Union County Week in Review

From the St. Patrick's Day parade to budget approvals and state-championship clashes, it was a busy week around the county.

The weekend was dominated by Saturday's Union County St. Patrick's Day Parade, where thousands of revelers gathered for the "wearin' of the green". Elsewhere around the county, news included the approval of the Clark municipal budget, the Summit High hockey team claiming the school's first state championship. Read more newsworthy reports below:


 We've combined the New Providence and Berkeley Heights Patches to created an even more robust online experience for readers and advertisers across the entire community. The New Providence-Berkeley Heights Patch reflects our tracking of local news, business and feedback from the three bordering towns in our coverage area. Yes, that means you too Mountainside! It also reflects our continuing commitment to make Patch the best online home for the local information and community conversation that matters most to you. We're constantly looking for ways to do more, do better and do right by New Providence, Berkeley Heights and Mountainside. Keep telling us what you'd like to see here. We may not be able to do it all at once, but we'll keep at it. And we'll keep listening so that we can make the New Providence-Berkeley Heights everything you want and need it to be.

Top-seeded Whippany Park (24-5) rode a 22-5 second half run en route to a  . Despite being the eleventh seed in the bracket,  and  Trailing 24-22 at the half, the Wildcats came out of the locker room with a renewed aggression on the offensive end. The home team outscored their opponent 17-5 in the third quarter and took a 34-29 lead into the final period, the biggest margin for either team at that point in the game. Like any great champion, the Pioneers refused to give up their title without a fight and were able to pull within five at 46-41 on a Sara Lowenstein (five points, six rebounds, five assists) three pointer with 0:52.5 to play. Unfortunately there would be no more last minute magic as the Wildcats were able to settle down and hold on for the 49-44 victory. led the way for New Providence with 19 points, including 12 from downtown.

Governor Livingston High School students Jennifer Leonard and Monica Callaghan, recently teamed with Poor Herbie’s Restaurant located in Madison and Beacon Hill Tavern in Summit, and their patrons to . In a four-week campaign, the two sophomores made posters and solicited donations of cash and goods for the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, located in East Hanover, and a women’s shelter in Morristown. The teens plan to hold another food drive during the summer with the goal of collecting one thousand pounds of food.


 The budget includes a two-point tax increase, which translates to an increase of $20 per $100,000 in assessed home value for Clark residents. The budget remains well within Governor Christie's two-percent cap. The total amount to be raised by taxes (including the minimum library tax) for 2012 is $14,917,413.96 – an increase of $149,270.43 over last year. 

 Woodbridge police reported that after repeated warnings, the officer fired at the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Bill Black and Gabrielle DiChiaro, both of Clark, were outside the mall after it closed. Black said he was there despite hearing news reports of the shooting. "It's funny, I was supposed to have come here earlier today, and I was going to Sears, too," he said. Asked whether the incident would deter him from returning to the mall, he said, "Absolutely not!" 

The consensus was that Township Attorney Joseph Triarsi would check current laws and zoning regulations and then draft an ordinance prohibiting chickens and other livestock. The council did not decide whether residents who currently have chickens would be exempt from the ordinance. Lots of readers weighed in on our poll asking whether Clark should allow chickens, with 117 voting yes and 59 voting against it. 



On their 10th day back at their , students at the Brookside elementary school enjoyed a morning treat, courtesy of the  on North Avenue. As children filed into the auditorium, they were each given a doughnut frosted in the school colors. The special event was organized by the Brookside Place School PTA, after the members were contacted by Michael Komondy, owner of the Dunkin Donuts franchise in Cranford.

Data collected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the months following Hurricane Irene has shown that the cost of the damage to homes, schools, and municipal property has exceeded $50 million. The economic loss, including the decrease in some property values has led members of a regional flood control panel to seek financial assistance from federal, state and county governments to help prevent future losses due to storm damage. Last week Rep. Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Cranford Mayor David Robinson and several state and county officials held a press conference at town hall to announce a $3.1 million federal grant for flood mitigation in Cranford.The funds will be used to help offset the cost of elevating 18 township homes that have experienced extreme flooding and related damages.



This week, SPF Patch reported on a local EMT, who took his rescue training from the streets and homes of Fanwood, to 30,000 feet in the air. On February 26, was traveling to Santa Ana, California when a fellow airline passenger became unresponsive as the plane flew over Missouri. Lewis sprung into action and performed CPR until the plane could safely land, saving the woman's life. In May, Lewis was named Outstanding New Jersey EMT of the year. Lewis was also among the brave volunteers who rushed to aid rescue workers just after the World Trade Center South Tower was hit on 9/11. After reading the story, Patch readers expressed their support for Lewis, declaring him a local hero that Fanwood can be proud of.


