Clifton Merchant Magazine - January 2019

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From the


Over the next six months, the biggest issue facing our community will be the hiring of a new superintendent of schools - Tom Hawrylko, Editor & Publisher

On the following 44 pages, we present a Clifton almanac­—a retrospective of 2018 in photos of people and events. As you browse through the “Year in Review,” perhaps you’ll ask the same question we did during the past month—where did the time go? We culled through hundreds of photos and stories to make our selections and present our edited version of the 2018 milestones, along with mourning the passing of some friends and neighbors. Looking ahead to 2019, our next focus is on Jan. 2 when two new Clifton City Council members take the oath of office along with the five incumbents who won reelection to four-year terms. Rosemary Pino and Mary Sadrakula are among the six “People To Watch” (starting on page 53) we cited for the potential they offer to help lead our city in the coming years. On Jan. 9, Clifton Board of Education commissioners will interview candidates who submitted resumes and are interested in completing the 16 months of Pino’s remaining term. The eight current BOE members will vote in private to make their selection.

After holding BOE elections in November for the past five years, the board election returns to April in 2019. The three-year terms of Jim Daly, Tafari Anderson and Tony Grasso will be contested. As part of the move, voters will again vote on the school budget. During the next six months, the biggest issue facing our community will be the hiring of a new superintendent of schools. Richard Tardalo has been the school chief for 10 years, managing a budget of $176 million with 1,700 employees, and serving 12,000 students. His annual salary is around $204,000. Tardalo is only the fifth school chief in the 105-year history of the Clifton School District. He came to the district in 2006 as CHS principal and was named superintendent July 1, 2008. The BOE has engaged the New Jersey School Boards Association to conduct the search for Tardalo’s replacement and expects to hire an individual who has experience guiding a larger district. With 2019 underway, it is clear the Clifton Board of Education commissioners will be making major decisions during the coming months. Happy 2019 everyone! 16,000 Magazines

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

Social Media Mgr. Ariana Puzzo • January 2019



The Marching Mustangs captured Canada’s heart during its Feb. 8-12 trip to perform at the Carnaval de Quebec. During the March 16 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newark, Clifton’s Josie (Logue) Tully was the deputy grand marshal and her sister Eileen (Logue) Landers was the chief of staff. They are seen with Cardinal Joseph Tobin. CHS biology teacher got “pied” from student Nicholas Bran as part of the Feb. 2 “Pie in the Face” contest sponsored by the Key Club. January 2019 •

At left, the 2018 Next Gen of Clifton leaders: Ahmad Hamdeh, Daron Vasquez, Nick Surgent and Theresa Bivaletz; above, the crew at Clifton IHOP’s 2018 National Pancake Day to benefit Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals; below, the Mechanical Mustangs compete nationwide. • January 2019


Clifton’s dog owners took advantage of a free rabies vaccine Nov. 28. Avenue of Flags advocate John Biegel, Jr., 83, who passed March 22, and Bishop Frank Rodimer, who died on Dec. 6. Longtime Recycling Coordinator Al DuBois (in red), who retired in late 2018, helped Clifton win a $20,000 Green Streets grant from TD Bank to plant 50 trees. Inductees to the 2018 Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame and their supporters pictured below.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Selling your car, whether through a newspaper or online through a website like Craig’s List is a process loaded with pitfalls. Once your phone and address is “out there,” who is going to show up at your home? Selling your car privately is a hassle and it takes a lot of time and energy to complete the sale.


January 2019 •

Plus you’ll need to be ready to answer numerous phone calls at any time, even late at night. Many of these potential buyers just waste your time and never show up. For those that do show, you’ll have to deal with test drives, tire kickers, low-ballers, negotiations and weirdos. Instead sell your car to Fette, a name you trust.

Trust the Fette Auto Group when selling a car. Since its founding in 1952 by the late Henry Fette and now run by his grandson, John, Fette makes the process secure and easy. Either go to or visit the showroom and tell us the details about your car like year, make, model, mileage and condition.

Sales Manager Chris Ciresi or one of his team will make an appointment to inspect the car and make an instant offer. Be sure to bring all the necessary documentation. You’ll instantly receive a check for your car. The team at Fette makes the car-selling process safe, easy and hassle free.

Many sellers are legitimately concerned about strangers coming to test drive the vehicle at their home. • January 2019


Weichert’s 2017 Manager of the Year Tony Sanchez and Dr. Tanuja Damani, Director of St. Joseph’s Robotic Surgery Division.

A Medical School and More Rises

Jan 2018

January 2018 brought a new year and new optimism for Clifton as we profiled the coming Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University at the former Hoffman LaRoche site (as well as its dean, Dr. Bonita Stanton) and other businesses to follow. Trumpet player Ralph Davella showed us to never give up on a dream, and four “Up & Comers,” Ahmad Hamdeh, Daron Vasquez, Nick Surgent and Theresa Bivaletz, told their stories. The January “Student of the Month,” freshman Sebastian Rodriguez, showed off his creative prowess.

in review

Ralph Davella at left; right, the 2018 Relay for Life kickoff (the 2019 kickoff is Feb. 10). Lower left: Hoffman LaRoche’s Dr. Leo Sternbach; CHS Key Club members kindness campaign; and the NJEDDA Elementary School Olympic games.


January 2019 • • January 2019


The Clifton Arts Center began a year-long renovation in March of 2018.

Miracles and Love Abound Here

Feb 2018

February was a month for love and miracles. We presented the inspiring story of Michael and Amanda DeVita and baby daughter Sloan Rose, and rhapsodized about the magical romances of city residents of every generation. We told the story of Clifton’s Revolutionary War hero John H. Post and the Acquackanonk Bridge, and paid tribute to late Clifton jazz legend Marlene VerPlank, a singer who performed with Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. We also featured the art of Amanda Stetz, our February “Student of the Month.”

in review

Greg and Karen Lake, Patrick and Diane Lake, and Dan and Anne Neczepir (center); Marlene VerPlank (lower left), the self portrait of CHS senior Amanda Stetz (lower center); and Christina Temnycky, Maria Bakalec, and Paul, Daria and Orest Temnycky (lower right).


January 2019 •

MaryAnn and Harry Haring in front of MaryAnn’s Deli on Clifton Ave. which they operated until their retirement in March 2018. They are also pictured at rop right in a recent photo. Bottom left, Bob and Cathy Ventimiglia today and the young Mustangs back in the 1970s. Michael and Amanda DeVita with their miracle baby Sloan Rose. • January 2019


Clifton History on Stage and Screen



March brought one of our most popular issues ever as “Clifton Goes to the Movies,” featuring stories about hometown performers and the city’s contribution to the stage and screen (As Time Goes By from the movie Casablanca was written here). We also featured stories about the Silk City Distillers and the peppers and passion of Nick Pallotta. We learned our USA Olympic athletes kept warm in jackets crafted in Clifton by the DiBattista family, and marched along with our beloved Clifton High Marching Mustangs Band as they performed in Canada.

in review

Top of page, Billy “Kilroy” Ramuth (left), Nina Arianda (center) and Jon Seda (right); Jayne Modean (top left), Frankie Randall, David Packer, Michael Pollard, The Clifton Theatre in 1953. Below, Sophia Black.


January 2019 • • January 2019




in review

Top left, at Silk City Distillers, Jim, (dad) Joe and Jim Bednar (center); above, Jennifer Pallotta making hot sauce; at left, Jensen, Horacio and Martin DiBattista made parkas for the USA athletes for the 2018 Olympics.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Gloria Tramontin Struck and Fr. Richard Rento.

Running Mustangs Lead the Way



In April, we met determined and talented runner Kevin Heredia as he capped his outstanding CHS career. We also learned about city native Father Richard Rento’s life and book, It’s Not Necessarily So, and took a ride with one of the legends of motorcycling, Clifton’s Gloria Tramontin Struck in her book, Gloria. More good news came when Clifton became one of 10 cities to earn a $20,000 TD Bank grant to reforest three city parks. And we marched with Deputy Grand Marshall Josie (Logue) Tully at Newark’s 83rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

in review


January 2019 •

Above, School 12 patrols, principal Maria Parham-Talley with Clifton’s shade tree crew reforesting Hird Park. On facing page, mid left, the Hot Grill owners Carmen La Mendola (left) with his daughter Cristina and partner Domenick Sportelli; (center) CHS Mustangs Enam Thompson, Payal Rana, Kevin Scorziello and Angela Kliks; (center bottom) Jailyn Brown, Derek Szuba, Gianna Casillas and Mike Algieri. Lower left of page, that’s Clifton Hardware & Paint Supply’s Glenn Rossi (left) and Steve Davies. Bottom of page, the history of the CHS Madrigals was recapped with a note on their trip to Stonehenge and performance on the BBC Radio Network in 1976. • January 2019


Author Bert Nelson who we profiled after writing his book Maddoc. At right, the DPW’s Keith Huntley.

Stories of Working Class Heroes



In May, Clifton celebrated the glory and dignity of work. We met the U.S. Navy’s Dean DeGhetto Jr. and traveled with him from St. Brendan’s School to all ports of call. Also in May, we heard about the seafaring tales of Jon Lotz, the courage of the DPW’s Keith Huntley and the hardworking saga of baker Armando Sotambo. We followed the Mechanical Mustrangs through their robotics competitions, and took a ride with the CHS Auto Shop and their plans for the future. As we do each May, we paid tribute to our fallen Clifton military heroes.

in review

Merchant Marine Jon Lotz; perfumer John Gamba; and Pastor Jeff Miller of First Lutheran Church (which marks its 125th year). At right, singer Kim Latiano. Below, David, dad Dean Sr., and Dean DeGhetto Jr.; Clifton cake boss Armando Sotambo (arms folded) of Lakeview Bakery.


January 2019 • • January 2019


2018 2018 Senior Senior Survey Survey

Who Who was was your your grea grea

Vincent Robles and Sejla Feratoska were among the hundreds of 2018 grads seen in our June magazine.

