Black River Life April 24

Gill St. Bernard’s Brooke Baisley reaches 1,000-point milestone
By Steve Sears
If there is a definitive statement to define Brooke Baisley, senior guard\forward of the Gill St. Bernard’s Knights girls’ basketball team, head coach Mark Gnapp said, “She has got a motor on her that a lot of kids don’t have, and her work ethic is unbelievable.”
The Knights’ girls’ basketball side is no
stranger to success and 1,000-point scorers, and Baisley, courtesy of a feed from Naval Academy bound teammate Sidney Quinn, added her name to the record books by reaching the century mark when Gill St. Bernard’s trounced Hudson Catholic, 62 – 30 in early February.
Baisley is a talented, all-around player. At the time of the writing of this article, she was the team’s second leading scorer and rebounder, the club leader in steals, and near the top in assists.
Gnapp said, “She’s a great kid. She is the first one in the gym and the last one to leave – every single practice. This is not just once in a while; this is every practice. We shoot around after practice, and she is always working on her game.” And then there is the leadership aspect that Baisley, the lone senior for the Knights this season, brings. “She does a great job with the freshmen by including them, and they feel like they’re just as much a big part of this.”
Baisley entered the season not 100% certain she would attain her milestone, but when she and her teammates on February 8 headed to Hudson Catholic High School in Jersey City to face
the Hawks, she was only 12 points shy.
Baisley, who lives in the Flanders section of Mount Olive Township, said, “Everyone was so excited going into the game. And it is kind of funny, leading up to it (her 1,000th point), I missed three shots I normally would have made, but the nerves just got to me. Thankfully, it did not impact the game at all, and thankfully Sidney just got me an easy shot, and I was super grateful for that.”
Baisley – whose parents are Jim and Tricia, and sisters are Maddie and Emerson – will be headed next to Boston University to play collegiately for the Terriers. She made a few visits and was sold on the university and coach Melissa Graves’ program. She said, “There is something about that school I just connected with. I had
created a connection with every single coach there before I even made my decision, and that was the one school where I really did that rather than just having a really good relationship with a single coach. I just felt like I would fit in really well.”
A stroll in the shadow of the 185-year-old historic institution cemented it. Baisley said, “I remember a specific point when I was walking down Commonwealth Avenue, which is the main campus area, and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to go to school here.’ I just knew it. And then I just worked with that goal in mind, and then thankfully I made that happen.”


Chester Lioness Lions Club Offers Scholarships Towards College Costs

The Chester Lioness Lions Club annually offers scholarships to graduating High School students residing in Chester, Mendham or Washington Township in Morris County. Each scholarship offers $1,500 towards college costs. Criteria for selection of candidates for these scholarships include academic record, community service and outstanding accomplishments in activities that demonstrate leadership. Financial need is also a key consideration.
Applications may be obtained in the College Resource Center at both West Morris Mendham and West Morris Central High Schools. The West Morris Mendham and West Morris Central High Schools have applications available to all senior students on March 1, 2024. The completed form must be returned to the College Resource Center no later than April 1, 2024.
These scholarships are available not only to public high school students, but those attending private schools or those having home tutoring as well. To request an application email  Completed applications must be forwarded to the Lioness Lions Club by April 10, 2024.

Black River Playhouse Presents Ms Holmes and Ms Watson-Apt 2B
On Friday, May 3, Ms Holmes and Ms Watson-Apt 2B at Black River Playhouse is a fundraiser for The Chester Lioness Lions Club, with proceeds going toward the charities it supports.
Join us for an entertaining evening. Please contact the club at so that we can hold tickets for you. Time: 8pm Cost: $25.

Highlands Presbyterian Church Continues to Thrive
By Evan Wechman
The Highlands Presbyterian Church only has 35 members, but that hasn’t stopped them from contributing to the area for many years.  Although tucked away in Schooley’s Mountain, they are a tight knit community spreading love to their neighbors.
According to the pastor, Reverend Robin Palmer Burton, the church, now entering its 15th year is looking to remain a positive force.  “Our mission statement is a visible presence.  And I hope that we are a visible presence in the community. We are a little hard to find because we are not on the main streets but know that the people are always welcome,” Palmer Burton says.
Though the pastor has only been at the helm for a little over two years, she has made a positive mark on the church through her love of people.  In return, the members of the church have also left a memorable impression on her.
It did not at first seem as if the two were on course to find each other. Palmer Burton was originally a schoolteacher and loved working with kids.  She then served as a pastor in West Virginia but wanted to return to the Garden State to be close to her family.  She was hoping to find a nice church to work at, but the chances of landing at this church seemed dim.
Like any job applicant, Palmer Burton reached out to numerous churches.  She spoke to many by phone or zoom, but something felt just right when she spoke to the leaders at The Highlands Presbyterian Church.

According to the pastor, “We just seemed to click on the phone. And I remember getting off the phone and calling my sister and saying I think I found the church that God has sent me, and they felt the same way.”
Palmer Burton was immediately in awe of the work the small congregation was able to achieve. 

“They were involved with the community, both the immediate community and beyond.  And so that’s what really drew me to the church.  But it’s also I think what is special about the church and they also do a variety of missions.  We have a connection with a presbytery in Kenya.  And so every year we make sure there is a group that goes there and that they support them with their dollars, whether its scholarships for school or their buildings which may be used for something medically related.  For instance, we also helped with cataract surgery.”
Locally, the pastor has seen her congregants, most of whom are over 65 work diligently to serve those in need. 
Whether it’s running a food pantry, collecting warm pajamas for children or helping military veterans get back on their feet, she has seen more generosity than most larger churches.
Though she is proud of the recent accomplishments, she is aware that with an older population, the church must plan ahead.   She says the church will thrive for several more decades because they will follow God’s direction, just as she has personally done.
“God kept working on me and putting people in my life that affirmed that they saw something in me I didn’t necessarily see in myself. So, when I talk about being called by God, I really felt that this was what God wanted me to do for my life.  And I think that was the same thinking of this congregation.  They saw that was something God really wanted them to work on and 15 years later, they’re still doing wonderful things in the community.”

Pastor Melvin Travis Leads River of Life Church for Over Two Decades
By Evan Wechman 
For Pastor Melvin Travis of The River of Life Church, coming to minister the word of God was not a straight path.  Like many before him, his father was a pastor too.  He grew up in a large church in the heart of Atlanta. 
Travis says growing up in his dad’s church was not always the easiest of things.  However, that early exposure along with his desire to help others led him to become a minister.
He studied theology at Liberty University in Virginia. While In New Jersey, he addressed the concerns of people in local coffee shops until he became the minister of The River of Life Church in 1998.  Over two decades, Travis is still the only minister the church has ever known.
He states he and his church are generous to others and always looking to lend a hand.
“We’re a non-denominational ministry so we don’t really care what you call yourself, or the church you came out of.  Our main goal has always been to serve the community,” Travis says.
The church has donated meals on both Thanksgiving and Christmas to hundreds of families in need.  They have also been running an annual toy drive to help children celebrate Christmas.
One of the pastor’s main goals is to bring people into a relationship with God.  He understands this is a big challenge for Christians throughout the nation, particularly in his backyard.
“In our community, there’s a lot of ignorance when it comes to the things of God.  But our ministry is about teaching, However, you can’t really teach people unless that’s what they’re desiring, and that’s what
they want. Getting people to that point is one of our largest challenges because we believe if you’re talking about God, you’re talking about love,” Travis says.
A significant difference in The River of Life Church from other congregations is their commitment to the next generation.  Right now, the church has only about 30 members. However, Travis wants to help today’s kids become positive members in society, whether or not they become members of his church.
He is greatly familiar with the difficulties children encounter today since he also serves as a teaching assistant for The West Morris Regional High School District.  This is not a role most pastors have when they are not busy working in their own church.  Travis though is passionate about caring for the children in the area.
According to the veteran pastor, “we (the church) have to definitely increase working with young people.  That’s a strength of our church and a primary goal of ours is to do that.”
e accomplishes this by providing stimulating programs which focus on everyday problems the kids of his church can understand.  At the same time, Travis loves the kids he works with daily in school, even if they are not churchgoers.
He says he understands there are boundaries, and if he sees a child in need in school, he can’t just promote his religion.  He loves people of all faiths and backgrounds which makes him uniquely qualified to be a leader in the area.
“The communities have become my family, the church community as well as the outside community.  I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, made a lot of friends and connections particularly by working through the school system and serving in that manner.  I’ve watched a lot of the kids grow up so even though my family is spread out, and none here in this state, New Jersey has become my home.” Travis says.
“By being in the school, that’s one of the things that really helps me because I’m dealing with the children and watching them grow.  I’m helping their families and I think that’s what community is all about.”