 On Tuesday, SPF Patch presented a photo gallery of Fanwood Crossing's new beige and white Victorian design, asking readers to comment and vote on downtown Fanwood's new look. The article transformed into an online forum where readers candidly discussed the issue. Over 230 voted and 45 percent of voters think the new look is "hideous." What do you think? .

69-year-old Anthony on Monday while traveling on a 125 mile walkathon from the Curtis Armory in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Grand Central Station. LoBue is a disabled Vietnam Veteran who embarked on this walkathon to deliver a historic 9/11 monumental flag and raise awareness for the plight of Veterans, their families, and their organizations. On September 11, 2011, LoBue arrived at Ground Zero, completing a yearlong, 3,650 mile walk from San Diego, California commemorating the 10th anniversary of the attacks and raising awareness for his cause.  to learn more about LoBue's monumental fight for all who have served their country. 


A 37-year-old man was  by helicopter yesterday afternoon after a GMC Envoy SUV struck his Honda Accord struck in a head-o collision on I-78 on Tuesday, March 5. Authorities say a 27-year-old woman lost control of her SUV while driving on near exit 48 at around 2:50 p.m. The vehicle went up a highway embankment and over the guardrail into the westbound lane, striking the Honda head-on.

Students performing in the Jonathan Dayton high School spring musical The Drowsy Chaperone were , who plays Gangster #2 in the professional version of the play. The cast peppered the stage actor with questions about the play and plying his craft on Broadway. Dayton’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone will be performed Thursday, March 22 through Saturday, March 24, with each evening’s performance beginning at 7:30 p.m.

In a rematch of last year's dramatic North 2 Group 1 championship, Jonathan Dayton High School and University played a . But, to the dissapointment of the Bulldogs and their fans, when the final whistle sounded after four quarters and an extra period, the Phoenix were the last team standing. University was able to control the overtime period to pull ahead of  71-64 in a back and forth battle for the right to play in the Tournament of Champions and be crowned sectional champion. Last season, the Bulldogs earned a 51-50 victory over the then back-to-back sectional champion University squad. 


Fourth-seeded Summit High School's boys' hockey team beat Tenafly 2-1 to claim their first state championship. The championship game was set up when the Hilltopers  The scoring burst was all the offense that the Hilltoppers needed to secure their place in Friday's championship.

"I've never seen that happen before," said senior defenseman Mike Nyitray about the scoring outburst. "It was a great feeling."

The Hilltoppers first goal came on a 5-on-3 opportunity as Nyitray swung the puck to the right point onto the stick of Mike Santina who blasted the puck into the back of the net to knot the game at one with 9:08 to play in the second.

Summit, still carrying a man advantage for about a minute, drew a third straight whistle with just seconds remaining on their initial power play. Before time expired on the penalty, Eric Stabler found Nyitray just in front of the left post who shelved a shot past the goaltender. Had the goal come seconds later, both teams would have once again been at full strength. 

Coucilman Tom Getzendanner was the lone dissenting voice on the resolution.

The council will present a public hearing on the budget on April 3.

Taxes on the average city home, around $410,000 which City Administrator Chris Cotter said was assessed at about half the actual value of around $900,000, would increase by about $23 to $3,693.

Just over half-a-dozen contestants showed up to lay the smack down on an order each of around two-dozen wings. A pair of winners were named at the end of the day. Red sauce-stained napkins and lips smacked with fire were the hallmarks of the event which lasted about 45 minutes.


Rocky the Tailor reopened on Monday, March 5 on Cumberland Street. The shop, owned by Lucy and Rocco Macalle, was one of six businesses destroyed by the six-alarm fire that began at Clyne & Murphy on Jan. 22. 

The Westfield Board of Education held the first in a series of month-long meetings to discuss the school budget and other issues facing the district's schools. The Board is considering a $13 million roof replacement project.
Broadway guitarist and former Westfield resident Jake Schwartz returned to town Thursday evening to join other bands at The Crossroads in Garwood to benefit Sound Station owners. So far friends and fans have raised nearly $16,000 to help Bob Larsen and Liz Walsh rebuild their South Avenue West music shop that was destroyed in the fire that also claimed Rocky the Tailor.

The Westfield High School theater department brought the musical 'Pippin' to life. 
The Westfield Police Department announced it will increase DWI checkpoints this St. Patrick's Day. Possible locations include East Broad Street, Central, North, South, and Springfield Avenues.


