Bayonne Community News

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Fundraiser started for family of teens who drowned


Principal Richard J. Baccarella proudly

announced the Bayonne High School Class of 2022

The 19-year-old and 16-yearold brothers drowned at the Lincoln Community School pool 31st Legislative District

keeping with a well-established tradition,

Circle of Ten. Listed here in order of ranking are 2022’s graduating students with the top ten grade point averages. 1 Cathryn Kuczynski

1. Cathryn Kuczynski

Chu Ming Zheng and Jack Jiang. Photo courtesy of Eliass Nid-Youssef.

2 Sohom Pal

3 Timothy Sim

4 Michelle Zimny

5 Amanda Kruchkowski

6 Elaria Abdy

7 Karolin Rezk

see CIRCLE page 7

8 Aliza Ahmed

9 Kirollos Agaybe

10 Polina Kukhar

10 Reese Trowbridge

By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


GoFundMe fundraiser webpage has been started to help support the family of the two teenage brothers who recently drowned at the Lincoln Community School pool. The brothers, 19-year-old Chu Ming Zheng and 16-year-old Jack Jiang, were pronounced dead by authorities on the evening of June 8. Jiang was a junior at Bayonne High School and Chu Ming Zheng was an alumni who recently graduated.

I am this year’s valedictorian. I will be attending the University of California-Los Angeles while double majoring in Business and Psychology. I was also accepted to New York University, University of St. Andrew’s, and University of California-Berkeley. While at UCLA I hope to further my involvement in psychological research while also exploring my interests in media. During my time at BHS, I have excelled in all rigorous AP courses, earning the award of AP Scholar with Honors. I pursued my passions for scientific research as a New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences Scholar, earned state

GoFundMe aims to help family

The fundraiser was started by Chu Ming’s best friend and neighbor Eliass Nid-Youssef. “On June 8, 2022 we all lost two brothers who are very dear to us and hold a special place in our hearts and forever will,” Nid-Youssef wrote. “They left this world and left their two loving parents and their 11 year old sister. Many of us loved these two boys and they both loved us. The memories we have of them will never be enough to match the energy that they brought into a room and the way they lit up a room every time they entered one.” see FUNDRAISER page 13



Man arrested following narcotic investigation





City Inaguration Ceremonies American Independence Celebration


FRIDAY, JULY 1, 2022 1:30 P.M. INAUGURAL CHURCH SERVICE St. Henry’s Church Avenue C between 28th and 29th Streets 3:30 P.M. SWEARING-IN CEREMONY FOR MAYOR DAVIS AND CITY COUNCIL Bayonne High School Auditorium 667 Avenue A

On June 14, Mayor James Davis meets with victims of the recent Broadway fire. Photo courtesy of Davis.

Pan-African flag raising for Juneteenth

Black in Bayonne raised the Pan-African flag along with officials the City of Bayonne on June 16. The ceremony held by the local non-profit in front of City Hall at 630 Avenue C was honor of Juneteenth on June 19. Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when Major General Gordon Granger landed with Union soldiers in Galveston, Texas, spreading word that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, meaning that the slaves in the Confederacy remained enslaved until Union troops arrived to enforce the Proclamation.

6:00 P.M. CELEBRATION DiDomenico-16th Street Park – Lower Level Below 16th Street and Avenue A

For more of this week’s news Free Children’s Rides 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Pay-As-You-Go Food Trucks 6:00 p.m. onwards

Concert by Just Jammin’ 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

9:15 P.M. (approximately)


Weather permitting. Rain date: Wednesday, July 6.

Bayonne Interfaith Clergy Association will again host mental healty events Bayonne grants preliminary approval for luxury redevelopment on Newark Bay Bayonne native serves at Naval Air Technical Center


2 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022

Read the full story at: hudsonreporter. com/2022/06/17/bayonne-raises-pan-africanflag-for-juneteenth.

Hakeem Lester, a 34-year-old from Bayonne, was taken into custody at 10:42 p.m. from the area of 19th Street and Kennedy Blvd. Narcotics Detectives observed Lester standing on the sidewalk in the area and had knowledge that a warrant for his arrest was in effect from a prior narcotics investigation. The detectives approached Lester and placed him under arrest under the authority of the warrant. As they were placing him under arrest, Lester threw a small plastic bag containing numerous pills of Xanax and began to step on it. During this arrest, Lester was also charged with numerous narcotic and firearm offenses resulting from a prior investigation of narcotic distribution June 3.

Menendez supports PACT Act

In Bayonne, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) called on his Senate colleagues to pass major bipartisan legislation that would expand health care and benefits to more than 3.5 million veterans across the country who were exposed to toxins while serving in the military. The legislation he is referring to is the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, or PACT Act. Menendez held a press event on June 13 at the Flournoy Gethers VFW Post 7470 on West 19th Street in Bayonne with a few words from Mayor James Davis and a slew of veterans. The bill was passed by the Senate on June 16. Read the full story at: hudsonreporter. com/2022/06/15/menendez-supports-legislation-to-expand-veteran-benefits.

Bayonne inauguration, festivities, and fireworks on July 1

Plans have been announced for the municipal inauguration, related events, and Independence Day fireworks that will take place on Friday, July 1. The day’s public events will begin with an Inaugural Mass at St. Henry’s Roman Catholic Church at 28th Street and Avenue C at 1:30 p.m. The Municipal Inauguration is scheduled for the Bayonne High School Auditorium at 30th Street and Avenue A at 3:30 p.m. At that event, Mayor James Davis, Council Member At-Large Loyad Booker, Jr., Council Member At-Large Juan M. Perez, First Ward Council Member Neil J. Carroll III, Second Ward Council Member Jacqueline Weimmer, and Third Ward Council Member Gary LaPelusa, Sr. will take their oaths of office. The inaugural ceremonies will also feature speeches by elected officials, prayers by local clergy, see BRIEFS page 12

Congratulations to Bayonne High School’s

Graduating Class of 2022! May your future be bright and filled with incredible opportunities! From your partner in education


Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 3

BCN welcomes entries of community interest for its weekly Calendar listings. To be considered for publication, entries must be received one week prior to publication date. No information will be accepted via phone call.


Diplomate, American Board of Internal Medicine Attending Physician at Carepoint Health Bayonne & Hoboken, RWJB Jersey City Medical Center.

NOW IN NETWORK WITH: ALL major carriers – Aetna, Amerigroup, Amerihealth, BCBS, Cigna, Clover, HNJH, Humana, Magnacare, Medicare, UHC, Oxford, UMR, Wellcare.

201-649-1190 • 523 Broadway (Corner of 24th & Broadway), Bayonne, NJ 07002 Visits by appointment (Book online or visit us on ZocDoc)

July 9, 2022, the Bayonne Elks 434 celebrates CHRISTMAS IN JULY. $10 donation for adults. Children under 12 free for BBQ, DJ, Santa and fun, fun, fun. Cash beverages available. Santa arrives around 2pm. Bring a wrapped gift if you›d like your child to receive a present from Santa. Phyllis and Adelaide are running a bus ride to Wind Creek Bethlehem PA July 17, 2022. Cost $40 with $35 slot play. Bus leaves 10:30 AM

SHARP from East 35st. Refreshments, served on the bus & raffles with great prizes too. For more information or tickets call Phyllis @201339-4517. Please purchase tickets in advance. Proceeds go to the Bayonne Feral Cat Foundation. Helping the stray cats of Bayonne. Thanks for your continued support. Bayonne Elks Lodge 434 bus trip to MONMOUTH RACE TRACK. Our first trip since Covid. Saturday, August 27th, 2022,

$60 includes food, private rail side picnic area and transportation. Lodge opens at 9am so you can ice your coolers and meet your bus mates. Grab a to go beverage for the ride. LODGE OPENS AT 9:00 AM. Bus leaves at 9:15 promptly. We are also providing lunch. (Menu to be determined). Rain or shine event. Bring your own beverages, snacks, cooler and sunscreen. NO HARD LIQUOR ALLOWED BY TRACK. Remainder can be paid the day of the trip. Contact Lisa DiLorenzo for seating or information. 201-5894344. Bayonne Pulaski Parade Memorial Committee Save The Dates: Commemorative Program Saturday, September 24, at 10AM, Bayonne High School Pulaski Wing. Polish Flag RaisingFriday, September 30 at 3:30PM, Bayonne Municipal Building.

