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Thursday, April 11, 2013


“WestScape: South Orange Avenue” Event Will be Held on Saturday, April 13th

(Newark, NJ) – Essex County Freeholder Rufus Johnson of Newark and the West Ward Economic Development Corporation encourage residents of the city’s West Ward to join them, and legions of other volunteers, on Saturday morning, April 13th, for a clean-up of South Orange Avenue.  The project will bring friends, neighbors, business owners and other volunteers together in a concerted effort to beautify a 3-mile stretch of the community’s primary commercial corridor by removing garbage, trash and other debris from the sidewalks and curbs from Bergen Street all the way to the South Orange border (Montrose Street).

Text Box:  The community-organized event, entitled “WestScape: South Orange Avenue”, is an initiative of the non-profit West Ward Economic Development Corporation, which was founded by West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice, and where Freeholder Johnson serves as an advisor.

“This event is the beginning of something special”, said Freeholder Johnson, “something that will bring people of all ages and all walks of life together for a common purpose – to clean up our community and set the stage for an economic renaissance that will bring investment and badly-needed jobs to our residents.”  Freeholder Johnson explained that chronic unemployment and underemployment, especially among teenagers and young adults, is driving the spike in violent and drug-related crime, robberies, car thefts and carjackings that is crippling the community, adding, “and the time has come for us to move past just talking about the problem, to actually doing something about it.”

Johnson spoke about the need to make South Orange Avenue, the commercial heart of the West Ward, an attractive place for people to shop, for existing businesses to thrive, for entrepreneurs to open new businesses, “and most importantly”, said Johnson, “to create jobs.”  He went on to say, “This is personal for me, and not only because I’m an elected official.  I live here, this is my community, and I believe we all have a right to feel safe and have a shot at financial security.”

Johnson also expressed his appreciation to all the governmental, corporate, community-based and other organizations that have joined together to ensure the event’s success.  He especially offered his thanks to Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr., for making County assets available, and who released the following statement:

“We applaud the initiative of the West Ward Economic Development Corporation to revitalize the business corridors in Newark’s West Ward and are happy that our Essex County Office of Small Business Development and Affirmative Action was able to provide technical assistance that helped organize the corporation and outreach that assisted local merchants with business plans and development. Their inaugural activity to clean the entire length of South Orange Avenue in Newark, from Bergen Street to the South Orange border, will engage residents and businesses in making a positive contribution that will enhance our commercial areas. We are pleased to be partnering with West Corp and look forward to the progress that is sure to come.”
The event will kick-off at 11:00 AM with a press conference at Speedway Avenue Elementary School (701 South Orange Avenue), which will include remarks by Freeholder Johnson, Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice, founder of the West Ward Economic Development Corporation, and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr.  Following the press conference, four teams of volunteers will be transported to various starting positions along South Orange Avenue where they will gather the trash into garbage bags provided by the County that will later be collected by the Essex County Department of Public Works.  The event is scheduled to conclude at 3:00 PM.

Other organizations partnering in the event include: the County of Essex, the City of Newark, Babyland, the Newark Fire Officers Union, PSE&G, United Vailsburg Service Organization, the Urban League of Essex County and the State of New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

Anyone wishing to volunteer for the event or learn more about it should call Councilman Rice’s office at 973-733-6427 or inquire via email to westwardedc@gmail.com.

Freeholder Johnson is a resident of the Vailsburg section of Newark and is currently serving his second term as an at-large member of the Freeholder Board; he was elected to his first term in 2008 and then re-elected in 2011.  He also serves as Chief of Staff to State Senator Ronald L. Rice (28th District).


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For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5696 (fax)





Board of Chosen Freeholders, County of Essex
Hall of Records - Room 558, 465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd., Newark, New Jersey 07102
Tel: (973) 621-4486 Fax: (973) 621-5695