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East Orange General Takes Ice Bucket Challenge

rsz_1rsz_dsc_1123 On August 19, 2014, East Orange General Hospital President Kevin Slavin joined two other employees to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Greg Nkwodimmah, Director Cardiovascular & Diagnostic Imaging Services, and Guy Angelbeck, Manager of Cardiology Patient Transport Services took the Ice Bucket Challenge with Mr. Slavin to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, better known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

ALS causes muscle weakness and atrophy throughout the body due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons. People affected by the disorder lose their ability to initiate and control all voluntary movement. In addition to Lou Gehrig, other noted figures with the condition include physicist Stephen Hawking and People's Republic of China founder Mao Tse Tung.

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" was devised by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who has been living with ALS since 2012. A person who is challenged has the option of either making a $100 donation to the ALS Association or dumping a bucket of water with ice on themselves. The ALS Association has reported donations of over $15 million within the last month, compared to just under $2 million during this time period last year.

In August 2014, the challenge went viral, and many celebrities and public figures have taken part. Some of the participants include current Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who was challenged by former Mayor Cory Booker. Senator Booker himself was challenged along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by NJ Governor Chris Christie. Other participants include the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Dr. Dre, LeBron James, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Robert Downey Jr., Lady Gaga, and Bill Gates.

Employees gathered outside to see this unusual challenge. The EOGH employees nominated three other persons each, with most of them being hospital employees.

Community Activist Mary Weaver Passes

080714_Mary_Weaver_Passed_AwayOn Friday, August 1, the community lost one of its most committed, powerful, and bravest leaders.
Mary Weaver fought to get for her beloved son, Randy LaMont Weaver (1977-1999), who was shot by East Orange police officer. Randy Weaver was a passenger in a stolen vehicle and killed by a bullet.

Since then, Mary Weaver's main goal was to fight for justice for victims. She joined the People's Organization for Progress and became a very active and dedicated volunteer.

"They don't come any better, stronger or more committed than Mary Weaver," said a deeply moved Lawrence Hamm. "She was the embodiment of the best we have ever had."

Weaver, who was also the Second Vice Chair for the Oranges Maplewood Branch of the NAACP, came to the People's Organization for Progress tragically as a victim, as a consequence of losing her only son, Randy Weaver, to a police shooting in July 1999.

The manner of her son's death and her enlisting the support of P.O.P. led to a period of sustained protests that embarrassed the city of East Orange and highlighted a brutal year in terms of police brutality cases. 1999 was the year of the savage police killing of Amadou Diallo in New York City, Stanton Crews on Rt. 78 by state troopers, and the vicious beating and killing of Earl Faison by corrupt Orange police officers, whose case became an important civil rights case, among others.

Weaver, incredibly, not only became a P.O.P. member, she helped establish its East Orange chapter, serving as its chair. When the organization established its administrative posts, she became its Vice Chairperson of Internal Affairs. She held both posts at the time of her passing.

"Very few people could do what Mary did," said former Black Panther national official Baba Zayid Muhammad.

"She turned the unfathomable pain of the loss of her only child at the hands of the police into a power that made her a force to be reckoned with on this front all over the country," finished Muhammad, who also does press for P.O.P.

Ingrid Hill, the corresponding secretary for the organization, echoed those sentiments. "Mary was a phenomenal woman who used her tragedy, the loss of her son to the police, to become a real force for justice."

Weaver became an ambassador for the annual Stolen Lives Project, a project that has documented the scope of police killings all over the country. The Project would annually memorialize victims or their families in a moving ceremony.

"Mary Weaver was a true hero of the working class right among us," said Larry Adams, P.O.P.'s vice chair of external affairs.

Weaver was a veteran of the U.S. Army, a retired social worker and an avid bowler.

She was one of the nicest people in the neighborhood. Local Talk prays for her soul and sends condolences to her family and friends.

She is survived by her granddaughter, Paige Weaver, her comrades and friends from the People's Organization for Progress, the NAACP, Essex County Welfare, her bowling league and a whole lot more.

