Freeholders Modify County Budget for Clark's Oak Ridge Park Project and More From This Week's Meeting

Oak Ridge Park Credits: TAPinto Clark File Photo
From left are Elizabeth Police Officer Luciano Nicolas Porto, Officer Eric Santiago Gora and Freeholder Angel Estrada at the Union County Freeholders' meeting on July 20, 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico
Elizabeth Police Officer Eric Santiago Gora, left, speaks at a Union County Freeholders' meeting on July 20, 2017 where he and his partner, Officer Luciano Nicolas Porto were honored. Credits: Rebecca Panico
From left are Elizabeth Police Officer Eric Santiago Gora, Officer Luciano Nicolas Porto and Freeholder Angel Estrada at the Union County Freeholders' meeting on July 20, 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico
From left are Elizabeth Police Officer Eric Santiago Gora, Officer Luciano Nicolas Porto and Freeholder Angel Estrada at the Union County Freeholders' meeting on July 20, 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico
Bruce Paterson, an activist from Garwood, asked the board to explain two ordinances that were about to be voted on at the Freeholders' meeting on July 20, 2017. Credits: Rebecca Panico

ELIZABETH, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a resolution to modify the county budget by $2 million for the Union County Oak Ridge Project in Clark. The project will provide a field, locker room and additional amenities for Union County College sports teams that have outgrown their current facilities near the Cranford campus.

Additionally during the meeting two Elizabeth police officers who rescued a 13-year-old boy struck by a freight train were honored.  Elizabeth Police Officers Eric Santiago Gora and Luciano Nicolas Porto responded to Franklin Street on May 11 to find the boy going into shock with an amputated leg.

“We have to also acknowledge that there are individuals who, every day of their lives, put their lives on the line," said Freeholder Angel Estrada, before presenting the two officers with a framed resolution recognizing their actions. “And at the same time [they] make a true delivery of their talents.”

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Gora applied a tourniquet to the boy's leg, using his skills as a trained EMT and registered nurse, while Porto assisted. The boy was airlifted to University Hospital in Newark and survived.

Gora spoke briefly before accepting the resolution, calling the experience “truly humbling.” He thanked his girlfriend, supervisor and freeholders.

The freeholders also congratulated Gora for receiving the Shield Award in June for outstanding service to his community and service beyond the call of duty from the New Jersey Knights of Columbus.

During the meeting, an ordinance that read “fixing the salaries of the county counsel and department heads” was also adopted. TAPinto asked  the Clerk of the Board,  James Pellettiere for a full description of the ordinance at Thursday night’s meeting, but he did not send it by this article’s deadline.

Pellettiere said after the meeting the ordinance had to do with a “reorganization.” He said full descriptions of ordinances usually have to be obtained through an open public records request. Such requests generally take seven business days to garner a response.

Bruce Paterson, an activist from Garwood, asked the freeholders in the public comments section to explain the same ordinance and another titled:

“An ordinance to amend ‘the laws of Union County: administrative code and policies and general legislation’ by amending part 1, chapter 1, article XVI, Department of Human Services; article xx, Department of Correctional Services; article XXIV, Department of Economic Development; chapter 49, fees, article V, engineering & public works fees to add § 49-10.; chapter 100, personnel -- article XVI, employee handbook and chapter 128, smoking policy.”

After Paterson sat down, the board unanimously approved both ordinances without explaining them. Freeholders Mohamed Jalloh, Sergio Granados, Linda Carter and Bette Jane Kowalski were not present at the meeting.

TAPinto also asked Pellettiere at Thursday night’s meeting for the full description of the ordinance to amend the laws of Union County. He did not respond to two follow up emails asking for the ordinances by this article’s deadline.

In other business, the board approved a resolution to donate a 1994 International Navistar command post vehicle to the City of Elizabeth since “it is no longer need for County purposes,” the resolution read.

The freeholders also approved a resolution awarding a $50,000 contract until Dec. 31 to the Urban League of Union County in Elizabeth for a prisoner re-entry program called Reconnections. The program helps people returning to the community from incarceration to access social services.

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