Union County Week in Review
From the arrest of a suspect in a 36-year-old Westfield homicide to the political wranglings for mayoral and council seats, catch up on the county news you need to know.
Clark politics got interesting this week, when Councilman Rich Kazanowski announced that he was running to unseat Sal Bonaccorso in the November mayoral election. Bonaccorso, a Republican, has served as mayor since 2000. Kazanowski has been involved in Clark politics since 1992, when he was appointed to fill a vacant council seat. He has never run for mayor before. The coming election will bring change for the Republican party, as Councilwoman Sheila Whiting is not seeking re-election. Council-members-at-large Al Barr (R) and Angel Albanese's (R) terms are up this year, but both are running again. Joining them on the Republican ticket is newcomer William "Bill" Smith. Phil Laskowski, who ran for council in the fourth ward in 2010, losing to Brian Toal, and newcomers Michael Altman and Michelle Novak make up the Democratic slate.
Check out our video fo the Kandoo Band rocking the gym at Lincoln School in Garwood. The six bandmates have Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition that causes medical and developmental problems, but is also characterized by striking verbal abilities, highly social personalities and an affinity for music. The band's mission is "to create, through musical performance, wider opportunities for, and respect for the aspirations of, persons with disabilities." The band is fronted by Westfield resident Bret Fleming.
The controversial video of an eight-year-old phone call in which Police Chief Eric Mason jokes that his day was going well because he "didn't have to kill any white people" has been pulled from YouTube by the site's administrators. On Tuesday, "GazeeboBricks," the people responsible for posting the video, received an email from "The YouTube Team" stating that "The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content inviolation of these guidelines, and have been disabled: Chief Mason CPD speaks."
The June Primary Election will be uncontested in Cranford with only one member from each political party seeking election to the Township Committee. Former Republican Township Commissioner Scott Mease and Democrat Thomas Hannen Jr. are both seeking election to the single seat that will be up for grabs in the November election. Republican Mayor David Robinson's term is set to expire at the end of the year, but after nearly six years on the dias, he has chosen not to seek re-election. The outcome of the November election will determine the balance of power on the Township Committee. Currently, the governing body is made up of three Republicans — Robinson and new members Andis Kalnins and Lisa Adubato Nesi, as well as two Democrats — Edward O'Malley and Kevin Campbell. If Hannen wins a spot on the committee, the Democrats will again have control of the Township Committee.
Following an extensive investigation, Cranford Police arrested a 52-year-old East Orange man in connection with the theft of laptop computers from three offices on Commerce Drive. On March 23 at 4 p.m., Detective Ryan Greco arrested a man identified as Abdurraheen A. Akbar and charged him with robbery, burglary and theft. The arrest came after an investigation into the Jan. 13 robbery of three individual commercial buildings on Commerce Drive. A total of five laptop computers were stolen.
Fanwood resident John M. Stewart, 41, has been charged with numerous weapons charges and endangering the public after he allegedly fired six rounds at a neighbor’s fence from his Coriell Avenue home. Fanwood Police Chief Richard Trigo stated that Fanwood Police arrived at the scene at 8:35 p.m. and arrested Stewart after a brief scuffle when he attempted to exit his residence. Scotch Plains Police assisted in securing a perimeter around the house while Fanwood Police entered the residence. Once inside, FPPD discovered an unregistered assault rifle in the home. Stewart is being held in the Union County Jail with bail set at $56,000.
NEW PROVIDENCE/BERKELEY HEIGHTS
Book and movie buffs have been suffering since Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on Afterwords Bookstore, the bargain-basement haven for books and videos in the New Providence Memorial Library. But a $23,000 insurance settlement will give the basement a makeover by end of April. Since Hurricane Irene tore through our area last August, the bookstore has been closed because a few inches of water ruined the carpet tiles and bookcases, said Library Director Colleen Byrne. Fortunately, the bookstore did not lose any books. The borough’s insurer, Selective Insurance Company, hired RestoreCore, Inc. to repair the damages. A crew came inearly September to clean out the basement and pack away the books and videos into a storage pod that now sits in the library staff’s parking lot. Now, eight months later, the complete restoration is just getting underway following two delays between the borough, Selective Insurance and RestoreCore. To read more, click here.
About 100 residences in Berkeley Heights were affected by a water main break that occurred around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday on Plainfield Avenue near the Berkeley Heights Board of Education, Columbia Middle School and Washington Avenue. Lt. John DiPasquale said the road was closed between Roosevelt and Hamilton Avenue because “it’s a natural break for us to detour traffic.” Luckily, all students were on spring break so the school system was not interrupted.
