Community Input Sought to Help Enhance Local Workforce Programs and Initiatives  

News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul M. Drake, Commissioner

 

 January 2, 2024

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Community Input Sought to Help Enhance Local Workforce Programs and Initiatives

 The Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board (GRWDB) needs help from residents, the public, and employers to provide input and guidance about the GRWDB’s 2024 programs and initiatives in Hunterdon and Somerset counties. All Board and Committee meetings are open to the public for participation. The annual schedule and meeting agendas are posted on the “Events – Meeting Packages” webpage of the GRWDB’s website at https://www.thegrwdb.org. Committee meetings begin in February.

To ensure publicly funded services and training programs are part of a workforce system that is flexible, seamless, and responsive to the needs of employers and job seekers, the GRWDB’s staff collaborate with a variety of federal, state, county, and local agencies, a full board comprised of different stakeholders and four committees focusing on different career-related areas.

The GRWDB’s four committees include a Disabilities Committee, a Literacy Committee, an Operations Committee, and a Youth Committee. Each committee meets at least four times a year and discusses issues, suggests solutions, and plans events around the GRWDB priorities. Staff ensures the time given by volunteers is used efficiently and respectfully.

While members of the full GRWDB Board are appointed by the Hunterdon and Somerset Board of County Commissioners, committee membership is open to any employer, resident or subject-matter expert working in either county who would like to offer their ideas, personal experiences, and input to help guide the GRWDB’s work in specific areas and broader strategic initiatives.

Contact Information

To find out how to join a GRWDB committee, call Director Paul Grzella at 908-541-5790 or email info@theGRWDboard.org.

For more information about committee meetings, go to the Events-Calendar tab on the GRWDB’s website at https://www.thegrwdb.org. The annual calendar can be found here.

About the Greater Workforce Development Board
The GRWDB oversees federally and state-funded career and employment services for businesses and residents in Hunterdon and Somerset counties. Programs and initiatives are guided by a board of private business representatives, labor unions, community-based organizations, educational entities, and other partners who set larger policy initiatives based on metric-based, state-developed data, as well as direct customer and employer feedback.

Somerset County Seeks Public Input for Use of Opioid Settlement Funds

News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul M. Drake, Commissioner

 

For Immediate Release

May 23, 2023

 

Somerset County Seeks Public Input for Use of Opioid Settlement Funds to Help Communities Enhance Recovery, Prevention, and Treatment of Addiction

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Human Services Department is seeking public input into the use of national opioid settlement funds that are intended to help communities recover from the opioid addiction crisis across the country. The county expects to receive at least $450,000 every year for the next 18 years.

“Funds must be used towards helping residents who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic,” said Somerset County Department of Human Services Addiction Services Director, Lisa Federico. “These uses include enhancing treatment, expanding harm reduction efforts, supporting recovery, and connecting people to the care they need.”

This month, the Somerset County Human Services Department launched an online survey seeking input from people who live or work in Somerset County as to how these funds can be most helpful for treating substance use disorders and promoting recovery. Interested individuals can take the survey by clicking here.

“Public responses to this survey will help guide Somerset County in designing programs to address the substance use problems that are linked to the opioid crisis,” said Somerset County Commissioner Paul M. Drake, liaison to the human services department.

Somerset County is among the first in the state to begin using its share of the national opioid settlement funds, with new programs designed to increase public access to prevention and treatment services.

Navigation Assistance to Programs and Services
The Opioid Settlement Funds have been used to hire a Behavioral Health System Navigator to help residents find the support they need. People can contact Behavioral Health System Navigator Stephanie Billitz, at sbillitz@co.somerset.nj.us or call 908-203-6130.

Mobile Outreach Van
During Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the county’s Human Services Department began its mobile outreach with the new Somerset HELPS mobile outreach van, which brings services directly to underserved neighborhoods and county and municipal events.

The van operates as a mobile human services hub that travels throughout Somerset County. The van has a food pantry, free books and giveaways. Bilingual social workers and other professionals will be available to provide information, resources, and referrals to services and assistance with applications to safety-net programs.

“Somerset HELPS” Mobile Van Outreach Schedule
June 3, 8 to 11 a.m., Hillsborough Municipal Complex, 379 South Branch Road.

June 24, 1 to 5 p.m., Franklin Youth Center, 429 Lewis St., Somerset.

For more information, contact Planning Administrator Zach Berliner at 908-704-6300 or email ZBerliner@co.somerset.nj.us.

