Local News

No Charges In NJ Transit Crash Death Of Bergenfield Boy

No criminal charges or motor vehicle summonses will be issued to the driver of an NJ Transit bus that killed a 10-year-old Bergenfield boy in May, police announced.

Police completed a “thorough investigation” of the “truly tragic accident” involving the death of Alvin Maracallo, said Bergenfield Police Capt. Mustafa Rabboh.

“We pray the family finds peace during these most difficult times,” Rabboh said.

Maracalho died after he was struck by an NJ Transit bus just before 4 p.m. May 27 at West Church Street and Veterans Plaza, Rabboh previously said.

Related: UPDATE: Boy, 10, Dies After Bergenfield Bus Crash: Police

Maracalho was on his bicycle going west on West Church Street when he entered a crosswalk. The bus was going in the same direction on the street, turned left onto Veterans Plaza, and hit Maracalho, Rabboh said.

Maracallo was pronounced dead at the hospital within an hour of arriving there following the crash, police previously said. He was a student at Hoover Elementary School.

Bergenfield Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Tully asked people to keep the community in their thoughts and prayers following the tragedy.

“Nothing we could ever do could ease the pain for this family,” Tully said. “Yet, we can give them a daily reminder of how much their child was loved and cherished in this home away from home we call school.”

Related: Police Identify 10-Year-Old Victim Of Bergenfield Bus Crash

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Man Charged With Vehicular Homicide In Deaths Of Lodi Man, Woman

BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — A man was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of two people following a motor vehicle crash June 29, authorities said.

Donald K. Davis, 29, of Nutley was also charged with speeding and reckless driving, said Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella.

Authorities identified the two people killed in the crash as Muhamet and Bukurie Oparakus, 68 and 64, respectively, both of Lodi. They were in a 2005 Toyota Corolla that police found on its side on Harrison Street just before 7 a.m., Musella said.

Authorities did not specify how the deceased knew each other, but Daily Voice reported they were husband and wife. More than $37,000 had been donated to a GoFundMe campaign to help ensure they will be buried in their native Albania.

A Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Related: 2 Dead In Bergen County Car Crash: Prosecutor

Bukurie Oparakus was in the front passenger’s seat and was pronounced dead at Hackensack University Medical Center. Muhamet Oparakus was driving the Toyota and pronounced dead at the scene, the prosecutor said.

Police found the Dodge Charger Davis was driving near the front steps of a Harrison Street house. He was taken to HUMC, where he was treated and released, Musella said.

Authorities investigated and arrested Davis Wednesday. He was remanded to the Bergen County Jail pending a first appearance in Bergen County Central Judicial Processing Court Thursday afternoon, Musella said.

The Lodi Police Department and Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation of the crash. The Bergen County Sheriff’s Office assisted.

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Car Crashes Through Fair Lawn Bakery [Photos]

FAIR LAWN, NJ — A woman crashed a Lexus she was driving through the front of Zadies Bakery Thursday morning, police said.

The vehicle crashed through the large glass front of the bakery and into a counter, destroying both.

Police got a report about the crash at about 10:40 a.m. and found the 2013 Lexus “fully into” the building, said Sgt. Sean Macys.

The 79-year-old Fair Lawn driver was pulling into a parking spot and pressed the gas instead of the break, crashing through the bakery, Macys said. She and a 90-year-old passenger were not hurt.

A 63-year-old man from Flushing, New York sustained an injury when flying glass hit his leg, Macys said. Members of the Fair Lawn Ambulance Corps treated him at the bakery.

Staff from the Fair Lawn Building Department inspected the business and deemed it uninhabitable, Macys said.

The driver was issued a summons or careless driving.

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com

Severe Thunderstorm Warning In 3 NJ Counties

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued in three New Jersey counties on Thursday, and the storm warning could spread to other areas of the state.

The National Weather Service issued the warning for Gloucester, Camden and Salem counties, saying 60-mph wind gusts and penny-size hail are expected. The warning is set to expire at 2:45 p.m.

Damage to roofs, siding, trees and power lines is possible, according to the NWS.

Here are the affected areas:

Other parts of New Jersey were getting some rough weather on Thursday, too, as more thunderstorms were expected to move into the region. A number of towns have already canceled outdoor events.

