The Mt. Olive News – My Paper Online Online Local Community News for New Jersey Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:53:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ‘Pippin’ To Open At Brundage Park Playhouse Mon, 16 Apr 2018 19:08:51 +0000 Brundage Park Playhouse in Randolph has announced performance dates for its production of “Pippin.”

Performance dates are: April 20, April 21, April 27, April 28, May 4 and May 5 at 8 p.m. p.m., and
April, 22 and April 29 at 2 p.m.
All performances are at the playhouse.

In a story-within-a-story format, this Tony-winnin musical is about a
young prince named Pippin who is trying to find his way in the world, to
live up to his father’s expectations. But will the advice of the
leading player lead Pippin to the happy ending he seeks?

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Adaptive Sports Demonstration Will Celebrate Para Athletics Fri, 13 Apr 2018 19:19:02 +0000 Picatinny Arsenal will host an adaptive sports celebration with demonstrations by para athletes including Veterans and First Responders at County College of Morris Health and Physical Education building on Saturday, April 14 from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Open to the public, The DoD Warrior Game Celebration will showcase wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, racing wheelchairs and archery. The public will have an opportunity to try the para athletic equipment and participate in game demonstrations at the Randolph school.

The purpose of Saturday’s event is to increase awareness and to experience the excitement of adaptive sports and to promote the 2018 DoD Warrior Games that will be held at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on June 2 to 9. Adaptive sports are played by people with disabilities who use modified equipment to meet their needs. Adaptive sports enable veterans and civilians to recover physically and emotionally from debilitating injuries.

Speaking at the celebration will be Brandon Holiday, a seven time Team USA member and seven time National paracanoe kayak sprint champion who will talk about the importance of using sports as a catalyst to heal. Holiday, a decorated police officer who was born in Livingston and now resides in Philadephia, lost his left leg below the knee in 2006 from a blood-clotting condition called antiphospholipid syndrome.

“We want to allow the public the opportunity to meet these incredible athletes, learn about career choices such as engineering, physical therapy and occupational therapy, and see the equipment used in the sports,” said Richard W. Eastman, Jr., civilian aide to the secretary of the Army NJ, and Morris County Chamber of Commerce’s military liaison, who is the organizer of the event. “Not all the athletes are veterans. Some of the para athletes are first responders and non-military, and we want to put a focus on adaptive sports with an educational emphasis.”

One aspect of the celebratory day is to encourage students to find careers that assist the para community. The CCM Engineering department recently announced that it is 50 percent complete in building its first prosthetic leg for donation. The department plans on building these prosthetics for children. CCM School of Health Professionals and Natural Sciences also will have information on specific associate degrees that align with the event’s mission. In addition, CCM has a Veteran Services and encourages those who served and eligible dependents to make full use of their V.A. educational benefits.

Parking for DoD Warrior Games Celebration will be in lot 7 and 8.

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CCM Art Gallery Brimming With Shows Fri, 13 Apr 2018 18:58:45 +0000 During the months of April and May, the Art and Design Gallery at County College of Morris will be filled to the brim with student exhibits.

This year, there will be three exhibits, starting with the Art Club Spring Exhibition, followed by the Photography Program’s thesis exhibit and then CCM’s “Best of the Best” Student Exhibition.

The Photography Program’s thesis show, “Shower Thoughts,” takes place April 16 to April 27. A reception, free and open to the public, will be held Friday, April 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Under the guidance of Professor Hrvoje Slovenc, the Photography Program’s thesis exhibition consists of student work specifically created for the show.

The “Best of the Best” exhibition will be held May 4 to May 18. A reception, free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, May 10, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This annual exhibition provides an opportunity for the community to view outstanding artwork produced by CCM students during the course of the academic year. About 25 student pieces representing each area of the CCM Department of Art and Design – Design, Fine Arts, Graphic Design and Photography – will be on display.

