Clifton Merchant Magazine - January 2023

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Clifton is angry. You can see and hear it from our seven council members and nine board of education commissioners who too often are combative, creating a lack of civility rather then a spirit of cooperation to solve issues.

Then there are the audience members at civic meetings who hiss, boo and use profanity to shout down their perceived opponents. Often the focus is the same folks who are actually our fellow neighbors and elected officials.

Online things are worse. That’s where Clifton residents can percolate rumors to fuel the frenzy of anti-this-or-that with the power of anonymity. It’s a no-holds-barred arena where words become weapons and rumors become reality.

From the halls of Congress, in the national media, and around our hometown, there has been this creeping cynicism and a growing divide that has been fueled by everything from the pandemic and vaccines to voting rights and elections results. And of course the selection of mayor.

The sick thing about this lack of decorum is that there is a new meaning for it: angertainment, “Programming, and especially talk shows and talk radio, which is characterized by anger or which provokes anger in its audience.”

That’s the feeling I get from the Tuesday night council meetings. Grown adults get up before the microphone to rage and riff, firing up others, creating rumors, fear and despair. Then the elected officials respond and it gets crazier.

Pictured here from the left are our new council: Ray Grabowski, Bill Gibson, Lauren Murphy, Tony Latona, Rosemary Pino, Joe Kolodziej and Mary Sadrakula. As we go to press on Jan. 3, they are to meet at 6 pm to select a mayor. But sorry, I’m not going to hold the press.

What I am more concerned with is the future. Clifton has changed much over the last two decades. To grow, our leaders need to be strong, respectful, progressive, inclusive and yet tuned in to our history. Change and evolution are not easy. Change creates fear and anger is a response to that fear.

So to our elected officials, please drop the pettiness, tune down the harsh words, bring back decorum and do what you have been elected to do: lead.

1288 Main Avenue, Downtown Clifton, NJ 07011 973-253-4400 • turn our pages at 16,000 Magazines are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants on the first Friday of every month. Subscribe $45 per year or $70 for two Call 973-253-4400 Contributing Writers Ariana Puzzo, Joe Hawrylko, Irene Jarosewich, Tom Szieber, Jay Levin, Michael C. Gabriele, Jack DeVries, Patricia Alex © 2022 Tomahawk Promotions follow us on: @cliftonmagazine Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko, Sr. Art Director Ken Peterson Business Mgr. Irene Kulyk Associate Editor & Social Media Mgr. Ariana Puzzo • January 2023 3
From the Editor, Tom Hawrylko


January 2022: Business owners, educators, students, and politicians shared their vision for 2022. Some, pictured below, wanted to see more Clifton residents “shop local”, while others hoped that Clifton would continue to tackle sensitive topics with tough but necessary conversations. “My wish for 2022 is for COVID to go away and that no one has to go through this again,” said 8-year-old Brody DeGennaro. The edition also included a look back on the notable moments in 2021 around our city. Some of the highlights included Clifton schools adapting to remote learning, the community uniting to help our older and most vulnerable residents get vaccinated, and businesses like The Hot Grill celebrating milestone anniversaries.


Mary Sadrakula, Roxanne Cammilleri, and John Biegel.
a ife peop of e fro n ou ut h di d No EL NZ PA D 7011 Tomahawk Promot ons 1288 Ma n Avenue Clif on, NJ 07011 PRSRT STD US Pos age P A I D
Top row: Casey Boutillier, James Anzaldi, Michele Morgan, Andrew Sieradzki, Justine Tomczak, Margaret Kardasz. Middle row: Pamela Fueshko, Gustavo Orales, Kevin Cruz. Bottom row: Santiago Guiran, Ahmad Hamdeh, John O’Reilly. Bottom right: Robert, Thomas, Daniel and Gabriella Marriello.
4 January 2023 •

January 2022: Maurice “Mo” Greene (CHS 2016) pays a visit to his hometown of Clifton and participates in the CCMS Perseverance Series. Greene played football throughout his college career at Division II Stonehill College (Mass.) and Murray State University, a Division I FCS school in Kentucky. His ultimate goal is to play in the NFL. The series enables students to hear how everyday achievers came through CCMS and then knocked down obstacles on their way to life goals.

Jan. 14, 2022: CHS students Luke Kulesa, John Rivas, Andrew Sieradzki, and Romeo Gonzalez are selected to perform with the North Jersey Region Band. WWMS students, Nadine and Ethan, became official members of the 2022 NJSMA Region 1 Orchestra. The concert was held on March 6 in Randolph.

Crunch Clifton, at 895 Paulison Ave., marked its third anniversary on Jan. 25. The day brought about an open house for members, visitors, staff, and owners. Among those connected to the Clifton location is Club Director Aaron Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a certified instructor, is a CHS 2011 grad. The fitness hub marked the special occasion with a “jam party”, including a photo booth, sample classes, meet and greets, and special promotion pricing lasting through February.

Jan. 6, 2022: NBC’s The Voice 2021 Finalist Hailey Mia returns to her hometown and is greeted at Uno’s Pizzeria on Rt. 3 West. Mayor James Anzaldi awarded Hailey a proclamation to recognize her accomplishments.

Jan. 19, 2022: CHS senior Bryan Feliciano is honored at MetLife Stadium as the “Super Football Conference Steve DiGregorio Young Man of the Year” for 2021.

Jan. 21, 2022: names Tom Mullahey in second place and Stan Lembryk number 35 in the Top 40 Power Players in North Jersey High School Sports in 2021. Mullahey is the President of NJSIAA and Clifton’s Athletic Director. Lembryk is the Mustang boys soccer coach.

Jan. 25, 2022: CHS’ Boys Indoor Track & Field team are named the 2022 Passaic County Champions.

Jan. 20, 2022: Clifton senior Jurij Dubas was in the running to become one of the North Jersey Hockey 3 Stars’ of the Week. Dubas stopped 50 shots in the Jan. 14 shutout loss to West Milford/Pequannock in the Passaic County quarterfinals. Two days later against the same West Milford club, he turned away 67 shots in another defeat. • January 2023 5




1968 Mustang Robert Doremus had Clifton’s Battery B immortalized at the turn of the century, shortly after they appeared on Clifton Merchant’s cover in August, 1999.

would Clifton History look like as Simpsons characters?
Jennie Tietjen (CHS 2010) and Marek Gozdz (CHS 2008). Dan Garcia and Alaina Paris-Garcia (CHS 2004) with daughter Autumn and rescue dog Tyrion. Odette and Noel Coronel, Alex and Anthony Barone. Susana Barbetti-Norton & Dan Norton. CHS Danny Green and Ektaa Rana, David and Joann Arroyo.
6 January 2023 •
February 2022: Our writers spoke to long-time couples and those newly in love about how they make relationships and love work. We received all types of responses — healthy communication, showing your partner support, and in some cases, marrying your best friend! Pictured below are just some of the love birds we met.

March 2022: Clifton’s Stop & Shop, at 1189 Broad St., selects Saint Peter’s Haven as the March beneficiary of its Community Bag Program. The Haven, at 380 Clifton Ave., received a $1 donation for every $2.50 reusable bag purchased at the store that month.

March 6, 2022: Clifton and cities around the world mark Black Balloon Day. Dorothy Adlon told of the death of her step-grandson Kyle from an overdose, while others in the magazine spoke about the impact addiction has on those left behind.

Our March edition went beyond addiction and discussed the issues surrounding loss. Others shared how they grieved and continue to heal from losing loved ones. Some lost a loved one a decade ago, whereas others were navigating the early stages of mourning. The link between these respondents was bravery in sharing and a desire to offer hope to those who may be experiencing similar pain.

Accompanying these stories was a Survivor’s Guide. It suggested the important documents to have accessible when a loved one passes — a marriage certificate or military papers, for example — and explained the processes of organ donations, wills, hospice care, funeral planning, and more.

March 1–10, 2022: Botany Village’s George’s Coffee Shop, at 227 Parker Ave, stands with Ukraine. Shop owner Margaret Kardasz posted on the @georgescoffeeshop Instagram page in February that the shop would donate 20% of its sales during the first week of the month to support Ukrainians during wartime.

On March 1, Clifton’s iHop, on Route 3 and Allwood Rd. welcomed all for National Pancake Day. Pictured, John Roe with Clifton owner Kevin O’Neil.

Kerri Fiore shared the story of losing her husband Michael, while the family of the late Danny Listmeier did the same.
8 January 2023 •
Michelle Primavera, Joe Rathberger and their kids Cece and Joleen took home the blue ribbon in Clifton Rec’s Jigsaw Contest on March 16. • January 2023 9

Mid-March 2022: The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) works with the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, and in coordination with the Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton, and Global Emergency Response and Assistance, collected and shipped dozens of boxes of thermal clothing and other personal items to the war front in Ukraine. And on March 28, over 100 people, and imams from various mosques, as well as Clifton and Passaic County political leaders, attend the 6th Clifton Ramadan Fanous Lighting on the Great Lawn of City Hall. Ramadan began April 2 and ended May 2.

March 25, 2022: ROI-NJ recognizes Optical Academy CEO Abby Ayoub with 2022 Influencers: Women in Business. Ranked at number 35, the list included the Top 40 women in business across the state. Optical Academy, at 1430 Main Ave. since 2013, has traveled across the nation for over 12 years and attended over 15,000 onsite events.

Mobile vision founder and CEO of Clifton’s Optical Academy Abby Ayoub was honored in March.

Mustang senior Julian Cerrone shows off some of the serious bling he owns from his ACADECA tenure.

March 31, 2022: The CHS Academic Decathlon team (ACADECA), coached by history teacher Matthew Stuart, qualifies for National Finals for the third consecutive year. The team was led by CHS 2022 co-captains Victoria Olive and Svara Shah. The two-part final took place on March 31 and April 22. CHS placed sixth out of the 14 schools in the Online Large Enrollment division. Julian Cerrone (CHS 2022) was 10th overall.

March 25, 2022:


a global prayer for peace at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson. Holding the Ukrainian flag are Father Stepan Bilyk, of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Whippany, and Father Andriy Dudkevych of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Passaic, and two seminarians.

Bishop Kevin Sweeney leads
10 January 2023 • • January 2023 11


April 2022: From arts, academics and athletics to social justice and activism, our April edition highlighted the different ways that students and faculty are reimagining education. Those that were featured included CHS’ impressive Academic Decathlon team, PCTI students who were front and center at the Passaic County Film Festival, Clifton Key Club leaders, and a number of performing arts students.

The thing that most of the students had in common was strong support. Quite a few of them mentioned specific people in their lives who — in the past or the present — encouraged them to explore their creative options and approach their education in a unique way. “My grandpa had his own business, so he was a really creative person, which really inspired me to do the same,” CHS 2022 grad Louie Habrahamshon told us.

PCTI senior Samantha Olson’s film “Motion Sickness” won the grand prize in the 2022 Passaic County Film Festival. Anna Maria Giaconia turned 100 on April 12. CHS 2015 grad Camille Gomera-Tavarez launched her book “High Spirits” with a party on April 14 at Clifton Main Library.

The Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPC) on Lakeview Ave. responded to the need for supplies in Ukraine and contributed a variety of items as seen here April 7.

April 8, 2022: A Botany City Hall substation, at 207 Parker Ave, opens to provide city health services and offices for the Clifton Community Policing team. A 2019 study conducted by the Clifton Health Department showed that Botany residents lacked access to several city services.

12 January 2023 • • January 2023 13

Mustang Sports incorporates a girls flag football team for the first time. Head coach Michelle Shackil retained a roster of 45 girls, only down five from the original turnout of 50. The team is part of the New Jersey High School Girls Flag Football League.

April 30, 2022: Clifton Health, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and 20 community agencies teamed up to co-host a Community Baby Shower at Main Memorial Park for expecting and new mothers.

April 26, 2022: The Clifton Centennial time capsule is lowered after a two-year delay. The time capsule, buried at City Hall’s Centennial Square, will be unearthed on April 26, 2067, the city’s 150th birthday. It contains city documents and memorabilia, ranging from fads and facts of our era to copies of the Clifton Merchant Magazine.

April 23, 2022: Thirty-three volunteers participate in a Dundee Island clean-up. The volunteers collected 42 bags of plastic, metal, and other trash on the banks of the Passaic River.

April 29, 2022: Clifton Clean Communities volunteers continue to earn the title Tree City USA with a series of plantings in various neighborhoods.