Opioid Settlement Fund Survey
The Somerset County Department of Human Services and the County Opiate Advisory Council are seeking public input about how the county should use the Opioid Settlement Funds. To take the survey, click here.

Somerset County Human Services Department
The Human Services Department is responsible for the administration and supervision of all divisions within the department as well as various councils and advisory committees, which help promote the social well-being of county residents.

To stay up-to-date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts at www.co.somerset.nj.us/subscribe or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Somerset County Introduces 2023 Budget that Maintains Services at Reduced Tax Rate

News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Doug Singleterry, Commissioner Deputy Director

Sara Sooy, Commissioner Ÿ Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul M. Drake, Commissioner

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 12, 2023

Contact Brad Fay at 908-231-7628 for more information

 

Somerset County Introduces 2023 Budget that Maintains Services at Reduced Tax Rate

County Commissioners Propose a Budget that ‘Maintains Fiscal Discipline’ while Funding Vital County Services

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Somerset County Board of County Commissioners introduced a 2023 County budget that preserves vital services for the County’s more than 345,000 residents while providing a fiscally responsible budget that preserves the County’s important AAA Bond Rating.

“After operating under emergency conditions for three years, we’ve seen the vital role county government plays in protecting the health and well-being of our residents, and recovering from natural disasters,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “This budget ensures we continue to provide those and many other vital services, while also maintaining fiscal discipline and a reduced tax rate at a time when residents are being squeezed by high inflation.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of the work of our County employees, especially during challenging times,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Douglas Singleterry. “At the same time, we took a hard look at every line in the budget, and limited the increase in costs to 4.4%, well below today’s inflation rate.”

The proposed budget of $266,346,509 includes $221,882,385 to be raised through property taxes. The average county home valued at $510,695 will see a small increase in the County’s portion of their property tax bill of $77.71. The tax rate will decline by 1.71%.

Nearly 70% of the budget consists of obligated costs required by State or Federal law. The primary costs driving increases for the year were health insurance, debt service, and pension obligations. The County continues to manage more than $10 million in deferred costs related to responding municipal recovery needs following Hurricane Ida, nearly all of which is expected to be reimbursed by FEMA and other Federal agencies.

A public hearing on the proposed County budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13. Residents are encouraged to watch and participate in the public hearing at the Commissioners’ Meeting Room on the third floor of the Administration Building at 20 Grove Street, Somerville, NJ, or via a link contained on the County’s website or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SomersetCountyNJ. Prior to the meeting, questions and comments can be sent to countyboardmeeting@co.somerset.nj.us.

The 2023 County budget will:

  • Maintain significant infrastructure, including 38 parks and open space across 15,000 acres, 248 miles of county roads, and 752 bridges.
  • Fund high-performing public health services, 911 communications, emergency response, and training capabilities.
  • Fund the Sheriff’s Office, Prosecutor, and Corrections Facilities.
  • Fund comprehensive human services operations during a period of crisis for mental health and substance use.
  • Provide vital transit services to our workforce and seniors.
  • Support economic development, tourism, and planning.
  • Partially fund affiliated agencies including the County Vocational Technical High School, Raritan Valley Community College, Somerset County Park Commission, Social Services, and Somerset County Business Partnership.

The budget includes nearly 200 shared services that save taxpayer dollars:

  • Providing municipalities and schools with easy access to shared services via the innovative Somerset County Marketplace.
  • Recycling for all 21 municipalities, including schools.
  • Transportation services for six municipalities.
  • Graphics and printing services for 13 municipalities.
  • Vehicle maintenance for 30 municipalities and agencies.
  • Vehicle fuel for over 50 agencies.
  • Statewide emergency services training.
  • Public health services for nine municipalities.
  • Full dispatch service for 23 municipalities (two out of county), 41 fire departments, and 17 EMS stations.
  • A statewide cooperative purchasing program.

Somerset County Board of County Commissioners
Somerset County is governed and managed by the Board of County Commissioners. The Board consists of five members with one or two elected each year in November in the general election, and they each serve three-year terms. Commissioners serve as liaisons to all divisions in the county.

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts at www.co.somerset.nj.us/subscribe or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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American Rescue Plan-Funded Scholarships Helping RVCC Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 8, 2022

American Rescue Plan-Funded Scholarships Helping RVCC Students

A new Raritan Valley Community College Career Scholarship program is helping students begin their career path through training that is supported by the Hunterdon and Somerset Boards of County Commissioners and funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

A portion of funds received from the ARPA, was allocated to need-based career scholarships for training programs in high-demand industries offered at the Branchburg-based Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC). The scholarships were made possible through recommendations and collaboration between the Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board (GRWDB) and the Hunterdon and Somerset County Boards of Commissioners.

