Asking legislators to make

a smart choice … soon

a smart choice … soon

A proposed tax reform bill being supported in some towns in Middlesex County is worth a look by state legislators as one potential alternative for solving our state’s tax woes.

The New Jersey Coalition for Property Tax Reform, a nonpartisan citizen group, is lobbying for passage of a bill that it says would cut the school portion of property taxes by as much as 90 percent, shifting the burden to fund education over to income taxes instead.

The argument is that the SMART (Save Money And Reform Taxes) Bill takes a situation in which more and more people are struggling to pay skyrocketing school taxes and creates a system that is based almost entirely on one’s ability to pay.

The SMART Bill may or may not be the remedy to the property tax problem, and it may not be the answer to the question of how best to fund education, but it warrants the attention of state legislators.

Property taxes have been increasing sharply over the last several years in part because of a financial crisis at the state level. The state has continuously frozen municipal and school aid, forcing local school districts and municipalities to pass along to residents the increasing cost of maintaining existing programs and staff positions. It has also caused many school districts to eliminate much-desired programs and positions.

It is clear that New Jersey’s current system is not the best way to fund education. To that end, many legislators have supported holding a constitutional convention to address the issue of property tax reform. However, government officials have so far been unable to even get the convention added as a question on the November ballot.

If it is placed on the ballot next year and passed by the public, the convention would begin in April 2005, following the election of delegates. By August 2005, if delegates have a proposal ready, a reform proposal would go up for a vote in the next general election, November 2005.

This process is ultimately designed to amend the state constitution and change the way education is funded. It will not be taken lightly, and will take time.

While officials should continue to push toward a constitutional convention, they should also look at the SMART Bill as a potential alternative.

Some call the bill a "Band-Aid" solution, but such a fix may be needed to keep municipalities from slowly bleeding to death with each rising tax point.


Patricia J. Ludington Baron

Obituaries Patricia J. Ludington Baron

Mrs. Baron, 63, of the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge died Oct. 6 in Bayshore Community Hospital, Holmdel. Prior to her retirement in 1991, she was employed at MCC Data Entry, Aberdeen, where she worked for five years. Her husband, Joseph L. Baron, died in 1982. Surviving are a son, Joseph Baron of Edison, and a daughter, Nancy Baron of Laurence Harbor. Arrangements were under the direction of Day Funeral Home, Keyport. Cremation was private.

John H. Stockel

Mr. Stockel, 68, of Matawan died Sept. 28 at home. Born in Metuchen, he resided there prior to moving to Matawan 40 years ago. He was an attorney in private practice. He served as president of the Middlesex County Bar Association from 1973-74; secretary of the New Jersey Supreme Court Ethics Committee; and special deputy attorney general in the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. He was also the attorney for the Matawan Planning Board and Aberdeen PBA Local No. 163. His memberships included the New Jersey State Bar Association, Middlesex County Bar Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He was a recipient of the New Jersey State PBA Silver Life Card for his dedication and the work he performed for the PBA. He enjoyed spending time with his family, fishing, travel and horse racing. He was predeceased by his wife, Gail Brennan Stockel in 1999. He is survived by two sons, Capt. John B. Stockel, USN/MC of Woodstock, Md., and Kevin B. Stockel of Boynton Beach, Fla.; his daughter and son-in-law, Sharon A. and Steven McCoy of Matawan; and seven grandchildren. Arrangements were by Day Funeral Home, Keyport.

Harold Decker

Mr. Decker, 70, of Avenel died Sept. 25 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, Edison. Born in Jersey City, he resided in Avenel for 38 years. Mr. Decker was employed as a printer with L & N Printing in Linden for 47 years and was then employed as a school bus driver for Howard Bus Co. and the Woodbridge Township Board of Education for the past five years. He was an Army veteran of World War II. Mr. Decker was predeceased by his parents, Charles F. and Gladys Eastman Decker; and a son, Kenneth Nichols. He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Rose Barry Decker; two daughters, Dawn Loxton of North Carolina and Vikki Faller of Pennsylvania; four sons, Harold Decker of Avenel, Michael Nichols of Far Hills, Mark Nichols of Whitehouse Station; and Kevin Nichols of Randolph; and 18 grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Funeral services were held at Costello-Koyen Funeral Home, Avenel. Interment was at Rosedale Cemetery in Linden.

Steven D. Domenick

Mr. Domenick, 50, of Aberdeen died Oct. 7 at Bayshore Community Hospital, Holmdel. Born in Angola, Ind., he resided in Jersey City and the Fords section of Woodbridge prior to moving to Aberdeen in 1979. He was sales manager, motor fuels sales at Amerada Hess, Woodbridge, for 30 years. He coached baseball and soccer for leagues in Matawan and Aberdeen. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Kramer Domenick; his parents, Samuel and Honey Kopf Domenick of Fords; three daughters and one son, Jennifer, Stephanie, Samantha and Bryan Domenick, all at home; a brother and sister-in-law, Jeffrey and Michele Domenick of Wall; and a sister, Suzy Domenick of Freehold. Interment was at St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Keyport. Arrangements were by Day Funeral Home, Keyport. Memorial donations may be made to the Steven Domenick Trust Fund, c/o Suzy Domenick, 72 Hull Ave., Freehold 07728.

