Women Networking Shamelessly

`I’m just a walking Rolodex," says Terri Petry of County Woman Newspapers. "I meet people and listen to them and I’m always saying `I know someone who can help you with that.’"

Petry has decided to put her talent for networking to work by organizing a new networking group in Mercer County. But this group, she says, is a little different from the other groups in the area.

"Shameless networking" is the goal of the new group, which is named WIN, for Women Interested in Networking. The group meets once a month. The next meeting is Thursday, July 20, at noon, at Tiffany’s Restaurant in Hamilton. Cost: $12. Call 609-890-4054 for more information or reservations.

Petry holds the licensing agreement for County Woman Newspapers in Burlington and Mercer counties. There are about 330 similar papers throughout the country, each individually owned. The Mercer County Woman and the Burlington County Woman are free publications that feature medical and health information for women as well as a mix of other news, such as home and garden, business and financial, legal and food. Published six times a year, the papers are distributed through doctors’ offices, medical centers, and libraries.

She started the newspapers after 20 years of experience in sales, working first for the Yellow Pages, then Merck, and finally as sales manager for a national real estate publication. "I increased their advertising by 400 percent in three years," she says. "Then I looked around and decided I’m making this money for everyone else. I want to make it for myself."

Petry developed her idea for WIN after attending a similar meeting in Cherry Hill called "The Good Old Girls Network."

"After going to just one of those meetings I walked away with five new clients and had hired two new people," she says. "That’s what I call successful networking."

Petry was so impressed that she enlisted two friends, Christina Nash, of David Lerner and Associates, and Josie Pizzolato, of the Loup Group, a Princeton Junction-based web design company, to help coordinate details such as flyers announcing the meetings, reservations, and a database.

The database is one of the important features of WIN, says Petry. At each meeting everyone is asked to write a short description of her "ideal client" on the back of a business card and turn it in. The cards are then scanned and E-mailed to everyone who was at the luncheon. "How often do you go to a networking event, have a great conversation with someone, and then either forget to collect their card or just can’t find it later?" says Petry. The E-mailed cards make it easy to find those people and make connections later.

WIN is a natural for Petry. "I’m all about networking," she says. She attends networking events for a number of reasons. Promoting her newspapers not only helps her business, but it also "helps to promote my clients, the people who run ads and write articles in them," she says. Petry has also started a second business, BarterXchange of Mercer County. She sees the new business, which she is founding with partner Copley Szostach, as an extension of her networking skills.

Bartering is just another form of networking, and since there was no organized bartering group in Mercer County, Petry decided to start her own. She and Szostach plan to lease a building in the Hamilton area in the next few months and to hire a coordinator to man the phones and set up the exchanges.

With so many business organizations already established in the county, with people constantly complaining about their lack of time, why did Petry think that a new business group would be successful?

"Because there are a lot of women out there who are in business but have no desire to be part of an organized group," she says. "They are crunched for time and WIN lets them get in, network, and get back to business." The fact that the group meets during the lunch hour is also attractive to many women, she adds. Women with children to pack off to school in the morning often can’t make meetings during the breakfast hour. At night those same women are busy with their children’s homework or sports events.

"WIN isn’t like other referral marketing groups," she says. "There are no dues to pay and no other obligations. People can pop in when they have the time, but if it is a busy month they don’t have to feel obligated to come. There are no penalties." The fee to attend a meeting is strictly the cost of the lunch.

"Most networking meetings are not all that successful," she says. "I attend a lot of networking events, and I’d say that I get results at less than 50 percent of them. Everyone has a limited amount of time and money to invest in these type of things and they have to be worthwhile financially. I’d rather spend time with my family than be at a networking event for business. When it’s crunch time and you decide what you are going to attend, that’s the bottom line. Is it successful for me?"

The first WIN meeting was held in April with 20 women in attendance. The second and third meetings, in May and June, have attracted even more people, she says. Each meeting consists of free networking time, a buffet lunch, and time for each person to stand up and give a "30-second commercial" about themselves. "That’s it," says Petry. "We don’t have any speakers. We don’t have any lectures about how to do business – just shameless networking."

Networking, she says, is really the best way for anyone to do business. "The difference between `networking’ and `not working’ is only one letter," she says. "If you aren’t networking, you just aren’t working."

– Karen Hodges Miller

Jobseekers: Market Yourself

The idea of "selling yourself" has been a fundamental step on the road of success for over 30 years. In 1969 Joe McGinniss wrote "The Selling of the President." A national bestseller back then, it is still being used in university-level government classes to this day. It describes the then-unheard-of Madison Avenue approach to marketing and selling presidential candidate Richard Nixon to voters by using the same hard-sell method commonly used to sell sports cars, deodorant, and beer.

