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Freeholders Predict Transition Into Millennium Will be Easy
ELIZABETH — Union County is Year 2000 compliant and residents should expect a smooth transition into the new century come midnight December 31, according to Union County Freeholders Linda d. Stender and Alexander Mirabella.
“Much work has been done to address Y2K and we are pleased to report all 21 Union County municipalities are ready. We are now focusing on providing public safety,” Freeholder Stender said.
Freeholder Mirabella said: “The residents of Union County will look to government for information. It is important for us to keep them informed as to what we’re doing and what they can expect.”
The freeholders made their remarks during a “Get Ready for Y2K: Coordinating County and Municipal Planning” seminar sponsored by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Gateway Institute held at Kean University on June 29.
Year 2000, or Y2K, is also known as the millennium bug and is an issue because some older computers use two digits to identify a year when recording dates. This is expected to cause problems when the calendar year switches from 1999 to 2000, if not corrected, because computers will go from 1999 to 1900.
Experts have warned that if not addressed, the resulting errors or system crashes could have a significant impact on everyday life.
“Public Works has received 95 percent of manufacturers’ reports saying our equipment will not be impacted by Y2K problems,” said acting Director of Operational Services Frank Dann. “In addition, we will schedule a small work crew from 10 p.m. on December 31 to 4 a.m. on January 1 that will include sewer, yard and mechanics, plus a full fuel truck and a full water
truck. The public should be aware that December is our busy season because of ice and snow removal so we would be prepared for emergency situations in addition to Y2K problems.”
Union County Police Captain Dan Vaniska said that all municipal police departments have enhanced 9-l-1 emergency response systems and are prepared to deal with most problems, including traffic and security related matters.
The seminar’s featured speaker Mark Pfeiffer, Deputy Director, State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, spoke on what has been done on the state level and what citizens can expect. He said New Jersey is doing well and is preparing for New Year’s Eve.
“The Year 2000 (Y2K) is not just a computer problem, it is a risk management problem and a business problem that impacts operations, services and third parties such as citizens, customers and constituents,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “It is not just a 1/1/00 problem; other dates will be impacted like February 29, 2000, the first leap year,”.
He said that private business and government should refer to the manual, “Contingency and Consequence Management Planning for Year 2000 Conversion,” issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make sure they have looked at all Y2K related issues.
“This guide was developed to help states and local governments in preparing Y2K contingency and consequences management plans,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “It covers identifying potential problems and risk assessment, keeping the emergency management organization operational, informing and assisting the public and developing and implementing Y2K consequence management plans.”
Rape Crisis Center Needs Volunteers; Sets Training
WESTFIELD — The Union County Rape Crisis Center at 300 North Avenue, East in Westfield is looking for potential volunteers to assist sexual assault survivors, their families and significant others, announced Mary P. Ruotolo of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Liaison to the Union County Commission on the Status of Women.
Freeholder Chairman Nicholas P. Scutari joined Freeholder Ruotolo in asking that prospective volunteers keep in mind that although the classes don’t begin until Tuesday, September 28, time is needed to be interviewed and to schedule training sessions.
Volunteer trainees will receive approximately 40 hours of training addressing the different types of sexual assault and traumatic reactions of survivors and family members. The legal and medical aspect of sexual assault will also be covered.
Volunteer training will be held from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on September 28 and Thursday, September 30, as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays, October 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28 and November 4, 9,16 and 18.
The Rape Crisis Center, a program under the Department of Human Services, Division of Planning, provides free and confidential services for survivors of sexual assault, their friends and family members in Union County.
These services include individual and group therapy; a 24-hour crisis hotline; a speakers bureau; in-service training for hospital personnel law enforcement, mental health pro
fessionals and educators; and consultations with professionals who work with survivors.
The center also provides information and referral services to professionals and the general public.
Volunteers may serve on the hotline providing emotional support over the telephone, accompany a victim to a hospital or through the court process, or work on the Speakers Bureau to provide educational programs on sexual assault topics to schools, groups and organizations. Volunteers may also distribute information to the community.
