Commuters won’t be on the hook to fund the Gateway Tunnel

Governors Phil Murphy and Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to establish a commission to facilitate construction of the Gateway Tunnel, a roughly $30 billion project which would replace Northeast Corridor rail tubes beneath the river that were severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy, along with the Portal North Bridge, which carries trains across the Hackensack River in New Jersey.

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The commission would be able to apply for federal, state, and local grants to receive funding. As of now, it doesn’t appear that the creation of the commission would give New York and New Jersey increased leverage in receiving more funding from the Department of Transportation.

As the tubes languish, New York and New Jersey have been embattled in attempts to fund the project, after President Donald Trump nixed an Obama-era deal in which the Department of Transportation agreed to fund 50 percent of the construction costs.

Experts from the Regional Plan Association say that if one of the tubes fails before a new one is constructed, the Northeast would face a projected $16 billion in losses.

According to a bill signed July 22 by the governors of New Jersey and New York, commuters will not be funding the roughly $12.9 billion project thrugh surcharges on train tickets. The legislation indicates that New Jersey will fund its portion of the project through the Transportation Trust Fund.

Both states agreed to fund the project in a 50-50 split with the federal government. Neither Murphy nor Cuomo  show signs of budging on that prior arrangement.

Weehawken elects new superintendent of schools

The Weehawken Board of Education announced at its recent meeting that it’s selected Dr. Eric Crespo as the new superintendent of schools.

The Board of Education took a vote at a special meeting on July 2, after seeking feedback from more than 200 stakeholders, including parents, administrators, teachers, staff, and fellow board members through discussion, meetings, and an online survey.

Crespo will begin working in September, for the 2019-2020 school year.

For the rest of the summer, Assistant Superintendent Francesca Amato will take over as acting superintendent until Crespo’s contract begins.

‘The Sopranos’ will be hanging out in Secaucus

On November 23 and 24, members of the cast and crew from “The Sopranos” will be at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus for SopranosCon, which will be Sopranos meets Comic-Con.

Lead characters will attend, including Tony Sirico, Federico Castelluccio, Vincent Pastore, Vincent Curatola, David Proval, Ray Abruzzo, Matt Serviette, Dan Grimaldi, John Fiore, Frank Santarelli, Al Sapiens, Joseph Balducco Jr., and many more.

Tony Soprano’s horse, “Pie-o-My,” is listed on the lineup.

A street festival-themed event will showcase local Italian cultural staples, including food, art, music, and various performances. There will be fan art galleries, exhibits, screenings, panel discussions, trivia, constume contests, and more.

The event was organized by die-hard fans. Tickets start at $50.

NJ Young Democrats make waves at biennial national convention

Young Democrat groups from across the country converged on Indianapolis for their biennial convention. New Jersey was there in force with a delegation covering 11 counties. A majority came from Hudson County, with Delegation Chair Aimee Focaraccio, who is the national committeewoman for the Young Democrats of New Jersey and the president of the Hudson County chapter.

“This was an amazing convention, we doubled the amount of delegates from two years ago in Dallas, we helped to elect the first African American President in the history of the organization, Joshua Harris-Till of Oklahoma, as well as a phenomenal slate of leaders from across the country,” Focaraccio said.

The New Jersey Young Democrats appointed a number of new caucus leaders, including Aimee Focaraccio, treasurer of the Women’s Caucus; Antonia Spano, regional director of the Environmental Caucus; Dana Jordan, policy director of the Environmental Caucus; Jacob Bernard, regional director of the Veterans Caucus; Josie Martinez, secretary of the Hispanic Caucus; Adrian Ballesteros, treasurer of the Hispanic Caucus; and Matthew Steinbaum, chief of staff of the High School Caucus.

JC Historic Downtown hosts Feel Good Friday

Jersey City’s Historic Downtown Special Improvement District (SID) will host an art market, bringing in about 30 vendors for a unique, outdoor shopping experience at the Grove PATH Plaza.

Local artists and artisans will sell a variety of indie and handmade items from vendors. There will be vintage products, artwork, fashion supplies, home decor, bath and body products, jewelry, vinyl, and more.

Jersey City to host flood resiliency information sessions

The Jersey City Planning Board will host a number of information sessions to provide community updates on the city’s ongoing flood resiliency efforts. The city will touch on work that’s currently being done, future planning, and coordination with other city entities regarding the city’s ongoing resiliency efforts.

On Aug. 6, a meeting will be held at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 40 Sullivan Drive. On Aug. 12, a meeting will be held in the council caucus room at 280 Grove Street. On Aug. 28, a meeting will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, at 499 Broadway.

Weekend of cultural festivals takes over Union City

Union City has two huge cultural festivals coming up.

