March 2009 Archives

Latest Poll Results: Markets, Greengrocers or Superstores?

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According to our last poll, a store like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods would best satisfy the concerns of Metuchen's culinary consumers. Maybe the people who voted "other" really like vending machine cuisine.

Team Metuchen: Johannesburg, South Africa

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The Metuchen Little League clubhouse storeroom was crowded with unused uniforms. Families had been asking for advice on where to donate used bats, balls, and gloves. Chance and kindness helped find a home for all in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they have changed lives.

Back in 2005, league commissioner Rick Lomax saw a newspaper article about a charity that collected and donated used baseball equipment. Rick suggested a league-wide donation to commence on Opening Day, 2006.

"That Opening Day we had a downpour" explained Rick. "Despite the rain, we held our parade but got very little in donations." But it was a beginning. Each year since, used items have been collected in small quantities and stored until this year, when league officials made a push and asked families coming to register to bring their used equipment. The original charity was no longer in existence but while searching the web, Rick's wife found a new charity - Baseball in Africa.

Area Rock Station Turns to Top 40 Format--Now What?

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transistor.jpgWith the advent of satellite radio, maybe this shouldn't be a concern but when one of the last vestiges of rock music airwaves turns again to the programmed streams of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake songs you can find on one hundred other stations, where do you turn? K-Rock, 92.3 FM, is clearing its channel of rock and opting instead for Top 40 tunes only. Since G-Rock went down the same corporate road two months ago, those of us who still spin a dial hoping to catch cool old rock and new music alike are now at a complete loss. Or are we? Fordham University college radio, at the bottom of the dial, offers an alternative, and NPR offers some eclectic music choices, and 101.9FM has a good new music/old music mix, but is there a gem of an alternative/new music station out there that we don't know about but you do? If so, cough it up. To paraphrase  a Top 40 favorite, "Please Don't Stop the (Alternative) Music." Save our summer, music fans--it's not right to be hearing the same exact song blaring out of every car window into the hot summer air!

Got Books?

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BOOKS.jpegThanks to information provided by a reader, we've learned that the Senior Center (15 Center Street) is in need of a few used books. Maybe you can drop off a few if you head over to the Traffic Circulation Workshop. 

Fixing a Hole: Megumi Out, Jade Garden II In

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As sad as it is to see so many businesses leaving town, it is encouraging when one such business doesn't leave much of a hole to fill. Megumi, the Chinese-Japanese restaurant on Center Street (which made a mean Black Pepper chicken, among other things) has disappeared into that great Business Cloud in the Sky. However, instead of becoming a boarded-up eyesore, it has turned its busy kitchen into Jade Garden II (they make a mean Dragon Roll but I hope they find Megumi's chicken recipe, too!)

It's nice to know that some voids are not hard to fill. If only it was that easy to resolve some of our other downtown vacancies...

Tommy's Pond Gets Makeover from Environmental Commission

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The Metuchen Environmental Commission, over the weekend, tried a new process to control the algae in Tommy's Pond--they are now using barley straw.

Barley straw is an economical intermediate solution that has been proven to inhibit algal growth. Although not a cure-all, the Commission expects Tommy's Pond to look better throughout the summer months--after that, a long-term solution will be implemented. In this photo, Commission members Brian Weeks and Mike Vissichelli prepare to install a completed bale and weight in a deeper section of the pond.

A little bit about Emily

Emily1.jpegYou've heard about the Bingo fundraiser; let us introduce you to Emily:

Emily Claypool Almeida. A sweet child's name which has come to evoke feelings of inspiration, anguish, hope, perseverance, and faith in our community and beyond.  Emily, big sister to Lily and daughter to Alison and Jose - the kind and friendly family who finds a smile for you no matter what their week may have included -- is the 7 year old girl in our town battling Osteosarcoma - cancer.

An exhausted family has succeeded in keeping us apprised of Emily's journey, with a lot of help from friends and family.  In a recent effort to do just that, Aunt Kate wrote:

"I am so scatter-brained tonight as I sit and try to write about a topic I've written about numerous times over the past 7 months, sometimes unwillingly, other times for therapy. I try to keep the incredible town of Metuchen's parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, all updated on the on goings of Emily's Osteosarcoma. Is she home? What round of chemo are we on? CAT scan time? Another spot? More chemo? Less than 30% survival rate? Less than 30% survival rate. Did I actually just write this? Yep, for the umpteenth time. And I usually follow up with, "Well, why can't Emily be that 30%?"

EARTH OUR.jpg
Earth Hour 2009 is a global call to action to every individual, every business and every community. A call to stand up, to take responsibility and to get involved in working towards a sustainable future. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to The Americas will stand in darkness.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia with 2.2 million homes and businesses turning their lights off for one whole hour. Only a year later and this event had become a global sustainability movement with up to 100 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome's Coliseum and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

In 2009, at 8.30pm on March 28, people across the world will turn off their lights and join together in creating the vital conversation about the future of our precious planet. Earth Hour is a message of hope and a message of action. Everyone can make a difference.

It's as simple as a flick of the switch. Come on, Metuchen, join Earth Hour 2009.

Contact Info: Email: earthhour@wwf.org.au (don't forget the ".au") or Website: www.earthhour.org
The town has received a grant to help develop a traffic circulation plan for the entire community and is hoping residents will come out, in force, to share concerns about all traffic-related issues. Consider some:

      • How long does it take you to drive across town at rush hour?
      • Are you concerned about safety while bike-riding?
      • Have the pedestrian crosswalks made it easier to cross Main?  Route 27?  Do we need more?
      • What about 4-way stops?
      • Is there a light in town that you can't get through on one green turn? A spot where you can't cross the street?
Please come; share your concerns in this less-formal atmosphere and help ensure every trouble spot is identified. Meetings will be held at the Senior Center (15 Center Street).
 
Tuesday, March 31st - Open House Workshop: 5 - 9 pm
Wednesday, April 1st - Drop-in Hours: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Thursday, April 2nd - Open House Workshop: 5 - 9 pm
 
Click here for more information.

Learn to Compost at Rutgers This Weekend

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A composting workshop will be held at the Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension Earth Center at Davidson Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Avenue, South Brunswick, NJ on March 28th at 10 AM (there is an additional workshop scheduled for Wednesday evening--call for further information).

Pre registration is required. Call 732 745 4170 or email solidwaste@co.middlesex.nj.us

Compost bins are also available for purchase--Handy Composter $5.00/Earth Machine $25.00/Vermicompost Bins at $40.00 each.

A collapsing economy aside, there's still money to be had for Metuchen businesses struggling to make ends meet. That was the takeaway message for some 60 people attending a packed economic forum sponsored by Metuchen Savings Bank and the Chamber of Commerce on Thurs., March 26, at the Spice Melange restaurant.

Still, the morning's burning question - how to attract new business and reopen shuttered stores in the borough's ailing downtown - loomed large on people's minds. David Glasofer, president of the Chamber said his organization is concerned and working with the mayor and council to make it easier for businesses to settle here by cutting through red tape. 

