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Monday, October 21, 2019

School board candidate forum Wednesday, October 30


The Campbell slate was the first to hit the streets
with their signs.


The Mapp slate's signs also feature dark blue
with yellow and white lettering.



The Plainfield League of Women Voters (LWV) is holding a candidate forum for the Board of Education candidates next Wednesday, October 30. The forum will be held at duCret School of the Arts.
The original field of nine has shrunk with the with the withdrawal of Carolyn Thomas and the disqualification of former BOE member Dorien Hurtt for insufficient signatures.

What is left are two slates of three candidates each and one independent candidate, Eric Andrew.

The slates are 'For Our Children' -- composed of incumbents Carmencita Pile, Lynn Anderson-Person and newcomer Mack Rice. This slate is backed by Plainfield Democratic chairman Adrian O. Mapp.

The other slate is running as the 'Children First Team' and is made up of Sherrill Cassett-Denny, Willie Pat Humbree, and Paulina DeLeon. None have served previously; this slate is considered the 'John Campbell slate'.

There is some confusion about the start time of the forum. The LWV Facebook page lists the time as 6:00 to 9:00 PM. TAPinto says the forum starts at 6:30 PM.

duCret School of the Arts is at 1030 Central Avenue. Ample parking is available in the rear lot, with entrance to the auditorium off the parking lot.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Trump makes a hit in 'Wizard of Oz'


Nancy splashes water on the witch.
(Toon appeared in
The Washington Post.)


Shifting our focus from Plainfield today to bring a humorous take on President Trump's meltdown at a White House meeting he called with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats.

He played the witch that melted away after being doused with water.

Very presidential.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 18, 2019

UPDATED: Councilor Davis inadvertently omitted from Ward 1 meet-and-greet notice?


Councilors Ashley Davis and Elton Armady
surveyed storm damage in June while everyone
else (except Councilor Storch) was in Hawaii.



UPDATED, 9:30 AM. An email from Robert K. Graham ("Mr. Plainfield"), who is organizing a First Ward meet-and-greet seems to have inadvertently left off the name of First Ward Councilor Ashley Davis.

The event is billed as an opportunity for "Mayor Mapp, city leaders, and stakeholders" to meet First Ward residents. While the Ward's district leaders are mentioned, its Council representative is not.

I am sure it is an oversight, as Ms. Davis -- who is closing out the first year of her term and is making her mark -- was the candidate of a process 100% controlled by Chairman Mapp.

Councilors Goode and Armady, who also represent the First Ward, were also omitted. Truly, an oddly phrased announcement.

Originally scheduled for Wednesday, October 30 (the night of the League of Women Voters candidate forum, in which Chairman Mapp has a Board of Ed slate), it was suddenly switched to Tuesday, October 29.

I suspect Chairman Mapp or Mr. Graham got a phone call from LWV president Timothy Priano about the conflict.

The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, at Adrian's Catering, 1108 East 2nd Street (corner of Netherwood Avenue).

The invitation says the meeting "will be focused on ... learning about resident's [sic] concerns, informing ... how to get involved in affairs of the city," and ask questions. And of course, there will be delicious food!

The focus is the First Ward, but all are invited (I got an invite). However, be nice -- to help judge how much food to prepare, please register for the event here.

(I was startled to see the online invite says the event is in "partnership with the City of Plainfield". I never understood that Democratic Party business and City business could be mixed in the same event in NJ. And certainly that City monies could not be used to pay for a Democratic Party event. Have I missed something?)

For more information, call organizer Robert K. Graham at (908) 342-1125.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Schools cause collateral business damage in Plainfield?


A policy change by thee District has an outsized
impact on a cherished Plainfield business.



The Plainfield Public Schools have caused unprecedented collateral damage in the Plainfield business community.

Collateral damage is a term drawn from warfare and refers to casualties among innocent victims as a result of military actions.

In the case of Plainfield, the school district inaugurated a program of staggered starts for the schools with the beginning of the fall 2019 term.

This has meant that the District is essentially able to meet all its school bus transportation needs from its own fleet of vehicles kept at the old high school.

It has meant a savings of $800,000 for the year, according to a school official. This is important for a district which is always facing difficulty with its budgets -- which are reliant on state funding to a high degree.