14 January 2023 • • January 2023 15


May 2022: We recognized and celebrated our community’s nurses in May. There were a wide variety of faces under the masks — from public health nurses and school nurses to student nurses and nurse practitioners. Their stories, like their jobs, were all unique. Many spoke of how they got their start in hospitals and how it prepared them for whatever work they presently do.

We also spotlighted entertainment industry performers. We spoke to Sophia Black-D’Elia, whose role in Single Drunk Female was predated by a role closer to home — CHS Class of 2010 grad. During high school, Black-D’Elia also appeared on the longtime ABC soap opera All My Children, before she went on to pursue her acting passion full time. There was also Tommy James of his famous band the Shondells, which had such hits as “Mony, Mony” a few decades back. James and his wife lived in Clifton for about 25 years, during those years.

May 5, 2022: The North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency, at 1481 Main Ave., celebrates its 75th Diamond Anniversary with a “Roaring 75th Gala” at the Brownstone. Established in Clifton in 1947, NJEDDA strives to address the unmet needs of children and adults living with developmental disabilities through medical care, education, and therapy.

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. was at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine to award $775,000 in funding on May 9. It was part of the bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which included $11 million for projects sponsored by Pascrell.

May 4, 2022: Along with the rest of New Jersey, Clifton residents and businesses see a new law go into effect that bans single use bags and paper bags. Polystyrene foam was also banned while plastic straws remained available upon request.

May 14, 2022: Clifton’s COVID-19 Garden dedication took place near the Senior Center two days after the White House’s May 12 announcement that America surpassed one million reported COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic. A three-tier fountain is part of the garden, remembering those who died, first responders and essential workers, and Clifton residents who showed support.

16 January 2023 •

NOVA UA Federal Credit Union on Allwood Road raised $35,000 at a May 14 event for relief efforts in Ukraine. NOVA added $10,000. The $45,000 was forwarded to four 501(c) (3) charitable organizations providing humanitarian aid for Ukraine. • January 2023 17
Among the nurses profiled: Barbara Luzniak, Joanne Hathaway, Ranmi Miyazawa, Wilson Omar Borgono, Mary Ann Madamba, Bozena Dziadon, Annabelle Telebrico, Matthew Brooks, Dianne Zecchino, Wendy Scrudato, Melissa McKay, Mary Ellen, Eugene Osmak, Jane Scarfo, Adeline (DeLiberto) DeVries, and Arianna Dubas, who is studying for her RN at Ramapo.

Dr. Martin Conserva turned 100 on May 27. One of five brothers and four sisters who grew up in Botany, he became a podiatrist on Clifton Ave.

The Woman’s Club of Allwood turned 90 in May. In 1932, a group of women gathered in the home of Mrs. Theodore Travis. Today, the club is led by President Dorothy Gondola and is still closely associated with the Allwood Branch Library.

At the May 18 installation at American Legion Post 347, Commander George Scarfo, Vice Commander Dominick Chiaponne, Adjutant Thomas Haschack and Financial Officer Michael Soccol.

18 January 2023 • • January 2023 19


June 2022: From CHS and other high schools, graduation was upon us. Before they commenced, they brought Clifton Merchant Magazine up to speed about their plans for September, their class’s unsung heroes, and what they regard as their greatest achievements. These achievements ranged from making lifelong friends in Clifton and having the courage to pursue new interests to earning their driver’s license and returning to high school to graduate. The students also worked throughout the city, helping cement and showing their commitment to their community. We also featured the CHS Top 10, top thespians, and others who spoke about how their families, teachers and community prepared them for their futures.

June 1, 2022: The Theater League of Clifton presents CHS Class of 2022 scholarship winners Lukas Kulesa and Liam Reilly with their respective $500 awards. Kulesa received TLC’s scholarship and Reilly received TLC’s Joanne Mazzarisi Memorial Scholarship.

Joseph Viera, Andrew Sieradzki, Jayr Abad, Jurij Dubas, Andrew Potocki, Alessandra Foti, Alyse Turk, Ángel Sanchez. At left, Maria Parham-Talley, Kim Castellano, and School 12 teacher Michelle DeHaven in 2017. Parham-Talley was honored as a mentor to Castellano in helping to launch the Power of One as the group marked its 10th anniversary on June 5. Above, Historic Botany Summer Concert series is under way on Friday evenings at Sullivan Square. Among the performers are Swingman and the Misfit Mutts who rocked the stage on June 25.
20 January 2023 • • January 2023 21

June 10: The School 9 Bulldogs on Brighton Rd., mark the centennial with students, alumni, faculty, staff, and school leaders. June 11: Clifton marks Philippine Independence Day with a flag raising and ceremony on the Great Lawn of City Hall.

June 26: Anna, 9, and Josephine Uzzalino, 7, compete in Girls Shot Put at the AAU Region 1 Qualifier in New Haven. The St. Philip Prep students went on to the 2022 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Greensboro, NC. On Aug. 1, Anna finished 25th age 9 category. Josephine finished 63rd, age 8 and under.

On June 8, Clifton Firefighter Scott Isenhour was named the Firefighter of the Year and Michael Cromey received EMT of the Year from St. Philip’s Knights of Columbus and Clifton FMBA 21.

22 January 2023 •
June 10, 2022: The New Jersey Special Olympics Torch Relay passes along Main Avenue. The relay made a stop at the Clifton Rec building on Washington Avenue. Retired Clifton Police Lt. Frank Dara, Sgt. Buchar Balkar, and Casey Kida were among the 3,000 officers who carried the “Flame of Hope” and kept Clifton athletes safe during the 750 mile relay throughout the state. • January 2023 23
24 January 2023 • • January 2023 25

July 9, 2022: After waiting three seasons due to COVID, the Hawthorne Caballeros return to the turf at Clifton Stadium for their 56th Annual Grand Prix. 2023 will be the 77th year of The Cabs.

On July 6, Clifton Girls Softball earned its first 10u title when they beat Lakeland 3-2 in Wanaque. Players, from left, Mia McIninch, Sophia Cruz, Allie Gonzalvo, Olivia Jovicic, Abby Kelley, Gabby Fusco, Kylee Ocasio, Hailey Ibanez, Natalie Garcia, Valerie Zapata, Violet Pilkin, Mia Fernandez, Gianna Genova, Ruby Peña. Coaches Chris Genova, Jose Cruz, and Kacey Duva.

July 2022: Where are these Mustangs today? Well, everywhere! Clifton Merchant Magazine started its July, 2022 edition with reflecting on past CHS graduating classes. We opened with the Class of 1962, discussing how the landscape was literally changing that year as household brand names like Taco Bell and Wal-Mart took hold. Moving through the decades, we spoke to CHS ’72 grads who were preparing to celebrate their 50th Class Reunion. Some of the things respondents liked and still appreciate about Clifton is its “small town feel” and their ability to protect and serve their hometown in numerous capacities.

Fast forward a few decades — we spoke to Mustangs who made careers in media, education, and even went as far as Afghanistan to make sure our hometown values were protected for generations of Mustangs to come. Some others went in the opposite direction — coming to Clifton with their families to explore new opportunities. In the case of one Kostyantyn Bloshko (CHS 2012), he emigrated with his family from Ukraine in 2002 but never lost his roots.

On July 1, cadet Brian Berthelsen and others graduated the Clifton Junior Police Academy with a salute and pledge to the flag. He is seen with Clifton Detectives Michael Panepinto (left) and Wayne Stine.
26 January 2023 • • January 2023 27

July 12, 2022: Staff members of St. Joseph’s Health’s Centering Pregnancy Program receive the 2022 New Jersey Hospital Association’s (NJHA) Excellence in Patient Experience Award.

July 20, 2022: Clifton’s own Rutt’s Hut is considered the “total hot dog package” by, who ranks it as having the best hot dog in New Jersey. Abe Rutt opened the shop, at 417 River Rd., in 1928. Its current family owners bought the restaurant in 1975.

July 15, 2022: The Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik donates 63 bulletproof vests to Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral, at 635 Broad St. The parish and Father Oleksii Holchuk shipped the supplies to front line soldiers in Ukraine.

July 27, 2022: Nathalie Perez, a group teacher at Clifton Little School, becomes a local hero when she administers infant choking first aid during school pick-up. Perez has taught for five years at the Broad Street school.

July 24, 2022: CCMS eighth grader Samantha Sabina Paccha is crowned as Cover Star at Stellar Role Models National Pageant in Saddle Brook.

The Peruvian Parade on July 31 began in Passaic and followed Main Ave. through Clifton and into Paterson. It’s a celebration of the nation’s independence and the Peruvian culture, explained Guillermo Garcia, the General Manager of the Paulison Avenue ShopRite.
28 January 2023 • • January 2023 29


August 2022: Kyle Terry died from a fentanyl overdose on Sept. 3, 2018 at the age of 28. We spoke with Terry’s mother, Susan Araneo, in August, 2022 about how addiction affected her family. Araneo was candid — “Anything [Kyle] did, he did it to the extreme, and that’s such an addict characteristic,” said Araneo. “When he loved you, he loved you 150%.” Our cover showed Susan, Kyle and his sister Courtney in happier days as well as a lethal dose of fentanyl as compared to the size of a penny. This was done in conjunction with Overdose Awareness Day.

Local Angel Families were fighting addiction stigma and offering support to those in need alongside the group Clifton Against Substance Abuse and its members, including Dorothy Adlon. In our August edition, we also took a look back at 2012. We saw just how much has changed in Clifton’s priorities, as well as on the national stage in the past decade. Do you remember when Vinnie Suaro of Clifton Billiards renovated that second floor gutted pool hall on Harding and Main?

Aug. 26, 2022: New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office reverses its June 16 denial for a new Clifton Adult Opportunity Center Day Program building on the Clifton Municipal Complex’s grounds. The CAOC officially opened its doors in 1982.

Aug. 30, 2022: The Clifton Republican Club donates 45 backpacks and supplies for school kids to St. Philip the Apostle School.

30 January 2023 •
CASA’s Dorothy Adlon with grandsons Max and Riley.

Aug. 31, 2022: Police and firefighters save the life of a factory worker after he loses a lower leg in an industrial accident at X-L Plastics, at 220 Clifton Blvd. The pinned 33-year-old victim from Clifton lost his lower leg and his other leg was severely injured due to a compacting machine. X-L Plastics was founded in 1971 and later moved to its 250,000 sq-ft Clifton facility.

Aug. 31, 2022: Clifton Against Substance Abuse’s 2nd Annual Overdose Awareness Vigil is held at Clifton City Hall. The night of remembrance was also an opportunity to spread awareness of how addiction can touch anyone. Along with striving to end the stigma surrounding addiction, and discussions regarding addiction, the free event featured music, speakers, and resources. • January 2023 31
Religious and civic leaders, Ukrainians, and non-Ukrainians, in total over 200 people, celebrated Ukrainian Independence Day with a flag raising, blessings and musical performances on the great lawn of City Hall on Aug. 24, 2022.


September 2022: Jimmy Is Not Running: That was the headline on Tom Hawrylko’s column in September. But the column had an error. It stated that former Mayor James Anzaldi was first elected to the City Council in 1982. In fact, Anzaldi was first elected in 1978, lost re-election in 1982, and was elected again in 1986 and every four years since. Thanks to Brent Rudnick for the clarification.

It was surreal news for the City in Clifton. More than a few would comment over the next few months — some residents about never knowing a mayor other than Anzaldi in their lifetimes. Others welcomed a shake-up to the Council. But there’s no denying it — Clifton Merchant has Jimmy to thank for putting the magazine on the map some 25 years ago. Our cover story also caught people’s attention that month, highlighting the work of the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center and its path to expansion. How did we do it? By walking into the world of Grace Lisbona — where there is always love, motion, history, and, most importantly, a need—and did we say love?

September 1, 2022: Clifton’s Stop & Shop on Broad St. selects Clifton Cares as the beneficiary of its Community Bag Program. Clifton Cares is a non-profit founded in 2010 that sends care packages to our military. The group received a $1 donation for every $2.50 reusable bag purchased at the store that month.

Sept. 10, 2022: CHS 2017 grad

Michael Troller dots the “I” before some 100,000 spectators as part of the Ohio State Marching Band. Along with his family and friends, his former Marching Mustang band directors Bob Morgan and Bryan Stepneski were in Columbus, Ohio to cheer on his contribution to what’s known as “The Best Damn Band In The Land.”

