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FREE, Please Take One

Volume 1 Issue 2 June 2018


A Range of Ages and Stages Prepare for Graduation

And The Emmy Goes to... Janice Molinari

He’s Part Pirate, Part Sherlock Holmes, Part Marty McFly... Pastor Matt Jones

Page 2 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Considering A Move? A s a Fellow Mt Olive Resident and Realtor since 1996, my passion has been to help make the selling process as stress-free, lucrative and successful as possible for my Clients. And as the years have gone by and technology changed our real estate world, I realized that as one Agent alone, I could not provide all the services that my clients needed in order to get the best possible results from their move. So I formed a Team of people with individual strengths & talents who would ensure that we could provide the absolute best service to our clients. I am YOUR Agent throughout the process- but to help get you through to a successful closing table, I have outstanding Team Members who help me coordinate it all for you! Whether you are buying your 1st home, moving up to your dream home, downsizing to a condo or ranch, or relocating out of the state, reach out to me! You deserve positive results - the value, services and resources that my Team and I can provide! Contact me - I would love to help make your dreams come true!

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Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 3

Page 4 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life


Mt. Olive Life


e would like to thank all our readers for their support and send us photos from your family vacations. information on on our premiere issue. The response has been over- your life events, parties, birthdays, weddings, engagements or whelming as locations been calling us to send more any other milestones. You can send them to editor@mylifepubmagazines. Remember you can all receive yours via email by sign We welcome your feedback as up at it will emailed well to the same email. to you each month free of charge. WE NEED YOUR HELP: You can also visit our website Mount Olive has so many great people Consider us the facebook of prin or on Faceand organizations. We need your help to t (without all the politics) and send us photos book under “Mt Olive Life.” let us know who those people and orgafrom your family vacations. information on your Please support our advertisers nization are. You are the eyes and ears of life events, parties, birthdays, weddings, in our publications as they make the town. Email us with any suggestions engagements or any other milestones. You can this magazine and our newspathat you have to feature residents that send them to pers available free to all with their have achievements that we might not ever advertising support. We want to know about. In this issue we featured our graduating students, Mt. Olive help the local businesses and your support of them is apprecidads, The Budd Lake Diner’s Anniversary, Mt. Olive resident Jan- ated. Thank you for choosing “Mt. Olive Life” to read and enjoy. ice Molinari, a great article on Pastor Matt Joans of Mountain Top Church as well as where to get a great pizza in town. Joe Nicastro & Mary Lalama WE NEED YOUR HELP: Publishers Consider us the facebook of print (without all the politics)

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Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 5


Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired? Exploring Another Treatment Option For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

hronic fatigue immunodeficiency syndrome (CFIS) also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) is a disabling and poorly understood illness that is becoming more widespread in Western countries. CFIS is a term used to describe a myriad of neurological, neuromuscular, and immunological abnormalities. The initial onset of CFIS consists of flu-like symptoms including fever, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, chills and extreme fatigue. The chronic manifestations of CFIS always include disabling fatigue but can also include muscle and joint pain, sleep disorders, headaches, hypo- or hypersensitivities, cognitive disorders, depression, malaise, anxiety, irritability, confusion, weight fluctuations, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, muscle fatigue, worsening PMS, visual disturbances, tachycardia, paresthesias, dry eyes, dry mouth, night sweats, skin rashes and decreased sexual desire. The etiology of CFIS is still

unknown, but the suspected cause is a viral infection. Some researchers believe that CFIS is actually a neurological response to a viral infection. Since there are no absolute markers or lab tests to confirm the illness, chronic fatigue immunodeficiency syndrome is often diagnosed by symptoms alone and by process of elimination. For the same reasons, western medicine has no treatment for chronic fatigue. Instead, doctors prescribe individual medications to deal with each of the associated symptoms. As with any illness, traditional Chinese medicine treats the individual on a case- bycase basis. A diagnosis is made based on the individual’s symptoms as well as their tongue and pulse presentations. The patient’s tongue is inspected and 6 pulses are felt on each wrist in order for the Acupuncturist/ Chinese Medical Practitioner to determine the diagnosis. Since chronic fatigue manifests differently in each person, this

method of diagnosing is superior. The treatment plan is then formulated based on the individual’s diagnosis. As you can see in the chart- one Acupuncture treatment plan will address all of the individual’s symptoms as well as the illness as a whole. This is known as a root and branch treatment. Addressing the root cause of the chronic fatigue is addressing the illness as a whole while treating the

branch aims to relieve all of the symptoms associated with the illness. A single Chinese herbal formula can also be prescribed to treat both the root and branch of the chronic fatigue syndrome. For more information about Acupuncture and Chronic Fatigue Immunodeficiency Syndrome, call Kearstin R. Tripi, L.Ac at Mt. Olive Acupuncture & Wellness 973-527-7978.

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Page 6 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Dads in Mt. Olive Celebrate Their Day In Their Own Way


By Cheryl Conway ronic that the saying ‘ladies first’ holds true when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day in May and then Father’s Day in June. Well move over moms, as the time to celebrate dads is now here with national Father’s Day set for Sunday, June 17. Whether grills are firing up for family barbecues, reservations are being set at favorite restaurants, a lazy nap awaits under a tree, or golf clubs are getting packed in the trunk for a day on the green, dads of Mt. Olive are looking forward to their day to relax and enjoy. According to history, Father’s Day in the United States was first celebrated in Washington State on June 19, 1910, when Sonora Smart Dodd came up with the idea of honoring and celebrating her father while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at church in 1909. Her dad, William Smart, a veteran of the Civil War, raised six children by himself on his small farm after his wife died while giving birth to their sixth child. To show her appreciation for all of his hard work and love, Dodd thought there should be a day to pay homage to him and other dads like him. She initially suggested June 5, the anniversary of her father’s death to be the designated day to

Mt. Olive Dads Father of six takes pride in his role


y the time Father’s Day rolls around soccer season is usually over so dads often don’t find themselves on the soccer field watching their kids play, unlike Mother’s Day which is the common place to be for soccer moms. But for Todd Conway of Flanders, father of six children who all play soccer, there is nothing he enjoys more. Conway, 50, looks forward to his annual Father’s Day Cup on his front lawn every Father’s Day since his kids were little. “It’s an annual soccer tournament that I have with my six children that was started with my boys,” says Conway. “It went from a 2v2 to a 3v3 tournament with one sub. We make a Father’s Day Cup out of


celebrate Father’s Day, but the date was deferred to the third Sunday in June. Another story of the origin of Father’s Day occurred on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, W. Va., when Grace Golden Clayton suggested to a local Methodist church minister that services be held to celebrate fathers after a deadly mine explosion killed 361 men. While Father’s Day was celebrated locally in several communities across the country, baby steps were taken before it became an official holiday. President Calvin “Silent Cal” Coolidge recommended in 1924 that Father’s Day become a national holiday, but no action was taken. Years later, in 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson made an executive order that designated the third Sunday in June as the official day to celebrate Father’s Day; but it wasn’t until 1972, during the Nixon administration, that Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday. As far as other countries, Father’s Day is also celebrated but on various dates throughout the year. In Mt. Olive, June 17, is the day when dads in Flanders and Budd Lake look forward to spending time with their families and even their own fathers.

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 7

Mt. Olive Dads

The Conway family, pictured, from left, are Jonah, Todd, Cheryl, Molly, Griffin, Skylar, Devin and Eli.

cereal boxes. We make it into a World Cup but we call it a Father’s Day Cup and we paint it and then the winner takes the cup. “It kind of defines who I am as a dad,” says Conway. “I’m a sports fanatic and coached my kids when they started to walk, introducing sports into their lives; soccer first then basketball,” for a total of 12 years as a volunteer coach for both sports. He recalls his favorite Father’s Day: “The one year we finally beat Jonah and Griffin in the Father’s Day Cup; we lost every year.” Conway would team up with his third son, Skylar, and they would play against his two oldest sons Griffin and Jonah every year. With five boys and one girl, ages 21 to 11, competition is the norm in the Conway household. Besides his traditional game, Conway hopes to visit his dad in Maryland the day before “to spend quality time with him given that his health is not well; it’s a terminal illness.” On Father’s Day, he plans to either go out to dinner with his family or barbecue for everyone, which he does not mind. As a father of six, Conway pitches in with all tasks - such as laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, taking the kids to practices and games, discipline, helping with homework, yard work, cleaning, house repairs and paying the bills. “I share 50 percent of the responsibilities with my wife, my spouse,” he says. “I want to; it defines who I am, a provider, a father, a husband.” Being the youngest out of seven growing up, with five sisters, Conway was guided early on how to perform all those house chores. He does admit that his success would not be possible without his wife, Cheryl, by his side. University of Maryland college sweethearts since 1989, the two just celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary. “What helps in my success? My wife,” says Conway, “being able to help in the responsibilities of everything we have to do. I would not be able to juggle it all without my spouse. She is an amazing mother and makes my job as a father that much easier and enjoyable.” They work as partners and share in each other’s roles. “The trick is being proficient in multi-tasking, being very segmented down to the minute, whether its grocery shopping and

knowing Shoprite closes at 7 p.m. on Sundays after all the soccer games have been played by 6:10 p.m., knowing I will take 40 minutes to shop.” While his role keeps him busy most of the time, Conway likes being a dad. “I enjoy the thought of being needed every day and helping my children,” says Conway. While he cherishes many favorite memories as a dad, one of his fondest moments was “moving my son into his first dorm which happened to be my dorm at the University of Maryland. That’s when I realized I was a father.” Another favorite moment was “welcoming my daughter into this world- my wife giving birth to my only girl because we tried having a girl and we kept having boys.” Molly falls right in the middle with three older brothers and two younger brothers. Conway will always remember the time in 2004, “driving my kids to North Carolina to the ACC Tournament with no tickets on a last minute decision to see our alma-mater play in the finals against Duke, then getting on TV for the pregame while we were walking through the coliseum.” He had four kids at the time and his wife, who was pregnant with number five, joined in the basketball game adventure. Besides traveling far away to sporting events, Conway enjoys eating out at his favorite restaurants with his family; taking them to Ravens football games; going on rides at the amusement parks; family vacation at Wildwood since his oldest was a baby; and even hanging at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake. “We spent so much time there as a family,” Conway says about the local park. “It has so many activities you can do there- run, walk, play sports, ride bikes.” He has lived in Flanders for 25 years, a place he has learned to call home since moving from his native Maryland to take a job in N.J. right out of college. It was fate that he landed a job in the same state as his college sweetheart/future wife. With his job he relocated twice out of state, to Pennsylvania and then Maryland, but he eventually made his way back to Mt. Olive.


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Mt. Olive Dads

“I chose Mt Olive so that my wife and I could be close to my in-laws who live in Roxbury Twp. as they have helped us in raising our children,” explains Conway. “I truly am grateful for all of their help and love over the many years.” Making some good friends along the way helped. “Greg Jones brought me to Mt. Olive,” he says. “I remember meeting Greg during our visit to viewing the home construction at Flanders Crossing; right after I met Greg and Jan after their home selections, my wife and I decided to buy our first home in Mt. Olive. It’s funny, in 2000, we sold our home in Flanders Crossing due to relocation, company moved me back to my home state of Maryland. Not realizing, where my true home was, I had missed Mt. Olive, N.J. We were only in our Annapolis home for six months and I made the choice to come back to Mt. Olive because I missed it that much. Greg and Jan have not missed any of our kids bat/ bar mitzvahs in the 25 years of knowing them.” He has enjoyed “the people, the connections you’ve made over the time you live here, it goes with the kids- as your kids get older your friends change with your children.” He also commends the schools. “The facilities are amazing, amphitheater, the bubble, the turf field, the music studio, the club sports,” he says. It even has its fair share of diversity, he adds. Conway shares some advice to new dads or those expecting. “Don’t pass up the moment to take part in your child’s life from the time they are born until they leave for college,” Conway says, “the time moves pretty fast; whether it’s coaching, mentoring,

home projects or participating in clubs or activities together.” His third child graduates high school this month, so he will have three in college and three still at home. Despite his busy job as a systems engineer in the information technology field, Conway made some time over the years to get involved as a volunteer coach with the Mt. Olive Soccer Club and travel basketball, before forming his own AAU team for boys basketball. While his volunteering has slowed down, he says he tries to give back to the community by shopping local. “I support the businesses with gas, stores, car repairs, clothing and kids working locally.” One positive quality that helps in the success of a father is “the willingness to compromise with your children because they are all very different; and to listen to them.” He says “I try to model my family around my best friend’s parents; I wanted to emulate that- The Wisemans. I watched how they raised their family, their three boys. “I am mildly strict,” he says in disciplining his kids, teaching them about “having good manners, being respectful, being polite, being very serious about your education. School-work came before playing.” His goals as a dad are “to be out of credit card debt” and “to ensure my children reach their maximum goals.” To do that, he says, he needs “to always be there for them no matter what.” Conway concludes, “Being a father is one thing I know I will not screw up. It’s just something I take pride in doing every day.”

