Local News

Wyckoff Native Chris Hogan Signed With Carolina Panthers

WYCKOFF, NJ — Chris Hogan, a Wyckoff native, has signed with the Carolina Panthers.

Hogan was signed to a one-year deal, NFL.com reported. It was the first time the 31-year-old was an unrestricted NFL free agent. Hogan is a two-time Super Bowl winner with the New England Patriots.

Hogan’s story is one of perseverance.

“I’ve always been a guy with a chip on his shoulder,” Hogan told Panthers.com. “I was undrafted and played only a year of (college) football, so I’ve carried that with me throughout my career. My time in New England was great, but this is a new opportunity to prove myself again as a player. I’m really excited about that.”

See related: Wyckoff’s Chris Hogan Wins 2nd Super Bowl With Patriots

Hogan is a Ramapo High School alumnus who played three years of lacrosse at Penn State University. He graduated in 2010 and immediately enrolled at Mommouth University, playing one year of football there.

He was cut four times by NFL teams before the Buffalo Bills picked him up in 2012.

Getting cut four separate times really never stopped me,” Hogan told Newsday.com.

Hogan was signed by the Patriots as a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills in March 2016 and has contributed on the field ever since.

Hogan will join another North Jersey football standout in quarterback Cam Newton’s huddle. Tight end Greg Olsen played for Wayne Hills High School, a longtime rival of Ramapo’s.

“He was a stud player in high school,” Olsen told Panthers.com. “Remember him playing against my dad’s teams. Every year it seemed one of our two schools were state champ.”

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Dunes Boardwalk Cafe Destroyed By Fire

Firefighters were still battling a fire at Dunes Boardwalk Café in Ocean Grove well into the evening. Photo by Shelby Vittek

On Saturday, April 13 at around 11:30 am, a five-alarm fire broke out beneath the North End Pavilion in Ocean Grove. The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is unknown.

Firefighters from all over Monmouth and Ocean counties continued to battle the fire well into Sunday. Asbury Park firefighters sought measures to protect the Asbury Park Casino next door.

The building housed Dunes Boardwalk Cafe, a beachside food court that hadn’t yet opened for the season. It featured a variety of seasonal eateries: Playa Bowls, Summertime’s Salads & Subs, Burgers on the Boards, Day’s Ice Cream, the Crooked Snook, Bubbakoo’s Burritos, Eat Poke Bro, Luigi’s Pizza and America’s Cup Coffee & Tea Company. The food court was popular among families and beach goers during the summer season.

Only blackened timber bones remained after the fire, and several nearby shops were damaged as well. Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said the building is a total loss.

Smoky haze outside the Asbury Park Convention Center. Photo by Shelby Vittek

A heavy fog blanketed Asbury Park for most of Saturday, and smoke from the blaze was reportedly carried several miles north to other towns. The fire happened just a block away from a 2017 fire that damaged the La Pierre Condominiums and destroyed the former Warrington Hotel in Ocean Grove.

The landmark North End Pavilion, owned by the Gannon family, was badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and it took the owners nearly three years to rebuild it.

“Dunes Boardwalk Cafe is a community that has grown over the past 4 years. It was a place for our beach community, that was built for families,” said Michele Gannon in a statement on Facebook. “We are devastated at the complete loss of the livelihood for hundreds of people. We are thankful for all those who worked for hours to keep our community safe.”

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Paper chase: Credit union leaders can’t understand why N.J. hasn’t gone high-tech with car lien docs

Cumbersome doesn’t begin to describe it.

John Dawidowski of Princeton-based Healthcare Employees Federal Credit Union said he’s seen veritable wheelbarrows full of paperwork being carried off by credit union staff en route to register a car loan lien with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

John Dawidowski

“Then you have all this paperwork on hand — and there’s a cost of maintaining and tracking these titles, too,” Dawidowski said “We have to put them in a fireproof safe. The whole thing is very, very archaic. … It’s crazy.”

When a lien is created by an auto loan, a process that secures the lender’s rights as lienholder to that vehicle until a loan is repaid, it involves stacks of physical documents … or, at least, it does in New Jersey. That’s not true everywhere. 

Almost half of states now spare more than a few trees using what’s called an electronic lien and title system. Credit union leaders like Dawidowski, fed up with the old way of doing things, have been calling for that to be adopted in the Garden State, too.

“I don’t see what the big issue is,” he said. “Next door, in Pennsylvania, they’ve been doing it for 10 years. We could run off the same platform and things would be a lot easier. It’s not rocket science.”

It’s a head-scratcher for Dawidowski, who regularly hears how the transfer of data between lienholders and state departments takes minutes in states that have introduced digital updates to this process.