‘Watershed U’ offered to high schoolers this summer
RHA camp helps students explore potential environmental careers

High school students who are considering careers in environmental fields – or who simply
want to learn more about the environment and conservation – are invited to attend “Watershed University,” a summer camp program from the nonprofit conservation group Raritan Headwaters Association (RHA).
The one-week programs will be offered during the weeks of July 22-26 and Aug. 5-9 at RHA’s Fairview Farm Wildlife Preserve, 2121 Larger Cross Road, Bedminster. The two sessions will offer different speakers and topics, so students can sign up for both without duplication of information.
The program is designed for students entering grades 9-12 who want to explore the environmental field and learn how to make impactful change in their communities. Each day includes a talk on an environmental topic by RHA staff and guest experts, hands-on scientific explorations, and fun team building activities.
“Participants will learn from experts, examining environmental and social topics that affect local and global natural resource challenges,” said Lauren Theis, education director for Raritan Headwaters. “On-the-ground conservation projects will allow students to gain skills in scientific research, communication, and building connections within a group.”
Watershed University topics include GIS (geographic information systems) mapping, green infrastructure, composting, native plant identification, environmental justice, biodiversity, groundwater conservation, land stewardship, climate studies, stream ecology, microplastics, and native wildlife. Each session includes a kayak trip at the end of the week.
The core program runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, but each day includes optional activities from 9-10 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. such as meditation and yoga, nature illustration, fishing in Fairview Farm’s pond, organic gardening, natural tie-dying, and paper-making.
The cost of the program is $375 a week, and at the end of the program, each student will be awarded a certificate of participation in the program. Scholarships are available. Alumni of previous years’ Watershed University programs are eligible to sign up for single-day sessions, at $50 per day.
For more information and to apply online, go to
About Raritan Headwaters
Since 1959, Raritan Headwaters Association has focused on one thing — clean water. RHA engages citizens and decision makers in the protection of the Raritan River headwaters region and beyond through science, education, land preservation and advocacy.
RHA’s 470-square-mile region provides clean drinking water to 300,000 residents of 38 municipalities in Somerset, Hunterdon, and Morris counties and directly impacts over 1.5 million homes and businesses in New Jersey’s densely populated urban areas. To learn more about Raritan Headwaters and its programs, please visit or call 908-234-1852.

The IAANWJ:  Keeping Irish Culture Alive
by Elsie Walker
This year, the Irish American Association of North West Jersey (IAANWJ) marks its 50th anniversary. “To celebrate our heritage, enjoy it, and share with the rest of the world, “said Jack Regan of West Milford when asked about the mission of the association.  Located in Rockaway, the association offers classes for young and old and events for those who want to learn more about the Irish culture and have fun.  A person doesn’t have to be Irish to join and members come from all over the state.   Recently, Regan and Maureen Murphy Quinn, of Succasunna talked about the organization and gave a peek at its 50th anniversary celebration later in the year.
As noted on its website (, the association came about as a result of so many Irish coming into the northwest New Jersey area as well as people of that decent already living here.  They wanted to preserve the culture while also bringing awareness of the Irish contribution to America.  The association was founded in 1974 and first met at St. Mary’s School in Wharton.  In 1977, the association bought the Mt Pleasant School on Richard Mine Road in Rockaway Township to be its clubhouse.
Regan, who is the Seargent at Arms of the association and a 25- year member, shared some of the various educational offerings of the association aimed at sharing Irish culture and traditions.  There is a book club which reads books that are connected to Ireland by subject or author.  There are Irish dancing classes for both adults and children.  In Celtic Art classes, people can learn to make traditional Irish things.  For example, in February, they made straw St. Bridget’s Crosses.  The crosses are a symbol of Ireland and found in many Irish homes.  Regan said that the art class’ next project is working on something in copper.   Other classes include Celtic knitting and Gaelic language classes.  Regan shared that Gaelic is still spoken in parts of Ireland.  There are music classes in tin whistle and flute for children and in fiddle, Celtic Harp and Uillean (elbow) harp for adults.   The Celtic Harp is another symbol of Ireland. For information, call the cultural committee at 201-321-6706 or email
The association is involved in different events during the year.  With the Friendly Sons, it co-sponsors the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Morristown. After the parade, there is a party at the association clubhouse. Every fall, it has a feis (festival), an Irish dance competition at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.  There’s a Christmas Hooly (gathering of people getting together for fun) at the clubhouse in the beginning of December.  There they tell stories, have music, and celebrate the holiday.  Also, every month, there is Irish Set dancing (like square dancing) at the clubhouse.  Those who want to join the association must be at least 18 years old.  Annual member dues for individuals (at least 18 years old) are individual $25, married couple $30, individual senior (65 and over) $15, and married seniors $25.
Murphy Quinn, a charter member, shared her background and gave a glimpse at how the association may celebrate its golden anniversary.   Not only does Murphy Quinn have her own Irish roots (through her parents) but her husband is Irish, too.  She lectures in Irish history and is working on a book about Irish women.  She noted that the IAANWJ had its first meeting in September 1974.  Being in the fall, though nothing is set yet, she sees the anniversary celebration as being connected with Halloween.  Halloween is a holiday that was exported from Ireland.  It is based on Samhain, Celtic New Year Year’s Eve.  “[when] …the veil between overworld and underworld is the thinnest” explained Murphy Quinn.  In Ireland, carved out turnips with candles in them were set out to guide souls; when they came to America, the Irish started using the pumpkins native to this land.  Many other Halloween traditions are also rooted in Irish lore.
While they say St. Patrick’s Day is a great day for the Irish, Halloween might just be a grand day this year for the IAANWJ.