Vincent Robles, Robles,to Sejla Sejla Feratoska, Feratoska, Isaid Isaid Grande, Grande, Emma Emma Floyd, Floyd, Ariella Ariella M GraduatesVincent Promise Achieve


Kristen Kristen Mawker: Mawker: The The end end of of the the Gabriela Gabriela Carrillo: Carrillo: My My parents. parents. II In June, of 2018 day day bell. bell. we featured the graduates make make sure sure to to always always succeed succeed and stories of Clifton’s outstanding high school because II am am the the first first generation generation Matthew Matthew Gould: Gould: Mr. Mr. Tuosto. Tuosto. Chris Chris because students. We met running man Max Dubac, fucollege. college. going going to to was was my my greatest greatest influence. influence. He He was was ture nurse Gia Genardi and the Clifton Boys & Peter Bialkowski: Bialkowski: My My mom, mom, Ann Ann my my physical physical education education teacher teacher from from Peter Girl’s Club’s “Youth of the Year” Sharita SimpMarie. She’s She’s driven driven and and generous. generous. II grade grade 66 to to grade grade 12. 12. He He always always Marie. son. We also heard from enterprising Malcolm Young, songstress want to to be be able able to to live live up up to to her. her. encouraged encouraged me me to to never never give give up up on on want Faith Popowich, musician Ethan DeRose-Travia and Mustang anything. anything. Justin Justin Mercogliano: My My father father majorette Mackenzie Miller. Also in June, weMercogliano: lauded Clifton’s taught taught me me to to be be a a respectful respectful young young Kiara Kiara Bedoya: Bedoya: My My grandma grandma three-decade old “Adopt a Spot” program, and enjoyed the imman manfamilies. and and kept kept me me focused. focused. always always works works hard. hard. No matter how how probable reunion ofNo thematter Duty and Andruch much much II put put myself myself down, down, she she pushpush- Ariella Ariella Morrison: Morrison: My My mother mother es es me me back back in in the the right right direction. direction. Paulette Paulette Dias. Dias. II get get most most of of my my attended character character traits traits from from her. her. She’s She’s Eric Eric Sandberg: Sandberg: My My father father attended college college in in his his 50s 50s while while juggling juggling strong, strong, loving, loving, and and never never gives gives up up work work and and still still managing managing to to make make itit on on the the things things she she believes believes in. in. to to every every one one of of my my games. games. Angel Angel Ordonez: Ordonez: My My cheer cheer team. team.


in review

have the the Without Without them them II wouldn’t wouldn’t have drive drive and and passion passion for for everything everything II do. do. They They make make me me want want to to succeed succeed and and make make something something of of myself. myself. m Kevin Kevin Wagner: Wagner: My My parents parents immiimmigrated grated to to the the United United States States from from the the Dominican Dominican Republic. Republic. They They worked worked hard hard to toLucille ensure ensureKirk, that that my my brothers brothers and and Above left, 50 years of Boy Scouting history came to an end June 19 when leaders William Martin, Alice I I got got the the education education we we deserved. deserved. II Teresa Teresa Arola: Arola: Definitely Definitely my my mothmothHener and Loretta Friedman folded Troop 15’s colors a final time. Affiliated with St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for for them, them, believe believe they achieved achieved their their goal. goal. er and and father. IfIf itit wasn’t wasn’t at 810 Broad St. Clifton, the leaders certainly lived er up to thefather. Scout Oath: “... to help other people at all they times ...” II wouldn’t wouldn’t be be where where II am. am. Sarah Sarah Hejab: Hejab: My My greatest greatest influinfluJan Jan Maciejewski: Maciejewski: Arnold Arnold Schwarzenegger Schwarzenegger -- an an Austrian Austrian American American who who has has been been an an actor, actor, filmmaker, filmmaker, businessman, businessman, investor, investor, author, author, philanthropist, philanthropist, activist, activist, politician, politician, and and professional professional bodybodybuilder. builder. He He has has done done itit all all and and still still strives strives for for more. more.

Stanislava Stancheva and Celine Bennion

Brenda Brenda Zamora: Zamora: Mr. Mr. McGunney, McGunney, ence isis my my older older brother brother for for helping helping Malcolm Young ence and and my my father father for for everything everything he he me me get get into into PCTI. PCTI. with Brealyn Vasquez does does so so we we have have aa good good future. future. Ms. Sauchelli. Sauchelli. Kayla Kayla Guaman: Guaman: Ms. Max Dubac Emma Emma Floyd: Floyd: My My grandfather! grandfather! Eddel Eddel Sanchez: Sanchez: My My greatest greatest influinfluJanice Janice Owusu: Owusu: Probably Probably Mr. Mr. Rogers. Rogers. He’s He’s helped helped me me open open my my mind mind and and believe believe in in myself. myself. It’s It’s teachers teachers like like him him who who drive drive their their students students to to their their potential. potential.

52 52


January 2019 •

June June 2018 2018 ••

ences ences would would be be my my grandmothers grandmothers and and my my mom. mom. They They know know the the true true meaning meaning of of love love and and sacrifice. sacrifice. Alberto Alberto Duran: Duran: Coach Coach Cinque. Cinque. He He has has taught taught and and guided guided me me so so much much

2018 Senior Survey

Who is the unsung hero of your graduating class?

Who is theNour unsung hero of your graduating class? 2018 Senior Survey Derek Keenan, Richard Mejia, Kristen Mawker, Kayali, Jakub Kotwica, Janice Owusu. hearted, encouraging person who’ll Max Dubac: Mohammed Mutaher Daniel Lepiani: Meaghan Mancini. pick you up and make you laugh in is the unsung hero. He’s worked Jakub Kotwica: Billy Cheng thinks the lowest times. hard as long as I have known him. for others before himself and wants Since middle school, Mohammed Dylan Hirschmanner: Mike to see everyone succeed. has pushed himself in all fields. I Algieri. He is a great person and my Mackenzie Miller: Nicholas Bran is think he hasn’t received proper best friend. a hero for his out-of-this-world perattention yet. He is a very honest MatthewCindy Gould: Bernie Johnson sonality. theCosette sunshine on Arian a Matthew Gould, Stacey Singh, Teofilo He’s Tavares, Peirone, Cardoza, Zuniga and driven young man that has sucalways gives me advice. I’m glad rainy day. Band wouldn’t have been ceeded despite adversity.Jeudy I have no Mohammad Shihadeh: Domingez. Yessica Terrazas: I am myclose. own hero. I basically pushed we’re the same without him! doubt that he will go on to do great on all of achievements and therefore I am proud Facing page, Clifton students I’ZayahStacey Singh: Dogamyself Evan Cruz: Jeudy Dominguez. Amanda Stetz: Prianka Kunadia. Aktop. She’s things life andGomez continue pursue of myself. Lora,inRaquel andtoTroy CasserShe really deserves the world. the most down to earth person that I Emir Lukovic: Jeudy Dominguez. hislydreams. celebrated their graduation from the Anthony Fiore: Myself. I was the film guy for soccer have ever met. She has so much to North Jersey Daisy Elks Myself! Developmental Omar Khaled: Adrian Sanchez. Jeudy Dominguez: She’s a DisNour Kayali: Lopez! this year, Sometimes it was hard getting the equipment to abilities High School. The students areoffer the world. funny andPariona: introverted person who’s We always talked Annalee Barris: Lineth Tirrero. She Priscilla Angela Fernandez. but it was fun. pictured with their proud parents, Clif-Janice Owusu: I’dgames have to say always kind and friendly with peohas a unique sense of style and is a about college and my school problems. ton case manager Sue Schemly (center) choice is Mrs. Espinal. She was my Nicholas Guzman. Arian He’s Cardoza: a kind- Myfuture ple. She deserves attention! fashion icon. and Executive Director Dr. William Cosette Peirone: Abigail Falero. Weiss She deserves her ESL teacher and she was there when I needed her. She (right). Below, Marching Mustang Drum chance. helped me a lot during the high school years, and I hope Major Mackenzie Miller. that she reads these lines one day. Eric Sandberg: Jillian Urban. She has gotten into Rutgers and will be pursuing an English major. The capCindy Zuniga; Yessica Terrazas. Everything about her tain of the girls lacrosse team and the most open and is unique. comforting person I have ever met. I am so blessed to Dayanara Berrocal: Dayanara Berrocal. She’s friendly have her in my life. with everyone and makes sure that nobody gets left out. Jedrick Marcelino: Robert Reynoso. She works hard to accomplish her goals.


1355 Broad St. • Clifton • 973-778-5566

Dr. Michael Basista, Medical Director of Immedicenter Mon-Fri 8am to 9pm • Sat & Sun 8am to 5pm Walk-in Medical Care Weekday Appointments Available • June 2018

7 • January 2019


The Classes of Eights Are Still Great



In July, we searched for Mustangs from classes in a year ending in eight. From 1948, we returned from WWII with Dominick Di Paolo; finally beat Montclair on the gridiron with the Class of ’58 Mustangs; listened to 1968’s Mark and Shirley Winkler, and Kathy Stanchak talk about those turbulent times; saluted 1978 with Cindi Telep and Mary Jo Anzaldi; conquered the “Big 80s” with Don Knapp and Raquel Celi; dominated nineties’ tennis with Keiko Tokuda (cover); and explored the new millennium with 2008’s Matt West and Beverly Lacsina.

in review

(’48) Barbara Bush, Victor Rossi, Marlene E. Dietrich, Dom Di Paolo, Eleanor Bizub; (’58) Bob Gursky, Frances Biegel, Gerald Lipkin, Marie Hakim, Gerard Parent; (’68) Irene Ziemski, Bob Delotto, Wendy Nagel, Stephen Christopher, Annemarie Montesinos; (’78) Nick Poulis, Mary Jo Anzaldi, Rich Berdnik, Nancy Samra, Jeff Biegel; (’88) Nadia Baran, Samuel Jacolow (cover goalie), Anna Baran, Don Knapp, Lydia Baran; (’98) Andrew Piotrowski, Meagan McDonald, Joe Haro, Janine Jarosz, Bryan Armstrong; (‘08) Casey Hawrylko, Ken Peterson, Lindsay Berberich, Matt West, Bev Lacsina.


January 2019 •

Facing top, Waad Mustafa, Daniel Marrielo and Giovanni Chapal received honors for academic and athletic achievements in July. Above left, R.N. Vernice Waiters (left) of Physicians Dialysis assists Tiffany Sheppard is on the waiting list of St. Barnabas Hospital for a kidney transplant; Lt. Charles P. Stauhs with his 100-year history of the Clifton Fire Department. • January 2019


Clifton’s Not-So-Distant History



We returned to history in August, traveling along our 2000-2004 timeline and reliving one of Clifton’s most contentious times. The issue was packed with reminisces of overcrowding— both in our schools and along our streets—as Cambridge Crossings rose and Clifton’s magnificent cliffs disappeared. Before citizens could scream, “No More Housing!” a new Clifton was here, filled with more people, buildings and industry (the timeline continues in a future issue). Below are just some of the covers from that era.

in review

Top of page, from left: Dr. Steven LaPoff, co-founder of Immedicenter, died suddenly at the age of 50 on Feb. 12, 2003. William Martini was sworn in as a Superior Court Judge of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on Nov. 19, 2002. Mike Duch is seen on March 21, 2003 at the site of Homemade Pirogi, then on 560 Lexington Ave., which was devastated by an extensive fire. Homemade Pirogi has since relocated to Downtown Clifton at 1295 Main Ave.


