Wednesday, November 30, 2005
"This is really a high point of the holiday season for our members," says Senior Center Director Sharron Brown, "It's the payoff for the months and months that members spend in producing handcrafted items for sale at the bazaar."
Members of the center will offer crocheted items from shawls to booties, in color-coordinated sets, that one group has been working on for months.
Another group of members who enjoy getting 'down and dirty' with their handcrafts will be offering hand decorated ceramic gift items that they have done in their corner art studio.
The Center opens the bazaar to other outside vendors who will offer a wide variety of jewelry, clothing, holiday and greeting cards, as well as homemade holiday food items -- some of which people reserve in advance from year to year.
Proceeds of the members' craft items and table fees from the vendors go to support the Senior Center's ongoing programming.
Hours are: Thursday and Friday, December 1st and 2nd, 10 AM to 4 PM. Saturday, December 3, from 10 AM to 2 PM.
The Holiday Bazaar is open to the public. There is no admission charge. Parking is available in the lot at the rear of the Senior Center on the Roosevelt Avenue side.
Make plans to stop by and pick up some interesting and unique gifts for those on your holidy shopping list!
For more information, call the Senior Center at (908) 753-3506.
Keywords: Plainfield, Seniors, holidays, bazaar
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The event is a holiday high point for the city's youngsters, with a visit from Santa, gifts and refreshements.
This year's program will feature a musical selection by students from Emerson School and a dance selection by students from the Plainfield Performing Arts Center.
Plainfield High School's ROTC will lead in the Pledge of Allegiance and Bishop Herbert Bright will deliver the invocation.
Mayor McWilliams will deliver the final Holiday Greetings of his second term, and he and mayor-elect Sharon Robinson-Briggs will jointly light the tree.
The tree, planted in memory of Webster Sandford, husband of longtime community activist Barbara Sandford, was planted this year and replaces an earlier tree that had become unsightly.
With the arrival of Santa on a Fire Division truck, the proceedings will move indoors, past the tree in the City Hall lobby, with children getting an opportunity to sit on Santa's lap and have a photograph taken. Gift bags will be distributed and refreshments served.
Keywords: Plainfield, Tree lighting, Santa
Monday, November 28, 2005
A third flu clinic has been scheduled for Saturday, December 3rd. The clinic will be held at the City Hall Annex, 510 Watchung Avenue between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., according to City Health Officer Jadwiga Warwas, M.D.
"We have been fortunate in being able to get sufficient supplies for this year," says Dr. Warwas, "and we are urging all Plainfield adults to take advantage of the early availability.
157 residents took advantage of the clinic on November 19 to get their shots.
Residents covered by Medicare or Aetna insurance will have to make no payment; others will be asked to make a donation of $25 to cover costs of the shot and administration of the program.
Preregistration is urged. For more information and to preregister, call the Plainfield Health Division at (908) 753-3092.
Keywords: Plainfield, health, flu
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The annual holiday outreach program helps families whose resources are stretched thin to have a more enjoyable Thanksgiving with food baskets which include a turkey and all the fixings for a good dinner.
"Through Plainfield Action Services and the generosity of local groups and businesses, a good number of Plainfield families will have a brighter Thanksgiving and year-end holiday season," says Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams.
Besides the sixty families served directly by Plainfield Action Services, local groups were assisting others. Stone Square Masonic Lodge was delivering food to 25 families, and Shiloh Baptist Church was coordinating food for 50 families through Plainfield Action Services, according to Director Rick Smiley.
Century 21-Moretti Realty, a South Plainfield firm, has also adopted 5 families for the holiday season.
TOYS AND CLOTHING ALSO NEEDED
As we move from Thanksgiving to the year-end Holiday season, Plainfield Action Services will be accepting gifts of toys and clothing for boys and girls at their offices in the City Hall Annex, 510 Watchung Avenue.
Unwrapped items may be brought to the offices daily between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM. Gift wrap, tape and trimmings are also useful donations, according to long-time PAS worker Patty Boone. For more information, call Plainfield Action Services at (908) 753-3719.
Keywords: Plainfield, PAS, holidays
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Restoration and replacement of the windows will account for about $146,000 of the $500,00 project. Funding comes from a $250,000 preservation grant awarded to the city in 2004 by the New Jersey Historic Trust and $250,000 in required matching funds from the City that were included in a 2002 bond.
