The column that says they’re having a chicken barbecue at West Park United Methodist Church on Shiloh Pike Saturday and you don’t have to be Methodist, Mike Abbott, to partake, and if they never close the second floor window above Passion Isabel on Laurel Street next to Thompson Plaza, how do they keep wildlife out, and why don’t Michael Mickey and Lernell Williams buy one of the churches for sale to help take the burden off Bishop David Hadley — three thoughts in ack-ack fashion in a world too busy to read past the headline and first paragraph.
By Jack Hummel
Radio: 92.1 FM WVLT Saturdays noon to 2 p.m.
U.S. Army: RA13815980
Google all columns at jackhummelblog
We love the name Mary Elmer City Park in western Cumberland County as a new name for Bridgeton City Park since no tourists want to be associated with a name that is always in the crime headlines because the police department emails the daily stats to three newspapers — and the state police don’t.
And the 1,100-acre park is our best foot forward, even if it is a crawl.
Best Novick commercial by far is the one on 97.3 FM radio with ageless father Bob the headliner. We’d love to get one like that for United Advocacy Group.
Carver scholarships will enable 50 BHS students to earn a two-year college degree by the time they graduate high school.
More signed up, but 50 was the limit, so they had to do a lottery. The blueprint calls for the 50 to continue on to a four-year degree.
The good part is, everybody but medical and engineering students takes the same classes the first two years of college, anyway.
If you’ve never been to college orientation, you may not know that they tell you in the auditorium, look on both sides of you, two of you won’t be here in four years.
Is the college graduation rate in Bridgeton really 3 percent?
Why do so many high school students get the afternoon off? Aren’t there college classes they could be taking? We understand some need to work, but isn’t that being short-sighted considering the college bills ahead, but, obviously, they’re not thinking that far ahead to break the back of poverty.
Do we need more night jobs for youngsters? Or at least post-4 p.m., even with fast-food establishments everywhere?
Anybody hear how Pathstone is doing at the corner of Laurel and Commerce? They got that huge, seven-figure grant so we want to hear great things.
A little history
Feb. 10, 2015
Minnett Santiago doesn’t know anybody in town.
She sits in her sparsely furnished office at the intersection of Commerce and Laurel streets shaking her head when names like Karen Barnett, Sherman Denby and Dr. Thomasina Jones are dropped.
But that will change.
The deputy of field operations for the Pathstone Corporation has arrived in town at Thompson Plaza with a strongbox full of $1 million.
It may not be the biggest grant ever to hit Bridgeton, but it’s not far down the list.
The grant is from the U.S. Department of Labor for 36 months, depending on how successful Minnett is in giving the money away, for training and employment services, something Pathstone has been doing for 30 years.
Minnett Santiago needs 125 at-risk youths aged 14 to 24 in Bridgeton who need help getting a career under way.
* job readiness training.
* career and employment training.
* GED instruction and test payment.
* hands-on work experience.
* expungement education and assistance.
* service learning project.
* individualized employment plans.
* occupational skills training.
* job placement and follow ups
There is one catch. You have to have a juvenile record. Not a felony, but a blemish.
You can be in school, have quit school, but you must live in Bridgeton.
All of Bridgeton qualifies, as well as certain poor parts of Vineland and Millville. That means the Department of Labor considers Bridgeton youth in more trouble than the other two cities.
“It’s based on poverty in an area and the number of youth eligible,” said Minnett, a Vineland native who has seen it all in 14 years.
“We are expected to provide certification for at least 75 youth,” she said, out of the 125.
“If we see one drop out, we may take on somebody else in their place.
“We will do an assessment and see what they want to be when they grow up and where they are today,” she said.
The goal for January was nine signed up.
They got seven.
The goal for February is nine, plus the two they didn’t get in January.
“We’re going into every community organization to spread the word,” said Minnett. “We have distributed over 500 brochures.”
The pamphlet has a $100 bill on the front.
One goal is to keep the kids 17 and under in school, and get them summer jobs.
Pathstone has the tentacles to get the people who are in training jobs.
Added regional administrator Chris Hopkins, seven years into his career, “We’ll show them how to write resumes, how to write a cover letter, have a mentoring program and go out into the community and find a project to complete.”
It could be picking up trash or painting over graffiti on wall, said Hopkins.
“We’ll let them pick out the project as a leadership role,” said Hopkins, “and that will make them more invested in it.”
Minnett is thinking outside the box.
“If we get five people who want to be electricians and they don’t have a class for that locally, maybe they will develop one at the college or vo-tech,” she explained.
“It depends on what the kids want. We’re going to guide them. We’re going to pay your tuition.”
Becoming a certified nurse’s aide takes only eight weeks.
“We’ll do job readiness training, which is a 40-hour curriculum,” said Minnett. “We’re going to do the research together and find out what you need to get there.”
Again, they have to have a juvenile record, but no adult convictions.
“Even though they may not finish the program, they will come back,” promised Minnett. “They call me mom.”
The Department of Labor wants a report every month.
As the regional director, Hopkins knows it falls on his shoulders.
“I’m up to the challenge,” he promised.
His ace in the hole is Adrian McGriff, adult education instructor and former Bridgeton High star athlete, who knows everybody in Bridgeton, including high school students and facilitators because he’s pounded the pavement here for Pathstone.
The office is on the first floor of Thompson Plaza, paid for out of the grant.
“Yes, we eat downtown,” said Hopkins, here since Jan. 1. “Got to have a Big John’s pizza once in a while.”
“The Bridgetowne,” added Minnett.