Norma Smith, a real estate agent with Caldwell Banker, saw a simpler fix: Dress up the downtown. "Go back to your businesses and see if your windows are clean," she urged shopkeepers. "Put flowers out so people will come here and see Metuchen as a nice town, as a small, warm place to visit."


Peter Loewy, whose dimmed Forum Theater marquee bears a "for lease" sign, showed up with a plea for financial and volunteer support to reopen a new, improved theater. He said he is calling a meeting, tentatively on April 30, to bring together businesses and residents - particularly neighbors who have fondly dubbed their sector of town the "theater district." Loewy hopes to reopen the onetime vaudeville venue as an entertainment anchor, with new children's programming, better seating, state-of-the-art projection equipment to show art films, a café and general sprucing up of the 1928 red-brick building inside and out. 

Concerns for Main Street extended to the other end of New Street as well. Some grumbled that the proposed Renaissance development might detract from an already hurting Main Street, but they were few. Borough Planner Jim Constantine announced the developers of the mixed-use project are moving forward. Project financing has been secured and the developer will come before the planning board in late spring. "We should see shovels in the ground soon after that," he added.

A few weeks ago, St. Francis Cathedral School of Metuchen announced that it was going completely peanut-free. Given that statistics show a growing number of deadly allergies to peanuts and peanut products throughout the country (and the heat thrown on the issue by the salmonella outbreak caused by a peanut-product-producing assembly line in Georgia), this sounds like a great idea. However, area families who have been affected tragically by this issue have been speaking out on other ways to assure that there will be fewer and fewer victims of deadly allergy attacks.
 
Metuchen resident Denice Quinn lost her sister to such an incident. In response, her family members have become activist/advocates for stricter manufacturing legislation. "My sister, Kristin, is very involved in lobbying Congress. She has a child with severe allergies. We work to have large corporations properly label their food products. All companies are listing on their ingredients: "may contain peanuts". The manufacturer knows there are no peanuts [in the product and yet they do not want to be sued [so to be safe they list them]. My sister, Annie, ate many foods her whole life, that now suggest there may be peanuts [in them]. Allergy-afflicted children have a very limited food list as it is,  Companies need to be more honest to their consumers. . . our larger campaign is to have epi pens in all restaurants. . .
8:00 PM tonight, Reading/Signing with Achy Obejas & Robert Arellano

From The Raconteur:

Junot Diaz said of Cuban writer Achy Obejas, who recently translated (into Spanish) Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, "Obejas writes like an angel: flush with power, vision and hope ... one of Cuba's most important writers." In 1994 Havana, times are hard and the rationing is so tight that pieces of a blanket marinated in spices pass for sandwich meat.  With The Ruins, Obejas confronts the ruin of Cuba; evocatively chronicling the fate of those who escape to the States, and those who remain behind.

In addition to Havana Lunar, Cuban-American Robert Arellano is the author of Fast Eddie, King of Bees, and the graphic novel Dead in Desemboque, a collaboration with three comic-book artists that was inspired by the illustrated pulp fiction of Mexico. When he's not writing or teaching fiction workshops at Brown University, he plays guitar for Nick Cave, The Palace Brothers, and low-fi, quasi-country legend Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Bill), who said of Arellano's provacative fiction, "I hope he's not killed for writing this book." FREE! Comp wine. Books on sale at event.

Grapplers Finish-Up Season in State Championships

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States2.jpegThe USA Wrestling (USAW) - NJ championships were held over the past two weekends at Union and Elizabeth High Schools. The Metuchen Grapplers had nine wrestlers qualify to compete, an impressive number for our small club.

Matt Volpe, 85 lb Bantam class, won three of his four matches at and placed third overall. Kevin Sullivan placed third in the 125lb weight class, Colin Weidmaier - 3rd in the 135lb weight class,and Sean Benedict took 3rd place in the Junior Heavyweight division. Lucas Revano, Devin Miller, and brothers Brian and Greg McCrystal are the other Metuchen boys who made it to this elite competition. And the Grapplers only female wrestler, Carmel Coleman, placed 3rd in the Girls States Elementary Division.

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States3.jpegBoys wrestle in both their weight class and age group. Matt's mom said that if you were to ask him, the best part of his day was the really cool yo-yo he bought there.

Congratulations on a successful season, Grapplers!

Artists! Answer the Call of the Junebug!

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From the Junebug Arts Festival! ATTENTION ALL LOCAL ARTISTS: 
VISUAL ARTISTS:  PAINTERS, SCULPTORS, FINE CRAFTSPEOPLE, PHOTOGRAPHERS
PERFORMERS:  MUSICIANS, DANCERS, ACTORS
WRITERS OF ALL TYPES
ART INSTITUTIONS: ART GROUPS, ART SCHOOLS, ART STUDIOS
 
Join the second annual METUCHEN JUNEBUG ARTSFEST.
 
Metuchen has been a mecca for artists of every discipline for more than a century. To continue and strengthen this tradition, the Junebug ArtsFest will transform Metuchen every Friday evening in June 2009 into a month-long celebration of the arts.  
 
The festival will take place during the evenings of June 5, 12, 19 and 26, from 7 to 10 pm and will feature a range of events along Main Street in downtown Metuchen, including open air exhibits, strolling musicians, interactive events for children and adults and open-mike sessions featuring poets and performers at the Coffee Shops and Bookstore. In addition, a walking and/or bus tour of Artists' Studios in different Metuchen neighborhoods will be available. 
 
This annual event will succeed with the help of your imaginative input and willingness to participate.  Ideally, this event will be benefit you - the local artist - by helping you progress as a professional and give you a chance to showcase your work to a larger audience.
 
Please let us know if you are interested in finding out more information and/or if you would like to consider participating in the Metuchen Junebug Artsfest.
 
To contact us by e-mail, put "Junebug ArtsFest" in the subject line and send to:  metuchen.chamber@verizon.net.
 
Please include your name, address, phone number, and your art form (musician who plays the guitar, sculptor, dancer, etc.)  If you are a performer, state whether you are part of a group or perform alone.
 
By April, artists who have contacted us will receive information about specific participation opportunities and will be invited to officially "sign on" for the 2009 Junebug. Our goal is to have event advertising printed and disseminated to a variety of media outlets beginning in April.  
 
OR through postal mail, send same information to:
 
Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce
323 Main Street , Suite B / Metuchen, NJ  08840
Attention:  Junebug ArtsFest

HOW IT WORKS: Jitney Service a Welcome Town Perk

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We want Metuchen Matters to be a place where you can get information about how stuff in our area works--how to get an ordinance in front of the Borough Council, how to find a good enrichment course, how to . . . RIDE THE FREE JITNEY BUS TO THE TRAIN STATION. Here is the first of what we hope will be many such posts with useful information to make living here a little bit easier for everybody.

Recent commenters have been singing the praises of the town Jitney service to and from the train station. The pre-set route has specific pick-up times and, according to one happy customer, the driver, who has a great memory and spreads love where the Jitney roams, will even stop at your street corner if you're on the predetermined route he's following. I hope our anonymous poster doesn't mind that I'm quoting him or her below, but they were so effusive, we just had to share their post with you.

