Pascack Press 2.8.21

Page 1

Emerson • Hillsdale • Montvale • Park Ridge • River Vale • Township of Washington • Westwood • Woodcliff Lake VOLUME 24 ISSUE 47





District robotics team collecting Feb. 8–13

Youngsters at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley receive prayer books. SEE PAGE 20


WHERE’S THE TRAIL? ʻWe need Suez to be on board,ʼ mayors agree


Three mayors in towns that encircle a long-awaited Woodcliff Lake Reservoir Nature Trail are ready and willing to work with Suez water to make the trail a reality and hope that occurs soon, no matter who came up with the idea nearly a decade ago. For its part, Suez is referring to COVID-related uncertainties in the timing of the execution of the project. Last week, Pascack Press reported that Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo, Park Ridge Mayor Keith Misciagna, and Hillsdale Mayor John Ruocco said they were frustrated with delays in initiating the long-awaited 1.5 mile walking/nature trail that skirts the

See WHERE on page 294

FEBRUARY 8, 2021

AN ARMY OF young thinkers and doers is raising aid for food pantries in Hillsdale and Park Ridge.


The Pascack Valley Regional High School Districtʼs awardwinning robotics competition team—which is as devoted to community causes as it is to preparing young people for the future—has set Valentineʼs Day as its target to deliver much-

needed food and supplies to local food pantries. And you can help. Inviting the Pascack Valley to “Show Your Community Love—Be a Food Pantry Valentine,” FIRST Team 1676, the Pascack Pi-oneers, has arranged nine collection points in Hillsdale, River Vale, Montvale, and


Woodcliff Lake. The goods—in terms of their value to recipient families, theyʼll be sweeter and more

Continued on page 34

Ruocco details challenges for residents, council BY MICHAEL OLOHAN OF PASCACK PRESS

In ranging remarks at the recent Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Mayors Breakfast, Mayor John Ruocco said the borough is waiting for expressions of interest from developers following the passage of the boroughʼs Patterson Street Redeveloper Plan. He said the borough was thinking about WHAT DO rehabilitating its YOU downtown area T H INK? and said the council was in the “very prelim- • We’d love to inary stages” of add your voice exploring what to the conversation. See that process inside for views should be. from your He did not dwell on the mayor, offered at a recent councilʼs December 2020 valley chamber defeat of his veto event, then see our Letters of the plan, by a policy, Page 2! vote of 5–1, and stressed a need for transparency. Ruoccoʼs remarks touched on further investments for athletic fields; shared services; local infrastructure; Stonybrook Pool; the ideal return of in-person council meetings; the status of the state and county vaccination programs; and the need for volunteers on the fire and

See CENTER on page 114


B ck in time...

Grace’s Gold Ribbon Gang and Caffé Anello are partnering to feed frontline workers at Columbia Presbyterian’s Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, and Transplantation unit. SEE PAGE 18

Get on your horse and plow! Scenes from snowy Colonial Boulevard in Hillsdale in the 1930s. The land is recalled as teeming with wildlife.






York City or Westchester, you restoration monies and will mill probably remember the old mar- and resurface the full width of keting line, “Dig We Must” made any street that was paved in the popular by Con Edison. Some of last five years. You no doubt have seen the you may be feeling that you are back in ConEd territory, with all new higher overhead electric wire the digging going on in Hillsdale! poles being installed as part of I know many of you have asked me PSE&Gʼs effort to tie in their To the editor: about it. Let me assure you that it 69kV substation on Patterson OR THOSE OF US who migrat- is all for a good purpose and will Street to substations in Dumont ed to Hillsdale from New strengthen the infrastructure situa- and Paramus. This is designed to tion of our town. Let me also thank ensure back-up and resiliency to you for being patient with the dis- our electric grid, making it less ruption in traffic that of necessity likely a storm will knock out power to our area. Our borough occurs with such digging. PSE&G continues its efforts engineer, borough administrator, to replace and supplement old gas and Environmental Commission mains in the center portions of our are working with PSE&G to town. The work is approximately ensure that 62 trees that have to 70% complete and will extend be removed are either replaced well into 2021. The second phase of this effort will be connecting these new mains to our homes and PASCACK VALLEY upgrading our individual gas meters. PSE&G is providing the borough with $2.4 million in street The New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard says that, as of Feb. 3, since there have been 137 school out1978 breaks of Covid-19 and 655 cases DRIVING SCHOOL INC. linked to school outbreaks. Lic. # 045-85N In Bergen County, it says, there have been 31 confirmed school out• Highly Respected, Full Service Driving School breaks with 126 linked cases. • Prep Lessons, 6 Hour Lessons & Road Tests The dashboard displays con• Experienced State Licensed Instructors firmed outbreaks, associated with in-school transmission in K-12 setCall Now to Schedule Your Appointment!

‘Dig we must’ true in Hillsdale


NOTE: Letter submission deadline is 11 a.m. Wednesday for the following Monday’s paper. Publication not guaranteed. Subject to editing. Email to

levels of lead in our drinking water, this effort will improve the quality of our drinking supply. Again, I want to thank you for your patience in these efforts. Please stay healthy and safe! Mayor John J. Ruocco Hillsdale

two for one or result in compensation to the Borough for future dedicated plantings. PSE&G also is 75% complete in trenching up Prospect Place in the industrial area. The electric conduits being installed underground will facilitate the provision of power from the new overhead wires to the substation on Patterson Street. I believe that in 2021, we can also expect another utility, Suez Water, to begin digging to replace various “gooseneck” connections linking water mains to local residential piping as part of its program to reduce the incidence of lead in our drinking water. While not identified as a town with high

Taxes and transitions


To the editor: T WASNʼT UNTIL after I retired in 2016 from my job as a home care respiratory therapist that I CONTINUED ON PAGE 22

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identified as close contacts of each other in another setting during standard case investigation or contact tracing. In-school transmission is between students and/or school staff that occurs on school property in the context of curricular activities. The NJ Department of Health says, “Covid-19 is still active. Wear a mask. Social distance. Stay up to date on vaccine information.” It provides the following details on getting that information: • Visit: • Text: NJCOVID to 898-211 • Call NJPIES Call Center: (800) 962-1253 • Call: 2-1-1 If you experience an error or need support with the New Jersey Vaccine Scheduling System, you can complete an online form at or call 1-855-568-0545 for phone support

tings, that have been verified by local health departments and reported to the NJ Department of Health since Aug. 1, 2020. An outbreak is defined as two or more laboratory confirmed Covid-19 cases among students or staff with onsets within a 14 day period, who are epidemiologically linked within the school setting, do not share a household, and were not



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A developer whose previous application to build a two-building, 60-unit apartment complex at 188 Broadway was rejected has applied with a similar proposal to the Zoning Board, citing yearslong declines in office space made worse by Covid-19 and new demands for housing caused by city dwellers escaping urban areas during the pandemic. The applicant, 188 Broadway LLP, is represented by Kaufman, Semeraro, & Leibman LLP, of Fort Lee. Zoning Board professionals are reviewing the application and will likely soon set a hearing date, said officials. The applicant is applying for a land-use variance, two bulk variances and three waivers. Its original application was denied unanimously 18 months ago by the Zoning Board of Adjustment after eight hearings. Following the Zoning Boardʼs July 2019 rejection, 188 Broadway LLP appealed the denial via a lawsuit currently before Superior Court Judge Gregg Padovano. Recently, Borough Attorney John Schettino said the outcome of that

lawsuit is unlikely to affect the current preliminary and final site plan application submitted to the Zoning Board. “This (Covid-19) pandemic has dramatically changed how the world operates and drastically reduced the demand for and utility of office space,” states the application. “As more workers have adapted and begun to work remotely as a result of the pandemic, office uses have become even more obsolete, resulting in an increase in vacant, dilapidated office buildings,” states the proposal. It notes “economic inutility” is a special reason for a land use variance, which is being applied for due to the siteʼs current Special Office (SO) zoning. “Further, as a result of the pandemic, there has been a significant demand for housing outside of New York City,” states the application, which notes Woodcliff Lake “does not currently have enough housing to accommodate this demand.” Taken together, demand for use and site suitability constitute a “special reason” for a land-use variance, states the proposal. “The applicantʼs proposal to convert an existing outdated office building into multi-family residential units repurposes an obsolete

use and provides additional housing to meet increased housing demand. As such, the applicant respectfully requests you consider the proposed multi-family residential use in light of the change of circumstance as a result of the pandemic.” Currently, a vacant two-story office building, with an underground parking garage, stands on the site. This building has a total footprint of 21,167 square feet and under the proposal, will be converted into 36 apartment units. The 60-unit apartment complex includes nine affordable housing units, a 15% set-aside for rentals in new multi-family housing required by the boroughʼs 2017 affordable settlement. The applicant also proposes to construct a second, three-story building behind the existing building with 24 residential units, with a total footprint of 8,350 square feet. The existing office building currently has a nonconforming front yard setback, which will remain unchanged by the new construction. The proposal notes the new application resolves previously unresolved issues raised by the fire department, board planner and board engineer, cited in the boardʼs 2019 resolution of denial. The Zoning Board previously

cited high density, traffic, current zoning for office space, and quality of life concerns in rejecting the


original application. The applicant requests the CONTINUED ON PAGE 25





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Discover local history at museum The Pascack Historical Society, 19 Ridge Ave. in Park Ridge, invites members of the public to stop by its museum any Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Face masks are required. The museum is home to thousands of objects, artifacts, and ephemera that chronicle life in the Pascack Valley from the Lenape Indian days until the present. Visitors will discover a special section devoted to colonial artifacts, relics from the production of wampum in the Pascack Valley, rooms recreated to illustrate early 19th century and Victorian life, a collection of Lenape stone tools, and more.



SEEKING VOLUNTEERS The museum has varied volunteer opportunities for those who take an interest in history and want to give back to the community. (Note: You must be a PHS member to become a volunteer.) • Docent: Lead public and private museum tours. • Treasurer assistant: Ideal for a small business owner who knows QuickBooks and wants to help manage PHS finances. • Textiles Department: A person with some knowledge of antique garments is needed to help hand sew, mend, and preserve PHSʼ textiles collection. • Education: Help develop and deliver educational programs for kids and adults. • House and Grounds: “Handyperson” to help maintain PHSʼ 1873 building with light repairs, painting, and carpentry. Volunteer applications are available by clicking the “Get Involved” button at, or stop by the museum any Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. for more information.





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EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Serving Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Township of Washington, Westwood 201.664.2105 and Woodcliff Lake FAX 201.664.2109 MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. BOX 335 E-MAIL US AT Westwood, N.J. 07675


Publisher Editor Assistant Editor Art Director Director of Advertising

John J. DeFina John Snyder Kristin Beuscher Keith J. Harcher George F. Harcher

horsepower does your snowblower have? In the 1930s, when these pictures were taken, homeowners did not yet have such machines. Some people would hitch small wooden plows to horses to clear a path. These scenes capture snow plowing scenes along Colonial Boulevard in Hillsdale. In the top photo (1), the horse belongs to Hillsdale farmer Henry Clendenny, who used to plow the sidewalks in the borough for people to have a walking path. The roads would be left unplowed. Clendenny is the farmer whose preRevolutionary War homestead along Hillsdale Avenue would eventually become the Tandy and Allen development. In the middle image (2), we see that a young man has gotten a chance to take the reins on the plow himself—and he looks very proud to do so. We can imagine that for a boy his age a ride on the snow plow must have been great fun. When these pictures were taken, Colonial Boulevard was a dead-end road that stopped near the border with the Township of Washington. In the bottom photo (3), plowing was a family affair, as young children enjoy the view from atop a black horse that towers over their mother. These two residences are still standing, but the open space around them no longer exists, as Colonial Boulevard is now fully lined with homes. The road, which now connects to Washington Avenue, was then a vast woods. Early residents recall that this land was teeming with wildlife and many would enjoy hunting and trapping, either for sustenance or perhaps some extra cash that could be fetched by selling furs. Neighborhood children would congregate in open space to play baseball, or perhaps go for a swim in the Pascack Brook—just a short hike away through the woods. OW MUCH

The articles and opinions printed in Pascack Press are not necessarily those of the publisher. Pascack Press is neither liable nor responsible for typographical errors. This publication contains material developed independently by Pascack Press. It may not be reproduced, in whole or in part. Pascack Press is published in Westwood and is distributed to every household in our circulation area.


PASCACK VALLEY Eight Bergen County Republican mayors in the 39th legislative district, including four from the Pascack Valley, have written to State Sen. Gerald Cardinale asking him not to run for re-election and to support Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi for “a new generation of leadership in our community.” Ray Arroyo of Westwood, Peter Calamari of the Township of Washington, Michael Ghassali of Montvale, and Carlos Rendo of Woodcliff Lake are the local mayors thanking Cardinale for his more than 40 years of service but urging him to reflect on how he can best serve moving forward. Theyʼre joined by John Glidden of Closter, John Kramer of Old Tappan, Al Kurpis of Saddle River, and James Wysocki of Mahwah. Fellow GOP mayors Danielle DiPaola in Emerson, John Ruocco in Hillsdale, Deirdre Dillon in Ramsey, Glen Jaisonowski in River Vale, and Joanne Minichetti in Upper Saddle River did not sign on to the letter. In the letter, the mayors laud Cardinale, 86, as “a tremendous public servant and a steadfast partner in the effort to make New Jersey a great place to live, work, and raise a family. The residents of Bergen County and New Jersey have benefited from your leadership and we are grateful.” They say, “We are at a crossroads in our party and our state. With Democrats controlling everything in Trenton and Washington,

