Clifton Merchant Magazine - September 2022

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Contributing © 2022

Some 25 years ago, Jimmy Anzaldi put this magazine on the map. We had been publishing since 1995 and despite a few big stories, we were not on most people’s reading list. Then in November, 1997, we printed a glossy cover with Mayor Anzaldi —and wow—we were a must-read. His message back then and has always been “compro mise and consensus” to move Clifton forward. He encour aged residents to vote, to get involved, to do their civic duty. Since being the high votegetter in 1990 (he was first elected in 1982), Jimmy’s been in his office, the longest serving mayor of a compara tive-sized city.

The angry, fractious and bombastic nature of politics has gotten to him. Jim won’t say it directly but at least one of his six colleagues has taken the joy out of the job, somewhat forced his retirement.

Twice monthly meetings have become combative as issues are constantly challenged. There’s plenty of vitrol and grand standing. An “undemocratic spirit,” much like what is seen on the national level, has spilled into the lo cal public arena, from ongoing and constant social media posts, to personal attacks from members of the public.

Tomahawk Promotions follow us on: @cliftonmagazine

But Jimmy won’t be running in 2022.

Councilman Peter Eagler is another long serving coun cil member not running and whom, like Anzaldi, we will miss. With two of the seven seats open, we hope to see a spirited and civil campaign season.

From the Editor Tom Hawrylko

Writers Ariana Puzzo, Joe Hawrylko, Irene Jarosewich, Tom Szieber, Jay Levin, Michael C. Gabriele, Jack DeVries, Patricia Alex

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko, Sr.

Jimmy Is Not Running

Art Director Ken Peterson Business Mgr. Irene Kulyk Associate Editor & Social Media Mgr. Ariana Puzzo

County government functions as the middle layer of government. Passaic Coun ty residents elect a seven-member Board of County Commissioners. The board is headed by a director for a one-year term and each of the County Commissioners is elected for a three-year term. The Office of the Sheriff, currently held by Richard Berdnik, is also a three-year elected position.

The City of Clifton is located in the 9th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey’s 34th state legislative district. The seven-member City Council is elected on a non-partisan basis for four-year terms. The mayoral position is given by tradition (with one exception years ago) to the high vote-getter.

The current council members are: Mayor James Anzaldi, Peter Eagler, William Gibson, Raymond Grabowski, Lauren Murphy, Rosemary Pino, and Mary Sadrakula. The city is governed under the 1923 Municipal Manager Law. Dominick Villano is the city manager, responsible for appointing and removing department heads and other officials. He also negotiates contracts and prepares the tentative budget with the Council’s approval.

Election Day is November 8 All interviews & stories by Ariana Puzzo 4 September 2022 •

Commissioners possess executive and legislative responsibilities. The current Commissioners are: Director Bruce James, Sandi Lazzara, John Bartlett, TJ Best, Terry Duffy, Nicolino Gallo, and Pat Lepore. The position is considered part time, and a portion of our county taxes goes toward paying the elected representatives.

The2012.board appoints a superintendent to oversee the district’s day-to-day opera tions. Danny Robertozzi has served as superintendent since July of 2019. Robertozzi oversees a district consisting of approximately 11,000 students across 18 schools. The district serves students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Clifton Board of Education is a nine-member board with candidates elected for three-year terms on a staggered basis. The Board is currently headed up by Board President Jim Smith and Vice President James Daley. Three of the board’s seats are up for election each year with elections held as part of the November general election since

The U.S. Congress is composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress has 535 voting members: 100 senators and 435 representatives. In New Jersey, there are a total of 12 representatives, including 10 Democrats and twoHouseRepublicans.members are elected for a two-year term. The current members are: Donald Norcross, 1st district; Jeff Van Drew, 2nd district; Andy Kim, 3rd district; Chris Smith, 4th district; Josh Gottheimer, 5th district; Frank Pallone, 6th district; Tom Malinowski, 7th district; Albio Sires, 8th district; Bill Pascrell, 9th district; Donald Payne Jr., 10th district; Mikie Sherrill, 11th district; and Bonnie Watson Coleman, 12th district.

Back to school

welcomes you Paid for by Friends of Berdnik for Sheriff As Parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, We need to drive carefully and be alert and watch for crossing children! • September 2022 5


There’s a lot happening in our community, and Saman tha Bassford is committed to making sure all tax dollars are appropriately spent. Bassford (CHS 2008) also wants to make sure students grow as they learn.

The younger Bassford feels she’s at a place “in my pro fessional and personal life to give back to others.” She’s prepared to lend her expertise as someone with experience in student affairs on the higher education level.

6 September 2022 •

Now it is up to you to meet the candidates, learn their views and cast your vote on Nov. 8.

Bassford has attended past Board meetings and is the daughter of Judith Bassford, a four-term Commissioner.

“That development starts in kindergarten and each year, progression is critical,” said Bassford, 32. “The money we put [forward ensures] that we’re setting our future selves up for success.”

“We need to make sure when we’re spending money that’s not ours, that it’s efficient,” said Bassford.

As far as adhering to the referendum – like making pay ments to contractors and staying on schedule – Bassford said the Board needs to meet all milestones.

As a magazine serving Clifton, we spoke first with the Board of Education candidates to learn how they plan to best serve Clifton’s students and families and work with oter levels of government.

“I think a lot of that isn’t represented on the Board right now,” she added. “Intersectionality is not always consid ered in decision making.”

Board of Education Candidates

Samantha Bassford

One of the many roles of a publication is to inform the public. We have dedicated the following pages of our magazine to inform residents about the Nov. 8 election and the candidates running.

“I have serviced a lot of different students of many iden tities and backgrounds who have faced many adversities,” she said. “When I’m speaking, I keep a lot of people in mind and that their stories and backgrounds may be specifi cally different from mine.”

There are eight candidates vying for three open seats. The main question we asked was: What do you consider the most immediate issue facing Clifton Schools, and how would you address it? The responses ranged from the state’s new sex ed ucation guidelines and appropriate school funding to more transparency and open communication with the Whethercommunity.theyattended Clifton schools or moved to the city as adults, the candidates are united in their desire to provide Clifton kids with a thor ough and efficient education.

REAL LEADERS. REAL RESULTS. NOVEMBER 8TH - VOTE ROW A RERichardSheriffELECTBerdnik RECommissionerELECTTerryDuffy RECommissionerELECTPatLepore NO TAX INCREASES. 4 consecutive years without raising taxes and the highest credit rating in the history of Passaic County. ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY. Deploying more police officers on the streets and expanding regional law enforcement services to keep our children and families safe. Weasel Brook County Park - featuring a spray park, playgrounds, basketball courts, fitness equipment, picnic areas, walking trails, and more. More than $1.2 million investment over the past 5 years in Clifton Open Space and Preservation funds, including upgrades to Oak Ridge, Zelenka, Dudiak, Chelsea and Richardson Scale Parks. $1.1 million restoration of the Westervelt-Vanderhoef House at Weasel Brook County Park. Expanded programming at the Hamilton House through a shared services agreement with the City of ReplacedClifton.theGrove St. culvert and Kingsland Rd. bridge (in-progress). Resurfaced Delawanna Ave., Main Ave., Paulison Ave., Piaget Ave., Grove St., and Valley Rd. For more information on EARLY VOTING or VOTE BY MAIL or to VOLUNTEER, please contact : (973) 279-4647 info@ Clifton´s own! PAID FOR BY PCDCBerdnikDuffyLepore • September 2022 7

“When my kids first started in the district, I attended board meetings to understand what it was all about,” said Canova. “It’s really just about being sensible, understand ing the news of Clifton, and fighting for what we need.”

Samantha Bassford, Mark Brunciak, Joe Cano va and Abdallah Matari.

“The way I look at [any accomplishments] is that we’re a board of nine,” said Canova, 41.

Along with ensuring the safe transportation of students during the school day, another concern is New Jersey’s sex education stan dards. The 2020 revisions to the student performance expectations include new health and reproduc tive

Risingbenchmarks.thirdgraders would need to list medically accurate names for body parts, including genitalia. All rising middle schoolers would need to be capable of explaining romantic and sexual feelings. For more details, visit

Canova highlighted one major issue: appropriate state funding for the district.

Kurrell Law Despite numerous searches and inquiries, we could not connect with this candidate.

Canova and his wife, Rose, are parents to three daughters. Lidia, 11, attends CCMS and Nadia, 8, attends School 3. Their youngest, Mia, is age 2. When considering his unique qualities, Canova points to his attention to detail.

“I don’t think this is appropriate,” said Brunciak, 40. “We’re waiting for the curriculum to be published by the school board … and some parents are scared to speak out, but I won’t be.”

“We were underfunded in Clifton for many years and that changed in maybe the past four years,” he said. “The state is start ing to give us money according to [our] funding formula.”

Abdallah Matari

“I don’t think that anything is wrong with the 2014 [sex education] standards,” continued Brunciak.

Mark Brunciak Mark Brunciak is no stranger to the Board of Ed. Brunciak (CHS 1999) ran for an open seat in 2021 and has returned with his slogan “Grade A Educa tion”. It means making the best possible decisions for the students, while also remaining accountable to parents, teachers, and taxpayers.

Abdallah Matari is eager to put his knowledge of cur riculums and higher education to good use to help the city he Matariloves. emigrated from the West Bank in October 1989. He’s lived in Clifton since 1990 and bought a house in 2010 on Clinton Avenue and 3rd Street. Matari, a father of four with one currently attending WWMS, has ideas for improvements.“Theissuewith the curriculum is that it needs to be a lit tle bit [fine-tuned],” said Matari, 54. “It’s handled

“Any candidate you vote for should have those qualities and values.”

Board of Education Candidates

8 September 2022 •

“Unless you stay on top of it, it can change any moment,” added Canova.Hisother concern is the bud get strain and unpredictability of paying for students sent to char ter schools. He suggested that in stead of money coming from the district, everyone should have a direct line from the state budget and if they don’t attend a charter school, they can return it.

This time, Brunciak – father to School 14 kids Melanie, 7, and Frankie, 5 – started campaigning and knocking on doors “way earlier.” He’s also eager to connect with people on “IFacebook.listento parents’ concerns and what matters to them,” he said. “The parents that I’ve spoken with around town were anywhere from Valley Road down to Botany Village.” Joe Canova As the only incumbent on the ballot, Joe Canova hopes to continue working collaboratively with his colleagues if elected for a second term.

The property information herein is derived from various sources that may include, but not be limited to, county records and the Multiple Listing Service, and it may include approximations. Although the information is believed to be accurate, it is not warranted and you should not rely upon it without personal verification. Affiliated real estate agents are independent contractor sales associates, not employees. ©2022 Coldwell Banker. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker and the Coldwell Banker logos are trademarks of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. The Coldwell Banker® System is comprised of company owned offices which are owned by a subsidiary of Anywhere Advisors LLC and franchised offices which are independently owned and operated. The Coldwell Banker System fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. 22KX5L_NJ_8/22 Mandy Lucia Branch Vice President | Coldwell Banker Realty 789 Clifton Avenue | Clifton, NJ | Ifmandy.lucia@coldwellbankermoves.com973.778.4500you’rereadytofindanewhomeorsellyourproperty, we’d be happy to show you what first-class service looks like at Coldwell Banker Realty. Contact me, or reach out to our office today. With Mandy Lucia and Coldwell Banker Realty EXPLORE CLIFTON NEIGHBORHOODS Rosemawr Spacious homes populate Rosemawr, the most western boundary of Clifton. It begins at the roundabout at Styertowne Shopping Center, then stretches to the Nutley border. Dwasline Road cuts through the center to Bloomfield Avenue at the Tick Tock, and Route 3 borders it to the south with Passaic Avenue as the border nearest to Nutley. Allwood and Richfield Allwood and Richfield are separated from Montclair Heights by the Garden State Parkway. Local staples include The Allwood Diner, Richfield Farms, Clifton High School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School. Main neighborhood roads include Van Houten, Grove and Broad. The neighborhood comes to a point at the northern tip where the parkway intersects Route 46 between Clifton and Bloomfield. 69 Patricia Place, SOLD $725,000 9 New Brier Lane, SOLD $545,000 • September 2022 9

10 September 2022 •

“I believe the best asset for any school system are the stu dents,” said Matari. “If we prepare [students] for the current as-is, that’s not good. We need to make sure they’re ready to meet future demands as things expand day after day.”

Anthony Santiago Bringing a new perspective is a priority for Anthony Santiago. It means prioritizing Clifton’s students and school community over any personal interests.

by the state and sometimes it has to address the needs of specific groups.”

“I’ve been in leadership positions … and know what students want,” said Mejia, 22. “[The students] need to see thatMejiainspiration.”attended School 12, School 17, CCMS, and grad uated with the CHS Class of 2018. In high school, Mejia recalled being told by “several teachers” that they weren’t certain he would go to college or “be successful.”

Richard Mejia, Anthony Santiago and Miriam Weg.

Matari would also like to see greater focus given to funding in the school district.

Mejia graduated from Felician University in less than three years in 2021, earning a degree in Business Admin istration with a minor in pre-law. He’s currently working toward his MBA and started working at Felician in June as the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions. Me jia previously worked on the higher education level as a graduate assistant. As a BOE candidate, his slogan is, “Equality, Transpar ency,“SometimesRepresentation”.students think to themselves, ‘I can’t go to college because I can’t afford that’ or ‘I can’t compare to other students’,” said Mejia. “I want students to know that the Board of Ed is there to enhance their education and help them further on in life.”

“I think that at times, the Board can get contentious. We’ve seen a lot of that at meetings,” said Santiago. “It’s important to maintain objectivity and be mindful when making decisions that you’re there to serve … all of the public.”

“I see the differences between colleges,” said Matari. “Having some people devoted to and looking for grants can make a big differ ence.”Matari has worked at Hudson County Community College since 2001. He has served as the Chemical Hygiene Coordina tor since 2001 and as the Biology Coordina tor since 2010. He additionally has conducted revisions to courses and curricula, and he has developed some courses like Histology and Genetics.

“Those are words that got to me … [but] I’m a go-get ter,” said Mejia. “That’s why I chose [to run]. I want to help elevate high schoolers so they realize they don’t have to take these comments.”

Richard Mejia As the youngest BOE candidate, Richard Mejia knows people may say he’s too young or inexperienced. But that hasn’t discouraged him.

Board of Education Candidates

“Being able to think through complex problems logi cally is an incredible skill,” said Weg. “There are so many things that get kids exposed to [STEM] … but there’s al ways room to improve, and I’d love to have input in there.”

Santiago has worked in real estate at the Diamond Agen cy, 881 Allwood Rd., since 2015.

Santiago has lived in Clifton for over 27 years. He and his wife, Maliza, have two sons, Anthony Jr. (CHS 2011) and Matthew (CHS 2015).

“I know I’m going to be a member of a team,” he said. “You can’t take the ap proach that it’s you against the world. As long as something will benefit the school community and help move it forward, I can work with someone who has that … mentality.” Miriam Weg Miriam Weg moved to Clifton about seven years ago and praised the school system’s ability to provide a “solid edu cation [with] respect for understanding differences.”“Wedon’t need to overhaul and make large changes,” said Weg, 33. “The thing that I’ve seen is a need for transparency and communication.” One of the “hot topics” that Weg mentioned is the state’s new health and sex-ed“Mostcurriculum.ofit seemed very well thought-out and respectful … but I see parents who have concerns because cer tain parts of it are vague and open to in terpretation,” said Weg. Weg said there isn’t one way to broad en communication. Methods can include working collaboratively as a Board and increasing the Board’s online presence.

Weg’s children attend private school, which she said was a choice made to provide them with a religious educa tion and not a reflection of “any concerns with any public school system.”

Board of Education Candidates • September 2022 11

“The school board is one area where I thought my back ground would help the most,” he said. “I see how buyers are looking for towns with good schools and how that cor relates to increased home value.” Santiago views being collaborative as an advantage.

As an engineering manager, Weg emphasized the impor tance of building on STEM programs.

