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Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Letter From the
“This Is My Community And It Is My Responsibility To Make It Better.” - Studs Terkel
We’ve been called Clifton’s Storyteller and it is a title I really appreciate. Over the 22 years since its founding in 1995, this magazine has become a voice for the good things going on here. That’s why next to my photo I chose to use that quote by the late newsman Studs Terkel, who chronicled the lives of everyday Americans for decades. I believe the responsibility of this magazine is to help our hometown grow by chronicling its changes and evolution. On the first Friday of every month, our pages are filled with stories and photos of Clifton residents, its schools, businesses, and civic life. There are historical accounts of sports and social events, personal stories about life and living in Clifton today. To accomplish this, we put a lot of time into what is published on these pages. Nothing here is simply thrown together. Our writers and designers paint the tales of today as well as those of our community’s history and sports with great care and knowledge.
Our hometown turns 100 on April 26 and in that month we hope to publish our largest magazine ever. We will be picking up Clifton’s history from where we left off this past August. Our timeline will begin in 1980 and while we have some stories ready to go, we need your help to make it come alive. Please send us notes and photos which you think may help give perspective to how Clifton grew in the years from 1980 to 1989. Our goal is to continue to be the diary of Clifton, a publication that grows and changes with our city. Thanks to the advertisers who invest in our pages and the readers and subscribers who look forward to our monthly photos and stories, we will continue to grow. Our magazine exists from the ad support of the business community, so please, if you like what we do on these pages, please support us with advertising. I am proud to be at the helm of this publication and to write these words: As Clifton Grows, So Do We. 16,000 Magazines are distributed to hundreds of Clifton Merchants on the first Friday of every month.
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Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
and potential opportunity to shape An “empty” 111-acre parcel of their joint future for the better. land, a rare commodity in northern Rather than rapidly fill the void New Jersey, may hold the key to with big box stores or residential Clifton’s future for decades. So units, Clifton officials says Clifton Councilman seek a long-term replaceSteve Hatala, who’s deterClifton continues to plan for a massive ment. mined to help shape the makeover at the Roche site, and to “Clifton took a very door such a key will open. maximize the social and economic hard line approach,” The “empty” property benefits that can come with it. Hatala said in an interview ia the site of Roche By Douglas John Bowen last month. “We said to Holdings, straddling the Nutley: Don’t look at this Clifton/Nutley border as an issue of a year or two. We have to look 20, 25 years south of Route 3. Acquired by Genentech, Inc. in 2008, into the future.” Thanks to one influential Nutley official Roche in 2012 announced its intent to pull up stakes for whom Hatala praised lavishly, “That’s exactly what’s Genentech’s South San Francisco, Calif. headquarters, happening” as both Nutley and Clifton team up. giving Clifton and Nutley a potential fiscal headache – 6 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
An overview of the Roche property and, as issues emerge at the site, the Star-Ledger reports on Dec. 15, 2016.
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In Jan. 2003 our magazine began discussing the issue of Smart Growth and asking about future plans.
Hatala stressed that Nutley’s commitment is not to be taken lightly. “Roche generated close to 20% of Nutley’s ratable income; Clifton’s percentage was very small by comparison.” Indeed, he added, “Clifton is one of two towns in north Jersey that actually had ratable growth in the last five years. Everyone else has declined, even with tax appeals.” Interest is intense, diverse The project will commence with the establishment of Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, an equal partnership between Hackensack University Health Network and Seton Hall University, which was officially announced in June 2015. Construction will begin with a small medical school as the nexus, expanding incrementally. But the school likely won’t be the only big-time player in the mix – just the first, Hatala said. Clifton is receiving feelers, and reviewing outright offers, from a numbers of other players. Those feelers come from, among others, a major hotel chain and two universities – both well-known and respected; one of them an Ivy League entity. “On our 51 acres, we will be getting new construction; almost all the new construction is on the Clifton side,” Hatala noted. “A PILOT plan [Payment In Lieu Of Taxes] will cover 100% of the municipal tax portion.” Considerable interest has surfaced from biotech companies, both in and out of state, Hatala said. Research & development firms also have touched base with Clifton, as has a well-known company known best for its fashion expertise. “It’s going to come down to the tax credits and tax breaks that the state and municipalities offer,” Hatala said. The Roche site, he noted, is considered by New Jersey to be “a distressed area for redevelopment,” though the site itself is in “relatively good shape.” Such a designation qualifies the site for federal and state funding opportunities, including state tax credits. Those credits could matter to nearby corporate interests, Hatala said. “New York has a 10-year tax plan but the clock is ticking. When 10 years is up many companies are concerned with what the tax bill might be. 8 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
They’re hurting for more room, something we can offer with our proximity to New York.” He added, “We’ve met with one player already, currently in New York, that is looking at coming out to the property as a relocation.” Hatala cautiously anticipated a public announcement of some sort this spring. Hatala pointedly noted the critical support for the city’s efforts from state Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin and Congressman Bill Pascrell. “They’ve have been very helpful. The state as a whole has been very helpful,” he said. In total, Clifton anticipates potential job growth of 3,500 to 6,000 full-time employees. Weeding out alternatives Hatala, partnering with Mayor James Anzaldi in discussions with Nutley and in current negotiations with corporate interests as Clifton’s point persons, have tapped input from the City Council and other sources to clarify what the city does not want for the site’s future. “Clifton does not want dorms, because they’d also be tax exempt,” Hatala offered as one example. “We’ve encouraged apartment use – Richfield apartments, Styertowne apartments, some apartments in Nutley – for much of the housing needs the site may generate.” Seton Hall-Hackensack’s medical school has offered to fund and run shuttle buses to serve such complexes. Aesthetics also factor in. “We’d love to see buildings with a lot of greenery, maybe with underground parking,” Hatala observed. “I like that it’s because we get a double ratable – for the building and the parking as a permanent structure.” But such an approach, he acknowledged, would be “very expensive to build, so we need some high-powered players. One-year tenants won’t be interested in such an arrangement.” “We wanted no housing and no big box retail,” Hatala said. “We don’t want that because we have existing malls in the area.” Clifton officials were also wary of truck distribution proposals and resultant tieups on Route 3 and Bloomfield Ave. “How the heck would they get off at Styertowne?” Hatala asked rhetorically.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Calculating social benefits Though the councilman takes pride in his numbers crunching and fiscal acumen, Hatala acknowledged the need to balance the financial goals with the social impact on Clifton. “We do not want companies that are seasonal employers. We wanted reasonable paying jobs with benefits, long-term permanent jobs that would benefit people seeking to live and work in the area. We’ve tried to look downstream; what would be the effect on business, traffic, living conditions?” As one example, Clifton has rejected recreation facilities at the Roche site that might fall “too close to residential areas.” Rejected, too, was additional automotive access linking the site directly to Delawanna, due to pollution, noise, and congestion impacts. In the longer run, again, the mantra was to “not just look at the money,” Hatala insisted. “The money is going to come. Let’s look as well at the altruistic social things we can do for the town” that redevelopment could assist. For example, Clifton has inquired whether the new medical school might provide student access to its labs, or internships. “And if the youngsters are qualified, could Clifton get any preferential treatment?” he speculated.
10 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Such arrangements, he cautioned, would fall under a voluntary developer agreement. “You cannot force them to do it,” he qualified. “But maybe arrangements can be made for equipment in kind, donations in kind.” Though such uncertainties remain, Hatala noted and praised his fellow Clifton officials for preparations prior to Roche’s departure. “Clifton was planning for the inevitability that Roche might relocate to the West Coast, so we put money aside each year,” he said – no small effort, given that some of the process occurred during the Great Recession. Moreover, he said, Clifton’s high bond rating relative to many of its neighbors is a source of fiscal strength to address both fiscal and social needs. And, last month’s increase in the Federal benchmark interest rate notwithstanding, “It’s a great time to borrow,” Hatala said. Perhaps more than any other development in Clifton’s recent memory, “This is the lifeline of the city for the next 40 or 50 years,” Hatala declared. “You’re talking about extremely solvent and liquid companies, with a record of profitability. All these companies are going to expand their job force.” If he’s right, Clifton’s future looks brighter than ever.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
For Dr. Bonita Stanton, establishing New Jersey’s first new medical facility in a half-century on the Clifton-Nutley border isn’t a trophy development or even a modern improvement. It’s a moral and fiscal imperative. Stanton, in her position as founding dean for Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, is busy preparing for the school’s inaugural class of medical students, slated to arrive on campus during mid-July 2018, with classes commencing in the fall. When they arrive, the operative goal will be a focus on well-being – for patients, for community, and for the students and faculty themselves. “For so long, medicine was focused on ‘curing,’ then it broadened to ‘curing and preventing,’” Stanton observed during an interview with Clifton Merchant Magazine. “New schools have become more attuned to this, because AAMC [the Association of American Medical Colleges] is helping to address this issue. It’s hard to be thinking about health and illness if you’re not thinking about the patient, ” she said. 12 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
A quantifiable investment Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine plans to address that issue directly, and not just deal with illnesses after they’ve occurred. “These aren’t radical ideas, but existing medical schools have not been built around this notion,” Stanton suggested. “The idea of teaching to train students to encompass the role of wellness ... it’s easier to start with a clean slate, which we’re doing. A tremendous portion of our curriculum will be focused on the patient in the home and the community. That’s radically different from primary care.” Such thinking has gained some ground in recent years, she acknowledged, “but there’s this reality that it’s way easier to start a program that aren’t encumbered by the old way of doing things.” It’s also more fiscally efficient, Stanton asserted. “It’s an investment, and that’s not a hypothesis,” she said. “Much of New Jersey’s health care system is borne at the state level. This medical school, a 501(c)3 joint partnership with Seton Hall and HUMC-Meridian, means we’re beginning to change the culture of the whole delivery system for the better.”