In New Jersey, credit union leaders say it takes a day and a half of a staff person waiting in all-too-familiar DMV lines and acting as a courier for the title documents.

During former Gov. Chris Christie’s final days in office, the state did sign into law a piece of legislation that would establish an electronic lien and titling system in the Garden State that would modernize the current paperwork-based system.

Alexandra Pais
David Frankil, the CEO and president of the New Jersey Credit Union League, believes an electronic lien and title system is a “no-brainer” for the state.

It mandated that the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission complete a study to determine whether the department itself could create an electronic system. Many other states use a third-party software service vendor that manages these title record transfers.

More than a year later, credit unions are still waiting for the promised update.

“The commission has really been dragging their feet … and this is after it took seven or eight years to get to the point where the governor signed this,” he said. “This is something I’ve pushed for as far back as 2011. I went to (the New Jersey Credit Union League) and asked why the state is so far behind on this, because it’s very awkward to deal with.”

David Frankil, the CEO and president of the New Jersey Credit Union League, is among those hoping for progress. 

Besides the extra resources required in dealing with mountainous paperwork, Frankil said having an electronic system could make it more difficult to alter or create fake documents.

“So, not only is it an efficiency issue, there’s fairly strong fraud component, as well,” he said.

Frankil cited a case from back in 2017 in which a handful of individuals allegedly forged letters from lenders stating that loans were repaid and used those letters to get car titles from the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission. Then the group allegedly flipped at least 25 vehicles over four years for more than half a million dollars.

The closed loop created in an electronic system would eliminate the potential for this type of fraud, according to Frankil.

For all the other issues that less paperwork could avert, such as lost documents, Frankil believes this is a no-brainer.

“This isn’t self-interested, it’d help anyone financing automobile titles in New Jersey,” he said. “For every possible reason you can think of, it’d be better for us to have an electronic system. It’s better for credit unions, for banks and it’s better for the state to not continue dealing with paper in this way.”

Conversation Starter

Reach the Healthcare Employees Federal Credit Union at: hefcu.com or 800-624-3312.

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Numbers game: Fixing Meadowlands transportation issues is more important than fixing blame

While others were playing the blame game following the latest transportation problem/debacle at MetLife Stadium, Jim Kirkos was doing the math problem.

And he got the same answer he got before WrestleMania came to the Meadowlands last week. In fact, he got the same answer he got before Super Bowl XLVIII came there in 2014.

New Jersey Transit, as the system is currently designed, can move approximately 10,000-12,000 people an hour, he said. That’s the issue.

So, if you have a situation where 30,000 people want to use it at approximately the same time — like the end of a major event at the stadium — it’s going to take three hours to handle the volume.

More importantly, if the region keeps getting that answer, the area is not going to be able to capitalize on the economic benefits such major events bring.

That’s why Kirkos, the longtime CEO of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce, is trying to make a solution the topic of conversation — rather than trying to blame the post-event problem on officials from NJ Transit, MetLife Stadium, WWE or either of our most recent governors.

“I always want to look through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror,” he said. “I think it’s important for us all to understand just how important big events at the sports complex at the stadium are for economic impact — and that we need to make ensuring the transportation infrastructure in all modes will allow us to leverage our ability to bring these big events here a top priority.

File photo
Jim Kirkos of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re building these great destination-related assets and we have to get it right. It’s beholden on all entities to make sure that we can give visitors a great experience.”

That wasn’t the case last Monday, when fans leaving the WrestleMania event (in the pouring rain) discovered just how many people could (and couldn’t) get through the station in a timely manner.

“No train, we riot,” it was reported many chanted.

You can be sure that won’t be part of the marketing campaign to try to lure WrestleMania, the Super Bowl and — let’s not forget — the final of the 2026 World Cup to New Jersey.

Here’s what will, Kirkos said: a comprehensive plan.

“If somebody wants to come back or bring a new event here and that issue is raised, everybody’s going to need to sit down and provide some assurances this type of thing won’t happen again,” he said. “We need to not only have a Plan A and Plan B and maybe even have a Plan C.

“But we need to have long-term plans to complete the mobility issue because, at the end of the day, it’s really about that.”

The problem isn’t new. 

“The fact that we built the train line to the train station and we dropped the idea of continuing the loop is unacceptable,” Kirkos said.

And it’s an issue that’s talked about repeatedly.

“Transportation and infrastructure investment have been one of our top priorities, always has been,” he said. “Especially for the last 15 or 20 years.

“There is never a comment about economic development that isn’t led or followed by it. We need to focus on our ability to move people and create good mobility experiences. I think that’s the message here for everybody.”

So, ignore the blame game, Kirkos said. 

Solve the math problem instead.

