Preservation NJ: A City Setting

Why Professionals Need the ‘Net

Make the Internet Your Partner

Corporate Angels

Tax Break for SUVs

Walk to Work Win Pizes

Loan Cap Lifted

Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the April

2, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Volunteers Prepare for Disasters

The title of this year’s New Jersey Conference on


evokes grim memories of the recent past as well as present-day


"Let’s Roll — A Symposium on Disaster Preparedness and


The day-long event take place on Friday, April 4, and Saturday, April

5 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Call 800-286-6528.

Emergency preparedness is plainly in the air. A similar event


by the American Red Cross takes place Monday, April 7, at 7 p.m. at

Rider University (609-951-8550). And two weeks ago the Red Cross


together representatives of a dozen U.S. 1 area companies to explore

ways in which the business community can participate in emergency

response — see the cover story in this week’s issue starting on

page 16.

While the majority of workshops at the conference will put the


on planning for and reacting to disasters, other topics range from

fundraising to professional development for the volunteer manager

to the cornerstones of board development.

The workshops addressing the role of the government, employers, and

non-profits in disaster situations cover a broad range of topics.

Harry Sheppard, president of the New Jersey County Emergency

Management Coordinator’s Association, speaks on "How to Design

a Disaster Plan;" Dr. Edward Bresnitz, a New Jersey


speaks on "Bio Terrorism;" George Anthony, president,

Peace Dynamics, speaks on "Teaching Tolerance and Understanding

in Times of Crisis;" Richard Dalfonzo, field representative,

Monmouth County Office on Aging, speaks on "Thinking Outside the

Box: Seniors Fighting Terrorism;" and Michael Schneider,

director of public relations, the Cherenson Group, speaks on


Getting the Message Out."

In a Disaster, Non-Profits Must Coordinate

Think about the co-ordination required to respond to

a disaster. One non-profit has food to distribute, another has a


of volunteers, a third knows where to find trucks. Meanwhile, each

non-profit is receiving urgent calls from clients who need to know

— right away — where they can get help in finding food, paying

the rent, and getting prescriptions filled.

To better coordinate a response to all kinds of disasters, the state

formed the New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters

(NJVOAD) several years ago. Brenda Beavers, state director for

human services, the Salvation Army, is secretary of the organization.

She speaks about NJVOAD at the April 4 New Jersey Conference on


"It had a resurgence after Tropical Storm Floyd," Beavers

says of NJVOAD. The organization, which meets once a month, was active

after 9/11, too, and that unprecedented disaster pointed up areas

in which coordination could be improved. The post-9/11 climate has

also created new challenges for member volunteer organizations, and

a more urgent need for coordination.

As Beavers ticks off the names of organizations that belong to NJVOAD

the scope of volunteer groups come into focus. Members include the

Bar Association, the Humane Society, the Red Cross, Catholic


the Civil Air Patrol, AARP, Lutheran Disaster, the Salvation Army,

the Food Bank, and the AFL-CIO Community Service. On the public side,

members include the Office of Emergency Management and the New Jersey

Commission on Community Service.

"We’re looking at systems issues," says Beavers. This is an

area that could have been better during the days and months following

9/11. "We’re working on people’s ability to access services for

next time," she says. She adds matter of factly, "there’s

going to be a next time." That doesn’t mean, she hastens to add,

that the disaster will be of the type and scale experienced on 9/11.

It could well be an act of nature or a large-scale accident. But


an almost life-long member of the Salvation Army, has seen enough

to know that disasters have a way of continuing to come down the pike,

one after another in a relentless procession.

While some people may include the Salvation Army in career plans from

childhood, Beavers is not one of them. "Growing up, I had two

memories of the Salvation Army," she says. One was of her


sending her to its offices with a donation envelope once a year. The

other was of the Salvation Army bell ringer who stood beside the


on the Green at Morristown at Christmas.

When it was time for her social work internship at Kean University,

then Newark State College, from which she graduated in 1973, her


suggested that she work at the Salvation Army. She was not keen on

the idea, but soon saw the connection between the Salvation Army and

social work. "They hired me before I graduated," she says.