The National Weather Service also has issued a hazardous weather outlook for all of New Jersey, saying showers and thunderstorms are likely later Thursday and early Friday. A few storms may also be strong, carrying a threat of gusty winds.

The NWS also has issued a flash flood watch for 15 New Jersey counties, saying locally heavy rainfall is possible.

The Brick SummerFest was one of a number of events that has been postponed because of the weather. Check with your local communities to see if your local outdoor activities are still scheduled.


After locally severe storms hammer the Appalachians and some of the northern and western suburbs of the major mid-Atlantic cities on Thursday, localized flooding downpours are forecast along the I-95 corridor and coastal areas of the Northeast Thursday night and Friday, according to AccuWeather.

As a storm system enters the hilly terrain of the Appalachians, combined with daytime heating and moist air, showers and thunderstorms will erupt on Thursday, according to AccuWeather.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

“During Thursday night, the intensity of the storms will diminish in terms of wind gusts,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said in an AccuWeather release. “However, a considerable threat will remain in terms of urban and small stream flooding from near I-95 to the immediate coast of the mid-Atlantic and New England.”

The weather pattern has the potential to unleash rainfall on the order of 1-2 inches per hour and perhaps 3 inches per hour in extreme cases, according to AccuWeather. The downpours may persist in part of this busy travel swath into Friday; motorists and airline passengers should anticipate delays.

Courtesy of AccuWeather

Here is the forecast:

  • Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after 5pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 87. South wind 7 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
  • Thursday night: Showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 1am. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds and heavy rain. Low around 71. Southwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
  • Friday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 2pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 89. West wind 5 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

Stockton Market Sold to New Hope Restaurant Owner

Photo courtesy of Stockton Market.

—Stockton Market in the small-but-charm-packed town of Stockton (just south of Trenton) has been sold. Fans of the market shouldn’t worry too much; the new owner Steven Lau was responsible for bringing The Salt House restaurant to New Hope (Pennsylvania), emphasizing market-fresh, seasonal cuisine. Not that everything will be about preservation: Lau’s nothing if not ambitious (he was in the music industry and opened his own Napa winery prior to attending the Culinary Institute of America). In the very least, Lau will likely seek out new vendors to add the Stockton’s very well-curated roster. Needless to say the late summer/early fall season should be extra exciting (and delicious?) this year. The Stockton Market, 19 Bridge Street, Stockton; 609-608-2824


—After closing the original West Philadelphia location of The Farmacy earlier this year, Ross Scofield and partner Danielle Coulter made the sudden—and surprising—announcement that The Farmacy in Palmyra is now also closings its doors. (Surprising as in our review of the restaurant went up on Tuesday.) Possibly more unexpected is the fact that Scofield essentially offered the restaurant space (and name) up to the best (most community-oriented, fiscally-solid) offer via Facebook on July 7. Per the post, as Scofield cleaned out the restaurant, he realized the place had potential for the right future tenant: “Fully inspected, fire systems tagged, certified for outside seating, new cooking equipment/ refrigeration, POS system, phone/internet, new tables, new flatware, and all.”

Scofield seemed to earnestly desire a new restaurant tenant for the neighborhood and landlords, so much so he was willing to (gratis?) assist a potential new tenant: “I can help write menus and show the new team the ropes.” No word yet on whether that deal was done, though the comments did reveal some of the reasons why both Farmacy locations are now closed. As one saddened regular asked “Why?” Coulter chimed in to explain a two-fold decision: “We had a better opportunity presented to us,” she said, adding, “We have been restaurant owners for [seven] years. We have a 2-year-old. And we want to live a normal life.” That “better opportunity” may refer to another restaurant concept (with a liquor license) the team was reported to be working on in conjunction with Scofield’s parents, also restaurateurs, somewhere in South Jersey. The Farmacy, 307 West Broad Street, Palmyra. 856-543-4411

—Egg Harbor Festhaus & Biergarten has abruptly closed for business. The German restaurant and beer hall made the announcement on July 2 via the restaurant’s Facebook page, saying only “EGG HARBOR FESTHAUS IS CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. We would like to thank our many customers, friends & employees.” The close seems especially abrupt, as only a few days earlier they’d posted a regular weekend-teaser pretzel/schnitzel/wurst photo array. Not much else is explained, though the closure announcement did end with the promise: “Future news will be posted here.” Egg Harbor Festhaus & Biergarten, 446 St. Louis Avenue, Egg Harbor City; 609-593-6524