Passover Celebrations Today: Traditions, Significance,
and Modern Practices
Passover, or Pesach, stands as one of the most significant festivals in Judaism, commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Across the globe, Jews observe this holiday with deep reverence, blending ancient traditions with modern customs. In this article, we delve into the contemporary celebration of Passover, exploring its rituals, significance, and how it is observed in today’s diverse world.
Historical Context: The roots of Passover trace back thousands of years to the biblical account of the Exodus, where Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt after enduring years of slavery. The ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the receiving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai are central elements of this narrative.
Significance of Passover: Passover holds immense significance within Judaism, symbolizing themes of liberation, renewal, and redemption. It serves as a reminder of the Israelites’ journey from bondage to freedom, conveying timeless messages of hope, faith, and resilience.
Preparation for Passover: The weeks leading up to Passover are marked by meticulous preparation. Jewish households engage in thorough cleaning, removing all traces of leavened products (chametz) from their homes. This practice, known as “biur chametz,” symbolizes the removal of spiritual impurity and the embracing of purity in both the physical and spiritual realms.
The Seder: The focal point of Passover observance is the Seder, a ceremonial meal held on the first two nights of the holiday (outside of Israel, where it is observed for seven or eight days). Families and friends gather around the Seder table, recounting the Exodus story through readings from the Haggadah, a text that guides participants through the rituals and prayers of the evening.
Modern Seder Customs: While the core elements of the Seder remain unchanged, modern Jewish communities often incorporate innovative customs and interpretations into their celebrations. This might include incorporating social justice themes, engaging in discussions about contemporary issues, or incorporating new foods and rituals to reflect cultural diversity.
Dietary Restrictions: Passover dietary laws prohibit the consumption of leavened products, such as bread, pasta, and most grains. Instead, matzo, an unleavened bread, takes center stage, symbolizing the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt. Traditional Passover foods like matzo ball soup, gefilte fish, and brisket are enjoyed during the holiday.
Community Involvement: Passover is a time for community and fellowship, with many Jewish organizations hosting communal Seders for those who may not have a place to celebrate. Synagogues, community centers, and even virtual gatherings provide opportunities for Jews to come together and share in the Passover experience.
Global Diversity in Passover Celebrations: Passover is celebrated in diverse ways around the world, reflecting the unique customs and traditions of different Jewish communities. From the Sephardic traditions of the Mediterranean to the Ashkenazi customs of Eastern Europe, each community brings its own flavor to the holiday, enriching the tapestry of Jewish cultural heritage.
Passover and Interfaith Dialogue: In an increasingly interconnected world, Passover serves as a bridge for interfaith dialogue and understanding. Many non-Jewish individuals participate in Passover Seders, fostering mutual respect and appreciation for different religious traditions.
Conclusion: Passover continues to hold deep meaning and relevance in the lives of Jews worldwide. Its ancient rituals and timeless themes of liberation and redemption resonate across generations, reminding us of the enduring power of faith, community, and hope. As Jews gather around the Seder table each year, they reaffirm their connection to their rich heritage and the eternal message of freedom.

PRF & Dental Implants – Platelet Rich Fibrin

Platelet Rich Fibrin – commonly known as PRF – is a material that helps the healing process in many dental and medical procedures. It speeds up healing, decreases pain, decreases swelling, and fights infection.   It is completely autologous, meaning it comes from your own body. Many uses for this amazing material are being developed on a regular basis.
What is PRF, and how do we make it?  Blood is drawn from the patient and spun in a centrifuge.  Specific speeds and lengths of time are required based upon the procedure being performed.  Certain layers are retrieved and handled in various ways, again based upon the goals desired.  There are typically three layers seen after spinning: a bottom layer of red blood cells which is discarded, an upper layer of plasma which has no cells but oftentimes used in PRF processes, and a middle “buffy coat” layer which is the layer we focus our attention to.
Platelets and leukocytes (white blood cells) are the main components of this “buffy coat” layer.  This is the PRF.  Contrary to popular belief, stem cells are present in very few numbers, and  are not a major type of cell in PRF.  PRF also does not have an effect on bone, but rather on soft tissues, hence the ability to affect swelling, pain, infection, and the rate of healing.
So what are the major uses of this material in dentistry?  One major use is during grafting procedures.  When we perform surgery, we are manipulating gum tissues.  We don’t want the gum tissue to pull away during the healing process (known as “incision line opening”).  This can be caused by stretching, created either by the pulling of muscles or the tissue itself.  The PRF helps to control swelling which decreases the risk of stretching, and also speeds up the healing process, which decreases the risk of graft exposure.
Another major use in dentistry is when we fabricate “sticky bone.”  Sticky bone is a bone graft material.  Think of bone graft material as sand.  It doesn’t really hold its shape very well.  When the “sand” is mixed with PRF, the sand “sticks” to itself, and can then be shaped.  So in essence, the PRF improves the handling characteristics of the bone graft.  As mentioned above, PRF does not affect the healing process of bone: sticky bone is an improvement in the handling characteristics.
A third common use within the field of dentistry is 3rd molar (wisdom teeth) extraction.  Studies have shown that the placement of PRF into a 3rd molar socket after extraction significantly decreases the risk of a “dry socket,” which is when the natural clotting process is interrupted and a painful infection develops.
There are other uses of PRF:
Facial esthetics:  injection of PRF is used for rejuvenation procedures, similar to Botox & Rejuvaderm.  Unlike those materials PRF is all natural, a product of your own body, and a lot less expensive.
Wound healing: amazing healing is oftentimes seen in burns and diabetic ulcerations.
In our office, PRF has always been an adjunct technique we perform.  It is not necessary for every procedure, but when benefits are obvious, its nice to be able to provide it.  Although we’ve had the capability for years to create PRF, the recent developments and improvements have been amazing, and we see the results on a regular basis.
Do you have questions?  Visit Dr. Goldberg’s website, or contact us for a free consultation.

About the author:  Dr. Ira Goldberg is a distinguished dentist in both the fields of general dentistry & implant dentistry.  He has been a dentist for 29 years.  He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology, a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.  He performs all phases of implant dentistry at his office in Succasunna, NJ.  He lectures to dentists in the field of implantology.  He is also a Scholar of the Dawson Academy for Comprehensive Dentistry and a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.  For a free consultation, including a free 3-D scan (if necessary), please call his office at (973) 328-1225 or visit his website at  Dr. Goldberg is a general dentist.

Spring, the Season of Renewal and the Wood Element

in Traditional Chinese Medicine

As the cold grip of winter loosens its hold, nature begins to awaken, and the season of spring emerges. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is associated with the Wood element and the liver and gallbladder organs. This season symbolizes renewal, growth, and the emergence of new life, mirroring the characteristics of the Wood element.
The Wood Element and Its Corresponding Organs
In TCM, each season is associated with one of the Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water), which correspond to specific organs in the body. The Wood element is linked to the liver and gallbladder. The liver is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi (vital energy) throughout the body, while the gallbladder stores and excretes bile, aiding in digestion and the processing of fats.
Symptoms that Can Arise During Spring
During the spring season, imbalances in the Wood element and the liver and gallbladder organs can manifest as various symptoms. These may include:
– Irritability and mood swings
– Headaches or migraines
– Digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, or nausea
– Allergies or sinus congestion
– Muscle tension or stiffness
– Fatigue or lack of energy

How Acupuncture Can Help
Acupuncture, a key component of TCM, can be particularly beneficial during the spring season to rebalance the Wood element and support the liver and gallbladder. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on the body to promote the smooth flow of Qi and restore harmony within the organs.
Acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms such as irritability, headaches, digestive issues, and fatigue by:
– Regulating liver Qi: Acupuncture can help release stagnation in the liver meridian, promoting a smoother flow of Qi and reducing irritability and mood swings.
– Supporting digestion: By stimulating points related to the digestive system, acupuncture can improve digestion, reduce bloating, and alleviate nausea.
– Strengthening the immune system: Acupuncture can help strengthen the body’s resistance to allergens and pathogens, reducing the likelihood of allergies or infections.
**Foods to Support the Liver and Gallbladder**
In addition to acupuncture, dietary changes can also support the Wood element and the liver and gallbladder during the spring season. Incorporating the following foods into your diet can help:
– Leafy greens: Spinach, kale, and dandelion greens support liver function and help detoxify the body.
– Sour foods: Lemon, lime, and vinegar can help stimulate the liver and gallbladder.
– Warm, cooked foods: Avoiding cold or raw foods can help support digestion, as the body’s digestive fire is weaker during the spring.
As nature awakens and blooms, it’s important to support our bodies in this season of renewal. By understanding the association between spring, the Wood element, and the liver and gallbladder, we can take steps to maintain balance and harmony within our bodies. Acupuncture, along with dietary changes, can be valuable tools in supporting our health and well-being during the spring season. For more information, call Mt. Olive Acupuncture 973.527.7978

