an outline of the county's Welfare- to- Work initiative, the Federal dollars will be used to fund not only programs to place recipients in jobs through the necessary training but also in maintaining that employment.
"Its capitalizing on what is already there and using these dollars to provide support and services" that government does not already cover.
Mr. Guzzo explained that to begin the process, a needs assessment of the persons in the program will be conducted by the Division of Social Services of the Welfare Office.
The 49 grants awarded were chosen from 600 proposals. The grant recipients represent 34 states.
Attending the conference was Ernest Bell, Vice President of Human Resources for Wakefern Corporation. The corporation, through its ShopRite stores, agreed to pilot the Jobs Plus initiative which will train welfare recipients to fill job openings.
As part of Jobs Plus, classroom instruction to reduce academic barriers to employment will be offered. Intervention by the county to address family substance abuse and related family issues will be provided.
Mr. Bell said Wakefern is "very supportive" of the efforts to transition welfare recipients into "meaningful work opportunities."
Mr. Bell said the Federal grant will enable Wakefern to help provide a transition for persons on wel fare into jobs. He said these persons,
perhaps, have had the desire to work but lacked the skills and opportunity in the past to find such employment.
Wakefern, a retail cooperative supermarket chain operating under the ShopRite name, is owned by 43 independent supermarket owners. Mr. Bell said the company is always looking for "better- trained" employees.
"This program provides the opportunity to provide on- going training to ensure that people have the required work skills to be effective not only in our workplace but in most workplaces throughout out county," he added, stating he hopes the new job recipients will come into their new job with heightened expectations for advancement in their careers.
Mr. Guzzo said he anticipates that more companies will participate in the program following Wakefern's example.
Freeholder Donald Goncalves, Chairman of the Freeholder board's Economic Development Committee and Liaison to the Workforce Investment Board, commented that "the best form of economic development is investing in our people."
Freeholder Lewis Mingo, Jr., said the county's initiatives to date were undoubtedly a factor in the county receiving the grant, noting that the "federal government is not going to throw money away."
"If you don't do the proper things to get positive results, you're not going to be a part of the ball game on a long- term basis," he said.
Among the other grant recipients are the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, the Private Industry Council of Philadelphia, United Way of Central Alabama, The Institute for Responsible Fatherhood and Family Revitalization of Washington, D. C. and the City of Los Angeles Housing Authority.