She has worked there for most of her career, and is now in charge

of all of the organization’s human service outreach, including


special needs, day care, homeless shelter, a camping program, services

for the Armed Forces and their families, and, yes, disaster services.

"No two days are alike," she says. And neither are any two

disasters. The range of issues is mind-boggling, and Beavers is full

of stories. During the Kosovo crisis, when thousands of fleeing


ended up on military reserves in New Jersey, she recalls that the

government made an appeal for clothing. "Everyone and his brother

wanted to donate," she says of the response, calling it typically

generous. But there was a problem. "The women didn’t wear


she says.

This example points up a job for NJVOAD. "There is a need to


the public and politicians," Beavers says. The message? "We’ll

let you know what we need, and when we need it."

There are any number of situations in which cold, hard cash is


— by a wide margin — to baskets of clothes or cans collected

from household cupboards. Yet, Beavers emphasizes, it is important

that non-profits be sensitive to the human need to do something to

help. The trick is to help a stricken population heal by rounding

up toys, beef jerky, and warm sweaters, while, at the same time,


sure that those offerings are not wasted.

A prime example occurred during the 9/11 response. Hearing of rescue

dogs working at the site, "everyone donated dog food," says

Beavers. From all around the country, dog food rolled in. "We

had pallets of dog food," she recalls. But, "the search and

rescue dogs only ate Science Diet and chicken breasts." Thousands

of dogs in animal shelters can not afford this culinary hauteur. So

agencies receiving the dog food called the shelters to haul away the

bounty of dog chow.

Again, coordinated education comes into play. The need to donate must

be honored, but, says Beavers, "we have to let people know that

the leftovers will go somewhere else."

A more common need is to help households keep functioning after a

disaster. Substantial help in doing so comes largely from the Federal

Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Beavers says the non-profits

have had some difficulty in helping clients to request and receive

the help they need. NJVOAD is working to help its members


how FEMA works and how best to serve clients."

Another important, and universal, issue involves the best use of


during a disaster. "There are long-term trained volunteers,"

says Beavers, "and then there are spontaneous volunteers."

The latter have no knowledge of a non-profit’s operating procedures,

but they do have an urgent desire to do something to help their


Acting on their generous impulses is "necessary for their


says Beavers.

By acting together non-profits can best find a task suited to every

volunteer. Equally important, the non-profits can develop guidelines

suited to post 9/11 concerns. "It’s a whole new dynamic,"

says Beavers. "Who’s going into your building?" In August,

2001 few non-profits would have thought to question the good


of the spontaneous volunteers who show up after a disaster. Now, there

is a new level of security. Says Beavers: "Life has gotten


Assessing the Risk

Charlie Maney, a chartered property and casualty

underwriter, works for American Re, but he addresses the April 4


conference in his role as a volunteer. The title of his talk is


Matters!," but he says that he is speaking not so much on the

need to insure against disaster, but rather on the need to be aware

of all the sources of liability and to assess risk tolerance in regard

to each.

To help organizations of all kinds think about the ramifications of

a disaster, he uses the example of an explosion in a school chemistry

lab caused by a leak in a propane tank. "Four students are killed,

12 are injured," he says, setting up his hypothetical. "There

is smoke damage, and students lose $10,000 worth of personal property.

A fire escape collapses during the evacuation, and others are injured.

The property has to be fenced and equipment removed. A computer


is lost." He goes on, saying that the school immediately contacts

a grief counselor, holds a special memorial service, and deals with

the press.

Following the disaster, it is discovered that the school was not


for the leak, and a product liability suit is filed against the


tank’s manufacturer. However, the teacher had stepped just outside

of the classroom door to take a message right before the explosion,

and the school is sued for negligent supervision.

Covering the fallout from the explosion would require, Maney says,

multiple coverage, workers comp, general liability, business


extra expense, employment liability, and environmental liability


Employers of all kinds, he says, should postulate a worse case


and then to do a cost assessment. In other words "how would you

pay for what would happen?" In some cases, the answer, is that

money could easily be found in an operating budget. Some companies,

he says, "spend $15,000 on a $100 problem." An example could

be insurance on computers. There was a time when replacing a brace

of computers was a budget-busting expense. This is no longer the case.