“We know all the good in public schools, and I’ve al ways tried to help and serve,” said Santiago. His community involvement has included being a mem ber of the Lakeview Civic Association, coaching Little League, and teaching religious instruction at St. Paul Ro man Catholic Church.

“We live in a world now that’s so virtual that it’s very easy to gain access to a lot of people very quickly,” said Weg. “The most effective way depends on what audience you’re trying to get to.”

Given that our magazine went to press before the Sept. 6 verification deadline for candidates, our profiles will continue in our October edition.

Each candidate profiled in the following articles offered their insight and solutions, or highlighted personal areas of focus for the next four years. While many agreed on the pertinent issues – like retaining police officers and flooding near Third River – all cited unique areas of opportunity. Once again, the choice is up to you.

As a self-proclaimed Clifton kid, Fahim Abedrabbo has always felt the call to serve his city. He did it first as a Board of Education commissioner and he hopes to continue if he wins a seat on the City Council.

Abedrabbo is a supervisor program specialist for the Pas saic County Department of Human Services. As a prospec tive Council member, his top priorities are smart growth, lowering taxes, and an enhanced standard of living.

He added that Clifton doesn’t need more storage compa nies. Until about five years ago, he lived on the east side of Clifton and was “able to find gas stations on every corner.” Today, it’s difficult finding a station open late, which he said runs counter to the average person not working 9-to-5.

“It’s a competitive field right now and it’s not about if it pays or not, but how [badly] you want to help your city,” said Abedrabbo, 37. “You’re in a position that many people would love to be in. What voice are you going to represent [and] are you going to represent it properly?”

12 September 2022 •

This month, we limited interviews by speaking with those who qualified—getting the required number of peitions signed by Clifton’s registered voters—by Aug. 15. When speaking with the first round of 10 candidates, we asked: What do you consider the most immediate issue facing Clifton, and how would you address it?

Fahim Abedrabbo

“It’s not that we’re over developing, but we’re wrong fully developing,” said Abedrabbo (CHS 2003). “We need to develop our city and it has to move forward, but in a smart, independent way that [requires thought] and an in terest in people in the city.”

On Nov. 8, citizens will choose seven people to represent them on the Clifton City Council. When the seven are chosen, one council member will be selected to become Clifton’s mayor, most likely the highest vote getter.

“I know what it takes to sit and deal on the municipal level,” said Abedrabbo. “The city manager has done a great job but needs more minds at the table so that the city is run fruitfully and the representation and support is there.”

City Council Candidates • September 2022 13

City Council Candidates Fahim Abedrabbo and Tafari Anderson.

“My dad would always say that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” said Anderson. “When I go door to door, an overwhelming percent age of people say they want to see change.”Topics range from people want ing to see flooding solutions to concerns about a new garbage col lection

Bill Gibson Incumbent Bill Gibson has several issues that he hopes to continue tackling around the city. They include flooding, infrastructure, and quality of life concerns.

“That’s an issue that’s not a difficult thing to fix, espe cially when the city is running large surpluses,” he contin ued.Anderson went on to say that, if elected, he wants to bring good faith negotiations to the Council. He pointed to his two terms as commissioner on the Board of Ed to highlight his negotiating experience. But the main skill he said he’ll offer is a willingness to listen to residents about their concerns.

One of the reasons Tafari An derson is running for a seat on the Council is to help improve safety and quality of life in Clifton. Anderson attributes recent break-ins and car thefts to what he calls “years of neglect to our po lice

“Familiesdepartment.”move to and stay in towns because of many things, including education and safety,” said Anderson, 45. “The police department is not able to retain its officers … because of the starting salary.”

“Sometimesschedule.if you’re [in a po sition] for too long, you lose focus of the things that are important,” said Anderson. “I know every single one of the council members and have worked with some of them over the years, but sometimes you need to step away and … bring in folks with different ideas.”

“I don’t know if there’s one thing that I would say is over the top more than the other,” said Gibson (CHS 1971). “I look at all of them as equally important.”

Tafari Anderson

“Health, safety, and welfare,” said Grabowski (CHS 1971). “I’m working for the people and elected by the peo ple.”As a council member of a large city, Grabowski said it’s important that neighbors get along and respect one another. The most common quality of life concerns that he hears about are parking violations and noise complaints.

Ray Grabowski When Ray Grabowski was first elected in 2015, he was advised to remember three things.

City Council Candidates Re-elect Ray Gr a b FOR CLIFTON CIT I have

Gibson described himself as a “people person” and said

“It’s important for us to get the city educated to [support] this program,” he continued. “Helping us out by recycling will mean less money spent on garbage tonnage. It’s a winwin for the city.”

Gibson, 69, was first elected to the Council in 2014. One of the Council’s achievements that he’s proud of is the greater push toward recycling. The city has gone from collecting recycling every three weeks to every two. But Gibson feels that more can and should be done.

he prioritizes looking into issues in person. He also likes when resi dents call him.

involved in our communit to the people at all times. I pride myself on m they will affect our city Most importantly is t our community What affects the people of C Give me the opportunity to serve you once ag • Lifelong resident of Clifton • Clifton High School graduate • Clifton property owner • Member of Clifton H.S. Mustang Marching Band • Fairleigh Dickinson University BA Elementary Education • NJ Certified ESL Teacher - Montclair University • Former ESL Teacher • Owner Ray Grabo • Served on Clifton • Liaison to Clifton B • Liaison of Clifton B • President of Athen • Host of Clifton Cab • Leader of Swingm VOTE ON NOVEMBER 8, 2022 RE ELECT RAY GRABO Paid for by Re Elect Ray Grabowski for Clifton City Council, 800 Van Houten A Bill Gibson and Ray Grabowski. 14 September 2022 •

Grabowski, 68, said a push needs to be made to enforce Clifton’s laws so that more people respect them. It might mean hiring more zoning law officers or parking enforce ment officers. always been

Another major concern he ad dressed is replacing the Clifton Fire Station 1, at 69 1st St. Gib son said the Council is currently looking at combining two engine companies into one, but could not elaborate further due to ongoing negotiations.

“When a person calls you for something, it’s the most important thing for them,” said Gibson. “I like [when] I can solve something for them.”

“I’ve read multiple articles that have mentioned how by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish,” said Gibson. “We’re looking to see whether we can do recycling every week.” • September 2022 15

City Council Candidates

“Hearing what everyone is saying and what their specif ic issues are … [will] give you the ability to act and to solve more specific problems,” said Iannarella, 33. “You can then turn around and focus on flooding issues and worker reten tion with police and other city hall workers.”

Frank Kasper Applying his school board knowledge to the Council is one of the ways Frank Kasper hopes to continue serving his city. But he’s also prepared to put in the work to gain new knowledge.“Iwentfrom helping 11,000 of our students and would like to use my experience there to help the city as a whole,” said Kasper (CHS 2003). “But being a new [candidate], I would like to sit down … and see how the city runs from city manager to the city clerk, so this way I feel more com fortable as I serve on the council.”

Early Learner Academy on Brighton Road.

“I want that to be a consistent thing across the board for all fami lies and citizens,” he continued.

“My number one dedication is to the people,” said Kasper. “I’m someone who listens to what people have to say in order to help them solve their problem.”

Francesco Muoio

“I loved growing up in Clifton … and really cherish those memories,” said Iannarella.

“Where people can say that Clif ton is an amazing place to live and grow up … and a town [that] can come together to be the standard.”

Kasper’s proposal is to find a new way to work more closely with the police department. He said that is one method of learning what the department needs to retain those on the force.

“My son [Nico] is three in October and I want him to have that same great experience that I had.”

Francesco Muoio’s top three priorities if elected are fos tering fiscal responsibility, addressing overdevelopment and flooding, and tackling policing issues. Muoio moved to Clifton in 2018. He said it was while caddying at the Upper Montclair Country Club dur

Dominic Iannarella and Frank Kasper.

“I would like to keep the city moving forward,” he con tinued. “If we all respect each other, the town will be a great town. I wouldn’t hurt my family, so I wouldn’t hurt the city.” Dominic Iannarella Before tackling specific problems, Dominic Iannarella prefers to think in terms of an overall problem and overall solution. It’s why his top priority is improving the listen ing and general communication between the city and its residents.Asone of the newcomers, Iannarella said he has put his ear to the ground and attended city events with his wife, Natalie Hernandez Iannarella, and their son, Dominic Jr. He added that speaking to professionals can also help you understand the needs in different sections.

Despite running against several incumbents, Iannarella said he has no reservations and is “thrilled to be part of the process.” He added that he considers Clifton at a critical juncture, noting that Mayor James Anzaldi has indicated he’s not seeking re-election after 32 years holding the posi tion of mayor.

“When tickets are written, the city makes money,” said Grabows ki. “If [a parking enforcement of ficer] issues four to five tickets a day … that starts to substantiate their“Enforcingwork.” these laws makes more money for the city rather than costing taxpayers,” he added. “It far exceeds the cost of hiring these officers.” Grabowski has lived in the city for his entire life. One of the things that he said sets him apart is he visits the different neighborhoods throughout the“Myday. strength is that I’m visible all the time and talking to people,” said Grabowski. “If I can shop and eat here, [I do]. Whatever I can do to support Clifton [and] the mer chants, … I do.”

Kasper, who previously taught special education in Sad dle Brook, starts teaching preschool this month at Clifton

16 September 2022 •

Kasper came onto the BOE in 2017 and served for one term. His main concern for the city is looking for ways to retain local police who leave Clifton after a few years for better“I’mpay.concerned not because of the safety of our town, but because we do have a lot of great police officers [and their] exit … is what’s bothering me the most,” said Kasper, 37. • September 2022 17

City Council Candidates

“I’m familiar with budgeting and I’m a numbers per son,” said Sadrakula. “I’m [also] here for the people.”

“Theretention.current police contract needs to be renegotiated to be fairer for the salaries of newer officers,” said Muoio.

“Our infrastructure was very old … and we needed to work on it before it got worse,” said Murphy, 68. “It’s a very important part of what we’ve done for the city.”

Another notable project for the future is addressing Third River’s flooding.

Francesco Muoio, Lauren Murphy, Mary Sadrakula and Matthew Trella.

Murphy has lived in Clifton for 18 years and was elected to the Council in 2014. She is part of the Advisory Committee for Individuals with Disabilities, the Homeless Committee, and the Recreation Committee.

“We have to address it,” she continued. “It is not fair for people to worry that every time there is a bad rain storm, they’ll get flooded. It should’ve been ad dressed a while ago.”

“I’m strongly independent and I guess it puts me

Lauren Murphy

When it comes to zoning issues, Sadrakula is a strong proponent of smart development.

Muoio is the Director of Ac counting & Finance Executive Search at The Bachrach Group. He believes the city should focus on finding cost saving methods as we navigate “an [electric vehicle] revolution in the auto business.” In consideration of gas prices, he made specific mention of the city’s fleet management.

ing high school and college that he fell in love with the city.

18 September 2022 •

Mary Sadrakula

“I believe we must assess and analyze the cost-saving benefits of converting our police, fire and EMT, and government vehicle fleets to EVs,” said Muoio, 34.

As Mary Sadrakula runs for a third term on the Coun cil, she holds steadfast to her campaign slogan: “Our Choice To Be Our Voice.”

Muoio also wants to address public safety, such as qual ity of life issues and the upswing in car thefts. One method includes looking at the obstacles surrounding the city’s po lice

As we move further away from the COVID-19 pan demic, Lauren Murphy’s hope is that things continue to get easier now that the Council and committees can engage with the community. But Murphy pointed out that over the last three years, the city has changed. If re-elected, she wants to see con tinued work on infrastructure and flooding. She added that one major stride made by the Council alongside PSE&G is the repairs to roads and sewers.

“A study is being done on Third River right now and … we are working with other entities to figure out what [the flooding] so lution is,” said Murphy.

“There is a great police training program in Clifton,” he continued. “It has become a major problem to invest in training new officers [who then] leave for greener pastures. We need to pay [them] competitive salaries.”

“I haven’t been in the City of Clifton since birth like some [of the incumbents], but I love this city and put my heart and soul into every com mittee I’m on,” she said. “I intend to keep doing that if I’m re-elected.”

“We need to change our zoning laws,” said Sadrakula, 66. “We cannot have developers calling the shots.”

“I found a home in Clifton and want to be part of the leadership team,” said Muoio. “I believe in Clifton and … believe I have the experience and skills to [take a great city and make it better].”

Sadrakula noted her ongoing vocal opposition to proj ects like the Black Prince Distillery being transformed into 300 residential units and a new proposal for 21 con dos on Valley Road. She added that these major projects are a drain on the city’s resources.

Other top priorities for Sadrakula are accountability and transparency. She has a bachelor’s degree in math ematics and an MBA finance, along with more than three decades experience working in finance on Wall Street.

Matthew Trella

Another reason why Trella has decided to toss himself into the candidate pool is that he’s at a time in his life when it makes sense. Along with being married for 52 years this year, he’s also practiced law for 52 years and has children who are grown and living their own lives.

“I think the attitude when you watch these meetings [is] everyone’s ready for a fight,” said Trella, 76. “It’s not the way to run a city.”

at odds with the existing political infrastructure … but I’m not afraid to speak out,” she added. “People call me and text me … and the unifying thing that I hear is, ‘I’m reaching out to you because if anyone can get this done, it’sSadrakulayou.’”

has lived in Clifton for 25 years and plans to continue doing so. She acknowledged that the Council’s public sessions can get contentious and noted specifically that members of the public have received poor treatment.

“It’s my time,” said Trella. “I want to give back to the community … [and] I have the time and knowledge.”

“We report to the citizens of Clifton,” said Sadrakula. “We have to treat them with respect and dignity.”

Providing an environment where citizens can have open discussions without conflict was one of Matthew Trella’s motivators when deciding to run for a seat on the Council.Trella (CHS 1963) emphasizes the need for coopera tion and collaboration, which he said he does not cur rently see.

“I’m not only a 52-year practicing attorney, but also a licensed tax assessor, former municipal prosecutor, and public defender,” added Trella. “I feel I can contribute to theTrellacommunity.”believes in compromise and the consideration of other people’s perspectives. These are qualities he said he learned from his late father, long-time Clifton attorney Matthew S. Trella. “Towns can be ruined by people with their own agen da,” said Trella. “Don’t enter the field ready for a fight. The City of Clifton is run on the spirit of cooperation.”

City Council Candidates Re-elect Ray Gr a bowski FOR CLIFTON CITY COUNCIL I have always been involved in our community and make myself accessible to the people at all times. I pride myself on making decisions based on how they will affect our city. Most importantly is the health, safety and welfare of our community. What affects the people of Clifton, affects me as well. Give me the opportunity to serve you once again, and I will not let you down. • Lifelong resident of Clifton • Clifton High School graduate • Clifton property owner • Member of Clifton H.S. Mustang Marching Band • Fairleigh Dickinson University - BA Elementary Education • NJ Certified ESL Teacher - Montclair University • Former ESL Teacher • Owner Ray Grabowski Landscaping Contractor • Served on Clifton Planning Board • Liaison to Clifton Board of Health • Liaison of Clifton Beautification Committee • President of Athenia Business Association • Host of Clifton Cable TV Show “Meet Clifton” • Leader of Swingman & The Misfit Mutts Band VOTE ON NOVEMBER 8, 2022 - RE-ELECT RAY GRABOWSKI FOR COUNCIL Paid for by Re Elect Ray Grabowski for Clifton City Council, 800 Van Houten Ave , Clifton, NJ • September 2022 19

“You’re supposed to discuss things and have common sense discussions,” he continued. “[Fighting is] not the way to run a business or a government.”

“We have turned the county into the economically strongest it has ever been with no tax increase in the last four years,” said Duffy. “Our parks and rec are second to none.”

Duffy, a lifelong Passaic County resident, was first elected as a county commissioner in 2004. He lives in the up-county community of West Milford and expressed specific county concerns.