I am almost embarrassed to say that the shuttle is the nicest or greatest thing that I have ever seen done by a community since giving out Xmas presents on the fire truck when I was a kid in the early 60's . . . In the morning, you get picked up at designated spots some less then 2,000 feet from the train station. On return at night, if you have a residence that is along the pre-determined route and because the driver practically knows everyone you are dropped off right off/right by your home (and only if you reside directly on the pre-determined route). That is dependent on who is on the bus with you and which way the driver opts to turn next. It is darn near a personal taxi service.

In case you missed it, Forum owner's message

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Yesterday, the owner of the Forum, Peter Loewy, left a comment on an older article regarding the future of the theater.  Because the Forum is a vital cog in Metuchen's downtown, we wanted to highlight his message.  Here it is:

Many have commented to me that they would like to see The Forum Theatre once again open it's doors as a performing arts center. It is my intention to do just that. I am looking into refurbishing the existing motion picture and sound equipment, the lighting system as well as a general sprucing up of the interior as well as the exterior. We do however need the help of the Town Council, the community and hopefully the Middlesex County Freeholders.

Several Metuchen council members have expressed a very serious interest in the revival of The Forum. A downtown theatre can and should be an asset to the entire community. Look at New Brunswick, Union or Princeton, all communities that are grateful a performing arts institution is in their town. Right now there are many vacant store fronts throughout Metuchen. That was not the case when the theatre was in it's prime. My intention is to start a grass roots movement to Save The Forum Theatre. Alex Dawson of The Raconteur Book Shop on Main Street survives with the support of patrons he has nurtured over the years. Many of whom travel to Metuchen from out of town. It's time to make Metuchen a destination point, not just a commuter train stop with plenty of parking for commuters and very little for businesses.

We need to support ALL businesses throughout town, not just the theatre but the restaurants and the bookshop in an effort to revitalize what was once a thriving hometown shopping district. 

The theatre is looking for help from anyone and everyone that would like to get involved with our mission of bringing stimulating, entertaining and educational programming back to the heart of Metuchen. 

We would like to put in new seats, carpeting and bring back the Forum Cafe' for patrons attending performances. All of this takes money and hard work. I know we could not have picked a more difficult time than now to raise money for The Forum but volunteer work and donations are just as appreciated. Historically The Arts have thrived during hard economic times. People need an outlet to forget their problems for a couple of hours. That is my intent as well, to make the Forum an Arts Institution where you can bring your children to a musical, see an Independent Film, enjoy a concert or just laugh at Comedy Night.
My email is pjloewy@aol.com if anyone is interested in getting involved.
With your help I will bring back The Forum as a viable affordable performing arts center the entire community can be proud of.

Thanks
Peter Loewy

In response to comment regarding the need for Borough Council involvement, Mr. Loewy added:

I simply need their [Borough Council] support. I have always tried to stay away from governmental involvement. Many theatres have closed since their funding dropped out from the State and Local Governments. I don't want a bailout, this is a private business after all. I am seeking out anyone who would like to get involved either helping out financially or voluntarily.
At a press event at the entrance to the Cornell-Dubilier Electronics Superfund Site, EWA Executive Director Robert Spiegel was joined by staff from Congressman Frank Pallone and Senator Barbara Buono in South Plainfield. This presentation was made just before World Water Day, a day created to bring attention to the fact that most public waterways around the globe are polluted beyond usability and are causing a public health crisis that every town and city and country needs to end.

As the EWA stated, "New Jersey has, by far, more Superfund sites than any other state in America. In addition to the site-specific updates on the drastic impacts on the Cornell-Dubilier site cleanup and other New Jersey Superfund site cleanups caused by a lack of funding, the speakers will cover some of the national report's findings," including more corporations are declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying for cleanups, leaving American taxpayers to pay; annual funding has decreased, resulting in dramatic slowdowns in cleanup actions; and President Obama and USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson must move forward on reinstating the Superfund "polluter pays" tax on polluters.

CALL Bob Spiegel, EWA, at  732-841-9375 or 732-321-1300 for a copy of the full report.

It certainly doesn't bring out the best in anybody--money discussions, especially during an official recession (it sure feels official, doesn't it?), create heat wherever they happen. Monday night's Borough Council budget review meeting showed that they were not immune to reactionary talk.

When the conversation turned to the seemingly innocent topic of adding to the 12-years-and-running static budget for the Emergency Medical Service in town, the Council erupted into what felt an awful lot like partisan political sides. Councilman Christopher Morrisson had asked about improving upon the $12,000 EMS budget (Morrisson is the liasion and an avid supporter of the EMS).  So the conversation veered off into "What Will We Cut To Make That Happen?" and a suggestion to take monies from the Shade Tree budget forced Democrats to say they wouldn't support that type of cut, although Councilman Richard Weber took a moment to ask for compromise amidst the difficult exchange. Eventually, the Councilmen turned to Borough Administrator William Boerth to find a way to shift points amongst the various budgetary elements.

Since the meeting was called to continue the balancing of the town budget, it was an appropriate discussion that volleyed back and forth, between Democrats and Republicans, but the forced politeness of their tones showed that the demands of this changing economy were taking a toll on our town. Hopefully, as these conversations begin to draw to a close, the Council will find a way to support policies over plants, services over supplies, people over politics.

Follow-up on question about Bike Helmets

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Yesterday, a reader posted the following comment about bike helmets:

 

"I would really like you to do a piece on the amount of children under 17 who are riding bicycles without helmets, and the fact that the police are not enforcing the law. I see children riding around Metuchen all the time without helmets. I have even seen police cars riding past them and not doing anything. Where is the enforcement?"

 

We contacted the police department and here's what they said:

 

The offense is chargeable with a $25 fine for the first offense and $100 for every offense there after.  The law falls under Title 39, which is the motor vehicle code, and the summons would be issued to the parent or guardian.
 
For the most part, officers try to utilize discretion with kids and educate them to the law rather than enforce the law and issue a summons.  This is especially the case for resident's children who are not breaking any rule other than the helmet law.  Our traffic officer has stopped kids for not wearing a helmet but has not issued any summonses as a result.


What's your opinion?  My guess is that as many people would complain about the police issuing violations and being charged fines as might for police just issuing warnings. Who is responsible for children wearing helmets?  Parents or the Police?

UPDATE - POLL: Select the questions we ask BoE candidates

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We've finalized our poll on what questions you'd most like to ask the Board of Education candidates; the selections will be forwarded to the candidates shortly.  We'll ask for their responses in the next couple of weeks and print them here the week before the election.  Please note that we have not gotten confirmation from every candidate that they will answer your questions here.  Therefore to ensure you get information from each candidate before voting remember to check out Candidates Night on April 1.

Here are the questions that won our poll:

      1. What can be done to improve our standings in the NJ Report Card relative to other I districts? Should this even be a goal of the district?
      2. If you had a choice of enacting one change in the District, regardless of cost, what would it be and why?
      3. How will you work to hold the administration accountable and monitor their performance?
      4. What will you do to enact Full Day Kindergarten in the district?
      5. What do you plan on doing with our curriculum to help the district improve especially with non-UL kids?
      6. What do you think about a longer school day? Right now, again we are near the bottom of the I districts.
Click Continue reading below to see the full results of the poll.

