My Life Publications Online Local Community News for New Jersey Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:37:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Totowa Bagels Bring Bagels with a Unique Twist to Town Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:37:22 +0000 By: Lindsey Kelleher

First Raied Muheisen’s uncle Sam went into the bagel business.

Then Raied’s cousin Mike started making and selling bagels.

Years later, Raied, 29, of Clifton, and his brother Rizek Muheisen, 27, took after their relatives and went into the bagel business. 

The brothers opened Totowa Bagels in November 2017, and now a little over two years later the shop is known for its specialty-flavored bagels and attracts hundreds of locals every day.

“There’s a crowd here every morning,” said Raied, noting that local police officers, EMS workers and construction workers are among the many locals who frequent the store on a regular basis.

They line up to get Arabica coffee, muffins and of course the bagels.

The plain, French Toast flavored, and cinnamon raisin are among some of the most popular for their unique flavors.

“People say our French Toast bagels are to die for, which are made with honey and soaked in butter,” Raied said, noting that each bagel is hand-rolled and baked every morning using their specialty recipe.

“And in our cinnamon raisin bagels, you can see the swirls of cinnamon,” he said.

When it comes to the holidays, Totowa Bagels does something special too. The plain-flavored bagels are made with organic food coloring in different colors, representing each holiday. For St. Patrick’s Day, the store will be selling green bagels. For Halloween, the bagels are orange. On Valentine’s Day, they are red. And for Christmas, they are red and green.

Year-round, customers can buy value packs where they buy 12 bagels and get four for free or they can buy 6 bagels and get two for free. Bagels are sold individually and by the dozen for $11.40.

At the end of each day, no bagels go to waste.

Totowa Bagels donates any leftover bagels from the day to Little Sisters of the Poor, which is part of St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly. The Little Sisters assist residents who live at the home, which is in Totowa, with everyday living needs.

“Every day the residents have bagels to eat. It’s really nice for them,” said Carron Edwards, 57.

Edwards delivers the bagels from Totowa Bagels to St. Joseph’s Home for the Elderly.

Local performer Uncle Floyd does shows three to four times a week at Totowa Bagels.

In the future, Raied said he hopes to continue building a strong customer base and making great-quality bagels. He hopes his children Husam, 6, Jalal, 4, and Norah, 2, will grow to enjoy the bagel business as well, just like how he took after his uncle and cousin.

Totowa Bagels is located at 159 Union Boulevard, Totowa, NJ 07512. Phone: 973-925-4008.

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Top Spellers Compete at Memorial Middle School Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:34:15 +0000 Memorial Middle School in Woodland Park recently held its 2020 Spelling Bee with 30 competitors. The top three spellers were Ava Beirne, third place; Jason Turkel, second place; and Daniella Mencia, first place.​

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Woodland Park Honors Championship Winning Soccer Squad Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:31:45 +0000 The Woodland Park Mayor and Council recently honored the West Paterson Soccer League (WPSA) championship winning Alliance squad.
The WPSA Alliance was recognized for their taking first place in the Morris County Youth Soccer Association’s U-15B Flight 1, Fall 2019 Championship Games, under coaches Rick Fasoli and Joe Busciglio. The team includes: Erwin Aguilar, Carlos Alva, David Bruno, Joseph Busciglio, Anthony Castrillon, Irahim Elzibak, Nicco Fasoli, Justin Granizo, Wesam Harb, Kaden Matari, Mateo Moreno, Ryan Muriel, Joshua Paez, Jerry Rafael, Nick Rossolillo, Jake Torres, Luca Vapore and Chase White.

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PVHS Band Wins First State Title in 34 Years Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:28:58 +0000 The Woodland Park Borough Council recently recognized the Passaic Valley High School Marching Band for taking first place in its division in the USBands New Jersey State Championship. The band took the state title, its first in 34 years, competing against five others in division Group 1A. It also won for best visual, best overall effect and best color guard.

Honored were band director Michael DeLuccia, assistant Chris DeWilde, arrangers James Butcher and Russel Monte, color guard director Erin Colgan, drill designer Ken Sadowsky and band members Raven Abbe, Alex Ack, Christie Ack, May Bilek, Patrick Calvano, Nicholas Cooper, Michaela Cottone, Selin Deniz, Daniel Dransfield, Rosalind Friedrich, Daniela Gencarelli, Michael Hearney, Mark Huggins, Bianca Ionescu, Jeremy Kalokitis, Daniel Kania, Grace Martinez, Christopher Miles, Nicholas Minadeo, Sarah Mitchell, Lauren Nelson, Jaylene Nogueira, Alexandra Paese, Zachary Parente, Mia Preziosi, Michael Preziosi, Erin Riley, Gabriel Rodriguez, Evan Sanchez, Kristen Schubert, Isabella Semeraro, Chyna Sinclair, Kendra Smith, Aidan Timms and Francesco Vincenti.