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Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 9

Mt. Olive Dads


Biological, adopted, foster and exchangelocal man expands his role as father

ody Lee Fulton, 40, who lives in the Hackettstown section of Mt. Olive, currently has five kids under his care: Two are biological, one is adopted; one is a foster child; and another is an exchange student. Married to his wife, Sarah, for 21 years, “her family moved on the same road I lived on in Connecticut when I was 15 and she was 13. We started dating at 16 and 14.” Fulton became a father in 1997 at the age of 19, when his daughter, Shyla was born. Two years later his son, Garrett was born. Shyla, 20, attends County College of Morris in Randolph and Garrett, 18, is a senior at Mt. Olive High School. Their adopted son, Mason, is 5 and he attends Mt. Olive Child Care & Learning Center in Budd Lake in Flanders. They also

Pictured, from left, is Shyla, Sarah, Jody and Garrett Fulton.

currently are caring for a 15-year old foster child, Krys; and a 14-year old exchange student named Edison who also attends MOHS. “He is from China,” explains Fulton. “This is the first year MOHS is hosting exchange students, so with my son being a senior, we decided to give it a try. I lived in

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Korea for a year while I was in the Air Force, and my wife and I have always thought it a good idea to expose our children to as many different cultures and experiences as possible. “He has been here since last August, and he will be leaving the end of June,” he says. “It is a one year program.”

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Page 10 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Dads

Some may question how the Fultons manage as many as they do and why they chose to take in other children. “Good question especially since we are not from the area, and we do not have family within 250 miles to help,” says Fulton. “You just commit and stick with it. I often hear people with one child or a spouse who do not work say they have no time for things. People don’t realize how much time there is in a day. It just depends on how you choose to spend the time you have. “We could have been empty nesters at 40 years old, and had all the time to ourselves,” he adds. “What good is that though? Someone once told me ‘You can’t help everyone, but you can help those who you come in contact with.’ That has stuck with me.” The Fultons have been foster parents since 2013, taking in seven children the past five years: “Two for 19 months; two for 12 months; three for a long weekend. One we adopted Jan. 2017. One has been with us for several months.” Becoming foster parents was his wife’s idea. “My wife has always wanted to do foster care,” says Fulton. “I can’t take credit for starting foster care. We share all of the responsibilities but it was definitely her desire.” His advice to those wanting to foster a child: “Do your research and understand what you are getting into. A child is not an animal you get at the pound and give back when times get hard. I don’t know how else to put that, but it is very challenging at times, and you must be prepared. It can also be very rewarding to help a child who needs someone in their life.” With Father’s Day approaching, Fulton looks forward to his usual hiking or walking. “That is what I enjoy doing so that sounds good for this year,” he says. One of his favorite Father’s Days was “about five years ago my kids made a picture collage of some of the times we have spent together. It was special because they got together and made it on their own. Still sits on my desk at work.” As a father, Fulton says he appreciates “The challenge, the adventure. Being able to look at your kids and realize that they have turned out to be amazing, caring, and special adults.” His kids have been his best friends. As a family, he says they have been “growing up together in different places. I was active Air Force for 10 years. We moved into nine different houses and four different states together. They have been like our best friends since we never had time to make great, long-lasting friendships.” Their favorite past-times have been “Spending time outside, whether it is taking day hikes, playing ball, doing yard work, or just watching the birds. Nature and creation hold tons of valuable lessons. The park is always a hit. “When we first moved to Mt. Olive we lived across the street

from Turkey Brook,” he says. “The park helped us to enjoy Mt. Olive to the fullest. It is a great, safe place for the entire family. The town in general has a safe and accommodating feel to it.” Although he is a busy dad who also supports his family as a machinist for the past 22 years for the Air Force, private sector, Navy as a civilian, and for the Army as a civilian for the past 9 years, Fulton helps out as much as he can at home and continues to learn. “We have always picked tasks that we enjoy or at least don’t mind as much as others,” he says. “For example my wife does laundry because she likes it to be done a particular way. I like cooking so I do a large portion of cooking and the dishes. I have always done yard work and I try to involve the kids as much as possible.” Outside the home, they continue to improve their parenting skills. “For the past couple of months my wife and I have been attending a parenting class at MOCC,” he says. “Yes at 40 years old and after having nine children under my care at one time or another. As I said you can never learn too much. We have gained a great amount of knowledge from attending these meetings, and it is a great time for moms and dads to spend time together. They offer free dinner and child care during this 11 week course.” Some of the strategies he uses and qualities he tries to uphold as a parent have been effective. “Patience of course,” is one characteristic. “Being a bit of a kid yourself never hurts, just as long as you know when to be the adult. You have to have good morals, ethics, or whatever one chooses to call it. Kids are watching your every move, and nothing steers them wrong more than a hypocritical action. He says it’s also important to “respect your spouse, show respect for all nationalities, races, etc. Show your children that even though you are the parent, you too respect their thoughts and feelings. If possible continue education or any other type of learning. Show your kids the desire to learn and they will enjoy learning as well.” He offers advice to other dads: “Having kids is a lifelong commitment, and the most important thing you will ever do. Each stage is a new journey, and each child is unique. You can never learn too much so seek sound advice from people who make wise decisions. Most of all, make sure your kids know you love and respect their mother, and that you love and respect them.” As he continues in his goals as a father, Fulton says: “I think I started off with the same ambitions that many do; that they do great in school and in sports. That they continue their education and be successful. As they got older the main things were that they were kind, trustworthy, and that they were confident. I have found that if they hold these types of values the other things will follow.”

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 11

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Page 12 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Dads Single dad, entrepreneur, enjoys one on one time with his son


wning his own business and working 100 hours a week does not stop Ricky Rodriguez of Budd Lake from spending quality time with his 15 year old son Alec. “I always go home to have dinner with him,” says Rodriguez, owner of Sweet Dreamzzz Bedding and Furniture in Budd Lake who has lived in town since 2009. “I sit down with him, talk about his day then I come back.” He uses his slow cooker at home, closes the store between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., puts a note on the door announcing to customers that he is going home “to bring my son food;” and closes to take him to football practice. “I never miss a game no matter where it’s at. If I have to close the store, I close the store.” Rodriquez says “people say ‘how do you spend time with your son?’” As a single father, Rodriguez was married for seven years before his divorce in 2010. While being a single parent can sometimes have its challenges, Rodriguez seems to handle his role in stride. “After a while it becomes a habit,” says Rodriguez, who’s been a dad since 2003. “It becomes a norm. “You do it every day, after a while it’s a part of your life. You don’t think about it anymore.” He does not use a babysitter and takes on all the chores, including the cleaning. “I say my house is spotless,” he says. As the owner of a furniture store, “it’s sharp.” “I do the laundry, food shopping,” he says. Being single is tough at times though, he admits, especially now that his son is getting older and spending more time with his friends. “What I do miss is going out to dinner, talking, holding hands, the intimacy,” he says, “the quiet time, the person that helps you unwind.” While his work hours are demanding, Rodriguez hopes to take part of the day off on Father’s Day to spend with his son. “I have my own business, I have to work unfortunately. I gotta do what I gotta do. Maybe I’ll go home and grill some nice steaks or go to a friend’s house. Whatever I’m doing I hope I’m relaxing. Maybe throw a football around with my son,” as Alec plays the offensive and defensive line for the Mt. Olive High School boys’ football team. His favorite Father’s Days from years’ past are “the ones with beautiful blue skies, no rain; get to relax and listen to music, hanging out with friends and family.” In raising him, Rodriguez looks at how he was raised by his parents. “What helps is how I got raised well-mannered around friend and family,” says Rodriguez, “I go to church on Sundays. I have my own business in town. I’m well rounded.” Being mild mannered helps: “I’m not a person who freaks out,” says Rodriguez. “I’m really down to earth. The only thing I complained about this year was it was a long winter. There’s going to

be times you make mistakes; as long as we’re trying our best that’s all we can ask for.” Rodriguez says his son’s maturity and willingness to help out has also been in his favor. “A lot of parents or teachers say for a 15 year old, he’s pretty mature,” he says. “What helps me out…he’s like my best roommate; he keeps his bedroom clean, his bathroom clean. I don’t have to tell him to take out the garbage; he just does it. He’s an A/B student. “When it was just me and him, I told him it’s our place. You live here, I live here. We have to give the house love; we have to take care of it. “Watching him put his name on the lawn when he cuts it,” Rodriguez does not mind, “as long as he cuts it, it’s good with me.” His joy is being a dad. “I enjoy looking at my son and seeing the facial expressions I make or thinking like I do,” says Rodriguez. “I enjoy watching him grow; watching him have a good time. I live through his eyes. Some of their favorite past-times include playing one-on-one basketball, playing chess, going to Giants games, watching movies together, working around the house and cooking. “I like to cook; I’m teaching him how to cook.” Rodriguez misses his son’s younger years the most, when “I brought him with me everywhere.” He is often reminded of these times when his customers bring in their kids, ages two to five and “they run around the store. I miss him at that age.” He would “always ask a ton of questions, why this, why that” and “I was allowed to hug him and kiss him; now it’s dad ‘someone’s looking.’ I kind of miss that; they grow up so fast.” Rodriguez offers his advice to new dads: “Cherish every moment; they grow up too fast; listen to what they say; have time for them. Go in with an open mind. Let them grow to be their own person; encourage them that they can do better; reward them when they do well but yet be a father.” He has come to realize what it takes to be a good father: “Once you have a kid, you go from being a boy to being a man, to being a good father. You need to be a man; you have to put all your heart and effort to be a good dad.” He says key characteristics are for dads to be “open minded; understanding your child’s personalities; they are going to have half of yours, half of their mothers’ personality. Be compassionate; you want the best for them. Treat them like an adult. He’s 15; when he was 11 years old, I told him ‘don’t act like you’re


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 13

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Page 14 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Dads From Rockaway, Rodriquez is happy about his choice to live and work in Mt. Olive. “Mt. Olive reminds me of what Rockaway used to be, the parks, Turkey Brook, the neighborhood, the way his friends are well mannered,” he says. Rodriguez is also “thankful for the people in Mt. Olive; 95 percent [of his customers] is all Mt. Olive, Budd Lake, Flanders.” He tries to give back through tricky trays and the baseball program through the school when the kids ask for donations, but other than that he says “I can’t give back yet because I’m still trying to grow. I took over a very old building; it needs a lot of love.” His goals as a dad continue: “To make sure he grows up to be a loving, hardworking man; to make sure he goes to college and he’s more successful than me; to have that loving wife and have kids; to have grandkids ages two to five running around.”

10, don’t act like you’re 12, act like you’re 11. Don’t act like you are younger or older.” Outside his role as a dad, Rodriguez is busy running his business. “I’m a one man show,” he says. “I’m taking baby steps; I’m doing well, I’m growing.” Selling furniture since 1993, his store Sweet Dreamzzz used to be located at the strip mall on Rt. 46 next to Das’ Creamery, where it was for five years; but tripled its space when it moved across the street in the space where the Trading Post was located. “I sell everything,” says Rodriguez, when it comes to furniture and bedding, “but the difference is, my grandfather, when I first opened the store, said ‘it’s a lot easier to make a quick nickel than a slow dollar.’ Keep my prices low so people will come.” He hopes to get involved in more groups around town, such as the softball or bowling leagues but “not until the store is running itself and I can hire more people.”