The Passing of a retired Metuchen Police Officer

A message from the police department:
 
It is with deep regret the Metuchen Police Department announces the passing of a retired police officer. Staff Sergeant Charles Getty passed away at JFK last night. Staff Sergeant Getty was appointed to the police department in 1954 and retired in 1992. Arrangements will be at Costello-Runyon Funeral Home. Visitation is Tuesday, March 24, from 2 pm - 4 pm and 7 pm -9 pm.  The funeral will be at St. Francis Cathedral on Wednesday the 25th at 10:15 am. "Chuckie" will be dearly missed!

With plans to open in June, Metuchen Massage Therapy is happy to be a new addition to the Metuchen business community. After receiving a Change of Use variance, construction will soon begin in the old Bagel Pantry site on Route 27 - transforming it into a five-room massage therapy clinic.

A client himself, owner Dr. Marc Rappaport strongly believes in massage therapy for pain management and stress relief.  He explained that the clinic will be licensed by the State of NJ, which means it can be used in conjunction with insurance benefits and phyisican referrals. 

Services will cost $50 per hour with half hour sessions available.  The clinic will be open from 10 am - 10 pm seven days per week.  Affordable and available, Dr. Rappaport said they are prepared-for and expecting 50% of the clientele will be walk-ins. Parking is available in the lot behind the building.      

Residents came out in force to the Borough Council meeting last week and started some action on a parking and a traffic situation that affect many community families. Who said there wasn't strength in numbers, especially vocal ones?

Businesses on Prospect Street do not have enough parking space on their properties to help keep people from parking in the Metuchen Gardens area, in spots designated for residents, a situation that was addressed during discussion of Ordinance 2009-4. The heated debate that followed, by both residents and business owners, caused the ordinance, which would create a parking by permit zone 155 feet south of Essex Avenue to High Street Monday through Fridays from 6 AM to 8 PM and Saturdays from 6 AM to 12 PM, to be tabled until a Public Hearing could be held to reorganize the specifics of this ordinance.

Then residents at 81 Grove Avenue, prompted by a conversation begun here on Metuchen Matters, asked the Council what could be done about the pedestrian safety issues caused by heavy traffic at Grove and Oakland, near the park, as well at Henry Street, where commuters are waiting for the Jitney. Solutions offered on this site, including changing the speed limit there from 35 to 25 and putting in speed bumps were mentioned.

MISC TALK - a place for miscellaneous ideas

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Have we a topic you'd like to chat about?  Check out our Misc Talk page (along the line under our banner).  Here's what you'll see:

Have a thought or question that we haven't written a story about? Want to leave a comment that doesn't fit with any particular article? Here's the place to speak your mind.

Maybe you want to ask for the name of a good tutor or painter or you've just had a great meal at a local resturant. Here's the place to let your neighbors know.

Please remember though - our comment policy stands.

voting sign.jpgIn the last Metuchen school election, roughly 20% of registered voters cast a vote. If you can't make it to the polls, registered voters may cast their vote by absentee ballot; the form is available online--and the voter must mail  the proper paperwork within 7 days of the election.

As the preliminary budget meeting on St. Patrick's Day revealed, the entire budget for the 2009-10 school year comes to approximately 31 million dollars, $28,194,381 comes from property taxes and only $1,754,966 comes from state aid. Since 91.7 percent of the budget is cash from Metuchen residents, voting in the Board of Education election is an important way to have a voice about where your tax dollars go and to whom.

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It's Women's History Month, folks, and in celebration the National Women's History Project is giving props to quite a few New Jersey natives who have contributed significantly to making this a "greener" world--and as we march with hope into the very green seaon of spring, we thought you, too, might enjoy reading about their achievements. The first honoree, Sylvia Earle, a pre-eminent oceanographer and environmentalist, is featured in a documentary whose first airing was Wednesday evening on PBS called "Journey to Planet Earth: State of the Planet's Oceans". So take a look at how much women from our fair state have added to the ongoing struggle to make a cleaner, greener world to live in. (Check your local listings for channels and times).

Old Dogs Show Off New Tricks

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At Wednesday night's "Young Pups vs Old Dogs" faculty basketball game, the Old Dogs (40 and over) team beat the Young Pups (under 40 gang) in a final score of 56 - 47.  The sixth annual, the game is a 7th grade fund-raiser to help offset the cost of their class trip and this year also included a donation to Buddy Ball on behalf of the 7th grade.  Teams are comprised of faculty members from all four schools as well as district administrators. 

According to some fans in attendance, Young Pups coach Ed Albanese, Metuchen High's basketball coach and Edgar School math teacher, was his team MVP with a strong shout-out to Campbell's "Mr." Strauss. Bob Capra and Moss Principal Paul Pineiro tore-up the boards for the Old Dogs. All players did well though, much to the delight of the kids who came out to watch them play.  It was a fun night for all.

Congratulations to 7th grader Michael Redshaw who won the half-time final-round of the Knock-Out foul shooting competition, on his birthday no less!

Maybe next year Young Pups.  And look on the bright side, sooner or later you'll play for the other guys anyway!


Library Traffic Increases as Economy Slows Waaay Down

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According to Sunday's New York Times article about library usage in New Jersey, the thriftier economic trends of the day have lent themselves to the library's frugal ways--and so we checked in with director Melody Kokola from the Metuchen Public LIbrary to see if we match these current state and national trends. Indeed, just like the article claims, lifestyle changes are currently making the library a very popular place to visit.

According to Kokola's 2008 numbers, the library business definitely upticks while the economy turns downward. Circulation, which is loaning items in general, has increased in the last year by 10-1/4%. Although the in-house computer usage has gone down, the library's website has had more hits than ever--the use of the database has gone up 52%. Attendance at all library-sponsored events went up 10%--in 2008, 133,935 visitors came to the library (this is a 11% increase from 2007 to 2008).

The First Snow of Spring

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The other day I had the following exchange with a reader:

CommentatorCan Metuchen Matters continue to lead the way for Metuchen and remove the snow closures section? Just seeing that banner is is kind of depressing.
Winter is gone for another year, and if global warming ever comes through for us, will be gone for good (well, at least until the next ice age comes)

MeI'm waiting for Spring before removing the Snow Closure banner. I don't want to be a jinx.

Last night I removed all references of "Snow Closures" from the site.  I figured Spring was starting the next day, it was safe...  I guess not.

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They say in Hollywood that a good film is one where every ounce of energy put into it shows up on the screen. Last night's Board of Education meeting was treated to such a movie extravaganza, courtesy of Campbell School fourth grade students.

When Mr. Yakowenko's class at Campbell School took on the annual history curriculum and began studying the American revolution, he and his class aid, Miss Montaugh, came up with a novel idea: make a film about Lexington and Concord, so the children could have fun while learning. The interdisciplinary rigor that was required for this feat was evident when the film was shown. With a classical score that highlighted the drama of the events unfolding on the screen, fast-paced editing that made the action more exciting and the utmost consideration given to costumes, sets, props and, of course, an award-winning script, narrated by Mr. Yakowenko with a serious and sturdy tone appropriate to the grave events at Lexington and Concord, showed how exciting an innovative touch can make teaching a well-worn historical era. Kudos to the class, the teachers and all the behind-the-scenes helpers (a lot of parents, we would guess) for their Oscar-worthy work!