The band, at the state championship that was held on Nov. 3, 2019, bested its competition with a score of 87.665. PV went into the championship competition on a winning streak of four weeks in a row of bringing home a trophy, including a first place win at the Yamaha Cup.

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Police Chaplain Installed at WPPD Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:26:40 +0000 Pastor Joel La Torre was recently sworn in as Police Chaplain for the Woodland Park Police Department. This new
position was created by the Council in late 2019 via ordinance. Founder and lead pastor of Living Water Church on
Andrews Drive, Pastor La Torre lives in town with his wife Dinora and their three children. La Torre has served for a
number of years as the local PBA chapter's chaplain and Mayor Keith Kazmark said that police brass wanted to take it a step further. Police Chief Eileen Tiernan pushed for the creation of the position when she was promoted, Kazmark noted. Police chaplains can help community members, families of police officers, law enforcement personnel, suspects, and victims by offering counseling or providing other services, such as referrals to local clergy or mental health professionals. A chaplain's assistance during a crisis can also free officers to fulfill other duties. They help with death notifications and station house adjustments as well.

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After 20 Years, Pencilworks Studio Continues to Teach the Art of Drawing Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:24:15 +0000 By: Lindsey Kelleher

Husband and wife team Jerry and Karen Winick taught art classes out of their home in Woodland Park before they decided they needed a bigger space for teaching.

They moved their classes to a storefront on Main Street in 2000 where H&R Block used to be, and ever since have taught hundreds of adults how to draw with a pencil or colored pencils.

Students in the pencil drawing classes, which are taught by Jerry Winick, have not only learned the art over they years but have also made friends along the way.

“There’s one student who started dating another student. They met through the class,” said Jerry Winick.

“It was really sweet,” added Karen Winick. “They started talking to each other more and more and eventually started spending time together after class.”

Pencilworks is celebrating 20 years of business in Little Falls this year and looking ahead they hope to continue teaching like they have been for the past two decades while bringing people together.

Classes at Pencilworks are like taking private lessons but in a large group, the Winicks said. Students get to choose what picture or object they want to draw, and they draw it. They learn how to hold the pencil and about color tones, different shades of light, and shapes.

The key to becoming a talented drawer, Jerry Winick said, is for people to learn how to draw with their eyes.

“Anyone can draw. It’s very easy once you master it,” he said. 

“I teach students how to draw with their eyes and how to see what they really see,” he explained, noting that often times people look at something and try to interpret it rather than drawing the object or picture how they literally see it.

Jerry Winick recalled a time when one of the students drew a picture of a girl sitting on a rock.

“It took him seven years to finish drawing the picture, but he broke up with the girl long before that,” Jerry Winick said.

Pencilworks Studio also offers painting classes for children under 12, which are taught by Karen Winick, and paint nights and paint parties for groups that are B.Y.O.B. 

The paint parties at Pencilworks are different from those at other art shops and studios because each person gets to choose a picture to paint rather than everyone painting the same picture. 

People can also buy pencil drawings by Jerry Winick which can be found hanging up inside the studio.

Pencilworks Studio is also known for its framing work. The business frames certificates, custom mirrors, paintings, prints, photos, portraits, posters, memorabilia, and sports jerseys.

Recently the Winicks framed pictures for the Woodland Park Police Department and did framing work for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

In the future, they hope to offer more team-building events for companies and paint nights at Pencilworks.

Pencilworks Studio is located at 96 Main St., Little Falls, New Jersey. Phone: 973-812-4448. Email: Website:


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Little Falls Biz Honored for Community Service Efforts Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:21:48 +0000 By: Lindsey Kelleher
The Little Falls Business Association, also called Little Falls Biz, recently received a proclamation from the Little Falls Township Council, honoring the group for its service to the community. Little Falls Biz is a non-profit organization that was established in 2013 to advocate for the small businesses’ needs in town.
The organization has coordinated events such as Breakfast with Santa, Family Fun Night, the Fall Festival, and the Annual Block Party. All events are done through sponsorships, according to Little Falls Biz President Karen Winick.
“The events are a great way to showcase the businesses,” said Winick. “We are always encouraging people to join and shop local.”
Upcoming event include Family Fun Night at the Little Falls Public Library, which is scheduled for March 6, at 6:30 p.m., in the library, 8 Warren St., Little Falls. Admission is free. Other upcoming events include the Block Party scheduled for June 11, the Fall Festival scheduled for Sept. 20, and Breakfast with Santa scheduled for Dec. 5.

