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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Plainfielders can donate clothing for Hurricane Harvey victims

A National Guardsman rescues a woman and her baby.
(Image: ABC News.)

This view, with downtown Houston in the distance, shows
the scale of the flooding. (Image: Business Insider.)

Plainfield resident Roz Bradshaw is on a mission -- to gather donations of clothing from fellow Plainfielders to relieve some of the needs of victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, where local authorities estimate 30,000 have been left homeless.

"I was doing my laundry," Bradshaw says, "such an ordinary thing to do, and suddenly it came over me that the victims of Harvey had to leave their homes so quickly they escaped with just the clothes on their backs."

"I thought maybe I can't do much, but I have to do something, do what I can."

What Bradshaw is doing is providing an opportunity for Plainfielders to help out by dropping off new or clean and serviceable used clothing to be delivered to emergency relief organizations in Houston.

Roz will be collecting contributions Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 9:00 AM to Noon at the corner of Watchung and East 6th Street (the YMCA corner).

"I'll be right there on the street -- no need for anyone to find parking and lug their donation indoors some place; just drive up and I'll load things into bags for transport."

What articles are needed?

Underwear, socks, shirts of all kinds and trousers or sweatpants for men, women and children are needed. No need to worry about sizes, Bradshaw says. Also needed are diapers and baby wipes.

Also toothpaste and brushes as well as women's hygiene items.

For further information or if you need to arrange for a different time to make your donation, give Roz a call at (908) 205-1627.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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CORRECTED: Plainfield's first summer concert series closes Thursday with encore performance by FLAVUH

FLAVUH closes Summer Concert series in an encore performance.

CORRECTED: Thursday's FREE concert at City Hall features jazz, soul and R&B performances by FLAVUH, described as "NY/NJ's preeminent neo-soul band," featuring Plainfield's own Wayne Griffin playing classics and hits.

While many communities across the country have free summer concerts, no one can recall a series sponsored by the city in Plainfield.

"The idea was Mayor Adrian Mapp's," said Supervisor of Parks & Recreation Veronica Taylor, "and the series has been instantly popular; we are already making plans for next year."

Using the City Hall Plaza as the venue has several advantages: there is plenty of parking in the City Hall lot, the steps provide a perfect stage for the performers and power and lights are available.

Bring a friend and a couple of chairs and enjoy this final summer evening concert. The program gets under way at 7:00 PM at City Hall Plaza, Watchung Avenue and East 6th Street. Parking available in the lot behind City Hall.
The program goes on, rain or shine.

Apologies to James Gibbs and FLAVUH for the mixup!

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Construction to begin on South Avenue's Quin Sleepy Hollow luxury apartments

Rendering shows the complex's two buildings,
along with ample parking lots and lots of ingress and egress.

Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, city officials and representatives of JMF Properties gathered at the South Avenue site of Quin at Sleepy Hollow on Saturday morning for a groundbreaking ceremony signaling that construction is about to begin on the long-awaited complex.

While crews worked for months behind the screening along South Avenue, it was difficult for passersby to see exactly what was going on -- but it was clear that it was NOT construction.

On Saturday, the Mayor and developer Joseph Forgione made all clear. In a program that included remarks by Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development Carlos Sanchez, Freeholder Angel Estrada, Union County Sheriff (and NJ Senate candidate) Joe Cryan, Council President Rebecca Williams and 2nd Ward Councilor Cory Storch, speakers underscored that Plainfield is "on the rise".

Jeff Spelman, owner of The Coffee Box across the street from the complex, closed the program with a earnest wish for the new residents of the complex to be made a part of the Plainfield community and to enjoy the cultural opportunities it offers.

The $50 million project is targeted at Millennials, with one- and two-bedroom apartments, amenities such as a community room with bar and kitchen, an exercise center and garage parking as well as parking lots.

A key amenity will be a Community Room with bar and kitchen.