Prior to that she was special Cardinale on bills together such as Tommyʼs Law, D.C., we must counsel at Huntington Bailey LLP, which designates a person within c o n s t i t u e n t reflect on how NJ Transit to provide victims and where she practiced governmental issues. we got to this Then she said, their families with support and law, corporate law, land use law, point and who is “I guess I should counseling services following an employment matters, criminal best positioned be flattered that accident. It also requires the state to defense, and structured finance to lead our party he thinks a 49- promptly provide victims and their law. and community She lives in River Vale with year-old woman families with support and counselin the years her husband and two children. ing following train, light rail, and who has pracahead. SCHEPISI Cardinale received a B.S. ticed law for 24 bus accidents and crashes,” she said. “With so much CARDINALE She added, “You may want to from St. Johnʼs University (chemat stake in this yearʼs elections, itʼs years and been a member of the critical that we have a strong leader Legislature for nine years is part of also note that in the last several elec- istry) in 1955 and was awarded a tion cycles I have been the highest D.D.S. from the New York Univerwith a proven track record like the younger generation.” vote getter and have raised the most sity College of Dentistry in 1959. She added, “I am grateful for yours at the top of our ticket. Itʼs He is a dentist by profession, with why we have decided to support his service to our communities. money.” an office in Fort Lee. What sort of struggle this will However there does come a time Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi in Before his service as State her bid to become our next state sen- and a place when you become too entail remains to be seen. Bergen Senator, Cardinale spent one term County Republicans meet for a conmuch of a political insider and it is ator,” the mayors say. vention in March, and, if no one has in the General Assembly, Pascack Press obtained a copy time to pass the torch.” Asked which accomplishments dropped out, there theyʼll decide 1980–1981. of the letter on Feb. 3, after New In 2017 he faced a challenge she was most proud of in her tenure whom to support in Juneʼs primary. Jersey Globe broke the news, and Schepisi, who said she is “a from Democrat Linda H. Schwaquickly connected with Schepisi (R- with Cardinale in the Legislature, working mother fighting for our dis- ger and Libertarian James Tosone. she named several. River Vale) for comment. “We have worked together to trict,” began a new career in April In his second closest election in the Cardinale did not respond to several requests for an interview or urge light rail expansion into Bergen 2019 as vice president of Holy district since 1981, notes NJ State statement. quotes County, fought for improved service Name Medical Center and president Senate 39, he beat Schwager by him as saying of Schepisiʼs chal- from NJ Transit and increase fund- of its foundation, though that rela- over 4,000 votes. — John Snyder lenge, she “just wants to stir the pot ing for transportation services for tionship ended recently, she told so that she can jump a couple of our residents and have sponsored Pascack Press. steps.” He reportedly said, “I think youʼre seeing, believe it or not, a kind of a nationwide trend of younger people saying: ʻIʼm not getting my share of whatʼs going on and I want more.ʼ And I think thatʼs whatʼs happening here.” Yonka Deep BLOW Asked to react to Cardinaleʼs Pore OUT evident feelings on the Senate chalCleansing Reg. lenge, Schepisi, a five-term assemSPECIAL $99 Facial blywoman, said she was proud of With this coupon. Cannot be combined. With this coupon. Cannot be combined. her longstanding partnership with


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Mayor Ray Arroyo had more to say than his time allowed at the

Jan. 27 session of the 2021 Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Mayors Breakfast, held on Zoom this year instead of at the warm and gracious Iron Horse Restaurant. “I didnʼt realize the 5-minute

rule was in effect, especially with the number of questions that were put forth,” he told Pascack Press following the annual event, which was his second such since being sworn in as mayor. Of note, he said keeping park-


ing, “a finite resource,” in sight, “We anticipate increases in vehicular traffic and in shopper parking demand as a result of the ARROYO ongoing addition of—as [host] Robin [Malley] stated, thousands of apartments nearby along the north-south corridor.” That point resonated with Arroyoʼs fellow mayors, all of whom have had to contend with the pressures of development and redevelopment, and—depending on oneʼs point of view—overdevelopment. Arroyo shared his prepared remarks with us, and so this is an expanded look, in the mayorʼs words (lightly edited), at challenges and trends in his borough, the self-described hub of the Pascack Valley: * * *

REGARDING THE Central Business District, first floor vacancies, and new occupancies: Last year I rebutted claims that downtown Westwood was struggling to find tenants, that businesses were closing at uncomfortable rates. This was before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Based on data Iʼd asked Celebrate Westwood to provide, I can

report this year, that over the past 12 months—10 of which were within the ongoing global pandemic—16 businesses have either closed or relocated out of Westwood. Eighteen businesses have newly opened or expanded to nearby storefronts along the ground floor of the Westwood Central Business District. That is a net positive gain of two businesses to the Hub of the Pascack Valley. Breaking it down a bit further, two of the five businesses that closed include Bank of America and New York Sports Club. Their spaces are unused and under renovations respectively, and their closures were in the works prior to the pandemic. The Sports Club will become a new mixed use residential/commercial anchor on the south end of the district, offering five affordable units per the terms of Westwoodʼs Fair Share Housing Settlement agreement The bank—housed in an imposing Art Deco landmark building at the townʼs main intersection—was a victim of the growing inutility of brick-andmortar bank locations in downtown settings. This reverses a trend that was popular just 15 years ago. Online banking and mobile apps have done to retail bank


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Misciagna updates on community center, town services, more

Surveying was completed the last week in January for the boroughʼs community center. The administration said it hopes to have a final design approved by the governing body and ready for Planning Board review in the coming months, and ground breaking by later this year. Mayor Keith J. Misciagna explained on the borough website, “We have been told that Bergen

County Open Space grant allocations we expected in January have been delayed until at least February. This impacts our new playground, as we are counting on Bergen County Open Space grant funds to finance the project.” Misciagna said, “We are going ahead with all the planning that needs to be done on our end so that when we get notice of how much money we are awarded we




THE WESTWOOD Volunteer Fire Department was out on the morning of Feb. 3 clearing fire hydrants around the borough following an absolute hammering of snow. As of Monday, Feb. 1, Westwood had 20 inches of snow, and more was on the way. Members gave “a shout-out to the people who we saw already had their hydrants cleared out in town—great job!”

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will be ready to put the project in motion.” He added, “We remain hopeful that the delay in grant funding wonʼt affect our ultimate goal to have the playground installed and ready for use as soon as the weather begins to allow more outdoor play this spring.”

Reservoir Trail project delay Also, according to Misciagna, “The Reservoir Trail project that we have been working on for many years in collaboration with Woodcliff Lake, Hillsdale and Suez has unfortunately been put on hold at Suez. The last thing needed to complete the project is Suezʼs approval, which involves some legal work with NJDEP and Hackensack Riverkeeper.” (See story, page 1.) He said, “Suez informed us last week [in late January] that they have not obtained the easements and approval necessary yet and that while they remain committed to the project, it is on hold for the time being.” Misciagna added, “While we are disappointed because we had hoped to open the trail last year, we are encouraged that Suez continues to support the project, even if we arenʼt as high on their priority list as we would like. We will continue to communicate with them and give them any support they need to move to a final approval and opening of the trail.” 2021 road program Misciagna said, “We are in the process of finalizing our 2021 Road Program. We were able to secure grant funding from the DOT to offset some paving costs, so we look forward to a robust paving program this year.” As for county roads, he said,

RELATED: “Misciagna: Residents, visitors rewarded ‘foodie town’ amid pandemic,” page 13

MARK “COOKEY” EISEN via Park Ridge Volunteer Fire Department.

“We are in contact with the county and will share updates as we receive them on the county plans for paving in Park Ridge.”

Borough services Misciagna said, “Please note that beginning Feb. 1, PSE&G will be in town continuing with their gas main updates and beginning to upgrade residential services. This second phase of gas service work will be in the northeast section of town. The majority of the work will be on side roads and traffic should be minimally affected, if at all.” PSE&G is in the process of contacting residents who will need to schedule appointments for service upgrades on their property. The Police Department has been in touch with PSE&G to address any safety issues. Help for Mark ʻCookeyʼ Eisen Misciagna repeated his reminder that a longtime local firefighter, Mark “Cookey” Eisen, 63,

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needs a kidney transplant. (See “Promising to care for it, firefighter seeks kidney donation,” Jan. 1, 2021.) “Marc has spent 30 years serving his community and offering his culinary skills to keep his fellow first responders fed and now he needs our help. Cookey is scheduled to begin dialysis in 2021, but is hoping to avoid that by receiving a kidney donation,” the mayor said. He added, “Please visit or the Park Ridge Volunteer Fire Department Facebook or Instagram pages to see what you can do to help and please join us in saying a prayer for Cookey. Park Ridge Library is open Misciagna reminded residents that Park Ridge library is open but with new hours and capacity limits. Visit for the latest hours and information. If you visit, make sure you wear a mask and follow the signs on the door for guidance. “The library also continues to offer doorside pickup, where you can order online or by phone and they will have your items waiting for you in the hallway right outside their door. Since you will need to enter the hallway to grab your package, please wear a mask,” Misciagna said.

Summer camp up in the air “In the coming weeks we will begin to make decisions about our summer camp program,” said the mayor. “We had to make the difficult decision last year not to run our camp due to the CDC restrictions.” He said “Information on the pandemic changes often and we certainly hope to be in a better position this June than we were last year, so we will do the necessary research to see if we can safely operate our camp this year.”

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During training to be a periodontist, we are taught many forms of therapy to salvage natural teeth suffering from gum and bone diseases. That is the purpose of a periodontist. There are several options for managing and maintaining declining teeth. For instance, lost gum and bone on teeth can be regenerated to make them stronger. Or, if the teeth have gotten loose, a periodontist can stabilize the occlusion and control

disease to delay tooth loss. This is the salient difference between an oral surgeon and a periodontist. Periodontists are the only specialists recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as a dental implant surgeon. Many specialties and even general dentists have incorporated this within the services they provide, but only periodontists have the formal education and training.

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The Hillsdale Department of Public Works has opened the Recycling Center on a limited basis each week on Monday and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Residents are required to wear a mask or face covering to enter the recycling area and must maintain social distancing guidelines. You must have a resident sticker to gain entry.


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Center: Ruocco eyes ‘some considerable expense’ ambulance services. According to Ruocco, residents would likelier embrace downtown rehabilitation than they would the redevelopment plan. He said the next topic for residents would be a community center, noting a RUOCCO study was completed in 2020 on potential sites and costs. He said that study “was based on a pure plain box model” and the council indicated it wants recreational facilities included. “So weʼre going to be re-looking at that and itʼs uncertain how thatʼs going to proceed in 2021. It would be a major project and one that would involve some considerable expense as we go forward and that will be a council decision,” Ruocco said. He said next would be further investments for athletic fields, including Memorial Field, which received a grant and another is due soon. He said Centennial Field FROM PAGE 1

needs drainage upgrades, which were put out for bid, and a “larger issue there” to be decided will be wether the council wishes to install artificial turf versus natural grass. He said costs might range $2 million to $4 million for new turf, and decisions are yet to be made. He said either one or both projects may involve bonding to finance. “So we have to think carefully how we want to move forward with that.” He said shared services are another ongoing concern. He said Hillsdale is engaged with “another town” in potentially merging court operations and emergency dispatch operations. He said the council is likely to approve a state grant application soon to “study opportunities for further shared service arrangements.” He said PSEG was installing new, taller utility poles in town and would soon hook up Dumont and Paramus to the Hillsdale substation, which would help harden local infrastructure and make Hillsdale less susceptible to power outages. He noted new PSEG gas pipes are being installed in town, and are now 70% completed. In addition,

he noted Suez will start removing lead goosenecks, or connecting pipes, that connect its water lines to homeowner lines, sometime in later 2021. He said most rec programs had been cancelled over Covid-19. Ruocco noted the borough cancelled the Stonybrook Pool season in 2020 due to covid. He said for 2021 “it really depends on how the vaccination program goes and what our estimates are for attracting a membership. So itʼs uncertain but weʼre hopeful.” The mayor said 99.2% of property taxes have been collected recently despite Covid, although revenues were down $400,000 due to less fees and permits. He said the OEM staff was able to secure reimbursement for all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) costs. He said he hopes in-person council meetings are allowed soon in 2021, which “are a little more robust, more realistic, and he suggested the borough find a way to involve the Zoom platform so residents can participate more fully rather than only watching on cable television. He said it was likely to be


Valentine’s Day, February 14

months before any local vaccination site might open due to a lack of vaccine supply. He said the issue of fire and ambulance readiness has to do with available volunteers, which have increased due to less people commuting to New York. However, he said “very few people” over 25 have volunteered for either fire or ambulance service duty due to the training required. “There are differences among the towns for ambulance response patterns. I think regionalization is

probably the answer to that but that would depend upon the individual ambulance corps groups. The model may have to be revisited by them,” he said. He said fire departments face similar volunteer issues and suggested that the local fire department think regionally in terms of acquiring big ticket items. For related coverage, see “At annual ʻbreakfast,ʼ mayors speak to a brighter year ahead,” Feb. 1; additional stories this issue.

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Sc h ool News

AHA writers, artists dazzle in regional competition

Several talented students from the Academy of the Holy Angels just earned accolades in the regional Scholastic Art & Writing Compe-

tition. Seniors from Hillsdale and Westwood took honors. Elise Tao, a Class of 2024 stu-

dent from Upper Saddle River, earned a Gold Key, the top honor in the regional event, for her critical essay about “Mo Li Hua,” a beloved Chinese folk song. Elise will now compete on the national level of this prestigious program. AHAʼs Gold Key-winning writer also garnered three honorable mentions for her poetry. AHAʼs Silver Key winners are AHA junior Natasha Dhanrajani of Bardonia, New York, and senior Caitlin Brannigan of Hillsdale. Dhanrajaniʼs winning work is a dramatic script, titled “Suppressed.” Brannigan received her key for her science fiction piece “Calamity of Freedom,” the work that also earned her the 2020 New Jersey Governorʼs Award in Arts Education and a first place finish in the contest sponsored by the New Jersey Council of Teachers of English. Brannigan also earned the Scholastic eventʼs judgesʼ honor-


able mention for her science fiction piece, “Past Phasmophobia.” Westwood resident Emma Yale earned an honorable mention for her collage “Urban Flora.” Isabella Dail of Saddle River received six honorable mentions, and Gian Lee of Englewood Cliffs BRANNIGAN

earned three honorable mentions. Lee, who entered both the art and writing portions of the regional competition, will continue to the nationals for her Gold Key artwork, including her painting “Left Behind” and her sculpture “Red, ʻYellow,ʼ and Blue.” YALE

Park Ridge BOE meeting dates for 2021

In accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, P.L. 1975 c231, this is to advise that the following meetings will take place pursuant to Board Policy #0154. The regular monthly meetings of the Park Ridge Board of Education will be held on the third Monday of each month,

unless otherwise indicated. Private session begins at 6:05 p.m. followed by the public meeting at 7 in the Little Theater of Park Ridge High School. The dates for the regular monthly meetings are Feb. 22, March 22, April 26, May 24, June 14, Aug. 30, Sept. 20, Oct. 18,

Nov. 22, Dec. 20, and Jan. 5, 2022. Other meetings will be designated as special meetings and advertised as needed. Action may be taken on matters involving personnel, finance, litigation, and negotiations.

