A WATCHUNG COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PUBLICATION The Westfield Leader and THE TIMES of Scotch Plains Fanwood Thursday, April 15, 1999 Page B9
CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK
From the Desk of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders
1999 Freeholder Programs Aimed At Pupils, Downtowns; Providing Access To Immunizations
By NICHOLAS P. SCUTARI
Nicholas P. Scutari of Linden was elected to a three-year term on the at-large Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1996. He is serving as Chairman this year after holding the Vice Chairmanship in 1998.
In Union County, nearly half a million people live in an area just over 100 square miles. It is a county of great diversity, where urban centers like Elizabeth and Plainfield co-exist with natural resources like the Watchung Reservationandour5,500 acres of county parks.
The Board of Chosen Freeholders is the nine-member elected body that sets the policies and direction of Union County Government. We are responsible for ensuring economic growth in the county's 21 municipalities, protectingthecounty'snaturalresources andensuringthatcounty programs and services are delivered in an efficient, effective manner.
As Chairman of the Freeholder Board, I am proud to say that we plan to deliver a county budget with a slightdecrease overlastyear'sspending plan the third such cut in three consecutive years. This should result in a reduction in the county portion of property taxes for most residents. We plan to do so without any reductions in the quality or scope of services the residents of Union County expect.
Union County provides a wide array of services, including: maintenance of 170 miles of county roadways; a world-class county parks and recreation system boasting 21 parks and three golf courses; services like the senior nutrition program which serves hot meals to homebound persons; and the Paratransit system, which helps people with disabilities and senior citizens live more independent lives.
In addition, I initiated three new programs this year, directed at enhancing the quality of life for Union County residents.
Through the Freeholder Scholars program, this board will pay the way through Union County College for any resident who receives a "B" averageorbetter.We wanttoseepeople
of all ages take advantage of this program,whether theyseekjobtraining, a new career, or higher education at a four-year college.
Downtown UnionCountywillprovide grants to municipalities to renovate and improve their downtown business districts. These areas are, in many ways, the heart of their communities, yet they face constant pressure from stores on the highways and in nearby malls. We hope that by beautifying this county's downtown areas we can strengthen our communities and support these small businesses.
Finally, I developed a Mobile Immunization Program, which will travel to municipalities to inoculate children against common childhood diseases in their communities. We want to ensure that every child has access to immunization before they start school.
I also ensured that three programs we began last year will continue to be funded. The Access 2000 program, which will ensure that every pupil in Union County has access to state-ofthe-art computers and software, is continuing to make grants to help cash-strapped districts afford new computers, training, software and technology.
Project Pocket Parks will continue providingmunicipalitieswithmatching grants to create or improve town parks, ballfields and recreational areas. And the HEART Grant program will continue funding cultural, historic and educational programs for Union County residents.
As a county government, we want to ensure that we maintain a high quality of life for Union County residents. Ultimately, a high quality of life also helps preserve businesses and can help bring businesses to the area in search of motivated, qualified employees. The programs we are pursuing are investments in the long-term safety, health and prosperity of this county which will pay off in a number of ways.
Union County Programs, Grants Paving the Way
Into the 21st Century By DANIEL P. SULLIVAN
Daniel P. Sullivan of Elizabeth was appointed to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1995 to fill an unexpired term. He was elected to a three-year term later that year and again in 1998.
As Vice Chairman of the Union County BoardofChosen Freeholders,and Chairman last year, I am proud to say that this county is laying the foundation to make this county a regional leader as we enter the 21st century.
This county has many advantages that could make it a leader in jobs, economic opportunity and quality of life for our 500,000 residents. We are a transportation hub for the nation, with Port Elizabeth, the largest cargo port on the East Coast, Newark International Airport, passenger and freight rail lines and several major highways all converging in an area of less than 100 square miles.
Some of the nation's largest companies are in Union County in part because of our access to international transportation and in part because of a highly trained, highlyeducated workforce.
Also contributing to our quality of life is a 5,500-acre system of parks and our commitment to open space. Finally, we are home to a nationally recognizedcounty collegeandoneof the state's largest universities.
Last year, this board took measures to make better use of these resources. To ensure that our children will be educated for the workplace of the 21st century, we developed Access 2000, which provides matching grants to school districts
for new computers, software and teacher training.
When I developed this program last year, I said that we must ensure that every pupil has access to a computer and modern software by the end of the year 2000.
"Project Pocket Parks" provided $3.2 million in matching grants among the county's 21 municipali
Welfare Assistance, Helping Seniors Through Div. of Aging
Part of County's Gov.'s Role By LEWIS MINGO, JR.
Lewis Mingo, Jr. of Plainfield was appointed to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 1998 to fill an unexpired term. He was elected to a full three-term this past November.
Countygovernment is at its best when it helps people to live better, more productive lives. In Union County, we have pursued this goal with a number of programs that enhance independence and new opportunities for their participants.
One example of this approach is the county's new Welfare Assistance Program. Last year, Vice President Al Gore recognized our program as the second most successful in the nation.
In part, this is because we have merged job training with Welfare assistance. Now, any individual who signs up for welfare assistance is automatically enrolled in a job-training program to help them get back on their feet.
We're not training people for lowwage positions. Union County will only train people for jobs that pay at least $7.50 an hour and that include benefits.Nolonger willweaskpeople to choose between employment and health benefits. We also help people arrange child care and transporta
Improving Education; Funding Arts & Humanities Is A Priority
By MARY RUOTOLO
Mary Ruotolo of Westfield was appointed to the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders last year. She filled the seat of former Freeholder turned County Counsel, Carol Cohen, also of Westfield. Freeholder Ruotolo was elected to a full term this past November.
The importance of a good education cannot be overstated.Intoday's world, a rigorous education is essential for getting a good job and raising our families' standards of living. For our children, this is truer with each passing year.
Since joiningtheFreeholderBoard in 1998, I have made improving education a top priority. I was proud to spearhead the Freeholder Board's new Access 2000 program.
Access 2000 provided $3.2 million in matching grants to public school districts in Union County to ensure that by the year 2000, every pupil will have access to new computers and high-speed Internet access and every teacher will have access to training in computers and technology.
We provided Westfield schools with $158,910 for new computers and teacher training. The Scotch Plains-Fanwood School District received $124,020 for computers and networking. Mountainside students will benefit from $16,860 in new computers.
WithAccess 2000,theCountygave our schools a leg-up on improving their technological capabilities and making computers a part of every teacher's toolbox. As we reach the dawn of the 21st century, we recognize that computers are not a fad or an extracurricular activity.
Computer training has become an essential part of every educational
experience. In 1999, this successful program will continue into a second phase. All public school teachers in Union County are invited to apply for grants forclassroom/librarycomputerhardware, software, peripherals, or for teacher technology training scholarships forworkshops,conferencesand seminars.
The Freeholders contributed more than computers to our schools and communities. In 1998, we launched the HEART (History, Education Arts Reaching Thousands) Grants. The program provides grants to artists, artisans, musicians, historians, writers and actors to highlight the talent and creativity in Union County.
As the poet Amy Lowell observed, "Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in." HEART grants give our local artists, performers and scholars the opportunity to share their work with the community.
The grant recipients span the spectrum of musical, visual and written arts, culture and the humanities and include local organizations, educational institutions and individual artists.
We have given priority to projects that involve children or multi-generational audiences, that showcase Union County-based artists or historical resources, and that complement the educational system and col
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