More Bergen Hospitals Waiving Deductibles For Federal Workers

TEANECK, NJ — Holy Name Medical Center is waiving co-pays and deductibles for furloughed federal employees, the hospital announced Tuesday.

The policy applies to emergency care at the medical center and urgent or necessary visits to the center’s specialists and primary care providers. It is in effect until the shutdown ends.

“We don’t want the shutdown to be a barrier to medically necessary primary or specialist care, which is why we decided to go beyond the emergency room to ensure access to all levels of appropriate care,” said Dr. Adam Jarrett, Holy Name’s chief medical officer. “If that helps lift the burden in some small way, we’ve done our jobs as the caregivers of our community.”

The center’s physician network consists of more than 150 multi-specialty providers throughout Bergen and Hudson counties.

Hackensack University Medical Center enacted a similar policy last week. (See related: Bergen Hospitals Waiving Co-Pays, Deductibles For Federal Workers)

The partial federal government shutdown is now in its 31st day, and 800,000 federal employees are going without pay. That includes some 5,000 New Jersey residents.


Image via Shutterstock

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Outer Coastal Plain Wineries Win Big at Wine Competition

It’s only January and South Jersey won big in wine already. The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of its kind for American wines, and this year Sharrott, Bellview, Auburn Road, and 4JGs wineries—all from New Jersey’s Outer Coastal Plain AVA—took home 21 awards. (Out of 1,132 wineries in competition, New Jersey won a total of 36 awards.) For more information on Outer Coastal Plain AVA and its wines, check out the Outer Coast Plain Vineyard Association.

Burns Night at Josie Kelly’s Public House
Friday, January 25, 7 pm

In case you weren’t aware, Scots celebrate something called “Burns Night” on January 25 in honor of famed Scotsman poet Robert Burns. Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point is an Irish coastal-style pub, but they’ll be doing a celebratory “Burns Supper” just the same. Expect food, bagpipes, and (maybe) a recitation of Burns’s “Address to a Haggis,” with or without presentation of said meat product. No advance tickets required. Josie Kelly’s Public House, 908 Shore Road, Somers Point; 609-904-6485

Winterfest 2019 with the Jersey Shore Chef’s Association
Sunday, January 27,  3:30–7 pm

The Jersey Shore Chef’s Association is an established chapter of the American Culinary Federation, and this Sunday it’s holding its annual “Winterfest” fundraiser, gathering the talents of its members for “A Tailgate to Remember.” Tickets are $65, and the day includes an hors d’oeuvres competition, various chef stations, a silent auction, and tailgating games. Proceeds go to benefit non-profits including Oceans of Love, the Victor J. Houston Scholarship Fund, Childhood Hunger Day, and Fulfill (formerly Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties). No need to bring plastic chairs: the (upscale) tailgating takes place at the Crystal Point Yacht Club, 3900 River Road, Point Pleasant; 732-295-7000

Beer & Cured Meat Pairing Class in Jersey City
Tuesday, January 29, 7–8:30 pm

Even if you’re still clinging to your New Year’s resolution, if you love beer and/or cheese you should head over to Jersey Wine & Spirits in Jersey City this Tuesday. As part of their monthly pairing class series, they’re partnering up with fellow JC business Van Hook Cheese & Grocery to teach you everything you need to know about pairing cured meats and tasty beer. Tickets are $40 and include all your sips and bites. Jersey Wine and Spirits, 492 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City; 201-763-5888

Istine Wine Dinner at Stella Marina
Wednesday, February 6, 7–10 pm

Angela Fronti is owner and winemaker at Istine Winery in Chianti, Italy, and this Wednesday evening she’ll return to Stella Marina in Asbury Park for their annual wine pairing dinner, featuring her Chianti Classico selection. Roberto Scarpati of SoilAir Selection wine importer and wholesaler will be on hand to assist in the night’s revelry. Tickets are $75 and details on the menu are “coming soon.” Stella Marina, 800 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-775-7776