Former Top Official of East Orange Water Commission Pleads Guilty

William_Mowell Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that a former top official of the East Orange Water Commission (EOWC) pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate testing of the agency’s water supply to falsify results and report lower levels of a regulated contaminant in the drinking water supplied to customers.
William Mowell, 52, of Wyckoff, the former assistant executive director and engineer for the EOWC, pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree conspiracy before Superior Court Judge Carolyn Wright in Essex County.  Mowell was indicted on Feb. 12, 2013, along with Harry L. Mansmann, the former executive director of the EOWC.  Mansmann is now deceased.  Mowell pleaded guilty to a charge that he conspired to engage in a pattern of official misconduct, tamper with public records, and violate both the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act and the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act.  Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Mowell be sentenced to three years in state prison.  Judge Wright scheduled sentencing for Mowell for Nov. 7.
In pleading guilty, Howell admitted that he conspired with Mansmann to falsify mandatory testing of the EOWC’s water supply to hide elevated levels of the contaminant tetrachlorethene (PERC), an industrial solvent used for dry cleaning and other purposes which is classified as a probable carcinogen.
Deputy Attorney General Phillip Leahy prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.  The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, which began with a referral from the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Compliance & Enforcement Program.
“Mowell had a duty to ensure the quality and safety of the drinking water supplied to tens of thousands of residents, and instead he deliberately falsified test results to cover up elevated levels of a potential carcinogen,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman.  “He showed a complete disregard for the people he served and the harm that might have resulted from his conduct.”
“Mowell should have used his expertise to act as an environmental watchdog, protecting the water supply and alerting the DEP and the public of problems,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “However, he chose to use his knowledge and skills to cover up a significant contamination issue.  Prison is the right punishment for this type of environmental crime.”
“We have a high standard of accountability in this state when it comes to the safety and reliability of drinking water,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “It is imperative that water providers maintain and provide to us accurate records of water system operations. Any deviation from those standards is a violation of the public trust.”
The EOWC supplies drinking water to East Orange and also has a contract to supply drinking water to South Orange.  The water is pumped from well fields in eastern Morris and western Essex counties through a pumping station in Millburn to two reservoirs, from which water is distributed to customers.  The utility blends water from its various wells at its treatment plant before water is distributed to customers.  The EOWC had encountered problems with elevated levels of PERC in several wells.
In pleading guilty, Mowell admitted that he took water samples for testing after the contaminated wells had been turned off for several days.  He admitted that he knew that meant that the test results would not accurately reflect the water supply once those wells were turned back on for pumping to the reservoir.  In this manner, he falsified test results to comply with the DEP requirement that the running annual average level of PERC under normal operating conditions not exceed 1 microgram per liter (ug/L) or part per billion (results up to 1.49 ug/L are rounded down to 1).  The false sampling occurred in March and April 2011.
The state’s investigation also revealed that the defendants, in an effort to flush out PERC, directed that the well with the most contamination – which had been found to have PERC levels as high as 25 times the permitted level under the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act and nearly twice the level permitted for discharges in connection with remediation projects under the New Jersey Water Pollution Control Act – be pumped to a pipe that discharged directly onto the bank of the Passaic River in Florham Park from March 24 through April 20, 2011.  In pleading guilty, Mowell admitted that he and Mansmann had water from that well pumped to the bank of the river during that period.
Mowell further admitted that when the DEP required the EOWC to issue a public notice about non-compliant PERC levels in the system, he and Mansmann issued a notice in July 2011 falsely stating that the EOWC had reduced pumping from certain wells on an ongoing basis and, as a result, tests during the first half of 2011 revealed levels under the DEP limit. In fact, they only reduced pumping from contaminated wells temporarily for sampling, and PERC levels had exceeded the limit.
By making it appear that the water system was in compliance with regulations, Mowell and Mansmann sought to enable the EOWC to avoid the need to build an expensive “air stripper” water purification plant to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including PERC, from the system’s water supply.  The EOWC currently is proceeding with plans to build such a treatment plant.
The DEP has done independent testing of the East Orange water system, showing the water quality for residents of East Orange and South Orange to be safe. The DEP is continuing to closely monitor the water system to ensure that continued safety.
The investigation was conducted for the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Leahy, Sgt. Steven J. Ogulin and former Detectives Dawn Ryan, Matthew Schneiderman and Michael Klumpp.  The DEP provided assistance throughout the investigation. The East Orange Water Commission cooperated fully in the investigation.

Questions remain in horrific East Orange crash

Caption_-_A_makeshift_shrine_was_made_at_the_site_of_the_crashEAST ORANGE - Family and friends of the three men who were killed in a head-on July 9 crash here on South Grove Street have not let the lack of a funeral announcement as of 5 p.m. July 16 from grieving.

