Local News

N.J. rejects Trinitas’ application to become a Level II Trauma Center

Trinitas Regional Medical Center’s application to become a Level II Trauma Center was rejected by the state Department of Health on Friday, ROI-NJ has confirmed.

Officials at Trinitas said they are currently reviewing the seven-page rejection letter (which can be read below).

Requests for comment from the Department of Health were not immediately returned.

Trinitas, which has been in a prolonged fight to earn Level II designation, appeared to be moving in that direction in January, when its efforts received approval from the state’s health planning board.

Trinitas, which is in Elizabeth, began its latest effort to become a Level II Trauma Center in the fall of 2017, when the state asked hospitals in Union County to apply for the designation — recognizing that the county did not have a Level II center in its borders.

Trinitas CEO Gary Horan openly argued his case for the designation, citing — among other reasons — that Elizabeth is one of the 10 most violent cities in the state and Trinitas’ emergency room is one of the busiest in the state — one that handles many extreme trauma cases, such as wounds from gunshots and stabbings.

Trinitas’ application was met with opposition from officials at University Hospital in Newark, as well as Newark elected officials, who argued that granting the designation would result in a loss of business and financial harm to University Hospital.

Officials at the hospital and more than a dozen elected officials in the Newark/Essex County area sent six letters of opposition to the Department of Health last April.

Read more from ROI-NJ:

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By Anjalee Khemlani

Texas HR services firm names N.J. exec

BenefitMall, a Texas-based provider of benefit and payroll services, has hired a payroll sales director for New Jersey, it announced this week.

The company, which has its New Jersey office in Somerset, said John Watson joins after more than a dozen years with Paychex in a variety of roles, including district sales manager. He has more than a decade of payroll, HR and employee benefits sales experience, BenefitMall noted.

“BenefitMall is thrilled to introduce John Watson to our payroll sales team,” Michael Garcia, vice president of Eastern payroll sales, said in a prepared statement. “His extensive experience in payroll and employee benefits sales with small to medium businesses will make him an excellent leader for our sales team in New Jersey.”

In his new role, Watson will over see BenefitMall’s New Jersey human capital management and payroll sales efforts, leading the Garden State teams.

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By ROI-NJ Staff

How success of Kearny Point project was key to $3M infrastructure grant for Kearny

The town of Kearny has received a $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Public Works program to redevelop and improve Hackensack Avenue into a high performing “green” street, seeing as the stretch of roadway serves as the primary entranceway to Kearny Point, a collection of more than 3 million anticipated square feet of coworking and flexible-use office space on 130 acres in South Kearny.

“To say that I am impressed with the local vision and the collaboration taking place here would be an understatement,” John Fleming, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, said Thursday on site at Kearny Point. “Through your efforts, this land is being reborn as a center for the pioneering companies of the new economy, providing a flexible, modern workplace and home to a diverse community of today’s creators.”

The EDA’s investment also will be matched by $1.3 million in local funds, Fleming added.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, from left, with John Fleming, assistant secretary of commerce, Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Kelman Neu and Hugo Neu Director of Development Mike Meyer.

“This is the type of true public-private partnership that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration is eager to invest in,” he said.

Fleming attributed the success of one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the country to Wendy Kelman Neu, chairman and CEO of New York City-based Hugo Neu Corp., with the ongoing redevelopment representing an expected $1 billion in public and private investment into the site over the next decade.

Hugo Neu Corp., a recognized global leader in recycling, is the owner and redeveloper of Kearny Point.

“It is through your commitment and wisdom that this former maritime facility is being transformed into a cutting-edge, world-class innovation district and manufacturing hub,” Fleming said.

Neu said the announcement Thursday marked the celebration of an incredible milestone not only for Kearny Point but also for the long-term economic development goals of Kearny, as the funding goes toward a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-designated Opportunity Zone.

“We would not be here today without the hard work of the many stakeholders that understand that in addressing the infrastructural needs to support growing businesses at Kearny Point, we can take critical and meaningful steps to protect and enhance our natural environment,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the federal grant was a wise investment in New Jersey infrastructure.

“The modernization of Hackensack Avenue will not only safeguard the area from future storm-related flooding, but will strengthen pedestrian and biker safety and lay the foundation for the economic revitalization and improved quality of life that this community deserves,” Booker said in a statement.

