Students’ heroism saves classmate
At council, local heroes honored, new capital projects planned
by Adriana Rambay Fernández
Reporter staff writer
Mar 03, 2013 | 6988 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LOCAL HERO – Secaucus resident Menchu DeLuna Sanchez was presented with the keys to the city by Councilman Gary Jeffas and Mayor Michael Gonnelli for her heroic acts during Hurricane Sandy.
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In a moment full of emotion and pride, the Secaucus mayor and Town Council recognized several local heroes Tuesday night who have stepped forward for the sake of others.

Secaucus resident Menchu DeLuna Sanchez, dressed in her nurse’s uniform because she had to work Tuesday evening, stood next to Mayor Michael Gonnelli and Councilman Gary Jeffas as they presented her with the keys to the city.

When New York University Langone Medical Center lost power on Oct. 29 due to the tidal surge, Sanchez, a registered nurse, organized the neonatal intensive care nurses and doctors to carry 20 babies down nine flights of stairs. She made several trips to retrieve babies.

“What you did was such a heroic event that the President of the United States recognized you for it,” said Gonnelli. “I’m sure we can’t match that…and this isn’t the White House, but this is your home.”

Gonnelli was referring to the evening of Feb. 12 when Sanchez, was seated next to Michelle Obama and was honored during the State of the Union Address.

On Tuesday, Sanchez was moved to tears as Gonnelli described her actions.


“You are a credit to your profession and an example to all of us” – Gary Jeffas


“I know everyone of the [babies] has survived and is doing well,” said Gonnelli.

While Sanchez was taking care of them, her home in Secaucus was flooding.

“You are a credit to your profession and an example to all of us,” said Jeffas as he read the proclamation.

Students to the rescue

Several high school students along with High School Educator Michael Vitulano and Dr. Robert “Bob” Berckes were recognized with a proclamation for acting as first responders when a student had a seizure.

“They jumped in and did what had to be done to really ensure the safety of that student,” said Gonnelli.

According to the proclamation, students Carmella Losurdo and Jason Mitchell ran to their classmate’s aid. Meanwhile, Kevin Moncado placed his jacket under the student’s head for protection and Losurdo ran to get the nurse and Dr. Bob for help while Nick Mattielo called 911 for assistance. Vitulano kept the classroom calm and oversaw the efforts.

“We really appreciate what you did,” said Gonnelli. “From everything I’ve heard you didn’t panic and you did what’s right and you probably saved a life.”

Councilman James Clancy read the proclamation. A former educator in the school district, he recalled that he taught some of the students when they were in the seventh grade.

Public improvements planned

The mayor and council introduced an ordinance for various public improvements totaling $4,450,000, which includes an addition to the County Avenue fire house for $2.25 million, improvements to parks for $110,000, and rehabilitating the Division of Public Works garage for $50,000 among others. The town also plans to install handicap-accessible doors at the Secaucus Recreation Center for $35,000, partially fund a new tower ladder fire truck for $550,000, and replace or purchase new equipment for the Fire Department for $77,000.

The town also plans to get a number of new vehicles including a recycling garbage truck with a snow plow for the DPW, an SUV and pickup truck for the Fire Department, a van for the Recreation Department, and an SUV for Senior Services, which adds up to $398,000.

Other costs relate to upgrading, purchasing, or replacing communication and technology equipment.

In a separate matter for introduction, the town also issued a separate bond ordinance for $80,000 to pay for various improvements at the Swim Center. The date for the public hearing is Mar. 26.

Professional service contracts awarded

McManimon & Scotlan, LLP were hired to serve as special bond counsel for $10,000.

Krei Ann Enlentowicz, Esq. was hired as an associate attorney for $125 an hour not to exceed $40,000. The law offices of Thomas J. Koehl were retained as a public defender for $290 per session not to exceed $30,000.

Krivit & Krivit, P.C. has been brought on as special counsel and federal regulatory specialist for $155 an hour not to exceed $50,000.

Otterstedt Insurance Agency was hired to serve as a risk management consultant. Bruno and Associates received a contract to serve as a local and state grant writer for $75 an hour, not to exceed $40,000.

The Secaucus Animal Hospital has been retained as the town veterinarian for services not to exceed $40,000 and the Animal Hospital and Laser Surgery Center has been contracted for an amount not to exceed $20,000.

Other business

--A number of firefighters and police officers will undergo training in preparation for any disaster that may take place at the train station during the upcoming Super Bowl in 2014.

--The Office of Emergency Management seeks volunteers. For more information, visit:

--The council and mayor passed 13 resolutions that authorized Peter J. Zipp, Esq., special tax attorney, to execute on behalf of the town in matters related to stipulations of settlements for various tax complaints.

Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at

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