It has also meant a corresponding loss in income for one of Plainfield's proudest local businesses -- Amaker & Porterfield -- which must absorb the loss.


Amaker & Porterfield is a full service transportation company and has other operations besides school buses -- medical transportation and tour buses, for instances.

But still, it must be a painful hit to their business.

I am reminded of an old country saying by my grandmother: It doesn't matter if the rock hits the jug or the jug hits the rock; it is sad for the jug.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Fundraiser for Plainfield Assemblywoman Carter this Thursday


Plainfield's own Linda Carter is running
for Assembly in her own right in November.


Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and Rahway Mayor Raymond Giacobbe are co-hosting a fundraiser for Plainfield Assemblywoman Linda Carter this Thursday evening (October 17).

Carter was selected by the Union County Democratic Committee to replace the late Jerry Green after his passing in 2018. She is now running for a 2- year term in her own right.

Carter, widely known in the community, began her career in politics as a candidate for the First Ward, a seat which she then held until she went to the Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The event is being held at the home of Adrian and Amelia Mapp, 535 West 8th Street.

Supporter tickets are $300/person and VIP tickets are $1,000 each. The VIP portion of the reception will be from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Supporters will be welcomed from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Please RSVP to Ayisha at (908) 477-5735 or by email here.

Checks should be made payable to "Linda Carter for Assembly".

Those who cannot attend but wish to contribute may send checks to --

Linda Carter for Assembly
311 West Henry Street
Linden, NJ 07036




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

PMUA to appear at Plainfield City Council Tuesday


Moving? The PMUA rents dumpsters for cleanouts.


In addition to taking up items brought forward from last week's agenda-setting session, PMUA officials are to appear at Tuesday's Plainfield City Council business meeting (Monday is a holiday). But it may not be what you expect.

The PMUA and City Council are supposed to get together annually. The practice has been more honored in the breach than in reality. But it looks like this year is on.

There are those in the community who are suggesting this will be an opportunity for residents to question the PMUA on concerns.

Don't count on it.

The PMUA officials are coming to meet the Council members in open session, make a report and answer Councilors' questions.

The meeting is placed as a 'discussion item' before the scheduled agenda items.

This means two things --

1) the discussion will take place before the public has a chance to make any comments; and


2) the public will probably not be able to make comments about the PMUA at the meeting since it is not formally on the agenda for action.



This isn't really such a big deal, since residents are perfectly free to go before the PMUA Board of Commissioners at their monthly meetings and raise questions or concerns.

City Council meets for its business session at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Plainfield Symphony presents 'Bartok and Batik' at season opener Saturday


Austrian composer and pianist Roland Batik
will perform in the American premiere of
one of his works for piano and orchestra.



The first concert in the Plainfield Symphony's 100th season is this Saturday and features music of Béla Bártok and Roland Batik -- hence the title 'Bártok  and Batik'.

A highlight of the evening will be the American Premiere of Batik's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 1 – Meditation upon Peace.

Batik, an Austrian pianist and composer, works to bring together jazz and classical elements. He will perform as the soloist in this, the American premiere of his composition.

Also on the program is
Bártok's Concerto for Orchestra. Composed in 1943, after Bártok had fled his native Hungary at the outbreak of WWII, it is unusual for being in five movements (in contrast the with concerto's traditional four movements).

It is considered one of the composer's most popular works.

The Plainfield Symphony Orchestra's music director Charles Prince will give a talk on the evening's program preceding the concert at 6:15 in the church. Ticket holders will be admitted at no charge.

Tickets may be purchased online here, and are also available at the door: Reserved seating (first 6 rows) $65/person, General admission $45/person, Seniors (over 65)/Students (with ID) $30/person.

There is also a concert after party offering a full buffet supper. Following this concert, an after party will take place at 1434 Chetwynd Avenue. Admission is $50 and tickets can be purchased at www.plainfieldsymphony.org or paid at the door with a reservation.

The Plainfield Symphony Orchestra performs at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church, at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking available in the church lot on First Place, on the street or in the Swain Galleries lot across from the church.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Mayor Mapp's school board slate kicks off fall campaign with fundraiser tonight


Mayor Mapp's slate is holding a fundraiser tonight


You know what October means. Campaigning for the November elections gets under way in earnest.