"It is a fact that searching for a job is really about selling yourself," says Ruth Scott, who worked in sales and marketing for over two decades with Prudential, and who now serves as a volunteer with the Princeton Area Community Foundation. "It’s all about sales, networking, selling yourself through your resume, as well as presenting yourself well during the interview. These are the three key elements of landing a position."

Scott speaks at the next meeting of JobSeekers, a networking and support group for those immersed in the job search, on Tuesday, July 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Church, at 33 Mercer Street. There is no charge. For more information call 609-924-2277.

Scott knows what employers look for in a job candidate. "Working with Prudential, basically, I was charged with selling, marketing, and servicing financial products to the consumer," she says. "As a part of my job I’ve had deep experience in selecting, developing, and sometimes terminating staff. My experience really comes from the employer’s side. I know what to look for in an employee, how to match up skill sets, strengths, and opportunities to meet our needs."

While some may bristle at the idea of presenting oneself to potential employers in the same way that, say, Budweiser is peddled to sports fans, Scott says that in a consumer society such as ours, it is important to show yourself to employers in the best light, as the best person for the position – and to do so quickly. "There isn’t anything really new about this," says Scott. "In an environment where there are many skilled applicants for each position in the marketplace, you must learn to distinguish yourself from the rest of them."

While for many jobseekers, time is of the essence, it is important to take the time to do things to your best advantage. Rather than sending out (or E-mailing) a blanket, all-purposes resume to a variety of potential employers (still a surprisingly common practice), Scott says that jobseekers up their chances for success by doing research on companies, corporations, market-trends, competitors, and business history, and customizing each resume to each employer.

"In a competitive job market, applicants need to be savvy," she says. "When your competitors have similar backgrounds, skills, and experiences as you, then it is up to you to make the sale, so to speak, and fit yourself to what the employer is looking for."

Of course, gaining an interview is the goal in creating a cover letter and resume. While it is no secret that making a positive impression is an important part of the interview process, Scott says that she has noticed a general tendency for interviewees to take a too casual approach to these vital documents. "I suppose it is due to the idea of business casual and the general casualness that corporate America operates today on some level," she says. "But I have noticed a certain erosion of that kind of professionalism when compared to the 1980s and 1990s."

She says that jobseekers can take advantage of this general trend by being more formal and professional looking than their competitors. She recommends that jobseekers set aside the concept of business casual and present themselves a bit more formally until after they have been hired for the job. "While it depends a bit on the kind of company you are interviewing with, it is better to err on the side of too formal than too casual," she says. "Then you can adjust yourself to the general manner of doing things after you have been working there awhile."

Born and raised in Lexington, Mississippi, Scott received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana. After working for Prudential from California to Maryland to New York and then New Jersey, she finally settled down in Princeton in 1996. She uses her corporate skills in her volunteer work by recruiting board members, fundraising, governance, and clarifying and working to realize its mission.

While a job search is rarely easy, it can be successful sooner if job seekers are smart about the process. Scott offers these tips:

Leave home. While some jobseekers are hesitant to get out of the house, staying at home won’t get you anywhere. Scott advises that networking can be a major part of the successful job search. "It is hard work, but you have to be vigilant about making contacts, as well as follow-ups and follow-throughs," she says. "You never know who you are going to meet who may help you out. If you are perceived as a `do-er’ by people around you, that can lead to opportunities you would not have found any other way."

Accentuate the positive. The resume and cover letter are your first tools to presenting yourself as the right person for the position. Be careful not to offer anything that will not present you in the most favorable light. View these tools as a kind of advertising technique similar to a car commercial or a soft drink ad.

Sports car commercials talk about the sleek ride you’ll have, but not about the miserable mileage you’ll get. Soda ads talk about how refreshing the drinks are on a hot summer day, not about how there is enough acid inside the bottle to disintegrate a nail.

Come across as a star. According to Scott, personal presence, displayed during an initial interview, can easily carry the day. "You only have one opportunity to make a good impression," she says. "There are a lot of other things that you can get a second chance at, but that first interview isn’t one of them. Having confidence and the ability to communicate the qualities that a potential employer wants is the key to success."

Leave money talk on the back burner. Many interviewees are simply confounded about the proper time to ask about salary and benefits. Scott recommends that jobseekers take a wait and see approach.

