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School Generator Scandal, Eight-Year-Old Hero, New Businesses Top This Week's News

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

Westwood Regional Schools Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller apologized Thursday for taking home a district-owned truck and generator for Hurricane Sandy and leaving them there while he went away on vacation.

"I made a monumental error in judgment," Zoeller said.

The board did not take any action regarding Zoeller at the meeting, but held closed session meetings before and after the regular public meeting to discuss him.

Westwood Education Association President Barry Albert called for Zoeller to step down because of a recent non-binding WEA vote of 222-19 of "no confidence" in Zoeller's ability to lead the district with integrity.

Eight-Year-Old Hero Commended by Hillsdale Police

Hillsdale Police commended Lisa Donne and 8-year-old Ryan Nicita Monday for saving three lives June 22.

A group of Hillsdale residents had gathered for a pool party after the last day of school that afternoon, and a mother spotted two boys struggling to swim in the pool, according to Police Chief Chip Stalter. The woman jumped in to help them, but she also had trouble swimming and sank to the bottom of the deep end.

Nicita jumped in the pool and first helped the two other boys safely out of the water, then tried to get the woman out. He was unable, so he ran to find help.

New Westwood Store Specializes in 'One-of-a-Kind'

If you've ever wanted to own Lou Gehrig's insurance policy or a banner from a 1940s sideshow, a new business in Westwood has exactly what you're looking for.

Team Baker Gallery, located in the former Learning Express on Center Avenue, specializes in rare collectable Americana, sports, music, art and political memorabilia. 

A new European-style coffee bar in Westwood is offering freshly-roasted coffee and crepes prepared from traditional Parisian recipes.

Sogno Coffeehouse opened last week under the direction of husband-wife team John and Alissa Vitale. The coffeehouse has a variety of moderately priced options — a crepe with coffee runs between $6 and $8.25 — in a setting inspired by traditional European coffeehouses and creperies.

Hurricane Sandy Emergency Costs to Hit 2013 Budget

Emergency costs for Hurricane Sandy will roll over into next year's budget, but the total amount had not yet been determined, according to Hillsdale officials.

Mayor Max Arnowitz had authorized department managers to spend as they saw fit during the storm and its aftermath as some supplies ran low and many residents faced power outages lasting for days. The borough and Old Tappan had to search for gas for municipal vehicles and generators, eventually finding some in Massachusetts. Police had to work overtime to cover the numerous calls coming in and long lines of traffic waiting at gas stations. DPW crews also had to put in extra hours after the storm to pick up the large amounts of debris left by the storm.

Hillsdale Police swore-in their new sergeant and patrolman this week.

Sergeant Sean Smith and Patrolman Ryan Norton both took their oaths of office Monday, officially marking their new positions, though they had already been serving.

Hillsdale House Thanks Community For Support During Outage

Hillsdale and Westwood residents and restaurants rallied around the senior citizens who live at Hillsdale House after Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to the apartment complex.

By the Wednesday after the storm, residents were living in the dark and running low on food and batteries.

As word of the residents' situation spread, restaurants and community groups began bringing in food to help out. Families brought their children to spend some time with the residents, even if they weren't related to anyway who lived there. Teens who had volunteered at Hillsdale House came back for a few rounds of bingo.

Power had been restored to all of Westwood, Washington Township and Hillsdale by Sunday morning, according to data from PSE&G.

There were only 45 power outages in Bergen County remaining from Hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Jim Leggate at Jim.Leggate@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Chris Houghton November 18, 2012 at 01:35 PM
The taking of an emergency generator for your personal use when an emergency is pending (or any time) and not returning it while you go on vacation, and then walking away with nothing but an "I'm sorry" doesn't cut it with me. A generator might be used to help keep power going for a hospital or other important facility. The lack of it might lead to someone's death. A person with this kind of self centered point of view shouldn't be anywhere near children or their teaching.
George November 20, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Huh? - "Hospitals or other important facilities" don't borrow 5,000 watt generators from schools districts during a crisis. They actually plan ahead.


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