Old Bridge Sun

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Giordano, Sulikowski to lead Old Bridge Board of Education

The Old Bridge Board of Education has reorganized with new leadership.

Salvatore Giordano was nominated and selected – 5-4 – as board president and Matthew Sulikowski was nominated and selected – 5-4 – as board vice

president at the board’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 5.

Board members Jennifer D’Antuono, Marjorie Jodrey, Lisa Lent and Jay Slade voted against Giordano and Sulikowski’s nomination.

Nominations were also made for Lent and Slade as board president and board vice president. However, Giordano and Sulikowski received the five votes needed to win the nomination.

Giordano said he looks forward to working with the new board.

During the reorganization meeting, Giordano, Jennifer D’Antuono, and Marjorie L. Jodrey were sworn in for the three-year term seats they won during the November 2022 general election.

And Divinder Singh was sworn in for the one-year unexpired term on the board.

Investments in infrastructure, education and quality of life continue in Middlesex County

The Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners are moving full steam ahead into the new year as investments in infrastructure, education and quality of life are on the horizon.

After being selected – once again – by his fellow commissioners to lead their dais as commissioner director, Ronald G. Rios said they look to continue to “foster and create vital partnerships” that attributed to the county’s accomplishments and financial strength in 2022.

Rios reflected on those accomplishments and touched on what is next at a reorganization meeting on Jan. 5 held at the Performing Arts Center on the Middlesex College campus in Edison. Nearly 500 people were in attendance, according to a press release through Middlesex County.

“Over the past year, my colleagues and I have been proud to see our com(Continued on page 2)

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Investments in infrastructure, education and quality of life continue in Middlesex County

munity overcome challenges and fulfill the promise of a brighter future – for our residents, for our businesses, and for our families,” Rios said. “We’ve been able to do this by building public and private partnerships at the local, state, and federal level. These collaborations make a brighter future possible.”

Investing in infrastructure

The County Commissioners continue to build upon the foundation of Destination 2040, the County’s strategic plan

for long-term economic success which is spearheaded by the Department of Transportation under the leadership of Kenny.

“Everything we do supports our vision for a brighter future for everyone who lives, works, and plays here in Middlesex County,” Rios said. “The County envisions a brighter future that grants better access to innovative spaces and cuttingedge healthcare treatment for those within and around Middlesex County through key investments in transformative community projects.”

Those projects include the County’s role as a core partner in the New Jersey Innovation Hub, which represents a significant investment in the future of innovation in New Jersey. The County will leverage its “AAA” bond rating to provide the financing mechanism for nearly $500 million in project funds. The Hub, which is planned to be built at the Ferren Mall in downtown New Brunswick, will serve as the future command center for DataCity, the County’s living laboratory for autonomous technology, according to the press release.

Officials including Gov. Phil Murphy came together to ceremonially break ground on the project in October 2021.

Additionally, Middlesex County has invested $25 million in the Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, also in New Brunswick.

“This elite facility will transform cancer care through a combination of research, education, and patient care,” Rios said. “The Cancer Center will provide world-class cancer treatment for residents right here in the County, while also providing academic and hands-on training opportunities for Middlesex College and Middlesex County Magnet Schools students.

“Both the Hub and the Cancer Center are designed to attract opportunity, business, and talent from throughout the County, the state, and the region.”

The new Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center is a state-of-the-art, freestanding cancer hospital featuring outpatient and inpatient capacity coupled with research laboratories, retail space and ancillary services devoted to patient wellness and is a first of its kind in New Jersey, according to Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health.

Other key projects include the County’s investments in transportation infrastructure, including the modernization of the New Brunswick Train Station – which will see the 120-year-old station updated with the amenities and technologies needed to support a bustling train station for the future – and the construction of the North Brunswick Train Station, which is nearing the completion of the concept design phase. Both projects are being managed in first-of-their kind partnerships between the Middlesex County Improvement Authority and New Jersey Transit.

The train station/transit village project in North Brunswick began 15 years ago as a means to offer relief to one of the state’s busiest rail lines, provide quicker commutes, reduce traffic along Route 1, relieve congestion at the New

Brunswick and Jersey Avenue train stations, bring revenue and ratables to the area, add construction and permanent jobs, and provide an environmentally safe alternative to driving.

The former 212-acre Johnson & Johnson complex across from Commerce Boulevard on Route 1 in North Brunswick was converted to a transit-oriented development and is now part of Middlesex County’s Destination 2040 initiative as a future-forward growth strategy.

Rios said investments in the County’s transportation infrastructure will have multiple benefits for the county and the region.

