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NEW FACE ON THE CITY COUNCIL – In a 5-3 City Council vote, Jermaine Robinson was named last weekend to fill the Ward F council seat vacated when Diane Coleman resigned in December. The council met at a rare Saturday special meeting on Jan. 21 to meet the deadline for filling the seat. Coleman resigned after being voted as county register. The council had 30 days to pick her replacement or leave the seat vacant until November. Robinson, who ran on the ticket headed by then Mayor Jerramiah Healy in 2013, lost to Coleman in a run-off election. Council members Michael Yun, Richard Boggiano and Chris Gadsden voted against Robinson, who will sit as councilman until a new Ward F council person is elected in November.

Lavarro makes appointments to Immigrant Affairs Commission

Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro has announced the appointment of the first three of a nine-member Immigrant Affairs Commission (IAC), the first commission of its kind in New Jersey, which would advise Jersey City government on issues affecting immigrants including civil and human rights, social services, education, and business development (see related cover story).

This announcement comes on the heels of President Trump’s executive orders to construct a multibillion-dollar wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to strip federal funding from “sanctuary” states, and an imminent ban on entry of refugees from war-torn Syria and any immigrants from certain Muslim-majority Middle Eastern and African countries.

“The inaugural members of the Immigration Affairs Commission are exceptional, unwavering, and leading advocates for immigrant communities,” said Lavarro. “Given President Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and values, which have fanned the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment at an alarming scale, this commission will be valuable in evaluating the impact of certain national policies to the most diverse city in the nation and ensuring that Jersey City protects all its residents from hate and prejudice.”

The IAC appointees are all Jersey City residents and will serve without compensation. The first three appointees are Juan Caragena, Ahmed Yehya Shedeed, and Hamel Vyas.

Lavarro and Mayor Steven Fulop have called for applicants and will select qualified appointees to fill the nine-member advisory body. Fulop intends to submit these appointments to the council for its approval at its Feb. 8 meeting.

Freeholders accept grant to support sexual assault response program

The Board of Freeholders has approved the acceptance of $117,279 in grant funds, if awarded, for the Sexual Assault Nursing Examiners and the Sexual Assault Response Team Program.

These grant funds are to be utilized to address the physical, emotional and psychological needs of sexual assault victims by reducing victimization, ensuring compassionate, sensitive and comprehensive delivery of multi-disciplinary services in a non-judgmental victim center.

The Grant Program will commence from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

JCMC hosts Give Kids a Smile

Jersey City Medical Center, an RWJ Barnabas Health facility, will host Give Kids a Smile, on Friday, Feb. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the hospital’s dental clinic at 418 Summit Ave. Hospital staff, dentists and hygienists will provide free dental care to children of underserved families, ages three to 15.

Give Kids a Smile is intended to raise awareness of the epidemic of untreated dental disease occurring locally and nationally and by creating local public and private partnerships increase access to oral health care that will help solve this crisis.

The New Jersey Dental Association has been organizing Give Kids a Smile events for 14 years in the community as a way to provide free dental care to local children who desperately need it.

Nimbus Dance Works gets $15K grant for educational programs

Nimbus Dance Works has announced it has received a grant of $15,000 from a local foundation which chooses to remain unnamed. The funds will support scholarships for youth ages 2-18 to attend the School of Nimbus Dance Works, including the School’s Pre-Professional Program, Nimbus Youth Ensemble, and Junior Youth Ensemble. Additionally, the funds will support JC Grooves, an after-school program serving middle school youth in the Jersey City Public Schools shuttered in 2011 due to lack of funds. The JC Grooves program has been inactive since 2011 when it was shelved due to lack of funding.

The Nimbus programs offer rigorous and technical dance training to diverse local youth who seek a professionally-oriented dance experience. Additionally, Opportunity Knocks – a program hosted by St. Peter’s University directed by Dr. Edgar Rivera Colon, provides dance students with ongoing interpersonal and professional skills by exploring topics related to college preparation, time management, health education, and general self-development.

School of Nimbus Dance Works students have a strong track record of entrance to the area’s top high school and college dance programs, including: Montclair State University, NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, High Tech High School, County Prep High School, and others.

Nimbus Dance Works serves over 1,100 youth each year in the Jersey City Schools with ongoing dance programs during-school and after-school.

Nimbus Dance Works offers need-based and merit-based scholarships at its school. Students 9 years and over who wish to apply for a scholarship should attend the Scholarship Audition on Feb. 5: 3-4 p.m.; for ages 9-12; 4-6 p.m. for ages 13-18. Students 8 years and under should contact the office for a scholarship application: school@nimbusdanceworks.org or (201) 377-0718.

Sphere appoints new chief information security officers

Jersey City-based Sphere Technology Solutions, a woman-owned cybersecurity firm, has announced the appointment of Michael Mihalik as chief information security officer.

Mihalik brings over 15 years of experience in the information technology field, with a diverse background working in a wide range of governance, security, and business intelligence leadership roles. His years of success have allowed him to acquire the hands-on experience necessary to ensure success within senior IT leadership roles, the company’s announcement said. 

“I joined Sphere Technology Solutions because of their reputation, their mission, and their vision for the future in providing critical services, especially pertaining to the many regulatory policies on the horizon,” said Mihalik. “This is an opportunity to truly differentiate what SPHERE does, and I am happy to be part of this growing organization.”

More information on SPHERE’s CISO as a service can be found by going to www.sphereco.com/ciso-as-a-service/

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