Pulaski Day ParadeSunday, October 2. Buses will depart from the Polish American Community Center (at a time to be announced). St. Ann’s Society is planning a one day fun filled bus trip to Lancaster, PA. We are taking reservations now for an early start before the bus fills up. No money necessary at this point. Date is November 9, 2022. We are going to see the play Saturday Night Fever. Trip cost is $140 and it includes a scenic view on a comfortable COACH USA Bus, Raffles, Lunch, Play, and an Amish Goodies stop after the Play. Bus departs 8:15 am and returns approximately 7:30 pm. Come join us. For more information and sign up call Joanne 201 823 2096 or Rosalie 201 436 9565.

VFW Certificates of Recognition

On May 27, 2022, Scouts Michael Piscopo, Alexa Janeczko, and Justin Perry receive VFW 226

Services that keep you safe at home . Personal Care . Meal Preparation . Errands and Shopping . Transportation . Medication Reminders

Certificates of Recognition and DAV Chapter 5 Awards of Honor for the attainment of Eagle Scout — the highest rank achieved in Scouting.

Pet of the Week

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4 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022



The gardens in Bayonne’s county park now bare the name of Cherie La Pelusa. Photos by Daniel Israel.

Gardens in Bayonne county park officially honor Cherie La Pelusa The gardens are also dedicated to the 137 residents the city has so far lost to COVID-19

By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


udson County and the City of Bayonne have officially named the landscaped gardens in Stephen R. Gregg Park after Cherie La Pelusa, who passed away from COVID-19 in April of 2020. The gardens are also dedicated to all other Bayonne residents who have passed away from the virus. At the ceremony, the colors were presented by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and the Hudson County Department of Corrections Honor Guard. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Officer Lakia Gaillard of the county Department of Corrections sang the National Anthem before the colors were retired. Hudson County Commissioner representing Bayonne Kenneth Kopacz emceed the event. Father John Fencik of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church in Bayonne gave an invocation prior to speeches from local and county officials. “My wife told me Kenny, I’m so sorry it’s raining for Cherie’s event,” Kopacz said. “I said that’s not rain, that’s Cherie getting up early to water her flowers.

County executive lauds gardens

County Executive Tom DeGise spoke first and echoed Kopacz regarding the weather. “That’s just God watering the garden, getting it ready for all of us.” DeGise added the park has come a long way from when he used to be play ball at the fields there in his youth. “The park didn’t look like it looks now,” DeGisa said. “All of our parks are beautiful and this one in particular serves the people of Hudson County and Bayonne so well… Each year we went on improving this park, adding things to it.” DeGise said it was fitting the park was named after Cherie as well as those who have passed from COVID-19. “Dedicating it to Cherie is so applicable here. You’re looking at a guy who lost his wife at too

young of an age,” La Pelusa said. “You never get over, but you get on with it and you continue to grow. And for the La Pelusa family, every time somebody walks by this beautiful garden, which looks like Downton Abbey to me, every time they come by they’re going to think of Cherie and the La Pelusa family. I can’t think of a better remembrance to have. So for Gary and the family, on behalf of us in Hudson County, we’re very proud of this and to house these gardens right now.”

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Gardens memorializing those lost to COVID-19

Mayor James Davis also offered a few words about Cherie. “This is a solemn day for you to remember,” Davis said speaking to Gary and his family. “Cherie’s gardens are always going to be here. I couldn’t have found a better person that could have designed it and come out with it. Cherie’s gardens are for Cherie La Pelusa and for everyone who died from COVID. We went through a really, really tough time for two years, especially the first six months. Nobody knew what to do or how to handle what we were all dealing with. And as a community and as a county, we came together. We were all pretty much on our own to figure out how to fight this and how to keep our neighborhoods, our neighbors and friends, and our families together.” With 137 residents who have passed from COVID-19 in Bayonne alone, Davis said that no one has been unaffected. Davis said the gardens are a great way to reflect on those lost to the virus “COVID became just like cancer; I don’t think there’s anyone sitting here today whose life wasn’t touched by COVID,” Davis said. “That’s what this garden will do for each and every one of us. It’s for all of us to reflect and remember all of those we lost during COVID.


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see GARDENS page 13 Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 5

MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR By the Honorable James Davis

Beautiful Gardens

The students of Ms. Jody’s KB class of All Saints Catholic Academy released their butterflies and were joined by both first grades.

Students in Mrs. Kelly’s Kindergarten class enjoy Field Day with some good old sack races! It was an awesome day!

Ms. Toomey’s Bayonne High School Model UN students organized and facilitated a Jr. Model UN Conference for 7th & 8th graders.

Henry Harris May Students of the Month

Mr. Hoffman’s Lincoln Lions visited the Statue of Liberty, a national icon & beacon of liberty!

Bayonne Community News 6 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022

Henry Harris Community School is proud to announce 6th grade student Aniyah Soto garnered 1st place in Bayonne Board of Education’s district wide 1st annual John Rodrigues Civic Competition. Pictured: Aniyah Soto with HEH Social Studies teacher Mrs. Dana Simone.

Henry Harris Community School’s Principal Mrs. Maria Kazimir and Assistant Principal Mrs. Luisa Jaros proudly announce the May 2022 Students of the Month: K - Maiven Milad, Messiah Harvey, Andrew Stencel, William Mercedes Guerrero Gr 1 - River Chasmer, Nofer Shenouda, Camila Delacruz Gr 2- Karas Maher, Abigail Alicea, Khalil Rhodes Gr 3 - Lorina Makar, Carina Bautista, Sebastian Herrera Gr 4 - Arianna Vilardo, Addison Liana, Lucas Rogers, Alex Galinda Gr 5 - Davyn Ward Cheatham, Giana Amaro, Emma Rodriguez Gr 6 - Mariam Boktor, Alice Cerdas Reyes, Anaya James, Kerolls Shenouda Gr 7 - Robert D’Rosario, Junia Bashout, Ella Grace Janeczko, Elijah Ramirez Gr 8 - Connor Price, Daniel Olivera, Leanna Pelliccia,

Last Thursday, the County of Hudson held a ceremony dedicating the Cherie LaPelusa Gardens on the lower level of Stephen R. GreggBayonne County Park. The gardens are named in honor of community activist Cherie LaPelusa, who passed away from the Coronavirus in 2020. She was the beloved wife of Third Ward Council Member Gary LaPelusa, Sr. Located between the foot of the park stairway and the boathouse restroom building, the gardens will serve as a beautiful reminder of Cherie and all of those who have passed away during the pandemic. As I said in my remarks at the event, “All of our lives have been touched by COVID.” We will remember the lives we lost, what we went through, and how we came out the other end of the crisis. County Commissioner Kenny Kopacz of Bayonne said that the gardens would serve as “a special place” that would also remind us of the first responders who have worked so hard during the COVID-19 period. County Executive Tom DeGise remarked that it was “so appropriate” to dedicate the gardens to Cherie. He recalled the loss of his own first wife. Gary LaPelusa, Sr. came up with several concepts for the layout of the six parts of the garden area. Each section is 29 feet in width and 63 feet in length. In total, the project includes 3,000 plants that include flowers, bushes, and grasses of various kinds. It took four-and-ahalf months to complete. The Hudson County Landscaping Division did a magnificent job. The workers had to overcome flooding and encounters with wildlife that included herons and turtles. (The animals had their own ideas for the land.) Gary paid tribute to the skill and dedication of the workers. He also thanked County Executive DeGise and his staff, the Hudson County Parks Division, the Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs, and everyone else who helped develop the gardens project. Gary paid tribute to Cherie, calling her “my right arm in everything.” He said that Cherie “did not deserve the ending that she got.” Gary reminded the audience that Cherie’s mother also passed from COVID within a few days of her daughter. The LaPelusa family joined officials in unveiling a memorial plaque to Cherie at the end of the ceremony. I hope that everyone will take enjoy the memorial gardens and will remember the people we have lost to COVID whenever you visit that special place in the county park. These beautiful gardens will inspire visitors in every season for years to come.