The Art and Design Gallery hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m., Fridays noon to 4 p.m., and the first Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Warren County Community Singers To Celebrate ‘Springfest’ In Song Wed, 11 Apr 2018 19:52:31 +0000 Warren County Community Singers will celebrate 25 years of performances with its “2018 Springfest of Song,” on Saturday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Grace Lutheran Church, Phillipsburg, and Sunday, May 6, at 3 p.m. at the Washington Presbyterian Church.

Two of the Singers’ former music directors will serve as guest conductors at both concerts. Karla Lake, the original conductor, and Bob Riday, will each conduct a song from concerts during their tenure.

A reception will follow the Sunday concert in the church’s fellowship hall.

The singers are a non-audition group of adults, high school age and above, from all around the county and its environs, directed by Hunter Chadeayne.

The associate director/accompanist is Ann Hoyt. The concert also features the Children’s Chorus of Warren County under the direction of Mariah Adams. Laura Rader is accompanist for the Children’s Chorus. The children are age 7 through middle school age with unchanged voices.

Some of the selections chosen for this Springfest include “Jenny Rebecca,” first done by the singers years ago; “Make Them Hear You,” from the musical Ragtime; and the old standard,”Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree.”

Also featured at Springfest will be a performance by a winner of the Warren County music scholarship. The Singers offer scholarships each year as part of their community outreach.

Community Singers perform two primary concerts a year, in the spring and the first weekend in December, and also perform at other venues throughout the year, notably at Belvidere’s Victorian Days in September. New members will be accepted for the fall semester in early September.

The concerts are free and a good will offering is collected.The Children’s Chorus is sponsored by the Singers. Funding comes, in part, from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission.

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Church Hosts Wine Pairing And Auction Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:48:10 +0000 Like FIGS? French, Italian, Greek and Spanish wines. Participants will be tasting wines from those countries on Friday, April 13, at 7 p.m., at Holy Trinity Orthodox Church, Randolph. Pairing of food will be included. This year there will be a special wine auction. Tickets are $35 each or a table of eight for $250. Limited seating. Call Sandra at: 973-691-2653.

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Goddard School Collecting Books For At-Risk Kids Wed, 14 Feb 2018 19:16:11 +0000 The Goddard School in Flanders is collecting new and gently used children’s books to benefit Bridge of Books Foundation, a non-profit organization providing books to underprivileged and at-risk children across New Jersey.
Collection dates are Feb. 12 through March 1. No textbooks, encyclopedias, magazines, adult books, coloring books or workbooks will be accepted.
For more information, call 973-598-1555.

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Being Santa Takes Year-Round Role For Netcong Mayor Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:12:16 +0000 By Elsie Walker

Santa Claus is a busy man all year round, but especially at Christmastime.  He can’t be everywhere at the same time, so he enlists some lookalikes to help him.

One such person can be found in Netcong borough; actually, he’s the mayor.  Mayor Joe Nametko, also known as “Santa Joe,” is a member of the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas (IBRBS) and is a student of the The Santa Claus Conservatory.  This time of year, he is very busy being Santa at both paying venues and volunteer offerings.

Nametko will tell you he’s “465 years old in Santa years, 65 in daily life.”  Although he has only officially been Santa’s stand-in for two years, Nametko’s first time in the red suit was many years ago when, as a sports stringer for a newspaper, he had to appear in a parade as Santa. Also, over the years, people would look at him and comment on how he’d make a good Santa. Thus, being Santa was always something that was in the back of Nametko’s mind, but it was not until he retired from his position at a Fortune 100 company that he was free to grow his beard and be Santa.

Once he decided to become Santa, Nametko took all the steps needed to be the best Santa he could be.  He grew his white beard long; he took “Santa lessons” and was federally background checked and got liability insurance.  He joined the IBRBS for all those Santas with real white beards.

When asked what you learn in Santa school, Nametko noted that it is a number of things including “how to answer 101 questions.”  He said the training is important, especially when faced with the tough questions kids ask like, “my pet just died; can you bring him back to life?”  He’s had such a question posed to him and explained, “No, Santa can only make toys, not bring things to life; but, we can pray together for your pet.”  Nametko said it is important to be prepared with the right answer to such questions.

