The Week in Union County
Here's your roundup of the region's top stories from the past week.
In an awesome display of patriotism, hundreds of residents lined the 1.5 mile final stretch in Marine Corporal Kevin Reinhard's funeral procession from St. Agnes Church in Clark to St. Gertrude's Cemetery in Colonia. (Check out our video of the crowds.) Reinhard, 25, was among six who died last week in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. He was a lifelong Colonia resident and had almost completed his second tour of duty when he was killed. Despite the bitter 30 degree weather, schoolchildren came out from their classrooms and residents from their homes to line Inman Ave and pay respect to the fallen soldier. Members of the infamous Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church had claimed they would be protesting the funeral, holding up signs declaring Reinhard's death in Afghanistan as a sign of God's judgment on America, yet none were seen on Monday.
At Thursday night's meeting, the Clark Planning Board did not come to a vote on whether to approve the Sangiuliano Group's proposal to build 39 townhomes on the Miele's Greenhouse site at the corner of Lake Avenue and Raritan Road. The board ultimately decided to ask the applicant for a revised site plan that would incorporate the board's requests over the course of the meetings on the proposal. Several board members also motioned for the results of an environmental report the applicant completed. The next meeting on the proposal is March 1.
It's the worst kept secret in Clark this week: Deana Scherb, wife of Clark Police Captain Al Scherb, is the lucky winner of $1 million on a New Jersey Lottery scratch-off ticket. Though the Scherbs are keeping quiet and have so far declined interviews and lottery fanfare, Scherb told Patch he will continue to serve as captain of the department despite the windfall. The ticket was sold at the Exxon on Westfield Avenue.
A meeting of the New Providence Business and Professional Association aimed at promoting cooperation among town merchants was disrupted by a public dispute between Mayor J. Brooke Hern and former Mayor Al Morgan. The Jan. 26 meeting, which was punctuated by the shouting match between Hern and Morgan, came nearly two weeks after an anonymous comment on NJ.com’s New Providence forum, entitled “BOYCOTT NP FUEL!!!”, blasted the gas station owned by Morgan's friend and fellow businessman, NP Fuel owner Don Murphy. At the meeting, Morgan implied that, given the scenario printed in the comments left by Murphy, “sugarmagnolialmf” is Hern’s girlfriend, Lisa Sherry. Sherry confirmed to Patch that she posted the comments on the site because she wanted to alert residents that they might be "ripped off" at NP Fuel if they pay with cash. In the days that followed the meeting, Patch spoke with Hern, Morgan, Sherry and Murphy at length to hear the full story.
David Barletta, a senior who was a starting Running back/Linebacker for the New Providence Varsity Football team this year, signed a letter of intent to play linebacker for Fordham University's football team on Wednesday. Check out our video to watch David Barletta sign his letter next to his parents, Dr. Daniel Barletta and Laurie Barletta. Also, hear from Barletta himself, his father, his close friend and teammate Mike Herrigel, New Providence High School Athletic Director Rob Harmer, New Providence High School Principal Paul Casarico, and his Varsity Basketball and Football Coach Art Cattano. Barletta was a two-time Patch Athlete of the Week for his tremendous efforts on the football field and with the New Providence Varsity Basketball team.
Cheers could be heard all around the blackjack, craps, Texas hold ‘em tables and the roulette wheel at the 7th Annual Casino Royale in the Senior Citizens Center on Jan. 28, which raked in $39.5K for the New Providence School District . More than 200 local residents went "all in" for the high-stakes action, which was organized by the New Providence Education Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2004 that raises money for the district each year through Casino Royale, direct solicitation of households in town, and a variety of other events.
Springfield residents weighed in on the potential futures facing the vacant storefront at 246 Morris Ave ., with suggestions ranging from coffee shops to burger joints. Another point of debate this week was the township’s annual holiday display , which some contend excludes Springfield’s sizable Jewish population by featuring only symbols of Christmas. Residents and officials weighed in on the debate, with some contending that the display of lights is non-religious and others suggesting that the holiday celebrations are wastes of money and should be gotten rid of altogether.
Not up for debate: the excellence of Dayton’s High School Quiz Bowl team . The brainiac Bulldogs are pitching battles against teams from elite programs with unprecedented success.