Valentine’s Day, February 14

Misciagna: Residents, visitors rewarded ‘foodie town’ amid pandemic BY MICHAEL OLOHAN OF PASCACK PRESS


In his remarks at the Jan. 27 Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors Breakfast, held on Zoom this year, Mayor Keith Misciagna recalled that in the 2020 breakfast, he compared Park Ridge to Flint, Michigan because they had a number of businesses leaving downtown, had empty storefronts “and we were extremely concerned about the future of our business district.” Acknowledging the losses and hardship, he also said “Believe it or not, a year later with covid in the air, our downtown has really come along.” He said about a dozen new businesses came in, including Lidl supermarket, a Mexican restaurant, and a jewelry store, which he said “had a difficult go for a while because people weren't buying retail.” He said “The good news is that Park Ridge as a community came through for our business district… In our committees, our zoning and planning, we suspended anything that would restrict our restaurants from operating. But more importantly, the residents frequented those restaurants in our borough.” He added, “As I always say, Park Ridge is a little bit of a foodie town; weʼve got a number of really good restaurants. We we were petrified that they wouldnʼt be able to survive.” He cited restaurants such as Park Ridge Steakhouse, 103 Prime,

and others that were frequented by residents via curbside pick-up and outdoor tents, “and they did not become a point of Covid spread.” He said he MISCIAGNA feared when the Covid-19 pandemic broke, “We were unsure of actually how bad this was going to be. Business-wise, people have survived.” He noted 100,000 square feet of space in the former Hertz Building was renovated by a confectionary company, Promotion in Motion, which signed a lease last year. “Hundreds of people” are anticipated to be working there” this year,” he said. Misciagna said, “So, on the business end, believe it or not, Covid did not affect us maybe as much as some other towns so weʼre very fortunate.” He noted the under-construction 240-unit downtown mixed-use development “which everybody has seen and talked about,” is set to open this spring. He said the building, called The James, is already advertising for tenants and residents. “Itʼs a beautiful structure, albeit a bit large. Itʼs a nice complement and itʼll bring more shoppers to our downtown area,” he said. He noted the structure “supplanted a waste transfer site for those that donʼt remember so Iʼm happy to see the waste transfer site go away.” He said he was pleased that the


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affordable housing litigation was settled. “I tell my fellow mayors that weʼre all going to take our turn in the dunk tank. Mine was the past couple of years. We did not succumb to a PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes] but we were pressured

into having over 400 high-end townhouses that are going to be put in the west side of our town.” He said the borough is looking to install a fiber-optic link between its three schools, police department, and borough hall “that will provide the police with access to

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cameras at the schools if God forbid something bad happens, theyʼll have access and itʼll give us a redundancy.” The mayor said the boroughʼs own electric utility employees will be installing the cable.

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EMERSON 20 Palisade Ave. (201) 261-5604 • Emerson Library offers Grab & Go Crafts to be picked up at the library and completed at home. The week of Feb. 8 brings two crafts: one for preschoolers (Valentine butterfly) and another for grades K–6 (foil leaf mosaic). One craft bag per child; Emerson residents only. Pre-register and choose the pickup day that works for you (Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). • Magical Melodies meets on Monday, Feb. 8 from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. on Facebook Live. High-energy songs, dancing, and

instruments for ages 2–4. • Baby & Me is on Facebook Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 11:30 a.m. An introduction to songs, dance and finger plays with stuffed animals and rhymes. Newborn to 2. • Miss Jolie will celebrate Love with a dance party for little ones ages 1–6. On Emerson Libraryʼs Facebook page, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 10–10:30 a.m. • At the Zoom presentation “Selling On eBay,” learn the ins and outs of the online auction site—from setting up your account through making the sale—from a PowerSeller and trained eBay educator. Program is Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 6 to


Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers

Meals on Wheels North Jersey needs volunteer drivers in Closter, Demarest, Haworth, Park Ridge, and Montvale. Volunteers give two hours each month delivering meals. The

food is picked up 10 to 11 a.m. and delivered to 10–12 clients. To volunteer your time and care where it can really help, call (201) 358-0050 or visit

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20 Washington Ave., Westwood (201)666-9682 Visit our website:

7:15 p.m. Register on the libraryʼs website for access. • Ms. Shelley of Every Little Thing Yoga will teach a yoga flow for kids that will focus on love. For children of all abilities. She will be live on the libraryʼs Facebook Thursday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. • Jiggly Wiggly, for babies up to age 2, is on Facebook Live Friday, Feb. 12 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. An introduction to dance and instruments where families will sing, dance, and play while making musical memories.

HILLSDALE 509 Hillsdale Ave. (201) 358-5072 • Virtual chair yoga classes are led by Maria Elena BaezDominguez on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Free program is held via Zoom. Register on the libraryʼs website. • Relax and recharge during a mid-week Guided Meditation with Maria. This Zoom program is offered every Wednesday evening in February at 8 p.m. Visit the

Valentine’s Day, February 14

libraryʼs website for more about this program and to register. • Zumba via Zoom is Thursday, Feb. 11 at 4:30 p.m. Janet Weller, personal trainer and group fitness instructor, leads a dancebased workout. Register online.

MONTVALE 12 Mercedes Drive, Suite 100 (201) 391-5090 • The Monday Afternoon Book Group will discuss “Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey” by Kathleen Rooney during a virtual meeting on Monday, Feb. 8 from noon to 1 p.m. The club meets the second Monday of every month and welcomes new members. Register online for Zoom link. • Artist Peri leads an online Valentineʼs Art Class for kids on Monday, Feb. 8 from 4 to 5 p.m. All you need is some paper, a pencil, and crayons or markers to color! Register online. • On Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 3:45 p.m. the Montvale Library will host a virtual STEAM-to-Go program via Zoom. Kids ages 3–5 are

invited for science-based activities. Some materials may be needed from home; others will be pre-packaged for pickup prior to the session. Register online. • In the Write On! Writing Club, Ms. Mary uses examples of good writing from library books to show older kids (fifth grade and up) ways to improve their writing. Share writing, get peer feedback. Meets monthly. Next date: Wednesday, Feb. 10, 3:45–4:15 p.m. Register online. • Members of the True Crime Book Club are reading “Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit, and Passion” by Michelle McNamara for their next virtual meeting, Thursday, Feb. 11 from 7 to 8 p.m. Newcomers welcome. Sign up online. PARK RIDGE 51 Park Ave. (201) 391-5151 • Miss Renee Reads the




Join Celebrate Westwood in celebrating the boroughʼs unique restaurants and dining establishments now to Wednesday, Feb. 10 for Westwoodʼs first Restaurant Appreciation Month. Dine in or take out at any of Westwoodʼs 42 unique eateries, which offer cuisines at all price points, from all parts of the globe which are sure to tempt every pal-

let and satisfy every craving. Celebrate Westwood will host weekly contests to encourage dining out and ordering in. To win one of several prizes valued at over $100 each, post a photo of your order, plate, or dining experience on Instagram or Facebook and tag @celebratewestwood, the Westwood eatery, and a local friend. Be sure to use #dinethehub! Multiple

submissions are encouraged. Winners will be selected each week through Feb. 10, at random. Restaurants are encouraged to highlight their weekly specials, tasteful menu offerings, seasonal specials, and new dishes. — Lauren Letizia and RoseAnn Ciarlante


Cupid’s Shopping Guide EMERSON

Hone your speaking, leadership skills online

During this unprecedented time, when most of us find ourselves at home much more than we are accustomed to, we have a unique opportunity to grow skills that many of us may be lacking or want to improve upon. For those looking to develop or improve their public speaking and leadership skills, Haworth-based Valley Toastmasters has transitioned to online club meetings, and youʼre invited. Valley Toastmasters is composed up of local residents who can help you build your skills in a supportive, self-paced environment. All you will need to join the meeting is a computer, tablet, or smartphone with a

Valentine’s Day, February 14

microphone and camera. Join a few minutes early if you would like help getting set up. Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Headquartered in Englewood, Colo., the organizationʼs membership exceeds 364,000 in more than 16,200 clubs in 145 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people from diverse backgrounds become more confident speakers, communicators, and leaders. Valley Toastmasters meets on the first and third Mondays of the month from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For Zoom access, write to

Let us help announce your achievements. Send all news to

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K, pre-k registration for public schools

Registration for Emerson pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children who expect to enter school in September will be held online Feb. 1–5. Onsite registration, by appointment only, will be held on Thursday, Feb. 4 from 9 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Memorial School.

To be eligible for prekindergarten, a child must be 4 on or before Oct. 1, 2021. For kindergarten, a child must be 5 on or before Oct. 1, 2021. Emerson Public Schools enjoys a full-day kindergarten program. Depending on registration, a full-day tuition-based pre-K program may be offered.

For registration information and materials, visit Click PreKinderg arten/Kinderg arten Registration. Residents unable to register online may call Mrs. Berg at Memorial Elementary School at (201) 599-7580.








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Valentine’s Day, February 14


‘Believe in the Bees’ scout event draws 88 Patience, 50-Plus Club. No meetings yet

Organizers of the St. Andrewʼs 50-Plus Club (Westwood) regretfully announce that due to the pandemic, the club still does not have permission to schedule in-person monthly meetings. Meetings would normally have started back up in September. “We certainly will advise everyone when our meetings may be resumed,” they write. “Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.”

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Faith Macchioneʼs “Believe in the Bees” webinar Jan. 26, part of her overall campaign to help save the honeybees, turned out very well, with other events on the horizon. Faith, a Pascack Valley High School junior, and Girl Scout working on her Gold Award, told Pascack Press on Jan. 29 that she had a turnout of approximately 88 people for the Zoom event, and itʼs available to stream on YouTube. The event focused on the decline of the honeybee population and what we can do to help honeybees, which are essential pollinators, in our everyday life. The inspiration for Faithʼs project came from the beekeeping program at Pascack Valley High School, which was introduced in late summer to fall 2019. PVHS became the first public high school in the Garden State to have a beekeeping program on campus after a bee enclosure was completed behind the math and science wing. Faith said she invites those who couldnʼt attend the Zoom event live to check it out online. “Next, I plan to try and present for the middle schools and elementary schools and then to really plant my garden and finish some other small tasks I would like to complete, and then I should be pretty much done,” she said. Pascack Press contributor Matthew Wikfors reported on Faithʼs project Jan. 18, in advance of her webinar. Faith created her a website, Facebook page, and Instagram

page, called “Believe in the Bees,” which have information about her project, the declining honeybee population, and the beesʼ value in our foods, other products, and the economy as a whole. She also took a beekeeping course as part of the project and practiced her presentation for the Pascack Valley beekeeping program.

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“I feel like this is a really important issue that needs to be addressed inside and outside of the [school] community,” she said. “Itʼs not just a problem for our community. Itʼs a larger problem for everyone.” For more information, visit believe-in-the-bees/home. — John Snyder

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In his Jan. 27 remarks to the Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors Breakfast, Mayor Peter Calamari noted “What a year itʼs been since our last breakfast,” when the venue was the convivial Iron Horse Restaurant in Westwood. He said, on Zoom, “Let us hope the vaccine does what itʼs supposed to do and life can get back to normal as soon as possible.” Calamari said he was encouraged by “the outpouring of support from town residents and everyone in the Pascack Valley to assist those in need.” He urged residents to support local businesses whenever possible. “They contribute a great deal to our communities.” He said his public affairs department, under Daisy Velez, came up with many “Covidfriendly” events to keep residents engaged in activities. He said due to Covid-19, the budget was approved late last year and the 2020 road program was not undertaken. “The township looks forward to repaving many roads this year.” Calamari said the township “is still in the process of acquiring properties” for the Pascack RoadWashington Avenue intersection overhaul, which has eluded proponents for more than a decade. “As Iʼm sure my fellow mayors would agree, that is the most time-consuming processes of any project and for good reason,” he said. “Itʼs not easy to ask for nor is it welcome news to hear that part of their property is needed for a larger improvement,” Calamari said. He said the Washington Township Police Departmentʼs new Pittman overtime scheduling system has “shown many positive results” including a 50% reduction in overtime over 2019. By way of context on that good news, on Facebook, former

Pascack Press

welcomes press releases, birth announcements, wedding announcements an event photographs from all towns in the Pascack Valley. Send all news to pascackpress@

councilman Robert Bruno pointed out that the Pittman schedule is designed “for various reasons, one being to reduce overCALAMARI time.” However, he said, it does come with additions to base pay. “The current annual hours worked are 1,952. A standard 40hour work week is 2,080 hours. The new change to the Pittman schedule for a 12-hour shift will result in 2,184 hours, which is on average 238 more than the current shift,” Bruno said. He added, “So, the 238 additional hours are broken down as follows: 128 hours is added to the 2019 base pay rate, increasing the base pay rate per employee on an average of over $8,000 (approximately $170,000 for year 2019).” He said the 2.5% annual increase will be calculated with the new base pay. “The remaining 110 hours will be scheduled adjustment hours (time off).” Calamari said construction of the new fire and ambulance build-

ing is “moving ahead on budget and schedule,” and noted the fire department recently acquired a new engine. He thanked all first responders for their service in 2020 due to Covid-19, and Tropical Storm Isaias, which brought high winds, downed trees and power outages. He said the DPW “continues to do a great job” and asked whether “any mayor present”— indeed, anyone listening to the Zoom session—might have temporary space to house the townshipʼs DPW, due to pending demolition and soil remediation in the township stemming from contamination in the 1980s. He said “ideally” the DPW could use a two-bay garage, room for vehicle storage, and office space. Calamari has announced and pulled back from temporary solutions, as various critiques have been raised. (See “Sherry Field, Dog House area, and Westwood out as DPW sites,” Feb. 1, 2021.) “Again, if anyone within the sound of my voice has any space for us to consider, please reach out to Administrator [Robert] Tovo,” said Calamari.

He said the local Office of Emergency Management (OEM) had a busy year in 2020. “The department demonstrated theyʼre there for any emergency,” he said. He noted the Washington

Center shopping plaza was fully rented—the movie theater is dark—and new tenants continue to come in. “Some are just barely hanging on via a thread but we CONTINUED ON PAGE 25

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Valentine’s Day, February 14

Grace’s Gang, Caffé Anello team up for frontline heroes



Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang and Caffé Anello are working together to feed the nurses and other frontline workers at Columbia Presbyterianʼs Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, and Transplantation unit.

Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang is a local non-profit established in 2019 in memory of Township of Washingtonʼs Grace Skuches, who battled an aggressive brain cancer. Grace passed away in September 2017. Her parents formed the nonprofit to help support the patients and staff at Columbia Presbyterian, where Grace was treated. Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang also

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supports bereaved families as well as children battling ATRT, the type of brain cancer that took Grace. On Feb. 12, the Skuches family will deliver meals to outpatient and inpatient staff of Columbia Presbyterianʼs Pediatric Oncology, Hematology, and Transplantation unit in New York City. They also will deliver prepackaged snacks and candies, and Valentineʼs Day crafts kits, for the patients. When these meals are delivered, one of them will have been the 25,000th shipped out through Caffé Anello/Sognoʼs Anello Feeds First initiative, which picked up where its initial Help Feed Our Healthcare Heroes, benefitting essential workers in New Jersey and New York, left off. If you would like to help feed a frontline worker, you can drop

off your donation at Caffé Anello/Sognoʼs at 11 Madison Ave., Westwood during business hours. You can also mail your donation to Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang, 97 Salem Road, Township of Washington, NJ 07676 or make an electronic donation at You can read about Grace and all the projects her family are conducting to honor her by visiting that website or by visiting their Facebook Page at Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang. Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang is a federally recognized 501(c)3 non-profit. Your donation is taxdeductible. Tax ID: 84-4316541.

Caffé Anello/Sogno Chef Johnny Vitale told Pascack Press on Feb. 2, “Jen and her family are amazing people and, in times like this, itʼs an honor to be part of their familyʼs cause.” He said Jennifer Skuches reached out regarding the collaboration, leveraging Vitaleʼs familyʼs first response to the pandemic: Help Feed Our Healthcare Heroes, which now as Anello Feeds First delivers homemade hot meals to local frontline health care workers. Anello also runs Anello Feeds The Arc Of Bergen & PasCONTINUED ON PAGE 23

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Valentine’s Day, February 14

Ghassali: Some 10% of workforce back in town BY MICHAEL OLOHAN OF PASCACK PRESS


In his remarks at the Jan. 27 Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors Breakfast, Mayor Michael Ghassali said he was sitting in front of a background of flowers while appearing on Zoom so he and the mayors “feel happy since thereʼs no breakfast here.” He noted that in January 2020, the last time the mayors met at the chamberʼs invitation, at the Iron Horse Restaurant in Westwood, 25,000 employees were on the job in Montvale: “employees that needed food, dry cleaning, flowers, gas. Today we have about 10% of the workforce back in town.” He said more than 50 small businesses were lost, including small office employers “that found working from home is more efficient and cheaper and I agree with them.” He said some vacant buildings exist but about 40 new businesses came into town, leaving a deficit of 10–15 businesses—so far. He said a job fair was proposed, similar to a previous one held, “and all the major employers

said they have a hiring freeze so that didnʼt work.” He said the new businesses added were health-related, such as CityMD GHASSALI and pharmaceuticals. “So it seems in Montvale, at least, thereʼs a shift toward the health sector, which we like.” He said three major projects are ongoing, including an assisted living facility, 350 housing units on the former Mercedes-Benz site, and about 80 townhouses on the former A&P site. He said he was working with mayors Misciagna of Park Ridge and Rendo of Woodcliff Lake to get a regional location for offering vaccines. “Again, it comes down to supply,” he said. He said Montvale had 244 residents infected by Covid-19 and six died. Year to date, 55 active cases are reported and he said all should be in their homes, following doctorsʼ directions and quarantining, and he questioned if they were indeed doing the right thing. “So if youʼre within the sound of my voice and you are infected

and you test positive, please follow the directions of your doctor for the sake of your family, your community and all of us,” he said on Zoom. He said he did not think the fire department and Tri-Boro Vol-


unteer Ambulance Corps should become paid departments. “I donʼt think at this time we need it, but if we do I think we can turn the switch on rather quickly.” He said local emergency communications infrastructure might

be enhanced by “getting more people licensed to use ham radios, so that may be one way to use the communication in emergencies.” Ghassali said that in Montvale “We didnʼt really have much CONTINUED ON PAGE 29


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LEAH ZISLIN, grade 3 at Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley, cradles her new Siddur (prayer book). Seventeen third-grade students received their own Siddurim in celebration of their learning to read Hebrew. Inside were personal notes from their parents on bookplates to add to their joy. The students received their siddurim after singing Havdallah (the ritual to end the Shabbat and usher in the new week) on Saturday night and used them in class the next morning. Leah’s mom, Elena Zislin, wrote: “Last night’s Siddur presentation was wonderful. We are so proud of Leah and her classmates!” Rabbi Shelley Kniaz, Leah’s education director, responded, “This photograph says it all—just look how she is hugging that Siddur and see the expression in her eyes! We are so happy for the students and their families.”

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In his remarks Jan. 27 at the Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors Breakfast, Mayor Carlos Rendo said the borough is at a crossroads, and that it has been particularly hard-hit by Covid-19. He noted the “mainstay” of Chestnut Ridge Road, the Hilton Hotel, on 20 acres, closed permanently during the pandemic, dealing the borough a blow. He said ESAI Corp. also closed and moved to a Clifton medical campus, taking all the employees that otherwise might frequent the Tice Center. He said other corporate buildings on Tice Boulevard are only 45% to 50% occupied, which may lead to tax appeals and more abandoned properties. On the positive side, he said, PDI, a leader in infection prevention products and solutions, came in on Chestnut Ridge Road, and Whole Foods is set to open in June. He said the Broadway Corridor is “a major concern” due to abandoned properties, including a bank, and a garage and parking lot. He called all the vacant properties a result of not adopting a comprehensive Master Plan, an issue that recently split the council. “Unfortunately we have a council that does not understand the importance of planning” and adopting a comprehensive Master Plan. Rendo said “That is a con-

stant struggle that we are battling with right now.” He said a council vote on a pending ordinance to update the Master Plan RENDO was due soon. “Iʼm not hopeful that that will pass based on conversations Iʼve had with the council,” Rendo said. He said without an updated comprehensive Master Plan “in the end thatʼs going to damage Woodcliff Lake… immeasurably.” He called it “inconceivable” that Woodcliff Lake would be the only one of 70 Bergen County towns not to update its Master Plan. He said pending litigation against the borough by a developer denied approval for a 60-unit, two building complex at 188 Broadway charges the Master Plan is outdated. Rendo said the pending lawsuit charges that “The economic conditions of the [corridor] area have affected them, therefore they need the variances to build” and without an updated Master Plan, “leaves our zoning board and planning board vulnerable to those types of litigation.” He said without an updated Master Plan, property values will decline along the Broadway Corridor, the boroughʼs downtown. He said the borough was “actively engaging” with Holy Name Hospital and Valley Hospital, and to partner with Park Ridge and Montvale to administer vaccines to area residents at a convenient regional site.

He said supplies remain the major holdup. “It is inconceivable to me that we have had nine months and the state still has not had a plan to distribute these vaccines when they should have been working on this from the very get-go.” He said he took issue with prisoners and smokers getting vaccines “before our seniors do. But that is something that is beyond my power. That lies with the state.” He said he was working with councilman Steven Falanga and Administrator Tom Padilla to get free local Covid-19 testing. He said that to date 430 residents had contracted Covid-19. And he again charged lack of a vaccination plan for the general public was “inconceivable” given the critical need. He said a new developer is proposing 19 to 22 “green energy” single family homes on the former Rosengren property on Old Pascack Road, partnering with Tesla Motors. He said a preliminary meeting with the council Planning Board liaison and board chair to discuss the proposal is planned soon. He suggested other towns might want to request developers in their community help contribute toward an ambulance that could be used by the tri-boro squad. He said Galaxy Gardens was “moving along,” with design of concept plans due soon. He said a walking trail planned around the reservoir “hit a snag with Suez water” and surrounding towns would work to resolve the issue.


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accepted the fact that home ownership in New Jersey was no longer a viable option for me— mostly because of the real estate taxes. This is not a new phenomenon—older people of average means faced this long before my coming of age. Even apartment living in Bergen County was not financially feasible for me. So at the suggestion of a friend, I sold my house in Park


Sharing the salute with fellow vets


To the editor: E: “VETERAN OF the Week,” Feb. 1, 2021: I share this honor with every veteran who ever donned the uniform of the United States of America. Thank you. George M. DeRosa Hillsdale

George DeRosa a role model


To the editor: EORGE DEROSA is a man of the people. Selfless, generous and kind, he certainly is a role model. So often he visited my classroom on Senior Citizen Day and Veterans Day. His willingness to tell his stories with energy, enthusiasm, and authenticity brought to life both his experiences and love for community and country. His recognition by the county for his contributions as a veteran are echoed by many Pascack Valley students. On behalf of all those who have listened and been influenced by your words, we thank you, George, for your service. Jeff Jasper Hillsdale Teacher of history and government at Pascack Valley High School

Ridge and moved to Vermont, which has something in common with Bergen County: the population—about a half a million in both locations. There are differences, of course. For one thing, there are no traffic lights for 30 miles in any direction from my new place. I assure you that we do believe in stop signs. Vermont is a financially strapped state where resident homeowners struggle to maintain their dwellings. Just as I was house poor in New Jersey, many of my new neighbors are overwhelmed by increasing real estate taxes. They can pay for upkeep or taxes, not both. So I, an out-of-stater, arrive with a bundle of New Jersey home-sale profit and think nothing of the relatively low Vermont resident property taxes. This mindset creates tension, especially at town meetings and at the country store. After spending a year and a half searching for a house, I concluded that Vermont homeownership without carpentry, electrical, and plumbing skills was out of the question. So I found my perfect apartment in a farmhouse that fulfilled every item on my house wish list. Now that I am no longer house poor, I have the freedom to orchestrate my life according to the music of my heart. I call it reverse osmosis—the ability to be a kid again. I wake up without an alarm clock, stare out the window without accountability, paddle my canoe, ski, or walk every day with intention, and write short stories, commentaries, and letters to the editor. Betsy Thomason West Townshend, Vt.

Mrs. Ianora thanks her many fans


To the editor:

for the outpouring of affection and good wishes on my 100th birthday. My house became a scented garden of friendship with all your bouquets; and countless cards, balloons and goodies made it a truly festive occasion. Itʼs my time to reminisce, and to reawaken to the countless blessings that have graced my life. God has been most generous to me. Family, friends and acquaintances have paved my way with their love and encouragement. Only with the advantages and benevolence offered by this great country of ours, and this lovely family town of Emerson could such a fortunate life be possible. A special note of gratitude is due to our Mayor Danielle DiPaola. Her unstinting kindness and action made this milestone birthday the highlight of a lifetime. Her Proclamation and her meticulous orchestration of the memorable drive-by parade are dream-like in their magnitude. Our parade surpassed the Broadway ticker-tapes because this was infused with hometown intimacy. Iʼm deeply grateful to those who participated in a long line of tooting private cars and municipal vehicles; and to all who contributed to a smooth procession. You have made a centenarian incredulously, humbly happy. Bless you. Francesca Ianora Emerson Editorʼs note: For more, see “Francesca Ianora Day, on a beloved borough boosterʼs 100th,” Feb. 1. Y HEARTFELT THANKS

Rescue prez charged with stealing $105K


A River Vale resident and former president of the Nutley Emergency and Rescue Squad was charged with misappropriating more than $105,000 from various rescue squad accounts and a debit card, said the Essex County Prosecutorʼs Office in a press release. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II announced Jan. 29 that Jonathan Arredondo, 30, of River Vale, allegedly took over $75,000 in funds from rescue squad accounts from May 2019 through August 2020, generally in amounts of $5,000 or less, on 19 occasions, which he then deposited in his personal account via an ATM. Moreover, Arredondo is charged with running up more than $30,000 in personal expenses on a rescue squad debit card. At the time of the alleged theft, Arredondo was president of Nutley Rescue Squad; for much of that time the squadʼs treasurer position was unfilled. In 2020, a new treasurer was elected and following an audit, an investigation was opened. A first court appearance for Arredondo is scheduled March 1. After allegations were brought forward in August 2020, Arredondo was suspended indef-

Photo via Essex County Prosecutor’s Office

initely. “The leadership of NVERS is horrified to discover these actions, and to find that the person whom they trusted to guide and lead the squad has abused this trust and placed the organization at risk,” Tim White, a spokesman for the squad, said at the time. The Essex County Prosecutorʼs Office notes that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. —Michael Olohan


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for kindergarten registration for the 2021–22 school year. To be eligible for kindergarten in September 2021, children must be 5 by Oct. 1, 2021. For a registration packet, visit the school website at Click on Dorchester School under schools, and then 2021–22 Kindergarten Registration under Links & Announcements. During the COVID-19 restrictions, the district requests you e-mail a completed registration form and all required documentation as directed on the kindergarten registration page by Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Questions? Call the main office at (201) 930-5600 ext. 100.

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DiPaola: 3 nursing homes in borough, waiting on vaccine Speaking Jan. 27 at the Greater Pascack Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Mayors, Mayor Danielle DiPaola said the borough has been conducting all of its council meetings “live” during the pandemic, with precautions in place, and said that has generated some social media comment. Early on, she said the borough ordered PPE and Plexiglas

barriers “in order to make Emerson very safe for all the borough staff and also for council members so we were able to convene DIPAOLA together.” She said no Covid-19 outbreaks have occurred in Borough Hall although, and she said the borough has had high Covid-19 infection numbers since December 2020, when college students returned.

