Two teachers named Educators of the Year at middle school

The winners of the 2015-2016 Governor’s Educator of the Year Awards have been announced at Secaucus Middle School. There are two awards given out each year: the Educator of the Year and the Educational Services Professional of the Year.
The Middle School Educator of the Year is Amanda Jones, who has been teaching history at the middle school since 2009. She is a Google Certified Teacher and has used those skills to train middle school students and teachers on how to use Google Docs. Jones is the co-author of an interdisciplinary book combining history and art, and was given the responsibility of presenting the book in Atlantic City during the NJEA Convention in 2014.
Jones has served as an advisor to eight different committees and clubs. She is also the head coach of the Secaucus High School varsity softball team and has written multiple different curriculum plans for the school district.
The Educational Services Professional of the Year is Nancy Jaber, who works as a case manager in the Middle School Child Study Team and serves as a learning disabilities teacher consultant for both the middle and high school.
Jaber served as a teacher of the handicapped in middle school, earned her master’s degree in special education, and was the inclusion specialist for the entire district of Hoboken. Thanks to her efforts, Secaucus Middle School students will participate in the Special Olympics for the first time and be able to compete in athletic contests without fear of judgment or loss.

New business: Barquin Funeral Home opens

A new business has come to Guttenberg. Barquin Funeral Home, located at 7101 Broadway, opened its doors this month.
With members of the Barquin family and the City Council of Guttenberg standing by, Mayor Gerald Drasheff of Guttenberg cut the ribbon Dec. 5 at the grand opening. He had Mario A. Barquin to his right and his father Mario E. Barquin to his left, plus council members Alfonso Caso, Donna Florio, Monica Fundora, and John D. Haberman.
The owners describe it as “an elegant and traditional facility with a modern look.” Call 201-869-3000 for more information.

Hospital Alliance of New Jersey presents ‘CARES Award’ to legislative leaders

CEOs from 17 of New Jersey’s top safety net hospitals presented Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto with the first-ever CARES Awards for their dedication to protecting healthcare access in New Jersey’s low-income communities. The Hospital Alliance CARES Award (Commitment to Access and Recognition of the Essential role of Safety net hospitals) celebrates leaders in New Jersey who have influenced policy statewide, have engaged with the Hospital Alliance Board to recognize the challenges facing safety net providers, and have worked closely with urban hospital leaders to underscore the importance of safety nets in their communities.
Hospital Alliance President and CEO Suzanne Ianni pointed out that while the Affordable Care Act extended coverage to hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans, almost a million remain uninsured and need a viable safety net health system to care for them. “Even for those who gained coverage, safety net hospitals remain their primary access point for care – and that access must be preserved,” said Ianni. “We are grateful to our legislative leaders for standing with us.”
“New Jersey’s safety net hospitals face many challenges, and yet they continue to provide significant community benefits,” said Prieto. “These hospitals provide critical access to care for many of our underserved communities, act as significant engines of economic opportunity in our cities, and play a vital role in training the healthcare workforce of tomorrow.”
“New Jersey’s safety net hospitals are vital members of our communities,” said Sweeney. “Not only do they provide health services to some of our most vulnerable citizens – regardless of their ability to pay – they also serve as key drivers of economic opportunity, employing over 30,000 people and bringing thousands of resident physicians to urban hospitals. They serve their communities in many ways.
“We have to continue to work to make sure that quality healthcare is affordable and available to everyone in New Jersey and we have to make special efforts to address the needs of urban communities that continue to struggle with homelessness, addiction, and unmet behavioral health issues,” he added. “New Jersey’s safety net hospitals are key players because they are mission-driven organizations that care for the uninsured, the poor, the elderly, the homeless, and the addicted. They are there to meet those needs. Because of the important impact they have on our communities, and their unique challenges, I stand with safety nets, I support their work and I am committed to helping them ensure we have a sustainable health system for all New Jersey residents,” added Sweeney.
“Without a well-supported and sustainable safety net health system, the health and wellness of our urban centers will suffer,” said Prieto. “These hospitals provide a lifeline for our state, improve the health and wellness of our communities, and employ our citizens, and for that reason, we must protect them.”

Free photos at the Animal Shelter for adopted pets

Anyone who has adopted a pet from the Secaucus Animal Shelter in the past two years is invited to receive a free photo shoot from Champion Pet and Family Photos. Getting your pet’s pictures taken is fun for the entire family. Book your family and pets appointment now by calling (800) 713-0790. Photo shoots will take place in a 26-foor studio trailer on the Secaucus Animal Shelter lot at 525 Meadowland Pkwy. Your choice of background. The cost is $19.99 for one subject if not adopted from the shelter.