“These projects will allow for broader access within and beyond our borders, easing commutes on major thoroughfares, attracting new revenue to the region, and allowing those within and beyond our county to better access our recreational facilities like our 19 County parks, our more than 13,000 acres of open space and preserved farmland, and our many performing arts centers,” he said said.

Investing in education

Middlesex County remains committed to building a brighter future through investments in education and career training.

“We envision a future that changes the educational landscape to nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors, collaborators, and contributors,” Rios said. “To do this, we must foster a workforce of the future and nurture a new generation of learners, by making vital investments designed to strengthen and grow our college; our magnet schools; and our pipeline of talented, well-prepared workers who are ready to move into – or advance in – all industries, especially the County’s key business sectors: life sciences, autonomous technology, and food innovation.”

To that end, the Middlesex County Magnet Schools and Middlesex College have undergone a transformation to better align with the County’s distinctive brand strategy and economic growth plans. The Middlesex County Magnet Schools have a new name and visual identity that accurately reflect the district’s evolution and specialized education opportunities, which include skillsbased training and rigorous academic coursework.

County officials announced in June 2022 that Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools would transition into a “new era of specialized

with a new name and rebranded logo.

2 THE OLD BRIDGE SUN NEWSPAPER MEDIA GROUP • www.centraljersey.com January 18, 2023
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(Continued on page 3) Deadline to apply: JANUARY 31, 2023 APPLY TODAY Supported by ANCHOR middlesexcountynj.gov/ANCHOR HOMEOWNERS AND RENTERS You may be eligible for property tax relief via the ANCHOR program . The ANCHOR program is operated by the State of New Jersey, Department of the Treasury, Division of Taxation NM-00010242

COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD

New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS), a division of New York Blood Center, which provides blood for local patients, is looking for a few good volunteers.

The blood drive volunteer is an integral member of our team whose tasks include assisting donors with registration and/or at the refreshment area. No medical background necessary. Volunteers should be outgoing to provide friendly customer service, be able to perform tasks as needed and must provide proof of COVID Vaccination prior to volunteering. Must have transportation. All training is provided including additional precautions for the safety of our team and blood donors. For additional information call or text Sharon Zetts, manager of NJBS Volunteer Services at 732-850-8906 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday.

To apply online as a blood drive volunteer, go to https://www.nybc.org/ support-us/volunteer-nybc/volunteerapplication/

The Old Bridge School District provides special education and related services to disabled children/students ages three to 21 that are in need of special education. If someone resides within the district or has a child attending a non-public school in Old Bridge and suspects their child may be disabled due to physical, sensory, emotional, communication, cognitive or social difficulties, they can call the Office of Special Services.

For children three to five, pre-school disabled means an identified disabling condition and or measurable developmental impairment that requires special education and related services.

For additional information, residents can call their neighborhood school and ask for the Child Study Team or call 732-360-4461.

Hackensack Meridian Old Bridge Medical Center and Hackensack Meridian Raritan Bay Medical Center has begun scheduling patients for the updated boosters that are available for people ages 12 and older. The public can schedule an appointment by visiting HackensackMeridianHealth.org/ covid19.

Old Bridge Medical Center

Retail Pharmacy

3 Hospital Plaza

Old Bridge, NJ 08857

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Raritan Bay Medical Center

530 New Brunswick Ave

Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Veterans Diversion Program is looking for veteran mentors. To find out more information contact Megan Carduner at 732-745-4491 or Megan.Carduner@co.middlesex.nj.us.

The Arts Institute of Middlesex County is presenting, promoting, and supporting a multitude of arts and culture events, exhibitions, and shows throughout the month of January. These events are free to enjoy for all County residents and beyond.

January’s event highlights include:

• Art Together – Art Together is the Zimmerli’s FREE drop-in family art making workshop series. Dates include Feb. 12, March 12, April 2, and May 21 from 1-3 p.m.

• Windows of Understanding – Opening Reception – Join on Jan. 17 at 4:30 p.m. for the opening reception of Windows of Understanding as the county celebrates the 6th annual run of its social justice art initiative. The opening reception will be held at Barca City, 47 Easton Ave., New Brunswick.

• Wash and Learn at the Handy Street Laundromat, 314 Handy St., New Brunswick on Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. Join Roosevelt

Elementary School in this special after school literacy program that is open to all. They will be spending time reading together, doing hands-on activities, and giving out prizes.

• SEO/Web & Social Media Integration for Nonprofits – Join via Zoom on Jan. 24 at 11 a.m. for a workshop that will focus on how to generate leads and increase search rankings for a nonprofit website.

For more information visit http:// www.middlesexcountynj.gov/artsandculture for full details on all the events listed above and many more. Registration details and links to live stream events are available.