She said that county data shows over 500 infected individuals in Emerson, but noted that Emerson also has three nursing homes. She said “There was a very very wide spread of the virus in our nursing homes” early in the pandemic, “which jumped our numbers up considerably.” She called Emersonʼs covid plan “a good plan” to keep residents safe. She said volunteers from Oradell–Emerson Rotary, in cooperation with local health officials, are assisting seniors at the library to make online reservations for

saic County. The Arc serves over 1,400 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. “The best way we can apply our talents is through feeding the heroes who have no time to grab lunch or dinner on the front lines. Here is how we are making a difference in the fight and we are asking for community support,” Vitale said. Vitale posted of his familyʼs

efforts, “All proceeds go to making the meals, delivering the meals as well as 20% put aside for the small businesses of Westwood and the greater Pascack Valley small business districts.” He said, “We feel it helps in three ways: feeding the frontline heroes of this pandemic, helping small business in town, and helping our own restaurant get back to business as normal when this virus has run its course.” He told Pascack Press, “When the Graceʼs Gold Ribbon Gang

delivery is made Feb. 12 it will be the 25,000th meal we have provided since the start of the pandemic.” Vitale said, “We have supplied meals to healthcare heroes, essential workers, food banks and families in need in our community and surrounding communities. The best way people can contribute to our cause is ordering their family curbside dinners every Sunday at our website.” For more information and to get involved, visit and



Grace: ‘Gang’ feeding heroes FROM PAGE 18

Covid-19 vaccinations. She said the borough reached out to Northwest Bergen Regional Health Commission to get vaccines in town but supplies are too low, they were told. She said PSEGʼs Energy Strong program upgrades over the last two years “have been a little bit of a hindrance” but noted the PSEG plan and DPW working together has allowed the borough to pave over 65% of roads. She said the majority of Emerson roads are smooth. She said 2021 budget talks start out with a $70,000 shortfall but theyʼre looking forward to increasing local revenues. She said a budget spending moratorium was imposed last year, and that her CFO and administrator foresaw shortfalls. According to DiPaola, tax collection is at 99% and she wanted to devise “a least tax impact” budget. She said one business, corporate chain PetValu, closed its local store against a backdrop of nationwide closures. She said a couple of business-

es opened, including a rehab facility, Trinity Rehab, in Pascack Valley Shopping Center. She thanked essential workers, borough staff, and DPW “and everybody that came to work during the Covid-19 crisis.” During the breakfastʼs public Q&A, DiPaola said the previous administration granted a PILOT to the Block 419 project “and residents are very worried” about the impact on infrastructure, police, municipal services, and schools. The Block 419 Project, officually Emerson Station, plans to construct a four-story building with 147 apartments and 15,000 square feet of retail space. The borough and developer, Emerson Redevelopers Urban Renewal LLC, an affiliate of JMF Properties, are suing each other. The borough alleges the developer reneged on paying $500,000 in construction services for acquiring land at its former ambulance corps headquarters while the developer is suing Emerson for interfering with its ability to complete the project.



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DR. KAPLAN: ‘Understanding the many kinds of dizziness’

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dizziness is called BPPV. When this occurs, a person will feel like the room is spinning, which is called vertigo, and it usually occurs when they turn over in bed. It typically only lasts for a short period, but it is really intense. Now, even though it is intense, it is also the easiest type of vertigo to fix. Most doctors will perform an Epley Maneuver in the office and it is usually fixed in just one visit if it is done properly. This is basically where the doctor lies the patient back and positions the head at a certain angle and sort of moves certain crystals in the inner ear so they go into a place that does not create the dizziness anymore. This condition is not dangerous because it does not harm people, but it is very scary. Another condition that causes vertigo but is a lot more rare than BPPV is called Ménier’s disease. This usually starts in one ear and the patient may have low tone hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and an increase in ear pressure that accompanies the vertigo. Reducing salt in the diet, avoiding caffeine and quitting smoking helps a lot if you have Ménier’s disease. In addition to BPPV and Ménier’s disease, another condition that causes people to be dizzy or lightheaded is called vasovagal syncope. This is where someone does not get enough oxygen into the brain and they get so lightheaded that they may even pass out. It can become really dangerous because they may hit their head. For vasovagal syncope, or lightheadedness, it is best to see a functional neurologist who can

work on improving blood flow to the brain by performing brain exercises. There is another common condition called POTS that can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. With POTS, the person will get lightheaded if they get up too quickly or swing up their heads quickly. In a normal functioning person, when you get up quickly, the blood pressure increases to push the blood and oxygen into the brain. However, when the body is not functioning properly, the heart rate goes up really high to try and get more blood flow into the brain. Both POTS and vasovagal syncope usually causes lightheadedness in the standing or walking position, while BPPV usually causes vertigo in bed while turning over. Also be aware that dizziness can be a side effect of medication, especially high blood pressure medication. If you have dizziness as a result of medication, talk to your medical doctor and see if there is another option that does create as many side effects. Also your medical doctor may suggest further imaging to rule out a brain tumor such as an acoustic neuroma which can also cause dizziness. Sometimes dizziness is not related to a brain lesion or a side effect of medication, but can be from hypoglycemia, which is like the opposite of diabetes. Instead of your blood sugar being too high, the blood sugar is too low. To prevent dizziness from hypoglycemia, it is important to eat frequently. You never want to go more than two hours without eating, even if it is just a piece of fruit, a carrot, or some nuts. Many times a brain injury from a concussion, a car accident, stroke, and even Covid-19 can cause dizziness. Often these patients are diagnosed by their medical doctors with vestibular migraines. In our office, we have been noticing that these types of patients who are doing hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy, neurofeedback, and the infrared laser, in conjunction with functional neurology have been improving

their brain function and improving their quality of life by preventing dizziness. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so I am also going to review some basic home remedies to prevent dizziness. When you get up in the morning, sit up on your bed and count to 10 before standing. When you stand up, count to 10 before walking. If you get up in the middle of the night, turn on the lights to help prevent falls or bumping into things. If you have to pick something up off the ground, squat and keep your head straight instead of bending over. Take things slowly like turning your head, or turning over in bed, or getting up. Dizziness can be caused by an infection. If there is inflammation that is aggravating your dizziness, natural anti-inflammatories like resveratrol or turmeric may help reduce symptoms. Dizziness and vertigo are complicated so it is important to see a doctor to properly diagnose your condition. By analyzing your eyes, ears, balance, gait, posture, reflexes, muscles, most doctors are able to diagnose which condition is causing your dizziness. In my opinion the most important test is called the VNG or VOG. It is noninvasive, there is no radiation, it does not hurt, and it only takes about 15 minutes. It normally costs $300, but we are doing a special at our Emerson office for the month of February where you can get the complete exam for only $21. If you have any friends or family that suffer from any of these conditions or any other neurological problems, have them take advantage of this opportunity to get this brain test by emailing or calling (201) 261-2150. In addition, if you have had any history of concussion, traumatic brain injury or Covid-19 brain fog, call or email to sign up for my FREE Zoom seminar on Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m.


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following three variances. A use variance to place multi-family housing not permitted in a SO (Special Office) zone; a bulk variance for an additional half story in height for Building 2ʼs three stories where only 2.5 stories are allowed; and a variance for interior parking landscaping, where it proposes 185 square feet while 1,320 square feet of interior parking landscaping are required. Moreover, the applicant seeks three waivers from site plan requirements. These include maximum main approach grade for walkways of 4%, where 5% is proposed; a minimum swale grade of 2%, where 1% is proposed; and minimum of one off-street loading berth where none are proposed. In a related matter, the Borough Council has a public hearing


Feb. 8 on an ordinance to hire a planning consultant, Philips, Preiss, Grygiel, for $45,000 over five years to update its Master Plan and address planning issues including Broadway Corridor. According to the borough attorney, Master Plan updates and municipal revaluations can be expensed over five years via a special emergency appropriation. At a Jan. 27 Pascack Valley mayors forum, Mayor Carlos Rendo used the occasion to criticize the council, charging they “[do] not understand the importance of planning” and said they appeared poised to vote against updating the boroughʼs Master Plan. He said the Master Plan was being challenged in a pending lawsuit by a developer denied approval to build a 60-unit, two building complex at 188 Broad-

way about 18 months ago. “Iʼm not hopeful that that will pass based on conversations Iʼve had with the council,” Rendo said. He said without an updated comprehensive Master Plan “in the end thatʼs going to damage Woodcliff Lake in the future immeasurably.” Rendo said Jan. 27 that the pending lawsuit charges that “the economic conditions of the (corridor) area has affected them therefore they need the variances to build” and without an updated Master Plan “leaves our Zoning Board and Planning Board vulnerable to those types of litigation.” He said without an updated Master Plan, property values will decline along Broadway Corridor, the boroughʼs downtown, due to the presence of dilapidated and abandoned buildings.


Schepisi on scheme to defraud NJ Traumatic Brain Injury Fund

A former manager of the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund and two others were arrested Thursday, Jan. 31, for allegedly stealing millions from the fund for personal interests. Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, who is actively involved with the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey as well as a survivor of a brain aneurysm, responded to the news of the charges and investigation. “I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I survived a brain aneurysm and brain surgery with no lasting side effects. Many more have suffered traumatic brain injuries with less favorable outcomes and that is who should be benefitting from the stateʼs Traumatic Brain Injury Fund,” said Schepisi (R-Bergen). “To steal from a fund intended to help maximize people's quality of life following a traumatic brain injury is deplorable. Families rely on this publicly-funded program to help them secure therapies, assistive technologies, home modifications and more to

improve their daily lives. This scheme allegedly lasted for 10 years—a decade of fraud that stole life-changing support from vulnerable residents,” she added. According to Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig, former fund manager Harry Pizutelli, and two others, C.R. Kraus and Maritza Flores, both of Toms River, are charged with conspiring to defraud the program of more than $4.5 million. Pizutelli allegedly orchestrated the distribution of fraudulent vendor payments to Kraus, Flores, and others by generating and processing false invoices and internal payment vouchers for services to patients that were never rendered. “We cannot let this incident define the fundʼs future or distract us from its purpose. There is a lot of important work yet to be accomplished. Itʼs critical that the fund is successfully and responsibly managed going forward so that the help is there when people need it the most,” said Schepisi.

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The fund is distributed by the Division of Disability Services in the Department of Human Services. In addition to helping those who experienced a brain injury, a portion of the fund also goes to public education, outreach, and prevention activities. The fund is supported by a 50-cent fee on motor vehicle registrations, which generates about $3.7 million annually.

Calamari: Remarks hope they make it through,” he said. He said local restaurants “all seem to be doing pretty good” but “unfortunately for Seasons [Catering] this has had a big impact on their business.” The mayor said he “missed” all the social occasions that usually took place there. He said the town has “two internet feeds” from different providers coming into the Municipal Center; 5G service


will be “considered” as itʼs rolled out. He said volunteer resources were being stretched thin by Covid-19 “and new housing that our infrastructure wasnʼt built for.” He said the township will do its best to provide emergency services by relying on its mutual aid partners, and should that not be enough, “Weʼll look at all the options available to us at that time.” — Additional reporting by John Snyder

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Snubbed: Variances sought





Editorʼs note: The following article is for informational purposes only. When it comes to Social Security and retireERIC KOHLMEIER ment, you may have conflicting viewpoints: On one side, you hope to start collecting your benefits as soon as youʼre eligible—after all, itʼs your hard-earned money. On the other side, you know that, if you wait, your monthly benefit amount will increase. While it does make sense to

wait as long as you can, Rob Arthur, first vice president/manager of the Federal Benefits Consulting Group, Wells Fargo Advisors, recommends you reevaluate your situation every year in retirement before deciding whether to continue delaying getting benefits. One item you need for that annual retirement review: a current copy of your Social Security benefit estimate from This provides personalized estimates of future benefits based on your real earnings and lets you see your latest statement and your earnings history. Here, Arthur outlines a com-

parison of claiming now vs. later, and offers key considerations as you review your strategy each year. Comparison: Claiming sooner vs. later. Letʼs start with a hypothetical example: John Doe was born in 1960 and was earning $200,000 a year when he retired. He decided to start receiving Social Security benefits as soon as he became eligible at 62, or five years before he would receive full retirement benefits. His monthly benefit in todayʼs dollars is $2,106. If he had delayed receiving benefits until he was 70, heʼd receive $1,700 more a month, or $3,806. And he would make up for

the eight-year delay in not taking any benefits in about 10 years. (And because one out of every four 65year-olds today will live past age 90, according to the Social Security Administration1, the long-term benefit could be substantial.) Make wellness a deciding factor. Your health can play a big role in helping determine when you should start taking benefits. Do your loved ones live long lives, or has everyone succumbed to illness before age 65? “Itʼs not the most accurate indicator of whatʼs going to transpire in the future, but it can have some bearing,” Arthur says. “If youʼre in reasonably good health, that counsels in favor of waiting,” he continues. “If youʼre in poor or guarded health, that counsels toward drawing benefits sooner rather than later.” Do you have enough income? Another key factor is having other sources of income to live comfortably in retirement without needing Social Security benefits. He says you should consider the guaranteed rate of return Social Security offers: 6.25% (plus a cost-of-living increase). Thatʼs better than the guaranteed rate of return available in todayʼs market. Considerations for married couples. Arthur advises married clients look at multiple factors when determining the timing for each spouse to claim Social Security benefits. For example, if your spouse works full time and you work part time or seasonally, his or her Social Security benefits may be dramatically higher than yours. Itʼs still wise for both of you to wait, if possible. “Not only does it increase the size of the benefit that the [higherearning] individual personally receives, but it also increases the size of whatʼs known as the sur-

vivorʼs benefit that the [lowerearning] spouse could draw if the individual passes away,” Arthur says. Keep in mind that the current average life expectancy of a 65year-old man is 84 years, while a woman that age can expect to live until age 86, according to the Social Security Administration. What about taxes? When it comes to when to claim Social Security benefits, Arthur advises his clients not to focus primarily on the tax ramifications. “The vast majority of people that I counsel, their marginal tax rate in retirement will be fairly constant,” Arthur says. “If retirees were to take their Social Security benefit at 62, what I typically see is their marginal tax rate is exactly the same or approximately the same as it would be if they claimed the benefit at age 70. I want [them] to focus instead on maximizing the net cash flow over the remainder of their lifetime.” Global Investment Strategy is a division of Wells Fargo Investment Institute, Inc. (“WFII”). WFII is a registered investment adviser and wholly-owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company and provides investment advice to Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Wells Fargo Advisors and other Wells Fargo affiliates. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. This article was written by/for Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Eric Kohlmeier, senior financial advisor, managing director—investments in Park Ridge, (201) 505-0472. Investments in securities and insurance products are not FDICinsured/not bank-guranteed/may lost value. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Member SIPC, is a registered broker-dealer and a separate non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.