Last week we reported on the midday fire on July 1 that shut down Hobby’s Deli in Newark, but it looks like the iconic restaurant is already—at least partially—getting back to business. In fact, it was only the next day that the delicatessen and restaurant was announcing it would be reopening Wednesday, July 3 with delivery and takeout (the dining room remains closed, pending repairs). Among other small miracles of resilience, a lone bottle of Cutty Sark whiskey survived the blaze (maybe no coincidence, it was a favorite of Hobby’s Deli founder Sam Brummer, whose sons Marc and Michael currently run the show). Stay tuned to their Facebook for developments, or other Scotch-related anomalies. Hobby’s Delicatessen & Restaurant, 2723, 32 Branford Place, Newark; 973-623-0410

In the Works:

—Capital Craft in Green Brook is getting a second location in the former home of the Macaroni Grill in East Hanover. The restaurant—which emphasizes eclectic, creative gastropub food and plenty of craft beer—will seat as many as 300 guests, with two separate bars, 30 craft beer lines, an outdoor space and coal-fired pizza. Considering the scope of the ambition here, and that it’s only the second iteration of a proven successful restaurant concept, the East Hanover location is likely to swing for the hospitality fences (when it does open—likely closer to several week from now—be prepared for a good time). Capital Craft, 138 Route 10, East Hanover; no phone yet.

—Hoboken’s Green Pear Café is expanding; the funky, warm, ultra-neighborhoody restaurant is on the cusp of opening its second location in another neighborhood, nearby Jersey City Heights. The second location will only serve dinner—during the day, the space will be dedicated to Green Pear’s catering company—but considering its location on a booming strip of the Heights neighborhood, it’s likely to start off at full speed when it opens. Dinner menu is still TBD, but you can expect similar mixture of eclectic, seasonal, and hearty (think Suckling Pig Sandwich and Grilled Atlantic Salmon and Vegetables). Green Pear Café, 93 Franklin Street, Jersey City; no phone yet.

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Atlantic Health, Kindred Healthcare: New hospital in Madison nears completion

A joint venture between Atlantic Health System and Kindred Healthcare announced on Tuesday the completion of Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute, a new, inpatient rehabilitation hospital located in Madison.

The $24 million, two-story, 38-bed hospital is the first standalone hospital to be built from the ground-up by Atlantic Health, it said. The hospital is expected to begin accepting patients “in a few weeks” following regulatory approvals, the joint venture said.

The joint venture said the hospital will be located off Route 124 on a 40-acre parcel of Giralda Farms land owned by Atlantic Health. The 46,000-square-foot area will be developed into a campus for health services, they said.

“Joining forces with a nationally recognized leader allows us to expand access to extraordinary rehabilitation services in our communities” said Amy Perry, senior vice president, Integrated Care Delivery, and CEO of Atlantic Health System’s hospital division. “We are proud to partner with Kindred to provide top-caliber patient care in the exceptional healing environment that has been created at Giralda Farms.”

The hospital will have a number of additions and amenities, including a therapeutic courtyard; bionic, assisted moving systems for patients; a gym with ceiling lifts and new equipment; a simulated home space; an ADL Suite; bariatric rooms; a brain injury unit with dedicated gym; private rooms; meeting spaces for families; a putting green; basketball court; and more.

“We are pleased to work with the premier healthcare provider in New Jersey as we address the growing need for inpatient rehabilitation services in the New Jersey and New York area,” Russ Bailey, chief operating officer of Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services-IRF, said. “Atlantic Health System has been a great partner and we look forward to continuing to work with them on this high-quality rehabilitation hospital that will greatly benefit the community.”

“This new hospital gives our team all the tools they need to care better for our patients, and gives patients the setting they need to prepare them to return to their lives,” Joseph Rempson, medical director for the new hospital, said.

The groundbreaking for the facility was held on May 22.