BAYONNE BOARD OF EDUCATION Administration Building 669 Avenue A Bayonne, New Jersey 07002 Dr. Gary R. Maita School Board Secretary

Tel: Email:

(201) 858-5801

BAYONNE BOARD OF EDUCATION ELECTION CIRCLE from cover awards for my National History Day documentaries, and was named a state ambassador for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation. I also founded my own Non-Profit organization dedicated towards giving back to my community. Outside of the classroom, I found my second family on the volleyball court. I have played on the Girls Varsity Volleyball for the entirety of my time at BHS, serving as the Team Captain both my junior and senior year. I further pursued my athletic career as a member of Central Jersey Volleyball Academy’s 18s National Team where I was able to compete with renowned club teams from all across the country. In honor of my athletic abilities, I was awarded the NJSIAA Scholar Athlete Award. I would like to thank each and every one of my teachers for all of their continued support, and I attribute my successes to the love and encouragement of my parents and older brother.

The election for members of the Bayonne Board of Education will be held on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022. The deadline for filing to seek a seat on the nine (9) member board is Monday, July 25th, 2022 at 4:00p.m. Nominating Petitions are available from the Office of the Hudson County Clerk – Elections Division is open between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and is located at 257 Cornelison Avenue - 4th Floor, Jersey City, NJ 07302. The contact number is 201-369-3470 extension 2767 or option 6. Petitions are available on the county clerk’s website at Completed nominating petitions must be submitted in person and must be received by 4:00pm on July 25th, 2022.

There are four (4) seats available: ➢ Three (3) seats available each for a term of three (3) years which will be voted upon The terms of Lisa Burke, Jan Patrick Egan & Denis Wilbeck are expiring.

2. Sohom Pal I am the salutatorian of the Bayonne High School Class of 2022. I will be attending the Honors Academy at Rutgers University School of Engineering, majoring in computer and electrical engineering. I was also accepted into New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of Connecticut and Stevens Institute of Technology. Throughout high school, I took a challenging course load including numerous AP and Honors classes in subjects ranging from Calculus, Computer Science and Physics to History and English. I have taken seven AP courses throughout high school, and received the AP Scholar award. I consistently earned First Honor Roll and earned Principal’s Honor Roll numerous times throughout my high school career. I was a member of the Bayonne High School National Honor Society, and National World Language Honor Society. I was the co-captain of the robotics team 16557

➢ One (1) seat available each for a term of one (1) year which will be voted upon The term of Hector Gonzalez, Jr. is expiring. Candidates filing a nominating petition for Board membership must meet the following qualifications: • He/she is a citizen of the United States of America • He/she must be at least eighteen (18) years of age to qualify for office • He/she must be able to read and write • He/she has been a resident of the municipality from which he/she is to be elected for at least one (1) year preceding the date of the election • He/she is not disqualified as a voter pursuant to N.J.S.A. 19:4-1 • He/she is a registered voter in the district • Not hold office as a mayor or member of the governing body of the same district • He/she is not disqualified from membership on the Board due to conviction of a crime or offense listed in N.J.S.A. 18A:12-1 • He/she has no interest in any contract with, or claim against, the Board A Candidate’s Kit is available from New Jersey School Boards Association (“NJSBA”) at:

see CIRCLE page 8

NOTICE - SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES GOVERNOR MURPHY SIGNED BILL S868 – Permits candidates for school board to circulate petitions jointly and be bracketed together on ballot; permits short nonpolitical designation of principles on petitions and ballots. H:\Resolutions\Elected School Board\Election process - July 25th, 2022 submission for November 8th, 2022 election date - 6-13-2022.doc


6/15/2022 9:04 AM Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 7

CIRCLE from page 7 which participated in the state tournament this year. It was an incredible achievement after 4 years of being part of robotics. I participated in Physics Olympics, TEAMS, and the Hudson County Science Fair. I attended Proyecto Science during the summer for three years. I was awarded the William Gawor Perpetual Scholarship. I am very blessed and grateful for my loving and supporting family. I am also incredibly grateful for my awesome teachers for their immense support, and my friends who helped to make these four years amazing and always brought out the best in me.

3. Timothy Sim I will be attending Princeton University on a full ride as a QuestBridge Match Scholar Recipient. I will be attending as a Molecular Biology or Chemistry major in the upcoming fall. I have tried many extracurricular activities and clubs in my Freshman year, but I ultimately stuck with Robotics and Latin Club for my four years of high school. In Robotics, I was the Head of Documentation and Outreach for his team 16557 - Honey Kilo-Ohms. In Bayonne High School Latin Club, I climbed up the Cursus Honorum, becoming the club Consul (President equivalent) for my Junior and Senior year. I was also involved in the New Jersey Junior Classical League State Board as a Convention Coordinator from Sophomore to Senior year. I have been inducted into the National Honors Society, National English Honors Society, and National Junior Classical League Latin Honors Society. I have also received AP Scholars from College Board and the Latin Scholar Award from Senior Awards Night. In the summer before my Senior year, I attended the New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences program, where I was challenged and grew intellectually. After this program, along with past experiences with cancer in my family, I strive to attend medical school after Princeton and work towards becoming an oncologist. I credit my success to God. I would like to express my gratitude towards my family, friends, and teachers for their support and encouragement.

4. Michelle Zimny In the fall of 2022 I will be attending Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, majoring 8 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022

in Nursing. My ultimate goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner and obtain a Masters and possibly a Doctorate degree in Nursing. Throughout high school, I gravitated towards math and science based courses, while I still took advanced placement and honors courses in all core subjects, including the Italian language. My affinity for math has allowed me to progress through the many levels and make it to AP Calculus BC my senior year. Throughout my high school years I’ve been awarded both First Honors and Principals Honors many times. I was also recognized for my academic achievements through inductions to the Rho Kappa Honor Society, National English Honor Society, National Honor Society, and World Language Honor Society (Italian). While at Bayonne High School, I participated in the Organization for Student Stem Advancement where I completed a research project and cared for animals in the BioDome, wrote for The Beacon school newspaper where I obtained the title of Section Editor for In and Around BHS, and joined the Girls’ Golf team my senior year. My senior year was also when I was selected to be the president of the Italian Club due to my academic excellence in the language. Being awarded spot number 4 in the Circle of 10 would never have been possible without the support of my family, teachers, and friends. Bayonne High School has given me a plethora of opportunities to flourish that I will forever be thankful for as I continue my educational journey.