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The owners of the gas station located where Route 27 curves at Lake Ave appeared before the Zoning Board seeking approval to remove a tree from and pave a small lot adjacent to the station.Without a complete site plan and with numerous unanswered questions about scheduled DOT renovations for that intersection, the board denied the request.

DOT will reconstruct that intersection and add a traffic light sometime in 2010.  Not knowing exactly what the DOT has planned was one reason for the board to deny the variance request at this time.

Neighbors also appeared before the board to complain about extended operating hours and middle-of-the night gasoline deliveries.  They complaianed that the new owner has been slowly expanding the approved M-F 6:30 am until 9:00 pm and weekend 8:00 am - 6:00 pm pump hours.  Auto servicing at the site is approved for Saturdays from 8:00 am until 2:00 pm only.

Metuchen Matters & The Raconteur Present Robert Kaplow TONIGHT

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Join Metuchen Matters at our very own virtual book club TONIGHT (7:30 PM) at the Raconteur for a free FUN event! Our first book ME AND ORSON WELLES is a beautifully-rendered, hilariously funny valentine to first love, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, by Metuchen's Robert Kaplow! The book has already been adapted into a film starring America's sweetheart Troy Bolton (I mean, Zac Efron!), directed by Dazed and Confused auteur Richard Linklater (US release date TBD).

JOIN US FOR A GREAT DISCUSSION WITH THE AUTHOR! BUY YOUR COPY RIGHT  AT THE RACONTEUR! Even if you haven't read the book, feel free to come and see Robert's presentation on the adaptation of his book into a film. He will also read from the novel and take some questions from the audience. It's sure to be an entertaining event!

Wine and refreshments will be served. Many thanks to Robert Kaplow and Alex Dawson for helping make this endeavor possible!

Heartbreak of Mike Fuccile Tragedy May Lead to Change in Law

In yesterday's story about the Fuce5K Family Fun Run, we wrote about beloved friend and neighbor Mike Fuccile, slain this past September in Jersey City on his way to work.  The man who murdered Mike is a schizophrenic.  His parents had been trying for years to get him treatment but the courts did not support them in their fight.  Mike was as much the victim of a failed system as he was a murderer's rage.

Senate President Richard J. Codey has sponsored a bill that would create an Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) program in NJ.  Following you will find information on the bill. It was approved by the Senate on Monday in a vote of 37 - 0 and will go before the Assembly later this spring, Click here to tell Representatives Barnes and Diegnan  that you would like them to sign as co-sponsors of Bill A1618 (the Assembly companion bill for Senate Bill S735).  

"This is a step in the right direction.  It won't bring Mike back, but hopefully it will spare another family this horrific tragedy." - Nancy Fuccile, Mike's beloved widow.  

Mayor Highlights Stimulus Fund Requests from Town

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Mayor Thomas Vahalla, in the most recent Metuchen Messenger, highlights the projects that Metuchen, through the County Planner's office, has officially requested stimulus fund monies for:

      • construction of a parking structure
      • an extension of the Metuchen train station platform
      • storm sewer line replacemens from Main to Lake
      • construction of new sidewalks and curbs on Main Street in the downtown business area
      • Charles Field resurfacing.

Getting a chunk of dwindling State aid will require due diligence and the Mayor says that the town is pursuing these funds aggressively.

Go Green Save Green Challenge

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gogreen.jpgIn 2006 the Middlesex County Showroom of Environmental Technology (MCSET) was created as a tool for local organizations to help with the coordination of State grants, technical assistance, and County resources when identifying and implementing "green" technologies.  Now the MCSET has teamed up with Freeholder H. James Polos, the driving force behind the MCSET, to form the Middlesex County Go Green Save Green Challenge.  According to their website, the Challenge has been designed, "to identify the many individuals, groups, businesses, organizations, municipal and school entities that have already taken steps to implement energy efficiency, green technology or other sustainable initiatives that will help our environment and  reduce energy consumption."  Qualified applicants will receive a listing on MCSET/Go Green Save Green web site, a Go Green Save Green Challenge certificate, a window decal for display, among others benefits.

If your organization has been taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint and you're looking for a little recognition of your efforts, you can click here to apply.

Forget about the Leaf Bags Altogether and Start Composting!

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compost_bin.jpgThe possibility of no one depositing a pack of leaf bags on each Metuchen doorstep anymore had the town all a-Twitter over the past week. In the context of all the discussions about 'greening' our communities that clog the airwaves these days, perhaps the answer to all our problems is a commitment to composting! Start with leaves and eventually work your way down to food composting. For a primer on how to do leaf composting properly, the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers will explain it all for you--and some others, too. A great way to save money, time, and the environment is to GO GREEN!  No St. Patrick's Day pun intended.

Local Dad Remembered in Family 5K Fun-Run Planned for June 13th

Mikeheadshot.jpegEpitomizing the idea that charity starts at home, a team of Metuchen residents have announced a 5K family fun run with hopes of achieving the following goals: Raise money for resident families in need, support an active lifestyle for local youth, and enhance families through shared experiences.  This year's inaugural run is dedicated to the memory of Michael Fuccile.

Mike, a man known by many and loved by all who knew him, was tragically murdered on September 4, 2008 on his way to work in Jersey City where he served as a chief compliance officer for Merrill Lynch.  He left behind his wife of ten years, Nancy, and three children, Michael, 7, Jack, 5 and Brooke, 3.  Mike was 36 years old.

Event director Scott Brooks stresses that this is not a "race" but rather an opportunity for families to get out and enjoy the springtime weather with each other and with friends.  He hopes families will "train for the run together and continue to enjoy participating in physical activities as a family after the race."  And no one was more involved in his kids' lives than Mike, who coached their soccer, baseball, basketball teams, was the pied-piper of fun pool games, and could always be found playing a rousing game of some sort with not only his kids but with any child (and fellow-dad) who wanted to run and laugh and have fun.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Did you know that . . . 17% of Metuchen's very diverse population is of Irish descent? Well, now you do . . . so raise a glass today and celebrate, no matter where you come from! 

And, in these difficult times, when it seems like everything that is happening in the world takes us one step closer to disaster, remember what the legendary Irish-born novelist James Joyce said--and take it to heart--"A man of genius makes no mistakes; his errors are . . . the portals of discovery." So everything bad is good again!

Erin Go Bragh, indeed! May the luck of the Irish go with you wherever you travel.  And if you are looking for an authentic Irish Pub experience, travel you must; try Flynn's Irish Pub in Rahway or Molly Maguire's in Clark for some real Irish flavor.

Stressed? Metuchen Massage is Open for Business

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Metuchen Massage 001.jpgThere's a new business on the South Main strip: Metuchen Massage opened earlier this month and offers customers a menu of massage services.

Hours of operation are Monday - Saturday from 10am - 8pm and Sunday by appointment only.  Walk-ins are accepted but appointments preferred.  Charge-cards are accepted.

