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ICE arrests 105 in New Jersey operation targeting criminal aliens and public safety threats

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

NEWARK NJ,  Four individuals in the country illegally who have Interpol warrants based on crimes they committed in their home countries were among 105 foreign nationals taken into custody during a five-day operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last week in New Jersey.  The operation, which was spearheaded by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), targeted at-large criminal aliens, illegal re-entrants and other immigration violators and was supported by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) New Jersey Field Office.

Of those arrested during the operation, 80 percent had prior criminal convictions and/or pending criminal charges.“These outstanding results, which were made possible by our officers and law enforcement partners, highlight the tremendous commitment that ICE ERO has to public safety throughout the state,” said John Tsoukaris, Field Office Director of ERO Newark. “Our focus has been and will continue to be on arrests of illegal aliens who have been convicted of serious crimes or those who pose a threat to public safety.”          

These individuals will go through removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge or for those under a final order of removal, arrangements will be made to remove them from the U.S.  

The individuals arrested throughout New Jersey were nationals of Brazil (6), Canada (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Cuba (2), Dominican Republic (10), Ecuador (4), Egypt (1), El Salvador (8), Guatemala (13), Honduras (7), Jamaica (4), Korea (2), Mexico (28), Peru (4), Philippines (1), Poland (1), Russia (1), Serbia (1), Slovakia (2), Spain (1), Taiwan (1), Trinidad (1), and Venezuela (4).

These individuals were arrested in the following counties in New Jersey: Atlantic (1), Bergen (4), Burlington (1), Camden (1), Essex (6), Gloucester (2), Hudson (24), Hunterdon (1), Mercer (12), Middlesex (10), Monmouth (14), Morris (3), Ocean (2), Passaic (11), Somerset (1), and Union (10). Also, two (2) individuals were arrested in New York. They range from age 18 to 65 years old and most were previously convicted of a variety of offenses. Some of the convictions included sexual assault on a minor, child abuse, possession of narcotics, distribution of narcotics, extortion, DUI, fraud, domestic violence, theft, possession of a weapon, robbery, promoting prostitution, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, shoplifting and illegal reentry.

Among those arrested during this operation include:

  • In Palisades Park, a 59-year-old Korean national, who has an Interpol warrant to serve his sentence for the crime of indecent acts by compulsion causing bodily injury;
  • In Palisades Park, a 44-year-old Korean national, who has an Interpol warrant to serve his sentence for the crime of distribution of psychotropic drugs;
  • In West New York, a 34-year-old Ecuadorian national, who has an Interpol warrant for the crime of fraud;
  • In Paterson, a 54-year-old Russian national, who has an Interpol warrant for the crime of large scale fraud;
  • In Union City, a 35-year-old Ecuadorian national, who has a conviction of forcible touching on a child;
  • In Jersey City, a 35-year-old Venezuelan national, who has a conviction of distribution of narcotics;
  • In Union City, a 52-year-old Mexican national, who has a conviction of promoting prostitution with a child.
  • In New Brunswick, a 34-year-old Honduran national, who has a conviction of Endangering the Welfare of a Child;
  • In Bayonne, a 43-year-old Canadian national, who has a conviction of distribution of narcotics on school grounds;
  • In Jamesburg, a 25-year-old previously deported Guatemalan national, who was arrested for aggravated assault and possession of a weapon. An ICE detainer was lodged with Middlesex County Jail but they refused to honor the ICE detainer and released the subject;
  • In Toms River, a 28-year-old Egyptian national, who has three convictions for possession and distribution of narcotics;
  • In Jersey City, a 41-year-old Taiwanese national, who has convictions for extortion and bank fraud;
  • In Atlantic City, a 38-year-old Cuban national, who has a conviction for aggravated criminal sexual contact;
  • In New Brunswick, a 48-year-old Jamaican national, who has convictions for conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a weapon;
  • In Freehold a 28-year-old El Salvadorian national, who is a member of MS-13;
  • In New Brunswick, a 19-year-old Mexican national, who is a member of the 18th street gang;
  • In Newark, a 31-year-old Mexican national, who is a member of the Surenos-13th street gang;

This operation was pre-planned and not as a result of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Directive last week limiting local and state law enforcement cooperation with ICE. ICE will of necessity have to conduct additional enforcement operations, if local police departments and county jails do not refer criminals and gang members they encounter to ICE for review and possible arrest on immigration violations.

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UPDATE: Bergen County Historical Society Retreat Weekend, today, from 12 pm to 4

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

New Bridge Landing NJ, from the Bergen County Historical Society , Good morning Bergen County! The snow is gone and Historic New Bridge Landing will be open today November 18, Sunday, from 12-4 pm as we bring to life one of the important stories that occurred on this hallowed ground.