According to Mike Meyer, director of development at Hugo Neu Corp., the redevelopment of the roadway will include the planting of more than 20,000 square feet of grass, plants and trees; the creation of designated paths for both pedestrians and cyclists; new street light poles; and the implementation and improvement of overhead electric services and underground gas distribution system piping.

Designed by Bohler Engineering and Arterial Design Studio, the project also will reduce flooding and limit nonpoint pollution of the Hudson-Raritan watershed by rebuilding the roadway’s underground water distribution, stormwater and sewer systems.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said the roadway improvements, which are expected to be completed within a year and a half, are just the beginning.

“We will be submitting more applications and we will be able to show you results,” Santos said. “Bringing old industrial centers back to life to create more jobs should be our collective goal irrespective of state or party.

“We should be about economic growth in a responsible way that creates jobs — and Kearny Point is meeting that challenge.”

Kearny Point is the modern answer to developing the new economy, Neu said, made possible by the scrap metal trading business her late husband, John Neu, started with his father, Hugo Neu, in 1947.

Through various subsidiaries, Hugo Neu Corp. had developed more than 9 million square feet of industrial properties in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California over its many decades in business, including the former Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. warehouse and distribution facilities in South Kearny.

Building 78 at Kearny Point.

When Hurricane Sandy left the site under four feet of water in 2012, the Neus decided to demolish and construct newer industrial buildings for distribution and logistics purposes. But with the passing of her husband in 2013, Wendy Kelman Neu, who had been working for Hugo Neu Corp. since 1980, unexpectedly assumed complete control of the historic riverfront site.

Neu ultimately decided to partner with Steve Nislick, former CEO of Edison Properties and now chief financial officer of Hugo Neu Corp., to reposition the company to invest, build and manage innovative businesses in recycling and real estate, starting in 2015 with the renovation and construction of four floors of flexible-use office space between 200 and 3,000 square feet at Building 78, a 200,000-square-foot building at Kearny Point.

Starting at nearly $500 per month, small to medium-sized businesses now have 24/7 access not only to high-quality, scalable office space in which to grow, but also coworking space, rooftop event space, a café and bar, internet technology services, printer, scanner and copier services and package delivery and receipt services for a fraction of the cost of what they would find in New York City, Newark, Hoboken or Jersey City, Nick Shears, director of leasing and marketing for Hugo Neu Realty Management, said.

Having reached more than 95 percent occupancy within a year and a half without the use of brokers in 2017, Building 78 at Kearny Point now hosts more than 200 businesses and nearly 500 employees, Shears added, with the majority of tenants being women- and minority-owned companies.

Building 78 has proven so successful, in fact, that an annex consisting of 90,000 square feet of small flexible-use office space is currently being constructed to expand the building’s footprint by the end of this year.

According to Hugo Neu Corp. representatives, subsequent phases of the project will also involve the renovation and demolishment of older buildings on-site to create more than 3 million square feet of WELL AP-certified flexible-use office space ranging from 200 to 10,000 square feet; the construction of a gathering hall with retail and dining components; a waterfront park and living shoreline at the confluence of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers; an outdoor amphitheater; and more than 25 acres of open space for both the tenants and the public.

The goal, Neu said, is to create nearly 10,000 jobs on site.

“But this is much larger than 130 acres,” she said. “What we hope to do here is create a model in Kearny that then will be transferable to other locations.”

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By Meg Fry

Summer Science Programs; 2nd Annual S.T.E.M. Day; More Local News

At Patch, we believe that some of the best and most useful content comes from our Patch communities. Here’s a roundup of some of the best content from Patch Contributors and Posters from the past week.

Patch is the perfect platform for blogging about your favorite activities, writing a book or restaurant review or getting the word out for an upcoming event.

If you’d like to contribute to your community Patch, it’s easy — here’s how to get started.

If you’re a Patch Contributor and you’d like your story to appear in the next Patch Contributor Roundup, please email the link to your story to rick.uldricks@patch.com.


