Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Harriet Tubman’s Canadian church seeks help for repairs



The church Harriet Tubman attended when she lived in
St. Catharines, Ontario. Photo courtesy of
Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church.

 
By Adelle M. Banks

(RNS) — A century and a half ago, a new Canadian church gave fleeing slaves a place to worship. Now the sanctuary that welcomed Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman and other escapees needs help itself.

The dwindling membership of Salem Chapel, a British Methodist Episcopal church just north of Niagara Falls, has started a crowdsourcing campaign (their gofundme page is here) in hopes of raising C$100,000 — the equivalent of $77,486 in U.S. currency.

The congregation wants to shore up the building, which is in an area where heavy traffic has contributed to its shifting foundation.



Harriet Tubman portrait. Photo courtesy of
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


Dedicated in 1855 by runaway slaves and free blacks, the church needs cable wires to secure the log frame of the building ahead of expected nearby construction and wants to replace parts of the building that are deteriorating or damaged.

Salem Chapel is in St. Catharines, Ontario, a spot known as an end point of the Underground Railroad, the multi-pronged clandestine route through which slaves escaped to freedom. Some of the people Tubman helped escape became members of the church.

Rochelle Bush, one of the 11 remaining members who launched the campaign, is the great-great-great-granddaughter of the Rev. James Harper, who was the minister in charge of the congregation when Tubman attended and when it changed its affiliation from the African Methodist Episcopal Church to BME.**

“We became British Methodist Episcopal in 1856 because nobody wanted to go back for conference (in the United States) because of the fugitive slave laws,” Bush said, adding that about 10 churches in Ontario remain British Methodist Episcopal and consider the AME Church their parent organization.

After the Civil War, the church, which began with 195 members, began to dwindle as members returned across the border, decreasing to about 40 in 1970. Most of its members now are age 80 and older.

The congregation, which continues to meet for worship each Sunday with a pastor and a pianist, has been sustained by tourists, who increased from about 2,500 annually to 4,000 this year, Bush said. Visitors pay a $5 admission to learn about “the who’s who in the abolitionist movement” — including Frederick Douglass and John Brown — who have visited the church.


The church Harriet Tubman attended when she lived in
St. Catharines, Ontario. (Photo courtesy of
Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church)

“That’s what helps us keep the church doors open and it pays the bills throughout the winter season,” she said.

But now, the church’s members say they need more assistance to keep their building available for future generations.

“(W)e want to ensure that it continues to serve as a religious institution and because it is an important treasure in North American history,” they said.


Reprinted from Religion News Service, November 3, 2017.

About Adelle M. Banks



Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter with Religion News Service, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

**Explanatory Note: The reference to "conference" may need some explanation for those not of the Wesleyan tradition. I grew up in a Wesleyan church (the Evangelical United Brethren, who merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church).

The local church is governed by a board elected by members of the congregation. The District Superintendent visits this board four times a year in his or her supervisory role. These meetings are called the "Quarterly Conference".

Once a year, representatives of all the congregations in a designated area (a part of a state, or the whole state in some cases) gather in an "Annual Conference", at which business affecting all the congregations is transacted -- most importantly receiving annual reports, setting financial assessments for each congregation and the announcement of clergy transfers. Attendance by congregational representatives at these annual conferences is considered mandatory.

During the period when the church in this story was formed, it would have exposed delegates to slave catchers were representatives to be sent across the border to the U.S. -- hence the affiliation with British Methodism.  -- Dan



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Council sets combined meeting for December 11


Notice in an email from the Municipal Clerk's office today.

 

Per an email from Municipal Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh on Tuesday, City Council's agenda meeting set for Monday, December 4 has been cancelled and is being replaced with a combined meeting on Monday, December 11, starting at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers/Courthouse at Watchung Avenue and East 4th Street.

This is sure to set Olddoc's teeth on edge, as this is now the fourth month this year in which the deliberation meeting has been collapsed into the business meeting. What has happened in practice is that there is almost no deliberation, giving rise to the impression of "rubber stamping".

My kvetch is with the notice, which refers to a "joint meeting". To my mind, a joint meeting would be like when a foreign poobah addresses a joint session (meeting) of both houses of Congress; or when the Council meets with another body -- such as the PMUA commissioners or the Board of Education.

When two of the Council's own sessions -- agenda-setting and business -- are combined and no other body is meeting with the Council, it seems to me that grammatically that is a "combined session".