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branches specifically what Amazon has done to brick and mortar retail more generally. Westwood now has three former bank sites empty and available. So far, two of the three—with the upside of plentiful onsite parking—have generated interest for adaptive reuse. Of the 16 storefronts that went dark during 2020, nine are now reoccupied or soon will be, and 10 belong to nine entrepreneurs new to Westwood. They have brought their business models to a town that they believe will withstand the pandemicʼs worst economic impacts. This new investor interest and business churn has occurred not only during severe public health and economic crisis, but without Westwood having added new uses, recommended for as-of-right zoning amendments in its recent Master Plan re-enact. Westwoodʼs Nevertheless, well managed and cared for Central Business District remains a desirable destination for business investment due to its scale, charm, and pedestrian friendly environment—unique for our area—and for its Parking Authorityʼs


engaged management of customer, commuter and employee parking. The ParkMobile app, implemented by the WPA in fall 2020, streamlines the downtown parking experience and allows for better data collection. This data, when used in conjunction with recording the manual meter and kiosk collections, will better inform our land use, planning decisions. Westwoodʼs parking inventory has been mostly fixed for 25 years. The additional meters were added in private/public partnerships pursuant to developersʼ agreements across two CBD properties. Keeping this finite resource in mind, we anticipate increases in vehicular through-traffic and consumer parking demand, stemming from the pending addition of thousands of apartments across neighboring towns, this to partially satisfy their affordable housing mandates. We have taken a cautious approach with respect to adding parking intensive uses as of right in the CBD. We plan to study, post-pandemic trends with an eye towards appropriately scaled growth, intensity, and commercial

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improvements. Historically, Westwoodʼs land use governance has been thoughtful and deliberative: qualities that have avoided mistakes and produced much evident success. Weʼd prefer to plan for additional public parking, or better allocation of existing resources, based on data and actual observation rather than assuming that rideshare services, and public transportation, will soon replace owner operated vehicles in a truly appreciable way. In fact, over the last decades, neither train nor bus commuters have generated much CBD activity, except for the occasional coffee and newspaper a commuter may grab in the morning or a take-out dinner meal in the evening. And now, without those 300 daily train commuters passing through the Westwood Train Station, commuter/consumer impact is even more negligible. The post-pandemic rebound of transit into New York City is an unknown, but will likely follow a long-term trajectory. High earning “knowledge workers” in finance, insurance, information services, and tech prefer the work at home model. Time is a most precious commodity. For many industries, there is no need and, perhaps, a newfound detriment to the commutersʼ threehour round trip daily slog: Employees save on the expense of NYC priced travel, clothing, food, and entertainment and employers reduce their overhead rental costs for “vanity” office locations, utilities, maintenance, and client entertainment realizing expenses—while increased productivity. Those saved dollars—repatriated from NYC—become discretionary dollars that can be spent locally. Few commuters are currently on the trains and buses, but Goldbergʼs is still booming. CBD lunch business, largely moribund

pre-pandemic, has also picked up, in line with more folks working from home. Today, office buildings in New York City are allowed 40% occupancy under Covid regs, but in practice, facility managers are seeing closer to 10% occupancy. Make no mistake: people and businesses are leaving for reasons other than the virus. Murders in New York City were up 42% and shootings up 15% in 2020 over 2019ʼs totals. The streets are filthy, the subways are dangerous, and business properties are not adequately protected. Those who can are voting with their feet, just as the cityʼs similar unraveling in the 1990s brought myself and my wife to Westwood. We ought not emulate that governance. Repeating its follies will only produce the same results here. But what does it all mean for the suburbs and for post pandemic localism? After the 1918 pandemic, the euphoria of the roaring 20s spread nationwide. Westwood, for its 2.3 square miles, saw its third largest population boom in population growth, trailing only by comparison to the decade after its 1894 incorporation, and the postwar baby boom. Similar pent-up demand is in the offing for us as long as the economy, like the virus, remains poised to surge locally. I believe it is. That belief is not based on faith. Itʼs based upon the reasoned investments entrepreneurs have continued to make in Westwood despite the pandemic, and in our currently booming residential real estate market. That market is fueled by those seeking to trade overpriced, cramped and dangerous urban living arrangements for suburban, small town spaciousness, personal safety and the relative ease with which one can be socially distanced—and comfort-

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ably sheltered from the storm. In 2020 almost half—51 out of 105—single family homes in Westwood—sold for over their asking prices. In the second half of the year, 40 out of 75 sold for above list. With interest rates still low, Realtors are reporting increased foot traffic at open houses, and multiple same-day offers. Westwood continues to offer what urban refugees like myself and my wife sought 27 years ago. And people are willing to pay a premium for it. The governing bodyʼs job is not to screw it up. As we look toward a postpandemic future, we need to be smart about our expenditures and the ways in which our municipalities are funded. Despite the positive net of businesses in the Central Business District, we know many are struggling to make ends meet and our property owners have taken on additional burdens to retain viable tenants. Our tax assessor has written down commercial values by 5%, adjusting to the economic hardships the pandemic lockdown and restrictions have wreaked on commercial property owners. This was done not only in the interest of equity, but in the hopes of reducing the number of tax appeals which generate litigation expenses and refund payments should property owners prevail. In 2020 we realized an $86,000 shortfall in anticipated revenues. We were able to mitigate some of that through a hiring freeze, as well as reduced spending on salaries wages and overtime. Fortunately, the borough was reimbursed for its covidrelated expenses via the Bergen County Cares Municipal Grant Program. One place where we might best be able to lessen the strain of tightened budgetary belts is through the consideration of shared services. Westwood is open to participating in mutually beneficial, shared service arrangements. For example, in 2018, both Westwood POA and HUMC donated two newer passenger vans to the borough, replacing two older ones that frequently broke down. The vans regularly serviced a small group of Westwood seniors, but CDL drivers were hard to get for the relatively CONTINUED ON PAGE 31


edges of Woodcliff Lake Reservoir. The mayors, and Pascack Press, had been told the trail received conditional approval by the state DEPʼs Watershed Property Review Board (WPRB) about two years ago. The WPRB is the stateʼs regulatory entity overseeing watershed lands that protect the water quality of New Jerseyʼs surface reservoirs. Weʼd reached out to Suez in advance of our update story Feb. 1—“Suez holding up Woodcliff Lake Reservoir trail?”—that detailed the mayorsʼ concerns with delays and Suezʼs role, but didnʼt hear back by press time. Now have heard from the company, whose spokeswoman, Debra Vial, said she read the story. In an email, she emphasized that “It was SUEZ that brought the idea of a walking path to the three Pascack Valley communities as a way for our customers and their residents to enjoy the natural beauty of the protected property surrounding the water supply reservoir.” Vial said, “While SUEZ owns the property and pays taxes on the land to the three communities, the State of New Jersey controls access to the land through conservation easements.” She added, “We have been diligently working with the state and the boroughs on a plan that would allow residents to enjoy the walking path and that plan is cur-


rently under review by the New Jersey Watershed Review Board.” Vial said itʼs up to the state “to examine and approve any use of this land and it is a responsibility they, and we, take very seriously as this land is part of a watershed that serves nearly one million [north Jersey] residents.” She said, “While we expect the board to conclude their review of the plan this year, we are unsure of the timing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.” Vial called the article, which took up the townsʼ concerns, “inflammatory.” We emailed officials at the Watershed Property Review Board to get confirmation of the boardʼs role, the status of Suezʼs reservoir trail agreement, and its perspective on possible holdups. We did not hear back by press time. We ran Suezʼs statement by Rendo, Misciagna, and Ruocco and asked if it had clarified the situation for them. Ruocco said, “I frankly do not recall whose idea it was, nor do I care. Itʼs a good concept and a shame that it is taking so long to reach fruition.” He said negotiations with Suez and discussions with New Jersey were “well underway” when he joined the council in 2015 “to pave the way for this project.” Ruocco said the three towns then were making progress with Suez, and Suez with state authorities, and agreements with all parties were signed. He said a setback occurred

when state DEP funding appeared to be in jeopardy, but it was resolved and Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake had funding restored for $15,000 trail-related grants. However, Ruocco noted, Hillsdale did not receive its trail grant. He said the borough sought to apply this year. Though Hillsdale has the smallest section of trail, he said its part is the southern trailhead and access point. Misciagna said he believed it was Park Ridgeʼs planner who came up with the idea for a reservoir walkway, and even put it in the boroughʼs Master Plan. “Obviously, we need Suez to be on board and Iʼm not sure why it matters whose idea it was, but the idea and effort has been there a long time. We just want to get the idea over the finish line,” Misciagna said. He added, “Whatever we need to do, Park Ridge is willing to continue working together with our neighbors and Suez to bring this to a completion.” Rendo used a football analogy: “Weʼre on the 10 yard line ready to go in. By working together with all interested parties, we will get this done,” he told Pascack Press. Rendo previously said that he “would not accept” Suezʼs recent statement to Woodcliff Lakeʼs and Park Ridgeʼs business administrators, who were told that trail approval was not likely anytime soon. Rendo has said he would

invite a Suez representative to a Feb. 10 Pascack Valley mayorsʼ meeting to discuss the nature trail and other Suez-related issues. It was not known at press time whether a Suez official would attend that meeting. In April 2019, Pascack Press reported that the Watershed Prop-

erty Review Board gave conditional approval for the reservoir nature trail. The nature trail project was estimated to be a twoyear pilot program “with the possibility to extend up to three additional years,” according to the Suez agreement signed by towns.

Ghassali: Remarks of an issue with traffic” except when PSEG shuts down lights without informing local officials. He said he believed borough officials had resolved problems with lights being shut off or roads opened for utility work.


He said two new schools under construction in Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., for about 1,000 students, are near the Montvale border and will put 100 school buses on local roads. “So weʼre working with them and the county to try to find ways to make this efficient,” he said.

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Where: Mayors ‘don’t care whose idea’ trail was






few hours they were in service. The pandemic shut that service down, but Councilman Chris Montana, SAB liaison, is working with Emerson Mayor Danielle DiPaola to expand the universe of users via a shared service provided for seniors in both towns. We can start in small impactful ways. My final points bring us back to the omnipresent pandemic. As you know, COVID 19 vaccine distribution is managed federally, on a per capita basis. That puts populations with higher percentages of at-risk demographics at a disadvantage. Other states, not so situated, are able to inoculate their 65 and older populations and get the vaccine into their general populations sooner, while we in New Jersey, particularly Bergen County, are backlogged with seniors waiting for appointments, contingent on the shots arriving.

We know many seniors do not have the computer skills to navigate the online application for pre registration. Westwoodʼs Senior Advisory Board is putting together a team of volunteers willing to help our seniors by preregistering them online and following up to make sure they know where and when to arrive for inoculations. Volunteers have offered to drive them to their appointments as well. Councilwoman Cheryl Hodges organized a similar effort during the pandemicʼs March/ April peak, shopping on behalf of seniors to reduce their exposure to Covid-19. We are also exploring the possibility of in-town vaccinations for seniors and inquiring how shut-ins might receive inhome inoculations. We especially appreciate our ongoing relationship with PVMC, which has provided weekly updates on hyper-local case and transmission rates, hospitalizations—facilitating an


Arroyo: FROM PAGE 28

TOWNSHIP OF WASHINGTON 144 Woodfield Road (201) 664-4586 • Chair Yoga for Everyone, presented by Apple Rose Yoga, is offered free for Washington Township library patrons on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Visit the libraryʼs website for information. • Latte with a Librarian is on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live. Allyssa talks about her

analysis on what this all means for our community. Our Master Planners have always recognized the importance of our hospital, perhaps never more so than during this pandemic. And for that reason, the governing body will be taking up their land use recommendations for the Hospital Zone, in order to strengthen this important institutional sector of our local economy. Each town shares similar burdens but each brings its own subplots and inflections. We each have excellent professional advisors, citizen volunteers— whether elected officials, board appointees or people who truly care about each other. We still have a number of hard months ahead of us but the light at the end of our tunnel is not that of an oncoming, largely empty NJT train: itʼs the light of our post-pandemic afterlife… summoning us forth. Weʼre going to be okay.

favorite titles and new releases. Participate and share your lattes and current reads via chat. • Book Cooks Club is on Facebook Wednesdays at noon. Join Allyssa as she invites you into her kitchen to cook up a new dish. Recipes posted the week prior. • STEAM Thursdays, a program for school-age kids, is every Thursday at 4 p.m. Each week the kids make a craft or try a science experiment. Links on Facebook, YouTube and library website. • Winter Story Times are posted weekly on Facebook, YouTube, and the libraryʼs website. Music, reading, puppets and flannel board stories educate and entertain. Register online. Infants/toddlers: Fridays at 10 a.m. Preschoolers: Tuesdays at 10 a.m. • Tweens and teens grades 3 and up are invited to a virtual Cartooning Class on Monday, Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. Have your pencil and paper ready, then join John on Zoom to learn step by step how to draw a cartoon. Register on the libraryʼs website.

WESTWOOD 49 Park Ave. (201) 664-0583 • In Global E-Pals, kids grades 3–5 connect with students from around the world to learn about their culture, practice writing, and improve social skills through letter writing. Meets monthly on Google Meet. Next date: Monday, Feb. 8 from 4 to 4:45 p.m. Register online. • The next title in the Reading for Equity book discussion series is the award-winning “Stamped: From the Beginning” by Ibram Kendi, and/or the young adult version, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You.” The group meets on Zoom Monday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. Register for access. • The Teen Graphic Novel Book Group meets via Zoom Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 8 p.m.

This fun graphic novel book discussion for teens in grades 6–12 meets the second Tuesday of every month. Register online. • Intro to Scratch Coding on Zoom (grades 1–3) continues Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Meets weekly in February. Register online. • In the childrenʼs Financial Literacy series, grades 3–5 learn the importance of money through basic education, interactive games and fun lessons. Second session is on Zoom Wednesday, Feb. 10 from 4:30–5:30 p.m. Register online. • Java Coding (grades 4–5) is Thursday, Feb. 11 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom. Every Thursday, beginner and intermediate users are challenged in this popular programming language. Register online. • Music and Stories with Larry Stevens is on Zoom Thursday, Feb. 11 from 7 to 8 p.m. The Larry Stevens Duo has opened for over 35 national acts. They will perform many familiar songs in this engaging program—The Beatles, Van Morrison, John Mayer, and more. Register for access. • Bendy Bookworm (ages 1–5) is on Zoom Friday, Feb. 12 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Little ones learn easy yoga poses while interacting with a story. Register online for access. • Professional potter and artist Peter Lagomarsino leads a Childrenʼs Beginner Pottery Class (grades 3–5) on Zoom Monday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to noon. For this workshop, they will receive a kit with the materials (clay and tools). Molded creations can be brought to the library for glazing and firing. Log onto the libraryʼs website for details and to register. • The Online Book Group will discuss “The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater (YA non-fiction) for its next meeting, taking place on Zoom Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. All adults welcome. Register online.