What Working from Home Means for Musculoskeletal Pain
By Michael Lalama, DC
Among the
many changes to our lives that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, modifications of working habits and ergonomics proved to be a significant challenge in preventing and/or minimizing musculoskeletal pain.1 As the world adopted different containment measures, the number of people working from home increased tremendously.2 While working from home brought multiple advantages to employees, such as less commuting and having more flexibility, it has also brought in several constraints that have impacted the lives of workers.2
First, working from home typically involves extended sedentary computer work with minimal active interruptions.2 For example, while working in an office you are more likely to get up from your desk and walk to the copier, breakroom, or to meetings, whereas at home these activities are done virtually or are lost all together.2 Ultimately, remote work from home has promoted a more sedentary lifestyle and, when combined with individual set-up constraints, a decrease in ergonomics.2

In the Netherlands, it was found that only one-third of home workers in 2020 and one-half of home workers in 2021 had an optimally furnished workplace (e.g., adjustable desks, adjustable chairs, a separate computer monitor, a separate mouse, etc.) to promote good posture.2 In a separate study of at home set-ups, they found that 40.9% of workers did not use an office desk; among them, 65.3% used a kitchen or a dining room table, 20% used a living room table, and the remaining 14.7% used a makeshift table (e.g., a chest of drawers) instead.1 The utilization of incorrect or suboptimal equipment/furniture directly correlates with reduced ergonomics. But even when ergonomic and adaptable furniture is available, workers do not always install and/or use the furniture appropriately.2 In addition, over half of at home workers have reported working longer hours than when they were in the office.1
Not only are at home workers at an increased risk for musculoskeletal pain based on workspaces that are not ergonomically installed, they are now also sitting for more hours than at the office.2 This ultimately increases the likelihood of pain in any region of the spine; in fact, working from home was associated with a higher risk of low back pain, upper back pain, neck pain, shoulder and/or arm pain compared to working on location.2 And since remote work has turned previously active interruptions virtual, it’s not a surprise th
at most workers do not exercise (e.g., walking, stretching, etc.) during breaks.1
It was also found that at home workers who did not exercise regularly outside of working hours had a significantly higher incidence of lower back pain and upper back/neck pain compared to those who did.1 It was common for workers to find it hard to get themselves to start exercising, which was mostly due to a perceived lack of time; however, this is directly correlated with an increase in pain and a decrease in quality of life.1 But even with the deterioration in musculoskeletal pain associated with working from home, most workers would still rather work from home than go to the office.1 So what can be done?
Most recommendations involve taking frequent breaks from working with a computer, as well as practicing exercises to ease the load on the spine, neck, upper extremities, and the eyes.1 This, however, does not address the lack of time or space many at home workers complain of. Taking frequent breaks (e.g., 5-15 min every hour) while working can free up small intervals of time throughout the day that workers can be active. It is common to think that you need a large period of continuous time in order to exercise, but in reality, even 5 minutes an hour over the course of an 8-hour workday adds up to 40 minutes. While it is not likely to perform strenuous exercises in 5 minutes, stretches and postural exercises can help reduce the load on the spine and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal pain.
It is always important to consult a licensed healthcare professional before starting an exercise program, and to explore which treatment options are right for you.

Radulović, A. H., Žaja, R., Milošević, M., Radulović, B., Luketić, I., & Božić, T. (2021). Work from home and musculoskeletal pain in telecommunications workers during COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study. Arhiv za higijenu rada i toksikologiju, 72(3), 232–239.
Bosma, E., Loef, B., van Oostrom, S.H. et al. (2022) The longitudinal association between working from home and musculoskeletal pain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 96, 521–535.

The Origins of May Day

By Henry M. Holden
The May Day holiday originated as a pagan celebration to welcome the summer. But why do we celebrate it with dancing, singing, drinking, lighting bonfires, and collecting flowers?
In the distant past, the summer season was used to safeguard a successful harvest. It is believed to have been associated with local gods, such as Ukko, the Finnish god of thunder who controlled the rain and thus the fertility of the land.
Many of these rituals arose from the belief that Midsummer was a magical time of good fortune and healing. Bonfires were lit and loud behavior was encouraged to drive away evil spirits.
Perhaps due to the time of ye
ar’s connection with fertility, love spells were cast at Midsummer, such as placing seven flowers beneath one’s pillow to conjure dreams of a future partner. One could also see the face of his or her future spouse by looking into a well at midnight. Bathing in natural springs and decorating houses with flowers and plants it was thought to bring good health.
The modern May Day, also known as Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, is a public holiday celebrated on May 1st every year. It is a holiday that is recognized in many countries around the world, including the United States, Canada, and countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
May Day developed  its roots in the American labor movement of the late 19th century. In the United States, the holiday was first celebrated in 1886, as part of the struggle for the eight-hour workday. On May 1st of that year, thousands of workers across the country went on strike, demanding better working conditions and shorter working hours. The strike was peaceful at first, but on May 4th, a bomb exploded at a labor demonstration in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, killing several people and injuring many others. The incident sparked a restraint on labor activism, but it also invigorated the labor movement and led to the establishment of May D
ay as a day of labor solidarity and protest.
May Day is founded in astronomy. Traditionally, it was the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice! In ancient times, this was one of the Celtic cross-quarter days, which marked the midway points between the (four) solstices and equinoxes of the year.
As with many early holidays, May Day was also rooted in agriculture. Springtime festivities filled with song and dance celebrated the planted fields starting to sprout. Cattle were driven to pasture, special bonfires were lit, and doors of houses as well as livestock were decorated with yellow May flowers. In the Middle Ages, the Gaelic (Irish) people celebrated the festival of Beltane. Beltane means “Day of Fire.” People created large bonfires and danced at night to celebrate.
Today many Americans see Labor Day as time off from work, an opportunity to enjoy a barbecue with friends and family and a final moment of summertime relaxation before the busy fall season begins.
But the background of the Labor Day holiday is far more complex, dramatic and lethal than most might realize. It start with a heated campaign by workers in the late 19th century to win support and recognition for their contributions.
In July 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday in early September—even as federal troops in Chicago brutally crushed a strike by railroad and Pullman sleeping car company workers, leaving some 30 people dead.
In other parts of the world, the holiday has a less lethal history. In Europe, for example, it finds its roots in ancient traditions
In Germany, the day is known as Maifeiertag and is celebrated with dancing, singing and the raising of maypoles. In Finland and Sweden, May Day is celebrated with picnics and outdoor activities, while in the United Kingdom, the celebration includes dancing and other traditional folk customs.
Today, May Day is an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in many more, but ironically it is rarely recognized in the country where it began, the United States of America.

