Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

The great swearing-in mystery - solved?

City Hall or Courtroom? Where was the mayor-elect's swearing-in to be?

Both the legal notice published by the Municipal Clerk in the Courier News on Wednesday, December 28, and the press release by the Office of Public Information issued Thursday, December 29, announced the swearing-in of Sharon Robinson-Briggs as Plainfield's first woman mayor would take place at 3:00 PM, Sunday, January 1, 2006 in the Rotunda of City Hall.

A brief in the Courier News on Friday, December 30, said the swearing-in would take place at 3:00 PM at the Municipal Council/Courtroom. Which was it to be?

The public employees win.

All are cordially invited to the swearing-in at 3:00 PM Sunday in the Rotunda of City Hall.

How did the mix-up happen? Nobody knows. There was no one at the Courier News who could answer a question on the matter as of Friday morning, but a correction was promised.

Let's hope this is not a sign of things to come.

P.S. The Courier's correction in Saturday's paper:
"Swearing-In Correction [last item]"

Keywords: Plainfield, mayor, inauguration

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sharon Robinson-Briggs will become first woman mayor on Sunday

Sharon Robinson-Briggs will be sworn in as Plainfield's first woman mayor on Sunday, January 1st. The swearing-in will be done by Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman [D-Mercer], retiring chairperson of the Democratic State Committee, at 3:00 PM in the rotunda of City Hall.

When she raises her hand from the Bible, Mayor Robinson-Briggs will join an elite group -- women mayors in New Jersey. Of the 72 woman mayors at last count in 2004, the vast majority serve in small or rural communities, mostly in south Jersey.

Mayor Robinson-Briggs will join just a handful of women who are leading larger and more important Northern New Jersey communities such as Hillside, Bridgewater, Teaneck and North Plainfield.

In keeping with Plainfield's charter prohibition against dual officeholding, the new mayor will be stepping down from the Board of Education, where she served a term as its president. She has also served as president of the NAACP's Plainfield chapter and has been active at the state and national levels of the civil rights organization.

Mayor Robinson-Briggs will deliver her first 'State of the City' Address at the City Council's reorganization meeting, which gets under way at 5:00 PM at the Municipal Council Chambers/Municipal Courtroom at 4th Street and Watchung Avenue.

A reception for Mayor Robinson-Briggs will take place at City Hall at 3:00 PM, following the swearing-in. The reception and the City Council reorganization meeting are open to the general public and all are invited.

Keywords: Plainfield, mayor, inauguration

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kwanzaa Celebration hosted by Division of Recreation


5th Annual Celebration of
Family, Community and Culture

on 'Kuumba'
Saturday, December 31
1:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Washington Community School Cafetorium
427 Darrow Avenue

Sponsored by the
Division of Recreation

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

PCTV-74's 'Monsterpiece Theatre' runs 1960 classic 'Santa Claus'

The holiday offering of PCTV-74's 'Monsterpiece Theatre' is a local premiere of Mexican director Rene Cardona’s classic film Santa Claus.

Running throughout the rest of December and during the first week of January 2006 at 12:00 midnight, the film is noted for its campy take on the Christmas holidays. It has been described by one reviewer as “a cross between a Luis Bunuel art film and a cheesy Saturday morning kid’s TV show.”

“Monsterpiece Theatre” is produced, hosted, and written by Plainfield resident Paula Neves. She has built the series from a collection of films that are in the public domain, but which are rarely seen.

“This is my first time producing, hosting, and writing a TV show,” says Neves, “and it’s a hoot! I am a writer primarily and I see this as a way to write in a new genre in a goofy, fun, but also hopefully instructive way --most of the films I select have a great ‘story behind the story.’ And the films speak for themselves -- some of them like Night of the Living Dead or Santa Claus are quite subversive. That appeals to me enormously.”

“Monsterpiece Theatre” premiered on PCTV-74 in September with the cult classic Attack of the Giant Leeches. A life-long film buff, Neves admits to a particular fondness for camp classics and promises more great movies in 2006. Since its premiere, the series has garnered Neves some local kudos, along with suggestions for further films.

“There will still be plenty of cheesy movies but also true cult classics in the mix— Carnival of Souls, Beast of Yucca Flats, Metropolis. ‘Monsterpiece’ grew out of discussions with a writer/filmmaker friend about what those movies meant to us. It’s an attempt to recreate those moments of fun and fascination.”