Sept. 9, 2022: Members of the 1972-73 Fighting Mustangs football teams gather, at Clifton Stadium for the Clifton vs. Ridgewood game. They marked the 50th anniversary of the first back-to-back championship seasons and paid tribute to teammates who have since passed away, including ’72 team captain Dennis Mikula. Pictured are Mikula’s sons Dennis Jr. (left) and Ryan.

32 January 2023 •

Brian Castro, 18, and Maria Calvi, 16, created three little libraries where people can take a book and leave a book. Castro worked in Chelsea Park and Albion Park to join Eagle Scout Troop 23. Meanwhile, Calvi sought a Girl Scout Gold Award by, in part, constructing a library in Main Memorial Park.

Sept. 7, 2022: A study conducted by WalletHub found that our hometown is the 25th most diverse city in the USA.

Sept. 7, 2022: The Zoning Board considers the development of a century-old single-family home on nearly four acres of land into 21 townhouses. The Victorian home, which resides on the so-called steep slope of Garret Mountain, was built in 1890 and is 1900-sq-ft. The 522 Valley Rd. residence sold for $320,000 on June 13, 2020. Additional discussions at the city’s Board of Adjustment meetings took place on Sept. 21 and Oct. 19.

Sept. 11, 2022: Bishop Kevin J. Sweeney presides over a Mass to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Sacred Heart Parish. The parish, a Botany Village landmark on Randolph Ave., is the first Catholic parish in Clifton and the first Italian national parish in the Paterson Diocese in 1897.

Sept. 18, 2022: The Clifton Citizens for Change begin collecting signatures for their petition at the Van Houten Avenue Street Fair. The non-partisan, ad-hoc group needs at least 5,800 signatures from Clifton voters to help deliver a referendum about how Clifton elects its municipal body. The group’s goals were to ensure Clifton voters can directly vote for a mayoral candidate and future City Council elections are staggered.

Sept. 24, 2022: The first Mexican Flag Raising took place in Clifton at City Hall. Then Board of Education candidate — now commissioner — Richard Mejia spoke earlier in the month about the possibility of a flag raising with then Mayor James Anzaldi and the City Clerk’s office. On Sept. 21, the City Council approved the celebration.

Sept. 30, 2022: The Mustangs of the Class of 1953 met at Mario’s to share stories of their CHS days from nearly seven decades ago. Those who attended included: Rosemarie (Heimann) Sisti, Carole (Werkman) Leipzig, Marion (Zschack) Mascone, Rich Cimera, Joyce (Pranio) Cimera, John Vanderwiele and his wife Johanna (Dekker), Emil Stumpp and Walt DeGroot. Planning for future get togethers, they said their next reunion will most definately be convened at The Hot Grill.

Serving up dirty water dogs and Italian Ice, Kevin Gorman and Dave Martina of Jumbos and the rest of Clifton came together for the Van Houten Ave. Street Fair on Sept. 18, 2022. • January 2023 33


October 2022: Clifton Merchant Magazine spoke to the second batch of qualified City Council candidates ahead of the Nov. 8 election. We asked these candidates the same question as those we featured the previous month — What is the most immediate issue facing Clifton, and how would you address it? We also featured an old story about when the top vote-getter didn’t become mayor of Clifton. Little did we know at the time, but Bill Bate would become a household name in Clifton yet again.

Debate would heat up in November and December regarding whether Councilman Ray Grabowski (the top vote-getter) would be the city’s next mayor or if Councilman Bill Gibson had enough council members on his side to obtain the council-appointed position. We also reflected on past City Council elections in Clifton and received comments from community members — many of whom were tired of the in-fighting on the dais.

He has run various times for City Council and always adds a smile to the debates. Steve Goldberg is pictured at the candidates’ forum on Oct. 12, at the city hall chambers.

Oct. 10, 2022: The Passaic-Clifton UNICO chapter returns to City Hall grounds to celebrate the ideals of service. The flag raising marks 100 years since the founding of UNICO National, the largest Italian-American service organization in the U.S. and founded in 1922. The chapter has embraced UNICO’s motto “Service Above Self” since 1949.

Oct. 21, 2022: Former councilman and long-time advocate for veterans Frank T. Gaccione, 80, passes away. Gaccione was to be honored at the 2022 Veterans Day Parade for his past 20 years fundraising and supporting the Memorial Day and Veterans parades.

Oct. 24, 2022: Diwali, the Festival of Lights in the Hindu tradition, is celebrated with a festival at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Bloomfield Ave. On Nov. 12, the group marked the 100th birth anniversary of their guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

Oct. 1, 2022: The Polish Flag Raising, which was held on City Hall grounds, marks Councilman Peter Eagler’s return to public events. Eagler, who has battled a lengthy illness, joined the flag raising to act as the Commentator.

34 January 2023 • • January 2023 35

Boy Scout Troop 21’s annual Spaghetti Dinner on Oct. 23 was at St. Philip RC Church Auditorium. The all-you-can-eat spaghetti is prepared by these kids with homemade sauce and served with salad, bread, coffee, tea and dessert and refreshments. (Scout’s Honor: They kept that kid out of the pot for the cooking process.)

Ghost Hawk hosted a Halloween party on Oct. 28 and Jessica Van Wie won first place as a fortune teller. A grad student at Rutgers, she has a history of memorable Halloween costumes having won prizes from the Clifton Recreation Center for costumes such as Zombie Bride and Woodland Fairy. She is pictured with Steve Bauer of Ghost Hawk.


D’Arco, Tony Cioffi, Current President Joe Bionci, District Governor Steve Calatone, Tony Delotto.

Oct. 20, 2022: Clifton Schools break ground at Woodrow Wilson Middle School (pictured below). Members of the Board of Education, school administration, coaches, and city officials turned the soil to begin field renovations. The work was a result of the voters’ approval of the April 20, 2021 bond referendum.

Oct. 25, 2022: Summit Health celebrates the grand opening of a new 100,000 square-foot multispecialty healthcare hub. Located at 1255 Broad St, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new outpatient medical offices and walk-in CityMD urgent care. Among those in attendance were CEO Jeffrey Alter, Rep. Bill Pascrell, then Mayor James Anzaldi, and Passaic County Board of Commissioners Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore. The facility features 18 co-located specialities, such as primary care, family medicine, urology, imaging, and breast care.

of the members of UNICO from left: Mario DeChellis, Drea DeLuca, Jeremy Macdonald. Middle row: Angela Montague, Isabella Borgese-Cook, Maria Carparelli, Jessica Walker. Rear: Dave
36 January 2023 • • January 2023 37

November 2022: The Boys & Girls Club begins the Season of Giving by receiving a $50,000 gift from Amazon and $100,000 gift from a donor who wished to remain anonymous. The two donations kicked off the Club’s annual campaign, which runs from November to March.

Nov. 1, 2022: The Tri-County Scholarship Fund recognizes the efforts of St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic School in Passaic at the 41st Annual Awards Celebration in Parsippany-Troy Hills. SNUC was honored for its swift response in helping 20 Ukrainian refugee families who had arrived in New Jersey since April from Ukraine.

Nov. 4, 2022: The Passaic Valley Water Commission held an on-site press conference on the Groundbreaking for its Lead Service Line Replacement program. The conference, at 103 Sherman St. in Passaic, explained how Passaic, Paterson and Clifton residents were getting new lead service lines, free of charge, to upgrade services to homes and businesses in PVWC’s service area.

November 2022: As we do every November, Clifton Merchant Magazine thanked its veterans. The magazine featured the work done across the state by the New Jersey Veterans Network and support shown locally by the Clifton Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans. We heard from Frank “Doc” Schupp, the 2022 speaker at the Clifton Veterans Parade, and DAV Commander Carl Crawford, who was the 2022 Grand Marshal.

We also took the pulse of a new group in the city — the Clifton Citizens for Change. The non-partisan, ad hoc group started collecting the necessary 5,800 signatures in September to help deliver a referendum.

In between these stories, we focused on Clifton History by providing a timeline of Clifton’s past and present city managers. These profiles discussed the different city manager terms and the efforts made by each of the city’s top decision-makers through the years.

At right, Passaic County Commissioner John Bartlett with his wife, Khyati Y. Joshi, on Nov. 12, at a celebration by the Clifton BAPS community marking the 100th anniversary of guru, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

38 January 2023 •

Ray Robertello, Lawrence Grasso and Jim Daley plan to collect 5,800 voter signatures to post a referendum about how Clifton elects its municipal leaders.

From left, CHS students Abdel Rahman Matari, Noely Marquez, Anderson Azanedo-Santisteban, Colton Sargo, and Sami Abuhadbah were among the Mustangs who volunteered at the Clifton Senior Center on Nov. 17 during Hunger and Homelessness Week. In coordination with the Power of One, CHS teacher Jacqueline Murphy arranged for her former students to serve lunch, pack groceries, and organize the pantry. The effort yielded over 20 boxes of donations.

November 2022: Clifton opens its first state-mandated Code Blue program at the Rec Center on Main and Washington Ave. Adriana Alfaro (at right), the Clifton Health Department’s Vulnerable Populations Outreach Coordinator, said the facility is open when the temperature goes below 32 degrees to provide a safe and warm overnight stay for homeless individuals.

Nov. 5, 2022: The legendary Mr. Cupcakes celebrated 15 years as a Van Houten Ave. business. Johnny Managaniotis and his dad, also named John, now have stores in Paramus Park Mall, Hawthorne and recently opened in Brick.

Nov. 7, 2022: St. Paul R. C. Church recognizes its pastor (since 2011), Father Leonardo Jaramillo, Ph.D., on the 30th anniversary of his priesthood.

Nov. 8, 2022: Clifton residents cast their ballots in school board, municipal, county, and district elections. The three elected Board of Education newcomers, in order, were: Anthony Santiago, Mark Brunciak, and Richard Mejia. The seven council members, in order, were: Ray Grabowski, Bill Gibson, Lauren Murphy, Antonio Latona, Rosemary Pino, Joseph Kolodziej, and Mary Sadrakula.

Nov. 17, 2022: At a BOE meeting, Clifton Schools added Veterans Day to the 2023-22024 calendar, but as a day of school where students will learn about the holiday. On Labor Day weekend, teachers will return Tuesday and students will be in class Wednesday. The last day of school will be June 20, 2023, three days earlier than the prior school year. • January 2023 39
Councilman Peter Eagler and Mayor Anzaldi declined to run in the November election.

Representing the Musical Mustangs as they perform the Carol of the Bells, from left: Romeo Gonzalez, Eleny Gervacio, Sandy Cocoyutla, Jorge Rivas and Paris Frederick.

Dec. 6 & 20, 2022: The question, “Who will be Clifton’s next mayor?” takes center stage during the December City Council meetings. The conversation already gained traction on social media, with residents weighing in on both sides. Some stood firmly behind tradition and showed up at the meetings to express their desire for the highest votegetter, Councilman Ray Grabowski, to be mayor. Other residents on social media took an alternate approach and stated that tradition is not law in response to rumors that certain council members might nominate Councilman Bill Gibson for the mayoral role.

Both councilmen weighed in during the meetings when it was the council’s turn to speak.

“There are two steps to electing the mayor,” said Gibson on Dec. 6, receiving boos from residents in attendance. “You vote for seven people. That is the first part. Those people who become your new council vote for the mayor.”

Of the elected council members, there was a deadlock — Grabowski, Councilwoman Lauren Murphy, and

Fette Ford, KIA, and Infiniti and the Fette family (Hart, Dan, John and Kristin) donated a new Ford Transit Van to the Boys & Girls Club on Dec. 19, 2022.

Councilman-elect Joe Kolodziej sat on the side of tradition. Gibson, Councilwoman Rosemary Pino, and Councilman-elect Antonio Latona support change. Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula said her vote would be known on Jan. 3, the first meeting of the council for 2023-2027.

Grabowski said that he didn’t understand why elected individuals wished to stray from tradition.

“If I was approached, I would do the honorable thing,” said Grabowski on Dec. 6. “It is not just the tradition. People vote with the assumption that a high vote becomes mayor.”

40 January 2023 •

Clifton is a giving community. Here are pictures of some who did just that. At left on Dec. 16, Andrei Daskevics photographed Assemblymam Tom Giblin and his staff who collected toys with the help of Montclair State’s Office of Student Affairs. Above, the team at JK Realty opened their doors on Dec. 10 for hot toddies, cookies and photos with Santa.