January 2019 • • January 2019



Sept. Sept. 11,11, 2001: 2001:After Afterthe theterrorist terrorist attacks, attacks, Cliftonites Cliftonites areare united united bybyfear, fear,grief griefand, and, finally, finally, resolve resolve and and determination. determination.Joe JoeFlorio, Florio,aaWKTU WKTU DJ known knownas as “Joey “Joey Clifton,” Clifton,”calls callsfor forpeople people to to donate donate medical medical supplies supplies and andfills fills2727trucks. trucks.Eileen Eileen Keating Keating distributes distributes patriotic patriotic ribbons. ribbons.Joe JoeTorelli Torelli loads loads trucks. trucks. CHS CHSsophsophomore omore Aakash AakashShah Shahcalls callsMayor Mayor Jim Jim Anzaldi Anzaldiabout about holding holding anan interfaith interfaithprayer prayerservice. service. Hundreds Hundredsattend. attend. Rev. Rev. Ned Ned Suffern Suffernofofthe theHope Hope Reformed Reformed Church Churchsays, says, “I’m “I’m glad glad we’re we’returning turningtotoGod.” God.”


in review

Art & Humanities Month From our 2001 October edition, Susan McDonald, Ronnie Italiano, Jim Yellen, Mike Bertelli, Jean Hoffman Cummings of The Late Show and Matt Garbo.

president of Nicholas Real Estate Agency, is awarded the Senior Real Estate Specialist professional designaOct. 5, 2001: CMM dedicates its issue to those tion. The Senior Advantage Real Estate Council in missing since the Sept. 11 attacks, remembering Murphys, Calif., presented him with the award. Thomas Cullen, John Grazioso, Tim Grazioso, Edgar Emery, Zuhtu Ibis, Edward Murphy, John Nov. 11, 2001: This year’s Veterans Day Parade, “Yosh” Skala and Francis Trombino. which heads down Lakeview Ave. to Nash Park, commemorates the 10th anniversary of Desert Oct. 2001: Real candy apples are still hand dipped at Storm, which began in Aug. 1990 when Iraqi forces Metro Candy Apple, 132 Getty Ave. overtook Kuwait. Oct. 7, 2001: Robert Zschack, the “Voice of the The war ended in Feb. 1991 when an internaMustangs,” is honored by the Clifton Education Cliftonites Cliftonites lost lost on on 9/11/01, 9/11/01, from from top top left: left:Zuhtu Zuhtu Ibis,2001. Kyung KyungCliftonites Cho, Cho,Francis Francis Joseph Trombino, Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, U. Raja, Edward Edward Top: bands at the Clifton Palooza in Randolph in Aug. lostJoseph on 9/11/01, from topthe left: United Zuhtu Ibis, Kyung tional coalition, lead byEhtesham States, Foundation. C. Murphy, C. Murphy, Edgar Edgar H. H. Emery, Emery, Port Port Authority Authority Officer Officer John John Skala Skala and and brothers brothers John John and and Tim Tim Grazioso. Grazioso. Cho, Francis Joseph Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority Officer John Skala reclaimed Kuwait to be ruled by the Sabah family Oct. 21, 2001: Salon Ilona, across from City Hall, and brothers John and Tim Grazioso. Below Clifton Crossing Guards were honored in early 2000 by the Optimist Club. and a democratic parliament. hosts Hope Cuts 2001 to benefit the Breast Cancer TheCHS CHSgrad grad attended attended Caldwell Caldwell College College in the infall. the fall. Aug. Aug. 2001: 2001:The TheU19 U19Clifton Clifton Stallions Stallions defeat defeat The Massive air strikes against Iraq began on Jan. 17, Foundation. The same day, residents Walk to Cure Ridgewood RidgewoodPark Park5-0 5-0inin the the Division Division 1 Metro Metro Aug. Aug. 15, 15, 2001: 2001: The Passaic-Clifton Passaic-Clifton Mobile Intensive Intensive 1991 and lasted forThe nearly a monthMobile before ground Traumatic Brain Injury at the Municipal Complex. League League Championship ChampionshipatatGiants GiantsStadium, Stadium, completcompletAdvanced Advanced Life Life Support Care Care Unit Unit launches launches a new a new troops moved in to force the Iraqi military out Support of Oct. 26,the 2001: Clifton’s Skate Park is59sloting ing the season season with with a 13-0 aExtreme 13-0record, record, scoring scoring goals goals Bicycle Bicycle Unit, Unit, thanks thanks to to the the support support of Fran of Fran and Kuwait. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers quickly surren- and ted to open tojust the public. andand allowing allowing just nine. nine. Al Greco, director of Vincent Vincent Ponte Ponte oftheir of Recycled Recycled in Clifton. in Clifton. dered or deserted posts Paperboard as Paperboard the coalition stormed Human Services, said an exact date would be Aug. Aug. 7, 7, 2001: 2001:Henry HenryFette Fettedies dies atat age age 96. Fette Fette across Sept. Sept. 15, 2001: 2001:After Afterthethe Sept. Sept. 11 11 attacks, attacks, the15, desert. announced. The park would opened opened a temporary a temporaryFord Fordshowroom showroom in in Downtown Downtown Luddington Luddington Ave. Ave. resident resident Ed Ed Schweighardt Schweighardt takes takes a a When it was over, Iraq sufbe located on Third St. at Clifton Clifton on on Main Main Ave. Ave.across acrossfrom fromMemorial Memorial Park Park at at photo photoofoftwo twomen men marching marching down Main Main Ave.Ave. with fered down between 20,000 and with Weasel Brook Park and feathe the Rt. Rt. 46 46 overpass. overpass. HeHe was wasawarded awardedaaFord Ford franchise franchise American American flags. flags. Police Police asked asked them them to leave to leave the road. the 35,000 casualties. The road. ture a roller hockey facil15,15, 1952, 1952, and and established establishedthe thecurrent current location location on Dec. on Dec. Sept. Sept.22, 22,2001: 2001: The The staffs staffs of Drs. of Drs. RayRay Milazzo Milazzo and and coalition sustained ity and an extreme in in 1977. Fette Fette was thethelead leadfundraiser fundraiserfor for the the Clifton Clifton January 2019 • was 28skate   1977. Slam Scott Scott Gardner Gardner host host a Chiropractic a Chiropractic Softball Softball Grand Grand far fewer losses with Slam park. Library Library thatthat opened openedinin1953 1953and and grand grand marshal marshal of of asasthe thetwo twooffices offices compete compete for for the the bragging bragging rights rights of of only 240 killed (148 Nov. 7, 2001: The Clifton’s Clifton’s 50th 50th Anniversary AnniversaryParade. Parade. Clifton CliftonAve. Ave.The The event event waswas heldheld at Eddie at Eddie Mayo Mayo Field were Americans) and Field Council approves a • January 2019


In September, we profiled Sons of Anarchy actor and native son and CHS grad Michael Ornstein.

Meet the Movers and Shakers



September signaled back to school, and we met the Class of ’19’s David Martinez, Brianna Morrison and Ava Scibona (cover). We also met 13 candidates for Clifton City Council and six contenders for Board of Education seats. We presented the inspiring story of the late Bobby Macaluso, one of New Jersey’s first Make-A-Wish kids, and his connection to movie and TV star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Also featured were actor Michael Ornstein and celebration coverage of the 27th anniversary of Ukrainian independence at City Hall.

in review

Broadway Bound Ava Scibona Paramus Catholic 2019

The Clifton Board of Ed election was canceled and rescheduled for April 2019. Candidates are (from left) Joseph Canova, Lawrence Grasso, Keith Bassford, Dana Pollati, James Daley and Dana Beltran; (lower left) 9/11 Ceremony at City Hall; (below) Van Houten Ave. Street Fair, Sept. 16; (bottom center), Chili Cookoff chefs at the Boys & Girls Club Car Show on Sept. 16.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Miss New Jersey contender Lauren Galdos (left) and actress and film producer Paige Sciarrino.

Marching Mustangs Celebrate 80



In October, the past met the future as Marching Mustangs Band drum majors, Ray Damiano, 91, and Matt Troller, 17, compared notes about their roles. We marched in Clifton’s Halloween Parade and got frightened by the return of the Jersey Devil. We also met this year’s Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame inductees Joe Tuzzolino, Jack Corradino, Robert C. Papa, John and Michael Ferrari, Michelle Stroble and John Kungl, and heard about the “Soul of Our City” through the words of Keith Oakley, Julie Krygsman, Jackie DeBlock, Bob Welsh and others.

in review

On Oct. 20, Nova UA Federal Credit Union celebrates completed construction of its main facility at 851 Allwood Rd.; Mustang Drum Major Matt Troller performs his back-bend; marchers at the Oct. 28 Halloween Parade & Harvestfest.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Oct.2018 in review

Clifton FMBA Local 21 firefighters (top left) completed its 10th annual Coat Drive. Hundreds of coats were collected during October at all six city firehouses and delivered to St. Peter’s Haven on Nov. 6; (top right and bottom row) happy Boys & Girls Club supporters enjoy their meals at the sixth annual “Taste of Clifton” Food & Wine Festival on Oct. 1. The event was supported by Clara Maas medical Center, RWJ Barnabas Health and the Cuellar Family Markets. All money raised was used to provide programs for Club members.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Remembering the Capitol Theatre



It was time to rock in November as we presented our tribute to Passaic’s Capitol Theatre through the memories of Clifton’s Tom Contrino and friends. Along with hearing about Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, we met Boys & Girls Club HOF inductees June McGreggor, Paul Dooley and Dany Qassis, and learned of the Marshall family’s generous Club gift. We rode with Norm Tahan and friends on their Mustangs road trip to Ohio, and highlighted the CHS-PHS Thanksgiving Day game, the 90th in the rivalry (Clifton won, 33-0).

in review

James Anzaldi---------------- 11,105 Raymond Grabowski-------- 9,700 Lauren Murphy--------------- 9,203 Peter C. Eagler---------------- 9,067 William F. Gibson------------ 8,602 Rosemary Pino---------------- 7,856 Mary Sadrukula-------------- 7,312

(Top left) Henry Marocco, Jim Anzaldi and Bob D’Arco; (center) Willy Garcia; (lower left) Jeanette Fraga, Michelle Jasper and Karen Vanderhorst.