American Dream mall to feature three restaurants from Bellagio and Carpaccio owners

Representatives of the American Dream mall in East Rutherford announced on Dec. 3 the addition of three fine dining and signature restaurants in the property. Tom Billante, president of Carpaccio at the Bal Harbour Shops, along with partner Alex Kalas, will bring the restaurants to the mall and entertainment complex.
“We look forward to featuring multiple concepts from the Carpaccio family of restaurants in The Dining Terrace at American Dream,” said Don Ghermezian, president of Triple Five, the developers of American Dream. “The Dining Terrace will showcase 15 full-service restaurants in an exciting dining destination complete with a park like setting and patio seating.”
The Dining Terrace is planned as a collection of 15 full-service restaurants showcased in one location. To create a unique dining space, American Dream has engaged Manhattan-based iCrave, an award-winning industry leader in innovative design environments that engage visitors in trendy dining experiences.
“The international mix of incredible restaurants at American Dream will provide our guests with an exceptional place for exquisite dining. We are satisfying a real need in this market for a true dining destination by creating a place that will appeal to local residents, those visiting from Manhattan, as well as the millions of tourists visiting from across the nation and around the globe,” said Ghermezian.
The Triple Five Group of Companies own the two largest shopping and entertainment centers in North America: Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall. Their plan for the 3 million-square-foot American Dream includes over 450 retail, food and specialty shops, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, and The Collections, a 460,000-square-foot luxury and fashion area.
American Dream is also slated to house North America’s largest fully-enclosed indoor DreamWorks Water Park, Amusement Park and a 16-story Big Snow Indoor Ski & Snow Park. Also planned for the property are a 1,500 seat live performing arts theater, a 285-foot tall observation wheel, luxury movie theatres by Cinemex, a 70,000-square-foot Sea Life Aquarium & Lego Discovery Center, a NHL-size Ice Rink, and two 18-hole miniature golf attractions.

Anti-bullying presenter to speak at Secaucus schools on Jan. 20

John Halligan, international presenter on anti-bullying, will offer three different presentations in the Secaucus Schools on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Halligan’s 13 year-old son, Ryan, committed suicide after enduring four years of bullying and cyberbullying in school. Since that time, Halligan has dedicated his life to speaking with student and adult groups. He stresses the effects of bullying from the perspective of the victim’s family, the understanding that all children are loved by their families beyond what they can comprehend, and the need for bystanders at bullying incidents to step up.
Halligan will offer presentations on Jan. 20 to all middle school students at 8:30 a.m. and to all high school students at 1 p.m. He will facilitate an evening presentation to parents at 7 p.m. titled “If I Could Have a Do-Over: A Father´s Hard-Earned Lessons about Cyberbullying, Depression, and Suicide.”
Each presentation will take place in the Arthur Couch Performing Arts Center, 11 Mill Ridge Rd. All residents of Secaucus and neighboring communities are invited to attend the evening presentation. Parents will be empowered with strategies to take preventative actions with their own children. High School Students are welcome to attend; younger children may attend with their parents or guardians.
Pictured are John Halligan (second from right) with Secaucus Interim Superintendent Kenneth Knops, Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, Assemblyman Jerry Green, and Assemblywomen Mila Jasey and Joan Voss after a presentation in Union County.

Statewide impaired driving crackdowns coming

Officers from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office will be cracking down on drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs as part of the annual end-of-year “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” statewide campaign. Beginning Dec. 11 and continuing through Jan. 1, 2016 there will be extra sheriff’s officers patrolling county roads and highways looking specifically for impaired drivers. “This is a time to celebrate the holidays and enjoy your family and friends. We want to avoid the preventable tragedy of DWI related crashes,” said Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari. The patrols are made possible by a grant from the NJDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” effort endeavors to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired driving through a combination of high-visibility enforcement and public education. “This is a critical law enforcement program that can save lives during a time of the year when impaired driving traditionally increases by nearly 10 percent,” said Schillari. “People that choose to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or using drugs pose a grave danger to all roadway users. This initiative is designed to bring attention to this important issue. My officers will be out there and they will catch the individuals that decide to endanger Hudson County residents.”
Last year, 27 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities in New Jersey were alcohol-related. Nationally, more than 10,000 people die each year in drunk driving crashes. The societal cost associated with these crashes is estimated to be $37 billion annually.
The sheriff offers the following advice if you want to drink:
– Take mass transit, a taxicab, or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
– Spend the night where the activity or party is held.
– If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.
– Always buckle up, every ride. It’s your best defense against an impaired driver.
– If you are intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive or escort you to your doorstep.
– Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel.

December is Children’s Art Month at the Secaucus Public Library

The Secaucus Public Library and Business Resource Center is hosting its annual Children’s Art Show from Dec. 1 to Jan. 13 throughout the children’s department on the library’s first floor. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Secaucus Public Library.
All residents aged 17 or younger are welcome to participate. “All types of art are welcome,” said Cecilia Mucciolo, head of Children’s Services at the library. “We are looking forward to seeing a wide variety of art, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and other mixed media works. Students may submit up to two works per person, and they should have the artist’s name and the title of the work (if any) attached or written on the back. If possible, paintings or drawings done on paper should be matted or framed.”
If the artwork requires table space or measures more than 11 by 17 inches, contact the children’s department staff at (201) 330-2083 x4004 before submitting.
To celebrate the works of the young artists, the Friends of the Library will host a reception and recognition ceremony on Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. in the children’s department. Light refreshments will be served, and the students will be individually recognized for their talents. RSVPs for the reception are encouraged, so that the Friends can better plan to accommodate all attendees.

