Developments, Contracts, Budgets Top 2012 News
These are the stories that dominated Bridgewater in 2012.
- Filipe Pedroso was chosen as the newest councilman to fulfill a seat vacated by Dan Hayes, after he was elected mayor in the November 2011 elections.
- Contract negotiations between the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association and the board of education continued with teachers still holding rallies outside of their schools on Friday mornings, and mediation ongoing as proposals were declined on both sides.
- Mayor Dan Hayes was sworn in as the newest Bridgewater mayor, and promised transparency in government, plus focuses on infrastructure and saving money.
- The Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District learned that it would be receiving about $1 million more in state aid than it had the previous year, increasing its total aid to $9 million for the 2012-2013 year.
- After a mandate from the state, the Bridgewater-Raritan board of education voted to move school elections to November, ensuring that residents would no longer be voting on the budget so long as it stayed under a 2 percent tax levy cap.
- Pfizer presented plans for the remediation of the American Cyanamid Site in Bridgewater, and was waiting for approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.
- The board of education approved a school budget with only a 1 percent tax levy increase, which meant the budget would not be voted on in the November elections.
- The board of education approved the hiring of Brett Charleston, formerly from Egg Harbor Township, to serve as the newest principal of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
- Police were investigating a bomb threat that caused a delayed opening at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School March 2. The district received an emailed anonymous bomb threat, and K-9 units swept the building for several hours before determining that the threat was false.
- Bridgewater Township Council voted to set a 1.9 percent tax increase for its budget, down from the 6.5 percent it had originally considered but higher than the 0 percent some council members were looking for, and began investigating places to cut.
- The board of education made its decision on redistricting, opting to move the AI program out of Adamsville Primary School, and splitting it among several different primary schools to decrease the number of students in the one building.
- The zoning board denied an application from T-Mobile for a 125-foot cell tower at the Green Knoll Volunteer Fire Company after close to two years of testimony from experts from both the company, the township and the residents. The denial came amid concerns that the tower would not actually cover the gap in coverage, and would lower property values.
- The Microsoft Store celebrated its grand opening at the Bridgewater Commons Mall with a concert from OneRepublic, and an appearance by Eli Manning.
- The council voted on a budget that actually had a 3 percent tax rate increase, instead of the 1.9 percent it had decided on in April, and decided it did the least amount of damage by not cutting too many positions and programs from the township.
- The township heard plans for six different solar panel projects throughout Bridgewater, including at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School, municipal building and more, with all costs being paid by the county.
- Residents put together a group, Stop 18 Homes, in order to stop the proposed development of 18 homes on the former Wemple property, at Twin Oaks and Steele Gap roads.
- About 700 students marked their graduation from Bridgewater-Raritan High School, preparing for the next step in their lives, while celebrating the past four years.
- The county, in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation, began working on proposals for improving Route 22 through adding through lanes and other methods of getting to Route 287 from Route 22 without getting in the way of the shops on the highway.
- Bridgewater-Raritan High School varsity lacrosse team captured its second-in-a-row Tournament of Champions title, capping off an undefeated season with a win over Delbarton, 11-5.
- The board of education changed its policy concerning absences, saying that there will be consequences for too many days missed, but there will also be a process to appeal if the absences are for a justifiable reason.
- School negotiations were pushed to a fact finder after the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association and board of education were still at impasse by the middle of July.
- Bridgewater said it opposed the proposed county police merger that would create different districts covering multiple townships with one central dispatch system.
- The newest teacher evaluations, mandated by the state, will require additional evaluations and more paperwork over the coming years, and programs to run it will cost about $120,000.
- The Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association and board of education finally settled the contract, creating another three-year one that would be ratified later in the year.
- Thousands spent days at the Somerset County 4-H Fair at North Branch Park, enjoying the animals, go-carts, robotics and food.
- About 100 students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School took part in building a medical center through Homes of Living Hope that would be sent to Uganda, and it was completed and shipped off Aug. 3.
- A 14-year-old girl was hit by a 17-year-old driver as she crossed Garretson Road on the way to the Bridgewater-Raritan High School one morning, and was fortunately not seriously injured.
- The district administration discussed plans for changing the Bridgewater-Raritan High School library to make it more of a learning hub and create more opportunities for students to spend time there.
- DSW opened in the building on Commons Way formerly occupied by Borders.
- Allergan opened a new research and development center in Bridgewater, in the Somerset Corporate Center, with the promise of hundreds of new jobs for residents of Bridgewater and the surrounding areas.
- Superstorm Sandy was the talk of the end of October, as residents dealt with closed roads due to downed trees, power outages that lasted up to 14 days throughout the township and lots of cleanup of brush, wires and other items that had to be cleared from the roads. Halloween was postponed, schools closed indefinitely, residents shared photos of downed trees and shelters began to open to accommodate residents without power.
- The district was continuing to seek input on a possible dress code for the students, particularly those at the high school, and the possibility of making it stricter for students.
- The contract between the Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association and the board of education was officially ratified late in October, with salary increases to total 8.7 percent over the life of the agreement.
- Students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School expressed concerns that the changes to the food in the cafeteria based on state law to maintain healthier choices made the choices less fresh and much smaller.
- T-Mobile filed a lawsuit against the township and zoning board after it denied an application for a 125-foot cell tower at the Green Knoll Fire House with the explanation that it did not cover the gap and could lower property values.
- The month started with Superstorm Sandy headlines as residents continued to deal without power, some well into the second week of the month, gas lines remained long leading to rationing and stores slowly started to reopen throughout the township.
- A local resident started a Facebook group and petition to get JCP&L out of the township after its slow efforts to restore power during Superstorm Sandy, and she is continuing to work to set up a meeting to talk to officials about what will be done for the future.
- The board of education opted to cut the Presidents Day long weekend, and rename all optional snow days throughout the rest of the school year to account for the extra days the schools had to be closed when power was lost during Superstorm Sandy.
- The township council approved hiring different firms for curbside brush pick-up to account for all of the brush that was knocked down by the wind in Superstorm Sandy.
- The board of education determined that the dress code should be decided by individual schools at this point, but they will continue to revisit the issue in the future.
- The Bridgewater-Raritan High School marching band took the state title at the championships in Edison, and received the highest score ever for a New Jersey band in the national championships in Indianapolis.
- Filipe Pedroso was elected to the township council for the next three years, and Patrick Breslin, Aaron Kurdyla and Jacqueline Barlow were elected to the board of education.
- The township council approved a new ordinance to set out cell tower restrictions, including how close they can be to residential properties, and what will happen if an abandoned tower is not removed.
- The board of education heard an initial presentation about the 2013-2014 budget, which, if no changes are made, will include a 1.76 percent tax hike, although this is only a preliminary draft.
- The school district began to look at other options for additional security following the Newtown, CT, shootings, including the possibility of an armed guard or more security personnel at the high school, and parents want to know what else can be done to keep the children safe.
- One Bridgewater couple headed to Newtown in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, bringing donated toys and food, while also offering support and love to grieving families.
- The Bridgewater Principals Association declared impasse with the board of education concerning current contract negotiations.
- The planning board approved the application for 17 homes to be built on the former Wemple property on Twin Oaks and Steele Gap roads despite concerns from residents that the application was incomplete and additional studies needed to be done.
- The zoning board approved the building of a CVS at the corner of Finderne and Union avenues, which will also include the company adding dedicated left turn lanes to Union Avenue in both directions.
- The township council rejected a proposal from the mayor concerning shared court services with Somerville, citing concerns about risk and extra security costs, despite hearing that it would result in thousands of dollars in savings.