January 2019 •

Joseph C. Kolodziej---------- 6,603 Steven Goldberg-------------- 6,013 George Silva------------------- 5,923 Steven Hatala, Jr.------------- 5,782 Frank Fusco------------------- 3,912 Malvin Frias-Asencio-------- 3,268 Source: Clifton City Clerk

Downtown Clifton festivities Nov. 30; waiting for Santa in Botany.

On Nov. 14 and 28, (top) Cliftonites and their dogs took advantage of free rabies vaccines at Fire Station 5; (bottom) the CHS Madcaps performed Nov. 30 in Botany Village, Lakeview and Downtown Clifton.

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Words and Actions to Live By



“Love Thy Neighbor” was the December theme, and Cliftonites showed how. Tova Feldner created a social media network to shrink the distance between neighbors. Dr. Howard Baum discussed helping the Boys & Girls Club raise at least $100,000 during their annual campaign, and the CHS Key Club worked to make Clifton better. We met Gabbie and Bobby Marriello, and their PRAISE organization that benefits special needs kids and their families, and met other giving people like Ercan Tozan, and John and Jackie Muller.

in review


The Clifton Fire Department welcomed new recruits Dec. 18; (above, left) Captain Botta, Michael Ramirez, Enrique Vasquez, Brian McCarthy and Nicholas Favata, Chief Kevin J. McCarthy, John Bednarz, Jason Hammaker and William Englehardt; (left) CHS senior David Martinez with Coach Ralph Cinque. Martinez rushed for a single season program-best 1,573 yards for the 8-3 Mustangs; (right) Dr. E. Unay of Clifton Dog and Cat Hospital received accreditation from the American Animal Hospital Association in early December. January 2019 •

Top of facing page, Partners for Health Foundation recognized Kevin Donahue, Mary Rossettini, Jennifer Papa. On Dec. 19, Alexa Modero (right, center), co-founder of Backpacks for Life, which assists homeless veterans, visited NJEDDA’s Adult Program to collect items to distribute pouches to veterans in need; we remembered Dec. 7’s Pearl Harbor (below) and its aftermath in an article featuring Cliftonites’ memories.

CHS winter athletes Ryan Lauritano, Lea Hallak, Leandra Nieves, Henry Zheng, Adrian Baran and Miranda Porter. • January 2019




in review

The Power of One worked with the Clifton Public Library and the Boys & Girls Club After School Programs to host a Christmas party Dec. 16 at the Italian American COOP Hall in Botany Village. More than 40 volunteers helped organize the event, which 75 children with their families attended. William Espinoza from the Clifton FMBA Local 21 led the Toys for Tots Toy Drive, Victor Scrivens of OEM Clifton offered his DJ talent and Clifton’s Danny Garrett acted as Santa. Collecting gifts at Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin’s Holiday and Book Drive are Giblin’s Chief of Staff Lolita Cruz; East Orange Mayor Ted Green; Dr. Karen L. Pennington, vice president, SDCL, MSU; Giblin; Julie Fleming, associate director for Student Involvement, MSU; and Emily Synan, coordinator for Greek Life, MSU.

Gabbie Marriello, the leader of Clifton PRAISE with her husband Bobby. Mustangs of the Month, freshman Gregory Allen, sophomore Mia Dubac, junior Payton Engelhardt and senior Jazmin Fernandez. Tova Felder of the Facebook group Clifton News and Community, her son Jesse and Sophia Spadavecchia before they shared a Shabbat meal on Nov. 30.


January 2019 • • January 2019


Our good friend and longest running advertiser, Nick Tselepis of the Nicholas Real Estate Agency, marked his 40th year of business with a grand party on Dec. 17. Clients, family, realtors and customers shared an evening short on speeches and long on Greek and Latin dancing and celebrating. Nick’s son Dean spoke on behalf of the family, recalling that Nick began by in 1978 by “renting a small office space in Clifton, in what is now Kamil’s, with my mother Angelica as his one and only support staff. Months later, his friend and former coworker decided to take a leap of faith and join—Fred Spoelstra as agent number one.” Then the office grew. “As a testament to my father and the Nicholas Real Estate culture, many are still here... Fred, then Dave and Walter and Wendell, Luis and Linton. Then came Angie, Sophia, Nancy, Patricia, Bobby, Jose, Gladys and Alberto, Juana and Jackie. To have that many people stay with one company for 15, 20, 30 and nearly 40 years is astonishing. It’s truly a family.” Dean concluded: “Thank you for being on this lifelong journey with my father. We are blessed to call you our friends and family. And Dad, from a 13 year old Greek immigrant who spoke no English to the successful businessman you are today, congratulations on 40 amazing years. I love you so much and I’m truly honored to call you my father.”


January 2019 • • January 2019


When asked where she sees herself in five years, Małgorzata (Margaret) Kardasz laughed. “My life is so surprising,” Kardasz said. “I never thought I’d live in the United States. I never thought I’d own a business. I never knew I’d meet so many people. Whatever I say, it’s probably going to be different. I hope I’m going to be healthy, my family will be healthy, and so will my customers.” If you look at Kardasz’s life, it seems like a classic American success story—a hardworking immigrant comes in search of opportunity and finds success. But that’s not exactly how it happened. A decade ago when 16 year-old Kardasz came to this country from her home in Olsztyn, Poland, for a vacation, she didn’t like the United States. Not knowing the language or many people, she remained in her family friend’s home in Garfield for the most of her stay. “I did nothing,” she said. “It was my first trip out of Poland, and I missed my family. When I got back, I said never ever again.”


January 2019 •

That changed two years later. Now knowing some English, Kardasz visited the U.S. for the summer, getting a job in a Polish deli. She explored the area on the weekends, visiting the Statue of Liberty, New York City and the Jersey Shore. “That’s when I fell in love with America,” she said. “The people had a different lifestyle, and I finally saw what is going on here. Here, people were saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’ In Poland, if you don’t know somebody, you don’t talk with them. Here, everyone is open minded—they talk and they’re nice to you. “My third time coming to America was the charm.” Now 20, Kardasz returned for another summer. However, the deli where she worked on her last visit didn’t need her, so she took another job with a cleaning service. One of the women she worked with asked if she wanted to meet her stepson’s friend. “I wasn’t interested in meeting anyone,” Kardasz said. “But she said, ‘You’ll have fun, you can hang out.’ That is how I met my husband Karol. I was living in

Wallington, and he was from Clifton. He had come to this country from Poland when he was 10.” With love keeping here, Kardasz extended her visa. She got a job as a babysitter for a year and then began looking for a new position. An ad in a Polish newspaper told her they were looking for help at George’s Coffee Shop at 227 Parker Ave. in Botany Village. When she walked in, Kardasz felt like she was home. Meant to Be George’s Coffee Shop has been a Botany Village landmark since 1985 when George and Lee Scoble opened the shop. After the couple divorced, Lee Scoble continued to operate the place but kept her ex-husband’s name for the business. Kardasz inquired about the job in the fall of 2014. “In Poland we have a lot of cafeterias and bakeries where you sit down, drink coffee and relax,” she said. “You talk with friends, have a piece of cake—have fun times. When I walked in, I said, ‘I like this place. It’s exactly what I miss from Poland. I want to work here.’” Soon, she was. “Everybody knows each other,” Kardasz said, “everybody talks with each other, everybody helps each other. They are like one big family. Everyone was so nice and wanted to get to know me. They taught me English, helped me with situations.” Though she had wanted to be a teacher as a child and then an accountant in her teenage years, Kardasz soon fell in love with the restaurant business, learning much from Scoble. “Lee taught me everything about running a business,” said Kardasz, “how to cook, how to go shopping, what to buy, how to prepare stuff. She also taught me how to serve food, how to talk with people… everything.”

Scoble, who is from South Korea, knew Kardasz was special. “She was a hard worker,” Scoble said. “She was young, her personality was very good, and she tried so hard. She did everything so good.” The feeling was mutual. “We became close,” said Kardasz. “We were like a team, not boss and worker. We were friends but there was respect.” Two years later, Scoble began floating the idea of retiring and selling George’s. She got a few offers, but had another idea. “One day,” said Kardasz, “Lee asked me if I wanted to buy it. When I said I didn’t have the money, she said she would give me good deal and, if I didn’t like it, I could return it after the first year. “I had nothing to lose, so we did the deal. Lee knew I was going to run the shop the way she did. That’s why I think she gave it to me. She had to have a lot of trust in me to hand me the business after 30 years.” Indeed Scoble did. “I gave it to her,” she said, “for half the price of what I was asking. I saw the way she treated my customers and wanted her to have it.” Now an Entrepreneur In Jan. 2016, at an age when most young people were graduating college, Kardasz was a small business owner. “I never dreamed I was going to own my own business,” she said. “It was scary at first, but Karol and I said, ‘We’re going to be brave and do this.’” While Kardasz wanted to keep George’s atmosphere the same, there were some things she wanted to improve. She and Karol, an operating engineer by day, began renovations on the shop, putting down a new floor, replacing fixtures and painting the walls. Some- • January 2019


times, they would be there working until 2 am only for Margaret to return at 5 am to open. “For the first two years, it was very tough for us,” she said. “But I had a lot of support from my husband, who was always there for me, my mother-in-law, and emotional support by phone from my family in Poland.” As an employee, Kardasz workday ended when the shop closed. As an owner, there was much more to do, including shopping, preparing, ordering supplies and the dreaded paperwork. “That was the most surprising thing about owning the business,” she said, “all the paperwork I had to do. Some people think because I close early that I have all this free time. But there is always more to do.” When they finished with shop, everything was new except for the name on the window. Instead of changing the shop’s name, Kardasz kept it. “I kept it the same out of respect for Lee,” she said, “and all her years there.” What also didn’t change was Kardasz’s relationship with her customers. Some attended her wedding, and she has gone to their family christenings and other events. “There’s Adrian Wizner, Karen Biss, James Kaminsky, Aziz Elmhadi, Moustafa, Tony Raimo, Marie Schultheis, James B and many more,” she said. “I am thankful them for making me smile every day and being there for me in any situation.” Like a Family Today, George’s Coffee Shop is going strong. “Now she is doing better than me!” said Scoble, who visits monthly. “I’m very happy. Because she’s doing so good, I feel good, too.” Kardasz has also been active on social media and responds quickly to comments which are overwhelmingly positive. “I don’t get many complaints,” she said, “but if somebody is not happy, I want to fix it right away.” She has also gone out of her way to become more active and has been a Botany Village Special Improvement District trustee for the past four months. While she has noticed the area business climate improving, Kardasz looks at the neighborhood differently. “As a business owner,” she said, “you’re concerned with safety and things I didn’t think about much as an employee. I will say that the city has been very responsive. Some people complain on social media, but I’ve found that all you have to do is ask and the city helps.”