An analogy, suggest Maney, can be made to a 1990 Dodge van. "Do

you really want to have comprehensive and collision?" he asks.

Look at business insurance with the same eye. There may be some areas

where coverage can actually be cut, while other areas may need to

be added or beefed up.

The damage from a disaster extends beyond the monetary, Maney points

out. There are some things that no insurance policy covers. One is

the goodwill of employees. An employer has no duty to house his


should they be unable to go home following a disaster, he says. But

the more effort the employer makes to ensure their safety and comfort

— and that of their families — the more likely it is that

he will retain them after the smoke clears.

Organizations need to examine everything from insurance coverage to

contingency housing plans to company policies. And not just once.

"You have to do more than one scenario, and you have to do it

every year," says Maney. Businesses change, and risk needs to

be reanalyzed. Perhaps executives are traveling more. Should their

itineraries be checked against State Department warnings? Should key

executives make separate travel plans? Does chartering a plane make


No organization can prepare for every contingency, but a quick read

of the high school explosion scenario points up areas to consider.

Some require insurance, while others call for nothing more expensive

than regular checks on property maintenance checks or company policy

reviews with employees.

Top Of Page
Preservation NJ: A City Setting

On a trip to Nevada, lured by guidebooks praising its

historic district, we detoured some four hours to visit Brigham


summer home. Stretching after alighting from our rental car, we stood

before two or three houses. That was it? We had driven across the

desert to see fewer houses than are shoehorned into any number of

corners in central New Jersey?

In fairness, there may have been more than three houses, but not many

more. Taking a gander at what there was to see, we marveled at how

little it took to create a historic district west of the Mississippi.

Of course, New Jersey has no natural wonders to match the dramatic

splendor of the red rocks through which we had driven to visit the

historic district, but the state is chock-a-block with fascinating


On Friday, April 4, at 8 a.m. Preservation New Jersey holds its


Annual Historic Preservation Conference" to look at some of the

issues involved in keeping our past alive. The first part of the


takes place at the auditorium of the Department of State building

on West State Street in Trenton. This segment includes a keynote


by Anthony Tung, author of "Preserving the World’s Great

Cities: The Destruction & Renewal of the Historic Metropolis;"

a panel discussion on "Historic Preservation: A Catalyst for


a tour of Trenton’s revitalization successes and opportunities, which

visits Mill Hill, Warren Street, and the Sovereign Arena areas; and

a panel discussion entitled "Crossroads of the Revolution Heritage

Area," which looks at how to create a heritage area.

The second session, beginning at 2:30 p.m., takes place at Thomas

Edison State College and features six panel discussions. Topics


developing community centers around rail stations, preserving the

historic character of our communities, creating a sense of place


road projects, and urban revitalization.

There is a closing reception and exhibits at the Masonic Temple on

West Front Street in Trenton at 5:15 p.m. The cost of the conference

is $45. Call 609-392-6409 for reservations.

Top Of Page
Why Professionals Need the ‘Net

Is the reminder that a dental check-up is on your


less painful when it arrives via E-mail? Maybe. And if not for you,

then certainly for your dentist’s receptionist, who surely must tire

of "waiting for the beep" to leave voicemail reminders for

hours each day.

The Internet can make life easier — and more profitable —

for professional offices, but so far few are taking advantage.


Hung is ready to help doctors, dentists, accountants, and other

professionals make the leap into cyberspace. She speaks on


Business Efficiency Through the Internet" on Saturday, April 5,

at 3 p.m. at the Plainsboro Library. For free reservations call


fax, 530-937-7220 (E-mail:

Hung is the owner of BixKonex, a startup specializing in setting up

professional offices with the hardware and software they need to move

clerical, recordkeeping, and customer management tasks onto the


"Some offices still have appointment books," says Hung. It

is a fair bet that most people who have forgotten (subconsciously

or otherwise) the date of an upcoming root canal procedure know this.