According to Peter Linebaugh, author of The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day, after the 1894 Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland officially moved the U.S. celebration of Labor Day to the first Monday in September, deliberately cutting ties with the international worker’s celebration for fear that it would build support for communism and other radical causes.
In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to reinvent May Day by, further separating the memories of the Haymarket Riot, by declaring May 1 to be “Law Day,” celebrating the place of law in the creation of the United States.
Law Day celebrates the rule of law in a free society. From May 1 and throughout the month of May. Its observance was later codified by Public Law on April 7, 1961. The day aims to help people appreciate their liberties and to affirm their loyalty to the United States, especially with regard to equality and justice. It also aims to cultivate respect for the law, whic
h is vital to the democratic way of life.
Law Day 2024 is on May 1, 2024. 

Caption: The maypole has ancient beginnings, but scholars cannot agree on what the history of the maypole is. (photo author’s collection.)

A Most Endearing Lesson

By Richard Mabey Jr.
I was recently diagnosed with a severe case of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It’s two big words for a heart condition in which the walls of the heart ventricles become very thick. So much so, that they actually decrease the size of the sacs of the heart ventricles. There is really no cure for this heart disease.
A few days after my heart catheterization, that was the final heart procedure to verify my Cardiologist’s diagnosis, I went to a big comic book show. I confess that I love comic books. One of my regrets in life is that I never got to meet the late, great Stan Lee. But, that’s life.
At any rate, a moment in time at the big comic book show, deeply touched my heart. It was as if the odds were a million to one, that I was at the right place, at the right time, for God to teach me a most valuable and endearing life lesson. I was looking through the boxes of old Spider-Man comic books, when this cherished moment unfolded.
A few feet away from me, were what appeared to be, a father and son. The dad seemed to be late middle age. The son appeared to be somewhere in his early twenties. Like me, they were looking for old
Spider-Man comic books. Within a few moments, it became apparent that the young man, the son, was autistic. I write of this observation, with utmost earnest respect.
I could not help but to overhear that the young man was looking for Spider-Man comic books that featured Spidey’s villain, the Green Goblin. As I was looking through my box of comic books, I came across a rather rare Green Goblin tale that seemed to be priced, very reasonably.
I most respectfully, with the Spider-Man comic book with Green Goblin on the cover, asked the father and son team if they had this particular comic book. I explained that I could not but help overhear their enthusiastic search for Green Goblin comics. The young man smiled, from ear to ear. He exclaimed that he did not have that issue. The father smiled at me and thanked me for finding that particular Green Goblin comic book.
We introduced ourselves to each other. Then got lost in small talk about Spider-Man and all his villains. We talked for a good 10 minutes or so. Then the father simply said that it was time for his son and him to get back to the task of finding more good Spider-Man back issues. We all shook hands and returned to searching through boxes of comic books.
Upon leaving the big comic book show, the memory of that meeting with my two fellow Spider-Man fans, haunted the marrow of my bones. The incredible joy and happiness that the son displayed, when I handed him the old Green Goblin comic book, had touched a chord in my heart.
I confess that I was feeling just a bit sad, when I first entered the doorway to the big comic book show. As I drove home, it dawned on me that God had brought the father and son team into my life, if even for just a few minutes, to bring a certain joy to my heart. There are really no words to convey the immense happiness that the old Green Goblin comic book brought to the heart of
that fine young man. He actually jumped up and down a bit, when he first held the comic book in his hand.
The young man’s joy and exuberance over a seemingly simple thing, awoken me to realize that I needed to rise above my sadness. After pulling into my garage, I took a walk around my yard. Birds were basking in my two front yard birdbaths. The yellow flowers in my flowering bush were abounding. Birds sang and flew about my old Live Oak. A neighbor walked by, walking his dog, and we exchanged friendly waves and greetings.
The joyful young man at the comic book show, gave me the gift of a most valuable lesson. To find the joy, the happiness, the splendor in the seemingly simple things in life. More than likely, I will never see that wonderful father and son team ever again. Still, their memory abides in the chambers of my heart.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at

Unveiling the Ancient Origins of Passover:
A Journey Through Time and Tradition

Passover, one of the most significant festivals in Judaism, marks the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. Its origins are deeply rooted in history, tradition, and faith, tracing back thousands of years. This article embarks on a journey through time to unravel the origins of Passover, exploring its historical context, religious significance, and enduring legacy.
Ancient Egypt: The Crucible of Slavery and Exodus To comprehend the origins of Passover, one must delve into the annals of ancient Egypt, where the Israelites endured centuries of bondage under Pharaoh’s tyranny. According to biblical accounts, the Book of Exodus narrates the oppression faced by the Israelites and their eventual deliverance orchestrated by Moses, a pivotal figure in Jewish history.
The Exodus, believed to have occurred around the 13th century BCE, serves as the cornerstone of Passover. It symbolizes the liberation of a people from oppression, the triumph of justice over tyranny, and the dawn of a new era of freedom. The biblical narrative recounts the ten plagues inflicted upon Egypt, culminating in the climactic event of the Israelites’ exodus from bondage.
Passover: A Commemoration of Liberation Passover, known as Pesach in Hebrew, derives its name from the pivotal event of the Exodus. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery and their journey towards freedom. The festival begins with the Seder, a ceremonial meal replete with symbolic foods, prayers, and rituals that encapsulate the essence of the Passover narrative.

Central to the Passover observance is the consumption of matzah, unleavened bread symbolizing the haste with which the Israelites fled Egypt, leaving no time for their bread to rise. The bitter herbs represent the bitterness of slavery, while the sweet charoset symbolizes the mortar used by the Israelite slaves in constructing Pharaoh’s monuments.
The Paschal lamb, sacrificed and eaten during ancient times, signifies the divine intervention that spared the Israelites from the final plague, the death of the firstborn. Though the Temple in Jerusalem, where sacrifices were performed, no longer stands, the symbolic significance of the Paschal lamb endures in the Passover tradition.
Evolution of Passover: From Temple Rituals to Home Celebrations Over the centuries, Passover has undergone a transformative evolution, adapting to changing circumstances while retaining its core significance. Following the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the practice of sacrificing the Paschal lamb ceased, prompting a shift towards home-based observances.
The Haggadah, a text recounting the Exodus narrative and guiding the Seder proceedings, emerged as a central component of Passover observance. Its diverse versions reflect the rich tapestry of Jewish traditions spanning different regions and historical epochs.
Passover in the Modern Era: Renewal and Relevance In contemporary times, Passover continues to resonate deeply within the Jewish community, serving as a symbol of resilience, faith, and collective memory. Its themes of liberation and redemption reverberate across generations, inspiring Jews worldwide to reflect on the enduring struggle for freedom and justice.
Moreover, Passover’s universal message of empathy and solidarity transcends religious boundaries, offering profound insights into the human experience of oppression and liberation. As individuals gather around the Seder table, they engage in dialogue, reflection, and remembrance, forging connections across cultures and generations.
The origins of Passover are deeply intertwined with the ancient history, religious beliefs, and cultural heritage of the Jewish people. Rooted in the biblical narrative of the Exodus, Passover symbolizes the triumph of freedom over oppression and the enduring quest for justice and redemption.
Through centuries of
evolution and adaptation, Passover has retained its relevance and resonance, serving as a testament to the enduring legacy of the Jewish faith. As Jews worldwide gather to celebrate Passover, they not only commemorate their ancestral journey from slavery to freedom but also reaffirm their commitment to the timeless values of compassion, justice
, and solidarity.
Passover stands as a testament to the enduring power of faith and tradition, transcending time and space to impart its timeless message of hope and renewal. As we reflect on the origins of Passover, we are reminded of the indomitable spirit of the human soul, capable of overcoming the most formidable of challenges in pursuit of freedom and dignity.
In an ever-changing world, Passover serves as a beacon of light, guiding us through the darkness of oppression and injustice towards the promise of a brighter future. Its rituals and symbols resonate not only with the Jewish community but also with all those who yearn for liberation and justice.
As we partake in the Passover Seder, we not only honor our ancestors’ journey from slavery to freedom but also reaffirm our commitment to tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of repairing the world. Through acts of compassion, justice, and solid
arity, we strive to fulfill the timeless vision of a world where all are free to live with dignity and equality.
In conclusion, the origins of Passover are deeply rooted in the ancient history and traditions of the Jewish people. As we celebrate this festival year after year, we pay homage to the resilience and faith of our ancestors, while also renewing our commitment to the timeless values of freedom, justice, and compassion. Passover continues to inspire and uplift us, reminding us of the enduring power of hope and redemption in the face of adversity.