 

 

Services:   

Back & Neck Whole Body Foot Facial Cupping
10 min $12 60 min $50 30 min $30 $30 & Up $10
15 min $18 90 min $75
30 min $30








Brainy Boro Post Office Opens Drive & Parking Again!

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u17740462.jpgI don't know about you but I would never try to cross Central Avenue on foot to get to the Brainy Boro post office. All this time that its property has been closed to drive-through traffic and didn't allow parking in their lot, I haven't bothered to use that branch. And I know I'm not alone. However, driivng by this morning, I noticed that the signs had changed, that cars can drive through the driveway and parking is available again. A quick call to the branch and they confirmed that all is well! No more Frogger-like runs across Central Avenue required for brave souls needing postal services. So the next time you go in, let them know that they made a very neighborly decision and you appreciate it!

Along with the ongoing budget concerns that were voiced for the first time last week, the Borough Council will vote on an ordinance that will  redefine the "change of use" clause in the Land Development Code for Metuchen. According to the notes provided on the ordinance that will be brought before the Council tonight, this redefinition is "To eliminate site plan review or technical review committee when a new business plans to open in Metuchen provided that use is a permitted use in the zone." This 'change of use' affects the opening of new businesses. It will determine what types of businesses are allowed in different areas of town and should have a huge impact on whether or not the empty places on Main Street remain that way for long or not.

Poll Results: Here's What You're Drinking . . . Er, Thinking!

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If you're looking for a perfect cup of joe, Metuchen favors the franchised flavors available at Dunkin' Donuts, with Brewed Awakening pulling in a not-too-close second. 15% are home brewing these days and 14% don't even drink coffee--their "cuppa" is of the Tetley variety instead.

Peace March on Route 27

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Gas Station 003.jpgApproximately 25 marchers paraded down Route 27 on Friday at about 1:00 pm.  There was no permit on file with the police department and so the identity of the group is unknown.  But they were carrying rainbow peace flags, wearing bright yellow hats, and drumming a beat to accompany their steps. It was a bit of entertainment and some provocative thought for drivers waiting at the red light. 
Thumbnail image for american-dream-graffiti.jpgThis week on NPR's The Take-Away, the question of what the new American dream is was discussed in depth--as well as what it was, what it was meant to be, what it still could be. In Vanity Fair magazine this month, David Kamp  takes a look at the idealized American family life depicted in photo tableaux from the 50s and 60s and looks at how those ideas measure up to our present-day realities. These are questions that permeate the lives and minds of each and every one of us, those who are finding old paths closed off and looking for reinvention as well as those struggling to hold onto what they have created and feel like they might be about to lose. And maybe some of you never took this idea to heart--however, in a diverse little town like our own, there are connections that stretch well beyond our borders, to immigrant families who redefined that American ideal at the beginning of the twentieth century. So here we are in the Age of Technology and Over-Information--how does it help us figure out where we want to go?
 
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 "Every small town in the United States has some of its own baseball stories to tell." So opens resident Rich Puerzer's presentation: Big League Baseball in a Small Town; Metuchen and the Summer of 1936. Rich shared his love of the game and our town last night with an audience of about 75 parents and children at Campbell School.  Rich was invited to speak by Metuchen Little League. League president George Harry moderated and included baseball trivia competitions for the children and grown-ups. Three dads went head-to-head with Rich,  testing his baseball history knowledge and Rich won by a point. "It was a great night in Metuchen about a great night in Metuchen" said dad and baseball fan, Brian Kenny.    
 
"In 1936, Metuchen had what I think could be described as a semi-pro baseball team which played a number of "barnstorming" teams that visited here in Metuchen. They played, often under the lights (which almost no Major League teams did at the time), at a field where Campbell School is now" explains Rich.

Cultural Arts Opens the Doors on Spring Coffeehouses

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The Metuchen Cultural Arts Commission begins its 2009 Coffeehouse series on Friday, March 20th (with another on Friday, May 15th).  Performances will be held at the Borough Improvement League's Old Franklin School Building, (BIL), 491 Middlesex Avenue, next to the Metuchen Firehouse, at 8:00pm. The March 20th performance will feature Spoon Phillips, a New York guitarist and songwriter and his band Spoonville.  In the spring, Danny Adlerman brings back his popular "Open Mic Night," with a mix of local entertainers.

Admission is $5 (seniors and students, $4) and no reservations are necessary. Light refreshments and the requisite coffee will be served up and free parking is provided in the Borough Hall parking lot.

Edison gets theirs

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As municipalities throughout the state await news on stimulus funds, mycentraljersey.com is reporting that Edison will receive $11 million from NJ Transit for the construction of 500 additional parking spaces at the Edison train station.  The funding comes out of the $342 million NJ Transit was allocated as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (aka the economic stimulus bill).

Drat, is this going to mean more riders getting on before our stop and taking what have historically been Metuchen train rider seats?  Personally I'm against any project that results in people getting on the train before me.

6ed1_1.jpgThe North Edison/Metuchen Service Unit of the Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey will present their Annual Talent Show on Friday, March 13th, at 7 PM at Woodrow Wilson Middle School (500 Woodrow Wilson) off Plainfield Road in Edison. Over twenty-plus original performances, choreographed and written by Girl Scouts of all ages (even their family members get in the act in some cases), will entertain in the hopes of raising funds for the 50+ troops that operate in town. These funds will be used to provide workshops, special services and Unit operating costs for Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and older girls who attend area programs. A cupcake bake-off will also be conducted and concessions will be sold.

The admission cost is $5 and you can buy tickets at the door.

A lot of "fume"-ing going on around here

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The other day a tanker spill emitted toxic vapors on Route 287, but that wasn't the cause of the strong odor that some local area people were complaining about today.  That was the result of fumes released at an Edison Exxon Mobil plant (located at Route 27 and Vineyard Road) due to a mechanical failure.  Today's fumes have been classified as "non-toxic".

From NJ.com:

The chemicals came from animal fat and waste use in a production process. While the odors, described as smelling like decaying animals, may have been an irritant to some people, Hazmat officials determined the fumes were not hazardous, police said.

Art Exhibition with Kyo Morishima & Joan Arbeiter

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Friday, March 13 at 8:00pm The Raconteur will present an art exhibition featuring Kyo Moroshima, " a street photographer with a proclivity for bluesmen, bikers, and subway buskers," and Joan Arbeiter, whose "colossal pencil portraits of local people are surrounded with a sprawl of dense text relating their colorful biographies."  The show is free.

The slideshow below features some of Kyo Moroshima's work.

Were you stuck in this on your way home last night? A toxic spill on I-95 at the Metuchen exit caused quite a backup on the turnpike.

From the Star-Ledger: "A rolled over tanker truck spilled 2,000 gallons of toxic methyl alcohol and shut down the ramp connecting the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 287 and other nearby roads this evening, authorities said. The tanker truck rolled over around 4 p.m. near Exit 10 on the Turnpike in Edison . . . Authorities shut down both directions of Route 287 in the area, as well as nearby sections of Route 440 and Route 514. The truck was carrying a total of 4,500 gallons of the substance.