“Monsterpiece Theatre” airs daily at midnight on Channel 74. For more information about the show, please call PCTV-74 at (908) 753-3301, or via e-mail at

Keywords: Plainfield, PCTV-74

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

NYC transit worker strike impacts Plainfield commuters

900 people use Plainfield's eastbound Raritan Valley Line service daily and will be impacted by the New York City transit workers' strike which began at 3:00 a.m. today.

Though NJT does not expect difficulties in service into New York's Penn Station, they are recommending riders allow extra time for getting into and out of the stations and schedule their trains accordingly.

The hard part for Plainfielders working in the Big Apple will be navigating once they are in Manhattan.

Only cars with at least four passengers will be allowed into Manhattan south of 96th Street [meaning the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels], so those who drive are advised to plan accordingly. Early morning radio reported traffic jams as police turned around cars with fewer than four occupants.

Those who cannot walk to their destination from Penn Station or the Port Authority Bus Terminal will find that emergency cab regulations will affect their fares. Cabbies are allowed to pick up up to four passengers, who may embark and disembark at different points. The City has set up fare zones at which an extra dollar amount will apply. The fare structure is: $10 on stepping into the cab, plus $5 for each further zone the rider enters.

For Plainfield commuters' convenience, links to valuable websites are listed below. Also note that the NY Times has an online PDF map showing citywide navigation details.

..............- NJ TRANSIT ADVISORY PAGE is here

............................- and a PDF map for getting around is here

Keywords: Plainfield, NJT, strike

Monday, December 19, 2005

Channel 74 airs newsmagazine for women

Plainfield Cable Television (PCTV-74) recently acquired “Changing Images: A Newsmagazine for Women,” a weekly television series produced and hosted by broadcast journalist Lee Spinelli.

Now airing on Comcast Channel 74 in Plainfield, “Changing Images” is a half-hour talk show on a variety of issues of interest to women, such as interpersonal relationships, business, career, and professional development, health, and spirituality.

“The show is designed to help women discover their true worth and provide them with the knowledge and inspiration they need to affect positive changes in their lives,” says Spinelli, whose extensive journalism background also includes work as a news anchor, field reporter, political correspondent, writer, assignment editor, and producer for OBC Television, Comcast Cable of New Jersey, Cablevision of North Jersey, Cable Television Network (CTN), and WMBC-TV 63.

Upcoming shows include “Intercultural Communication: A Tool for Living,” “Women Who Make a Difference,” “Planning for Retirement,” and “Women in Politics: A Closer Look.”

“I’m very happy that we are able to add Lee’s show to Channel 74’s program offerings,” said Rebecca Williams, PCTV-74’s Station Director, “she really offers a wide variety of topics for discussion, interviewing knowledgeable professionals in the fields of arts and culture, law, personal finance, and politics.”

“Changing Images: A Newsmagazine for Women” airs Mondays at 1:30 pm and 8:30 pm, Wednesdays at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm, and Saturdays at 9:30 am and 7:30 pm on Channel 74.

For more information about the show, please call PCTV-74 at (908) 753-3301, or via e-mail at
Keywords: Plainfield, PCTV-74

Friday, December 16, 2005

Construction on City pools under way, all to be ready for 2006 season

At long last, Plainfield kids -- and parents -- can look forward to all the City's pools being open next summer.

In recent years, the pools have needed extensive repairs and construction, causing Rushmore to be closed completely in 2005. The pool at Hannah Atkins Park was completed earlier, along with a new Teen Center.

But the Rushmore Park and Seidler's Field pools projects have proven to be trouble- some. At first, it seemed that a simple replacement of pumps was all that was needed. However, inspections revealed that both pool shells needed total reconstruction.

Getting the funding organized and overcoming difficulties with bids meant that work was not able to get under way earlier in 2005.

As a result, youngsters had to be bused from the West End to Seidler Field this past summer, straining the Recreation Division's budget.

"We're really pleased that work has finally gotten under way," said Recreation Division Director David Wynn, "and look forward to giving our users new facilities that will be within walking distance."

Besides the total reconstruction of both pool shells, new outdoor showers will be installed, as well as splash pad areas with various splash formations for small children and those who don't swim.

Funding for the projects is made possible through grants from the New Jersey Green Acres Program and matching funds from the City of Plainfield. Stoneridge Aquatic Construction, Inc., of Feasterville, PA, has been awarded the contract. Work began the week of December 5th.

With the completion of the new construction, all three City pools with their enhancements will be up and running by the start of the 2006 season, according to Wynn.