From 2015 to 2019, the Office of the Chief State Medi cal Examiner found that confirmed drug overdoses in Passaic County rose from 83 to 165. In the same period, fentanyl-related deaths increased from 16 to 125. In 2019, Passaic County’s fentanyl-related overdoses was seventh among the 21 counties.

We asked them what they think Passaic Coun ty’s most pressing issue is and how the County police force can effectively complement the work done by Clifton police.

20 September 2022 •

We will also vote for the next Passaic County Sheriff in November. We spoke with incumbent Richard Berdnik and challenger Mason Maher.

The incumbents in this election are Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore. They were first elected to the Board in 2004. The Republican challengers run ning for the two available seats are Troy Oswald and Alex Cruz.

Passaic County Candidates

We asked the candidates questions based on their professional backgrounds. But our main fo cus was learning what each candidate can bring to Passaic County and more specifically, to Clifton.

If re-elected for another three years, Duffy said he will “continue on good government.” The past successes he acknowledged included repairing bridges in the county and avoiding layoffs as the Bergen County Jail assumed the care and custody of Passaic County’s inmates.

Terry Duffy (D) When considering what he brings to the Board of County Commissioners after nearly 20 years, Terry Duffy points to his persistence and willingness to collaborate across the aisle.

“Really the biggest problems in Passaic County … are the gangs and the rampant drug problem,” said Duffy, 70. “We’re losing generations of children on drugs. It’s just crazy.”

Passaic County is comprised of 16 communities, which means the Board of County Commis sioners each have unique and important responsi bilities. The seven-member board is headed by a director. Each commissioner is elected at large for a staggered three-year term.

As one of the two highest-paying municipalities to the county, Lepore said Clifton residents have seen a return to their contributions through open space money and the res toration of roads and Weasel Brook Park. He added there are many people in need of services.

“If the city manager calls us and there is an issue some where, we’ll address it as soon as possible,” said Lepore. • September 2022 21

Terry Duffy, Pat Lepore and Richard Berdnik.

Berdnik added that they have already retrained the jail’s officers and there are another 38 officers in training now. He said these repurposed officers will be put on the streets for any number of protective services, including shootings or robberies in progress. The future plan is also for officers to patrol the county parks and to assign a sheriff officer to each municipality as a liaison.Berdnik graduated from CHS in 1978 and was sworn in as the 49th Sheriff of Passaic County on Jan. 1, 2011. Berd nik served for 28 years with the Clifton Police Department. He retired as the Commander of the Juvenile Division and the SWAT Berdnik’sTeam.expectation by October is the utilization of a Fusion Center. The center will include a network of camer as that monitor the activity entering and exiting the county. He said that it will provide plate readers, cameras to track crime in real time, and capabilities to communicate with other counties in the system. “I love what I do. My only childhood dream was to be a law enforcement officer,” said Berdnik. “If you do something you love, you continue to do what needs to be done.”

“Not raising taxes for four years in a row is an incredible achievement in itself,” said Lepore. “The worst thing you can do is lower taxes by a couple of dollars, only for it to bounce back.”

He added that planning year-to-year is the “first mistake” because unexpected situations can arise and it’s harder to build a healthy surplus.

“We want to facilitate parks, roads, education, and pub lic safety for residents and keep doing what we’re doing,” said Lepore, 70. “When putting the budget together, I think five years down the road to see what the impact will be.”

Pasquale “Pat” Lepore (D) Thinking in the long term is important to Pat Lepore and so is not expecting significant progress to occur overnight. Lepore lives in the Borough of Woodland Park and was first elected as a commissioner in 2004.

“We’re not closing the jail … we’re reorganizing [it],” said Berdnik, 62. “What that will do is ultimately save tax payers money and provide residents with much more as sistance within Passaic County.”

“If I couldn’t do the job, then it would be time to go. But I love this job,” he added. “I’m going to bring consistency—no new formu las. We’ll dissect the problem and collectively all seven of us will do the right thing.”

But one thing Lepore wants to ensure is consistency rather than “yo-yo budgeting.”

Richard Berdnik (D) Ensuring public safety and saving taxpayer dollars are Sheriff Richard Berdnik’s top priorities. One of the ways he said the Sheriff’s Department has done it is by reorganizing the Passaic County Jail.

Passaic County Candidates

“When I got on, there was no surplus to speak of,” said Lepore. “Today, we have the highest rating in the history of the county. That doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “It requires discipline and planning to get to that position.”

Troy Oswald (R)

“I serve food to seniors and work with them and there are no county dollars coming in to support food banks or parks,” said Oswald. “And … in the past 12 years, the Sheriff’s Department got rid of the mobile swat team and brought it back in during election time.”

Alex Cruz (R) Despite numerous requests to interview, we could not connect with this candidate.

“If you take a look at the officers within the Sheriff’s office … it’s almost like they are not in power to do their job,” said Maher. “You don’t see a visible, effective pres ence. I’m looking to empower our officers and have them out there throughout the county.”

“I would imagine speaking with the administration and police department and saying, ‘How can we help you? How can we put county services into your town to offer what is [needed]?’”

“It’s very simple. There has been a loss of services in the past 20 years,” he continued. “If on the Law and Pub lic Safety committee … I would [push for] sheriff’s of ficers to be on the streets to help … free up other officers.”

Passaic County Candidates

22 September 2022 •

Maher said he wants to improve the effectiveness of the Sheriff’s Department officers.

In Clifton, he noted the strain of officers who have left the department. He emphasized sitting down and speak ing with the municipality’s leaders to understand the needs and avoid possibly overstepping.

Oswald moved to Clifton a year and a half ago and said what he hasn’t seen is a return on investment despite Clifton being one of the two highest paying municipali ties in the county.

Mason Maher (R) Equal political balance and representation are what Mason Maher, Troy Oswald, and Alex Cruz want to achieve in Passaic County.

Maher is a lifelong Passaic County resident who was born and raised in Paterson. He has spent over 30 years in law enforcement and was sworn in as the 4th President of Local #1 Superior Officers’ Association in June of 2012.

“I think safety is the key to a successful and vibrant county,” said Maher, 53. “If I’m successful, I will have a hand in fiscal responsibility … to see where there is any waste and make changes.”

For Maher, who’s running for the sheriff’s seat, another pressing issue is safety.

Maher said it could look like officers assisting in pa trols down-county and assisting the Office of Emergency Management with flooding up-county.

“When I’m there, I will be the watchdog of balancing to make sure that the money is spent properly,” he added.

One of Troy Oswald’s goals is to bring political balance to the Board of County Commissioners.Theboardcurrently comprises six Demo crats and one Republican – the latter being Nicolino Gallo, who was appointed at the start of

“There2022.have been 20 years of democratic control for the most part in every seat,” said Oswald, 53. “Any party in power for that much time … [results in] the best inter ests getting lost.”

Alex Cruz, Troy Oswald and Mason Maher.

Oswald has more than three decades of experience in law enforcement. He was the 16th Paterson Chief of Po lice and spent his career working in a variety of divisions like the Task Force, the Warrant Unit, and the Training, Street Crimes and Narcotics division. • September 2022 23

“Before you go into battle, you have to have a game plan,” said Prempeh. “I don’t want to talk a bunch of rhetoric.”“Iwant to be a politician with a map for the future, who hits the ground running … to start working for the American people,” he added.

24 September 2022 •

“I learned a lot, and I’m still learning.”

“I believe in the Constitution and carry it with me all the time,” said Pascrell. “I don’t care if I’m at a ballgame or out to eat at a restaurant or in Congress. … I use it, and it is meant to be used.”

Billy Prempeh (R) Pride in his country and a de sire to see future generations meet meet their full potential inspired Billy Prempeh to run to represent New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District.“Unfortunately throughout my life I have seen our country go in the complete opposite direction,” said Prempeh, 32. “That idea of the American Dream is not only harder to attain, but also seems com pletely out of reach for my generation and generations af ter.”Prempeh also wants to share “new ideas.” One of the things that he said stands in the way of that is career poli ticians. He is focused on term limits that “keep the power in the hands of the people” and mentioned Congressman Pascrell, who was first elected in 1996 from the old 8th district, prior to the 2010 census.

Congress Candidates

“If [I was not accessible], I would not have been elect ed 13 times in a row,” said Pascrell. “I have my record … and I know what I’ve supported and voted for. I’m very proud of my votes.”

In his 2020 campaign, Prempeh said his main message was to “vote Republican.” During this campaign season, he is running on policies. Along with his 8-10-12 plan for term limits, he is advocating for greater support for home lessPrempehveterans.also wants to see more high-paying manufac turing jobs. His Revive America Plan would streamline the creation of high-paying jobs in areas that previously did not have them.

“I like representing the people of the district, and I like to hear from them so I can put [their thoughts] into the mix [when I make] decisions,” said Pascrell, 85.

Pascrell first ran and won in 1987, when he was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly. He served as the Mayor of Paterson from 1990 to 1997. In 1996, he defeated former Clifton Councilmember Wil liam J. Martini to represent what was then the 8th Con gressional District.

Bill Pascrell (D)

The big issues for Pascrell are ensuring fair taxes for all, access to healthcare, and upholding the country’s democratic values.

“I believe he was a good mayor of Paterson and good for the first couple of years in Congress,” said Prempeh. “But I think he’s forgotten about the people. He’s only [approachable] to people who are in his circle.”

Pascrell credits his Catholic school education and fam ily for his preparedness. “My parents knew what they were doing,” he said. “They didn’t go higher than a high school diploma, but they were the smartest people I ever met. … A degree doesn’t make you above anybody.”

Billy Prempeh and Bill Pascrell.

A strong upbringing and ex perience make Congressman Bill Pascrell confident in his contribu tions to Congress.

“I’m also not against admitting when you’re wrong and make a mistake,” he continued. “This is about getting things done for the people.”

Pascrell is also a strong proponent of recognizing that it’s not about settling but finding a way to compromise. In response to his opponent Billy Prempeh’s assertion that he’s only accessible to those in his circle, he pointed to the past bills that he introduced and how “in my 25 years, many of them were bipartisan.”

“I’m a very accessible person and always plan to be that way,” continued Prempeh. “My cell phone is on my website and people across the country reach out to me.” • September 2022 25

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Walk into the world of Grace Lisbona. There’s love, mo tion, history — and most importantly, there’s a need.

Lisbona saw that need four decades ago as a teacher in the Clifton Public Schools system. It was around 1980 and she was teaching a class with the since out-dated label, “The Trainable Mentally Retarded”.

“True civic-minded leaders, such as Joe Kolodziej Sr., Joe Grecco, Gloria Kolodziej, and many others of this benevolent city … saw the desperate need of the [Clifton Adult Opportunity Center] and met it,” said Lisbona, the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center’s executive director.

Despite the initial stir it caused from local and state of ficials, Bober explained that the building’s space is a drop in the “[It]bucket.would be less than .1 acre of land out of 26 acres of the entire Municipal Complex,” he said prior to the latest decision.Lisbona

focuses on the job she’s paid to do rather than

Lisbona saw how her students with developmental dis abilities were plateauing and declining on the year of their 21st birthdays. That’s the year they were mandatorily grad uated from the Clifton school system, and many became increasingly agitated at home because they couldn’t meet the abilities needed in the workforce.

Love, Motion & History

The CAOC officially opened its doors in 1982. Forty years later, they are still working tirelessly to provide their services to Clifton and Passaic County residents. In more recent weeks, it included advocating to expand their facili ties on the Clifton Municipal Complex’s grounds.

By Ariana Puzzo

28 September 2022 •

On Aug. 26, New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office within the Department of Environmental Protection re versed its council’s June 16 denial for a new CAOC Day Program building on the grounds. According to the CA OC’s All Programs Assistant Manager Cory Bober, the ad ditional building’s dimensions are 100 by 40, and it will be located upon a patch of unused grass within walking distance from the existing Day Program center.

Lisbona and a group of parents approached the City of Clifton. It was high time these students had a place to go each day to foster and offer their skills to the community. • September 2022 29

any rhetoric that has surrounded the expansion. She also expressed appreciation for the people who recognized the value of the Center’s expansion.

From there, she was told that if she was willing to do graduate work on it, the district would get her on an emergency list to take over a class of students with de velopmental disabilities. After taking some courses at Kean College and FDU for her master’s degree, she was ready to go.

That’s Grace Lisbona at center in black with some of the CAOC’s residents, staff and day visitors.

Finding A Place to Belong Before the Center’s doors opened in 1982, Lisbona had other plans. Her original plan while attending Fairleigh Dickinson University was to study criminal law. After she took a child psychology course, she redirected her goals. She later applied to the Garfield school system to teach high school psychology.

“The CAOC has always been grateful for the benevo lence of every City Council since our inception and to the citizens of Clifton,” said Lisbona. “We have always tried to show our gratitude in this manner by returning the kindness they have shown to us.”

Namely, the same message that the fictional character Shylock gave in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice — “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

“After that, all of my children were accepted,” said Lis bona. “They adopted us.” But these kids eventually became adults who were as deserving of opportunities as anyone else — they simply needed a unique form of support to make it possible. When Lisbona and a group of parents went to the City Council, they got their first building with a mutual understanding.

“We do it all and have never asked the city for any mon ey,” said Lisbona. “When they had another building, they would call me.”

“Giving these buildings purpose [is what] keeps them alive,” added Bober.

Hugs and A Smile

Word of mouth also went a long way. One of the Cen ter’s vocal and active supporters was the late John Filip pone (CHS 1946). Filippone, who passed away aged 92 in April of 2020, ran an annual drive for many years that benefitted the CAOC through St. Philip the Apostle Roman Catholic Church.

Filippone’s granddaughter Francesca (Hemsey) Cwynar (CHS 2007) added her grandparents, John and Rose Marie (Ricci) Filippone, were longtime friends of Lisbona.

Love, Motion & History

“My grandfather was always a man of service,” said Cwynar, 32. “Anyone you ask … will say that he was a remarkable man … to those who are vulnerable, exploited, [or] relegated to the sidelines.” From cleaning and recycling at parks and other public spaces, to preparing packages for the needy, CAOC people stay busy.

She added that within the first few days, Mooney called each of the other classes individually to the auditorium to make clear his expectations. She recalled that what he said to the students is what she also told the fifth graders at School 13.

Lisbona eventually retired from Clifton Schools after 40 years. She taught at School 13, School 11, and eventually at CHS under former principal Robert Mooney. When she moved with her class up to the high school, Lisbona said that she expressed her concerns to Mooney about how the other students would treat her students.

“He said, ‘You’ll have no trouble. I’ll put your class right next to my office,’” said Lisbona.

The buildings were leased to the CAOC for $1 per year. In turn, the CAOC saved the historical buildings from fur ther disrepair. The Center was responsible for keeping all of its property up to its historic level while making neces sary renovations and bringing it up to departmental codes.

In those early days, the Center meagerly survived with assistance from service groups like the Alhambra and Knights of Columbus. The CAOC also fundraised, solic ited donations, and sold craft items.

30 September 2022 •

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While the coronavirus pandemic prevented certain acts of service, other acts were still possible. Bober said the Center’s members would deliver food to families in need who couldn’t go to the supermarket. The members also as sisted the Power of One Christian Coaching and Outreach Ministries, Inc. with unloading trucks full of food.

“He immediately, upon seeing our work, came to our rescue,” said Lisbona. “He expressed ap preciation for all the efforts that we had given to our people.”

Shredding paper, making deliveries and cleaning up around city hall.

There is also plenty of discipline for the 58 total mem bers, which Lisbona considers important. The Center guides members in developing specific life skills, such as addressing kitchen and household problems. It also in volves everyone putting forth an effort to clean the grounds andThebuildings.Center is also community-driven. Members visit the garden at City Green Farm Eco-Center, at 171 Grove St., and they support seniors by bringing their groceries from the ShopRite in Little Falls. Neumann and Bober said that in years past, the adults visited Clifton elementary schools to help with anything from the music courses to designing sets for school productions.

