Joe Villanella, who owns a graphics business in New York, says he has done printing work for the town of West New York since July of 2011 and that the town owed him around $6,700 that he was unable to collect – until he took his plight to News 12’s “Kane in Your Corner.
“I got so desperate I called News 12,” Villanella told the Reporter on Wednesday. “I do not have the final check in my hand, but it has been acknowledged like never before.”
A few days after the report aired on Feb. 22, he received a check for around $1,000 from the town, he said.
“The assistant town attorney, the mayor, and the town clerk assured me that I will have the balance [for $3,974] on March 30, because they approve bills on March 22,” Villanella reported. He added that the town’s normal policy is to mail a check, but that he was told by the city clerk that someone will call him on the 30th, after which he will be allowed to pick up the balance from West New York Town Hall.
Villanella claims the town called him in December to place another order, and he told them he would not do any more work until he got paid for his previous work.
“It takes about three months for a municipality to pay out to vendors,” West New York Mayor Felix Roque said about the matter on Wednesday. “I am extremely happy [Villanella] has decided not to do business with us again. It’s about protecting the taxpayers’ money.”
In January, after submitting seven invoices, Villanella says he went to Town Hall personally and discovered that the outstanding bills had never been entered into the system.
“Everyone was courteous and tried to figure out what had gone wrong, but after that, I got frustrated and handed the bills over to collection,” he said.
“Every merchant needs to be paid for services rendered,” Roque said. “But the expenses were on one extreme of the bell curve. We’re reviewing the invoices to be sure it’s comparable to what other people are charging in the vicinity.”
“The whole thing took on a whole new life after the News 12 segment aired,” Villanella said. “It’s my opinion that it will be resolved, but it’s pretty sad that I had to go to that extreme.”
United Way donates 4,000 backpacks to WNY elementary schoolers
The gymnasium at West New York’s P.S. 1 bustled with local students, teachers, and United Way members on Feb. 29 as they filled 4,000 backpacks with $50,000 worth of notebooks, folders, pencils, rulers, glue sticks, and sharpeners in assembly-line fashion. Garbage bags full of already-packed packs piled up in the school’s store rooms awaiting distribution to every elementary schooler, grades kindergarten through sixth, in the district.
United Way of Hudson County members Ben Dineen and David Donnely said this marks the organization’s third year donating backpacks to schools in Hudson County. Their first year, they donated 8,000 packs. This year, they will have donated a total of 21,000 and have raised $120,000 for the cause.
They work in conjunction with local organizations who donate money to United Way for this specific purpose.
“We wanted to do something for the community that would really have an impact,” Dineen said. “What do kids need as the first step toward success? Supplies.”
United Way takes the business’ donations and works with retailers to buy the supplies in bulk at discounted cost, they deliver them to the schools, and local volunteers help put it all together.
“Our volunteers packed over 2,000 bags within two and a half hours,” P.S. 1 Principal Nelson Lopez said Wednesday. “I think that’s pretty fantastic.”
1-year-old girl killed in WNY in uncle’s alleged drunk driving accident
Ramesh Murugesapillai of Guttenberg, 30, was arrested Saturday night and charged with vehicular homicide after allegedly driving under the influence and ending up in a head-on collision with another car, killing his 1-year-old niece who was a passenger in his car, West New York Police Director Michael Indri said Monday.
Murugesapillai was driving up Blvd. East between 60th and 61st streets at around 9:30 p.m. with six passengers. His niece was allegedly being held by her mother and not secured in a car seat, Indri said. He allegedly veered into oncoming traffic and struck another vehicle.
The child was first brought to Jersey City Medical Center, and upon arrival there, she was airlifted to Hackensack University Medical Center, where she died at around 2 a.m., Indri reported.
“If that child had been strapped in, it would have just been a bad accident with a DUI,” Indri stated, “but now there’s a 1-year-old dead.”
Murugesapillai was charged with vehicular homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, assault by auto, reckless driving, not having a child-restraint system and four other DUI charges, Indri said.
“It’s a tragedy 10 times over,” Indri added. “There is nothing the court could do that would ever truly serve justice in this matter. It’s so frustrating and heartbreaking because it was avoidable.”
Hudson Theatre Works to hold benefit evening
Hudson Theatre Works will hold a benefit evening on March 21 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Park Avenue Bar & Grill in Union City located at 3417 Park Ave. The fundraiser will support the theatre company and help to fully stage a play this coming year.
