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School Generator Scandal, Hurricane Sandy, Cat Burglar Top November's News

Here's a look at the most popular stories from Westwood, Hillsdale and Washington Township in November.

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. Zoeller did not waive his confidentiality rights, so members of the public, including Zoeller himself, were not permitted to sit in on the closed meetings.

Board of Education attorney Rodney Hara confirmed that the board was conducting an investigation of Zoeller. Any action will be taken during a public meeting, according to board President Carol Mountain.

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.

Westwood Regional Schools Superintendent Geoffrey Zoeller confirmed that he was "taking some vacation time," but told Patch via email that it was untrue he had been forced to take a leave by the Board of Education.

Rumors circulated this week that Zoeller had been forced to take a leave of absence pending a review by the Board of Education after he took home a district-owned generator and truck for Hurricane Sandy, and left them there while away on vacation in Florida

A Nor'easter headed toward New Jersey could slow the cleanup from Hurricane Sandy and even cause more power outages, Governor Chris Christie said Tuesday.

Forecasters have predicted the storm will hit New Jersey Wednesday and could bring gusts of 50 or 60 miles per hour. Crews cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy and restoring power are not allowed up in their bucket trucks if winds hit 40 miles per hour or more.

"If you've gotten power, some of you may lose power again," Christie said.

Gas Rationing Begins Saturday in 12 Counties

A system for dispensing gas is to begin Saturday to combat long lines at the pump in 12 counties throughout the state.

According to a release from the Governor's Office, citizens of the following counties are now limited on the days in which they can fill up their gas tanks, as per the state Office of Emergency Management: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren.

According to the state, plates ending in an even number can fill up on even numbered days of the month, while plates ending in an odd number can fill up on odd numbered days of the month.

Several polling locations in Westwood, Hillsdale and Washington Township for the election have been changed because of ongoing power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.

In Westwood, voters from districts 3 and 8 will use the Municipal Complex instead of Brookside School.

Hillsdale residents who were supposed to vote at Meadowbrook School will instead vote at George G. White Middle School.

Washington Township voters in districts 1, 3 and 5 will use Town Hall instead of George School.

Pascack Valley residents, many still without power, flocked to local businesses in search of electricity, gas and other supplies after Hurricane Sandy Wednesday and Thursday.

As residents ran low on gas for their cars and generators, they lined up for blocks to buy gas at any station that had both power and fuel. Sandy DeMilt said dozens of cars were waiting at the Shell in Hillsdale within five minutes of emplyees arriving.

Employees at the Gulf in Hillsdale reported that two customers had a shouting match when one tried to cut in line. Shortly before 11 a.m., Jennifer Garlan said she had been waiting in line since 8:15. The line stretched all the way down to Timmy's Service Center in Westwood.

In Westwood, Vinny Losaco said he saw a tanker arrive at Express and immediately got in line, which went up Madison Avenue and turned onto Washington Avenue. Police had to cut the line at the train tracks. 

'Cat Burglar' Hits Two Washington Township Homes

Two Hampshire Road homes were struck by a "cat burglar" early Wednesday morning, according to Washington Township Police.

The homes had apparently been broken into while the residents were sleeping inside, police said.

An investigation found one home had been entered via an unlocked door, and a door of the other home was pried open.

The burglar got away with jewelrey and cash. Police did not say how much the stolen items were worth.

Governor Christie Visits Berkeley Elementary School

Governor Chris Christie visited fifth grade students from Ms. Magliato's and Ms. Finkelstein's classes at Berkeley Elementary School Tuesday.

The governor fielded questions from students on subjects ranging from his favorite hobbies — reading, since he doesn't have time to coach his kids' baseball or softball teams — to plans for a run at the presidency — "We'll see."

Christie also spoke to reporters about the state's continuing efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy, and the possible problems a forecast Nor'easter could cause for that recovery.

He praised school districts like Westwood, which had held combined sessions at two schools Monday, and at one school Tuesday, because of ongoing power outages.

Local officials have canceled Halloween and are advising parents to not let their children go trick-or-treating because of hazardous conditions from Hurricane Sandy.

CC December 01, 2012 at 09:54 PM
You guys kill me! You really think they should fire this guy? Do you have any idea what it means to be the BOSS??? He is the BOSS and if he wants to take stuff, its his to take in my opinion. I pay his salary and I think he has to do whatever it takes to run the district HIS WAY. Take that van home every day if you want Dr. Z, it is YOURS. WEA-My kids love their teachers and have no complaints, but stay out of the local politics bc if you don't live in the district, I don't care what you think. Inappropriate comments to HS girls? so-tell him not to talk to HS kids, right? Some brialliant people in history have had strange social skills, but they got the job done anyay. Balance the budget, build us a great football stadium (uh, already did that) and keep our HS ranking going in the right direction. bingo, we win!!! Racial comments...doesn't sound good when you read it in the paper, but who knows if he even said anything that bad. So he spends a lot of time and school resources on the boy scouts? Let him, everybody needs a hobby. Not every boy scout is a creep you know. I hear Tabeek makes a mean pot of coffee! He should be allowed to take the gennie home AGAIN if he wants it. He prob had it during Irene too and didn't get caught! You people kill me, you all have big stuff to say until it comes to talking to the BOE, then its --------------------silence.
The Iron Hoarse December 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
CC, did you read the excuses he gave in the November 9 article in The Record (see link) http://www.northjersey.com/news/After_storm_Westwood_schools_chief_took_generator_home.html He said that he needed the van, which is used to cart food between schools in the district and is not what you would want to travel through a flooded area in, to travel back and forth after the storm. Well, it is speculated, even known by some, that he had a janitor and a maintenance man load the generator on the van for him on Friday before the storm hit on Monday. In all likelihood he never came to Westwood in the aftermath of the storm. Who did he contact? Not the BOE according to Mr. Blundo, who at the BOE meeting on November 8 said that Zoeller contacted no one on the BOE. Besides, Boonton, the superintendent's home town was even flooded! Not that the low van would help to combat if it was. He lied to everyone, the BOE, the parents, the teachers, and the media. He got a lot of practice according to the word around the district for he took a generator home with him in August 2011 when Hurricane Irene hit the northeast. The other stuff you refer to is not rumor, He's "The Boss" you say. You have to be kidding. Maybe you confused him with Bruce Springsteen, at least that "Boss" did a telethon to raise money for the victims of Sandy.
WW Cardinal Parent December 03, 2012 at 03:15 PM
FYI - he isn't "The Boss". He does not own Westwood School District and everything associated with it. The District and contents therein belong to the taxpayers who are the BOSSES! You would have to be his mom or a football parent to make a comment like that - and just as self-centered. Wake up! He is a thief and a pervert! You like the majority of the people should be ashamed to let a man of this character lead your children's school district. Its the teachers who get the numbers raised on the state tests which in turn raises the state ranking. It is the school principals who make the teachers happy NOT ZOELLER!! He brings everyone down. Just ask around. His biggest thing is the football field and you want to keep him? Seriously? You wouldn't happen to be the football parent who has Zoeller's cell phone number and texts him during weekend get-togethers with other parents are you? Get it straight, Zoller works for the taxpayers. The taxpayers should come to the meetings and get him out. They should also vote to get most of the current Zoeller-ass-kissing Board replaced.

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