A hair-razing adventure
Guttenberg students and teachers shave their locks for cancer
by Samantha Meyers
Reporter Staff Writer
May 01, 2016 | 773 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FUNDRAISER
ALL SMILES – Eighth grader Jack Burgos shaved his head for St. Baldric’s. Photo by Nathan Rosario.
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Eighth grader Fernando Ortiz, 14, of Guttenberg lost a young friend to cancer years ago. While participating at a cancer fundraiser last week at the Anna L. Klein School, he said, “At least we have bigger hearts than everyone. When I get older I want to donate a lot of money to cancer. Over $10,000.” Ortiz and his fellow eighth grader Jack Burgos, 14, didn’t have thousands to donate to the St. Baldrick’s volunteer cancer charity on April 22. But they had hair. At a school event that day, students and teachers offered to shave their heads and give a donation of $10 to cancer research. Burgos’ little brother, Joshua Burgos, 12, also was among those participating.
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“When I get older I want to donate a lot of money to cancer. Over $10,000.” – Eighth grader Fernando Ortiz
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St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer charity that funds research and cures for childhood cancers. Jack said he watched a video about St. Baldrick’s in an assembly, and learned that cancer treatment made patients sick or bald. Seeing the video and knowing his friend was participating convinced him to get involved last-minute. “Shaving your head doesn’t change you,” he said. “You’re still the same person.” Another eighth grader, Francisco Travieso, 14, decided the same day to shave his head and donate. He said, “It’s for a good cause, and it’s also to better myself.” Joshua Burgos added, “It’s for cancer, so it’s worth it.” Superintendent Michelle Rosenberg, Constituent Services Aide Cindy Trejo, and Board of Education member Marisol Montanez, along with Councilman Wayne Zitt worked together on the event in hopes of raising $5,000 for St. Baldrick’s. During the prior month, students, teachers, and police officers were also able to donate to the cause. Teachers paid $10 to take part in a dress-down day. The school alone raised a total of $1,236 from the shaving event. Other events leading up to it brought the town’s total contribution to $4,000 for St. Baldric’s. Samantha Meyers can be reached at samantham@hudsonreporter.com .
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Torch passed
North Bergen police raise money for Special Olympics
by Samantha Meyers
Reporter Staff Writer
May 01, 2016 | 176 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COPS
HANGING OUT WITH COPS – Moses Holloway, 10, and Langston Holloway, 8, sit in a North Bergen police car. Moses participates in the Special Olympics.
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The North Bergen Police Department hosted a fundraiser and sold t-shirts last week in order to raise money for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics on June 10 at 9 a.m. The mission of the run is to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics. The Special Olympics World Games allow disabled athletes to compete every two years. In the Law Enforcement Torch Run, officials run to their assigned section of town to grab a torch, and pass it on to the next section of town. Eventually it ends up in another city, such as Philadelphia.
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“What better way to be charitable than with the community?” – Police Chief Robert Dowd
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Officers Daniel Brown and Gleny Henry planned last week’s fundraiser and coordinated it with Applebee’s on 88th Street. At the restaurant, the police sold shirts, and 10 percent of Applebee’s proceeds from the day were to go toward the cause. In June the run will start on 91st and Bergenline Avenue, and the police will make their way towards the north side of Newark Avenue. Sgt. Roberto Ruiz will follow police on his motorcycle to watch for traffic. Raising money A week ago Friday, police stood near the entrance with Applebee’s employees to greet guests and hand out lollipops. “People usually come with kids to eat,” Henry said, “and it’s good for them to see us in a positive light instead of pulling people over.” Last year, the officers raised $13,000 for the Special Olympics through charity events. According to Police Chief Robert Dowd, they are in the top 10 fundraisers among police departments in New Jersey, and have been for more than four decades. Lists of the top 10 fundraising NJ PDs were on the back of the t-shirts sold outside. Lt. Arthur Del said, “The community interaction is more important than the money. So even if we raise less than $300, the community is still cheering on the PD, so money is nothing compared that.” Dowd said Officer Saray Durango is the biggest fundraiser in the community policing unit. Dowd knew Durango since she was in high school. He said she was, and still is, a great athlete he coached. Durango started past events like the biggest loser challenge for the PD, and masquerade and Halloween parties. Dowd said, “It’s nice seeing her part of the PD. The whole unit does a great job.” He added, “Kids get involved in the race, and we’re happy to get involved in it. Hopefully after me it still goes on. What better way to be charitable than with the community?” Samantha Meyers can be reached at samantham@hudsonreporter.com .