“We, as a region and as a state, have yet to complete the transportation infrastructure that’s necessary to leverage all that we can from an economic development and a tourism destination standpoint,” he said. “All of our priority must go to that, now and in the future.”

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Nonprofit Profile: Schools That Can, creating real-world educational opportunities

In brief

Where: Newark; national nonprofit in New York City.
Serving: STC Newark serves 35 schools, part of the nearly 200 district, charter and independent schools from cities nationwide participating in the STC network.
Key member: Erin Sweeney, executive director.


Schools That Can was started over 15 years ago by volunteers and school leaders who wanted opportunities to share K-12 educational best practices across the district, charter and independent school divide. STC Newark was one of the first regional offices and began with three schools.


Expand high-quality, real-world, hands-on learning that prepares students for post-secondary success, makes lessons relevant and makes school fun. Schools complained that education was becoming more about testing and less about allowing students to engage with material.


  • Career Skills: Work with high schools to prepare students for post-secondary career success;
  • Building Real-World Learning: Work with grades K-8 to develop maker space and hands-on opportunities to introduce students to new careers and skills;
  • Professional Learning Groups: Work with teams of educators throughout each city to solve common challenges by implementing school-specific solutions.


STC Newark is a leader in assisting K-12 district, charter and independent schools with expanding real-world learning opportunities for their students. We directly and indirectly serve thousands of Newark students by working with their school leaders and teachers in a variety of programs to build out a culture of real-world learning. 

STC convened a group of school leaders and community members from across the country to create the Real-World Learning Rubric, a tool that helps schools assess their progress in six dimensions of real world learning, ranging from how creatively they use resources to how well schools build and sustain partnerships with area employers to how inclusive their curriculum is of real world examples and hands-on projects.


STC Newark has gone through a period of growth rooted first in more sustainable and diversified fundraising. This included securing new foundation and corporate grants, developing new fundraising events, increasing our individual giving, securing our first government grant and receiving revenue for some of our more specialized programs.


STC has been especially grateful to the Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School — its Prudential Nonprofit Executive Leaders and Victoria Emerging Leaders Fellowships have helped create communities of supportive nonprofiteers, especially from the Newark area. Other resources include the Dodge Foundation’s Board Leadership Program, New Jersey Council on Grantmakers’ events, resources from the New Jersey Center for Nonprofits, training opportunities with the Support Center and legal advice through the ProBono Partnership.


One of the biggest challenges to nonprofits in New Jersey (and specifically in Newark) is saturation. There is often duplication among nonprofit organizations trying to address the same issues in similar ways. This adds to the daily challenge of fundraising. With the saturation of organizations comes an oversaturation of asks being made constantly to corporations and potential individual donors. The competition for limited dollars will always be a reality in the nonprofit sector, but can be even more challenging with the increase in number of organizations. 

Conversation Starter

Reach Schools That Can at: schoolsthatcan.org/newark, esweeney@schoolsthatcan.org or 973-262-3123.

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3 Great Spots for Backpacking with Kids

Photo by ?àm T??ng Quân via Pexels

For a fun and educational walk with your kids, consider  Monmouth County Parks Department’s Safari Backpack program. The backpacks are loaned for free and contain everything a young explorer may need, including magnifying glass, binoculars, butterfly net, trail maps, scavenger-hunt activities, and pamphlets to help identify birds, insects, flowers and trees. “The Safari Backpacks are meant to get kids excited about exploring,” says Ruth Carll, senior naturalist for the parks system. You can choose from three county locations:

Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center • Howell
Stay close to the Visitor’s Center and check out the pollinator garden and the birds and insects that congregate at the front pond. For more of a walk, venture out on the 1.1-mile Cove Trail, which skirts the nearby lakeshore, or the more ambitious 5.1-mile loop around the reservoir.

Deep Cut Gardens • Middletown
Pick up a backpack at the horticultural center, then take the paved path through the main garden of the 54-acre sanctuary to see flowers, bees and butterflies. Explore the greenhouse and koi pond, or meander through chestnut, oak, maple and ash groves on the Meadow Walk. 

Huber Woods Environmental Center • Middletown
Choose among meadow, forest or pre-K-geared backpacks. The park has eight miles of trails; the short Discovery Path and Nature Loop, both under a half mile, are ideal for little legs and for spotting wildflowers and butterflies.

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Juvenile Killed On Rt. 208 In Fair Lawn: Police

FAIR LAWN, NJ — A juvenile pedestrian from Fair Lawn was struck and killed on Route 208 Sunday night, police said.

The juvenile was hit shortly after 9 p.m. on Route 208 South before Fair Lawn Avenue, said Sgt. Brian Metzler. No identifying information about the juvenile or information the crash was provided.