Robert Sinskey Vineyards at South + Pine
Thursday, February 7, 7–10 pm

It’s the Napa Valley by way of Morristown on Thursday, February 7, for the first-ever wine pairing dinner at South + Pine, featuring “earth friendly,” biodynamic wines from Robert Sinskey Vineyards. Maria Sinskey (seasoned chef, RSV Culinary Director, and wife of Rob) will be on hand to discuss the wines as they’re served alongside chef Leia Gaccione’s menu for the evening. The night begins with the light fruit and florals of Sinskey’s Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, courses into chef Gaccione’s Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin and Charred Strip Loin—the latter paired with a 2011 Robert Sinskey Marcien, the vineyard’s organic, Napa Valley ode to “Right Bank” Bordeaux. The meal ends with a Local Ricotta Cake paired with a Late Harvest Pinot Blanc. Not a bad start to the weekend, though fair warning it’s $125 plus tax and tip. Still, it should sell out, so (hasty) reservations are recommended by contacting Amanti Vino at 973-509-9463. South + Pine, 90 South Street, Morristown; 862-260-9700

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Q&A: We talked with Tara Dowdell about race and business on MLK Day (and her answers may surprise you)

Tara Dowdell is the founder and president of Tara Dowdell Group, a marketing and strategic communications firm, and TDG Speakers. She also is a sought-after television commentator, frequently appearing on local and national programs to discuss politics, government and business topics.

(For more on her firm, click here.)

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Dowdell has served in a number of public and private positions in her career.

ROI-NJ reached out to her on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to discuss the impact and role race plays in New Jersey and the nation — with an emphasis on the business community.

Here are her thoughts:

ROI-NJ: Describe the state of race relations in New Jersey — and in this country — today?

Tara Dowdell: I think the fact that we’re still asking this question says it all. With respect to the nation, I think it’s clear that we’re still very divided, and we obviously have a lot of work to do. However, there are signs of promise.

We’ve seen a lot of viral videos of public displays of racist or xenophobic behavior or harassment, but the pushback is almost always swift from those who oppose it. We’ve seen companies fire employees for engaging in racist or xenophobic behavior.

These are positive signs, especially when you consider that this has not always been the case. However, we know from the data that there’s been an increase in hate crimes in this country and a resurgence of hate groups, so we still have a lot of work to do.

With respect to New Jersey, we’re a diverse state, but we still have our own racial fault lines. When I was 2, we were the first black family to move on our street in Hillside, and we had a cross burned on our house. It was literally nailed to our house in order to burn it down. The teenagers that did it are still alive. I can recount several other incidents like that, and, again, the perpetrators are still alive.

ROI: You are the owner of a successful marketing agency as well as a well-sought-out thought leader on a variety of subjects. Do you feel the fact that you are African-American helps, hurts or has no impact on your business or your brand?

TD: I believe being black and a woman has created an additional set of challenges for me in business. Don’t get me wrong, I fight as hard as I can to overcome those challenges. The biggest challenge has been financial.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve discovered that my firm was being paid less despite delivering more than a white male counterpart. I know some people will say that maybe we did not ask for as much as he did. Well, we did. We’ve also been the last vendor standing on projects where other vendors have been getting paid more and let go for performance issues.

I think a lot of it has to do with implicit bias, which is why I strongly believe that the programs and efforts aimed at addressing these issues are still very much needed.

ROI: I just referred to you as African-American. Last month, ROI-NJ had you on our People of Color influencers. Some still refer to people as being black. How do you categorize your race/ethnicity — and is it still important to do so?

TD: I want to stipulate that I do not speak for all black people. This question is somewhat complicated, because the black community is not monolithic. I personally refer to myself as black because it is part of my identity and my experiences, which have shaped me.

ROI: Tell me one thing people from minority and ethnic groups wish people who are not part of such a group would understand.

TD: Certainly, there are several things, but if I am to name one issue that I think is less explored, it is the notion that people of color, and in particular black people, call out racism as means of gaining some kind of advantage or benefit. This could not be farther from the truth.