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CRADDOCK, GEORGIA
May 01, 2016 | 58 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Funeral services took place April 26 at Monumental Baptist Church, Jersey City for Georgia Craddock, a lifelong resident of Jersey City. She passed away April 21. She was the wife of the late Watkins Craddock; mother of the late Ricardo and Carlton Craddock, Denise Robinson; daughter of the late Joseph and Florence Dabney; grandmother of Edward Robinson, Carlton (Mayra) Robinson and Tyrone Robinson and his wife April; great-grandmother of Carlton Jones, Jessie Matos, Tyrone Shuler Robinson, Gregory Guerra Robinson and the late Eric Matos; great-great grandmother of four; sister of Ronald Dabney; nephew Joseph Pierre. Also survived by a host of many relatives and friends. Services arranged by the Watson Mortuary Service, Jersey City.
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Butting heads
Prieto emerges as leading contender against Christie on Atlantic City issue
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
May 01, 2016 | 195 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
UP IN SMOKE – Atlantic City finances are in chaos and the state must act. But a battle is being waged over which plan to adopt.
UP IN SMOKE – Atlantic City finances are in chaos and the state must act. But a battle is being waged over which plan to adopt.
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Ranked among the top 10 most powerful people in the county by The Hudson Reporter over the last few years, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto of Secaucus has become the most visible opponent to Gov. Christopher Christie in regards to Atlantic City rescue efforts. Prieto said last week that this is not the first time that he has stood up to Christie. The Atlantic City conflict is simply their most high profile confrontation. As speaker of the state Assembly, Prieto is arguably the second or third most powerful political figure in the state. “The governor has accused me of doing the bidding of Mayor [Steven] Fulop,” Prieto said. “While I listen – as [Hudson County] Democratic chairman and assemblyman – to the concerns of all 12 mayors in Hudson County, I am not controlled by Mayor Fulop.” Prieto has been a member of the state Assembly since December 2004, and has served as speaker since January, 2014. He represents the 32nd District that includes Secaucus, North Bergen, and other parts of Hudson County. He is also chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization.
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“If we just give back what the state takes out of the city, the city couldn’t need aid.” – Vincent Prieto
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A Cuban-American, Prieto came to the United States after fleeing Communist Cuba in 1971 and moved to North Hudson – known at the time as “Havana on the Hudson.” A resident of Secaucus, he served as construction code official there for a time before being named as chair of the buildings department. “I take a very blue collar approach to things,” Prieto said. Atlantic City is at risk Christie and Sweeney have blasted Prieto as an obstructionist, claiming that his stance on unions threatens to lead to Atlantic City’s demise. Although some of its financial deadlines have been extended, most expect the city to collapse financially if the state does not intervene. Casino revenues have collapsed, partly as a result of competition closer to New York and other major cities. Revenue from casino gambling has been used to fund a number of programs throughout the state including many that serve disabled and senior citizens. Hudson County government recently had to fund a senior transportation fund previously paid for by casino revenues. This war of words waged against Prieto is largely due to the fact that Prieto has refused to sign off on an Atlantic City financial rescue that completely guts collective bargaining and other safeguards. Prieto said he hadn’t intended to become a leading spokesperson against legislation proposed by state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and backed by Christie. But the issue, he said, is too important for him to simply go along with. In mid-April, Prieto proposed alternative legislation for helping Atlantic City, something he said he believes would accomplish much of what the Sweeney bill would but without violating the basic principles of oversight. Prieto said the Sweeney takeover bill goes too far and threatens existing collective bargaining contracts. His measure would include the creation of a five-member “Atlantic City Planning Committee” featuring the city’s mayor and council president that would, among other things, be able to renegotiate the terms of most public contracts without complete state oversight. “The governor will still have control of the committee since he will be able to select three of the five members,” Prieto said. Prieto said he objected to the fact that one person appointed by the governor would have power to buy and sell land, suspend collective bargaining agreements, hire and fire, and other things without oversight by anyone except the chair of the state’s Local Finance Board and perhaps Gov. Christie. Under the Sweeney bill, the director of the Local Finance Board or his designee will oversee Atlantic City and have power to hire and fire, end or award contracts, sell property, and do away with ordinances or labor contracts. “This would disfranchise the people of Atlantic City,” Prieto said. “Their