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RIVER VALE 412 Rivervale Road (201) 391-2323 • River Vale Library offers Crafts-to-Go that can be picked up at the library and completed at home. The week of Feb. 8 brings three: one for kids in pre-K to fifth grade (choose Valentineʼs paper plate snail or clothespin dragonfly), another for tweens and teens (winter gnome), and a third for

adults (rolled paper rose Valentineʼs greeting card). Supplies are limited. First come, first served. • The virtual workshop Genealogy for Beginners will offer tips to get you started in discovering your roots. On Zoom Monday, Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to noon. Pre-register on the libraryʼs website to receive meeting link. • The In-BeTween Book Club for grades 4–5 will discuss “Smile” by Raina Telgemeier. This program is held via Zoom on Monday, Feb. 8 at 4 p.m. Registration is required for access. • Qigong for Health and Wellbeing, an exercise series for all ages, meets over Zoom Tuesdays, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Qigong works the body as a whole with movement, breathing practices, and mindfulness to improve overall health. Visit the libraryʼs website to sign up. • Kids in grades 2–6 can learn to make Healthy After-School Snacks (with a Valentineʼs Day twist!) Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 4–5 p.m. Zoom session features Shoprite registered dietitian Barbara Stavrou. Find ingredient list and signup link on libraryʼs website. • Friends of the River Vale Library Book Group meets the second Wednesday every month at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom. Newcomers welcome. For Feb. 10: “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover. Register on the libraryʼs website. • Winter Story Time with Miss Tyne is on Zoom Thursday, Feb. 11 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Stories, songs and fun for toddlers and pre-K. Registration required for each session. Story time crafts can be picked up at the beginning

Classics for Kids on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Visit the libraryʼs Facebook for the best classic books in kid-friendly versions. • Storytime with Miss Sherri is every Thursday at 10 a.m. on the libraryʼs Facebook page (Park Ridge Public Library-NJ). Stories, songs and a craft for little ones. • Crafts with Miss Renee is every Friday at 10 a.m. on the libraryʼs Facebook. You must call the library the Monday–Thursday before the craft to reserve your craft kit and it must be picked up that day. All ages are invited to participate as Miss Renee walks you through a fun craft at home. • Book It Club with Miss Eileen is on Facebook Live Saturdays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Stories, science and more geared towards kids in primary grades. • A new Senior Exercise Class premieres on the libraryʼs Facebook page (Park Ridge Public Library-NJ) Monday, Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. A full-body exercise program will accommodate people of all different mobility levels. No signup required; just visit the libraryʼs Facebook to join in.

of each week to do at home. • Kids can meet Michelangelo the miniature therapy horse when he makes a virtual appearance via Zoom on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 4 to 5 p.m. Children in pre-K through fifth grade will learn about miniature horses and their important jobs. Register online. • The Virtual Knit & Crochet Club will meet on Zoom Friday, Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon. Bring a project to work on and chat with other members. New members of all skill levels are welcome. Register online for access. • Tony Bracco from Bracco Farms will give a Zoom talk, “The Return of the Victory Garden,” Tuesday, Feb. 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. Bracco will talk about the Victory Garden model for backyard gardening that arose during the First World War, and how you can start your own. Register online. • The Teen Talks Book Club (grades 6–8) meets via Zoom on Wednesday, Feb. 17 from 4 to 5 p.m. to discuss “The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau. Copies are available to check out at the front desk, or through Libby as an eBook or eAudiobook. Sign up online.






Yemie Woo, then only 5 years old, stood on stage for the first time. She held tightly onto the microphone. Although nervous at first, she soon realized that performing is something that she loved, and she plans on pursuing a career in music and musical theatre. Woo, now a Pascack Hills High School senior, has been a performer for the majority of her life, and her time at Hills has been particularly notable. This is Wooʼs final drama club season. Students and staff alike will miss her presence on stage, and they praise her on her talent in both acting and singing. “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Rent,” “Chicago,” “Godspell,” and “Curtains” are just a few of the Pascack Hills Players performances in which Woo has had a significant


She told us her favorite part about performing is “While the characterʼs storyline within a show does not change, the intention behind your portrayal of the character can change every time you go up on stage.” This yearʼs play, although just as memorable, was extremely different. Woo and her castmates were able to showcase their talents, but there was no onstage performance. This yearʼs winter production, “FaceTime Continuum: A Variety Show,” was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the virtual format, the drama club could not sell tickets to raise money. Consequently, fewer students were able to witness their hard work that usually comes together during a live performance. There have been difficult adjustments with the play this year for all of the Pascack Hills Players: rehearsal takes place virtually for three hours. “Itʼs draining to have to look


Church distributing free food Feb. 9

Westwood United Methodist Church, at the corner of Kinderkamack Road and Bergen Street, is distributing free food for those in need on Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 6 to 7:30 pm. Marion Garnsey wrote of the initiative, “Fresh dairy, meat, produce and pantry items will be

available for pickup. Food will be distributed until we run out. No identification is needed; however participant information will be collected for accounting purposes only.” Those with questions can call the church office at (201) 6640755.

YEMIE WOO, a senior at PHHS, has words of encouragement for her peers of the stage.

at a computer screen after having to do that for school and homework as well,” Woo said. In some ways, it seems that the play is more of a commitment this year than any other. It has tested the passion that each performer has for the arts. But, said Woo, “I think that the Pascack Hills Playersʼ love and passion for performing has remained the same.” Woo shared that another positive about this yearʼs play is that she, along with her fellow actors, was able to really let her “individuality” shine through. She credits the new director, Allison Andresini, for creating a show where

everyone felt they could “perform how [they] would like to.” There are plans for another show this spring, and though the details remain unclear, Woo is excited for the “more interactive” virtual show that the Pascack Hills Players will present. “My greatest hope for myself and the rest of the Pascack Hills Players would be for us to never lose the will to create,” she said. Wooʼs positivity is inspiring and refreshing in the midst of a pandemic. Her optimism gives her the strength to keep moving forward with the hope that things will be better soon.

Despite her positivity about this yearʼs play, she misses “being able to perform for an audience because the rush that you experience from that is like nothing else.” She offered some inspiring words to the Pascack Hills Players: “Itʼs been a rough year, but as long as we continue to create art and perform, weʼll make it through!” This piece originally ran Feb. 3 at under the same headline. We are reprinting it with permission as part of our Student Press Partnership, amplifying student voices throughout the Pascack Valley.


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The Knights of Columbus Council #4486 hosted their annual Free Throw Contest outdoors this year. Every year the council hosts an indoor free throw competition for the students of Our Lady of Mercy Academy. This year, on Saturday, Jan. 30, the council opened up the competition to the entire community and hosted the event at the outdoor basketball courts at OLMA. The competition was open to ages 9–14. There was no cost to enter. Prizes were awarded for most points. Despite the 26-degree temperature, the sky was sunny and blue and more than 25 made their way to the free-throw line

for outdoor basketball fun. Protective face coverings and distancing were required of all volunteers and participants, and the participants were required to bring their own ball. Tom Kistler, the councilʼs community director, credited Chris Heinimann, the councilʼs

family and youth director, for his key role in putting the event together. “It was a great way to get the kids of our community outside for fresh, cool air and compete in a sport that they love. It was also great to see the council members get together and engage in this event; as it has been very difficult for the members to socialize in person,” Kistler told Pascack Press on Feb. 1. The council is at Our Lady of Mercy Church. Applications for membership are welcomed at any time and can be completed online. For more information, visit or

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Valentine’s: Students engineer pantry food drive meaningful than any box of chocolates—will benefit Helping Hand Food Pantry in Hillsdale and TriBoro Food Pantry in Park Ridge. Pi-oneers coach Lisa Ruggieri told Pascack Press on Feb. 1, “The team holds a yearly food drive but this year they feel the need is even greater. They appreciate all the support the community gives them, and the food drive is a small way to give back.” She said the Pi-oneers are grateful for the support of the local libraries, the high schools, and “PiParents” for stepping forward as collection points. The drive runs Monday, Feb. 8 to Saturday, Feb. 13. Items needed include flour, sugar, oil, Hamburger Helper, hot and cold cereal, rice, pasta, canned meats and veggies, shampoo, conditioner, liquid hand soap, dishwashing liquid, and paper goods. Drop-off locations are the lobbies of Hillsdale, River Vale, and Montvale libraries, and those of Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills high schools. Accepting donations at their front porches are homeowners at 17 Cedar St., Hillsdale; 38 River Road, River Vale; 19 Hilton Place, Montvale; and 100 Glen Road, Woodcliff Lake. To arrange pickup, write



districts to join FIRST and start their own teams. She co-coached one of those teams at their inception and began two FIRST LEGO League Jr. teams in district elementary schools as well as in a local library. She also is lead mentor for Team Fundraising, reaching out to parents, the community, and corporations. Ruggieri told Pascack Press Team 1676 was founded in the 2004–2005 season with 35 members. After 16 years of development, the team consists of 83 members: “future innovators, thinkers, doers, and achievers. We are changing the future, one child at a time.” Between Ruggieriʼs Management, Outreach, and Design division and the Mechanical (robot) division, there are 19 subdivisions. FIRST, a global robotics com-

munity preparing young people for the future, is the worldʼs leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education. Ruggieri said “We strive not only to build a successful robot but also to master and exhibit the many life skills necessary to succeed beyond FIRST Team 1676.” In competition, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program industrial-size robots to play a difficult field game against like-minded competitors. Mentors are from local businesses, community members, and alumni parents, as well as returning alumni members. And the team—the Pi in the team name refers to the mathematical constant—does much more than pull in awards, including the 2017 FIRST World Championship;

Building a future that works Ruggieri has coached and mentored with the Pascack Pioneers for the past 16 years, beginning when her son was a founding team member. She founded the Pascack Pioneers Parent Association, serving as president and now team liaison. She is Management, Outreach, and Design Lead Mentor, guiding the Pi-oneers to many non-robot awards theyʼve won. Sheʼs liaison to the FIRST LEGO League teams the Pi-oneers PI-ONEERS DONATE DINNER to frontline workers at the mentor, and recruited those school Veteran Administration’s East Orange Medical Center.

THE TEAM DONATES masks and snacks to Hillsdale House Seniors.

THE TEAM’S 2020–2021 ROBOT has a hook shot.

it is fiercely devoted to promoting the benefits of mentor-based STEAM programs, especially those in underserved areas. In October 2017, the Pascack Pi-oneers hosted the FIRST Annual New Jersey Advocacy Conference. And the team partnered with government officials to pass a bill that provides New Jersey school districts with the opportunity to recognize interscholastic extracurricular activities and participants or varsity letter status. (Team 1676 has been an academic varsity letter team since 2014. There are 51 letter winners to date.) Much of this information is presented on a comprehensive fact sheet Ruggieri supplied on the team, and 1676ʼs website constitutes a clear and logically organized avalanche of information on advocacy, awards, projects, mentors, robots, sponsors, and alumni. Perhaps anticipating information overload, Ruggieri said, “I know our team is a lot to understand!” Asked for information on the teamʼs recent work, she singled out quarantine activities and Ready, Set, Speak! (dot-org), a website devoted to improving the communication and comprehension skills of children on the autism spectrum and suffering from apraxia. (This year, Team 1676 translated the website into Spanish to expand its impact.)

Quarantine Projects Due to the cancellation of this yearʼs competition season, the Pioneerʼs used their time to establish projects and help their community. This includes: • 3D printed mask straps for donation to nearby hospitals, police, first responders, and essential workers.

• Intubation boxes, designed by coaches, a mentor, and a parent, manufactured by team sponsor Dimensional Worldwide, and donated to hospitals and ambulance corps. • White Ribbons for Hope Campaign: Inspired by the dedication of essential workers, the Pioneers established the campaign to support each other while staying apart… “one white ribbon at a time.” #whiteribbonsforhope • “Thank you” messages were written to the workers of ShopRite. Ruggieri also touted the teamʼs outreach to Nigeria and South Africa, creating a STEM pipeline for students there. The Pi-oneers started and mentor four teams in Nigeria, and mentors others. Team 1676 organized a Nigeria Student Exchange Program through a partnership with the founder of Coderina (, a non-profit foundation in Nigeria promoting STEM. The 2020 STEAM Fair was held, virtually, in October. The Community Outreach Project Group prepared boxes filled with five interactive STEAM projects. Participants logged in to a meeting with Pi-oneers to complete the activities together. Moreover, the Pi-oneers annually visit the Childrenʼs Cancer Institute at Hackensack Medical Center, meeting the children, teaching them how to drive a robot, do projects with them, and read the teamʼs trilogy “Lily the Learner.” This past year, Hackensack University Medical Center invited the team to watch a live surgery and discuss the implementation of robotics in the medical field. For much, much more information, visit — John Snyder



Theresa M. ROMANO

Theresa M. “Terry” Romano (née Urgo), 83, of Park Ridge, formerly of Paramus, passed away peacefully on Jan. 26, 2021. Beloved wife of Louis H. Romano for 63 years. Devoted mother of Louis R o m a n o , Sallyanne Romano Calandrillo, and Suzanne Romano Kelly. Dearest sister to the late Rocco J. Urgo (2005) and Joan; Lucretia Bernardo and Tom, Michael and Antonella Urgo and Alfred Urgo. Loving grandmother of the late Christopher Calandrillo (1988), Matthew Calandrillo, Andrew Romano, Jessica Kelly, Alexa Calandrillo, James Kelly and Jaclyn Kelly. Born and raised in Greenwich Village, New York City, she married in 1958 and relocated to Paramus, where she served in the community for more than 50 years. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Paramus Rotary Foundation Gift of Life, P.O. Box 1003, Paramus, NJ 07652. Please note on your donation “Gift of Life.”

Patricia LETTIE

Patricia Lettie (née Maurer), 81, of Wayne, formerly of Park Ridge, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Before retiring, Patricia worked as a registered nurse in the Special Needs Newborn Nursery at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. She was also the vice president of Lettie Press, Inc. She was a member of B.P.O.E., Park Ridge Lodge.


Cherished wife of Theodore. Loving mother of Donald Lettie and his significant other Juliana Kasyoki, Mark Lettie and his wife Stacy, and Steven Lettie and his wife Jen Hughes. Treasured grandmother of Dylan, Samuel, Lucas, and Quinn. Dear sister of Marie Marallo and Carol and her husband Peter McCann. Adored aunt and godmother. “Aunt Pat” will be missed by all those who loved her. To make a memorial donation in Patriciaʼs name, please send gifts to the NJ State Elks Special Childrenʼs Committee, or NJ State Elks National Veterans Service.