That includes the Plainfield Board of Education election, which now takes place alongside the partisan elections on Tuesday, November 5.

Mayor Mapp's slate of Board of Education candidates will be honored at a reception tonight (October 9) hosted by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp and his wife, First Lady Amelia Mapp at the home of Beverly and Wilbert Gill.

This year's slate consists of Lynn Anderson-Person, Carmencita Pile and Mack Rice. Anderson-Person and Pile are incumbents seeking another term. Rice would be serving on the school board for the first time if elected.

Donations for the event are $300 per person. Checks should be made payable to 'For Our Children'.

The Gill home is at 1212 Grant Avenue (near the intersection of Pemberton Avenue).

For those who cannot attend, contributions may be sent to --
For Our Children
c/o Joylette Mills-Ransome
701 Stelle Avenue
Plainfield, NJ 07060



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Some interesting items in Monday's Plainfield City Council agenda-setting session


The Police Department is proposing to used unspent
monies from previous bonds to buy three 2018 Ford
police interceptor SUVs (shown above as used by the NYPD).



Plainfield City Council meets Monday (October 7) for its agenda-setting session.

There are several items of interest after scanning the agenda --


(1) There is a reminder that representatives from the PMUA will be at next week's Council business session (Tuesday, October 15 -- Monday is a holiday).



(2) Bond Ordinance 1268 is up for final passage next week. It provides for reapplying unused monies from previous bonds toward several projects for the Police Department: renovations to the bathrooms at HQ; cleaning and upgrading portions of the antiquated HVAC system; and the purchase of three (3) new SUVs. It seems notable that there are now so many SUVs in the police fleet -- quite a bit different from the days when sedans were the principal purchases. With all the noise about being more environmentally conscious, I am curious as to the rationale for these gas-guzzlers.



(3) Certification of review of the annual audit and the group certification signed by the full Council (item A). There was only ONE item to be addressed with a corrective action plan: someone, somewhere is still not getting cash deposits to the bank on time. Remarkable progress under Mayor Mapp (as I recently noted here)!



(4) An emergency appropriation for salaries and wages (item G). The backup material states that four (4) employees -- either through job reinstatements, court action, or contractual obligations -- must be compensated but had not been provided for in the current CY2019 budget. Since the total amount is less than 3% of the city's budget, this can be done with a simple resolution. It requires, however, a super majority (5 votes) for passage. The money will be raised in the 2020 budget. (You can see where this is going.)



(5) The Division of Recreation (item Q) is applying for a grant for recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities (ROID) to provide swimming lessons for individuals on the autism spectrum. This will supplement the Division's existing swimming programs. It was interesting to note in the proposal that outreach would be done via "the City's Division of Recreation website and Facebook page" in addition to the school system and other organizations. While there are Facebook pages maintained by the City as a whole and at least one city agency (the Fire Department), I am unaware of a Facebook page for Recreation -- though it seems it would be a good idea.

One other brief note -- in glancing at the Pennoni proposal for a Route 28 traffic study, it notes ten APR (traffic measuring devices) are to be placed at locations between Hamilton Avenue and West Front Street in the west to Berckman Street and East 5th Street in the east. I believe the next to last location in the list of ten should read "5th Street between Watchung Avenue and Richmond Street" and not "Plainfield Avenue" as stated.

All in all, looks to be a rather quiet evening -- but I have been wrong before.


City Council meets in an agenda-setting session at 7:00 PM Monday, October 7, in the Council Chambers / Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street. Parking available on the street and in the lot across from Police Headquarters.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Organ and piano recital Sunday afternoon continue Crescent Avenue's 175th anniversary celebration


Crescent Church's new organist, Cameron Kuzepski,
will give a welcome recital this afternoon.



Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church (CAPC) continues to mark its 175th Anniversary with an organ and piano recital this afternoon (October 6) by its new organist and choir director Cameron J.S. Kuzepski. The recital is at 3:00 PM. A reception to meet Mr. Kuzepski will follow.

Kuzepski, a student at Juilliard (on Saturdays) is a rising senior at
Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, DE, his hometown.

