Baby Boxes In New Jersey

New Jersey is leading the way in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). They are sending new baby home with a sturdy cardboard box fitted with a mattress. These boxes are to be used for the first months for baby’s sleeping. They promote healthy sleeping and should reduce sleep complications. Baby Boxes can be used instead of a basinet for new baby. They are given to mothers who register online and who join the program. Babies will go home with some additional gifts inside, like onesies and baby wipes.


These baby boxes originated in Finland, decades ago, as part of a government program to reduce SIDS and now they have the lowest baby mortality rate. Originally offered to low income families, now they are available to every newborn. About 80% of unexpected infant deaths have been attributed to SIDS and some of those deaths have attributed to babies sleeping environment. For the first few months of their lives babies are at a greater risk especially those whose families cannot afford a basinet. These boxes were designed to provide a safe environment for these little ones.


Jernica Quinones was the first mother in New Jersey to receive the free Baby Box. Dr. Kathie McCans, a pediatric emergency physician at Cooper University Hospital said, “It’s really not about the box: it’s about the education… Honestly, people like free things and the box is the incentive for the education.” According to Dr. McCans, in New Jersey in 2014, 57 of the state’s 61 cases of sudden and unexpected infant deaths involved unsafe sleeping circumstances.


Those stories that previous generations told of babies sleeping in a dresser drawer or an old packaging crate make sense now. For centuries parents everywhere made do with what they had available. Many families co-slept, put babies in hand made box basinets and cradles. Since babies only use a basinet for a short period of time before moving into a crib, baby boxes are cost effective as well. Though New Jersey was the first state to offer these baby boxes, they are now available in Ohio and Alabama. These three states combined plan on giving away 350,000 boxes.


New Jersey Govenor Goes on the Attack

Those who follow New Jersey news closely know that the relationship between Governor Chris Christie and the newspapers has been strained recently. In addition to the constant attacks on him for BridgeGate, he has been the fodder of laughs concerning his relationship with president-elect Trump. This week Governor Christie has done what can only be surmised as an act of revenge on the newspapers, fast tracking a bill to lessen their revenue and give it to the municipalities instead.


Turning the Tables on the Newspapers

This has not been a particularly good year for the Governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie recently saw his approval rating in the state drop to an all-time low, thanks in part to the never-ending barrage of bad publicity he receives in the press. Chris Christie, not one to take things lying down, decided to buck tradition and put a bill on the table that will allow municipalities to post legal notices on their websites rather than having to follow the law and place them in the newspapers where the public can read them. If passed, the loss in revenue to the newspapers in the state would be crippling because almost ten percent of their revenues come from those legal notices placed on a daily basis.


Making a Bold Move for Change

With so many pressing issues affecting the state of New Jersey, one would argue that the Governor should be focusing his efforts on things that would improve the lives of the residents. Instead, many are calling his actions to push through this bill as nothing more than an act of vengeance against the newspapers he feels have cat him in the worst possible light this year. If passed, the newspaper industry in the state could be on life support as staff will need to be trimmed in order to stay in business with the reduced revenues.


With up to 300 journalists losing their jobs if the bill is passed, the New Jersey Star-Ledger says that this is nothing more than a true threat to free press. Those in the press feel Christie is determined to rid the state of hundreds of watchdogs that were keeping close eyes on his actions, and now giving the worst politicians a new way to fight those they oppose.


New Jersey Court Rejects Case Based on Discrimination

Everywhere you look these days it seems another case about discrimination finds its way to the highest courts and get global recognition. This was the case this week when a New Jersey appeals court decided to dismiss a lawsuit brought on by a woman who says she was fired by the Catholic school she worked because she married a woman. The combination of gay rights and the church made this case front page news across all of central New Jersey.


Fighting the Church

In recent years the church has been taking a beating in the press and in the court systems, and this appeared on the surface to be a slam dunk for the defendant who says she was fired solely based on the grounds that she was married to a woman and not a man. The Catholic school did not take this lying down, and fought hard to prove they were not terminating her contract based on those reasons alone. Once the Archdiocese of Newark got involved, they presented their case in a way that challenged the lower court ruling to would allow the case to proceed for determining whether or not state laws or church tenets would apply in this case. It appears that they go the benefit of the doubt as the case was later tossed this week.


