Missing Maryland man’s body found in Hudson River
According to a press release from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the body of missing man Jaime Kwebetchou, age 27, of Maryland was found on Wednesday, May 15, after the Hoboken Police Department received a report of a body floating in the Hudson River near the Lackawanna Ferry Station at 2:48 p.m.
Responding Hoboken police officers, along with NJ Transit police officers and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit, found the lifeless body as reported. It was removed from the water and secured by Hoboken Fire Department Rescue Team members operating a rescue boat.
He was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m.
The exact cause and manner of death is pending the findings of the Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.
Kwebetchou’s friends and family had not heard from him since May 4, and he was reported missing at the Baltimore Police Department.
Kwebetchou was last seen on Saturday, May 4, at 12:15 a.m. at the Wicked Wolf Tavern at 120 Sinatra Drive in Hoboken. His family reported him missing on May 9.
The Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit is actively investigating the case with assistance from the Hoboken Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor at 201-915-1345 or leave an anonymous tip on the Prosecutor’s Office official website at: http://www.hudsoncountyprosecutorsofficenj.org/homicide-tip/ .
All information will be kept confidential.
Hoboken hosts Jewish Festival of Lag BaOmer on May 23
The Chabad Jewish Center will be hosting their 5th Family fun day on May 23, from 4-6:30 p.m. at Maxwell Place Waterfront Park. The event, open to the public will mark the observance of the Jewish holiday of Lag BaOmer, traditionally commemorated by large outdoor celebrations and bonfires , which harbor spiritual significance.
Chabad-Lubavitch, the largest Jewish outreach organization in the world, is hosting thousands of similar Lag BaOmer celebrations in cities across the globe. The celebrations all share a common theme of unity.
The Hoboken event will include inflatables, a petting zoo, pony rides, knocker-ball, face painting, as well as rides and food, drinks and cotton candy. The event culminates with a kumzitz around the fire.
For more information on The Jewish Center’s Lag BaOmer festivities or on the holiday of Lag BaOmer contact Rabbi Moshe Schapiro at 201.562.7116 or visit our website at www.jewishhoboken.com.
NY Waterway crew rescues pilot of downed helicopter
A NY Waterway ferry crew aboard the “Gov. Thomas Kean” rescued a helicopter pilot from a crash landing in the Hudson River on May 15.
Captain Adam Sciaino was carrying passengers between West 39th Street in Manhattan and 14th Street in Hoboken when he saw the helicopter go down at about 1:20 p.m. This is the second rescue performed by Sciaino during his ten-year career with the company.
Deckhand Edwin Montoya deployed a rescue device called “Jason’s Cradle,” off the bow of the ferry and pulled the pilot aboard. No one else was in the helicopter.
“It was just instinct,” Sciaino said. “Just another day for NY Waterway rescues. We’re right here. Edwin Montoya is an outstanding deckhand. He moved instantly to the rescue.”
In 32 years, NY Waterway crews have rescued almost 300 people from the waters of the Hudson River, including 143 people who were rescued from U.S. Airways Flight 1549, dubbed the “Miracle on the Hudson,” in the most successful marine rescue in aviation history.
Mayor announces council slate
In a press release sent Thursday, May 16, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced five members of his slate for the upcoming November municipal election in which residents will elect six new ward council members. The Team Bhalla slate of candidates are Migdalia Pagan-Milano for the first ward, Nora Martinez DeBenedetto in the Second Ward, Lisa Sprengle in the Fourth Ward, Phil Cohen in the Fifth Ward, and Cristin Cricco Powell in the Sixth Ward.
According to the release, Pagan-Milano is a lifelong resident who began working with the community as an assistant in the city’s Cultural Affairs Department where she helped organize Hoboken’s first Pride week. Currently, Migdalia works in the newly reconstituted Department of Constituent Affairs where she finds solutions to residents’ day-to-day issues.
Martínez DeBenedetto is a lifelong resident and is a teacher at Kaplan Cooperative Preschool. She coordinates Art in the Park for the city and was a founding member and volunteer organizer of the Hoboken Uptown Farmers Market for 10 years. Sprengle is an attorney, accountant, and a mom. She currently works as the Controller for a New York-based company where she is involved in legal, finance, accounting, human resources, and store construction.
Cohen is an attorney and a longtime community activist who has served on a number of city and community boards, including the Zoning Board. He currently serves on the Rebuild by Design Citizens Advisory Group and as the Hoboken Democratic Party Chair.