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Page 16 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 17

Mt. Olive Dads


Local father enjoys spending time with five grandkids

avid Koptyra, 63, of Budd Lake, is looking forward to Father’s Day when his two grown sons and their families plan to visit. “We have a barbecue if weather permitting,” says Koptyra. “We do the cooking and my wife helps out. I start it and she ends up doing everything else.” His 40 year old son David of Budd Lake should be there with his wife, their two sons and one daughter; as well as his other son, Anthony, 37 of Garfield, wife, daughter and son. Going on 41 years of marriage, Koptyra met his wife Michelle when they both worked at a bakery in Garfield where they grew up. They have lived in Budd Lake for 14 years. Having grandchildren nearby is a bonus as Koptyra gets to go to their events such as hockey games as one plays for the Colonials club hockey team. “I like watching him play,” says Koptyra, who says he tries to go to his games “all the time. It’s interesting.” He has traveled to South Dakota to see him play and this year will go to Lincoln, Neb. “I get to see them all the time which is good,” he says. When his kids were younger, Koptyra worked as a police officer so “I didn’t get to go” see his sons play. He likes to also see Anthony’s kids play in their basketball games. Proud of his grandkids, Koptyra is just as impressed by his boys. One of the greatest joys of being a dad is seeing one’s offspring succeed. “The enjoyment of watching your kids grow up; one son became a cop like I did; one son has his own business and is doing well on his own.” He says his fondest moments are that both his boys graduated college and went on to being successful. Anthony works as a police sergeant in Garfield and David owns and operates two businesses: Party planning and camera installation. He appreciates that they are “family oriented; they go on vacation and participate in their kids’ activities.” As a father, Koptyra enjoys “helping my sons by giving them advice when things get tough.” When raising his kids he says he tried “to enforce them to be friendly and be competitive; old values, I try to teach them. Things don’t come easy; you got to work for it.” The same goes with his grandkids as he makes sure they “are always polite to people; that they say ‘thank-you;’ that they hold the door for people; and respect your elders.” His advice for fathers is that “family comes first. Spend as much time with family and guide them through. Always be there for them. That’s just your job as a father to guide them


Page 18 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Dads A retired police through. Just be there; be officer- his father, Eda father.” ward, also worked as Also important is to a police officer in Gar“help them with schoolfield- Koptyra works ing; make sure they’re doas the security direcing good at school.” tor for the Garfield When his kids were School District. younger, Koptyra would Outside of that, help out as much as he he was a volunteer could. fireman years ago in “I would take the kids Garfield, and served wherever they needed to on the planning board go,” he says, for Anthofor three years in Mt. ny that was to baseball Olive Twp., an area and football; for David, he is happy to have it was fishing and commoved to. puters. “I’d take them if He complimented she couldn’t take them the recreation departwherever they had to go.” ment: “They run a lot He and his wife “share reof family events for sponsibilities.” the town; they have a When he is not attend- Anthony, Michele, Dave and David Koptyra. lot of nice fields and do ing their sporting events, Koptyra enjoys playing golf with one grandson, barbecuing and a lot of nice things for the community. “I think that mayor is awesome,” he adds. He is “always looking going out to dinner with the family “and we take a family vacation out for Mt. Olive.” in the summer with everybody.”

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 19

Mt. Olive Dads First year grandfather looks forward to quality time


his year’s Father’s Day is a special one for Mohan Purushothaman, 62, of Flanders as it will be his first one as a grandpa. His granddaughter will be eight months old the day before, on June 16. For Father’s Day, his plan is: “To get all the kids around you to spend quality time always. There’s no better gift then spending time with you.” He says they “may try to go out, but it’s more about spending time” together. “Normally Father’s Day is a quiet time for us. “It’s just quality time.” Married for 35 years to Beena Mohankumar, who he met in his hometown in India, Purushothaman became a father in 1984 when his first daughter, Aditi, was born. Two years later, in 1986, his second daughter, Arundhati, came into this world. “We have a fun group here now,” says Purushothaman, as both girls currently live with him while looking to settle into their own houses. Now that his girls are older Purushothaman gets to see the success of his parenting ways. “The way we brought them up, they’ve been great kids for us,” says Purushothaman. “We never had two sets of rules. You set an example for them and you hope they follow you. They do what you do; you set a good example.” The girls “always had the freedom to choose,” he says. They “always had an intelligent discussion at home. We never forced anything upon them. Both kids are doing well in their careers.” Aditi works as a surgeon specializing in head and neck surgery; and Arundhati works as an attorney for the state of N.J. Purushothaman enjoys having his family close. “One of the most enjoyable things is having a small child at home seeing them grow up,” he says. “She is a very active girl, keeps us entertained; that’s a big joy for us.” As family, they “continue to do a lot of things together. When

we go on vacation we go together, which is surprising.” They also enjoy cooking and gardening as a family. “I’ve always been fond of cooking since I was a teenager,” says Purushothaman. When “I’m home, time to relax, I start cooking.” His specialty is Indian cuisine, while his daughter is “more into baking.” One of his favorite memories is when they came to the United States in 1992. His girls were six and eight years old, and when they started school here, “They learned faster.” When they first came to the U.S., they lived in Boston for one year, then Baltimore, Philadelphia and finally N.J. He is happy they settled in Mt. Olive. “Overall the place has been great, law and order,” he says. “Overall it’s a great place, neighborhood’s been wonderful; always a nice, great place; coming here you feel at home. This part of N.J. has been great for us.” As advice to other parents, Purushothaman says “to me it’s all about giving the right kind of environment for the kids; setting an example for them, how we deal with life; giving them the choice base and encouraging them. They always had the freedom to do what they want to do. “Set an example for the kids,” he says. Also have good character. “Everything comes down to character,” says Purushothaman. “It defines everything you do. You try to be a better person every day. Hard work: especially as immigrants. We come here, start from scratch; children see it and they learn it.” He brought some strategies to guide him along the way: “Where we come from, respect anyone older than you, in family or outside, to show a lot of respect to elders or teachers.” Also, “being truthful and honest of what they are about,” is important. As a CEO of a diagnostic company, Purushothaman says his “workload is so much,” at times, but he does make time to do his part to help around the house, whether it’s cooking, grocery shopping, yard work or looking after his granddaughter. “Everybody’s kind of pitching in,” says Purushothaman. “I do my bit.” His goals are to “complete some of the things I started. It’s more about building something so we don’t become a burden on the children.”

Mohan Purushothaman, on right, with his wife, Beena, from left, Adidta and Arundhati.

Page 20 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Dads A father-son bond stays strong


hen it comes to father/son relations, Joe Sacco of Budd Lake knows how to stay connected. He has worked with his father “his entire life” and hopes to carry on that love and respect with his two sons. Sacco, 32, became a dad in 2012. “I want them to look up to me,” says Sacco about his boys ages six and four. “I want them to respect me forever; everything else will be gravy really.” Sacco has a great deal of admiration for his own father, also Joe Sacco, of Long Valley, owner/president of Central Medical Supply in Flanders for about 20 years. As vice president of business development for the company, the younger Sacco would not have it any other way. “It’s great, I love it,” about his relationship with his father. “I enjoy working with my dad. He’s not the type of person to look over your shoulder, breathe down your neck. We have a good working relationship. My dad’s always been there for us.” He says they are “building a pretty nice business” by distributing medical care equipment. The one store has grown to five warehouses and 100 employees. “It’s been a lot of fun but challenging,” he says about his work. “You get out what you put in. The harder you work the better you do. We roll up our sleeves and get to work. No one tells us what to do.” He grew up in his father’s business and started helping out when he was a kid. He then went on to get a degree in business administration- studying his dad’s company and using the information for his marketing and accounting projects- while going to school. “It’s been my whole life,” he says. “I always wanted to do what he did. I just love being in business for ourselves. He had something established that I could help grow.”

Not sure yet of his plans for Father’s Day, Sacco says he may go see his dad. “Whatever we feel like doing that day; we will see how it goes. I like to spend it relaxing or golfing or enjoy some sun” with his kids and wife, Jill. Married for seven years, Sacco met Jill in the eighth grade as they both grew up in Long Valley. Regarding his favorite Father’s Day, “First one is always super special,” he says. “I used to play softball Sunday morning and have kids there, and my wife there, and all the guys there and their kids.” Once the kids started to get bigger, those plans changed and he “now plays golf.” Them watching him play turned into him watching them play soccer, and now t-ball, lacrosse and Ninja class. He says they “are very active little boys.” He also coaches the lacrosse kindergarten team for boys and girls and his wife coaches t-ball. He credits his success as a dad to “exercise and prayer,” and help from his wife. “My wife is tremendous help absolutely; has a great nanny who means the world to us; she helps out tremendously,”

as his wife works full time for Microsoft. When it comes to pitching in around the house, Sacco does his share in regards to helping the kids with homework and chores. “I help clean up, dishes, cook,” says Sacco. “I’ll watch them as my wife has decent amount of travel and hard work. I gave up sitting on the couch and watching TV a long time ago. “We do baths every night, we feed them, brush their teeth. We do everything for those kids. I cut the grass. I’m building the patio.” Outside all that, “We do our best to spend our time with the kids,” says Sacco. Spending time with his two boys has been most enjoyable. “I really enjoy everything about it,” says Sacco in his role as a dad. There has been “good one on one time just the three of us, me and my two sons,” such as “cruising in the car” or “having breakfast,” playing video games, building Legos or “playing sports has been great. “We work, we clean, we build things, we do everything together.” For their favorite past-times, he says, “We love to swim, play golf, play sports, play video games. We love vaca-


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 21

Mt. Olive Dads tions; we love to ski and snowboard. “We have had a blast; looking forward for more to come,” he says. His advice for other dads: “Don’t have any expectations,” says Sacco. “You have to be very open minded and be willing to adapt to the current situation.” As a dad, “I try to understand a lot,” he says. “I try very hard to connect with my son and lead by example. I try very hard to be the type of person I want them to be.” As residents of Budd Lake for the past seven years, Sacco says they are happy to have moved close by their hometown of Long Valley. “I like being a local,” says Sacco. “I’ve been there a long time; we know people in town. Everyone we’ve met has been really cool. Everyone I’ve met have been hard working people. It’s been a good experience for us.”