SCCC To Offer FREE Community Journalist Certificate 

Sussex County Community College (SCCC) will be offering a free journalist certificate, “Becoming a Community Journalist,” with participants learning skills to cover community-centered news happening in their respective hometowns and county. 
The program will offer a hands-on exploration of how journalism works. Participants will learn the tools needed to understand local issues that are affecting their communities and how to report important stories.  
The certificate will be offered in person and online beginning in March 2024. The in-person workshops will meet eight consecutive Tuesdays from March 26 to May 14, 2024, from 12:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the college’s Media Center. The online version of the certificate is offered asynchronously. Sussex County College is located at One College Hill Road, Newton, NJ, 07860. 
The certificate’s instructor, Professor Cheryl Conway, teaches Journalism I and II at SCCC and has decades of experience as a reporter and editor for community newspapers and magazines. 
Conway said, “I want the participants to begin thinking like journalists and be prepared to effectively engage with their neighbors and local government. Our aim is to prepare them to become more civically active and get involved in the community media ecosystem.”
The Becoming a Community Journalist program is offered with support from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and Journalism +
Design at The New School. The program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Civic Information Consortium, an independent, publicly-funded nonprofit organization that supports quality local journalism, promising media startups and other efforts meant to better inform people.
Dr. Nancy Gallo wrote the grant application on behalf of SCCC and its Center for Lifelong Learning and is the grant’s administrator. Gallo, who is also the Center’s director, said, “We are so appreciative to the New Jersey Council for the Humanities for choosing SCCC as a worthy recipient of this grant.” 

SCCC was one of only three community colleges statewide chosen to participate. 
Gallo added, “This grant promises to have far-reaching and long-term benefits for our county and its citizens. The certificate is designed to teach journalism skills and design practices for anyone in greater Sussex County who wants to share stories and information that their communities need to thrive.”
Space is limited for the free certificate.  Those interested in registering for the “Becoming a Community Journalist” certificate can check the Center for Lifelong Learning’s webpage on the SCCC website at, by calling 973-579-0555 ext. 1277 or emailing  

I Remember Dad: The Red Barn

By Richard Mabey Jr.
In early June of 1983, I was just 29 years old. I was working as a proofreader for Oral-B Toothbrushes, for their marketing services pamphlets and booklets. At that time they were located in Fairfield. I had earned a week’s vacation time. Little did I know, when that week began, that I was about to embark on an adventure that would leave a profoundly positive mark upon the deepest chambers of my heart center.
Dad also took a week’s vacation time from his job as a long-distance truck driver. We had big plans to build a small barn, along Mabey Lane, in the backyard of the old Mabey Homestead. Uncle Ed, one of Dad’s older brothers, lived next door to us. Uncle Ed was now retired and agreed to help us build the barn.
Dad and Uncle Ed were both World War II veterans. Uncle Ed served in the U. S. Navy. Dad served in the Seventh Army Air Corps, stationed at Hickam Airfield in Hawaii. Both men talked very little about their time in service. Uncle Ed’s ship was sunk, by a German war ship, off the coast of England. He was rescued by a British Navy ship.
Well, Monday morning Dad drove Uncle Ed and I, in his Ford Ranger pickup truck, to the old Channel Lumber on Route 23. We bought a good amount of two by fours, plywo
od boards, black roofing shingles, and four large hinges. The three of us loaded the back of Dad’s pickup truck with this extravagant haul of wood, shingles and hinges. The adventure had begun.
Why do we remember certain things? As if they are implanted with indelible ink into the cavernous vaults of our subconscious minds. But for some reason, I remember we stopped for lunch at the Burger King on Route 23. I’m not sure if it was in Wayne or Pequannock.
One thing I do remember was that, as we ate our hamburgers and chomped on our French fries, Dad took out a folded piece of notebook paper from his shirt pocket. On this blue-lined paper, were th
e very plans Dad had drawn in pencil, for the structure of his dream barn.
I remember that there was an electrical enthusiasm in Dad’s voice. There was almost a song in Dad’s voice as he showed his brother and I his plans on how he wanted his small barn built. I know how odd this may sound, but it almost seemed that the people in nearby tables, actually stopped talking to one another to hear what Dad was saying. There was no doubt about it, Dad’s enthusiasm at that Burger King was definitely contagious.
I remember we drove halfway down Mabey Lane. Since it was not a busy road, Dad parked over to the side, along the pine trees on our property and we all unloaded the lumber and roofing shingles o
nto the green grass of our old backyard.
I remember this moment like it was yesterday. After we completely unloaded the back of Dad’s Ford Ranger, Dad took a moment and looked at the very spot that he had staked out to be the location where his dream barn would proudly stand. Dad stood there, bigger than life, with his hands on his hips, with a great big smile on his face.

“Men, this is where we’re gonna build the barn!” Dad declared with a most glorious enthusiasm in his voice.
Something touched me deep inside, the very moment Dad gleefully spoke those words. It was the first time in my life that my father had called me a man. It’s hard to put into words. But at that moment in time, I truly became a man.
To be continued next issue.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at

CCM Parks Program Presents
Spring 2024 Calendar

The Parks Program, an interdisciplinary institute at County College of Morris (CCM), is thrilled to unveil its Spring 2024 event calendar, brimming with enriching opportunities that are both free and accessible to the public. From captivating guest speakers to an immersive art workshop and an invigorating eco-tour of the Hackensack River, this diverse schedule focuses on New Jersey in a vari
ety of ways.
“We look forward to attendees making connections to the history, culture and geography of their state,” said Dr. Michelle Iden, Professor and Assistant Chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities at CCM.

