Creation of NJCWST

The New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology has just opened.  In an effort to improve the quality of water in New Jersey as well as maintaining the condition of aquatic terrains, the center will serve as a crucial system for the residents of New Jersey.  It will also facilitate the management of the region’s current water sources.

Montclair State University will take a leading role in this new center, vis-à-vis the capacity it will be given to provide research, QA, and other assistance for the enhancement and management of local lakes, reservoirs, rivers etc.  Indeed, according to Biology Department Professor and New Jersey Center for Water Science and Technology Director, Meiyin Wu:

“The NJCWST is committed to keeping New Jersey’s drinking and recreational waters safe, and preserving the health of aquatic habitats. We hope to continue our work and remain an important resource for the state and its residents, and bring new data to the forefront that will help better manage our valuable water resources.”

To date, the educational institute has already taken a key role in water conservation efforts in the region.  It hosts some of the largest entities in this vein including the NJ Department of Environment Protection (where it is a partner) -certified Water Analysis Laboratory; the NJ Phytoplankton Lab, Habitat Connectivity Project and the Passaic River Institute.

But with the establishment of the NJCWST, Montclair State University will expand the work that it is engaging in, bolstering its services so as to offer water quality testing and tech assistance to conservation groups. it will also sponsor workshops to encourage education on this issue for K-12 students and the community at large.

Recognition for CT Vets

The Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame began honoring individuals following their completion of honorable military service in 2005.  It was set up in order to “recognize Veterans for their countless contributions to society after their service.”

Next week will see the inauguration of 10 new veterans into the Hall of Fame.  They are known as the class of 2019.  There will be an event in Hartford at the Legislative Office Building whereby each honoree (or family member for those who are honored posthumously) will be presented with a certificate and commemorative medallion in recognition of their dedication over the years, in particular, post-military service.

The honorees past and present are individuals who have: assisted fellow veterans; given their time to participate on various committees; mentored youth and volunteered in the medical field.

Recent Local Festivals

Kids Halloween Festivities

Local community festivals have the potential to have many positive impacts on the region. This includes: 

  • A boost to the economy
  • Bolstering relationships between individuals and local organizations
  • Cultivating pride in the community

At the end of last month Downtown Milford put on some great activities for Halloween for kids.  The Halloweekend Fall Festival.  Parents were invited to bring their kids for some safe and monitored – but fun and spooky – Halloween event.  Kids were offered ghoulish makeovers from students at Platt Tech High School, story time (that wasn’t too scary), Brian Smith DJ and lots more. And of course there were trick-or-treaters!

A couple of weeks later witnessed the first ever Hard Cider Festival in Wallingford, CT.  Attendees were able to sample cider from more than a dozen local cideries, listen to live music, purchase local food from food trucks and partake in an apple cider doughnut-eating competition!

On November 2nd, performances were held at the University of Saint Joseph’s Autorino Center.  The festival was held in order to celebrate the 5×5 Dance Festival’s diverse CT dance performers.  This cultivates a unified climate for dance.  As well, it provides both audiences and artists with knowledge of upcoming events. 

So stay tuned for more upcoming local CT events.

New York Fashion Trends

During Fall’s New York Fashion Week (that took place between 6 and 14 September), it seems that one of the most impactful trends to emerge had little to do with style and much more to do with the non-color meaning of green.

Sustainable fashion seemed to be the trendiest look in New York (echoed throughout the European Fashion events). It was Uruguayan’s fashion designer Gabriela Hearst who displayed what she described as the first ever carbon-neutral fashion show, upcycling prints from previous collections. 

That happened right in the middle of the Week – and at the same time as the British Fashion Council brought in its entity that seeks to establish a coalition to set green business standards – the Institute of Positive Fashion.

Others jumping on this sustainable fashion bandwagon included Gucci (with its carbon neutral fashion show as well as getting rid of any carbon emissions it creates); Missouni (with its solar powered sun lights for guests and Green Carpet Awards) and Stella McCartney (with her updates on the LIFE program – LVMH initiatives for the environment).

One possible trend that could be seen as sustainable in New York was the underwear being worn as outerwear…as that could definitely be argued as an item that can be worn more than once! In addition, New York fashion week displayed lots of oversized clothing which is also a very good step in the direction of sustainability.

Kerite Cable Upgrades

Thanks to the commitment of the partnership between Vineyard Wind and Marmon Utility, upgrades will be made to the Connecticut’s Kerite power cable facility.  With a $4m investment from Marmon Utility, the specific needs of the Park City Wind project’s array cables will be met. The Kerite cable company has been selected by Vineyard Wind as the supplier of at least half of the project.