Dec. 6, 2022: School 11 hosts a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new book vending machine. In October, Schools 2, 5, and 12 had similar ribbon cutting ceremonies.

Dec. 12, 2022: A 19-year-old Passaic man was fatally shot before dawn near the corner of Kulick Street and Central Avenue.

Dec. 13, 2022: Two individuals attempted to rob a food delivery person at knifepoint as she tried to make a delivery off of Chittenden Road. After the victim fled the scene in her vehicle, she drove to police headquarters and Clifton cops arrested two suspects. There’s been a trend of food delivery robberies — varying in severity — throughout the area.

Dec. 31, 2022: Clifton’s longest-serving mayor, James Anzaldi, finishes his term in City Hall. In 1978, Anzaldi was first elected to the City Council. He later garnered the most votes in 1990 and was selected by other council members to serve as mayor. Anzaldi was the top vote-getter in all subsequent Council elections until his decision not to run for reelection in 2022.

On Dec. 8, Jessica Tremble, Clifton Schools Supervisor of Counseling & Student Services, (third from right) presented a check for $2,822 to Jennifer Kidd of the Clifton Health Department for Code Blue Warming Centers. From left is Jim Smith, BOE President, and Clifton Schools Supt. Danny A. Robertozzi.

Clifton’s Firefighters and FMBA Local 21 collected 515 gifts from residents, which were donated on Dec. 18 to the Boys & Girls Club for distribution. Clifton Republican Chair Bob Calcagno and BOE Commissioner Mark Brunciak present hundreds of Christmas gifts to Mother Mary Thomas on Dec. 16 for residents of St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly in Totowa. • January 2023 41
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Who are the up-and-comers in 2023?

are some of the nominations from

educators, politicians, civic-

made past and present efforts to contrib-

more than one person took notice.


The Heart of Botany

Aziz Elmhada may dress as the Grinch, but the “Mayor of Botany Village” already has a large heart.

One community member who knows that is small business owner Margaret Kardasz. The owner of George’s Coffee Shop, 227 Parker Ave., nominated Elmhada for his help maintaining Clifton’s Historic Botany Village and his work for the Downtown Special Improvement District (SID). “He always goes [above] and beyond to help others,” said Kardasz. “He loves to dress as a Grinch for our Botany event, and he does an amazing job.”

“There is nothing that is impossible for this guy,” continued Kardasz.

Elmhada, 63, was born and raised in Morocco. He moved to Canada in 1989 and Italy in 1996. After living there for a year, he immigrated to the United States in 1998 and lived in New York before moving to Clifton. He has lived in Clifton for nearly 20 years.

Living in multiple countries has also made him multilingual. Elmhada’s first language is Arabic and he also speaks French, English, Spanish, Italian, and a little bit of Russian and Greek.

“[Traveling] is what I want to do in future [when I retire],” said Elmhada. “I just want to travel and have a good time with friends all over the world. I have a lot of friends everywhere.”

Getting Good Ideas

Before the 2008 financial crisis, Elmhada owned the store Moroccan Bazaar, at 241 Parker Ave. — now

Puebla Beauty Salon. After he lost the store, he learned that there was work needed to be done for the SID. He has held his current role for about 15 years and also serves with the neighborhood block watch. The positions are deeply important to him.

“I know everybody and talk to everybody. I try to help [businesses and residents] … and keep the [neighborhood] clean and safe.” said Elmhada. “If anyone here has a problem with … issues concerning safety and quality of life, they call me [to see] if I can help or I help them connect to people that can help them.”

That’s what we asked over social media and these
members of the community. Whether the nominees were
minded individuals, or students, they all have
ute to our community. And, in some cases,
44 January 2023 •
All profiles by Ariana Puzzo

Elmhada also uses his love for traveling to improve his Clifton neighborhood. When he and his wife, Samira Ezzemrani, visit countries in Europe and Africa, he “always keeps in mind Clifton and Botany Village.”

“I take a picture of good stuff in the streets,” said Elmhada. “When I travel with my wife, she says, ‘You’re not working here. Why are you looking?’”

“I am getting good ideas to bring here.”

Living in Harmony

There are many things that Elmhada appreciates about Clifton.

He and Samira raised their daughter, Anna Maria, 28, in the city. After living in New York, he calls Clifton a safe place. That, by his definition, is what constitutes a community.

“For me, [a community is] living safely, cleanly, and in harmony,” said Elmhada. “I’m working for the SID and helping people … and even though I get paid for it, I do more stuff than I get paid. My phone is for people to call me any time they want.”

Elmhada knows that the residents and people on the board for the SID appreciate his work. He added that Kardasz’s nomination still felt good and he’s thankful for her support.

“I give suggestions here and also attend meetings about the homeless and traffic. [The board] always listens to my suggestions,” said Elmhada. “It shows the people trust me and believe in me.”


And the Emmy Goes To …

Kyle Zwiazek (CHS 2012) knew he had options in high school. But who expects to take home a Sports Emmy before the age of 30?

In fact, NBC’s current Manager of Platform Editorial for Peacock is still pinching himself months after the May 2022 results.

“I couldn’t have done this alone. The team that I worked with [while covering the 2020 Summer Olympics] was really amazing,” said Zwiazek, 28.

Zwiazek and his colleagues received an award for Outstanding Interactive Experience Event Coverage. During the Olympic Games, postponed until 2021, the Richfield resident spent three weeks in Stanford, CT. He supervised the Video Operations for Peacock department while they streamed every event for the NBC Sports app, all hours of the night.

“The energy of being able to bring that to people … who were stuck at home was amazing,” said Zwiazek. “It was awesome to be able to give people [that] at a time when they might not have had as much entertainment.”

Zwiazek attended School 2 and WWMS. He and his brother, Alex (CHS 2007), grew up with parents Albert and Susan. They were both CAST program students. Looking toward the future, Zwiazek hopes to grow as “a human and worker.”

“I’m hoping in my career to help my own team,” said Zwiazek. “To keep using my knowledge to make the product better. That’s really my goal.” • January 2023 45

Giving 100% to Clifton’s Students

Jacqueline Murphy’s roots already run deep in CHS’ community.

Only in her second year as a counselor and behaviorist, Murphy is an advisor to CHS’ new SAVE Promise Club (Students Against Violence Everywhere). She said SAVE came to Clifton when the Board of Ed adopted a program through Sandy Hook Promise.

Murphy emphasized it’s about acknowledging how keeping schools safe is a joint effort.

“Here in the building, we have a pulse on what is going on,” said Murphy, 39. “But kids are so in-the-know about the different things that are happening on social media.”

Which makes it important to meet students where they are behavior-wise. One way Murphy does that is by working with students to volunteer with the Power of One.

“[They] might have had behavioral challenges last year and have made an unbelievable effort to change their behavior to be more positive and community-oriented in the building,” said Murphy. “We promote that everyone makes mistakes and we understand that. We want to see you work with the community and give back.”

Along with her desire to give back, Murphy’s an avid runner. The Wayne resident ran track for DePaul Catholic, where she did hurdles and ran Varsity for three years. In her mid-20’s, she began doing local 5Ks and progressed to half marathons before running her first marathon in 2016.

Murphy has run in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. She ran the Toronto Marathon on Oct. 16 and her fifth marathon in New York City on Nov. 6. She was

recently selected for Tata Consultancy Services’ Teachers Team, as one of 50 teachers selected from across the country.

“TCS also [invited] a small group of our students to participate in a goIT Challenge and present at the NYC Marathon Expo on Friday, Nov. 4 to a panel of judges, promoting STEM and Social Responsibility,” said Murphy.

“I am thrilled to help bring this opportunity to our students and community and so proud to represent Clifton … in Toronto and New York City,” she added.

46 January 2023 •
Jacqueline Murphy at the 2022 Toronto Marathon. • January 2023 47


The Key to Volunteering

Clifton’s diversity encourages Jose Suarez Gonzalez every day.

Originally from Elmwood Park, the CHS senior moved to Clifton in 2021. Adjusting to a new environment during a pandemic with limited social opportunities added some obstacles. But Gonzalez found that getting involved with the Key Club made a difference.

“I’m not going to lie — my friends were a part of Key Club and kind of dragged me with them to events,” said Gonzalez, 16. “I honestly felt it was the right environment for me and was something that I wanted to be involved in. It gave me the opportunity to get to know a lot of people in the school.”

On Nov. 19, Gonzalez was elected as the District Governor for the NJ Key Club’s 2022–2023 New Jersey District Board. It’s the highest position for a Key Clubber in the state. Gonzalez hopes to further unite the organization by “reinforcing what you already have.”

“It’s about creating those bonds with different clubs and making sure that everyone’s doing OK,” said Gonzalez. “Increasing member engagement because you can’t forget about the people that make this organization possible.”

Gonzalez connects to the state’s 21 lieutenant governors through existing monthly newsletters. The newsletters are an opportunity for him to get across his own messages. He also emphasized being available on Zoom so people can exchange ideas and questions.

“I want to be someone you can talk to, and not just here [in] this role,” said Gonzalez. “It’s something I’m trying to emphasize to my district board … and any member in general.”

Gonzalez volunteers with Clifton’s Power of One Christian Coaching and Outreach Ministries, Inc. He learned about the non-profit through Key Club and met his mentor, Executive Program Manager Kim Castellano, after Hurricane Ida.

“We first met when I was sorting donations … and I kept volunteering through the Key Club,” said Gonzalez. “I started going more … and getting to know her and her getting to know me.”

“We developed our relationship where she would give me advice and push me to be better so I would get out of my comfort zone.”

Gonzalez credits volunteering and Castellano’s encouragement for helping him improve at public speaking and socializing. It inspired him to consider possible career paths.

The senior is undecided on his college, but he wants to major in biology or biomedical engineering. He’s also interested in medical school or possibly non-profit business.

Although he has apprehensions for his new role and the heavy workload, he has a strong support system. It includes his parents, Robert and Arrianny, and step-mother, Perla. Gonzalez specifically mentioned how Arrianny instilled an early importance of helping others.

“She always taught me to persevere and … that you can do anything you put your mind to,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez added that the Key Club work is more rewarding than it is challenging.

“The experience that I get out of it is what excites me,” said Gonzalez. “I’m getting to engage with people from all over the country and world.”

Alias Ragsdale isn’t president yet, but he’s already bringing jobs to the economy. Or at least to his fellow classmates. Last year, the CHS junior worked on Councilwoman Lauren Murphy’s re-election campaign. Ragsdale, 16, recruited his peers as Election Day poll workers.

“Alias is extremely proactive and assertive,” said CHS junior Jada Witter. “The initiative that he displays is something that, whether it is in school or in his community, makes his ideas a reality.”

Witter, 16, nominated Ragsdale and serves with

Jada Witter and Alias Ragsdale.
48 January 2023 •
ALIAS RAGSDALE • January 2023 49

him in the Clifton Student Union. She’s the vice president to his president and said their extracurriculars renewed a friendship that began at School 5.

“Alias has been a vital part of my involvement in Clifton,” said Witter. “I am glad he has pushed me to see the importance of community involvement.”

From an early age, Ragsdale witnessed his father, Thomas, give back to his own hometown. Thomas has served as a Passaic Police Officer since 1998.

“Seeing how he was raised in that community and has spent his whole career giving back to that community is admirable to me,” said Ragsdale.

Reaching All Students

Born to Thomas and Felicia, Ragsdale grew up with his sister Elise, a PCTI sophomore. Before CHS, Ragsdale attended Classical Academy Charter School.

Community is something that he believes everyone possesses. “It can be a store that you go to or a park down the road,” said Ragsdale. “Taking care of things and being united should be the goal of everyone in the community.”

That’s what encouraged Ragsdale to start volunteering at the Clifton Boys & Girls Club in middle school. He attended preschool at the Club and later spent summers teaching there. Ragsdale’s extracurriculars include Student Council, track & field, and he’s a Superintendent Ambassador.

He’s served as the president of CSU since his sophomore year.

“In the short term, we’re trying to get free feminine products in every bathroom,” said Ragsdale. “For the long term, we’re hoping to increase student participation across all clubs.”

“It’s about finding a way to make clubs attractive to someone who may not be the best student grade-wise, but maybe they have hands-on talents or are more passionate about vocational, trade school things.”

Sights Set on the Future

Ragsdale’s city activities include serving on the Action Clifton Committee, organized by the City Council. The committee takes two people from each section and meets to discuss issues. He represents the Maple Valley section. His future goal is to join the Civil Rights Committee.