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Stanton breaks the need down into two components. “The way we’re proposing our medical education, and therefore subsequent medical care, is essential for two reasons. First, it’s morally socially essential. There’s no reason everyone can’t have the best available care.” “Second, for those not driven by such considerations for whatever reason, it’s financially the only way our nation can afford it,” she said. “The US has far and away the most expensive health care,” and relative to developed nations in Europe “almost uniformly the worst health outcome. We have really lousy health care outcome compared to our peers, and out-of-control costs. So even if one rejects the notion of social consciousness, financially it makes no sense.” Why has the US lagged behind other developed nations if the economics are so arranged? “It’s not a Twitter answer,” Stanton responded. “Some reasons might have made sense in the past, but people fail to realize how expensive poor health outcomes have become.” Stanton argued that, in fact, the negative tandem of high cost and low effectiveness “is the only outcome in the United States. We cannot afford the direction we’re going in. We can’t afford what the nation needs for other things, such as infrastructure, for instance, because we’re
spending so much at a terribly expensive rate on health care. A very poor outcome is occurring in the US and it’s the only outcome in the United States. We cannot afford the direction we’re going in. We can’t afford what we need for other things because we’re spending so poorly on our medical system.” Creating a new pathway The school’s inaugural students arriving on campus in the autumn of 2018 will have a chance to contribute to a medical sea change with better care and lower costs as converging goals, and not as opposing forces. “Usually any inaugural class is very special class; they’re obviously risk takers, and they have to set the tone and set the pace” for any new medical institution, Stanton observed. “It’s a privilege for us to offer such an opportunity, and we hope it’s a privilege for them, as well.” Stanton added that the AAMC is watching the nascent school’s establishment efforts closely to make sure it deserves accreditation. “They’ve made that concern very transparent; they’re focused on how to protect medical students so those students aren’t at risk,” she said. The new facility is well on its way to establishing its bona fides. Early last year the New Jersey Board
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of Medical Examiners granted conditional approval to the project, subject to the approval from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), itself jointly sponsored by AAMC and the American Medical Association (AMA). The LCME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the authority for the accreditation of medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree. Seton Hall’s College of Nursing and its School of Health and Medical Sciences will move from their present location on the University’s main campus in South Orange to the former Roche site, aiding the accreditation effort. But Stanton acknowledged that even if the school’s launch is sound, one can expect the unexpected. “We’ll be attracting people poking at the envelope,” be they students or faculty, she said. “There almost certainly will be some ambiguity, and some decisions we’ve made that we might revisit. That happens a little bit every year in any school, to be sure, but in a new school it happens a little more often.” Long road to accreditation In trying to anticipate potential problems, Stanton and the current permanent staff of nine are being aided by 217 volunteers drawn from Seton Hall, Hackensack University Medical Center, government agencies, and even non-governmental organizations, to complete the accreditation process. The first step, Stanton quipped, was relatively easy: “Deposit money.” She continued, “Step two, where we are now, is preliminary accreditation. We’re working on completion of the data collection instruments (DCI). It’s 119 pages of questions, with only a couple of yes/no answers.” Though “we’re close to wrapping the DCI up,” some answers required 30 to 40 pages of text, Stanton said, again noting, “It’s not a Twitter exercise.” Among the next tasks: completing a 35-page document to be written by the volunteer group, Self-Study, to look at the DCI just produced. “In essence it asks: What are the strengths you described? [And] what are the possible risks if you go wrong, and what have you done to minimize that? “Initially I thought: Why are they asking me to critique what we just wrote?” Stanton said with a laugh. “But it’s a safeguard or cross check.” 16 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
In June 2015, Hackensack University Medical Center and Seton Hall University signed an agreement to form a new, four-year school of medicine. Standing at left are Patrick Murray, chair of Seton Hall’s Board, and Joseph Simunovich, chair of HUMC’s Board. Seated are A. Gabriel Esteban, president of SHU, and Robert Garrett, president of HUMC. Photo by Michael Paras.
Factoring the faculty influence Stanton is comfortable with being a team player, including work as an advisor to the World Health Organization and in her previous stint as vice dean for research at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit. She believes the new school’s faculty, drawn in part from Seton Hall, in part from HUMC, and including new arrivals, will make a formidable impact when the school debuts. And the new school is potentially a big draw. “A lot of physicians and educators are interested in developing new programs,” Stanton said. “We have a wonderful ‘problem’ in that we have a lot of people who want to join us.” That’s in addition to the able staff already on hand, she added, who contribute a “diversity of viewpoints,” and come from “enormously different backgrounds.” Stanton said the medical school currently is in its first round of faculty recruitment, “and we’ll be picking up speed over the next 12 months.”
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Faculty’s role in any “optimal health” approach will prove key, since faculty will teach the doctors of tomorrow, who will in turn address their patients – some remaining with Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, while others journey to other locales. The goal, said Stanton, is “to make certain that when our students graduate and enter residencies, they are well equipped to address the total well-being of our patients. It’s not just treating illness. It’s tending to each patient, each child and adult, so they will enjoy the maximum results.” Needs within New Jersey One might hope those residencies would include numerous New Jersey communities. Stanton certainly hopes so. “New Jersey is not the worst offender” when it comes to outdated health care vision, she allowed, citing some examples of flawed healthcare function elsewhere in the US, but “in the Northeast, it doesn’t look as good as our peer states. “But we’ll be delivering a positive message. If we train our physicians to recognize the importance of main-
18 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
taining health, if they’re trained to be thinking and intervening early on, it will bring down costs,” she said. To delay a preventative approach of wellness means patients simply enter the health care system “at a far more expensive level,” she said, again rebutting the arguments of others who advocate something else with a “live and let die” attitude. “You can pay now, or pay probably much more later. We still end up paying,” Stanton stated. “When you are a nation, and a nation filled with citizens — even if you got rid of supposed ‘outsiders’ — it is US citizens who, one way or the other, society ends up paying for,” Stanton said. “In terms of crime. In terms of lost productivity and absenteeism. Or with special social programs. How much better if those programs could be positive. “I’m delighted that we share that perspective along with the leadership at Seton Hall and HUMC,” she added. Come 2018, Dean Dr. Bonita Stanton plans to put that perspective into practice, in hopes of displaying a better way to deliver health care to New Jersey residents, courtesy of a brand new medical powerhouse.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
By Douglas John Bowen
City Manager Nick Villano carries the burden of keeping city infrastructure functional. The lifelong engineer welcomes the challenge.
Composers create music blueprints. But they rely on wand-toting conductors to turn their creations into music one can hear. So call Clifton City Manager Dominick “Nick” Villano the orchestral leader of the city’s infrastructure. He oversees the process of turning fiscal dollars into usable, stable infrastructure that serves Clifton’s 85,000 residents of today – and those who will call the city home tomorrow. “I’m putting more emphasis on planning for the future. It’s important,” Villano said in an interview last month at his City Hall office. “I have a three-year, fiveyear, and 10-year plan. You don’t want to spin your wheel putting out fires” due to lack of planning, he said. It’s a give-and-take process. Villano consults with the City Council on perceived needs, but in the end the council acts as composer; it determines the funding priorities. Villano is the conductor; “my main function is to develop a budget” addressing Clifton’s priorities. Or, actually, two or three budgets. “The city recently separated items into city budget and utility budget. Until 2008, sewer issues were part of the city budget. In 2014 it was separated” into a utility budget, he said. Storm drain and sewer issues also fall under the utility budget. 20 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
On top of all that, Clifton has a capital budget for longterm or critical construction. The goal is for any budget to be lean yet cost-effective. But the future can always hold surprises. “If anything goes wrong, even if people retire, I need a little reserve for things like that,” Villano pointed out. If an underground pipeline suddenly fails unexpectedly, fiscal strain results as well. Dealing with aging assets Both a Civil Engineer and Professional Engineer, Villano worked in the private sector from 1979 to 2010, serving both municipal and private developers, with experience in designing, preparer of plans and specifications, construction management, cost estimating, and budgeting. All of that was good preparation for overseeing Clifton’s public works, from visible roadways to underground sewers. In February 2010 Clifton hired Villano as the City Engineer. In September 2014, he stepped into the role of Clifton City Manager. Clifton’s aging infrastructure presents an everyday challenge, in many ways little different from other
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Outlook 2017 northern New Jersey communities. Some city sewer lines have passed the century mark, Villano noted. But perhaps better than its neighbors, “I believe Clifton has tried to stay ahead of the curve,” he said, praising his predecessors for their efforts. Clifton also is blessed with separate systems for storm water and sewage, avoiding the pollution of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) prevalent in numerous Northeast locales. But out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind for Villano. Problems range from broken sewer pipes to illegal connections to connections added piecemeal over the decades in legal but sporadic fashion. And grease remains a serious problem, from Main Ave. to Allwood, Villano noted, though the root causes have shifted over the years. “Grease was predominantly a commercial issue, due to restaurants and so forth. Now it’s becoming more residential. We’re working to educate people on that,” Villano said. Environmental considerations weigh more heavily nowadays, as well. Villano cited one sample of work rerouting sewage flow at Alonzo F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve east of Grove St. “The sewer near the Montclair Swim Club went through the nature preserve, along the brook [Third River], in the middle of the preserve,” Villano recounted. “We allocated $6 million to take the old sewer out of Montclair and put it within our municipal boundary line.” The project thus improved system reliability and environmental quality, and “will pay itself off over time,” Villano stressed. No mandate came from the state of New Jersey or the federal government in this case, but finances permitting, “we’ve taken the initiative to do these kinds of projects, with an eye to the future.” It’s a long-range approach Villano inherited from his prede-
22 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
cessors and, again, one he ardently believes holds considerable merit. Government assistance for storm water projects, prompted in part by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, has been forthcoming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Villano said. “You see some big pipes, up to 90 inches in diameter; an adult can walk through them,” he said, trying to paint the scale of such installations. Variables abound No one size fits all, the City Manager said, when it comes to Clifton’s location. “It’s quite diverse, in terms of topography or geology. You can be working in shale or in sand. Albion is very different from Botany,” Villano said. “It helps to know what you’re dealing with.” City employees also require a flexible approach, or in simpler terms a human touch. Villano’s years in the private sector spurs him to make public sector operations more efficient and cost-effective, but not at the expense of the workforce involved. “You want your staff to be motivated, and if you cut corners with them unnecessarily, they’ll be prone to return the favor,” Villano said. “So we try to get the DPW the right equipment for the job. We want staff to have proper, useful uniforms so they can do their work well, and with pride. If your employee is happy and valued, he or she will produce.” Villano makes an effort to visit sites himself to get a feel for a project, “and not just during work hours. I want to see for myself, whether it’s housing complaints or property maintenance. Sometimes I feel we’re not reacting fast enough, but at least a homeowner or resident will know there’s someone he or she can approach.”