5. Amanda Kruchkowski I am number five in the circle of ten! I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh as a joint major in mathematics and economics with a possible minor in political science or finance in the fall. I aspire to pursue a career working with technological companies or working for our government in Washington D.C. Throughout high school I have taken nine different honors courses and nine different advanced placement level courses including my favorites: Calculus AB, Economics, and American History. My freshman year I received the Principle Honors Awards and each year of high school I have received the First Honors Awards. I have also earned the AP Scholars award, the Pi award, the William Gawor Scholarship and the Garfield Unico Scholarship. I am a part of the National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, the Rho Kappa History National Honors Society, and the World Language Honor Society. In addition to being a mathematics tutor during the week, I participated within the Bayonne High School Girls Soccer Team, the Bayonne High School Business Club and the Bayonne High School Model United Nations Club. On weekends I worked at the Bayonne Korpi Ice Rink as a skate guard and cashier. I met some of my best friends here and without their friendship and support I do not know where I would be today. I want to thank my parents, grandparents, brother, dog and all of my family who helped me along my high school journey. I am extremely grateful for them and their help, and I am beyond excited to see how I grow and the new opportunities that await me.

6. Elaria Abdy

8. Aliza Ahmed

I believe that one of the most important qualities a person can possess is love, and that the greatest kind of love is “laying down one’s life for one’s friend”. All of this adds up to the self-sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of others, or, as we call it in current parlance, service. Love is shown through the sacrifices a person makes. I believe that serving my God comes first — even before my education — and I feel that this is accomplished by serving others. I have valued community service throughout my time at Bayonne High School, whether it was assisting at my church’s summer camp or participating in Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church’s Annual Festival. I’m the student who asks all the questions outside of service. This is something that any of my teachers can attest to. I also challenge myself to work harder than I believe I am capable of. I’m a member of several of Bayonne High School’s Honors Societies, and I’ve been in Chorale for all four years of high school. I was able to work my way up to Chorale President, and while I have no plans to pursue a career in music, it has taught me a lot about perseverance and determination. With this, I began the college application process, and I am now committed to Kean University, where I will pursue a degree in Biomedicine through their NJCSTM program. Hopefully, this will put me on the track to become an Emergency Medicine Physician.

Born in Jersey City, I am ranked 8th in the Circle of Ten. I am secretary of the French club and Student Government Class Representative. I also participated in numerous other activities in her time at BHS, including Peer Leadership, Interact Club, Science Club, and the Biology and Chemistry Leagues. Additionally, I am a member of the National French and English Honor Societies and the SEEDS College Scholars Program. Outside of school, my hobbies include drawing, reading, and playing the violin. I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania in the fall, and plan to major in Biology with a concentration in Molecular & Cell Biology. I hope to contribute to research and innovation in the field of medicine as a biomedical scientist in the future.

7. Karolin Rezk I am ranked number seven in the circle of ten for the 2022 school year. This fall, I will be attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology with a major in engineering. I was also accepted into universities like the Stevens Institute of Technology, Montclair University, and Rutgers Honors College. Through my challenging coursework, I have discovered my love for math and science. I took AP and honors classes in English, history, calculus, and physics, chemistry but I also took four years of Spanish, which spiked my interest in other cultures and languages. I have been inducted into the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, and World Language Honor Society and constantly achieved first honors as well as principal’s honor roll. I loved being a part of the Business Club, Peer leadership, Student ambassadors, and Coptic society here at BHS. Outside of school, I enjoy painting, shopping, and watching tv shows, and would also love to start getting into pottery. I am grateful to my friends and teachers for the memories we made along the way and for all they have taught me. I would also like to thank my parents and family for their constant support and encouragement. Lastly, I would like to credit my achievements to God.

9. Kirollos Agaybe Throughout my four years at Bayonne High School, I have committed myself to service; service within and outside of the high school’s bounds. Ranked nine in this year’s Circle of Ten, education has been my life– through God at Virgin Mary’s and St. John’s Coptic Orthodox Church and my studies in AP and Honors classes. I am a very active servant in my religious community, volunteering in the Coptic Festival, partaking in altar services, and teaching the hymns of the Coptic Church to underclassmen. In my academic community, I participate in several Honor Societies, am a lead engineer on the BHS Robotics team, and have received First Honors every quarter of my four BHS years. In my athletic community, I am on the Boys Varsity Soccer team and am a captain of the Varsity Swimming Team. These commitments to helping others and being an active leader in my community have inspired me to pursue a career as a General Physician, starting off with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology under the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). I would like to extend my gratitude to my guardians and role models who have supported me in all aspects of my religious and educational life: my wonderful parents, my church servants, specifically Mena Raafat who has coached me in many ways, and my father of Confession Abouna Elijah Ibrahim. I’d also like to thank Mrs. Lavery and Mrs. Kalinowski for their memorable classes and commitment to helping me grow as a student and individual.

10. Polina Kukhar In February of 2019, I transferred to Bayonne High School, furthering my athletic and educational pursuits as a Bee. Needless to say, this decision was a fruitful one; my time at BHS has been essential to my growth as an individual. Academically, I am pursuing an Honors and Advanced Placement course load. These classes introduced me to incredible role models and educators: Ms. Cortes, Ms. Kalinowski, and Mr. Lombari. My academic recognition consists of membership in the NHS, WLHS, EHS, and RHO Kappa honor societies, AP Scholarship with Honor, American Legion’s regional writing competition winner, and an accepted New Jersey Scholar under the NJSP. Between see CIRCLE page 9

Bayonne hospital eminent domain application withdrawn

City Council President Ashe-Nadrowski questioned the honesty of Mayor James Davis’s Administration By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


CIRCLE from page 8 school years, I was a Summer Scholar under the Kode With Klossy program, designing and coding impactful websites alongside talented young women, as well as a counselor under the National Organization of Russian Explorers, devoting four weeks to counseling and service. Many positive memories have come from my involvement in athletics. As Captain of the Girls Varsity Soccer team, I have been introduced to camaraderie and work ethic unlike any other. From this experience, I have been awarded HCIAL’s Scholar-Athlete and the Ray Arszulowicz award– I thank him for giving me the opportunity to further my education and for being incredibly active in the Girls Soccer community. In the Fall of 2022, I will be pursuing a Data Science degree at Columbia University. I hope to use my faculty in technology to improve communities and to make my wonderful family proud. 10 Reese Trowbridge I will be attending Villanova University’s College of Arts and Sciences in the fall. I will be studying biology and plan to pursue a career in the medical field. I am currently the president of the 2022 Bayonne High School student government and have been a contributing member of the board since my freshman year. As president, the student government and I effectively planned and hosted some of Bayonne High School’s most successful student body events to date. Throughout my time at Bayonne High School, I have been a member of many other clubs and activities, including Model United Nations, in which I have competed in multiple national and international conferences, and the Bayonne volleyball program. I was a part of the New Jersey Association of Student Council’s 2021 state board serving as the Executive Member of State Charity where I had the opportunity to work with many other incredible student leaders across New Jersey. With the help of other student councils in New Jersey, we were able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the charity I had the privilege of working with. I have been inducted into the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, the Rho Kappa National Social Studies Honor Society, and World Language Honor Society for French. I would like to thank all of my teachers, family, and friends who have been a part of my journey for their immense support and for encouraging me always. Without them, I know I would not be where I am today.

ewly publicized emails show that the application by the City of Bayonne and Hudson County to acquire the property of Bayonne Medical Center was withdrawn from the state back in December of 2021.

Recapping a complicated history

For over a year, the Bayonne City Council has postponed a vote on two ordinances that would provide $95 million in bonds to fund the condemnation of Bayonne Medical Center through eminent domain by the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA). That possible action followed CarePoint Health’s sale of the hospital, and designating BMC Hospital, LLC, formed by the principals of surgery center chain Surgicore, to operate the facility. The hospital land, however, was sold to Hudson Regional Hospital in Secaucus in 2020 at the same time the deal was inked with BMC Hospital, LLC. With Hudson Regional seeking to both own and operate the hospital, a war began over who would run Bayonne Medical Center’s operations. In a move that ultimately supports BMC Hospital LLC, the county initiated the eminent domain process in 2020. The city followed and the city council introduced and subsequently held a public hearing on both ordinances in May of 2021, but has since postponed final passage pending approval from the state.

