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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Kearny Cottage Press Release Black/Women's History Months:

During February, for Black History Month and March, for Women's History Month, Kearny Cottage, 63 Catalpa Avenue, Perth Amboy, has been featuring a display of mementos of Addie M. Demby, U. S. Army Private First Class. Ms. Demby served with the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, the only group of black women to serve overseas during World War II. The women of the 6888th maintained troop morale during World War II by clearing the backlog of mail heading to soldiers overseas. The unit worked around the clock and completed in three months what was expected to take six months. After handling 7 million pieces of mail at the base in Birmingham, England they then went to Rouen, France for a similar job. The admission of black women to the service had been promoted by Eleanor Roosevelt. Perth Amboy collector, Andrew Dunyak, generously offered the exhibit to Kearny Cottage to be displayed and offers it to any serious group and organization to do the same.

Kearny Cottage is open Tuesday and Thursday from 2-4 p.m and the last Sunday of the month 2-4 p.m.

For information call Vilma Novak 732-675-8826

Monday, February 28, 2011

Calling All Artists By Tracy Jordan

The City of Perth Amboy has decided to move the management of the Arts Gallery from the Business Improvement District to yet-to-be-created Arts Council, made up of volunteer citizens.

The Perth Amboy Gallery for the Arts has been reassigned as a program to be managed by the Perth Amboy Recreation Department effective January 1, 2011. A public forum for input from any local artists was held at the gallery on Feb. 16. Recreation Department Director Ken Ortiz and Lis Mery Ramirez, Assistant Recreation Supervisor and Municipal Alliance Coordinator, moderated the discussion. About 40 artists and community members attended.

Stated goals of the forum were: developing an overall Art Plan for the city, designing programs, classes and exhibits, scheduling and planning of art-related events throughout the city, offering artists physical spaces to develop their talents, developing action items and ideas that can be implemented to encourage more creative expression the city and finally, building ways to achieve more economic activity in the town through the production of art. Also, this forum was the first step in collecting information to create a local artist registry.

When encouraged, participants called out different artistic needs for the city that matched many of the stated goals.

Regarding specific project ideas, audience suggestions included the following: a Rockette-style “Capitol Kick Line” at City Hall to highlight the nationally significant historical nature of our City Hall building as well as the nationally historical events that have occurred in Perth Amboy. Sounds kooky to have a thousand people kicking around the High Street circle? Well, maybe, but this annual event is extraordinarily successful in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with thousands flocking to the town and forming the kick-line, as well as shopping, eating, touring the city’s sites and day tripping to the town. Another suggestion was the longer term goal of holding an annual citywide festival similar to “Artstown” in Reno, Nevada, where the entire town is transformed into a huge arts festival for one solid week. This was suggested by a current resident who had lived in Reno for many years and experienced first hand the growth of “Artstown”. Repeatedly, artists in the room asked for space not just to work in and exhibit their artwork, but spots to “hang out” with other artists, as that is an important part of the creative process. A young multi-disciplined artist named Samantha said, “Being with other artists makes you a better artist.” The underutilization of the Raritan Bay YMCA’s new 188-seat theatre was stressed as a performance space just waiting to be brought to life.

The beach was noted as another underutilized art performance and display area. The mention of the beach triggered Ms. Ramirez to describe a fantastic event that occurred recently in Belmar: refrigerator doors were placed upright in the beach sand in a circle. Magnetized words were arranged in poems on the doors.

The massive formation stood there day and night for two days. The title of the exhibit was Poem-Henge. (See: More poetry readings, dance performances, student art exhibits, communal art exhibits where various artists all contribute one piece, rather than exhibits consisting of just one famous artist’s work and other ideas came pouring from the participants. It was an upbeat, energetic session.

One man, who creates specialized frames for poets to market their work, described an open mic night that he is starting soon at Arias Lounge. Another pair in the audience, who identified themselves as Reynaldo and Maria, introduced their new corporation, Expresiones, a company dedicated to helping artists with the “business aspects of art”, such as marketing, sales, budgeting, business plan development, and pursuing grant monies.

Maria said frequently, “The infrastructure isn’t there” while Reynaldo added, “That issue plus artists sometimes don’t grasp the entrepreneurial side of art. We will aid people with that.”

More public comments included the request for a multi-perspective approach to the development of an “arts scene” in town, the need to keep our eyes on the ball and not get “left out” of grant funding opportunities, the use of the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a good example of how limitless the use of space at a YMCA can be when geared toward the arts (see More local examples of successful programs to explore that were mentioned by the audience: the Baron’s Art Center of Woodbridge, the Artist’s Guild of Woodbridge and also project “Riverwalk” by Albas Cabas in New Brunswick, where contemporary murals were created along the Raritan River. Even more ideas came for a “dance mobile”, using the next-door basketball courtyard as a stage or dance floor and holding a month-long, outdoor summertime dance series as Lincoln Center in NYC has done for years (and gets sold out every night).