Eco-Explorers Summer Science Programs at the EEC

The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center (EEC), located at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge, New Jersey has opened registration for Eco-Explorers, a summer science and… Read more


Mount Prospect School Hosts Second Annual S.T.E.M. Day

Mount Prospect School held their second annual S.T.E.M. Day on Friday, April 26th. The school had 24 different parent and teacher presentations in the area of science, technology, engineering, and math…. Read more


Amazing Brick Colonial Looks Like It Popped Off The Movie Screen

Lighting a fire and basking by the glow of a real fireplace while overlooking your own park in your own back yard, it doesn’t get any better than this, A den with a walkout patio overlooks your property… Read more


Environmental Education Center Programs

The Somerset County Park Commission Environmental Education Center at 190 Lord Stirling Road in Basking Ridge has scheduled the following Naturalist-led programs to help children and adults enjoy the… Read more


Matthew De Fede Just Listed 15 Cathedral Ave in Nutley NJ

This 4 Bedroom 2.5 Bath Located in the Spring Garden Section of Nutley New Jersey, Just Hit The Market! If you are looking for a family friendly town located with 30 minutes to NYC Nutley is a great… Read more


Jennifer Queliz Selected as a Fellow to the 2019 NELC Academy

Cozen O’Connor attorney Jennifer Queliz, an associate in the firm’s Labor and Employment practice in New York, has been selected as a Fellow to the 2019 National Employment Law Council (NELC) Academy… Read more


Bullpen Shines As Patriots Complete Sweep

York, Pennsylvania – The Somerset Patriots (9-2) rode a strong evening from their bullpen into a 3-2 win over the York Revolution (4-8) Wednesday night at PeoplesBank Park. The win… Read more


Straight Line Sprints Added to Tour of Somerville

As a prelude to the Memorial Day running of the 76th Tour of Somerville bicycle races, on Sunday May 26 crowd pleasing, quarter-mile straight line sprints will be held under the lights along Somerville’s… Read more


Trinity Academy Hosts Spring Open House and Free Petting Zoo

(April 30, 2019, Caldwell, NJ) – Trinity Academy is hosting its fourth and final Open House of the 2018-2019 school year for prospective students from Pre-K through 8th grade on Sunday, May 19th from… Read more


How You Can Build A Community On Patch

Patch is a space for community news, and no one knows your community better than you. The first step is creating a profile and spreading the word about Patch…. Read more

Ørsted signs agreement to support Rutgers research on offshore wind power

Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind has signed a memorandum of understanding with Rutgers University to support academic research related to offshore wind power, the two announced this week.

The MOU was signed through Rutgers’ Corporate Engagement Center, a joint venture of the university’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the Rutgers University Foundation.

Under the agreement, Ørsted will make an initial contribution to the university, with additional funding contingent upon its being granted approval by the state Board of Public Utilities for its Ocean Wind project, which would be the state’s first offshore wind farm.

The BPU is expected to rule on the December 2018 application in the summer.

“Rutgers University is a premiere institution that can provide us with ongoing research that will help propel the New Jersey offshore wind industry forward,” Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted, said in a prepared statement. “We are very happy to partner with them as we progress with our Ocean Wind project.”

The research being supported will be conducted at the Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership, part of the Department of Marine and Coastal Science.

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By Eric Strauss

20 NJ Companies Make New Fortune 500 List

Fortune Magazine has announced its exclusive 500 list for the most recent fiscal year, and New Jersey proved its worth with 20 companies on the 2019 rankings. The Garden State had four in the top 100 (see New Jersey list below).

WalMart led the overall list, but New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson came in 37th overall, boasting an $81 billion year in 2018.

This week’s release of information marked the 65th annual list, Fortune said. To put the list in context, Fortune writes that just a tenth of the companies on the list are responsible for nearly half of the total $13.7 trillion in revenue. (You can read more in detail about the list via Fortune here).

According to the company’s methodology, businesses are ranked based on total revenues for their respective fiscal years and file financial statements with a government agency.