New Providence and Berkeley Heights Spring Sports kicked off their seasons this week. In Berkeley Heights, the girls' lacrosse team defeated Rutgers Prep (12-8) and Cranford (21-11), but lost to MKA (20-14). The golf team defeated Cranford (169-185) and Union (156-235), while the softball team lost to Scotch Plains-Fanwood (11-4). The baseball team beat Elizabeth 13-2 and Plainfield 15-1, while the boys' tennis team lost to Scotch Plains-Fanwood 5-0. In New Providence, the girls' track team placed fifth in their division at Rebel Relays with 38 points, while individuals from both the boys' and girls' track teams placed in individual events. The boys' lacrosse team defeated Edison 11-1 and Newark East Side 18-0, but lost to Bernards 9-6. The girls' lacrosse team defeated Edison 11-1, but lost to Columbia 22-8, while the tennis team defeated Dayton 5-0. The golf team lost to Scotch Plains 149-162, but defeated Dayton 171-209. The softball team beat Brearley 5-3 and lost to AL Johnson 7-5, while the baseball team defeated Roselle Park 3-2. To keep up-to-date on all spring sports team, check out our Daily Sports Digest.
Governor Livingston High School wrestlers Senior Zach Heissler (182 lbs.) and Junior Jonathan Mele (113 lbs.) recently celebrated the end of their season with Coach Rick Iacono at the Region 3 Coaches Association Awards Banquet. Both wrestlers qualified for the State Wrestling Tournament in Atlantic City this year and helped their team capture the 1stUnion County Conference Watchung Division Championship. Coach Iacono earned his 300th career victory during the season and the team finished with the school’s best record of 22-3.
On Monday, the Scotch Plains Democratic Committee announced that Councilman Kevin Glover will run as the democratic candidate for Mayor in the June primary municipal election. Glover will run alongside local educator and town council candidate, Colleen Gialnella. Deputy Mayor Mary DePaola has been selected by the Scotch Plains Republican Committee as their nominee of choice for the bid for Mayor in the June primary election. Her running mate, Republican Ed Saridaki will be vying for a seat on the town council.
Mayor Nancy Malool will run off the line against DePaola in the June primary in hopes of securing the Republican nomination for Mayor. In an exclusive interview, Malool expressed that she believes she was not backed by the Republican Committee because of a long standing vendetta carried out by several prominent local Republicans, most notably Chariman Bill McClintock and former Mayor of Scotch Plains, Marty Marks. Don't forget to vote in the poll and let us know who you will be supporting in the June primary.
Updates on the municipal budget, Memorial Day Parade, and a proposed resolution regarding a county wide NJDEP lawsuit were among the highlights of Tuesday’s Scotch Plains Town Council meeting. Missed the meeting? Click here to read the full story.
Five candidates have filed with Springfield's Clerk's office to run for the two contested seats on the Township Committee. All but one of the candidates vying for a three year term on the five-member board are current or former members of the Committee. Republicans Jerry Fernandez and Marc Krauss, incumbents both, are running as part of the Regular Organization Republican of Union County. David Barnett and Margaret Bandrowski are running as part of the Regular Democratic Organization of Union County. Bart Fraenkel is running as a Democratic Choice ticket.
A Springfield man experiencing heart trouble was resuscitated early Monday, April 2 by Springfield firefighters.The Springfield resident had been experiencing chest pains throughout the night and couldn't sleep, so he dialed 911 shortly after 5 a.m. The Springfield Fire Department and a member of the Springfield police department arrived at the residence, where they found the patient unresponsive and without a pulse. The SPF crew shocked the man back to life with Defibrillation pads. On the way to the hospital, the patient went into cardiac arrest and the First Aid Squad resumed C.P.R., including administering a third shock from the A.E.D. The man survived and was discharged from the hospital.
State police reported a major morning rush hour delays along I-78 due to an overturned tanker truck on Tuesday, March 3. All eastbound lanes approaching Exit 50 near Vaux Hall Road inUnion were closed. Morning traffic was diverted to I-78 express lanes according to a state police bulletin that advised commuters to avoid I-78 eastbound altogether. State police said there were no injuries in the in incident.
The Union County Homicide Task Force arrested a 51-year old man, later identified by The Star Ledger as Carlton Franklin, Monday, April 2 in connection with the 1976 murder of Westfield resident Lena Triano. Franklin, who lived behind Triano, is accused of stabbing, beating and raping her in her 616 Ripley Pl. home between March 14 and 15 1976. Because the accused was under the age of 16 at the time the crime was committed, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said he could not be identified, and further, will be tried as a juvenile.
After waiting nearly 10 months for another shot at his 500th career victory, Westfield High School baseball coach Bob Brewster’s squad rallied from a five-run tenth inning deficit to earn an 8-7 extra innings victory over the Scotch Plains Raiders.
“The nice thing was that we got it on the second shot and it wasn’t four or five games,” said Brewster. “And just get it out of the way.”
Jill Jackson, 39, of Forest Avenue in Westfield, was arrested by Scotch Plains Police on March 19, and charged with two counts of theft after she allegedly stole two wallets from women whose children were attending a birthday party at Dancers Pointe in Scotch Plains. Michele Patrone, one of the victims, commended the Scotch Plains Police Department and the owners and employees of Dancers Pointe for helping her recover her wallet.