January 2019 •

A young employee, Margaret (Przyborowska) Kardasz, and the original owner, Lee Scoble, in 2014.

An example was when she contacted Councilman Bill Gibson about cars traveling the wrong way on Parker Ave. Gibson visited and is working with City Manager Dominick Villano on steps to prevent wrong way traffic. “I try to be a voice for Botany,” Kardasz said. “When I see something, I say something.” Though not a Clifton resident (“All I do is sleep in Wallington,” she laughed), Kardasz tries to give back to the community. For the holidays, families can take Christmas photos in front of her fireplace (she supplies the elf hats), and George’s hosted a “Coffee with a Cop” event Nov. 10, giving away free coffee so residents could come and meet their local police officers. “In two hours,” she said, “I gave away 80 coffees and that’s a lot for a little place. I also had coloring books for kids. It was a chance to get to know get to know our police officers, share any concerns, ask questions or just meet them.” While she can’t predict her future, Kardasz hopes her parents Alicja and Andrzej will someday be able to visit her business and see what she has accomplished. She also want to become a citizen and never leave America. And she hopes the atmosphere inside her shop—what reminded her of home when she first walked in—will never change. “What make’s George’s special,” she said, “is the people. I want them to feel at home, warm and cozy in this place. George’s not like a diner or restaurant where you eat and leave—it’s a family place.” • January 2019



January 2019 •

Isabelle Dely wanted a high school that would challenge her academically and athletically. Now a senior, the Spring Valley NY resident said she found it at PC. “I’ve learned to be disciplined and determined and with the help of my teachers and coaches, I’ve overcome setbacks and continue to set high goals,” said Isabelle. Having set School, County and State track records, Isabelle’s next goal is to be a Speech Therapist and will continue her roadwork and homework at Villanova, Northeastern or Towson Universities.

Ashley Linares wants to be a civil rights lawyer. If her accomplishments in track & field are any indication, she’ll be a barrister in record-breaking time. “When I qualified for States in 2016, I was the first girl from PC to qualify in 39 years,” said the Passaic, NJ resident. “My coaches molded me into a strong runner, and my four years at PC have helped me grow academically and as a person. I can confidently say I am ready for college.” She’ll select from University of Hartford, the College of NJ or St. Thomas Aquinas College.

Tiffany Bautista is the 2018 NJ State Champion in high and triple jumps, anchored the winning 4-x-100 relay and scored a personal best in taking third in the long jump at the 2018 Meet of Champions. Earning those honors, the New Milford, NJ resident, works equally hard in the classroom as her goal is for a career in biomedical engineering because she “wants to make things that help people.”

Heavily recruited by Ivy League schools thanks in part to her strong academic skills, Tiffany said she learned how to balance academics and athletics thanks to training on and off the track. “PC taught me responsibility and to foster appreciation not only for the Catholic faith but education itself. PC immersed me in diversity, showing me different cultures and innovative ways to think and solve problems.” • January 2019


our “People to ts en es pr e in az ag M t ton Merchan h, In January 2019, Clif e son basketball coac tiv na ’s ol ho Sc h ig H lifton Watch.” You’ll meet C il, and the city’s nc ou C ity C n to lif C e ers joining th ’s two newly-elected lead n commissioner. There tio ca du E of rd oa B d ficial an first Muslim elected of leader of one of the e th d an t, is op hr nt ila neur and ph also a dynamic entrepre ton Boys & Girls Club. lif C e th , ns tio itu st in ng enduri city’s most vibrant and By Tom Szieber


When Mike Cadmus applied to be the head coach of the Clifton boys basketball program in 2016, he knew that, if hired, he would be stepping into a situation that was all too familiar. The Mustangs were struggling, years removed from being seen as a factor in North I, Group IV or Passaic County. Creeping toward .500 was a struggle. The program was in the same condition as it was during Cadmus’ stint as a forward/ guard for the team seven years earlier. It was his familiarity with the program, though, that made Cadmus confident that he could succeed leading the Mustangs to better days. “I thought that I could bring something to that job that no one else could,” Cadmus said. “I thought I could bring an inside knowledge of Clifton. But I had no idea if I was going to get the job.” But he did. And while the Mustang rebuild isn’t complete just yet, Clifton under Cadmus has proven to be tough, fundamentally sound and confident that it can be a winner. As a player, Cadmus was a 11 or 12-point-per-game scorer on teams that, during his two varsity campaigns, won just 10 total games. Clifton was steamrolled regularly and was a far cry from the teams Cadmus would watch as a youngster with stars like Luis Martinez, Devon Moffatt and Carlos Pena. The same was the case with the team he took over. But having been there before, Cadmus felt he was able to diagnose the issue and begin remedying it. “I think what I saw most was a team that lacked an identity,” he remembered. “I felt like when I was playing, at times we lacked an identity, too. When I took over, it seemed like we weren’t sure if we were going to be an up-tempo team like Kennedy or Eastside or a team that was more methodical like Wayne Hills or Wayne Valley. We just didn’t know who we were.” In a way, Cadmus began developing an identity for the Mustangs by molding them in the image of the type of player he had been. It wasn’t because of ego; it was because Clifton badly needed the grit and tenacity he’d displayed on the court. Under his watch, they have gained a reputation for toughness and smart man-toman defense. They also display a versatile offensive tempo that allows them to push when the situations calls for it, but also slow things down. January 2019 •

His first two seasons at the helm were solid with Clifton going 11-15 and 12-14. Now, though, Cadmus believes the time has come to turn the corner. They got off to a good start to 2018-19, pounding Lakeland, 55-29. The team’s top player, senior guard Armani Brinson, was his sensational self, tallying 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Brinson also exemplifies just what the Cadmus-era Clifton basketball player is. “Armani has that natural toughness. He brings that edge and toughness every single game,” Cadmus said. “I thought I had that mentality as a player, too, but he is 30 times the player I ever was.”

The Lakeland victory may be just one win, but it meant a lot more to a program trying to show it has made it back from rock bottom. It was a 1-0 start for a team with aspirations greater than just sneaking into the playoffs. It was also an on-court display of how, finally, the Mustangs have an identity as a program. “You could just tell how much less teaching we had to do in the first week of practice because these guys have been in the program,” Cadmus said. “I can already see the transformation. They know what we want and expect from them. They know we won’t be the most athletic team every time, so we have to have a mental edge. And most of all, they know who they are as a team.”

Clifton’s returning firebrand councilwoman is ready to get to work. By Jack DeVries Mary Sadrakula learned she had been elected to the Clifton’s City Council watching the election results at the Village Pizza where her supporters had gathered. With 7,312 votes, Sadrakula earned the seventh and final council seat, finishing behind newcomer Rosemary Pino and five incumbents, and beating out Councilmen Steve Hatala and Joe Kolozdiej. While feeling “wonderful the people believed in my capabilities to be the voice of the people,” Sadrakula was surprised more incumbents had not fallen. “Actually,” she said, “I thought we might have more change on the council.”

Sadrakula is returning to the council after being elected in 2010 and losing her reelection bid in 2014. Despite the absence, her motivation for serving remains the same—to protect her home and community. “I have a major investment in this house and in the city of Clifton,” she said in the Oct. Clifton Merchant Magazine. “I want to be able to live here for the rest of my life.” Sadrakula, who earned a mathematics degree from Dickinson College and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, spent 40-plus years on Wall Street before retiring, specializing in business research. Returning to the council, she is ready to hit the ground running. • January 2019


“We have a lot of things to work on,” Sadrakula said. “What we have to accomplish first and foremost is to bring back the trust in the council for the residents of Clifton and our city employees, including the unions. There are many problems we have to address.” As an example, Sadrakula cited providing emergency personnel with relief equipment, saying that during two summer blazes Clifton firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. “I learned there was no water, ice or proper rehab for our firefighters,” she said. “And not having air conditioning in a fire truck is ridiculous, other than in the cab where the driver and another person sit.” After the summer fires, on her own accord, Sadrakula contacted an ice manufacturer who donated an ice machine. She said it has sat for months unused in the FMBA headquarters because no one from the city has said in which fire station to locate it. “That’s inexcusable,” she said. “There are so many problems. We must establish trust and get more people involved.” At council meetings, Sadrakula wants to see constituents having more conversation with their elected officials, noting residents sometimes have to wait and return weeks after before being heard. “We don’t have all the answers,” she said, “but citizens deserve to have their questions answered. We don’t sit up there as gods. It’s a dialogue. I firmly believe in

government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Another thing she wants is a ban on cell phone use at council meetings. “I’m going to make a motion for an ordinance,” she said. “I am totally against the use of cell phones on the dais. It’s rude, it’s disrespectful to the people coming up, and there’s absolutely no reason for it.” While she’s been outspoken critic of the previous council, Sadrakula also knows she needs consensus to accomplish any initiative. “I believe this council has failed the citizens and failed our employees in several areas during these last four years,” she said. “I have always been a ‘Let’s look at the numbers and let’s do what’s best for all’ person. I have no ties to any special interest groups, but we have to have fair and balanced contracts for all our employees.” But, she added, “I can’t do it alone. I need three other votes to get something done. But I hope to be able to show with reasoning and facts and figures what is best.” As she begins her term, Sadrakula said residents can expect more of the same from her. “I’ll be exactly who I’ve always been,” she said. “I’m here to help anyone and everyone, and will do my upmost to fight for any issue that I believe in. I want to be able to look every individual in the eye with every one of my votes and explain to them why I voted the way I did, based on facts and figures.”