He is also strongly considering running for a Board of Education seat after graduating. Ragsdale started attending BOE meetings as CSU’s president.

“That’s what sparked my interest,” said Ragsdale. “I think a younger voice being there … [and] having real, fresh blood straight out of the High School is very beneficial.” His classmate, Kailyn Rodriguez, said she thinks “all of Clifton should support him.” Ragsdale’s mother, his third nominator, echoed the sentiment.

“I see his dedication and love for the city,” said Felicia. “He’ll be mayor one day!”

First Ragsdale wants to attend law school. For undergrad, he’s considering Seton Hall and Georgetown, depending on whether he stays in-state.

Can we expect a presidential bid in the next two decades?

“We’ll see,” laughed Ragsdale.

A Motivating Memory

When Frank Kasper gives back to his community, he’s thinking of his father.

“My dad [Frank] really helped me get involved,” said Kasper, 37. “I lost [him] when I was young so, in his honor, I like to do things to help the people in my community.”

Kasper lost his father in 1999. Since graduating CHS in 2003, Kasper has served a term on the Board of Education, run for the City Council, and currently sits on the Recreation Department Board and the Alumni Association for Clifton’s Boys & Girls Club.

“Frank Kasper has been heavily involved in Clifton volunteering and politics,” said his nominator Dominic Iannarella. “He has a very good heart and cares greatly for his community.”

Kasper earned his elementary education certificate at Penn State and master’s in special education at MSU. He’s a preschool special education teacher at Clifton Early Learner Academy on Brighton Road, and he’s studying at Felician University to become a Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultant.

“The best thing to do with the little guys is really get to know each student,” said Kasper. “Seeing the smiles on my students’ faces [is so rewarding]. I can see I’m making a difference in their lives, and they’re always happy to come to school.”

50 January 2023 •
FRANK Mark Peterson Chick Barnes • January 2023 51
Jalmari Vanamo Randi Accardi


Paying It Forward

Joseph Siano, Jr.’s business card tells a story: He loves his work and his hometown.

“I try to make things a good time where I am,” said Siano (CHS 2001). “On my business cards, I have a big smile on my face.”

Service is an integral part of Siano’s citywide contributions. He joined the Knights of Columbus six years ago and has worked with the Power of One.

Siano recently connected with the Early Childhood Education Advisory Council through Power of One. The council spreads awareness about the importance of early education for kids. Siano hopes to join the city’s Beautification Committee.

[Service is] the most important thing to me,” said Siano, 40. “If you’re not giving back, then you’re just taking. If you’re not helping the community, then why are you part of the community?”

Providing Unity

Siano grew up in Dutch Hill with his parents, Louise and Joseph Sr. He attended several city elementary schools and WWMS.

The teacher that changed his life was his main teacher at WWMS, Vincent Farrell.

“Man, did he push me to pursue [poetry]. I never did and regret it because it’s something that you lose if you don’t continue,” said Siano.

Farrell taught him about what you can become if you use your full potential.

“Later in life, [his] words started resonating with me,” said Siano. “I think of him fondly to this day.”

Siano works at JK Realty, 270 Colfax Ave. with his wife, Rickey Di Maria, his sister Deanna, and friends Trina Braun and Viviana Pugaczewski. The real estate business operates like a family. “There’s no ‘let’s go against each other.’ I don’t understand how people are successful that way.”

Believing in unity has made Siano consider a future bid for a City Council seat. He added that people have expressed an interest in being his campaign manager.

“I’m very much considering it because I don’t like what I’m seeing. I don’t think a lot of people like what they’re seeing,” said Siano. “One person doesn’t make a change right away, but the little things that I think I’d be able to do is calm down certain situations, rationalize everything, and get people to think of both sides.”

Siano said he’s concerned about what the “constant arguing” means for the next four years.

“Clifton isn’t what it was, and I think a lot of people see that,” said Siano. “The biggest thing that I want is to make this town come together more. We’re so divided, and that’s heartbreaking.”

Joseph Siano with his wife Rickey Di Maria.
52 January 2023 • • January 2023 53


Time for Self-Reflection

Samantha Bassford doesn’t feel defeated.

Quite the contrary – the fourth place finisher for the Board of Education election is proud of her campaign. She also feels awe for the 4,654 votes in her favor.

“This is how many people I don’t even know who trust and believe in my vision [and that] is really rewarding,” said Bassford, 33.

The CHS 2008 grad said the election would’ve also felt emotionally harder if she hadn’t seen her mother, Judith, run in previous cycles.

“No one tells you how to be a candidate,” said Bassford. “You have your packet that you can be given, but as far as innovation, creativity, and connectedness — that’s some-

thing that can’t be taught.”

Bassford comes from “a place of deliberative thinking.” Therefore, a bid in next year’s BOE election is dependent on where life takes her in the next few months and the future state of the city. Yet she does plan to stay involved by attending meetings and “being an advocate when I need to be.”

“I think this election was a tell-all for a lot of things,” said Bassford. “There needs to be a lot of self-reflection. Not just by the candidates, but by Clifton citizens as well.”

“I think everyone has a responsibility to invite neighbors to events, tell them what’s happening on the City Council and BOE, and get Clifton’s involvement up so when there is an election or people need to have their voices heard, it’s not just one type of majority,” she added.

Becoming Clifton’s Understudy

Respecting the will of the voters is a top priority for Chris D’Amato.

“I think that’s important for me to be clear about in our current political climate,” said D’Amato, 35. “It’s always disappointing when you lose, but I … think I ran a great campaign.”

D’Amato and his wife, Lily, moved to Clifton in 2019. Despite having no political experience, he finished eighth in the November City Council election and was “able to reach a lot of people and earn a lot of trust.” D’Amato received 5,523 votes — with a margin of 623 votes between him and re-elected incumbent Mary Sadrakula.

D’Amato said one lesson he learned as a “political novice” is that it doesn’t necessarily come down to election funds.

“I don’t think for a Clifton election you have to raise thousands and thousands of dollars,” said D’Amato, a Connecticut native. “You just have to be available.”

D’Amato held events in many city parks, he was “right on top of social media if anyone had a question or

needed clarity”, and he presented a cohesive website. What he said he’d change is announcing his run earlier instead of the Fourth of July.

D’Amato hasn’t ruled out another run in four years, but he’s focused for now on staying involved.

“Being the eighth place person, I don’t have the luxury of checking out,” said D’Amato. “If I didn’t do as well as I did … I would still be engaged because I care, but I might relax a little more.”

Engagement is also important due to what D’Amato described as a “disheartening” tone and tenor at the Dec. 6 meeting. He said that while he’s not optimistic the council will get along, he’s optimistic for Clifton.

It’s that message of hope that he believes contributed to him doing so well.

“I’ve said the best days are ahead of us, and I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe it,” said D’Amato. “The fabric of the community, in the end, will hold everything together.”

“I hope this council does well and hope everyone serves the duration of their term,” he added. “But the onus is on me to really stay engaged, almost as if I got a seat.”

54 January 2023 •


Uplifting Local Vets

It all started with a letter. What followed was remarkable generosity.

That’s why, while there are many people to watch in Clifton, there are also organizations and businesses to admire. Such was the case when Malvin Frias wrote a letter to Home Depot last year.

The letter discussed a new project idea by the Disabled American Veterans – Chapter 2, which led to Home Depot throwing their support behind the project to the tune of $23,170.

After he received approval from the DAV – Chapter 2 Commander Carl Crawford, Frias wrote to the company to ask for a donation and their assistance on a new project. The project is meant to remodel an apartment above the DAV building, at 315 Hazel St.

“The goal of the project is to start a new program to assist homeless or near-homeless veterans,” said Frias.

The program will assist veterans who need support or guidance with catching up on bills, finding a job, or getting education assistance through the VA. It’ll also help with benefit claims and any other needs within the DAV – Chapter 2’s purview.

“The program is intended to be a short stay until the veteran can get on their feet and be rehabilitated to move on with a normal life,” continued Frias.

Frias (CHS 2008) is the former Commander of DAV – Chapter 2 and is now the Veteran Service Officer. After graduating from high school, Frias entered the Army and served three years active duty as a Combat Engineer E-4.

The letter to Home Depot was met with enthusiasm. Located at 955 Bloomfield Ave, on the Allwood Roundabout, the company’s Clifton general manager called immediately after receiving the letter. Crawford and Frias heard from the store manager Frank Fearon, who facilitated a meeting between the two DAV men and Kaitlyn Krulan, the assistant store manager, to go over the plans.

Once Team Depot visited the residence to assess any repairs and necessities, Krulan was able to determine a number and the required supplies to present to Fearon. From there, it went to Home Depot Foundation for grant approval.

“The grant was quickly approved and Team Depot was so excited to deliver the news,” said Frias. “Not only did it all get approved, but also the Clifton Home Depot will be teaming up with other local Home Depot stores volunteers to deliver the required labor to get the job done.”

On Nov. 15, the DAV met a large crowd of orangeaproned staff at Home Depot to receive the check for the project. Work began on Dec. 2 and the space will be fully renovated by the end of the month. The program will start later this year.

From left: Kami Grand, Casey Richter, Tino Longobardi, Carl Crawford, Vincent Merlo, Malvin Frias, Pasquale Dalessio, Jonas Penrose, Ro Rodriguez, Frank Fearon and Kaitlyn Krulan, Simone Reid of the Clifton Home Depot and Zyke Munk. • January 2023 55
While the section is called “People To Watch”, after hearing of this story, we broadened our criteria and made note of Clifton’s Home Depot and the work of Clifton DAV - Chapter 2.

On the Mat

Keeping yourself focused is key, but Nick Doktor has also felt the benefits of external motivation.

On Dec. 14, the sophomore was recognized by for its team-by-team previews of New Jersey wrestling in the upcoming 2022-23 season. Along with Doktor, other Mustangs to watch were CHS senior Joe Abill and juniors Najati Salim and Reily Garcia.

“I found out about it at six in the morning when they released the article,” said Doktor, 16. “Seeing it was motivating for me.”

In his freshman year, the 157-pounder finished with a 25-11 record. The team made it to the state sectional semifinals. This year, he wants to see them make it to states in Atlantic City.

“I also want to try to keep my win percentage over 70% this year,” he added. “Last year, I fell just short of that.”

Doktor is the son of Clifton’s Director of Operations and Student Services Michael Doktor and Kim. His brother Matt, 14, attends Parsippany High School.

One professional wrestler-turned-coach that Doktor admires is Penn State’s Cael Sanderson for his college career and later success. Doktor has also learned from his own coach.


Call him Captain Ahab — Congressman Bill Pascrell, that is. That’s how cartoonist Drew Sheneman depicted the congressman in the Dec. 11 edition of The Star-Ledger. The cartoon showed an illustration of Pascrell in front of the illusive white whale — also known as Trump’s tax returns.

It’s a sentiment that Pascrell echoed days later. “I’ve been chasing trump’s [sic] taxes for six years like Captain Ahab,” tweeted Pascrell on Dec. 16. “… God willing this is the final chapter in this saga.”

“Working with Coach [Dan] Geleta has made me a much more technical wrestler,” said Doktor. “I have worked on picking up new moves this year and last [and that it’s not about] needing to be stronger than the other kid.”

Doktor’s future involves college and continuing to wrestle or play volleyball. He hasn’t ruled out coaching either.

“My coaches have helped me … get to where I’ve been and where I’ll go in the future,” he said. “Being someone that my wrestlers could look up to is something I’d be interested in.”

The saga will likely continue and Pascrell will not give up his pursuit.

Clifton Merchant caught up with Pascrell ahead of the Nov. 8 election. Prior to his re-election for another two-year term representing our district, he spoke in our September 2022 edition about the importance and the necessity of upholding the United States’ democratic values.

Pascrell has long championed the House Ways and Means Committee’s quest to obtain the former president’s tax returns. After more than three years of political and legal hurdles, a ruling from the Supreme

56 January 2023 •

Court on Nov. 22 cleared the way for the House committee to obtain the tax returns from the IRS.

According to a Nov. 22 article published by Politico, Pascrell said that the committee has sought the returns for 1,329 days — three years and 234 days. The duration, he said, was almost the length of the American Civil War — four years and 44 days.

Perhaps the experience can be summarized by a quote in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the novel referenced in the cartoon. But not from the character Captain Ahab — instead, from the narrator Ishmael: “I try all things; I achieve what I can.”