The Details in the Story

When Kate Drumgoole was fired from Paramus Catholic High School, she went on the offense by bringing her claims to court to show that the school in fact violated discrimination laws set forth by the state. She worked as dean of guidance and was a respected coach of the high school basketball team. Drumgoole says her record speaks for itself, and that once the school became aware she was married to a woman, she was promptly terminated from her position with the school.


When the school was asked for comment, a representative of Paramus Catholic High School said that they did not base the decision solely on the fact that she was married to another woman, they were simply upholding a state law that says same-sex marriages in New Jersey are subject to the tenets of the church, for which they have the right to fully enforce.


New Jersey Port Authority Concrete Testing Facility

When it comes to the roads and bridges New Jersey drivers travel, things may be getting a little safer without anyone realizing. Behind the scenes at the New Jersey Port Authority’s Materials Engineering Unit, the team is hard at work testing concrete for safety concerns. Procedures that were in place only a decade ago have been improved upon, and that means the laborious task falls on the Port Authority to take samples and ensure everything is up to code.


Collecting a Variety of Samples

The New Jersey Port Authority’s Materials Engineering Unit has already begun the process of collecting concrete core samples from bridges, highways, airports, and buildings, to test for strength issues in the material. These core samples are now processed through a variety of tests that involve crushing the concrete, freezing it, heating it, and submerging it in water. The tests are designed to see how long before cracks or the concrete is compromised. These tests allow workers to head out to areas of concerns and make changes before disaster happens.


Protecting New Jersey Residents in the Future

One of the reasons this testing facility is getting so much attention lately is because they are making efforts to produce new concretes that are designed to last longer than materials currently being utilized. The new concrete blends are so durable that they were used to help construct the new World Trade Center building. The new concrete is allow the state to up standards across the board in projects around the state that impact residents. Bridges and roadways that are in need of repair are being tapped for use with the new concrete for a number of reasons. Not only will the new stronger concrete make the roads safer for drivers in New Jersey, it will extend the life of these areas so that they do not need as frequent upgrades as in the past.


By taking a proactive approach to bridge, building, and roadway construction, New Jersey hopes to set a precedent that other states soon follow. When the concrete is stronger, building costs are reduced, worker hours cut, and drivers enjoy a safer riding experience without constant inconveniences due to construction or repairs across the majority if the state.


New Jersey to Catch Up on Pension Payments

In recent years, New Jersey has been getting some unwanted attention due to their failing pension payment system. The state has been misappropriating funds for years, which has lead to a growing deficit and a huge concern for those who have paid into the system for years and are now approaching retirement. Governor Chris Christie has made it priority one in recent years to make an annual pension payment to begin correcting the growing deficit. It appears the New Jersey governor has a new pension plan to allow the state to catch up even faster.


Bucking the Tradition in New Jersey

One of the reasons that the pension system in New Jersey is in such terrible shape these days is because both Republican and Democratic administrations in recent years were making underpayments. Each year a payment was short of the required amount, the debt escalated. Years and years of failing short of the bar left the state in a financial hole that many believed could not be corrected. Governor Christie has taken the bull by the horns and signed legislation that will require the state of New Jersey to now make quarterly pension payments. Supporters of the bill say that by making the payments every three months will increases returns year after year.


Restoring a Damaged Image

Governor Chris Christie has been under fire in recent months for a variety of things. Christie has been pushing for gambling in the northern sections of the state but has gotten zero resident support. Christie has been embroiled in the BridgeGate scandal, costing taxpayers million this year. He has even fast tracked a bill allowing him to make money in office writing a new book. The new legislation is a step in the right direction for the governor to make amends with many of the state workers who depend on that money. The debt-laden pension system will get a huge shot in the arm each year with these payments that could result in returns up to $200 million due to the payments coming in four times a year as opposed to once at the end of the year.


The $70 billion pension fund is responsible for supporting over 800,000 retirees and workers, and thanks to the governor it is headed in a positive direction.