Education matters much to Clifton’s first Muslim elected official. By Jack DeVries Fahim Abedrabbo, who serves on the Clifton Board of Education, is the first Muslim elected official in city’s history. While his achievement is to be commended, it also begs the question—for a city with a sizable Muslim population, why did it take so long? “Generations are finally becoming a fabric of America,” said Abedrabbo. “Muslims have been here for about 30-40 years. They came here young—to work, to understand what America is about, like the Irish and


January 2019 •

Italians did. They learned to be in the game, you have to be part of the game. And if you want things to change, you have to be part of that change.” Abedrabbo, a Palestinian-American, has made his share of sacrifices to be “in the game.” He graduated a semester early from Montclair State University—going to school from 8 am to 3:30 pm, working at Applebee’s from 4 pm to closing, and studying until 2 am before repeating the process the next morning. After graduating with a degree in political science and law, he took a 40-hour unpaid internship • January 2019


in Congressman Bill Pascrell’s office in Washington, D.C. To support himself, Abedrabbo worked as a waiter nights and weekends at a restaurant called Busboys and Poets. His sacrifice paid off when Pascrell offered him a job as a staff assistant in his Paterson home office. “Sixth months later,” Abedrabbo said. “I was promoted to a field director, working on public safety issues. That’s how I got to know Clifton from the fire and police aspect, along with the rest of the district.” However, there was much he already knew about his hometown. A lifelong Clifton native, Abedrabbo grew up on Donald St., his backyard bordering Mayor James Anzaldi’s (he refers to him as “Uncle Jimmy” out of respect). He went to School 1, Christopher Columbus Middle School and Clifton High, where he played two years as an offensive lineman for the football Mustangs. However, up until middle school, he was not the best student. “In the sixth grade,” he remembered, “my father said it was time for me to go to the Middle East and see my family in El Jeeb, a province of Ramallah. I saw how they treat education there. My cousin had an 87 average and was getting yelled at since he didn’t have an A average. “That kind of kicked me in gear, and I began getting As and Bs.” His parents encouraged his study. Despite working two jobs, his father Kanaan would make sure his homework was done, sometimes checking on it at midnight after coming home from a second job. His mother Nam, kept him grounded, emphasizing that no one could ever take his education away from him. Abedrabbo learned that lesson well. He went on to earn his masters from Seton Hall University in 2012 and is at work on his doctorate at the school with an expected graduation of 2021. After serving in Pascrell’s office from 2008 to 2013, he went to work as a director in Seton Hall’s Office of Government Relations. He lives now in the Montclair Heights section with wife Hannah and their daughter Lubna, 3, and son Zakaria, 1. The couple will be married for five years this March. Abedrabbo’s interest in politics intensified in college and blossomed while working in Pascrell’s campaigns.


January 2019 •

When it came time to run for a spot on the Clifton Board of Education in 2016, he was ready, going doorto-door each night to reach out to voters and energizing his Muslim community base. “I ran two separate campaigns,” Abedrabbo said, “one that focused on the city, the other on my community. If you can’t get your community interested, for me, it’s not worth it.” He did confront suspicion outside that community about his motivation and Muslim faith. “Before the election,” Abedrabbo said, “a friend of mine posted my photo on Instagram that I had announced I’d decided to run. Someone responded, ‘I would bring Sharia Law to education.’ “I wouldn’t even know how to do that. I’m a Democrat. I’m from Clifton. I’m an American. I want to change things for the better—not only for my kids but for other people’s kids, too.” Abedrabbo is an advocate for increasing STEM education and broadening avenues for trade school students, who often learn of this path in high school. “We need to be more competitive in this area,” he said. “That’s not only a Clifton issue,” he said, “but an American issue. We have to prepare our kids for the workforce.” He also wants to see Clifton students and residents take advantage of the Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus on the former Hoffman LaRoche site. Abedrabbo has facilitated partnerships between certain programs at the Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) Campus and the Clifton School District, and wants to see more students and community programs take advantage. “This will lead to successful paths to college, technical institutions and life experiences,” he said. As far as future aspirations, Abedrabbo will not speculate about running for other elected positions, saying he would discuss any plans with his wife first. “But do I aspire to something bigger, to help a bigger population? Of course.” For now, Abedrabbo is committed to serving as a BOE commissioner. “I’ve had people say, ‘I did not vote for you, but next time I’m going to.’ Does that mean they will? I don’t know. “But I have faith in humanity that people are saying what they mean.” • January 2019


By Jack DeVries Preparing to open his new Crunch Fitness franchise on Paulison Ave. in Clifton in January, Rafael Cuellar is using the same savvy business philosophy that has always guided him. “I like providing better places for our communities,” Cuellar, 49, said. “Outside of having the space, that’s the reason I decided to do a Crunch Fitness. “There’s a plethora of gyms in this area, and I’ve been a member of many of them. I was once a power lifter, and have always been an avid gym-goer. But I didn’t find anything that was servicing the community that well, in my opinion. One place was too expensive, another was dirty or unorganized. There was always a reason why I wasn’t happy with some of the bigger gyms in the area.” Like he had done with his previous businesses—ShopRite of Passaic on Paulison Ave. and ShopRite Wines & Spirits of Clifton—Cuellar believes he has hit on the right combination. “I said let’s put something in the community that fits—it’s the right price point, has the right look, it’s always organized, clean and well kept.” To ensure his new Crunch Fitness gym meets those standards, Cuellar will probably work a few 100-hour weeks, as he does when he begins any new business. His usual work weeks run around 70 hours, with a day that begins with a 5 am workout. After taking his daughter to school, his day can last to 3 pm or run past midnight. One thing is certain—whatever the business or the week—Cuellar gives it his all, making sure he is serving his many customers, guiding his 400-plus employees and


January 2019 •

This dynamic entrepreneur continues his personal success story, much to the community’s benefit. giving back to his community. “That’s what you’re supposed to do if you own a business,” Cuellar said. “You’re supposed to be involved, help that community thrive. My dad would say, ‘If you’re doing business in a community, you need to make it better.’” And for Cuellar, his wife Marianne, who is known as “Mimi,” and their children Emilia, 6, and Rafael, 4, that community is the Clifton, Paterson and Passaic corridor. “Clifton is home to me since I was a teenager,” said Cuellar, who graduated from the now closed Paul IV High School on Valley Rd. in 1987. “Even though I didn’t live here until 2001, I’ve pretty much been involved in Clifton since age 14. I’ve lived all over U.S. and traveled all over the world when I was in the military, but home to me is Clifton.” And the city is much better for it. American Journey Rafael Cuellar was born in Madrid, Spain, and came to the U.S. when he was 7 months old. His family had gone to Spain from Cuba to flee the regime of Fidel Castro. Despite his father Evelio thriving in there—he worked for a large company and owned a bar—the family • January 2019


immigrated to America in search of medical care for his maternal grandfather. “If you weren’t someone who lived in Spain your entire life,” Cuellar said, “it was almost impossible to get health care. After my grandfather had a heart scare, the family decided to go somewhere else.” Along with his maternal grandparents, Cuellar, his father, mother Daisy and brother Evelio Jr. relocated to Paterson where Daisy still lives today. “To support us,” Cuellar said, “my father worked at Marcal Paper. He then worked as a salesman at Goya Foods before opening a small bodega in Paterson called El 494 Supermarket, which he opened with my godfather.” At age 6, Cuellar was packing produce. By 12, he was a butcher. At 14, he was doing the store’s books. At 1617, he knew how to run the entire operation. The family business flourished, and the partners were soon able to buy the building and become landlords. But after 10 years, they had a falling out and Evelio sold his half of the business. Two years later, the Cuellars opened President’s Supermarket on Jefferson St. in Passaic. “We bought an old A&P building,” Cuellar said, “which had been turned into a giant carpentry shop where they made all the tables for Wendy’s, those old time tables they used to use.” After graduating from Paul IV, Cuellar joined the U.S. Navy. “I enlisted in Navy,” he said, “because I didn’t want to burden my parents and knew I could get school paid for by joining the military. I wanted to become a doctor.” Cuellar was in the Navy for a decade. After three years, he began his Naval Reserve officer training at SUNY-Maritime, while concurrently earning an economics degree from Fordham University. He ultimately attained the rank of lieutenant. But in 1996, Cuellar’s naval career ended when his father Evelio died. With no one to run the family business—his mother was older and late brother Evelio Jr. had just been diagnosed with cancer—Rafael was granted a hardship discharge and returned to President’s Supermarket. However, Cuellar’s dream of becoming a doctor remained. Nine years later with his family’s business on solid ground, he returned to school, finishing 80 percent of his post-baccalaureate premedical program at Rutgers.


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“But then I got the ShopRite opportunity and all that went by the wayside,” he said. Big Time In July 2005, Cuellar sold President’s Supermarket, the family’s business for the past 21 years. One month later, he became the first Hispanic owner in the ShopRite Supermarket cooperative, opening ShopRite of Passaic on Paulison Ave. The cooperative was part of the Wakefern Food Corp., which today has 344 retail supermarkets in nine states and is the largest employer in New Jersey. “We have jumped up into the $30 to $50 million range almost overnight,” Cuellar said in 2005 company press release, “tripling our sales from President’s and going from 12,000 square feet to 61,000 square feet of space.” While the opportunity loomed large, so did the challenges. “That was a tough store, remembered Cuellar. “It wasn’t doing very well. It was a shot in the dark for them as well as it was for me. We came in and were able to turn that store around. “We spent a lot of time and effort saying what does our community really need? How can we make this thing work? “That’s kind of how I look at every business we look into—how can we offer something better, a little bit nicer for the community, at as good, if not better, price point than what’s out there?” Not only did Cuellar provide a better space, he embraced the surrounding area’s diversity, offering products his more than 40,000 customer desired. “We have customers from 17 different Hispanic nations,” he told Hispanic Executive magazine in 2014, “as well as large communities from Indian, Jewish, Muslim, Slavic, African-American, and Polish cultures. We cater to that diversity by serving up comfort foods and spices from their native lands—up to 20 percent of our inventory is comprised of international products.” By that year, Cuellar almost doubled his store’s sales. “If you do things ‘good,’ your results will be poor. If you do things ‘better,’ your results might be good. But if you do things ‘tremendously well,’ then you’ll get good results.” Cuellar next set his sights on the vacant former Pathmark store near the intersection of Paulison and Clifton Aves. • January 2019


“That was the philosophy around my liquor store,” said Cuellar, who opened ShopRite Wines & Spirits of Clifton in July 2016. “There were tons of liquor stores around, but they were not the greatest. I felt we could do something, nicer, better and of greater service to the community. “The world is changing that way. What people want from any kind of business—be it a franchise or start up business—expectations have gone up. People are always looking for something better. And if you’re not doing that, you just don’t make it.” ShopRite Wines & Spirits of Clifton now occupies 15,000 square feet; the new Crunch Fitness will occupy the remaining store space. 2019 and Beyond Rafael Cuellar said the best lesson he ever got from his father was, “Never move backwards, even to get traction.” He never has. In 2013, Cuellar earned his MBA in food marketing and management from St. Joseph’s University; today, he is hard at work on completing the Owner/ President Management Program at Harvard University, the school’s most senior executive program, expecting to finish in March. Cuellar remains fully committed and invested in his many businesses. He also owns a piece of a vertical hydroponics growth facility in Monterey, Mexico. And, though there will be more opportunities, he is content with serving his community as an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and living his life in Clifton where he and his family reside in the Montclair Heights section. Along with spending time with his family, he enjoys martial arts, playing chess and is an avid movie watcher.


