Heavy snow, school referenda marked end of 2003

This is the fourth in a series of four articles recapping some of the events of 2003 as reported in the Register-News.

By: Vanessa S. Holt
The following dates reflect the issue in which the story was published.

Oct. 2

   NJ Transit officials announced that trains running along the coming Southern New Jersey Light Rail Line will not exceed 45 mph while crossing streets in some residential areas, including the Delaware Avenue crossing in Florence.
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   The Environmental Protection Agency announced Nov. 30 that it will provide $4.9 million in diverted funds to restart cleanup work at the former Roebling Steel Mill plant.
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   Northern Burlington High School student botanists were featured on NJN television program "Classroom Close-up, NJ."
Oct. 9

   With two months before voters decide the fate of a $17.5 million school expansion plan, the Chesterfield Township School District launched a public information campaign aimed at getting the word out to residents.
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   The week before its special election, the Florence Township Fire District fended off an anonymous campaign aimed at swaying voters from approving a $4.2 million bond plan to purchase land for a new, centralized station building.
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   The state Department of Education named three local schools among those that have fallen short of federal standardized test expectations — a move that left some local educators feeling as if the federal education reforms have missed the mark.
Oct. 16

   Efforts to consolidate the Florence Township Fire Department took a major step forward when voters approved $4.2 million for the department to buy a new plot of land and build a new station.
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   The attorney representing Columbus Farmers Market said that he is considering filing a countersuit against the Recording Industry of America (RIAA), which is suing the market over pirated music and videos it claims are sold there by vendors.
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   Almost two years to the day after a Fort Dix soldier went on a shooting rampage, injuring two soldiers and two officers from local police departments, a handful of officers from those departments have filed a civil lawsuit against the federal government.
Oct. 23

   Approximately 150 people gathered to join school officials in the dedication of the new Mansfield Elementary School on Mansfield Road.
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   Registered nurse Randy Scragg of Mansfield assisted victims of the Staten Island Ferry accident that took place Oct. 15.
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   The Bordentown City Veterans Memorial Committee planned to hold its fourth annual Patriotic Ball at the Olde York Country Club to raise some of the remaining money it will need to build a new monument at Farnsworth and Railroad avenues.
Oct. 30

   Close to 100 teachers gathered in front of the Northern Burlington County Regional School District campus to demonstrate their need for a contract settlement.
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   Officials have announced two plans that they say will prevent residential development and attract commercial ratables, but two Mansfield Township committeemen questioned the timing of the announcements so close to the election.
Nov. 6

   Incumbents in several local townships were unseated in the Nov. 4 election, changing the majorities on local governing boards in Mansfield and North Hanover, where Republicans took control of the committees.
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   The campaign for Florence Township mayor ended with voters electing to retain Democrat Michael Muchowski for four more years.
Nov. 13

   After more than a year of delay, NJ Transit officials announced that the system formerly known as the Southern New Jersey Light Rail will begin daily service on Feb. 15, 2004.
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   Florence Township High School students produce a video documentary to convince township voters of the need for a new school building.
Nov. 20

   New Hanover Mayor Patrick G. Malloy pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of tampering with a grand jury witness during an investigation of a bid-rigging scheme involving a school board contract.
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   Officials in the Bordentown Regional School District will make another attempt to gather bids for construction of proposed new high school.
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   Florence Tollgate Condo Association filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Nov. 27

   The state Department of Education named two local elementary schools among those that have fallen short of federal standardized test expectations, the latest move in the department’s series of early warnings to statewide districts.
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   The Bordentown Township Committee removed its township administrator of six years, John Mason, and named his replacement, Leonard Klepner.
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   Northern Burlington teachers and secretaries received support from their students in the union’s contract dispute with the school board.
Dec. 4

   Still trying to make headway with district officials, teachers in the Northern Burlington County Regional School District have taken to picketing outside the schools before classes start each morning.
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   Voters in Chesterfield and Florence townships prepare to vote Dec. 9 on whether to build new schools and repair existing ones. Each township will hold a referendum that day asking voters to approve multi-million-dollar projects that school officials say are desperately needed.
Dec. 11

   Voting on two local school bond referendum plans ended with opposite results Dec. 9 when Florence voters said yes to a new high school and Chesterfield voters said no to a new elementary school.
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   The first major snowfall of the season dumped nearly a foot of snow on northern Burlington County, giving commuters headaches, snowplow drivers overtime and children a head start on their weekend when some local schools closed early Dec. 5.
Dec. 18

   Bordentown Regional Board of Education officials consulted last week with the architects who will build the district’s new high school to see what could be done to try to save money on the project.
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   A controversial amendment to Mansfield Township’s cluster ordinance was narrowly approved by the Township Committee, after months of objections from some landowners who fear the change will diminish the value of their properties.
Dec. 25

   About 150 high school students showed they have had enough of the stalemate in contract talks between their teachers and school administrators by holding a protest at Northern Burlington County Regional High School.
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   To keep pace with rising real estate values, Chesterfield Township is considering its first revaluation project in 12 years.