In addition to doing paying “gigs,” Nametko does pro bono work as an outreach to the community.  His list includes the Netcong-Stanhope Rotary, Netcong Fire Department, Morris County Habitat for Humanity, Netcong Community Partnership (NCP), Marne’s Toy for Tots, St Clare’s Hospital-Denville, St. Clare’s Hospital-Dover and St. Barnabas Hospital-Livingston.

Nametko shared that being Santa is not just a Christmas time thing.  He’s appeared as Santa for Christmas in July events and appeared as Santa at September’s Netcong Day.   In addition, even when he’s just out and about as himself, children still recognize that man with the white beard.

“Kids, whether I’m in the suit or not, will run up and hug me,” Nametko shared. “Even adults want to take a selfie with me.”

Nametko said that when any “Santa” puts on the suit, “you take on the persona.”  He’ll also tell you, that he’s been a Santa at heart all his life.

Santa Joe can be contacted about appearances at or for booking 2017 appearances at:

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Faiths Join Hands To Help Local Food Pantry Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:11:22 +0000 By Elsie Walker

Just before Thanksgiving, some area youths and adults were standing by a table outside Sam’s Club in Budd Lake.

They were holding a bake sale to benefit the Mount Olive Food Pantry; they also handed out fliers with a list of goods the pantry could use in case people wanted to shop and then make a donation of food.

The effort, however, was not just about helping others; it was about coming together as communities of faith.

The bake sale was put on by the Mt. Olive Interfaith Alliance.  Baked goods for the sale were contributed by alliance member places of worship -Abiding Peace Lutheran Church, the Islamic Society of North Jersey, and United Presbyterian Church of Flanders- and a local family.  Manning the table during two shifts were nine adults and eight children from the alliance. They collected three shelves worth of donated food and raised $374 for the pantry. Afterwards, some of the children shared their experience.

Vanessa Ponce, 13, of the Mt. Olive area, said the sale was fun and “we were helping out other families and kids who didn’t have food for Thanksgiving.”

Lamees Sattar, also 13, of Mt. Olive said she liked “being surprised at how generous and kind people can be. It is wonderful knowing how much people can care.”

Ponce attends Abiding Peace Lutheran Church with her brothers Alex, 8, and Marco, 11. The brothers took care of telling people the prices of baked goods and wishing them a “Happy Thanksgiving.”

Alex Ponce noted that he liked when people brought food donations to them, while his brother liked meeting the people from the other churches who came to help.

Maddox Rice, 8 and his sister Alaina 10, of Montgomery Township are the children of Vicar Serena Rice of the Abiding Peace Lutheran Church.  Maddox Rice said it is important for kids of other faiths to do projects together to become better friends.

His sister, Alaina, 10, shared his feelings about the importance of an interfaith project. She said that from it, “we can learn about them and how they do things, because they do it differently, but we can all help people”.

Sattar, of the Islamic Society of North Jersey, said, “In my opinion it is important for kids of other faiths to do projects together because most people just go by with what they see on TV, not knowing the truth that we are all people no matter what you believe in. Projects are a great way to get other kids my age, younger or older, to collaborate and work together, not being separated based on opinions.

“Some people get a little thrown off during the holiday season when I say I don’t celebrate Christmas, and even though they don’t mean to seem rude, they have that look of astonishment that is hard to avoid,” said Sattar. “When kids of different faiths work together, they can see we are all the same, even though we celebrate other holidays.”

Serena Rice shared that the food pantry has invited the children from the congregations in the Interfaith Alliance to come for an educational visit to learn more about local hunger and to see the ministry they helped to support.

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Santa Packs Up After Two Decades, Relocates To New House At Park Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:10:43 +0000 By Cheryl Conway

No need to schlep to the mall or fight the traffic on Route 46 to see Santa at the old Santa House this month.