"Completion of this project will restore one of the Queen City's landmarks to its place of pride," says Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, "and help to overcome the decades of neglect the seat of city government has suffered."
But windows and repair of the window wells on the lowest floor are only part of the second and final phase of the restoration project.
Phase II will also include the repair and cleaning of the limestone walls, repair, cleaning and repointing of the brick exterior, as well as restoration of the limestone trim.
The final two elements will be the restoration of the cast-stone torcheres that flank the main entry and the restoration and replacement of the two decorative roof urns. The torcheres have suffered freeze-thaw cracking. The roof urns were removed during the Phase I restoration of the building's cupola because of safety concerns.
Keywords: Plainfield, City Hall, preservation
Friday, November 18, 2005
Trade fairs have been a crossroads of business deals, gossip and renewing old acquaintances since the Middle Ages, and New Jersey's municipal trade fair continues that ancient tradition.
The cavernouse Atlantic City Convention Center is abuzz with thousands of attendees and miles of aisles where hundreds of vendors of goods and services needed by local communities hawk their wares.
Plainfield joined a group of other cities -- including Paterson, Newark, Trenton, Jersey City and Perth Amboy -- in touting the advantages of Plainfield as a business location. And the booth certainly made a splash as it was busy from opening to closing each day.
Every conceivable good or service -- from the newest ethanol-fueled emergency vehicles to mapping software for keeping track of Public Works trucks and equipment -- was on display.
In addition, the Conference provides a setting where statutory employees [such as Assessors, Tax Collectors and Clerks] as well as state-certified employees such as Planners can squeeze in the state-mandated annual continuing education credits.
But topical issues are also a huge draw for seminars ranging from ethics to strategies for dealing with youth violence to grant-writing clinics.
The whole Conference comes to a climax with the Mayors' luncheon at which the Governor [and this year also the Governor-elect] make major policy speeches.
After the vendors and others have folded their tents on Thursday and vanished for another year, the League itself gets down to business with Friday morning meetings at which organizational housekeeping puts in place new officers and a new agenda for another year.
Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, League
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without
This World War II ditty encouraged those on America's home front to be frugal to support the war effort.
The partitions separating the office spaces at the rear of the first floor of the City Hall Annex certainly had lived up to the first three lines of the ditty. But Prema Achari, Coordinator of the WIC program, largest of the three agencies housed there, was not going to 'do without.'
"We really needed to provide adequate space and privacy for our staff to meet with clients," Achari said, "as well as systematize the area set aside for our records, and create a play space for small children while their parents wait for their appointments."
A $34,000 grant from the State's Department of Health and Senior Services allowed a complete redesign of the space and the installation of new wall dividers. The entire space was painted, using a crew from the Department of Corrections 'SLAP' program.
"The new arrangement not only makes the interview process more private," says Mayor Al McWilliams, "but the waiting areas have been arranged to be more convenient for the clients of both the WIC and Vital Statistics."
The large, high-ceilinged room is bright and airy and house the Recreation Division and the Vital Statistics office as well as the WIC program. The room was originally the printing plant of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination, whose world headquarters occupied the building.
The city has used it as an Annex for more than 15 years, and the partitions being replaced date from that time.
Keywords: Plainfield, City Hall, remodeling
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
On Saturday, an unprecedented number of courts and communities coast-to-coast will join to finalize thousands of adoptions of children from foster care and to celebrate all families who adopt.
More than 120,000 children nationwide, over 300 in New Jersey, and more than 50 children in Union County are actively seeking adoptive homes
"The city of Plainfield recognizes the importance of giving children permanent, safe and loving families through adoption," says Mayor McWilliams.
"The adoptions of over 75 New Jersey children will be finalized on Saturday, and I am proud that we have adoptive families in Plainfield that will join in celebrating this day."
Keywords: Plainfield, mayor, proclamation, adoption
Monday, November 14, 2005
"Plainfielders are indeed lucky that Dr. Warwas has had the foresight to order sufficient supplies for this year that we are able to offer the vaccine to ALL adults, and not just those in the high-risk populations," says Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams.
The 2004 flu season was troubled with vaccine shortages owing to manufacturing problems on the part of Chiron, one of the few companies that make the vaccine.