"It's going to take a long time to clean up because methyl alcohol is toxic," said Jones. "The vapors are toxic, and it's a fire hazard. So they're going to have to offload this tanker into another tanker with extreme caution." Darlene Yuhas, a spokeswoman with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said she did not anticipate evacuations of any kind. "This is not a residential area," Yuhas said.  You could have fooled us about that!

Recycling containers installed on Main Street

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Recently, the DPW has installed recycling containers up and down Main Street.  It's unfortunate they were unable to match the look of the regular garbage cans, but the new containers appear to have been made of recycled materials and it's great to not have to carry recycling garbage back home or throw it in with the regular trash anymore.

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Governor Corzine to propose "pain"-ful budget today

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Last night the Borough Council spent approximately four hours going through the Metuchen budget line-by-line.  One item they did not have during the process was the state aid number; they'll get that today.   At noon, Governor Corzine will propose a state budget that calls for "pain on every page" including cuts in aid to municipalities.

We'll have to wait and see what this means for Metuchen.

The following people have filed petitions for the three open seats on the board of education: Incumbents Mary T. Kohl, Frances Brennan and Eileen Frowenfeld, and challengers Tanya Andrews and JoAnn Sabatino-Falkenstein. Election Day is April 21st and, if we've learned anything about our readers, it is that educational discussions are at the heart of what's most important to this community.

Metuchen Matters wants to solicit your questions for them and have each candidate answer them in depth. Now is the chance for you to have your say and get the information you need to help you make the right decision for one of our most important civic positions. Submit your questions here or e-mail them to info@metuchenmatters.com and see what the candidates think about how our school district operates now and for the future!

Council Republicans propose budget modifications for tonight

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A special meeting to review the upcoming budget has been scheduled for tonight, March 9, at 6:30 pm in the Council Chambers.  In preparation for the meeting Councilman Morrison, Councilman Waldron, and Councilman Manley have put together a presentation of proposed budget modifications.  According to Councilman Manley:

You will see that we believe that it is possible to trim over $215K from the proposed budget.  Our recommendations are not truly "cuts" in most instances, with one major exception, rather places where we thought it would be possible to hold the line on the expense to meet what we actually spent in 2008.  If we say "spend the same amount" than it is not really a cut rather restraint from increased spending.

Click here for a copy of their presentation.
003665AT.jpgHey, parents, what do you think about this?? Parents in New Jersey would have to go to class before their children could get learner's permits to drive. Four bills passed by the Assembly Thursday hope to tighten driving privileges for motorists between 16 and 20 years old as part of an ongoing attempt to reduce the number of deaths in car accidents throughout the state. The bills move on to the floor of the state Senate.

Under these new provisions, fledgling drivers with learner's or exam permits would need 12 months of practice before they could get a provisional license. That's twice the current requirement. Reflective decals would be required on vehicles operated by anyone with a learner's or exam permit, or a provisional license. Drivers with these permits or provisional licenses could not use cell phones, even hands-free.

Daylight Savings Time Begins This Weekend!!

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Asia the elephant has a reminder: Don't forget to turn clocks ahead an hour tonight. The precocious pachyderm took time out Friday from performing with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus at Newark's Prudential Center to pose next to an oversized clock. The official time change begins at 2 AM on Sunday morning.



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New Jersey Family Week activities, sponsored by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Theatre Alliance (family week runs through March 11th, offering discounted tickets to events all around the state, many of them in Middlesex County. The arts are often overlooked during discussions of economic downturns, but so much of the non-profit theater and art that we take advantage of in our arts-rich state is about to enjoy a serious boost.

The National Endowment for the Arts  has published guidelines upwards of $50 million which will be dispersed as emergency funding as part of the federal stimulus bill. The money is intended to preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector, an industry hit by declines in philanthropic and government support. It's not quite the WPA, which kept the arts and many artists alive during the Depression but it will be helpful! New Jersey's share of the recovery money will be around $360,000 and will support the salaries and contractual fees for not just performing artists but craftspeople and crew people as well. $20 million will resuscitate National Endowment for the Arts' network of state, regional and local partners, of which is the New Jersey Council on the Arts is one.
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Metuchen Matters invites all of you who love to read to join us in our very own virtual book club on March 19 at 7:30 at the Raconteur! Our first book selection is ME AND ORSON WELLES, a beautifully-rendered, hilariously funny valentine to first love, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater, by Metuchen's Robert Kaplow! The book has already been adapted into a film starring America's sweetheart Troy Bolton (I mean, Zac Efron!), directed by Dazed and Confused auteur Richard Linklater.

READ THE BOOK AND JOIN US FOR A GREAT DISCUSSION WITH THE AUTHOR! BUY YOUR COPY RIGHT  AT THE RACONTEUR! We are soliciting your comments on the book and your questions for Robert so sign in and let us know what you think! Your questions and responses will help guide the conversation at the book club event.

Many thanks to Robert Kaplow and Alex Dawson for helping make this endeavor possible! We look forward to seeing you Thursday, March 19th, at the Raconteur!

Lucca's Now a Memory of Main

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IMG_0035.jpgOwner Georgia Petronella said it was just time to go.  The familiar coffee shop is latest of Metuchen's downtown establishments to lock-up and leave for good.  In chatting with Ms Petronella, she said that while she misses her customers and the shop terribly, for many reasons, it was time to call it quits.  She tried unsuccessfully to lease to a new proprietor and did get to closing-day with one person who had a last-minute change of heart.  While she doesn't yet know what her future holds, for two more years she'll retain the NJ Transit coffee concession at the train station and finds that loyal customers, who have now become dear friends, find their way to her home for coffee and conversation.  Best of luck Georgia!  Thanks for your 14 years of espresso and steamed milk.  An entire generation will remember late nights, guitar music, and shared ideas at your tables.
The New Jersey Department of Education adopted, in 2006, laws that ensure that every child in the state will be provided for educationally, regardless of financial neediness, homelessness or psychological or physical need for special assistance. All of these are considered 'disabilities' and school-age children suffering from any of these situations must be assured that they will be taken care of in their personal school district. The Board of Education discussed these services and the costs to our school district at last week's board meeting.

Snow Pictures!

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Local photographer Kyo Morishima sent us some pictures he took this past Monday of sledders at Tommy's Pond. Check out www.kyomorishima.com for more of his work.

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Baseball, apple pie and the national anthem--you can get at least two of these all-American stalwarts during this summer's minor league baseball season.

 

From noon to 4 p.m. at the Menlo Park Mall, on Saturday, March 7, the popular Somerset Patriots will audition 100 soloists and small groups for Star Spangled Banner at-the-plate performances this year. Ten attendants will be asked to sing our National Anthem before a Patriots home game at some point during the 2009 baseball season.

 

Singers of all ages are invited to audition, except for those who have previously done so. Judges will make decisions based on various elements in each performance, including vocal ability, stage presence and confidence in singing in front of a large crowd.