The endeavor is not without its challenges. When asked, What municipal sites are available - where would all these events be specifically happening?, Mr. Ortiz replied “This (the Gallery) is the space we have a the moment.”

When another audience member asked, Will there be a director and/or curator?, Ms. Ramirez responded, “We want to see an Arts Council start and the Council will be in charge. We would eventually want the Council to become an incorporated entity and own the Gallery.”

When asked who would manage the formation of a citywide arts plan, bringing the arts to more public spaces, holding more artistic events, finding space for artists to work, hanging out and giving or take classes, operating an art gallery and finally, creating more economic activity in town from art, Ms. Ramirez said the Arts Council, with a stated time frame of May to September for plan development and October 2011 as the month for a completed, concrete plan.

Councilman Fernando Gonzalez was present and commented, “This needs leadership. I hope you two are going to lead and host more of these meetings. You both are going to hold more meetings – announce your dates.”

In conclusion, here is some background on the arts in Perth Amboy, both from the recent past and concluding with the more distant past.

The current Perth Amboy Gallery for the Arts started with a letter sent to former Mayor Joseph Vas requesting a space for Ms. Olga Bautista, previous Gallery Director, to continue creating her sculpture work. That started the gallery in its original location on Front Street. The gallery moved to Reade Street due to municipal budget cuts.

Ms. Bautista suggested the Reade Street location to Mayor Diaz, who supported the idea. With the help of the Public Works Department, the Reade Street space was renovated with Ms. Bautista’s guidance on lighting, floor color, studio space and other features. The Reade Street location had its grand opening on April 25, 2008 and operated there for approximately two years until January 1, 2011.

From November to December there was an exhibit of Perth Amboy’s native son, the world renowned Kenneth Hari. It was considererd spectacular. Ms. Bautista also helped found the annual “Festival de los Andes”, a yearly celebration of the culture and heritage of Andean indigenous people. This festival has been growing in popularity for the past five years. She also brought Perth Amboy exhibits to other locations, such as hospitals, community centers and many more sites, participated in the city’s Blueberry Festival, offered educational opportunities for youth and adults to learn music and the arts and arranged the donation of the gallery space to other local organizations for their events, classes and meetings. She said she is currently renting a studio to continue working on her sculptures in bronze, clay, marble and various mediums. She is also giving art classes to high school students and adults.

If we now turn the clock way back, you might be amazed to learn the incredible background of the arts in Perth Amboy. Perth Amboy was indeed the site of either the first or second art gallery in the United States of America. The Arts Council may consider the following facts in their fundraising and programming efforts. This colonial “gallery” was set up by the painter John Watson (1685-1768), in or shortly after 1730, and contained works by both Watson and European artists which Watson acquired on a trip back to Scotland in that year. The gallery or “picture house”, as it was called, adjoined his residence on Water Street, just south of Market. This gallery was destroyed during the Revolutionary War. By the way, the other contender for the first art gallery in the US is painter John Smibert's gallery, which he opened in Boston in 1730.

Also in Perth Amboy, the site of Eagleswood had existed. This was first set up as an experimental community (the Raritan Bay Union) in the 1850s, and quickly became an artists' colony in the 1860s. George Inness, the famous landscape painter, lived and worked here from 1864 to 1867. Louis Comfort Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany) studied painting with Inness here. His house and studio stood on the site of the carwash on Convery Boulevard near Smith Street. Sadly, it was torn down in the 1990s.

If you wish to serve on the Arts Council or be included in the Artists Registry, please contact Liz Mery Ramirez at 732-826-1690 ext. 4325.

Additional Note: An open mic started about one month ago at Troy Turkish Mediterranean Restaurant, 547 Kennedy St,Perth Amboy New Jersey, Corner of Route 35 N, two blocks past Walgreens. It is every Wednesday night with start time 8:00 p.m., sign up at 7:30. There are some very talented singers and musicians performing and the cuisine is excellent. BYOB. Troy telephone: 732 826-3326, with Open Mic Coordinator Miss Anna Lawrence, singer/guitarist, at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It is with a very heavy heart that I must report

the untimely demise of a gentleman and journalist. Mr. William George, Editor and Publisher of the Amboy Beacon died last night. He will be missed by many, those whom he touched daily and those who would read the labor's of his love on a weekly basis. He was passionate about life in the Amboy's and his dedication to the community was evident in his writings. I am honored to have known him and will miss him dearly.