Commencing the spring schedule will be award-winning author, instructor and public speaker, Dr. Neil. M. Maher. Passionate about environmental inequality in Newark, the discussion will be based on his upcoming book, tentatively titled, “Wasted: An Environmental Justice History of Newark, NJ,” and will be held on Thursday, March 7, from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m., in Sheffield Hall, Room 100. Maher’s insights promise to ignite creativity and spark meaningful dialogue among attendees. This program is co-sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Department at CCM.
Talented local artist Francesca Pelaggi will lead an enthusiastic, one-hour, acrylic painting workshop on Thursday, March 21, at 12:30 p.m. in DeMare Hall, Room 216. A brief tutorial with no-judgment critique and tips, along with light refreshments, will be provided in this hands-on discovery of natural park spaces. Space is very limited and RSVP required.
Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) since 2011, will lead a presentation about the rich history of African-American baseball with a nod to Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, on Tuesday, April 23, at 4 p.m. This virtual, Q&A event is co-sponsored by the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.
Wrapping up the season, an eco-cruise tour of the Hackensack River will be held on Wednesday, May 1 at 10 a.m. and Noon. Co-Sponsored by the Hackensack Riverkeeper, participants can learn about marshes, wildlife, urbanization, the Meadowlands and the impacts we, as humans, have had on this aquatic system. Space is very limited and RSVP required.  Participants must also provide their own transportation to the launch site in Secaucus.
For questions and to RSVP to any of the events, please email

NJ Starz: Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
Hometown: Jersey City

By Steve Sears
It is always nice to have the Fifth Dimension’s Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. visit the Garden State. The husband-and-wife team of almost 55 years (July 26 is the big day) will be headlining at Englewood’s Bergen Performing Arts Center with Darlene Love on Sunday evening, April 14.
Davis said, “We are so honored to be to be sharing the stage with Darlene Love. We met Darlene years ago when she was with the Blossoms. We have been following her career through the years.”
McCoo added, “We are so happy for the recognition that she has finally gotten for all the vocals she was responsible for, and so many hits. And it was just wonderful for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Love is a 2011 inductee) to acknowledge her. It is exciting.”
McCoo, who turned 80 in September, and Davis, who will be 86 in June, are this month’s My Life Publications “NJ Starz” – in an interesting way. McCoo was born in New Jersey but never lived here, but still has family here. Davis is from St. Louis, Missouri, but there is no way you separate this loving, talented team.
They go together – and are inseparable.
“I think it’s really a blessing if you end up marrying a person that you like; not just love, but like,” McCoo said of she and Davis. “Friendship is such an important part of making a relationship work – friendship and mutual respect.”

“Beautiful,” her husband followed with. “The Lord was watching us, looking down on us. He said, ‘If you are thinking that you are not meant for each other, I have news for you. I am going to put you together, and you have to stay together all through the years.’ And that is what he did.”

McCoo was born at the former Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital in Jersey City. She was delivered by the trusted physician, Dr. Lena Frances Edwards. McCoo explained. “She was the one who inspired my mother to go into medicine. My mother decided that since she (Edwards) was an OBGYN, she wanted her to deliver all her children. We were living in Columbus, Georgia, but every time my mother would get ready to have a baby, she would get on the train and travel up to Jersey City, and Dr. Edwards would deliver each one of us. That was how determined my mother was.”
McCoo’s parents were Waymon and Mary, and she had three siblings. “Glenda was the oldest and still is, Millie is my younger sister, and Wayman Jr. was the baby, and he’s no longer with us,” McCoo said.
The love for music for McCoo and Davis came before the age of 10. Davis came from a family of entrepreneurs in the lumber business, and he said that although his father also wanted to be a horn player, he rarely picked up his saxophone – but his son did, at age five.
“I started getting into music, learning it, and playing guitar, and that was really what I wanted to do. I just stayed with it, and I am glad I did, because it brought me to where I am today.”
McCoo got more involved with music, especially singing, when she moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. “My mother and father, and my older sister Glenda and I, used to get around the piano, and daddy would teach us harmony parts,” she recalled. “I was delig
hted because I was the youngest of the group, and they included me.” The tiny gathering was shocked that McCoo was able to hold harmonious notes. It would serve her well in the future.
McCoo attended Susan Miller Dorsey High School, and then headed to UCLA for college. While there, she started singing with a group called Hi-Fi’s. She said, “Music was always going to be a part of my life. While I was in school, a friend of mine by the name of Lamont McLemore – he was a photographer, but he always loved group singing and putting together groups. In the evenings, people would come to the studio and sing harmonies and everything. I was the only one that was in school at that time.”
By chance, Ray Charles heard the Hi-Fi’s, liked what he heard, and wanted to record the group for his proposed record label, Tangerine Records. The group, which eventually became the Vocals, also had a chance to tour with Ray Charles.
McCoo recalled, “I was in school, and my mother said the only way she was going to sign the papers to agree to me going out on the road
at that time was that I had to promise her that when that tour was over, I would come back and get my (Business Administration) degree. When the tour was over, I told my mother, ‘Don’t worry, I am going back to school. I have seen enough of the world, and I know that I do need to have my degree.’”
But there was more music to be made. Eventually McCoo and McLemore would meet Johnny Rivers, who would form his own record label, Soul City Records. McCoo said, “At that time, Billy (Davis) had come out from St. Louis, and he was a very strong part of the group because he sang a lot of leads when we would work live.” The group, then going by the name of the Versatiles, added Florence LaRue, and Ron Townson, who had been in and out of the group, eventually stayed on.
However, Rivers, feeling the name “Versatiles” was outdated, suggested the group needed a new name. Davis said, “While we were trying to pick out the names while we were recording, Johnny said, ‘Everybody go home and come up with some names that we think would fit for today, and  we’ll come back and pull them out of the hat and see which one that we think is the best, alright?’ And Ronald and his wife came up with the Fifth Dimension. We all heard that, and we knew that was the name – we knew that was it.”
What followed was a career of harmonious, popular songs that have stood the test of time. Twenty Top 40 singles (six which placed in the Top 10), 14 gold and si
x platinum records, and six Grammy awards as a group (McCoo and Davis Jr. themselves would win a Grammy as a duet in 1977). The songs are well known: “Up, Up and Away,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Aquarius\Let the Sunshine In,” and “Wedding Bells Blues” among many others.
Frank Sinatra early on aided the group when he invited them to be on a bill with him at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. McCoo said, “Just a memory about Frank Sinatra. He was so good to the group. He really, in so many ways, helped launch the group. When we worked together with him, that was important because it introduced us to this whole group of people from his era that were not familiar with the Fifth Dimension.”
McCoo and Davis left the Fifth Dimension in 1975 to perform and record as a duo. “You Don’t Have to Be a Star,” their first released single from their debut album I Hope We Get to Love in Time, soared to the number one spot on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Soul Singles charts, and reached the top 10 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart. It would garner for McCoo and Davis a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1977, who that same year they were also the first African American couple to have their own television variety show, The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show. After two subsequent albums, The Two of Us and Marilyn + Billy, both embarked on solo careers. While Davis focused on singing gospel, McCoo hosted Solid Gold and occasionally appeared on the soap opera, The Days of Our Lives, and had roles in other television shows, film, and on stage. In 2021, McCoo and Davis released their first studio album together in 30 years, Blackbird Lennon-McCartney Icons.
Foe the past 28 years, McCoo and Davis have had their own praise ministry called Soldiers For the Second Coming. Davis said, “The Lord gave me that vision. There is a group of us who sing praise songs and give testimony about what the Lord is doing in our lives so that we can build each other’s faith and our beliefs. It i
s a very lovable ministry, everybody comes, and we are on Facebook. It is just really nice.”
For more informati
on about Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., visit their website at For more information about their upcoming show at Bergen PAC, visit