The white bearded, jolly old fella has a new residence this season, the Holiday House at Turkey Brook Park in Budd Lake. Since its ribbon cutting on Saturday, Nov. 25, Santa has been welcoming visitors and pets for photos and conversation.

Stop by through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, on weekends between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to visit him at his new house near the fire pit. Visitors can receive a 4X6 inch photo for $10 with Santa, printed on site, free toy and candy cane.

The Holiday House is a joint effort between Mt. Olive Twp. and Kiwanis Club of Mt. Olive Twp. All proceeds collected from photos and donations taken with Santa will go toward fundraisers and projects of the Mt. Olive Kiwanis Club and Foundation.

For more than 20 years, Santa would greet visitors at the red Santa House on Route 46 west, owned by George Poliak on the property of George’s Liquors, now called Patel Liquor & Deli in Budd Lake. Poliak’s son, George Jr. was involved in the JC’s of Mt. Olive, the Junior Chamber of Commerce which became Kiwanis, explains Richard J. Moore, Jr., president of the Kiwanis of Mt. Olive Twp. and former president of the JC’s.

While there has never been an accident involving a visitor or pet at the Santa House, according to Moore, the decision to relocate was in the best interest for safety regarding traffic on Route 26 and limited parking.

“We were presented with an opportunity in everybody’s best interest to move the event to Turkey Brook Park,” says Moore.

Claudia Tomasello, Mt. Olive assistant business administrator, reached out to Moore last February with her idea to relocate the house “to make it more beneficial and safer to the residents,” she says. “It wasn’t safe at all.” Kids who worked it were right on 46; those who stopped had to park across the street, then cross the busy highway. “Attendance was always low.”

Through donations from Dorsey and Semrau, Hunkele Entities in Flanders and McGarry Electric in Budd Lake, the township purchased a 12 inch by 16 inch shed for $3,600 from Amish Mike in Hackettstown, says Tomasello.

Large enough to fit six people inside, the shed is heated with an electric fireplace and decorated with pergo flooring, throw rug and curtains “like you are in a home,” says Tomasello.

They also changed the name to the Holiday House in hopes that the facility be used for other festivities such as an egg hunt on Easter and any other events by other denominations, says Tomasello.

Turkey Brook Park was selected as “it’s a central location in Mt. Olive, right between Budd Lake and Flanders,” says Tomasello. With the “fire pit right there, they can sit by the fire.”

Involved in the Santa House since the early 1990’s, Moore admits to an emotional tie with the former establishment but is pleased with the new headquarters, handicap accessibility, heat and increase of visitors.

“Santa always enjoyed waving to everybody on Route 46,” says Moore.

“It’s handicap accessible,” says Moore. So far, two families with wheelchairs stopped in with “no problem with them getting in or out. We were really happy to see that.” Another boy with braces also visited without any obstacles.

With the old building, organizers tried to make it accessible, he says, “but it was difficult,” with no room for a ramp.

“It was just not practical,” he admits. There are a “lot of benefits to the new site,” says Moore, such as the nearby fire pit, installation and electric heat. “It’s homey; it’s a duplicate of what we had before.”

As in previous years, Kiwanis still manages the house by providing Santa volunteers, helpers and photographers filling 20 three hour shifts.

“We are getting much more visitors primarily because people feel more comfortable coming to the park,” says Moore. “Our initial concern is no one would see us up there” at Turkey Brook, but thanks to marketing by the town, “We found, at new place, regular traffic coming in. We are doing much better than what we had in the past.”

Proceeds will benefit many efforts provided by Kiwanis including sponsorship of the Key Club at Mt. Olive High School, scholarships for deserving high school students, support of the Mt. Olive Food Pantry and Caring with Bears Project.

“We’ve grown with the community to provide what the community needs,” says Moore.  “When there’s a need we try to do what we can.”

With currently 14 members, Kiwanis Club of Mt. Olive is always looking for new members.

