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East Orange Council Remembers Municipal Clerk Garry Branch

East_Orange_City_Hall1EAST ORANGE - Although the entire East Orange City Council discussed upgrading private property maintenance enforcement, among other topics, at their July 9 committee meeting, their thoughts kept coming back to memories of the late Assistant Municipal Clerk Garry Branch.

Those thoughts would be later expressed by those who paid final respects to Branch, 56, at Newark's Pilgrim Baptist Church during his July 9 evening visitation and the following 11 a.m. July 11 funeral.

Fourth Ward Councilman William C. Holt, one of five scheduled speakers during the July 11 celebration of life, recalled how Branch would usually conduct his business in East Orange City Hall.

"One of my constituents told me that she once went to the clerk's office with a question," said Holt before a near-capacity Pilgrim sanctuary July 11. "He would provide a prompt answer. He told me, "I provide a service to the citizens and residents.' He had a way of sizing you up, told you what he thought of you and made you like him."

Branch died from complications of a lengthy illness July 5. He had passed his official 20th anniversary of being employed in the city clerk's office last April.

Garry Branch was actually born a Newark native, to Baxter Terrace residents Esau and Helen Branch, Feb. 5, 1956. The Branch family would include brothers Charles and Melvin plus sisters Helen and Glenda.

Branch, who was promoted from the nearby Burnet Street School, was first known for his singing. He found his tenor baritone voice while attending Central High School and continued signing while a Pilgrim Baptist member.

"Garry was part of Pilgrim's traveling choir, which has gone as far as North Carolina," said Mt. Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Ralph Branch, who presided over the July 11 celebration. "One can listen to a voice and whether the singer has everything technically right and the spirit. Gary had the spirit."

The CHS Class of 1974 graduate's clerical and managerial skills took longer to appear. The Ramapo College of N.J. and New York's New School for Social Research attendee had an early developed work ethic, going back to when he do odd jobs for Crest Drugs on Orange Street and for neighbors. Branch's early resume included stints as an assistant store manager of Radio Shack's World Trade Center store, a Home Liquors manager and as an AIDS Research Assistant at Rutgers University.

It was when Branch volunteered to work in then-City Clerk Constance L. Newton's office in late 1991 that his skills and experiences melded together. Newton offered Branch a job as clerk-typist, which he accepted. Branch would soon be promoted to senior clerk-typist and assistant municipal clerk by 1997.

Branch became a key supporter of current City Clerk Cynthia Brown. The sole male in an office of eight, Branch became known for his professional service and good nature. He also was a past president of Communication Workers of America Local 1077's executive board as well as being on several Pilgrim Baptist committees.

Mayor Robert L. Bowser appointed Branch to assistant municipal clerk in November 1998.

"I remember Garry in those last few months, going to work and then to the hospital," said Holt. "On July 5, when the Lord told him in the hospital, 'It's time,' he went.

Branch's remains were buried in Bloomfield's Glendale Cemetery. Sisters Helen and Glenda Branch-Trott, and aunt and uncle plus a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends are among Branch's survivors. His parents plus brothers Charles and Melvin predeceased him.

Many of the 11 City Hall Council Chamber gallery audience members first learned of Branch's passing July 9 at the meeting's start. Council President Quilla Talmadge particularly mentioned his name while calling for a moment of silence.

Talmadge, Holt and their colleagues continued with city matters - including a discussion on how best to enforce private property maintenance codes. The 10-minute discussion opened with First Ward Councilman Jamal Barnes asking Public Works Committee Chairman Holt about who and how best to approach a property's overgrown weed situation.

"There's one property that has a five-foot-tall fence," said Barnes. "The weeds have grown above the fence."

"I think we all have certain properties with overgrown conditions," added Second Ward Councilwoman Jacquelyn Johnson. "I have a block where one half its lots are empty."

The discussion brought up one of two enforcement approaches; either fine delinquent property owners more frequently or raise the fine penalty.

"We may have to look at increasing the fine," said First Ward Councilwoman Andrea McPhatter. "If a landlord owns five or six properties here or elsewhere, he or she may consider a $50 fine, even is the case is brought before the municipal court every three to six months, as a slap on the wrist."

Holt said that he would look at both approaches with the city's police and code enforcement departments. The council's next meeting is set for 6 p.m. July 16.