‘Groundhog Day’ finally over?

City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, who regularly opposes the eminent domain ordinances, says the conflict is between private entities that the city shouldn’t be involved. She points out that local zoning protects the hospital from being redeveloped into anything else. Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace has abstained on voting because he sits on the board of Bayonne Medical Center. Then in a surprising twist, Ashe-Nadrowski was joined in May by the rest of the council including First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll, Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa, and City Councilman AtLarge Juan Perez, in voting no on the first ordinance, striking it down 4-0. When that seemed to some of the council to be an accident, the council then voted to postpone the second hospital ordinance, waiting for approval from the state. AsheNadrowski voted against postponement and Gullace abstained, while the other members voted for it after clarification from Law Director Jay Coffey.

Ashe-Nadrowski’s and Gullace’s respective opposition and abstention have essentially killed the ordinances, which require a supermajority of four of the five council members to vote yes to pass. But instead of holding a final vote on either of them, the other council members have argued it was improper to vote on the ordinances until a determination had been made by the Local Finance Board, which is a part of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Officials including Coffey, Carroll, La Pelusa, and Perez among others had argued the council was waiting on the Local Finance Board. But it now appears the board had made its decision back in December of 2021.

Emails show application withdrawn in December

In the summer of 2021, the Local Finance Board declined to approve the bonding. Instead, it requested additional information from the HCIA and the City of Bayonne. While officials said the board was still waiting on the city and county, that is not the case. Emails provided to Bayonne Community News show an interaction between Nick Bennett, the Secretary of the Local Finance Board, and Michael Hanley of NW Financial, which represents the city and the HCIA, that confirms that the application was withdrawn. On October 25, Bennett emailed Hanley asking for the status of the application. On October 27, Hanley stated that “there are current conversations ongoing that will influence how and if we move forward. But there is no definitive conclusion at this point” and said he would follow up when he had more information. The Local Finance Board confirmed that it was waiting for the city and HCIA as of early December of 2021. “As of October 27, 2021, the applicant has not determined how to move forward,” said Tammori Petty-Dixon, Director of Communications for the Department of Community Affairs, told the Bayonne Community News, noting that “the application is still pending but considered incomplete until such time that the Board’s concerns are addressed.” On December 23, Bennet followed up with Hanley as to the status of the application, asking if the HCIA would like it withdrawn. He also noted that there had not been new financing information since July of 2021. On the same day, three minutes later, Hanley replied that “it can be withdrawn.” And minutes after that, Bennet confirmed that the $95,000,000 HCIA application for the Bayonne Hospital was withdrawn.

Ashe-Nadrowski questions honesty of administration

The issue of the bonding has been discussed at various council meetings. Ashe-Nadrowski

The battle over the operations of Bayonne Medical Center appears to have no end. Photo by Daniel Israel.

pointed out that at each meeting when the topic was raised, Coffey advised the public and the council that the application was pending in front of the state’s Local Finance Board, and that no action should be taken until the board reviewed the application. Throughout the recent mayoral campaign, Ashe-Nadrowski underscored that Mayor James Davis also argued that the bonding was needed to ensure the continued operation of the hospital and that he was committed to the city acquiring the property. Davis also said that no action should be taken until the Local Finance Board ruled. “One of the primary responsibilities of elected officials and representatives of the city is to be open and honest with the public about what is actually happening,” said Ashe-Nadrowski. “Unfortunately, in Bayonne that doesn’t always happen. For the City Administration not to disclose to the Council and the residents that the application had been withdrawn is unforgivable.” Ashe-Nadrowski predicts that the city administration’s answer to discovering the application no longer exists will be that they did not know the application was withdrawn. “To continue to mislead elected officials and the public on such an important issue, whether willful or due to incompetence, is unacceptable,” added Ashe-Nadrowski. “I believe the council members I have served with acted on the information as provided to them.”

Last council meeting with current council tonight

Ashe-Nadrowski moved once again to have the council vote down the remaining hospital eminent domain ordinance. At its June meeting, the rest of the Bayonne City Council voted with her unanimously 5-0 to reject that ordinance. This is the last official meeting prior to the July 1 reorganization meeting of the newly elected council members. Ashe-Nadrowski also offered some parting words for the new council ahead of the June meeting. “I would encourage the newly elected council members to verify the information they are provided,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “As someone once said, ‘A half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.’” Coffey confirmed to the Bayonne Community News that Hanley had withdrawn the application back in December. However, he stated: “No one advised me.” For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 9

Bayonne collecting gift card donations for those affected by Broadway fire

Firefighters put out the blaze on June 7 with no injuries, but the

A total of 24 residents were displaced, with 11 permanently displaced by the fire

By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


ayonne is collecting gift card donations for the 24 residents who were displaced by a recent four-alarm fire on Broadway. Additionally, several online fundraisers have been set up for the victims as well.

Large blaze on Broadway

At 10:21 p.m. on Tuesday, June 7, the Bayonne Fire Department was dispatched to 326 Broadway on a reported bedroom fire. Upon arrival, units were met with heavy fire conditions on the first floor of the three-story, sixunit masonry residential building. As smoke and flames worked their way up through the building, firefighters were able to rescue a woman who was trapped at a thirdfloor window using a tower ladder. Firefighters used multiple handlines to fight the blaze, which progressed to four alarms. The fire was declared under control at 1:49 a.m. “I responded to the scene and watched the heroic efforts of our police, fire, and EMS as they worked for hours to keep the fire from spreading to nearby structures,” Mayor James Davis said in his weekly COVID-19 video update. “Thankfully, no one was injured.”

No injuries were reported and a fire investigation is underway. However, the fire does not appear to be suspicious in nature. The fire building sustained heavy fire damage and must be demolished, with the roof and third floors collapsing on to the second floor. However, firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the adjacent structures.

Eleven residents lose everything

While no one was hurt, 24 people were displaced. Of those 24 residents, 11 are permanently displaced from the fire building at 326 Broadway. Meanwhile 13 others are displaced temporarily, with 10 from 324 Broadway due to smoke and water damage. Three others from 328 Broadway are temporarily displaced until 326 Broadway can be demolished. As such, the city is banding together to support those affected. Davis announced in a later statement that gift cards are being accepted by the city for the residents involved, which includes six families. “Earlier this week, some of our neighbors were left homeless by a large and destructive fire on Broadway,” Davis said. “Six families have lost all their possessions in addition to the roof over their heads. At this time, I want to ask our community to step up to help our

fire building was devastated by the flames. Photo courtesy of Bayonne Office of Emergency Management.

friends in need, as you do every time one of our own needs help. If you have the means, I’m asking that you purchase a gift card (any type/any denomination) so that we can help these families purchase items they will need to move forward. I am going to accept these gift cards at my office in City Hall and we will get them to these families right away.” Residents can bring gift cards to the mayor’s office at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. All displaced are under the care of the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management and the Red Cross. The city continues to support everyone affected, according to Davis: “Bayonne always steps up and I thank you all in advance for your generosity and compassion!.”

Several fundraisers started

In addition to the city raising donations, there are also GoFundMe webpages started online for various victims of the fire.

Students and school board officials remember teen brothers after tragic drowning The 16- and 19-year-olds passed away at the Lincoln Community School pool on June 8

By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


t its June meeting, the Bayonne Board of Education took time to honor two local teenage brothers who recently drowned in a school district pool. At the June meeting, Board of Education Maria Valado offered a few words before leading a moment of silence. “This was a very sad week in the city of Bayonne for our school community,” Valado said. “Two young lives were lost. Id like to take a moment of silence for Chu Ming and Jack, who were lost at the prime of their lives.”