"We have gotten our supplies from Chiron this year," says Dr. Warwas, "but we are delighted the State is allowing us to order from other suppliers next year -- especially given the rising prices of the vaccine."
Dr. Warwas was alluding to the fact that when municipalities buy on the "state contract," which allows them to make purchases without getting competitive quotes or going out to bid, they often pay higher prices than those who are making purchases directly in the marketplace.
"I want to emphasize that we have enough supplies to vaccinate any adult who wishes," Warwas continued, "as opposed to last year when shortages caused us to limit access to the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions that put them in the high-risk category."
Residents will be asked to make a donation of $15 for the flu shot.
For more information or for the date and location of future clinics, call the Plainfield Health Division at (908) 753-3092.
Keywords: Plainfield, health, flu
Friday, November 11, 2005
Economic Development Director Pat Ballard and UEZ Coordinator Jacques Howard took a tutorial in setting up the pop-up display background yesterday morning in the second-floor landing at City Hall.
The display opens up from a small cube about one foot square by 18 inches high into a booth-sized background 8 feet wide by 8 feet high. The actual display panels are photographic montages of Plainfield business people and activities, printed on high density plastic. The photographic panels attach to the frame by way of magnetic strips on the back--much the way refrigerator magnets work.
Once they got the hang of it, assembly went quickly--it is expected to take less than thirty minutes to set up the entire booth in Atlantic City.
The League Convention is a traditional crossroads for municipal, county and state elected officials, vendors of every kind of product or service needed by local government, media people of every stripe, and businesses looking to locate or expand in New Jersey.
In fact, many municipalities have information booths to engage business prospects in preliminary conversations about locating in their community.
Plainfield's UEZ will be staffed by city employees attending the Conference as well as by Ballard and Howard. Materials on hand will tout the advantages of Plainfield's UEZ, as well as materials highlighting the city's business, cultural, retail and housing advantages.
2005 marks the 20th anniversary of Plainfield's participation in the Urban Enterprise Zone program, designed to make urban areas more attractive to businesses through various incentives, and to shopper through the reduced sales tax of 3%--half the state's sales tax rate. The sales taxes collected by members businesses are remitted to a Trust Fund administered by the State, from which the City draws funds on the basis of grant proposals approved by a statewide UEZ committee.
Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, marketing, trade show
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Beginning after work hours today, partitions in the rear of the first floor will be removed in preparation for replacement with new partitions and reconfiguration of the space. The affected area houses the Recreation Division, Vital Statistics and the WIC program.
The work is projected to be completed by the end of the day Monday, with services expected to return to normal on Tuesday, November 15.
Temporary changes are listed below:
Beginning Thursday morning and continuing until the work is completed, access will be through the front door on Watchung Avenue. The main entrance on the side of the building will be closed.
The Recreation Division will be closed Thursday and Friday [which is Veteran's Day--all city offices will be closed]. If work is finished, Recreation will be open on Monday. Otherwise, Tuesday morning as projected for balance of work.
Wedding license applications, birth and death certificates will be available at the entrance counter in the Plainfield Action Services space just off the Watchung Avenue entrance.
The WIC Coordinator has notified its clients, but services will be available as needed in the Plainfield Action Services conference room just off the Watchung Avenue entrance.
Health Division, PCTV-74, City Engineer
Offices on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Annex -- Health Division, PCTV-74, City Engineer -- will be open as usual, the only change being that access to the building will be through the Watchung Avenue entrance instead of the main entrance on the side of the building.
City Hall Annex was originally built as the world headquarters of the Seventh Day Baptist Church. The area at the rear of the first floor, which is being affected by the remodeling work, was the location of the denomination's printing plant -- which accounts for its high ceiling and large opaque windows. A plaque in the main lobby honors Everett Lattimore, Plainfield's first African-American mayor.
Operated as the Annex since 1991, the building has suffered from deferred maintenance issues for years, with roof leaks reaching critical levels in recent years. Public Works Director Priscilla Castles says work on roof repairs is to begin soon.
Keywords: Plainfield, City Hall, remodeling
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Plainfielders and others will be delighted with this resource that gathers together contact information for craftsmen and services to transform the home or garden. From vintage decor to custom cabinetry and woodworking. From professional kitchen equipment to the finest Oriental carpets. From custom-made wrought iron gates and fencing to canvas awnings, fine art and landscaping services.