But as the Holy Father says, "Who am I to judge?"



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Where Dems need to pay attention



Two of the 36 towns that voted for both Trump and
Murphy are in Union Count. (Images from NJ.com)

 
The Ledger has an interesting story on its NJ.com website about the 36 New Jersey towns that voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election and Phil Murphy in the 2017 gubernatorial election (see here).

Of course, disgust with Chris Christie could have influenced the results, at least in part.

But there are towns here that I think demonstrate the success of Trump's populist appeal (especially on jobs and immigration) that would have been considered traditionally Democratic.

By way of illustration, consider the two Union County towns that are on the list -- Garwood and Winfield Park.

Time for the Democrats to pay attention.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Monday, November 27, 2017

NJPAC presents "Firebird" program for kids Saturday at Plainfield Library


Ballet star Misty Copeland's picture book
inspires youngsters.

 
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) is bringing a family program to the Plainfield Public Library this Saturday (December 2) -- featuring an inspirational telling of the story of a young girl whose confidence is fragile and who questions her own ability but learns how she too can become the Firebird.

That girl is inspired by Misty Copeland, the first African American Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, who danced the lead role in Firebird.

NJPAC teaching artist Wincey Terry will lead a reading of Copeland's picture book on Firebird, with listeners role playing parts in the famous ballet.

Terry will also lead the kids (and adults) in completing arts and crafts activities.

Copies of Copeland's picture book "Firebird" will be presented to the first 50 families to register for the FREE event. Just visit the NJPAC website here, and scroll down to the Plainfield listing (it's about 2/3 of the way down the page). Click on the Plainfield listing and you can register.

Note that the program is free and registration is only required if you want to get a FREE copy of the book (first 50 families only). The program runs from 2:00 - 4:00 PM in the Anne Louise Davis Room on the library's ground level.

The Plainfield Public Library is at Park Avenue and West 8th Street and is an accessible facility. Parking is available in the 8th and 9th Street lots. For more information about library hours and programs, visit the library's website at www.plainfieldlibrary.info/.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Is Fox News making romance impossible?


Cartoon by Horsey for the Los Angeles Times.
(Click on image to view full size or print.)

 
Los Angeles Times cartoonist Horsey thinks Fox News is making romance impossible.

Or is it MSNBC?



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mayor Mapp: A season of giving



It is the season of giving.

 
Thanksgiving is just behind us which means that we are officially in the midst of our holiday season. Most people look forward to this time of year as it brings families and friends together, it reminds us of the things that are important, and it lights the spark of giving in our hearts.

Taking care of those who need a helping hand is something we should embrace all year round, but during the holidays we want to ensure that no family goes without, that every child has a toy to enjoy, that there is food on every table and a warm place to offer comfort.

Outreach to those in our community who are in need is a pivotal part of my administration's mandate. This is why we partner with generous organizations to distribute book bags throughout the year. It's why we provide turkeys for those who need to have something extra on the table. It's why we have a coat drive to collect and distribute jackets to those who need additional warmth. It's what drives our annual toy drive as we strive to ensure that all the little ones among us receive something to make the holidays brighter.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure self-sufficiency for every resident of our city, but we recognize some need practical help from time to time. It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and we can each be the spark which ignites our community and starts a fire of giving.

This holiday season let's spread some joy, let's share the blessings and let's give love abundantly in our beautiful city of Plainfield and beyond.

Creating One Plainfield - One Future...

Mayor Adrian O. Mapp



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Laundry daze


Innovation strikes the laundromat business.

 
One of the chores of being an amputee is that the socks that bulk up my stump to fit in my prosthesis need to be washed -- separately.

These consist of a thick woolen sock which goes on first over my 'gel sock' (a silicone lined sheath that goes directly over the stump, cushioning it), and then a variable number of elasticized white cotton socks that bulk up the whole to fit snugly inside the prosthesis, making for comfortable walking.

I started out hand washing all these socks, but that soon grew old. So I began taking them to the Laundry Factory at 576 Route 22 East just east of the Watchung Avenue ramp, before the 7 Eleven.

A small mchine cost $2.00 and could be set for gentle washing and spin dry and I could read a book for the 25 minutes it all took.