The 18-year-old wunderkind began his formal music studies at the age of 7, after having been mentored by a preschool teacher at a Presbyterian church in Wilmington where the
music director allowed him to play the organ.

“I fell in love with [the organ] and have been playing ever since,” he said. In addition to the piano and organ, Kuzepski is also accomplished at the cello and harpsichord.


Kuzepski already has two organ gigs under his belt before coming to Crescent Avenue --he has been the organist and choirmaster at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington and also at St. James Episcopal Church in Newport, Delaware.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church Pastor Lynn Santulli says, “We are very excited to see what God has in store for us here as we launch a whole new program of music that builds on our traditions and opens us to fresh voices and new ways of bringing incredible music to our church and our community."

The concert is free and all are invited (there will be a free will offering to support the music program at CAPC).

Historic Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is as the corner of East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue (716 Watchung for GPS). Parking available at Swain Galleries across the street, in the church lot on First Place, or on the street. CAPC is a handicap-accessible facility.

For more information on CAPC or its music program, call the church office at (908) 756-2468 or visit the website at  www.crescentonline.org/.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, October 4, 2019

20th Annual Blessing of the Animals Sunday at Leland Park


Canon Leroy Lyons blesses a horse.




Jett was a star at the 2018 Blessing.




Pets and their people will enjoy treats after the Blessings.



The 20th annual Plainfield Celebration of Animals is set for this Sunday (October 6) Leland Avenue Park, at 1:30 PM.

Originally begun by the Friends of Sleepy Hollow, in recent years the program has been sponsored by the
Animal Initiative Committee.

The event is free and open to everyone -- with or without pets -- to celebrate the importance of animals in the lives of human beings.
 
“Anatole France’s quote ‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened,’ says it best,” said Maryellen Chanda, Celebration event chairwoman.

Held in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, leaders of local religious and spiritual traditions will offer blessings for all animals. Three horses will also participate in the celebration.

“We invite everyone to bring their pets to receive a blessing,” said Ms. Chanda.

All animals must be properly restrained. Pets uncomfortable around other animals should be left at home and photos can be brought to receive a blessing for them.

This year’s theme is ‘First, Do No Harm’ to raise people’s awareness of how-to live-in harmony with the animals in our area.

Water will be available for the animals and light vegan refreshments provided by Ester’s Treats and The Coffee Box will be served after the blessing.

The Animal Initiative Committee (AIC) is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to increasing people’s awareness of their responsibility for the well-being of all animals.

“Wildlife and companion animals are being needlessly killed due to inadequate facilities and lack of education programs,” said Mrs. Chanda.

The AIC focuses on the problem of overpopulation of dogs and cats, especially community cats. It implemented a very successful trap, neuter, and return (TNR) program for the latter.

“We emphasize the importance of the use of available spay/neuter programs in controlling dog and cat populations, which can only succeed with the active support of everyone in the community,” Ms. Chanda stressed. “Volunteers are always needed to help with this important effort”, she concluded.

For more information about the Animal Initiative Committee, email Plainfieldaic2000@gmail.com.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Community meeting on redevelopment spotlights a necessary conversation that Plainfield has never had


Many were disturbed at learning of the City's plan for a
'condemnation' redevelopment area.



CORRECTED: The correct actor/professor is Matt McConaughey. The City of Plainfield is sponsoring a community meeting on redevelopment on Tuesday evening (October 1) at the Plainfield High School cafeteria. The meeting is set to run from 6:00 to 8:00 PM.

Economic Development Director Valerie Jackson and Planning Director Bill Nierstedt will explain what redevelopment is (and how it differs from development), current and proposed projects, and the various tools available to the City in pursuing redevelopment.

The meeting is in response to the unexpected large turnout at the last Planning Board meeting, where many who came out had the impression that the Planning Board was going to vote on a redevelopment plan for 120 properties the City has identified in what is called the TODD South area -- roughly from East 4th Street to East 7th Street between Park and Watchung Avenues. That meeting was shut down at the suggestion of fire department officials because of the size of the crowd (though not until after one applicant had been heard).