East Orange General Hospital Hosts Fourth Annual Men's Health Fair

DSC_05911EAST ORANGE - East Orange General Hospital's Annual Men's Health Fair, which was held here June 22, continues to grow in terms of positive reviews and services.

"We're not finished adding up the numbers," said hospital spokeswoman Leslie Eaddy to "Local Talk" about the fourth edition June 27, "but we're getting more people by word of mouth. It used to be that men were first taken aback about a health fair focused on them. Now we have more families - generations of men - coming in at the same time."

The fair, during a 90-minute tour of the hospital's Essex Valley Medical Arts Building by "Local Talk," does cater to men's health issues. There were prostate screenings available in one office and a table on testicular cancer present on another part of the three-story building to the hospital's west.

"Local Talk," however, noticed that there were women and children who accompanied some of the men who took advantage of the 16 services or exhibited displays. There also seemed to be more people walking about in the building's hallways while the event's three hours went along.

"We're crazy busy," said the receptionist for podiatrists Drs. Bruce Thrall and Samuel Adegboyega in their third floor waiting room at about 10:30 a.m. "There are twice as many people making appointments than what we usually have."


First United Tabernacle Church Hosts Friends & Family Day


DSC_06291ORANGE - On June 24, 2012, the First United Tabernacle Church held a Friends and Family Day at 425 South Jefferson Street in Orange, NJ. The program started with Sunday School at 9:30 am and at 10:45 am there was the Ministry of Praise and Worship with Presiding Minister Bernard Gray Sr. The topic being discussed at the event was “The Great Day of God's Judgment: Standing At Your Account.”

            Greetings were given by Outreach President Minister Howard McClymont. Anointed spoken words were presented by Eldre E. Bertram-Oneness Apostolic Church of New York.
            After a prayer hymn, “Thank You Lord,” a bit of the scripture read by Missionary Chastity Thompson (Jude 1-24, Rev. 20:11-12). The First United Tabernacle Church Mass Choir sang "Oh Happy Day" and "Behold".

            A "Mission Report" was presented by Cheryl L. McClymont, which gave information on the health fair and health education to the community and the food pantry, which is done with a great degree of confidentiality, distributing bread, rice, canned foods and more every 4th Saturday of each month with a free hot lunch. Also in the report was the nursing home ministry, spiritual guidance to elderly, summer camp, spiritual and physical needs of the participants, and the Annual Thanksgiving Dinner.

Rev. Faulknor said, "We are in Orange since last 27 years. We were originally at 32-34 Webster Place. We are married 32 years.


East Orange General Hospital Honors Football Star Eric Legrand

DSC_01191East Orange General Hospital is providing fully accredited acute-care provider as the only independent hospital in the region. Under the leadership of dynamic leader Kevin Slavin, it changes its style of servicing the community according to what the community needs. Since Kevin Slavin became President of East Orange General Hospital eight years ago, the EOGH administration came to the community to find out the problems, ask questions and hear suggestions from the community. Rather than working with medical professionals only, EOGH has worked the other way around. They placed the community and its problems first and worked their success around their needs.

Slavin said, “Since our last Ball of the Oranges, I’m proud to tell you that our Electronic Health Records initiative has made huge strides and put us in a category with just 8 percent of the hospitals nationwide to have achieved meaningful progress in going paperless. We are well along to automating all patient-related information in order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and ensure continuity of care by providing easier and faster access to patient records.


Money is No God For Muslims

kenneth-gibsonOn July 29th there will be an inauguration of the new Masjid at 257 South Orange Avenue. This new building will be adjacent to the old Masjid, where people used to worship regularly for decades. The new building will accommodate a worship center (prayer room) and a school for grades K-12. Imam Akbar Muhammad did not lose hope to build a Masjid, and after a long struggle he has succeeded. “The old building of the Masjid will have a shopping center with basement floor for parking and two floors of shopping and the top floor for the banquet hall,” said Imam.

The Imam is organizing an event for the fundraising program “Manifestation of Allah’s Will” at Robert Treat Hotel in Newark on July 29th, 2011. They will honor a community leader and Muslim legend, Carolyn Kelly-Shabazz. The guest speaker will be the first African American mayor of the city of Newark, Kenneth A. Gibson.  I took an interview with both leaders.


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