"If the salary range is not communicated upfront, and you feel that you are getting to the end of the interview and are feeling good about your prospects, it is appropriate to ask about salary," she says. "Just make sure not to ask too early, before you have made a real connection and feel that a potential offer may be made." Also, when discussing salary, it is better to refer to a general range rather than trying to lock down a specific number. "Almost everything is negotiable," says Scott.

Always follow through. "I encourage jobseekers to make follow-up calls after sending in a resume or after an interview," says Scott. "They will probably tell you to go away, that they are still in the interview process, and they are not prepared to speak to you. But it is still a good thing. I don’t think that you can be too assertive when you are trying to land that next job opportunity."

Scott stresses that taking getting into a mindset of "selling yourself" to potential employers is the best way to mentally prepare for success.

"If you can put yourself in the employers’ shoes and see the needs that they have, then you can present yourself as the person who can fill their needs," she says. It is as important now in 2006 as it was in 1968, even if you are not running for president.

– Jack Florek

How Minority Firms Can Win Business From Big Firms

When a smaller firm owned by a woman, minority, or disabled vet, wants to develop a relationship with a large organization like Educational Testing Service (ETS) that sells its services nationally, says Art Gelvin, executive director of finance corporate supplier management at ETS, the first thing the firm should do is to get certified in multiple states.

Multi-state certification just makes things easier for a firm like ETS, which must fulfill both federal and state government mandates to grant a specified amount or percentage of business to diverse firms. But ETS must know from the get go who is and is not a diverse firm and for which states a business is certified. "Then we don’t have to do due diligence for each new state," says Gelvin. "A company must be certified as a diverse business to have dollars count," that is, count toward each company’s quota for awarding work to minority-owned companies.

Although formerly companies could be self-certified, now the certification must come through an independent agency. Minorities generally apply to the local branch of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). Its certification process uses a combination of screenings, interviews, and site visits to ensure that minority businesses are at least 51 percent owned, operated, and controlled by Asians, African Americans, Hispanics, or Native Americans.

A concern is said to be minority-owned if it is at least 51 percent owned by minorities. A business is minority-controlled if minorities own at least 30 percent of a firm’s economic equity, and these owners also control day-to-day operations, retain a majority of voting equity, and operationally control the board of directors.

To get certification for women-owned businesses, companies go to the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. The certification group for firms owned by disabled veterans is the Association for Service Disabled Veterans. For government opportunities, firms often use the Small Business Administration.

Gelvin speaks at "Meet the Purchasing Manager: A Procurement Conference," on Wednesday, July 26, at 8 a.m. at the New Jersey Hospital Association’s Conference Center at 760 Alexander Road. The meeting is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Technology Council, the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Metropolitan Trenton African-American Chamber of Commerce. Cost: $100 for nonmembers. For more information and to register, visit www.njtc.org or call 856- 787-9700.

The event opens with a panel discussion on "how to do business with a large company," with representatives from industry leaders, including ETS, Johnson & Johnson, Merrill Lynch, Princeton University, and Telcordia Technologies. Attendees receive a buyer’s guide that describes the products, services, key management people, website, and contact information of each company.

State regulations are designed to provide business opportunities within a state, because if business goes elsewhere, the state’s economy suffers. As a result, the ins and outs of certification can get a little messy at the state level.

The primary issue is that states have very different requirements regarding diverse businesses. Some, for example, require that an out-of-state company have a facility in the state to be considered as a minority-controlled enterprise in the state. Others demand that a company complete certification through a specific state or county agency. Gelvin’s staff is happy to advise potential vendors.

Because ETS is in the education market, most of its procurement is service related. "The majority of opportunities coming up now are focused in printing, technical training, translation, market research, and certain custom products and services," says Gelvin. "Our business is focused on opportunities we get from states and school districts and local regions," he continues. "When an RFP (request for proposal) is issued by a state, the goal for supplier diversity is to do business with companies certified in that state."

To achieve its goals for subcontracting to diverse firms, ETS works to maximize the competitive bidding process for any contract over $25,000 – bidding out to a minimum of three companies, one of which is owned by a minority, a woman, or a disabled veteran (although Gelvin says he has not been able to identify one of the latter in New Jersey). ETS currently has a database of 68 to 70 diverse firms, 38 of which are in New Jersey.