Investments in infrastructure, education and quality of life

(Continued from page 2)

After a century, the school district has transitioned to being called the Middlesex County Magnet Schools.

Comprised of five separate campuses in Piscataway, Perth Amboy, East Brunswick, Edison, and Woodbridge, the schools combine to serve 2,200 highschoolers. In addition, the schools also feature an Adult Education program that benefits nearly 400 adults annually.

The County is already seeing a return on its investment in Middlesex College’s new identity, with enrollment up 3% in 2022 – far above the state and national average for two-year colleges.

Middlesex College, formerly Middlesex County College, rebranded with a name change and new logo in 2021.

The enrollment increase is expected to continue as the County’s Community, Innovation, and Opportunity (CIO) Strategic Investment Plan, which was unveiled in fall 2022, is implemented. The CIO Strategic Investment Plan – through the addition of new academic, athletic, and performing arts facilities – will transform the Middlesex College campus into a space for the entire County community and as a regional attraction, according to the press release.

Investing in quality of life

Under the leadership of the Board of County Commissioners, Middlesex County envisions a brighter future for residents that encompasses more than state of-the-art facilities and regional attractions. The County will continue to offer and invest in core services and programs geared toward making a better life for the families and individuals who live here.

“Through our investments in talent, infrastructure, and our residents, we are building an even brighter future that is

unique only to Middlesex County,” Rios said.

These investments include the County’s telehealth and community health programs, which are designed to ensure County residents have the tools they need to access vital healthcare services and education. First introduced in 2021 in direct response to issues brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic, these initiatives were expanded in 2022, according to the press release.

Additionally, the County has put significant support behind the state’s ANCHOR Property Tax Relief Program, to ensure eligible Middlesex County homeowners and renters have access to the program. Middlesex County also continues to provide support to the most vulnerable in the community through the County’s Coming Home and Housing First Funds and remains committed to helping veterans. Since its inception, the County’s Veterans Housing Assistance program has helped hundreds of veterans, according to the press release.

Foremost among Middlesex County’s investments in quality of life in 2023 will be a focus on mental health. This will involve a comprehensive effort across a range of areas such as community services, education, law enforcement, the Arts Institute of Middlesex County, and the George J. Otlowski, Sr. Center for Mental Health, officials said.

The County is also working with a professional partner to assess County policies, procedures, and programming in an effort to identify areas of improvement. Currently underway, the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging study is scheduled to conclude in 2023.

Murphy and New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) were in attendance and addressed the crowd.

“With each step forward, it becomes increasingly clearer: Middlesex County priorities and New Jersey priorities are one in the same,” Murphy said. “From its upgrades to pivotal transit facilities to its transformation of leading educational institutions, the County has served –and will continue to serve – as a microcosm of the stronger, fairer Garden State we are building.”

Middlesex County was also honored to receive messages of support from its federal representatives – U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ), and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) – all of whom joined the meeting virtually.

Rios also thanked County employees for their hard work and dedication, acknowledging the vital role they play in serving County residents and ensuring the success of all County programs and initiatives.

“Our County employees are the lifeblood of what we do,” he said, before speaking directly to the many employees who were in the audience: “You are the heart and soul of our operation. My fellow commissioners and I are continually in awe of your commitment to residents and businesses. We, and the entire community, thank you.”

The meeting included the swearingin ceremonies of three county commissioners and the county sheriff. Claribel A. Azcona-Barber, Charles Kenny, and Chanelle Scott McCullum won the open seats on the dais and Mildred S. Scott won the open seat for county sheriff in the November 2022 election.

Along with Rios’ reappointment as commissioner director, County Commissioner Shanti Narra was chosen to serve as deputy commissioner for 2023.

January 18, 2023 NEWSPAPER MEDIA GROUP • www.centraljersey.com THE OLD BRIDGE SUN 3

N.J. recorded environmental highlights in 2022

The year 2022 will go down in history as one defined by many challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic dragged into its third year, the war in Ukraine destabilized world security and finances, and record heat, droughts and storms again brought home the reality of a changing climate. New Jersey, like everywhere else, shared the pain.

Despite these difficulties, this state we’re in made encouraging progress in 2022 on environmental protection, conservation and outdoor recreation.

Highlights include reduced plastic pollution, a partial ban on pesticides that harm bees and other pollinators, a task force studying ways to boost protections for public forests, work to implement the Environmental Justice Act, steps to advance clean offshore wind and solar energy, and more.

• Plastic bag ban –

gas emissions while providing critical habitat for wildlife, outdoor recreation, and clean air and water.

Yet the vast majority of New Jersey’s public forests are not adequately protected against inappropriate logging, over-browsing by deer and invasive species. In 2022, a Forest Stewardship Task Force was established to develop recommendations to the state Legislature to better protect and manage public forests.