On November 20th, 1776, five thousand British, Hessian and Loyalist troops, under command of Lt. Gen. Lord Cornwallis, scaled the Palisades at Lower Closter Dock and marched against Fort Lee. Warned by an alert officer, the American garrison escaped entrapment by safely crossing the Hackensack River at New Bridge, now known as the Bridge That Saved a Nation, and lived to fight another day.

Continue reading UPDATE: Bergen County Historical Society Retreat Weekend, today, from 12 pm to 4

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Palisades artist Robert Adzema will be exhibiting his sundials at The Art Gallery at the Stable in Ridgewood

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Ridgewood Parks & Recreation presents , Palisades artist Robert Adzema will be exhibiting his sundials at The Art Gallery at the Stable in Ridgewood, New Jersey from Nov. 1 thru Nov. 30th 2018.

Continue reading Palisades artist Robert Adzema will be exhibiting his sundials at The Art Gallery at the Stable in Ridgewood

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1 in10 New Jersey Residents is a Non-Citizen


August 1,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood

Hackensack NJ, New Jersey is home to about 900,000 residents who are not United States citizens . That’ equals about 1 in 10 people in the state, according to most recent estimates. Census figures put Ridgewood’s non-citizen population at about 2,000, or approximately 8 percent of the village’s 25,500 residents.

The Ridgewood Public Library even hosts six-week program meets twice weekly for 90-minute classes. It uses the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services booklet “Learn About the United States, Quick Civic Lessons for the Naturalization Test.”

The federal government is planning to have the 2020 Census ask people their citizenship status. Many elected officials and community advocates say such a question could threaten federal funding for states like New Jersey.

The simple solution would be to create more US citizens in order to safe guard Federal Funds .

The next Census Day is set for April 1, 2020, and a 2017 release from the U.S. Census Bureau identified the date for wording of all Census questions to be submitted to Congress as March 31 of this year. So for those fighting for a question on citizenship status to be excluded, the clock has been ticking for months already.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the issue the Ridgewood blog has listed the towns the have the largest concentration of Non-citizens in Bergen County .

Palisades Park
U.S.-born citizens: 6,887
Naturalized citizens: 6,057
Non-citizens: 7,215 — 35%

South Hackensack
U.S.-born citizens: 1,534
Naturalized citizens: 455
Non-citizens: 725 — 27%

U.S.-born citizens: 6,843
Naturalized citizens: 3,687
Non-citizens: 3,608 — 25%

Little Ferry
U.S.-born citizens: 5,669
Naturalized citizens: 2,570
Non-citizens: 2,431 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 25,272
Naturalized citizens: 8,238
Non-citizens: 9,631 — 22%

Fort Lee
U.S.-born citizens: 16,475
Naturalized citizens: 11,398
Non-citizens: 7,941 — 22%

U.S.-born citizens: 4,853
Naturalized citizens: 2,220
Non-citizens: 1,935 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 63
Naturalized citizens: 5
Non-citizens: 18 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 6,698
Naturalized citizens: 2,559
Non-citizens: 2,503 — 21%

U.S.-born citizens: 17,663
Naturalized citizens: 6,885
Non-citizens: 6,251 — 20%

U.S.-born citizens: 5,790
Naturalized citizens: 3,087
Non-citizens: 2,208 — 20%

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Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) service Extenting into Bergen County

July 5,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

What is Northern Branch?

The Northern Branch is a freight rail line owned by CSX Transportation that runs through Hudson and Bergen Counties to the New York State Border. The Northern Branch Corridor, through which the rail line traverses, is a densely settled suburban environment that has not been served by passenger rail since the discontinuation of service on the Northern Branch and West Shore Lines in the 1950s and 60s.

The Northern Branch Corridor Project calls for transit improvements in northeastern Hudson and southeastern Bergen Counties through the restoration of passenger rail service on an existing freight rail line. The electric light rail service would operate on West Side Avenue in North Bergen, and then on existing railroad right-of-way owned by CSX Transportation (CSX) between 91st Street in North Bergen and the northern border of Englewood and would introduce new station stops in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood.

Project Planning
The growth of automobile usage and accompanying roadway congestion in recent decades led planners and officials to search for solutions to the growing traffic problems in the Bergen County area. In the mid-1990s the West Shore Region Study provided a comprehensive examination of multi-modal opportunities throughout Bergen County, New Jersey and Rockland County, New York. Recommended for further study was an extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) from 85th Street in North Bergen along the Northern Branch to Tenafly, New Jersey.

The Northern Branch Corridor DEIS was prepared by NJ TRANSIT in cooperation with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to evaluate the benefits, costs and social, economic and environmental impacts of constructing and operating passenger rail service on the Northern Branch. The DEIS evaluated two Build Alternatives: the Preferred Alternative, which extended existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) service from North Bergen to the Tenafly-Cresskill border, and a similar HBLR extension that terminated at Route 4 in Englewood.