The child was 12 and hit by a car driven by a Bergen County Sheriff’s Officer, Metzler told NorthJersey.com.

Route 208 South is closed at Maple Avenue while authorities investigate.

Metzler deferred all questions to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. A spokesperson with the prosecutor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday night.

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

NJ Man Sexted With Girl For Weeks, Sheriff Said: Top News

We know you’re busy. Between work, family, and everything else, sometimes you don’t have time to keep up with the news. Patch has got you covered: Here are some North Jersey news stories you might have missed this week.

Man Sexted With 12-Year-Old Totowa Girl For Weeks: Sheriff

A North Jersey man is accused of “sexting” a young Totowa girl for weeks following an investigation by the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office, authorities announced. Michael J. Chiuchiolo Jr., 48,… Read more

NJ Woman Destroys Neighbor’s Sexy Easter Display (VIDEO)

PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — The mannequins were clad in lingerie and fishnet stockings and colorful wigs and held Easter baskets. They were so offensive to one woman, she did something about it…. Read more

Driver In Fatal Paramus School Bus Crash In Morris Cty. Indicted

PARAMUS, NJ — Hudy Muldrow Sr., the man who authorities say caused a fatal school bus crash on Interstate 80 that killed two people, has been indicted on dozens of charges, authorities announced Wednesday…. Read more

See Inside Jacqueline Laurita’s Just-Listed Franklin Lakes Home

FRANKLIN LAKES, NJ — Christopher and Jacqueline Laurtia of “The Real Housewives Of New Jersey” listed their custom-built Franklin Lakes home for sale this week.Here are the details: … Read more

Man’s Body Hung From North Jersey Bridge: Top News

We know you’re busy. Between work, family, and everything else, sometimes you don’t have time to keep up with the news. Patch has got you covered: Here are some Bergen County news stories you might… Read more

Wyckoff Masseur Charged With Sexual Assault: Prosecutor

WYCKOFF, NJ — A Wyckoff masseur was charged with sexual assault, authorities announced Friday. Matthew Plotkin, 29, was arrested after an investigation by the Allendale Police Department and… Read more

Riders Blast NJ Transit For Hours Long Wait After Wrestlemania

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — It took hours for people to get home from Wrestlemania 35 at MetLife Stadium. Many blamed NJ Transit for the long wait, but NJ Transit put the blame squarely on the event’s organizer,… Read more

Bergen’s 1st Krispy Kreme Gets Opening Date

An opening date is known for Bergen County’s first Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. The bakery will open in October 2019, according to David Townes, senior director of Retail Services for real estate… Read more

Craig Carton Used Gambling To Cope With Childhood Sexual Assault

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — Craig Carton used gambling to help cope with childhood sexual assault. He and his wife are separated, he is scared of going to jail, and he admitted, is a gambling addict…. Read more

4 From Bergen Arrested In ICE Sweep

Four people living in Bergen County were taken into custody during a month-long operation conducted by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Jersey, according to authorities.The operation,… Read more

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Man Killed In Passaic County Motorcycle Crash: Prosecutor

PASSAIC COUNTY, NJ — A Paterson man was killed after he crashed his motorcycle into a car driven by a Wayne man Saturday night, authorities said.

Paterson police responded to a motorcycle crash just after 6 p.m. on Route 20 South near Park Avenue, said Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes.

Miguel Soto, 30, of Paterson was driving a 2008 Honda CBR motorcycle in the eastbound lane of Route 20, Valdes said.

Soto hit a 2008 Acura MDX driven by Albert Barette, 70, of Wayne. Soto lost control of the motorcycle and crashed; he died of his injuries 6:38 p.m., Valdes said.

Authorities are investigating the crash. More information will be released once it becomes available.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact the prosecutor’s office tips line at 1-877-370-7276 or tips@passaiccountynj.org.

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Hasbrouck Heights Runner To Race In 2019 Boston Marathon

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ — One Hasbrouck Heights runner will be among the thousands to tackle one of the most iconic and notable road races: The 2019 Boston Marathon.

The 123rd running of the Boston Marathon 26.2-mile race from Hopkinton, Massachusetts to downtown Boston will be held on Monday, April 15. Of the 29,979 runners that entered the 2018 race 25,831 completed it or 95.8 percent.

The Hasbrouck Heights runner is:

Bib Wave/Corral Name Age
16679 3/1 Ardiana Dianderas 29

To look up other runners CLICK HERE. You can also track runners during the race by downloading the Boston Marathon Mobile App on Google Play here or Apple App store here.

You can cheer on and follow fellow local runners’ progress during the 26.2 mile race in Boston, Massachusetts live on Monday, April 15. NBC Sports Network will be airing the race live on television and you can also catch it streaming online live at nbcsports.com beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com