The full list of New Jersey’s 20 Fortune 500 companies and their revenues are:

  • #37 Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick $81.5 billion
  • #50 Prudential Financial, Newark $62.9 billion
  • #76 Merck, Kenilworth $42.2 billion
  • #77 Honeywell International, Morris Plains $41.8 billion
  • #113 PBF Energy, Parsippany $27.1 billion
  • #193 Cognizant Technology Solutions, Teaneck $16.1 billion
  • #195 Becton Dickinson, Franklin Lakes $15.9 billion
  • #207 Celgene, Summit $15.2 billion
  • #239 ADP, Roseland $13.3 billion
  • #243 Newell Brands, Hoboken $13.0 billion
  • #258 Bed Bath & Beyond, Union $12.3 billion
  • #291 NRG Energy, Princeton $10.7 billion
  • #323 Public Service Enterprise Group, Newark $9.6 billion
  • #338 Avis Budget Group, Parsippany $9.1 billion
  • #349 Campbell Soup, Camden $8.6 billion
  • #404 Quest Diagnostics, Seacaucus $7.531 billion
  • #451 Burlington Stores, Burlington $6.6 billion
  • #457 Ascena Retail Group, Mahwah $6.5 billion
  • #478 Realogy Holdings, Madison $6.0 billion
  • #487 Zoetis, Parsippany $5.8 billion

Walmart was followed by Exxon Mobil and Apple on the 2019 list. Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon ranked No.4 and No.5, rounding out the top five spots on the list.

The top 10 companies on the list are:

  1. Walmart
  2. Exxon Mobil
  3. Apple
  4. Berkshire Hathaway
  5. Amazon.com
  6. UnitedHealth Group
  7. McKesson
  8. CVS Health
  9. AT&T
  10. AmerisourceBergen

See the full Fortune 500 list here.

House passes bills to protect ACA, including requiring study of state-based health exchanges like N.J.’s

The U.S. House of Representatives passed bills late Thursday night that would protect Affordable Care Act provisions that have recently been threatened or stripped by President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as promote greater generic drug use.

The bills include the following provisions and amendments:

  • Require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide outreach and education about federal health insurance exchanges in a variety of languages, extra focus on expanding navigators and outreach in vulnerable populations, including veterans and high health risk regions, set annual enrollment targets, provide annual reports on spending on outreach and enrollment;
  • Prohibit the HHS secretary from ending autoenrollment each year for existing exchange enrollees, and from restricting the practice of insurers adding surcharges to silver-level plans, which in turn boosts subsidies for individuals 400% below the poverty line;
  • Require biweekly public reports on the status of the health insurance enrollment period;
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to do two studies, one on the effects of the administration’s cuts to ACA outreach and navigator efforts on the cost of coverage, and the other on the effects of state-based health exchanges (like the one recently set up in New Jersey);
  • Extend federal assistance for state-based exchanges to 2023 and extend the requirement that state-based exchanges be self-sustaining by 2025;
  • Require HHS to submit a report analyzing how harmful the cost increases of commonly used drugs have been to those who forgo treatment as a result;
  • Direct HHS, the Department of Labor and Department of Education to do outreach to higher education institutions about promoting awareness of use and availability of generic drugs;
  • Commission the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a study of the amount of federal funding and research used in developing drugs by pharmaceutical companies;
  • Require drug companies to provide samples to generic manufacturers.

All 12 representatives from New Jersey voted for the measures in the MORE Health Education Act.

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) has received some credit for including the provisions, through a bipartisan effort, that address state-based exchanges.

“This is the No. 1 issue on people’s minds in Burlington and Ocean Counties,” he said. “We came together as a Democrat and Republican to introduce this legislation and worked to get it passed. The Senate should look to our example and do the same. Our neighbors don’t have time for partisan games. The time is now to act on lowering health care costs.”

The provision to boost navigators and outreach will reverse the trend of insurers and health care providers picking up the slack from reduced funding in the last few years.

Between 2016 and 2018, federal navigator funding in New Jersey dropped 79 percent — from $1.9 million to $400,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Americans elected the new House to provide a careful balance of oversight combined with an aggressively positive agenda,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).

“With today’s vote, the House is fighting back against Donald Trump and Republicans’ repeated attempts to destroy the ACA and weaken health care for millions. Furthermore, for too long, Americans and their families strangled by high drug prices have cried out for their elected leaders to lower prices. Our legislation delivers reforms to ease that burden.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) said people continue to buy drugs from outside the country because of the high cost.

“When sick, the ability to afford a prescription — or whether your plan offers the coverage you need — should be the last thing on your mind,” she said.

“This bill takes credible steps to improve our health care system and restore critical funding to help New Jersey families sign up for the health care plan that best represents the needs of our families.”