Annual “7th Inning Stretch: 7 10-minute plays about baseball” announced
Mile Square Theatre will celebrate Hoboken’s legendary claim as the birthplace of baseball during its annual 10-minute play festival, “7th Inning Stretch: 7 10-minute plays about baseball” on May 31, June 1, and June 2.
Since 2003 MST has commissioned some of America’s most celebrated playwrights to create short work on the theme of baseball.
This year’s writers include Greg DePaul (Bride Wars), James Hindman (Popcorn Falls), Mona Pirnot (EST Youngblood), Richard Vetere (Gangster Apparel, Caravaggio), Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder (The Light of the World), Antu Yacob (Mourning Sun), and Ruth Zamoyta (The Caregivers).
“This is our 15th year of premiering 10-minute baseball plays, and once again, we have an accomplished and diverse roster of playwrights for the Stretch,” said MST Artistic Director and producer of the festival, Chris O’Connor. “The plays are moving, funny, and so entertaining. It makes for a unique evening of theatre that our audience eagerly anticipates every year. The Stretch never fails to dazzle, and they’re never disappointed. The entire event is a benefit for Mile Square Theatre, and I’m always moved by the number of theatre artists who volunteer their time to create the show.”
Performances will be at the Mile Square Theatre at 1400 Clinton St. June 1 at 8 p.m. and June 2 at 3 p.m.
On May 31, the Tripple Play Party will be at 7 p.m. before curtain at 8 p.m. Attendees can mingle with the actors and the board. Food and drink will be served.
Tickets available at www.milesquaretheatre.org, or by calling 201-683-7014.
Tickets are $30, and $18 for students and seniors. Tickets for the Tripple Play Party are $75.
OLG Funfest announced
The 14th Annual OLG FunFest will take place Sunday, June 2, in Hoboken’s Church Square Park and the surrounding area.
“OLG’s Funfest is one of Hoboken’s best summer events — with activities for the whole family,”said Chris Gizzo, FunFest chair. “Every year, over 100 parishioners look forward to organizing the event and bringing the community together.”
The fest begins the night before on Saturday, June 1, from 6 to 10 p.m. with The OLG NiteFest.
The parking lot next to Our Lady of Grace Church, at 400 Willow Ave., will be transformed into an outdoor biergarten The Thirsty Monk, where visitors will enjoy craft beers, sangria, music by DJ Tim Nelson, a variety of food, and a used-book sale.
A Tricky Tray will feature a signed and framed poster of NY Jets Defensive End Leonard Williams. There will also be games of chance for adults and activities for kids.
The OLG Cornhole Tournament will return for the third year sponsored by Willie McBride’s. The tournament begins at 6 p.m. Teams can register in advance by sending an email to email@example.com. There is a $20 entry fee per team. Participants must be 21 years old or older.
The winner will receive the Willie’s Cup and a free happy hour at Willie McBride’s. The following day OLG FunFest will continue from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Church Square Park, between Fourth and Fifth streets on Willow Avenue.
Children will enjoy pony rides, face-painting, bouncy houses, and an inflatable slide. Adults can check out the festival’s various vendors (selling art, jewelry and more), the Tricky Tray, used book sale and a 50/50 raffle. A variety of food trucks will also be on hand.
Refreshments, games of chance, and music by DJ Nelson will continue at The Thirsty Monk.
Proceeds from the NiteFest and FunFest will go toward the restoration of Our Lady of Grace Church. Listed on the U.S. and N.J. Register of Historic Places, the church features paintings and vessels from European royalty.
Tours are at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Visitors will have the chance to learn more about the history and treasures of this restored 1876 German Gothic Cathedral-style church.
Following each tour, a concert will be presented by Our Lady of Grace Music Director Kathleen McNally, who will play the historic and majestic custom-built 1909 Wirsching Grand Organ.
The FunFest is held rain or shine. In case of inclement weather, the bouncy houses, face- painting and children’s activities will be held in Our Lady of Grace School, next to the church.
Admission to both the NiteFest and FunFest is free.
Please check the website at http://www.olgfunfest.com/ for more details.
Legalized recreational marijuana will be put to a vote
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney has announced that after months of struggling to reach an agreement on the legalization of recreational marijuana he is ending efforts to pass such a bill through New Jersey’s legislature. Legislators supporting legalization failed to secure enough votes for any hope of the bill to pass.
