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May  11

Scrubs on Parade

Mountainside_protest_2_2About 50 docs, nurses, technicians and community members took took to the street in front of Mountainside Hospital Tuesday afternoon to clamor for local control of the hospital, which is up for sale with a Friday bidding deadline. Yesterday's protestors represented a local group of community members who want to buy the hospital from Atlantic Health Systems.

Mountainside's official PR people, meanwhile, used the opportunity to hand out a news release:

Florham Park, NJ, May 9, 2006 -- As Joseph Trunfio, CEO of Atlantic Health System, has maintained throughout the process of seeking new ownership for Mountainside Hospital, there are no plans to close this hospital. On the contrary Mr. Trunfio has repeatedly said, Atlantic Health System's aim is to see Mountainside continue as an acute care facility serving this community.

Said Trunfio, "We join with our neighbors in seeking new operators of the facility who will be able to ensure the successful continuation of quality patient care and service while establishing and maintaining a fiscally responsible institution. This is a goal that will best serve patients and their families, other area residents and our skilled and committed employees."

In addition to Community Friends of Mountainside, the local group, St. Joe's in Paterson and Cathedral Health Group of Newark are planning to submit bids.

May 11, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (3)

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May   4

Bloomfield Approves Benefits For Same Sex Partners

Last February, Essex county said ok to granting benefits for domestic partners of county employees, and now Bloomfield is following their lead. Last Monday night, the Bloomfield Town Council voted to extend benefit coverage to same sex partners of employees, including retirees. Thanks to Anne Prince who tipped us off to this story. This got a mention in My Bloomfield online.

May 4, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (86)

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May   3

Forget Class Rank, How About School Rank?

Not that there's any competition in Baristaville, but Newsweek's 1000 Best High Schools list is out, and this year Montclair High School comes in at #207, while Glen Ridge comes in at #580. Last year, Glen Ridge made the list at #459. The ranking system is based on the number of students taking and passing advanced placement tests. Bloomfield didn't make the list at all.

May 3, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (37)

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April  29

Good Clean Fun

Get out and help clean Bloomfield Baristaville this weekend. Today, it's 10-3 at Watsessing Park...

Please join us at the corners of Glenwood and Maolis for our annual Spring Cleanup of Watsessing Park.  Initiated by the WHNA and now sponsored by the WPC (Watsessing Park Conservancy) this year marks our 9th Spring Cleanup!

It's supposed to be a beautiful day on Saturday, so turn off the cartoons, drag the kids out and make it a family outing!  Refreshments provided for all volunteers.

Also today, a cleanup effort at Toney's Creek, which runs through Montclair and Glen Ridge:

Toney’s Brook Clean-up at Glenfield Park (Woodland Avenue and Pierson Place, follow signs to Toney’s Brook)

Be a part of clean Ocean Action’s semi-annual effort to clean up our waterways! We will work in teams of 2 or 3 to clean up the brook and document the types of debris found. This information will be put in to a national database to help identify and eliminate the sources of water pollution.

Then, tomorrow, Sunday, from 11 am - 2 pm, it's the 11th annual Clark's Pond Nature Preserve Clean-Up

Meet at our sign-in table near the footpath behind the Bloomfield Middle School (You can walk down the footpath from Bessida St0. Once again, we hope for a great turnout, to clear out trash to make the pond and river a little nicer for the people and wildlife there. (Three years ago a volunteer rescued a duckling that was entangled in a piece of plastic garbage!) There’s plenty to do, so come on out! We'll provide gloves and bags and tools.

We maintain an inventory of the pond’s flora and wildlife, monitor the water quality, and  have nature walks and other educational activities.  Come to learn and have fun!

If you are not able to donate your time, but would still like to support the park, please be advised that the WPC is a 501c3 [non-profit] organization.  All donations are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.  Donations can be sent to WPC, PO Box 1783, Bloomfield, NJ  07003. Watsessing Heights Neighborhood Association, Inc. 973-680-WHNA (9462)

April 29, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (5)

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April  28

Montclair Preschoolers Helping Katrina Victims

Kids with compassion at the Montclair Pre-K was the subject of a report on NBC news last night, showing that even our youngest citizens can make a difference.  You can’t help feeling good when you hear how tiny tots are helping their buddy Nigel, a victim of Hurricane Katrina. Nigel fled New Orleans after Katrina hit, finding a safe haven in Montclair, where he attended the Pre-K for four and a half months. Befriending Nigel, and hearing how his home was destroyed by floodwaters made a huge impression on the kids. After Nigel returned to New Orleans, they  came up with a very creative idea to help Nigel and his family:  From WNBC.com:

Nigel's New Jersey classmates decided they wanted to help their friend and his family recover from the disaster. They put together a book, with each student illustrating and writing a page about Nigel, describing their friend in their own words. "He used to play with all of us," reads one page. "He's a really nice boy."

