ELIZABETH, NJ — The Union County Freeholders approved several resolutions during their meeting Nov. 14, including the addition of two canine officers to the Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit. The board also discussed an award nomination for Union County College, county initiatives for veterans, and a national recognition for a local nonprofit founder.

Union County College Award Nomination

Earlier this month, Union County College was selected to compete for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The college is one of 150 institutions eligible to compete for the $1 million prize.

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Freeholder Vice Chair Al Mirabella offered his congratulations to the college.

“Early in November, Union County College was designated as one of the top 150 two-year institutions to be eligible for the Aspen Prize,” Mirabella said. “This is a very prestigious honor, and as I said, 150 community colleges nationwide have an opportunity to compete for some significant grant funding.”

“This is a big deal,” he added. “Obviously we’re all proud of our county college and the work that they do there.”

Mirabella said he and other Freeholders have reached out to college officials to see how the board can help with the grant process.

Freeholder Angela Garretson, who works in the higher education field, said the designation is an honor for the college and the county.

“As a higher education professional, I understand how these rankings go,” Garretson said. “I’ve been a part of quite a few, and to be designated as such is just a true honor. I do look forward to being able to lend my support."

UC Hero Initiative for Veterans

Ahead of Veterans Day, Mirabella also discussed the county’s UC Hero initiative, which provides “information on eligibility, entitlements, benefit programs and services.”

“UC Hero works with the Office of Veterans Affairs, Division on Aging, health and mental health referral services, job opportunities through the Workforce Innovation Business Center, and outreach, in addition to partnering with local veterans’ groups,” Mirabella said.

More information about the UC Hero program can be found on the County website.

Mountainside Resident Nominated for CNN Hero Prize

Mary Robinson, a Mountainside resident and founder of the nonprofit organization Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, has been selected as a finalist for the “CNN Hero of the Year” Prize. Imagine is a grief support center for children, young adults and families dealing with the death or life-altering illness of a parent, sibling or child.

Freeholder Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded commended Robinson on her nomination.

“It’s a wonderful organization here in Union County, and it assists so many children on a daily basis,” Palmieri-Mouded said. “I want to congratulate Mary Robinson for… being nominated for this award.”

Robinson is one of ten nominees who will be honored during the annual CNN Heroes broadcast Dec. 8. The winner, selected by public vote, will receive a donation of $100,000 to support their cause.

“I want to encourage our residents here in Union County to support her and vote,” Palmieri-Mouded said. Voting remains open until Dec. 3 on CNN.com. Members of the public can cast ten votes per day.