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Outlook 2017 Well-maintained equipment matters to any such effort. Surprisingly, though, despite Clifton’s large size, equipment deterioration comes more from age than from mileage wear and tear or from overuse, Villano said. “Sometimes it comes from just sitting around; we try to address that problem, as well,” he noted. Buying new gear isn’t always the answer. Villano pointed out that the Council members Steven Hatala, Jr., William Gibson, Mayor Jim Anzaldi, city’s salt trucks have acquired stainLauren Murphy, Ray Grabowski, Peter Eagler, Joseph Kolodziej. less steel bodies resistant to corrosion, thus lengthening the truck’s potential said. “Often, perhaps too often, we find ourselves doing lifespan. “If the engine is solid, why go out and buy a it alone.” new truck?” he asked rhetorically. When new vehicles are the option, Clifton does its Welcoming the new best to shop smart. “We average [buying] roughly 10 Villano is among those eagerly anticipating – and police vehicles a year,” he said, “and we recently opted planning for – development of the Roche property adjafor new SUVs; they offer officers more room, and they cent to Route 3. also have four-wheel drive. The cost was not that much “I view it as a positive,” he said. “Yes, we’re going different” from previous standard police sedan cruisers, through a few years of tightening our belt [due to a loss Villano said. in tax ratables]. However, if you look at the makeup, the area on the Clifton side currently is predominately parkFilling government gaps ing lots. I see development as a rejuvenation of the For Villano, the annoyance factor runs highest where Roche property.” Clifton is expected to cover for the relative shortcomings Proper planning matters, as does “good corporate of county or state partners. “What I’m finding is that we clients,” he observed. “We don’t want to add a lot of take on some of the problems that are not necessarily housing or another mall.” Both police and fire departcity-owned problems,” Villano said. ment heads have offered input on the project and its Passaic County is responsible for plowing county impact on personnel needs, though no decisions have yet roads such as Main Ave., and it does, but also leaves been made. As business agreements are reached and snow behind at corners or other locales that interfere development begins on Clifton’s portion of the property, with car and/or foot traffic. “We often remove the snow the city will prepare for what evolves, Villano vowed. the county should have,” Villano said. “It costs, but how Regardless of one’s take of the Roche project, it’s an long should we wait? Our residents and businesses unusual infrastructure challenge Clifton doesn’t face expect good service.” Graffiti removal, also a state or routinely. “Clifton is pretty well built up,” Villano said. county issue at times, often gets removed by Clifton’s “We don’t have any (other) large parcels. More often, DPW; “we’ll send our guys out when we just can’t wait we’re knocking something down to put up something any longer, because we don’t want to leave the problem new.” And with a citywide low vacancy rate, there are unaddressed and, perhaps, to grow.” “few buildings sitting idle.” Even a state entity – in one case, New Jersey Transit If Clifton keeps its physical infrastructure in shipCorp. – can fall short, in Villano’s view, when it comes shape, businesses and residents can count on the necesto bus stop facilities, such as on Allwood Road adjacent sary services making the city viable and desirable for to the Garden State Parkway. “We have an agreement on years to come. who handles snow, who handles litter, and so forth,” he Nick Villano is optimistic that Clifton can do just that. 24 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Clifton’s hometown bank sets its sights on regional commercial prospects, but keeps itself grounded in, and focused on, its residential home turf. By Douglas John Bowen
What’s CSBK’s New Year’s resolution? Simple: Stay the course; stay focused. Keep growing. That’s the message CSBK President and CEO Paul Aguggia continues to send as Clifton’s hometown bank, “the forever bank,” charts its way into 2017, expanding both its physical and marketing presence while making sure its traditional customers are well cared for. Aguggia stressed that “traditional customers” includes “Clifton customers, expansion and diversification notwithstanding. “We consider Clifton to be an important part of our strategic initiatives,” he asserted during an interview last month. “There’s no reason for us not be the bank, with greater market share, in Clifton.” Added Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Loan Officer Diane Scriveri, “We’re ‘your forever bank.’” That said, the forever bank – still known by Clifton customers, CSBK employees, and even the company website as Clifton Savings Bank – is firmly establishing itself as a larger presence. During 2016, “we continued 26 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Diane Scriveri, EVP with Paul Aguggia, CEO
to see organic growth, both in terms of physical locations (Montclair, Hoboken) and in growing our balance sheet, primarily through lending,” Aguggia noted. “We really see that being a major initiative in 2017. “We’ve also expanded on our lending side to cover all of New Jersey, as well as New York City.” Commercial lending expands Scriveri, a CSBK newcomer with three months at the company under her belt as December ended, will apply her career experience with lending, including for real estate, even as she tailors the effort to maintain a human touch to the business similar to what the bank offers its residential customers. “We’re very high touch, high tech,” she explained. “We meet with the community people involved, face to face. That is attractive to local business owners and operators. We’re out with the local people that are building,” whether it’s Hudson County’s Gold Coast or back at home in Clifton, which Scriveri emphasized is “an important community” offering vast potential.
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Outlook 2017 As well, she said, developing municipal relationships “opens up another whole platform” for CSBK business. Added CEO Aguggia, “We’re going to make 2017 a year of implementing even more of our strategic initiatives, making sure all of us, everyone, is following the same sheet of music. With Diane joining us, we’ll continue on the same page, bridging old and new.” The result should be expanded name Some of the CSBK Officers: Bart D’Ambra, Chief Operating Officer (who just retired), Linda Fisher, Senior Loan Officer, Rich Bzdek, recognition as CSBK becomes a larger presEnterprise Risk Manager, Tricia Hrotko, Chief Revenue Officer, Steve ence in the commercial and large multifamiHoogerhyde, Chief Lending Officer. ly real estate markets, “especially with open question. One reason why we’re seeking millenniDiane’s arrival, and our being out actively in the commuals, and trying to attract them, is because we think and nity,” Aguggia said. “Now people are beginning to know believe that the savings rate will go up. And we want to us for other aspects of the business.” be the bank to serve them. Yes, we value our existing customers, who tend to be better savers. But we also Commitment to residential want to attract new customers. We think we can.” But the “old” aspect, the residential bank business, is “It’s an educational process, providing access and something CSBK officials insist won’t be forgotten, information through certain platforms, especially those won’t be demoted, won’t suffer in any way, Aguggia millennials will recognize,” whether commercial or resemphasized. idential, Scriveri said. “It’s a matter of getting them to “We remain committed to the 1-to-4 family lending start. We have to be very nimble to do that.” product, even as others have divested from the business,” Not just nimble, but visible and hands-on, said Aguggia pointed out. “We haven’t forgotten where Aguggia. “With Diane handling our commercial team, we’ve come from.” Indeed, “We plan on becoming more and [Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue valuable for our deposit franchise, and deepening ties Officer] Patricia Hrotko leading the residential effort, with existing customers, as well as making and keeping indeed with all our EVPs, we know it’s not just name new customers.” recognition; it’s also us getting out there.” Reminded that the average personal savings rate for Both business planks are doing well at present. Americans remains abysmal, Aguggia remained “We’ve had record volume in our residential platundaunted, forecasting more future opportunity. “It’s an
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Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Outlook 2017 form as well as our commercial [one],” Aguggia reported. “It’s been a robust business; the phones are ringing. “We’re extremely proud of our digital and mobile offerings, and product development, that we’ve made over the last 12 to 18 months,” the CEO continued. “But we’re also proud that when we get to meetings, we hear feedback saying that we can be reached on a personal basis.” Or: High touch, high tech.
Ready for the future CSBK will stick to its overall game plan regardless of any political turmoil, be it local, state, or federal level, convinced that its plan is based on a solid foundation. “Yes, political and economic issues are relevant to us, and the relevance stems from any potential rollback in regulation or tax changes,” Aguggia acknowledged. “But we don’t bank on that. We’re a highly compliant culture, so we’re
30 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
not just waiting to take advantage of any kind of theoretical rollback. We don’t sit here expecting that to be some kind of gift. “What we see instead is because of what we’ve done, people we’ve added, we see an ability to compete even more effectively,” regardless of the economic background, he added. That’s not to say the background is ignored. CSBK is adapting to long-term trends, such as changes in energy use, transit-oriented development, and other shifts in northern New Jersey, including Clifton. Scriveri said CSBK’s new Hoboken branch typifies such adaptation. “We wanted to be close to foot traffic, and also to rail and bus access, where we believe much future growth is going to be. Infrastructure is critical, and I can see so much viability of our communities so close to New York, including our own, Clifton,” she said. As for energy-related issues, Aguggia noted that CSBK benefits from “the general economic conditions created by lower energy costs or improvements in the energy grid, to the extent that it also benefits the people in the community.” But CSBK has no investment exposure to specific energy segments, be it oil companies or Tesla. “We’re positioned to capitalize wherever the changes lead us,” he said. That includes the changes, big and small, Clifton anticipates in the years ahead. “We’re proud of our Clifton heritage,” he said, “but we want to do even more, be even better.” In other words, for Cliftonites, to be “your forever bank.”
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
TAKES ON THE ECONOMY We spoke with some community and business leaders for their insights on 2017... “We are cautiously optimistic about the health of our economy as we head into 2017. Jobless claims have shown continued stability in the labor market and consumers are feeling more optimistic about the economy in general. The Trump administration has strongly hinted at a new wave of business-friendly policies and significant investments in infrastructure that will provide opportunities for economic stimulation in our country and throughout local communities in northern New Jersey as well.” Gerald H. Lipkin, Valley National Bank Chairman, President & CEO
Edward Kurbansade, Jr., Assistant Vice President, Market Leader Clifton Office, Spencer Savings Bank SLA “I’ve always felt that employment and housing go hand in hand. The work economy has gained some momentum recently, but still somewhat slow dating back to the 2007-2008 [Great] Recession. Northern New Jersey should be primed for a continued rebound as we are a logistic capital; we have easy access to a large population and employment centers that don’t rely on seasonal spikes. The commercial vacancy rate is actually falling for the first time in nearly a decade. In New Jersey, the housing market is still a struggle. But what may be a caveat to consider is that home and property values have reached more affordable levels in recent years. This helps the prospective homeowner, but has caused a significant dip in a current homeowner’s equity. In many cases, home values have dipped below the outstanding mortgage. I approach it with caution, but 32 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
I think the rising rate index will have a minimum impact. As stated earlier, the growing work force only increases the ability to become a homeowner. Where or what is the silver lining in all this? The silver lining may be that the Fed[eral Reserve Board] has more faith in the economy with the recent rate increase. Coincidentally, I just read an article [last month] in NJ.com that over the last five years, there are nearly 140,000 additional work commuters on the New Jersey highways. The banking industry as a whole remains keenly acute to the needs of the economy. We are all constantly striving to maintain a mix of strength, flexibility, and aggressiveness to satisfy every generation. This requires us to adapt without notice. It’s a priority we accept, the challenges that every generation maintains their faith in the banking industry, and we are working very hard to maintain their confidence.”
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Kevin Slavin, President & CEO 2017 marks 150 years of service for St. Joseph’s Healthcare System. Since our modest beginnings in a 12-bed hospital on Church Street, in Paterson, St. Joseph’s has grown steadily over the decades to meet the expanding needs of the surrounding communities, becoming a nationally acclaimed leader in clinical excellence and innovative care.
We are also proud of our many awards and recognitions we have received for outstanding clinical performance – including the US News & World Report “Best Hospitals” designation. In 2017, St. Joseph’s will continue to make significant improvements to care quality and patient experience, expand treatment options in behavioral health and
which means Tomahawk Jr. is trained and nationally certified in restorative water drying methods by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, also known as IICRC.