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LEAD Begins in Woodland Park Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:18:06 +0000 The Woodland Park Police Department has launched LEAD – Law Enforcement Against Drugs – a new program, similar to now defunct DARE program, in local schools.


Officers Omaira Carino and Derrick Morrison recently underwent training to become LEAD program instructors. The program was launched in Beatrice Gilmore School to all fourth grade classes and will begin soon at Memorial School for eighth grade students. 


The law enforcement led education curriculum, “Too Good for Drugs,” puts social and emotional learning to work through fun and interactive lessons, building the self-confidence students need to make healthy choices. The lessons let students learn, practice and master these essential life skills.​ The program partners with parents as well, by sending home information that can help parents reinforce the lessons at home. 


The program is presented in 10 lessons. The first unit is aimed at establishing and developing social and emotional competency skills. The second unit focuses on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and the effects of their use on the body. Additionally, the students learn about refusal strategies, using over the counter and prescription drugs safely and how making healthy choices will impact their life-long wellness.

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I Remember Dad: God and Country Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:15:38 +0000 By Richard Mabey Jr.

Some of the most endearing memories of my Dad are of the times when he served as a Sexton at the Boonton United Methodist Church. Dad loved his church. He dedicated over a decade of his life to cleaning and maintaining his beloved church.

Dad began serving as the Church Sexton in the Summer of 1981. At the time, Dad was still working as a long distance truck driver. Generally speaking, on Wednesday evenings after supper, Dad would climb into his little Ford Ranger pickup truck and drive off to the church to clean it. I often went with Dad.

I really don’t know how my father did it all. When he started working as a Sexton he was 53 years old. I would often see the fatigue in Dad’s eyes as he drove down Route 202, on his way to the church.

Dad would put in two to three hours of cleaning time on Wednesday nights. Then on Saturday mornings, he would get up early and eat breakfast. I often got up early on Saturday mornings, to help him clean the church. Right after breakfast we would make sandwiches. Then, throw in a couple of apples with a few oatmeal cookies in little brown bags. We would make tea and coffee at the church, for our lunch break.

When we got to the church, Dad and I would start vacuuming and scrubbing. I was always amazed at how hard my Dad worked. Dad was an incredibly hard working man. He truly loved his church. Dad did get paid for being the Church Sexton. I don’t think he reported to the Minister, even half of the hours he worked. It was Dad’s way of giving of himself to the Lord.

Dad retired as a long distance truck driver in June of 1989. To my amazement, Dad then devoted even more time to the cleaning and the upkeep of his church. Thus, donating a lot more hours of labor to the church.

Dad served as Sexton of the Boonton United Methodist Church till the Summer of 1992. His bout with prostate cancer, made it nearly impossible for him to carry on his duties as Church Sexton.

In the Spring of 1987, Reverend Leon Weaver presented Dad with the well earned God and Country Award. This is an award given by both the United Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts of America. Dad served as Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 170 for over 25 years. Dad truly earned this prestigious award.

My memories of my Dad are very near and dear to my heart. I truly cherish them. Dad loved the Lord, he loved his family and he loved people. He had an uncanny belief in young people. Dad firmly believed that it was better to teach a boy morals than to rehabilitate a wayward man. I loved my father very much.

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Hickory Hill Cabana and Country Club, Totowa, New Jersey in the early 1960s. Sat, 07 Mar 2020 18:13:14 +0000 Occupying 38 acres off Totowa Road, the club hosted a day camp, a large swimming pool, hundreds of small private cabanas and a full-sized pavilion for Saturday night entertainment and dining services. At the time, Hickory Hill featured well-known entertainers and comedians who appeared at the dinner-dancing Saturday nights during the winter months. Later, in the late ‘60s the club enclosed its pavilions and hosted weddings and other functions. Comedians and musical acts once featured in the likes of the Catskills entertained club and non-club members each Saturday in and off season. 

