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Questions remain in horrific East Orange crash

Caption_-_A_makeshift_shrine_was_made_at_the_site_of_the_crashEAST ORANGE - Family and friends of the three men who were killed in a head-on July 9 crash here on South Grove Street have not let the lack of a funeral announcement as of 5 p.m. July 16 from grieving.

They, plus family and friends of the two women injured in the other vehicle, those on the NJTransit No. 90 bus who witnessed the collision, and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office are looking for answers since the accident happened just south of the Central Avenue intersection at about 8:50 p.m. July 9.

Neither the ECPO Accident Investigation Unit, which surveyed the scene overnight July 9-10, nor the medical examiner, have announced what caused the crash that killed East Orange 24-year-olds Tyrief Parker and Dean Scovil and Kebeer Bishop, 20 of Newark.

"We had a head-on accident involving a car and a small SUV," said Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly to WABC Channel 7 Eyewitness News at the scene July 9. "The three men in the car are dead; the two women in the SUV are injured."

County Prosecutors released Bishop, Parker and Scovil's identities by 5:30 p.m. July 10. The identities of the two Irvington women - besides their 74- and 54- year-old ages and that they were taken to a local hospital - were otherwise undisclosed.

Authorities also released videotapes of the accident from outside Crosstown Plumbing Supply at 190 So. Grove St. The tapes are from two cameras from two different angles. There is also a third tape, from aboard the No. 90 NABI bus, being examined.

The videotapes show a northbound Nissan Maxima having crossed Grove Street's double yellow line into the southbound lane. The Maxima hit the southbound Toyota 4-Runner head on and spinning onto the westside walkway.

The southbound No. 90 bus stopped just short of the wreck. Several riders reported minor injuries.

All three vehicles came to a rest across from a closed warehouse along the street's east side. The warehouse is the second building south of the Central Avenue intersection's southeastern corner - and a parking lot north of the plumbing supply house.

Witnesses told investigators and media outlets that the Maxima was trying to pass the bus. They also complained that the stretch on South Grove between Central Avenue and South Orange Avenue a quarter-mile south is notorious for speeding.

"Local Talk," when visiting the section 6:30 p.m. July 15 and 2 p.m. July 16, noticed the double yellow line between those two avenues. The only breaks there are for 12th Avenue and Grain Street and a now-closed and gated west side street.

State law forbids crossing the double yellow line - something that motorists leaving Central avenue visits can attest to in East Orange Municipal Court.

The street between Grain and Central is one lane each direction, without any curbside parking, speed bumps or rumble strips.

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery runs along the entire fifth-mile stretch's west side. Seven houses, Raiken Memorials office and between six and 11 Jewish cemeteries line the east side.

Several new fence sections along the west side plus several open gate gaps and toppled gravestones attest to motorists' past off-course excursions.

A makeshift shrine, marked by 171 candles, three RIP t-shirts, Mylar balloons and stuffed animals, marks the Maxima's resting place. An on-scene reporter quoted 30 candles 5:30 p.m. July 10.

East Orange Sgt. Maurice Boyd referred questions to county prosecutors.

82 degrees of separation

Orange_Public_LibraryORANGE - The Orange City Council intends to settle the 2014 Calendar Year Municipal Budget's departmental allocations and approve an $8.7 million bond issue at a special meeting set for City Hall here at 7 p.m. June 26.

Council's resolving the budget before July 1 cannot come soon enough for the Orange Fire Department, Orange Police Department, Department of Public Works and the Orange Public Library.

All four departments, like other municipal functions, have been operating on monthly temporary or emergency appropriations since Jan. 1 while Mayor Dwayne Warren's administrators and the council resolve a final budget. All four department heads, who made their own presentations last month, have been lobbying the council for either the bond issue's passage or for an increased allocation.

Respective OFD Fire Director Michael Dowd, OPD Director Hakim Sims and DPW, Engineering and Planning Director Marty Mays were in the City Hall Council Chamber June 17, joining two public speakers in passing the bond issue.

Dowd and Sims left, however, after the council voted to table the bond ordinance for eight more days at 10:35 p.m. Mays, representing the Warren Administration, stayed until the meeting's 11:30 p.m. adjournment. The council, in a 4-2 split vote, decided to table the ordinance again until the city's bond counsel can weigh in on June 26.

