Epps apologizes for comment about schoolgirls

Jersey City Schools Superintendent Charles Epps told a group of pastors gathered in Jersey City last week that female students were the reason the school system spends $1 million on police and security personnel. The web site quoted Epps as saying that “Our worst enemy is the young ladies. The young girls are bad. I don’t know what they’re drinking today, but they’re bad.”
When asked to clarify the comment, Epps backtracked, telling a reporter that he had been speaking “metaphorically,” and that school violence is committed by both male and female students.
Thursday afternoon, Epps held a press conference to apologize for the remarks.
Epps, a former assemblyman, was appointed by the state more than 10 years ago to run the district, but has stirred some controversy from those in the district who opposed the terms of his recent contract renewal.

Vega gets 30 months in jail

U. S. District Court Judge Jose Linares has sentenced former Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega to 30 months behind bars for accepting bribes from a government informant. Vega, who also served as the director of the Department of Parks, Engineering, and Planning for Hudson County, was among 44 public officials and religious leaders who were arrested in July 2009 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation corruption sting.
He pleaded guilty last September in U.S. District Court to taking a $20,000 bribe from government informant Solomon Dwek. Vega admitted that he promised to expedite zoning approvals for a development Dwek said he planned to build on Garfield Avenue.
Vega also admitted in court that he had agreed to accept an additional $10,000 bribe from Dwek as part of the deal, although Vega was arrested before he received this final payment.

Newport Easter egg hunt slated

The annual Newport Easter egg hunt is scheduled for Thursday, April 21. Open to Newport residents only, it takes place at Gazebo Park on River Drive from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Children from ages 3 to 10 are encouraged to attend with their own baskets in order to participate. The kids will be hunting for more than 1,000 toy or candy-filled Easter eggs. The Easter bunny will also make an appearance.

Volunteer Expo coming up

The Third Annual Hudson County Volunteer Expo will be held in the grand lobby of the Loew’s Jersey City Theatre at 54 Journal Square on Tuesday, April 26, from noon through 8 p.m. The event is free and open to anyone. Hundreds of local short- and long-term volunteer, internship, and community service opportunities will be showcased. The event is sponsored by Friends of the Loew’s and cosponsored by the City of Jersey City.
“The Loew’s was saved by volunteers, and its operation and ongoing restoration also rely on volunteers,” said Pattie Giordan, managing director of the Loew’s. “I can’t think of any more appropriate place to promote volunteerism in Hudson County than here.”

State DEP sets hearing on waterfront access

The State Department of Environmental Protection has scheduled a hearing in Jersey City to discuss revisions to the state’s Coastal Zone Management rules. The hearing is set for 11 a.m. May 12 in Liberty State Park. While environmental groups worry that the proposed revisions could limit public access to waterfronts in the state, the state DEP contends that the new rules will help local municipalities to develop Municipal Public Access Plans and use state Green Acres funding more efficiently.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, told a local newspaper, “We believe these rules are so vague and so ripe for political abuse that they will close the door on the public.”

Battle to clean the steps of the Jersey City Armory rages on

O n Feb. 6, the Jersey City Reporter detailed the ongoing problem of vagrants soiling the steps of the Jersey City National Guard Armory. The armory is under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Spearheading the effort to have the steps protected by a gate is Vincent Pantozzi of the neighborhood group, Mercer Street Block Watchers.
On April 4, he received a letter from Terry Dearden, office of government relations, State of New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran Affairs. Dearden wrote, in part, “Due to budgetary constraints and the building’s historical status, the department is not inclined to modify the facility at this point.” Pantozzi vows to continue the effort to preserve and safeguard the steps of this 1930s icon.

Jazz great John Pizzarelli hits town

World renowned jazz guitarist, singer, and New Jersey native John Pizzarelli will perform with the New Jersey City University (NJCU) Jazz Ensemble in a scholarship benefit concert on Monday, April 18 at NJCU at 7:30 p.m. The 18-member ensemble is made up largely of graduate students. Tickets range between $10 and $100. The concert will be at the NJCU, Margaret Williams Theatre of Hepburn Hall, 2039 Kennedy Boulevard. For tickets call (201) 200-3489.

Liberty Humane Society offers “Tax Refund Weekend”

Liberty Humane Society is offering a 50 percent refund on any adoption during tax weekend, April 15-17, valid on all dogs or cats over one year old. Cats and dogs will also be on hand for taxpayers who just need a furry friend during this stressful time. Cuddle a cat, hug a dog, take a deep breath, and attack those forms! Liberty Humane Society is at 235 Jersey City Blvd. in Jersey City. (201) 547-4147.

St. Anne’s holds fundraiser in Hail-Mary effort

St. Anne’s school in the Jersey City Heights may close if it can’t raise $100,000. Currently there are more than 200 children in the school. A fundraiser will be held Wednesday, May 4 at 6 p.m. in Centennial Hall, 255 Congress St., Jersey City. For more information, call (201) 659-0450.

Old Willis Avenue Bridge laid to rest in Jersey City

The old Willis Avenue Bridge, which once stretched across the Harlem River from First Avenue and East 124th St. in Manhattan to Willis Avenue and East 134th Street in the Bronx, was moved to Jersey City on Tuesday, April 12. The 110-year-old bridge was replaced by a new one last summer. Plans call for melting and recycling the steel from the old bridge and making the concrete parts into land fill, according to the Associated Press.

Arbor and Earth Day celebration

On Saturday, April 30, Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Memorial Park will hold its second annual Arbor and Earth Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The historic cemetery is at 435 Newark Avenue. The event includes a community cleanup and planting followed by a Mother Earth concert from 3 to 8 p.m. A $5 donation is suggested for the concert. There will also be a student art contest. For more information or to donate or volunteer, call Eileen Markenstein at (201) 707-0738 or visit

Due to a printing error, “Spirit of the dance: Local folkloric center keeps tradition alive” (March 20, 2011) will be reposted to the web site at a later date.

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