Receiving funding from the DDD did require some changes. One specific change was that the CAOC had to expand en rollment to Passaic County residents with similar needs to the Clifton enrollees. But that hasn’t taken away from the services to Clifton residents.

“We try to make sure our people are out in the commu nity as much as possible,” said Bober. “It’s good for our people, but also good for the community to see how [they] can contribute.”

After eight years, Lisbona said that it was clear the CAOC couldn’t exist without financial support from the government. They turned to the State Divi sion of Developmental Disabili ties. That’s when the late Edward Moore, the Division’s director and an advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities, came from Trenton to Clifton.

Lisbona and Bober, the latter of whom joined in 2007, both adopted a 24/7/365 availability for the Day Program and full-time members. Rounding out their trio is All Pro grams Director Jodi Neumann, who has also made herself available 24/7 for the past 26 years. Working alongside them are about 48 full- and part-time staff members.

Neumann said she has seen progress made specifically in the group home environments. The homes are a mix of men and women, ranging in age from 21 to 74.

The main indicator of the house’s age is a separate, more narrow staircase likely once intended for housekeep ers. The building once housed the Superintendent

Over the last several decades, they have seen the growth of their group homes. The first group home opened on July 15, 1998 on the Municipal Complex, at 900 Clifton Ave. A second home opened in 2001 and is located at 228 Second St., across from St. Paul Roman Catholic Church.

Love, Motion & History

32 September 2022 •

Ten of the 12 residents in these two group homes came from Clifton families. Some of them have known Lisbona for years and many residents no longer have living blood relatives. But that’s where Lisbona comes in with a warm smile and friendly hug for those who seek it.

“Seeing the others excelerate [is the most rewarding part],” said Neumann. “It’s just a really tight-knit group [and] everyone socializes together.” Part of the Community When we walked into the large Victorian house that serves as the original group home, it was hard to envision what Lisbona once said was complete disarray.

“I think the kids were as heartbroken as we were when COVID hit,” said Neumann. • September 2022 33

“To have that building right next to ours is a safety factor. It would have de stroyed everything to try and pack [our members] up two or three times a day,” said Lisbona. “It wasn’t about money.”

of the U.S. Animal Quarantine Station. It was also in bad condition when the city provided it for the CAOC. To learn more about the history of the former Animal Quarantine Station, read our side-bar.

“Werenovations.havespent hundreds of thou sands of dollars renovating each build ing that we use,” said Lisbona. “We now have an enrollment that exceeds the amount of space we have … as we continue to try to help as many people in need as we can.”

“It needed a great deal of interior and exterior repair,” said Lisbona. “From rotted wood porch pillars, right down to the pavers that were purchased and installed in the area in front of it.” Now that the CAOC no longer receives its budget from the DDD, it gets it from Medicaid. The bud get, Neumann said, is roughly $3 million. It covers 48 staff members, a Day Program, both group homes, and many other aspects like heat and

Afterobjectionable.providing evidence to the con trary, and addressing the Historic Sites Council’s other objections, Lisbona is pleased with the latest outcome.

Which is where the new building and its pushback come into focus. This past July, the Center was met with opposition from state officials and local residents who believed that a new building would alter the Municipal Complex’s historic setting.Before the Center could expand, the state DEP’s New Jersey Historic Sites Council needed to give them the goahead. The council had voted against the expansion, stating in part that the lack of alternative locations for an expansion was

Love, Motion & History 34 September 2022 •

“It’s OK during this time of year, but try [safely walking outside] in 9 degrees with blind people and people who can’t walk very well on icy sidewalks,” she added. “[This aids in] the ability of our staff to immediately [address] any emer gency, such as a seizure or fall.” Neumann added that the new build ing will be dedicated entirely to Day Program work, Monday through Friday. It will also be accessible and allow the Center to accept individuals who use wheelchairs or walkers. Other opposition has come from within the city’s borders. On July 19, supporters and dissenters could speak at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting. But posting the legal advertise ment a day prior resulted in dissenters saying there wasn’t enough notice for both sides to be NorthJersey.compresent.reported that among those who expressed that view were Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula and Alessia Eramo, who is planning to run for a seat on the Council this November. What Lisbona and her team said has hurt the most during the process is the belief some people expressed that mem bers of the Center are “not even part of the general public.”

“I don’t get paid to mud On the facing page, an early rendering of the proposed building. Above, the disputed open area where the structure would be built abuts the rail line and, to the left, is directly adjacent to the existing Day Center. • September 2022 35

sling. It’s so time consuming and if you really have a job, you’re too busy for that garbage,” said Lisbona. She added that the insinuations of the CAOC taking from the city and its his toric integrity and property is not only hurtful, but untrue. She explained that the Center has taken buildings that didn’t possess certificates of occupancy.

Love, Motion & History

One local business she works with is Ethan & the Bean. The Little Falls coffee shop strives to increase the employ ment rate of individuals with intellectual and developmen tal

“Every one of our Board Members has been a concerned Clifton citizen … who cares deeply for our cause and the historic value of the City Hall property,” she said. “Our 41year relationship of successfully working together with the City of Clifton makes us a definite part of the history of the Clifton City Hall Complex.” Learning basic car maintenance from a staff member.

A Definite Part of History

As the CAOC continues into its next decade of service and growth, certain aspects are steadfast. Community supporters like Cwynar remain committed to the Center’s cause.

Lisbona continued by saying that the Center has always “tried to preserve the historic integrity of wherever we are.”

36 September 2022 •

“The care and level of care they provide for these indi viduals is second to none,” said Villano. “I love helping them because it’s for a good cause. I feel these adults de serve this, and I just want to support them in any way I can.”Lisbona said the approval has left her feeling “blessed by God” and grateful that the people who make up the CAOC will have a space to thrive. She added if there’s ever a day when the Center ceases to exist, they would “will” any building built with their funds to the city.

Lisbona said there are about eight years remaining on the CAOC’s original 50-year lease from the city on the buildings. But the expansion request means the Center will need a new lease.

Cwynar spoke at the July meeting in support of the ex pansion. As a freelance content strategist and creative con sultant, Cwynar collaborates with small businesses and nonprofits that support adults with disabilities in the res taurant space.

It could mean finishing up the current lease and start ing a new 25-year lease, or canceling the current lease and starting a new one. Any agreement will include the new building and require at least four of the seven councilmem bers’Villanoapproval.added that he’s pleased to see the continued growth of the CAOC.

“Maybe we’re a minority,” said Lis bona, “but we’re still part of the commu nity.”

“[Thedisabilities.Center] offers second to none critical services,” said Cwynar. “Expanding on it felt like a no-brainer.” Cwynar went on to describe the Center as “inclusive” and “transcendent.” What she hopes more people realize is the work the CAOC does is both “important to the people they serve and to the community we love.” It will also al ways remain an organization that personally touches her.

“My grandpa was the best … and fought so prudently for them,” said Cwynar. “Anything I can do to honor him, I will happily do [until] my very last breath.”

Last month, City Manager Nick Villano said he would send a copy of a lease agreement letter to Clifton’s City Council ahead of its Sept. 6 meeting. The Council will then discuss the new lease’s structure.

From 1900 to 1979, nearly 95% of imported animals entering the nation passed through the station.

Founded by Councilwoman Mary Sadrakula, the nonprofit Clifton His toric Quarantine Station Preservation Foundation was formed to help preserve the buildings that are currently unused, underutilized, or needing repair.

Served by a freight rail line to the Hoboken piers, the Quarantine Station, sometimes referred to as the “Ellis Is land for animals,” made Clifton famous.

After 1949, the quarantine station also served as a tem porary roost for birds and other flying creatures of major collectors. Champion horses were flown in to be inspected before racing and shows.

It was not uncommon for expensive animals under quar antine to be bought and sold while in Athenia, as caretak ers could parade animals before prospective buyers who peered in from the Colfax Avenue fence.

The non-profit’s goal is to assist Clifton by seeking grants and private donations specifically for restoration, and to help the city prioritize the repairs needed based on a planned, more thorough assessment of the buildings.

Longtime Cliftonites often share stories about the former U.S. Animal Quarantine Station where the Clifton Municipal Complex and High School now sit.

Though farm animals also passed through the proper ty, Cliftonites would line the station’s tall fence to catch a glimpse of the “circus” parade that would disappear into one of the 18 barns, as antelope, giraffe, camels and zebra, on their way to U.S. zoos, made their way through Clifton.

“While several buildings are being actively used by the city,” said Jeffrey Kracht, a member of the preservation group, “local citizens are rallying to save the site’s remain ing“Webuildings.”havea long road of fundraising and rehabilitation ahead to ensure the site’s preservation before the buildings fall victim to demolition by neglect,” he added in 2019. The group hoped the Quarantine Station’s addition

The Animal Quarantine Station In 2019, Preservation New Jersey cited the former U.S. Animal Quarantine Station in Clifton on its most endangered list. • September 2022 37

Since 2019, a Clifton group has avid ly sought to preserve the quarantine sta tion’s history and its remaining build ings and land.

To learn more about the group’s efforts, visit their Face book page

More recently, the Friends of the Historic Quarantine Station on Facebook encouraged citizens to support the Historic Sites Council’s since-reversed recommendation to deny the Clifton Adult Opportunity Center’s application to expand on Municipal Complex grounds.

in 2019 by Preservation New Jersey to its annual list of the “10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey” would bring attention to their efforts.

Along with the historical loss, many saw an impending negative impact on Main Avenue commerce — something most agree came to fruition.

The purchase of the remaining 27 acres occurred in 1966, though the actual possession of the land could not take place until a new quarantine site was found. It eventu ally was relocated to Stewart Air Field in Newburgh, New York. The total cost of the purchase of the 50.5 acres was $667,900.By1977,

Contentious History In its day, the station was self-sufficient. Its superinten dent and family lived in a since restored home on the front of the property, which faces Clifton Avenue, and the site drew its water from an artesian well. reported in May that the City Coun cil approved a $635,000 bid from Dell-Tech. The Trenton firm specializes in restoring historic buildings. Restoring the interior would be the next step that City Manager Nick Villano said could take about two years, if it’s approved.

A renovated and expanded Quarantine Barn has become the Clifton Arts Center.

38 September 2022 •

Clifton acquired 15.5 acres of quarantine land from the United States in 1956 and another eight acres in 1959. The 23.5 acres were used to develop Clifton High School, which opened in 1962.

At the time, City Manager William Holster called the CCCA’s position “sabotage.” But, before he died, Holster said he regretted moving City Hall from Main Ave. ton Historic Quarantine Station Preservation Foundation believes more can be done. This past May signaled a win for the group. Animal Barn S2, which had fallen into disrepair, was no longer wrapped by yellow caution tape. A previous inspection found that the barn’s roof was leaking and its soffits were rotting. Once the city stabilized the building’s structure, re habilitation to its exterior began.

more than 1,200 Clifton residents had signed petitions distributed by the Committee for Civic Center Al ternatives opposing construction of a new City Hall. • September 2022 39

It’s hard to argue with Vander Closter. From 1972 through 1973, the Mustangs scored 708 points while giving up only 70. The result was an 18-0 record, two state cham pionships, and a legacy that endures five decades later.

They learned the Clifton style of play in Pee Wee Football, and refined their game as mem bers of Frank Pecci’s Junior Mustangs. And when it was their turn to play for Clifton High, the 1972-73 players showed everyone just how good a team could be.

“I hope,” says Joe McGonigle, offensive lineman and captain of the 1973 team, “that another Clifton team comes along that’s even better than we were. I hope that forAClifton.”nicewish, but an unlikely one just the same.


“The 1972-73 teams were the culmination of all the ones before them,” recalled their coach, Bill Vander Closter, who passed away in 2007. “I believe they’re the two most outstanding teams in Clifton’s history. They didn’t have one star like Boettcher or Telesh—they were a team with many stars.”

By Jack De Vries

A 2010 photo of the only back to back undefeated Fighting Mustangs in CHS history. From left, holding ’73 jacket is Bob Bais and Greg Wichot with the ’72 jacket. At center with trophy which states ‘Clifton 9-0 StarLedger Poll #1 1973’ is Joseph McGonigle. Left rear, Charles DiGia como, Paul Nebesni, Coach Vander Closter and Dennis Mikula. This article was originally pub lished in September 2002, and has been updated for this edition by members of the 1972 team.

They were descended from Coach Joe Grecco and Bobby Boettcher, nephews of the 1950s great stars Billy DeGraaf, George Telesh, and Roger Fardin. They saw their big brother Tom Papa crack his helmet during Clifton’s last undefeated season in 1962, and flew along with Gary Shenton in 1969, soaking in the crowd’s roar at Clifton School Stadium.

40 September 2022 •

In fact, they became the best there ever was. • September 2022 41

Get What’s Coming Clifton’s 1972 season started with uncertainty. Booted out of the Passaic Valley Conference because of high enroll ment, the Mustangs were ordered by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to join the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League to play against Group IV teams. But because of commitments to play Garfield and Passaic through 1973, Clifton was barred from con tending for the NNJIL title. Newspapers said Clifton would finally “get what’s com ing to them” against the bigger schools like Bergenfield, Paramus, and Fair Lawn.

“When school started,” remembered 1972 offensive line man and team captain Dennis Mikula, who passed away in December 2021, “Principal (Aaron) Halpern called me in his office and said principals of other schools told him they were going to wipe the floor with Clifton.” With Vander Closter calling the 1972 season Opening Day vs. Fair Lawn 1973. #51 Dennis Kleber, #48 Ken Ritoch, #60 Joe Mc Gonigle and #61 Charles DiGiacomo. Clifton won 56-24.

a “rebuilding year” in the papers, the talk of the NNJIL’s tougher competition affected the players.

Clifton started the year by traveling to Fair Lawn and beating the Cutters, 25-7. Junior quarterback Dale Oost dyk began his All-State season by throwing touchdowns to Bob Conrad and Rich Forte. Junior running back Jim Jenkins scored on a three-yard run, and Paul “Mooch” Mil lar blocked a punt and went in for a TD.

The next week, the Mustangs’ defense again dominated, shutting out Wayne Valley, 27-0, ignited by an 85-yard punt return by John Cordasco, 28- and 38-yard TD runs by Dom Fego, and another Oostdyk to Conrad strike. Vander Clo ster’s talk quickly turned from rebuilding to “shooting for the state championship.”


After allowing a late touchdown against their second unit to Teaneck in a 49-7 rout, the defense began pitch ing shutouts again. They beat the Paramus Spartans, 19-0, with linebackers Denny Kleber and Millar both returning after a bout with the flu to lead the defense, and blanked Bergenfield, 28-0, at muddy Clifton School Stadium, led by their “spiritual leader,” 5’4”, 160 lbs. defensive captain

One of the defensive stars that day was Junior End Paul Lichtenberger, who dominated the Cutters and, sadly, never played another game for Clifton. Lichtenberger had started to experience headaches, and doctors diagnosed a soft spot on this skull, making him vulnerable to repeated contact. “Paulie Lich,” who passed away several years later of un related causes, may have been the best of the bunch– a surefire Division One player whose high school career was limited to 48 minutes of excellence.

The Perfect Season

Mustang History www.mikulainc.comOffice: 973.772.1684 New Jersey Home Improvement Contractor #13VH00769700 Best of Luck to all of the Clifton Fighting Mustangs this Fall FDU New Jersey Family Business of the Year - 2020 NJLICA Safety Recognition Award Recipient - 2021 CIANJ Companies that Care Award Recipient - 2022 In Loving Memory of: Dennis and Cynthia Mikula Clifton High School - Class of 1973 42 September 2022 •

“That summer (before the season),” said Mikula, “a bunch of us used to meet at night to work out, run some stairs and some plays. After working out, we’d talk about the new league. We figured we’d be about 5-4.”

Vander Closter’s 4-4-3 defense was patterned after Notre Dame University’s and built around his quick, tal ented linebackers—juniors Millar, Kleber, Ken Ritoch, and senior Steve Weiss. Other defensive starters were Al Lisowski, Kyle Huziarski, Greg Nazimek, and DiOrio, and defensive backs Fego, Cliff Miras, and Mike Duda. “The defense set the tone for the season,” said Coach Vander Closter with Captain Dennis Mikula.

