Reflections of Jamesburg: What Our Community Means
Over time, the hands of progress push forth and new ideas, philosophies, inventions, and
individuals emerge while sometimes regrettably, others slowly fade away to nothing but mere
memories. It is the memories that are just as important as the new ideals because without
the history behind it, the "new" has no beginning. Most importantly, we must look back
at our histories to see how we have grown, matured, taken steps in the wrong direction, and
then ultimately arrived at our present state of being. Over the past fourteen years, I have
watched the Borough, as well as my life experience new things. Some for the worst, some
for the best. Now that I will be entering college in the fall and spreading my wings beyond
Jamesburg, I find it most appropriate to reflect on some of the memories of Jamesburg that I,
along with many community members, classmates, and teachers will never forget and are vital
to our histories and traditions.
Most appropriately first, I will reflect on the aspect of Jamesburg that has encouraged me
to attain the best and represent Jamesburg to my fullest potential. With that said, it is
the Jamesburg Public School District that has provided me with the most inspiration throughout
my academic career. There is no other school that can teach children to love themselves or how to be
supportive to each other like Jamesburg has done for many generations. Even if I had forgotten
all of what I was taught in Jamesburg (very unlikely), I will never forget how to love and
appreciate others. The John F. Kennedy Elementary and Grace M. Breckwedel Middle Schools built
my character to the level it is at today. Without the amazing and wonderfully caring
teaching staff that supports EVERY student, some students would not be performing to their
fullest abilities. Some very special teahers, who are no longer with us, or retired, are
memorialized in our classrooms, in our libraries, and most importantly, in our hearts.
Jamesburg is a very special community. Despite the recent lack of school funding, we find
unique and creative ways to give our students the very best. Over the past year, budget cuts
have been tremendous and devastating. One day I hope that all of the
lost monies can be restored. To think that character building programs such as the Soccer
and Basketball teams and after school activities have been cancelled breaks many hearts. I
participated and looked forward to after school activities every year. However, when the
staff must tell a child that we cannot have those programs because of budget cuts, it
is hurtful and confusing to young children that do not understand the concept of not having
sufficient funding. Hopefully once again this year, the Jamesburg Recreation Department
and PTA can reestablish these lost activities as they had done last year.
Volunteers in Jamesburg have made their mark. The dedication of our elected officials and
community members show that Jamesburg can move ahead successfully. Groups such as the
Jamesburg Civic Association, the Jamesburg High School Alumni Association, and the Jamesburg
Area Chamber of Commerce have worked dilligently to attain progress and preserve the beauty
of Jamesburg. The Fireworks, circus, Tonkery Day, and Buckelew Day are all some of the many
traditions that Jamesburg carries forth because of groups such as these. This coming school
year, one of the newest group of volunteers will be retired professionals and teachers in
our school libraries. Once again, when something cannot be afforded, a group of caring
citizens have come to the rescue to stabilize the high standards that Jamesburg is known for.
In 2001, another achievement occured through the work of volunteerism and charity. The children
of Jamesburg asked the Borough Council for a skate park. At that time, the Council could not
procure the necessary funds to build one. Therefore, the children and their parents took
it upon themselves to fundraise for their skate park. They held car washes, spaghetti dinners,
and even collected donations so that their dreams could become a reality. After much effort,
their dream did come true. A local company donated their time to pave the lot, and many
residents and children pitched in to construct the park. This community activity shows the
strength that can be obtained from one dream. The children learned a valuable lesson in
working together and following their dream for a facility. Once again, no money was taken from
the Borough taxpayers and the children of Jamesburg have something to be extremely proud of.
I always think to myself, where else can something like this happen? Only in Jamesburg is my
Over the past two years, the Jamesburg landscape has changed dramatically. New businesses
have flocked to Jamesburg to open storefronts. The mom and pop stores of times long past
are fading. Stores like Holman's Pharmacy, Intravotolo's Market, Jamesburg Music, and The
Kerwin Agency have closed their doors one final time. Yet, some remain and are staying strong.
Inevitably, new stores must replace the old. While some business owners want to preserve
the mom and pop atmosphere, we cannot hold back the corporate America from entering Jamesburg.
The CVS, Forsgate "Mall", Subway, Little Shop of Treasures, Family Framers, Video Disco, and
First Constitution Bank have all opened shop in Jamesburg in the past year, demonstrating that Jamesburg is a community
where commerce thrives, therefore defining our downtown area.
Another sometimes overlooked
item that many people take for granted, are our sidewalks. Jamesburg is a walking town.
Sidewalks are needed to travel through the downtown area in order to get from one store to
another and the school children need them so that they do not need to walk in the streets.
Most of the new sidewalks in Jamesburg were built through grants - not directly from the taxpayers.
These sidewalks provide safety for all our residents, but most importantly, our children that
walk to school every day, in all weather conditions.
Jamesburg has a remarkable history. However, we must examine it, teach it, and most importantly, appreciate it
so that future generations of residents can understand what exists and become familiar with
the process in which it was established. Many times, people brush away the history and
facts, taking what they have for granted. Yet there is a reason for everything and the curiousity
must exist. The curiousity raises questions and new ideas, which further supply the constant
hands of time and progress, improving upon what we have and being careful not to let history
Other changes and unforgettable moments in Jamesburg History over the past few years:
- Annual fireworks and circus established by the Jamesburg Civic Association.
- Hand Held Cell Phone Ban enacted.
- Jamesburg Police Department leads the county with a tactical force and armored vehicle.
- Progress vs. History - The fall of the Stoffler House for CVS.
- Jamesburg Street Fair held honoring former Mayor Joseph Tonkery.
- Jamesburg High School Alumni Association created in 2000.
- Jamesburg Area Chamber of Commerce established.
- The opening of the Jamesburg Skate Park built entirely by donations in 2001.
- Opening of the New Jamesburg Borough Hall in 2000.
- Jamesburg's own 911 Dispatch Communications Center.
- The 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Jamesburg Fire Department in 2000.
- The closing of Perrine's Pontiac (open since 1927) and opening of the Jamesburg Commons Mall (2000).
- The John F. Kennedy Elementary School received its much needed addition in 1998.
- The closing of Holman's Pharmacy in the late 90s.
- Jamesburg Police Department featured on 20/20 undercover investigation.
- Former Mayor Joseph Dipierro wins the lottery and pays for a new roof on the old Borough Hall.
- The Manalapan Dam broke and flooded sections of Jamesburg (early 90s).
Changes to Come:
- Intersection improvements and stop lights to be installed at two of the most dangerous
intersections in Jamesburg.
- Streetscape Beautification project on West Railroad Avenue.
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