Fantasy Flight from New Jersey to North Pole for Sick Children

At Newark International Airport in New Jersey children who are currently patients at University Hospital, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and Trinitas Hospital were given the surprise of a lifetime. These sick children got to see Santa, in fact, they flew on a real commercial flight out of Newark that took these children directly to the North Pole. Children and their parents were all on board the flight to the North Pole to help give these children something to be happy about this holiday season.


The Real North Pole

When the children were told they needed to bundle up because they were going to be a part of a special flight that would bring them directly to the doorstep of Santa Clause, they were all on best behavior that day. The children were all seat belted in their chairs as flight attendants sang Christmas songs and got the kids all excited about the journey. Once the plane was in the air, the pilot spoke directly to the children and told them how long before the plane touched down at the North Pole. This fantasy trip was especially quick, and the kids arrived at the North Pole where Santa was already waiting at the gate.


The Kids Excitement

While the kids were all excited about the idea of flying in a real plane and going to the North Pole, the hospitals and United Airlines had arranged for the plane to only be in the air briefly for the trip. The plane simply returned back to Newark a few minutes later, but the kids had no idea where they were. The gate was decorated to look like the North Pole, and Santa and friends greeted all the sick children. Some of the children, like Sabur Clark, is battling cancer of the muscles and will be undergoing chemotherapy. This trip to the North Pole put the treatment out of his mind for a short while..


The children got to tell Santa what they wanted this year for Christmas, and with a little holiday magic these kids should be getting exactly what they wished for this year. This is the 23rd year that the United Airlines Fantasy Flights has taken place for sick children in hospitals.


New Jersey Ranks Dead Last in Campaign Against Smoking

What appears to have become a pattern, the state of New Jersey for the 5th straight year will spend exactly zero dollars in the effort to stop smoking. This means there is zero money spent on making commercials to stop kids from smoking, or zero dollars spent on programs designed to help smokers kick their habit.


Ranking Last is a Bad Thing

Make no mistake about it, in this particular effort, last is not a good thing. According to the Tobacco Free Kids Campaign, New Jersey ranks dead last in efforts to help curb or stop smoking in the state. That means no commercials aimed at teenagers showing the deadly effects of smoking, no aggressive promotion of programs to help smokers finally kick the habit, no effort at all to reduce the number of people dying in the state each year from lung disease associated with smoking.


The Big Contradiction

One of the reasons the state of new jersey is getting so much attention on their lack of efforts to help curb smoking, they still have their hand out accepting $944.5 million in revenues and taxes from the big tobacco companies. It appears the state knows a good thing when it sees it, and curbing the smokers would only kill the gravy train of cash being pumped somewhere into the system. Until the money is audited and every dollar accounted for, this appears to have no end in sight.


According to New Jersey state health department officials, the state does have smoking prevention programs, but they are currently being funded by the federal government. So where is all that $944 million dollars being spent, no one appears to have a clear answer. Those looking for answers argue that the state of New Jersey all all its public officials are both putting people’s lives at risk while at the same time putting the burden on the taxpayer by refusing to adequately fund cigarette prevention programs which are designed to save health care dollars.


New Jersey spent millions upon millions of dollars recently in the BridgeGate trial, which appeared to be nothing more than a waste of time for taxpayers and only the lawyers seemed to be the ones who benefited. Until New Jersey takes a more proactive approach with smoking campaigns, it will continue to funnel in revenues at an alarming rate.


New Jersey Parking App all the Rage

If you have ever tried to find a parking spot at the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, New Jersey, you know it can be a battle of wills. The mall has over 10,000 parking spaces for shoppers, and during the holiday you could spend hours trying to find just one. This week the mall has unveiled a new My Park parking app that is going to make shopping and parking that much easier for residents.


Why the Need for a Parking App?

With many shoppers this month double-parking, parking on the grass, or blocking in other shoppers, the mall has released the new parking app to try and lessen the congestion at the mall. Although the mall currently has valet parking available, some shoppers love the convenience of being able to control things themselves and not have to wait for their car to be retrieved by staff. The new parking spaces that work with the app are located on the second level of the parking garage, and it will cost only $10 to be able to park there for up to four hours. The parking spaces allow shoppers easy access to the mall entrance without having to waste time looking for a spot and then the long walk to the entrance of the mall.