34 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center
cutting-edge robotic surgery, as well as bringing new services and renovated facilities to our St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital. With all the change, growth, and development over the years, what has remained a constant throughout our organization is the caring atmosphere that inspired our founders. From our expert medical staff and awarding winning nursing division to our renowned clinical services and programs, that pervasive spirit of caring inspires all of us at St. Joseph’s. Our physicians and our clinical teams are always pushing forward, leading the way to better treatment, better care, and better outcomes. Everyone at St. Joseph’s works hard to exceed the most rigorous standards of quality and safety and to compassionately deliver optimal care to the residents of Clifton and surrounding communities.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Outlook 2017 Jack Shannon, Vice President for University Advancement Montclair State University Montclair State University will continue its forward momentum in 2017, expanding our footprint and impact both within the state of New Jersey and around the world. The institution will complete two state-of-the-art facilities as part of its $650 million campus master plan. Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media will be housed in a new 105,000-square-foot building complete with Sony 4K technology and a cutting-edge television studio, making it one of the top on-campus facilities in the nation. The University’s School of Nursing, which welcomed its first students in the fall of 2016, will
also move to a newly-renovated space with features including a nursing skills lab, anatomy lab and high-fidelity simulation labs for the institution’s newest academic program. Fully online degree offerings will also increase, giving students worldwide the opportunity to study at a top-tier national university in programs including the Feliciano School of Business’s new Online MBA program. Montclair State will continue to build upon its service offerings to the greater community, providing a range of personal and family counseling at its new Center for Clinical Services. The university will also be the
new home of the New York Red Bulls II, the developmental team for Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls, with all games open to the public. The team will also hold youth soccer programs available to the surrounding communities.
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36 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
BDE MAKES “IT” EASY
“BDE Has Been our IT Department
for 20 Years.”
Bill Rooney and his tech team solve problems, quickly, efficiently, and sometimes without even visiting your office. And that matters for local Clifton businesses, such as DeLuxe Cleaners and Scott Tire & Automotive, as well as for larger concerns. “We do it from A to Z, from Stewart Airport [in Newburgh, N.Y.] to Turtleback Zoo, and dozens of small businesses in between,” said Rooney in an interview late last month. Since 1996, Rooney, co-founder of Clifton-based BDE Computer Services, has provided information technology (IT) support for small businesses who, once upon a time, might have considered such support an expensive, unattainable luxury. Instead, those small operators can match or exceed the IT efficiency of big corporations while retaining their traditional advantage of friendly, one-on-one service to local clientele. 38 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
-Pat DeLora, DeLuxe Cleaners
DeLuxe Cleaners on Main Ave. signed on with BDE early on, said co-owner Pat DeLora, noting, “BDE has been our IT department for 20 years,” DeLora relies on the Compasmax system for bar coding to process his workload, with 12 workstations networked to a major server, a backup system, and printers. BDE’s support, he said, contributes to a service operation where “we have no downtime and no viruses.” DeLora has shared that information with other owners of dry cleaning businesses at conferences, and said they often are amazed. “They are on the Compassmax dry cleaning system and all of them have issues,” DeLora observed. Said Rooney, “There is no guessing whether it’s software or it’s hardware. We just get in there and get it fixed.” BDE provides the hardware, software, and even set up a camera system so the owners of DeLuxe can
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Frank Scrozzo of Scott Tire & Automotive is “very pleased” with BDE’s IT mastery. On the facing page, that’s Pat DeLora of Deluxe Cleaners (at left) with BDE’s Derick Murray, Bill Rooney, and Steve Bello.
view the workplace even from their home. “We get in the middle and act as their IT department,” Rooney added. Scott Tire & Automotive, on Trimble Ave., is another Clifton-based customer of BDE. Owner Frank Scrozzo offered similar high praise for Rooney and BDE staff. “BDE has been doing my stuff for 10 years, and before that with the previous owner,” he said in an interview late last month. Scrozzo’s “stuff,” among other things, includes keeping inventory on 800 tires that are in stock, keeping the software operating on six terminals, and interacting with the software provided by Miami, Fla.-based Tire Masters International, LLC, that keeps Scott Tire’s system operating — customer history, what tires are needed, other brake services, and so on. “If we have a problem, we call BDE,” Scrozzo said. “They log into our system from Bill’s office or wherever someone is and, within minutes, the problem is resolved. The techs know our software and our system, and so does Bill. It’s a very integrated organization, BDE.” Scrozzo added, “They answer questions, and they answer the phone immediately. We’re very pleased” with BDE, he asserted. Filling a small-business void Rooney, involved in the big corporation world early in his career, began helping friends and acquaintances in 1996 with various computer problems, thus discovering and filling a service void smaller businesses often were unable to address on their own. With his wife, Kathy, he started BDE, which today serves business clients in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. “The help I was used to in the corporate world was not available to the small business,” Rooney said in an early interview marking his first 10 years of operation, explaining his company’s raison d’etre. “So we put together all the resources that a small business would need in one place, and became a part-time IT staff for small businesses.” “The small to midsize business doesn’t have the time to stay up with technology, and to know what’s best for
them. Usually it’s one guy in the company who somewhat understands computers and he becomes their computer guru,” Rooney said. Rapid customer response is a critical factor to BDE’s success, a human touch that contributes to efficient online operations even if not a direct part of it. The key is to keep a company’s technology fully functional “so we don’t have downtime,” Rooney said. “We’re very good at solving problems. In addition to just coming in and fixing [an existing system] when it’s broken, we continue to come in on a proactive basis to maintain and administer the system so that it doesn’t break down again,” Rooney said. “We recognize that one of our biggest challenges is that we’re the IT department for our clients, and they look on us to maintain our level of service. We take that very seriously.” While Rooney or one of his team of techs will visit your office or place of business to assess a firm’s needs, BDE’s main office is at 399 Lakeview Ave. In addition to PCs, BDE also installs and services phone systems and offers help desk programs. Go to bdecomputer.com, email sales@BDEComputer.com, or do it the old-fashioned way and call Bill Rooney at 973-772-8507, or call toll free at 877-233-4877. Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
Luis Torres (CHS 2002) and his dad Pastor are a father-son referee duo. Our feature detailed their unique careers officiating NCAA basketball games, while Pastor’s other son, Kevin, kept watch over high school hoop events. Construction was anticipated for New Jersey’s first new medical school in half a century on the 116-acre Roche Group site along Route 3, as funding began to fall into place; Hackensack University Health Network and Seton Hall University were named as project partners. And Cliftonite Joseph S. Cupoli, along with business partner Billy Freedman, outlined the history and service of P&A Auto Parts and its 10 stores, including two in Clifton.
Hanson & Ryan Inc.’s staff was named the Silver Winner of Insurance Journal’s 2015 Best Agency to Work For—East Region. Below, we met, from left: Mike Francesca, Ken Gensinger, John Fette, Quinae Jones, Aaron Bloom, Kevin Torres, Pastor Torres.
Former Clifton Mayor Gloria J. Kolodziej (center, holding plaque), joined others at the Theater League of Clifton’s (TLC) 10th Anniversary Christmas Party. Kolodziej, a lifelong resident, passed away on Dec. 9, 2016. She served as mayor from 1982 to 1990, and as a councilwoman until retiring from public office in 2010. That year, the Gloria J. Kolodziej Arts Center was named in her honor.
40 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Grace on Skates cataloged the professional careers of ice dancers Alexey Shumskyy and Tatiana Kozmava, Cliftonites who seek to qualify for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games to be held in 2018 in South Korea. As is our February tradition, we shared the love stories of various couples, many of whom are pictured below. As a prelude to the Super Bowl, we featured Clifton native Bob Holly’s journey as an athlete “From the Boys Club to the NFL.” Holly is Clifton’s lone native to play for a Super Bowl team.
Love stories shared, from left: Cara Ruggerio and Chris Robertson, Marisol and Raul Rodriguez, Kyle Leili and Erica Cardillo, Joseph and Franchesca Musse, (below) Aleksanda Ceglarz and Michael Cetinich, Jane and John George, Maura and Nicholas Cerami, Carin and Joe Manetti, Joyce and Buddy Tabaka.
At left, members of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Broad St. presented handmade woolen hats and mittens to students at the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency school in Clifton. Above, Mark Barnes, VP of VW of America, presented a 65-year plaque to Ken and Betty Gensinger with their children, Laura, Michelle, Cindy, and Ken Jr. Gensinger’s, on Valley Rd., is America’s oldest VW dealership.
42 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
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Passaic County Employers: 973-340-3400 • Ext. 7223 Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
CHS History teacher John Lesler represented the many teachers and coaches who we celebrated for making a difference to their students over the years. Sharing the cover were Clifton native Joella Pounds, teacher and girl’s basketball coach at St. Mary High School in Rutherford, along with Junior forward Nicole Lucianin. We also published a remembrance of the late Fighting Mustang Dave ‘Moose’ Bosson, CHS 1956 All-State tackle who had gone on to Duke, was a member of its 1961 Cotton Bowl Championship team and had a colorful career in real estate in the Sun Belt.
At top, Mustang teacher and coaches with graduation years, Konrad Kruczek (2004), Stan Lembryk (1987), Joe Rivera (1993), Brittany Gaccione (2007), John Pontes (1968), George Cowan (2000), Ralph Cinque (1993), Mike Rivera (1997). Above: Mike Doktor, Lynn Tuorto, Jennifer and Emil Rascher, Tom Mullin, Jeff Labriola, Bill Cannici.
At Paramus Catholic, Gary Sabak with Junior Jessica Santana of Clifton, the Woodwind Captain of the Marching Paladins. CHS Wrestlers Moe Farhan, Patrick DePasque, and James Murdoch. St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church hosted its Pysanka Easter Egg Decorating Class on March 10. Pictured are Stefan, Isabella, and Ihor Andruch.
44 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
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Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Remember the 1960s? From baseball great Stan “the Man” Musial to Charlie Frick, Clifton’s First Hippie, the April cover collage represented the lives or memories of roughly 70 million children, Baby Boomers, coming of age during the tumultous decade. Change was rampant, including the formation of the Girls Club of Clifton in 1966, later merged into the Boys & Girls Club. In 1967, Clifton celebrated its 50th anniversary in June with a Golden Jubilee Parade, though warm weather took a toll on spectators.
Right: Charlie Frick, Clifton's First Hippie.
Guyler Tulp (in portrait) was among the 30 Clifton kids killed in Vietnam. Pictured is his brother Bob, mom Josephine, nephew and namesake Guyler, son of Gary, and Gary, the deceased’s older brother.
Elizabeth Taylor was in Clifton! Turn to page 54 for details.
Left: The Hot Grill opened on Oct. 13, 1961. Right: Teen idol Frankie Randall (CHS 1955) was also Frank Sinatra’s house pianist.
Clifton turns 100 on April 27, 2017 but a kick-off fundraiser beefsteak was held last April 17 at the Boys & Girls Club. The Clifton Centennial Committee pictured above has many events planned. For more info call 973-470-5825 or search “Celebrate Clifton's 100th” on Facebook. Featured in our 1960s edition: from top left, Nick Russo, Harry Peterson, William Vander Closter, Joe Grecco, Stephen Gensinger, Judge Harry Fengya.
46 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
o e g & a
Linda & Amy invite you to see our renovated store
An accomplished bench jeweler with a keen eye for workmanship, style and value, Murray Blumenfeld started his jewelry business in 1948 and it came as no surprise when he met with success at every turn. His search for unusual and beautiful designs cultivated a following that lasted over the course of his lifetime. Murrayâ€™s two daughters, Amy Ferrari and Linda Dubnoff, worked alongside their father until his passing in 2004. Their never-ending search for the exceptional keeps his legacy alive. They hand pick new and exciting designers instead of duplicating the big box department store brands. The result is a beautiful collection of eclectic designs in all price ranges for every taste.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€˘ January 2017
For Memorial Day, we honored the memory of US Army Special Forces Captain Michael Tarlavsky, the last Cliftonite killed in the line of duty (in 2004). Last rites fortunately proved premature for USMC Corporal Richard Musicant (on the cover), a non-practicing Jew who survived despite being “black tagged” by medical personnel during the Gulf War in 1991. We also paid Mother’s Day honors to numerous individuals who reminisced on the parentals trials and triumphs of raising and guiding children — their own, and sometimes others.
