Government

Freeholder Bruce Bergen Announces Initiatives as Second Board Chair Term Begins

ab4da455b8f5713384b0_unnamed__3_.jpg
Freeholder Chair Bruce Bergen receives the Oath of Office from the 22nd Legislative District Assemblyman Jerry Green with his family standing by. Credits: Fran Sullivan
e80825b3bda1c1ede7ee_Re-org_1.jpg
Vice Chair Sergio Granados is sworn in by State Senator Nicholas Scutari, accompanied by family members. Credits: Fran Sullivan
e91feb2b8cae2f894f11_unnamed.jpg
Freeholder Linda Carter is sworn in by 22nd Legislative District Assemblyman Jerry Green as her brother Herman Carter holds the Bible. Credits: Fran Sullivan
23f22eeadfbd4e7032bc_unnamed__7_.jpg
State Senator Nicholas Scutari adminsters the oath of office to Bette Jane Kowalski as her family looks on. Credits: Fran Sullivan
ae28e3b3135d8fc05200_unnamed__5_.jpg
Mayor Christian Bollwage swears in Sergio Granados, surrounded by family. Credits: Fran Sullivan
751d0d51fbb13bd09e4d_unnamed__6_.jpg
City Councilman Frank Cuesta and Sergio Granados Credits: Fran Sullivan
6347ca39df3249744c52_unnamed__1_.jpg
Former U. S. Ambassador Phil Murphy Credits: Fran Sullivan
f227615088934702da4d_unnamed__9_.jpg
State Senator Raymond Lesniak Credits: Fran Sullivan
4b9dab5c73a2ea2ef4e8_unnamed__4_.jpg
ab4da455b8f5713384b0_unnamed__3_.jpg

ELIZABETH, NJ – Freeholders Bruce Bergen and Sergio Granados were sworn in for a second term as chair and vice chair respectively at the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders' 2017 re-organization meeting, held on Jan. 8 at the Union County Courthouse. In addition,Freeholders Carter, Granados, and Bette Jane Kowalski were also sworn in office. Freeholder Linda Carter was voted chair pro temp. State Senator Raymond Lesniak and Former U.S. Ambassador Phil Murphy, both running for governor, also spoke to the audience that filled Judge Karen Cassidy’s courtroom.

In his annual address, Bergen announced a series of initiatives entitled Connecting our Community focusing on jobs, education, and training for young people; social services; arts and history; public safety; parks and recreation; and the environment.

“Here in Union County, we are prepared to stand for our core governing values and protect the most vulnerable among us, and to continue to stand for those who could be impacted in an unfair manner,” said Bergen. “Union County’s residents, many of them immigrants, have the right to be treated with the dignity and respect that all citizens of the planet deserve, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, or sexual orientation.”

Sign Up for E-News

The first initiative is UC LEAP, Learning, Employment, and Arts Programs. The county is working with the Simon Youth Foundation to establish an Alternative High School for at-risk youth that will open at The Mills at Jersey Gardens. The Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, has created 29 such schools located in their shopping malls, in 12 states. This will be their first in the tri-state area.

The County is also co-sponsoring with Overlook Hospital to create Project Search that will provide employment and training for youth with disabilities. Overlook is only one of four employers chosen state-wide for this program.    

Union County Vocational Technical Schools will add the Academy for Law and Justice to its campus. Students will prepare for public service in law, government, and criminal justice.

The American Theater Group will hold their second Annual Group Drama Festival at the Hamilton Stage in April where high school students will present a scene from a play or musical. The students will receive a professional critique from theatre professionals.

The Freeholder Board will also continue to sponsor performances by local theater groups at UC PAC in Rahway as part of the Union County Advancing Community Theatre program.

The County is continuing to Go Green with increased funding for community gardens. In addition, the Department of Public Works will renew the leaf composting operations at the Houdaille Quarry. The compost collected will be sold to private companies, earning as much as $500,000 in annual revenues.