The Dais is Not the Limit Engaging with your community extends beyond a dais. In 2023, Dr. Alessia Eramo is eager to continue demonstrating how Clifton residents can make their voices heard.

“I’ll still be around and paying attention to the Zoning Board and Council meetings,” said Eramo, 37. “I’ll speak up if I see something that is not ideal for the future of Clifton.”

Eramo said she strives to always be respectful and “provide constructive advice.” She’s lived in Clifton since 2011 and last November ran as a newcomer for the Council. Eramo placed tenth out of 17 candidates.

She is a five-year member of the Clifton Environmental Commission, a six-year member of the Clifton Beautification Committee, and she has served as the secretary of the Friends of Garret Mountain Reservation for five years.

“She’s helped the city receive grants for trees and flowers and has worked to plant them in several locations around the city,” said nominator Angela Montague, director of the Downtown Clifton Economic Development Group. “As a Clifton millennial, she is a standout among

her generation in volunteering her time to improve her community.”

Today a scientist and engineer, how old was she when her commitment to open spaces began?

“Zero-years-old,” laughed Eramo. “The environment is a quality of life issue, but it also affects public health and our local economy in that it impacts property values and attractiveness of the community. A healthy environment contributes to a healthy community.”

Eramo doesn’t have a definite picture of her future community actions. But she does know what will guide her forward.

“I hope to use the momentum and knowledge that I’ve gained from running to continue to participate and contribute.”

Strengthening Local News

The decline of news coverage in Clifton could’ve created an irreversible vacuum. Instead, it got Tova Felder and Amie Kolodziej talking about what they could do.

In 2015, Felder created the Facebook group, Clifton News and Community.

“It’s hard to quantify the value this [group] has created for Clifton residents and all the time she has volunteered for this effort without payment or recognition for the sole purpose of creating a community for Clifton residents online,” said Kolodziej, who nominated Felder.

Today, the group has nearly 9,000 members. Felder’s goal from the start was to create a space that let local people ask questions, while keeping the conversations respectful. The group isn’t affiliated with Clifton, and Felder and her fellow moderators are not paid.

Whether it’s moderating recommendations for plumbers and trustworthy COVID-19 information or Felder facilitating discussions with local candidates, it’s a


true labor of love.

“My goal is to be a positive force in the community,” said Felder, an Athenia resident. “There is such a tremendous amount of diversity in Clifton … [and] I guess that’s the thing I really want to celebrate in the group. So nobody feels like they’re the ‘other.’”

Felder has seen Kolodziej’s own efforts. The Clifton Times, established in July of 2021, was the brainchild of Kolodziej, her husband Councilman Joseph Kolodziej, and their friends and other residents.


to do a Mexican Flag Raising in Clifton,” said nominator Julissa Hernandez. “Richard made us feel included around our Independence Day and made us feel proud of being a Mexican living in Clifton.”

“It’s so great to suddenly have [another] source of explicitly local news and human interest stuff,” said Felder, 52. Visit the website at

Kolodziej said one of their most popular features is the Clifton calendar. It lists public events and fundraisers. Many groups share their events, including the Power of One, Knights of Columbus, Saint Peter’s Haven, Clifton Arts Center, and the libraries.

In six months, The Clifton Times went from 5–10,000 monthly views to 20,000 without ads.

“We’ve used social media to reach residents and share stories in Clifton Facebook groups,” said Kolodziej. “In Clifton, there is a huge opportunity to continue to grow.”

Staying On Course

Richard Mejia learned early on that knocking on doors while canvassing can be unpredictable.

“Once in the Allwood section, someone opened the door for me and said some things that I hadn’t heard of before. Things that I wasn’t expecting from someone in Clifton,” said Mejia, 23. “I walked away thinking, ‘Wow. People still think like that.’”

“[Then I realized] not everyone thinks like that,” he continued. “I shouldn’t take one person’s comments and drop out.”

Mejia, who is Mexican-American, is the youngest elected official in Clifton history after winning a seat on the BOE. Despite experiencing ignorance and outright bigotry due to his age and race, others embraced his platform of “Equality, Transparency, and Representation.”

“[Richard] cares deeply about his community and he actually shows that he cares. To start off, he was the first

Mejia (CHS 2018) grew up with parents Ricardo and Jesus, older sister Kimberly (CHS 2012), and younger sister Melanie (CHS 2021). He said CHS music teacher Natalie Babiak and drama teacher Lisa Poggi were always supporters. He also appreciates guidance counselor, Andrew Kessler, for helping him not take to heart another teacher’s belief that he wouldn’t succeed.

“I always thank Mr. Kessler when I see him and give him a hug,” said Mejia. “If he didn’t speak to me [about not dropping out], I don’t think I’d be in this position.”

Mejia’s also inspired by the path forged by his older sister. For Kim, one of his nominators, the feeling’s mutual.

“He wasn’t always the most proficient or smartest student, but if you were to ask anyone who knew him, they would say he was the hardest working,” said Kim. “His work-hard mentality laid the foundation for his success.”

That means everything to Mejia.

“It overwhelms me with joy … because she definitely had her struggles growing up in a time where it was probably not as diverse as when I entered school and graduated,” said Mejia, his voice full of emotion. “I saw how hard working she was and I said to myself, ‘I need to be just as hard working.’”

A Worthy Fight

The fight for Hinchliffe Stadium’s life was long, at times disheartening, and exhaustive for those like Brian LoPinto who sought to preserve the Paterson landmark.

It was also well worth it.

“Politicians come and go, but advocates keep pushing,” said LoPinto (CHS 1996). “The stadium is a remarkable survivor of neglect. After all that neglect, it still had pretty good bones.”

In 2021, ground broke on a $94 million project to renovate and reconstruct the stadium. The project also includes a 75-home senior center, restaurant, pre-school, 815-space parking deck, and a 12,000-square foot event

58 January 2023 •

space to honor the Negro Leagues. In the 2023 season, it’ll also play host to the New Jersey Jackals after the team’s move from Yogi Berra Stadium.

Completed in 1932, the 10,000-seat facility sits above the Great Falls. It is one of only a few surviving stadiums nationally that hosted significant Negro league baseball in the Jim Crow era.

Incidentally, this interview occurred on what would’ve been the late Hall-of-Famer Larry Doby’s 99th birthday. Doby, from Paterson, broke the American League color barrier in 1947. He was scouted from Hinchliffe for the Newark Eagles in 1942.

Along with its rich history, LoPinto’s memories of Hinchliffe run deep. His first hit as a varsity baseball player came when the Mustangs played Kennedy at the stadium during his junior year.

That’s why LoPinto, 44, co-founded a non-profit, Friends of Hinchliffe Stadium, in 2002.

“It’s important to think about the places you’ve been connected to,” said LoPinto. “If everyone gave back to the neighborhood they grew up in or currently live in, it would be a better place.”

The fight for preservation and rehabilitation may seem complete. LoPinto, a Clifton resident, said the non-profit will likely continue in some capacity.

“It’s not the time to lay back,” said LoPinto. “We’ll support events by purchasing tickets and going, but there will need to be yearly preventative maintenance. We don’t need the stadium falling back into disrepair.”

BRIAN LOPINTO • January 2023 59

Here are the Mustangs of the Month for January 2023.

These four students, one from each grade, were selected by the vice principals at CHS, to be spotlighted for their personal achievements and school-wide contributions.

Nadine Judeh, Freshman

Nadine Judeh’s transition to high school was made easier since she knows the value of hard work and how important it is to manage her time. She also has a supportive environment at home.

“My parents inspire me because they work very hard for everything,” said Judeh (CHS 2026). “They always ensure that my sister and I have everything that we want and need. They inspire me to succeed in everything I do, even if it requires hard work.”

Judeh plays cello in the CHS orchestra and the violin outside of school. She runs Winter Track and plans to run Spring Track, enjoying running the distance events.

The freshman is also a member of the Natural Sciences Academy at CHS.

“I believe that this will set me up for being a doctor someday,” said Judeh. “And the course list will help me earn a lot of college credits.”

Judeh’s favorite class is orchestra. She said she enjoys the relief it offers from other challenging subjects. Although her extracurriculars can make her workload stressful, it’s also rewarding.

“I love doing everything I can outside of school, and this means working hard and efficiently on homework,” she said. “I have a schedule for my homework and studying, and this ensures all of my work gets done.”

Alexander Jakimowicz, Sophomore

There’s no shortage of great teachers at CHS for Alexander Jakimowicz. But there’s one who inspired a stronger love of reading. “Mrs. [Stacey] Beecham has been the most influential [teacher],” said Jakimowicz (CHS 2025). “I like Language Arts, but she made the class so much more fun and engaging than it otherwise would have been.”

Aside from his appreciation for Language Arts, Jakimowicz is passionate about science. He said he’s always found the subject interesting and enjoys learning how the world works. This year, chemistry is his favorite subject.

Jakimowicz is also likely to take advantage of CHS’ academic programs. “With so many opportunities, it’d feel like a waste to not take advantage of them,” said Jakimowicz.

His can-do, hard working attitude certainly originated from somewhere. So it’s of little surprise that Jakimowicz credits his parents as his greatest inspirations.

“Both of them worked hard to get where they are today, and still work hard to support me now,” he said. “They’ve been role models my entire life, and they inspire me to this day.”

Jakimowicz’s extracurricular activities include Academic Decathlon and Key Club.

“Academic Decathlon is an amazing learning experience and Key Club provides plenty of opportunities to give back to my community.”

Nadine Judeh, Alexander Jakimowicz, Brian Weglinski, Paris Fredrick.
60 January 2022 •

Brian Weglinski, Junior

Throughout high school, Brian Weglinski has striven to improve his time management skills.

“When I first started high school, I had a terrible problem with procrastination,” said Weglinski (CHS 2024). “I definitely haven’t completely eliminated it, but it’s gotten a lot better. I hope to completely lose this bad habit before starting college.”

It’s an impressive endeavor — almost as impressive as what he hopes to study in the future. His goal is to become a research immunologist and find ways to better treat autoimmune conditions.

At CHS, he discovered the depth of his passion for biology. He always liked studying the “intricacies of life”, but Weglinski’s eyes were opened by a specific teacher.

“Mr. [Vincent] Vitiello, my AP bio teacher, really awakened my love for biology by giving engaging assignments and giving the class interesting little tidbits of extra information,” said Weglinski. “I didn’t consider a career in the field until Mr. Vitiello’s class.”

Weglinski’s extracurriculars include Academic Decathlon and Key Club. “My parents inspire me the most,” he said. “They grew up in Soviet-controlled Poland and had to start life in America from scratch, learning a new language and new skills. They allowed me to have a better life, for which I am eternally grateful.”

Paris Fredrick, Senior

If there’s a problem, Paris Fredrick wants to solve it. That’s part of what makes math her favorite subject. Along with enjoying problem solving, she also enjoys learning the formulas that enable her to answer questions.

But, like some of her peers, she noted that time management was a major hurdle that she needed to overcome while at CHS. “[Given] the activities that I’m in, I needed to learn [it] so I [could] do everything and practice,” said Fredrick (CHS 2023).

The athletic and performance-based extracurriculars that made up Fredrick’s high school years are cheerleading, the musical, the fall play, Advanced Orchestra, and Advanced Choir. Looking ahead, Fredrick plans to attend college and study economics and the performing arts.

“I want to be able to make sure my family is financially comfortable,” said Fredrick.

There are a handful of teachers at CHS who inspire her — specifically, her music teachers. Fredrick named Natalie Babiak, who taught her discipline, patience, and other skills. She also acknowledged Leonid Weismantel, Bryan Stepneski, and Jennifer Liddle.

“They inspire me to express my creativity through music,” said Fredrick. “I’ve learned so much through each and every one of them. They truly made my high school career the best that it could have ever been.” • January 2022 61


Clifton wrestling are expected to be good in 2022-23, and the early returns show that the Mustangs are poised to be contenders this winter.

A relatively inexperienced group went 1511 last year, but with an offseason to develop, it looks ready to make a run for division, county and sectional titles.

Senior 215-pounder Joe Abill will lead the Mustangs onto the mat as he tries to make a run at Clifton’s first individual state champi-

Varsity wrestlers from back left: Capt. Joe Abill, Isaac Cazimoski, Nick Doktor, Joe Geleta, Najati Salim, Ahmad Jobran. Middle left: Jason Cancel, Imran Shaweesh, Ronny Sandoval, Capt. Deven Desai, Andrew Zawrak, Adam Salman. Front left: Yousef Saleh, Jarvis Rodriguez, Reily Garcia, Adam Khater, Adam Tamimi, Sami Abuhadbah. Not in picture: Varsity manager: Victoria Khytryak.