“I know,” recalls fullback Pat Donohue, “that most peo ple felt we would be facing a more difficult schedule, with Hackensack and Wayne Valley. But keep in mind, we had been playing teams like Montclair, Bloomfield, Nutley and East Paterson (now Elmwood Park) – and those guys were plenty good as well. But, yes, there was a fear of the un known.”

“I was quicker than everybody else,” says DiOrio, a lineman. “Bergenfield lined up with a foot between each lineman, so I shot the gaps and was in the backfield all day. The whole defense had a great game.” • September 2022 43

Other offensive standouts included running backs Jeff MacPeek, Craig Whalen, Pat Donohue, Cordasco, and Fego, who led the team with 48 points scored, and junior linemen Charlie DiGiacomo, Chris Conrad, and McGo nigle, and senior tackles Mikula and Paul Nebesni. The Mustangs also had a potent receiving core, featuring Forte, who Vander Closter often referred to as “the best pure ath lete on the team,” Bob Conrad, and Jerry Andrewlavage, who starred as the team’s place kicker and punter, arguably the finest in Clifton’s history.

A well-known pregame ritual for players from that era was Vandy giving his pregame “Knute” talks, typically ending with him shouting –“up the field, down the field,” and players banging on their lockers.

team was loaded with weapons, in cluding Jenkins, who ran for nearly 700 yards and seven scores, and Oostdyk, who passed for 1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns that season. It is also worth noting that on a high school team that scored over 300 points in nine games, no one player scored 50, and 12 different players scored at least one touchdown.

Mikula, who scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery against Bergenfield. “I remember them giving us the ball in great position, often after recovering a fumble or inter cepting a pass. They made it so easy.”

“One big advantage we had,” said Mikula, “was our depth. Most of us played one way, and we had another group of guys, like Greg Zipf, “Satch” Simmons, and Bob Lucas to play special teams – those guys could have started on any of the teams we played that year.”

By mid-season, Jenkins began imitating Vandy imitat ing Knute Rockne, with borrowed glasses, a whisper at the start and a bellow at the end. What “Jenks” did not realize was that Vandy had caught on to the gig and began hiding around the corner of the locker room, listening and laugh ing as his star tailback mimicked him. Dennis Mikula’s leadership role on that team cannot be overstated. Dale Oosdyk unleashing another long one.

Mustang History 44 September 2022 •

Yet another team strength was the “culture” established by Vander Closter and his coaches, Emil Chaky, Bob Un gemah, John Lischak and Joe Greene, and enforced by Mi kula, who was the perfect Captain to lead the ’72 squad. “Vandy,” to his credit, adjusted his coaching style to fit the players on his roster, a free spirited bunch; hair got a little longer, practices got a little shorter and once the season be gan there was virtually no contact through the middle of the season, as the wins piled up, Vander Closter sensed that the players were becoming a bit “cocky, “ and were slacking off in practice. He blew the whistle and said the defense would be “going live”, for the rest of the day, a form of discipline. On the next three plays, Weiss Duda, Miras and eight other angry guys tackled the practice squad backs so hard they had to be helped off the field – take that Knute! Practice resumed in peace.

“To me that Bergenfield game was the tipping point, when I realized how good we could be,” recalls Conrad. “The weather was horrible, and I kept thinking how one fluke play could ruin what we had accomplished through the first four games. Then Dennis scored that touchdown by doing exactly what he was supposed to do – follow the play – we took the lead right before half and never looked back.”Ashout-out, 50 years later, also goes to the Clifton Marching Band, which braved the elements that day for its own head-to-head matchup with the similarly decorated Bergenfield Band. Alas, the Bergenfield group chose to stay home – and the Mustang Band “killed it” in ponchos and rain Clifton’sboots.offensive • September 2022 45

Looking to Repeat For McGonigle, the 1973 season would have a strange beginning.“Latein my junior year, I cut school,” McGonigle re members. “I got a message the next day that Coach Vander Closter wanted to see me in his office. I thought, ‘I’m dead—he must have seen me at the sweet shop the day be fore.’

The turning point came late in the first half when Ritoch, who passed away in 2018, scooped up a fumble and ran 50 plus yards for a touchdown, breaking open what had been a close game to that point.Based on their perfect season, the Tastykake Dunkel Top Twenty rated Clifton as the best team in the state with a 77.7 score, ahead of Summit, Brick, Westfield, and Hasbrouck Heights. Oost dyk gained first team All-State honors, Bob Conrad was selected to the All-State second team, and Jenkins joined the pair on the All-Metropolitan Team, with other Mustangs grabbing All-NNJIL honors.

Mustang History 46 September 2022 •

PV coach Steve Gerdy realized his team had almost no chance against the Mustangs. His game plan included re verses, jump passes, and running the old single wing offense—not seen since the days of Grecco’s 1940s teams.

The next game featured a grudge match against Passaic Valley. Some of the Clif ton players had faced Passaic Valley once before as members of the Christopher Co lumbus freshman team. In a 1969 game, Columbus led at halftime, 14-0, but PV came back to win. “When they left the field,” says DiO rio, “they were laughing at us. I had the PV game marked on my calendar for the entire season.”

Jerry Andrewlavage.Thanksgiving Day vs. Passaic 1973. #75 Peter Dubniczki, #61 Charles DiGiacomo and #44 Paul Fego. Clifton won 75-12.

“The play I remember 30 years later,” he says, “was the long pass to (Ken) Slappy that went for a touchdown on their first possession. That was the first points anybody scored on our first-team defense. I tipped that ball as it went by, but I didn’t get enough of it.”

Much of the town was at Clifton School Stadium for the Passaic Game, which saw the Mustangs hammer the Indi ans, 35-6. Despite the win giving the Mustangs their un defeated season, the game remains bittersweet for DiOrio.

Though Vander Closter called Hackensack the “toughest game on our schedule,” the Mus tangs rolled over the Comets, 47-0, holding them to 26 yards rushing and 60 yards pass ing on their home field. With 4:05 left in the fourth quarter, the Hackensack band played “Taps” in surrender.

As Donohue recalls, “Dennis wasn’t a rah rah guy, he led by example. Words like hum ble, honest, loyal and dependable all come to mind. Did we bust his chops and give him a few grey hairs? Absolutely. But we always knew he had our backs and he knew we had his. He has a high character guy, trusted by both the coaches and the players.”

Clifton was unimpressed with the nos talgia, blanking PV, 44-0. The Mustangs gained 306 yards of total offense, with Jenkins rushing for 95 yards and two touchdowns—giving DiOrio sweet re venge. A 55-0 laugher over Garfield followed, setting up a sea son ending contest against Passaic on Thanksgiving Day, also Vander Closter’s 48th birthday. • September 2022 47

“Joe was also the toughest guy in a locker room filled with tough guys,” recalls Center Chris Conrad. “No one was going to challenge his authority and a team with so many returning starters needed that.”

“When I got there, he said, ‘Congratulations, you’re my captain for next season.’ I couldn’t believe it—what an honor. I’d gotten about three-quarters of the vote. Later, I found out that when Coach found out who’d won, he told them to count the votes again. I think he wanted either Denny Kleber or Dale Oostdyk to be captain, but he got stuck with me.”

The ghost of the 1963 Mustangs did not bother the 1973 squad. They opened the season by pounding Fair Lawn 5624, with Oostdyk hitting Fego on a 25-yard score with only 1:40 gone in the first quarter. Jenkins ran a kickoff back 88 yards and Fego added two more touchdowns.

Not all the players got ready the same way. McGonigle prepared quietly, as did Oostdyk. “I didn’t mind the mu sic,” he says. “Using it to get psyched was more of a line man’s psychology. But I had to think about what I needed to do before the game.”

48 September 2022 •

“After the Fair Lawn game,” says McGonigle, “a lot of us were quiet. We won, but our defense had given up more points in one game than we had the previous season. They’d come mostly against our second team, but we were stillStartingdisappointed.”forClifton’s 1973 defensive unit were line backers Ritoch, Kleber, Millar, and Allan Kanter; lineman Karl Buttner, Pat Daly, Mike Molner, John George, and Pete Dubniczki; and defensive backs Bob Bel Bruno, Greg Wichot, and Ed Evers. The offensive starters were linemen DiGiacomo, McGo nigle, Chris Conrad, Bob Lucas, and Chet Stuphen; receiv ers Ritoch and Andrewlavage, and offensive backs Oost dyk, Jenkins, Fego, Jim Radcliffe, and Bob Kuper.

“It was hard to appreciate everything as high school kids,” says Kleber, “all the glory, limelight, and apprecia tion the city had for us. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how significant those seasons were to people—my dad loved to talk about those days.”

Though many of his core players and stars were return ing, Vander Closter worried before the 1973 season about overconfidence—reminded by the fate of another Mus tangs team a decade before. Like the 1972 squad, the 1962 state championship team had gone undefeated and was a squad loaded with talented juniors. The 1963 Mustangs opened against Paterson Cen tral, a team they had whipped the year before, 49-6, ruining the coaching debut of Coach Joe Biscaha. But this time, Biscaha wrecked Clifton’s hopes of another undefeated year as Central pasted the Mustangs, 20-7. Clifton finished the 1963 season a lackluster 6-3.

Mustang History

“Joe McGonigle,” says Kleber, “was a good leader. He wasn’t loud or pushy—he was solid as a rock. He set a great example in practice. He worked hard and didn’t cheat. Everyone had a lot of respect for him.”

Vander Closter used other ways, in addition to the fi ery “Knute Talks,” to motivate his players. “Near the end of the year,” says DiGiacomo, “he would talk with the se niors. He might talk about the player’s father or grandfa ther if they played for Clifton, or simply thank the player for what they meant to the Mustangs. It was very moving.”

Jimmy Jenkins leaves the defenders behind.

As captain, McGonigle says he got along well with his coach.“Irespected Vandy,” he says. “It wasn’t until my senior year that I got to know him. As a sophomore and junior, he seemed kind of aloof—maybe that was his way of main taining discipline. But as a senior, we talked, and I’d ex press my opinion if I felt something wasn’t right.”

After the game, the players had a standing invitation for free hot dogs, burgers, and fries at the Red Chimney on Route 3. The team, coaches, and cheerleaders would go there after every game, the guests of Lou Trella, father of former 1966 Mustang Ron Trella. • September 2022 49

Perfect Season Part II

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In the third game against Teaneck, Clifton romped to a 47-0 victory behind Jenkins’ four TDs and four intercep tions by the defense. The next game, after Bergenfield took a 6-0 lead, the Mustangs scored the next 33 for the

The 1972 Fighting Mustangs during their 20-year reunion in 1993. Third row, from left, Chris Conrad, Mike Molnar, Bob Belbruno, Dennis Kleber, Greg Wichot, Dominick Fego. Second row, from left, Ken Ritoch, Paul Millar, John George, Kyle Huziarski, Joe Mc Gonigle, James Jenkins, Bob Lucas, Karl Buttner, Bob Davis and Greg Pavan. Bottom row, from left, Charles DiGiacomo, Lou Capuano, Coaches Vander Closter, Emil Chaky and John Lischak.

After beating Fair Lawn, Clifton beat Wayne Valley, 210, on the strength of Jenkins 118-yard, two touchdown per formance and another stellar defensive effort.

After the game, Wayne Valley coach Ken Sinofsky re fused to shake Vander Closter’s hand at midfield because Clifton was driving for another score late in the game. “You really needed that last one,” Sinofsky said as he stalked off.

The charge of “running up the score” would dog Vander Closter and Clifton throughout the season and was played up by the Bergen Record. While Vander Closter would tell the papers, “We’re like the Yankees—everyone is out to beat us,” the criticism was hard to avoid.

“We were playing sometimes 60 to 70 players a game,” he says. “You couldn’t tell the second team players to ease up—they wanted an opportunity to shine, too.”

Passaic Valley (7-0) was Clifton’s next opponent, and the newspapers predicted a tough battle. They were wrong. Clifton rolled up 384 of fensive yards and didn’t punt the entire day, blasting the Hornets, 39-0 before 6,000 fans in Little

recalled Vander Closter of the player who rushed for 1,113 yards and 22 touchdowns in 1973, “was as good a running back that ever played for Clifton. His style was a little different than, say Shenton’s, he would hit and spin rather than try to run over people.”

win. A 40-8 dusting of Paramus followed, setting up a match against 4-1 Hackensack, who had beaten undefeated Ridgewood the week before. Like other teams that season, the Comets were no test for the Mustangs. Behind the ferocious Ritoch—who most consider the greatest linebacker in Clifton’s history—the Mustangs shutout Hackensack, 34-0. Despite suffering from tonsillitis the day before, Jenkins ran for 128 yards and three “Jimmyscores.Jenkins,”

ThoughFalls.Garfield played inspired ball against the Mustangs in the next game, bat tling to a 0-0 tie until 2:35 remained in the first half, Clifton won, 34-0. Despite a damaged navicular bone in this throwing wrist, Oostdyk again enjoyed an other tremendous year, throwing for 1,384 yards, completing 79 passes in 144 attempts, and passing for 19 touchdowns. • September 2022 51

The quarterback suffered the injury in a scrimmage before the season started when he was pushed and fell after completing a pass. Though his wrist hurt for a week, he learned about the injury later in the season when he was having trouble shooting baskets. His mother took him to the doctor, and the injury was“Beforediscovered.the PV game,” recalled Vander Closter, “I met with his parents. They asked he be allowed to play because the injury hadn’t affected his throwing. Because they were supportive, I agreed.” Clifton’s last game was their traditional match against Passaic—“a scary game,” ac cording to DiGiacomo because so much was a stake. Clifton had a right to be scared. With its shotgun offense, Passaic only trailed, 14-12, at the end of the first quarter. But the Mustangs put their fear to good use, rolling to a 75-12 victory behind Jenkins four touchdowns’ and Ritoch’s three. Unchallenged Legacy When taken together, the 72-73 teams were, as Vander Closter noted, arguably the best in Clifton’s history. If polled, the players from that era would probably agree that the ’72 defense and the ’73 offense were the two best units the school has ever fielded. Vander Closter often made ref erence to the ’56 team, which posted similar statistics, but lost a single game, to Montclair, in a jammed packed Sta dium. Also worth noting are the cumulative records of the ’73 team during four years of playing football within the Clifton School system.

Besidesworked.thevarious honors for the Mustangs players— including All-State selections for Oostdyk and Ritoch and Kodak National High School “Coach of the Year” for Vander Closter—the Mustangs finished as the Star-Led ger’s choice for New Jersey state champion, scoring 379 points while giving up 50. The Tastykake Final Dunkel Top Twenty also rated Clifton as the state’s best team with a 90.1 score, good for third best in the nation.

The players rightly give a lot of the credit for their suc cess to their coach and his staff, however in many ways the teams were an extension of the larger Clifton community of that period. Youth football leagues were thriving, parents were involved in the most positive way and, as an aspiring 10- or 12-year-old athlete, a goal in life was to someday earn one of the State Championship Jackets being worn around town by your older role models. The thought of playing at one of the athletic powerhouses, such as St. Pe ters Prep or Don Bosco, that have emerged in the past 20 years was simply out of the question – you were going to be a Mustang!

On Friday, Sept. 9, members of the 72-73 squads, along with family and friends, will gather at 4 pm at the Grande Saloon on Van Houten Ave. to celebrate those accomplish ments, and pay tribute to the Captain of the 1972 team, Dennis Mikula. The group will then move to Clifton Sta dium, where a pre-game presentation will be made in Mi kula’s honor. Want to be a part of the reunion? Questions regarding the event may be emailed to

Mustang History 52 September 2022 •

The “Columbus Guys,” Oostdyk, Andrewlavage, Mc Gonigle, Jenkins, Chris Conrad, Fego, DiGiacomo and Jenkins, lost one game in those four years, by six points to Ridgewood – as freshman. That group went on to lead the offensive firepower on the 72-73 teams.

