Berkeley Heights Officials Seek Volunteers to Help Their Neighbors; Laud Vanriele

Credits: Barbara Rybolt


BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Taking part in SAGE Eldercare’s “March for Meals” reminded local officials of the number of elderly people who are isolated and living alone.

During the Tuesday, April 3, council meeting Council President Jeanne Kingsley and Mayor Bob Woodruff both spoke about how their experience of delivering Meals on Wheels caused them to think about the township residents who are elderly and alone, and how to help them.

Kingsley said the experience reminded her how “it’s really important that people pay attention to their elderly neighbors. We have a good amount of people in Berkeley Heights, who are still living in their houses,” and are senior citizens. “There is nobody (working) within the town who can check up on everybody,” especially in bad weather, she said. As a start, she suggested neighbors check in with their elderly neighbors and exchange phone numbers, so if there is bad weather or other problems arise they can check in with each other.

Sign Up for E-News

Woodruff said he has asked officials with Meals on Wheels if it would be possible for the township to get information on those receiving the meal delivery service in town who might be especially vulnerable in the event of bad weather. He thought there could be between 30 and 40 elderly people who live alone in town and he would like to see if some people in town could volunteer to help their actual neighbors.

Kingsley said she had already spoken with Meals on Wheels Volunteer Coordinator Amy Stuart about the possibility of working with the “cadets at the Rescue Squad,” to perhaps create an “adopt a senior” program.

Woodruff said he thought that program would be “a good thing for all involved,” and welcomed anyone in the audience or watching the meeting on the web to help out.  

In a change of subject, Woodruff held up a clipping from the Star-Ledger about “Victoria Vanriele, who continues to just break record after record. We honored her last year, halfway through her freshman year,” he said. She had been named “Athlete of the Year” by the Star-Ledger.

He recalled that when her freshman year ended, “she had compiled all sorts of awards and I said, ‘We could probably do this on a seasonal basis with Victoria.’ I’ll wait.” The mayor knows Vanriele, having taught her in eighth grade confirmation class, and he said he knew she was special then. “Some of you who follow sports may recall the young female athlete from Union Catholic who is a phenomenal track star. I think we are going to see Victoria” do the same thing in the coming years, he said. “I saw her mom at church and told her, ‘We’re not ignoring her, we just don’t know where to plug in.’”

What he does know is, “At the conclusion of her career, we (the council) will take whatever steps we think are appropriate. It may take more than one document – We’re all proud of her,” the mayor concluded.

In other news from the council meeting:

Berkeley Heights Walks had its first walk two weeks ago and “It was very successful,” said Kingsley. Between 15 and 17 bags of garbage were collected. The next walk will be on a weekend, Saturday, April 21, and the group will meet at 10 a.m. at the train station. Everyone is welcome to come walk and help clean up the township – remember to bring gloves. Garbage bags will be provided or, bring your own. 

A tub grinder will be rented by the township to help dispose of the branches and other debris collected by the DPW after the winter storms. The numerous piles of brush are more than 20 feet high, said Township Administrator John Bussiculo. It should take about three days for them to be “all ground up,” at a cost of $4,500 a day. The mulch from the grinding will be used around the town and, if there is any left over, could be sold to residents, he said.

A township-owned home at 23 Horseshoe Road, at the corner of Mountain Avenue, adjacent to the Littel-Lord home has been deemed unsafe and the tenant must move out. The tenant reported the floors were sloping, so the township engineer investigated and discovered the supporting rafters are “either split or have bellies on them.” The damage is the result of the rafters having been placed directly on the dirt – there is no basement on this structure. Estimates to repair the damaged rafters and foundation, were in excess of $100,000, said Bussiculo.  

The tenant, who has lived there 18 years, has been told she must vacate the home. The township has met with the tenant and she has agreed to vacate the home by June 1, three months from when the property was deemed to be no longer safe for occupancy. If she is out by June 1, the township will waive any rent due and owing from that three-month period. The township is assisting the tenant with finding a new home within the township.  Bussiculo said, “We all feel terrible, she has been there eighteen years.”

Progress on the Community Garden continues. Chairman of the Environmental Commission Richard Leister has asked the township to place a resolution on the agenda authorizing the establishment of a community garden at the Littel-Lord Farmstead. The council had previously approved the location but not passed a resolution.

The garden will not have a nearby water supply, being quite far from the Littel-Lord Farmstead. There is a $1,500 grant available which will help facilitate making water available at the garden, but before the commission can apply for the grant, there must be an approved resolution on the books.  The deadline to apply for the grant is April 23.

