Untitled Document


Friday, April 19, 2013


Successful “WestScape: South Orange Avenue” Event Will be Reprised in June

(Newark, NJ) – Essex County Freeholder Rufus Johnson of Newark and Newark West Ward Councilman Ronald C. Rice celebrated the success of last Saturday’s “WestScape: South Orange Avenue” project when 75-100 volunteers gathered at Speedway Avenue School on Saturday, April 13th, a perfect early spring afternoon, to begin the clean-up of South Orange Avenue.  The event was sponsored by the West Ward Economic Development Corporation and touted as the precursor for a series of similar events that will unfold in the months ahead to further spur community involvement and pride and, ultimately, spearhead economic development that will generate job opportunities for local residents.

“Saturday’s event was an even bigger success than I’d hoped for”, said Freeholder Johnson, “and that was just the first step in an effort I am certain will make a real difference in our community.”  Johnson, who lives in Vailsburg and serves as an advisor to the West Ward Economic Development Corporation, added,  “To see so many people come out not only to show their support, but also to roll up their sleeves to pick up the trash along South Orange Avenue was really something to see… something very special, and very encouraging.”

Johnson reiterated his belief that with the support of residents and the business sector, such events will “set the stage for an economic renaissance that will bring investment and badly-needed jobs to local residents”, explaining that chronic unemployment and underemployment, especially among teenagers and young adults, is driving the spike in violent crime plaguing the community.  “We want businesspeople to see our neighborhood as a great place to invest their money and open businesses and for residents to feel safe to patronize them… and cleaning up the community is great place to start.”

Councilman Rice, who founded West Corp. and worked alongside volunteers all afternoon picking up trash, echoed Freeholder Johnson’s assessment of the day’s success, saying, "This day is just the beginning of the many initiatives we envisioned when we formed the West Ward Economic Development Corporation. I look forward to our collaboration with Rutgers University and other partners, which will be working with West Corp. to develop an urban renewal plan, and with West Ward businesses and residents on initiatives to help spur economic growth, beautify the ward and enhance the safety of our neighborhoods."

Freeholder Johnson (right), Thomas Dudley (left) and Andy Warlord (center, with back to camera) of West Corp. take a break from the clean-up effort outside Speedway Avenue School (Photo courtesy of Pamela Daniels)

Johnson also described how rewarding it was to see the interest of passersby and local shop owners who came out of their places of business all along the length of the project (Bergen Street to Montrose Street), “to ask the volunteers what they were doing, and then reacted so positively to the goals of the project”.

Freeholder Johnson and Councilman Rice also expressed their appreciation for the support of the many elected officials who attended the kick-off press conference, many of whom also dug-in to help out, including: freeholders Blonnie Watson (President), Carol Clark, Brendan Gill and Gerald Owens; Senator Ronald L. Rice and Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo of the 28th District; and Newark councilpersons Mildred Crump and Ras Baraka.  They also expressed their thanks to the West Corp. Board of Trustees and Advisors for all their hard work in organizing the event and ensuring its success, as well as to the other partnering organizations that provided man/womanpower, supplies and refreshments, including: the County of Essex, City of Newark, Babyland, Newark Fire Superior Officers Union, PSE&G, Unified Vailsburg Service Organization, the Urban League of Essex County and the State of New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

Freeholder Johnson 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).


Download This Release

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
For Additional Information:
Gary Kroessig, Public Information
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders




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