January 2019 •

“That’s how I de-frag from life,” Cuellar said. Could serving in government be in his future? “Politics is not something I want to do now,” said Cuellar. “That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t consider politics after I retire, but while I’m in business and servicing communities, I just don’t feel comfortable putting myself and my family in that position. “I asked my dad the same question, like why didn’t he run for mayor. He said, ‘I don’t want anybody questioning why we do things, thinking it was all because we wanted to run the city or become mayor.’ “That made a lot of sense to me.” While not willing to run for office yet, Cuellar has experienced public service. He was a gubernatorial appointee to the New Jersey Right to Know Advisory Council and a New Jersey Assembly appointee to the Sales and Use Tax Review Commission. He was also appointed to serve on National Cooperative Bank by President George W. Bush in 2002. “I was considered for an ambassadorship,” Cuellar said, “but didn’t get it. I sat on the bank’s board of directors. It was a great honor, but not a political position— there was no influence from the administration on how to do things.” Outside business, he serves on various boards and supports organizations like the Clifton Boys & Girls Club, where he once served as a volunteer counselor when he was attending Fordham University. For 2019 and the immediate future, Cuellar will continue on his entrepreneurial path. “I would rather help people the way I’m doing, through businesses and helping different causes and organizations than in politics. That’s where I am at this stage of my life.” • January 2019


By Irene Jarosewich Elected in November to the Clifton City Council, Rosemary Pino, who just turned 40, already has years of civic service behind her. “We have a deep, vested interest in Clifton’s school system,” said Pino, who was in her fifth year serving on the Clifton Board of Education before running for council. She and husband Eric Oliver have 11 children between the ages of 2 to 21. “I struggled with the decision of whether or not to stay on the board. Quality education is a top priority for my family. I’m an instructor in adult education, my children are in primary and secondary schools, education is basic to our lives.” However, while she did not make the decision lightly, she added, “The Clifton Board of Ed is strong, and I realized that you run for city council only if you care about the well being of all parts of Clifton—and I do. I want to make sure Clifton remains the beautiful city that I grew up in.” Top-Notch Quality of Life Pino, who lived in the Bronx for 12 years before coming to Clifton, believes the city provides a top-notch quality of life for families. “After college, I decided to stay here,” she said. “My husband and I bought our home here to raise our children. I want my children to do the same. “Anybody who decides to move here with their families is not all that upset about property taxes because they understand it’s worth it. We have excellent city services on all levels from police and fire to maintenance to support for small businesses. We also have large commercial entities, such as the Route 3 corridor, to help bring in revenue. The city is managed well. You can feel it. And even though we’re not that small, 80,000 residents, we still feel intimate, like a small town.” Asked how she balances a large family, a fulltime job and civic commitment, she paused and said, “Well, you just have to do what you have to do.” She continues that she learned her work ethic from her mother. “And I’m good at multi-tasking, fortunately, that’s my nature, but


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I Want My Grandchildren to Call Clifton Home my mother was my role model. I got my ambition and drive from her and it was important to make my mom proud. She came here as an immigrant from Ecuador, knew no English, went to college nights, always emphasized the importance of education. She worked hard and expected no less from us. “Even though multi-tasking is one of my strengths, let’s face it, I could not do what I do without a great support system: my husband, my mother and mother-inlaw, and my kids. They give up time because they support my passions. They were excited when I won the election.” Vision for Clifton Pino is filled with ideas for Clifton. While education is a priority, she also has an interest in bringing more life to certain areas, such as Main Ave. and Botany Village. “Overall, Clifton has done a very nice job of moving forward, balancing issues of large scale business and housing development with concerns for school capacity and traffic, but certain neighborhoods need our attention and TLC.” She is also concerned about the balance between diversity and unity among residents. “We must embrace diversity,” she said. “It’s good for us. I don’t want to see us separate into ‘this is the Polish neighborhood, this is the Jewish area, this is for the Hispanic community—we’re all one community. The council can be critical in promoting unity through diversity.” Pino also thinks it is time for Clifton to focus on bringing in Millennials, who are entering prime home-buying age. “Now we have an aging population, a high proportion of seniors,” she said. “Millennials, many of whom put off house-buying and parenthood into their 30s, who now live and work in the city, are looking to move out. We need to promote the livability of Clifton and the excellence of our location for commuters.” Let’s Talk One of the elements of having the council engage more with the residents is to bring communications into the 21st century. • January 2019


“Our city website could be more user-friendly,” she said. “There’s a lot of information, but it’s a bit cluttered and confusing. Many times, I didn’t want to be a pest and call City Hall for information. I went to the website to try and find out, but not all that easy to find.” Besides redesign, among possible solutions to make information more accessible is a once a week online “community chat”—an online Q & A. “We have plenty of young people,” Pino said, “who could help us manage something like that and get to know our city, as well. “As a homeowner, I want to know the status of certain projects. For example, what’s the progress on the Hoffman-LaRoche campus? We’re expecting an influx of employees who will want to buy homes. Will it be finished soon and should I wait to sell or is it five years off? It’s not that easy to find an answer. Or the work on Route 46, a headache for those living on Grove and Valley. What’s the timeline?

“Another idea is that maybe two or three times a year, we hold a moderated open mike—Clifton Q & A. Not policy or budgets, more informal. Give us a chance to meet people from different neighborhoods. I want to meet citizens of Clifton. I may be a member of the council, but I am also a resident and have the same issues as my neighbors.” Part of the better communication is between not only council and residents, but also council and city workers. “I’m a bit troubled by a sense of lack of support for our police and fire,” Pino said. “After these last negotiations, there seems to be a sense of disconnect, which is worrisome. Whether a clerk at City Hall or a member of our city’s protective services, we need the support of those who work for our city. In first place must always be a sense of respect, mutual appreciation. “I love living in Clifton. We have much of which to be proud. And I want my children and their children to become proud second and third generation Cliftonites.”

Laying the Foundation for Great Futures By Irene Jarosewich


Clifton always knew that Clifton was great. Now, so does the nation. Clifton was ranked 93 in the top 100 urban places to raise children in 2017. Not 93 in New Jersey, but 93 in the entire nation. A second study published in 2017 put Clifton at 36 out of 100 cities, not just to raise children, but top place to live overall. The first study was published by a Washington DC trade organization and the second by MONEY magazine. The top rankings do not surprise Bob Foster, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Clifton. “I’ve joked with Mayor Anzaldi that the Boys & Girls Club is the reason we got these top spots.” Except, it’s no joke. When talking with local real estate agents, Foster also has heard time and time again how the Club is one of the main reasons families choose to move here. The Boys & Girls Club has been serving the youth of Clifton for 70 years, first as the Boys Club, and since 1986, the Boys & Girls Club. The history began with an emphasis on sports and evolved to the present-day organization that includes daycare, after-school programs, summer camps and annually, serves almost 10,000 Clifton youth, both members and non-members, and their families. “Our motto is ‘Great Futures Start Here’ and we live that motto everyday,” Foster said. “We enable young people to realize their potential and become productive, responsible, and caring people. We create a safe environment so that parents can go to work, can support their families, and have peace of mind knowing that they leave their children at a place they can trust.” January 2019 •

Meeting Challenges When Foster came to Clifton almost 40 years ago to join the Boys Club as Teen and Social Activities director, the Club’s activities were of a more modest “gym and swim” nature. Since then, he participated in two major expansions—one five-year, $5 million expansion in the late 1990s when the facility was built out to 95,000 square feet; and the most recent during 2017-2018, to expand training, staffing and programs. “That’s our goal for 2019, to focus on strengthening and refining the new programs that we’ve taken on,” Foster said. “We want ensure the continuing quality nature of our training, our activities.” During the past two years, the Club increased before-school care, as well as after-school programs into areas well beyond sports that include STEM tutoring, teaching about healthy lifestyles, building leadership skills, even focusing on teaching good financial management skills. The before-school and after-school care serves 1,400 children daily. The Club transports children to and from 14 elementary schools, two middle schools, and two parochial schools to participate in activities. “We are open 310 days a year, seven days a week, 14 hours per day from 7:30 am until 6:30 pm,” Foster said. “In 2017, we also ventured outside Clifton into Woodland Park. All this is run by 27 full-time and 200 part-time staff and about 300 volunteers.” While expanding training and programs was a plannedfor challenge, recent changes to New Jersey labor laws were somewhat unexpected. “Beginning next year,” he said, “employers must offer part-time workers sick leave days, and in January, the state minimum wage will increase. We need to find ways to finance these new expenses.”

former alumni. In Clifton, it is all a network and it’s intertwined. It’s not a battle, it’s a working relationship, not a competition, but cooperation, which makes it so much easier.” Not only is Foster optimistic about future support for the Club, he’s grateful for the support he personally received recently as he underwent a rough spot regarding his health. “2017 and 2018 were rough health years for me. I got great support from staff, and my great thanks to them. Overall, Clifton is a community that cares. “That is what Clifton is all about. I personally experienced this. The desire to help is out there. All you have to do is ask.”

Community Support Foster is optimistic these challenges will be met. “In Clifton,” he noted, “we have loyal supporters, alumni that are 2nd, 3rd even 5th generation. Many Club alumni are among our 28-member board, and the board drives the fundraising. This year our budget increased to $5.4 million, and that is before the upcoming changes to administrative expenses. In years to come, it will be more. “Fortunately, we have the support of the mayor and the council. They reach out and speak with local businesses on our behalf. We have a tight working relationship with the school system. Numerous teachers in the district are also • January 2019


Freshman Marina Beshay, Sophomore Niurka Honores, Junior Nicole Ozga and Senior Darwin Diaz.

January has arrived for Mustangs of the Month.