The evening’s events will be hosted by Nancy Giles from CBS News and will include performances by various artists, including actor Patrick Richwood, violinist Eric Grossman, woodwind players Alan Brady and Jeff Nichols, and readings by Nancy Giles, Greg Erbach, and Sean Patrick Riley.
Tickets cost $65 a piece or two for $120, and there will be food and silent auctions.
For more information visit www.hudsontheatreworks.org, or call (201) 401-3337.
UC Civic Association offers free income tax service
The Brian P. Stack Civic Association will offer free income tax service to residents in need of help on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 17 is the last day to file state and federal income taxes.
Those interested may contact the association located at 1202 Summit Ave. or call (201) 863-8583 to make an appointment.
William V. Musto Cultural Center to host art exhibit
The William V. Musto Cultural Center, located at 420 15th St. in Union City, will host the opening reception of Liza Calache’s new art exhibit entitled “Let’s Go Crazy” on Friday, March 16 at 7 p.m. Calache will be present at the event to discuss her work.
Attendants will also be treated to a special performance by multi-award winning pianist, arranger, conductor, singer/songwriter Tracy Stark. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served. Everyone in the community is invited to attend.
Union City to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Mayor Brian P. Stack and the Board of Commissioners will hold two events in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
On Friday, March 16 at 12 p.m. at International Park located at 3700 Palisade Ave., the city will have a flag-raising ceremony. The mayor and commissioners will be present, the city’s Irish Persons of the Year will be introduced, and John Nisbet will play bagpipe music.
The Annual Senior Citizen St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon will be held on Saturday, March 17 at 12 p.m. at Jose Martí Freshman Academy located at 1800 Summit Ave. Refreshments will be served and there will be live music and entertainment.
Segunda Quimbamba to hold dance and drum workshops
The Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs will offer Puerto Rican dancing and drumming classes to adults and children over eight years of age at the Cobra Fencing Club located at 629 Grove St. in Jersey City. Classes will be held Sunday afternoons from March 18 through June 4. Dance classes will run from 2 to 3 p.m., and drum classes will run from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.
Open registration will he held through April 15. Email email@example.com or call Segunda Quimbamba Folkloric Center at (201) 420-6332 for more information. The venue is partially wheelchair accessible and students with special requests or accommodation needs should contact Nanette Hernandez at the above number or email.
Hispanic Youth Showcase to hold talent search in WNY
The nationally recognized Emmy Award winner and multi-Emmy nominated television special “Hispanic Youth Showcase” will hold auditions by invitation only at West New York Middle School located at 201 57th St. on Saturday, March 31, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To enter the competition, contestants must ask a school teacher, music or dance instructor to nominate them with an e-mail recommendation letter sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 10. A DVD of the participant’s talent must be sent to Hispanic Youth Showcase 2012 c/o William Q. Sanchez, Executive Producer, 179 Little St., Belleville, NJ, 07109 by March 20.
Entry categories include:
-Kid dancers, ages 4 to 7
-Junior Division, ages 8 to 12 (dancers, singers, and instrumentalists)
-Junior dance duo/trio, ages 8 to 12
-Teen Division, ages 13 to 17 (dancers, singers, and instrumentalists)
-Teen dance duo/trio, ages 13 to 17
-Group dance, ages 13 to 17
There is no entry fee. Finalists will be announced in late April. Call (856) 203-0533 for information.
PERC to hold Welcome to Summer Gala
Palisades Emergency Residence Corporation, which runs a homeless shelter in Union City and offers various services for the needy in Hudson County, will hold its Welcome to Summer Gala fundraiser on May 22 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. atThe Graycliff, located at 122 Moonachie Rd. in Moonachie, N.J.
PERC will celebrate 31 years of providing shelter, food, services, and those in need in Hudson County with a cocktail hour, dinner, auction, and raffle.
For more information, contact PERC at (201) 348-8150 or e-mail email@example.com.
Hispanic Business Council Scholarship Foundation deadline approaches
The Hispanic Business Council Scholarship Foundation of NJ, Inc. is accepting applications for the annual scholarship and stipend awards for current college and college-bound Hispanic students for the 2012-2013 school term.
The HBCSF, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, has a mission to advance the educational aspirations of Hispanic students to become professionals, leaders, and valued citizens of the community.
The current application can be accessed through www.hbcsf.org and is open to all New Jersey residents of Hispanic heritage. Applications and all required information must be postmarked by Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012.