The club was owned by Saul Kimmelheim and his colleagues Saul’s daughter and family (the Hacks of Wayne) were members. Saul and his wife, Ruth, residents of Clifton, would be seen at the club on a regular basis, conscientious owners who catered to the membership with courtesy and respect. 


Few local residents frequented Hickory Hill in its heyday as the membership was almost exclusively Jewish although two cabanas were reserved for members of the local governing bodies, a practice that may be illegal or simply frowned upon today. Councilman Jim and Lois White, Councilman Joe and Angela Mecca and a sometimes others joined the lively group of summer gatherers. Local insurance agent Jacob (“Jack”) Prince, Jr. and his wife, Doris, their son, Jack of Totowa frequented the club as well. 

The club also had ball fields, tennis courts and later a golf range. However, most members just enjoyed the large cement swimming pool and two diving boards. 

As club members relaxed around the grounds in “chaise lounges” tanning themselves and resting from their often busy professional lives, many women played mah-jong and foursomes of bridge and pinochle players could be found around the shaded areas of the grounds where “waterboys”, wearing khaki shorts and t-shirts emblazoned with the name “Hickory Hill Cabana & Country Club”  would pour from plastic pitchers cool water to the members delivered in small paper cups. Canvassed structures also protected members from the open sun as much of the pool area was treeless. One of the waterboys was former Wayne Mayor and the later Superior Court Judge, David Waks. 

Without cell phones or other ways of communicating outside the club, the membership was connected to the outside world by pay phones and a series of telephones located on the end of each row of cabanas. The central loudspeaker would announce: “Telephone call for Dr. Bill Frost” ….“Telephone call for Dr. Bill Frost”  or a call for some other prominent member. The member would then walk to the phone and take the call. The announcements came all day long on the weekends so it was no secret as to who the other members were although the group was closely knit inside the club and outside the local Jewish community, many of whom were from Passaic, Paterson’s East Side and Wayne. 

Movie night was Wednesdays in the summer and after a good day tanning and enjoying the pool, club members grabbed dinner at the snack bar and moved their lounges and webbed chairs to the large pavilion where movies were shown on a large outdoor screen. Usually that day, a trailer pulling an apparatus to spray the area for mosquitos went through the club emitting large amount of white chemically laced smoke to kill off the pests. 

The club was quieter during the weekdays but it also hosted a summer day camp and nursery on the site with locals such as Jim Marotta, Frankie and Ricky Belmont, Lou Duva’s kids, Denise and Dino, and a handful of other Totowa kids enjoyed being picked up by red and white school buses at their homes in Totowa to be shuttled to and from the club. The bus attendant would call out the names, last name first, Mecca-Tony and Mecca- Joe were on the roster for three years as well. Local Totowa kids like Councilmen Jim and Lois White’s son Jimmy and Jack and Nettie Whitney’s boys Jack and Donald were other locals who enjoyed sunny summer days poolside. S. Howard Wedlake of Totowa was a security guard at the club for many years. 

Maria Mecca (Vallace) was a regular attendee for two years at the club’s nursery program where sisters. Mary Ellen and Linda Lloyd (now Mary Ellen Welk and Linda Vicari, both still current Totowa residents, were nursery camp counselors. The Hack brothers, Evan and Alan, whose grandfather managed the club were also attendees. The nursery offered a half-day program which was probably designed to gives moms a break more than to entertain the children, although the counselors were just as dedicated to the children as were the camp counselors at the day camp who taught swimming in a second location on site, taught nature studies in the woods, instructed in arts and crafts, tennis, volley ball, and a host of other typical day-camp activities. Some kids were bussed off the site at the end of the camp day while others were picked up by their parents and brought up to the club to enjoy the rest of the summer day and evenings. 

 Later in 1985, Totowa residents, Tony and Carole Mecca were among many local residents who held their wedding receptions at the Hickory Hill.  The Paterson Fire Department held its annual dinners there as well. 

Like many local area “swim clubs” and country clubs, their popularity waned with land values becoming so great, development encroaching and club members either aging, moving away or simply being able to afford their own back-yard pools.  Country club life was not the same. 

Like many local clubs, the Hickory Hill came to a close in the 1980s. It was sold for $1 million dollars to a Clifton-based investor who later sold it to developer who razed the club making way for its current development of valuable homes and club amenities still known as Hickory Hill. 

By: Joseph A. Mecca, Esq. Totowa

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