Surrounded by proud family members, SPFHS Wide Receiver Matthew Jegede signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday, making the commitment to play football at Bucknell University this fall. The standout Wide Receiver stated that after careful consideration, he chose Bucknell because "if you're a freshman who can play, you are going to see the field."
As part of an ongoing series on this year's SPFHS Repertory Theater musical, Anything Goes, Patch sat down with Connor Cheney, who has been cast in the comedic role of Sir Evelyn Oakleigh. Having played Edna Turnblad in last year's Rep Theater production of Hairspray, Cheney is no stranger to comedy. In his interview, Cheney expressed his love for performing stating that for him, "entertaining people and hearing them verbally love it is the best feeling in the entire world." Check with Patch back for more profiles on the stars and directors of the show, photo galleries of the set and more!
Funeral services were held for Patricia Currie on Monday morning at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Roman-Catholic Church in Scotch Plains. Patricia Currie was killed on January 25 in Westfield when she was struck down by a passing car after having gotten out of her own vehicle care for David Kervick, whom she'd grazed with her car as he walked down the street. In a remembrance of her mother, Currie's daughter, Tricia Adams described Currie as a compassionate care-taker who "died doing what came naturally to her - helping those in need."
A late-night, two-alarm fire on Friday injured one resident and damaged a home at 50 Ashwood Avenue. Nearly a dozen residents were displaced and required relocation assistance from the Red Cross, according to a fire official.
This week, 1,200 randomly selected Summit residents will receive a mail survey asking about experiences and preferences related to a wide range of local services.
It’s described as a four-story mall. A place for family, strangers, young and old to connect over food, music and fun. Plans and construction are in the final stages for Mondo Summit at 426 Springfield Ave. “The content of this project is a culmination of 25 years of passions for me,” said Annette Dwyer, a longtime community advocate who leads Shaping Summit Together.
The Cranford Board of Education is hoping its recent decision to move the annual school election to November will save the district money, but some officials were concerned that the change will pull local party politics into the process. The school board agreed to the change in a resolution that was approved last week. The school election in November will be for candidates vying for the three available seats on the school board. Unlike in previous elections, however, the public will not vote on the school district tax levy unless it exceeds a 2 percent increase from last year's levy, as per the law signed by Gov. Chris Christie late last month.
The Investigative Division of the Cranford Police Department conducted a two-month-long investigation that resulted in narcotics charges being filed against Antonio Anderson, 23, of Cranford. The investigation began in December of 2011 when Detective Michael Andrews obtained information that a suspect living in Cranford was distributing illegal narcotics from his home. A detailed undercover investigation began which included undercover surveillance and intelligence gathering by detectives within the Investigative Division. Ultimately, a search warrant was issued by a Union County Superior Court Judge and on Feb. 2 members of the Cranford Police Department served that warrant. Upon service of the warrant, more than two pounds of marijuana and packaging material, with an estimated street value of more than $12,000 was confiscated from the residence. Anderson was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) - a fourth degree crime; distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (marijuana) and distribution of a controlled dangerous dubstance within 1,000 feet of a school (Hillside Ave School) - both third degree crimes. Anderson was released after posting his $35,000 bail.
Feb. 3 marked the 100-year anniversary of a massive fire that leveled the Opera House Block, located on North Avenue in Cranford from Eastman Street to North Union Avenue. The event resulted in losses of more than $125,000 - or $2.7 million today - and was believed to have been caused by a discarded cigarette.
Westfield High School boys and girls swim teams took first place in the Union County Tournament championship Sunday at the Sonny Werblin Center at Rutgers. Both teams followed up Sunday's success with the girls team beating Immaculate Heart Academy and the boys team besting Cranford on Tuesday.
Fourth and fifth graders competed in the 26th annual spelling bee sponsored by the Junior Women's Club of Westfield on Monday evening. Franklin Elementary School fifth grader Nathan Hefner took home first place and a $50 gift card.
Residents voiced concerns about public safety following the six-alarm fire that began Sunday, Jan. 22 and the fatal car accident that occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Tuesday evening's Town Council meeting.
Local merchants offered recommendations and recipes for making Super Bowl Sunday a fun and flavorful event.