They, plus family and friends of the two women injured in the other vehicle, those on the NJTransit No. 90 bus who witnessed the collision, and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office are looking for answers since the accident happened just south of the Central Avenue intersection at about 8:50 p.m. July 9.

Neither the ECPO Accident Investigation Unit, which surveyed the scene overnight July 9-10, nor the medical examiner, have announced what caused the crash that killed East Orange 24-year-olds Tyrief Parker and Dean Scovil and Kebeer Bishop, 20 of Newark.

"We had a head-on accident involving a car and a small SUV," said Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly to WABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News at the scene July 9. "The three men in the car are dead; the two women in the SUV are injured."

County Prosecutors released Bishop, Parker and Scovil's identities by 5:30 p.m. July 10. The identities of the two Irvington women - besides their 74- and 54- year-old ages and that they were taken to a local hospital - were otherwise undisclosed.

Authorities also released videotapes of the accident from outside Crosstown Plumbing Supply at 190 So. Grove St. The tapes are from two cameras from two different angles. There is also a third tape, from aboard the No. 90 NABI bus, being examined.

The videotapes show a northbound Nissan Maxima having crossed Grove Street's double yellow line into the southbound lane. The Maxima hit the southbound Toyota 4-Runner head on and spinning onto the westside walkway.

The southbound No. 90 bus stopped just short of the wreck. Several riders reported minor injuries.

All three vehicles came to a rest across from a closed warehouse along the street's east side. The warehouse is the second building south of the Central Avenue intersection's southeastern corner - and a parking lot north of the plumbing supply house.

Witnesses told investigators and media outlets that the Maxima was trying to pass the bus. They also complained that the stretch on South Grove between Central Avenue and South Orange Avenue a quarter-mile south is notorious for speeding.

"Local Talk," when visiting the section 6:30 p.m. July 15 and 2 p.m. July 16, noticed the double yellow line between those two avenues. The only breaks there are for 12th Avenue and Grain Street and a now-closed and gated west side street.

State law forbids crossing the double yellow line - something that motorists leaving Central avenue visits can attest to in East Orange Municipal Court.

The street between Grain and Central is one lane each direction, without any curbside parking, speed bumps or rumble strips.

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery runs along the entire fifth-mile stretch's west side. Seven houses, Raiken Memorials office and between six and 11 Jewish cemeteries line the east side.

Several new fence sections along the west side plus several open gate gaps and toppled gravestones attest to motorists' past off-course excursions.

A makeshift shrine, marked by 171 candles, three RIP t-shirts, Mylar balloons and stuffed animals, marks the Maxima's resting place. An on-scene reporter quoted 30 candles 5:30 p.m. July 10.

East Orange Sgt. Maurice Boyd referred questions to county prosecutors.

East Orange water commission gets overhaul

IMG_3281EAST ORANGE - Mayor Lester Taylor III has replaced four of the five-member East Orange Water Commission board here July 15.

"The problems with the East Orange Water Commission are systematic, long running and ultimately affect the residents of this City," Mayor Taylor said via a press release. "The changes I requested are not personal, they are based off of factual information that my Administration has reviewed, and it was in the best interest of the residents of this City that four of the five Commissioners were asked to be removed. I have confidence that the new commissioners will return the East Orange Water Commission to functioning and operating properly in the best interest of the residents."

In the July 15 morning press release, Taylor officially unveiled the following members by name, ward representation, and board office title:

- Michele Antley, First Ward, Chairwoman.
- Chris Coke, Third Ward, Acting Interim Executive Director.
- Ayeshia M. Govan, Second Ward, Acting Secretary.
- Melinda Hawkins Taylor, Fifth Ward, Vice Chairwoman.

Antley, whom Taylor appointed in March, is an administrator in Cushman and Wakefield's retail services division. Coke is also the city's public works director.

Govan, said Taylor, is "a small business owner" who is also working in the city's Board of Education's human resources department. Hawkins Taylor is bringing her 16 years' legal experience on the local through federal levels. (A Mayor's spokeswoman told "Local Talk" July 16 that there is no known relation between the mayor and the attorney.)

Mayor Taylor, in his release, said that the quartet will be serving for an interim 45-day period, until the City Council votes their appointment to full three-year terms. The mayor, in his July 7 correspondence to the council, said he had already appointed Govan and Hawkins Taylor.

Taylor, however, has not filled the Fourth Ward's representative on the board. The mayor, citing board "mismanagement," asked for all but Antley's resignations on or before June 20. The EOWC supplies water to 88,000 customers here and in South Orange.

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