For more information on the Kiwanis Club of Mt. Olive or to volunteer at the Holiday House, contact Moore at; call 201-841-7783; visit

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MOHS Football Team’s Loss In States Brings Big Win In Life Lessons And Community Pride Thu, 21 Dec 2017 03:09:48 +0000 By Cheryl Conway

While the final score was not the game plan for the Mt. Olive High School Football team, win or lose, it was how they played that truly matters.

From the athletes on the field and their coaches on the sidelines, to the fans in the stands and those watching on TV, the entire Mt. Olive community played a part with heart. The MOHS Varsity Football Team competed in the NJSIAA Playoffs Group 4 championship against Old Tappan on Saturday night, Dec. 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

After Mt. Olive was the first to score on the field that night, the game was tied 14 to 14 at half-time. A close game throughout, the Mt. Olive Marauders lost 31-28 against the Old Tappan Golden Knights. Its third title in program history, Old Tappan had an undefeated season.

To lose by only three points against such an accomplished team is impressive for Mt. Olive, and so too is the team’s overall performance this past year, many commented.

“Old Tappan went to three state finals; everyone was expecting them to blow us out,” says MOHS Head Varsity Football Coach Brian O’Connor of Flanders.  “This was not the case. There’s no question of their effort and heart in this game. Our guys fought their butts off. We were kind of dominating the first half. They got a field goal, we got a touchdown.”

In his second year as the head coach, O’Connor commends the turnaround in his team’s record.

MOHS finished with 10 wins and two losses this past season, compared to last year’s one win and nine losses.  The last and only time MOHS competed in states, was in 2002 when the Marauders won a state championship title against Jefferson.

“The turnaround in our football team has been nothing short of amazing!” says Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Dr. Larrie Reynolds. “You could sense the enthusiasm for our team after the first few minutes of the first game this year.  My heartfelt thanks go out to Brian O’Connell, our new coach.  He and his staff have been able to do what many people thought impossible; make Mt. Olive a true contender in the sport of football.”

Reynolds says, “I had heard ahead of the game, that Old Tappan was a top rated team in the state; that they had never been behind in any game this season, and that they had star quality players in their skill positions.  Therefore, I was a bit anxious.  I wanted our kids to show well.  Boy!  Was I surprised!  After the first touchdown, I began to think that we would win the game.  After the second and third TD’s, I was even more hopeful.  The last drive down the field was so exciting!  It appeared that momentum was on our side.”

Amazed by the team’s performance, David Falleni, director of Athletics at MOHS, says “This has been an amazing journey for our football players and coaches. Anyone who goes from 1-9 in the previous season to 10-2 this year and making the state finals has done an unbelievable job. Great job by all! One of the best high school football games I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of.”

O’Connor credits his team’s success to leadership, talent, mindset and character.

With a roster of 60 players, “We had some great senior leadership” and “some talented players,” says O’Connor, who served as head football coach at Wayne Valley High School for 12 years before coming to MOHS.

The “team as a whole bought into making the commitment and sacrifice to each other,” he says. “They bought into winning; they got sick of losing.”

The big thing: “changing culture and mindset of the players,” he says. With more team bonding over the summer and during the year, off season training in the weight room, “all year round, all year long, students made a commitment for change. Hard work really pays off.”

While skill is important, O’Connor says character is rated just as high. MOHS football “has a lot of kids with tremendous character.”

Senior Liam Anderson, starting quarterback for the team, agrees with this year’s progress.

“I think one of the main reasons behind our team’s success was how hard we worked in the off season, and the senior leadership all throughout the season,” says Anderson.

“I was impressed with how my team never gave up even though there were times during the game when we were down, or there was a penalty, or a mistake, we fought hard until the end,” Anderson adds.

While disappointment comes with loss, O’Connor finished the season quite pleased.

“They played well,” says O’Connor, “had some unfortunate mistakes, some bad plays” but remains “very proud of their overall effort and performance.”