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Page 22 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Budd Lake Diner

The Budd Lake Diner: Thirty-Two Years Strong and Built on Family and Hard Work


by Melissa Begley makes trips to the bank, pays the bills, goes n the first springish day in what for flowers, handles insurance, and various seems like forever, the Budd Lake other daily tasks that need attending. Faye Diner is buzzing with an inordinate is who you call at midnight when the credit amount of people for a Wednesday aftercard machine won’t work. noon. Upon my arrival, I walk past a womRita comes in the afternoon. She cooks an scurrying about outside moving some cheesecakes, fruit pies, muffins, pot pie eye catching hanging plants from place to dough, and rice pudding. Many of these place. I soon learn this is Fotini Jelis, known treats offer gluten free and sugar free opfondly as Faye to patrons and employees tions. Rita is also the hostess at night. I alike, and to say she wears many hats is grow tired just listening to all that needs to quite the understatement. In our brief half be done on a regular day. hour conversation, she is interrupted by I ask about Bill and Faye’s children and various employees, as well as the soda guy, wonder if they will join the family business. the coffee guy, someone looking for a job The second generation has no interest in application, and someone else looking for the diner and their parents are understanda signature. There are also customers who ing and supportive of their choice. They disswing by the table where we talk with var- Hostess Raeanna Cope, and one of the four suaded them from this life. ious updates about injuries, vacations, and owners of the Budd Lake Diner, Faye Jelis. Faye says, “I told my kids: ‘Go to school. simply to check in. You can’t have the life we had. We underFaye owns the diner with her husband of 39 years, Valos, who stand. We did not know anything else. We did not know a trade. goes by Bill. The other owners are Faye’s sister and her husband. We were willing to work. You want to have a family life? You have Those are Agoritsa (Rita) and John Balaskonis. They are married to go to school. You want to be off on the weekends? That’s ok. for 41 years. The two sisters live around the block from one an- We understand. We always worked since we were little. We work other. Each of the sisters has two children and two grandchildren. now. It doesn’t matter with us.’” You hear about family businesses, but you won’t get more famFaye and Bill ’s two sons are engineers (one with a PhD) who ily than the Budd Lake Diner. September 10, will mark 32 years in went through the school system at Mt. Olive and now work at business. In a world where new is always better, and everything Picatinny. They are 14 months apart and best friends. “I wouldn’t is disposable, it’s amazing that the diner has been able to sustain want them in here. It’s very stressful,” Faye laments. Each son has itself for so very long. two children. Faye and Rita moved to this country from Greece. Their mother John and Rita have two daughters. One is a pharmaceutical inwas already here with her brother. Faye’s father and four daugh- spector and the other is home expecting her third child. ters came in 1975. They went to Detroit, Mich. where their uncle Faye speaks comfortably about her team at the diner. There had a restaurant. Faye’s aunt taught her everything “and thank are approximately ten full time waitresses and many more part God she did.” It became how they made their life. timers. Bill and John do most of the cooking, and there are about Faye and Rita met a pair of roommates from Jersey City who six short order cooks as well. “We’re like a family here. We are not coincidentally had always wanted to marry sisters. These room- fast food. We are not a chain restaurant. I’m not the boss. We’re mates had come from Greece in 1968. The friends’ dreams came not better than anyone. We are all the same. We are all co-worktrue and the two couples were married They worked in both the ers. We are proud of what we do here.” Lyndhurst Diner and the Meadowlands Diner before purchasing I am in awe of the work ethic and the family aspect, but Faye the Budd Lake Diner. They bought it from a man who had built it is so matter of fact. “We’re average people. We are clean cut and four and a half years earlier. When he retired, the two couples saw church going people.” They don’t allow nonsense in the diner. “I an opportunity and they took it. call nonsense drugs and alcohol.” They haven’t had many probI ask Faye about a typical day. lems from patrons or customers, but taught her children at a Faye speaks matter of factly about her husband, Bill. “Bill’s day young age that nonsense will not be tolerated. starts at 5 am. He goes to work and starts to cook roasts, soups, They work closely with their church, Saint Andrew in Randolph, gravies, and vegetables. Everything is fresh daily. If Bill won’t eat as well as with St. Jude here in town. The diner is often busiest it, he won’t serve it.” He leaves at twelve or one and comes back when mass lets out. About the two churches, Faye says, “We take at about 4:30 to do the sautees and dinners. John gets involved care of them. They take care of us. They don’t want us ever to in the cooking too. Faye comes in a little later, and handles all the retire!” Faye laughs easily and jovially. When I try to get her to pinpeople who come in to provide various services to the diner. She point the most busy time in the diner, she can’t name just


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 23

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Budd Lake Diner I could’ve stayed all day. I’m fascinated by people one. “We have awesome dinners…breakfast is always who succeed in life by persevering and putting busy….lunch was so busy yesterday and it was only family about all. During our talk, Faye sent her Tuesday! Nighttime is busy…..You never know.” young hostess off to school for the afternoon, Working so closely with your family may and now Faye will be taking over those dunot be for everyone, but Faye speaks so ties for the rest of the day. Faye tells me highly of her husband. She speaks of a time that Raeanna Cope is like a granddaughter when they would go to Greece every other to her and their easy banter supports this summer “so our kids could know where we claim. came from, know the culture, know where Now that Raeanna is out the door, a some of the homes and property” that they number of people have been trying to own are located. Now, they can’t get away. catch Faye’s eye, and a few are waiting at The diner keeps them too busy. the register for her to pay, so I start to pack up Faye speaks about how on these trips, her my belongings and make noises about leaving. husband would read a book a day. “He came to She says she will go get a piece of cheesecake for this country number one in his class. He traveled me to take home. Faye returns with enough the world before he jumped ship in Jersey Faye Jelis and her sister, to feed eight tables worth of customers. City and became legal 38 years ago. He is not Rita Balaskonis. With summer approaching and a winter’s just a chef. He is very knowledgeable about worth of weight on my waist, I tell myself I’ll just have a bite, but politics, world history, dates, and wars.” Faye knows ninety to 95 percent of her customers. They come one taste makes me a liar. I devour entirely too much upon my arback because, “They know it’s good. They say it’s tasty. Of course rival home. It was supposed to be lunch’s appetizer, but it instead it’s tasty! Everything is fresh. Homemade. The turkey, the chicken replaces lunch entirely. The food is delicious at the diner, but there’s a level of comfort …nothing is out of a can. Well, just tomato paste, tomatoe puree and apple sauce.” And she laughs again loudly and at home with reminiscent of home. You come for the food, but you return for her customers. “Everything is made to order. It’s like a little fac- the feel of family. tory.”

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Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 27

Mt. Olive Grads A Range of Ages and Stages Prepare for Graduation


by Melissa Begley f you are anything like myself, the days pass much the way they do in a movie montage: each day falls off the calendar at a rate two to four seconds and another month is complete. There are a number of times each year when you step back and take stock of where you are in life. It could be New Years’ Eve, or your birthday, or your child’s birthday, or an anniversary. It could also be the spring season where in most years other than 2018, there is new life surrounding you. Each morning, you sit up groggily in bed as the sun wakes you up and you try to place the confusing sound outside which is simply birds chirping. The chipmunks are underfoot, and you have to be conscious of not squishing one. You are careful at twilight when you drag the garbage to the curb because the bears have awakened from their torpid sleep; will scare me silly every time. Plus the graduations. I remember my own vividly. Having attended an all girls Catholic high school, there was not much leniency in how we expressed ourselves ever, but certainly not on that day filled with such pomp and circumstance. As they solemnly called my name and I walked across the stage, in my white heels, robe, and cap, I remember thinking, “Is this it? Shouldn’t I feel more proud? Is this even a big deal?” Having watched innumerable John Hughes movies, I expected at least for someone to hold up a boom box or for some sort of earth shattering impromptu speech to explode from within one of my peers. Even further back in time, I can recall completing fifth grade. I was super pumped to show off my Oglive home perm, some super cool tiny black heels and a mustard yellow dress with a drop waist and black roses. My yearbook photo boasted to all who read it that my ambition was to become a doctor and a a dancer. Because these milestones are so built up, I thought it might be interesting to grab a group of grads from different age groups and see what they thought about their graduations from their respective schools. What memories do they cherish? Where do they hope to go in the future?What do they hope to accomplish? I asked each student to share some thoughts on graduation, and then to predict the future. Each

student was asked to look five, ten, and fifteen years down the road. Here is what they came up with: The youngest of our graduates is the tow-headed Benjamin Smitreski. Ben will graduate from the STARS program at Redeemer Christian School in Succasunna. He was taught by Miss Charleen Gurnari and Miss Kathleen Callaghan. Their patience and hard work will send Smitreski to school armed with the knowledge of how to read and do two digit addition problems. Smitreski has been practicing the eleven songs he will sing at graduation, but when I ask Master Smitreski what graduation means to him, he says, “Being done with a school and going into the next year in another school.” Smitreski is excited to go to Chester M. Stephens next year because “I get to be with my brothers.” When we jump ahead five years, Smitreski would be in in fourth grade. He predicts that he will be learning what (brother) Jack does now and looks forward to playing certain games in gym. He hopes to have Ms. Stokley because “you get to make a pillow.” In ten years, Smitreski will be 15 and a freshman in high school and when asked about what he will be learning in Math he says, “Slope……What is slope?” For fun, he wants to still be playing soccer, lacrosse and basketball. Fifteen years down the line, at age twenty and his second year of college, “I’ll have two years left of school. I will be studying stuff so that I can be a dentist.” He hopes to live at home while he goes to college. He wants to be a dentist because he gets “to sell and work.” What does he sell, you might ask? Toys in a chest; the small tokens you get if you behave at the dentist are the trinkets he has interpreted as the salesman portion of the job. What advice does Smitreski have for someone entering their final year of Pre-k? “Don’t be bad. When you graduate, don’t hang on a banister.” Solid advice. I speak next with an almost sixth grader. Angelina Ferrante sits down next to me on the curb, removes her bike helmet, and is happy to share her thoughts about graduating from fifth grade. She recalls fondly various special events from her years at CMS. “The field trips. The parties….the fun stuff,” she giggles comfortably as she shares some of her best memories


Page 28 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Grads

from CMS. When questioned about what she likes to do for fun in school she says, “We like to learn a lot!” Out of school, fun often comes from “sports: soccer, lacrosse, basketball.” It was tough for her to choose her best teachers, but when pressured, she conceded that it had to be Mrs. Feibel and Ms. Stokley. Mrs. Feibel because “she’s strict, but still teaches us a lot. Ms. Stokley because she’s funny and her Stokley stories.” Ferrante then took a look in my crystal ball to think about where she would be in the future. We first went five years down the line, which would put Lina into her sophomore year of high school. Her immediate response really makes me happy. “Probably math clubs,” and she laughs easily again. “Studying a lot. Getting ready to think about driving. Probably sports and stuff too.” At the ten year mark, Ferrante would be a junior in college. “I will probably live in a house and be studying the ocean so I can be a dolphin trainer. I’ll probably be looking for a good town to live in.” Finally we jump to age 26 which is 15 years in the future. “I want to live here in Mt. Olive. Maybe across town.” She’s not sure if she will be married or not, and plans to take it as it comes. Her words of wisdom for incoming fifth graders are simply, “Believe in yourself.” Our third graduate is Gabby Helder. When asked to share her feelings about leaving middle school and going to high school, Gabby gives a textbook quote from an eighth grade student: “I’m kind of excited I guess.” She will miss her band teacher. Mrs. McQueeny in particular, and looks forward to marching band in high school. Mrs. McQueeny was always supportive of whatever Gabby had going on throughout her

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years at the middle school. In five years, Helder will be finished with high school, and hopes to begin studying music as a career in college. Before she goes to college, she wants to visit Okunoshima, Japan and/or Africa. She wants to have a job that brings her music and instruments to these places. She plans to accomplish this goal by learning more than just the clarinet which is what she plays now. In ten years, she will be out of college and and doing something in the field of music for a career. She hopes also so be in a solid relationship. Fifteen years in the future, Helder hopes to be married with a dog and a hairless cat. She also hopes to be married, but is not sure yet of the age. She will get married when she meets the right person. Helder who is one of four daughters in her family says, “She wants to have five kids because having four is just so basic.” She wants to have some children biologically, and she wants to adopt some because she had an adopted friend and thought it was nice. My last interview is with Andrew Gault. Andrew is almost eighteen and about to graduate from Mt. Olive High School. This is a demographic that doesn’t get much respect from old fogies like myself these days. However, Gaultmeets me to talk and does not bring his phone, is on time, and dresses appropriately. I catch him before he runs to Shop Rite which is where he works about four days a week for about 25 hours. He speaks confidently, yet respectfully, and my conversation with Andrew leaves me in happy tears because of his outlook on life and insight into his own. “Graduation means I


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Mt. Olive Grads

am finishing the child to young adult part or my life and moving on to the real world. After graduation, I’m going to Rutgers University Business School in New Brunswick,” says Gault. His greatest memories from all his years in Mt. Olive are just “Hanging out with friends on a random Friday.” Gault seems like a find your own fun type of guy. I ask him for some advice for the younger folks who may be looking ahead to their senior year of high school. He says, “Stay focused. Have fun. You don’t have to take it too seriously, but work hard and get it done. Look forward to it. Cherish what is going on now. Don’t look so far into the future that you miss what’s happening now.” Wow. That’s verbatim. This kid is only 17. When Gault looks five years down the road, he will be in his freshman year of Life. He hopes to still be living at home to save money. “That’s what my mom did. I’m hoping to get a job in the city, get my foot in the door, and start saving money to buy a house.” This answer is just so refreshing to me. It seems that so many young folks want to skip all that. They think that because a few overly successful people like Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates did not follow the traditional path, they can easily do that same. Andrew plans to get ahead by working hard. That shouldn’t be so out of the ordinary to hear, but it is. In looking ten years down the line, Gault will be 28. He hopes to have his own house. He would like to stay in state and the furthest he would go to live would be New York or Pennsylvania. “I want to be close to my family. At work, I hope to be climbing the corporate ladder and working my way up.” Finally, I ask Gault to

look ahead 15 years. He hopes to have moved up at least twice within the company and to have some sort of big job in marketing or business management. He hopes to have a family of his own and to have at least two kids, but no more than three. As my final interview winds down, I can’t help but ask where his thoughtful answers come from. Why doesn’t he want to get far away from his parents? Why doesn’t he want to make a million dollars the first year out of school? He attributes his beliefs to “the way I was raised. My mom always pushed me hard with grades and had an emphasis on family. The four of us are close.” As far as moving away, I ask why he doesn’t want to go far. “I just don’t want to….my mom would be upset, but it’s more that I don’t want to go far.” That’s an amazing young man. So where did you want to be when you were graduating from elementary school, or middle school, or high school? What things were so important then that mean nothing now? The subjects of these interviews advise others to to reach for the stars and to believe in themselves, and to enjoy the ride, but is it ever too late to stop doing that? I don’t think so. I think that once we stop improving ourselves, we lose out on a large part of life. So let Spring and the Season of Commencement be YOUR new beginning to embark on that challenge that you have been thinking about for so long. What’s holding you back? Take that first step towards a new you. If it helps, I’ll let you borrow my mustard yellow drop waist dress. Maybe the cool heels too.