The career-training scholarship program began with a request for funding from the GRWDB. As a result of the request, the Boards of Commissioners allocated a total of $50,000 to the RVCC Career Scholarship grant program. Somerset County students received $38,000, and Hunterdon County students obtained $12,000 in grant money.
The funding can be used until the end of 2023.

“Hunterdon County’s partnership with RVCC and the GRWDB is truly paying dividends for students in Hunterdon County,” said Hunterdon County Commissioner Jeff Kuhl, liaison to the GRWDB. “I, along with my colleagues on the board are excited to be able to offer scholarship opportunities to talented students enrolled within in-demand career training programs at Raritan Valley Community College.”

Eleven Somerset County residents and three Hunterdon County residents were accepted into the scholarship program. Fourteen students completed the college’s training for phlebotomy and electrocardiogram (ECG) technicians, both of which are entry points into well-paying healthcare careers. The scholarships pay for the program training costs as well as for related book and exam fees, and as-needed background and liability insurance.

“The scholarships allow breathing room for students who may otherwise be faced with the choice of paying for education or paying for rent or healthcare,” said Joanna Hala, GRWDB board chair. “This effort aligns with the work of the United Way of Northern New Jersey to educate people about our ALICE population – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”

“Somerset County is committed to providing the education and training our younger residents need to take advantage of the in-demand, good-paying jobs of the future,” said Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director Doug Singleterry, liaison to the GRWDB. “These eleven Raritan Valley Community College scholarship students are the tip of the iceberg, and I look forward to providing more opportunities for more students in 2023.”

The first cohort of scholarship recipients came from seven Somerset County communities – Basking Ridge, Branchburg, Bridgewater, North Plainfield, Raritan Borough, Somerset and Warren – and three Hunterdon County communities – Annandale, Lebanon and Milford. Recipients ranged in age and life experiences, with some employed, others seeking employment, and some are new Americans. All recipients were excited to venture into a new career.

“The scholarship makes such a huge difference in allowing me to continue my studies and pursue better opportunities,” said Kevin Parsi, a Warren resident who completed his ECG course. “I was recently accepted into the nursing program at RVCC, and this scholarship goes a long way in allowing me to fund my studies as well as living expenses as I continue through this journey.”

Approximately $21,235 of the funds have been used for training and related costs for the first group of scholarship recipients. There is a total of $28,765.25 in funds remaining for eligible applicants who are interested in in-demand training programs at RVCC.

To view Career Training opportunities at Raritan Valley Community College, visit https://www.raritanval.edu/career-training.

To learn more about the RVCC Career Scholarship grant program, email Maryam Sheikh at the Workforce Training Center of RVCC at Maryam.Sheikh@raritanval.edu.

More information about the GRWDB, its program partners and area workforce system services can be found at www.thegrwdb.org.

Weekly text alerts highlight career and job opportunities in Somerset and Hunterdon counties. Text “onestop” to 565-12 to sign up.

The Greater Raritan Workforce Development Board (GRWDB)
The GRWDB oversees $4 million annually in federal-, state- and county-funded career and employment services for businesses and residents in Hunterdon and Somerset counties. In recent years, it has expanded its footprint of services and programs, to ensure that it is connecting job seekers to career-development pathway opportunities around the region.

Somerset County to Host Virtual Public Meeting for Roadway Safety Study on Sept. 29

News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director | Sara Sooy, Commissioner Deputy Director

Melonie Marano, Commissioner | Paul Drake, Commissioner | Doug Singleterry, Commissioner

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 16, 2021

 

Somerset County to Host Virtual Public Meeting for Roadway Safety Study on Sept. 29

Residents Are Invited to Learn About Safety Recommendations for Five County Roadways

 

SOMERVILLE, NJ –  Residents are invited to join the second virtual public meeting presented by the Somerset County Planning Division to learn more about the draft Roadway Safety Study’s recommendations and to provide input about the recommendations. The goal of the study is to identify safety issues for vehicle and pedestrian roadway crossings, bicycle paths, and green infrastructure for stormwater management. The virtual public meeting, to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m., will focus on five county roadways that have been identified as areas that may need safety improvements and potential solutions for the implementation of those improvements. Preregistration is required.