The vice principals from each Clifton High wing have spotlighted four students who have gotten a head start on the latest activities on the campus, one from each grade. Darwin Diaz Senior Darwin Diaz thinks a lot about history, his favorite subject. “It’s truly incredible that humans can know what our ancestors did so long ago,” Diaz said. “No other animal can do what we can do. Studying the dynamics of power between nations and how that same power affects us, common laymen and women, after so many years provides a level of clairvoyance that is nothing short of magical. “If studied correctly,” he added, “this window to the past can act like a mirror for the future.” Along with focusing on his studies, Diaz maintains a sometimes hectic pace as president of two clubs, the Model United Nations (a club he started this year) and the Clifton Student Union. He is also a member of Academic Decathlon and Girls Learn International (GLI). Among his inspirations is Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian Formula One legend. “Watching videos of Senna blaze through the race tracks,” Diaz said, “was not the reason most people admire him. Senna was a poet. When he’d get on the microphone for a post-race conference, the passion he spoke with would bleed out of the TV screen and into my heart. “Hearing someone love what they do so much inspired me.”


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Nicole Ozga Nicole Olga has overcome a lot at CHS, both physically and emotionally. As a soccer and lacrosse goalie, the junior is familiar with being “banged, scratched and bruised.” But those sacrifices are worth it, Ozga said, “when it comes to winning games and having fun with all of my teammates.” Emotionally, Ozga had to work on learning more about herself and not being concerned with fitting in. “I did end up making great friends,” she said, “friends who did appreciate me for the way I am, who cared for me and even though I still have insecurities like any other person. I faced a storm and saw the rainbow after.” Helping her create that rainbow are two positive influences—her older sister, a strong and independent person who acts as Ozga’s role model, and English teacher Ms. Derose-Travia, whom Ozga described as “kind, patient and funny.” The junior also enjoys helping with her church and being involved with the children’s choir where she plays guitar. Ozga plans to attend college after CHS and is interested in the medical field, primarily in nutrition. “I wish to help people struggling with their eating habits and/or disorders,” she said, “to help them eat healthily.”

Niurka Honores For inspiration, sophomore Niurka Honores has a rather unique role model for a 2019 student: singer Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll.” “Elvis Presley inspires me the most,” Honores said, “because he went against the social norms of the time and wasn’t afraid to put himself out there despite the criticism.” Neither is Honores, though it’s hard to criticize her drive. Along with concentrating on her studies, especially her favorite subjects Chemistry, Anatomy and Physiology, she is active in CHS extracurricular activities. “I am in Academic Decathlon,” she said, “Pre-med, Key Club, Psychology Club, and I am also in Strings. I used to be in the Dance Club, but wasn’t able to audition this year. I would really like to join again next year.” She said her friends have been helpful as she navigates her school years. “I am with my close friends often,” Honores said, “and being with them throughout middle school and my two years of high school, along with their support, is what really helped me transition comfortably from middle school to high school.”

“Yes, there is more work but there are also very enjoyable things about high school such as the extracurricular activities. You also get to meet new people.” Helping her through the high school adjustment are two significant people. “Mr. Onacilla,” said Beshay, “has been most influential to me because he has taught me that you have to work hard in order to earn the things you want. He has showed me that success does not

come easily.” Providing an example for that success is her mom. “My mom inspires me most,” Beshay said. “She has dedicated her life to making sure my family and I have what we need to be happy, and for her, our happiness is enough.” In the future, Beshay wants to explore CHS’s academic offerings, like the Bergen, PCCC, Academies and Montclair State University programs.

Marina Beshay Freshman Marina Beshay has thus far enjoyed her time in high school. She is a member of the freshmen volleyball team and finds her favorite subject Social Studies “interesting and enjoyable.” Beshay has also experienced a positive transition from middle school to CHS. “It was not as difficult as I thought it would be,” she said. • January 2019


Follow the adventures of the young lion Simba (Zoe Leader), when these Woodrow Wilson Middle School students present the Lion King Musical on Feb. 7 and 8. Leads are (in order of appearance): Rafiki-Stefanie Feliciano, Mufasa-Aidan Robinson, Sarabi-Deijah Kelly, Zazu-Ioulia Vergis, Scar-Jesus Llerena, Young Simba-Ryan Wellins, Simba-Robert Cruz, Young Nala-Negin Saidian, Nala-Lillyann Martins, Sarafina-Lily Kearney, Banzai-Gabriella Perez, Shenzi-Mia Fardin, Ed-Irem Kara, Timon-Mark Tarkany, Pumbaa-Tristan Rivera. Simba’s wicked uncle, Scar, plots to usurp Mufasa’s throne by luring father and son into a stampede of wildebeests. Simba escapes but his father Mufasa is killed. Simba returns as an adult to take back his homeland from Scar with the help of his friends Timon and Pumbaa.

Turn off the Stress: This free intro session on managing stress, offered in conjunction with the Clifton Public Library, is presented by Kim Castellano from Power of One, on Jan. 12, from 1 to 3 pm at the Main Memorial Library on 292 Piaget Ave. Learn exercises to direct you to where you’re experiencing the highest levels of stress. Start taking steps to turn off the stress. Register at or call 201-328-2326.


Learn Adult CPR, AED and First Aid training at the Annual “Your Heart is in My Hands” Safety Rally on Feb. 9, from 8:30 am to 4 pm. Clifton Rec provides this American Red Cross certified training at a reduced cost of $35. Topics include caring for a choking victim, CPR, care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, avoiding blood borne pathogen exposure, recognize emergency situations, care for wounds, burns, heat and cold emergencies, manage sudden illnesses, stroke, shock, seizure, bites and use of EPI pen. For more info or to register, go to or call 973-470-5956. Those who pass all skills and written requirements will receive a certification valid for two years. January 2019 •

Tune in to the Food Network on Jan. 7 at 9 pm to cheer on one of Clifton’s best young bakers. School 11’s Jenna Alnatur, 9, will be competing in the Kids Baking Championship against 11 other children from around the country. They’ll be tested in difficult dessert challenges from sugar cookies to mini cheesecakes, and from macarons to brownies and blondies. “I learned how to bake with my mom,” said Jenna. “I’ve always loved baking since I was about 3 years old, but didn’t really start until I was 5. The only place I could bake was at home.” Stars Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman will mentor the young bakers as they compete for a grand prize of $25,000. Jenna, whose parents are mom Suhair and dad Tarek, said her favorite thing to bake is cakes and cookies. “But as long as it’s from scratch,” she said, “I really love it all!” After increasing her culinary knowledge from watching Food Network shows and YouTube videos, Jenna was ready for prime time. “My experience on the show was really awesome,” she said. “They had all the ingredients in the world so whatever I thought of I found it in that magnificent pantry! I was

definitely a little nervous but I was so excited to be on my favorite show and it was amazing to meet Duff and Val. “It was seriously a dream come true and half the time it didn’t even feel real!” This season showcases exciting new challenges featuring the latest dessert trends, lots of irresistible sweets, and tons of flavor and fun. Throughout the 10 episodes, Jenna and her competitors show off their skills and creativity as they whip up impressive confections—from freaky flavor tarts using ingredients like jalapeno, goat cheese yuzu and anise, to dramatically erupting monkey bread volcanoes. • January 2019


Birthdays & Celebrations - January 2019

Happy Birthday to.... Send dates & names ....

Birthday greetings to Barbara Bivaletz (Jan. 5) and hubby Steve (Jan. 9) who both celebrate 64! Austin Blesing turns 13 on Jan. 17. Emma Luz Swede is 2 on Jan. 7. Isabel Victoria Calvo turns 3 on Jan. 12.

Cindy Hawrylko is 28 Jan. 22. Skylar De Santis turns 14 on Jan 17. Alyssa Philhower & Becca Potocki share a birthday on Jan 1. Vicky Petrovic will party on Jan. 5. Send birthday wishes to Bob Sandri on Jan. 6. Congratulations to Paul Guzowski and Cecelia Roesch who got engaged September 21, 2018. Shaun LaGala.................... Marek Rzasa...................... Connie Zangara................. Chrissy Cetinich.................. Matthew Delaney................ Amanda Esposito................ Kristin Reilly........................ Steven Hrina...................... Rosalie Konopinski.............. Ray Krenc.......................... Emily Zawicki..................... James Dohm....................... Rich Peterson...................... Mohamad Bekheet..............


1/1 1/1 1/1 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/3 1/4 1/4 1/5

January 2019 •

Missy Fazio........................ 1/5 Alexander Ortiz.................. 1/5 Jeremy Delaney.................. 1/6 Gay Eaclie......................... 1/6 Amanda Curtiss.................. 1/9 Ariana Hryckowian............. 1/9 Joseph Perzely.................... 1/9 Fatma Bekheet.................. 1/10 Ronald Calo..................... 1/10 Richie DeMarco................ 1/10 Michael Gorny................. 1/11 Katy Sokolik..................... 1/11 Nicole Unis...................... 1/11 Megan Duffy.................... 1/12

Daisy Colman................... Olivia Dohm..................... Rob Generalli................... Joe Musleh....................... Ernie Rodrigues................ Mark Stuart...................... Kyle Santiago................... Susan Hernandez............. Jennifer Montanile............. Matthew Soprano............. Anna Tatarenko................ Kim Barilari...................... Erica Pangilinan................ Lindsay Dueben................

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Luke Falzo........................ Payton Bogatch................. Douglas Ciallella.............. Matthew Gorun................ Daniel Shackil.................. Evelyn Montague.............. Cheryl Vigh...................... Catherine Coloccia........... Greg Collucci................... Jamie Mikolajczyk............. Anna Redling................... Larissa Unis...................... Robert Duffy..................... Ashley Gagnon................. Debbi Koch...................... Michelle Nahass............... Karen Rice....................... Michael Bandurski............ Gianna Caramucci............ Nicholas Grippo............... Scott Crawford................. Patrick Ferrara III............... Robert C. Henn................. Stephanie Smith................ Alexis Camp.................... Donna Chipura................. Laura Kuruc...................... Sean Sabo....................... Evangeline Joy Kohler........ Jessica Sonn.....................

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Angely Sotomba will celebrate her 7th birthday on Jan. 26. • January 2019




January 2019 •

Clifton’s Marvin Roman has always been a fan of the magic of Disney. Now, he’ll be part of that magic. This month, Roman, a 2015 CHS graduate, will head to Orlando, Fla., to take part in the sixmonth Disney College Program. Working and studying at one or more of the Disney parks, he will gain valuable, on-the-job experience and participate in college coursework. Roman will also get to network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication. Will he don a suit and be a character? “While at CHS,” Roman said, “I always wanted to act, but was self-conscious and a little shy.” That will change at Disney as Roman will be working a 40-hour week in “the most magical place on earth.” “We are very excited that he has been accepted into the program,” said Roman’s parents, Jerry and Vanessa Gonzalez, “because growing up, he has always been a fan of Disney. We are very proud of this accomplishment.” A junior at Montclair State, Roman is studying to become a physical education teacher. He will resume his MSU studies this summer.

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