Page flipping, accompanied by heavy sighs, is frequently audible over

the phone line when a call is placed. The poor souls entrusted with

entering the information into those extra-long, ruled books


are not thrilled to hear: "Well I think the appointment was


around Easter, or maybe Mother’s Day."

With a software package, a professional office can send out reminders,

have patients see what time slots are available, make appointments

online, and check the date of the appointment should they forget.

The information is then accessible from any place a doctor happens

to be. This is a boon to doctors doing hospital rounds, Hung points


Rescheduling also can be done online, a function which saves untold

hours of the office staff’s time, as a cartoon prominently placed

in one dentist’s office reveals. In the cartoon, a bored looking


leans on her desk as a serial canceler speaks through the phone. She

says something like, "No, it doesn’t matter what date you pick.

We don’t even bother to write it down anymore."

Beyond appointment chores, a professional can profit from the Internet

by expediting the horrible task of obtaining insurance verification,

approval, and reimbursement. "They can submit claims


says Hung. "That way there are no rejections because a form is

not correctly filled out." As anyone who has tried to register

for anything online knows, if any blank is not filled out to the


satisfaction, red arrows signal the error, and it is impossible to

go further without putting in satisfactory data. Getting the


in correctly increases cash flow. "You get real time responses

on eligibility and claim services," says Hung. A number of major

insurance carriers are now set up to offer services online, she says.

Internet communication is also a good way to maintain solid


with patients or clients. A website can offer directions, office


staff biographies, news about the practice and about its area of


and even special offers. (Probably not two root canals for the price

of one, but maybe $10 off a cleaning.)

Hung lists her company’s range of services as everything from hardware

purchase and set up through installation of software and advice on

subscriptions to Internet services. How about training for the staff?

Listing another plus of doing business on the Internet, she says,

"with the Internet, there is very little training."

Hung, whose office is at 9 Perrine Path, West Windsor, studied food

engineering at the National Chun Hsing University in Taiwan (Class

of 1979) before emigrating to the United States, where she obtained

a master’s degree in computer science from Stevens Institute. She

has worked for large technology companies, including AT&T and


Technology. When she arrived in the United States, she sought the

excitement of New York City, but when she started a family, she moved

to central New Jersey for the school system. She has two daughters,

who are students at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North.

Top Of Page
Make the Internet Your Partner

The Internet is good for a whole lot more than taking

orders. There is a laboratory company, for instance, that helps


scientists by letting them price out the supplies they will need.

The scholar goes through the company’s web-based catalog, picking

out what he expects to need to complete the work he hopes to fund

through a grant. He fills out a pseudo shopping list, and gets a price

total. After the grant comes through it is a good bet that the


his shopping list already made out, will purchase his supplies on

that laboratory company’s website.

Nunzio Cernero, assistant dean for training and development

at Mercer County Community College, chuckles as he tells this story,

clearly thrilled by the ingenious use of the Internet the lab supply

house had come up with. Cernero has been helping small businesses

to get off the ground for 27 years. He started the Small Business

Development Center, formerly based at MCCC, and now working from the

College of New Jersey, and also the Center for Training and


an MCCC initiative targeting the training needs of large companies.

Cernero moderates a full day seminar, "Starting/Expanding a Small

Business in the Age of the Internet" on Thursday, April 10, at

8:30 a.m. at the Conference Center at Mercer on the West Windsor


of MCCC. Cost: $149.

Cernero has another Internet anecdote. "This is one of my


he says. "There is a company that sells decorative stone. It has

a network of people looking for stone mined locally. It uses the web

to let its agents show the stone to potential customers."

The web, declares Cernero, "is not for putting up a picture of

your product anymore." It is now a strong operational tool, and

in his opinion, every business needs to be taking advantage of it.

The Internet is a perfect vehicle for sharing information, for keeping

in touch with customers, for cutting costs, and for doing essential

business research.