public officials would no longer represent them. This appointee could strip the city, sell off its assets without oversight. This cannot be one-person totalitarian government. Those assets are owned by the residents.” Prieto committee would have similar powers but with more oversight While the committee he proposed would have similar powers to cut spending, and help restore Atlantic City finances, it would be limited to a year, and there would be representatives from other parts of the community, not just from the governor. “My bill would set up a committee. The governor would still appoint three of the five seats but a special master would be appointed by the chief justice,” Prieto said. Christie, however, has said he would veto any bill other than the one that Sweeney had proposed, and has accused Prieto of catering to unions rather than the overall public interest. Prieto said he believes in the collective bargaining process. But his real objection is leaving the power to do so much in one person’s hands without appropriate oversight by the community it most affects. Prieto said Sweeney’s bill would also exempt the state from unfair labor practices law. He said allowing the state to have this power over Atlantic City leaves open every other municipality in the state to similar takeover and suspension of labor agreements everywhere. “Is Atlantic City government bloated?” Prieto said. “Yes, but that can be remedied without giving up basic rights.” Prieto said the city has already begun to downsize the number of its employees, and the state could do more by allowing the elimination of managerial jobs, rather than insisting on doing away with contracts for the rank and file employees. The state can help Atlantic City finances in a number of ways, giving the city emergency loans, allowing the state’s Local Finance Board to adopt a plan for liquidation of the city’s debt, or require all future collective bargaining agreements be subject to review and approval by the Local Finance Board. But perhaps a quicker remedy is to cease allowing the state to take money out of Atlantic City and allow revenues generated by such things as the hotel tax to be used in Atlantic City. Currently the state takes all of the hotel taxes from Atlantic City for the state general fund. The state also refuses to return some of the taxes generated by the casinos themselves. Prieto's version would set up a benchmark system that would eventually allow the committee to make the types of changes allowed in the Senate version if the city's finances don't improve. Like legislation passed by the Senate, Prieto's measure would allow the city's casinos to make payments in lieu of taxes. Prieto has tangled with the governor before Prieto said he came into the Assembly speakership with a strong work ethic. “I insist on educating myself on every issue,” he said. “I don’t depend on what people tell me. I want to see for myself. Don’t tell me the water is cold, I want to feel it for myself.” He hadn’t intended to take on the lead role against Christie. But he said challenging some of Christie’s proposals started early. They simply didn’t get the fanfare Atlantic City issue has. “I have an elephant’s memory,” he said. “I remember conversations other people don’t remember.” One of the early battles with Christie involved police and fire arbitration, the rules of which were about to expire. Police and fire fighters can’t strike. So the state set up arbitration. “The governor wanted something I disagreed with,” Prieto said. Prieto stood his ground and eventually got a negotiation that would not have happened. He and Christie had a similar confrontation on bail reform. “But I haven’t been on the rooftops shouting about it,” he said. With the Atlantic City issue, Christie and Sweeney have had meetings with the mayor of Atlantic City, meetings to which Prieto has not been invited. “They are trying to ram this takeover down the city’s throat,” Prieto said. “I think collective bargaining needs to be protected. This goes to my core beliefs and I’m not about to compromise civil liberties.” Prieto said he doesn’t see the Atlantic City financial situation in the same way the others do. “I don’t see the glass as half empty or half full,” he said. “I think we can quench the thirst with half a glass.” By this, he means that allowing Atlantic City to use some of its own resources that are currently being diverted to the state, the state may be able to resolve some of the fiscal issues. Although Atlantic City has some of the poorest residents in the state, it receives only $17 million in state aid for education. This is because when the casinos were blooming the city was considered wealthy. This changed when the casino income crashed. Prieto said population numbers for the city have been distorted, too. “The governor says Atlantic City has a population of 39,000 people. We think it is about 80,000 to 90,000 and has high as 200,000 with visitors from out of the city,” Prieto said. “We looked at the emergency room admissions which were 21,000 last year. Using the governor’s population figures, this means that two out of three residents of Atlantic City went to the hospital last year.” The state takes all of Atlantic City’s parking revenues annually, and unlike other cities such as Secaucus and Jersey City, none of the hotel tax in Atlantic City remains in Atlantic City. “If we just give back what the state takes out of the city, the city couldn’t need aid,” Prieto said. “But I’m beating my head against a wall.” Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.