“Volunteers are an essential part of the Rape Crisis Center,” Freeholder Ruotolo said. “Many people find it difficult to speak about this to loved ones, because they are uncomfortable with the topic. Often, the center is seen as a safe place to call and receive help.”
“Each volunteer offers this service on the hotline,” Freeholder Chairman Scutari stated. “A volunteer is there for someone who needs help during what may be the most trying time of their lives. I am very pleased at the remarkable quality of the volunteers who are with us now. I hope that more caring individuals will want to become part of this very special group.”
To become a volunteer at the Rape Crisis Center, to schedule an interview or for information on volunteer work or the services of the center, please call (908) 233-7273 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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Procession Honoring War Victims To Pass Through Area Towns By MELISSA A. BETKOWSKI
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — On Tuesday, July 20, representatives from the Peace Abbey and the Life Experience School of Sherborn, Massachusetts, and other national peace-promoting organizations will be passing through Westfield, Scotch Plains and Fanwood as a part of project Stonewalk.
This project, which began on July 4 and will conclude on Friday, August 6, at Arlington National Cemetery, is bringing a 2,000-pound stone memorial for the “unknown civilians killed in wars” to the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.
“We are bringing the memorial stone to Arlington...to honor the civilian victims of war. By doing so, we want to increase awareness of the full cost of war, which includes soldiers and civilians,” Karl Schlotterbeck, coordinator of Stonewalk, wrote via e-mail to The Westfield Leader and
The Times of Scotch Plains Fanwood.
The national organization Veterans for Peace is co-sponsoring Stonewalk.
“Veterans of wars feel a great responsibility in the killing of civilians,” said Edith Eckart, a member of the Board of Directors of Veterans for Peace.
Mrs. Eckart was a Navy WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) Lieutenant Junior Grade in World War II serving in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She now classifies the military as “a killing organization.”
“Stonewalk can serve to be a healing for veterans who (feel this responsibility),” she said.
The stone will be transported on a specially-built, hand-pulled caisson. The organizers of Stonewalk are counting on people living in the communities along the route to volunteer to help pull the stone through their town.
“In doing so,” Mr. Schlotterbeck wrote, “the stone becomes a gift from them as well.”
Mr. Schlotterbeck and the other participants in Stonewalk are encouraging people to come view the stone as it passes through.
The stone will be in Westfield sometime during the morning of July 20.
The arrival should be sometime between 10 and 11 a.m., according to Westfield Police Deputy Chief John Wheatley. He has said he does not anticipate a traffic problem along East Broad Street where the stone will be traveling.
The procession will continue from East Broad to the Monument to Veterans of World War I and travel under the railroad tracks to South Avenue.
“I don’t think it’s going to interfere,” he said. “I think it’s a nice thing.”
The group then is scheduled to continue on South Avenue and take the stone through the communities of Scotch Plains and Fanwood. The procession is expected to pass through sometime between noon and 5 p.m., according to the organization.
Members of the procession are scheduled to spend the night in Plainfield.
While Stonewalk’s road through this part of New Jersey looks rather smooth, it might not be so all the way to Arlington.
According to John Metzler, Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, “(representatives from the Peace Abbey) did not contact anyone before going ahead with this.” Mr. Metzler said that the stone “will not be accepted at Arlington National
Cemetery without a joint resolution from Congress.”
Mr. Metzler was not aware of a bill in Congress or any other such legislation.
“It looks as though they are looking to build support as they come down the road,” he said.
Lewis Randa, Director of the Peace Abbey and of Stonewalk, said, “It is the will of the people that the century does not end without a memorial to civilians killed in wars.”
The stone is being presented to the nation as a gift, Mr. Randa said.
“Gifts can be either accepted or rejected,” he said.
Mr. Randa has said that he has “every confidence” that a senator or congressman will step up and help Stonewalk in its efforts to have the stone housed at Arlington National Cemetery.
