Zone Picture

Hackettstown Mayor Maria DiGiovanni (center, right) and Hackettstown Middle School Principal Marie Griffin (center, left) held a ribbon cutting at “The Zone” teen center recently, with other school officials and Sgt. Tynan.

     This teen center will hold its next event on Feb. 28, after the first proved to be a great gathering with its music, food and socializing for seventh and eighth graders in the Hackettstown School District.
     Hackettstown Middle School Principal Marie Griffin said the center, which may eventually include other age groups, is an excellent way to provide for “the need for our kids to gather in a safe place.”
     School Counselor Jennifer Spuckes also noted that the center is a “place for our kids to safely come and hang out.”
     Spuckes added that kids do not always have a safe place to have fun on a weekend, “so we’re giving them that place.”
     Hackettstown Mayor Maria DiGiovanni noted that this safe environment gives the kids “something to look forward to,” and lets them meet new friends from the school district that they would not otherwise meet until attending the high school.
     Kids in the greater Hackettstown area can meet up at the Hackettstown Pool in the summertime, but this teen center is offering excellent activities in the winter, for example, DiGiovanni said.
     She added that “a lot of thought” went into the planning for the teen center and that she is thrilled that Trinity House opened its doors.
     Griffin said “its a great community effort,” and thanked the many local businesses and supermarkets that provided food at discounts or for free, and also equipment and t-shirts. The band Reverse Order recently performed at a previous event, and an open mic will be held at the events as well.
     Griffin said the open mics will allow kids to share their talent and added that “we are all very excited.” The events will allow kids to experience free food, great music and will get them out of the house on a Friday night. The goal is to certainly continue holding the events and the Feb. 28 event will be the second one.
     Sgt. Darren Tynan noted that “I think this is a great place for the kids in the Hackettstown area,” adding that he hopes it will grow into bigger events for local kids. It is a great opportunity for them to build new friendships and meet with other kids as well, he said.
     Israel Marmolejos, Principal at Great Meadows Middle School, said it is a very positive thing,” and thanked the Hackettstown Middle School officials because “they did all the work.” He said he is helping to get the information out to the kids, and he is happy that the event will “keep kids busy, especially on a Friday night.”
     Centenary College is involved as well, with some of its students (who are working toward degrees in education) serving as chaperones at the teen center.
     Don Gebhard, Associate Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church said the teen center has been in the planning stage for a long time, and called it a “special thing to be a part of.” He said parents will be happy to “know where their kids are and that they’re safe.”
     Kara Varina, school counselor at the Hackettstown Middle School said “we’re overjoyed that this moment has come,” and that they are all very excited.
     The Feb. 28 event will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Trinity House at 232 E. Moore Street. Permission slips are needed to attend the event.
     In other town news, Sgt. Darren Tynan issued a statement earlier this month about their work to regain power in a portion of the community.
     “Willow Grove St (Rt.604) is closed between Bilby Rd (Rt.665) and Kinney Rd due to a telephone pole fire in the area of Stephens State Park. JCP&L crews are on scene and at the height of this there were over 1500 customers without power. Power is being restored at this time.”said Sgt. Tynan.
     The police department is always working hard to solve these and other issues around town, and informs the public as soon as possible, communicating essential information to residents in a timely manner. The community honors them for their excellent efforts in helping to keep the town safe.
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Ejvind Boccolini

Ejvind Boccolini graduated with a BA in Journalism from Rutgers University in 1994 and has over 10 years of experience in the field, covering local government news, and personality features for northern and central New Jersey newspapers. Boccolini is a reporter for MJ Media, of Flanders, and news items can be sent to him at or on Facebook.