His players listened to his motto he stressed all season and that was “Forget what you heard” as far as having a losing record. “Believe in yourself, believe in your team.”  His players did just that and turned the program around.

“We are going to be a caliber championship football team every year,” says O’Connor. As far as losing in states, he says, “They’ll look back and reflect on the experience and what they accomplished here. It was very exciting for them. It’s something they will always remember.”

Anderson says, “The atmosphere was incredible. It is something that I’ll never forget and it was a dream come true. Just looking at the whole season and making it to MetLife after a 1-9 season, it teaches us that if you put in the work, and if everyone on the team buys in to one common goal, special things will happen.”

One can only grow from the opportunity.

This past game gave me experience in a big game environment,” says Anderson. “During big games nerves may come into play, and mistakes will follow because of it. But if you just relax, focus on the game, and try to have fun, no matter how big the game is it is always an enjoyable experience.”

The experience will long be remembered by the community as well.

“We sold 2,200 tickets at the high school but think there were far more at the game; probably more than 5,000 people sat on the MO side; nearly twice the Old Tappan audience,” says Reynolds. “The school district sent five buses to transport the band, cheerleaders and other students.”

The township also rented two busses, charging riders $25 per ticket. Support also came from escorts from police, fire department and emergency vehicles in town.

Getting involved in the school district’s success was an accomplishment not to be missed.

“As a resident and representative of Mt. Olive who attended the game, it was one of the most exciting games I have seen,” says Mt. Olive Twp. Council President Joe Nicastro. “The enthusiasm and support from our parents and residents was unbelievable. I am very proud of the team. A thank you to all the players, cheerleaders, coaches and all that was involved with the season for what they accomplished and also what they did for bringing thousands together to watch and cheer them on.”

Mayor Rob Greenbaum even met with the football team prior to the game to speak to players and provide a catered dinner.

“I made the decision to cater the meal because I was so proud of what they had accomplished and wanted them to know how proud the community was of their accomplishment,” says Greenbaum.

“The whole day was great and the pride I felt, watching with what seemed to be the entire community was overwhelming,” says Greenbaum. “The accomplishment of making it to the finals was not the highlight but rather the accomplishment of the entire season culminating in the final game brought the community together and there was a feeling that permeated Mt. Olive that we were all family.”

The town and community support became a highlight of the overall experience.

“The police escort and signage in town about the team’s success was a thrill for me,” says Reynolds. “I so appreciate the way the town came out to support our high school kids.  This showed that the game became larger than the game; it was about the cheerleaders, flag kids, band members, and players.

From cheering in the fans, to providing busses and even food before the game, O’Connor and the team were so thankful.

“The town and school were tremendous this year,” says O’Connor, adding that their support made it a lot of fun. The student section was great.”

Even after their “heart-breaking loss” when they arrived back to MOHS, the team received a police escort with fire trucks, police and paramedics. “They were all there. We are very appreciative of their support.”

The players even noticed.

“The amount of support that we received from the town was amazing,” says Anderson. “It truly made all of us on the team proud to be from Mt. Olive and proud to play in front of a great community.”

From the team’s success to the community’s support, Mt. Olive football may be seeing a revival.

“It re-establishes our football program and it has driven up the “Culture” here at the high school,” says Falleni.

“What we learned from this experience is that our student athletes have a never quit attitude,” says Falleni. “In addition, our students displayed great character and fight during the season and especially the State Final Game.”

Reynolds says, “I think the lesson here is that success comes only after hope has been established. Hope came to town with Coach O’Connell.  Once we had hope, all we needed was a small victory.  That came during the season.  The victories led to faith.  All of us had faith in our team.  From faith for many sprouted belief.  Most people developed a belief in the team, the school, and the community.  It was terrific!”

As far as next season, O’Connor says “hopefully next year we will be back.” Although 18 seniors are graduating, many starters will be returning to play, “most of the offensive line.”

O’Connor concludes, “We are trying to build a program.  Let’s reload. I do have high expectations for next year.”

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