Sweeney announced that a referendum will be cast in November 2020, which will effectively leave the fate of legalization in the hands of voters over a year from now.
Sweeney also said that he would be moving forward with two related bills. One bill, which currently has bipartisan support, aims to expand New Jersey’s medical marijuana program.
According to this bill, patients would be able to receive medical marijuana in topical, edibles, and oils. Currently, only minors can receive marijuana in concentrated forms, whereas adult patients can only buy the drug in its raw form.
This bill also removes the two-ounce limit on 30-day supplies that patients can receive for their conditions. Instead, patients would be able to receive marijuana at any quantity prescribed by a physician; if they don’t get a quantity prescribed, their supply could be given at the discretion of a treatment center.
The other proposed bill is aimed at expunging criminal records of individuals found guilty of marijuana possession charges in quantities up to five pounds. What’s unclear about the proposed expungement bill is how it can be worded to clear the names of those convicted of possession and distribution charges, given that possession and distribution of marijuana will be considered crimes until recreational marijuana is legalized.
Before Sweeney’s announcement, the state Department of Health announced it has amended New Jersey’s medical marijuana rules, reducing registration fees, adding new medical conditions to qualify, and expanding the forms for consuming medical marijuana.
“These rules solidify key program reforms to ensure greater patient access to this effective therapy,” Health Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “With these changes, the department will be able to add conditions more rapidly, remove barriers for minors and increase supply of product available.”
The rule reduces the registration fee for qualifying patients and their caregivers from $200 to $100, and adds seniors and military veterans to those eligible for the reduced registration fee of $20. It authorizes qualifying patients to designate up to two primary caregivers instead of just one.
The new rules, which will appear in the New Jersey Register on May 20, add seven “debilitating medical conditions” including PTSD, by statutory enactment; and six new conditions that include anxiety, chronic pain of visceral origin, chronic pain related to musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, Tourette syndrome, and Opioid Use Disorder. The rules also expand the forms of medical marijuana available in New Jersey to include oil-based formulations, like vape cartridges.
Additionally, the rule includes the following changes that will go into effect upon publication:
• Creating a separate permitting system for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing marijuana for medical purposes, which would increase the available supply of, and patient access to, usable marijuana and allow for specialization in the market
• Streamlining the process to petition for the addition of “debilitating medical conditions” by removing the requirement that petitions first be referred to the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel
• Emphasizing the advisory role of the Medicinal Marijuana Review Panel to include the provision of guidance and recommendations to the State Health Commissioner regarding the medical use of marijuana
• Removing the requirement of psychiatric evaluation as a condition of physician certification of minors as qualifying patients
There are currently 46,300 patients, 950 doctors and 1,850 caregivers participating in the program.
Patients and caregivers can visit the Medicinal Marijuana Program’s website and refer to the FAQ section for additional information. An unofficial copy of the rules is available on the Department’s website: https://nj.gov/health/medicalmarijuana/program-rules/.
NJ extends statute of limitations for sexual abuse
The statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases in New Jersey has received a major extension. Victims of sexual abuse will now have a much broader ability to sue those who assault them and seek damages from any institutions that assisted sexual abusers in keeping any form of abuse under wraps.
Prior to the passing of this bill, New Jersey granted survivors of sexual abuse two years to pursue litigation. Victims who were sexually abused as children could only file a lawsuit two years after their 18th birthday.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill on May 13, granting victims of child sexual abuse the ability to have their day in court up until they turn 55, or within a seven-year window of when they first realized they were abused as children.
The bill also has a retroactive component. Any victims who were denied the ability to sue their abusers based on the former statute of limitations will have a two-year window to seek damages once the bill goes into effect on Dec. 1, 2019.
While advocates for victims of child abuse at SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests) sang the new law praises, the Catholic Church has been a steadfast opponent of this bill.
“While we disagreed on specific elements of this legislation, the Catholic community, the legislature, and the Governor sincerely agree on one key position- the need to restore justice for the victims of sexual abuse in New Jersey,” Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of the Newark Archdiocese said. “The Catholic community is confident that the Independent Victims Compensation Program established by the five dioceses in New Jersey is a significant step towards restoring justice for those who, as minors, were abused by ministers of the Church.”
In February, all Catholic Dioceses in New Jersey released the names of 188 clergymen who were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children that were in their records since the 1940s.