Tragedy at Lincoln Community School pool

The brothers, 19-year-old Chu Ming Zheng and 16-year-old Jack Jiang, were pronounced dead by authorities on the evening of June 8 after drowning at the Lincoln Community School pool. Jiang was a junior at Bayonne High

10 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022

School and Zheng was an alum who had just finished his freshman year at the University of Miami. The incident occurred at approximately 8:23 p.m. when the pool is open to the community after school hours. While three lifeguards were on duty, the drownings still occurred, although the incident reportedly occurred in a closed secondary pool meant for diving that is smaller than the primary pool but deeper. A third sibling, their sister who is in the fourth grade at Horace Mann Community School, was present at the pool during the incident, but was not involved, according to police. Additional details to continue to emerge in the wake of the tragedy at the Lincoln Community School pool. Meanwhile, the pool is closed and crisis counselors and guidance counselors are available at schools.

A moment of silence

Amid the many questions that have arisen in the wake of tragedy, the board has commis-

Alyssia Ouhocine, the outgoing student council representative to the board, spoke at the June meeting regarding the recent passing of Chu Ming Zheng and Jack Jiang, a recent alumni and student at Bayonne High School respectively.

sioned an independent investigation into the incident. At the same time, the Bayonne Police Department, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the school district insurance carrier are conducting separate investigations, according to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz. Mayor James Davis has recently urged the community to be patient regarding the inquiries into what happened that evening. Davis said Police Chief Robert Geisler is leading the investigation: “Please be patient as the police and the Board of Education investigate exactly what occurred.”

To donate to Kayla Silvani and her boyfriend Ryan, who recently moved to Bayonne and lost all their possessions, go to: gofundme. com/f/two-loving-people-who-lost-all-belon gings?qid=2b1b654848533a4e9026bcb0f0f 3f066. Another fundraiser is for Nereyda Ozuna, who recently moved here from New York City also lost all their belongings in the fire, at 48533a4e9026bcb0f0f3f066. To donate to a woman only identified as Judi, an employee of the 5th Street Deli who lost everything including her three beloved cats, go to: For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

Awaiting the results of the investigation, officials and the rest of the community alike mourn the loss of life and offer thoughts prayers to the family. Prior to the moment of silence at the June meeting, the board highlighted another death in the community that occurred recently. In addition to the two boys, Valado also asked everyone to reflect on the loss of an unnamed custodian “who also lost his life.” “It was a very sad week in our school district,” Valado said. “Please let’s have a moment of silence.”

Student rep offers solemn words

Outgoing student council representative to the Bayonne Board of Education Alyssia Ouhocine also addressed the board on the tragic loss of life. Ouhocine mourned both Zheng and Jiang, in a short speech before briefly touching on other subjects. “They were friends to so many of us and just incredible people who were good, and talented, and kind,” Ouhocine said, choking up as she fondly recalled the two brothers. Ouhocine asked people to donate to an online GoFundMe fundraiser webpage currently accepting donations on behalf of the family. The district previously collected gift cards at the Korpi Ice Rink at the high school until June 13 to give to the family. see MEETING page 11

Bayonne advances senior and supportive housing project on Oak Street

The building will be up to 10 stories and have 70 units maximum By Daniel Israel Staff Writer


ayonne has moved forward with plans to construct a new senior and supportive housing building. The Planning Board first advanced plans for the site at 7 Oak Street and West Oak Court at its June 14 meeting. City Planner Suzanne Mack presented the necessary amendments to the 8th Street Rehabilitation Plan that would allow the project. The site is approximately half an acre of fenced-in vacant grassy area that is not open to the public. The rear of the site abuts Route 440. “It’s a big open area, which is nice, but at this point in time it would exciting for the public to be able to repurpose it and actually have multifamily housing,” Mack said. The plan, which encompasses a mile radius around the 8th Street Station of the HudsonBergen Light Rail, has been amended several times since its passage in 2015. According to Mack, the past 12 amendments to the plan often have offered specifics for various sites in the redevelopment area. “There have been many times we’ve appeared before the board to try to get some area plans for specific sites,” Mack said. “This is a site that is a really unique opportunity for us. It is a venture that we have been working on with the Bayonne Housing Authority on this for seven months. The project is to create senior and supportive housing.”

Much-needed senior, supportive, and affordable housing

Mack noted this was in accordance with the Master Plan, but is the first of such project to come before the board since she has been City Planner. In 2005, the property was part of a then scattered site plan for properties across Bayonne. Then, in 2015 it was included in the 8th Street Rehabilitation Plan. Formerly owned by Public Service, Electric and Gas (PSEG), the site the housing building will be constructed on had been remediated enough for the land to be sold to the Bayonne Housing Authority. Meanwhile, other land adjacent to the site is still not ready to be remediated and are still owned by PSEG. The site is historically contaminated, being the Hobart Classification Plant from the 1800s through the 1900s, according to Mack. According to Mack, the vision for the area is multi-family housing and a community park on both this site and the other PSEG-owned site across the street. She implied the park may occur in the future once PSEG cleans up the site on the other side of the road. Lowering the height and unit count? The amendments to the plan dictate that the building be anywhere from six stories to ten stories. However, Mack said she had recently

been informed it was only cost effective to go with six stories. “We have had further discussions that there would be a maximum of six stories with two stories of parking and four stories of residential,” Mack said. Instead of 40 to 60 units, there will only be 40 units. Of the 40 units, 20 would be for seniors and the other 20 would be for supportive housing. There are no studio units proposed. There will be 700 square one bedroom units, 900 square feet two bedroom units. All units must have a window, the exact number of each unit type in this regard is not clear yet. The building would have permission to have pharmacies, medical offices and other services available in the building, as well as a community room, exercise room, and other civic uses. There is a 1:1 parking ratio required. However, Mack said that parking is usually very low at this buildings given the nature of the residents and that could be reduced. And there will be a .5 bike parking ratio required, although that could be changed too. Mack also reviewed other criteria necessary regarding green roofs on the facility, landscaping, and traffic in the area. She concluded by reiterating this was a rare project that does not usually come before the board.

Commissioner concerns over unit count

Commissioner and Secretary Sharon AsheNadrowski praised Mack over the parking ratio. She acknowledged that residents may not drive, but some units allow for family or caretakers to live in the senior or supportive housing and they may need the parking. “They would be more for the supportive housing, so those people may not drive but those who are caring for them at certainly going to need a car to get back and forth,” AsheNadrowski said. “So I think the parking 1:1 is great. Because you have visitors, therapists, and caregivers…” Ashe-Nadrowksi also asked about if the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund was chipping in toward the project. She said the city “should have a lot from all of the developments and PILOTs we gave out.” Mack replied: “At this time, the only thing the city is doing until there is some agreement between the city and the Housing Authority, we have a firm that handles our affordable housing and they’ve been participating in the pre-development calls. But there’s no agreement between the city to do that at this point. I imagine there will have to be as they move forward.” Lastly, Ashe-Nadrowski criticized the project for being small. “I’m a little disappointed that it’s only 40 units,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “The number of people on the backlist for housing is tremendous. They’re 10 years behind, I think…”

Taller building means more senior and supportive units

Ashe-Nadrowski continued: “It’s great we’re doing something. We haven’t done something in years. But it would be great if it could be ten stories… Maybe the city can contribute Affordable Housing Trust Fund money to provide more units… The possibility of satisfying more affordable housing would be great. ” Mack agreed that it was “an awful lot of work for 40 units” and that it was a “financing thing, but that planning redevelopment plans are not supposed to be based on finances.” She suggested to perhaps leave the plan as is with the possibility of having up to a 10-story building with 60 units, if the board so felt that way. “Perhaps after the plan is adopted they can look into again. There was some discussion about the costs of going stick versus steel but why not? The plans are good for 20 years.” Ashe-Nadrowski noted there is a lot of money coming from the federal government and that there could be something that could apply to this. She added: “I recommend we leave it open. If we can’t do it, we can’t. But if for somehow, we got windfall of money and it can be done, it would be great to add a little bit more to senior housing.” The commissioners present then voted unanimously to adopt the amendment to the redevelopment plan as-is allowing 10 stories and 60 units.

