Captain Nichelle Luster
Captain Nichelle Luster

Capt. Nichelle Luster named acting chief of police in Union City

Union City Police Capt. Nichelle Luster has been named acting chief of the department following the retirement of Chief Richard Molinari.

Molinari, who held the position since 2013, is scheduled to retire Dec. 1 and has named Luster as his temporary replacement, according to local media reports.

Capt. Luster worked her way up through the ranks as a member of the Union City Police Department since 1994, holding several positions before becoming the first female captain on the force in 2013.

If confirmed as chief of police she would become Hudson County’s female to hold that position.

If named chief permanently, Luster said she hopes it will be the result of her “ability in the department and my service to the community of Union City, as opposed to being based on my gender,” she said.

“I do, however, recognize that it would be a first.”

Luster served in the U.S. Army, as a military police officer in Germany, the United States, and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba during the Haitian refugee crisis of 1992. She then volunteered with Union City Emergency Medical Services before becoming a police officer.

She spent five years on loan to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit and most recently worked in Molinari’s office as an accreditation officer. The Union City Police Department met the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ high standards for accreditation for the first time last year under Molinari’s watch.

Chief Molinari has retired after 30 years with the department, receiving high marks from fellow local leaders in law enforcement, according to local reports.

On Twitter, Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante, North Bergen Police Chief Robert Dowd, and Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly all praised Molinari for his service

Prior to becoming a police officer in August 1988, Molinari served as a volunteer member of the Union City Ambulance Corps.

Hudson County Community College to offer $15 minimum wage

After Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise issued an executive order granting a $15 per hour minimum wage for all non-union county employees, Hudson County Community College (HCCC) President Chris Reber announced the university has done the same.

HCCC adopted a resolution to pay all non-union employees – including part-time staff – the $15 per hour minimum pay.

“County Executive Tom DeGise has led on this issue for many years,” said Reber. “Our Board Chair William Netchert, the Board of Trustees and I share the county executive’s view, and we are taking action on this issue. Since I arrived at HCCC, I have been struck by the dedication and commitment of our faculty and staff. This resolution will benefit our employees and their families, and the increase will not impact the tuition paid by our students.”

The HCCC Board of Trustees approved implementing the wage increase resolution at its Nov. 20 meeting.

The increase, which will be retroactive to Nov. 1, will impact 199 non-union, part-time HCCC employees at an additional cost to the college of $476,000 a year.

“I am pleased to see that the Community College has made this choice,” said DeGise. “President Reber and Chairman Netchert and the Board have shown that you can maintain high standards, operate within a budget and treat your employees fairly. It is also an implicit lesson for their students about the values we stand for as a county.”

HCCC and Fairleigh Dickinson University sign dual-admission agreement

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) and Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) have signed a dual-admission agreement that allows students to complete their Associate of Applied Science degree in Construction Management at HCCC and transition to the Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering Technology program at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU).

Under the terms of the dual admission agreement, students who are enrolled in the HCCC Construction Management Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program may apply to the FDU Construction Engineering Technology Baccalaureate program. Once students have completed their A.A.S. degree at HCCC, they will be granted 52 credits in the FDU Baccalaureate program.  Students in the HCCC-FDU dual admission program are eligible for a 40 percent reduction in the FDU tuition rate upon completing their Associate’s degree. Merit scholarships and housing grants are also available to qualified students.

The HCCC Construction Management A.A.S. classes are held at the Journal Square campus in the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) building. A lab dedicated to Construction Management is outfitted with cutting edge equipment generally found only in leading four-year colleges and universities. The HCCC coursework educates students about new construction methods, protocols, materials, testing procedures, codes, contracts, specifications, technical report writing, and cost estimation and management principles. The HCCC program also supports students in entering externship programs for hands-on experience.

Food assistance now open to students

At Middlesex County College this week, state officials announced that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, will expand to recognize all approved Career and Technical Education Programs at NJ community colleges. Students who meet SNAP income eligibility standards and participate in these training programs will now have access to food assistance. In 2017, 67,000 students were enrolled in these career and technical education programs, with an estimated 45 percent considered low-income based on financial aid records, according to the Council on County Colleges. The changes will begin next month.

New Jersey pays $2.4 M to Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Thursday the state settled with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, and will pay the tribe $2.4 million. The state will officially proclaim it has recognized the 3,000-member Native American tribe, but it made no admission of wrongdoing in the agreement. In 2012, the state decided to no longer recognize three tribes. In 2015, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe filed civil rights lawsuits after trying to negotiate with the Christie administration. The tribe lauded the new settlement.

FBI and NJ ask public to help curb hoax threats

New Jersey’s Homeland Security director announced Thursday that the state is working with the FBI to launch #ThinkBeforeYouPost, an anti- “hoax threat” awareness campaign. False or non-credible threats have affected Lakewood, where a student was arrested; Mahwah, which added extra patrols to a school; and Paterson, where 15 schools undertook emergency precautions on Halloween. Hoax threats made in texts, emails, or social media are a crime that can be prosecuted federally, with up to five years in prison.