Veterans will also be remembered when the county partners with local veteran groups such as Operation Rebound and the New Jersey Vets Commission. The county will establish the Veterans Success Center to assist vets with job placement and training, career advisement, referrals to health resources.

Residents will soon see new signage celebrating the county’s designation as a National Parks Service, Crossroads of the Revolution National Heritage Area.

Popular events will be easier to assess with a new online system that will keep residents up-to-date on programs and park events.

In the area of social services, Bergen spoke of the heroin epidemic now racing through the state. “This past year, the County Police, Prosecutor’s Office, and Sheriff’s Office, all engaged in training, response, or in supplying Narcan to local police departments to combat the plague.”

The county will fund beds for a minimum of 25 additional residents who need treatment that will include up to seven days DeTox and up to 28 days if inpatient rehabilitation.

This year, the Freeholder Board will create and fund the Union County Nonprofit Consortium Leadership Development program. It will be a series of management leadership training sessions. The Board will also establish an Office on Volunteer Services.

Two programs are aimed at assisting seniors. Funding for Senior Focus will be used for equipment, repairs, or rehabilitation of senior centers. “Almost all of our municipalities applied for the $25,000 grants, and we look forward to announcing the awards early this year,” said Bergen.

As part of the public safety concerns, the county will be purchasing a Fire Fighting Water Tanker that will bring 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water to a fire scene. The Freeholder Board will expand the Mutual Aide Radio project that will assist 17 agencies who use the Union County Dispatch service with compatible radios.

The Bureau of GIS is working with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office to scan floor plans of important public facilities into the County GIS to speed emergency response. “We have already added the plans for the county’s 230 public and private schools and will continue to work to capture as many important buildings as possible,” said Bergen. “I know our municipalities are extremely excited about this service.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Summer Life Guard Job Opportunity in Union County

April 10, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Summer lifeguard positions are available at Union County’s public swimming pool, the Walter Ulrich Memorial Pool at Rahway River Park in Rahway.

“Union County’s Ulrich Pool provides our youth and adult summer job seekers with an opportunity to enjoy working outdoors in the fresh air all summer long while sharpening valuable life skills including leadership, ...

Why We Keep Kosher

Why We Keep Kosher

This week's parshah, Shemini, introduces the Torah's dietary laws. Animals must chew their cud and have split hooves to be kosher, fish need fins and scales, and a list of forbidden fowl is enumerated.

To those of us in Jewish education, it is a continuing source of disappointment that so many Jews still believe the kosher laws to be outdated.

Politics IS Government in Union County

April 21, 2018

Dear Editor:

After Bruce Patterson of Garwood was stopped from speaking at the Union County Freeholder meeting of March 22 regarding the politics behind refusing to give the party line to a sitting Freeholder, I thought this brazen suppression of free speech could not go unanswered.

At the April 19 meeting I answered with these comments.

After ten years of following government in Union ...

Helping Teenagers Deal with Prom Night Stress

April 18, 2018

Prom can be one of the most exciting times for your teenager but at the same time one of the most stressful. 

It can also be very stressful for parents as they prepare themselves to accept that their teenager is graduating and soon going away to school, while planning a weekend away after prom night. Going to the Shore for the weekend or somewhere overnight has become more of the ...

Congregation Beth Israel Students Learn About Islam

April 23, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- On April 11, Jewish students from Congregation Beth Israel in Scotch Plains and Mrs. Kouser Izhar, a Moslem woman from East Brunswick, met at the synagogue for a conversation about Islam.

Kouser, an information technology professional, offered to teach the seventh-grade students about Islam when she heard of their interest in learning about other religions. Kouser Izhar ...

Upcoming Events

Mon, April 23, 3:30 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

After School Club for Teens at Scotch Plains ...

Arts & Entertainment Education

Wed, April 25, 4:00 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

Speak with Congressional Staff on April 25 at the ...

Government