The Beacon will continue in his absence but I ask that his readers be patient in this difficult time for all of us.

In his memmory I would ask all his readers to become more involved in their communites and to become Beacons of the Amboy's.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Long-Term Acute Care Addressed By CareOne

(Reprinted from Amboy Beacon, Feb. 9, 2011)

PERTH AMBOY — It has been called “a hospital within a hospital,” but it is

more than that.

Operating on the second-floor of Raritan Bay Medical Center’s Perth Amboy

Division, New Brunswick Avenue, the CareOne LTACH (Long-Term Acute Care

Hospital) is part of Raritan Bay physically but totally-separate

administratively, right down to having its own housekeeping staff.

It also has been called “the wave of the future.”

“Our specialty is critical patients whose stay is longer than 20 days,

especially those who’ve been put on a ventilator,” CareOne Business Development

Manager Michael Fancher explained. “The average hospital stay is four days.

After a regular hospital stay of 15 days, a hospital loses money. It costs

$5,000-a-day to keep someone in an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in New Jersey,

and as much as $8,500-a-day in New York City.”

Using economies-of-scale, a LTACH is able to bring those costs down

dramatically, although Fancher had no “average” number because each case is


“We’re paid under a different scale under Medicare or Medicaid,” he said.

“The average stay here is 25 days, and we have 26 beds total.”

There are 160 credentialed doctors from about a half-dozen hospitals

affiliated with CareOne at Raritan Bay. “We provide an opportunity for

pulmonologists to practice pulmonology,” he said.

Each nurse at CareOne has special certification, and is not part of the

RBMC staff. The only service that CareOne contracts-with Raritan Bay is food


“Every nurse carries a caseload of five acute patients, not nine as is

common in the normal hospital setting,” Fancher said. “The average subacute

caseload can be as high as 15 to 17 patients.”

The CareOne LTACH at Raritan Bay is the first one to open in the area, and

most of its patients are not from Raritan Bay, but from Robert Wood Johnson

University Hospital in New Brunswick.

A regional LTACH facility, CareOne at Raritan Bay receives between 300 and

400 referrals each year, according to CEO Michael Burns.

“We help area hospitals reduce their average Medicare length-of-stay,” he

said. “There are 400 facilities like ours across the country, and they’ve

been-around since the 1970s.

“New Jersey has seven, and we started in 2003,” Burns noted. “We’re all

still here, the original people.”

Many of the patients at CareOne were longtime smokers or have had chronic


“They’ve been put on a ventilator, and our job is to wean them off of it,”

Fancher said. “Patients who have suffered a stroke, were in a car accident

or had extensive surgery are sent to us from other hospitals to do this.

“When they wake-up, especially if they’re elderly, they can’t get-off the

ventilator,” he explained. “It’s common to have a 30-day stay. We have

someone who’s been here for 100 days, and they’re starting to make-progress.”

Patients at the CareOne LTACH at Raritan Bay are on ventilators

24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and “wean-trials” are conducted frequently. A

normal hospital has one respiratory team to handle all of its patients on

ventilators, and attempts to wean them off ventilators are infrequent.

CareOne patients range from Age 19 to 93. Some of them suffer from COPD

(Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), which presents special problems of its


But Fancher said the CareOne staff accepts all challenges. “We believe that

we can wean anyone off a ventilator, but some just take-longer than

others,” he said.

“Our patients belong in a hospital, not in rehab,” Fancher said. “Our

hospital is specifically-built for this.”

When they leave the CareOne LTACH at Raritan Bay, patients are discharged

to their homes, subacute hospitals or nursing homes “as far-away as Moscow.”

“Patients on ventilators have a 27-percent death-rate nationally,” Burns

noted. “It’s nine-percent here.”

Chuck Sees No Shadow: Early Spring Predicted

(Reprinted from Amboy Beacon, Feb. 9, 2011)

STATEN ISLAND, NY — For the 30th time, Charles G. Hogg — a/k/a “Staten

Island Chuck,” — New York City’s Groundhog Ambassador Plenipotentiary, left

his hollowed-out log home at the Staten Island Zoo, Broadway, the morning of

Wednesday, Feb. 2.

In a 7:30 a.m. public appearance, Chuck — who had to be coaxed-out of his

domain by Curator Peter Laline — did not see his shadow, thereby forecasting

an early Spring.

Celebrating his good news, the furry Chuck held a news conference at the

Zoo on his Special Day.

“My success-rate beats the other groundhog celebrities paws-down,” Chuck

declared in a prepared statement. “I’ve been right 23 out of 30 times.