Forgione pointed out the proximity to the Netherwood train station would be a compelling point for the Millennials to which the complex will be marketed.

Sanchez explained in his opening remarks that the complexity of the project has been responsible for the time taken to get to the construction phase.

The plot was assembled from ten separate properties, each of which required a separate negotiation and settlement. Once the parcel was assembled, it was still necessary to demolish the existing structures and then to remediate some of the former properties to get to the starting line.

Now that construction is set to begin, the developer is projecting completion for the winter of 2018-19.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Police Division's new Use of Force Simulator demonstrated for officials

Officer Andrew Crawford interacts with an emotionally
disturbed person in Friday afternoon's simulation.

Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp was joined by several Council members and senior city officials as Police Director Carl Riley unveiled the city's new "use of force simulator" Friday afternoon in a live demonstration at Police Headquarters.

Police officers, who are sworn to serve and protect Plainfield residents, are -- as officers of the law -- allowed to use deadly force when deemed necessary.

How to judge when or whether to use deadly force is part of the training of every police officer.

The new simulator, purchased with a federal grant and only the second in Union County (the first is at the John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains), will help officers continue to review, critique, and improve their skills in "use of force" scenarios that are likely to develop in a nanosecond as an officer answers a call or confronts a volatile situation.

The simulator can call up 700 scenarios -- from a domestic violence incident to a suspicious person in the neighborhood, from a person in a locked business after hours to an emotionlly disturbed individual - and interactively play them out to a resolution.

Though the officer had to use deadly force in two of the scenarios we witnessed, one was resolved without gunplay.

Three volunteers from among the officials gained a new appreciation of the amount of information the officer must appraise at a second's glance to make a "use of force" decision and what level might be required.

In his remarks,Mayor Mapp said, "[T]his program demonstrates the commitment of my administration to investing in the technology, investing in our officers and making sure they are as prepared as possible to better protect and serve the public".

While supervisors will evaluate officers on a random basis, pulling them in off the street to take part in one or two simulations, the Division will keep full records on each officer as to what scenarios they have been through, the evaluation by the supervisor and the officer, and any improvements that need to be made.

Director Riley also pointed out that the program was portable and could be taken out to community events. I could see this being very useful with students in school settings and at community events such as National Night Out and SID events -- especially if the young people are given an opportunity to participate.

This is an extremely valuable addition to the Division's resources for promoting professionalism and effectiveness.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Youth Commission and PBA host a Pool Party and Cookout Saturday

Recently formed Plainfield Youth Commission hosts
a Pool Party for 15-19 year olds Saturday at Hannah Atkins.

Plainfield's recently established Youth Commission is oeganizing a Pool Party for this Saturday afternoon (August 26) from 2:00 to 6:00 PM at the Hannah Atkins Pool and Playground.

The pool party is for Plainfield young people from 15 to 19 years old. There will be a free giveaway to the first fifty teenagers to enter the pool area. (ID is needed to enter the pool area.)

There will be music, games and food -- with a community cookout prepared by members Plainfield's PBA Local #19.

The event is sponsored by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the Plainfield City Council, Rebecca Williams, president.

The Hannah Atkins Pool is at West 3rd Street and Plainfield Avenue. NOTE: Proper bathing attire required to enter the pool area.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Senior Swim Soirée Sunday

As summer winds down and the city's pools prepare to close, a couple of special events will make the season's end memorable.

One of those is the "Senior Swim
Soirée" set for this Sunday (August 27) at the Hannah Atkins Pool.

On tap is a late afternoon of swimming and other fun for Plainfield residents 55+. It gets under way at 3:00 PM and runs to 7:00 PM.

Besides an opportunity to swim with your peers (no kids!), there will be water aerobics, food and drinks, card games, and music and dancing.

Let your creative instincts flow for the bathing suit contest.
A highlight of the day will be a bathing suit contest with awards in three categories: Best Cover Up, Best Design, and Most Colorful suit.

