Setting goals for new year

Local organizations set goals for 2004.

By: Rebecca Tokarz, Al Wicklund and joseph Harvie
   Leaders of several borough organizations are getting ready for what promises to be a busy 2004.
   Improving the curriculum of Jamesburg schools, working on property tax relief and making it easier for senior citizens to find housing in the borough are just a few of this year’s goals. The Cranbury Press approached local organizations with the question "What are your goals for the coming year?"
   The answers follow:
   Board of Education
Shirley Bzdewka
   The district is looking to continue its plan to improve student performance in all subject areas this year, according to Superintendent Shirley Bzdewka.
   She said the district is in the process of training its staff on a new math curriculum for grades three and four. The curriculum training will then be expanded to include all grade levels, she said.
   Additional focus will be placed on how students write responses to open-ended prompts and provide support for their answers in the content area for which they are discussing, Ms. Bzdewka said.
   "We want to force them to think about why they are responding they way they are to questions," Ms. Bzdewka said. "Be more reflective thinkers and teach them to be thinkers in the real world and have their decisions based on careful thought."
— Rebecca Tokarz

Borough Council

Mayor Tony LaMantia

   Mayor Tony LaMantia said Wednesday his No. 1 goal for 2004 is as much tax relief as possible for Jamesburg taxpayers.

   "I’ve been meeting with our state legislators to find ways to ease the pressure on the taxpayers," the mayor said.

   Mayor LaMantia said he knows the state has budgetary problems of its own, but it has a much larger tax base than an individual town, particularly a small town such as Jamesburg.

   "We’ll be preparing a tight budget for 2004," the mayor said. "Our concerns will be maintaining the services we now provide."

   He said the borough faces the same problems as a family does because the cost of just about everything is going up.

   The mayor said he has been talking to legislators about state grants to provide short-term financial relief, as well as genuine tax reform and changes in state aid formulas to help over the long-term.


   In the meantime, the mayor said the goal is to meet the borough’s daily needs with a budget designed for maintenance.

   "We’ll be seeking funding to continue our program of sidewalk installation and roadway maintenance," he said.


— Al Wicklund



Bernie Long

   Bernie Long, Jamesburg’s director of zoning, housing and community development, said, in the coming year, he hopes to encourage landlords to convert some of their apartments to rentals that will provide seniors with affordable housing.

   Mr. Long said he isn’t advocating evicting younger families to make way for senior housing.

   "It could be done by attrition. As units are vacated, they could become available for senior housing," he said.

   Mr. Long said affordable housing for seniors is a leading need in the community. He said Barkley Village’s senior citizen units have a two-year waiting list.

   Mr. Long said another goal will be to keep his Department of Zoning, Housing and Development self-sustaining. He said the fees collected by his department and a $15,000 Middlesex County grant cover all his department’s operating costs.

   He said he holds a state license as a multiple-dwelling inspector and the fees for his inspections go into the operation of the department.

— Al Wicklund

Jamesburg Library

Cynthia Yasher

   Library Director Cynthia Yasher already has one major event scheduled for 2004 for book lovers.

   On March 13, author Mary Jane Clark will be at the library between 1 and 3 p.m. Ms. Clark has written "Do You Want to Know a Secret," "Do You Promise Not to Tell," "Let Me Whisper in Your Ear" and the New York Times and USA Today best seller "Nobody Knows." Her latest book, released in July 2003, is "Nowhere to Run." She is a CBS news writer and producer as well as the former daughter-in-law of award-winning author Mary Higgins Clark.

— Joseph Harvie

Chamber of Commerce

Amy Practico

   The Jamesburg Chamber of Commerce has plans to make shopping easier in downtown Jamesburg.

   "Our major goals are to increase our membership so we can fulfill our other goals of philanthropy," said Amy Practico, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce and owner of Sweet William and Thyme florist.

   The chamber will be holding a Mardi Gras is March, with the proceeds being used towards a scholarship for a Jamesburg student in high school student. The chamber also plans on working with the Jamesburg Civic Society, the Jamesburg Historical Society and the borough government this year to help with improvements to the downtown area.

   The Chamber of Commerce also is looking ahead to next Christmas.

   "We are trying to attract more shoppers to downtown area, but the shops are spread out," Ms. Practico said.

   They are also trying to help beautify the town with landscaping and decorating the Railroad Avenue area Ms. Practico said.

— Joseph Harvie