The area contains a number of vacant and under-used buildings. Some are on the National Register of Historic Buildings (the YMCA); some are freighted with significant historical associations to the City (the original Police Station at 4th and Cleveland); and some are buildings that would be adaptable to current needs (the former Earl & Al's Restaurant Supply is in a building with -- as an owner told me -- about 150 parking spaces on the upper floors. (Malcolm Dunn's building on Park Avenue, though not in this area, also has indoor parking.)

In addition, there are buildings in which a significant investment has been made to upgrade them for new uses (the former auto dealership at 5th and Cleveland, which now houses Social Services).

There are of course dilapidated buildings that everyone would like to see something done with, but business and property owners and residents of the area clearly were alarmed at what they feared was happening.

THE CONVERSATION WE'VE NEVER HAD

On Saturday afternoon, I happened to listen to an NPR quiz show on the car radio. They were making gentle fun of the the actor-turned-professor
Matt McConaughey's recent appointment as the 'cultural ambassador' of the University of Texas at Austin, the flagship campus.

Austin is undergoing explosive growth and economic development. In response to the ribbing, he offered an explanation of why he was given the (I think) non-salaried position.

McClanahan said the University and the City asked themselves this question: How do we embrace and keep the core everything we love about this city (Austin) and at the same time embrace progress?

I nearly drove off the roadway. Of course! THIS is the conversation Plainfield needs to have but has never had.

We have been involved in the many efforts at strategic planning and visioning ever since the late Mayor Al McWilliams pushed Plainfield's first strategic planning process back in the late 1990s.

We also have had various charettes focusing on selected areas of the city, and finally the Vision 2025 exercise which, under the leadership of Mayor Mapp's former chief of staff, mobilized hundreds of people to consider what would make Plainfield a better place to live, work and shop in by 2025.

But there is one glaring thing we have never done.

We have never had a conversation about what are those things about Plainfield that we love as they are and do not wish to see changed?

It would be easy to get so caught up in the rush of projects coming at us, that we neglected to say 'this we love, this helps us define ourselves as a city, this stays as is'.

That is the conversation that we need to start having now, before the wrecking ball obliterates stuff the community considers essential in the name of economic development.

Hopefully, Tuesday evening's discussion can open the way to a Plainfield conversation about what we all agree we love about this city and don't want to see changed.

The Plainfield High School cafeteria is on the Kenyon Avenue side of the school between West 9th Street and Stelle Avenue. Parking available in the Kenyon and Stelle Avenue lots.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman holds Plainfield Town Hall Monday


Plainfield's beloved Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman
Is holding a Town Hall Monday evening.


Bonnie Watson Coleman is practically a rock star celebrity to Plainfielders. She always was from the beginning when she first ran for the House of Representatives, and now even more so after successfully battling a health issue that seems to have involved chemo and radiation.

So I think we can expect an overflow crowd when she holds a Town Hall meeting this Monday evening at the Plainfield Senior Center.

Like all members of the House of Representatives, Watson Coleman is up for election this November, but she is a shoe-in. However, since there are Republican voters in the district, we may expect some to show up. We should all be on our best manners.

I believe this is her first Town Hall appearance since last Thursday's bombshell House hearing when a whistleblower's complaint was released and President Donald J. Trump is now facing a real impeachment inquiry.

Plainfielders will no doubt have questions for her on how she thinks things should proceed and other matters.

Also, since this is her first impeachment-season outing, it is reasonable to expect a lot of media presence. (So if you want to impress your mom, be sure to dress up a little.)

The event is slated to start at 7:00 PM. My guess is the doors will be open by 6:30 PM. Come early if you want a seat.

The Plainfield Senior Center is at 400 East Front Street (intersection of Sandford Avenue). Parking on the street or in the Bank of America lot. Do not park behind the building as these spaces are reserved for tenants.




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Third Annual Tri-County History Fair at the Plainfield Public Library Saturday


The original Muhlenberg Hospital on Muhlenberg Place
between West 3rd and South Second Streets, ca. 1880s.



The Plainfield Public Library is hosting the Third Annual Tri-County History Fair this Saturday (September 28) from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

The well-organized event draws history and genealogy organizations from Union, Middlesex and Somerset Counties, and includes activities for the whole family.