Lifeguards will be on duty. Bring your own beach chair!

The event is free, but reservations are require. Call the Rec Division at (908) 753-3097 to register.

The Swim Soirée is brought to you by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and members of the Plainfield City Council, Rebecca Williams, President; and is coordinated by by the Division of Parks & Recreation, Veronica Taylor, Superintendent.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

(Board of Ed) Larry Leverett pitches to Board, public

Dr. Larry Leverett speaks to the Board of Ed Tuesday night.

The audience burst into applause when former Superintendent Larry Leverett was introduced at Tuesday night's BOE business meeting. Larry recently retired as the Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation (more about them here) and is now an educational consultant.

It was a delight seeing him and I felt that having him make a presentation to the Board (and the public) was a hopeful sign that the current situation has been recognized as in need of improvement.

As I have pointed out before, I am a fan of Larry's. During his tenure (1995-2003), I was active (along with the late Dottie Gutenkauf) in electing members of what became a high-functioning Board of Ed. People who were on the Board in those years have since moved on to other positions of high responsibility in the community. To a person, they still remark on the key to their success as Board members was learning to work as a team.

And that was what Dr. Leverett focused on Tuesday evening.

It turns out the presentation (titled "Building School Board Effectiveness and Efficiency") was Leverett Educational Consultant's pitch to the Board to be hired as a consultant to facilitate doing just that: building the Plainfield Board of Ed's effectiveness and efficiency. LEC was represented by Dr. Larry Leverett and Dr. Kaila Baucum-Sanderson (a Plainfield native and PHS graduate).

Before knowing this was a pitch, I suggested to Dr. Leverett that the presentation be put on the District's website -- and even spoke briefly with Board President Morgan about it. As soon as I realized the presentation was a business pitch, I realized why Dr. Leverett had seemed surprised by my suggestion.

Though I was pleased to be able to hear and see the presentation, it did finally seem to me that a public business meeting was not really the best venue.

In fact, the pitch seems a perfect fit for one of the state's exception to the OPMA which allows for certain categories to be discussed in executive session. More so, since two board members touched on the subject of fees in their public questions. Dr. Leverett finessed the questions, but the episode simply highlights an area that is problematic for this Board of Ed.

When it came time for questions from the Board, only Mr. Wyatt and Ms. Pile spoke. I began to wonder if the other Board members had any foreknowledge at all of why Dr. Leverett was there.

Several questions and comments from the audience expressed their frustration over some issues in the District. Dr. Leverett got very serious and pointed out that if hired, his organization would have the Board of Ed as its client, and be responsible to it.

As for issues the community may want addressed, he pointed out his organization's job would be to show the Board how to use the necessary tools to make itself a "high functioning Board," which would include tools for listening to and working with the community stakeholders and take responsibility for tackling tough issues.

Next steps?

Certainly the Board should meet with Larry's organization behind closed doors and get down to brass tacks.

That would be a most hopeful sign.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Back-to-school dental checkups Tuesday and Wednesday at NHC

The Neighborhood Health Center is offering Back-to-School Dental Checkups this Tuesday and Wednesday at its 1700 Myrtle Avenue location.

On Tuesday August 22, checkups will be offered from 8:30 AM to 7:00 PM. On Wednesday, August 23, the hours are from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. Checkups are by appointment -- call (908) 753-6401, x1501 or x1503 to schedule your child's visit.

Services offered include dental exams, X-rays, cleanings and fluoride treatments. Information on caring for your children's teeth will be available.

Most insurances are accepted. There is a sliding fee arrangement for those without dental insurance.

The Neighborhood Health Center is at 1700 Myrtle Avenue (corner of Rock Avenue). Parking available in the Center's lot at the rear of the building.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Candlelight Vigil Monday in solidarity with Charlottesville victims

Community residents, students and faculty gather at
a vigil at UVA in solidarity with the victims and against
hatred and violence. (Photo: USAToday)

Across the country, communities are gathering in vigils and other community events to show solidarity with the victims of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, August 12th.