Alan Lowenstein March 15, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Repost - from another forum: Dear NP native, Basketball Fan, Basketball Lover and every other anonymous poster on this forum. I guess I can be open and honest now that I don't have to worry about repercussions from my statements. As a parent of a 4 year varsity player, 2 year starter (and yes a 2 year bench sitter), I couldn't be more proud of the girls team and Coach Pazdera. It's very easy to sit up in the stands and criticize anonymously, and by the way, not too hard to figure out who you are. What I am disgusted about is how a few unhappy voices put a huge damper on this season. In the 4 years my daughter was on the team, she could not wait for the next practice/game regardless of her role, this year was different, not because of the record or how they were playing, it was the crap that she had to read about here. This is a High School in a small town. If you don't like the way things turned out this year, there is always the option to attend one of the many private schools in the area. I promise, we won't be insulted. Just wondering, which girl had the height, smile, hair or connections? I fully stand by and will continue to support Coach Pazdera. NP Natives since '91 and '63. Sincerely, Al and Tracey Lowenstein
mary March 15, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Come on Mr/Mrs Anonymous.... let's keep New Providence unique - if you lived in any neighboring town or your daughter attended private school we wouldn't be having this on line discussion b/c your daughter woud not have made the team - let's remember our children have the opportunity to make life long relationships through the camaraderie they develop through sports - if there is a specific issue, discuss w/ the coach off line - let's keep New Providence unique and special for what we afford our children. Be proud to live in NP - let's not attack/slander each other- that will not get results and even worse than that, you are setting a damaging example for your daughter or my daughter sitting on a bench -when they should just be proud to be apart of a team- they are all teenagers and can read what is posted in the Patch or local news. Negative attacks on others whether verbal or physical is not the lesson we want to teach our children - let's teach them to be good citizens, be of good character and proud to say that they were raised in a small town called New Providence - Your attacks on Mr. Pazdera in this forum should be rescinded- We don't want any young adult reading these posts - we need to be a strong community for our children. Mary
Matt March 15, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I am not an x’s or o’s guy when it comes to game-planning a girl’s high school varsity basketball game. However, having watched the girl’s bb team the last few years, I can say no uncertain terms, that this may well have been the coach’s finest job with the obstacles that the team faced and had to overcome: Losing two “studs” in Laura Gregory & Kaitlyn Cresencia, incorporating a true center/player from outside the program into the scheme and chemistry of the team, the abundance of players demanding playing time, the seemingly turbulent off the court issues and countless “interventions” -to name a few. How the team got as far as it did is a testament not only to on-the-court coaching and the ability to make on-going in-season adjustments, but to the coach’s communication and motivational skills. Let’s not forget that this is a team which was an 11th seed, won road playoff games only to come within a half of beating the top-seeded team and “three-peating” as sectional champs. It would also be remiss not to mention the contributions of the group of the parents and coaches who for years have been involved in the AAU program and other off-season activities in an effort to help prepare the girls for the season. The success of the girl’s bb program going forward does not depend on the x’s or o’s and game-planning, but rather on the joint efforts and unity of purpose between coaches, parents and players alike. Matthew Zepnick
NP March 17, 2012 at 02:00 AM
We all need to take a deep breath and relax. 1-  New Providence-our town- is a beautiful town. One of the things that makes this so is that everyone has the right to speak their mind. And our quality of life will not change because of complaints against a coach. The current situation with our mayor should be proof that no one person's actions will effect the reputation of the entire town. 2- We all have concerns about what our kids read. But our kids are not babies. They are young adults who should be part of the conversation regarding those people we entrust to set a good example for them at school. 3-This is not a personal vendetta, and should not devolve into childish behavior. I think we have a problem, and our coaches (the athletic director or principal) should step in and find out what's happening. 4- A winning record is not always the best reflection that the right thing is being done. 5- Small town politics are difficult! Everyone knows everyone. People are afraid of repercussions if they speak up. But it is still important that they do! 6- Lastly, it takes two to tango. It's possible there could be miscommunication on both sides. But the coach needs to be very clear with his players when telling them their role on the team, and perhaps also communicate with their parents. In the end- Who are we protecting here?    Where there is smoke, there is fire.
Alan Lowenstein March 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Dear NP et al, After not heeding the advice of a friend of mine to just "stop the madness" and not respond, I feel compelled to post one last response. I understand there is a concern, I personally believe it is only a few, maybe I'm wrong. I would suggest the people that are concerned take Coach Pazdera's offer and reach out to him personally, via email or telephone. I believe there are always at least two sides to every story, and a public forum is not the place for that. If you have that conversation, you can either agree or agree to disagree and make a plan forward. This is the lesson our kids need to learn. In today's internet world it is too easy to take people to task in public, pick up the phone make a call, I know, very old school, however very appropriate. If you have been to most games this year, you have seen other coaches, call out players in the middle of the game, scream at them chastise them publicly. All I could think is I'm glad that isn't my kid, in watching the program at least over the past 6 years, I have never seen any of our players subject to that, even if there may be cause. As to communication, I agree, it is a two way street, if a player does not understand their role, ask for some time with the coach, see what needs to be done. Sometimes we need to ask, where is the smoke coming from. Let me know if you want to chat, we can each share our perspectives over a cup of coffee.-Al


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