On Tuesday I go in with a load of socks and proceed to the quarter machine with a $5 bill only to find the 'insert bill here' slot taped over. I went looking for the nice lady who works there on weekdays and she told me, "no more quarters, use the machine over there."

Well, the machine over there turned out to be dispense what they are calling a "Laundry Card" which can be loaded with any amount of cash you put into the machine. She suggested $3 would cover the small machie I use.

OK.

Then I see that the old machines have been totally replaced by new machines equipped with card readers. I insert my card and the little window shows it is going to be debited $2.19 for a load of wash.

I press 'Start', am prompted to select my wash cycle, put some detergent in and away we go.

The card is for keeps and cash may be added as needed. It's simple and easy, with no more pockets bulging from unused quarters (though I always kept them in my unused ash tray for parking meters -- which are also going electronic).

The card indicates the business has changed hands and is now the "Triple Clean Laundromat" and open 24 hours a day.

The system also allows the establishment to set rates (like $2.19) flexibly, not a bad idea from the owner's point of view.

No matter, it still beats the drudgery of hand washing.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Enjoy Turkey Day -- the post on charter schools will wait a couple of days


What on earth is that sprig (Rosemary?) doing there?

 
What was I thinking when I said a post on the issues with charter schools would appear "tomorrow". Well, "tomorrow" is Thanksgiving Day and only hardcore Plainfield Today junkies will be checking in (thank you for those who do!).

I will defer the post for a couple of days -- at least until the turkey leftovers are mostly consumed.

Enjoy Thanksgiving family, food and fun. And remember to be thankful.

This year, I certainly am.

See you tomorrow!


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

BOE: Charter schools a topic again


One of the criticisms of charters is that they
expel problem students, whereas public schools can't.

 
At the public comment portion of Tuesday's Plainfield Board of Ed business meeting, resident Sam Cooper, who is an advocate for PAAAS, commented on the charter school situation.

In her reply, Acting Superintendent Dr. Caryn Cooper remarked that Queen City Academy, which is a K-8 charter school, was asking the state for permission to expand to a K-12 school.

Sam Cooper remarked that perhaps the District could find an attorney who has a record of success in opposing charters to help the city in this matter.

In reply, Acting Superintendent Cooper pointed to Elizabeth, where she said they had been successful in rebuffing charter -- particularly that district's development of magnet schools and by buying up vacant properties that would be suitable for use by charters.

It seems to me that her remark betrayed a lack of any clear strategy by the Plainfield district in this regard.

First of all, if PAAAS is not a "magnet school" -- no matter what you call it -- then what would be?

For some reason there is an almost palpable resentment of PAAAS and its principal Dr. Angela Bento. In fact tonight a visit by Colorado Springs educators and their reactions to the success of PAAAS and its best practices got a cameo mention by Dr. Cooper, who could not even bring herself to mention Dr. Bento by name, only referring to "the principal".

Secondly, it would be idle to think that the Plainfield district -- which faces a perpetual and growing deficit (this year's figure being bandied about is $11 million) -- would ever have the resources to buy up buildings to keep them out of the hands of charter applicants.

Tomorrow I will take up some themes that could be part of a strategy to put charters on the defensive.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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What I found at the dollar store



The former McCrory's is now a Dollar Tree store.
  

 As a kid, one of my favorite treats was a visit to the G.C.Murphy's 5-and-dime store in nearby Fredonia, the nearest "big" town (pop. 8,000). Plainfield had McCrory's, another 5-and-dime chain.

As a result, I am intrigued by the "dollar stores" of our day, which seem roughly equivalent -- discounted and inexpensive household items and a limited selection of clothing. Today's dollar stores offer limited food items, though Murphy's did not.

This past spring I noticed a lot of work on the former McCrory's building next to Supremo. It had housed a 99¢ store that seemed popular enough but suddenly closed without notice.

After weeks of work, a sign finally was mounted to the front of the building. It said "Dollar Tree", making it the third dollar store in the city.



My 30-year old potholders. Yuck!

... and the new $1 pair.

Family Dollar has two stores, one on East Front just doors from the new Dollar Tree, and another next to the Twin City supermarket at 7th and Park. Dollar General operates a modern, spiffy store on West Front at Madison, across from the MdDonalds.

Each is slightly different. I find the Family Dollar stores seem a little helter-skelter in their merchandising compared to Dollar General, which is very well organized with excellent signage.