The book also conveys the students' sadness when Nigel left.
"We feel very sad," said Sarah Stack, 4. "When we lined up, we always said how much we loved him."

Alpha Graphics on Bloomfield Avenue, and Scholastic Books donated printing services to make the idea a reality, the Pre-K's Executive Director Eve Robinson told us. The response from last night's broadcast has been great, Robinson said, and they already need to go into their second printing.To order a copy of the Nigel Book, write to mtcprek@verizon.net  or call 973- 509-4500. "We're going to sell it for $10 and then we're going to give the dollars to Nigel's family," said Eve Dillingham, 5.

Meanwhile, first graders at the Montclair Co-Op School are doing their bit to help kids suffering from the effects of Katrina.  They have donated their Legos  - and have a collection box at Learning Express so others can donate too.  You’ll have until Wednesday to contribute new or used legos; the Lego Company will match the number of blocks collected, one for one, and send them off to New Orleans.  So far, about 5,000 pieces have been collected.

April 28, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (3)

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April  25

Bike Montclair Gets In Gear

Bike Montclair wants you to get your bike out and on the street – and not just during their annual Tour de Montclair May 21. More and better bike lanes is their strategy for traffic calming and safer streets  in Montclair. “More bikes on the road can make a difference in the way people drive – drivers become more aware of their speed," says Bike Montclair Prez, Jerry Fried.

In February 2005, the local advocacy group presented a detailed plan to the township council showing how Montclair could become more bike and pedestrian friendly. The first phase of a three phase plan included creating a wide shoulder on Grove and Elm Streets for safer biking (like our Glen Ridge neighbors have on Ridgewood Avenue) and making key intersections less dangerous. The town liked the plans, says Fried, but after more than a year, he is wondering when bikers are going to see some action on the street.  Although bike lanes are not on the town engineer’s calendar yet, Town Manager Joe Hartnett told us today that he has included the project in this year's budget proposal, which will be voted on in May. "I'd like to see the work start this summer or fall," he said.

With traffic calming and pedestrian/biker safety a priority, this year’s Tour de Montclair theme is “Keep Kids Alive, Drive 25”.  And they will promote it by sponsoring a poster contest for kids. Two grand prize winners will walk away with their own IPODs, and there are give-aways for all other entries. Judging will take place at Watchung Plaza on the day of the tour, May 21.

April 25, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (18)

Board Of Ed Gives No Idling Policy A Green Light

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Montclair's BOE met last night and approved a policy for no bus idling that will apply to district owned and contracted school buses, as well as privately owned vehicles parked on school property.

Dr. James Patterson presented policy wording which he said had been altered at the last minute to follow the EPA and recommendations of zero idling time rather than allowing the legal three minutes.  This came as a surprise and personal victory to Marcella Van Winden, mother and founder of Healthy Montclair who has worked for months to make the Board aware of the health dangers of school bus diesel emissions for children.  Until last night, she told us, there was no indication that the Board was contemplating anything beyond the extent of the law. Van Winden said she called the Board yesterday afternoon in a last ditch effort, to tell them she'd be bringing kids equipped with inhalers, dust masks, and large signs demanding a stop to all diesel exhaust exposure around schools.  "I feel like I made the magic phone call, and had to put pressure on them to make them listen," she said.  "There's no going back now."

The Board will vote at next month's meeting to adopt the new bus idling policy.  In the meantime, Town Manager, Joe Hartnett told Baristanet that he'd be working with the town's environmental coordinator, Gray Russell, and the school board to get "No Idling" signs up around the schools next week.