OPL Director Timur Davis, while not at June 17's meeting, is also pressing the council to increase its library line item allocation to beyond the state formulated $503,000 minimum. Davis, speaking at the OPL Board of Trustees' monthly meeting June 12, is concerned that the library may have to close on 82-plus degree days should a High Volume Air Conditioning chiller unit is not replaced.

"We have had old estimates of $81,000 to replace the chiller," said Davis June 12. "Air conditioning is one of the reasons people come to the library. If we don't get that replaced, we may have to close the library on days when the temperature goes above 82 degrees by state law."

Davis, in his monthly report, praised the library staff for their efforts and programs since OPL's Jan. 14 reopening. He listed getting appropriate computer software soon so the library can retrieve payroll and accounting from the city government.

Davis noted, however, that the $503,000 proposed minimum would prevent the library from replacing the chiller or to hire additional needed staff. The director added that there appears to be a communication gap between library leaders and council members.
"We gave them every document they requested," said Davis, "except one; that was a personnel item."

Davis and the four trustee meanwhile agreed that he should make a new round of chiller replacement cost estimates; the $81,000 quote goes back to 2011.

A Warren administrator meanwhile provided a two-sided "2014 Bond - Anticipated Use" document in the council chamber's fourth floor lobby.

Dowd, on one side, listed $1,475,500 worth of "right-now" vehicle and equipment replacement. The breakdown comes out to $950,000 to replace the 1991 Pierce Ladder One truck, $475,000 to replace the 1990 Pierce Engine Three and $50,000 worth of high-pressure fire hose.

"The (1990 Pierce) engine is serving as a front line piece and is over the 15-year National Fire Protection Association replacement recommendation by eight years," stated the handout. "The 40-gal, gas tank has been replaced on numerous occasions; the 750-gal. water tank was welded in numerous spots to slow the water leaks. There is body and frame rust throughout the entire apparatus.

"This' the department's only Ladder Company with no spare," said the statement of the 1991 Pierce ladder truck. "The city doesn't have the ability of reaching heights above three stories. (It) is over the NFPA replacement recommendation by seven years. The body, frame and most importantly the stabilizers/outriggers've obvious signs of rust throughout."

Sims, on the other side, lists $1,000,682 worth of vehicles and equipment. That "Vehicles and Critical Accessories" amount includes 14 Ford SUV Patrol vehicles at $36,549 for $511,683, a $38,335 Ford F-250, 15 radios at $13,950 for $209,250, 15 touchpad in-car laptop computers for $68,368 and 15 dash camera systems at $173,046. The $294,411 worth of "Communication Systems and Equipment includes $88,567 for portable radios.

"What I've allocated in the bond issue is what's necessary," said Sims in response to North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason's questions on speed radar guns. "We can get the radar units through other means."

Mays, as DPW Director, wants four vehicles for $460,000. That breaks down to two street sweepers at $180,000 each and two $50,000 senior buses.

"We've gone over many iterations of this bond issue and its line items," said Mays. "We've answered all questions that have been brought to us and we received unanimous approval from the (state) Local Finance Board. I've had residents come to us over the winter saying their streets haven't been plowed; that's because we're at the limit of our equipment and we would've to outsource."
William Hathaway, speaking as a DPW employee, also urged bond passage. Hathaway opined that the equipment is needed in all departments, "even with the TV 35 equipment."

TV 35 has carried live-only council meetings for almost two years. Technical difficulties left only the camera facing the public speaker lectern throughout the scheduled 4.5-hour session. Live viewers were otherwise treated to the "Local Talk" reporter taking notes on screen for two hours.

Mays was referring to the June 11 New Jersey Department of Community Affairs' board hearing on the $8,772,000 bond, including $8,333,400 worth of notes. The LFB approved the bond issue before Warren, Mays, Finance Director Adrian Mapp and Chief Financial Officer Joy Liscari. Council Budget Consultant Deitier Lerch sent a letter of recommendation to the LFB.