For more information, call the Division of Recreation at (908) 753-3096.

Keywords: Plainfield, recreation

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Councilwoman Hollis announces Scholarship fundraiser

4th Ward Councilwoman Joanne Hollis today announced the annual Holiday Scholarship Fundraiser Dinner sponsored by the Elm-West Residents Association.

The event will be held Thursday, December 22, at The Willows, on Washington Avenue in Green Brook. The event begins with dinner at 6 PM.

The evening will include dancing and an open mike period for guests to express their wishes for the Holiday season to all.

Proceeds of the event go to the Elm-West Scholarship Fund, providing assistance to youths from Elmwood Gardens and West End Gardens who are attending college.

Tickets are $40 per person.

Advance reservations can be made with Housing Authority Commissioner Mabel Thompson at (908) 405-0027.

Keywords: Plainfield, Council, scholarship

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Firefighters' annual toy drive

Once again, Plainfield's fire personnel are collecting toys for the Holidays.

Unions representing Plainfield firefighters [Officers, FOA #207; Firefighters, FMBA #7] will continue the annual tradition of collecting toys for distribution to children in the community.

The Holiday Party and Toy Drive will be Thursday, December 22, from 7 PM to 1 AM at Club Faraones, 111 East Front Street.

Admission: Bring an unwrapped toy.

Keywords: Plainfield, firefighters, holidays

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Santa's visit, horse-and-wagon ride kick Holiday season into high gear

Plainfield's Urban Enterprise Zone [UEZ] and Special Improvement District [SID] joined together on Saturday, December 10th, to rev up Plainfield retailers' Holiday season with a visit from Santa and free horse-and-wagon rides.

A small visitor
shares a
Holiday wish
with Santa. . .

. . .and another small visitor
looks offstage
for a suggestion.

Each child's chat
with Santa was
recorded as a
takealong snapshot.

Hundreds of children
and their families
lined up in the
YWCA's spacious lobby
for the visit with Santa.

The Plainfield Girlchoir performed Holiday selections for the event.

Brian Cox as audio man
backed up the musical

A stop for facepainting by Plainfield artist Pedro Baez was a must.

Sisters In The Kitchen
outdid themselves
with an assortment
of cookies and cocoa.

The littlest
Sister In The Kitchen
dons her plastic gloves
for serving food.

Guests take a cookies 'n cocoa
break after facepainting.

After visiting Santa, guests had an opportunity for a
horse-and-wagon ride that included downtown and
South Avenue in a loop. The ride was sponsored by
the new Special Improvement District.

Pat Ballard Fox,
Economic Development Director
shows off the Urban Enterprise
Zone's spiffy new logo.
The Urban Enterprise Zone is a state-designated program intended to help communities revitalize their urban cores through a grant program funded by the 3% sales tax collected on retail sales by member businesses. For more information, contact the Plainfield UEZ at (908) 753-3602.

The Special Improvement District is dedicated to the improvement of the business climate for the businesses in its boundaries. Set up by the City Council at the request of the member businesses, it is funded by a special self-assessment by the merchants and a contribution by the City. For more information about the SID, contact coordinator David Biagini at (908) 756-1088, or president Lisa Cohen of Suburban Jewelers at (908) 756-1774.

Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, SID, marketing, holidays, YWCA

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Free Holiday parking

Once again, shoppers in Plainfield will have free Holiday parking, courtesy of Mayor Al McWilliams and the City Council.

White plastic bags announcing the policy appeared on city parking meters on Saturday, though the policy actually is slated to take effect Monday, December 12, and run through January 2, 2006.

Happy Holidays!

Keywords: Plainfield, parking, holidays

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Plainfield Action Services seeks coats, children's Holiday items

Plainfield Action Services [PAS] is seeking clothing and gift items for Holiday distribution.

"With weather dipping into the 20's, winter is with us even if the calendar shows we have a couple of weeks to go," says Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, "and warm winter coats and jackets are very important for PAS's clients."

New or good used coats and jackets in all sizes are welcome donations for PAS clients in need of warm winter wear, according to PAS Director Rick Smiley.

PAS is also asking residents to share with those less fortunate by donating new toys and clothing items for children to be distributed in the runup to Christmas.

Children's clothing items of all sizes are needed, especially warm shirts, sweaters and gloves or mittens. Size tags should be left on the items.

Toys of all kinds are also welcome, as are donations of gift wrap, ribbon and other trimmings.