“Mayor Conley and the Madison Borough Council are looking forward to the opening of the new Atlantic Health Rehabilitation Institute,” Carmela Vitale, Madison Borough councilwoman, said. “This state of the art facility will be a tremendous asset to Madison and the greater area community, serving those in need of rehabilitative care.”

The building was designed by Earl Swensson Associates and constructed by Holt Construction.

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Atlantic City Executive Council: Building a strong foundation for the future

There is economic opportunity and a promise of renewal in Atlantic City with the opening of a new college campus, new businesses and the reopening of two once-closed casinos. Exciting things are taking shape under Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration, and the Department of Community Affairs has seized the chance to strategically plan a path to help move the city forward.

The plan is embodied in the “Atlantic City: Building a Foundation for a Shared Prosperity” report, often called the Transition Report, that was released in September 2018 and provides recommendations for the process of returning Atlantic City to local control. The report revealed that it will take sustained cooperation and hard work by the city, state, community, businesses and key stakeholders to help Atlantic City rise to where it ought to be — a thriving community and top destination for people to visit.

Partners in this effort understand they need to do many things well and they need to ensure the work produces real progress for the residents of Atlantic City and its many diverse organizations and business enterprises. 

Under the guidance of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Jim Johnson, special counsel in the Governor’s Office, the state and city have developed a strategy for getting the work done. The strategy includes convening the Atlantic City Executive Council, which brings together key stakeholders to share information and collaborate to achieve the Transition Report’s recommendations. The Executive Council meets monthly on Stockton University’s Atlantic City campus and is comprised of representatives from commercial enterprises, public and private institutions, government agencies, city schools, civic associations, labor groups, community organizations and city youth. 

The Executive Council is developing a new Atlantic City Implementation Plan, which is nearly complete and will break down each strategic objective into actionable items. The Implementation Plan will outline the lead stakeholders doing the work, the strategy to get the work done, actions needed to accomplish the work, the impact of the work on the community and the end goal. Once finished, the Implementation Plan will serve as a baseline for monitoring performance and progress of the Executive Council’s projects.

Meet some members of the Atlantic City Executive Council and read their vision for the future of Atlantic City:

DCA leadership

Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver
Department of Community Affairs

“The Atlantic City Executive Council has been instrumental in moving progress in Atlantic City forward — one step at a time. We understand this transformation isn’t going to happen overnight, but we know that we are on the right path with an outstanding collaboration of minds sitting at the same table every month working on positive solutions for the city.”

Jim Johnson
Special counsel
Governor’s Counsel’s Office

“Too often, when people come together to solve big challenges, they start with what’s wrong in the situation, instead of what is strong. Atlantic City has many strengths. With unified effort and a clear vision of where we want to go, Atlantic City can continue its rise together.”

Atlantic City government

Frank F. Gilliam
Atlantic City

“Atlantic City is surely on the rise. I want to thank the office of DCA and the lieutenant governor for their unwavering support and the continuous dedication of the Atlantic City Executive Council.”

Marty Small
Council president
Atlantic City

“The Atlantic City Executive Council has been essential in bringing stakeholders to the table in an effort to form a community partnership using combined resources to make Atlantic City all that we want it to be. I look forward to being a part of the short- and long-term solution, with this diverse group of individuals that make an extremely strong team.

“To take our city to the next level fiscally, we need to grow the middle class and attract professionals from various careers and offer them incentives to buy homes in our city, which adds to our ratable base, which has a positive effect on our taxpayers.”

General Executive Council members

Joyce Hagan
Executive director
Atlantic City Arts Foundation

“The Atlantic City Arts Foundation envisions Atlantic City as a community in which residents, businesses, government, employees and visitors value arts and culture as a means to stimulate economic development, encourage civic engagement and promote community well-being.”

Amber Hamlett
Youth representative
Hamlett Consulting

“I believe the successful future of Atlantic City is centered in the youth. As a 26-year-old entrepreneur, I have experienced many closed opportunities due to lack of access because of my age. If we create spaces for youth involvement and development in politics, business and community development, I believe our city can grow exponentially.

“Progress to me is centered around action. It is my experience and my family’s experience that many great ideas and even solutions are discussed around building Atlantic City, but implementation seems slow or not at all. I believe that the Executive Council has done something extremely unique by getting all stakeholders together at the table to task and execute initiatives.”