Mays was also responding to an alternative to bonding presented by resident Katherine Gordon. Gordon, citing the $439,100 in interest the city would have to pay bankers, suggested paying for the said equipment through a capital spending schedule.
"Just think of what that $400,000 can be put to instead of interest," said Gordon during the public hearing's public speaker portion. "It could mean getting that fire engine in a year or the ladder truck every other year."

What prompted a majority of the council to table the bond issue one more time, however, is the lack of a bonding document as indicated by hardware store owner Jeffery Feld.

"I want to know what the bond counsel says about this," said Feld. "I don't know if the bonds are going to be privately sold to a bank or the state - or offered to the public. The last time we had a bond issue, in 2009, it started as a private sale to a bank but the state bought the bonds at a lower interest rate."

Council President Donna K. Williams suggested tabling the ordinance until the bond counsel appears June 26. At-Large Councilwoman April Gaunt-Butler moved for tabling, which outgoing East Ward colleague Linda Jones-Bell seconded.
Gaunt-Butler, Jones-Bell, Williams and at-large Councilman Elroy Corbitt voted to table. Eason and outgoing South Ward Councilman Edward Marable, Jr. voted against tabling. Outgoing West Ward Councilman Hassan Abdul-Rasheed was absent from his last scheduled council meeting.

High turnout for Obamacare registration under East Orange General Hospital's Watch

DSC_0932On March 22, 2014 East Orange General Hospital held their registration campaign for the last remaining days before the March 31, 2014 Affordable Healthcare Act deadline. Hundreds of people came before the opening time at 10 a.m. at East Orange Campus High School for registration. They all prepared to register and brought with them the required documents like their last 3 pay stubs or W-2 form or wage statement, social security number, and health insurance plan if any were through an employer.
When I left the place at about 12:00 noon, there were over 168 persons signed up for registration and a few where standing in line. The momentum was there for registration. All registration tables were full. Everyone was talking about how much they were excited to see people continuously coming for registration. I call it a success.
Ron Stevens, Sales Executive from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, gave insight into his company's involvement with the signup.
"Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is here to help people get enrolled in health plans before the March 31st deadline. We're educating the public on plans Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield offers and what they're entitled to inter terms of tax credits and tax subsidies from the federal government.
"The advantage is that the Federal government is making health care affordable by lowering out of pocket costs for consumers. The disadvantage is that if they don't have health insurance, it limits their access to care when medical services are needed. There's also the disadvantage of having to pay the penalty that will be assessed to them from the federal government if they do not sign up for coverage before the March 31st deadline. The penalty varies, $95 for a single person or one percent of their income, whichever is higher."
When asked about why young people should get coverage even though they may not need to see a doctor, Stevens responded, "Insurance is insurance. You never really need it until something happens. Preventative services, and finding out things before things get serious, that's very important to them."
Ophelia at the Family Health Center spoke on how patients deal with primary doctors.
"We get patients enrolled with a primary doctor, and if it's a lady, we get them enrolled in the OB-GYN clinic at the Family Health Center. We set appointments with patients and send reminder cards as well. Once they get to the appointment desk, if the doctor refers them to a specialist, an appointment will be made on the patient's behalf."
"It's a matter of people's rights to have decent healthcare," a representative for the People's Organization for Progress and the NAACP said. "There's no reason why the United States can't afford affordable healthcare for their citizens. It should be a right."
Nelson D. Rodriguez, Individual Account Executive at AmeriHealth, gave his company's involvement in the healthcare push.
"We're one of three companies that work with the Affordable Care Act. We're actually getting a lot of individuals that come out of East Orange General, and letting them know about the insurances...I see the ACA as bringing services that are needed in the community. It's not a good choice to go around living without health insurance. There will be a plan for you."
When asked why there was no transparency in terms of the rates from the insurance companies, he answered, "It goes by individuals. You can't have one specific chart for everybody. If you're 23, you might be different from someone 52. Each company is different, so each company has different services being provided. We have a plan online."
This open enrollment at East Orange Campus High School by East Orange General Hospital was in partnership with Caribbean Medical Mission, City of East Orange, FamilyCare, Happy Bands Foundation, Jamaica Organization of New Jersey, Coalition of Caribbean American Commission, Elmwood United Presbyterian Church, Grenadian American Organization of NJ, Guyana American Heritage Foundation, Help Jamaica Medical Mission, Hispanics For Progress, Jamaica Nurses Association, and the NAACP of Oranges & Maplewood.
East Orange General Hospital also represented the World Health Organization's motto of "Save Lives, Clean Your Hands" very prominently. They were giving out hand sanitizers to the visitors.