To help the commission meet the deadline, Kingsley suggested the commission could make a presentation on the Community Garden at the beginning of the special meeting on the budget on March 10. The council could then place the resolution on the agenda of its March 17 meeting. 

To find out about the plans for the community garden and more about the budget, members may attend the special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at Town Hall, 29 Park Ave.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

'Tired of cronyism? Yeah, us too'

July 21, 2018

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start. To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million county budget suggests ...

TAPinto Spotlight on Business Features New Providence Dentistry

July 17, 2018

NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - TAPinto "Summer Spotlight on Business" features local businesses and their owners who are important to our communities. Follow this column to receive a fresh perspective on small business owners and their unique needs while shining a spotlight on their stories.

This edition features New Providence Dentistry, operated by Dr. Beth Herko and her staff of ...

Avoiding 10% Tax Penalty

Do you want access to money from your retirement accounts but aren't sure of the real costs involved?

Most retirement accounts have a set age requirement you must reach before making penalty-free income distributions, which is usually 59.5 but can sometimes be as early as age 50. If you decide to access your accounts earlier, you could face penalties ranging from 10%-25%, which is not ...

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training

July 21, 2018

Caring Contact Volunteer Listener Training Fall 2018

Are you looking for a flexible, rewarding volunteer opportunity?

Have you ever been told you are a good listener?

Do you have a yearning to really make a difference?

Become a Caring and Crisis Hotline Listener.

You could save a life.

Volunteers receive 52 hours of comprehensive training in active listening, Mental Health ...

Shakespeare in the Park Returns to Union County Sunday, July 22

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce the return of Shakespeare in the Park this weekend. The performance will be presented on Sunday, July 22 at 12:30 p.m. at Cedar Brook Park in Plainfield.

The Shrew Mechanicals Troupe from The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present an hour long performance of “Shakespeare Gumbo,” a stirring collection of ...

Enjoy a Lifetime of Discovery in Union County Parks

July is National Parks and Recreation Month, and Union County residents are invited to celebrate this year by exploring “undiscovered” programs and activities found throughout the nearly 6,200 acres of the Union County parks system.

“Union County was one of the very first counties in the United States to establish its own county-based park system for nature conservation and ...

Union County Honored for History Projects

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that two national achievement recognitions for history projects have been presented to the Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a division of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Union County is rich in history, and this Freeholder Board is committed to engaging the public with ...

Geoffrey the Giraffe Moves In To New Brunswick Children's Hospital

July 12, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Over a stretch of nearly 70 years, Geoffrey the Giraffe at Toys R Us stores was the symbol of happy times for generations of children, and now he may provide those same feelings for children coming to a hospital.

"From this day forward, Geoffrey stands tall in our lobby to encourage our smallest patients to smile when they enter our facilities," said John ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, July 22, 2:00 PM

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Moths and other Pollinators

Education Green


Tue, July 24, 3:00 PM

Grillestone Restaurant , Scotch Plains

Hear the Story of Amelia Earhart, America's Most ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink


Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness


Tue, July 24, 5:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Summit Area YMCA Swim Team Tryouts July 24th

Health & Wellness


Wed, July 25, 1:30 PM

Trailside Nature & Science Center, MountainsidE

Trailside’s Annual Summer Wednesday Matinee ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, July 25, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sings Conclude with Verdi ...

Arts & Entertainment

Special June Episode of 'Berkeley Heights Here & Now' Features 6th Annual Street Fair

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Berkeley Heights Communications Committee (BHCC) today announced a special edition of Berkeley Heights Here & Now is available on the Township website,


The special episode features the 6th Annual Berkeley Heights Street Fair held on June 24 and includes onsite interviews with attending residents/visitors, event ...

And Over Here is the Dining Hall 2

My very first job in admissions was while I was still an undergraduate myself as a tour guide.  Very early on they indoctrinated us with some tricks of the trade.  It’s a dining hall, not a cafeteria.  A residence hall, not a dorm.  If you have to divulge some negative bit of information, sandwich it between two positives.  There were instructions for glossing over ...

Women Have Special Financial Needs That Advisors Overlook

Women have special financial needs that advisors overlook in two ways: 1) advisors don’t always acknowledge the different planning needs women have and 2) advisors don’t always communicate well with female clients – especially if the client comes to a meeting with her husband. It’s very common for a male advisor to spend much or most of the face time in meetings talking to ...

5 Simple Ways to Save Water this Summer

According to the L.A. Times, the average American uses an estimated 98 gallons of water EACH day.  

Here are five simple ways you can save water, to help you conserve water this summer and take some pressure off of your drains.

1. Unless you are using it, turn the faucet off. How many of us still leave the water running while we shave or brush our teeth?According to ...