I wish I did not have to call out racism. I wish there was no racism for me to call out. It’s not easy and it’s definitely not advantageous or beneficial to call out bias. It’s exhausting and painful and often makes those raising the issue targets or deemed a ‘troublemaker’ or ‘whiner,’ which is harmful in business.

I would also add that, in my experience, by the time most black people or people of color speak out on racism, they’ve actually already endured a lot of discrimination that they did not speak out on.

ROI: How do you think the actions and the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. impact society and the business world today, more than 50 years since his death?

TD: I think we’ve made a lot of progress, but we clearly have a long way to go. Despite the data showing that diverse companies perform better, we still see people of color woefully underrepresented in corporate leadership and on boards. Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs, but still struggle to raise capital. And, based on the data, it has nothing to do with results or viability of the business.

ROI: How comfortable were you answering these questions?

TD: Candidly, it was not very comfortable for me — it never is — but, hopefully, I’ve offered a perspective that can help to build greater understanding with fair-minded people.

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N.J.’s industrial market has another record year, Cushman & Wakefield report says

The New Jersey industrial market has hit another year of record numbers, according to Cushman & Wakefield‘s most recent fourth quarter 2018 research report.

The commercial real estate services firm said its report revealed vacancy hit a record low and net absorption hit an all-time high by the end of the year.

“The three-year stretch from 2016 to 2018 has been the strongest run for New Jersey industrial market occupancy gains and one of the most robust stretches for leasing in recent history. We also are coming off the best back-to-back years for new construction completions this century,” Andrew Judd, Cushman & Wakefield’s New Jersey market leader, said. “Much of this can be credited to the rise of eCommerce, strong import totals at the port, a healthy economy, and robust retail sales.”

Although there’s not too much space in the industrial market, Cushman & Wakefield said, vacancy did tick lower by 20 basis points to 3.2 percent. And warehouse space, which accounts for about 76 percent of the state’s industrial inventory, ended 2018 at 3.1 percent.

“Central New Jersey warehouse vacancy fell to 2.2 percent, fueled by diminishing Class A and B space from Exit 12 down through Exit 7A,” Judd said. “Northern New Jersey’s rate has declined to 4.2 percent, with the Port and Meadowlands submarkets tightening notably.”

By the end of the year, there was 14.9 million square feet of occupancy gains, Cushman & Wakefield said. For five years in a row, the state has exceeded 10 million square feet in annual absorption for a total of more than 67 million square feet. The fourth quarter of 2018 also marked the 24th consecutive quarter with positive net absorption.

Although leasing activity hit 25.7 million square feet for the year, last three quarters of the year were slow, Cushman & Wakefield said, due to fewer existing space options across the marketplace, especially for big-box retailers.

The fourth quarter had 5.3 million square feet of new activity, with 17 new leases greater than 100,000 square feet and five new leases more than 200,000 square feet.  Passaic County led the way in the quarter, with 1.2 million square feet of new deals. This included Gucci’s 418,000-square-foot commitment in Wayne and Corbion’s 391,515-square-foot deal in Totowa.

Asking rents in the industrial space slipped to $8.49 per-square-foot in the quarter. This is the first reversal since early 2017, Cushman & Wakefield said.

“This decline was not due to landlords dropping pricing,” Jason Price, director, Tri-State Suburbs Research, Cushman & Wakefield, said. “It ties to the lease-up of higher-quality warehouse space throughout the market and the fact that many Class A options are listed without asking prices. The trend was similar for warehouse space, which has dipped to $8.16 per-square-foot, though it is important to understand that that sector still finished 2018 4.9 percent higher year over year.”

Cushman & Wakefield said industrial construction completions in the quarter totaled 9.4 million square feet, which is only slightly lower than the 9.8 million-square-foot high in 2017. Of the total built, 87.2 percent was leased during development or immediately once completed. Meanwhile, industrial development hit 6 million square feet with 42.5 percent already leased, mostly concentrated in the Port Region, Upper 287 Corridor and Exit 8A.