Metuchen business owners, your help is needed! Kids in Production is sponsoring LET'S PLAY BINGO FOR EMILY, a fundraiser to aid Emily Almeida and her family on Friday, May 8th, from 7-9 PM at the Campbell School Gymnasium on Durham Avenue. Emily is a 7-year-old from Metuchen battling bone cancer. Think about becoming involved in these suggested ways:

    • At-home business owners from Southern Living or Pampered Chef, a small gift or $10 or 20 gift card for the business would be a great donation!
    • Local businesses, consider donations of $10 to $20 gift cards. These would make for terrific prizes!
    • The Chamber of Commerce offers gift certificates that can be used for all Metuchen services. Another great donation idea (wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)
The committee thanks you in advance for your  help. All queries or donation offers should be forwarded to: Bingo for Emily c/o info@metuchenmatters.com.

Drug Dealers on University Avenue Busted

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After several months of investigation in partnership with the Middlesex County Prosecutors office, this past Friday night, the police executed a search warrant on a University Avenue home and arrested two suspected drug dealers.
 
Ivan Marques, 29 of Metuchen and the homeowner, is currently in the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center and has been charged with possession and intent to distribute to an undercover officer, intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, possession of cocaine, and possession of an imitation firearm.  He's being held on $10,000 bail and also has an outstanding $11,500 civil contempt warrant for child support. Tiago Goncalves, 24 also of Metuchen - a resident in the home, was charged with possession of marijuana and released on his own recognizance. 
 
A drug dog from the Edison Police Department and a weapons dog from the Middlesex County Sherriff's office were utilized in the search.  According to the Metuchen police, it's important to note that police search dogs are trained for specific detail; drug dogs do not search for weapons or bombs and vice-versa.  Rumors have been rampant that dogs were used to search for drugs during the high school bomb scare but the dog teams on duty that day were bomb-dogs and were not searching for drugs.  
 
In addition to the drugs and drug paraphernalia, a cell phone, lap top computer, scales, passports, and visas were confiscated from the home.  Two women and a child were also in the home but are not believed to be connected to the investigation and were not arrested. 
 
According to reports compiled by the borough police, there were 25 drug-related adult arrests in 2008, down from 49 in 2007.  Juvenile drug related incidents were down from 26 in 2007 to 10 in 2008.

Special Council meeting to discuss budget

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At the urging of Councilman Morrison during last night's Borough Council meeting, Councilman Weber moved to have a special session on to publicly debate the budget line by line.  Before the vote, some of the longer tenured Council members questioned the value of this meeting without the state aid numbers (they won't be available until mid-March) and argued the process might be better served if the Council members reviewed the budget individually, discussed any issues they had with the Borough Administrator (the Administrator puts budget together), and then presented their conclusions at the regularly scheduled meeting on March 16.

In the end, Councilman Morrison's position that there would not be enough time to get to everything during a normal Council session and that these discussions should be held publicly won out and the Council unanimously voted to hold a special meeting on March 9 at 7:30.

Busing Poll Results

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According to our latest poll, the highest number of responders are tied between wanting to pay no more than $300 for busing in town and thinking it's a great idea that they won't ever use. Here's the rest of the results:

3 Recent Crimes You Should be Aware of

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According to the Metuchen Police Department, on Friday the 27th at 6:21 pm, a resident of Franklin Square on Central Avenue heard the jiggling of a door handle.  She opened the front door to find two men on a neighbor's porch, screen door opened.  She asked who they were looking for and they gave a name that was not her neighbor's.  When she told them the resident was not the person they were looking for, they headed off up Central Avenue, toward Durham.  She called the police.

When the police arrived, they found pry marks on the front door.

The two men were described as black men, one 6' tall wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt.  The other man was on the inside of the open screen door and not clearly seen.

Later that night/next morning, sometime between 6:30 pm and 11:00 am on the 28th, a '97 Acura parked in a driveway on Hampton Street was burglarized.  The passenger door and roof were pried open, the windshield was cracked, and the steering column broken, The hood was opened and the alarm disabled.   

Lastly, on Friday the 27th, an 82 year old victim on Rayle Court was robbed of $3,000 by two con men pretending to be chimney cleaners.  Claiming to be from All American Chimney and Duct Cleaning, the two rang her bell and offered to inspect her chimney.  She allowed them onto the roof where they appeared to be conducting an inspection. They came down, said the furnace needed further inspection, and she let them into her basement.  They told her she failed inspection and that for $3,000 in cash they would fix the problem.  She went to the bank, got the cash, they gave her a receipt, and went back up onto the roof.  Afterward, her son inspected the work and found all they did was to put some caulk-like material around the base of the chimney.  A legitimate inspection found no problems with her chimney or furnace.

The two men were driving a white van with out-of-state plates.  They were described as white men around 40 years old, 5'9-5'10, medium builds.  One man had short dark hair.

ts.jpgHer motto is simple,  a heartfelt quote from Gandhi:  "Be the change you wish to see In the world." Gandhi and Evelyn Lisojo share similar values--which means that Evelyn works hard to open minds, stretch muscles, and give Metuchen a little peace and relaxation, inside and out. She answered some questions for us about how she came to her beautiful studio, SACRED SPACES, on Main Street Metuchen:

When and why did you open your own studio? 

I founded and opened Sacred Spaces Yoga in December of 2003 in Edison, NJ.

I was a Wall Street Unit Trust and Mutual Trader as well as a traders' assistant for Fixed Income Securities for 12 years. I loved my work but soon realized after the birth of my first son that my heart was guiding me to my next journey [which was] becoming a full-time Mom and CEO of my home.  [I wanted] to leave a legacy of 3 beautiful boys that are deeply loved and appreciated. During this time I discovered the world of healing hearts and the gifts of intergrating a conscious Body, Mind and Soul life.

2009 Municipal Budget: What's your 2¢?

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Starting this evening, Borough Council is requesting various municipal departments come to discuss budget needs.  At tonight's session, the Police Department and the DPW will make their presentations.  Councilman Chris Morrison hopes residents will attend to educate themselves and weigh-in on how Borough money is allocated.
 
The budget work session will begin at 6:30; one hour prior to the start of the regular council meeting.  We will any announce weather-related changes.

At the March 16th Borough Council meeting, the Fire Department and Recreation Department will make their presentations.

2008 budget documents are available here or through the Borough Website:

Budget Letters   Budget Document   Budget Amendment   Budget Worksheets

UPDATE: Big Storm Reminder: Snow Closure Information

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UPDATE: Due to the inclement weather, the Metuchen Public Schools are closed today, March 2.  Enjoy your Snow Day!
 
St. Joseph's High School is also closed today.

Don't forget to check our snow closures for information in case the big storm forecasted for this evening really hits us with up to 14 inches of snow! Click on our transit links for up-to-the-minute information on tomorrow morning's commute as well.

Residential Parking Permits - Renewal Reminder

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If your street requires a residential parking permit for street parking, please check the date of your sticker.  You will not receive a renewal or expiration notice in the mail and you may be ticketed if your sticker has expired.

Expiration dates are necessary in order to ensure that only current residents have access to street parking on designated streets.   

If your sticker has expired or is due to expire, please drive over to police headquarters with your vehicle registration.  Your address will be verified and a new sticker will be placed in your car.  Dispatch is staffed 24/7 and the person on duty there will help you.


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