The DEIS was published in November 2011, and can be reviewed here: Northern Branch DEIS.

Public hearings were held in January 2012, and the public comment period closed on February 21, 2012. More than 1,200 comments were received and reviewed by NJ TRANSIT. While many comments expressed support for the service, residents and community leaders in Tenafly were strongly opposed to the extension of service into their community. After considering the comments, FTA and NJ TRANSIT have developed a new alignment that would extend HBLR service from North Bergen to Englewood Hospital, which is north of Route 4 and south of Tenafly. Light rail service would not extend past Englewood.

This new alignment results in changes to the service plan and potential environmental and social impacts explored in the DEIS circulated for comment in 2012. As a result, this new alignment and associated changes have been analyzed in a Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) and circulated for public comment and agency feedback in a process closely approximating the one undertaken for the DEIS.
The SDEIS was published on March 24, 2017, and can be reviewed here: Northern Branch SDEIS.

Similar to a DEIS, an SDEIS requires a public hearing and public comment period. The comments on the SDEIS and DEIS will be addressed together in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). A 60-day public comment period will follow the notice of availability (NOA) of the SDEIS, during which time NJ TRANSIT will hold a public hearing. Comments will be collected and reviewed in the same manner as conducted for the DEIS. Provided that the SDEIS comments do not present compelling arguments for substantial revision to the SDEIS Preferred Alternative, an FEIS will be prepared, incorporating the SDEIS findings and unchanged elements from the DEIS. A response to comments chapter will be included in the FEIS, addressing all comments received during the prior two comment periods.

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June 10,2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ramsey NJ, Thursday, June 14, 2018, 6:30 pm, Ramsey Golf & Country Club, NJ. More info on our website. Reservation deadline June 7. Mail check to BCHS, PO Box 55, River Edge, NJ 07661. $55.
We will meet this year’s award winners and elect officers and trustees.

Then Jennifer Rothschild will share highlights of Rudy Van Gelder’s work at “the cathedral of jazz,” the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs where jazz greats John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock and countless others created legendary recordings. The Rudy Van Gelder Home & Studio just received a Certificate of Eligibility for the NJ and National Registers of Historic Places in April 2018.

Bergen County Historical Society 2018 Awardees:
Maureen and Don Sickler, the Oratam Award for preservation of a landmark building, the Van Gelder House and Studio
Senator Loretta Weinberg, the Koehler Award for continuing enthusiasm and support for Historic New Bridge Landing
Matthew Wrightington, Life Scout with Troop 379 in Palisades Park, the Oratam Award for initiative, research and installation of 50 Retreat Markers in Bergen County
John Cookson, Eagle scout, Troop 2295, River Edge, the Oratam Award for initiative of BCHS Blue Marker restoration along Paramus Road
Kate Reilly, the Westervelt Award for her dedication as volunteer and trustee and for her leadership in advancing the professionalism of our corps of volunteers
Dave Clark accepting for the Ridgewood Country Club, the Oratam Award for preservation of the Ridgewood Country Club and open space through the National Register of Historic Places designation
Please join us for the BCHS Annual Dinner, Awards, Election & a Presentation by Jennifer Rothschild at the beautiful and historic Ramsey Golf & Country Club on June 14th.

How timely is this? We’re celebrating the Van Gelder Studios, the stewards of the property and artists that recorded there at our annual dinner June 14 with a talk and presentation of the BCHS Oratam award.
Search Bergen County History .org for info.

“Lost” John Coltrane Album to Be Released – Smithsonian


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NJ Transit Environmental Review to Move forward with Hudson-Bergen Light Rail expansion

NJT light rail


February 14, 2018

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, In a unanimous vote, the NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors approved the proposed alignment of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail’s planned expansion into Bergen County as described in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact statement dated March 2017. The selection of the “Locally Preferred Alternative” is required as part of the federal environmental review process.

The Board action also authorizes the submission of the Locally Preferred Alternative to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Board of Trustees for designation and inclusion in their Long-Range Regional Transportation Plan.

During Project Development the project sponsor must select a Locally Preferred Alternative; get the Locally Preferred Alternative adopted into the fiscally constrained metropolitan transportation plan; and complete the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

By selecting the Locally Preferred Alternative at this time, NJ TRANSIT will be able to initiate design and engineering activities upon completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and receipt of the Record of Decision from the FTA, in advance of requesting entry into Project Development.