“There is still some room left in the expansion cycle, however we expect comparatively moderate improvements in 2019 compared to the last few years,” Price said. “The lack of existing available space options in core submarkets will return leasing to more normalized levels yet continue to push up rental rates. On the construction front, approved land sites will dissipate further, making redevelopment plays more common for developers in primary submarkets.”

To see the full report, click here.

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By Emily Bader

RWJBarnabas waives copays and more for federal workers affected by shutdown

RWJBarnabas Health is waiving copays, deductibles and other balances for furloughed federal employees and their dependents, the system announced Monday.

RWJBarnabas, based in West Orange, said the action is effective immediately at all of its hospitals, ambulatory facilities and owned physician practices.

Jack Morris, the board chairman, and Barry Ostrowsky, CEO and president, made the announcement.

“We recognize the financial hardship being experienced by these families, because they are our neighbors and friends — they live in the communities we serve each day,” Morris said in a prepared statement.

The health system added that payments owed for past visits will be deferred until reinstatement of back wages. Proof of federal employment is required, the system noted.

“We are an organization that is committed to not just delivering health care, but improving the health of those we serve,” Ostrowsky said in a statement. “Affordability is a key factor in whether families can access care, and we believe that our action today can help alleviate some of the pressures these furloughed federal workers are currently facing.”

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Read more from ROI-NJ

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Get Help Quitting Smoking With Free County-Sponsored Counseling

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ —The county offers free counseling for people who want to quit smoking.

The Bergen County Department of Health Services offers free individualized counseling at the County Administration Building at 1 Bergen County plaza.

For more information call Melissa Fraas at 201-634-2608 or email her at

Hackensack Meridian Health offers both individual and group counseling at the Hackensack UMC Fitness & Wellness Center at 87 Route 17 North in Maywood. For more information call 551-996-2038.

Image via Shutterstock

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Is New Jersey’s Property Tax Rate Still The Highest In Nation?

Yes, you probably know the answer to this one.

Yes, the property tax rate in New Jersey is still the highest compared to the rest of the country. That’s according to a new report this past week from the financial news and opinion site 24/7 Wall St.

The site reviewed the effective rate — meaning the total amount of property taxes paid each year as a percentage of the total value of all occupied homes — for every state. The data is from the right-leaning Tax Foundation.

New jersey’s effective property tax rate was ahead of Illinois to finish first. On average, state and local governments across the country bring in about $1,500 a year in property taxes per person. Here are the numbers for New Jersey:

  • Effective property tax rate: 2.16 percent
  • Median home value: $334,900 (6th highest)
  • Per capita property taxes: $3,074.43 (the highest)
  • Median household income: $80,088 (2nd highest)

If those numbers seem like too much, you might consider moving to Hawaii, where the effective property tax rate was just .29 percent. If that sounds like a dream, consider this — the median Hawaiian home is worth more than $617,000 and the typical household earns about $77,000 a year, so don’t forget to bring a checkbook and perhaps buy a lottery ticket upon arrival. Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Wyoming rounded out the five states with the lowest property tax rates.

On the flip side, residents in the Northeast appear to pay the highest rates, with New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont all appearing in the top five. Here are the 10 states with the highest effective property tax rates:

  1. New Jersey
  2. Illinois
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Vermont
  6. Texas
  7. Nebraska
  8. Connecticut
  9. Ohio
  10. Rhode Island

Property taxes are the single largest money-maker for local governments and they’re spent almost entirely on a local level. Generally they are used to fund fire, police, schools, roads, cleaning and repairs.

“As a result, the United States is a patchwork of property tax codes, and depending on where you live, property taxes can be either a trivial expense or a major financial burden,” the report said.

Patch national staffer Dan Hampton contributed to this report.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Some Without Power In Glen Rock Following Snow And Rain Overnight

GLEN ROCK, NJ — Some borough residents are without power Sunday morning as rain continues to blanket Bergen County ahead of a sub-zero wind chill forecast for Sunday night.