All donated items should be delivered unwrapped, so that staff can match with their clients' needs when items are wrapped by volunteers.

Items should be delivered to Plainfield Action Services which is located on the ground floor of the City Hall Annex, 510 Watchung Avenue.

For more information, or to arrange to drop off items, call Patty Boone at Plainfield Action Services, (908) 753-3519, Mon-Fri, 9 AM to 4 PM.

Keywords: Plainfield, PAS, clothing

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Merchants' windows reflect Holiday themes

Pleased with the success of last year's Holiday window painting program, 27 merchants signed up for the second year's program.

This year, Plainfield High School student Pedro Sevalles is painting the windows.

"I am pleased the consultant was able to identify a talented local young artist," said Plainfield Mayor Al McWilliams, "and I am told that window painters are such a rarity that the young man has a promising business opportunity on his hands as a result."

Merchants have already expressed interest to the UEZ about having window decorations for other seasonal sales periods such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, the Fourth of July and Halloween.

You may take in the windows and their various themes, each selected by a merchant and tailored to the business's specialty, by visiting the locations below:

Front Street/Watchung Avenue

..... - Capital Nails, 102 East Front
..... - Casa Nova Pizzeria, 103 East Front
..... - Tax John, 105 East Front
..... - Suburban Jewelers, 126 East Front
..... - Rent-a-Center, 132 East Front
..... - Big D Retail Services, 139 East Front
..... - International Furniture, 124 East Front
..... - Bill's Luncheonette, 160 East Front
..... - Park Gentry, 170 East Front
..... - Front Page Edition, 174 East Front
..... - Gold Breeze Jewelry, 177 East Front
..... - Seda Fashions, 177-A East Front
..... - Chary's Hair Salon, 178 East Front
..... - Plainfield Vision Center, 180 East Front
..... - Sound Stream Wireless, 183 East Front
..... - Texas Weiner I, 100 Watchung Avenue
..... - American Red Cross, 332 West Front
..... - Cooper Office Furniture, 327 West Front

Park Avenue

..... - Tradiciones De Mi Pueblo, 307 Park Ave
..... - US Speedy Printing, 321 Park Avenue
..... - Scott Drugs, 701 Park Avenue
..... - Plainfield Public Library, 8th & Park

South Avenue

..... - Rena's Diner, 1324 South Avenue
..... - Dairy Queen, 1367 South Avenue


..... - Soumas Heritage School of Music, 1451 East Second
..... - Terrill Road Country Market, 190 Terrill Road

Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, marketing, holidays

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Retailers launch Holiday shopping season


Plainfield retailers have a two-pronged tool as they enter 2005's year-end Holiday shopping season. Both the city's Urban Enterprise Zone and the new Special Improvement District are working to promote Plainfield's shopping experience.

The Plainfield SID's 'Positively Plainfield' magazine

The SID's quarterly magazine, 'Positively Plainfield,' has a Holidays 2005 issue that is in mailboxes now.

As part of the Holiday marketing effort, the SID is sponsoring free horse-drawn wagon rides on Saturday, December 10, from Noon to 3 PM.

The wagons will tour both the downtown and South Avenue shopping areas, with five convenient drop-off spots for some Holiday shopping before reboarding the wagon on its return trip.

The wagon rides originate at the YWCA, corner of East Front and Church Streets.

The UEZ's 'Spirit of the Holidays'

Also on Saturday, December 10, the UEZ kicks off its Holiday effort with the 2nd Annual 'Day With Santa' from 11 AM to 2 PM at the YWCA, corner of East Front and Church Streets.

Bring the kids and have a picture taken with Santa. There will be gifts, snacks by Sisters In The Kitchen, fun entertainment and costumed figures to make the day memorable.

Decorated shopping bags will be provided for parents to tote their holiday purchases home!

Parking in the area of the YWCA will be FREE on Saturday, in anticipation of the city's annual free holiday parking period which runs officially from December 12 through January 2, 2006.

'Positively Plainfield' also announces the planned joint website of the Special Improvement District and the Plainfield Chamber of Commerce, which can be found at

Businesses can advertise on the website and earn a special discount if they advertise both on the website and in the quarterly magazine. Those interested can get more information by calling the SID at (908) 756-1088.

Keywords: Plainfield, UEZ, SID, marketing, holidays

Monday, December 05, 2005

Katrina volunteers Caminiti and Plum honored by Mayor McWilliams

On behalf of Mayor Al McWilliams, City Administrator Norton Bonaparte presented proclamations of gratitude to Detective Dino Caminiti and Officer Jerry Plum at the Holiday tree lighting ceremony last Friday evening for their role as volunteers in the Katrina relief effort this past autumn.