On August 3, from noon until 8 p.m., the Jose Marti Freshman Academy at 1800 Summit Ave. will host a Moroccan Cultural Festival, with live performances, a soccer tournament, rides, and other activities for attendees of all ages.

The festival was organized by Moroccan Designer Khadijah Mouh.

For both festivals, the city will provide free transportation from 4545 Palisade Ave., 3911 Kennedy Blvd., 39th St. and Bergen Turnpike, 3700 Palisade Plaza Apartments, Bella Vista Apartments, 1509 Bergenline Ave., 500 Central Ave., 1104 Palisade Ave., 1015 Central Ave., 380 Mountain Rd., 49th St. and Hudson Ave., and the Doric Apartments.

The city will also host a Peruvian Cultural Festival in celebration of Peruvian Independence Day on Aug. 4 from noon until 7 p.m. The festival will take place on 24th Street, stretching from Central Avenue to Bergenline Avenue.

North Bergen officers show Junior Police Academy the ropes

North Bergen’s 2019 Junior Police Academy kicked off its crash course in law enforcement on July 22. There were police facility tours, and a judge gave an overview of the municipal court system.

The week-long event included tours of the Hudson County Correctional Center, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Manhattan, and a trip to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Law Enforcement Museum and FBI Headquarters.

The academy includes plenty courses on fingerprinting, polygraphs, crime scene processing, and defensive tactics.

Weehawken Whole Foods is officially open

Whole Foods’ new Weehawken location, at 1400 Waterfront Terrace in Lincoln Harbor is officially open. The 32,000-square-foot store celebrated its grand opening by providing a long line of customers with free Balthazar Bakery pastries and Cafe Grumpy coffee before the store opened.

Five percent of net sales on opening day were donated to Weehawken High School’s Culinary Initiative. The store will hire approximately 190 full- and part-time employees, and will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The store’s special features include fresh produce sourced from more than 50 local producers, a full-service butcher department from regional suppliers, a seafood department, an in-house bakery, hot and cold food bars, a full-service coffee bar, a locally-sourced specialty foods section, and a beauty and body care department.

Two Hudson County locals died at Sandy Hook in separate incidents

A woman from North Bergen and a man from Union City both died at Sandy Hook in one week.

A man who was found dead on July 24 at the Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook was identified by Middletown Police as 61-year-old Union City resident Andrei Chichkine. Police say his death is still under investigation but does not appear to be criminal in nature. If anyone saw Chichkine that afternoon, or witnessed anything, police ask them to call the Middletown Detective Bureau at 732-615-2120.

Melissa Fries, a 37-year-old North Bergen woman drowned after she went for a midnight swim on the night of July 20.

Her body washed up on a private beach in the area of Valley Street in Highlands on Sunday morning. Her death was ruled as an accidental drowning.

Second annual Hoboken Pride Week events announced

Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the City of Hoboken, and the Hoboken Pride Group present Hoboken’s second annual Pride Week public activities, from Aug. 8 through 18.

On Thursday, Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. the Hoboken Public Library will host Vogue Ball History & Performances at 500 Park Ave.

On Friday, Aug. 9 at 10 a.m. the city will have a flag-raising at 94 Washington St.

On Sunday, Aug. 11 from noon to 4 p.m., there will be a Drag Brunch at Birch Restaurant & Bar, 92 River St.

On Monday, Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. there will be a Hoboken Pride 2019 Welcome Event at  La Casa Restaurant, 54 Newark St.

On Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 6:30 p.m. there will be a Gender Open Parenting Workshop, giving kids more space to discover their gender, at the library, 500 Park Ave.

On Wednesday, Aug. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be free haircuts and hair advice for queer and transgender youth offered at Hair Cult Salon & Spa, 1124 Washington St. At 7:30 p.m. Bike Hoboken will host a Pride Ride throughout Hoboken. Starting locale to be determined. Check Hoboken Pride or Bike Hoboken facebook page for more details.

On Thursday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. there will be a wine and cheese mixer. RSVP is required because space is limited.

For more information or to RSVP contact

On Sunday, Aug. 18 at noon YouTube Channel LGBTQ Star, Lindsey of Queer Kid Stuff, will entertain kids ages 5 to 12 at 500 Park Ave.

The Hoboken Pride Group organized the week’s activities and is led by Hoboken’s LGBTQ+ liaison, Laura Knittel, and Migdalia Pagan-Milano from Hoboken’s Office of Constituent Affairs.

Hoboken’s tenant advocate to have open office hours

Hoboken’s tenant advocate, Andrew Sobel, Esq. will have open office hours for any Hoboken resident seeking advice on housing matters.

Sobel will be available during office hours, by appointment, between 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 1, Aug. 15, and Aug. 29 in the basement conference room in city hall at 94 Washington St.

Hoboken residents wishing to attend must email or call Sobel at (201)-338-7411 and provide a description of the issue.

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