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Seniors cruised in extravagance on the Hudson River. Photo by Art Schwartz.

Senior party cruise goes off without a hitch

About 175 seniors from North Bergen and 70 seniors from Guttenberg partied on the decks of a Spirit Cruise vessel on July 12, on an annual senior boat ride around the lower tip of Manhattan and back again.

Each year, the Hudson County Board of Freeholders-sponsored event offers a free river cruise that includes a gourmet buffet, live entertainment from several singers, and a DJ spinning a mix of dance tunes.

The clear, warm weather was perfect for a sightseeing tour past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower, and up the East River to the Brooklyn Bridge. Along the way, an onboard host provided a running commentary describing local sights and attractions on either side.

The county-wide senior cruises, which send about 2,400 seniors out on the water each year, are coordinated by Catherine Macchi of Hudson County’s Office on Aging. Karen Pianese and Alyssa Davison coordinated the planning, tickets, and transportation in North Bergen.

83rd St. railroad crossing closed until July 26

The Department of Transportation announced that the 83rd Street railroad crossing will be closed for rehabilitation until July 26.

Traffic will be diverted to Tonnelle Avenue, 70th Street, 69th Street, and Westside Avenue. The existing railroad crossing at 83rd Street will be removed so that a new concrete crossing can be installed, with new asphalt approaches.

The traffic detour will be coordinated with the North Bergen Police Department, and drivers are encouraged to plan their trips accordingly.

‘Alyssa’s Law’ inspires federal school security legislation

Legislation was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to expand a New Jersey Law to the federal level that requires schools to install at least one silent panic alarm to protect students during emergencies.

The law (formerly A-764) is known as “Alyssa’s Law,” and was named after former New Jersey resident Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old who was one of 17 people killed during last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stonemason Douglass High School in Parkland, Fla. It was enacted in New Jersey a few months ago.

Bipartisan federal legislation seeking nationwide expansion of that law was introduced by Texas Rep. Roger Williams and Florida Rep. Ted Deutch.

Supporters of the bill see it as a common sense response to an increasing number of school shootings reported around the country, both before and after Parkland. Silent alarms are seen as one of many tools that could deescalate threatening situations and quicken the reaction time for first responders in any emergency event, including but not limited to active school shootings.

The federal legislation would also create grant programs for public schools to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities in security infrastructure.

NJ Transit adopts 2020 budget

NJ Transit has adopted its 2020 budget, which includes a $2.39 billion operating budget along with a $1.42 billion capital program.

There will be no fare increases in the upcoming year, NJ Transit reports.

Over 40 percent of the upcoming budget will come from passenger revenue. The remaining amount comes from a combination of commercial revenue, and aid from New Jersey and the federal government.

This year’s budget saw a $150 million increase in the general fund, which will total $457.5 million.

The capital program funds will go toward keeping stations and infrastructure in good condition, investments in the Northeast Corridor, safety initiatives, bus and rail car purchases, Positive Train Control installation, system expansion, and support for local mobility programs.

Sixty-one percent of the operating budget will be dedicated to labor and benefit costs. Eleven percent will be dedicated toward contracted transportation services, with the remaining 28 percent dedicated toward materials, fuel and power, utilities, and outside services.

The agency also plans to expand personnel in practically all of its departments. This includes 22 additional bus operators and related support staff and five new operators on the Newark Light Rail. Additional trainees will be inducted into conductor and engineer training programs. Nineteen additional NJ Transit officers will patrol the system.

The budget will also fund transit service to the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, including $8 million for bus drivers and buses.

Summer heat and medication are a dangerous mix for seniors

Synergy Homeware, a local at-home senior care provider, issued a release warning of the dangers that seniors on medication experience during heat waves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that the current hot weather and various types of medications can prove to be a dangerous mix, especially for seniors. Roughly 80-86 percent of seniors are taking some kind of medication.

Seniors are more prone to heat stroke and heat-related stress because their bodies can’t adjust to sudden changes in temperature, and seniors who take certain prescription medications are more susceptible to heat-related injuries and illnesses.

Some medications more than others pose serious health risks when used during hot weather events.

Antidepressants and antihistamines act on an area of the brain that controls the skin’s ability to make sweat. If a person can’t sweat, they’re at risk of overheating.

Beta-blockers reduce the ability of the heart or the lungs to adapt to stresses, including hot weather, and increase a person’s likelihood of heat stroke and other illnesses.

Amphetamines raise body temperature.

Diuretics act on kidneys and encourage fluid loss. This can quickly lead to dehydration in hot weather.

Sedatives can reduce a person’s awareness of physical discomfort which means symptoms of heat stress may be ignored.

Ephedrine/ Pseudoephedrine, found in over-the-counter decongestants, decreases blood flow to the skin and impacts the body’s ability to cool down.

Ways to counter the impact that medications might have on heat stroke include staying hydrated, wearing light-colored, thin, loose-fitting clothes, staying indoors during midday hours, avoiding exercise and strenuous activity, and staying in air-conditioned places.

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