April 25, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (26)

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April  22

It's Earth Day: Go Pick up a Pamphlet (and Then Throw it in Your Recycling Bin)

Earth_day The first Earth Day was 36 years ago today and, by some accounts, 20 million people took the streets to create the political movement known as environmentalism. This was less than a year after Woodstock, and the two events were culturally linked. Earth Day was celebrated by the same long-haired boys and girls who passed joints and danced in the mud at Yasgur's farm -- only this time their arms were raised in a demand that politicians save the earth from greedy capitalists.

Environmentalism has been so neutered over the decades that we're almost embarrassed to present what Baristaville has organized for Mother Earth this year.

  • Verona Park will be Earth Day Central. Speeches by local politicos, activities for children, information on energy efficiency in the home and a hybrid car demo at 1:40 pm.
  • Nature activities for children, 11 to 4, Essex County Environmental Center 621 B Eagle Rock Avenue Roseland.
  • Montclair Fest at the Montclair State University student center all day, with an Earth and Environmental Studies table.
  • Riverbank Cleanup at Great Falls in Paterson from 9 to 3.
  • Glen Ridge bucks the April 22 tradition and decides to hold its own "Earth Day" on June 17, with a computer and electronics recycling drop-off between 9 and 2.

        April 22, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (19)

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        April  18

        Gray Russell, Energized

        Chevening_r3_c1Gray Russell, Montclair’s Earth Day Ambassador Environmental Coordinator is just back from a three month Energy Efficiency fellowship in the U.K., and is he ever energized. Tonight, Gray  shares his smarts at a Renewable Energy Forum sponsored by Essex County Greens, who have this to say:

        Clean, renewable energy is the energy source of the future. The burning of fossil fuels is dangerously heating the earth. Oil and natural gas are getting more expensive to produce and are getting harder to extract. And wind, solar power and ethanol are catching on more and more. As gas prices rise, wind and solar are economically competitive, a way to save money while saving our environment.

        Gray joins featured speakers Michel Cuillerier, N.J. Sierra Club Conservation Committee, and Suzanne Leta, NJPIRG Energy Associate to discuss why renewable energy is needed, the new technologies, and what makes sense for you. Special guest entertainer is Catherine Moon, a musician/songwriter.  Tonight, 7-9 p.m, Bloomfield Civic Center, 84 Broad St. Free. For future Essex County Greens events, 973-338-5393, or indpol@igc.org. 

        April 18, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (35)

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        April   7

        Reaching Out To Rwanda
        Butare_market_12_july_2005_1

        Who says people in Baristaville only care about latte and their granite countertops? Actually, there's a movement here mobilizing to help people in Africa. You may have already heard about Gift For Life – an organization started by Montclair resident Stephanie Urdang to assist Rwandan women raped during the 1994 genocide, who as a result, now live with AIDS.

        Montclair_campaign_1 Didacienne_2

        Although Rwanda’s Ministry of Health provides anti-viral drugs to treat HIV for free, when Stephanie traveled to Rwanda last year on a UN grant, she met women – and their daughters – so destitute and malnourished that the anti-viral drugs were basically useless: “Desperately poor women with no access to medications, terrified of dying…and others not able to eat enough food for their medicine to be effective.  Any food that they had was put in the mouths of their children first.”

        Stephanie’s outreach hit a nerve in the community, and on the 12th anniversary of the genocide, others have initiated their own fundraising for Gift For Life:  Jessica Rasp is planning a Manhattan Tip to Tip Walk for Rwanda this Sunday, April 9.  She expects nearly 100 walkers for the 260 block trek. Each participant is asked to raise $108 for the Gift For Life project. For information, contact Jessica at jcuba5@aol.com, or 973-893-0011.

        A group of seventh grade girls at Glenfield School calling themselves “Girls for Life: Rwanda” came together to see how they could raise money for girls and their moms in Kigali.  This Saturday April 8, they are holding a bake sale, 10a.m. - 2 p.m. in front of Baby Boom, Valley Road, Montclair. Any other girls interested in helping with future fundraisers, contact Eileen Sweeney, 973-744-8857.

        Photos courtesy of Stephanie Urdang.  Top photo, Butare Market. Left photo: GFL volunteers left to right: Claire Ciliotta, Cherie Avinger, Stephanie Urdang. Right photo: GFL assisted woman, with researcher.

        April 7, 2006 in Civic Virtue | Permalink | Comments (9)

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