For small diverse firms that want to work with ETS and other large firms, Gelvin has a couple of suggestions beyond multi-state certification:

Contact a corporation’s supplier diversity group. Gelvin urges businesses to "give us a call." The procedure ETS follows is straightforward: The minority-owned firm completes a supplier diversity profile with information on size, finances, customers, ownership, and certification. Once Gelvin’s supplier diversity group has done due diligence to ensure that a company is financially stable, it determines whether the applying firm has a niche or service that ETS could use. "We can’t entertain every firm," says Gelvin. "It’s not fair to them to waste resources and efforts.

Provide a competitive advantage. Gelvin suggests that firms provide value-added products and services – "services that we can’t do or don’t want to do ourselves." Because diverse firms often have a smaller infrastructure, for example, they can be more cost-efficient and quicker than other businesses.

If diverse firms feel they can’t handle a particular opportunity themselves, Gelvin advises that they team up with a couple of other firms: "As a consortium they will a have bigger weight and more resources, which might give them more opportunities." For example, if ETS wanted someone to design a certain form, a firm that only offers design might team up with a printer and the two could bid together.

Gelvin has been in contracts procurement since he graduated from Northeastern University and couldn’t find a job in his major, industrial relations. But his experience is relatively wide. He has handled areas from R&D to buying a spacecraft, and has run a couple of small companies. During his 30 years in Maryland, he worked primarily in telecommunications and was a partner in a small telecommunications and software development company.

Gelvin, who grew up on the North Shore near Boston, moved to New Jersey in 1999 to join Telcordia. Two-and-a-half years later, after Telcordia downsized, he worked with the parent company on a year-long project, then started a small consulting company.

Companies should be aware that their tenure in a database like the one at ETS is not eternal. If ETS has not done work with a business for a couple of years, it will probably be dropped from the database. But, for diverse companies that do their homework and get the necessary certifications, opportunity is there. – Michele Alperin

Unclogging New Jersey’s Roads

It’s time to put the horse before the cart. The average New Jersey driver spends 46 hours a year trapped on congested highways. (Los Angeles is tops with 104 hours.) This congestion costs – in dollars, in pollution, and in road rage. In 2002 the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) claimed that, based on the travel delay and excess fuel expense, these traffic jams cost New Jersey residents $63 billion – an almost $50 billion increase over l982.

This doesn’t even consider the environmentalists’ rage. These static traffic congestions gobble up an additional 5 billion gallons of gasoline, with toxins spewing all over the Garden State. As the interstate highway system celebrates its 50th year, this scarcely seems the vision its founders had in mind.

The NJDOT insists that the traffic and pollution are unnecessary.. Clogged traffic arteries are not unavoidable in a highly populated state. To prove this point, and to develop some solid transport solutions, the NJDOT has established NJFIT – New Jersey Future in Transportation, (www.njfit.com).

Paul Cohn is project manager for this new division. "It is obvious that our current growth patterns are just not sustainable," he says. "With the advent of NJFIT, we no longer build the towns and then wonder where we can cram the roads. Transportation pathways are part of the initial planning."

Cohn, who has spent the last 34 years with the NJDOT, recalls well the unfortunate effects of the old roadways-as-afterthought policy. A native of Newark, Cohn earned his B.A. in political science in l972, followed by a master’s in city and regional planning before joining the NJDOT.

He still remembers the old, l940’s era New Jersey maps marked with a thin black line that was labeled "Proposed Route 92." Even then, a central Jersey east-west highway was deemed a necessity. And in those less dense days, when rural Middlesex was home to a mere 217,000 residents in a state of less than half today’s population, building the proposed route would have been quite straightforward. But with transportation getting short shrift of land use for half a century, the whole east-west conduit got put off until its only open course lay through protected wetlands.

Now with NJFIT working hand-in-hand with the state’s Office of Smart Growth, the entire quality of life package, including transportation options, gets on the blueprint before one posthole is dug. In addition, myriad of innovative ploys are underway to halt sprawl and to get the state’s drivers moving again.

No widened roads. The old standard traffic fix of just widening the road is a concept easily understood, very visible, and thus beloved by politicians for decades. Unfortunately, it cycles into its own downfall. The extra travel lanes invariably lure in new home buyers and businesses. Area taxes rise, forcing farmers to sell off land to large developers. More structures are built, demanding more cars and trucks, which clog up the highway again, calling for even wider roadways.

Parallel solutions. "Canal Pointe Boulevard, along U.S. 1, is a prime example of a much better solution." says Cohn. By building a parallel road between the new houses and the shopping areas along U.S. 1, residents can access the malls from behind, without entering the highway. This backway entrance helps not only the new residents on Canal Pointe Boulevard,, but also speeds the route to malls for those living in Princeton and Lawrence.