"I . . . commend Detective Dino Caminiti and Officer Jerry Plum for their service in this time of national catastrophe, and . . . call upon the residents and friends of the City of Plainfield to join me in this commendation," said Mayor McWilliams in the proclamations.

Little did anyone in New Jersey suspect that when Hurricane Katrina made landfall at dawn on Sunday, August 28, in the New Orleans area, the storm surge would overwhelm the city's levees, flooding eighty percent of the city and that the it would also destroy towns and cities along much of the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Katrina instantly became the worst natural disaster in American history, displacing three million people immediately, of whom one million were left utterly homeless, with over 1300 confirmed deaths.

The hearts of the American people opened immediately to the enormous suffering and need. Voluntary first-responder assistance from police and firefighters was offered by many states and jurisdictions, including the State of New Jersey.

When the call came down for volunteers at the local level, so many Plainfield police and fire personnel volunteered that the city would have been left shorthanded.Union County officials selected Plainfield Police Detective Dino Caminiti and Officer Jerry Plum to be part of the New Jersey contingent.

Caminiti and Plum were deployed in two separate waves to ‘Camp New Jersey’ in Kenner, Louisiana between September 17, 2005 and October 10, 2005.

Upon arrival, the entire New Jersey contingent was sworn as Louisiana State Troopers for the duration and performed their duties as directed, including patrol, security details and resolving backlogged 911 calls, serving with distinction and giving honor to New Jersey’s assistance effort.

Both men say the New Jersey assistance was well-received, both by Louisiana authorities and the local residents. Put up at the Kenner High School, their accommodations were spartan, but gave them the base of operations and a place to rest and relax that made the operation seem to go quickly.

Detective Caminiti drove a Plainfield police vehicle down and back, accompanied by another officer from Union County. They drove nonstop in shifts, taking turns napping in the passenger seat as the rear of the cruiser was jammed with equipment and supplies. Asked if he had any problems on the road with the cruiser, Caminiti laughed when he said everything went without a hitch until the night before leaving to return. Just to be on the safe side, he checked the vehicle's tires and found a screw embedded in one that might have caused a blowout on the return trip. After changing the tire, the return trip proceeded without incident.

Keywords: Plainfield, mayor, proclamation, Katrina

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Mayor-elect Robinson-Briggs joins youngsters in Holiday Tree lighting, Santa's visit

About two hundred Plainfield children and their families joined with City officials and Mayor-elect Sharon Robinson-Briggs on an icy Friday evening to celebrate the annual lighting of the Holiday Tree and a visit from Santa.

Mayor-elect Robinson-Briggs joined with City Administrator Norton Bonaparte and 3rd Ward Councilman Don Davis in lighting the tree, a newly planted replacement of the former tree and dedicated to the memory of Webster Sandford, late husband of Barbara Sandford, longtime beautification activist.

The Mayor-elect delighted the crowd by reading a Christmas card for all Plainfielders. After greeting all with "Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Chanukah, and Celebrate Kwanzaa," she invited participants to join in a rousing cheer of "Unity in the Community."

With the arrival of Santa on a City fire truck --to the delight of the youngsters-- the outdoor proceedings drew to a close and the youngsters and their families moved indoors for a visit with Santa complete with a takealong Polaroid, a bag of small gifts, and cookies and beverages doled out by Santa's helpers.

Plainfield High School ROTC Color Guard leads attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance

Bishop Herbert Bright is introduced by emcee Michelle Bryant to offer the invocation
Students from Plainfield's newest charter school perform musical selections. The school, Union County TEAMS, is housed in the new Shiloh Baptist Church facility on West Fourth Street

Mayor-elect Sharon Robinson-Briggs applauds performers at the Treelighting ceremony

Students from the
Performing Arts Center
in a liturgical dance presentation

Mayor-elect Sharon Robinson-Briggs joins with City Administrator Norton Bonaparte, Third Ward Councilman Don Davis and wellwishers in lighting the Holiday Tree

The new Holiday Tree in all its splendor

Mayor-elect Robinson-Briggs reads
a holiday card to the crowd

Santa and Mrs. Santa delight a young visitor

All photography by Dan Damon, Public Information Officer, City of Plainfield

Keywords: Plainfield, Tree lighting, holidays, Santa