That’s almost a 77-percent success-rate. That amateur (referring to Punxsutawney

Phil) has been right only 39 percent of the time. You know what THAT means?

It means he’s WRONG 61 percent of the time. How he keeps his job, I’ll

never know.”

This year, both longtime prognostigator Punxsutawney Phil and “upstart”

Milltown Mel, making his third appearance, also did not see their shadows,

Chuck noted.

A groundhog seeing his shadow on Groundhog Day would be forecasting six

more weeks of Winter. Chuck is the only genuine groundhog in New York City’s

six zoological parks. Some other zoos use prairie-dogs.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks and whistle-pigs, are active by day and

eat vegetation, such as grasses, clover and alfalfa. Chuck’s favorite foods

are corn and sweet potatoes.

For 28 years, the Zoo has celebrated Groundhog Day with a breakfast

ceremony, and this year’s celebration was no-different. Even though the Zoo does

not open until 7 a.m., guests started arriving early for the traditional

Groundhog Day breakfast of bagels, pastries, coffee and juice. There was singing,

the recitation of Native American folktales and special groundhog poetry,

and other fun doings.

Brian Laline, Editor of the Staten Island Advance and Peter’s father,

once-again served as Master of Ceremonies, donning a tuxedo and tophat for the

occasion. After John Franzreb trumpeted the horn, the prediction was made.

This year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg again let Peter Laline get the feisty

groundhog out of his home. In 2009, the Mayor grabbed Chuck and pulled him

out, getting nipped in the process.

This year, Bloomberg gingerly held Chuck aloft, after he was handed the

groundhog by his handler, and proclaimed, “There was absolutely no shadow


The Mayor was joined by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and

Congressman Michael Grimm. U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer, D-NY, who

appeared in 2007, making the event “Chuck Squared,” was unable to attend

this year.

“There is no better place to be on the morning of Groundhog Day than at the

Staten Island Zoo,” Zoo Interim Executive Director Kenneth Mitchell said.

“The excitement, the anticipation, and all the pomp-and-circumstance that

comes with the notoriety of housing the world’s most-famous groundhog makes

this day a very-special one for Staten Island and for our Zoo.”

Following the ceremony, a special breakfast was held with Chuck in his

honor. This year’s ceremony was presented by Time Warner Cable’s East


Groundhog Day began as an ancient Celtic tradition, which maintained that

animals have special powers on Feb. 2 — the midpoint date between the Winter

Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Animals’ sensitivity to changes in the

weather was an invaluable help to farmers as they prepared for the Spring

planting season. Centuries ago, farmers could not be sure if a warming trend in

mid-Winter was just a brief thaw or a sign of early Spring. Their survival

depended upon their crops, and animals’ hibernation behavior was one way to

predict weather.

Chuck’s record of predictions is most-impressive. Chuck’s Groundhog Day

forecasts were correct in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990,

1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008,

2009 and 2010, and incorrect in 1984, 1992, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2007. In

1987, Chuck vacationed in Florida out of respect for Punxsutawney Phil’s 100th


For more information, call (718) 442-3101 or 442-3174.

Census Count Breaks 50,000

(Reprinted from Amboy Beacon, Feb. 9, 2011)

PERTH AMBOY — Hard work since last March by Mayor Wilda Diaz, members of

her Administration and the mostly-volunteer Complete Count Committee headed by

Office on Aging Director Dianne Roman finally has paid-off.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced last week that the City of Perth Amboy’s

population, according to the numbers gathered for Census 2010, is 50,814, or

3,511 higher than the 47,303 counted for Census 2000, earning an Urbanized

Community designation for the city.

The Urbanized Community designation means that Perth Amboy will be eligible

to compete directly with other cities of 50,000 population or more for

additional federal funding for infrastructure-repair and other programs instead

of having to apply for those grants as part of Middlesex County.

“These are difficult financial times, and this is big for the City of Perth

Amboy,” Diaz said. “Census 2010 affects the distribution of $4 trillion

over the next 10 years, and we needed to break the 50,000 (population

threshhold) to receive the funding that we deserve.”

The Mayor, who was able to achieve that breakthrough after being in-office

only two years while her predecessor, former Mayor Joseph Vas, was unable to

do so after being in-office for 10 years, called her successful effort “my

most-meaningful achievement since I’ve been in-office.”

She said the Census 2010 results “couldn’t have come at a better time,” as

cash-strapped Perth Amboy struggles with higher-than-average rates of

unemployment and housing-foreclosures.

The Urbanized Community designation puts Perth Amboy into the same league

as Woodbridge Township, with a Census 2010 count of 99,585 residents —

slightly-below the Metropolitan Area designation, which starts at 100,000