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And The Emmy Goes to...


By Katheleen Articlier ometimes you meet people who are an inspiration within the first hour you talk to them. Janice Molinari is one of them. When I was going to meet her, I didn’t know what to expect. She has so many accolades, including Emmys. It’s not every day you come across people with those and I have to say, they glisten even more in person. They look even more impressive in person, as they do on television. When I arrived at her beautiful home that she shares with her wife Marguerite Smith, a school teacher from Butler, I was greeted by an instantly friendly face and a beautiful dog, Harley. She ran up and grabbed me a toy from her stash and brought it down in her mouth. She was a type of small retriever and the dog of my dreams, who is also a therapy dog that helps people cope. Molinari has had an illustrious career in a few areas, including producing Emmy winning sports shows, owning a yoga studio, and her own production company and working with her sister for 16 years. She has produced Paralympics, worked at MTV, and documentaries for autism. She spent ten years working with athletes and children with the Yankees On Deck show, for which there are also Emmys. Personally, I would have them hanging from the ceiling in full view and clanging like wind chimes in full view, but she’s modest about her many accomplishments. She still does her producing and directing, but also so much more, including new ventures. Her upbeat and positive personality fits well with what she is now working on. She really keeps grounded with meditation and yoga. She has a central personality that is optimistic and inspirational. She is working on bringing self-empowerment to others. She has a vision of “creating our best self.” If anyone can do it, she can! She has so many ideas, some of which she has carried out and others she is working on. Listening to her talk about transformational breath work, yoga, and meditation I know made me want to try all of it. She’s that inspirational. You might want to check out some of her websites:; and You’ll be enlightened, trust me. She has been holding workshops, as well and will be venturing into videos and motivational gigs, speaking engagements, and so much more. Tony Robbins has nothing on her! She captures the essence of positivity and blurts it out while talking. By the time she was talking a while, I felt like I could be Queen of England or at least go to Dairy Queen and order that fudge sundae with a huge smile like I earned it. One of the mottos of her brand is – “What’s Your Story?” She

explained how everyone has a story and you choose how it will end by the choices you make. You can be let it limit yourself or you can empower yourself. She spoke of the ripple effect that all surrounds it. The common theme of what she’s doing was service. She was thinking of service of others long before this new venture. When she says that she likes people to ‘pick a moment in your life’ which has you think of when you were your best, it gets you thinking of what you could have done, should have done, and by the time she’s done: what you can do. She is out to change the world and the way we think using one of her mantras of ‘creating our best self’. It’s very liberating to hear her speak and you make some discoveries about yourself, even as she is discussing what


Page 32 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

the meaning of it is. She is also a life coach, that goes hand in hand with her empowerment coaching. She is far from a generic life coach. She’s a burst of energy and inner core strength. She has worked with athletes most of her career and she has incorporated their regime into some of her methods. She learned a lot from working with a lot of them. You would be surprised at which athletes came from nothing and despite overcoming obstacles, it made them seek success in beast mode. She told me of some moving examples and I came to appreciate their athletic prowess or sport a little more after that. Molinari captures both the mental side of strength and how to grow it and also the physical and emotional ends. She is a very energetic, but yet calm person and I think that it helps her have clear visions of what she focuses on both for herself professionally and how to help others. I know I want to start meditating and doing a little yoga. I would never be able to be a yogi like her, because I’m more like the Yogi Bear type, but I am going to give it a whirl and see if I can feel as stress free as she comes across as. When she was working on the show with kids for ten years with the Yankees, she wanted to make it not only enjoyable, but also educational. As she put it ‘How do you hide the vegetables?’ I loved that analogy. She would get the formula for success from the athletes working through their life experiences, situations, and message. I’m sure it’s still an impact on those children today. She ‘hid’ those vegetables well enough to earn Emmys. I got to hold the large one and I have to say that it felt like I should have been wearing a gown and pointing to people in the crowd thanking them for my journey. It was nice to dream a minute. She produces, directs, edits, and speaks. What she doesn’t allow in her editing is what’s known as ‘Frankenbites’. That is when, for once reason or another, which is usually to gain viewership, editors will essentially mashup content and displaying it without the original context that it was meant. Taking

One Emmy win with my sister, (and business partner) Lisa at the ceremony.

sound bites and clips from longer videos, stories, or quotes and widdling them down to a Frankenbite has become all too common. It shouldn’t be about shock value and misquoting or guiding people to unfair displays of someone’s original words. Molinari does not allow it. Whether she agrees with the content or not, changing the content to make the end more ‘sensational’ is not in her style. Having integrity is a big deal to her. She wants her content to be untainted and stay true to form. I asked her about what I knew about something I knew she wouldn’t bring up, which was what she did after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a few years ago. I had seen


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 33

stories of it, but wanted to ask her myself, because I know how personal a story it was. Her friend Beth Howard known as ‘The Pie Lady’, who had a colorful RV decked out to show that, had wanted to help ease the pain and suffering in a way she knew how for Newtown residents. We all know nothing could erase anything, but sometimes the littlest of things in life make a huge impact and more importantly a lasting impression. She is never focused on herself when she speaks. It’s always of others and situations and how to help. Molinari knows the importance of empathy. She’s not driven by awards, opulence, or popularity. She has a crystal-clear message of wanting to help and make a difference. Molinari and wife, Marguerite opened their home to her longtime friend to have access to pie baking. Between themselves and the kindness of neighbors and local businesses, they were able to bake more than 250 pies to be given out in Newtown, one slice at a time. Her neighbors opened their homes and hearts to helping with ovens, baking, and running around. What a great

neighborhood that is. It says a lot about the people in the area. The tragic situation in Newtown brought out the humanity in so many people. They brought the pies there with simple signs that said Free Pies. It was a huge success. Grownups and children alike would come for slices, which were a slight comfort and perhaps a feeling of home or togetherness for some. It was a little bit of ‘the norm’ that they so sorely needed at that time. One of the mothers of one of the children lost in the massacre would later say how much it meant. A slice of pie was encouragement, support, sympathy, and a feeling of community love all wrapped into a crust. You can change the world one pie at a time. It does make a difference. You can see what kind of person Molinari is. She’s a businesswoman, entrepreneur, creative minded, and above all a caring person. She has a proactive approach to life and it shows. If you can take one of her classes or attend a lecture, do so. We overlook the little things in life sometimes, like neighbors. There are angels among us. Janice Molinari is one of them.

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Brazilian Rodízio Steakhouse

“Life is Good” at Churrascaria Paladar, a Brazilian Rodízio Steakhouse


By Bonnie Cavanaugh ose and Maria Galvão, owners of Churrascaria Paladar, a white tablecloth Brazilian steakhouse on Rte. 46 on the Hackettstown border, cull the flavors of their menu from the palates of their ancestors. The name itself roughly translates to “a small, family-run restaurant where Portuguese dishes and Brazilian-style barbecue are served,” and is truly representative of Jose, a native of Portugal, and Maria, a native of Brazil. He handles the front-of-thehouse, mainly behind the gas fireplace-lit bar, tending to customers’ needs for liquid refreshment and conversation. She handles the rest, as head chef, employee trainer, and restaurant designer. “She is the boss,” Jose Galvão smiles. The couple purchased the former Pumphouse Grill in May 2015, and spent a year remodeling it into a quiet, chandelier-lit destination point. Maria Galvão oversaw the restaurant’s remodel and design. The renovations were sweeping, as the restaurateurs worked to achieve their preferred style while bringing the unit up to current building codes. Maria Galvão even drew up her vision, presenting it to her architect to make her dream a reality. “Only a couple of two-by-tens remain” from the old restaurant, Jose Galvão says, laughing. The alterations turned the venerable former eatery into a modern, welcoming respite. The bar was pushed back a few feet, and restrooms were moved beyond the dining area, with both moves creating a wider bar side dining area. The couple placed a long wooden wine rack where the old cash register used to be, opening up the entryway and bringing both sides of the dining area into view. Handicap access was added as well. The kitchen was expanded to incorporate a large churrasco grill, or barbecue spit, and the ceiling was raised throughout, giving the restaurant more natural light and an overall airiness that it did not have prior. The couple first opened on Main Street in Hackettstown, in the space currently occupied by James On Main, spending four years

there before moving to the current site for its larger space. Maria Galvão is grateful to have survived the move and to thrive—many menu items are taken from her mother’s own recipes—noting that some 80 percent of new restaurants close before their first year. Her dishes are more Brazilian than Portuguese, though both food styles are similar. Brazilian food has rich ties to the Amazon jungle as far as produce options, like banana and yucca, and the way the barbecue is served family-style. Portuguese dishes, on the other hand, rely more on vegetables like broccoli rabe and green beans, and more heavily on fish. “The way you present the food is the same; the entrees are the same,” Maria Galvão says. There’s really just one major difference. “The side orders are different.” Brazilians serve rice and beans—either black beans or brown, depending on the region— along with the meats, while Portuguese chefs serve potato dishes. Churrascaria Paladar offers both. Maria Galvão has put a Brazilian or Portuguese twist on menu items taken from around Europe, and kept the dishes’ original name—albeit in her native Portuguese tongue—so that her customers know what they’re getting. “Why change the name from scaloppini?” she says, referring to her entrée of Veal Scaloppine Pizzaiola, an Italian-inspired dish that she serves with capers, black olives and a light tomato sauce, with a side of asparagus. It’s priced at $27.95. Likewise, her appetizers run the gamut of tastes and culinary styles. The Polvo Grelhado com Salsa Espanhola, grilled octopus with a Spanish sauce, is priced at $13.95. The Mussarela Fresca includes homemade fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted peppers, prosciutto, basil, and extra virgin olive oil, priced at $11.95. The Croquetes de Bacalhau, fried codfish croquettes, is priced at $7.95 for a half dozen and $14 for a dozen; it includes a traditional Brazilian garlic sauce for dipping. Maria Galvão changes the menu about every eight


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 35

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Page 36 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Brazilian Rodízio Steakhouse months. She has included certified Angus beef as of mid-May. Some preferred menu ingredients are difficult to procure in the United States, she says. Traditional Brazilian barbecue includes a wide variety of meat and fish, including dried pork, dried beef, and dried codfish, which are hard to find here. It can also include lamb, which she finds many American diners don’t care for in barbecue. The restaurant also serves chorizo sausage instead of smoked Calabrese, which also can be hard to come by. Her husband, Jose, keeps the extensive wine list upto-date. His selections hail from around the world, including Portugal, Chile, Spain, California, Washington State, New Zealand, Argentina, and Australia. “I’ve got a little bit of everything,” he says. He has worked behind the bar of some of the area’s best restaurants over the past 30-plus years, including 12 years at Il Capriccio in Whippany. “If you love what you are doing, life is good,” Jose Galvão says. The most popular fare at Churrascaria Paladar is the Rodízio