Mayor Albert Kelly is excited about kids being able to get summer jobs feeding people.
“Adrian emailed me about the grant,” he smiled, showing no surprise. “It is great news. I’m very excited. It’s one more reason to talk about the great city of Bridgeton.”
Neighborhood crime got us here.
Pathstone, armed with $1 million, is going to get us out.
It’s the only business left at the town center. The bank is closed. The Feinstein building is closed. The burned-down pizza place is a pocket park.
Can we get an update?
Carol Musso, Century Bank official, how would a group go about obtaining funding for a Community Development Group to tackle the emptiness in downtown Bridgeton, and what would the interest rate be?
You won’t hear talk like this at a city council meeting, and nobody is more involved in the community than Century Savings Bank.
Why does the window on the second floor of Kim’s Discount on Laurel Street need plywood? We assume Kim’s Discount is renting it. Why would the landlord not be made to fix that huge window?
Huge former mansion two buildings north of our hero — Bob Thompson — a shambles and unfit even for a ghetto. Mind you, the city may already be acting to correct some of these situations, but we’d like to hear them say that.
Martin Corp believes it should be in the old Bridgeton port.
Now they’re suing the city.
On April 10, 2017, the Bridgeton Board of Education (Cumberland County) agreed to pay $197,500 to a former teacher who said that her contract was not renewed after she complained that school officials would not help protect her from repeated physical assaults by students.
In her lawsuit, Michelle Andrews claimed that after she was assaulted by a student in January 2015, she filed a criminal complaint against the student and asked school officials “that the student who assaulted her be removed from her class so she would be protected from future violent acts.”
Andrews claimed that her supervisors refused her request and told her to “put on her big girl pants and deal with it.” She claimed that she was again struck in the face by a student on March 18, 2015, when she was trying to break up a fight and was “body checked” by a female student shortly thereafter. Andrews claimed that her supervisors did not write up or document the latter assault even though it was captured by a video camera.
After she formally complained to the Superintendent of Schools an offer to renew her contract was allegedly rescinded. Andrews claimed that the non-renewal was done to retaliate against her for having complained.
— John Paff
“How about a food truck on the CCC campus?”
— Linda Eisenberg Smith
Dog census officials going door-to-door in Vineland. Good move. Bridgeton did it a few years ago in conjunction with the SPCA.
Carolscatz and Team Fortescue is doing a TNVR and rescue of a colony of abandoned cats and kittens.
Money is badly needed to spay/neuter and get vet care. If you can, please take a minute and make a tax deductible donation via PayPal to carolscatz@Comcast.net.
This will go directly on a MasterCard that is used solely for cat care. Please notate: For the fortescue cats!
We also need cat/kitten food, pee pads for the cages small stainless steel food water bowl.
— Carol Hickman
Most dedicated, one-woman cat saver in South Jersey.
Is United Advocacy Group’s Melissa Kappeler putting up 200 signs in Bridgeton? A lot more suddenly appearing! Long overdue. Guides to the city diamonds.
Swimmer here and there in banned Sunset Lake.
“I don’t care who your are, the energy you have, and what you represent, if you’re the only person in the circle or environment that shares the same vibes as you, you will be eventually deemed as the negative one.
“I’ve been in situations where I was the only positive mind in the room, and all of the negative thoughts deemed me as negative because I wasn’t down with their negative plans!
“Long Story Short … If you’re in a negative environment trying to do something positive, you have to be prepared for the backlash. It’s unfortunate, but you have to keep pushing and/or surround yourself with a circle or environment that embraces your energy or you will drive yourself crazy!”
— Bryan Real,
Takes A Village
Always check to see if the backlash is fighting to stay on top and not worrying about the community.
This is sad …
Reminder: Only current PAL members covered under THIS YEAR’S application are considered active PAL members.
Due to insurance policies, we conducted an audit and found a couple youth who were under the age of 8 on the courts and found several youth were playing this year without a current application signed for THIS YEAR.
Those eligible youths whose applications were expired were not permitted to play and were sent home with a new application for this year.
In order to sign up for PAL, we need BOTH the parent and the participant present at the time of signing up ALONG WITH the annual membership fee of $30. We do have some scholarships available if you cannot afford the membership fee.
Please ask for Director Gramp to see if you qualify. Today was day (2) two of the games so it’s still not to late to sign up!
— Bridgeton PAL
Never send them home! Have someone go with them to talk to the parents to see what the story is, unless you can call them.
In a city that is begging youth to participate, keep it positive. No child left behind because of poverty.
We guarantee Dean Public Works Director Dellaquila, as poor as he is, will sponsor a player.
There is no such thing as not eligible in today’s city. We can’t afford it.
As soon as the above appeared on Facebook, a woman responded wanting to sponsor. Call Chief Mike Gaimari. Like he once told us, “It’s only a withdrawal.” But that was about wishing on his Dallas Cowboys.
Call the Bridgeton Professional Firefighters.
And we’ll say this: In 48 years of newspaper work, the one thing we’ve learned about youth is they reach a crossroads at the eighth grade level.
It has been determined that it is the age they are most likely to join a gang, and the interviews we’ve done in neighborhoods bear it out.
May our programs remember that, and the shortage we have.
Vineland activist Anthony Sanchez wants NJ Transit’s route to go past the Guidance Center.
They don’t want to do it. He doesn’t care what they don’t want. He will be on our show next Saturday at noon on 92.1 FM.
YOU CAN BOOK IT: It might be open forum on 92.1 FM on Saturday, so we’ll put on our big boy pants and you call in at 856-696-0092, OK?