Rosemary Rackiewicz, Silvia Hart, Barbara Dougherty, Marlene Zschak, and Anita McGowan were among the mothers featured in May.
On May 14, Rossi’s Tavern in Botany Village marked its 70th anniversary with brothers Vic and Felix Rossi (front left and center) and friends pictured above. In marking the 25th year after the Gulf War, we profiled veterans, from left to right: Clifton Police: Randy Colondres, US Army; Mark Centurione, US Army; Joel Smith, US Navy; Frank Loran, US Army; Wayne Stine, US Marine Corps. Clifton Fire: Robert Barone, US Marine Corps; Mal Kelly, US Marine Corps; Bret Blake, US Army; Ken Collucci, US Navy; Kevin Danielson, US Air Force; Richard Musicant, US Marine Corps.
48 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
High School graduation is a time for memories and future plans, and our June magazine featured hundreds of members of the Class of 2016 from CHS and other private and public high schools. Among the most touching responses were when we asked grads to tell about the “Unsung Heroes” of their schools and what traits or specific acts made these classmates so unique. Some of the graduates we featured appear below. Also recognized: Alexis Soriano, the Boys & Girls Club’s 2016 Youth of the Year.
Hannah Anolik, Moe Farhan, Justin Ponce, Bryan Cammerino, Juliana Mascelli.
Ava Genardi, Jordan Dunleavy, Jaclyn Hanrahan, Ryley White, Sergio Valverde, Alex Wertz, Joseph Lopez. Pals since Kindergarten, these 2016 CHS grads — Brian Kommer, Pietro Maccarrone, James Louer, and Nick Belfondo — are headed in different directions, but count on each other and expect to do so for a lifetime.
Above: On June 5, the Passaic Optimist Club honored Fatima Lalama and Wil Garcia of the Paulison Avenue ShopRite. Right: After 65 years, the Clifton Optimist Club held its final meeting on June 15. In attendance: Ted Munley, Mike Gimon, Dennis Hahofer, Lia Hahofer, Clara Bate, Adele Gimon, George Hayek, Tom Hawrylko, Dr. Louis Bertolotti, Debbie Oliver, Joe Bionci.
50 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Our July cover queried “Where Are They Now?” as we checked on members of the Mustang grads from 1946, 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996, and 2006. Profiles ranged from 88-year-old John Filippone (CHS 1946) to CHS 2006 grad LeeAnn Iapicca, now a teacher at her alma mater School 3. Also noted: the June 24 graduation of 700 Mustangs of the CHS Class of 2016. Robert Castronovo Sr. (CHS 1966), as CEO of the Meadowlands Arena, helped make Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band the unofficial “house band.”
Johnny Manganiotis (Mr. Cupcakes), right, proposed to Amy Sabani during the Mr. Cupcakes Car Show on July 17 (raising $10,000 for Jason & Justin’s Journey). In Sept. 2017 Amy will become Mrs. Cupcakes. Johnny’s dad John (left) helped celebrate.
We featured... Mary Choteborsky and Rich Reynics, Judith Zagaya, Robert Morgan, John George, Jenny Sichel... and...
Mark Tietjen, Robert Castronovo Sr., Bruce Springsteen, Sandra Spence, Samantha DeRose, Jennalynn Pizzimenti.
Mustang cheerleaders Kelly (Scholts) McInerney and Jennifer (Dal Pos) Rascher, CHS 1996; best pals in CHS 1956 and still today, Tom Cupo and Murray Kashtan. The Hawthorne Caballeros performed on July 9 at Clifton Stadium.
52 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
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Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
Clifton History in the 1970s recapped city accomplishments including triumphs by the Marching Mustangs, two state championship CHS football teams, and a population rising to 85,000 (with one CHS graduating class totaling 1,000 students) — all while becoming more diverse in the process. Using a timeline and various stories and many photos, the growth of our hometown, and the many individuals and organizations who made it happen, were featured; many are pictured again here.
From our cover: Paul Fego, William Shershin, William Holster, Natalie Fedun, Mike Novack, Lisa Nash. Below, also from our cover: Paul Epstein, Carl Mueller, Bill Mueller, Don Mueller, Robin Owen. Above, Rafael Cuellar officially opened Shoprite Liquors of Clifton at the corner of Paulison and Clifton Aves.
At left, Drum Major Cindy MacVicker led the Marching Mustangs to the championship in the 1970 World Music Festival in The Netherlands. At right, we recalled Thomas Dando, who was killed in action in Vietnam on March 19, 1967.
54 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Robert ‘The Kissing Bandit’ Lions shared the story of how he made headlines after kissing Liz Taylor in Clifton Stadium on July 24, 1964.
Michael J. Novack, Nicholas Tselepis, Rev. Thomas J. Suchon, Bill Vander Closter, James Corrado.
Around the world the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag was raised on Aug. 24, including at Clifton’s City Hall where the celebration marked 25 years of Ukraine’s independence. Sculptor Mike Bertelli at right, with his work Snubby which was part of the Clifton Arts Center Aug. 25 presentation by Bertelli inspired by great lines from literature. Far right of page, Joel Pasternack featured in our 1970s Clifton History edition for finishing 28th in the 1974 Boston Marathon—his time 2 hours, 25 minutes and 3 seconds.
Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
The Random Acts of Kindness Committee co-chairs Fran Warren and Kim Oeffler, along with signature red umbrellas, were on our cover to encourage residents to tell of the good things happening around town. Also featured was the efforts by American Legion Post 359 to build a monument to honor the 15 US Army recruits from Passaic who were killed in a plane crash on Nov. 8, 1961. Readers were also polled for their opinions on Presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Marking the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s Healthcare System on Sept. 8, from left: Sr. Marilyn Thie, SC, Chair, Board of Trustees, SJHS; Dr. Antoinette M. Cecere; Sr. Jane Brady, who was the CEO of St. Joe’s for 27 years, before retiring in 1999; and Dr. Robert Amoruso.
Sandra Grazioso, seen here at the 9/11 memorial at City Hall, lost her two sons, Timothy and John, in the World Trade Center attack. Seven other Cliftonites also perished and are honored annually on Sept. 11. Above: Woodrow Wilson Junior High School Alumni hosted a 75th birthday party for teacher Frank Rainey on Sept. 28. At left: Digging in at the opening of Weasel Brook Park’s renovation on Sept. 9: NJDEP’s Kerry Pflugh, Bill Gibson, Richard Berdnik, Pat Lepore, Lauren Murphy, Bruce James, Ray Brabowski, Terry Duffy, Tony DeNova, Filomena Machlader, Martha Sapp.
56 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Say Hello to Your Neighbors and celebrate diversity was the message as we helped to promote the Oct. 15 International Cultural & Food Festival. With some 80 languages spoken in our neighborhoods, according to Mayor Jim Anzaldi, our hometown has much to offer in the areas of culture, dining, and religion. Our magazine introduced dozens of Cliftonites who hailed from across the globe and have come to this little corner of the Garden State to create a better life for themselves and their families.
Drum Major Michele Zerelik led the Marching Mustangs in the Oct. 10 NYC Columbus Day parade. At top left, Larry Torres of Barilla Pasta brought a mobile kitchen to the Paulison Ave. ShopRite to address hunger and nutrition. Joe Zak wore the Polonia Sash and led a contingent from Clifton and Passaic in the Oct. 2 Pulaski Day Parade in NYC. Deacon Hector Casillas, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Deacon Joseph Puskas, Father Leonardo Jaramillo, and Father Vidal Gonzales. Archbishop Auza, who holds the diplomatic rank of Apostolic Nuncio, is permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; he visited St. Paul Church Oct. 1 to celebrate St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint. Sohail Mohammed, who became New Jerseyâ€™s second Muslim Superior Court judge. Val Bogattchouk, CEO of Nova UA Federal Credit Union, told of plans to rebrand the organization and demolish and renovate its Allwood Ave. headquarters.
58 January 2017 â€˘ Cliftonmagazine.com
Some of the folks from our cover, from left: Petro Chudolij, Michelle Galvis, Bahaa Housni, Ruth Dippe, Brian Grace, Mustafa Angun, Arianna Dubas, and Odelia Handy.
Who would have guessed that Italy has a consulate in Clifton? Clifton attorney Dominic Caruso (left) with Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi, was featured in our October magazine explaining that his law office offers services to make life easier for those who want to renew their Italian passports.
John C. Samraâ€™s name was immortalized on the corner of Washington and Maple Aves. with this plaque, thanks to former Clifton Police Officer Ros LaCorte and the members of PBA 36. Samra (right) was killed there while on duty on Nov. 21, 2003. LaCorte thanked the homeowners for allowing him to build the memorial and the PBA members for paying for the permanent marker.
On Oct. 13, Janet Garafano was honored at The Learning Center on Scoles Ave. for her volunteer gardening work at the school. Cliftonmagazine.com â€˘ January 2017
Former Marine Lance Corporal Enea Gjoka, with his service dog Rrodi, graced the November cover along with “A New Generation of America’s Veterans,” many of whom are pictured below. The 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was also recalled. Another anniversary, the 10th, was marked by the CHS Fighting Mustangs 2006 State Champion football team. And Cliftonite Richard Fischer detailed his upcoming 22-stop cross country road trip with his band Midnight Eternal.
Business partners and brothers Thomas and Dean Maroulakos are pictured with Mayor Jim Anzaldi on Nov. 22 cutting the ribbon to The Barrow House at 1296 Van Houten Ave. At left, photos from the Oct. 9 Samra Run and the Halloween Parade.
Vets Oscar Buonafina;Victoria Lotorto; Enea Gjoka; Mark Scarpa; Roy F. Sherman; Ryan Gabel; Mario Rutigliano.
Perennial congressional candidate Dr. Hector Castillo touted his 2016 campaign on a walking tour of Downtown Clifton. At right, Congressman Bill Pascrell, who was re-elected, was presented the Shevchenko Freedom Award by Ukrainian Congress Committee of America Executive Secretary Marie Duplak of Clifton and Tamara Olexy on Nov. 2.
60 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Veterans and onlookers participated and attended the Nov. 6 parade along Van Houten Ave. honoring those who served.