Winter Sports by Tom Szieber
Jan 6 Old Tappan 7pm Jan 7 @Bloomfield 9am Jan 11 @Eastside 6pm Jan 13 Demarest 5pm Jan 14 @ TBA 10am Jan 18 @Princeton 6pm Jan 21 @W Milford 9am Jan 25 @PCTI 6pm Jan 27 @River Dell 7pm Jan 28 W Milford 9am Feb 1 @Kearny 6pm Feb 4 @Elmwood Pk 9am WRESTLING 62 January 2022 •

onship since Bill Lahanas took home the 145-pound title in 1988. A two-time state place-winner at 285 pounds, Abill looks every bit a contender to win it all. He will be replaced in the heavyweight slot by sophomore Isaac Cazimoski.

“Joe has transformed his body,” said Clifton head coach Dan Geleta. “And Isaac was a junior varsity wrestler last year and wrestled really well. We like what we are seeing so far.”

The Mustangs return a number of other accomplished grapplers, including junior 165-pounder Reily Garcia, a district finalist last year, and sophomore 175-pounder Nick Doktor, a 2022 district third. Joe Geleta, a sophomore 157-pounder who was a district place winner at Randolph last season, adds more firepower to the Clifton lineup this season.

Senior Deven Desai is back at 132 pounds, while junior Najati Salim returns at 126. Both were district place-winners a year ago. Seniors Ronny Sandoval and Adam Salman both look to have made great improvements in the offseason and will take the mat at 138 and 144, respectively. Senior Yousef Saleh will compete at 190.

Sophomore Jason Cancel has emerged as the Mustangs’ 120-pounder, with the 106 and 113 remaining unsettled in the early part of the season. Senior Jarvis Rodriguez occupies the 150-pound slot.

“I think the top of our lineup is going to be really strong,” said Geleta. “I believe that from 157 and up, we can compete with any team in our section and there is enough experience at the lower weights that we can split. Everyone knows their job on the team.”

The Mustangs defeated Fair Lawn, 63-15, in their Dec. 16 opener and beat Passaic, 65-18, to finish their pre-New Year’s schedule. They also won their own Mustang Invitational Tournament on Dec. 17. • January 2022 63

A year after going 1-18-1, Clifton Ice Hockey knew it needed big changes. Clifton made them, joining forces with struggling co-op Passaic Valley/Cedar Grove (1-15 in 202122) to form a tri-op known as Clifton United. With Clifton High School the host school, Mike Santosuosso will be the team’s head coach, and is hopeful combined rosters can help United become formidable on the ice.

“I think its gone great so far,” Santosuosso said. “I think what it does is, it deepens your team. In high school hockey, this is happening a lot. You don’t see a lot of teams that aren’t merged with some others.”

United lost its first two games—to Fair Lawn/Dumont/Bergenfield and River Dell—but showed grit. Still, they have work to do if they hope to eventually stand with the top teams in the area. But there are pieces in place.


On offense, United is led by seniors Zack Guiffrida and Ryan Kratz of Cedar Grove. Clifton freshman Trevor Rascher, who scored goals against River Dell, rounds out United’s first line, providing a foundational piece for the squad’s next few years.

“Zack and Ryan handle it well and have good shots,” Santosuosso said. “They know where to be on the ice. Trevor is just a very talented freshman. He has size, speed, and has played some high-level travel hockey.”

Some combinations of Cedar Grove freshmen Leo Marzullo, Ryan Montana and Eric Ring, Passaic Valley senior Mario Ciampa, Clifton senior Faith Poplawski and Clifton sophomore Tom Nicol comprise the team’s second and third lines.

Clifton senior James Troller (1

Clifton varsity Ice Hockey managers standing from left: Alexis Smith, Caden Behan, Emily Krawiec. Seated: Faith Poplawski, Joseph Petriella, Attila Tamas, James Troller, Trevor Rascher, Thomas Nicol. Missing: David Doremus.
Jan 6 River Dell 4pm Jan
Newton 4pm Jan
@Pascack Val. 9:15pm Jan 24 @Tenafly 8:10pm Jan 25 @Bayonne 3:30pm Jan 27 Paramus Cath 4pm Jan 30 @Fair Lawn 7:50PM Feb 3 Tenafly 4pm Feb 5 @W Milford TBD Feb 10 Parsippany Hills 4pm
64 January 2022 •


goal, 1 assist vs. Fair Lawn/Dumont/Bergenfield) and Cedar Grove sophomore Jonathan Montana of Cedar Grove lead United’s defense. Cedar Grove junior Colin Healey and freshman Yionni Koulamanis, Passaic Valley sophomore Chris Cubeta and Clifton senior David Doremus will be in the rotation, as well.

Cedar Grove will supply United’s goalies, with junior David Lombardi of Cedar Grove and freshman Thomas Cannataro handling duties in the net.

“The kids have been great together,” said Santosuosso. “The parents and booster clubs, have been phenomenal. Everyone has embraced this whole thing.”

After back-to-back losses to start the season, United is hoping some recent success may represent the turning of a corner. It got off the schneid with a 3-3 tie against Paramus on Dec. 16, and got its first win, 9-3, over Newton-Lenape Valley four days later.

The CHS Varsity Cheer Team features 18 athletes who compete with twists and twirls and other acrobatic skills that make this sport so demanding. “Our coed team, ranging from freshmen to seniors, participates on the sidelines for football followed by this competitive season in the winter,” said Coach Gina Matano who is a kindergarten teacher at School 11. “Since August, they have been attending stunt clinics, choreography sessions, and tumbling lessons.”

The squad competes in the Big North Conference, as well as competitions in Montville, West Milford and Holmdel.

Last February, the Mustangs fell short of winning the State Champion title for the coed large division. They did take first in the Liberty Division at the Big North Championship.

Assistant coaches Samantha Segda, Sarah Post and Laura Tunnell, have fine tuned the team in specific skills. “We expect big results this season” said Matano, inviting all to CHS on Jan. 16 to see what competitive cheer is all about.

Jan 9 @W Milford 7pm Jan 16 CHS 2pm Jan 23 @River Dell TBD Jan 30 @Fair Lawn TBD Feb 17 TBA 6pm CHEERLEADING • January 2022 65
Varsity Cheer at CHS: From top row left: Alexa Miller, Elizabeth LaTorre, C’Anni Green, Sa’Reyah Haskins Sheppard, Kelsey Dubravsky, Nicole Modla. Middle: Brianna Gonzalez, Andrea Moran, Melenny Inoa, Captain Nicolle Leitner, Captain Jacklyn Nelson, Julia Erskowicz, Ilaiza Fuentes, Amilia Betances. Matthew Jaramillo, Captain Camila Vasquez, Jonas Arias.

Last season was frustrating for seventh-year head coach Mike Cadmus and the Clifton boys basketball team.

On one hand, the Mustangs made it back to the postseason and upset second-seeded Morristown in one of the tournament’s most exciting games.

On the other, they finished with an 1117 record and failed to make a meaningful run in the playoffs.

This year, Cadmus thinks he has the pieces for a better result, and so far this winter, the Mustangs look good. After dropping their opener to a talented DePaul squad, the Mustangs won three straight, beating Passaic County rivals West Milford, Wayne Hills and Passaic Valley.


Jan 5 @Bergen Tech 4:30pm

Jan 7 McNair 11:30am

Jan 10 Eastside 4:30pm

Jan 12 @JFK 7pm

Jan 14 @Wayne Valley 12:45pm

Jan 17 PCTI 4:15pm

Jan 19 Passaic ASC 4:30pm

Jan 21 @Bloomfield 1pm

Jan 24 Passaic 4:30pm

Jan 26 Old Tappan TBD

Jan 28 Bergenfield 11:30am

Jan 31 Bergen Tech 6:30pm

Feb 2 @Eastside 5:45pm

“I definitely want to see us take that next step,” Cadmus said. “I think I would be crazy to not say that losing a 1,000-point scorer like Kyle Vellis is not a loss. Guys like Kyle, Luis Rivera and Kevin Arroyo had that attitude, that mentality that they would step up. We need guys to do that now.”

Feb 7 JFK 4:30pm

Feb 9 @PCTI 4pm

Feb 14 @ Livingston TBD

Front from left: Alex Franco, Caisius Payano, Jayden Rivera, Aidin Seferagic, Luis Vega, Xavier Valerio, Aiden Pichardo. From rear: DJ Burrell, Justin Blackman, Jowell James, Elyjah Vaz, Saif Saleh.

refine his overall skill set. His skills will provide balance to those of the backcourt duo of Jayden Rivera and Luis Vega.

Rivera, a sophomore shooting guard, is nearly six feet tall and hopes to build on a freshman campaign that saw him establish himself as a premier shooter. Speaking of premier shooters, the two-guard Vega is one who can change games with his accuracy and will be looked upon to lead in his senior season.

Senior point guard Aidin Seferagic will start for the third year and, unlike last season, is healthy. Clifton won five of the six games with Seferagic. Senior power forward Justin Blackman is one of the team’s most improved players and best rebounders.

One of those guys is junior Saif Saleh, a 6’7” center who has improved his post game and can step outside to stretch the floor. Only a participant in organized hoops since the eighth grade, Saleh has used the offseason to

The Mustangs have depth at guard, with the likes of juniors Xavier Valerio and Gabe Cruz adding athleticism and great potential. Junior Jowell James and senior Aiden Pichardo will provide valuable minutes, as well.

66 January 2022 • • January 2022 67

Shirah Wittwer and the Clifton girls basketball team had a tough winter in 2021-22. The Mustangs lost every one of their games, often by ugly margins. And while Wittwer’s expectations are tempered in her second year at the helm of the team, she wants to see improvement.

“My goal for us is to be in games with the teams we should be in games with,” Wittwer said. “If we aren’t, then we have to reevaluate what we are doing.”

Clifton does have young talent, starting with sophomore point guard Nyah Negron, who will be asked to score 10 points a game—a somewhat disorienting task for a natural passer. Sophomores Kendall Reed, a guard, and Jichelle Rodriguez, a center/forward, will contribute valuable minutes, as well.

Jan 5


Bergen Tech 4:30pm

Jan 7 @Bergenfield 1pm

Jan 10 @Eastside 4:30pm

Jan 12 JFK 4:15pm

Jan 14 @Indian Hills TBD

Jan 17 @PCTI 4:15pm

Jan 19 @Parsippany 4pm

Jan 21 @Hoboken 11am

Jan 24 @Passaic 4:30pm

Jan 31 @Bergen Tech 4:30pm

Feb 2 Eastside 4:30pm

Feb 7 @JFK 6pm Feb 9 PCTI 4pm

Feb 11 Cliffside Park 11:30am

Feb 13 @Mount Olive 7pm

Feb 15 Bloomfield 6pm

Feb 18 @D. Morrow TBD

Front from left: Christina Briguglio, Zayda Murphy, Leslie Surita, Nyah Negron, Kiara Coy, Kaylee Miller. Rear: Ajah Ramos, Kendall Reed, Jichele Rodriguez, Maraim Ebeid, Natalie Leach.

Senior guard Kaylee Miller is a strong defender and passer, while senior center Natalie Leach will be a key scorer down low.

There are other athletes on the roster, like juniors Kiara Coy and Zayda Murphy, the latter of whom is an accomplished soccer player. Freshmen like Gianna Colon and Christina Briguglio provide foundational pieces for the program.

“This year is going to be slowly building again,” Wittwer said. “We are still very young. Right now, we are looking to see that every day, we are a little better.”

68 January 2022 • • January 2022 69

This indoor track season will not bring any guarantees but it certainly brings great potential.

Mustang boys return a number of big names, though program legend Jacob Heredia is not one of them. Seniors like Benjamin Nelkin and Hisham Ettayebi will be the faces of the program. It also means the program is in good hands.

“Obviously we took a hit with Jacob graduating,” said coach Kareem West. “But the boys have depth. We should be fairly good. I feel like good things are definitely going to happen this year.”