So, I was curious to see what the Dollar Tree looked like. It is brightly litl and well laid out, though the signage is not as good as Dollar General.

The prices in all three are low and competitive with each other. After all they are discount stores.

To my utter surprise, I found on my first visit something that I have been looking to replace for years without success -- a pair of simple quilted cotton potholders.

Bed Bath & Beyond has dozens, from ovenproof mitts to silicone squares, to kitschy flower prints, but no plain cotton quilted ones.

I snapped up a pair and promised myself to return and see what other surprises the dollar store might hold.

And I paid a dollar -- plus 7
¢ tax.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Free community Thanksgiving dinner at FUSP


FUSP offers Thanksgiving dinner to those
who are hungry or lonely.

 
For the 18th year, members and friends of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield (FUSP) are opening their doors and hearts to Plainfielders who are hungry or alone on Thanksgiving Day.

Volunteers will prepare and serve a hearty free Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings to those who come out.

The dinner is on Thanksgiving Day (November 23) from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

FUSP (First Unitarian Society of Plainfield) is locted at 724 Park Avenue, just steps from Seventh Street. FUSP is an accessible facility. Parking available in the lot across from the church or on the street.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Plainfield planning official elected to state planners group leadership


Ron Scott Bey, chair of Plainfield's Planning Board,
with Brian Kasler, executive director of
NJ Planning Officials, at the 103rd League Conference.
(Photo courtesy Siddeeq El-Amin.)


 

Ron Scott Bey, chairman of Plainfield's Planning Board, was elected treasurer of New Jersey Planning Officials, the association of NJ planning and zoning officials, at the 103rd annual conference of the NJ League of Municipalities in Atlantic City this past week.

Scott Bey, who is currently serving on the organization's board o f directors, will now take a seat on the Executive Board. Elected by the organization's general membership, Scott Bey will serve in the office for three years.

Ron was appointed to the Planning Board by the late Mayor Al McWilliams, and has served for fifteen years.

When his length of service was remarked upon, he pointed out that both former chair Ken Robertson and current member Gordon Fuller have service records of at least thirty years -- a sign that the volunteers who serve on Plainfield's land use boards (including the Zoning Board of Adjustment) relish their duties and the contribution they make to the community.

When asked about high points during his term of service, Scott Bey pointed to the re-examination of the city's Master Plan and the designation of two Transit Village zones, for the design of which the city won an award.

Looking to the future, Ron is excited about the prospects for continued development activity downtown, particularly in the block bounded by West 2nd Street and Front Street between Madison Avenue and Central Avenue.

One of the possibilities for that area is  banquet hall, a facility that would be a boon to the city, the lack of which has been an embarassment every time a special event needs to be located elsewhere because Plainfield lacks a venue.

Another prospect he finds exciting is the possibility of attracting a microbrewery or brewpub to the downtown area.

Since the laws changed in 2012, loosening restrictions on  craft or microbreweries ane brewpubs, there has been a surge of growth throughout the Garden State.

Craft breweries are those that produce less than 6 million barrels a year. Whereas formerly they were limited to giving free samples to those who toured the facility and could only sell two six-packs to a visitor, they now can sell beer by the pint and customers can by up to a full keg to take home. The changes have helped microbreweries expand greatly.

Brewpubs on the other hand are restaurants with a brewery attached. Brewpubs may now produce up to 10,000 barrels (as opposed to 3,000 formerly), may hold up to 10 licenses, and may sell their beer to wholesalers -- ensuring distribution throughout the state and to restaurants other than their own.

Ron is very upbeat about the prospects for continued improvement of the business climate throughout the Queen City under the leadership of just re-elected Mayor Adrian O. Mapp.

The Planning Board meets on the first and third Thursday of each month (there are some exceptions) at City Hall Library. Meetings start at 7:30 PM and the public is welcome and may ask questions during the conduct of the board's business. For more information, call the Planning Division at (908) 753-3391.





  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Road paving will disrupt three streets Thanksgiving week


Drivers were alerted to road work on Cedarbrook Road
a few years ago.

 
Plainfield is racing the onset of winter weather to get as many streets paved as possible.