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Biggest ‘Taste of Weehawken’ ever
Sold-out event raises more than $19,000 for library
by Art Schwartz
Reporter staff writer
May 01, 2016 | 225 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

“It’s a bigger crowd than ever,” said Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, winding his way through the room full of enthusiastic gourmands. “Enormous.” “It was a huge success this year,” added Holly Pizzuta, director of operations and administration for the Weehawken Public Library. So successful was the event that at one point the organizers had to stop selling tickets at the door because of the turnout. “But we changed our mind,” said Pizzuta. “We were able to let more people in and accommodate everybody.” Altogether 470 tickets were sold, bringing in approximately $19,250 for charity. Taste of Weehawken, now in its 16th year, is held in the food court at Lincoln Harbor to raise funds for the historic library so they can continue to expand their programs with thing like art exhibits, guest lecturers, and technology enhancements. And it’s done in the most enjoyable way possible: with a feast of grand proportions. This year more than 30 of the area’s top eateries showcased their cuisine at the event on Tuesday, April 26. Attendees savored delicacies from local restaurants, caterers, bakers, and food specialty shops, along with more than 150 varieties of wine, beer, and cordials supplied by Giannone Wine and Liquor in Hoboken. “The community really comes out and helps the library,” said Pizzuta, who has attended since inception 16 years ago. “Winter is over, spring coming, and everybody’s happy.” Mmm, dessert… “We’re regular Taste of Weehawken junkies,” said Liz Grecco, attending for the ninth time. “It’s so good.” Joining her was Christine Mantineo, an English teacher at Weehawken High School. The two friends enthusiastically recommended the blackened shrimp scampi over herb couscous as well as the chocolate covered strawberries. And while the pair may have been just a teensy bit biased – the items were prepared and served by the students in the school’s culinary arts program, taught by Mantineo’s husband, Joe – the delectable treats were a huge favorite with the crowd.
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“We’re regular Taste of Weehawken junkies. It’s so good.” – Liz Grecco
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Desserts were popular as always, with their own section of the venue. Union City resident Niurka “Nikki” Medrano was back for the second year, handing out samples of her homemade desserts alongside her mom and six-year-old daughter, Melissa. “It’s going great,” she said with a smile. Medrano started her business, thejammingcupcakes.com, in 2010 and works out of a rented kitchen. “It’s not full time yet but I’m working towards it,” she said. Weehawken resident Kathryn Marlow, who describes herself as “like a mad scientist” creating new and interesting chocolate confections, brought several varieties of her Kathryn’s Confections to the event. Despite bringing record amounts of treats, “We’re running low,” she said toward the end of the evening. “There’s a lot of people here.” High end cuisine Several of the area’s powerhouse restaurants offered superb dishes in support of the library. Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen dished out penne vodka and chicken francese from their catering menu. Amanda’s in Hoboken served a marvelous quinoa salad on roasted beets with spring peas, mint, and goat cheese. Jack Austin’s, a new addition to Lincoln Harbor, served a spicy chili and mouth-watering breakfast burgers with fried egg and Taylor ham on and English muffin. “This is a Sriracha marinated grilled salmon with a cucumber and tzatziki sauce,” said Chart House Sous Chef Jose Gonzalez. “You get the coolness, the heat, and the crunch.” The item was actually on tryout to see how patrons liked it. “Every season we’re looking for new things to put on the menu just to keep it vibrant and fresh. Obviously the new trend now is Sriracha. About five years ago it was all about bacon. Bacon was like the duct tape of the culinary world. Everybody was doing bacon. It shifted to an Asian culture-infused system where everybody was doing something with Asian cuisine.” And what was the response to the new item? “It’s definitely going on the menu. Probably next month.” McLoone’s Pier House in Hoboken was represented for the second year in a row with their exquisite crab cakes. “We’ve been in Hoboken two years but we have 12 other locations down the shore, like Asbury Park, Long Branch,” said Executive Chef Juan Gonzalez. “All in Jersey except for one. This is our signature dish. It’s in all our locations. The original location in Sea Bright, destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, is scheduled to reopen next week. Food from around the world Local favorite Charrito’s, with locations in Weehawken and Hoboken, was kept busy handing out both chilaquiles and taquitos. “They’re Charrito’s classics,” said Amara Arias, manager of the Hoboken branches. “There were a lot of people this year, but luckily we lasted. Everything ran out about 8:30.” An area mainstay, Charrito’s opened in Union City 23 years ago before relocating to Boulevard East. But remnants of the original hole-in-the-wall location, with its memorable mural, remain. “The