Statement By Freeholder John Pulomena
Concerning the September 11th Tragedy And
The Middlesex County College

October 4, 2001

On September 11th the terrorists' attack on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon changed the people of the United States forever. It brought a sense of profound loss home to all of us. It made some of us afraid, it made many of us angry, but almost universally it made us feel more connected to our neighbors and made us realize that we should be closer as a people.

Many Middlesex County residents work in New York. Even those that were able to return home safely, without physical injury, saw scenes of violence and tragedy that people should never see. Our fire, police, and emergency services lent manpower and material assistance, our teachers stayed with school children until they could be picked up by a responsible adult relative, and our hospital workers stood by to help the injured. We did what we could to help those affected.

We are now faced with the aftermath of these tragic events. We must come to grips with our losses and mourn the sixty residents of Middlesex County who are listed among the dead and missing and we must continue to do what we can to help.

I feel that this Board should take an affirmative step to assist the immediate families of those, in our community, who were lost. I am proposing, following the lead of Rutgers University, that if members of the immediate families of those lost in the terrorist attack of September 11th should apply to the Middlesex County College, that they be admitted tuition-free. I am further proposing that the cost of that admission be covered by an appropriation of this Board to be paid to the County College so that their annual revenues will be sufficient to cover their operating costs.

This is a small gesture on the part of this county to the families of its murdered citizens. It is in all of our best interests to see that our young people receive the best possible education. Since the immediate families of our lost neighbors have now been wrongfully deprived of their support, this County Government should step forward to assure them that first-class higher education opportunities are still available for them, regardless of their economic circumstances. I hope the Board will support me in this proposal, which I plan to share following tonight's meeting with the Middlesex County College Board of Trustees.