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“preço fixo” or prix fixe menu, which refers both to the type of restaurant—a Brazilian steakhouse—as well as its style of service: all-you-can-eat Brazilian barbecue. The Dinner Rodízio service is priced at $40.95 per person, and starts with a serving of Picanha, a Brazilian signature cut beef, cooked three ways: with garlic, with Parmesan cheese, or with sea salt, and served medium rare or medium, only. The next serving is Alcatra, or top sirloin, stuffed with Provolone cheese; then, Fraldinha, or skirt steak; followed by Medalhão de filé mignon, filet mignon wrapped in bacon. Next are Costela de Vaca, beef short ribs; Lombo de Porco, pork loin with Parmesan cheese; Costelinha de Porco, baby back ribs; Linguiça de Frango, Brazilian chicken sausage; Medalhão de Frango, chicken breast wrapped in bacon; Perna de Galinha, chicken drumstick; and Coração de Frango, chicken heart. The Lunch Rodízio menu is priced at $29.95 per per-



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Brazilian Rodízio Steakhouse son, and includes just the Alcatra, Lombo de Porco, Costelinha de Porco, Linguiça de Frango, Medalhão de Frango, Perna de Galinha, and Coração de Frango. Both lunch and dinner are served with arroz (white rice), batata frita (fresh cut potato chips), felião (black beans), banana frita (fried banana), mandioca frita (fried yucca), farofa (yucca flour), couve (sautéed collard greens), polenta (fried corn meal), and vinaigrette. The Rodízio menu can be cooked gluten free on request; the restaurant has a dedicated gluten-free fryer. While Churrascaria Paladar officially opened in 2016, improvements have continued. An additional outdoor dining behind the restaurant features a large slate floor and a fire pit, completed in late May. New tables and chairs are on order. The restaurant still boasts lovely riverside dining on two wooden decks. They also provide live Brazilian guitar music on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The restaurateurs have just one major issue left to conquer: like much of the restaurant industry in 2018, Churrascaria Paladar is facing an ongoing, nationwide staffing shortage. The National Restaurant Association last year reported that three of every 10 restaurant operators noted difficulty in filling jobs, and, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 2016 turnover rate of 72.9 percent for the restaurant and hospitality industry. “Every position is hard to fill,” Maria Galvão says. Young wait staff and back-of-the-house workers tend to balk at working weekends and holidays, she notes. “They want time off.”

Yet the restaurant does run smoothly with the help of family. Several nephews and other relatives of Jose Galvão serve as waiters, known as passadores: a traditional way of serving Brazilian barbecue in which servers bring knives and skewers of various cuts of meat to the table and slice to order. It’s a skill the Galvãos are willing to teach. Churrascaria Paladar is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and for dinner Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The dinner menu is also served during weekends, on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are accepted.

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Mountaintop Church Matt Jones, He’s Part Pirate, Part Sherlock Holmes, Part Marty McFly...


By Kevin T. Czerwinski t’s difficult not to notice the pirate hat and plastic flintlock pistol sitting on the shelf in Matt Jones’ office. That the pastor of the Mountaintop Church in Mt. Olive would have such toys in his office might seem a bit out of place for anyone but Jones. Though he is a man of the cloth, the cloth from which Jones is cut is much different than that of a traditional religious and spiritual leader. Jones, 53, is a man of God; there are no doubts about that. But he’s also part pirate, part Sherlock Holmes, part Marty McFly and a whole host of other characters that have come together to help make the Mountaintop Church one of Mt. Olive’s most integral community institutions. The church, during the course of the year, will be transformed into a pirate ship, Sherlock Holmes’ laboratory, a scene from A Christmas Carol, the bridge from the fictional town of Bedford Falls in the film “It’s a Won-

derful Life” or a DeLorean. The sets are Jones’ brainchild and draw on his background in photography and videography. They also help him teach and reach the people in his congregation in a way that’s relatable. Jones is the star of short videos based on the aforementioned fictional characters. He shows the videos before his weekly Sunday sermons. The videos, in conjunction with the props on the altar, have allowed him to reach his audience in a way that others might not. “My biggest gift is teaching,” Jones said. “With this generation, what I have tried to do is put things in a way that will open people’s hearts. We put together a Journey at Sea, where we had a pirate ship on the altar. I was Captain Matt Sparrow. One year we did “Back to the Future”. “I was also Sherlock Jones. I dressed the part and I looked ridiculous. But I loved doing it. I had fun with the skit and it opens people’s hearts so I can teach the bible. At Christmas time, we did “It’s a Wonderful Life”


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Page 40 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mountaintop Church and had a bridge set up on the altar. This year we are doing “March of the Wooden Soldiers”. Jones’ love of photography goes back to before he began his ministry. He also worked putting together wedding videos when he was younger but as he began his life in the church, finding time for his hobby wasn’t easy. Now, however, with a little creative thinking and modern technology, he’s been able to incorporate something he enjoys with something he loves. “What you can do with your phone alone is incredible,” Jones said. “We have a green screen here and its fun. I love doing it but I also love that it is something that can be used for my ministry. It helps me bring forward a real spiritual truth.” Bringing forward that spiritual truth has allowed Jones, his family and his staff to build the Mountaintop Church into something special during the last 16 years. The church had fewer than 10 congregants when Jones arrived in 2002. Reverend Kenneth Young founded the Bethesda Christian Center, which is now known as Mountaintop Church, in the mid-1980s and served as the pastor for a dozen years. Young was a quadriplegic – the result of an automobile accident in the early 1970s – and built his church from a wheelchair. He became the first Assemblies of God missionary for the disabled and worked tirelessly to support them, building his church

to accommodate their needs. “He had a ministry here, ‘Hope for the Handicapped’ and he had a vision to have the first handicapped church in the country,” Jones said. “The hallways are wide and he thought about bringing in wheelchairs and stretchers. The pastor was a great man.” The church, however, began to fail over time. When the opportunity to become its full-time pastor presented itself, Jones was up for the challenge. Jones was serving as the principal of the Full Gospel Christian School in Livingston prior to his arrival in Mt. Olive. “I thought I was coming here to close the church,” said Jones, who was also a presbyter for the Assembly of God for six


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Mountaintop Church years, overseeing 27 churches during that time. “Some churches are growing, some plateau, some are dying and some are dead. I wasn’t sure if I was going to resurrect this one or be a mortician. But The Assembly of God had some programs to revitalize the church and it grew very quickly. “Within two years we were up and running and healthy. We’ve seen great things happen and we’ve been able to get involved in the community. I don’t emphasize denomination here. My emphasis is for people to find a place where they belong and find their own relationship with God. My mission here is for people to come here and find the most abundant life that Christ offers them.” Jones’ congregation has grown to a point where he’ll have nearly 200 people in attendance “on a good Sunday.” The church is also involved in a whole host of community programs ranging from feeding seniors every second Tuesday of the month and helping run a food pantry to aiding veterans and working with

local law enforcement to help stop human trafficking in New Jersey. The notion of helping his community comes, in part, from his father Don Jones, a long-time Methodist minister in N.J. who now resides in Florida. Jones’ father instilled in his family the idea that giving back to a community goes hand in hand with being part of a community. Helping those less fortunate is an integral part that of approach. “We have a philosophy to do what we can when we can,” Jones said. “We do what we can with what we’ve got. Don’t worry about doing great things, just do gracious things and be available. We’re talking about scores of people who serve here with all our programs. “I have the wonderful blessing of being a leader, a motivator, an inspirer and example of serving others. I am grateful that God has put me in that place but I am no one special.” While Jones may not see himself as special there are those who would disagree. He has a staff that includes two fulltime


Page 42 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life




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Mountaintop Church employees and five part-timers in addition to a volunteer staff of more than two dozen people. Included in that group is Mountaintop Youth Pastor Kody Vagle, whom Jones says is “a great preacher and someone not afraid to get his hands dirty.” Diane Jones, his wife of 27 years, along with his children – Matthew 26, Anthony 24 and Dionna, 22 – have also played an integral role in the church’s growth. His oldest son is following in his footsteps as a youth pastor in Long Branch. Former NFL star Lee Rouson, a Mountaintop Church congregant, also has a great deal of admiration for Jones. Rouson played seven years in the NFL, six with the New York Giants. He won a pair of Super Bowls with the Giants and earned NFL Special Teams Player of the Year in 1986. Rouson also served as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ [FCA] Northern New Jersey director for several years in addition to being an associate pastor in Harlem for eight years. He is still an FCA representative and speaks on behalf of the organization. “It’s really easy to be taken by him [Jones],” Rouson said. “He’s one of those short dudes but he is powerful. He’s little in stature,

but his heart is huge. He has that New Jersey mindset. He has a sense of community with street wisdom. He reminds me of a lot of athletes that I have known from New Jersey with that kind of mentality. “Who do you want to line up with to play for the football Giants? Who do you want to go to war with and come off the ball with? I would say that Pastor Matt has the type of heart and mentality that a lot of my peers had when I played with the football Giants. Pastor Matt is that kind of guy. That’s why I am part of that fellowship.” Jones would like to serve as the pastor at Mountaintop for another 20 years but knows his future isn’t set. He’ll be wherever he is called to be and go willingly. “I’ve seen founder’s syndrome in business and in the church,” Jones said. “Sometimes people don’t know when to leave. The church is far more important than me, though. It’s Christ’s church and I am just a servant. If the day comes that I need to hand it over to someone else, then that’s what I’ll do.” Don’t be surprised if and when that day comes that Jones also hands over his pirate hat, pistol and all his other costumes in addition to the keys to the building. Raffaele “Ralph” Ruggiero Cell: 973-607-7855 Veteran Owned

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Page 44 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

MOHS Seniors Share Memories and Look Towards Their Future


By Katheleen Articlier ome of the best times of your life were probably in May and June of your senior year. Those months were filled with excitement, anticipation, fear of the unknown, thoughts of missing your friends, and the future. Students at Mt. Olive High School are no exception. They each leave school with a different set of goals, memories, and a blueprint for the rest of their life. As we all know, it’s hard to enough to plan a week ahead, let alone a lifetime. Everyone had a different cherished moment and approach to what they were going to do after graduation. I was impressed with the way they handled themselves and their answers to brief questions. The entire class will be your future neighbors and business people. Some will go on to be artists and some will be zookeepers. Some will be staying in New Jersey, while others will trek across the United States in hopes of starting a new life with lofty plans. There will be store owners, people who choose the medical fields, accountants, scientists, and party planners. They will forge ahead with the knowledge and friendships that they developed at MOHS. For parents, it’s time to give them wings and let them fly. Time went by in the blink of an eye. From the moment they are in kindergarten,

you have waited for the moment that they are marching to Pomp and Circumstance and the lump in your throat. With social media, many will stay friends for life. They will watch each other jump start careers, begin and end relationships, get engaged, married, have children, travel, and go through life’s good times and sorrowful times. Their time at MOHS will always tie them together both in spirit and in camaraderie. They will remember teachers they admired, sports they played or watched, clubs they joined, and events that left lasting impressions of a simpler time in their life. We wish the graduates health, happiness, and a future that realizes their dreams, whatever they may be. Congratulations graduates. We are proud of your accomplishments. We asked some of the students three simple questions to ponder and their answers are below, along with a photo of their choosing. We were not disappointed. The questions.... 1. What is your biggest memory of MOHS? (fun thing, sports, teacher, moment in time, etc) 2. Do you have any plans for after graduation? (college, hiking Europe, working full time, etc) 3. What would you tell your freshman self on your first day at MOHS knowing what you know now?


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Jake Mancini 1. My biggest memory of MOHS would have to be playing baseball. I have played baseball my entire life and then getting to the high school, it was more competitive and it was amazing playing the sport I love alongside my friends. Baseball has taught me some great life lessons such as teamwork and leadership which can be used in the future. 2. After graduating from MOHS, I will be attending the University of Alabama where I will be studying Telecommunication and Film. I will be following in my sister and brother’s footsteps as they are both alumni of the University of Alabama. My overall goal is to work behind the scenes for a major television network. 3. If I could go back and tell my freshman self something, it

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would have to be to focus and try hard on your school work. You don’t want to fall behind on it because it is hard to get back to where you want to be. You also want to be active in the school whether it is playing sports or joining clubs. But besides school work and clubs, you need to have fun. Find your friends quick and make great memories with them. High school flies by so you need to make the most of your time at MOHS.