City council adopts resolution

At the June meeting of the City Council, a resolution was up for adoption by the council that “finding and determining that the Supportive Housing and Senior Affordable Housing building commonly known as the Oak Court West Property Project proposed by the Bayonne Housing Authority meets or will meet an existing housing need.” However, the resolution only said it was for six stories and 40 units. Ashe-Nadrowski, who is also outgoing City Council President, corrected it at the June 15 meeting, with Bayonne Housing Authority Executive Director John Mahon noting the maximum number of units was actually 70. For Ashe-Nadrowski it marked something of a final win on an issue that she raised previously during the municipal election. She thanked those who worked to make the project continue to move forward. “This is something that is in dire need in Bayonne, affordable housing, senior housing, and supportive housing for those who live on their own,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “It’s much needed.” On the vote, City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez echoed Ashe-Nadrowski thanked Mahon for working to make the project a reality: “We’ve been talking about this for the past six years, getting senior affordable housing here. We need this desperately because we have a lot of seniors. We need affordable housing for se-

A rendering of a different senior housing building that Mack imagines the building in Bayonne could look like once constructed.

The current state of 7 Oak Street.

niors here. And I’m glad that’s for people with disabilities too. The 70 units will be just great. The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution. Going forward, the project will likely need final site plan approval from the planning board before shovels hit the ground. For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

MEETING from page 10 “I encourage everyone to support the boys’ family,” she said. “There is currently a GoFundMe that is collecting donations that go directly to them. No amount of money can bring those boys back, but it’s the most we can do to support them in this very difficult time.” Ouhocine continued: “The Bayonne High School community is mourning this tragic loss. And they will always be in our hearts.” She ended by quoting Maya Angelou: “I answer the heroic question, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ with ‘It is here in my heart, and my mind, and my memories.’” For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 11

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Our deepest sympathies BAYONNE COMMUNITY NEWS 201-798-7800 12 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022



Estrella, Javier, 53, of Bayonne, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 9, 2022 at the Staten Island University Hospital. He was born in Quito, Ecuador before coming to Bayonne many years ago. Javier worked as a manager for Fabuwood Company in Jersey City. He was a beloved husband to Lucila A. Pareja, a loving father to Manuela and her husband Esteban. Services were private, and a Memorial Mass was offered on June 17, 2022 at Blessed Miriam Teresa Parish at St. Andrew’s Church, Bayonne. Funeral arrangements by: Migliaccio Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 851 Kennedy Blvd. Gretkowski, Theresa Marie (nee: Dunn), 93, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 10, 2022. Theresa was born in Bayonne, NJ and resided there all her life. She was a retired secretary for the First Jersey Bank in Bayonne for many years. Beloved wife of the late Victor Gretkowski. Cherished mother of Patricia Sullivan and her husband Daniel, Donald E. Gretkowski and his wife Catherine, and Susan Donovan and her late husband Mark. Devoted grandmother of Danielle Eakins, Tricia Markham, Jason Gretkowski and Bryan Gretkowski. Adoring great-grandmother of Andrew and Matthew Gretkowski, Myla and Kate Eakins, and Ryan Markham. She was preceded in death by her three brothers. A Funeral Mass was held on June 14, 2022 at St. Paul the Apostle Church, J.C. Interment followed, Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in her memory to: Peace Care at St. Ann’s Home, 198 Old Bergen Road, Jersey City, NJ, 07305. Funeral arrangements by: G. Keenen O’Brien Funeral Home, 984 Ave. C. Mercado, Victor Manuel, 75, of Bayonne passed away peacefully at the Bayonne Medical Center on Thursday June 9, 2022. Victor was the owner/ operator of Vic’s Service Station in Bayonne. He was a beloved husband to Rosa (née: Revilla), a loving father to Victor Mercado and to Melanie Mercado-Connor and her husband Charles. A dear brother to Jose Agustin Mercado (Milta) , Jose Alberto Mercado, Angel Garcia (Awilda), Jorge Mercado (Brunilda), and to Ana Riveiro (Manuel), and his sister in law and brother in law Yolanda and Jose “Pepe” Lamela. Also survived by many nieces, nephews and friends. Victor was predeceased by his parents Ramon and Julia (née: Colon) Mercado, his brother Angel Mercado and his sisters Carmen Mercado and Marta Tiemeyer. A Mass of Christian Burial was offered on June 15, 2022 at Blessed Miriam Teresa Parish at St. Mary’s Church, Bayonne. Private cremation followed. Funeral arrangements by: Migliaccio Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 851 Kennedy Blvd. Ryan, John M., 60, a lifelong resident of Bayonne, NJ, passed away on Friday, June 3, 2022. John proudly worked for the City of Bayonne for many years. Loving son of the late Carolyn (nee: Hvam) and Henry Campbell. Cherished brother of Joyce Campbell and Kathleen Gann. John is also survived by dear aunts, cousins, and many nieces & nephews. A Memorial Mass was held on June 18, 2022 at St. Henry RC Church, Bayonne. Funeral arrangements by: G. Keenen O’Brien Funeral Home, 984 Ave. C.

The 7th grade class of All Saints Catholic Academy received their class rings at a prayer service conducted by Fr. Phillip Sanders, pastor.

BRIEFS from page 2 and musical entertainment. Weather permitting, the festivities will continue at the lower level of DiDomenico16th Street at 6 p.m. The food trucks and children’s rides will be available beginning at 6 p.m. The rides will shut down at 8 p.m. Music will be provided by Just Jammin’ from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Garden State Fireworks will launch fireworks at darkness or approximately 9:15 p.m. Read the full story at: hudsonreporter. com/2022/06/16/bayonne-inaugurationfestivities-and-fireworks-planned-for-july-1.

Zoning application turnaround time amended

Bayonne has extended the response time the local Zoning Officer has to respond to submitted applications. The Bayonne City Council voted unanimously to adopt two ordinances doing so at its May meeting. Law Director Jay Coffey said that the new turnaround time of ten business days is a statutory requirement. Read the full story at: hudsonreporter. com/2022/06/07/bayonne-amends-zoningapplication-turnaround-time.

Woman charged with threatening to shoot post office Rev. Juan Rojas, parochial vicar of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, prepares to pull the 50/50 winner for the spring drawing assisted by Vinnie Angrosina, a member of the finance council.

Bayonne Community News For Information on Placing a Memoriam Please Call 201-798-7800

Taquaya Ratcliff, a 32-year-old woman from Brooklyn, was taken into custody at 5:10 p.m. from the area of 26th Street and Broadway. Officers responded to the U.S. Post Office located at 570 Broadway on a report of a female that was threatening to harm postal employees and customers that were present. During the investigation, it was learned that Ratcliff entered the post office in an irate state due to an issue with missing mail and a check contained in that missing mail. According to witnesses and two employees, during her tirade, she threatened to hurt the two employees then threatened to return and shoot everyone present if she did not get her missing check returned to her. She was subsequently charged with making terroristic threats.