"I just worked with somebody to get a trademark over the


says Cernero. "You can do a search, submit an application, and

get the trademark. All over the Internet."

Large companies started integrating the Internet into their businesses

five to ten years ago, Cernero observes. "What I see happening

now," he says, "is that small business owners are seeing lots

of ways to use the Internet."

Cernero gives three how-to-start-your-business seminars a year, and

he says that questions on how to build a website, how to sell over

the Internet, and how to best to take advantage of the Internet are

frequent questions. Every business, he says, needs an E-business plan,

even if it does not yet have the resources to execute on every part

of it. The seminar guides entrepreneurs through many phases of


planning and discusses website design choices. But is also covers

business basics, including marketing, financing, and accounting.

The demand for information on forming a small business is tremendous,

says Cernero, who had to hold two sections of his small business


in January to accommodate everyone interested in taking it. "There

is a movement away from employment to self-employment," he says.

And, happily, there is a market for many more entrepreneurs.


are such that we still don’t have as many small businesses per capita

as there are in Germany or Japan," he says. "We have 25


small businesses, but there is a lot more room."

In the course of his work at MCCC and at the Trenton Business and

Technology incubator, Cernero sees every type of new small business

— from a collections agency to an indoor soccer center. He and

his wife also keep an eye out for new enterprises during weekend


around the state.

"We’re seeing more small retailers," he says. "In Spring

Lake and Chatham and Belmar, the stores are filling up. We were in

Morristown yesterday," he says during a Monday interview. "We

saw a new toy store, a bridal gown shop, and a couple of


He reports that 21st Century, the upscale discount department store

that sells designer clothes, has moved into the anchor location on

the Morristown Green once occupied by Bambergers. "That space

had been empty for 40 years," he says. "Morristown is coming


The big store creates customers for the small ventures, and vice


A new business, Cernero points out, can be any size. "It’s not

how much money you have," he says. "It’s how you use the money

and plan. People fail with $1 million, and people succeed with


But what about the stock advice that start-ups need substantial


to get through their first couple of years? That is true, says


but the key is a good business plan. You can’t start a $20,000


with $2,000, but you can start a $2,000 business with $2,000.

"I’ve read over 300 research studies," says Cernero. "It’s

hard to draw a correlation between start-up capital and success."

The biggest factor is how you overcome challenges. The successful

entrepreneur, he says, does not look at problems; he looks at how

to get around problems.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

The medical and dental staff at the Medical Center

at Princeton have donated $100,000 to support community education

and training for healthcare professionals. The money will be used

to strengthen the medical center’s community education initiatives

and to develop and implement a new Clinical Simulation Lab used in

training programs for nurses and other healthcare professionals.

The community education and outreach program promotes wellness by

providing health-related programming to the public at little or no

cost. This includes lectures, screenings, health fairs, and other

lifestyle-related programs targeted to the needs of women, seniors,

minority groups, parents, and children.

The medical center will be the first hospital in New Jersey to have

a comprehensive simulation lab for hospital education that is equipped

with Laerdal SimMan Universal Patient Simulator technology. The new

state-of-the-art Clinical Simulation Lab will provide personnel with

ongoing hands-on training in the latest procedures and techniques.

The lab will also be used to enhance the clinical experiences of


from the College of New Jersey, Mercer County Community College, and

Mercer County Vocational School. The lab is slated to open by June


For more information about the medical center’s community education

and outreach programs call 609-497-4460.

A unique program of financial literacy training geared to


and middle school students will be introduced at the Cadwalader


School in Trenton. The program, part of the Kids Financial Coalition,

is being rolled out statewide by the Center for Financial Training,

a non-profit association, with support from Fleet , which is

sponsoring the distribution of the financial literacy curriculum.

Thomas Edison State College has received a $29,850 grant from

the Ford Foundation in support of a study on the public sector

response to 9/11. The project will be conducted through the John S.

Watson Institute for Public Policy.