Ann K. Patterson (née Kehoe), 89, of the Township of Washington, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family, on Jan. 24, 2021. Ann is survived by her beloved children William Jr. and wife Susan, Maribeth, James and wife Denise, Joan and husband John Ritter and Mark and wife Jackie; her brother James Kehoe and wife Mary; sister Peggy Watson; sister-in-law Joan Kehoe as well as her eight loving grandchildren: Will and wife Meredith Blank, Catherine, Matthew, Maggie, Grace, Thomas, Sean and Jimmy. Ann is predeceased by her dear husband, William (Bill) and brother Joseph. Ann grew up in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx and moved to the Township of Washington in 1962 to raise her family. Ann graduated from St. Barnabas High School in the Bronx and New York University, class of 1953. Ann was proud of her athletic accomplishments throughout high school and college years where she excelled in field hockey, basketball and track, having

raced at the NYC Armory and Madison Square Garden. Ann was a physical education teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel in the Township of Washington and Our Lady of Visitation in Paramus. Over the years, Ann led an active life as a member of the Red Hat Society, Township of Washington and Paramus senior clubs, monthly lunches at Madeleineʼs Petit Paris in Northvale, regular bridge and domino games, as well as trips to the local casinos. Ann was an avid folk art painter who shared that joy with her family and friends in the form of handpainted ducks, furniture and especially Santas. Ann also had a deep love of Disney that she and her late husband Bill joyfully shared with their children and grandchildren. Memorial contributions in Annʼs name can be made to Camp Acorn, P.O. Box 1383, Paramus, NJ 07653 ( or to the charity of your choice.


Michael Francis DeMarrais of Woodcliff Lake passed away on Jan. 21, 2021. He was the beloved husband of Carmen (née Arias), his wife of 55 years, who was by his side when he died peacefully after a nine-year battle with cancer and complications of surgery. Michael was a partner in the Hackensack law firm of Alampi & DeMarrais, and the Zoning Board attorney in Ridgefield Park, until his death. He was born on Jan. 17, 1941 and was predeceased by his parents, Joseph A. and Genevieve (née Hanigan) DeMarrais. He was raised in Bogota and graduated from Bogota High School. His accomplishments there included earning the rank of Eagle Scout and making varsity in basketball,


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baseball and football. There were two passions in his life, both starting with the letter “C”: First, his love for his wife Carmen, and the second, his passion for Colgate University (Class of 1962)—well-known to everyone. It was there that he earned his varsity “C” in wrestling in 1961 and 1962. Michael was a graduate of Rutgers University Law School Newark (1965) and clerked for Judge Kilkenny, New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division. Michael went on to serve as municipal judge in Woodcliff Lake and Montvale and was also a prosecutor in Woodcliff Lake. Over the years his athleticism turned to tennis, and he enjoyed membership in Oritani Tennis Club, Hackensack; Hackensack Golf & Country Club, Oradell; Tenafly Tennis (Outdoor Club); and Upper Ridgewood Tennis Club. Bermuda and Jamaica were his favorite beach and tennis destinations. Michael brought sunshine to rainy days, and will always be remembered for his beautiful intellect, and most importantly, for his integrity. He was an aggressive litigator, and had the ability to simplify the arguments in the most complicated cases. Survivors include his sister, Marion Fischer of Somerset; and brothers Paul of West Redding, Conn., Kevin and sister-in-law Marilyn of Teaneck, Maria T. Williams, sister-in-law, predeceased Henry A., brother-in-law, Calabasas, Calif. as well as 14 nieces and nephews. A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date. In lieu of flowers, memorial scholarship donations for financial need can be sent to: Colgate University, P.O. Box 313, Canajohaire, NY 13317 (make check payable to Colgate University; memo line: Michael F. DeMarrais Class of 1962).


Ralph Frank Spataro, 81, of Emerson, son of Italian immigrant parents Mary and Dominick Spataro, died on Jan. 25, 2021. Ralph is predeceased by his wife, Marge (Margaret Babcock) Spataro and survived by his son Dominick Spataro and former wife Xio, his daughter Ann Marie Spataro-Marrone and husband Michael, and his grandchildren Dominique Spataro and Michael Marrone. Ralph is predeceased by his brother Rocco, his brother James, and his sister Catherine. He is survived by his sister-in-law Rose, his sister-in-law Frances Babcock OʼNeill, and brother-inlaw William L. OʼNeill, DDS. Ralph was loved by his many cousins, nieces, and nephews, and extended family and friends, and gave his time, love and devotion to his family, friends, and neighbors.

Born at home, and raised in West New York, N.J., Ralph graduated from Memorial High School. With an interest in insurance, he continued his education at Parks Institute of Insurance and the College of Insurance in New York. Ralph wed Marge, the love of his life, in 1961 at Our Lady of Libera Church. They lived in North Bergen for 11 years and then moved to Emerson in 1972. They worked together and owned Weisbart Insurance Agency in Rochelle Park for many years, and then joined Johl & Company in Westwood, where Ralph was vice president. A strong believer in service to his country, his community, his church, and fundraising for charities, Ralph joined the U.S. Air Force National Guard in 1957, was stationed at Lackland A.F.B. in San Antonio, Texas, and remained in service until the early 1960s. He served as president of the North Hudson Jaycees, a community leadership training organization. While a parishioner at Our Lady of Libera Church, he was active in the Holy Rosary Society and Knights of Columbus. As a resident in Emerson, Ralph held the positions of recreation commissioner and vice president of the Emerson Baseball League. He also coached both the baseball and softball leagues. While a parishioner at Church of the Assumption, he continued his devotion to the Knights of Columbus and was especially honored to be a part of the choir and sing at Mass every Sunday. Ralphʼs membership in the Westwood Chapter of UNICO National led to a position as president, and he and Marge (also former president) hosted many fundraising events for The Epic School in Paramus. When given time to himself, Ralph could be found dabbling at a piano, playing his saxophone, or comfortably watching his favorite sporting events with family and friends, at home or at the NY Giants and NY Yankees stadiums. A celebration of Ralphʼs life with a Memorial Mass will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Hope for Children, 700 D Lake St., Ramsey, NJ 07446; or to the Eric Ayala Memorial Foundation (c/o Mike Raimondi), 100 Jefferson Ave., River Edge, NJ 07661.

Harold VAN ECK SR.

Harold Van Eck Sr., 98, of Westwood, passed away peacefully at home on Jan. 29, 2021. Beloved husband of Florence Guarneri Van Eck. They celebrated their 75th wedding on anniversary May 21, 2019 at Seasons Catering. Devoted father CONTINUED ON PAGE 39

Gottheimer signs on to fully restore SALT deduction local taxes on their federal income returns, end double taxation, and give families in Northern New Jersey a tax cut. According to Gottheimer in a press release Feb. 1, “In 2017, the deduction was gutted and capped at $10,000 by the Moocher States and resulted in a tax hike for many mid-

dle-class families.” He said capping the SALT deduction resulted in double taxation by imposing a tax on taxes already paid. “In high cost of living areas, the cap has continued to accelerate a race to the bottom that drives families to other states, often subsidized by the


‘Burial vs. Cremation’ webinar Feb. 10

Valley Chabad Academy of Jewish Studies invites you to an online event open to all, on the topic of burial vs. cremation from a KORNBLUTH Jewish perspective, on Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Jewish tradition guides the spiritual and practical observances in connection with death and dying. Join bestselling author Doron Kornbluth for a fascinating and educational presentation on the hows and whys of traditional Jewish practice in dealing with death, burial and mourning. Kornbluth is a sought-after international speaker, teaching all types of audiences in more than

OBITUARIES of Harold Van Eck Jr. (deceased), Allan Van Eck of Ringwood, Constance Webb of League City, Texas, Peter Van Eck of Rockaway Township, Emanuel Van Eck of Westwood, Elsie Porcelli of Paramus, and Vincent Van Eck of Ramsey. Dear brother to Sister Pierre OSB and Sister Francine OSB. Loving grandfather to Brysen, Jameson, Kelin, Grant, Eric, Peter, Melissa, Jessica, Amie, Jaclyn, Erica and Douglas. Loving great-grandfather to Hannah, Keirnan, Torrin, Felicity, and Joseph. Born in Wallington, he lived in Lodi for 29 years before moving to Westwood in 1976. Harold was a World War II Army sergeant and received the Bronze Star for valor. Harold was an active member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, serving in the choir and as a lector. He was the Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 5427. Harold was also a member of the American Legion and VFW. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Benedictine Sisters, St. Walburga Monastery, 851 N. Broad St., Elizabeth, NJ 07208.



Gloria M. Compitello, 98, a lifelong resident of Highland Avenue, Emerson, passed away on Jan. 28, 2021. Born Nov. 18, 1922 to Anthony and Theresa Compitello. Predeceased by brother Anthony (Buster) and sister Marie Biggs. Survived by three nephews, James Biggs, Paul Biggs and wife Diane, and Robert Biggs; two grandnephews, Michael Biggs and wife Danielle, and Kevin Biggs and wife Julieanne; and one

grandniece, Kim Biggs. Gloria retired from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, NYC, in 1985 after 40 years as a radiology librarian. She was a past president (1954–1958) of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Emerson Fire Department, and a leader in First Girl Scout Troop #6 in Emerson for a number of years. A lifelong parishioner of the Church of the Assumption in Emerson. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Church of the Assumption, 29 Jefferson Ave., Emerson, NJ 07630.

Elizabeth Ann REDDING

Elizabeth Ann Redding (née Clause), 81, of Park Ridge, formerly of Jermyn, Pa., and New Milford, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loving family, on Jan. 23, 2021. Beloved wife of the late John T. Redding for 58 years. Devoted mother of John Redding (Laura), James Redding (Rania), Charles Redding (Tracy), and Amanda Furletti (Richard). Cherished grandmother of Thomas, Joseph, Shannon, Faith, Juliana, Kristen, Sabrina, Skyler, Alexa, and Gabriella. Bettie was a registered nurse, earning her nursing degree from Saint Josephʼs Hospital School of Nursing in Carbondale, Pa. Bettie worked tirelessly in emergency rooms and hospitals in the TriState area while raising four children. She was a parishioner of Our Lady of Mercy R.C. Church. Bettie was most passionate about family and friends. Her friends and family will most remember great times at holiday events, cooking up more food than was ever needed, family vacations, and her self-assertive, loving nature. Bettie will be remembered from PTAs, local sports fields, and

150 cities a year. Kornbluth has spent over three years studying the subject of Jewish burial practice, speaking with experts, consulting environmentalists, reading industry reports and academic studies, and examining both the realities on the ground and the philosophies behind burial and cremation. There is no charge but registration is required. Visit to register. mahjong tables from New Jersey to Florida. She will be remembered for her sayings like: “Youʼll be better before youʼre married,” “If you donʼt eat it, you can starve,” and “Itʼs not what goes in your mouth, itʼs what comes out of it.” Bettie had an impactful influence on all she came in contact with. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in honor of Adrienne Kelly.


(née Weinstein Kathie Alberg) of River Vale passed away on Jan. 28, 2021. She was 72. Beloved wife of Jeffrey Weinstein. Devoted mother of Brian and Matthew Weinstein. Cherished mother-in-law of Jamie and Lindsay Weinstein. Dear sister of the late Dr. Stephen Alberg. Loving grandmother of Erica, Michael, Wesley, and Rachel Weinstein. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Kathieʼs memory (

Michael B. CARGILL

Michael B. Cargill of the Township of Washington died on Jan. 25, 2021. He was 79. Michael was raised in Ridgefield and Manasquan. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard and became an avid boater and fisherman. Michael belonged to the Hudson River Fishermanʼs Association and the Bergen County Anglers, where he made many longtime friends. He volunteered for the Youth Anglers program at HRFA and for many other tournaments and activities for both clubs. He fished as much as possible on his beloved boat, the Susie B. After his retirement from the wholesale meat business Michael also volunteered every Monday

very states their new residents have left. This leaves middle-and lowerincome taxpayers holding the bag to pay for school, police, fire, and other essential state and local services.” The repeal of the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The legislation is led by Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and original co-sponsors of the legislation include Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL), Congresswoman Young Kim (R-CA), Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), Congressman Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), and Congressman Mondaire Jones (DNY). “Ever since New Jersey got absolutely whacked by the 2017 Tax Hike Bill, I've been fighting to fully reinstate our SALT deduction and to finally cut taxes for North Jersey families,” said Gottheimer. “With this new bipartisan legislation, both sides of the aisle are

for 20 years for the CHORE program, making repairs for the elderly and disabled. Michael was a diehard Devils fan, loved listening to the oldies, enjoyed good food and travel, was a consummate fisherman and was known to have an occasional beer. He was a loyal friend and will be missed by all of them. Michael leaves behind Sandi, his wife of 45 years, two sisters, JoAnn Hessinger and Marie Louise Pruitt and their families,

coming together to help reinstate a tax break for our hardworking, middle-class families, helping more Jersey residents through this pandemic. Itʼs time to finally get this done.” In addition to bipartisan support in the House of Representatives, a repeal of the SALT deduction is supported by state leaders and several national leaders including: • U.S. Conference of Mayors • National Association of Counties • National League of Cities • International Association of Firefighters • National Association of Realtors • American Federation of Teachers • National Education Association • National Association of Police Organizations sister-in-law Pat Casey and husband Kevin and nephew Ryan, lifelong friends Carl and Kathy Bergquist and Art and Gwen Dalton. Michael held a very special place in his heart for Susie and Dan Dʼhuyvetter and for his godsons Tim and Kevin Dalton and their families. Memorial donations to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation ( or a charity of your choice would be appreciated.



The Reserve Unit of the Park Ridge Police seeks new officers. The Reserve Unit is committed to upholding the Constitution, community, and agency it serves. The unit relies upon the professionalism, dedication, and commitment of its officers to accomplish this task. The vision of the Reserve Unit is to work as a vital part of the police department in building and maintaining the strong bonds of a healthy community policing program. This will be accomplished by providing all officers with the tools they need. In turn, the unit will assist the police department in meeting the challenges of reducing crime, creating a safer community, and improving the quality of life. The core values of this Unit are: integrity, professionalism, commitment, moral character, mutual respect, and teamwork. Applications to become a reserve officer in Park Ridge will be accepted until January. Applicants should understand they are

volunteering to contribute to the overall mission of the unit. Individuals are expected to be professional on and off duty and will be held accountable for their actions at all times. Before applying, make sure you and your family are ready for what will be required of you. In order to qualify you must be a citizen of the Unites States, live within five miles of Park Ridge (provided no program exists in your municipality), be at least 18, be in good physical and mental health, be at least a high school graduate, not have a criminal record or unsatisfactory driving record (background check required), successfully complete the next class held at the Bergen County Police and Fire Academy in Mahwah (classes held at night for three months), and expect to serve around 150 hours a year (includes training and duty time). For more information and an application, call Sgt. DiBlasi at (201) 391-5400 ext. 5232 or stop by police headquarters.


U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) has joined a bipartisan group of six other members in the House to introduce the SALT Deductibility Act, a bipartisan bill to fully restore the full State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. The proposal would allow taxpayers to fully deduct their state and











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