• More offshore wind and solar energy – A key part of New Jersey’s climate action plan is a transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

2022, but still need to be adopted as soon as possible.

• Warehouse development – In 2022, New Jersey continued to see significant development of massive warehouses in many parts of the state, threatening prime farmland and communities already overburdened by pollution.

The State Planning Commission issued voluntary guidelines to help municipalities plan for warehouse development, but the state and municipalities are still lacking the tools needed to deal with this challenge.

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In May, New Jersey’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags went into effect. Thanks to the state’s 2020 Plastic Pollution Reduction Act, shoppers were required for the first time to supply their own reusable bags.

By the end of the first year, New Jersey will have avoided using an estimated 3.44 billion plastic bags and 68 million paper bags, preventing tons of waste from going into landfills and waterways.

• Protecting pollinators – In 2022, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the Save the Bees bill, which limits neonicotinoid pesticide applications in non-agricultural settings like gardens, lawns and golf courses.

“Neonics” don’t just kill insect pests; they also wipe out beneficial insects, including butterflies, wild native bees and domesticated honeybees. In turn, bird populations decline because of the loss of food sources.

While the new law is a positive step, neonics are still allowed in New Jersey for agricultural uses.

• Forest Task Force – Forests and other lands sequester and store about 9% of New Jersey’s annual greenhouse

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities took a step forward in 2022 by implementing a new utility-scale solar program that will result in more clean energy while bringing down the costs of solar incentives and ensuring sound siting to protect important farmland soils and forests.

• “Outside Together” – New Jersey began working on the new Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, which will set strategies for open space and recreation for the next five years and is required to maintain eligibility for funding from the National Park Service.

• Black Heritage Trail – A new state law signed in 2022 will establish a Black Heritage Trail linking landmarks, heritage sites, museums and attractions highlighting moments of political, military, artistic, cultural and social importance in the state’s Black history.

Despite this progress, New Jersey still has plenty of work to do on environmental and conservation issues:

• Environmental Justice Law – For years, New Jersey’s poor, urban, black and brown communities have borne the brunt of environmental contamination.

In 2020, Gov. Murphy signed the landmark Environmental Justice Act to help protect overburdened communities. Rules implementing the act were introduced in the summer of

• Fixing state parks – In 2022, a partnership of conservation organizations – including New Jersey Conservation Foundation – launched the “Fix Our Parks” campaign highlighting the need for more funding and stronger enforcement to protect New Jersey’s state park system.

A report commissioned by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance found that state parks are underfunded, understaffed and facing threats from illegal off-road vehicle use and dumping. The Governor and Legislature should make increased funding a priority in the upcoming budget.

• Flood prevention – In 2022, the state Department of Environmental Protection published draft rules to better protect communities from flooding from extreme storms, like the remnants of Hurricane Ida in 2021. The public comment period ends on Feb. 3.

If adopted as written, the new rules will raise flood plain elevations by 2 feet, making it harder to build in areas near rivers and streams, protecting lives and property.

To learn more about the inland flood rules or to make a comment, go to https://dep.nj.gov/inland-floodprotection-rule/

Please continue to make your voices heard in 2023 on the need for our elected officials to address these pressing issues.

Tom Gilbert is a co-executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, Far Hills.

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Volume 1, Number 3

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YOUR TURN
TOM GILBERT

PRAYER IS POWERFUL

Oh, most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine of splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh, Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein you are my Mother. Oh, Holy Mary Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and Earth! I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this petition. There are none that can withstand your power. Oh, show me herein you are my Mother. Oh Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse in thee (3Xs). Holy Mother, I place this cause in your hands (3Xs). Holy Spirit, you who solve all problems, light all roads so I can attain my goal. You who gave me the divine gift to forgive and forget all evil against me and that in all instances in my life you are with me, I want in this short prayer to thank you for all things as you confirm once again that I never want to be separated from you in eternal glory Thank you for your mercy towards me and mine. + Say this

3 consecutive days and publish prayer after petition is granted. Do not despair Additional advice and petition. Pray the Rosary

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WE GOT YOUR BACK, HIPS, KNEES & SHOULDERS, TOO.

Our bones and joints are the foundation of every movement. And at Old Bridge Medical Center, we’re ready for every knee, hip, shoulder, spine and anything else that can crunch and crack. With a top orthopedic team, innovative and minimally invasive procedures and a will that never breaks, we’re ready to get everyone back on their feet.

To learn more visit HackensackMeridianHealth.org/Ready.

8 THE OLD BRIDGE SUN NEWSPAPER MEDIA GROUP • www.centraljersey.com January 18, 2023
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