Jan 9 @ Garfield 6pm

Jan 11 TBA 4:30pm

Jan 12 TBA 4:30pm

Jan 16 @ Garfield 10am

Jan 16 TBA 4:30pm

Jan 23 TBA 4:30pm

Feb 6 TBA 4:30pm

Feb 10 TBA TBD

Feb 18 TBA TBD

Feb 28 TBA 4:30pm

Nelken will lead Clifton’s short-distance effort, competing in the 55m dash, 200m and as a leg on the 4x4. Nelkin’s outdoor personal record for the 200m is an impressive 23.07 seconds.


complished runners in program history, and the Bucknell-bound senior should fill a do-it-all role in 2022-23.

“She is a beast,” West said complimentarily. “She is very talented. She can sprint and run distance. As long she stays healthy, she should be able to make it all the way to the end of the season.”

Clifton’s other senior, Janae Roberts, is the Mustangs’ fastest sprinter and competes in the 55m and 200m. She also anchors on the 4x4 relay team and could be used in the high jump.

Seniors Christian Grant and Luke Chambers will be key contributors, as well. “It’s a team sport and we need as many points as we can get,” West said. “We need as many in the sprints as possible because we tend to do fairly well in the distance events.”

Much of that is thanks to Ettayebi a three-season runner who boasts an indoor PR of 9:46.74 in the 3200m. Seniors Nazareth Aquino and Melvin Almonte will throw shot. And keep an eye on sophomore Lamarr Olive.

Clifton’s girls team has a powerhouse leading the charge. Remy Dubac is back as one of the most ac-

Juniors Deborah Amoh, Denise Dubbels and Lylah Flores will compete in jumping, hurdling and sprinting events. Juniors Olivia and Viktoria Green in will jump and run distance.

The talent on the girls roster will look to make up for a relatively small roster. The Mustangs are still building back numbers in the aftermath of the pandemic and success this season will surely help the cause.

“We are trying to make sure we can cover events as much as we can,” West said. “A lot of our girls are doing multiple events. It’s a small team. We ask a lot from every girl. But they can handle it.”

Senior Taniya Giles is, in Murphy’s words, the “shot put queen” for the Mustangs, having a 37’9” P.R.

70 January 2022 •

Front from left: Dylan Ledesma,Melvin Almonte, Hisham Ettayebi, Suliman Pitts, Luke Chambers, Christian Grant, Raphael Cabanilla, Harrison Schimpf, Brian Chi, Cesar Diaz. Top from left: Jefrie Viera, Antonio Bordamonte, Muhammed Abedrabbo, Jossue Xochipa, Janae Roberts, Remy Dubac, Jary Hernandez, Sivam Mehta, Nazareth Aquino, Joshia Gerena, Benjamin Nelken. • January 2022 71

Kneeling from left: Benjamin Santana, Kaitlyn, Rodriguez Natalie, Rozon Aarmani, Reynoso Elian, Lafontaine Medina, Renata Chyshkevych, Veronica Trejos, Kailyn Rodriguez, Vanessa Namubiru, Jaelyn Rivera. Top row: Jocelyn Bautista, Deion Arguedas, Ethan Ho, Nour Jomaa, Thuesman Rivera, Frank Coste, George Chiquito, Morad Abudabour, Dereck Diaz, Matthew Rhodes, Abigail Chaky, Viviana Santiago, Navaeh Rivera, Tiffany Miranda, Sara Mojica Supelano, Laura Sofia Valencia Polania, Almendra Sanchez, Olivia Georgalas, Emily Orantes.

Fourth-year head coach Brittany Yannetti and the Clifton swimming teams are retooling in 2022-23 and hoping this season can be a valuable one in the programs’ rebuild.

The Mustangs lost a total of 14 swimmers to graduation in June, but they do have 35 on the roster. Among them on the boys team is senior Frank Coste, who competes in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard fly.

“Frank just swims all year round,” Yannetti said. “He is willing to go in different ways of swimming. Whatever I need him in, he is willing to do it.”

The freshman trio of Joshua Henry (100-yard breaststroke), Adrian Wilson (100-yard backstroke) and Alexander Wilson (100-yard breastroke) provide the Mustang boys program with a strong foundation for the future. Senior Nour Jomaa will compete in the 100yard breaststroke.

The Clifton girls, meanwhile, are led by sophomore Renata Chyshkevych, who competes in the 200-yard free and 200-yard individual medley. Junior Natalie Rozon and Senior Abigail Chaky will both contribute in the 100-yard fly and 100-yard breastsroke.

Jan 6 @Lakeland 6:30pm Jan 9 @Bergen Cath 2:30pm Jan 12 Fair Lawn 3pm Jan 19 Paramus Cath 3pm Jan 24 PCTI 3pm Feb 2 @ PCTI TBD SWIMMING 72 January 2022 •

Clifton bowling is hoping that its enthusiastic roster can push it to the next level this winter.

Second-year head coach Alex Berberich is optimistic, especially in light of some of his team’s early season performances.

Both the boys and girls started their seasons 2-2 in league play, with wins over Passaic and Paterson Eastside and losses to Bergen Tech and Passaic Tech. In those outings, the Mustangs have shown that when they are on, they can compete at a high level. The girls also notched a non-league victory over Dumont. The boys lost to the Huskies.

“I was impressed with [the boys’ 3-4 split with Passaic Tech],” Berberich said. “We matched up well with them. I am just looking for us, both the boys and girls teams, to focus on being in the middle of the lane more.”

Clifton’s top bowler on the boys’ side is senior Tyler Murray, who has increased his average by 14 pins (to 190) since the preseason, and bowled a high series of 600 against Passaic Tech. Murray is one of the Mustangs’

three seniors, along with Mahki Laws and Demian Ramesar.

Junior Samuel Zwiebel has added experience to the squad. Zwiebel, a competitor on the Junior Bowlers Tour, bowled a team-high game of 236 against Dumont.

The girls have improved, with freshman Sarah Zwiebel showing flashes of brilliance. Her average (165), high game (214) and high series (530) are all team bests.

Junior Jamille Martinez-Hernandez has shown great improvement from last year.




The CHS Bowling team from left: Kevin Grivas, Deliz Ramesar, Rian Pierce, Demian Ramesar, Jelyna Reyes, Jamille MartinezHernandez, Sarah Zwiebel, Tyler Murray, Kaylee Unis-Hinojosa, Kiara Unis-Hinojosa, Joshua Deribin, Samuel Zwiebel, Daniel Lopez and Mahki Laws.
5 JFK 4pm
10 Old Tappan 4pm
Jan 12 Pascack Hills 4pm
Jan 13 @TBA 3pm
Jan 19 Bergen Tech 4pm
Jan 20 Indian Hills 4pm Jan 24 Passaic 4pm
Jan 26 Eastside 4pm Jan 31 PCTI 4pm Feb 2 JFK 4pm • January 2022 73

The Clifton Arts Center presents “And We’re Off” by Pro Arts Jersey City & Shim Art Network from Jan. 18 to Feb. 25. A reception open to all is Jan. 21 from 1 to 4 pm. The CAC is at Well Road behind city hall. The CAC is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 1 to 4 pm. Visit or call 973-472-5499.

Clifton Recreation Department’s Safety Rally is Feb. 4 and what is learned there may save your life or the life of a loved one. The goal of the rally is to educate the public on Adult CPR, AED and First Aid skills. Pre-registration is required online at or at the Rec Office. For more info, call 973-470-5956.

Is your snowman as alive as it can be? When the weather gives you all that you and your family need to build, submit your best snowman creation photos by Feb. 10 to Some “cool” prizes will be awarded. All snowmen must be made from real snow and reside in Clifton. Visit

Manage stress, anxiety and grief with Power of One’s Kim Castellano. The one-day sessions begins Jan. 19 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Senior Center Barn on city hall. Future dates are Feb. 16, March 16, April 13, May 18, and June 15. Register for the free series by emailing info@ or calling 862-239-5905. The series is open to people of all ages who want to learn about stress, anxiety, and finding hope. For info, call Castellano at 201-328-2326 or email

The Theater League of Clifton presents Dan Goggin’s Meshuggah-Nuns! at Mario’s Restaurant, at 710 Van Houten Ave. Dinner and show costs $55 with limited reserved seating. Upcoming performances are: Feb. 25 and 26 and March 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 4 pm. Reserve tickets by calling 973-928-7668 or online at Tickets can also be reserved by mail at PO Box 4072, Clifton, NJ 07012. TLC is now in its 15th yearsof providing live community theater.

74 January 2022 •
Mayor Jimmy Anzaldi walked through well-wishers on the steps of city hall on Dec. 30, his final day in that position. First elected mayor by council colleagues in 1990, he has been the top vote-getter in every election since but chose to retire this year. • January 2022 75
Shaun LaGala 1/1 Marek Rzasa 1/1 Connie Zangara ................ 1/1 Chrissy Cetinich ................. 1/2 Matthew Delaney 1/2 Amanda Esposito ............... 1/2 Kristin Reilly ....................... 1/2 Steven Hrina 1/3 Rosalie Konopinski ............. 1/3 Ray Krenc ......................... 1/3 Emily Zawicki 1/3 James Dohm 1/4 Rich Peterson ..................... 1/4 Mohamad Bekheet ............. 1/5 Missy Fazio 1/5 Alexander Ortiz ................. 1/5 Jeremy Delaney ................. 1/6 Gay Eaclie 1/6 Amanda Curtiss ................. 1/9 Ariana Hryckowian ............ 1/9 Joseph Perzely 1/9 Fatma Bekheet 1/10 Ronald Calo .................... 1/10 Richie DeMarco ............... 1/10 Birthdays & Celebrations - January 2023 Happy Birthday to.... Send dates & names.... Austin Blesing turns 17 on Jan. 17. Kyle Stone Osborne is 17 on Jan. 19. Gloria Gibba Kieley will be 76 years young on Jan. 9. Skylar De Santis turns 18 on Jan 17. Cindy Hawrylko is 32 Jan. 22. Alyssa Philhower & Becca Potocki shared a birthday on Jan 1. Vicky Petrovic will party on Jan. 5. Kevin Gorman turns 65 on Jan. 29. And many birthday wishes to Bob Sandri who celebrates on Jan. 6. Angely Sotomba will celebrate her 11th birthday on Jan. 26. 76 January 2022 •

Sto Lat Stasia Dudra who will be 100 on Jan. 9. For more than five decades she and her late husband John owned Dudra’s Tavern on Highland and Hope Aves. Now a Toms River resident, she has 2 daughters, 3 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Michael Gorny ................ 1/11

Katy Sokolik 1/11

Nicole Unis ..................... 1/11

Megan Duffy ................... 1/12

Daisy Colman 1/13

Olivia Dohm .................... 1/13

Rob Generalli .................. 1/14

Joe Musleh 1/14

Ernie Rodrigues 1/14

Mark Stuart ..................... 1/14

Kyle Santiago .................. 1/15

Susan Hernandez 1/16

Jennifer Montanile ............ 1/16

Matthew Soprano ............ 1/16

Anna Tatarenko 1/17

Kim Barilari ..................... 1/18

Erica Pangilinan ............... 1/19

Lindsay Dueben 1/20

Luke Falzo 1/20

Payton Bogatch ................ 1/21

Douglas Ciallella ............. 1/21

Matthew Gorun 1/21

Daniel Shackil ................. 1/22

Evelyn Montague ............. 1/23

Cheryl Vigh 1/23

Catherine Coloccia .......... 1/24

Greg Collucci .................. 1/24 • January 2022 77

Jamie Mikolajczyk 1/24

Anna Redling

Larissa Unis

Robert Duffy 1/25

Ashley Gagnon 1/25

Debbi Koch

Michelle Nahass

Birthdays & Celebrations January 2023

Karen Rice 1/26

Michael Bandurski ........... 1/27

Gianna Caramucci ........... 1/27

Nicholas Grippo 1/27

Scott Crawford 1/28

Patrick Ferrara III .............. 1/28 Robert C. Henn ................ 1/28

Stephanie Smith 1/28

Alexis Camp.................... 1/30

Donna Chipura ................ 1/30

Laura Kuruc 1/30

Sean Sabo 1/30

Evangeline Joy Kohler ....... 1/31



.................. 1/24
..................... 1/24
..................... 1/26
.............. 1/26
78 January 2022 •
Belated greetings to Michael Hrina, ‘01 CHS Grad and lifelong resident who turned 40 on Dec.16. Turning 8 on Jan. 12 is Isabel Victoria Calvo. Time to smile! Makayla Rodríguez is 11 on Jan. 24. Birthday greetings to Barbara Bivaletz (Jan. 5) and hubby Steve (Jan. 9) who both celebrate 68!

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