2024 Meritorious and Valor Awards Recipients
The 200 Club of Morris County announces their 2024 Meritorious and Valor Awards recipients. The awards recognize outstanding service of first responders. Those whose lives are placed in danger receive the Valor Award. An act of Valor is an extraordinary event in which a person put his or her own safety aside. It is an act of extraordinary courage, which went beyond the call of duty. Very often, one’s life is at risk.
Those who perform above and beyond the call of duty, but whose life is not actually in danger, receive a Meritorious Award. Meritorious awards recognize individuals whose professional or volunteer activit
y rises above the expected norm for their profession.
Each January, Valor and Meritorious candidate recommendations are presented to The 200 Club of Morris County by our Public Safety VIP Liaisons: President of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association; Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police; President of the Morris County Alliance of Active Fire Chiefs; President of the Morris County EMS Alliance; Director of the Morris County Office of Emergency Management.
This year’s 22 local heroes are from the following towns and services in Morris County: Police departments: Boonton, Denville, Morristown, Mountain Lakes, Pequannock, Roxbury, Washington Township, Wharton. Fire departments: Boonton, Roxbury Co. 1. EMS: Roxbury, Saint Clare’s Health System, Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT).
A celebration takes place each April at which honorees are recognized by 200 Club members, their family and friends, members of the business community, as well as public safety officials from police, fire, emergency medical services and the New Jersey State Police.
This year’s 50th anniversary event will be held April 25 at Birchwood Manor in Whippany, NJ. The gala-style awards celebration event hosts over four hundred attendees. More than 700 dedicated first responders have been honored since 19
72 and can be viewed here:
Show your support through a sponsorship, celebratory ad, and tickets! Come enjoy an evening of tribute to these women and men to celebrate their service for others.
What is The 200 Club? For over 50 years, the non-profit organization has provided emotional and financial support to Morris County’s first responders and their families. Over 5 million dollars has been distributed by our organization including death benefits for families of the fallen and over 725 scholarships to high school seniors.
Questions? Contact Club Administrator Lori Richmond at 973-630-7933 or

County College of Morris Dean Recognized as S.H.I.N.E.
Award Recipient

Dr. Maria Isaza Named S.H.I.N.E. Educator of the Year in Higher Education Category

County College of Morris (CCM) is pleased to announce that Dr. Maria Isaza, Dean of the School of Health Professions and Natural Sciences, has been recognized as a S.H.I.N.E. (Serves, Helps, Inspires, Nurtures, and Excels) Award recipient by Child & Family Resources. Dr. Isaza received the award for the S.H.I.N.E. Educator of the Year in the Higher Education category on Thursday, March 7 at the annual S.H.I.N.E. Educator of the Year Awards Gala.
At this year’s Gala, Dr. Isaza was one of four professionals honored as Educator of the Year.  The purpose of the award is to acknowledge educators who exemplify the spirit of Child & Family Resources’ mission and values and whose professional practice and advocacy for the profession are deemed exemplary. Established in 1972, the mission of Child & Family Resources is to support the development of children, by delivering high quality, responsive, and dynamic professional development to enhance the lifelong learning of families, childcare professionals and the community. 

“Dr. Isaza is an exceptional educator and leader,” said Dr. Anthony Iacono, President of CCM. “She is a truly remarkable person who has touched an inestimable number of lives. CCM is very fortunate to have her as a part of our leadership team and New Jersey is fortunate to have a leader of her caliber in the state. I am incredibly proud of her, as is our entire college.”
Dr. Isaza is a CCM alumna and graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the College of St. Elizabeth in 2002. She then received her Ph. D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 2009. She served as the Chairperson of the Biology and Chemistry Department for CCM for eight years and became t
he Dean of the School of Health Professions and Natural Sciences in 2021. As the Dean, she leads a dedicated and enthusiastic team of faculty members who are committed to providing premier educational programs in the areas of biological, chemical, and environmental sciences; health professions including nursing, radiography, respiratory therapy, paramedic science, and occupational therapy assistant; exercise science and personal trainer; landscape and horticultural technology; teacher education specializations and public health.
“I am extremely honored to be one of this year’s S.H.I.N.E. Award recipients,” said Dr. Maria Isaza, Dean of the School of Health Professions and Natural Sciences at CCM. “My fellow awardees are an outstanding group of educators that exemplify S.H.I.N.E’s pillars and it is an honor to be among them. Receiving this award is especially meaningful to me since it recognizes values that are so significant for me such as education and community service.”
Dr. Isaza is also a very active member of her community and is passionate about serving and giving back. She has been a board member of the Advocacy Committee at Employment Horizons since 2019 and was selected by the County Commissioners in 2019 to serve on the Morris Area Paratransit System Citizens Advisory Committee. Dr. Isaza has also been serving as the chair of the Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs since 2021 and has been on the Board since 2015.
For more information about CCM, visit For more information specifically about the School of Health Professions and Natural Sciences, visit

No Tax Rate Increase in Morris County Budget for 5th Consecutive Year
Budget Structurally Balanced; 8.8% Ratable Growth Offsets Costs
 The Morris County Board of County Commissioners tonight introduced their 2024 Budget with no increase in the tax rate for a fifth consecutive year, due to another year of growing ratables and prudent fiscal management to overcome rising costs.
 “Despite state mandates driving up costs and hikes in expenses that are out of our control, such as health care costs, Morris County is again introducing a thoughtful, fiscally responsible budget. It addresses our obligation as County Commissioners to provide the services our residents require and deserve. It makes the investments necessary to keep Morris County the premier county in New Jersey, and yet it still enables us to keep the tax rate flat,” said Commissioner Deborah Smith, Chair of the Commissioners’ Budget Committee.
The proposed $365.3 million spending plan was presented to the full board by the Budget Committee, including Commissioners Doug Cabana and John Krickus. The plan continues to prioritize investments in public safety, infrastructure, education and economic development, and expands services to veterans.
Highlights in the budget include:

A combined $77.8 million towards public safety.

  • More than $24 million to support education, including career training at the County College of Morris and the Morris County Vocational School District.
  • A record $900,000 invested in Economic Development and Tourism, with $100,000 for planning Morris County’s celebration of the American Revolution.
  • $9 million to support the Morris County Park Commission, stewards of the largest county park system in New Jersey (20,455 acres of parkland)
  • Adding $300,000 to homeless services provided by the Office of Temporary Assistance, with a total of $38.1 million for Human Services and Health Services.

 View the Budget Presentation
“Public safety remains a paramount interest.  The 2024 Budget provides strong funding to our Sheriff’s Department, his Patrol Division, the
Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and our Department of Law & Public Safety,” said Commissioner Krickus, noting public safety spending is being increased by more than $3 million.
Prudent fiscal management and an 8.8 percent increase in ratables also helped Morris County to address growing expenses forced by mounting state mandates on operations at the Morris County Clerk’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Our 2024 Budget also continues the Preservation Trust Fund investments that bolster the quality of life here and attract the people and businesses making Morris County the premier place to live, work and raise a family,” said Commissioner Krickus. “To date, we have invested $169 million in farmland preservation, $295 million in open space preservation, $50 million into historic preservation, $100 million into flood mitigation and $5 million in trail design and construction.”
The budget
also focuses on the needs of veterans and families facing homelessness.
“We continu
e to expand our commitment to our veterans by funding a fourth Veterans Service Officer and a seasonal intern. We also are expanding our services to the growing homeless population,” said Commissioner Doug Cabana.
“We certainly are grateful to have nonprofit partners helping us to address the needs of our neighbors who find themselves seeking shelter. But it should be understood by everyone that the Morris County’s Human Services Department and its Office of Temporary Assistance serve the majority of our homeless population — and the most troubled individuals found in that population,” added Commissioner Cabana.
The 2024 Budget doubles to $300,000 a line item in emergency assistance funding to shelter and support people experiencing homelessness. The bud
get also allocates another $150,000 toward funding allocated to prevent people from becoming homeless.
The introduced 2024 Budget also includes the 2024 Capital Spending Plan initially presented in December, putting nearly $35 million toward many projects, among them road resurfacing, improving intersections replacing bridges in the county and maintaining county facilities.
The Morris County Commissioners will consider adoption of the 2024 Budget at their Wednesday, April 10, 2024 public meeting.







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