March 28, 2012

Verona Superintendent Hosts Forum on Schools

At last night’s forum held at H.B.Whitehorne Middle School, Superintendent Steven Forte lauded the district’s accomplishments, presented the school board’s budget and offered his vision for the future.

Forte began the evening by recognizing Verona High School’s impressive ranking, 53, out of 322 high schools in the state, and touting the district’s award-winning music program and comprehensive world language program. He noted these factors contribute to a well-rounded individual, which is a quality not reflected in standardized test scores.

Forte was also pleased with the significant rise in the number of students enrolled in advanced placement courses this year. Students in the program now number 260 up from 180 last year, he said.

While Forte seemed impressed with the schools’ achievements thus far, he is not one to remain content for long.

March 28, 2012

Verona Town Council Introduces 2012 Budget

Despite efforts to come in under budget this year, unexpected costs stemming from both natural disasters and economic issues left a half-million dollar hole in the Verona Township budget, officials said Monday night.

While the $21-million budget is essentially the same as last year, according to township officials, damages and cleanup from Hurricane Irene and the October snowstorm have left the gap and will cause a tax increase for residents unless the township receives funding from FEMA.

March 28, 2012

Township Moving Ahead with Plans to Redevelop Bahr Lumber Yard

The Verona Township Council meeting was fast and efficient last night with all five resolutions approved and adopted and plans for the redevelopment of the Bahr Lumber yard moving forward.

The Bahr property will be discussed at the next planning board meeting, which has been pushed back from its originally scheduled date this Thursday to March 1.

Township Engineer Jim Helb said a single lot on the south side of the lumber yard is up for redevelopment and the board is accepting applications. He encouraged residents to visit his office to view the plans prior to the meeting, which will be held at the Verona Community Center at 7:30 p.m.

“Anyone can come to the public works office to review the plans,” Helb said, noting the plans have been available for several weeks.

March 13, 2012

Anthony Robert Salon Gets Even More ‘Jerseylicious’

The "Jerseylicious" cast: Tracy DiMarco, Anthony Lombardi and Gigi Liscio. Credit: The Style Network/Timothy White.

To hear salon owner Anthony Lombardi speak, you’d never know he’s the star of the hit reality series “Jerseylicious.” He seems to have taken the seismic shift in his life and career all in stride.

The show’s popularity has catapulted this small-town salon owner into big-time celebrity and turned his new normal into a life of talk show interviews, public appearances and photo shoots not to mention several months of filming a year. Oh, and the actual business of running a salon.

If all that wasn’t enough, Lombardi is also in the middle of opening a brand new, cavernous space just up the block from his current location in Verona. The new salon, to be located at 277 Bloomfield Avenue, is slated to open in April.

Now entering its fourth season, the show propelling Lombardi’s expansion has been a hit for the Style Network from the very start when it won the channel its best ever ratings for a new show among women age 18 to 49. Since then, “Jerseylicious” has gone on to win close to 10 million viewers and has become the network’s number one series.

March 13, 2012

Sex Secret Revealed

Did I get your attention? Good. But this isn’t that kind of story.

It’s actually a story about a family, this time from the UK, who chose to keep their baby’s sex a secret for five years. Through the baby’s infancy, toddlerhood and all the way up until “it” was about to enter elementary school the parents, Beck Laxton and Kieran Cooper, referred to their child as “the infant” and only told a few close friends and family members the sex of the child.

But five years later the secret’s out. And it’s a boy!

March 13, 2012

Mom Seeking Moms to Share Their Stories

New mom and writer, radio producer and Montclair resident, Hillary Frank, is calling on other mothers (and dads) for her newly launched blog and podcast, The Longest Shortest Time. Her site vows to tell “the truth about early motherhood,” and, Frank hopes, to create a space for new mothers and those about to become new mothers to find support and help through those first long days of motherhood.

Frank became a new mother herself about a year ago when her daughter, Sasha, was born on a snowy winter day in February. At the time Frank had been a freelancing radio producer for such national shows as This American LifeMorning EditionAll Things ConsideredStudio 360 and Marketplace. She was used to hustling for work, but her pace slowed as her belly grew.

“As I became more and more pregnant, I started to shave off more work,” Frank said. “When I came back I shaved off more and more until I had none.”

March 13, 2012

Local Adoptee Shares Her Story in New Memoir

Montclair resident, adoption-advocate, and author Zara Phillips just released the American version of her adoption memoir, Mother Me, after having previously published it in her native England. It hit bookshelves here yesterday, Valentines Day.

Phillips’s book chronicles her journey to discover the truth about her birth and herself. Although Phillips knew she was adopted ever since early childhood, it was something that was never spoken about.

“Yes, you know, but don’t tell anybody,” Phillips recalled of the prevailing sentiment in 1964 when she was adopted. “I could never talk about being adopted.”

March 13, 2012

Verona School District’s Next Challenge: After-Care

Verona School District Superintendent Steven Forte considers himself a “very competitive person,” something that makes any undertaking he’s involved with a personal challenge.

Forte’s next challenge is looking into the possibility of moving the district’s current after-care program now run by the Montclair YMCA under the control of the district, something he believes the district can run better and maybe even turn a profit.

In the short time Forte has been at his post he has taken on the issue of extended kindergarten, arranged for college courses to be taught at the high school, sought to overhaul the district’s technological infrastructure and is now contemplating taking control of the after-care program.

Up to the challenge

These issues, rather than appear daunting to Forte, pose challenges, and he seems up for it.

March 13, 2012

Mother Writes Memoir on Raising Three Kids with Autism

Parenting one kid even on the best of days is hard enough, but author and autism advocate Kim Stagliano has raised three, all with autism. Stagliano shares her experience on December 8 at Watchung Booksellers when she discusses her book,  All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Teresa, a memoir about “raising children with autism and laughing your way through it.”

Stagliano has certainly faced her fair share of challenges in raising three severely disabled daughters. Still, she sees the comedy in it.

“I want people to laugh and see the humor of the book.”

Humor that’s evident in the way Stagliano braves even the most taxing of situations. In describing the difficulties of potty training one daughter who forgets to flush while attempting to keep her other daughter, who is drawn to water of any kind, away from the toilet, she coined the term “crapisode.”

March 7, 2012

Full-day Kindergarten May Become a Reality in Verona

Although parents of preschoolers in Verona have been petitioning for full-day kindergarten periodically over the years, next year just might be their breakthrough year.

A determined group of parents have recently organized  to raise the issue once more, and this time their proposal is quickly gaining traction.

“We have taken it the furthest than any other group has in the past,” said Crystal Bichalski who along with Dana Wynne initiated the movement for full-day kindergarten. “We are committed to this.”

After both women’s children entered kindergarten this year the two started conducting their own informal poll of parents at school pick-up times. They found an interest existed among other parents in town and approached the new Superintendent of Schools Steven Forte. With scarcely a month on the job, Forte heard the group out and took action. He consented to working toward a change if the group, now known as Full Day K for Verona, NJ, could demonstrate enough support for the measure.