Locally Preferred Alternative

The Locally Preferred Alternative consists of a 10-mile two-track extension of the HBLR from its current terminus at Tonnelle Avenue northward to the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, generally utilizing CSX Transportation’s Northern Branch running track. The project will construct a total of seven stations in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood (three stations) and parking for approximately 2,740 vehicles. Service is proposed to operate from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. with six-minute headways during the peak period and 15-minute headways during the off-peak period. It is estimated that the project will serve 12,370 passengers per average weekday in the year 2030.

See attached map for a visual of the route of the Locally Preferred Alternative.


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October 13,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Palisades Park, NJ , Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal announced the arrest of NIKOLAY LEVINSON (DOB: 6/08/83; single; and unemployed) of 407 Highland Avenue, Palisades Park, NJ on charges of terroristic threats, bias intimidation and harassment. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief Robert Anzilotti, the Paramus Police Department under the direction of Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg, the Fair Lawn Police Department under the direction of Chief Glen Cauwels, the Allendale Police Department under the direction of Chief George Scherb, the Englewood Police Department under the direction of Chief Lawrence Suffern, and the Fort Lee Police Department under the direction of Chief Keith Bendul.

Approximately two weeks ago, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office received information that three police officers from Paramus, Fair Lawn and Garfield had received harassing and threatening letters. During the same time period, several local businesses received letters that contained racial, homophobic, and threatening messages. As a result of the information received, members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Squad and local police departments initiated an investigation.  During the investigation, two more letters were sent to businesses in Englewood and Allendale.  These letters contained anti-Semitic and racist remarks.  The letters all appeared to be written by the same person and contained similar threatening remarks.

As a result of the investigation, NIKOLAY LEVINSON was arrested on October 10, 2017 in Palisades Park, New Jersey and charged with two counts of Terroristic Threats, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3A, a Third degree crime; three counts of Bias Intimidation, N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1a(2), a Third Degree Crime; and four counts of Harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4a, a Third Degree Crime. LEVINSON is presently being detained in the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing scheduled for Monday, October 16, 2017.

Prosecutor Grewal states that these charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and would also like to thank the Paramus Police Department, Fair Lawn Police Department, Allendale Police Department, Englewood Police Department and the Fort Lee Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.

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Christie Vetoes “Airbnb” Tax Bill


July 23,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation on Friday that would have imposed taxes on the state’s burgeoning “home-sharing” industry.

The bill was an effort to target and regulate an industry dominated by San Francisco-based Airbnb, even as some municipalities in the state move toward banning the practice within their borders.

According to committee testimony Airbnb had 260,000 rentals in New Jersey last year alone and some municipalities such as Jersey City and Newark already have reached agreements with Airbnb to collect 6 percent fees. Other towns primarily those in Atlantic and Cape May counties, and near the New Jersey Meadowlands are permitted to charge additional taxes and fees.

Currently about 17 towns In New Jersey, mostly in Northern New Jersey closer to New York City, have chosen to bar such rentals, including Palisades Park, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Lyndhurt and Glen Rock.

Not surprisingly the bill two major proponents are the New Jersey Hotel and Lodging Association and the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association.

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NJT Holds Public Hearings on Bergen Light Rail

Trolly Car HBLR

Northern Branch expansion will bring light rail into Bergen County

April 24, 2017

the Staff of the Ridgewood blog

ENGLEWOOD, NJ — NJ TRANSIT today continued to advance the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system into Bergen County by holding two public hearings as part of the environmental review process.

The hearings, held at the Englewood Crowne Plaza, are part of a 60-day public comment period on the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS).   The Northern Branch SDEIS documents the social, economic, and environmental impacts associated with the construction of the proposed action.

This comment period began on March 24, 2017, when the SDEIS was published, and runs through May 23, 2017.  During this time, members of the public are invited to review the SDEIS document and submit their comments in writing or by attending one of the public hearings.  Today’s public hearings included a formal presentation, an open house with information and displays as well as the ability for members of the public to submit oral or written comments.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, NJ TRANSIT will collect and review all of the comments. Provided that the SDEIS comments do not present compelling arguments for substantial revision, a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) will be prepared for review by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  The culmination of the process is that the FTA will issue a Record of Decision (ROD) approving the project to advance to engineering.  Once the ROD is issued and funding is identified, the project could then advance to final engineering, as well as the negotiation of an agreement with the freight railroads (CSX and NYS&W), and into construction.

About Northern Branch project

The Northern Branch project will extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system by 10 miles and include seven new station stops in five municipalities.  The electric light rail service would operate on West Side Avenue in North Bergen, and then on existing railroad right-of-way owned by CSX Transportation (CSX) between 91st Street in North Bergen and the northern border of Englewood and would introduce new station stops in North Bergen, Ridgefield, Palisades Park, Leonia, and Englewood.

The extension is projected to add 12,370 customers to the system making 24,740 trips on an average weekday.  The existing Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system transports approximately 26-thousand customers making 52-thousand trips on an average weekday (FY16).