Attendees will receive a free raffle ticket upon entering. This year's Grand Prize is a Newspapers.com Publishers Extra subscription.

In addition, there will be two free lectures. At 11:30 AM, author and storyteller Carol Simon Levin will present 'Reclaiming Our Voices: New Jersey's Role in the Fight for Woman Suffrage', in which she portrays Plainfielder Lillian Feickert.

The afternoon lecture is at 1:30 PM, when Union County College emeritus history professor Dr. Lawrence Hogan will talk about "The Best Kept Secret in American Journalism: The Associated Negro Press".

From Noon to 2:00 PM, "Find Your Family in 1940". There will be one-on-one lookups in the U.S. Census in Room 8. Staff genealogists will help you discover your family history. Free, but registration required the day of the event.
Past exhibitors have included the following --


  • Afro-American Historical & Genealogical Society
  • Central Jersey Genealogical Club
  • Elizabeth Public Library - Local History & Special Collections
  • Genealogical Society of New Jersey
  • Genealogical Society of the West Fields
  • Green Brook Historical Society
  • Historical Society of Plainfield/Drake House Museum
  • League of Historical Societies of New Jersey
  • Metuchen Public Library
  • Metuchen-Edison Historical Society
  • Miller-Cory House Museum/Westfield Historical Society
  • North Jersey Genealogy and History Center
  • Plainfield Historic Preservation Commission
  • Plainfield Symphony
  • Proprietary House
  • Somerset County Historical Society
  • Somerset County Library
  • South Plainfield Historical Society
  • The Dutchess Bookstore
  • Ukrainian History & Education Center
  • Union County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs
  • Van Wyck Brooks Historic District
  • Virtual Genealogy Club
 
Join your friends and neighbors at this free, marvelous event.

All activities take place on the lower level of the Plainfield Public Library at Park Avenue and West 8th Street. Light refreshments will be available for purchase, or bring a lunch and stay all day.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and 8th Street. Parking available in the library's two lots and on the street. The Plainfield Public Library is an ADA-accessible facility. For more information, contact the Local History Department at (908) 757-1111 x136.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Plainfield scores near perfect on 2018 audit


This year's audit of the city is near perfect.



City Clerk A-Jay Jalloh released the CY2018 auditor's report a few days ago.

The city came in with a near-perfect audit -- as noted by the number of "findings" or matters needing correction, which are always posted at the end of the report.

It has been a long struggle -- led by Mayor Adrian O. Mapp (who is himself a certified municipal finance professional) -- and a struggle that shows improvement every year.

But it was not always thus. Under Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs for eight years, Plainfield's finances were in disarray much of that time --

  • In 2010, $41,000 in cash was found to be missing from one division -- see here;


  • The 2012 audit found severe problems in the Tax Collector's office (this was before David Marshall took over and has fixed things) -- read more here;


  • By 2015, Mayor Mapp and his team had whittled the "findings" down to only 7 -- of which four concerned the Purchasing Division (things there have been straightened out with the arrival of Cythia Blake as the city's Certified Purchasing Agent) -- see here;


  • In 2016, there was only one finding --  concerning the reporting required of the city's outsourced animal control program -- see more here.


This year (CY2018), there is once again only one "finding" -- having to do with the timely deposit of monies received by Planning, Fire and Engineering/Public Works, which deposits are supposed to be made withing 48 hours of receipt.

Given the enormous strides that have been made over the past decade, this one small finding is rather like being stopped for having a turning signal not working.

You will want to have it fixed.


Within 60 days of receipt of the audit report, the Council must adopt a "corrective action plan" proposed by the Chief Financial Officer to address the findings.

Mayor Mapp and his entire team deserve our thanks for the tremendous progress all have achieved on behalf of the City. Makin' us look good, guys!



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Fr. Peter Manzo, priest out of Grace Church congregation, dies


The Rev. Peter Manzo distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday 2015
outside his church in Cherry Hill. (Image, Philadelphia Inquirer.)



Word came to parishioners of Grace Episcopal Church Sunday morning (September 22) that the Rev. Peter Manzo, a son of the congregation, had passed away last Sunday, September 15 in High Point, North Carolina.

I remember the day in the early 1990s when I first met Peter and his wife Joan.