Nov. 5 CHS homecoming, from top left: Luis Lantigua, Brittany Calderon, Emil Perez, Angelica Rosario, King C.J. Icaza and Queen Cindy Hernandez, Cross Quinlan, Nicole Klingler, Christie Louer, Joseph Santillo. On the same night, former Mustang and NFL player Dave Szott was honored and had his Mustang jersey retired.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€˘ January 2017
Stories of hope, faith, and love detailed the fighting spirit of Cliftonites burdened with combatting more than ordinary obstacles and challenges, from disease or from disaster. As well, those who worked to ease the burden, such as the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency and the Rotary Club of Clifton, weighed in with their perspectives and concerns. Clifton’s role as host of the Hindu celebration of Diwali was featured among the many events that contribute to the city’s mosaic of cultures.
We revisited Chrissie Cluney, featured on our December 2012 cover. Cluney, now a journalist by trade and still actively involved in volunteer work, is shown above with dad Bill, sister Erin, and mom Mary Ann.
Along the left, some of the folks we featured in December: Nina Corradino; Dr. Rick Doerr; “Uncle” Roy Stesko; Lindsay Loeb; Julia Young; Assemblyman Tom Giblin; Peter Salzano; Avinash Mistry. The Student Development & Campus Life Department of MSU joined with Assembly members Tom Giblin and Shiela Oliver for their 2016 Toy Drive. Pictured from left: Lolita Cruz, Dr. Karen Pennington, Assemblyman Giblin, Julie Fleming, George Silva, and Emily Cordero.
62 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Just in time for Christmas, the law firm of Corradino & Papa, with principals R.C. Papa, Jr. and Jack Corradino at center, teamed up with the Boys & Girls Club to distribute 25 turkeys to families in the School 17 and 11 neighborhoods.
Above: The Rotary Club members maintained a 67-year tradition of “Service Above Self.” Below: Weichert Realtors’ Clifton office conducted its 38th annual Toy Drive.
The eighth graders at St. Brendan Catholic School in Lakeview are studying American History, particularly the settlement of the West. Social Studies teacher Maryann Gorman challenged the students to find some of the more colorful characters from that era, and assume the persona of those people.
Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
Our SuperBowlCoach Ray ‘Ditch’ Malavasi took the lessons learned as a Mustang to football’s ultimate stage. By Jack De Vries
Photos courtesy of L.A. Rams
More than three decades ago, the Mustangs made it to the Super Bowl, tucked inside the heart of the coach of the Los Angeles Rams. Though the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 3119, on Jan. 20, 1980, that game was a triumph for Clifton. On the sidelines of the Rose Bowl stood one of Joe Grecco’s boys – Ray Malavasi, a leader born from the dirt of Nash Park and forged by the spirit of Grecco’s fiery halftime speeches. Both Malavasi and Grecco loved football with a passion. As players, it wasn’t touchdowns or glory that 64 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
drove them, but the battle to control the line of scrimmage – a victory decided by strength, technique, and will. Each was intelligent. Grecco, who died in 2003, was a scholar-athlete center at Upsala College before becoming a coach; Malavasi was the lineman whom Grecco trusted to call the Mustangs’ offensive and defensive signals. Years later, when asked about his best players, Malavasi’s name would roll off the coach’s tongue. “Ray Mal-a-Vay-See,” Grecco’s voice would boom, savoring each syllable, “got more out of his ability than
any player I ever coached. He was so driven to make himself a good football player that it seemed he did more than he was capable of doing.” Malavasi carried the football dreams of every Mustang far beyond his hometown. When he led his Rams against the Steelers, every Clifton player went with him – a long line that stretched from Grecco and through coaches Bill Vander Closter and John Lischak. If only Malavasi’s story ended after the third quarter of Super Bowl XIV with the Rams leading 19-17, everything might have been perfect. However, real life usually never ends up that way. Ditch of Nash Park In 1945, Joe Grecco was selling dreams, on a mission to build a downtrodden football program and showing his Mustangs game films at every hot dog night and club meeting in the city. He told parents football was good for their sons, that it would build character and discipline. Raymondo Giuseppi Giovanni Baptiste Malavasi’s parents weren’t buying. Italian immigrants from the Northern Italian Dolomite Mountain region, they didn’t care about this strange game; their only child would go to college. They doted on their son, especially Malavasi’s mother, who ran the
family’s Van Riper Ave. home. Ray’s dad worked as a carpenter in the Bayonne Navy Yard. Cousin Adeline DeLotto remembered young Ray as a big, stocky, generous boy who loved to eat and practice his accordion. Friend Gloria Chigounis recalled a classmate everyone liked, the grammar school class clown. But there was another side of Malavasi, one more comfortable on the nearby Nash Park fields. He was a tough kid, whose clothes were often covered with dirt from falling down. Friend Rocco “Rock” Zanet told Ray he often looked like he was “digging a ditch.” The nickname, “Ditch,” stuck – a perfect moniker for a lineman. When Grecco held his football tryouts, Malavasi forged his mother’s signature on a permission slip and went out for the team. Ditch excelled on the gridiron, helping lead the Mustangs to a 23-3 record during his three varsity seasons. As a sophomore, he was part of the undefeated 1946 Clifton squad that won the state championship and played in the Oyster Bowl in Norfolk, Va., losing to Granby High, 6-0. The next season, Malavasi was a unanimous selection at tackle on the All-State and AllMetropolitan teams. As a senior, he repeated those honors and was chosen as a Wigwam All-American.
Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
“I was an All-American ... and I had everything to look forward to. It was a bad experience but in the end I made the only decision that I felt I could live with – that I couldn’t tell on my fellow classmates.” –Ray Malavasi
“Ray was incredibly talented,” said Joe Scanella, one of Grecco’s assistants who later coached with Malavasi on the Oakland Raiders staff. “After [Bobby] Boettcher, he was the second-fastest guy on the team. He could’ve played any position on the field.” The late Jim Haraka described his teammate as fiery. “He could do things on the field that were unheard of,” Haraka said. “Every opposing team had to double-team him at the line. We’d run the ‘43 reverse’ where (star running back) Bobby Boettcher was used as a decoy, and Ray would block for me. He would take out two guys by himself – Ditch never cared about his body. Every time we ran the play, it seemed we’d gain 10 or 15 yards.” Haraka also remembered Malavasi’s leadership qualities, calling him “an extension of Coach Grecco on the field.” Boettcher, also an All-American, described the big-shouldered Malavasi as a serious young man in CHS. “I’d see him in the hallway,” said Boettcher, “but he never stopped or talked – he was on his way to his next
class. The same on the football field. There was no fooling around with Ray. It was like he was in a world of his own. After practice, he usually went off with his friends from his neighborhood, Rudy Turin and Enzo Baldelli.” Boettcher also remembered Malavasi’s interest in business. While in high school, the teammates founded a used car business, buying old cars for $25 and selling them for $75 at a friend’s gas station in Wayne. Boettcher most recalled Malavasi’s love of football. “On Sundays,” he said, “Ray would play with Rudy Turin’s sandlot team in Nash Park. He’d take a ski hat and cut out holes for his eyes and pull it over his face. He knew Grecco didn’t want him playing sandlot ball.” Fullback Bob Pityo said, “Calling plays in the huddle, Ray was always on an even-keel, never excited. But when we needed motivation, he was vocal. During the 1946 Nutley game (Clifton trailed 13-0 at halftime, but won, 18-6), Ray was one of the main igniters of our comeback.”
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66 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
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Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
The Clifton Buffalos in Nash Park, fall 1944. Top Row: Coach Charley Triola, Walter Shenton, Art Conrad, Ed Farley, John Fitzgerald, Harry Fichtner, Rudy Turrin, Floyd Zanetti, Enzo Mazzer. Middle Row: John Murphy, Enzo Balduini, Ray Malavasi, Victor De Luca, Jordan Serafin, Don Hagedorn. Bottom Row: Mario De Luca, Bill Beverage, Leroy Belli, Julius Tibolla, Adolph Frinko, Ziggy Fisher, John Chiamolera. Photo courtesy of James J. Marrocco.
It was at Nash Park that Ditch, while still playing for Clifton High, got his first taste of coaching, guiding the Mustangs A.C. Indians (ages 12 to 14) to the city football championship. “He was the same style coach as Grecco,” said Lou Poles, an end for the Indians. “He was also ahead of his time – Ray used short 3- to 6-yard passes to set up the run, which was very unconventional back then.” Now a cadet After graduating in January 1948, Malavasi went to West Point to play for Army, then one of the nation’s football powerhouses. “We were both supposed to go,” said Boettcher, “but I wasn’t confident that I could handle the math. Ray thought he could.” Though recruited by more than 20 colleges, Malavasi was sought by the legendary Vince Lombardi, an offensive coach at the Academy and a close friend of Grecco’s. “He was persuasive and powerful,” Malavasi told the Boston Globe in 1980, “and it would have been difficult to say no to him.” At West Point, Ray also developed a relationship with defensive coach Murray Warmath – one that would later save Malavasi’s football career. 68 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
By his junior season, Malavasi was part of the nationally second-ranked Army squad, winners of 28 in a row. To cap their undefeated 1950 season, all that remained for Cadets was to beat the 2-6 Midshipmen in the annual Army-Navy game. The Dec. 2 contest served as an omen for Malavasi’s future at West Point. During the two weeks before the game, the Cadets practiced inside their field house. Army’s Col. Earl “Red” Blaik, later wrote, “In my 25 years as head coach, I never made a worse mistake.” When the Cadets took the field at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, bitterly cold temperatures awaited them – along with a crowd of more than 100,000, including President Harry S Truman. Ironically, lining up for Navy was Malavasi’s former Clifton teammate, Ted Kukowski. The Midshipmen jumped out to a 14-0 lead, intercepting Army QB Bob Blaik (the coach’s son) five times. Hampered by the cold, the Cadets suffered a 14-2 defeat, giving Navy its first victory over Army in seven years and one of the greatest upsets in college football history. Next summer, things got worse. On Aug. 3, 1951, the nation was rocked by news of a cheating scandal at West Point involving the football team.
Cliftonmagazine.com â€¢ January 2017
Ray Malavasi played a fateful role in Jim Haraka’s terrible injury on the first play of the 1948 season in the opening game against Paterson Central at Hinchliffe Stadium. “Ray was supposed to kick off,” remembered Haraka, “but his ankle was bothering him so Coach Grecco told me to kick. I had a bet with Malavasi about who would get down the field first.” On the play, Malavasi tacked the ball carrier, but Haraka was hit from opposite directions — the force of the collision fractured his right thighbone, effectively ending a promising football career. Pictured from left: Coach Grecco, Malavasi, center Mike Pelech, and Haraka.