 

“This meeting provides residents with the opportunity to provide feedback about potential important safety improvements,” said Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director Sara Sooy, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority liaison. “Residents’ feedback will be thoughtfully considered when final decisions are made about safety improvements.”

After a brief presentation, residents will have the opportunity to provide input in seven breakout rooms where small group discussions will occur about each roadway and proposed safety improvements.  Pre-registration is required to join one of the following seven breakout groups:

  • Finderne Avenue/Main Street in Bridgewater Township
  • Franklin Boulevard in Franklin Township
  • Greenbrook Road in North Plainfield Borough
  • Somerset Street in Raritan Borough
  • Main Street in Millstone Borough
  • Spanish Language group
  • General Group to discuss broad transportation topics

To pre-register, click on the following link https://somersetcountyroadsafety.eventbrite.com.  Residents who cannot attend the virtual meeting can submit comments online at www.co.somerset.nj.us/roadway-safety-study, or email SCroadwaysafetystudy@co.somerset.nj.us. For those who have special-need and need assistance, contact Jessica Ortiz at 917-933-7440, or email jortiz@fhiplan.com .

For more information contact Director Walter C. Lane, AICP/PP at 908-231-7021 or email PlanningBd@co.somerset.nj.us.

Funding for Roadway Safety Study

The Somerset County Roadway Safety Study is funded by a grant from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJPTA) through a sub-regional study program. For more details about the Roadway Safety Study, visit http://bit.ly/RoadwaySafety2020

 

Somerset County Planning Division
The Somerset County Planning Division helps government officials, business leaders, and citizens create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live by positively influencing the process of growth and change in the county. The county’s Planning Division also helps build an optimum living and working environment for residents and employers, by protecting the natural environment and preserving the county’s rich history, farmland and natural beauty.

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts at www.co.somerset.nj.us/subscribe or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Somerset County Accepting Submissions for Senior Art Show

News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director | Sara Sooy, Commissioner Deputy Director

Melonie Marano, Commissioner | Paul Drake, Commissioner | Doug Singleterry, Commissioner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2021

Somerset County Accepting Submissions for Senior Art Show

Entry Deadline for Artwork Is Aug. 31

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission is accepting submissions for its 2021 annual senior art show to be held from Sept. 13 to Oct 22. This year, the exhibition will be displayed in the County Administration Building and virtually on the Somerset County website.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing the artwork created this year. Somerset County has a wealth of extraordinarily talented persons originating an array of interesting pieces using a variety of mediums,” said Somerset County Commissioner Melonie Marano, Cultural & Heritage liaison. “Creativity and talent thrive at all ages in Somerset County.”

Artists can choose to have their artwork displayed in the virtual gallery only, or in both the virtual and live, in-person galleries. First-place winners will automatically be entered into the State Senior Art Show, which will be held virtually beginning Oct. 29 until the end of the year.

Eligibility and Submission Requirements

To be eligible, artists must be a resident of Somerset County and at least 60-years of age.

Entrants may submit artwork in watercolors, oils, acrylics, digital/computer art, photography, pastels, drawings, mixed media, sculpture and printmaking.

 

All entrants must submit a photo of their work online so they can be juried for the State Art Show. Only one photo of artwork per artist will be accepted. Artwork that was created more than three years ago or has previously been submitted to the Somerset County Senior Art Show will not be accepted. The deadline to register and submit artwork is Tuesday, Aug. 31.

To submit photos of artwork, visit https://bit.ly/SeniorArtShowApp2021. If applicants experience technical difficulties when submitting their artwork, contact the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Office at 908-231-7110 or send an email to CulturalHeritage@co.somerset.nj.us.

For more information about the 2021 Senior Art Show, visit https://bit.ly/SeniorArtShowInfo.

Annual Somerset County Senior Art Show

The senior art exhibit is co-sponsored by the Somerset County Office on Aging and Disability Services and made possible by funds from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission

The Somerset County Cultural Heritage Commission (SCC&HC) is a nine-member committee, appointed by the Somerset County Commissioners, who are responsible for developing county programs that promote public interest in local and county history, the arts, cultural values and goals, as well as traditions of the community, state and nation.

 

The SCC&HC is committed to facilitating equal access to programs, services and resources for all people without regard to age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical disability.

 

To stay up to date with Somerset County events and information, sign up for free email alerts at www.co.somerset.nj.us/subscribe or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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