owner didn’t want to lose that wall so he has pieces of it hung in the office,” said Arias. A third Charrito’s is scheduled to open at Fifth Street and Washington in Hoboken shortly, while the one on First and Washington is switching to an all-vegetarian/vegan menu. El Unico de Elena in Union City returned to Taste of Weehawken this year with an even bigger selection of Hispanic delights. “We planned a little better this year because we always used to bring really big trays of food,” said Adrian Rivero. “Now we bring smaller but a variety.” Joining Rivero at the event was restaurant owner Maria Montes, manager Jesus Aquilar, and the restaurant’s founder, 92-year-old Juan Montes. By the end of the evening, patrons had scooped up every last morsel of their food. Founded in 2009, A Touch of Spice has been bringing their enticing Indian delights to Taste of Weehawken for five years. “We live in Weehawken,” said owner Praveen Nair. “I grew up here. My sister and I went to school here. So I always wanted to start something in my own hometown. I love this place. I love the people.” Taste of Weehawken not only offers them a chance to give back to the community, it provides a boost for local establishments as well. “A small business like us, compared with Ruth’s Chris and Houlihan’s and everything, we need publicity as much as possible,” said Nair. “We always meet new people here, and our current customers come up with their friends and rave about us” A full bar Food fans were not the only ones to enjoy a smorgasbord at this year’s Taste of Weehawken. Giannone Wine and Liquor once again provided 12 tables of wine, beer, and spirits, bringing local distributors with a wide variety of offerings to sample. “We wanted to get a good assortment of styles so we did an IPA and a porter, some light, some dark,” said Nicholas Melissari, proud bearer of the job title “Craft Beer Ambassador” for Kohler Distributing Company. “We also picked what’s selling well in the area and what’s doing well with Giannone’s.” That included relatively exotic offerings like Scofferhoffer grapefruit beer and Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Elsewhere, attendees could get their first taste of New Belgium Fat Tire Beer, just approved for sale in New Jersey a couple of months ago. Other tables offered everything from Guyanese rum to single-village mezcals. “These two mezcals are both made from the same variety of agave, but they’re from different locations and it affects the end result in much the same way it would in a wine,” said Chelsea Kaiser, from Skurnik Wines. “You’re really getting a markedly different product from essentially the same ingredients.” Giannone was also among the contributors to the raffle drawing for those attendees who paid extra to show up early. Their entry was a free wine tasting for 50 people. A great community Martha Thomas from Jersey City Heights was attending the event for the fourth time, after a hiatus of three years. “I enjoy going and it’s for a wonderful, worthy cause,” she said. Her favorite items? “The steak and the sweet potatoes with walnuts from Ruth’s Chris. Excellent, excellent, excellent. And the strawberries made by the high school culinary students.” Joining her for the first time was her friend and neighbor Julie Gebhardt. “I would definitely come back,” she said. “It was like a reunion. You bump into people from high school, grammar school. It was so nice.” Weehawken resident Sandra Gail Frayna is an old hand at the event, having attended for the past four years. “I love it,” she gushed. “I love my food. I love my food.” With her was her boyfriend, Rodrigo Gazali, at the event for the first time. A former resident of Clifton, he remembers Weehawken from another era. “The waterfront used to be a dump,” he said. “Weehawken is so nice now. The waterfront is beautiful. Where we live is so quiet, so peaceful and safe. It’s really a great community.” Weehawken resident Pedram Mirhaji concurred. A library employee and substitute teacher at the school, he volunteered at Taste of Weehawken to be a “runner,” keeping the tables stocked with knives, forks, napkins, ice, and whatever else they needed. “I work for the township and I owe the town a lot so I’m more than happy to help anytime they ask me to,” he said. “Weehawken’s a very tight-knit community. That’s what I love about it.” This was his third year as a runner. The big question: Does a runner get to stop and eat? “Yeah, for like five minutes,” he said. “But it’s definitely worth it for those five minutes.” Participants in this year’s Taste of Weehawken included Amanda’s Restaurant, Ben & Jerry’s, The Cake Lounge Restaurant/Palermo’s Bakery, Los Charritos, Chart House Restaurant, Cucharamama/Ultramarino’s/Zafra , Del Frisco’s Grille, Flaming Burritos, G.P.’s, Gladis Homemade Cakes, Haven Riverfront Restaurant & Bar, Houlihan’s Weehawken, Jack Austin’s, The Jamming Cupcakes, Karma Kafe, Kathryn’s Confections, Lorraine’s Table, McLoone’s Pier House, Molos Restaurant, McLoone’s Pier House, Pier 115 Bar & Grill, Porto Leggero, Robongi, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Shakin’ Café Juice Bar, Son Cubano, Sunday Gravy NYC, Touch of Spice, El Unico de Elena, Waterside Restaurant and Catering, Weehawken High School Culinary Arts Program, and more. The venue was donated by Hartz Mountain.
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