Orange Cheerleading Squad Wins International Competition

FabulouCity_1ORLANDO, FL. - On March 13 and 14, 2014, FabulouCity All-Stars school competitive cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance from Orange, New Jersey attended the UCA International All-Star cheerleading competition in Orlando, Florida. The entire gym had to receive a bid to attend. FabulouCity received the bid when they attended cheer camp during the summer of 2013 in Pennsylvania.

The members of the gym then went on to compete this past weekend for a chance to win an International Championship title. It was a great experience competing up against a large amount of teams from all across the country including but not limited Costa Rica and Ecuador. After two tough days of competition FabulouCity All-Stars of Orange, NJ ended up in first place both days. The members of the gym were awarded a 3.5 foot trophy, and International Championship jackets for the members and coaches.

This was a great success for all of the members of the gym who reside in the Essex and Hudson county area. FabulouCity All-Stars gym encourages youth to focus their lives in a positive way. The gym teaches them to be competitive, social and productive members of society that are exposed to a wide variety of people and cultures that exist outside of their city limits.

For more information, please contact December Moore at 973-698-7318 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Eogh's Dr. Clark honored for service

Members of East Orange General Hospital and the Caribbean Medical Mission of New Jersey honored one of their own - Dr. Alan Clark -here in the hospital's East Pavilion Cafe Six Feb. 26. Picture_128

Dr. Clark, before a dinner audience of at least 55, received the CMMoNJ's Humanitarian Award. The 45-year physician was being hailed by the mission's officers for "his outstanding dedication in serving those most vulnerable and less fortunate during his career."

Both EOGH President and CEO Kevin Slavin and mission president Dr. Winston Scott - who were among those who braved the around-zero degree weather that Wednesday night - presented the award to Dr. Clark.

"There's no better word than 'Dedicated,' to describe Dr. Alan Clark," said Slavin. "His outstanding record of care, service and compassion for all people here at East Orange and communities beyond are testimony to what it means to be a physician."

Dr. Alan O. Clark came to EOGH in 1969 as a physician who became one of the hospital's four certified neurologists. The Howard University School of Medicine Class of 1961 graduate later added addiction and neurological surgery as his specialties. Dr. Clark practices from EOGH's East Pavilion and its Medical Arts Building plus an office at 185 Central Ave.

Dr. Clark has also been a CMMoNJ member from its 1996 start - which is where Slavin's "communities beyond" remark gains its focus.

The mission, according to its own material, began 18 years ago with a nucleus of six local physicians and two registered nurses. Their goal was to provide "adequate dental, gynecological, medical, ophthalmological and surgical supplies and services" mainly among the Caribbean islands.
The mission's doctors and their supporters sent supplies and/or their services to places like Belize, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria. Recent trips included an Aug. 11-19 mission to Jamaica and a 2011 trip to Belize. (The latter visit included sending a dental lab.)

The mission has also supplied cash and supplies to the victims of hurricanes Ivan and Katrina. Such supplies include - but are not limited to - millions of dollars' worth of beds, blood pressure glucose monitors, books, clothing, computers, eyeglasses, medicine, medical equipment, wheelchairs and X-ray film processors.

The mission's "Endeavor to Serve the Needy" includes sponsoring and holding health fairs across the state - including East Orange, Irvington, Newark, Orange, Camden, Plainfield and Somerset. Its local aspect may also be found among its board of trustees and executive committee; many of its medical, clergy and lay people live and/or practice within the "Local Talk" area.

CMMoNJ, besides holding a humanitarian awards dinner, conducts other fundraisers throughout the year.

The mission, for example, held its 10th annual black tie gala dinner dance at Totowa's Bethwood Dec. 13. A white tie Hudson River cruise was held July 20.

Details on the 501(c) (3) organization may be found at cmmonj.org or caribbeanmedicalmissionnj.org. It shares a 12 Krotik Pl., Irvington address with Dr. Rudolph Willis' Irvington Emergent Care.

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