Highland Park’s Walk-Up Farmers Market is Back, June 5, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., under “New Normal” Conditions

It’s a new normal, but one that evokes a return to community life. Rebecca Hersh, executive director of Main Street Highland Park, announced that the Farmers Market on Friday, June 5, 11 a.m to 2 p.m., is transitioning back into the more “normal” walk-up market, with lots of safety and social-distancing measures in place. “There are important restrictions in place for now, but I am so pleased that the Farmers Market – so much a part of Highland Park’s life – remains alive and vibrant. I want to thank everyone who made this possible – the vendors, Highland Park officials, the Highland Park Police Department, and of course, our community members who support our downtown activities,” she said. SOME OF THE UPDATED MARKET RULES INCLUDE: 

Shoppers can now buy onsite, but online pre-ordering and pre-paying is still available for most vendors –and it is encouraged to reduce person-to-person contact. READ MORE

NBC News Anchor Lester Holt Delivers a Real World Message in a Virtual Environment at Rutgers New Brunswick Commencement

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt confided in the Rutgers Class of 2020 that this was not the moment anyone had envisioned for them in a recorded message that was part of an unprecedented virtual commencement ceremony. It was a theme echoed throughout an hour-long celebration for graduates of Rutgers University-New Brunswick and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences viewed Sunday on the university’s commencement website, Facebook and YouTube channel. The virtual ceremony was punctuated throughout with selections of videos submitted by about 450 students who shared joyful messages reflecting on their proudest accomplishments and favorite memories of their time at Rutgers. The video also featured Jhanvi Virani, president of the Rutgers University Student Assembly walking on a deserted College Avenue campus, ringing the historic Old Queens bell and sharing her thoughts on the unusual end for the Class of 2020 who were forced to move off campus before spring break as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, not knowing that they would ultimately finish the semester apart. “The world is different today, and some of us may still be asking what if the world as we know it doesn’t return,” said Ms. Virani, who is graduating with a degree in mathematics and computer science from the School of Arts and Sciences. READ MORE

The Highland Park Planet Sponsors the HP Cousins 5K Race to Support HP Gives a Hoot

On May 24, 2020, the HP Cousins – six cousins ranging in age from 13 years old to four years old– participated in their own socially distant charity 5K race in Highland Park to raise money for HP Gives a Hoot, whose food-providing services are so much in demand right now because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.  The cousins are seeking five dollar per cousin sponsorships. The Highland Park Planet agreed to be the producing corporate sponsor contributing $108 toward the cause and helping to publicize the effort. The racers – Lily Solomon, Harry Solomon, Sam Solomon, Rubin Hersh, Ilana Hersh, and Phillip Hersh – were accompanied by three parents and one grandparent. They ran, walked and biked 3.1 miles on a route that was drawn up by 11-year old Rubin Hersh and his mother Christine Hersh. The cousins are looking forward to raising enough money to provide dozens of free lunches and all sorts of groceries to those adversely affected by this pandemic. READ MORE

Asian Giant Hornet Reported Only in Pacific Northwest, according to Rutgers Cooperative Extension Experts

Although media reports have triggered panic over the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), there are no reports this pest is present anywhere else in North America besides the Pacific Northwest. Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) personnel in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources have received inquiries to identify hornets found by the public. In New Jersey, RCE county offices have not identified any submitted specimens to be the Asian Giant Hornet, which has only had confirmed sightings in Washington State and British Columbia, Canada. “The species has not yet been detected this spring and we do not expect them on the East Coast,” said Dina M. Fonseca, director of the Center for Vector Biology and professor in the Department Entomology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers–New Brunswick. “We do not know how the species arrived in the United States but it is important to not overreact.”

Washington State University’s information on the Asian giant hornet confirmed the first U.S. sighting of this hornet in the wild. READ MORE

Rutgers University to Host Virtual Commencement Celebration on May 31 at which news anchor Lester Holt will speak

Rutgers University will stream a virtual celebration of its 2020 graduates on May 31 to honor their academic achievements completed during a pandemic that required remote instruction through the final weeks of the spring semester. President Robert Barchi will preside over and confer degrees during Rutgers University’s 254th Anniversary Commencement celebration, which will feature award-winning NBC News anchor Lester Holt delivering an address to the graduates from his home studio. Holt also will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. “Commencement is an important milestone, not only for our students and their families, but for our faculty and staff, our alumni, and for the Rutgers community as a whole,” President Barchi said. “In this time of uncertainty, celebrating graduation is more important than ever, because it brings us together to recognize achievements with a sense of pride and admiration, even amidst social distancing.”