The “Woodrow Guys,” from the ’73 group, Kleber, Bel Bruno, Evers, Millar and, of course, Ritoch, provided much of the defensive prowess, and lost a handful of games –also as freshman. This was a consistent theme throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s – quarterbacks came from Co lumbus, and middle linebackers from Woodrow – and it clearly

Fifty years ago this fall, 100 players fulfilled that dream, becoming one of the two greatest football teams in Clif ton’s storied history. Then, as if to emphasize that point, many of the same players repeated the feat in 1973, again going 9-0 and scoring over 300 points. As linebacker Den nis Kleber once said, “We never thought anyone could beat us.” And no one did. • September 2022 53

It won’t be easy, but Tables isn’t your typical tenth-grad er. A student of the game with incredible awareness of the

The last time Clifton football de fended a sectional championship (2007), it went 3-7. After winning the 2021 North II, Group V title, the Mus tangs will look to achieve a much bet ter follow-up performance.


Juniors Nate Ceneri, Marvin Bailey and Alex Franco will be Clifton’s top receiving targets, while senior Joe Abill will again be the starting tight end.

Of course, a young quarterback needs run support, which will largely be pro vided by junior Devon Stroble. Stroble spent part of the offseason training with now-graduated Clifton running back Bryan Feliciano—one of the program’s toughest and hardest-working players in recent Stroblememory.clearly absorbed a lot, as he proceeded to put together a transfor mative offseason of his own.

MUSTANG SPORTS Sep 1 East Orange 7pm Sep 9 Ridgewood 7pm Sep 16 @ Eastside 6pm Sep 24 @ Delbarton 1pm Sep 30 Passaic 7pm Oct 7 PCTI 7pm Oct 14 @ N Highlands 6:15pm Oct 21 @ Union City 7pm MUSTANGFOOTBALLSPORTS 54 September 2022 •

Romelo Tables will be under center for the Mustangs, and he will be expected to maintain the incred ibly high standard set by his predecessor, Kyle Vellis.

“Bryan told Devon in December, if you’re not working now, you’re be hind,” Cinque said. “Devon listened.”

Clifton head coach Ralph Cinque enters his eighth year leading the team for which he was a star running back and believes his team is far more equipped to deal with success than the 2007

“ThereMustangs.areguys on our staff that were around [in 2007],” Cinque re called. “And there are enough sea soned coaches that know what it takes to make sure the next team realizes that the guys who had the most to do with [last year’s] championship win aren’t here anymore. We tell our guys, ‘don’t act like a champion, be a cham pion.’”Sophomore

Abill is an ferocious blocker who is established as an asset in the run game, and should be a more prominent part of the passing game this season.

position he is in, Tables has all the tools to be an elite passer.

Clifton’s offensive front five is highlighted by junior left tackle Trumain Lawson, who boasts offers from the likes of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Kansas and Duke. Lawson

Sports by Tom Szieber

Abill, an edge rusher last year, will move to inside linebacker this fall. As the Mustangs’ best player, his skills are important in offsetting the heavy graduation losses in the position group. Abill was a monster last season, tallying 71 tackles and 9.0“ your resident tough guy,” Cinque said. “Sometimes, when you have senior class like last year, you did not need Joe to lead. But we need his leadership this year, and if any one can handle the position change, JoeJuniorcan.” Kyano Jimenez will be the inside linebacker on the weak side. Senior Marcos Betances will play the on the outside strong side. Soph omore Alexander Francisco and se nior Luke Chambers will likely both see time as the weak side outside linebacker.

turn to page 59 • September 2022 55

has the tools to break out on both sides of the ball, and has packed on muscle after nine months in the weightSeniorroom.left guard Jacob Vasquez is back after a solid penultimate season.

Center Jared Donis, right guard Isaac Cazimoski and right tackle Nazareth Aquino—all seniors—complete the starting offensive line.

Lawson, Abill and Bailey will be the leaders of their respective corps on Ondefense.theline, Lawson will be the left defensive end, and can boost his rising recruiting stock by becoming the disruptive force Cinque believes he can be. “He is long, but still very physi cal,” Cinque said. “He has looked good this preseason and needs to shut other teams down this year.”

In the secondary, Clifton has a cornerback in Bailey who is fierce against the run and a lockdown de fender against the pass.

Senior Giovany Duran will be Clifton’s right defensive end, while Vasquez will bring his strength and physicality to the interior of the Mus tangs’ three-man front.

Franco will be the other start ing corner, while Ceneri will be the strong safety and Stroble the free. The specialist positions were im portant during the Mustangs’ title run. Senior Ryan Liszner, for exam ple, went 4-of-5 on field goals and 28-of-30 on extra points, and is back looking stronger and more precise than ever. Ceneri will handle punt ing duties. Return responsibilities, which were held mostly by the ex plosive Donovan Swasey last season, will now be the job of Bailey, Fran co, Chambers and senior Yves Jean.

The Clifton High School Cheer Team has grown impressively in numbers, strength and competi tively with the guidance of Head Cheer Coach Gina Matano, who is also a Kindergarten Teacher at School 11. As they train in the gym at the Brighton Rd. Annex, some 19 Varsity and 15 JV athletes are working it, running cheers, build ing strength and of course, learn ing to make their voices heard.

“Our coed Varsity Team, rang ing from freshmen to seniors, par ticipates in sideline football cheer in the Fall followed by a competi tive season in the Winter,” said Matano, who took over the pro gram in 2021.

“Our JV Squad cheers on the JV Football team in the Fall and our Varsity Basketball team in the Winter. These athletes work tire lessly for two seasons to spread school spirit and support our Football and Basketball Teams.”Butthat’s not all the Cheer squad does these days.

“This year, we are determined to have an other successful season,” said Matano. “The coaches and team are putting in extra work and hours to make sure we are prepared for our long, eight-month season,” said Matano.

Seniors from front left : Captains Paris Frederick, Nicolle Leitner, Camila Vasquez and Jacklyn Nelson. Standing: Jonas Arias, Sa’Reyah Haskins, Andrea Moran, Mia Gaunt, Matthew Jaramillo. Missing is Ilaiza Fuentes.


With assistant coaches Samantha Segda, Sarah Post, and Laura Tunnell, the team also is training for the Big North and State Cheer Championships in February.

In 2022, the Mustang Competition Team fell short of winning the title of State Cham pions for the Coed Large Division. However, they took home 1st Place in the Liberty Divi sion at the Big North Championship.

56 September 2022 •

Underclassmates include juniors Julia Er skowicz, Brianna Gonzalez, C’Anni Green and Nicole Modla. Sophomores are Kelsey Dubravsky, Elizabeth LaTorre and Alexa Miller. Freshmen are Amilia Betances and Melenny Inoa. • September 2022 57

Seniors on the squad are pictured here, include above from left: Justin Giglio, Gavrielle Rivera, Theresa Joseph, Drum Major Romeo Gonzalez, Michelle Marin, Sandy Co coyutla and Emmanuel West. Below: Mark Leszczynski, Ian McCarrick, Justina Schiavone, Kaylee Unis-Hinojosa, Anna Boscia, Kiara Unis-Hinojosa and Gabriel Membreno.

The 84th edition of Your Mustang Marching Band has been hard at work since the start of Band Camp on August 15. In addition to performances at every varsity football game, band season highlights will include appearances at the North Jersey Band Festival (10/23), West Milford Tat too (11/12), and Under the Lights (11/23).

58 September 2022 •



“Wehead-on.haveto stay humble and we can’t forget that everybody wants a piece of us,” he said. “We went to West Essex recently for a practice and scrimmage,” continued Cinque. “It was physi cal, and I thought we held our own. Then we had Wayne Valley and I thought it was a good test. I think when it was 1s vs. 1s, we were right there. I was happy. My outlook is optimistic.”

The Mustangs’ quest for another champion ship will certainly be filled with obstacles, as their schedule is a Murderers’ Row of powerful opponents including North regional champion East Orange Campus, North I, Group IV sec tional champion Northern Highlands and North II, Group V finalist Paterson Eastside. Each such adversary will be looking to knock off Clifton, who is looking to make its seventh playoff appearance in as many opportunities to do so (there were no playoffs in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic). With the champion’s mentality instilled by Cinque, the Mustangs are ready to meet the chal lenge

Sep 8 Passaic 4:30pm

From the front left seated: Cameron Zutic, Sebastian Perez, Giuseppe Rossi. Second row: Captain Danny Agudo, Aiden David, Jeremy Guillen, Gavin Gutshteyn, Cristian Rojano, Jomar Landa, Aaron Miller, Lucas Chen, Yared Sanchez. Third row: Abraham Ochoa, Edward Peralta, Mateusz Zarski, Vitalii Datsyk, Kyle Osbourne, Kerim Pesocan, Captain Dylan Perez, Kenny Linares, Maksym Kotsiaba, Axel Gonzalez, Emmanuel Alba. Fourth row: Ben Nelken, Christopher Reece, Lukas Ferrada, Alex Fiedoruk, Wiktor Kiszkiel, Captain Steven Ozga, Kamil Ozga, Omar Flores, Simon Deossa, Justin Leach.

“I think going into the season we always stress that defense wins championships,” Lembryk said. “As a team, we have to defend, and this group will set the tone.”

Sep 24 Wayne Valley 12pm Sep 28 @ JFK 4pm

Sep 22 @ Eastside 4:15pm


“It starts with the environment,” Lembryk explained. “Our coaching staff, we are all Clifton people. So the program is so dear to us. If you do the summer workouts and balance the younger kids inside the varsity group so they can see how the older kids act and set the tone, it comes together.”

On defense, the Mustangs return seniors Omar Flores and Lukas Fer rada (4 goals in 2021). They will also be boosted by the return of junior Christopher Reece, who missed a chunk of last season with a broken leg.

Junior Abraham Ochoa, a starter last season, will also be back, and junior Emmanuel Alba will provide valuable minutes off the bench.

Oct 3 @ Passaic 4:30pm

Oct 6 Bergen Tech 7pm Oct 11 @ PCTI 4:15pm Oct 13 @ Wayne Hills 4:15pm Oct 20 JFK 4:15pm

Last year’s team was young, but still reached the North I, Group IV semi finals. This season, the Mustangs will boast a big squad with great depth, as shown by the presence of their trio of skilled

Oct 1 Ridgewood 12pm

“They all have strengths, and what makes it a very good situa tion,” Lembryk said of the three goalies, “they compete. I think all three will give us time.”

Sep 15 @ Bergen Tech 4:15pm

Sep 13 @ Bergen Cath 4pm

Somehow, Stan Lembryk just never seems to have to rebuild the Clifton boys soccer team. Under his leadership, the Mustangs are a year-to-year con tender, seemingly always ready for the next crop of players to step up and carry on the program’s storied traditions.

Clifton will enjoy the return of senior Dylan Perez, one of the top attacking midfielders in North Jersey. An All-Passaic County and all-state player, Perez will be a fourth-year starter who was a part of the Mustangs’ 2019 Group IV championship team.

60 September 2022 •

lost to graduation, junior Cam Zu tic, senior Sebastian Perez and senior Giuseppe Rossi will, for now, be a committee. That should not suggest that any of the three wouldn’t be able to be an everygame starter.

Sep 20 PCTI 4:15pm


The group has the feel of one that should be right in the thick of the North I, Group IV race, blessed with the always-coveted balance of youthful exuberance and veteran leadership.

“I think the biggest thing this year for Dylan is grow ing from a smaller role to taking on a major role,” Lem bryk said. “He is the go-to guy now. Now, for sure, he’s theJuniorman.”Wiktor

Kiszkiel is also back, ready to take over the spot vacated by’s 2021 Big North Confer ence Player of the Year Peter Lynch, who is now playing for Montclair State University. Kiszkiel is a dedicated defender who can also play on the attack. Seniors Danny Ogudo and Kenny Linares and junior Alex Fiedoruk will all play big roles, as well. • September 2022 61

Offensively, senior Steven Ozga will be back after tallying four goals and eight assists last season. Senior Ben Nelkin (4 goals, 4 assists in 2021) will be looked upon to assume a greater scoring role, as will junior Vitali Datsyk, who will be the top reserve and also start from time to time.

The Mustangs have plenty of talent looking to make a mark, and more looking to cap brilliant careers with hardware.Staytuned.

Last season, the Clifton girls soccer team finished 9-8-1 and found itself out of the state tournament after just one round. Still, head coach Konrad Kruc zek believes the Mustangs are on the cusp of something significant, thanks to a battle-hardened roster led by some very capable scorers. “We play very competitive teams,” Kruczek pointed out. “The expecta tions are high, but when you look at who we play, they are all top teams. I think with the group we have, we should be able to do very well this sea son.”To perform the way Kruczek be lieves the Mustangs can, Clifton will need a big senior season from forward Layla Flores. Already committed to St. Francis College, Flores tallied 18 goals and 10 assists as a junior. “Layla is very comfortable with the ball,” Kruczek said. “She finishes with the right and left accurately. It is diffi cult to take the ball away from her and she is difficult to defend.”

She will be joined on the attack by senior Natalie De La Cruz (8 goals, 6 assists in 2021). De La Cruz is a tech

The midfield group also includes junior Carly Stoepker, a defensive midfielder who will be a third-year starter. Kruczek lauds Stoepker’s com posure and uncomplicated approach to the game. Junior Lylah Flores, ju nior Emma Dwornicki and sophomore Emilia Wilk complete the talented mid field unit. A strong junior group will com prise Clifton’s starting defense. Sierra Fisbeck, Amanda Presutto and Zayda Murphy will each start for the third consecutive year, giving Clifton experi ence and maturity in the back row of its 3-5-3Junioralignment.Leslie Surita Perez is back after a strong 2021 as goalkeeper, re bounding from an ACL surgery Kneeling from left: Lylah Flores, Zayda Murphy Emilia Wilk, Gianna Delgado, Leslie Surita Perez, Lillyan Martins, Jackeline Viz caino, Carly Stoepker, Meagan Valido. Standing: Natalie De La Cruz, Sierra Fisbeck, Amanda Presutto, Emma Dwornicki, Layla Flores, Natalie Leach, Nicole Acuna, Kayla Acuna, Zaina Aburomi. Coaches on the left: Michele Krzysik, Amanda Gryszkin and Konrad Kruczek. Coaches on the right: Nicole D’Ascoli and Steven Alvarado.

nical player who finishes well. She stood out last season despite missing several games.


Sep 8 @ Kearny 4pm Sep 10 Ramsey 12pm Sep 13 IHA 4pm Sep 15 Bergen Tech 4:30pm Sep 17 Union City 1pm Sep 20 @ PCTI 4:15pm Sep 22 Eastside 4:15pm Sep 24 @ Wayne Val. TBD Sep 29 Pequannock 4:15pm Oct 1 @ Ridgewood TBD Oct 3 Passaic 4:30pm Oct 4 Lyndhurst 4pm Oct 6 @ Bergen Tech 4:15pm Oct 11 PCTI 4:15pm Oct 13 Wayne Hills 4:15pm Oct 18 @ Verona 4pm Oct 20 Caldwell 4pm GIRLSMUSTANGSOCCERSPORTS 62 September 2022 •

Offensive midfielder Gianna Del gado, a junior, had 14 goals and nine assists of her own last season, and should build on her terrific sophomore campaign. A good distributor who isn’t afraid to go on the attack, she is poised for a breakout fall.


Kruczek is confident they can do just that. “They are getting more mature and experienced,” he said. “They’ve been there. There’s no reason they shouldn’t do well.”

Flores has been impressive in preseason action and figures to be more dominant thanks to increased strength.