Plainfield will host its community candlelight prayer vigil Monday, August 21, at City Hall Plaza, beginning at 7:30 PM. For more on who is participating, see Rebecca's blog here.

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and the Plainfield City Council invite residents to join with them, Plainfield clergy and community leaders in the service.

The incident in Charlottesville, which is also the home of UVA (the University of Virginia) was sparked by a protest rally by right-wing nationalist groups entitled "Unite the Right" that was set for that weekend. Other right-wing groups -- including the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations -- joined them as the raally got under way.

The original permit was issued to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. However, when baseball bats, clubs and shields were brandished, it seemed that the intent had become to provoke a violent incident.

These elements clashed with counter-protesters who came out to oppose the rally. The counter-protesters included local racial justice, faith-based groups and peace organizations. They also appear to have been joined by ANTIFA (or anti-Fascist) groups who go around the country looking to pick fights with right-wingers.

A car plowed into a group near the rally, killing Heather Heyer, 32, a Charlottesville resident who was protesting the nationalist rally and injuring nearly 20 others. The driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., who seems to have been with one of the groups that joined the origina sponsoring organizations, is in custody and has been charged with second degree murder.

Hours later, two Virginia State Troopers, who were surveilling the scene from the air, were killed when their helicopter crashed.

City Hall Plaza is in front of City Hall, at Watchung Avenue and East 6th Street. Parking is available in the lot behind City Hall.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Mayor Mapp's Community BBQ marks 10th anniversary Saturday

Guests take advantage of the shade to schmooze.

The annual community BBQ hosted by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and his wife Amelia will mark it's tenth anniversary this Saturday.

The mayor's BBQ will top a day of cookouts and other events throughout the Queen City.

The Mayor's BBQ gets under way at the Mapps home (535 West 8th Street -- address has been corrected -- DD) at 4:00 PM and lasts until Midnight --or whenever the guests finally leave.

A portion of the nonperishable food and personal
hygiene items donated by guests.
While the BBQ is an offering to the community, attendees have always brought donations of nonperishable foods and canned goods. In recent years, at Council President Rebecca Williams' suggestion, donations of personal hygiene articles are also sought. Williams has noted that church groups and others aiding homeless folks have said that sanitary napkins and tampons are among the most requested items by their clients.

Their will be tents in the back yard to shade the guests, as folks gather to catch up on news and meet new residents of the city. Live music begins as darkness falls and folks turn the driveway near the garage into an impromptu dance floor.

And of course not to be missed is the Mayor's own special recipe Rum Punch.

Mayor Mapp and Amelia invite all to bring family, friends and neighbors and have a good time!

There are also three other events throughout the day --

10 AM - 2 PM: Second Street Youth Center Community Day

Many activities for children and families, including games, rides, face painting, entertainments, health screenings and presentations by elected officials. Music by Calvary Baptist Church Choir. Book bags filled with supplies will be handed out as long as they last.

The event is on the SSYC Playground, 935 South Second Street.

11 AM - 3 PM: Neighborhood Health Center Festival

The NHC concludes its observance of National Health Center Week with an event at its NHC-Cardinal Center at Plainfield High School.

The event features health and dental screenings, Nutrition information, Educational demonstrations, Moonwalk, games, refreshments and door prizes.

Use the Stelle Avenue parking lot at Plainfield High School, just off Park Avenue.
Noon - 8 PM: BKS1 and The Brothers BBQ Community Appreciation Day

The 4th Annual Community Appreciation Day will be held at Milt Campbell Field.

A great day of music, all types of food, live entertainment and DJs. Games for the kids and family fun for all. Free hot dogs and hamburgers to 3 PM or when supplies run out.

Milt Campbell Field is located on East 3rd Street near Terrill Road.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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