This is good news for locals since there will be around $40m in direct Connecticut expenditure as well as 35 permanent jobs at the Seymour facility.  In addition, within the next 10 years there is anticipated growth of approximately 350 jobs in the facility as well as $400m in direct revenue.

The proposal for this project is to be submitted to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection three days from now.

New Jersey’s Rise to Fame

New Jersey is become quite the global business player according to local entrepreneurs.  Even some of the small companies are expanding and developing a global presence. According to New Jersey Business Action Center Executive Director Melanie Willoughby:

“We are in a global marketplace now, and we want them to understand the value of expanding their business internationally.  Doing business just in your home state is no longer going to help you grow exponentially. You really need to expand your horizons because there is so much competition in the marketplace. Small companies don’t realize their potential and that their products are wanted internationally, so that’s where the Office of Export Promotion comes in, where we can help them identify where their best markets might be. There are many international trade shows and companies are very interested in going there to be able to demonstrate that their products are very viable in the international stage.”

The Center was developed for locals to get easy access to much needed information from government agencies as well as guidance to officials and contacts, help set up meetings, and more, all for free and all completely confidential.   One branch of the center is Export Promotion which helps locals comprise an export plan for their businesses.

In 2018 most of New Jersey’s exports went to Canada, China, Germany, Mexico and the UK.  Items included: chemicals, computer products, electronic products and primary-metal materials.

Environmental Protection = Economic Prosperity

At the end of last month numerous local individuals volunteered their time to help clean up the Connecticut River basin.  This was part of the 23rd annual Connecticut River Conservancy’s Source to Sea Cleanup.  Each year Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont volunteers met at the 410-mile riverbank for their day of work. 

All sorts of people joined the event: those from different religious/faith organizations, environmentalists, students, community members and even business groups.  Around 3,000 people come and help the cause, collecting a ton of non-biodegradable items including mattresses and scrap metal!

As well as this being a wonderful way for community members to come together it is also great for the environment which ultimately helps the economy too.  Indeed, a study found: that:

“massive cleanup efforts can ultimately be preferable, from an ROI standpoint, to the industrial and residential development projects often favored above ecosystem restoration and conservation initiatives in highly polluted areas.”

This kind of environmental cleanup is hugely welcome and should be encouraged in other regions too.

Connecticut: Tax Increases

Tomorrow CT residents will be subject to two new taxes.  On October 1, 2019, grocery store shoppers will see a new sales tax on prepared foods. The additional tax is 7.35% and is part of the June state budget.  It is hoped that this will lead to an additional $100m in taxes over the next 24 months. 

The law is a little strange (and thus confusing though).  A purchase is only taxable for five or fewer fast food items including bagels and cookies. North Haven’s Republican Leader Senate Len Fasano held up a rotisserie chicken at a Capitol news conference and said:

“If you were to walk out with this chicken and a soda today, you would not be taxed on either. After Oct. 1, because they’re going to deem the soda as part of the chicken, you’re going to get taxed on the chicken and the soda. If you just bought the soda, you wouldn’t be taxed. But because you buy it together, someone has to make the determination that it’s part of the meal. That’s what [the state tax department] is saying.”

And if you buy the donuts at your local Dunkin Donuts, no matter how many you purchase the tax will not apply.  It is only grocery stores.

In addition, digital download tax increase will jump from 1 to 6.35 percent.

Pure Water?

Route 12’s Salt Storage Facility (under the auspices of New York’s Department of Transportation) has been blamed for water faucet contamination. After over a decade of complaints and legal action taken, as well as over $15 million being put into the construction of the necessary infrastructure, 500+ property owners can now drink the water from their faucets with confidence.

In 2015, the New York Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers ranked New York’s infrastructure from Long Island to Massena ‘C.’  Yet at that time 95 percent of funding requests for infrastructure enhancement were rejected. According to New York Report Card Committee Chairman, Bud Griffis:

“The Report Card shows that our infrastructure is only as good as the weakest links and that we have a lot of areas that need improvement.”

This endeavor was launched by the Orleans Town Council back in 2012.  It is anticipated that the entire project will be completed in 2020.

Over in Newark, NJ, it was recently announced that $120 million is being put into replacing around 18,000 very old service pipes over the next two and a half years.    The situation of problematic water from faucets in the area escalated around a year ago when faucet water filters were distributed to remove lead that had been getting through.  Just recently tests were found that some of these filters were not doing an adequate job and the city was forced to provide bottled water.