The cadets were divided into two regiments, and each took identical quizzes on different days. Because the regiments were kept separate, there was no chance to violate West Point’s honor code: “A cadet does not lie, cheat, or steal. A cadet who knows something about someone who has lied, cheated, or stolen must report him for violating the code.” However, regiments did mix at the athletes’ dining hall tables where the quiz answers were passed. As detailed in When Pride Still Mattered by David Maranis, the scandal broke when a West Point swimmer reported the scandal as dictated by the honor code. Investigations revealed “cribbing” had gone on since 1947. While the senior class was allowed to graduate (none admitted taking part), on Coach Blaik’s advice, underclassmen confessed their involvement and 83 left the Academy. Included among them were Blaik’s son Bob and Clifton’s Ray Malavasi. “Several times during his life,” said the late George Pasterchick, a Clifton teammate and lifelong friend, “Ray told me he had nothing to do with the cheating.” 70 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
In the 1980 Globe interview, Malavasi related, “I was an All-American heading into my senior year and I had everything to look forward to. It was a bad experience but in the end I made the only decision that I felt I could live with – that I couldn’t tell on my fellow classmates.” Malavasi’s wife Mary knows her husband didn’t need to cheat. “It was a family joke about math,” she said. “Ray could do numbers in his head while the kids and I struggled with math. He left West Point because he violated the honor code by not saying anything about his teammates.” In 1996, when asked about Malavasi’s involvement in the scandal, Grecco paused, thought, and said quietly, “He got caught up in something that was going on a long time before he got there.” Said the late Vander Closter, Grecco’s assistant coach at the time, “If it bothered Joe, he never showed it. He never spoke about it.” However, the West Point scandal bothered others. Some believed the honor code, which encouraged cadets to betray each other, and the poor system of administering tests, were partly to blame.
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Cliftonmagazine.com â€˘ January 2017
Coaching nomad Warmath, who would go on to lead the University of Minnesota Gophers to a national championship, thought the expelled cadets were mistreated, believing them “fine young men.” He began helping place players at different schools, landing Malavasi at Kansas State. Joseph P. Kennedy, the future president’s father, quietly provided scholarship money for the expelled cadets. After one semester at Kansas State, Malavasi joined Warmath at
Mississippi State, where his old Army coach had taken the head job. However, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) barred any of the expelled cadets from playing. “Because he couldn’t play,” said Warmath, who passed away in 2011, “Ray coached the freshman (while earning a degree in civil engineering). He was intelligent and had a quick mind. He did okay in school, but could’ve done better if it interested him more.” Though unable to play in games, Malavasi participated in the varsity practices.
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“On the field, he looked like another guy,” Warmath recalled. “Ray wasn’t especially big, but when the whistle blew, he’d get after it. Nobody played with more enthusiasm or got more out of his ability. He loved to play rough … sometimes a bit too rough. And he was always thinking out there, knowing the down, distance, situation – just the way a quarterback does.” In 1953, Malavasi was the eighth round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. However, his toughness and desire couldn’t overcome his lack of NFL size. With the advent of the Korean War, he took lieutenant’s commission in the Army Engineering Corps. During his two-year hitch (he also served 16 years in the Army Reserves), Malavasi coached the Fort Belvoir, Va., team to the service championship. He also met his future wife Mary, a nurse who had just returned from serving in Korea. When Warmath offered him an assistant coach job at Minnesota in 1956, Malavasi began to chase his dream of becoming a successful head coach. He later worked in similar positions at Memphis State (crossing paths with Elvis Presley) and Wake Forest. “Ray recruited me and Bill Galese from Eastside in Paterson,” said Bob Finamore, who starred for Paterson Central and was the former athletic director at Manchester Regional High School. “Bill Vander Closter tipped him off about us. Being from the area, Ray always took care of us and made sure we were okay.
“As a defensive coach, I’d call him a genius. We beat some pretty big schools.” Galese, who went on to become head football coach at Eastside, Elmwood Park, and Morris Hills, called Malavasi “a coach’s coach.” “It was an honor and pleasure to play for the man,” he said. “He looked like a coach – his nose had been broken from playing when they didn’t wear face masks. He was bright and a great tactician, knew the game backwards and forwards. “Ray was very competitive, never afraid to mix it up with the boys. Once, he blocked a field goal during practice, knifing in between the line without pads. We never knew how he got in there. He’d also jump into the sprints to motivate the slower guys. And his players emulated his rough and tumble style.” Despite his disciplinarian reputation, Malavasi cared deeply about his players. “He was always bringing home his kids,” said wife Mary Malavasi. “If one of Ray’s players had a problem with his wife, I’d go see her. They’d even borrow money from us, which was a joke because we didn’t have much.” In 1962, Malavasi was hired as personnel director of the Denver Broncos. The next season, he became the defensive line coach. After the firing of head coach Mac Speedie in 1966, Malavasi was elevated to interim head coach, leading the Broncos to a 4-8 record. The following year, he became defensive coordinator for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. Two
years later, he joined the Buffalo Bills as an assistant coach. While his Clifton fans enjoyed following his career, Malavasi’s parents were disappointed with his work. “His mother Mary,” said Vander Closter (related to Malavasi through his wife Gilda’s family), “would say, ‘Look at my Raymond running around as a coach. He has an engineering degree – he should use it.’” Malavasi joined the 1970 Oakland Raiders coaching staff under John Madden. In 1973, he
moved to the Los Angeles Rams, serving as defensive coordinator for Chuck Knox. After five seasons, George Allen was brought in as Rams’ head coach, a move that disappointed Malavasi, who wanted the top job. But after moving his family an estimated 20 times since his coaching career began, Malavasi decided to stay in Los Angeles. He swallowed his pride, made plans to work as Allen’s offensive coordinator, and waited for another head coaching job to open.
Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
The big time Malavasi didn’t wait long. After two 1978 pre-seasons games, Allen was unexpectedly fired and the former Clifton Mustang gained his dream job. Team owner Carroll Rosenbloom’s choice for new head coach was not a complete surprise. The two men had become close during Malavasi’s heart trouble and resulting quadruple bypass surgery. “Carroll also had heart surgery,” said Mary Malavasi, “and he advised Ray to go ahead with his. Carroll was very supportive and concerned about Ray and our family.” Malavasi rewarded Rosenbloom’s faith by leading Los Angeles to a 12-4 regular season record. In the postseason, the Rams beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game, 34-10, but lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 28-0, in the NFC Championship contest. During the 1978 season, Malavasi was honored by the Clifton C Club the day before a Dec. 3 game with the New York Giants. The next day, the Rams coach invited a few of his former teammates and friends, including Boettcher, to view the Rams’ 20-17 victory on the sidelines at Giants Stadium.
Mustang Coach Bill Vander Closter (right) and Ray Malavasi at the LA Rams training facility around 1980.
“There was no question of who was in-charge,” said Boettcher. “Ray was constantly talking to his players, telling and showing how he wanted things done.” The players loved Malavasi, something witnessed by the late Mustangs’ athletic trainer Lou “Cap” Capuano. “I arranged with Ray,” said Vander Closter, “for Cap to visit the Rams’ locker room to see how the pro trainers taped ankles and worked on injuries. The first thing Cap said afterwards was, ‘Bill, those players really love Ray.’ That made the biggest impression on him.”
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As a coach, stopping the opposition was Malavasi’s specialty. From 1973 through 1979, his Ram defense allowed the NFL’s fewest rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, total yards, and points, while amassing the most quarterback sacks. Though liked by his owner and players, the coach had an uneasy relationship with the press and cared little about what reporters wrote. “Ray read Ann Landers,” said Mary Malavasi. “I would read what they wrote and tell him, but even then he didn’t care that much.” A bit overweight, his mop of gray hair often fighting the wind, Malavasi’s old school image contrasted with the glitzy L.A. media market. He also said what was on his mind, providing legendary quotes. For example, he once told a writer, “I don’t care what the tape says. I didn’t say it.” When asked why he changed quarterbacks during one post-game interview, Malavasi retorted, “None of your damn business.” Perhaps his funniest moment with the media was the interview … done while asleep. KMPC radio morning host Robert W. Morgan called Malavasi for a live
“After the Game” spot, a scheduled weekly interview at 7:22 a.m. Mary Malavasi answered the phone and passed it to her husband, whom she thought was awake. Both fell back to sleep. Morgan proceeded to interview Malavasi, asking him questions about the game played the night before. Each time, Malavasi replied with a loud snore. “Ray usually didn’t need much sleep,” said Mary Malavasi, “but after that game, we must have been tired. We didn’t get upset about (the interview) – we thought it was funny.” The 1979 season would test Malavasi like never before. Super season In April, Rosenbloom drowned while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving the team to his widow Georgia. The new owner soon fired Rosenbloom’s son Steve, who was his father’s choice to run the Rams. Rumors swirled that Malavasi was next to go. One sportswriter called the Rams a “soap opera in cleats.” When the team got off to a dismal 4-5 start, hurt
Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
by injuries to nine starters, rumors of Malavasi’s expected dismissal got louder. Now taking orders from a former chorus girl and nightclub singer just off her sixth marriage, Malavasi made the best of his position. Ignoring reports of his impending firing, he led the Rams to a 9-7 record, including four wins in the last five games to win the NFC Western Division. Three All Americans, all from CHS, were honored by the Saint & Sinners Society back In the NFC playoffs, Los in the 1980s. From left, Frank Pecci, the only Scholastic Magazine Junior All Angeles beat the Dallas American in the history of New Jersey, Ray Malavasi and Bobby Boettcher. Cowboys, 21-19, and the The cheering stops Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-0, to earn the Rams’ first trip The next season, the Rams finished 11-5 and qualified to the Super Bowl. for a postseason wild card spot, but lost a playoff game to Running back Lawrence McCutcheon recalled how the Dallas Cowboys, 34-13. In 1981, L.A. went 6-10, and his coach rallied the team. then dropped to 2-7 in the strike-shortened 1982 season, “We had lost five or six in a row and we’re strugleading to his firing. Malavasi’s final record as Rams gling,” McCutcheon told the Orange County Register head coach was 40-33. in 1987, “but Ray told us that if you believe in yourself, “We were surprised when Ray was fired,” said Mary things will work out. We went on to the Super Bowl. Malavasi, “especially with the strike that year. It broke Not giving up, believing in ourselves made that possihis heart.” Many thought Malavasi would be back in the ble.” NFL soon, but a job never materialized. Some speculatThough the Rams would lose Super Bowl XIV to the ed he only wanted to return as a head coach; others said Steelers, the game, played before more than 103,000 Ray’s blunt, old school reputation kept him out. fans and millions more watching on TV, gave Malavasi “He was supposed to take a job with the Eagles,” says a moment on sports’ ultimate stage and secured his Mary Malavasi. “But it fell through.” Daughter Maureen place in football history.
76 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
“I’ll Betcha a Hat!” It was during an afternoon at the Hendricks Field Golf Club in Belleville that Vince Lombardi vowed to prove his friend Joe Grecco wrong. The two coaches were arguing about Lombardi’s new West Point recruit and Grecco’s former player, Ray Malavasi. Lombardi, then an Army assistant coach, loved the type of player Malavasi was, but vowed to change his lineman’s stance from wide to more compact. Lombardi believed the new stance would make Malavasi better; Grecco said Ray’s stance could not be altered without negatively affecting his play. Not one to refuse a challenge, Lombardi argued he could. “All right,” said Grecco, “I’ll betcha a hat!” At the end of the next season, Lombardi delivered a new hat to Grecco, admitting the Clifton coach was right about Malavasi. Grecco wore Lombardi’s hat during many Saturday afternoons on the sidelines at Clifton School Stadium.