Shared trucks. Sharing community services, a banner waved by Governor Corzine, lessens both cost and congestion. When local municipalities unite on such efforts as trash collection, fewer trucks circulate on more sensible pick-up routes, and costs per town are cut. Cohn also points out that such sharing stops the great ratables chase and allows towns to plan with an eye for something other than the tax base.

"You are dealing with very emotional issues here," says Cohn. "That big free-standing house and the concept of transport only by personal car are part of the American Dream." Yet despite the dream, no one is fond of sprawl. Most towns readily accept NJFIT’s plans for higher density living to allow more open space and less travel time. "It is the rare town, like some along Route 17, that just doesn’t want to discuss anything other than widening the roads," says Cohn.

Mixed use. Back in the bad old days of heavy, dirty industry, zoning was established that set residences, stores, and manufacturers each in their own areas. This led to necessity of the auto to reach every service and shop just for daily living. By replanning and blending businesses, schools, and churches in among cleverly designed housing areas, more people can reach more services by foot, bike, or short car ride.

The biggest villain in this separate-use syndrome is the idyllic cul-de-sac funneling to a feeder street. It’s a lovely place for a house, assuming you never want to leave. But if you do want to be out and about, a better set up is a connected street network with more direct access to the highway. These connected streets should be able to support a closer-together neighborhood with enough residents to support stores and services nearby, and ideally with walking or biking distance.

Keeping downtown. When 1960’s songstress Petula Clark lauded the town center’s enchantments in her "Downtown," such centers were still the places to walk to, stroll through, and meet friends. But now, as developments have rolled out randomly across the Garden State like dice on a crap table, such hubs have been choked out – and many have disappeared. Not only have malls put the price squeeze on local shops, but Main Street has become a highway itself. As massive developments press in around the town, local roads become conduits, carrying heavy traffic at speeds that make it unsafe for sixth graders to bike downtown for an after-school ice cream cone.

NJFIT believes that the town center is a presence, not a highway to elsewhere. Across the state they are employing a host of tactics to achieve a strategy they term "traffic calming." The first goal is to slow the existing traffic down. Signs are fine, but speed bumps and narrower driving lanes make drivers obey the laws of physics, rather than just the laws of the land.

To make the town center more walker friendly, raised curb ways, cobbled crosswalks and colored lanes have proved successful. Simply setting up diagonal parking on streets allows more folks to stop the car and stroll the sidewalk.

The traffic circle, while the bane of major highways, works well in town centers, keeping cars moving continuously, and at a sensible pace. These circles, when blended with planted road islands and extended curbs, make the driver instantly aware that he is no longer on a thoroughfare.

For an agency still shy of its second birthday, NJFIT has taken a lot on its plate. Ranging from Route 17 traffic jams, to the Burlington County interchange problem, to the separate use dilemma along 30 miles of Route 9 in Ocean County, NJFIT has conducted 15 studies and is partnering with municipalities to come up with solutions.

The 20-mile corridor along Route 1 from Trenton to New Brunswick has received special interest. Partnering with the five municipalities and three counties, NJFIT is devising schemes to get U.S. 1 moving again. One possible plan is establishing a Bus Rapid Transit, using bus-only lanes. Parallel bike routes are in the works, along with a whole new mixed-use zoning for the region.

Will we all are sitting in in our idling autos for 46 hours every year, or can NJFIT send us on our way? "There are no simple, one-fix solutions in this field," says Cohn. "But everybody seems willing and we are going to employ whatever it takes." – Bart Jackson

Corporate Angels: United Way Report

The call came in on the afternoon of June 28. The Delaware River was moving rapidly to flood stage and the Island district was once again facing the prospect of being under several feet of water. Neighbors began helping neighbors for what had become an annual ritual – move everything in your home to higher ground – for the third time since the fall of 2004.

The Salvation Army called United Way of Greater Mercer County’s president and CEO Craig Lafferty for assistance. Captain Rose Balcom explained that extra help would be needed if the flooding was as bad a predicted.

"We’ve worked together before," says Lafferty, who has been with United Way for 24 years, the last 12 of them in Mercer County. "We work with the Salvation Army on feeding residents of Trenton housing projects and, on September 12, 2001, we went with their mobile canteen to New York City."

Calls were quickly placed to volunteers and staff was assembled to workout a schedule. Floods have a timetable all of their own and the fact that a long holiday weekend was coming up didn’t change the fact that flood waters would soon be inundating the city of Trenton.