Architects. Contractors. Plumbers. Real estate and allied services professionals. Roofers. Lighting. Furniture. And more.
All that and the advantage of only 3% sales tax on purchases at UEZ-certified businesses. Sound irresistible? The UEZ and the featured merchants believe so.
The brochure has been mailed to thousands of homes in Plainfield and the surrounding communities. Copies are being made available to the real estate community for use with buyers--and sellers, who often have to spruce up a home to get top dollar.
For more information, call the Urban Enterprise Zone at (908) 753-3602 or drop by the office on the 2nd floor of City Hall and pick up a copy.
Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, marketing, Home Arts
"I understand from Dr. Warwas that she has ordered twice the number of doses as last year," says Mayor Al McWilliams, "so that our vulnerable residents--especially Seniors--will have every advantage for protection from this seasonal scourge."
Owing the the Health Division's foresight, Plainfield was able to offer one of the earliest, if not the earliest flu clinics in central Jersey on Friday, October 28, at the Senior Center. Senior Center Director Sharron Brown had her staff reach out to the Center's membership base, and 43 residents showed up for the clinic.
"This 'early bird' opportunity will protect some of our most vulnerable residents and avoid the anxieties that were caused last year over the shortages of flu vaccine," said Mayor McWilliams.
The city's next shipment of vaccine is expected from manufacturer Chiron the week of November 7, guaranteeing an adequate supply for Plainfielders for this flu season, according to Dr. Warwas.
Those doses will be available through the Plainfield Health Center, future clinics offered by the Health Office, and through private care providers.
Seniors and others in high-risk groups are encouraged to make early arrangements to be vaccinated. The suggested donation is $15.
More information can be gotten from the City's Health Office at (908) 753-3092.
Keywords: Plainfield, health, flu
Saturday, November 05, 2005
The repaving of Front Street has been held up--first because gas leaks developed which involved pouring new concrete that had to cure for a month before paving, and then because of the record rainfalls in October, leaving the street too wet to pave.
The $2.5 million streetscape project includes new sidewalks, curbs, decorative brick banding and crosswalks and new street lamps. The street lamps are copied from a turn-of-the-century photo of downtown Plainfield, and are referred to by the manufacturer as the "Plainfield" model.
Trash receptacles have been replaced throughout the project area and benches have been provided for shoppers. The very popular triangular mini-park at the corner of Front and Park was also redesigned, though the jury is still out on whether it is an improvement over the 1970's version which was a highly successful example of the genre.
"The streetscape project is the 'icing on the cake' if you will," says Mayor Al McWilliams, "finishing touches in the Park-Madison area to the major projects which have remade Plainfield's downtown business district--the new County office building and the retail/residential development of Horizons at Plainfield out of the abandoned Tepper's department store."
Streetscape planning was begun by the Office of Economic Development, led by Pat Ballard Fox, with execution of the plan under the supervision of City Engineer Carl Turner. With completion of this phase of the city's streetscape plans, Plainfield will finally be in a position to install closed circuit cameras to assist in crime fighting in the downtown business district.
Phase II, which is in the planning stage, will included improvements in the same vein along both Park and Watchung Avenues from Front Street to Seventh Street.
Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, streetscape
Friday, November 04, 2005
The breakfast meeting at the Plainfield Public Library was sponsored by the Office of Economic Development and the City's Urban Enterprise Zone. After a continental breakfast beside the Library's pool and an opportunity to look over the many capital improvements under way at the Library, the meeting got under way in the Anne Louise Davis Meeting Room.
City Administrator Norton Bonaparte opened the meeting with a welcome from Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, and then turned the meeting over to Economic Development Director Pat Ballard Fox and the team from Fitzmedia, the UEZ's marketing consultant.
A general review of UEZ initiatives included a collage of collateral materials, a new UEZ logo door decal for branding purposes, the recently released 'Home Arts' brochure, an upcoming 'Clean & Safe' brochure, and a trade show display. The trade show display will get its first showing at the NJ League of Municipalities convention in Atlantic City later this month.
The Holiday marketing effort will build on last year's very successful components. A poster and flyers highlighting various community Holiday-related events will be distributed, as well as a coordinated shopping bag, advertising and coupon program.