Peter Kovar, press secretary for Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), said the Congressman is aware of the (Peace Abbey’s) proposal, but has not been formally asked to take any action on the matter.
Stonewalk is co-sponsored by American Friends Service Committee, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Veterans for Peace, Women’s Action for New Directions and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Surrogate Ann Conti Remembered As Caring Advocate, Role Model By SUZETTE F. STALKER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
MOUNTAINSIDE — Colleagues and friends remembered Ann P. Conti this week for the skill and compassion she brought to her longtime position as Surrogate of Union County, as well as her ground-breaking role within the legal community.
Mrs. Conti, whose distinguished career included having been the first female President of the Union County Bar Association, died on July 10 in Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston following a year-long battle with cancer.
First elected as Surrogate of Union County in November of 1982, Mrs. Conti was elected to her fourth fiveyear term two years ago. The Seton Hall Law School graduate had previously been attorney for the Union County Board of Social Services, and was a founding member of Women Lawyers in Union County, of which she was President for two years.
Mae Trowbridge, who served under Mrs. Conti as Deputy Surrogate, said that while Mrs. Conti was her boss, she really thought of her as “my closest friend.”
The two worked together for 16 years, she revealed.
Mrs. Trowbridge, who assumed the duties of temporary county surrogate on Monday, said Mrs. Conti contributed a great deal to the Surrogate’s office through “her compassion for people, her enthusiasm for what she did…she always had time for anyone.”
She said Mrs. Conti, a Mountainside resident, developed a particular affinity for the county’s senior citizen population through her lectures to older residents’ groups on such topics as wills, probate laws and medical directives.
As Surrogate, Mrs. Conti combined her legal and social service backgrounds. She initiated the Guardianship Monitoring Program in Union County, which ensures that the needs of those being cared for by relatives and friends are met, and that the guardians are aware of social service resources in the community.
She also helped create a lawyer referral service for senior citizens in Union County in cooperation with the Union County Division on Aging, the Union County Senior Citizen Council and the Union County Bar Association.
Mrs. Trowbridge said Mrs. Conti kept seniors up to date on laws and other issues, and was always patient in answering their questions.
They were “a marvelous constituency of hers,” she remarked.
Susan Chasnoff, Director of the Union County Division on Aging, echoed these sentiments when recalling Mrs. Conti’s easy rapport with people of all ages, and particularly senior citizens. She noted that visitors “always received a very warm welcome to her office.”
Ms. Chasnoff said the Surrogate “was very up front, very sensitive to older people and very gracious in her dealings with them,” particularly when addressing difficult issues such as probation of wills and elder abuse.
She added that Mrs. Conti had “a wonderful sense of humor,” which she often injected into her lectures. Ms. Chasnoff also observed that when determining the needs of her constituents, Mrs. Conti “always hit it right on the nose.”
“She was definitely a leader in terms of the guardianship program,” Ms. Chasnoff remarked, explaining that the initiative helped individuals to remain in their own homes and communities. She described Mrs. Conti as “a quintessential senior advocate,” and called her death “a huge loss to the entire community.”
Lizanne J. Ceconi, an attorney with the Summit law firm of Ceconi and Cheifetz, called Mrs. Conti “a real pioneer for women lawyers.” She added that for all the energy the Surrogate put into her profession, “she put even more” into raising her five children, all of whom she described as “incredibly successful.”
“I think her biggest contribution was the lesson she gave to other women on how to balance a career and family,”
Ms. Ceconi concluded. Deputy Union County Counsel Jeremiah D. O’Dwyer said Tuesday the Deputy Surrogate will officiate as temporary county surrogate until a successor to Mrs. Conti is determined.
A spokesman for Governor Christine Todd Whitman’s office confirmed yesterday that, in accordance with state statute and with the advice and consent of the Senate, the Govenor must appointment someone from Mrs. Conti’s political party to fill the remainder of her term. Mrs. Conti was a Democrat. CONTINUED IN NEXT COLUMN
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