How the New Parking App Works

The MyPark parking app at the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall works very easily. You access the app, you choose your parking space, you pay, and then when your car approaches the designated spot, the gate lowers, allowing the driver to easily take that spot. Once the shopper has left the spot, the gate will return to the upright position as it waits for the next guest to arrive. Currently there are only 33 spaces available for use with the app, so during this preliminary testing phase more can be assigned if needed.


Shoppers can reserve a spot six months in advance or pull up to the spot and pay on the fly. The yellow barriers in each spot keep other drivers from accessing the space and are designed to make shopping easier for some while freeing up some parking through out the rest of the mall parking areas.


New Jersey Lawmakers Give Governor Christie Book Deal Greenlight

Just when you thought that the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, couldn’t frustrate citizens of the state any more, he goes ahead and does something that completely takes things to a new level. The governor is trying to give a bill the fast-track right before the holidays while people are focused on taking off from work and spending time with family and friends. The bill would allow the governor to receive compensation for a book he has written while in office.


The Growing Frustrations in New Jersey

When the governor announced he was pushing a bill through the Senate and Democrat-led New Jersey Assembly, no one could have imagined it would get a 8-0 approval to advance. The law states that the governor can not cash in on a book deal while in office, but that was before this governor decided to change the rules of the game. New Jersey residents are already tired of the games and the lies from this governor, who has not only raised property taxes for residents to some of the highest in the country, but just piled a new gas tax on residents that would make it even more challenging to live in this state. The governor has an agenda and does not appear concerned anymore his approval rating has plummeted to an all-time low.


The Devil in the Details

To understand why so many residents are beyond frustrated, the rules clearly state someone in public office can’t benefit financially from a book deal, and the governor specifically can not draw more than his $175,000 salary. Governor Chris Christie decided to sweeten the pot for his fellow public servants by adding into the bill that judges and other legislative staff will get raises too. These raises are only going to burden the tax load on an already stretched thin taxpayer, and critics to the bill feel this is nothing more that providing another helping hand to political elites.


The bill will basically end the requirement the governor draws only $175,000 in salary, while also raising to $140,000 appropriations for 120 lawmakers to pay staff. The governor is determined by recent actions to do things his way, evident in his continued frustrations with residents who will not approve gambling outside of Atlantic City.


Thousands Of Visitors Start Their Annual Visit To The Central New Jersey Farm

Every Fall, thousands of families from New Jersey and the tri-state area of Metropolitan New York flock to the annual ritual of fruit picking in Central New Jersey. As waves of visitors continue to visit various farms in New Jersey, the Evergreen Farm in Hamilton Township remains the focus of attraction for nearly every Asian-American of Korean and Chinese origins. Busloads of guests and groups visit Evergreen farm to pluck the giant yellow-colored Korean Pear. According to visitors who come to Evergreen just to taste the pear, it is one of the juiciest produce in America. Perhaps, there is nothing like it anywhere in the United States.


According to the farm owner, Chong Il Kim, he moved to New York City doing menial jobs until he decided that he also wanted to grow his native Korean pear in the United States. Accordingly, he bought a 10-acre tract of land to grow pears, but the harvest continued to fail. The first failure did not dampen his spirits because he knew that he would be able to cultivate Korean pears under perfect conditions. Luckily, his research proved accurate as he started cultivating Korean pears in Hamilton Township, where the soil is perfect for growing these large juicy peers. He also claims that it may be impossible to grow these pears anywhere in the vicinity because these native Korean variety demands specific environment. In the Supermarket, pears from the Evergreen farms sell for $6 a pound; however, visitors can eat as many as they like and buy it at a half price to the supermarket.


Besides the pear, Evergreen farm also grows a variety of other produce including Korean grapes, chestnuts, dates and Fuji apples. In fact, the farm is also popular for its purple-colored Korean grapes, which are just as juicy as the pear. Heather Menzel, a visitor at the farm suggested that these are some of the best grapes in the world. She uses it to make delicious grape fruits for her family and her guests. As suggested, Menzel is not alone in appreciating the fresh produce of the farm. To acknowledge visitors, the Latino workforce prepare Mexican style barbecued chicken for picnicking customers, on Sunday. For ethnic food fans, there is nothing better than visiting the farm on Sunday and enjoy both the barbecue and fresh fruits.