1. My biggest memory of MOHS is making the 2018 Lip Dub with my TV 4 class. This is the schools second Lip Dub but we are doing things a little differently this year to try include everyone and everything at MOHS! 2. My future plans after graduation are to attend The Pennsylvania State University at University Park. 3. Knowing what I know now I would tell my freshman

year self to work hard and try your best. Join as many clubs and activities as you can, surround yourself with good people, and only do the things that make you happy!

Page 46 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Kyle Bastarrika 1. My biggest memory in High School has been breaking the school record in the 4X800 relay with the rest of my track team. It was awesome to be able to leave that mark on my school, and also to be a part of the overall record breaking athletic programs we have had this year. 2. After graduation, I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

where I will decide my path of study. One thing for sure, though, is that I will be studying abroad in Spain some time in the next four years. 3. I would tell my freshman self that hard work really does pay off, but also that taking time to spend with friends and family is equally important, because you only get to live out these four years once.

Julia Chang 1. Going to the football state championship game at Met Life Stadium this past December was definitely the most memorable moment of high school. It was a new experience for our football team and fans, and overall just the perfect way to end all the time

I’ve spent attending numerous football games over these past four years. 2. This summer, I am going to Taiwan for a little over a month to teach elementary students English through the AID Summer program. After that, hopefully I’ll have some

time to hang out with my friends before they leave for college and I head off to UCLA! 3. Always focus on your academics, but also follow your

passions. These four years go by so fast and you want to spend every single minute of your time doing things that you know you care about.

Cameron Mendler Cameron Mendler will be attending Seton Hall University in the Fall. He plans to study business/sports management. Cameron has an older sister, Madison, who graduated from Mt. Olive in 2015 and a younger brother, Peyton, who is in 7th grade. Cameron has been active in sports in Mt. Olive since he was 5 years old playing in recreation baseball. He played on the high school baseball team for four years, playing varsity for three years, and also played basketball all four years. Men-

dler was awarded the coaches award for his performance this year. One of the most memorable moments was playing in the Babe Ruth World Series in Washington state last summer.

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 47

Alexa Cerda Alexa Cerda is the daughter of Gritzko and Jeannie Cerda of Mt. Olive. She has been a varsity soccer player for the past four years at Mt. Olive High School. She was captain of the varsity team for her 2017 senior season. Alexa currently plays for the Match Fit 99/00 ECNL Composite club team. She will graduate Mt. Olive High School in June of 2018. Alexa plans to attend East Stroudsburg University in the fall and will be a member of

Anthony DiMonda

the women’s soccer team. She is majoring in communications science disorder/speech language pathology.

Anthony enjoyed his four years at Mt. Olive High School. He played Lacrosse all four years and made the varsity team as a sophomore. He was also involved with the Media Arts department and was frequently an Anchor on the Mount Olive TV show. Anthony will continue his studies at The University of Kentucky where he will study graphic design in the fall.

Lucas Okeefe Lucas Okeefe is going to Syracuse University for biology, then plans on persuing a career in chiropractor and doctor of osteopathy. Okeefe played lacrosse since 2nd grade

in MO and is now going to the states with Mt. Olive High School. He was a varisty player for 4 years. He played travel Elite lacrosse for Thunder.

Page 48 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Oozes With Hot Fresh Pizza Restaurants


By Megan McGaha hewy, cheesy, delicious pizza is a staple in American cuisine today, but pizza has a long and rich history, and it’s come a long way. Pizza has been around since 6th Century B.C., when soldiers “baked a kind of bread flat upon their shields and then covered it with cheese and dates,” according to “Pizza- History and Legends of Pizza,” an article on This first pizza did not include tomato sauce, and in fact that sauce that modern Americans consider characteristic of pizza did not appear until 1522, when tomatoes were brought back to Europe from Peru. People initially thought tomatoes were poisonous, but “later the poorer people of Naples added the new tomatoes to their yeast dough and created the first simple pizza, as we know it,” according to the article. “They usually had only flour, olive oil, lard, cheese, and herbs with which to feed their families.” Pizza came to America in 1895, when Gennaro Lombardi, a 14 year-old-baker, emigrated from Naples, Italy, to New York City in what would become Little Italy. He made pizza for a bakery and grocery store on Mulberry St., using his father’s recipes. He bought the grocery store in 1905,

but quickly realized the future “was made of pizza.” “The first American pizzas were known as Tomato Pie. Even in the present 21st century, present-day tomato pie is most commonly found in the Northeastern United States, especially in Italian bakeries in central New York,” according to the article. “Tomato pies are built the opposite of pizza pies – first the cheese, then the toppings, and then the sauce.” “Gennaro Lombardi is credited to having opened the first United States Pizzeria in New York City at 53 1/2 Spring Street (now known as Little Italy)... It wasn’t until the early 1930s that he added tables and chairs and sold spaghetti as well,” according to the article. “A downturn in the economy forced it to close its doors in 1984.” But within that time, pizza had already spread; including to New Jersey. Tomato pies started to be sold out of Trenton as early as 1910. Mt. Olive is no exception. Dino’s Pizza located in the Village Green in Budd Lake opened in June of 1975, and is being run by Gino Dimeo. Dimeo said he got started with pizza when the son of the owners of the Village Green was going to New York University (NYU) and his older brother had a pizza shop near NYU. “We wanted to move from the city to the coun-


Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 49

try,” said Dimoe. “We’re originally from Brooklyn, and before that, Italy.” Claude Branda operates Branda’s Italian Grill, located at 1 Mt Olive Rd, Budd Lake which has been open for the past 17 years. Branda said he chose to open his business in the Mt. Olive area back in 2001 because it was a “great up & coming area for families in 2000.” Anthony Schianodicola and partner Joe Penza, who also started the business in the early 2000’s, have run Frank’s Pizza located in the Mall at 206 in Flanders since 2000. Before taking over, the restaurant was in operation since 1969. “Our restaurant was established in 1969; it’s the original Frank’s Pizza,” said Schianodicola. “My partner Joe Penza and I started our own journey in July ‘00. We are about to celebrate our ‘first’ 18 years in business!” Schianodicola explained that he was drawn to the idea to build something important in Mt. Olive. “After years in the business, we were looking to finally have our own thing, our own restaurant where we could express our passion in making food,” said Schianodicola. He and Penza settled on Frank’s Pizza, as they had years of experience in the business. “After years looking for the right spot, a friend of a friend of another friend told us about this location,” he said. “When we came

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to ‘explore’ the area, we fell in love with idea to build something important here. It was just the right place and the right time to finally take that big step. A move the made our dreams come true and gave us the chance to build our families in a safe and healthy environment.” Enzo’s Pizza in Budd Lake at 382 U.S. 46 was purchased by Emilio and Assunta Buonincontri and family in 1976. The great depression led the Buonincontris away from their hometown of Pouzzuoli, Italy, to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1969. Emilio worked in the construction business in Brooklyn, but after falling from a three story building, he decided to follow his passion for fine cuisine and purchased Enzo’s Pizza. His son Ernesto eventually took over and has shared the business with his son, also named Emilio. “The day they opened the doors Ernesto knew it would change his and his family’s life forever,” says Ernesto’s son, Emilio Buonincontri, who has now taken on the role to assist Ernesto in continuously delivering to the Mt. Olive community.


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“Mt. Olive during that time was incredibly popular, and people found this area to be a vacation spot,” he said. “With a few different locations bought from Ernesto’s father, Mt. Olive, NJ has been the location that has lasted the longest. Mt. Olive has come such a long way and the growth that is taking place within this town is so exciting to see. We are beyond thankful that this is where our foundation was created.” Uncle Sal’s Pizza at 375 Rt. 36 Budd Lake has been open since 2006. Owner Benny Mejia purchased the business as its previous owner was also a pizza/Italian restaurant. Mejia uses fresh ingredients, along with special family recipes to create the tastiest dishes. Whether it’s dine in, take out or catering, customers can enjoy pizza, pasta, seafood and favorite chicken dishes. Different pizzas from traditional to pan to stuffed, with a whole slew of toppings and sizes, are made to order. A variety of calzones, subs and Paninis offer a wide selection along with favorite dishes like chicken marsala, penne vodka and eggplant parm. The different pizzerias all take a similar approach to making great pizza. They all agree that great pizza starts with great ingredients. For Dino’s Pizza, the emphasis is on the sauce and the cheese. “Good quality tomato, sweetness of tomato and good quality mozzarella cheese. Put them together and you get a great pizza.” For Branda, consideration for the pizza at Branda’s Italian Grill starts at the ingredients.

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He said the most important step in making pizza is starting with the best ingredients, and they set themselves apart from the competition by listening to their customers. “We always strive to do better and never stop learning by listening to our customers,” said Branda. Dimeo said Dino’s stands out because of the quality of their products. “Quality of product that we use, we always try to buy the best tomatoes, the best cheese, the meat the veal, you know every product has many different variations from different grades of chicken, there’s not just one out there. We always strive to buy the better product and I think at the end people know the difference.” Schianodicola said since taking over, the emphasis at their restaurant has also been on choosing great ingredients. “Of course, choosing the best mozzarella cheese on the market, together with imported Italian tomatoes is a must,” said Schianodicola. “But what I strongly believe makes the difference


Page 52 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 53

is the water! And we are lucky to have a great one in Mt. Olive.” Branda agreed, noting that their restaurant uses well water. “We are in well and the water being high in minerals is very good for pizza!” Dimeo also stressed the importance of the water quality. “To be honest, I’m not really sure [how the water in Mt. Olive contributes to the quality of the pizza], but it’s gotta be all those chemicals in NJ water,” said Dimeo. “It’s something scientific in the water that I cannot explain to you. But it’s very important.” At Enzos, “The secret to a perfect pizza is combining quality ingredients with attention to details!” said Buonincontri. “From the dough, to the sauce it is all homemade. Don’t forget, the pizza being made has come from the same hard working hands for the past four decades. Like any recipe the secret ingredient is the love that is put into creating the dish.” He too agrees that quality water plays a part. “Being that everything on the menu is homemade, it assures us that the quality of our food will always deliver to be the best, said Buonincontri. “When cooking day in and day out it’s so crucial that every ingredient lives up to its expectation. The water is incredibly significant!” Dimeo said Dino’s most popular dishes include their award winning Buffalo Chicken Pizza, pasta, and some of the salads that they make. “There’s a lot of different products that we sell a lot of,” said

Susan Dimeo, Dino’s Pizza.

