West New York will vote on elected school board Nov. 5

Residents of West New York will go to the ballot on Nov. 5 to vote on whether the school board will change from appointed by the mayor to elected.
The West New York School District was recently the subject of a scathing report by the New Jersey State Department of Education that alleged the administration of Mayor Felix Roque manipulated the hiring, firing, and demotions in the school district and pressured employees into buying tickets to a political fundraiser.
Last week, former Mayor Sal Vega, who lost to Roque in 2011, said he supported the move to an elected school board.
“On Tuesday, Nov. 5, West New York voters will have the opportunity to approve an initiative that would allow them to elect their own school board. We, the voters, should be able to choose” said Vega. “We have tried an appointed board for many years and the time is now for a change.”
Vega in a statement released to the media said the Department of Education’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Compliance began its investigation in July 2012 after being alerted by federal authorities – which were conducting an investigation on an unrelated matter — to concerns of inappropriate political involvement in the hiring practices in the school district.
Vega said he feels this is a clear example of why the time is right for a change to an elected school board. “This current administration and appointed school board are obviously incapable of responsibly having a direct say, when it comes to the future of our students. The majority of municipalities in New Jersey are represented by an elected school board. The time has come for our town to have that same type of democratic representation. Please join me in voting YES!”
Besides serving as mayor until he lost an election to current Mayor Felix Roque, Vega also served the West New York School District as an educator and administrator for thirty years. Vega is currently retired and still resides in West New York.

West New York officials announce crime decrease

Mayor Felix Roque, Commissioner of Public Safety Caridad Rodriguez, and Police Director Robert Antolos announced last week that in West New York, the overall crime index dropped 26 percent.
Director Robert commended the dedication and professionalism of all the officers of the WNYPD who “helped make this a safe summer for the residents of West New York,” according to a release.
The release said that during the months of June, July, and August of 2013, there was a redeployment of police personnel, which enabled the department to put more officers on patrol and to create a Narcotic Task Force. This resulted in a 170 percent increase in narcotic-related arrests. Patrol overtime was reduced significantly with sick and vacation day coverage, saving taxpayer money.
Between May 20 and June 2, the WNYPD took part in the State Of New Jersey Click-It or Ticket program. Because of this initiative, three hundred total summonses were issued: 30 for suspended licenses, 7 for speeding, 81 for seat belt violations, 14 for uninsured drivers, 2 for reckless driving, and 166 summonses for various other offenses.
Between Aug. 25 and Sept. 2, the WNYPD took part in the state-wide Drive Sober or Get Pulled over program, resulting in 9 DWI arrests.
The WNYPD is also involved with the Cops in Shops program which puts undercover officers in establishments that sell alcohol to prevent underage alcohol purchases and drinking, and as a result, 7 arrests were made.
“I am extremely proud of our Department,” Commissioner Rodriguez stated. “Under the leadership of Director Antolos, since May of this year, the West New York Police have done a remarkable job, even with the shortage of officers. The math speaks for itself.”
The winter portion of the department’s redeployment program will include a community policing team which will implement ride and walk program: officers will ride to various places around town, get out of their vehicles, and walk and interact with the community.
“I am happy to inform that the newly hired officers are now at the Academy and will be out on our streets in January of 2014,” the commissioner continued. “We are also planning to hire more by the beginning of 2014 so they will be available to work by next summer. It is a huge sense of accomplishment to feel that our Town is well protected. Congratulations to Director Antolos and West New York’s Finest.”

Free theater classes in Union City

The Grace Theatre Workshop, Inc. will be having registration for its professional theatre training program for children ages 8 and up from Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. 8 p.m. at Jose Marti Freshman Academy, 1800 Summit Avenue, Union City.
Unlimited free classes in Ballet, Hip Hop, Salsa, Tap/Rhythm, Singing, and Acting. To register, kids must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. All classes are free. No special clothing or equipment needed. Registration fee is $30 per student. All of the instructors are professional performers. Open to all residents of Hudson County. Adult classes in Salsa are also offered at no cost.
For information, log on to

North Jersey mayors to attend mDest13 conference on Super Bowl

On Tuesday, Oct. 29, the Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau (MLCVB) will host a lineup of speakers at its “mDest13: The Pregame Show,” in East Rutherford. The event will feature a panel of mayors from northern New Jersey municipalities.
The ninth annual conference, which takes place at the Lexus Club at MetLife Stadium, will kick off at 12:30 p.m., when Jack Groh, director of the NFL’s Environmental Program, gives his keynote speech about his experiences from previous Super Bowls, conveys what we can expect as the hosting region, and shares some behind-the-scenes information about the environmental aspects of the game.
“We’ve got area business and municipal leaders who are eagerly gearing up for the visitors and attention that will come to the area for the Super Bowl,” said Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of the MLCVB. “MDest2013 is a great opportunity for them to share best practices and concerns so that we ensure that the Meadowlands Liberty region puts its best face forward in February.
“MDest 2013 is designed to give our members a feel for the types of entertainment that typically surround the game,” Kirkos said, “and be able to envision how their businesses can make sure every visitor’s experience is special while they are here.”
For more information, call (201) 939-0707 or visit

Volunteers needed at New Jersey Blood Services

New Jersey Blood Services, which supplies blood products and services to 60 hospitals throughout the state, is in need of volunteers at blood drives.
“The blood service volunteer is an integral member of the collection team, whose task it is to assist donors with registration, escorting, and canteen duties, and to watch for post-donation reactions,” said R. Jan Zepka, manager of community relations.
Volunteers should have the ability to relate to the public, be able to perform different jobs as needed, and have the willingness to follow rules.
For additional information, contact Zepka at (732) 616-8741 or

‘Drawing Nature’ course being offered by NJMC Science Center

A “Drawing Nature” beginner/refresher course for adults and teens will be offered by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) on Saturday, Nov. 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the NJMC Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst.
“Sketching and drawing are the foundations of visual media,” said NJMC spokesman Brian Aberback. “If you’ve never drawn, or if it’s been awhile, this class will begin to unlock the secrets of realistic illustration. Exercises will focus on ‘seeing’ natural objects for their visual components; shape, proportions and values, and using pencil techniques to translate what you see onto paper.”
Take-home supplies will be provided.
Tickets are $20 for the public; $15 for Meadowlands Environmental Commission members.
For more information, call (201) 460-8300.
“Valley Brook Avenue will be closed on November 2nd,” Aberback said. “Participants must take the alternate to DeKorte Park route via Schuyler Avenue to Disposal Road.” A map of the alternate route can be found at

Weehawken High hosting band festival Nov. 3

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the 5th Annual Weehawken High School Band Festival will take place at Louis A. Ferullo Stadium, Park Avenue in Weehawken, at 1 p.m.
Approximately 10 high school bands from across New Jersey will perform, and the day will be capped off with a performance by the award-winning Indians Band.
Tickets are available for a donation of $5 each (children age 5 and younger enter free).
Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the event.

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