“Lylah has been a key player since her freshman year,” Kruczek said. “Every time she gets the ball, she knows what she is going to do with it. This year, I believe it is going to be a very good year for her. She is more physical, and she has always had good technique.” Who joins Flores on the starting offense is yet to be de termined, but sophomore Nicole Acuna is a likely candidate, having obtained some varsity experience toward the end of last year. Sophomore Gianna Delgado will lead the midfield, a year after making an offensive impact with 10 goals. Delga do’s skill set meshes well with that of Flores, setting the stage for a potentially potent scoring duo.

right before her freshman year. Perez recorded 105 saves a year ago, and is a player to watch. The Mustangs have been work ing for the last several years to get to this point—as a program ready to show it belongs among the best in Passaic County.

Clifton’s top returning player on offense is junior Lylah Flores, who led the team in goals (17) and assists (12) last year.


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“They have to be ready for the task,” Rodriguez said of his team. “They have to keep it going. We understand that we may have some years off, but it doesn’t mean anything. We just need to go ball out.”

The same can be said of senior outside hitter Insharah Shakil, a transfer from Becton who had 109 digs and 65 service points for the Wildcats a year ago. Senior Soleil Feath, an outside and opposite side hitter, will play after not competing the past two.

Junior Ashley De Los Santos is a tall middle blocker who has shown significant improvement since being elevated from the junior varsity level. With a fast and fluid swing, she will be a player to keep an eye on this fall.

“It’s really good because some of the girls that were on varsity, they got to experience the winning environment,” Rodriguez said. “And even though we lost a lot of talented players, it just needs to be next girl up.”

The two primary returnees are seniors Mary Davey and Melanie Cam pos. Davey, a middle blocker, is a fourth-year player who has steadily im proved each year. She had a team-best 30 blocks last year and her experi ence has already been instrumental in helping develop some of the team’s younger front row players.

Last season was a good one for Clifton girls volleyball, as the Mustangs went 27-3 and reached both the Passaic County and North I, Group IV title games. Much of that team has graduated, but its success was a cultureestablishing happening that head coach Jorge Rodriguez hopes will carry over to 2022.

Sep 14 Bergen Tech 4:30pm Sep 16 @ Wayne Hills 4:15pm Sep 17 @ Wayne Valley TBD Sep 19 @ PCTI 4pm Sep 20 @ Caldwell 4pm Sep 21 Eastside 4:30pm Sep 23 @ Fair Lawn 4:15pm Sep 27 @ Columbia 4:15pm Sep 28 JFK 4:15pm Sep 30 @ Lakeland 4:15pm

From left front: Isabel Bertan, Melanie Campos, Lizbeth Lazaro, Angela Gon zales, Mikaella Francisco, Krishi Patel. Rear: Alyssa Pawlik, Insharah Shakil, Paraskevi Gerollari, Ashley De Los Santos, Mary Davey, Kiara Griner, Soleil Feath, Dahiann Ramirez, Allison Sproviero.

Oct 6 Verona 4:15pm Oct 7 @ Bergen Tech 4:15pm Oct 10 PCTI 4pm Oct 12 Ridgewood 4:15pm Oct 13 Fort Lee 4:15pm Oct 14 @Eastside 4pm Oct 17 @ JFK 4pm Oct 18 @ Bloomfield 4pm Oct 19 Wayne Valley 4:15p Oct 21 Paramus Catholic 4pm Oct 26 @ Chatham 4:15pm

66 September 2022 •


Campos, meanwhile, will play dual roles—as a setter and libero—in the Mustangs’ 6-2 formation. She will share some of those duties with talented freshman setter Mikaella Francisco, a natural volleyball player who has great form, technique and club experience.

Sep 8 @ Passaic 4:30pm Sep 10 TBA 9am Sep 12 DePaul 4pm

Oct 3 Passaic 4:30pm • September 2022 67

Oct 12 @


Chad Cole knows that 2022 will be a season of learning for his inexpe rienced squad. Luckily, his top player is like a second coach on the court.


Cllifton’s first and second doubles teams will likely feature some combina tion of seniors Lamees Abdallah, Fatima Elsadig and Me gan Jaramillo, as well as one or two freshmen who are likely to get court time. From left front: Lamees Abdallah, Lau ren Chirinos, Emily Orantes, Nasma Elsadig Back row: Megan Jaramillo, Lillian Eewshah, Jada Witter, Anias Jenkins (Captain), Fatima Elsadig. @ Passaic 4:30pm Eastside 4pm 12 @ JFK 4pm 14 @ PCTI 4pm 16 @ Bergen Tech 4pm 19 @ Paramus 4:15pm @ North Bergen 4pm @ DePaul 4pm @ Passaic 4:30pm @ Eastside 4pm @ JFK 4pm @ PCTI 4pm @ Bergen Tech 4pm West Milford 4:15pm Wayne Hills 4:15pm

“Her greatest importance to the team is that she helps teach all the other girls,” Cole said. “Just having the girls watch her drives them to be better players. The girls really excel when they see her involved and she really cares about the team.”


Jenkins had a terrific sophomore season, advancing several rounds in the state tournament and winning the Passaic County singles title. Power ful and consistent, she hits a hard ball nearly every attempt and puts pressure on her opponents. Stronger than ever, she will need to be patient to better set up her points.

Junior Jada Witter will play second singles, boasting strong ground strokes and a tremendous forehand. Relatively new to the game, she will have her work cut out for her against many of her more seasoned opponents, but figures to be a far more skilled competitor by late in the year.From there, the lineup is less certain, as senior Lauren Chirinos is currently playing the third singles slot. Chirinos is a skilled doubles player, though, and it remains to be seen where she will end up.

Sep 28


Oct 3

Sep 9 @

Sep 21

Sep 23

Oct 7


Oct 10


Junior first singles Anias Jenkins not only provides the Mustangs with valuable points nearly every match, but also gives her teammates an ex perienced peer to help them as they learn the sport on a deeper level.

Oct 14 @

Sep 30 • September 2022 69

Sophomore Hala Mohamad, is an other girls runner to watch, and has been impressive this preseason.

The boys—a 2021 sectional cham pionship team—will need to work hard to replace Heredia. Ettayebi is ready to assume the role of the Mustangs’ top runner and was a 4:28-miler last year.

Schimpf is a solid #2, and has run a 9:45 two-mile in the past. Sophomore Lamarr Olive is a runner to watch, a year after becoming the freshman county champion. Junior Pat rick Dubois and senior Josue Xochipa will both be expected to contribute, as well.

“We will be contenders and will improve as any team should,” Pontes said. “As long as our pack of runners is close, they can contend to win their league and perform well at the county meet.”

Front from left: Viktoria Green, Remy Dubac, Deborah Amoh, Isabella Latorre, Hala Mohamed, Denise Dubbels, and Olivia Green. Boys: Raphael Cabanilla, Brian Chi, Shivam Mehta, Jossue Xochipa-Villanueva, Muhammad Abedrabbo, Antonio Bordamonte, Declan Eineker, Harrison Schimpf, Lamar Olive, Alexandro Ralli, and Christian Cabanilla.

“To have somebody that good as the face of the girls team, I think it makes some of the kids know they have to per form,” Pontes said. “You don’t want to have a really good runner like Remy win so many races and have the rest fin ish near the back.” Dubac, a defending state group and sec tional champion, has the best-ever time at Garrett Moun tain for the girls—an impressive feat given the program’s history of top-flight runners like the Paz sisters, Cathy and Jacqueline, and Remy’s sister, Mia.

Sep 10 @ TBA 9am Sep 17 TBA 9am Sep 20 @ TBA 3:30pm Sep 24 @ TBA 9am Oct 1 @ TBA 9am Oct 3 @ TBA 3:30pm Oct 8 @ TBA 10am Oct 20 @ TBA 3pm Oct 22 TBA 9am Oct 29 @ TBA 10am Nov 5 @ TBA 10am Nov 13 @ TBA 10am CROSSMUSTANGCOUNTRYSPORTS 70 September 2022 •

“Viktoria really knew what we were going to ask of her and she’s really gotten better than she was as a sopho more,” Pontes remarked. “And we will need Emma to get healthy. If she does, we will be a formidable team.”

Clifton cross country may have lost one program legend to graduation, but the Mustangs can take solace in the fact that another is still on the roster.

Jacob Heredia—who long-time head coach John Pontes calls the greatest boys distance runner ever in Clifton—is now at George Washington University, leav ing the role of leader of the boys team to seniors Hisham Ettayebi and Harri son Schimpf. While Heredia’s departure represents a changing of the guard on the boys side, the girls still have junior Remy Dubac spearheading their efforts.

ment this offseason, which he attributes to her hard work and ability to stay healthy.Hersister, junior Emma Green, was a second team All-Passaic County and first team all-league honoree in 2021, but a stress fracture in her shin cost her the spring track season.

Junior Viktoria Green, a top-seven runner for the Mus tang girls last year, has impressed Pontes with her improve

The girls team won a division title last year and finished second in Passaic County. If they want to match and surpass those achievements, they will need big-time performances by their supporting cast. • September 2022 71

72 September 2022 •

Junior Angelina Lapczynski is a big reason why. An all-around gymnast, Lapczynski is particularly adept on bars, sporting excellent technique and effortless flow. “She just swings them so easily,” Glenn said. “It doesn’t mat ter what high-level skills you have if you don’t do them properly. Angie is clean and concise.”

From left: Sidney Beltran, Zeina Alshaikh, Annaliese Crespo, Amelia Proszowski, London Jenkins and Jaelyn Rivera. Miss ing is Angelina Lapczynski.

Glenn is realistic, saying the pro gram’s return to competitiveness will take time, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic’s toll. But for the first time in several seasons, the Mustangs are trending up.

Senior Amelia Proszowski, a fourth-year gymnast, will be another key member of the roster, competing all-around. Proszowski is skilled in the vault and has impressed Glenn with how quickly her skills are refreshed following the off season. Annaliese Crespo, another senior, will compete in vault, floor and beam. In just her second year in the sport, Crespo has exceeded expectations and is an enthusiastic athlete.

“I have been with Clifton for a long time now,” Glenn said, referring to her two stints as head coach and time as an assistant. “I’ve seen the high points to the polar oppo site. This year, it’s not a matter of whether we win or we don’t win. Would I like to win? Absolutely. But I tell the girls, it’s a matter of you being better than you were the meet before.”

Sep 13 Multi Schools 4:30pm Sep 15 @ Multi Schools 4:30pm Sep 20 Indian Hills 4:30pm Sep 29 @ West Milford 4:30pm Oct 4 Wayne Valley 4:30pm Oct 7 @ Wayne Hills 4:30pm Oct 12 @ West Milford 5pm Oct 14 Tenafly 5pm Oct 18 @ Wayne Hills 5pm Oct 22 @ TBA TBD GYMNASTICSMUSTANGSPORTS

Several sophomore Mustangs look to have what it takes to be the future of the program. Jaelyn Rivera is a driven all-around competitor whose energy has pleased her head coach. Melinda Tajerian did not compete last season, but hones her craft at a private club and should be a big addition. Sidney Bel tran has had an encouraging preseason.

There’s a tinge of excitement in the voice of Amy Glenn when she talks about the 2022 Clifton gymnastics team. In her second tenure as head coach, Glenn is looking to build from the ground up. That is never an easy task, but Glenn thinks the pieces are in place for a year of progress. • September 2022 73

Witnessing his father’s latest achievement was remarkable for Peter (CHS 1998).

“Being the team doctor, he would organize medical staff for the tournaments,” said Peter. “I remember when I trav eled with the team and competed in Venezuela, the amount of injuries they had to deal with were significant.”

One of Peter Scordilis’ greatest childhood and lifelong lessons is: Never give up on a goal. It was taught early to him and his siblings by their father, Dr. George Scordilis, who reminded the family ear ly this year just how far perseverance can take you.

74 September 2022 •

Kaloudis opened the Academy of Koei-Kan Karate, still at 304 Clifton Ave., which is where George trained as a teenager. It’s also where George met his eventual wife, Joanne Ligosh (CHS 1969). The couple wed June 8, 1974. When Peter was in middle school, George started work ing with the USA National Karate-do Federation. At that point, George was no longer competing and was focused on his role as president, involved on the administrative and coaching levels. He also owned the since sold Clifton ka rate school and one in Caldwell.

By Ariana Puzzo

“It was amazing,” said Peter, 41. “Seeing his lifelong passion honored was huge. It’s a big deal after all the time and work that he put into it.” George is originally from Queens and became inter ested in the Martial Arts and karate at age 10. He trained with his cousin and eventual instructor Ed Kaloudis, who had lived and trained previously in Japan for two years.

George, 70, (in a classic photo adjusting an op ponent) was inducted on March 26 into the USA Unified Martial Arts Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Eatontown.George,who has had an active chiropractic practice in Clifton since 1978, was honored for his national and international service to the USA team as a pioneer of karate and as a team doctor.

Mind, Body, and Family

“There were concrete floors and tin roofs,” continued Peter. “There were fractures due to people landing on the ground wrong [and there was] heat exhaustion.”

Peter began his own training at age 9. He got the chance to travel around the country and compete in Venezuela, as well as Greece. “It was a big family thing,” said Peter. “Ev ery Thursday night, we would drive in the car together and train together at the karate school. Then we’d get dinner together and hang out.”

“The biggest thing with Dad is, when he gets passion ate – he puts his mind, body, and soul into it,” said Peter. “That’s what he’s done for all of these years.”

“Every Saturday morning as a teenager, there would be kids classes and I would teach the kids with Dad,” add

From left, Dean Scordilis and wife Elainey, Patrick Clayton, George Scordi lis, Joanne Scordilis, Leo Scordilis, Peter Scordilis, Kristin Scordilis. Front, Alex andra (Scordilis) Clayton, Silas Clayton, Trinity Borys, George Clayton, Lyra Scordilis, Ella Scordilis, Alaina Scordilis with her boys and cousin Ed Kaloudis. • September 2022 75

ed Peter. He and three siblings all trained, and he and his two sisters reached black belt level. George is currently a 7th degree black belt in Koei-Kan Karate Do. Although Peter no longer trains, he does triathlons and regularly runs, bikes, and swims. Peter has earned the title of first place in his age group for three years in a row.“I was a very uncoordinated little kid. Martial Arts really taught me coordination,” said Peter. “If I hadn’t had those lessons from my dad, I don’t think I’d have been able to persevere and make the starting football team [at CHS] or do triathlons.”

Freeman has held onto that tradition over the past seven de cades. She recalled how during her childhood, the other chil dren on the block would come and sit around her father to lis ten as he told them stories with all types of sound effects. To day, the multi-award-winning author’s debut children’s book, Cool Kids, was published by Mascot Books on Oct. 5, 2021.

“Bullying is a very important topic,” said Freeman. “Most children face bullying some time in their lives, and they may be reluctant to talk to their parents about it.”

Freeman, who lives in Woodland Park, is a mother of two and grandmother of three. She hopes to do more book signings in the future and participated in a panel discus sion at the Passaic County Book Festival on June 4 in Weasel Brook Park.

Despite being her first chil dren’s book, it isn’t Freeman’s first professional connection to kids. Her first career was as a third grade school teacher in the Passaic School System. Later, she became licensed as a real estate broker and appraiser. She opened the real estate company, Prime Realty, with a partner. After 35 years, they sold to Coldwell Banker, where she still works. Although tech nically in her third act, Freeman has no plans of slowing down.

“I’m very proud and humble. I can’t believe it’s taken off like this,” said Freeman in May. “I applied to the Mi ami Book Fair, and I’m waiting to hear about it because that’s“Writinggigantic.”this book was something that I wanted to do on my bucket list,” she continued. “It was a labor of love.”

76 September 2022 •

“Storytelling is a great way to get kids to sit together and listen,” said Freeman, 81, “and my father was a great storytell er.”

Another reason why she’s connected to the story and characters is because she named them after her loved ones. Freeman’s biggest hope for the Amazon Bestseller is it starts a dialogue between parents and their children.

One of the earliest lessons that Arlene Freeman’s father taught her is the value of storytelling.

Freeman dedicated Cool Kids to her father, Harry Minsky, whose character Ruffy Butchbang inspired Free man’s story. She also dedicated the book in memory of her brother, Sam, who “wanted to be a cartoonist and illustra tor but never had the opportunity to follow his dream.”