One volunteer who answered the call was Eugene Marsh, chairman of the United Way’s board and president of Construction Project Management Services on Alexander Road. "He handed out sandwiches and cleaning supplies and made supply runs," says Lafferty. On the Monday of the sweltering hot 4th of July week-end, Marsh worked all day long in the Salvation Army canteen. "I didn’t let him go until 7 p.m.," says Lafferty.

The Salvation Army’s mobile kitchen was deployed to the immediate vicinity of the Island district in Trenton and the Salvation Army began its work immediately, feeding police and fire personnel deployed to protect the property of the flood victims. Then the families and owners began to return to the neighborhood. United Way staff and volunteers arrived on the scene on Sunday, July 2, and were there for the duration of the week.

Among the volunteers was Lafferty’s wife, Anita Lafferty, who works for Princeton Nassau Pediatrics, and his son, Ben Lafferty, who is a winter employee at the Princeton Ski Barn. Among the United Way staffers who pitched in were Diana Wilson, Andrea Bobst – and her nine-year-old daughter Kaylee – Jodi Inverso, Carolee Kueller, Laurie Hopkins, and Darlene Abate.

Cleaning kits were handed out. Bleach and paper-towels went fast. Food needed to be purchased and prepared. Hungry residents needed to be fed and first responders were working 12 and 16-hour days.

United Way staff started the mornings started at 6 a.m. with the mobile kitchen cooking breakfast. Fried egg sandwiches were the order of the day. "Would you like that with pork-roll, turkey bacon, or ham?" was asked repeatedly. Hungry people came – breakfast went from 7 a.m. to nearly 9:45 a.m. Then it was time to clean-up breakfast and prepare for the task of fixing lunch. The familiar phrase at lunch became "white or wheat bread?" How about a PBJ for the little one?" Island residents arriving with their dogs also found a warm welcome – and offers of bologna for their four-footed companions.

Lunch ran from about noon until 2:30 p.m. And then it was time to think about fixing supper. Something hot and nutritious; maybe spaghetti or hamburgers and hotdogs grilled out. In the end, everyone ate well. Nothing fancy – just good solid food. And when it was done, everyone was grateful.

Grants Available

Over $400,000 is available this fall for two separate grant opportunities through the Princeton Area Community Foundation (PACF). Proposals for program funding that serves girls and the women who raise them and programs that support Mercer County and its neighboring communities are due in September.

The Fund for Women and Girls seeks grant proposals from programs with proven competence in working with girls to build character and self-esteem, hone special talents, train for leadership, respect their bodies, stay in school, and be proud of who they are, and what they can do. The deadline for proposals is Friday, September 29, 2006.

PACF’s Greater Mercer Grants are available for programs that address the needs of low-income individuals and families, support community organizing in low-income neighborhoods, and address concerns and opportunities within and across municipalities with the greatest impact within Mercer County. The next deadline for proposals to the Greater Mercer Grants Program is September 15.

Full grant guidelines and a calendar of upcoming grant information sessions are available on the Princeton Area Community Foundation website, www.pacf.org

For more information on how to apply for the grants, contact PACF at 609-219-1800 or online at www.pacf.org.

Spam of the Week: Beware the Crown Victorias

A tip from a Jersey trooper, forwarded by a concerned motorist:

"Starting today, New Jersey will launch a 30-day speeding ticket frenzy. The state estimates that $9 million will be generated in speeding tickets. $1 million will go to pay state troopers’ overtime.

There will 50 state troopers on duty at all times patrolling the 9 main intersections and highways. They are the following:

"I-295 north and south; 1-95 (Jersey Turnpike) north and south; 1-80 east and west; I-287 north and south; I-78 east and west; 1-195 east and west; 1-280 east and west; Route 130 north and south; Garden State Parkway north and south.

"I’m warning everyone now that 5 mph above the limit can justify a ticket and every state trooper is supposed to pull a car over and write a ticket every 10 to 20 minutes. They have issued 30 brand new unmarked Crown Victoria cruisers and are bringing in all of their part timers on full time.

"101.5 FM confirmed all of this. So be safe and don’t forget speeding tickets are on you. You’ve been warned."

The happy truth: 101.5 notwithstanding, the story sounded vaguely familiar. We checked www.snopes.com and discovered the same rumor, complete with the Crown Victorias, circulating in New Jersey in 2005. And a very similar rumor, also including the unmarked Crown Vics, was the talk of the town in Tennessee, Dallas, Orange County, California, and Detroit at various times in recent years. Fasten your seat belts.

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