Take the website usage survey to provide valuable feedback

Last year, the Town of Secaucus launched a new website with the goal of providing information that is both up to date and easy to find. To help in this goal, please take a minute to fill out a brief survey regarding your usage of the website. The survey is anonymous. No identifying personal information is stored. However, cookies are used to ensure that this survey is only filled out once per device.
The survey is available through the town website at

Holiday lights illumination contest taking place now

Does your home resemble the Griswold house from “Christmas Vacation?” If so, this contest is for you. The mayor and Town Council invite all residents to participate in an exterior illumination contest. The three categories are Martha Stewart, Clark Griswold, and Best Block.
Winners will be announced at the Jan. 12 council meeting. Lawn signs will be posted by Impressive Printing. The contest runs from Dec. 12 to 23.

Memoir writing workshop to start at library on Jan. 5

The Secaucus Public Library announced that the first meeting of its new memoir-writing group will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. The group will meet in the Panasonic Meeting Room on the library’s second floor and is open to all adults over the age of 18. The group will continue to meet on the first Tuesday evening of each month.
Donna Carlson, who taught writer’s workshop courses as well as advanced placement English literature and language for over twenty-five years at Secaucus High School, will lead the workshops. Carlson also has experience as an adjunct professor at various state colleges throughout New Jersey. Following her retirement from her position at Secaucus High School, she is looking forward to working with writers of all ages and backgrounds in an informal, non-academic setting.
According to Carlson, “We all have a story, many stories that we carry within us. Some are a source of deep pleasure and delight, others difficult to relive – but all in some way inform our lives and together create our uniqueness. Memoir writing, especially among a community of writers, can serve as a creative outlet for a path to self discovery.”
Library Director Jenifer May expressed her hope that the monthly workshops would appeal to beginners and established writers alike. “The format of the workshops will involve using writing prompts to recall and write about specific memories. This is a great starting place for anyone who is interested in memoir-writing, whether you are writing down your memories to share with your friends and family, writing as a way of working through your own thoughts and emotions, or writing with the goal of sharing your stories with a wider public audience. The focus is really on providing a supportive environment to explore our own stories, as well as to improve our writing technique.”
The memoir-writing workshop is one of two new literary programs Carlson will be leading at the library this January. The second program, a poetry discussion group, will start on Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. More information regarding the poetry discussion group will be announced shortly. Registration for both groups is strongly encouraged and can be done through the library’s website or by calling (201) 330-2083 x4011.

Thanksgiving drunk/impaired driving crackdown nets arrests and citations

As part of a county wide crackdown on drunk and impaired driving during Thanksgiving weekend, Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari reported six arrests and dozens of citations.
“I would like to commend my officers for their outstanding work in making roads in Hudson County safer for everyone during Thanksgiving weekend,” said Schillari. “The Hudson County Sheriff’s Office has a commitment to safety with the residents of Hudson County; my officers and I will continue to work relentlessly to guarantee everyone enjoys a safe Holiday Season.”
The county wide enforcement was carried out by extra roving patrols, which were made possible thanks to the Federal Drunk Driving Enforcement Grant.
During the crackdown, 64 traffic summonses were issued and seven vehicles were impounded for being unregistered.

Nonfiction book group to start at library Jan. 7

The Secaucus Public Library will offer a nonfiction book discussion at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month beginning Jan. 7, 2016. The group will meet in the NBA conference room on the library’s second floor. Discussions are expected to last between 60 to 90 minutes and are geared towards adults over the age of 18. The January meeting will focus on the recent bestseller, “Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.”
“Larson’s book details one of the great disasters of maritime history,” said Dale Evanson, the coordinator of the book club. “It was written to commemorate the sinking of the luxury passenger liner by a German U-boat during World War I. Nearly 1,200 people, including 128 Americans, lost their lives and the event played a key role in changing America’s view against Germany, helping influence America’s eventual declaration of war.”
The group will follow up with an even more popular bestseller. On Feb. 4, they will meet to discuss “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” by Daniel James Brown. This book celebrates the American Olympic triumph of nine working-class boys detailing their challenges and victories during the Depression through pre-war Germany.
Evanson noted, “These great books offer the opportunity for lively discussion. While many book clubs focus on fiction, a well-written work of nonfiction can also present readers with a lot of thought-provoking material. I am hoping that readers come to this discussion group with strong feeling about these books, either positive or negative, and a readiness to delve deeper into the themes and issues they raise.”
Copies of both books are available at the Secaucus Public Library, as well as a limited number of e-book copies. Registration for the discussion group is strongly encouraged and can be done through the library’s website or by calling Library Director Jenifer May at (201) 330-2083 x4011.

Monthly event summary available on town website

The Secaucus town website now offers a complete list of events taking place during the current month throughout the community. Each month, the community calendar will be summarized on the newsfeed to make it easier to see which events are coming up. As always, residents can download the full monthly calendar or view the full interactive calendar. Keep in mind that events are often added, changed, or removed throughout the month so it is important to check the website at frequently for updates.

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