The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) on July 1 gave New Jerseyans good reasons to be happy about being employed in the Garden State. READ MORE
Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced that the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey is offering scholarships to law school students seeking careers as prosecuting attorneys, graduate students with a commitment to child advocacy, and to police officers hoping to attend college or graduate school to advance their careers in law enforcement. The annual scholarships, each amounting to a one-year grant of $3,500, will be paid directly to the recipients, who will be selected by a committee that administers the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey Scholarship Foundation. Scholarship applicants must be residents of New Jersey and must demonstrate a financial need. Scholarship recipients from previous years are ineligible. Each of the scholarships is dedicated to the memory of an attorney who died in office, where the individual had served with dignity as prosecutors in various counties in New Jersey and exemplified the high standards of law enforcement professionals. READ MORE
Yolanda Ciccone, of Metuchen, the former Assignment Judge of Somerset County, was sworn in today as Prosecutor of Middlesex County during a brief ceremony officiated by retired Judge and former Prosecutor Alan A. Rockoff. In June 2020, Governor Phil Murphy nominated Yolanda Ciccone to be the Prosecutor of Middlesex County. She was confirmed by the Senate on June 15, 2020, beginning a five-year term as the county prosecutor. Prosecutor Ciccone began her legal career in 1980 as a law clerk to the Hon. John E. Bachman J.S.C. and Hon. READ MORE
Borough officials, volunteer leaders, and community residents gathered at the Highland Park Borough Hall on Sunday morning, June 21, to celebrate Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, with the unveiling of a Black Lives Matter street art mural. The big and bold yellow letters spelling out Black Lives Matter on South Fifth Avenue in front of The Borough Hall and the Fire House are meant to be a reminder to all residents that during slavery obviously, but even during the 157 years after the emancipation of slaves, blacks have experienced and still are experiencing today severe challenges of ingrained prejudice that has demeaned, devalued and destroyed black lives. In addition, the art also will serve as an inspiration for the community to make constructive structural changes to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for all regardless of the color of one’s skin. According to a Washington Post analysis black Americans are disproportionately affected by police violence across the United States. The Highland Park mural response came after weeks of massive protests across the country against racial injustice and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. READ MORE
We need effective contact tracing with privacy protections to open NJ’s economy and save lives. In NJ, more than 12,000 people in the last three months have died from COVID-19 – more than we lost during all of WWII. During this same time period as Governor Murphy issued his stay-at-home order that shut down all but essential businesses, more than one million people in NJ claimed unemployment and the budget deficit over the next year is now predicted to be close to $10 billion dollars. During this past week, my committee, the Assembly Science Innovation and Technology Committee, together with the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee chaired by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter held a hearing on one of the key tools needed to reopen NJ’s economy safely: contact tracing.
Contact tracing has been a weapon in the battle to prevent the spread of communicable diseases for decades. According to the World Health Organization, the eradication of smallpox, for example, was achieved in 1979 not by universal immunization, but by exhaustive contact tracing. Diseases for which contact tracing is commonly performed include tuberculosis, vaccine-preventable infections like measles, sexually transmitted infections (including HIV), blood-borne infections, some serious bacterial infections, and novel infections (e.g. SARS-CoV, H1N1, and COVID-19).
Technology plays a crucial role in contact tracing, and as our world has been more technologically advanced, our personal data have become more vulnerable. While NJ has no plans to develop a contact tracing app that we would download on our phones to track our movements, it does intend to use a central database to store contact tracing data in “the cloud.” This information, collected through telephone calls to those suspected of being in close contact with someone that has tested positive for COVID-19, will include your name, ask about how you are feeling, ask about others with whom you may have had close contact, and ask that you quarantine yourself. You will NEVER be asked for money, your social security number, bank information, immigration status, or other personally protected information. READ MORE
Highland Park High School (HPHS) seniors will be celebrating their graduation this year under a cloud of COVID-19. The traditional graduation ceremony for students and their relatives is being replaced by a virtual ceremony and a car parade. Main Street Highland Park, in collaboration with Project Graduation, however, hopes to bring a little sunshine to the untraditional graduation by implementing a program called “Highland Bucks for HPHS graduates.”
Project Graduation, a group of parent volunteers whose goal is to produce a safe year-end celebration for the graduating high school seniors, reached out to Main Street for an initiative that would give a boost to both the graduates and the retail community. Each graduate will receive a $20 Highland Buck certificate that can be used as cash in any participating Highland Park downtown business. There still is time for businesses to sign up for this program that costs the businesses nothing and generates good will. READ MORE
Residents, business owners, and visitors express a clear interest in seeing sit down options return to local restaurants as soon as possible. With the Governor’s new policy announced this week, allowing dining outside with social distancing, the time is right to start spending more time with our restaurants.Main Street Highland Park, in cooperation with the Borough administration, has worked to enhance options for dining outside. Main Street’s ‘Town Tables’ program will create new spaces for local restaurants, coffee shops, and food providers to provide outside dining.Starting June 15th, South 3rd Ave between Raritan Ave. and Benner St. will be closed to vehicles and 16 picnic tables will be set up in the street, socially distanced from each other. READ MORE
The Rutgers University Board of Governors today approved a tuition and fee freeze for undergraduates for the 2020-2021 academic year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “While tuition and fee increases have been consistently low over the last five years, the Board of Governors committed to a zero percent increase this year so students and families can access an affordable Rutgers education during this unprecedented crisis,” said Mark Angelson, chair of the Board of Governors. For the last five academic years, Rutgers increased tuition and fees an average of 2.2 percent – typically below average increases at institutions in neighboring states under normal circumstances. However, the resolution approved today for the upcoming academic year will keep tuition and mandatory student fees at the 2019-2020 levels. Tuition and fees help fund the academic programs and university services, including academic advising, library services, computing services, health services, counseling and financial aid, that allow Rutgers to provide a high-quality education to its students, whether delivered in-person or remotely. READ MORE
LOOSE ENDS FEATURE COLUMN BY PAM HERSH
I am no Pollyanna, but I discovered several glass-is-half-full aspects of this COVID-19 pandemic. The very clean glass becomes even fuller, when you factor in the acts of extraordinary heroism and generosity. Masks. I love masks. They are super anti-aging weapons (you have no wrinkles if you can’t see them), as well as weapons of mass protection. READ MORE
A birthday celebration on June 13th will have a particularly graceful, albeit virtual, demeanor, when the Princeton Ballet School of the American Repertory Ballet performs its annual school show. In past years, the show has graced the stage of the Patriot’s Theater of the Trenton War Memorial in front of hundreds of audience members, but this year the audience members will be sitting in front of personal screens in the comfort of their homes. The special video show, which is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the school, will feature 150 PBS students doing excerpts from four ballets originally staged by Princeton Ballet School founder Audree Estey. The performance video, made available after June 13, will feature new choreography plus small sections of ballets from Princeton Ballet School’s full-length original productions:
Sleeping Beauty (1957)
“Because our dancers and families could not experience the annual spring performance in-person this year, we are creating a video montage to help celebrate their hard work, passion, and technical and artistic growth,” said ARB executive director Julie Diana Hench. “More than ever, our families and dancers need the beauty and healing artistry of ballet. READ MORE