Lori Herndon
CEO and president

“There should be a coordinated effort to engage residents at an organic level, neighborhood by neighborhood. A greater bond with residents will help instill more community pride, spirit and trust. This, in turn, will lead to true grass roots support for larger, citywide initiatives.”

Joe Jingoli Jr.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

“What’s currently happening in Atlantic City is the coming together of many bright, talented, motivated people whose goals are common — advancing the cause of the city, opening businesses in the city, working in the city, relocating businesses to the city and helping to guide the city in the upward trajectory track it is on.”

Harvey Kesselman; Michelle McDonald
President; vice president of academic affairs
Stockton University

“The Atlantic City Executive Council has been essential in bringing stakeholders to the table in an effort to form a community partnership using combined resources to make Atlantic City all that we want it to be. I look forward to being a part of the short- and long-term solution, with this diverse group of individuals that make an extremely strong team.

“To take our city to the next level fiscally, we need to grow the middle class and attract professionals from various careers and offer them incentives to buy homes in our city, which adds to our ratable base, which has a positive effect on our taxpayers.”

Howard Kyle
Chief of staff
Office of the Atlantic County Executive

“We see Atlantic City as a vital part of the Atlantic County economy and as an important component of a diverse, sustainable regional economy. We look forward to helping to integrate Atlantic City into a regional economy and breaking down the barriers between Atlantic City and the suburban communities and creating greater levels of cooperation and new synergies.”

Libbie Wills
1st Ward Civic Association

“As a resident, I see my key role on the council as a voice for the residents who, in the past, have not had a voice at the table. Our visions for Atlantic City are the creation of an economic development plan that includes our neighborhoods, the aging, the youth and the disabled. We also envision the development of the South Inlet with mixed income housing, improved waterfront and Atlantic Avenue with stores that meet the needs of the residents.”

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N.J. ranks among Top 10 worst states to retire

New Jersey has been ranked the 9th-worst state to retire, according to a Bankrate.com report.

Bankrate.com determined the rankings by examining 11 public and private datasets related to the life of someone who is retired, broken down into five categories: affordability (40%), wellness (25%), weather (15%), culture (15%) and crime (5%).

New Jersey, which was ranked No. 42 overall,  fared well in crime (No. 5), but was ranked No. 48 in affordability, the study’s most important metric. The Garden State wound up in middle of the pack in the rest of the categories — No. 16 in culture, No. 22 in weather and No. 23 in wellness.

“There are many factors to consider when deciding where to retire,” Adrian Garcia, data analyst for Bankrate.com, said. “Some people may choose to stay close to family, while others prefer to seek out warm weather or affordable living. It comes down to very personal preferences, so it’s important to weigh all factors and determine what is most important for your happiness.”

The Top 5 states to retire, according to Bankrate.com, include:

  1. Nebraska;
  2. Iowa;
  3. Missouri;
  4. South Dakota;
  5. Florida.

The Top 5 worst states to retire include:

  1. Maryland;
  2. New York;
  3. Alaska;
  4. Illinois;
  5. Washington.

To see the full rankings and methodology, click here.

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Fundraiser Created For Hospitalized Fair Lawn Boy

FAIR LAWN, NJ — Tommy Alexander is a respected and hardworking student at Fair Lawn High School.

Alexander, who will be a senior in September, was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection the last week of June. He has been in a medically-induced coma at Hackensack University Medical Center and has dealt with other complications, a GoFundMe page created to help Alexander’s family stated.

“As a community, please let us raise funds for the Alexander family as the medical expenses will be astronomical,” fundraisers said on the GoFundMe page. “Let the one and only thing on their minds be spending every moment by Tommy’s side.”

The goal is to raise $20,000 for the family. More than $3,200 was donated as of Wednesday afternoon, about two days after the campaign went live.

“I feel your pain, because I was in the same situation years ago. With no hope from doctors, I put my daughter in God’s hands and now I can testify that miracles exist,” one GoFundMe commenter said. “He is going to be in my prayers for complete recovery.”

Michelle Stern also offered the family well wishes.

“Please get better soon, Tommy. Please give Tommy and his family my love from his favorite Science teacher mom,” Stern said. “The Stern Family will be thinking of all of you!”

Email: daniel.hubbard@patch.com