The measures must next be voted on in the Senate.

“There is broad, bipartisan support for efforts to increase the availability of generic drugs by increasing competition — and I’m relieved we voted to advance these common sense proposals,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.).

“Plus, we’re proactively making fixes to help keep premiums low and the number of uninsured Americans down. I strongly urge the Senate to put partisan politics aside and vote for these measures that help save lives.”

Read more from ROI-NJ

More By Anjalee Khemlani

Fort Lee Nanny Stole $37,000 From Bergen Family: Prosecutor

FORT LEE, NJ — The longtime nanny of an Alpine family stole $37,000 from her employers, acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo announced.

Gabriella Durso, 27, of Fort Lee was charged with theft by deception, unauthorized use of credit cards, forgery, and uttering, Calo said.

An Alpine resident was suspicious that Durso was stealing from them by using the victim’s checkbook and credit card, Calo said.

Alpine police officers and detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes Unit investigated.

Authorities learned that during the summer of 2018, Durso forged more than 60 checks from the family and deposited the funds into her personal bank account, Calo said. A victim’s credit card was also used by Durso, which she used multiple times to purchase personal items, Calo said.

Durso is scheduled to appear in Bergen County Central Judicial Processing Court in Hackensack on the morning of May 29.


Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

1 Year Later: Miranda Vargas, Paramus Bus Crash Victim Remembered

PARAMUS, NJ — Miranda Faith Vargas loved to build things.

Vargas wanted to be an engineer when she got older. She wanted to build skyscrapers. She loved playing with LEGOs.

“You could never interrupt her while she was playing with LEGOs,” her father, Joevanny Vargas said. “She would ask for help and I would say, ‘love, I will help you with all the strength in my body.'”

But the dreams that Vargas and her family had for her ended on May 16, 2018 when the school bus she was in was hit by a dump truck on Interstate 80. The bus was filled with dozens of students and teachers from East Brook Middle School, who were on their way to Waterloo Village in Sussex County. Vargas, 10, and her teacher, Jennifer Williamson, 51, died in the crash. Dozens more were injured.

“This last year has been nothing short of a nightmare. You wake up and say to yourself, ‘this is only a dream,'” Jeovanny Vargas said. “It’s been very rough for all of us. It’s been difficult to wake up and realize this isn’t a dream. I want to celebrate her life, but a big wall of pain gets in the way.”

Joevanny Vargas said he thinks of a lot of things about his daughter.

“The first thing that comes to mind was her big, beautiful eyes,” Joevanny Vargas said. “Her smile, her hugs, her kindness, her beauty. It’s not just one thing that I think of.”

Vargas and her family were as close as they could be.

“Sometimes we had a hard time eating because she was glued to us,” Jeovanny Vargas said. “We miss all of it. We were never workaholics. We offered her so much time and attention. If it were the opposite, I don’t know what I would do with myself.”

Vargas always helped others, her father said. She was a defender of those younger than her.

“Even when she was in kindergarten she would say, ‘I want to help.’ So we would go to our church and work with the younger kids. At school too,” said Jeovanny Vargas.

He successfully pushed New Jersey lawmakers to pass a law requiring three-point seat belts on schools buses, one of the few laws like it in the United States. The law was nicknamed “Miranda’s Law.” He is backing a bill re-introduced by Rep. Josh Gottheimer that would require school districts and school bus companies to be automatically notified within 24 hours of when one of their drivers receives a traffic violation.

That bill was created following news that Hudy Muldrow Sr., 78, drove the bus despite his driver’s license being suspended 14 times since 1975, most recently from December 2017 to January 2018. He reportedly made an illegal U-turn on a police turnaround to get to the other side of the highway. That’s when a dump truck crashed into the bus.

Muldrow pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree reckless vehicular homicide, 25 counts of fourth-degree assault by auto, and 16 counts of assault by auto. He was indicted on all charges and arraigned last month.

Muldrow’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 7, the Daily Record reported.

“I want him to rot in jail,” Jeovanny Vargas said of Muldrow. “I want nothing less than the justice system to do their job. This will prove whether we have a justice system. It was a selfish thing he did. Who turns a school bus around where he did?”