It was the Saturday of a Mother's Day weekend and fellow Grace Church member Lois Mattson and I were managing the parish's Mother's Day plant sale in front of the church.

Though Grace Church is on busy East 7th Street, it turned out not to be the best location for a sale because it was hard for people to pull over on 7th without jamming traffic. As a consequence, we did not have droves of sales.

But it was a beautiful sunny afternoon and quite enjoyable. Somewhere during our time, a couple we did not know evidently parked across 7th Street in the public lot and crossed over. They were mildly interested in the plant sale, but noticed the church door was open and asked if they could go inside.

"Of course," we said. And they did.

After a few minutes they came out and engaged us in conversation. They were impressed with the church's beautiful windows and asked about services. We gave them the information and said we would be glad to see them on a Sunday.

The very next day, they showed up at Mass and never left until Peter was ordained a priest.

As we got to know Peter and Joan, we learned that Peter had been ordained a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church but that his clerical career had come to an abrupt end when his first wife divorced him.

He and Joan became regular attendees and soon had joined the parish and were received into the Episcopal Church.

They were a gregarious and fun-loving couple, and shortly had begun a monthly fellowship supper for the parish. Joan did all the cooking and she and Peter put on the meal, usually for 70 or 80 parishioners in the parish hall.

I remember one October meal in particular, with an Oktoberfest theme with German-inspired food and a wide selection of beers to sample throughout the evening. (I still think pumpkin beer is weird, though.)

After a few years, the priesthood began to tug at Peter's heart. Being divorced and remarried was not an insurmountable obstacle in the Episcopal Church.

Accordingly, a parish discernment committee was appointed of which I was the chair. Six or eight of us met with Peter on a regular basis over several months to read, study, pray and do faith-sharing as a means to discern if there was a call to the priesthood.

There were frank and probing discussions in an effort to make sure the life-changing nature of ordained ministry was understood. In the end, the committee arrived at a consensus that Peter should be recommended for the next step, which included evaluation at the diocesan level and then a period of mentored service in another parish than his home church.

Peter passed muster and eventually was admitted to General Theological Seminary in New York for his Anglican theological studies.

He was ordained by Bishop Joe Morris Doss in 1999. He went on to serve as an assistant at St. Luke's in Gladstone and then was called as the rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in Cherry Hill, from which he retired in 2016.

I remember in particular many sharp discussions around Anglican history and theology -- especially the role and importance of Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury under Henry VIII who is most responsible for the translation and adaptation of the Latin "Sarum" service books which we now know as the Book of Common Prayer.

Peter was an almost unbridled Cranmer enthusiast. I, having recently been beaten about the head and shoulders by the author Eamon Duffy, argued for a less Calvinist and more Catholic view. (Perhaps in part it was also my coming out of the Methodist tradition, which never was big on Calvin.)

After Peter and Joan moved to South Jersey, we lost touch although I did hear occasional news through the church grapevine.

Over the years, Peter became more and more conservative theologically, aligning himself with those who could not envision same-sex marriage as anything but a communion-breaker.

Although the Diocese of New Jersey did not have many clergy in this camp, Peter was fearful after 2008 that the Episcopal Church would break up over the issue.

Fortunately -- unlike in other dioceses -- a wise and moderating Bishop Councell avoided bringing issues to a fever pitch and Peter never broke communion with the Episcopal Church.

Peter Manzo was born February 16, 1947. His best friend in high school was a Jewish student, Mort Gati, founding director of Bridgeway House in Elizabeth. Mort Gati was gay, something I don't think Peter knew until he was told by his Plainfield friends who new Mort -- Lois Mattson and her husband Cory Storch, Mort's successor at Bridgeway House.

Peter was a graduate of Georgetown University (B.A.), Columbia School of Business (M.B.A.), and Cornell Law School (J.D.). His Anglican studies were undertaken at General Theological Seminary in New York City.

Peter leaves behind his beloved wife Joan and their three children Larisa, Andrew and Lucia.

A funeral service officiated by Bishop William H. Stokes will take place Sunday, October 13 at 2:00 PM in St. Bartholomew's Church, 1989 Route 70 East in Cherry Hill.

Condolences may be left on the funeral home's website here.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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