James W. Szmyd

Mr. Szmyd, 51, of Lackawaxen, Pa., died Sept. 24 at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical Center in Newark. Born in Newark, he resided in Avenel and Carteret before moving to Lackawaxen one year ago. Mr. Szmyd was employed as a shipping and receiving manager with White Rose Foods, Woodbridge, for eight years. He was predeceased by his parents, Peter and Helen Debulis Szymd. Surviving are three brothers, Raymond Szmyd of Pennsylvania, Larry of Carteret, and Edward of Delaware; and two nephews. A funeral Mass was offered at St. Andrew’s Church, Avenel, followed by interment at St. Gertrude Cemetery, Colonia.

To our readers

Sentinel staff hopes to build newspaper into an institution, with some help from our readers
Alison Granito
News and Views

To our readers Sentinel staff hopes to build newspaper into an institution, with some help from our readers Alison Granito News and Views

Sentinel staff hopes to build newspaper into an institution, with some help from our readers
Alison Granito
News and Views

Welcome to the Edison/Metuchen Sentinel.

Our goal is to become a part of your weekly routine. We know we have a tough road ahead of us and that we will have to earn your trust over time, but we are confident that, after a while, the Sentinel will join the ranks of the best community newspapers out there and you will look forward to reading it each week.

Here at Greater Media, we believe that local municipal and school news stories — and top-notch local sports coverage — are only part of the foundation of a good community newspaper. We place just as much emphasis on bringing our readers features about the people, places and events that make Edison and Metuchen special and unique places to live.

In order to do that, we need you. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Or, if you happen to think of us the next time you are tapping away at the computer, send us an e-mail to tell us know what is going on in your neighborhood. Often, some of our best story ideas come not from reporters and editors, but straight from an average reader who picks up the phone and says, "I’ve never called the newspaper before, but I know of something…"

If you know of an upcoming community event that you think deserves coverage, or would like to get the word out on an event so others can join you, we’re more than happy to help.

Clubs and nonprofit groups are encouraged to send us news of upcoming events.

You can reach me by e-mail at and by fax at (732) 780-4192. You can also call me directly with news tips or feedback on the paper at (732) 358-5200, ext. 8313. I answer my own phone, and look forward to speaking with many of you in the weeks to come.

As a service to you, we provide a forum to share important social events in your life — such as engagements, marriages, birth announcements, and milestone wedding anniversaries — with the community. We also publish announcements on dean’s list honors, scholastic achievements, military service, business announcements and other community honors. Call the Sentinel’s editorial assistant, Lucille Price, at (732) 358-5200, ext. 8314, to request a form to fill out. All of our services are free of charge.

Although we promise to try our best to capture the spirit of the community in our news pages, sometimes nobody can say it better than you.

We will publish letters-to-the-editor every week on the editorial page. However, those who would like to have their submissions considered for publication do have to follow our ground rules.

In general, letters should be kept to about 250 words, although we sometimes will run longer submissions as guest columns.

We promise to always run letters that fairly represent the differences of opinion among our readers, even when they disagree with us. However all submissions are subject to editing for length, as well as grammar, spelling and libelous content.

We have Monday production deadlines for our Wednesday paper, so if your submissions are time sensitive, please get them to us as early as possible.

I hope you found the first issue of the Sentinel interesting and informative — and that you like the next one even better.

Carriers should ensure delivery of packages

I have been hearing a lot in the news lately about missing packages from people’s front porches. The carriers who deliver the packages can solve this problem.

For example, as it is now, the delivery person sets the package on the front porch and rings the doorbell. The carrier does not wait to see if the customer is at home. Whatever happened to making sure the customer gets the shipment? There have been times when I was doing something upstairs and by the time I get downstairs the delivery person is in the truck already. In some cases, the customer may not be at home. Is it too much effort to go next door and leave the package with someone?

In conclusion, there is a solution to this problem and if the carriers (UPS, FedEx, DHL etc.) would finish doing the job by making sure the shipment actually gets into the customer’s hands then there would not be any problems.

Whatever happened to customer service?

Michael Hart North Brunswick

Sentinel pledges to serve our readers

Sentinel pledges to
serve our readers

Welcome to the first edition of the Edison/Metuchen Sentinel — your newest neighbor and connection to the local news that readers across New Jersey tell us they most desire.

Although we are new to the community, this newspaper is published by Greater Media Newspapers, a growing professional newspaper company with journalistic roots going back more than 100 years in Central Jersey. Perhaps you are familiar with some of our other newspapers: the Suburban, for example, which has served the Old Bridge area for nearly 40 years, or the East Brunswick Sentinel, which has served the nearby communities of East Brunswick, Helmetta, Jamesburg, Milltown, Monroe, South River and Spotswood for more than 80 years. If not those publications, then you’ve likely seen one of the other eight local newspapers we publish. The number of local newspapers we produce makes us one of the most experienced and recognized news organizations in the state and one of the largest, with a cumulative weekly circulation of more than 300,000 homes.

We know our readers. We know our communities. And we know our state. We know local news, and how to provide it.

We realize that Edison/Metuchen is a competitive newspaper market, and a vibrant community — and that is what is so exciting about this new venture.

You’ve heard the promises before: "Read our paper, and we’ll give you all the news you need, and lots more that you didn’t know you needed!" No doubt you’ve been disappointed.

We won’t make those promises. From us, you’ll only have our solemn professional pledge: every week we will provide you with the most comprehensive and trustworthy package of local news available, and we’ll do it for free.

All you have to do is give us a few weeks to prove ourselves, and we believe you’ll agree that the Sentinel is the best local news product in the market.

Please remember this is your newspaper, and the more involvement you have in its production, the more integral we will be in your community.

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find information about how to get your news in the Sentinel and whom to call with a news tip or story idea.

We invite you to make the Sentinel your community forum and to help us make the premier edition of the Sentinel the start of a long and rewarding relationship.