The grant will fund supplemental research to the college’s study of

philanthropic response to the events of 9/11. The initial study, also

funded by the Ford Foundation, largely focused on the lessons learned

from the efforts by foundations, corporations, and other private


funding sources. The follow-up study, under the direction of Thomas

Seessel, will examine the response by the public sector. The study

will compile and analyze the experience of government agencies at

all levels so that policymakers may have a framework in planning for

future urban emergencies.

On March 3 U.S. Trust Company of New Jersey sponsored

a dinner at McCarter Theater honoring donors. The theme of the evening

was "A Conversation with McCarter Divas."

Top Of Page
Tax Break for SUVs

SUVs are cycling out of fashion, but accountant Stuart

Rosenblatt of Wiss & Company offers businesses a good reason

to consider purchasing one of the vehicles, and not only that. He

says the bigger the SUV, the bigger the tax break.

According to Rosenblatt, the IRS has just issued its 2002 version

of Publication 463 — Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car


Under the tax law, passenger automobiles are subject to annual


depreciation write-offs, generally referred to as "luxury car


Normally a vehicle is defined as a passenger auto if its unloaded

gross vehicle weight is 6,000 pounds or less. Therefore, virtually

all cars fit within this definition and are subject to the annual

depreciation limitations. In the case of SUVs, trucks, or vans, the

"unloaded gross vehicle weight" rule is ignored and a special

rule "gross vehicle weight" is used instead. SUVs are only

treated as a passenger auto when the manufacturer’s maximum loaded

weight rating for the vehicle is 6,000 pounds or less. As a result,

several SUVs, including the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Suburban, Lexus

LX470, and Lincoln Navigator, are heavy enough to escape the


of a passenger auto.

The weight of a vehicle, says Rosenblatt, is written on a metal

plate or sticker on the driver’s door.

If the SUV is heavy enough, and therefore not classified as a


automobile, there is no annual limitation on depreciation. For the

years 2002 and 2003, the maximum depreciation that can be claimed

for a new car is $7,660, no matter what the cost of the car. But the

most gigantic SUVs bring in a much greater deduction. An SUV with

a $50,000 price tag could earn the tax payer a write-off of as much

as $36,000. The deduction kicks in if the SUV is used more than half

the time for business.

Rosenblatt does not weigh in on the cost of gasoline.

Top Of Page
Walk to Work — Win Pizes

Workout to Work is Greater Mercer TMA’s newest incentive

program, designed to help area workers stay healthy by walking or

biking to work or to a transit link to work. The program is funded

in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It provides


and resources to employees who bike or walk to work and support to

employers who promote healthy commutes. Employee incentives include

eligibility for prizes and discounts; employer support consists of

on-site programs and materials.

Workout to Work is designed primarily for the person who lives within

five to ten miles of the worksite or public transit and wants to


daily exercise with a commute. Participants are provided with


and information they need to get started, including suggested routes,

safety information, and commuting tips. Each month that employees

track their healthy commute miles, they are eligible for prizes.

Employees can register and track their miles online at

The GMTMA points out that short car trips — up to five miles —

are the most polluting type of trip, adding ground level ozone,


oxides, carbon dioxide, soot, and noise to the environment. The


also reminds us all that biking or walking to work enables employees

to fit exercise into their busy, but often sedentary, work routines.

People who get to work on their own steam are healthier and more


also more alert and relaxed.

To promote a more healthy commute, GMTMA stands ready to arrange


Brown Bag Lunches and Bicycling Education courses at no cost. Call

Sandra Brillhart at 609-452-1491 for more information.

Top Of Page
Loan Cap Lifted

Banks can once again lend small businesses up to $2

million, guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, which lifted

a $500,000 loan cap imposed five months ago in response to federal

budget constraints.

The cap caused a 14 percent decline in dollar loan volume for the

SBA’s first fiscal quarter ended December 31, although the number

of loans was ahead of the previous year. New Jersey had a record year

for SBA lending in the fiscal year ended September 30, and is once

again on track for a strong year.

The SBA imposed the cap at the beginning of the federal fiscal year

last October 1, in part because Congress hadn’t yet passed a budget

providing funding for the SBA. President Bush signed the new budget

in February.

Corrections or additions?

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