The virtual ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 31, will be streamed on the university’s commencement website, Facebook and YouTube channels and will incorporate many of the traditional customs associated with on-campus commencements, along with some new ones for an unprecedented time. READ MORE

Highland Park Chinese Association makes multi-faceted contribution to the town during COVID-19 crisis

The Highland Park Chinese Association (HPCA), a
nonsectarian, nonprofit organization founded recently in response to the
pandemic’s health, social and economic ramifications, has employed
determination and creativity to play a valuable role in supporting the town’s
response to the COVID-19 crisis. Communicating primarily through Zoom and
online forums, the HPCA has rallied its members to do the following. Obtained & donated 1,500 single use surgical
masks, 1,300 nitrile gloves, and 200 medical gowns with hoods to the borough,Obtained and donated 200 KN95 face masks and 390
surgical masks to the Highland Park Police Department,Collected funds from its members and donated
$2000 to the Highland Park Community Food Pantry,Conducted an active online drive to encourage local
Chinese residents to participate in the 2020 Census, resulting in 85 families
and 288 people being included in the Census. “I’m so humbled and very grateful for the many contributions
of the Highland Park Chinese Association at this time,” said Mayor Gayle Brill
Mittler. “It is exceptionally helpful to have the Highland Park Chinese Association
working with us to secure enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for all
our needs. READ MORE

Property Owners Are to Get a Month’s Extension in Paying Taxes Originally Due May 1

 Governor Murphy on April 28, 2020,  signed Executive Order No. 130, that allows municipalities to extend the grace period for property tax payments due on May 1st to June 1st. Such an extension would provide much-needed relief to homeowners struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Highland Park last week already announced its intention to do something very similar that would not have required the state’s permission. “Allowing municipalities the option of extending the grace period for May property tax payments is the right thing to do as many New Jerseyans are impacted financially as a result of this crisis,” said Governor Murphy. READ MORE

RU Vice Chancellor Provides Support and Inspiration during COVID-19 Pandemic

Salvador Mena struggled with an undiagnosed learning disability during his childhood in the South Bronx. For most of his school years he was far from a model student. The challenges he faced growing up on welfare in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood, living with family who took him in after he emigrated from Puerto Rico before kindergarten, instilled in him a deep drive and an understanding of what it takes to overcome adversity to succeed. 

This experience is what guides Dr. Mena in his role as the vice chancellor for student affairs at Rutgers University-New Brunswick – particularly now as he helps a team of university administrators navigate Rutgers and its students through the changes universities and colleges have been forced to make as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  

Whether replacing in-person programs and events with virtual ones, providing laptops for students who need them, offering food at campus food pantries, providing online mental health services and giving those who don’t have homes to go to or are international students unable to travel a place to live, Dr. Mena, his student affairs team and campus colleagues are helping students through an unprecedented time. “I am putting things into perspective and being grateful for even little blessings,” said Dr. Mena, who is working with administrators throughout Rutgers to provide services for students coping with a variety of issues from the anxiety, stress and uncertainty of when their lives will be back to normal, to the everyday tasks of completing coursework online instead of in the classroom and the stark reality for graduating seniors that traditional 2020 commencement festivities won’t take place. 

“We are in a strange spot that we have never been in before and we are working to make sure that our students understand that we are there for them,” he said. READ MORE

Support Local Farmers and Vendors at Special HP Farmers Market – Order/Pay April 29/30, Pick up May 1

The HP Farmers Market — social-distancing-in-the-time-of-COVID edition — will start on Friday May 1. In partnership with the Borough of Highland Park and the Highland Park police department, Main Street Highland Park has come up with this temporary plan to allow for ONLY pre-ordered and pre-paid pick-ups. This is healthy for the town, healthy for the residents, so make this special Farmers Market a special community event. Basic info:

—–Pickup on Friday, 11 am – 2 pm —-NO day-of purchases —-NO walk-up purchases—-Online pre-ordering & pre-paying ONLY. (If you can’t pay online, email mainstreethighlandpark@gmail.com) —-Drive-up pickup ONLY (If you can’t do drive-thru pickup, email mainstreethighlandpark@gmail.com) —-Must order individually from each vendor at mainstreethp.org/farmersmarket. READ MORE

RU Cutting Costs Dramatically Including Salary Cuts for SeniorLeaders but No Tuition/Fee Increases

Rutgers University is taking sweeping
cost-cutting measures to help the university address the immediate fiscal
challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and called for a budget for the
coming fiscal year with no increase in tuition and fees, according to Rutgers University
President Robert Barchi.  He and the
university’s most senior leadership will take a 10 percent reduction in salary
and that other senior leaders will reduce their pay by 5 percent. The president
called for utilizing all appropriate reserve funds, as well as a freeze on all
new major construction projects, among other steps. President Barchi announced the cost-cutting
measures in a letter at the end of April to the members of the university’s
governing boards, faculty and administration. The changes follow other steps
the state’s flagship university has already taken, including a university-wide
hiring freeze, a ban on non-negotiated and out-of-cycle pay increases, and a
ban on all discretionary travel and other expenses. READ MORE