Jeovanny Vargas is also lobbying for Congress to approve the SECURES ACT. The legislation would require lap-and-shoulder belts on all school buses, nationwide.

“I’m trying to mirror her. She would try to stand up and help these kids,” Jeovanny Vargas said. “I want kids who get on a bus to see those seat belts and know that the person driving the bus is qualified. I want them to look at the sky and say ‘thank you, Miranda.'”

The family has received a lot of support from the greater Paramus community since the crash.

“All of it helps. We appreciate, first and foremost, prayers. We need strength, and we get it through prayer,” Jeovanny Vargas said. “The Paramus community has been amazing.”


Related:


Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Jennifer Williamson, Paramus Bus Crash Victim, Remembered

PARAMUS, NJ — Dolores Williamson was at her daughter’s grave one day when a man she did not know walked up to her.

The man was there to visit Jennifer Williamson’s grave. He was one of her former students.

“He said one time he was going through a very bad time and that Jennifer spoke to him and it changed him. He said he saved her life,” Dolores Williamson said. “Whatever she could have said, I don’t know, but she was a very compassionate and kind soul.”

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of Jennifer Williamson, 51, and Miranda Vargas, 10. They were killed in a horrific school bus crash on Interstate 80.

“I still feel surreal about the whole thing,” Dolores Williamson said. “My heart hurts. My heart hasn’t really accepted it yet. It doesn’t feel like a year at all. It feels like yesterday.”

Jennifer Williamson was a friend to so many people, her mother said. She befriended them without really trying to.

“Jen made a friend of everybody. She was always remembered by people,” Dolores Williamson said. “She wasn’t even aware she was doing it, it was just her talent, her kindness. When people tell me those stories about her, I feel so much gratitude.”

Williamson and her older brother, Doug were very close growing up, he said. They grew even closer after their brother, Christopher, died in a car crash in 1990.

“After my brother died, Jen and I became so close, it was beyond brother and sister. There’s nothing good about my brother dying, except that. That’s what really hard about everything. Now she is gone too,” Doug Williamson said. “We were best friends, and we always had each other’s back. It was an amazing thing to have, knowing that you could tell someone anything and never be judged, no matter what.”

The bus Jennifer Williamson was on was filled with students, teachers, and chaperons from East Brook Middle School. They were on a field trip to Waterloo Village in Sussex County. Dozens of people were injured.

“I lost one special girl,” Dolores Williamson said. “We all know you don’t turn around in a spot like that.”

Hudy Muldrow Sr., 78, drove the school bus. He reportedly made an illegal U-turn on a police turnaround to get to the other side of the highway. That’s when a dump truck crashed into the bus.

Muldrow pleaded not guilty to two counts of second-degree reckless vehicular homicide, 25 counts of fourth-degree assault by auto, and 16 counts of assault by auto. He was indicted on all charges and arraigned last month.

Muldrow’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 7, the Daily Record reported.

This past year has been one filled with sorrow for Doug Williamson.

“Every day this past year, I’ve felt sorrow,” he said. “I’m going to miss growing old with her.

But there is another feeling that’s been welling up inside him too.

“I feel very proud,” he said. “I’ve heard so many stories from so many people over the past year of how she touched their lives.”

A new memorial near Besen Park was dedicated to Vargas and Williamson Saturday. A number of people who knew Williamson spoke at the dedication ceremony.

“I think she would have liked the memorial,” said Doug Williamson. “It’s the perfect spot.”

Dolores Williamson was at the dedication ceremony, along with others close to her daughter.

“She would have loved it. She was a nature lover. The whole setting is beautiful,” Dolores Williamson said. “You could feel the love all around you and it certainly helped me to get through my day. I asked everyone there to be kind to one another, to practice kindness, because Jen was very kind. I miss her terribly.”

Williamson would often talk with Doug about what would happen when one of the died.

“We would often talk about what would happen and if we knew the other one would be alright,” said Doug Williamson, who was in his driveway one morning thinking of his sister when a bus driver drove by and waved at him. Then he turned around, went past him, and waved again.

“We don’t have any kids near us, and he doesn’t know me. There was no reason for him to do that,” Doug Williamson said. “Up until that point I wasn’t sure if I believed she was OK. I took it as a sign that she is. Now I do believe.”


Related:


Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com