UNION COUNTY, NJ — The freeholders on Thursday approved a jail guard's settlement, assistance for caregivers of special needs children and authorized grant applications for building bridges.

Here are some key takeaways from the freeholder board's meeting:

Lawsuit Settlement: The freeholders settled a lawsuit for $80,000, from a case involving a jail guard, who claimed she was sexually harassed and bullied by colleagues in the Union County Department of Corrections.

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  • “Based on our attorney’s recommendation and the judge’s recommendation, we recommend to the board to settle this [case],” said County Counsel Bruce Bergen. “There is no admission of wrongdoing on the part of the county, but it’s an economic weighing of what’s best for the county.”

Relief for caregivers: The freeholders approved a resolution that provides up to $1 million for a program designed to give assistance to caregivers of special needs children. The age range of eligible children is 5-21. Care is available 4 — 8 p.m. from Monday to Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. — 8 p.m.

  • “Whenever a parent needs a break, this program would provide that respite care for students, for the parents to be out of their home or within their home to be given a rest or a break,” said County Director of Human Services Debbie-Ann Anderson. “During the pandemic, families and this population really need these services.”

Building Bridges: The county will apply for grants from the state to build four new bridges in the following locations:

  • Martine Avenue Minor Bridge, Scotch Plains
  • Caldwell Place Minor Bridge, Springfield
  • Myrtle Avenue Minor Bridge, Westfield
  • Watchung Avenue Minor Bridge, Plainfield

The county received $1.938 million from the state through the Local Bridges, Future Needs Program in 2021, according to Director of Engineering, Public Works & Facilities Management, Joseph A. Graziano. Monies need to be spent within two years they are granted.

  • “If these bridges aren’t designed and shovel ready, we can't apply for the grants for these bridges,” Graziano said. “The bridges this year are shovel ready.”

States inspect bridges every two years and bridges were a part of an ongoing list of bridges slated for improvements, Graziano said.

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MORE: Union County Announces COVID-19 Rental Relief Program