Thirteen Glen Rock PSE&G customers were without power Sunday night, the most in Bergen County. Orange & Rockland reported only two customers were without power. PSE&G estimated power would be restored in Glen Rock by 6:15 p.m. tonight.

Rain, snow, and sleet fell on North Jersey Saturday night into Sunday while steady rain fell Sunday morning.

Falling temperatures and wind gusts of up to 32 mph are forecast for the area Sunday.

Here is a look at the forecast for Bergen County from the National Weather Service:

  • Sunday: Rain, mainly before noon. Temperature falling to around 25 by 5 p.m.. Wind chill values between 10 and 20. Breezy, with a northeast wind eight to 13 mph becoming northwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
  • Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 6. Wind chill values between 10 below zero and zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 16 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph.
  • Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 14. Wind chill values between 5 and 10 degrees below zero. Blustery, with a northwest wind 17 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph.


Image via Shutterstock

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ProSieben sees pressure easing as Netflix raises prices

MUNICH (Reuters) – ProSiebenSat.1 Media believes that price increases by U.S. streaming giant Netflix could ease competitive pressures on the German group’s core TV business and is bullish on growth at its e-commerce arm, CEO Max Conze said.

FILE PHOTO – The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD

Conze took the helm at the Munich-based broadcaster last June but has had a rough welcome from investors who have sent its shares to seven-year lows on doubts that he can revive its ailing free-to-air TV business.

The former CEO of UK appliances company Dyson told Reuters that plans to relaunch a German streaming venture in cooperation with Discovery Inc, public broadcaster ZDF, publisher Axel Springer and possibly others were on track for late summer.

“We think there is very meaningful space next to Amazon and Netflix to create a German Hulu that aggregates all the German content that people love,” he said, referring to the Disney-backed U.S. platform.

Asked about the recent price increase by Netflix, as well as the cash burn reported in its latest results, Conze expressed hope that the U.S. streaming giants would move towards a model that seeks to target profit as well as growth. [nL3N1ZH4VU]

“Part of the challenge has, of course, been that the streaming direct-to-consumer models – both Netflix and Amazon – are fundamentally subsidized. They are not really money-making models,” said Conze.

“They are great for you and me as consumers, but hard to compete against. If these companies get a little bit more focused in the future on how to turn this into a profitable business model, that actually creates an environment that makes it somewhat easier for us to compete.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the DLD Munich technology conference on Sunday, Conze also forecast that ProSieben’s e-commerce arm NuCom would this year achieve revenue growth, including acquisitions, in excess of 20 percent.

“That business is developing, growing rapidly and very synergistic with entertainment,” he said.

NuCom’s match-making property Parship Elite bought U.S. dating site eharmony late last year and recently secured direct control over home services company Aroundhome. [nL8N1X91SY][nL8N1ZE23R]

The e-commerce unit, which owns 10 properties, has “another couple of things that are cooking”, said Conze, declining to elaborate.

Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by David Goodman

The Unique Flavors Of North Jersey Popcorn Business

PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — Taylor ham and cheese, tropical fruits, hot dogs, and guava. Those are some the more than 100 flavors offered by the International Popcorn Co. in Totowa.

The Taylor ham and cheese flavor is perhaps the company’s signature flavor. It has pieces of dried Taylor ham added right in to create a salty, cheesy flavor that’s uniquely New Jersey.

Saturday is International Popcorn Day and the business is giving away a free bag of popcorn to anyone who visits will get a free bag of popcorn, no purchase necessary.

It’s International Popcorn Co’s way of popcorn way of saying thank you to the community for their support of their support over the past four years, the family-owned company said in a news release.

Other flavors include Mediterranean with garlic and oregano, peanut butter delight, chocolate, and dill pickle, among others.

The company also sells its products online and in ShopRite, Christmas Tree Shops, and other local retailers.


Photos of popcorn made by the International Popcorn Co. in Totowa (Courtesy of International Popcorn Co. in Totowa)

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