“I can’t tell you how many people and friends congratu lated me for doing this at this juncture of life,” said Free man. “I still work and don’t think of myself as at the end of life. I think of myself as still going strong.”

Generations of Storytelling

By Ariana Puzzo

From top left: Edward Charles Murphy, Kyung “Kaccy” Cho., Grazioso brothers Timothy and John, Ehtesham U. Raja. Second row: Edgar H. Emery, John P. Skala, Zuhtu Ibis, Francis Joseph Trombino, Richard David Rosenthal. Clifton’s 9/11 service is on Sept. 9 at 9 am at the memorial in front of City Hall. The quiet service recalls Cliftonites who died that day: Zuhtu Ibis, Kyung Cho, Francis Joseph Trombino, Richard David Rosenthal, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority Officer John Skala, as well as brothers John and Tim Grazioso.

The Avenue of Flags depends upon donations and volunteers to pres ent 2,237 displays of patriotism. Each flag represents a Cliftonite who served in the military, both during war and in peace. Flags are displayed on the grounds of City Hall for pa triotic days. The next is Patriot Day, Sept. 11, followed by Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Volunteer to help set up flags at dawn or break them down at dusk. Call Keith Oakley to purchase a flag or to volunteer at 201-774-6666. • September 2022 77


Clifton Rec Supervisor Debbie Oliver views the proj ects as “awesome” additions to the city.“It was a longtime dream of mine,” said Oliver. Castro first joined the scouts eight years ago. He said he initially got involved with the libraries project when Oliver pitched the idea.

“I wanted to spread the love of reading, encourage kids to read, [and] make others aware [of] why it is important to read, especially at a young age,” said Calvi.

“My goal was to reach kids that didn’t read books,” she continued. “I am happy to say that I was able to get many kids interested in reading at my event — another part of my overall project — and [learning] about different book genres.”

MINI-LIBRARIES 78 September 2022 •

“I knew that it would help young kids and adults obtain books to read [in] the parks,” said Castro. Castro attended PCTI for four years and studied engi neering. He now attends Penn State, majoring in mechan ical engineering. He eventually plans to pursue a master’s degree.Calvi joined the Girl Scouts when she was in kinder garten. She is a member of Troop 95322 and holds an am bassador rank. She is a junior in PCTI’s Diana C. Lobosco STEM Academy and is undecided about her future plans, although she said she may pursue a civil engineering or business degree. For assisting her with her project, the junior credited Gloria Abero, the head of the Children’s Department in Main Memorial Library, and Heather Nilsen, who she said guided her with her project along with the Rec De partment.

The stories we love most live in us forever, and that’s exactly what two Clifton kids helped create this summer with their Little Libraries in the Parks.

Brian Castro, 18, and Maria Calvi, 16, created a total of 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.

An important message from the Clifton Health Department: Effective July 22, 2022, New Jersey P.L.2021, Chapter 182 requires all rental dwellings to be inspected for lead hazards. This law requires municipalities to perform inspections of single-family, two-family, and multiple rental dwelling units constructed before 1978 for lead-based paint hazards. This law allows an owner/landlord to directly hire either a certified lead evaluator contractor, or the City of Clifton Health Department (CHD). Please contact the Clifton Health Department to schedule an appointment or to advise if you will be contacting a third-party contractor email If your rental dwelling unit already has a lead -free certificate, you must forward a copy of the certificate to (Fee of $25.00 required) A list of approved Certified Lead Evaluation Contractors may be found

Randy Accardi (center) is the director of the Theater League of Clifton’s Halloween-themed dinner/theater musical “Witches and Warlocks.” John Traier (left) and Jalmari Vanamo are co-producers. Auditions are Sept. 6 and 7, 7-9 pm, at the Clifton Elks Lodge, 775 Clifton Ave. Call backs are Sept. 7 from 9-10 pm. The cast will include eight young women, four mature women, and eight men. Actors must be able to sing and perform theatrical stage movements. Visit for info. Catered by the Paulison Ave. ShopRite, performances are at the Clifton Elks Lodge on Oct. 22 at 7:30 pm and Oct. 30 at 2 pm. • September 2022 79

The Clifton Garden Club’s next meeting is Sept. 12 from 7-8:30 pm at the Main Memorial Library. The speaker is Janet Schulz, a Bergen County Master Gardener and a commentator on Home Time Cable TV. Her free presenta tion is entitled, “There’s more to Spring Bulbs than Daf fodils and Tulips.” Call Donna Fantacone at 973-473-0577. The community of St. Brendan and St. George host a Food Truck Festival on Oct. 15 from noon to 6 pm at the corner of Lakeview Ave. and East First St. Admission is $2 for ages 3 and up. Enjoy food trucks, vendors, and amusements for the whole family. The rain date is Oct. 22. For more info, call Judith at 973-772-5081. Clifton Cares is September’s beneficiary of the Stop & Shop Community Bag Program. Store leadership at 1189 Broad St. selected the group to receive a $1 dona tion every time the $2.50 reusable Community Bag is purchased during September. Clifton Cares is a nonprofit founded in 2010 that sends packages with cookies, candy, beef jerky, and toiletries to Ameica’s military. Visit Clif ton Cares on Facebook for more info. For more details, visit


Swingman and the Misfit Mutts and the Marching Mustangs perform at the Van Houten Ave Street Fair on Sept. 18.

The Van Houten Avenue Street Fair returns to Athenia on Sept. 18 at 11 am with vendors, crafts, and food for the entire family. The event stretches Van Houten Ave. from Spencer Ave. to Marconi St. Swingman and the Mis fit Mutts Band and a fast-moving musical performance by the CHS Mustang Marching Band will be among the live entertainment. Roy Garretson of Shook Funeral Home is coordinating the Classic Car Show with sign-in and regis tration at 9 am. Email or call Roy at 973-471-9620. The Athenia Vets will sponsor a Beer/Wine Garden. To be a sponsor or a vendor, call Laurie at 973-202-8578 or Chris at 201-410-1686. The Food Truck, Music and Art Festival is Sept. 4 from 11 am to 7 pm at the City Hall campus. Proceeds benefit the Clifton Veterans Committee (Veterans Day Parade) and Art in the Park. There will be activities, live music, food trucks and art as well as crafts for kids. Admission is $5 and toddlers are free. Park at CHS, 333 Colfax Ave. For info, email

St. Philip’s Players is seeking performers for their orig inal but yet unannounced musical revue, set to debut Nov. 18 and 19. The theme is “celebration” and those interest ed should be representative of a diverse ethnic and racial background with strong vocals. Clifton’s theatre group is looking for candidates to move well and project dra matic and comedic qualities onstage. Email credentials to Auditions are by appoint ment; candidates will receive a reply with a date and time.

Don’t forget: The 9th Annual Boys & Girls Club Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show is on Sept. 11 and has a new location: 1255 Broad St. Free spectator admission, there is a $20 fee to display a vehicle, any make, model or year. Over 75 trophies will be from Best in Show to Best Paint. Judging ends at noon but the party goes on all day. Enjoy music, enjoy food and while you meet old friends. Contact Chris Street at 973-773-0966 x155 or email for info.

THINGS TO DO 80 September 2022 •


The Clifton Arts Center presents “The Art of Living Together by Peace Islands Institute in collaboration with the Turkish Cultural Center of New Jersey from Sept. 21 to Oct. 29. On Sept. 24 from 1 to 4 pm there will be a Community Art Day for the public to see and meet the artists and a light reception. The exhibit’s visiting days are Wednesdays through Saturdays 1 to 4 pm. The CAC is on the Clifton Municipal Complex, near the Well Water on Well Road. Info at, on Facebook, on Instagram or call 973-472-5499. • September 2022 81



About 500 turned out to show their support for Ukraine’s 31st year of Independence on the Great Lawn of city hall on Aug. 24. With musi cal interludes, presentation by children and brief speeches, it was a celebration of the end of Soviet rule, in 1991, of Ukraine. But this Independence Day took place six months to the day after Rus sian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops over the border. Thousands of people have been killed, millions have fled their homes, and Ukrainian cit ies have been laid waste by bombardments. But the day also reaffirmed Ukrainians’ resolve and Western support for their struggle. That sup port was made clear by speakers and in the songs sung by school children and their elders.

82 September 2022 • • September 2022 83

UKRAINE’S INDEPENDENCE 84 September 2022 •

School Nurses (NJ Certification) Registered Nurses ESL Teachers (NJ Certification) Special Education Teachers (NJ Certification) Preschool Special Education Teachers (NJ Certification) Board Certified Behavior Analyst for Preschool Teacher of Mathematics (NJ Certification) Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals for Preschool Paraprofessionals Substitute Teachers Substitute Paraprofessionals C l i f t o n P u b l i c S c h o o l s Clifton Public Schools 745 Clifton Avenue Clifton, NJ 07013 Phone: 973 594 4195 E mail: hr@cliftonschools net Employment Opportunities The Clifton Public School District is currently accepting applications for the following positions: A p p l y t o d a y a t h t t p s : / / w w w . a p p l i t r a c k . c o m / c l i f t o n s c h o o l s / Lunch Aides and Kindergarten Aides • September 2022 85

The Clifton Republican Club do nated 45 backpacks and supplies for school kids to St. Philip the Apostle School on Aug. 30. Pre senting the backpacks are Clifton Council candidate Tafari Ander son, Principal Danielle Gonzalez, Pastor and Rev. David Montele one, Board of Education candidate Mark Brunciak and Clifton Repub lican Chair Bob Calcagno.

On July 6, Clifton Girls Softball earned its first 10u title when they beat Lakeland 3-2 at Back Beach Park Wa naque. Players, from left, Mia McIninch, Sophia Cruz, Allie Gonzalvo, Olivia Jovicic, Abby Kelley, Gabby Fusco, Kylee Ocasio, Hailey Ibanez, Natalie Garcia, Valerie Za pata, Violet Pilkin, Mia Fer nandez, Gianna Genova, Ruby Peña. Coaches Chris Genova, Jose Cruz, and Kacey Duva. Performing the acclaimed script formation is a big deal for generations of Marching Mustangs. CHS 2017 grad Michael Troller is taking it a step further this month. On Sept. 10, Troller will have the honor of dotting the “I” before some 100,000 spectators as part of the Ohio State Marching Band. The honor is reserved for a fourthor fifth-year sousaphone player. Troller played the sousaphone (that’s him at right) for four years at CHS, and he earned his spot in The Best Damn Band In The Land in Fall of 2019. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in 2021 and will now complete his final goal in the pres ence of family, friends, and his former Mustang Band Directors. “The Mrs. and I are thrilled to go out to Ohio to see Mike Troller dot the “I” in Script Ohio,” said Marching Mustang Band Director Bryan Stepneski. “It is very special that (former long-time Band Director) Bob Morgan and I both got to have Mike as a student and performer and that we will both be there in Ohio to cheer him on.”

DOT THE “I” IN SCRIPT OHIO 86 September 2022 •

Tales of the salem witch Hunt A devilishly Delightful Musical October 22nd at 7:30pm October 30th at 2:00pm Clifton Elks Lodge 775 Clifton Ave. Clifton, NJ Tickets $45 973-928-7668Tickets on Sale Sept 18th • September 2022 87

Stacey Corbo....................9/16 Mav LynneSaraLouisRickieJamesMickeyGloriaDanielDawnAmandaKathleenCindyJaclynJoeNancyCubero.....................9/16AnnEadie...............9/16Genchi.......................9/16Scotto.....................9/16Murcko...................9/17Gorman..............9/18Meneghin............9/18Smolt......................9/18Smith......................9/18Turba......................9/18Garrigan...............9/19Graham.................9/19Ojeda.....................9/19DeLeon.....................9/20Gretina.....................9/21Lonison....................9/21

Send dates & tomhawrylkosr@gmail.comnames... 88 September 2022 •

Emily Kasa Peterson daughter of Joe Peterson (CHS ‘06) and Erin O’Neill Peterson turned 2 on Sept. 1. Her

cousin Maxwell Yoda turns 5 on Sept. 30. John and Debbie Tauber, Clifton’s Animal Control couple, celebrate their 44th anniversary on Sept. 2nd. Deb’s birthday is Sept. 3rd. Stu and Joanne Palfreyman celebrate their 56th year anniversary on Sept 11.

Birthdays & Celebrations - September 2022 Michael Capwell.................9/1 Allison Di Angelo................9/2 Liam Robert Martin..............9/2 Bill ShannonHelenDarrenAnaMohammedChristyLindaEricJosephNatashaSharonJenniferDaveFederowic......................9/3Gabel........................9/3Martin....................9/3Holster.....................9/4Mendoza..............9/4Shackil.....................9/4Wahad.........................9/4Ayers.........................9/5Gordon....................9/5Othman............9/5Stojanovski...................9/6Kester.......................9/7Albano......................9/8Carroll..................9/8 Liz HagarMannyEmilyAnthonySarahThomasWayneLeeAndrewAndrewRonnieDoloresNicoleGeorgeAnnamarieGeoffTresca............................9/8Goodell.....................9/9Priolo.................9/9Andrikanich...........9/10Moore....................9/10Wyka...................9/10Courtney................9/11Orr......................9/11Shackil.................9/11AnnDoremus..............9/12Funke....................9/12Wayne..................9/13Bielen.....................9/14Dorski..................9/14Duchnowski..............9/15Monzo...................9/15Ibrahim...................9/16

Evelyn Simpson turns 6 Sept. 3. Elena Rose Latiano will be 18 on Sept. 7. Nick Hawrylko who will be 27 on Sept. 12, is seen sharing face time with his niece, and Eddie and Casey Bivaletz’s daughter Lyla. Eddie Bivaletz will be 34 on Sept. 8. Wearing shades, Jarah Tamayo turned 13 on Sept. 1.

New mom Lauren (Hrina) Meade, holding Anthony Michael, turns 30 on Sept. 30. Her husband Kevin, holding Barkley, and Lauren, both graduated CHS in 2010. Greg & Margaret Nysk celebrate 22 years of marriage Sept. 17. Annamaria Menconi..........9/21 Peter RyanLaurenMaryThomasBarbaraKennethRichardSaverioCoreyWilliamDonatoDeannaPamBrianBrianKeithTimothyRyanBeverlyValerieSkoutelakis................9/21Carestia................9/22Duffy.....................9/22Gorny......................9/22St.Clair................9/22Myers......................9/23Salonga...................9/23Engel.......................9/23Bielen.......................9/25Cristantiello..........9/25Murolo..................9/25Wishard................9/26Genardi.................9/26Greco..................9/26VanBlarcom.........9/26Chipura...............9/28Mascola..............9/29E.Moore...............9/29Perzely.....................9/29Hrina.....................9/30Lill............................9/30 • September 2022 89 90 September 2022 •

The annual John Samra Memorial 5K Run & 1 Mile Family Fun Run/Walk 8:30 am on Sept . 25. Officer Samra is the first Clifton Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty on Nov. 21,2003, since the agency was created in 1920. The event kicks off and finish es at City Hall, at 900 Clifton Ave. Awards and categories include: Top three male and female overall and top three male and female in each age group. A 50/50 Raffle and refreshments will be presented after the race. Early 5K reg istration is $30 and early 1M Family Walk is $10 per applicant if postmarked by Sept. 19.

The late Fred Torres with his wife Ana. The 9th Annual Fred Torres Memorial 5K is Sunday, Oct. 9 at Garret Mountain in Wood land Park. The 5K Trail Run begins at 9:30 am and all proceeds benefit the Fred Torres Me morial Fund. The Tots Trot for kids age six and under begins at 10:30 am. Following the event are awards and raffle drawings, along with a post-race get-together at Thatcher McGhee’s, 31 Passaic Ave. in Fairfield. The 5K registra tion fee is $30 through Sept. 6 and $35 after wards. Students aged 18 and under will receive a $5 discount. For more info or to register, visit Late 5K registration is $35 and late 1M registration is $15. Race day registration begins at 7 am. To register early or direct ly contact organizers with questions,



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