Posted on Jul 26, 2021
It was a busy day at Rotary.

We started, as usual, with our song accompanied by Susan Haig on the piano (acapella isn’t our forte – always sounds better with music).  We immediately moved to our long delayed inauguration of our new president.  Outgoing president Dr. Roz Dorlen thanked the many Rotarians that assisted her in her presidential year – a year like no other.  Roz never presided over an in-person meeting and never even got to ring the bell (she did, today).  Despite all the difficulties we encountered due to COVID, Roz had a most successful year – she oversaw regular weekly Zoom meetings, held a successful fund raiser, helped maintain the Club during the pandemic (along with much assistance from Joe Steiner who organized our zoom meetings, Melanie Cohn who took over as Club secretary, Peter Bolton who did an outstanding job as program chair and the other Board members, Mike Katz, Eric Evers, Don Steele, Evelyn Davis & Jim Fleischmann who offered council when needed).

Past President Roz (left) welcomes Incoming President Evelyn

Roz then handed the gavel to our incoming president, Evelyn Davis who said she was ready to assume her position and was looking forward to guiding the SNP Rotary towards fulfilling our goals of community service and even expanding our undertakings.  Evelyn then presented four Paul Harris awards, three of which were delayed due to the suspension of meetings because of the pandemic: receiving awards were past president Swati Goorha, past president Don Steele, past president Melanie Cohn, and Neela Pushparaj.

Finally, Joe Steiner introduced our speaker, Union County Commissioner Alexander Mirabella.  Al is also the chairman of the commissioners and probably the longest serving commissioner in New Jersey history – in his 24th year (and six time chairman).  There are roughly a half million residents in Union County divided into 21 municipalities. So, there is a lot going on.  Al touched on a few issues he felt were of import and that we should be aware of – the county reacted swiftly to the pandemic.  Early on, COVID testing was set up at Kean University and as soon as the mRNA vaccines were available, in January, Kean was the vaccine site.  We were the first county to have over 50% vaccinated.  The county is now offering mobile vaccinations for those who are unable to travel.  The county also addressed issues of food insecurity and set up a special $16.7 million fund to assist residents with mortgage and rent payments for those effected by job losses, etc., due to the pandemic. The county maintained its AAA bond rating, and, for the second year, had no tax increases.  Closer to Summit/NP, the Morris Ave bridge to the “rails to trail” project is on tap as is an experimental effort to revitalize the Bryant Park Pond.  Al opened the floor for questions.  There were many.  One item stood out – the closing of the county jail.  Bail reform reduced the occupancy significantly and it was decided to share facilities with Essex County.  Al noted that no dangerous people were released into the community – rigid tests are applied before release.  This move saved the county over $20M a year.

As in the past, Commissioner Mirabella was most informative and generous with his time.  We appreciate his presentation and hope to see him again at a future date