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Anti-Blue Law Activist, Alleged Mobster, New Bridge Top This Week's News

Here's a look at the past week in Westwood, Hillsdale and Washington Township.

Westwood Resident Seeks to Repeal Bergen Blue Laws

One Westwood resident is fed up with Bergen County's "blue laws" and is working to have the "old fashioned" rules appealed.

Rosemary Shashoua has found some like-minded county residents and started a new group called "Modernize Bergen County" with the goal of repealing the blue laws, the rules which prohibit the sale of items like clothing, furniture and appliances on Sundays.

Alleged Ramsey Mobster 'Papa Smurf' Accused of Running Trash Scam

A reputed mobster and former Hillsdale business owner known as "Papa Smurf" was charged Wednesday in a widespread federal sweep targeting a mob-run conspiracy to control the trash-hauling industry in New York and New Jersey. 

Ramsey resident Carmine Franco, a 77-year-old Genovese Crime Family associate who had two prior convictions in connection with organized crime in the trash removal industry, was allegedly the ring leader of a scheme to control crooked waste management companies, law enforcement officials said Wednesday. 

Franco and a brother formerly owned the Sal Car transfer station in Hillsdale, which they later sold to Waste Management.

Schroeder Removed From All Committee Assignments

Committee assignments to State Assemblyman Robert Schroeder have been revoked, a Republican spokesman confirmed Monday.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, removed Schroeder from his assignments after Republican Leader Jon Bramnick called requested the move. Bramnick had also called for Schroeder to resign his seat after a grand jury indicted him for financial crimes totalling millions last month.

chroeder has served on the financial institutions and insurance committee, the homeland security and state preparedness committee and the special committee on economic development, according to his website.

County Building New Patterson Street Bridge

Bergen County is expected to begin a long-awaited project this year to build a new bridge on Patterson Street in Hillsdale.

Hillsdale Mayor Max Arnowitz said the project has been anticipated for years, as the old bridge has been deteriorating. Holes in the bridge were recently patched with metal and, during Hurricane Floyd, pressure from passing water in the Pascack Brook actually make the bridge sway, he said.

The new bridge will be slightly higher and built to allow water to pass under it more smoothly. The updated design may also help alleviate some flooding, accordig to Arnowitz.

Westwood Fire Department Holding Drills in Flood-Prone Homes

The Westwood Fire Department will be holding drills in three homes the borough recently purchased as part of a flood buyout program.

Firefighters will practice putting up ladders, stretching hoses and crawling through the dark in their gear — with their masks blacked out to simulate smoke conditions — at the three houses before they are demolished, according to Fire Chief Jaymee Hodges.

The borough closed on the three homes earlier this month, paying slightly more than $1 million total for the properties.

Hillsdale Considering 'Silver' Sustainability Certification

The Hillsdale Council will need to decide whether or not they want to pursue a "silver" certification from Sustainable Jersey, a program which provides incentives for towns which use environmentally-friendly policies.

The Green Team previously worked on a project to achieve bronze certification for the borough three years ago, but that is expiring. 

Sustainable Jersey offers different numbers of points for various policies, ordinances and other programs a municipality uses or offers its residents. 

The program has benefits beyond those to the environment. Hillsdale has received grants for items like the borough's recycling bins thanks to the Green Team's involvement in Sustainable Jersey.

Joan Crowley Fytelson January 20, 2013 at 09:48 PM
How can I join the group I would love them repealed too
TommyPaine January 21, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I felt the same way. When it came up on the ballot several years ago I stunned myself by voting to keep the blue laws. Without them very day is the same. Same traffic, same crowds. A walk or bike ride on Sunday is a delight.

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