Retailers will once again be able to have their windows painted in coordinated Holiday themes, this year to be done by a Plainfield artist.
The official kick-off date is Saturday, December 10, with a Visit by Santa to be held at the YWCA, East Front and Church Streets. The event was so popular last year that some families waited in line for an hour for the youngsters to get some time with Santa.
This year, a horse-and-buggy ride will be added as a new feature. The ride will take a route through the Downtown and South Avenue shopping districts.
For more information about the Urban Enterprise Zone, or for copies of the Holiday events poster, call Jeannette Aparicio at (908) 753-3602.
Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, marketing, holidays
"I believe this method of getting a community's obligations marketed is going to revolutionize the municipal finance market," said Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, "since it simplifies the process so much for both the municipality and for the buyers in the marketplace."
The Grant Street Group, which manages online auctions through its "MuniAuction" website handled the marketing of Plainfield's offering. Their efforts included advertising in the financial press and advising potential customers through their email alerts.
City Administrator Norton Bonaparte and Finance and Administration Director Ron West eagerly logged on just before the 11:00 am start time. Once signed on, they waited several minutes for the first bid to appear. Suddenly, the screen refreshed and the details of the first offer--by PNC Capital Markets--were displayed. Within a few more minutes, two other bids were posted, each time the screen refreshing and rearranging the bids in the order most advantageous to the City. Promptly at the 11:15 am cutoff time, the screen froze, the auction was marked closed and a tentative winner was identified: Zions Bank, with the lowest NIC [net interest charge] of 3.2637%.
The sale is subject to completion of the necessary paperwork by the bidder and the City. The transaction is expected to close November 10th, at which time the proceeds will be wired to the City's account.
Zions Bank, originally founded to serve members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, is a publicly traded bank corporation in Utah. A brief history can be found here.
Keywords: Plainfield, government, finance, technology
Plainfield Cable Television (PCTV-74) will be airing the League of Women Voters Candidate Forums for the 2005 General Election.
The Union County League of Women Voters Candidate Forum for the Office of Freeholder will air daily at 11:00 am and 5:00 pm until November 8th.
The League of Women Voters of Plainfield Municipal Candidate Forum for the Offices of Mayor, 2nd & 3rd Ward At-Large Council, and 4th Ward Council will air daily at 9:00 am, 3:00 pm, and 9:00 pm until November 7th.
If your organization would like to post an announcement on the Community Bulletin Board, please call or e-mail the station to receive an application form. Use of the Community Bulletin Board is for Plainfield public and/or non-profit organization events and announcements. No religious services, meeting announcements, membership recruitment, commercial, political, or private messages are permitted. Your completed application must be received at least two (2) weeks before requested start date.
Keywords: Plainfield, cable, PCTV-74
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Proceeds of the note sale will be used to fund projects recently approved by the City Council, including construction of a new Senior Center [$4M], work on the Rushmore and Seidler swimming pools [$504K], and road reconstruction and resurfacing projects [$5.5M]. The remaining funds will be used on various capital items, including the purchase by the City of specialized road maintenance and resurfacing equipment, allowing the Division of Public Works to play a more active role in road maintenance.
"This is an exciting moment for the City," says Mayor Al McWilliams, "not only because we are participating in our first online auction, but because we just received a favorable rating letter from Moody's Investors Service."
"The letter notes the steps taken by my Administration to improve our financial situation through better management, a plan to build long-term reserves, and a stabilization of our $2.27 billion tax base.
"Further, while our rating of MIG1 for these notes is excellent, we are also encouraged that the rating letter, which gives the City an investment grade rating of Baa3, states that 'Moody's believes that audited fiscal 2005 results in line with unaudited estimates will likely result in a rating upgrade,' the Mayor concluded."
These ratings mean the financial community is regarding Plainfield in a better light because of improvements in the handling of the City's fiscal affairs (tax collection rate, building up of surplus, stabilization of tax base), and the City's bonds will be more desirable, making them easier to sell and at a more advantageous interest rate.
Plainfield's Director of Administration and Finance Ron West explains that in an online auction, the auction will take place, the winner be deternined and the interest rate set--all on the same day, November 3. The sale of the notes is expected to close on November 10, with delivery of the proceeds to the City.
The auction is online at Grant Street / MuniAuction: https://www.grantstreet.com/
Keywords: Plainfield, government, finance, technology