Here are the streets that will be affected during Thanksgiving week (November 20 through 24) --
STELLE AVENUE
  • Stelle Avenue runs from PHS at the corner of Park Avenue to Hobert Avenue.
STILLMAN AVENUE
  • Stillman Avenue begins at Sherman Avenue and runs behind the former Wardlaw-Hrtridge campus to the South Plainfield line.
GRANT AVENUE
  • Paving on Grant Avenue will be done from the South Plainfield line to West 7th Street.
Work will take place weather permitting -- meaning that the air temperature must be warm enough for crews to work the asphalt.

The affected streets will be closed from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Residents are advised to plan alternate routes to avoid delays. Though Thursday is Thanksgiving Day and there will be no work, the condition of the streets may offer users a rough ride.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Friday, November 17, 2017

Pacemaker performing perfectly, I'm outa here

This diagram shows three types of pacemakers.
I have the "dual chamber" type.
(Image: Cleveland Clinic)

 

Thursday, my next to last day in rehab, was spent on the bike in the morning, with the resistance kicked up so that it felt like I was pedaling uphill for 15 minutes nonstop. Some workout!

Little did I know I would put the new level of endurance to the test later in the day.

The post-op checkup on my pacemaker was for noon at the Newark office of the doctor who implanted it -- Victor Mazza, an assistant professor of cardiology and electrophysiology at Rutgers NJMS.

Despite leaving plenty of time (we thought) to get there, we were foiled by finding the inner drives by University Hospital all closed (probably today only) for paving. This meant parking in the deck that was farther from the building I needed to get to.

The walk from the deck to the building was perhaps a thousand feet, putting my endurance training to the test. The last couple hundred feet I had to use the walker and was seriously winded by the time we got to the doctor's office. But the wait in the office gave me plenty of time to cool down.

A very personable and remarkably young looking man for a medical professorship, Dr. Mazza took the time to explain every step to me as he evaluated the pacemaker.

A
fter an electronic "handshake" that allowed his equipment to communicate with the chip in the pacemaker, he meticulously checked each of its functions. At one point, he sped up the electrical pulses to the leads (wires) in both the right atrium and right ventricle. That was a weird feeling, as I could feel my heart pumping faster. After the check, he dialed the pulses back to the normal level -- once again I could sense the changes in the heart rate.

When completely done working his way through the computer screens, he pushed a button and the machine began to print out its report on a long (about 12 feet) strip of paper. He explained that many of the folds (or pages) had no data in them now, but would begin to fill up as I went through future checkups.

Pronouncing the pacemaker to be working "perfectly", he sent me on my way, with another checkup in about four weeks.

This means that I will be leaving Aristacare in the morning, as soon after breakfast as I can get my things together.

Can't wait.



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bassist Gary Karr headlines Plainfield Symphony Saturday


Famed double bassist Gary Karr
will perform with the PSO Saturday.

 
The Plainfield Symphony continues its 98th season this Saturday (November 18) with an encore performance of a work commissioned for its 50th anniversary by the artist who performed it at that celebration.

Famed double bassist Gary Karr, who began his musical studies at Plainfield's French School of Music, will return to the Queen City for a performance of Manuel Serbrier's "Neuve: Concerto for Double Bass and Chamber Orchestra", which he premiered in 1974. Karr, who has performed and conducted worldwide rarely makes public appearances any more, and this is just one of two performances on the East coast in 2017.

Serebrier is a Uruguyan-born composer and conductor of Russian and Polish Jewish extraction. His music is described as "energetic, colourful and melodic" and he has someetimes composed for startling combinations -- including accordion and chamber orchestra. "Neuve" was commissioned by the Plainfield Symphony to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Joining Karr in the performance will be Elmira Darvanova, violinist, whose credits include having been the first and only woman Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York.

Plainfield Symphony concerts begin at 7:00 PM at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. Regular seating is $30/person and tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance on the PSO website here.

Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church is at East 7th Street and Watchung Avenue. Parking in the church lot on First Place, on the street, or in the Swain Galleries lot.
 



  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Homeward bound


 

Homeward bound,
I wish I was homeward bound,
Home where my thought's escaping,
Home where my music's playing...

-- Simon & Garfunkel

I'll be homeward bound from Aristacare on Friday
, and am looking forward to it.

The therapy has been designed to increase my endurance, with leg and arm weight exercises, plenty of walking and stairs, and biking for heart exercise and endurance (I'm up to 6.5 km in 15 minutes).

The doctors are so pleased with my heart and kidney improvement that they have taken me off water pills altogether, which is amazing.

Thursday I go to Newark for the post-op inspection and readings on my pacemaker.