Beach said her father was offered a position with the Chicago Bears, but didn’t want to move away from California and his children. Without football, Malavasi turned to business. While in coaching, he owned two restaurants and other ventures, but was never able to devote time to run them properly. His wife said he often listened to successful people, but was stubborn and followed his own advice. “He wasn’t a businessman,” she said. “Someone was always talking him into something. He was too good-hearted. He believed people.” After many businesses failures, Malavasi returned to football, coaching in the United States Football League and trying to get the International Football League off the ground. Neither league lasted. Before long, his bad business decisions landed him in deep financial trouble. In 1986, Malavasi declared bankruptcy. His health also worsened as he battled his weight and an alcohol problem. Mary left him when his drinking became too much. “His whole life was football,” Mary Malavasi said. “He loved the competition and camaraderie. When that was taken away, it was hard.” But with every setback, Malavasi fought back, searching to make things right. A job with International Daleco Technologies gave him some success as he used his engineering skills to work with holography, a process using laser light to produce three-dimensional images. However, the lure of football remained strong. In 1987, daughter Maureen remembered her father coaching in Australia before returning to California late that year. On Dec. 15, 1987, Malavasi’s health problems finally caught up with him. He suffered a fatal heart attack while at the federal court building in Orange County, Calif. Malavasi was there because of a suit over an old debt – one of six suits, the Los Angeles Times reported, pending against him. He was 57 years old. While the last years of his life were hard, they are only part of Ray Malavasi’s
story. He remained, as Bill Vander Closter said when he died, “the same guy he had been here in Clifton.” Rams quarterback Pat Hayden said, “He was a nice man … a guy who knew more about football from a technical standpoint than anybody I’d ever been around.” Guard Dennis Harrah said, “He’s the first coach I ever liked.” And Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Youngblood said Malavasi had “the most influence of any one man on my career. He didn’t just give you what he had, he gave you more.” Malavasi was also remembered as a devout Catholic, a man who could never refuse someone in need of a handout or a group seeking a free after-dinner speaker. He was also a devoted father who loved his family and made time for his children. Said daughter Maureen, “I still miss him so much.” As do his friends. They remember his talent as a Mustang football player, and how he was never too busy for a phone call or visit, even after he became Rams head coach. And they remember Ray taking them along in spirit – all the way to the Super Bowl. Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
Mustang senior Yash J. Prajapati has worked to balance mental and physical discipline in preparation for his career goal as a doctor – not just during high school, but from an early age. Since entering the Clifton school system in first grade, “the education I received here was truly amazing, it was more than I could ever ask for,” Prajapati said appreciatively. He’s worked to make the most of the opportunity. “I’ve been a honors and AP [advanced placement] for most of my time here and these classes really shaped me into the student I am today,” he said. It hasn’t always been easy, but Prajapati has discovered that patience is a virtue. “The difficulty of these classes has taught me to approach things with an open mind, to try to come up with as many solutions as I possibly can, because the one solution I may have in mind does not always work out,” he observed. “The skills and concepts I learned ... are something that I probably wouldn’t have learned elsewhere and I believe it will help me in my future. “I also got to work with the best teachers any school could offer.
I’ve been blessed to have the teachers that I have had and currently have; they’re truly the best,” he said. “They’ve also given me great advice about college and what to expect in the future. I’m grateful for the teachers I’ve had at Clifton and the things I’ve learned.” Prajapati’s favorite subject is biology “because the way life and living organisms work have always fascinated me. Biology holds explanations to things we experience everyday like why we breathe or why we grow. Biology gives me the opportunity to learn about the things that interest me,” he said. Away from the books, Prajapati makes an effort to keep his own biological package in good shape. “I am a three year, three sport athlete in Cross Country, Indoor Track and Field, and Outdoor Track and Field,” he said. “Running is something I look forward to almost every day. I love being with my teammates, they’re some of my closest friends.” After-school activities also include presiding as vice president of the Asian Club, and participating in the Clifton Student Union “when I can.”
A quest for knowledge — scientific knowledge — has driven Britney Quinones throughout her life, making her the October 2016 CHS Student of the Month. In our December edition, Britney’s last name was incorrectly published and to set the record straight, we publish her photo and name here again. 78 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
Yash J. Prajapati
A career in medicine beckons. “I’ve had my mind set on becoming a doctor for a long time now, and I’ve been doing the best I can, in high school, to prepare myself for this,” Prajapati said. “I want to be able to learn about medicine and how it works, the effects it has on the human body, and how to treat many illnesses and injuries. I want to use that knowledge to help others. “I also seek to take part in some research that can advance the field of medicine, but for now I’m going to take things one step at a time and see where it leads me,” he said. Prajapati’s counsel for incoming Mustangs? “The best thing about Clifton High School is the variety of sports and extracurricular activities that it offers,” he said. “CHS offers some great clubs and is home to the one and only Fighting Mustangs. I would advise these younger students to get involved as much as they can because the more you get involved, the better your high school experience will be.”
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Around Town Clifton at 100: Plans for celebrating the city’s centennial are in the works – all that is needed is you. There is a trip to Yankee Stadium, a night with the Jackals, museum visits, a trip to the 9/11 museum, a scavenger hunt, a garden tour, performances by the Theater League of Clifton, a parade on May 21 and a Gala on Nov. 30. Take an ad in the Centennial Ad Journal, sponsor a float or march in the parade or purchase some souvenirs. For info, call Keith Oakley at 201-774-6666 for floats, Ellis Berger at 973-951-8585 for bands and Norma Smith 973-330-1693 for marchers. Visit www.cliftonnj.org. Somewhere Over the Rainbow there is a cure for cancer. That’s the theme of the 13th Clifton Relay for Life which begins June 10 at 2 pm and concludes June 11 at 2 am at Clifton Stadium—that correct the new ending time is 2 am. Plan now to volunteer or organize a team— find out all the details at the 2017 kick off on Feb. 11 at 3:30 pm at the Senior Citizen Center, on Dog Pound Road, behind city hall. Join organizers and veteran participants, learn about Relay and enjoy refreshments. Go to relayforlife.org/cliftonnj or call 973-285-8030.
Call 973-340-0848 for Tickets
The CHS Class of 1967 50th reunion is April 22 from 7 to 11 pm at the Bethwood. The cost is $100, which will include a four-hour buffet and open bar as well as a DJ. Most important, there will be four hours available for catching up with old Mustangs. Checks should be made payable to Patricia M. Gibson, and must be received by Jan. 31, 2017. Contact Patricia Gibson (aka Patricia Stagnitto back in 1967) at email@example.com. The 13th Passaic County Film Festival is on April 22 at 10 am in Paterson’s Center City Mall. Film entries are due on Jan. 29, 2017. Filmmakers must live, work, or attend school in Passaic County. Categories include: general short film; public service announcement; documentary; music video and tourism, or eco-tourism; history short film. Awards for best film, best short film that highlights the issue of mental health awareness. There is no cost to enter a film or to attend. Hosted by the Passaic County Film Commission and the Office of Economic Development, the goal is to foster the growth of the motion picture and television film industry in Passaic County. Visit passaiccountynj.org/film.
Enjoy Great Food & Wines
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Cliftonmagazine.com • January 2017
Birthdays & Celebrations
Happy 30th birthdays to Amanda Jan. 2 and Joey Ajia Jan. 22. Austin Blesing turns 11 on Jan. 17. Vicky Petrovic will party on Jan. 5. Cindy Hawrylko is 26 Jan. 22. Skylar De Santis turns 12 on Jan. 17. Happy 19th Birthday to Patricia Fay Baran on Jan. 26. Happy 63rd Birthday to Bob Sandri on Jan. 6. And birthday greetings to L>akeviewâ€™s Barbara Bivaletz (Jan. 5) and hubby Steve (Jan. 9) who both celebrate 62!
Happy Birthday to... Send dates & names... firstname.lastname@example.org Shaun LaGala .................... Marek Rzasa ...................... Connie Zangara ................. Chrissy Cetinich.................. Matthew Delaney................ Amanda Esposito................ Kristin Reilly........................ Steven Hrina....................... Rosalie Konopinski .............. Ray Krenc .......................... Emily Zawicki ..................... James Dohm.......................
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Rich Peterson ...................... 1/4 Mohamad Bekheet.............. 1/5 Missy Fazio........................ 1/5 Alexander Ortiz.................. 1/5 Jeremy Delaney .................. 1/6 Gay Eaclie ......................... 1/6 Larry Homsany ................... 1/8 Amanda Curtiss .................. 1/9 Ariana Hryckowian............. 1/9 Joseph Perzely .................... 1/9 Fatma Bekheet .................. 1/10 Ronald Calo ..................... 1/10
Richie DeMarco................ Michael Gorny ................. Katy Sokolik ..................... Nicole Unis ...................... Megan Duffy .................... Daisy Colman................... Olivia Dohm..................... Rob Generalli ................... Joe Musleh ....................... Mark Stuart ...................... Kyle Santiago................... Susan Hernandez ............. Jennifer Montanile............. Matthew Soprano ............. Anna Tatarenko ................
Sister Yosaphata Litvenczuk, MSMG will be 82 on Jan. 15. Becca Potocki & Alyssa Philhower share a birthday on Jan. 1. Carlos and Dayana Sotomba celebrated their 8th anniversary on Dec 6. Carlos (AKA The Cake Boss of Lakeview Bakery) had a birthday on Dec 21. Dayana had hers on Dec. 7. Their daughter, Angely, will celebrate her 5th birthday on Jan 26. 80 January 2017 â€˘ Cliftonmagazine.com
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Isabel Victoria Calvo turns 2 on Jan. 12. Kim Barilari .................... Erica Pangilinan ............. Lindsay Dueben .............. 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...................
1/18 1/19 1/20 1/20 1/21 1/21 1/21 1/22 1/23 1/23 1/24 1/24 1/24 1/24 1/24 1/25 1/25 1/26 1/26 1/26 1/27 1/27 1/27 1/28 1/28 1/28 1/28 1/30 1/30 1/30 1/30 1/31 1/31 Cliftonmagazine.com â€˘ January 2017
Athanasios (Tom) Philis and Efstratios (Steve) Kolovas.
Where (and when) do you hang out to eat? If you like eggs, we got the place for you. Just across the Clifton border at Crooks and Getty Aves., The Egg Platter caters to those seeking a hearty breakfast. Crispy home fries— maybe the best in Jersey—large deep fried pork sausage, rye toast and three-over-easy is the way to go. With its Pullman Coach look and stainless steel exterior, The Egg Platter evokes old-time memories, but it’s able to make brand new ones, too.
82 January 2017 • Cliftonmagazine.com
One recent Google comment: “The waite staff are so nice and service is very fast. Great coffee, everything freshly made to order in this old-fashioned diner. The French toast is tasty and the eggs, of course, are perfectly made. Enjoy!” Bring your appetite and cash—no plastic accepted here. Hours are 7 am to 3 pm. What’s your favorite place for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Share the details and maybe we’ll feature them. Write to email@example.com.
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