Bayonne Community News

FUNDRAISER from cover Nid-Youssef is asking for donations to help the family with funeral costs and other associated expenses. “I write this and create this page as Chu Ming’s best friend and neighbor to ask you, the people who they loved and the people who loved them, to please help us in trying to support Chu Ming and Jack’s family in this time that they are facing by raising some money to help cover the funeral service and for any other expenses the family deems right,” NidYoussef continued. “I plan to take all the money raised and hand it to the family as a check so they can spend it however their hearts desire whether that be funeral service, bills, etc.” Donate online at: 38f024f0bc38eb39. As of June 13, $22,441 from 363 donations has been raised out of the $25,000 goal. The community has undoubtedly shown an outpouring of support since the fundraiser was

GARDENS from page 5 But also, to remind us of what we went through and how we came out the other end… I always say this: We’re all different. Look around, everybody here is different. We all look different. But at the end of the day, we all want the same thing. We want to live our lives in peace and we want to raise our families. We want to be with our friends and watch our children grow and prosper. That’s what this garden for Cherie will stand for, each and every one of us.”

Husband remembers late wife

Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa thanked everyone for coming out amid the potential rain. La Pelusa, who is also the Manager of Hudson County Parks and Grounds, said the community has been supportive even as the gardens were being planted. “While we were doing the work here, the outpouring of support, even from the people visiting the park, has been outstanding,” La Pelusa said. “People taking pictures and coming up and giving us compliments. It’s just an amazing thing. I feel a little overwhelmed sometimes when people give us those compliments.” While the whole area can be considered “Cherie La Pelusa Garden,” he explained, there are six individually planted gardens that line the overall garden in the county park in between Newark Bay and the famous stairs. “These six gardens are named for my wife Cherie, but they’re also for all those who lost their lives to COVID-19. Also, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention my mother-in-law Adrienne Marangio, who also passed from COVID-19, four days after my wife Cherie.” Each garden is 29 feet by 63 feet wide. He thanked this crew that helped him plant it, the Hudson County Landscaping Division including Supervisor Federico Nealon, Sykes Dunbar, Harold Healy, Mike Soluri, Jerome DePippa, as well as La Pelusa himself. “This started in Decmeber of 2020. I envisioned making these gardens with a lot of color,

established on June 10. In addition to the fundraiser, gift card donations for the family were accepted at the Korpi Ice Rink up until June 13.

Multiple investigations underway

Mayor James Davis offered his condolences on the deaths of the brothers on the night of their passing. “The City of Bayonne is in mourning tonight, as we learn of the passing of two teenage brothers, who drowned this evening at our Lincoln Community School Pool,” Davis said. “I ask that we all respect the privacy of the family, as they deal with this unspeakable tragedy. We all pray for comfort for our neighbors.” Following that, in his weekly COVID-19 video update on June 9, Davis said investigations into the “unspeakable tragedy” were underway. “We are all numb as we try to process this tragedy,” Davis said. “I ask that everyone please say a prayer for our neighbors who are suffering so much at this time. I spent time at

a place where June bride and grooms could take wedding photos and high school kids could take prom photos. I wanted to make my own little Versailles if I could. A place that no one would forget. I pitched my idea to our county bosses. They were all interested to see what could be done with this area. This area habitually floods, and so I came back from vacation last year on August 30. The gardens were under construction. We had a couple somewhat done.

Project perseveres amid flooding

“On September 1, we had record rains,” La Pelusa recalled. “There was two feet of water that surrounded everything that we had planted. So we were wondering how are we going to take care of this habitually flooded area. We persevered and as we went along with the project, the more plants that we put into the ground, the more they absorbed the water. We still get some water issues here and there, but they’re not as bad as they used to be.” In addition to helping with flooding, the gardens add color back to an area that historically was adorned with colorful shrubs and flowers. He spoke with Kopacz before heading to the county for support. “We spoke to some our bosses here and we wanted to do something spectacular,” he said. “He supported me in such a big way, I can’t even begin to thank you for that. So last spring, we got the budget approved to install sprinklers, drains, pavers, walkways, and 3,000 plants. These plants will bloom at various times between April and November.” La Pelusa chose the best out of ten designs he drew up using digital landscaping software. Now each of the six gardens has a unique design, with plants that will bloom continuously throughout the year. “We tweaked each garden so there’s a couple of subtle differences in each garden,” La Pelusa said. “Right now, there’s close to 4,000 blooming flowers in these gardens. I am not sure, but I believe this is one of the largest projects in the history of the park system. The project took

the emergency room last night and spoke to our police chief who is leading the investigation into what happened. Please be patient as the police and the Board of Education investigate exactly what occurred.” In addition to the Bayonne Police Department, the Bayonne Board of Education as well as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the school district insurance carrier, according to Superintendent of Schools John Niesz. “This is an active investigation at this time,” Niesz said in a letter to the community. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and to all of our community.”

Details continue to emerge

Many questions remain regarding the incident which occurred when the pool is regularly open to the public during after school hours. The pool is now closed until further notice and crisis counselors and guidance counselors will be available for students in the wake of the boys’ deaths.

four and a half months to complete. The installation was done by my crew from the Hudson County Landscaping Division. They did a great job, and they worked tirelessly to get these gardens looking their best.”

An homage to Cherie

La Pelusa described how the gardens were a loving homage to his late wife: “While we were designing and planning and installing the gardens, I couldn’t help but think of my wife Cherie. She was such a big part of my life and my home… We were married for 28 and a half years and have four beautiful children: Gianna, Jennifer, David, and Gary. She really was the best mother and wife, and one of the smartest women I’ve ever known. She was a great judge of character. And much like my daughter Gianna, she was tough but lovable; she was my biggest critic and my biggest fan at the same time. She was my life partner, my business partner, and my political partner. I always talk in my fundraisers, I used to always mention that Cherie was my right arm. And she was my right arm, and everything else. I threw myself deeper into my landscaping work when we lost Cherie. And she didn’t deserve the end that she got. There was no wake, no funeral. COVID was in full force when she passed. And I can’t draw. And I can’t paint. So I wanted to make a statement to Cherie. And though these gardens, which are my art, this is the only statement that I could probably make.” Overall La Pelusa was over the moon with the gardens and thanked everyone involved in the multi-million dollar project he touted was done in-house. “A couple of really good things came out of this,” La Pelusa said. “We get to enjoy the park itself forever and Cherie is going to be immortalized in the park. Another thing is, there’s been some wildlife that’s been coming around the park. We have a family of blue herons that come around now. We’ve had turtles that want to lay their eggs in our gardens. Just in the last couple of weeks, we had three or four. So I’m

With three lifeguards on duty at the time of the drowning, many questions still remain as to how the tragedy was allowed to occur. According to NBC News, the teenagers allegedly drowned in a secondary pool intended for diving which was apparently closed at the time. Lifeguards pulled both teens from the pool and began life-saving measures until authorities arrived. EMS, police, and firefighters immediately responded to the scene and also administered CPR before transporting the boys to the hospital, but brothers were declared dead at Bayonne Medical Center. A third sibling, their sister who is in the fourth grade at Horace Mann Community School, was present at the pool during the incident, but was not involved, according to police. Additional details to continue to emerge in the wake of the tragedy at the Lincoln Community School pool. For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

very pleased with the way it came out and the outpouring of love.” A commemorative plaque for Cherie was unveiled at the start of the gardens by Gary and Gianna. Then Fencik led the closing benediction, and food and refreshments were served to those in attendance. For updates on this and other stories, check and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at

Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa reflected on the loss of his Cherie and dedicating the gardens to his late wife.

Gary and Gianna La Pelusa unveil the plaque dedicated to Cherie. Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022 • 13




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14 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022

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16 • Bayonne Community News • June 23, 2022