And Friday, I'm outa here after breakfast.

Thanks to all for their well-wishes and to the medical and therapy staffs at Aristacare. What a great bunch of people! If you ever need to consider a rehab setting, check Aristacare out.

It will be great to sleep all night in my own bed, without constant murmuring in the hallway and being awakened from a sound sleep to take a pill.

I'm homeward bound...




  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Assemblyman Green gets another term as Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore



Assemblyman Green in a relaxed moment outside the
County Office Building in downtown Plainfield.


 

Though the mystery of Assemblyman Green being spotted as a patient at JFK has not been resolved, he has retained his position as the Assembly's Speaker Pro Tem for another term, per the press release from his office received this afternoon --

            (TRENTON) – Assemblyman Jerry Green will continue in his role as Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore, having received the approval of the incoming Assembly Democratic caucus on Monday.

            “Assemblyman Green has years of experience as a public servant, which makes him an ideal candidate for this leadership role,” said Speaker-Elect Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “I am confident that he will fulfill his role with the same dedication he has served the people in his district and the state.”

The Speaker Pro Tempore presides over the General Assembly in the temporary absence of the Speaker. While presiding, the Speaker Pro Tempore exercises the powers and assumes the duties of the Assembly Speaker. Green will serve his sixth term in the position.

“I am honored that my colleagues have once again put their trust in me to serve in this leadership capacity,” said Green (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “My purpose from day one as an elected official has been to push policies that make life better for our residents. I will continue to work with my fellow legislators on both sides of the aisle to serve the people of this great state.”

First elected to the Assembly in November 1991, Green serves as chair of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and is a member of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Prior to his election to the Assembly, Green served as a Union County freeholder from 1982 to 1984 and from 1989 to 1991. He served as Union County freeholder chair in 1990.

Green also is a self-employed businessman and business consultant.


Congratulations, Jerry!





  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thalassa! Thalassa!


Xenophon's escape from Artaxerxes' army.
Safety was reached at Trapezus on the Black Sea.

 
I was never more than a mediocre student of Greek, but I was fated to sit at the feet of one of the greatest New Testament Greek scholars of the twentieth century, Felix W. Gingrich, who, along with W. F. Arndt, a Missouri Synod Lutheran scholar, edited a translation of Bauer's Greek-English lexicon that became the standard reference for decades.

A small but animated man, with a dry but wicked sense of humor, his round face and horn-rimmed glasses gave him an owl-like look. His joy was to set generations of ministerial students on fire with a love for the ancient language, a form of which was used to compose the New Testament.

However, we started not with the Bible, but with Xenophon, whose Anabasis recounts his service as general of "The Ten Thousand" Greek mercenaries who fought for Cyrus in his failed attempt to unseat his brother Artaxerxes.

The Anabasis recounts the Greeks' escape from Artaxerxes and many adventures in fighting their way from the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys over the mountains to the Black Sea.

Though the story was exciting, getting the translation right was not easy for our class of English-speakers who had trouble grasping the subtleties of Greek syntax and grammar.

My particular downfall was a phrase occurring near the end of the book, when the troops in the front had finally reached a vantage point on a mountain about 35 miles from the Black Sea from which they could glimpse it -- and safety.

The phrase was: ...those who are constantly going forward... ran towards the front and kept on shouting.

Patiently, Dr. Gingrich led me through the phrase until I got it to his satisfaction. The trick is that English does not have a construction like "constantly going forward". We tend to collapse the action to simply "going forward".

He patiently explained that the construction underscored patience , planning and continuing effort on the part of Xenophon, being carried out by his troops on a continual basis, despite difficulties.

Responding to the noise, Xenophon mounted his horse and rode to the front to see what the commotion was. As he approached, he could hear the men shouting "Thalassa! Thalassa!", or "The sea! The sea!" indicating they had sighted the Black Sea and knew their journey to safety was nearly over.

Thinking about the election victory of the Mapp team on Tuesday night, I remembered the phrase -- and how glad we students were to finally have gotten to the end of the Anabasis.

With a twinkle in his eye, Dr. Gingrich led us in an impromptu staging of the scene, with the whole class shouting "Thalassa! Thalassa!"

So. after nearly twenty years of struggle to move Plainfield forward, Mapp's supporters can also rejoice at the sighting of the journey's end.

Thalassa! Thalassa!




  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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