Dimeo. “We won an award for the Buffalo Chicken Pizza from the Mt. Olive Rotary Club and the other from the Kiwanis Club.” Branda said some of the most popular dishes at Branda’s Italian Grill include: “Eggplant Rollatini, Penne Vodka, and all our salads with our homemade dressings.” Schianodicola said some of the more popular items at Frank’s Pizza include the “Grandma’s” Pizza, Chicken Francese, and the Vodka sauce, along with other items. “But I would say the one I just mentioned are the most appreciated,” said Schianodicola. The staff at Frank’s Pizza pride themselves in their work. “The restaurant business is a tough one, with big corporations making their way through, it’s not easy for small business owners like us to compete,” said Schianodicola. “But one thing that corporations will never have it’s the heart and soul that everyday we put in our work.” Enzos is mostly known for its pizza. “We have a delicious pizza menu,” said Buonincontri. “We are so incredibly creative when it comes to our pizza’s and even our weekly dinner specials. We make an amazing Amalfi Pizza that comes with seafood. As well as a wonderful Tuscany Pizza that comes with Fresh Italian Meats. But then we also have delicious weekly dinner specials that our wonderful Chef Vincy creates all on her own! “As far as most popular item on the menu, you can never go wrong with our homemade tomato sauce or even our delicious Della Nonna Pizza. Crispy, thin, Sicilian with homemade marinara sauce,” said Buonincontri. “Even our homemade desserts are popular! Like the Calzonolies, Small Fried Calzones stuffed with Nutella and cannoli cream. “You truly can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, it’s all homemade!” All of the restaurants also participate in the local community. Dino’s gives pasta when the team plays in town, and they also assist with donations or anything else the local students need. “A while back it was wrestling. We provide food, donations, whatever we can help with,” said Dimeo. “We try to con-


Page 54 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

tribute for the different kids.” Branda said they support the community by “always sponsoring local athletics and civil savants.” Schianodicola said they also try to actively participate to the community life. “Sponsoring town events and sports night at the restaurant are for us one the best vehicles to get our name out there.” They also let the local teams pick a night to promote themselves at the restaurant. “Different teams pick a night at Frank’s to promote themselves, and for every customer that comes in showing their support, we give a 10 percent of the sales to the team.” Schianodicola expressed gratitude toward the local community, including the health department. “We are proud to serve our customers and happy to live in Mt. Olive,” said Schianodicola. “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the health department of Mt. Olive. They really do an outstanding job and take the well being of the community seriously. They are definitely a huge help in keeping the Mt. Olive food businesses safe, and that is the foundation for success.” Branda added, “Thank you to all our loyal customers who have made our jobs rewarding and for allowing us to service them all these years!” Buonincontri said “Enzo’s never turns down ways to help the local community. Ernesto’s service to the community does not have the marketing or recognition that most business-owners would expect from

“giving back,” often times it is a simple gesture from the heart. A free meal to a family in need, feeding seniors with no family during the holiday, sending a meal to a customer overcoming an illness, providing a discount to a customer just to assure that they can host a celebration at the restaurant, sponsoring local sports teams, hosting local community clubs and even hosting weekly youth sport lunches. Enzo’s has always been part of the community and we continue to support in any way that we can.” Enzo’s foundation was built on family. “Enzo’s is more than just an Italian restaurant,” said Buonincontri. “It has been created from the ground up on the value of family, love and tradition. Alongside Ernesto is his wife Vincy, the head chef and mastermind behind many of the recent additions to the restaurant. Together they give more love to the community than it can often handle…they place other people’s interests first.” While Enzo’s changed “a lot” during the past 40+ years, “we always maintained our foundation,” said Buonincontri. We have been built on the value of friendship, family and authenticity. You may ask anyone that you know in the area and they will all say the same thing: ‘When you go to Enzo’s you get treated like family.’ You can’t find that everywhere and that’s what makes us, us! We value each and every individual that comes into our family owned restaurant and we ensure that the love we give our customers is the same love we put into our food.” Vincenzo’s Pizzeria, Valentino’s Pizza, Frank’s Pizza in Hackettstown, were also contacted for participation in this article but did not comment in time.

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 55

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Page 56 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life


Mt. Olive School Community Uses Hands-On-Initiative To Send Blankets To Paramus


By Cheryl Conway student and one teacher dead and many hile many emergency respond- injured motivated a group of caring eduers, police and local officials cators to send some kindness. It was rerushed to the scene of the ported that 38 eighth grade students and tragic bus accident last month on Route seven adults were passengers on that bus 80 west in Mt. Olive, a bunch of teachers that day when the 77-year old bus driver and individumissed his exit “A warm hug with love and als throughout and allegedly kindness,” is the name they came up with for their initiative, says the school dismade an illegal organizer Ann Scotland, second grade trict were doing U-turn before teacher at Chester M. Stephens their part bethe deadly crash Elementary School, Budd Lake. hind the scenes. that made naSaddened tional news. by the news that a school bus filled with After discussing ways to help, these students from Paramus on their way to a caring individuals in Mt. Olive decided field trip at Waterloo Village in Stanhope on an initiative to make and send collided with a dump truck that left one blankets to those involved in the

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MT. OLIVE COMMUNITY bus crash. Scotland. “A warm hug with love and kindness,” is the name they came The blankets were being delivered to the East Brook Middle up with for their initiative, says organizer Ann Scotland, second School in Paramus by teacher Sharon Enea of Sandshore Elegrade teacher at Chester M. Stephens Elementary School, Budd mentary School in Budd Lake. Lake. “She picked them up from CMS and will be taking them di“A group of teachers from Mt. Olive were on Facebook dis- rectly to the school so that the principal can deliver them to the cussing the sadness and disbelief of this tragic event,” explains correct families,” says Scotland, “to be offered to each passenScotland. “It was everybody’s worse nightmare. We all wanted ger on that bus. Each blanket had a simple card that said “Sendto do something and came up with ing Care & Warm Hugs from the Mount “All proceeds will go to support the this plan. We recognized that we East Brook Middle School as they need Olive Community.” couldn’t fix things but also knew that These tags were designed and creit,” says Scotland. The auction was kindness and care could offer comfort. ated by Maggie Pfotzer Cowden, a Mt. expected to last one week. “Highest Since the accident happened in Mt. Olive Community member. We ended bidder will get the blankets.” Olive, we thought that it was approup with 76 blankets.” priate for our school district to reach Scotland says “some of the extra out to theirs. By the end of the night we had 60 teachers going blankets will be given to their guidance department so that exback and forth on Facebook working out the details.” tra hugs can be handed out as needed. Every school in MO parMembers of the Mt. Olive School District and a handful of ticipated in making the blankets...elementary, middle, and high individuals from the community put their heads together and school. hands at work to create the blankets. “Three high school students: Abigail Rodriguez, Amira The initiative involved two parts: Wilkins, and Kevin Sousa even came together and made pillows “First part... people were invited to purchase fleece and make to add to the package of blankets.” blankets to offer a warm hug to the passengers of that bus,” says The second part of the initiative involved a silent auc-


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MT. OLIVE COMMUNITY tion to raise funds to support East Brook Middle School. “Ten blankets were set aside to place in a silent auction,” says Scotland. “The community is invited to go on www.32auctions. com/Awarmhug. “All proceeds will go to support the East Brook Middle School as they need it,” says Scotland. The auction was expected to last one week. “Highest bidder will get the blankets.” Blankets provide comfort to those in time of need, but perhaps the idea that the community of Mt. Olive joined in as a team to reach out to the passengers of the crash, is warming all the same. “Countless individuals from the Mt. Olive Community participated in this outreach,” says Scotland. “It is hard to give a number. Some people made blankets, some bought the fleece, others created tags, some assembled the blankets with ribbon and tag, some people made flyers, many posted information, other community members are sharing in the bidding of the auction, others are driving the blankets to Paramus... the list goes on and on. It is a community endeavor filled with heart.” There was no hesitation in their act of kindness. “The day after the accident the mission of comfort began,” says Scotland. “Staff at each school gathered and came up with a game plan to make blankets from their school family. From there blankets were made and delivered to CMS. Blankets were then rolled, ribbon bound and tagged. Ten blankets were put aside for the auction. The other blankets were picked up for delivery.” Being kind is not unusual within the Mt. Olive School. CMS second graders have been participating in its Kindness Tour for

the past 10 years. Also organized by Scotland, the bus tour brings students to various locations such as a nursing home, food pantry and post office to spread kindness. For the poor victims of the bus crash, Mt. Olive stretches its rainbow east. “Mt. Olive Schools participated in this action because it was the right thing to do,” says Scotland. The accident occurred in our town and the community was saddened by the turn of events. We wanted to let Paramus know we care and goodness can offer great strength during such unthinkable times. There are good people in the world and many of them live and work in Mt. Olive, N.J.!” From the participants to the recipients, the initiative warms many hearts. “I think this outreach touched many hearts,” says Scotland. “It allowed the community to work together offering the best of us. Kindness offered from an individual is beautiful... kindness offered from an entire community magnifies that beauty into something magical. Such a sad event brought us together in a special way almost instantly. It is my hope that we don’t wait for a sad event to unite in the future. “The heartbeat of a community is all that we can offer together,” concludes Scotland. “There is so much good in the world, we just have to put it out there.”

“The heartbeat of a community is all that we can offer together,” concludes Scotland. “There is so much good in the world, we just have to put it out there.”

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 59

Balloon Festival


Tickets On Sale For Three Day Balloon Festival

emorial Day WeekPNC Bank presents Andy end launched the Grammer in association beginning of sumwith Magic 98.3 FM on Frimer … and it launched balday, July 27. The New Jersey loons, too. Lottery presents Lifehouse Tickets for the 36th anin association with the Fesnual QuickChek New Jersey tival’s nighttime hot air balFestival of Ballooning in Asloon glow on Saturday, July sociation with PNC Bank, the 28. Creedence Clearwater largest summertime hot air Revisited performs Sunday, balloon and music festival in July 29. North America, are on sale at Best-selling children’s all 156 QuickChek fresh conrecording artist Laurier venience market store locaBerkner of Princeton opens tions throughout New Jersey, the concerts on Friday afthe Hudson Valley and Long ternoon, July 27, presented Island. by Hackensack Meridian The three-day festival has Health. been named the “#1 Thing to Festival admission inDo in New Jersey” by “New cludes access to the daily Jersey Monthly” magazine mass hot air balloon ascenand the premier family ensions; lawn seating for contertainment attraction in the certs; a fireworks display; state by the USATODAY Neta nighttime hot air balloon work. glow; death-defying stunts This year’s festival features by world record human the awe-inspiring spectacle cannonball David “The Bulof twice a day mass ascenlet” Smith; age-appropriate sions of 100 hot air balloons children’s entertainment from around the world taking and activities; exciting inflight over the scenic Hunterteractive exhibits and hundon County countryside and dreds of crafters and food a hugely popular live concert vendors. series featuring pop star Andy Festival-goers can purGrammer. chase advance tickets in The festival takes off July any QuickChek store and 27-28-29 from Solberg Airport save 43 percent off the gate in Readington. price for adults; 47 perNew special shaped hot Pictured, from left, QuickChek CEO Dean Durling, Store Leader Kathy Rhinesmith cent on children’s tickets air balloons include the in balloon basket, Butler Mayor Robert Alviene and members of the Butler/ ages 4-12. 120-foot-tall QuickChek sax- Bloomingdale Youth Club celebrate. Download the Quickophone which recognizes Chek mobile app to find the festival’s position as the largest hot air balloon and music fes- the nearest store, where to receive an additional $2 savings on tival; an 85-foot-tall Queen’s Guard in honor of the Royal Wed- Festival tickets through July 26. ding; a 115-foot-tall puppy; a 75-foot-tall yellow bird and 75-foot“Whether you have come in the past or you’ve always wanttall Rocket the Flying Squirrel cartoon character balloons. ed to experience the magic of ballooning, this is the year to be Returning favorites include the PNC American Flag, the world’s here with our greatest lineup of special shaped balloons and our largest free-flying American flag; the 110-foot-tall Unique Photo best concert series ever,” said Festival Executive Producer Howard Panda; the 105-foot-tall Bimbo white bear; and an 80-foot-tall Freeman. “So as you head out this holiday weekend, make QuickPepsi football. Chek your Summer Sub and Festival ticket destination.” And making his big comeback, the 105-foot-tall Elvis special To locate the nearest QuickChek store visit www.quickchek. shaped balloon. com; to learn more about this year’s Festival visit www.balloonThe Progressive Stage is home to this year’s live concert series.

Page 60 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 61

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Page 62 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Birthdays & Celebrations

May/June 2018

Send names, dates and



Colleen LaBow May 29

Samantha Halper graduated summa cum laude from The College of New Jersey with a BS in Math, minoring in computer science. She has taken a position with Ernst & Young in Texas.



Michael Lalama graduated cum laude from Centenery College in Hackettstown with a BS in Biology. He will be attending Parker University, Texas for chiropractic.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you for another 4 years!


Proudly Serving the residents of Mt. Olive


COUNCIL PRESIDENT Questions or concerns? Contact me at 973-809-4784 Cell

Mt. Olive Life • May 2018 • Page 63

Page 64 • May 2018 • Mt. Olive Life

Dr. Helene Nguyen and Dr. Yong Zhu

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Mt olive life june 2018  
Mt olive life june 2018